Tuesday, November 15, 2016

10% Happier?

At a work conference this summer, I attended a breakout session about reducing stress.  In that session, we were led through a 10 minute guided meditation.  I was reluctant - but came away with a relaxed body and an open mind.  Perhaps I would try some of the reading materials suggested by an instructor.  One book turned out to be particularly good, 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I enjoyed the book a great deal.  If a type-A, highly competitive news person could benefit by meditation, perhaps I should give it a try.

Now (almost) every morning, I start the day with a few stretches, maybe some light exercises, and then 5 minutes of breathing meditation.  I set a timer on my phone and stop when it goes off.  Some days it’s easier than others.  “Just” concentrate on your breath.  Breath in, breath out - just think of the breath.  When your mind wanders - and it always does - come back to the breathing.  Most days it feels good physically, the light movement and breathing is relaxing.  On other days, it feels good both physically and mentally - and my ability to concentrate and remain - in the moment stays with me all day.  If you need a recharge - just stop what you’re doing and breath in, then breath out.  I find that the deeper the breath, the better.  You can do it in meetings (provided you you’re not a heavy breather type.  It’s great in the car - especially good while stuck in traffic or red lights.  

Now I have a meditation “practice” -  if I dare call it that.  It’s about breathing, paying attention to the breath, staying in the moment, focusing on the here-and-now.  It’s like the concept of “Be Here Now” that I encountered in a corporate training last year.  And of course there’s a Beatles connection:  George Harrison recorded a song, Be Here Now, on his 1973 album Living in the Material World.

Friday, October 28, 2016

At Least I Have My Health

Thank God It's Friday!

Started the day off by cutting myself shaving - twice! - something I never do - even once.  

When I got to the office, I had barely settled in when a colleague stopped by to ask several questions that I had to answer - without coffee!  

Next, I walked across this sprawling complex of a building to my 9:00 meeting.  What do you know - I’m the first attendee.  I sat in the conference room alone for a few minutes but no one else showed up.  I checked the meeting notice on my phone.  Yes, it was the right room, but the host had recently added a WebEx option to the meeting so of course everyone was back at their desks logging into the meeting. Since I didn’t have a computer and didn’t want to “watch” the meeting on my phone in a conference room by myself - I trudged back to my desk and “arrived” at the meeting at 9:12.   

The good news?  As of 9:30 AM, I have 1920 steps (0.8 miles) and 7 flights.  

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Attention Spans

It would be fascinating if a Fitbit or similar device could monitor brain activity.  I suspect I cannot sustain concentration on any one thing for more than 60 seconds at a time.

30 seconds more realistic.

Friday, February 05, 2016

F no longer equals N

Disclaimer:  I watch little to no TV.  I haven’t been to a movie (at a movie theater) for several years.  I’m likely a “little” out of touch with popular culture.  With that in mind, I offer the following.

Last night Shana and I were watching a new series on Amazon Prime (Mozart in the Jungle).  We’ve watched several episodes, and all have a lot of your “normal” cussing.  The show also has – what seems to me – a rather prolific use of what we used to call the F word.  You know the one. 

I’m not sure what that bothers me so much.  Maybe I’m becoming an old fogey, unhip and unwise to the real world out there.  Maybe it’s a Midwestern prudishness.  I know I travel in different circles than the characters in the series.  I certainly don’t work in an artistic, creative environment like a symphony orchestra.  But, having said all that, it still seems like an overabundance of the F word.  Where I work, it would be considered very bad form to use the F word in a meeting.  We cuss a little, “damn” and maybe “shit” – but it’s been a long time since someone let loose with the big F-enheimer.

It bothers me how common-place the F word – especially among young people.  When I was a kid, the F word was almost equivalent to the N word.   If you used either, you quickly looked in both directions to make sure no grown-ups overheard you.

Is it possible to turn the tide – turn back the clock on the overuse of the F word?  Really, where does it go from here?  If everyone – young and old – is comfortable with the F word, does it lose its shock value?  Will need to come up with even more dramatic and vulgar expressions? 

Maybe I shouldn’t even care.  You know – WTF.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Walking and Talking

The company promotes wellness.  That’s a good thing.  They offer onsite exercise classes, access to showers, and nicely maintained walking paths on the campus.  They also post maps of walking routes indoors – for those who don’t want to go outside in Minnesota winters (or summers), or those who feel they don’t have enough time to leave the building.

One route seems to take people right by my cube.  Here’s one (of many) reason not to do your exercise walk in the building:  Walking is exercise, and depending on your level of fitness, you may become winded.  Walking is social; many people walk with friends and colleagues. 

Walking encourages talking – it really helps free up the mind and ideas flow.  Walking and talking with colleagues while winded leads to loud conversations – some of which you might not want to share with your co-workers.   Many is the day when I want to hop up from cube and follow the walking talkers who just went by – I gotta know what happens next.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Waiting for the Coffee to Brew

Quiet morning on West McDonald.  One of the first regular weekday get-aways to the cabin and I’m reminded how quiet it is up here most of the time.   Standing on the dock while waiting for the coffee to brew you can hear cows mooing – and I think they are at least a mile to the north of here.

What’s the best way to start the day to get into the right frame of mind – yoga or writing (or both)?   At home, I’ve begun doing yoga again.  It is part of my effort to de-stress.  Yoga is a great way to wake up, and energizes me for the day ahead.  It also helps start the day with deep breathing – something I then remember to do later in the day when the crap hits the fan. 

But here in the quiet of an early cabin morning, yoga seems too much.  I don’t want to disturb the slumbering guests (all Langager/Crosson women who NEED to sleep).  I have taken to writing, something I do throughout the day in fits and spurts.  Writing also calms me.  I just remembered to take a deep breath in – and let it out (something I forget to do occasionally). 

Great night’s sleep after yesterday’s adventure.  On Monday, Shana and I ventured out for our second day of hiking.   We logged about six (6) miles of hiking in Maplewood State Park.  The park is beautiful, situated where the prairie meets the deciduous forest.  One minute you are walking through prairie, and then you are climbing a big hill in the forest the next.  This park has some real elevation!  At least what passes for elevation in Minnesota, with some hills reaching almost 1600 feet.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Reporting from West McDonald

[Sunday morning updates - posted late]

Wow!  Saturday night was the first night Shana and I spent at cabin without a kid or two since the summer of 1996.  Maria drove home last night so she could have brunch with her friends this morning.  Many leave for college this week.  It’s a happy/sad time as all these wonderful young adults (I almost said, “kids”) leave home for college.  It’s a bit difficult to read the screen as I type this. 

As for the other – well, John is in Costa Rica on a scientific adventure with 15 classmates and two teachers.  Follow along here

Awoke earlier Saturday, second night that I didn’t sleep well.  That is rare at the cabin.  Maybe it was the heat, or maybe my choice of bed-time-snack – something I don’t often do at home – and especially not this particular snack.  So tonight it’s no ice cream right before bed.  Maybe a glass of milk, or nothing at all. 

[Monday morning]

I slept better last night; why?  It’s hard to tell.  Once Helen knew I was having trouble sleeping she jumped into action, attacking my sleeplessness on many fronts.  We used the electronic massage wand (ahh – wonderful!), several doses of magnesium to relax the muscles, several times I used a heating pad.  All likely helped – thanks to H!  For my part, I swam early in the day, and enjoyed a 2+ mile post-dinner walk with Shana – something we do almost every night at home, but had not done at the cabin the last few nights.

Mid-day, Shana and I were out adventuring.  We visited the Bluestem Prairie SNA and spent an hour or so wandering around the natural prairie.  It was very beautiful.  We came back the slow way, through Detroit Lakes for lunch, then took the back roads home to the cabin to avoid the “crowd” at Loony Daze in Vergas.