Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Power of Yes

A strange thing happened the other day. Our Thursday fitness class has a new instructor. All the young women seem to be off getting full-time jobs. My personal suspicion is that we slowly wear them out, one by one. Now we have a high spirited, high energy fitness guru that has a very cute little expression. Every once in a while, as she is putting us through the most difficult of paces, she'll say something like "This feels good...doesn't it!!??"...your immediate reaction is to, actually it's killing me!...just as you've finished your thought with your inside voice, the instructor yells out "Just say YES!" She has to be satisfied with the level of participatory responses or she yells louder..."SAY YES!!!!". By now, I can assure you that just about every participant is yelling YES! YES! YES! mostly, for fear of her retaliating and adding on a few more repetitions.

I was thinking, oh this is sort of cheesy, just a strange way of coercing this group, but then, I realized that when I replied out loud "YES!!!", something was happening. I decided the first time that it was my imagination.

Week two. Same time, same place, same instructor, same command "Say YES!" By now, we know that she's not kidding and we're all playing the game. Again, the same reaction, I felt as though I could do more, carry on, smiling, affirming....something was up. Ever the skeptic, I was only going to be convinced if I gave it another weeks trial.

Week three and I'm ready to make an assessment. I can't tell you why, but it works. Try it. Next time you feel like you're going to have a negative thought, or can't take the next step, or don't want to get going...."SAY YES!!!" It works.

Regarding the Jane Fonda photo; thank heavens the workout clothing has changed!

If you're still not convinced.............This is how it worked for a nation!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wave

The Wave

In the end, it was the wave
felled me. High-held, steady,
slender-fingered banner raised
up above those acres of crowds, lifted
as travelers in foreign lands hold up
their open palms to say I come in peace.

In peace preternatural, he walks
out to the throng. Stands there, smiling --
hand, heart, countenance wide open.
Behind the smile, always a seriousness
as he looks at the crowd, at their lives
so close to his life, looks
at his future spread out below him.

And it was how from below, he jogged
up all those steps to all those podiums
knocked together by believers
in far-flung fields and parking lots. How
he danced, loose as Astaire, down
all those stairways lowered from planes,
the planes touching down on runways
across America -- buttoning his cuffs,
waving the wave.

Waving. Not wagging back and forth
little upheld hands that beg for love or favors.
Not grandiose, gesticulating as a pontiff, nor
icy slice – conductor like, both arms
straight out as if to silence on a single note,
all the brass and strings at once.
None of that.

None of anything we have seen before.
Only the reed-slim man from Illinois
who reminds us of how, more than
a century ago, we might have looked upon
another lawyer from Illinois,
his poetry and his calm.

And then there is the poem of Michelle
and Malia and Sasha. Into the enormous light
of victory, they walk out, waving
just as he waves. And it seems that four bright semaphores
are raised on four bright standards, signaling
to North, South, East, West,
America’s exuberant return.

--- Marcia F. Brown

Marcia F. Brown of Cape Elizabeth, ME is the author of The Way Women Walk (Sheltering Pines Press 2006) and Home to Roost, Paintings and Poems of Belfast, Maine with artist Archie Barnes. Her poems and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kelly Kilmer Journal Class

Kelly says: "I constructed a journal using an old hardcover kids'[sic] book that was falling apart. I covered the front with fabric. I sewed new pages in. I will teach the techniques starting February 1st in the online class of what I did to the pages."

I've finally caved. I'm going to do the online class that Martha Brown spoke about in January.

I was intrigued, but I knew that I couldn't pull off a daily exercise until I got my house under control. I am totally fascinated by this idea, and I look forward to getting focused each day with a new technique.

This is the explanation of the course and it looks like you can use all sorts of "stuff" on hand...good way to make some space in the studio!

A Prompt A Day: Online Mixed Media Art Journaling classes for February

Kelly's Blog
All credits Kelly Kilmer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Little Dorrit

Lest anyone thinks I'm watching way too much t.v., these are the things I love most about the box.

Heads Up!

TVO Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9 p.m. [In case you will need to tape this as I will.]

read more about this production The TV trailer won't show, but the details of the cast etc. are great. Something to watch! Finally!!! TV is seeming hopeless to me of late, this too shall change.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If it's Tuesday, it's Ironing Day

If you are thinking that ironing is an odious task, consider yourself lucky that you are likely in your warm abode, possibly watching television or calmly listening to the radio....this might make it a bit more interesting

Who Knew??
Extreme ironing, an adventure sport for people who like laundry. I'd like to know where the irons are plugged in? Cheating, I'd say.
Started over a decade ago by UK knitwear factory worker Phil Shaw, it requires four simple criteria: a man, an iron, an ironing board, and a crazy natural environment that makes people think, holy crap I can't believe he's ironing on that thing! Shaw calls extreme ironing "the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt."
I'm signing the Professor up for the next one :) By the way, he does iron his own shirts, and he's a good swimmer under water....this could be just his thing!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

2009 Year of the Ox

People under the sign of rat are thought to be smart.Year of the Rat –1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032, 2044
Though in people's eyes, the rat is not adorable, and even some Chinese sayings that related to it have almost derogatory meanings, it ranged as the head of the Chinese zodiac. It was recognized as an animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality.

People under the rat sign are usually smart and willing to accumulate wealth and to make efforts to be successful. Throughout their lives, there will be many other people who can bring great fortune to them. Thus despite timidity, most of them are happy and harmonious with others.

Best match: dragon, monkey, ox; Avoid: sheep, horse, rabbit, rooster

find your sign Chinese Zodiac

Credit:shutterstock illustration,Toronto Star

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

If you're not planning on watching the hockey game tonight you may want to tune into WNED at 9 PM for part one, and 10:30 PM for part two of this new adaptation of
Heathcliff and Cathy

Just letting you know, so that you don't miss out on another great classic.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Good Old Hockey Game

The Hockey Song

Date: Saturday, January 24, 2009 TONIGHT!!!
City: Montreal, Quebec
Arena: Bell Centre
NHL All-Star SuperSkills Competition 7 P.M.

Sunday, January 25, 2009
All-Star Game
6:00 P.M.

This is a great article, I wish I had written this........
Submitted for your approval, here are the Top Five Reasons to Watch the National Hockey League's All-Star Weekend:

1. The Skills Competition — I realize it's got some crazy, elongated, sponsor-laden official title now, but no matter what you call it, it's always exhilarating to watch the world's best hockey players putting specific crowd-friendly skills to the test.

If it's the NHL's fastest men attempting to skate a breathtaking lap around the rink in record time or elite snipers taking aim at those foam bull's-eyes placed in the four corners of the net or even a handful of superstars testing their imaginations in the breakaway challenge, I'm always interested to see which man is the current master of a particular hockey skill.

The skills competition in hockey is boiled down to its basic offensive elements — and a reminder that this sport or any sport, is built on a foundation of fundamentals.

Seeing the best of the best employing these building blocks makes the NHL instantly more accessible.

2. Players Without Helmets — While we're on the subject of accessibility, my one impossible dream for the NHL is a return to the days in which the fans could actually see what the players looked like.

The speed and power of today's game prohibits such cranial nudity, but we can get a much-appreciated injection of individuality during the skills competition.

Also, included in my unrequited fantasy is the triumphant return of "hockey hair." In case you haven't noticed, there are way too many short-haired skaters in the modern era. Grow it out and show some personality!

3. Pickup Game Nostalgia — Everyone who's played hockey at some point in their lives has partaken in at least a few pickup games during which defense was a rumor and goaltenders were left for dead.

The All-Star Game allows all of us to witness the world's premier players mimic that all-offense mindset and discard any modicum of back checking conscience.

Think about it: despite the prevalence of defensive systems and the stifling of creativity fostered by over coaching, the most fun you can have playing hockey is when your first thought is the opponent's goal.

That's why we play, isn't it?

4. Fantasy Lines — Apologies to the rotisserie junkies out there, but the real fantasy sports take place during All-Star showcases.

Where else can Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Zdeno Chara, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Evgeni Nabokov, and Tim Thomas be on the same ice sheet?

Throw in the injured likes of Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nicklas Lidstrom and you have enough star power to blind a continent.

5. For Spite — Just like Jerry Seinfeld returning a coat to the store just to throw it in the face of the salesman, good-spirited hockey fans can take in and enjoy the midwinter get-together to prove to the jaded writers and fans that prattle on about how much the All-Star Game stinks that we can think for ourselves.

Standing up for something you're passionate about?

Hockey supporters are experts at that.
Matt Gajtka

Music this week

This week, I've been totally influenced by all that was going on in Washington. I picked up on Dana's vibes from Alexandria, Virginia, and was swept away by all things Obama, the exhilaration of the new regime, and celebrations worldwide. As a result, my production of just about all else was low and I ended up spending a lot of time being influenced by music. Here are some new tunes that I found this week.

Let it Be Me
Ray LaMontagne
if you want to hear Ray Charles LaMontagne's gravelly voice

The Beauty of the Rain
Dar Williams
If you want to listen to a little songbird

Just Like You
For some real blues, this is a MASTER of blues

Winter Song
Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
This is a really sweet video that Irene found. The Hotel Café album has some good tunes on it
All of these selections are available through iTunes. They are .99 cents and I purchased all of them this week. I just love it when I find new music of which I was previously unaware, and some that I just want on my iPod.

Whenever this fabulous oldie comes on in my workout class my step lightens and I am compelled to sing at the top of my lungs...sorry guys :) See if it doesn't get you movin'.
One Fine Day
The Chiffons

This is what surfing this marvelous net has to offer. Thanks to everyone who led me down a new musical path. I hope that you will find something that moves you in each of these pieces.

[Hat Tips: Fi, Irene, and Misty]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Soup of the Day

The other day, the gym ladies decided that it would be a good idea to share a favourite recipe each month. This month's theme is soup. In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, I am posting this delicious soup recipe from an old Milk Calendar. I made this last week and was reminded just how wonderful it is....the addition of sherry makes it absolutely marvelous.

Leek & Mushroom Soup

1/2 cup butter
2 leeks, washed well, white part only, sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon Sherry (or lemon juice)
salt and pepper to taste

In 1/4 cup of butter, saute leeks until tender but not brown. Remove & set aside. In remaining butter, saute mushrooms until soft but not brown. Blend in flour, salt, & cayenne. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Cook, stirring until mixture thickens & comes to a boil. Add leeks, sherry, salt & pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve with thin slices of lemon & a sprinkle of parsley.

There you go Linda! Enjoy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

India gets it right

Photo from AP Photo by Channi Anand

Listen Now - Link to NPR report

Carry a plastic bag in Delhi and you could be imprisoned for five years. Officials in India's capital have decided that the only way to stem the rising tide of poly­thene is to outlaw the plastic shopping bag.

According to the official note, the "use, storage and sale" of plastic bags of any kind or thickness will be banned. The new guideline means that customers, shopkeepers, hoteliers and hospital staff face a 100,000 rupee fine (£1,370) and a possible jail sentence for using non-biodegradable bags.

Delhi has been quietly filling up with plastic bags in recent years as the economy boomed and western-style shopping malls sprang up in the city. There are no reliable figures for bag use but environmentalists say more than 10m a day are used in the capital every day. Not only are the streets littered with them, but polythene takes hundreds of years to decompose and creates demand for oil, which is used to make plastics.

At first the ban will be lightly implemented, giving people time to switch to jute, cotton, recycled-paper and compostable bags.

Newspapers in India quoted city officials as saying that the authorities did not "want people to be harassed and no prosecution will take place immediately; [once they] understand that by using plastic bags they will be in contempt of court, they will start using other material". The first targets in Delhi will be the industrial units that manufacture the plastic bags in the capital, which officials say will be closed down.

Civil servants said that punitive measures were needed after a law prohibiting all but the thinnest plastic bags – no thicker than 0.04mm – was ignored.

Although the government had originally concluded that plastic bags were too cheap and convenient to be disposed of, the authorities appear to have been swayed by environmentalists who pointed out that used bags were clogging drains and so providing breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever. There is evidence that prohibition of plastic bags can work. Countries such as Rwanda, Bhutan and Bangladesh have all had bans enforced.
Randeep Ramesh in,

.........and, in Canada we are going to charge 5 cents a bag. WhooHoo, that'll help! Granted, we don't have sacred cows roaming the streets eating the bags, but I think all bags should be outlawed. If you need one, come to the trunk of my car, I'll give you one of the many I've purchased! Just DO IT PEOPLE!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At Last

What a wonderful day it was yesterday. All inauguration, all day and night. I watched it all. Today the work of hope begins.

One of the more interesting personal attributes the new President of the United States of America has, is that he's a great dancer! Tonight is ballroom-line-dancing. The professor, will be AWOL due to prior commitments, but I wanted to point out to all the male participants that the discussion of men's hips is now OVER. This makes it official. Men can move their hips and a new standard has been set worldwide. This is a clip from an Ellen show, where the then aspiring Presidential candidate showed his moves ........and of course their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. President.

Miss Beyonce outdid herself once again with this rendition of "At Last" made famous by Etta James. I was amazed that the Presidential couple could stand up at this point after such a long day of being upright and parading around. They had some ten parties to attend last evening. Good to be young in this game.

This version of this song is now a classic. At Last indeed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Report

Ah yes, the chubby girl.

As you can see by my entry, week 2 yielded only 1 pound, for a total 4 pound loss. You may think this is going slowly, but the honest truth is that this is including an evening of Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, and Rancher Fries, PLUS the Chocolate cake in a mug. All things considered, I'm astounded that the scales went down and not up.

Speaking of scales. I've been trying to locate the Weight Watcher's scale. I was unsuccessful at my local Shopper's Drug Mart. Upon further research, I found that this scale is made by Conair. I found a Conair, digital scale at WalMart...I know, I know, but the price was right. My old scale is/was a real clunker. The type where you manually set the dial. I just couldn't see the numbers very well anymore. It had a few coloured pointers that you could place in various locations so that you could actually tell which way the hand was moving, but not nearly as clear a read-out as these newer digital scales.
I hope to be able to deduct in .4 of a pound :) It counts, and I'm recording it!

There is no way that I can avoid the after dancing pub night with the chicken wings, so I have calculated through Weight Watcher's that 3 chicken wings = 9 points. Not bad. Wednesdays, I'll be having rice cakes for breakfast and lunch. It's worth the effort. As for the cake.......well, it does the trick when you just have to have a little chocolate. I'll keep making it until the container of hot chocolate is finished. Meanwhile, the Professor is loving this "diet".

I have been very good at attending workout classes 5 days a week. I'm doing a combination of body conditioning, step aerobics and yoga/pilates fusion, plus the ballroom line dancing one evening per week. So far, so good. I'll try and be really good this week, and see how the new scale measures up...or hopefully down.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Gift of a Thistle

A Gift of a Thistle by James Horner from the film Braveheart, performed by Julian Lloyd Webber on the CD Unexpected Songs

The Gift of a Thistle - Julian Lloyd Webber

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dessert in a Mug

At coffee the other day, one of the women mentioned having made a smallish chocolate cake in a mug. Just enough for two people and done so quickly in the microwave. The internet offered up many versions. I used the one with the hot chocolate mix, as I have a tin of such that I need to use up and this way it will go quicker. To see videos and pictures of what this process may involve click on the original recipe links below.

Cake in a Mug in the Microwave

4 Tablespoons flour
9 Tablespoons hot chocolate mix
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons oil
1 pinch of salt
Cooking spray if desired

Spray a little cooking spray into the mug.

Measure out the flour and hot chocolate mix into the mug. Stir.

Crack the egg into the mug. Stir a bit after adding the egg so the cup doesn't overflow.

Add water and oil.

Stir until thoroughly moistened. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the mug with your spoon to avoid any leftover pockets of dry ingredients.

Put the mug in the microwave on high and set the timer for 3 minutes.
As it bakes, a cylinder of cake will start to rise out of the mug.
When done, it will settle back into the mug.

A Little Healthier Version:
Make the cake with whole wheat flour, canola oil and sugar-free, calcium fortified hot chocolate. Plus replace half the oil with applesauce.


or an alternative method that uses CAKE flour and cocoa

4 Tablespoons cake flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Mug Cook 3 minutes in Microwave

Dizzy Dee
Wired How to Wiki

Friday, January 16, 2009

Liberal Moment

The other night the Professor went to our Mississauga-Erindale Liberal Riding Association Annual General Meeting. I desperately wanted to attend, but was unable to make it that evening. The general impression that the Prof. came away with is that we need more young Liberals. I wish we could generate this sort of inspiration in our riding. It is regrettable that the level of participation in our area is dwindling. We are not sure why, but general apathy comes to mind. At one point or another we all let "someone else" do our bidding. This is a very dangerous stance in these times we live in. We need someone to pick up the gauntlet in our area and be able to truly represent our riding in the house of commons.

After the last election, our riding fell to the Conservatives. This apparently is not enough to galvanize the population to action. It would be so wonderful if I could find 250 people and a candidate who could carry this community. Hopeless??????

Hat tip: Sandwalk

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Keep warm

Since you'll likely be spending time indoors in the next few days, you'll have time to reminisce.......
Baby It's Cold Outside

Monday, January 12, 2009

trying to find the right book to read

I am so disappointed lately in the books I've been reading.....not in the writing per se, just that I want to read a happy book, a book that will make me want to savour it, the sort of book that you want to go to bed early just to enjoy.

Lately it seems that the books I have chosen are instructive, but not captivating. I'm not sure if I can stand one more tome on a foreign country and customs that repress women. I don't need to be educated to all the horrible things that go on in the world..I hear enough about that in the news. I just want a total escape to happily ever after.

Please let me know if you have found the perfect read. I am slogging through the piles of books I have in my stash and will set off today with "The Time Traveler's Wife". I, apparently, am the only one on the planet who has not read it, and the movie will be out soon, so I want to get a jump on that. My daughter highly recommends it, but she loves science fiction and fantasy....eeehhh, not so sure. I hope this fits the bill.

I've decided to give my pile of books the old first 50 pages rule. If you read 50 pages and you're not totally engaged and loving the book, you can put it down and start another. This is a good short investment in the time and nothing lost.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Moon is FULL!

Look at that moon! When I was little I used to sing "duets" with my Dad. We did a lot of driving together. We drove from Ottawa to my Grandparent's in Perth, Ontario nearly every weekend. To shorten the hour long trip, we'd sing. I grew up listening to many a song that sounded just like this........

My Dad could 'croon' with the best of them and had the most angelic whistle I've ever heard. This video could be tonight, right in my local park...there is a light snow, and the lights are on over at Woodhurst. We used to skate at an open air rink at McKellar Park in Ottawa every weekend. Memory lane.


I have a problem with ETSY. Most of the wonderful Canadian artists I know have Etsy accounts. The problem is that I have to purchase their wares in American Dollars...ditto EBay accounts. Somehow, I just back off these days. Even when I see something I really like on an American site, I feel stymied by the conversion of funds and the cost of shipping.

I'm wishing that someone would come up with an alternate way of offering the same items for sale right here at home. I understand that Etsy reaches a far wider market...possibly, but I would also be interested to know if there would be an even greater "local" response, if there was a Canadian option.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Buy a Dinosuar

Today's the day you can buy a dinosaur fossil. Maynards, in Vancouver, is auctioning off the complete collection of dinosaur fossils from the Seibu Museum in Tokyo, Japan [Auction Details: Dinosaurs]

The collection includes ...

* Eusthenopteron foordi
* Bothriolepis
* Aspidorhynchus
* Araripichthys castilhoi
* Crinoids
* Tyrannosaurus rex
* Ankylosaur
* Dinosaur eggs
* Stegosaurus
* Edmontosaurus annectens
* Triceratops
* Whiteia
* Platecarpus
* Araucarites mirabilis
* Alethopteris
* ...and More

I think there is potential in this for altered art. Lots of you use those unearthed German dollies that sadly have lost their appendages. This might appeal to you as well! I can just see what Carmi could do with dinosaur eggs. I heard about this as I awoke to my classical music station and immediately wondered if my son could attend and buy a dinosaur for the Professor. I told the Prof that he had to post about this today. He added this comment to the end of his post.......

"Haven't you always wanted a Stegosaurus in your living room? I think I'll bid on the T. rex. It would look great in my office. Do you think my students might be intimidated?"

to which one of his regular readers commented....and this is a classic....

"By the sight of two dinosaurs?"

Love it!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Fitness

I was so happy that Susan left a comment on my blog and reminded me about her daughter's website for fitness.

I have viewed this site and find it most inspiring. After you give all your information, it shows you your BMI (Body Mass Index) and other statistics based on your own personal formula. It creates menus, shopping lists included, and a very balanced exercise program, again, based on your individual input.

I found the menu, which includes recipes to be very easy to cobble together and very sensible. Ditto with the exercise plan.

This site is entirely free and you can use as much or little as you like. I prefer to keep my stats and activities private, but there is even a component that you can join groups if that's what motivates you.

Considering that I'm in the middle of the 10 pound challenge, any little bit of incentive helps and I rather liked this format. See what you think.

Happy trails!

Monday, January 5, 2009

With a Smile on My Face

At some point in time over the weekend, while I was in my 'inert phase', reading newspapers, I came across several articles that made me laugh out loud. I love when that happens. In one particular advice column it was suggested that having a positive attitude and facing the world with a smile on your face will really change not only your own attitude, mood and therefore entire life, but also affect your oncoming viewers in a reciprocal manner.

I decided to try this as an experiment at Ikea.

Ikea on a Sunday is crammed to the hilt with young families, half of whom seem inclined to test out the furniture displays by bouncing on them. After walking up the non-functioning escalator you arrive in the furnished rooms and wend your way around to the bedroom section, where all hell is breaking loose. Children are launching themselves across the aisle from the sofa section onto beds in various room settings, other kids see this and follow suit. Parents are losing not only control, but also their children who are by now following the arrows to quite another section of the store in pursuit of something else to jump on.

When you arrive with your smile on, it is totally unexpected in this bedlam. It sets up such confusion that you can see people thinking you are completely daft. They actually pull their children away and as they are collared there is a great parting of the masses as you waft through to the office department.

I don't know about you, but I always assume that the person I'm browsing with is in ear shot of my conversation. When it happens that they've been diverted, and you carry on (still smiling) in amazement about lap top supports and turn to find it isn't the Professor behind you, but some other unassuming shopper.....they too step back, nodding understanding, in that crazy sort of way.

The only time when my smiling worked was during our shared 20 meatball plate lunch. There is a bird that lives in the dining area of Ikea. This bird even has an official Ikea birdhouse in the open rafters just above a carefully placed cardboard over one of the tables. The bird swoops in and out of the diners and clasps onto the sturdy curtains at once terrifying and amusing patrons. The children all run around...a common theme........and at one point, one woman who for whatever reason was sitting under the bird's nest area, got quite a shock as the sparrow soared right under her nose and landed on the window sill. This was one instance when my smile came in handy and I like to think probably saved Ikea a law suit. When we caught each others eye, and I smiled, she burst into hysterical laughter and we both recounted the event with a lot of gesturing and hand waving. Prior to leaving she discovered the permanent bird house and stopped by our table to have yet another laugh at this extraordinary experience. We both left smiling. The hysterics!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's all about willpower.........

At this time of year I love to read everyone's resolutions, horoscopes, and predictions on life-style for the coming year. The weekend papers had some really clever columns on just this and I could not agree more with Leah McLaren and her take on getting out of bed. Anyone who knows me might think I was ghost writing this article. Tomorrow I'll report on my experiment of facing the world with a smile. In case you missed it, here is Leah's article.

Get up, stay up, don't give up the fight

For as long as I can remember, my day has begun with a moment of indecision.

My first thought upon waking is sensible: "I should get up," I think. "I have things to do."

Which would be great, if it wasn't swiftly followed by "But it's warm in here," "Maybe just five more minutes?" and "I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that sleep makes you smarter, younger and thinner," which is then followed by a half hour or so of pumping the snooze button until the urge to pee trumps the urge to stay in bed and I admit to myself that on this morning - as on so many others - it appears I will have to get up.

And so I get up.

You might put my inability to bounce out of bed at 7 a.m. down to laziness, but I prefer to think of it as a perverse form of intelligence. No, it isn't clever to loll around in bed after the alarm goes off, but it is my habit of over-thinking even the smallest decision that prevents me from doing all the things I say I am going to do in life - a list that includes learning French, contesting my municipal property tax reassessment and getting up on time.

Indecision, I have recently learned, saps willpower. Self-disciplined people do not struggle with questions such as "Should I get up?"

Self-disciplined people simply get up. Like dewy fitness models in Nike ads, they don't think about it. They just do it.

Just ask Jim Rangel, author of the recently published book The Skinny on Willpower: How to Develop Self Discipline.

After 25 years as a real-estate entrepreneur, this former lawyer and Harvard Business School lecturer decided to write a self-help book because he realized that, when it came to successful people, "the common strain was willpower - the ability to get in the game and stay in the game and, when you get knocked down, finding the strength to get back up."

This ability, he concluded, was the veritable "key to success," and "much more important than talent, intellect, good looks or luck." Or as Theodore Roosevelt put it, "With self-discipline, all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem an impossible dream."

Which is too bad for all those stunningly gorgeous, gifted, lazy geniuses out there (among whom I like to count myself as I continue lying in bed).

Apparently life is just like a John Hughes movie and all the hot, popular rich kids are doomed to Champagne-sozzled failure while the plain, awkward nerds who work in record stores will inherit the Earth. Praise be to God. Or Hollywood. Or both.

So why talk of willpower? Well, today is Jan. 3, also known as the annual day when New Year's resolutions start to seem less attractive because, well, they're hard to keep, aren't they? (I think I read somewhere that carbohydrates, cigarettes and wine actually make you younger, smarter and thinner.)

Forget Lent.

Early January, traditionally, is the month when the secular world participates in its annual festival of self-denial, characterized by a brief - but valiant! - attempt at dieting, sobriety, exercise, budgeting and emotional well-being.

This year, however, we sit on the brink of a new era of frugality and the annual January purge must not be a blip, but actually set a new standard of asceticism that we must strive to implement year round.

Put another way: C'mon guys, this time it's for serious.

With this in mind, I have compiled the following cheat sheet for finding the willpower to keep your 2009 New Year's resolutions - assuming you haven't broken them already.

1. Prepare your mind

Steeling your resolve mentally before things get tough is essential to keeping resolutions, Rangel told me.

"That way, when you experience the pain, instead of saying, 'Oh my God,' you say, 'I've been expecting this,' and it becomes part of the process." He adds ominously that, "If the first time you encounter adversity it sets you off, then you're probably not ready to take on the challenge."

2. Create black-and-white rules for yourself

Self-discipline becomes easy once habits are formed. Rangel uses the example of brushing your teeth. When you were a child, the rule was "Brush your teeth before bed."

Now it comes automatically and most of us brush our teeth on autopilot.

3. Preserve your energy for when you need it

Don't waste time and mental energy internally debating over life's trivial decisions - just make a choice and be done with it. Or as William Johnson said, "The more we struggle and debate, the more we reconsider and delay, the less likely we are to act." So don't wait until you feel better to go to the gym. Go to the gym and you will feel better.

4. Practice

In his massive holiday-season bestseller, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the 10,000-hour rule, a neurological theory that it takes 10,000 hours of hard practice to become a world-class expert - at anything. By this standard, if your resolution is to quit smoking, it will take you roughly a year of doing anything but in order to become good at not doing the thing you are trying to avoid.

As for my resolution, things look a bit less hopeful. If practice makes perfect, I should be an expert early riser by the year 2036.

Globe and Mail, January 3, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Early Matinee

In an effort to prepare myself for next weeks onslaught of back to "normal" behaviour, I have been forcing myself to get up early in the morning (whether I need to or not). Yesterday, it dawned on me that one really does best with this attitude if one has a prescribed reason to rise. Since I could think of no such earthly motivation, I was compelled to make one up.

Have you ever been at a movie theatre at 10:15 A.M. ??? Let's just say, the movie started at 10:15 a.m. No, let's say the movie actually started at 10:30 a.m. and there was the obligatory 15 minutes of advertising and trailers to begin with. Why, you say, did you not just arrive 15 minutes after the published start time? Think about this. I was totally stymied as to what in the world this experience was going to hold for us. By now, you realize that I'm not doing this on my own, rather I've conscripted the Professor. He's a reliable sort who functions pretty well prior to what I deem the civilized hour of 10 a.m. I knew I could count on him, and his sheer size, should we have to delve through crowds and fend off melees at the popcorn counter.

That was one of my biggest queries. Would people eat popcorn at 10:15 a.m? Who would actually be there? How many theatre goers would show up? Here it is, a Friday morning....when I'm usually in the gym and following up with a coffee at Tim's with my peeps, feeling a bit like I'm skipping school, and I get "caught" by one of the women who normally works at the front desk at the gym! No one was more surprised than she was to see ME there, after all I was AWOL. In total there were 13 hardy souls in attendance. One couple had a large popcorn, the Professor had a diet coke and one intrepid fellow had his own tea and goody bag. Questions answered it was time for the film.

I'm not sure why "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" has gotten all the hype it has garnered. I found it very slow, long and rather dark....perhaps it was because of the early hour. There is something about our body clocks that may compel us to wake up in light and proceed in light. I know this is the case for me. I could never work the night shift, although most nights lately, I may as well be doing something useful during wakeful hours, as opposed to trying to quiet my mind and body.

Obviously the physical theatre was dark, but the movie itself is dark in character as well as cinematography. New Orleans during Katrina....dark. The subject matter, odd and dark. The circumstances, unusually dark. Don't get me wrong. I think Cate Blanchett did an amazing job, Brad Pitt was Brad Pitt pretty boy in the end. The makeup people surely get applause, but over all, I think the reaction of the "crowd" was "eeehhh". Lots of shoulder shrugging and "eeehhh". Not bad, but "eeehhh". That's my review, both of the movie and the morning matinee experience. The price is right, especially if you're a "senior" and at AMC that's 55. The coffee afterward is greatly appreciated and then you stand there looking at each other saying "Now what??" "Eeehhh"!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Lord Alfred Tennyson