Not all pedometers are created equal: Omron HJ-720ITC:

HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer with Advanced Omron Health Management SoftwareI'm on a dedicated path to getting in shape, motivated by the fact that a friend of mine has lost 30 pounds in five months. I asked him what he'd done to get in shape and he told me one of the things was he purchased a pedometer that connects via a USB cable to his computer to he can track how much he walks every day.

I've lost count of how many different pedometers I've bought over the years and none of them worked. I had to attach them to my waistband and they'd pop off and never kept accurate steps. They were all different prices and manufacturers but NONE ever worked. Adding insult to injury, all of them demotivated me because I would go to the high school track and walk around it four times, knowing each time was 1/4 of a mile and the various pedometers never gave me a mile as the figure.

At any rate, the pedometer my friend bought is the Omron HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer with Advanced Omron Health Management Software. It retails for $50 but amazon.com has it for under $30 with free shipping. I ordered one and have been using it since the day it arrived. What I LOVE about it is that you can put it in your pocket or even a purse you carry with you and it works!!! So no more having to clip it to my waistband.

This is one smart little gadget! It tracks and differentiates regular walking and aerobic walking. It considers regular walking when you walk around at your house, work, errands, etc. When you walk for over 10 minutes straight, it tracks those 10 minutes plus however long your walk takes as aerobic walking. You set your own personal goals on your computer, using the software that comes with it, for both the steps you take during the day and aerobic steps you're aiming for. I've set my goals low so I'm getting smiley faces daily as I meet and exceed my goals. As I get better I'll raise my goals. But for now I need all the encouragement I can get and those smiley faces are doing the trick for me. [ Note: ALWAYS use the safety leash that comes with your Omron HJ-720ITC. I've added it as an item ibelow just in case you misplace yours. :-) ]


The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivered her Commencement Address, The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination, at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

I've listened to it several times and downloaded it to my computer so I can listen to it often from now on. [Most of the transcript of the talk is included in the link]. I was touched by Rowling's words and her demeanor as she delivered them--how transparent and vulnerable she came across. The message she shares is priceless and timeless.

Here are some of the highlights of her talk, quoted from her speech:
  • Balancing ambition she had for herself and the expectations of those close to her.
  • Cannot blame parents for direction she took in life. The moment you're old enough to take the wheel responsibility is yours. There's an expiration date on blaming parents.
  • Poverty itself is romanticized only by fools. What I feared at your age wasn't poverty but failure. Your idea of failure might not be far from the average person's idea of success.
  • Seven years after my graduation I'd failed on an epic scale. The fears I'd had for myself had come to pass. I was the biggest failure I knew. Failure is not fun. That period of my life was a dark one. For a long time any light at the end of my tunnel was a hope rather than a reality. Failure meant the stripping away of the unessentials. I stopped pretending that I was anything but what I was. Had I really succeeded in other things I might not have tried the one thing I felt I really belonged in.
  • Rock bottom became the solid foundation upon which I built my life.
  • Personal happiness lies in knowing life is not a checklist of achievements. Life is difficult and complicated and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.
  • Imagination is not only the unique human capacity to envision that which is not...it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experience we have never shared.
  • Human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. They can think themselves unto other people's places.
  • Many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental acrophobia and that brings its own terrors. The willful unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
  • "What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality." Plutarch
  • We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.
  • "As is a tale so is life, not how long it is but how good it is is what matters." --Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Rowling's message to the Harvard graduates applies to all of us. Whatever schooling we've received, whatever skills we've learned, whatever awards we've garnered, whatever blessings, privileges, capacities are ours to share with the world at large:
"We touch other people's lives simple by existing... But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives. Your intelligence, capacity for hard work, education you've earned and received gives you unique status and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, live, protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government has impact beyond your borders. That's your privilege and your burden. If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice. If you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless. If you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose realities you have helped to change."
Watch the video, take her words to heart, and come back and tell me what you think about them.


Mujer, by Orishas

I very much enjoy listening to the music of ORISHAS. This song, MUJER, has a nice beat and great lyrics. The words talk about what many women have gone through and put up with over the ages, from domestic violence to being ignored and not respected. The idea that women are considered still today in parts of the world second class citizens is talked about. It touches me to hear men sing this tribute to women. I've translated some of the words below.

"Mujer te canto este himno, traigo la pura verdad, incierto y crudo destino, mi canto contigo esta" [Woman I'm singing this hymn to you, bringing you the truth, uncertain and crude destiny, my song is with you.]

The song goes on with words such as, "in the shadows lives this precious being not able to let her voice be heard, trying to resist and work through the centuries without giving up... giving love... it's time for the men of the universe to write about this issue, this situation... this has been the past history but victory hasn't been gained, we need to continue on with strength and all together fight for what we love, giving women progress, even though I know that to attain this there's a long ways to go..."

Good beat and good words to remind us of the value of womanhood.