Running Left-Handed

November goals? What November goals? I was going to let them just quietly slip away, no mention of them again, but my friend actually asked me when I was going to post the results of one of them. And I can’t really talk about the one without at least briefly mentioning the other two now, can I?

Goal #1 was to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I wasn’t planning on really participating, not to the extent of dropping everything and writing 1,700 words a day; I was just using the occasion as a motivator to get me to open up my memoir and get back into it a little. And I did. A little. End of story. End of goal. For now.

Goal #2 had something to do with the Seven Minute Workout app. What I learned is this – I do not want to raise my heartbeat for seven minutes. It’s not worth the mental anguish. It’s easier to run for 90 minutes or play racquetball for 90 minutes than to do push ups and planks and squats for just seven minutes. End of goal. It only lasted for a few days, so I wouldn’t say it really ever got started.

Goal #3 was to tally the results of all of Jim’s and my racquetball games for the month. This was a super easy goal since we already play racquetball several times a week. Jim was the one who asked me when I was going to post the results, i.e., blog about them. Can you guess why he’s anxious to see the tally sheet?

We’ve been playing racquetball together for about three years now. I played a few times as a teenager when we finally got a health club in our little Wyoming town and then several times a week during college. The one and only court on campus was always booked up, so a friend and I would often meet and play at 10:00, 11:00, or midnight when there was sure to be no one there. I also played for several years in Denver, against a French woman, Jeanne Marie, while in my 20s. Before kids.

RBall Tally20 years later, I am playing again and it’s so much fun. Jim and I play at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. two or three times a week. We are a good match for each other (Jim’s always joking around that we’re playing “a buck a point” and I remind him that I have probably scored way more points, over the course of time, than he has) and I suppose that is why our racquetball run has lasted as long as it has. Okay, and also because we both show up on time. And because he doesn’t grouch when he gets beat by a girl and I don’t use the “I’m a girl, you’re a boy” excuse when he beats me. And for sure, too, because he doesn’t plow me over or whack me with his racquet when I get in his way, which is often.

About a year ago, Jim’s elbow was bothering him and he was having trouble playing more than a couple of games at a time. So we decided to try and play left-handed and give our right elbows and shoulders a break. In fact, we made it our New Year’s Resolution to play at least one game left-handed every time we got together to play.

Oh my gosh, it was horribly frustrating at first and so mentally taxing. Not only was it hard to hit the ball, to actually make our racquets come into contact with the ball, but when we did, we hardly had the strength or accuracy to get the ball back to the wall. And, though we’re right-handed, it was so hard to catch that little ball with our right hands. Our brains and bodies were just used to having our left hand do it. The most confusing thing was that we couldn’t run as fast with the racquet in our left hand. When I tried to move quickly, it would sound like stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp and I’d rarely get to the ball in time. Jim would laugh and I would mutter, “Stupid left-handed running.”

But we stuck with it. We kept saying, “We’ll be so happy when/if we get an injury and can’t ever play right-handed again because we’ll be pretty decent by then playing left-handed.” Eleven months later and, according to the tally sheet, at least ten left-handed games per month, and we really are pretty decent at playing left-handed. Not to mention this is the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept for an entire year.

The best thing about keeping the November Racquetball Tally was learning that we played 47 games in one month! That’s a lot of racquetball. I should probably be better than I am. Not shown on the tally sheet are all of the games we played on Saturday mornings when we always play with a group of friends, round-robin style or cutthroat or doubles.

Jim and I both agree that we played harder, knowing that the wins and losses for the month were being tallied. So we’re going to keep a tally each month from now on.

I’m glad that one of my November goals was doable and fun and resulted in a positive change in my life!

Leaf Luck

Last fall, I didn’t rake leaves. The neighbor’s giant mulberry tree was bare, many of its leaves piled against the fence on the south side of my yard. But the tree in my front yard, the paradise tree, was the last on the block to lose its leaves.

I didn’t even see it happen. I came home from work one windy November afternoon and my tree was bare, its leaves, and those of the neighbor’s tree that had fallen into my yard, blown away. Gone. All on their own.

My yard was cleaned up for the season, fortuitously.

This fall, thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe mulberry has dropped some beautiful yellows in and around my yard, but, for the most part, it still has most of its leaves and they’re still mostly green (the tree in the background of the photo). My paradise tree, however, is bare, the ground beneath it littered with groups of flat, gray, ugly clumps of leaves connected with spindly stems. I love this tree for its straight trunk and size, not for its foliage.

This November has had nothing but beautiful days–warm, sunny, no rain or snow, no wind. I always wonder what it is, exactly, that makes different trees’ leaves change colors and drop at different times. And why, for some trees, it’s a two-month process, and for others it seems to happen all in one day. Why some years you’re lucky, some years you’re not.

This fall, I had to rake. I  say had to rake as if it’s horrible, horrible to be outside on such a glorious day getting a bit of exercise and fresh air. I consider myself fortunate. I have a yard, I’m capable of raking, and, on top of that, the leaves were dry and light and easy to move.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI raked the driveway, swept my porch area, and moved all the leaves from my yard to the street in about two hours’ time. The city workers pass through with their leaf vacuum three times each fall. I am grateful that our city offers this service. Do you have leaf vacuuming trucks where you live?001

I just hope they get it done before we get a super windy day, before the light, dry leaves that were so easy to rake get blown right back into my yard. I enjoyed working outside today, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it all over again next weekend.

When I finished my yard work, I sat outside and read and admired my spruced-up yard, the afternoon sunshine warming my back.

And I tried to ignore all those green leaves, on the neighbors’ mulberry tree, that still have yet to fall.

New Month Resolutions

Blogging every day in October turned out to be a major light bulb for me–

SETTING A GOAL AND COMMITTING TO IT FOR ONE MONTH IS PRETTY DANG DOABLE!

I stuck with it because a distinct end was in sight and I knew I could survive the short length of time before I was able to return to tending the neglected areas of my life.

And I didn’t realize this yesterday, on the last day of October, and it didn’t hit me until I woke up today and it was the first day of a brand new month, but every month is the perfect reason to try something new, to set a goal and stick with it.

So here it is November 1st and the calendar is screaming at me, “Opportunity!” I know I hinted that I would clean and cook during this month, since these two things went by the wayside during October, but you didn’t really believe that nonsense, did you? Me neither.

I have some better ideas. I am calling these my November Resolutions and I’m already thinking the heck with New Year’s Resolutions, from now on I’m going strictly with New Month Resolutions.

November Resolution #1 – NaNoWriMonanowrimo

Shortly after I posted my last NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) post, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I knew nothing, really, about NaNoWriMo. Something came through my inbox about it yesterday and I started reading. The goal, as I understand it, is to pound out 50,000 words–the length of a short novel–during the month of November. I am not writing a novel, but I did start a memoir last summer that I figure I can continue working on for this. I doubt I’ll add another 50,000 words to it by the end of the month, but this I do know–if signing up results in me adding another 1,000 or 10,000 or 25,000 words, then the NaNoWriMo will have served its purpose of motivating me and giving me the confidence to move forward with the memoir. Also, I believe the rationale behind NaNoWriMo is to get as much down as possible, as fast as you can, and then go back and tweak words and perfect sentences and all that later on. This is exactly the encouragement I need. I tend to want to get things as good as I can as I’m going and that really doesn’t make sense with a full length book because some of the original content could be cut anyway.

November Resolution #2 – The Racquetball Tally

My friend and I have played racquetball two or three times a week for about three years now. We have a ton of fun with it, mostly because we are so well matched. He wins about half of the games and so do I. This morning when I went to the gym, right after the whole first day of a brand new month hit me, I told him we should keep a tally this month of how many games we’re winning against each other. I don’t recall him agreeing to it, per se, but… it’s happening! We both played harder than usual, I do know that.

Psst. Just for the record, which I will periodically post, I am ahead three games to one.

November Resolution #3 – My Fitness Pal and The Seven Minute Workout

I need to lose those few pounds I gained while sitting on my butt writing all of October. So, in addition to my regular exercise, I am going to monitor my calorie intake with the My Fitness Pal app and try to do the Seven Minute Workout app daily. The latter works on body parts that running and swimming and racquetball don’t.

There they are, my November resolutions. I’m putting them out there. And even though I realize that probably not many of you would have noticed or cared had I not posted something on my blog every single day in October, and therefore you won’t be keeping track of whether I stick with these new resolutions, the fact that I announced the post-a-day kept me motivated and held me accountable, just as, hopefully, this will during all of November.

Now, what are you planning on doing with your November?