Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dollhouse Furniture

My first attempt at making dollhouse furniture! Here is my very mod sofa couch. It's not quite finished yet. I am going to add a border around the edges to smooth it out. Cool? (For reference note kitty tail in background).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

One of my signature strengths is to recognize and appreciate beauty and excellence. I will try to think of five things in various categories, starting with every letter of the alphabet. For some reason, I'm starting with V.

1. Vista

Grand Canyon

2. Voice

Ella Fitzgerald listen to Ella singing "Mack the Knife." 1960

3. Violin

Itzhak Perlman

  Listen to Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Allegro Moderato pt. 1

4. Violet


 5. Vision

Martin Luther King

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FitBit Update

A few weeks ago I posted about my dismal FitBit results. As I mentioned FitBit is a nifty little device that I attach to my waist daily, or keep in my pocket. Supposedly it records my every step throughout the day. Ten thousand steps or about 5 miles is recommended per day for minimal fitness. On regular work days I average about 4,000 steps. Clearly I've got to get my butt moving a bit more than that. I suppose most people (my age) need to. Indeed I am still far overweight from where I'd like to be, and my BMI is skyrocketing. However the FitBit has made me at least conscious of my shortcomings, so I've made modest improvements. 

This week it is my grand scheme to meet or exceed the 70,000 steps or 35 miles per week that FitBit suggests is the minimum one should walk. Minimum I say. I think that barring a twisted ankle, goddess forbid, I will make it. (With the recent Boston Marathon bombing in mind, I am grateful to even have the limbs and vitality to walk 35 miles). Of course I'm off this week so it might be easier to take the time. Here are my stats so far. 
Week of April 7- 13 
 52217 steps taken    
75% of goal of 70,000 
90 floors climbed 
129% of goal of 70 
23.82 miles traveled 
68% of goal of 35.00 

Almost made it this week! 
April 14-20
55092 steps taken 
79% of goal of 70,000 
79 floors climbed 
113% of goal of 70 
25.13 miles traveled 
72% of goal of 35.00 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wisdom of the Weekend

I attended a Meditation Retreat this past weekend at the Garrison Institute in New York. It was a wonderful experience, and I'm sure it hasn't settled all in yet. I loved the quiet, so coming back to life has its joys and its irritations. 

It was a group for LGBT practitioners. I spent the weekend in total silence, in terms of talking. I did 'cheat' by reading, playing solitaire, and going on facebook and email. Overall I had a great time. I didn't feel lonely, though I spoke to no one. I walked 10 miles around the institute, got up at six both days, and I ate great food for three days. 

I missed my kitties, because it seems natural that when you open to the beauty of life, animals and nature are clearly part of it.

Here are some words of wisdom that I scribbled in my notebook:
5 Hindrances to Meditation
  1. Sloth and Stupor
  2. Indecision & Doubt about the validity of meditation
  3. Desire for Sense Experiences
  4. Restlessness & Anxiety 
  5. Ill Will, Hatred, or Negative Feelings
Metta Phrases
  • May all beings be safe & protected
  • May all beings be peaceful
  • May all beings live with ease & with kindness
The Four Noble Truths According to the Buddha
  • Life has suffering; no living being avoids it
  • The cause of suffering is attachment
  • There is a way to end suffering
  • It is the path of dharma
The Arrows of Pain
  • The first arrow is the actual pain
  • The second arrow is our reaction to the pain
Can you love yourself?
If you can't love yourself, can you be kind?
If you can't be kind, can you be nonjudgmental?
If you can't be nonjudgmental, then can you do no harm?
If you do harm, then can you do the least harm possible?

Life is 10.000 joys and 10,000 sorrows

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Signature Strengths of My Friends

Once again, here are the 24 signature strengths, according to Marty Seligman and the Authentic Happiness website. We all have these qualities, to a lesser or greater value. The positive psychology model is that if you know your signature strengths, you can enjoy life more by capitalizing on them. Last night I held a 'signature strengths' party at my house. All my friends took the VIA Character Strengths test on the Authentic Happiness website, and we discussed our strengths (and weaknesses). Though there wasn't enough time to solve all questions, everyone seemed to enjoy the exercise. Here are the 24 choices.
  • Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  • Bravery and valor
  • Capacity to love and be loved
  • Caution, prudence, and discretion
  • Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
  • Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
  • Curiosity and interest in the world
  • Fairness, equity, and justice
  • Forgiveness and mercy
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
  • Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
  • Humor and playfulness
  • Industry, diligence, and perseverance
  • Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
  • Kindness and generosity
  • Leadership
  • Love of Learning
  • Modesty and humility
  • Perspective (wisdom)
  • Self-control and self-regulation
  • Social Intelligence
  • Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
  • Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Here are the first five strengths of each of my friends. I did not get the order correct, but I think I recorded the top five for everybody.
1. Gratitude
2. Leadership
3. Forgiveness & Mercy
4. Capacity to Love & Be Loved
5. Perspective

1. Fairness & Equity
2. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
3. Leadership
4. Curiosity
5. Honesty

1. Creativity
2. Capacity to Love & be Loved
3. Judgment & Critical Thinking
4. Modesty & Humility
5. Curiosity

1. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
2. Love of Learning
3. Curiosity
4. Fairness & Equity
5. Creativity

1. Creativity
2. Humor & Playfulness
3. Love of Learning
4. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
5. Curiosity

1. Fairness & Equity
2. Bravery & Valor
3. Appreciation of Beauty
4. Kindness & Generosity
5. Love of Learning

1. Curiosity
2. Love of Learning
3. Gratitude
4. Appreciation of Beauty
5. Forgiveness & Mercy

1.  Curiosity & Interest in the World
2. Love of Learning
3. Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
4. Humor & Playfulness
5. Fairness, Equity & Justice

As our discussion evolved, we came up with some interesting observations & questions. 

1. We had many similar results among us. Is it because we are all friends, and have similar values? Would a group of engineers get very dissimilar results to our group?

2. Do we end up with a strength because we have chosen a career that hones a certain characteristic? Or do we choose that livelihood because we have that character strength? 

3.  Where do weaknesses fit in? What do we do with them? 

4. The appreciation of beauty & excellence was common for several of us. We explained this strength in many ways--- the appreciation of nature, taking time to notice the beauty of everyday things, music, the demonstration of flawless human skill, and the love of collecting art, antiques, and books.  

5. We noticed that the more optimistic thinkers among us also were high on gratitude. 

6. Some folks were surprised at their results, but the group sometimes helped to clarify. 

7. Many of us were not as high on social intelligence as would be expected, considering our professions and such. 

8. Many of us were lowest on Spirituality and Self Regulation & Self Control. We thought the questions regarding spirituality were more traditionally religious-based rather than spiritual as we understand it. 

Self control and regulation? Well, we had no excuses for that.