Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Down the rabbit hole


So I've been having way too much fun with my marketing assignment.  Lol that might be a first — and this is my *cough* fourth degree, so that’s saying something ;).  And no, it's prob not actually a first, but a rarity at least. 


So here’s the thing — it started with “create a persona” — which, let’s be honest, is just creative writing.  So I was moderately entertained doing that.  But then you need data to back up all the details of your persona.  


This is Sarah, my persona.  
Turns out Marketing papers can include pictures!


Now usually I hate finding sources.  I always write my paper first and then look for other people who’ve said roughly the same thing (let’s be honest, for better or for worse, you can find research to support pretty well any opinion you want).  And I pretty bitterly resent the fact that somebody else saying it legitimizes it, but me saying it isn’t good enough.  I am totally fine with it when they do actual work to prove it though.  lol - a lot of these are science-based research, in that case, I'm all for it. Proof for the win!   But when I was writing English papers and it was their opinion about a dead guy's writing vs mine...   Really?  Less interested.  Arguably if they already thought of it, it meant to me that my paper wasn't creative or interesting enough.  lol I had some interesting debates with my profs in uni.


Anyways -- I was somewhat confused why I was enjoying this one so much, until I realized it’s very similar to when I was writing and went down random rabbit holes to ensure the accuracy of some obscure, likely to be cut in the editing process, detail.


For instance — the first part of the persona needs to be “A day in the life”.  Cool, flash fiction 101 - no problem.  Had to keep it marginally reality based, my “semi-fictional” persona couldn’t stumble upon a magic coffee shop, or find an air-conditioned cape on a hot day, but other than making for a remarkably boring story it’s the same premise.   But then, anything that you’ve stated in the story, needs data to back it up.   AND data goes in footnotes, which means it doesn’t go against my word count, which means Win!


Lol so let’s see….  She wakes up, rolls over, and turns off her alarm on her phone.   Okay - well CRTC says 90% of Canadian’s have cell phones.  Win.  She gets up and dressed, and on her way down the stairs pounds on the doors of her daughter (age 14) and son (age 12).    Oh so much there — I had the average age a woman is when she has her first child (hint - in Canada it’s 28) and did the math to validate daughter’s age.   Average number of children.  Sleep cycles and circadian rhythms in teenagers and impact on their parents.


You get the idea.  So far my google hole searches have found such things as:

  • Sleep patterns in adolescents 
  • Most popular Canadian sports for boys
  • Top selling high end vehicles
  • Motivations for participation in equestrian sports
  • Use of internet in higher-income households
  • Commuting within Canada’s largest cities
  • Commensal eating patterns (this was to justify my persona having lunch w a girlfriend to vent about work/family/etc)
  • Eating out - how often and why
  • “Fertility — Fewer children, older moms” - seriously, that's what the stats can article was called
  • Average number of pets in households where at least one person rides (in Ontario it’s 1.8 dogs and 2.5 cats.  I’m not even kidding - I found the stat for that.  Well, as of 2010 anyways ;)
  • Body Image Distortion in women
  • Productive laziness?!?!   This sounded like it would be awesome.  It was not.  And arguably more applicable to my ops paper than my marketing one.
  • Physical and mental impact on working mothers
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Impact of exercise on stress
  • Impact of animals on stress levels
  • Equine Assisted Therapy

Admittedly the sources I need to have in the next section of the paper are the far more traditional text-book marketing theory type references, but this section was all kinds of entertaining.   Also my max 3000 word paper is currently sitting at nearly 6000 words - but thanks to the magic of footnotes, I only really have to cut about 400 of them ;).  And, well, 10% margin, so really, 100 of them.  That's not even a challenge (to put in perspective, I cut nearly 800 words from my first draft of my ops paper).   But that game is for tomorrow Lauren to play.


Spanish spin cycle

Some days...

Had a great Spanish lesson today, but was moderately amused how I swing wildly in degrees of capability and frustration.  Lol like today were talking about significant social issues in Colombia (well everywhere really) -- crime, corruption, and poverty, and what things could be done to break said cycle.  All very good and moderately interesting if not super cheerful.   And then I remember the last time I was in CR (right before the world shut down) and couldn't remember the word for "knife" when I needed more cutlery *sigh*. lol my practical vocabulary swings wildly.

But what I desperately need is conversation and listening practice and I did get that, so deeming it a win.   Why do I need listening practice?  Well I was slightly annoyed w myself the other day when I looked up lyrics to a song I was enjoying in Spanish and realized I knew pretty well all of them, but hadn’t been able to identify any while listening.  *sigh*.  So yeah - definitely need *all* the listening practice (uh and speaking - I figure my speaking is a solid 2 levels below my reading).

On the flip side, lacking anything “real” to read, I picked up one of my learner novels that’s B2 (the level I’m theoretically in as long as I don’t need to talk ;) and was super pleased that I’m finding it quite easy to read.  Esp as I vividly recall not *that* long ago really struggling with the A2 series...  


So pluses and minuses I guess ;).  Trying to focus on the wins and drag the minuses along by sheer stubbornness ;).  Esp as my available time and brain capacity for Spanish study is drastically reduced these days due to the MBA.  Ah well, poco a poco...

Why you should never look through a writer's search history

So I drafted this post way back in 2013, when I was still writing regularly -- it was an ongoing list I figured I'd post someday...   I guess I didn't really expect at that time to stop writing.   And then by the time I realized I had, it was out of date.

This brought back fun memories

But I saw this floating around online the other day and it reminded me of this draft post.   And when I looked at it, it made me realize it was all from one story.  So from way back when, things I had googled recently:

How to hire a hitman
How much does a hit cost
How do snakes kill
What happens when you have multiple snakes together
How big is a burmese python - how long, how heavy
Can you suffocate a snake
How long does acute stress disorder last
What is the slang term for a gay man who's never had sex with a man
How much does it cost to rent an exotic car
What insurance is involved
What kind of cars can you rent
What guns are most often used in russian roulette
What is involved in basic training
Correct way to stand at attention
Interrogation techniques
Psychology of interrogation 
How fast does the average person run
Public storage lockers  (did you know you can't store a corpse?)
Training schedule for 10 k run
Fitness goals for men
Staff fighting (I never thought it could be made boring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTKU83nJEMk)  101: http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/pole.html   Advanced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHvvEKpkLw4
All about guns
Female assassins in comic books (I was amazed how many there were!)
Parapsychology, telepathy
Mind control drugs
What does a gunshot wound feel like?
Micro-meditation
TOR (aka how to hire a hitman and other various criminal activities online)   Creepy. 
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/tor-assassins-and-hitmen-2013-3# 
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/tor-silk-road-deep-web-2013-3#the-hidden-wiki-catalogs-several-tor-sites-that-would-otherwise-be-impossible-to-find-it-shows-you-a-number-of-sites-offering-things-for-sale-both-legal-and-illegal-1  -- scary scary scary!
  • https://www.torproject.org/

Lol yeah - the lists would be amazingly different but equally random for some of the other stories - esp magic realism.

Next Stop: the Olympics ;-P

So RBC is a primary sponsor of Run for the Kids, which is a family-friendly event that takes place every year in several major cities around the world.  A walk/run of 2.5, 5, or - I think - 10km.  The primary purpose is to raise money and awareness for kids’ mental health, but in reality there are *many* charities you can pick from to support, all of which have something to do w children, but not all of which have a mental health focus.

So there is a *huge* push at work to be involved every year and every year my contribution is at most monetary - like visit the bake sale level.   Why?  Well...  A) I hate fundraising w a passion.   I did it all in for R2CC but never doing it again would be ideal.  B) My hatred of fundraising is met only by my hatred of commuting, so the odds that I’m getting up early on a wknd day to commute are not favourable.   C) It’s very actively billed as family friendly and generally I avoid situations that involve multiple small people.  D) It’s in the fall and weather could be *very* hit or miss.


So all in, this is very much not my thing.   But this year...   This year it’s 2020.  Which means A) the focus was on participation not fundraising.   I managed to raise about $100 (thanks to my contributors!!!) with my single FB post about it.   B) I don’t currently have to commute so I wouldn’t mind going downtown so much, but *even better* the race was virtual - just do the distance anywhere you want.  Sweet.  C) Social distancing means no children in my world.  And D) Somehow it was a stunningly gorgeous fall day.


So Mum, Bailey, Sasha, and I did just over 5km together, enjoying the weather, and the world was good.


But then!


A few days later I get an email at work...   They’d done a random draw of participants for 3 prizes - and I won one!!!!   Woohoo!!!  Lol I’m not known for my luck w winning anything, so I was disproportionately happy about that.  My prize was admittedly a little random -  a training session w an Olympic athlete.


Sure - why not?  Lol I’ll take any opportunity to improve fitness, although not sure how helpful one session would be but cool.


So I’m put in touch w Olympic sprinter Gavin Smellie, who says we can do the session online or in person - depending how far away (remember RBC is international - the winner could be living in China) and comfort level with COVID concerns.  So it turns out he’s about half an hour away and deemed that an okay drive so came in person.


Which means that today I had a 1-1 training session w an Olympic athlete.   And I suppose years of riding with Olympians on a fairly regular basis has taken any real sheen off of that for me, except of course “that doesn’t count” lol.  I have no idea why, but somehow it’s different when I’m in a gym (even if said gym is in my basement) than on a horse.   Maybe because I’m more confident in my ability to execute the exercises on horseback?  Idk.


Anyways yeah - he came and was super positive.  I think slightly surprised by the setup we have going, but happy enough to modify his plan to use.   He had a whole thing planned out and then used weights etc to help modify difficulty.


Very enthusiastic, very positive.  I was working hard enough to be sweaty (tbh that doesn’t take much) and short of breath (sadly also doesn’t take much these days!) but at no point felt like I was dying.   Nor was I watching the clock.  My abs are sore now though so I suspect I’ll feel them tomorrow ;)


After we were done he gave me some examples of specific exercises to do to strengthen certain areas, which is super helpful, and some hints on how to reach my pull up goals.


So yeah - overall was a great workout and surprisingly enjoyable.  And now I have someone to cheer for in the next Olympics (assuming they get to happen).

FridayFlash #75 – The Letter

"So, have you read it yet?"

Janine looked down, flipping the opened envelope slowly in her hands.  She shook her head.

"Why not?"

She looked up and met my eyes briefly, before flicking away.  "I don't know," she said, her voice hardly more than a whisper, "what if...  what if there's something horrible?"

"There could be," I acknowledged, "but what if there's something amazing?"

She started at the letter, the letter we all get on our 18th birthdays.  I'd get mine next week.  The letter from our future selves.  Written on paper -- for some of us the only actual paper we'd ever own -- every adult got one opportunity, just one, to write a letter to their 18-year-old self.

For some it was an opportunity to change their lives, to undo past mistakes.  For others it was a reassurance that things would turn out okay, or share lessons they wished they'd learned earlier in life.   And there were some who never got the chance.  They either didn't have a letter in waiting when they died, or they'd actively chosen not to send one.  Their younger selves would receive the same envelope, but inside it would simply read "your future is unwritten."   

I was curious both what I'd read and what I'd someday write; theoretically those two were the same, but everyone knew someone who knew someone who said the letter they wrote differed wildly from the one they'd received.  Urban legend or actual fact?  Did it happen, or did we just need to believe it could happen?  I knew I would read mine as soon as it arrived, but there were some who didn't want to know.  It was easier, always easier, not to know how things would end.  And Janine was one who wasn't sure if she'd risk knowing something she'd rather not.

"Do you want me to read it?"  It was taboo to ask someone to read your letter, to put the weight on them of knowing what you might not want to know.  But I could volunteer.  

The envelope shook slightly as she handed it to me.  I pulled out the letter -- it was yellowed, the author had lived many years and likely refolded it many times, and short - she hadn't had much to say.   The paper threatened to tear as I unfolded it; I read quickly and then exhaled the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding.  

"It's okay," I handed the envelope back with a smile, "nothing to worry about."

Janie's shoulders dropped, and her eyes softened as she took the paper back.  "I'll read it at home," she said as she folded it up to fit in her purse.  She got up and left without so much as a goodbye, walking quickly in the direction of her home.

The following week was both the fastest and the shortest I could ever recall.  And then it was my turn to stand there, Janine at my side, with my envelope.  Despite what I'd always claimed, I still hesitated.  I shook my head to clear my thoughts then tore the top of the envelop pulling out what was inside.

One sheet.  Only one.  It wasn't new at least, but it wasn't wildly aged either.  The paper was folded in three, but not many times over -- it looked like it was one of the rare ones that had been written once, folded, and sent.  

I glanced up at Janine, suddenly glad she was there.  She nodded once, slowly.

I flipped it over and read.  My brow crinkled as I looked up at Janine.

"What does it say?" she asked, head tilted slightly.  I handed her the paper.  She read just as quickly and looked up at me.  "I don't get it."

"I know."

I looked over at the paper she still held.  The most important thing my future self could think of to tell me.

Never Visit:

- The Louvre at Christmas

- The Hopewell Rocks under a full moon

- Hadrian's Wall at Hallowe'en

- Urulu in the rain

- Kilimanjaro in the sun

Today, on my 18th birthday, I'd never been more than two hours from my home town.  Travel seemed a lot of work and effort for no real benefit -- I'd seen all those places in VR.  There was no need to go in person.  There was no reason to imagine I would ever even consider going to one of those places, much less all of them.  So why such a note?  Why warn me against such places.

I pulled out my phone and did some quick searching.  The Louvre wasn't even open at Christmas?  And Urulu, Ayer's Rock, was in a desert.  So the odds of me ever being there, and getting rained on, were pretty slim.   Hadrian's wall was a crumbling relic; there's zero reason I'd ever be there, and Hallowe'en was a child's holiday.  What did that matter?

I shrugged at Janine as I folded the paper and stuck it in my pocket.  "Well, if that's the only advice my future self can give, I guess things will be okay?  I mean, it's not like any of that would ever happen."

"But," Janine hesitated.

"But what?"

"Well, you must've had a reason for writing that...  Which means, somehow, you must've ended up there, at some point.  So maybe just..."

"Just what?" 

"Just keep it in mind.  Someday, if it seems you might be in one of those places, just...  remember.   There must've been a reason."

"Yeah okay."

I tried to put it out of my mind.  Why would I have ever written such a thing?  What would possibly happen if one of those circumstances was to occur?  I was taking a gap year next year.  My parents were pushing me to travel but I’d been planning to work on my music.   But maybe...   Maybe I should go to some of those places at times that were not aligned with the list.  Just to see what the big deal was.   Scotland -- I could go there first, in September, and be long gone by Hallowe'en.  Surely there'd be no risk to that.  And once I'd seen it, there'd never be any reason to go back.  Crisis adverted.

And as I booked the tickets, I wondered, briefly, if future me had any idea the impact that letter might have?

Right.  Well it turns out my future self knew 18-year-old me better than I ever imagined.   For what was the number one way to make me do something?  Tell me not to, under any circumstances, do it.  That letter got me out of my town, showed me the world, and opened my mind to imagination and wonder.  I would never know if future me originally wrote that letter as a reflection of the most important parts of my life, or merely in hopes of making important things happen, but as I sat down to write the letter that would change my life, I'm forever grateful I did.

-----

So potential longer work would be to explore exactly what happens in each of those places with the narrator to impact their life so profoundly, but under the rules of flash, I had to wrap it up quickly ;)

Based off the following writing prompt:






My first course taught me that Leadership is fluff; they may be right ;-P

So my first course was Leadership, and I've conflicting feelings about it.  As it's officially complete, I can now post this ;). The course itself was good - interesting and current collection of sources, good facilitated discussion, multiple perspectives of different issues, touched on cultural diversity and how the role of the leader (and followers) change depending on where you are in the world, etc.  As it's an area I'm very interested in, I really enjoyed all of this.

What I really did *not* enjoy was the writing.  I can see the question marks in your eyes from here ;).  As some of you may know, I *love* to write.  And by the end of my academic career, I was picking courses somewhat based those that have you write papers rather than exams.  So my first paper I wrote a reasonably strong academic paper, and, because the requirements were somewhat ambiguous, threw in a paragraph of what I deemed to be "fluff".   I got an atrocious grade and the comment was basically the fluff was excellent and the rest all academic.  Uh - yeah, it's a masters program.  *sigh*.  But no, it was clear they wanted fluff.

So at this point, I'd already finished my second paper, but with that feedback went back and rewrote it all to be fluff.   One of the hardest things I've done in recent times was to turn in this paper, that I considered crap -- especially knowing that I'd also written a good one.  But I was reasonably certain they wanted fluff - and, well, I can write for my audience.

Sure enough, that paper did much better, albeit still not the grades I'm used to getting.   So then paper three.  Bring on the fluff.  There was *nothing* redeemable in that paper.  Honestly, I'd be embarrassed to share it.  It was a combination of fluff and fiction.  And it did well enough to significantly improve my final grade.  *sigh*

I do recognize and acknowledge that what they're trying to ensure we can apply the academics - which, fair enough.  But the approach was the opposite of useful for me and just turned into an act of frustration.  Although admittedly very real-life business scenario.  I can't imagine there are too many of us who haven't had to write, say, or do something we know is wrong to stroke the ego of someone who didn't read the leadership textbook ;)

So yeah, while I liked the learnings of the course, I was very frustrated with the assessment process.  I would've learned and internalized a lot more by writing about the academics rather than how it applies to my little world.  I'm taking this program to expand my world, not be stuck in it.

That being said, now I'm into Marketing and Operations.  Which both claim to be the most critical process to any business ;).  Onward and upward.


Eventing adventures

While I was not thrilled at setting my alarm clock for this am, in reality, I had so much fun at Eventing Kindergarten today :).   Chilly but sunny and perfect weather.  Today was schooling w the show tomorrow and they were grouping schooling by coach, which was super convenient.

Horses were wired when I got there so we took it easy - just as well as stad was running a little late.  Warmup went well then down to show jumping.  Course was beautiful and there were awesome volunteers there to help adjust fences for the level.  K went first at entry height and they were absolute pro stars!   Then we adjusted to tadpole and E and Jake jumped around.  Double clear rounds - even the skinny :)


Also - can I just say how much fun tadpole is?!?!   Lol what a great idea for rusty riders or new riders or riders who’ve never been outside of a ring.  SO inviting and “trip over it tiny” lol.  Essentially XC will be a trot hack with a few things to step over - except the things are beautifully decorated so they feel like a designed course, not just scraps from the bigger jumps. (Seriously how many PE courses have you seen that are log, log, tires, log, log, log...) but this was even lower than PE and had a wide variety including a ditch and water.  Amazing.


Also loved that the ditch had a skeleton in it - not that my riders would know that since they would *never* look down.   You believe that right?  Lol


So yeah from stad we went straight to XC and other than a little bit of map confusion (based mostly on the map being left at the barn) we figured it out.  Kennedy and Callie were *on* today.  Like the PT course would’ve been a legitimate option.  And while Jake was doing tadpole, there was also some pre-entry and he did both the entry bank ditch like a pro star!!!   


Both horses adopted this mentality today :). It was awesome!


Let’s just hope they have some energy left to do it all over tomorrow ;)


I miss eventing.  What I wouldn't give for a sainted horse to just bomb around the PT course ;).  Doesn't even need to be big or exciting, just PT...  Lol times like this I miss Athena.  Ah well - I'll just have to live vicariously through others for now.


Also - did I mention how jealous I am that the show tomorrow is only stadium and xc?  I expect there will be a lot of ties for first with no dressage to decide things ;)

Leveling up

My first MBA course is complete -- but the final grades aren't up yet, so I'll save my summary of that until after that point ;)

So I've decided to double up on courses this term -- making me a full time student with a full time job.   Good thing we're going into hibernation season and thanks to COVID I've got an extra 10+h/week that I don't have to commute ;)

First up is Marketing, which so far I'm really enjoying.  Their definition of Marketing is arguably questionable, but it actually makes the topic far more interesting as it leads into business strategy as opposed to marketing strategy that I was expecting.  To me, business strategy would incl things like “these are our values”, “this is our product”, and “we’re going to expand globally”; then the maketing strategy would be built to support the business strategy with “this is our approach”, “these are our key messages” etc.   This course is claiming the entire thing falls under the realm of marketing lol.   And while I don’t agree at all, the business strategy side of things fascinates me, so I’m far happier learning more about that - under whatever title you want to call it - than about marketing-specific strategies.  So yeah, I’m actually loving that course atm.  One actual marketing thing I am enjoying is it's giving me increased insight and understanding into the campaigns we're subjected to all the time.  

Operations I'm not as into admittedly.  I don't know if it's really this simple or if I'm missing the point -- will find out soon enough I guess ;). It's a prerequisite to the Project Management course which I expect to be exempted from based on career experience, so I'm not AS concerned about this one.  Essentially seems to be about efficiency gains.  Which I'm reasonably good at to begin with, and certainly it's a helpful skill to have, so happy to learn more.   Although I'm slightly concerned that the first assessment is an oral presentation that still somehow needs to reference at least six external sources?  lol that will be an interesting deviation from reality.  Am definitely amused that they too position themselves as the critical component of the business around which all decisions should be made; unsurprisingly they don't do nearly as good a job of selling it as the marketing people.  But yeah - could you hear my eyes roll?   Ah well.

So yeah - I'm currently a full time student with a full time job, but really - what else is there to do this term anyways?   Trying to get in as many courses as I can before we have to return to the office :).  Which means clearly there will be a ton of blog posts as, well, it's a fine means of productive procrastination.  I can even do it sitting in front of my textbook ;-P

To zen or not to zen...

Random update on my zenness...   Or lack thereof.  It *really* doesn't exist during the day.  It takes everything I have to convince myself to meditate during the day and I'm super not enjoying it.  However, meditating right before sleep -- this has been awesome.  I still don't like it, but it absolutely makes a difference.  I fall asleep faster and stay there longer.  I don't do it every night, but I notice a significant difference on the nights that I do.  As with the daytime ones, some resonate more than others and some are more effective than others, but in general, I'm finding it helps significantly to quiet my mind and give me a pause before my mind has all night to spin.

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time

So I set up a space in the basement that I can play my Quest.  To date, all the spaces I've been playing in have been restricted (there's paint on the controller from being walloped into a door at one point) and so I mostly restrict my games to ones where I'm unlikely to move my feet to lessen the instances of dramatic crashing.   But now, there's enough space in the basement to really play.  AND my workout mat is also conveniently a good size to play, so I know if I step off the mat, I'm out of bounds.  Yes, the game tells you that as well, but usually not early enough to avoid damage ;-P

With my new found freedom I turned on 360 mode in Beat Saber and it was So Much More Fun!  Lol a whole other dimension ;).  It was toned down slightly in that I generally plan on expert and the songs I was playing were only available on hard.  But it adds enough of a twist that the lower level is still highly entertaining.

Also played some Racket Nx, which I haven't played in ages due to lack of safe space (this would be the game that resulted in paint on the controller -- okay in an empty room, less okay in any room with a TV or computer ;) -- it actually has a warning to make sure all loved ones are out of range lol.  So that was fun except that I'm really bad at it so it gets frustrating after a little while.  Highly entertaining just for the VR experience though.

In non VR games, I'm playing my first game since the end of the Kings Quest franchise.  Chris has got me hooked on Zelda -- I am so completely addicted and, since it's on a Switch, I love that I don't have to take over the TV to play, instead I can play while something else is on in the background or while Chris is playing other games.

That one made me laugh cause I was wandering around and there were horses in the field.  There was no way I was going to hunt the horses, so I snuck up on them to see if I could pat one -- and when I got close, "mount" was an option.  Woohoo!  I did that, and promptly got bucked off.  When I stopped laughing I tried it again, to similar results.  Eventually I managed to stay on one, and now I have a new pony ;).  In the same game, you need to "cook" and more than once I've made "dubious food" which is arguably even more accurate than me getting bucked off the horse I randomly climbed on in a field.

So yes - I'm highly entertained by these, mostly cause after working full time and going to school full time and still teaching and at least occasionally going to the gym, I have zero brain power left and games are good for that.  The VR ones could even pretend to be exercise.  Multitasking win ;)

My new addiction


When I signed up for boxing, this is not at all what I expected.

 Today's question:  who is "the glue that hold the organization together"?

  • according to my leadership course, leadership fulfills this role
  • in my marketing course, marketing fulfills this role
  • and in operations...  you guessed it, operations fulfills this role

Just made me laugh as I had all three state that within 48h of each other ;)

I'm current procrastinating Operations writing this blog post :).  I've finished the Leadership course but final grades won't be in for another week or two.

Completely unrelated -- GOLD STAR TO ME!!!   Why?  Because I managed to do a box jump on the "big" box at the gym today ;)

Just like that!

Right - except my box was not quite knee high ;).  lol but it WAS bigger than the shin-high one which is usually scary enough.  Both physically and mentally I struggle with this one.  I've never been the kid who could jump high.  Or at all ;-P.  For those of you who've been around a while -- why do you think I was so excited to be able to run up the wall?  Cause that I've got a shot at!  A long shot, admittedly, but it's vaguely possible.  (lol for the curious - adult recess was So. Much. Fun.).   Anyways - jumping is not a skill I possess; I'd much rather climb.  And mentally it just seems like a horrible idea to try to defy physics.  I've had too many run-ins with physics before and I almost always lose.

However, today it was at the second station, which means I was warmed up and hadn't actually done any exercise yet.  So I had a better shot.  AND, not only was I not the only person in the gym today - but the other person was on her first day and requiring actual instruction.  So I got to play a little more on my own, which made me braver.  Which was all awesome till 4 stations later when the whole thing was donkey kicks?!?! :(  That emoticon is insufficient for my degree of :(.   I'm already sore; I don't imagine I'll be able to move much tomorrow.   Things I never needed to know -- I can do 120 donkey kicks in 3 minutes.   Nowhere near the gym record of 298, but oh well.

Okay - back to school with me.

Who's on first?


So I chatting on IM with a colleague, we’ll call him Steve, and went away to do some stuff. 

Re-IM’d an hour or so later with a follow-up question and got the response:

“Hello Steve, Do you have a minute?”

 

*sigh*   I’ve been called out on not starting conversations with 'Hello' before, but Steve and I get along really well, so I was somewhat surprised by this from him.  (I'm working on it -- I have a mental list of people to always say hi and/or waste time...   Uh I mean 'relationship build' about the weather before I can get to the point – but he’s not on it).

 

So I said something about, ‘okay point taken.  To be fair, I was continuing a previous conversation…’

 

So then the conversation was very confused for a minute.  Until I get: “oh my gosh - thought I was messaging Steve T”.   Lol so his “Hello Steve” (being far more polite than I, as you may have guessed from “gosh”) was actually directed at another Steve, not a rebuke for my lack of texting manners *g*

 

Amused me more than it should’ve ;)   But hey, it’s a spreadsheet day, I’ll take amusement where I can get it!


Also, Google just informed me that Spreadsheet Day is actually a thing?!?!  Apparently it's Oct 17.  A shame that's on a weekend this year; I most definitely will not be celebrating it.






Meditation 101 complete - have I found myself yet?


So day 7 was about mantras.  Which started with “so hum” but which my brain heard as “so hung”.  *sigh*. Took a little bit for my adolescent self to get past that, but once I did it was reasonably effective.  Except that when my mind started to wander my brain’s reaction was to SHOUT the mantra (only in my head of course!) Lol it worked but it was all the drama and the opposite of calm.

Overall though, I suspect given some practice and a different mantra this could be a good technique for me.   Google tells me “sohum” means “I am he/she/that” in Sanskrit.  So there’s your educational moment of the day.  Have also seen it written as both one word and two -- it was definitely being pronounced as two in the session.


Definitely not my first choice of mantra


Survived 7 days!  With no breaks :). Win!  While I can sense that it’s a good thing for me to do, I don’t enjoy it at all.  I think the goal will be 3x/wk through the end of Oct and then we’ll see.   I’ll put it on the calendar - once it’s on the calendar, it’s real.  My v old school, hand written, colour coded calendar.  Lol not that I don’t have multiple electronic ones on the go too, but this is the one running my life atm ;)


Not even kidding - I'm back to being in Jr High ;)


Still the bestest puppy


Flashback to puppy Sasha

Sasha turned 9 this week.  Totally cannot believe it!  She still looks and acts about 2 ;).  The only difference is more breaks in playtime and a longer recovery after.

Approximately half an hour after we got home



But middle age Sasha is the perfect running buddy for middle aged me!   We went out together and her preferred default trot speed pretty well matches my pathetically slow jog speed (lol as in only marginally faster than a walk).  And she’s the best pace buddy cause if I slow down, she’ll walk for a few strides, then look over her shoulder at me and try jogging a few steps.  Like “comeon’ Laur, time to start again” :).  She also allows for critical breaks by occasionally needing to stop and sniff something or play in the creek ;)


My *tired* puppy ;)


So yeah - both of us may be sore tomorrow but was a lovely fall morning run today.

First day of fall

So I didn't actually know it was the first day of fall when I wrote this and was debating about posting, but after I heard it that was just too perfect so figured I had to post.

The type of beauty that makes me love fall

Took the dogs for a walk after a relaxing afternoon of reading my book snuggling w Tucker and throwing the ball endlessly for Sasha ;).  There’s something about fall.  Esp days like this - temp in the high 20s, gorgeous cloudless blue sky.  The leaves on the trees a multitude of brilliant colours.  Walking through the woods, the trail is covered with a blanket of already lost leaves.  That perfect midpoint where the trail is covered, you can hear the crunch when you walk, but there’s still tons of leaves on the trees so no feeling of emptiness or loss.  And every strong breeze leads to a flurry of colours.    Warm days and cool nights, with occasional sweater day thrown in.   The scent of falling leaves - fall has its own scent; those who live where seasons aren’t a thing, probably never realized that, but anybody who knows would recognize it immediately.  And no, it has nothing to do w pumpkin spice!   If it weren’t for heralding the impending winter, fall would be the perfect season.

The reality that reflects how I *usually* see fall ;-P


Two for One


Last night (Day 5) I did right before bed again -- and wrote some notes on my phone, but wasn't into it enough to get up and blog.  Which means today - you get two posts together!  I'm sure you're thrilled.

So from yesterday:

Today's focus was emotions - and she starts w stress?!?!   Wtf lady - that’s the main emotion I’m trying to get rid of???   Lol so yeah - felt the physical effects of that instantly.   Which, in itself is moderately interesting.  But seriously seemed to be the opposite of what I embarked on this whole journey for.

Then she switched to gratitude, which had me slightly puzzled as it turns out I don't know the physical effects of gratitude?  But then I realized she considers love and gratitude interchangeable.  Love to me is far more powerful and thus was significantly easier to trigger a response.  Although admittedly not as easy as stress.  Hmmmm.  

So yeah - interesting for sure, but I kinda just want to go back to my clouds ;).  Acknowledge I can see how this could be very powerful and being able to switch emotions on command would certainly be a useful skill.  But yeah, certainly not the calming experience of the other ones.


Fast forward to today.


Day 6 was “intention” which I really couldn’t take seriously and started daydreaming in the middle of lol.  Ah well.  The one thing I did agree with though was at the end she said something about 'if you want more of something in your life, make a point of recognizing and tagging when you see little instances of it throughout your day'.  Want to be happier?  Identify what little things make you happier in even tiny doses.  More successful?  Acknowledge the little successes in life.  That I can actually see being effective.


Also - have to admit that while I spent most of it daydreaming instead of focusing “productively” (???) I was still calmer after the fact.  So that’s interesting.


Is definitely still hard for me to fit in though.  Not because I don't have 10 mins to spare, but because I want to use my spare 10 minutes doing other things.

Day 4 - Past the hump!

It really was a hump day -- even though it's not Wed, it's the hump of this program.   I was exhausted and disinterested, so not sure it got a fair chance.  Then on top of it, Day 4 was very similar to the ones I occasionally use to fall asleep.  Which would’ve been lovely except I was already tired so had a hard time staying awake through this one.

Basically a full body scan of finding and releasing tension - spoiler alert, my jaw and my shoulders have ALL the tension lol


I struggled to get through this one - but honestly I think just cause was end of workday and I was super tired already.






Meditation 101 - Day 3

So I LOVED tonight's meditation - and I have to admit, I *almost* missed it!  Life got in the way today -- work was insane; I had a 30 minute lunch break that I definitely spent taking Sasha for a walk.  Priorities.  And, to be fair, also super-good for my mental health.

And on that walk, I discovered it was high twenties and sunny.  So while work continued to be insane all afternoon, when it was done, I wasn't about to waste anymore time inside!   Sasha went for another walk, and then I did some reading (school related - at least I was productive) out in the sun.   Then dinner.  And after, tbh, I was simply enjoying relaxing and hanging out with my husband.  Neither of us had class tonight, so we veged in front of the TV.  Not super exciting perhaps, but nice all the same.

And then it was bedtime.  Lol so yeah - meditation wasn't going to happen today.  BUT, I actually went to bed first, so I decided I'd listen to it before going to sleep.  Not exactly my target time, but at least I'd get it done on the right day.

So today's was on acknowledging thoughts and then dismissing them.  I don't know why, but I pictured lying on the graas on a summer day, staring at the cloudless sky.  Each thought that interrupted turned into a word, then the word popped and turned into a puffy white cloud that floated up to the sky.  And when the sky got full, a swipe had all the clouds erase, and it started over again.

Note this is not at all what they said to do so I’m not sure where it came from, but I loved it.   Similar to my candle one where each thought makes the candle flicker, but way more relaxing since I actually love lying outside watching the clouds irl.  Also no risk of my wayward thoughts burning down my mental house ;)


Lol I suppose I could quantify the quality of my meditation by the number of clouds...  Although that would be the opposite of what I’m supposed go be doing ;)


This was the first one where I wished it was longer.  Will definitely remember the cloud technique.  Especially as I’ve now woken myself up completely to write this.   Super happy and relaxed - just awake.  Sheesh.  But I wanted to remember the details and once it's written down, it's forever :)


This is why I actually got up to write ;)


The world lost a bright light today.

Zara Mathilde Buren: January 10, 2006- September 21, 2020

Today...   Today meditation didn't stand a chance.  Yesterday's meditation was about breath -- I get that one, even if I didn't love the way it was done.  Today's was about "feel the room".  Nope, don't get it, and honestly, too destroyed by the world to try.

Yesterday, Sabrina and her 14 year old daughter, Zara, went out for a hack.  Both accomplished riders, so what a perfect way to spend a fall evening.   They were on a path they didn't know, and Zara's horse got stuck.   Like any good horsewoman, she dismounted to give her horse a better chance at getting free.  Unfortunately, she herself ended up submerged.  They got her out and rushed to the hospital, but it was too late.  This beautiful inside and out, vivacious, friendly young girl lost her life.   In her mother's words "My darling Zara saved her horse's life and sacrificed her own.  We shall be forever proud of her selfless love for the animals in her care."

I don't claim to be close to the family.  Sabrina and I used to ride together -- more years ago than either of us would care to admit -- and I remember her being pregnant with Chloe, Zara's older sister.   We reconnected a couple years ago when Zara and I were riding at the same farm.  I got to know Zara then as an individual, rather than the continuation of her mother's story.  And she was one of those kids that you were just happy to be around.  And she was all in for the riding thing -- I guess part of me will always connect with kids like that, because I was that kid for whom any barn time is good time.  Although I was not nearly as accomplished as she was at the same age!

Somehow though the news just destroyed me.  I can't even imagine what her mom (and dad, and sister) are going through.  They say the brightest flames burn the fastest, but this... This was too fast.   How such a perfect night, turned so unbelievably horrid.  

So yeah, suffice to say, today's meditation did not go as planned.

For any interested, the family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in Zara's name to the Oakville Humane Society: https://www.gifttool.com/donations/Donate?ID=2044&AID=4113

7 Days of Meditation - Day 1

Right, so I'm not convinced I'll write every day, but I figured I should at least do days 1 and 7...

So Day 1…


I decided to do between work and home as a transition….  Good in theory, but it turns out when I’m done work I want to move straight into home.  I like home.  I don’t want a 12 minute delay!  Lol so I’ll rethink that approach tomorrow.  


The meditation itself was a much better pace than the one I tried last week.   I’m going to say I felt moderately calmer after, without feeling tired or lazy, so that was good.  For stress relief my noon trip to the gym to punch things was, admittedly, far more effective.  It was also more effective as an energy boost.  But for just plain stop my brain from spinning, the 12 minutes of beginner meditation did reasonably well…


I did the vast majority with my eyes closed, but I also found eyes open but focused on the leaves of the tree outside my window seemed to work.  At which point I wondered if there was a VR app that would give things to look at?  And then questioned if you need a VR app are you actually meditating or does it defeat the purpose?


lol so after my 12 mins were up, I googled.  There *is* a free VR app for my Quest and it does guided meditation only instead of eyes closed, you're immersed in a world of slowly moving shapes and colours.   I didn't actually do the whole thing, just signed in to see what it was.  May try it out after day 7.  Was more just amused that it exists.


That being said, I used a sleep one last night, and both fell asleep faster and then slept like the dead.  Not sure that wasn't a fluke, but still woke up more alive this am than I have in a long time.   To be fair, I've tried it before with less effective results, so the fluke possibility is strong.  But we shall see.  That is definitely not an every night thing.


On to Day 2...

Embroidery - Take 1

 

1st Attempt at Embroidery


So I gave my first attempt at embroidery this weekend.  Pattern is by Jess Wariorka -- I changed some colours and a couple minor details, but in general followed what was recommended.  It's officially intermediate level, but I'm not sure why as it only required two stitches (although there are four shown here).

So lessons learned:
- first, and definitely most important, pre-wash the fabric!   Super frustrating how puckery it got after only rinsing in cold wanter :( 
- it is much faster than cross stitch, but requires more work to set up and more executive input/competence re design.  With cross stitch, if you follow the pattern, you're likely to end up with something nearly identical to the original, regardless of skill level.  With this, there's a significantly greater margin for error.
- I *loved* all the fabric options and was sad that for this one plain white really was the only good choice
- I liked the fabric much better, but found it far more frustrating to deal with the threads as I couldn't travel (it shows through) or tie off (causes bumps).  Finishing strands was no problem, but starting was a pita.

Overall I found it more frustrating and less satisfying than cross stitch, but I do love the end result.  I've found far fewer (and by that I mean zero to date) other patterns I want to do -- so the market for what appeals to me is clearly not there.  But I will keep an eye out and may try another one at some point, for variety sake if anything.   Would love to do one on a fun colour :).  But so far, tons of cross stitch either on my to-do list or waiting in my wish list for me to decide what's next, but none of these...

Anyways - it's not perfect, but I think not too bad for a first effort.  Going to deem this a 2020 win; have to take them where we can find them!




I want to be in the moment, just not this moment. Like a moment when I'm on a warm beach...

Awwww

I've been doing a fair bit of reading and decided it would probably be a good life-choice to try to learn basic meditation. Now I'm a big fan of silence, so I figure that was step one.  I also have multiple projects on the go atm (who's surprised by this?  No one?  Really? ;) and figure anything that can boost brain power to support is likely a good plan.

Okay so step one -- meditation apps for people who don't like to meditate ;).  Surprisingly (or maybe not so much) there are a number of blog posts dedicated to this theme.   Now I'm committed to this to the tune of $0, so I quickly ignored any that required payment for any reasonable amount of access.  So the one I liked best, all the content I was interested in was locked *sigh*.  And locked to the tune of $60/yr USD -- for something I'm not sure will last a week.  Hard no.

So I found two apps that have reasonable content for free; one I really liked at first, but once I got in I was lost and didn't know how to find anything interesting.  And of course the few interesting things I did manage to stumble on, were locked.

The other isn't nearly as appealing a UI, but seems to have lots of free content, and better yet: "courses".  Lol we have a winner.

Then time of day -- I actually want to do it mid-day, cause that's when I struggle for quiet brain.  First thing in the morning I'm not really awake so "success" (whatever that means) would be somewhat arbitrary, while at night I actually use some of the techniques already to fall asleep.  But my new objective is calm without sleep -- and I definitely don't want to do anything to interfere with my hard-won sleep.

Alright, so now that I've made it as hard as possible, I decided before diving into a course, I'd try a random beginner one.  6 minutes -- how hard can 6 minutes be?  

OMG it was the longest 6 minutes.  I swear it would've past faster in plank position.  The woman was speaking sooooo slooowwwly....   And with pauses that make William Shatner sound like he's on speed.  But honestly, I might've been better to just set a 6 min timer and sit quietly ;). At least that wouldn't have annoyed me.

That was Thurs.  It was so painful, I couldn't bring myself to repeat it on Fri.  And then, well, weekends off of course ;).  That being said, they have a ton of "coaches" and do suggest trying multiple to find one that suits.  So could just be a fit issue.  Or could be a "I have 800 other things that I could be doing right now" issue ;).  Which, to be fair, is kinda the point.

There's a 7 day 101 course that I'll try starting...   Um probably Monday.  12 minutes a day.  Right.  Wish me luck.  I'll post an update next week with how it went ;)

PS - in searching for an image to include, I just found a "2 Minute Meditation for Bitches Who Don't Meditate" lol I think I found my yogi.  I will start there tomorrow :)   Then the 7 days can legit start on Monday.