How did I ever pack before Packing Cubes??

Today I packed for my trip to Oregon.  I must say, I am a huge fan of packing cubes.

Omg. I love these things. Here is a week’s worth of stuff, including beach clothes all ready for the suitcase.

IMG_1852

When I get to the hotel, my pajamas and robe and all the stuff I need for a shower is in one bag. My hoodie and long pants and long sleeved shirts and jeans are in another bag. My underwear is another little one. Shorts and tops in another one. Shoes in the red one. All I have to do tomorrow is pack toiletries and my ukulele and I’m done.

I love how, if I have to open my suitcase in a public place or if, god forbid, my suitcase were to break open, all my stuff would not come tumbling out all over the place. I would just have to pick up 5 neatly organized bags.

I throw an empty one in and use it for laundry, and when I get home, I just take my bag to the washer and dump it in.

You can get them here:

http://www.ebags.com/category/travel-accessories/packing-aids/packing-cubes/b/ebags?lastSearchTerm=ebags+packing+cubes&pl=hdr_srch_as_l1

The reviews of these things sold me. There isn’t a bad review in the bunch. The medium-sized ones are by far the most versatile.  People get positively rhapsodic over these things, and now I totally understand their rhapsody.

I deeply appreciate things that are beautifully designed for function as well as aesthetics. And while packing cubes might not be beautiful objects, their function certain is.

(The last time I got so excited about a thing was after I spent $80 on a dish drainer. I still love and appreciate that dish drainer, by the way. I reviewed it here.)

But aside from packing cubes, I am getting so happy thinking that in 2 days I will get to see my little Obie and my daughter and son-in-law. They are in the throes of buying a house right now and things are getting difficult and frustrating and annoying.

I am really hoping that our being there will help and support them. They were hoping that all this house stuff would be resolved by the time we got there, I know, but stuff happens.

It’s the way of stuff. Life is just stuff and stuff and more stuff. We can’t control stuff, the only thing we can control is how we respond to it, right?

 

 

 

“I” is for Idle

“I would NEVER be sitting on the couch reading a book now, if I was home,” said G, just now.

“I would be out finishing the fence or cleaning the garage or walking Boomer or …”

Why is that? Why don’t we let ourselves rest, relax and re-set when we’re home? Why do we have to “get away” to be idle?

(I was just reminded of that line in the Mary Oliver poem, “A Summer’s Day” in which she said, and I am paraphrasing here, “I don’t know what a prayer is, but I do know how to be idle and blessed.”)

Idleness incubates creativity. It’s a fact. That’s why you should let your kids be bored. 

Often. 

It will force them to encounter who they really are, and come up with ways to amuse themselves that will show them what they love to do. 

The same thing with grown ups. Don’t mow the lawn or fix the fence or check Facebook. Let yourself be bored. Then watch what you do. Don’t do chores or work or check your phone. Then prepare to get squirrely. Hang in. Eventually you will gravitate to something. 

Maybe you will go for a run or pick up a novel or a sketchbook or your pen and your journal. Maybe you will scratch around in your garden–not because it needs to be weeded, but because you love to play in dirt.

When people tell me they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, I say, “Watch what you do when you procrastinate.” Do you play your ukelele? Do you try out a new recipe?

Today G and I woke up early and went out to the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. We rode bikes and saw roseate spoonbills and cormorants drying their wings in the sun.

An alligator blocked our path. Uh-oh.

 

Back at the condo we napped and read and talked and showered. Apparently, when left to our own devices, we like to have adventures outside, and then reflect on them. We like to talk, and then be quiet, and then eat and sip interesting beverages. *grin*

I like to do this blog. It has become a source of real pleasure lately. I was forcing myself to post every day back in March, and now there is no forcing.

So, today has been brought to you by the letter “I” for Idleness. I hope you find some for yourself. It would be lovely to know how idleness enriches you.

 What do you do to be idle and blessed?

It Took You Long Enough

No hat. No gloves. No coat. No socks, even.

I walked Boomer through campus and everyone’s head was up. People are smiling at me again. They ask to pet Boomer. They want to hug her. They want her to lick them. But she doesn’t.

Unless they smell like food.

I grilled chicken breasts on the grill tonight.  I  cooked without a coat. Without gloves. Without socks.

Some of the windows were open in Butler and the sounds of horns practicing wafted across campus.

Everything is on the verge.

I wear sunglasses, and a white yoga top and capris. Shoes with no socks.

No down. No wool. No scarf. No hat.

If I wasn’t running late, I would have walked.

It is time to start waking up earlier now.  I want more day because the days are playing nice now.

Finally.

Hello spring.

It took you long enough.

 

 

A Few Things That Made Me Happy This Week

1. Today it was sunny and in the 40s (omg,  my face didn’t hurt when I walked outside!)

2. And G’s wheatgrass is up!

wheatgrass

3. I did a private Beginner Yoga lesson today with a delightful woman who came in with a new mat (the absolutely worst mat she could have gotten, but oh well, she didn’t know.) And a matching yoga towel and a matching water bottle.

She said she didn’t know what to wear so she asked Siri. That made me laugh. I would have never thought to ask Siri what to wear to yoga, and now I am going to think about it the next time I am in any clothing dilemma.

(I can’t think of the last time I was in a clothing dilemma, though. I probably need to get out more.)

4. I am reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before which is about mastering habits. It is freaking me out how alike we are. She did NaNoWriMo on a lark–so did I. She learned Scrivener to make her writing life easier–so did I.  But though I have some strong “Upholder” qualities, I am mostly an “Obliger” in her system.

She says there are 4 basic types of people when it comes to habits: Upholders, who meet other people’s expectations  as well as their own; Obligers who meet other people’s expectations, but not their own; Questioners, who question all expectations; and Rebels who resist all expectations. It’s fascinating, and a fun read. I love these kinds of books about habits, and the creative process, and how the mind works, and sane business strategies, and what motivates people. Can’t get enough of them. (And I have a whole stack of them at my elbow.)

5. I also got a kick out of this Clive Thompson talk about writing with a pencil versus writing on a keyboard. It made me remember my January retreat when I would go back and forth between the 2. (It also made me buy a box of Blackwing pencils and a sharpener!) In a weird moment of synchronicity, the day after I watched this talk, Shelly Clark came to class with a pencil holder filled with pointy Blackwing pencils for us to write down our intentions for yoga class.

6. On my way to Wegmans yesterday for my weekly shopping I listened to the James Altucher podcast in which he interviewed Maria Popova of Brainpickings.org. I loved her distinction between writing “content” on her blog and “substantive” writing. Her blog is an incredible resource for readers and if you are a reader you should check it out. I have found countless gems there.

These things made me happy this week, despite my prana depleted, de-caffeineated, itchy, dragon-eyed, still-snowy-in-March-what-the-fuck situation.

What made you happy this week? Any good finds or happenings? Refrain from sending sunny pictures of flowers, or palm trees, or green grass, though. I’ve seen enough of that on Facebook and it’s really enough, people. Have some sensitivity.

Pathagon

Yesterday I bought a new game for us at the kid toy store. It’s called Pathagon, (which I keep calling “Pathogen.”) It is a strategy game in which you try to build a path from one end of the board to the other as your opponent tries to block you.  It’s not as complicated as chess, but complicated enough, and it kept me interested and engaged. (It is designed for ages 6 and up, so it can be played on a lot of levels.)

Pathagon

G set it up on the coffee table last night, and today, as we ate our lunch we played a “test” game to see how it worked. It was fun, but what was even better is that it brought us back in touch with one another as we played.

As the game progressed, there were quiet moments in which I noticed that I was really there with her. Not just physically, but I was focused on trying to see the board through her eyes. It would give us both an advantage if we could pull that off.

When the game ended, we were still in that intimate “seeing through the other’s eyes” headspace. We started talking about  certain life strategies and problem-solving strategies as they pertained to our individual work. The game had created a bridge for us to do that.

There was also something keenly pleasant about manipulating the game pieces in my hand. In between moves, while studying the board, I would twirl the smoothly sanded pieces of hexagonal wood in my fingers and it helped me think. The pieces fit so beautifully between the pegs.

There is something qualitatively different between between playing a game on a board and playing on the computer.

Between writing on a keyboard and writing with a pen.

Between sending a text and sending a note.

Between sitting on the couch watching a movie together and watching your partner figure out how to make a path to the other side.

We are what we love.

We are what we love. It’s as simple as that. If we do the things we love, we show our real selves to the world. If we show our real selves to the world, that will give us the best shot at living a happy life.

So try it.

Start making a list of all the things you love.

Include everything: people, places, states of mind, activities, food and drink, objects, times and seasons, nature and senses.

Nothing is too trivial.  If you love it, list it.

Dryer lint.

The little spit sink at the dentist.

Mallow cups.

Getting a letter in the mail.

The more things on the list, the better. Get subtle. Get nuanced:

Looking down at the ground from a plane.

The faces of kids in line to see Santa.

The smell of viburnums.

List it all out. List out at least 100 things. Keep the list on your phone and add to it as you think of more and more things. Add to this list for your whole life.

List out all the things you dislike or hate, too:

Shaving.

Parallel parking.

Snakes.

Try to get at least 50 things on this list. We are also the things we don’t like.

Why do this?

Because when you know what you love, you know who you are. You have self-knowledge. This self-knowledge allows you to make conscious choices about who you hang out with, what you do for work, and how you recreate.

If you know you love the outdoors and talking face-to-face with people (because you have these on your list) you’re less likely to take a cubicle job in a call center. You might not know what your ideal job is, but at least you won’t make that mistake.

Your list can function as your “true north.” You can consult it whenever you feel bewildered, or have to to make thorny decisions.

It is incredibly helpful to have a printed list of who you are, because even though we think we know these things, we forget. Then we get lost. And then we make really big mistakes from this lack of self-knowledge.

Mistakes which might have been avoided if we had just consulted our list. It’s like forgetting to get the milk because  you thought you’d remember. You should have put it on the list, dummy.

We frequently forget that we are a complex composite of all the random and incongruent things we love. We forget that if we want to be happy, we can’t forget the milk.

If our friends and our work and our fun activities are all aligned with the things we love, that is our best shot at being happy.

That’s why we need to put it on the list.  So we’ll remember.

list pic

10 Things I Am Loving Right Now

NOW I’m happy again.

The weather has turned beautiful and all my worries about “Will the flowers ever bloom again?” have been assuaged. People, the flowers are blooming! Got $100 worth of annuals to plant (after Memorial Day).

I am sleeping with the window open at night.

The dog went wading in the creek.

I haven’t been on my bike yet, or out in the kayak, but it’s coming, it’s on the list (not that I keep that kind of list.)

The Yoga Challenge was so wonderful and so sweet and all 10 people who started, finished.

I am getting my personal practice back, too, and my wrist is pretty good. I still can’t do Crow, but I’m getting close. Headstand is back. Downdog is awesome. I can vinyasa with the best of them.

A friend of mine got a new car the other day. A nice car. An expensive car. And while we were talking, he said, “You know, even though I am tickled with this car, it’s just a thing.”

And I got that. “The best things in life, aren’t things.”

Yeah. Amen to that.

But I do appreciate certain things: helpful things, well designed things, inspiring things, delicious things.

So I thought I would list what I am appreciating right now, thing-wise.

Travis Eliot Short and Sweet

I have Travis Eliot’s “The Ultimate Yogi” and it is great, no question, but it takes close to 2 hours to do, and I just don’t have that. I really love this Short and Sweet DVD. 30 minutes. Bam. Done. Excellent.

http://www.totalfitnessdvds.com/Yoga-Short-and-Sweet-with-Travis-Eliot-p/2093.htm

Habit Master App

Here are the “things” I try to do every day: Meditate, Write, Yoga, Drink a green drink, Get in 10K steps on my Fitbit, Hold Plank, Do Wall sits, and take my Supplements. I use HabitMaster on my phone to track my streaks on all these things. I can set daily, weekly or monthly goals on this, but so far I only have daily ones. It’s cool. I like it.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/habitmaster/id430553435?mt=8

Chess

I am teaching myself to play Chess. I need to keep the gray matter active. To that end I bought myself this chess set and it is now permanently installed on my coffee table. I am also reading chess books. I am finding it very difficult. And this is a good thing.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0040ZWV4E/ref=oh_details_o01_s02_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It Starts With Food

My friend Sandy is dealing with a goiter on her thyroid gland. She recently went to a holistic naturopath who is also an MD who recommended she follow the diet in this book. Since I am a Health Coach, I am naturally curious about all diets, so I bought this book and have been trying to follow it. It is a lot like Paleo, only much stricter. The authors recommend you go on a Whole Foods only diet for 30 days. They call it Whole30. I think it is solid.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936608898/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Bali Coffee

When we were in Bali last summer we went to the plantation where they grow the Kopi Luwak. A luwak is a civet cat that eats coffee cherries, and then poops them out. They gather the poop and make coffee out of it. Best coffee I have ever tasted. We brought some back and drank it right up. But we also brought back just plain old Balinese coffee, which is A LOT less expensive. It’s been sitting here. The other day I broke into it. Oh my goodness. Heaven. This link  is not the place I got mine, but I’ll bet it’s great.

http://www.coffeebean.com/bali-blue-moon-coffee/d/1064

Soma Water Filter

I saw Tim Ferris endorse this and got it. It’s really beautifully designed in terms of form and function and I hope to someday get rid of my Culligan dispenser. (I suspect my Culligan water is from the Delaware municipal water supply anyway.)

https://www.drinksoma.com/carafe

Zentangle

I got this for Christmas and although I am not a really expert Zentangler, I love it. I have to sit and listen to lots of lectures as part of my Integrative Health coaching education as as I listen, I do this:

IMG_0711

 

I find it fun, meditative and relaxing.

http://www.zentangle.com/

Simple Human Dish Rack

Slimy dish drainers are gross. Dish drainers that don’t drain properly are a daily annoyance. It’s the little, everyday things that are crappily designed that bug me. I find myself complaining, “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a dish rack that works!” I sound like my grandmaw. So a few months ago I saw this dish rack at Bed Bath and Beyond and went, “Wo.” It has a freaking wine glass rack! And a knife block! This thing is so well designed I couldn’t resist. It’s $80, though. Which is cah-RAZY!! Are you NUTS?? 80 bucks for a dish drainer??? Yup. Bought it. I love it every single day. So much pleasure.

http://www.simplehuman.com/steel-frame-dishrack-with-wine-glass-holder-fingerprint-proof-stainless-steel-grey

Insight Timer App

This app not only times my meditation, but keeps track of my “stats.” I like the feature where you can see who is meditating with you around the world, as well as nearby.  I like the gongs that get me started and end it.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/insight-timer-meditation-timer/id337472899?mt=8

Jicama

This is my latest “food find.” Who knew? Love this stuff. Pronounced “hick-a-ma” is has the consistency of a water chestnut, but it’s sweet. So far I have only used it as a crudite, but you can stir fry it or steam it. I cut it into sticks and ate it with my tuna salad the other day. It was delicious!

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://img4.cookinglight.com/i/2009/03/0903p22-jicama-m.jpg%3F300:300&imgrefurl=http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/jicama-00400000040558/&h=225&w=225&tbnid=VwVrxlpcyPmvZM:&zoom=1&tbnh=186&tbnw=186&usg=__6mAz0BcWpRYK5-2yfzeDSS_HfOE=&docid=NSN7Tk1DoSKjDM&itg=1&sa=X&ei=4uF0U46qCsy-sQT0t4KYCA&ved=0CKcBEPwdMAo

So this is what is amping my vibe in “thingdom” these days. What am I missing out on? What are you loving these days?