Category Archives: Summer

How Did I Let This Happen . . . AGAIN?!

This time last year I had just finished the Muncie 70.3 Half Ironman, and I weighed 190 pounds.

This time this year, I just finished a 3.3 mile walk that felt like a Half Ironman, and I weigh 240 pounds.

In November of 2011 when I changed my diet to paleo for the first time, I felt so good I swore I’d never stop it. But I did; in fact, I sort of reversed it, making up for all the time I’d lost for eating bread and other things that aren’t so good for me. Then in November of 2013 when I got plantar fasciitis in my left foot, I stopped running. Then in May 2014 when I hurt my knee running at the Mounds, I stopped running again.

In the process I made myself back into a woman who takes an hour to walk 3 miles and who weighs 240 pounds.

Here I am again. Right back where I didn’t want to be. Super fat and not so sassy.

I’m hurt by and angry with and disappointed in no one but myself. What now? I do what I do when I am faced with the consequences of my own bad decisions: I give myself grace.

Here I am today, July 17 at 240 pounds and way out of shape:

Mug Shot Side View

Mug Shot Front View

Here is the route I walked today.

They say that whatever you’re doing, whatever your fitness and diet patterns are, whatever is important for you, and whatever your mind set is on your 40th birthday are all good indicators of how you’ll live out the rest of your life. My 40th birthday is next Tuesday, and I want to live well.

Here’s to a successful recovery. Again.

Minnesota Minute

On July 11, I moved to Newport, Minnesota, famous for railroads, an oil refinery, a red rock, an early Methodist Church, and two parades a year, the Fireman’s parade and the Pioneer Days parade, which stops at the park right next to our new house. I have no job, no money, and no network, so to say I feel a bit lost is an understatement. What I do have is a supportive wife, lots of friends who love me, pets that are happy, an education and some experiences that surely someone will find worthwhile, and a little bat that lives outside the window of my tiny attic writing and art studio. At least, I hope the little bat lives there. She was there yesterday, but there was no sign of her tonight. I hope she comes back.

I spent the first day I was here sleeping all day long, because I was thoroughly exhausted from the drive, the stress of moving, and the joyful three-week-long sendoff my friends back home gave to me. The second day I spent at Starbucks using their free internet connection to fill out an application for a job that I found out has already been filled, and I drove all over picking up applications from places whose applications are not yet online. The third day I spent driving all over (again) to buy groceries, a grill, and other necessary items. Both Bec and I were so tired when we got home, we ate dinner, put in a movie and relaxed.

She fell asleep and missed the first parade of our tenure here at 597 4th Avenue, or The Flop House and Diner Too. I nearly missed the parade, too, the Fireman’s Parade, as it is called, because I thought for sure someone’s house was burning down just down the block. I had wondered for several hours why our neighbors were sitting in chairs outside in their lawn, but then I heard sirens, the sirens of many firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars. This parade was unlike other parades I’ve seen with their slow, ambling caravans of cars, bands, and walking floats. In fact, there was not one part of the parade that was normal. The whole of the procession was moving way too quickly to be considered anything but a group of emergency vehicles driving from point A to point B.

Really, the only bit of it that made me think parade was my neighbor, who my brother says reminds him of a character in Orange is the New Black, and her husband sitting out in their chairs with bags to collect candy. Each time a vehicle that looked like a potential candy dispenser drove past she would wave and cheer and collect her treasures, jumping up and down like a small child. By the end of the thing, they had collected a sizeable bag of cheap candy and grins from ear to ear. The whole picture was pretty amusing. (This same neighbor brought us a bowl full of her delicious organically grown raspberries and blackberries tonight.)

Today seemed more like a normal day, in that we went to hang out with the twins. They used me as a jungle gym for about two hours, we played tornado and rocket jump, both games I made up, and then I spent the rest of the day at Starbucks filling out more applications, while Bec unpacked more stuff, cleaned up the downstairs odds and ends, and hung artwork on the walls. To end the day, I cooked jambalaya for Bec, Ann, and me, and we sat on the porch for a good long time.

This whole moving process is teaching me things about myself and about other people, and I am grateful for the learning experience. My focus is changing from being so inwardly focused to being more outwardly focused. Aside from getting a job, I have only five goals for myself in the next year: (1) quit smoking and drinking so much, (2) eat a healthy primal diet, (3) swim, bike, and run, (4) give myself quiet time to read (both books and the Bible), write, and do art, (5) be gentle with others, bring joy and grace into the world. I have to give my worries away and rely on God and other folks to get me through sometimes, a task that is no small feat for me.

Vacation: I Already Miss the Mountains

I said I’d write here every day over the summer, and then I promptly went to Gatlinburg for vacation. Our cabin was supposed to be fitted with Wi-Fi, but I don’t think it was Apple compatible as it worked the first night, but didn’t work any day the rest of the time we were there, so I was unable to write for a bit.

While we were in the Smokies, my brother and I hiked up to see Ramsay’s Cascade. The hike was an eight-mile out and back loop from the base of the mountain to nearly the top. The trail guide said it gained something like 2000 feet in elevation, and the terrain was somewhat difficult, though certainly not impassable. The final half a mile was the most difficult both going up and coming down, because we had climb over boulders and they were a wee bit slippery. However, anyone in reasonable shape, given enough time could make it to the top and back out. It took us about four hours, and we even stopped a lot to take pictures. I would think most folks could make the trek in less than 8 hours.

Also while we were gone, I had some time to think about who I am and where this writing is going. I read a couple of books, some magazines, meditated, and spent time alone in my basement bedroom thinking about who I want to be. This summer will likely be a ten-week consideration of how my ideas of joy, grace, Christianity, and Buddhism can fit together to get me through the school year next year without sliding back into who I was at the end of the school year this year. I need to think a lot about my pedagogy and what’s important to me in the classroom, and I need to be open to finding inspiration in strange places, like Runner’s World Magazine and their special section about Boston. Even though I am nowhere near fast enough to ever qualify for Boston, the bombing and the ways in which it was handled still had a great impact on me.

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Today is the first day of my ten-week summer break, and it’s exactly six weeks until the Muncie 70.3. I have also signed up for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 2, twenty-two weeks away from today, hoping that I will make it across the finish line this time. I’m a much better runner now than I was the last time I tried, and I will have completed the 70.3, which I bank on giving me the stick-to-it-iveness to make across the marathon finish line. I can only hope for the freezing rain they had last year when we volunteered. I hate being overheated when I run.

While it’s difficult for me to imagine that the last time I wrote here was six weeks ago, I guess the lack of writing on my part is an indication to you that I have been super busy. I’m looking forward to this summer for so many reasons (not parallel listing): no dissertation hanging over my head, reading anything I want, a diversity seminar on campus about inclusive pedagogy, family vacation, triathleting, possibly some art, clean eating, online meditation classes, refinishing hardwood floors, playing disc golf, playing with my animals, and naps.

There are so many things I’d love to write about, that have been heavy on my mind and heart recently, I can’t begin to touch them in one blog post, so I am making it my goal to pick back up with the idea of joy and blogging about my main goals for this year. I hope to write every day this summer, so I’ll no doubt be writing about some current events and things like that, too.

Lastly, for dinner I am making bacon wrapped shrimp kebobs on the grill, and I hope they are delicious. If they are, I will be sure to post pictures of them tomorrow.

 

New Beginning(s): “This is the first day of the rest of your life . . . “

I feel like I am constantly starting over. Personally, starting over feels good to me, and I wake up nearly every day with the bridge of one of my favorite songs stuck in my head: “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Sometimes, though, I think this might get draining for my friends. I think they sit around thinking, What is she going to try to do this time, and how long will it last? You know, I think the same thing. But instead of feeling like a flake or feeling defeated by my inability to “stick to it,” I feel invigorated by it. This may be wishful thinking, but I think starting new again and again and looking at every day as the first day of the rest of my life is actually a very healthy place for me to be in. I never get stuck in a rut, unless it is a rut of starting over. This constant change of focus, however, might mean that I never really finish what I start, which is a signal or indicator of failure in American culture that places so much emphasis on the completion of tasks, even at the face of incredible boredom or monotony. I, however, vow that each day is the first day of the rest of my life, and I retain the right to change my mind and to act out those changes in my little corner of the world.

How will this work out, you ask, in the facets of my life I hold most dear? Well, Friend, here’s today’s new and improved me (with a smattering of the old me for good measure, and a touch of the same old topics being knocked around again).

Anyone who’s read this blog before knows that one of my largest areas of struggle is spirituality. I reason with my analytical self and contemplate inside my mystic self, I wrestle with the (many understandings of) the Judeo-Christian God and, lately, I’ve been conversing with Buddhism. I’m also looking for ways intentionally fit in some meditation and prayer throughout my day. Providentially, I happened upon the Daily Examen, which is an Ignatian practice. I think this short simple prayer exercise will complement the other meditation I have started, “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment,” which I read about in Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thay, as his students call him, seems to be onto something that resonates inside of me when he compares mindfulness and meditation to the presence of the Holy Spirit and prayer. Never does he claim that they are one and the same, but he carefully describes the ways in which they can exist side-by-side to bring a further understanding of ourselves in line with a further understanding of the world and its spiritual realm. His writing is so beautiful and his spirit so kind and peaceful, it makes me want to visit Plum Village. I’m thinking about going there next summer if I can find the funding. I need a bit of renewed-ness in my life. Summer seems pretty far away, but I know it will be here before I know it.

Looking toward summer probably isn’t what a teacher should be doing while she sits at her desk spending time on personal writing before beginning to plan two first, six-week units for classes, but it’s what I am doing, and it’s necessary and good work, and looking toward summer is natural for me. However, the school year is here and brings with it many, many changes to our school. Most important to me is the change that enabled me to move to the high school. I am very sad to leave my middle school students and some of my middle school colleagues, but I am excited to embark on a new journey, “This is the first day . . ..” This year I am teaching two sections of British literature, which is new for me. I never imagined I’d teach British literature. I never thought I’d want to, but it’s part of the bargain of moving up to high school. I’m finding that I really enjoy planning for the class and thinking about something new and different to me. I’m also enjoying three sections of American literature, which is, of course, why I made the decision to move to high school. I love American literature. I love everything about it, and now I can restructure the course into thematic units and teach it in a more holistic, well-rounded way, giving more voice to those groups which are currently under-represented. At Burris, we’ve always taught it chronologically by literary movements, which is entirely the easiest way to teach it when two teachers are sharing the classes. However, it’s my own gig now, and I plan to switch things up for next year. This year, because I only have two preps and because we’ve been released from many of our committee requirements, I feel like I can squeeze in a few things that I thought might get squeezed out of my life.

One of the things I’m putting back into my life is my dissertation. This, I think, might be the thing that makes me seem the most flakey. To most, it likely seems that I don’t know what I am doing and I’m flighty and not very serious about this piece of my education, but I am. Very. Serious. I want to finish my PhD, but I don’t want my ideas, my paper, my writing to suck. I don’t want to be subpar, and that’s where I was headed. I’ve taken an entire summer off, rested, and refocused, and I am ready now to a superstar! (That was a little too much, eh?) At any rate, I have a plan this time, and it might actually work. I plan to get up and get to school by 5:30 every morning, giving myself two hours to work on my dissertation every day before school starts. My mind is the freshest at this time of day, and theoretical concepts make the most sense before I’ve intermingled with my students. I’m not a morning person in the way of being with people that early, but I can surely write and read before the chaos of the day clutters my brain. I have two hours of prep time to get things ready for classes throughout the day, and our lesson plans are due on Monday by 4PM anyway. I am really excited about this prospect, and now I can’t, simply can’t, fall on my face, or I will look like a real tool.

I’m also going to start taking piano lessons every other Friday, and, as of now, I’m a little nervous about that bit of exploration and learning!

What does this do for my swimming and running, my athletic endeavors, you might wonder. I’m canceling the rest of the races I had planned for this year, in favor of being a bit more low-key and doing some 5Ks as they come up. I’ve decided to put a hold on my morning swims. It’s going to be two school years of sacrifice, and then I can swim again. I doubt I’ll forget in that time. As far as biking goes, the season is almost over for it, and I don’t plan to bike on my trainer until spring. Until it is over, though, I plan to go on long rides on Saturday with Bec, and I ride my bike to school every day anyway. In order to sort of rein in my extra energy and balance my moods, I plan to combine the prayer and mediation I mentioned above with an evening run to wind down from and reconsider my day. It’s my goal, Monday through Thursday, to walk over to the lookout by Minnetrista and do the smiling and mindful meditation, then run two miles. When I return to the overlook, I will then complete the daily examen and walk home. There is no reason that I can’t have an hour to myself to be contemplative before going home to cook.

I plan to continue to cook delicious—I’d even say gourmet (sometimes)—paleo meals. We feel better and look better in just the nine months we’ve been eating grain-free. I hope to keep it that way. Also, my brother and I want to eventually open a paleo gastro pub with our own home-brewed hard ciders. We’re going to start brewing the ciders this fall, I think, and we’re hoping to make some pear cider next fall. One thing we both love is trying new foods and drinks, so I think it’s a bonus that we found paleo eating when did!

Cheers! (Raising a hard cider): here’s to starting over. Here’s to rethinking. Here’s to new beginnings. Here’s to exploration, and growth. Here’s to future hopes, past failures and success, and present moments to savor. Here’s to “the first day of the rest of your life. Even in the darkness you can still see the light.”