Happy Noticings

I’ve started a “Happy Noticings” section to my daily planner to keep me on the alert for things that please me during this season of drek.

Shoes.

I’ve been especially appreciating my shoes lately. Especially these Gore-tex trail runners from Brooks I got in the fall. They keep my feet warm and dry out on the trails with Stella. I wear them every day unless there’s deep snow. (They’re the pair on the right in the picture above.) I’ve splashed through muck and water and slush in them and my feet stay completely dry.

Love them

https://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/brooks-running-shoes-ghost-11-gtx-womens/120276.html

I also love the pair on the left, but sadly, I don’t think Adidas makes them anymore. They’re insulated boots that keep my feet super warm in snow. I don’t wear them in deep snow, and they don’t have terrific traction, but even still, I do love them and they look stylin’ to boot.. Bonus.

On dry days, for going out, or to-and-fro from the studio, I love my Allbirds. I have them in charcoal, black, and red. They’re made of wool and I can wear them with or without socks. They are coziest shoes I’ve ever owned. Stella chewed the laces on my new black ones the other day and I was NOT PLEASED. A few months ago a woman in the Verizon store asked me about them and I took them off in the middle of my iPhone transaction and let her try them on. I can get a little too excited about stuff I love.

https://www.allbirds.com/

Blogs

Actually, just one blog. This one:

https://fromthepencup.wordpress.com/

This is pen porn. And paper porn. And planner porn. When I first found it, I lost 2 hours in her archives on a day when I did not have 2 hours to lose.

If you love pens and stationary stores and notebooks and planners and pencils and ink, ohmygod.

I now follow her, but part of me is afraid to go into my Reader each day for fear she will have posted something new and I will be sucked down the rabbit hole again. Nobody should get this excited about pens.

Not a blog, but this article in the NYTimes made me so happy. It was so funny and so true and so wonderfully written I immediately went on Amazon to see if I could pre-order her next book, How to Raise A Reader, and did. Then while I was there, I also ordered her memoir, My Life With Bob. She’s the editor of the New York Times Book Review and this piece about boredom, and her advocacy for it, is terrific.

And it’s going to pair so well with the next book my book group is reading, At my suggestion we’re going with Cal Newport’s latest, Digital Minimalism. I haven’t started it yet, but I was a part of his Digital Declutter experiment last year. I blogged about it and gave a my weekly Recap HERE.


So those are a few things that have been making me happy this month. What has been lighting up your life? Please share! I so appreciate finding wonderful things, especially now, when winter seems like it will never end.

This Blog Is Ten Years Old

This blog is 10 years old this month. 

Who knew??

I didn’t even realize it until yesterday.

I was reading through the archives of a blog I just discovered. The author’s archives went back to 2012. 

It made me wonder how far mine went back, so I checked.  

And lo and behold, February of 2009 was my debut here. And I have amassed close to 700 posts. 

When I first started, the idea here was that I would be on the lookout for things that inspired me, and then write about them. Thus the title, Inspiration Location. 

That didn’t last long, though. After a while I just found myself writing about whatever I was obsessing about at the moment, inspiring or not. 

Now the idea is to chronicle my thoughts as I tend my streaks and develop my projects. 

Back in 2016 I self-published a little book called The Project-Driven Life. It’s basically tips and tricks for finding out who you want to be when you grow up. It involves tending streaks and completing projects. 

 My next project is a book called The Yoga of Everything and I have  started maintaining some streaks that will help get it finished: writing 1K words daily, reading, meditating, and blogging here once a week.

But, back to that new-found blog. 

Whenever I find a new blog, the first place I go is to the About page.

I want to know: Who is this person? Where do they live? How old are they? What do they do besides blog? Do I have anything in common with them?

I want to see their picture. I want to know a little of their backstory.

I don’t have an About page currently. I changed WordPress themes recently and forgot to include one. 

Maybe that’s a lie. 

Maybe I didn’t forget. 

Maybe it’s just that I hate writing About pages. They never seems to fit me and they keep going out of date as my life morphs and changes.

For example, if I say I’m a 66 year-old yoga teacher living in northern Pennsylvania, is that an accurate description? It’s true, of course, but is it my true deal? 

I don’t think so. 

What if I say: I’ve been writing every day in personal journals for over 40 years?

 Now, that might be getting closer.

I think it’s because if you’re the kind of person who writes down your thoughts every day, and keeps doing it obsessively for decades, you’re defined by that activity.

We are what we repeatedly do. ~Aristotle

 And you also find out that you’re that weirdo that needs to write down your thoughts every day. 

But seriously, a journal is a place you go to describe yourself, analyze yourself, contemplate yourself. 

In words. 

And then, if you do a strenuous amount of editing, take out all the gibberish, remove the nonsense, and give your words a beat to dance to, voila, you have yourself a post. 

Which is basically what I do here.

And have been doing for 10 years, apparently. 

If you’ve been following along here, for however long. Thank you. It makes me really happy to have readers.  So onward!

Persistently. With reverence. For a long time. ~Patanjali

The Yoga Of Dog Training

Shortly after we got Stella, I had an epiphany watching some corgis on an Instagram account I follow called Alfuku. 

The owners of these corgis are Japanese, and naturally they talk to their corgis in Japanese. 

When I heard them interact with these dogs, I had no idea what they were saying. But these corgis sure did. 

These dogs are beautiful and funny and trained. They know all kinds of tricks. They even dance in competitions with their owners, weaving in and out of them to music. It’s amazing.

But my epiphany watching them respond to commands in Japanese was— and everyone who has ever trained a dog, will go, “Duh” when I say this,— is that these dogs don’t understand the Japanese language, or any other language, for that matter.  They’ve just learned to decode sound patterns.  

They’ve translated what sounds to me like: ichi washi goobahya into: Bring the rubber chicken here, and drop it at my feet.

Once I fully grasped this, I consciously started monitoring my speech for brevity and consistency when I talked to Stella. No color commentary, no reasons, no verbal expressions of exasperation or complicated feelings and needs.  I needed to shut up, keep all that to myself, and just say,  Come! 

Same with body language. No dancing Shiva arm movements, no fancy footwork. If she was trying to decode me, I needed to send as clear a signal as possible.

One thing that makes Stella easy to train is her attentiveness. She makes eye contact. She seems to be trying to read me. 

When I ask her a question, or, more accurately, when my voice goes up at the end: “You wanna go for a walk?” She cocks her head to one side, as if to say, “What?” 

Then, if I put on my shoes and grab her leash, and always repeat those same sounds every time before a walk, “You wanna go for a walk?” is basically ichi washi goobahya except instead of fetching a rubber chicken, she gets to go outside with me.

My latest project is trying to train her to know the distinction between “Stay With” and “Stay Close.”

I want her to understand that when I say, “Stay With” she should stay within a close proximity to me, maybe 30 yards. I should always be able to see her, and she, me. 

I use Stay Close to mean what most dog trainers mean by “Heel.”  I want Stay Close to mean, “keep exact pace with me.”  

This training has been eye-opening. I have to be totally present and aware of what I’m doing in order to be effective.

 It’s a lot like practicing yoga. I can’t multi-task. I can’t make random, mindless movements or jibber-jabber to her in meaningless paragraphs of mouth noise. 

If I want the signal to be read, I have to reduce the noise. I have to breathe, slow down, make eye contact, be patient, be willing to fail, and try again. And again. I have to make it fun. I have to have treats on me at all times.

Dog training means paying attention to what I’m doing, and what she’s doing, and finding ways to connect.  I have to witness myself and I have to witness her. I have to create a relationship.

When I’m walking alone, without the dog, it’s different. I can and do carry on long conversations with myself, out loud. 

I used to get embarrassed if anyone caught me doing this, but now, in the age of wireless headsets, everyone appears to be talking to themselves as they walk along, anyway.

Yesterday Stella and I were walking on the Hike and Bike trail.  This is where I like to practice stay with, and stay close with her. She had her short, lightweight drag-along leash attached to her collar but I wasn’t holding on to it. 

 It was sunny and warm and I found myself striding along, happily talking to myself about my usual nonsense when I realized I’d lost track of her. And myself.

But thankfully she hadn’t lost track of me. There she was, up ahead, waiting for me to catch up. She was doing a great job of staying with. Whereas I had strayed. I had lost her. And myself. To thought.

Dogs teach us so more than we teach them, if only we would stop thinking and just observe them.

A long time ago I wrote this poem to another dog:

Shasta

My dog knows the universe with his nose,

sips the air for the scent of leaving

after the doorlock clicks.

I spend each day practicing to do

what he does:

Follow my senses,

observe the wind, 

respond to the sense of soil

and not to the flowering of each

fantasy, each upturned rock

of memory.

My pet, 

my guru, 

my teacher on a leash.

From the passing pick-up

it looks as if I am walking you,

but I am the student

following you each morning

from tree

to bush, 

probing the world of gravel

and weed, 

learning the proper response

to air, the infinite 

logarithms of light,

the script of sound

far beyond my range.