Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Rainforest - Coiba Island, Panama

I get that some people can get turned off with the preachy factor that has been ramped up in recent years with the whole "going green" movement but I do not believe loving and caring for the planet we inahbit is or should be a political issue. And I am in no way trying to be preachy. That being said, caring for the beautiful world we live in is something I am pretty passionate about - even as I admit there are a lot of ways I could be better. We are the stewards of a pretty amazing place and thus have a significant responsibility to guard our resources and keep things around for future generations to enjoy.

The "Everything Bagel" Sand on Machete Beach - Coiba Island, Panama

There are a lot of lists of tips and advice on what you can do to reduce your own impact (seriously, every little bit counts!). I made my own list of green tips a couple of years ago. And last year I composed a little Ode to the Earth with photos of some of the beautiful things I love about this world.

Snorkeling View of the Pacific Ocean Floor - Coiba Island, Panama

This year - in addition to a few more nature type photos - for my Earth Day tribute I want to share a couple of changes I have made in the last year or so and pass along the idea I read about here of treating Earth Day like an Eco New Year, a time to make eco resolutions.

One of the Inspiring Sunsets I saw camped on Machete Beach - Coiba Island, Panama

First up, a look back at my more recent changes (which still need improving but I've at least made a start):

  • Drink Less Bottled Water - this is ongoing but in the last year I have really stepped away from bottled water to a greater degree and with better success than in the past. My biggest downfall is in the airport - I need to be better at traveling with my own water bottle and filling it up at public drinking fountains once I make it through security.
  • No More Paper Napkins at Home - I don't remember when I made this switch exactly but sometime in the last year or so I bought a whole bunch of cheap white cocktail napkins - I felt the large dinner napkin size was too much for my every day use. Now this is pretty habitual. I use paper napkins for larger parties (okay, for the one party I throw a year) and I have a roll of paper towels but I find I use those less and less. And I use the 7th Generation ones made from recycled materials.
  • Cooking at Home More Often - Last year I made a huge lifestyle shift and just started cooking more from home - with real ingredients instead of processed, pre-packaged, individualized serving foodstuffs! This shift is not only a greener choice but it has had a major impact on my health. I'm not necessarily eating less, I'm just eating better and my body has responded by trimming down and giving me a better overall attitude. Yes, exercise has played a part as well but I think the fundamental change of eating better food has given me a greater desire to exercise. It is all linked.
  • Print Less - I'm a lawyer. This is hard. But I use the double-sided printer that my firm got a year or two ago as much as possible and I think twice before printing. I am also extremely diligent about recycling all that paper I am using at work.

This year's eco-lutions:

  • Buy less junk. I just flat out buy too much stuff. More than I need. More than I really want. I just need to be more mindful about what I think I need.
  • Buy more organic. This is a complicated issue that is controversial to some and I see both sides of the argument. But for me, this is a choice I've made and I want to be more committed to it because I believe it does make a difference.

Beautiful Bumblebee - Rhinebeck, New York

I don't know about your motivation for living a greener life, but for me, I want to continue to have access to the awe-inspiring beauty of this Earth and I want to take my children and grandchildren to those places as well. Because to be absolutely honest with you, very few things make me as happy as being outside surrounded by nature and I want to do my small part to keep it that way.

An amazing hike last fall - Jones Hole/Ely Creek Hike, Gates of Lodore, Utah

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

where I've been

  • moving
  • unpacking
  • organizing
  • cleaning
  • working
  • running
  • packing
  • moving
  • working
  • unpacking
  • organizing
  • working

On April 10th I moved apartments. I only moved up four floors in the same building so I didn't go too far. Here is what the new apartment has to offer that made it all worth it: a better view (roof tops and sky instead of a roof top parking garage), a functioning sprayer thing in my sink, a walk in closet, a clean fridge (didn't realize how gross the old one was), closer proximity to the laundry room and a 10x9 "home office". I only broke one lamp in the process. The home office is the only room that isn't completely organized and functioning properly - ironically because I've had to work from home too much the last two weekends.

I tried to write a couple of posts over the last few weeks but they were dumb and boring and too long and only illustrated that my brain is off on its spring frolic while I'm stuck here with all of the drudgery and none of the words to describe it.

Then over this last weekend my office moved. Now, instead of working in a cockroach infested, dark and dreary office where I hadn't heard a vacuum cleaner in a couple of years (and I'm there a lot), my office looks like those all glass modern offices in movies and on tv. Despite the fish bowl effect, I like it. I especially liked the team of cleaning people who were not afraid to use the vacuum cleaner and windex with extra verve even though we have only been here one day.

Moving meant I was able to "work from home" on Friday which was awesome. Pjs and conference calls in the morning, mid-day run and errands in the afternoon. Did you know that you can return a modem at 3 pm on a Friday and there will be no one else at the cable company? That was awesome. You know what else is awesome? The Container Store. I love that place a little bit too much. Ask my sister, she hates when I call and tell her about whatever cool organizing thing I have found there. I can hear her rolling her eyes over the phone even before she interrupts my description of the belt hangar or whatever with an exasperated "yeah, yeah, you love that place."

Saturday was a ridiculous day of organizing that involved far too much of a mess before any semblence of order could be attained. And no, I could not just be satisfied with the placement of the rug in my bedroom, I had to draw on all my resources and independence and find that freakish amount of strength I have always been able to tap when it comes to rearranging my bedroom to shift and push and tilt furniture until the rug was in just the right spot.

And on Sunday my "work from home" freebie Friday was stolen away from me by an actual working from home with testy internet/work network connection Sunday until the wee hours of the morning. And here I am on Monday working into those same wee hours. Or, trying to find a way to tap hidden depths of resources that will allow me to push past my sleepy brain and finish this brief off so I can have any hope of sleeping tonight.

On the plus side, I managed to go out not once but twice this weekend with friends and on Sunday I ran for an hour. One whole hour! I ran all the way to Battery Park (down by the Statue of Liberty) which is nearly 6 miles. Aside from the Container Store and dinner with friends, that run was the highlight of my weekend. Oh, and the super buttery, flaky croissant I bought as a treat afterwards.

How about you? Where have you been and what have you been up to? I've missed you!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

the fever

As a general rule I feel my focus and concentration skills are pretty good. Better than pretty good, actually. I would even go so far as to say they are better than average. Now, you might be saying to yourself, "of course they are, you're a lawyer." But you would be surprised by how many ADD lawyers are stumbling their way through law school and into practice. But here is the thing, those people are basically smarter than I am and do not need to concentrate and focus quite as much to succeed. This is not false modesty, this is just something I have come to know and accept. For me, law school and the subsequent practice of law has demanded a lot of concentration and focus in order for me to be successful.

But lately every shiny thing that catches a bit of light - or even a dull thing that comes into my line of sight peeking out of a dark corner - distracts me from the task at hand.

For example, right now, I should be writing a memo. A memo that will essentially write itself because I have copious notes on the subject and it is all basically plotted out in my head. Instead, my afternoon - aside from the obvious distraction of me pausing to muse about it here as a pointless blog post - has gone basically like this.

Finish lunch.
Hmmm, maybe I should start that memo. First I'll see what is happening on facebook since I went a whole morning without opening it for distraction. Why is my computer so slow? Wait, why are 50 windows sponateously opening? Better call the helpdesk.
Great, tech support wants to take my computer away. Guess I should kill time until the guy comes to give me a loaner computer.
Ugh, I'm annoyed with the new computer that doesn't want to function properly. Perhaps it is time for a Coke Zero from the vending machine.
Why not stop and complain about all of this to a co-worker on the way.
Oh, and there is that GIANT wheel of bubble wrap sitting in the hall. How fun would it be to roll that out and run down the snapping the bubbles under my heels? Or roll out on top of it? Would the pressure make the bubbles snap?
Why is this floor so slippery? And squeaky? Did they wax it? First time in five years they've bothered and of course it is the week before we move out. What is the point now?
Back to that memo. To, From, Subject, Date, file name: check, check, check, check, check.
Wow, my keyboard is pretty gross. Maybe I should clean out the crumbs, I haven't done that in a while. Where would I get one of those cans of air?
What is wrong with me? Why can't I focus?
Oh, that's right. It's spring.
I should blog about this and then get back to work.

. . . .

I have an annual condition that has been afflicting me for nearly as long as I can remember: Spring Fever. All one has to do is peruse my report cards from law school, college, high school and I'm sure further back to discover that I lack focus and concentration in the warming spring months. After being cooped up all winter with dreary clouds and drippy weather the slightest hint of sunshine, a blue sky and blossoms makes it impossible for me to accomplish anything productive unless absolutely necessary. For the last month since I've been home from vacation (how did a month go by so fast?) everything has been absolutely necessary all the time so I haven't had the option to get distracted like a magpie by the tiniest scrap of tin foil. Procrastination wasn't an option. But I haven't had any deadlines this week so the fever has set in and I didn't even realize it until I was pounding my keyboard against the garbage can and coaxing crumbs out with a napkin (sorry to horrify you with the imagery of my nasty keyboard but it is what it is).

In high school I called it senioritis despite the fact that I was only a junior when I recognized it for what it is - a nearly physical inability to do anything remotely productive. And my hilarious friend Amanda started writing stories about my ailment, attributing it to my brain's desire to wander. My little brain simply packed his bags (somehow my brain has always been referred to in the masculine which should annoy my feminist leading side but whatever) and took off. He abandoned me when I needed him most cramming for AP tests when all I wanted to do was ditch class and head up the canyon for an afternoon hike. I wish I had some of the tales of his adventures with me now because they were pretty grand. I attribute my worst grade in law school to this annual nomadic phase my brain goes through. Property, spring semester of my first year. I knew my stuff but somehow none of it made its way onto the final (and only) exam. My head was just not in it.

This week New York is experiencing a beautiful heat wave that will abruptly end with the onset of the weekend. And while I have managed to schedule a surprising number of appointments this week (a task that falls in the category of "errands" which I detest and avoid at all costs) - including waxing, gynocologist, dentist and a hair cut tomorrow! - work is slacking. Not to mention taxes. Is April 15th really next week? Yeah, I should probably do something about that. If taxes were due January 15th or October 15th, I don't think I would have any trouble doing them in advance and getting them out of the way early (for the most part). But having them due smack in the middle of my spring fever itch? Impossible. And don't tell me I should have done them in January, who really manages to focus on them that early? Right, don't answer that.

All I am trying to say with this convoluted mess of a post that illustrates how difficult it is for my brain to focus on one thought long enough to completely finish it without interrupting myself is this: allergies are not the only thing I suffer from in the spring. Even with my recent vacation, my skin is craving sunshine and my body is craving rigorous outdoor activity. From my high school days spent hiking Donut Falls instead of attending 6th and 7th period or hiding from the hall monitors to go to Mayfest at the U to all those times at SUU when a 40 minute drive south rewarded pale college kids with spring run off and red cliffs to hike and lay out on to spring climbing and that taunting mountain behind my law school that whispered so enticingly that if I just pack some flash cards and a couple of books in my back pack, surely I will study just as well perched on a rock as I would under the fluorescent lights of the law library . . . I crave spring. I actually find it more distracting than summer.

Summer lulls you into the security that every day will be nice (well, except for last year's unseasonably cool summer with all its rain) so there isn't this desperate urge to get out now or it will all slip away too quickly and by September you are ready for the crispness to return to the air.

But right now? Right now I slow my stride and smile at the blossoms that seemed to have bloomed over night all over the City. I take a deep breath in the morning before I open my eyes because the air that is drifting in from my open windows is still cool but with a promise of warmth to follow. Tights are abandoned and sandals are dragged out. My feet are free of socks until late October or perhaps even November! I search for brighter colors in my closet and softer patterns. Yesterday I noticed nearly every other woman in my office and on the street had likewise reached for her most summery dress. Mine was a silk pattern of brown and orange and navy I paired with my new cream flats and a cream cardigan I had to remove it was that warm.

There is a promise that comes with spring that whispers anything is possible if you just get out there. And that is what I want to do, I want to just get out there, my brain is already there waiting for me.
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