Tag Archives: Biking

Sunday, Sunday and Mystic Monday

Well, I know you’re surprised that I got a bit behind, but, well, it happens. My mind races 90 miles an hour, but I’ve always been a slow moving person. The combination can be almost deadly. I’m a sloth with ADHD. Not pretty.

Sunday, Sunday

Since I forgot, or didn’t have time or motivation, to write yesterday, let me just mention briefly here that several of my goals go hand in hand and they are slowly beginning to be realized. Here are the goals, then I’ll tell you how I am realizing them: run a marathon, finish the Racine 70.3, ride a century ride on the bicycle, and swim the 5K at Big Shoulders in Chicago. This may seem like a lot to accomplish for most folks, but for me, the only one that even makes me nervous as far as completing it, since I’ve never completed one before, is the marathon. I swear on all that’s holy (sort of) that if I start this marathon in October and don’t finish . . . I’ll just try again next year. I’m nothing if not resilient. Or dumb.

I’ve signed up for the Medtronic marathon in the Twin Cities, the Racine 70.3. When I get paid on Friday, I’ll sign up for Big Shoulders and Headwaters 100. Of all of these events, I look forward most to Big Shoulders. I’ve never swum a 5K before, and I’ve never swum in Lake Michigan by Chicago, so it’ll be all kinds of new stuff. I’m most worried about Racine 70.3 on a “how will I look level”, because I think I’ll have to rent or buy a wetsuit, and squishing myself into a wetsuit is conceivably my very worst nightmare.

Imagine if you will: a giant caterpillar trying to shed its skin swimming in a lake.

Body segments and all.

That’ll be me in a wetsuit.

Eek.

I’m getting ready to ramp up my activity to train for all this mess. In fact, I’m adding swimming and biking back in gradually, so I can move up gently now that I am no longer sick. I swear I’ve felt drained for about three weeks, and I was really sick for about four days, which is really unlike me. It’s cool. Now if I can get some of this weight off and keep my foot from hurting, it’ll be a miracle.

Mystic Monday

“Listen. Look. Suffer and be still. Release yourself into the light. See with intellect. Learn with discretion. Suffer with joy. Rejoice with longing. Have desire with forbearance. Complain to no one. My child, be patient and release yourself, because no one can dig God out from the ground of your heart.” —anonymous, “The Silent Outcry”

I’m not really sure what to make of this little pamphlet of guidance. I understand what each sentence means, but when they’re thread together, I get nervous about what the writer means and how her advice might affect my daily life. I have no problem listening and looking, but that’s about where it stops. When I read “suffer and be still,” I think of people with mental illnesses who think suffering in silence is their best option, and I want to scream out, “No! Don’t suffer and be still. Tell someone you’re suffering.” I suppose, however, this writer refers to a spiritual suffering, not an emotional one. In which case, what does it even mean to suffer? I am unsure that I have ever actually suffered. For anything. In any regard. I move forward in the text and see three phrases that intrigue me, but mystify me as well.

“Release yourself into the light” could mean a variety of things. Does this text refer to the moments just before death? Given that the hearer is asked to listen, look, and suffer in silence, possibly the writer is speaking about death. But We can do all those things while wholly alive and well, too. “See with intellect” and “learn with discretion” appeal to me in every sense. And, of course, it reminds me a bit of the transcendentalists, who ask their readers to really see things, to look beyond their mundane usefulness and to locate the beauty, to really see the objects and to really understand them.

The writer then brings the text back around to suffering, longing, desiring, and complaining. The long and the short of this bit of advice seems to me to be that we should revel in whatever is happening around us, that we should simply be grateful we’re alive. Additionally, this part of the text seems to highlight our human need for binaries: suffer/joy, rejoice/longing, desire/forbearance, and complaint/silence. We’re to fully experience both emotions, so that we can rely on God. The last line of the excerpt above illustrates where the readers strength is supposed to come from: “no one can dig God out from the ground of your heart.” You may suffer, you may rejoice, you may experience desire, and you may not be able to tell anyone, but for certain, no one can dig God out from your heart. Like Psalm 1 says, “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” Likewise, contemplatives, mystics, people who seek to follow Jesus are like those same trees planted by the waters, wherein God is also like who is planted inside them. Listen, look, suffer and be still. Let the silence break the silence and rejoice in whatever comes your way.

 

 

Final Weeks of School. Half Ironman and Nutrition. Thoughts on Boston.

We’re quickly closing in on the end of the school year here in good ol’ east central Indiana. My students are antsy, and so am I. My colleague Abbie and I are getting ready to begin a really cool project with our students. For the entire month of May, our students will complete a self-directed project based on those topics, writers, texts, or themes that we were unable to cover throughout the school year, but the important part of the project is that they will not only choose their topics, they will also design their final essay/project based on their research. We’re really excited to do something that we think is pretty cutting edge for high schoolers. Of course, we’re requiring them to complete certain things during their course of study, but for the most part, it’s up to them to carry out the study while meeting with us once a week to discuss their work. I’m sure this project will beat the pants off of the ECA (end of course assessment) they’re required to take for the state.

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The Muncie 70.3 is twelve weeks away. I’ve been training, but this next week I put the pedal to the metal as the miles increase from here on out. I need some help with accountability, and I know that it’ll be obvious if I don’t train well, but I tend to skip workouts because of exhaustion from work. I’m hoping if I post MyTrainingSchedule here, some of you who read this and who correspond with me on Facebook or Twitter will help keep me honest. Seriously, I’d love it if you ask me once a week or so whether I am sticking to my training or not. I am generally pretty disciplined, but every little bit helps!

I’m also working on moving back to a mostly paleo diet for the fueling of this adventure. I’ve been “cheating” a lot and drinking beer, eating wheat products, and snacking on ice cream. None of these help me accomplish my goals: the alcohol makes me tired, the wheat makes me bloated and gaseous, and the ice cream makes my joints ache. When I eat paleo, I feel so much more energetic and clean. I am sure the food I eat will make or break my venture.

I’m also in need of losing a few more pounds so I don’t look like a sausage in my new Muncie Area Fun Squad tri-kit. If I train consistently and eat properly, I have no doubt that I’ll lose the 15 pounds I need to lose by July 13. Incidentally, I am pretty proud to be finishing this Half Ironman the week before my 39th birthday. Now I just need to finish a marathon by next July, and I will have accomplished both of my “before 40” goals. Maybe my “before 50” goals will be an ultra-marathon and a full Ironman! Haha!

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When I heard the news about the Boston Marathon bombing, I had several reactions, none of which I believe were any different than those reactions had by others: shock, dismay, fear, compassion, anger, love, and pretty much every other emotion a person can have, all rolled into one. I feel this way every time I hear of a tragic event like this one.

Now, a few days later, I just want us (humans) come together to provide healing for the victims, healing for the family of the two young men, a legitmate (not hate-influenced punishment) for the remaining bomber, grace to those people who can’t get past their hate, and safety for those folks who are part of big, un(or poorly)guarded sporting events like marathons. I don’t want people to be scared. I don’t want people to be angry. I don’t want people to seek revenge. I want peace. I want justice. And I want grace. I want to imagine.

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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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.