My Cinderella Story

“Impossible things are happening every day” – Rogers and Hammerstein

“Cinderella” was my very first musical. I had auditioned for our community theatre several times before, but had never been cast. Something clicked in my brain though, the end of my eighth grade year, about the energy required for a successful audition. I sang “Wouldn’t it be Loverly.” And I sold it, man. I was cast in the ensemble. And the rest was history.

It seems appropriate, then, that my first 5k would also be a Cinderella theme. Here I am with my medal. So cute, right?

20140317-153524.jpg

And while they are different versions of the same story, they both seem fitting. Wanting something so badly that seemed out of reach. The R&H version of the story features a song of hope. The Fairy Godmother sings that “impossible things are happening every day.”

Yesterday was no exception.

I finished C25K.

I wrote in January about my desire to complete the program. True, the actual 5k was almost a month ago. The hype and promise of a medal and location helped me push through. Running through Epcot Center at sunrise is considerably more interesting that running on the treadmill at the YMCA.

But yesterday I finished the 24th workout. Yep. I did all 24. In order. As designed. And I’m here to tell you. It worked.

Two months ago I could hardly run for a minute at a time. And now I can go out for a 30-minute jog. It. Worked.

I CAN breathe. My legs WILL hold out. This program breaks it down into baby steps. Which I still hate. But I guess they work or something.

The only thing to do now is keep going. 10k Lent Project, here I come!

Note: I have already started the project. But now I get to move from the 5k training to the 10k training. 18 work-outs in 35 days. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

And one additional note: Those of you who were following my Flylady progress. I have been running a lot more than flying. My sink is still shiny. But as for the rest… Let’s hope the running success inspires some cleaning success.

The Fog

My first year of teaching I had this principal who was kinda goofy. One time he stopped me in the hallway- called out my name from fairly far away- to tell me he loved fish sandwiches. He was just… goofy. But he used a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my teaching career.

The Februaries.

Any teacher knows what I’m talking about here. Christmas vacation is long over. Spring break is far away. (Although here on the East Coast we get February Break too. Probably so we don’t kill each other during the Februaries.) The weather is awful. Everyone is sick. Skies are grey. Kids are grouchy. Teachers are grouchy too. And parents. Everyone is grouchy.

The Februaries are ROUGH. And we’re dealing with it big time at our house. Lily and I have been sick for two weeks. If we have another snow day I’m gonna scream. She gets angry and throw things. I cry. Ugh. How long until spring?

But for me, there’s a lot more going on.

I call it “The Fog.”

The fog is my most difficult, and most common depression symptom. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. The problem is that when I’m in the fog, the last thing I want to do is write. And when I’m out of it, I don’t want to think about it.

So this may be a little more stream-of-consciousness than I usually like. But here goes.

When I’m in The Fog, communication is difficult. I’m thinking about a lot of things. All at once. But they’re big concepts or dreams. Details are tough. So I start ignoring them. I abandon my calendar. I have trouble answering or even reading emails. I feel just slightly removed from the world. I CAN break through. But it is very, very difficult and completely exhausting. Sleep is comforting because I can lose myself in dreams completely.

But here’s the important thing about The Fog. When I’m there, I don’t feel “depressed.” Honestly. Nothing is wrong. I’m not sad. Just sort of lost in thought. In fact, once I’m out of The Fog, I’m often ready to take on one of the projects that was brewing. I’m guessing that an awful lot of artists spend a significant amount of time in The Fog.

But it can really be a problem after a while. Because I don’t want to deal with day-to-day details. Routines go out the window. I stop doing the things I KNOW I must do in order to fight depression. Check my calendar. Shine my sink. Declutter every day. Yes, those are to keep the household running well. But more importantly they keep ME running well. And then I’m sitting there in a mess with stuff everywhere and no clean clothes to wear and missing appointments and bills that need to be paid.

Routines are key to getting through The Fog. And they are the last thing I want to think about.

I’ve been in The Fog for a few weeks now. I was doing so well with shining my sink each night (over a month straight without missing a night) and running nearly every day and updating my blog. And then it all just…. Stopped.

We’ll be in Florida next week. My hope is that the Florida sunshine will break through The Fog and I’ll be back. Back to cleaning, back to blogging, back to life. I’ll have pictures and videos for Lily’s Challenge and entertaining, informative Disneyworld stories and I’ll tell you all about the 5k and show you all the things I’ve decluttered.

But today I’m going to eat some cookies and see how far I can get in Candy Crush.

Breaking the Surface: Adventures in Decluttering

This is the worst it has ever been.

I know I’ve said that about the apartment before. And it’s been bad before. In fact, I often use this picture as a profile pic.

20140127-211647.jpg

It’s a silly picture I took of Barbie on the bathroom floor. I looked down. I saw her. And I was like yeah, Barbie. Me too. Drowning in clutter.

So it’s always been bad. But now it’s worse.

The other night Ryan said, “I want to set up a time-release camera to see how this happens.”

I know how it happens. And I told him so.

We. Have. Too. Much. Stuff.

Over the last few weeks I have been following Flylady’s advice and developing a new habit. I’ve been shining my sink every night. I’ve shined my sink every night for the past twenty nights. If I shine my sink that day, I get to call it a success. More on that here. And I have to say, I’ve done better at this than any other little “start a new habit” challenge I’ve tried in the past.

So I’m ready to start the next one. Technically it’s not February until the end of the week. But I’m starting now for three reasons.
1. We’ll be in Florida for a week in February. Sure, I can work on it in our little cabin. But to make it a full month, I need to start early.
2. I was tripping over things and couldn’t take it any more.
3. I get it. The reason it’s Shine Your Sink and THEN Declutter and never Clean Your Entire Home Right Now. And that’s the part of the battle I kept losing before.

I’m usually pretty open about things. But it’s so bad I’m not even willing to share pictures. I present to you, then, an artistic representation of our home throughout this New Habit process.

First, here’s what the apartment looked like after the holidays.

20140128-121312.jpg

Next, this is what it looked like yesterday morning after 20 days of a shiny sink. (That’s the little silver star. I’m very proud of myself.)

20140128-121428.jpg

Then yesterday I was teaching a piano lesson at home. There was no way I could have people see this. So I followed the directions for Crisis Cleaning. I’ve tried this method before with mixed results. This is the first time I’ve followed the directions completely. And after six hours, my home looked like this.

20140128-121620.jpg

Better, right? It really is better to have that living room so clean. Ryan and Lily were THRILLED. And a I was proud to have done it.

But here’s the problem. It’s the same amount of stuff. Just squished together. And THAT is the issue. Too much stuff.

I get why the Shiny Sink is the first habit. And I’ll write more about that on my final Follow-Up Friday for that habit. But it’s time to Declutter.

I started in the kitchen because it is the easiest, emotionally. That has mold on it. Toss it. I also solicited help from the rest of the family. Lily loves to toss the recycling into that grocery cart. After just a few minutes, this is what was evicted from our living space.

20140128-122345.jpg
(Don’t worry, friends. That’s just the box from Catch Phrase. Not the game. I got that version of the game in 1998. The box is no longer a box. But the game remains one of the most hysterical sources of late night entertainment ever. We’re keeping the game. Just tossing the box.)

Today’s challenge: my car. Because I can’t put the “Give Away” items in a car full of trash. I’ll keep posting pics every Friday on the blog. But if you want to see the daily progress follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or tumblr ๐Ÿ™‚

Follow-Up Friday: My Two Healthy Lungs

Boy. Accountability is important- Amiright?
Earlier today I was thinking about my follow-up entry for this week. I thought about all those rejections and how I still had so many agents I hadn’t queried. And then I realized I had managed to avoid it all since last Friday (aside from the rejections I got throughout the week, which were promptly deleted). I didn’t want to tell my tens of readers that I’d been a gutless slacker. So I sent out a few. Thirteen, to be exact. Queries are so easy to send. And they are also very hard.
My query count now stands at 113. Just keep swimming.
My Shiny Sink Streak, on the other hand, is a little more encouraging. I have shined my sink every night for seventeen nights. It very nearly feels like a habit. In fact, I am really looking forward to starting the next habit: decluttering. I’m so anxious that I’m going to start a bit early. More on that on Monday.
But what I really want to talk about today is my c25k progress.
For some reason, the five-minute intervals intimidated me. It’s so silly. Five minutes? Really, Mindy? You can run for 5 minutes.
And I’ve run much longer than that before. It just felt like a random scary barrier. It’s the interval that tests my lungs a bit. Makes my breathing a little more difficult. Makes me fight to keep my breaths measured.
I knew this would be the week I’d either bust through it or give up.
Between snow days and holidays, my schedule has been sort of a wreck since last Friday. I only ran twice. The first time was Tuesday, when I ran Day 3 Week 3. Easy peazy. But I knew that five-minute interval was coming. Then on Tuesday night I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I saw a post from a friend. He shared his workout from MapMyRun. No biggie. People do it every day.
Except.
Wait. Didn’t this dude just have a double lung transplant?
Yes. He sure did. I don’t know him well at all. We met at a party and become connected on Facebook. But I prayed for him during his surgery. I was so relieved to see a post the next day that was from him. He was alive and breathing. With two new lungs.
I remember reading his posts during the holiday season. It is January. Dude just got two new lungs, and he’s running. Not fast. Not far. But he’s running.
Um, what was my problem again?
Absolutely nothing.
I may only have this year and next year to run before I am in the Masters Division. (Seriously. Seriously? Seriously.) But I healthy. I am a former college cheerleader. I am a professional singer with healthy lungs and excellent breathing technique. I weigh 110 pounds. (Yes, it is about 10 more pounds than I prefer. But it is not a lot to carry around. Also, if you don’t know me personally, I am 4’10” so if you have any anti-skinny comments you can save them KThanxBye) I am young and strong and healthy and have no excuses. Seriously, none.
So I ran on Wednesday. And I busted through that five-minute interval. And it was no big deal. I will do it again tomorrow. And four weeks from today, I will run a 5k at Epcot Center.
Because I can.

Follow-Up Friday #1: Shiny Sink, C25k, and Queries- Oh, My!

It’s been a rough week. We’ve had financial struggles and I have PMS and I’m grouchy. And getting a handful of rejections every day doesn’t help.

But you know what? I’m calling this week a win. Because I’ve reached my goals so far. Here’s the update.

Shiny Sink Streak

10. Going on 11 in a few minutes ๐Ÿ™‚
The shiny sink has been a huge success so far. I’ve taken it literally and only worried about shining the sink. But just as Flylady intended, it’s pretty easy to do the dishes when the sink is empty. And it looks so clean. I want the clean to spread. So I clean. It’s been ten days, and I have a pretty well-functioning kitchen. Shiny Sink Streak. Eleven days of winning.

C25K

Speaking of winning….

I just finished Week 3, Day 2. I’ve done 8 workouts of the 24- 1/3 of the way there! I’ve found it pretty easy to work into my schedule. Every day is too much. I know I want to spend Saturdays and Sundays with my family. And I know my Wednesdays are cray-cray. But Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I can find time pretty consistently. This is the first time in my adult life that I have found a workout schedule that feels sustainable. And that is HUGE.

As for the workouts themselves, they also feel manageable. I’m sweating and working hard and feel a little challenged but not overwhelmed. C25K. Eight workouts of winning.

Queries
Rejection is hard. It’s really hard. And it makes me want to quit, even though I’m less than halfway through my list. (Things I also know: I only need one “yes,” and a “yes” takes longer than a “no.” Still sucks.) I pushed through, though, and sent a few more so I could say I reached a milestone. Queries. 100 sent. Feeling meh.

Off to shine my sink!

Also, this happened two nights ago.

20140117-224533.jpg
It has nothing to do with any of the above except that it has everything to do with everything. Happy Weekend, everybody.

All I Really Need to Know…

… I learned from ignoring the chaos in everything but the kitchen sink.

Hmmm. That might not be how that saying goes.

But it’s how I’m feeling today.

(Originally posted January 18, 2011 on blogspot.)

I’ve been keeping that sink shiny for a few days. And here’s what I’m learning so far.

*Clean can spread just like dirty does. My clean has spread out across the counter, over the refrigerator (inside and out) and wrapped around to include the stove. But I keep going back to that sink as a home base. Which brings me to…

*It matters that it’s the kitchen sink. This is not random. I didn’t get that before. I can’t do the dishes if the sink isn’t clean. And if I’m going to clean the kitchen, I’m obviously going to do some dishes. And it feels silly to spend money on groceries and put them into a cluttered, dirty refrigerator. I won’t be able to see what I have. And in order to clean out the refrigerator, I’ll be… washing some dishes.

*Baby steps are smaller than I thought. I am an accomplished woman. I’m highly educated. I look at my CV, and I’m impressed with myself. I am often a leader among women, and sometimes among men if they can get over themselves for two seconds. But “jump in wherever you are” doesn’t mean what I thought it meant. I always interpreted it as “start today doing the routines you’ve already established for yourself.” Which is fine. If I am healthy. But when I’m not, those routines are far too overwhelming, and I just give up. It’s not “jump in where the routines are.” It’s “jump in where YOU are.” And where I am is, frankly, dealing with a chronic disease that happens to be flaring up right now. I can’t look at a day’s-worth of routines. But I can look at the top shelf of the refrigerator. And after that, I might be able to look at the next shelf. And if I can’t, I’ll do it tomorrow and celebrate that really clean top shelf.

*Baby steps lead to more baby steps. I’ll probably be able to look at that next shelf. Because the one thing I need in dealing with depression is to feel good about myself. In the past few days, I’ve looked at a few career things that I’ve been ignoring for a while. (Obviously I am ready to take the performing arts education world by storm, as I have a clean sink. I’m thinking of adding THAT to my CV.) And of course, dealing with things in my career, a place where I’ve had success… makes me feel better about myself. And just like that, another refrigerator shelf is clean.

*Sometimes I need to put the blinders on. I’m writing all of this from a living room that is an absolute disaster. Anyone with a toddler knows that this can happen pretty quickly, but it’s been like this for days. If I were at my healthiest, I would jump in and get it done. But that’s not where I am this week. Instead, I need to remind myself that the clean has spread. And eventually, it will spread to the living room. And I need to be nice to myself, and celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

*I have learned these lessons over and over, and will have to learn them again in the future. That’s why it’s called chronic. It keeps happening. And I need to be patient about that.

Reminding you, once again, that these are Flylady’s ideas. www.flylady.com ๐Ÿ™‚

The Shiny Sink Strikes- Well, Shines- Again

(Originally posted January 16, 2011 on blogspot.)

20130826-225554.jpg

I started following Flylady several years ago. And, as my last post stated, her methods often work for me. But her very first step- the Shiny Sink- I just… didn’t get it. My apartment (and my life, or so it feels) is such a mess. Why in the world would I care if my kitchen sink shines?

And then yesterday, I was having another one of my… difficult times. For reasons I fully understand but don’t need to disclose, my depression has gotten quite bad of late. It was bad enough that Ryan made plans for us to visit friends in Long Island just so I could get out. But there were hours before we left, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Ryan needed to take a nap while Lily slept, as he had been doing most of the child-rearing for a few days. And I started to get really nervous that I was going to have to entertain myself for a few minutes while he slept. I didn’t want to watch TV, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I had already taken a shower, I just… didn’t know what to do.

And that’s when I thought of the Shiny Sink. Flylady has never really steered me wrong. I could give it a try, I suppose. So I looked up the Shiny Sink instructions. Step One, take the dishes out of the sink. You know what? I can handle that. I can take the dishes out of the sink.

And so I did.

And I’m also capable of filling the sink with hot water and adding some bleach.

And so I did.

After that it was just a matter of waiting an hour. And the hour was a little easier since Lily woke up and needed a bath.

And the last steps were easy. And they make the sink look really really shiny as promised.

And so we left to visit our friends, and I knew I had done something with my day. Something tiny. But something.

My shiny sink was calling me today. I wasn’t feeling much better, and Lily and Ryan were cuddling on the couch watching Fraggle Rock. I wanted to make the cleanliness spread a little. So I unloaded the dishwasher. (although I have no idea who loaded it and ran it. It certainly wasn’t me.) And then I took a few dishes, rinsed them, and put them into the dishwasher. And I did it again. And before long, I had six square inches of empty counter space. I was so proud of it that I sprayed it with cleaner and wiped it down.

And now, I have six square inches of clean, next to my shiny sink.

And this might seem like the most boring, tedious blog ever. But the truth is that it was really hard for me to do anything on my own. And emptying the dishwasher was a victory. And so was rinsing those dishes.

And THAT is why Flylady encourages people to shine their sinks. I sort of kind of get it now. And encourage you to shine YOUR sink. And check out Flylady at her website!

*A video of my most recent Shiny Sink effort- in fifteen seconds. Includes a little kiddo room straightening while it soaked, and a well-deserved beverage ๐Ÿ™‚

%d bloggers like this: