downtime.

I am foraying into the world of self-employ.  While I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, I am now at the point where the work I’m doing is enough to cut back my office-work schedule to 3 days/week, and I have more than enough work to do the remaining 4 days/week for my main client.  I’ve fantasized for years about working for myself; it’s quite a different story when confronted with the reality of the thing, am I right?  I don’t say this as a negative, it’s simply an adjustment in both daily habits and practices, and in mentality/perception. I’m loving it so far, and getting more disciplined about my work habits, primarily because I can see how easy it is to simply work all the time. Although, this isn’t really anything new for me, I’m fond of being a busy-busy-bee! I can also see the necessity of getting out and spending time with people, ie volunteering, and participating in a writing group (of which, incidentally, I found a really great one last week! through the Hennepin County Library system.  Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove the library? Home away from home for this word nerd!).

What I love about working from home, more than anything, is that I get to decide my schedule.  I do not enjoy the necessity of being at an office for a prescribed number of hours during a set time frame. This has always made me a little cray-cray, though I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that it’s what I need to adjust to to make a living in this world.  I’m soooo happy to be finding out that there are other options- and they’re even viable options!  What I love about freelance writing is, well, writing.  Because the more you do of something you love, the more you do of something you love! Or, something to the effect of, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While some may debunk this as bad career advice, I say it’s completely true!

At the moment, I’m taking a break from writing about various types of cancer for clients (just a little light writing for a Monday, thank you very much!).  These are the ways I like to give my mind a rest:

  • More writing, ovbi.  Though it’s nice to be able to vent the randomness in my brain
  • Trail running.  Today @ Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which is a bit of a jaunt, but definitely worth it.  It was grey and dreary, which made the leaves still clinging to the branches scream their vibrant colors.  I f’ing love autumn in Minnesota!
  • Regular running, too.
  • Or walking along the mighty Mississipp’, which is nearby.
  • Doing headstands, a la B.K.S. Iyengar. Like this:   Ha!  No, more like this:Except sh!ttier, with a lot of confused adjusting happening throughout.
  • Playing Words with Friends with a guy I used to date.  I suppose he would be considered some sort of ex, though he wasn’t technically a boyfriend (of course, this is my attitude about our relationship now. Had you asked while we were dating, he probably was considered a boyfriend.  Still, there needs to be some sort of nomenclature pertaining to people you formerly dated.  Ex… datees? No. Come up with something and leave it in the comments, if you would!).  Anyhoo, it’s weird because we don’t talk, but I soooooo want to beat him, so we keep playing.
  • Eat food.  Make food.  Think about going to get food or ordering food.  Looking at food in the cupboards. Making more coffee to drink for when my break is over.
  • Facebooking, tweeting, et cetera.  Truly, an addiction.  (Feel free to friend ‘n’ follow, btw.)
  • Daydreaming about getting a French Bulldog.
  • Perusing adopt-a-dog sites, searching for vicarious puppy-love
  • Many, many other interesting things.

What do you do on your breaks, peeps who work from home and otherwise?  I’m always fascinated by how people spend their downtime… or procrastinate-time.

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today, part I: wild.

I started today with a run.  You know what I’ve found?  Before I go to bed, if I set out the clothes I’m going to wear in the morning, it becomes a no-brainer to go for a run.  I mean, for the most part.  If you’re going to sleep, you’re going to sleep, and some days there’s not a damn thing that can be done to change it.  But, most of the time, this simple maneuver gets me up out of bed, and onto the trails before I even know what’s happening.  It’s like you’ve already scheduled it into your subconscious calendar, so it’s automatic.

My point being, that I set out my clothes last night, and went for a run first thing this morning.  A longer route around the lake, to turn the 2.7 of the shoreline trail into a 4-miler.  Easy peasy.  Except that I was wearing a new pair of socks, which are smart wool, which everyone swears by, but I can’t get behind.  They’re still wool, and they still itch a bit sometimes, and I’m already damn picky about what I wear on my feet.  So, the run was sort of whiny and bitchy, and I stopped 3 blocks from the house and removed shoes and said socks, and happily walked the remaining distance barefooteded.

I worked from home today, which is always lovely.  After the run, I had some coffee, and started to work.  I took a short break mid morning to read a bit, because I am currently experiencing the wanderlust, in anticipation of a road trip to KC, then Denver and maybe the Black Hills, and this book has got me roped in:

http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Oprahs/dp/0307592731/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340815040&sr=8-1&keywords=wild%3A+from+lost+to+found#reader_0307592731

I saw this featured somewhere a few months ago (and yes, it may have been in a trashy People-mag type publication), and thought it sounded interesting.  When it came up in the library queue, I scanned the prologue, which, I suppose, really has to be the most dramatic piece of the whole book.  It read a bit too indulgently, somewhat reminiscent of “Eat, Pray, Love,” which, while a decent read, is kind of unpleasant somehow.  I picked “Wild” up again another day, just to give it one more chance before returning it to the masses, and found that it’s really good.  The woman is from Minnesota, so there are all manner of references to this great state.  The bulk of it, when she’s on trail, rewinds my mind instantly to all those ill-advised backpacking trips of the college years, the love and the hate and the dehydration-induced drama and waterworks…  She makes it funny, poking fun at herself and seeing the humor in her surroundings and inner dialogues.  It’s mildly painful.  And yet… it’s got me thinking about that old Dana Design holed up somewhere in the basement.

Then this:

popped into my head.  And I felt a little less wild.

kombucha experi-fermentation, douze(y) du jour

It’s definitely happening now, it wasn’t just a fluke yesterday.  The mushroom is definitely both gromandizing and aggrandizing (sorry, sleepy and in need of a little alliteration).  True to my word, I checked it just as many times today as usual.  And changed the location.  But it seems to be a resilient bugger and keeps on keepin’ on.

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I think I’m getting very close to being able to brew a batch of the coveted kombucha!

om… (how the mind wanders)

I don’t feel like going to meditation class today.  Mostly because I’m now done with work but still have 1.5 hours til class begins, which leaves limited options, the most obvious being a visit to the gym.  Which I’m feeling too lazy to do, but I feel lazy because I’ve been sitting all day, so it’s really the perfect thing to do before I go sit for another 2 hours.

I just learned of this: the Gypsy Flower (Cynoglossum officinale)! And it grows right here in Minne.  Here’s a photo:

Ooh, so pretty!  Unfortunately, it appears to be known by another common name, Hound’s Tongue.  Probably in another country, though.  Not here.  It’s definitely called Gypsy Flower here.

Here’s a photo of Robert Plant eating ice cream:

And, with that total randomness, I feel well prepared to barter with the monkey mind in seated meditation tonight.

A mind, once expanded…

I’m back home again after my epic-ly amazing dog-sitting stint in the lovely Kenwood area.  Tonight is the first night sleeping in my own bed in 2.5 weeks.  There are several things I love about shaking up the routing periodically either just a little, like dog-sitting in someone else’s house in another area of the city, or busting loose completely, i.e. moving cross-country to attend a commercial-diving programs (yes, that really happened.):

  1. Your routine is immediately broken up.  You’re in a new place, surrounded by different people (or pets), totally different energy, completely different surroundings.  You simply can’t do things in the same way.
  2. You’re not surrounded by your own stuff.  This I find very liberating.  I have A LOT of projects I want to do, A LOT of books to read someday.  What ends up happening is that I am constantly overwhelmed by the possibility, so I end up doing none of the things on the list.  When you’re somewhere new, you only have the stuff you’ve brought with you, so you are better able to focus on what’s before you, what you intend to work on.
  3. It’s easy to reinvent yourself, even if only a little.  This may sound a little silly, but I think we all need, from time to time, to just sort of pretend a little, to try on new hats.  And this is always easier when you’re not surrounded by people who’ve known you since you were three, with whom you feel obligated to act out that particular role.  I’m not saying it has to be anything drastic, what I mean is more that we often change and grow, but don’t realize because it can be a challenge to allow those changes into a relationship or lifestyle that might be rather static.
  4. You gain insight to and clearer perspective on your life.  Being removed from the ordinary, it’s just easier to see what you do, and don’t like about where you are.

So, I’ve gained some insight, and have a better idea of where I want to be heading.  Now it’s about keeping up the momentum, and not dropping back to the same patterns.

I’m curious to know, how do you keep your momentum going when you’ve made good changes?  Is it will power, or intention that keeps you moving forward?  Do you find truth in the Oliver Wendall quote, “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size”?

 

winter mania!

I’m not sure if it’s because I sit at a desk all day long, or because I don’t get enough sunshine in the winter, or if it’s just because I go a little stir crazy, what with the routine of the work week, but I get a little crazy this time of year!  I mean, now that it’s finally winter, that is.  I would happily spend all of my free minutes outside doing stuff, if I could.

Here’s what my tonight looked like: I rushed home from work to investigate what the dog might have demolished during the day (she was merely cuddling with one of my running shoes, bless her).  My plan was to let her out, then to go for a run because I was miraculously home before daylight had disappeared.  Unfortunately she spied the gentle leader in my hand while she was still outside and refused to enter the house, not even for treats.  Eventually she came in (and if you have a dog, or kids, you know the feeling of wanting to accomplishing something time-specific, and battling with said dependent, all the while mentally hearing the time ticking away…), but I still couldn’t get her on the leash, and so ran the lake alone.  When I came home, she was ready to go, so we skijored for a bit.  She did much better tonight, slowly starting to understand what we’re doing out there.  I was also less ambitious distance-wise, and only ran around Isles, rather than aiming to do more.  When we were done with that, I took the dog home and skied the lake alone.  All in all, I probably covered 6-7 miles.  And I would happily head out on my skates, if I didn’t have to go to bed for the working in the morning.

13.1-8

In the book, Born To Run, the author frequently alludes to learning to rest on your feet, a premise which seems highly counterintuitive.  After a while though, it does start to make sense.

I have a friend who swears by the run/walk method of marathon training.  The idea is to run for a determined length of time, then walk for a shorter period (not long enough for lactic acid to become an issue, however), then resume running.  In theory, I like the idea.  In practice, I hate it.  There’s a bit in The Grapes of Wrath (I think) where Steinbeckwrites about the challenge of starting after stopping, or something along these lines- I haven’t read it since high school, and probably only skimmed it then.  This has always resonated with me, in several areas of my life.  I am a fickle runner and, though I am becoming more resilient, there are certain things I know to be true for me: gadgets are generally demotivating, and once I stop, I really don’t want to start back up again.  So I focus on resting while I run.My pace is kind of abysmal at the moment, but I’m running more frequently and longer distances than I’ve ever done, and I know speed comes with practice.  So I keep pushing forward with patience and gratitude for what my body can do, rather than focusing on the speed of other runners.

Following the creek is always a good route for me.  Somehow I find it more interesting to run it than to circumnavigate the lakes.  This run was meant to be a maintenance run, but I felt good once I got going, and I think my pace was pretty decent on this run.

Training route #6, Harriet to 12th Ave. along Minnehaha Creek, 6 miles

Training route #6, Harriet to 12th Ave. along Minnehaha Creek, 6 miles

13.1-7

This first part of this week was completely non-edifying.  I got all set to go running on Sunday, even began a blog post with my route all planned (which the evil delete button gobbled up).  Then I got sidetracked with delicious honey extracting with friends Meghan and Yuuki.  When I finally got to where I wanted to go running, I locked myself out of the car.  I fully realize that I don’t always want to run.  I do, however, get frustrated when I continually (subconsciously) sabotage my efforts to do it regardless of personal (usually peevish) sentiments.

I ended up walking maybe 3 miles on Sunday, instead of running the eight the training schedule called for.  Monday I slacked, Tuesday I walked 5.5 and ran 3ish (around Lake Harriet), Wednesday I slacked again!  Then yesterday I ran around the lake in the morning (first successful AM run!) and followed that up with another 5 miles in the afternoon (Mendota Trail).  I didn’t run the whole distance in the evening, but made a pretty good showing nonetheless.  Additionally, I remember reading this article in Runner’s Worldabout running multiple times per day and, though I balked at the idea at the time, it’s stayed with as a logical training method, and Thursday was the first attempt to implement.The icing on the cake is that today I completed my first long run– 8 miles- after work.  Even better than this icing is the icing of not having to dread doing a long run on Sunday.  Seriously.  What a terrible idea for me to even consider!  Sunday is the one day I sleep in and allow myself to be as sloth as familial obligations will allow!  Pfft!  This is what I say to you, annoying Sunday relaxation-stealing long run!  I will squeeze you in after work as if you were a mere errand.  Ha!A good sense of accomplishment after this run.  The loop is just over 4 miles, and I did it twice, starting from the parking lot near the shelter (not quite where the start/finish point is, I had to double back a few times to include that distance, just to be accurate) and heading west up the hill to Shepard, then turning into the park, keeping to the left at all intersections back to the parking lot.  I wanted to start this way because the hill leading to Shepard is really steep, but then the stretch on Shepard gradually slopes downward until you turn into the park at Elway St.  I also wanted to ensure accuracy in following the route.  I know it looks easy, but I wasn’t sure how obvious the trail would be as opposed to other options (I didn’t need to worry).
Training run #8, 19 August : Shepard Road / Crosby Farm Trail loop, 4.1 miles (click image to enlarge)

 

Do you ever see those articles about about what x-type athlete can learn from y-type athlete?  Like in yoga mags when they tell you which pose is perfect for downhill ski training, etc?  As I was running tonight, I had a thought about diving.  I find myself always looking down when I run, and after 5 miles or so tonight, I realized how poor my posture was.  I had thought that the best way to run was to tuck the pelvis under, but I wonder about that.  When I became aware of my posture, my head was down, pelvis tucked, and my body just kind of slumped into this totally passive and weak C-shape, not a strong posture at all.  I lifted my head and looked ahead instead, which is not something I typically do, but this is where scuba comes in.  In diving where your eyes look, your body follows.  For example, when you’re facing a reef wall, you have to be uber conscious of your depth, because your body will automatically adjust to where your eyes are, so if you’re looking down, you will automatically descend; whereas, if you’re looking upward, you will inevitably ascend.  On the second stretch of this run, I kept my gaze lifted, extended my torso upward which, in turn, pushed my bum out just a touch.  The main thing was the torso and keeping myself focused on what was ahead.

Adjustments, always adjustments!

22.

I’m so excited today that I don’t know where to start.  Not just with the dailies, but with everything in general.  I feel like the positive juju is starting to roll in: last night I identified a company in MN with positions available related to what I’ve been doing in the gulf, sort of.  Additionally, a friend from high school, whom I haven’t spoken to in years, contacted me via facebook in re: my job search.  It turns out she had read my CSB article, showed it to her husband who used to work offshore, who wondered if I was looking for a job, so Belinda contacted me to find out.  I responded that I was interested, fully aware that it might turn out to be some crazy pyramid scheme opportunity, but was willing to see it through anyway.  After all, you just never know what might come about 😉