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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A daily poetry practice

In case you were wondering, it’s July 10 and, yes, I do have ten poems to show for it (per my monthly resolution). None of them is long (they top out at eight lines), not all of them are good (in fact, I’m confident that six of them are terrible), and not all of them rhyme (one is a haiku). But it has been fun, and it’s getting easier to do as the days go on.

They say that when you think about what kind of life you want to have, you should think about what you enjoyed doing when you were 10, and I know for a fact that wrote a TON of poetry between the ages of 8 and 13. I wrote a little in high school as well to fulfill English assignments (sometimes even when the assignment was not poetry). I wish I had continued, but I made that classic mistake of stopping because I was not that good.

Of course the mistake there is twofold: It wrongly assumed I would never get better, and it totally missed the point of making art in the first place.

On the other hand, I shudder to think about how much hot garbage I would have produced as a prolific poet between the ages of 13 and 30, so you’re welcome, universe.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Problem solving

I was having a Yahoo Mail issue that required me to clear all my cookies, which of course then led to 50 million other problems, including not being able to sign into a bunch of sites or to comment on my own stupid blog. I lived with the frustration for about two weeks before deciding yesterday that, from now on, every time I encountered a computer problem, I was going to do whatever it took to figure out the solution then and there. It has been stupidly time-consuming—but also liberating, now that I seem to have most everything sorted out.

(I would probably experience the same brand of satisfaction if I were to ever organize my digital photos, but at this point I’m sort of curious if it’s possible to just live out the remainder of my days without photo organization.)

The other big problem in my life is that my right shoulder has been bothering me the past few days. This morning it reached a level that I had to admit was pain, so I cut my swim off at 400 meters and am planning to take a three-day weekend to rest (we were going hiking Monday anyway). I think this is smart, but it probably would have been even smarter to stop swimming as soon as it reached “bothering” level. It’s just hard because I’m enjoying my swimming routine so much. But I may find I also enjoy sleeping in for a few days, who knows?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The greatest summer ever

The weather here has gotten warm, which has been great for early morning outdoor swimming. THIS is what I imagined when I decided I wanted to swim all summer. The alarm is still darn early, but the swimming itself feels better all the time, and it’s really fun for me to get a glimpse (a very unobtrusive glimpse, of course) into Mik’s world.

In fact, my morning routine has gotten so long and wonderful that it is actually starting to interfere with my work. Here’s the rough timeline:
5:05: Wake up
5:33: Arrive at swim practice exactly when coaches do
6: Swim
6:20: Walk home/listen to podcasts
7:25: Yardwork/listen to podcasts
7:40: Coffee 1
7:45: Yoga
8:15: Coffee 2
8:20: Cry about coffee/yoga/coffee being over for the day
8:25: Tea 1
8:30: Breakfast and Facebook Scrabble
9: Brush teeth, brush hair, change clothes
9:05: Maybe, finally, four hours after waking up, sit down at my desk to work
I know from experience that it’s a lot easier to get focus-heavy things done first thing in the morning, but you can see how glorious the summer morning routine is and why I don’t want to change a thing.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

“Gnatz!” is out!

I’m a day late in announcing that the “Gnatz!” ebook is now available! I’m really proud of this one—not only of the work I did on it but also because of the objective fact that my husband is an absolute genius. (And if you do read it and agree, please, please, please tell your friends. It is ridiculously hard for an unknown writer to get known, but I’m encouraged by the fact that the handful of people who review his stuff on Amazon are pretty universally blown away by it.)

And happy Fourth, if you like that sort of thing.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review of “Intuitive Eating”

(Or, actually, a long explanation of why I did not finish reading “Intuitive Eating.”)

Hopefully I will not misrepresent this book (since I read only about a quarter of it), but here’s what I understood to be the basic argument: Diets of all types are bad for you, because any kind of limits or deprivation make you rebel and cause you to binge, eat in secret, and gain fat. Also, starvation or extreme hunger sets off a psychological panic—and an inevitable overeating cycle that can take months or years to normalize. Instead of dieting, you should listen carefully to your hunger cues and eat whatever you want whenever you want to satiety. You should not try to get thinner than your body wants to be naturally, and you should toss your scale. Oh, and carbs are the “gold standard” for energy.

I’m on board with a lot of this. If someone is used to eating every few hours to stay satisfied, I would agree that any kind of deprivation diet could cause a vicious cycle of starving and binge eating, and I think there’s something to the psychological panic argument. (We want food for the same reason we want air, after all.) Our culture of body image and dieting is a mess. And I agree 100 percent that the scale is worse than worthless.

But here’s what I could not get past: Obviously before food was industrialized and there were Twinkies and Cheetos in every supermarket, it would have been a no-brainer to eat whatever you want to satisfy hunger. Foods that were hyperpalatable—in other words, literally designed to make you keep eating them—did not even exist. The only thing available was real food.

But that’s not the reality today. A lot of what you find on supermarket shelves is not food at all. I don’t mean the toilet paper. I mean boxed cake mixes that are just sugar mixed with flour mixed with sprinkles mixed with chemicals. Or sodas that are just sugar (or worse) mixed with carbonated water mixed with chemicals. Engineered food is really seductive, and so is sweetness, and so is convenience. The book talks about junk food as if our intuition can somehow outsmart the food scientists whose exact job it is to trick us into eating more of their crap. And it makes it sound like turning down a chocolate chip cookie that you would rather eat is the ultimate act of deprivation.

I just got too irritated to read on. I don’t want to eat one more mouthful of, or spend one more penny on, food that’s just causing misery and disease.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Resolutions for July 2017

Some summertime resolutions:
  • Hit up the farmer’s market. We almost always go and buy a few things, but this summer I would like to try to do the bulk of our produce (and maybe meat) shopping there. We may have to change up what we eat a bit to make it work…
  • More outdoor yoga. I did yoga on my back patio that one time and it was amazing, but apparently I need to force myself to do it again? Fine. Self, you have to do yoga outdoors a minimum of five times in the month of July. Bonus points if any of those is not on the back patio.
  • Write a poem every day. Obviously it does not have to be long, or good, or rhyme. Also I do not have to show it to anyone.
  • Just keep swimming. Getting up to swim and walk every single morning is pretty hard. If I can keep up with that, I will be happy, so I don’t feel I need a new resolution in the “toughness” category. (Although if I can do a 100 fly by the end of the month, that will certainly also be worth bonus points.)