Project Uno Completion

A story in photos. What began many months ago, I finally completed. Procrastinating much? In my defense, the weather has been less than cooperative. And what started out easy in theory was slightly more complicated in application. Stupid wallpaper.

Hairdryers have many uses
Then I needed real tools
Getting somewhere finally
Like my yard ornament stake? I’m a genius!
Finished product

I certainly realize my readers could be wondering what the big deal is? There’s no deal. It was just an idea to channel some creativity into a tangible result. There’s another project in progress, as well. Stay tuned!


I ask you –

Thoughts on wallpaper?

What was your last project?

I’m taking guesses for my next big reveal!

The Apples are Falling

Wall of wonder

In speaking to my mini human the other night, she was practicing unscrewing a bolt from a nut. Cue the lost your marbles jokes. She was asked how did she get to be so smart and she calmly answered something along the lines of “just like Mommy” or “Mommy taught me”. As flattering as this sounds, it really got me thinking.

I tend to shy away from labeling anyone ‘smart’; as a child, it wasn’t a compliment to be called smart. Probably because smart was a prefix to ‘alec’ or ‘ass’. Smart was often synonymous with being taken advantage of and having a group of friends that maybe not were real friends. I did well throughout school. Top 3 in both middle school and high school. My graduating class totaled less than 30 – don’t give me too much credit. Yes, I mean three-zero. “Smart” meant I received several scholarships which I am most grateful for. But there’s a dark side to being smart.

Picking flowers in East Texas

It did absolutely nothing for me when I went to college. I had no study habits because those smarts gave me this false belief college work would come as naturally as it had all the years prior. What a surprise. I didn’t know how to take notes. I didn’t know how to follow along to a lecture and extract the important pieces. I struggled. A lot. In my mind, being smart would carry me through 4 years and I’d emerge with this fabulous degree. You can laugh at any time. I am. Smart meant peanuts in college.

Resting on my laurels I did not

I had to learn how to study, how to succeed in a higher education setting, and how to do what worked best for me to get through. I made it. But, again, it was a struggle. So being smart? It’s just a word with a whole lot of promise and no deliverance. And I don’t like to call anyone such lest they learn the struggle like I did. I prefer words like strong, brave, and a good thinker. These words mean more to me than the book smarts that would have failed me had I not quickly realized the only way I was going to make it to a degree was by my own merit. So whenever my mini does something extraordinary or I see her little mind moving as fast as it can to figure out a puzzle, I compliment her on her perseverance and determination. Those are the skills I want her to notice about me and others. That’s what I want her to believe she has inherited from me. Because supermodel beauty and above average talent won’t pay my bills. Unless you count humor. I could pay about $2.93 of the water bill.

If I paid myself!

_________________________

I ask you –

How do you compliment your child(ren) and self?

Were you truly prepared for any type of higher education?

Tell me you went to a huge school with hundreds of people! What’s that like?

Run for My Life and other things I consider

Perhaps the title can be amended: Run for My Life and other things I should (re)consider. As variety is the spice of life, so they say, running options abound, most especially when I have sworn to take a break. And, to my surprise, an email appeared in my inbox for the newest, to me, running opportunity. The Texas Triple!

Beware!

In case you’ve forgotten, I ran the Texas Double end of December and had a splendid time. Establishing a new PR most certainly counts as splendid. Never mind the pain and suffering and blisters and sore muscles for days on end. Dramatic much? The chance of me completing 2 half marathons in 2 days was a generous 60/40. Ehhh, more like 70/30. I knew I could finish it if you discount the time goals, etc. But 3? In 3 days? I don’t know what percentage to attach to such a lofty goal but it may skew in the reverse range.

A part of me thinks I’m officially, certifiably crazy. As if nothing else in my life has been this crazy and I can personally attest to the fact it has. What’s the worst that could happen? Dare you ask, Kel! I’ve already had a DNF (did not finish) and I’ve already suffered a near heat stroke. Maybe I don’t complete the Texas Triple but I can certainly try!

Granted I’m not entirely sold on this idea yet. A training cycle for this type of endeavor would be unlike anything I’ve ever done before and will take a lot of coordination (read: dedication) to make it work. The race is Memorial Day weekend. In Texas. A craps shoot at best. A disaster, or a hospital visit, at worst. But what is life if nothing at all except to be lived. Emphasis on the living side of this.

I run for doughnuts. And ice cream.

I’ll keep you updated!

___________________________

I ask you –

Ridiculous idea or go for it?

Loyal readers, please steer me to anyone who has completed this craziness before.

Anyone willing to come watch me attempt it?

Cost of Fitness

  • Percentage of adults who participate in 30 minutes of daily physical activity: less than 5%
  • Percentage of adults who do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities: more than 80%
  • If these trends continue, by 2030, 50% of all US adults will be obese (half=115 million).
People still use cash?!

Average Monthly Cost of our Daily Necessities: I use the term ‘necessities’ loosely.

1 cup of coffee at a national chain: $63

1 haircut: $43

Dining out: $232

New clothing: $50

Alcoholic beverages: $40

1 used car payment: $381

Mortgage: $1500

Utilities: $250

Everything above this line is a necessity. We must drive to work, pay our bills, and take care of ourselves. But what about our body? Is your body a necessity? Allow me to rephrase, please, in case you didn’t quite understand where I was going. What’s the use of all these necessities if you don’t have a body to live in? Who is taking care of your BODY? Such a simple, four-letter word and we still don’t get it. If you’re not healthy and living each day in the best health you can be, then where is the necessity of all your necessities?

You’re in luck. Whoohoo! I can solve this riddle –

Average Monthly Cost of a 24/7 access membership to a facility offering you the ability to work out at over 4,000 other locations, train according to a customized curriculum designed for results, and receive the support required to notice those results: $178

Everyone has a price tag. What is yours?

_______________________

I ask you this –

If money was not an object, what would you spend the most on?

Is time your most valuable commodity? If not, what is?

What do you currently spend the most on in your life?

Sugar and Fancy Free : A Tale of Texas Travesty

Lonestar State

Can I tell you a secret? I’m from Texas and I don’t like sweet tea. Shocking, I know.

Truthfully, there was a time sweet tea was my beverage of choice. My wake up call came when it was time for an annual vision exam and the optometrist told me I had early onset diabetes. Ok, Kel, so what does sweet tea have to do with your vision?

When they say the eyes are the window to the soul, they’re serious!

She could see so much of my health through my eyes. Terrifying.

The day of that appointment (approximately 11 years ago), I decided to stop drinking sweet tea, evaluate my current health, and make a change.

Did you know you can go to your favorite aka most convenient coffee shop and ask for flavored tea without sugar? Who knew, right!

Peach Citrus White Tea sans sugar

I won’t say sugar was necessarily the enemy. My problem was I didn’t know when to stop. One cookie led to a dozen, sweet tea led to sugary alcoholic beverages, etc. Couple this with an eating disorder and it was a recipe for disaster. Yes, I have an eating disorder – post forthcoming.

In all, none of this means anything without the choice to get healthy or succumb to a life of medication management. (Note: please know I understand some people do not have a choice but to manage their illness with medication. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a diet/exercise plan. I’m NOT a medical professional. In fact, I’m not any kind of professional! End Note) (ps I loathe the word diet)

Before keto was a thing, my family and I were already practicing it. We cut out refined sugar, excessive carbs, and (horror) most desserts. We researched acceptable sugar substitutes and I learned to make satisfying sweet tooth alternatives like cheesecake (minus the graham cracker crust) and mug cakes. Currently, my favorite treat is Blue Bell’s No Sugar Added Ice Cream. Other companies have created low carb items, too. I know carbohydrates are a necessary block of the food pyramid. I eat carbs! Just in a lower amount than what the pyramid dictates.

Is low carb difficult? Yes. Is it sustainable? For me, yes. Does this answer all your questions? Probably not. My point here is many people will search for a very long time for what works for them and that may not be what is best for you. Keeping an open mind helps. If you are faced with a decision concerning your health and your dietary habits, examine all the options. Perhaps making a few small changes vs one huge change is the way to go. Healthy eating habits and exercise are part of a successful program to keep your body and mind in tiptop shape.

____________________________________________

I ask you –

Do you think you’ve found the optimal nutrition plan for your body?

Are you a professional? What kind of professional? (humorous or real)

Anyone have a sweet tooth?

United States Navy Lingo + Relevance

USS GONZALEZ DDG 66

*No offense intended. As a Navy veteran, it is my goal to educate and promulgate the symbolic nature of our Armed Forces and the men and women who dedicate(d) their literal lives to our country. Thank you all for being my heroes.*

O’dark-thirty: after midnight and before daylight; most typically when people would be deep asleep; not a reference to any particular time. Can also reference any time of day. When underway, unless you go outside, it’s always dark.

1MC: the general announcing system on a ship

091222-N-2564M-106 NORFOLK (Dec. 22, 2009) Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Two, commends the crew of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during ship’s return to Norfolk after a three-month deployment in the Southern Command area of responsibility supporting Southern Partnership Station-Amphib. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andrew McCord/Released)

Air Force Salute: “I don’t know” shrug of the shoulders; also called an Ensign Salute

“Another Fine Navy Day!”: an expression said (in a very cheery manner) on occasions when, in fact, it is not a Fine Navy Day; compared to “Living the dream!” in civilian-speak. Sarcasm at its best.

Aye, aye: yes (I heard the order, I understand the order, and I intend to obey/carry out the order). “I understand and will comply.”

Battle Group (BG): group of warships and supply ships centered around a large deck aircraft carrier and that carrier’s airwing; usually consists of one cruiser, one supply ship, and one or two destroyers, frigates, and submarines; recently referred to as a Carrier Strike Group (CSG). Ever heard of a battle flag? During ship exercises, if your ship defeated the Battle Group, it was awarded the honor of flying the battle flag. It was huge!

Battle rattle: body armor and helmet. Except it didn’t quite fit 5’4″ females (or most females really) and at the end of watch your spine was collapsing on itself.

Battle Stations: manning condition involving all hands. Assignments are planned out prior to setting the underway watch and posted in the Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill. Assigned personnel go to their assigned stations to do their assigned task in support of fighting the ship in a battle or when there is a credible threat of attack for which the ship must be prepared to fight against. I went through “Battle Stations” at boot camp and it was exhilarating. A true Battle Stations scenario at sea is terrifying. I wish to never relive it.

Beer Day: on many navy ships, even present day, all hands are given 2 beers if they are underway without a port call for a given period of time — generally 45 days; both beers are opened when they are given to the crew member to prevent them from being hoarded

Bravo Zulu: “BZ” was a signal meaning “Well Done.”; it is sometimes used by seniors praising subordinates. In my lofty opinion, it’s not used enough.

Captain’s Mast: Navy term for non-judicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Depending on the rank of the commanding officer involved, the name of the procedure may change to Admiral’s Mast, OIC’s Mast, etc.; “Mast” for short. Make no mistake. Mast is not something you want your name attached to because it can result in you getting kicked out of the Navy.

Carry on: officer’s reply to a junior person’s call to “attention on deck”, meaning all present rise and come to attention as a sign of respect; “Carry on” allows personnel to continue whatever they were doing; also used in a derogatory form once out of the Navy

Chit: document a sailor fills out to make various types of special request (i.e. for emergency leave, or to move off base to civilian housing)

Chow: food. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn’t. However, I was great friends with one of the CS’s (Culinary Specialists) who qualified me as a “Night Bake” so I could bake with him while underway!

Cleaning Stations: an hour-long field day evolution in which everyone drops what they’re doing and cleans their spaces; see “XO’s Happy Hour.” I have a hilarious story re: XO’s Happy Hour but can only tell it in person.

Cover: term for any sort of headgear worn with a uniform

Fan Room: room with a fan or blower; a “closed” space which is often utilized for general mischief away from watchful eyes

Field Day: all hands clean-up; usually lasts on a good day about 3-4 hours (30 min of cleaning and 2-4 hours of mischief/not working)

Head: bathroom

Killer Tomato: large reddish-orange inflated ball used in gunnery practice at sea

Knee-knockers: passageway opening through a bulkhead – the lower lip of the opening sits at shin height

Ladderwell: stairs

Mandatory Fun: any command sponsored social event that everyone HAS to attend, or get into big trouble. Not fun. I repeat, not fun.

Mess Decks: Chow Hall or eating establishment on board. Where all the fun stuff happened, like Bingo, when underway. Or illicit poker games.

Midnight Ops: best time to get something done when there are not as many witnesses around. A time of dirty dealings. Also when ladies and gentlemen would sneak out of their racks for mischievous acts.

Mid-Rats: short for midnight rations; food served to the midwatch. Punishment for being on the 0000-0400 watch. Mid-rats was not portion controlled so you could eat as much as you wanted!

Mid-Watch: watch from 0000-0400 (2345-0345), usually results in no sleep before or after this watch. Best part: it was only a 4 hour watch vs the usual 6 hours. Unless it was Daylight Savings Time.

P-way: passageway

POD (Plan of the Day): official document issued by a command that states all activities occurring that day, from 0000 to 2359; contains the Uniform of the Day. Also called the Possibilities of the Day or Plan of Deception because the plan can change without notice. To get something in the POD took an act of Congress; it was ridiculous.

Port: left side of the boat or ship (when facing the bow); place of arrival for ships

Port and Starboard: a rotation of two duty sections or watch teams, one designated port and the other starboard; generally not considered to be a good situation. (Usually six hours on duty, six hours off duty – during the six hours off you eat and sleep. The usual cycle is: get up, eat, go on watch, get off watch, eat, go to bed. This results in about four hours of sleep per cycle.)

Port and Report: A watch stood without relief. One designated Port, and the other… there is no other, only Port once again, hence the term re-Port

PRT: Physical Readiness Test; a sailor is required to perform a certain number of situps, pushups, and a 1.5-mile run in a given time (which varies based on age and gender); replaced with the PFA. As a Command Fitness Leader, this was my time to lead/coach/train crewmembers to pass the PFA.

PT: Physical Training; a required exercise regimen

Quarterdeck: ceremonial area of the ship used while in port for either boarding, or disembarking the ship, usually found at the main deck level, mid-ship

Quarters: a gathering of all the people in the organization – Quarters can be for the entire command, or just the department, division, or branch. Quarters is used to present awards, pass information, and make every sailor squeeze into their ill-fitting, rarely-worn uniforms at least once a year. “Quarters” also refers to the daily morning muster for each division, announced as “Quarters…Quarters…All hands to Quarters for muster, instruction, and inspection.” Often held outside on the weather decks when not raining. But even sometimes when it did rain.

Rack: bed

Hard. Heavy. Small.

RAS: (Replenishment At Sea) – the act or process of moving cargo and fuel from a supply ship to a warship via cable while underway I loved RAS’s because, as a Ship-to-Ship Phone talker, I was able to communicate with the supply ship.

Reveille: an announcement over the 1MC at 0600 local time, bugle call, trumpet call or pipes call, most often associated with the military; it is chiefly used to wake military personnel at sunrise Underway, reveille would be music usually decided on by the watch crew which was a great way to wake up!

Roger That: a term of understanding and acceptance when given an order or other information; can be used with varying inflection and tone without consequence to signify enthusiasm or disgruntlement without stepping outside the bounds of professionalism Most often stated in a sarcastic tone.

Scrambled Eggs: gold embroidered decoration on a Commander’s/Captain’s cover 

“scrambled eggs” located on the brim of the cover

Screaming Alpha: a sailor who is on fire and is running around screaming. Alpha fires leave ash. Bravo fires burn flammable liquids. Charlies are electrical fires, and Deltas burn exotic materials, often metals like magnesium. I’ve never seen someone on fire (small favors) but a fire on my ship was the most traumatic event of my Navy career.

Scuttlebutt: (1) a drinking fountain. (2) generally reliable but incomplete information about a subject. (3) a rumor (because rumors are spread when crew members gather around water fountains); this is the only thing in the universe that can travel faster than light

Shipmate: (1) any fellow sailor. (2) (derogatory) any junior enlisted about to get chewed out. Often a term used derogatorily after discharged from the Navy.

Spooks: Navy Cryptologic Technicians or other service equivalents; may also be applied to civilians from three-letter agencies riding a naval vessel. My people!

Stand By: to wait, can also be to foreshadow chastisement or punishment from a superior

Stand by to stand by: waiting to find out why everyone is waiting for something to maybe happen. All too often this was the case!

Starboard: right side of the boat or ship (when facing the bow)

Steel Beach Picnic: celebration on the weather decks of a ship. Usually involving beer and barbecue. Also included music and hitting golf balls off the bow of the ship. As much fun as can be had underway.

A Sailor’s favorite day: Steel Beach Picnic

Swab: mop. You will be expected to swab the deck while it rains. Makes good sense, right?

TAPS: announced over the 1MC at 2200 local time, “Taps, Taps…lights out, all hands turn into your bunks, maintain silence about the decks.” “Taps” is a musical piece sounded at dusk, and at funerals, particularly by the U.S. military – it is sounded during flag ceremonies and funerals, generally on bugle or trumpet

UNREP: (Underway Replenishment): the taking of supplies from a supply ship by maneuvering alongside it and passing lines between it and one’s own vessel. A dangerous procedure, often completed in the dark. I know right.

VBSS: (Visit, Board, Search, Seizure): Maritime boarding actions and tactics. I was invited to join the VBSS team because I was fit and relatively easy to get along with (I’m assuming). A joint decision was made to remove the offer when I explained my fear of heights. Another great story to be told in person.

Very well: expression of acknowledgement a senior gives a subordinate. Again, usually inflected with sarcasm.

Watch: a period of duty, usually of four-hours duration, six-hours on submarines. The day at sea has long been divided into watches, which are called: Midwatch or Balls to 4 (0000 to 0400); morning or rev (reveille) watch (0400 to 0800); forenoon watch (0800 to 1200); afternoon watch (1200 to 1600); dog watches (1600-1800 and 1800-2000); and the first watch (2000 to 2400). Oh, watch, a necessary evil with the wrong group, but much fun with the right people.

Standing Watch (Old School)

Working Party: when there is loading of supplies, the Quarterdeck will call for a “working party” to be manned by each division of the ship, the number depending on the task. People were always “skating” out of working parties, especially when it involved cleaning the heads in berthing or some sort of flooding/water on deck situation.

XO’s Happy Hour: a daily, hour-long mandatory cleaning evolution; usually introduced by the XO on the 1MC. Another great story for this!

Zone inspection: a formal inspection of spaces conducted by a team headed by the XO. There was nothing fun about zone inspections because it usually involved someone not in your division and not familiar with any of your spaces telling you how to clean/organize/do something better.

________________________

I ask you –

Any service members in your family? Yourself?

Do you know any military lingo no longer used?

What’s your favorite definition listed above?

With a heavy heart – a story of perseverance

Ms. Kelly (L) Ms. Geana (R)

Upon hearing of the passing of a dear friend/co-worker with a passion for bluntness and loyalty, I knew I needed to honor her memory in the way I know best – to tell a story.

Ms. Geana was a devoted giver to those in need, both children and adults alike. She was selfless, dedicated, and oh so funny!

I’ve known Ms. Geana about 15 years now. During this time, we’ve stood up to difficult situations involving family, work, and personal struggles. I won’t claim to have ever been the one closest to her, but I do believe we have bonded over many a shared laugh (often at each other’s expense)!

You see, Geana’s mind and heart were strong, but her body grew tired quickly. Persevering through medical turmoil, she always minimized her frustration with her health by sharing a quick smile and saying she was doing well. Even after a horrific car wreck that caused her extensive surgeries, she returned to work with a grateful heart and another unique laugh. Couldn’t we all live a little more like she did.

You may wonder how this post connects fitness to a sad personal event. Kel, why would you tell us a story of misfortune? Because Ms. Geana refused to give up. Even from a wheelchair, learning how to walk again, and watching her weight to ensure she could make the progress she desired, Ms. Geana was an advocate of health and faith. She persevered.

Being the comedian I am, terrible as such, I leave you this –

Upon a traveling adventure to pick up a young boy from an appointment one day, we discovered he had refused treatment for a dental cleaning. He was about 7 yrs old and marched to the beat of his own drum. As we were driving away, he in the backseat, me behind the wheel, and Ms. Geana beside me, the youth stated how he hated the dentist. I calmly replied I was very disappointed because it had taken 2 months to get this appointment scheduled. The boy, in his youthful directness, stated “You’ll get over it”. Ms. Geana, never one to allow disrespectfulness within earshot, quickly turned around and told him to apologize to me for his words. I put my hand on Ms. Geana’s arm and quietly told her it was alright. She opened her mouth to argue when I said “Ms. Geana, he’s right. I will get over it.” I smiled at her to confirm I believed in my own words. Later, I found her in the office, writing her daily notes, and we discussed how sometimes it can be easy to forget how simply a child sees the world. Perhaps we could all live a little more forgivingly. And – we’ll get over it.

Ms. Geana (center)

Cheers to you, Ms. Geana. For making the world a little brighter for our children in need, for the passionate work you did for adults, and for being you. You will not be forgotten.