First Day and Two Favorite Apps

Tuesday, September 6th was the first day of school for many students in the area, all different levels. I began classes this past week, too, although not until Wednesday. It was fun to look at all the postings that appeared on Facebook. As I took a picture, all I could think of was “I’m melting.” The photo did not go up on Facebook, and I do not really want to post it here, either. The temperature had been hot and the humidity high. Thankfully, both have dropped.

This leads me to a completely different topic that I almost titled “My two best friends.” The first is Runkeeper. The reason I like it is because there is a social interaction with friends. I used to have a longer list of friends. When trying to update my last name I ended up starting a new profile. That’s ok, though, because I have had some people accept. The interactions are through “likes,” comments, and being able to see that others are running through their activities. It doesn’t matter to me about the time or distance being faster or further than mine cause I am not trying to compare. I am curious why friends run – training, regular exercise, etc, and will ask. All of those examples help because they motivate me to get out and do it, too.

20160822_150326.jpgMy second “best friend” app is c25k, which stands for “couch to 5k.” It is set up so you run three times a week for 8 weeks and gradually increase the running over the walking until you can run an entire 5k (3.1 miles). I have run 5ks before, and I have even run without stopping until the finish line. I started over because I haven’t been able to run straight through in a couple of years (at least), and a 5k coming up in October is one I have never been able to run the entire course without walking parts of it. This year may be the last time I enter this particular race, so whether or not I have friends who participate in it, I am doing it. The training started with week two because of the time until the event. To date, I have finished week two and three and day one of week four. Yay!

I have been pairing yoga with running since yoga keeps me stretched out and then I run better. It has been a fun adventure so far. Thank you, to my friends who are on Runkeeper. Also, thank you to my Safety Buddy. My Safety Buddy only knows when and where I am running, yet that is an important social interaction, too, beyond just the “safety” part.

Do you have a first day of school or running story to share?



Making Space and Giving Gifts

The topic of downsizing and purging is going to continuously come up here. On that thought, I mentioned to one of my friends that I wanted to donate excess scrapbooking supplies specifically where it would be used, not sold. As a former Creative Memories Consultant, I could try selling to other CMCs, and I have. A group of border makers that I had were “hot items” at the time I decided to sell, and the page coordinator even assisted me. Those were relatively small, and I could mail them in a manila envelope for about three dollars. Although I took time to post more items for sale, they were ignored or I discovered that I would need a lot of bigger boxes, and it would take more time than it was worth it to me. What seemed to move was when a “wanted” item was posted, and you had to pay attention and be first to comment or possibly be the closest in proximity. I tried a garage sale, too, and that didn’t go far, so I stored everything the best that I could.

20160814_190118-1.jpgIt turned out that the friend I mentioned the wish to has a sister who crafts all the time. She has rheumatoid arthritis, and to keep her fingers moving, she makes cards, journals, and much more. My friend connected me to his sister, and we chatted on the phone. I not only believed them both about the supplies going to good use, I was excited. By going through what I have (and there may be more that I haven’t found yet) I already made more space in my apartment, with the pile of items placed by the door. On top of that. we all win – it made my friend feel good to connect us, it made his sister feel good to have more supplies than she could ever afford, and it made me feel good to give it away and make space. My friend’s sister is not going away, though. We are now friends, and she offered that anytime I want to spend a day crafting to let her know. This is HUGE. I haven’t had the space to do much in the last couple of years. Also, since the end of my consultant days, I haven’t had many friends who have time and want to craft together. In summary, new friend, more space at home, new chances to craft and I will have access to tools that I gave away. Can you feel the excitement?

20160814_115410.jpgMy next big “picture” project related to downsizing has to do with magnetic albums. I have around 15 books that are 100 pages each, or about a year’s worth of time. These albums are sitting on a shelf up high in the kitchen. Not only are these albums bad for pictures, that’s too many to convert. On top of that, the layout never stays the same. I photographed the pages of the books I previously took apart, and have come up with a new idea – short videos. With a video, I can do a narration and it’ll be like a home movie, then I can dump them faster and preserve what I can. Stay tuned!



A Beach Day without Yoga

20160801_182626.jpgAlthough I will probably have more “Yoga on the Beach” days, one of the best days at the lakeshore had a different purpose. Thanks to my neighbor and his job in the lakeshore area, I had a chance to spend the entire day with a new view. It began with a drop off at a coffee shop built like a super sized house, including large front and back porches. I had been to the coffee shop before, and after receiving what I ordered, I headed outside. The table I chose was near an outlet, which I wanted for my computer.

20160801_150031.jpgThe great part about the day was finding different spots, whether to absorb, relax, or work, and I chose all of the above. With electronics in my bag, I didn’t want to sit in the sun on the sand. I did walk on the pier to the lighthouse and I also walked on the beach and in the water enough to get my feet wet. The best area of the day, though, was in the shade. I sat for a long time in the grassy area under the trees, usually on a towel and sometimes on a bench. Others had similar ideas, and many had a dog with them. Since most of the people around me were with at least a second person, every so often, one person would get up and go for a walk. The walks usually had multiple purposes of walking the dog and getting food. Sometimes, a person would go off solo, leaving the dog in charge of  whoever was left.

20160801_172815.jpgI loved the shaded area because there was a nice breeze. It felt significantly cooler under the trees compared to out in the sun. If I had to get up, then everything went with me. I did that several times and still returned to the same general area. Sometimes I would take a break and listen to the conversations of the people around me and those walking by. I also would lie down and read my book, or just look up, enjoying the area. Eventually, I went to a second coffee shop, thinking that the first one had already closed. It turned out the first place was still open, which i found out when I made it back there to get picked up. I have up to three more chances to return with my neighbor, and I am going to bring my bicycle so he can park instead of having to drop me off in town. Where do you like to go for a different view out of town?



Sand, Wind, Sun and Rain

20160721_121224.jpgI’m not really sure what it is about this summer that has been different. It’s been really weird – at least socially. I mentioned this before, since it has been a thing I have noticed all year. The summer has seemed extra long, though. What I have been excited about is yoga on the beach. I went a couple of times in July, with different instructors. One of them I have known longer than the other and she is also the first yoga instructor I ever went to, around four or five years ago. We ended up being the only two in the car and had a nice chat, plus a great class and lunch with the other ladies. On top of that, the rain held off until we were paying our lunch bills. Perfect timing!

The last time I went to yoga on the beach I rode with two instructors. It was another great day for yoga, with the lake in front of us, and the lighthouse to the right. After class, I asked if there was time to walk to the lighthouse on the pier. It turned out that both instructors wanted to join in on the walk. The trek across the beach towards the pier was normal – dodging kids and frisbees and smooshing any sand castles. Once on the pier, though, it was like a bonus class utilizing the architecture that was there. Although I did participate, I watched more than anything. Sometimes, my participation was a suggestion. If I thought I could do the pose, then I did try. It still felt uplifting just to be a part of what started as a request to walk to the pier. By the time we returned to our original “classroom,” the sky had become more overcast. We ended up leaving after we heard thunder a couple of times. Credit to the guy by the concession stand near the bathrooms who turned out to be more accurate than the weather forecast. His friend was creating sidewalk art that he claimed would be washed away within an hour. I hope she took fb_img_1469133408219.jpgsome pictures before that happened!

Yoga on the beach has been a great summer activity (thank you, if any of my instructors are reading this!). What I have really missed is seeing friends who I am used to hanging out with throughout the month, again, probably because it is summer. I was really glad when one of them decided to celebrate his birthday at a baseball game and it ended up being a group of 12. It was fun to celebrate with the birthday friend AND see people who I knew, too. The forecast and the skies threatened rain. Luckily, that didn’t happen last night.

I loved waking up to the sound of the rain today and hoped that it would stay all day. The rain is such a relief from the humidity. That didn’t happen, and I felt stir crazy in my apartment. Since the bus runs on Saturday, I decided to go to the grocery store for a few things. As I was getting ready, one of my friends messaged me. I thought she was at home. It turned out that she was at the same store I was heading to, and she also rides the bus! We found each other in person for a minute, did our shopping, then met again on our way out to ride the bus back together. Funny thing – she doesn’t usually go to that particular store location, and we both ended up there. We chatted for a little bit after we both made it home, then I decided to be productive. Well…here’s proof of my attempt at productivity. Yes, it is a Saturday night. I don’t mind that writing (and listening to music) and possibly reading are how I will end the evening, as far as I know. What’s up with you?




Swimming, Being Acknowledged, and Finding Flow

It’s funny how long this takes me to write sometimes from when I first think about a topic. On top of that, there have probably been several cycles of all of this, too. As the summer has progressed, the weather has gone between being “disgustingly humid,” as someone I know posted, rainy, or right in-between with a lower humidity and temperature. The point is not the weather forecast. It is that I have really wanted to go swimming, and it took a while to get there. I needed a new suit, for one. Plus, I wanted to specifically go to the campus pool for lap swimming, and I needed a swim cap for that. I decided to add goggles, too, and make sure my eyes stayed protected.  While gathering all of those items, I also had to figure out how to get to the pool and make sure it was open for the summer, since there tends to be construction. What I figured out is that it’s a long walk to get to the pool without a car. Maybe during the fall or winter a campus bus gets closer. The city bus definitely does not. The final item to figure out was the day and time. I decided to replace running with swimming and go on the day I tend to run.

20160707_155722.jpgI finally made it to the pool last week, and it was great! Now I feel more comfortable about going and I have figured out other items. For example, if I do happen to drive and go at the evening time, the meters are free after 4pm. Yay! Swimming was a relief from the humid weather that day, so bonus on the timing. On top of that, I went swimming the next day, too, although a different pool.

My dentist happens to be 40 miles away, and my cousin(in-law). I like going to her and her office cause I feel like they really take care of me there, and they do not try to overdo the office or up-charge or find things to work on that may not really be necessary. For example, many times when I am there we discuss my bite splint. I totally agree that when the dentist at the time said that I needed one, it was, and still would be, an accurate diagnosis. However, I did not need a bite splint that is neon pink and glows in the dark (and I used to have a case that matched). It cost more to get it that way and the neon pink glow was not what made me want to wear it. My bite splint is a “hot topic” almost every time I go to the dentist because part of the appointment is getting it cleaned and making sure it fits.

I also like going to my cousin because it is a chance to see family. When available, I go to the house and see my cousin and their kids, which hadn’t worked out for several times. At the least, I get the connection at the office, though. This time, I found out my cousin and the kids would be around all day, and I could go swimming, if I wanted to. I said I’d be there after my appointment. At my appointment, I was forewarned that the boys were taking turns doing chores, and the 12-year-old was quite grumpy since that took him away from playing video games.

It was late morning when I arrived at the house, and my cousin greeted me outside. When his younger (8 yr old) son finished a chore, we all sat on the porch and chatted while the older son bounced back and forth a couple of times. I loved listening to what everyone was into, including the circuit in the basement based on “American Ninja Warrior” that my youngest cousin moved through rather well. Eventually, we all went outside to swim and sit by the pool. Yes, another swim day! This time, in salt water. Within a couple of hours, my cousin’s friend with his boys joined. The kids played in the pool while the three adults chatted. It was an all around great day and hard to leave and return to Kalamazoo. One of the reasons I wanted to stay was because the social connections I have been missing felt really strong and the discussions were interesting. I missed out on the chance to see my cousin’s dad, too. It has all made me reconsider what I might do about transportation so I can get up there more often.

20160715_103540.jpgThe back and forth days have not just been the temperature. They have included how I have been feeling. Sometimes the yoga instructors will say to assess and think about terms related to weight. One day, my legs felt really heavy and I was glad for yoga. By the end of the class, my legs felt better. Yoga on the beach highlighted the end of the week and added another really good social component. I rode with the instructor and met the other ladies when we had lunch together. I’m grateful that the instructor sets up carpooling. If it wasn’t for carpooling, I wouldn’t be able to go at all.

As the weeks transition, I had that lethargic feeling again and decided to take advantage of the unlimited summer yoga and go this morning. It definitely has helped me get unstuck and flow again.

Finally, sometimes what I notice is the need to be acknowledged. This could be personal or it could be what I see out in the world, on my block, through Facebook, or wherever. One of the reasons I like blogs over journals is because I want to be acknowledged as much as I want to share my experiences. When people “like” my posts, it is a good start. I still believe that some are doing that because they “like” whatever the featured photo is and aren’t necessarily reading what I write. What is even better is when there are comments, and it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. I try to acknowledge my friends by sending them messages after seeing posts, or offering to take one of the neighbor kids with me when I walk downtown. No one needs to be invisible and we are all human.



Rainy Facebook Memories

fb_img_1467982049069.jpgSometimes, the memories Facebook decides to remind me of are better off being ignored. Other times, they are plain old sad and I may look at them, but I do not usually choose to share them. The last couple of days, though, have been big winners. I have cluttered my news feed because they were FUN!

For example, yesterday was not only humid, the memory that popped up was when I first saw Pop Evil locally. All I wished for yesterday was for it to rain and relieve some of the heat. When the rain finally came later that night, I was thrilled!
The significance of the Pop Evil concert was that it was during a particularly dry summer four years ago. The band played at an outdoor venue. When they finished, many stuck around to get autographs and photos or they were dancing to the music still being piped through the speakers. Maybe an hour later, it started to rain. I handed my phone to the friend with me and joined others who were dancing, sliding on some of the brick since I was barefoot. If I had been around others during the storm last fb_img_1467982011938.jpgnight I just may have danced in celebration during that one, too. The experience four years ago, especially shared with one of my friends, was one of the most fantastic nights. I even met the lead singer and drummer of the band, and both were really nice! Somewhere, I have autographs. Yay for great rainy day Facebook memories! What are yours?



Aging Gracefully

20160706_103202.jpgThis post is going to be a bit of an experiment. The experiment comes with the topic. As mentioned in The Bicycle Ride and Dancing it Out, motivation has been low lately. I think some of it comes from not feeling well. Even more than that, in this case, there has been an uncertainty, an unknown. Unknowns can be exciting, as one of my friends recently pointed out. As true as that can be, there is another side. The topic I am referring to is how women age. I don’t know where the models are supposed to be if they are not in your own family, so like a new parent might, if something seems weird, I make an appointment to see the doctor. Where is the community, similar to the mom groups, to help figure these things out? It’s one of the topics I dreamed about discussing when developing Hacker Gals. It never made it that far. It’s a topic that I thought would be expanded more for a “Psychology of Aging” class I took in the spring. Not much beyond “a change in hormone levels” included. Yeah, I knew that much already.

I remember a couple of women I worked with who experienced hot flashes, a lot. They would be dripping in sweat while the rest of us were all bundled up from being cold. I don’t know how long that was supposed to last, and it hasn’t been my experience at all.

When it comes to puberty and pregnancy, the information is all over the place. I feel like I am looked at by the medical staff like I am supposed to have these aging answers. If I had the answers then this post and my experience would be much different. Instead, I am taking the risk of sharing my uncertainty with the world.

Men, you can answer this, too. I find it interesting who comments on my posts, written or verbal. In trying to find connections, they come from unexpected sources sometimes, and that is ok.

So, as you might have noticed, my mood is slightly different than the last post. I did go to yoga on Tuesday and I plan on going at least one or two more times this week. As other answers surface, that will help me, too. If this sounds cryptic, it is meant to. I mean, this IS the internet.




The Bicycle Ride and Dancing it Out

It hasn’t happened in a long time where I have lost my motivation. I’m pretty much self-driven with a lot of things, including exercise, at least in the realms that I like. Lately, I haven’t wanted to run, and even thou20160704_172648-1.jpggh I am on a summer unlimited pass, I haven’t been to yoga since the middle of last week. Whether or not this seems weird to you, it definitely seems weird to me.

My homework this weekend was fitting for these thoughts. I started an online Holistic Living class. Since it is summer, that also means double time, and that technically I am already two weeks in with the four lessons. One of the topics discussed the continuum of balance that we are on which goes between chaos and stagnation. Those on the chaos end feel overwhelmed and those on the stagnate end get bored. Or, maybe unmotivated? What helps me with staying motivated are the social interactions and the support that comes from it, which has been minimal lately. Maybe we’re all at extremes, trying to come back towards the middle, and missing each other in the process. Or, maybe my circle of friends is such that I’m not part of the closest circle, and have to really assert myself or be willing to be by myself. Luckily, the air temperature has been cool enough that my apartment is comfortable without a fan on or extra windows open. I was happy enough to be doing my homework and I was able to take a dinner break out with a friend on Saturday. All good, right?

The other part I have noticed is that I don’t know what pictures I want in the frames on my wall. A few years ago, it was a no-brainer since there were several groups of friends who were special to me. Some people I saw regularly, others were from groups I used to see all the time, including classmates from high school. The classmate pictures were from interim reunion pictures. Those pages are now in an album. I’m not sure if the replacements will be people or scenes. Right now, I have blank frames.

On the flip side, Zumba is one class that I have been returning to lately at the gym. The instructor I like keeps us moving and plays more than the traditional Latin songs. There is usually one or two I can sing to because I have heard them on the radio, such as Cheap Thrills by Sia’. One of my favorites!

My Zumba instructor also talks about our energy helping to give her energy, and that sometimes you have to “Dance it out.” Dancing had been something else that I had not been motivated to do much until I was in Chicago. Shortly after that trip, I returned to Zumba and more dancing. I have loved dancing in that class and was super excited the first day back. Sometimes it is a challenge to keep up, yet I was able to the entire time, and have returned a couple of more times. What fun!

capture_2016-07-04-18-25-14-1.png.pngAfter being in my apartment for the majority of the weekend, I decided that I needed to get out once I finished my homework. Since it is a holiday, my choices were limited by what was open. Transportation was limited to walking or biking. I decided to bike ride, and I made it a challenge, too. Other than a hill that I chose to walk my bike up, I bicycled to a coffee shop more than 2.5 miles away. It’s pretty quiet, as expected. Still, it is a place to be interactive. Plus, I can treat myself to food and a tea. Changing perspectives always seems to be a good thing. Sometimes an inversion is a good choice. Tonight, the bike ride was a great choice!



Welcome to my Chaos

In ChaosThe “Year of Yoga” is continuing through the summer. I purchased an unlimited package that is good through the end of August and have already registered for all of the 6am classes. The cool part about going to classes is getting the benefit of the background the instructors bring, besides the yoga (or any type of group class). One of my instructors is a therapist. The instructor uses the therapy background in how she talks to the class and what she has us think about. Many times, there is a theme. The theme of the past week was “chaos.” She basically stated that chaos is supposed to be in our life, and what if we accepted it. The urge is to fix or avoid chaos. Instead, she asked us to acknowledge it, and stop there. I have to say that I love these life lesson thoughts early in the day and it gave me something to think about while walking home. When I arrived home and opened my apartment door I felt welcomed by my chaos. It was a comfortable and familiar feeling, which seemed like a good thing, to me.

Although the lesson came after, I thought about the Startup Grind event I hosted a couple of days earlier. My challenge was carrying all the stuff needed. I opted to take the bus and be at least a little bit closer to the final destination. Even though what I carried fit with what is usually seen on the bus, I still found it a little bit funny. You’ll get the idea if you look at the featured photo. What I carried included a banner, a tripod, a couple of cloth Meijer bags, and I wore a backpack. Someone on the bus was nice enough to get up so I could have easy access to two seats by myself.  Once off the bus, I had about 3 blocks to walk, and an elevator to ride.

When it comes to the event chaos, I’m getting better at managing it. The chaos comes because it is a mixture of people bringing their own challenges and chaos. I try to arrive early enough to take care of what I need to and then be fully focused on assisting everyone else. It is actually a fun challenge. Even someone who had bought a ticket ahead and knew he’d be late was able to be taken care of because I had that information. I plan to continue that practice and cannot wait for the next “lesson.” Welcome to my chaos! What is yours?




The Untitled Chapter

fb_img_1465527530766.jpgI just finished an excellent book called “The Linchpin” by Seth Godin. It would’ve fit well with the Business Book Lady and Kalamazoo Business Book Club discussions. My favorite point, the main point of the book, is that we all have art to give. Art, according to Godin, is “any original idea that can be a gift.” Godin also notes that there is labor involved: “Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself.”

As I was reading the book, I was thinking about Godin’s concept of art. The art couldn’t be outside the box, either, because there is no guaranteed support or even the chance to complete (what Godin called “shipping.”) Instead, the creativity of the art is on the edge, where it is still recognizable, with a twist. I believe Hacker Gals would’ve fit since the goal was to have part maker space design, and part women’s organization, among other ideas. Those were all recognizable. Putting them together the way I did was the twist.

My life seems to be one of those twists, too, kind of like my favorite flavor of soft serve ice cream – mixing vanilla and chocolate. I’m coming up on a really good part, too. It’s like when you know your experience will change because you turned 16 to drive, except that is all you know. I’m getting to the part of school I’ve been wanting to do the most for the last couple of years. I couldn’t do these things now if I hadn’t taken the path I did, my “driver’s training.” The training is not easy, and definitely comes with obstacles. First of all, appealing to be able to receive financial aid.

Funny thing about liking school enough to earn degrees – they all add up to a lot of credit hours. Too many credit hours earned can be just as bad as too many credit hours attempted and not earned. The requirement for both is to appeal and provide documentation to prove your plan. I had to do it last school year, too. All I get out of the process is feeling like a human pinball being bounced around the machine. The biggest problem of being a part of the machine is that the departments don’t talk to one another. No one knows the entire process or what each step requires. I started this year with what I learned from last year, and made an appointment with financial aid. My paperwork was ok as written, except I needed to submit a graduation audit for my documentation. An audit required talking to an adviser in the college of my degree, and walk-ins weren’t available the day I was already on campus. When I talked to someone a week later and submitted paperwork to the registrar’s office, the auditor emailed me later that one part was missing. Meanwhile, financial aid had made it sound like the audit had to be completed before the appeal could be approved, which I told the auditor.  A couple of days later, the missing paperwork was submitted, the auditor stated proof of the submission was all I needed for financial aid, and financial aid is reviewing my paperwork. Whew!

Another transition has been a change socially. It’s been weird not having friends to talk to as regularly. Maybe this is part of the “art” since it is something I have been doing even before reading “Linchpin” – reaching out to friends to support them, even when they do not ask. It has been special cause it has led to being able to see people who I haven’t seen much in the last year. I hope it has helped in return, too. Plus, today I received unexpected messages to join a couple of friends for dinner. That was super cool, even when I arrived after they were close to finishing. I wasn’t hungry and ordered food to go, which also worked well.

Connections have also been important to me. A former high school classmate reached out recently on Facebook. It was someone who I actually talked to in high school and at a reunion or two in-between because I remember having a conversation about writing. It turns out that is still what he does. I sent a message to have a short chat, and we discussed writing. I have to say that even though I haven’t read Science Fiction (or any fiction) lately, thinking about all I have learned or experienced lately I am inspired to take some of it and create stories. Maybe that’ll work out better than the songwriting attempts, or even help them.

My friends tonight asked what I was up to today, noting that it had been “7 hours” since I had been on Facebook. Even though I use messenger, I’m really not on Facebook that often and appreciate the separation of the apps. What a loaded question about my day. I was excited to say that I watched parts of the Startup Grind Europe conference which began about 3am here (9am in London). I also participated in the world record attempt for the largest live stream audience by watching the interview with Eric Schmidt of Alphabet. After dinner, I had to be home for an online work meeting, and now here I am writing this.

20160614_113957_pano.jpgOh, and I love the layout of my space! I worked on it Tuesday morning before my friend came to visit. Knowing that I was going to show it off  was a great motivator!

An ice cream twist explanation of the day seems much simpler, don’t you think?