Monthly Archives: March 2014

Mixtape //1//

March 31, 2014

mmixtape no1

Spring has arrived and the big firey ball in the sky has started to creep back into our lives again. To celebrate the end of the season of electric blankets on overtime, here’s our first attempt at a Call Home Dear mixtape. Our chosen theme, “Out of Kilter,” features a selection of tunes old, new and new-ish. Oh, and the little guy and his rocket on the cover are toys from a Lucky Box (a wrapped-up mystery gift) that we bought in Tokyo. Enjoy!

☁ -d

Office Friday //2//

March 28, 2014

When I was young I used to use certain tactics to try to stay up just a little bit later. “Mom, can I have a snack?” “Mom, can I finish watching this TV show?” “Mom, I can fold the laundry!”

It usually worked. Staying up late was ubercool, and I didn’t like going to sleep when I wasn’t even tired.

Then high school hit, and for the first time, I was stressed out, had way too much homework (busy work, oh, how I hate you) and was sleep deprived. I never really thought that it was an issue, though. I just thought that’s what you did. You can sleep when you’re dead, right? The most productive leaders only get five to six hours of sleep a night, right?

It wasn’t until this past year that I realized sleep is crazy important. beyond important. It’s vital. You shouldn’t be getting five to six hours; you should be getting seven to ten hours, depending on your body and your age. Thus, for this Office Friday, I want to talk about laying down a foundation for career success by making sure you’re getting enough good old-fashioned sleep each night.

After moving to Hong Kong and finding myself in the confines of a cubicle, staring at a computer all day long, I started to yearn for movement and nature. I began to feel not-so-very-human. I was lacking in exercise, Vitamin D and a schedule with normal waking and sleeping times. And so, I stumbled upon a great book that I recommend checking out called “Eat Sleep Move” by Tom Rath that challenges you to change your habits, one small step at a time. As all three directly impact one another, I liked that he took them all into account to tackle chronic sleep deprivation the natural way, by getting enough exercise and eating right.

Here’s some tips to sleep for success:

  • Set an alarm for your bedtime. (just a sweet reminder from your loving self that you. need. to. go. to. bed.)
  • Don’t look at any computer/TV/phone screens an hour before bed. (The light from the screens can trick your eyes to thinking that it’s daylight.)
  • Take a hot shower/bath to wash the day’s worries away.
  • Put your phone on silent and charge it overnight in a different room.
  • Leave your worries for tomorrow in your planner. (I keep mine on my desk and approach it in the morning with coffee in hand.)
  • Have a nighttime routine, just like in the a.m. (Take the hour away from the computer and pamper yourself or read some chapters from a book. You deserve some time to yourself.)
  • Keep Melatonin next to your bed, just in case insomnia hits. (Of course, check with your doctor before taking. It’s always best to take the smallest amount you need. Here are some recommended doses.)

Anyone have any other tips on how to develop healthy sleep habits? What do you do? I’d love to hear. This month, I’m going to be reading “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” by Arianna Huffington. Just released this week, she reveals how chronic sleep deprivation was keeping her from living her best life.

☁  -kristin

Hey, hey, we’re the (snow) monkeys

March 26, 2014

monkey10 On a trip to Japan in January, seeing snow monkeys was high up on our must-do list. About 50 minutes by train from Nagano (which, in turn, is around two hours by bullet train from Tokyo), the town of Yudanaka is a peaceful and quiet community high up in the snow-covered hills. A 15-minute drive into the mountains from the Yudanaka train station, followed by a mile’s hike on foot up winding narrow forest lanes, will bring you to the Jigokudani, or Hell’s Valley Monkey Park. Here the Japanese macaque frequent, a species of monkey native to Japan and the most northern-living monkeys in the world.
Observing the monkeys is highly entertaining. Visitors are told how the monkeys come down from the surrounding mountains to hang out in the park for the day and then disappear back into the trees come nightfall. monkey1
Drawing the monkeys to the park are the onsens (open air hot springs), where they bathe together to warm up during the cold winter months. When not keeping warm in the onsens, they can be seen playing in groups mostly, scurrying around in the snow. monkey2
With many tourists walking around the park taking pictures, the monkeys seem quite oblivious to the attention and carry on about their business. Visitors are warned though, not to feed the animals or stare, touch or even bare their teeth as the monkeys could interpret these as signs of aggression. monkey3
Getting a good spot to take up-close pictures at the main onsen can be tricky with groups of tourists competing for space. It’s best to arrive early in the morning before the crowds gather.monkey11b

The walk to the park along the mountain trail is scenic, with a steep drop into the forest next to the path. It is advised to wrap up warm and wear boots with strong grips during the winter months as the path can be quite slippery. Although admission to the park is cheap at 500 yen (less than $5), traveling here can be expensive, so it is worth researching trains and accommodation before arriving. ☁  -diarmuidmonkey5