Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where was I, again?

That last post kind of got away from me, so let me clarify. 

All I really wanted to say was that I love self-sustenance.  I love cooking for myself, making smart financial decisions to avoid debt, growing my own food whenever possible, supporting local suppliers for things I can't produce myself, building my own furniture, repairing my own home, and basically making myself as independently capable as I possibly can.

My siblings and I have this dream where someday we buy a big plot of land where we can all build homes and live together.  We'd have livestock, crops, honeybees, vineyard, etc.., and we would essentially be an entirely self-sustaining family compound.  I know it sounds cult-ish, but it's not.  Think of it more as a farm. 

Anyway, the reason I was so excited about my dinner is that it was all either self-generated or locally-grown (except the fish). 

It's a small step, but ultimately even small successes are inspiring toward my larger goal.

What have we learned?

I take in useful information all day, every day.  I listen to NPR and learn about world events, new medicine, and new perspectives.  I read blogs about personal finance, cooking, technology, business writing, DIY, the local scene, and even a blog by and about my fiance.

(Side note: I hadn't actually been to several of those URLs in months.  I read most of my blogs through Google Reader, which you should use because it's fantastic.)

So I take in a lot of information and ideas every single day.  Creative recipes, building plans for furniture, financial advice, which new tablet is best, etc...  The challenge I set for myself is sifting through all of it and figuring out how to use these ideas to best live my life. 

So that said, I love those moments where I'm able to use several ideas at once and make a really good decision, even a simple one.  These are the moments when I really feel like I'm following through on my beliefs - which otherwise seem to go so easily out the window in favor of convenience and/or money.  (I know, I know - it's terrible.)

This is all to say that last night I had one of those "on" nights, and all it took was making dinner.  Basically I wanted to use the vegetables Ceejus and I got in our first CSA share of the season, and so I made a garlic scape pesto, using CSA veggies and some basil from our balcony garden.  I put the delicious sauce over some fish and jasmine rice, and used the remaining vegetables for side salads.

Simple enough, right?  So why did I feel so good about it?  Well here are some principles I was able to stick to through my homemade masterpiece:

  • I used the resources available to me rather than spend time and money getting new stuff.
  • I ate healthier.
  • I prevented my veggies from going bad, so I didn't waste food.
  • I gained the satisfaction of making a delicious dish.
...I have officially lost interest in this entry, so I'm cutting myself off.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random things I like...the first edition

John Cusack said it best in High Fidelity:

"...what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth..."

I think people have a natural need to belong to social groups, and this leads people to define themselves by things they're into.  "I'm a runner," "I'm into horror flicks," "I only eat at independent pizza parlors."

I see no problem with this whatsoever.  The world is awash in stuff that we've created (and stuff that we haven't), and with so many things to try, I think it's cool to consider the items that have really made a positive impression on your life - even at a superficial level.

So without further adieu, I present a random list of things I've found in the world that make me happy:

  • Mountain Dew - mostly the original, but LiveWire's great too
  • Taco Bell
  • RC Cola is totally underrated, but that's what I like about it
  • Frisbee - I can play for hours and somehow I don't get bored
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Vibrant colors - really in any context other than my own clothes
  • Rich desserts, specifically Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Meringue Pie, and Key Lime Pie
  • Early Grey tea with milk and sugar
  • Sour gummy candy
  • Telling a good joke - a rarity for me
  • Picking and using aromatic hand or body soap - I get wayyy too excited when it's time to pick a new one
  • The beginning of a road trip
  • Long-form snack time
  • The feeling of having "earned" a meal, usually from intense or extended physical activity
So a lot of this list turned out to be food.  I guess I take a lot of joy from eating.  It's true, actually.  I love to eat.  Usually after a meal, it takes about 45 minutes until I'm wondering about the next one.

Also, I will start posting more than once a week.  I just need to get in the habit of "just doing it."

Which reminds me...
  • Nike running shoes...mostly because they run narrow with good arch support

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Tania is a freaking machine...

    A few days ago I learned that the Insanity workout, which Ceejus and I have been at for about two months, has a sequel. 

    Wait...not-so-quick recap: 

    I learned of the Insanity workout months ago, first online, then through a friend who had completed it.  I'd been working out steadily but wasn't feeling particularly challenged, so I was looking around for a more challenging workout. 

    Ceejus was joining gyms, taking classes, doing yoga, and really working her butt off.  I was just going to our apartment's gym for some running and weights.  Prior to that I was just running - I completed two half-marathons in two weeks, and a ten miler with Ceejus several months later.  But I still felt like she was working much harder than I was.  I knew I was taking my natural fitness for granted.

    Then one day we both got free trials to a high-end gym (Equinox - an amazing facility, but really expensive).  I took a spin class with her, assuming it would be no problem - but I couldn't finish.  I could barely start. 

    What the hell?  I could run 13 miles, but I couldn't bike for an hour?  Something was seriously wrong. 

    And this wasn't the first time I'd had my butt kicked by "just a class" either.  I'd tried cardio kick-boxing with a friend of mine years ago, couldn't finish that either.

    I was complaining about the spin class experience to a co-worker, and I said "I'm in really good shape, so I assumed it would be no problem!"

    She said: "You're in good shape according to whom?"

    Good point.  I LOOKED good, I felt pretty good, I could run for miles, and I could lift weights - but I'd never completed a workout program led by someone else - except for those classes, and those didn't end well.  And I'd never really had my fitness "officially" confirmed outside of my own perception.

    So I resolved to complete a workout program that I hadn't designed myself. 

    I was still pretty cocky, though, and I needed a workout I could brag about - I wanted an advanced workout that instilled fear in mere mortals.  I'd heard hushed whispers about how awful Insanity was, and that it was way harder than P90x.  On top of that, I KNEW I was in better shape than my friend who completed the program.  There was no way I was going to let him have that title.  So Insanity it was.

    In short: the first two weeks were painful.  Squats, jumps, sports drills - my quads hurt so much that I wondered if I'd ever used them before.  But after two weeks my body adapted.  I recovered more quickly after each workout, I became more flexible, and I felt AMAZING.  Energy was up, and my body was visibly transforming.  I lost fat deposits from places I didn't even know I HAD them, I dropped multiple belt notches, and my legs look more muscular than they have since I was in high school.  And again - I FELT good. 

    In fact...I felt so good that I started to wonder what else I was capable of.  Which brings me back to the point of this post.

    -End of Recap-

    Next week is our last week of the 60-day Insanity workout.  At this point I've made so much progress in spite of believing that I didn't have much progress to make.  Plus I feel that I've done so well at the Insanity workouts that I want to see what else I can do.  I've always self-identified as super-healthy and super-fit, but I'm finally realizing that I wasn't, and that I do have to work at it.  That said, as an individual I still believe that I'm particularly well-suited to get great results.  I think I'm well above average in terms of my physical ceiling and my mental toughness for physical strain.

    So now I want to step it up...and Insanity: The Asylum is a 30-day sports training program designed to take my Insanity results and leverage them beyond general fitness and into athleticism.  It's definitely a path I want to pursue.  I think I can turn myself into athlete-level material - at LEAST amateur athlete.

    But Ceejus wants something different, and therein lies the rub.  See, she works her butt off, not for dreams of becoming a pro athlete, but for long life, good health, and beautiful limbs.  So for her, elevating to sports training doesn't make sense.  We've talked about moving to P90x, which is lower-intensity, but more variety, including weights.

    So why don't we each take our own path?  Because we're both concerned that without the other one for support, we won't actually do it.  Plus we have limited time to work out, and squeezing two separate workouts in would be really tough. 

    So now I'm wondering if I can keep working out with her, and do Asylum on the side.

    ...Insanity indeed.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    21st Century Digital Boy

    Am I the only one who thinks Walt Mossberg is a crusty old techno-scrooge who is not at all qualified for his job?

    Hey, I'm up here!

    When inspiration whispers, I listen and my grassy nerves rustle in the breeze. When it shouts, I jump up and down and speak in an uncomfortably high volume.

    When inspiration is silent, I search for it. I leave little notes around so it knows where to find me. I ask people if they've seen it. If they haven't, I walk away in disgust.

    Tonight inspiration sang to me. It hit a note that I haven't heard in a little while, it pierced my ear.

    This blog exists as an earring. A tool to keep my ear open.

    Not for sounds coming in, I hear those very well. No, this virtual stud will let me hear the sounds coming out. Of me.

    Tonight I watched a TEDtalk given by David Brooks, New York Times columnist. He spoke about the social animal that we are. He said many fantastic things, as most TED speakers do, but the note that pierced my ear was this:

    In speaking about the unconscious, or subconscious mind, he said that many studies have indicated that our best decisions are those based on emotion. We make the right choices when we react to what we feel, because our unconscious mind knows how to navigate our world far better than our conscious one. Our sub- or unconscious mind can analyze a huge amount of information at once, more than we can consciously, and draw the right conclusion.

    He cited furniture shopping as an example - a difficult task indeed. He said that we should try it: do our research, take measurements, look at the furniture, then distract ourselves for a while. When we come back to the decision, our gut will tell us what armchair works best because our subconscious has figured it out.

    I am often overwhelmed by emotion, but I'm at my best when I don't suppress it.  I am a fantastic public speaker because my speeches are almost always heartfelt, so I connect with my audience.  And as Mr. Brooks would guess, I do make better decisions when I'm feeling exposed.

    So this blog also exists as a personal trainer. I am exercising my ability to sense myself and to express myself. Madonna will be so proud. No particular topics, no particular mood, just a place to react to the world around and within.

    This blog will be public because I think private online diaries are oxymoronic. This blog will also be a lot less emoriffic moving forward, but sometimes it takes an emotional spark to get inspiration's attention.

    ...yeah whatever. You can deal with it for one post.