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A Wonderful Discovery

A few months ago I was forced to get a new cell phone.

I could not use it anymore because of the screen. Oh, I know what you are thinking, but it was not PHYSICALLY broken. One day I tried to take a picture of my son in the middle of the grocery store, and the screen just went black. (My son didn’t break it. He is not ugly, he is adorable!)

Maybe he was SO CUTE he broke the phone...

Maybe he was SO CUTE he broke the phone…

It would display the phone’s start-up images, but after that it always just went to black and stayed that way.

I am a hard core fan of “slider” phones. I bought a Kyocera Rise. It is both slider and touchscreen, so that I can train myself to use those miserable touchscreen keyboards for my next phone, when slider keyboards will be impossible to find.

This is my first phone that has APPS! I was so excited to get 3 specific apps:

1. A QR Code Reader*
* It does not always work because my camera does not seem to have auto-focus 😦

2. Moonfrye – a scrapbook app from Ms. Punky Brewster herself**
**Only available for iPhones 😡

3. Weather app with doppler***
***I actually have two of these, but one now has “my current location” stuck on my work location, not my home :O

Since I loved my new phone so, I tried experimenting with using its calendar, rather than my hard-copy paper day planner. It was an excuse to use my new phone more often. Also, I kept finding myself needing my work schedule and not having it with me. I always have my phone with me though. It seemed logical. But I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t have any way to color-code or sort my events in my calendar. It just wasn’t quite as handy as I had hoped.

Then a brilliant idea hit me –> look for a calendar app with more features!

But then I was overwhelmed by the number of calendar apps out there. Luckily the first one I tried was Cozi. Because I LOVE IT!

Don't try to read my schedule.  I am not actually going to do most of those things today anyway.

Don’t try to read my schedule. I am not actually going to do most of those things today anyway.

While I still can’t color-code events, I can sort them by who will participate (me, my husband, my son, my dogs). And it also has a separate area for To-Do lists, also divided up by person. I love that it is backed up on a real website []. I love that it is designed for the whole family to share it (although I can’t get my husband to use it…yet). Once I realized I was going to be spending a lot of time with this app, I went ahead and paid for the ad-free upgrade with more features. Now I can send my husband email reminders, and track birthdays too.

I do with it had a section for just random notes to myself. If I think of a potential blog topic, I have to put it in my To-Do list. In my day planner, I always jotted down what my total hours worked were in a week, so that later I could compare it to my paycheck. In Cozi, I had to bastardize the shopping list function to enter my total hours. (And for now, a paper list on our refrigerator works just fine for a shopping list.)

Besides that, I really do love it. There is even a journal feature which I treat like my own personal Facebook. I put the events that are too boring for Facebook on it!

I have run into a problem with Cozi though. Now that I have entered everything imaginable into it, including my weekly TV shows I watch, I don’t get to use it as much as when I first downloaded it. But they just added a new feature for Contacts.

Hmmm. That could keep me busy for like a day.

Candy Bar Diet

NOTE: My original idea. All rights reserved.

If you steal my idea and make millions from it, I will sue your ass. And that will probably be easier than if I just tried to make millions off my idea myself.

A few years ago, I created a Candy Bar Diet. I think it is a brilliant idea. Most people don’t understand it.

The core of the diet is to track the calories you eat in a day using the magnetic, dry-erase Handy Dandy Candy Board, featured in the back of the book that explains the diet. The Handy Dandy Candy Board uses adorable candy bar magnets to track the calories you eat in a day. I created a mock up that I used myself. It was much more fun than keeping a food diary.

The following are the excerpts from the book and pictures of the mock-up.

Handy Dandy Candy Board – Daily calorie tracker and goal  © not-quite-a-diet 2010


Candy Bar Calorie Counter

It’s “not-quite-a-diet”

How It Works

Candy bars (the normal sized ones here, no cheating with King-sized) are generally average out to be 230 calories. No matter what you eat in a day, you know you are always thinking: Can I still squeak in a candy bar?  Of course you can!  Especially if you think of all your calorie counting in terms of candy bars!

Start off with the maximum number of calories you want to collect in your flabby body in a day.  Let’s say 1600 calories.  Divide that by the average calories in a candy bar: 230 calories.  That would mean you could eat calories equal to 7 candy bars in a day.  And now with the dry erase, magnetic Handy Dandy Candy Board, it is easy to track to your daily goal.


That 20oz of Coke you just drank with 240 calories?  That equals a candy bar.  The honey bun you ate for breakfast at 460 calories—sorry, that’s 2 candy bars.  Ate out for lunch & don’t know the calories?  Be honest with yourself & give it your best guess.  A cheddar bacon cheeseburger would probably be at least 3 candy bars.  No complicated math. No tracking every tiny Pez candy.  Feel free to round, but be honest with yourself.  If you cheat, it will only harm yourself.  I don’t care how much you eat in a day.  I just want you to appreciate my adorable candy bar magnets, which I was inspired to create while squandering my life & my creativity in a cubicle.

Your Tools

Decide on your calorie/candy bar daily goal.  Write it on the dry erase, magnetic Handy Dandy Candy Board .  Place a candy bar magnet on the board every time you consume 230 calories in your day.  The magnets are kept in a convenient storage pocket until you need them.  Where do those calories come from?  That is entirely up to you!

There is also a handy journal included to track your progress, if you are into that sort of thing.  There is a Calories-to-Candy Bar Conversion Chart.  Once the day is done, clear your candy slate & start over again!  Conveniently sized to travel with you throughout the day as you rack up the candy bars, er, the calories:)

Why Count in Candy Bars?

This just happens to be how my brain works!  And I AM guilty of eating multiple candy bars in a day.  Whenever I tried to keep a journal of what I ate, I never made it through one day.  I never made it through more than ONE MEAL!  It was boring & tedious.  But I realized that I was finding myself saying “well, these 2 toaster pastries equal 2 candy bars…maybe I should just eat the candy instead?!”

If you tried a strict dieting plan & became discouraged, this might be a good place to start over.  By making it easier to track what you are eating, you are more likely to actually keep it up!  Try the calorie counter with sweet indulgences figured right in!

Sometimes just keeping track of what you eat can encourage you to eat less.  If your board is filling up, and it’s a choice between cheesecake or dinner, you might just choose dinner.  If it’s a Friday night after a long week of work, you might choose cheesecake. But you will be educated & know that by eating both, you could be packing on the pounds.

The Facts

Typically a person needs 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day.  To maintain your weight, you would want to eat around 2,000 calories (9 magnetic candy bars worth a day), depending on how active you are.  If you want to lose weight, you would want to eat less.

Your best bet for an accurate calorie count is on the “Nutrition Facts” label on your food packaging, or in some cases on the company’s website.  MAKE SURE you read the Serving Size, and be sure to multiply your servings by the Calories per Serving.  Once you have that number, it is easy to use the Calories-to-Candy Bar Conversion Chart to add the appropriate candy bar magnets to your candy bar board.

And FYI…Eating 9 candy bars in a day is not recommended & will definitely result in a tremendous stomach ache.

Also, more than just calories go into making you fat, such as, well, FAT.  This is a highly simplified system, therefore we only track calories.  Consider yourself warned!

©  not-quite-a-diet 2010

Calories-to-Candy Bar Conversion Chart

© not-quite-a-diet 2010

Candy Bar Log

© not-quite-a-diet 2010

Storage pocket for Handy Dandy Candy Board candy bar magnets. © not-quite-a-diet 2010

That is the Candy Bar Diet. Do you think it would work for you?

Dreams – Part Two (Adventures in Dreamland)

To read about the evolution of my dream journal, please read Dreams – Part One (Dream Journal)

When I dream about home, I most often dream about the trailer I lived in between the ages of 8 and 23.  The other night I even dreamed that my son was there, which is really weird because that place is long gone.  My son has never been there.  He wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye last time I was there.

This where i am when I dream of home. The saddest picture ever. I came of age in that home, and then it was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

I also dreamed I had to grab my son and hide with him under the bathroom sink in the half (more the size of a quarter) bath because mobsters were coming to shoot us.  (The whole time, I kept thinking in the dream, “Was there really enough room for me to hide under that sink?”)  When I woke up, I was scared of the mobsters with guns blazing, of course, but not surprised.  I have dreams of people with guns chasing me every so often.

Illustration from my dream journal about my recurring wrist dream.

The first dream I can ever remember having was also one of the few recurring dreams I have ever had.   That was when I was really young – 4 or 5.  In my dream I was wearing my blue hooded sweatshirt and running away from bad guy sin a big grey factory.  There were big tanks and all sorts of walkways from the ceiling.  The bad guys saw me and shot me. I help up my wrist and there was just a hole through it with black sides.  No blood, not a realistic wound.  I could look right through the hole in my wrist at the bad guys. 

What terrible person would chase this girl through a scary factory and shoot her through the wrist?

Here it is in poem form:

The recurring dream

On a night i no longer remember
i got tucked into bed
covered up my head
and my mind turned on me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

my blue-hooded jacket
among all the metal
the metal that passed right through me
without me noticing

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

fast-moving among the rafters
their steps echoing on the catwalk
like my little heart

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

ducking behind the giant tanks
doesn’t matter what is in them
maybe it is the blood
that doesn’t flow from me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i can’t see their identities
just dark forms ever-moving
why don’t i stop & face them
the faceless

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i’m scared, it’s dark
i run
but it’s all familiar
deep down
it is all a part of me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i’ve got you now
but you can’t protect me
from what only the night can see

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i still can’t see
who i was meant to
grow up & be
this life is just a blur to me
as i run

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i have a good life
but it is hard to see
looking through this blackened
hole in me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

with roots like these
i can’t leave
but still I try to shake free
imagine it all some other way

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i want what i don’t have
i don’t have all that I want
i’ll never be satisfied
with this empty hole

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

it’s eating away at me
still i run further
i can see them chasing me
always chasing me
my most vivid unreal memory
–JLS 05/11/06

I guess maybe that symbolizes my anxieties that I can run, but not hide from.  They continue to pursue me.

I heard a kid in school onetime say that his mother had told him that if you dream the same dream three nights in a row, it will come true.

Shortly after I heard this, I had two dreams about my dad in about four night’s time.  I was so terrified I would have the third dream and it would come true that I couldn’t sleep for several nights.  The third dream never came.

The first dream, if I can remember, was my dad came back and we were talking in the kitchen.  (My dad died before I was born.) He thought I should be happy to see him, but I was really mad.  I was yelling at him that, “It was wrong you weren’t here all those years.  I had to grow up without a dad.  Do you know how terrible that is?  You want me to just forgive you?”

But in the second dream, he wanted to take me away with him and I was no longer angry.  I was asking him questions and was really curious.  I never did give him an answer in that dream.  After I woke up, I was afraid if I had another dream that I would say “yes” and I would die in my sleep in order to go with him.  It scared me very much.

I dream about tornadoes every so often.  The dreams reflect my real life feelings about them.  I am scared to death, but also very fascinated by them.  The thought of a tornado coming for me is terrifying (This time, its personal?).  Yet, the thrill of a tornado warning trip to the basement or watching a storm chaser show on TV is exciting.  (Once my husband and I drove through an area that had been hit by a tornado two weeks earlier.  Not a pretty site.  So devastating.  I couldn’t even bring myself to take pictures.)

I am out of the habit of writing down my dreams nowadays, but this dreams was very “powerful” and, once you read it you will see that it just begs to be included in a blog post. I have used it to show the format for which I record my dreams. (Click the picture to enlarge.)

As I come to the end of this post, I am torn.  Do I go back to a dream journal as a means of greater understanding of self?  Or do I face the fact that I am adult with too many other responsibilities in my life right now?

Hmmm…Maybe I will sleep on it.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

Dreams – Part One (Dream Journal)

I kept a dream journal from 1994 until a few years ago.  When my best friend in high school was interested in witchcraft, we used to go to the Barnes & Noble to look at the books about it.  I wasn’t as interested.  I looked at the dream books, which were conveniently located right next to the witchcraft.

The Dream Game by Ann Faraday

I was already interested in my dreams and writing them down, when I bought a book called The Dream Game by Ann Faraday.  It taught me two things.  The first was that the most important thing you can do is to keep a journal of your dreams.  The reason for this, as I experienced firsthand, was that as you try to remember your dreams to write them down, in time you remember more dreams and remember them more clearly.

The second is something I can’t be sure, but I think it was in the book.  I got the impression from the book that people’s dream diaries could be collected and studied.  And so, this strange assumption drove me to diligently collect and interpret my dreams for almost 15 years.  It is something I have mentioned in my blog before.  My desire to be famous, although I really have no talent for anything that would easily translate into fame.  So, I jotted down my dreams for years, thinking that someday when I died off as an old grey-haired lady, maybe someone would study them.

My very first official dream journal

I never did finish reading The Dream Game.  I am always meaning to reread it, but haven’t.  Even now, it is in my bedroom waiting to be fully read.  My first dream journal shows signs that that book made a big impression on me though.  Besides the date and description of each dream, the back contains an appendix of:

    The “emotions” the dreams evoked

    Number of instances of people and objects/themes in my dreams

    What cities I was in in my dreams

    Places in my dreams

    How many dreams I had per night

(These categories would all be so great to put into a spreadsheet, now that I know what one is).  It is strange that I started a dream journal as I was starting college.  Those four years were the least sleep I have ever gotten in my entire life.  Mostly I seemed to dream about my friends, the boys I liked, and the college building all my Communications classes were in, and Christmas (?).

Later, after college, my dream journal evolved.  I no longer kept stats at the end of each volume.  My interpretations sometimes became longer than the dreams themselves.  My green-haired friend inspired me to add additional content to my dream journal.  It now contained email conversations from my friends and pictures clipped from magazines of my favorite bands.  It morphed into a real journal, which gave the dreams a nice framework in which to be interpreted within the context of my everyday life and influences.  It also became much bulkier and more time-consuming.

For a while I tried to write down my dreams in the middle of the night, but they seldom came out legible.  Then I started writing them down in the morning when I woke up, but having to be to work on time interfered with that.  So then I started putting my dreams and interpretations into emails when I first arrived at work that I sent to my friend and kept a copy for myself.  (I am sorry to everyone who had to spend the time to delete them out of their inbox daily.)  At a later time, I would cut it off of the 8 ½” X 11” papers and glue it into my journal.

The Secret Language of Symbols by David Fontana. While not strictly a book on dream symbols, I often used this book in interpreting my dreams.

Type and paste was a great technique to get reasonably timely dream details and interpretations recorded for posterity.  But, it created a tremendous backlog of loose-leaf dreams that needed to be compiled into the journal.  At one point, I was two years behind.  Then my mom had her kidney removed and I got caught up during her recovery.  Then I got two years behind again.  And then I just threw that stuff in a Paperchase storage box and called it a “dream box” and gave up.

Now I am relegated to telling my groggy husband my dreams before I get out of bed in the morning, which he promptly forgets or never hears in the first place.  I contemplated making a separate blog to store my dreams in.  I thought that would make it funner.  But that also seems like a lot of work for something I wouldn’t really want people who don’t know me to read.  What if I dreamed about someone and they read it?  And conversely, if a person didn’t know me, why would they give a rat’s ass about my nocturnal adventures?

Come back tomorrow for Dreams – Part Two (Adventures in Dreamland)

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

OMG, who is going to read this? What are they going to think of me? Is my blog just totally lame…

Anxiety: 1. the state of being anxious. 2. concern about an imminent danger, difficulty, etc.
Anxious: 1. uneasy in the mind.

I have anxiety. It often changes how I go about living my life, but I do the best I can to not be beat down by it. For people who don’t have it (or don’t have it in large quantities), it is probably hard for them to imagine what it is like.

My most recent example is that I wanted to buy two $5 gift cards from McDonald’s. I was afraid they would yell at me for not buying food too. Then I was afraid they would yell at me for only putting $5 on the gift cards. I ended up deciding to buy only one gift card, and I bought it at Meijer while I was already there so I wouldn’t have to face the anxiety of McDonald’s at all. (Of course, in all this I forgot that the people at McDonald’s aren’t paid enough to care about anything. That is a dig at McD’s, not at the employees.)

I have dealt with anxiety all my life. When I was younger, if I felt overwhelmed by anxiety, I cried. Which is why I got picked on in school (creating more anxiety, creating more crying, etc.). The prescription drug company commercials used to make me think I had depression (which I have had twice in my life), but that is not what I have every day. My friend had pretty serious anxiety too–maybe even more than me. But she went on prescription drugs and now that is no longer one of her biggest health issues. I don’t want to be a slave to doctors & pharmaceutical companies. I don’t want to deal with side effects. I don’t want to have to take a pill everyday for something that may only hit me a few times a week. Now, if there was “FAST-ACTING ANXIETY NOSE SPRAY FOR URGENT RELIEF”, I would be all over that. The most common time anxiety hits me is when I am trying to fall asleep. I have anxiety attacks about how I don’t want to be dead one day & cease to exist. Ugh, it is making my chect tighten & my stomach churn just to write it. Nose spray would really come in handy at these times.

Here is an excerpt from an old journal I recently found which provides a nice example:

Last night at the casino the food court was more like a cafeteria and I was scared to tell the grill guy that I wanted a cheeseburger. Then I was too scared to go up and get a refill. I just feel like everyone is always going to yell at me.

And no one has ever yelled at me for such things. Here is a poem from around the same time:


I worry about things
I know about
I worry about things
I know nothing about
I worry about things
I have never done before
I worry about things
I do every day
I am beginning to feel
that I worry

My husband doesn’t understand when I ask him to do something for me because I just cannot do it myself. This usually manifests as asking for help for something in a store and having to talk to a sales associate. Or giving my son a bath. I know that when I start the bath, if he starts crying or bumps his head or something, I can’t freak out and leave him in the bathtub naked. I have to finish the bath, no matter what, all the way through to putting on his PJs. And I find this scary. And too often I let my husband give him a bath because 1. he likes to & 2. I don’t have to overcome my anxiety to do it. Anxiety is probably one of the things that kept my mom at home throughout her twenties.

Sorry. Just felt like venting. I have been cleaning my house & unearthed some old poems/emails/journals that got me on this line of thinking. I wanted this blog to be a mish-mash of my life. And this is a big part of my life, even though many close to me do not know it.

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