Tuesday, January 04, 2011

on the upswing

good morning
really, it is. because my car ended up miraculously fixing itself (sort of embarrassing, but i'll choose it anytime over a large bill!) and the hormone-fueled roller coaster that i seem to be riding lately is flying through a happy zone.

i'm not asking questions -- just rolling with it. [source]

how are all of your resolutions going?
you know, now that we've hit the second real day of the year and all? mine are going well. however, i have been reading focus by my 2011 guru leo babauta (looking back, 2010's was totally gretchen rubin!), and i have decided that one important element is missing from my list.

resolution #6 is to be more aware of the pace at which i am living life, and make a conscious effort to slow down. but i think that a missing piece of this goal is the idea of being more present and more deliberate -- a more active participant in life, if you will.

and i am fairly convinced that one key part of this is prying the laptop out of my grabby paws and getting OFF of the internet already. it's not that i don't love connecting with you all via blogs, twitter and facebook! it's just that the manner in which i do it is haphazard, slightly compulsive, and pretty much the opposite of mindfulness.

i've tried media cleanses before -- the technological equivalent of a crash diet. unsurprisingly, this ended in a full-on media binge, and i reverted back to my old habits soon after it was over.

obviously, i am in need of a better and more sustainable plan. focus contains several workable suggestions:

limit the use of email. ie: don't leave it open all day with auto-checking every 3 minutes so that nearly every task gets interrupted by some fresh nugget of distraction that has landed in my inbox. i would like to get back to the habit of checking email deliberately, just a few times daily.

let go of the need to stay updated. i do enjoy spending a reasonable block of time each morning scrolling through the latest posts on my favorite blogs. i am completely at peace with this habit and have no desire to change it! however, it's the sneaky 'oh, i'll just lean over and read this one post even though i was in the middle of doing something else' behavior that i would like to change.

take breaks, but work free of distractions. a few of leo's ideas to create this "conscious, purposeful balance":  
1. block off a few hours a day (all at once or broken into 2-3 parts) for focus. let yourself do email and other communicating during the other parts of your day.

2. work in intervals. focus for 10-15 minutes, then do 2-5 minutes of distraction, then repeat.

3. try a 40-20 split for every hour: 40 minutes of focus, 20 minutes of distraction.

4. disconnect completely for large parts of your day, and have certain periods just for distraction.

i am not sure which of these strategies best fit with my own work patterns and focusing style, but i am pretty certain that any or all would be an improvement over my current free-for-all. i'll let you all know how things go!

the 0th trimester
clearly, TTC-ing* does not come with the same sorts of dietary limitations as actually gestating.

thank god. because this lunch yesterday was GOOD.

but i am beginning to believe more and more that diet may have a not-insignificant influence on fertility. it makes evolutionary sense, after all, that one would want to be in good overall health and replete with essential nutrients in order to have the best chance at growing and delivering a healthy baby.

i mentioned that i am planning on seeking the advice of an expert, something i've often thought about but never have done. while i'm waiting for that, however, the lovely heather from side of sneakers has offered to do a guest post (Q & A style) to go over some general guidelines on pre-prenatal nutrition.

i know i'm excited (and have questions for her)! if any of you do, either email me or leave a comment on this post.

* "trying to conceive" -- the acronym makes me feel less ridiculous, somehow.

public service announcement
you know those japanese hi tec-Cs that i adore? the ones i thought were only available online at jetpens?

they are now available under a slightly different name (pilot G-TEC-C4) at your local neighborhood staples for just $3.79/2 pack. and i promise: they are the same pen! SHU-tested and wholeheartedly approved.



workout: 30 minute run @ 9:13/mi pace, 0.5% incline. 30 minutes of basic yoga -- i figured i might as well spend some time brushing up on the fundamentals!

27 minutes: the current issue of clean eating has this thai chili on its cover, with the bold claim: "ready in 27 minutes . . . really!!".

i have noticed that 27 minutes in my kitchen often does not equal 27 minutes in some magical test prep kitchen, which contains mythical items such as containers of pre-chopped onions and already-cut-up-and-cleaned meats and vegetables.

but really, this one was done in 27 minutes -- and that included most of the cleanup. i didn't think it was the most exciting soup in the world, but it was a) very healthy and b) extraordinarily fast + easy. and therefore, i would recommend it!

reading: 30 minutes on adrenal disorders (the notes from which you can see above in the pen photo!)


  1. atilla7:18 AM

    love the plate under the sushi

  2. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Hey Shu,
    I have a few questions!

    - How long do you browse over your blogs each AM, and how many blogs do you subscribe to? Are you trying to only peek at the blogs in the AM?

    - Are you reading the free version of focus or the one for purchase?

  3. Sarah- I am so with you on finding a way to limit the time I spend online. Blogs, facebook, etc.. are so completely addicting! I give myself a half hour in the mornings to read through my favorite blogs, guilt-free, and then for the rest of the day at work-- a five minute break serves as a treat for a task completed.

    On another note, I just started reading the book-- The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo (I have to be honest--- I got this idea from Oprah!) but he has this book with a brief meditation, thought to start your day with and as one of my new years goals, I have begun my morning with that... instead of racing to the computer. Only on day 4 but its been really nice so far!

    Oh- I probably will have some questions for the RD about diet, fertility so I will probably email you soon.

    Have a great day and that is great news about your car!

  4. Very cool about the Q and A post. I have one question now: I was looking at a bottle of wine over the holidays, and the surgeon general's warning said something to the effect of "don't consume alcohol while pregnant or trying to get pregnant." I'd never heard that last part before. I know you shouldn't drink while pregnant, but is it really dangerous to have an occasional glass of wine while TTC?

  5. Being free of media feels so good. I work as a counselor at a camp during the summer, and we only get a 2 hour break daily during the week and weekends off. There's no cell service, and I only spend about 20 minutes of that break on the computer because I want to run, shower, & do other stuff. It feels so good to be disconnected but still able to check my email once a day. I always felt more focused on my job, more reflective, and just more aware of my day when I wasn't distracted by media 24/7.

  6. anon:
    - i browse for about 30-45 minutes in the AM, and am okay with that! often i get my own post ideas after reading others' posts. i subscribe to about 100 blogs but do not really keep up with all of them.

    - i am actually fine with spending that AM block of time - it is my equivalent of the AM paper. it's the random other times (while cooking dinner. while sitting around after dinner. while getting ready to leave. during a break in clinic . . um, like right now) that i want to eliminate. i want to read things things deliberately -- not as default action. i am even okay with taking purposefully scheduled breaks (like right now?) to respond to emails/comments/etc, but not just doing it whenever.

    - i'm reading the free version of focus. it has a lot of good ideas!

    chelsea: i think that's more the alcohol company covering their ass in case someone is pregnant and doesn't know. i do not know of any ill effects that can happen with a small-moderate amount of alcohol PRIOR to fertilization, so . . . i say the first half of each cycle should be fine! although heather, i would be interested in the expert's take!

    nan and RYR: very inspiring :) thank you!

  7. awesome looking sushi. i think i found my lunch or dinner today!

    and i like your media freeness resolution. it's so hard for me to pry myself away from my computer or phone but i've noticed that if i give it up for a day then the next day it's harder to get on. good thing? yes please!

  8. I usually need to double the prep time that recipes advertise! I am not fast at peeling/chopping/whatever vegetables and I need to work on better coordinating parts of multi-step meals so that things can be ready at the same time.

  9. Anonymous11:26 AM

    I like resolution 6 best of all. It was what I was not so eloquently getting at when I wrote the pager zen entry. Be active not passive and be pro-active not reactive. Pre think situations with various scenarios and prioritize. Then you can simply call solutions to mind. My differential diagnosis of anything is "what's gonna kill you now, what's gonna kill you in 5 minutes, and what's not gonna kill you. If the first two are not tripped then there is no reason to flame on and things can be handled in a deliberate non-emergent manner. No sympathetic outflow aka reactivity necessary. This takes years to learn but only a decision to start learning. I believe this is the experience you are looking for in your life. As a med student and resident you were trained to not discriminate much in the importance of things at least at a sympathetic outflow level. The cardiac arrest held about as much importance to you as knowing the serum sodium because the attending would pimp the hell out of you if you didn't know it. Your challenge now is to retrain your sympathetic nervous system's response to your job.

    I have come to the conclusion that "media" is neurochemically driven. There is a thing called foursquare and it is a service where you can check on the location of your friends all day long. It sends a lot of beeps and requires you to interact with your screen. This is a classic stimulus response reward kind of paradigm with random reinforcement. It is your interaction with the screen and its subsequent neurochemical reward that is at play since the location of your "friends" all day long on a minute by minute basis is totally worthless information. If you want proof of that ask yourself how often you check your screen even though there has been no ding just to be sure you didn't miss anything. Every time you look at the screen it causes a neurochemical reinforcement to look again

    I think this is the biochemical basis of the whole social media movement. If you look at what generally shows up on something like FB or twitter its generally drivel, so why is drivel so important? Drivel is important because it causes you to deal with YOUR screen which causes a neurochemical stimulation much like the rat getting the shock in order to receive a medial fore brain bundle stimulation.

    I am not saying "our" friends only speak drivel, what I am saying is the drive to interact with the screen causes any stray thought to be elevated to something worthy of publication AND attention at the receiving end. It's not so much the data contained as the process of sending and receiving that becomes the end. It turns from a social interaction, to merely an interaction with your screen device. This was pretty much the model of the soap opera now taken to a 24/7 personal portable situation. Full neurochemical saturation

  10. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Hey Shu, in your earlier comment, you mentioned that you browse the blogs for 30-45 min in the AM. Do you also write your post in that time? You seem to have time management down to such a T! I was so surprised to read you struggle like the rest of us!

  11. i hear ya on the frequent "peeks" into blog world. anytime that i have a down moment, or an between tasks i click over to my google reader and pick one or two (or 5 or 10) posts to read. i would like to get better about only doing that at appropriate times!

  12. anonanon (#2): i think i have made strides with my time management and do pretty well, but the allure of the internet is pretty great! i get up early and browse blogs from around 5 - 5:30-45 while drinking coffee + eating breakfast, and then about 5:45 - 6:30 i write my post. (then work out, then go to work). that's my usual routine!

    PS: on another 'conscious' break while in clinic :) i needed a little mind cleanse between notes!

  13. oops, half my comment got erased! anon #1 -- you sound just like leo babauta! maybe you ARE him? (that would be awesome, although i'm guessing not since you clearly have a medical background).

  14. Hi Shu--found you through BlogHer--we are both BlogHer gals and they tweeted something you mentioned the other day, and Ive been following ya ever since. Im also right down the road in NC from you--over on the western side.
    Just had to tell you I love your hand writing! And that I have given up internet time before for Lent and OMG it was so hard...and I went on a binge afterward. I, like you, feel the need to be updated at all times.
    What did we do before blogs and email?

  15. Oh, good luck with the mindful internet! Every day when I get to work I've been writing down what times I can check my e-mail and reader and then trying to stick with them! It is HARD.

    I have found that I do enjoy my time on the internet more when I think about which websites I actually enjoy reading and which posts actually interest me. Google Reader is so hard because it drives me crazy to have unread items, so I feel the need to read every item all throughout the day.

    A big wake up call for me was when I realized I was going to bed 30-45 minutes later than I wanted. I was just cruising websites I had already visited and reading posts that I had skipped earlier because I didn't find them that interesting. (they weren't really that interesting 2 hours later, either!) I would have benefited from sleep 100x more than mindless surfing!

    I'm not TTC-ing yet, but I am really interested in hearing what you find out about 'pre-prenatal' conception! Good luck!

  16. I was very impressed with that Thai Chili recipe too--I wish I had made a bigger batch!

  17. Seriously, my internet browsing takes up way too much time. I should be reading a book right now!

    Car problems are just awful and life is so much less stressful when they go away.

  18. Those pens will be mine! I tried Office max today--no luck....I must get to staples soon..your printing is sooo neat!!

    Stationary excites me...yes..it's true ;)

  19. I have to say, 27 minutes in my kitchen always takes more then 27 minutes. I hate how recipes have "cooked chicken" or "chopped peppers" as ingredients. Who begins with chopped, cooked chicken and veggies? It's probably my biggest gripe about my cookbook! haha

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