ImageMarch 12, 2013

We've had the gamut of weather here lately, from a dumping of snow last Wednesday that left us without power until late Friday evening, to 60 degree sunshine on Sunday, and now enough rain falling that our backyard looks like a western feeder lake for the Chesapeake Bay. Snow showers are predicted for tomorrow. I am very ready for those red buds on the maple tree and the yellow peeks on the forsythia to fulfill their promise of impending spring.

A friend of mine, Karen Nourse (more info about her work here), gave me a great gift last week - a detailed critique of some of my Tasty Thursday videos. Her comments included down-to-the-second “this worked and this didn’t” as well as links to vlogs I might like to follow for educational purposes. I was blown away by the time she took, unbidden, as well as the things I learned from her. Small things, like how different perspectives can lend depth and interest to even a short video, and how mixing the shots up keeps a viewer watching. I’m anxious to put my learning into practice.

I spoke about practice in an earlier blog. My challenge groups are practicing daily, working to improve their exercise consistency and healthy eating. One woman, who is doing incredible work fitting in exercise around a very full life, posting about her struggles and reaching out for guidance and support, expressed some disappointment to me yesterday. “I feel like I’m not doing enough,” she said to me. “Everyone else posts about running 10 miles or lifting 100 pounds. And the scale is not moving and I’m getting depressed. I hate running but I feel like I should be running.” I did my best to show her that every single person in this challenge is in a different spot, exercise-wise. One person’s 10 miles is another person’s 20 minutes of ab work. “If the posts inspire you to push yourself a little further, to try something you didn’t think was possible, then that’s great. If the posts are making you think you aren’t doing enough, then maybe stop looking at them. Look at how far you have come. When you started, your goal was to exercise 5 times a week. You are getting in something every day. Your eating is in a better spot. And it has only been 3 weeks!!!” She said this morning that the little pep talk helped her, for which I am glad.

Jeremy and I are talking about putting our house on the market. This involves a lot of prep work, painting and taking care of small issues that need attention. Last night, fumes from the freshly-primed walls in our room drove us to the guest room, where we will set up shop until the room is finished. Sleeping in that room is a revelation. First of all, it’s a nice room. Soothing colors, a comfortable bed. I don’t feel bad about putting guests in that room. It did make me think about the noise I make in the morning, grinding coffee and clinking away dishes. And I didn’t do my workout this morning in the wee hours as is my preference.

Many family dinner conversations right now are about how people see the house. About how, when you sell a house, you aren’t selling YOUR home – you’re selling someone else a possibility of a life they might want. Selling the dream, baby, selling the dream. We have to make it as simple as possible for someone else to see themselves in this house.

All of these vignettes are linked in that they are about perspective. Looking at videos, or exercise, or a house from the eyes of someone else can help us see things more clearly. Sometimes that takes a conversation, and sometimes it takes literally moving into a different spot.

Whose perspective might you take on today?

Exercises. Or exercising, depending.

February 27, 2013 The clouds, grey and pollution-y, are drifting northeast against a backdrop of complaining crows. The patio is damp from the cold rain that took over much of yesterday, sapping my energy and will to do much.

Today, though, I woke up thinking about exercises. The "lift heavy" and "sweat buckets" kind of exercises, yes (because that's part of what I do), but other kinds too. I'm taking a great writing class at WriterHouse and we have weekly exercises to write and read. And the phrase "exercise in frustration" crossed my mind as I looked at my big task for the day today, getting a grant all organized and sent to the printer.

So what is exercise? Is it practice? I know that as I exercise my body I get stronger, do the moves better and more effectively. Writing exercises help me think, make me notice things in my own writing and that of others. Those can be called practice, I think. What am I practicing as I put together this grant?

Two new blogs I am following make me think about practice and how it applies, and why it is so important in our lives. John Davis writes about coaching soccer (really, about life) - his premise is "excellence through mastery". His latest post concerns how we practice, and how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as strong and capable, practicing with the idea that we WILL GET THERE - then we have a much higher chance of achieving that reality. Dana Stokes writes a bare-bones journalistic blog about her quest to lift heavy, eat clean, and inspire others.

These blogs are so different. But they both circle around to the practice idea. Practice is execution on the way to perfection. You can't get to "perfect" (or even close to it) without the hard work and the vision to do it.

Exercise hard, whether you're lifting, sweating, writing, or reading. It's never an exercise in frustration, and if you call it that, it might well be one.

Watch out, grant. Your butt is mine.

Have a super day!