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.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Week 18: Experiment with learning a new instrument

This week I picked goal #21 from my 60 until 60 list: Experiment with learning a new instrument.

I actually had very short 'experiments' with three instruments: The ukulele, the guitar, and an old Casio keyboard.  I had a short ukulele lesson from my niece when I was in California earlier this year and this week I got a guitar lesson from my talented friend, Adam.

I really enjoyed both of these lessons, but I soon realized that I have no natural talent for the ukulele or guitar and my fingers were really pretty spastic when trying to play even simple chords. I'd thought maybe since I can play the piano (also a string instrument) that I might be able to pick up ukulele or guitar relatively easily, but I quickly realized that the skills needed are totally different.  While usually I'm not one to quit early, I also realize that I have to prioritize where I'm going to invest my time in learning new skills. I could see that picking up ukulele or guitar would take more practice time than I'm really ready to invest right now.

I remembered that I'd recently gotten my brother, Chris's, old keyboard from my sister, and I'd been wanting to experiment with that. Chris died in 1997 and Michele and I had shared possession of his keyboard, thinking our kids might have fun playing with it. For all these years, it didn't get much use, but it was the perfect solution for my dilemma: I can easily play the keyboard and have it sound like any instrument I want!  I even found an old YouTube video giving me a basic lesson on how to use the Casio 465 ToneBank!

Guitar lesson from 'Q' (AKA Wysh, Adam, and a bunch of other names)

Also tried ukulele with my sister, thanks to a lesson from my niece, Rebecca.
Played with my brother, Chris's, old keyboard (circa 1989?)

What worked well

  • Ukulele video lesson from my sweet niece, Rebecca
  • Guitar lesson from talented friend, Adam ('Q')
  • Practicing ukulele with Michele when I was visiting LA
  • That I could actually play 'Horse with No Name' (sort of) with only 2 chords
  • Having fun with Chris's old keyboard - even though it's so old, it still works and could do some fun things!
  • Finding a YouTube that helped me figure out how to use some of the functions on the keyboard.
  • New admiration for those who play ukulele, guitar, and other stringed instruments. (I'll stick to the easier piano / keyboard.)
Not so good
  • My fingers are not strong/flexible enough.. had a very hard time playing even simple chords
  • Fingernails need to be cut very short to play ukulele or guitar
  • I don't like giving up so quickly, but realize I'm not willing to make the time investment needed