Just an Update

I’m in part of the Midwest that is getting hit by all this winter weather. It’s cold and when we aren’t getting ice, we’re getting snow (and lots of it.) I’m not really complaining. I know it’s all just part of winter in the north, but I admit, I am starting to look forward to spring.

He looks like a crocheted traffic cone.

He looks a little like a crocheted traffic cone, don’t you think?

People had been saying it was going to be a bad winter all last fall. I didn’t really believe it, or rather, I just figured it would be the same as last year – no snow until Christmas, a wintery January and then right back into a dreary spring. That’s certainly not the case this year!

One of my coworkers knitted Hermes a sweater. I am usually anti-clothes for my dog, but as I write this it is -4 degrees with a -20 degree wind chills. So, a sweater it is. My coworker knows I am always concerned about visibility so she made it Hunter Orange. I’m not sure he is much more visible at night, but he certainly won’t be mistaken for a deer.

He doesn’t mind the weather at all. Honestly, he doesn’t mind much at all. All he really cares about is: food, walks, and fireworks. The first two he loves, the last one he hates. If a sweater means food and a walk (he gets a treat for putting it on nicely,) then he’s all for it.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Seriously, he loves this weather. Moments after this was taken he dove head first into a snowbank.

Me? I’m having a little bit of a harder time. There is so much snow on the sidewalks that parts are almost impossible to pass through. A walk that usually takes 15 minutes took me over 40 the other night. Then, just as I am ready to call it quits, figuring it’s not weather fit for man nor beast, some runner comes striding past me …in tennis shoes and running clothes, nonetheless. (I bundle up like I am heading out on a North Pole expedition just to get the mail.)

I won’t lie, I’ve thought of pelting them with snow balls.

…it’s too cold though, the snow doesn’t stick together.

Me? I’m not working out, (other than snow slogging with the dog and snow shoveling,) and my weight is up a bit. Ironically, I made it through Christmas just fine, it was the days following the holiday that did me in. Ah well, every day I wake up and think, “Okay, today is the day I will do this. I will refocus.”

One of these days it will be.

 

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

Like much of the Midwest, my fair city has been hammered with ice and snow. Last week Friday we had an ice storm that was so bad I couldn’t go to work – the police closed the street that my office is on. On top of the ice has come snow. We certainly had a true “White Christmas.” Lots of folks have been spending a whole lot of time complaining about it, and certainly, the driving has been pretty rotten at times, but I’ve been enjoying it. It reminds me of the winters we had when I was a kid. Plus, each time Hermes and I go for a walk, I’m struck with just how gorgeous it all is. It really is breathtakingly beautiful, especially the rare times when the sun is shining.

I have an odd situation at work. It looks like there is going to be some fairly large changes in management in the next two to three years – possibly as far out as five years. It has the potential to be fantastic. I think we need a fresh perspective, and this might be exactly what the company needs to go to the next level. Of course, there is always a danger with change. It doesn’t always work out the way you want.

I’ve felt a bit stagnant at work for awhile now. I’ve written about it here and there on the blog. I love a lot of things about my job, but one of the things that has kept me here as long as I have been is movement. It seems every few years things get totally changed around, rearranged, and though it’s a crap shoot as to how it will turn out, it’s always been interesting. Sometimes it has gone well for me, other times not so much. It’s not about me personally as an employee, it’s about the economy and our market and so on. Starting fresh in new areas of the company has kept me on my toes, and I like that. So, for the most part I look forward to whatever is coming down the road.

However, I’ve been at this same company for nearly 15 years. It doesn’t escape me that if things go sour, I am stuck with some very specialized skills. It’s time to change that. I have decided to pick up some new skills at work which will help the company, but also help me develop my own abilities. I have signed up for a bootcamp class for one of the big marketing tools we use – information that will assist me in my job now, and will increase my own worth as an employee. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but I have been gifted with an incredible opportunity. For once I know about the change ahead of time, so I can anticipate it, all the while building my own value and skills. I can use everything I learn for the betterment of my present company, but if push comes to shove, I can take the knowledge with me to the next one.

At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a bit tricky writing here about what I am doing, because I want to be very careful not to “out” myself. I love having the freedom and space to write here and share my journey with you, dear reader. I don’t want to compromise that, but I will share whatever I can. Long View Hill was  always meant to be a place where I contemplate the future, and I am certainly in the heart of that now!

What about you? What are your plans for the New Year? Any big changes on the horizon?

Photo credit: Kris Hirst on flickr

 

A Quick Update

Mom! Let's go track some snowmen!

Mom! Let’s go track some snowmen!

I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I am working on a few new projects, and those combined with the holidays, is keeping me hopping! I might be posting a little bit less for the next couple of months. I am trying to get all my ducks in a row on some big things, and it is taking up a lot of my time and creative energy to write.

I’ve also not been able to exercise the way that I want to. I keep trying, but I think I just have to accept that in December, dog walking and snow shoveling is about all I am going to get done. I do have one small complaint, however. I wish RunKeeper (the app I use to track my walks) had a feature where you could input the number of inches on the snow along with a modifier for the percentage of negligent neighbors who haven’t shoveled! I don’t really mind that they haven’t shoveled, but want extra “slogging” credit on my calorie count! (Also, most of my neighbors aren’t really negligent, I know that those who don’t shovel usually don’t have the wherewithal to do so, but I loved the alliteration of “negligent neighbors.”)

Hermes and I are still out for about an hour a day. I’ve added ice fishing cleats to my boots and a few extra layers, but we’re still getting out as much as ever. He loves this weather. He jumps in snowbanks, buries his nose in it and always grabs a few mouthfuls. Even though I am bundled up like I am going on a expedition to the North Pole, it’s hard to be grumpy when he is so dang happy.

So that’s the latest. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire, but I’ll be around, I promise!

Snowflakes are Falling

winter wonderlandHere’s me, feeling festive! Like much of the Midwest, we’re getting a fair amount of snow. That opens up a whole other area of winter exercising – snow shoveling! Also scraping off cars, donning winter gear, and of course the ever popular sport of clutching the steering wheel white knuckled with fear. All good for the heart and respiratory systems!

The funny thing is that I have always loved winter. As a kid I had pretty bad seasonal allergies and winter was one of the few times I could play outside and not be bothered by pollen or dust. It’s also a lovely time of year. One of my favorite sights is fresh snow at night when it is like a big sparkling blanket.

I have to say though, that it’s a little different having lost forty pounds. Winter is still pretty, but brrrr! I am so very cold! Of course, Hermes the dog thinks this weather is awesome, so we’re still trekking through the neighborhood twice a day. I swear he deliberately looks for snow banks to jump in, silly little dog. I mean, I know he is wearing a fur coat, but the bottom of their paws is just skin – how is it that they don’t care? It’s a mystery.

I am so ready for this!

Yes! Winter!

I won’t be running in this, that’s for sure. I’m just too scared of slipping and falling. I even wear cleats on my boots when I am walking the pooch, so I don’t think I’ll attempt running. My new snow pants are awesome, though: “Bugaboo” by Columbia. (I got them at T.J. Maxx.) They much such a difference! They really are warm, and they keep the snow and damp off me, which is even more important.

What about you? What winter exercise do you do? What are you planning on? What’s the weather like in your part of the world?

Slowly Getting Back

saddle

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

This morning I attempted to go for a run. The weather app on my phone said it was supposed to be fairly mild (high 30s, low 40s), and the ice and snow have pretty much melted off the sidewalks for now. It was supposed to get around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) later in the day so I thought that might make good running weather. I set out my running gear the night before. In the morning I got up early and donned it under my dog walking clothes.

I didn’t end up running, however. Once I got out with the pooch I realized that the winds were just too strong. We aren’t talking about some little gusts, we’re talking about the kinds of winds that blow over trash cans. Was it likely to blow me over? No, but I could tell it would be miserable. Instead, I pulled up the hood of my winter coat, tightened my scarf and took the dog for an extra long walk.

I was a little disappointed, but also pleased. I did what I set out to do – got up early and was ready for a run. I can’t control the weather, and the fact I bailed didn’t feel like a failure, it felt more like an affirmation. I am taking care of myself, whatever that means at the time. The weather was much milder at lunchtime, so I went for a walk then. Knowing about the wind, I specifically dressed for work in clothes that would keep me warm (tights under my dress pants, layers and a warm sweater.) I got a solid 45 minute walk in.

I read an awesome article about working out and getting older over at Stumptuous.com that reminded me why this is important. It won’t make me invincible, but in the long run, it just might make life a little better.

Winter Messages

The River in winterI’ve been feeling out of sorts lately. As I mentioned Monday, I’ve fallen out of my routines. I seem to have a slight case of the blues. It’s nothing serious, there is nothing really wrong, I just feel like the Gods of Entropy and Apathy have taken notice of me and decided to teach me a little lesson.

I think I know what started it all. The Thursday before Thanksgiving I was in a minor car accident. Really minor – an inattentive driver rear-ended me. Fortunately, it was at a traffic light and I have one of those 5 mph bumpers. Though it felt like a lot more than 5 mph when he hit me, my car was fine – not even a scratch. I did, however, bang my right knee into the steering column. (I drive a stick shift.) That knee has been giving me some grief for a couple of months now, so it took me some time to realize that the new sharp pains came from the accident. There was no visible bruising or swelling, it just hurt like someone was repeatedly hitting me with a ball peen hammer. I thought I must have really messed it up somehow. It hurt to walk the dog and it was impossible to run. Weight lifting, with all the squats, got thrown out the window too. I could have done other things, but that’s when the vindictive nature of the Twin Gods of Little Movement struck.

We all know Newton’s First Law, right?

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I seem to be at rest, but I want to be in motion. In order to change my state, I need some kind of force – a lever to pry me free of my inertia. With the holidays and rotten weather, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, much of it in front of screens. I decided it was time to get out in nature. I’m out walking the dog every day, of course, but I was feeling called to do something else.

I went for a walk in the woods.

I went on my lunch hour. It was dark, rainy, wet and cold. I was also inappropriately dressed, (since a muddy walk wasn’t my plan when I left for work that morning.) Fortunately I always keep a spare pair of walking shoes in the car. I was about 20 minutes in when I stopped to take a few photos, then walked a little further… and saw what nature wanted me to see: a pileated woodpecker. Many people see signs in every day things, like numbers or colors. I have a deep affection for birds. Some birds, of course, are particularly special. The pileated woodpecker is one of those. There he was, up in an old tree, proudly strutting his stuff.

Like me, my dad was also a bird lover. For many years I gave him books on birds and bird watching for Christmas, especially when he became sick and couldn’t read much anymore, but could still enjoy the pictures. He was amazed by the pileated woodpecker, and I remember him saying “Look at these huge woodpeckers! They are the size of a crow! I want to see one!”

As far as I know, he never did.

But I have, several times since he passed away. They are shy birds and usually found only in heavily wooded areas, like the areas up and around my cabin. Every time I see one, I think of him.

And perhaps that’s the message: Buck up, buttercup! Live large and follow your dreams. Life is a crazy thing, you can die of cancer at 59, so don’t waste it moping about – get out and do something. You’ll be glad you did.

Fair enough.

pileated woodpecker

 

Photo credit of the pileated woodpecker: Matt MacGillivray on flickr

Rain Boots and Snow Pants

Rain boots and Hermes

Hermes admires my new rain boots and snow pants.

The weather here in the Midwest has been… interesting. By interesting, I mean cold, windy and wet. We had thunderstorms, high winds, tornado warnings, and snow, all pretty much at the same time. Sunday night I busted out my brand new snow pants, which are pictured here, with my brand new rain boots.

I wrote about wanting rain boots awhile ago, but it took me awhile to find the right pair. I stopped at every store I could think of in town, (including following up on some suggestions from people who commented on my blog,) but without any luck. Then I found the perfect pair on Amazon. They were everything I wanted, and in the right price range. The only problem was that the design I wanted ended up being backordered. Curses! A couple of days later, I was wandering through our local mega-grocery store and lo! they had rain boots! They were the same brand I had picked out on Amazon, but a different pattern. They were on sale, so I picked them up. This way I can see how much I love them, and when I wear them out (I am really tough on footwear,) I can order the other pair.

I also recently bought snow pants. I wasn’t actually looking for snow pants when I bought these, I was looking for water-resistant pants. However, the only thing I could find with water-resistant layers were snow/ski pants – and all of them were expensive. I finally lucked out with a pair of Columbia ones I found at TJ Maxx. These will do nicely. (I also bought some water-resistant spray on coating, and I plan on making my own lighter pair.)

With the crazy weather, I’ve needed both. The snow pants are super warm and I went and splashed in several big puddles and found the rain boots are doing the trick for keeping me dry. That’s all good, winter is coming and Hermes and I have many, many more miles to go.

I apparently really, really like this pattern. Note all the water on the pants. It was pouring!

I apparently really, really like this pattern. (The rug and the boots were not bought at the same time.) Note all the water on my pants. It was pouring that night!

Step By Step

walking“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”

 – Ellen DeGeneres

It’s been a month since I started using the Lift app to try and build some daily habits. Over the next couple of days, I thought I would update you on how things are going.

I really like using Lift. [A quick recap: the concept behind Lift is simple, you select your daily goals and when you do them, you check in. Other folks on Lift who are working on their own goals can see what you’ve done and give you “props” for your achievements. It’s fairly simple and it’s a free app.] I find it motivating and it’s helping me get on track, especially with exercise.

I’ve been exercising fairly regularly for awhile, but I haven’t had much of a set schedule. My goal this summer was strength training three times a week and two to three runs a week, with anything else I could fit in between. As it got colder, and is now pitch dark by the time I get out of work, I was becoming less motivated. So, I set myself a simple goal, fifteen minutes a day. It doesn’t matter what I do, my goal is to make sure that I get at least 15 minutes of extra exercise in a day. (I say “extra” because this means above and beyond my normal twice a day dog walks.) Before I would sometimes do my weight lifting on the same day as a run, but nothing the next day and so on; now I wanted to be more deliberate about it.

The main reason? Entropy. “A gradual decline into disorder.” I was afraid that a few days off would lead to a week off, which would lead to a lack of motivation to get out there at all. Setting a 15 minute a day goal is my way to make sure that Old Man Winter doesn’t derail my fitness plans.

What I’m finding is that I am doing a lot more walking. Squeezing extra time in my morning and evenings can be tough, but during the week I always have a lunch hour. One of the ways I’ve been hitting my 15 minute goal is by power walking on my lunch hour. While technically I could just go for 15 minutes, I never do. If I head out, it’s always for at least a half hour and up to an hour, depending on the weather and how fast I can eat my lunch. (If work is slow I can eat at my desk while working, if things are busy, it’s best I take a complete break.) I’ve been enjoying it so much that I even walk on my lunch hour if I’ve already run or did my weight training in the morning! On perfect days I walk for forty minutes and then sit in my car for twenty while listening to a meditation podcast. It gets me out of the office, in the fresh air, and some time to just sit and be still before going back to work.

The weather does make the whole thing tricky though. I live in the Midwest, the weather changes on a dime. I’ve added warmer socks, a fleece headband and a hat to the gear I carry in my car. (I already had an extra pair of running shoes, gloves and a jacket.) I’ve started wearing tights under my work pants and if I am wearing a long skirt to work, I bring along a pair of fleece leggings. It sounds like a lot of work, but really it’s just planning. Like a Boy Scout, I like to be prepared!

On the weekends I love to get in runs when I can, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. My solution? More walking. I just tack on extra time to my dog walks! I’ll go an extra 10 in the morning and 5 at night or some other combination to get my 15 minutes in.

All this was why I really glad to read this article on gokaleo.com: Walking for Health and Fitness. Yes Walking. She’s got some great ideas in here, and I am intrigued by the idea of adding some weight. Maybe not for lunch hour walks, but perhaps to the daily dog walks? Still working it all out, but I’m pretty happy so far with the way things are going!

 

Photo credit: Megan Ann on flickr

I Froze My Face Off!

frost by Joel KramerThat’s right, I am typing this without a face. How? you ask. I am just that good.

The reason I no longer have a face is that I went running before work! It was dark, windy and cold. How cold? 24 degrees Fahrenheit, or -4 Celsius for my non-American friends. Other than the whole face thing, it actually went pretty well.

I got up early and walked the dog, then came home, switched into running gear and went out for a short run. Now because it is cold, and since losing weight I am cold all of the time, (All the time – even now. Yes, right now I am cold.) I wear several layers when I walk the dog. For example, I wear a fleece hooded sweatshirt over a long underwear shirt. I pull up the hood and pull the long sleeves over my hands and use the thumbholes. Over the hood, I wear a hat, and over the sleeves on my hands, I wear heavy gloves. The bottom half is the same way – long underwear, heavy walking pants, ski socks, boots… yeah, I look like I am going on an exhibition every single time I leave the house. I just need a sled and more dogs.

Now, I also wore two layers of clothes when I ran, and I admit, when I got home and had to change out of three layers of clothes (two plus coat) and back into three, I almost gave the whole thing up. It occurred to me that if I am going to do this again (which I will,) I should just wear the running clothes under my walking clothes in place of long underwear. Yes, that will probably bump me up from two layers plus coat to three layers plus coat, (two running layers, one outwear layer) but seeing as we haven’t even really got into the really cold weather, I think I’ll be fine.

The dog walk actually warmed me up nicely, so it wasn’t really that bad, except for my smallest two toes on each foot, my kneecaps and my face. Those were darn cold. I got through it though, and it felt great. I was unsure about keeping up with my running through November, but I’ve pretty much proved to myself that I can do it.

I did do one smart thing though, I set out all the breakfast fixings the night before. The pan and utensils were ready to go, the ingredients for a breakfast ham, cheese, veggie and egg scramble were cut up and on the top shelf of the fridge. When I walked in the door, I popped in the shower for a quick hot wash up and was able to have a good breakfast ready to go in just a few minutes. It was great.

So, until the snow flies, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on.

Photo credit: Joel Kramer on flickr