3-fer Thursdays

Adapting: A Three on Thursday Story

It's been almost 6 months now since I set foot in my gym. On March 12, I went in for a strength training session with my trainer, Jeremy. The gym was eerily empty. The big TVs were all tuned in to the lead-up to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament -- where the final pre-tourney games were being played with no fans in the seats. It was weird and surreal. My gym, which is affiliated with a hospital, was already quite geared up for the coming storm: floor staff were constantly walking around spraying and cleaning all the equipment, hand sanitizer stations were everywhere, the water fountains were closed, there were signs all over the gym with various warnings about hand washing. (No one wore masks then. Not yet.) The next day? CLOSED!

And you know what? Here in Michigan, the gyms are still closed! 

What's a committed "gym-rat" to do?

In the Before Times, I went to the gym nearly every day. I took cardio classes several times a week. And spinning. I did strength training classes, worked with a personal trainer, and sometimes did a kinda-sorta-yoga-ish kind of class there. I had gym-pals. I liked the instructors and my trainer. I thrived on the energy and enthusiasm and motivation of my gym!

I couldn't imagine . . . life without it.

And yet. Here I am. Six months later . . . living without it, and not missing it at all!

Really, this is one of the biggest shockers of Pandemic Times for me. Because I never worked out at home. Never. I went to the gym. Period. And it took several weeks of safer-at-home living before I adapted.

It took a few (painful and grieving) weeks, but I did adapt much quicker than I expected to. At first, my gym tried online workouts, but they were awkward and filmed-at-home and . . . not really very good (although I appreciated their attempt). When my gym started offering outside classes and set up (essentially) an entire gym outside this summer, I didn't even consider going back.

I'm still working out all the time. I've just shifted my thinking -- and my basement floorplan (!) -- to accomodate working out at home. What have I done?

IMG_0650

1 -- We invested in home fitness equipment. Yep. We're now Peloton People. (Tom uses it, too.) I love the Peloton. It provides a great cardio workout -- right in my own little home-gym in the basement. Yep. It's pricey. But, for me, it's worth it because I use it all the time, and it enables me to work out as hard as I did in the gym. (Plus . . . I'm not paying high gym fees anymore.) We also purchased a home-TRX system, a "body tower" (for pull-ups and dips), more dumbbells, and some REALLY heavy kettlebells (for Tom). We're looking into adding a rowing machine. (Because winter will be long . . . )

2 -- I've started doing online workouts. I've already explained about my now-daily yoga sessions with Adriene, but I'm also using the Peloton app for strength training. (There are hundreds upon hundreds of non-bike class choices on Peloton. You don't need a bike to purchase the monthly classes/app.) I'm surprised by how much I like working out this way, although I do miss the energy of the gym.

3 -- I walk. I mean, I used to walk the dogs in a more casual, focus-on-the-dogs way. But now? I WALK. I walk and I walk and I walk. JoJo and I have logged hundreds of miles since the Pandemic Times began. JoJo has never been in better shape!

So. I've adapted. I actually like being able to work out on my own schedule. That's a very nice benefit to working out on your own. Of course, that also means I need to be completely self-motivated. Would I prefer the gym? Absolutely -- if it weren't Pandemic Times. Might I return someday? Maybe. We'll see how things go.

For now, I'm happy. Sweating on my own in my basement!

==

How about YOU? Are you finding it harder or easier to work out these days? Have you made adjustments to your fitness routine? What's working (or not) for you? Share your tips and tricks (or woes and frustrations) -- and I'll share them here in future posts!

Also -- stay tuned as I check back in with some of the people I've highlighed in fitness posts in the past. I'm interested in seeing what kind of changes they've made in their workout regimens 6 months into the Pandemic Times.

==

Be sure to check out more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's today!

 


Shake Things Up Once In A While

We have a little patio right off the kitchen at our house. In the summertime, it's a true extension of our house; our outoor living room.

IMG_0680

(Here's Jenny, giving you a warm welcome earlier this summer.) It's comfortable and easy and there are patio lights hanging for evenings. Tom's grill is out there; my herb garden borders one side of the patio, and there is a garden path on the other side leading to a large garden bed.  Because it's on the east side of our house, it's shady in the afternoon and evening, and - somehow - always comfortable, even on the hottest days. Tom and I meet there every evening for a drink on the patio.

But the other night? We shook things up!

You see . . . we have another patio in our garden. It's in a more remote corner, and far from the kitchen (although easily accessible through a slider in our basement). We call it "Tom's garden" -- because Tom built the brick patio and put in a small retaining wall to make the space happen in the first place.

IMG_5361

It's kind of a ... secret garden.
Secluded and private -- and cool and shady, there under the "umbrella" of a golden redbud tree.

IMG_4013

Earlier this week, we decided do something different . . . to meet in "Tom's garden" for drinks instead of on the patio. It was so nice back there. Such a treat to shake things up -- just a little bit.

IMG_4843

(Yeah. Tom built a fire pit. But we don't really use it.) (Long story.)

Sitting there, relaxing, we realized we were seeing our yard from a whole different perspective. It got me thinking about . . . what we do out of habit and routine. And how a shift of location - even just a slight shift - can help you see things in whole new ways.

IMG_0365

Like . . . I had no idea you could see our tri-color beech tree from that back patio! Such a lovely surprise in the very early evening light.

Anyway. This is a long and rather drawn out way to say that -- especially these days - it's important to shake things up however we can. Use my patio story as a reminder to . . . 

  • break out of your daily patterns and habits
  • try something just slightly different: move to a different room -- or chair or corner
  • see things from a new angle

IMG_9664

Give it a try! Shake things up!

==

(Can this really loose ramble of a post qualify as a Three on Thursday post? Maybe?) Be sure to check out Carole's blog today for more Three on Thursday fun.

 

 

 


Walking In My Neighborhood: A Few Oddities

It's been another week of walking here.  JoJo and I have logged another 25 miles or so.  Same streets (although our routes do vary by mood and distance).  I'm trying to approach my routes with "fresh eyes" every day, which is actually pretty easy right now -- with spring finally unfolding here.  We've got trees blooming and leaves popping and landscape projects going on all over the place.

Last Thursday, I shared three little libraries I see on my neighborhood walks with JoJo.  This week, I decided to share three other things I see on my walks:  Neighborhood Oddities!  You know . . . things you don't really expect to see in a typical, suburban kind of neighborhood.  

Like . . . well.  We have a barn!

IMG_8781

Yep.  We have a big old barn just down the block from my house.  We walk or drive past it every time we leave or return back home.  It's pretty unusual, actually, sitting there among all the neighborhood houses.  But it's also kind of cool.  Apparently, my neighborhood used to be a farm -- I think an orchard of some type.  When the farmer sold the land to developers, he got to keep his barn.  (And now we all have a cool background for family photos and senior pictures, etc.)

==

We also have tennis courts!  But not public tennis courts. . . 

IMG_8292 2

(It is so much harder than I thought it would be to take decent photos of tennis courts. . . )

There are two houses quite nearby that have their own, private tennis courts.  Full size.  Fenced.  Well maintained.  But . . . in the nearly 17 years that we've lived here, I've never seen anyone actually playing on either of these courts.

IMG_2102

(This is the other court, just down the block from the first one.)  (Sadly, with an equally bad photograph.)

Maybe there were tennis-playing kids in these houses at one point?  I don't know.  All I know is that we have two tennis courts that are completely unused just down the street.   (I did notice yesterday that one of the courts has its net up now.  I'll be on the watch for any volleys.)

==

And . . . we have a mega church!

IMG_4329

My kids always called this architectural oddity "Fort God."  It used to be a big Episcopal church -- I believe it was a "headquarters" or something.  But the church needed to sell the property and building, and a mega church bought it -- and then built that huge industrial-looking portion of the building to the right of the original "Fort God."  They also paved that giant parking lot.  It's not so bad to have a mega church as a neighbor (especially because they agreed to divert all traffic AWAY from our neighborhood streets -- and they hire local police to manage their traffic every Sunday), but . . . the grounds used to be very beautiful and park-like when the Episcopal church owned the property.  It was like having a neighborhood park, actually, as the Episcopal church shared their grounds (which included a wonderful labyrinth I used to walk).  That all changed with the mega church, though.  It's now a big parking lot -- and it's gated. (As in KEEP OUT.)

==

How about you?  Any oddities in YOUR neighborhood?

==

Hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday post.

 


Walking In My Neighborhood: The Little Libraries

JoJo and I go walking in my neighborhood every day.*  We don't have a destination in mind.  We just head out along the quiet streets and see where our mood takes us.  The fresh air is a treat, and it feels so good to get out of the house and move around.

So far, since I started keeping track on March 13, JoJo and I have clocked 125 miles together!

IMG_8794

And, yeah.  It gets a little boring . . . walking the same streets, day after day (after day after day).  I usually listen to a book or a podcast while we walk, which helps make the miles go faster.  And it's fun to watch spring unfolding in the neighborhood.  Walking these familiar streets also gives me a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness and pay more attention to the things I see all the time.

For example, I discovered earlier this week that we have THREE Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood.  I've known about two of them for a long time now (because I pass them often on my more "regular" routes), but on Monday we took a path I don't usually follow . . . and discovered another!

I always wanted to have a Little Library of my own.  My house is on a corner, and we get a fair amount of pedestrian traffic - especially when school is in session.  A few years ago, I even looked into getting one set up -- downloaded some plans to have my dad help me build one and everything.  But before I could get started . . . a neighbor just down the block put up this one:

IMG_8655

It's a cute one -- and the bench is a great addition (although I've never noticed anyone sitting on it).  The location is kind of out of the way, and doesn't get as much traffic as my corner, but oh well.  They beat me to the punch!

A few blocks away, there's this very creative and well-used Little Library:

IMG_8654

This Little Library is in a PERFECT location (much better than mine would have been).  It's on a corner on the main road into our neighborhood, and is right on the way to the neighborhood elementary school.  I (used to) see kids stopping on their way to and from school all the time to switch out books.  This one changes over quickly -- and has puzzles and games in addition to books.  Since the stay-at-home order, there is also a neighborhood food swap going on here.  (At Christmas time, this Little Library was all decked out with lights and greens.  It was so cute!)

So those were the 2 Little Libraries I already knew about.  The other day, I changed my route and walked around the neighborhood elementary school and found another one -- right there on the school yard:

IMG_8653

How fun is that?!!  Little Libraries everywhere!

How about you?  Do you have any Little Libraries nearby?  And have you ever thought about creating one of your own?

==

Be sure to stop in at Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts!

==

* Jenny is not completely left out of the dog-walking fun!  Now 13, Jenny can't really manage much of a walk anymore.  She's deaf and (we're pretty sure) blind in at least one eye and she moves pretty slowly these days -- but she still wants to come walking with us.  Tom takes her on a leisurely walk around the block every day (we start out all together, and then JoJo and I veer off on our own) and Jenny LOVES it.  At first, she could barely make it a few houses down the road before Tom had to take her back home, but now she's making it all around the block and getting stronger all the time.  (See?  Exercise IS really good -- even for old folks!)

 


Traffic is Light

I'm trying not to whine these days. I'm trying really, really hard to look for joy. To maintain my optimism. To be cheer-filled and hopeful.

But. Ugh. It's so hard some days.

(Especially when you get an attack of diverticulitis in the middle of a global pandemic and have to take a 10-day course of TWO antibiotics and can't have even a sip of alcohol for the duration.) (Like . . . not a drop.)

So today?  I'm just gonna whine.  

IMG_8336 3

Here are three things I miss the most while self-isolating:

1 - My car.  This one surprises me.  But last weekend, I got into my car for the first time in almost two weeks to deliver some groceries to my Dad (I can't visit, but I can leave a grocery delivery).  I got in my car, checked to make sure I had my disinfecting wipes handy, buckled myself in, pressed the START button -- and cried.  I guess it's not my car that I miss so much, but the freedom it represents.  And how casually I used to just . . . hop in.  And take off for . . . anywhere.  I really, really miss that!

2 - The gym.  This one does not surprise me.  I'm working out every day here at home.  We have a little gym set up in our basement, and I go on long walks with JoJo every day, and thank-you-Adrienne for your yoga videos . . . but it's just not the same.  I miss the equipment and the energy and the discipline that comes with my gym. My phone still reminds me of my gym classes - "traffic is light" (no kidding) - which makes it worse.  I suppose I should just remove all those reminders. But I'm not quite ready to let go. (Sigh.)

3 - My art classes.  This one doesn't surprise me, either.  I don't NEED to have a class to be able to "art" -- and I have space all set up here at home to draw and paint and dabble to my heart's content.  But I miss the camaraderie of my classmate and friends.  And the structure of going to class and doing the "homework."  And I really miss the inspiration of my teacher's tutorials and assignments -- and the work everyone else is doing.  And you know what else?  I haven't painted a thing since my last art class.

(I'd include my local library, too . . . except I haven't missed it yet.  I'm still working through the stack of books I picked up the day before it closed. This might be the only time I've been happy about having all my "holds" become available at the same time.)

How about YOU?  What are you missing most right about now?

==

Note: I almost didn't share this post today.  I thought long and hard about just trashing it . . . because I know the things on my list - and probably the things on many of your lists, too - are minor inconveniences in the life of a highly privileged person lucky enough to be self-isolating at home during the pandemic. I know there are people all over the world missing so very much more than trite things like their car, their gym, and their art classes right now.

But in the end, I decided to hit "publish" anyway.  I see this blog as another way for me to journal -- to capture and remember what the days are like for me.  And today?  This is where I am. 

In upcoming days, I'm planning to talk a lot more about comparative suffering (something I really learned about while going through cancer treatment), and also suggest a few ways we might be able to help others who are suffering through this pandemic without resources.

So.
Let's just take a breath, support each other (wherever we are) . . .  and collectively whine together!  


Out of the Fog

I don't know about you, but I have been living in (what I've taken to calling) my "pandemic trance."  

Just kind of . . . almost floating . . . through my days.  
Feeling disconnected.  
Going through the motions.  
Not much focus.  
(Concentration?  What concentration?)  
Nothing that I thought would interest me right now interests me right now.

(I'm sure this is grief.)  
(I'll write about that another day.)  

Time seems to have folded, somehow.  I always used to feel that the saying "the days are long but the years are short" resonated perfectly with my perception of time.  Now, that seems completely upside down!  My days fly by, but the weeks just creep along!

Yesterday, Tom reminded me that we've only been at this social distancing/self-isolation thing . . . for two weeks!  It feels like so much longer than two weeks.  And yet, my days - filled with nothing much, really - are zooming past.  Flying by, really.  So. Weird.  So very weird.

Anyway.

I'm ready to come out of my "pandemic trance." 

I'm sick of living this way.  (I'm talking about what's going on in my head; not the social distancing thing.  I'm In It To Win It when it comes to the social distancing.)  I need to take charge of my life again.  I need to fight my way out of the fog.

IMG_8238

So yesterday I started looking at "tools" that might help me plan my days and structure my time in more productive ways.

First, I reminded myself of Elise Joy's 3-simple-things method.  It's not complicated - basically coming up with 3 simple things you want to do each day.  (And I mean SIMPLE things - unload the dishwasher, put away the laundry, make dinner.  That kind of simple.)  I used to do my own version of this when Erin was a newborn.  And again when I was in chemo.  It works -- because it helps you create a "normal" structure in days that no longer seem "normal" or structured.  It helps you get the little things done . . . which may lead to getting the bigger things done.

Next, I looked for some bigger-and-bolder tools for de-fogging my brain and (maybe) becoming a productive human again.  

I found this:  The Sequester Checklist from Black Cardigan Edit.  It's a daily planner page specifically designed to help users find forward movement in these challenging times.  It's definitely more . . . laid out and prescriptive than what I'd usually go in for, but I think it might really be a helpful tool for me right now.

And I also found this:  A "daily page" format from artist Nicole J. Georges.  (If you follow the link, it will take you to the artist's Patreon page.  You'll need to scroll down to the heading "Recent Posts by Nicole J. Georges" and click on the drawing, then click on the side arrow for page 2.  Kinda complicated, but worth it.)  If you don't want to follow the link, her illustrated "daily page" has the following sections:

  • 5 things I'm grateful for
  • What is out of my control today
  • What is in my control today
  • What will I do for my body today
  • How will I connect with other humans
  • Can I help someone or be of service today? How?
  • What 3 songs will you listen to today?
  • Draw a quiet time.
  • Free square (basically, anything else you'd like to say)

I like the planning/journaling combo in Nicole's "daily page."  It's a little more ... free-flowing, and I think it could work for me.

So.

There are 3 things (see what I did there?) that I think might help me . . . find a way out of my fog.  Maybe . . . they'll help you, too?

==

Be sure to hop over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today.  AND . . . make sure to visit Bonny, too -- because she is collecting happiness!

==

IMG_8120

And from the Look for JOY desk today . . . 

Be sure to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium!  The actual aquarium is closed, of course, but you can treat yourself to their Live Cams.  Jellyfish!  Rolling ocean waves!  OTTERS!  

 


Move It!

Back in "olden times" (you know . . . last Thursday), I was a gym-rat.  Really.  Like . . . pretty much every day to the gym.  I did kickboxing classes and spin classes and yoga and strength training.  I worked every week with my trainer, Jeremy.  I worked hard.  I sweat a lot.  

And, hoo-boy, do I miss it!

But, like all of us, I'm adjusting to a different life these days.  I have a little home-gym with plenty of equipment.  I have some online workouts I can do, and Jeremy is putting together some workouts for me based on the equipment that I DO have.  It'll be okay.  It's not the same, of course.  And I don't really feel like (or even like) working out at home.  

IMG_8145

But it's important.  Because we need to keep moving!  Especially now.

Here are three things to keep in mind . . . about Staying Fit in the Time of Coronavirus:

1 - Move every day.  Even just a little bit.  It helps you get in better physical shape, of course, but it also helps improve your state of mind, sharpens your focus, AND . . . it helps you STAY healthy.  Yep.  Exercise helps your immune system work better!  (Because who couldn't use an immune system boost right about now, right???)

2 - Get outside.  When I was a little girl, and my sister and I got to be too much for our mom inside, she would send us out - telling us, "Go outside and knock the stink off you!"  She didn't really think we were smelly, of course.  She just knew a change in scenery would be good for ALL of us.  It's (for the most part) decent weather out there now -- so get outside!  Get some fresh air!  Knock the stink off you!

3 - Try something new.  A lot of us are stuck at home now; can't get to a gym even if we wanted to.  A lot of fitness-based places are turning to the internet to offer new and free ways of exercising.  My own gym is rolling out online workouts for members, for example.  Maybe yours is, too?  And Peloton is offering a 90-day FREE offer for it's workout app!  No worries if you don't have a Peloton bike or treadmill (I don't have either) -- Peloton includes excellent strength training, meditation, and yoga classes, too!  (I signed up this morning.)  And Yoga Girl (Rachel Brathen) is offering a 30-day FREE yoga challenge/community connection program to help get folks through these challenging days.  This is a great time to try something different and shake up (or even start) your fitness program.

IMG_8166

Get moving!
(Because you can only binge-watch Netflix shows for so long.)

==

IMG_8120

And . . . from today's Find the Joy department . . . here are links to some museums currently offering virtual tours:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The Guggenheim in NYCity

MoMa in NYCity

The National Gallery in London

(These are just a few of the amazing links available through Google Arts & Culture.  Check it out!)

 

 

 


Some Surprises

This morning I woke up to a surprising bit of snow.  (Mostly surprising because the weather forecast was for a dire amount of snow, but it turned out to be only a tiny bit.)  (We've had a dearth of snow this year.  I think the weather forecasters are bored. And maybe a little hopeful.)

IMG_7814

So I thought I would stay with that theme of surprise, and share other surprises (three of 'em, in fact) with you today.  Here are three things I'm going to do (or that I'm already doing) this year that might surprise you:

  1. I've started working with a personal trainer at the gym once a week.  (This is surprising because I've always said I'd never pay for a trainer on top of what I already pay in gym fees.  Surprise!  I love it!)  (Stay tuned.  I'll tell you more in a future post.)
  2. I'm going to Scotland this summer with a friend -- on a bike tour.  A bike tour where we'll be riding 50-60 miles each day through the Scottish countryside.  For a whole week. (This is surprising because, well, ohmygod what am I thinking.)
  3. We're finally (finally) going to buy a new mattress.  (This is maybe not so surprising, really.  Because it's been on my to-do list for at least 10 years.  So I guess what's surprising about this one is that we still haven't done it in the first place.)

What's something surprising YOU'RE doing this year?

==

Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts.


A Look Back . . . At the Things I Knit in 2019

My one little word for 2019 was intention . . . and I decided early on in the process to bring intention to my knitting.  (You can read more about that here, if you're interested in the nitty-gritty.) Basically, I decided to: 

  • Only knit what I would actually wear or use.  
  • Stick with using yarn I already had.  
  • In colors I love.  
  • And styles that suit me.  
  • No KALs.  No mysteries. 

I wanted to avoid jumping on any knitting-bandwagons that weren't right for me . . . or committing to doing something in a given time limit . . . or chasing a shiny object that wouldn't work for me or my closet.  

I still wanted to have some fun with my knitting, though, should something unexpected and perfect show up.  I didn't want to set myself up to feel like I'd failed if some new yarn made its way into my stash.  I wanted to be intentional about my knitting -- but I also wanted to be flexible enough to be inspired!

Now, as I look back on my knitting in 2019, I declare it a success!  When I look back over my Ravelry projects for 2019, I see . . . no clunkers!  I see 6 sweaters that I love and wear (none of them ended up in the Goodwill pile, which is a big win for me).  I see a stack of dishcloths we use all the time.  I see gifts for babies and kids and curlers and dads.  And I see only 2 shawls (because, really, I have plenty of shawls and was trying to Look Away From the Shawls in 2019) -- but I use them both.  Not a dud in the bunch!  I call that a great knitting year!

(And, yeah.  I know.  There is no gray cardigan in there.  But I don't see that as a failure.  I see it as a casualty of my being "flexible enough to be inspired.")

What were my favorite knits of 2019?

My hands-down, #1 favorite project of the year was my Night Shift shawl.

IMG_6884

I used gorgeous yarn from Briar Rose -- and I had so much fun shifting those beautiful colors.  (I didn't use color-changing yarn, so all those shifts you see?  They're my doing!  My favorite projects are always the ones where I get to play with color.)  If you've been thinking about trying one of Andrea Mowry's "shifty" projects, I highly recommend you do it.  Fun.  (Like . . . really fun!)  Great instructions.  And a pretty fabulous result.

Next up, my Felix Pullover.

IMG_6213

There is a good reason so many people have knit this great sweater (or the companion Felix Cardigan).  It's quick to knit (once you get the eyelet increases straight), fits great, and works with everything in your closet.  I knit mine from (stashed) Brooklyn Tweed Shelter -- which makes it light AND warm.

And then, my Alanis sweater.

IMG_2093

This layering piece is so perfectly "my style" that I wear it constantly.  It's a quick knit from a well-written pattern by Elizabeth Smith.  I knit mine in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (again, from stash).  And . . . it has a sweet little pocket, too.

==

What to look for from me (knitting-wise) in 2020?

Well.  First up, you'll finally see that gray cardigan.  But other than that?  Who knows!  My knitting plan for 2020 . . . is to have no knitting plan. There are a few things I'm thinking about knitting this year (each of those highlighted words is a separate link, by the way), but I don't do well when I box myself into any kind of "queue" or "make nine" kind of structure.  For me, knitting is about inspiration coupled with the whims of my moods.  I'll keep my "intention" goals (top of this post) at the forefront of my project decisions (because that worked well for me), but beyond that, I commit to nothing.   

I just know . . . there will be knitting in 2020.  And that's enough for me right now.

How about YOU?  Do you like to organize your knitting plans in a structured way . . . or do your prefer to just let inspiration guide you?  What would you love to knit in 2020?