Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Looking for Wisdom for Ten Minutes Every Morning

Since it's Wednesday, I'm linking up with a lot of great bloggers at DebRuns.com for the Wednesday Word. Want to check out their stuff? Click on this link right here!

Deb Runs


This week the word is wisdom — here's how I'm trying to find some wisdom (or maybe insight is a better word) myself.

Quite a few years ago, a friend suggested to me The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. It's all about boosting your creativity. It is a good book, set up as a 12 week course, but I'll be honest, with a couple of toddlers running around, I didn't do a very good job of following through.


Here's a link to Julia Cameron's website about the book.

But one of the key elements of her book is the concept of morning pages, where you write three longhand pages about anything at all the first thing in the morning. A few weeks ago I came across this article on the Guardian site, entitled "This Column Will Change Your Life" (how's that for clickbait!?), and it was all about Ms. Cameron's morning pages. The author of the Guardian article, Oliver Burkeman, considers the pages' relevance in business contexts and in his profession (a writer). He notes their value at "calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemma," and since that sounded pretty good to me, I gave them another shot.

I've been at it for 19 days, and have thus filled up almost 60 pages of a composition book with my early morning musings. I took a glance back at the pages this morning, and let me tell you, there's not a lot of wisdom in there. But they have been immensely satisfying at pouring out all the thoughts bouncing around in my head, and the surprising thing is that I have almost never written about what I had thought about writing about when I first sit down.

Wisdom? Surely not. But insight? Maybe. Check out the Guardian article (here is the link again!) or Google "morning pages" — you might find that they add something good to your own day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stress Test, Not So Stressful

I have been off for a couple of days, taking a trip to the Loveliest Village on the Plain to visit the loveliest student of Auburn University (I may be a little bit biased). We had a great time and even got to share an elevator ride with the officials for the Auburn-LSU game, though that's a story for another time.

Speaking of heart-pounding (like the last couple of seconds of the Auburn-LSU game, AMIRIGHT?), I had my stress test for my wigglin' heart on Thursday. Here's how that went down.

You go back to a room and get all wired up.

All the stick-on monitors are under the shirt, of course. This is not a NSFW blog! And it hooks to the monitor wirelessly, which is nice. Who likes being tethered to a machine?

Then you hang out with the very nice nurse, Donna, because the doc is running a little late. Then Donna takes off to find the doc so you just sit there, wired up and watching your heart thumping on the big screen.



Then you might check out your email because it's taking Donna a while to find that doc and if you're very lucky, you might find a message saying that your sweet sister has sent you a Starbuck's gift card to end your pre-stress-test coffee draught. Because you're all hooked up, you can maybe even see your heart beat a little faster.

When the doc comes in, Donna checks your blood pressure and you jump on a treadmill. You start to walk very slowly. Slowly enough, in fact, that you've got the energy to chat with the doc (he, like me, grew up in the northern Virginia area. We are rare among all the transplants here) and also with Donna (who is a Dallas Cowboys fan because she moved here from Texas and is not pleased with the hustle and rudeness of the northern Virginia area) (I get that, Donna. The NOVA thing, not the Cowboys thing). Every three minutes, they step up the speed and the incline, and Donna grabs another blood pressure reading. Really, the most stressful part is keeping up with the conflicting conversations you are having with the doc and with Donna.

After the elevation and speed boost at the nine minute mark, the doc mentioned that I can quit any time, and at the twelve minute crank-up, I said uncle. The doc looked at the graph and said, yep, you passed. He noticed that as my heart got working harder, the palpitations actually smoothed out, thus giving me more incentive to work out.

And the best benefit for me was having another medical professional I could ask: WHAT is going on?? He didn't have a real answer and told me that some people simply have these extra beats. He wasn't worried about it, nor was his partner, Dr. Brooks, whom I had seen previously. These guys are cardiologists. So I am determined not to worry about it, either. At least not for another six months when I go back and do all this again.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Unanticipated Side Effect of this Heart Nonsense

I'm having a stress test this morning and am not allowed to have caffeine for 24 hours prior. So my last sip of coffee was at 9:30 yesterday morning.

Usually by this time of the day I'd be working on my second cup of coffee. I miss you, coffee. I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Have You Accomplished Today?

It's the Wednesday Word link-up with DebRuns.com -- and today's word is accomplish.

The majority of the people who link up on Wednesdays are runners. In my opinion, one of the best things about running is the undeniable feeling of accomplishment it brings. There were tangible accomplishments, like medals and Ragnar tattoos, and less tangible ones, like the satisfaction of coming in the door after a sweaty 5:00 am run around the neighborhood.

When I gave up running, I'm not gonna lie: one of the hardest things to leave behind was that sense of accomplishment. But with a little shift of thinking, I've come to consider accomplishments in a slightly different way.

This goes back to that looming 50th birthday (51 days, y'all!) and my accompanying awareness of getting older. I think I've written here before, but maybe not, that my mom passed away when she was 67. When I turned 47, I had a mini-freakout and wondered, what if I only have 20 years left? I'm serious. Twenty years is not that much time.

Since then -- and I'm not 100% consistent about this, but I try -- I ask myself at the end of the day if I did everything I wanted to do with it. If I accomplished what I needed to get done, if I was satisfied that I'd lived it the best I could. Even on the days that the answer is not a resounding YES, it kind of helps frame the day as a gift.

I've found that when I started thinking about it this way, accomplishments come in all shapes and sizes. Went to a class to learn how to change a flat bike tire? BOOM. Bypassed the office candy jar all day long? YASSSSS. Sweaty spin class? OKAY! Held it together at a challenging doctor's appointment? PRETTY MUCH YEP! (More on that tomorrow.)

I am not off to read about how some skillful bloggers are thinking about accomplishments. Want to join me? Click the link here:

Deb Runs

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Getting There is Half the Battle

A couple of weeks ago I started doing the Headspace app, with a little ten minute meditation every morning. But before I do that, I've started writing three morning pages. And before I do that, I feed those cats because nothing is going to happen before they get fed, get real.

I appreciate both of these mindfulness practices very much and definitely believe that they make for a better day. But when you're also trying to get to the gym by 6 for the pool or cycling class, I have to confess that the necessary hustle puts a bit of cramp on my bliss.

Not complaining, just observing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sharing (a Pool Lane) is Caring

George Mason University's rec pool is a popular spot, particulary early in the morning. I have been busting my butt to get there right at 6:00 when the aquatics center opens, but no matter how hard I try I don't find myself on the deck until all six lanes are full.

This morning, I examined my choices for lane sharing and selected one with a guy who was on his way back to the side of the pool. I politely asked if I could split it with him. The proper response is, "Of course! Mind if I take this side right here?" Well, this dude stood up in the water and looked around at the other lanes as if he was going to suggest a different one for me. Then he grudgingly chose a side.

Luckily for you, I vented about this bit of aqua-incivility to Jim when I got home so I do not need to do so again here. But if I were going to, I might say, "Hey, buddy! I didn't pick your lane because swimming next to your hairy self is all that appealing! And by the way, can you try a little harder not to schwack me with your stroke every time you pull that arm up out of the water? Thanks kindly!"

And the other good news is that the next time someone asks me to share a lane, I am reminded of the benefits of doing so graciously.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Just Outside the Comfort Zone

As it turned out, riding my bike to work yesterday was a very good idea. There was a natural gas leak at a major intersection just a few blocks from campus and the Fairfax County police routed traffic through the university all day. Because of that mess, though, the boss let us free an hour and a half early.

I was able to (very politely! Even walking my bike a couple of times!) weave through the lined-up cars and make my way home with no problem. Even more exciting, Michelle Obama's motorcade drove right past me while I waited on my bike for the intersection to clear. She did NOT get out and high five me for my bike efforts, but it was still a thrill. I waved like an idiot.

And then this morning I joined a group bike ride around Reston. There were only five of us, and we roamed the residential and busier streets of the community. It was great experience, challenging because of the hills (my biggest challenge is to not ride my brakes constantly and just enjoy some speed on the downhills), and an all around exhilarating morning. I would never have dared to ride through the large intersections we tackled if I hadn't been with a group.

Our leader was Art, and the group included a young guy named Fick, a very pleasant couple, Susan and Mike, and me. I really hope to ride with them again soon. Performance Bike in Reston puts these rides on every Saturday, and while we'll be out of town next week, I am looking forward to catching up with these guys into the fall.