Tag Archives: mindfulness

As summer winds down….

I’m grateful to be able to experience the end of this long, hot summer on my own terms rather than having to drive 40 miles to roast in a sweltering classroom. This summer has been consistently warmer and persistent, in comparison to other years, and I can just imagine what the misery would be in my old classroom now that the shade trees are gone.

But I’m not there. Nonetheless, water scarcity, smoky skies and short tempers characterize the end of summer. The summer party crowd drives frenetically to reach their preferred cooling off sites. When I’m driving around town, I’m seeing more aggressive punching of accelerators, more frequent weaving in-and-out of traffic, more edgy, frayed moods.

Even the creatures feel it. Little finches, chickadees, and bushtits swarm the feeders. The fledgling crow gang stalks the backyard in the early mornings, swaggering with their new-found flight and foraging skills. Their scrub jay counterparts screech obscenities at them, and both groups have developed a new fascination with the wandering neighbor hen. Flies plague the horses even inside the arena, and Mocha is irritable and jumpy, pushing against her boundaries.

Soon the rains will come. Soon. Until then, everything paces and waits, irritable with too much heat and dust and summer light. Eventually rains and gray clouds will once again enfold the city, the bugs will die off, and the brown will turn to faint green, as leaves change to bright reds and yellows.

It’s just a matter of time.

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A productive weekend

As summer of 2014 winds down, we’re engaged in activities both seasonal and for the future. I finished preserving the bulk of the Gravenstein crop with five and a half more quarts of apple juice, leaving us with plenty of juice, applesauce, and a small amount of apple butter. Plus numerous crisps and a couple of apple pies.

The Blue Lakes have been poking along but they aren’t heavy producers this year. We’re getting good tomatoes, enough to justify making a taco salad tomorrow.

We’ve got our own firewood stacked and stored, but yesterday we helped a friend haul and stack three cords of his winter wood, with three more to go. It was delivered to one area easy for the delivery guys to reach, then needed to be transported by pickup to the storage shed. We’ve been nibbling at it all summer, and yesterday was the last transport day. Then it became stacking.

Today, we worked on a new skill–driving the truck with the horse trailer. This was my second time out, and I’m pleased to announce that I’m now approaching the speed limit on the back roads. No horse in the trailer yet, but DH and I cruised the backroads around the barn practicing.

DH is also preparing for the annual deck treatment. Today he trimmed vegetation around the deck.

Crickets are chirping out back. Last night I thought I heard an owl calling back there–not a hoot owl or a great horned, but perhaps a barn owl. Definitely not a screech owl. There’s a cool touch in the evening breeze, damp with the promise of forthcoming fall.

On the one hand, it feels weird not to be contemplating the beginning of the school year. On the other, I just don’t miss it. I’ve missed being able to enjoy my fall, and now I can again. Things sound sufficiently ugly with Common Core issues and the like that I am glad I’m not around for this year of turmoil. But I think good thoughts for my friends who start work tomorrow, and miss them.

Winter is coming. I’m thinking of snow. Time to get fit for skiing.

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That weight thang

Note: could be triggery, so if you have weight issues, you might not want to read this. This is more a musing on my weight gain-loss process, as I think it over and plan how to deal with it. I know what I have to do, and I’m working on it. So….


I’m having to watch my weight again. I’m up about seven pounds from where I should be and it’s showing because it’s starting to get in my way. Keep in mind that I’m a small woman, narrow-shouldered and short-waisted, about 5’3″. My seven pounds is a taller, bigger-framed woman’s fifteen-to-twenty. So when I took off sixty pounds, that was a third of my weight. Someone who is taller with broader shoulders and longer waist would to lose more weight to have that significant of a weight change for them. Doesn’t sound like much of a problem? Well, the dilemma I’m facing is that for me, it’s becoming clear that little shifts in weight can make a HUGE difference in health, comfort and ability to be active. That plus given that I was a fat baby, those little fat cells are just primed to take off and grow given the slightest option. My optimum calorie consumption is about 1300 per day…and it’s only going to get worse as I age. Sigh.

To give you a visual perspective–here I am near my heaviest, around 2006-7:






Contrast with this weight from last fall, which is about five pounds above my lightest weight and actually is just about optimum for me health and activity-wise:






The thing is, I know how my weight gain sneaks up on me. If I don’t watch what I’m eating during the last weeks of school, or if I don’t immediately get strict with myself at the beginning of summer and lose the dang weight already, it stays around. I tend to have wide weight swings across the span of 6-10 years, and if I don’t watch it–before I know it, I’m back up big again. Which is so not going to work as I’m getting older, because it interferes with what I want to do, and the wide swings in weight (sixty is just the biggest, I’ve been known to swing forty-to fifty pounds in a gain-loss cycle) are not good for my long-term health.

I’m usually pretty fit at any weight–aerobically fit, that is. But the weight does get in my way. And as I age, the weight becomes the enemy of the joints and ligaments. Not only that, but it’s putting itself on differently.

Menopause has definitely affected my weight/body shape. I dumped a lot of weight at the beginning of menopause because I went off of hormones and BAM! there went a lot of the weight. I was exercising well until about after the time of the picture from this fall because my hips really started tightening down on me, and then I strained one in early season skiing, and it’s taken until now to get that fixed. I didn’t get bothered at first because besides the weight scale, I use a measuring tape to track my changes, and things looked good.

Except…my waist started creeping upward. I didn’t think much of it at first, because my usual pattern is that I gain first in my bust and lose it last there, while my waist follows the lead of my hips, which usually are the first to lose and the last to gain. Not this time. Bust and hips have remained relatively stable, but the waist? Urm, guess what grew.

Post-menopausal gain pattern, clearly. Annoying as all get-out. Luckily, I think some of that flab is simply loss of muscle tone, and resuming regular workouts as I get more active again will change that. Nonetheless, it’s an bothersome sign of aging.

What’s even more concerning is that this last little gain is making it clear that these days, a five pound range can make a significant difference for me. Couple small frame with reduced calorie need even for an active person (albeit an active writer person) and I foresee some real challenges ahead. I have arthritic tendencies and I just can’t afford to get heavy.

The post-menopausal waist gain is also a huge problem. Before, the weight pretty much evenly distributed itself, with a tendency to concentrate in the bust. Now it all wants to go to the waist. That quickly impacts my flexibility and movement. Yuck.

So…I’m easing back into the process of monitoring food, because what’s happening is that I’m nibbling more and that’s where the calories come from. I’m also in fitness boot camp, which isn’t going to be too bad because I’m including Mocha in the process. But I have to watch out that I don’t overdo (which is why today is a relatively mild day). It looks like I’m going to need to figure out just what does and doesn’t affect that waist weight gain for me.

Arrgh. Just when I got it figured out, things change. The curse of way-too-efficient metabolisms, I guess. And bye-bye, sweet carbs. T’was nice while I could nibble on you.

At least I know I can do it. But it’s annoying to deal with. Sigh.

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Moving ahead with things; teaching, horses

The first thing that is notable about this upcoming school year is that I’ve had a surprising lack of beginning-of-school-year stress dreams (a norm for most teachers, and a feature of all my previous teaching years).  Now whether that reflects changed circumstances (new principal who I worked with as a colleague, some changes in my schedule and tasks) or whether it reflects the reality that my summer has been both horrible and wonderful simultaneously (as I have been describing it to colleagues and friends/parents as I run into them this fall), I don’t know.  I suspect it’s a combination of both.

I’ve had to tear my room apart to find where I hid my staplers when packing up last June (or where the kids who helped me pack put them), and needed to request a new password for my grading/attendance program.  Usually I know what that puppy is or else note it.  This year I totally blanked when I first tried to get in, and I couldn’t find where I put my password note.  After a few tries, I requested a reset rather than risk getting locked out.  That usually is more complicated to fix.  In any case, I’ve had some indications that yeah, one of my reasons for not getting anywhere with much this summer and being down flat has probably been a need to rest, which suggests significant brain burn from both summer events and from three challenging years with difficult building leadership.

(Granted, my definition of not getting stuff done this summer probably looks like getting a lot done to many people.  But I digress.  For me, I didn’t get a lot done.)

Conversely, I have a principal who I actually know fairly well.  I taught with her for six years and have a great deal of respect for what I see of her vision for the building.  I’m eager and engaged in doing what I can to support and promote what she needs and wants to do.

Additionally, for the first time I am an equal member of a teaching team.  Not a specialist member but someone who is teaching part of the content.  It also helps that all three of us are specialists in addition to our general education responsibilities (Sped, ELL, and literacy).  In some respects, I think this may be reflective of where education specialists need to be moving (more on this later as I think about it).

I am also looking forward to spending this year teaching Social Studies as it gives me much-needed experience teaching a content classroom which is not a resource classroom.  Plus I just plain like the content area.  Had I not gone into sped, I’d probably have tried to get into teaching Social Studies.  In any case, this gives me the experience in following content standards while differentiating instructional levels, and I will be coordinating what I do with my two colleagues.  I’m really excited by this challenge as well, as teaching a content area which is not a resource class is vastly different from teaching either resource content area classes or study strategies classes.

My other classes are also going to explicitly be intervention classes.  Not Study Strategies, not electives, but flat out intervention classes designed to help the specific students I will be working with.  That also makes me happy.

So there are several good things there.

As for the horse bit, I am still wavering about the next round of hock injections for Miss Mocha.  It’s been nearly a year but she’s still not demonstrating significant steady symptoms of needing injections.  There are occasional days where she’s funky on spins or rollbacks, but I have a serious question as to whether that’s caused by my own ouchies (rehabbing a hip muscle right now which is a big thing in cueing her) or if she’s just getting experienced and more inclined to take shortcuts.  Yesterday I picked up a bat (crop with a spanky hand on it, I prefer those sometimes to the sting of a dressage whip because it’s a broader tingle with a louder popping noise).  A couple of well-timed pops with it and she was much sharper with no discernible off feeling as she did her spins and rollbacks.  Plus I’m not getting the sense of her lope deteriorating and she is doing some very nice and springy rounded lopes using her hind end.

Last night was one of those nice quiet workmanlike schooling sessions.  Snaffle, western saddle.  It took a while for her to warm up but that’s pretty standard for her when the temperatures start to cool.  She can be a bit of a slug in cool weather but once she gets warm she does well.  She two-tracked without resistance and started working through intricate flying change patterns (essentially, random changes of direction where she needs to change with no clue about where I might send her next or when she needs to change).  I didn’t feel any signs of developing hock issues in that work.

At the end, we had a long rein gallop in both directions.  She nearly dropped her nose to the ground in order to stretch out and relax.

Not an intense schooling session.  Quiet, workmanlike, and steady.  I’m hoping this is the pattern for the year ahead, not just for horse but for teaching and writing.  I Can Haz Plans…and something like that would be very, very nice.

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Happiness #21

Finding lots of good social studies resources cached in the classroom, and getting my mind wrapped around teaching that class!  US History, here I come!

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If I’d written half the posts I’ve been thinking about in the past few weeks, there’d be a lot of them.  As it were, I’ll half-write them (usually while falling asleep/waking up) and then the topic and brilliant words flee from the brain once I’d find the time to sit down and write.  Aiiee.

Life has settled, somewhat (still lots of unwanted drama and sadness but not as close in to me–murder of an Internet friend’s spouse amongst other sad things).  I am going to be teaching a social studies class (non-Special Ed) this year which has me excited in various ways and trembling in others.  It will be a steep learning curve, for certain.  But I’m hoping it will be a good process.  I get to teach U.S. History and while it appears that the process is fairly much laid out for me, nonetheless I get to work with one of my passions.

It’s only now that I’m realizing the degree of brainburn I’ve gotten from the past few crazy years at work.  The impact has been hard on my creative brain; at this point the wild summer coupled with a heat spell has made even revision writing hard.  But going to GearCon this weekend had the hoped-for effect of stirring up ideas and concepts.  Recovering in other ways will be a challenge.  The stress of the past two years, especially the past year in particular, has left me with a trashed-out GI system.  The slightest upset in either grease or acidic foods has me yarking at the Great Throne and I’d just as soon avoid that.  Hopefully this year ahead will be uneventful and maybe I can get the GI system back into a state of calm.

I’m also finding it hard to pull myself into a state of high energy.  I don’t know if it’s the late summer doldrums, fatigue finally catching up with me, or just a lack of structure.  I do know that I have a lot to do and some changes to make.  All good ones, but it’s a time of challenge.

And with that, I’ll be about my day.  A good day to all, and may your challenges all be productive.

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Happiness #20

Buying a corset at GearCon and rocking a new style.

(Yes, I’m being consumerist in this one!  No, I don’t feel guilty.  I was supporting a small designer who commissions their own fabrics.  Plus it’s nice on my sore back.)

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Happiness # 19

Dancing with poi at the GearCon Mad Science ball and not whacking myself too horribly or looking too clumsy in the process.  Still not ready yet for fire poi, but getting there!

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Happiness # 16

Talking with a friend about steampunk costumes for this weekend’s GearCon and planning my outfits for the weekend…then coming home and realizing that the vintage pocket watch in my drawer will make a perfect accessory….

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Happiness #15

The coolness of an overcast morning during a mid-August hot spell.

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