Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wk 23: I have birthday-promised myself...

Thank goodness for these corduroy-like walkways
which help us over the boggy parts of the Trans Canada trail.
Sometime, about the first week of August every year, my nerves start jumping about in raw disorganization and a million 'To-Do' lists visually conjure up from the frightening jumble that's stuffing up my brain.  And every year I run out to the nearest "Back to School" sale to load up on a fresh supply of Hilroy exercise books into which all these lists get transcribed. A blue book for supply sourcing; the pink book for creative ideas, the green book for financial matters and the encouraging, cheery yellow one for everything else. I live under the ever-hopeful expectations and impression (mistaken?) that if I can only get it all written down in neatly organized, numbered columns that a way to figure it all out and to get it all done ON TIME will become clearly evident.  And, I will be able to breathe again. 

This is the start of another holiday season at GillianCrackers. It is always a nervy, stressful time.  There is much to do, create, buy, produce, stuff, wrap, roll, tape, cut, print, weigh, ship, stamp, record and pack. There are new cracker styles to create, paper suppliers to find, new puzzles to devise and holiday candy to source.  And then there are the dog and cats to think of because, being an ardent animal lover, I like to make Christmas and crackers special for them too. The production end of the crackers is huge and boxes of supplies and activity packs and chocolate are everywhere - stacks of paper boxes which need filling with cut, sized wraps; unfolded paper hats (all hand made) and puzzle sheets awaiting folding stare petulantly at me from shaky make-shift shelves stacked to the ceiling with holiday components - rather uncertainly and everywhere - all reminding me there is much work to be done. The puzzle pencil and the cello bag supply boxes have reached empty and I am reminded (once money is found!) they must be reordered. SOON. And then there is co-ordinating the efforts of others involved - the 'cracker elves'.  These are the folks who help me source supplies, handle late out-of-country deliveries, supply specialty items like this year's handmade (in Muskoka - YEAH!) pewter tree ornaments or the artisanal chocolate truffles which give the crackers their special Victorian-England holiday touches. And then there is the headache of financing (unsuccessfully again this year) the seasonal 'start-up' costs which has never as a result to date 'started-up' on time so I am always a couple of months behind from the get-go. The clouds of stress build and hover like some kind of looming doomsday storm about to break at any moment. Ohhhhh, I have a big, big headache.

Some of the prep work gets done in January when everything is still fresh in my mind from the preceeding months and when there is a ton of feedback from my wonderbar customers (God bless 'em all!) who send in their completed 'customer satisfaction/suggestion' surveys. At that time, ideas for the next season form and take shape for fun new cracker varieties for the next season.

But it is in dear August when the dramatic start of 'nerve season' begins. I mention all of the preceding because, as many of you know, I am trying very hard to live a more healthy life, lose pounds, lower blood pressures, build muscles. And for all this to become a 'habit-for-life'. Nerve Season is the toughest time of year to get through - physically and emotionally.  I start to eat.  And eat and eat and EAT!  And then eat some more. And sadly with so little time available (the normal 10 hour working days having turned into 16-18 hr 'holiday' season days by mid July), I find it harder and harder to get out for any kind of walking let alone a peaceful, energizing hike on the trails. I'm sure many of you with pressured jobs and schedules can relate.

And so, last week, while not surprised, I was dismally dismayed to see the scales creep up 2 pounds already and my blood pressure was again through the roof. This cannot happen. It WILL NOT happen. I turn 60 in just 20 weeks and I have birthday-promised myself that I will be a healthier person going into the next decade. This is a soul-promise and it can't be broken no matter what. It is very hard though with so little time to eat well when working such long days. Instead of taking the time to make vegetables and fish, I end up eating bread and anything that doesn't require cooking. Including looting the Christmas Ghirardelli chocolate supply. (And, as I keep telling my Swiss-Canadian chocolate-loving friend, Diana, I don't even LIKE chocolate!) This year though I am GOING TO LICK THIS. I have made some pre-emptive strike changes, filling up a freezer given to me by friends Diana (same one) & Wray (thanks so much, guys!), with multiple varieties of 'whole-food' soups, stuffed green peppers and other healthy, portion-sized entres all made in my own kitchen with controlled nutrients and calories. It will all be so welcome when the pressure gauge turns up a few notches by October 1st.  The harder thing to plan for is exercise - finding the time, the energy, the will to get out onto the trails.  So I sat myself down Friday and delivered a stern admonition: Life is short and getting shorter - To live it well, to the utmost, to squeeze every last little bit of enjoyment out of whatever years remain, health is essential. I resolved Friday that a daily short walk and at least two longer weekly hikes are a continued must. MUST. I really enjoy them and after 8 months they are almost an ingrained habit - it's just a matter of being given the self-permission to get up from the office chair, leave the holiday season work on the desk despite the awesomely growing piles, grab the backpack and. go, GO, GO! 

Yesterday I enjoyed a soul-refreshing, body-energizing hike along the Wilson Falls Trail and the Trans Canada trails - both the northern and southern Muskoka River  routes. The fungi were ablaze with deep reds and golds, a few trees are already dressed in autumn glory, the summer birds are leaving replaced by jays and other feathered friends who winter here. I gathered up acorns - abundant all across the forest floor - for my backyard chipmunk friends (I don't think they like them though!). The trails stretched ahead for 8 or more miles and I walked and walked and walked all the nerviness out of my brain and legs and enjoyed every little minute of living in the moment.  And there were surprises; most notably the sudden flight of a mighty heron taking off as I passed by his perch. My legs feel like velvet today and my head is clearer. And I am ready to tackle the seasonal work-load and challenges. For today, at least. I know I can get through the holidays with health, trimming pounds not adding them, lowering blood pressures not raising them. Like the "Little Engine who Could", I CAN do this!  I CAN, you betcha. Cross your fingers and toes for me and ... stay tuned.  Sigh.

If you enjoyed this week's blog, please feel free to pass it along to friends, colleagues and family or anyone who may enjoy / benefit. 
Have a great week everyone.

Thanks for walking along with me on my footpath this week.

This photos for Week 23 are HERE:

The Holiday Crackers, if you wish to follow their progress, are HERE:

Wk 22: Rain and more rain...

Garden Fence - Front Street, Bracebridge, Ontario
Lots of rain during Week 22 of the project and the pictures had to be gathered slowly and one at a time over the course of the week - in between the raindrops!

The Photos are here.