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?

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Snow going

It’s been over a week, and Seattle is still suffering from the snow storm blues. It’s not that the weather has been so extreme here; it’s just that Seattle is ill-equipped to deal with it. I am reminded of the storms I used to endure in all the snowy climates I’ve lived in, and I know this is only temporary, so I’m doing all right. I’m even finding some silver linings. This little weather interlude has really made me appreciate the bus system even more than I already do. Many of the routes I take have been cancelled most of the week, and I’ve been forced to walk everywhere on the slippery sidewalks. The busses are a luxury in comparison. I also truly appreciate the Metro drivers who are still slogging along on the difficult roads. I can’t wait for our lovely rain to come back!

See you tomorrow!

Happy happy joy joy

Happy Holidays to you, wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate. I’ve been tromping around a lot in the last few days, walking through the snow everywhere. I’m enjoying the walks, but I don’t have much choice in it, either. The bus system is having trouble getting around, too. Right now there’s a Metro bus jackknifed onto the sidewalk in front of my apartment. It doesn’t look like anyone got hurt, so it’s just more inconvenience.

Weather is supposed to get better here soon, but until then it’s hard to move around. The posting may be erratic for a few days. I’m planning to spend this holiday evening relaxing, and this weekend I’ll spend some quality time cat sitting one of my favorite felines.

Once again, happy holidays!

Calves of steel

I don’t know where Seattle ranks on the list of the nation’s healthiest cities, but I’m discovering that it’s been good for me, especially in the last year. The city has been sunk in a crazy panic brought on by a little bit of snow and ice, and so lots of the bus routes have been suspended until further notice as Metro waits for conditions to improve. This means that I’ve had to walk even more than usual, and I just walked up eight steep blocks to where I’m sitting. Surprisingly, it just wasn’t that difficult. My calves are used to the inclines because Seattle is laid out like a giant Stairmaster. I thought that was pretty cool.

I also just got a bathroom scale at a white elephant party. I could have traded it away, but I’ve actually been wanting one. The universe makes deliveries at parties, and I was happy to receive the gift. I’d been wanting the scale because I’ve lost some weight since I started going dancing back in February, but since I didn’t have a scale, I had no idea how much I’d lost since my last weigh-in at the doctor’s office. The magic number was thirty-three. I’ve lost thirty-three pounds since I started dancing, all without changing my eating habits or doing anything but having a joyful good time. How cool is that? I need to lose more, but I’m sure that’ll come as I keep dancing.

I think Seattle has been so healthy for me because I love it here. When you love the place you live, it’s even easier to bloom where you’re planted. I’ve also become really focused on using joy as a guidance system, and when I choose my course based on joy, I tend to steer towards healthier things. That’s a lot different than the way I used to do things—I used to use guilt as the strongest bearing in my compass. Guilt just steered me onto the rocks of despair, and once you’re on those rocks, it’s hard to get off. Now that I’ve broken free of that, I’m glad that I’ve landed in Seattle, and joy is likely to keep me here for a good long time.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

214. How does the place you live in contribute to or detract from your health? Also, take a moment to evaluate whether you are steering by joy or guilt. Is this working for you? Why or why not?

The muse on Metro

I met a most unusual lady on the number 10. She as wearing zebra-striped glasses and a swooped zebra print hat. I’d never seen anything like it. She said she’d made it herself, and I think she probably gets a lot of hat orders by showcasing her wares as she travels around town.

She was also wearing the most delightful turquoise arm warmers. When I complimented those she demonstrated how she’d fashioned them from knee-hi socks. We had the nicest conversation, and I applaud her for flaunting her own personal style. Too many people try to blend in when they’d rather be sporting something more exotic.

It’s hard to count years on a woman with such a vibrant personality, but her hair was gray and her skin showed some signs of aging. She told me that she was finally becoming her own person after years of feeling like she had to fit in. I’m glad she gave up on that losing game.

I’d tell you her name and advertise her business, but that might violate her privacy. You’ll have to meet her in your own travels. Even her business cards were non-standard.

Her confessions about gaining sartorial confidence as she aged reminded me of the famous poem that begins When I am old I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.” I disagree with that poem, and the Red Hat Society which celebrates it. Why? I don’t believe in waiting until I get older to wear what I want, and I don’t want to join a group with a regimented dress code in order to express my individuality. It makes no sense to me. When I feel like it I shall wear purple, and a red hat and perhaps a pair of sparkly shoes and shoulder-length gloves. It will depend on my mood, and that changes. Today I’m feeling black and white, with a black fedora. Life is good.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

178. What do you feel like wearing today? Wear it, whatever your age is. It doesn’t have to be a bright color, either. If you revel in earth tones, flaunt your browns and greens. Dress to please yourself, because you’ll be keeping you company all day.

No folding necessary

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the maps we draw inside our own brains. I’ve been driving since I was about eighteen, so I’ve experienced many places I’ve lived as a network of roads. I knew the best route from one place to another based on the loose grid of highways and back streets. I could tell you where all the gas stations were, and which fast-food chains had drive-throughs.

I don’t experience Seattle that way. I gave up my car shortly after moving here. We have great transit, and gas prices had just started to shoot up. It’s hard to find parking. I didn’t feel I needed a car or its hassle. This means that my mental map of Seattle is a bit different. I know the roads where I’ve done extensive walking, but otherwise my town exists as a schematic of bus routes. I know where these routes overlap and how to get from one end of the town to another using the system. I know where to stand out of the rain while I wait for my ride, and which stops are most pleasant. I barely notice the gas stations now, and I haven’t been in one for months. I rarely have occasion to step into a fast-food joint.

I’m starting to understand a bit about how the neighborhoods connect to each other, but that’s only because I frequently look at maps. I try to see the larger picture, to know the layout as a whole. I’m slowly getting that overview. I think I love Seattle more because I have met it at ground level. I know the details that one cannot see from a vehicle window. I know where the cute coffee shops are, and where there might be a dusting of hot pepper flakes in the street because there is a pizza bakery nearby. I know the smells, too. The International district smells like fortune cookies and fish; my neighborhood smells like salt air and coffee. I am glad to have this chance to get to know my town so intimately, because I love it here. Seattle is worth the attention, and I will give it to her. My brain is creating new maps of this place with every new experience I have. They look like lace—how lovely!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

105. What do your internal maps look like? How do they reflect your lifestyle and values? Sketch one of these maps out on a piece of paper. What details get the most attention? How might your perspective differ from someone else’s?

And no flat tires

I live a pedestrian lifestyle, and I do not mean that I’m boring. I chose to give up my car when I moved to Seattle. It’s expensive to own one, it’s not great for the environment and it’s a real hassle to park here. This decision has many consequences, including the fact that I spend some time most days waiting for a bus. I’ve come to enjoy those times.

While I wait I observe what’s going on around me—it gives me a chance to watch the pigeons and listen to the birds. I hear some unusual conversations and see some sleek automobiles. I also spend my wait times practicing dance steps, and sometimes I even start singing. I usually do it quietly if others are around—I don’t want to disturb—or more loudly if by myself. I also sing on my walk home. At that point I don’t care if someone hears—I’m not going to be standing in one place long enough for the music to disrupt anyone.

The bus is actually very convenient. Our system is excellent here, and you can get most places quite easily. I don’t need to get full directions when going to a new place—I just call Metro and they tell me which route to take, where to get off the bus, and which way to walk. It’s simple. I also don’t have to spend a long time trying to find a parking space. No parking tickets—no paying for lodging my car while I’m off having fun. It’s very useful. When I’m done with whatever I’m doing I can also leave from the nearest bus stop—I don’t have to go back to wherever I parked.

Taking the bus is a bit like having a chauffeur. They run frequently, and there are stops close to everything. My driver is always ready to pick me up. I drink very little, so when I drove I either needed a designated driver or I couldn’t have even one beer. The bus drivers are my designated drivers, and they are always ready for me. Best of all, I get to meet some intriguing people, and take in all the sights. I even get to explore new neighborhoods on foot. Sometimes the cheaper option is a lot more fun. I love it when that happens!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

99. Next time you have somewhere to go, try taking the bus. Was it a good experience?