Scarlett’s Letter September 25, 2013

How alarming.

When I travel, I always use my iPhones for my morning alarm. I set two on one phone, my personal phone, an AT&T phone and two on my other phone, my work phone, a Verizon phone. I figure I have my bases covered in so doing. I never use the clock radio provided by the hotel. Ever. As a matter of fact, if there is a clock radio anywhere in my midst at bedtime, I turn it around so the time cannot be viewed. I used to be a terrible insomniac. I learned that we all wake up many, many times during the night. Most of us just don’t realize it and fall right back asleep without any issue, and so don’t remember waking and, therefore, aren’t concerned with it. If there is a timepiece visible, however, if you wake up enough to note the time, you remember waking up. You usually end up accounting for all the times you awake each night, and before long, it kind of stresses you out. The more you stress out about waking up, the more you wake up. If you turn clocks so you can’t see them, and learn to manage your stress, soon, especially if you eat healthfully and exercise regularly, you’ll sleep much better, most of the time.

Last night was my second night at this hotel in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Yesterday morning, the clock radio alarm did not go off. The first of my four iPhone alarms did, at which point, I quickly turned off the others and got out of bed. I got ready and went to work. It wasn’t until I got to work that it occurred to me that I’d forgot to leave a tip for the housekeeper. I don’t tip a whole bunch, just a couple of bucks and a note saying “Thanks!” I’m pretty fastidious and other than a couple of long, curly hairs on the floor and a few towels that need replacing in the bathroom, things are spotless. I even make my bed. But, I forgot the tip this morning and I felt a little bad.

This morning at 5:00 am I was bludgeoned out of sleep by the loudest most obnoxious foreign noise I’ve ever experienced, the clock radio. It was turned against the wall in my dark room, so I groped for the offensive, shrieking object, unsuccessfully, had to flail my arms about until I found the light switch, try to focus, grab the clock radio and then try to figure out which buttons to slide or push or press to make the noise stop. At last I succeeded.

My alarms were set for 6:00, 6:01, 6:02 and 6:03. That gave me ample time to have breakfast, get ready and walk to my clients’ office building conveniently located immediately across the street from the hotel. As usual, I’d packed my workout gear, and, as usual, had every intention of working out every day, morning or night, however it was managed, and, as usual, didn’t. I’ve been eating out every meal for weeks and I’m beginning to fill my jeans and slacks out more than I like. I feel lousy. I have a marathon coming up. So, I’m laying there, thinking about all of this, the light again turned off, hoping for another hour of sleep. Finally, I did what the well-intended, disciplined inner me hoped I would. I threw the covers back, turned the light on, strode over to my suitcase, pulled out my gym clothes, went downstairs to the hotel gym and did a full hour of cardio. I felt amazing all day long. And I was sure to leave a tip with a nice thank you note for housekeeping.

I did not set that alarm clock. And there is no way, no how, that I slid the lever to the on position, after examining it, when I turned the clock around for the night. It would’ve taken a certain amount of force to engage the slider and move it the distance required for the alarm setting to be on. I examined all of this forensically. That’s what I do. The only person I know of that entered my room in my absence was the housekeeper. I mean, I’m the only one here, I travel alone 99.9% of the time. My daughter accompanies me to New York City, but most certainly not to New Jersey. I could account for both keys the front desk gave me, so it’s not like someone obtained one of my keys, entered my room and turned the alarm on! That would be absurd, anyway. And, certainly, if someone broke in, they would certainly want something more than to turn on the alarm on the clock radio. Like my shoes. Or my chocolate. Or my wine. I had to wonder, did housekeeping set the alarm because I didn’t leave a tip? No. That couldn’t be. Would they do that? I’ve forgotten the tip before and this kind of thing didn’t happen. But, maybe less obvious retaliation has occurred that went unnoticed. A dirty glass? Or that time the shampoo was replaced with hand lotion. Or that other time that the blue mouthwash was replaced with blue shower gel. That was gross. I buy and carry my own mouthwash now. And read labels on tiny bottles very, very, very carefully.

Come to think of it, for some reason, yesterday afternoon, my hotel room door was stuck shut. The lock disengaged, but it was physically stuck. To exit and enter I had to tug and pull and really use brute force. Today, it is fine. Had something sticky been applied to the door to make it stick? I’m not usually a suspicious person, I rarely adhere to conspiracy theories. But, these little things kind of had me bothered. So, yah, I made double darned sure I left a tip when I went to work this morning. When I returned, the door opened with ease and the alarm was off. I went ahead and turned it on. For 5:00 AM. I’m going to get up and work out again tomorrow. I reset all my phone alarms for 5:00 AM, too. I learned two lessons from my alarming morning; 1) always leave a tip and 2) it isn’t all that difficult to motivate oneself to get out of bed an extra hour early for an energizing and beneficial workout.



Scarlett’s Letter August 13, 2013

I did it! I went to the gym in the morning! I have been trying to switch to morning workouts from my usual evening workouts. If I work out early in the morning, whether I run, or go to the gym for cardio, yoga or strength, I can take my shower and be done for the day. I have that happy glow you only get from working out all day long and I am ready for whatever the day may have to offer. For example, if I go out to lunch and have a beer, or go to a tasting room, then my work out isn’t compromised, or, worse yet, neglected. This is a tough switch for me. While I tend to be an early riser, early morning is my intellectual, creative time. Physically, I tend to gain momentum and energy as the day goes on. But working out in the late afternoon or evening means having to do the whole shower thing, again, if I want to do anything in the evening, which means I don’t often do anything other than work out in the evening. I’m hoping this switch will work and that my physical and intellectual energy time slots will just reverse themselves to accommodate.

There is a track work out this evening I should be attending. In preparation for my upcoming marathon in December, my training really needs to include speed workouts, which are typically done at a track. I need to learn to embrace this form of training, at least once a week. The local running club in Napa, the Vinerunners, has a well coached track workout tonight and on most Tuesdays. I have yet to go. My Sacramento running club also does track workouts on Tuesday, but that’s a long way to drive, in commute traffic, for something I am resistant to doing. I’m just not a track person, and that goes for more than just running. When I run, I much prefer varied terrain and scenery, it stimulates the mind and the senses. When I horseback ride, I prefer trails to the arena, and if I were a race car driver, I know I’d much prefer road racing to track racing, again, for the scenery, the challenge of the curves and hills and the varied terrain. So, how is it, then, that I can stand to do cardio at the gym?

I have a very definite, almost OCD relationship with my cardio routine at the gym. I am very particular about the equipment, the time, the cadence, the resistance and everything. I joined my gym, specifically, because they were the only gym in town that had the brand and style of stair stepper I like. Period. Did I mention that I was a little particular? My routine is an hour and when I am finished, I am head to toe dripping with sweat, heck, I’m that way five minutes in. I don’t “phone it in” as Jillian Michaels says. So, for someone who is so into varied terrain and scenery, how do I manage working out on the same four pieces of equipment several times a week? I do math. Math is not something I am very gifted at. Yes, I know, I’m an accountant, but I wouldn’t be without the advent of software and spreadsheets. I occupy my mind on the cardio equipment by calculating percentages, for example, if I’ve worked out so many minutes and seconds out of a total of so many minutes and seconds, what percentage complete am I? It probably helps a little that my stair stepper machine, the crossramp elliptical with arm levers and the treadmill all overlook the lap pool. And the spin cycle overlooks the martial arts/basketball rumpus room. I usually have something interesting to look at when I’m not staring at the number of calories I’ve burned, the elapsed time, the mileage or when I’m not doing math in my head.

This morning as I approached the only free stair stepper, of two. On the other stair stepper, a mere foot away, was an incredibly sweaty man. He had full size bath towels, several, spread out all around the machine to catch the sweat that was flying from his pores. The machine I intended to use was splattered. Again, being a little particular about the order and preference of my cardio machines, I had to make a difficult decision. Stair stepper first next to incredibly sweaty guy? Or later, and mess with my chi. I thought about Eleanor Roosevelt. Yes, Eleanor. I always think of Eleanor when I have a fearful decision to make. “Eleanor once said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” She is also quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” So, I did. I worked out on the stair stepper next to extremely sweaty guy. Good thing I did, because he was sweating up a storm on that piece of equipment for 55 out of the 60 minutes I was at the gym. He finished a few minutes before I completed my last of four cardio machines. Had I waited, I still would’ve had to work out next to him, he’d have been, by that point, even sweatier, and I’d be all out of order on my machines and my chi would be officially messed up. Don’t let fear rule your decisions.

Before going to the gym this morning, I did have breakfast with Mom. To perfect my new morning schedule, I am going to have to begin a little earlier. There is that strange time vacuum that occurs at the kitchen table in the morning. We are melding better these days, she lets me do my contemplative journaling almost without interruption and I don’t go into an explosive fit conniption if she does interrupt me. I’m getting better. She reads her newspaper, silently, more and more. I only have to remind her once a week or so that I choose not to read the newspaper and so also choose not to have it read to me. But, every now and then, a newspaper article will be shoved toward my place setting and I am supposed to look up from what occupies me, and read it. Today, it was a Paella recipe, she knows I like paella, but, truthfully, after reading a few recipes, I’ve decided I’ll never make it, I’ll just go out to a restaurant. It’s intense. Besides, I can get any recipe I want online in about no time. I know, it’s the thought that counts. Before I moved in I’d get an envelope, regularly, with half of the newspaper clipped out. And coupons. None of which I ever read or used. So proximity matters little. I am always going to have bits of newspaper shoved at me. Though I am committed to going completely paperless, I suppose I’ll survive the occasional attempt to litter my life.

As the day progresses and work is through, I feel a little lost. I am all dressed up and made up and have nowhere, really, to go and nothing, really, to do, other than shop or wine taste, and I really shouldn’t. Almost seems a waste. I have plenty on my to-do list, and did spend part of my afternoon at Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar where it was cool and peaceful and not my usual scenery. I did some work there until it was no longer peaceful, thank you Elaine. Bless her heart. I think I will write down all the projects I hope to accomplish this week on bits of paper. I need to organize my shoes, shred mail sent by everyone I asked to go paperless with, shoot my next video, go through at least five boxes in the garage, and wash my car.  Then I’ll select one bit of paper out of one of my many, adorable hats and fill the rest of my evening with that task. Or not. Then to bed early, I have to get up and run tomorrow morning. First thing!

Browns Valley Yogurt  and  Espresso Bar, pre-Elaine.
Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar, pre-Elaine.
... or I could do this.
… or I could do this.