Sunday, April 24, 2016

life returns to College Woods - change external and internal

Marley and I took a casual walk through College Woods today - well, one of us walked, the other ran everywhere and smelled everything and pooped three times in the woods - I'll leave it to you to figure out who did what.

I know I posted earlier about us making it through the transition, but I realized I hadn't walked the College Woods trail in probably two weeks, and wow life is really blooming.

These are the first maple leaves I have seen this season. That made me happy. I have seen buds on trees around Durham, but I haven't seen many on the trees at the LHH yet. 

The thing about walking the same trail regularly is you get to watch the changes that happen. Some of them are natural, like the appearance of new leaves on the trees, or the blooming of new plants from the ground. Like these leafy things - I don't know what they are called - but they certainly were there the last time I walked across the bridge.

Some of the changes are not natural - but are man-made. I noticed this pile of stones just a little further down the trail from the leafy things. This little peninsula is just a bit past the bridge I usually cross, and so I don't usually go on it. But the pile of stones caught my eye because unlike the greenery, the stones don't just suddenly appear on their own. So I went down to investigate.

As you can see, the stones were partially painted with designs, and tucked under the stones were typed messages. I didn't want to disturb the stones, so I could only make out a bit of the text. 

I thought these were cute. No harm. It's not like College Woods is pristine wilderness, so I don't think there is any harm to piling a few painted rocks. 

It's nice to share the woods.

It's nice to watch things change.

It got me reflecting on how I haven't stayed in one place long enough to watch things change for most of my life. Or at least, I have not had the time or inclination to watch things change. I'm trying to change that about myself.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

the turning point

We have passed the turning point - and the grey interlude has come to an end. Leaves have suddenly popped out of the bare sticks that are the raspberry bushes (above) and blueberry bushes (below).

This makes me happy. I am seeing buds on many of the trees when I walk to work. Still many are bare. But seeing the buds and even some early leaves gives me hope. Spring hope. A seasonal sense of renewal. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

for my next 30 day challenge... guitar!

We gave my daughter an electric guitar for Christmas a couple of years ago. I've been longing to get some sort of music back into my life, so I decided for my next 30 day challenge feed my soul rather than my body. I'm going to see how much I can learn by trying to practice every day for 30 days for at least 15 minutes a day.

I took guitar lessons for a few months when I was 12. I think I still know three chords (A, D, and G - though I'm not sure). I never learned how to play individual notes, but the book I am working with starts with individual notes, so this is a whole different approach to learning guitar.

I can read music (I played piano and trumpet once upon a time), but beyond that I have little knowledge.

So we'll see. This should be fun. I now know a whole octave and can limp through a very simplified passage of Ode to Joy. (today is day 4, by the way)

Monday, April 18, 2016

small moments

Much of life is consumed in the small moments. The act of consuming food being an important part of those small moments.

I suppose that is why I obsess a little about photographing my food. I also try to obsess, at least weekly, about making some dish that I am really pleased with.

I'm hearing a lot about mindfulness these days - maybe because I am tuning in to a particular group of podcasters that are focused on self-improvement. Over the last seven plus years since I took up photography seriously, I have found it to be my primary means of mindfulness. I am a rush, rush, do, do kind of guy, unless I have a beer or a glass of wine in front of me. The camera helps me slow down and appreciate life.

These photographs are an example of appreciating life. I made an excellent omelet this morning - with caramelized onions and hot mango cheese. But also note and appreciate the differences between the light in the two photographs: the top one (with the ingredients) has very soft light - there are almost no shadows; the bottom photograph has classic hard light - everything is angles and shadows. In fact it was the shadow of the chair (on the left) that attracted me to make the composition. The study of photography slows you down - it forces you to realize things like there is such a thing as "soft light" and "hard light".

So it is true of all learning, which is why I try to constantly be learning. The more you know, the more ways ("do" as the Japanese call them) you explore, the more you appreciate life. Because life is what happens in between the exciting moments, while you are waiting. It is mostly the small moments.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

bringing the beauty inside

My daughter picked one of our daffodils and brought it inside for Kandie. When we've got a single flower like this we usually put it in the sill above the sink. The morning sun just streams in and lights the flowers up.

I was thinking how this is a nice metaphor - to bring the beauty inside. There is so much that is amazing and beautiful all around us, but we so infrequently in our days pause to bring the beauty inside, to internalize it and make it a part of us. 

Our little sill is the better for the flower, if only for a few days. As are we.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

7 days of intermittent fasting - not a success

So I set out to try intermittent fasting for a week. A couple of days into it I thought it might be sustainable, but by the end of the week I knew for sure it was not going to work.

The main problem was I just couldn't get into the mindset. During the last 15 minutes of each day's window, I started to lose my mind. I basically ate anything that was not nailed down. By the end of the week I had gained three pounds and was stressed out.

I liked the idea of discipline, but I don't think this is an effective way for me to improve my health. I am still thinking about doing some sort of fasting routine. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

intermittent fasting - days 4 & 5

Yesterday was day five of my intermittent fasting experience. I'm not sure I'm getting used to the idea yet. I shifted my eating window back by an hour until 1 PM (from normal noon) so that I could eat until 9 PM, because I thought we might go out to dinner, which we did.

That was about the only example of real planning that this eating rule forced me to do so far this week. That's one of the nice things about this concept - the rules are very simple.

I am hungry in the mornings. I would like a few calories, though I haven't felt weak or feint or anything. I am working out at the gym three days a week in the morning, and that is fine because ordinarily I don't eat before I go to the gym anyway.

I did turn down going for a run this morning because I thought I might feel weak if I did that, though. That's the first time I haven't done something as a result of this eating rule. I plan to go later in the day - either right before my eating window or sometime in the middle.

I don't think I've been overdoing the eating during the window, though one downside is I am still getting panicky toward the end of the window. When I see the clock ticking down to the last fifteen minutes or so, I have a very powerful urge to eat pretty much anything I can get my hands on. Oddly enough, I don't feel so powerful an urge when the window starts. If I could get past the that feeling of desperation, this whole thing would work much better.

I'm looking at this eating rule as a kind of medicine, and maybe even a character building exercise. Medicine in the sense that it might have an effect on my insulin sensitivity; but beyond that, as a sort of Stoic character building exercise. Denying oneself something small, like eating whenever one wants, is a good way to practice dealing with other, real deprivation.