Posts Tagged 'relaxing'

THIS is why, Ann

july 26 dinner 2

Ready for the guests to arrive

More than 30 years ago my husband and I went before the town planning board to get permission to put an extension on our house and build an attached deck. The addition was in place of the tiny back porch and little pantry, and part of where the driveway widened for the 2-car garage. The deck was approximately 32 ft by 15.5 feet and replaced most of our backyard. To get the necessary permits, you have to send notices to all the neighbors, and go before either the zoning board or planning board for permission and any variances. Even if our deck were to be smaller, we’d have needed variances because our old house was built before the ordinances were created and we had existing variances. (I don’t know why that should make us have to go if the new work wouldn’t be in variance, but it does.) I believe there were 5 people on the board, one of them, Ann, a mother of a classmate of mine. During the days leading up to our hearing, I saw various strangers stroll down my driveway and into my backyard – board members checking out the property. We got to the hearing and Ann reproved us, asking “WHY do you NEED such a LARGE deck?” Before we could even start to reply to this unexpected question, another board member spoke up. “Did you SEE their property, Ann? (aside: no – she never came to look.) It’s shady, it slopes, no grass because of the shade. The deck will be a huge improvement.” Well, yes, he was right. Not only would the deck give us a usable attractive backyard, it would function as a large entertainment room as well. Needless to say, our application was approved, the addition added, and we got our deck (which my structural engineer husband designed to withstand nuclear attack and about which the builders complained bitterly).

getting ready

Preparing the deck for little 1-year old feet!

There have been various pictures on this blog that show the deck – in snow, in summer, in fall with the red tail hawk feasting on the squirrel. Over the years the furnishings on the deck have changed from sandboxes and plastic slides and play houses and shade from the cherry tree branches to market umbrellas and wood furnishings to umbrellas and led-lit palm trees and propane-tank fire pits with big comfy chairs. The hot tub has been a constant in the one corner, although it is now the 3rd tub.

the clan on the deck

The clan on the deck enjoying lunch

My niece and her husband and their our one-year old summer solstice baby came to visit July 4th weekend. It was supposed to be in the 90s and humid all day. How to keep everyone happy and safe? The deck has one oscillating fan and 3 umbrellas. Thinking of little soft feet that had only just learned to walk on their own a few short weeks earlier, I went out and bought a large outdoor ‘carpet’ for the deck. I put up a square 10’x10′ pop-up awning. I brought 3 more fans out from the house and aimed them at the play area under the awning. I bought LOTS of toys for ‘my’ baby. I NEEDED a pool. There were no small kiddie pools to be had in time for love or money. What to do???? /me sings “ShopRite has the answer!” There it was – right as you walk into the store. Pool toys. Including an inflatable raft with sides. The PERFECT size and shape for a pool!!!! All for the exorbitant price of $8. As you can see in the pictures, we had plenty of shade, the fans gave us a breeze, and some of us enjoyed the water. 🙂 Yes, it WAS humid but the fans do help somewhat. It was good, but I knew I could do better.

ladies of the family (2)

The ladies of my family are beautiful but I must protect them from the paparazzi!

This past weekend we had friends coming for dinner on the deck. It would be the 6 of us, and it was again going to be in the high 90s and humid. 4 of us belonged to one ‘pod’ but the other 2 are just in the process of venturing out to be socially distanced, maskless, from non-pod people. Not only that, but I knew I had to do better about the heat and humidity. I upped the number of fans to 5, including buying 2 with larger diameter than the ones from the house that I’d used before. 🙂 4 oscillating fans and one stationary fan. The day before I set up the pop-up tent and surrounded it with 4 umbrellas. I also made sure we had LOTS of ice – 30 pounds of ice. Yes – 20 would have sufficed. 🙂 But you KNOW I would have needed more if I’d only had 20. We did quite well – social distance was maintained, there was a constant gentle breeze, and a good time (and great food) was had by all.

july 26 dinner 1

Socially distanced dinner for 6 -can you find the 5th fan?

Now I’m on vacation. I know that I’m “supposed” to going down the shore multiple times this week. BUT. Well. This is embarrassing to write but honestly – I know I’m getting old. It’s actually too hot for me to want to pack up everything and shlepp to the beach early enough to avoid the worst of the traffic. I made a list of everything I’d like to get done in the way of chores, and there are a LOT of things to be done. Why chores on vacation? Because I don’t have time to get some of these things done when I’m working and they are constant irritants whenever I see them or think about them. The solution? Spa Ahuva!!!!!

setting up Spa Ahuva

Setting up Spa Ahuva

Welcome to Spa Ahuva! It has ALL the amenities of the most luxurious spas. Easy to get to – no traffic. Secluded – exclusive membership. Shade. Comfortable chairs. Gentle breeze to keep guests cool and keep the bugs away. Hot tub, for those aching muscles. Rest facilities within an easy walk. And a POOL to cool off in should the need arise. Because I finally found a kiddie pool online that I could still get delivered. Although, Spa Ahuva doesn’t REALLY have all the amenities I need. There is no wait staff to come around and take my food and drink order, and deliver the order chair-side. I’ll have to work on that.

So Ann P – THIS is why we NEEDED such a LARGE deck. 🙂

Spa Ahuva

Spa Ahuva, as seen from my chaise lounge

Trying to ‘Get’ Mindfulness

IMG_2015

Mindfulness is quite ‘in’ these days. Articles, courses, references – it seems to be everywhere I look. I wasn’t really sure what it meant/involved. I thought it was something about being aware in that moment but more than that was unclear to me. I knew more about “Willful Blindness” than about Mindfulness. For a fantastic discussion on that, you should follow Margaret Heffernan and/or read her book, ‘Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious At Our Peril”. I’ve heard her speak and she is FANTASTIC. But I digress. *grin* How like me.
dead branch in leaves

Yesterday at work we had an entire day devoted to learning – personal learning and corporate learning. I confess I was skeptical about the event. I thought it was going to be all ‘live’ presentations of folks droning on and on. It was nothing like that, and I was extremely impressed with how well it ran and the wide range of topics available to pursue. Folks who worked in large locations gathered together in party-like atmospheres, while us remote folks made do with our own kitchens (and cats). One of the options under the Personal Development track was a 45-minute session on Mindfulness. I decided to take that session. (Most of the offerings were a combination of pre-recorded presentations and reading materials, plus other relevant tasks or suggestions.)
goldenrod

This particular session seemed to be aimed at how one could practice mindfulness at work. The goal of practicing mindfulness would lead to a feeling of calm, the ability to focus, reduction of stress, and overall better health. All of which would make you more productive, in all aspects of life. At least, this is what I took away from the session. As is my habit, I took screen shots of material I wanted to remember and revisit. I saved “10 mindfulness habits that will make you more productive at work”, “7 things mindful people do differently”, and “Some mindfulness exercises”. Although one of the ‘habits’ is ‘practice humility’ I’m arrogant and prideful enough to believe that I actually practice the 7 mindful habits most of the time. *laughing* Maybe a good part of the time if not most of the time. A lot of it sounded much like things my therapist used to advise me to embrace.
evergreen with berries

‘Approach every day things with curiosity and savor them.’ That would probably be something I stop and do deliberately, or when I’m taken by surprise. I do love to learn how different things work and function and to watch skilled people practice their art. ‘Accept that things come and go.’ Oh yeah, that sounds like Howard for sure. “Accept”. He was always reminding me to accept how people are, to accept what I can’t control, to accept the decisions I make. Which leads, of course to another habit: ‘Make peace with imperfection, yours and others.’ ‘Make peace’ is another way to phrase one of Howard’s mantras: Accept, don’t Expect. 🙂
rock amid pebbles

I think the next 4 are really expanded commentary on the others. ‘Forgive mistakes, big and small’; ‘Show gratitude for good moments and grace for bad ones’; ‘Practice compassion and nurture connections’; ‘Embrace vulnerability by trusting others’. I’d like to think that I have made progress on these over the years. I probably have the most difficulty with forgiving and trusting. Being vulnerable is an uncomfortable feeling. On the other hand you don’t want to be all locked away, because that is suffocating.
red leaves

The 10 habits are ways to practice the 7 guides above. Many of them are ways to “be present”, “stay in the moment”. If you are working a specific project, it’s not that difficult. I imagine most of us can hone in and focus on something we are trying to accomplish. But mindfulness appears to be about staying in the moment and NOT working. And that is very, very difficult for me. My mind is all over the place the minute I try to “relax”. *laughing* I always tell this story about my first yoga class, at one of the local high schools. The first instruction was to stretch out on our mats and relax, and let our minds relax too. Well. Although Ahuva and relax both have 5 letters, other than the ‘a’ there’s not much else they have in common. As I lay there on the floor, I started worrying about my car. Did I lock it, was someone going to break in, what is this relaxing thing anyway, this is boring, what am I supposed to be doing, what am I supposed to be feeling, is everyone else getting this, why am I not getting this. By the time the instructor told us to sit up, I was hyper-ventilating and completely stressed. *grin* I never went back to that class.
tree root with moss

I cheated on completing the Mindfulness session. I marked it complete without doing the 10-15 minute practice. I decided I’d try it at home (even though I am NOT a trained professional). 🙂 I decided to give it a try in the hot tub at night. One of the suggested exercises was to take several deep breaths, counting as you inhale, hold it, exhale. That is something I learned 2 years ago when I re-attempted yoga and I do that when my mind begins spinning downward into the vortex. I thought I’d try a different exercise: Mindful observation. Pick an object and observe it for one minute, noticing color, texture, shape, smell, etc.
white pine needles

There’s not much to touch in the hot tub. (Do NOT go there.) I was going to stare at the trees, but they weren’t offering much inspiration. I decided to close my eyes and LISTEN, not LOOK. That I COULD do. It was lovely. I don’t know what creature produced the sounds I heard. One was definitely crickets or cicadas. I don’t know what the other very interesting insect-sounding noise was. I was able to sit there and let go of everything but the moment. I focused on the sounds, I focused on the water moving against my hand, I ‘tracked’ the plane that flew overhead, I heard more bird/insect noises further way. I noticed my breathing, without trying to control it. It really worked. *smile* I sat there for SEVERAL minutes (I think), simply being. I would open my eyes after a bit, move about, settle down and close my eyes and begin again. I felt relaxed and refreshed after I got out of the tub, and did NOT have difficulty falling asleep afterwards.
spider web

Today at the office I tried another of the suggestions – Notice 5 things in your day that you don’t typically notice. There are probably a lot of things inside the office that I don’t usually notice, but there are also probably very good reasons why I don’t look there. 🙂 I decided to try to focus during a walk – LOOK at things on my walk, feel the sun and wind, smell whatever might be there (and of course hear the pterodactyl yelling from the warehouse next door).
weed with berries

It went surprisingly well. For starters I walked much more slowly than I usually do, and I made a point to look at the plants, the asphalt, the stones and trees. I saw many plants that I don’t usually notice, and noticed the bark on the trees, the pine cones, little seedlings, spider webs. It wasn’t just the noticing. It was the not having anything else churning in my mind. Usually I’m obsessing about what I have to do and what I’m feeling and why am I feeling that way. There was NONE of that. I was moving slowly, focused on seeing, not thinking, feeling the sun and the breeze. The most thinking I did was when I thought about aiming the camera to take a picture to share. It was incredibly restful.
tree bark with fungus

I stayed focused on seeing, feeling, sensing, for easily 25 minutes. Near the end of my walk I realized that I was losing my ability to stay focused on what was in front of me. I’d been thinking about what I needed to write, about curating the photos I’d been taking, wondering if I could escape down the shore one of these days. That was the point when I checked the time and saw I’d been out there for my usual 30 minutes, but nothing about it felt ‘usual’. I hadn’t even realized how much time had passed. In any case, I think there is a lot here that could be useful if I can figure out how to make it work for me. Huh. There may be something TO this mindfulness thing. *smile*
red leaf in grass

A Day at the Beach

IMG_8581Literally. There’s been a lot happening with renovation and personal issues. I’ve started several blogs but have been too crazed to finish and post. The short summary is that I had some minor surgery on Friday – part of the being crazed and then being totally exhausted. My niece, operating from her own POV and life (do other people REALLY have lives that do not center on ME???? 🙂 ) contacted me and her mom (my sister) and suggested a beach day. The Jersey shore is my idea of heaven on earth so I “let” them “twist my arm”. We piled into the convertible and headed down the shore. *grin* Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” blasting from the speakers, passengers singing along loudly:
“Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer”

I said to my sister: We’re being filmed right now. We must be in a movie or a commercial. 🙂

We are spoiled Jersey Girls – we NEVER go down the shore on the weekend – we always take off during the week. view of NY and shipsSo we were astounded at the backup to get into Sandy Hook. It must have been over 30 minutes to go those 2 miles. Of course I did NOT wait there. 🙂 And NO, I did NOT line cut right at the end. I headed south past the exit, found a place to turn around and come back from that direction. Much faster. We found a great parking spot, a great blanket spot. The weather was perfect, the neighbors were orderly, quiet, no cigarettes, no music, no screaming. It was all perfect beach sounds of wind, surf, seagulls, and happy people. Only 2 sounds marred the perfection. The first was a drone but mercifully it only went by twice. NOT a beach sound. The 2nd was the sound of the group next to us with their battery-operated blender (against park rules, btw). But everytime they crushed that ice, omg, I wanted to go over and make friends. 🙂 I’d consider getting one but I don’t want to have to shlepp the ice.

Anyway – I’m sharing my day of healing and escape with you. I don’t have a premium account so I can’t upload the video I made just for you.

Renovation recording will resume.

view from my blanket

Winter Afternoon

snow turning to sleet
warm fire in fireplace
soft kitten in lap

stew cooking on stove
glass of red wine in my hand
staying home – priceless

Victoriana Afternoon

shens-carousel-horse-3Maybe I don’t really want to be a scripter. I know, all I post here lately is how busy I am, how much work I have to get done, how I love scripting. It’s all true, too. Except…. Somehow days have slipped by and I’ve not gotten any work done on my favorite scripting project. I made notes about what the next piece needs to be, but I’ve yet to sit down and actually get anything done on it. I’ve been spending WAY too much time in RL this week. 🙂 Totally getting in the way of living my fantasy life. When I AM inworld, I am co-ordinating the effort for my RL projects.

And apparently I am easily distracted. punting-in-victorianaI logged on this morning to hunt for work-out clothes. Yes, I am fairly determined to buy a treadmill for Ahuva’s Place. I got off my RL treadmill and knew that I needed one inworld too. Except I got lasso’d into tp’ing off to sit on lucky chairs for my Lucky Chair group. I won THREE outfits in a row. I really won 4, but there is NO WAY I will ever use that 4th prize. Ick. Perhaps one of my photographer friends would like that skin for some sort of shot. Ick. So I logged back in this afternoon DETERMINED to script and… got a notice from the Victoriana community that there was a butterfly hunt today. I haven’t hunted butterflies in a long time. I im’d Shen to see if she would be going. We agreed to meet there.

open-sesameWhen I tp’d into Victoriana, Shenlei was there on the most amazing carousel horse. Kudos and acclaim to Michele Hyacinth who gave this horse to Shen as a gift. The horse is amazing and the gift is perfect for Shen and Michele is utterly brilliant. The horse has sound effects and motion. Bright lights on the front. The structure is marvelous – engineering art. LOL. My husband came by, watched the horse rising and falling and pronounced: “Hovercraft”. Okay. How engineer-ish can you get? The horse is beautiful, fantastical, brilliant. I’m totally envious of Shen for having it and for Michele in being so clever to find it.

After snapping picture after picture navigating-under-the-bridgeof the horse, I finally tore myself away to wander about and look for butterflies. I’d not been in this part of Victoriana before. Or if I had, it had been winter and looked different. I ended up at the lake. There was a canoe just waiting there for me. So I climbed aboard and set off. I confess – it took me a moment or two to figure out how to “set off”. I was looking for a menu. Or some AO associated with the paddle. Clicked here, clicked there. Nothing. Saw a butterfly going by and starting playing with the camera and arrows to catch it and – HEY! I was moving! LOL. Too simple for words. The arrow keys made the boat go. 🙂 Nothing like overlooking the obvious.

duck-friendsI paddled about the lake. I steered my way under the railroad bridge, headed farther out. Discovered the drawbridge at the far end. The sign said to click to raise the bridge, so I did. I learned the hard way that the boat and bridge were both fairly solid when I steered the one into the other. I was also slow getting through the opening and the bridge came down on my head. Ouch!!! I re-clicked the sign so I could extricate myself and move on. All the while I was catching butterflies and enjoying the sights of Victoriana. Before I stepped back ashore I hung out with the ducks for a bit. Of course. 🙂 I think I may have to bring Mallory, Drake and Bill over here to visit.

Victoriana is truly a lovely build. I find myself smiling at the buildings and the scenery. There are so many clever little touches to make it more attractive and realistic. I had a fantastic time in Insilico – I want to go back there. But in Insilico I need to be alert, watchful. It’s a much more tense experience. In Victoriana I slow down and smile. I can feel myself relaxing. Paddling about the lake, listening to the water, watching the ducks swimming – all my RL stress and pressure slipped away. I could hear the Victoriana train in the distance, evoking thoughts of trips to friends and fun places. I used to head to Shengri La and the horses when I needed a bit of calm and meditation. I think I may have to add boating on the lake in Victoriana to my list of “relaxing places”. I put all the unedited pictures up on Flickr – you may see something in them that appeals to you that I cropped out for purposes of this blog.

Perhaps now I can get back to scripting. 🙂 Really, I WANT to script. There simply are not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do. *laugh* I guess that’s true for most of us, isn’t it? But even as I type this last paragraph, my front doorbell rings and my RL friends arrive. Ah yes, it’s friends that make my worlds. Scripting will have to wait.

Just a Short Break

I’m working. Really. I am. This is just a short break. See – my scripting notes are in front of me. I have coffee in hand.
just-a-short-break

Recuperating

I’m still too wiped from accumulated lack of sleep last week. After the party and the party after the party and the party that I went to AFTER the party after the party…. well….. I slept for 12 hours. Rolled out of bed finally and into RL where I had a bunch of fun things to do. Didn’t make it back inworld until last night. And was only there maybe an hour! Wow. I bought a new belt. It’s red. 🙂 I like it a lot. Bought it at Bax’s boots. I”m wearing it now. Didn’t you NEED to know that? Then I joined Honour for some blues and dancing at the French Quarter. Von Johin was playing and it was great. Just what I needed to ease back into SL.

So since I’m not doing anything, let me direct you back to Shengri La. I snuck over there last night for a sneak preview on the candy canes (yep, bought candy canes, got some neat jewelry). Undoubtedly there will be another official announcement, but I’m leaking the news here. 🙂 Okay, I’m not really “leaking” it. Shenlei announced all the December happenings already. So get yourself over there for the candy canes! They are stuffed with goodies and cost only L$25 and all of it goes to support CRY America. What kind of goodies? The items include gowns from the old Prim & Proper line, jewelry sets, boots, shoes, handbags and much more.

And go sledding at Aintree Willow.

What else? Feel free to drop by my place and hang out with the ducks. We left the beach towels out for you.
chillin-with-the-ducks


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