Category Archives: Whole 30

To Be or Not to Be —That is the Question

To be or not to be? That is the question:
whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
or to take arms against the sea of trouble
and, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep.
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
the heartache and the thousand natural shocks
this flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil
must give us pause. There’s the respect
that makes calamity of so long life.

I asked my British literature students to memorize at least fifteen lines from Hamlet. They had to write it on their blank paper, then explain what the lines meant, then explain why those fifteen lines were the ones they chose to memorize and why they were important in the context of the entire play. My students, in return, challenged me with the same, only I had to say mine in front of the class. The lines above are the lines I memorized, and you’ll notice there are only fourteen lines there. I wanted to memorize the first twenty lines, including these: “For who would bear the whips and scorns of the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of they unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bodkin bare?” I didn’t get all of them memorized for today, but I hope to have them by tomorrow. If you knew me, you’d know how difficult this was for me. I am horrible at memorizing things verbatim. I tend to live by the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law, if only because I can’t memorize it by the letter. I chose these lines, because, aside from them being wildly popular, I love their depth and their beauty. I would also like to memorize Gertrude’s lines about Ophelia’s death. Both soliloquy’s describe the ways in which the characters’ roles hem them in and confine them according to the cultural standards of the time period. I’m intrigued by that.

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Yesterday I spent the day with my brother. We started the day by running a 2.5-mile trial at Mississinewa Reservoir in Peru, IN. The trail was soft and muddy, so the running was slow and tedious with lots of roots and raspberry bushes reaching out to snag our legs. I had mud all over me. I even found some in my hair in the shower this morning. After we ran, we drove to Logansport and ate at a Thai/Philippine restaurant called Dinghy’s. We both had delicious, but really not healthy, food, and I had hot thai tea. From there we headed back to Peru to the McClure Family Orchard to sample some ciders and meads. They were good, but they weren’t really exceptional. The jalapeño one was especially odd. Finally, we headed back to Muncie via Upland, so we could stop at Ivanhoe’s for ice cream. Adam’s shake was horrible (apparently they have radically changed their milkshakes portions because there was almost no butterscotch, very few frosted flakes, and about ten mini-marshmallows in the whole thing), and my sundae was fine, but I ordered the wrong one, so there were no pecans on it. The day was excellent, though, and we had a great time spending the day doing sibling things!

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When I started this entry, it was April 2, so I suppose that tells you a bit about my life as of late. My life is too full of stuff. My life reminds me of this George Carlin skit about stuff:

I had too much stuff. So I re-quit my dissertation. I quit piano lessons. I’m about to quit doing most of the extra stuff I’ve been doing. I’m about to go through my stuff and quit some of it. But, because I have this sick will to fill the space with something, I am training for a Half Ironman I’ve mentioned here before. Now is the time to put the rubber to the road in a literal way on my bicycle and on my feet, and it’s time to put the flesh to the water?! Well, however you might say that, it’s time to get my shit together, because there are only fourteen weeks until showtime. I’ll be amping up the exercise and completing a Whole 30 starting tomorrow.

I also had so much stuff going on in my life, I didn’t get in a blog entry about Scotland. We went there for 8 days and 7 nights. We had the time of our lives with Andy and Claire. We stayed in Glasgow, Inverness, and Edinburgh. We got married in front of the Art Museum on the last day we were there. It was cold, it was rainy, and I had to wear the hat. I’ll write more about it later. I’m working on some serious essays about it, so I’ll let you know when they’re done.

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All of this brings me back to my goals I’ve set for this year:

  1. Cultivate joy. I am trying to cultivate joy in new ways, and I am trying to keep from falling back into those patterns that don’t bring me joy. I’m trying not to focus on the negatives. Some days this is easier than others.
  2. Consume cleanly. For about a month, I’ve been really lax on the foods I’ve eaten. I’ve eaten lots of sugar, alcohol, and even some wheat. My body is not happy with me. My blood pressure was a bit higher last time I checked it, and my allergies have been acting up something fierce. I believe that if I get my food consumption under control, my lungs will be much less likely to be congested, making my breathing better.
  3. Exercise. I’ve been running at least a mile every single day. I think four days this year I’ve been too tired to run, so I’ve at least walked. I’d say that running 91 out of 95 days is pretty decent. I’ve also done some swimming and some biking, but this week is when I really put my nose to the grindstone.
  4. Be intentional. I’m working on this one.
  5. Play. I’m working on this one, too. Possibly getting rid of some of the stuff I’ve been doing will give me a bit more time to play.
  6. Stand up. Yep. The GSA is thriving, so I’d say, at the very least, I’m standing up for my GLBT students and their allies. It’s good stuff.

 

The End and the Beginning

New Year’s Eve asks us to look back into the past year in order to assess where we’ve been, and it simultaneously begs us to look forward with hope that our future is brighter than, or at least as bright as, our past. Everybody and their brother is posting their reflections and their resolutions, so I figured why shouldn’t I. At the very least, this post will give my friends a heads up about the resolutions I’ll be breaking come January 3rd or 4th.

Obviously, if you’ve read this blog in the past year, you’ll notice that the past 365 days haven’t been a cakewalk for me. While my life has been incredibly blessed, I’ve had a really difficult time recognizing my blessings and reveling in them. My goals for this year in no particular order were:

  1. Eat paleo.
  2. Watch less TV.
  3. Exercise in a variety of ways (including swimming) while running (barefoot) a race a month.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Read more, including the Bible and Common Prayer.
  6. Play and find my inner hippie again.
  7. In short, do things which bring me joy. Relax.

Listing my goals out like that reminds me of Benjamin Franklin and his list of 13 Virtues or John and Charles Wesley’s tabulations of their moral behaviors. I suppose if I am going to list my resolutions or goals, I should keep track of how well I am doing with them in some manner. I don’t. I ate mostly paleo and lost about 50 pounds (I did gain some of that back this holiday season!). I can’t say I’ve watched less television; in fact, I may have watched more (Oh, Mariska, how you tempt me!). I did exercise a lot, but not as much as I would have liked. I finished my first triathlon, so that’s pretty decent. I totally left out meditation and prayer for a good portion of the year. I felt so disconnected, and I am not sure whether my lack of meditation caused the disconnection, or if I didn’t meditate because I felt disconnected. Either way, I didn’t spend enough time alone with my thoughts and God. I read a lot more, but not the specific texts I mentioned I would focus on. I played more, and playing was lovely. I did things which should have brought me joy, but they didn’t always. Instead I feel as if I just focused on the negative, even when I swore I would focus on the positives. I’m a realist; it’s difficult for me to be to be positive. I am going (to try to) to fix that this year. #PollyAnna2012 will become #joyful or #merrymaking or #radicaljoy for this year.

In short, I want this year to bring less of this:

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And much, much more of this:

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Speaking of this year, here are my goals in order of their current importance to me and my mental and physical well being:

  1. CULTIVATE JOY: Do things which me bring me joy. Embrace the random. Enjoy the mediocre. Don’t stress over things I can’t control. Live in the moment and revel in those I spend my time with. Put down my phone or my other distractions and really love and live the moment.
  2. CONSUME CLEANLY: Eat better food. Drink less cider and more water. Put into my belly those foods which will best fuel my body for physical activities and mental joy. I’m going to attempt to jumpstart this with a new Whole 30, beginning on January 7. I want a clean slate and a clean body for the new year.
  3. EXERCISE: Exercise in a variety of ways (including swimming) while running at least a mile a day. Finish a Half Ironman triathlon before my 39th birthday. Carpool or walk or ride my bike to work every day. Use the body and the buses for transportation as frequently as possible.
  4. BE INTENTIONAL: Watch no TV, except an occasional movie. Use social media for no more than half an hour each day. Replace the time spent on nothingness and meaningless conversation with strangers with pursuits of intellect and kinship. Meditate, pray, read, and contemplate theological and academic things. Practice silence. I also would love to finish this dissertation.
  5. PLAY: Play and find my inner hippie again. In the spring, I’ll start a disc golf club at school.
  6. STAND UP: Begin standing up against injustice in a real and tangible way. Use grace and love to resist those things which are unethical or immoral. Help the Burris GSA, Prism, to be more active and visual by bringing meaningful activities into my students’ lives.

These are my hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions for 2013. I hope to use Sunday mornings to write in this space about these goals and about current events. I will begin tomorrow morning, though it isn’t Sunday, by writing in depth about that first goal of practicing joy. Practicing joy will no doubt be my most difficult goal, but for me it is by far the most important. I can’t have another year like this year. Any suggestions you have about cultivating joy are welcome! How do you cultivate joy?

For some running inspiration, join us with this challenge:

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The Day Before the Day Before Christmas: Spiritual and Physical

Spiritual Things Today was the last Sunday in Advent, and I am a bit ashamed to say that I didn’t make it to church one time during my second favorite season in the liturgical calendar. I’ve been using my Sundays to catch up on grading and the like since school started this year, and apparently the impending coming of the Christ child really didn’t make enough of an impact on me for me to change my ways in anticipation. Unwittingly, I’ve become one of those Gen-Xers who just doesn’t have time for a child, even a holy one. Sadly, I think I’m becoming a Gen-Xer who doesn’t have time for anyone; I’m so focused on career-oriented trivialities that it seems as if many of my relationships aren’t what they could be, or should be, or used to be.  Maybe my posting of this quote on Facebook was some sort of wake-up call to myself: “There comes a time when it is vitally important for your spiritual health to drop your clothes, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Here I am. This is the body-like-no-other that my life has shaped. I live here. This is my soul’s address.” Barbara Brown Taylor is hands down my favorite theologian/preacher, and her words remind me that I need to get my spiritual shit together. My spiritual life doesn’t look like anyone else’s, because it is mine. My body, my physicality, my experiences and how they’ve shaped me, like it or not, are my soul’s address. The scars and the decorations are all a part of who I’ve become in Christ. My soul’s address, unfortunately, looks a bit more tattered and torn than some of yours.

Physical Things The newest goal I’ve set for myself is to complete a Half Ironman. There’s a race here in Muncie on July 13, just a week before my 39th birthday. My friend Teresa has already signed up for the race, and I plan to sign up for it in January. That being said, I’ve got a long way to go in seven months to be able to complete it. I’d love to complete it in some sort of respectable time as well. I am pretty sure the running will be the most difficult for me and the swimming will be the easiest. I’m still hoping to finish a trail marathon before I’m 40, but I think this goal takes precedence over the 26.2 mile jog. All of this means I really need to step up the exercise regimen f0r the next seven months, including adding some strength training to the running, biking, and swimming. I really wish the morning swim was an option, but I just can’t deal with the grumpy ancient ones, so I’ll deal instead with the master’s swim team who works out at night. Yay.

Strange, then, with all this thinking about my body and exercise that I can’t seem to kick my addiction to sugar. I feel so much better when I am not eating sugar, but unleash me on some fudge and watch me go! I have devoured nearly a whole recipe of eggnog white chocolate fudge this week: that’s THREE cups of straight-up white sugar in one week, which doesn’t even include all the other candies I’ve eaten. Wow. I’m going to try another round of this Whole 30 business starting on January 7. A friend of mine who’s been quite successful with her Whole 30 adventures is willing, yet again, to have me tag along. I made it 16 days the last round and then ate some ice cream. This time I am going to have plenty of legal fruit on hand for those nights when ice cream seems like the thing that will cure all of my ills. Fruit and water seems like a legitimate replacement for ice cream, right? I just need to keep reassuring myself with the words of Violet Beauregard’s mother from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: “Eyes on the prize, Violet. Eyes on the prize.” Perhaps if I remind myself in such a way not to eat sugar, it’ll happen. And, hey, I’ve got this pesky 40 pounds I’d like to lose before lugging it around for 70.3 unnecessary miles.

Unnerving Things I have been trying to avoid thinking about the stuff in Connecticut, but in trying to avoid it, I think my mind just keeps returning to it. Sometimes not thinking about something, failing to deal with it, really becomes the means by which the thing haunts you. My God-daughter is 6 and in kindergarten. My grandchildren will one day go to public school. My President broke down in tears. I cannot even imagine the terror in the hearts of the parents whose children attend Sandy Hook. I cannot imagine the giant holes torn in the fabric of the hearts of the parents whose children died in those classrooms. I can, however, imagine the last fleeting thoughts of the teachers in those rooms, because they are the same as the thoughts I’d have in that situation. They are the same thought that any teacher of any type of worth would have: I must help these children. I must save them. I must do something, though I feel as if I can only do nothing. I feel helpless in the face of this.

In a similar vein, I feel helpless in the face of the sadness experienced on a daily basis by so many of the teenagers I work with. I am Facebook friends with many of my students through a teacher-only account I’ve set up for this school year, and I can scroll back through previous posts and just sense this overwhelming sadness. Is it cultural? Is it spiritual? Is it emotional? Who’s to blame? The parents? The teachers? The students? Politics? So many of my students just appear to seem so hopeless. When I was sixteen, I thought I would change the world. Were we more naive then? I just don’t get it. I feel helpless, but not hopeless.

Eight Beautiful Things in Life: A List

I’ve been sitting here trying to think about what to write, and though my ideas are pouring out of me, they aren’t really cooperating and being coherent. I’ve been having the same problem for a while now. I can think of all sorts of ideas and concepts I want to discuss, but I can’t get them to come out in a logical fashion. My thoughts have been coming out in images: So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens, right? Short snippets of songs: mystic crystal revelations, Aquarius. Short bursts of my favorite artistic visions:

Paris Street Rainy Day

As much as I try to gather my thoughts and put them in some sort of order, they just shoot out of me like children throw those little pop-its on the Fourth of July. Random. Loud. And extra-annoying. So, I’ve decided to make a list of eight beautiful things that have happened in my life within the last two weeks.

Eight Beautiful Things in No Particular Order

  1. I cut my 5K time by 6 minutes. I went from a PR of 41 minutes to a PR of 35:17. This was beautiful to me, because after five or more years of running, I started to actually feel like a runner. I ran 11-minute miles. Three of them. Consecutively. Not only that, but I got up the next morning and ran a mile, and got up the next morning (this morning) and ran four more. My body felt like it was singing at mile four, and I felt as if I could have kept going for another four miles. Suddenly, running doesn’t feel like a job; running feels like a joy. My new goal for the half marathon is 2:45.00 or less.
  2. My students read and discussed “The Wasteland,” and I think they liked the poem. They were engaged, they were thoughtful, and they seemed to finally get Modernism. Maybe when I teach Modernism next time, I will start with “The Wasteland” to set up the unit. I feel like I have new eyes for this poem, because it was never one I really enjoyed, but my students were really able to relate to the fragmentation of it, and they had so many ideas about why “April is the cruelest month.” The lines that seemed to resonate the most with them were these: “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images, where the sun beats, and the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, and the dry stone no sound of water.” I wonder if they can relate to this feeling of despair in a way that I can’t, because I swear to you, this poem has never had the meaning for me that it does now.
  3. I can actually recognize the melodies of some songs that I have been playing on the piano. I know sharps and flats, slurs and ties, eighth through whole notes and rests, and how to start on the upbeat. I can play a weird version of “Mary Jane,” “Clementine,” “In the Valley,” “Jolly Good Fellow,” and “When the Saints Go Marching.” I can also play an F, G7, and C chords. Basically, I feel good about this piano thing, and what feels really good about it is that I feel so relaxed when I am muddling through the few songs I know. Having something that doesn’t involve reading or exercise to help relieve my stress is perfect, especially this year.
  4. Fall is the most beautiful season when it’s fall. Spring is the most beautiful . . . Summer is the most beautiful . . . Winter is the beautiful . . . But it’s fall now, and fall is the most beautiful when the trees are fully dressed in their brightest colors and the limbs are shifting and dancing in the wind. Fall is beautiful when the rain falls lightly down creating a haze of the lights reflecting on the river and when the days are shirt-sleeve warm, but the nights need a fireplace warming. When the leaves crunch and the birds take flight, fall is the most beautiful.
  5. After I helped my dad butcher some chickens, I learned that I could sustain myself through farming. We raised quite a bit of produce through three minuscule gardens in our city front and back yards, and we made at least five weeks of food-base (broth and meat) from two chickens. I am pretty sure that given a larger farm and a part-time job, I could grow, process, and store up plenty for our family for the year. We might even be able to cut out the grocery for a good portion of the late summer and early fall. I’d even make sure to grow things we’ve never had to keep our mouths interested in home-grown foods.
  6. My brother and I started our first batch of hard cider yesterday. We are brewing five gallons of honey-cider to try an initial test run. Adding honey theoretically makes the cider more alcoholic because the yeast has more sugar to feed off of. I am hoping it will give it a nice clover-y taste so there will be a uniqueness to our cider. We have to let this sit for two weeks or until it stops bubbling, then one more week to let the yeast sift down. Then we have to add in a bit more sugar, so it will carbonate, before we siphon the cider off into another bucket. Once it’s in the other bucket, we stir it up and bottle it. This cider thing, if it works, will be one of our greatest sibling cooperative efforts.
  7. Through a rigorous paleo diet and running at least a mile every day, I am within 5 pounds of weighing 200 pounds. When I get down to 196.4, I will have lost 60 pounds, and as it is right now, I’ve lost 50-55 pounds, depending on the day. I’m well within range of my goal of 170—I don’t want to lose Athena status for running—and I am so excited. Bec asked me if I wanted to buy some clothes when I reached my goal weight. Yes, I do, but first, I want some new body art! Always with the tattoos!
  8. I got to spend the evening with my friend Lyn, who is an artist. We sat at the Yart Sale here in Muncie while people looked at her art, asked for lots of business cards, and then didn’t really buy much.I’m not so sure that people just buy art right out anymore. I mean, we do, but I think we’re atypical. Most people look, mull it over, look some more, mull it over some more, look again, mull it over again, and then maybe buy it. It’s a little disheartening if you’re an artist, I would think. What the Yart Sale did for me, though, is two things: (1) I got to spend time with one of my dearest friends, and (2) I got to soak up all that artiness, all that beauty, all that truth, and all that grace. That evening made me fall in love again with art, and I would argue that’s what’s making my thoughts come out all discombobulated. Art poisoned my logical mind: “I feel certain that I’m going mad again. [. . .] And I shan’t recover this time” (Virginia Woolf).

Untitled, Skull

How I Feel Right Now (Stream of Consciousness-ish)

I am sitting in my classroom with my best class. They are working on their student led discussions or on reading the texts for the next week. They are taking advantage of their work day in a way my other classes don’t. They are actually working. Two of my girls actually got really excited about how their SLD is going to go tomorrow; they are planning to play a card game called Mafia, but they’re basing it on Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience somehow. I won’t pretend to understand what they were talking about, but they are smart women. I am sure it will be fine and meaningful. These students are so not who I was when I was in high school. I don’t wish I could go back. I would never wish that on anyone. I do wish I would have made some different choices. But don’t we all.

I feel like a failure. I failed my Whole 30. Again. I failed my run streak. Again. I had a bad attitude yesterday. Again. I need to remind myself that “when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, dust myself off, start all over again.” Again. I need to remember that I am human, though I fancy myself to be Wonder Woman. I am not.

I just ordered Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. I want it to revolutionize my faith, but I think it probably won’t. I’m willing to try, though. I want it to. I want a revolution. I want change. I want communism to come to us. I want consumerism (ha, funny since I just ordered a book) to end. I want for Americans to be satisfied with themselves, instead of with the belongings. I want a backpack filled with joy to live from. I want to get rid of all my possessions. I want to make art. Or write. Or play with children with jump ropes and sidewalk chalk. I want to walk. To the ends of the earth and then dive into the ocean.

I just signed up for the Red Gold Run to Crush Hunger. I don’t really like 5Ks, but this one benefits my brother’s school somehow, so we’re doing it. It takes the whole first mile for me to warm up, and then I’m hit or miss for the next two. I like longer runs because my breathing smoothes out and my legs get used to what I am asking them to do. I prefer a 10K or a 15K to anything else. I haven’t run one of those for almost a year. When I didn’t finish the marathon, my little sails, my meager hopes and dreams, were a bit deflated. No matter. In December, my friend Emily and I are going to run the Santa Hustle Half Marathon. Which I may have already said here, but I’m just talking off the top of my head. In case you could’t tell that by the scattered nature of my thoughts. I’m enjoying my new Altras now that I have run a few more miles in them. It was nice to have a bit more cushion for my 4.1 miles on Saturday (or was it Sunday?). My legs didn’t hurt at all the next day.

Here is a little ditty by the Violent Femmes. There thoughts are my thoughts about media, but I don’t hate the President. I actually love him. I have nothing else to say. I’ve rambled on long enough.