Aug 26, 2013

Running Deep...

I've come to the conclusion that there are a few themes that keep popping up in my life, and that one of the major themes in my life that God is showing me is this: Relax.

There's a whole lot I could say about that. Posts I could write. Speeches I could give. Amazing connections and wisdom pouring forth from my brain. Maybe even a book deal; I dunno (that would make me nervous). But another thing that's true about me is that I hear Him speak big truths in ordinary places, so I'll offer this thought from one of my jogs last week...

I felt a little antsy that morning, so I ran in a completely different direction from my normal route. It was refreshing. The terrain was fairly similar to my usual, and the scenery not exactly profoundly different, but enough to keep things interesting.

About halfway through I realized I was really dragging. My feet felt a little like lead boots, and I was all hunched over. Not at all tall and commanding as I've been taught to visualize.

Once I realized it, I was able to straighten up a bit and pick up the pace some, but it really got me to thinking things over and kind of evaluating.  I've been working on increasing my pace lately, so I'll do some loosey-goosey intervals sometimes.  But I was really tired now, and it made me worry a little.  What was my problem? Was it a bad run? I'd started out really well--why was my stamina suddenly down? Maybe I'd estimated the distance wrong and I was going waaaaay farther than I thought, and I was just that tired out.  Maybe I needed to work on drinking a little more water before starting out, or eat a banana or something and get some fuel into my body. Maybe I needed to work on my foot mechanics, or overall running form, or have my stride or foot-strike analyzed.  Maybe I needed to run with people to develop more of a community feel and get feedback and stuff. Maybe I just needed to suck it up and run harder more.

Then--and only then--did it occur to me to look around and realize that I was on a very long, very slight, very subtle incline. In other words, I was running uphill.  Which, you know, is at least a little hard most of the time, particularly when compared with the easier flats or downhills.

And God said, "Relax." (He also may have chuckled at me a little; this was not my first time getting all worked up over things.)

When you're on an uphill, there are things you can do to help. You can lean a little to let gravity help propel you forward. You can swing your arms to help move your legs better. You can get up on your toes more. Being conscious of where you are lets you be more intentional about dealing with it.

But no matter what you do, you can't make an uphill feel like a downhill (which, by the way, has its own dangers and difficulties, but that's another post). It's okay that it's hard--an uphill is difficult by its very nature, but other than turning back toward where you were, the only way to get out of it is to reach the top so you can head down again. Can't go around it, have to go through it.

So guess what I did? I swung my arms and leaned forward just a touch. I went on to get past the hill and finish in a reasonable time, feeling very good indeed. When I went back later to drive the route, I found that it was in fact a little longer than my norm (3.6 miles total). All told it was a good run.

So the next time you're plodding along with your feet dragging and your shoulders hunched over, and you're thinking about freaking out, remember to take a moment and look around. It's entirely possible you're running uphill...

Aug 19, 2013

If You Get Up Early...

If you get up early in the morning to exercise, it will be glorious.

You will get your workout done first thing each day, and you will feel the good sort of tired that comes from knowing you're working hard and getting stronger.

You will start out getting up at 6, but over time you will slip a little each day and before you know it you're starting at 6:40. You will realize that you seriously need to get back to an earlier start time because school starts in 2 weeks, and earlier is just the way it will have to be (remember--working hard, getting stronger).

You will think about this each day as you don't get up in time for your 6 o'clock start. You will remind yourself that starting earlier will give you a better chance of evading your children for just one more hour before they wake up and need you for all. the. things.

And then one day you will finally heave yourself out of bed in the dark, and get your butt downstairs because it's Yoga day, and Yoga is the longest of the workouts, and seriously, you're going to do it this time.

You will get the DVD in and push play by 6:05 and call a victory for yourself because you are serious and mean business. (nevermind the fact that you really need to push it back to 5:30, because school starts eeeeeeeaaaaaarrrrrrrllllyyyyyyy. That will come in time. Hopefully.)

Your baby, however, adjusts to your schedule no matter what you do. She will wake up and realize you are more than an arm's reach away, which will rouse her brain. At 6:15 she will toddle downstairs and begin making all sorts of unreasonable demands that sound like, "Yeeeeaaaaahhh! Mweeeaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaah!"

You will sigh and hit pause, change her diaper, nurse her, and get her some breakfast, hoping that will fend her off for 80 more minutes. You will set her down gently on the couch, to which she will fuss and complain before she realizes she's dry and full and really kind comfortable, so she'll calm down a little bit.

When she's ready she'll slide off the couch and toddle around.  As you're holding Warrior 2 she'll walk in with a Dog Stuffie slung over her shoulder, carrying the kid-keychains and puffing on that infernal whistle-keychain.  She'll plop herself down right under your Vinyasa. It will be spectacular.

During Half Moon you'll be striving and straining to get your back foot off the ground, and she'll wander by with a tennis ball, telling you all about it and sticking it in your face insistently, until you say "Yes, that's a ball!" with enthusiasm.

During Royal Dancer she'll fling herself at you, knocking you off balance and totally messing with your chi. And during Bridge she'll sit on you, giving you extra resistance to hold the position and build your core.

During Cobbler Pose she'll sit down and let you pose her legs to match yours, and she'll laugh when you do This Little Piggy to both of her feet at once. And during Yoga Belly Seven she'll again sit on your Yoga Belly, telling you all about the health benefits of core strengthening.

While the others on the DVD are stretching, your baby will require a banana. And during the ohm's she will look from you, to Tony Horton, to you, and back to Tony Horton before joining in with her own personal riff on "Twinkle Twinkle." Then Tony will wink, and you'll put away your mat, and kiss your baby, and you'll be on with your day.

You'll feel a little klutzy and disorganized about having squeezed in your workout amid the kids and Dog Stuffies and such. The hour-and-thirty-five-minute session took closer to two hours, and you now have to figure eating and showering into the morning's activities. It's never easy, and sometimes it's even a little (or a lot) unpleasant. But you'll also remember that you got up early and made the effort, and part of your fatigue is the good kind of tired that tells you you're getting stronger.

And it will be glorious...

Aug 16, 2013

New Shades of the Same Old Things...

Remember a while back, when I said there was so much I wanted to do? This is still true. And new opportunities open up every day, and I still have a tendency to take on too much, because I have a Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO, which I just found out is a Real and Actual Thing (RaAT). And now I'm beginning to think that in our information age we are so excited about discovering RaAT's, that we don't realize that a lot of the time these RaAT's are "just" real life, so to speak, and we should probably all calm down a few notches and go with it.

Or maybe that's just me.

All to say I'm still here, working hard at all the things and thinking way too much about a lot of the things. So I present you with the thought I had this morning:

They say that real life is what happens in all the in-betweens. True, we each have several moments throughout that we would call defining, but in between the biggies there is a lot of ordinary and/or mundane, and if we are smart we recognize that a whole bunch of our growth and development happens in the spaces of tending to those weeds.

My favorite job to date was my co-op job back at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.  I basically got paid to learn how to build stuff and work power tools (and also do research, and math, and technical writing), and there was a group of us college students who had a blast doing our nerd work together. (And we also got to fly on the NASA KC-135 Vomit Comet as part of our research, and if I were offered a job doing that today it would seriously challenge my commitment to my family because it. was. awesome. But again--moments of glory amid lots of days of difficult, weedy work.)

We worked in a couple different buildings on base. Our office space was in a corner of a big hangar-looking building called H-Bay. There was a bunch of equipment out there, but we also had lab space in the basement of a nearby building, and there was a technician there named John who did a lot of the fabricating for our branch. And we spent a lot of time learning stuff from John, so therefore we spent a lot of time in the basement lab.

One of the things I first noticed about John was that he would quit working 20 minutes or so before the end of the day.  To certain smart-but-not-wise grad school students this might first appear as slacking off (ahem!), but certain students quickly learned that John used this time to clean up. He secured whatever project he was working on, in whatever way it needed to be secured. He put tools back in their boxes, parts and pieces back in their cabinets, and washed up, wiped down, and swept wherever needed. John kept everything, but he also kept a tight & tidy lab, and I learned that the reason he was able to keep a tidy lab was that he built the time in for keeping it that way.

It's not rocket science, but it really made an impression on me. It has been said that I despise chores, which is mostly true. I like the results of having done the chores, but I really don't like the chores themselves. I'm not sure I would use the word "despise" every time, but when I would use other words they would be along the lines of "hate," "abhor," or at best "am annoyed by." So, you know, they really aren't my favorite.  Consequently, I tend to think of my daily tasks and to-do's in terms of "anything but chores," with chores sprinkled in between, when I have a moment.  Amid the weeds, if you will.

Well guess what. That method doesn't work so well for me. In this season of young childhood, along with my FOMO, I have to be deliberate about the things that are important to me. And it turns out I'm better and more efficient when I make plans for even the weedy tasks. As much as it pains me to put them on my to-do list and count them as equal with fun stuff like errands and running and writing, that's the only way that I get them done on a consistent basis. And the reality is that even though I don't like them and consider them to be mere punctuation to my day, they are more like a predicate, or at least a prepositional phrase, because they take up actual time.

Also, I just want to point out that the curiouser my kids get, the more time I seem to spend finding random objects and returning them to their homes.

So, if you want to clean up, it's OK that it takes a little time. And if you decide to leave it and do something else you enjoy more, I understand completely.  We all have weeds to be managed, and some of us hear crashes and need to go see what broke...