Monday, December 19, 2011
Is this time of year so different from any other? We still go to work. We still take care of daily chores. But there is an excitement, an expectation. Some of us work hard to damp that expectation down, seeking to avoid the disappointment of hopes unfulfilled. Some of us battle feelings of sadness that our own life isn't "more", somehow. But not everyone!
Yesterday I went to visit my sister in law, the one with ALS. I went bearing a plate of the cookies my son helped bake on Saturday, a gift to the household, which includes her daughter in law and two grand-daughters... all of them left behind by my nephew's passing last February.
What did I find in my visit? A home full of love and caring. A home full of positives and hope. Because she tires easily I don’t stay long. We talked of the things we can be grateful for: that she has family living with her, to help her. We talked of the amazing technology that allows her to text and have it give me a synthetic voice phone call, of the fancier camera technology that will read her eye movements and allow her to type (she doesn’t have that yet, she can still type). We expressed gratitude that she has a window she can look out on the world. That she still has *some* mobility and functionality.
We spoke of hope: that the pharmaceutical trial she’s a part of will result in slowing down or stopping the progress of the disease, and she will be able to adjust to a “new normal”, knowing what she can do, and finding new ways to do common things. She wishes she could be more active, and she wants to find a level of activity she *can* live with and be as healthy as she can for as long as she can.
There were some tears, too, when we spoke of her son, and what a good father he had been to his beautiful little girls. They are growing up so fast. I sat with them for a bit while the visiting priest ministered to my sister in law.
I had done my own workout at the gym before our visit. After the visit I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and allowed myself to go calendar shopping. I love motivational calendars, and am so disappointed that Spark didn’t offer a page a day one this year. Fortunately, I kept some of my favorite Spark Calendar pages to recycle!
And as I reflected on my day, I came to the gentle awareness that yes, this is what Christmas is about... the love and appreciation we bear to one another. Christmas is about hope and love.
May these joys fill your home, whether you celebrate the arrival of the Christ child, the Winter Solstice and the growing return of light to the world, any other religious event or nothing at all. If I have one wish for the world it is for gratitude, hope, comfort and love to permeate hearts and minds everywhere.
Or, to put in in the old-fashioned way: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
When I was a kid (oh, no, there she goes again) the gifts we got at Christmas time were essentially things we needed anyway, just wrapped up. New undies (my one and only shot at day-of-the-week undies came as a wrapped package on Christmas... tmi, I know, I think I was 8 or 10 at the time). PJ's. Slippers. Gloves. That sort of thing.
Well, these days, I don't have a lot of people in my life (like parents, say) who know what I need. And I don't know what other people need, even the people I care about. So it's hard to replicate the Christmasses of my youth, at least in terms of gifts that mean something special. I guess the meaning (for me) was that a true gift was simply our needs were being met. Every time I think about the gifts of the middle years, when nobody knew what anybody really needed, I feel a little hollow and let down: the year I got a bracelet from mom that broke when I first put it on. The clothing that didn't fit my burgeoning girth (which of course I hid from the family because I lived 1200 miles away and could!)
As I come upon the gift-giving season, I feel relieved that most of my family is now Jewish, or Buddhist, or Atheist, or whatever and I don't have to think to the level of "what does this person need or like?" Because to me, a gift that they didn't want (or need)... isn't much of a gift at all.
Several years back, instead of giving gifts, I went to making donations to charities. As for Christmas shopping? I did mine last night. Under the tree for me? New undies and socks. And some running tights. From my personal Santa to me.
For those of you who are waiting for the running report from yesterday: felt good running outdoors on a great day with my son. I slowed him down (a little over 10 minute miles). He kept me going (the full 3.4 miles). Win-win! Then he came over to my place post-showers and errands and we baked the Christmas cookies - full of sugar and butter and flour... and I sent the bulk home with him, reserving a plateful to take to my sister in law and a small sample to take to work. None left for me... YES! Now, that's a gift.
The best gift of all? Time together.
Life's good, Spark on!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Funny, when you are used to exercising, your body DEMANDS it. I started feeling this demand for activity on the way to work yesterday morning. I have held off exercise this week, other than my break walks because I had things that needed doing "in real life"... and it lost out first to overtime, then to grocery shopping and prescription pickup, and last night to anticipation.
The anticipation is of jogging with my son. He IM'd me last night and as we were setting up the appointment to bake cookies today he mentioned he figured he'd make me jog first. Smart Sergeant Son! This is actually a good plan and strategy to avoid overindulging in the cookies we make afterward. I might take one or two, but chances are good I'll be too endorphined up from the run to want to undo the good I've done.
Anyway, I know he'll track performance, and I'm looking forward to that. Testing myself against his GPS tracker for time and distance.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, full of conscious choices and good feelings. Life is good. Spark on!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I tend to wear rose colored glasses. Especially when thinking about how much I can accomplish in a day, week or month! And of course in thinking that my programming code will work great in test! I call that part "programmer optimism". You try your own suite of test cases on it, but then it enters the real test phase where the business users try different sets of scenarios on it. And some of them are very creative about how they set up their test cases. (MobyCarp is rolling on the floor at this point, his e-mail tag line in action.)
In any case this is a "shoulda seen it coming" scenario. My code entered system test last Thursday. Guaranteed the next month is going to involve some justified overtime as the creativity is exercised (not to mention late breaking requirements changes). So that's the peek into the non-Spark life... that slops over into Spark. Everyone has analogous things in their non-Spark life!
So... my ambitious athletic training plan? Juxtaposed against three things: dark and cold, overtime, and holidays. Balance is vital! I can't NOT do the OT. In this case it's needed, people are depending on my getting my bit done so they can get theirs done.
I have my line in the sand, though. I *shall* continue to take my 10 to 15 minute walking breaks. I may not make it to the gym as often. But if I'm on track with the food and I get these walk breaks in, I can get through December and January... and pick up the training plan when things calm down a bit.
And maybe I back off the training performance expectations a shade. After all, the goal is to be healthy, not to injure myself. And NOT to outdo my baby brother. Because that's impossible when he sets his mind to it as a competition!
So, here's to healthy, balanced, nurtured Holidays, surving Winter and work variances... because life is good. Spark on!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Nutcracker is on the soundtrack this morning. I'm sipping my post-breakfast, pre-work mug of coffee (Mistletoe Mocha, in honor of the season). Taking just a few minutes to reflect on life and how good it is can be just what the Sparkler ordered!
Yesterday I dontated blood over my lunch hour. I had forgotten about the appointment until Friday coming home to my answering machine message. I checked the calendar and found it was the same time as the office "Christmas dinner" potluck. Well, that coincidence resulted in my avoiding a whole temptation meal. And it was successful, to boot. Second time in a row.
And in the evening, I had a call from my work-sponsored "health / lifestyle coach"... part of the "wellness" program. While I bragged a bit about my triathlon and half-marathon goals, I also owned up to the struggles I've been having with sugary/fatty treats... nay, with staying away from the ingredients I brought into the house to make those treats. While no amount of talking can guarantee action, some good strategies can come out of such a conversation.
This upcoming weekend my son is supposed to be coming over to monitor the baking of the Christmas cookies, and after that is done, the leftover ingredients that are NOT part of my *normal* larder supplies are going to disappear from my house. Immediately. Despite my frugal nature that tells me how wasteful that is. Better wasted than waisted, to use a tired old pun.
So this morning, positive feelings, purpose, and checking weather: high today supposed to be 50! Wow. That's incredible for this time of year. It's raining. Not snowing. Of course it will freeze overnight, but we shall deal with THAT tomorrow!
For now, life's moving forward. And that is good. Spark on, my friends!
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