Here there be dragons...

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

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:

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...


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.

Escape from reality

So I got to escape to the cottage for a few days and it was amazing.  Sasha did *all* the running around with multiple walks, swims, and ball/squirrel chasing excursions each day.

One thing I got to try for the first time was paddle boarding.  I've wanted to try it for quite some time, but wasn't sure I'd enjoy it.  Mostly cause I feel like I should enjoy canoeing and kayaking, but I don't actually like either.  But this one for some reason I really enjoyed.  There were no boats out, so the lake was still and quiet; it was so peaceful.  I kinda wanted to just paddle out to the middle and lie down and float for a while to soak up the quiet.  The best was when a duck paddled alongside me for a while.  

Super relaxing

And then, to balance it out, I went sea-dooing ;).  Always good to top off some relaxation with some adrenaline.  I have done that before, but not since I was a teenager.  And again, with nobody on the lake, we could really enjoy :).  Even managed to get some air time skipping over Linda's wake :)

So yeah, All the Fun.

Sad that summer's over, and wasn't nearly long enough a vacation, but was still a really excellent refresh :)

And I was super-pleased to see the Candy Store has so far survived COVID and was open for business; my annual allotment of Jelly Tots has been secured.  Important things in life.

Sasha was absolutely exhausted on the ride home

Cause the Spanish language isn't fast enough...

So was moderately amused the other day in my Spanish lesson when my prof opened up a youtube video and went to the speed selection -- I, naively, thought he was going to show me how to slow the native speakers down so I'd have a hope at understanding (which I acknowledge is an option I may have utilized previously ;). But no, no that was not his intent at all.  Instead, he SPEEDS THEM UP!  Wtf?!?!  Spanish is already the second fastest common language in the world, but sure, let's make it faster. lol.  I have to give him credit though - it was an interesting exercise.  He wanted me to just pick out any words I could -- apparently even one would be acceptable.  The like five I came up with was a shocker ;).  We repeated it a couple times then he slowed it down to 1.5x normal and I got a few more.  By the time we got to normal speed I had enough to figure out context.  Admittedly not an exercise that's super-useful on my own as it requires somebody who can actually understand it to identify if the words I think I hear are actually there, but still good.


I've also discovered that SO many of my DVDs and BluRays have a Spanish option :). This is particularly awesome for animated movies where the misaligned speaking (which generally drives me insane) doesn't matter at all.  So I've been playing with that and have to say I have a HUGE respect for the translators dealing w musicals.  Lol not only do they have to translate, but also in a rhythm and rhyme that works with the English songs.  Now to be fair, I have no idea how much of these I'm "understanding" because I already have the movies memorized.  I may or may not rewatch favourites on a regular basis.  But I'm getting enough to acknowledge that the meaning if not the literal translation are generally pretty close to the original.  For instance, Be Our Guest was moderately amusing in Spanish as "Guest" has 3 syllables in Spanish so credit to the translators on that one.  No closed captioning with this option though, so I’m thinking my knowledge of the story helps balance out the fact that I can’t read to cheat ;).  With stories I don’t already know, I definitely still need the text option to get anything more than the gist.  Ah well.


I also learned how much I generally just listen to movies I already know.  Was watching Anastasia in Spanish and paying much closer attention than normal; SO many details on screen that add to the story that I’d long since forgotten.   But when you don’t really understand the words, any hints help ;).  


The challenge continues….