exercise


The photos below have nothing to do with this post. I had no pictures to put with the post, so I just took a series that I was pretty sure would never make it to SkyWatch Friday. This is a sunrise about 3 weeks ago. The pictures were taken within about two minutes and I think include the view from every direction from my house.

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click photo to enlarge

Before I started blogging, I hesitated quite a long time to do it, even though pressured to do it by two of my cousins. The main reason was time. I  knew I did not have time. I still do not, as evidenced by my irregular posting and visiting. But another reason is that I thought it was a bit narcissistic. I thought WHO CARES about the daily happenings of anyone else.  Before I dove in myself, I spent several months reading other blogs. I realized they are not all self-absorbed. (I do not read the ones that I think are.)

However, I have been thinking about my blog lately because one fairly regular reader and commenter once said something like “whatever your blog is about.”  I laughed (I often laugh at his comments; he has a wonderful sense of humor whether or not he means to be humorous.) because it is true.  My blog has no theme. I knew it would not, but it is glaringly apparent when compared to the blogs I visit. Most could be categorized as something. Mine cannot. It is about me. It does not get much more narcissistic than that. And this post will probably be the worst yet. Thank you to all you who come here even though the topics are so varied and there might be three sentences one visit and an epistle the next. And for putting up with me.

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click photo to enlarge

Today I did not really want to say anything about September 11 because so many others have. I also find it irritating how something so tragic that drew a nation together for a few days (or an afternoon?) is now often used in a political sense to tear it apart. (Certainly not everyone, but I have seen plenty of  “Remember 9/11, and be sure you remember why this event makes me right in my political opinions.” I have seen this from opposing viewpoints. Can we just remember a tragedy without being disparaging?) I rarely mention politics in  this space because I hate politics. I hate extremes. I think all sides have extremes. I think the extreme left and the extreme right both want to take away freedom–just in different ways that appeal only to them. (My viewpoints make both sides upset, so if I really got into this, I would likely alienate my entire readership.)  I hate statements that have little other purpose than to be inflammatory. I hate it when people can dish it out but cannot take it.  So I choose to avoid the topic entirely–most of the time. Which is why I was going to avoid any mention of 9/11.  But something compelled me to tell my part of that day’s story. I was pregnant with Chic. I was at work. The tiny television in the Conference Room was on for people to watch the horrific scene over and over. (I am personally not a fan of watching the same tragedy over and over.) Then the Pentagon was hit. Just a couple of weeks before that Prince Charming had been doing an internship at the Pentagon. (Leaving my pregnant self home alone much of the summer.) What was horrible before was real then. But real for me was not, and will never be, what real was for the people who lived and worked  in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that day or who lost someone. They know real. The rest of us just speculate.

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click photo to enlarge

In my car today, on the way to drop off some stamps and to pick up Chic, I suddenly started crying about my mother. There is  nothing special about today in relation to her, but maybe I was thinking about the 9/11 loss. Chicklet was talking to me, and I could not even speak. When I started blogging, I thought I would write a lot about my mother. About her life. About her death. About her 10-year dying process. But I have written very little. Some days I want to just unload it all. But part of me is afraid. The few times I  have discussed her before, the reactions have not been at all what I expected. My reason for wanting to share her story has to do with lessons learned. It is not about me at all. I do not want sympathy or consoling words. I want people to understand what happened and why. I guess I do not know how to say it in a way to make people understand, or else I am not ready. But today, I missed her.

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click photo to enlarge

Last Friday (or Saturday, I don’t remember when it went up) I did a post and said I would see you on Monday. I did not. The day had several totally unexpected things happen (I spent most of the day in front of the computer working on things for Art Class), but ended well (and also unexpectedly) with an afternoon/evening with our “gaming friends” playing Settlers of  Catan–Cities and Knights. (And have been behind blogging since.)

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click photo to enlarge

Now for some more random (and hopefully lighter than the first two sections) things…

1– I  have decided I do not like cooking much right now. Nothing has changed, really, but I get SO. MUCH. ACCOMPLISHED on days I do not cook. I am great at multi-tasking, but I think I hate it. When I cook, I want to focus on cooking. When I cannot focus on it, I think I would rather not do it at all.

2– Our electricity has been flashing lately for every thundercloud that goes over. I realize this is common in some parts of the country (southern Missouri, for example), but it is not common here. And it is starting to get on my nerves because I am at a computer so much of the time.

3– I have two times a day when I can think–really think. Those times are when I exercise and when I cook. (And cooking might involve so many other things that it does not count.) But I am thinking about a post relating to my aerobic activity which is biking (usually to school, but sometimes in the neighborhood). It will mostly be a rant, but I cannot get it out of my head.

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click photo to enlarge

4– My husband is gone. He will be gone most of the weekend at a seminar related to his position at church. I hate it when he is gone. (For many reasons not the least of which he is not here to have water boiling on the stove to add to my bath when it gets cold–because I do not like running water in the tub because the wait for hot water is too long.)

5– Tonight’s bath is scented with Black Amethyst from Bath and Body Works. I was not into that scent much during the heat of summer, but I am liking it a lot again now. (Have I told you how absolutely glorious September is in this part of the country?)

6– My biggest project of the week has been doing my taxes. No, not estimated quarterlies, but the ones that were due on April 15. The last few years we have filed for extensions (even though we always get money back) because I do not have time to do them (and Prince Charming, forgive me, is useless in this area). But they have NEVER been this late. If I were married to Daryl (which I think is impossible because neither of us are lesbians, though neither of us oppose them and their relationships, and who also has a wonderful 9/11 post today), she would have divorced me by now for how long this has taken. Prince Charming is just happy he does not have to bother with financial things.

7– I really, really, REALLY do not like word verification on Blogspot. Really.

8– When I grow up, I want to be her.

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The Good:

Yesterday was crazy, but the craziest part was the part spent in the jury assembly room for a federal district court near downtown Albuquerque.

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My summons came quite some time ago. I begged off for having two children and no daytime childcare. No one cared, but I never got called to appear… until yesterday. I begged again, saying I would have to bring my 5-year-old with me. No one cared.

So yesterday after doing some of my weekly work at my church which I normally do on Wednesday, Chicklet and I went to the jury assembly room. Chicklet had a backpack stocked full of necessary items for surviving an undetermined amount of time quietly. Lots of small toys, coloring books, food and most importantly, her “home blanket.” Chicklet had also been made to understand very clearly about quietness and sitting still and in the courtroom she would have to be dead silent.

After checking in, we happily found a sofa where we spent the next two hours. Probably 45 minutes of that two hours was a very nice, very polite man doing an orientation for us. He was truly a jewel of a man because all but a couple of the questions people asked were the type that had I been in his place, I might have snapped, “Did you not listen to what I have been saying for the last 15 minutes?” or “Did you read ANYTHING we sent to you and gave you today?” I must say this man and his staff were efficient and friendly. (Quite an unusual thing for my part of the country, actually.)

I had a feeling once we got to the court room they would let us leave because there were strict rules prohibiting things that caused distractions–things like gum-chewing. I was thinking Chicklet could be a much bigger distraction than the rudest of gum chewers. But she was being SO good. I knew she could not be that good for a whole trial as she would get too tired to behave properly, but she was so good yesterday, I began to fear they might not send us home.

A lady (friendly and efficient) came in and said they were getting ready to go, but she needed to see two potential jurors first. I was one of them. They dismissed me before the courtroom! We had been there two hours, but got to leave and were home in time to get a quick nap in before going back to school to pick up Chic. When we left Chicklet almost threw a fit was a bit disappointed because I had prepared her for the courtroom and we never got to go, but all in all, this was GOOD!

But it is even better. Usually I am not home on Wednesdays. That meant that this week I would not be home TWO days which totally wreaks havoc on my schedule since I am always busy and working on something. But everything I usually do on Wednesday got moved to Tuesday this week. Usually that would have been an inconvenience, but after being gone all day yesterday, it is so lovely that I am home today! I choose to believe that God was looking out for me. (Yes, I believe in God. If you do not, that is fine. Call it the Universe or something.)

The Bad:

I need to lose weight. OK, a lot of people do. And I am not the poster child for obesity, but I am also not skinny, or thin, or even close these days. In fact, I weigh my all-time high–which I have only weighed once before after some very specific circumstances. The bottom line is that I like to eat and for the past two years, exercise has been sporadic due to bronchitis, ankle injuries, bronchitis, more ankle injuries and more bronchitis. But the past summer has been good. My aerobic activity is exclusively biking now (does not do further damage to my ankles) and I made Chic start biking on her own so I did not have to pull her in the bike trailer. (She more than doubles the weight of just Chicklet.) The goal was to prepare Chic to be able to ride her bike to school while I go along with Chicklet in the trailer.

We have yet to ride to school since school has started, and we only got to do one trial run before it started. This means I am not getting enough exercise. (But I am eating as if I am!)

So last Friday, we were set to bike to school. First, Chic’s bike had a flat tire. (We Prince Charming had not changed her tubes to the self-sealing kind which are necessary for this trip.) So I decided to do it anyway with Chic in the bike trailer–it’s only half the 11 miles since I drop her off. We were headed out early, and Chic started talking politics. (She’s 8.) I got so engrossed in this conversation (trying to explain things without clouding her opinions with my own) that I missed the turn to where we park to start biking. I did not realize this until about a mile later. It was too late to go all the way back, or we would be late to school, so I thought of a place we could park closer. When I turned, Chic realized she did not have her backpack. I had no choice but to go home. THAT was a disaster. The school traffic near our home is horrendous. (The last two mornings it has taken me 13 minutes to go half-a-mile. I live about 8 miles from Chic’s school, and the drive is 40 minutes.) I knew we would be late if we came back that way, so I went another way–hoping to save time so I could just go back home and bike with Chicklet. Traffic the other way was horrible, too. I nearly witnessed 4 separate accidents. (People here are not known for polite driving.) There was unexpected construction, and it was just a mess. I was wondering if God was trying to tell me not to bike that day. (I decided, possibly stubbornly, that it was something more evil that did not want me to exercise.)

Late to school. Late home, but I decided to bike anyway–even though Fridays are extremely busy days, and that one was worse because we were having guests for dinner the next day. We got loaded up and headed out. I was a big ball of stress, and when I was rounding a corner early in the ride, I almost wrecked. I did not know what was wrong, but my bike was sliding. I got off, and saw this:

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The trailer had caught the edge of a curb and flipped over, and I dragged it through the rocks. Chicklet was not moving or making a sound. I could see rocks inside the trailer by her head which had to hit the ground. This was a BAD accident. Someone who had seen it driving by stopped to help. But all was well. No major damage. Not a scratch on Chicklet who is the type to screech at the top of her lungs for the slightest thing. So the bad turned out good.

The Beautiful:

Recently I got gifts from two separate blog friends.

First is from Leia of We Love Luna and Bonjour Luxumbourg. I love ALL this stuff. I love that it is cute and is in French. There is even a little book in French to read to my girls.  Can I read French? No, but I’ll learn enough to read that book about that cat. Go visit her. Luna is a gorgeous cat, and Leia is all kindness.

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Also, Fishing Guy sent me this beautiful example of his photography, in the nice frame. He even printed something else in case I wanted to change it. (Why would I, but how nice is that?) Go visit him, too. His blog has always got something different on it.

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And the rest of you just make me happy with your nice comments and generous visits. You are all beautiful.

This post is a meme hosted by  Sonia at Leaves of Grass. This is not the first time she has hosted Ecological Day (I have been aware of it at least twice before), but it’s my first time. Pop on over and see what everyone else is posting this month! I think it will be fun. Most pictures in this post will enlarge when clicked (and likely worth it.)

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Our mountain on the way to school

Our mountain on the way to school

Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.

Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.

My shadow while riding

My shadow while riding to school

Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.

Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)

The mesa with golden morning sun.

The mesa with golden morning sun.

These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

"Russian Olive" with copper fruit. I've never seen that before.

Russian olive with copper fruit. (I've never seen these in copper before.)

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

Exercise is something I am good at. I have always been active, but since moving away from my home state and becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I have forced exercise into my routine. I do not need exercise buddies or people to encourage me. I do not need gym memberships to motivate me. I just need a few essential items, and I am good at being motivated to get it done.

My exercise involves walking/running (pushing 50-105 pounds of jogging stroller, depending on who is in it), biking (dragging a bike trailer, again 50-105 pounds), rollerblading (with jogging stroller) and weight lifting. I do all this mostly because I get bored doing just one thing. Our housing development has about fifteen miles of exercise trails, and I know every nook and cranny of them. I have created different routes that I take to fill up the allotted time so I have the chance to see different things each day. Most of the time I have no problem getting four 1-hour+ workouts in each week, and sometimes more. (The more depends on my schedule, which is tight.) My point is that I get it done. I do not make excuses; I just go and exercise.

However, I have not exercised regularly since the end of last November. Since Chicklet’s birth (more than four years ago) and subsequent first year of misery (for Chicklet and me), my exercise has involved a weight loss goal. Since I am not a dieter (I eat quite healthy most of the time, but I like eating), exercise is my key to weight maintenance. When I stopped exercising last November, I was within four pounds of my goal. I do not even know where I am now, but it is a far cry from four pounds!

December made exercise impossible because Chicklet and I both got sick. It was cold then, and when we are coughing, it is not reasonable to go out and exercise. Unfortunately, my sickness turned into bronchitis, which lasted until I finally went to the doctor for it at the end of March. Thus, all winter long I was not exercising. (I plan this winter to try to find a gym that will let me join for four months so my exercise is not weather-dependent in the winter.) In mid-April, I started exercising again, but could not get back into the routine of it. School was nearing an end. There were constant field trips (which I faithfully chaperoned having a daughter in Kindergarten), Science Fairs, Art Shows (I am the volunteer art teacher at my daughter’s school, grades K-8), etc. Not having an established routine, it was too easy to not establish one then. I managed to exercise enough to damage my ankles a little, though. I had encountered this injury before, but it got better, and then it happened again. My body does not like it when I run. I personally do not like to run, but walking does not seem like enough exercise, so on “walking days,” I tend to run a lot of the time, which ultimately messed up my ankles royally.

The ankle pain was actually debilitating. I should have gone to the doctor. (I should have gone to the doctor two years ago when I first noticed it.) I resisted because not all of my medical experiences in New Mexico have been worthwhile. I thought that they would tell me one of two things: 1) Deal with it, or 2) You need surgery. I was already dealing with it, and I had no interest in surgery. (Recovery time from surgery would mean an even longer period of no exercising which would fully derail my exercise momentum, etc.)

In late May, while in Missouri, I reinjured the ankle twice. The second time I was running in an emergency situation, barefooted, and actually crumpled on the ground because the pain was so bad. (Thankfully, the emergency fixed itself.)

After returning home, I reinjured it repeatedly, 2 or 3 times a week. It got to the point that I was falling a lot because the ankle was so weak. If I would step on something uneven, it was not strong enough to hold me up. It would hurt less to fall than to strain the ankle more. Each injury would mean about a day of basically no walking. I finally decided to go to the doctor before our trip at the end of July. I was going to be walking in a Convention Center (totally forgot about hiking), so I could not be worried about 2 or 3 bad injuries a week. I walk better on heels (which is what I wear at Conventions) because of the angle at which they put my foot, but a fall from heels is worse. So I went. My General Practitioner referred me to a podiatrist, but I could not get in until after my trip was over. But she gave me a splint that she thought would make it possible to hike while we were in Zion. It worked! (Obviously, if you are a regular reader, you have seen a few of the pictures.) We hiked about half of every day, and I had very little trouble. I could not believe how much difference having the stability of a splint made. It was then that I decided I had been a true idiot in not going to the doctor sooner.

old splint in Zion National Park

old splint in Zion National Park

The podiatrist gave me a different type of splint. It has a little bubble in the arch area that can be inflated to comfort level. This is a much better splint than the first, but it doesn’t work well with sandals at all.

So Monday I decided to try walking again for exercise. I had managed to hike half-a-day for three days in Zion (albeit at a 4-year-old’s pace). Surely I could do it here. I went on a level, shorter trail–a loop around our development that is two miles, and starts about 1/4 mile from my house. There are lots of places on this loop that I could cut it short if I was having trouble. I DID have trouble, but of course not until past the last short-cut. My ankle did not hurt, but this time it was my foot, because I use it differently due to the ankle injury. It was not horrible, just tired. The worst thing was that I forgot to take my camera.

new splint

new splint

Today I went again, and the foot was better. I remembered my camera and think I got some nice photos, but have not checked yet. It just feels so good to be actually moving around again. I really do not LOVE exercise, but I love how I feel when I do it. I cannot go tomorrow, but I will go again Friday, and if all goes well, I might try roller-blading next week. I cannot bike right now because the hitch on my bike trailer broke right at the beginning of this problem, and I need to shell out some big bucks for a new trailer. (Which I am willing to do because I use it a lot, and it is worth a lot to me, but I have not researched well enough what I want/need. The last one was only $99 at a resale sporting goods store. A lucky find.)

What is the point to this story? When I had bronchitis, I should have gone to the doctor sooner. I waited four months. After going I was cleared up in two weeks. When I hurt my ankle, I should have gone to the doctor. Even with just a splint, I would not have continued with new and repeated injuries. (I have to go back in a week to see what the next step is on the ankle. The splint is not a permanent fix.) I am all flabby and feeling less-than-perfect and have lost all my momentum, just because I did not want to go to the doctor. I am the opposite of a hypochondriac and never want to rush to the doctor at the slightest problem, but maybe there is some good ground in the middle somewhere.

Ya think?

by Louise Cannon