Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm Not Annie Oakley, But...

I went horseback riding today. What a privilege. I have a friend who lives outside Elgin Arizona (about an hour and half southeast of Tucson. 3,000 feet higher and 10 degrees cooler) on her horse property/ranch (aka "paradise") with three horses, two dogs, a cat and some very loud cicadas. We had been talking about doing this ever since we met on a trip to Tanzania two-and-a-half years ago. 

I haven’t been riding in years and I’ve always been a novice (although pretty comfortable and I have managed to stay on at a full gallop not of my choosing). So we decided to try a “trial trail” ride. It was great. 

The first half of the ride was in a flat bottom ravine full of mesquite trees. Then we went up (nothing dramatic) to the (gentle) ridge top for the way back. Gorgeous. Have you ever seen those western paintings or post cards – rolling grasslands dotted with scrub oak, wide-open vistas, 360 degrees of mountain ranges - layering all the way into Mexico, bright  blue sky with huge white clouds? It was like that. Only way better. I was actually there. Stunning. Southeastern Arizona is grasslands and with the above-average rains we’ve had it was green everywhere – not Ireland green, but that soft, well...grass green. Truly lovely.

Susan gave me all kinds of tips (she is a real horse woman and runs outfitter/trips in Copper Canyon in  Mexico so she’s really good at pointers). There is a lot to pay attention when riding a horse in regards to what you are doing with your body and the reins and the effect on your steed (Arabian/Quarter Horse mix – smart, responsive, heat-tolerant and just the right size – not so small that I feel like a burden and so big that it looks like a ladder is needed to get up there). And you need to pay attention to where you are going. With all that, and the stunning (did I say gorgeous) views, it was really mind-clearing…very in-the-moment.

Susan said I did good. Which is great for me because I kinda have a crush on DC (the horse to which I refer) and I want to do that again. Horseback riding on a week day. Now THAT's my idea of living.  Cowgirl up!

 P.S. I met Susan through my friend Chris, from whom I have learned and experienced much about the natural world. Chris just started a kick-ass blog: Wild Mountain Soundscapes. I’d like to think I inspired her just a teensy bit. Check it out:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not to Worry

OK. Just in case you were wondering, I’m over my panic attack freak-out brought on by packing way too many work-like tasks together. A couple days of no real thinking and I’m pretty fine. Enjoying doing this and that, puttering, reading, socializing (calls with friends and lunch with my mom) and getting some sleep. Good to know I can bounce back farily quickly with a dose of relax (mentally and physically). Now that I’ve got the backlog cleared out, I’m going to parse work-like things out, doing a bit here and there. I know I’m not recovered. Gotta stay away from the stuff. Also realized that a number of the tasks had to do with money. Always a button-pusher for me, especially now that it is mostly going out, not coming in like it used too.

Hanging out in the middle of “what was” and “what comes next” takes some fortitude…and attitude control. I’m learning. Although I still get confused about the difference between worry and thinking ahead.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rehab2: Dry Drunk

AA concepts include the dry drunk - someone who has stopped drinking but hasn’t dealt with any of the underlying issues that precipitate additive drinking. They still exhibit the same unproductive attitudes and behaviors of a drinking alcoholic. They aren’t a recovering alcoholic. They are just an ex-drinker.

I feel like a dry worker. An ex-worker. I’m no longer working, but many of the underlying patterns associated with my last years of work are still there. I experienced a tinge of that a week in, and then a couple weeks ago when I was forestalling doing anything work-like during the “doing nothing/rest” phase. (see the Unexpected Emotion; Pacing, Pavlov and Work/Not-Work; and Rehab posts)

But things changed last week. I switched back into work mode to do some tasks that had accumulated and that had to be addressed - some because of deadlines (review and critique a 60 page report, taxes, and insurance stuff) - others because they meant money received or saved (compare options and switch internet/phone/cable provider, navigate the federal information labyrinth regarding retirement benefits payment), and a quasi-medical procedure that limits my exercise a bit, and other miscellanea. Finally got the bulk of it done today.

It felt like a week of work. And I felt the same frustration, anxiety, stress. Add in lots of little changes, ambiguity, and uncertainty and the result is a two-day headache and that queasy feeling, just now receding.

I see that I need another stint of in-house treatment…a loooooong stint, without a backlog hanging over my head to be accomplished, so I can really detox. Truly get it out of my system. Move from being an ex-worker to a recovering worker. Maybe before too long I’ll be a recovered worker.  I wonder what  - and how long - that will take.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Revelations Probably Already Known to Others

I’m developing a whole new relationship to online. Now I understand what people mean when they talk about the “time-sink” of online activity. That seems OK if you have time, which I do. And, like so many things, it’s about balance.

Time online has become part of my day. Something I “do”. I have had time to figure things out (Do you know how to get favorites to display in alpha order? Or set a number of tabs to open up at once when you connect to the net? I do. These are probably examples of revelations already know to others).

I spend more time on Facebook. It’s become an adjunct to life-out-there: life in the mind. Kinda weird and kinda cool. Time will tell how much of which. Before, I kept up with personal email and Facebook in-between everything else or as short breaks from work during the day in my last months of work. But I never really read anything in the links my politically and socially read friends posted. Yah. They are actually my friends. One of my Facebook rules is that just like real life, you have to be circumspect about who your friends are. So only people I know and would have a conversation with in real life are FB friends. Kinda old-school, if that term is even applicable here, but it works for me. It’s a pretty diverse bunch so I keep up with all kinds of things being talked about and going on in Tucson, the country and the world. Art. Politics. Events. Totally silly stuff too, of course. For two of my favorites, see the links below (Ok, so I think anthropomorphizing
animals is funny … sometimes.)

And there is so much content on the web – writings, news, good stories in friend’s blogs, TV shows, instructional  (and entertaining) YouTube snippets, movies (and I don’t mean Netflix, which became a non-friend when I discovered that my local, independently owned, pretty cool video store had new releases many weeks before Netflix and my “saved” list was on perpetual save).

Anyway, I hope you think that reading this blog is a somehow useful or entertaining part of your online time-sink or momentary diversion. And forgive me if these are revelations already known to you. And probably just about the whole even slightly industrialized (or should I say electronified) world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Time/Energy/Motivation Quotient

Even though I’ve talked about “having time” - I’m realizing how much it is about having energy.  I did have time for myself before…but not always energy during that time. I was often brain-drained during the week from the multi-tasking, detail-oriented, and just demanding nature of the work. Saturated. Too many synapses firing. (Did I mention that I did conflict resolution/collaboration for environmental issues where federal agencies were involved? Enough said about the “demanding” part). And I was generally tired - worn down - from repetitive, unresolved work-place aspects that didn’t work for me.  
That mental burnt-out created a physical drag. I was tired from keeping up. (And I’m single, no kids. I have NO idea how most others do it. I’m in awe of them - you?). So, I “wasted” a lot of time on weekends recuperating.

I also traveled quite a bit (for work and a couple personal trips a year) and that probably contributed. Almost always running up to a trip or re-grouping after - including a couple days of a little jet lag. Hard to settle, have a routine for any length of time. I probably was a little disconnected a good bit of the time.   

Before, I kept up with priorities: work, travel, friends, family, a little exercise and household stuff like bill paying, grocery shopping and laundry. In the last couple weeks after retiring, when I have had nothing but time,  I reconnected with many friends, slept, read, but got little else done because of  low energy from the need to de-compress and recuperate.

And there is motivation to factor in. Seems as though I could – and still can – muster up the energy when I WANT to do whatever (or need to, because there are deadlines - with consequences -  that make me “want to”.)

I’m sure there is a formula that could conjugate the Time/Energy/Motivation quotient for a given task or event or lifestyle or ... whatever.  It would go something like this:

Before retiring:

Some time + stress/burn-out = low energy - motivation + disconnectedness = the essentials get done and a lot of time is “wasted” recuperating

Shortly after retiring:

A lot of time - energy - motivation =  a lot of reading, resting and socializing

What’s beginning to happen now (three weeks out):

  • A lot of time - energy + motivation  =  energy kicks in and some things get done
  • Little time (a deadline) = motivation = energy = essential tasks are slowly getting done
  • A lot of motivation = energy = things get done no matter how much time there is.
I wish I was good at math so I could get all clever and create a formula that pulls these all together. But suffice it to say that having a balanced, meaningful and happy life is not all about “having time”. And then there is attitude to factor in.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Legitimacy of Weather as an Excuse: Part 2

I just got in from two hours of yard work - trimmed 20 feet of oleanders (which required three tools, including a saw). Sawed off three branches from a dead tree. And cleaned out debris. It is 88 degrees out with 46% humidity. I’m not sure what this says for weather as an excuse and the primacy of energy. And motivation: brush and bulky pick-up tomorrow and I needed to burn some cals today. I've been thinking about the time/energy continuum. Now I see I need to factor motivation in to that. More on all this another time. Right now I’m in need of a shower and a few hours with the Sunday Times. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get out there again this evening (she says skeptically, yet hopeful).

Post Script 1: I decided that 105 degrees is still a good excuse.

Post Script 2: A Tucson friend said she is amazed I was out there at all. Weather excuse: vindicated and validated!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Legitimacy of Weather as an Excuse

When I first started thinking about this a few days ago, it was a question. I had just scalded myself with water that was in the hose in my back yard. I’m not kidding. Could have cooked pasta in it. It had been plus/minus of 106 for several days – and almost as hot for weeks before that. And I thought: This is the reason I have not gotten to my priority household to-dos (primarily cutting back the oleander hedge which has been neglected for years) and many other tasks. Because it's hot outside. You’d buy that, right?

Now, several days later and after a couple days of lower temps (like mid-80s) I’m vindicated. I have had more energy and motivation in the last two days than any of the previous couple weeks. Might even get out there and trim the oleanders. Or maybe I just needed a couple weeks of vegging. Whatever, I am starting to recover a new homeostasis.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Morning Ritual

I’ve always made coffee in a ritualistic sort of way, even when I had limited time in the morning to get out. Boil water, grind beans, French press, heat milk. But now the place of this ritual has shifted. Lying in bed after waking up, but not getting up. On the brink of a relapse to a dream or putting feet on the floor, this ritual calls…this is what I will “do” least the first thing. It is the divide between kind of asleep and awake. Between waking up and being up. An actual morning event. To create some momentum. And it has been working these last couple days to get me going ... to some actual tasks that needed to be accomplished.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Long Way to Go

How I’ll get into shape for my Himalayan trek is on my mind. It kinda nags at me. Getting back to hiking seems the best. How to make that happen? I got a start last week (See Getting “Out There” Again).  But was I motivated enough to get myself out there on a regular basis, especially since that probably means solo hikes.

A few days ago a friend emailed to ask if I wanted to go to Wilcox (about an hour and a half east of Tucson. Ag area) to get some peaches, as we have done in years past. Sure. Then she emails – do I want to go to the Chiricahuas (another hour and a half past Wilcox) and hike to a raspberry patch we know about from camping nearby in Rustlers Park and to check out what it looks like a year post-fire. It’s a bit far to go for a day-hike, but curiosity and the need to get out there motivated.  Of course, I say.

As we're driving up and get to the burn area we see hillsides and patches of the blackest black charred sticks, many burned into modern art sculptures, as well as patches of untouched forest. What I didn’t expect was that, with recent rains, there were two and three feet of bright green understory setting it all off visually. Stunning. Surreal. Beautiful in its own way. And even more unexpected was a riot of color – large patches of vibrant yellow and magenta wildflowers. I bet we saw 30 different flowers as we hiked through waist-high greenery. Some I’ve rarely seen. We also saw quite a bit of bear scat, some with raspberry seeds in it (I still can’t fathom how an animal that large exists on berries and bugs). And then the raspberry patch (no bears). The berries were small but sweeeet. Thunder cracked as we hustled out, but we managed to dodge the rain.

Four and a half round-trip miles of relatively gradual up and then downhill used to be a stroll in the park for me. But I was pooped last night and can still feel it this morning. I can see I have a long way to go before I’m ready for my trip. And that getting there is going to be really good for me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More on Re-learning to Read…and Write

Before, I read superficially….skating over the tops of sentences. Scanning for the “gist”. Now, I read. each. word. Instead of skimming headlines, I read newspaper articles (and links to them). There is so much to know. Work focuses on a narrower, deeper band of knowledge. Not-work allows time and head-space for knowing more about more. And no longer needing to know about some things - like how to navigate the labyrinth to renew your federal ID or how to write an information collection request (under the Paperwork Reduction Act – which, until recently, required a LOT of paper.)

Same with my handwriting … it had become eligible. Even to me sometimes.  It devolved to a sort of shorthand that collapsed letters together, omitted some, and generally was more pieces than whole words. Now I actually form each of the letters, creating complete words that can be read and understood later. For the most part.

My typing is still lousy. But a slower pace means a more judicious use of spell-check and actually seeing non-words. For the most part. Bare with me on that.

I’m not completely recovered from speed-reeding, writng and toping.

Monday, August 13, 2012


What is it with this underlying, free-floating guilt-ish kind of feeling that occasionally surfaces in my otherwise pretty contented sea of existence? I really don’t want to do much in a day. And I don’t need to, but some part of me must think I should be more productive.

When I was working I would stay up late. Way too late. I was reluctant to let go of the only part of the day that was mine. That habit is still with me. And I still wake up around 6:30.  I never did learn to nap. So, I can be physically tired from doing … not much. Before, I was probably tired much of the time, but I had that steady low-dose cortisol (the “stress hormone”) drip that kept me going.  

A friend said I’m “de-toxing”. I think that’s it. I’m in rehab. I’m doing a stint at my own little at-home Sierra Tucson. In-house treatment. Getting that drug out of my system.

I know, I think I’ll redefine reading as “being productive”. 

I think this little talk has gone rather well, don’t you?  Thank you for listening. I feel better now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pacing, Pavlov and Work/Not-Work

My mom used to say “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person”. While I understood what that meant before, now that I’m not-busy, I really get it. When I was working, I could just add another thing into my perpetual motion forward. Now, getting something done requires gearing-up - getting the momentum going again.

Granted, my days have slowed from the frenetic pace of work/life – for the most part. But when I have something “business/work-like” to deal with, I slip into the frenetic energy … moving faster, eating faster. The internal meter gets turned up. Pavlovian response to performance expectations kicks in – even though no one is watching, expecting, judging. Slight flight or fight response. Like a post traumatic stress response - triggered by anything that hints of details, brain-power, decision-making, rule-following - especially if it is a follow-on communication of any sort from my previous workplace.

I thought I had left that behind. Who knew these responses had become so engrained – that I had become so conditioned. I can see I will need to differentiate the personal business-like tasks from the actual work experience. That trigger switch has gotta get re-programmed. I need a new mantra.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cinema Para dias

Yesterday I watched the rest of a movie while I ate breakfast mid-morning. Started it the night before but was falling asleep and since it was a one-nighter,  and I had social stuff yesterday afternoon and evening, thought I had best finish it. Bel Ami. 1890s – kinda superficial story, but great costuming and interiors. Good to see Robert Pattinson be something other than a pasty-faced vampire – although he's still playing a brooding lady-killer (not literally, but definitely a guy who gets by on his looks).

Besides it’s been 105 degrees or more. Staying inside with shades drawn seems like the only sane thing to do (yes, 105 is hot even for us – this isn’t Phoenix. Or Death Valley). Actually, going to dark, chilly movie theaters in the daytime in the summer in Tucson used to be a survival strategy. I may have to bring that back.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What Goes On In the Daytime

I’m an anthologist from another land observing “the people who aren’t at work in the daytime”. It had been years since I’ve been out and about, or inside with the TV, on  a weekday. Teachers get a glimpse of this in the summer, but to those of us working in offices all year long, “what goes on in the daytime” is a mystery.

Initial observations:

  • Daytime TV ads – reflecting who they think is watching
    • The injured/disabled: Structured annuity payouts (as a former lawyer and mediator of catastrophic personal injury claims, I believe this is a screw-job for the annuitant – gain in the short-term, loss in the long-term. Probably resonates with – or is an unfortunate necessity for - many Americans.)
    • Still-using addicts: Treatment Centers
    • The elderly (which they probably think is me now): Term Life Insurance. 50K to cover medical bills, funeral expenses and “something for the kids"? I don’t think so.

  • Traffic is just as bad. Even before the student influx (I live near U of A). What gives? Who are all these people and where are they going.

  • Trader Joe’s/Safeway: All kinds of non-old people. And they’re not college kids with “Juicy” on their butts – not yet anyway. Maybe because it is summer and teachers and others are off? Others on staycation? Someone still in their hospital garb – that makes sense. Not everyone works 9 to 5. But what DO they do and why are they out and about in the daytime on a weekday?  I’d love to do a survey just out of curiosity.

  • There are very few customers in Home Depot at 7:30 a.m. No one to help you though, as usual.

Not exactly Jane Goodall, but, hey, I’m an amateur.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spontaneous Repairs

In 2008 when houses had recovered a bit from their owner’s delusions of grandeur and prices had regained a modicum of sanity - and before the crash -  I bought a house. I re-habbed the 760 sq. ft. baked-adobe Mission Revival house I bought when I was a waitress and  had been living in for about 30 years.  I wanted a bit more space – a place for visiting friends to stay over, a place for a dining room table so more than four people could eat together, and something that wasn’t across from what had turned into a quasi-industrial vibe (it used to be more like a park, before the county decided to cut down all the trees and recess the ball fields to make a retention basin for the 100 year flood – but that is another story).

Anyway, yesterday I got up with what is becoming the usual no-plan. Phone rang. It was my renter. I always have teensy panic when I see the phone number on the caller ID. I’m thinking: “Uh-oh, I’m going to have to think...and do something”. There was a small water drip starting under the kitchen sink. Whew. I have great renters – they call at the first sign rather than wait for it to become an emergency. “Sure, no-problem. I’ll call my handy man” thinking he can fix that and few things I’ve had on a list over here at my house for, oh, I don’t know, six months? But that was enough thinking. Spent the rest of the day mostly reading.

Today I wake expecting that  I’m going to have another day of no-thinking, but maybe I can at least rally enough to make the call. I do. He can to it – today, now. One call to renters to check that out and the repair is done an hour later. Over here, after two trips to Home Depot, done also. While my guy did his stuff I repaired the arm on a vintage chair that just came off (with just a small assist from his higher-quality drill). There was no swearing involved.

So, a lot got accomplished today. In spite of myself.

Before, when my time was more limited, this would have taken a number of calls, phone messages, planning, communicating…and perhaps a week to get scheduled and accomplished. And been an added stress.

Maybe life is going to be more like this now. I’ll have to recalibrate the home repair/timeline/frustration quotient.

Re-learning to Read and to Imagine

I did something unusual a few days ago - I read (part of) a book. I’m re-training my attention span for reading, which had become miniscule. With my head in email all day at work, a magazine article was about my limit. Going Alone: Women’s Adventures in the Wild, given to me by a friend who understands these things. It is a collection of short stories, so not too much of a first outing.

Got me imagining. Remembering (more of that early 90’s/early 40’s I talked about in “Getting Out There Again”). Pico de Orizaba in southeastern Mexico. Summit 18,500 feet. What do you think was up there? An iron lattice cross twice as tall as I am and a sizeable statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe. And incredible views and exhilaration.

As I was getting away from that lifestyle, I told myself “I want to do one more climb”. That never happened but the idea never really died, even as my age advanced and my fitness level waned.

I’ve kept up the basics, but one of my priorities for retirement is to regain a level of fitness I had abandoned. I’ve always done better with a reason to get/stay fit rather than exercise in-and-of-itself. Rock climbing, back-packing were always good incentives for whatever fitness regime I was engaging in in town during the week.

I also am in need of an adventure. An “outside the comfort zone” experience. I had been saving flight points for this, not really knowing where exactly. Several months ago I got an email from an outdoor adventure company I had traveled with before: they were running Himalayan trek trips. That stuck. I fanaticized. I researched. I doubted (are my knees up to this?).  November (the primary season) was just too soon. Trips take a lot of researching and planning and I wanted … rest.

The second season - spring, rhododendrons, fewer tourist (something I had usually opted for anyway). I doubted some more. A price deal arose – short timeline. So that last weekend between my last days of work (when I had A.D.D. – see “The Final Run-up” post) – deadline looming, I signed up.

Once on a trip to Chilean Patagonia (highly recommended, by the way) I had a casual conversation with a woman – probably around my age at the time – 41. She was working as a cook on a cargo ship that went from Punta Arenas (where we were) to Tierra del Fuego. That sounded so cool to me. Still does. I soooo wanted to just keep going even further south. Tierra del Fuego…Antarctica. I like to go to places with exotic names - part of the draw to Nepal – “Kathmandu”… “Annapurna” … how can these places NOT capture the imagination.

So, I’m re-learning to read. And to imagine. And to do what I imagine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Unexpected Emotion

I’m feeling a little guilty this morning. I hadn’t expected that – boredom, anxiety, yes – but guilt, no. I have a long list of to-dos ranging from refilling the hummingbird feeder to completely re-doing the frontscape of my house; doing my 2011 taxes and registering in the federal contracting system. None of these things need to be done today – or even this month. I thought I might get a start on something today, but none of these things are what I want to be doing right now. Now I just want to rest. Read, eat, sleep. I didn’t realize just how mentally tired I was. Am. I can't corral my mind to anything detailed. My brain needs to hangout in a hammock with a cool drink for awhile.

What is the timeline for “getting back to it”? See how engrained the work ethic can be? Hence a teeny bit of guilt. But I’ll get over it. I need to get back to that Vanity Fair article about Jackson Pollock’s mistress’s painting going up for auction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Getting “Out There” Again

I might need a nap. No, I’m not exhausted from the rigueur of my week of staycation. I went on a hike – first one of any substance in a loooong time. Driving up the mountain (the Santa Catalinas that run along Tucson’s northern perimeter) in the morning light, rain-induced green (green for Sonoran desert mountains anyway) brought me back. Back to when I used to hike, backpack or rock-climb most weekends. 

It was the first half of the 90’s and the first half of my 40’s.  I worked for myself as a contract associate for other lawyers and then as a mediator/trainer and seemed to have more time and more control…although less income. And I had an outdoor adventure partner/boyfriend. We went a lot of places - foreign and domestic - to do these things as well as a bit of ice and technical mountain climbing. As that relationship transitioned to something else and I was working more, I still hiked...much of it alone…and much less often. I knew where I was and what I was doing but when the devastating fires hit the Catalinas in 2003 I didn’t go back for years – I didn’t want to see the apocalypse. And the fire had obscured familiar trails which would have made solo hiking a whole other experience – I’m not a map and compass girl - by  choice anyway. I still did some hiking  elsewhere (mostly in Northern New Mexico - perhaps more about this later) but being “out there” had really diminished in my life.

And these last handful of years, with so much work-related travel, the demands of work  - and buying a house and re-habbing another, I did some car camping and a bit of getting out, but something that was once a big part of my life - and my self image – was all but gone. Although  not dead. I promised myself I would re-gain that part of myself.

So today’s hike was a start - even though it was with friends and a bit more of a chat-fest while going uphill at 7,000 feet, than a reconnection with wilderness. Like I said. A start.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The First Sunday Night

I made it to the art museum yesterday (primarily for the 100 Years 100 Ranchers exhibit – which was stunning )   I also had to kind of drag myself to yoga hour at 4 p.m. – part of a promise I made to myself to make regaining a higher level fitness a priority (I’m taking it gradually. I’m not jumping into “Insanity” workout because, well, I'm not insane…or 10-minute abs or butts or whatever body part).

In-between I read the Sunday New York Times (one of my splurges is having it delivered). Actually READ it. At home. On the couch. In the last several years of working I traveled quite a bit (about 15-20 trips a year – mostly by airplane).  I would save my favorite sections: Style, Arts and Leisure, Travel, the Magazine - you can tell where my proclivities are – and Book Review – I never read books, just reviews of books -  oh, and SundayReview so I wasn’t a complete slacker. I’d bring these with me for airplane reading to bridge the 4 a.m. wakeup to the 5 a.m. pick-up for the 6:15 fight and the first leg until I was awake enough to start reviewing whatever I needed to for the training, meeting, or workshop I was flying somewhere to conduct. Reading on airplanes felt like sacred time – the only place of solitude (especially with noise-cancelling head phones).  It was the only place I could actually focus…sustain attention. I’m re-learning to read though. I’ll talk about that another day.

Anyway, this made for a better-than-usual Sunday. But the real difference was Sunday night. Notably absent was that feeling of “my time” waning and the return to the onslaught looming. In the place of anxiety was…calm. Maybe the yoga had something to do with it.

P.S.: Is it cheating to take an Advil a half-hour before yoga? Hope not.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Religious Experience

It's Sunday. I'm going to turn off the electronica and wait for divine intervention or inspiration on what to do with the day. Oh, wait. I’m hearing something. The art museum in free on the first Sunday of the month. And Yoga Oasis has three different yoga hours this afternoon. Heaven.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Real Saturday

I don’t know….still feels like Saturday…somehow different than the weekdays. Maybe because I went to my usual Saturday morning Pilates class, listened to the usual Saturday radio programs, and, as usual, thought about  going to the Saturday farmer’s market and didn’t….or because Saturday night is, and always will be, different – “date night” even when you don’t have a date. Maybe I’m perceiving things in relation to others and since most of my friends are off it still feels like a regular Saturday. Maybe it’s that I woke up a bit affected by the Friday happy-hour retirement celebration with girlfriends at Casa Vicente - tapas and a bit too much cava (drinking when not driving is dangerous in another way). Or is it that last weekend was still in-between work days and the engrained concept of “weekend” hasn’t worn off (although last weekend, and my finals days of work, seem a world away already).

We’ll see whether the days start to blend together in terms of character or definition. But right now, it feels like real Saturday at my house.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Few Unexpected Things

1. The time interactions start:

  • Retirement Day 1: 8:30 am. Neighbor rings doorbell concerned about another neighbor she hasn’t seen out and about. I was awake but not up (see post: Report from Day One)

  • Retirement Day 2: 8:30 am. A retired friend I’ve been emailing calls. I was awake (and up) at 6:30 so no problem

  • Retirement Day 3: 8:30 am. Doorbell rings. It’s someone delivering a beautiful tray of cookies and a note from my financial planner. I was awake but not up. (see bullet one)

Apparently the day in non-work land starts at 8:30. Good to know. We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning.

2. Friends call me and we have conversations. In the daytime. On a week day.

3. I have yet to make a list. Other than this one.

Noticing Differences

The Same
It feels like Saturday
There are many of them in a row so its even better
Too much time on the computer

Lots to do
No pressure to get it done because it can get done tomorrow (really)

There are things to get frustrated about
No time pressure or big investment so I let it roll off.
Get out of bed every morning
Looking forward to what the day will bring
Look at the clock
Just wondering what time it might be

Social get-togethers with friends
More of them and they are the anchor for time/appointment planning...and they can happen in the daytime.
Take a shower
Not rushing to get to work before it is noon on the east coast.
Listen to NPR
Fresh Air and other great afternoon programming

I better stop before this turns into one of those superficial lists that get sent around. Maybe it already has. Sorry. Seriously though. The real differences are these: no time tyranny, no pressure to perform, no impossible deadlines, no navigating the expectations of others. Simple here-and-now presence in the world. And responsibility for making the most of it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Report from Day One

I got up at 6:30, ate a small egg-white omelet and drank some green tea, worked out for an hour and a half, came home and organized my filing cabinets. No. I did not. I engaged in an experiment: what time would I get up if I didn’t use an alarm and don’t have to be anywhere. Answer for today: 8:30….after staying up too late (the other half of the experiment) channel-surfing (Craft Wars with Tori Spelling? We are doomed as a society. At least it is better than some of the cooking shows where people apologize for their “huge mistake” - lumpy mashed potatoes or something - in tears. It’s FOOD people. Not world diplomacy.) Then I puttered. My aunt in California called to congratulate me. My mom and my sister called me. A good friend called  - "are you bored yet?" (Ha)  I puttered some more. At noon I was still in my pajama bottoms – but with a cotton knit top – the new “at home wear”?  Lots of emails to deal with…purged my address book. Communicated with quite a few people by email. Got computer burn-out. Did the dishes. Ran some errands (got dressed first, not to worry). Sent off the booking info for a trip I signed up for a few days ago (more on that later). Went to my usual evening Pilates class. Kinda like Saturday. Only way better.