BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Spring Renewal

Mixed-Color-TulipsToday being Easter I can’t help but think of renewal. I’m not a Christian, but I do understand the significance of this day, and of the concept of resurrection. I find the idea that people can get another chance, even after death, uplifting- as do countless believers. While I’m not in the running for an eternal heavenly placement, I would like yet another chance here on earth.

I’m taking this opportunity to do some spring cleaning of various sorts. First there’s the bodily spring cleaning that needs to be done. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with my doctor to review some lab reports. They were standard, nothing too worrisome, yet once again they pointed out that I’m stressing my body in ways that it doesn’t like.

Diet and exerciseFewer calories, more exercise. Fewer sweets, more fruits and vegetables. Fewer stressors and more physical activities. I know all of this, and yet, here I am again, back where I began. Don’t believe me? Check out the 47 for 47 page that appeared last July. My progress has been poor, but I’m going to print out another check sheet and see if I can’t turn things around. I know my cheerleaders are here to help me, as always.

Another clean up project involves the blog. Not cleaning up, exactly, but straightening up. I almost deleted the projects page, until I realized that I still have projects to share, they’re just different than I originally anticipated.  I’ve also included a Best of BB page so you can quickly find posts that others have found noteworthy. I do appreciate shares and reblogs, as long as you link back here, so by all means have at it.

Finally there’s the house. The blasted, blessed house. I’ve been working on cleaning and staging it so I can sell it at last. Today we did some landscaping touch ups, and it looks quite lovely, if I do say so myself. Yesterday we took another walk though one that I quite like, even if it does need some TLC. C’mon house, SELL!

So, in the spirit of new life, new growth, and renewal in general, I wish you a happy spring, and a season of joy and love.

 


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Fighting Discouragement

If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

We’ve all heard this bit of advice at one time or another, and in general it seems to work out pretty well most of the time. In fact it’s the general principle I’ve been following lately in terms of blog writing.

It isn’t that I don’t have anything nice to say. There are nice things that happen every day and I could spend a few minutes sharing them with you and spreading good feelings across the internet, but I don’t. I’m far too distracted right now.

I want to be positive. I like to think I’m generally a positive person. My outlook on life isn’t grim. I see the silver lining inside most clouds, and I try not to let the bastards get me down. My dad taught me that one. It’s just that I’ve been fighting discouragement lately.

I try to shut out the negative messages that creep into my brain, and for the most part, I’m pretty good at it. So good, in fact, that I manage to sabotage my efforts at self care on a pretty regular basis. Those conversations can go something like this:blaircandy_2090_453670552

“Jeez, you’re really lazy and blowing up like a balloon.”

“Shut up and pass the Cadbury mini-eggs.”

“Okay.”

Not too productive, right? Lately though, the inner critic is being pretty persistent, and, in my opinion, quite reasonable. Damn her. Now she’s saying things like this:

“The house has been on the market a little too long. There’s a construction site across the street. Maybe you’re priced a little too high.”

She’s right, of course.

CoronakitchenA

This is not my actual display. I don’t have leaves or fake food in mine.

I tried shutting her up by telling her that if I just put some nice hand towels in the bathrooms the house would sell right away. It didn’t. Then I told her that the bright new pillows on the couch would work. They didn’t. After that it was the artful display consisting of a Williams Sonoma cookbook strategically placed on the counter along with a few pie making supplies (I swear, it looks better than it sounds). Nope.

It’s not the house. It’s not the staging. It’s the damn construction. I can’t do a thing about it, and it’s making me discouraged. There, I said it.

I could take the house off the market, wait until the building is done, and start all over again after the weather cools off a bit (I don’t want to move in 100 degree plus heat if I can avoid it). Or I could wait until the building is done, then decide if I really want to move at all. I honestly don’t want to do either of these options.

I want to sell this house. I have loved it, but now I’m ready for a change. I’ve found a house in the neighborhood I like, and I’m ready to go. All I need to do is sell this one. It’s clean, it’s ready to go, but nobody can see past that construction. There’s only one thing left to do. Tonight I did it. The price is coming down again.

Somebody with a little foresight is going to get a great deal on a great house. It will not face a construction zone forever. It will face a gated community of single story dwellings. It won’t be awful. It will be brand new, and nicely landscaped. Somebody will enjoy it very much. Until then, I have to remain positive. Positive that this week that somebody will make me an offer I can’t refuse.


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This Could Be the One

House-Cleaning-1My house has been on the market for almost 7 weeks. I’m told the current average time on the market is around 11 weeks. I wish to beat that time, but I can only do so much.

I got a call earlier this evening from a realtor who would like to bring her client by tomorrow. Yay. It’s been several days since anyone has looked at the house. If they don’t come, they won’t buy. A showing is a good thing, and I’m happy that there’s one scheduled.

I’m also tired of it. Not of the showings, exactly, just of the preparation. With every showing there’s a renewed flurry of activity, in addition to the already expanded daily routine. I know I should quit complaining about it, but it’s wearing on me.

I’m starting to feel even more like a nagging mother than usual. “Make your bed, put away your laundry, dust your bookshelves, clean your toilet.” On and on it goes. I don’t like being this kind of mom. I don’t want to freak out if there are fingerprints on my son’s bathroom mirror or if he leaves a pair of socks in the hopefully named “media” room (aka spare bedroom). Both of those things happened today, and I found myself relieved that nobody saw the house in “that” condition. I want us to be able to relax a little and not stress out over trash cans with trash in them or the occasional book or magazine left on a side table.

For now, though, we have to keep tidy. Whether we realize it or not people make decisions based on irrelevant stimuli all the time. I don’t need anyone deciding that this house is wrong for them because there’s a toothpaste tube on the vanity or the shower curtain hasn’t been closed. Stupid stuff, but the brain works in mysterious ways, and I don’t want to give anyone’s brain any reason to say no to this house.

I’m guilty of these silly judgements myself. I know that when I tour homes I want to see clean, tidy houses. I want it to be clear that the seller knows that they are trying to sell. I don’t want to be distracted by the age of the furniture or the color of the walls or the collection of judo trophies on a shelf.

Over the years, I have seen homes in all sorts of conditions, from vandalized, filthy, and falling apart wrecks to the beautifully designed model homes of top builders. My home is none of these, but with a lot of effort hopefully it is closer to the model type than the dump type.

This is a great house. It will make someone a great home. I think they may be stopping by tomorrow, so I have to go.  I want to make sure they feel welcome.


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My Buttons Are Still Bulging

b5b8a726fa0ece911dd398f8ec771afdIt occurs to me that this blog, which started off so hopeful and energetic, is taking a turn for the suck-ish. Sure, there are lots of you who read every post (or nearly every) and very often you leave helpful, encouraging feedback. I love you for it more than you will every know. But honestly, I’m afraid that lately I’m not giving you what you came for.

Bulging Buttons, the blog. I liked the sound of it. It neatly summed up my physical state in a way that was realistic, but not too harsh or judgmental. I started off strong. I was eating well (sometimes), working out (sometimes), and writing a lot. I had plans… big plans. Forty-seven of them, to be precise. I was going to get fit, dammit, and take you all along for the ride. Woo Hoo! Great plan right? Except it hasn’t happened.

As usual, life got in the way of my big plans. No, I’m not going to offer up lots of excuses. I really don’t have any. Nothing horrible has happened in my life over the past several months. In fact, it’s been rather fabulous. I’m enjoying my work, my relationship is great, and life in general is pretty darn good. Okay, so the house hasn’t sold as quickly as I might have liked, but really I’m ok. Considering that’s the biggest stress in my life, I’m doing just fine.

Now here comes the shocker. I’m still fat. Fatter than when I started the blog. My sneakers haven’t worn out, my jeans are tighter than ever, and my eating habits are once again horrific. I know better. I know that I’ll sleep better, I’ll look better, and I’ll feel better if I can just shake myself off and get going again. I know I’ll be a better role model and have more energy. I know I’ll like the way I look in the mirror better and I’ll dread going to the doctor less. I know, I know, I know. I also know that I’ll have more to write about for the folks who found encouragement in what I was doing right, back when I was doing it.

So here I go again, publicly declaring that I wish to improve my overall health and fitness through diet and exercise. UGH. I wish this was easy, but it isn’t. The beautiful thing is, I know I’m not alone, and I know you’re here to help cheer me on, not matter how badly I fail.


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April Affirmation – Or the Next Installment of “Sell This House”

We started with the February Focus, where we worked and cleaned and repaired and decluttered and replaced and updated and generally went nuts over our house. A new faucet went in, two new light fixtures were installed, and several hundred pounds of books and other items were either donated or taken to our storage facility. It was a chore, but we did it.

February turned to March, and we set off on our March Mission. We studied the real estate market in our area, went over comps with our realtor, and settled on a fair asking price. We filled out the appropriate paperwork, rewrote the realtor’s listing, and held our breath as the listing went live.

There have been showings scheduled, often times at the last minute. The house has been cleaner and tidier than it has ever been, including the day I bought it. There has not been a single dish left out, a single unmade bed, a single toothpaste speck on a mirror. Every morning blinds are opened, beds are made, sinks, counters, and toilets are touched up, and doors are opened wide. Music from an easy listening channel plays each day from the televisions throughout the house, making the atmosphere as inviting as a model home. Still, no bites.

This is the artist's drawing of the new homes being built near my house.

This is the artist’s drawing of the new homes being built near my house.

Ok, I know there’s a construction site out the front window. I do. I don’t like it that much either. So I did the research and found the preliminary layout and landscaping plan online. I printed it out, alongside a short article that explains the development. These two printouts are on my kitchen island, next to the lovely flyers my sweetheart created. Turns out that it’s a community of “Casita” style homes, all one story, mostly single units, but some side-by-side doubles. It looks likes it’s going to be hip and modern and lovely. You just can’t tell yet from the piles of dirt and heavy equipment out my front window.

Now it’s April, and I’m in the process of working on my April Affirmation. The house will sell soon at a reasonable price. This is the affirmation. In fact I even gave it a date. Tax day. Why not? We will have a reasonable offer by April 15. This is the revised affirmation. I need to believe this. I also need to consider adjusting the price. After all, you can’t fall in love with a house if you don’t come see it, and you won’t come see it if you think it’s out of your price range, right? So I’m giving this careful consideration, all the while repeating, “there will be a reasonable offer by April 15.”

If anyone would care to join in the positive thinking, I would be most grateful. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life saga.

 

 


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Sixteen Years Ago Tonight

16thbday-297x300Sixteen years ago tonight I was in my second long day of labor.

Sixteen years ago tonight I watched my then husband and my then mother-in-law play cards as they waited.

Sixteen years ago tonight I walked around the outside of the hospital grounds in two surgical gowns (one open in back, the other open in front) and a pair of tennis shoes.

Sixteen years ago tonight I was vaguely aware of the inaugural game of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.

Sixteen years ago tonight there was a commercial for a pesticide company on tv featuring a kitchen infested with roaches. I detest roaches.

Sixteen years ago tonight I was actually happy to have someone insert a needle into my back.

Sixteen years ago tonight I told my then husband that next time he would go through this experience instead of me. There was no next time.

Sixteen years ago tonight I worried that a child born on April First might be teased.

Sixteen years ago tonight I felt myself drifting above myself and hated the feeling. It passed before too long.

Sixteen years ago tonight I was attached to a heart rate monitor.

Sixteen years ago tonight the nurse couldn’t find a suitable vein in my arm so she used my hand and gave me a tremendous bruise.

Sixteen years ago tonight my mother and father came out in the middle of the night to see their first grandchild.

Sixteen years ago tonight I visualized my happy place, a warm jacuzzi surrounded by palm trees and clear blue skies.

Sixteen years ago tonight I was almost ready to give up on labor and ask for a c-section.

Sixteen years ago tonight I found my strength. I would need it for the days my baby was in the NICU.

Sixteen years ago tonight I thought I was ready.

Sixteen years ago tonight March became April, and I became a mother.


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Going to the Show – The Quilt Show, That Is

When I first moved out west I was working as a substitute teacher. I moved from school to school, grade to grade. I was seldom in the same school twice in a month. This type of existence didn’t allow me to make connections with others. I was a nomad. The only person I knew was my then-fiance, now former husband. I felt rootless, and it made me a little uncomfortable.

I had left behind my family and lifelong friends, and now there was just the two of us. We were more or less broke, so we weren’t exactly living the high life, but that was ok. What wasn’t ok was the sense of isolation that was starting to creep in. In those days the internet was in its infancy, and we certainly didn’t have it. Long distance phone calls cost a mint, and nobody had heard of texting. We were on our own.

I had always liked creating, and had taken an introductory quilt class from the adult ed department of a school district in my hometown. We did everything the old fashioned way, by hand, and I learned a lot. I decided that I would expand my horizons and head out to the local quilt shop in my new town. suzyLittle did I know that I had moved into a quilting mecca of sorts.

I walked in the shop and was awed. The bolts of fabric were proudly displayed around the perimeter of the store. There was display table after display table piled high with fat quarter bundles and baskets of goodies. Stunning quilts lined the walls and hung from the ceiling. I loved it. I was home.

I spent a long time going through that shop. I fondled the fabric, and browsed the books. I examined the samples and ogled the threads. I had been a sewer for a long time, and had all the basics, including a sewing machine, but I didn’t have a scrap of fabric.

Not my actual quilt, but very similar.

Not my actual quilt, but very similar.

As I said, we were on a budget, so I carefully weighed my options and eventually purchased a package of precut squares. They were a nice variety of prints and tone on tone fabrics. I also purchased a small amount of unbleached muslin to patch them together. I was delighted with my choices.

I went home and played around with those pieces until I was happy with their arrangement. I sewed them together with my sewing machine, then headed to the fabric store to find material for the outside border and back, plus some batting for the inside of the quilt. I purchased a deep green tone on tone print that I love to this day.

I quilted that first little quilt by hand, then bound it. I was hooked. I went back to the quilt shop and signed up for a class. It was incredible. My horizons expanded greatly. Then I learned that there were quilt groups that meet all over the state as part of a state wide quilt guild. I looked up my local chapter, took a deep breath, and walked in the door.

At that first meeting I was immediately greeted and warmly welcomed to the group. I jumped in with both feet, joining swaps, signing up for secret sisters, participating in workshops, and eventually becoming the chapter chairperson. I volunteered to serve as a traveling teacher, visiting chapters all over the state to teach them I project I had designed. I also joined the board of the state guild. It was busy and fun and I made so many friends. I also made a connection that led me to a full time position at our local university, which I held for seven years before returning to teaching.

Quilting saved me. It provided me with an incredibly fun and creative outlet, while also furnishing a way for me to connect to many other people. I formed lifelong friends, I took on challenges of organization and leadership that helped me to grow individually, and I made a heck of a lot of really nice quilts.

After my son was born, I had less time for these activities. I was a full time working mother, and I spent more time at home. I also returned to life in the classroom. I did still make quilts on my own, but I drifted away from the busy life of the quilt guild. From time to time I visited, and I was always warmly welcomed. Many of the same friends remained, but many others had moved on, and new friends awaited.

That’s one of the remarkable things about the quilting world. It doesn’t seem to matter where we’ve come from, or what our current situation is, when we get together we have a common love of quilting that bridges any divides between us. We come from all cultures, all different backgrounds, all educational levels. We are young and old and everything in between. We are wild independent spirits or traditional matriarchs. We are a cross section of people, primarily women still, at our best. We are creative, warm, open to learning, and generous with our talents. I am proud to be a part of that community, and today I look forward to walking amongst my fellow quilters, admiring their work.

 

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