April 6, 2015: Day 365/365 of Exercise

The words stayed there on the screen mocking me.

Day 365/365 of exercise.

I could not stop staring at them. I sort of wanted to slap my face for getting so hooked by this seemingly simple Facebook status update. My first thought: How is it possible to exercise EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR??

A classmate from middle school had written it. I emailed her immediately asking a barrage of questions: what does this mean…how did you do this…did you really exercise every day for a year?

And she wrote back and told me she got up very early in the mornings and went to the gym. Plus her kids were older teens so she was able to pull it off.

So then I thought: well, going to the gym at 5 am is not gonna work for me. I have an elementary-school age kid and a kid about to enter middle school in the fall- there will be lots of schlepping them around to school and activities and I’m not quite ready to leave them home alone.

But as I thought about that status update, something shifted inside me. Suddenly my state of inertia completely morphed into a state of extreme motivation. I realized I wanted, no, needed, this challenge really badly.

I had been bummed about feeling out of shape and not making the time to exercise regularly- that’s always been sort of a mantra for me, to be in shape and STAY in shape. I always felt better and stronger when I was active. And I felt like such a slug a year ago.

And here was a way for me to take charge and be motivated and stay motivated.

I started telling people about my goal to exercise every day for the next 365 days as a way to make it more real. I’m not a person who likes to fail, so saying the words out loud made me feel more accountable to my success.

Most people were thrilled and intrigued. One person said: you shouldn’t set unreasonable goals. It made me wonder why people say such things, and for a moment I dwelled on: why wasn’t it possible for this person to be supportive and say: wow, I hope you can do it! That would be hard for me! which is probably what they were really thinking and feeling at the time.

I didn’t dwell on that naysayer though. Luckily, I had a neighbor who exercised regularly and we started going for walks once a week in the morning before work, then when the weather turned nasty, as it ultimately does in Seattle, we started swimming also early in the morning. I was getting up at 6 am, which was certainly better than 5 am! In recent months right as daylight savings time was just about to kick in, we would look at each other and go: are we crazy? But it felt SO good afterwards.

My parameters for exercise: I had to move my body in some way for at least 20-30 minutes straight each day. My goal was not to do intense cardiovascular workouts every day for a year, but rather, get my muscles active and spend more time outside increasing my Vitamin D levels. And here were my main activities:

biking (usually twice a week), swimming (twice a week), hiking, walking (2-3 times a week), yoga (once a week), stair master at the gym (once a week), and playing frisbee or basketball. Skiing was out this season because the snow was nonexistent. Every week was different, depending on the weather and whether I was driving carpool or working at this job or that job.

In December I was sick for a week with a horrible sinus infection that had me completely drained of energy. But I made myself exercise- and it was very gentle and mostly consisted of me going for 20 minute walks around the neighborhood or doing yoga at home.

A friend commented that I seemed more peppy and cheerful than usual especially during the winter. And it is true, I have experienced many positive benefits of exercising every day: less moodiness and sadness, better sleep, feeling stronger and more toned, and it has now become a daily habit. I feel restless and stiff if I don’t make the time to move around.

I copied this status update on Facebook and hope it inspires someone else. I am undecided if I will continue the daily exercise regimen. Maybe it will be more like 5 days a week.

Next goal: I want to meditate every day for a year.  I will let you know when I start that :).

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The Danger of a Single Story

In honor of International Women’s Day, I am reposting some reflections about Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted talk, “Danger of a Single Story.”

The Inspired Philanthropist

Check out this interesting TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie. Her message is so right on: Our perceptions of others usually arise from a “single story”.

I am keenly aware that the single story can limit needlessly people’s understanding of a person or thing.

I have a hearing loss so profound that it takes the roar of a jet engine to bring any meaningful semblance of sound to my brain (when I am not wearing my cochlear implant, of course). And even then, I may not hear anything.

The way people perceive me often comes from several different single stories (and that would take several blog posts to talk about them all!):

  • All deaf people know sign language.
  • I must be “Deaf”. The capitalization of the word indicates that people think I am part of a culture that uses American Sign Language (ASL).
  • It is important to talk louder or over-articulate…

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Geeks make the best Neighbors

Well, Geekwire beat me to it. I wanted to write a post about my cool neighbor, Lesley Baker, but they got to her first.

lesleyLesley is a smart gal, a great mom, sweet neighbor, and all-around nice person. We first got to know one another when my daughter started being a mother’s helper to her last year. My daughter would amble on down to Lesley’s house for about an hour and receive a decent salary for her first job. Then when the hour was up and it was time to come home, Lesley would always text me to let me know my girl was on her way home.

Lesley has been one of the biggest supporters of my “Exercise Every Day For a Year” challenge. Since I started my daily exercise routine last April, we have been exercising together once a week. Lesley is a runner, so we started running in the mornings once a week. That ended pretty quickly when I remembered how much I disliked running, so we switched to walking. When it started to get darker in the winter, we switched to swimming at the community center pool.

I’d drive about 100 yards to her house and we’d chat for the 2 minutes it took for us to get to the pool (I know, I know, we could walk but I’m trying to save some time here). We’d go for our 20-minute swim**, then we’d soak in the hot tub and chat up a blue streak for about 5 more minutes. I would wash up and get dressed for work and she’d dash home to be with her kids so her husband could leave for work.

During those brief 7-10 minutes we spend together talking, I learn a lot about her: the apps she’s working on, what she hopes to do career-wise, how much she loves her kids, and how exhausting it can be caring for them when they’re sick or up at night. We talk about the intersections of career and motherhood and our struggles to find flexible work schedules that allow us to be there for our families and at the same time give us the freedom to pursue our passions.

I checked out her app, Achy Penguin, which is designed for kids 5 and under who experience frequent pain. I found it to be rather ingenious! You can blow your hurt out, listen to a fun story, get distracted by a skateboarding music video, do some relaxation and deep breathing, and download a picture of yourself so you can “freeze” the body part that hurts. And she’s got another app that helps kids deal with anger called Huffy Dragon, which she says has gotten 2500 downloads compared to 700 for Achy Penguin.

I am really inspired by her “can-do” attitude, especially what she said about learning to program:  “Anyone can learn to program at any point in their life. It’s hard work, but it’s incredibly rewarding. Programming is one of those things that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know – but you just have to keep going.” It’s so true!  Lately I have been learning about website platforms and HTML coding. It is a slow process and you need to do the same thing over and over to develop some sort of “muscle memory” as a co-worker calls it, before you really GET it. I mean, five years ago I would NEVER have imagined myself creating HTML code.

Thanks to Geekwire’s article, I know a lot more about Lesley and am excited to have my next chat with her soon!



**My parameter for exercise is that it must be for at least 20-30 minutes moving my body in some way: walking, swimming, biking, yoga,  hiking, etc. But more on that later- my challenge is almost over and I will be sure to write a blog post about that.

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Cochlear Implants come to Malawi!

Medical Electronics (Med-El), the cochlear implant company, posted this article on Facebook about 2 children in Malawi who received implants! This has significance for me for two reasons:

There are a few problems I have with the article:

– There is a picture of one of the recipients wearing his implant and the caption reads that he is “all smiles after the operation”. This is not possible because after the operation, your head is all swaddled like a mummy. And you don’t get “turned on” or rather, “activated”, until several weeks later.

Parts of a cochlear implant from the Med-El website. From left to right- the processor with magnet and the internal device

Components of a cochlear implant from the Med-El website. On the left is the processor that sits behind the ear. In the middle is the coil with a magnet inside it that rests on the head. On the right is the internal device (which also has a magnet in it to which the coil attaches to) which is surgically inserted underneath the scalp near the ear and is connected to an electrode array that is threaded through the cochlea.

– I am concerned about whether or not the children will receive the necessary, consistent follow-up to help with speech and listening. It looks like both children live in a major city and can, hopefully, easily get to the clinic to receive services and equipment if needed. Because the children got implanted so late in their lives (at 16 and 9), it is not clear to me how successful they will be with the implant- it all depends on when they lost their hearing. If it was at birth, it will be very difficult for them to catch up, but because they are still young, there is hope. If they became deaf AFTER they acquired speech and language, then there is great potential for them to re-learn how to hear. The younger kids are implanted, the better the chance for success at speech and listening.

– This article and other videos showing people getting their implants turned on seem to convey that the implant is a “cure-all” and once it is turned on, the person can suddenly hear. This is NOT the case. The person may hear a semblance of sound but they will almost never have an idea what kind of sound it is.

I’m excited though, that this technology has found its way to Malawi, the warm heart of Africa!

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Monday Morning Contemplations

Today is Monday. I am feeling sluggish- got a pain in my back and the weather is still ominously grey outside. It’s Seattle, after all. I swear I could be related to Garfield the cat sometimes.

I took my electric toothbrush out of my mouth too soon this morning and THIS is how it felt.

I took my electric toothbrush out of my mouth too soon this morning and THIS is how it felt.

I keep reminding myself, I shouldn’t complain. I’m no longer an east coast gal (Buffalo, NY is where I lived til I went to college) and where I live now (Seattle, WA) is paradise compared to what’s happening over there, with those endless winter storms pummeling everyone with snow, snow snow. Global warming doesn’t seem to be affecting them over there! Over here, we are really feelin’ it.

Snoqualmie Ski Area- very little snow this season. Taken by Steve Ringman, Seattle Times

Snoqualmie Ski Area. Taken by Steve Ringman, Seattle Times

The Snoqualmie ski area is just less than an hour away from my house. I feel lucky that I’m surrounded by mountains and water and can get to them fairly quickly.

Anyway, I gotta get off to work, but just writing this post makes me feel better. There’s a lot of good going on out there in spite of all the weather madness and the Brian Williams disaster. I’m determine to post something inspiring soon. Let me know if you have something you’d like me to share!

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What’s New With Me These Days?

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve no good excuse except for being incredibly busy with a new contract, my current job, juggling husband and kid activities, staying true to my goal of exercising every day, keeping up with friends, worrying about my elderly parents, and trying to stop my cats from scratching up my furniture and eating my cooking. But my blog is never far from my mind and I really miss writing.

My kids don't really think this way...

My kids don’t really think this way…

I’m having fun with this new contract. I’d been wanting to pick up some hours as my current job was only part-time and I was feeling ready to expand my skill set a bit. In fact, this past fall, the work I had done with my coaching group made me realize I was ready to launch a consulting practice.

I really love how serendipity works: I received a fundraising email from a parent at my son’s elementary school who happened to be President of the Board at a small arts non-profit. I had been wanting to do some more volunteering to expand my skill set and also to get to know some other nonprofits a little better. So when I got this email I was intrigued: how did this very busy guy get a pretty cool volunteering position as President of a Board? I made a mental note to email him and ask him some questions.

That very same day, I kid you not, I was at the grocery store when I ran into HIM of all people! During our brief conversation he told me this organization could use some help. He learned I had some extra time, so we decided to email about this and a few weeks later met for coffee to talk more.

Turns out, what he needed and what I wanted were a perfect match!  One of the things I have been wanting to do through my consulting practice is help organizations through transition. It was a match made in heaven! So much for having the time to volunteer. It’s still on my list of priorities, especially doing it with my family.

It’s only been a few weeks, but here is what I have learned so far:

  • I LOVE using my untapped skill set: being a mentor and coach to staff and being a leader during an uncertain time.
  • Being a good listener and being steady and calm are essential particularly when people feel stretched thin and have not been given clear direction about priorities.
  • I am a big picture person and love thinking about how systems are currently working within an organization. How is the organization marketing itself? Are the databases and marketing materials accessible and user-friendly? Who is the audience and are we reaching them?

Thanks for being my 12th man (go Seahawks!!) by continuing to read my blog! Will be back soon!

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Fight the Ladykiller

My Parentmap post about Barbra Streisand and heart disease is up. Check it out!

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Feeding Kids over the Weekend

And here’s another post I enjoyed writing about a program with the schools that we have been partnering with at FamilyWorks. Check it out.

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Eating Granola for Good

I have been eating some really yummy granola. What’s the big deal about that?

Well, it makes me happy to indulge in my (mind you, infrequent) consumerist habits knowing that spending money on granola just gets donated right back to FamilyWorks!

Read my blog post on the FamilyWorks site and find out more!

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An Inspiring Post Gleaned from Facebook

I’m at home with a sick child, doing some work and decided to take a break and check Facebook. Yes, when I need a diversion, that’s what I sometimes do, I admit it. Although, I prefer to stand up after sitting down for way too long and work on peeling an orange to see if I can do it in just one long peel.

So I saw on Facebook that a friend had shared a really moving post written by a woman, a poet, who was stranded at an airport. She heard an announcement that someone who spoke Arabic was needed at her gate immediately (coincidence, huh?). Check it out.

It will make your day.

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