Sunday, March 30, 2014

Living in the future is sometimes a matter of survival.

Most of this cold, windy and rainy weekend, we spent trying not to kill each other—literally exerting great effort to not bark or yell (often unsuccessfully), push, shove, kick or kinesphere-invade (often unsuccessfully). Yesterday, I did a long muddy run (with three fantastic women). Jon and Kai did a T25 workout. Jules wrote a book about it—and, by that, I mean, yes, he recorded the details of Jon and Kai's exercise session in his field "diary."  In which all notes are spelled phonetically. (It's pretty awesome.) Both boys escaped out a birthday party sidedoor. It was not cool—but I get it: they had anxious energy to burn. They were quickly captured. Shortly after, both boys fit in some training runs for the Yam Scram—through the aisles of Gardener's Supply. The employees were very kind. We quickly rounded up the track team, paid for our purchases and left for home. Where we forced the boys to do jumping jacks and lift weights.

Olin's shirt fashion credit: Valerie Kiser Design

This morning, the boys swam at their lesson with Annie. Then, with two friends, they did some more Yam Scram training sprints, down the long hallway of the office building that houses the pool (and my office). Screaming like wild men. Straight past the yoga studio where a Kundalini class was just beginning. They were ushered home. Where they prompted began a game of evading kinesphere-invasions. A game that involves much tattling and crying. One kid was directed to the basement for a private yoga session. Then Jon did a T25 workout. Or maybe two. Then everyone geared up in snow gear and headed out for a sleet hike. (Yes, it was sleeting.) We spent almost an hour striding through slush and ice (me, in slippery rainboots) in an attempt to—I'll say it again—not kill each other. One kid, one adult and one dog loved this. One kid and one adult did not. The not-liking-hiking kid cried—understandably, because his boots and socks were soaked through. The liking-hiking adult carried him piggy-back for the rest of the hike. The liking-hiking kid asked the not-liking-hiking adult for a piggy-back ride, too, because "IT'S NOT FAIR" for only the soaking, sobbing kid to get carried. She obliged, in her slick and slippery rain boots, gingerly stepping over slush and ice and snow, miraculously not biting the mud.

Upon arriving home, cocoa was serving and the formerly crying kid soaked in a lavender-scented jet tub, which turned his attitude right around. For 15 minutes. The not-liking-hiking adult was instructed to go to yoga—at the same studio the shrieking kids sprinted past earlier in the morning. She gratefully obliged, as there was much swirling energy to be tamed.

In other news, we got a bunch of seeds and a new grow light. We are so excited that it's March 30. Officially spring!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I choose cheap thrills.

Sometimes trying really hard just doesn't cut it and trying harder just makes it worse.  Some days, you question every choice you've ever made. (Every. Choice. Down to what you ate for breakfast.)  But they're all good. No regrets. You're just in a pissy mood.

You should go for a run, take a yoga class, make a date with a fun friend. I've suggested all of these solutions at one point or another in a story for this women's magazine or that one. Unfortunately, you can't squeeze this sort of stuff in between meetings or in the middle of mediating a wresting match between two small people dressed in costumes.

And that's why, tonight, I painted my nails. Specifically, I painted them Essie's Chinchilly. Tomorrow, when I feel like a total trainwreck who has nothing at all under control, I can look at my fresh manicure and say, "damn, girl, you got your shit TOGETHER!" Instant boost.

And, now, allow me to introduce a list of seven more totally frivolous ways* to turn a shitty mood around, no physical activity required:

  1. Make a cup of coffee from the "fancy" "espresso" machine at work.
  2. Scroll through photos of people and things who/that amuse you (for me, it's often the two small people, perhaps in costumes, probably not wrestling). 
  3. Read a few of Sara Goldstein's HILARIOUS Oddly Well Adjusted blog posts. (Today's entry, an oddly well-adjusted yoga teacher's perspective on the naked yoga "trend"—if one might call it that—is not to be missed.)
  4. Sneak a peek at Instagram. Be sure to follow my Wonder Twin's new arty Instagram @MyDailyBunny.
  5. Watch this video.
  6. Play this song.
  7. Text your sister. If you have one. And she's as cool as mine.

*Disclaimer: I am not trivializing any of the talent referenced in #s 3-6. Or the comedic therapy regularly administered by my superbly sarcastic sister, #7.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What I strive for isn't necessarily what makes me feel alive.

We are all frail. We all make mistakes. We all fall prey to a thousand emotions and exaggerations... In truth, it is not the tissue of our humanity that defeats us, but rather our refusal to accept who we are and to live accordingly, limitations included.  
Jane, the awesome yoga teacher, read this bit from Mark Nepo's book, The Book of Awakening today at the end of class. It resonated so I looked it up again this evening. Then I bought the book. The purchase is a Compact violation, no doubt, as the copy I ordered is new but... 1) It seems the book could ultimately make me more mindful, less wasteful and 2) I have an Amazon credit—birthday gift from Jon's parents—that, week by week, is being eaten away by Walking Dead zombies. And I don't even watch the show. Actually, I think my second point actually makes the Compact violation worse. So maybe scratch that one.

In any case, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what I'm not:

  • A person takes detailed digital notes and files them logically.
  • A daughter/sister/friend who sends birthday cards and gifts before the actual anniversary.
  • A mom who always remembers when it's snack week in the kindergarten class and bring-a-book-from-home day in the preschool one. 
  • Someone who always knows just the right thing to say and the right times not to say ANYTHING.
Definitely not me. But all week, I'm been wishing things like this were true. Wishing I were not the person who scribbles to-dos with purple pens on random scraps of paper and scatters them across the earth. Who is still carrying my mom's birthday card and gift in my purse, 2 months and 1 day later. Who forgets Pirate Booty, and then a pirate book, on two consecutive days. Who blurts out 97% of things that cross my brain.

I can certainly strive to do better; I can stand to evolve. But now it strikes me that I also need to keep in mind what sorts of things most make me feel really happy and alive—like watching brilliant people do things that have nothing to do with order and measure and restraint.* Like Christopher Walken dancing his ass off in basically every movie he's ever made. (And the masterminds who made the montage of him doing it.) Or the OK Go dudes who combined campy choreography and rolling treadmills into one mindblowing video that makes me giddy every time I watch. And that's just what I do when I'm in a really shitty mood: I load up that OK Go video. 

Because that's the kind of person I am. Whatever that means.

*I realize it most definitely took order and measure and restraint to produce this art but you get what I'm saying, right? 

This photo is a screen shot from this video, which you should totally watch. Right now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sometimes it's dope to mope.

I am not moving to Australia. Because that simply seems like far too much effort. And I'm not going to claim that I had a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." Because it wasn't really. I know this. Everyone is safe. Everyone is healthy. I have a job. I have a home. I have heat (at least I have this warmth while inside the home, or the office, or the car). And plenty of food. But I'm in a super shitty mood.

Maybe it's because I didn't run this morning and didn't unroll my yoga mat this afternoon or evening. Maybe it's because things feel fuzzy and I like solid boundaries. Maybe it's because one kid melted into a mess of tears when I asked the two of them what "superfun" things they wanted to do this weekend while daddy was away. He doesn't want daddy to be away. And he also doesn't want daddy to have a meeting tonight. I take this personally. But I try to hide it, best as I can. And it mostly works to turn the tides. We three play Monopoly and make static, swirling our straight hair on synthetic fabrics. They "swim" in the jet tub while I urge them to wash behind their ears. We read Chapter 3 of Harry Potter. There are snuggles and back scratches. I pass as a more-than-acceptable second fiddle, I'd say.

And then when they go to bed, I get back to feeling sorry for myself. Olin returns home and agrees it's OK to mope about my rut. In the other room—for just a little bit. So that's what I do. And then I get back to creating order out of my emotional mess: making lists, sending emails, outlining ideas for a short story I'm starting on—in my purple Moleskine notebook with a strange syringe-shaped pen I got at some medical conference.

I feel better already.

Gurus + groups make you better

One of the studies I cited in my master's research found this: even people who predicted they'd lose more weight with individual counseling were more successful at shedding pounds when they were assigned to group counseling. I don't remember exactly how the scientists explained this (and I'm too lazy to look it up) but it totally makes sense. And, for me, a major theme of 2014 has been that a good group, and a great guru, helps you get better. Some examples:

The five little guys below are spending part of their Sunday mornings Swimming with Annie. Annie (the guru) speaks to them like the small people that they are—tiny little men with hopes and fears and lots of energy. It's obvious she knows what she's doing. They're responding. In just two sessions, every single one of these boys has made marked progress. The one who was more comfortable sticking by the steps on Day One was paddling through the pool and jumping off the side on Day Two. Another who'd resisted getting his hair wet in the first class was repeating dunking himself in the second. A third suddenly started kicking and scooping under the water, unassisted, this past Sunday while his dad shouted, "He's swimming! He's swimming!" in disbelief.

Much of this forward movement has to do with Annie knowing her shit. But some of it, I'd say, has to do with the fact that these small dudes are a solidly supportive crew. They're clapping and shouting encouragement for each other—and they're also fostering a healthy sense of competition.

Same thing happened during our Saturdays Smuggs: no doubt, the "Team Eagle" Mini Mites Snowboarders pushed each other... to the point that all of the littler shedders were on the lift and riding an actual green run by the end of the 8-week session.

And I've also been benefitting from accountability and social support that comes with a crew:

At the mountain, I hit the jackpot with Gaby, my guru. In 8 weeks, she patiently talked me down (and listened to my verbal diarrhea often focused on fear) Sir Henry, and then a bunch of green runs and, finally, Snowsnake, a blue. But pairing up with Laurie definitely made me a braver, better rider. When she jumped at the chance to take the next step—hop on the bigger lift, pick up the pace—I didn't want to be left behind. Or hold her back. I'd take a few deep breaths and go.

For the last couple of months, I've been working on writing—things beyond this blog and content on weight management and diabetes. It's because, every Monday, I sit around a table with a group of intelligent and insightful new (and old) friends who offer me deadlines and smart suggestions for refining first drafts. Plus, their writing—all so good—inspires me.

Back in January, I recruited a bunch of friends who could rally each other to run. I promised Kate I'd do the VCM 2-person relay in May and knew I'd need a posse to push myself through the half-marathon training. I'm only up to 5 miles but, so far, it's working. And it's fun. Friends make you better. This—at least for me—I know is true.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Soon it WILL be spring.

Yesterday morning, I wrote this "Haiku to a Winter That Just Won't Die"
Today, sweet bird bands
Chirp cheerful songs in mild skies
Tomorrow, I weep.
Yesterday, at lunchtime, I took a great class with Rachel at Yoga Roots. It wasn't entirely pleasant—there were moments where she asked us to hold the asanas a good bit longer than was comfortable—but it was wonderful for me in all sorts of ways and I knew it.

I looked at these guys a lot today. 

Yesterday, during class, Rachel offered us this piece of wisdom:*
When you resist your reality, you create suffering.
Learn to live skillfully within your reality to eliminate unnecessary struggle. 
Today, I needed that advice.

Yesterday, it was 30 degrees and, for most of the day, beautiful and sunny.

Today, school was cancelled because it'd soon be dumping snow. My reality was that I'd be hanging at home with the boys but getting at least a little work done would be necessary. I knew there would be squabbles. And screen time. 
And there was. But it was fine. More than fine. 

I'm not sure my approach to the snow day was particularly skillful but I shared some sweet time with the kids, got some stuff done—and, overall, managed to keep the suffering to a minimum.

Plus, this week's snowstorm should make for some good riding on Saturday and, truth is, this winter will die soon. It will be spring again.

*I might be somewhat paraphrasing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We had a many-milestone day.

It was a little slick, a little snowy, a little scary and a lot of awesome. It was our 7th snowboarding lesson, and Laurie* and I ticked off some semi-major milestones on our learn-to-ride list:

1. We did a bunch of new-to-us green runs.

2. We made our way down a slightly more difficult green/blue run. 

3. We rode with no hands (holding on to the bottom of our jackets) and did some fancy arm signals to work on our form. And, yes, we looked like tools. Which was fun. Silly offsets scary.

4. We hit a box. (Go ahead and giggle. I'm ahead of you.) Also, a more accurate account of this milestone goes like this: Gaby lifted us up off of the box and held our hands while we dropped off and glided into a heel-side stop.

5. We fell hard - really hard. We did not cry. We got up again. And kept riding.

*So grateful to have such an awesome partner (and a kick-ass teacher) on this 8-week ride.