dabbling in home improvement

Before: Land of the Lost Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.25.51 PM

After: Somewhere we actually enjoy spending time.

photo (4)Before: 80s vanity, builder’s mirror, single sink, ugly lighting.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.24.50 PMAfter: New vanity, new mirror, converted to double sinks and new light fixture.

photo (1)

Before: Broken, 80s mini blinds. Everywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.24.14 PMAfter: New blinds and valances throughout.

photo (5)Before: Two-tone 80s vanity.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.23.59 PMAfter: Painted white until we figure out what do to with it.

photo (6)Before: Popcorn ceilings and whitewashed walls.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 1.48.52 PM

After: No more popcorn, no more white.

photo (7)

 

 

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my break up with the elliptical machine

I think most people either love working out or really do NOT love working out. I’m among the first group; exercise makes me happy and keeps me sane. It fixes bad days and continually reminds me how much room there is outside my comfort zone.

Over the years I’ve tried it all. Pilates, distance running, hot yoga, crossfit, circuit training and trekking up mountains. I’ve belonged to every gym chain in Phoenix and have more options for workout clothes than evening wear.

About six years ago I started having trouble with one of my wrists that really inhibited my ability to work out. It was consistently sore and weak and made my hand felt cold and numb. Resting it didn’t help, nor did wearing an expensive brace. I saw doctors, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. I spent hours in physical therapy, had x-rays and MRIs and one really unpleasant cortisone shot. And none of it worked. At one point, a reputable surgeon told me, “You might just have a bad wrist.”

Seriously. Six+ years of this.

A year ago it was worse than ever and I sought the advice of a different orthopedic office. At that point, my mobility was significantly limited and I had stopped many of the activities I loved. I learned I had a cyst in my wrist that had damaged the surrounding nerves and tissue. The surgeon wanted to remove it immediately, but was unsure how I would recover, based on how long I had been suffering without a proper diagnosis.

My surgery was in March 2013 and recovery was pretty painful. I was dismayed to discover much of the pain remained, and my numbness had increased.

That’s when I decided to try a different kind of work out. I broke up with the elliptical and Smith machine and I’ve never looked back. Check out this video or click on the thumbnail below to see what I’m talking about, I created it as a testimonial/thank you to the team. Let me know if you want to give it a try.

Cavemen didn’t eat Doritos, and other thoughts on exercise.

Everywhere I look there’s a virtual flood of articles, research and news headlines about the trouble with our food.

GMOs…organic vs. natural…gluten free and dairy free…paleo and raw food…meatless Mondays.

Are we watching sodium or calories or preservatives or trans fats? It seems to change by the week, and every new finding somehow contradicts the last piece of advice we were told was life-saving.

What about food coloring? Sustainable farming? Protein powder? Do I really need to be eating kale?

It’s hard to know what to focus on and how much obsession over what we consume is enough. In the past year, I’ve made changes to keep most of what we eat at home organic. We’re not perfect, not even close (there are absolutely Pop Tarts in our pantry right now). But, small steps have made it a gradually manageable change. I started with a focus on organic milk and meat, and now the majority of our produce and raw foods are organic, too. I’ve tried to eliminate processed foods where possible; instead of buying ready-made pizza crusts, I spend 10 minutes making one from scratch. I don’t buy Rice-a-Roni, I buy long-grain brown rice and season it myself. Soups are homemade rather than from cans. Baby steps, baby steps.

But with all this talk about what we’re eating, where’s the debate on how we exercise? If we’re reverting to a paleolithic approach to cuisine, should we also back off of running a distance of 26 miles for sport, because I don’t think many cave dwellers did that. And what about weight lifting machines? What real-world movements does a squat rack or BowFlex replicate?

I think that if we’ve taking a serious national mindset toward what we eat, it’s just as important that we evaluate our views on physical activity. The way most of us have been conditioned to view fitness is not only inadequate and impractical, but a recipe for overuse and repetitive-motion injuries.

Cavemen didn’t eat Doritos, but they also didn’t spend hours on elliptical machines or doing crunches. Today’s accepted views of exercise are as skewed from their natural state as our diets are. If we’re eating for optimal health and longevity, let’s exercise with that as a goal, too. The fitness industry makes us believe we need washboard abs and a tiny waist to be healthy, which is nothing short of nonsensical.

Without negating the very serious problems with our food system, I’m suggesting we take a more comprehensive mindset toward wellness, and re-examine what we’re trying to achieve through exercise. It’s incredibly important to consider what we put into our bodies, but also how we use, strengthen and protect them.

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And then things got deep at the horse track.

We went to the horse track last weekend in true Phoenician spirit.

“We have to embrace every possible outdoor activity because the weather is perfection and it will be 120 degrees in four months.”

I’m not a big horse racing fan, but I know enough to equally appreciate and despise it. The Phoenix track oozes 1950s charm and nostalgia – a giant equine-themed time capsule. Patrons can’t help but question whether they’re within the confines of a vintage relic or outdated eyesore.

In the third race of the day, a horse stumbled coming out of the gate. It was severe enough to unseat the jockey, but the horse quickly recovered and didn’t miss a beat. It continued the race, expertly navigating to the inside edge of the track, and sailed ahead to win by several lengths.

Without a 120-pound rider, a horse is not only disqualified from a race, but also at a tremendous advantage. This still begs the question as to how critical the jockey’s role is, and how much heart these animals have to do what they’re raised to, to perform unfailingly, seemingly on autopilot. Even without any coaching, whipping or spurs. They just know how to dig in and give it their all.

Some horses, not all horses, love to run. But domestic animals have an innate desire to perform and to please. This is why my border collie passionately herds us around the house and why a rider-less thoroughbred will commit to winning a race without any encouragement.

If I’m being honest, this partially comical event really got me, goosebumps and all. It was beautiful to see something – animal or human – perform with such unbridled passion. It made me pause to consider if there’s anything I do that passionately. I need to find more situations where I can throw every ounce of my heart and soul into what I’m doing, even if it’s only for a minute-long race.

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Trust: belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, etc.

I saw an exchange on tv recently–don’t ask me to remember what is was–where one character stated to another that no one can ever fully trust another person.

Never fully trusting another person sounds nothing short of exhausting. And to deny that genuine trust can exist between people is an annoyingly one-dimensional statement.

News stories everyday reveal pretty horrible things people can do to one another, often in relationships where trust is assumed…among family members, between elected officials and constituents, or with teachers and students. I guess if trust can so easily be abused, it makes it more impressive that so many of us do still trust, unconditionally and without hesitation.

When I saw this story tonight, my heart sank. I don’t have to read the details to speculate how this went down or what the fallout will be. I went to college and saw some terrible human behavior that makes this is alarmingly easy to imagine. Impulsive decisions to trust, either one’s instincts or another person, can have disastrous outcomes. Consequences of a split-second wrong decision can last a lifetime.

Trust is the foundation of all of our relationships; the deciding factor in what we share, how we act and if we’re comfortable in a situation. Whether we do or dont trust another person governs what we share, how we interact and our general sense of comfort. Beyond trust in others, there’s trust in ourselves and our instincts. It grows as we mature, based on experience and intelligence. I don’t think it’s a constant though, but a skill we’re always practicing and reassessing. Experiences that damage or break our trust will most directly govern our future choices. 

A story like the one above makes me feel even more fortunate to have so many people I trust implicitly. Not only with personal information and thoughts, but with my emotions and the delicate awareness of when to intervene verses staying silent. Trust goes further than keeping secrets; it creates an environment of safety and comfort, and a sense that everything will be alright.

blog TRUST corkboard

three things on wednesday

Two nights ago I got REALLY ANGRY because I was trying to sleep and my husband was snoring. I had to – get this – walk from my bedroom ALL THE WAY to the couch (where I slept comfortably for eight hours). I huffed and I scowled and I ultimately had to walk 17 feet to find another comfortable bed, in my warm house, in my safe neighborhood, etc, etc. Pretty torturous. Reminds me of last week when I almost cried because I was so hungry after working out and all I really, really wanted a turkey sandwich. The thought consumed me. I could hardly breathe. Beware: all logical perspective sails right out the window when one becomes extremely fatigued or hungry.

Tonight I did 100 push ups. The actual process kind of sucked, but forcing myself through it was a reminder of how fun it is to accomplish new things, if for nothing else than the satisfaction you feel when you achieve them. We get a lot of this feeling when we’re kids because we’re constantly mastering new things like little high-tech learning machines, and we’re acutely aware of our new abilities and skills. As adults, we start to take the learning process for granted and stop noticing our progress. Adults need recognition and confidence boosters too, but perhaps not always through calisthenics.

I have watched every episode of Seinfeld so many times that sometimes when it’s on at night I forget  it’s a made-up sitcom and not a real part of my life. I start remembering episodes as my own memories and not works of fiction. While seemingly problematic and INSANE, it’s actually kind of comforting. Like hanging out with old friends where I don’t have to talk and the comfort zone is implied.

do ordinary things with integrity

The drive out of my office complex is pretty isolated–you aren’t on the road in or out unless you work for the same company as me. This is why I can declare with absolute certainty that it was someone I work with who blatantly cut me off as I entered the freeway on my way home today. I didn’t see who it was, and with thousands of employees in a single complex there’s a safe chance I wouldn’t know him anyway, but I’ve got my eye out for a black Sonata.

Now, this is annoying in its own right, because I got cut off in traffic. But it’s also alarming because it supports a scary theory that people act like huge jerks when they have a sense of anonymity. We take liberties we would never dare if we thought we’d be exposed or forced to justify our actions.

Take online commenters as another example, you know who they are. The people who find it necessary to post hurtful, offensive things as feedback on articles or news stories, with no regard for how it might make the author or other commenters feel. It actually has a name: the online disinhibition effect. These folks write things I suspect they wouldn’t utter in a million years in the actual presence of the people they were responding to so cavalierly.

I don’t like that we’re more apt to act like jerks if we think no one will find out. This is the very opposite of integrity, which instead urges us to do the right thing, even if no one is looking. All rudeness, but especially secret rudeness, is elitist and it’s bullying.

I think the world would be a little better if we all remembered the importance of integrity, and the domino effect it has on others. If my colleague had made a great effort to let me merge onto the freeway in front of him, instead of charging ahead, the gracious feeling would have stuck with me the whole drive home.

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