Have a nice trip…ouch!

FeetAs I was picking myself off the floor at San Francisco airport today after a nasty fall, I wondered how I could have walked all over San Francisco this week without a wobble, yet I couldn’t walk through the airport without falling on my face. I decided I would blame it on the over-sized (a.k.a collossal) manuals I was carrying back from the training class I attended. I walked around all week with my San Francisco essentials (laptop, scarf, jacket, coffee ) and there was no falling down. Today the only difference was the extra load in my bag. It is possible that my shoes were to blame, but they are very comfortable Dansko.

Maybe I could blame an earthquake for my fall? Could the earth have moved below my foot causing me to lose my balance? I was thinking back to previous trips to the Bay area and maybe this area just makes me klutzy overall. I remember a trip from several years ago where I was walking along a sidewalk with a friend. We were talking and I must not have been paying attention then I walked right into a sign. Falling on my face, walking into signs, maybe all these are signs that it is time to go home or that this place makes me klutzy! During my walks around San Francisco this week I was reminded that it is one of the few cities in the US where you don’t need (or want) a car. Unless you want to leave the city a car isn’t needed (why would you leave, it has everything you need?).

Being in San Francisco reminded me of my trips this year to Israel and Italy. Being in a city is a completely different experience from the country or the suburbs. I like it. I felt like it is one of the few cities I could actually feel comfortable living in. Besides my falling, this trip was great! I like the cool ocean air, the energetic vibe of the city, and of course an excuse to walk through all of it! I remember as a kid my grandmother always asked, “Does anyone want to go for a walk?”. I always said, “Yes”. I am still saying, “Yes”. Whether it walking in the mountains around Phoenix, the Tuscan hillsides, the beach in Bat Yam, or the hilly streets of San Francisco I am still saying,” Yes, I want to go for a walk.” No fall on my face will keep me from walking, even if it is with a limp and a bruise on my knee. Where do you like to walk?

Fun-day Monday

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Having the day off today was nice. The weekend was busy, but a nice kind of busy. I was able to escape from work more this weekend than I have in the last few months. I enjoyed getting time to totally focus on something besides work. A regular 2-day weekend just doesn’t seem like enough time off. A 3-day weekend is just slightly better. What I really needed was a full 2 weeks, but that is not always feasible.

The extra time this weekend allowed me to clear my mind to establish new norms in my thinking. Sometimes ‘getting away from it all’ is less about physically getting away and more about mentally getting away. Trying something new or unusual brings your mind to a place where it can focus. This weekend’s escapes included a hike at McDowell Mountain Park, a birthday party at the Phoenix Zoo, and lunch on the patio at Chelsea’s Kitchen. What I realized today, is that there is always more work for us to focus on, but not always more time to enjoy family. Maybe it is time to put focus and emphasis on things that do not always include work?

What did you do this weekend for your mental escape? Did you get to spend the time with your family?

Poop in my Path

I dedicate this blog entry to my son Tucker because of his love of poop….

I was running on the sidewalk path around the green space near my home, when I saw it. Something small and dark was located directly on the path in front of me. It looked like dog poop that someone had stepped in. As ran by, careful to avoiding stepping in it, I convinced myself that it must be mud and not poop. That was it, just a bit of dirt on the sidewalk nothing to worry about. It seemed a reasonable explanation. I continued running down the path, sure that nothing else would get in my way.

Just when I had myself convinced it was mud, I saw another thing on the path. There was no mistaking it this time, it was definitely dog poop. It appeared to be from a small dog because I didn’t have to run like a hurdler to avoid it, but still, it was dog poop nonetheless. I had to ask myself, how could a dog owner leave a pile of poop like that in the middle of the path? There couldn’t be anything easier to pick up and put it where it belongs – in the trash can.

I certainly understand why some people are squeamish about picking up dog poop, but doesn’t it make sense that someone who owns a dog should not fear the scooping of poop? As a parent of two kids I was expected to change diapers which involves poop. And a lot of it. Some of which I was sure were deposited from an alien and not my cute little baby. With the idea of revenge I wondered if it would be suitable for me to place in the middle of the walking path a dirty diaper filled with poop for a small dog to walk through? It seemed preposterous, although fair. I mean some of these dog owners are putting me in harm’s way, leaving dog poop there for me to step in, so why shouldn’t I do the same in return.

Maybe I sound like I am not compassionate. Maybe you think I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill-sized dog poop? I used to have 2 medium size dogs (that generated Rocky Mountain-sized poop) and I had to pick it up and dispose of it. I didn’t like it, but it came with owning the dog. Why can’t other dog owners take the same responsibility? I realize my idea of dropping babies diapers in the middle of a walking path is ridiculous (my kids are too big for diapers). I have to ask myself where does the poop dropping end? First little dog poops, then big dog poops, then baby poops and then people dropping there pants on the sidewalk to leave a passing gift for everyone who dares venture by.

To all those responsible dog owners out there I applaud you. Responsibility in our society seems to have hit an all-time low – whether it is mortgage payments or dog poop, people need to clean up their own messes (in this case their dog’s) whether the mess is big or small. Because even a lot of small poops can create a big pile of SH*$*%$. I am tired of cleaning up other people’s messes or potentially stepping in. All I want a little peace and quiet during my run along the green space which seems to be getting browner by the second.

Rocking On!

Scaling the WallEarlier this week I tried rock climbing and now I am definitely feeling it. Like any sport (if you haven’t done it before) you will experience sore and aching muscles after the first time out, or in this case, the first time up. I learned the basics of climbing and belaying. Was the belaying really supposed to be harder than the climbing? We spent a lot of time learning the belaying, and tying on, but for climbing we didn’t get any instruction (other than don’t climb until your belayer is ready!).

My first trip up the wall I didn’t think about the height, at least not until I made the mistake of looking down. That person holding my rope down there sure looked small? It felt unnatural being so high up with only little fake rocks to grab ahold of. A few deep breaths and encouragement from my friends below enabled me to scale the wall like Spider man all the way to the top. Once I got used to the ‘repelling down’ part of the activity, I was a lot less worried about falling and the height was no longer a concern.

After climbing for a while, we watched how a pro does it. They appeared to dance over the rocks instead of ‘climb’ like the rest of us. Rock climbing is a beautiful sport when you watch someone do it right (I wasn’t quite there yet). Clearly it was going to take me a lot of practice to move gracefully over the rocks, but it sure would be fun trying. I am definitely looking forward to the next opportunity to rock climb. Too bad I don’t have a rock wall in my back yard because it would get a lot of use. Then again, I would need someone to belay me, or at least encourage me when I got too high up the wall!

A novel in a month? Is this a joke?

Several months ago I signed up for the unbelievable task of writing a whole fiction novel in one month a.k.a. NANOWRIMO. The fiction novel must be 50,000 words to qualify as a winner. (No, I did not add extra zeros there!) This particular novel-writing event is about quantity and not necessarily quality. No one reads the actual words, you just need to churn it out. I like this idea of focussing on creativity and not on structure, sentences, grammar, or spelling. How often in our lives can we focus for just one month on accomplishing a life-long dream? Maybe for me it is a life-long dream but for someone else it would be a nightmare.

I volunteered for staring at a blank page every single day of November with the objective of creating new and unique characters and then actually making them do something exciting, memorable, or at least interesting enough for others to read. I am not fooling myself on this challenge, because I know it will be a lot of hard work, but at the same time I am embracing it. The same way a marathoner embraces running. For me, I am running a race – a 30 day, 50k word race instead of a 26.2 mile foot race.

Some people might think I have signed up for a challenge of misery. Then again, I think people who sign up to run a marathon are the ones asking for misery. I am a runner – I know of what I speak. I ran a 1/2 marathon of which I was glad for the accomplishment, but I think I hit my limit on distance. I guess for writing, I am wondering what my ‘distance’ is. Can I go the distance and meet the deadline?

I ask anyone who is a novice writer, a wannabe writer, or a published writer to participate in this global event with me. Think about what you can accomplish:
1) Get carpal tunnel syndrome in just one month
2) Write a novel before Christmas and still have time for Christmas shopping
3) Save me from suffering this self-inflicted misery alone
4) Cross the finish line with a novel in hand
5) Share celebratory champagne, root beer, or cranberry juice with me on midnight on November 30th

Are you going to join in or just stand on the side-lines to cheer me on?

These Shoes are for Working

Now that I am unemployed from my ‘work from home job’, I had reason to leave the house to meet a friend for coffee. I erroneously chose to wear shoes instead of ‘work from home’ flip flops. My feet were not prepared for real shoes since my delicate feet are accustomed to open and airy flip-flips. I am a bit worried should I need to take a job in an office where wearing real shoes is required. I am confident my feet can adjust, but I feel bad that I will need to put them through such torture.

Today I felt like the kid on the monkey bars for the first time who hasn’t had time to build up callous on his hands.
For me my pain (and blisters) were on the bottom of me feet. It isn’t that I don’t like shoes. I have many pairs. It is just that they haven’t seen daylight for years. Many shoes have never seen Arizona daylight, and have calmly waited for escape from the closet since the move from Oregon three years ago. As soon as I moved to Arizona, I started wearing sandals and flip-flops and I haven’t looked back (at the shoes) since. Are flip-flops a habit or a necessity? My feet sweat too much in regular shoes here, it is embarrassing. Especially if your nose gets too close to my feet. For me flip-flops are a necessity.

I know, I know, in the name of fashion I need to wear too tight, too high, shoes that make my feet uncomfortable and sweaty. The thing is that on most days I never leave the sofa (I mean office), so who cares what shoes I am wearing? If I do venture out to Starbuck’s, the grocery store or the daily drop-off/pick-up of the kids – my foot attire doesn’t really matter. Does it? Should I be worried about what people are saying about my shoes? What do my shoes say about me anyway? Will people not like me because of my shoes?

For today anyway, my black backless leather mules who got to stroll down Arizona Avenue said, “Wow, it is nice to be outside the closet!”. However, the shoes seemed to be ungrateful and punished me with blisters. The mules are back in the closet recovering from their outing, as my feet recover from the pain they inflicted. This afternoon I am back in my flip-flops who are always grateful and never give me blisters. For now anyway, my feet are getting a reprieve from the torture of working in an office every day. Funny how I am more worried about my feet getting through a day in the office than I am about myself. I definitely think my soul and my mind are stronger than my feet, at least until they can build up enough callous for real shoes.

First Day Unemployed

Get up at reasonable time then decide yoga (gentle) is excellent course of action for first day unemployed.

Look in mirror – face already breaking out with rash due to stress. Take 50 mg zinc plus regular vitamin. Realize family might have to live on 300 tablet bottle of vitamins if things get tough.

Eat waffle with syrup. Realize no more maple syrup and back to $1.89 bottle of generic Albertson’s brand from now on.

Push reluctant kids into car after arguing about how 7-year-old cannot take DS to school/camp.

Start car….hmmm…making funny sound. Car is vibrating and rumbling. Can’t be good. Brilliant idea…check oil. Check it…a little low. Add quart of oil. Looks good. Start car. Now “Check Engine” light is on. Bugger. Check manual for indicator light ‘meanings’. Irritated it is 8 AM and it is already 100 degrees. Wish manual had Google search! Find needed info in manual…light not blinking = ok to drive, just go slow.

We are off to school. Drop off kids uneventfully. Arrive at health club for yoga. Have wait time! Call car dealer – opening tomorrow 8:30 AM. Yeah, car will be fixed.

Yoga, very nice. Relaxing. Still thinking of list of things to do. Not dwelling on ‘why me’! Way to busy!

Stop at store to buy external drive for computer – $79 for 320 GB. Wow! Actually feeling high-tech now!

Start car…hmmm…”Check Engine” light is off. Car fixed self. Realized no time for car doctor visit.

Doorbell rings…..release papers to sign. Delay reading for a few minutes. Already know what it says.

Phone rings. Coworker (sorry, ex-coworker). Yes, e-mail still works. No one knows why e-mail still working. Forward needed info to ex-coworker. Why sending when no longer working? Want to be good friend. If was non-friend would not have answered phone! Glad had good friends at work!

Check Linked In. More good friends! Recommendations are rolling in. Amazed! Can’t believe overwhelming support!

Time for haircut! Darn, no time for lunch. Not hungry, plus way too busy. Beautiful color and professional coiffed hair! Who wouldn’t want to hire me now?

Rush off to pick up kids. Four-year-old wearing different dress than when dropped off in morning. “Got dress dirty” she says. Borrowed dress from friend because she didn’t have any extra clothes at school. Bad mommy. She has to leave in only skirt, no shirt. Glad she has skirt at least!

Get to parking lot. Phone ringing! Another ex-coworker. Yes, yes, can’t believe they let me go. What? You will write recommendation! Great!

Pick up 7-year-old. Where is he? No one seems to know. Suddenly see him. He is holding DS!! Hmmm…must have snuck it to school. Punishment: 1 week – no DS!

Arrive home. Add note to DS with date of when available. Place on refrigerator for safe keeping.

Paige takes cold macaroni from refrigerator. Eats directly from container then puts self to bed. Meanwhile make pasta with brocolli and salad – all leftovers! Amazing feat…also healthy meal! Husband says, “Great dinner. You must have gone shopping today.” If he only knew how busy I was – no time for shopping!

Can you believe it? I survived day 1 of unemployment. What will happen tomorrow?

Yoga is killing me, but making me stronger

On week three of yoga I feel like it is killing me, but it is also making me stronger. After yesterday’s ‘practice’ I feel like an invalid. I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, my back is sore and my shoulders are tight. There are sore muscles in my legs and arms, but honestly I didn’t even know there were muscles in some of these places!

This afternoon (now that I finally limbered up) I was standing in the kitchen during the dinner rush-hour. “Did you see this?” I said, as I flex my arm in front of the whole family. “Wow!” they yelled back. They seemed impressed, but then again maybe the kids just thought it was cool that mommy flexed her arm like some tough guy and not the chubby armed gal that I am.

I have to say that I was impressed that in such a short time I actually saw change and improvement (particularly in my arms). This yoga business is tough, but I am now seeing physical benefits beyond the mental benefits I was already getting. It really does create a strong body and mind! I am still trying to figure out why I stopped doing yoga several years ago. Luckily it is never too late to get back into it. I am glad I didn’t wait any longer (the pain could only have been more excruciating if I had waited longer). When you are going to get back to doing something you love? Really, it doesn’t take long before you reap the benefits.

Power yoga…it was powerful alright!

I went to a Power yoga class at my gym today. Am I still allowed to call it a ‘gym’ or should I be saying ‘health club’ or ‘fitness club’. When I say gym it seems to be out of some antiquated habit I cannot break. I used to be a member of Gold’s Gym (even though I only took aerobics classes there). I feel like I date myself saying gym. Then again, maybe I date myself saying aerobics. I wasn’t sure if it was dated or regional. Sort of like saying pocketbook instead of purse.

I hadn’t been to a yoga class in about 4 years. I recall taking a class after Paige was born and I was in complete misery because in the class you were supposed to use your ‘core’ and my ‘core’ had just spent 9 months being stretched and was like an old rubber band; it wasn’t snapping back very quickly. So today after a multi-year hiatus from yoga, I re-entered the yoga world. First fatal error was that I didn’t have a yoga mat. I figured it was a gym (sorry, fitness club) they must have yoga mats? I actually lucked out because there were 2 yoga mats available (and I got one!). Clearly I was an oddity because everyone else had their own mats.

I knew the class might be a little hard (it was listed as intermediate), but I figured I run 2-3 times a week – it couldn’t be that hard! Well, I learned it was ‘that hard’. I felt like there were muscles that hadn’t been used in decades; although surely it couldn’t have been that long. Could it? I was lucky that I remembered most of the poses the instructor was doing – it was just a challenge keeping up. I didn’t know calling on these dusty and rusty muscle groups was going to make me so out of breath. One thing was for sure; I got my workout for the day. (Before the class I was worried it might not be strenuous enough for me.) My friends who are ‘yoga junkies’ are laughing at me now. I can hear it.

My favorite part of the class was the relaxation at the end. I could forget about all my worries (including the torture I had just experienced for the last hour). I actually really liked the class because it made me focus on my body as I made it move into all these crazy poses (I tried to get it to move, not always successful though). All I could think about was connecting my mind to my body. Everything else from the day seemed to fall away. I think I gained some much-needed patience that lasted through dinner and the usual evening routine with the kids. If my body could stand it, I could do that class every day and be a lot more mentally grounded. I probably won’t make it back tomorrow (since I may not be able to get out of bed) but I did promise the instructor that I would be back. Maybe I said that through the mind fog I experienced after the relaxation portion of the class. I am sure my post class yoga high will wear off tomorrow. Then I can decide if I am ready for another workout, or should I say yoga practice?

The key to good looks…your energy?

Why do women obsess so much about looks and weight? I find myself doing the same thing at times, which surprises me. I realized this past year (after putting on some weight) that I wanted to break the cycle. In some cases it is good to be concerned about excessive weight gain, because you don’t want to be unhealthy. Unhealthy can mean ‘weighs too little’, but hopefully most people realize they shouldn’t starve themselves and then run 10 miles a day. Just look at Christian Bale in “The Machinist” If you see this movie, or even just the photos you immediately see the more disgusting side of being too thin. If you see what Christian Bale looks like normally (ladies, you know what I am talking about here) then you also know that ‘thin’ is not really a good thing and having more weight is a lot more appealing.

If you want to worry about looks so much that you end up looking like plastic is that a healthy choice? Is it healthy to obsess and worry that you don’t look good enough? Improving your looks may seem like it makes you feel better, but you only feel better because you ‘think’ you look better. In reality you are trying to fix a confidence problem with improving your looks, when instead you need to work from the inside out. Change the inside and you actually change the outside too.

How many times have you seen a beautiful woman, but she has a sourpuss expression or she appears unhappy? The pretty hair and the tight body are just not enough. What people see is energy. They see your inner glow – your positive radiance. The energy is what draws them to you and makes them want to be around you. Sure, we all want to put our best foot forward (comb our hair, put on clean clothes, or put on a little lipstick). The point is we make the energy, and through it can enhance our looks or attractiveness to others.

Without a complementary combination of energy and looks, you get a fireball (just energy) or a facade (just a shell). Worry only about looks or weight and you end up focussed more on the facade and not enough on your inside energy. What is important is balance and the whole package. The next time you get ready to go out somewhere, think about generating positive internal energy for the same amount of time that you spend getting dressed and fixing your hair. You might be surprised at the results.