Tag Archives: List

A day in the life

Here’s a peek into the life of Minnesota Transplant in the past 24 hours. I …

  • Cried my heart out after viewing the series finale for Six Feet Under. Hailed by some as the best series finale ever, I would have to agree.
  • Practiced yoga on the … dock. It’s not a beach here, I guess. It’s a dock over the water. The sunrise looked so inviting this morning, rising as it does over the bay. A few upward-facing dogs and downward-facing dogs were just what the doctor ordered.
  • Assembled a mountain of paperwork for an important project, scanned it all and renamed each PDF. Tedious, horrible work. Now it’s just waiting to be sent off into the ether.
  • Reviewed my standby library presentation, “The ABCs of Photo Organization,” for delivery tomorrow. It’s such good stuff, it inspires me! I’ve got a plastic baggie full of thumb drives that ought to be labeled, and this lecture gets me thinking I need to go to work.
  • Roasted the most delicious pork tenderloin for supper. I love roasting peppers and few garlic cloves along side and then dumping the peppers, garlic and a little olive oil in a blender to create a yummy sauce to serve with the pork.
  • Got excited reading the morning paper. Oh, the sports section this time of year is so full of potential (and sunshine). It’s the season of spring training baseball, don’tcha know? The Twins are undefeated!

Top 10 things to do when you’re home alone

I am savoring a few rare hours of solitary seclusion.

My Beloved and my Adored stepson are on an overnight business trip, leaving me home alone with the dog. This is rare because my Beloved works from home, as do I; we often dine on every meal together for weeks at a time and we usually travel together, even on business trips.

But not today. I have the whole house to myself. I purposely didn’t schedule any client visits. And here’s what I’m gonna do:

  1. Turn off every single, solitary room fan. I hate fans. I hate how fans make my eyes dry and my skin clammy. I’d rather sweat. My Beloved, for all his wonderful traits, drives me nuts by flipping on the fan no matter what time of year; he’d prefer the highest setting in all circumstances. But not today. Today, the air will be as still as a coffin.
  2. Leave the radio on, tuned to 89.5, the local National Public Radio station. What do you wanna bet the radio requires less electricity than the fan?
  3. Wear no bra and the baggiest, ugliest sweat pants I own. Why wear anything at all? Well, with the fans off, my thighs might stick together so I’m not subscribing to the strip-and-go-naked lifestyle.
  4. Spend ridiculous amounts of time in my office surfing the internet and writing whatever I want — a blog post, a book outline, a chapter in my next book. Ha! Human interaction?! I laugh at you!
  5. Eat supper whenever I get hungry, even if it’s 4 o’clock. Or 8 o’clock. Or both.
  6. Cook whatever I want to eat with no regard for the consequences to those around me. One word: Garlic.
  7. Read the newspaper — or a blog, or a magazine, or a book — while I eat. My Adored stepson (quite maturely, I might add) forbids iPads at the dinner table. I agree with this rule, but he also forbids my iPad at breakfast. Well, I am my father’s daughter, and I prefer reading my e-newspaper over my eggs or oatmeal.
  8. Watch the Oprah channel. I will use the “record” button frequently and ignore “recording conflicts.” Any shows with “DIY,” “house” or “food” take precedence over shows with “car,” “fast” or “pawn” in the title.
  9. Arrange the pillows on the couch. Once. Our couch gets a real workout, and the decorative pillows on it are constantly thrown out-of-the-way on the floor. But for the time being, the pillows will sit prettily where they’re supposed to be — and that’s not on the floor.
  10. Pee with the door open! Rebels unite! One of the marriage rules I abide by (some of these rules work better than others, but I’m stickin’ with this one): Never let your spouse see you on the commode (and make him close the door so you don’t have to see that either). It preserves the tiniest shred of mystery between two people who know each other better than anyone else in the world.

I can’t wait ’til your return, Sweetheart. (But don’t hurry on my account.)

Care to add to this list? What do you do when you’re home alone?

Driven to distraction: How to hitch a ride back to Focus Town

Such a crazy day today, and my brain is overflowing. Like tollway by my little village undergoing construction for more lanes, I need more neural pathways to keep track of everything.

I am normally a focused thinker. I wish I could take credit for it, but like my low cholesterol, we can probably attribute this to genetics or good parenting in childhood.

Today was a different story. While juggling house guests, a photo organizing job, a list of things to do that was as long as my arm (and I’m the sort of person whose wrists hang out of my “long” sleeves) and a bunch of errands for my Beloved, I was keeping my eye on my virtual connections because my book was featured in the daily newspaper nearest my hometown. Thanks to that exposure, “The Percussionist’s Wife” climbed to No. 72 among Kindle’s Memoirs & Biographies about Women (No. 1 in that category? Julie Andrews’ “Home: A Memoir of My Early Years”).

Arcane minutia? Maybe, but it’s exciting stuff for a first-time author.

That’s all front burner stuff. Meanwhile, in the background, I’m sorting through ideas for my second book. More on that later. Much later. Can’t concentrate right now. Trying to build back-burner neural pathways.

How to get it all done?

Must stay focused, must stay focused, must stay focused.

That’s my first tip: Mantras. Several times today, I forced myself to remember the next three things to do by chanting them: Finish invoice, feed dog, load of laundry …

(Talk about minutia.)

Tip No. 2: Lists. I actually wrote down my to-do list three times today.

Can’t forget. Can’t forget. Can’t forget.

And No. 3: Run. I was taking steps two at a time more than once today. And the lawn never got mowed so fast.

Be mindful, be mindful, be mindful.

Exercise a positive attitude: Part II

Choosing joy is more complicated than choosing a peanut butter.

Choosy Moms choose Jif. This is a clear directive. You know who you are, you know where to find the peanut butter. No mystery here.

Choose joy? Joy is an intangible commodity. Where do you find it? How, even, to look for it?

Joy is defined as “great delight or pleasure; elation.” Unfortunately, delight is not stocked on supermarket shelves (although I have been known to find a glimpse of delight in a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup, conveniently stocked near the check-out). If you could buy it, Wal-Mart would be buying it from a Chinese manufacturer and selling it at a low, low price.

If cultivating joy is like exercising regularly, as “Crazy Love” author Francis Chan espouses, here are my Top 10 ways to help me (and you) put our arms around this mystical, abstract stuff.

10 Ways Choosing Joy Is Like Running

1. Set goals and track your progress. My goal is to walk or run 20 miles a week. I write down my distance every day. I add it up at the end of the week. So, too,  with joy. Decide you will be joyful, and you will find opportunities to be joyful. Record them. You could start a gratitude journal. My journal is my blog; I’ll admit not every entry is joy-related, but some are.

2. Begin. Some days I don’t want to run at all. But I put on my running gear anyway and do something. Usually, after the first mile and half, I’m willing to do more. Put your dreary attitude aside. Do something to feel better.

3. Be mindful. Sometimes I do 1-minute intervals when I run. I can do anything for a minute. I don’t have to run 10 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour — only one minute. I don’t think about the next minute — only that minute. A friend of mine shared this story after yesterday’s blog: “I stood in a long line at the grocery store service counter yesterday. I wanted to be frustrated like the others in line but caught myself saying out loud, ‘We spend our whole life waiting, and then we die — why fight it? Do you think those green daisy bunches over there are real?’ We laughed.” She choose to notice the joy in the moment instead of the junk. Most bad situations are not 100% bad. Stop and notice the good that exists in the present moment.

4. Distract yourself. If being mindful doesn’t work, try a distraction. I can have very lively conversations in my mind with people who might be driving me crazy when I’m on a run, and pretty soon, I’ve covered a mile. Or I listen to public radio or a baseball game during a run; while I’m concentrating on the interview or the inning, 20 minutes pass. I try not to focus on how achy or hungry or tired I am. If your situation sucks right now, find a distraction in a funny movie or an engaging book. Do not watch the evening news; it’s depressing to hear about crime and taxes and bad weather. Every time thoughts of your own sorrow invade your mind, banish them — literally or figuratively push them away. Do not dwell.

5. Immerse yourself in your senses. When I run, I feel my heart beat. I inhale deeply and smell the fresh air. I see the blooming tulips in the neighbor’s yard. Concentrate. Find joy by really really hearing the sound of a child’s voice, by truly tasting the sweetness in a single bite of chocolate.

6. Listen to music. Music is a great way to set a pace when you’re running. Uplifting music in all sorts of genres  — classical, hard rock, Christian, jazz — can transport your mood. I like listening to music when I’m cleaning; I hate cleaning, but music helps make it better.

7. Pray. When I have a long list of people for whom to pray, I do it while I run. It’s sort of like a walking meditation. Bonus effect: I am thinking about other people’s problems instead of my own. If you’re the praying sort, ask for joy. Plead for healing. Beseech the Almighty.

8. Be active. Running is the definition of active. Activity can bring you to different places, forces you to pay attention to your body (instead of just your bad mood), makes you tired (so you sleep better rather than lay awake counting your problems). If you’re not joyful, you probably won’t find it by lying in bed or sitting on the couch.

9. Count your blessings. I can get a big thrill from running fast (for me) for a minute or a mile or up a hill. Maybe the run, on the whole, was sort of lame and pathetic, but there’s a success in that single part. Ditto for life. Rather than ruminate on the rubble, ponder on the prosperity.

10. Call your mother. I’ve taken many walks with my mother at my side or in my ear. If your mom brings you down rather than brings you up (or she’s no longer around), find someone else who cheers you. A good support system can bring joy even to a bad situation.

Got some other tips for grasping joy? Please share.

Why I exercise

A friend of mine is reluctantly taking up a fitness routine to improve her health, and I want to encourage her.

I offer the following list for her and for me, too. Exercise is not always fun or easy, and even those of us who exercise regularly need a nudge (or violent push) once in a while.

I exercise for:

  • Vanity. I know I’m supposed to be exercising because my body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), but honestly, I exercise for an improved appearance. A lot of things I can’t control changed when I turned 40. It won’t be long before wrinkles, lack of collagen, cellulite, freckled skin and gray hair in all the wrong places trumps a tight butt, and then perhaps I will exercise for God, but until then, I exercise for the mirror.
  • Improved mood. I know for sure I handle stress better when I’m exercising regularly. I blow off a lot of emotional steam along with literal steam when I’m running, and I’m more calm all day. (For those of you who have dealt with me when I’m not placid and easy-going, imagine how much worse I could be!)
  • Better sleep. I fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly on days I run.
  • Functional fitness. I don’t often have to run anywhere, so I don’t run so that I can run better in general life situations. But because I run, I don’t get winded when I take the steps, I don’t resent having to park in the back of the parking lot and I can bend over to tie my shoes without holding my breath.
  • Improved mobility in old age. My grandfather who lived to be 85 considered “cream and butter” to be a food group because he had almost no teeth and they were easy to eat, but he puttered around his farm until he died. My 95-year-old grandmother still lives on her own. Odds are, I will live to be 90 or older, and I don’t want my world to shrink to one room because it’s too hard to get around with the wheelchair and oxygen tank.
  • Occasional guilt-free indulgences. I cannot eat whatever I want to eat, but I do sometimes eat Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Doritos, copious amounts of guacamole and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.
  • Fresh air. Working from home with a computer and phone as the primary tools to keep me employed, whole days can go by without me stepping outside. I can’t always walk or run outside, but when the weather is cooperating, I have an excuse to enjoy the scenery. And when I am traveling, running around the neighborhood allows me to get my bearings and enjoy the local atmosphere.
  • Personal satisfaction. I derive a great deal of gratification from recording the distance I’ve covered in my running log. My goal is to cover 20 miles a week (at any speed), and being able to add up my weekly mileage and record a double-digit number that begins with “2” is what sometimes drives me to get out at all or to walk another 10 minutes.

And finally, I get out of bed and exercise so I can eat breakfast. Myself and I have made a deal: If I exercise, Myself gets breakfast. When I put off exercising, it often gets put off not until lunchtime or after dinner, but until tomorrow. If I get my date with my running shoes out the way, my duty is done and my reward is eating.

Inspire me, inspire others or inspire yourself, and share why you exercise. I’d love to hear from you.