Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roller Coasters and Cute Little Grandmothers

Extreme ends of the spectrum in some ways and the caps on my last 24 hours. I rode 4 of the thrill rides at CedarPoint amusement park yesterday before deciding that I really wasn't up for the other 14 on the list. I have always wanted to go to this amusement park specifically because of its roller coaster reputation. Just wish I had done it about 20 years ago when there was less noticeable impact on my body! Screaming like a little kid is still well within my capabilities it turns out. It was a lot of fun and I probably should have ridden as many of the rides as time would have allowed.
On the return flight home today I sat next to the cutest grandmother on her way to visit her 5 year old grandson Adam. She shared that she was surprised that at her age she only had one grandchild and that he was only 5! (I estimated that she was probably about 88-90 years old). She really needed to go potty and was stymied by the fasten seat belt sign that was left on extraordinarily long by the pilot. Then she got locked in the bathroom, although it really wasn't her fault. When she didn't come right back the flight attendant stopped by me and indicated that the bathroom door's lock sometimes sticks. Thank goodness she was paying attention! Poor little old grandma!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday thinking

If only I made to do lists, here is what I would do.

Trim the spieria back to free the patio
Finish putting the cross bars on the pergola so it actually can provide the shade for which it was made

Do some push ups, practicing to achieve the right form

Get down on my hands and knees and scrub the dirt from the crevices of the tile
Touch up the paint chipped on the walls

Putting on my running shoes and run a mile

Vacuum the bugs up from the basement floor and then hose it down 'till it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building'

Take the dog for a walk (he's not a runner)

Figure out how to attach a wall plate for a phone socket to the wall when the hole is bigger than the plate
Call the plumber so she can improve the cold water pressure in the upstairs shower cause, while hot showers are great, scalding showers are grueling

Go get a pedicure

Deadhead the flowers
Clean out the garage
Pull the weeds

Capture the opossum who has stolen EVERY one of the tomatos on my vines this summer

Plan a full week's worth of healthy menus (minus those 4 days when I travel and must eat out)


I don't make lists
only having random thoughts of things I should do

So that the weekend comes and I get up and think How nice...two whole days with absolutely NOTHING to do!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Incorporating Stimulus into the work environment

And I don't mean economic stimulus.

I spent this week in the most invigorating business meetings I have ever attended and what made them so engaging was the use of external stimulus to get people to approach a problem from an entirely different perspective than their natural business tendencies would be. From a project POV, it got us to a place we wouldn't have discovered if we had done things our traditional way, which is really great.

But more importantly, I think I personally grew this week more than in the last year in total. And I've been thinking for the last day about exactly why the activities of this week had such an impact on me. Here is what I came up with:

  • It wasn't death by powerpoint. The 4 days involved live speakers, field trips, arts and crafts type projects and videos. These things not only broke up the days into manageable chunks but caused me to participate at a much higher level than I normally would.
  • I got to use the creative side of my mind for a majority of the day rather than haphazardly. I painted a picture, created a collage, discussed poetry, WROTE poetry, talked in metaphors. Those are activities that I haven't tackled collectively since college. It was completely energizing. I love to paint and haven't picked up a paintbrush in almost a decade. And while I read poetry fairly often, I don't get the chance to discuss it ever and haven't created the time to write it.
  • People were having fun. There were 17 of us from all over the world, sharing experiences and perspectives, laughing with each other, building on each others ideas. It was a fantastic climate.
  • We went on field trips, laid on the floor of a science center, visited an art gallery and wandered through neighborhoods. We didn't just sit in a conference room. We were like children.
  • It made me want to go back to school, learn new things, find a new career. It made me care more about life.
Sometimes things happen or come along at exactly the right point in your life... this week was one of those for me and I am really glad to have been able to be a part of this experience.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Julian Grenfell

I just finished reading Julian Grenfell, one of the Persephone Books and really enjoyed it, even though I think it has the wrong title. It really is less about Julian Grenfell and more about his mother, Ettie Grenfell, although it does all lead up to the understanding of Julian's attitude towards WWI and it does help build a better picture, culturally, of why the British were ill prepared to fight that war.

I had never heard of the Grenfells when I purchased this book and I certainly didn't know anything about the Souls or the culture of the English aristocracy at the turn of the last century. I understood even less about what 'going to war' meant back then.

Here are the things that struck me while reading this book.

1. Ettie Grenfell was a manipulative flirt and was much respected for that. I can't fathom an upper class woman today (2010) who would want to develop a reputation like that, or rather, a professional woman today doing that. But as I learned, the aristocracy back then was all about self gratification and ego. A friend of mine from South Africa once commented to me that the problem with American professional women is that we don't utilize the one asset we have which no man has...our femininity. He was right in that for the last 50 years or more, women here have been 'taught' to act like men, dress like men, and never flaunt their sexuality in the work environment. Now Ettie as a 19th and 20th century aristocrat didn't technically have a work environment, but she certainly had the ear of many powerful and influential men and she completely flaunted her sexuality.
2. Going to war in 1915 was sort of like going to a grand resort. Julian wrote wonderful letters about his first deployment to India...riding his horse, riding to training, riding home from training, riding to luncheon, riding to look good in his tight riding pants. He seemed to even be making fun of the amount of riding he did each day. When he was deployed to Europe to fight near Ypres, he sent for his 3 greyhounds. Imagine today, a soldier in Iran 'sending' for his dogs.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was fascinating to learn about the culture of the aristocracy. Julian Grenfell was a good writer and I liked reading his letters which seemed to poke at the world in which he had grown up.

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