Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Post {of sorts}

It's that time again. The time of year when people dress up like superheroes or vampires or monsters or zombies. 

I  struggle with the whole "dress up" thing. I enjoy seeing others dress up...especially if they are creative. Several years back, I saw a person walking down the street with purple leotards and purple balloons all over her body. (Grapes). How bold! But how perfect. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Pink Tent Weekend~Part I

Danielle and I have been thinking (and she has been preparing) for this weekend since April. {!!!!}

Important stories need to have the ending told first: Danielle finished her walk! (Well of course!).

She walked a total of 30.2 miles, including the additional four miles she walked on Sunday.

I'm so very proud of her. And I'm so happy that she allowed me to be part of her journey.

When Danielle signed up for this walk she invited me to join her. I didn't feel confident that we would be able to raise $1800 I signed up to be a part of the volunteer crew teams. 

I campaigned with her to help her raise the funds. But I have to say, Danielle did the bulk of the fundraising on her own. That was a huge hurdle (at least in my mind).

Once the money was raised, the physical commitment was paramount. You'll remember I was worried about her shin splints. Danielle got some shin splint wraps and powered through 26.2 miles on day 1! I absolutely could not have done it. 

Oh, and remember I was worried about being strong enough for my crew assignment? I was able to get my assignment changed so that the lifting requirements were doable for me. And get this...I did not have to use my asthma rescue inhaler a single time! 

This experience deserves more than one be sure to tune in for Part II. 

In the meantime, let me leave you with something Danielle included in a comment as we were getting ready for our adventure:
I'm trying not to focus too much on how many miles I have to walk, rather I'm focusing on the fun things. As long as I remember to enjoy the moment and focus on one step at a time I should be fine...hopefully ;) 

And with that...this sign deserves to be seen again.

P.S. Thoughts going out to all in Hurricane Sandy's path.

Friday, October 26, 2012

That Weekend is Here

It's super late & I need to be asleep. Daughter (on the left) and I (on the right) will be driving 2.5 hours away to be part of the Avon Breast Cancer walk tomorrow. Eek.  I haven't packed.

But, I couldn't bear the thought of going into the weekend without a post to send us off to our adventure. So...that's what this is. A whew...I can't believe we are going to do this post.

Think about us!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jacob Makes Me Smile

I haven't done a Jacob post in quite a while. Those are fun, aren't they? Well, because Jacob is so much a part of our life, I figure I need to give you some Jacob cuteness today.

Yes, he CAN see. He just doesn't look as coifed as a poodle normally does. He looks like that sheepdog on Looney Toons, doesn't he? Let me assure you that the hair "in his eyes" does not prevent him from seeing every person that walks anywhere near our house (even across the street on the sidewalk). Jacob whines and sings for every person that passes by.

Jordan and I are working on teaching Jacob the command "Quiet". He gets the fact that he can't whine while we are eating. And he often gets a morsel if we are able to tell him "Good Quiet". But...translating "quiet" to what some dogs would label "watchdog activities" just hasn't happened.

True story: Last year my Sissy and her husband kept Jacob while Jordan and I were on a trip. They have a wonderful front porch with rockers. And Sissy tells me that on one weekend morning she and her man were enjoying coffee and the paper on the front porch. They thought...let's bring Jacob out too...he can enjoy the cool morning air. You know, they probably never noticed how many people either walked by or drove by on a normal weekend morning...that is UNTIL Jacob cried and shivered and whimpered and howl/sang with every passerby. Finally, Sissy's husband was like: "I gotta take him inside...this is freakin' embarrassing".  {Yeah, I feel ya!}

This weekend Jordan and I went out for brunch and Jacob got to come along. We parked in the shade with the windows down and the temp was a very cool breezy autumn temp. It's nice when the weather allows us to take Jacob more places. Funny thing: When we got back to the car there was a cookie wrapper (empty) in the driver's seat! Yep...Jacob got him some cookies.

Sweet little guy is upstairs with me "keeping me company". I can hear his soft snores. Sometimes his little feet move and he whimpers as he chases rabbits...though, he never seems to catch them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays....

Happy Monday. Mondays often get a bad rap. The whole back to work thing (or the back to school thing, as the case may be). I love my weekends. I covet my time off. I love the chance to unwind and focus on the "real" me. 

So much of my adult life I've been consumed with work. I suppose it's part of my (obsessive?) personality. When I was (much) younger I identified myself with my job so much that it almost consumed defined me. 

Since our move to NC, I have been very diligent to make sure that I keep work at work. I'm not always successful. But, I'm loving my "real" life so much probably because I have been more successful in keeping my work and my life separate.

Hubby drove me to work today and couldn't help singing "Rainy Days & Mondays..." But you know, rainy days don't get me down. I love a rainy day. --When I can stay home (in bed). Today was both Monday and rainy. Not usually the kind of day that makes someone want to jump out of bed saying "Yay! It's Monday AND it's raining!" But here's a treat: My boss brought everyone Starbucks! Talk about a sweet start to the week. 

This evening, when I got home, there was another treat. This one was from God. A rainbow. But not just a rainbow. It was a double rainbow arching over my neighborhood.

Had to snap some pics while I could...with my trusty camera phone. (phone camera?). Spectacular, right?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guess Who Had a Birthday...

My Man had a birthday last week.

You'll remember that in May I had a birthday and we celebrated by going to Vegas. That vacation was exactly what I needed. It was a wonderful time of both doing and not doing. Doing=Several shows. Not Doing=Room service and time in a cabana.

The first time I went to Vegas was to celebrate a special birthday for Jordan. It's fitting that we would return for one of my birthdays.

When we were living in the Pacific Northwest I wanted to plan a birthday party that would take us to someplace fun and a little exotic. We decided Vegas could fit the bill. The Vegas trip for Jordan's birthday was filled with more Doing than Not Doing...which was also perfect. We saw several shows, went to MGM to see the lions and spent time at Siegfried and Roy's "Secret Garden" to see the tigers and other animals. (Including the Dolphin Habitat.) 
The biggest memory? A visit to the Grand Canyon! We took a helicopter into the canyon for lunch.  A good birthday memory.
This birthday was much quieter but no less special. 
Here are few pics of the Grand Canyon visit: 

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Serenity List

I've been experimenting with introducing moments of relaxation into my every day. For me, that includes some amount of alone time. I recently realized that I have not been giving myself my alone time. I added it back to my work day a couple of weeks ago and I found myself to be calmer at work. 

I sometimes worry that I appear "anti-social" because I choose to eat lunch alone. I enjoy my co-workers...but, like I said, without my alone time, I may not be at my best.
I've recently found a break out room at work that is rarely in use around lunch time. I've been disappearing in there with my iPhone or book or magazine for my lunch hour. 
Today, I read portions of the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Living. Actually, I looked at many of the beautiful photographs and read one (that's right, only one) article.

The article was approximately two pages and spoke to me with tidbits I didn't know had been researched and that I find exciting. Forgive me for not remembering the title of the article or the author. But, if you decide you want to seek out the article, it should be pretty obvious which one it is (once I explain).

The article was about the psychological benefits of creating crafts. As you know, I've recently taken up painting as a hobby and I find that time stands still when I'm "in the zone". When I complete my work I'm both "spent" and refreshed. It doesn't make sense that I would be both things at the same time. 

The article explained that crafting can have similar benefits to meditation. It said that the physical and creative part of crafting required full presence and the part of the brain that "problem-solves" (my word) has to turn itself off during the craft project. The mind can not just "turn off" on its own. But when the brain is engaged in something that takes full concentration, the mind can take a rest from the constant thinking and problem solving that it gravitates to. 

The article quoted a psychology researcher and explained how different locations of the brain are engaged in different activities and how making sure that the brain gets some "down time" helps a person gain the feeling of relaxation when crafting. There are some releases of feel-good hormones as well. One is released because of the physical repetitiveness of an activity. One is released with the pleasure of something beautiful and yet another is released if the project is being created as a gift. One factoid I remember is that some crafts (it specifically referred to knitting) can have the same relaxing result as petting a dog or a cat. --We've all heard the studies of how petting a dog or cat reduces blood pressure and promotes heart health.

One thing I should point out is the MSL article emphasized that the act of creating was what produced the positive health and emotional benefits. The final result of the project was not material to the health results. The emphasis is on the "doing" of the thing.
Tonight I tried to find the article so I could give you the link (which I could not find for you). But I did find a few other articles that seemed to bear out the Martha Stewart Living article. One article I found was a guest post on Too Depressed.Com. The post is  "Reducing Depression with Hands-On Activities". by Kathryn Vercillo.  Kathryn also blogs at: Crochet Concupiscence
This information helps me realize that I need to prioritize crafting and art as an important part of my life.

For today, I think I should focus on increasing the several things for a happy (and healthy) life.

I will call this my SERENITY LIST

1. Exercise {Endorphins, Increased Stamina, Help with Asthma}
2. Quiet {Alone}Time (but not too much).
3. A Mindfulness Practice.
4. Crafting.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mindfulness and Bread Making

Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-by Ian Britton
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to learn from a master artisan bread maker. Actually, I was with a group invited to share an evening at a local bakery. The owner and his son are both master bakers as well as Zen meditation practitioners. The mini-workshop was to teach the experience baking bread as a mindful practice. 

This bakery is not the pastry type bakery. They are primarily a bread bakery (wholesale) that operates a cafe as well. 

Our evening began with a discussion of mindfulness, meditation and incorporating this into everyday life. The mini-workshop was introduced with an essay by Edward Espe Brown called "When You Wash the Rice, Wash the Rice". The idea is that if you focus on what you are doing in the moment you can achieve moments of meditative quiet and peace. Frank (the owner) talked about the fact that the Western culture emphasizes the mental and emotional "self" with limited attention paid to physical and tactile experiences of life. The point of the mini-workshop is that you can choose to "be quiet" while you do your "work" and achieve mindfulness.

Aside: I am Christian. For me, meditation and mindfulness can be practiced by anyone of any faith. I think that everyone's experience of mindfulness is their own just as everyone's experience of faith is their own. Someone I'm close to worries that Eastern practices associated with Eastern religions cannot "mix" with the Christian faith. My feeling is that meditation can be used in prayer and "mindfulness" can be an approach to "Prayer without ceasing". 

Back to Baking Bread: 

The goal was to achieve a quiet mind before going into the kitchen to work with and knead our dough for bread. As you can imagine, the thought is that the rhythm of the kneading can be used as a way to enter mindfulness. We were to focus on the rhythm of kneading the dough as a way to maintain our mindful quietness. Focus on the tactile sensations of the dough as it changed with the kneading. 

We were led through several minutes of quietness before the kneading/baking experience  I must say just those few moments of quietness listening to the person reminding me to focus on my breath really did bring me into a quiet and calm state of mind. I think often when I am "quiet" my mind is not quiet so I do not feel refreshed afterward. After the meditation (which for me was simply focused quietness) we were to enter the kitchen with the same "spirit of quietness" to begin to knead our dough. 

Reality of the Experience: 

The spell was broken immediately as the group moved from our sitting quietness to the kitchen. Chatter was immediate as people walked to the kitchen. I don't know if it was excitement or the Western culture that when you are in the company of others that you need to be talking. But one of the keys to mindfulness is to be able to stay quiet even when your surroundings are not quiet. So, I quietly stood back and waited for instruction and tried not to break the spell that I had been under. 

In the kitchen, participants eagerly asked questions about the bread making process like: "What temperature is the oven?"; "What are the proportions of yeast?" These questions (and their answers) were not important to me. I have not real intention of baking bread on a regular basis. And if I do bake bread, I will be able to find the right recipe with the "how to steps". 

I suppose the same could be said of my personal goal to focus on the mindfulness portion of the workshop. I'm sure I can find a book with a "recipe for how to be mindful". But, some things have to be experienced. For me, the moments of quietness where my mind was not in a state of worry or problem solving was something I don't think I would have understood by simply reading the steps. And, like so many good things, doing is learning. 

I'm glad I went. 

I'd love you to share when you've found a new way to experience something or a new way to think about something. 

Have a happy Wednesday.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lake Visit (s)

Yesterday I was true to my word. We were OUT. {All Day Long} We didn't quite get out of the house before sunrise. But we did get out pretty early. It was really early for a Saturday. And, just as we planned, we were out taking photographs. Well...the Hubs was taking photos. Something happened and neither of my cameras had their batteries charged. 

No we went. Hubs had working cameras and I was excited to get out into nature. We went to the same lake where I participated in Dragon Boat Racing
We went to two lakes, actually.  

The lake was a good 40-minute drive and by the time we got there the lake's morning mist had lifted. The day was a perfect blue sky autumn day. The sun burned brightly early while the wind was soft and the air crisp. 

When we drove into the lake park's entrance I breathed a sigh of happiness. 

You'll remember that we lived in the Seattle area for quite a few years. For three of those years, we lived walking distance to Lake Washington. 

Here's a pic of D. on our porch/deck when we lived in Kirkland. Can you see the lake beyond the trees? This is what I fell in love with. 

And This,

And This.

After my life in the Puget Sound mountains and lakes make me feel at home. 

So, while my husband was taking photos around the lake's perimeter I was soaking in the view. Just sitting and watching and looking and loving! 

Oh, and I snapped a this pic with my iPhone. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm Out~Taking Photos

If all goes as planned, I am "out" right now. Yep "out". We have to leave early in the morning to get the morning sun. Have I mentioned I'm not a morning person? Well, it may not be obvious....but I'm no morning person.

My husband is a gifted photographer. {Really gifted}. I've been able to tag along on many of his photo shoots. 

When we were much younger I also got to watch him work in the dark room.  I watched as he mixed chemicals and managed precisely timed chemical reactions. I watched as he experimented with getting the image exactly "right". A second more or less made a difference. 

Everything about darkroom work is precise. I think that is one reason Jordan (Hubs) is so good in the dark room. His nature allows him precision.

You may remember I purchased a trinket as a nod to my youth and dreams of photography. In fact, one of my girlfriends and I actually took a photography class in high school. 

*Aside: Why is it that teachers who teach these really cool classes, like photography, actually rob the joy out of the class to prove that it is not a "crip" course?* 

It was my first time with a 35MM camera. Why did I have to focus on reflections and all of these really awkwardly staged photos to pass? And darkroom procedures? Are you kidding me? We're talking "burn and dodge" and "frame and focus". I don't think my husband knows about my high school photography course. I was sufficiently damaged to not want to pick up a camera again for several years. I declared myself only fit for snapshots. 

But, over time, and with improved technology and gentle coaching by my Hubs, I have gotten the bug for photography. Many of the photos on this blog are by my husband. ~I know, right? He IS good. 

A lot of the photos on the blog are also mine. Don't judge my photo skill by the pics above. That was all iPhone and taken indoors (the local art museum) and I was trying desperately to capture the woman whose outfit mirrored the colors of the exhibit. It was pure serendipity. The resolution is low, but I still like the image enough to show you here. 

If I had been prepared with a "real" camera the image could be so much better. But knowing it isn't perfect is okay. 

For fun, I'll re-share some of my photos (by that I mean photos by me) that I feel more confident about. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy October Friday!

I'm pulling out some Fall photos to work on my inspiration. You guys have been so good to wish me good health when I haven't been feeling well. I so appreciate you're still reading my little posts even when they are short and whiny.

2012 has been an interesting year (health-wise). I don't think I told you I had a little surgery earlier this year. Yeah, I was quiet like that. It was an out-patient procedure so I didn't really want to treat it like a "whole big thing". But I feel so much better (for the most part) since having it. 

I won't bore you with the details. But one thing I remember very clearly is that every single time a new nurse came to do their "thing" to either me or my chart they asked me my name and birth date. They did this while holding my wrist with the hospital issued wristband. After I recited my name they would nod and go on about their task. Their nod was as if to say: "Yeah, she's still coherent" or "Yep, she didn't try to lie". I wasn't quite sure what that was all about. 

The last time I had surgery they had me count backward with a mask on my face so I was good and knocked out by the time I was in the hall on the way to the operating room. 

This time when it was time for pre-op the nurse put something nice in my IV to get me ready. I was still awake as they wheeled me into the operating room. I remember lifting my head and happily saying to the lovely O.R. ladies in shower caps, "Hi, I'm Kimberly". I was so happy to see them. 

Here's the weird thing. At that moment I thought "Oh, so this is how it is...I'll be awake for this". That thought was not one bit freaky to me...which tells you that the stuff in my IV was some GOOD stuff. I was all "Oh, Hi." And I was looking around the room noticing the clock on the wall and how cold it was in there. I was like a curious turtle taking it all in. The next thing I remember was being woken up in post-op. 

Ah...Good Times!

So, anyway, these past two days I was sick with a stomach bug. The hubs was wonderful and went out to the store Wednesday night to get me some meds to help me through. Have I mentioned that I'm not a good patient?

And since I'm sharing here, my asthma has been a real problem lately. Saturday after the concert I had a full-blown asthma attack. Not fun. 

These setbacks have made me feel so very lethargic. I've been dealing with asthma for a while now. My meds were increased earlier this year and I'm still struggling. I can't help but worry just a little that I'm going to miss out on things because of this. I try not to let asthma limit me. I find that on the weekends I'm good for about one activity a day. And I feel so tired all of the time. And then I feel guilty for feeling too tired to do things. It's a vicious circle (cycle?).

On another note, I want to go photo shooting with the Hubs tomorrow. I haven't done a real photo shoot in too long. So, tomorrow my inhaler will be handy and my camera battery charged and the Hubs & I will do some day tripin'.
~Happy Weekend!