Day 364 of Being 39

Today my friend Teresa finished Racine 70.3 a full 45 minutes faster than she finished Muncie 70.3 last year. I am so proud of her, but I am also very jealous of her accomplishment. I was supposed to be there with her, finishing with her, improving my time from last year, too. But I wasn’t. We all know what I’ve been up to, which is not much in the way of physical activity.

I’m not beating myself up about this, but I am setting one goal for a race for this year: I will compete at the Muncie 70.3 next July 11, and I will improve my time from last summer. I have almost one full year to train for it.

Tomorrow is day one. Today is done and cannot be lamented. Tomorrow is a new opportunity.

I have a job at Caribou that starts this week.

I have two cigarettes left in my pack, but I’m throwing those away when I go in the house.

I have no beer or cider in the house.

Bec and I have a plan to get ourselves healthy again: no beer, a nice 3.3 mile walk every night to decompress, and healthy eating.

I also plan to start running, biking, and swimming again. Running and biking will be easy to pick back up, but swimming will have to come when we can afford a Y membership, or if I get this media specialist job I’m applying for and can join in with their community wellness program that includes open swim in the high school pool.

I interview tomorrow at 8:30, and we’ll go from there.

A new day is dawning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mug Shot Side View

Mug Shot Front View

Here is the route I walked today.

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

Here’s to a successful recovery. Again.

Minnesota Minute

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Tuesday, and My Wife Lives in MN

I haven’t really written anything (okay I’ve written things, but they are for my eyes only right now), since my beautiful wife moved to Minnesota to find a house and start a new job. I’m pleased to say that she loves her new job, and that the house she found up there is beautiful and super cool. Here’s a link to the listing. The coolest part about the house is the attic, which is finished, and which is the exact right size for a drawing and writing studio. I couldn’t be more pleased about the prospect of getting up in the night to climb a few stairs to go draw or paint. Now I need to somehow find a job or jobs to help pay my share of things. Anyone know of any good jobs in the Twin Cities that don’t require much intellectual thought or grading?

I’m going to spare you, the reader, of my past few months of darkness, though I mask it well, don’t you think? And, I’m just going to start afresh, like I have chosen to do, yet again, in my life. I’ve shared the questions, the doubts, the difficulties, and the pain with a few close friends, family, and my wife, so I think that’s enough wallowing in it. And, I’m just going to start afresh, like I have chosen to do, yet again, in my life.

Since last July 13, my weight has increased by 35 pounds, back up to 230 pounds on my 5’2″ frame. Yay, fun with fat! I checked my blood pressure the other day and it was 151/98 and my pulse was 65. For the past two months, I have been drinking at least two-three beers a night and smoking 4-5 cigarettes a day. I have consumed at least 32 ounces of caffeinated coffee each day, sometimes with extra shots of espresso in them. And, I haven’t run, swam, or biked pretty much at all. I feel like crap and I look like crap (and not because I’m fat; I’ve been fat my whole life, so I really don’t care about all that). I look blah and have dark circles under my eyes from eating things that I have intolerances for: wheat, corn, soy, and some dairy.

That being said, I ran two miles yesterday morning, and yesterday was the first day in a long time that I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or eat those things I shouldn’t. I know. Big whoop. First day. But every day is the first day of the rest of your life, right? And, as they say in AA: “One day at a time, man, one day at a time.”

So, today, for the second day, I’m trying to stay the path of abstinence, movement, and clean eating. I walked the dogs for a mile this morning, took it easy and had a decaf cappuccino, then came to school. I ate good food for breakfast, and I have good food for lunch. I’m hoping to run a mile right after school, then walk the dogs for another mile before finishing up my portfolio for class.

Ah! What a life. Grace. Always grace. It’s how I even exist.

Sunday, Sunday: Some Thoughts About Lent

WARNING: This post is very disjointed. Sorry about the hop, skip, jumpiness of it. In the words of Nehemiah: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Apparently, I can’t write today either. Ha!

I sat in church today thinking about the purpose of Lent. I noticed a couple of things that I’d like to find out more about. We didn’t do the confessional part of the liturgy, I suspect because Lent is supposed to be focused on being confessional. Our retired Rector, Fr. Charlie, unintentionally spilled the water that is hidden under the lectern for the speaker or preacher of the day, I suspect to remind us all in a hilariously accidental way of our baptisms and of our own humanity. I learned a new term: Ember Day. With a quick Internet search, I found that ember days are for prayer and fasting, and they are days that mark the quarters of the Christian calendar. I still would like to learn more about this new liturgical observation.

For me Lent has always been a time in the liturgical calendar to pray, fast, and re-find myself in the face of Christ. This year for me Lent is the most wilderness it has been for a long time. Mind you, I have been so far from Christ for a few years that I haven’t really paid any attention to Lent other than it being a season in the calendar. For a couple of years, we haven’t really regularly attended church, so Lent was just the thing that lead up to Easter. There’s this idea that the way we understand ideas or concepts is by gaining a better understanding of the opposite, and I am pretty sure I fully understand the beauty that is Christ because of my propensity to wallow in the opposite. I know the wilderness. I know the desert. At points in my life, I’ve known the barren lands so well that I never thought I’d find my way back, or want to.

But now I am here. In the symbolic wilderness of Lent. I feel the sadness. I feel the temptation. I feel the loneliness. I feel this in juxtaposition to the joy, the warmth, the holiness, and the grace I have felt in Christ since the first Sunday of Advent. I feel like I have been called home only to be cast back into the dark. The cross is covered. The baptismal font is gone. The confessions are removed form the liturgy. We are in utter theological darkness. This concept, as I tried (but poorly) to articulate in my post about the road trip, has never been so clear to me in my life as it is in this particular Lent season.

Because of our impending move, this Lent season brings for me lots of last moments. Yesterday when we were at the Mounds, I said to Bec, “Later this spring, I’ll bring you back and we can walk the route of the race I just ran, because it’s beautiful.” Only I won’t, because she’ll be in Minnesota. Later in the say I said to my brother, “Next year when we run this Shamrock Beer Run, we’ll know to get here really early or really late to avoid the horrible bottle neck at the start line.” He said back to me, “Only you won’t be here next year, you’ll be in Minnesota.” True. My parents brought Bec and me a few dozen eggs, and I thought to myself that pretty soon I’d not be getting delicious farm fresh eggs every week, nor would I be able to just call them up for a coffee or to see me run a race. So far this Lent I’ve had the intense pain and pleasure of having many lengthy conversations with both friends and family to help me discern my future.

Who am I? Who is God? Where do I find my worth? What makes me live? What is my calling? What brings me joy? What vexes me? How can I reconcile the various facets of my life? What the fuck am I doing? Why? Am I seeking God’s will? These are just a few of the questions I’ve wrestled with over the past few weeks.

At church this morning, the Eucharist had a different meaning for me, and I can assume for Bec, since we both shed a few tears when we went back to the pew to kneel and contemplate the mystery of Jesus’ body and blood. She carefully thread her arm through mine and held my hand tightly. I am not sure if it was for my benefit or hers. We both know this time of transition will be more difficult and longer than we’d like. At any rate, the Eucharist today gave me an intense hope in the future. The Eucharist has a beautiful of doing that: reminding me that God is bigger than the wilderness. No matter the darkness, no matter my lostness or helplessness, God is there. Christ is real and present in my friends and family. I am not alone in this journey. Jesus is there. With me. In the wilderness.

I love the season of Lent, because I allow myself time to think about the darker more mysterious parts of my Christian faith. And I hate the season of Lent for the same reasons. Perhaps this is why Easter brings such joy. I cling to this hope. I cling to the promise of a risen Christ.