Monday, December 31, 2012
I'm so impressed with Chicchantal's fabulous walks about England - (sigh here - Oh to be in England)
I'd love to share my own rambles across the countryside. Alas. my computer is old My internet is slow. It would take me weeks to load all the photos on my latest Sunday Stroll - the last of 2012. But it was a very pretty walk and if you would like to stroll along with me - click on the link below.
Another deeply inspiring spark blogger is Pixie-Licious who has totally focused on choosing each healthy day one at a time.
I've had a fabulous time with my 12 in 12 habits but I'm ready for something different this year and somehow I plan to incorporate her "One Healthy Day at a Time" philosophy into my 2013 plans. I'll be back in a few days to tell you all about them!
In the mean time - Happy New Year to you all!
Friday, December 21, 2012
Time was when I was taking a fitness class, and the teacher would say "get your hand weights", and I'd see those girls pick up 8 pound weights, I'd think, "Humph. Show-offs. ". Then I'd go pick up safe 'n' secure 3 lb weights or if I was feeling really moxie, I'd get the big blue 5 pounders.
Fast forward to late winter 2012 and I decide that it's time to do something about my saggy belly. It was so weak it was beginning to hang on my spine, making that hurt. I remembered enjoying doing weight training a decade earlier, working with a personal trainer. Unfortunately, that PT had retired and I wasn't quite sure I wanted to work with the male trainer at my gym - a retired firefighter with huge muscles.
But I asked for some help and he walked me through some really good core exercises that took delicate care of my crooked spine with those two spots where discs want to bulge between the vertebrae. After that I felt enough trust to ask for help with a little muscle firming work.
I plunked down the $ for 10 lessons and started, in the springtime, hefting those 5 pound weights in flys and bench presses, tricep lifts and shoulder shrugs. Each week, Wayne-the-Personal Trainer pushed me harder. By June I was easily using 12 pound dumbbells to perform those same moves and in the fall I was lifting 15 pounders ... 2 of them!
But that's a lot of weight and I have lots of crooked stuff in my body - and conventions and out of town meetings and Holidays and oh, just a slew of other things interfered with my training sessions. Not that I missed going to the gym - or doing strength training - but I couldn't always schedule something with W-the-PT. When I'm exercising on my own, it's a little hard to push myself to the edge. Not alone. I talked about this with W-the-PT though and mentioned that I had never ever thought I'd lift 15 lb weights. "Oh you'll be lifting 20 pounds before you know it" he assured me. "If I had you twice a week you'd be lifting 25 lbs."
Something about his belief in me has tickled my brain ever since he said that and yesterday, as I settled in to do some reclining chest presses, I looked over at those 20 pound weights, They look so big - even though they're actually the smallest free weights on what I think of as the Guy's Rack.
Still - I thought I'd just pick them up and ... you know ... see. And then I thought I'd just give them a try. I promised myself I'd stop if there was any hint of pain or strain but as I lay back and put myself in position I knew I could lift these babies. I like to make my movements very slow and measured because I want to be sure I don't ever hurt myself and as I pushed against those hunks of metal I could tell I was using proper form: Core engaged. Neck relaxed. Arms aligned. I began to push.
They were heavy - but not a single fiber in my body complained. AT least, nothing complained except my biceps at the 9th press. "No more than 10" they insisted and I complied. After that first set I scaled back to the 15's but still I did it! I pressed 40 lbs for 10 reps and for the rest of the day I was walking on a cloud. Today I can't even tell I pushed myself beyond a normal Thursday session.
I have had many targets I wanted to hit this year - I've succeeded with some - not quite made it with others - but this one - lifting 40 pounds - wasn't even something I dreamed of doing. It was just the next step in the direction I was going - but boy is it a big one for me. I'm so excited to see what I can do next! Maybe - juggling tires?
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
LOL Dawn, picking a favorite book is a lot like picking a favorite child - I love so many.
Limiting myself to books written for adults, the book I've read the most - which one might say is my favorite - is Pride and Prejudice. I came to it as an adult, so I already knew what it was to be at a cocktail party with a bunch of affected, nervous people putting on a false front. (mind now, not that everyone at cocktail parties does that - but you get the picture). The cleverness with which Jane Austen pricks out each person's weaknesses absolutely sent me over the edge in laughter. Darcy's proposal is a classic piece of hilarity.
And at the same time, I completely understand how a perfectly rational intelligent person can open her mouth and watch black bats and squiggly worms squirm out! I've DONE it!
Since I have read P&P maybe ... what? 40 times? I'd have to claim that as my favorite
then I think about other books I adore ... like
The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi - where the priest prays just the same way I do and gets the same sort of answers I get
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - where the essential dilemma of How Do You Choose Between Your Head and Your Heart is worked out to my own complete satisfaction.
Sword and the Swan by Roberta Gellis - who can take the words from the old Scottish folk song Geordie and weave it into the plot of a story. And nobody can write a battle scene as vividly as she does. I like all her novels, especially because she chooses my kind of hero.
Faro's Daughter (or pretty much anything else) by Georgette Heyer - who is the ONLY person who can write a regency romance worthy of following Jane Austen ... who was not writing historical fiction anyway - but contemporary fiction.
Shinju by Laura Rowland - a murder mystery set in the Shogun period of Japanese history but so tightly written you could set it in modern times
Portuguese Irregular Verbs by alexander McCall-Smith - the whole trilogy, actually - I am laughing now just remembering the silliness of it - how Englishmen poke fun of Germans so so funny
Life of Pi by Yann Martel - which I loved so much I will never see the movie - no matter how good it is
Ditto "Schindler's List" by Thomas Kennealy - even though I adore Liam Neeson
some books should remain in our hearts and in our heads
Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett - such a perfect spy novel - so precise, with no plot flaws, perfect pacing, characters to care about - that I didn't read another of his books until he started writing about Cathedrals.
Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice - juicy and erotic but so well written you can't really classify it as erotica. The plot is as true as glass. No flaws and she gives an amazingly accurate depiction of how a classical musician is trained. her descriptions are so vivid you feel yourself in the molding damp world of 17th century Venice.
Well - that is 10 of my top 100 in no particular order and alas, I could go on and on and on forever. This started out as an answer to a question but I decided to turn it into a blog post. Happy Reading to my spark pals
Monday, December 03, 2012
So here it is - the last month of 2012 - packed with Christmas plans, thoughts about the past year, ponderings about the coming one - and I am adding the last habit into my life. It may sound like an odd one for a librarian - but it is important for me to reveal the Great Librarian Secret:
We do not read books all day
Yup. That's right. We don't sit around reading all day.
What do we do?
We introduce little ones to their first act as citizens - to benefit from the common good, to care for the borrowed books, and to return them to share with someone else.
We help 9 year old boys find something they can do a book report on that isn't full of princesses and dresses.
We listen to teenagers as if they were adults. And then we answer them as if they were adults.
We help your mother log on to the Internet to see the pictures you emailed her.
We mop up the bathroom after somebody evil has made a mess.
We fix the lights outside.
We explain to county/city/state/federal sources why they need to fund the library
We entertain the Rotary/Lions/Chamber of Commerce/Masons/Women's Club with stories about life among the stacks - before we ask them for money too.
Oh yes. And then there is the paperwork.
So - what we tend to read all day are book reviews. We only get to read books at home .... like you. And for a couple of reasons - I don't seem to have enough time to read all the books I want. this is especially true for reading teen and tween fiction - where I believe some of the most innovative writing is happening today. Don't get me wrong - I love a good mystery and now and again I can find a historical writer who is not into Vampires or time travel. Ken Follett comes to mind first but there are other great historical writers out there who can put a convincing amount of modern mores into the world of Castles and Kings. But I don't like a lot of the adult fiction that's coming out right now: Mean complaining women and weak men ... Ugh.
Alas, I've resorted to reading mostly non-fiction or familiar old friends - novelists I can depend upon - Austen, Bronte, Lovelace and Wilder - and while this is certainly alright - my choice - even a good thing, the danger in avoiding contemporary fiction is that one looses touch with the values and beliefs of society - for it is only through fiction that we pass on what is important to us to the next generation. The teacher in me wants to find out what type of fiction - story - is actually reaching young folk these days. So this month's habit is to add reading YA and junior fiction for 20 minutes a day.
And how am I doing with my other habits? How was November?
Clean the kitchen every night.
Not perfect but good enough to make me take notice how pleasant it is to walk into a kitchen that is clean and tidy. I would give myself an A-
eh - there have been some days when I just didn't bother - but then there was Thanksgiving when I Pre-tracked! I give myself a solid B
Yep. here I have done well - and even done very well so it gets a solid A
Drink 6-8 cups of water every day
Can't figure out why I haven't been drinking water - but I can feel it. Not a failure but I need to do better. I give myself a D+
The Charles Schwab list at work
I realized I was letting this slip and ... uh. no. not a good thing. Not enough work gets done when I forget. I earn a C
Read my 5-year plan every morning week
Eh. Not. What was I thinking? This earns a C-
Compliment someone on my staff every day
This month has been all about planning for someone's retirement so I was aware of what everybody does and how valuable they all are - and said so. I get a B
Draw 20 minutes a day.
I did some art most days till I finished the 40 watercolor Christmas cards I'm sending out - and then I stopped because ... there are other things to do that demand artistic effort - I get an A
Select a big life goal - a big personal thing - and take one step towards it ... every day.
Got to admit this - I have drifted a bit in November. It's the beginning of the Holiday Season so I won't be too hard on me, but I will only give myself a C
Ditto at work - Same issue - same grade C
I realized last month that I needed to do lots more of this ... and I did. the healthy, kind, grateful, honest kind. I'm proud of this. I get an A
Saturday, December 01, 2012
I'm SO close to goal. I've been futzing around weight loss for SO long. I'm getting bored with the denial aspect of this process. I keep discovering blogs, posts, comments, ideas from OutThere that point to an attitude adjustment I really ought to make.
There was the SP article about research studying people who went on maintenance first and then on weight loss and how much better they did over the long haul - tracked a year later - than the people who went on the weight loss and then followed up with some weeks of maintenance eating. WOW.
Then there's the Spark Blogger who has only stepped on the scale 4 times this year! She's lost 71 lbs but she just does not go there - she's concentrating, every day, on healthy eating.
There was that Other Spark Blogger who said she looks every bite and asks "Is this something that will fuel my body with nourishing food?" Not - can I fit this into my daily caloric intake ... which, I confess, I do, with the help of my School Marm Left Brain and her list making, system fooling, rule breaking sneaky self ... prodded by impish Wild Child Right Brain - who is always looking for blueberry donuts or chocolate.
I think it's time for a mind-shift. I think it's time to look at things from a different perspective. I think it's time I stopped focusing on what it takes to lose weight and push my brain over to the What It Takes To Live A Healthy Life table - where perhaps I can feast upon much wiser choices.
As I get closer to that joy filled day of possibilities - January 1 - and New Year's Resolutions - I want to ponder the options and come up with something different - and perhaps, something more lasting. We shall see. It will be fun!
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