Tag Archives: exercise

Intermission

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I love a break in the action, no matter what the action is.

An evening of euchre? Let’s take intermission at some point, to finish up all the threads of conversation that were left dangling as cards were played. Let’s cut into that pie.

A good book? Chapters provide an ideal pause. The characters take shape, the tension deepens and the motivations become clearer in the time between putting a book down, and picking it up again.

A play? Intermission is time to get a snack or run to the rest room, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to turn to the folks on either side. A short exchange of “Isn’t this wonderful?!” or “He is hysterical!” and something that was going on between the stage and each individual member of the audience now feels like shared experience.

A major project at work or home? Goals can change once underway. Perspectives are different in the middle of a project than they are at the start. A short intermission, maybe with a cup of coffee or an apple,  allows for an assessment of progress, and a reevaluation of the direction forward.

An evening of watching TV? I swear, my house has never gotten the attention that it did when I had television! There was one evening a week when I liked every show on the air from 7 to 10 PM. That was also my housekeeping night. During every commercial break, I’d jump up and furiously tackle a project: change loads from washer to dryer; wipe down the stove and counter tops; sweep a room; dust a shelf; clean a window. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished in five-minute increments!

There were times that I combined housekeeping night with exercise night. Then, the commercial intermissions were spent cleaning house, and the shows were watched while standing on one foot in “tree pose,” holding a plank position or getting in a few sit-ups. When handled correctly, TV – and the intermissions it provides – can be quite worthwhile!

A meal. I think it’s a good idea to take a little intermission before taking a second helping of anything. Time to reflect on the flavors of the meal. Time to decide if I’m still hungry, or just wanting more because it tastes good. Sometimes I take a second helping anyway, but at least I’ve made myself more aware of my motivation. If I’m over-eating because it is delicious, it’s good to know that, and better appreciate the experience.

Sometimes, eight hours in bed can seem like a very long time. After a couple hours of good sleep, I often find myself wide awake. I used to struggle to fall back asleep, concerned about what the following day would be like if I weren’t rested. It seemed the more I worried about it, the more sleep evaded me. Now, I just take a little intermission. I get a glass of water. I read a little bit, make a grocery list or write a letter. If I simply give in to the need for a pause, sleep comes easy.

Then there are vacations: magical breaks from normal life that shake up our senses and help us to see everything clearer. A change in environment or routine gives a basis for comparison, and helps to clarify what we know. With a little distance from the usual day-to-day sights and sounds, it’s easier to appreciate them, on return.

Most days, I enjoy whatever I’m doing. Still, I think every experience is made better by a little intermission!

 

 

Timeout for Art: Not Much

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Another week gone by with no time in the studio.

Another week with not much to show for it, in the way of art practice.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Though my participation in most rituals of the Catholic Church have fallen by the wayside, I like Lent. Just like the start of a new year, or the milestone of a birthday, the beginning of Lent offers another chance for improvement, renewal or a fresh start. It comes right about the time I have disappointed myself with most  of my New Year’s resolutions, so it gives me an opportunity to redeem myself in some small way.

I thought of giving up all sweets (oh, NO!), or just chocolate (but I just opened the second package of wonderful chocolate truffles that I received at Christmas), or bread (but I just bought that nice loaf of sourdough). I thought of giving up swearing or drinking, but I don’t really do enough of either to make it a true sacrifice. I thought of adding something that would do me good, like exercise or meditation. I thought of committing to doing something for others, like writing a thoughtful letter each day to people who would appreciate it, or some other form of good deed. Nothing really struck me as a winning commitment.

This morning, at my messy desk with a cup of coffee and a glass of water, as I rushed to sketch the scene in front of me so that I’d have something to publish here, I decided. I am going to make a sketch every day. I won’t say “drawing” because that implies a finished work, and a level of time and energy that I may not have. A sketch every day – for Lent – is a reasonable thing.

Fitness House

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There is a kind of health movement going on in my house these days.

I start most mornings with a bit of exercise, and finish my day with a good walk.

I replace one meal on many days with a high protein shake. I’m aiming for healthier meals all around. Salad is my dinner this evening.

The other day, having made a nice, brothy soup with lots of vegetables and some wild rice, I decided to make bread.

Fitness House Bread.

The recipe comes from one of my oldest cookbooks, Home Food Systems. It’s not even really a cookbook, though it does contain some good recipes. It is more a resource for providing your own food, from raising and milling grains to harvesting and putting up vegetables, to raising and butchering farm animals. Or rabbits. Or fish.

There was a time in my life when I looked forward to living a life that close to the land, and that is when I acquired the book.

I keep it now, I guess, for the sentimental memories of that stage in my life. Most of the information does not apply to the way I live or eat. Most of the product reviews are so far outdated as to be useless. Just about the only recipe I ever use is the one for Fitness House Bread.

It’s a good recipe, though. Here it is:

  • Seven and one-half cups of whole wheat flour, warmed
  • Six teaspoons of dry yeast
  • One teaspoon honey
  • Four tablespoons of molasses
  • Four cups of very warm water

Dissolve the yeast in one cup of the water with the honey. Proof until foamy.

Mix the molasses into one cup of the water.

Add the yeast, molasses and the rest of the water to the flour. Mix well. Dough will be very sticky.

Divide in two, roughly shape into loaves and place in two well buttered loaf pans.

Let rise for about an hour. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.

That’s it! Easy!

I always “doctor up” the second loaf. This time I added dried cherries, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds and currants.

My plan was to cut that loaf into thin slices as soon as it was cool, and freeze them, so that I could pull out a slice or two for toast. Unfortunately, it was SO good, i ate four slices warm from the oven.

It really doesn’t matter what the name is, it is not a fitness product if I don’t know when to stop!

Re-Set

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Today is that day! One extra hour! So – though I haven’t turned my clocks back yet, and they all tell me I should have been at work fifteen minutes ago (per usual on my consistently late workday mornings) – I actually have fifteen minutes to sit here with coffee and oatmeal before getting dressed! Hurray!

The oatmeal is another form of re-set, starting my day with a healthy breakfast. It seems I always start the week strong, with the diet and exercise regimen I’ve been working on, but fizzle out by week’s end. Sunday is always a new beginning. Oatmeal this morning, a good walk this afternoon…and I’ll start to feel back on track.

At work, I have tackled the nearly overwhelming job of re-setting the housewares department. “Housewares” is a side room attached to the hardware store that carries our fishing, hunting and camping supplies, and souvenir sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats in addition to a long list of actual housewares: vacuum cleaners and accessories; shower and grooming supplies; clocks; frames; candles; curtain rods, shades and blinds; an extensive canning and freezing section; laundry and ironing supplies; trash cans and totes; kitchen items including pots and pans, dishes, glassware and baking dishes…and all the serving tools to go with them…and a large collection of small appliances!

The last woman that tackled this area decided to leave the job at the hardware store, leave the island and go back to school. I can’t help but wonder if the housewares department didn’t weigh on that decision! In any case, the area was left only partially done – and not to my sensibilities in any case – which further complicated the task.

I’ve been mulling it over for weeks now, and finally took it on. Two days in, it’s going well!

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It makes me inordinately happy just to see all of the shelves clean and adjusted to all the same levels, to have things organized by purpose (baking, food prep, clean up)and presented attractively. I always have loved to sort and rearrange things.

And finally, the “re-set” that I woke up to today: the leaves are gone from the trees!

Sometimes that might seem to be a sad thing…it marks an ending, and hints at Winter.

This morning, with no leaves obstructing the view of a beautiful sky, it seemed like something to celebrate!

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Around and Around

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I’m big on fresh starts.

I like “do-over”s.

Beginning again was my tactic when, as  a child, any game was getting out of control. “Start over” was my battle cry. If, when playing “school”…or “house”…or “church”…the little kids pushed their limits or if I, in my role of teacher or sister (my older sister, Brenda, was – of course – “Mama”) or priest did something out of character, I’d call, “start over!” and we’d go back to try to do better. As if we were putting on a play, not just playing make-believe! If I made a stupid move in checkers, or stumbled in a foot race, “start over” was my cry. It didn’t always work, but it was always worth a try.

Self-Improvement is the sub-title of my life.

I am drawn to self-help books in library or bookstore. Exercise, diet, organization, meditation, procrastination, money-management…the list goes on and on. They are so full of hope! Each one, when I open to the first page, seems like it has the possibility to change my life forever.

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I like having a plan.

I love a good list.

This is my time of year!

The new year offers a time for fresh beginnings. Time to look at what needs to be changed, and make a plan. Time to make a list of improvements to be made. New Year’s resolutions!

I usually have a long list.

I once made a list of one hundred items that I felt needed to be worked on in my life. They ranged from patience and temper-control to neatness and organization to diet and exercise. From their sheer number, it took a little time for them to all fall by the wayside…but eventually they did.

I’m great at making resolutions. Follow through, not so much.

Looking back over the last forty years, I can say I have learned a few skills and gathered a world of varied (and sometimes contradictory) information from self-help books, but the road to life-changing self improvement has been a long and very gentle incline.

My best-laid plans and charts for a better new year take the same trajectory.

The trouble, as I see it, is this: Life is not linear.

Life is circular.

I can see it when I hear my daughters say things to their children (that they swore they’d never say) that I said to them (though I said I never would) that my mother said to me. “Because I said so,” is an example that comes to mind.

I can see it when I look at photos taken twenty years ago when I knew I needed to lose ten pounds…and now, thirty pounds heavier, I still feel like I really need to lose ten pounds.

It is obvious every time that I think, “let me go back to the beginning and start over.”

Lists are linear. Life is not.

This year, my goal is to just keep going around.

Happy New Year!

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Getting There

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I have one million things yet to do before I’m finished with this project…but I’m happy with my new shelves.

My stereo is in the living space along with a collection of old albums (the Beatles! Vanilla Fudge! Hendrix! The Soft Machine!) quite a few cassette tapes (Harry Chapin, the Eagles, Paul Simon) and a couple dozen compact discs (jazz, blues and folk, mostly). As the technology changed, so did my taste in music.

The little television set – that doesn’t actually “receive” television – is in the living room, too. It has a built-in DVD player, so is good for watching a movie with company, if I choose. I am also taking a couple courses on DVD: The Art of Teaching and Analysis and Critique. Finally, I have a couple exercise videos that I use, and the living room is the only room large and open enough to actually do the exercises in.

My favorite books are here. Not the ones that have the best bindings, or that I’m proudest to have read because they show me to be a thoughtful and intelligent person. No. These are the ones that I pick up to read again and again, that I can flip open to precious passages or reflect on when it is meaningful. Emily Dickinson is here, along with E.B. White and Maxine Hong Kingston…but so are David Sedaris, Christopher Moore…and Jim Fitzgerald, who got his start writing for the Lapeer County Press, my home town newspaper.

A few plants are tucked in, to soften the lines.

I’m pleased with this space.

Whew!

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I like the four seasons we experience here in Michigan.

Living on Beaver Island, with its wintertime isolation contrasting with summer’s influx of visitors, the season’s are even more distinct.

Labor Day marks the end of our busy summer season. In this economy, business drops off suddenly.

I’m right on top of it! When things slow down, I move instantly into my off-season pace.

Springtime, when things pick up, I’m a bit slower to catch the wave.

Through the winter, with time spreading out before me like a warm blanket, it’s easy to start new projects. Winter menus and New Year resolutions inspire new commitments to exercise. Time in the studio sparks several new creative pursuits. Maybe try encaustic painting…do a little clay work…get back into drawing…teach a class or two. A warm April encourages a whole new aspect in my garden. Why not? Time for writing…sure, commit to a blog. Add pages showcasing my art. And writing. And sure, why not even add book reviews.

Memorial Day marks the beginning of our summer season. Talk of the weather is replaced by speculation on summer business. Gas prices are up; the economy is not. It’s an election year; unemployment is still high. We depend so heavily here on summer’s bounty to carry us through the entire year, it’s always a concern. Will people come to Beaver Island?

They’re coming!

The days are once again punctuated by the blast of the ferry boat’s horn. The restaurants are adding their summer help. Businesses have changed to summer hours. Gift shops are open for the season. The streets are busy with cars and people. The islanders breathe a sigh of relief.

The second sigh is one of exhaustion.

I just finished working a stint of eleven days in a row. Actually, there was one day off squeezed in there, which I used to take my aunt to the mainland for medical tests. Not even considering the 8AM flight or the mainland traffic, a day spent in hospital waiting rooms and medical offices is not a relaxing day. I’m counting it as a work day. So, eleven days, many nine or more hours. Busy! My pedometer, which barely clocks ten thousand steps per day all winter no matter how many walks I add, was marking over double that, just during work hours!

I came home exhausted every night. Dragged myself out to walk the dogs. Put the most pathetic collection of meals together. Read a few meager paragraphs before falling asleep. No exercise program, no studio time, no gardening. No blog.

For my blog entry, I re-posted one of Renee Fisher’s “Life in the Boomer Lane” selections. She is an excellent writer, always thoughtful and often laugh-out-loud funny. It was a wonderful, encouraging post. It covered many issues that have been rolling around in my mind for quite some time. She spoke of those issues much more eloquently than I would have. Still, it felt like a cheat to my commitment. I’ve already quit writing the book reviews, having remembered that – though I love reading, and even enjoy reading reviews – I have always hated writing book reviews. Now I’ve sunk to re-blogging, as well.

Sorry.

When the tempo picks up this time of year, it takes me a while to catch up with it!