Sunday, August 23, 2015

A LITTLE BIT OF FITBIT

Well, it's all the rage, huh?  Do you have one?   The wrist computer gadget that gives a continuous readout of time of day, number of steps walked, stairs climbed, current heart rate, miles walked, and calories burned?

If you also access Fitbit.com and the mobile app all of this info is automatically downloaded and calculated, along with the option of entering items consumed in a really terrific food log and voila!  You know all about your calorie consumption, calories burned, etc etc.  You can set a weight loss goal if that's your thing and even decide how long you want to work toward it -- fast, medium, or slow.   Check it all day long on your computer or smart phone!

There is even an option for connecting with Fitbit friends to share info on your progress and urge each other along.  AND if you wear it overnight it will tell you how long you slept, how often you woke up, and how many times you were restless.  I know...a bit scary, huh?

I don't do the sleep part because I like to sleep without anything strapped to me or hanging on me -- no jewelry and certainly no computer!

But during the day, my purple Fitbit is my new best friend.  It's oddly motivating to get that immediate feedback.  Fitbit emails me "badges" if I accomplish some pre-determined feat of excellence.  I pay little attention to them, but it is sort of fun to get an "atta girl" for my efforts.


Fitbit has decided that 10,000 steps is the daily goal.  I don't always make it, but I find myself not worrying about having to make extra trips up and down stairs or out to the garden or down the driveway to pick up the newspaper, because I know I'm getting more "steps and stairs" in.

The first time I got to 10,000 steps I was sort of freaked out.  I had no idea my Fitbit would throw a little party on my wrist for this accomplishment.  I was being neighborly and had walked across the street to gather up a few days' newspapers still on the sidewalk leading up to front door.  They were on vacation.   I got almost to their property line when my Fitbit began to vibrate like crazy for a few seconds.  I stopped dead in my tracks!

I thought I'd triggered an "Invisible Fence" system used to keep dogs in the yard.  We used to have one.  It would cause the dog collar to vibrate in warning that if our pup went another 4 feet, he'd get an unpleasant "correction" (mild shock -- I tried it on my hand to test it out -- unpleasant, not excrutiating).   Anyway, I thought, "Yikes!  I cannot go onto their sidewalk...I'm gonna get zapped!"

Then I glanced at my Fitbit and noted I had just made it to an even 10,000 steps.  Oh!  It's congratulating me!  Sure enough, now I know when I get the vibration, I won't get zapped -- it's a good thing, not a punishment!

There are quirks to it, though.  Another time I knew for a fact that I had not walked enough to get to 10,000 steps yet, that night in the middle of a musical performance I was attending, I got the vibration.  I realized most of my "steps" had been my wrist moving as I clapped along with the music!  Another time I was scooting around on my bottom pulling weeds in the garden for a few hours apparently in just the right sort of motion to be registering 10,000 steps.  So, now when I know I'll get a false reading, I just take it off.  But sometimes that stops the accumulation of data and when I put it back on it starts over from zero.  I like to keep my documentation accurate, so this annoys me.  I also suspect that pushing a stroller or carrying my granddaughter around is causing my arm to be stationary while my feet are moving, which then doesn't register as steps.  Friends have told me to put it on my ankle or tie it to my shoe.  Haven't tried that yet.

But in spite of a few little annoyances like those, I still love it.  And I'm absolutely amazed that something like this exists.  I LOVE being alive and moderately able to interact with basic technological advances.  I get frustrated when I don't understand the finer points nor am I nearly as intuitively tuned in as my grown sons and even my six year old granddaughter around tech stuff, but I am so grateful for the access to, and the fun of, some of these gadgets.

Just checking -- I'm at 8 flights of stairs today -- I can easily make 20 by bedtime.  But my step count is way low -- too much reading and computer time!  Better get a move on!

At least, that's the view from here...©


Sunday, August 16, 2015

STEPPING BACK

Oh me, Oh my.  I do not like conflict.  But sometimes it's unavoidable and then I'm not afraid to face it head on.  It takes me awhile and I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, then I just get to a point where I feel I've done all I can do and have nothing to lose by falling into the fray.  I feel both liberation and loss when that happens.  Because I know for me something's gotta change.

I love my Unitarian Universalist church, but it hasn't felt very church-y to me for awhile.  I've been in some form of leadership position there for a very long time, active and visible and trying to help create a growing, thriving, welcoming place of personal refuge, spiritual growth, and targeted activism.  My focus has been on organizational structure and transition over the past few years.  There is a joke amongst UUs that trying to move that group in one direction is like herding cats.  We are an independent, anti-authoritarian crowd who rely on the democratic process in decision-making, but are not above a good protest when outcomes don't agree with our way of thinking.

I feel like we've had one controversy after another over the past couple of years and we are currently embroiled in a brouhaha that is slipping into way, way too much of my personal life.  Its tentacles are reaching beyond the actual "issue" and now even the response to the original issue is becoming the problem.  People are choosing up sides and I can't take it anymore.  Well, I don't want to.

A couple of weeks ago, when all of this sort of came to a head for me, I was visiting friends at their new beach house and one evening our conversation centered around our spiritual practices and what we want in a spiritual home.  It revealed to me that most of my actual spiritual practices have little to do with Sunday morning worship.  Meditation, yoga, writing, and my current addiction to the Outlander book series (HAHA) don't happen in the confines of my church.  It gave me pause.

Then, the following night we explored this statement: "If you don't know where you want to be in five years, you are already there", meaning, of course, that without a goal/plan/dream, nothing will change.

We each talked about our personal goals for the near future, which led us to realizing that if we are not already living toward that goal, living already each day in service to our dream, we are missing the mark.  No magic wand will wave and put us in our own personal Nirvana in five years' time.  I won't magically be in terrific cardiac health in five years if I don't get on the treadmill today.   Whatever the goal, it starts now.

We talked about what actions and activities touch our "essence" -- those moments when we are what is called, "in the flow", when chronological time seems to disappear and we enter "soul time", lost in pure joy and spirit.  For some it happens when listening to, singing or playing music, for others when painting, or gardening, or running, or hiking.  For me, again, I am lost in my Yoga practice, meditation, and writing; also when gathered in fun and laughter with close friends and family, and I would add lately when doing crafts with my granddaughter.  No church building or committee or controversy over policies, politics, or personalities required.

This past week I resigned from an important leadership group at my church and have declared I will not accept any leadership position in the foreseeable future beyond continuing to facilitate the WISE  group for women over 60 years old, which I've done for five years.  This is not a tantrum.  I'm not party to or personally involved in the current controversy.  I have an opinion, but it's not public.  It's just that in my capacity of leadership I was being drawn into the quagmire, losing sleep, dealing with side issues and seeing some people I have admired and some I have called friends behaving with surprisingly questionable wisdom and appallingly questionable outrage.

Going back to the beach house conversations, it was clear that this church stuff was dramatically impacting my ability to have opportunities to be "in the flow" -- to make choices about how to spend my time and energy, touching my essence.   In five years' time I'll be nearly 70 years old.  I know how fast five years flies by; how fast a lifetime flies by.

I recalled Mary Oliver's brilliant poem, "The Summer Day" and its stunning closing words:
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


I thought about my "one wild and precious life" and how much of it I've spent fulfilling commitments.  I took my concerns about "bailing on my commitment" at church into meditation; some would call it prayer.  My decision became crystal clear:  I will waste not one more sleepless night on policies and procedures, conflict and controversy not of my own making or of my personal responsibility.  I love my church; I love my community there.  But my sense of personal integrity around honoring a commitment I made to be on that committee felt like a burden -- and an obstacle to following my heart.  I was out of integrity with myself and if I didn't stop this pattern, nothing would be different in five years' time.


Stepping back is not stepping out, but it is stepping into a new way of being with a church and a community that has been central to my life for 23 years.  Liberation and loss.  Yes, that about sums it up on this sunny Sunday morning as I sit at my writing desk...in the flow, if not in the pew.

At least, that's the view from here....©