Living Better is Art

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Over the holidays Lochinvar and I took some time to rethink how we live. We both agreed that we need to live “better” which means changing how we approach daily tasks and time allocation. This includes spending less time in front of the television and more time pursuing creative endeavors, being more mindful of what’s happening around us and less absorbed in our cell phones, scheduling down time to make sure we feel mentally rested each day, and going out to “do things” instead of focusing on chores. (Yes, they still get done, but they are of secondary importance.)

In addition to this mental switch we have decided to treat our bodies to better living, too. Like most Americans we could stand to lose a few pounds, but more than that we just need to move. To that end, we have started building 30 minute “work outs” (and I use the term loosely) into our schedule three times a week. Getting some exercise has always been low on our to do list because (like everyone else who works 40+ hours a week) we’re tired. However, we feel that our bodies will reward us with some extra stamina for all the walking we do on annual vacations, so we’re willing to try. In addition, we have decided that exercise need not be just a four-letter word (like “walk” or “bike”) but also a five-letter word (like “dance”). To this end we are attempting to teach ourselves West Coast Swing dancing.

Yesterday I found a good video series that has the basics in small bite-sized chunks, and we gave it a whirl. (Here’s the link to Swing Shoes if you’d like to learn, too!) While neither of us is a particularly great dancer, we did have some laughs (and some frustration) trying to dance in the living room. After practicing the basic steps while counting together, we put on Pandora and tried to move with the music. Overall we did alright, I think. This morning I could still remember the basic steps we learned yesterday (which is a win for me). But when the music didn’t seem to exactly fit the beat (thank you Mr. Music aka Lochinvar) we lost the West Coast Swing and reverted to Two Stepping. Of course, if the goal is to raise the heart rate a little, this works. On the other hand, if the goal is to learn to Swing dance before our cruise next summer, this digression was not helpful. Hopefully, we’ll be able to add a couple more moves later this week.

In the interest of variety, we rode our bicycles today which is always an enjoyable activity. January in the Valley of the Sun generally holds clear skies and temperatures in the 60’s. The fresh air feels good breezing past my face, and the green belts are lush with winter grass. As an added bonus, everyone we meet who is walking a dog, playing with kids in the park, or taking an evening stroll, smiles and waves as we roll by. This friendliness is contributing to our sense of living well since it makes us feel connected to our neighborhood and the people around us who usually go unnoticed.

I really hope we can maintain our commitment to these changes. Although the “old” me wants to come home and be a couch potato, the “new” me is enjoying the sense of accomplishment and time well spent at the end of the day. Over the last couple of years our lives had become so hectic that we rushed through everything and focused all of our energy on work. But our¬†recent discussions reminded both of us that our jobs are how we make a living, but it’s what we do with the rest of our time that makes a life.

 

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