The Pink Hat and Running in the Rain

Somewhere between two and three years ago when a friend of mine was visiting, we went shopping. Specifically, I was looking for a winter hat because although useful, all I had were ear muffs. I wanted a hat, too. (and someday, I want to be able to knit or crochet my own, which is a different story). I am guessing that it was late in the season because there weren’t many choices. What is funny is that my friend was more into pink, yet I am the one who found the pink hat. Success! A fun shopping trip and we found at least that item on our trip. I hadn’t really thought much about it until lately.

wp-1454858486318.jpgEven a couple years later, I do like wearing the pink hat, as you may have seen in the photos in previous posts. Plus, not only does it get cold enough to wear it for about half the year in Michigan, once I am wearing a hat sometimes I leave it on when I am inside. The hat is comfortable and I don’t always have a chance to brush my hair (or it wouldn’t fix anything if I did), so I wear it.

At some point, the pink hat became how I was recognized. During a conference I attended over Halloween weekend last fall, I was at a morning meeting and wearing my pink hat. The person leading the meeting had forgotten her glasses and could not read all the name cards, including mine (I wrote too small for her). Since the organizers were tracking different conversations, the leader stated not to be offended if she found another way to refer to us. I became “pink hat.”

I walk or am outside quite a lot, which is a natural reason to wear a hat. One of my former housemates said she would see me all over the area and knew it was me because of the “pink hat.” Others have found me that way, too – on campus or a section of a store, for example. When it is my friends, that is cool. Or when I can be picked out in a photo because my hat stands out, that is cool, too (see this post). Beyond that, I always wonder if being that recognizable is like a neon (pink) sign stating “I want attention.” I really don’t. The hat is meant to have a functional use to keep my head and ears warmer. Yet, similar to writing these posts and knowing they go beyond the world of my Facebook friends, who I have at least met in person, I don’t know who is watching or reading. It sort of makes me want to find (or make) a new hat. Would those who are my friends be disappointed? Am I excluding them on that decision? Or is it just time to add to the collection?

img_20160204_084717.jpgAnother function the pink hat has helped is with all the changes in weather. Last week there was a day where the temperature started a little bit warmer (upper 30’s) before going down during the day, and it was raining lightly. I’m prepared as far as anything in my backpack gets stored inside a water proof bag. Since the temperature was above freezing, I had worn a different jacket that does not have a hood. I did have a hoodie on underneath. I also had been able to wear my running shoes (and it was shortly after writing this post). When I had to walk home, it was pouring rain. On went the hat, with the hood on top, and I ran home, literally, in the rain. I figured I wouldn’t be quite as soaked that way. Since that day the weather has changed. The running shoes have been replaced, again, by boots. The heavier jacket returned, along with a different scarf and gloves. The one constant item? You probably guessed it – the pink hat.

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

Being Real on the Bus

Sometimes I just love listening to the conversations on the bus. I heard one recently between two guys about chewing gum. One guy had shared a piece with the second  guy, and it must’ve been a real treat. It was a piece of “Big Red,” which he had not had in a long time. The conversation continued with a recall of all the different types that used to be around – Double Mint gum, and specifically spearmint, was one of the topics. It kept going, with one of the bubble gums mentioned. And then the bubble gum in a Tootsie Pop. Oh, and real exciting was when there was a huge piece with baseball cards. I recognized all that they were talking about and enjoyed the very happy conversation. The lady sitting in front of me must have been paying attention, too, cause she asked for a piece from the guy who was sharing and who was also sitting across the aisle from her. A couple of other people got on the bus and sat in the same area in the front. The couple seemed to know the guy with the gum and he brought them into the conversation by asking if they wanted a piece of “Big Red.” I exited shortly after, so I’m not sure if there was anything additional.

20160130_165828.jpgOn Saturday, I ended up riding the bus longer than I expected. I had planned on hanging at a coffee shop and it turned out to be under construction for remodeling. Bummer, at least for me. I still needed a place to work and didn’t believe it would be good to be at home if I wanted to be productive, so after returning to the transit center I took the next bus to campus. It was a gorgeous day for winter in Michigan – sunny, and the temperature was above freezing all day. Based on the pedestrian traffic, many others were also enjoying  the weather outside, too. Being away from home definitely helped. Ironically, part of the material in one of my classes is about study habits, and even though it took longer than expected today, my habit of finding a spot and listening to music through ear phones to drown out noise follows suggestions for good study habits. I am going to hold off writing more on that because it is the bus ride home that finishes the story here.

I knew it was time to go when I was thinking more about food and losing traction on productivity. Sometimes I walk from a stop on the way back to the transit center. In this case, I decided to take the second bus since I get dropped off at the end of my road and didn’t feel like walking further. FYI here – I can ride any bus in Kalamazoo free for unlimited times by showing my student ID. Funny thing is, I even forgot that point a few minutes after I sat down when the bus driver asked me what I was studying at Western. We had a conversation about the subjects – psychology and rhetoric and writing studies – and then I asked him how he knew I went to Western. Good for him for paying attention! The conversation went on longer and I am pretty sure I was just wiped from the day.

Meanwhile, a new person entered the bus and sat behind and across the aisle from me. He heard the tale end of my conversation with the bus driver and started muttering how the bus driver was hitting on me and that was b.s. the way he was doing it. Once the bus was on the road, I started talking to the guy behind me (it was hard not to and probably was the point). We continued the conversation he had started with his muttering. My comment was that I get approached the same on the bus that I do at the bar. The bar I can avoid. The bus, not as much. He said he would be more real about it with “your cute, let’s have coffee, I want to get to know you.” It was actually an amusing conversation with maybe of a hint of really being hit on. I didn’t feel creeped out by the conversation. Mostly, it made me laugh because he seemed to be replaying what guys do and how women can get suckered in. I agreed. I was also glad that, similar to the beginning chewing gum story, that the ride was short, making that last conversation just long enough. As I exited, the bus driver reminded me of my “assignment” to check out. I agreed. The conversation had felt like one – a conversation. He liked the idea of “messing” with college students in a brainy way, which I also found amusing. Either way, being real, as the guy behind me had stated, is what I appreciate.

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

The Barefoot or Boots Debate and Being on the Mat

20160121_080326.jpgBy the time you read this I will have completed the end of the fourth week, or the first month, of the 6am Yoga Challenge. I’m even ahead one class because I know I will be missing a couple when I am out of town. Does it make you cringe when I mention that I have been at 6am classes twice a week for the last month? Or maybe it makes you anxious because of how early that means getting up? Actually, I have found it wonderful. Most of the time I am able to pack just about everything the night before and all I need to do is dress to go and add to my backpack anything missing. I tend to walk there faster that I think I will and am especially glad when I can take off my boots. Possibly one of the best things about going so early is that I get breakfast after. Surprisingly, I look forward to the cafe food. It tastes good and it’s just enough to keep me going through my classes with little more than a snack.

Back to yoga for a moment. I come to the studio wearing my boots and practice yoga barefoot. I’d actually be happy to wear my running shoes, if I must wear anything. Barefoot, though, is where I wish I could stay. It feels so great not to have anything on my feet. My favorite would be to walk barefoot through the sand at the beach in more appropriate weather. In Michigan, at least, that will be a while. Meanwhile, the boots can stay off for over an hour while I practice yoga barefoot. Another great part.

Finally, though, is the mat. The one I use at the studio is mine for the duration of class. The instructors have different styles in how they guide us. They always point out that it is OUR practice, and it is important to honor what we personally need, which might mean an extra long child’s pose, for example. We are there to give time for ourselves. It is probably the one place where it doesn’t matter what or how anyone else is doing. The point is that we are there. I love it! The instructors may state things such as that the mat is also a place to be truthful and let yourself feel whatever it is you feel. I am not exactly sure what that means other than it is part of honoring yourself by not holding in emotions, and knowing that the mat is a safe place to do that. Sighing out loud, for example, is often encouraged. Every time I sigh I feel a big relief. Try that sigh, if you want – inhale through the nose and make it deep, then open your mouth and LET IT GO. Ahhhhh…. Doesn’t that feel great?

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

The Business of “Busy-ness”

When it comes down to it, we’re all “busy.” Sometimes it might even be a fake “busy,” like at a job, so when supervisors or others come by, they believe we are doing something. What does “being busy” really mean, though? I have stopped myself from using that as an answer all the time because it feels like an excuse. In other words, if I am “busy,” then I don’t have time for what YOU are asking me to do (or even time to listen) because I have other priorities. In fact, when I have a chance to pay attention, if at all, THEN I will respond IF, (and only if) something you sent recently has my interest.

20160111_163053.jpgAlthough I do understand that there have to be priorities, I do have a hard time with this type of attitude. To me, what it is also stating is “YOU, as a person, are not important. I will wish you well and good luck if you are ill or something, but I am not willing to connect beyond the surface. Connecting emotionally takes time and energy, and I am just too busy for that, or for you.”

I’m not saying that people should be like my late grandmother and worry because I am not calling everyday. On the other hand, understanding what is going on in people’s lives seems to me a reason to take turns checking in. Not asking for anything – just saying “hey,” and keeping it short. For example, I’ve been emailing a new contact, and we were communicating several times a day for a week or so relating to upcoming events and learning about each other since we are essentially working together. I stopped sending emails and knew it would be a good idea to check in. In this case, I didn’t expect it the other way around especially because he had said he was waiting for “the call” from his wife and the birth of their third child. I did check-in, and it was good timing. The baby was born early in January and he was just getting back to work and learning, with the rest of the family, how to adjust to less sleep and more humans in the house. He was also appreciative that I checked in, and even felt bad he hadn’t told me about the arrival of the baby. I told him that it was ok cause I didn’t see my role as someone who needed to know immediately and in fact, that is why I thought it important that I be the one who checked in. It was a good conversation, and it was short.

20160115_135001_hdr.jpgFor Hacker Gals, I’ve tried to do the same thing. I don’t want to message people just to see if they can come to an event. I feel like they are important to me as people I know and (from my perspective) as friends. What do you do, though, when that doesn’t seem to be the case? Where is the line between being persistent and begging? I do not want to beg anyone to be my friend. This isn’t first grade, and I am fine with that. I was happy to connect recently with one of my friends and when we met we had brunch together. It is much easier to talk about a lot of things in person than to have to type them out, which made the long conversation fun because we both have passions we care about, with some points that overlap. Texting is good in-between. It is even better to use to set up when to meet in person.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the check-ins and communications lately. Someone who I just started talking to in the last couple of months apologized for not communicating more and provided a brief list of highlights. The acknowledgment was nice. I am important enough that it was ok to take five minutes and send an email. Thankfully, we have lunch plans set in a week and can catch up more thoroughly again.

Another friend who I  haven’t known very long. either, also apologized recently. She provided highlights and we had a short text conversation. We have tentative plans to meet at a local coffee shop. I invited her because I know when I get through my “busy” week (if you really want highlights, comment below) I want something to look forward to, and what would help me most is knowing I have time to work on whatever project I want. Does it sound like Hacker Gals? It’s not a formal event, and many times I sit by myself anyways. I am happy for the company, though, so if it works out, then great! If it doesn’t work out, I will still be able to work on what I want, which was the point.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Please “like” or even “check-in” with a comment below.

Stacy

Books, Being “Busy,” and Self-Regulation

20160125_125848.jpgI admit it – I love books and I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. A good thing, right? My dream used to be to have a room in my house just for books where you may even need the ladders they use sometimes in bookstores. You know, to reach the ones at the very top (or maybe even to see what is up there?) Although a great dream to have, it is not what I want anymore. I want to be able to keep my favorite books in a few of the crates I use like shelves, and let the rest go. Don’t worry, though – I do NOT throw away books that are still useful. To me, letting the rest go means donating them – to friends, friends of the library, or even those stands people have on their lawns where you can take a book and leave a book. I first saw those stands on display at an Art Hop event, and now I look for them in the world. It turns out that there is one right near me. My first books have been officially left!

20160125_125955.jpgOne of the reasons for the downsizing of books is that I have been trying to change my space – the size and the contents – for a while. A big thing to move is my bookshelf, besides the physical strength needed to carry the books that are usually put in a tub for transport. I cannot move the shelf by myself, and, to create more space in my current studio as well as wherever I may be next, not having a book shelf would be a good thing. I’m still going to have the crates as shelves, though. I’ve been using crates since living in a dorm room in a residence hall years ago. I like them because I can use them to carry things, they are stack-able, and I can vary the colors, if I want. Right now I don’t have any empty ones, so that will also be a part of the plan. All of this relates to one of the topics in my professional career development class – self-regulation. The definition of self-regulation states that it is a skill involving cleverness and anticipation so that immediate and tempting rewards do not block us from progress of a long-range goal. My goal is to downsize with a particular focus on my environment. Sound kind of boring? I think in this case – sharing books – will be fun!

To continue with the idea of self-regulation, I hope that it will also mean that I won’t feel as overwhelmingly busy, since that is what a cluttered environment can make it feel like. The idea of “busy,” though, is going to be in a different post so this one won’t be as long.

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

 

 

 

A Week of “Just Missed it” and “The One Thing” book

In my “Psychology of Aging” class last week, one of the discussions revolved around attitudes and aging. When something happens, how you cope, and that attitude in coping, can either build up a lot of stress or bounce off of you. For example, when I finished an 20160119_080736_hdr.jpgappointment, I knew, and even stated out loud, that I had 5 minutes to make the bus. I didn’t have too far of a walk and 5 minutes seemed plenty of time. It would’ve been, too, except I ended up walking behind a group of people getting off of a different bus, and the one I wanted was near the front. It was too congested to walk very fast so with probably 20 steps to go, I watched the bus pull out. It’s not worth trying to catch it at a different stop, either, so I found a spot inside a nearby building and waited for the next one. Disappointing? Maybe. I thought it was ironic and kind of funny.

When my last class of the day ended a couple of days later, I had to make a stop before heading to the bus waiting area. Normally, there would be 10 minutes. By the time I was able to leave I had 5 minutes or less. This time, I was coming from the other side and the bus was at the back end. I probably had another 30 seconds to get close enough, so I watched it leave, again. Twice in a row? Still funny, I guess. I knew it might not work, though, so I went to a different building in the hope of taking care of a task. I wasn’t able to complete it, but at least it gave me something more to do than standing around and waiting. I wouldn’t have known I couldn’t complete the task if I hadn’t tried.

What this has made me think about is how things seem like they are a really good idea and turn out to not be “it.” Today, to read something while I was on the bus to go to Meijer, I remembered that I had downloaded the book “The One Thing” (by Gary Keller) to the Kindle on my phone. I don’t even remember how the book was recommended other than I think I found it from reading something else.  The main discussion in the book is that we don’t get ahead by “big” things. We get what we want because (usually) we are passionate that leads to dedicated practice and learning of one thing, many times with the help of one person, and that leads to success. The author cites Walt Disney, the Beatles, Bill Gates and Oprah, each having not only one thing they were into doing, but someone significant in their lives who helped them obtain that one thing to the point that they could give back to the world in the same way – through one thing.

20160118_092012.jpgThe book and the experience this week in general has also led me to think about all of the parts of my life. One organization I really like, for example, and theoretically it should help solve some of my personal problems. Instead, I put out a lot of energy. It is still worth having a relationship and yet not the affiliation. It “just missed” being able to really help me, and I have decided to let it go, whether or not I need to wait for another one to appear. I might have something right in front of me, too.

Another organization is the one I started and that I write about, Hacker Gals. I created it partially because I saw a problem, and partially because I experienced the problem I saw. If I had been the only one with the experience, then that would have been a completely different journey. However, even though I know that the need is there, it still feels like a “just missed it” scenario. I’m not sure where to go with that. It doesn’t seem as simple to me. When I brought the question up last summer, a group showed up for the discussion, and some from the group have helped to keep it going, yet it’s still not feeling right and similar to the organization I know I need to leave, I am wondering if the answer is the same.

When it comes to my “one thing,” I would say that it is writing. It is the one thing I have always loved to do and has moved me forward. Writing is the reason I returned to school. Still, writing is pretty broad. Each of my experiences has helped with the next, and I believe the current path within school and with Startup Grind will help me continue to narrow down what topics I want to research and write about and maybe even provide the community I seem to be trying to find. What is your story?

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

Out the Window

20160112_083336.jpgIn case you forgot what Michigan can be like in the winter, today is definitely a reminder. I made it to yoga for the 6am class as part of the challenge, and it felt like I had hiked for a while. It was totally worth going, though. Just seeing the studio was calming. Plus, the not so great mood I was in last night that was there when I woke up is now gone. The instructor sent us off into the world with “Whether or not you are a snow person, enjoy the beauty of it today.” Just for that I am sharing some pictures.

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Health, Psychology, and “Writing like Crazy”

The friend I referred to in “Art, Being Social and “How Time goes by” noted that I had been “writing like crazy.” His question to me was “Is it a New Year’s resolution to write more?” My response was that it wasn’t for anything like that and I wanted to write more because it makes me feel better.

20151205_200120.jpgWriting more has been something I have been intentional about for a while, it is just more obvious lately here. I had noticed before that when I express my thoughts it is a release, which also makes it a relief. It was even mentioned during one of the health psychology lectures last semester that writing can be used as a part of therapy. I like using a blog site for anything I can write about in public, and so began my “writing like crazy” trend.

I learned quite a bit in that health psychology class, which I have been thinking about more during down time. One of the chapters was about stress and how humans are the same, yet different, from other animals. What that means is that we have the same reactions to situations. In the case of animals, though, they do not continue to think about things or even worry ahead of time. Animals use the stress reactions in the moment and either are safe (they did not become the lion’s dinner, for example) or they are dead and it does not matter (that would be if the lion won, for example). We humans, though, have been coping with stress, one way or another, over our life from the time we were infants. Somewhere in the class material I discovered the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcersby Robert Sapolsky, which is all about the stress concept mentioned earlier. It is a book that is backed by science yet written for the general person, and it is one I am in the middle of reading. I will definitely write more when I have something additional to say about the book.

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

 

Refilling the Empty Bucket

I keep thinking about this, so I am writing a post about it. I’m sick, and I’ve been sick for the last week. This isn’t about wanting people to feel sorry for me, either, so put the violins away, please.

I don’t get sick very often and I am pretty sure it is not more than a cold. Even though I want to curl up and sleep some more, I do not have a reason or time to do more than slow down and stick to what has to get done. I’m also lucky that what has to get done I can mostly do at home. Whew!

20151226_110940.jpgWhat stinks is that I want the energy that usually keeps me going because it also would help me get to things which would make me feel better. For example, as I have been looking through things to get rid of for recycling, I came across a comic book I had promised a neighbor kid. Usually he is one of the kids playing outside, and the weather hasn’t been great. I went to the door a little while ago to get a delivery and my mail, and I saw this kid outside at the house next to me. When I told him I had found the comic book I had promised and he could still have it, he was excited. As I closed the door he said “Wait, can you get it right now?” I told him yes and ran into my apartment to grab it and returned outside and he came up the steps to get it from me. He had previously told me he has problems reading and is really good at math and other subjects in school. Seeing him happy was cool and gave me some energy to put back in the bucket, which has been feeling pretty empty lately.

If I had not received the alert from Amazon about my package, I wouldn’t have gone outside. For once, great timing, Amazon!

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

Art, Being Social, and How Time Goes By

The first Friday of the month, or the second one if the first was a holiday, means it is Art Hop night in Kalamazoo. It used to be a regular thing with a particular group of friends. Although we don’t meetup regularly for it anymore, there are a few people who still like going. I had specifically wanted to go to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) because they were offering free admission. It turned out that the friend I texted was going and had a small group, too. I ended up meeting the group at the KIA and continuing with them on the mall in Downtown, leaving them at the Radisson because I went home and they continued on to Park Trades.

20151230_160506.jpgThe subject of drawing and then coloring and coloring books came up while we were chatting. My friend was explaining to the newer people in the group that we had met through the Jaycees and a few years ago I had run a coloring party project specifically for stress relief. Wait. Hold on. A few years ago? True, I did run a project and ever since, the project keeps getting brought up, like it did tonight. It wasn’t three years ago, or even four. Try eight (8) years ago. That was the first project I chaired as a Kalamazoo Jaycee, so we are talking about 2008. It really does seem like a long time ago to me, though. An interesting point to this is that I was on to something early and I didn’t even know it. I just thought that coloring for stress relief sounded fun and beneficial. Now the coloring book industry has exploded and the designs are for everybody, not just kids, and we all have a new chance to be a part of the fun.

Bottom lines of the night – it’s great to see friends and more time has probably passed since a particular event than you may realize.

Thanks for reading!

Stacy

 

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