Healthy Steps – Week 25

When I stepped on the scale today, I told my WW leader, “Anything that’s not a gain is a victory.” And I didn’t even mean that. I meant, “Anything that’s not +5 pounds is a victory.”

Imagine my shock… I was down 2.2 pounds and am now less than 1 pound away from my Big Goal of 10% removed. Could next week (incidentally, week 26 and halfway through a year) be the day?

It’s been a rough week, filled with meltdowns, mental health days, and me time. I thought a lot of sugar, too, but I think I did better on portion control than I thought.

As (apparently) always, I’m going to focus on these goals. Frankly, they could use the work.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

And today, instead of an uplifting image, I’m going to leave with a prayer I saw online that touched me.

Slow Me Down Lord

Slow me down Lord
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace
with a vision of the eternal march of time.
Give me amid the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the eternal hills.

Break the tension of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking MINUTE vacations,
Of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to pat a dog,
to read a few lines of a good book.

Slow me down Lord
and inspire me to send my roots
deep into the soil of life’s enduring values
that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.

Author: Wilfred A. Peterson


I signed off, then decided I needed to add something.

This week’s WW topic is body image. When the leader asked the group what came to mind when she mentioned that word, I (in a fit of unedited honesty) said, “Hopeless.”

While I hate to admit that I hijacked the group, that’s effectively what I did and the group could not have been sweeter or more supportive. The leader took us around in an exercise where we all said something we admired about the person on your left, and at the end I talked with a couple of people who really made me realize that we all do affect each other and keep each other going, as long as we show up.

So yes, my feet and knees are bothering me. But two people commented this week that they are starting to notice my weight loss, I have pretty eyes, and when I ride my bike back and forth to work or walk on my breaks, people notice and it galvanizes them to do it too.

Progress happens.


As I said in yesterday’s post, I’ve focused this weekend on getting my studio organized.

Of course, adding storage for my paper doesn’t fix the mess of unfinished paintings that are hanging around my studio (not including starts). Today I took pictures of all my unfinished paintings and came up with a gallery of 31 32 (I forgot to mention “the commission”) unfinished paintings.

31. Seriously? I could finish one every day for a month. I really think a burn is in my future. I’m not sure I can deal with this much pressure. No wonder I’ve been dreading going into my studio.

On the other hand, Liz Walker bragged last year that she finished over 300 paintings. She’s clearly an overachiever.

My envy for Liz aside, I did manage to make headway and finish (signature and all, one even framed!) the following paintings today.

At the River – $50 unframed

The Green Hedgehog – $50 unframed

Ladd Marsh Morning – $50 unframed

Red Flash – $200 framed

Four paintings for four days off. Not bad…


I am sure most of you have read a version of this article, entitled “40 Words For Emotions You’ve Felt, But Couldn’t Explain.” While the words are made up, the article perfectly catalogs the complex and confusing emotional life that we lead but can’t explain.

This week, as I was searching for a word to explain what was happening to me, I re-read this article and this word (made up or not) hit the nail on the head.

Pâro: The feeling that no matter what you do, it is always somehow wrong—that any attempt to make your way comfortably through the world will only end up crossing some invisible taboo—as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you; each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, “Colder… colder… colder.”

Wednesday I hit maximum… whatever.  I posted this image with the caption: “Accurate representation of my feelings today.”Getting through the day was no small feat, and when I got home, it was all over. I mean ALL OVER. I took Thursday as a sick day and went up to see my therapist. Note: It was so bad that I overrode the little voice in my head that said this is some kind of hookie and told the voice, in a firm tone, “Taking a day as sick day to go see your therapist and breathe is the DEFINITION of caring for yourself. And that’s what sick leave is for.”

I took the dogs on a nice long walk in the morning, then on my way up to see my therapist, I did some retail therapy. Then I got stuck in traffic (when did Portland traffic get like this?) and ended up being late which sort of undid the good work of the day. But, I did get to see Dr. P and she pointed out some of the usual obvious truths about standing up for myself, being compassionate, and that everyone is CRAZY!

Friday was my normally scheduled day off and after taking care of the dogs, I spent the day in the studio. Now, don’t get excited. Part of my retail therapy was purchasing this at Ikea:

By the time I got it assembled and used my label maker to get it filled up, 8 hours had passed. My studio has never looked better, but no new artwork happened.

This weekend, I was supposed to take Key down to Grants Pass for a nose work trial. But by mid-day on Friday, I had decompressed enough to realize that taking my challenging dog (and the scared foster dog) to a site four hours away to do something that may or may not be successful, staying in a hotel over night, doing the same thing the next day, and then driving back home (4 hours of driving after the end of the trial (probably not until at least 4)) to get up and work the next day without doing laundry, food prep, or anything else MIGHT not be the best idea in my current state. I wished the entry money farewell (a friend suggests that when you write a check for a dog show, you just consider it a donation), cancelled my hotel reservation, and felt a lot better for it.

This morning (Saturday) I took two pieces to my critique group and then took Toby (have I mentioned my foster dog Toby?) to outreach to see if we can find him a permanent home. Two hours of that and I needed a nap, and that basically takes us up to now.

Later, the phrase “Toby’s dead again” came into play.

So, what’s wrong?

Frankly, I’m not all together sure. Wednesday was an exceptionally stressful day, but lately I’ve been feeling… “dystopian” is the world I used at the therapist’s. Like EVERYTHING is wrong. I’ve been trying to sort it all out, and here’s my list.

  1. I have a foster dog. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t like Toby. It just means it’s a stressor.
  2. I have had to get more allergy shots the last few weeks because I was at the end of the bottle. This means that I have been scratchier and just more “blah” than when I’m at maintenance and can get my shots only every 6 weeks (instead of once a week.)
  3. My other knee (right) has been hurting quite a bit (though the left that was hurting seems to be doing better.)
  4. My foot (right) with plantar fasciitis still hurts (after almost 2 years of this injury)
  5. My left foot has what I think is either a bone spur in the “ball” of the foot or I am just developing arthristis.
  6. I have PMS / my back hurts / everyone SUCKS.
  7. It’s the beginning of summer (ugggh) (and pollen season).
  8. I am on a board of directors (why can’t I learn not to do this?)
  9. I am managing three websites (again, why can’t I learn?)
  10. Chronically, I work with a… challenging co-worker who requires a lot of compassion.
  11. At work, I am “leading” two projects.
  12. It’s summer and high-painting season and I feel like I’m completely hopeless. (I’m taking this one off because that’s a whole other blog.)
  13. Salem is having a water crisis. It’s ALL FREAKING SORTS of fun.

When I go to this website, those items rate the following score:

Life event – Life change units

  • Personal injury or illness – 53
  • Gain a new family member – 39
  • Change in responsibilities at work – 29
  • Volunteering on a board (I added this one) – 28
  • Revision of personal habits – 24

Total Score: 173

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score 150-: Only has a slight risk of illness.

In other words… I’m in the category where doctors would look for a chronic reason for things.

I’m a little concerned that my new depression medication is not working correctly; I’m in that “six month” window where we’ll see. But I’m feeling a little more that it’s about plain old stress. I’ve taken on too much, I have too much going on, I’m taking on too much.

Taking this four day weekend won’t solve the problem, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Moving forward… well, right now, I don’t really have a strategy. But I will go back to work. I will keep tackling my challenges. I will endeavor to be kinder to myself and others. I will keep moving forward.

Healthy Steps – Week 24

Progress Happens.

This is the quote from this week that I sort of hung on to. I’m late posting this week, not because I did badly (I removed 4.2 pounds for a total of 35 pounds lost!) but because almost every other area of my life felt like too much and I couldn’t figure out a way to share it.

I have another 2-3 posts planned, so I’m just going to leave with my goals for the week are essentially unchanged.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

Keep going. Progress happens.

Healthy Steps – Week 23

It was no shock to me that I gained 2.8 pounds this week. I camped and hiked and ate. I ate a lot of unhealthy foods, and I realized that I’m dangerously close to losing all progress. Before I could even think about that, I had to rush out of Weight Watcher’s check in to go on another (I think the last) work trip. making time to think and healthy choices hard to find.

I think the weekly topic for Weight Watchers (Set Your Summer Goals) couldn’t come at a better time. I don’t want to loose my forward progress, and with the summer stretching out before me, this is a great time to contemplate my goals, and maybe even (as they suggest) do a new one.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk


This is the most basic WW tool, and the one I find most easy to ditch under stress, particularly as the day goes on. With this in mind, I just made myself a little sign at my computer to remind myself to finish out the day and track.


Lately, I’ve been doing better with this on the week days, but each weekend it falls by the wayside. I’m not sure what to do that’s easy enough to start my busy weekends.

Prepared food

Again, I’ve been doing well, but by the afternoon that last batch of carrots does not look as appealing as somethings “fun.” I see a trend of getting more tired as the day goes on…

I would like to add trying some new items as the farmer’s market is now open. How about one new thing a week?

11,000 Steps

I’ve been rocking this, so I’m not going to add here.


Even if I was perfect this week, I would have to drop 7 pounds, so I don’t think I’ll hit 10% by the end of my 16 week book. But, I do think it’s important to put goals out there. So, here’s my big goal. But the end of summer (Labor day weekend) I’d like to have hit my 10% and removed an additional 12.9 pounds to get to [number redacted, but written down].

Camping and strawberries

As a follow up to last year’s highly enjoyable trip to the Allen Spring Campground, I made another reservation for the same weekend this year and Friday went over to this fabulous campground near Sisters, Oregon.

I guess it’s now “Alien Springs”

This year a friend, Gretchen, came with me. Gretchen is a birder as well, and we planned to hit a few of the hot spots listed by the East Cascade Audubon Society (again having their birding festival (Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival.)) We did see a lot of birds, but for some reason, I didn’t take many pictures.

It might have had something to do with still having two dogs, Key (my dog) and Toby (a foster looking for his permanent home). Both dogs had a good time, but Toby made it pretty clear that he enjoys a more indoor-oriented lifestyle.

Additionally, as I threatened last year, I brought my painting equipment. Of course, there is no end to possible inspiration…

… but my skills weren’t up to challenge.

Oh well, not everything can work out. And this might be okay with a crop and a lot more layers. We’ll see. In any case, I got a lot of other value sketches done, so I’m prepared for some painting!

Oh, yeah. Where do strawberries come in? Well, we ended up coming back a little earlier than expected due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances. I used my “extra” time to buy and clean a flat of strawberries. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that camping and strawberries are the true essence of summer; it has begun. Let’s make it a good one!

Healthy Steps – Week 22

Please forgive me; this post is a day late. I have been working on a project and time got away from me last night.

I was down .8 pounds this week, leaving me 3.7 pounds away from the BIG TARGET. I’m pretty happy with that, especially considering how much cheating I did.

I wish I could figure out how to just NOT buy stuff, which would make NOT eating it easier. Obviously, I’m the only one doing this and who has control of it, but sometimes I feel really helpless about it.

I’m still on my basic goals, though adding that 1000 steps last week had been surprisingly challenging.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

The first weekend of summer

It’s that first divine weekend of summer. What did I do? Stayed at home, naturally. My mom and I always discuss our plans to stay off the highway this particular weekend.

I had a busy weekend, though. I did an “overnight foster” (really weekend) for a dog from Marion County Dog Control. Meet Toby.

Toby (also known now as “To-Man” and “Toaster Struedel” is the shyest dog I’ve ever worked with.  His world has clearly been a scary place and he has little or no confidence. What he does have, in spades, is love. I’m tell you, this isn’t a dog, it’s a love bunny (or possibly a house deer.)

I’ll admit that he has found a place in my heart, but he’s not my dog. Still, I’ve offered to foster him until he’s adopted. So, if you know someone with a little patience who needs a daily dose of feeling like a hero, I’ve got just the ticket!

Obviously, with an extra dog, there was a lot of dog walking and supervising. In between, I worked on a new website project (more to come) and actually got some painting done! Gasp of shock.

At the River

A few of you might remember a couple of versions of this painting from my 2016 workshop with Francesco Fontana. I’ve always wanted to give it another go, so I flipped open my notebook a few weeks ago and did another start.

There are still some details to work out, and the water doesn’t look quite right,but I’m making progress.

Marsh painting

I also worked more on the marsh painting from last weekend.

I’m definitely still thinking on this one.

Camas fields

Similarly, I worked on my camas fields painting.

As I was waiting for things to dry, I decided to try doing this sketch using the techniques I learned at the WSO Convention last month from Sally Bills Bailey.

While there are some areas I like, I don’t think she has anything to worry about.

In contrast to this weekend, the  next few weeks are very busy. My local painting group is starting their “Paint the Town” event and the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival is coming up. That moves me into July, and then Ruth Buchanan will be coming for her drawing workshop (there’s still room, please sign up!)

And then next thing you know… summer is over!

Healthy Steps – Week 21

I am delighted to report, after the gloom and doom of my last post, that this week I lost 6.4 pounds, erasing last week’s gain and even dropping a little bit more.

In fact, I am 4.5 pounds away from a big milestone: 10% gone! My goal when I started this 16-week Weight Watcher’s booklet (“My Success Story”) was to hit this goal by the end of the 16 weeks. I have 3 weeks to do it, and I am feeling inspired!

As I was riding my bike home from work (read this cool article here), I was thinking about if I could really do this. It’s kind of silly thought. Obviously, I am CAPABLE of doing it. I have done it before. There is no physical reason that should make it impossible now. But it’s still daunting.

It got me thinking about why the last 4.5 pounds of a goal that is just the first step of many would be so hard. I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with fear of failure. I don’t want to lose my progress in a quest to make more. Which is silly, because I’m far from done. I have too much to do to stand still now.

So, this week it’s back to basics.  I’m not sure I’ve ever shifted from these, but I find the first three very challenging. The fourth is something I find comfort that I am accomplishing (and I wasn’t always.) But having said that, I just went into my FitBit and increased my goal to 11,000 per day!

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I not only CAN do this, I will do this!

Out in the open air

As I said in yesterday’s post, I had a GREAT time with all my birding out in La Grande at the Ladd’s Marsh Bird Festival. In addition to my birding, I joined a group of painters from Art Center East to paint en plein air out at the bird watching sites. In other words, I took my painting kit!

So, Friday night I had checked into the camping spot and was watching the river go by, when it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to do some sketching.

I hadn’t brought a lot of actual watercolor paper, so I used the “regular” paper in my journal to do some color sketches.

It was really nice not to feel rushed, which made me realize that when I get out I tend to be a little frantic, worried about capturing the light and getting done and… everything.

So, with the whole day ahead of me on Saturday, with nothing to do but paint and watch birds, I resolved to work on enjoying the process.

I had picked out a painting spot on Friday (spot #5) and when I sat down, I tried to remember not to hurry and started out with some sketches.

Then moved to some value sketches.

Then, I applied some paint onto real watercolor paper.

I like where this is going, but I think it isn’t as “designed” as it should be. While I still have to do something with the water (it’s not going to stay paper-white) I’m not finding a good “path” through the painting. There are a lot of interesting areas, but not a cohesive painting.

When I realized that I had hit the edge of the “plan”, I decided to stop on this painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another painting in the same spot, but I decided that the refuge probably had at least one more painting spot to offer. So, I packed up and did a little exploring of the west end of the refuge.

I’m glad I did, because the camas was in full bloom, and any artist who says they don’t want to take a stab at painting a purple field is lying.

I did this value sketch, but the road was in full sun and it was just too hot.

So I moved about 100 yards down the road and did this sketch and painting (which no reference photo to compare. Oops.)

While I think this one is sufficiently designed, I was having trouble getting the values correct on site and was starting to overwork some areas, so I decided to pack up before I ruined what I had. I’m glad I did, because this one is looking better to me at home.

This weekend marks the beginning of “plein air” season, and I think it was a good warm up. I also think that I’m going to invest in a real watercolor easel this year.

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