Go Lovely Rose

Random Musings

Finding focus

It’s been over eight months since I wrote my last real post, so I think it’s official: I have writer’s block.

But what I have struggled with even more is finding focus. In a life where I’m lucky to get 10 uninterrupted minutes and there’s always a chore waiting, focus has been a difficult habit for me to cultivate.

… And this is where I wish I could swoop in with a triumphant story about how I have overcome this hurdle and reached nirvana … but alas, no. I’m still struggling! But I would like to start by putting a little more into my blog, even if each post is only a fraction of the grand vision I would like it to be.

So here goes nothing! :)

Where have I been?

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Adam's first day

That was taken on March 8th, just hours after Adam was born. Here’s the little urchin just a few days ago:

Adam in the WashPod

Motherhood has been a big journey, but also a fun one, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about it!

Room to Fail = Room to Grow

A recent Seth Godin blog post really grabbed my attention. In it, he talks about climbing “an endless series of difficult (but achievable) hills” as the way to success — in short, setting prudent milestones. This seems pretty simple … so why is it so hard? Seth has an idea: “There are plenty of obvious reasons why we avoid picking the right interim steps, why we either settle for too little or foolishly shoot for too much. Mostly it comes down to fear and impatience.”

His post seemed highly relevant to a question I’ve often asked myself: Why it’s harder to learn as adults than as children? Some say that your mind grows less elastic with age, but I don’t entirely buy that. Maybe it’s true once you’re knocking on 70, but twenties? thirties? forties even? No way. If anything, my mind feels like it’s growing ever more fertile. So why is it that learning often trickles to a stop after we leave school?

I think it’s because we stop trying. And I think that’s because we’re scared to fail.

Children are given a lot of leeway to fail. They are given ample time to achieve each small milestone, and they’re allowed to mess up over and over again. It’s okay to be bad at something when you’re a kid. But we “grown ups” are a different matter; it’s not nearly so okay to be bad at something if you’re an adult. The expectation is that by now, you should have mastered whatever it is you were going to do in life … and if you haven’t, well by golly, hurry up! When trying something new as an adult, if you exhibit anything short of extraordinary progress, people often wonder why you’re wasting your time. (I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve thought this about people too.)

So we stop trying, and therefore we stop growing.

It reminds me of fixed vs. growth mindsets, which is one of the most empowering ideas I’ve ever come across. Under a fixed mindset, people see themselves as being, well, fixed in their abilities. They avoid challenges and therefore stagnate over time.. The growth mindset, on the other hand, embraces challenge — and failure — as a way to enhance their abilities. Over time, they become ever more capable. Ironically, you’ll notice that each mindset is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I spent many years under the fixed mindset, and when I finally embraced the growth mindset, it was like a suffocating person finally given fresh air. I now treasure my newfound freedom — freedom to fail, and freedom to grow. It’s a difficult mental switch to make, but it’s worth the struggle. You will be so much happier!

I’ll end with a great quotation that I read to myself whenever I’m scared to try something: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Hopefully, it’ll help get you over a hill or two in your lifelong journey of growth. :)

My Ideal Superpower

Today, while watching X-Men: First Class, I inevitably got to thinking about what superpower I would like to have if I could have my pick. Telepathy is an obvious first choice and would be very useful on a daily basis, but the ability to manipulate magnetic fields (Magneto) or absorb and reuse energy (Sebastian Shaw) seems more powerful in a physical fight. Of course, there’s oodles more to choose from.

But then it occurred to me that the problem with all of these powers is that they’re too useful as offensive weaponry. These mutants are forever getting bothered by people who want to use them to achieve world domination or something, and as such, they’re always finding themselves in nasty situations. It must be terribly inconvenient for someone who is just trying to live a quiet, decent life.

So I decided that the truly ideal superpower is something that is infinitely useful to yourself, but completely useless to anyone else. After careful consideration, I’ve decided on the ability to have complete control over my sleep. Just think! — you’d never need to set another alarm or buy another pair of earplugs! You could save oodles on rent, since the surrounding environment need not be particularly peaceful. And you’d never again have to face that horrible brain fog that happens after you’ve tossed and turned all night. Anyone who has struggled with insomnia (as I have) would immediately see how incredibly useful this ability would be.

And yet, it’s completely useless as a weapon. I can see the look of complete disappointment on some supervillain’s face as he contemplates recruiting me for his team: “Your superpower is what?!!”

So voila! A more productive life, completely free of pesky solicitation. Now that’s what I call useful!

Celebrities miscarry too

Jay-Z recently revealed the stunning news that he and Beyonce had struggled with fertility before conceiving their current bundle of joy, enduring at least one miscarriage.

I was incredibly touched by this because I too miscarried my first. Physically, it was no big deal. I was only 6.5 weeks and had no complications — simply another of the 25% of pregnancies that naturally don’t make it. But emotionally, it was huge. I was only 21 and shocked that anything half so nasty could happen in my charmed American life.

Furthermore, it didn’t seem like anyone else I knew was having any trouble. As the years wore on and I struggled with infertility and pelvic pain, every happy pregnancy announcement on Facebook hit me like a smack in the face.

And celebrities pregnancies were no exception. With their perfect bodies and cornucopias of opportunity, it seemed a foregone conclusion that something as physical as pregnancy would come effortlessly to them. Me, I’ve had hormonal issues all my life, and I’ve never been terribly in shape. But take someone like Beyonce, who could dance circles around me (literally) and whose curves are daily proffered as the epitome of female beauty … who would ever guess that she would struggle with something as plebian as miscarriage?

And yet …

So here I am to express my gratitude that this power couple would be willing to share in my small circle of pain and compassion. Thank you, Jay-Z, for your gesture of personal honesty, and my heart goes out to you and your lovely wife.

I Can’t Hear Myself Snore!

Can you? Apparently, some people can … but I can’t! Not even when I’m still awake — you know, drifting off but not completely under yet. I distinctly hear my husband say, “Honey, you’re snoring!” … but not my own snoring.

It’s so weird. I wonder why?

Barefoot Winter Shoes

When the first chilly week of October crashed through the seemingly endless heat, I suddenly realized how woefully prepared I was for the winter — at least where footwear was concerned.

While my motley assortment of cheap Payless shoes usually achieved the goal of minimal arch support (by sheer lack of quality), they also had no traction and pretty much zero insulation. Having suffered a couple of embarrassing falls and several brushes with frostnip last winter, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

Which brought me to the somewhat daunting quest of finding barefoot-style winter shoes. For most people, “barefoot” is still more a running fad than a lifestyle, and my attempts to locate a non-athletic barefoot shoe a couple of years ago had turned up empty-handed. So I embarked on this search with dubious expectations.

Fortunately, a couple of years has made a huge difference. It’s still rare and mostly limited to one-off forum posts, but people are starting to express interest … and the market is answering! In an attempt to alleviate some other poor soul’s search, here’s an account of what I was looking for, what I found, and how I like it.

The Criteria

After surveying my daily habits, I decided that I would need two styles of shoe to see the winter comfortably through: warm snow boots for those 12-16 inch days, and a decent pair everyday shoes for the rest of the time.

Besides the obvious criteria (e.g. waterproof), I had a few stylistic wants:

  1. Close-toed:
    I love the fivefinger look, but I tend to get very cold feet, and since I don’t usually need access to each individual toe, I decided it was wiser to go for the “mitten” approach. Also, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on toe socks.
  2. Minimal arch support, but good traction:
    As I mentioned above, it’s actually pretty easy to find lack of arch support in cheap shoes, but they usually have poor traction. So, to get both, I would have to go high end.
  3. Stylish:
    As much as I enjoy Native American culture, I didn’t want to spend an entire winter in Pocahontas-style moccasins. I wanted my shoes to look cute in a urbanesque setting.

So the search began. Getting these basics turned out to be surprisingly difficult. I dropped by my local REI thinking that they surely had something, but all of their close-toed barefoot shoes were athletic in nature (read: garish colors and mesh fabric) and often only water resistant at best (as in jog through a puddle, not as in walking through snow). Their winter boots were all of the traditional, clunky, raised-two-inch-heel variety. So I turned to the great world wide web.

The Boots

My first search was for a good snow boot. I immediately found the Vivobarefoot Brooklyn Boot, for which I’d seen good reviews. They seemed like a decent choice functionally, but at the time, I didn’t like the way they looked: a little too fitted, a little too urban. I guess I was just going more for an Ugg boot look.

That’s when I stumbled upon a moccasin company called Soft Star Shoes that made a lovely Phoenix Boot:

Soft Star Shoes Phoenix Boot

It was perfect: Relaxed fit, easy to slip on and off, well-insulated, and charmingly rugged. Even better, they have flexible Vibram soles (albeit a bit on the thick side, at 13mm, as this review points out).

I admit I was hoping for black, which they didn’t have. However, I was very pleased to find that, when treated with Sno-Seal, they deepened to a very dark brown:

Phoenix Boots after Sno-Seal

The Shoes

My second conquest was a good pair of everyday shoes. Ideally, they would be comfortable enough for daily wear, but stylish enough to pair with a business casual outfit. I’ve always like Mary Jane style shoes and leather seemed like a natural waterproof choice, so I was super-pleased when I found Vivobarefoot’s Kali shoe.

Vivobarefoot Kali

These have received high praise from Living Barefoot, and they haven’t disappointed me yet. They’re pretty much as the review states: The soles are very flexible in every direction, but the heel takes a little bit of breaking in. You can either wear the elastic band over your foot for a tighter fit or under your foot (you just step on it) for a slip-on feel. I initially thought this would be very uncomfortable, but because the sole is actually a little curved from side to side, the elastic fits very naturally against it.

(By the way, I highly recommend buying these from PlanetShoes: They ship for free and have an amazing return policy.)

A close runner-up in this category was the Vivobarefoot Mary Jane (the Kali’s were just a tad lighter). I also later discovered the Kigo Flit, which look lovely and are slightly cheaper; however, I don’t think they’re waterproof and they lack the dress-up potential of the Kali’s.

~*~

So now that it’s snowed a couple of times, what do I think of my gear roundup? I admit, I’m superbly happy. Which is great because, believe me, after putting out a few hundred $$$, I was a bit nervous.

Any last thoughts? In hindsight, the Brooklyn boot is looking better, although I still love my Phoenix’s. Maybe they can be an extra splurge next winter? … As for the shoes, I’m incredibly pleased with my Kali’s. I do hope I have the opportunity to try the Kigo Flit’s somewhere down the line though.

Hopefully, this was helpful to someone out there trying to save their poor joints and stay warm this winter. :) The barefoot shoes market is growing by leaps and bounds –I’m very excited to see where it goes!

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