Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I guess this is about the human condition?

I haven’t done any monthly resolutions for a while now—I guess it started to feel too forced, or too structured, or something.

But yesterday M.H. mentioned that he was thinking of giving up social media during NaNoWriMo, and that sounds like a great idea. He of course will be working extra hard on a novel that month, but I would be doing it (a) to support him, (b) to give myself more productive time in general, and (c) to stop making myself crazy with the news.


About that last one:

I keep struggling with how you’re supposed to function in a world like this. It seems heartless to just go about your business and be happy when (to pick one example) there are people dying of racism in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, everything is pretty great in my house and my life, and it seems pointless to be furious about something that I can have very limited impact on. (I’ll just throw out that we give quite a bit to charity, and I write to lots of politicians and the occasional school principal, so it’s not like this is empty sentiment with an obvious solution.)

The mood of nearly everyone I know swings around two extremes called “guiltily happy” and “helplessly angry”—and it’s not like there’s a magical middle ground somewhere in there where we can find peace in being just the right amount of content-in-our-blessings-yet-concerned-for-our-fellow-humans.

Probably on some basic level we humans are equipped to deal only with our own problems and those we experience with our own senses. But that’s not our world, and everyone is dealing with this in the way they think is best, and doing the right thing seems to involve a lot of mushy gray area and confusion. Regardless, I think it’s OK if I let the impotent fury go on without my contributions for a while.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Might be an early winter

We’re expecting a freeze on Monday and snow on Tuesday—two weeks into fall, and basically it’s already winter. I wouldn’t mind so much except that I will miss my very productive zucchini plant. I have been getting one large, perfect zucchini about every three days for MONTHS now, which is exactly the right amount of zucchini. (The tomatoes are a dud this year, but the zucchini is sufficient unto my needs.)

I did enact a loose morning routine for the fall, basically centered around coffee and yoga. It goes:
  1. Coffee
  2. Yoga
  3. Coffee
I try to take a moment for gratitude/meditation on the yoga mat, as well as to end every practice by “inviting” something into my life. I can’t remember where I heard that idea, but I have invited everything from inner peace to a good idea to help M.H. solve a problem with his book, and a lot of times the thing I mention does seem to show up.

I guess another part of my morning ritual is that my phone stays silent and on the charger and I stay away from social media until after coffee/yoga/coffee, breakfast, showering, and several hours of work. I like to see some sort of news in the morning just so I know if the president has been impeached or dropped dead or anything, but I am training myself to do that on The Washington Post website rather than Twitter.

Looking at Twitter or Facebook too early in the morning tends to ruin my day. Or maybe I should say looking at Twitter or Facebook inevitably ruins my day at any time, so I like to hold off on that until late in the afternoon if possible.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The schedule monster

I’m starting to obsess about what kind of morning routine I want to have for the fall—in fact, at one point I had convinced myself that I need a morning routine, an evening routine, and also some sort of afternoon ritual to break up the day. In all honesty, I’m not yet unconvinced of that. It’s like there’s a Scheduling For The Fall Monster that wakes up inside me every year around this time and roars until it’s presented with a detailed, color-coded, hour-by-hour schedule for each day of the week, down to who takes what vitamins when.

The schedule monster is rather unhappy that this year there will be several days of the week when it will be literally impossible to get the three of us around the table at the same time for dinner. Of course, that makes my obsessive scheduling even more important—if Monday and Friday at 6 are the only times I can gather my family around me, then I really don’t want to have other plans. And that’s also made me realize that I really don’t want to overschedule my morning with a bunch of stuff that takes me away from breakfast, which is the other time we can all be together, if only for 20 minutes.

Still pondering. Rawr.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Resolutions for August 2017

I was not in the mood at all to make August resolutions until I hit on the idea of making them all calmy ones rather than achievy ones:
  • Read the newspaper. I’ve fallen into the terrible habit of getting most of my news from Twitter—or at least I find out about things on Twitter and then sometimes go read about them elsewhere. But since 90 percent of the people I follow are scathingly vicious Trump opponents, I don’t think it’s that healthy for me. (I mean, I curated my feed that way on purpose, but I think I’ll take a short break from the firehose of rage.)
  • Keep up the morning yoga. I’ve written about how much I like doing yoga with no guidance of any kind, and since I started that, I have not once had the faintest desire to ever go back to watching a video or taking a class. I’m telling you, I’ve had some terrific yoga teachers, but this is WAY better. (And this is barely a resolution because I was totally going to do it anyway.)
  • Add in some meditation. I often take a few seconds to focus on my breath at the beginning and end of yoga, but I think I could extend that to a few minutes.
  • Get outside. Just want to make sure I still get outside a few times each day to walk or whatever.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The seasonal morning routine

I’ve been informed that this is Tuesday, which means—holy mackerel—I have only two more days of outdoor swimming left this summer! I have LOVED having this whole adventure every day. It has made the summer really feel like summer, if you know what I mean.

So…my latest brilliant idea is to think about some sort of new morning routine to make the fall feel more like the fall (“fall” being defined for this purpose as “when school starts in late August through about the first major snowfall”). The new ritual would definitely involve walking and yoga—and coffee—but I’m not sure what else. I do know it could no longer be a FOUR-HOUR extravaganza, because summer is the only season that really accommodates that kind of awesomeness.

I’ve always liked the idea of having a morning routine, but I was never able to get one to stick before. I think making them seasonal might actually be perfect. After all, your circumstances and moods change A LOT with the seasons, particularly in a place like this with drastic weather. And it’s nice to give each season some sort of limited purpose to remind yourself that this time is not going to last forever—for better or for worse.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Fuhrman firehose

One highlight of my summer routine is that it offers a glorious amount of time for listening to podcasts and then reflecting on them. I feel like I come across interesting recommendations and bits of wisdom more quickly than I could ever keep up with. It got to the point where I had to drag the never-before-used Notes app onto my iPhone’s main home screen so that I could jot down book recommendations and random fantastic ideas I hear as I walk home from the pool.

Yesterday, for example, I heard an interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman (link here, but beware some locker room talk*), who I have never taken all that seriously before. I have to say, though, I have a new respect for him, mostly because of his righteously-super-angry attitude toward the American diet, which he calls “suicide by food.” (And he has a book coming out this year called “Fast Food Genocide,” which, YESSSS.) He finds it baffling that people just accept that they could get some horrible disease at any moment—and that they will live the last few decades of their lives in some degree of pain, immobility, and mental decline—even though we’re living in a renaissance of nutrition research, and all those things are pretty much preventable if you are paying any attention at all. And then he comes right out and says that the way most of us eat makes us literally stupider** (and slaves to our addictions) and by this point I am AMENING all over the place.

But then he talks about being a vegan, and I am like, Huh? Do you not see your incisors, Doctor Goofy?

Anyway, I also came across this quote yesterday:
“ ‘Wellness’ is capitalism trying to sell you back the sanity it stole from you.” —Gesshin Greenwood
I have thoughts on that one, too, but for now I’ll just throw it out there for general reflection.

* Nothing as bad as what comes from the mouth of our current president.
** A second allusion to our current president.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Of moose and MacBeth

The plan yesterday was to do a little five-mile hike and then go watch “MacBeth” performed by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks in a small town near the mountains. It turned out to be more of an adventure than anticipated, and here’s a preview:

(Not pictured: Four hikers cowering behind a tree.)

So…we hiked Phantom Creek Trail to Slough Lake, and we hadn’t gone a mile when a storm started rolling in. It rained on us a bit, and there was some thunder, and even some hail—all that said, it never got too bad, and we were only going 2½ miles from civilization, so we hiked on. Slough Lake was lovely, even in the rain:

On the way back we got passed by a pair of young women; they were the only other people on the trail, actually. But not five minutes after they passed us, they came running back shouting about a moose. The four of us found a place to climb up a steep embankment and made “We are here but no threat to you” noises while a bull moose wandered up toward us. He didn’t seem to pay us a lot of attention but eventually wandered off the trail in the other direction.

Now, moose will not eat you, obviously, but they will still try to kill you, and it was a little scary, even with bear spray in hand. But when the moose was well out of sight, M.H. and I decided to go on. We had a play to get to, and there was only one way back to the car! We went another 100 yards down the trail and ran right into a mama moose with a baby—those being the kind that will even more readily kill you, by the way.

We hustled back to the spot where the other hikers were still hiding out. These two moose stayed on the trail and walked right past us as if they owned the place (which they totally did) and were simply taking the most expeditious route to Slough Lake. Long story short, we all survived, “MacBeth” was great (though if it hadn’t been for the moose I would probably be blogging the story of how the sprinklers came on in the park in the middle of the play, soaking us for a third time that day), and we got home so late and exhausted that I had to skip another morning of swimming. Totally worth it.