Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Define 'Obsessed'

Five things I'm obsessed with lately:

1. Catfish.

First a movie, now a series on MTV, this documentary tells stories about people who are involved in sketchy online relationships. Each episode is different, but the main point is that someone is hiding the truth about their identity - a practice know as 'catfishing.' I'm always interested in the concept of online relationships; they perfectly illustrate the truth that perception is reality. Let's face it, social networking is a vast sociological experiment in which we are all participating, and Catfish - a show that examines that phenomenon - is a fascination to me.

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2. Walking Ranger.

Oh sure, I've been a tried and true dog walker for most of my life. But I've generally thought of this daily outing as a responsibility to my dog, rather than something I do for my own benefit. Over the past year, my increasing Instagram habit has led me to see things differently, and the joy of taking pictures along the way definitely helped me see my walks as 'me' time.

Then, just this week, I read an article written by a fitness enthusiast slash outdoorsman who made an excellent point: Why do we assume that the stuffy confines of an indoor gym is the best place to work out? If you want true peace of mind as well as strength of body, go outside and get some exercise in the fresh air of the natural world. YES. Ranger's daily walk just became my workout as well as a dose of daily artistic expression, and I'm loving the mental transformation.

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3. Going the extra inch.

I'm resisting the January urge to turn over a bunch of new and highly unrealistic leaves. I don't want to change my basic behaviors or alter my ingrained habits. But I am obsessed with the idea of doing all the things I normally do with just a tich more effort and discipline.

Examples: When I end the day with a stack of fresh laundry on my bathroom counter, I put half of it away before I sleep, so there is less to face in the morning, when I would normally take care of it. I've also been chipping away at my pile of Christmas ornaments in need of repair; typically, I would shove them into the box with all the other seasonal decor and tell myself that surely I'll fix them next December. Nu-uh. Fixing them now, slowly tackling one or two problems each day.

And just to prove that this obsession isn't only about doing chores on time, I'm also taking a little extra care with my Instagram feed, intentionally seeking out certain subjects, taking a bit more time to thoughtfully compose my shots, and editing when I have the mental clarity to do my best work. All in all, I'm not trying to change my world - just looking to bring my game up a notch or two. And you know what? It feels really good.

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4. Teaching algebra.

Lately, I've been especially crazy about teaching algebra. I know. That's weird. But I love algebra because it's such an interesting, quirky, specialized world of knowledge, and I am so happy that nifty things like complex fractions, imaginary numbers, and polar vectors are part of my everyday life.  And I love teaching because it's so challenging to think of how to explain a complex processes in bite-size ideas that are easy to digest, and so fun to experience those 'aha!' moments when my students really get it. Put the two together and I'm in heaven.

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5. Kindness and respect.

Ever since my kids were tiny, I've been using this phrase to sum up my expectations for their behavior. It's short, sweet and direct. Even as tiny toddlers, they were able to grasp and explain back to me what those two words mean, and despite the incredible range and variety of objectionable behavior we've dealt with over the years, this prescription always makes sense.

But kindness and respect is not just for kids; it's good advice for all of us. In the past few months, as I seem to be dealing with my fair share of frustrating situations, I've found that a little extra kindness and respect helps me keep my head in the right place. I'm thankful for that.

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Bonus obsession: Re-watching LOST.

A lot of people got sick of this show the first time around, and even those of us who stayed with it till the end in 2010 spent plenty of time scratching our heads and saying, "Huh??" But dang it, I still love the basic premise of being stranded on a desert island, the eccentric cast of characters, and the kooky surreal plot twists that swirl through the story line like so many dust devils. 

And while sometimes the show takes itself a little too seriously, there's always one guy who makes me laugh.

Sawyer's sassy brand of humor is reason enough for me to start over at Season 1, Episode 1. Yep. I'm obsessed.

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