The joy of being a beginner

I’ve been writing for a long time. I still have so much to learn, but some things are getting easier.

Author at work

I did not love being a beginner writer. I declared my major English in college during my first English class because I found it so hard to express my ideas and I wanted to be as articulate as the teacher. I sought out writing in all my jobs and ended with an 18 year career in technical writing, and though I’ve been writing and studying fiction for many years, I consider myself about 30 years old (assuming a 100 year lifetime, hopefully). I still have tons to learn (one of the things I love about writing) but am able to write and edit my stories. (A new novel is in the works!)

I’ve been taking photos for a year now. My blog made me do it! Seriously, I love shooting photos and sharing them with you and really love looking at your photos. Then I wanted to do some art and quickly grew frustrated with all the supplies and mess. Although it is fun and I want to do more.

My husband observed this frustration and mess (he took the above photo), knows I love my computer, and bought me a Wacom Bamboo. The digitizer tablet came with Corel Painting Essentials, which I love. After trying digital painting and drawing, I found myself wanting to return to paper for those things, but really enjoying the auto photo painting.

Horse at the park

I enjoy being a beginner with art.

Piano is something I spend a little time on every day.

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I’m not an absolute beginner, though. I taught myself to read music as a kid and then had lessons. I would say I’m just a tad above beginner. I’m trying to unlearn bad habits and learn the timing carefully in the songs. I find this phase a tad frustrating so I set a modest goal to be able to play 4 songs well by the end of the year. This goal allows me to enjoy the process and not turn it into work.

Since I started skiing so young and grew up on a ski slope, I’m an expert in that realm, though on the bottom level of expert. I am not into extreme skiing and have no desire to improve.

I’m completely happy with my level and skiing for me is just about the joy of nature, the freedom of movement and the satisfying feeling of working my muscles. It’s also about sharing giggles, skiing stories, and good food and grog with friends and family.

With yoga I’m a total beginner. I avoided yoga because I’m stiff and the one time I went to a class everyone was doing amazing things and moving quickly through poses. I couldn’t keep up and it hurt. I hated yoga. But last fall, after getting off a 12 hour flight with an overall stiffness to my body that wouldn’t go away, and finding myself not at all motivated to get back into my weight-lifting routine, really in a state of desperation, I went to a yoga class at my YMCA.

It was called Adaptive Yoga. I figured if the yoga was adapted to people with various physical restrictions, it should work for me! And I stumbled upon an amazing teacher. I started going to all six of her YMCA classes because I love the work (enjoy the journey), want to make progress (a general, wide-open goal), and the classes make me feel well physically and mentally (a constructive, healthy journey). The teacher shares about her yoga journey and encourages us to embrace our own yoga journey while she carefully guides us through various poses.

I enjoy thinking of myself as being at the start of a lifelong journey of working with my muscles, bones, and joints, taking care of them, and increasing my ability to do poses. It should be frustrating to be so stiff. But beginning yoga has really taught me how to pursue an art:

  • Enjoy the journey.
  • Define success as showing up and doing the practice.
  • Have very general goals like regular practice and improvement.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

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  • Make rapid initial progress.
  • Build new neural pathways, which is  good for your brain.
  • Socialize, which is also good for your brain, not to mention your spirit.
  • Cure midlife blues by starting a new journey.

Snow at Squaw Valley

On our first day of skiing, we only did two runs, but it was fun. And a good exercise in getting our equipment organized. It took several hours to find everything! With skiing, it feels crazy, all the stuff you have to put on and carry. But then when you’re on the slope it’s effortless, like flying free as a bird.

I didn’t bring my camera so I borrowed my husband’s Android Phab.  (Half phone, half tablet.) Since I didn’t want to bug him too much I just borrowed it while we were in the Funitel, so these are taken through the scratched up plexiglass. Nonetheless, you’ll get an idea of the snow coverage on the majority of the mountain. There’s much more where they are making snow and the conditions for manmade snow have been perfect. We didn’t hit any rocks on Gold Coast, where we took our first runs of the year. That’s an intermediate (blue) lift at the top of the mountain.

And here’s an exciting news flash. I asked for a new jacket for Christmas so this year you’ll see me in something different. It dawned on me that while wearing the same jacket for 12 years is economical, it makes it difficult to tell the years apart in the photos.

The red is a reflection of hubby’s jacket. I’m hoping for a red one like his or maybe a blue one!

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That is Lake Tahoe between the near and far mountains.20131209_150549 20131209_150533

Sun, ice, and wind, Alpine Meadows, February 5, 2013

Wear late brother’s clothes, too big but cozy feeling:

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Scott Peak in the background

Savor the peaceful resort before opening:

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Write Halong Bay, Vietnam blog post in the lodge:

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while husband joins skiing clinic.

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Gathering of eager students and outstanding ski instructors at the lodge

Pause for mindfulness (see http://vinaire.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/more-on-mindfulness/) in preparation of fully enjoying this little knob.

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See this sweet spot (Beaver Bowl Ridge) and desire it but will have to climb.

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Prepare to hike the ridge, encounter this sign:

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Let’s see, skiing alone, high winds, will be hiking in ski boots on an icy ridge, sign warning of possible death or worse… Turn back.

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The front of the ridge, inbounds, should be good enough.

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Missed upper sweet spot but this looks plenty good. (Lower Beaver Bowl.)

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Back at the lower levels, discover untouched corduroy (skier term for groom lines) on closed Kangaroo lift.

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Lay down tracks.

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Don’t forget to look at Lake Tahoe from top of Wolverine Bowl.

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D-chutes.

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Skier’s left of Wolverine Bowl, off-piste, very tasty.

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Practice mindfulness one more time, while waiting for husband to swap out demo skis. See Scott Peak not just as an imposing mountain but as a complex pattern of rugged, volcanic rock.P1020273

Drive to Reno to pump iron with awesome stepdaughter.

Observe beautiful pregnant woman doing Bulgarian split squats with 50 pounds of weights.

Work on novel until midnight.

Appreciate:

  • Life.
  • Family.
  • Love.
  • Health.

Sleep.

Good for skiing… New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, book review

This book will take 6 months to a year to thoroughly review. Stay tuned for the results.

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What’s to love?

  1. Learn to cook better.
  2. Eat more!  (And take fish oil pills.)
    Final meal
  3. New home-fitness toys.
  4. Bigger, stronger muscles… hopefully! (Check back in 6 months.)
  5. Less cardio.

What’s not to love?

  1. More calories do not come from alcohol.
    “I suspect you don’t need me to tell you that Kahlua and cream won’t make you sleeker.”
    You can have some, though. Red wine is best. We’re talking 4 ounces here, folks. 4. Four.
    4 ounces
    Not every day. Remember all those beers you saw in the skiing-lunch photos???? Not on the plan.
    Then again:
    “You’d think that the people who drink the most would weigh the most, but studies haven’t shown a connection between weight and calories from alcohol. One study showed that the most indulgent drinkers are more active than those who drink less…”
    Interesting. BUT
    “My overall goal is to make sure one special evening doesn’t extend into two or three special evenings in a row. Inevitably, I can feel it on my waistline.”
    Oh heck, we know this already.
  2. More calories in the right ratios means more cooking.
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  3. “More calories” doesn’t refer to chocolate-chip cookies.
  4. If you don’t like to work out, you won’t like this book. But if you do, and you’re a woman, and you’re frustrated about working really hard only to get tiny muscles and a slow metabolism, check this out. I am just beginning but a friend of a friend had fabulous results, and she didn’t even do the eating part.
  5. Getting 30% of your calories from protein is challenging (but kind of fun) and pretty much requires whey powder (not too great tasting, kind of expensive, though Costco has it. Cytosport is a pretty good deal there.)

Note: I have used myfitnesspal.com (MFP) (it’s free) for 18 months. It’s a good foundation with this program so you can eat your own stuff and track whether you are “hitting your macros” (macro nutrients, protein, fat and carbs) instead of following the menu (just use it for ideas). You’ll need to modify the default MFP settings a little to 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, 30 percent protein.

Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Women-Goddess/dp/1583333398