Surround yourself with inspiration

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For as long as I can remember, having bright, pretty things to look at has inspired me. From the colorful posters I plastered on the walls of my on-campus apartment freshman year in college to the bright red, patent leather heels that make me smile whenever I wear them, I am happiest – and do my best work – when I have pretty things to look at.

When I moved into our new home – now just over six years ago! – I wanted to wait to hang things on the walls until I could figure out exactly the perfect piece for each spot. As a consequence, most of the walls in our bedroom and office are bare. A rare exception is the wall next to my side of the bed where I wake up every morning to see this:

More Than Coffee, a limited edition print by Lehan Veenker on

Several years ago now, I stumbled upon minted, where I found this print for sale, and fell in love. There are so many gorgeous pieces on the site, created by independent artists who submit their work for consideration and are chosen by visitors to the minted site; this one spoke to me because I am obsessed with coffee. Once I’d chosen the design I wanted, I was able to easily view my options then choose the size and frame for my finished piece – saving me a trip to the framing shop plus the time to wade through all of the framing options to choose just the right one for my piece. A short time later, my limited edition print, framed and ready, arrived in the mail and went straight onto the wall in our bedroom, where it still lives today.

When I was recently approached by a representative from minted to write a review of my experience with their site, I remembered the great end-to-end experience I had with my purchase and agreed without reservation. There’s a quote on their site, in the About Us area, that I absolutely love –

“Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else.”

By giving visitors the power to choose what will be offered for sale on the site, minted allows artists from anywhere in the world to put their work in front of buyers who might not otherwise ever see it; what a neat business model.

What inspires you? And is anyone else still looking at (mostly) bare walls in their home and/or office?

Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Three things I’m grateful for this week: March 6

  • San Diego finally got some desperately-needed rain. Yes, we did get about a quarter of what we ought to get for a whole year in one very soggy weekend and yes, lots of areas flooded badly, but I was beginning to despair of ever seeing rain without going on vacation again. Also, it restores my hope that further precipitation could still happen here before the end of our rainy – ha, what a misnomer! – season.
  • Work is getting slightly less hectic. Yes, it’s still tax season and things get crazed several times a week right up until the filing deadlines but our number of weekly releases will finally start decreasing drastically with this week’s schedule and it can’t come soon enough for everyone on the team. (Working without a complete weekend off from Halloween until well into March every year is tiring.)
  • I attended the Women Get Social conference this weekend in San Diego. While I was there, I learned a few cool things from the scheduled content but even more from the three smart women I was privileged to spend most of my time with for two days – thank you, ladies!
Three fabulous bloggers (and one very fortunate one)!
Three fabulous bloggers (and one very fortunate one)!

Your turn: what are YOU grateful for this week?

High Five Friday: Sharing Project Me With the World


A few months ago, I was approached by a writer for Sanofi USA’s diabetes blog, Discussing Diabetes, to share the story of Project Me with their readers. I still don’t know how they found out about my little health-improvement plan but to say that I was excited about the prospect would be an understatement. I spent an hour at lunch time chatting with a couple of very nice women who wrote what I think is a great piece on the why and what of Project Me. Judge for yourself, if you’d like, because the piece went live yesterday afternoon.

My hope is that people living with chronic diseases, not just diabetes but any ailment that requires focus and diligence to manage successfully, will find something in what I’ve done that will help them make a positive difference in their own lives. I certainly don’t have any secrets to impart and nothing I said in that article will come as news to anyone who’s been working diligently on their own journey to better health and more happiness, but perhaps looking at things with a different perspective might help someone else find what works for them. (I hope so, anyway.)

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Three things I’m grateful for this week: February 20

  • An understanding husband. TCB puts up with my craziness, my mom’s craziness, and the craziness of my job at this time of year and he’s usually pretty even keeled about it.
  • A job that I enjoy, serving customers that I admire, with colleagues that I love. Some days are better than others but no matter what happens, I still wouldn’t trade this team, our customers, and our product for the world.
  • The ability to buy jeans off the rack and have them fit with no alterations. I can hardly form words to communicate how happy I am to very nearly be an actual, off the rack clothing size, people. Not just in knitwear or loose-fitting blouses, but in real denim jeans. The health benefits of my better lifestyle choices are what makes me get up to walk every morning and resist the leftover (homemade) scones sitting in my refrigerator since Sunday, but fitting into real jeans and feeling good about what I see in the mirror? That’s pretty satisfying.

What are you grateful for this week?

High Five Friday: A happy reminder about why I do what I do


I went to see my Primary Care Physician – as opposed to my Endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) – recently, because I am losing my hair. (Definitely NOT celebrating that development.) After congratulating me on my weight loss and explaining that it was probably the cause of my hair loss, the doctor ordered a comprehensive metabolic panel and lipid panel – blood and urine tests to look at how I’m doing with my diabetes and see if anything medical might be causing the hair loss.

We were both expecting to see good numbers for these tests, based on the healthy lifestyle changes I’m making, so I was anxiously awaiting the results letter. I received it on Wednesday and rushed to open the first envelope. Every number on the metabolic and lipid panels was much improved from this time last year, including my overall cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol – it was way too low last year and is now safely above the “low” level), triglycerides (a whopping 93% reduction in 12 months!), and fasting blood glucose (I’m smack in the middle of the “normal” range, not even near the “impaired” much less “diabetic” ranges).

Then I opened the second letter which turned out to have the results of my Hemoglobin A1c test, measuring how well my blood sugar has been controlled for the last several months. This is significant for diabetics because fasting blood glucose only measures control for a brief moment in time but the A1c shows how you’re doing overall. The ranges for this test are:

  • Therapeutic goal of American Diabetes Association = <7.0%
  • Controlled diabetics = 6.0-8.0%
  • Non-diabetics = 4.0-6.0%

Let me interject here to say that at my last test, back in June, my result was 5.8% and my Endocrinologist and I were THRILLED with that result. So thrilled in fact that he took me off of my remaining oral diabetes medication, so this month’s test is completely without medication of any kind.

So, what was my number? My latest Hemoglobin A1c reading was 5.0%. I read it, then blinked a few times because I’m blind as a bat without my reading glasses and I thought perhaps I’d misread a 6 as a 5; I hadn’t. You guys, that means that, without chemical assistance of any kind, my body now functions like a non-diabetic person’s does. Yup, I cried. A lot. Then I sent a text message to my diabetic colleagues (also friends!) at work to tell them the wondrous news and this is the message I received in return:

“I’m so happy, Denise…this is why you do what you do.”

And then I cried even harder because yes, this is exactly why I do what I do. Why I wake up every single morning – not just the days when I’m feeling good and had enough sleep the night before, nor only on the days when I have nothing else competing for my time – and make the decision, again, to put myself and my health first. To go for a walk before work and, optimally, again in the afternoon with my team. To eat smaller amounts of low-glycemic foods and to stop before I feel full because my body can’t use the extra food properly. To make an appointment with my therapist when my depression and anxiety lead to binge eating. To faithfully keep my every three month dental cleaning appointments even though I am terrified to be there and still traumatized by having 15 teeth removed in one go last July. Complacency in any of these areas will hurt my body and I don’t intentionally do that any more. (Gosh it feels good to be able to write that last sentence.)

So that’s my “win” for this week – not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Three things I’m thankful for this week: February 13

  • Sunshine. I know it’s really awful for so many people across not just this country but in other parts of the world, too, so I’m so grateful for the gorgeous weather we’re having right now in southern California. (If I could bundle some of it up to send to all of you, I would, truly.)
  • My parents are visiting for the weekend. Mummy and Daddy arrive tomorrow/Friday afternoon for a short stay and I’m so looking forward to it. Our itinerary includes the Little Italy Farmers Market, a walk along the Embarcadero, Skypeing with friends in England, and Afternoon Tea.  So much to look forward to!
  • Vacation planning. TCB surprised me last week with the news that we’ve come into a little unexpected money and we’re going to spend it on a short/lovely stay at the Lake Austin Spa Resort in May. Words cannot convey how thrilled I am that not only will I be spending five days in one of my favorite spots on Earth but that TCB will be with me. Yay!!!
yes, they really DO have yoga classes next to the lake!
yes, they really DO have yoga classes next to the lake!


What are you grateful for this week?

Three things I’m grateful for this week: February 6

  • A lessening of my anger and anxiety. I’ve spoken here before about my mental health issues and I need to write a longer post to deal with it more fully but suffice it to say that the past few weeks have been very bad and it’s starting to get better.
  • Comfortable clothes. I might look like a lumberjack today but I’m warm and cozy and I didn’t have to use any brain power to coordinate what I was going to wear. Work is tough right now and I have my Marketing class to keep up with plus spending time with TCB and The Pug – it’s a lot, so it’s nice to be able to kick my feet up on the desk with a cup of Black Currant tea and my Paul Bunyan look while I’m working.

    not pretty, but it - and I - works
    not pretty, but it works
  • My Puggy pal. I’ve always been a cat person. We had dogs when I was a kid but I never really bonded with any of them. But Alouysius T. Pug is different. His whole attitude toward life makes me smile in spite of myself. I’m so very grateful to have his little, squishy face to come home to every night!

    life is good when you're this cute
    life is good when you’re this cute

What are you grateful for this week?

High Five Friday: Finding perfect fitting jeans


I’ve mentioned before that finding jeans – or non-legging pants in general – that fit my body is difficult. With a stomach that is disproportionately large compared to my hips, rear, and thighs, I always end up with a look that would make MC Hammer from the 1990s proud. Sometimes it’s close enough to fitting that I can take it to my tailor to have the hips, rear, and thighs slimmed down but not always. (And that costs about $20 each pair of pants, which adds to their overall cost, so I have to really love them before I’ll go that route.)

About a week ago, I went in search of some khaki pants and dark-wash bootcut jeans. Now neither of these wardrobe items is so critical that I wanted to spend a ton of money on them, so I went in search of bargain options and found myself looking at these two pairs. I checked the size charts carefully and thought about recent purchases that didn’t work from the same store and skeptically clicked through to order one of each in size 12 petite. I second-guessed myself between when I ordered them and their arrival on Wednesday, right up until I slipped them on in the bathroom at work and they fit like a glove! Seriously? I know about vanity sizing but still, a year ago I could barely fit into a size 26 pair of jeans from the same retailer and now I’m size 12 – wow.

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Three things I’m grateful for this week: January 16

  • A fabulously supportive husband. If there’s ever anything I need – truly need, not just want! – for my health, for my happiness, for the house, or whatever, he’s the first one to step up and make it happen. This week’s examples include buying tickets for us to see Beauty and the Beast at our local civic theater plus supporting me as I start classes at our local community college to obtain either an AA or a certification in e-Marketing.
  • Gorgeous, warm weather. We really, really need rain here in southern California but if it’s not going to rain then let it be warm. The cold without any rain was getting tiresome, particularly for my morning walks. Now that I’m running (a little) again, it’s nice to be able to wear short sleeved workout gear instead of bundling up in five layers that I have to keep track of.
pink hat, blue shirt, white running skirt and nothing but sunshine for this morning's run
pink hat, blue shirt, white running skirt and nothing but sunshine for this morning’s run
  • Having lunch with my husband, parents, and best friend on Saturday. I can’t wait! I think I’ll have the half tuna melt (substitute whole wheat bread for the sourdough) with a cup of the Manhattan Clam Chowder. Mmmm. And it’s going to be beautifully sunny, too. Life really doesn’t get better than this, it just doesn’t.

What are you grateful for this week?

Three reasons I’m grateful this week (December 26)

  • No warm weather clothes that fit. (I know that sounds crazy, but stick with me here for a second.) The weather in San Diego has changed drastically in the last two days – from cold and blustery to nearly 80 degrees during the day. It’s been cold for such a long time that the clothes I wore when it was last warm hang off of my body  now, especially in the chest and waist areas. [And if any of you know where I can buy some inexpensive day dresses – like $25 or less – that would be fabulous.]
  • The most amazing Christmas dinner last night with my husband. We tried a new (to us) steakhouse and oh-my-gosh, was it ever good! I tracked everything that I ate but I didn’t worry about the calories and just focused on being mindful of what I was eating so that I enjoyed everything and stopped when I was full. I probably went just a smidge over the full/not full line but the apple cobbler (which came with a salted caramel milkshake) that TCB and I split was just so darned good that I had a tough time putting down the fork. I was definitely more full than I’ve been in a really, really long time, but I wasn’t physically uncomfortable and I enjoyed the heck out of every morsel that I ate.
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 29.9, which makes me, for the first time since 1998, only Overweight, not Obese or Morbidly Obese. My BMI on February 1st was 43.4, which planted me firmly in the Morbidly Obese category, with much higher risk for heart attack or stroke.

    who knew being Overweight could make me so happy???
    who knew being Overweight could make me so happy???
  • What are you grateful for this week?