I do wander everywhere

I am a busy person with lots of interests, but I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what makes me the happiest. Walking is up near the top of my list. I love to get out and observe the world, and I enjoy the rhythm of the activity itself. In the last week I’ve seen tiger swallowtail butterflies, an urban garden that was new to me, and a bloom of jellyfish. I saw this and much more because I was outside to see it.

I live in Seattle and have been walking daily, so I tend to walk a lot of urban sidewalks in my quest for miles. I am trying to get in at least 10,000 steps a day so I’ll be able to walk for years to come. I find my activity tracker very helpful because I tend to walk more if I’m getting credit for it. It’s silly because the walk would benefit my body either way, but I walk extra just to see the step count add up. The mind is a tricky place.

I’ve also found another nifty tool to motivate my walk. There are a number of sites around the internet that allow you to virtually hike trails. You add your step counts, and the sites will show you where you are along the path. Some of the sites will even show you pictures of the places you’ve just walked. I’m currently walking a virtual trail in Vermont, and I’m really enjoying the view.

Fun walking sites for you to explore (click on the links to be taken there):

  • Walking for fun: This is the site I’m currently using. I plan to put a banner on the side of my site, and I hope it continues to update my mileage. The site has lots of different trails to walk. I started with a trail around Crater Lake, and I’m now walking the Long Trail in Vermont. I enjoy seeing my statistics add up and getting the little award badges. Free.
  • A virtual walk across the USA: The U.S. government has a site which allows you to walk from the West Coast to the East Coast. I haven’t yet tried it, as I feel like I should only virtually walk one trail at a time, but it looks fun. Free.
  • Walking with Attitude: This site has a lot of challenge maps and looks like it gives out some walking advice. It also has award badges and a social component, but this site isn’t free. It looks interesting, but right now not interesting enough for me to pay for it. Paid.

I’m doing all this walking with the eventual goal of a walking vacation in Yorkshire. This has been a goal of mine since I was small, and I want to be in shape for it when I can save up the money to go. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying the many benefits that walking brings. Perhaps I’ll see you out on the virtual trails.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
278. What makes you happy? How are you including it in your week? Make a plan. If you like walking, consider checking out the sites above.


In which I ramble a bit

Today’s post being a post about poetry, friendship, and cat videos.

It’s all sort of connected, really. It’s been a weird sort of week with lots of things going on. I’m feeling joyful because last week I had a massive toothache, but I got the tooth pulled last Monday and it’s been getting steadily better all week. It’s amazing how much the absence of crushing pain makes one appreciate the normal state of affairs. I’m feeling grateful for a dentist who would work with me. Huzzah!

I’ve been experimenting with poetry. I’ve been writing lots of haiku, which you may know, and I’ve been trying adding some fiction elements to the form, partly as a way to experiment with plotting which feels like my writing kryptonite. I’ve committed to a story in haiku about a train journey. I add to it every day, and so far, so good. If I fail to figure out plot as I go the train will crash. It could happen, but the fact that I post it on a public page has helped me to face some of my demons. If you want to see where it’s going so far, you can check it out here.

I also had a grand time going to the cat video film festival. It was held at the Showbox theater, an enchanting Seattle venue full of faded glamour and elaborate chandeliers. It was also full of people who loved cat videos and we all had a great time. A nice blogger from the UW took my picture and that of my friend, and wrote up a fun article with links to some of the cat videos. The picture got into the slide show in the article. If you decide to take a peek,  I’m the one in the mohawk with the tiger cat ears and my friend is wearing a black kitty mask. It was a fantastic evening.

The film festival also got me thinking about poetry. I’ll lead you with me, and there we’ll stop. My favorite cat video of the night is one I hadn’t seen before. It’s called “Boots and Cats” and it’s an elaborate rhythm poem about two main things. I bet you can guess what they are… It’s amazing that something so simple has such an impact as poetry. I am still pondering it, and would recommend you view the video if you want to see something cool. It’s pretty nifty even if you don’t like either boots or cats.

The week was rich in experience although random in tone. I’m happy to make my own kaleidoscope out of the bits and pieces. What’s your kaleidoscope look like?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
273. Take a few moments to think about your week as a whole. What would you put on your highlights reel? What would you rather leave out? Did you discover anything new?

No sonic screwdriver required

This week geeks all over the world celebrated together as we rejoiced in the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Who. I went to a huge gathering last night at the EMP museum in Seattle and celebrated with other people who love the show. It’s good to commune with your tribe.

I’ve learned so much from the show about living a joyful life, so I thought I’d share some of that today in honor of this milestone. This applies whether or not you watch the show yourself.

  • There is value to be found everywhere. The Doctor once said: “In 900 years of time and space I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” I agree, and I would add that this means that you, too, are important. Never forget this.
  • Don’t give up. Just as in baseball, “it’s not over until it’s over”. There is always time to remedy the most dire situation, and there are always more than two options. You may need to think outside the box, but you can usually find a way.
  • Travel is good. Without a T.A.R.D.I.S. (the flying blue police box) you may not be able to travel through time, but you can always go new places and meet people, and you may have a chance to save the universe. Take it.
  • Bring your sense of humor. There are some essentials one should not do without. The Doctor believes you should always bring a banana to a party (and this is debatable) but you should never leave your sense of humor behind. I have defeated the darkest of foes with this strongest of powers. You’re going to want to have it around.

Here’s hoping the show continues for a long time. I’ll be watching.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
269. What shows or books have inspired you? Take a few moments to think about this question and write down some of the lessons you’ve learned. Extra credit: share a few of these lessons with others, either in the comments or with someone you know.

It’s time for an outing

You there, reading the blog–welcome, I’m pleased to see you. How long have you been sitting at the computer? How long has it been since you’ve been outside? Perhaps it’s time for an outing.

You may not be able to afford something fancy, but it doesn’t have to be much. Go outside and take a deep lungful of the crisp fall air. Breathe in the scent of decaying leaves, pines, and the smell of wood smoke. Take a walk around the block.

If you’ve got time, consider going further afield. Have coffee in a new locale far across town. Wonder whether the fellow with the parrot on his shoulder is a regular or you are perhaps seeing things. You probably do need a little more sleep. I don’t know many who don’t.

If you need a little trip, consider a long bus ride. In Seattle I am spoiled–for very little I can take a ferry across the sound or take a long trip on the light rail down to the airport. I find trains incredibly soothing, and I enjoy the scenery as it passes by.

If you’re a bit more flush, get out of town for a day or two. A fresh perspective can make everything around you seem bright and shiny for weeks to come.

I often work from home, and sometimes I forget these simple truths–I need to leave the house at least once a day. I need to get up from the computer at least once an hour. I deserve a few lungfuls of fresh fall air. So do you, dear reader, so do you.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
266. Stand up and stretch. Leave the house and go exploring for a bit. Breathe deep. How was it for you?

Wherever you go, there you are

It is October. It is fifty degrees here in Seattle, and fall has descended. The leaves have started to change colors and drop, and there is the occasional smell of wood smoke in the air. The coffee shops everywhere are offering pumpkin spice lattes, and as some stores are merchandising for Halloween a tacky few are already on to Christmas. I am enjoying the crisp tang to the air and the rains are becoming more common again.

Fall has always been my favorite season and I really enjoy it although the seasons differ a bit depending where you live. Fall here feels different than a New York autumn like those of my childhood. Minnesota is yet another experience. I wonder if this time of the year brings many discernible differences for someone in a warmer clime like that of Texas. I may never find out as I don’t care for the heat.

I have been thinking about this lately as I try to stay mindful of my surroundings and the passing of the seasons is part of the awareness I cultivate. I’ve also been thinking about seasonal markers because of my haiku practice. I work with a haiku group that often assigns seasonal words for the haiku, but these seasonal words are collected from Japan. Some things remain the same, but many of their festivals and celebrations are different. They don’t have all the same flora and fauna that are in other places.

This year I think I’ll compile some season words that are specific to Seattle. As a transplant, I’m trying to notice what marks the season here. What makes Seattle itself and not somewhere else? I think these are valuable questions to ask, and I’ve noticed more clues since I’ve started wondering. Sometimes answers can only come once questions have been formulated. My brain is buzzing and my hand is up in the air. I’ve got lots to ask.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
264. Start asking some questions about the place where you live. What makes it unique to itself? How does your town and region mark the seasons? Is that different than somewhere else you have lived?

Love the one you’re with

Music speaks to me and I listen. You probably have songs that are deeply meaningful to you. Most of us do. This week one of the ones that has been stuck in my brain is Neil Diamond’s song I am… I said.  I grew up in New York state and I’ve been feeling terribly homesick lately. Neil says: “L.A.’s fine but it ain’t home; New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more.” I feel the same about Seattle. There are certain things I love about it, but it’s just not my native culture. I will always feel like a bit of an outsider here.

I go through this occasionally. I moved to Minnesota for graduate school and then to Seattle. I wanted to experience the country. Seattle is beautiful but it’s very different from the East Coast. Sometimes I find that incredibly frustrating, and I miss a lot of the places I grew up around. I don’t have a lot of money to travel, but I go to visit New York and Minnesota when I can.

I’ll probably never leave Seattle. Although I miss people from back home, and I don’t get to see my family as often as I would like, I have found family here. There are too many people and communities I would hate to leave. It’s a weird confusing feeling, and I’m sure many people go through similar feelings around the places they live.

I am sitting today in my living room typing this and listening to the sounds of the rain. It’s been raining all day. The leaves glisten and the air is fresh. I’m going out later to spend time with one of my best friends. As comedian Steven Wright says: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” Seattle has its frustrations but it has its compensations, too. The weather is lovely today. The weather is lovely a lot of the time. I am reminded of the Zen phrase: “be where you are”. I am in Seattle, and it is good. Here I will turn back to the wisdom of music–if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Some days are easier than others. I am going to enjoy this rainy day and sip my coffee. Life is good.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
261. How do you feel about the place where you live? Are there compromises? Take a moment to think about your environment and how it affects you. For today, try to “be where you are” and “love the one you’re with”.

I’m happy I joined the flock

I’ve resisted the lure of the little blue bird for years. I was not going to tweet. At first it was easy. I heard the rumors–people were simply listing what they ate and when they used the restroom. I wanted no part in that. I am not that self-absorbed. I recently changed my mind and joined the flock. It started slowly with trouble in my neighborhood.

The anarchists started attacking Seattle again, and I was able to find updates through the Seattle police Twitter stream. I didn’t realize this, but you don’t generally have to be on Twitter to read the posts. It was very helpful to see the up-to-the-minute info. I looked around a little. I got intrigued. I also decided I should be on there to promote my businesses and so that I’d have experience if someone wanted me to tweet for them–I do some promotional writing. I took the leap.

I’m actually loving it. I’m getting all kinds of fun tidbits about Shakespeare and other geeky subjects I love by following the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Patrick Stewart, and others. I’m also following a lot of stand-up comedians. Laughter truly is the best medicine. I also love to share helpful information with others, and this gives me a platform (along with my public Facebook page) to share short things in a timely manner. All this is good, but it’s not my favorite part. I am loving Twitter because of the games.

These aren’t your average time-wasting games. If those are on Twitter I haven’t found them and I wouldn’t indulge. I’ve been on Facebook for years and I’ve never had a farm or tried Candy Crush Saga. I know myself too well and I don’t want to spend my time that way. These are word games. Twitter has a number of fun ways to learn new vocabulary and play with words (and play with others who are doing the same). I am having fun and gaining new vocabulary by engaging with altwiculate and artwiculate. Their websites have a daily word with a definition and then people tweet sentences that use them (trying to be clever, if possible).

My favorite game on Twitter is called the Hashtag Game. Hashtags are the little phrases prefaced with a #. You’ve most likely seen them, even if you’ve been avoiding the Twitter as long as I have. The whole point of the game is to make up something clever to say about the subject that they are talking about. These quips get posted at a fast and furious pace. Here’s one of my examples from yesterday: “A week-old turkey dinner inside a bus station locker. #ThingsYouWouldn’tClaim”

I love to play with words. If you make words your friends you’ll be a better writer, and if you’ve got to write something quickly without overthinking it your brain will be primed to spout ideas and vocabulary at a moment’s notice. This is fun, and it’s fun that’s good for me. I get the added benefit of interacting with the other people playing and connecting further with online writing friends. Sometimes my posts are better than others. This is also okay. Writers need to write lots. We need to write well and to write poorly. This is how we learn. This is how we learn to experiment. This is how we have fun. I like fun, don’t you?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
260. Check out the vocabulary and word games on Twitter and play a few on paper even if you aren’t on Twitter yourself. You can see the stream of my posts on my main personal website or follow me @CathyTenzo. If you’re not on Twitter and it seems like fun, give it a try. If you do join or if you’re already on there, leave your info in the comments and I’ll check out your tweets. Even if the whole thing just seems bizarre, it can be fun to explore a foreign culture.