20-20 in 2020 – A Mini Challenge

Y’all know the year 2020 is going to have so many puns about vision and clarity and foretelling the future and all the rest. I gotta join in somehow. So on that note, I thought I might as well make this about weight loss or fitness or something related to health goals. I have a longstanding tradition of double-numbered health-related challenges. Why not, right? So, I made myself a little challenge for the year:

The bulk of the challenge is simple: Lose 20 lbs and 20 inches in 2020. My primary weight-related goal was to lose 20 lbs anyway, and this’ll give me a fun little way to compete with myself. But that little statement is more goal than challenge, so of course there have to be little 20-20 steps along the way, too. I decided to pick five health-related habits that I want to incorporate into my daily life, and build them into this challenge. So along with the big challenge to lose 20 lbs and 20 inches this year, each month I will:

  1. Walk/run 20 miles (worth 20 points per month)
  2. Eat 20 whole fruits (ie not juice) (20 points)
  3. Eat 20 whole vegetables (20 points)
  4. Exercise on 20 days (20 points)
  5. Turn off electronics before 9pm on 20 nights (20 points)

These, of course, are minimums – I’d love to eat more veggies, walk more miles, etc – but there are no bonus points for going over. Just 20 points per category, and for each month that I get a perfect score, I get some kind of reward (as of yet to be determined, though I have a few ideas).

It’s a very simple challenge. A friend of mine is doing this with me, and hey, if anyone else wants to participate, feel free! Make yourself five little mini-goals (they don’t have to be the same as mine!) and leave me a comment below. And have fun!!

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Sunday Coffee – Ash

If you’ve been following along with Ash’s story on Instagram or Facebook, I apologize for the repeat.

Ash is my oldest kitty-baby, at 10 1/2 years old. He came to live with us in early November, 2009, when he was only four months old. He and Christabel, who was 2 1/2 years old, came home together and were named for the poets in AS Byatt’s Possession. Christabel had lymphoma and sadly passed away six months after we adopted her. For the next five years, Ash was our only cat, and he preferred it that way. He was none too happy when Gavroche joined our family, heh, and the only kitty friend he seems to really like is Nimi. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, but he loves people and he’s the gentlest cat I’ve ever known.

(Jan 2014)

Unfortunately, he’s also a bit prone to illness. He has had frequent stomach issues since he was three years old, and several times he’s lost weight rapidly due to this. About a week after we moved into this new house, he again began to lose weight. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink, and he was hobbling around the house. Most of the time he was very lethargic. At first we thought it was the stress of moving – this has happened before, and after a lot of extra feedings, he gets better – but this time, he wasn’t improving. We brought him in to the vet on the 2nd. By that point, he’d lost about 1.5 lbs.

I wasn’t prepared to hear some of the things our vet said. Ash was severely jaundiced (gums, skin, ears, etc) and she was worried that he was in complete liver failure. She wanted to get bloodwork done on him, and get him straight onto an IV because he was so dehydrated. I said goodbye and let him go, hoping to get good news later that day. Which was a partially fulfilled wish. Ash’s bloodwork came back with elevated liver enzymes, but not nearly to the level our vet was expecting and not high enough to cause the issues he was having. Nothing else appeared weird with his bloodwork, so we had no idea what might be causing the problem.

(July 2015)

After two days of IV and eating only at night when the vet’s office was closed, Ash was sent home with us. He had a lot more energy, though he still wouldn’t eat or drink and that energy faded quickly as the IV wore off. We quarantined him to the master bedroom so that he wouldn’t have to compete for food/water. The goal was to see how he did over the weekend to determine if he could stay with us until the vet’s office could schedule an ultrasound (mid-week), or if he needed to get back onto the IV. Poor baby. Sadly, he didn’t eat or drink a thing over the weekend, and we brought him back to the vet on Monday morning.

This is where things got really tough. The vet scheduled an ultrasound at a specialty clinic so that we could get in early. The ultrasound revealed nodes in his intestines that possibly indicate lymphoma, and abnormalities on his liver that could be cancer, liver disease, or (somehow?) renal disease. Three years ago, Ash was diagnosed with having a slightly shrunken kidney and was put on a special low-phosphorus diet. He improved greatly, but this is probably just a continuation of the same condition – dehydration, failing kidneys and liver. The specialty clinic wanted to do some biopsies, and I admit, I just broke down. I couldn’t bear to put Ash through all that if in the end he would just be scared and miserable and in pain. We brought him home – his platelet count was too low for surgery anyway – and contacted our regular vet for next steps. I couldn’t stop sobbing while we waited.

(May 2010)

The vet’s news was less dire. She recommended skipping the biopsies. There was no point of doing them as the treatment for all of those conditions would be the same: IV fluids, antibiotics (for the fever Ash had now developed), and steroid treatment to decrease inflammation and help him to feel more energized and able to eat. It’s not a cure, but it might help him to feel better for possibly up to a few years with a regular steroid maintenance dose. And miraculously, after Ash got home from the ultrasound, he actually began to eat a little again. Not much, but far more than he had been over the weekend. He drank some water as well, just a tiny bit. It was enough that instead of an IV, the vet just gave him some subcutaneous fluids during Tuesday’s treatment. Ash came home that afternoon, and we’ve been nursing him along (and force-feeding him steroid pills) ever since.

(April 2015)

It’s very hard to know when it’s time to stop trying and let a kitty-baby go. Ash was the first pet I’d had since I left home for college. I hadn’t wanted any animals. There had been some trauma with pets when I was young, and I think part of my reaction (tied to the other PTSD stuff I was going through) was to shut out animals altogether. I had no connection to them. Jason wanted a cat, and I agreed to adopt Ash and Christabel for him. I never expected that Ash would be the creature that taught me how to open my heart again and love without protecting myself from the inevitable hurt. He’s my baby, the kitty who deemed me the alpha, who wouldn’t eat when he was young until I sat down to eat first, who claims my office chair is his own and periodically challenges me for alpha position. He’s my Ash, and no matter how many kitties I’ve loved afterwards, he holds a very special place in my heart. The thought of being without him, especially after such a short time (only ten years!), is heartbreaking.

But I’m also not going to force him to suffer. I’m not going to terrify him and make him feel unsafe at home. I’m not going to put him through needless surgeries and painful procedures, not if it’s time. I won’t syringe-feed him food just to keep him alive. I know where I draw my line. Hopefully, I won’t have to meet that line any time soon – Ash actually ate almost an entire can of food last night, for the first time in weeks!! – but the entire family is preparing ourselves, just in case, and spending every last minute we can with our baby.

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Over the last decade…

I wasn’t going to do this. I’ve had so many wrap-ups and round-ups over the last two weeks…but dammit it’s the end of a decade and my 2010 to 2019 was INSANITY at times, so I’ve just gotta.


When the decade began, I was 30 years old, a stay at home mom with three boys who would turn 6, 8, and 10 that year. I was just starting out on a weight loss journey that didn’t really have many results for another year. Some things that happened in 2010 include:

Continue reading

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Wellness Wednesday – Running Bingo

I’m sure it’s abundantly clear by now: In 2020, I made a personal goal to work toward becoming a runner again. That journey will be filled with inconsistency, starts and stops, frustrations, injuries (most likely), doubt, and all the rest. Just like last time. But I’ll get there. It just takes time.

One of the things I loved most about running was attending various running events (mostly 5Ks). I was never one for large 5K events – WAY too crowded – but I loved the small ones and especially little ones that were fundraisers for very good causes. My favorite was the Run 4 Hope, which benefitted the Rape Crisis Center here in SA. Sadly, they stopped hosting it after 2017, and the event they replaced it with (the 0.5K in 2018) did not become an annual thing either. Anyway. I’ve been to a lot of 5Ks and other running-related events since my first in 2010, and these are almost universal highlights in my memories. I love them. And so what better than to couple a thing you love with a goal you’re trying to reach? Enter running bingo.

While I’ve been to a lot of 5Ks over the years, there are many I’ve missed out on, and many kinds I’ve never run. One day I started listing out potential 5Ks to try, thematically, like one for each state or one for each holiday etc. Then I got creative and decided to play with a bingo card. I came up with 25 different types of events, some difficult and some easy, and put together the board (left). I decided not to count runs done in my past as that’s too easy. Instead, I’m either beginning from the time I made the goal to become a runner again (Nov/Dec) or from the start of 2020. (The only difference is whether or not I’ll count my Elf Run 5K toward this.) There aren’t a lot of rules. As long as I’m running some portion of the race – significant enough for my body and training level – then it counts, and each event can only count toward one category. And of course, I can take as many years as I want to fill out the board.

What can I say? I’m a nerd. These kinds of things excite me, haha!

Note: Since that photo is small, I’m going to list each of the events out below. This way I can come back to this post and cross them off, in a fashion. Feel free to skip this part!

  1. Christmas
  2. Spring/spring break
  3. Medical (for a medical cause)
  4. Large event
  5. Girls/women (cause for, only female runners, etc)
  6. For a good cause
  7. Night/dark
  8. Thanksgiving
  9. Wine/beer
  10. Halloween
  11. Summer/beach
  12. PJs
  13. Freebie (middle)
  14. With friends or family
  15. Vacation
  16. Virtual
  17. Smaller holiday (Valentine’s, St Patrick’s, etc)
  18. Specialty (mud, trail, color, etc)
  19. Winter/ice
  20. Rescue pets/animals
  21. International
  22. Chocolate/sweets
  23. With a costume
  24. New Year’s
  25. Autumn
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2020 Vision Board

Before I begin this post, I want to apologize in advance for the next week or two of my blog. I haven’t read a book since early December and I’m in a bit of a reading slump. On the other hand, I’m hyper-focused on health and fitness goals at the moment, with the rest of my attention going toward trying to nurse my ten-year-old kitty Ash back to health. I have a bunch of things I want to post about but they’re all pretty much on the same subject. Normally, I prefer to mix things up a bit. It’s not going to happen right now, though. So let the health-related posts begin, and I promise books and other subjects will come back soon. Heh.

In November, I tentatively joined a Meetup group in San Antonio for plus-sized hikers. In early December, I went for my first event – a hike through the park nearest me, the park I’ve hiked through hundreds of times. I figured that since I was going to be nervous my first time out, I needed to be on familiar ground. And it was great. There were seven of us on the hike, and it was a friendly group. I signed up to do a few more things – several hikes, a group movie the day after Christmas, and a vision board party.

I’ve made two vision boards over the last decade. Back when I joined Sparkpeople in 2011, vision boards were talked about quite a lot. Eventually, I made myself a personal board, though to be honest, it didn’t quite follow normal vision board rules. I didn’t make it until I had almost finished my weight loss goal, and every photo in it was from adolescence and young adulthood, pre-pregnancy. In it, I looked back on what I was to try to get there again, rather than taking into account how different a 35-year-old body is from a 20-year-old body (that has never carried a child).

Then in 2015, I made a new vision board for myself, focused on personal attributes that I wanted to improve. This board, focused on becoming strong, flexible, healthy, kind, and confident, became the background to my Wellness Wednesday button. This board was certainly better than my previous, but at the same time, I liked it less. It felt less personal, and incredibly vague. Maybe just too broad.

For this new vision board party with the Meetup group, we were told to pick out a specific goal for 2020 and focus on that goal for this board. The goals could be anything, from weight loss to job promotion to buying a home. Immediately, I had one come to mind. This board would be my running vision board: I want to become a runner again.

This is the first time I’ve worked with a physical vision board, using magazine cutouts and the like. Sadly, coming down with an upper respiratory infection the day after Christmas, I wasn’t able to attend the big party with my group (which I’m told was amazing!). Instead, I spent that day on my bedroom floor, in my pajamas, sorting through magazines and building my board. Maybe I couldn’t attend, but I could be there with them in spirit!

I am really pleased with how this came out! I surrounded my road of runners with the other ingredients necessary to succeed at this goal: healthy nutrition, good sleep, cross-training, strength-training, stretching, foam-rolling, a support system, and lots of positive thoughts. It’s impossible to say where I’ll end 2020, but the goal is to be more of a runner than I currently am. As I said in my 2020 goals post, this is the Big One. Time to rack up the miles!

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Sunday Coffee – 2019 in Photos

Originally, I didn’t plan to another type of 2019 wrap-up, but in the last hours of 2019, I made a photo array of my top 12 photos of the year. These photos were all taken by me, and I won’t claim they are of great quality by any stretch of the imagination. They also don’t represent the best or worst moments of the year, or the most memorable, or one per month. They are simply my favorite photos of the year, chosen from a pool of several hundred. (I take a LOT of photos.) In no particular order:

1) Morrigan’s selfie with Captain Morgan (January)

2) Laurence and Ambrose squeezed into my buzzard party coffin (March)

3) Jojo and I cuddle on the one-year anniversary of his adoption (February)

4) Laurence’s ridiculous fish harem pants (December)

5) Halloween ghost with visible face (September)

6) a portrait of depression (May)

7) Ambrose’s Mardi Gras mask that he walked home from school wearing… (March)

8) “best brothers” at Morrigan’s graduation (June)

9) cardinal (and cowbird) eggs in the tree by our garage (May)

10) Ambrose showing off his new llamacorn shirt (July)

11) an aerial view of our xeriscaped yard (May)

12) my nephew Kyler all snuggled up (July)

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2020 Book Priorities

Every year, I begin with a list of books that will be top priority over the next twelve months. This list is pulled from multiple sources:

  • anticipated new releases
  • unread books from my shelves
  • backlogged audio queue
  • Goodreads TBR and “to-investigate” lists
  • books on my library hold list

There’s usually about two dozen books on my priorities list, and throughout the year, I try to either read or cull them all. (Or, in case of changed release dates, forward them into the next year.) In 2020, my list sits at twenty books, some of which may not even release this year.  These are the books I absolutely want to get to this year, assuming they publish. Starred books are guaranteed reads.

  1. Whispers of Shadow and Flame – L. Penelope
  2. Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi
  3. An Enemy of the People – Henrik Ibsen
  4. Northanger Abbey (Audible adaptation) – Jane Austen
  5. Depression Hates a Moving Target – Nita Sweeney
  6. There Will Come a Darkness – Katy Rose Pool
  7. The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell
  8. The Hand on the Wall – Maureen Johnson (Jan)*
  9. Run to the Finish – Amanda Brooks (Mar)
  10. Shorefall – Robert Jackson Bennett (Apr)
  11. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins (May)
  12. I’d Give Anything – Marisa de los Santos (May)
  13. The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang (May? Possibly May 2021…)
  14. The Lantern Men – Elly Griffiths (June)*
  15. Bridge of Souls – Victoria Schwab (Sept)*
  16. Stormlight #4 – Brandon Sanderson (Nov)*
  17. Lady Sherlock #5 – Sherry Thomas (TBD)*
  18. dreamer #2 – Maggie Stiefvater (Nov)*
  19. Nikolai duology #2 – Leigh Bardugo (TBD)
  20. Any Way the Wind Blows – Rainbow Rowell (maybe? a girl can dream)

That’s one good-looking list! Can’t wait to read them all! Any that you can recommend in particular?

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