Janathon Capsule

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Done!

Today is the final day of Janathon.  Woo hoo!  To end it, I went to kettlebells and sweated it out with the cards workout.  Then, because my mileage for the week wasn’t up to snuff, I ran 3 miles on the treadmill.  I felt pretty good yet awfully hungry afterwards. Don’t worry.  I stretched thoroughly after both the class and the extra credit run.  I also ate a good snack.  You’re welcome!

I managed to blog (some more coherent than others) and do something physical every day this month, even if it was only stretching.  I ran 66 miles this first month of 2014.  I swung kettlebells at least 9 times, most of those in a class setting.  One of those classes I got to teach.  Huzzah!  I’m not sure they’ve forgiven me yet.

What did I learn?  Good question.  It’s important to do *something* physical every day.  It doesn’t need to be strenuous.  We simply weren’t made to sit on our heinies all day long.  Get outside and take a walk. What’s a little (pointy) rain? I wish I had the Doug to keep me company.  Then I would have to emerge from my cave at least twice a day.  I also am finally appreciating what I can do.  I might not be the strongest or the fastest, but my body can do amazing things. I’m learning to celebrate successes on a daily basis, part of changing my mind to focus on the good (Phil 4:8).

I had no idea who else would be participating in this crazy month of exercising.  I mean, January, of all months!  I’d much rather it was August or September, when the world is colorful, warm and dry.  Sigh.   However, this is the month of new beginnings and fresh starts.  It makes sense in a calendar-type way.  But I digress.

I met some great folks in January – runliverpool, fitfor365, shazruns, pausingplace and many others. They represented the UK well.  Thanks for inspiring me with your great running stories.  You make me want to do more, try more, race more. Thanks for sharing your journey with me and the rest of the world.  You are heroes, whether you know it or not.  Fighting inertia is the greatest unsung battle of our age.  Someone needs to write a song about it, like a drinking song.  Or maybe a haiku…

Battle inertia
Fight the creaky joints and fat
Believe and succeed

Maybe someone else?  Anyone?  How about a Februthon?

Thanks for playing with me, and thanks for reading.  What a great recess.

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The Beauty of Waiting

I ran 3 miles today.  The skies cleared off.  The air, fresh and sweet from yesterday’s rain, blew chilly on my face.  Wish I could say the run was wonderful, but that would be a lie.  It was just okay.  I sorta slogged through. The sunshine made it better.  I thought about doing more later on today.  Then I thought again.  I want to reach my mileage goal for the week.  I don’t want to kill myself, however.  Kettlebells class wore me out.  Thank goodness the last of Janathon is tomorrow.

It’s come to my attention that I suck at trusting.  I know I’ve written about this before.  I’m the “I’ll do it myself” type.  I’m organized, focused and sometimes too rigid. And those are my good points! If things go wrong, i.e., not according to my plan, I have a hard time believing they will turn out alright.   Bruised relationships nag at me.  Doing  just “good enough” won’t cut it for me.  I want to make it all better, yet I don’t know how.  I have to trust God and others and give it time.  Marking time has become the norm for months now in some areas of my life.

As I sit here and type this, I realize  again that life is not all or nothing.  After the morning sun, the rain arrived.  The western sky darkened. It poured.  The cold wind blew.  Then suddenly, the blue sky appeared.  Now, the sun glows behind a curtain of white clouds.  It’s still out there.  Waiting is not wasting time.  The sun will return at the appointed time, shining down on a beautiful world.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Powerpuff Proficiency

We had a small kettlebells class today, only 5 including the instructor.  She decided to change things up and do stationary circuits with one minute of doing a particular exercise and 15 seconds off.  The sets of swings were okay.  Squat presses?  Not so much.  I won’t even mention the high-low planks.  Good times.  Roll on, Janathon.

Ruby found this show resurrected by our cable company.

powerpuff-girls-wallpaper

Oh joy.  This particular cartoon became popular long after I stopped watching them.  I’ve (reluctantly) watched a few shows.  We try to screen what the kids watch, get a feel for what’s out there.  Generally, anything on PBS is good – educational, even.  Power Puff Girls appear to be harmless, if a bit frenetic.

The trio of sisters have a test tube history.  Wikipedia has the scoop:

The Powerpuff Girls is an American animated television series created by animator Craig McCracken and produced by Cartoon Network Studios for Cartoon Network. The show centers on Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, three girls with superpowers, as well as their “father”, the brainy scientist Professor Utonium, who all live in the fictional city of Townsville, USA. The girls are frequently called upon by the town’s childlike and naive mayor to help fight nearby criminals using their powers.

As depicted in the opening sequence of each episode, the Powerpuff Girls were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt “to create the perfect little girls” using a mixture of “sugar, spice, and everything nice” (shown in respective fields of baby blue, light green, and pink). However, he accidentally spilled a mysterious substance called “Chemical X” into the mixture, creating, instead of the “perfect little girl”, three girls (each possessing one of the above elements dominating her personality), and granting all three superpowers including flight, super strength, super speed, near invulnerability, x-ray vision, super senses, heat vision, and energy projection.

… They wear dresses that match the colors of their eyes with black stripes, as well as white stockings and black Mary Janes. They do not have secret identities. The closing theme to the cartoon offers a nutshell description of the three Powerpuff Girls’ personalities: Blossom, commander and the leader. Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter. Buttercup*, ’cause she’s the toughest fighter.

I should also mention they have enormous eyes, no noses, necks and only 4 toes.  But super adorbs!

I guess along the way there are pop culture references and parodies. I imagine those are for the parents, cause kids won’t get anything referring to the Beatles.

What did I learn?

I like how they work together.  I like girls depicted as conquerors, not victims. Their unified superpowers means bad guys like Him and Mojo Jojo don’t stand a chance. They seem to have some of the regular sibling rivalry, couched in “who’s the toughest?” terms.  They don’t tear each other down or resort to cattiness (usually), a fault all too common among the female sex. They celebrate each others’ successes.  And they’re in kindergarten.  Did I mention that?  We could glean a few tips from them.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

* Ruby’s favorite Powerpuff girl, as well as mine.

Four Weeks

This is the 28th day of Janathon, the four-week mark.  Yay!

I ran 6 miles today.  I eked out 2 miles before I drove Ruby to school.  After I parked the car, I stretched out my hips, took one last drink of water and headed back out.  The weather?  Gray and drizzly off and on.

What do you listen to when you’re out trudging along  in the misty gray?  Glad you asked.  These came up in no particular order:

Thousand Foot Krutch  “Unbelievable”
Out of the Grey “No Leaving”
Thousand Foot Krutch “Absolute”
Mary Mary “God in Me”
Thousand Foot Krutch “The End is Where We Begin”
Kirk Franklin “Imagine Me”
Audio Adrenaline “Big House”
Thousand Foot Krutch “My Home”
The Choir “Hey Gene”
Take 6 “I’ve Got Life”
Thousand Foot Krutch “War of Change”
Grammatrain “Pain”
Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love”
Thousand Foot Krutch “Let the Sparks Fly”
Harry Connick Jr. “The Lonely Goatherd”
Toby Mac “One World”
Thousand Foot Krutch “Supafly”

These comprise all I can recall.  You might notice quite a few Thousand Foot Krutch songs.  Blame Zac.  He got me hooked. They’re a metal Christian band.  Cycling through songs randomly left out quite a few of my favorite artists, though. No Plumb, Israel Houghton, or even Vince Guaraldi.

Frankly, I enjoy having mellow songs on my mp3 player.  But I rarely listen to them unless I’m in a good groove with running.  I usually favor upbeat, raucous songs. I need the “oomph” factor.  And no, very little classical music.  I have no Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff or even Bach on there.  I do have a couple of Orff pieces, but those are intense.

Here’s a freebie, this one influenced by Ruby.  Why the dog face?  Your guess is as good as mine. Happy Tuesday!

Day 27

Striving to uphold the laws of Janathon, I ran 2 miles out in the icy fog this morning.  I saw no dogs but many chickadees. My left hamstring held onto a slight twinge despite stretching a bit beforehand.

Upon returning home, I did some more exercises to work out other kinks:

3 x 10 pushups (dispersed throughout the other items)
30 two-handed swings
20 one-handed swings (10 per side)
Weighted forward lunges (10 per side)
30 weighted chair squats
15 kettlebell pullovers
10 kettlebell situps
One-armed squat presses (10 per side)

Whew!  Now I feel better.

Rice Crispy Treatise

(Not my creations.)

I got all hepped up this weekend.  It was my turn to make the treats for church visitors.  Yippee!  I even had a brainwave.  I would make two-tone rice crispy treats in blue and green stripes.  Seahawks colors.  Get it?!

Oh, the hubris.

I eagerly mixed up the requisite amount of marshmallows and butter in half batches.  I tossed them in the microwave.  Two minutes.  Stir.  Another minute.  Stir.  Okay, so the marshmallows started out a little crunchy.  What else do you do with old marshmallows?

Something was horribly wrong.  I frowned. The microwave concoction didn’t come together. Melted butter pooled in the bottom of the blue bowl. Puzzled, I added the food coloring.  I dumped the slimy mass into the pre-measured rice crispies.  I stirred.  The mass elongated, a stringy oobleck-like mess.  Weird.  I stirred and stirred.  It simply didn’t come together.

I prayed a quick, “What now, Lord?”  I know!  I scooped some out of the bowl and pressed them into balls.  Rice crispy balls!  Ta da!

But I could never make enough for all the visitors we might have.  I needed at least 2 dozen to be safe.

I stirred up another batch.  Same thing, only these were greenish-blue.  Well, I tried to make them plain old blue.  The food coloring had other ideas.

I’d pressed most of the last batch into a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan, hoping to create a layered effect, the bottom layer green. I resigned myself to changing up the proportions. The new batch (colorless) looked good.  I’d increased the ratio of butter and marshmallows.  And this time, I melted them on the stovetop.  The melted mixture completely combined.  Yay!

I pressed the virgin treats on top of the greenish ones and let them cool.  All right!  Now to take a break and let those be.

I came back later and cut them up.  The knife scraped through the brittle surface.  I cut carefully, trying to make good-sized portions.  Alas, the two layers separated.  The green layer, crumbly and broken, did not adhere evenly to the top layer of lovely gooey goodness.

(I had pictures – lots of them – but true to form, they wouldn’t upload.  At all.)

I gave up.

If you know anything about making these treats, they’re very simple.  The equation is butter + marshmallows + rice crispies.  Really, any moron could do it.

Except me.

I managed to salvage the treats and put them aside for Ruby and company. These treats, flat on top and random green chunks protruding on the bottom, resembled mineral excavations from a cave. The neighborhood kids had commented on how delicious the balls were and the new ones were the same, though certainly ugly.

“These are really good, ” one girl commented around a bite.

“Is there butterscotch in these?” she asked.

No.  Somehow, I caramelized the butter.  Go, me!

I should mention I have made rice crispy treats before.  It’s been awhile, but I am perfectly capable. At least, I thought I was.

I learned something from this.  I felt like the Lord was trying to show me that I could trust Him.  I had the vision and the heart to do this.  I did not, however, have the complete ability or inspiration.  Jonathon did.  He ran with my idea. He found a better recipe and cooked it all on the stove.  He bought more marshmallows, upping their ratio even more.  He found gel food coloring to get the green and blue just right and very bright.  He even added an extra layer of plain rice crispies to the green and blue.  They looked stellar.  Next time, no microwave.  He whipped up another pan to bring to our church leadership meeting, this time with a pink layer.  Fabulous!

I learned that unless God breathes on what you’re doing, it ain’t gonna work.  The equation is heart + ability + inspiration.  I didn’t have the last part. Jonathon did. On the upside, I created a brand new, labor intensive breakfast cereal:  Buttery Mallow Chunks!  The kids are thrilled.  Coming soon to a supermarket near you.

I am grateful for a spouse who is truly a team player and enjoys cooking.  Sometimes, our best laid plans fall apart.  Literally.  And it’s alright.

For Janathon, to ease my cranky back, I stretched for about 20 minutes.  Tomorrow, back at it.

January Resurrection

Not happening yet, but soon.

Not happening yet, but soon.

It was 25 degrees when I headed out to run today.   A ghostly crescent moon hung in the faded blue January sky.   The sun, eternal  optimist, shone down on the white grass and bushes, desperate to restore them to their glorious green.  The telephone poles dripped as the sun’s warmth melted their icy shells.

I ran a five-mile loop.  The chilly air froze my ears and thumbs. Friends, I did not have turbo legs this morning.  Fine with me.  I made my mileage goal for the week which was 17 miles.  I’m trying to increase slowly so as to avoid injury.  Janathon rocks!

As I plodded along, I pondered death.  January is the heart of winter, the death-like slumber of the natural world. Everything goes dormant, waiting to awake to spring’s warmth.

We’ve heard of so many deaths around us in the last couple of weeks.  Friends of friends, close family of friends, and all of them sudden.  It makes life seem pointless.  What’s it all about?  We’re born, we live and experience a few ups and downs, then we’re gone, like the grass of the field.

All I can say is there’s more to this life, and even more after this life.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth bellow – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

Though it seems winter will never end, with its relentless cold and inhospitable ground, January makes us look ahead to springtime of this earth and the rebirth of new life. In the winter of our souls, we groan in our spirits to reunite with our missing family and friends.  The great thing about our physical death is that if we’re in Christ, we will rise again.  Separation is temporary. We will live with Him forever in our heavenly bodies.  If our friends and family were believers, we will see them again when we shuffle off this mortal coil.  We look forward to the springtime of our souls, basking in the warmth of God’s love for all eternity.