February 3, 2012

My dermatologist’s office

The office is very pretty and bright in SoHo. I hope I do not have to get a basal cell removed from my chest or face every Jan/Feb. This is the second year in a row. The carcinoma just looked like a pimple on my hairline. But again, the office and the neighborhood are very nice. So, that’s something.
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January 3, 2012

No Good Night Sleep

Started walking home last night, on Riverside Drive

For two nights in a row I’ve hardly slept at all. Last night started out well. I fell asleep at 10:30. But C. came into my bed at 11:15, calling, “Mom? Mom?” I blew my lid.

I hate yelling, but there I was, yelling, “Are you kidding me? I need a good night’s sleep! Unbelievable! Get back to bed!”

I believe in the future that yelling at children will be looked in the same way we look at hitting children nowadays — a relic of some misguided child-rearing dysfunction.

C. was just being a kid. She was teary. She was probably worried about returning to school after a couple weeks of Christmas vacay. I don’t know what was going on with her, because I didn’t listen. I had no compassion.

At 3 am, after tossing and turning, I tried to express my unhappiness to my husband but he was not as supportive as I needed.  He was watching the movie, Mean Bosses. The crazy-ness of his staying up all night (due to his Parkinson’s) contributed to my sleeplessness and, I believe, contributes to the family sleep dysfunction.

“I need a retreat at a convent,” I told my husband in the middle of the night.

I haven’t been writing much. I’m unhappy. “Maybe I should get on anti-depressants or go back to therapy,” I said.

“I know I should work out.” I tried to walk home last night, but it was too cold and I hopped on the bus when it pulled up beside me.

Happy New Year.

December 27, 2011

Can Cleaning Be Exercise?

broom by creative commons

I have updated one of my four blogs (about faithcreative writingNew York, or this one, fitness) at least every other day during 2011. When I began in January 2011, I posted every day for 66 days, because I’d heard that’s how long it takes to make a habit.

When I traveled or wrote my NaNoWriMo (November’s National Novel Writing month), I slacked a bit. But mostly I’ve been consistent with my blogging.

I need to retire a couple of my blogs and this one, Running Aground, is the lead candidate for retirement. This has been my least popular and least updated blog. Reading about my attempt to run a 5K may not have mass appeal. And I don’t write on this one because I think that if I haven’t exercised by swimming, running, or going to Pilates class, I haven’t worked out. (Although, yes, I’ve written about sleep and diet, as well.)

But wait — I clean a lot and, living in New York City, I walk a lot! So let’s remember — Cleaning is a good work out. In an hour, you burn:

  • Sweeping: 240
  • Packing/Unpacking: 220
  • Scrubbing floors on hands and knees: 325 (Who does this?)
  • Cleaning, light (dusting, wiping down counters, picking up clothes): 100
  • Cleaning, general (washing dishes, doing laundry): 200

according to a post by Divine Caroline (Brie Cadman).

This post is an attempt to encourage myself to believe in the power of the clean-up work out! Now, Mary Beth, get out there and clean! I have about an hour to unpack from our Chicago trip and pack for our Adirondacks trip, take down the Christmas tree, and generally tidy up this apartment where I’ve hosted four parties in one month!

There’s been a lot of stash and dash over the holidays. Now let’s burn some calories by cleaning. But wait, first, I have to update my Facebook status and check my friends’ news.

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December 11, 2011

Get Outside

My mother raised me following Dr. Spock’s advice that every child must spend at least two hours outdoors, no matter the weather. When my kids were babies, I tried to do this. I tried to “air them out,” as Mom would say, for at least one hour a day. Now that they’re preteens, it’s hard to pull them away from their computers and push them out the door.

“Direct sunshine contains ultraviolet rays, which create vitamin D right in the skin… Changes of air temperature are beneficial in toning up the body’s system for adapting to cold or heat. A bank clerk is much more likely to become chilled staying outdoors in winter than a lumberjack, who is used to such weather. Cool or cold air improves appetite, puts color in the cheeks, and gives more pep to humans of all ages. It’s good for a baby (like anyone else) to get outdoors for 2 to 3 hours a day (!), particularly during the season when the house is heated. … in the northeastern part of the United States, most conscientious parents take it for granted that babies and children should be outdoors 2 or 3 hours a day when it isn’t raining and the temperature isn’t far below freezing.” – Dr.  Spock.

A few months ago at the top of an Adirondack mountain.

I like that the outdoors “gives more pep.” Who doesn’t want more pep?

I must remember Dr. Spock’s admonishment on the occasional Saturday or Sunday when one of my darlings hangs out at home in front of the TV all fricken day.

I will ask her, “Have you gotten outside at all today?”

“No.” I will remind her of the scientific truth, Newton’s Law, that says a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

The National Wildlife Federation is bolstering my argument with their new campaign Be Out There. And there’s a ton of research that shows that a child who is connected to the wild is a healthier and happier child.

Hiking, family time, living an active life? This is What We Value. I would like to write more about this, but I have to wake the girls. It’s time for their basketball league, which interferes with church, but that’s a different story! Just for today in the battle between caring for the body and caring for the spirit, the body wins! (We may still get to church, but late!)

November 15, 2011

Pilates

My fitness app says an hour of Pilates burns 336 calories. I find that hard to believe. It doesn’t seem like I’m doing that much.

This is Jenn, our Monday and Thursday exercise teacher.

Yesterday, at our lunch time work out Jenn said, “You all seem so down, like I’m torturing you,” when we were doing the hundred.

Hey, who has a smile on their face on Monday at noon, trying to hold the plank position? I said, “On Thursday, we’ll be less downcast.”

Also, it cracks me up that we work out in a small conference room right next to the cafeteria kitchen. Constantly in class, we hear the servers and the cooks yelling directives at each other, usually they say, “I need more waffle fries. More fried chicken.” But yesterday, I heard, “I need more broccoli.”

During exercise class, I am often thinking about lunch and so, always open to suggestion,  I thought, “Yes, I need more broccoli too.”

Even though I’m not always happy during exercise class, I am always happy when I’m done with exercise class. Then I can eat guilt-free, (broccoli not waffle fries).

I especially like when I am done with yoga class. That’s when we bow to each other and say, “Namaste.”

November 4, 2011

Running on Marathon Weekend

I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, especially those sinew-y runner types getting all psyched up for Sunday’s marathon, but I ran today and I ran at a pace of 12:15 a mile. That’s right, beat that, suckers!

I am definitely in the slow lane. I don’t want to make excuses *much. But I have a foot problem… And I have other problems, but I can’t remember what they are at the moment, because I’m so dang exhausted and hungry for chocolate. But hey, I did it. I did something! I pushed myself away from the computer.

I ran with my friend, Liz, at a secret indoor track near work. And I’m not telling you where it is ’cause then it wouldn’t be secret.

Liz and I agreed that it’s way more fun to run with a friend and we wouldn’t have run without each other.

And I do LOVE going out with friends for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, etc., I also LOVE running and working out with friends. So anyone want to join me running someday? Then after our two and a half miles, you can sprint ahead of me like Liz did. That’s right. When you’re in the slow lane, you’re just happy to be in any lane at all.

All those people passing me? I celebrate them! I do! Especially all those runners I’ll see on Sunday afternoon, wearing silver blankets, looking fabulous and exhausted. I salute you!

Now, excuse me, I have to go and hunt for some Halloween chocolate. I think my kids still have some hidden somewhere.

October 6, 2011

an upturned tree

Up in the Adirondacks, Sunday morning, I was sipping coffee before my family woke up. I was crabby because I’d have to rally the troops, pack up, leave the country, return to the city, get ready for the week ahead. Even writing in my journal didn’t work the usual magic of lifting my mood.

So I went for a run. I watched the fitness app on my phone, noticing that I was still unable to run faster than a 13-minute mile. Yes, I was in the slow lane; my feet hurt. And I couldn’t get enough breath. I tired easily.

I ran for five minutes, then walked for a minute. Then did that again. The first part of the run was easy. I passed the school house. Then it was wet so I looped around the Cold Spring Road instead of going down to the Stable Inn. I began the walk up the rough-hewn stone steps to the Big House. That’s when I saw this upturned tree.

Hard to capture in a dark, rainy forest, but this wide swath of trees and roots were upturned by Hurricane Irene.

Un-be-liev-able! It took my breath away.

If some special effects geek tried to recreate this 10-foot circumference of a sideways forest floor, it would cost millions of dollars and people would never believe it. But nature did this outstanding damage free of charge. Nature is whack, doing crazy shit. Hurricane Irene must’ve tore up this part of the woods as she tore through Vermont and the Adirondacks a month ago.

I gave up running, walked up the steps back to the house, packed and woke the darlings. I wasn’t crabby any more.

For some reason the extraordinary sight of the upturned tree calmed me down.

Today people are contemplating Steve Jobs’ death. And I’m remembering the upturned tree.

We all will die. I will die. I am small. Whether my death comes by cancer like Steven Jobs, by hurricane like the forest floor, or my personal preference, by old age, I will die. Running away from my troubles on a dreary Sunday morning made me remember that. And it humbled me and made me less crabby.

September 15, 2011

yoga and my manic mind

At the end of yoga class today, when the lights were turned off and the meditative music was turned on, my mind did not automatically rest. I found myself composing Facebook status updates, mulling over possible writing topics, questioning my kids’ afterschool activities, on and on.

Today, in addition to the sound of slamming lunch trays in the adjacent cafeteria, I was also distracted by a baby crying right outside our class.

yoga class from creative commons

Jen, my teacher, said, “Breathe and repeat the word, ‘Inhale’ on your inhale and ‘Exhale’ on your exhale. This will help you block out the noise.”

At first, I didn’t mind the sound of the baby’s cry. Not too much. Until after a while. Then it was really irritating. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. “Will someone feed that child? Give her a binky!” Iwanted to yell.

The good thing about hearing a baby cry is that eventually the crying stops. Sweet relief. Thank you Jesus!

And eventually, my manic mind stopped fretting too. For a minute at the end of yoga, I drifted. Got silent. Like the baby, I descended into a place of contentment. It was really nice.

I forgave myself and everyone for everything. I felt only love for the whole wide world, even, and especially, that crying baby.

September 10, 2011

Why I Couldn’t Sleep Last Night

I tossed and turned, my sheets wrapping around me and my melancholy.

I’ve said it before, Mommy needs a good night’s sleep. And last night it just wasn’t happening.

Here are some reasons:

  • I had worries about getting up early to buy and deliver breakfast to 22 kids at the church lock-in at 7 this morning.
  • I do too much.
  • Chris, my husband, is returning home tomorrow after a couple of weeks of being away. It’s an adjustment.
  • I am worried about the expense and commitment of getting Chris help with daily tasks of living for his Parkinson’s Disease.
  • It’s 9/11 weekend. It’s depressing.
  • I’m not exercising much, because of my foot pain.
  • I’ve focused too much on the kids and establishing their back-to-school routine.
  • My bedroom is too hot; the air conditioner is too loud.
  • I went to a MeetUp last night for writers who perform; had a couple of beers. Felt a little jazzed.
  • I did not write much.
  • I have anxiety about work and the possible downsizing of our agency.

I guess that’s enough. I finished Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz yesterday. I so identified with his discovery that we are open to forgive and love other people way more than we accept ourselves. The point of everything, every encounter — even our encounters with ourselves in the middle of the night — is love.

That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing.

This is tough. I have to find a way to love and forgive everybody, including myself; I need more help. Some problems can be resolved with more help and more love, and some with healthier behaviors. Here’s how I answer myself on last night’s worries:

  • I had to take one of the girls to the pediatrician's office for her ear infection. This was in the waiting room. My thoughts, like cogs, go round and round.

    You delivered the breakfast.

  • You like being busy. Being busy and happy pays off.
  • You’ll adjust to Chris’s return. You have your own travel plans.
  • Just spend the money to get Chris help.
  • This weekend will pass.
  • Exercise any way. Swim. Bike. Run. Do yoga. Do physical therapy for foot.
  • The kids are doing great.
  • Leave the air conditioner on.
  • Decompress with a book or herbal tea, not a beer.
  • Write more.
  • Let go of the work worries; there’s nothing to be done about them any way.

Writing all this has helped. I need more coffee. Maybe later, I can sneak in a nap. (Or exercise.)

August 24, 2011

Sink or Swim

A week ago my youngest brother and I were in a boat on Lake Champlain.

I asked my niece, the driver, to slow down and drop us in the middle of the lake. My brother and I could swim ashore. I love the sink or swim mentality. I’ve never been on an Outward Bound excursion, but sometimes I think my life is an Outward Bound adventure. Before we even took a moment to rethink what we were doing and if we could do it, we dove in. The boat sped away.

I love the urgency and immediacy of putting  myself in a pressure cooker and seeing if I can handle it. This is probably why I’m always running late. I love the adrenaline rush of making the train just as it’s about to pull away. (I know, I know, there are many people in my life for whom this style of operating does not work!)

Back on shore, we couldn’t decide how many miles we swam.

Yesterday I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in my office building. I am excited for the fall to start and the kids to get back in school (Kids, how are those summer reading assignments going? Not so good? Get reading!) so I can go back to daily fitness and healthy eating.

Maybe I will actually implement a healthy daily routine and not have to put myself in pressured situations in order to make it to shore.

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