Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 Things I Learned Walking 90 Miles in November

1. Starting is almost completing.  You have to start. Start as small as you want to but start. If your goal is to start walking then put your shoes on. If it's to get the house in order empty the sink and clean it or make your bed. Life has a certain momentum and if you just start it is easier to continue.

2. You must keep the end in mind. You must conquer the impulse of now. I know you don't want to; I don't either. None of us wants to get out of bed, or vacuum the house, or go to work, or discipline the kids but we do. We do because we can imagine how we will feel after. When we are dressed and the house is clean, we've done a good day's work and have grown children that we're proud of . We must look past the impulse we have to do what is comfortable and convenient now and imagine something better...later.

3.The discipline is in the doing.  You aren't going to wake up one day and have will power. You aren't going to love exercise or healthier food or studying magically one day. But as you do it, the next time becomes easier. Over the course of time it's part of your life and you need less and less discipline to keep doing it.

4.You have time for the things that you are determined to do.

My son in law is a police officer and I'm pretty sure he's never heard anyone say that they really wanted to smoke crack today but didn't have time.

"Yeah I was so busy at work and coaching my son's little league team, I really wanted to get high today but couldn't work it in."

You will make time for what is important to you. You will arrange your schedule to accommodate your addictions and weaknesses. The alcoholic always has time for a drink, the shopaholic can always stop at one more store,  the lazy person always has time to watch more television. If relationships, exercise, spiritual growth, education, eating right, and being productive are important to you, you'll find the time to do those things.

5. Publicize your goals and you are more likely to stay on track. Want to get something done? Make yourself accountable to someone else. I can't tell you how many days there were when the only reason I walked was because I told you what I was doing.  It also gave people a chance to encourage me. My college age son would even ask me how my 90 Mile November was going when he saw me, thanks to Twitter.

Overall I noticed a lot of health benefits during the month. When I started I'd taken a month off while I was renovating the upstairs and for the first week or so I thought the third mile would kill me. About 2 weeks in I missed a day and had to make it up by adding a mile and a half the next two days. My back hurt so bad I felt like crying and ran a good bit of the last mile because running hurt less than walking. But just the other day I missed a day and walked the entire 6 miles the next day to make it up. It felt great.

Remember that all health benefits aren't measured on a scale. My stamina increased by a great deal and I had a wellness check last week that included a whole range of tests that turned out very well.  I can get really excited about a nurse telling me the results of my blood work are beautiful. My mood improved and I felt less stressed and happier in general, some of which may be due to my walking outdoors. Research shows that there is a great psychological benefit to spending time in nature. Over the past month I got to enjoy watching the season change completely and note differences in the trees and animals. It meant keeping tissues in my pocket, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, gloves, and scarf in my car but the fresh air and sunshine were worth it. I also feel like since I was outside everyday for a 3 mile walk I acclimated better to the change in the weather.

What do you want to change? Use these 5 things and get started. You'll be a month ahead of everyone else come New Years!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Redefining Cozy

adjective: cosy; comparative adjective: cosier; superlative adjective: cosiest; adjective: cozy; comparative adjective: cozier; superlative adjective: coziest

giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.


 I love this word and the feeling it describes: snug, comfortable, warm, homey. It's the feeling of Christmas, cabin, or curling up with a book an a rainy day preferably with a fire and cup of tea. 


 It is the antithesis of putting on shoes (and a bra, if we are being honest) and going out to exercise. You may recall that I whined about it earlier in the month on a drizzly cool Saturday morning when I didn't want to leave the house. When I was sorry for letting you know about my 90 mile walking challenge for November. 


 I did go to yoga that day and for a walk. When I entered the yoga studio I realized that while sparse it was also cozy. Dim lighting, soothing music, yoga blankets and gleaming wood floors were just as comforting as my sofa at home. And nothing says relaxation like someone putting a warm cloth on your eyes and massaging your neck during Shavasana, the period of relaxation at the end of your practice.


 Later I bundled up against the elements and headed to the park to walk 3 miles. The sky was gray and the golden leaves blew across the path as I walked along. Squirrels also bombed me with acorns but that is another story. I could smell the wood burning in someone's fireplace. I noticed that the coots had returned from wherever they go in the summer. My hands felt warm inside my gloves. 


 When I sat by the fire later in the evening it was made more cozy by the fact that I'd been out in the weather. Like adding salt to a sweet dessert, it was the contrast that made the coziness of home more intense. 


 Remember that the next time you are struggling with putting your shoes on. The returning home and snuggling up will be all the sweeter knowing you loved yourself into a little action first. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Living Young Despite the Calendar

I have a birthday coming up in a few days: 49. It's one year away from my intended half way mark. 

I don't know about you but I'm terrified of getting old. Possibly because as a child I was never around older people and as an adult the ones I've been around haven't exactly been doing it well. Oxygen tanks, frailty, falling, and a lack of physical energy don't paint an encouraging picture and that is all without the nightmare of dementia.

I've been encouraged recently by a group of women I volunteer with at the art museum (you can read more about what I'm learning from them here). . The book, Blue Zones paints a brighter picture and gets down to how to live well over a long period of time. Then I found this video comprised of 6 women bursting with interests, style, and attitude: Fabulous Fashionistas.

One of the things I'm learning from paying attention to those who are aging well is that you have to keep moving. Even if it hurts. Your body was made to move and sitting down will eventually kill you. And not in a quick and easy way. In a slow, dull, painful way...possibly over quite a long time.

The second thing is that the people who live a long time are interested AND interesting. In the video Baroness Trumpington (isn't that the best name ever?)  says the secret is being "interested in life generally."

Judging from my friends at the museum, many of whom are old enough to be my parents (I get a kick out of listing to them tell stories about graduating from college the year I was born) and recent books and videos, here are the things that will keep you young:

Not smoking. I don't know any older people who are still on the move who were smokers.

Keep moving, even it means overcoming aches and pains. Sitting down, or worse yet, spending the day in bed will suck the life and energy out of you.

Do not allow yourself to get overweight. But don't do any unhealthy dieting, you'll ruin your metabolism.

Have a regular sleep schedule. I don't have evidence for this one, but I'm pretty sure you can ruin your circadian rhythm just like your metabolism.

Be interesting, which is likely to mean you are interested in lots of things, and are keen to keep learning. You should have something more interesting to share than the details of your most recent ailment. It's how you keep getting invited to parties.

Be social. Being connected is a huge key, you need a support network outside your family.

Ditch the negative attitude, grumbling, and complaining.

Refuse to be overtaken by fear.

Embrace change. Would you really want everything to stay the same?

Be grateful.

Volunteer. The most energetic people I know are not just focused on themselves. 

Plan on living to be 100 and start now to adjust your life accordingly. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Honey Season: Start to Finish

It's jarred. It's labeled. It's amazing. I sold my first two jars yesterday to someone who ordered it in September.

"I used to have a honey guy but I think he died."

When I'm in a tree with a sharp saw and my smoker (also known as a can of fire), in the rain, wrestling a swarm of bees, or laid up with a nasty sting on my ankle which is so swollen it feels like it might burst, or wearing a suffocating bee suit when it's 105* I think it might kill me too.

Let's recap the season. Here's where we started in March...

They swarmed. Which created this scenario...

You really haven't lived until you've tried to get 20 thousand bees in a box.

You can see the queen cells in the photo below. This means these bees are planning on swarming.

Hive check.

After being left in the box overnight, you can see that they had already started building comb.
And below, peace in the most organized sorority in the world.

 So productive. Above capped honey. Below the frame they started with.

 Love this frame where you can see their handiwork.

 Capped honey.

I uncap it and it looks like this.

 Next it goes into the honey extractor, which works by centrifugal force.  

In the middle picture above you can see what the comb looks like once the honey is "slung" out. The now empty frames go out next to the hives and the bees will clean them to perfection. Then they can be stored over the winter so the bees don't have to rebuild the comb next year. They can go straight to honey production.

Another way to extract honey is just to scrape it right off the frame into the jar. That's how I'm doing it since this post. People have been loving the raw unfiltered honey with comb in it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

90 Mile November Update

 I have a confession to make: I'm behind 3 miles on my 90 mile challenge for November. Tuesday was my daughter's birthday, I had a meeting at the museum, and last (and most importantly) it was in the twenties and the wind was blowing too hard for me. I might have braved it in the afternoon but my only opportunities were morning and evening and I don't fell bad at all about curling up in front of the fire watching Modern Family reruns.

I hope to walk 4 and a half miles a couple of days to set it to rights, but from what I hear, rain is coming. I'm  googling indoor activities that equal out to walking for an hour.  But my preference is to exercise outside.

Need a reason? Here ya go.

But loving the outdoors means that the back seat of my SUV looks like this.

 Yesterday on lap one I wore a long sleeve t-shirt and vest, next time I passed the car I added a North Face wind breaker, on the third lap the temp had dropped and I needed the hat and scarf.

If you are keeping up with my daughter over on Organized Charm you'll know that she recently posted on the secrets of productivity. Read the 5 Secrets to Productivity here. The main thing? No matter how daunting the task? The difference maker between those who do and those who do not?


And the key to completing the task after you start? Just put one foot in front of the other. Remember?

Sorry this wasn't in a Thanksgiving special. You can't have everything. So here we go...

Start. Take baby steps. Keep going. Whatever you are working on, you can do it!
Leave a comment and let me know what you are working on!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Did That Happen?

Hands down, favorite picture of my daughter ever.
A couple of weeks ago while eating sushi with the kids my daughter mentioned that I'd be turning 49 this year.

My son dropped his chopsticks and proceeded to have some kind of weird epiphany, as if he were realizing how old I was for the first time.

"How can you be 49???"

"The same way you can be 22 and your sister is going to be 28 in a couple of weeks."

It started again as he looked at her in dismay.

"YOU are going to be TWENTY EIGHT?"

Time is a funny thing isn't it? We can grasp our own aging but in some strange way we expect others to stay the same. Have you ever been freaked out by seeing the kids of friends if you haven't seen them for a while? Even though you are aware of how your own kids have grown.

Humans have funny brains.

So today actually is the day my daughter turns 28 and this post is just a celebration of her. I happen to think she's pretty awesome.

and organized.

and bossy.

If you think I'm kidding here's a link to her amazing blog, Organized Charm

You are welcome, world.

 Please ignore my son in law's shirt in this photo. We are trying to fix him. 

It's such a great thing to have kids who love each other. You know if they don't kill each other before adulthood.

Happy Birthday, Sweetpea!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday Morning Excuses

Me and my big mouth.



So here we are on a perfectly dreary, cozy, lazy Saturday and I'm thinking of all the reasons not to go walk, or go to yoga, or both, or either or whatever...

The home body/introvert that I naturally am is super resistant to getting out of the house today. And it isn't even that cold yet. Check back next week when the high is going to be in the 40s, lows in the 20s.

I have the sniffles and a slight headache. I could be contagious. I wouldn't want all the other folks in yoga to catch whatever plague this is.

But something my son said once (and that I know to be true from experience) is ringing in my ears. I asked him once after a run how he felt.

"Great. I don't always want to go but I never regret it afterwards."


I resent wisdom from the college students. Aren't they all supposed to be passed out on sofas with hangovers instead of making their parents feel like slugs? 

But though my body is putting up a fight my mind knows better and she is in control. Not that it hasn't been a battle this morning. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Today's Bible truth.

So I'm planning my day around what I know my body needs and really wants on a deeper level. I know that after yoga I'll feel amazing, and when I'm dragging my carcass across 3 miles I'll feel fierce.

Today's lesson: Fierce is better than cozy. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to Paint a Painter's Drop Cloth to Make a Drape

How to paint a drop cloth

Does this ever happen to you? You have an idea that seems like it will be amazing, you collect supplies, spend most of the day on it, put it in place, and then find that you aren't sure you  like it? This is the story of yesterday. At the top of my staircase There are all these sharp angles I was hoping to soften a bit, and in the process baffle a bit of sound from downstairs that bounces up here. It's why when I made this landing into a cool study space a few years back, my kids couldn't actually use it. 

So my plan was to hang a hand painted piece of painter's drop cloth here from a rod to achieve the softening and baffling I was after.

I had this rod that wasn't being used and it was perfect for a space where no one will see it. Here's a tip: if you have one of these cheap rods that is too long you can easily bend it until it breaks. Use pliers to round it back out and you are good to go. I spray painted this one silver when I was finished.

For this project I used a large painter's drop cloth, a yard stick, masking tape, textile medium and acrylic paint.

I wanted giant stripes, so I measured off one foot bands and used masking tape to mark it off for painting.

I mixed up the paint according to the instructions.

It would have taken another coat of paint for a more uniform look, but when I got this far I loved the brushy look of the paint against the canvas. It reminded me of a French Impressionist painting. The phrase plein air came to mind and I stopped while it looked like this.

John Constable, Clouds 1822

 I put my newly painted and shortened rod up and used clip rings (my favorite invention ever)  to attach the fabric and hang it up.

Do I love it? I really can't tell yet. At first I had much more drape, but it darkened the stairs too much.

Love it or hate it? Too much blue?

decorating a landing or small hallway

painted mirror and drop cloth on stairs
What do you think?