Monday, August 31, 2015

#241: Saxophone-led Recessional

Today I went to a memorial service for a wonderful man who was 92 but you'd never think was a day over 80. Since he was an episcopalian we had a eucharist. At the end there were military honors after which we recessed out of the church behind one of the nephews who played "when the saints go marching in"--New Orleans style.

When I go, I was people to process out of the church clapping their hands!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#240: A vehicle vacation

I haven't driven my car in two days!  Since my new job is only about two and a half miles from home, I don't HAVE to use my car too much. One of my favorite parts of being overseas is navigating transportation without my own car; It's also why I loved living in Bozeman, MT.

Why I enjoy the bike so much:

  • I see things on a bike I miss when I'm driving, like smells and where the sidewalks are
  • It's exercise
  • It gets me breathing fresh air
  • The only sounds I hear are the world going by; no headphones or TV or students or phones
  • I save money on gas
  • My car will live longer
  • I'm polluting less
  • The deeply satisfying sensation of knowing that only my own power is getting me around.  Maybe this is freedom?
  • Usually I can park WAY closer to doors than in a car
  • I love running errands on my bike. I don't know why, but it just feels so good!
  • Because there is a lot of prep time involved with riding my bike to school or appointments, I am on time way more frequently because I start getting ready earlier
  • I am more present in my life when I'm on my bike, maybe because my body is moving around?
  • It just feels good.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

#239: Flowers at work

I love flowers!
I love flowers at work more!
I love pictures of flowers at work taken with my settings on my phone I just found!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#237: "How to" videos

I fixed it myself!!!  

I got a Sonicare toothbrush when I became a teacher (because I finally went to the dentist because I finally had dental coverage) and they fixed my cavities then suggested a Sonicare electric toothbrush.  I haven't had a cavity since!

That was 5 years ago. Lately it started making this horrible noise and I ignored it for about 3 months as it got worse. Finally that moment in time came when I would accept this no more. I asked Google for help. Which took me to YouTube. Of course someone made a video on this!!  I guess being born before cell phones and the internet I always imagine that I will have to call the manufacturer, send something in, wait weeks for a response, blah blah blah.

Not any more!  Google knows everything!

Thank you, Peter McSherry, whoever you are, for making this video so I could fix my own toothbrush in about 10 minutes. Not only do I have a quite toothbrush again, but I feel like a rock star because I fixed it myself!

Here's the video, just in case any of YOU have a breaking Sonicare.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#236: Windows

It was hot in my classroom today, so I went to my one of my five WINDOWS that are inside my classroom and OPENED one. After which, it became cooler in my classroom!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

#234: Decide. Plan. Act.

I expected to wake up at like 9 this morning after being up so late last night (I came home at 11:30 then watched The Quiet Man, as I was missing Ireland).

Suddenly I was wide awake and it was 5:55 a.m.  I tried to go back to sleep for a half hour, but it was not happening. The sun wasn't up yet, and I suddenly had this idea to hike up Table Rock. I've often had this idea—to hike in the morning and be awake before the sun enjoying the quiet of the morning. Usually I go back to sleep, however, because my brain gets involved. It starts telling me all sorts of unhelpful things such as
  • If you're going to get up and exercise, you should run
  • If you lay here just a little longer, you'll fall back asleep
  • You should get up and do school work since there is so much to do
  • You should get up and go to early church so you can do schoolwork in the morning
  • You should get up and go to the gym and run and get it out of the way
  • You should relax - you had a big night last night!
  • You should get up, make some tea and read a book—you always want to do that
  • ad infinitum....
Finally a voice made it through that I listened to. It said, If nothing changes, nothing changes. I love hiking. I don't do it very much because, well, see above. 

I got up and went. For the entire first 10 minutes my brain was in rebellion: You should turn back. Look at all this smoke. You could still make it to the gym before church. Suddenly I remembered a tool I learned a few years ago: Decide. Plan. Act. Once I realized this, I was able to separate myself from the thoughts in my head and look at them objectively. For whatever reason, decisions, even small ones like what to do at 7 in the morning on a Sunday, are sometimes difficult. I get sucked into the crazy in my head and end up taking a nap, eating, or doing laps around my kitchen. I have missed out on so much stuff in my life because of these anxious voices. I incorrectly think that there is something I can do to get them sorted out and once they are all calm and dealt with, then I can get on with doing the stuff I want to do.

So wrong.

Decide. Plan. Act. Is one way out of the cycle. I had decided, made the plan, and was acting it out. I just kept walking [up the trail] and in less than five minutes the anxiety and racing thoughts subsided and I was able to enjoy something I truly love on a beautiful Sunday morning in Boise.

Gratitude #233: Amazing people in my life

Especially this one. She was willing to have a birthday party with me, then she was willing to try this whacked-out silent disco thing at said party. Then we had all these fabulous people come together to help us put on this event and our friends who showed up and participated. Then some of them stayed to help us clean up.

I can't stop smiling this morning! Thank you thank you thank you all!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

#231: Going to bed at 8:30

I am not terribly good at taking care of myself, but tonight I don't care what other people think (not even the people in my head) and I'm going to bed. Maybe it's vanity- I want the circles under my eyes to go away; maybe it's just beginning-of-school-exhaustion--I was at school tonight till 6:30; maybe I've just given up on trying to get everything done in a day.  Whatever the motivation, I am coming to love how good I feel when I prioritize my own well-being.

So I'll say good night.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#230: Being late for work on Day 1.

I was not only a little late for work, but an hour late. And then I kept making screwy decisions on how I spent my time. But I found myself, well, delighted, while all this was going on. I couldn't stop smiling. I am just so happy I am working it out! I saw what habits of mine got me late and flushed so much time later in the morning down the drain. Maybe this is why I'm so grateful about this today: that I saw my part and didn't blame anybody else for any of this; I just looked at what I did and am correcting it. I think they call this "being a grown up".

It reminds me of my favorite scene from Meet the Robinsons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#229: Clean teeth and smooth hands

My dentist has a paraphin wax station for your hands while you get your teeth cleaned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#228: Finally....relaxed

"To relax is to trust." 

I heard this quote about 10 years ago in a spinning class in Bozeman, MT. It was the one and only spinning class I've ever gone to, so I've always believed that hearing this quote is the only reason I went to that class. 

Today my body finally began to trust the universe and me. I finally realized that I will not have to be in [emotional] survival mode every day at school this year. I don't know what else to say about this except that I love love love the kids at my former school, but many days were an emotional battle. Today through meeting some parents, new staff and helping out a few coworkers, I really let go of the idea that school a place of defense. Rather, it has now become a safe place of trust.

Monday, August 17, 2015

#227: My hair isn't falling out!

Last winter I noticed that the pigtails I put my hair into for skiing getting thinner, seemingly by the week. As the spring semester rolled on, I was astonished at how much hair was falling out of my head. Every time I touched my hair more than a few strands would come out in my fingers.

My yearly lab results were way low this year and my doctor wasn't sure why until I told her my hair was falling out. The debate was over: stress.

I think most of the stress was coming from my job and unfortunately I didn't get a whole lot, or maybe any better at managing it during the rest of the year. One reason is that I'm not good at saying no, so I wasn't sure [read: wasn't willing to] what to say no to.

After a summer in Ireland, despite the incredibly stressful 28 days of MAET; a relaxing trip to England; a laid back rest in St. Andrews, Scotland; changing schools; having only 2 preps this year; a visit to San Diego and a sail through San Diego harbor all apparently relaxed me enough to save my hair!

My hair dresser assured me during my cut last week that way, way WAY less hair is falling out compared to the beginning of summer. Not only that, but new hair is coming in!  WooHoo!

Now to keep relaxed....

Sunday, August 16, 2015

#226: Inside Out (SPOILER ALERT! Don't read me unless you've seen it!)

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen Inside Out yet, stop reading and go see it!  It is wonderful!

I absolutely loved Inside Out! My neighbors' daughters (my dates tonight) liked it, too, so I'm not lying. They are around 6 and 10 years old.

I loved it because:

  • The main character is Joy!
  • Joy was the default driver of Riley's personality. I love this! I think my default driver for a long time was sadness and has since become joy. I just love that joy is the default emotion; where we start and hopefully where we keep coming back to.
  • After seeing Minions (which was horrible) it restored my belief that animated movies are generally about 82% better than non-animated movies.
  • The representation of our memories as marbles that are intricately organized inside us.
  • That as Riley took actions that were in opposition to the islands of her personality, the islands were destroyed utterly. That visual image matches what I have experienced when I have done things that go against myself. It's like the action permanently destroys some part of me that, though it is possible to rebuild, becomes inactive once the action is taken. i.e. when she steals her mom's credit card, Honesty Island plummets into the pit. 
  • When Riley actually got on the bus to run away, the thinking train was derailed and crashed. that happens to me, too! When I act on those decisions that I know go against myself, my thinking either stops or becomes utterly deranged. Emotions are totally in control, just like in the movie.
  • That the imaginary friend had to let go in order to save Joy. This part reminded me growing up and not wanting to, which reminded me of taking responsibility for myself and not wanting to do it but the utter joy and freedom that comes from taking responsibility for myself. (perhaps not what Pixar had in mind, but that's where I went)
  • That sadness is not only allowed but necessary for joy to take her proper place. In fact, joy and sadness had to learn to work together.
  • That all the emotions learned that they can mix and work together and memories can be multi-colored.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

#225: Strategically placed outhouses

Photo from:
used under Creative Commons license
Thank you, City of Boise, for putting that temporary restroom on the north side of the red pedestrian bridge.

That's all I'm gonna say about that.

Friday, August 14, 2015

#224: Neighbors.

Creative Commons CC0
I love my neighborhood and especially my neighbors. Here's why:

  • We stand around and talk while we mow and our children ride bikes around.
  • We wave to each other.
  • We notice what happens at other people's houses. For example, the person that is supposed to come and walk your dog? Yeah, we know that she only came over 3 times in two weeks during the day.
  • When I had a leak while I was out of the country two years ago, two of them went into my crawl space to check things out. They also dealt with the water company and emailed me all the details.
  • One couple kept my ficus alive while I was in Ireland this summer.
  • Another neighbor watered my lawn a couple of times while I was gone.
  • I can borrow their children to go to the movies with (next up: Inside Out).
  • They help me put in insulation.
  • We DJ each other's parties.
  • They lend me an egg to finish a recipe I've already started.
  • They invite me snowboarding.
  • They aren't afraid to tell me to slow down when I drive to fast in the neighborhood.  Not that I've ever done that.
  • We come running when someone on the street calls out for help.
  • We collect each other's mail.
  • They help me move furniture into my house.
  • They help me move furniture out of my house.
  • They fix my lawn mower.
  • One pumped up my tires the first time I pulled out my bike after 3 years in the shed.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#223: Buying flowers for myself

I bought myself flowers a few days ago from Trader Joe's (they really are much cheaper than Whole Foods) and they are still looking great! Flowers make me smile and I realized long ago that buying them for myself counts as much or more than someone else buying them for me. It's the "for no reason" part that makes them fabulous—special occasions not needed.  Every day is a day worth having flowers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#222: Life lessons through vanity!

Let me preface this by saying: I know I'm vain. Luckily, God meets me where I am.

When I was a kid I had super long hair and super thick hair that was tortuous for my mother to comb because my head was so sensitive. Thus, she had it all cut off somewheres around 8 or 9 years old. I looked like a boy. I hated it. I remember someone in a store coming up to me and telling my mother what a cute boy she had. I vowed to never have short hair again once I had control over my own hair.

And so I didn't and I haven't. I have more or less always been on a crusade to grown my hair out long because in my head I'm just this close to looking like Jennifer Aniston.

When I was looking at my Ireland pictures this summer, however, I realized that my hair is always pulled back because it's either annoying or it doesn't look down. I was sometimes embarrassed about how my hair looked. I shared this with my hair dresser today and we decided to do something different and cut it short.

The moral of the story:

  • When I let go of trying to look like someone else (which, by the way, was not working), I discovered the perfect length hair for me. It looks great.
  • I asked for other people's [read: experts] help. I'd thought I wanted to go brunette but asked what covers up gray the best: blonde. 
  • I followed the advice of an expert (see picture).
  • After my appointment, I felt like a million bucks! Caring about Putting effort into how I look is a subset of taking care of myself. Yes, I can get obsessive, but there is an element of basic care-for-myself-ness that is reflected in putting some effort into how I look. 
  • Once again I am reminded that everything I need is right here now. Right. Here. Now. I don't need to go off and get a makeover or have totally different hair or clothes or nails or extensions or botox or whatever to be happy. Everything I need to be happy, joyous and free is within me, in my life. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#221: To stop fighting and go on a hike

It is HOT in Boise. I know it's not as hot as Texas, but really, it IS. Yes, it's only 15% humidity, but 95 degrees at 10 P.M. is hot no matter where you are.

I've been complaining about this for days, but tonight I decided to take action instead. I left my sweltering house at 9:30, just after sunset, and went on a hike near my house. I used my super awesome Black Diamond that I bought for the Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass I did in June. As I walked I realized that I have been fighting the weather [i.e. complaining about but not doing anything different] and I could, in fact, do something constructive instead like buy and A/C unit or go to the pool or go to the movies or just go outside rather than sit inside my house sweating and wishing I wasn't.

There was a warm breeze and it felt awesome to be out. It was beautiful outside and I'm so glad I got up and left the house. The cobwebs blew out of my head and I felt better and better even though I hadn't felt bad when I left. I seem to forget that exercise always, always helps, no matter what state of mind I'm in.

The view was beautiful from the top. I would have taken a picture, but I went on an hour-and-a-half electronics vacation. I scurried past a woman and her daughter that were listening to music out loud so I could listen to the wind. Here's some pictures of what it looks like at the top of Table Rock at night. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#220: Grounded by Starbucks

No matter what happens during the week; no matter how crazy or lonely or elated I feel when I go to sleep on Friday night, if I get up and run with these (and a few other) women, I always, always, always feel great when we're done. Running gets me back into my body--I think that's ultimately why I like it so much; but running with these women gets me connected to other people who love me through everything. They've loved me through divorce; break ups; job changes; going back to school and everything else that I've done in Boise.

And there is always, always, always at least a stop at Starbucks!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#219: To tell on myself

Yesterday afternoon I got a case of the "Everybody-has-other-people-they'd-rather-hang-out-with-than-me"'s which was accompanied by a severe, paralyzing terror in my stomach that felt that I labelled loneliness and felt like utter abandonment in this world. I was stuck. I could feel the fear eating away at my stomach and the only thoughts in my head were I'm all alone, I'm all alone.

I texted a friend to meet for coffee, but when she responded I ignored her, as when I feel like that my brain gets these great ideas that I should sit at home along and try to figure out what is wrong, though I'm pretty sure these boil down to excuses to sit and feel sorry for myself. After scrolling through Facebook for a few more minutes to torment myself by looking at all the joy and happiness posted out there, my friend messaged me on FB. This time I answered back and we met a few other women for coffee.

I told them how lonely I was and how terrifying that feeling in my stomach was. We laughed a lot, which helped. One of my friends mentioned that I have told her this on other Friday afternoons, which made me feel relieved (my oh my, how quickly we forget!).  Then I got a text.

Are you coming, we're waiting on you?

My Mountain Host group was meeting at a local park to bike ride down for dinner and I'd forgotten it was yesterday.

I laughed and rolled my eyes at myself. I told my friends, and they laughed and rolled their eyes. Perhaps needless to say, the terror lifted instantly and the thoughts in my head were quickly outnumbered by the reality all around me. 

I'm so grateful that I have gotten in the habit of telling on myself (some might call it self-obsession or talking too much, depending on what side of the coin you are looking at). A few years ago I would have ignored my friend for weeks, gone home and not told anybody. Then, 4 day or 2 weeks later I would have emerged a basket case and had some sort of come-apart to 5 friends. And I'd have ignored the bike ride text, too, but I didn't—I texted back immediately and even went to join them late. 

Just by getting willing to risk embarrassment and getting laughed at (deservedly so, may I add), I saved myself some misery, isolation and self-pity. Oh, and I got to hang out with friends, those people I was so afraid I didn't have in my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#218: Trash that!

I am cleaning out. Getting rid of stuff. Letting go emotionally and physically.--

After wandering around the house for a day or so wondering where to start so I just went through evening routine and cleaned out what I came across. So far that has been the nightstand by my bed which led me to the bookcase which led me to the other bookcase which led me to free up an entire shelf which led me to the two shelves of running paraphernalia above that which led me to dust the medals which led me to dust the shelves which led me to reorganize the medals and pictures which led to this (wish I had taken a before picture):

The pile of books looking for a new home.
This small accomplishment led me to realize how many races I've completed but didn't remember because the evidence was tangled up together and covered in a bunch of dust which led me to believe that I already have everything I need—I just have to find it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

#217: Alone without the lonely

I spent the whole day, less about 2 hours, alone in my house.

Okay, not a big deal, I know. I also know some people would love to have a day alone to themselves. And I do live alone, which could lead a person to believe that being along for a day in my house is no big deal and happens pretty frequently.

It does not.

Or at least has not in the last.

Apparently one of the things that was left in Ireland with the voices comparing myself to other people (see post #212) is the fear and loneliness that I used to feel so often when I spent time alone. Or, I should say, when I contemplated being alone or spent more than an hour in my house at a time without the TV on. Because really, I just kept myself so busy that I didn't have any time to be at home alone for more than 30 minutes here or an hour there. And I usually just ate my way through those times.

To be fair, the amount of time I can be alone has been growing steadily over the last couple of months, so perhaps the "Voice-of-Constant-Comparison" getting left overseas has a lot to do with this.

Frankly, I don't care why I feel so good; I am just amazed at how good I feel! I felt so comfortable today that I actually relaxed: I watched two movies (My Left Foot and Hitchcock, both wonderful) while NOT multitasking: no computer was even in the room.

Miracles do happen.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#216: Cleaning out and letting go (not necessarily in that order)

Upon my return from my Scottish/Irish/British summer, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gluttony. I have SOOOO much stuff. The sensation was acute since I had just spent almost 6 weeks living out of the contents of an average [American] sized suitcase.

Thus began my cleaning out adventure.

The obstacle, of course, was never the need to get rid of stuff. That has been obvious for years. My attachment to all this stuff has been the hold up. I must say, however, that the roadblock has been removed. I suddenly am willing to let go of things I've been holding on to for years, just in case.

My Traditional Chinese Medicine books, for example. I graduated from the Wellspring in 2008, practiced Amma for 6 months and now have been teaching math for 4 years. Yet I have kept all those books just in case I want to practice on the side or do both or aliens land on earth and demand a superb Amma treatment.

So before I left for San Diego I put two of my TCM books on, one of which is one of the definitive texts in TCM.

The NEXT day I sold one! The NEXT day! You know what's more? The other one sold a few days later!

I am absolutely turning into a "sign-girl" [def: one who treats outside, perhaps coincidental occurrences as signs that life or not-so-life choices have been made correctly] and interpret this development as confirmation that letting go is a very good idea.

I have to tell you, now that I have shipped the books, I feel fantastic. The books are in a better place, I have an empty shelf, I will soon have a little bit more cash in my account and more space in my house, my life and my mind.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#215: MAET Reunion!

A friend I met this summer while studying for my Master's of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) from Michigan State drove down from the Los Angeles area to hang out with me tonight in San Diego! She rented a hotel room and we're going to have lunch tomorrow. We got to go sailing, to happy hour, stroll along the pier, dine at a fun shop and she drove me back to my hotel in her new car.

We also tried to recruit some of my coworkers to the MAET program--we're a pretty good team, actually!

What a testament to the MAET experience in Ireland that she is willing to do this [just to be clear, I'd do the same for her in a heartbeat].  Friends for life from such an amazing experience!
Photo by Debbie McHorney

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#214: Sharing a room at a conference

I was skeptical to share a room at this conference in San Diego--I generally don't like to share [yes, I'm selfish. This is not a news flash.]

But I was wrong! Sleeping is no problem- we agree on temperature and are on the same timing schedule. The best part is that I am very much enjoying talking to her. I find that after a day of being out and about with people from my new school [read: being very, very excited], talking with her is calming and centering.

She is a lovely person and I'm so grateful that I actually notice these days when lovely people are around.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#213: My first trip to San Diego

Who wouldn't say yes to a free trip to San Diego? Not me! I've never been here before, but I LIKE it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#212: I don't WANT to have a garden!

When I got dropped off last night from the airport, I was surprised at some of the thoughts I had. I suddenly was crystal clear about several things:
  • I don't WANT to mow my yard.
  • I don't WANT to tend a garden.
  • I don't even care to HAVE a yard.
The logical question, then, is why have I been urging myself to do these things? 

Because other people do them. Because I see other people that look happy do these things and I decided that they must be happy because they do these things, therefore, I must do these things to be happy. It's "keeping up with the Jones'" but in my case it is keeping up with various people that I decide are happy.

I suddenly realized that lots and lots of things I've done in my life has been motivated by this invisible compulsion to keep up with people I have assigned as "happy". I wonder if this is what other people have meant when they have told me "stop trying so hard," and I think it is: this compulsion has driven me to stay up late when I knew I should sleep; to say yes when I really wanted to say no; to join things I didn't really care to join; to go out with people (men and women) I didn't want to; etc. all in the hopes of satisfying this compulsion to be enough.

Here's why this makes the list:  It's gone. G.O.N.E. Gone.

I am walking around doing my normal things now that I'm home, but it feels so different! For example, today I didn't go to the gym or exercise at all, and previously this would have driven me crazy. My brain would have obsessed all day about when I was going to work out. And it didn't. It DID NOT. I can't believe it. 

It so much bigger than a few situations--it's like the very fiber of my being has been profoundly and [hopefully] permanently transformed. I suddenly do not seem to care to please them --those invisible people that have been running my life for ever. Some of you are them. I suddenly find myself:
  • Not insanely driven to go on a run in the heat no matter what
  • Watching a moving while doing nothing else. No computer, no phone, no letters.
  • Going to Trader Joe's and not wondering if I fit in or what that worker person thinks of me
  • Free from the obsession to go on a bike ride so I can be one of those Boise people who go on 110K bike rides for fun
  • Not caring so much if I am as thin as Jennifer Aniston (because aren't we all just a few workouts away from looking like her?)
  • Questioning my motivations for some of my goals, like qualifying for the Boston Marathon or buying all those clothes and shoes or searching weekly for the perfect furniture for that back bedroom.
  • Answering the above questions with the same answer: the motive was to keep up with some expectation of what I should do rather than what I really want to do. 
I don't know if I'm getting my meaning across or not; it is difficult to explain because it is a feeling and a way of being in the world that has changed every second of my life inside my head. 

The bottom line is this: I have been set free from a compulsion that has driven me my entire life. I had given up any hope of it being lifted. I have tried so hard to do the right things to make it go away, to no avail.  I don't care why or how it is gone, I am just joyfully grateful that it has been removed!! 

#211: 100 degrees!! (38 ish degrees C)

I was SO warm today! I wore shorts for the first time in a month. It didn't rain. I wore a sleeveless shirt and didn't get cold (except in the mall).

I absolutely love Ireland, but it was super, very, wonderfully pleasant to be warm and dry today.

At the beach in Cromer- two days ago!!