New and Improved

I’ve made a few changes to my routines this year. These are deliberate choices, mind you, things I am attempting to improve.

I’ve given up my Franklin-Covey planner, which I’ve kept for 20+ years, and transitioned to a digital calendar. THIS WAS NOT EASY! As a list maker, and someone who loves to record my to-dos, I don’t get quite the same satisfaction from digital planning as I did from my paper version. But I finally made myself do it. I finally faced the reality that I was duplicating my efforts, and continuing to lug around a physical planner every day, when I could list everything once in my phone calendar and be done with it. And wagging my phone around is not optional. I know I’m always going to have my phone along for the daily parade of adventures.

I’m wearing a pedometer. I tried this once before, a few years ago, but didn’t stick with it. I’m trying to be more conscious of how many steps I walk each day. This handy guide comes from http://walking.about.com/cs/measure/a/locke122004.htm

1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index”

2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.”3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered “somewhat active.”

4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active”.

5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active”.

It helps to get a more accurate picture of how much I’m moving on days I’m not working out. So far I’ve remembered to wear it more than not, and haven’t lost or washed it (yet).

I’m taking more nutritional supplements. I’ve been really good about taking a couple of specific supplements for years, but have been really bad about adding others that are beneficial. Mostly, I don’t want to choke down a lot of horse pills every day. Now I take flax seed oil in a capsule, Osteo Bi-Flex (my mom assures me this is a good one!); calcium (Rob warns me that my bones will be fragile one of these days), baby aspirin (thrown in as a precautionary measure), and I’ve added Vitamin D and coconut oil. I’m not on prescription medication, but surely I take enough pills every day to count for something?? Maybe I won’t have to add a lot more to my regimen.

Rob and I are trying to be more thoughtful about our phone use. No answering calls while we’re eating, or watching a movie at home, or whenever we determine that we are “off.” I’m so programmed to answer if I’m within earshot this has been really difficult for me. I really want to take control of the phone. But it pulls at me. What if someone needs me? Or has something exciting to tell me? What if, what if? Well, I’m trying. Most of my difficulty lies in the fact that I only get calls from family, at least on a regular basis. A couple of times a year my dentist’s office calls me to remind me of a cleaning, and about every six weeks I get a reminder call from the salon where I get my hair cut. That’s pretty much it. So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to miss out on a Riley update, or hearing from my son, or catching up with my mom. But as I said, I’m trying. I am slightly bigger than my iPhone, so being the one in control should be quite manageable. Most of the time. Those phones are demanding little things!

I am choosing contemplative writings or how-to guides for more of my reading. Oh, I still read my favorite blogs, and I take a peek at some other sites. But I’m trying to be more selective about what I give my time to when I can really read. When I was younger I loved novels, and although I still have several favorite authors, I find that fiction doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

I’m continuing with the great clean out. Just when I think I’m done, I find some other pocket of stuff that needs a little sorting out. I think what’s really happening is that I’m ever more willing to let go of things that I’ve kept for a long time. And that feels good! I can’t deny that a new possession or two creeps in now and then. I’m impulsive, on occasion, and I’ve been known to be overcome with the need for a new kitchen gadget. But I’m better than I used to be. I was never a true shopaholic, but I’ll admit I’ve had my moments. I consider myself to be in recovery-mode now, trying to be less materialistic and more frugal and thoughtful about buying in general, and whether I possess things, or they posses me. That is sometimes that is a difficult distinction to make, I’m sorry to say.

Upward and onward!

Creative spirit

“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”
― C.S. Lewis

I’ve been thinking a lot about time, and the spending of it. I go through my days, spending my time, as if there were an infinite supply of the stuff. I have periods of great energy, great productivity, and then I slump. I hit the proverbial wall. I do the minimums. Get through my days, do my basic chores, exist. This is a frequent lament.

Why do I cycle? I can’t point to any outside influence. There are times of hurriedness, of pressure, and periods of casualness. This isn’t solely about having weekend time, or time carved out of a traditional work life. It is about a cycle of energy and creativity.

I’ve finally come to see this cycle as a break in my ability to create. And I’ve come to recognize that my creativity thrives when I am writing or engaged (whatever the activity) for the pure pleasure and desire to be creative. I am not writing or creating for other purposes. Something more may eventually come from my creativity. Let it! I would love to experience new opportunities because of work I’ve done. But for me, the work should be done for its own reward, and stand on its own merit, first. And here is where I also acknowledge: I am my own audience. This is not an exercise in self-absorption; it is an exercise in self-expression. I am writing, creating, to express myself. Period. If something I write or create touches someone else, I am humbled and happy. But that is not the focus. It can’t be the focus. Because I am not a wise woman, sharing knowledge with others. I don’t have profound thoughts. I have thoughts. I am a woman, sharing my experiences. Others can determine if there is wisdom, or joy, or humor, or anything else of value. I have come to see that creativity is its own reward.

I began this year thinking that I wanted to create a new way to work, and that I wanted to channel my work through writing, through online opportunities. I still want that end result. But I am coming around to the realization that, for me, this process has to begin with the desire to write, rather than the desire to create income. The two may be connected. Or not. I don’t have the answer to that yet. But I know that if I am writing from the heart, the practical details will sort themselves out in time. That’s the nature of life. Maybe some people can make it work from the other direction: set a goal and create to fulfill it. I can’t, and it’s time I acknowledge that.

Mystery of time


Gretchen Rubin

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
― Gretchen RubinThe Happiness Project
I love this quote. It expresses my feelings exactly! My days, though not often stressful, still seem long. I’m tired at the end of them, and I frequently feel that I didn’t accomplish all I’d hoped. In particular, my personal projects lag behind my expectations.
And yet! The weeks, months, and years fly by. Everyone notices. “I can’t believe it’s already May,” I hear, as I walk about the hospital. The year is already scheduled out. I’m working on September’s call calendar for the primary care clinic. We already know dates for vacation through December. Soon Rob and I will be discussing our work availability for fall months. Where does it go? And how does it go so quickly?
I remember my dad saying to me that time seems to speed up as we get older. Well, he was right, and I suppose most people recognize that reality. There’s some magical element to time. For little ones, it does move slowly. Excruciatingly slowly. I’m long past that stage. The years are short.
Well, there’s no changing it. I suppose the only thing to do is accept, and be ever-more thoughtful about how I spend my long days, and my short years. This is one of those realities that everyone knows, even acknowledges, yet few address. I think most of us just move through life. I have moments of great clarity. And then I get lost again, caught up in the day-to-day.
Here’s to the long days. May they be productive for us all! And here’s to the short years, which we cannot lengthen. May they be memorable! And thank you, Gretchen, for stating so succinctly, so profoundly, what we all know at heart:
“The days are long, but the years are short.”

Riley is two

Riley turns two today. We’ve already had this little joy in our lives for two years!

She’s been in the toddler stage for a while. She runs, she climbs, she’s a big girl. Tall for her age, she looks more like a three year old. But there are still some traces of babyhood, when she’s sleepy, or tired. She says a lot of words and phrases, but doesn’t quite pronounce all the consonants yet, so you have to do a little interpretive work to follow her conversation. Still, it’s obvious that she has the family gift of gab.

She’s a bit of a foodie, fascinated at her young age with life in the kitchen. She loves to explore in the pantry, and she knows where her favorite foods live in the fridge. And she likes to stir things.

She’s a modern child, she knows how to push buttons to get things…at least some things…that she wants. She watches babies and cartoon characters on You Tube. She likes to play little games on her parents’ Kindle Fire.

She knows the word “no.” She sometimes says, “No, Riley,” as if practicing on herself. She drops the “l” in Riley (one of those consonant things), but she gets the tone jussst right.

She rides a little trike, a “Dora the Explorer” trike that has lights, turn signals, and plays music. She has a few books. Just a few! The child has her own mini library, but I like that. Always a reader myself, I love to see that potential for children.

She has a bit of a temper. She’s explored the terrible twos, wandered in and out a bit already. But she’s a happy child most of the time, and is a cheerful little companion, singing in her car seat while out and about, chattering in her Riley-speak about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

She has nicknames…”Little,” or sometimes, “the Little,” and “Poo.” She knows them too. She hears them often enough, at least from me and Stephanie. I’m not sure if anyone else uses these. But they are names of affection and play. I am “Gram” to her, although I haven’t heard her say that yet. But she knows Rob’s name, “PB,” and she says it frequently, putting the emphasis on the “P,” “PeeeBe,” she says, calling him to come and see something, or identifying him in a photo.

This little girl has made a place in my heart, effortlessly climbing in and making herself at home. The child of my child is reminding me of the joys of discovery, the value of intangibles, and the strength of ties that bind. Happy birthday, Riley girl! Happy birthday, Little!

Obsessed champion

This week I gave myself a new title. I am an obsessed champion! This is a new term to me. Have you noticed how corporate entities embrace favorite trendy words…you know, the terms that you’ve never heard before, until suddenly, you hear them at every meeting, every week? I’ve been out of the corporate fold the last few months, and am back now doing a stretch of relief work. It is possible that this is the new buzz word, and I’m just late hearing it. Or maybe this is unique to the organization I’m working for. Either way, I thought it had a certain charm. “Obsessed champion” is just someone who is very focused, and very excited about…something. I met this term in the context of a new program being rolled out soon in my region, and employees will be recruited to be “obsessed champions,” spreading enthusiasm to the rest of the staff. Sort of like spreading a virus, only with positive impact.

I plan to make this a flexible title for myself. I’m not going to squander it on a one-shot deal, or some program being rolled out at work. Oh no, I’m saving this for things that are really noteworthy in life: the most decadent dessert, or a great new book; a nifty do-it-yourself skill, or some amazing new product. I can think of a lot of potential uses.

Wonder how this will look on my business card?

Miami

I started this blog as a vehicle to record random grace notes in my life, and as I observed these moments occurring around me. Some posts live up to that vision more than others. Recently, this has been more a travel journal, although a very sporadic one. And it has been, at times, a chronicle of how I/we (Rob and I) migrate toward a next home, and a redefined work life.

Today is another post on travel. But really, isn’t the best travel about grace notes? And the unexpected pleasures you find along the way? So I tell myself, I’m not really straying too far from my theme, right?

So, Miami. We chose to spend our last full week away from Alaska (heard from a friend there today…it is snowing!) in the south of Florida, partly because you can never get enough sun when you live in a rain forest, and partly to look a little closer at this region of the country. We’ve done the beach, lounged by the pool, sampled some local fare, and today we’re driving down to the Florida Keys. But that’s another post.

Miami in March is warm, actually in the perfect temperature range. Sunny and warm enough to be pleasant, but not too hot, and the humidity is about right. Most of the days have been clear, perfect for being out and about, whether meandering down one of the shopping/dining districts like Lincoln Road Mall or Ocean Drive, or strolling along the beach.

We’ve sampled some great food. Cuban food is everywhere, but this is a cosmopolitan city, so you can find great food of any cuisine you like. The local restaurants we’ve visited have been good, not necessarily expensive, but authentic. I Google “best…” and read reviews to see where to go for the best Cuban sandwich, burger, etc., in Miami. People – reviewers – are amazingly frank and generous in giving their opinions, sharing the good and bad. A plethora of restaurants along Ocean Drive have outdoor dining. You can also find an amazing variety on Lincoln Road Mall, everything from Italian to Sushi to pub grub. Eating outdoors is a particular pleasure in this season because it is warm. Not hot. Warm. And if the evening gets even the slightest bit chilly, the big outdoor patio warmers appear, and then it is warm again. Mmmmm, my favorite.

We’ve had the benefit of Google maps to help us navigate the city, so haven’t gotten too lost. The traffic has been good in the evenings, not so good during the day. This is a metropolis, after all, and a big one. The drive into Miami Beach from Doral, where we’re staying, is lengthy, up to an hour, depending on traffic. Driving over during the day, you get a beautiful view of the waterways and the huge skyscraper buildings that are iconic to downtown Miami.

The historic Art Deco section of town is amazing, with old buildings that have been lovingly preserved or restored to perfection. You can learn about celebrities of the past who used to stay in this hotel, or frequent this restaurant. There are restaurants and night spots, upscale stores and tourist traps, positioned randomly throughout the district. Imagine my surprise at seeing a “Duck Tour” bus yesterday (amphibious vehicles that take tourists around town and into the water.) Ketchikan has Duck Tours too. You walk down the streets of Miami Beach and see a mix of people, the ones who are obvious tourists, like us, and the “beautiful people,” the rich young residents of this area who typify the South Beach look. And there are the hawkers who are trying to persuade you to come in to their restaurant, shop their store, buy cigars. Yes, cigars. There are actually cigar girls, who stroll around with boxes of cigars for sell. Makes me think of old artwork I’ve seen or magazine ads that show “cigarette girls” from some long-ago era. But this is today, and they are selling cigars. We actually watched cigars being hand-rolled at a street shop. Very labor intensive.

Little straw fedora hats are in style here, for both men and women, and huge heels. I’m fearful for some of these women walking around on the heels I’ve seen. Now, I like a good heel as much as any short woman, and in my work environment, or any time I go out “dressed up,” I wear heels. Just part of the look. But I’m talking about a whole new animal here. These women are on stilts!

Clothing is all over the place. I see a lot of long (I mean floor length) knit dresses that are worn any time of day. On the other end of the spectrum, yesterday I saw a string bikini that gave new meaning to the word “string.” And prices of swim suits…I looked at a few that were in the $200 range…nothing special. I know Miami Beach is a high rent district, but still…there are a few stores in the area that haven’t heard of recession.

Well, if you visit in March, be prepared. You’ll want to reserve in advance (this is spring break season, you know). And if you’re driving, be prepared to park and walk for a while. We parked a few blocks away from the beach yesterday, but to really experience Ocean Drive, or the Art Deco district, or any of the other major downtown areas, you need to walk. Taking in the sights, sampling a little of this, a little of that…you can almost feel like you’re one of the “beautiful people.”

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