Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The words for today are....

Fallow (from Dictionary.com: not in use; inactive: My creative energies have lain fallow this year.) and Fecund (from Dictionary.com: very productive or creative intellectually: the fecund years of the Italian Renaissance).

To my mind these words are directly related, as in: During the period of time from my last posting - October 11th - to date, my mind and body appear to have lain Fallow, but are now entering another Fecund period. I believe I needed a rest to recuperate from the rigorous regimen I had set myself. Today it just felt right to pop in Leslie Sanzone's 1 mile walk DVD and get in 15 minutes of aerobic walking. It could also have been because I took off early from work (due to a threatened snowstorm and whiteout) and found myself with extra time and extra energy. ;->

Here's a site for you. If you're like me, you revel in both words and augmenting your vocabulary. Check out FreeRice.com and you'll have the joy of tweaking your terminology while donating free rice to a good cause. FreeRice has two goals:
1. Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.
What if just knowing what a word meant could help feed hungry people around the world. Well, at Free Rice it does... the totals have grown exponentially." - The Washington Post
Try it and feel good about yourself!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today's big literary news

Doris Lessing won the Nobel prize in literature. Soon to turn 88 years of age, she has written dozens of works of fiction, short stories, an autobiography and some science fiction over the past 40 years. I learned that she never finished high school and had educated herself through voracious reading. Today's papers said she was born in Persia, raised in Rhodesia and is currently living in London. Her fascinating biographical background is said to feature in many of her works.

How is it that I, another voracious reader, with a major in comparative european literature, had never heard of her until tonight's PBS Newshour report? I'm grateful to have finally learned of her work and to now have a whole new literary persona to discover and digest in detail. Her wikipedia entry can be found here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Some of what I've been up to...

My husband and I attended the Gathering of Mustangs & Legends (World War II warbirds) at Rickenbacker airfield the last weekend of September, flying our Cherokee 180 over several states. The picture accompanying this item is just one of the lovely views from above.

There were 81 P-51 mustangs at the show along with B-17 bombers, a Lancaster, numerous P-38s and the airforce's current crop of F-15s, F-16s and an F-22.

The exciting part for me was beginning to learn to read (ie interpret) the Detroit sectional aeronautical chart. You have no idea how much information can be crammed into how little space until you've seen a sectional. I learned how to look for obstructions such as towers, hang gliders and parachute jumping areas. I was able to spot power transmission lines, roads and railroads and became a bit more proficient at finding the various airports' unicom and AWOS/ASOS radio frequencies for my pilot/husband.

Here is what the view from my side of the plane looks like when coming in for a landing - yes, that is the runway below. And a very espensive GPS to keep the plane on track is on its left.

As far as exercising body/mind and spirt, believe me, we walked for miles at Rickenbacker airfield!!! I was more than glad to finally sit down and watch the acrobatic pilots. It was a wonderful weekend to be outdoors in the 80 degree sunshine - nature can be very spiritual. And I more than exercised my mind with airport radio frequencies, elevations and reading sectionals.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Amusing Musings

When I went to Chautauqua for the week and ended up with a severe upper respiratory infection, I never did get back into my physical exercise program. The amusing part? Last week, Solutions for Wellness sent me a congratulatory certificate of completion of their wellness program!

I still walk whenever I can and try to eat right. I've signed up for a 30 day e-course with Thich Nhat Hahn. And, I've loaded up my library book bags. I'm keeping tabs on my virtual bookshelf at Facebook. So far I can remember reading 1,525 books, am currently reading 5 books and want to read 296 more. Check out my Facebook page to see the specifics.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More musings....

I'm still not completely back to normal healthwise. My physical exercise program reflects that. Yesterday I walked our basset hound Zeke for almost 30 minutes. (Well, it was more pausing and snuffing that continuous walking, but it still counts.) Today I walked back to my main agency building and returned to the jail - at least 20 minutes of walking. (This doesn't count today's grocery shopping; that's walking and a bit of strength training since Bob's Big M insists on overloading the cloth bags I bring in rather than contribute to the plethora of plastic bags covering the earth.)

I watched the PBS rebroadcast of a 1986 performance of the Elixar of Love by Donizetti, featuring Luciano Pavaoatti in his prime. Even with the older video sound track and my non-enhanced bedroom television, it was very apparent that he could really sing. The notes appear to cascade from him effortlessly. He will be missed.

I serendipitously found a new spirituality website: SpiritualityandPractice.com. Although one of the courses with Thich Nhat Hahn offically began on September 10th, I signed up for the full forty day e-retreat. I already have a gatha to use on a daily basis, borrowed from one of the other sharers of the spiritual journey: "Chopping wood, drawing water. Walking with a mind of listening."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Amused at my musings...

or, a peek at my personal preoccupations:

I decided to segue slowly into another attempt at Week 8 of the Solutions for Wellness exercise program. Last night I took our basset, Zeke, for a 20 minute walk, well - it was more a 20 minute stop and snuff, but you get the idea. Tonight I went for another walk with Zeke, who almost took me off my feet when he spotted a predatory rabbit. That meant I got both aerobic and strength exercising at the same time!

I can't get into my Facebook virtual bookshelf to update the books I have finished and those I am currently reading. I'm continuing to listen to A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester and have found it to be extremely interesting. It's been slower going for Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

I'm giving some thought to doing a daily gratitude list as a spiritual practice. I wonder what would happen if I googled "gratitude list"? (Wow! displaying the results for 1 through 10 of approximately 2,270,000 pages!!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Starting over, again.

Musings: Well, I now know what it takes to knock me off the exercise horse (so to speak). I was managing to stay active and exercise even while on vacation at Chautauqua, but when I came down with a bad upper respiratory virus while half-way through my week's vacation, I found myself taking it easy, resting, drinking plenty of fluids and no longer exercising. I'm still battling the lingering effects of the tenacious bug and have yet to begin exercising again. Housecleaning and going to work seemed more than enough to do.

Even though I did not continue with physical exercise, I did continue to exercise my mind and spirit. I read several books and listened to numerous podcasts of dharma talks. I did metta meditation and, once, having been inspired by Dr. Dharma Singh Kahlsa at Chautauqua, I found myself listening to a meditation (in song), Ek Onkar, Sat Nam, Siri Wahe Guru. I decided to galvanize myself and start blogging again, even though I'm not back at 100% yet.

For the mind: I'm listening to A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester seemingly about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but actually an education in the advances of geology, plate techtonics, etc.

For the spirit: While surfing the web, I came across the following item from Buddhanet.net
The Game of Janken (Scissors, Paper, Rock)

Janken is perhaps the most popular game which the Japanese, young and old, play when deciding a trivial issue. It is played by thrusting forth the right hand simultaneously with the other player and extending or curling the fingers and thumb to represent the shape of scissors, paper, or rock. Scissors defeat paper because a pair of scissors can cut paper; rock beats scissors because scissors cannot cut rock; and paper defeats rock because it can be wrapped around a rock. This game conveys the profound Buddhist teaching of interdependence and relativeness.

I had no idea that this game had a Japanese ancestry nor did I even suspect it to be an explanation of the interdependence of Buddhism.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Week 8, Day 3

[What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again)].

I'm still on vacation at Chautauqua, where it's been very rainy and damp. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

For the body:
One walks everywhere in Chautauqua. Tonight my pedometer shows 6714 steps.

For the mind:
I attended several lectures today, the most intriging being given by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD dealing wih scientifically proven ways to reverse brain aging and improve memory using age-old yogic techniques that have unexpected hormonal benefits. Anything that can stave off the ravages of Alzheimer's is worth investigating further and it just so happens that I bought his book, Meditation as Medicine: activate the power of your natural healing force.

For the spirit:
I attended a dharma talk by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede of the Rochester Zen Center and I'm considering trying to get up for a morning meditation session with him at 7:15 tomorrow. I also walked the Chautauqua labyrinth tonight.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Week 8, Days 1 & 2

[What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again)].

I've been on vacation at the Chautauqua Institution since Saturday. I'm eating very healthy: spinach salads, oat bread ham sandwiches, granola and low fat milk and I'm walking alot to get to the various lectures and symphonies. No formal exericse program, though.

For the body:
Plenty of fresh air, walking and good food.

For the mind:
I attended a lecture entitled "Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business and Bad Medicine" by authors Donald Barlett and James Steele. I also picked up two books at the Chautauqua library: S is for Silence, a mystery by Sue Grafton and Heart Like Water: surviving Katrina and life in its diaster zone.

For the spirit:
20 minutes of mindfulness meditation each night.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Week 7, Day 6 & 7

[What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again)].

Musings: Friday was busy as well, with the additional sad pleasure of taking my student intern, Rachel, out for a farewell luncheon. Saturday was mostly spent being on the Thruway to get to the Chautauqua Institution, so my exercise was abbreviated.

For the body:
On Friday I walked to Wayne Behavioral Health Network to drop off my timesheet for the next week while I would be on vacation. That was approximately 30 mintes of walking. On Satuday, I wore the Eli Lilly pedometer and walked 10,360 steps. (After you unload your car at the Chautauqua institution, you take it off grounds to park for the week. There's little or no motor traffic here. Everyone walks or rides their bikes. I also had the extra benefit of aerobic exercise when I carried our supplies up two flights of stairs to our third floor apartment.

For the mnd:
On Friday I finished reading The Diana Chronicles and continued listening to Tin Roof Blowdown. On Saturday, we finished unpacking and gobbling supper earliy enough to catch the pre-symphony concert lecture by Lee Speers and got to hear directly from the composer of "Night Light", Yanim Leef, and then learned a great deal about Beethoven's use of motif's in his Symphony no, 9.

For the spirit:
On Friday, I fell asleep before completing my mindfulness meditaiton. On Satuday I wouild say that the hour long performancy of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with it's final section "Ode to Joy" more than counts for a true connection to spirituality.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Week 7, Day 5

[What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again)].

For the body:
I was crunched for time today what with working all day, rushing off to get a much needed perm from the Headlines talented stylist, Pat Mac Dougall, and then off to grocery shop and get ready for my week vacation at Chautauqua. I elected to count the 30 minutes at Bob's Big M pushing a shopping cart as the 30 minutes of aerobic exercise needed for today. I postponed today's strength and flexibility training.

For the mind:
I read several more chapters of The Diana Chronicles and listened to more of Audible.com's audiobook, Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke.

For the spirit:
Nothing like multi-tasking! While waiting for the 1st perm solution to set, I used the twenty minutes for metta meditation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Week 7, Day 4

[What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again)].

For the body:
A day of rest!!!!

For the mind:
I began to explore Facebook in more depth. I invited several more individuals to join and now have a total of 9 friends. Wooo Hooo! I also continued to listen to my Audible.com book, Tin Roof Blowdown.

For the spirit:
A half hour of metta (loving kindness or friendship) meditation, where one begins by wishing for the following for oneself:
    May I live in safety.
    May I be happy.
    May I be healthy.
    May I live with ease.
After doing that for awhile, one then wishes the above for a benefactor, then for a friend, then for a neutral person (one for whom you have neither positive nor negative feelings) and then for someone disliked. Eventually, one wishes the above for all creatures (self included).

It was a nice change from attempting to watch my breath.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Week 7, Day 3

What's this whole Week/Day thing about? Please see my original posting Starting an Exercise Program (again).

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill, walking at 2.1 miles per hour while watching the PBS show, Origins.

For the mind:
As I noted above, I watched the acclaimed PBS show, Origins, Episode Two: How Life Began. I found it fascinating to learn that we might owe our very existence to a byproduct of bacteria
"...It's amazing to contemplate, but without cyanobacteria, there would be no oxygen and Earth would still be smothered in noxious gases. Plants, animals and humans would have never evolved..."
(From Origins: How Life Began.)

For the mind:I only managed ten minutes or so of mindfulness meditation. Partly because of our pets and partly because of an allergy headache.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Week 7, Day 2

What this Week/Day thing all about? Please see my initial posting Starting an Exercise Program (again).

For the body:
Two sets of 10 repetitions of strength exercises using a 2.5 pound weight. Two sets of 25 repetitions of situps; two sets of 15 repetitions of back exercises; and two sets of 25 repetitions of leg extensions.

For the mind:
I started listening to another books from Audible.com, Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke. He's the first fiction writer I know of to write about New Orleans and the surrounding area post Katrina and he's doing it with a gut wrenching honesty.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation with my cat, Zak.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Week 7, Day 1

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill while watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica on my iPod. (It's amazing how fast time can pass that way!) Flexibility exercises completed as well.

For the mind:
I continued to peruse The Diana Chronicles and have been listening to Librivox's mp3 file recording of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, just because.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Week 6, Days 6 & 7

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica on my iPod on Friday. Saturday was another day of rest. Next week the intensity of exercise increases to two sets of strength exercises and additional days of aerobic and flexibility exercise.

For the mind:
Listening to some podcasts from Fora.tv about web 2.0 as well as reading several more chapters of The Diana Chronicles.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of Meditation on Hindrances last night and 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation with the cat on my meditation cushion.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Week 6, Day 5

For the body:
I did both the strength and flexibility exercises tonight and tried to convince myself that grocery shopping equated aerobic exercise. (I know that it didn't as I didn't break a sweat.)

For the mind:
I finished listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday and can breathe a sigh of relief that I got through it before inadvertently learning the ending. It was a "ripping good" listen. Highly recommended. I also read several chapters of The Diana Chronicles.

For the spirit:
Made the mistake of attempting to meditate while lying in bed. (P.S. That's a quick and easy method for falling asleep.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Week 6, Day 4

For the body:
A day of rest from aerobic, strength or flexibility exercises. I also went to bed early.

For the mind:

I picked up a reserved book at the Lyons Public Library, The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown and dipped into it briefly. I'm also on the seventeenth and final CD of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

For the spirit:
I went out to the gazebo with my basset, Zeke, and meditated for almost 20 minutes. He is incredibly hyperactive for a seven year old dog and simply cannot sit still for long, particularly when chipmunks saunter by.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Week 6, Day 3

For the body:
Thirty minutes walking on the treadmill at 2.1 miles per hour for a total distance of 1.05 miles.

For the mind:
While walking the treadmill noted above, I watched the first episode of Origins on WXXI, my local PBS station. I had no idea how far geology, volcanism and the earth sciences had progressed since my 9th grade science class back in 1965. Terms such as "magma ocean" and "iron catastrophe" and concepts such as the bulk of the earth's oceans being created by the impact of huge, frozen snowballs known as comets helped the 30 minutes on the treadmill go quickly.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes spent sitting on my upstairs meditation cushion listening to my cat meow up at me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Week 6, Day 2

For the body:
Approximately 10 minutes of strength exercises.

For the mind:
Further exploration of the veritable tome, Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation on my upstairs cushion. I also found an interesting meditation, "The Way of Cats", given the propensity of my cat, Zak, to want to sit when me when I meditate. It's an excerpt from Interluderetreat.com

Some people make meditation complicated. They think it must be done according to a technical prescription. The posture must be just so. The hands must be held just so. The proper mantra must be recited. The incense must be lit. All the equipment must be placed correctly. Their cats, on the other hand, meditate just fine without any instruction and in the most varied circumstances.

A cat will sit and stare at a spot on the floor or out the window and be completely transfixed. They require no preparation for this. They have total concentration, minds empty of worry or care. Nobody forces them to this contemplation. They have no superego harrying them to do their duty. Perhaps because they are predators, they have the gift of natural, relaxed, alertness and focus.

Cats have the ability to take joy in simple things. They eat. They play. They give and take affection. They do their duty of protecting the household from small moving things, because that is what they are drawn to do.

There is nothing complicated in the world of a cat. No one needs to tell them when to go to sleep, and when they awaken, they stretch their muscles in a natural yoga that no one had to teach them. When they move, cats step softly and move swiftly, or oh so slowly, as the situation requires. Their stealth is the envy of the greatest ninja. As Doris Lessing said, "If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then a cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Week 6, Day 1

Well, I missed several days of exercising, it was just too hot and muggy. And then I somehow threw my back out. Excuses, excuses, I know. I did do my mindfulness meditation, however.

For the body;
I walked just over 1 mile on the treadmill at 2.1 miles per hour and I will do the flexibility exercises after posting this.

For the mind:
I listened to several podcasts from The Classic Tales with B.J. Harrison, "The Lost Phoebe" by Theodore Drieser and Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Redheaded League".

For the spirit:
I spent some time with friends at a chicken barbeque.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Week 5, Day 3

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill, walking at 2.1 mph.

For the mind:
I stretched my brain muscles by beginning to learn my way around Facebook. I was invited to be friends there by my niece, Robyn, and my student intern, Rachel. I also found another niece who is living in Florida. I planted two flowers in my online "garden" there and will send flowers to Robyn when she accepts the garden invitation.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation (following the breath) sitting on my library futon between Zeke and Zak.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week 5, Day 2

For the body:
Yesterday called for 1 set of 12 repetitions using a 2.5 pound weight of the following strength exercises: chest press with dumbells, low back extension, abdominal curls, bicep curls, tricep press, arm lateral raises and side leg lifts.

For the mind:
(OK, mind candy.) I'm deep into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - disk 11 of 17 of the CD version. For more serious moments I've started reading Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

For the spirit:
Twenty minutes of mindfulness meditation (without the cat) on my cushion upstairs.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 5, Day 1

Harborfest brought about some dislocation in my exercise plan. Because I chose to attend the Blood, Sweat & Tears concert on Thursday and the fireworks on Friday, I missed doing a strength and a flexibility program. I believe I walked enough (to get to an excellent site for watching the fireworks) to count as 30 minutes of aerobic activity. (Photo credit: Kim Westcott, Cornerstone Media Solutions)

Last night I began week five of the program and did my 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill (while watching another House episode on my iPod). I also did the required flexibility exercises. Then it was time to go upstairs and sit on my meditation cushion with my cat, Zak, for 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Week 4, Day 4

My husband discovered a bat in the house at 1:30 am last night. Needless to say, the house was in an uproar for awhile and I found it difficult to get back to sleep. Luckily, today was a rest day.

For the body:
I walked back and forth to the main office today - about 30 minutes.

For the mind:
I listened to a Classic Tales Podcast of a Thomas Hardy short story, "Barbara of the House of Grebe." I can't remember ever reading any Hardy. I hadn't realized what I missed. It was a tale of impulsity and youth; surface beauty versus depth of character and how life and love play out between one woman and two men. Needless to say, it does not have a happy ending.

For the spirit:
I did 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation last night. I have a feeling I'll fall asleep before I get in tonight's meditation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Week 4, Day 3

For the body:
I got in another 30 minutes walking 2 mph on the treadmill while watching another episode of House in my iPod.

For the mind:
I finished the book Beyond AI. What I learned is how much I don't know about artificial intelligence and where we stand now on our ability to create it. I took a course in college, Philiosophy of the Mind, that addressed the earliest hints of this subject in the early 1970's. I had no idea what had transpired during the intervening years effecting the co-evolution of the study of the human brain and/or mind and computerized artificial intelligence. It actually made me quite hopeful about humankind's continued existence when the expected breakthroughs come leading to para human AI or even hyper human AI.

For the spirit
I did complete 25 minutes of mindfulness of body sensations last night and plan to meditate again tonight.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week 4, Day 2

For the body:
I did today's strength exercises (mostly 12 repetitions using a 2.5 pound weight).

For the mind:
I tried to keep up with the political news coming out of Washington, DC, and New York State by checking my favorite blogs: Daily Kos and The Albany Project.

For the spirit:
I plan to get in 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation before I fall asleep tonight.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Week 4, Day 1

OK, I'm starting week four of my exercise regimen. Just a few more days should make it a habit, right? Right....

For the body:
Thirty minutes on the treadmill while watching an old episode of House (Wack-a-mole). Ten minutes of flexibility exercising.

For the mind:
I listened to another tale read by B.J.Harrison at The Classic Tales Podcast: The Spotted Band by Authur Conan Doyle. (A Sherlock Holmes mystery). Mr. Harrison did a wonderful job with his British accents, making each character distinctly him or herself. I also entertained myself with Show #73 of The Babylon Podcast in which I got to indulge my inner deep geek on the Season 3 show, "Convictions". Great job, Tim, Tim, Jeffrey, Mike and Edmund! I read several more chapters of Beyond AI.

For the spirit"
I listened to a dharma talk from The Interdependence Project by Ethan Nictern on Anger. I also sat for 25 minutes while listening to a guided meditation on Mindfulness of Sensation by Sharon Slazberg (from her book, Mindfulness Meditation: A Step by Step Course in How to Meditate with Joseph Goldstein.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Week 3, Day 7

For the body:
Today was an official day of rest from my formal exercise program. However, I think I burned calories by vacuuming the house and dusting, doing dishes and 4 loads of wash. I also took our basset, Zeke, out for a walk to smell the wildlife.

For the mind:
I got bogged down in some nearly incomprehensivle chapters in Beyond AI involving evidence grids, bayesian networks and seguing into designing for a brain. I forged my way through and found myself in somewhat more understandable territory describing the different stages of AI: hypohuman, diahuman, parahuman, allohuman, epihuman and hyperhuman. Several more chapters to go.

On the lighter side, I listened to another Escape Pod podcast, entitled "Conversations with and about my Electric Toothbrush" by Derek Zumsteg. Zany, spectulative science fiction at its best, deliniating the plight of a poor electric toothbrush with higher aspirations for itself and its human owner. The iTunes store emailed me about another new podcast, the Classic Tales Podcast. I grabbed all 8 episodes and listened to "The cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. We had a very old bound set of Poe when I was growing up and I have hazy memories of the tale. The narrator, B.J. Harrison, does a fantastic job of bringing it to life.

For the spirit:
I've been listening to various dharma talks from The InterDependence Project and sat for 20 minutes of breath meditation. I also reminded my husband to move the old television off my meditation cushion and put it anyplace else.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Week 3, Day 6

For the body:
I played catch-up today and finally got in my 10 minutes (12 reps) of strength exercises.

For the mind:
I discovered a new audiobook from one of my favorite cop/mystery writers, The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke. I grabbed it from Audible.com primarily because he is according New Orleans (and other hurricane devastated areas) the respect it deserves by portraying it in all its horrifying detail. (Something yet to be addressed by our Federal government).

For the spirit:
I sat for 20 minutes of breath meditation with the cat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Week 3, Day 5

For the mind:
I indulged myself by listening to two short science fiction stories at Escape Pod. One was a five minute flash story entitled, "The God of the Goblins" by Eric Marin. The other was a 20 minute story called "Implications" by James C. Bassett. I find that I still love being read to, as my parents used to do many years ago.

For the body:
I walked about 30 minutes today, going from the jail to Wayne Behavioral Health Network and back to pick up my paycheck, etc. Because it had been raining and the skies looked like they might let loose another downpour at any time, my co-worker, Diane, drove at the rate of 2 mph by my side in case I suddenly needed a rescue from the rain. What are true friends for, anyway?

For the sprit:
I found another website on mindfulness meditation, The Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. There I found a 12 minute guided meditation on the breath, body and sound awareness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Week 3, Days 3 and 4

The allergy headache returned with a vengence yesterday and I allowed myself to slack off on the exercise program. Monday had called for 10 minutes of strength training, while thirty minutes of aerobics was scheduled for yesterday. I did manage to walk thirty minutes today while at work. I plan on making up Monday's 10 minutes of strength training tonight.

For the mind:
I've been keeping up with the Republican filibuster in the Senate and doing what I can to support the start of a withdrawal from the civil war in Iraq.

For the body:
30 minutes of walking.

For the spirit:
Listening to dharma talks on mindfulness of the breath and mindfulness of feelings.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 3, Day 2

For the body, mind and spirit:
Today's allergy headache just got worse and worse. The best thing I can do for all the parts of me is to take some antihistamines and go to bed early.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Week 3, Day 1

For the mind:
I perused the Sunday Democrat & Chronicle, dipped into a couple of books and watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica, Season 1. The mind needs entertainment as well as enlightenment.

For the body:
I walked on the treadmill for 30 mnutes. It's surprising how fast the time goes when I'm watching Grease and listening to the musical soundtrack. I tried to take Zeke for a walk, but it's most decidedly not an aerobic one. We have to stop every few feet and snuff where the rabbits, chipmunks, grey squirels and woodchuck have been. I also did my 7 minutes of flexibility exercise. I managed to find my pedometer and clipped it on first thing in the morning. Looking at it as of this moment I have walked 7,221 stepsn today, (including the treadmill).

For the spirit:
I downloaded the 20 minute meditation timer from Insight Meditation Center and sat for 20 minutes between my cat, Zak, and my dog, Zeke.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Week 2, Day 7

It's been a quiet, pleasant day: seeing friends, visiting the Fulton Public Library, buying fresh fruits and vegetables (and a decadent raspberry jam-filled, chocolate drizzled, sugar cookie) all from Sunshine Produce.

For the mind:
I am continuing to read Beyond AI, and now have a book waiting for me at the Lyons Public Libary, as well.

For the body:
A second day of rest. I need to dig out the pedometer that the Solutions for Wellness site sent me, because I know that I actually did have some activity today. I just don't know how many steps I took.

For the spirit:
I plugged into my iPod and listened to the "Breath Meditation" guided meditation from Insight Meditation: a step by step course in how to meditate by Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Week 2, Day 6

For the body:
Today and tomorrow are "rest" days according to the exercise program, so I'm treating my body well by going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

For the mind:
Actually, it's for body, mind and spirit, a serendipitous pick-up at the Lyons Public Libary, Fit to Live by Pamela Peeke, MH, MPH, FACP. Part 1: Are you mentally fit to live? Part 2: Are you nutritionally fit to live? Part 3: Are you physically fit to live?, Part 4: Are you financially fit to live? and Part 5: Are you environmentally fit to live? I began leafing through it tonight while in the gazebo with Zeke.

For the spirit:
Several attempts were made to meditate, both interrupted. Once by my husband when he came out to the gazebo to be with me and once when I tried again later while lying down with the cat (we both fell asleep!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Week 2, Day 5

For the body:
  • 30 minutes of aerobics on the treadmill (2 mph)
  • 10 minutes of strength exercises
  • 10 minutes of flexibility exercises

For the mind:
  • I learned that today was Julius Caesar's birthday (a factoid, I know)
  • I plan on grabbing Beyond AI for a few more chapters before falling asleep.

For the spirit:
  • 20 mintues of mindfulness meditation

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Week 2, Day 4

For the mind:
I found some time to read Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac today and found the following entry:
It's the birthday of the literary critic and teacher Harold Bloom..., born in New York City (1930) to Jewish immigrants. His first language was Yiddish, and he started reading poetry in English before he'd ever heard English spoken. He didn't do well in high school but took the statewide Regents exams, got the highest score in the state, and that won him a scholarship to Cornell.

He went on to study literature at Yale in the 1950s at a time when there was a dress code. The students wore jackets and ties. Harold Bloom wore an old Russian leather coat and a pair of fisherman's trousers. He became famous at Yale for his great love of poetry. He memorized everything that he read. He could recite enormous, long poems.

As a professor at Yale and as a critic, Bloom has moved further and further away from the mainstream of literary criticism in this country. Most other critics look at literature as a product of history, politics, and society. Whereas Harold Bloom is one of the last who believes that great literature is a product of pure genius, and who believes that we should read not to learn about history or politics but to learn about the human soul.

In the last few years, he's begun writing books for general readers, believing that scholars have forgotten how to read for pleasure, and many of his recent books have become best-sellers, including Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human and How to Read and Why and Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds.

Now, I took a mandatory course in college entitled "Literary Criticism" that was the most deadly dull, excruciating exercise in futility that I can remember from my entire four years. To read that Professor Bloom had a completely different view of literary criticism, "...to learn about the human soul..." sparked enough interest in me to go online to the Pioneer Libary System and request his book, How to Read and Why. More to follow...

For the body:
Today is a rest day as the Solutions for Wellness exercise program slowly builds up over the next twelve weeks. Moderation in all things, I tell myself. And, indeed, my muscles were a bit sore from the strength training.

For the spirit:
After I post this, I'm going to set my meditation timer widget for twenty minutes and sit on my futon between Zeke, the basset, and Zak, the cat, and attempt to follow my breath. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Week 2, Day 3

For the body:
Even with the humidity sky high, I managed to walk from my office in the jail to our main complex and back this afternoon, hurrying a bit because of thunder. Later that night I walked 15 minutes on the treadmll in the much cooler exercise area in my basement.

For the mind:
I listened to the episoide #69 podcast of This American Life entitled Dreamhouse and will delve back into further chapters of Beyond AI.

For the spirit:
I got about a third of the way through Gil Fronsdal's second introductory lecture on mindfulness meditation as well as sitting for 20 minutes. I should get extra points for that because my husband's newest toy, an HD LCD TV was installed on our television stand and the older, heavier TV was placed on my meditation cushion so as to not mar the hardwood floor. I went out to our gazebo with our basset, Zeke, instead. It was difficult staying focused when he just had to keep our property safe from marauding chipmunks by barking. I had my iPod with me to keep track of the time. I used the stopwatch function, which somehow seemed just wrong. Meditation shouldn't be measured down to hundreths of a second.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Week 2, Day 2

(Side note: for some reason Blogger is giving me fits tonight. Safari can't access it at all and Firefox isn't allowing me to edit with ease.)

For the body:
I thought I needed to do 30 minutes of aerobics today, so, after cleaning up the basement exercise area to make it more conducive to actually exercising there, I jumped on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Again, figuring an hour's worth of heavy duty cleaning should count for something aerobic.

Later tonight I actually looked at the Solutions for Wellness exercise guide and discovered today wasn't 30 minutes of aerobics, but 10 minutes of strength exercises! So, after the PBS newshour I scooted back down cellar to my husband's old weight bench, grabbed my trusty 2.5 pound weights and got to work.

For the spirit:
I managed to escape both the dog and the cat and make it upstairs unseen to sit on my meditation cushion for 20 minutes.

For the mind:
This is always the easiest part for me. I can always find something to do to expand my mental capabilities. Today it was listening to Beethoven's First Symphony and I'll probably finish off the day by picking up J. Storrs Hall's book, Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Week 2, Day 1

Today's exercise plan called for 30 minutes of aerobics and 10 minutes of flexibility exercises. I spent about two hours cleaning the house (vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, dusting, carting things down cellar, etc.) in an effort to get the house ready for company if my mother-in-law's family decided to spend some time at our house after celebrating her birthday at the Pleasant Beach Hotel in Fair Haven, New York. I'm going to say that doing that was at least the equivalent of walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I did the 10 minutes of stretching and managed to find the time to get in 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation today.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Days 6 and 7

Well, I wasn't very sore from the previous day's exertions and there are no aerobic, strength or flexibility exercises scheduled for Friday or Saturday, which is a good thing because of a suddenly packed social calendar. I met up with a friend after work on Friday for pizza and palaver. Saturday found my husband and me at an afternoon wedding and reception. I tried to eat reasonably, but I know my calorie intake was much more than 1500/day.

I did meditate both last night and tonight. I thought I had set my meditation widget for 20 minutes yesterday. When bell sounded so soon I discovered I had set it for only 10 minutes. Tonight was the full 20 Gil suggested in his introductory lecture. My mind, of course, went to such things as what will I blog about tonight and how I needed to catch up and two day's worth of blogging because of yesterday's late night. The job is to watch the mind and watch it I did.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day 5

I somehow managed to work a full day, go grocery shopping, do two loads of laundry, throw a pizza together for supper and walk 30 minutes on the treadmill, as well as lifting free weights and doing some flexibility exercises. We'll see what type of shape I'm in tomorrow - if I'm even able to get out of bed.

I listened to Gil Fronsdal's first talk on introduction to mindfulness meditation last night. (You can stream it from the site listed in my previous post.) I've commited to 20 minutes of meditation on a daily basis this week. Once I post this entry, that's what I'll be doing. I just can't seem to meditate in the morning as I am not a morning person. Evening meditation is fine, too. So here goes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Day 4

July 4th is a national holiday and, after checking my Solutions for Wellness exercise plan, I learned it was an exercise holiday for me as well. I'll be more than making up for it tomorrow, it seems, when the plan calls for 30 minutes of aerobics, 7 minutes of flexibility exercise and 10 minutes of strength training. If I don't get in some walking tomorrow at work, I'll jump on the treadmill at home after grocery shopping.

The flexibility exercises consist of:
  • overhead arm stretch
  • crossover shoulder stretch
  • full spinal stretch
  • seated spinal twist and hip extension
  • knee to chest stretch
  • back and thigh stretch
  • straight let, bent knee hamstring stretch
All of these are repeated three times and held for at least 10 seconds, working up to a full 30 seconds.

The strength component is currently comprised of seven exercises, performed with light weights, 1 set of 10 to 12 repetitions:
  • Chest press with dumbbells (for the chest)
  • lower back extension (for the back)
  • ab curls (for the abdomen)
  • bicep curls (for the arms)
  • triceps press (for the arms)
  • lateral raises (for the shoulders)
  • side leg lifts (for the legs).
That's enough projection about tomorrow. I'm stopping now for some more mindfulness meditation with the cat.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Day 3

Today may be the "proof of the pudding" (or the taco dip) as far as my exercise program goes. After work I need to stop and buy items for a dish to pass, pick up my prescriptions, fill my gas tank, rush home and construct the 7 layer taco dip tor tonight's early 4th of July celebration with friends on the bay. We're staying for the fireworks, so I won't be home until late. I certainly hope nothing's listed as required exercise today. I guess I'll see and report back.

Much later...

Well, I managed to squeeze in 30 minutes of walking 2 mph on the treadmill and still get ready for the fireworks party later. Before I become too self-congratulatory, I completely forgot about meditating. Truth to tell, the tacos and dip I consumed while waiting for the fireworks probably wiped out the fat calories I lost walking on the treadmill. With luck, it balanced out.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Day 2

Today's exercise plan did not call for an aerobic, flexibility or strength routine. (One starts out slowly apparently - by exercising three times a week.) I elected to try a yoga series of Half Sun Salutations repeated 5 times just to keep myself on track.

I also began entering my food intake in an online food/activity web site known as FitDay.com.

Now on to mindfulness meditation...

I'm back. With a question. Why does 10 minutes go by so slowly while meditating and speed by after hitting the snooze button in the morning? My non-scientific answer? Time has more energy first thing in the morning and, due to entropy, slows down the later the hour.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Starting an Exercise Program (again)

I glowered at the digital bathroom scales this morning as I saw them register 158 pounds after I stepped on them right after taking a shower. (Now some of that could conceivably be water weight absorbed through my skin, but I don't think that accounts for all of the weight gain.) Over the past few months I had gotten down to 151 pounds through watching my diet and taking medicine for my hypothryoidism. Uh uh! Maybe my body's equilibrium has shifted back.

Several months earlier I had managed to start an aerobic routine using the treadmill (while watching the Newshour on PBS) until it broke and suddenly started going 13.4 mph!!!! It took Mark awhile to discover what was wrong, then order the part, then find time to install it. More than enough time for me to get out of the habit of exerise.

So, I dug out the Solutions for Wellness diet and exercise notebook I had ordered for free through Eli Lilly and reread the exercise handouts. Sunday's plan called for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by a brief series of flexibility exercises. I elected to ramble all over our property with our basset hound, Zeke, while listening to a science fiction podcast. (I know the dog was tired out by sniffing out countless rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels) Then I did the 10 minutes of flexibility exercises called for.

Lilly also sent me a pedometer as a reward for completing several surveys. I'm not sure it's actually working correctly. It's has too many bells and whistles (compass, stop watch, step counter, distance counter, etc.) for something made of purple plastic.

People who know me know I'm always reading and trying to learn new things. Exercising my mind is never ever a problem. But exercising my body? Maybe I should also include spiritual exercise here as well. After all, I'm a tripartite human being, composed of mind, body and spirit.

So, I'm going to set my meditation widget for 10 minutes and see what happens. Beginners Mind all over again.


Ok, I'm back. The cat did much better with mindful purring than I did meditating. It seemed like the 10 minutes was taking forever and my over active mind could not be still. I finally got up to see how close I was to the end and saw I still had 2 more minutes to go. The cat settled back down on my lap easily and I got lost in my mind and then the bell rang.

More tomorrow.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Need for dialogue

I received the following emailed news item from Mary Anne, a kindred spirit and thoughtful friend, and felt it important enough to give it prominent placement on my blog. Heaven knows, we need to be opening up a dialogue with Iran.


As Christian leaders from the United States, we went to
Iran at this time of increased tension believing that it
is possible to build bridges of understanding between our
two countries. We believe military action is not the
answer, and that God calls usto just and peaceful
relationships within the global community.

We were a diverse group of Christian leaders that included
United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical,
Quaker, and Mennonites who have 17 years of on the
ground experience in Iran. We were warmly welcomed by
the Iranian people, and our time in Iran convinced us
that religious leaders from both countries can help
pave the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations
between our nations.

During our visit we met with Muslim and Christian leaders,
government officials, and other Iranian people. Our final
day included a meeting with former President Khatami and
current President Ahmadinejad. The meeting with President
Ahmadinejad was the first time an American delegation had
met with a sitting Iranian President in Iran since the
Islamic revolution in 1979. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours
and covered a range of topics including the role of religion
in transforming conflict, Iraq, nuclear proliferation,
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What the delegation found most encouraging from the
meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear
declaration from him of no intention to acquire or
use nuclear weapons, as well as a statement that
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved
through political not military means. Finally, he said,
"I have no reservation about conducting talks with
American officials if we see some good will."

We believe it is possible for further dialogue and that
there can be a new day in U.S. - Iranian relations. The
Iranian government has already built a bridge toward the
American people by inviting our delegation to come
to Iran. We ask the U.S. government to welcome a similar
delegation of Iranian religious leaders to the United

As additional steps in building bridges between our
nations, we call upon both the United States and Iranian
governments to:

* Immediately engage in direct face-to-face talks
* Cease using language that defines the other using "enemy"
* Promote more people to people exchanges including religious
leaders, members of Parliament/Congress, and civil society

As people of faith, we are committed to working towards
these and other confidence building measures, which we
hope will move our two nations from the precipice of war
towards a more just and peaceful settlement.

For more information contact:
Dan Webster
Director of Media Relations
National Council of Churches, USA
475 Riverside Drive Suite 880
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212 870-2252
Fax 212 870-2030
email: dwebster@ncccusa.org

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours (otherwise known as what's on my iPod?)

My iPod is an iPod mini, a model that Apple no longer makes and that has long been superceded. It continues to perform admirably and has been in daily use for several years. It's a rich-looking brushed silver and was engraved "La Vaughn's iPod" as well as with the following quote from Helen Keller: "Literature is my utopia." It's generally found happily esconced in my purse in it's own special suitcase from stm accompanied by a tiny AirPlay adapter that allows me to listen to it through my car's speakers.

As might be guessed from the Keller quote, my iPod is currently filled with a number of books, ranging from History of the World by J. M. Roberts (approximately 25 hours of listening pleasure), The Inner Art of Meditation by Jack Kornfield (8 hours of listening), The Middle Way by Jinananda (4 hours of teachings about the Buddha) and Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd (14 hours of biographical erudition on all things Shakespearean).

Then there are the podcasts. I subscribe to three dharma talks podcasts: 21st Century Buddhism, Audio Dharma (from the Insight Meditation Center) and Urban Dharma featuring Rev. Kusala. For a broader perspective on the news, I subscribe to Mosaic - World News from the Middle East and From Our Own Correspondent from the BBC. Then there's CUC Digital Sermons from the Unitarian Universalist Church. And, just for pure auditory pleasure, there's This American Life by Ira Glass. I'm also holding on to 24 lectures on Abnormal Psychology from the University of Berkeley, California, until I can get my hands on the accompanying textbook.

Ok,I actually do have some music on my iPod: 2 CD's worth of Blues from the Best of the Blues collection obtained on a whim at Walmart, Windham Hill 's CD America, Sax for Success by Workbeats (a wonderful Jazz find at my local grocery store) and a new age CD downloaded through iTunes called Healing Therapy Music: Colors.

OK, that's mine (and I still have 1.5 gigabytes of space left!!!) Let's see yours!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brrrrrr! It's cold and getting colder! (or Reader's Reverie for February 4th)

It's 11 degrees Farenheit outside right now and I suspect it's actually a little colder given the wind chill factor. That makes today a great day to stay inside and post something on this blog. (Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

I've got a pile of reading material to catch up on ranging from Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis and Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael B. Oren (both Christmas presents from my husband). I can't wait to grab my Christmas present to him: Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by former President Carter. I just finished re-reading an old science fiction favorite: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (circa 1955). On my bedside stand is a new book by the Dalai Lama, How to See Yourself As You Really Are. Please don't assume I've always got my nose stuck in such mind stretching books. I'm also salivating over two books from the Weis and Hickman DragonLance series: Dragons of a Fallen Sun and Dragons of the a Lost Star,

As if that wasn't enough, I've ordered the (used) textbook for a course on Clinical Psychology I'm auditing via iTunes from Berkeley. I'm also reading an ebook, Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food for another course on Human Nutrition at Berkeley. As an aside, I can't believe how much higher educational courses have changed since I was in college (1969-1973). The ebook comes with a companion website containing flashcards for drill, a themed crossword puzzle, animations, chapter summaries and learning objectives as well a complete practice exams that can be emailed to the instructor! I also believe that a course on nutrition will mean much more to these college freshmen in the long run than the mandatory science course that I took, Science and Man, so many years ago. That's not to say that I don't still remember the idea of paradigm change in science and haven't, on occasion, applied it to some current situation in my life. But, knowledge about nutrition, in this depth and at this level, will be something they (and I) can use daily for the rest of our lives.