Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I N V E R T

My new obsession is inversion. I love hanging upside down, particularly off the Cadillac at the pilates studio, and especially when I can fully release and stretch the TFL and iliopsoas. Hip pain be gone! Adding the abdominal work (the curls) from an inverted, released position is also phenomenal: "grippy hips" get in the way of engaging the abdominals in many upright positions.

I have a decline bench at home which, when I pull it from behind the guest bed, introduces this idea somewhat effectively. I also hang from the fuzzy straps, as mentioned, and am on the precipice of ordering some gravity boots, though I'm not sure I actually can use them on my pull-up bar at home due to a space limitation between top of the bar and door frame. So, of course, I've begun monkeying with my gymnastic training rings and actually hung from them for a brief period last night with my knees flexed. Not the safest thing to do with only your Jack Russell waiting down below (to lick your face, of course, once you're completely inverted), but not to worry, I'm a trained professional and don't take unsafe risks. Plus, I totally had my iPhone down there in case I needed to call out a MayDay.

I am doing somewhat OK on my goal for December. Water has been my most successful area, with cardio and sleeping earlier running about 30% below expectation. Always room to improve but hey, acceptance is the first step to recovery, right?


Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kinderpunsch

I guess 2005 was the year I began contributing to my family's highly orchestrated Christmas celebration in my own "seat." I had the idea to make a really big batch of sangria, which was enhanced greatly by the homegrown lemons my aunt's tree produces in its semi-protected and highly-nitrous location ... the former chicken coop. Needless to say, Sangria Christmas was an instant hit. Warmed by the wood stove on my parents' enclosed porch, it was an ideal catalyst for sharing tales and fond memories. Last year I introduced Bourbon Milk Punch on Christmas Eve. But instead of hearing those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too, MSJ, my brother's girlfriend and I were singing AC/DC over the fabulous crawfish bread she'd made. And that was only 1/2 way into one highball. And for the record, one is all we had!

This year, I'm introducing Kinderpunsch.

I had a small fete last weekend and thought I'd have a go with an adapted version. It was a big hit, and I have a little left in my refrigerator that I may warm up this weekend. I augmented to make it appropriately "adult," and did so under the auspices of being pleasantly relaxed and content, not Back In Black. I used Rhine wine (white) because a.) it was really cheap and b.) it sounded German.

I'm including the standard recipe below, and will just comment on my adaptation here. Using my conversion app on my iPhone (best.thing.ever for this child left behind), I doubled the recipe, using 3 cups apple juice and 3 cups wine. It was perfect, easy, and very, very Christmas-y without the toxic backlash.

Ingredients

    * 1 cup water
    * 2/3 cup white sugar
    * 2 pinches ground cloves
    * 1 cinnamon stick
    * 3 cups apple juice
    * 1 lemon, sliced

Directions

   1. In a 3 quart saucepan, bring water, sugar, cloves and cinnamon to boil.
   2. Stir in juice and heat through. Do not boil. Take spices out and pour over lemon slices in serving bowl. Serve warm.

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Transitions


I quite enjoy the moments I'm able to bridge ambition and anxiety with action. In my experience these are the moments when we are capable of change and growth because they combine the critical component of self-motivation with a baseline of confidence which, in turn, allows us to take a risk.

Sometimes these moments, for me, can be as abstract as vacuuming the baseboards or as concrete as expressing an emotional feeling or need, but the more I practice the objective process of investing energy in the litany of items I deem important, the more I am rewarded with a sense of contentment. Whether or not the outcome meets the expectation I had when I contributed the input, there's applied learning to be recognized and honored, and I think that adds dimension to my person.

Often I see things that are beautiful and wish I could capture the moment in a photograph. And surprisingly (to me, at least) there are times when I'm selfish about those moments and choose to file the snapshot mentally. My iPhone has actually made it much easier for me to retain inspirational moments. I snapped this picture on the river the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I love the amber light of late afternoon and the slick surface of the river.

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tail Mail Female


One of the most complicated challenges to an abstract right-brain like mine can be - depending on the day and how many mimosas you had the day prior - solving any sort of mechanical/functional dilemma.

And thus begins my tale of Christmas tree lights and how, at the end of an amazing decorating journey I realized nothing would remedy an ill-executed stringing gaffe except completely removing all ornaments and lights and re-stringing.

It all began with my angel tree-topper, oh she of Glenda The Witch Of The North inspiration who apparently has a dual-adapter under her form (she's versatile, it would seem), allowing her to be plugged into the regular light string and, at show time, ensuring her role as the star. What I didn't realize was that my first string of lights, the white bubble LED string, has only a female end and a male end. I strung male at the top (makes sense to me) and female at the bottom, then added another string of big beaded multi-colored LED lights, added all of my ornaments and then decided to give it a test run.

That's when I realized no amount of adapters or careful replugging would allow my female end at the bottom of the tree to plug into the wall outlet and so, at 9:00 p.m., I resolved myself to the fact that I'd have to strip and represent. It's OK though. I did a 6-foot tree this year which works perfectly on the table in front of my river-facing picture window. It's not available in pre-lighted (at least not for $20 like I paid for this version!) and while I could've been bitter about it, I chose to view it as a positive opportunity to decorate not once but twice in a single holiday season.

I am doing OK on my goal/inspiration list. Water? Check. Sleep? Halfway there. Cardio? Eh. But I did watch "Meet Me In St. Louis" last night with friends: it wasn't filmed in the 1930's (40's) but it's close enough and I also accepted an invitation to see Lady Gaga in New Orleans with some super-cool homeys on December 27.

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

30 Something, Expanded

As mentioned on Monday, I am adding dimension to December in a program I call 30 over 30. What can I do in 30 minutes over 30 days to make a difference in my life? Initially I conceived it as a way to combat the New Year Resolutions that are certain to begin popping up toward the end of the month. I don't know why they bother me so much: I think it's the added pressure of agreeing to something you know you may not achieve, or may not want to achieve. I believe it's possible to integrate a new behavior by consciously practicing it for 30 days, and I think there's a sense of fun and adventure in making a pact with yourself to improve whether it's gaining a new skill or knowledge, or eradicating that which is self-destructive.

I personally am committing to 30 minutes of cardio activity each day, drinking 30% more water each day, and going to bed 30 minutes earlier each day. At a surface level, these goals are pretty self-involved. Everything I'm doing seems to be focused exclusively on my health and well-being. The older I've gotten and the more people have come to depend on me, the more I realize this is actually a responsibility not only to myself, but also to others. Affecting change and attempting to contribute to make my community, and hopefully my world, better is important to me. As I continue to observe myself and others, I am disappointed by the deflective thoughts and subsequent non-actions to which we are all privy: "I don't have enough time," "Nothing I say matters," or "I really just don't care." It's a bubble of self-absorption that must be burst. It is the "Me" mentality that has contributed so greatly to the economic peril we have experienced the past 2 years, the deplorable state of our environment, and quite possibly the ultimate demise of our species and planet.

Is there a time and place to bask in the glow of friendship and benefit from complete mental and emotional decompression? Absolutely. Life is about balance. And maybe that's where I'm finding myself and seeing patterns in others - out of balance and tipping to the ineffective side. That can be changed. Step 1 is recognizing the need. Step 2 is figuring out how.

All too often we set goals which we cannot achieve. And it's an established fact that setting achievable goals - and achieving them - will strengthen our internal mechanism to continue improving and accomplishing. Categorically speaking, I think everyone in America probably has 30 minutes a day for 30 days to do something that will improve themselves and have a positive, sustainable impact on those around them. I challenged myself to write a list of 30 ideas and thought I'd share them here. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.


  1. Review your priority list daily. Spend 30 minutes at the start of each day organizing your list of priorities and adapt behaviors that allow you to accomplish them.
  2. Breathe deeply 30 times each day (break into 10 breath sessions - 10 at 8 a.m., 10 at noon, and 10 at 5 p.m. if you want). Thanks Ethan!
  3. Do 30 push-ups per day, maintaining a perfect plank position (You can also spread these over the course of the day).
  4. Study a topic of personal interest for 30 minutes each day: It could be the Bible or other spiritual reference, world news and hot media stories, etc.
  5. Send one personal email (or post card) daily to a person who means something to you. Reference something endearing in 30 words or less. (e.g. "I saw a field of clover yesterday and thought of the time we found the 4-leaf when we were children. It made me smile and I wanted to share.")
  6. Write freestyle for 30 minutes.
  7. Read anything for 30 minutes.
  8. Acknowledge, authentically, one person at your office each day.
  9. Say something nice to yourself at least once each day.
  10. Make a $30 donation to a non-profit organization you believe in. Learn what $30 per month can do to assist others.
  11. Review your regular grocery lists and expenses and challenge yourself to reduce the weekly cost by 30%. Send 30% of that reduction to a world hunger organization. Do the same for your petroleum usage and send the savings to a conservation organization.
  12. Look at a world atlas and pinpoint/prioritize 30 countries you'd like to visit. It doesn't have to even be a country you really want to visit - just do 30 and list a reason why.
  13. Purge your hard drive by 30% over the course of a month. Retain critical data on memory sticks and external drives.
  14. Relax for 30 minutes. Do nothing. Just relax and enjoy your life.
  15. Watch a famous movie you've never seen from the 1930's.
  16. Increase the time you spend smiling and laughing by 30%. Recognize if you're grumpy or gloomy and realize you're the only person who can fix it - maybe you choose a fond memory each day, or you recollect your happiest memory each day.
  17. Say the name of the people you love out loud as you drive along.
  18. Assess and inventory your wardrobe. Could you reduce it by one garment each day? If so, could you donate the clothing to an organization in need?
  19. Volunteer with an organization for half an hour each day. Maybe you can run by and answer the telephone while a staff member takes a break or works on another project.
  20. Listen to 30 minutes of classical music each morning while you're getting ready for work, or prior to falling asleep at night.
  21. Try to understand someone else's perspective - active, objective listening - at least once each day.
  22. Figure out how many dozen cookies can be baked with 30 eggs. Bake that many dozen over the course of a month and run them by your church, your doctor's office, the post office, etc.
  23. Spend half an hour serving food at a soup kitchen. It will change your life forever.
  24. Look at the calendar year for 2010 and plan all but 30% of your time off. You'll make better choices about your travel, and enjoy your "freebies" when an unexpected opportunity presents itself.
  25. Measure the overall square footage of your home. Could you and your family exist in a living space 30% smaller? Of course you could. Figure out how, then reduce your excess in a repurposing campaign. Learn more about www.freecycle.org.
  26. Make a list of things to do/entertainment within 30 miles of your home. Keep it handy for times when you have company, or find yourself bored and in need of an option.
  27. Read a 30 under 30 list and look for common behavior threads that have made these people noteworthy.
  28. Treat someone you know who struggles or aches to a $30 pedicure.
  29. Learn to count to 30 in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.
  30. Plot a timeline of the next 30 years, including everything you want to accomplish, then reduce it by 30%. Make this your "lifeshot" and get busy living it!

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

W O R L D A I D S D A Y


Please take a moment to recognize that today, December 1, 2009, is World AIDS Day. A significant amount of information on HIV/AIDS can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Read the page, understand the statistics, and recognize how long the fight against HIV/AIDS has been going on (nearing 30 years).

In West Alabama, we'll be recognizing World AIDS Day at this event. Please attend if you can - it really does make a difference.

Disclaimer: If you're reading this as a Note on Facebook, it's because my blog - located at www.robbyjohnson.com - feeds directly into my Facebook account. Majikal, right? Point being, if I link a YouTube video or other graphics it may not show up. For your fully-integrated Robby Johnson user experience, visit www.robbyjohnson.com. Let the beat hit 'em, y'all!