Today when I was having my coffee, looking for a photo on my iPhone, I realized the way in which I live my life can be boiled down to a few pictures and just a couple of somewhat off the wall rules of life...my life, my rules.
1. Take your coffee with cream, knock off the skim milk BS!
Life is simply not worth living if you don't partake in the best ingredients. I used to be a "skim milk kind of girl". No fat, low fat, no sugar (well, I still don't use sugar never really have), which also equates to no taste, no enjoyment, no fun. When I moved to Rwanda I started using cream in my coffee, probably because most of the milk was a bit suspect. It is surprising what a difference real flavor makes. Coffee with real cream is my favorite meal of the day. I look forward to that first cup and savor it.
A few years ago a book came out entitled, "French Women Don't Get Fat". It talks about the French paradox, French women eat bread, drink wine, indulge in three course meals and do not seem to get fat. Ultimately, they still eat less, eat more satiable calories and they walk everywhere. I am going with French on this one, pass the butter.
I watch what I eat, but I move...a lot. Yesterday I splurged, splurging is a good thing. I had a lovely lunch with my girlfriend Patricia at a restaurant up the valley about 2 miles. We walked her three dogs to the restaurant. We had bread, pasta, a small bottle of wine and a desert of coffee over ice cream with Kahlua. It was decadently heavenly. And then we walked back.
There's a great part in the movie and book, "Eat, Pray, Love", which sums up our relationship with food:
Last month my friend Steve was visiting me in Rwanda. As always, my life was consumed with work and the preparations for London. But sometimes, most of the time, you just need to stop and go with the moment. Max was going to play tennis. I looked at Steve and said, "Grab Zulu, the bottle of wine, and let's go watch a tennis match." It wasn't yet 5:00pm, my self imposed time barrier for my first glass of wine for the day. I think it was 4:00pm...close enough, it was one of the best moments with Steve the entire trip.
If the opportunity presents itself go with it and don't forget the wine.
3. LAUGH every day!
Relish in the stupid s*(t in the world. This was embroidered, well actually it may have been printed, on my bedspread at a hotel in Kahama, Tanzania. Yes, Kahama is a typical, crap hole trucker town on the road to the port city of Dar es Salaam. I am not sure even what this means exactly but whatever it does, it's hilarious.
Is "Beaustful" a word?
4. Spelling matters
One of my biggest pet peeves with the younger generation (yes, this statement officially makes me my mother) is their inability to spell due to spell checker, tweeting, and a whole new language of words and spelling. I'm old school. I still believe in capitalization, punctuation and complete sentences. I'm crazy like that. AND, I am the spelling Nazi for reasons such as seen on the sign above from a recent race in Davos, Switzerland (bad spelling is not just an American epidemic). This was supposed to say "Colnago", which is an Italian bike manufacturer. Instead is this the Italian word for Colonoscopy? Does this have something to do with our colons? Or does this refer to a colon from years past, i.e, a long time AGO?
5. Stop blaming others
I am so exhausted with the general entitlement, blame others mentality. Stupidity is not an excuse or in this case a disability although I am sure someone in the US has currently filed a lawsuit claiming they were not responsibility due to a momentary bout of stupidity, which is actually the fault of their genetic code and outside their realm of personal control.
Don't be stupid in the world. You know what the right and correct thing is to do, it's that voice in your head, which speaks to you, for f(*&k sake LISTEN to it!
6. Put the Cart Back!
Basically this follows the principle, "Do unto others...." My girlfriend has the single best blog on this subject, "Putting Back the Cart and My Tao of Life". It is a MUST read. This goes back to Rule #5...remember that voice, telling you to do the right thing....here it is in action, or in the case of this photo, inaction. Notice the proximity of the store with all the carts up against the store window in their proper corral. Then notice the two carts and their proximity to my vehicle. What, that 25 feet you need to walk to return the cart was just too taxing? That heart rate of yours spiking to 105?!
My mom always said, "Leave it better than you found it." If I borrow your car I will return it washed, full of fuel and clean on the inside. I appreciate you lending to me. If I stay at your home I will strip the sheets and wash them when I leave. And if I use a cart at the grocery store, even if my car is parked in the next county from the store, I will return it. Perhaps that's why I don't have a problem with Rule #1?
7. Be Kind to Animals, Save a Kite
A few months ago when Rafiki and I were walking to the other house for lunch during a team training camp we came across this injured bird. It is a Kite, perhaps part of the Eagle family. I am not sure, I really don't do birds. Birds freak me out just a bit, those talons and beak hurt! Unfortunately, when we found the bird, Jock was not in the country. He's the bird whisperer. I am the bird runawayer. I couldn't leave the bird lying there in the road. We needed to get him to the vet and figure out what was wrong. So, Kiki scooped him up and we took him to the vet where he was examined and given some medication for mites. There was nothing visibly wrong with the Kite so we took him home and kept him quiet for a few days. Every night he slept in a basin at the end of my bed, Zulu keeping a fatherly eye on him (or her, not sure). Every morning we put him in the yard where he would walk around and then sit on the compost pile. After about a week he started to fly and within 10 days he flew up and out of our compound. Perhaps he just needed to rehab, or was tired of all the Rwandan kids throwing rocks at him. We all need some down time. It was the first time I had to care for a bird, a rather large bird with clawwy talons which could rip your eyes out and a sharp beak, and I learned they are not so scary after all. There is something about helping those who are the most vulnerable in life whether they are animals or people. We all need to save more "Kites" in the world.
8. If your belly can be used as an armrest, it's time for a change.
Everyone...do NOT get up in my face about this rule. These are my rules, not yours, I am just living by my rules, you are free to make up your own and I will respect them.
The reason for this rule is simple. God gave me one body. I want to take care of this gift the best I can. I do not believe everyone needs to be a certain weight based on their height, but I do believe we all need to feed our machines well, exercise the machines and do regular maintenance. It makes all of us happier, healthier and less taxing on everyone in the system of life. Just be the healthiest you, you can be.
9. Sleep Well
I think if everyone got more sleep in the world we would be a much happier planet. Turn off your phones, Blackberries, iPads, computers, the TV. Go to bed at a decent time wake up refreshed. Most of us need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night consistently to operate at our maximum potential. Americans, on average, get less than 7...consistently. No wonder there are so many crabby people! Maybe we would all put the carts back if we weren't so tired to walk the 25 feet back to the store....just sayin'.
10. And finally....Pet a Cheetah
Looking at this picture I realize, maybe not the smartest move in the world. I entered a cheetah cage alone with only a Kenyan animal caretaker's assurance the cheetah was a "nice" cheetah. The caretaker was also on the other side of the fence.
I remember the feel of the fur on this amazing cat. The sound of it purring. The look in his eyes. I was assuming it was a look of "you're fine, I already had dinner tonight."
Really this rule comes down to doing something you fear every day and you will have an amazing experience filled life. We all need a bit more structured fear in our lives and the opportunity to overcome these fears. Because, the more you face your fears the more fears you tackle with less and less...fear.
Go find your cheetah....