Category Archives: Physical Challenge

Just Try!

Here I am on the last day of my 366 Somedays and what have I learned?

I have learned not all “Somedays” are meant to be.  Once attention was finally given to some, they just didn’t fulfill the expectations.  The activity was not as fun as anticipated or the amount of work to accomplish the “Someday” was beyond what I was willing to expend.  Speaking Italian fell into this category.  I’ll still dream of living in Italy and conversing fluently with my neighbors, but the reality is I’ll never live in Italy and I’ll never speak Italian – fluently or otherwise.

I have learned goals can be achieved with steady and persistent effort.  My “Someday” to complete the physical challenge of walking or running 1200 miles in a year required me to focus on getting in miles almost daily.  There were times I would have preferred to sit out a workout due to rain, snow, heat, or just plain laziness, but I didn’t – I kept at it for twelve months and I achieved my goal.

I have learned that tackling some “Somedays” leads to the accomplishment of other “mini-Somedays”.  This month, as I’ve been working on restoring my carousel horse (no pictures yet – it isn’t done), I’ve also been painting (with the same paint) a decorative mirror which I’d planned on putting in a specific spot in our home, but which has been sitting in a garage closet for the last two years waiting to be painted and antiqued.

I have learned most “Somedays” cannot be completed within a month.  My very first “Someday” of writing a book in a month was way too ambitious!  The book still isn’t done and the reality is, that may not be the book I end up finishing.  I’ll still write and, eventually, a book will be completed, but it would be disheartening to chastise myself for not finishing in one month.  This has been the hardest lesson to accept.  So many of my “Somedays” aren’t finished and, at first, that bothered me, but all of the “Somedays” I tackled are started and that, in my opinion, is a win.

I have learned some “Somedays” resonate more than others and that is joyous.  Yoga, a “Someday” not chosen, but which I probably would not have attempted if I weren’t going through this journey, has quickly become part of my daily routine and I wonder why I didn’t open myself to it years ago.  Knitting also brings me joy and, while I don’t sit for hours and knit, when I do pick up my needles, I feel a calm wash over me.

So, with successes (1200 mile challenge), failures (speaking Italian), postponements (gardening – the space is finally ready and I’ll try planting this spring), and continuations (writing a book, restoring my carousel horse), perhaps the biggest lesson of this year has been that it’s okay to fail, to not enjoy, to set aside, but it isn’t okay to not even try.

Yoga: The “Someday” Not Taken

Way back toward the beginning of this 366 Somedays journey, I had to make a choice between two “Somedays”:  yoga and meditation.  I felt the two were too closely related to do both as valid “Somedays” on their own.  I ended up choosing meditation because I know my mind pings out of control too frequently.  I have not continued a daily meditation practice, though I have used what I learned so I’m able to sit meditatively for five to ten minutes in the morning on days when I feel overwhelmed.

Yoga was still sitting out there as a “Someday”.  As it’s hovered there in my desires, I’ve found myself increasingly stiff.  This stiffness began a few years ago and it has just continued to get worse.  I felt I needed to stretch more, do more strength training.  My body was feeling old and I was grasping at straws without really making the effort to grab them.

Then, earlier this month, a friend’s blog on quilting popped up in my email inbox as having a new post.  I clicked on it and read what I think will be a life-changing account of her decision to commit to 31 days of yoga and to pursue becoming a yogi (one who regularly practices yoga).  My friend is using Yoga with Adriene’s online (free) YouTube videos for her 31-day commitment.  I checked it out and immediately signed up, sequestered myself from the rest of my family, and did the first session.  I’d like to have some witty words for how I felt, but all I can come up with is, “Wow!”

I’m two weeks into the program and I feel great!  I am light years away from being able to do the poses and transitions like Adriene does, but I’m moving along and I can tell I’m making little steps of progress and, best of all, I am not feeling nearly as stiff as I was just two weeks ago.  I’m not taking my yoga practice out in public.  The sanctity of my private space is perfect for my humble attempts at graceful movement, but I will continue this practice.  Am I sorry I didn’t make yoga an official “Someday”?  Not at all.  If I weren’t taking this journey and allowing myself to be open to new activities, I’m not sure I would have so readily jumped on the bandwagon when my friend wrote about it.  It seems silly to pose this as a “mini-Someday” because it’s definitely not “mini”, but I’ll take it as a “mini” or a “monthly”.  I’m excited where this will take me and that really is the purpose of this journey.

1200 Miles — Woo-Hoo?

milesYesterday I crossed the finish line of my January “Someday”: running and/or walking 1200 workout miles during the calendar year.  I put in miles on the treadmill last winter and early spring and again late this fall when the weather turned bad.  I put in miles in snow, rain, and heat.  I put in miles in Central Oregon, Southern Oregon, Portland, Seattle, The Redwoods, Las Vegas, the Oregon and Washington Coasts, Los Angeles, New York, Rome, Cortona, and Venice.  My monthly mileage has been right around 100 miles except for October when we were in Italy much of the month.  I quietly finished yesterday with three miles on the treadmill before dawn and then a three mile walk on our snowy paths.  There was no finisher’s metal, no finish line crowds; in fact, my husband is the only one who knows right now that I made it to my goal.

So where’s the woo-hoo? Surprisingly, I feel a little ambivalent about completing this year-long quest.  I did it.  I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think I’m taking away from the experience the excitement and enthusiasm I expected.  The reality is, I did this as a physical challenge, but my physical condition is worse than when I started.  I weigh more and my flexibility and strength have declined due to decreased stretching and weight lifting as I’ve dedicated more of my workout time to running and walking.  I’m actually relieved to be done so I can go back to a more rounded workout routine.  I’ll still be on the treadmill or the paths almost daily, but without the need to maintain a 4-mile per day average, six days a week and I’ll also be able to add in more varied workout activities.  So, woo-hoo for me!  I completed my goal.  Maybe sometimes an achieved “Someday” isn’t all we expect it to be.  Maybe it’s true you can’t do it all and a commitment to one thing means you can’t do something else.  As time goes on, I think I will be more proud and more gratified of doing something healthful not many people have matched.  For now I am going to take the best of this – the motivation to be healthy – and apply it to 2017 and the rest of my life!

Wish vs. Do

Think deeply and separate what you wish from what you’re prepared to do.

–Percy Cerutty
A view from my afternoon walk

Yesterday I walked – twice.  I also made cards.  I ended the day feeling relaxed and peaceful (even with the political storm swirling around).  I walk or run in the morning almost everyday, but yesterday I went longer than normal and, later, when the beautiful November afternoon beckoned, I didn’t look at my extensive To-Do list; I went outside.  Before my afternoon walk, I spent a few hours working on greeting cards I wanted to send out.  A couple of hours slipped by as I experimented with my cutting machine, selected papers, found quotes, glued and taped, but they were restorative hours that were thoroughly enjoyable.

During the twelve months of this 366 Somedays, I will have tried twelve activities I’ve always thought I wanted in my life.  I’ve discovered some of these activities simply don’t call to my heart as I thought they would – speaking Italian, for example.  Sure, I’d love to speak Italian, but not enough to put in the time to learn it.  Unfortunately, the same may be true for learning to play drums.  I’m not ready to cross that one off my list, but I’m getting close.

Yesterday, as I practiced a little self-care, I realized I really love walking and running, especially when I do them outdoors.  I also really love making cards and playing with paper.  It dawned on me that a benefit of this 366 Somedays process is I’m homing in on activities I truly love and am prepared to pursue as well as discovering which activities are simply wishful and probably need to fall by the wayside.  I want to spend my time pursuing those activities that leave me with the relaxed, peaceful feeling I experienced last night.  That feeling shouldn’t be reserved for days when I have made a concerted effort at self-care.  That feeling should be the norm and getting there requires letting some activities go in order to focus on others.

1,000 Miles

My January “Someday” was the physical challenge of walking or running 1,200 miles this calendar year.  This challenge is part of the Oregon Road Runners Club’s 1,200 Mile Challenge.  This is the “Someday” at which I’ve been most successful and I’m excited to announce that last week, on the last day of October, I went over the 1,000-mile mark, right on schedule.  I worked hard before October to put in extra miles knowing October’s travel would make it difficult to accumulate miles at my normal rate.  Extra banked miles plus a few runs in Italy and I made my mini-goal of staying on target throughout a month with very low mileage.

I have 200 miles to go, but I’m feeling pretty good about putting this “Someday” to rest before December 31st.  Then what?  I’m thinking another “Someday” will be to learn to swim adequately enough to be able to complete a mini-triathlon.  Right now, though, I need to go pick up my knitting needles and work on this month’s “Someday”.

Rockin’ On

Picture1I’m still plugging away on my January “Someday”: running and walking 1200 miles this calendar year.  My routine has changed throughout the year with the changing seasons and circumstances.  In the early months I did quite a few miles on the treadmill as I waited for dawn to arrive so I could finish my daily miles outside with my dogs.  I live in a resort town, so during the summer months I’ve tried to be out the door no later than 6:00 in order to avoid the crowds of vacationers running, walking, and biking on our trails.

Whether I’m on the treadmill or outside, one of the pieces of my routine that doesn’t change is my running.  I consider myself a runner, but I do enjoy walking, as well.  However, when I run, I do not run continuously.  As the well known running coach Jeff Galloway recommends, I run with walk breaks – a form of interval training.  A problem has arisen for me, though, in how I refer to my workouts.  I am an extremely honest person and I feel uncomfortable saying, “I went for a 3-mile run this morning,” when I actually took walk breaks in that run.  Lately, I’ve been using the cumbersome term, “run-walk” as in, “I ran-walked 3-miles this morning.”  As I was motoring along during my 3-mile run-walk this morning, I was pondering this issue when a lightening idea struck.  From now on, I will combine the two words and I will RALK!  When you say the word “ralk” it sounds like “rock”.  I’m feeling pretty good saying this out loud:  I ralked 3 miles this morning!”

Gold Stars & To Do Lists

In an attempt to accomplish all of my accumulating “Somedays” as well as the regular imagesday-to-day stuff that needs to be done (cleaning, bookkeeping, errands, cooking, etc.) I’ve been searching for little ways to improve my productivity and keep myself on track.  I’ve come up with two that seem to be working:  gold stars and a To-Do list.

Remember gold stars from grade school?  When you’d accomplished a task or exhibited a good behavior you got to put a gold star on the chart.  I specifically remember the reading chart.  Students names were listed down the left-hand side of a large paper and numbers were written across the top.  Each time a student finished a book and filled out a little form about the book, she got to place a gold star next to her name.  Some people didn’t read at all and had few gold stars.  I read voraciously and had stars across the page.  I loved the gold star system.  So, I made up my own little chart with a few of the daily activities I want to be doing:  writing, drumming, stretching, meditating, etc.  Every time I accomplish one of these activities, I get a gold star.  It sounds juvenile, but that’s okay.  I don’t mind acting like a kid now and then.

In addition to these daily activities, there’s also all the other stuff that must be done – bring in the To-Do list.  The list I found has two columns:  To Do Now and To Do Later.  I’m using the To Do Now list for the little things needing to be done around the house, like pay the bills, hang the mirror, finish the laundry, clean the whole frigging house (okay, some of the items aren’t “little”).  The To Do Later list has items that I want to remember to do at some point in time:  call a window cleaner, file papers, organize garage.

I’m getting gold stars on several lines, but not so many on some others.  I’m also checking off To-Do list items right and left (literally right and left, from both the “now” and “later” sides of the paper).  The problem is, I’m not really prioritizing what I’m doing.  There are some things that are not negotiable.  For instance, my daily walk/run has to happen or my four dogs become unruly, bills must be paid or my credit will suffer, grocery shopping must occur or we don’t eat.  However, other activities too easily get left to drift out of my awareness, if not off the list.

So, there you have it:  I love my gold stars, I’m crashing through my To-Do list, but I still need to prioritize!

Back on One Horse — Being Dragged by Another

Gardening Gnome
Not just a garden gnome, but a gardening gnome, on my greenhouse windowsill.

A couple days ago I wrote about my Skip Day.  I’m happy to report I’m back up on that horse – I’ve already made up the mileage lost on my Skip Day and my reserve mileage is as high as it has been since I began the 1200-mile challenge as my January “Someday”.

However, as my January “Someday” gallops along, my March “Someday”, gardening, is being dragged through the dirt (pun intended).  I started my composter going back in February, had soil delivered to my greenhouse by the first of March, and I’ve ordered seeds.  However, there are some things about gardening I just didn’t know.  I didn’t realize I needed a propagator (a place to grow the seeds until they’re little plants).  I thought the seeds would arrive and I’d just plop them into the soil and, voila, my garden would grow.  I also thought the sun beating down into the greenhouse would be a good thing.  Plants need sun, right?  Well, apparently they need some sun, but not too much.  Now, while I wait for my seeds and my propagator, I’m trying to figure out how I can shade the windows of my greenhouse knowing it will be beastly hot in there come summer.  I also didn’t realize different seeds should be planted at different times.  I picked March for my gardening “Someday” because I thought that’s when people started gardens.  A greenhouse gardening book I just bought gives a year-round schedule for pursuing a garden in a greenhouse.  I’m reading it and figuring out how to make this first garden successful while already planning what I’ll do differently next year.

I’m disappointed the little green plants I thought would be sprouting by now are only seeds somewhere on their way to me, but I’m learning so much.  I haven’t fallen off the gardening horse, I’m just doing a little acrobatic jumping around in the saddle as I try to figure out how this all works.

Skip Day

When I began the 1200-mile challenge in January, my plan was to average 4 miles per day, 6 days per week with Sunday being a rest day.  Throughout all of January and February and through almost half of March, I didn’t take that Sunday rest day.  My reserve mileage increased and the extra Sunday miles allowed for lighter-mile days now and then.

Even though working out every day had not been part of my “someday” plans, I was beginning to think I might keep up the pace and do 366 exercise days in a row.  Then, Tuesday happened.  Tuesday was my travel day back home from spending two weeks with my daughter, son-in-law, and my newborn grandson.  I had planned to hit the trail that morning, but then there were two hours of blissful baby-holding.  I went to a late breakfast with my mother-in-law wearing my workout clothes, thinking I would head out the door as soon as I returned from breakfast, but then breakfast ran long as we chatted and caught up.  I drove home (four hours) still wearing my workout clothes.  I thought I’d head out for a walk as soon as I arrived home in the very late afternoon, but then my daughter and her boyfriend, who were spending part of their spring break at our house, were waiting and hoping for dinner out before they left the next morning.  End result?  I took a skip day!  Do I regret it?  Not a bit!  I spent time with my two-week old grandson, I enjoyed conversation with my mother-in-law, and I had a lovely time with my daughter and her boyfriend.  I would regret skipping time with family, but I can easily make up the four miles lost on my exercise skip day.

“Someday” Report Card

Today is the last day of my first trimester of “somedays”.  I’ve finished four months and it’s time to grade my progress.

Month 1 – Write and publish a non-fiction book in 30 days.  Grade:  Incomplete

Even though I didn’t finish this project in the time allotted, I’m not going to give myself a failing grade.  I am still working on the project and it will get done, so “incomplete” seems a more fitting grade than “fail”.

Month 2 – Begin a meditation practice.  Grade:  B

I’m meditating almost daily, but most of my meditation practice is now walking meditation.  I like walking meditation, but I also think sitting meditation has its benefits.  In order to receive an “A” grade I need to work more sitting meditation into my practice.

Month 3 – Begin 1200-mile Club challenge.  Grade:  A+

The goal is to walk or run 1200 miles this calendar year.  I worked that out to 4 miles per day, 6 days per week.  As of yesterday I have walked and run 227 miles putting me 27 miles ahead of my goal pace.

Month 4 – Learn Italian.  Grade: F

I’m beginning to think there are some “somedays” which should remain a goal for some other day.  Or, perhaps, they should be set aside with the realization that it just ain’t gonna happen.  Italian may be that type of “someday” for me.  I struggled all month and I cannot even count to ten or carry on the simple get-to-know-you conversation I had set as my goal.  I’m not going to get rid of the Italian language books and tools I purchased, but I’m not going to say this will be an on-going project, like writing a book.  I may pick the books up again at some future date, but I will no longer say, “I’m going to learn Italian someday.”