Monday, March 30, 2015

Sometimes No News Is Not Good News

But not necessarily bad, either. I've just been really busy, at work in particular (I usually write my posts on my lunch break) but also at home.

Unfortunately, I do also have bad news, for me at least, as far as my training goes. I've done something serious to my shoulder, I don't know what yet, and that, coupled with the last two weeks of interrupted running, means I don't have a chance of seriously training for the race I had just signed up for (right before things got so busy).

Not happy. (Plus in pain.) I will endeavor to forget I signed up for it at all until next month and then see where I'm at - emotionally, not physically. These days I don't have much interest in running races just for the sake of running them, but I also hate to have spent money on something I won't do.

This was the only race I was serious about for this year, too, so double bummer. And my training had been going well...


Friday, March 13, 2015

On Not Meeting My Birthday Challenge (And Being Okay With That)

So, my birthday challenge to myself this year was to spend 90 minutes on each of the following activities: running, painting, writing, and quilting.

And survey says... Nope. Nada. Not one.

And that was fine.

I have no real goals around my writing other than to post on my blog more consistently (I'm shooting for five times a month). And to be willing to take more risks in what I share - that is, to write more about passions other than running.

And quilting can be done when the kids are around; in fact, Buddy is very interested in the process and wants to be more a part of it.

(I did train for 90 minutes, but a combination of running and boxing. Originally I'd planned this day for the week before and doing a long run fit into my training schedule. It didn't then work out to do another long run so soon after that one.)

But this year, more so than any other, I have precious little time for myself. Not so much in the daily routine - that has changed some, as I've written about before, but I've gotten used to those changes. No, what I'm missing now are days off to myself.

I've been at my place of work now a long time, and one of the many benefits of that is lovely amounts of paid time off. I am truly grateful for this.

In the past I've used some of the time off to take a day for myself now and again. As recovery from a particularly busy time at work, for example, or if the kids have been sick for a while, or if there's been rough weather. Or just to catch up around the house some.

But in the past half year a couple of things have changed. One is that my eldest has started public school, with all the holidays and teacher development days and snow days that go along with it that we didn't have to worry about before. But my youngest is still in daycare, with all those attendant sick days (daycare policies often require keeping a child home for 24 hours after a symptom has receded, so something that would only keep Buddy home one day - if at all - may keep Goo out for two). That's a lot of days when someone has to be home with them.

The second issue is that The Dude's work situation has changed, so that he is no longer comfortable taking time off, despite having the same kind of days available to him as I do. So all those days off from school? On me.

All that is to say that when I got my day off... my precious, lovely day off... after I had done my run and attended to some business, I did not want to "challenge" myself any more than I needed to in order to feel that I had used my time well.

(I've also actively been working on personal development stuff since going through a 30-day program last November: setting a program of study, checking in each week with another person around goals, establishing one new habit a month. So I feel pretty on top of "challenging" myself right now.)

So how did that change things for me?

I slowed down and allowed myself to have more time to just relax (ie., read!). And also to do some household activities that would allow me to have more breathing space in the week. I cut the writing time back in half - I know I'll keep moving on these essays I have started. I dropped the quilting piece altogether - I hadn't gotten all my prep work done anyway, and the work I have next can just as easily be done with the kids around.

And I cut down the painting time too. Maybe with time I'll again have the marathon painting sessions I used to when I was single and alone. But for right now it's enough to just keep moving forward and aiming for consistency - painting or drawing something every day and now once a week spending a little more time working on the established paintings. One of my birthday presents was a dedicated work table - hooray! - so now I can leave things set up, paintings and paint alike, which should make it easier to keep moving on them. (At least until my house guests come later this week.)

Once I allowed myself to let go and not "challenge" myself, it was a lovely day.

I may even do another one, next quarter.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

National Museum of Mexican Art

On Sunday, to celebrate my birthday with the kids, we went someplace new to us, the National Museum of Mexican Art. I can barely tell you anything about it because we walked through so fast (Goo was not happy being there and was very loud and agitated about it), but Buddy and I are new fans.

So much so, that I had to promise to take him back soon - without Goo, that was his stipulation. Also, he wants us to bring our sketchbooks and pencils with so that we can "draw our favorite things".

(Plus, they have an awesome gift shop that I would have liked to spend more time in as well. The Dude did buy me a very cool mug that I can now use for my Mexican hot chocolate.)

The gift shop, not the museum.

And then we came home and ate chocolate zucchini cake*. A yummy day, all around.

A year older,

*I had been looking for a Mexican chocolate cake recipe to make that weekend - we had friends over the night before who were bringing chili - but couldn't find a recipe I liked. Until one showed up in my inbox yesterday, not in time for my birthday. Now I'll just need to find an excuse to bake yet another chocolate cake. What a shame.

Friday, February 27, 2015

And The Lake Looked Amazing

I had a long run scheduled for today, the first one I'd really consider long, and the first run to work, in what's been at least a couple of months. I had it on my calendar for a couple of weeks and watched the weather closely and everything seemed like a go...

And then three days ago the forecast changed and now today was supposed to be the coldest day of the week, not the warmest. Starting at 5 degrees this a.m. and then warming up to 15, tops. Fahrenheit (for my overseas readers).

Grumble, grumble.

And both boys woke up in the night, one with a bad dream (easily taken care of), the other hysterical the way he wakes up sometimes and it took forever to realize that his mouth was just hurting* and he needed a little medicine and a lot of loving. And then he too went right back to sleep. But it took me quite a while to get back to sleep myself after these.

So the alarm went off way too early this morning.

And I got up, changed my morning plans around a bit to make sure everything I did would support heading out for a long run (ate a good breakfast but earlier than usual, skipped my strength training and boxing, made time to double-check my supplies**), and then once the kids were taken care of and the youngest dropped off at preschool, I headed down to the lakefront for eight beautiful sunny cold miles.

Oh how I've missed these.

Rethinking my racing plans,

*Because, OMG, he totally pulled a "Christmas Story" stunt last night and licked the damn railing on the train platform, as the train we'd been waiting ages for pulled in, and with no way of gently thawing his tongue. So... r-i-i-ip went the skin and then I had a hysterical mouth-welling-up-with-blood child for the ride home. Fun times. (For the record, the bleeding stopped by the time we got in the door and he ate normally at dinner, so I think no lasting damage done.)

**I forgot to bring a coat and outer gear with me ahead of time, so on the way home I'll be wearing the same hoodie and hat/scarf I wore for my run. It won't really be warm enough (and somewhat smelly) but oh well. I knew I would forget something in the preparation for this, it's just been so long.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Home Sweet Home

These are a few of my favorite things (about our new place)...

Coming home at night with Goo and seeing the porch lights on. The Dude and Buddy are home!

Looking out at the sky while I shower.

Our houseplants love our front room, and in the morning when the sun comes through the windows you can see their leaves stretching out, a bright clear green.

The pressed-tin ceiling in the upstairs bathroom.

That we have an attic! It's cold up there (or hot, depending on the season), and dark, but we have our stuff loosely organized up there and someday we'll turn it into additional rooms.

We have a resident opossum. (It's taken me a while to consistently remember how to spell "opossum". One "p", two "s"s.) S/he likes to hang out on our back porch. It is a startling thing to come across her/him but I imagine it is startling for her/him as well. I have no idea how to determine the sex of an opossum and even if I did I don't want to get close enough to find out.

(I don't like that there are three neighborhood cats who also like to hang out on our porches. Ours is not the only house they visit - and poop at. They do have a home of their own but appear to be left outside all the time.)

Our kitchen is a gem and I can stand in the middle of it and reach everything. Very handy when making dinner. (Not so handy when The Dude and I are trying to both make lunch and put groceries away at the same time. But I still love it.)

Our pantry! Admittedly, it's in the basement (the original pantry upstairs was turned into a half-bathroom), but I love having one.

My study. Mine. Did I mention that I have my own study? I share it with guests when they stay the night but when no one is visiting... all mine. And the kids love coming in and hanging out on the futon in there too. It's red. The room, that is. The futon has a green cover and a reddish brown frame.

Someday I'll have a smartphone and can take pictures easily to share with you.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday Challenge 2015

I'll be turning 43 soon, so about a month ago I started thinking about my birthday challenge for the year. Last year's was pretty cool, but I decided I didn't want to take on any physical challenges for myself this year, in keeping with my resolution to spend more time on my other interests. So what to do? Up until last weekend all I knew was that I would take a day off for myself - how was I going to use it?

The answer? A multi-stage challenge:
  • 90 minutes running
  • 90 minutes painting
  • 90 minutes on writing projects
  • 90 minutes on my latest quilt
The running is just because I like to start my days off that way, and that's what I'm up to in terms of distance. The painting is next because it will be the most challenging, as I've written before. I have a couple of specific writing projects that I want to finish, and 90 minutes should allow me to do so (if I get my preparatory work done), and 90 minutes working on a quilt is easy - though again, to make best use of that uninterrupted kid-free time, I have some significant prep work to do first.

Speaking of preparatory work, here's what I need to get done in the next few days:

  1. Inventory all my paints (oil, acrylic, and watercolor) and determine what I'm missing; 
  2. Reorganize my paint bins in the process of doing inventory
  3. Review my basic oil technique book and determine what other supplies I might need
  4. Visit an art supply store for most-needed supplies
  1. Type up the first draft of one essay
  2. Start writing notes for the second
  3. Read a book related to the material for the second essay
  1. Cut squares for the front (nearly done)
  2. Cut squares for the back
  3. Piece strips to make multi-hued squares
Good thing it's a snow day today - I might be able to get some of this work done!

Productively yours,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Art & Fear (& Boxing)

It occurred to me during boxing drills the other day that it is really good practice for painting.

Boxing, like art, demands that I be present, fully engaged in what I am doing.

And I don't always know if I have what I need to do it.

With boxing I know that I don't, and won't for a long time. That's why I stay in my basement and don't seek out matches.

With painting, to a great extent I also know that I don't have what I need. My picking it up and putting it down, over and over again over the years, has left my hand rusty, my technique minimal. That is why I stay in my study, and don't seek out showings.

But with both I can trust that if I stay with it, and keep stretching myself, over time I will know what I'm doing.

That won't take away the fear. I will still have to show up, and be fully present, and ready to expose myself, and willing to take risks. And still struggle with my materials (the paint, my body) and with technique, and still keenly feel the gap between what I have in my head and what I can put forth.

But in practicing both, in honing my hand and becoming familiar with my materials, I will also be practicing standing up with fear. And so I will become familiar with that too, and able to work with it.

Sounds worth it.

Practicing being brave.