Category Archives: Summer

Please Don’t Drop Over . . . But I Wrote Something

Summer is here and with it comes my renewed sense of who I am. I know I am cyclic; I think who I am follows a certain strange circadian rhythm. (Incidentally, I just discovered through a quick Wikipedia accidental search that I might be the lucky owner of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.) No, it’s more than simply a circadian rhythm; my body follows a seasonal rhythm as well. I frequently look back through my blog posts to see what I was thinking about in previous years and previous months. Sometimes the blog posts from the same weeks in different years are surprisingly similar. With the exception of last summer, which I believe to be the darkest night of my soul, summer is usually a time of growth, joy, freedom, and redefinition for me. I am most likely to start a diet, an exercise program, or some new venture in the summer. I grow restless and get a sense of wanderlust when the weather gets hot. This summer has been no exception.

I began eating Paleo/Primal in January of this year, so my diet had already changed considerably. I haven’t once looked at paleo/primal as “a diet,” so it’s been much easier to continually eat this way. Also, I have noticed that I am intolerant of most of the food I was shoveling into my face as a vegan. I can’t eat corn (serious diarrhea). I can’t eat wheat (bloating, hives, mouth reaction). I can’t eat soy (serious hot flashes). And I can’t eat much dairy (tired muscles and achy joints). The dairy, though, is typically the cheat. I can’t get enough Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. It’s almost paleo/primal, right? Right?! I find that if I stick to eating whole, clean foods like meats and fishes, coconuts, nuts, eggs, vegetables, fruits, fermented ciders, and sparingly using raw honey and maple syrup, I feel so much better.

The side benefit of eating this way, for me, is never having to count calories, always having lots of energy, always having food options that appeal to me, and feeling full with very few low-blood-sugar moments. When I was vegan, I felt good, but never amazing, because I always felt just a little tired. I couldn’t easily go out to eat with friends, unless I wanted to be a total pain or my friends were also vegetarian or vegan. I found myself counting calories, because many processed vegan foods can get really caloric really fast. I counted calories, too, because I could never get full. No worries about feeling full with paleo/primal eating. I can eat breakfast and not be hungry again until dinner.  When I was vegan, my blood sugar would drop at least twice a day to the point where I was really grumpy and lightheaded. Also, as a vegan I always missed eating meat. I haven’t, not one time since I’ve been paleo, found myself fantasizing about a black bean burger or a slab of tofu, though they are both enjoyable. Frequently, when I was vegan, I would desire ribs or a burger or a salmon steak.

Basically, I feel like I’ve moved into a new life and life more abundantly. I’m still not cool with factory farming, and I never will be. I try to get all local, grass-fed meat and eggs and wild-caught fish, paying close attention to the ways the animals are raised, harvested, and slaughtered. This is the consolation I make for taking another life, which I still feel is sacred. This facet is the most difficult for me about paleo/primal, but I feel so much better I don’t ever want to look back. And, from my fattest point three years ago (256.4 pounds) I have lost 46 pounds total, but just from this January, I have lost 30 of those pounds. My pants size has dropped three sizes, and I bought my first pair of Calvin Klein shorts at Marshall’s when I was in Florida. I can run, bike, and swim with much more ease and speed. It’s really refreshing and beautiful.

I have set two new goals for myself: run a trail marathon by the time I am 40 (July of 2014), and complete a triathlon of some length by the time I am 39 (July 2013). Summer affords me the time and light to get in a lot of exercise, which may be why my mood gets so much better. Every morning I get up at 5:30 or 6 and either run to the pool and swim a couple of miles, or ride my bike 20-ish miles. This summer I decided to do two-a-days, which include ab exercises or kettle bell workouts in the afternoons. I find myself doing circuits, hoping to add in other body-weight exercises. I’m a big fan of minimal equipment. Today, as I sit here writing this, my abs are still on fire from the medicine ball workout I did on Monday, but I’ve read enough to know that you’re abs can take some punishment. Every day punishment, so I plan to carry-on this afternoon before joining the summer solstice bike ride that leaves from Pita Pit this afternoon. I also play disc golf, because I can and because it’s fun.

I know.

I sound like a total meat-head who can only talk about diet and exercise, but I consider those to be two of four basic building blocks of my life. Diet. Exercise. Spirituality. Intellect.

Another basic building block is my faith. Summer gives me time and inspiration to devote to spending intentional time with God. As I did with Lent, I am utilizing Common Prayer to facilitate my morning worship and prayer time. I take great comfort in the ritual of liturgy and prayer, and I find I can connect more completely, more fully with God, when I structure my prayer as a call and response with the refrain, “Lord, hear my prayer.” In my prayers, then, I can be as specific or as general with my words as I want to be, and the words, “Lord, hear my prayer,” feel as if they reassure me that God can hear my thoughts about that topic without my having to verbalize them. There are many things I pray, that I am not sure I would know how, or feel comfortable, verbalizing, even just to God, who I have been told already knows my thoughts.

As a child, I couldn’t see the value of prayer if God is unchangeable and if God already knows my thoughts. What’s the point? Now it seems to me that the point is much like speaking to a psychologist, and sometimes I can think/speak through my own problems or think/speak my own joys much like I would to a friend. Sometimes simply doing that makes it feel as if God is answering, and maybe that is the answer. Maybe we aren’t really changing God’s mind, but our own. Maybe we aren’t hearing a tangible answer from God, but we are instead somehow coming around to an answer. Perhaps this is how many people make decisions where God’s will looks a lot like their own will. I’m not sure. I’m just knocking around some skepticism/cynicism. Sometimes as Christians, I think we like to have things both ways: God is unmoveable, but we can move God through prayer, and we want God to be constant, but we want God to save someone’s life or change an outcome. In fact, we sometimes beg. It’s interesting is all I’m saying. I haven’t lost my faith, I just have lots of questions.

I have also added into my quiet time the discipline of reading through the book of James each day. Once I feel as if I have most of its truths committed to my soul, I will choose another book, though there aren’t many short enough to read in their entirety each day. I may have to read a few chapters each day or something. I started with James because of its practicality and because it seems to be an outlier about some pretty heavy theological concepts, like faith and works, speech, and prayer. I like James for his candor and for his perspective. He’s not Paul, and I love that about him.

I think when I am grounded in my faith, my relationships get better. I lump family, friends, and my love into this building block of spirituality. It all rolls together for me. When I am fully centered and fully contemplative of God, my faith, the Church, the way I deal with people is much more grace-filled, much more holy, much more compassionate. I can’t give love that I am not allowing myself to take from God. When I center in God, pursue God, my relationships fall in line and become more fulfilling, more of a blessing, and less like work. Summer is a time to nurture those relationships.

Finally, feeding my intellect is something that I have to do to feel like all is right with the world. Sometimes I feel like I go into a nine-month-long hibernation during the school year. I get up. I teach. I come home. I plan. I grade. I go to bed. If I am lucky, I add in some exercise or socialization. But, during the summer, I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and I even have time to read. I read a lot during the summer. It’s my goal to read at least two books each week: one fiction and one nonfiction. So far, I am on schedule. I love learning new things, and my favorite way to do it is by reading, especially since it’s become real again.

So, yeah. Summer. Love.

Food, Glorious Food. And Sports.

Food 

What’s the next thing I’ll eat? I ask myself this question as I sit here—frustrated because I’d love to put my grades into Power School, but Power School is “either too busy or the site is down for maintenance”—in my comfy, slightly strange chair, which is next to my stack of “currently reading” books. Among comic books (like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Breathers), at least one fictional text (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), and several other random nonfiction books dealing with gender and theology (Nobody Passes: Rejecting Rules of Gender and Conformity and John Wesley’s Sermons) are many nonfiction texts about food. From cookbooks or food magazines to theoretical texts, my book collection has recently gained quite a few texts dealing with how food is used and interpreted in culture. These books were part of my dissertation preparation and background knowledge, but now they are just books for pleasure. For fun (mind you), I am currently reading books like Bite Me: Food in Popular Culture and The Anthropology of Food and the Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power, and Eating Culture. I will admit it: I think about food almost constantly. I know it’s a semi-charmed kind of first world life I lead when I can sit around, pouting about not being able to enter my grades on the computer,  thinking about what I might whip up for a snack while I work.

Dining Al Fresco Paleo

Last night I made glorious bison burgers for dinner, because I’m doing the Whole 30 to try to jumpstart my metabolism again and to get rid of the foods that I think are causing me the most pain. The picture doesn’t do justice to the amazingness of these burgers and their artistic presentation. They were half-pound charcoal-grilled bison burgers with spring greens, avocados, onions, tomatoes, and bacon. I drizzled mine with a bit of balsamic vinegar just to set off the taste of the onions. I had a banana for desert. We ate outside on the porch at our new slate table. The weather was perfect. The food was delicious. The evening was wonderful.

The only thing that made the day more wonderful was I got up this morning and was tempted to weigh myself. I’ve lost five pounds in two days by cutting out sugar and dairy. I can’t say I could live this strictly forever, but it feels pretty good to cleanse my body and to lose a bit of weight. I told my brother, last night, that I am trying to focus more on how I feel, how fit I can get, and how my clothes wear than I am trying to focus on weight, but I couldn’t resist just seeing if there was any difference. Now I know, so now I won’t weigh myself again until June 17, just before I leave to go to Florida.

Sports

I am “training” for a half marathon in July, but I haven’t done much running lately. I’ve done more walking and biking than anything, so I need to make sure to pick up the running, making sure to do a good portion of it barefoot. I just sent out a check to Tuhey Pool, to join their outdoor pool lap-swim program for the summer, because I also want to do a triathlon at some point before I turn 39. I’m hoping to do this triathlon in September of 2013. It only cost $75 for the whole summer and I can go for lap swim and for the regular swimming time later in the day after I’ve done the other work I need to do. I never feel like the summer is long enough, and I always feel like I have so much to do. This summer is no exception, but I do know I want to get in lots of exercise and lots of clean, healthy eating. I want to look hot when school starts (I mean not that I’m not super cute already). We’ll see where this goes.

Common Prayer, Exercise, Whole 30 (Day 1)

We don’t have school today, which is nice because I get to have a sneak preview into what summer will be like. I got up at about 6:00 this morning, leisurely put on my clothes and shoes, and ran the two miles to Ball Pool. I hopped into the pool at 7:00AM and swam a little over a mile, then walked home, arriving by 8:30. I moved my body 5 miles by 8:30. How amazing will summer be?! I will be able to have all of my “required” exercise (it’s my goal to move at least 5 miles every day) and my morning prayers/quiet time finished by 9AM, and then I’ll have the whole rest of the day to work on art, house chores, gardening, or whatever, and because I’ve switched to the paleo/primal diet, I actually have energy to do things! All of these things are perfect meditations in the love of God. Moving the body. Contemplating God’s word. Praying for others. Being meditative.

But, we still have about thirty-five days of school left, so I can’t get too excited about summer yet. Not that I am counting down the days, because I don’t really do that. I generally love school. One of my favorite times of year is when I get to buy new school supplies and a few clothes.

*

Today’s morning prayers had a snippet about Dietrich Boenhoeffer, and the thought-provoking quote provided from him really made me think: “So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life, but in the thick of foes.” Generally, I don’t look at other people as foes, but the first part of that really struck me. I spend a good portion of my time thinking about how I could be a better Christian, and that vision usually includes some form of me living in a convent or some other monastic situation where I don’t have too much contact with the outside world. Boenhoeffer is so right, though. My Christianity really means nothing if it’s cut off from the world, hidden behind closed doors. The idea of Monastic life, as manifested by the folks who live at Simple Way in Philadelphia, really appeals to me. They are making a difference while still living according to a modified version of the ancient cycle of monastic life. It’s really beautiful and there is so much good.

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This Lent really changed me. I feel much more hopeful, much more alive. Being out in the wilderness was good for me. Having a friend to talk with about how that feels was helpful. Fasting during Holy Week made the whole 40-ish days come alive, and I realized (again) in a very real way the humanity of Jesus: he was a real man, with friends and family, who suffered horribly and died. However, you interpret the act of the cross, the actual human events leading up to it must have been excruciating for Jesus and for all those whose lives were touched by his. Then, yesterday, the very real joy of Easter came crashing into me in a way I’ve never experienced before. I teared up a bit at the sunrise service. Maybe my life with Christ needed some attention, maybe I needed the Bible to become real for me again, maybe I just needed to make some tough decisions, or maybe I just needed to listen, really listen, to what I am being called to do. It certainly isn’t a life that’s so busy I don’t have time for friends, family, or even people I don’t really know. I’m called to a more contemplative life, a life filled with spiritual thinking, grace, love, and peace. Now my only problem is figuring out how to make this life I envision, this life I am called to, a reality.

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Duh, I published this without adding the thing that made me start to write this post. Today is the first day of my Whole 30 experience. I forgot I was going to start it today, so I bought some yogurt for breakfast this week, but I am just going to freeze it and eat it when I am finished. I have only one cheat for the next 30 days, and that’s raw honey. I’ve been eating a tablespoon of it every day for my allergies, and it seems to be working, so I don’t want to cut that out. Other than that, I am Whole 30 all the way!

The

Lent Day 19: Well Just Like That

My spring break is over. I have never understood why Ball State’s spring break is the first full week of March, nor will I ever. It was mostly cold and yucky, and now this week it’s supposed to be in the 70s all week. My brother’s school doesn’t have spring break until the first week of April! I’m not complaining. I just don’t get it, nor will I ever.  Now, as far as I’m concerned, summer can’t get here fast enough.

I don’t really have anything to say today. Well, I have a lot to say, but I’m old, I’m tired, and I still have a lot of grading left to do before tomorrow. So instead of writing my own reflection, I’m going to send you over to my friend Kimberly’s site to read her post on baptism. It’s beautifully written and it touched my heart. Baptism is one of my biggest theological interests, so I was pleased to read such an interesting take on it. And, since I recently wrote about it, I was especially intrigued when I saw the title, “Beaches, Bikinis, and Baptism.” Seriously, go there. Read it. You won’t be sorry. And, while you’re there, nose around. There are too few women who write some decent feminist theology, or who share their specifically female spiritual thoughts. Not to knock you men out there, but sometimes women just have a different row to hoe. We sometimes need to speak to, and for, our own, as do you.

More Things I’ve Eaten, and Some Cider. Sports. The Light of the World. Opening Day.

More Things I’ve Eaten

I don’t want to turn into one of those people who only posts pictures of the food they eat, writing endlessly about how amazing their cooking is and about how fantastic the food they eat is, but I love food, I love cooking it, and I love eating it, so it only seems right to post pictures of my first love. Lots of pictures. I promise, though, that I won’t brag (too much) about my cooking skills.

Along with my love of food, my second love used to be beer, but it doesn’t make much sense to me to avoid grain products all week long, just to inundate my body with them on weekends. In fact, many people who follow a paleo or primal lifestyle eschew alcohol all together. Instead of completely abstaining, I’ve switched to ciders, but the sad part of this scenario is that there aren’t nearly as many ciders available to try as there are beers, especially in the Midwest. My brother and I are hoping to visit some cider breweries this summer, so I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop about that.

Here are the deliciously luxurious food photos:

Coconut Crusted Catfish; Dandelion Green and Spinach Salad

Beef Stir Fry with Srirachi; Woodchuck Spring Cider

Grass Fed Sirloin; Mixed Green Salad; Samuel Smith's Organic Cider

Charcoal-Grilled Sockeye Salmon; Mixed Green Salad; Strongbow Cider

 Sports: Racquetball, Swimming, Barefoot Running

The more time I spend playing or participating in other sports, the more I agree with the idea that physical conditioning just prepares us to play more and better. I know myself well enough to know that I will never be a fast runner. In fact, I’ll probably never finish in the top two thirds of any race I run. Likely, I’ll finish in the last quarter, if not in last place, but I don’t care. I don’t care because I don’t run to be competitive; I run for the fun of it. I don’t swim to be competitive; I swim for the fun of it. I love the sports that require lots of stamina and that make my body sore and achy the next day because I’ve worked hard to have fun and to finish. I consider swimming and running to be the building blocks for every other sport. (I’d consider cycling to fill this purpose, too, but it’s not summer and I don’t generally ride my bike when it freezes my face.) These sports exist to prepare our bodies for more.

For example, I realized last night that I signed up for two races that I probably won’t finish, because they’ll cut the race off before I will make it around the course the second time. I don’t care. I’ll just keep running and cross the line after the awards ceremony, but at least I will have finished. I didn’t look at the times before I signed up and they didn’t list a cutoff time, but last years times are posted now, and I will run it in about 15 to 20 minutes longer than the longest time listed. I assume this is because lolly-gagging, fat, barefoot or Vibram-clad, pushing-40s, running-for-fun women don’t generally sign up for 15K trail runs. I just hope my time doesn’t go down as a DNF because it took me too long to cross the line. I’ll just have to time myself with my watch and be unofficially proud of myself for finishing.

You see swimming and running are sports I play to finish, but racquetball, disc golf, basketball and those types of games are sports I play to be competitive. I don’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that I am exceptionally good at any of these sports, but I love to be competitive in them. I play hard. I win hard. Or, I lose hard, but I always have fun. I played racquetball with my friends Celeste and Sarah yesterday and had a blast! To me, the grueling workouts of running and swimming serve only to prepare my body for playing hard and having fun, not that I don’t have fun swimming or running—if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do them—but I don’t swim or run to play or compete. On second thought, maybe that’s why I am so drawn to trail running, because it’s fun, and so much more like playing than road racing could ever be?!?

Opening Day

Speaking of playing, baseball’s opening day is just around the corner! Go REDS! Their home opener is April 5 against the Florida Marlins. I hope to make it to several games this year, but we’ll see how the funding works out. If anyone wants to donate Red’s season tickets to my summer fun basket, let me know. I’d appreciate the dugout box, or the infield box seats. They’re reasonably priced. Ha!

The Light of the World

Today at church, Matt spoke about being the light of the world. He mentioned that we are “set,” or systematically placed to be the light of the world. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (TNIV). We are intentionally built as a city on a hill. We have God’s light inside us. We are to share that light in intentional ways.

St. Paul Cathedral at Night from MPR News

I have forgotten that I am supposed to be the light of the world. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time being the opposite of the light, repeatedly putting myself under a bowl. I’ve been the harbinger of pessimism, sadness, and anger. Lots of anger. How can I be the light while I am being angry? Matt showed us a video about Bob Goff, and in it, Goff said you can’t be angry if you keep your palms up. It’s easy to get angry when your fists are clenched or your hands are facing down, but it’s very difficult to get angry when your palms are facing up. Yet another example of the ways in which God designs our bodies to worship and not to harm: the physicality of our bodies guides the emotionality. I need to remember that.

My challenge to myself is to remember that I am where I am for a purpose. I need to ask myself everyday, “How is it that you are going to let God use you today?” And I need to make sure I face my palms up when I am meeting with colleagues. Does this mean I will do it all right? No. I am sure it doesn’t. But does it mean I will be a little more intentional about trying to be the light of the world, about trying to show God’s love to others? Yes. I certainly hope it does.