Being meaningful

Something I read this morning mentioned struggling to find meaningful posts to write. That gave me pause – are posts supposed to be meaningful? Oh man! I am so doing this whole blogging thing wrong if that is a rule. And if that is a generally accepted truism, I have a different interpretation of blogging and content.

As a corollary that life requires balance, I would also say life requires consistency. While I am almost OCD in my need for structure and routine, I really get a great deal from the process writing a blog and leaving said blog up and open to be read. Therefore, I strive to write and publish something every day. Content? Sure, I have some. Meaningful content? Depends on the reasons you read.

But that’s only a small part of the equation. Most of the time I strive to write and publish something every day because sorting it out here works for me. I would survive and continue to thrive without blogging, but I would have another writing outlet, a personal journal at a bare minimum.

My thoughts this morning are not profound or meaningful or deep. They simply are and it makes me feel better to share there here. Whatever your reasons for being here and reading, my hope is occasionally you smile or nod your head in agreement or even laugh out loud at some of the thoughts that scamper through my brain and find there ay here. Perhaps you even recognize some of your own good (or not so good) habits. Or maybe I am a cautionary tale on how not to do a lot of something.

Whatever brought you here, I really appreciate your stopping by and spending a few seconds with me.

So what am I thinking about this morning? When I started this post a few hours ago, sleep.

My plan yesterday was to get up and go to Pilates class this morning … which started 15 minutes before I finally woke up and tore myself away from the depths of sleep to check my clock. Mild disappointment followed, but I needed sleep more than I needed pilates this morning. Gym and then work it will be.

It’s now late morning, nearing afternoon, and I have been doing domestic chores. Unloading and loading the dishwasher. Cleaning my bathroom. Vacuuming the house. Putting away the piles of folded clothes. Bagging piles of wonderful pants that I wore at the air races that are too big and idly wondering what size I will have to purchase next year to replace them.

And now, get to the office for a few hours of work-work.

This post is one of those long, drawn-out, multi-stage posts. It may not be very meaningful to anyone but me.

Work, I find, is very therapeutic. When I am irritated with other aspects of my life, work generally makes sense. This weekend, not so much, but that’s okay. I am not as familiar with the technical aspects of the law, but it is always good to feel part of the bigger picture.  After missing pilates this morning and being tired after working all weekend, I declared today an official rest day and the end of a wonky month.

I enjoyed our time away. I really loved my son’s wedding. But a new, normal week starts tomorrow and I am very excited about it. Even if it’s not all that meaningful.

What is meaningful … I’m having a few dozen moments off and on all day. I have my own List of things to discuss with trainer J in the morning. I have to restrain myself from buying a ticket to Switzerland to alternatively hug the stuffing out of and slap some sense into a tribe family member. I wrapped my first Christmas present today and have to buy cards for friends celebrating birthdays in October. Then it’s Halloween. Then it’s Thanksgiving. Then it’s Christmas and another new year.

Perhaps this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Weather is changing and the balance of the year is slipping away. I am in not in any rush to move through my days, there is no future Big Day remaining in 2016, but I am still very excited about the next few months. I have a pile of books to finish, a whole other wish list brewing. On top of which I am pondering some new directions with my little self-employment business and how I spend my work-from-home days. And maybe I will develop some new hobbies in addition to my training with J and practice on my own.

The weekend – what weekend? – went by in a bit of a blur. Tomorrow starts a new week and the end of a very busy, hectic, crazy month. All is well and good in my corner of the world.

And this post, this mish-mash of airy fluff, is the product of a long day. But negative girl is contained and I am both relaxed and happy right now, maybe borrowing a page from my cats and plotting world domination.

Life is good. And with that, I bid you all goodnight and a good week ahead

Work, illness, irrational reactions and feelings, but still, a really good day

Busy, busy day today. It is an all-hands type of weekend, and I spent the majority of my Saturday transcribing. Honestly, it’s probably been 15 years since I have done this kind of straightforward word processing, and just like riding a bike, it comes back to you. I had to set an alarm to remind myself to get up and walk around every hour, and I am really glad to have gone to the yoga workshop this morning.

My gym closed at 9 tonight, and by the time I got home it seemed too late to go there and run through a List. Kind of a bummer, but then I realized that the cardio List we did on Thursday requires a single pair of 5 lb. dumbbells and a stool or chair or place to sit. Sometimes I feel too stupid to live – I have both items at home. So that’s what I did. I went through a couple of sets and feel better.

All good things.

Seems to me that as soon as I write and post about an issue, the emotional fog that shrouds me starts to clear. Negative girl is still bleating inside my head, but I can live with that. I have gotten this far and improving every single day.

M was out and about today as well, running with friends. He came home with all sorts of goodies and another pulled muscle. *sigh* The man is nearing 60. He should probably think about slowing down just a bit.

Then I open Facebook and do a quick scan and find trainer J has liked a comment from Scott Abel, a truly down-to-earth, plain-speaking, and direct kind of fitness expert and coach. Of late Coach Abel has been expressing his views about how a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition does catch up with you, typically in your 50s. I was an early adopter and started on the diabetes meds in my 40s. Even now I am suffering from a lack of discipline when it comes to food. It’s evolving, slowly, and I’m working at it. Trying. It’s damn hard.

In my back burner brain processing, I have been wondering and thinking about intuition and instinct, whether or not I believe in such things. Not really. When the kids were young I had a “mother’s ear” and could hear a sniffle or a cough in the deepest sleep in the middle of the night. When B fell ill there was no premonition or feelings about what was about to happen. Yet friend J has been ill for over a week and while I have not heard from him, I thought it was  him just lying low and recovering. But I’ve been mildly uneasy about it. He’s such a bad patient a quick text or email or phone call bemoaning how crappy he feels would not be surprising; it has happened before with a head cold or a sinus infection. His utter silence and not replying was kind of unnerving.

Today I found out he was far, far worse than he told me. Like hospitalized for a few weeks kind of ill. And I’m beyond upset about it. I’m furious. I’m terrified. I’m furious all over again. And I was at work when he called. Burst into tears, both angry and scared at the same time kind of tears. And now I’m just so mad!

The most important thing is that he is going to be fine. I know this. But I have an incredibly contradictory urge to kill him myself. For what, I’m not sure. Despite our lack of intersecting bloodlines, we’re family. Terrifying me by being half a world away and getting seriously sick. Then not telling me. Not planning to give me an opportunity to say goodbye if it came to that. Thinking about it coming to that. Then getting pissed at him for making those decisions without consulting me.

Vicious cycle, that rabbit hole.

At the end of this very good day, the best part is he is on the mend, will fully recover and be fine again really soon. Right now he’s weak but recuperating. He’s in a pissy mood and the whiney-ass bad patient I know and love is starting to rear his ugly head. But he’s going to be fine. He will regain his strength and he will come home.

Where I will not fuss over him or cater to him. I will not even bother to ask him how he managed during his period as an invalid. And at the rate we’re both going, I will crush his fucking ass in the gym and strongly suggest he hire trainer J for a few sessions to whip his ass back into shape.

And that makes me feel infinitely better and more upbeat about the situation. Balance in all things is so important.

Restorative yoga

I went to a restorative yoga class this morning in lieu of the gym. While not as vigorous or calorie scorching as running through a List of the day, it was hugely beneficial to calming the brain and talking mind back from the ledge.

Plus I got a good, deep hit of sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. Sleep truly is the great equalizer when I get out of sorts.

This workshop was different from other yoga courses I have taken in the past few years in that it was not hot. Since I started in a Bikram studio (which has since dumped the Bikram branding and does just “hot” yoga with same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises), every class or workshop has been in a heated room. Until today.

We also used all kinds of props – bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets, rolled up towels. I liked that the teacher used the word “shapes” rather than poses, because it sounded simpler to my ears and overtaxed brain this morning. The shapes were gentle – nothing at all like the yin class I wandered into last year – and the meditative aspect of it was just easier for me to grasp. Being told at the start of a shape to focus on breathing and then left to mostly silence other than very soft instrumental music and the sound of the teacher and assistant moving about worked really well for me. I still need to work on the breathing, but months and months ago I remember J describing the breathing as a “balloon belly” on the inhale and I focused on that. Hey, whatever works, right? And for once, it mostly did. Mind settled down, emptied, and body letting go of some of its tension and relaxing soon followed.

The workshop itself was longer than a typical class, with a lot more demonstration and explanation than one might get in a regular restorative yoga session. The teacher would have been a bit to new age woo for M, but for a single workshop it was okay for me. If this is what all classes are like I will adjust to the imagery cues presented. I am probably way too shallow for too much of this sort of mother earth and source of all things sort of cueing. At least he did not use all sorts of sanskrit; everything was “the shape we are pursuing …” instead.

I can truly see why they call yoga practice rather than workout or whatever other energetic sounding terms used for the gym, and I am 99.9% sure that’s why I tend to refer to my working Lists as practice. I know I need more of it if I ever expect to truly reap the benefits of yoga – once a week is going to take me awhile to master and delve deeper into the individual poses and benefits – but I only have so much time.

Which has also been a source of thoughtful pondering for me of late.

In my heart I know the gym will continue to be the heart and soul of my daily exercise, and something pretty dramatic will have to happen to deter me from my early morning practices. However, I have a great deal of flex in my daily schedule right now, and I could rework things to attend different classes in the early evenings. To date I have been going on Friday nights because it is the only 60 minute class at the Folsom studio I can schedule regularly. However, there are others in Granite Bay at 6:15 on Tuesday and Thursday, which would work for me, especially with the change in seasons and M not getting up at 3 a.m. to be out the door and running by 4 a.m. Wednesday nights there is a restorative class at 7:30, and I have already decided this is something I need to test drive, especially since they are not in the hot room of the studio.

As I age and become more dedicated to my resistance training with J and my Lists, I think retaining at least my present level of flexibility is going to become increasingly important. I put it that way because I have some anxiety/fear that I might not be able to increase it even with lots and lots of yoga and stretched. Time will tell, as they say. If I am not willing to give up gym time, I am going to have to compromise on my evenings for yoga/stretching time.

On the surface that sounds like such a sacrifice – another 3 hours per week devoted to exercise. How else do I spend my time, though? I dawdle. I web surf. I stare into space. I will get caught up in the news soundbites. If I am brutally honest about it, I am dawdling at nothing useful or productive or FUN for more than an hour every day.

When I started getting consistent with my gym time, I allotted a whole hour at the gym. Then it was an hour and 15 minutes. Then 90 minutes. Now I shoot for at least a 2 hour block, and I am not always successful. Whether I use it all or not is irrelevant; I just like having the option to charge ahead and go big and feel as if I did a lot of high-quality work when I leave the gym. As the months have passed I have learned it’s not that I do not have 2 hours for exercise but more that I need to prioritize it over other choices. Presenting it that way to mind, I feel far happier and look forward to the exercise. I believe the same is true make room for more stretching and flexibility pursuits. If I prioritize it appropriately, I will not feel like I am missing out on something else.

Balance, elusive balance. Right now I am just looking at schedules and trying to figure out what I can make work. Since I have no further distractions the balance of this year – everyone is married, vacation is over, work is just ebbing and flowing as work tends to do – now seems like the best time to try new things and see what sticks.

May I just say I am ridiculously excited to be back to normal next week? Training Monday and Thursday. Work from home day is now back to Tuesday (something else came up at the firm so this was my only week of Thursday non-office day – yay!). And hopefully no more gym weirdness closures like today, although it did work out that they made the decision for me about whether or not to take this workshop.

I am a simple soul. I just seem to enjoy the boring predicability of routines more than many others.

Happy Saturday everyone! Off to the office I go.

The week behind me and the return of negative girl

It has been quite a week.

My hour plus at the gym most mornings is my space to think about and process anything and everything. It’s me time at its finest. Unfortunately it is not always pleasant, fun, or positive. The past year I have grown stronger and more resilient in so many positive ways, but still, occasionally my thoughts are heavy and dark and negative. I think about the wrongs I failed to right, the hurts I have inflicted as well as endured, all the “shoulds” in my life. Not frequently anymore, particularly compared to most of the rest of the days of my life thus far but every now and again it sneaks up on me and blooms inside my head.

This weekend will be an all hands type weekend, where everyone is going to be in the office working on a case that has suddenly gone from dormant to white-hot in the span of 24 hours. With the separations and the HR carnage at the firm this week, I cannot seem to stop myself from feeling some guilt that we have fewer hands available to get through this short-fused deadline, one pair of which were both experienced and skillful in such matters. I am trying to utilize the tools I have been taught to shut down that line of thinking, because it only leads me to the edge of the rabbit hole of doubt, uncertainty, anxiety, and depression.

I have come too far to indulge myself with such dark thoughts.

But I acknowledge that it’s hard to push them away, to cease being hypnotized by the familiarity of negative girl’s vibe. Intellectually I completely understand that I am not responsible for the outcome of my coworkers terminations, although I was involved in the final decision-making process and there while their behaviors leading to this consequence were occurring. However, because I was so immersed in the events that crested to this point and emotionally wrung out over it, I am left feeling cracked and fragile. It is events of this sort that make me realize I do not have the stomach for big corporate life, where such skirmishes happen far more frequently and on a grander scale than my little firm. Perhaps we become desensitized to it, forgetting that real people with real careers are impacted by how their behaviors are perceived and received by others. I am not naive enough to believe such consequences only happen to the guilty and deserving, which makes it worse. But there are bullies in all walks and socioeconomic tiers of life and spread throughout the hierarchy of the workplace. My desire to keep the peace and maintain my own dignity and sense of fairness are rarely in conflict; I am predictable in choosing dignity and fairness over keeping the peace. This does not mean I ever like it and wish that peace, dignity, fairness could coexist everywhere 24/7.

Yep, that’s pollyanna spirit talking. I cannot seem to shut her up.

In the little pond that is my firm, I hold a position of authority. I dislike the word power, because it has negative connotations in this context. However, being a manager and a decision-maker, I have mixed feelings about my job and the responsibilities of leadership. Am I setting a good example? Am I abusing those around me for my own comfort and gain? Mostly I don’t think so, but the relief I felt when the terminations were decided by the bosses is impossible to deny. I know the more experienced 5 year associate will land on his feet; he is a perfect candidate for the dog-eat-dog environments of larger firms. The other guy? A near-perfect example of entitled millennial who needs to grow the fuck up in order to achieve his potential. I feel much less guilty about being part of this life lesson for him.

I know managing my mood is critical, because it is something that colors whole days and all swaths of my life. I felt negative girl’s breath on my neck this morning in my List of the day selection, repeating this week’s chest and front ab List because it very familiar and I could be well anchored to a single spot within the club. Neither of those things are bad; I did not feel like I was hiding out so much as not terribly energetic or interested in challenging myself. M used to tell me all the time to just do something, even if it were just a little something, every day. Trainer J offers a similar perspective. In my edgy, darker-tinted thoughts I feel negative girl trying to influence me, to suggest my thinking and my actions are flawed, an assault of the “shoulds” upon my heart and mind. This morning, it was that I “should” choose another workout that is both more challenging and more exhausting. I can feel that judgmental bitch trying to punish me for not getting enough sleep and the sleep I am getting not being restful. It is as if that aspect of my mind sees me as a rebellious, willful child that must be punished for transgressions.

I am battling back. I was at the gym. I successfully completed full sets of my List of the day plus the 8 TRX push-ups I am trying to master. These are an ongoing project, one that should be undertaken more successfully when I am not feeling so down and out and negative girl has been recaptured and contained.

While looking back at September’s distractions, from a purely practice perspective I understand how out of my routines I am and the impact it has on my headspace. Rational mind also knows it will take a couple of weeks for things to settle down and fall back into typical routines. Brain under the influence of negative girl is sure I’m about to quit training, quit going to the gym, be back injecting insulin before the end of the year.

My tools for reclaiming my head and turning off that negative noise is only kinda-sorta working. I was so busy tonight I did not leave work until after 8 p.m. and will be back at it tomorrow after my yoga workshop. Sunday is still kind of up in the air, but I’m pretty sure I will either be at the gym or at the gym and the pilates class. I am clinging to the routines and my Lists with both hands so I do not allow myself to become lost in the dark side of my head.

Mostly, I think a good long hit of sleep will help. I’m not going to work until noon tomorrow and Sunday, and I can sleep until at least 7:30 tomorrow. Many of my friends who have listened to my whining about work this week have suggested time away from the gym, maybe more sleep instead, but I believe the exercise is the only thing keeping me on the positive and flourishing side of the scale right now. If I were ill as in had a cold or something I would take that advice, but I’m fine, just feeling burned out and tired. At my core I am far more a shy introvert, and between the wedding socializing and the vacation socializing I just need a break where I do little other than my day-to-day tasks.

Sleep is the great equalizer, and despite the work schedule and the yoga workshop and getting in a practice on Sunday, I will be able to catch up on my rest.

And my reading as well. I still have a stack of books in my kindle that I’m working on, and I have been neglecting it this week and not shutting off my work thinking and letting it impact my sleep. Back to the books tonight.

I’m really glad it’s Friday and I hope you all enjoy a fabulous weekend, just in case I cannot get back to write this weekend.

Training #73 – Breathe again

Thursday morning, training with J. While I am still out of sorts from September’s distractions, I am on track back to normality. I am supremely aware and discombobulated by not being there immediately. Patience remains an elusive, improbable virtue.

So while not especially high-energy, over-the-top-enthusiasm this morning, I always love training days no matter what the circumstances in the rest of my life. I like getting to the gym, I like warming up, I like wondering what we will do today with happy anticipation.

And to be completely transparent: of all the posts I write for this blog, training recaps are my favorites. Because I have something to say. I have thoughts to share. Looking back months or even a year from now, I can see and feel measurable progress.

Today was a teaching day. J mixes things up and created a new List that is repetitive in some ways but very much cardio-based. And boy howdy does it take the breath away with that peppy pacing. All that entails:

Simultaneous Shoulder Press for Speed
Y Press for Speed
Alternating Cross Press with Pivot/Rotation

Simultaneous DB Curls for Speed
2-arm to Simultaneous Dumbbell Bent Alt. DB Rows
Alternating Dumbbell Side Laterals with a Contralateral Front Stride
Alternating Dumbbell Front Raises with a Contralateral Side Stride

Alternating Front Reaching Lunges
Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges
Alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges

Alternating Front Reaching Lunges with Press
Alternating Lateral Reaching Lunges with Press
alternating Posterior Reaching Lunges with Press
DB Power Squats

When I was reading this List for the first time, I read simultaneous shoulder press for speed and thought no, it was alternating and simultaneous, meaning one arm was going up while the other arm was coming down. Makes me smile to realize that if I were ever doing a List all on my own without going through it with J first, I would be doing it all wrong. These are a mostly known exercise, something we have done many times before, although never in a simultaneous and alternating state for speed. But it was good and I quickly got the hang of the peppier pacing and the one up, one down methodology.

The Y press for speed is a semi new one for me. We have done these on the TRX straps and I believe we have done them on the cable machine as well. With the dumbbells, it’s brand new. Not terrible, not too bad, even. If anything, I was mostly concerned with my shoulders, but there was not snap, crackle, or pop with the stuff we did today.

Another new one is the alternating cross press with pivot/rotation, which is very similar to another exercise on Monday’s List with the bands. So while new, not completely unfamiliar. It seems anything with a pivot seems complicated to me at first, and I typically go slowly to ensure I understand how it works, how it should be working, and to not get ahead of myself. I think this one is a favorite of all the new stuff today.

I mostly do better with the things I am familiar with, and simultaneous dumbbell curls for speed I have a good understanding of the basic form and concept and peppy simultaneous/alternating fashion of doing these.

The 2-arm to simultaneous dumbbell bent alternating dumbbell rows are bent over speed rows to simultaneous/alternating speed rows, so do 10 of these using both arms and then transition to the alternating version and do another 10 per arm. Again, I have a pretty good grasp on the form and how these work, but with my new focus on shoulders low and back I am paying extra attention to form going through them.

There was probably steam coming from my ears when we began the contralateral segment of our List today. For whatever reason, brain has a hard time with left leg/right arm and right leg/left arm exercises ala “deranged dog having seizure” yesterday. Today I must have put that bad boy down for a nap, because I mostly got the hang of these pretty quickly. The alternating dumbbell side laterals with contralateral front stride (sounds very smart and important and complicated on my List) went pretty well, once I got my focus on the left arm raises to the side as right leg steps forward, then reverse, 10 times per side. Once I got brain in sync with the left/right aspect of these, I liked them a lot.

Similarly, the alternating dumbbell front raises with contralateral side stride took a few tries to get the arms and legs that were to be teaming up and working together working. Something about stepping left but raising the right arm in front seems strangely complicated; brain kept having to be overruled and prevented from stepping to the left side and raising the left arm sideways. J is very smart for including pairing these with exercises I have mastered fairly well thus far, leaving plenty of focus to get the left/right right on these. He has pondered, very briefly, marrying them together into one big single exercise, but I think the amount of concentration it took me to get through individual sets of 10 made him table that for some future List.

We then embarked upon the lunging section of our List. First was the alternating front reaching lunges, which I rather enjoy these days. I think I must be accustomed to doing one leg at a time, because the first set J had to stop and remind me we were alternating, so I did 2 on the other leg to get in sync and then finished out the set.

Next up were the alternating lateral reaching lunges, which are never going to be my favorite and I cannot even tell you why. Maybe because I am simply not flexible? For whatever reason, I dislike these more than just about any other type or style of lunge. I always feel like a curtseying elephant trying to make get through these, even more so than the actual curtsey lunges.

Another new one for me today – alternating posterior reaching lunges. These were the most challenging exercise of the day, with it’s 180 step twist behind, do the reaching lunge, and then twist back up to the starting point. Peppy pacing? Not really happening right now, but the potential exists with some practice. I found myself thinking about everything from my starting position, to my pivoting foot on the 180 step, to how straight or how crooked the forward foot. I was definitely getting the hang of it after a few runs through it, but more practice is warranted to make it stick.

The next series included a overhead press at the top of the exercise. The alternating front reaching lunges with press went pretty well, and I began to sense a natural rhythm to the movement that made it all come together and make sense.

The alternating lateral reaching lunges with press – it is difficult to find a sense of timing with these, because it seems to me like the coming back to the upright position without falling over into the other direction takes my full concentration. However, I kind of like overhead press addition to these because it gives me enough focus to pause and center once upright and not let momentum carry me off balance.

For whatever reason, it is easier for me to find my timing and form with the alternating posterior reaching lunges with press than it is with the laterals. By the time we got to the end of these I had a natural sense of how to hold the weights and move fluidly into the overhead press, even if I did not always execute it mostly competently. But with practice I anticipate more fluidity and competence.

With the very light weights, dumbbell power squats are a lot of fun. When I have 35 lb. weights in my hands they are still satisfying, but in a completely different way. I need more experience to describe it better, but it just feels like I am so much lighter and faster whereas with the heavy weights I think of that power push to stand upright and imagine big giant muscles growing in minuscule little pieces at a time.

We did a lot today with a pair of 5 lb. dumbbells. This is all stuff I could easily do in a hotel room and the extra 10 lbs. in my rolling luggage would not be a huge, intense burden.

Trainer J suggested this is a great, quick practice when I am short on time; I could get through 2 sets of the entire List with only 30 minutes to practice. All day I have been thinking about that and how I could or might incorporate this List into my routines. I am realizing that I could do this one at home on Sundays after pilates. Or on Friday nights after my yoga class. Or just about anytime I feel like it and want to do some cardio.

I suppose my bigger concern would be doing it too frequently and stressing out my shoulders. But if the weights are light, the reps fairly reasonable (everything today was 10 or less per set), and it does go along pretty quickly. While I may not want to pursue this every single day, I would like to incorporate more cardio-based work into my practice days. Maybe 2 gym days paired with a non-shoulder focused List and Sunday with pilates? I am such a planner that I already know that when I run through this again on Sunday I will be checking the time as well as my heart rate on the fancy-smancy heart rate monitoring watch.

While J adapted this from a Scot Able workout, I enjoy the fact that he reads and researches workouts other trainers produce and adapts it for his clients. The source of the List matters less to me than my ability to learn and do the work safely and sanely.

In the second block with the laterals and the front raises, we experimented with some upright rows. Upright rows are not my friends, and they were discarded in favor of this final version. Today was a test kitchen experience, and I loved every single minute of it. Most of the time whatever makes the final cut for the List is fine with me, and frankly I really do not miss the upright rows. They tended to vex me with my shoulder shortcomings; my shrug tendencies remain and ongoing pay-attention-to-me type of component of nearly all upper body exercises. That and the stand tall, tight abs have become natural, automatic cues running through my head without J saying a word.

The trying exercises, trying other exercises, learning new versions of exercises I already know – this is part of why I love training days. J is not so rigid or robotic that the List as originally written is the final version – no editing allowed! It has never been like that with us, and I always appreciate the flexibility based on my evolving capabilities.

A friend from another blog emailed me about wrenching her back doing kettle bell swings. Sounds kind of horrible, because she will be unable to exercise or do much for the next few weeks at least. Since I only learned to do these a month or so ago and have been working at this exercise stuff for more than a year (versus her 6 weeks via YouTube videos), I asked her why she chose that particular movement to try. She said because it looked easy. How hard is it to bend up and down with the KB in your hands? How funny the differences in our perspectives. I always thought they looked really hard, because in my mind anything that looks like it might be easy is typically the most technically challenging thing ever. I truly hope she rests and gets to feeling better soon, and I also hope she engages a trainer for at least a few sessions so it does not happen again.

The conversations reminds me of how different our outlooks and views of the world are depending upon our experiences and level of comfort. Because DANG, cardio never looked or felt like what I did today. Next time I choose to undertake some kind of cardio challenge, I know just the List I will be working.

And because I like to talk diet while describing exercise, I have been eating a fair amount of crap this week. Stress eating does that to you. However, my snack food nemesis is not that bad; I have discovered the healthier popcorn in the snack aisles. Yeah, it is an imperfect food and snacking solution, but it’s better than other things I’d love to be eating. Between a 100 calories serving of skinny pop and a piece of fruit (been on a pink lady apple kick), I am doing pretty well on the afternoon snacking.

Meal planning and grocery shopping will happen this weekend, probably on Sunday. Things at the office are smoothing out and my private client workload is amping back up now that I am back in town and able to get organized.

I am super sized happy about today, though, because I love the novelty and different pacing and way this new List feels. While I am an born again exerciser, it still astonishes me how little I know after this much time of work and consistency with my practices. But it’s good astonishment. It means that there is still so much for me to learn and to master and that even with my stiff shoulders and the limits to their mobility, I am still healthy and capable.

Which is another thing … sorry, I keep thinking I’m done with my brain dump in this post and something else comes to mind. While we were in Reno at the air races I could not help noticing how many people around my age were in motorized chairs or wheelchairs or using canes and crutches. Nearly all were some level of overweight. This is a new behavior for me, noticing my peers and their level of obesity and how it correlates to lack of mobility. It is not me sitting in judgment of them and their lifestyle so much as it is me wondering how many more sedentary years it would have taken before I was the one in a motorized chair or walking with a cane or a crutch. The thought is sobering, and I do not believe that I am overthinking it or projecting an unrealistic scenario.

These kind of thoughts and visions do not compel me back to the gym determined to work even harder to ensure that fate never befalls me. But they do make me more thoughtful about how I pursue my exercise, the choices I make in how I exercise, how often, and how long. Going to the gym, running through a List of the day is likely to always be my first choice in exercise. Because I want to stay healthy and injury free, I will be in J’s training tribe for the foreseeable future, and I know I am happy about and comfortable with that and believe he is as well. Mixing that up with a weekly pilates class primarily for ab work keeps me from burning out on List of the day and being in the gym. Friday night yoga has me trying for more overall flexibility. I think, though, I need to add at least one more yoga class to my routine and am looking at my options.

To that end, and since the gym is closed on Saturday morning to install new air conditioning units, I signed up for a restorative yoga workshop at the studio I utilize. I have no idea what this will be like, other than the room will be heated and it’s not the typical Bikram 26 poses, 2 breathing exercises class. Perhaps I need to incorporate some flexibility into my lifestyle and routines as well and learn new things. Hopefully this will be a positive experience and not a mystical yoga-lite experience.

Maybe it doesn’t show in this recap post, but I’m super happy and feeling so excited from today’s training. Writing these recaps brings all the positive emotions and impressions back to me, and I get to ride the waves all over again. Being a test subject – maybe I am the wrong test subject, since I typically like most everything we do in training – I am very honest and straightforward about what I think and how I feel about new stuff introduced. I have also seen the effects of regular, consistent practice on movements I intensely disliked on the first of many attempts. Even now, I cannot say TRX push-ups are a favorite, and they were on the very earliest of Lists. Paying attention to the shoulder and hand position, I can feel improvement in my performance and competency. Still not a favorite, unlikely to ever be a favorite. But I have resolved to do at least 5 a few times per week off List to get better. Once I feel like I can perform this exercise with some basic level of uncorrected competency, I will be very happy, favorite or not.

At the end of this day, feeling this good, this happy, this satisfied about my whole day is what it’s all about. Exercise has become a primary thread in the fabric of my life, and it adds layers of peace and positivity that I never even suspected existed. Every training, every practice, every pilates or yoga class makes me a better, stronger, kinder and more clear-headed version of myself.

Sometimes I wish I had listened sooner when others told me this would happen. But as I think to myself every single morning, I’m listening now. My time is now, and it is not, was not too late to start when I did.

For that, the universe (and especially my village and my tribe) has my eternal gratitude.

Analyzing my emotions

I had a couple of nice conversations with my primary private clients today, and it was nice. The longest of these relationships was actually who referred me to my present firm and he knows my bosses quite well. While we were talking about the work I do for him and his firm and working out the schedule for this week and next with my transitioning to Thursday’s for self-employment work, the topic of what transpired did come up.

My client has the advantage of being 25+ years older and managed his own practice all that time and then some. Once upon a time he had partners and associates working for him, but since I have been doing his books his partners retired or left law completely and his associates have been 1099 employees that come and go depending on workload.

Because we have worked together for a very long time, he knows me pretty well from both a business and a personal perspective. We routinely have a year-end review lunch every year, where we talk about highs, lows, and areas for improvement in our workflow and habits. This is a professional relationship I value, and his opinions and thoughts on work-related issues carry a lot of weight with me.

Throughout the work drama this week I have had concerns that I am creating Mt. Everest out of the tiniest of anthills. Yet for me in my professional capacity, one of the worst blows is to be disrespected or minimized publicly. In private discussions, pooh-poohing or dismissing my concerns and opinions is not pleasant, but it is what it is and comes with the territory of being an employee versus a business owner. I have learned how to compartmentalize my emotions and ego in that regard. What happened this week (and last in my absence) … if they had physically slapped me I would not have been more surprised or angry.

I have spent the majority of my career in professional services firms of one stripe or another. No matter what sort of consulting service provided – law, accounting, environmental – the prevailing attitude is that if you are not a licensed professional or in a highly billable position, as an admin staffer your position is treated like animated furniture. Not by everyone, and most of the time people like their administrative staff as people. However, bottom line – most administrative time is not billable and therefore cuts into profits and therefore is always expendable. The unspoken component of the attitude is that the job is meaningless fluff, and not only surviving but thriving in such an atmosphere has turned me into a bit of an activist.

So I asked my client for his thoughts, his honest thoughts after I explained what had happened and how it made me feel. What he said:

  • Millennials have issues with their own sense of importance. Add to that being lawyers, smart lawyers, and you have strong potential for egotistical ass.
  • For my part, he says I am a bit too laid back, especially with lawyers. I need to get my assertive on and stay in front of them if I do not want them pushing me to the flashpoint of frustration and reacting to them.
  • While I have good organizational skills and instincts about people, I need to make them earn more of my respect and favor, or risk being perceived – incorrectly – as a weak or ineffectual leader. In other words, I am far too nice and need to demonstrate and wield my authority right from the start. Acting like a boss even when I do not have to is the only way to win this battle of wills.

Again, I hate being a manager. I hate being a boss. Yet most of the time I know I am good at it, because without me in my job, things could and would likely be a lot less pleasant at my firm.

But he did not feel I made Mt. Everest out of a tiny little anthill. My bosses bungled this and deserved to be the ones delivering the mea culpa. However, had I been more of a hard-ass on the front end the problem would likely not have escalated. Perhaps. I pushed as hard as I felt I could with the bosses about announcing the new office space plans and office assignments. This is a new boundary in our professional relationship and it has been enlightening.

About me and my own emotions and abilities at managing them, I know there seems to be a hot and a cold setting for me. Either I care a lot about something and am willing to give it my all, or I feel some graduated level of indifference. It’s why I am not a good teacher. While I really do want people to be happy and to be successful, too often we each fall short in our efforts to achieve that. My expectations are too high, or I cannot express myself clearly enough to impart whatever concepts I am trying to express.

Essentially, I suck at teaching. coaching, training others. I am kind of a sink or swim person, and if you are engaged, ask questions, listen to my answers, and learn … we will get along fine. Many sort of falter at that, and I believe at least 50% of the problem lies with me. I lack the special spark that makes me motivate people to action or to try to be better. And that’s okay. This is why there are jobs where that particular talent is not a requirement.

I care very deeply about my work and those I work with. Because of that, I am willing to go above and beyond to ensure the firm and those it employs are successful. This is true even for the spoiled brats. I want them to not be spoiled brats. I want them to grow the fuck up and go forth and have amazingly successful careers. But despite what their parental units have told them, it does take hard work and paying the dues to climb up and into the amazingly successful careers.

Or at least it does in the world I live in right now.

Anyone would be upset about the silly drama that unfolded and was sitting on my desk like a big pile of steaming poo when I returned. What concerns me is whether or not I need to locate the off/on switch for my emotions to keep them in check to retain my professionalism. Or maybe I simply need to suspend whatever judgmental instincts I possess. I am mostly unsettled by the whole dust up despite today being a perfectly normal, peaceful, productive day. It’s been awhile since I have been blindsided and made that angry about work. I hate that it happened.

Maybe if I could make myself care less life would be easier. But if my job were easy someone else would likely be doing it.