Monday, July 15, 2019

Week 28: Meow Wolf and More!

When I had the idea of putting together a list of 60 things to do in the 60 weeks leading up to my 60th birthday, I'd never even heard of "Meow Wolf." At Christmas, I asked my kids for inspiration of places we might go together, and my daughter-in-law, Stella, suggested "Meow Wolf" in Santa Fe, so I added it as #33 to my list:

Go to the Meowolf exhibit in Santa Fe with Stella and Matt

 I was so ignorant then. First of all, I was wrong about the name. I'd imagined "Meowolf was some kind of anime character and it would a cosplay or Pokemon-kind of thing.  I found out it's two words: Meow and Wolf, apparently two words that were chosen out of a hat after a group of artists got together and submitted a bunch of random words.

I also discovered that it was not exactly an "exhibit," but a very unique new form of interactive entertainment..  kind of a mix of artsy, creative rooms, fun house, with a bit of escape-room-like back story.  I LOVED IT!!!

The Santa Fe version of Meow Wolf was called, "The House of Eternal Return." It's been so successful, that there's a Meow Wolf opening in Las Vegas this year and one scheduled to open in Denver in 2020! I don't know how similar they'll be to the version in Santa Fe, but I'm excited that there will be a Meow Wolf right in my back yard!  Maybe I can even go visit the site when it's getting built and meet some of the artists!

I'm posting some pictures here so you get a little bit of an idea, but I'm afraid my photos don't come close to describing how cool and creative everything was. I just love exploring big houses and it was so fun that there were all kinds of hidden rooms. We kept thinking we'd seen everything and then we'd discover a new room or hidden nook.

I loved the 'portals' that would allow you to move into a different dimension...  Here's Matt coming out of the refrigerator with the bright light adding a very sci-fi effect and there's a picture below of him going through the washing machine.

Matt heading through the washing machine portal
Learning about the back story of the family who lived in this house.

There were three huge beautiful tree houses with romantic, intricate staircases.

I loved the "theme" rooms! This was a pink candy room!

Matt and Stella stepping into a cartoon room!

This barely begins to scratch the surface of all the rooms and fun things there were to explore there. I feel so lucky that Stella told us about this and can't believe I'd never heard about such a fun place! So amazing to have had such an amazing thing on my list that I hadn't even known existed!

But beyond Meow Wolf, this 4-day trip with my son and daughter-in-law was full of fun surprises. Stella has this amazing knack for being able to find the most perfect places to eat.. to pick out the most perfect gifts.. to find the most unique and beautiful AirBnBs to cater to my exact tastes! She's very observant about what people love and then, somehow, is able to find these very unique treasures.  And I'll give my son, Matt, some credit, too, especially when it comes to the hikes and outdoor adventures.  Our trip to Santa Fe went through Silverton, where we stopped to see fireworks, and included many scenic stops and beautiful hikes.

This blog post is already long and I could go on and on about how fun our four-day trip was, but I'll just post a sampling of my many photos. What a special trip!

A Moose Sighting!

Rio en Medio Trail
Outside of Silverton

One of the many fun cafes with outdoor patio and music!

The first night we stayed in an RV and enjoyed the beautiful stars!

In Santa Fe, we stayed in this AMAZING AirBnb with a Hobbit House!

Hallway in Hobbit House with Mosaic Tree leading to a Magical Bedroom
Flamingo Sighting!

Haiku Park with Haikus written on the rocks
What worked well:

  • I loved that this trip was so full of surprises for me. Even the destination (Meow Wolf) was not something I'd even heard of before creating my list. A bucket list is fun, but this is another category of "bucket list"..  It's like a fun "discovery"!
  • It was fun to have a trip with just Matt and Stella! This is the first time it was just the 3 of us and we really had some deep discussions! How great to have a deeper connection with my son and daughter-in-law.
  • Meow Wolf was absolutely amazing. It exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds!
  • I loved the Hobbit House AirBnB as much as Meow Wolf! What a super-cute and magical place to stay!
  • Matt and Stella were so thoughtful and I felt so genuinely surprised and excited by all the places they took me. What a wonderful gift this was for me on my 60 until 60 journey!
What could have been better:

I can't think of anything that I wish had been different about this trip. It was perfect!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Week 27: Contribute to a Cause

This week my blog post is in honor of my friend, Bill Strauss.  He's the guy in the middle of this group of men wearing high-heeled shoes.  Last week, Bill participated in a YWCA fund-raiser to fight domestic violence, "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."  Look at those beautifully adorned feet! I don't think I could walk two feet in those shoes or even stand two feet in those shoes! (Love the extra accessorizing, too, Bill!)

Bill helped me achieve Goal #15 in my list of 60:

Contribute to any cause that a friend asks me to support

This is one of those goals that is ongoing, but I wanted to blog about it this week because I'm especially happy to be able to support Bill since he has been such a huge support of mine for many, many years.

Bill and I were Electrical Engineering majors together at U.C. Davis (class of '82!) And though EEs are known to be geeks, I think Bill and I are not your typical geeks. I'd like to think we are playful geeks! Bill has always been one of those friends who would play along with whatever crazy virtual party or event I had going on. He was one of my "Virtual Running Buddies" in 2005 when I ran in the Disney Marathon,  he submitted a sweet story about he and his wife in 2010 for my 50th  Birthday "Love Party", and  earlier this year, won the prize for "Best Predictor" at my Virtual Academy Awards Party

But beyond his awesome creativity and playful spirit in every thing he attempts, Bill is also one of those friends with such a generous heart when it comes to charity. He has contributed to every cause that I've raised money for over the years, and since we have known each other for so many years, that has really added up! I am so happy to be able to reciprocate now and support a cause of his. 

I'm going to mark Goal #15 as complete, but in my mind change the wording to be a goal I hope to be doing for the rest of my life:

Help and support any friend who asks...  or offer help when I see the opportunity

There are a lot of ways to help friends in addition to contributing to a cause.  I'm happy to be able to help friends who might need a ride somewhere, help when they're sick, help with finding a job, need a place to stay, or maybe just need someone to listen. I love having these opportunities to pay it forward for all the times that these things were done for me.

I also know that besides my annual ALS fund-raising, there will probably be times when I'll need to ask for help. That's not easy for me to do, so I'm selfishly trying to "earn karma points" by helping others.  Give me those opportunities! You know how much I like earning fictional points!

What worked well about this goal:

  • I love to have the opportunity to support a friend who has always supported me
  • Love that Bill sent pictures, raised a lot of money to fight against domestic violence, and, in his usual style, went 'all in' with the shoes
  • This is one of those great goals that I hope I can do for the rest of my life! (although I'll mark as accomplished on my list with this Blog Post!)

What could be better:
  • More people need to ask for help or support! 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Week 26: Book Outline and Quarterly Planning

This week's goal was #59 from my list of 60 and a work-related goal:

Create outline for book about Agile in everyday life

Kind of difficult to write an interesting blog post about creating an outline. There's not even a picture I can post! However, I've been toying with the idea of writing an Agile-related book for years, and so this was the first step.

Something I discovered when working on this is that at this time of my life, I don't want to spend solitary time in front of the computer.  I struggle to even get this little weekly blog post written so I'm really not motivated to take on a book.

That being said, I went to an Agile user-group meeting this week and it's always fun for me to spend time with other Agilists. Every time I start talking about Agile (especially with others in the field) I realize how much I really love the mindset and philosophies and want to stay active in that world. And my ego got a big boost when the organizer of the group publicly recognized me and wrote me an email about how happy he was to have me at the meeting.

So, even though I did not feel like 'working' during this beautiful summer week, I'm very proud of myself that I got my butt in gear and not only wrote the outline for this book, but pitched a couple of articles to TechBeacon. I'm a frequent contributor for them and I've already talked to some of the publishers before about reusing some of my content for a book and they were all for it!

I'm also exploring a lot of options so that I can stay active in the Agile community without having to do the traditional thing of going into an office every day.

What worked well:
  • Helped me organize my thoughts around different book ideas that have been rummaging around in my head.
  • Good to go to the user-group meeting and reconnect with other Agile coaches.
  • I have a lot of good ideas for alternatives to a book that I could do to stay active in the Agile community.
  • I pitched a couple of articles and wrote a first draft of an article that might be used at TechBeacon and repurposed for a book.
What could have been better:
  • I'm just not in a place right now where I want to spend a lot of time writing. But even if I don't use the outline to go on to write a whole book, I might use it to create ebooks, a course, blog posts, podcasts, etc.

And since it is the end of the quarter (Happy Half New Year's Eve!), it's also time to do some reflection and planning for next quarter! Yippee!


What's working well:

  • Overall, I've kept up my pace of accomplishing and blogging about one goal a week.  I feel healthier, happier, and like I have better relationships. I've met a lot of new friends and am much more intentional and mindful in my every day habits.
  • I haven't missed a single day all year of getting at least 10K steps and I've really enjoyed meeting new people in hiking Meetups.  I'd logged over 1000 miles for the year by early June, so I'm on track to get 2019 miles by the end of the year.  

  • I made my second set of slideshows of my '60 until 60 celebrations.'

  • I've made a lot of progress on house projects and learning new things, especially Spanish!

What could be better:

  • I haven't kept up with my weekly 1:1 celebrations and I don't want to pressure friends who are very busy to have a 1:1 celebration with me, so I may not end up having 60 of these.  In fact, "Taylor" from my slideshow, wasn't even a "real friend" but someone who was part of this DCPA "Blind Date Experience" (Still, it was a cool, unique experience, so I "counted" it!

Plan for next quarter:
There are a bunch of goals that I've already planned for or started working on or that I think I can complete in the next quarter. Though I may change my mind, these are the goals that are in good shape to be completed before the end of September:
  • Hike in beautiful spots Including Crested Butte during wildflower season) 
  • Try PickleBall
  • Contribute to any cause that a friend asks me to support
  • Practice the piano and be able to play some of the pieces I used to play well along with some new pieces.
  • Explore an acting class or group and try to get a part in a play
  • Go to the Meowolf exhibit in Santa Fe with Stella and Matt
  • Visit Minnesota friends in August
  • Dress up and go to a musical at the theater
  • Sell, give-away, throwaway and organize what’s left of my games, puzzles, and toys
  • Put DIY walls in basement that will allow me to hang pictures, etc.
  • Label and repair my breaker box
  • Get rid of or repair floor lamps
  • Hang pretty lights in basement and bedroom

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Week 25: Host a Theme Party

I love a good theme party. Themes are just great to spark creativity. Whether it be for New Year's Resolutions, gift-giving, figuring out what to write, or having a party, I love having a theme! So that's why this week's goal is #28 from my list:

Host a theme party (Flamingo, Carpe Diem, Wine-Tasting, Murder Mystery, Games, Purple,etc.)

I picked Pink Flamingos as my theme because I have a plethora of pink flamingo paraphernalia that needed to be put to good use! I have really been trying to live by this "use it or lose it" mentality and not just storing a bunch of stuff that I'll never use.

I'm not really sure how my pink flamingo collection began, but I've always been enamored by the whimsical figure and the bird does represent warm, sunny places which I am always lusting after. I happily accept the pink flamingo as my personal mascot and, hence, have enjoyed additions to my collection over the years (Thanks to my kids, sister, and most recently, my favorite blog commenter, MB!)

I even collect pictures and movies of pink flamingos I've seen at various zoos or in unexpected places!

Here's a movie of the Marching Flamingos that my friend, Lisa and I saw at the Ardastra Zoo in the Bahamas last year. I had such a moment of bonding with the confused flamingo who didn't know where he was going.

Yes, I have a lot of fondness for flamingos and we're in danger of getting side-tracked on this post, so let's get back to the party... 

I belong to a women's group who meets monthly for a potluck and this month I'd volunteered to host, excited that I'd be able to fulfill my theme party goal. I assumed women would be much more amenable than men to wearing pink and embracing the silliness of a pink flamingo party.

The women came through with potluck dishes that included salmon, shrimp, crab, beets, watermelon, and strawberry-rhubarb crisp for dessert! We drank rosé and pink spiked punch which tickled us pink!

I made good use of my many flamingo accessories and was touched to get some sweet pink roses from one of the ladies to adorn my table.

My hat and glasses collection came in handy for people to pose in a flamingo 'photo booth' area which added to the flamingo falderal.

The only sad part is that my good friend, Cathy who is the friend who got me involved with this group, wasn't able to come because she's been recovering from back surgery. I did set up a little flamingo card-making area so we could remember our friend and let her know we were thinking of her.
All in all, I would say we successfully flamingled!

What worked well:
  • Nice that my friends embraced and participated in the theme by wearing pink and bringing pink foods!
  • Had fun putting my various flamingo items to use.
  • Nice that I found the flamingo photo backdrop at Dollar Tree! (In fact, Dollar Tree is a good source for flamingo stuff of all sorts!)
What could have been better:
  • So sorry that my friend, Cathy, is still in so much pain from her back surgery and wasn't able to make it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Week 24: Learn Spanish

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with foreign languages.  At age 17, after a lengthy application process to become a Rotary Club Exchange Student in which I'd specified that I wanted to go to Italy, France, or Spain, I was told I had been accepted into the program! Unfortunately, the country I was told I would go to was Japan... Japanese was not really a language on my list, but, hey, I'd do my best.

That was over 40 years ago, and I've forgotten most of my Japanese. I, also, never lost my desire to learn Italian, French, and Spanish. This year, it was time to pick one of those languages and get serious about learning it!

That's why Goal #24 on my list of 60 is:

Get better at a foreign language (Spanish, French, and/or Italian) and practice with a friend

With the recognition that many of those snowbird spots I'd like to visit in the winter are Spanish-speaking countries, I figured Spanish would be the most practical language to master.

Unlike my "experiment with a new instrument" goal, in which I tried the guitar for about 5 minutes, I have been SERIOUS about this goal to learn Spanish.  I decided my "acceptance criteria" for this goal would be to have at least 100 days in a row of studying and needed to include practicing speaking with a native.

I'm happy to report that I'm on a 104 day Streak in Duolingo and in the Sapphire League! Take a look at all these lingots I've earned!

Besides Duolingo, I'm also using the Pimsleur apps to practice with listening and speaking. The Pimsleur app is great because it's designed to be used while walking or driving.  Pimsleur has 5 Levels, each with 30 lessons, and I just finished the 3rd Lesson of Level 3.

I've also been using other apps and books to learn the grammar.
I discovered there are a bunch of apps that will let you pair up with a native to practice so I signed up for Conversation Exchange and have gotten some partners to practice with.

The biggest investment I made was signing up to go to a Costa Rica Immersion program in January called Conversa! Conversa provides study materials and workshops and earlier this week I participated in my first workshop in which I spoke with natives! I was awful, but I did it!

I've had several opportunities to speak with native Spanish-speaking people during this 104 day stint. I've attended Meetups for those who want to learn Spanish and classes and spoken with friends who know Spanish. It's very discouraging that every time I try to speak to someone, I can't seem to get the simplest sentences right! And when I listen to native Spanish speakers? Forget it! They speak way too fast for me to be able to understand.

But I AM improving and I'm excited and looking forward to using my skills in Costa Rica next winter!

What worked well

  • Gamification aspects of Duolingo motivate me to practice every day
  • Love practicing with Pimsleur courses while I'm walking or driving
  • So many apps available online for free, including those that let you practice with native speakers!
  • Lots of opportunities to practice with classes, Meetups, native speakers, and friends
  • I see improvements by consistently studying and the repetition of phrases and vocabulary
  • Excited about going to Costa Rica next winter and participating in Conversa
What could be better
  • It's discouraging that even after so much study, it is still so difficult to understand or converse 
  • Becoming fluent may not be possible unless I live in a Spanish-speaking country

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Week 23: Binge Watch a Netflix Series and Bonus Goals

Binge watch a Netflix series? You may be thinking that's kind of lame goal. If that isn't the epitome of what it means to be a lazy 'couch potato,' what is? But Goal #41 from my 60 until 60 list is, indeed:

Binge watch a Netflix series with someone

Note the "with someone" requirement.  That's what takes this goal out of the "couch potato" category and instead becomes a "bonding experience."  I have happy memories of binge watching "Lost" with Scotty when he was in high school.  We had a long stint of "Breaking Bad," together, too (that is until he started watching it with his Dad..  Geez, Scotty, you couldn't wait the weekend out?)  

The point is, I really enjoy a good Netflix binge when done with a partner.  It's like reading a book you can't put down, but with someone else.  Maybe it was bad mothering on my part, but when we got on a binge, Scotty and I were up half the night, not being able to resist watching 'just one more' episode.

So while it's not a challenge at all to "binge watch a Netflix series," it's kind of a big challenge to do that "with someone" when you're single. In fact, I was almost thinking I was going to have to 'cheat' on this one and just binge watch the same Netflix series as someone else and talk about it afterwards. 

However, I got my chance to accomplish this goal with my long-time binge buddy (and youngest child), Scotty, when he came home for an unexpected visit last week. The series we found was perfect for binge watching: "Dead to Me"..  a dark comedy about a woman in search for the hit and run driver who killed her husband.

This series worked out great because it was only one season and ten 30-minute episodes, so watchable in 5 hours. We did start at about 8pm, though, so it did bring us to 1:30am giving me that late-night-we're-being-so-decadent-and-disobedient feeling. (Perhaps this is leftover from my own childhood, when it was a 'big deal' to stay up past 'bedtime.')  It also was a series that we both really liked and that's hard to find when were talking about a 24-year-old boy and his Mom.

But, for all of you goal critics out there that scoff at such a lazy challenge, I accomplished a couple of "bonus goals" last week that weren't even on my 60-until-60 list.

First of all, I went to Colorado Springs to see Scotty's promotion ceremony to First Lieutenant at Schriever Air Force Base.  I'm sure the training I gave him with all those late night binge watches helped prepare him for the challenges he faces daily as an officer in the Air Force.

Seriously, my biggest, most important life goal has been to raise my three kids and it's my greatest joy to see them happy and successful as young adults.

And that afternoon, I climbed the Manitou Springs Incline with Scotty! This is something he'd been encouraging me to do, but I knew it would be tough.  I mean, take a look at this sign:

OK, maybe hard to read it, but basically it says every year about 100 people have to be rescued so don't do this unless you're in shape!

Scotty said people in good shape could do it in about an hour, so my goal was 90 minutes. Both Scotty and I were happily surprised that I was able to do it in 55 minutes! In fact, Scotty said most of his Air Force buddies couldn't do it as fast as I did it, and he couldn't wait to tease them that his Mom was faster than they were.

Last week, I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to run the Bolder Boulder with Scotty, but doing the Incline with him with a decent time made up for it!

Things that worked well

  • "Dead to Me" was the perfect series to binge-watch since we could do it in one night and we both liked it!
  • Happy that I'm able to spend quality time with my kiddo, even though he's a grown-up and living on his own now.
  • Love my two unplanned "bonus goals" - Scotty's promotion ceremony and doing the incline with him.
  • So proud of Scotty for the man he's become and happy that he felt proud of me for doing the Incline!
What could have been better

Can't think of single thing!

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Week 22: Bolder Boulder

This week's goal was #3 from my list:

Participate and dress up in at least one fun race like the Bolder Boulder

Bolder Boulder is a big tradition for me. This was my 21rst consecutive year of participating in this 10K and I love it for many reasons. It signifies the start of summer (my favorite season!), it's a great way to remember my brother (a runner who served in the Air Force and died on Memorial Day), and.. it's just a fun party!

I love that  people dress up, that there are bands, music, and people on the sidelines doing crazy thing like giving out shots of tequila or belly dancing or squirting all the runners with water guns.  I love the beautiful scenery as we run through the streets of Boulder and every year I think: "I am SO lucky to be able to experience this!"

But I admit, this year I had a touch of melancholy, too. I have back problems and had been told by doctors to give up running a couple of years ago. Of course, in my naive I-can-overcome-anything way, I had hoped that if I built up my core, ate better, and built some muscle, maybe the doctors would give me the thumbs up to run again.  But, no..  Still too much risk of a fracture due to my curvy spine.

OK, so I couldn't run. That was disappointing. But, when there was a group on the sidelines that said they'd drink for push-ups, I was easily able to crank some out! (Something tells me the drinkers were paying no attention and were not impressed, but, hey, I was proud.)

Another cool thing? When the Bolder Boulder Marketing email to remind everyone to sign up was sent out, the picture that was used was one with me, my two sons, and daughter-in-law from last year:

Now that made me feel awesome! I may have a bad back, but we were the frickin' poster people for the Bolder Boulder!

This year, none of my family went with me (probably another thing that kind of bummed me out), but I was happy to be able to walk with a new friend, Mary, who just moved to Boulder. Here we are posing with a dino. (I have an immediate bond with anyone who will hug a dino with me.)

Even though rain was in the forecast (and you can see, I was prepared with my umbrella hat), the weather held up and the end-of-race festivities and skydivers were all able to take place with the background of patriotic songs, honors and military anthems in Folsom field.

The music and the tributes always move me and remind me that there are heroes out there and people who have made such big sacrifices for the safety of our country. Thinking about them reminds me that my back problems are nothing in comparison.

What worked well

  • Weather held up!
  • Love this tradition that I've been able to participate in every year for 21 years.
  • Love honoring my brother and all those who served in the military, especially those who gave their lives.
  • Love the colorful shoes and clothes and all the costumes and creativity.
  • Love the bands, dancing, and sideline parties.
  • So grateful that I'm still healthy enough to be able to participate.
  • Fun that I got to know a new friend.
  • Exciting that my family was the "Face" of Bolder Boulder in the reminder email that went out.
  • Nice that I was strong enough to easily crank out the push-ups so that those sideline people could drink.

What could have been better

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Week 21: Learn a Choreographed Dance

I love to dance! One of my favorite dance experiences was to be in this Flash Mob in 2011. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere to be found in that video. I didn't come in until the last section at the end (for the least experienced dancers), but, believe me, I'm there!

I had hoped that one day I might be as talented as those first dancers and learn to do aerials, but let's face it, that's not going to happen. The truth is, as much as I love to dance, I'm terrible at gymnastics.. so, yeah, I'll just stick to solid ground.

Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for dancing, even for unskilled dancers such as myself! I have been really loving Zumba, especially after I've gotten to know the moves.  Moving in sync with a group to a fast, upbeat song is so energizing! It's one of the best ways to get me in a happy mood!

This goal from my list is pretty easy for me to do on my own except choreographed dances really only look good if you're doing them with a group. I wanted to do this with my family but have had a hard time convincing anyone to do it with me.  Even my daughter, who typically will humor me with whatever crazy idea I come up with, was not up for a family dance video.  The only ones who I could convince were my grandkids.

I took the opportunity this weekend to learn and video a dance with them.  It is not great, and if it were up to me, we would practice a bit more and get it much better, but I was at risk for even them bailing on me, so.. I'll take it!

What worked well:

  • Fun, easy dance!
  • Kids enjoyed the song and I liked getting to introduce them to the music from Grease. 
  • Fun activity to do on this traditional "weekend with Grandma" visit
  • Even though Diego doesn't like to dance, he was willing to do this with us
  • Easy coordinated costume (all black)
What could have been better:
  • Obviously, we didn't practice enough to have this look very synchronized.
  • Wish I could have done something with my whole family

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Week 20: House Maintenance

This week I finally have pretty kitchen window sills and baseboards, right in time to see the irises that are starting to bloom!

Quite a few of the items on my 60 until 60 list have to do with house projects.  Goal number #50 was:

Refurbish window sills and baseboards that are old and chipped

While these types of goals seem more like chores than goals, they are things I've procrastinated on for years.  If you take a look at the 'before picture' of my kitchen window sill, you can see how chipped and dirty it looked.  One thing about having dirty old things, is it's such a drastic difference to have them nice and clean!
Before Picture - Ugly, chipped sills

I hired someone to do this work (and a lot of other stuff, like repair many cracks in my house, a drawer that was coming apart, and a patio that was breaking down.)  Jim Roshan from PunchMan Handyman has been to my house several time over the past few months to help me repair these long-overdue issues.

Yeah, yeah, I didn't even do the work, but I'm giving myself credit for finally finding someone who could get it done.

Unfortunately, as my house continues to age, there will always be more maintenance work. This week, I also did 'maintenance work' on my car and even my body, as those things age, too.

Mobile workshop in my garage

Jim fixing cracks in the walls

Final coat of paint on the window sill
What worked well

  • Found a handyman, Jim Roshan, who could do the work
  • Jim was able to do multiple projects that needed to be done around my house
  • I love the fresh, clean, look of the freshly painted sills and new baseboards in the kitchen
  • Finally got done with some long over-due maintenance work
What could have been better
  • All the cracks that were repaired now have visible 'patches' where the paint doesn't match exactly. To be perfect, I'd need to totally repaint the first floor
  • House maintenance is never-ending..   This is something I really would prefer not spending my time doing or even coordinating, and, of course, it's very expensive, but... it's part of being a home-owner.

And now, I'm up in Keystone, enjoying a girlfriend getaway at a beautiful condo doing some healthy mental health maintenance!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Week 19: Learn how to Meditate

A zen proverb says, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

I subscribe to a lot of blogs, newsletters and podcasts about happiness and self-improvement, and meditation comes up over and over again as a practice that can be 'life-changing' and has been proven to reduce stress, and  improve happiness.

Even though I've been resistant to the idea (Really? I'm supposed to use my precious time to NOT think?), I added "Learn how to Meditate" as goal #18 on my 60 until 60 list.

In January, there were two opportunities I found that could help me with this goal..  an Udemy class on Meditation and a free guided meditation at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.
I went to the 'guided' meditation and was very disappointed. I'm putting 'guided' in quotes because there really was very little guidance other than to focus on breathing. Basically, there was a beginning gong and an ending gong with 20 minutes of silence in between. Then we were free to quietly roam the museum for a short period and then another 20 minutes of meditation.  Booooring!

Even though I didn't think meditation was for me, I'd already purchased the Udemy course so decided I wouldn't consider this goal complete until I finished the entire course. Unlike the museum event, I was pleasantly surprised by the course.  Once I realized that meditation was a type of skill that would exercise my brain, I stopped thinking of it as a bad use of my time.  It was more like building emotional intelligence or an awareness and ability to control my thoughts... something I'm very interested in.

I really liked the pace of the Udemy course and learned about different types of meditations. The instructor did an excellent job and provided a lot of resources such as downloadable .mp3 files. Unlike learning a new instrument or a new language, learning how to meditate does not take constant study and is not a big time commitment in that sense. It's really pretty straight-forward, though I know it does take regular practice to gain the full benefits.

I can see how the practice of deep breathing can really help during times of stress. Meditation is a way to calm the mind and I think people who are usually described as "Type A" (like me) need it more than most people, but also resist it because it feels like we're not being 'productive.'

I have to admit, that I still want to gain the benefits of meditation but not while sitting in the traditional position. The most stressful thing in my life these days is worrying about my back. I have to do daily exercises and I've started focusing on my breathing during those exercises. For me, this makes more sense than meditating while sitting (which is NOT good for my back).  I also like doing meditation while I'm relaxing in a hot bath, enjoying the scents and sensations. And even though I haven't tried it yet, I could imagine meditating while getting a massage. By combining meditation with things I already do to relax, de-stress, and stay healthy, I feel like I'll get the benefits without the need to add another 20 minutes to my morning routine.

What worked well
  • I really liked the Udemy course and learning more about different types of meditations.
  • I can see how starting the day with deep breathing and clearing the mind really will help me be more calm, and ultimately more productive throughout the day.
  • I like focusing on my breathing when doing my morning exercises 
  • I understand much more about the benefits of meditation 
  • I like the flexibility of the practice..  there is no judgment about 'how' to do it.. you can adapt it to what works best for you
What could be better
  • One reason  I didn't like that initial experience was that it was too long. Even in my class, they suggest not more than 20 minutes.
  • 5 minutes is really the max amount of time I want to do this if I'm sitting.. 
  • I only really like doing this if I can do it when I'm in the bath-tub or having a hard time getting to sleep.. 
  • I probably need to be more consistent and practice this every day to see the full benefits.