Getting Clear

foggy-window

The weather has finally turned cold. I went for a short walk yesterday afternoon, just before 4 p.m. The sun was already in its descent. I smelled wood smoke from the neighborhoods around me. A low-lying fog hung in the middle air, causing light obscurity. The temperature hung just above freezing. I wanted to celebrate getting out into the shortest day of the year. Not only because, according to the Mayan calendar craze of 2012, we shouldn’t even be here at all. I simply needed to get outside.

Same with this morning. I needed to run and clear my head. The gravel under my feet sparkled with frost and gave off extra crunch wherever I stepped. I left the pepper spray at home. I knew I wouldn’t see anyone out and about on this sub-freezing morning. Okay, I did see one guy running on the other side of the street. He wore an orange ski cap and shorts as part of his ensemble. Bet his kneecaps were blue.

I ran along the flat streets and considered the state of my life. Things are still churning at work, though less violently. The new normal is emerging. Frankly, I am not a fan of some of it. At all. I might even have had a bratty attitude  heated discussion  or two about it. Not proud moments, any of them.

But sometimes we have to do things we don’t like. It’s call being an adult. I am a fan of that, because that’s maturity. Don’t we love hanging out with those people, whom we call grown ups? They make unloading the dishwasher or matching socks a fun game. Their life’s joy runs on, untethered from inevitable quirky and tedious circumstances.  Mature people grease the wheels of this life with their love and kindness. I want to be the person who does unpleasant, onerous tasks without whining or complaining. Suffice it to say I’m still working on it. Have no fear, dear readers. Jesus isn’t finished with me yet.

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.– Philippians 2:14-15

 

 

 

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Lost Lessons

local roadI apologize for not blogging yesterday. I ran out of time. I can sometimes blog on my lunch hour. However, yesterday, my boss and I took a long walk.  He wasn’t up for running, so we improvised. It was a bright day and pushing 60 degrees. We walked the route we normally run, only this time we found new neighborhoods.

Houses built in the 2000s, one right after the other, with small yards and manicured shrubs, surrounded us.

“Where’s Seattle Street?” he asked, frowning down at his smartphone. He poked it with his index finger.

Nowhere, it seems. Having no technology, I waited for the verdict.

We did an about-face and walked back down the hill in the eerily cookie-cutter neighborhood we’d stumbled upon. Sidewalks, even! Generally not a standard in my neighborhood.

We hiked up another hill, then ran out of road again.

“This doesn’t look familiar,” I volunteered.  I am, as you might recall, directionally challenged.

“No, it doesn’t,” he said. We stopped, puzzled at our turnaround. We got caught up in good conversation and let our feet lead us to places unknown. Suddenly, we both started laughing.  How could we get lost in Shelton?!

“We’d better head back to what we know,” he said after more phone poking.

So we did. We took a right at the blooming dogwood. A large mutt barked at us. The sun smiled down on us while the fresh breeze cooled us. Soon we were back on our regular route.

Sometimes, that’s all we can do, going back to the familiar. Exploring has its merits. I like adventures and doing new things. Meeting new people opens up worlds of experiences I may never have. We stretch our limits and go off-leash to see what’s out there. Getting lost is a way to gather information and another chance to discover a road home.

Jesus, Coffee, Donuts and Friends

coffee

This morning, I dragged myself into work.  I know.  Not very inspiring, Susan!  Everyone does that on the first day back after a long weekend.  True.  But the flu fatigue tried to linger. It hung on, an invisible mental and physical fog. I slogged through the morning.  My brain, despite many pleadings and Jonathon’s rocket coffee, didn’t stir out of second gear.

“Susan, why don’t you work on this assignment?  We need to combine the project file ideas and the electronic version of project documents.”

She might as well have said, “Susan, make a nuclear bomb out of a paper clip, a snail shell and glitter.” Same result. Spin, spin, half-baked ideas, spin, lose train of thought. Wait…squirrel!

At lunch time, I trudged home. Jonathon had bought donuts while I was away. I needed one.  So with my lunch of cassoulet, a meager half serving of java and two luscious halves of once-whole donuts (hey, less calories, right?), I fortified myself for the second 4-hour chunk of work. Jonathon and I finished out the lunch hour with a sunny stroll.

But wait. Later on in the afternoon, it got really good.

My boss and I took a brisk walk outside, chatting all the while. The sun warmed our backs. As we marched down Cota, I spotted an old friend of mine from out of town.

“Hey!” I greeted her.  I forgot to tell her how great she looked, but we embraced and I introduced my friend to my boss.

This happened again, on the end of our loop.  We passed “Better on You,” and glimpsed another gal I knew, this one an artist and fellow writer.

We hugged and I got to catch up with another friend. We walked into the gallery and my supervisor lexplored the paintings, clothing and jewelry. She told me she’d always wanted to go in there.

I can’t believe how much the day improved. I started out with no energy and very low expectations.  Now, I can’t stop smiling. I didn’t have to just survive the day; I got surprises. I don’t believe in coincidences. I know Who orchestrated those connections and all I have to say is thank you. Between the sunshine, coffee, donuts and good friends, Jesus made it a pretty good day.

Camellia Corner

camellia

I did a 30-minute kettlebell workout this morning after breakfast.  It felt good to get those muscles moving again. Later, after lunch and a Rexless nap, I walked for 20 minutes. The Seahawks vs. Green Bay game dominated local interest.  Hardly anyone stirred in town. I didn’t even see any cats roaming the streets. Shelton resembled what I think of as Post-Rapture. The sun shone down, sparkling on the wet pavement. Faint rainbows appeared at random intervals. The wind gusted in from the sea. I walked and thought, solitary in my rambles.

I’m still working on the no desserts/no junk food three-week plan.  I confess I fell down over the weekend.  Two words: bridge mix. Oh chocolate, my love for you remains true and unsullied. I discovered when I’m worn out, I want comfort food. Instead of beating myself up, I’ll remember for next time.

I still feel like the Lord is calling me up higher. I’m restless. I want to be further along in maturity, in serving, in loving and understanding. Too often my flaws trip me up. I strode into downtown Shelton, passing several houses with realtor signs in their front yards.  What’s the next thing, Lord? One of the yards had a large camellia bush growing in the corner. The bright pink blossoms with yellow centers exploded against the dark green foliage.

Their beauty made me smile. I’m reminded yet again that everyone and everything has a season. Can I find contentment in this season of working full-time, changing my eating habits and keeping up with family and social obligations? Can I keep a good attitude and work to the best of my ability? Camellias bloom in the winter, the coldest time of the year. Their flowering is a testament that growth continues on, no matter the season. With God’s help, I can, too.

Day 14

As of this morning, I’m down about 4 lbs. I’m going to be honest here and say I’ve only been able to manage 2 days in a row of no chocolate.  Because really, at the end of the day, that’s my Achilles heel.  Not licorice, or hard candy or cookies.  Nope. Good old dark chocolate, rich and creamy. However, if I wait, often the cravings dissipate like so much brain fog. I can satisfy my sweet tooth with a banana or piece of apple.  It brings to mind the scripture:  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. – I Corinthians 10:13. I am learning self-control with my emotions. Why not my eating habits, too?  Doesn’t the same logic apply?

Anyway.

This working out before the work day takes some getting used to.  I managed a 30-minute kettlebell circuit with 5 one-minute intervals of jumping rope thrown in. I took a lunchtime walk out in the blue deep freeze today. Invigorating and cheering, after all the gray days. I will get a run in tomorrow, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Junk Food Dodge Update

Just say no.

Just say no.

It’s been a week now since I gave up junk food.  Several people have questioned what exactly falls into that category.  I like to say the “c” words:  candy, cookies, chocolate (gulp!), cake, crackers and chips. Oh, and pretzels (cretzels?).  I added fast food to that group also – burgers, fries and that ilk. I kept pizza, although I might forgo it this week. I’ve done pretty well so far and I’m down 2 pounds. Well, technically more, since I started trying to lose weight on Jan 1 when I found I was heavier than I’d thought. Too much partying on New Year’s Eve. Sigh.

I rarely miss the salty snacks. I’ve struggled the most in giving up sweets.  I suppose that’s no surprise. The other night while watching TV, out of the blue I started thinking about licorice.  “Ooh, Red Vines!”, apropos of nothing.

I’ve been sneaking in 2-mile brisk walks, here and there, weather permitting. That seems to help the waistline as well as to ward off the winter blues. My mood has improved greatly.  I find myself focusing on the positive things in my life, past and present. My face has cleared up considerably.

I ran three miles this morning.  I did 2 slow miles on the treadmill, talking to a gym friend.  He’s been to Italy and seen St. Peter’s Cathedral.  I’ve been to Paris and seen Notre Dame and Sainte-Chappelle.  Great way to pass the time, sharing our adventures.  Then my leg started to cramp up.The last mile I hopped off the machine and went outside.  Overcast and 40 degrees, it was great running weather.  I accidentally ran it very fast.  My bad.  But hello, calorie burn.

How are your New Year’s resolutions progressing?

Five Miles After Breakfast

I planned to wake up early.  I really did.  But then…sleep.  It overtook me, like a massive rogue wave.  I slumbered until after 6:00.  Good times.

So after breakfast, I drove through the rain up to the gym. I need to work out some new running routes because the old ones make me crazy bored. I found my favorite treadmill open and all the others filled.  Huzzah!

As I mounted the machine, the older man on the neighboring treadmill greeted me. He walked along at a good clip with a hefty incline to boot.

“I see you come out of the back room sometimes,” he said. I could tell by the look on his face he wondered if I was part of some secret society. He was curious. Some gym goers never venture past the front room, I guess.

“Oh, I go to kettlebells class,” I said, chuckling. “It’s pretty hardcore.”

He nodded.

“That’s why I walk here.” He gestured to the treadmill.  “I can control my own destiny.”

We shared a laugh. But those of us in the know realize nobody controls their own destiny, despite a glut of inspirational movies and whatever your horoscope might say.

We chatted a bit more.  I mentioned the article pinned on the bulletin board, the one sporting his photo.

He grimaced.  “I only lost about 10 lbs for that article.  I’ve lost about 10 more since then,” he said, not a little proudly.

“The last article featured a gal who’d lost over 100 lbs.  I didn’t even want to be interviewed,” he said, shaking his head.

He didn’t feel his accomplishment merited celebrating.  I didn’t comment on his thought, but I pondered it as the miles rolled by.  Why do we downplay our successes?  Maybe our awards don’t stack up to the Nobel Peace Prize, but they do matter.  I thought about all the folks I know who’d just like to lose a few pounds, 10-20 or so. To me, this man I’ll call Joe, would be inspirational. He started walking on a regular basis, cut down on his caloric intake, and got fit. His bouts of depression became a memory.

“Since that article came out, I also toned up a bit, too,” he informed me.

I glanced over at his slender frame. Weight-bearing exercises provide great benefits for all of us, since we lose muscle mass as we age.  I silently applauded his foresight. Exercise is like money in the health bank, I think. Why not invest in yourself whenever you can?

We talked off and on as I finished up my five miles and he his timed workout. It was nice to have someone to talk to, even if only for a little while.  He encouraged me.  I only hope I did the same for him.