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Now for a new distraction: Fantasy Football

September 2, 2013

I haven't had a best ordinary day since my last post, so I haven't added to my best ordinary day list. I suspect I could add "Listened to a Roderick on the Line podcast" because I'm always delighted when one of those comes up in the podcast queue. "Listened to The Long Winters" is a good candidate for the list, too. I'm doing that as I write this.

For the month of July and into August, I had kept the lonelies at bay. I was still lonely, but not hurting over it. The hurt is back now, and all I can think is that the meditation has become such a habit, it's not a distraction anymore. I still believe it helps with my overall well-being, though.

I also finished my other distraction: Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings. That's a fantastic game for those who like action puzzles without the threat of your character dying with finality. I mean, the characters die sometimes, but it's not game-ending. You just lose some studs (coins) and they come right back to life.

Now I'm trying a new distraction: Fantasy Football. Last night, I participated in a draft for the first time. I know very little about NFL football, and Fantasy Football seems like a lot more work than I'm willing to put into it. But I think once the games start and I have a reason to watch the NFL, it will be more fun.

During the draft, I was concentrating so hard on stats and making sure I didn't draft players with all the same bye week, that I ended up drafting Aaron Hernandez. As one of the ladies in the league said, "Aaron Hernandez? lol. He's going to jail forever." "Why?" another asked. "He murdered everybody." Then I remembered. All I could think to say was "Oh yeah." I remember reading headlines about it, but the name didn't ring a bell when I was choosing players.

He was a late, bench player pick, so no biggie. I traded him out in the middle of the night (as you do). Apparently, one of my other bench players is injured, but I'll keep him for now.

Here is my team, the Pancake Bellyachers:

  • Cam Newton (QB - Carolina)
  • A.J. Green (WR - Cincinnati)
  • Torrey Smith (WR - Baltimore)
  • Adrian Peterson (RB - Minnesota)
  • Stevan Ridley (RB - New England)
  • Frank Gore (RB - San Francisco)
  • Owen Daniels (TE - Houston)
  • Garrett Hartley (K - New Orleans)
  • St. Louis (DEF/ST)

Bench:

  • Ryan Matthews (RB - San Diego)
  • Steve Smith (WR - Carolina)
  • Fred Davis (TE - Washington)
  • Carson Palmer (QB - Arizona)
  • Percy Harvin (WR - Seattle) - injured
  • Tampa Bay (DEF/ST)

We'll see how things go next week.

Fantasy Football Pancake Bellyachers 2012

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The best of ordinary days

August 16, 2013

I have difficulty with broad questions like "How do you picture your life in 5 years?" Or "What are your dreams?" I read an article on this topic recently that resonated with me. The author suggested to not answer those questions, but instead answer "What do I do on my best day?"

John T. Meyer's "My day is best when"

My first instinct was to think back to some of my best days and try to list things from those days. I wasn't doing it right, though, because mostly, I thought about vacations. Little Rock. Seattle. Mississippi. My very best of all, most memorable days.

I realized this exercise is really about "What do I do on my best ordinary day?"

Also, key to this process is that it's not about what happens on my best ordinary day, but what I do on my best ordinary day. The inputs, not the outcomes.

So here are some things for my list, some of which are inspired by John T. Meyer's list:

  • I get enough sleep (I need to quantify this)
  • I drink a cup of mocha chocolatte in the morning from Picnik (or I make one myself)
  • I go to girl lunch with Kathy and Ly
  • I work on a programming project for a whole afternoon with little or no distractions
  • I drive somewhere with the sun streaming through my sunroof
  • I meditate outside (rain or shine)
  • I cook a dinner that is right for my body (primal)
  • I clean or organize something (bad data at work, housework at home)
  • I read before going to sleep

Just as interesting to me as the things I put on my list are the things I didn't put on my list. (Playing iPhone games? I spend a whole lot of time doing that!)

My plan is to keep the idea of this list in my mind and add to it as I have good days.

What's something you do on your best ordinary day?

Giraffe Smile

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Conquering the swirling ball of distraction

July 20, 2013

I got to work, launched Outlook and discovered that in less than 30 minutes I was scheduled for a meeting with three levels of management to discuss my role in the organization. Whoa. They had understandable reasons to talk to me about what I do and what I would like to do in the future within budgetary constraints. I am blessed to work in a place that solicits and values employees' wishes and accommodates them when possible.

But boy... having a meeting with three levels of management set my head to spinning. I couldn't stop going over the things I said. Thinking of the things I wish I'd said and the things I wish I hadn't. The meeting was at 9:00 a.m. and thoughts about it were still swirling around in my head while driving home at 6:00 p.m.

This would really put my evening meditation practice to the test.

I got home, fed the dog, changed into a tank top and shorts and went outside to sit in my meditation chair while the sun descended through the bare limbs of my neighbor's dead tree. I started a 30-minute guided meditation.

The nice lady began speaking the words that I've heard so many times this month. Get in a comfortable, seated position. Notice my state of mind. Breathe. Listen to sounds. If thoughts come, be aware of them and then bring my focus back to my breathing. Or the sounds. Or the sensations in my body. Etc.

The thoughts of the morning meeting kept coming back. I would focus on breath and then find myself deep in thought again. At one point, I turned up the volume, hoping a louder lady would keep me focused. The thoughts returned.

At another point, I started to cry in frustration because I couldn't make the thoughts go away like I've succeeded doing in every other meditation. And then I remembered I'm supposed to let the thoughts come and just practice refocusing on breath again and again. That's why they call it "practice."

Then I purposefully breathed very heavily to keep the focus on my breath. I breathed loud and with force. It made my nose tingle. And it felt like I was angry or desperate. That's not how I'm supposed to feel.

Then I did something I'd not done before. I opened my eyes and stared at a blade of grass in the yard. Now I had breath, sound and a visual to hold me right there in the moment. It was better. Then I looked up at the sky and found a small cloud. I watched as that cloud dissipated into nothing over the course of a few minutes. And I imagined my thoughts dissipating into nothing.

When the 30 minutes were over, the thoughts of that meeting were still with me, but they were not the swirling ball of distraction that they were before. This is progress.

Meditation inspired by The Paleo Drummer's 30 days to freedom challenge.

Under Pressure Sheet Music

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Like taking a nap without sleeping

July 14, 2013

I've been meditating every day for two weeks now. Before, I thought meditation was purely about learning to clear the mind--that if you aren't able to clear your mind, you fail. Now, I don't think you can fail at meditation unless you simply don't do it. The meditation guide I use says to let the thoughts come, be aware of them and what they are about, and then focus back on your breath or the sounds around you or the sensations in your body. The thoughts come and then they go.

While I'm meditating, thoughts that normally upset me have no effect. It's like I'm a third-party observer.

I'm on the fence about whether meditation has a prolonged effect when I'm not meditating. Like whether it makes me more relaxed or makes me less prone to mood swings or makes me more patient with people.

Yesterday it seemed to have a lasting effect.

Before I meditated, I was a mess... crying off and on all day. Partly because it was a lonely weekend day and partly because recent government political fighting upsets me.

After I meditated, I didn't cry anymore. But I also avoided anything controversial by playing Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings until bedtime. Who knows which helped more? Probably a combination of both.

I've always thought meditation was new age kookiness. But now I think of it more like taking a nap without sleeping. It's better than a nap, though, because after a nap, I feel out of sorts and lazy. After meditation, I feel more in control and productive.

I found this article about mindfulness meditation enlightening: How Meditation Works

And I found this tweet from Andy Richter funny:

Yoko Ono: Imagine two billion universes. Visualize yourself on a planet in each universe. Andy Richter: Why?

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All are welcome at apple time

July 9, 2013

Every workday at 3:00 p.m., we have apple time. Those able to take a break, sit in my aisle and eat apples. Sometimes people eat strawberries or oranges or blueberries and yogurt. But mostly apples. It is apple time, after all. One time I didn't have an apple, so I went to the employee cafe across the street and bought some apple juice and pistachios. It was the best I could do.

I've been eating an apple in the afternoon for several years. It wasn't until Sam was hired a little over a year ago that apple time became a group thing. He tells people it was my idea, but if he hadn't started eating an apple, too, it would still be just me, sitting at my desk, eating an apple.

Even our supervisor participates. We have the best supervisor in the world. He never holds staff meetings. He knows you can't have a staff meeting that isn't wasting at least one person's time. But he comes to apple time and eats an apple.

Our supervisor likes the Red Delicious apples. He's old school. Sam and I like the Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples. I can't remember what Mark likes, but I know he doesn't care for the Braeburns. He's usually the one eating some other fruit, though. When Bruce worked here, he was apt to eat his apple before apple time. Sam called him out on it once, so Bruce called him an apple fascist. He said he'd eat his apple whenever he feels like it.

Sam tried a Kiku apple. He said it tastes like candy. So much so that it gave him a stomach ache.

Meagan and Jen usually come to apple time late, but they're welcome just the same. All are welcome at apple time.

Apples

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