Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beating the heat with a little shadow walking

 When I was a kid, my mom used to announce on some summer days that "It's too hot to eat!"

I get that. But in Arizona in the summer, you have to eat eventually.  It's really too hot to do anything. But you gotta live.

Early this evening, I was antsy. I had to move. I needed a little exercise. Haven't you heard? Sitting is the new cancer?  And besides, my Jawbone UP told me I needed about 2,500 more steps today.

It was 111 degrees out. (It's 9:40 at night now and it's only cooled off to 105.) Yet the sun was casting long shadows, so I went shadow walking.  I had a good walk, nearly 3 miles, moving from shadow to shadow.  It kind of became a game. How long could I keep going without stepping back into the sun?

I enjoyed my shadow walking. It took my mind off the heat. You gotta live.  You gotta move. And now my UP's telling me I gotta go to bed.

Robin, Phoenix

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What color is your parachute? Or what will you make of your parachute?

 For the last three years, six semesters to be precise, I have co-taught a 400-level required journalism course with John Dille, the wise man in the video above.

John and I have made a great team.

We teach a course about the Business & Future of Journalism. John is awesome talking about 'Big B' Business. And I share lots of information about what newsrooms are doing these days to attempt to guarantee that they'll be around in the Future.

John had taught the class on his own for two semesters before I signed on. It didn't take long for us to get in step with each other, using some of what John had taught before and adding new wrinkles to the class syllabus. The topic is a moving target and we are constantly updating our class content. But even so, after six semesters together, we've gotten into a pretty smooth routine.
John and me at graduation 2014.

We were lucky to have each other. 

I was very lucky to teach with such a caring, passionate educator and journalist. And I think the best students leave our class understanding that too.

In the final minutes of the final day of each semester, we offer some last words of advice to our students. I tell tell them not to be afraid to change directions along the way and to remember that they are snowballs - always accumulating knowledge, experience, skills that will serve them well no matter what they do.

John tells them the story caught on video above.

Because Spring 2014 at the Cronkite School of Journalism has been our final semester (we're going to take a little break), I was moved to record the tale that John always shares during these last minutes that we still have the students' attention. It's a winner. Even graduating seniors stop and take note. You should watch it.

Our class from the Spring 2013 semester. They look extra-serious because they are taking a quiz.

Robin Phillips, Phoenix 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Memory: When the head lets go, the heart holds on

My mother-in-law is fading.  She has Alzheimer's.

It's OK.  She's happy.  She remembers her kids, when to go to meals, the walking route around her complex.

She remembers she loves a cup of tea, and R&B, and riding in the car.  And most of all she remembers her husband, the love of her life who's been gone since 1996.

But a few weeks ago, she forgot me.

I hadn't been by to visit for a couple of weeks and when my name was brought up, she was a little fuzzy on just who I am and what I mean to the family.

I picked her up on the next Saturday morning so she could spend some time with me sitting on the porch, reading and drinking a cup of tea. When I first appeared, she cocked her head looking a little unsure and asked "What's happening?!"  She was ready to go for a ride, but not quite sure who she was going with.

The confusion didn't last long. Once we were in the car and heading toward home, Iris relaxed. We made that cuppa and then sat for hours, justing hanging out in each other's presence.

And family told me that she talked a lot that next week about the fun morning with Robin sitting on the porch. That was her Perfect Moment.

My Perfect Moment was when Iris truly did remember me again.

Robin, Phoenix 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Getting Healthy With My Selfie

Sue Green is co-creator of SkinneePix app and co-owner of Pretty Smart Women.

So this week I began a project, I began to get healthy by using my Selfie. My company created an app for Selfies called SkinneePix that allows you to take your picture and then take 5, 10 or 15 pounds off it if you want to. When I took 15 pounds off I was astounded. Not only was it a small amount of “weight”, but I found  that I felt like I looked better. And I thought to myself, hey,  “I could lose 15 pounds and look like that, not such a big deal.”

Now, I need to lose more than 15 pounds not because someone called me fat or that I feel bad about myself, but because I have reached a point where I want to feel healthier about my body. I need to start treating it better, and the first step is to try and get rid of some of the extra weight I am carrying around.

I have tried just about everything, exercise programs, dieting, bullying, juicing. Nothing ‘s worked because I think I kept concentrating on the large amount of weight I needed to lose. But, what I am finding with the SkinneePix app is that it allows me to think about losing the weight in small, attainable amounts, and it allows me to see my progress, a few pounds at a time. Not concentrating on my body, but on my smiling face.

So, I have begun by taking two pictures of myself with SkinneePix. One picture is at zero pounds taken off and the other is at 15, and I have shared them with friends on Facebook and have them on my phone. No longer am I putting a picture on the fridge taken when I was like 75 lbs. lighter. That just wasn’t motivation for me; it set me up to fail when I messed up and then had to face that picture when I got home.

The SkinneePix app photos help me see that I don’t have to get back to that old weight. I just have to get to a point where I feel healthier. Whether that is 15 lbs, 30, 45, whatever, I will make this journey in 15-pound increments. And when I am having a bad day or bad moment, I will open my phone to that picture and look at my smiling face. There are no packaged meals, or shakes or anything like that. It is “me and my Selfie.” I walk with my phone in one hand with my Selfie pic from my SkinneePix app smiling up at me. Today I walked further than I have walked in a year!

So will this work? I certainly hope so because I want to feel healthier. But I know that how I feel is only up to me. I am not comparing myself to anyone else. I don’t care what society thinks about how I should look. I used to, years ago, but not anymore. Now, I only care about how I feel, and I will decide when to stop or whether to carry on.

What I do know is that I reached this point because of my SkinneePix app, so I will continue to use it and encourage others because I believe it will help, not hurt!

If you want to join me, you can get your own SkinneePix app.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Perfect Gift on My Last Day At Work ... at least for the moment

This might seem a bit strange to be considered a Perfect Moment, especially since it happened on the day I decided to take medical leave from work to take care of my health.

I had been fighting the doctor’s advice for a while, thinking I could “Superwoman” through just about anything. But I eventually found that just because I might want to do something in my head and heart, the body does not always agree.

So, the time came to tell my students, and I have to admit I was able to do it without crying which had been my big challenge. Because they mean so much to me, but also because this would be the first time in 30 years I was not working.

I made it through the first group, and then on my last day had to tell the second group of students. It helped that some of them had already heard!
At the end of the day, I did not realize they planned to have a small going away send-off for me.

I was doing just fine until my boss started talking about how 8 years ago we had joined together to re-launch this Newswatch program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and how much I meant to him and the more than 800 students we have taught during our time together. I was OK, until his voice started cracking.

Then it was my turn to speak. I think I was able to get out the words “Thank you” and “Remember to work hard and have confidence in your skills” before all of a sudden I felt the tears start to well up. It was incredibly emotional and all I could do at that point was say, “Just use what I taught you” and then I held up my hand and added, “I’m done.” 

That’s when it started, the students all started hugging me, one by one, some crying, all saying I was the toughest teacher they had ever had, but they were so going to miss me because they knew I cared.

One even stood for a while sobbing on my shoulder. I was there comforting her after spending two semesters seeing her at least two days a week, sometimes more, and really enjoying watching her grow.  Her feelings were so raw, and heartfelt, and then I started crying again with her.

Another student even hugged me and pressed a note into my hand saying please read this letter later. It was a note telling me she appreciated my no-bullshit approach to things, and loved that I challenged everyone to be better. She thanked me for caring about her.

No, I think it goes the other way, I thank all my students for caring about me. They called; they wrote on Facebook; they instant messaged me. Former students I hadn’t heard from in years, reaching out to say “Hang in there, get better and get back to work!”

I was touched at the overwhelming support and love I have felt since making this tough decision to finally put myself first. I am a very blessed woman with amazing students, wonderful, supportive colleagues and a wife who is with me every step of the way. I also have amazing doctors! Just knowing all these people are behind me, supporting me, hoping to see me back walking the halls of Cronkite again and asking “What else ya got?” in our morning news meetings gives me hope, and courage, and the will to also get healthy and get back.

So, my Perfect Moment was in getting the opportunity to really know how much people care for me, and that is a gift I will remember forever.

Sue, Phoenix


Sunday, February 23, 2014

So long, well-loved furniture

Our friend Judy has lived with a terror in the form of a destructive dog for two years.

She's finally found a new home for the crazy canine, but she's been left with a house full of furniture that's been gnawed on or ripped open.

This weekend, we were able to come to the rescue by offering her some furniture. (And, no! We never offered to take that devil dog off her hands.)

Judy's buddy, Rick, loaded up the furniture in his truck to take home to Judy this morning. Truly a Perfect Moment. He was a little bemused, but were were thrilled. And Judy called to thank us, choked up some because this is just one more step in creating a calm and peaceful place to live.

The timing was perfect for us.

The chair, ottoman and coffee table we gave Judy this weekend were all from our early days together. They are worn. And we squeezed every bit of use out of them in the 14 years we've had them. But, we have no kids and no pets, so they must look like brand spanking new to the newly dog-free Judy.

It's such a simple thing that people do for each other all the time.  But it helped make our weekend perfect.  Thanks, Rick!   You're welcome, Judy!

Robin & Sue, Phoenix

Friday, January 10, 2014

Diana 'sure I can do that' the Handiwoman

Woman power.  Well, woman with power tools.

We met Diana last year when we needed someone to help whip our house into shape before putting it on the market.

She's great.  She's is truly handy.  And she comes with a truck full of tools. And she welcomes help from the homeowner.  "If you help me get it done faster, it'll cost you less."

Today, Diana replaced an old dishwasher.  I helped a little, but mostly listened from my home office.

This is what I heard:
E.T., take this smelly old dishwasher away. 

"eeuuww. disgusting."

drill sounds ... "Ahhhh. I wondered if I'd ever use that tool."

"hopefully your new one is small enough.. oh, I see, I got it."

"ah, there we go."

"hmmm.. is there a hosey thing?"

"interesting" said this a lot.

"oh. that's not nearly long enough."

"hehehheheee heh heh."

whispers: "ok. so that might work."

"I don't even see a part that looks like that."

"Ok now. How do we do that?"

"Do you have any duct tape?"

"oh, hey, there you go. You'd be looking for that ... eventually."

"that's what I thought.  hhuuhh, okay."

"come on, gitinthere. ah, gotcha."

Well, the new dishwasher sure did gitinthere.  It's all set and the kitchen's back to normal.

And, we've come up with another job or two so Diana will return soon.  Ahhh, there we go.

If you're in the Phoenix area, call her - Diana Hanna, 480-612-2455. She's great. She's a bit of a MacGyver. And entertaining if you listen closely.

Robin, Phoenix

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jan. 1, 2014: Getting moving

PHOTO:  Jan. 1, 2014 getting moving, originally uploaded by RobinJP.

Yes, getting moving. That's what I call this photo. I could also call it FacePalm.

My only New Year's resolution for most of my adult life has been a simple one. I believe in not setting myself up to fail. I'm not going to set a weight goal or a daily whatever target.

But there is one thing I know that I can probably do every year that will do me a world of good. So most years, when people are sharing New Year's Resolutions, I remind myself to "Drink More Water." That's it. It's not a copout. It's a real resolution. And it's a good one. Doable and good for my body.

So, drink more water, Robin.

This year, I'm also reminding myself to move more and to eat a salad every day... some sort of salad, any sort of salad.  Fruit salad? OK. Bean salad? If you must.

Not that hard, either. And also a world of good.

This photo is of me today, today, January 1, on that first 2014 long walk. I headed out, with music in my ears and clocked in a healthy 4 1/2 miles.

Getting moving.

It may look like I'm riding a bike, but no, I'm really taking a selfie and a palmie at the same time. Hence: We can call this FacePalm.  Now I'm heading in for a big glass of water.

Robin, Phillips

Monday, December 30, 2013

Aloha across the airwaves, the Internet, the hearts

Sometimes the Internet makes me go aaaahhhhhh.

My older brother, Kelley Phillips, has a radio show called Ka Leo Ni'ihau on a station called KKCR on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

New Hawaiian/English language to broadcast from school studio

He's on the Governing Board of the State Charter School Commission 

During the Christmas holidays, my Mom was in town.  She -- a hipster in her 80s -- turned me on to listening to Kelley's show on the web.  It's so fun to hear his voice.

Kelley speaks Hawaiian and his show is in English and Hawaiian.  He plays really fun new and traditional music that rarely makes its way to the Mainland.  His callers speak both English and Hawaiian.  And Kelley's soulful voice is peppered with a hearty chuckle.    Mom and I know all this and can hear it in our memories, but it sure is fun to hear Brada Kelley in ... well, person.

So we were listening on the Internet.  And I texted Kelley to tell him so on my phone.  And within 10 seconds, a song ended and Kelley said (to all his listeners) hello to his Mom and sister listening in sunny Phoenix.

This was our Perfect Moment ... and apparently his ... during the Christmas Holidays.

Robin & Joyce, in Phoenix 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Searching for age and wisdom in the grocery aisles

Working from home the other day, I took a quick break to zoom to the supermarket. It was a rare rainy day in Phoenix. All I really needed was some Diet Coke. So $122 later I also had juice, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, brownie and blueberry muffin mixes and everything I needed to make a house-warming pot roast.

Sometimes when I'm roaming the aisles trying to make up a menu in my head or remember a recipe, imagining how flavors will blend, I look for an older woman to chat with. They know their stuff for sure and they usually know the answer to the question, "Where the heck does this store keep Maraschino cherries?"

Before I hit on the idea of cooking a pot roast yesterday, I bumped into an older couple standing in front of the raisin-craisin, dried cherries and dates shelves. By older I mean early 80s, by dried fruits I mean 123 choices in very similar packaging.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"Dried candied dates," the woman replied. Luckily, I saw them right away.

"This it?" I asked.  The price was right so she picked up two.  As she put them in her basket, I asked, "What are you making with them?"

"Date nut bread," she beamed. "I make it every year."

"You making that again?" he finally spoke up and then turned to me. "I hate it. Don't like it. Won't eat it."  She ignored him, smiling at her dates, and we parted ways.  

A few minutes later, after picking up a pot roast, I returned to the vegetables for potatoes, carrots, onions. And I wondered, "What would a pot roast be like if I put in sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes?"   Hmm...   started looking for an older woman to run this one by.

I spotted a friendly looking woman in the right age range near the celery and approached.  "I'm making a pot roast and am wondering about using sweet potatoes rather than white ones," I started. She looked up, sort of interested, but she made a quick sidestep, putting her cart between us. It was a move I hadn't seen since training for my black belt. I took a half step back but continued, "Perhaps I'll mix some new potatoes with a yam... "

She kept her distance, but cocked her head and said, "I haven't done that. I bet they'd cook faster."

"Hmm.. you're right. I could put them in a little later or not use too many. I'll try it."  

She nodded, "Yes, it might make the roast sweetish."    

And it did.  Sweet potatoes cook much faster than the new potatoes I also used.  And the beef was a little sweet. And the house was warm all night.   ~  Robin, Phoenix

Monday, November 11, 2013

Letter to my mother

Today I am beginning to mourn the loss of my mother. You see, it started with me seeing a picture of my mother than had been taken more than 12 years ago in New York City. She was so vibrant and connected in that picture on that day. She was writing a note to those who had lost loved ones in the 9-11 attacks. It was so important to her on that day that she write something.

But now she just writes notes to remind herself of things she might forget. She doesn’t look like this picture now. The Alzheimer’s is slowly but surely stripping that vibrancy and connection from her eyes, and I miss my mom. So, I decided I wanted to write a letter to my mother before it is too late, before she can no longer appreciate how much I love her.

And this got me to thinking that I bet there are a lot of people who owe a letter to their mothers. No, not an email, but a pen to paper letter. A note telling her how much you appreciate her, how much you love her. A note telling her how she makes you smile, how you loved when she baked peanut butter cookies and let you use the fork to put the grooves in the top of the cookie.

Tell her about how you loved it when she let you stay up late that first time to watch a special show on TV, or covered for you with your dad.

Tell her how you remember her on the ground cutting out a pattern and cloth on the floor so she could make you that homemade outfit that might actually fit! Tell her how much you learned about work ethic when you saw her laid out on the couch exhausted after spending the day working at the sewing factory to make sure you could have tennis shoes for your sporting team.

And after you write those letters I would love it if you would send them through the mail to your mom so you can surprise her… just because.

And then if you find it within yourself, I would love it if you could send a copy of the letter to me because I would love to collect them, and put them together into a special project. You can send them to Susan Green/ Letters to my Mother, P.O. box 13641, Phoenix, Az 85002.  Lets overwhelm the post office!

I love my mother, and I know there are plenty of you out there who love your mothers as well. Join me and share this gift with your mom. It only costs the price of a stamp, but I guarantee the look on her face when she gets it in the mail will be priceless!

Susan Green, Phoenix

After I wrote this blog post, KPHO our local CBS station interviewed me for a story on my Letter to My Mother project. Thanks, Miguel, for helping to spread the word:

  CBS 5 - KPHO

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Alster in her happy place

Alster in her happy place, originally uploaded by RobinJP.

OK. Really. Does this photo need any description? Isn't this Perfect Moment enough?

Well, alright. Alexandra, aka Alster, is at Lolo's Chicken and Waffles in Phoenix. Most people there feel like this.

I remember exactly what I said to make her grin like this. "Last time we were here, you had the Stupid Fries," I reminded her. She had actually turned Stupid Fries -- lots of goopy, tasty stuff piled high on French fries -- into what we called Stupider Fries by adding sausage.

This was a Perfect Moment, as we remembered an earlier Perfect Moment.

Oh, and me? I always study the menu and ALWAYS order Betty Boop.  A juicy chicken breast nestled next to a waffle.

Robin (and Alster), Phoenix
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