How did I ever find time to work?!

Today marks the two month period since I left my corporate job. I really cannot believe it’s already been two months! It seems like only last week, I walked out the door of that building for the very last time. Admittedly, the first week or so was pretty rough for me; I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself, because I’d already decided to return to school and work toward a CPA. I had a little more than a month until my first class started; what, exactly, was I supposed to do until then?!

Well, two months later, I can honestly say that I don’t really know how I ever found the time to get up every morning, get dressed, go to the office and work for eight hours. One day, I may have to do it again, but for now, I’m keeping myself busy in a million different ways:

  • I’ve started a business making soaps, candles, and beauty aids
  • I’m taking a refresher class in accounting principles
  • I’m trying to work out my school schedule for summer & fall classes
  • I’ve done more sewing in the last two months than the last two years combined
  • I find time to walk on the treadmill most days
  • I have time to read, even though a majority of what I read is either sewing, accounting, or business related
  • I spend time with my husband; he had surgery in February and I was able to be at the hospital with him, and take care of him when he came home without worrying if I was missing anything important at the office
  • I have taken care of my grandson a few times (who can resist an adorable toddler who is usually pretty happy?)
  • I’ve taken time for myself – I’ve attended a class or two for sewing; we take long drives in the middle of the week when it’s less crowded; I’ve been able to get together with my mom a few times

Overall, I’m busy, and I’m happy. In fact, I made a comment to my mom the other day that I have difficulty making time for things I used to do regularly when I was working – like laundry! Oy vey, is my laundry out of control! Ugh!

My hope is that my business will take off enough that I won’t have to go back to work for Corporate America. I really want my days there to be done. But if I have to go back down the line, I’ll make it happen. The only thing is … I’m really enjoying the way things are now! I love getting up in the morning and making soap or candles. I really enjoy taking a day off and going to see my mom when I feel like it. It makes me so happy to spend the day with my husband, or my grandson, or by myself in the studio.

How I ever found the time to work is completely beyond me …

My quilting story

Recently, I joined a Yahoo! group for people who own the Brother DreamWeaver sewing/embroidery machine. I don’t currently own this machine, but in March, I plan to buy the DreamCreator, which is one step down from the DreamWeaver. I was asked to provide a bit of background on myself there, and it started me to thinking about how I got into quilting. I thought I’d share the story here, because I don’t know if I’ve ever really told it before. But stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

In September 1999, I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary with my husband. Things weren’t perfect between us; we’d had our problems, but ever the optimistic wife, I was certain things would continue to get better between us. We had two young children, a daughter who was six at the time, and a son who’d just turned five the previous month. My husband held my hand, looked into my eyes that night and said, “I’m glad we’ve stuck it out because I think things will finally start to turn around for us. I love you.” Two weeks later, he had moved out of the house, confessing to an affair, and I was left scared and alone with two small kids and a temporary job that didn’t nearly cover all the bills. Two weeks after that, I started a new job making considerably more money and he came back (coincidence? Maybe … or maybe not). At any rate, by the end of January 2000, it was over for good, and I was quickly turning into a workaholic as a way to keep myself from thinking about everything. I would go to work at 6 am after dropping the kids at daycare, pick them up around 5:30-ish, go home, make dinner, spend time with them doing homework and baths and a little tv before their bedtime at 8 pm, then work from the time the kids went to bed until midnight, when I’d go to bed myself. A few months later, the kids and I moved from that house to a townhouse closer to my parents, and in the fall of 2001, right after the World Trade Center buildings fell, I attended my first International Quilt Festival with my mom and a friend of hers. (After this point, I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline. I can’t recall if I made my first quilt using the MW machine mentioned below, or my Brother machine – in fact, I can’t recall exactly when I bought the Brother; it was either 2002 or 2003, but I can’t recall exactly. I want to say 2002 but I don’t have any photos to back that up. I have a photo of my first quilt that I’ve filed in 2003 photos, but the digital image doesn’t have a date attached, so it could have been a year earlier; I’m just not sure. I’d ask my mom but … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I love her but memory is not her strong suit.)

I’d never made a quilt, or even had a lot of interest in sewing, though I thought it would be cool to make a quilt. I don’t remember taking any photos at that first show – I probably didn’t think there was a reason to take photos, and probably didn’t realize that I COULD take photos if I wanted to – but I walked away in awe of the talent and skill that was represented in that convention center. At that point, I had a hand me down Montgomery Ward machine from my mom that I used to repair items and I’d made a couple of pairs of shorts with it, but nothing as big as a quilt. My mom made all my clothing growing up but she’d only made one or two quilts, and I recall that it seemed to be a daunting process. In either 2002 or 2003, I used my work bonus (or maybe it was my tax return) to buy a used Brother PC-8500 sewing/embroidery combination machine. I think I made my first quilt on that machine, but … maybe not. It could have been the Montgomery Ward machine …

What I DO remember, very clearly, is walking into the local quilt shop (LQS) and telling the girl that I wanted to learn how to quilt. She said, “Sure! Let’s get you signed up for a class.” I said, “No, I don’t have time for a class; I just need a book that has clear directions.” She responded with, “But you can’t learn to quilt like that! You really need a class!” After reiterating that I wasn’t taking a class, she finally went to the bookshelves and pulled out Alex Anderson’s learn to quilt book. I chose a pattern and we picked out some fabric, and after paying for my purchases as I was walking out, the girl that had helped me said, “We’ll be waiting to sign you up for classes when you can’t do it on your own!” The following week, I took my completed quilt back to the shop to show that I could indeed learn to quilt without taking a class.

The first quilt I ever made. A nine patch.

The first quilt I ever made. A nine patch.

It’s not exactly a great quilt. It has a couple of places where the material didn’t get caught in the seam, and the squares aren’t consistently sized. But it was DONE and I did it without a class.

From that point on, my house was never the same again. I began collecting fabrics, and making quilts. I don’t even have photos of all the quilts I’ve made, and I lost count many years ago. It’s great therapy for me, and it keeps me from completely losing my mind. Through raising kids, getting married again, stressful jobs and personal situations, quilting has helped me balance everything.

Being in the studio is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Will Climb Stairs for Cardio

I have two basic challenges when it comes to losing weight – drinking enough water, and getting exercise in. It isn’t so much that I can’t get my hands on water, I just usually don’t drink enough of it. And when it comes to exercise, these days I can’t claim I don’t have time to do it – it’s more a logistical challenge than anything. Water I can conquer, but exercise …

For Christmas, my lovely husband gave me a Fitbit One. I had asked for it, and he gave it to me, but I think he expected it to be largely unused. I am happy to say that I have used it every single day, though twice I’ve forgotten to put it back on after taking a shower (both times, I went without it for a couple of hours before I noticed it missing), and once the battery died on me so I had to take it off mid-day to charge it for an hour. Other than that, I’ve worn it all over the house, all over town, to work and even at night (it tracks sleep as well as activity). I decided when I got it that I wanted to see just how active I am in a typical day, so I didn’t try to do anything “extra” from Christmas until now. that gave me a little more than two weeks in which I could identify activity patterns, and let me tell you … it’s an eye-opener.

A lot of people here believe that many people who set their activity levels to sedentary are probably underestimating how much movement they get in a typical day. I’m not one of those people – not one who thinks people underestimate their activity, nor one who actually does that. Much to the contrary, the Fitbit has shown me that I AM sedentary – which isn’t a surprise to me. I have a very stressful job as a desk jockey, and it often doesn’t allow for me to take long periods of time away to be more active. During an average weekday, I spend 19 hours being sedentary. NINETEEN HOURS. That is a LOT of time to sit on one’s ass. The rest of the day, I’m either “fairly active” or “lightly active”. Rare is the day I hit the “very active” level. And while the weekends are more active for me, where I spend an average of 7 hours as lightly or fairly active, that still means I’m spending 9 hours as sedentary. Now the reason for that is that many of my hobbies – quilting, sewing, reading, and processing photos in a digital darkroom – are also done while sitting down. But I have realized this is neither good for me, or helpful to my weight loss efforts, so I have decided to “step up” my activity levels.

But how? I don’t have a gym membership and while I could probably afford one, I don’t really want to join right now – new year joiners and all that. The weather is terrible – thunderstorms and such the last couple of days, so walking outside is out. So today, I woke up and decided that I wanted to go for the next step badge the Fitbit offers – 25 floors. I don’t always work in my office, some days I work at home. But today, I am in the office, and I decided that once an hour I would get up and go downstairs and walk back up at least three flights (there are five in this part of the building) then come back to my desk. This will give me a chance to get away from my desk at least once an hour, I will get in my cardio, and it makes sure I move fairly often.

I have 2 hours and 45 minutes left in my work day and I am currently at 16 floors done. I am totally psyched about this, because I thought I would crap out about halfway through the day, honestly. But I didn’t – I’ve kept going. I missed the 9 am hour, but walked twice in the 10 am hour, about 30 minutes apart. And when I went downstairs to grab a bottle of water, I came back up and did all five floors. For me, that’s a pretty big deal. I have knee problems, but it makes going down much worse than coming back up, and I have decided I won’t let that hold me back. I’ve got three more hours in which to walk up the stairs at work, and I’m hoping that gets me to 25, but if it doesn’t, I live in a two story house, so I can get the rest of them at home. I can do this, and I realized that I can do it daily.

Is my solution perfect? Probably not. But it’s working for me right now, and I can always add more stairs. I plan to add weights as well, because I love working out with weights (I’m not a newbie to exercise, just very out of practice), but today’s workout is cardio, and I’m pretty happy with it. 🙂