Wednesday, April 27, 2011

exercise-- it's happening!! It's really, really happening!

You know how you hit a point where you just can't take not moving anymore? I'm the type who LOVES movement. I love being physical. Mostly in a studio, where I can smell the wood floor and make shapes with my body, which somehow becomes the most important thing in the world to me while I'm doing it. But I can also be happy on a trail outside. Walking or jogging is ok, but I kind of love leaping, so if that's possible, that's what I do. If there's no one but my spouse and kids around.

The other day I posted on Facebook that I really cannot take another day without dancing, and I totally meant it. There are some days in my job where I'm just sitting immobile in front of the computer, totally failing to get up even to hit the restroom and get a bite. Some days, taking a big breath was big movement for me. For me, a person who likes to move, I had to tell myself, "Back it up, Buttercup. How did you get here and how are you going to get going again?"

I tried a couple times getting to a class regularly, but it was too much to do it and make the girls dinner AND make it to a class on time. And D doesn't get home until after most classes are in progress. So I tried getting a couple DVDs, but with a 4 and 2 year old, it's kind of difficult to get 45 minutes straight to complete a workout.

But I just couldn't take it any more. Last Friday, I had to take Sabrina for a visit to her new preschool. We had time to go to the gym and without even trying, I could make the 5:30 PM yoga class. It was pretty much the most cathartic thing I've done in months. The teacher happened to be a friend from high school, Malia, who has become this totally brilliant, higher-plane-of-spirituality-evolved yoga teacher who literally emits light (I'm just saying that to annoy you photon-counters out there. But she's really amazing.).

It was so incredible to be on my back on a mat by myself (in a class of adults, that is, but you know), that wood floor beneath my feet, the darkness of the room comforting like a womb. I actually shed tears at the beginning and end of class, it was that cathartic. Malia says things like "let it feel good" and does these excellent, gentle corrections that tell me she's got a sharp kinesthetic awareness. She says "let it feel good" even if it's hard work and the muscles are all burny and shaky-like (which is how I like my yoga and dance classes).

So it's a total shame that we're leaving the gym where she teaches that class, because we've GOT to save money because Sabrina's preschool plus Paloma's preschool will now cost as much as our mortgage. That is painful and scary. Also wrong and makes you want to do something about it.

But it's getting scary to me to not move my body in the way that my body wants to move. The physical health implications of it are scary enough, but I've finally also just had it in ignoring this part of who I am. Finding balance between all or none is essential. So I am going for it. I'm going to try out at least one yoga class a week at the lovely Yoga Company and I have signed myself up for a ballet class starting in July when I signed up the girls for their circus arts class. (They are beside themselves excited to try acrobatics and tumbling.)

And when I'm not doing those things, I'll be doing Bar Method DVDs at home. I'm lucky enough that there's a studio close by, but then we're edging back up those costs we needed to cut. I've found the personal and meticulous and rigorous approach of the Yoga Company teachers to be worth doing (and at-home yoga DVDs haven't been that great for me), so that's where I'll splurge on being in the studio.

I'm probably never getting back in the studio with Mr. Savage (the good old days!! He taught with a Debbie-Allen-from-"Fame" cane!! More muscle burning goodness). But at least I know I'll be dancing a bit, and moving daily and vigorously and sweatily, starting right now. There's a place inside of me that is now very, very content.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I love pomodoros!

It's true I like tomatoes in all their incarnations: spicy bbq sauce, lovely marinara, delectable caprese salad open faced sandwiches, and in the ridiculously addictive slow-roasted version (I heart Smitten Kitchen). Hungry? :)

Let your stomach wait a sec because I'm about to feed your productivity soul. The Pomodoro Technique is familiar but also better implemented than the old "just use a timer" advice. A brilliant colleague (who is, incidentally, way productive) introduced me to the adorable and effective Pomodoro method. It's adorable because who doesn't love the idea of calling an indivisible unit of time "tomato" in Italian?  And it's effective because it helps me to allot the time I require to properly complete tasks-- and then take a 5 minute break.

The Pomodoro Technique is simple; one click through to the site and you'll see. They use a tomato-shaped timer to parcel out time in 25 minute increments, with 5 minutes allotted for doing something completely different with your brain and body. Apparently this helps you absorb and retain info, and also helps boost your productive work time.

The technique aims to reduce anxiety about getting stuff done (which often turns into that terrible self-fulfilling prophecy of not getting stuff done), reduce interruptions, increase focus, and simplify organization.

I've simplified the process that's outlined here for myself, but it's still effective. I'm using a version of his task sheet idea, my regular (8.5 x 11) daily calendar (I love the Staples brand best), the timer and Google calendar to keep things straight. I think the task sheet in Excel has been the best tweak to my routine, because I can have them all in one place rather than scattered throughout my calendar. They're there, too, so I can see due dates as they come, but it's nice to also be able to sort through things by urgency or topic.

And the timer! I sadly don't have a cute tomato timer, but my old square kitchen timer works perfectly. And if a Pomodoro doesn't go well, I follow the rule to say "The next Pomodoro will go better." That helps, in a Tao of Pooh kind of way.

Got a favorite organizational method? Got a favorite tomato recipe? Like spaghetti and marinara? Want to come over for dinner? :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anybody tried Rockmelt yet?

I'm always up for improvements in my online experience, but I try to be really selective about what I change/download/try. Because Lord knows, once you download a stubborn piece of software, the entire Internet (especially Google) knows. And you will be seeing reference to it everywhere.

Rockmelt is one of the few new things on the block that I've really wanted to try. (BTW, that's a link to the SF Chron's business section's article on Rockmelt; the business section has an official Social Media section now, it looks like.)

I wanted to try it so much after reading that article, I actually closed Chrome for a minute so I could download it and give it a whirl. That's a big deal for a person who keeps two laptops open with 20+ tabs going in Chrome each.

So that's the first thing I had to contend with-- I couldn't have my regular browser open when trying Rockmelt.

To back it up a sec: What is Rockmelt? It's a new browser that aims to manage your daily social media interactions in a way that's easy to see, well-organized-- and totally different from the current one website-per-tab way of doing things. From the article:
"We're seeing a renaissance in browsers," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with technology research firm IDC. "It feels a lot like 1999 again."

1999?! Woo hoo!

Right now, I have Hootsuite open in one tab, Facebook in another, Gmail in another, Flickr and YouTube, HuffPo, etc etc. One site per tab. That's how I've been raised, dagnabbit.

Rockmelt is another way of looking at it, literally. Instead of separate pages, siloing your user experience, you've got everything in front of you in one view. In a way, it's brilliantly brand-new-- you can see what's happening across social media platforms. In another way, it retains just enough features of an established browser so you don't feel completely out of your element (I can have multiple tabs open!).

Right after I downloaded it, I couldn't re-open Chrome without crashing it, which was sad since I use my tabs like a to-do list (thus Really Rely on them). But since then, it seems to have no trouble with Chrome being open while Rockmelt is also open.

It also didn't let me sign into Facebook to respond to friends, which was funny since that's *the* way you utilize this thing. It seemed a little finicky.

But. NOW. I don't know if I should swoon yet, but... I just tried sharing a page with a friend via Rockmelt and it seemed to work like a charm. She'll let me know if she actually gets it. :)

And I love the inconspicuous but handy menu in the upper-left, which is essentially a handy combo of a File and Tools/Options dropdown.

I've got some more road-testing to do, but it's speedy and lovely so far. Would love to hear how others are finding it, if you've given it a whirl!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

my own PIG Newton moment

Sabrina has been ... entering full-on two year old mode, shall we say. And by full-on two year old mode, I mean that thing where they want everything at once: to be independent AND dependent, alone AND with you, etc.

So Sabrina was doing her thing, hanging on and occasionally flailing and sometimes smacking into me, and I was tired and getting thirsty and just needed a moment of peace.

And that's when she grabbed my glass of heaven (water with a splash of mango lemonade) and drank out of it. And I think I must have sighed really heavily or said something like, "Let's get you your own cup!" or something that signaled that I wasn't sharing.

Because then Paloma decided to pipe up in support of her sister. "You should SHARE, mama."

And really? REALLY? After countless days and nights of never-ending work, now I'm getting sharing advice from my four year old? I probably should have taken this as a good sign that she learned about sharing. Right? It's probably good-- no, great!-- that she didn't say, "Yeah, forget her. Drink that up-- it's all yours!" She was encouraging me to share, she learned her lesson well, and I could be proud of her.

But nope. I wasn't in the frame of mind to appreciate her admonition. Instead, what I said was, "I shared my BODY with both of you for like 10 MONTHS."

And you know what she said? "No, I really think it was only 3 months."

And Derek, who was doing dishes and listening, just broke down laughing. Between tears of laughter, he said, "Yeah, you know, well. You both were there-- who do I believe?" He knocked it off when I made like I was going to throw the glass at his giant head. 10 months inside each, buddy, not to mention over three years of breastfeeding between the two of them.

"I really think it was only 3 months." Yeah-- that was my PIG NEWTON moment. Please to click the link to gawker and watch Louis CK's brilliance. I couldn't embed the video here so you'll just have to click over (HEY WHOA it's Not Safe For Work friends).!5714388/louis-ck-on-pig-newtons

Then come on back and share your own Pig Newton moment. If you know a 3-4 year old, perhaps you know what I'm talking about yes?