Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lesson 241: Tail of Two Cities

Happy weekend, Readers!
Summer has officially arrived in Erie and it finally feels like it.
Time to bust out the flip flops.

Here are a few snapshots of what my city looks like at her finest:

It sure is nice to have a sister.........

...with a pool.

It gives Eloise tons of summertime fun, 
not to mention countless photo opportunities.

Where's Sam?
Is that what you are asking, Readers?
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Here's the little cherub!

I believe his exact words to me at the moment this picture was taken were:
"Save me, Mother!  I am your only son!  You can't do it because you are old and useless!"

The one kid who had to inherit my way with words................

Leo the Lionhearted is really one big feathery clucker at heart. Sam's a chicken.  He has a multitude of fears.
This day, it was of deep water.  He was convinced that the water was over his head.  All he needed to do is to extend his leg and put his foot down on the pool bottom, but he refused (loudly).

Thank the Lord for a very patient sister.

In time, Sam came around.  He always does.

The warm weather allowed for other outdoor Happy Activities:

Little league championship games,

(thanks Wendy, for the picture!)

Early morning Eloise Adventure Runs,

Father's Day.
That's my dad.  I cherish this shot I trusted my mother to take.  Dad is like photographing a rare and exotic bird.  Maybe that's because he's a bit of an odd duck.

But birds of a feather flock together, therefore my mother is a bit off kilter, too.  Her favorite game this summer is kickball.  Family driveway kickball has been a hit.  

Grandma always jumps right in for a game,

and plays All Time Defense.
(She caught five fly balls in a row during this particular game, earning the respect of her scrappy Grandson).
Grandma, you rock!

The weather is a very important influence in how one views an activity.  Did you ever sit through a graduation party in the cold, wet rain?  How about a downpour on your wedding day, or a blizzard when you are waiting for a flight to come in?   

The weather can definitely put a damper on an event, and living in Erie my whole life, I can say I've experienced many of those days.  As much as the weather can darken a mood, a beautiful day like these photos show can make you feel so good.  

It is all in how we choose to look at things.  We cannot change the weather, but we can choose how we let it   control us.  Rather than viewing my city as Dreary Erie, I cherish the many nice days we do have, and look at it another way.  

Erie, Pennsylvania made another top ten list.

10 Safest Cities in America from Natural Disasters

2. Erie, Pennsylvania

Population: 103,571
Violent Crimes per 100,000 Residents: 219
Best Known For: Presque Isle State Park, an arc-shaped peninsula in Lake Erie that is a popular destination for hiking, swimming, fishing and boating.
We can complain all we want about the weather, but at least we're safe!

Unfortunately, Erie tied for 10th in this "contest."

April 20, 2013

The fattest cities in America

11. Erie, Pa.

Percentage obese: 32.5% (tied for 10th highest)
Percentage with high blood pressure: 28.5% (93rd highest)
Percentage exercise regularly: 45.2% (3rd lowest)
Poverty rate: 16.4% (181st lowest)
Percentage with at least bachelor's degree: 24.2% (164th lowest)
One of the big problems for Erie that contributes to its high obesity rate is a lack of exercise. Just 45.2% of Erie residents claimed that they exercised at least 30 minutes a day for at least three days during the past week
This makes Eloise very sad.

Take heart!  Eloise is here to spread some cheer.  We cannot change the weather, but we can change our reaction to it.  Your thought patterns are a habit, as much as your unconscious actions are.  Don't believe me?  Check out the book that has recently piqued my interest, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Chapter 9 of the book was very interesting.  It is titled The Neurology of Free Will--Are we responsible for our habits?  A very interesting read, indeed!  William James, doctor/writer/teacher/philosopher in the mid to late 1800's had some good thoughts on the topic of free will.  They can be found on page 272 if you have a hard cover copy.  Good luck finding the spot in your Kindle (I still can't get used to that.......).  

As brilliant as he was, James was a mess.  He couldn't get his life together.  James stopped and started many careers, was constantly frustrated with his life, and eventually wound up in a mental institution.  Contemplating suicide, he decided to give himself one last shot.  James decided to conduct a yearlong experiment on himself.  From page 272:

He would spend twelve months believing that he had control over himself and his destiny, that he could become better, and that he had the free will to change.  There was no proof that it was true.  But he would free himself to believe that change was possible.  

Basically, James chose to make positive thought a practice.  He had to fake it at first, but day after day, his thoughts became a habit.  Within the year James's life came together, and his insightful work still influences us today.

So in which city does Eloise reside?  
  • Dreary Erie--the one filled with fat and crabby people whose lives are dictated by the weather. 
  • or Safe Haven---the number two city in the US, least likely to experience a natural disaster.      

You choose, because ultimately, your thinking is YOUR choice, not mine.  I choose the positive and I like to hang out with some people with like thinking.  Here is my workout group participating in a Challenge Erie 4 weekend activity.  It was a Beach Challenge.

We worked out right on the beach!

Our group gathered at Beach 1 on Presque Isle State Park, early on a Saturday morning.

We ran some trails,

and along the shoreline.

Climbed some hills,

over natural debris found along the beach,

and belly crawled in the sand.

 With teamwork, we moved logs.

When the challenge was over, we smiled because we were in it together.

Everyone knows that I am the World's #1 LOST fan, hence the pen name Eloise Hawking and my writing station, The Lamp Post.  My daughter Ellen's rite of passage into Junior High School involves watching the entire series with me this summer.  We are finishing up Season 1 this weekend.  

Eloise is a self-proclaimed connector, and I couldn't miss this one.


The Island:

Those castaways built a raft, Doc.  Maybe that should be one of our future challenges.

The blogs that involve Challenge Erie now circulate the most, surpassing the autism posts, Tim McGraw, and Moon Me, visited daily by a Blake Shelton fan in Meadville.  

Curious?  Get your tails to a workout, Erieites and decide which city you want to live in--the fat one or the safe one.  Come see what it's all about.  If I photograph your tail, I promise not to tag you.  See, I didn't do it here:  

FYI:  (I'm gonna catch hell for this one---my teammates are all good natured until the butt shots come into play)

You can get started by making fitness a habit.  Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier, and put your sneakers next to the potty.  That's where I keep mine.  I have no choice to look at them after the morning bladder relief.  My first thing in the morning workouts have become such a habit that last month, the dog woke me up  in the night to go out.  Before I even looked at the clock to consider the time, and I was fully dressed and ready for a workout at 2:42 am.

Lots of people in my workout group claim that outdoor fitness is an addiction. It made Eloise stop and think about the fine lines between addiction and habits.  When is an addiction beyond your control, and when are behaviors a habit?  Are habits addictions?  Fine lines exist like that all throughout our language.  For example, when is a person intellectually confident versus arrogant?  Can someone really pull off being sassy and brassy, or is it just a nice way of saying, "You're a bitch?"

Duhigg explains this well, and footnotes this for us on page 69:

(paraphrased in parts)
The line separating habits and addictions is often difficult to measure.  For instance, the Amercian Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a "primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.....Addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished relationships."  

By that definition, some researchers note it is difficult to determine why spending fifty dollars a week on cocaine is bad, but fifty dollars a week on coffee is okay.  

Speaking of coffee, I promised I'd disclose how much I had been drinking...

90 cups a week!!!!
If I seemed a bit twitchy, that was why.  

After I got involved with my outdoor workouts last winter, I noticed my heart racing and some mild chest pain during and after really hard running.  Given that I would down cups 9, 10, and 11 right before a workout, that was probably the reason why.  I made a decision to cut the coffee down.  I now have just one cup in the morning--7 a week! I've learned to like green tea and if I do want some in the evening, I have decaf.  I began that challenge on March 3rd, my 42nd birthday.  Three and a half months later I can say that I have not had a single chest pain.  

How hard was it to make that abrupt of a switch, Eloise?  It was rough for the first five days, and after that it wasn't that bad.  

Here's more from Charles Duhigg on why:

A physical addiction to nicotine, for instance, lasts only as long as the chemical is in a smoker's bloodstream---about one hundred hours after the last cigarette.  Many of the lingering urges that we think of as nicotine's addictive twinges are really behavioral habits asserting themselves.

Attacking the behaviors we think of as addictions by modifying the habits surrounding them has been shown to be one of the most effective modes of treatment.  

The Power of Habit has definitely been an interesting read for me.  I would definitely add it to your List of Summer Reads if you are seeking to make a change in your life.

Some other changes have been going on at the Lamp Post.  We have not one but TWO bird establishments. Robins have built nests on opposite sides of my house.   This truly is the Tail of Two Cities.

The North Establishment was built here, 'neath the grape vines that cover my back deck:

Here's my ladder I have left out.  I photograph them daily.

Here is Mother Robin North.

She has four healthy babies.

Boy, have they grown fast!
This is a span of less than two weeks!

Mother Robin South braved a nest on my front porch.  She's about a week behind North.  There is really no natural cover, but this side of the house does not get the wind and the rain that the north experiences.  

She too, laid four eggs.

I watched from peck mark,

to Hello, World!

One by one, they all hatched, too.

Man, do they eat!  

I completely understand, Mother Robin.
I can never keep enough food in the house this summer.

Eloise will be packing a cooler this weekend as we are headed out for a little summer vacation fun.  We are going to see these guys:
Zac Brown Band

For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is Zac Brown.

Zac Brown Band

He's the burly, bearded football player type, always sporting the knitted beanie.  He and his Georgia based band have some of the best lyrics in all of country music.  Sponsored by Landshark Lager, I'm hoping to try one for the first time while I listen to some tunes with my family.  

There is an amusement park linked to the concert arena, so we will be purchasing combo passes.  I have not ridden a thrill ride in years, since the dreaded Cedar Point trip that only Tracy Southern will remember.  Maybe I'll give it another try this weekend.  I'm feeling brave after reading Divergent.  If you have yet to get a copy, you have a week left until I start blogging about that book.  I am wondering which faction you would choose.

Eloise plans on jumping right into summer this weekend.  I'll follow the advice of Zac and his friends.

Jump right in-zac brown band

No problem.
Enjoy some summer snapshots set to Jump Right In by the Zac Brown Band.

Make a splash today, wherever you are.


Bonnie said...

Enjoyed the blog today. Although I have never read The Power of Habit, I have been investigating ways to motivate myself to exercise on a daily basis. It's so easy to fall off the wagon and not get back on! I did P90X and INSANITY about 2 years ago and never felt better. I took a break from it and now I'm back to square one but decided to try again. I have found which is a very techie way of forming a habit but I'm giving it a go! Also, have you watched the documentary (or read the book form) The Secret? It is on Netflix. Anyway, it is about the power of your thoughts...positive or negative. They call it the Power (or maybe it was Law) of Attraction. A study that goes back to ancient times to show how the world's most successful people were/are positive thinkers that attract/reflect positive results into their lives with the converse for negative thoughts/thinkers. I watched it awhile ago so now that I am thinking of it, I may go have another look at it....I can use a refresher course! Enjoy Zac that Georgia guy! Stay cool!

D Dski said...

Man, It's weird. My mom and I can finally agree on some artist that's not from 1980! We both like the Zac Brown Band.

Steven Krauza said...

Rafts, huh? Maybe we can paddle out to where the boat leaves from to find that "one particular Harbor."

D Dski said...

I totally support that! (I'm a swimmer.)

D Dski said...

Gina: "Those flip-flops are pretty!"