Category Archives: Meditation

Goals, Polar Plunge, and Whole30

My goals for 2019:

  1. No social media, except this blog. No smart devices.
  2. Swim, walk, or run every single day, except Sunday. Hopefully run a 50K in October.
  3. Read at least one book each month.
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
  5. Practice silence and listening, with intention.
  6. Eat mostly real food and fewer carbs, specifically sugar.

I am being moderately successful at most of my goals, though meditation and reading could use a little boost, and I recently returned to Facebook for a hot minute to beg for money for the Polar Plunge. I am enjoying Flippy, the Flip Phone, because I can’t check my email or look things up on the Internet at a moment’s notice, and it’s a real pleasure being free of that encumbrance. I do miss listening to podcasts and having a GPS with me at all times, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

This will be my fifth year doing the Polar Plunge, I believe, and I’ve never had as much of a problem raising money as I am this year. I am sitting right under $500 with three weeks left, and I’d like to raise $1000. I raised close to $1200 last year, so I think I maybe pissed some people off, people don’t have as much money, or not being on social media has been detrimental to my success. Oh, well. I guess $500 is better than nothing. If you want to donate, you can do that by clicking here.

My brother and I are over halfway through our late-start January Whole30, and I can say it feels like a success. Most of my aches are gone, my skin feels less dry, and I feel less bloated and like I’ve lost a bit of weight. I do think I have a bit of a problem with dairy and my joints, because with Whole30 or being vegan, either way, my joints are not as achy and I feel less inflamed.

What I love about being on Whole30 is that I am forced to think outside my go to junk food favorite, pizza, and look toward more interesting food, like the butternut, chicken, apple, hash I made for breakfast yesterday morning, or the eggs in hell that Adam made for breakfast the day before. We haven’t had school for three days because of the weather, so we’ve gotten some really good food and cooking time in this week. More importantly, I’ve gotten to drink amazing Blue Mind Roasting coffee that I made at home with the pour-over method, instead of Starbucks each morning.

Once we complete this Whole30, I am going to remain mostly paleo with Saturdays being a “free day,” where I can eat some of the things I don’t eat the rest of the week. I feel well enough, though, that I’d like to keep inflammatory foods, like dairy and grains, to a minimum. I am not sure where things like beans and corn will fall, but I am not opposed to trying to add them back in occasionally.

Last time I did a Whole30, I tried to keep carbs to a minimum and I got super sore when I tried to do any kind of exercise. This time, I have eaten more potatoes and sweet potatoes, so my body feels a bit better and more energetic. Since I’ve been swimming in the morning and in the afternoon and adding in some extra walking here and there without a considerable amount of soreness, I feel like I can start boosting up my exercise.

This morning I did my first body weight exercise training in a long time, like probably since September. Seriously, I could only do one round of 20 squats, 10 push ups, 20 lunges (10 on each side), 20 dumbbell rows (10 on each side), 15 second plank, and 30 jumping jacks. Pathetic, but it’s a start.

My ultimate goal, as it has been in the past and will be until I drag myself across that finish line, is an Ironman. I’m shooting for Maryland in September of 2020 (607 days, 87 weeks, 19 months), if I can keep myself motivated until then. I figure, I am a cancer, the logo is a crab, so it’s meant to be, right?

Two Weeks: No Social Media

Today marks the two-week mark for being off of social media. I have tried in vain to delete my Facebook Messenger account, so if you are one of those people who is still sending things there, please know that I am not getting them. Since my mobile devices are in MN, I don’t have a way to deactivate my account for that app, because it is specifically not designed to be used on a computer, so it appears like my account is still active. I assure you, it isn’t. They certainly don’t object to you signing up and checking it compulsively on the computer. I have found the same to be true of so many computer accounts: easy to set up, not easy to delete.

Anyway, here are my thoughts after two weeks. I have read a lot of news and books, and I have planned more efficiently and more effectively for teaching, which is my job after all. I feel like I have devoted more time to quiet, focused activities, rather than worrying about what other people are doing, and rather than worrying about why I am not doing those same things. Comparison is the thief of joy, as I have said before, and when I can’t see what Janet or Phillip is doing, I can’t be jealous, envious, or comparative.

I have also noticed that I am more attentive when I watch a movie or a TV program, because I don’t have my phone in my hand the whole time, checking and writing, checking and waiting, or simply scrolling and not really reading. I can focus more fully, and I remember what I watched on the screen or remember what I did online, because I am not splitting my attention between the two. I am fairly decent at multitasking, but none of us is really as good at it as we think we are.

Those were the goals of this experiment, too, so it helps to see them unfold before me.

The one drawback of this experiment, which I am sure will dissipate over time, is that I feel fairly disconnected from some people I care about. I would imagine that before long, I will watch some friendships cease to exist, I will spend more quality time with fewer friends, or friends who don’t typically reach out, may begin to reach out. We’ll see where this goes, but I can say that this week, in particular, has been a little lonely probably because I am back in Indiana without Bec.

Even though it’s difficult sometimes, I am still focusing on making every day the best day.

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Starting on next Monday, January 14, my brother and I are embarking on a Whole30, so that will be another new chapter in my wellness journey. I did a Whole30 once, before living a “paleo/primal” lifestyle for about six months, and I lost a lot of weight, felt really healthy, and completed an Ironman 70.3, so maybe this will help me get out of my wellness funk. Next week, I also plan to start swimming for 30 minutes each morning and walking for 30 minutes after school every day.

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My goals for 2019:

  1. No social media, except this blog. No smart devices.
  2. Swim, walk, or run every single day. Hopefully run a 50K in October.
  3. Read at least one book each month.
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
  5. Practice silence and listening, with intention.
  6. Eat mostly real food and fewer carbs, specifically sugar.

A Christmas Run: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love

This morning I woke up at 5:08 CST and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I decided to just get up, unlike yesterday when I stayed in bed for two hours trying to fall back to sleep. I went to the bathroom and weighed myself. Yep, still a fat and sassy 250 pounds.

I ambled downstairs in my running attire and found my shoes, hat, headlamp, and gloves right by the door where I left them on Sunday. Pudge, the grey cat, helped me as I laced up my shoes and visualized my run, which was going to be a very short one mile in the crisp 17º air. I love it when I walk out the door and can see my breath in the light of my headlamp. That’s the perfect way for me to start my day.

For some reason, I think I ran too close to the edge of the road; I couldn’t get good footing to go very fast, which turned out to be okay, because my lungs weren’t really happy to be doing what I asked them to do, and they immediately (this is a new thing) started spasming. Breathing got difficult really fast, when usually my asthmatic response doesn’t start until I stop running. “Well, this is a fun little adventure,” I thought to myself, so I slowed way down and took almost 17 minutes to finish that one mile.

It was a beautiful mile, so I am fine with the slowness of it, but I’d like to just be able to go out and knock out 6 or 7 miles with no problem, like I could a few years ago before I stopped running regularly, and before I let depression and Facebook control my life. This is why my one resolution is to get my life back. I want to be able to just go run. Run a trail, run the streets, or set the treadmill (gross) to a speed faster than most people walk.

On January 12, I will run my favorite race, and this year I was hoping to run the 13.1 distance instead of the 6.55, but it looks like my goal is shifting to simply completing the 6.55 in less time than it took me last year. I am still too slow to be allowed to enter the second lap of the 13.1 distance, but I will be there next year (so she has said for five years or so?). Running for me is about setting goals, and maybe achieving them, and not being too hard on myself if I don’t, because running is about joy for me.

But, let me return to the title of my post, a Christmas run.

My favorite days to run are on holidays. The town is quiet, no one is awake, and everything is darker for longer than usual. I love to run along and watch the town come alive in the morning. Since I prefer out and back routes, on the way out, every house is dark, but on the way back (on a longer than one mile route), I get to see people waking up and maybe one light is on in the house, or maybe a guy wearing a robe comes out to get the paper, or maybe I can see in the kitchen window (if it faces the road) where a woman is getting the coffee pot going.

But on holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, I can run much later and everything is so still for so long, it’s almost as if I am the only person here, like that bad Twilight Zone episode “Where Is Everybody?”. During those quiet moments, I get to meditate, sending positive energy out into every house, and I get to pray silently for each person in each house, and I can feel the goodness and beauty of everyone, even if I don’t know them.

Running on Christmas is something I’ve done for probably close to 10 years, and it’s something I want to continue to do. I desire to bring hope, peace, joy, and love to each house, even silently, as I run past. And I want to experience those things for myself and be able to give myself grace as I reflect on last year and forecast into next year.

Yesterday was beautiful. Today was beautiful. Tomorrow will be beautiful.

Spirituality

I’d be lying if I said spirituality is easy for me, but I’d also be lying if I said it didn’t matter or was difficult. My spirituality is by far the most important and integral part of my life, but it’s also one of the most complicated facets.

On my way back to coffee shop I visited yesterday, on my way back to actually complete my lesson plans for next week, I went past Taylor University, a small very conservative Christian college in Upland, Indiana. I am not a fan of their theology or their ridiculous set of strict rules, but I do feel like many of my favorite people in this world have gone there and gotten out relatively unscathed. Some of them seem to have even learned a thing or along the way. Taylor is also a somewhat rivalry of my theological alma mater, Anderson University, an equally conservative and rule-ridiculous college about 45 minutes away.

Anyway, I bring up Taylor University because my spirituality these days is heavily influenced by Jesus and Buddha, but not by any official church or religion. I pray, I meditate, I try to be kind and compassionate. Some days are more successful than others, but I haven’t been to an actual church service, except for watching my grandchildren be baptized, for about two years, I’d say. This is not because I don’t find it valuable—the Episcopal Church has my organized religion heart—but I just find that I can practice my spiritual pretty much anywhere. If I am not careful, I am moved to spiritual tears by pretty much anything.

Back to this morning—all these asides make my head spin, but that’s just how my brain works—when I drove past Taylor Lake on my way to some of the most beautiful scenery in East Central Indiana, a road that, when I was in high school, people called Devil’s Backbone, ironic because of TU being right there, I had a feeling in my gut that was so familiar.

If you know my story, you know I was baptized at a very young age, maybe 6, after accepting Jesus into my heart in an old, brown recliner chair where I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer with my mom one night before bed time. If you know my story even better, you know that I by no means believe that is how a conversion experience works, or that we maybe don’t even need conversion, because we are all good and pure and beautiful on the inside anyway, but that is how it happened for me at 4, 5, or 6.

As I drove past TU this morning with a beautiful pink sunrise and the fall leaves reflecting on the smooth water of the lake, I was transported back to 40 years ago when I wore a little white sundress and waded into a cold, slightly mucky, and very weedy, Taylor Lake to make a public profession of the faith that was shaping me. I waded in to the water, said I confessed my sins, promised to live a good life, and then I was under the water, looking up through a blur into the sunlight above the water.

As I drove past that lake this morning, my heart moved, my spirit stirred, I began to cry, and I wondered when everything in this world got so unbeautiful and so difficult and so mean. I wished I could go back and see the world through the water into the sun, weeds wrapped around my little ankles, safe in a feeling that everything would be alright.

July 4: Independence Day, Veganism, Goal Fulfilling

I’m reading The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams, and the words are helping me see how very far I’ve come since November with physical, spiritual, and mental wellness, but I’m also learning how very far I have to go to be completely well. This year I am using July 4, 2017 to become independent from social media. I’ll be staying away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram until January 1, 2018. I’ll still write here occasionally, but I want to really experience things in my own way, not filtered through the lenses of comparison, argumentation, and whatever else happens on social media that makes me feel yucky inside and draws energy from my experiences of joy. 

I’m not putting my head in a hole in the ground, because I’ll still follow the news and interact with friends through texts, emails, and phone calls, but I am buffering my experiences with jealousy, anger, and sadness for six months. My 25th high school reunion is on August 5, and I want to be in the best mental health possible, so I can have a blast with some people I haven’t seen in 25 years. Please be sure to direct message me if you want my contact information to text, call, or email.

I haven’t written here in a while, and it’s mostly because I spend a good portion of my day, when I am not at work, sitting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, watching the feeds go by with the same information I saw just a few minutes ago. I mean, I seriously sit on the couch, going from Facebook (refresh) to Instagram (refresh) to Twitter (refresh) and back again and again. Last night I spent about three hours working on some digital art; I’m trying to design bike jerseys for me and Bec for our 100-mile ride in July, and it was so fulfilling that I was reminded how joyful I feel when I am reading, or writing, or creating. 

I am not good at just “taking a break” or “logging out for a while,” so I will just remove the apps from my phone and change the passwords to something I won’t remember. I’ll write it down, so I can come back and visit in January. This is the thing I am adding for July to my wellness and mental health changes I am making this year. I’m also trying hard to invest more in those people who also invest in me, and that isn’t necessarily happening on social media. I feel as if I am investing shallowly in a lot of people, but not deep and meaningfully in a few people. 

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Because I haven’t written here in a while, well, I haven’t written at all in a while, I feel like I have so much to say, but I also feel like I’ll just ramble and babble and not make any sense. So what’s new?! 

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I became vegan (again) on May 4, because of a challenge at work, and I am in love with my lifestyle. What I love is that I am being very healthy about it. I’m eating nearly all fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, and almost no “vegan food products.” 

I eat an occasional Boca burger, breadsticks, or French fries, but for the most part, on the day to day, I eat fresh veggies like carrots, snap peas, and tomatoes, fresh fruit like apples, oranges, and cherries, and some hummus and avocado. I am trying to limit the amount of GMOs I’m eating, and I’m also limiting my wheat and soy intake. What I consume is 90% organic. 

I also have smoothies for breakfast, which are pretty lovely, with spinach, soy milk, and Vega protein powder. I feel good, I look healthy, and I’m living as cruelty-free as possible, which helps my spiritual and mental health. This has been a long (repetitive), slow journey, but I am getting where I am supposed to be. 

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Since November 25, 2016, I’ve lost 40 pounds, and my immediate goal is 20 more, which is coming off slowly. More importantly to me, I’m able to walk 8 miles with no problems, I can bike 30 miles on a regular basis, and I can still swim like a fish. I haven’t had a drink since January 19, and I’ve made changes slowly and consistently, so they’re becoming part of my life, instead of a thing I’m doing.

For July, I am also adding in weightlifting, which I was supposed to have already added, but I get intimidated for some crazy reason. I start second guessing myself like I’ve never lifted weights, and I don’t belong in a gym. Dumb. My goal is: Mondays and Thursdays will be biking, Tuesdays and Fridays will be swimming and lifting, and Wednesdays will be trail running, Saturdays will be running then walking with Bec, and Sundays will be a leisurely walk with Bec. 

I’m meditating more regularly, but I still need to be more consistent, because I feel so much better when I calm my monkey mind by focusing on my breath. I’m trying to be more mindful of the ways in which my actions impact others, and I seem to have more cognition of that when my mind is calm from meditating, rather than when it is full of many thoughts that are walking laps inside my brain like big cats in a zoo cage. 

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My brother and I leave on June 30 for a trip to swim in all five Great Lakes. We’re hoping to complete our trek in about 12 hours and spend the night in Toronto. I’ll keep you posted.  I cannot tell you how good it felt to write this, even though it is super disjointed, not very pretty, and kind of like nacho vomit in word form.