You Can Make Up Rules, Too

The July Project: Day 9

A few days ago, I mentioned the rules of the exercise game that I’ve been playing:

Rule #1: Do something every day.
Rule #2: Everything counts.

On Wednesday, someone who’s been reading this blog lately said to me, “I just can’t exercise every day.”

I replied, “I’m not saying that you should …[MORE]

Give Up the Game, or Change the Rules?

In some of her workshops, my friend and sometime coach Mattison Grey has offered a theory that everyone is about either fame, money, or winning, and that making this distinction can help you figure out how to help people get what they want.

I don’t know whether that idea holds water for everybody. I can’t speak for people who are about money or fame, and it seems to me that there might be all kinds of other things to be about—love, pleasure, or security, for instance. But as Mattison explained it to me, since my orientation is toward winning, the way for me to reach any goal I’ve set is to turn it into a game I can win …[MORE]

My Lunch with Melanie

We met for lunch at Café Red Onion. She ordered the spinach and goat cheese enchiladas. I ate the usual pupusas revueltas—fat cornmeal pancakes stuffed with shredded pork and other good things.

We talked about writing. Since that topic encompasses everything else that we both live and breathe, the conversation covered a lot of ground.

MelanieShe talked about inspiration and the nocturnal activities of her particular muse. There was a voice that came to her one night to dictate notes for years’ worth of writing projects. I speculated about the creative unconscious, the unknown workings of the mute machinery of our brains that collects, organizes, catalogs, and stores images, sounds, smells, emotions, and abstract ideas and then assembles them into dreams, long-term memories, and all the wonders of fantasy. I wondered why she was so eager to give the credit for her brilliance to something outside herself …[MORE]

Go Ahead, Play With Yourself

The July Project: Day 19

I’ve written elsewhere about my exercise rules and about the idea of making a game out of achieving goals.

Scoreboard

I play a lot of games in my exercise routine. I make up arbitrary rules and give myself extra points on an imaginary scoreboard for achievements above and beyond the normal daily routine. I’m not always sure whether these tricks help keep me motivated, or just give my idle mind something to do.

Here’s a rule I made up tonight:

  • Extra points are assessed for walking on a day so humid that you finish the outing dripping wet from head to toe …[MORE]

Catch My Breath

The July Project: Day 11

Once in a while you might have a day when nothing goes quite right,

and all your best-laid plans fall flat,

and you’re tired because you haven’t had enough sleep all week,

and you have a million things to do,
but everything takes longer than you thought it would,

and distractions keep cropping up,

and in your panic to get something accomplished, you relax the rules, you try to quiet the sense of panic by stuffing yourself full of snacks,

and you know you’re doing it,
but you’re in that bruised mood where you can’t be bothered to care,

and then you force yourself back to banging away on tasks that refuse to yield an inch of progress,

and finally,

finally,

finally it’s late enough in the afternoon to say, “Screw it, I’m going to the park, at least I’ll get some exercise,”

and you think to yourself for about the thousandth time:

If you can’t do everything, you can at least do something.

Make a Game of It, Then Play to Win

The July Project: Day 3

The first time I got serious about exercise, I became a member of the YMCA in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. The Y offered an incentive program for runners. They gave out 6 x 9 index cards on which you could record your miles by inking in a grid of 500 tiny boxes. When you filled the card, you turned it in with $5 and got a downtown ymca 500‑mile club T‑shirt.

I filled up two cards, so I also got a 1,000‑mile club T‑shirt before I left Knoxville. I worked hard for those cheap T‑shirts. Even though the card program relied on the honor system, I scrupulously discounted fractional miles and pushed myself harder every time I neared the end of another row of boxes.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2004 …[MORE]

Update: Walking Wherever—Within Reason

Note: This post is a sequel to Walking Every Day, Wherever I Find My Feet.


DallasOn my way to Dallas yesterday, I ran into a traffic delay in Spring and another one near Centerville, where I-45 was reduced to one lane for about five miles. It took more than half an hour to crawl through the construction zone. So I didn’t get into town until about 8 p.m., only to discover that in the two months since I made my reservation, I’d somehow confused my hotel (the Marriott Suites Market Center) with another one nearby (the Marriott Residence Inn Market Center). That mistake added another half hour to my already-too-long journey.

Nevertheless, as soon as I finished checking in, I dressed in walking attire and headed up the freeway to Bachman Lake …[MORE]