600 Days to 60: An Update

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Several months ago, I began keeping track of how many days it would be until by 60th birthday. I wanted a way to really pay attention to my life–my goals, my intentions, what I wanted in the big picture. I see 60 as a big milestone, and I wanted to use the time leading up to it to accomplish things that could be celebrated at my 60th birthday party. Yes, I’m planning a party.¬† ūüôā

 

It was back on September 25, 2013 that I posted my first mention of 600 Days to 60. Here are a few excerpts from that post.

Several months back, I discovered a blog, 400 Days to 40. Even though I found the blog rather late in her 400 days, it got me to thinking that I might like to try something similar for my next milestone. So I calculated (and recalculated) to find the magical day on which I would launch my new blog, 600 days to 60.

In the end, I decided not to launch a new blog. After several months of maintaining a pretty good schedule with Container Chronicles, I started posting less and less. By September, (when it was time to launch), there was no reason to start a new blog, but just incorporate the idea into my current blog. Back to the original post:

I’ve decided that I’m not looking at this 600 days to 60 as a count-down, but rather a count-up! I want to think of these next 600 days as a journey to find the best version of me there is to find. It will be a process of excavation and checking the foundation, and finding new ways to create and decorate. It will be a time of new keywords and of intentions that challenge and revitalize me. A time of decluttering, revisioning, and finding clarity. My intention is that this journey allows me to find what is important and discard the rest as I move forward toward a life full of vibrant possibility.

Well, parts of that have gone ok, but there is a long way to go. I want to refocus my attention on the original hopes I had for such a project. Over the next few days, I am going to review the posts that highlight the tracking I have done. And reconsider and restate the specific activities that I want to participate in during the remaining days until the celebration. 

The moment is now. 600 days to 60!

It may not be as poetic, but the moment again is NOW!

281 days to 60!

 

 

A Moment in Time: Logan’s Birthday

I’d like to start with a shout-out to Randee at A String of Pearls. She is the one who got¬†me thinking about these specific moments in time. She would randomly select a moment in time and post it on her blog for others to notice. If you chose to participate, you would¬†be aware of the moment when it arrived and then share your written reflection on what happened.¬†I’ve participated a few times, and my daughter gave it a mention¬†in one of her posts–a moment that she otherwise would not have noticed in the same way. As she prepares for a blog pertaining to time, she thought about focusing on a specific moment in time.

So I plan to join my daughter at Sincerely Kate Mr. Loganat 1:23 pm on 1/23/14, as we notice what happens at that particular moment on Logan’s 3rd birthday. The moment will arrive for me in Taiwan a full 13 hours before it arrives for Kate and Logan in Michigan (the Eastern Time Zone in the US).

The other thing that will make this special for me is I will be on an overnight trip when the moment arrives. Because other people are planning our activities, I have absolutely no idea what we’ll be doing at that moment in time, adding to the adventure of the reflection. This is only the second time that Dave and I have been away overnight since being in Taiwan. The last time was last year at this time when we attended a wedding in northern Taiwan. This time we are headed to southern Taiwan–a must-see destination for visitors to Taiwan, but somewhere we have not yet been. We will board a train tomorrow morning at 8:11 to make the 4-hour trip. We will be greeted at the train station by one of my former students and her father. We will later meet up with another student from our university and will spend most of our time with them. It will be interesting because the parents of the second student don’t speak English. But they have graciously invited us to stay at their home. It will be a great adventure.

So, there you have it. Although Randee has decided to part with this concept, Kate and I are going to do it one last time¬†in honor of Logan’s birthday. If you’d like to participate, feel free to join in and link back¬†so we can see what you were doing at this moment in time: 1:23 pm on 1/23/2014. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go. You may be surprised.

A Coffee Date with Plate Spinner: Our Follow-up Conversation

This is Part 2 of an inner dialogue between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that can’t seem to stop doing all the time. If you missed Part I of this “conversation,” you can find it here.

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platesME:  Would you like a cup of coffee?

P.S.: I’d love one! I can’t remember the last time I could take a break and just relax for a few minutes. Nice choice of music by the way.

ME: Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said yesterday, and I realize things need to change.

P.S. I’d like to jump up and down for joy, but I can’t. First, I don’t really have the energy with all the spinning I’ve been doing. And second, forgive me, but I’m just a tad cynical about you changing your ways.

ME: I know I don’t have a good track record. But I really do get it. I can prove it. I totally resisted an interesting plate earlier today.

P.S.: Yeah, but that’s nothing compared to the moratorium you took on last year, and that only lasted a few months before you started collecting plates again. Granted, some of them were smaller plates, but they still require lots of attention to keep them spinning.

ME:¬† OK, you’re right. Just a minute while I link the moratorium stuff here. Some of the people listening to our conversation won’t know what we’re talking about.

P.S.: I’m sure they will be as amused by it as I was.

ME: Oh, come on! Seriously, I want to make things better between us. But your attitude is getting in the way.

P.S.: All I know is that we are currently on semester break, and we can’t take a real break. We have so many plates still spinning that we have to fill these days with to-do lists and projects. I mean, look what it took just to get your attention so that we can have a cup of coffee and talk about this stuff.

ME: But if you’re going to argue with every idea I have, how can anything get better. I really want to change.

P.S.:¬† OK, I’ll play along for a moment. How is this time going to be any different from all the other times you said you would change? Are you going to retire a few of these plates?

ME: I think I could make a plan for that.

P.S.: Oh, great! Isn’t THAT encouraging? When you make plans for something, the plan itself becomes another plate to spin. Do you even know how many plates you have in the rotation?

ME: Of course . . . . not. Ok, ok, you make another valid point. But I realized something else this morning. As I was explaining my decision to Avis this morning not to take her up on the quilting thing, I told her that one of my big problems is that I think things will only take a few minutes, and that I can manage that . . . . .

P.S.: You mean that you figure I can manage another one of your shiny plates.

ME:  Well, yeah, . . . .  when you put it that way. And then of course, it finally dawned on me, that those few minutes multiplied by the number of plates and projects just makes things impossibly tiring!

P.S.: I’d like to believe you’ve seen the light, but you can’t blame me if I’m still a little skeptical. Do you realize that if we were just going to store these plates–never mind spinning them, we would need more cabinets than will fit into this apartment?

ME: OUCH! Don’t you think that’s a slight exaggeration?

P.S.: Sorry, truth hurts!

ME: OK, so a moratorium must be re-established and maintained. That’s obvious.

P.S.: It might be a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not enough to make a real difference in the here and now.

ME: Well, you don’t want me to just sort and reorganize. You yourself said that would just be another project added to the huge pile we already had–the pile that I just accumulated without really thinking about the consequences.

P.S.: Look at it this way. I’m willing to accept as a starting premise that most of the plates need to be brought to completion. And I will also–for the moment–attempt to believe you won’t add any new ones.

ME:¬† I hear a “but . . .”

P.S.: I demand better working conditions! Have you looked around? It’s a disaster area around here. All of these plates have paperwork and paraphernalia attached to them. It’s a miracle I haven’t broken my neck!

ME: Well, I can’t argue with that. I find myself overwhelmed by all the clutter around here. I sometimes gather up the stuff I need for a project or two and head for the coffee shop just to have space to think and work.

P.S.: But that’s my point. YOU can leave! I can’t! It would take a moving van and a crew of at least four for me to go anywhere and still keep all of this going.

ME: Yes, the stuff has to go. That is clear. I don’t really need it all. Even with all of these crazy plates, there is still stuff here that has nothing to do with the plates that need to be finished. And I have to be honest. If stuff doesn’t go with any of the over-abundance of plates, it doesn’t belong.

P.S.: Right, and don’t forget. You’re planning to leave this place in 18 months. Couldn’t we have some breathing space while we wind down this spinning production?

ME: You’re totally right. Time to tackle this de-cluttering thing, once and for all!

P.S.: I know it’s a major change for you, but we can’t simply have all of this stuff. We can’t continue to DO all of this stuff.

ME: Well, why don’t I make an intention to de-clutter the apartment?

P.S.: I’d be more inclined to believe it if you make an intention card.*

ME:¬† You’re on! Let’s do this!

P.S.: OK, so what do you want?

ME: It seems pretty obvious. I want . . . we want more time and space in this life we share.

P.S.: And why do you want it?

ME: To get you off my back, of course!

P.S.: Very funny! Somehow, I don’t think that will motivate you in the long run. If you’re serious, you need to figure out what the payoff will be when this place is de-cluttered. What will you get?

ME: Well, just thinking about the place being de-cluttered helped me feel relaxed a bit. I don’t feel as stressed or as trapped. If I focus my attention on this intention and persevere in spite of the obstacles, I can enjoy life more. I can enjoy people more. I can be more, instead of simply doing more. I can discover what it is I really want from life, rather than spending all our energy on this plate spinning thing. The idea of not having to spend all of our energy just treading water is very freeing.

P.S.: OK, it seems like you might really want this. Of course, this is a huge project. So we have to be realistic.

ME:¬† Right. I need Intention, Attention, and Perseverance. I’m not crazy enough to say that I’ll do the whole apartment in the next two weeks. I want to work on it a bit every day, maybe even twice a day.

P.S.: Right, but don’t set yourself up. Let’s make an intention that is do-able, that gives us breathing space. If you do more than the minimum, that’s fine, but let’s make sure we find a workable minimum an commit to that.

ME:¬† I know. I just get excited about the possibility of space. But I didn’t get into this mess overnight, it’s not going away overnight or even in several overnights. I’d like to think I can make some strong headway by summer though.

P.S.: OK, let’s start with an hour three times a week.

ME:  OK, that seems reasonable. And I will schedule three times in the calendar right now. I will write it in for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

P.S.: That sounds good, too. What else can you do to keep your attention on the intention?

ME: I’ll ask Dave to either help me, or to at least check in on me. I could find another person to check in with, too. Maybe even find someone else who is trying to de-clutter. We can check in and keep each other on track.

P.S.: And now, how will you reward yourself when you stay on track? And even more important, what will you do when things get in the way of following through? You need a plan for perseverance because you KNOW something will happen to pull you off track at some point.

ME: Oh yeah, I remember when I started the exercise program. If I hadn’t had a plan for perseverance, I wouldn’t have made it through the first two weeks.

PS: Right! and now you’re already in your third month. So what will you do to keep perseverance going for this intention?

ME: I think I would like to have some quilting time on Sunday for a reward. And if I haven’t met the goal of de-cluttering time for the week, I could do some on Sunday.

P.S.: I think this might just work.

Taiwan 047ME:¬† I’ll think some more on it, and refine the intention card a bit. And while I’m at it, I’ll write an intention card for restarting the moratorium. I obviously need some attention and perseverance when it comes to that intention as well.

P.S.: Excellent! I feel better already. I’m really glad we had this little chat.

ME:  Haha!  Me, too. I think that might be another way to stay on track. Checking in with you on occasion.

P.S.: Put on the coffee and send the invite! I’ll be there!

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*For information on making and following through on intentions, see the following:

INTENTION IS POWERFUL:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/17/intention-is-powerful/

ATTENTION IS ESSENTIAL:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/19/attention-is-essential/

PERSEVERANCE IS MAGIC:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/21/perseverance-is-magic/

Spinning Plates: An Inner Dialogue

Here is the first part of a conversation between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that tries to manage the multitude of projects and ideas I take on in spite of myself.

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ME:    Hi, Spinner. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

P.S.:¬†¬† No time for chatting. If you want to talk about something significant, make it quick. I’m very busy. No time for small talk.

ME:¬†¬† Well, I don’t want to intrude. If you don’t want to talk to me . . .

P.S.: Seriously? If I didn’t have all these plates to keep spinning, maybe I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with you, but that’s not the reality.

ME: I see: Why do you spin so much? Do you enjoy it?

P.S. Ha! It’s been a long time since I enjoyed it. It’s become nothing but a burden. It’s not whether or not I like it: it’s what I do.

ME: That’s the problem. You’re always doing.

P.S: Well, if I stop, all of these plates will fall. That wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

ME: Maybe not, but sometimes I get exhausted just watching you. Don’t you ever relax?

P.S.: No time. If it’s relaxation you want, turn it into a project, paint it on a plate. Then we can talk. Well, actually, I can’t really talk much, but I can add it to the other plates.

ME: Sometimes you can be so frustrating. Don’t you want a little time for fun, for friendship, for just exploring new things without it all being so frantic?

P.S.: What are you talking about? What would I do if I wasn’t spinning these plates? More importantly, how would all of these important things get done?

ME: Maybe they’re not as important as you think.

P.S.: Really! Aren’t you the one adding all these plates to the pile?

ME: Hey! I thought I was the one one asking the questions.

P.S.: Just because you keep me too busy for questions most all of the time doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

ME: O.K. I guess that makes sense. I don’t like it, but I can’t really argue with you. There might be some truth to it. I’ll go out on a limb here. Do you want to ask a question?

P.S.: Damn right, I do! But first, I’m going to put all of these plates down for a few minutes. Unless you’re brave enough to tell me to just let go of them all.

ME: I might like to be that brave, but I have to admit, I like most of those plates.

P.S.: No you don’t. I think they’re just a poor substitute for what you really want to be doing. You’re keeping me and yourself busy with all of this stuff. We barely have a¬†moment to think.¬†And besides,¬†this stuff isn’t satisfying to either one of us.

ME: What do you mean? I find a lot of satisfaction in these activities.

P.S.: Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. When is the last time you actually were satisfied with something you were doing? You don’t even give yourself a minute when something is done before you’ve moved on to the next thing, or the next dozen things. I work for you, remember? I can’t stop spinning these plates, because you won’t stop spinning. OK, give me a minute to put all these plates down for a few minutes.

(You can see the process in this video.)

P.S.: There! That feels better. Do you hear that?

ME:¬† Hear what? I don’t hear anything.

P.S.: Precisely! That’s my point. No whirring from the constant spinning of plates, no frantic footfalls as I run from one pole to another to keep all the plates in the air.

ME: Wow! I guess things really have gotten out of hand.

P.S.: When I came to work for you, I didn’t realize there would be all of this overtime. I didn’t realize that we would be spending so much time in the immediate moment keeping all of this crap in the air so that we’d never have time to work on the bigger dreams. I mean I do like spinning–and juggling for that matter–but you’ve taken all the joy out of it.

ME:¬† Wow! I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize how miserable I’ve made things for you. What can I do?

P.S.: Well, for starters, you can stop grabbing every new plate that comes along. And then when I do finish with a plate, you could consider just leaving that space open. Give me some breathing space. Give us a chance to step back on occasion and see the big picture.

ME: I hear what you are saying, but sometimes I can’t help myself. The colors, the textures, the patterns, the . . .

P.S.: Cut the crap! One of these days, I’m just going to drop the lot of them! I’ll walk off the job!

ME: Oh, please don’t do that!

P.S.: Why not? What do these plates really represent?

ME: Well, I never really thought about it that way before. But since you ask, I guess they represent me. After all, who am I without all of this activity to define me? Who will notice me if I don’t do all of these things?

P.S.: Really? You’re going to turn this into an identity crisis? Isn’t that a little too convenient?

ME: I’m feeling threatened, insecure. And I’m definitely not sure what to do next. You’re making sense, but I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know where to start.

P.S.: Oh, I think you do. You didn’t get into this mess overnight, and you’re not going to dig out of it in a day, or even a week, but seriously, I think digging out is right where you need to start.

ME: You’re right. And I need to get intentional about it.

P.S.: Now I’m beginning to feel like you’re listening to me and like there is hope. I really need to get back to all of these plates. But if you’ll back off a bit, maybe we can meet tomorrow and map out this intention thing.

ME: You’ve got it. You’re really good at what you do, but I want you to feel like you’re using those skills for better things than just juggling all of my unexamined stuff. We’ll talk tomorrow!

P.S.: Great!  See you then!

(TO BE CONTINUED!)

 

 

11:21 a.m. on 1/4/14

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Eve

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve

As the new year begins, I am doing a lot of reflection and planning for what I want to pursue. But I won’t be making resolutions. I’m not out to resolve things.¬†I am out to live more fully and to embrace my goals and dreams for the future. Part of that involves really discovering what it is I want in life. And I intend to do some explorations in many areas of my life to refine what it is I want. I’ve started making lists, and I’m excited about the possibilities. You’ll be reading about some of them in my blog over the next few weeks, but at 11:21 this morning, I had just revealed one of my fun intensions to a friend, and now I’m going to share it with you.

At 11:21 this morning, I was talking on Skype with my friend Joycelyn of Farther to Go! fame. She and I have been friends for forty years and have been through a lot together. For the last few years, while I’ve been in Taiwan, we try to reserve this time every week to catch up, and to support each other in our respective endeavors.¬†I knew when we started our conversation that the specified moment would arrive sometime during our conversation..

Joycelyn and I were¬†having an interesting discussion about our respective fitness programs and how we were feeling differently because of what we were doing. We realized in the discussion that most people talk about going to the gym as a goal, when that’s not really the goal. It’s the means TO a goal, such as feeling better, getting stronger, getting in shape, or other possibilities. But at this time of year, people set a GOAL of going to the gym as if going to the gym in itself is something we really want. No wonder fitness goals often fall by the wayside. There is no real desire and motivation behind them, except maybe prodding from a doctor or loved one, or guilt, or some other negativity that we’re convinced we can (re)solve if we just have enough will power. Right!

There was much more to the conversation, but we began sharing some of the things we wanted for ourselves in the new year, and at 11:21, I had just finished telling Joycelyn about a challenge I have given myself for the year. Something I’m excited about. Something that will keep me jazzed and move me toward a goal I have had for a while, but was having trouble getting there.

So here’s the background. I live in Taiwan. This is my fifth year here, yet I know very little Chinese. I know enough Chinese to be somewhat entertaining to the natives, but that’s it. To be fair, I’m so busy with teaching, editing, and textbook writing, that I don’t have a lot of time for language study. And I did make a real effort before arriving, but learned the wrong accent, so even my minimal phrases I learned before I came weren’t too helpful. I’ve tried working with a few students who wanted to teach me some Chinese, but that never worked very well.

But one of the students from the new writing group is double majoring in English and in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language. She and I are setting up biweekly lessons for me. Just enough to give me a bit of language without it being too overwhelming. (She is one of the puzzle solvers in the picture above. She’s on the right.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, now here’s another piece about me you may not know. I use to be a music director for a church. I’m a keyboardist, choir director, and vocalist. Though I don’t do a lot of singing anymore, and never did much karaoke in the past, it seems like a fun way to spend a little time with students. The students tell me that most of the English songs at the karaoke places are “old.” They obviously forget who they’re talking to. I can do “old” songs.

But a couple of days ago, I realized that if I had the Romanized Chinese words and a YouTube video, I could learn a song in Chinese! It would give me an extra motivation for my language study, and satisfy the urge I have to sing. I can go with a group of students and do some singing in both languages. I am psyched!

I emailed the young lady in the picture above and told her of my plan, and she’s already sent me a couple of videos and the Romanized Chinese for both of them. Now I just have to talk to my new tutor and tell her of my crazy plan, but I know she’ll be as excited about it as I am.

And at a future moment in time, I will be singing a song in Chinese. And the plan is to record it and share it in a blog post. Stay tuned!¬† I’ll keep you posted!

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A Moment in Time is a shared blogging experience, where writers document and share their stories from the same moment on the same day. The day and time for the next A Moment in Time is posted by Randee every few days in such a way that you’ll have a heads up on the exact moment to which you need to attend and focus on and, if it’s significant in some way, write about and add to the list.

http://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/a-moment-in-time-1121-a-m-on-1414/

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I’m also participating in Just Jot it January *JusJoJan.” You just jot something everyday, even if it doesn’t always result in a blog post. Maybe several days’ jottings end up in one post. Lots of possibilities. Check it out here:

http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/jusjojan-1-the-rules-are-easy/

3-Word Resolution

Intentions carried forward

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TrifectaPicture11-1This week I’m¬†trying my hand at¬†Trifecta‚Äôs writing prompt:

Michael Hess inspired us with his three word New Year‚Äôs resolution ‚Äď just be nice.¬† We‚Äôre asking for your own resolutions in just three words.¬† Make it count; we‚Äôll be checking back in come 2015.

The Trifecta challenge is open to all.  If you want to submit your own response, click on the Tricycle image to check out the challenge and submit your link.

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During the past year, I’ve come to understand the power of intention in place of resolution and willpower.¬†In this new year, I will focus¬†my attention on¬†my selected intentions and on making a contingency plan for persevering when life interferes.¬†Thanks to¬†http://farthertogo.com, I’ve discovered¬†this¬†powerful combination that inspired¬†my 3-word resolution.

502 days to 60.

New Year, New Beginnings (Music Theme for December 31)

Like any year, 2013 has had its ups and downs. At the moment, it seems the scale is tipped in the direction of down, but that’s just my current story. And in the end, it doesn’t matter, because 2014 is really coming. I can say good-bye to 2013 and embrace the possibilities of 2014.

Sometimes, it seems we put a little too much stock in the new year, hoping that some magical “reset” button is going to make things better. But I know there is nothing magical about it. I also know that much of what will happen in the new year is beyond my control. But my attitudes about it are in my control. And my intentions for the new year are in my control. So, I will focus on building a set of intentions (not resolutions) for 2014. Watch this space for more!¬† ūüôā

In the meantime, here are some of the songs that I take into the new year with me. Thanks to Collaborator for her assistance in finding these songs that I will use to inspire me, motivate me, and keep me keeping on when it seems difficult to do so. According to one of them, I have five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in 2014. My first intention is to make the most of those minutes.

Still Got Tonight (Matthew Morrison)

Taking Chances (Glee)

Seasons of Love (Rent)

At the Beginning (Anastasia)

 

I Know Where I’ve Been (Hairspray)

Closing Time (Semisonic)

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Check out our other themists:

WILLOW:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/new-musical-theme-the-new-year-all-this-old-and-new-2/

EVA: http://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/

BEAR: http://bearspawprint.wordpress.com/

JOHNNY: http://johnnyojanpera.wordpress.com/

COLLABORATOR: http://sincerelykaterz.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/out-with-the-old/

Gumption: Keyword for Winter

A couple of thank yous are in order.

To Joycelyn at http://farthertogo.com for getting me into this whole seasonal keyword thing (and a multitude of other helpful ideas and processes).

To Steph at http://stephsscribe.com/2011/09/08/lessons-from-the-holiday-and-james-cameron-be-the-leading-lady-of-your-life-and-find-some-gumption/¬†for her post that inspired this season’s new keyword. As Steph writes,

There are a lot of lessons in ‚ÄúThe Holiday.‚ÄĚ Two of them go hand-in-hand: (1) ‚Äúbe the leading lady of your own life‚ÄĚ and (2) start by having some ‚Äúgumption.‚ÄĚ We need to speak up for ourselves when things don‚Äôt go how we want them to go; we need to tell someone when they‚Äôre hurting us; we need to fight for what we believe in and deserve.

Too many times in 2013, I was the best friend in so many situations, and I relinquished¬†the role of leading lady in my own life. So my seasonal keyword will be gumption,¬†with this movie clip at hand as my¬†cue to remember. I will focus on embracing the shades of gumption and live my life more fully, more inline with the role I’m intended to play. I have a few ideas about what this might mean, and I will be exploring them here in the days ahead. Thanks for joining me in this journey.

What would you choose for your seasonal keyword?

Check out¬†my previous¬†keywords below, along with the link to Steph’s post about The Holiday.

505 days until 60

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Related articles:

http://stephsscribe.com/2011/09/08/lessons-from-the-holiday-and-james-cameron-be-the-leading-lady-of-your-life-and-find-some-gumption/

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/keywords-power-containers/

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/another-season-another-keyword/

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/keyword-is-it-that-time-again/

Good News: Perseverance Does Pay Off

Physical Fitness

(Photo credit: Justin Liew)

Last week, I had to postpone a trip to check out Curves (fitness center for women) because I fell and hurt my knee, the same one that had received a total knee replacement in January 2011. Since I had declared Perseverance for my seasonal keyword, I wrote last week about how it was already being tested.

Well, I’m happy to report that just one week later, I made it to Curves. The doctor had told me I could go as soon as I felt comfortable enough. And as long as I don’t push too much with that leg for a while, it should be fine. So tonight, Karen and I went so I could check it out, and it was great! The staff was friendly and helpful. The owner met with me (as he speaks English) and made a special arrangement¬†so I can try it for two months to make sure that it works out for me before making a longer commitment. It’s my intention to continue. I have made lots of provisions to make it happen and not leave it to chance.

For example, I’ve already told my taxi driver that on Mondays and Wednesdays when she picks me up from school, I’ll be going downtown to exercise. She knows that’s where I’m going, so if I change the plan she’ll know.¬†On those evenings, I’ll take the bus home. On Friday, I’ll take the bus both ways, but I’ll go for their 11:30 opening time. As a reward for going all three days, Friday is my day to visit downtown Taoyuan coffee shops to have a latte and explore new locations to have some paperwork sessions. If I miss one, I just go to the next one and keep it going.

Tonight, I was able to manage all but two of the machines. A third one is somewhat troublesome at the moment (only because I can’t get in and out of it quickly enough to keep up), so we’ve eliminated those three stations for now. But the rest of it is doable, and I went through them all twice. I like my trainer, Kimmie, and even though she thinks her English is poor, I think we are going to be just fine together. After the cool down stretches, Karen and I headed out for vegetarian dinner, and I took a taxi home. I am so glad Karen was there to help me communicate through the process of getting everything set up and to give Kimmie a sense of confidence about working with me. She actually told Karen that I seem easy to work with.¬†I guess she’ll get to know me better.¬† ūüėČ

My two-month trial actually starts on Monday, rather than¬†tomorrow (Friday),¬†to give my knee just a couple more days to heal from last week’s fall. I have to say though, even for the first night, not pushing all the way, I felt good for having done it. And maybe it’s just the regular course of healing, but I definitely felt better this morning. I was able to do more walking without the cane, and I have less pain. I’m looking forward to Monday, and doing it all again.

The Little Quilt That Could

First 5 blocks

(Photo credit: Purple Panda Quilts)

Over the summer, I made it my intention to get back into quilting. I could start right with my daughter’s quilt,¬† a project for which I’ve been collecting fabric for several years.¬†But I had decided that the best way to tackle that project was to practice the quilt-as-you-go process which¬†allows you to put the batting and the quilting stitches in while you’re putting the block together. That way, the project is worked in sections, and then the pre-quilted sections are all joined together in the final step. So before I started my daughter’s quilt, I wanted to find a small project, an interesting block or two that I could practice the technique on and then move on to the larger project.

When I came to this conclusion, I was still in the US, with my return to Taiwan only a few weeks away.¬†I took aadvantage of that time¬†to look at patterns, browse a few quilting books, and visit a couple of quilt shops in anticipation of my return to quilting. I was looking for just the right small project for my practice work. I didn’t know what it would be, but I was sure I’d know it when I saw it.

August_09_CoffeeMug_largeWell, it showed up in a rather routine place. I have a subscription to a quilt of the block day email. Usually three or four times a month, something comes that I actually save to my design software. Other times, I barely give them a second glance. For example,¬†if¬†the block is¬†some version of a flower, a boat, a lighthouse, or a basket, you can be pretty sure that I’ll just delete the email.) But on August 9th, a great block featuring a coffee cup was the Block of the Day. As many people know, coffee is one of the things I love almost as much as quilting. I was excited.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an interesting turn of events, someone expressed an interest in the coffee cup project, and it has grown into a bigger project. The awesome part is that not only will I get some practice with this process, but one of my quilts will eventually hang on display in a coffee shop in Taiwan. I’ll tell you more about that another time, but today, I want to show you how this coffee mug block has turned into a plan for a quilt with 3 rows of 5 blocks. When it’s finished, it will look something like this.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe coffee mugs themselves will all be made of different fabrics. But the rest of the quilt will be made with the fabrics below. You should note that the light green squares in the picture above will be replaced by the lavender fabric (although it looks a little blue in the picture).

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are interested in seeing the fabrics that are being planned for the eight coffee mugs that will be in this wall hanging, here they are!

Good news! We have a four-day weekend coming up, and I am going to use one of those days for quilting. I plan to do a lot of cutting and organizing, and with any luck, start piecing things together. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready, and all the things on my to-do list will wait, while I have a day of quilting. I will post pictures as this project takes shape.

 

592 days to 60!