Friday Fun Time!

Here’s the first line of a story.  Finish the paragraph!

This is going to be tricky, thought Stella.

Advertisements

Cope Springs Eternal

With the state of the economy, the endless “he said, she said” of politics, and the everyday work/life/relationship struggles, sometimes it’s all too easy to feel sad or overwhelmed.  And every morning, we wake up to those same challenges again.

We humans, at least those of us in fast-paced, “modern” cultures, have gotten away from some of the natural rhythms of life.  With our noses in our computers, tablets, and cell phones, we barely look up enough to see the seasons and the cycles of Mother Nature.  Our ancestors seemed to understand more fully that “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose.”  By honoring Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, they lived the Wheel or Circle of Life and understood that “this too shall pass.”

So how does understanding the Wheel help us to cope?  First, it always helps me relax a bit more when I remember that life IS a wheel, and so it will always keep turning, no matter how slowly, and indeed, each event will come to pass.  And second, it reminds me that I should live in each season and embrace what it has to offer, even if it doesn’t match up with what I want at that particular moment.  In other words, it’s baking and enjoying homemade pumpkin muffins at Thanksgiving, instead of being mad that I can’t have fresh strawberries.

The Mayan Calendar has been in the news lately because of some misinterpretations of it as a Doomsday Prophecy.  Perhaps part of the problem came from the fact that the Mayan term “World,” which is more properly translated as “phase,” was taken literally.  So when the circular Mayan Calendar said “end of World,” well, you can imagine the panic that ensued among the misinformed.

This December 12th is that “end of World” moment in the calendar.  But guess what?  It keeps going then!  One phase will end and a new one will begin.  Hopefully, we’ve learned something from the last go-round, and we can apply our new wisdom to the next turning of the Wheel so that it rolls a little smoother.  If not, I suggest dipping that pumpkin muffin in chocolate and cracking open a pint of ice cream . . . .

 

 

 

Pick the Right Exercise Shoe for You

Since I advocate fitness and write about Sporty Stuff here, I thought I should write about shoes for your workouts.  Most workouts will require some kind of footwear, and it’s important to have good shoes for your activities.  In general, I recommend running shoes for most exercise.  Running shoes will offer a variety of features (feet-tures??) to accommodate all sorts of arches and such.

(Note: I am not going to address the barefoot or lightweight shoe category here.  This article only describes “standard” shoes that most of us will use.)

OK, so right off the bat, let me dispel the notion that any one company makes the BEST shoe.  In fact, lemme tackle a few Shoe Myths that are circulating out there.

  1. The more expensive shoes are better.  In general, this is not necessarily true.  Yes, the higher price can indicate that a shoe has more cushioning.  And yes, the shoe manufacturers will usually spend more time wear-testing and researching the expensive shoes.  But you may not need all of that.
  2. All ________ shoes are ________.  If I had a dollar for every person who thought that all New Balance shoes are wide or all Nike shoes are narrow, I could retire to a beach on the French Riviera where a man named Jean-Pierre could feed me bon-bons and soft cheeses all day long.  Each of the shoe companies makes a ton of shoes, some narrow, some wide, some cushiony, and some not.  So you just need to find the one particular shoe—from whatever company—that fits you best.
  3. All sneakers are the same, so I can just get any pair from the department store.  Running shoes are actually manufactured for different foot biomechanics and uses.  There are a few basic categories:  Neutral, Stability, Motion Control, Lightweight Trainers, and Racing Flats.  Some have added “corrective” features and some are designed for racing.

So how do you go about choosing the best shoe for you, then?  And what do all those categories mean?  First, let’s look at the Technical Terms that you will need to know.

  • PRONATION/SUPINATION.  These two terms refer to the foot’s motion when you are in motion.  When you walk or run, you will generally strike the ground first with the outer edge of your heel.  (If you look at the heels of your shoes, you might notice that you wear out the outer edge first.)  Then, as you continue to move forward onto the forefoot, your foot will roll inward to some degree, so that by the end of the footstep, you will be pushing off the middle of the foot.

Pronation means that the forefoot rolls inward excessively.  Look at the forefoot of your current running shoes.  If you notice that the inside edge (big toe side) of the sole is worn down, then you are a pronator, meaning that you push off on the big toe portion of your foot instead of the middle.

Supination means you are not rolling inward enough.  If you notice that the outside edge (pinky toe side) of the sole is worn down, then you are a supinator, meaning that you are not rolling inward enough, or at all.

The body creates this rolling motion in the foot in order to provide natural cushioning.  In other words, it is deflecting the impact of the footstrike.  So a little bit of pronation is OK, but excessive pronation can cause injuries or problems, such as bunions.

Remember that these two terms refer to MOVEMENT.  Just because you have flat feet does not necessarily mean that you pronate.  A flat-footed person CAN pronate, but so can a high-arched person.  So just looking at your arches does not necessarily tell you what your biomechanics are.

Now that you understand the biomechanics, you can choose the right type of shoe for yourself.

  • NEUTRAL SHOES.  The Neutral (also called Cushioned) category is for the person who does not have any biomechanical problems (meaning you don’t pronate excessivelyl) or for the person who supinates.
  • STABILITY SHOES.  Stability shoes are for pronators, and come in a wide range of pronation control.  Some stability shoes will provide a small amount of control, and others will provide a lot.
  • MOTION CONTROL SHOES.  These shoes are for excessive pronation.  They will provide a lot of control of excessive motion (hence the name).

These three categories are a good place to start your shoe search.  Once you narrow down the category of shoe that you need, then you can go about further refining your search.  Some of the other factors that you will want to consider are your build (smaller or larger frame), how much use you will give your shoes (that is, how many miles will you put on them), and the shape of your foot (some shoes are cut wider and some are cut more narrow).  The staff of your local run shop can really help you here.  They will know how each of the shoes fit, and they can help you choose the best shoe for you.

Some further words of wisdom for the intrepid shoe-shopper. . . .

  1. Running shoes have about a 400-500 mile lifespan, so be prepared to get new shoes about every six months.  You can’t tell if a shoe is worn out just by looking at it.  If you have worn down or through the sole of the shoe, it is definitely dead.
  2. If you wear orthotics, remember to bring them with you to the store so you can test out the orthotic with the shoe and make sure it fits.
  3. Running shoes should fit so that you have about a thumbnail of space between you and the end of the shoe. Check for this space when you are standing up, not sitting down.  Remember that a tight fit does NOT mean support.  You need a little extra room in your running shoes to allow for proper foot biomechanics.  In general, expect to go at least a half size larger in your running shoes.
  4. Bring your old running shoes with you to the run shop if you can.  The staff person can look at the wear pattern on the soles of your shoes and help you choose a great new one.

You are now armed with some good information to help you in your search for the best shoe for you.  Now get out there and run!

The Nodes Know

One of the reasons I am so drawn to astrology is its ability to be an infinite source of information about ourselves.  We can get information from each of the planets and signs and houses in our natal charts.  Then we can look at the symbolism of the angles that each of those bodies makes to the others.  Then we can look at the top half of a chart versus the bottom half, or right versus left.  And then then we can compare our own birth chart to what is going on in the sky at any other time.  And on and on and on . . . . It can be a textbook that serves us our whole life.

On September 2nd, there will be a shift in the Moon’s North and South Nodes.  The Nodes are mathematical points and not physical bodies, but in astrology we can use them in a way that is similar to the planets and signs in our chart.  (For you scientifically-minded readers, the Nodes are the points where the Moon’s orbit intersects the Earth’s ecliptic.)

Now, many of us know our Sun Sign, our Rising Sign, and some might even know the Mercury or Moon signs.  But the Nodes are less commonly known, which in my opinion is a shame.  The Nodes are a wealth of information for those of us on a spiritual or wisdom quest.

In short, the South Node tells us our spiritual starting point in this lifetime.  It represents our unconscious patterns and past-life habits we continue to carry on in our current incarnation.  The North Node is its opposite, symbolizing our spiritual destination.  It is our path to spiritual enlightenment and can bring great fulfillment.

For the past year and a half, the South Node-North Node combination has been Gemini-Sagittarius.  This pairing has given us humans the collective experience of understanding that busy work, spreading ourselves too thin, and multi-tasking may not be the answer; it has been encouraging us to find meaning in our lives instead.

When the Nodes move into the Taurus-Scorpio arrangement, they are nudging us toward deep transformation.  Taurus is strongly attached to stability and security, but Scorpio says that change is the only constant.  We can keep the vision and philosophy we learned from the earlier Nodes, and we can incorporate a surrender of sorts to the natural birth-death cycle of life.

Be open to change, Wisdom Warriors!  Remember that real growth takes “full circle” experiences, so be willing to let some things die in order to live fully!

 

Perspective

Today’s column is written by guest author Jennifer Erickson, licensed professional counselor.  This column originally appeared on Facebook and is reprinted here with permission of the author.

Be gentle with people today. That person who cut you off really could be en route to the hospital. The spouse who says “I can’t today” may really mean it for reasons neither of you fully understand. That jerk customer might have served our country and suffered a traumatic brain injury that affects his mood. The woman who seems bitchy at the grocery store may have been raped as a child.

It’s perfectly ok to avoid these people or to feel mad with the knowledge of exactly what they should or could be doing differently…. Just please remember they do not have your distance or clarity about their situation. Not yet anyway. In the spirit of them gaining insight and behaving better, please render a heartfelt prayer or thought – rather than a harsh judgment – as you walk by or away.

Sad likelihood: They really are doing the best they know how to right now. Happy thought: Your kind smile or wish may somehow nudge them closer to wanting help or gaining sensibility of some kind. Whatever compassionate vibe you can leave in the space between you is good hard work, I know. So on behalf of whomever you do it with, thank you. May it uplift you both.
Do you have something to say that fits in with the aim4wisdom theme?  Let me know!  And remember to add your shorter bits of wisdom to The Wisdom List!  Entries accepted until August 31st.  Winner announced early September.

Spider Wisdom

My house is full of spiders.  In general, I really really really do not like bugs, insects, and  things with many legs in my house.  I am all for them staying outside.  There was one particular spider that had taken up residence behind my stove, and every morning I saw a new web spun across the back burner.  I was determined to squish that spider, but she always escaped me.  So, partly out of respect for her squish-dodging skills and partly out of a desire to walk my talk, I looked up Spider and tried to learn from it.

Wouldn’t you know it, turns out spiders are the guardians of ancient languages and alphabets.  Perfect symbols for aspiring writers like me.  So that’ll teach me to try to squish a Messenger of Wisdom. . . .

Anyway, now I have something else to add to The Wisdom List:  Take the time to learn before trying to squish something.

Entries for The Wisdom List accepted until August 31st!  Best entry wins a groovy prize!

The No-Excuses Home Workout

One of the biggest excuses for not exercising is “I don’t have any time.”  But if you are really ready to start doing SOMETHING, then here is an easy at-home routine you can do with no equipment and only 20 minutes.  These activities can be done in one spot, so you can even do this routine in front of the TV.  You really have no reason not to try it!

Do each exercise for one minute, and rest for :30 seconds between each exercise.  Try this circuit twice for a simple 20-minute routine to jump start your day!

  • Knee Lifts (standing in place, touch opposite elbow to knee)
  • Squats (feet at least shoulder-width apart)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Wall Sit (lean against a wall with legs bent at 90 degrees, keep back and head against wall)
  • Plank (that is, hold the top part of a pushup, keep ear-shoulder-hips-knees in a straight line)
  • “Superman” back extensions (lie on stomach, arch back so that shoulders and chest come off floor)

Please be aware that fitness activities are potentially hazardous activities.  Ensure that you are physically capable of performing these exercises and that you have no conditions that would be aggravated by performing this routine.  Questions?  Please ask here, or email me at aim4wisdom@yahoo.com.

What’s in a Name?

First, if you haven’t contributed already, please go to The Wisdom List and add your two cents!

Okay, so for today’s Friday Fun, I went to http://www.behindthename.com.  This website has an extensive list of names and meanings (perfect for writers looking to name characters).  I used their Random Name Generator to come up with a man’s name; your mission today is to create a brief description of a man named Harmon Petru Bai.  Limit yourself to three sentences at the most, and give whatever detail comes to mind when you hear Harmon Petru Bai.

Happy creating!