Friday, May 30, 2008

2 Million Minutes

Have you ever wondered if American teens are studying as hard as they should to prepare themselves as the future workforce of America to keep up with the progress of the global economy? Check out this information and be afraid. Be very afraid. Two million minutes.

Check out this article too:
The Clock is Ticking by Schoenfeld Schropshire

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where Did You Go to School?

Where did you go to school for your undergrad education? Do you have happy memories from your time there? Are there special places on campus that stand out in your mind? Events you enjoyed? Teams you participated on? Adventures you had? People who made your time there, special?

Do you recall how you were treated by the admissions staff, the faculty or residence life assistants? Was the food good, were the buildings clean and grounds kept? Would you pay to send your own child there or promote the school within your sphere of influence?

Chances are, if you had a positive experience at your post-secondary educational institution that you are presently invested in its ongoing health, either financially or figuratively, perhaps both. Most high school aged students across N. America don't pick where they will attend high school, in fact, many attend the school designated for their neighborhood area. If you had the money to pick the high school where you would attend, what factors would you consider?

In my reading for my multicultural education class today, I came across some characteristics of successful, upper and upper middle class schools. These facts come from a book by Banks & Banks titled: Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. Think about this with me if you will.

Characteristics of most upper- and upper-middle-class high schools and private schools

1. The grounds are spacious and well-kept

2. The computer, laboratories, language and athletic facilities are extensive

3. Teachers are well educated and responsive to students and parents

4. Small class sizes (15 or fewer)/Small school sizes 1200 or fewer students in the school

5. Every student studies a college prep curriculum

6. There is a considerable amount of homework assigned

7. Most teachers do not have tenure or belong to unions so they can be replaced if they are considered unresponsive to students or parents

8. Numerous AP courses offer college credit

9. Students have a pride in being smart

10. Students do not watch a lot of TV

11. There are multiple opportunities for extracurricular activities such as debate and drama clubs, publications and music and chances to learn sports that colleges value such as: crew, ice hockey, squash and lacrosse *participating in one or more extracurricular activities increases a student's desire to attend school

12. Students have both academic and personal advisers who monitor their progress, help them solve problems and try to help have a successful school experience.

13. There is a robust tax base to help support annual costs which in the 2000's exceeded $15K per pupil

14. School board members are elected by members of the community that know them

15. Private schools are run by self-perpetuating boards of trustees, many of whom are grads of these schools.

16)The school head is chosen by the board of trustees and may be replaced by them if they are not satisfied.

What do these schools have in common?

  1. Money (tax base/funding)

  2. Community (=students who desire to achieve, do their homework and participate in extracurricular activities, and faculty and administration that desire to keep their jobs by staying responsive to the parents and accessible to students etc = good customer service and alumni that are willing to continue their investment in the next generation of students)

  3. Small/Manageable class sizes (fewer discipline problems)

  4. Unified curriculum, everyone is held to the same high, academic standard and is able to achieve it because they are unified in purpose, goal and consistent academic achievement.

Urban Schools on the other hand:

1. Large classes/larger, bureaucratic school system

2. Offer varied courses of study: academic, vocational, and general curricular tracks

3. They lack political and economic resources (low to no tax base due to housing segregation)

4. School board generally elected on a city-wide basis, generally sending their own children to private schools and they have little knowledge about or power over the daily operations of the public system (no personal investment)

5. Authority of teachers is empowered by bureaucratic procedures and unionization of teachers and administrators (organizational paralysis vs. governance)

The disparity in educational expenditures has consequences for the condition of school buildings, hiring of qualified staff and faculty, class size, and the lack of extra curricular activities. When educational opportunities suffer, so does the way children learn, how long they stay in school, the graduation rates, and the rates at which they pursue continuing education.

Picture three babies born at the same time but to parents from different social-classes. The first child is born to wealthy, well-educated parents in a business or professional family. The second is born into a middle-class family in which both parents attended college and have middle-level managerial or social service jobs. The third is born into a poor family in which neither parent finished high school or has a steady job. In a land where equal opportunity is promised to all people, will these children receive the same education?

Saying "No" to "People-pushers" and Not Feeling Guilty About It

One of the things I'm getting better at doing, but have not yet perfected, is the art of saying "No." I'm a people-pleaser by nature, but I find the older I get, the easier it is to disappoint people. I don't do it intentionally or out of spite, but I'm getting better and better at not over committing myself and at not burning my wick at both ends.

I'm getting to know my "commitment comfort zone" and while their are millions of things that are worthy of my time, I decidedly cannot be all things to all people or be in every place at once. Until the cloning process is perfected, I remain one person.

Another thing I am working to perfect is the art of "not feeling guilty when I cannot please people." Saying "no" can be followed by feelings of guilt and inadequacy. You feel like it's your fault that you can't meet the expectations of those around you. Don't. Just refuse to feel guilty. It is not your job to boost the self-esteem of those around you when they try and thrust their agendas at your feet and expect you to perform. Embrace the mantra of the anti-drug campaign of the 1990's and "Just say 'No'."

If you find yourself in a situation with a domineering person who has trouble taking "No" for an answer, you may then politely, yet firmly educate him or her about personal boundaries, and goals which you carefully guard so as to manage your time wisely and with self-respect. If they look at you like you have three heads and promptly come up with an excuse to leave your presence, congratulations, you have just bested a "people-pusher".

And while I agree that there are times when you must allow certain situations to infringe on the sovereignty of your personal space and comfort, those infringements must be the exception and not the rule, or you will find yourself, once again at the merciless feet of a people-pusher who only knows now to use, abuse and self-excuse. Hear me when I say, "Care for yourself first so that at the appointed time, you may care for others."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trans-racial Adoption

My friends Dave and Amy recently adopted their son Josiah. Check out their blog here. What an amazing journey it has been for them and will continue to be! Welcome Josiah!

A Little Humor

The Pastor's Ass

The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again.

The local paper read:

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day, the local paper headline read:

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:

The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.

The next day the paper read: NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild.

The next day the headlines read:NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.

The bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story is . . . being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery . . even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else's ass and you'll be a lot happier and live longer!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

L.L. Bean's Gettin' My Bidness

Although it's not a new idea that being eco-conscious and earth-friendly go hand in hand, I'm decidedly becoming more determined in my quest to leave a lighter "carbon footprint." I've transitioned to fluorescent bulbs and have started shutting off lights that aren't in use. I have programmable thermostats in my house, and I put my computer into sleep mode instead of turning it on and off every time I want to use it. I am washing my laundry in cold water with non-toxic laundry detergent and now I'm even going to buy canvas totes from L.L. Bean so I can thumb my nose at plastic grocery store bags.

I'm not totally green yet, but I'm becoming more mindful and making small adjustments in my lifestyle as I become aware of ways to be a do-gooder. So, L.L. Bean's gettin' my bidness. I'm going to go online today and purchase some canvas totes to take place of those disposable plastic, landfill-unfriendly bags that tear and dump your food all over the floor.

I'm one step closer to eco-friendly sainthood, but I guess I have a long way to go before I earn the title of "Earth's best friend."

I'm Crossing the Bridge

I've started looking forward to running. I don't dread it anymore, I actually look forward to it. I'm not good at it, I still struggle to breath when I'm doing it, but I like the way it makes me feel when I'm doing it and after I've done it. Heck! I even enjoy anticipating doing it. Anticipating doing an action you know will benefit you is a tremendous motivator!

I love getting out on the track, to the park or even around the neighborhood. I like to think and feel when I'm running. I am very aware that I am alive. The majority of my body is engaged and working together to make it happen. Bodily might say. When I'm running my mind is engaged with my body and I feel whole.

In church this morning we had a guest speaker who talked about how the word "missions" shouldn't make us think about "geography" but should make us think about what's right in front of us, unbelievers. He gave us all these stats about the poor health of the Christian church and then challenged us to be missional right in our own communities, basically before it's too late. I've been mulling that over since noon when the service let out.

I have a blister between my big and second toe on my right foot from walking around town in my flip flops. They are not good exercise shoes. I walked from Vinny's in Hatfield, over to church. Jeff and I had lunch together and then he had to zip down to Montgomeryville to go to work, so I decided I'd like to ride with him from church to Vinny's and that I would walk back to my car.

On my walk back, I was very aware of my vulnerability and was extra conscious of the intersections I came to. I thought carefully about where I put my feet, and of being polite and waving to people I came across. I became very aware of myself, in my environment. Usually, when I'm in the car, the town passes by in a relative blur as I speed from one destination to another. This time, as I walked along, I really saw Hatfield.

I passed a man walking the other way. He didn't look like he had a home. I've seen him around town before, and wondered where he finds shelter. I said hello and he was polite, and I think he even greeted me first. I became conscious of the clothes on my back and the rings on my fingers, and I watched people driving by in their shiny cars, some on their way home from church others out for leisure or to visit friends. Then I thought about the man I had passed on the street and wondered about his life and where he may have had lunch, if he had any at all.

What are we doing for our fellow men? I mean the people in our very own communities. Are we doing everything we can, or are we just putting in our tithe? What could I be doing to help the guy I passed on the street?

I began to think about praying as I walked around Hatfield, and saning it for the Lord, consecrating myself (ourselves as the church) to the work to be done in our community. I am certain that others need to be convinced of my sincere interest in their lives before they can hear what I have to say about Jesus and take it to heart. So what's the plan?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Surgery Scheduled

My surgery is scheduled for June 27! It seems I'll have time to run my races and take my Praxis tests afterall! Please keep me in your prayers as I train for my 5Ks and study for my teaching licensing exams, and also for Dr. Shah and the other doctors involved in my surgery in June. I would appreciate your prayers for safety and healing.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Toxic Tupperware

Hold the phone. I just heard that Nalgene is recalling it's number 7 recyclable bottles, the ones made with BPA or Bisephenol A. Not all #7 products are made with BPA but Rock and Serve Tupperware products are. See the following links for more information. BPA is linked to cancer in rat studies done by the FDA.

Check out these reports!

Read the information directly from Nalgene's website.

See the news on Tupperware's website as well.

Apparently BPA binds with Estrogen and causes your hormones to do weird things and causes cancer in lab mice or something. So! Stop using that stuff! See if you can turn in the Nalgene bottles for something else without BPA in it and ask your Tupperware consultant if they'll take back their Rock and Serve. It looks like Tupperware doesn't think there is anything wrong with their stuff. They might not take it back.

If anyone knows anything concrete about this, please let me know, and I'll print a retraction if you have evidence to the contrary about this stuff.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Humility of My Visit to the OBGYN

I'm back and it was quite a trip. My appointment at the gyno was eventful. I got there and Dr. Shah was delayed in surgery. My appointment was scheduled for 1:50 p.m. and I don't think I saw her until around 3 p.m. The receptionist apologized to all Dr. Shah's patients that were accumulating in the waiting room and explained her absence. She asked us if any of us wanted to reschedule. I figured I had waited months to see her, I could wait another hour or so. So I did. I had a good book with me, and I had taken the rest of the day off of work so I just sat back and watched all the other people that arrived get a bit frustrated. Most choose to wait.

After I was called back by the med. tech. she took my weight and BP and then escorted me to the examining room. Once alone, I shivered and shifted awkwardly in my paper top that opened in the front, and dag gone it... there was no bottom, you just put your naked butt on the paper covered table and cover yourself with a smallish paper blanket. I waited in silence, chewing on my lower lip.

Dr. Shah came in within a few minutes and she asked me how things are going. I always break down in her presence, so I began to blubber anew, and to tell her about the latest stresses in my life, job insecurities, worried about the loss of our medical insurance when I'm student teaching in the spring, infertility worries etc. and she reassured me before going over the ultrasound results. As she was talking, I realized I was sweating and that the paper beneath me was wet with sweat and starting to fall apart. The combined emotional blubbering and anxiety over what she was telling me about my ultrasound was a bit much to absorb all at once.

I got through the pelvic exam with damp and shredded paper clinging to my butt and afterwards met with Dr. Shah to go over my test results and her recommendation as to how we should proceed.

Dr. Shah explained how there was a cyst on my right ovary at the time of the ultrasound (not my left side where I feel the pain) and that there were two polyps (most likely non-cancerous) in my uterus. She explained how these cysts are normal and occur with ovulation and then go away. She also told me that the test showed that the lining of my uterus is also thicker than normal.

She advised I undergo a D and C out-patient operation, so next week, I'll schedule an appointment to get my uterus wall thinned, remove the polyps and shave away the extra lining that could be interfering with conception and giving me extra hard periods with heavy bleeding (My Mom had the same troubles). The D and C is the equivalent of cleaning our your gutters. Stuff accumulates that interferes with the optimal functioning of the system, so you go in and clean it out.

After the D and C, Dr. Shah cautioned me, "Nothing in the Wagina for two weeks." I took that to mean I had to abstain from sexual intercourse. She told me about the normal risks of the surgery but I was encouraged that she has done many of these surgeries and bolstered by the thought that seems routine. I'm always worried about being in that small percentage of patients that experience complications.

A couple of weeks after the D and C (outpatient surgery) she wants to do a dye test to see if my Fallopian Tubes are open. My periods are regular (which indicates I'm probably ovulating), and my uterus is retro-fitted so it tilts away and down. She said 30% of women have this anomaly and are able to get pregnant. In August, I will be scheduled to get a new ultrasound to survey any changes.

Dr. Shah was very helpful and reassuring. Still, I live in fear that I have or will have cancer or die from some freak accident during surgery. I keep having those out-of-control dreams, you know, the ones where your teeth fall out, or you're driving a giant delivery truck through an unfamiliar city and the huge steering wheel is on the wrong side of the truck, and you can't quite reach the brakes? That's my nightmare... I really have this horrible feeling that God doesn't care about me and would let something bad happen to me. I know that sounds terrible. I am living with fear.

Ever since I started feeling my own mortality, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop or the other house (like on the Wicked Witch of the East). Now that I have seen loved ones die and have been through surgeries and car accidents and now living with this pain in my uterus, and seeing my body age and change, I know that I am going to die someday, and I do not feel carefree anymore. I am humbled, but I am also afraid.

Mad Dash to the Gyno

Today I unabashedly go to the gyno for my annual exam and to hear the results of my pelvic ultrasound. I called three times to get my test results over the last two weeks. The doctor's office claims they called twice and left me messages, which I never received. How is this possible? Jeff claims he never got any messages. This is me trying not to be annoyed and failing miserably.

When you've got a weird pain, you want to know what's causing it, without any delays. Hopefully, I'll know soon. I hate the suspense, but I must endure it. Now would be a perfect time to go running, if I knew I didn't have to have my feet in the stirrups in less than three hours. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

First signing in with the receptionist and the mandatory waiting room stint. Then getting your blood pressure taken and your weight measured, followed by the wait in the examining room for the gyno. I try and wait a little bit before I get undressed because I know I'm going to be sitting there for awhile, freezing and feeling vulnerable before the doctor arrives. I debate whether or not I should try and peruse an old magazine or stare at the medical charts on the walls. I do both. I have the time.

There is just something unnerving about sitting there in the silence of the gyno's examining room, dreading the experience and glancing malevolently at those stirrups; instruments of torture. There sits the speculum and the tube of lubricant waiting for use on the side table along with a pair of Latex gloves destined to be worn by the hands that will soon be probing the depths of my uterus, seeking to examine the health of my ovaries.

It's quite the experience, stripping naked and putting on a drafty gown, then having to put your business up in the air and leave yourself exposed to medical scrutiny... Even though Dr. Shah has been my gyno for 7 years now, I still don't completely relax when I'm being "examined."

I start to think about why a doctor chooses to become a gynecologist. Who would want to look at vaginae all day long? Who would spend lots of money on their educations to do such a thing? God calls men and women with unique gifts to different professions. His will amazes me.

So I go to the gyno today, trying not to worry, trying not to dread the visit. I will try and see it as a privilege and a blessing. Not everyone has the chance to do what I will do today, and I quietly rejoice. Make that very quietly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To quote Queen, "I Want to be Free"

It's pretty nice outside; so nice in fact that I should be outside running instead of sitting at my desk wanting to bang my head against the wall from lack of amusing things to do.

I get to keep my present job until January and at that point they're going to make my job part time. Between now and then, the number of people I will be supporting will increase (but probably not the pay) because of a lack of institutional growth. The evidence of cutbacks is prevalent across the United States economy so it's not surprising that it's effecting little ole me as well. Ah! Capitalism!

Soon I will be able to go get the next two books in the Stephen Lawhead series I'm reading (The Song of Albion) and then I'll hit the trail to go running and try and go farther than I did yesterday, which isn't very far. :) Jeff is working late again...trying to make the money to help keep us in our house, while I continue to labor to provide us with health insurance and to pay the bills.

This year, we probably will NOT go on vacation because Jeff is working three jobs and we won't know if he gets the fulltime position promotion from being the intern guy until it's too late to go on vacation. Not having money makes life less comfortable to live.

Stay in school, eat your veggies, and major in Math or Science or Business so you can one day make lots of money and afford to live comfortably.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today, I Run

Today, I run. It's gorgeous outside. Jeff is working the trifecta (all three jobs) and I'm going running, because I can. I will glorify God as I am able and put one foot in front of the other and discipline myself.

My life is a gift, and one which I must use gratefully, and wisely. The wise part shouldn't be of the donkey variety, but of the respectable kind...the God-kind. In my imperfect way, I will be worshiping the Lord and accepting his will for my life as I seek to bring glory to His name, in whatever capacity I am able, whether or not that involves having babies.

Today, I run. Tomorrow will take care of itself, as the Lord provides. My job is not to question why, only to be thankful for the provision of the Lord. Today, I have my health. Today, I can hug and kiss my husband and be thankful for his companionship, and that I am a child of the Most High God.

Thank you God for your provision in my life and your many blessings. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for loving me despite all my many flaws and for providing for your child and servant who wavers in her faith. I am thankful that you are faithful to love me, even when I am wayward. I pray that you would draw me to yourself and bring me back into right fellowship with you. Thank you for shepherding me and helping me to grow to be more like you. I love you Lord Jesus.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Hormone Hell" and "The Air Down There"

Hormone Hell
If you're a woman, you know the emotional torture of "The Curse," and if you're a man living with a woman, so do you. You're both along for the ride. Some of us drive that car better than others and for some of us, we're both passengers and the out of control. Some people choose to regulate the effects of these hormone surges with birth control pills. That's not such a hot idea when you're trying to have kids though...

Sunday was a tough day emotionally. Chocolate cravings and pre-menstrual emotional roller coaster rides abounded, but my house is clean! (Poor Jeff)

Part of me never wants to go to church again on Mother's Day. I certainly won't go without tissues. The message was so emotional, I was wiping my eyes and nose with a crumpled up bulletin insert.

I knew it would be tough (with the handing out of the plants to all the moms) wishing I could be one, realizing that I probably never will, but then I just felt emotionally beat over and over again by the sermon. Admittedly, it was tough. Sure, God opens and closes wombs. He also allows bad things to happen to good people. Chalk it up to living in a sinful world and not as a personal vendetta the Lord has against sinful me.

It's hard to be in a small church, and feel like the sermon is featuring you and knowing that everyone knows that you're probably feeling miserable. It was embarrassing and just not a good day for my mental health. I guess I just need not care what other people think. My husband and I want kids and haven't been able to have them. The doctors say we're physically OK based on the preliminary tests.

Yesterday in church, I felt the stares of people as the pastor talked about there being people in the congregation wanting to have children and being unable to do so... there aren't that many people in the congregation of child bearing age that are childless, and I felt this big spotlight shining right on Jeff and I, even if that was not the intent, because as Purpose Driven Pastor so aptly puts it, "It's not about you." I went to the bathroom to fix my face during prayer so that no one would see me blubbering like a baby. No pun intended.

Getting pregnant with the use of pharmaceuticals like Clomid are just not for me. I don't want to take any drugs that increase the number of eggs you drop because there are so many negative side effects and unknown long term consequences of taking these drugs. One of the dangers of taking Clomid is an increased risk of getting cancer. I figure, if God wants me to be pregnant I will be. But I hate the social stigma that goes along with being barren.

I realize that this is 2008 and that the social stigma has weakened somewhat over the years, but I think people still wonder and speculate why God has closed your womb when you can't have kids. My answer is that it isn't because we're any more evil than the average bear, it's just not happening for us to our dismay and disappointment. Maybe having a retro-fitted uterus DOES make it more difficult to have kids.

The Air Down There
I've been having pains in the left lower quadrant of my pelvis. My doctor said I probably pulled my groin, but for the life of me, I can't remember doing that and it just seems like I should remember. The nurse practitioner at the gyno said she couldn't feel and cysts on my ovaries, but that she'd send me to get a pelvic ultrasound just for "peace of mind."

When I went for my pelvic ultrasound last Monday, the technician inserted a giant, lubricated wand into my private area and fished around for my ovaries keeping me talking the whole time to help me try and relax.

It's very difficult to make conversation about everyday things when you have someone fishing around your cavernous uterus for your reproductive organs. It was like something out of the X-files, except this wasn't an alien doing the probing, it was a nice lady I'll call Rose.

Rose had to find a lot of things to talk about while she tried to locate my ovaries, "...oh, sometimes they're hard to find..don't worry."

"Yeah, I'll try not to," I said, grimace, grimace.

We talked about me wanting to have kids, about the "retro" fit of my uterus...most people have a uterus shaped like a cup or "u." Mine is shaped more like a lower case "n." I asked if that interfered with conception and she said that they used to think that it did but that was no longer the case and that a retro-fitted uterus is a typical abnormality as far as they go. I'm still waiting the results of the probe a week later.

I'm not going to make any vows to God to try and get him to give in and give us a baby, I just trust him to know what's best, even though I hate it. I don't like not being in control of my own ability to pro-create. But I guess it's more of an "inability" to do so.

Jeff and I are not on the same page as far as adoption is concerned, so that just isn't an option right now. I'm not getting any younger but I am getting more and more frustrated. I am not content and I don't feel like God cares. Yeah, that about covers it.

I know, I know. There are so many worse things that could be happening to me, I need to try and keep it in perspective. It's just that sometimes I struggle to control my disappointment and lack of contentment over that which I think should be happening and isn't.

Friday, May 9, 2008

For Mother's Day

My friend Nell Ruch just sent me a link to an article in Christianity Today on Mother's Day that is written from the perspective of a woman who wanted children of her own, but was unable to conceive. (She later adopted) It really struck home for me, as a woman who wants to have children, but can't seem to get pregnant.

Read this and be blessed.

Happy Mother's Day

Genesis of a Runner

My Uncle Dennis replied to my email, asking him a bunch of questions about how he got into running and what it means to him. He's a soft-spoken guy with a slight southern accent and a true gentleman. Here are excerpts from his reply to me:

*Note: Katie and Beth (mentioned in this interview) are his daughters. Dennis and his wife Margie and their son Joe live in Canada.

"Hi Rigel,
I got to go to your blog last night. Thanks so much for all the nice things you said.

I'm so pleased that you have signed up for TWO 5Ks. I think you will enjoy the events and it really helps set a target to work for.

I'll be honoured to try to answer some of your questions below.

I guess the first running I did was to get ready for football in jr. high and high school. Then after college I let my weight get away from me. I started dieting and running 2 miles around the apartment complex. I have to watch my weight and running has always been a way to help that process.

Back in the late 70s early 80s I got into running enough to do some 5Ks 10ks and a 10 miler. Margie ran quite a lot then too. She and a girl friend would run 6 miles a day, chatting every step of the way.

Since then I ran mostly for general fitness and weight control until about 2004. My weight was an up and down issue as we went through different phases of life / jobs etc. When we lived in Maryland I joined Weight Watchers and picked up my running quite a bit. There is some beautiful farm land to run through. That's when I trained for my first marathon.

We have enjoyed many other sports, golf, tennis, hiking, skiing etc. but to me running is always a good supplement to overall weight control and fitness. It can be worked into almost any schedule, It's not expensive, it doesn't require anyone else or court times or tee times etc. It's there and you can do it. Incidentally you can also get some neat experiences running in different places when you travel. I've had the privilege of running in places like, Galveston, London, New York City, Huntington Beach Ca. Lake Louise and a bunch of small towns, parks and paths.

Staying motivated can be a problem as you go through the different phases of life etc. Running almost ALWAYS makes you feel better about your self AFTER you do it (and usually while your doing it). It's like a little self improvement project you can choose to do almost every day. Who doesn't feel good about self improvement projects?

Morning running seems to work best for me, I wish I could tell you that making myself get out of bed was easy. It's not. But, its funny, sometimes when you have to really talk your self into getting up there is some kind of special reward. A really good time for a distance, seeing some wildlife (deer, coyotes, porcupines) , or a special sunrise etc.

Setting goals like running a race, hitting a weight goal. doing x miles per week is helpful. Keeping a log and tracking shoe miles helps. It's amazing how looking back and saying, I ran 25 miles this week, or I'll have 400 miles on these shoes soon, If I run 3 today instead of 2 I'll have 20 for the week. It is a motivator.

There are lots of books and info on the web that help you develop. One thing I have said is that the first mile is the hardest. If all running was like the first mile nobody would run at all. As you get past that first mile you feel better and your are able to travel further, see more and get more benefits out of it.

You can also use different types of runs, easy ones, Speed workouts, Hill repeats , long runs, short runs, different routes, etc. - Mixing it up helps keep it from being the same old thing. You tell yourself you'll just do an easy run to get out of bed, but then you change it as you get started.

Running in weather can be a neat experience. You need to dress for it and be safety smart about running like when it's just snowed and the snow covers the icy patches etc. Actually the Mid 20sF is a great temperature to enjoy.

I have rarely run with someone. Some people like it, it's just hard for me to schedule. I'd do "Cherish the Fun" run that Beth and I did together, the time Katie and I ran Central park in NY and the duoathelon we did, running with friends on vacations etc. It's just not part of my regular routine.

Your blog mentioned how you pray and think about things when you run. It really is a good time to be alone with yourself. Sometimes I pretend I'm talking to my parents and updating them on how things are going. I don't think non runners understand that part of it.

I'd be happy to talk more if you have any questions or thoughts. Let me know, we'll set up a time and I'll call you. (we have a flat rate for all calls to the states)

I know you will do well in you 5 Ks. Keep it up. Being able to share this with you is another highlight."

Grilled Filet Mignon and Potatoes

Is your mouth watering yet? Last night my husband surprised me by cooking us dinner. And not just any dinner...a filet and yummy potatoes dinner, on the grill. I cannot tell you the number of the cloud that my tastebuds were on, but it was heavenly.

I went to work, did my training workout, and came home. He had marinated the meat and I knew what was coming, so I had some time before dinner to mow the lawn and hunger in anticipation of a marvelous dinner that my dear husband cooked for us on the grill.

I have never tasted a better piece of meat. It was tremendous! And although we can't afford to do that every night (I asked), I will savor the memory of that dinner for as long as I can. Sweet heavenly days!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Inspirational Uncle Dennis

Have you ever personally known someone that inspires you to be a better version of yourself? My Uncle Dennis just finished a half-marathon this past weekend and is already training for a full marathon for the month of June. Can you believe it?

This is a picture of him finishing his race. This guy is truly amazing! He ran the half at about an 8:35/mile pace. He runs in various weather conditions, tracks his mileage, and enjoys the effort. He is truly a runner.

Although I can't claim that title myself yet, I am inspired to really embrace the sport myself. It's a great discipline to practice and to keep one physically and mentally in shape.

I have found that once I'm out there on the trail, track or course and into my pace/groove, my mind can process things I've been pondering during the day. I can mull things over and gain a new perspective on things that threaten to overwhelm me emotionally and spiritually.

I can pray when I run and talk to the Lord. I can tell him what's on my heart. I can thank him and glorify him and he gives me peace as I empty my worries into his listening ear. I'm not worried as much about speed as I am about keeping on going and putting one foot in front of the other at a consistent jog, above the pace of walking.

I'm actually looking forward to being a better me, thanks to Uncle Dennis and his inspiring journey as a runner. I think I'll investigate the possibility of an interview with Uncle Dennis. I think he has excellent insight to share in what keeps him logging the miles.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Two 5K Races

I'm doin' it! I signed up for two 5K races in June. The first is Sunday, June 1 at 4:30 p.m. in Perkasie. The second is Saturday, June 7 at 8:30 a.m. in Lansdale. I'm pretty excited about it. I've started training (today) and I'm running for a personal best because almost everyone else is faster than me. LOL!

I'm pretty excited to have something to work towards again. I'm also taking my teaching exams on June 14th.

Are you working towards anything right now?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One of My Biggest Fears

One of my biggest fears is dying alone. I'm already worried about not being surrounded by people that love me, if I am to get old and die some long, lingering death from an illness. I'm worried that I won't have children and grandchildren by my bed side (because we're having trouble getting preggers).

I could just die suddenly in an accident and not have told the people I care about how much I love them, and all the wonderful things I think of them and see in them.

Today I will call and tell someone I love them and why they are special to me. Today I will be thankful for the people in my life that God has given to me and I will try and bring him glory, for as long as I have, however, long that may be.

Losing Someone Close to You

I've been thinking about death alot lately. I know this sounds morbid, but people around me have been dying. It gets you to think about life and death and thinking about the people and pets you have lost that are dear to you.

I don't think you ever truly get over losing someone dear to you, it's just that thoughts of that person don't automatically come to mind as frequently. But if you think about them long enough, you can still remember what if felt like to lose them, like it just happened yesterday.

I have a lot of questions to ask God or to ask about God after losing a relatives, friends, and beloved pets.

If God is omnicient, why did he create us, knowing that we would sin and separate ourselves from him?
Are we pre-destined to be God's children or does our eternal salvation hang in the balance?
Does God give up on people?
Is God alone up there in the cosmos or are there more beings like him in other parts of the universe? Who created God?
What does God do for fun?
Because there are so many of us sinning around the world, constantly, does God ever not feel sad because of our sins?
What redeeming value can there be in maintaining a relationship with sinful humanity?
Is it OK to be afraid to die?
Why do bad things have to happen in order for God to be glorified?
Why are humans obsessed with by their sense of fairness?
Why do we have to die? How did God decide when we would all die?

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Seven Dwarves

If you could rename the seven dwarves for the 21st century, what would you name them?

Don't Waste Your Life

From "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper

"God created me--and you--to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion--namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples."