Monday, January 31, 2011

So, following up on my last post, I grabbed the skis, spent way too long figuring out the various layers of clothing to take and put on (I am out of practice) and headed (literally) for the hills and the woods.

Arriving at the state forest just as a hundred or so high schoolers were leaving after a classical x-c ski meet, the trails were ready with lots of new snow.

Hesitation has been in my skiing as of late. I knew as I approached the trails that struggles over the weeks before would show up in some tentativeness in skiing. More tentative about the downhills, feeling like I am loosing my balance more on the sharp quick declines.It is a balancing medium after all and requires relaxation in the muscles, which I didn't have. Enter more self doubt. Does this come with age or lack of practice.

But I am more inclined to think practice, since I can control that. So I decided that hills were what I needed - up then down then up then down. Up the steeper ones and then down. Adjusting my crouch, using my poles, stepping with my skis to compensate for for the bumps and twists of the trails.

The forest is higher up which makes it ideal snow conditions and hills and for this dopler weather ball.
Somehow this picture and the next don't show the length and angle of these down run. I will say that it takes longer to go up than it does to go down.

Finally, this was my only accidental picture, the face plant of a downhill. Oh well, but it was first and the last and came only after I'd been at it for a a few hours or so and getting more daring on a long steep decline.

Fortunately the trail was empty except for me, though I am not so confident that the expletives I was loudly using didn't escape the stillness of the woods.

So as we prepare for more snow. Perhaps there will be more skiing in my immediate future.

Friday, January 28, 2011

If I were to have to describe myself in a couple of words guess it would be that I am an optimistic spirit.

When I feel down or up against it I may hit the wall hard and hurt but there always has seemed to be a glimmer of resiliency that continues to glow. It may be just an ember however dim and it may take me a while to find it or believe it is there, but it is still; there an opportunity; or is it a piece of hope?

I often see that ember in others even though they may not see it at all and at times I have been able to help them stoke it and help them see it and grow with it.

With age I guess one of the most significant life lessons I have learned is that, at least in me that ember has been there. Even when I totally doubted it and saw no hope, it was there and it has allowed me to readjust course course, expand my horizons in all sorts of ways and to ultimately come back more than once from a heap after a "crash".

So why the morose yet optimistic post?

Part of this feeling of hope is also that other people, if they want to, can change. Working as a manager I have worked with people that many people had written off. Listened to them, nurtured and coached them and seen them bloom in a new way that they and their critics couldn't have imagined. It hasn't worked with everyone and I have been stung, but it has successfully happened more than a half dozen times. Yet sometimes there are a group of detractors who don't want to see that image change, say they believe that people can change but continue to critiques through that old warped lens. I find that hard and I am dealing with that with a couple of people now that I am working with them, while their critics refuse to hit the "refresh button".

I also find that I lately have so much more doubt in myself. I know that the resilience is there and I will continue to remake myself but I question so much.

There have been situations when I feel like a dump truck of snow has dumped on me and the instructions are to find the shovel and dig out. I am weary because of my pushing for plans to "plant shovels" along the way for such an event, went unlistened to brushed off. I am angry because the result is that as I am forced to deal with situations, I must turn down opportunities that nurture the soul and potentially stoke the embers of parts of me that needs it.

I know the analogy is a little obscure for me to expect anyone to get. So this post is about thinking and processing out loud. Remembering that life can change in a moment and opportunities can present themselves at any time.

People also know that I tend to have an optimistic outlook and take naturally to the cheerleader / coach role that it throws them when I feel buried. This is one of those times I wish I had a "me" to coach me.

The snow continues to fall and I sit mulling over whether to grab the skis and head for the forest. Perhaps that is exactly what I need at this moment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

IT'S COLD, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR..................

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Solid fluff easily up to my knee and just overnight.

It was enough to grind most things to a halt, which is very unusual these days. I can't recall when I last had a declared snow day from work and not a delayed opening or taking it off by my choice. It was nice.

I brought some work home just in case and could have easily logged into my virtual desktop at work but it never happened. A little fried from a coupe days of intense trainings and volunteer meetings, it was a welcome respite. Even better, the kids were home to do the plowing and shoveling and my youngest very eager to do it.

So I just chilled, walked around for a bit in my new snowshoes and found that it was too fluffy for them and retreated inside to do some volunteer emails and writing and not much more.

Everyone should get an occasional snow day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pick it up?

A couple times a week, when I stop for gas on the way into work, I'll also grab a coffee for the commute. Standing in line yesterday, which was more like a cluster header forward than a line, a person ahead the digs in to his pocket for money and some change drops out. He looks down, sees that it is a couple of pennies and walks away and up to the counter.

I've seen this scene play out over and over. There seems to be this quick mental calculation of value of what has dropped versus the "expense" of bending over and picking it up. This person clearly saw what had dropped and had time to visit with the cashier, so he wasn't rushed.

Me, well I watch this play out and follow behind and in just about one bending swoop movement pick up the coins and drop them in my pocket.

I find this idea of calculating whether an action is "worth it" fascinating. My Dad, who was a child in the depression and had to quit school to go to work to support his family, always picked up change. We use to chuckle as he passed a pay phone and notoriously checked the change slot for something left behind. While I don't go out of my way to check coin slots, I am observant and have no problem bending down to pick up some fallen change that has seemed to insignificant to many who pass it. It's not that I need the change on the floor or the deposit from the can to get by. It's more just a question of not going out of the way to waste.

Throwing things away is too easy and that can include money.

In my world, I make observations as we all do and while I know they are not necessarily a trend, they seem to be a pattern. There are people who tend to waste more than others and that behavior is not routed in just a single action.

What is the value at which someone will plug in and acknowledge that a simple act it is worth their action?

I know someone who over 8 months put any loose change he found on the street in a jar and at the end counted up almost $30. I think most of us would bend over to pick up a 20 and a 10 if it were loose on the street. I was at a casual church event recently that served soda in cans and rather than put the finished cans aside or throw them in the numerous blue recycle cans around they were thrown in the trash. I grabbed a plastic bag at the end and quickly collected 25 cans that I easily took the next time I went to the store and donated the cash. I not only reduced what was going to be trashed, I also got to give some money to a good cause that can use it.

Yes, I am an avid recycler and have no problem packing a soda can in my bag to bring home to cash in for the deposits later or collecting plastic water bottles at game to toss in the recycle bins. I have been told by at least one person that they felt "shamed" because I'll make a point of picking up recyclables at an event and their instinct is to just toss the stuff and be done with it or they think its weird that I'll stop to pick up a coin. My actions made them feel guilty at home when they threw these things in the trash.

As I do this quietly and never call someone else on it and don't get carried away, I really consider it their problem. I figure that if my actions make them think twice about tossing out something that with no additional effort can be recycled or walking by a coin that they could donate or use........o well.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Christmas / New Years holidays are usually fun but sometimes filled with overload, especially as the family dynamics change with age and distance and schedules.

Since we try to take a good amount of time off, there is the ramp up required to prepare both work and home to be ready. It can get a bit tense and in the days before Christmas I saw that certain look in the eyes of several people I know, and the look was not one of rest and total joy. Even if you don't buy into the commercial chaos there just seems so much to do. Of course I don't know many people who are calm and pleasant getting ready for a vacation alone let alone adding to it company, and visiting and special meals and gifts.

So this year was a mixed bag. Lots of fun with the family, but limited time off for me due to coverage and limited time when the family was all together and not traveling or with one foot out the door to do something.

Over Christmas we live in the area of the east that got 15-18 inches of snow. With plans to travel out of the area the day after Christmas and this storm predicted, our response was interesting. Watching the progress as the storm formed, this was really the only clear days (calendar wise) to travel, and as Christmas day approached and it was clear that it was coming in the next day, we launched off quickly and watched the progress from afar knowing that we may be coming back into a mess. But we've dealt with messes in the past and what is a few feet of snow. It all went well and the most difficult part, and that wasn't that bad, was coming back to a plowed street but 18 inches in the driveway and probably 2 feet near the road. With one pilot manning the car the rest of us bounded out, grabbed the shovels, fired up the snow blower and in a half hour we were all dug our and unpacked.

In the few more days I was off there was time for an afternoon of cross-country skiing and a few short runs to add to the workout log before the end of the year. Then back to work for a couple of days before New Years.

A very quiet New Years eve, except for taxiing a bit, and a quieted New Years Day. (too quiet)

I got to try out a few new recipes over the weekend, which is fun because I love to cook.
For New Years day I made Remi's Ratatouli.

The recipe is based off the dish in the movie Ratatouli and very different from ratatoulies I have made in the past that were more like stews. My biggest challenge was that it needed a short oval baking dish to be able to place the vegetables in a concentric shape. This was the best we had so the edges were not as round. The taste was wonderful served over basmati rice. No leftovers on this one.

Figuring out dinner for tonight as I type and as I look at the clock it is time again to become the taxi drive and do a kid pickup.

A happy, healthy prosperous and meaningful 2011 to all who venture on this page.