Category Archives: Fitness

Is the basement clean yet?

Um.  No.

I have made progress, I swear!

  • I’ve taken one truck full of things to Hand’s Up, a regional charity (like Goodwill or the Salvation Army).
  • I’ve thrown out three extra garbage cans of trash.
  • I’ve given away several items through my workplace message center AND
  • I’ve sold ONE tool.
  • I’ve even posted a few things on e-bay (no bidders yet).

In addition to all of this great basement related work, I’ll have you know I have also:

  • patched holes in my bathroom wall because I
  • drilled holes in my bathroom wall to hang the
  • new shower curtain rod after the old one fell completely out of the ceiling

I have also visited friends on weekends instead of cleaning my basement, gone on several walks with my dog instead of cleaning my basement, attended several stimulating gallery talks and plays instead of cleaning my basement, and – most importantly, made home made beef broth and then home-made Pho, instead of cleaning my basement.

Perhaps I should promise myself to clean my basement all the time as a way to make every other thing in my life a more attractive thing to do!

Even though I estimate I am only 1/3-2/5 finished, I have learned a lot in the process so far.  Here’s some of my basement cleaning wisdom.

  1. If it hasn’t been out of the wrapper since you bought it, and that was more than a year ago, YOU DON’T NEED IT.
  2. Even though I am trying hard not to put things in a land fill, SOME THINGS JUST NEED TO BE THROWN OUT.
  3. Those pants NEVER LOOKED GOOD on me.
  5. Apparently, cleaning the basement is NOT a one-month project.

Will I finish before 2012?  Maybe.

Do I care if I do or not?  Absolutely not.


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Filed under Hiking, Organizing

The end of an era.

I have had little trouble honoring my goal of getting outside this month.  The weather is (mostly) cooperating and I live in a beautiful place with woods and a river nearby.  It is an amazing feeling to reconnect with nature as more than an occasional escape.  In my past I have often been a person who walked in the woods every day and routinely did 6-12 mile hikes almost every weekend.

I am happy to report that despite my additional years and what I am fondly calling my extra ‘thesis weight,’ I can still manage the walking and the hills quite nicely, thank you very much.  I am even happier to report that my recent discovery of kayaking on the Susquehanna will give me some wonderful variety in the way I experience my beautiful surroundings.

This is a sad re-birth, however.  My Hannah, while still alive and well, can no longer tolerate long wanders in the woods.  She has a hard time with short walks too, in fact, and so we have mostly been sticking to the neighborhood and the local dog park and limiting our outings to 45 minutes or less.

It is hard to remember hiking without Hannah, my outdoor companion.  With the exception of the few hikes I have taken abroad or across the country, Hannah has walked every single walk with me for thirteen years.  In fact, she’s probably hiked twice what I have.  Her border collie instincts kick in when we are outdoors, and she always checks on the herd – running from the front to the back of any group – and then to the front again.

Want to go on a walk Shelby? Let's go on a walk!

A great trail dog, Hannah helps me to stop and relax and enjoy the view.  She stays close by even while she is exploring – always returning to me every few minutes to check-in.  She motivates me to get outside when I don’t feel like moving, and then I am so grateful for the fresh air in my lungs.  Her sheer love of the walk and the outdoors (tail wagging all the while) puts me in a great mood and encourages me to focus on here – now – not on anything else.  When I take her off-leash she is overjoyed.  She sits obediently while I remove her collar and stays until I give her the command to run free, when she bounds off, elated.  I am elated to be off-leash too.

A few years ago a friend, who knows I am clutzy and prone to walking into file cabinets and tripping on my own feet, noticed something while we were hiking together.  He said “for someone who gets new bruises every day, you sure can walk on the rocky trails of PA without any trouble at all. What’s that about?”

I pondered his observation – something I’d never noticed but that is certainly true.  I think the answer is that when I’m in the woods, I am just in the woods.  I am walking and relaxing and focused on that one activity.  For a person prone to multi-tasking (and have I mentioned making things far more complicated than they need to be), this singular focus is an important way I recharge and care for myself.  And it is something I have most certainly learned from my dog.

In spite of her grey hairs and her aching joints, Hannah is still a happy, healthy dog.  I am hopeful that I have at least a few more good years with her.
I know that her company is a gift, whether we get into the woods or not.  But I am missing her there, and I am grieving.

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Filed under Hiking, Life

I can make anything complicated.

I’m happy to report moderate to great success on both of my June resolutions.

First, the nightly touches.  I thought it would be a good idea to spend 15 minutes every night picking up the house and getting ready for a clean start (literally and figuratively) in the morning.  I was right.  The morning AFTER evenings I have done this are much more smooth and enjoyable.  In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that those entire days are more productive and happier as well.  I’m not sure I’ll ever reach 100% on this resolution – nor am I certain I want to.  Sometimes being open to spontaneity means that I will be busy until 11:00 PM and then want, immediately, to go to bed.  My life is not so complicated (no partner, no children, no commute) that I can’t manage when my house is a bit untidy or I haven’t planned my lunch for the next day. Overall, though, I like the idea and will try to remember how much mental energy is saved the next day by 15 minutes the night before.

So, lets move on from this boring resolution and get to what’s really interesting:
my ability to make an information management project out of ANYTHING.

Yes, it’s true.  I can take a resolution about getting outside into the woods and communing with nature into a database opportunity.

You heard me.

Here’s how it happened.

I went on a hike at Bald Eagle State Park.  Yay!

It was a great hike, but it was shorter than I had hoped for two reasons.  One, there was a bald eagle nest somewhere on the trail so the park had closed it to hikers.  Nothing I could do about that.  But two, I left for this hike later than expected because it took me an hour to read about hikes in the area and pick one.  Had more time been available to me, I would have found another trail to supplement my initial hike with.  Instead, I felt pressed for time and added only a short (but lovely, I admit) walk on a butterfly trail in the main area of the park.

This isn’t all that uncommon.  I set aside a day for hiking but I forget that it takes me a while to determine where to go.  I have about 100 hiking in PA books (ok, a slight exaggeration, but I have a lot).  Some are better than others for identifying where the hikes really are or how to get there.  So in addition to picking a hiking distance (usually between 5-10 miles), difficulty (usually moderate), and region (north, east, west), I have to spend time with PA maps, a Gazetteer, and sometimes notes from previous hikes. So I wake up on Saturday morning, gather my supplies, and then spend an hour researching.

I have a great idea!

What if I picked about 20-25 hikes I might do this summer and did all the research ahead of time?

Great, I can read books and put post-it notes on the pages of hikes I like!

But wait! What if instead of putting post-it-notes in books, I created an excel spreadsheet with hike information so I can easily find the hike I want?

That would be AWESOME!

But wait!  What if I defined the regions of PA once and for all (each book uses a different way to divide the state), and made a large PA map with regions and flags for each hike I could hang on my wall?

But wait!  There’s a GOOGLE Maps API that would allow me to make a map online with links and…

But wait! if I’m going to do all this work, shouldn’t my friends benefit from it?

I could make a web page for people based in Lewisburg, and link to all the other cool sites about things to do outside…not just hiking, but camping, and canoeing, and cool day-trips and….

Maybe an intervention is in order.

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Filed under Fitness, Hiking, Relaxing, Research

Ok, Let’s Review

I’m nearing the three month mark of my twelve month experiment, one resolution a month.  As the end of March approaches, my mind is already turning towards the selection of a resolution for April.  But before I begin that debate, I thought it was time for a quick review.

If I had to sum up my experiment in two words, they would be FUN and SURPRISING.

Fun – I’ve enjoyed this way more than I imagined I would, even though I had an inkling it would be interesting.

Surprising – I’m thoroughly surprised and delighted that people are reading my blog and really enjoy the comments I get, both online and in conversations with folks.  The extrovert in me who processes by interaction and dialog is very grateful and thoroughly enjoying herself.  THANKS!

Here’s a summary with my best tips from each resolution so far.

Five Servings a Day

I had a 100% success rate with eating five servings of fruits/vegetables in January.  I’ve tried to maintain this behavior since then and am having success. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I now eat more fruits/veggies as snacks – way more.  If I haven’t had my five servings yet, I don’t let myself snack unless it’s a fruit/veggie.  Wow, this cuts down on the potato chips.

Since I’m no longer a Type-A, obsessive “J” (seriously, I’m not)(no really, I’ve changed), I am not tracking my behavior too rigidly now that my official resolution month is over.  That being said, it’s now a habit to count servings every day and I don’t even need a chart on my refrigerator.  I’ve missed two to three days max since January 1, and even on those days I’ve had 3-4 servings.   Not bad veggie girl, not bad.

Buy the fruits and veggies you like.
It seems obvious, but often we try too hard to do all of the right things.  If you only like broccoli and apples, start by just eating five servings of broccoli and apples.  SURE, it’s best to have variety nutritionally, but give yourself a break and start with what you like!

Get the day started right.
It’s a lot easier to achieve this goal if you add fruits and veggies to breakfast and lunch.  Dinner seems much harder to control, especially since someone else might be cooking it.  If you don’t eat at least one serving at each breakfast and lunch, it will be almost impossible to catch up with dinner.


This month was all about not drinking for me, though you could really pick anything you wanted to stop for a month, just to see what it’s like.  This resolution was easy for me to keep (another perfect record), but I’ve changed very little of my behavior now that the month is over.  I’d like to consider this more but I can’t seem to spend mental energy on this – perhaps that has something to do with my pending thesis deadline.  Is there a correlation between approaching deadlines and the need for a gin and tonic?  I THINK SO.

Announce your resolution.
It’s helpful to let others in on your goal, especially when our culture has such expectations about indulgence.  Whether it’s not drinking or skipping dessert, I found others much more supportive of my choice when they knew I had made a promise to myself.

Don’t avoid situations just to keep your resolution.
You don’t learn much about yourself if you just avoid the situations where you’d normally engage in the ‘forbidden’ behavior.  And besides, being sober while everyone around you is drinking is kind of entertaining!


When I realized I could not touch my toes I knew it was time for action.  Stretching action, that is.  I haven’t failed at this resolution – in fact I’ve learned a lot – but I am batting about .600 on this one (too bad it’s not baseball, I’d be a pro!).  This behavior feels the most NEW for me, though, and I’m really enjoying what I’ve learned and how I’ve experimented with building this into my routine.  I think it will take me more than 30 days to do it, but I still hope to create a habit out of this one.

Find your time and space.
No, I don’t mean early 21st century, planet Earth.  I mean you need to find the time of day that works for you as well as the place where you will enjoy this exercise.  I learned that I like morning stretching best, but I also enjoy a post-workout stretch.  I also learned that I need to be in a warm room and that a quiet environment isn’t as important to me as an open space.

Get the gear.
No, you don’t need $100 yoga pants to stretch every day.  But having a good yoga mat and some comfy clothing, plus a DVD or two has been incredibly helpful to me.

Think “Days Off” not “I’ve Failed”
When I skipped a few days in a row, it was important for me to just give myself permission to consider those days ‘off’ instead of thinking that I had completely failed to keep my resolution.  I know, I said earlier I’m not a perfectionist any more (ha!), but even us go-with-the-flow P’s can be hard on ourselves sometimes.  Lighten up and give yourself a break!

What Does April Have in Store?

The word is still out on April’s resolution and I probably won’t decide until the last minute.   I’ve got one more month before I graduate, so I still need a resolution that doesn’t require a ton of time.  I have some ideas (as always, the conference room in my head is debating the merits of a clean house vs. starting a garden as I write), but I’m interested: Any suggestions?


Filed under Fitness, Resolutions, Thesis, Tips and Resources

Stretching Resources

WOW.  I had no idea that my lack of stretching success could inspire others!

Apparently, Kris has my back – she’s stretching this month too now, so that at last one of us is stretching every day.  Thanks Kris!

I am happy to report that I’ve fully embraced this resolution – finally.  And several of you have asked me for resources, so here is a short list.

If you’re anything like me, you may already have many of these in  your house, long forgotten under a pile of old magazines or a dusty closet.  If you don’t have them already, before you buy any of the books or DVDs listed here, consider checking your local public library to see if they have any of these resources you can borrow for free.  Yup, that’s how libraries roll.

Balance Ball Beginners Workout DVD

I already had the balance ball from a previous attempt to begin an in-home workout routine and lo-and-behold it came with a DVD!  It has a nice 15 minute stretching routine which I am using quite often.  Apparently, I like someone telling me what to do, even though I think I am actually smart enough to come up with 15 minutes of stretching exercises on my own.

AM/PM  Yoga for Beginners DVD

I have used this DVD in the past and was able to find a friend who could loan it to me by posting a request on Facebook.    The workouts are 20 minutes, which is just short enough to fit into even the most busy morning routine.  (Full disclosure: there are some days when I have no “morning routine.”)

Lewisburg Area Rec Association (LARA) Pilates Classes

These classes are fairly inexpensive and have a wonderful instructor.  Although I want to hate her for her ballet dancer’s body and incredibly strong abs; I can’t.  She is super sweet, very patient, knowledgeable, and extremely good at explaining Pilates moves in a way that beginners can understand.  If you’re in the Lewisburg area, I strongly recommend these classes.

The Pilates Body, by Brooke Siler

This book was recommended to me by my Pilates instructor.  It’s hard to understand Pilates exercises from writing and drawings (DVDs or in-class instruction is easier), but this book does the best job of those I considered.  I’m keeping it in my gym locker now so I can tack on an exercise or two at the end of every workout.


This is a simple and inexpensive software program that will remind you to stretch while you are sitting at your desk.   You can even download it free for 30 days to try it out without giving anyone your credit card number (amazing!).  If your job involves sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, this is a great tool to keep you alert and productive as well as, well, stretched.

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Filed under Community, Fitness, Resolutions

Relax Your Tongue

When I was in high school, my mom quit smoking.  Although I have never smoked a cigarette, I have witnessed the quitting process through friends and family many times.  I know that it isn’t easy.

I recall it being particularly tough for my mother, who worked hard to cut down on her own but finally resorted to therapy and hypnosis to quit completely.  This was before nicotine patches, you know.

Apparently, someone along the way gave her a relaxation tape to use every day to counteract the stress of quitting.   She would retire to her bedroom, pop a tape in, and – well – RELAX.

Except often my father and I would hear giggles from the bedroom.  Sometimes giggles turned into outright laughter.  Sometimes, she would emerge from her ‘relaxation’ with tears in her eyes from laughing so hard.


The soft, harmonious, gentle voice on the tape kept telling her to relax her tongue.

Perhaps it’s not that funny to you, but in my family this phrase is now part of the family history – and can instantly make any one of us smile.

Now its 2011 and I’m trying to relax myself.  I’m not trying to quit smoking, but to improve my flexibility and build strength for backpacking and hiking and, well, middle age.  Because I can’t seem to do this stretching thing on my own, I pop in my yoga DVD and Rondey Yee walks me through a simple 20-minute yoga stretching routine.

“Release from the corners of your eyes,” he says.  “Feel the earth through your toes,” he says. “You feel as calm as a mountain spring,” he says.

Um.   WHAT?

That’s right, my mother’s voice giggles in the back of my mind.

He said “relax your tongue.”



Filed under Fitness

Just Apply Pressure

Apparently there is nothing like admitting failure to my friends and family in a public forum to motivate me!

Here’s my stretching report since my last post:

Friday            15 Minute Stretch Workout

Saturday      15 Minute Stretch Workout

Sunday          1 Hour Pressure Point Massage

Monday       20 minute AM Yoga plus Post-Squash Stretching

Tuesday       20 minute AM Yoga plus 1 Hour Pilates Class

I am now officially five for eight!

And yes, before you give me a hard time, I am counting the massage as a stretching session because believe me, my muscles were stretched.  And prodded.  If you’ve never had a pressure point massage, then you need to understand that this is not entirely a relaxing, pampering experience.  That being said, my shoulders and neck do feel much better, thank you very much.

Still, this resolution continues to evade me – that is I am not enjoying it as much nor am I finding it as easy to implement.  I’ve decided that part of this is because it is going to take a lot longer to feel the benefits.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure 15 minutes a day will be enough to make much of a difference at all.  It’s true that I feel awesome after my one hour Pilates class every Tuesday evening.  But an hour or two later that feeling goes away.  And after five straight days of stretching I do not feel even the tiniest bit more flexible.

In fact, I might be less flexible.

What’s even more annoying is that a friend did the 20 minute AM Yoga workout with me today and, in spite of the fact that he has never done yoga and he does not stretch ever, he is about 1000 times more flexible than me.  And no, he is not an eight year old.


I want instant gratification!  Do you hear me body?  I want to feel limber and I want it now!

What?  You say it doesn’t work that way?  Especially now that I’m, um, in my FORTIES?

Well, fuck you.

And your little dog too.




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Filed under Fitness, Resolutions

One for Four? UGH.

It’s March 4th, and so far I’m one for four.  That’s right.   All I’m trying to do is stretch for fifteen minutes a day and I’ve only done it once so far.  This doesn’t bode well.

My default response to this situation is to reflect, study myself and the situation, identify barriers, and either (a) redefine my goal or (b) implement barrier crushing solutions.  That’s OH SO J, though, isn’t it?

Theoretically, I’m trying to give the analyst part of me a break, embrace living in the moment a bit more, and work toward a less controlled life.  How would a P respond to the situation?

Seriously, I don’t know.

My habit of dissecting my own attitudes and behaviors is so ingrained that I’ve already done it (I have conference tables of Shelbies in my head, remember!) without even trying.  It’s all I can do to keep from typing it out right now.   I mean it – I’m experiencing a physical sense of wanting to burst – something inside of me that JUST.  CAN’T.  WAIT TO GET OUT!


I recently read about preference cards on the Happiness Project blog.  The idea is to identify the way you prefer things (at work, in your car, etc.) and write them down so that you are more conscious and intentional about setting things up to match your preferences.  At first I thought this was silly until I wrote down some of my preferences for work and realized that I could easily set up my work environment to better suit my preferences, I just hadn’t been conscious enough of those preferences to bother.

For example, some of the work preference I listed include:

* I prefer to start my day with a cup of tea and some quiet time to collect my thoughts and prepare for the day.
* I prefer to listen to music while I work.
* I prefer a clean desk space.
* I prefer a high-speed Internet connection.
* I prefer to type, rather than write.
* I prefer to talk with someone face-to-face, rather than over the phone or over the phone, rather than via e-mail.
* I prefer to have 15 minutes to prepare for a meeting right beforehand, longer if it is a highly charged meeting.
* I prefer to follow-up to a meeting right afterwords, when possible.
* I prefer to walk to meetings, but I need 15 minutes at least to do so without feeling rushed.
Almost all of these are easy to do, and those that aren’t easy are still within my reach most of the time.
So, instead of taking a very J oriented approach (problem-solution), might a “Stretching Preference Card” be a way to approach the situation without completely giving into my habit of over-analysis?  Or would this just be another outfit for the same body?
I’m going to give it a try:
My stretching preferences
* I prefer to have plenty of space to stretch.
* I prefer to stretch in a place where there are no dogs trying to lick my face.
* I prefer to listen to music while stretching, or to use a work-out video or podcast while I stretch.
I like this.
First, it’s a more positive than the approach I would have taken.
Better than “I can’t seem to get out of bed earlier to stretch in the morning.” and “I’ve been sick and then catching up at work so I haven’t been to the gym.” Whine Whine Whine Whine Whine. The instant icky feeling I get from thinking about the resolution from that perspective is unpleasant and unlikely to change my behavior.
Second, these preferences – which I wrote down quickly without thinking too hard – are easy to meet with a few small changes.
I can stretch in my guest bedroom, so I can shut the door and avoid the dogs.  This meets preferences one and two.
With the addition of a iPod payer and a DVD player in the right location, I should be able to meet my music/podcast/video needs.   This takes care of preference three.

I feel in my gut that there are some other preferences that, if ignored, will continue to get in my way.  Do I prefer to stretch in the morning or before bed?  NO IDEA.  Do I prefer to stretch at home or at the gym?  NO IDEA.  Perhaps these preferences will reveal themselves as the month continues.  For now, I will try to honor these preferences and see if anything changes.
For some, this will seem like an awful lot of analysis – hardly the ’embrace the P’ lifestyle I’m trying to create.
But this was SO HARD.  My fingers are still trying to get me to type the reasons why I haven’t been —– STOP IT!
What can I say?  I’m stretching myself with this P thing – haha!  get it?  Stretching myself!


Filed under Fitness, Myers Briggs

If you give a moose a muffin…

One of my all time favorite children’s books is If you Give a Moose a Muffin, by Laura Numeroff (Author), Felicia Bond (Illustrator).

You see, if you give a moose a muffin, he’ll want some jam to go with it.  And so you’ll bring out some of your mother’s homemade blackberry jam, and then he’ll want another.  And another, and another.  So you’ll have to go to the store to get some muffin mix.  He’ll want to go with you, but it’s cold.  So he’ll need a sweater…and so on.

So here how this book relates to my March resolution – stretching every day for at least 15 minutes.

I want to stretch.  But first I need a yoga mat.

I have one! So far so good!

But I need a nice place to stretch.  Someplace relaxing, inspiring, STRETCH-Like.  I won’t actually do it if I don’t have a nice place to do it.

I have a great view of the river.  But there’s not enough space in my bedroom.  And my living room has the dogs, and other people in it.  I have a great upstairs room that I’ve always imagined as a quiet study.  But I have a roommate, and that room is hers.  So I can’t use that room.

I could get rid of my roommate, but I like her.

I know! I could make the basement room into a yoga room!

But wait, that room is full of books.

So I need to build bookshelves in my spare bedroom so I can move the books out of my basement.  I could do that, though, right?

But then the basement room needs a new ceiling.

But I don’t know how to replace a ceiling.  So I need to ask some friends to help.

But my friends are busy, and few of them have dry wall skills.

So I need to save money for the renovation of my basement yoga room (and perhaps the building of my bookshelves, I mean, let’s be honest).

I know!  The basement yoga room could also be a workout room!  With a new treadmill!  and a TV for exercise videos!  Which means I need to save more money!

Which means, perhaps, that I picked the wrong resolution for March.


Filed under Fitness, Resolutions