Here there be dragons...

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

People are happier when they're apart?

So interesting side effect to social distancing and lock down -- people seem to be friendlier?   Lol out walking the dogs -- people wave from the porch or front yard every few houses.   That's just not a thing usually, with the sole exception of the occasional other dog walker.  Couples walking together, families with kids, everybody always smiling and waving safely from the other side of the road ;)

I've also been impressed that the last few days, everybody I passed was observing social distancing rules; lots of people stopping to chat with each other (a safe distance away), or situations where someone is on the front porch chatting with someone in the driveway (a couple cases with both in lawn chairs - settled in for a long chat).

I pulled Sasha and Tucker up into somebody's driveway to allow a woman pushing a stroller with *three* children in it to pass on the sidewalk and she was so appreciative.  Uh of the two of us, I think it's significantly easier for me to get out of the way.  Sheesh.

Sasha's loving this but Tucker's exhausted.  lol he's super-excited to go for walks, but has about a 20 minute time limit.   Sasha, otoh, would rather play all day.   When we go for walks she knows all the decision points along the route that decide whether we're going home or continuing the walk and she consistently tries super hard to herd me in the "keep going" direction ;)

I've also learned that the walks we go on are a lot longer than I think they are ;).  Lol now that I'm working from home, I'll often take her before work or at lunch -- but then I have to be back for a specific time.  Turns out that I mentally estimate about half the time it actually takes for a walk (eg - I expect the route to be 15 mins, takes half an hour).   Oops.

I'm still working full time (and grateful for it!) so I don't have the tons of free time lots of people do.  A shame on the one hand, cause my list of things I'd love to get done is fairly long, but good otoh because - employed.   LOVING working from home, although mildly amused that I'm actually working longer hours than when I was in the office -- mostly trying to keep my team functional, engaged, and pointed the same direction when they have little to no experience working from home.

I never realized before that running a remote meeting is an actual skillset.  lol until these last few weeks when I've painfully sat through meeting after meeting with people who lack that skillset.  Also the things I've been coaching people on that I never thought I'd have to say ("mute" is your friend! and if you share your full screen instead of just one app, make completely sure your IMs are blocked ;).  Lol ah well, mildly entertaining.

I don't feel stressed, but I suspect I subconsciously am...   Little things let me know -- I've had all kinds of sleep, but still had a coma-level nap this afternoon for several hours.   In my free time I can't focus enough to read or study, which are my usual go-tos, instead am baking or cross-stitching (which I've randomly become addicted to?!?!).   Read an interesting article about why people stress-bake or craft (which apparently I'm doing both of) -- having to do with the emotional high of creating something, without the need for actual creative skills ;).  Works for me.  Only thing with the baking is, it's followed by the eating.  Oops!

Current WIP - who knew eh?

It's the little things

So it's definitely a stressful time for all.

I had a whole paragraph here outlining the stresses impacting my life personally, but, well, you don't need to know.  So deleted and summarized in 3 words:  $, people, work.


Now, the positives.  Despite what the deleted paragraphs would suggest, I am working *really* hard to stay focused on the positives and keep my mental health in check. (hence deleted ;)

So - I now get to work 100% from home.  I *love* working from home.  I get more sleep; I'm a more functional human; I save money; I have a lot more patience and productivity for work.   All wins.

When I'm stressed on a call,
I just have to look over and see this and my blood pressure drops :)
I'm exercising every day and Sasha is often getting two walks a day now that I don't have to commute and I'm home at lunch time.   Tucker often snuggles next to me while I'm working -- a constant hug :)

Sasha also is a lot easier to live with when she's getting all the walks :).  And, better yet, sometimes Chris comes too :). And I never feel guilty leaving Sasha alone to go to work cause, well, she comes with me.

I've found a fitness program that I admittedly don't love, but it's only 30 mins a day and is getting results, so win.

I'm being very careful what I view on social media and how much news I consume.  I try to share primarily positive and light items for those who need a break from the constant negativity (lots of critters!).  It's the little I can contribute from my place on the couch ;)

The weather's decent and I can step outside at lunch or on breaks, and when I'm done work I'm home immediately and can go soak up sunshine before it goes away (hence the multiple Sasha walks :)

Almost everybody is having similar financial challenges.  *Hopefully* this will be short term and we will all get through it.  But if not, we'll be going through it together.  Government measures are getting closer and closer to helpful, so maybe...   5-year rule:  5 years from now, will this matter?   Hopefully not.

But most importantly, at this point, everybody I love is still healthy.   Here's hoping by following the isolation rules, all will remain that way.

For the win :)

So I did a thing :).  This is the second time I've won the CHOW (challenge of the week) -- note, as the name might imply, there is one every week.  Twice is good, but certainly far from superstardom ;)

What amuses me is that it's in the same round as last time.  Which is *not* a round that involves punching anything *sigh*.  It would seem I'm reasonably good at lifting weights quickly ;).  This time around 1 rep included -- squat, bicep curl, press -- all holding dumbbells.  As many as possible in 3 minutes.

The CHOW moves from round to round each week and the different rounds have different challenges -- but 6 of them involve punching things.   I'll be very happy the day I get one for punching something lol.  I think I'm currently in second for this week -- but it completely toasted me so no chance of a redo being of any use.  I did it on Monday and today is the first day I haven't felt it.

Wrecked my hand punching something this week though.  Scrunched it from the side.  Less fun. Although tbh, I'm somewhat surprised I haven't done it before now...

A sport I will not be taking up ;)

So a couple weeks ago we had a team event at work that I'm finally writing about ;)

The first thing was to *get* to the event, in our team-for-the-day.   Our team had two incredibly competitive people (to put this in perspective: I am *not* one of them...) so of course we had to get there first.  Note, this was not a race, but that apparently is irrelevant *g*

The weather was horrid so we took the PATH.  One of our teammates was doing the tour guide thing on the way, which was surprisingly entertaining.  Also -- we found a keyboard staircase?!?!  SO much fun.  I managed to convince a couple people to pause and play with me ;).  Then we raced to catch up to the competitive ones *g*

Eventually we got to the event. First.  By a long time.   But the event was ping-pong, so at least we could amuse ourselves while we were there.  Two of our team started playing and were *good*.  Lol so random - I somehow wasn't expecting that.   The only other woman on my team asked if I would practice with her.  We were HORRIBLY bad.  Lol I haven't laughed that hard in ages.  For one thing, ping pong balls are remarkably light...   We had them in the ceiling, off the back wall (3 tables away), in the bar -- and bystanders were definitely not safe anywhere near us.   We'd be gentle a time or two but then it would go slightly the wrong direction and we'd attempt to salvage it -- with too much strength.   We also bent ALL the rules -- if the ball went back to the other person is all that mattered.  It could bounce off the floor, the ceiling, another person...  Catch it in one hand and throw it.  All good.  So. Much. Fun.
I suspect ping-pong doesn't generally involve quite so much exercise ;)
But other people showed up and we'd been at it for a while so we handed over our paddles for a bit.   A while later I was watching two women I work with quite a bit playing -- and one in particular was *really* good.  Well apparently she was on her school team?!?!  Lol who knew.  Apparently ping pong (I'm sorry "Table Tennis") is a big thing in India.  And most of the teammates who grew up there had moderate to good skills.  And at least awareness of the rules ;)

So after watching for a bit a fourth person joins us and suggests pairs.  Sure, why not.  Well.  Apparently there are even *more* rules when there are pairs.  Lol -- and while I got the ones about serving, I could not get my head around 'hit the ball once, step back let other person hit the ball, step up and hit the ball again'.   This did not go well.  And my poor, exceptionally competent partner was getting very frustrated.  I think she gave up about when I hit the ball that had bounced off the floor back into play. So she decided this would be a good time to get another drink ;).  One player on the other side also wanted a break (this I claim is not my fault!) and I ended up playing with a very good player on the other side, but one who was highly amused by my take on the rules.   We definitely invented a new game -- I would hit it wildly, it would bounce off the floor somewhere, and he would hit it back so it would land exactly where it was supposed to on the table ;).  Lol -- he was playing real tennis (and getting the workout that goes with it!) and I was playing table tennis.  It was awesome, and highly entertaining.

The expression on her face pretty much sums it up ;). Also, this picture was the perfect top to the day

When it came time to officially play I lost every game.  Alas, I do not see a potential ping pong career in my future.  But the pre-game practice was more entertaining than anything I've done in a while.

Also -- this week, when one teammate threatened we should form a softball team, I reminded them of my pingpong skills and respectfully suggested that handing me a bat or ball would probably not be good for anybody's health ;).  Win.

Why not?

So while I'm still really enjoying 9 Round, I'm very aware that it does nothing for flexibility.  And recently starting to realize I'm losing what very little flexibility I ever had - particularly my hips and my hamstrings.

I am aware that yoga might help this, but so far I've hated every type of yoga I tried with a passion, so  convincing myself to go to a class in my limited free time when I'd rather do pretty much *any*thing else -- seriously, cleaning the dog crap out of the yard ranks higher in enjoyment value.   And, because I've never managed to do it consistently AND I'm completely inflexible, doing any home-based program, like the MANY I have access to through BeachBody (of P90X3 fame), is not going to get reasonable results.  And again, I'm unlikely to stick to the program.

So I thought okay...  I have to do something...  A real program is out...  And the rest of me is still moderately flexible.  So let's find something that's reasonable and focuses on target areas.

Introducing the 30 Day Split Challenge!

Lol jk.  Well, only partially.  It IS, in-fact, titled "journey to splits" but I have zero belief/aspiration/intention, of achieving that.  Even for she who takes on ridiculous challenges, that's a little much.  I could never even do them as a bendy little kid.

BUT - what do you need to do the splits?   Flexible hips and hamstrings...   hmmm - pretty target area.  So I did some research and found a zillion options to learn to do the splits, and eventually one that I thought might actually address my specific challenges.  So this is 30 days, about 10 mins / day. You do exercises 1-5 every day (1 min each side), and then one more.  So on day 6, you do exercise 1-5 + 6, on day 10 you do 1-5 + 10, etc.  

Care to join me?
About the only real rule is EVERY day.  And from the couple reviews I read, this is important ;).  Okay - I can follow 30 days.   Some of the pictures aren't quite as clear as I'd like (eg - is that foot straight or on an angle?) and a three of the days have exercises that essentially ARE splits, so, well, suffice to say I won't be looking anything like that ;).  Meh, she's wearing pink yoga pants, it's a pretty safe bet I won't be looking like any of them *g*. But for instance, 5 and 10 are the same exercise.  5 uses a cheater band and is currently about my level.  I don't see any chance whatsoever that in 5 more days I'll suddenly be able to do 10!

I do understand that stopping at 30 days and not continuing to do *some*thing for flexibility will completely undo any progress made -- future Lauren can deal with that ;).  I'm well aware that I work well in bite sized challenges *g*

So anyways - day 1...  All good.   Sure the ego takes a hit with just how inflexible I am.  And it definitely raised questions about the movements -- slight shifts change what hurts dramatically.   But as all the hurting is in places that need to be more flexible, I'm not being too picky ;).  But I could mostly do the exercises and when I was done I was done.   Ditto for day 2.  But on day 3, my hips hurt through the day.  It took till stretchy time (which for me is after work) for me to put the pieces together.  Day 4 I was dreading a little -- mostly cause I was sore most of the day.  Not something wrong sore, similar to gym sore except literally in my hips which is not an area the gym really targets.  Hmmm arguably knowing that is what set me on this in the first place, but apparently there's a difference between knowing theoretically and knowing intimately ;)

Day 5 is tomorrow.  I'm definitely feeling it, which tells me something is happening.  I've quite happily deluded myself into thinking it's clearly positive change ;).  The goal is to be able to roundhouse kick the big round bag at the gym (last time that was an exercise I could barely do it on one leg with zero strength and not on the other.  It's was pathetic)

So I'll check back in later and we shall see.  Since I took zero measurements of any time, this will be a pretty subjective assessment on my part ;)

Spanish Adventures

So while lounging by the pool in Costa Rica, I’ve been continuing my Neverending Story adventure in Spanish.  Now usually I have my phone or computer for easy clarification if required.  Here, I had only a dictionary - and was loathe to use it.   Most things can be figured out to some degree with context (or deemed completely unnecessary as in the details of the description of somebody’s appearance) or are confusing in a way that the dictionary won’t clarify (who’s doing what to whom is somewhat a bit of a question mark in my current capabilities - usually I can figure it out but not always, esp without my notes).  

But today I gave in.  There was one word and through no context could I figure it out.  But it was clearly repeated multiple times and often in the context of a name, but not capitalized so not a name...   Finally got frustrated enough to look it up: sphinx.  Lol not feeling so bad that I couldn’t come up w that one.   I didn’t remember there was a sphinx in that story lol.  But the rest made way more sense once I had that piece.

Descriptions are a nightmare though w limited vocabulary.  I know how to say someone is fat.  And I would recognize the word to read it.  But how often would that actually be written?  Oh no - he’s big boned, or large, or round, or rotund, or heavy, or can’t see his shoes because of his belly, or pregnant, or ...   those are a whole lot of words for the same thing...  and he didn’t just say, he grumbled, grunted, mumbled, whispered, sighed, yelled, shouted, screamed, screeched...   Again - on dedicated days I look some of these up and my vocabulary is slowly growing.  On beach vacation days I accept that the message was conveyed and don’t worry too much about how ;)

Other things I’ve learned on this trip - not only is my reading vocabulary lacking but so is my basic life vocabulary.  In need of toilet paper for the room I asked the maid if we could please have more bathroom paper - since I have no idea what it’s actually called.  She gave me a puzzled look, but figured it out ;).    Similarly I remembered the words for fork and spoon but drew a complete blank on knife - I’m sure you can guess which piece of cutlery I needed ;).  Also, no idea how to say cutlery?!?!    Various other things along those lines.

Did manage conversations with the grill guy and a cashier entirely in Spanish w accurate results, so that’s good.   Given enough time and patience on the part of the listener I can find ways around my vocabulary - eg, I apparently don’t know how to say knife, but I can say ‘the thing you cut food with’ lol.   Also - I learned what vocabulary I do have is a mix of Spain-Spanish and Americas-Spanish.  And the two are not always super interchangeable so I get some odd looks from time to time. 

My evesdropping - uh listening skills ;) are also improving.  Some are too fast or speak in a tone (accent?) that I can’t catch at all, but the vast majority of the conversations I randomly overheard I could understand at least most of, so I was pleased w that.

Ah well - I’m pretending it’s improving ;).  Slowly.

Enjoying every minute

It's our last day :(.  While I am looking forward to returning to eating a little more normally, I'm not ready to return to cold or work.  Ugh.  Finally feeling super relaxed and happy, and now time to go home...

Otherwise though, it was a super nice day.   Chris and I revisited our massage friends - if you happen to be down this way, Juanita and Carlos are the people to talk to :).   Was not a bad start to the day.  Otherwise bounced around in some waves and spent the rest of the day at the pool :)

Pretty civilized really :)

Monkeying around

An absolutely lovely relaxing day of nothingness today.  

In the morning we went down to the monkey bar to take pics of the monkeys.  I love the ones w the white faces!!!  So many of them - some even Mom’s w babies.  Super cute.  I admit I was a horrible human and fed them some fruit (generously donated from an equally horrible human).  Only fruit they could acquire themselves (eg pineapple) but still...   coolest feeling for them to come down from the tree to take it.   Also really enjoyed watching the athleticism as they monkied around the trees :). Many many pictures of this once I get around to uploading them ;)

Me being bad tourist

Otherwise we pretty much spent the day at the pool, with the occasional trip to go bounce in the waves of the ocean - which is about the same temperature as said pool.  All kinds of civilized.  Also, update - a Blue Hawaiian is a piña colada w blue curaçao and rum (which I get is part of the piña colada, but that’s how they described it).

Went to the Italian restaurant for dinner tonight.  Had some really amazing lasagna :).  Not sure what made it any different than normal, but yummmm 

Chris wasn’t feeling great this eve so I left him to early bed and went to the evening show of Grease.   The same as all resort versions of Grease *g*.  Moderately amusing, but if you didn’t know the actual story you’d be so lost...   Lots of our group was there though so that was fun :)

Great relaxing day :).  And those monkeys were so much fun!

Happy Anniversary to Us :)

5 years ago today, Chris and I were married :).   

We found this in our room; I added the sunglasses :)
Today we celebrated by being seriously anti-social and keeping the day for ourselves.  We took a water taxi into Coco Beach and wandered around looking at touristy stuff.  Got Chris some coffee :). All good.  Coming home, the taxi guy told us to sit and have a beer since it would be a while -- and then I saw the boat was pulling away!   Lol he went down and waved them back; I felt bad everybody had to wait for us, but when I went to go on time we were told not to!  

Lol when we did manage to make it back, we hung out by the pool, but away from the rest of our group -- although we did visit briefly with our moms :).  Sea turtles are being cared for in a habitat on the beach and a sign went up saying they’d be released at 5:30 so went down to watch that.  Not nearly as cool as seeing them come up out of the sand of their own volition but still fun - and this time I had my camera w me ;)

Dinner was at the steakhouse where we’d had our reception.  They DID honour our reservation so I was pleased at that.  Although dinner itself was meh.  There was an angry raccoon demanding his toll.  Chris dumped a glass of water on him earning a Tucker-worthy glare.  A second glass of water convinced him to move on...

Overall a really nice anniversary:)

A moonlit beach

It was a stunningly gorgeous night for a walk on the beach.  High twenties with a slight breeze.  The full moon and cloudless sky made  a flashlight completely unnecessary.  The sand - black and too hot to walk on barefoot by daylight, was cool, soft, and white by moonlight.  Bright enough to see footprints and critter tracks, avoid the occasional stones, and admire a sand-art self portrait.  

As we got farther from the resort the sound of the crashing waves drowned anything from the resort, and the scent of campfire wafted gently.   We passed two or three campfires along the beach - locals enjoying their Saturday night.  But no noise or other lights so it only served to enhance the atmosphere.  

The foam from the crashing waves drew white lines on a dark ocean that were almost luminescent as they crashed on the beach.  Standing in them, the water was cool for the first few crashes and then lovely for the rest of the walk.  

It was the kind of night that spurs belief in magic and the fantastic.  There’s no doubt the fairies danced on the waves while the mermaids plotted murder and mayhem.  Perhaps a dragon cast an occasional shadow flying in front of the moon...  on these kinds of nights, it's entirely possible...