The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

10 Day You Challenge: Day 9

Day 9: Nine Loves (in no particular order)

  1. My husband.  Awww…..right?  Yes, I love my husband more than words can say.  He is kind, generous, fun and believes in me more than anyone else in my life!  I can’t say how much he means to me.  I don’t know where I would be without him.
  2. My dog.  She’s been in my life for 12 years, and as a 13.5 year old dachshund/beagle mix, she’s losing her hearing and becoming more obstinent as she ages, but gosh darn it I love that grumpy old lady!  She can still make me smile even when I don’t want to, just by being her adorable and sweet self.
  3. My family.  Of course, right?
  4. Being active.  I love to move – whether it’s an exercise class or playing in the park.  Today I took a step class to mix things up a bit.  I am very out of touch with step lingo, but held my own alright.  But I had fun because I was moving!
  5. A good book.  I love to get lost in an incredible story.  A good book that you don’t want to put down at night and pick back up first thing in the morning is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
  6. Traveling.  Seeing the world, both ordinary and extraordinary, just makes me happy.  I love to pack a bag and explore something new.
  7. Baking.  There’s something about putting flour, sugar, butter and eggs together and making something that smells and tastes divine that really touches my soul.  I just wish there were fewer calories in baked goods!
  8. A good bout of silliness.  The kind that gives you the giggles when you think about it hours after it occurred.  It can be anything from making funny faces to playing a game from childhood.  Life is sad without silly time.
  9. Getting a good massage.  (And yes, there are bad massages – trust me, I’ve had some!).  A relaxing and rejuvenating massage can make me feel blissful and renewed.  It can make your troubles seem so little and give you hope and happiness for life.  A good massage can be a lifesaver!
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Challenge of the Week: Defining a Life

You know that song Losing my Religion by R.E.M?  I’m finding it a little to close to home right now.  Though it’s not about religion, and one can argue that the REM song isn’t about religion either.  It’s about self.  I feel like I’ve lost myself.

I think all of my life I’ve followed along with the crowd.  A lot of this has to do with my childhood.  Being the youngest of two siblings, born 7 years after the other, my voice was often unheard.  As a child, of course my older brother’s teenage voice and opinion was much more important than my own.  And somewhere along the way I learned to just do what I was told or what was expected.  Not that I didn’t have my rebellious moments, but really they were few and far between.

And as an adult, I’m still in those patterns.  As a single adult, I was still very much treated like that of the much younger child. Me, a single gal renting a one bedroom apartment, had little say in what family activities were going on.  I was to follow the leader, which was generally the busy family of 4’s (my brother’s family) schedule.  So I spent my time going to t-ball games, dance recitals and watching the kids play in their yard or living room.

And with friends, yep, a follower as well.  I was never one to pick up the phone and call a friend to hang out.  It did happen, but probably not as much as it should.  I never suggested things to do.  I would just tag along with whatever my friends wanted to do.  My family life carried over into my friendships.  And obviously friendships don’t grow strong and last when you act like that.  I had a few friends call me on it.  They were right, but I always had excuses in my back pocket too.

So in general, I was taught early on my opinion didn’t “count”, so I just stopped having an opinion and went along with what the group said or did.  That is not a very good way to develop social skills or a sense of self.

(Note, I’m not blaming anyone, just sharing my thoughts.)

And now here I am, a married woman, and I just follow the lead of my husband.  I feel like I’m riding on his coat tails, just hoping he’ll bring me along for the ride.  And we have the typical conversations I have with really anyone in my life prior:

Him: “What do you want to do tonight?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

And yes, he has called me out on not making decisions too.

With this said, if I really don’t want to do something, I won’t and I’ll make it clear.  But, if I’m impartial, I won’t say yes, I won’t say no, I won’t say a word.

This leads to a lot of missed opportunities, frustrations, and boring nights spent staring at the television.

This also leads to my quarterly breakdown because I’ve become so overwhelmingly frustrated with my lack of life that I lose it.

And yes, I had one of those this weekend.  My husband’s life right now is busy, and mine is free and clear, nothing but free time.  While I spend my free time reading, cleaning or watching tv, and usually bored and feeling a bit bad for “wasting my life”, he is out socializing with co-workers at sporting events, experiencing new things and going on vacations with his friends, leaving me in the dust.

I want him to live his life and have fun.  And I feel guilty for being jealous and wanting him around because I’m bored.

So what to do?  That’s a tough question.  One I’ll be thinking about A LOT.

My challenges idea for the blog was designed to help me get this “life” I’ve been craving.  But I’m not sure it’s leading me down the right path.  Either I’m not focusing on the right things, not challenging myself enough, or both.

Usually I jump into joining a group (like my book club – which I didn’t go to on Sunday), signing up for volunteer positions (which are about as hard to get as a job!) or apply for jobs (jobs are still very hard to get!).  None of those have been working though.  So what will?

But I guess that’s my challenge for this week.  To think about specific steps (and some vague one’s too) to help better my life.  Because what’s going on now, let me tell you, it’s not working.

If anyone has any thoughts, suggestions, books, articles, etc. you think can help me, please pass those along!  I’m gonna need all the help I can get on this one.


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10 Day You Challenge: 10 Fears

I don’t know if it’s the return of the Southern humidity or what, but man have I been dragging lately!  My days have seemed long and difficult, but I’m trucking through.  Hopefully soon my body will adjust and I can get back to my normal bouncy (more or less) self.

I’ve been keeping up with my studies though.  Yay!  I think I should have my flash cards done by Sunday (as long as I force myself to keep studying during the weekend).  And then the power sessions begin.  Flash cards here I come with 19 days left to my big exam!

I am a frequent read of the blogger Peanut Butter Fingers.  I like her light yet informative style, and seeing others live their lives with love and joy always inspires me to do the same.  It’s a little odd that she recently announced she’s moving to my hometown.  Whenever I read others blogs they always seem almost like fictional characters to me – they live far away and have lives different from mine.  I guess her move will kick the reality back into blog reading for me!

She’s done some posts on the 10 day you challenge and I thought it would be a fun way for my readers to get to know me and maybe I’ll get to know myself a little better as well.  So without further ado, here we go.


Day 1: Ten Secrets.

  1. I talk to myself.  A lot.  I’m alone the majority of the day, except for my sweet pup.  So I will talk to her, but most of the time I talk to myself.  It has carried over into public venues and I’m pretty sure people tend to think I’m crazy when I do that.  I do try to at least just mouth the words when I’m out in public – but I doubt that looks any saner!
  2. I’m kind of a body hater right now.  I haven’t always been like this.  There’s always been parts of me I am less comfortable than others, like my big post-gymnastics thighs or my small chest.  But as I’ve gotten older I got comfortable with these parts of myself.  But ever since I turned 30 (I’m now 34), my body has changed.  I can’t keep up the same lifestyle and still stay fit and trim.  So things are jiggling a little more than I’d like now and I won’t wear certain clothing items because I don’t feel comfortable in them.  Plus I hear myself complaining about being fat a lot (though I know I’m not).  I hate that I’m a body hater again.  I need to fix that!
  3. I sometimes get really jealous of my husband’s job.  He has a very stressful, but somewhat normal, full-time office job.  I’ve been “in between jobs” for quite a while now.  I have had a stressful full-time office job before and HATED it.  I know it’s not for me.  But I also know being home alone isn’t for me either.  So I get jealous that he gets to get dressed up, go to work, interact with people, accomplish things during the day, get paid.  After spending day after day wearing pj’s or sweats all day, cleaning house and talking to the dog (or myself), his life looks pretty glamorous.
  4. When I was in the 6th grade, I mailed a fan letter to Leonardo DiCaprio through one of those Teen Beat magazines.  And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I included a picture of myself.  And the only picture I could find was my softball picture!  I remember thinking it was odd at the time, but still sent it in.  Oh my – how embarrassing!!
  5. I’m a control freak to the 1000th degree.  I must have complete control of myself and my actions at all time.  This is one of the reasons why I don’t like alcohol.  I want to control myself!
  6. I was scared of the dark well into my 20s.  After a night-light became too “young” for me, I just kept a television on (on mute) to keep light in the room.  Now I can’t sleep if there is light in the room.  But that fear stuck with me for a long time!
  7. I’m not ticklish.  I never have been.  If people try to tickle me, it’s just incredibly annoying and feels like they are poking me.  It definitely does not give me the giggles!
  8. I have 2 major addictions: diet Sunkist and chapstick.  While in Paris, I was surprised at how well I did without my Diet Sunkist.  But I love it and crave it most of the time.  And I always, always have a chapstick near by or in a pocket.  I can’t live without it.
  9. I’m a closet perfectionist.  I don’t think people would think this of me when they meet me (though maybe they do – not sure).  I don’t like to do anything I know I can’t do well.  If I can’t do something, it drives me nuts.  I stay calm outwardly, but really it kills me on the inside.  I have thoughts of having to obsessively practice until I get it right.  Luckily I’ve never done that, but it definitely eats at me when I am not perfect at something.
  10. I hate shaving my legs!  Luckily I have blonde hair and can get away with not shaving more-so than others, but there are times when I really need to shave and I opt to wear pants just to avoid doing it.  It’s kinda gross!
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Book Club Challenge

My challenge for this week won’t actually occur until this weekend.  So I have the whole week to psyche myself up (or freak myself out)!

A few months ago I went to a book club meeting for women in my area.  I found it online and knew no one there, so actually going was a pretty big deal for me.  But I went, I chatted, and I survived and actually enjoyed myself.

I went because I want to make some new friends.  I’ve told the story of how it’s hard for me to make friends before, so I won’t go into another diatribe about that.  If you want to read, check out my blog post here.  In short, being 34, married without kids, and the quiet reserved type is difficult because even though I’m sure there are other women out there like me, they are very hard to find.

Anyway, so I met some lovely girls at the last book club meeting but have not seen or spoken to any of them since then.  I have another book club meeting coming up this weekend so I thought I’d challenge myself to maybe help move this friendship train along.

So my challenge this week is to try to set something up (or at least suggest something) to get together again before the next meeting.

If there are no takers, no problem.  If it’s just talked about and never gets done, ok.  But at least I’ll have made a step in the right direction by showing interest and inviting others.  That’s a HUGE step for me!

On my continuing study challenge, I have studied for one hour today.  Not too bad since I’ve been swamped with meetings, errands, cleaning, exercise, life, etc. today.

What I focused on today was the different ways to measure health.  Most of us just look at a scale.  And that’s a pretty good barometer of our health, but it’s not the whole picture.

For instance, did you know that your waist measurement is a huge indicator for cardiovascular health?

If you store fat around your tummy area, what we normally call the apple body type (scientific name – android obesity), then you are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease than if you store your weight in you hips and thighs, or the pear shape (gynoid obesity).


So, two people can be the exact same height and weight, but the one who stores his/her weight in her hips and thighs is much better off health wise than the person who carries their weight in the stomach area.

For women, healthy is a waist circumference (measure at your belly button) of 35 inches or lower.  For men, 39 inches or below is considered healthy.

We all want the perfect little waist and six-pack abs – but cardio is the key to get you there!  Aerobic exercise burns calories.  So go out and get moving!

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Study Challenge Results

It’s Sunday evening and as I type this I’m happy yet unhappy with my achievement of my challenge for this week.

Happy because I did study and learn!  Yay!

Unhappy because I feel like I could have done much more.  I got in about 6 hours of studying time this week, 60% of my goal.

Monday (Memorial Day) I completely flaked and didn’t even glance at my books, even though I had time.

Tuesday was back to real life after a lovely long weekend, and, I got in an hour and a half of studying.  Same goes for Wednesday.  Not bad considering I was working AND had a ton of household to-do’s.

Thursday and Friday I had no outside work to do, so I figured I’d bang out a ton of hours in then.  But both days were an hour and a half each.

Saturday – another flake day.

Today, a whopping 30 minutes.

I’m a visual learner so I’m making flash cards.  I spend time reviewing all flash cards I’ve made, then go to my notes and make more.  Today I didn’t even get through all my flash cards in the 30 minutes.  I do think I’m close to the end of the flash cards and once I get through making those I can zoom through my studying!  My study goal this week is to finish all flash cards.

So I didn’t reach my goal of 10 hours, but I did learn that really an hour and a half of studying is about all I can take in a day.  I have the type of mind that either is hyper-focused or hyperactive.  I can focus really hard, and sometimes for hours at a time, zoning out the outside world and all the exists is the task at hand.  Other times I get distracted by the simplest things.  And I think it just depends on my mood and level of alertness, because I really haven’t found a reason as to what makes me focus more one time than another.

I can become laser-focused on the most mundane things, like making a to-do list.  I don’t hear my husband talking to me, the pitter patter of the dog underfoot, the TV blaring, the phone ringing.  Nothing can snap me out of my focus.

Then I can sit down to read a very interesting book and barely get through a page without zoning out.

Strange.  But that’s me and I have to work within my limits.  So I guess 10 hours a week of studying is doable, if I don’t take any days off.  Which with my schedule is not likely to happen.  I can however, make a promise to myself to study at least one and a half hours every weekday.  That’s not bad at all!

And yes, I did schedule my exam for Tuesday June 24th.  So 24 days to go folks!  Let’s get this thing done! (I can’t wait!)


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Challenge Time: Hit the Books

So after some life rearrangements, personal insight and just sheer force of will, I’m reinstituting my weekly challenges!  I’ve been a bit unhappy with my normal routine and life just hasn’t been satisfying me the way it has in the past.  So, time to work on making a change and bringing more happiness into my life.  These challenges will help me move in the right track towards happiness, healthiness and achievements.

This goal may not excite some of you, but it’s a necessary evil for me.  Its study time!

I will soon be taking the ACSM Health & Fitness Specialist Exam and it’s time to really buckle down and learn!  My goal for this week is to get at least 10 hours of study time in.  For students, this is probably a low number.  For me, it’s a bit high.  With work, family time, chores, errands, feeding, and much more, I may find it difficult to carve out 10 hours this week, but it must be done.

By the end of the week, I hope to have a better gauge of how prepared I am to take the test.  And therefore, Challenge part 2 for the week is to schedule the exam.  That makes it real – yikes!

And I promise I won’t bore you guys with complaints about study time this week, but I will share with you interesting tidbits I’ve learned and other fun stuff I hope happens this week!

Time to hit the books!



It’s still hard for me to believe that less than a month ago I was in Paris!  I’ve never been that far from home and only been out of the country for short trips to Mexico and Canada, let alone on a different continent.   It was a dream.  And even though my high school (and a bit of college) French got us nowhere with communication, we still made it through with little confusion and a ton of fun!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures to get you through the rest of Friday!

Notre Dame cathedral.  Breathtaking outside and in!

Notre Dame cathedral. Breathtaking outside and in!

Eiffel Tower


a bit of fun for all the DaVinci Code fans out there!

a bit of fun for all the DaVinci Code fans out there!













Just a glimpse of Versailles

Just a glimpse of Versailles


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Goal setting

I’ve been living by winging it lately, and it’s time to get a plan going.

There are times when I like spontaneity, like taking a different route on a walk or drive, or stopping into a new store or restaurant.

Ok, I guess that’s not so much spontaneity as a slight change in my normal routine.


Yes, I’m a routine girl.  I get bored with my routines from time to time, and switch them up for a different routine.  But usually, I have a routine.  And even in my winging it mode of late, I have had a routine.  It’s just not working for me so well.  I clean, I cook, I take care of the dog, but that’s not exciting or inspiring.  Plus, I have some goals I want to reach, and my routine is not heading me in my goals direction.

So what do I want to accomplish?

Career: I want to change careers and get into a better part-time position by the end of the summer.  Lofty, I know.  But if I’m honest, that’s what I want.

Education: I mentioned I am studying for the ACSM Health & Fitness Specialist exam.  Recently the word study is to be used loosely, as I’ve lost a lot of momentum in that area.  Mainly because I don’t have study time in my routine.  So I want to take the exam no later than the end of June and of course, pass.

Family: I want to have more of a connection with my extended family.  I haven’t seen many of my extended family in 3 years until I saw them again at my grandfather’s funeral.  They are great people.  I want to be able to develop a better relationship with them.

I also want to continue to grow my husband and I’s relationship.  We are doing great (I read somewhere the 3rd year of marriage is the happiest – and we are coming up on our 3rd anniversary!) but I want to make sure we are strong and stay strong, as marriage is not always easy.

Attitude: I want to be more positive and energetic.  Some of this will be gained by taking care of myself physically.  The main part will be stress management.  I can become an anxious mess at time which really brings out the negativity and kills the energy.

Physical: Ultimately I would like to run a half marathon.  I’m not sure if my joints can handle it.  And if they can’t, ok.  But I would like to at least try.

Also in this category, I’ve become a bit of a sugar addict as of late.  I need to kick that habit!

Social: I want to continue to challenge myself to meet new people and interact with others through various social situations, including but not limited to book club, volunteer opportunities and fitness classes.

Spiritual: I would like to find a church home.  My husband and I have talked about this but have never put the plan into action.  Time to start acting!

So, my challenges will all be geared toward reaching the above goals.  Some challenges will be long-term and others short.  Some may be more interesting to read about than others (though I will always try to give you something good to read!).  But what better way to challenge yourself than to guide you toward your goals!



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Swollen lip saga

This weekend was nice, but alas, as always too short.

We started out Friday evening heading up to my in-laws to participate in a garage sale.  My husband had an item he was dying to sell, and unfortunately at the end of the night, the item was still in hand.  Darn!

And then I awoke Saturday morning with lips that were red, swollen and oh so uncomfortable.  I either have a severe case of chapped lips (my lips definitely tend to run dry!) or it’s an allergy.  I have a ton of environmental allergies that rear their ugly heads in weird ways.  I’ve gotten hives on my chest from what I assume was a pollen allergy, an itchy rash on my face from a possible weed allergy, and now I have swollen lips that is possibly from an allergy.  Ice, antihistamines and some lip balm are helping, but unfortunately I’m not fully healed and the antihistamines wipe me out!  I’m walking around looking a bit like I just ate a cherry popsicle!  Embarrassing!

Saturday my husband was able to finally sell his item, and then he rushed on off to his soccer playoffs.  I would have loved to go watch but with the possibility of an allergen making my lips even worse, I stayed away.  Instead I hung out with the dog, doing nothing in particular.

Sunday was almost a repeat of Saturday.  I did go out for a run on Sunday afternoon and I did great for a while but 12 minutes in my body kept screaming at me to stop.  So I slowed my pace way down and jogged home.  Not the greatest run, but at least I did something.  I think it’s just my body is clearly fighting something, so I tire out a bit easier.

With all this going on I really haven’t had much of a chance to think about anything else.  I have a tendency to rely on medical information on the internet way too much and I look a images of swollen lips to see if they match mine, read message boards and articles about swollen lips.  Nothing really has made anything any more clear.  I just fear if I go to the doctor they won’t know what is going on either, won’t be able to help  and I will just waste $45 copay and of course my time.

It seems like I’m always developing some weird health issue.  At least it’s not anything horrible and just some irritated lips.

So tomorrow I really need to sit down and put some thought into my action plan for the next few months.  I’ve just been winging life lately and it’s been fine, but I feel a bit out of sorts.

I hope everyone is having a great, allergy-free day!

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The perfect week

It’s finally Friday!  It’s been a busy week for me and I thought the weekend would never come!  But come 2pm, I’m a free bird – well, as free as I ever really am.

This has been the first full normal week for me in quite a while.  I have a lot to catch everyone up on, and those posts are soon to come.

The last week in April, I was away on vacation to a place I never thought I’d be able to visit.  Paris, France!  It was surreal and I’m still processing it.  I hope to post my Paris recap post sometime next week.

Then after I got back from vacation, my grandfather passed away.  That was a hard time and it too still seems surreal.

Now, I’m finally finished with a normal week and it was exhausting.  I always want to jump all in and do everything perfectly, but that’s not me and that’s not real life.  So it was a bit disappointing, as always, that I didn’t have the “perfect week”.

What is a “perfect week” in my eyes?

  • getting in my fully planned exercise schedule and beasting it!
  • cooking yummy delicious meals every day
  • having energy and being full of joy 24/7
  • having quality time with my husband every night (you know, the type you see in romantic comedy’s – lots of giggling and sharing and snuggling)
  • keeping my home picture perfect clean

Tall order, right?  I guess it’s possible to have a perfect week, but highly unlikely.

I did exercise every day, but I’m a day behind in my running.  Monday I was exhausted so I did a some weight training instead of running.  Tuesday I had a great run, and so I was going to run again on Thursday.  (I always try to have at least a day of non-running activities in between runs.)  Well Thursday was the storm that never ended.  Seriously.  Within 5 minutes of waking up, around 6:35am, we were under a tornado warning.  The tornado actually touched down in a neighborhood a few miles away from my home.  Scary!  So no running.  I did run today, but that means I’m a day behind in my running.

Cooking happened once this week.  This was mainly due to the fact that our fridge broke over the weekend and I didn’t completely trust it was fixed for a few days.  I didn’t want to buy a bunch of groceries only to throw them out again.  So we ate out a lot.  I did cook last night and it was yummy!  Here’s what I made:

Chicken Stuffed with Pesto
Roasted broccoli with garlic
lemon ice cream (I cut this recipe in half and it was the perfect amount for just the 2 of us!)
White chocolate chip shortbread cookies (I was working on some items for a condo we rent out and forgot to check on these cookies so they were slightly overbaked and crispy around the edges, but still yummy!)

Energy has been scarce this week.  Probably due to schedule changes, more demands and responsibilities, and also I have a heart condition that can cause me to just be drained.  So there have been nights I fell asleep on the couch at 6pm.  Really, yes, 6pm.

Falling asleep and being exhausted doesn’t lead to great quality time with the husband.  We are happy and spend time together, but it’s not that perfect rom-com way.

And the house is clean enough, but not picture perfect.

But again, like my Wednesday post said, I’m working on accepting myself as I am now.  I have an ailment that can drain my energy.  That’s ok.  There is nothing I can do about it and even though I wish it wasn’t so, it is.  So I need to allow myself to have time to relax.

And even though I didn’t beast my exercise plan, I worked out every day.  There were days I could have easily laid on the couch and not done anything.  And man there were days I really wanted to!  But I didn’t.  I always did something and gave it my best effort.

You can’t predict appliance difficulties.  We did the best that we could with the situation we had.  It’s ok not to cook every night.  We were fed and that’s what is important.  Plus I did make an awesome meal last night!

My husband and I are doing great.  Every night doesn’t have to be a tickle-fest.  Having just a great kiss hello (or goodbye) or holding hands while walking the dog is special.  Those movies are really kind of cheesy anyway!

And the house is clean.  Not picture perfect because 2 people and a dog live here.  But it’s lovely, and safe, and a healthy environment for all of us.

So I guess, really, I did have a perfect week.  I did the best that I could.  And really, you can’t ask for anything more than that.


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