Vyv Does NaPoMo

Or NaPoWriMo, depending on which websites you follow. Writer’s Digest calls their version PAD -poem a day. It all means the same thing: April is National Poetry Month. Some of us take up the challenge to write a poem a day, often to a given prompt. Although I am part of a writing group and also signed up with two websites, I pick and choose the prompts. After all, I do have three different ones every day!

Because I’ve wanted to learn more about poetic structure and forms of late, I have been taking a couple of online classes. One deals with short form verse, the other with the basics of haiku. So far, I have learned quite a bit from the former (I only started the haiku class today), including reaching beyond my comfort zone: I hate to bother with rhymes, but a lot of the short forms require rhyming, so in order to avoid getting stuck in cliche, I really have to think hard about what to write… and then, edit, edit, edit!

As much as I am enjoying this poetry challenge, I am looking forward to May already. May is all about short stories, which ought to be a good excuse to empty the proverbial drawer of the not-nearly-as-proverbial partial drafts. A friend of mine from Australia sent me a flyer for a short story competition I’d love to take part in, and I hope to use what I’ll learn in the haiku class to start writing flash fiction, as well.

Are you participating in NaPoMo? Leave me a comment!


International Poetry Day

I had no idea such a thing existed. I mean, it’s also National Forest Day, and next month – April- gets to be National Poetry Month, so this came as a surprise. Turns out, this day is sponsored by Julius Meinl Coffee, based in Vienna, but with cafes in 23 countries all over the world. If you choose to visit one of them, then today, March 21st, you can exchange a poem for a cup of coffee. That’s right: you write, they give you a free coffee. Unfortunately, the only Meinl Cafe is in Chicago, but I wrote you a ditty anyway. If you’d like to buy me a coffee sometime, let’s make a date. 😉

I know not why the cold wind blows
Or why the dog at five to six this morning rose
Instead of the agreed ‘pon hour
I know not why the cat sits in the shower
Or why this morning doesn’t feel like spring
Though outside loudly cardinals and juncos sing
I know not where the squirrel’s off to in the trees
As I observe from underneath my fleece
But even if the morning’s dull and gray
And the cardinal is actually a jay
(and doesn’t really sing as much as squawk,
while I believe the squirrel’s hiding from the hawk)
I’m staying comfy on my sofa bed
With dogs (one whining), husband and damp cat
And if you’re wondering why I had all this to say:
Well, it’s because
It’s International Poetry Day!

David and the Debt of Gratitude

I never met him. We were never friends, lovers, band mates, or even shopped in the same store at the same time. Every time our paths might have crossed, the universe had other plans. I didn’t even find out about his death until seven years after the fact. So what the hell could I possibly have to be grateful for?

It’s probably easiest to start with the most obvious: his music. His words. His voice. Whenever I’ve contemplated writing this down, Abba begin to sing in my head. “Thank You for the Music”, of course. Some people may think that I’m being too light-hearted here. Death is no laughing matter, even the person in question is Australian. To them I say, this isn’t about death. It is about pure, honest gratitude for something that has been my companion for over twenty years now and still means a lot to me. Meister Eckhart supposedly said, “if the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” David deserves my thanks. Besides: I like Abba.

If I were truly afraid of sounding like a pretentious git, this is where I’d stop. But I can’t. Not all has been said. So I’ll just go ahead. And if you want to think of me as a pretentious git, you go ahead. Either way, we’ll both have taken a step forward. After a series of curious happenings, I was gifted something else: more music I had never considered listening to, books I had never considered reading before, and films I had never had any interest in seeing. A good number of them have spawned yet more books, music, films. New ideas. New places. An entire network of new experiences!

And yet, and yet… even this is not all. Amazingly, David has also shared you with me. His friends. His band mates. The people who shopped at the same store at the same time. And through you – you’ve guessed it – yet MORE music. Books. Films. Ideas. Places. I’ve never done a thing to deserve this much. If that is not a damn good reason to express gratitude!

So today I will light my little candle and say my little prayer for this great man whose generosity has bridged all barriers.

Thank you.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

That’s cool. And I’d like to thank you, my intermittent readers and rare commenters, for hanging out with me this year. Here’s to a successful 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Bells are Ringing – wait, what?

Some of you may remember from previous years and postings that at least once a year, I lament the loss of the handwritten communiqué, although I have resigned myself to the fact that there’s just no going back in this digital age. There is one time of the year, however, when all those email rules are firmly off, and that is Christmas. More specifically (or generally, if you will), the holiday season. People who want to tick me off will do well to remember that I find it incredibly rude and lazy to send holiday emails or worse, leave stupid Facebook greetings, especially if we’ve known each other for a while. Luckily, I know there are still people out there who enjoy holiday cards as much as I do, and to these I appeal annually with the Greeting Card Exchange of (this year) 2014.

There are only two rules: if you’d like to receive a greeting card from me, you’ll need to leave a comment below and/or email me your address at vyvienn@gmail.com (I don’t use that for business, so if you’re a spammer, don’t waste your time). Second rule, if you want a card from me, you’d better send me one, too!

Hm, I hear you thinking out loud, I’d love to do that, but I’m Jewish/an atheist/Wiccan/whatever. Not a problem. You can let me know when you write me. I have a Jewish friend for whom I love perusing Hanukkah cards. And I actually believe that most of the cards I currently have are seasonal, not specifically religion-oriented (think snowscapes and season’s greetings).

Ok, you’re saying, but it’s not even November yet! True that. I’ve learned from last year that my postal service to overseas locations is not exactly the speediest. I will be on vacation during most of December and thus have to do a bit of planning ahead. Hence, the cutoff date to participate is November 15th. Please get back with me before then.

Ding-dong, ding-dong…

Dropping the Ball and Chain: the Premature End to PiYo

The other morning, DH and I were standing on our respective mats during the warmup for PiYo’s Sweat, when he turned to me and said: “I really don’t feel like it today.” Truth be told, neither did I. And later, as I pondered my lack of enthusiasm that particular week, it occurred to me that I simply didn’t feel like it, period. Not since the last phase of Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution have I looked forward to a workout less than with PiYo. Now, it could be it’s simply not the right time at the moment. It could be that doing two programs simultaneously is not my cup of tea (it isn’t). It could be that I’m just tired. Or it could be this is not the workout for me.

Secretly, I’m hoping that after a hiatus until January, when I traditionally crave less fast-paced workouts, PiYo and I will hit it off. If we don’t, I’ll be disappointed on several levels. When Chalene Johnson announced she was coming out with something new, I was genuinely excited. I think she’s a wonderful instructor (even though, as DH points out, she very clearly caters to women, no matter how many token dudes show up in her videos), and I know from Turbo Jam and ChaLEAN Extreme that her routines are quite effective. PiYo, though, has mainly bored me so far.

My main beef with Pilates has always been that it feels like a really lame version of yoga. Which is why I’ve done a lot of yoga in the past, but not gone back to Pilates after trying two DVDs and a live class. Snooze fest. PiYo is very much more like Pilates than yoga, unfortunately. Although it does make me sweat, it doesn’t give me an aerobic workout at all, and for someone who’s reasonably flexible, I’ve not felt challenged in that department during the three weeks I nearly completed, either. I’ve addressed some other issues I have with the program in my previous posts, and I stand by them. I do promise to keep you up to date on what happens next time around. Meanwhile, I’ll just complete Les Mills Combat and move on to Shaun T’s Focus T25.

BeachBody’s PiYo: Mid-Week Review

So here’s what’s happening: in order to enter the BB Challenge presented on the PiYo Facebook site, we had to start the program by August 20, so we began this past Monday. Currently, this means for me that on some days, I have three workouts to complete, since I am also finishing the last two and a half weeks of Les Mills Combat (review when I’m done). Phew!

What am I hoping to gain from PiYo? Flexibility and perhaps an improvement on balance. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll remember that I am a major klutz and quite accident-prone. PiYo is a bodyweight workout designed to, well, improve strength, flexibility and balance, and if I end up developing a bit more definition, I certainly won’t cry about it. What else am I doing? I’m eating fairly clean, at least when we eat at home, which is most of the time. I’ve cut back but not given up alcohol, and once I’m done with Combat, I will add my 5K running routine back into the mix.

But you came here to learn about PiYo, so here’s the scoop: at the beginning of every workout, you’re told what equipment you need. Why they say a mat is optional, though, is beyond me. A lot of the routines require some cushioning (think yoga), and it certainly helps to have a non-slip surface to stand on when you’re beginning to sweat and lunge at the same time. So please ignore that “optional” bit and get yourself a good sticky mat! If you have balance problems, keep a chair nearby or exercise near a wall or table that you can hold on to. The recommended towel is an excellent idea, and so is the water, especially during the longer workouts.

We are following the regular PiYo schedule (purple), partially because we’re new and partially because I wasn’t about to shell out extra cash for the two workouts required for the Strength schedule (green). The schedule for both is four days on, one day of rest, two more days on. Yes, you are really working out six days in a row; it just doesn’t look that way. The week begins innocuously enough with Align: the Fundamentals, a 45 minute session of explanation and try-outs. I wouldn’t exactly call it a workout per se, but don’t skip it, especially if you’re new to yoga and/or Pilates. This is the only time you’ll see this workout.

Next, we did Define: Lower Body. You can guess where the focus of this workout is. It runs about 30 minutes and incorporates lunging, squatting and stretching. Unfortunately, there are two points I take issue with: 1) nobody explained the PiYo cross in Fundamentals, which is silly, because it shows up in virtually every warmup. 2) There is a warrior sequence the team goes through twice on one leg, but only once on the other. If you’re looking for symmetry, switch legs next time or pause the DVD and repeat the sequence.

Workout #3 is Define: Upper Body. Make friends with pushups, both triceps and regular, because Chalene loves them and you’ll be doing a lot. There’s a typo in the Quick Start booklet; this workout is only 19 minutes long, not 35. A lot of people combine Lower and Upper Body on the same day. I don’t know what they do on the extra day. Take rest? Anyone?

Workout #4 is called Sweat, and sweat you will during the 42 minutes or so! This is a comprehensive, fairly fast paced total body workout which requires enough space for long side steps (one to each side) and to stretch out your leg sideways from a table position. Here, another boo-boo crept into the DVD (which makes me think they should have paid someone to actually review these things for errors before releasing them, but who’s niggling): during one sequence, you’re in down dog and stretch your right leg out to the side (hence, you need the room). When you do the same sequence on the other leg, you only bring your knee to the elbow. Eh-hem!

Tomorrow is a rest day, then we basically go through the above workouts again, adding Core on Wednesday. Check back in a couple of weeks for an update and a review of two new routines.