Blueberry Morning

Lucy and I got up early today. I’ve got a full weekend ahead – a bridal shower to attend today, a night of cards with the Bayfield vacation friends this evening, and hosting a family birthday party for my mom tomorrow. And things need doing!

I used Lucy as my excuse to get my lazy bones out of bed early. Actually, I haven’t been all that lazy the past few days. I made myself start getting up an hour earlier and go back to the gym this week. As he was refilling the hand sanitizer and paper towel dispenser, the friendly maintenance guy asked, “Where’ve you been?”

I said, “Sleeping.”

He smiled and asked, “Where’s your friend?” He was referring to my workout buddy who hasn’t been seen at the gym in a while either.

I said, “She’s pregnant.” He laughed.

Wanting to keep up the momentum, I thought I’d start my busy weekend with a walk with Lucy. We went out when the sky was still dark, but I knew it would start turning as we walked. It was nineteen degrees, not as cold as last weekend, but still… I put on my UnderArmour leggings and shirt under some yoga pants and a sweatshirt. I forgot that Lucy has two speeds – run and stop, (run, stop, sniff… run, stop, sniff.) I’d underestimated the effectiveness of UnderArmour and soon I was sweating.

Luckily, Lucy began to lose her momentum after a couple of miles and slowed down just enough to allow me to take in the morning and appreciate things a bit. I love those moments of the morning, when the darkness is fading but just before the sky really lights up. The sky is a beautiful color. I just read something describing it as the color of blueberries. I wish I could remember what I read and give the author credit, but they were right. Blueberries.

There’s a farm in our neighborhood. I suppose at one time our whole neighborhood was the farm, before all of our homes were constructed. Now the farm seems slightly misplaced in the middle of all this suburbia, in spite of the fact that it was here first. When I look at the old, white barn, its paint peeling in places, I can almost see the streets and homes disappearing and imagine what it looked like, undisturbed years ago. It’s still a functioning farm, in some capacity at least, and the smell of farm animals was potent in the crisp winter air. A few blocks away, where I live, I notice those smells occasionally. There’s a row of homes directly adjacent to the farm. I imagine it’s an ever-present aroma for those homeowners. I wonder if they’ve grown used to it, just like I’ve become accustomed to the sound of the trains.

Lucy is fun to walk with. She’s like a child who can’t discover enough about the world around her. She stops and marvels at every bird that flies overhead. Her ears perk at the hooting of an owl. Her body freezes, her tail pointing as she sniffs and tries to discern ducks, geese, cats and various other creatures that have ventured into the tall grasses near the ponds and wooded areas.

Even as her energy is waning, Lucy’s legs move at a trot, her body nearly bouncing because she can’t wait to see what we’ll encounter next. She finds sticks on the ground and grabs them up quickly in her mouth, as if she’s found some treasure. She trots off again, her head held high, turning her neck momentarily to make sure I’ve noticed the prize clenched in her teeth. She quickly gets bored with carrying it and drops it a few yards later. She’s so cute, I can’t help but laugh.

Back in our own driveway, as she always does, Lucy recognizes that the walk has come to an end. She begins to resist. No matter how far we’ve gone, no matter how tired she may be, she does not want to go back home. There’s adventure to be had and she wants more! I have to convince her we’re going in the house and in a moment, she relents. Once we’re back inside, she admits that maybe I’m right. It is time to be back home again where it’s warm and all of her toys live.

“Oh. There’s the love seat I’m allowed to be on. I think I need a nap.”

See? That didn’t take long!

Scary Lady at the Gym

It was a dark and stormy night… so I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. You know how sometimes your body just doesn’t want to run but you’re determined to make it run anyway? Maybe that’s a runner thing. Then again, maybe it’s just a Terri thing. Anyway, I digress.

So there I was, on this dark and stormy night. I walked up the stairs to the upper level at the gym where the treadmills overlook the weight machines down below. I spied a nice treadmill about three-fourths the way down the row. The area was nice and empty, but not for long. The television directly in front of my treadmill was showing the Twins-Tigers game. I should have known I would soon have company on either side of me. I hate that. Especially when my body doesn’t feel like running.

But I toughed it out and I made my body run. After a while, the guy on my left wandered off to do something else. Or leave. I don’t know. I really wasn’t paying attention. I was just trying to get through my run. The guy on my right was a Steady Eddie. He was walking away at a brisk pace. I kept hoping he would leave but he didn’t. Maybe I’m weird but I just don’t really want to be near people at the gym. Or be looked at, for that matter. Please don’t look at me if you ever see me at the gym.

Finally, the end was in sight and I gave myself a little mental pep-talk to get me through the last leg. I had long since removed my earbuds from my ears. (Yes, the new Bose earbuds. They were falling out of my ears. Damn it. I’ll have to switch to the smaller tips and see if that helps.) Without the distraction of my music, I could hear the music playing over the speakers throughout the gym. I entertained myself by people watching. And that’s when I noticed the scary lady. Now, I don’t mean to be judgmental, but some people should not wear spandex. This woman had on black spandex leggings and a black spandex tank-top. She had a muffin top. Maybe a couple of ‘em. She had a muffin butt too.  And muffin hips. And I applaud her for going to the gym to work on all those muffins, but I couldn’t help but think how embarrassed I’d be if I were sporting her outfit. Also, she had long, blond, streaky hair and very dark eye make-up. She would have looked right comfortable with a smoke hanging out of her lips, I think.

Anyway, she was wandering the lower level. She wandered between the weight machines and leaned up against a few of them but she never actually did anything on any of them. Then she wandered over by the front desk and looked out the glass doors as if she were expecting someone. There’s a sitting area near the entrance and she made herself comfy in one of the chairs for a while.

Then, next thing I knew, she was in the upper level, marching down the aisle between the treadmills and the ellipticals behind them. She went all the way down to the end of the row and started walking on the very last treadmill. I was vaguely aware of her alternately walking and running. I thought she’d grown tired of waiting for her friend and finally decided to work out.

I was just beginning to get lost in my own little zone again when I was startled by the sound of the scary lady, yelling across the gym to anyone who would listen.

“HEY! PEOPLE! I THINK THERE’S A NO TALKING RULE! SERIOUSLY! LET’S KEEP THE CHATTER TO A MINIMUM, CAN WE PLEASE?”

I was dumbfounded. I turned and stared right at her and thankfully, she was so hidden by her hair that she couldn’t have noticed me. I wondered if there was really a no talking rule. If there is, no one ever told me!

Now I was on high alert. This lady was weird! Next, she started ranting about needing to be taught how to box. “IN FULL GEAR!” I don’t know who she was planning to box, but I don’t think that is one of the services offered at L.A. Fitness. Finally, exasperated over whatever it was that was exasperating her, she punched the off button on her treadmill (or attempted to. She wasn’t successful as the treadmill just kept running after she jumped off it.) Then she marched herself all the way down to the other end to abuse the treadmill and anyone who would listen to her down on the far side.

Just about this time, my workout was ending and I was hitting the cool-down stage. Steady Eddie next to me looked at me and said, “That lady has a problem.”

“Yeah, I think so,” I laughed.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t finish up too soon. She’s come over next to me twice before and always asks me if I live in Hastings. When I tell her no, and she asks where I do live, I tell her, ‘Not in Hastings.'”

Heh! Steady Eddie was looking to me to be his protector from the scary lady! Now that’s funny!

She kept me entertained long enough to make it through my workout. She was really freaky, though.

And I was worried about people staring at me!

Running with Cars

I slept forever again last night. It wasn’t quite as long as last weekend’s 14 hour marathon, but it came close. I fell asleep in the family room around seven o’clock. Mark woke me up when he came home around nine. Then I stumbled to bed and promptly fell straight back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until after seven this morning. I need to quit that! There aren’t enough hours in a day to waste so many of them sleeping!

So, when I woke up this morning, the sun was shining beautifully. We’ve had a lot of sun this week and it gives hope that in spite of many indications to the contrary, we are not living in Narnia. Spring will come, just not this weekend. I’m hearing rumblings of precipitation tonight, things like freezing rain and snow. Fun, fun.

BUT, since it was such a gorgeous morning today, I thought I’d resurrect the old UnderArmour and outdoor running shoes. It has been months since I ran outside. And it was good. The sun was so bright it made my eyes water. (Could have used a pair of sun glasses.) I took the route straight down our main road to the border of the next city. It’s a risky road as it is normally a high traffic road, but it was early enough when I went that traffic was light. There were just a handful of cars coming and going while I was out. And the road has a pretty wide shoulder as well.

I had forgotten how different it is to run on pavement as opposed to the treadmill. I have a harder time keeping my pace steady and had to remember to give myself little goals to reach when I felt like slowing to a walk. I had also forgotten there was a pretty decent incline on the way out. The plus side of that is that I had a nice decline on my way back.

The best part was breathing the air and enjoying scenery for a change. The snow, bare trees and frozen ponds are beautiful under a gleaming sun. I had my iPod playing, but not so loud I couldn’t hear a honking goose fly overhead. And sweating up a storm isn’t so annoying when there’s a cold breeze to cool you down.

Tonight’s weather will probably necessitate my return to the treadmills at the gym this week, but I’m looking forward to more outdoor runs as spring makes its return.

Life is Good – February 19, 2010

My friend, Jane sent me this picture. These are the tracks from a wild turkey taking flight. Pretty cool, huh? (Click on the picture to see the larger version.)

This week has flown by! The new venture at work is progressing nicely, and while I can’t say we are working like a well-oiled machine just yet, we’re getting things figured out and working out the kinks. In addition to the usual stuff, the website project is looking to keep me busy for a long while and I’m really enjoying it. I feel capable and productive again and it is such a good feeling. Not being challenged is boring and depressing. We’ve got a white board in the office where everyone checks in for the day. Just before our “go-live” date, someone had written on it, “Adapt to change or become roadkill.” We all laughed about it for a few days until someone made a passing comment that we needed something more inspiring and upbeat. I’ve been finding motivational messages online since then and writing something on the board every day. I like the one I left there for Thursday…

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

George Bernard Shaw

Other than that, things have been pretty mellow. I’ve been getting to the gym pretty regularly and I can feel the difference when I run. I’m going longer, gaining stamina and feeling that high that people talk about when I think I’m losing steam and then all of a sudden the afterburners kick in. I love it! It does wonders for my mood. And I just got a strap for the new Ipod so I can strap that baby on my arm and listen while I run!

Are you watching the Olympics? I love to watch the snowboarders. I was watching the women’s half-pipe event last night and it just amazes me. I wish I were younger. I’d give snowboarding a shot!  I don’t like watching figure skating anymore though. I’m tired of Scott Hamilton announcing every move before it’s made.

This weekend promises to be a full one again. I’ve got a couple of nephews overnight tonight while my sister and brother-in-law go to Chicago for the weekend. Sunday brings another volleyball tournament that requires us to be on the road at the crack of dawn. I’m not thrilled, but after last weekend’s tournament, Kacey felt compelled to do all of the laundry so maybe this one will work in my favor as well.

I need a long weekend with a complete lack of obligations. Anyone know where I might buy one of those?

So far this week…

I got an awesome new winter jacket. It’s a black Columbia, down filled with a fur-trimmed hood. And I got it for a steal, about a third of the original price. I generally tend to dislike everything about this time of year. Winter seems to have dragged on forever. But the shopping is great!

I lost my black leather gloves. I remember wearing them home from work last Friday, running in the house, taking them off and grabbing my camera from the family room. I wanted to get outside and take a picture of the beautiful full moon before full darkness settled in. And that was the last I saw of my gloves. I looked high and low. I retraced my steps. I could not find them. I was so sad. I need my gloves! I can’t drive with mittens on my hands. I was sure Mark had taken them and stashed them somewhere. (He likes to hide things when people don’t put stuff back where it belongs. He thinks this teaches a lesson! Really, it just makes us good search and rescue detectives. And half the time he forgets where he put it. The t.v. remote was missing for a couple months. He finally found it between our mattress and box spring.) Last night I grabbed my gym bag and was searching the bottom of it for my mp3 player when my hand felt something smooth and soft. It was my black leather gloves! (Sorry, Mark!)

I pulled a muscle in my lower back doing crunches on the exercise ball and as a result, it hurt to throw my bowling ball on Monday. As a result, my scores were mediocre. I must have a really weak lower back. Anyone know what I can do to gain strength down there?

I finished reading Valley of the Dolls yesterday. It was like a soap opera. I was like, “Oh yes! Oh no! Oh YES! Oh NO! OH YES! OH NO! Ah, yes…… WHAT???” I hated the ending. This is the second book I’ve read where I absolutely couldn’t put it down, then hate the ending.  Just like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. So frustrating!

I still want to see the movie, Valley of the Dolls.

I had a really good run on the treadmill last night. It helps that I could watch Law and Order while I ran. I’m still working hard at going to the gym consistently and am getting there almost every other day. And I really kind of like the treadmill. I like watching my progress, knowing how far I’ve run and trying to push past my limits. I can feel myself gaining strength and stamina. But the gym is always crowded these days. When are the New Year’s Resolutioners going to start dropping off? The people watching is good though. Last Saturday I saw a guy at the racquet ball courts. He had jet black hair, shoulder length, and totally combed over. I wonder if he thinks he’s fooling anyone? Last night, there was a woman on a treadmill near me, facing backwards on it and walking very, very slowly. I’ve never seen anyone do that before! Last week I ran into the deacon from my church at the gym. First he friended me on Facebook (and he’s always on there!) Then I run into him at the gym and he wants to stop and chat. He didn’t mention not seeing me in church lately, so I guess it’s all good, just a little strange.

Life is Good – January 29, 2009

The past week has been good. No, I mean really good! I feel like I’ve been given a kick-start after weeks of dragging myself through each day.

It was last week, Wednesday when I began to realize that something had to change. I felt a headache coming on that day. It grew in intensity throughout the day. My headaches always come up the back of my neck. I took some Tylenol a few times, but the headache just got worse. I paid a visit to the chiropractor that evening. Usually, an adjustment makes me feel good, but that evening there was no relief. I went to the gym and tried to run. That was pointless. I finally went to bed and slept until the next morning. That is what it took to shake the headache. The next day I realized that I have felt sluggish for too long and suffered headaches too often lately. But it was more than that. My mood was in the tank and had been for weeks on end. I didn’t even realize how bad I was getting. Being sulky and sluggish was my new norm. The winter always has a slightly depressing impact on me, but this was bad. I needed to do something different.

I used to be very diligent about making balanced meals for the family. Fast food was a rarity. Things started going downhill when I started working outside the home. And it got worse when I went to work full time on this ten-hour a day schedule. There are too many days when we are just scrounging around for anything to fill our stomachs. We eat fast food way too often. My kids often don’t even eat breakfast. Over the past few years, I’ve given up on trying to maintain a balanced diet at all. After the last headache, I knew I had to try harder. I knew better than to get too ambitious. I’ll never be a truly healthy eater. But I realized (again) that I had to make smarter food choices. Enough with the cheese popcorn dinners when I’m home alone. Enough sneaking a Diet Coke when the work day is dragging. I went to the grocery store the day after the headache and bought fruit. Lots of it. I bought bottled fruit smoothies and yogurt and frozen fruits to make home-made smoothies. I bought veggies and whole grain bread and ingredients for balanced meals. Of course, I didn’t want to throw the kids into sugar withdrawals. I bought one box of Hostess cupcakes and one box of Twinkies for them.

I almost always bring my lunch to work, but now instead of a frozen meal, I’m bringing fresh salads and yogurt or leftovers from dinner the night before. I’m snacking on fruit or cheese and crackers instead of chocolate.

I thought the kids would balk at the lack of sugar and fat in our food supply, but what I quickly found out is that if I chopped up fresh veggies and offer some dill dip, they’ll eat that instead of Cheetos. If I slice an apple, they’ll eat it. They won’t eat one whole, but they’ll eat slices. And a home-made yogurt smoothie is almost as good as a bowl of ice cream!

Dinner was another story. I leave the house for work shortly after 6:00 a.m. and don’t return until 5:30, except for Thursdays when I’m off. The kids are often gone to work or volleyball practice even before I get home. I solved the dilemma of how to make sure they had a hot meal when I wasn’t even home by making good use of the crock pot as often as possible. We may not be able to eat together, but I can still make my kids a hot meal. I can put some meat in the crock pot before I leave, then just call home later and ask someone to make potatoes or bread and a vegetable. It’s not ideal, but better than fast food, pizza … or cheese popcorn. When I’m not using the crock pot, I shoot for a one-dish meal or something that can be prepared ahead of time.

And then there was the issue of exercise. I run every week, but I had no schedule to speak of. I’d go two days in a row, then it would be four (or more) days before I found my way back to the gym. It’s so hard to stay on track. Life gets in the way. But I decided to try really hard not to go more than two days between gym visits. I’ve been there four out of the last seven days.

Within the past week, I’ve noticed a major difference in the way I felt, both physically and emotionally. I woke up last Saturday and already felt so full of energy and had a noticeably positive attitude. It made me realize the truly negative impact my bad habits can have on my well-being. There have been many times in the past I’ve decided to make healthier choices, but this is the first time I’ve seen direct and positive results. I think I stand half a chance of sticking with it this time.

And besides, as it turns out, my family actually likes my cooking! Go figure!

Reasons why I'm impressed with myself

First, I bowled a 195 last night! 195! Can you believe that? That’s my highest score ever! The pins; they just kept on falling! Of course, we were bowling just for fun. Do you think I can pull off a score like that in leagues? Probably not. I have this habit of showing up for leagues and forgetting what I did right.

Also, I had the grocery shopping done by 9:00 and dinner made before noon. It’s 11:40 a.m. and I have dinner made. A real dinner. With vegetables and everything! It’s a broccoli-chicken casserole kind of thing with slivered almonds. It just needs to go in the oven later on.

I don’t know what’s going on with me, but I like it!

Actually, I kind of know what’s going on with me. I’ve been working hard at eating better, avoiding junk food and exercising more consistently. And we all know I have that “plenty of sleep” thing pretty well covered. It’s amazing what these improved habits are doing for my motivation and productivity!

I have to go now. My arm hurts from patting myself on the back.