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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nothing in particular

I'm just back from a couple of days in Nashville, Tennessee for business. I'd never been before, but I can tell you I will definitely go back.

Usually when I am away for a couple of days and my security blanket of a routine gets disrupted, I come back all jumbled up inside. My heart races like I've had too much caffeine and neither my brain nor my body can sit still long enough to sort it out.

The remedy? Writing it down. So, in no particular order, I'll make room in my brain by taking up space in this blog. Here's the nothing-in-particular:

  • I broke down at the airport and bought the splurge I so proudly resisted last week. But I'm glad I did. I am still thinking a lot about this story and I hope that when it comes together for me, I can share with you what it did for me.
  • I read the newspaper cover to cover in the lounge of my hotel yesterday morning--and inside of it was an article about this software that Dominoes Pizza has developed for people to track the status of their pizza. Online. Huh? Talk about creating a solution to a problem that doesn't exist! (Which I, by the way, am expert at doing).
  • I read the paper in the lounge of the hotel because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get anywhere else. The hotel was something like 58 acres with tunnels and overpasses for travel. I tried to find a map of the place for you, but they probably don't make it available until they've already got you inside.
  • I did manage to find the health club (though it took me about 20 minutes) and bored myself to tears on the treadmill watching the perfectly still pool that was directly down below.
  • I disrupted the perfectly still pool and swam about 10 laps (though I think it was eight, how on earth do you keep track of laps? I nearly broke my hand (again) trying to figure it out because apparently I can't think and swim straight at the same time). Swimming is a HARD thing to do.
  • Then, I made my way outside in the 30 degree air and soaked myself in the hot tub. It was still dark but that moon sure was bright. It occurred to me that I had NEVER sat in an outdoor hot tub before. There's nothing like realizing you're doing something new and different while you're doing it.
  • I bought Ava the most adorable pair of cowgirl boots. Earl (I'm not kidding, that was his name) at Boot Country on Broadway sold me a pair that are three sizes too big--but I couldn't resist. So she puts them on and just stands there. It's hysterical.
  • I learned something about leadership on the plane ride there:
It was a turbulent ride and they announced that it would be turbulent as soon as we boarded. Well, three minutes after we took off, I had to pee. (By the way, how do you not have to pee and then all of a sudden have to pee with "holding it" absolutely NOT an option?) So, I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for that stupid overhead sign to go off. After 25 minutes and "I can't switch to one more position without completely embarrassing myself and mortifying the guy next to me", I unbuckled my belt and walked to the front of the plane. I told the attendants (still buckled at their "station") that I couldn't wait. They told me to "just be careful."

I decided in the lavatory that I would walk back to my seat with confidence. (As opposed to walking back as someone who had just announced to the entire plane that she had to pee so badly she was willing to risk her life by getting up on a turbulent plane while everyone else waited dutifully for the sign to go off.) No, I wouldn't show the least bit of embarrassment. I would walk tall, look straight ahead, maybe even smiling at people as I passed, like I was the most natural person in the world doing the most natural thing in the world. Like I had just accepted a fashion award or something.

As soon as I made it back to my seat, five people (maybe six) got up from their seats to pee too. I feel like I made a difference for those five (maybe six) people that day. That kind of experience probably won't make it into a Jack Welch book on leadership or the follow up to Jim Collins' "Good to Great"--but I think there was an element of leadership (okay, and desperation) in my decision to break the rules and pee that day.
  • I felt light-hearted and light-weighted. I attribute it to NO COMPUTER. Seriously, it felt really good to disappear from cyberspace for a while. You should definitely have a day or two of detoxification...even if it means avoiding "Splashes and Splurges" for a while. Use the time to write a letter to an old friend, read a book, or get out for a walk. Really.
Well, that's enough for now. I need to move on to some other things before Ava wakes from her nap, in this particular order:

1. Clean up lunch dishes
2. Wipe the counters
3. Put clothes away
4. Finish editing a report
5. Send out some work emails
6. Draft an outline of a paper
7. Write two pages in my book
8. Send my journal sketch to Bird Dog Press
Okay, I just read the list. I'm not so straightened out that I can pull all of that off in an hour...wanna take bets on how much I can pull off?

Popcorn Splurge:

Tonight is the season premier of Lost. So, it's TV and this buttery salt and pepper popcorn.

Monday, January 28, 2008

sticks and stones


Something about my recent sneaker experience triggered the recollection of a recent Runner's World article. I combed through my last three issues in search of it...and found it (electronically too).

While I am not convinced that my sneaker syndrome could be remedied by a lacing technique (too short is too short), I do think that this article provides what should be an obvious solution (or at least attempt) for foot discomfort...but if you're like me, it hadn't ever "crossed" your mind!

Today's splurge:

I have really tight muscles, particularly my quadriceps. I've been looking at "The Stick: A Toothbrush for Muscles" for sometime...and bought it today using a $10 gift card I received for joining the new sneaker store. I can't wait to go sit on the couch and use it!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A perfect pair

I just love this picture and I'm not even sure what to say about it, so I'll just say nothing and let you enjoy it too.

So not a splurge:

I spent an hour (and tortured my husband and daughter by making them spend it too) in a just-opened sneaker store Friday night. In search of the perfect pair of running shoes (because I'm so convinced that they remain elusive despite the never-had-a-problem with these before).

So, I underwent all kinds of assessments (interview, walk analysis, and even a barefoot run on the treadmill) and what they came up with (same brand I used, different style) they didn't have in my size (of course). So they brought out a men's shoe in the equivalent size. Tired and out of time, I took it.

So anxious was I to try out the new perfect pair of shoes, I geared up for a long treadmill run the next morning...only a couple miles in to realize that my perfect pair were so... unperfect. Too short and way too wide, I had a pain in my right foot, calf, knee and hip the whole day long.

Fortunately they have a 60-day perfect fit guarantee, which means I can return them no questions asked. The only question for me is, do I even try a size up--or do I just give it up. And stick with what I know works while the "possibly-perfect pair" continue to elude me.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Measuring Progress



There are all sorts of ways to measure progress. In fact, figuring out the best way is one of the basic ways I help people, organizations, and businesses in my professional life.

But in my personal life, this is how we're measuring progress these days:

1. How much further we have to grow before we can reach the counter top

2. How big our wrist has grown today compared to yesterday

3. The height of a cabinet...


and lastly, some flexibility progress for you:

Today at the gym, before my yoga class I had to use the restroom. One of the first things I do upon entering the restroom is to check the toilet paper situation:

a. to make sure there is some

b. to make sure that it isn't a new roll (because there are few things more frustrating--and inconvenient-- than trying to find the start of the first square of cheap toilet paper)

Before I started taking yoga, I had to bend my knees to look up into the holder. BUT TODAY I could actually bend from my hips (without bending my knees) to look up into the holder!

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I came across this little strategy if you're interested in some "progress psychology"

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Thursday's Splurge-day:

A piece of lemon pound cake that wasn't nearly as good as good friend Melissa's, but it was good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Food, Food, Goose!

(Reading the title, can you tell what I've been playing a lot of lately?)

I'm going to indulge in things food tonight.

First, an article in my recent Runner's World magazine gives some short and "sweet" tips for eating good-for-you dark chocolate.

Second, I've been making all kinds of things with wonder food quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). I especially like this recipe--but adding a little more gruyere cheese than is specified AND making sure you don't overcook the rice on the stovetop (err on the side of watery than done) are two well-worth-it lessons learned. Oh, and be sure to salt and pepper to taste.

Want more? Read on.

Finally, I had a trivia inquiry from a reader recently, wondering if anyone had any idea on what the shell of a cashew looked like... made me think that I'd never seen one. So, if you have any ideas, please send along!

Splurge-mint:

I bought a package of Peppermint Patties and put them in the freezer. Once I finish up here, I'm going to have a cup of tea with a side of pattie....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Faces


Ava likes to imitate faces and she calls this one her "Cesar face" (as in Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer)

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And we took this picture all bundled up on Sunday morning.




Splurge-resist:


I spent a lot of time at the bookstore this weekend getting some work done. I was surrounded by books glossy and matte, bound and spiraled. I picked them up and put them done, some three times or more.

But I walked out of that bookstore empty-handed.

I resisted the urge to splurge.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

mystery solved

I can check off January's "do something new and different twice a month", thanks to my “new and different” this morning...

When I was a kid, the women’s health club (which was really just a fancy locker room with a tanning bed, a sauna, a telephone and a tv, private showers, and bathroom doors that actually locked) at the YMCA was a great big mystery—from how to get there to what was in there.

The back stairwells, seemingly secret-passage racketball courts, and hidden-in-the-wall weight rooms that surrounded and protected this secret locker room made it all the more, well, secret.

If you read Harry Potter, this locker room was like Platform 9 ¾ on the Hogwarts Express: with a little luck and a lot of magic, it would appear out of nowhere to a fortunate few.

On Sunday afternoons, a little girl could legally get into the locker room provided these two requirements were met:

  1. Her mom paid the extra dues to be a member of the women’s health club; and
  2. Her mom felt she behaved well enough during the week to warrant a family-day swim followed by a sauna and a shower in the WOMEN’S HEALTH CLUB….

My mom met requirement number one; I tried hard to meet requirement number two because WHAT A TREAT IT WAS.

And this morning, probably 15, maybe even 20 (yikes!) years since my last sauna sit, I did it again.

Oh my gosh. Go find yourself one. NOW.

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Ava directed me, under no uncertain terms, of the following, “Mommy, big girl diapers, get ‘em, wear ‘em”

Now that I’m writing it, I think she meant her. I hope she meant her.


Weekend SPLURGE:

TWO glasses of wine and duck fat frites (translation: fries fried in duck fat) on a DATE with Pete!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Start Somewhere

Sometimes procrastination isn't really procrastination at all.

Sometimes it's just giving other possibilities a chance to rise to the surface and others (not meant to be) the time to fall away...because sometimes, procrastination is mistaken for resilience or intuitive resistance: resisting instant gratification in anticipation of the longer-lasting, maybe even ever-lasting, kind.

But sometimes, procrastination is just procrastination. And while this article won't do much to help you discern the difference between procrastination and intuition, it will give a few good tips for addressing the former.

So make up your mind to make it okay. Then just start somewhere.

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Speaking of starting somewhere, one of my favorite Ava stories of late:

When she starts counting--whether stairs, or toes, or till she can "come find me", she always starts with four. "Four, five, six," she says. And when you ask her what the title of her book, "One, Two, Three" is called, she'll tell you, "Four, Five, Six."

I haven't corrected her and don't know that I will...because it's an every hour reminder to me to just start somewhere.

Mid-week Splurge:

Homemade cinnamon bread from my mom-in-law. Yum.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hip and Tranquil

I was inspired to sign up for the yoga seminar during one of my "10-minutes of quiet" mornings. I had been going back and forth about whether or not to attend and the direction I got was, "Attend!"

So I was really looking forward to it despite the fact that it would interrupt my Saturday morning coffee shop routine with Pete and Ava. But the point was "new and different" so I just made up my mind to make it okay.

I drove up slowly to the place and kept on driving slowly past it. Like three times. I was intimidated by all the "yogis" passing by with their pretty mats and swirly paraphernalia and here I was with a borrowed mat, running pants, and a couple of diapers I'd forgotten to remove from my gym bag.

The GPS that we got for Christmas kept saying, "arriving at Maureen's seminar" and when I kept driving by it would say, "recalculating...turn right to arrive at Maureen's seminar"...and so it went for three more rounds.

Third time (it's a charm, right?) I parked the car and went in. Most everyone was so normal- nice. There were about 30 woman, ranging in age from early 20's to mid- to late-50's.

I didn't have any expectations. All I knew was this: I liked my comfort zone, I was good at strength poses, not good at flexibility ones, and I was looking forward to the goal setting activities we'd get into.

I sat next to a girl (I guess I should say woman but I don't feel old enough for that yet) who had the kindest smile ever. She was long an pretty, like a harp. We hit it off well.

After a little bit of introduction and some drama-sharing (not on my part because I really have none) we started our yoga. Breathing was the focus (inhale exhale in case some of you forgot how, I know I do most of the time).

After an hour of breathing and twisting and humility (on my part) we sat down to write in our journals. These are the prompts I want to share with you. Think about them, write about them, even if you only have two minutes. You'll be amazed how far you can get:

1. Where am I struggling?
2. What am I most proud of?
3. What is my biggest dream?
4. What is holding me back?
5. What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail?

I wish we had spent more time on those prompts--but other activities took their place. Ones that were good, but like I said, would've rathered the time to plunge a bit more into those questions. I was surprised at where some of my answers took me.

So bottom line: just make up your mind to make it okay and try something completely new and different. If nothing else, you might make a new friend (or two).

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Splurge Tuesday:

I've really been great about not spending money lately, so I'm a little lean on the monetary splurge side of things...but today I am taking Ava to another program at the library. Rock n' Roll Toddlers. Did I mention that she can sing the first verse of the Beatles' Strawberry Fields?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What Life Includes

I realized I hadn't shared my 08 goals...after posting the process I used to define them...

You can review them below, and don't hesitate to probe, prompt, or push me me on them!



Sorry they're so tough to read. I couldn't figure out how to include them as an attachment and not lose all the formatting!

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Splurge-quil:

January's "new and different" took me down to Washington, DC where I spent the day at a "Hip Tranquil Chick" yoga retreat. Anyone who knows me knows that this was DEFINITELY knew and different for me...

More on the experience tomorrow

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Well, What Do You Know....


My dad is visiting and I consider him expert in all things.

Ava marched him down to the pond this morning, to see the "otter" (what I called a beaver) and what my dad thought was a muskrat.

A couple of hours later, we walked the 40 yards back down to the pond to say hi to the otter/beaver/muskrat...and as we watched the thing dart to and fro, I could see the wheels turning in my expert dad's head.

"Hmmm..." he said, "it's definitely not a beaver" (Darn) "...and it looks too big to be a muskrat."

After a second, he looked at me and said, "Otter, maybe?"

That little Ava was right all along. We laughed all the way home.

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Splurge:
Finally, someone else's splurge to report: Pete bought a Led Zeppelin CD from this site for $7.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

To the moon

I may only be cleaning my dishwasher, but I'll be dressed like I'm going to the moon. It's that gross. And I'll be following these tips, unless others have better to pass along.

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Ava and I caught a quick glimpse of some kind of mammal swimming across a small pond near our house. She spotted it before I did, "Swimming," she said, "see it!?" Just as it disappeared.

I asked her what she thought it could've been. I wasn't really expecting a response, but out of her little mouth, "Hmmmm, Otter, maybe?"

Otter? Otter? Where on earth had she ever heard of an otter before?

(Turns out, it was a beaver...building a dam in that very little pond.)

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Tonight's Splurge:

Cornbread and honey. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I can't think of a good title!

It's January 8th and I ran in shorts this morning! We almost left Ava's coat at the library! I just looked at the thermometer and it reads 66 degrees at 1pm! I love the different seasons, but this little bit of springtime in wintertime has definitely added a little bounce in everyone's step around here.

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I had an experience at the library this morning that was reminiscent of high school. Ava and I went to a "sing-along with Jessica" for 1-3 year olds that required parent participation. Well-rehearsed in our "popular kids songs", Ava and I lined up with the rest of the 3-plus dozen moms, dads, and tots to clap our hands and stomp our feet.

Only some parents refused to participate. Three moms in particular sat cross-legged, chatting on the floor despite Jessica's too-polite request that they all stand up (or at least sing for crying out loud)! They looked at her as though it was the last thing they would ever do and carried on with their conversation--their 3 and 4-year olds in their laps.

It was pretty disrespectful and I could sense Jessica was a little embarrassed at their cruel reaction (clearly visible to all of us) to her kind (and apparently courageous) request...but I hope that the participation from the rest of us "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" enthusiasts made up for it.

If you're attending a parent participation sing-a-long that you had to register for (that is, knew exactly what you were getting yourself and your kids into) don't you think its reasonable to expect that you at least, well, sing-a-long? And maybe not make another adult who is volunteering to entertain your kids for 30 minutes feel like dirt even if you're NOT going to sing-a-long? Especially when most parents are working really hard to demonstrate respect and kindness in hopes that our children will always do the same.

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Signed and Sealed Splurge:

Last night I wrote two old-fashioned letters to two old friends (old as in how long we've been friends, not in age). It's been a long time since I'd done that and even though my hand did cramp (that would NEVER have been the case 10 years ago) it was a splurge I'll do again very soon. Maybe even tonight.



Monday, January 7, 2008

Share Your Tips

Check out the information-swap that new-to-me Steph Modo is coordinating!

By signing up, you'll trade your organizing strategies and gain some others!

The Top Three Areas I Need Help Organizing:
  • My MIND and its priorities. I have so many things that I'm staying on top of and thinking about staying on top of that I give short shrift to most of them! I need to find a way to organize my thinking so that I give due diligence to thoughts and plans that are important to my family, my values, and me...and can see I am making progress toward them. (Do you think there's a strategy for this?)
  • My TIME. Related to the Mind need, above. I've gotten way better at this since using my OrganizeME planner from LobotoME, so I'll really be on track once I get MIND situated.
  • My DESK: I've got most everything I need at an arms length, but I also have lots of paper (ugh) and record keeping for my business. My husband is great at keeping the file cabinet organized...but I'd love to hear about the tricks and products that others can't live without to keep their life clean and simple!
A Kozy Splurge:

I rediscovered Kozy Shack Rice Pudding this weekend. The 1/2 cup serving size is (surprisingly) almost an over-size...and it's got protein, reasonably low sugar count, no fat, and all natural ingredients. YUM.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Turning Nothing into...Everything

I had an anxious heart this morning and I couldn't identify the source, which only created more anxiety because I felt powerless to do anything.

So I did nothing.

That's right. I sat very still and very quiet for as long as it took for
nothing to fill my mind (about 10 minutes) and "what to do" followed closely behind.

I've always been a good pray-er, not such a good meditate-er...and the two are NOT mutually exclusive (that is, you can meditate and be praying, but you can pray and not be meditating).

So, I'm going to add nothing to my morning routine. Anxious or not, I think I could stand a few more "what to do's" from O Lord, my God.

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Today I was playing basketball with Ava and I made my first shot, to which she responded, "Hooray, yeah Mommy!" My second shot wasn't even close, but that little angel turned to me as sweetly and sincerely as anyone ever has and said, "Almost, mommy!"

I just imagine the sweetfairy sprinkling bits of glittery dust on those little minds and in those full-of-love hearts as they sleep away, trying to make sense of the rest of us.

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Happy Birthday Melissa!

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Splurge On

I found our favorite book used for $3.99 today. We've been borrowing it from the library for so long, I thought it time to make it our own. Besides, I am pretty sure it was written for Ava. :)






Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cheat Sheets and Clean Sheets

I was pretty excited by this find today, a Periodic Table of Cleaning. It's amazing how motivating (and freeing????) rules and a little direction can be. Kind of makes me miss the days of Dr. Pelosi and chemistry!

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In step with the spend thrift approach to life I'm taking these days, this article gives some tips on where to look for little savings everywhere from groceries to mortgages.

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Splurge-and-Seek

One hour of uninterrupted time on the floor playing peek-a-boo and "find me" with my favorite little girl.






Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Yummy

I am not sure I can legitimately claim this as my accomplishment...but I'm going to anyway (and we're only one day into the New Year):

Tonight I fixed a stir fry of the following (note: vegetables were frozen; there was a time when I would've fixed them fresh, but not in this present life):
  • tofu
  • snow peas
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • yellow peppers
  • red peppers
  • orange peppers
  • cashews
  • baby corn
and served it over a bed of brown basmati rice.

Here's what my nearly 21-month old daughter had to say about it (I have to confess that I sprinkled feta cheese over hers to enhance the enticement factor, but I don't think I needed to) and I swear I did NOT script this:

video

The other thing you must know about my daughter is that she is fascinated with the camera and will be patient just long enough for me to snap the picture...but the flash will no sooner go off before she says, "Pictures, see 'em?" You can see in the video that she is just waiting for that moment.

And a few more "snaps" to enjoy...




No Splurge Today

Unless you count me getting ready to go put in a movie when there are a million other things I need to be doing as a splurge. So tell me, what are YOU splurging on so far this year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I've given myself until Friday to get down my goals for 2008 and beyond. As soon as I finish up with this post, I'm going to sit down with something hot to drink, a big clean surface to write on, lots of blank pages, and plenty of different colored pencils or pens to write with.

You can find the process I'm going to use to get those goals down here. I adapted it from one I created for use with clients in order to assess the health of their business, their services, and their productivity. This morning on a New Year's run, it occurred to me (duh) to formalize it a little and use it for my own life. I thought I'd share it with you. Just take note, I'll probably be coming back with some improvements and enhancements once I use it for this purpose...(and some graphics for organizing the information).

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Finally, lots of change is very overwhelming. I recently gave some advice to a personal client who was very overwhelmed with all of the changes that she needed to make in her personal life, professional life, and physical/fitness life. She wasn't exercising at all and found no time to think clearly about what she needed to change or how to go about it.

The advice that I gave her was this: keep doing everything the same for the next month-- same work schedule, same eating schedule, same socialization schedule. EXCEPT she had to introduce one new thing...she had to make it to the gym or go out for a walk or run three days per week for at least 45 minutes.

At the end of one month, we would see how she was feeling and what insights or inclinations she had experienced in that one month. I am willing to bet that once she introduces some exercise for her body and her mind, the sequence for the next change will fall into place. After one month, we'll devise a plan for the next change. Change doesn't have to happen at one time...just having the awareness that it is needed is a bigger step than you think. Often, little changes pave the way for bigger changes. I discovered years ago that small steps turn into bigger steps turn into strides.

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Splurge Savvy:

I did a fair amount of shopping online for the holidays. The New Year always brings with it a resolve to spend and store LESS. In the event, however, that you do need to make a splurge, be sure to visit www.retailmenot.com, which is updated daily with current discount codes at many of your favorite online stores!