Expectations, or how Joy keeps putting on her Angy Eyes

 Sometimes life is a joyful burst of running on a spring path, sometimes life is more like being the fat girl in sweats running on a treadmill between glowing lithe blondes at a popular gym. Sometimes life is all about lessons and perseverance and just remembering to keep moving.

So this morning I get up early even though my body says sleep, skip the quiet meditation because time is of the essence, eat my oatmeal, dress for the pool, care for the dogs and head out the door. It is a 20 minute drive to my DIL and the pool. DIL is sleeping in and I will be doing this mornings practice on my own. I quietly slip in her house, acquire the pool key and head to the pool. I am feeling quite good about myself at this point, I have visualized the whole face/water thing while falling asleep and again while waking up, so I know its my break through session.

Only the pool is locked up. Apparently on Saturday and Sunday, it doesn’t open until eight. I don’t know if this is a new rule, or one I have just missed somehow. I am very frustrated. I asked and was given the change in time so I could train, but this means I work an hour later as well so coming back tonight is out of the question. My job as a nurse and the family I serve comes first. So here is where the little voice in my head kicks in, the one that echoes so many other voices.

"You’re just pushing yourself too hard. You really can’t do this. Go back home, get ready for work and just let go of this stupid fantasy of ever being a triathlete. You are too old, too fat, too poor and too busy."
Actually no one person ever says all of that themselves, but my evil mind voice manages the edit easily.
Speaking of mind voices, the one thing that makes all of this morning bearable,  including moments of warm smiles and out loud guffaws, is listening to "Just a Geek" by Wil Wheaton. Yup, that once SNG teen idol turned writer/comedienne who is, again, acting. i read his and Jon Scalzi’s blogs in my Joanne Jefferson days, but left them behind with many other Geektivities when I exited that bad Mary Higgins Clarke written marriage. I re-found them thanks to my friend Sara. Listening to this book of that time, feels like Wil describes he felt upon rewearing the Star Trek uniform. That is one of the things Wil is good at, describing his anything but ordinary life in a way that makes it relatable, probably because he sees himself as the ordinary man. He also names his mind voices. Maybe I should name mine?
Anyway I am off to work. Plan to come back to this later tonight as I have two more topics – one to do with nutrition and other peoples expectations and the other to do with a recently resurfaced memory of my one attempt at real athletics as a child.
 Crap. Just finished a beautiful and well written update to this blog about letting go expectations and overcoming frustration and a "blip" in the site lost it. LOL. So this is it. I went to train tonight and it was awesome, in spite of a pool full of loud teenagers.


The Karmic End to my Straight Talk Phone account

Absolutely, defininely, and enormously  THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE  EVER!!!!!!!! 

I am really done, as of tonight, with this company.  Five months and they still haven’t fixed their zip code glitch so I cannot purchase air time without going to a Walmart. And then the sales people just pass you around asking the exact same questions again and again and again!

It was the price that got me, and the price that held me, even has i hated myself for purchasing outside my ethical boundaries. So bonus, no more sacrificing my ethics to save money. I still have a landline for now and will figure the rest out later.

Right now I need to go to sleep because I am going to go practice my swimming at 6 AM tomorrow for the Triathlon this blog is supposed to be about…….
One final note,
No matter how cheap Straight Talk is, DO NOT be sucked in! In the old "you get what you pay for adage"  it is in every bad way the cheapest service out there.
On a positive note, I will no longer have any reason at all to ever step into a WalMart again, THAT is an awesome bonus!

As of midnight tonite I will not have an active cell phone. If I did not need one for work, I wouldn’t care about its loss. Can’t solve it by complaining. Must sleep now anyway.

So good-night. Promise some real training blogs again shortly! 

Week 2 of the SOF triath training…

 So Now I am a 229.1 lb, 50 , non-athletically gifted woman in her second week of training as a SOFT  (Slow, Old, Fat) triathlete who did A LOT of swimming today. (I really believe at this point that with his direction I will in October swim 400 yds, bike 11 miles and run 5K)

Today was face in water and learning to breath; or that was the next step the ever inspiring and patient Phil (I really believe at this point that with his direction I can complete in October  swimming 400 yds, biking 11 miles and running 5K) was trying to teach. Dawn, my DIL, seemed to get it fairly quickly. She also DID NOT (as far as I know) throw up after training today. I, on the other hand, wanted to either cry or throw up after training. Not mind you because of physical exertion but due to my own unreasonable fear response. I seem to have more fears, rather than less, as I age.

I was pretty fearless when I was young. My courage flirted regularly with stupidity. Now I am prone to something akin to panic attacks when I attempt certain tasks. Two of those tasks include riding a bycicle, and swimming with my face under water.Let me clarify that, I can swim with my face in water holding my breath, it is only when I begin to blow out all my precious breath that some switch clicks off in my head like a loud, annoying car alarm and I just HAVE to life my head out of the water. Bicycles are great places to sit until I have to lift my feet off the ground and try and pedal and balance. So yea, bikes and swimming, my foolish phobias.
Which is clearly why a Triathlon is perfect for me, because swimming and biking really look fun when other people do them, and the best fear is the one we have faced and friended. 
Local friends reactions to my new goal vary from in-credulousness to comments about my sanity or pushing myself too hard, and that is just the comments they have spoken to my face. My sons, my DIL, and a couple of my inner circle women friends are supportive, if not convinced I will follow through, which is OK.  I have moments where I also wonder if I am crazy, pushing myself too hard, or going to derail onto some other tangent. This is why I started the blog to reduce the back doors out of accomplishing something on my bucket list for a long time.
I made progress. At first I could not breathe out at all. By the  I did manage kick-off and stroke five times while breathing out, take air, stoke again three times but just as I began to breathe out that time I gave in to my fear. OK. I am gonna call it a blog even though its sketchy. My sprouted mung beans with rice with steamed yams and cabbage.

Brevity is the soul of wit

 So on this night I will be short. 

DIL’s schedule meant a late start for training so no walk or the pool would be closed.

 Swam my laps, then jogged in water four more laps, 10 push-offs made exceedingly lame by a water in the nose problem tonite. I see a nose clip in my future.

Home now, dead tired. 

Tomorrow is a new day.

Writer’s Block: The long and short of it

Time is only a perception, so it is on this perception, not page count, I will answer this prompt.
The longest book I ever read was Ulysses by James Joyce. It was a "new" edition and was a required review inclusion for my column, so its heft was emphasized by time constraint. I remember that I started my review with the statement "There are two kinds of people in the literary world, those who will tell you they have read James Joyce "Ulysses" in its entirety with relish, and those who prefer truth to pretension."  I appreciated its art, its shock value and Joyce’s talent but truly felt much of the praise given to the tome reeked of  "the Emperor’s New Clothes" syndrome, right down to the intricate and intimate level Joyce’s inner neurosis were nakedly dangled in our faces. Someday I may read it again,just to see if my opinion has changed.

The shortest is tough, but recent  books that were devoured so quickly I only wished for more deliciousness and therefore had to re-read and savor again and again are James Owen’s "Here There Be Dragons", Claudia Emerson’s "late wife",  and most recently a collection called "Bordertown", in particular the final story by Charles de Lint.

Practice, practice, practice

      Just finished my favorite home made treat, a fresh dry foam cappa-latte. As anyone who has accompanied me to a coffee establishment once we are real friends knows, I have a certain and non-traditional way of taking my espresso draught. First, the shots must be drawn from freshly ground organic, free trade, unburnt dark roast beans and produce a respectable crema, then I like my foam dry and abundant with just the slightest lightening of the delicious black sea beneath it. Hard to get todays barristas, conditioned as they are to the Starbucks style coffee creations, to execute my requests. Especially when you add to that, my desire for Organic soymilk as the foaming medium. At home I am able to pull it off almost effortlessly. 

     Why? Because I have lots of practice. The barristas do well at what they know. I don’t want a fast food coffee, or its equivalent life. The universe is offering this wisdom. "Enough practice makes anything do-able, and nothing is what we expect, so expect nothing."

     That is my object koan this morning, as I stretch my sore hands by rolling my oranges for juice and stand on toes while stamping my grounds to brew the perfect cuppa. It is unexpected that the sorest parts of my body today are my hands and feet and calves. Last night when I was trying, barely successfully, to pull myself into my DIL’s lifted jeep and laughing to keep from bursting into frustrated tears at my ineptness, I was sure it would be my quad’s that would give me trouble. Last night they were fatigue trembly. Today, nary an ache, okay maybe just a little tenderness near the knee.

      I walked 5K and swam four laps(200 yds) with my splashboard, did 10 pushoffs and backstroked back from each pushoff (about 10 yds each). And this was after my third shift. I went to bed about 2230 and I was up this morning, needless to say, much past the morning cool, so no dog walk till tonight. Plan to go back and swim again tomorrow morning. Tonight at sundown, my canines and I will have a nice stroll, maybe break into a trot if Dr. Vogel gives the go ahead.
     Back to the lesson, the koan of practice versus immediate achievement and its sister nonattachment to expectation. 
      The need for practice without expectation was what I most noticed about last night. My son, even with only one good leg, made the lengths of the pool look so easy as his arms sliced throught the water, and my DIL is more an otter than she gives herself credit. My first instinct was to compare and compete, not to listen and admire, as they both offered much needed and good advice on how to improve my performance. I actively chose to listen, although even with this came frustration as the muscles and body refused to carry out the brains planned commands.
               "Compared to them," the Ego whispered in my head, "I am old, fat and weak. This is stupid and impossible, and what’s with your children telling YOU how to do something, I’m the Mom, and it’s not like they listen to me anyway!"
              "First, this is your idea, they are joining you in something important to you, you asked them to support you, " my Authentic Self replied, "and they are better at this than you.  However, this activity is about progress and fun, not competition, and when comparing myself to myself, I see improvement in less than a week, So instead of feeling inadequate, ego, or resentful I am just grateful for the inspiring company and I am going to continue to listen, and continue to practice and focus on a great way this is to spend time with people I love."  My Authentic self is long winded.

Then the ego and The Authentic Self both had to shut up because all energy was focused on completing the last lap. In that way, swimming is like meditation for me. The conversation in my head has to shut up!

FYI. The two day break in blogging will be my weekly norm, as long as I am on this work schedule. I love my job and the family that I work for, and they get first dibs on my weekend energies. I will be back later to finish the log, as I am just beginning my day.
Borin’ Log Part for Monday
0830 Wake Up and let dogs out. Meditation on Gratitude from Meditation Oasis
0900 Computer and Coffee (double shot espresso, 1 cup Organic Soymilk, 1 T local honey)
0930 8 ozs fresh squeezed OJ, multivitamin, 81 mg aspirin
1000 phonecalls, dustmopping floor (movement, not exercise, LOL), random picking up and put in a load of laundry
1200 Lunch of Progresso Vegetable Soup and a toasted cheese sandwich, Off to pick up meds, also Dr. apt.
1500 Best part of today – my apt at Back-Fit so I can become better adjusted…(massage and chiro)
1700 Visit Sara, receive way awesomest B-day present EVER! (Very early but I wouldn’t have been able to wait either!)
            Ate one apple
1900 Walked dog. Only 0.5 miles tonight. Really feeling drained of energy and achy tonite. Made plate of organic black beans, guacamole, cheese, and organic corn and flax chips with organic salsa. Drank water
2000 Watched 2 episodes of 60’s comedy (they last 26-28 minutes compared to a modern 20-22 minute episode)
2100 Cleaned house haphazardly. Stretches and then to bed!
Over all a kinda non-training day again except for the little things like parking on the far end of the lot at all my appointments and not succumbing to junk food or snack attacks. I really want a pedometer to be able to measure my walking, etc. I have to work my training into my life so keeping track of steps taken would be something
2200 Sleep.  

Day after..

 Day two of any new relationship is always the interesting day. Morning after is that place where reality shears off from rosy dreams and commitments can become more solid or begin evaporating like the small ring of dark beer at the bottom of a glass. 

My day two of my date with destiny was complicated by it being a work day. I love my job but the hours are not conducive to me doing more than meditating, working, driving and sleeping. It was also a payday, so I got to start the day off trying to find where I am going to squeeze out not just the $1000 for chiropractic treatments and massage, but $200 for my trainer and another $400 for shoes, bike with training wheels (have I mentioned before I do not know how to ride a bike?)  Now I can add to the voices in my head telling me I am too fat and old to even consider this, another voice telling me I can’t afford it.

Well here is the facts little voice, I am not too old, not to anything. And I am going to make this work. I am going to do that triathlon and I am going to continue to take what ever measures are available to me to be healthier and pain free. 
Speaking of pain free, thanks to the treatments at Backfit I have taken no Tylenol in the last 24 hours,  I did an entire shift with my patients without pain. Well, I am actually having some discomfort. The calves of my legs and my upper arms are all saying, "Hey, we had some unfamiliar exercise yesterday!" But none of that burning, tingling back and leg pain and no throbbing headeache, this is the good kind of building more muscle kind of ache.
Need to sleep soon cause I am taking the dogs early in the morning for a walk/jog, just their usual, nothing special. I have to save up energy for two more shifts. Then Sunday night I will be walking 5K and doing my swimming homework.
So what did I do different today, to show I am still in this relationship? I didn’t eat when I got home. I come in the door about 2000, and customarily do some inappropriate carb loading, tonight I am Sipping some herb tea only.
So here is the boring log:
0430 Guided Meditation from the Meditation Podcast "Positive Thoughts"; back stretches
0500 Budget time and bill paying
0530 Coffee with honey and organic half and half, (forgot to measure) and 6 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
          Make lunch for work
          Putz around and play with dogs, do meds for them and food and water
0630 Fruit smoothie from 8 oz frozen mixed berries, 1 scoop vegan soy powder, 8 oz water
          Get ready for work
0715 Leave for work
0800 Arrive work.
1030 Neck stretches. Organic Peanut Butter (2T), Power Ranch Farmers Market Strawberry Rhubard preserves (2T) on two pieces Sara Lee                         45 calorie Whole Grain Delight
1230 2 cups raw zucchini, cabbage mix with tomato, pepitas (2 T), dried cranberries (1T) dressed with Bragg’s Amino acids, olive oil and                  cider vinegar.
1430 Mrs Mays blueberry pomegranate bar
1630 Organic Vegan Brown Rice Crispie treat
1830 Vegan bologna, slice cheddar on 2 pieces Sara Lee 45 Calorie Whole Grain Delight.
1900 Off work
2000 Finally home Drinking herb tea. Blogging
2100 Asleep.
This probably has need of editing but too tired to try.

The unexpected stretch

This blog is itself a stretch. It is unlike any other blog I have ever kept, or any other public writing (both personal or professional) I have ever done.

 For a while here this blog will host little poetry and few reviews. This blog will be about about stretching. Not about the Yoga stretching I have done all my life. (I think sometimes I keep doing it just cause my ego loves watching people’s reaction when an mature woman of my size can completely touch her toes). Nor  will it be about the stretching after a workout to keep muscles from tightening and tearing, although both of those stretches will be involved. Today’s blog is about stretching my "self", that thing below the ego self that has always embraced the easy ways, and only chosen to continue the things at which I was good. It is about pushing aside the self that avoided embarrassment and possible failure, and secretly still fears being ridiculed, and stretching the real "me" that loves to move, and run, and dance and play. 
This blog, and I don’t know how many in the future, are about identifying and publicly displaying the one area with which I am least comfortable. I will talk honestly about my experiments in the one skill set that has caused me the most embarrassment while I develop the one talent package I was least gifted with at birth. 
Today I am a 234 pound woman, over the age of 50 (no I am still not telling my age, over 50 is enough information and accurate info is hard to come by ;)), who is coordination challenged, barely makes ends wave, let alone meet, with a medical Sword of Damocles hanging over her head, and so today, I started training as a triathlete.
Yea, makes me wonder if I am crazy, too.

When I was growing up there were two kinds of people, athletes and non-athletes; those who got chosen for teams, and those like me who were only chosen to help people on those teams pass academic tests so they could play on those teams. My nicknames were "Claudia Klutz and Lydia Lump Lump", and those were the kind ones from my own family. The names called me by children had a lot to do with mispronunciation of my name and the fact that my center of gravity is large and located to the rear.  In a protective reaction I internally dubbed all sports stupid (except baseball but that is a whole different blog) and all sports participants my mental inferior.  I was just "too smart" to be part of that whole sweaty Jock jive through my teens and twenties. Then as my peer group moved from football and cheer-leading to Aerobics, Gyms and Spin class I was "too enlightened" to ever participate in the perfect body competitions. 

I will add that I was not a couch potato. In my late teens when I joined the millitary, women were just crossing the gender lines and I was the first woman to graduate as a Machinist Mate 3rd Class (Honor Graduate, of course). My military service did require me to pass PT tests and I lifted weights with some Marines so I could open, close, dismantle and repack some might large valves. I also swam (without any lessons or form) enough to pass the requirements, learned to jump out of planes (with a parachute), hiked with full pack, etc. I was never the best, in fact often the third or fourth worst in my unit, but since I was smart and not "the" worst, I survived without much harassment. I also will admit I liked the feeling of running, swimming, etc. But I never did it where someone could see, and probably laugh. 
Before the military I also took some dance and some fencing classes, all related to stage work I was doing. In these I was also never "good", but not the worst. Mostly not noticed, and I would do just the amount I needed to do to get the part, the certificate, the whatever…but most of the time I was mostly focused on not looking to stupid or klutzy, and after most of these classes I would go home and throw up from the stress and the strain.
I have always done yoga but as part of my private meditation practice. Again, I love yoga, just like I love swimming and running, but I do it poorly. I have been so embarrassed when I have attended a class, I have always dropped out of them after a few weeks.
No dropping out this time. That is part of keeping this blog. Knowing the enemy is a critical part of any campaign, and where sports are concerned, I am my own worst enemy. Telling others my commitment is what kept me "at it" to complete the 5K. And that was a lot less public,
I will complete a triathalon. I will face my fear of looking foolish, and stretch that authentic me that hides behind my gigantic joking ego, and most likely have a lot of fun and get some good stories doing it while also improving my odds of dodging that sword when it falls again.
I am not at all sure what directions this blog will take, but for now it is not about poetry or reviews. Unless mentioning that I found my awesome new trainer at Back-Fit is considered a review. If it is, then consider this a rave review of Back-Fit.  Through massage, exercise and adjustments my constant neck and back pain (and co- fatigue) has been brought down to intermittent bouts of discomfort and aha moments of "Wow, I was really in that much pain?" thanks to my care at Back-fit. Also thanks to going there I found a trainer willing to take this slow, fat non-athlete who has never had a swimming lesson, never ridden a bike and has never run more than a 5K and coach her into a (probably still slow and fat, but thinner and faster) tri-athlete. I am also very excited and honored to be joined in this adventure by my already much thinner and faster daughter-in-law. My goal first race is http://www.active.com/triathlon/mesa-az/the-city-of-mesa-iron-gear-sports-h…, the mini of course
Things to do…get goggles, kickboard, practice, practice, practice….
So here is the boring log part of my blog, a daily record of how I use my time, what I eat, what training I do, which some days may be all I got, but today is just the end tag of a whole lot of talking and refelecting.
Meditate: 30 Minutes with Meditation Oasis podcast "Peace"
Breakfast: 0515  
                      12 oz brewed organic coffee
                      1 T local mesquite honey
                       2 T Organic Half and Half
                       1 package Kirkland Cinnamon Roll flavored Organic Instant Oatmeal
                        8 ozs Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
                         1 multivitamin
                          81 mg aspirin
Training: 10 push-offs side of pool
                    4 laps
Lunch: 0930
              1 Pumpkin Waffle
               2 eggs fried.
               32 ozs lemon water
I.75 hours at computer

Out to run errands. Driving, Parked away from places we needed to go into (partly for shade, partly for exercise) so some walking. 32 more ounces of water. 32 ounces of unsweetened Green Tea.
Chiropractic appointment and some stretching for back and neck PT

Dinner with friends at Sweet Tomatoes. HUGE freakin’ amount of raw veggies with a few caramelized walnuts, some sunflower seeds, 1 scoop of the Strawberry vinaigrette, 1 scoop of the Fat Free Ranch, a small sweet potato, one strawberry muffin, small portion of sugar-free strawberry mousse, strawberry lemonade to drink with LOTS of ice to let it water down (too sweet but tasty) and one warm chocolate chip cookie. Waaaaaay to many simple carbs in the dinner but good vitamins and fiber but YUM! Also quite sure I exceeded my days calories. Still I feel good about today.

Home at 1930. Dog care (teeth, ears, meds, water, food; too late for a walk tonight)
I have checked to see that I have a uniform ready. Time to do my  bedtime yoga and meditate again, then back stretches and into bed. Asleep by 2030.