Elephant Adventure 37: The Wind

[insert fart joke here]

The exercise: Become aware of the movement of air.

The wind. It’s everywhere, almost always. I know this, because when everything is still I notice something is different.

Wind is what makes plants come alive before our eyes. Wind is what the countless fans in our device and appliance filled lives produce. Wind is snoring. It’s voice. It’s sound. It’s the fog before my eyes, the person walking by, the fly buzzing across the room.

Wind is power. It spins turbines and shapes landscapes.

Wind is change. Ubiquitous, constant change.

Elephant Adventure 38: Listen Like a Sponge

Janky Bachi Nail

I’ve spent the last couple months since my bachi strike with a bloody nail. Yesterday, I realized a new warped nail was growing in under the old nail with a layer of dried blood between the two. So basically the old top nail is at some point going to fall off, and it’s looking like this will happen before the new nail underneath reaches the tip of my finger. So after months of bloody nail, I’m going to have weeks of partial warped nail. Lovely.

This has not prevented me from don donning my heart out at class.

Speaking of class, after this week’s class, a few of the veteran students stayed behind to rehearse for an upcoming performance. When they put performance focus and energy into a song, it looks and sounds really good! Lots of energy and flair. So-re!

New New Pattern

Mills Mess is settling in pretty well. I haven’t tried for a record yet, but 10 Messes in a row isn’t a terrible stretch so it’s part of ThePattern+Another2.

What’s the other new addition to the Pattern? After 423’s inside-out tosses and the W’s columns, I realized I could be doing an outside-in variation as well, with overthrows.

The New New Pattern: 10 counts of cascade, tennis, left shower, right shower, 423 inside-out, 423 columns, 423 outside-in, reverse cascade, and Mills Mess. Not always in the same order. The order depends on my mood, although I do have to do reverse cascade as a lead in to Mills Mess.

Also, I managed a pretty-for-me-at-times 56 catch four ball today. I suppose by definition if I can get 56 catches it has to be somewhat orderly. Progress!

Don Don Driving Range

New month, new students! We rewound a bit and spent some time on basics, as well as a review of one of our core pieces.

My hands were glad. And so was I. We’d been going so fast the last few weeks I hadn’t really had a chance to pay attention to my form.

That’s one thing I’ve learned from hockey and juggling and swimming and climbing: You’re never too advanced to work on basics.

Banco de América

I’m not sure when this happened, but today I realized I’ve been interacting with my bank in Spanish.

This isn’t something I purposely set. While I was pleased that it actually took me a few weeks to notice the change, I don’t trust my Spanish enough to bank on it.

I’m guessing their app picked up my phone’s language setting and propagated it to my account.

In other news, I started a Spanish podcast this morning and understood everything in the first few sentences. It felt kind of surreal.

What A Mess!

I found myself in downtown San Mateo with a bit of extra time, so I headed to the park to see if Jerry the Juggler was around. He was. What luck!

I showed him where I was with my two and four ball patterns. One takeaway from this: I need to make higher tosses on the four ball. I’ve known this, but right now I’m trying to balance high enough to buy myself time and low enough to not be running all over the place adjusting for inconsistent tosses. Ultimately, I know I need to learn to toss both high and with consistency.

Still, he showed me the beginnings of five ball by having me cross the four ball ball pattern. This one’s gonna need quite a bit of work.

In three ball land, Jerry got me to the point of doing a few rounds of Mills Mess! I’ve been working on the first 2-3 tosses of this for a bit now, and after some encouragement and several repetitions I was able to go back and forth a few times. What got me over the hump? A differently colored 3rd ball, so I could visualize the pattern it makes.

We even got a couple rounds of reverse cascade transitions into Mills Mess.

Progress! Yay!

Elephant Adventure 36: Are You Overlooking Something?

The exercise: Stop and become aware of what you’re ignoring.

Look up, listen, feel. We purposely block out so much as a matter of routine, and miss so much of what’s going on around us.

We can’t notice everything all the time, but it’s amazing how much is happening all the time when you open yourself up to take it in.

Here’s a baby Elephant to take with you: Surfaces. In nature, the color and/or texture each surface is the result of erosion and or evolution. In human-made environments, most surfaces are the result of deliberate choice, design, and debate.

Everything we see and touch came to be that way for a reason.

Elephant Adventure 37: The Wind

Birdful

It’s beautiful out today, so I took my meditation bench outside for a bit. The sun, the breeze, the birds, the birds, more birds.

There are all sorts of birds all over my neighborhood. Songs fill the air.

This also explains why there’s always poop on my car.

Limbo Exit Strategy

“How’s swimming going?” my coworkers will ask on occasion.

They remember this because they find adult swim classes amusing. When I told them about my classes last year, some of them exclaimed, “My 4 year old is taking swim classes!” I’m pretty sure they pictured me at the pool towering over a bunch of preschoolers.

My answer to that question these last few months is that I’ve been in limbo. I’m beyond adult beginner classes where instructors spend the majority of their time with students who are afraid to put their head in the water. I’d like to improve my technique and become more confident and efficient.

In short, what I’ve needed is a swim coach.

I found myself on Craigslist after one of these conversations a couple weeks ago and came across this:

Yesterday, we had our first lesson.

This is my first swim instructor who takes a drills-based approach to things. It’s probably the result of her competitive swim and water polo backgrounds. I’m a big believer in learning things different ways from different people, and found this new-to-me approach refreshing.

I had said I wanted to learn to tread water, so went over the concept of sculling in various positions. I tried it upright, on my back, on my front. I tried it to keep myself afloat, and later to propel myself forward.

I have a lot to work on here, but I have some drills in mind that will help me get a better feel for the the motion.

We also worked on egg beaters. They’re mostly still a mystery to me, but we did notice that I was leaning too far back trying to do these. I’ll work on them some more with my overall body position more forward.

I had also said I wanted to feel more confident in my freestyle breath, so we worked on having me kick on my side, with one arm extended, my head turned, and chin tucked. The trick to doing this and not having my nose underwater was a combination of arm extension, leaning my head on that arm while tucking my chin, and some other still-subtle-to-me body adjustments. I was eventually able to do this and breathe at the same time.

Related to rotating to my side, it seems I reach too far to the center with my arms. So we worked on having my arms wider on each stroke, more like Superman and less like yoga.

Then there was the concept my arms in general. I’m accustomed to thinking about what my hands are doing, completely neglecting the existence and role of the things they’re attached to. I’m starting to think I can generate a lot more power if I include them in equation. More to experiment with here, especially on the breast stroke.

Because I like lists…

Freestyle:
– Arms enter the water wider.
– Try that exaggerated side breathing position on the breaths.
– Don’t pause or slow down for the breath. Think metronome!

Breast stroke:
– Wide arm stroke to propel in addition to rising for air.

Backstroke:
– Keep those arms moving! I tend to rest with both arms by my side between strokes. No need for that.

Treading water:
– Work on sculling.
– Don’t lean back while egg beatering.

We worked in the area of the pool where the depth transitions from 4 1/2 feet to 9 feet. I mostly stayed where I could touch the bottom if needed, but periodically floated out to the deeper water and calmly swam my way back to the “safe” zone. Yay me for not freaking out! That’s definite progress.