When I first returned to work, I could barely make it up the two flights of stairs to the office area above the factory building where I was to work. I was forced to walk more than I had in quite some time, just to get from my car to my desk or to go to the cafeteria and buy my lunch. It had been over four and half years since I had retired and I had been mostly sedentary.
A little over two and a half months later, I purchased a pair of Rockport walking shoes. A month and a half after that I purchased a Fitbit One and began quantifying my exercise, as well as most of my caloric intake. I set some goals and paid attention. With the Fitbit I was able to get a good idea of how well I was sleeping too.
Three weeks ago I upgraded to the Fitbit Charge HR, which I can now wear on my wrist as both an exercise tracker and a timepiece. It also constantly tracks my heart rate (that’s the HR part). Despite not being in the greatest of shape, my resting heartrate is consistently in the low 60s, which I believe is pretty good.
As of last week, I was fairly effortlessly walking well over two miles and climbing 10 flights of stairs each day (not at once; in total over the course of the workday). I’ve also been stretching each morning as I’m getting dressed. I have such a long way to go and, at 68 years old, I don’t expect miracles – nor do I expect to improve rapidly, like I could when I was much younger. However, I am determined to get in far better shape, which includes losing another 10 -15 lbs.
I don’t know if I’ll ever run. The problems created by being born with club feet and the subsequent corrective activities, including surgery on my left foot, make running quite problematic, as well as painful. I’m thinking of other activities I can indulge in without dealing with the impact running would have on my ankles, hips, and back, all of which are about an inch out of alignment because of my left foot.
I also pushed myself a little bit too hard, by running up those flights of stairs. My right knee has since admonished against such early foolishness and I have little choice but to heed its warning. So, I’ll still climb the stairs; I just will take them a tad more leisurely in deference to my (no doubt) age-related deficiencies.
I got a phone and a Dell desktop with Windows 7 and IE . . . while I was there.
I survived my first day back on the job, reasonably intact. I knew I would get a bit of a workout just walking from my car to my desk, but I ended up walking about 3/4 of a mile and climbing around 10 flights of stairs. The first flight I climbed was a mistake. I ended up at the end of a hall where there was a secured door to a clean room. I knew that was the wrong place to be and had to turn around a go back.
I saw close to two dozen former colleagues, the majority of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Amazing how many of them remarked on how the company would let anyone back in. 😉 They know me well.
I am prepared to put up with a boatload of shit coming from what I know is a very old-fashioned aerospace enterprise, but I think it’s going to be even worse than I imagined. Not so much because of the hierarchy, the layers and layers of rules many have forgotten the origin of, or the command-and-control mentality that I know still informs the actions of many of the org’s leaders. There are other, more subtle reasons.
One of the first things I noted was everyone communicating with email; for everything. This wasn’t all that surprising, but it was a bit disconcerting to discover I had a shortcut to Cisco’s Jabber and nobody seemed to know anything about it. I have my work cut out for me. Bottom line, really, is I’m thankful for the opportunity and it couldn’t have come at a better time financially. The fact that it puts me smack dab in the middle of the struggle to be more effective as a team, a community, an organization makes this all the more sweet.
I’m going to try to share what I learn as I learn it. I hope some will find it useful. It’s possible just sharing it will improve its utility to me and, if that’s all I accomplish, I will consider the effort a success.
The Three Trashketeers in Their Previous Incarnation
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the two basketballs and the hula hoop my youngest daughter and I had spotted in the flood control channel we passed each day on our walk to her elementary school. We named them Wendy (the first basketball we noted), Haley (the hula hoop accompanying her), and Oliver Boliver Butt (the basketball that joined this duo a few days later.)
It is with a note (not really a profound one, but a somewhat dismayed note) of sadness I am compelled to inform all that the Santa Ana winds, which were pretty fierce about a week ago, have blown, Wendy, Oliver, and even Haley closer to their final destination.
Molly the duck, and her companion, Junior had – of course – already moved on, being animate objects and all. We looked for them each day but there must not have been enough excitement available for them to stick around.
Unless someone comes along to clean the channel (or the river, which is where they will soon be), they will eventually make it out to sea and join – perhaps – with all the other flotsam and jetsam littering our Pacific Ocean.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss them . . . already do.
Wendy the BBall seems to have been joined by a relative. Say “Hi” to Oliver
I quite recently introduced you to a new friend my daughter and I encountered on our way to school. We see her every morning and have chosen to name her Wendy, partly in honor of Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) friend, Wilson the volleyball. Shortly afterward, I discovered Wendy had a couple of friends (Molly and Junior) and I shared a picture of them and added a little commentary about our walks together. Forgive me if I seem repetitive. I’m old and haven’t been out walking in decades (except for golf courses, but even that’s been a while) and it’s getting me all flustered, I guess.
As we were walking to school today we discovered our semi-stationary friend in the storm channel seems to have a new friend; perhaps a close relative. We have chosen to name him Oliver (for Dr. Seuss fans, his full name is Oliver Boliver Butt). Molly and Junior were visiting when we first passed, but when I took this picture on my return trip home, they were nowhere to be found. Wendy seems to have also encountered the company of Haley, the Hula Hoop, not to mention what seems to be a growing collection of various and sundry plastic accoutrements, all of which will be washed out into the ocean if they’re not cleaned up prior to the next rain storm.
Perhaps I should bring it to the attention of one or more of my local Facebook groups. I know there are frequent forays into what passes for a river through our fair city. I’ve walked it myself as a Rocketdyne volunteer a few years ago, picking up plastic and other things that don’t belong there. I sure wish people weren’t so damn careless with their trash. Makes you wonder if they occasionally take a crap in their kitchen or living room.
For almost a quarter century I have spent my life planted behind a desk, working and playing with computers and the online (Intra and inter) world. I exercised once in awhile but, for the most part, was content to delude myself into thinking exercising my intellect was sufficient. I knew it wasn’t true, but there was so much to learn and so many things to do, I just couldn’t get off my ass and get the exercise I needed.
This is not the entire truth. Shortly after my 46th birthday, I was summarily drafted to play in a golf tournament being conducted by the Program Office where I worked. I reluctantly agreed and decided it might be best to prepare — that is go to the driving range and hit a few balls — something I had only done once since I determined golf was for old men back when I was 15 years old.
I played in that tournament and within a short while found myself returning to the range on a daily basis. I was hooked. So I got some exercise — I stretched, swung, and walked a fair amount. I did almost every day, sometimes all day, for a few years. You can walk a lot playing 18 holes of golf; as much as five miles (if you play what they call “Army” golf — left, right, left) and I liked to carry my clubs.
Unfortunately,a few years later a crippling attack of Sciatica put a giant crimp, and an indeterminate hold, on my ability to play the game. That was followed shortly thereafter by a decision to adopt, which pretty much ended golf for me. So, for the most part, I’ve remained behind a desk.
Last month, with the entry of our oldest to middle school, which now makes it necessary for our girls to be taken to schools separately, I made the decision to walk our youngest to school each morning. I purchased some walking shoes online, downloaded an app to my phone for keeping track of my walks, and set off to change things a bit.
I should point out I’m now 66 years old and all those sedentary years don’t just drop off in the face of moderate activity, like they used to in . . . say . . . my thirties. Nevertheless, I’ve been pretty diligent and, save for Thursday mornings when I have a Rotary Club breakfast meeting to attend at 7:00 am, I’ve walked my daughter to school every day.
The walking is still a bit tiring, even though it’s only a mile I’m covering round trip. What I have discovered, however, is the difference in perception from when I’m in a vehicle. Most of us probably don’t realize it, but when we’re in our vehicles the majority of our senses are either stunted or deprived of input.
We see, but most of the things we look at are related to either safety or arriving at a particular destination. We can’t afford to actually pay attention to much else. We hear, but almost all aural input comes from inside the vehicle, unless someone honks at us or an emergency vehicle approaches, siren screaming. We smell little, save for the occasional wafting of BBQ, hamburger, or other food odors. We touch and taste nothing.
Not so on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the houses and yards of my neighbors. Sure, I’d seen them all before many times, but not with the clarity I’m seeing them now. I hear sprinklers, vehicles, children on bicycles and scooters, crows foraging, and other birds singing. I can smell the grass or even stop and smell the roses (or other flowers), and I can touch and taste anything I feel like, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of the latter.
The point is, walking puts you in the middle of things, whereas driving kind of puts you in a layer sitting on top of things. A vehicle serves as insulation, a cocoon of plastic, rubber, and steel. You can roll up the windows, turn on the radio or CD, and sever all but the most necessary of ties with just about everything around you. This isn’t possible when walking. You walk in the same layer as everything around you. Even the vehicles that pass are an important part, because you have to ensure they don’t impinge on the layer you’re in and end up seriously ruining your day.
Another benefit for me is I get to hold my daughter’s hand on the way and her incessant and zany questioning about my preferences amongst lists of things she will provide for me (“would you rather eat Jell-O or be a Zebra?”) becomes more like a game, and less of a distraction. So this walking thing is clearly beneficial for both of us, in at least two ways. I believe I’m going to continue this behavior. You should try it.
Almost every school day, starting with this semester, I now walk my youngest to school. It’s only a half mile, so I get a nice easy workout of a little over a mile. Inasmuch as I’m 66 years old and have been sitting behind a computer for the better part of three decades, I need to ease into any workout I engage in. A mile is just about right for me. It also gives me the opportunity to have some quality time with my almost 10-year-old.
Wilson’s long lost cousin resting on her ever-so-slow journey to the Pacific
We walk holding hands and talking about things. Mostly, for some odd reason, she loves to ask me questions about my preferences; sometimes total non sequiturs such as “Would you rather have pancakes or be a Zebra?” I have to admit to being somewhat of a fan of the ridiculous, but her questions sometimes disturb me. Yes . . . me.
We live in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood and the walk is actually pretty boring. On the other hand, it’s nice to slow down and actually see the houses, gardens, etc. in the area, something very few of us do when we’re in our vehicles. Every once in awhile I see something I want to either remember or share and there’s one thing we pass on the way to (and I pass on the way back from) her school. I expect it will remain where we see it until the next good rain, as it’s in a storm drain and there’s very little water flowing through it right now.
I’ve come to think of this item—pretty sure it’s a basketball—as the long-lost cousin of one of the stars of Cast Away, the Tom Hanks film where he creates a companion, Wilson, out of a volleyball. I thought I would share a picture of her. She truly looks forlorn to me and I feel the need to assuage her fears of abandonment whenever I pass by now. I wish her well in her journey, and I wish to hell it would cool off . . . and rain already.
Born in 1947, I am an officially retired pensioner who still has two teenage daughters and a desire to contribute. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Machine Learning, Knowledge Management, Decision Intelligence, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowdsourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. Since my "retirement" I have done a little bit of freelancing as an editor/proofreader, as well as some technical writing. I've also done a fair amount of Facebook marketing as well.
There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0)
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.