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Tag Archives: Exercise

A Peek Inside

I’ve learned a few things this weekend.  Learned may be the wrong word.  Maybe Just continued evolving.  For good or bad.

First up, I went to see The Butler last night.  It was an unexpected, last minute decision to go to see a movie I didn’t have that much interest in seeing, which isn’t that unusual.  I’m turned off by almost everything that is playing in movie theaters these days.  But with one kid away at college and the other itching to spend the evening with friends, the opportunity for dinner out matched with a last minute call from friends to see the movie meant that instead of making pizza and writing I found myself in a movie theater.

The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines, who grows up the son of a sharecropper in Georgia before running away and eventually becoming a butler at the White House, where he works for almost 30 years, a period spanning Eisenhower to Reagan and every President in between.  The story is based on the real life story of Eugene Allen.

A bit of a segue here.  Here’s a fact-checking article about the movie.  Eugene Allen served from Truman to Reagan.  In the movie, Cecil joins the White House in the late ’50’s, when Eisenhower was President.  Here was the odd thing, when Cecil arrives for his first day of work at the White House Robin Williams is the actor playing the President — and he looks amazingly like Harry Truman and not Dwight D. Eisenhower.  In reading the article, it turns out that many of the elements that make up the arc of the movie aren’t actually true.  Which is disappointing.

But back to what I learned.  My entire adult life I have spent fascinated by certain things, the civil rights movement being one.  I have never flinched from the reality of the movement and the hate with which many Americans responded to the dignity of MLK, the Freedom Riders, and others involved in the movement.  The movie replays some of that as Cecil struggles with his role as a black butler in the White House and his fictionalized son who is very involved as a Freedom Rider and briefly a member of the Black Panther Party.  I found myself no longer able to watch the scenes of assaults on the civil rights protesters.  The water cannons, the beatings, the firebombings, the police dogs, etc.  I simply could not watch these scenes, both real news reel and fictionalized for purposes of the movie, that represent such a dark, hateful period of our life.  There was a point at which I wanted to walk out of the theater because I simply did not want to watch any more of it.

I’m done being fascinated with the dark chapters in our history, the evil that lurks in our past, the examples of horrors we inflict on ourselves and on each other.  I will not hide from it, but I no longer need to dwell there either.  It’s all part of replacing hate with love, don’t you think?

What about you?  Do you turn away from the ugliness of the human race?  Or do you wallow it because it is, in fact, a part of who we are?

*****

Thinking about the above led me further down a path.  I started thinking about this pocket I find myself in.  Dissatisfaction with a lot of aspects of my life.  Some would say that I’m in a mid-life crisis.  I think it’s different than that.  I’m not getting the expensive sports car.  I’m not going after a newer, younger model of wife/girlfriend.  I’m not quitting my job to buy a sailboat and sail the seven seas.  I think it goes deeper than that.  (Although none of those things I just described I would object to.)

I am in the process of identifying the things that matter to me.  Plotting a course to an end place where I can surround myself with those things and people and places.  Part of that is also eliminating elements of my life that cause more harm than good. 

Here’s an example.  For a dozen years, I coached my kids in their sports.  Baseball and soccer.  Last year was the first year that I had no coaching obligations.  I tried being a soccer referee.  This year I’m not even doing that.  Instead, I’m hoping to do only this — to go watch my younger son’s games and then leave those games behind.  Anybody who has gone through youth sports knows that there is simply far too much drama and trauma involved.  It is a life I have lived for the past dozen years and I am ready to leave it behind.

This is not a complaint about that time.  It was well spent.  I loved watching my kids play their sports.  I loved the opportunity to be their coach and help not just them, but other kids, learn how to play, to compete, to love the game.  I will always look back at the time I spent coaching my kids as one of the best “moments” of my life.  I wouldn’t replace it for the world.

But, it also turned me into something I never was before.  I got too caught up in the bad aspects of youth sports.  Yelling at referees.  Arguing with other coaches.  Taking things far more seriously than needed.  It’s a game and there were times when I let emotions lead to unfortunate actions on my part.

And, I’m done with that.  I’m leaving it behind.

There are other examples, but it comes down to this.  My oldest son will turn nineteen in January, he’s off for his freshman year of college.  My youngest is two years behind him.  I’m beginning to close the door on a chapter of my life that has spanned almost twenty years.  That of being a parent.  Of being responsible for so many things in so many ways. 

In some odd way, my reaction to The Butler is also a part of this.  I’m beginning to move on from some of the many things that have been a part of me for most of my adult life.  I’m beginning to look for something else to fill my soul.  It’s something other than politics and hate, war and trauma, fighting battles both large and small.  It’s this other thing.  About finding peace and letting go of responsibility.  About finding beauty and love.  Enjoying little things and letting go of the things that don’t matter.  As I’ve said before, it’s about finding the place where I can be me.  Just me.

What about you?  Are you in a mid-life crisis?  Are you constantly evolving?  Or do things stay the same and you’re good with that?

*****

I learned two things from walking this week.

Walking affects different body parts than running.  This should be clear, but I’m shocked nonetheless.  When I ran, most of my pain and discomfort was in my calves, knees and feet.  Now that I’m walking (7.5 mile walk yesterday, 9.5 mile walk today), particularly with the longer walks, I’m experiencing the pain and discomfort in completely different areas.  My feet don’t hurt, it doesn’t bother my calves, and my knees are OK so far.  No, where walking bothers me is in my hamstrings, my hips, and the ol’ gluteus maximus.  Very odd. 

There is actually one area where walking bothers my feet.  When I ran, I would hear stories about runners who run longer distances experiencing horrendous blisters on their toes and feet.  With my longest runs only hitting half-marathon length, I never, ever had blisters on my feet.  Now, walking has provided me with four blisters on my right foot.  And they are blood blisters.  Right now, I’m looking at an ugly one on the tip of the second toe wondering how the hell did it get there and thinking I’m going to need to tape it up as I head out the door in the next couple of minutes for another long walk.  And also wondering where the next blister will show up.

The other thing I learned was really more of a refresher.  I’ve been in a much better mood over the last week or two.  And I haven’t understood why, but I know that I’ve just been in that happy space a little more.  Even if nothing has really changed in the fundamental dynamics of my life.

I realized why that was while out on my walk today.  I’m exercising again.  Regularly and consistently.  Every day.  There is definitely something to be said for the mental health value of regular exercise.  Or maybe it’s just the endorphins monkeying with my brain chemistry.

 

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

When I thought of writing this post yesterday, it was going to be titled Accountability, because I was going to cover a couple of “promises” I’ve made in the last couple of weeks.  To hold me accountable.  But, then there were some updates I wanted to provide in some other areas.  And, then there was something that came up that seemed to just be a random thought.  More fitting to my A Peek Inside kind of posts.  So, here’s what you get…

Accountability

A little over two weeks ago, I started walking.  Inspired by another blogger, I decided to engage in a serious commitment to start running again.  I started walking on August 15 and talked with my physical therapist on August 16.  Since then I have gone for a walk every day except for the two days I was in Long Beach.  Some days I have gone for two walks — one first thing in the morning and the other when I get home from work.  All told, I’m thinking I’ve probably walked about 45-50 miles over the last sixteen days.  Yesterday, I hit five miles for my morning walk.  I’ll be walking again today.  On the physical therapy side, I’ve done my exercises every day except for those two Long Beach days.

So, how’s it all feeling down there?  I can tell I’m getting stronger, but I also know that the PT exercises I’m doing are at the lowest level of engagement with my injured area.  To recap — I tore a muscle high up in my inner thigh three times before going to see the sports doc.  It’s a groin muscle and what I’ve learned is that the whole groin complex of muscles is, well, complex.  The injury has caused serious problems in other areas of the groin.  While I can tell that the muscle I tore is still damaged and weak, the other areas seem to have improved.  Plus, they continue to be less bothersome with each walk.  On a pain/discomfort scale, two weeks ago, I was probably at a three while walking.  Now, I’m down to a one.  There’s enough there for me to know it’s there, but that’s it.  I’m now waiting for the next round of exercises from the physical therapist and trying as hard as I possibly can not to break into a jog while walking.  That’s the hardest part.  As I walk along, very briskly, I think “if I can walk five miles, why can’t I jog a bit?”  I know why, so I resist.  It’ll come.  Hopefully in a couple more months and the truth is that I’m enjoying the walks.

My goal:  A half marathon, October 2014

More Accountability

After a long cold spell on the writing front — marked by little progress and massive indecision about what to work on — I have made significant strides in both areas.  Deviation is chugging along.  Every time I sit down to work on it, I’m able to produce 1,000 words relatively effortlessly.  It’s now over 13,000 words long and I’m beginning to think of how the story is going to wind down.  I’m also considering the editing I’ll have to do for the story.

I’ve also made some very specific decisions about the next few months of writing projects.  September is for completing Deviation.  October will be for Northville Five & Dime.  November will be for Spaceship Earth — a story I don’t know that I’ve mentioned here.  It’s a sexy, end of the world, sci-fi thingamajig.  Once I have all three stories complete, I’m going to publish them individually for the Kindle.  I’m also going to publish a paperback with all three stories, plus my other two longer short stories — The Marfa Lights and Shady Acres.  Or maybe I’ll just publish the three new stories together in the paperback.  Haven’t decided about that yet.  But each of these stories will, or should, end up being in the 15,000-25,000 word range, although I’m not sure about Spaceship Earth.  It may well end up longer than that.

Once I’m done with those stories, I’ll head back to one of my half-completed novels.  These short stories are helping me tremendously.  To write and also to remember that I can actually bring to conclusion a significant writing effort.  I was beginning to wonder if I could do that.

An Update

August has been a long, cruel month for my publishing efforts.  One Night in Bridgeport was doing well as I entered August, selling 250 downloads in July and continuing to produce a handful each day.  I decided to see what would happen if I raised the price to $2.99 and learned a painful lesson.  Sales dropped off.  So I put the price back to .99 and then offered a couple of free days.  Things were still slow for a few days.  I have this idea that Bridgeport at .99 could (should?) produce at least 100 downloads every month.  It wasn’t looking good for August and I thought I had done permanent damage to my sales of the book.  Until the last few days when I went from 68 to 97 for the month.  Almost got there.  I’m done monkeying around with the price.  Bridgeport is now there at .99.  For good or bad.

Weed Therapy, however, has been completely flat.  What I learned from promoting Bridgeport has produced virtually nothing for Weed Therapy.  Lesson learned — different book, different genre, different approach.  I’m still noodling over this while waiting for some more reviews to come in.  There must be a way to find the audience for the book.  I just haven’t figured it out yet.

Another Update

Go here.  The Paperbook Collective is a new on-line literary/creative effort.  The September 1 issue is the second for Jayde Ashe, an Australian blogger who is trying to put out a monthly collection of poetry, short stories, photography, art — just about any type of creative mode.  I have two short pieces of flash fiction in the September issue.  Check it out and contribute yourself for future issues.

A Peek Inside

I think some people will look at President Obama’s speech yesterday and say once again that he is weak, that he vacillates, that he’s unwilling to take a stand, that he doesn’t know what he is doing.  Personally, I think what he did was a master stroke.  Everybody wants him to do something.  Nobody wants him to do anything.  Great.  Give it to Congress and let them figure out a way out of this mess.  Let the Republicans self-destruct over this and demonstrate, once again, their unfitness. It also turns back the tide of criticism about the Imperial Presidency — that in matters such as these where the Constitution and federal law requires Congress’s consent for military interventions Presidents should not go it alone without the required Congressional approval.  It actually returns the U.S. to a place it should have occupied for the last few decades but didn’t because of the fractures in our political system.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Congress handles this.

What do I think should happen?  I’m a believer in using force for purposes of good.  There are times when the powerful have a moral duty to protect the less powerful.  It’s why I supported Clinton’s efforts in Bosnia 20 years ago.  It’s why I thought we should have down more in the Sudan.  Yes, there are plenty of examples of such efforts producing no benefit or, worse, dragging us into a mess.

The Middle East is certainly a mess waiting to become a quagmire.  We have done enough damage to our standing in the area over the last sixty years and even more so in the last decade.  And there are enemies on all sides just waiting for the opportunity to turn one country’s civil war into something larger.  As a result, there are huge risks if we strike Assad’s regime or intervene more heavily in the civil war.  That said, a government’s use of chemical weapons is simply unacceptable.  The brutality the Assad family has unleashed on the people of Syria for decades at some point has to end.  I struggle with the idea that we should just stand by and watch.

And now a video for you …

Or two …

It’s 6:24 in the morning.  It’s dark outside, but the sun is about to make it’s appearance.  Time to go for a walk.

 

 

A Peek Inside

I post regularly about events that help me recognize there’s a page in my life that needs to be turned.  One of the on-going topics has been the frustration of not being able to exercise the way I want.  I had a love-hate relationship with running for the 4+ years I participated in that sport.  What I loved was the ease and freedom it afforded me.  I also loved the challenge of going further and pushing myself and seeing that I could do more than I thought possible.  I loved to run in the rain.  On cold mornings and in the heat of a late summer afternoon upon my return from work.  I loved how I felt when I ran.

I hated how I felt when I ran.  Something always hurt.  I pain-free run never happened for me.  And every step of progress I made in distance or time was hard fought for.  I hated that running didn’t come easy for me like it does for others.

I loved the challenge of it though.  I grabbed that challenge and forced myself beyond what I thought my limits would be.

And then I couldn’t anymore.  I gave up on physical therapy almost a year ago and have wallowed and wallowed since.

And then I read this and was reminded of why I loved running and why it has to be a part of my exercise future.  I made contact with the physical therapist yesterday.  I’ll be committed to a physical therapy routine with his assistance for the next couple of months.  If there isn’t some marked improvement soon, I’m going to the sports doc and demanding an MRI and surgery.  There will be some bicycling as well because that helps strengthen the muscles in a different way.

I absolutely cannot wait until my first run in the rain when I have got to where I want and need to be.

Last week I also started first thing in the morning walks as many days as I can.  So, this morning was out on my 2.5 mile walk when I was reminded of something else.

In neighborhoods all over the community I live in, virtually any time of the day, you can see older Sikhs walking.  The men with their covered heads, flowing gray beards, and long white tunics.  The women, in their colorful, flowing robes.  Typically, the men walk alone and the women walk in pairs.  Rarely do I see a Sikh man and woman going for a walk together.  But, still they walk.

A little over two years ago and a couple of miles from my home, two older Sikh men out for their afternoon walk were gunned down while they took a rest at a bus stop.  The perpetrators remain at large and that disgusts me.  There are people who know who pulled the trigger and their silence makes them less than human.

This morning I was pleased to see, as I always am, many Sikhs walking in the neighborhood.  Walk on.  I know I will be.

A Moment

Without a picture.

I went for my Saturday morning bike ride.  22.5 miles.  About five miles into it, along a lonely two-lane country road, I came upon an older gentlemen peddling along.  As I passed, I wished him a good morning.  He responded in kind and added, “I could do that thirty years ago,” in reference to my pace compared to his.

I yelled over my shoulder, “It’s not so easy for me now.”   I peddled on for a few more seconds and then slowed down.  As he caught up to me, I commended him, “It’s great that you’re out here.”

His reply, “Not bad for 75.”

We exchanged a few more words and he asked me where I was headed.  “Just a loop.  About 20 miles.”

“I’m going 12,” he commented.

We wished each other well and that we should ride safe.  I peddled on and reflected on why I ride.

It’s my dad’s fault.  And my brother’s.

As far back as I can remember, my dad rode his bike.  Which means he started somewhere in the late ’60’s.  To work when weather permitted, along the bike trail and in the foothills on weekends.  He rode centuries and took Bicycle Adventures throughout the Northwest.  He took solo bicycling trips to the Southwest.  For something close to 40 years, my dad bicycled.  Age and physical ailments finally stopped him a few years ago.  But, he set an example.

My brother was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when he was eighteen.  From that point forward he became a physical fitness nut.  He’ll turn 54 this summer.  I’m willing to put him up against any other 54-year-old diabetic.  I’m pretty certain there isn’t another one as fit and healthy as my brother.  Actually, I’m willing to put him up against just about any other 54-year-old, diabetic or not.  Working out, bicycling, hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing.  He works to exercise.  He set an example, as well.

I see these two men in my family and recognize the need for health and fitness.  My father, at an age when most people are sitting in a recliner watching television and griping about the weather, was getting off his butt and exercising as long and as far as his body would take him.  Just like the man on the country road this morning.  My brother, faced with an illness that would cut his life short if he didn’t take care of himself, chose to challenge it and beat it.

I’ve struggled with making the commitment they both have.  For years, I hated running and didn’t even try it.  I went back and forth with bicycling.  Then, a few years ago, I got seriously into running.  For the first time in about twenty years, I was exercising regularly, running hundreds of miles a year for several years in a row.  Completing four half marathons and being in better physical shape than I had been in years.  Then I tried to play soccer.  I can’t run anymore.

It’s back to the bicycle.  It’s something I must do.  I have to do.  I have no choice.  I want to be like my dad, still bicycling into his 70’s.  I want to be that man on the country road … happy to be on his bike on a cool Saturday morning, going 12 miles, even if he couldn’t do what he did 30 years ago.  I don’t want to be the old guy griping about the weather and needing help to get out of a chair.

There’s another reason.  It’s not just about physical health and physical fitness.  It’s about mental health.  My long-lost twin sister, Olivia, separated not just at birth but by twenty years in age, is a huge fan of yoga.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve engaged in a dialogue about what yoga really could be.  It’s not just the physical practice of yoga itself.  What it really can be is those times when you are doing for yourself.  Where you want to be doing the thing you want to be.  That thing where you pull inside and be.  Where you are most at peace.  Where you are content.  (Hopefully, I got that right, sister o’ mine.)

Bicycling is that for me as well.  It is my yoga.

An interesting happened as I pulled away from the gentleman this morning.  This song came on my IPhone.  Yes, I have no doubt the songwriter had a different meaning, but as I peddled on and thought about these things, I thought it was perfect.

 

 

November Approaches

Really, it’s more about National Novel Writing Month approaching.  Committed to make an effort to this, I’m going to need to change my daily approach.  Add to NaNoWriMo, Debra Kreps throwing the gauntlet down with a November challenge of 30 minutes of exercise each and every day and, well, things will be changing.

It’s the kick in the pants I need.  I’ve been wallowing.  Wasting time.  Lacking in motivation.  Sitting in my recliner, blogging, playing Words with Friends, reading other blogs, and basically just not getting things done that need to get done.

This past year was the year of publishing.  November 1 will mark the beginning of a year of writing.  It’s time to get back to that.  I’m still hoping for more votes in my poll, but at the moment The Irrepairable Past is in the lead — problem with that is that particular story is the least conducive to the frenzy of NaNoWriMo.  It’s a slow story, not just in its action, but in its telling.  It needs time to ferment, to develop.  I’m not sure it’s the best thing to do in NaNoWriMo.  But, it’s also the story I am most interested in seeing to completion at this point.  So, we’ll see.

I’ve also been wallowing in the limitations caused by my groin injury.  It’s been a year and a half since the first tear.  A year since the third.  Nine months since I finally saw a doctor.  My 15-20 miles of weekly runs are now at zero.  Week after week after week.  I find it virtually impossible to find the motivation to do something else with any consistency.  I’ve gained 15 pounds, seeing a number on the scale every week I never saw before.  Most of my work clothes no longer fit.

Debra Kreps … 30 minutes a day.  I’m gonna get it done.  I need to regain a little bit of mojo.  Writing and health.  November, it begins.

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