Category Archives: Life

Thinking …

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I made a stupid comment the other day. To one of my running friends. Out of the blue, I said, “I think I’m going to try a 1/2 marathon.”

Understand I haven’t been running, “for real”, since October.

What the heck possessed me in that moment? ˜

Sure, I want to start running again. I need to start running again. There’s the physical aspect (how strong I felt when I was running) but there’s also the emotional benefits. Change is the ONLY constant in my life right now. I remember finishing a run, physically drenched with sweat and sometimes sick to my stomach, but having enough endorphins in my system to take me through most of the day.

I need … something. Today, walking through the grocery store, I realized I was talking myself down the entire time … warding off an unwarranted panic attack. My life is good. Incredible, even. And yet there is this constant unknown that stalks me. I often use “busy” as my drug of choice, because it keeps me focused away from whatever is happening in my heart. And “busy” is acceptable, because it gets stuff done, and there is always someone willing to accept help for something.

Running did that for me. I was better — consistently better — when I was running 3-4 times a week.

But really? A half marathon? There is no way I could do that. I’m old, and out of shape. I lack discipline. I’m really a lazy person, so to even start running again seems like such a stretch … and yet, the idea that I could run 13. 1 miles? I mean, seriously?That’s a little more than 6 1/2 miles one way, turning around, then running all.the.way. back to wherever I started from.

I looked up a walk/run plan that would get me race ready by the third week of October. Do you know that part of that plan has me going 10 miles at a time on some beautiful fall Saturday yet to be determined??!!?? I just don’t know …

Commitment. It’s not something I’m known for. I’m good at follow through, but the whole “getting me to commit” is a big thing for me. Still, the idea of doing something I absolutely thought would never, ever interest me is intriguing.

If you would have told me a year ago I would have flown 15 hours to see my kids in China, I might have said, “Yeah, probably not.” If you would have told me I would make a good chunk of the food for a wedding reception of 300-ish, I would have said, “Not likely.” If you would have hinted to me I’d shoot my first wedding for my nephew and actually enjoy it — and felt fairly competent in the process — I would have shook my head. If you would have told me a couple of years ago I’d actually enjoy being a part of a local church, I would have probably said bad words to you.

So … I don’t think this “thing” is out of the question. I’m not willing to jump in quite yet. But I have stopped saying “No freakin’ way.” I’m finding that without some type of challenge, I will simply grow old. And that’s NOT my plan. Half marathon? Maybe that’s the next thing. I guess we’ll see …

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I am a problem.

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I’d like to begin this post with a disclaimer: I’m not 100% sure about the whole “Obamacare” bill, and what it will mean to America. I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court is in position not just to agree with what I believe (or don’t believe) and that since many of them have been there many more years than the 3 our current President has been in office, I don’t think they are there simply to do the will of our current president. That being said, I’d like to tell you what I do know.

I know that our family has not been able to afford health care for the last few years. Fortunately, my kids have benefited from a plan provided for Michigan children, and they have had good coverage throughout the years. We are blessed that we are a relatively healthy family. We practice good health habits, and when we are sick, I’m a big believer that extra rest, extra fluids, and extra love from your mommy takes care of a lot of “regular” sicknesses.

For years, we felt like we could not afford health care. The one that was “provided” by my husbands employer was very expensive, and at that time, he didn’t make enough money to have health care and for us to make the family choices we thought important. We did the budget numbers, and we could not make it work. So we chose.

Now, he is working a job where it’s possible. He works full-time (more than full time, if truth be told), and I work part-time. We have two children in college who are also working to help themselves get through. We budget, we menu-plan, we shop thrift. Garage sales are a treat for us, and while we do spend money on travel, we overall are savers.

I know that, for the last two years, my husband and I have tried diligently to get health care. We have researched many sources. We have saved money to help pay for it. We have applied at least 3 times and have been told:

1. I had a “pre-existing” heart condition, and wasn’t eligible. Well, one time, two years ago, I went to the emergency room at my local hospital with chest pains. I had multiple echo-cardiograms, an ultrasound, multiple blood tests, and a stress test. I was told my heart was fine — it was most likely stress (due to a recent move and other activities). My doctor and the hospital gave me an all-clear. What the insurance read was one doctor who glanced at my chart while doing rounds on the hospital didn’t write something specific on my chart they were looking for. So, I had a “heart” issue. After going to the hospital multiple times, sending at least 3 separate copies of my records to the insurance, after getting my family doctor to sign off … then the insurance would consider our charts. Amazingly, I no longer had a heart issue with them. However …

2. My weight/blood pressure ratio wasn’t acceptable. When I asked what that meant, and what the numbers should be (as a goal), I was told they weren’t at liberty to tell me those numbers — they were just not acceptable. Understand that my blood pressure is totally under control, and has been for 5 years with a simply diuretic. So, I lost some weight. I started running regularly. My bp now runs on the low side of normal. So, I applied again.

3. The last time, they told me I was anemic. I said, “That’s interesting. I’ve never, ever been told that before in my life.” They said the test that was taken two years ago when I went into the hospital with chest pains showed two of the however many indicators they have were low, and since the doctor in the emergency room didn’t say on the chart it might be because I was stressed, they have to assume I’m anemic “until I get another blood test.” Oh, and by the way, since we just heard from them (after my husband repeatedly calling them for two months), our 3 month “period” of application was almost out, so we’d have to start the ENTIRE process all over again … complete with new blood tests.

We are healthy. Both my husband and I have high blood pressure, which is controlled by medicine, and has been for years. Aside from them, we have NO medical problems.

We are fortunate! We have a doctor who will let us pay on a sliding scale. We use generic meds. We take vitamins, eat “fairly” healthy … and yes, we will continue to bang away attempting to get insurance, regardless of what the Supreme Court or anyone else says. And we will pay for it ourselves.

I’m a problem because I don’t view myself as “sucking off society.” I am a problem because the health system is broken for us, and while we continually try to “do the right thing,” we are still uninsured.

I’m a problem because I don’t want anyone to “take care of me,” and I don’t want to “depend on the government” or anyone else, for that matter. But the way things are now, it’s not working for our family, and for many other families I know.

Sorry to be a problem to those of you who have everything figured out. Again, I’m NOT saying what’s happening right now is the answer to it all. But before we start grouping everyone under a heading or label just because the system works for us, think about compassion and love first, OK? Throwing stones — especially when they are heaved with what feels like a bit of self-righteous indignation — you might hit people you don’t intend to injure.

One more time: Not sure what’s happening right now is going to be any better — or worse.  Not saying I have the answers. But I am asking for love and grace first.

DIEt and eXercise …

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I’ve been around the block a time or two. As I approach my … ahem … “F-ing” birthday a couple of years from now (thanks, friend Barb Stebbins!) I keep searching for the “magic” formula that will help me feel healthy and fit for the next half century (once I reach 100, I’ll re-evaluate).

I like to walk. And walking is something I can do. But consistency is my constant nemesis.I like the thought of walking 4 miles a day … but the actually pulling my sorry carcass out of bed in the morning early enough in the morning to make the routine work for my crazy life is my roadblock many mornings.

I like to eat healthy. I tend to be pulled toward vegetarian, although I’m not anti-meat. I like whole grains, whole vegetables and fruit, and am really not a sweet freak. I love to cook! Most days I’d rather cook and eat at home than eat fast food. I love experimenting with spices, and my family is pretty flexible when it comes to trying new things. I love menu planning (two weeks at a time) and so I have absolutely no reason not to eat healthy all the time.

So … what is my problem?

I also know all about South Beach, Atkins, HGH “micro” calories, portion control, calorie counting, “good fat,” “bad carbs,” and even been reading my friend’s take on the “cave man” diet. I know processed food is the bane of healthy existence, and the closer to nature, the better the nutrition. AND I know “diet” is a bad word when it means restricting food, but a lifestyle choice of healthy and balance is the way to change.

I do all of the above — for a while, and on occasion.

My inability to commit to a healthy lifestyle is simply indicative of my inability to commit to anything long-term. I have one commitment I’ve kept for almost 25 years. I tease the husband and tell him how lucky he is, because commitment is not one of my strong suites.

I find this problem tugging me in a lot of places. My writing, my study, my desire to travel and experience life and try different things. I rationalize myself out of “just doing things,” because I am concerned it will impact my family. I feel like I “should” pour myself into whatever my husband and kids do … but I’m starting to think sometimes I use that as another excuse to simply … not try.

Maybe I’m just lazy?  Yet, I run at a fairly high level most days, and can’t honestly say I see myself as that way. Or maybe it’s fear — not so much fear of failure as fear of success. I know that sounds … stupid. But if I would focus on getting healthier, what would I have to give up? The benefits would probably outweigh the cost, but what if it didn’t? Or, what if I did commit to actually practice and hone my craft as a writer?  What would I have to give up to succeed? And is it because I am “comfortable,” and afraid that if I bring about a major change in my life, it will quickly spiral into another “normal” that might be good for me, but not necessarily for those I care most about?

I like change. I’d tell you that all day and night. But change for ME is much different from change for those around me. My life has been tumulus at times. In my family, stability is highly valued. I’m OK in the crashing waves, but not everyone I love and care about would say that. Would I be trading the happiness of the people I love the most for the discipline of actually sticking to something long enough to succeed?

I’m sure everyone struggles at some point along this continuum of “me” and “you.” Wrestling within our souls to find that place where everyone is … happy? No, I know that’s impossible. I know the only person I can make “happy” is myself. I also know the contentment of other people in my life doesn’t depend on me … even though most days I feel like it does. Even though I’m told one thing, I feel selfish when my actions benefit me more than those around me.

How do you find the balance? I’d love to hear from my friend as to how they decide what is OK to label “mine” and what to share with those they love. I highly doubt everyone has people in their lives that simply “work it out” without struggle, because we are all so different as individuals.

So give me some input. Don’t tell me what to do — tell me what YOU do to find the balance within.

It’s the little things …

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Today was a good day. Ninety-two in September … a trip to the Farmer’s Market, grocery shopping with the Husband and lion-boy, stopping at “Guitar Center,” and picking up some much-needed musical equipment. BLT’s to celebrate “National Bacon Day,” both of my kids still in school beginning (on their own, I might add) their assignments three days before “school” starts (that’s a first, I tell ya!). Now, watching “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Today was a day of little blessings that culminated with an incredible kindness by a friend. Angie is a sweet woman from our church. She is quiet, yet strong. Amazingly observant (something I am not), and her entire family exudes gentleness. Tonight, she stopped by after telling the Husband, “I found something at a garage sale for your wife she might like.”

I have a lot of history with “church people.” Much of it is good, I’ll admit. But there have been times people have “thought” to give me clothes because they were embarrassed by the way I or my children dressed. Or books they thought I would “be interested in” because they spotlighted things these fine folks thought I should change. Or times when people would come to our house and inform us our vehicles were an “embarrassment” to them, so much so they could never invite their friends to our church.

I try to focus on the good, you know? But some of the wounds inflicted “in Jesus name” are difficult to heal.

So, when someone (who I believe to be wonderful) says something like that, my heart is torn between what I “want to believe” and what I have been subjected to. I tell myself, “Think the best, think the best, think the best …” but honestly, I struggle.

So, when Angie came by tonight, I put on a smile, and went to see her. “I found this,” she said, and handed me a cup. “I noticed you collect these, and wondered if you had this one.” She was right — we collect goofy things but that hold very special places in our family mythology. And the cup she found … the cup she found was one of eight. I had seven. The one she found … was the one cup I was missing.

Crazy. Crazy that this busy woman was observant enough to notice we even had these cups. Crazy that she was so thoughtful that she would be out and about, thinking about us. Crazy that the one missing cup from this collection was found at a garage sale, fully intact and boxed, and “just happened” to be a sale my friend Angie stopped by.

Crazy enough that a God I often doubt cares about me can use a little thing to further my faith.

So here’s to a day of small things that culminated in a very big thing for me. May I etch this day in my heart, so that when the days are not so beautiful, I remember, and still believe tomorrow can be better.

The End is Near

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This is directly taken from Chris Guillebeau, world traveler and author of the blog, “The Art of Nonconformity.”(http://chrisguillebeau.com/about-the-project/). I liked it so much, I copied the most recent e-mail article in its entirety:

“The End is Always Near

Have you heard the one about the end of time? Yep — it’s on the way.  Every day, we lose another 1,440 minutes that will never return. Farewell, minutes! Goodbye, opportunities. The other day I noticed I had been thinking “I’ll do that in the summer” about a lot of things. Then I realized, hey, it’s late August already… seriously? How did that happen?

However it works, time marches on. 

This is a friendly reminder to stop living mindlessly. Spend your days in pursuit of joy and adventure. Help someone and create something that will endure. The end is (always) near.”

He’s right, you know. I have often said, in the course of discussion with people philosophizing or touting a specific “end of times” message, “Well, today is SOMEBODY’S last day …” The time we’re given here on earth is precious, yet much of it I spend frittering away, worrying about things that don’t happen. Mark Twain famously said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” I’m not a worrier usually, but it seems like the older I get, the more I want to gather things to myself and think somehow they “depend on me.”


Truth is, they don’t. There is very little in this life I control in terms of circumstances and people.

But what I can control is myself, and the use of the 1,440 minutes I am given every day. That’s been my focus this summer. To take hold of every minute, and live it as to not create any opportunity for regret. Regret, like worry, is a waste of time. And time is precious, and measured, and I only have so much.

So here’s to really, truly living: Mindfully, adventurously, and lovingly.