Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy New (School) Year

I do NOT make New Year’s Resolutions! In January, I am so proud of myself for having survived the holidays that the idea of pumping up some fabulous plan for the year disheartens me. I am always trying to do better in every area of my life, so what is the point? That said, I DO feel a special kind of energy as the new school year approaches. I haven’t been headed back to school in the fall since 1995 when I started my Licensed Practical Nursing program. And I haven’t sent a child back to school since……hmmm, can’t remember, oh well, a long time! But, every year in mid-August, I start to STIR internally. I want a new backpack full of pencils and spiral notebooks, post it notes, and colored pens, highlighters, crayons, chalk, 3x5 cards (white and colored!), and a 3 ring binder…… I want to go shopping for new shoes, and a great sweater, and a plaid skirt (sorry, but I really do want a plaid skirt)! I want to get my hair cut, and write out a schedule, and get a stack of books, and meet new people, and write a report! SO! How do I fit all of this energy into my “not going back to school” life? Well, I can still get the stack of books! I LOVE the library, she is one of my best friends! I have projects to work on! I have toyed with learning new languages. I can passably understand French (at least I did OK with the menu at the patisserie in Strasbourg during my Summer trip there [pats self on back] and I have picked up some Spanish words. My exposure to German, and learning to decipher food labels, (my favorite German word is geschmack/flavor) and menus, and road signs has made me feel like I really DO have an affinity for languages! So why not appreciate this gift and help myself LEARN those languages. I already have the Learn French CDs so I can really get going on that one. I have French and Spanish dictionaries, just need to get one in German! My house and garden are in SERIOUS need of attention! I love my house, but everything that has ever entered its doors has remained! PURGE! What is all that stuff in those bathroom cabinets??? Why do I have all that old stuff in my kitchen cabinets? Can’t three quarters of the stuff on the shelves in the garage go away? Sewing Room??? Don’t even get me started! I am so excited to get in there and put our home and garden to the best use. Project, Project, Project! I look forward to a happier more welcoming home. Weed out that front walkway, weed out those crazy lavender bushes gone WILD, plant some beautiful Autumn flower planters, put river rocks under our porches. Fall food is another project I love. Menus, recipes, cook books, new ingredients, farmer’s markets, pretty dishes! I like to eat really healthy food! I DO NOT like to be on a diet! No, no, no! Joie de Vivre has been my motto for a long time! Goodness for me and my family and my friends. More of the good stuff is my way of planning our food. I like the attitude of enjoying food without guilt because what I choose is so good for me and my family. Sometimes, I see recipes or restaurant offerings, and I think, “I wish I could have that” and then I remember, I CAN! I just have to figure out how to make it! The library and the internet really help me with this project. Back in the day, when I got my school schedule and it said one of my classes would take place in the girl’s gym, I wanted to cry! YUK! I hated gym. Unlike other girls, I LIKED the gym uniform, navy shorts and a white t-shirt, it was really comfy and I liked my tennis shoes. My comfy uniform was the ONLY thing I liked about gym. Now, a hundred years later, I have found my nitch in the gym! Stationary bike, free weight lifting, machine weights (my favorite exercise is squat/row) and the reward and happiest place at the gym is water aerobics, and lap swimming in the POOL!!! I play music, listen to books and even have a workout program I listen to at the gym. Who would have thought I would ever ENJOY gym class? So as fall approaches and summer winds down, I renew my determination to improve my health and physical abilities at the gym. Grand baby number 14 will arrive this Fall! I can’t wait to meet little Austin. He will be the next in the line of treasures in my life. I love my grandchildren. No! I mean I LOVE them with all my heart. Each one brings joy to me every time I see them or hear about them. I want to be the best grandmother for them. I thinks, and plot, and plan ways to show my love for them. I don’t give them a lot of stuff, but I try to listen to them and let them know they are my very most important people. As their numbers grow, I find I have as much love for the next as I do for the first. Just like when I was raising my own children, I wondered how I could love another child as much as I loved the ones I already had, but love grows and there is never a short supply. My birthday comes in the Autumn, and I look forward to celebrating another year of my life. I am very happy. I have struggles, trials, and disappointments, but mostly I am content. I know that God is in His Heaven and that He is my Father. I know that He watches over me. He inspires me and blesses me every day. He gives me wonderful gifts. I have so many resources available to me. I try to share. I try to be aware of what He would have me do, and I try to do it. This brings me great joy. So as the new school year approaches, I make my resolutions to live, to love, to give, to enjoy, to clean out, to weed out, to reach out, to stretch, and to see the world for the wonderful place that it is. Join me in this Joie de Vivre! Happy New (School) Year!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Food Glorious Food/I Don't Wanna Go On a Diet

Last December I decided to dedicate a year to my own health and fitness. I did jump into a daily exercise routine. I did NOT want to go on a diet! I've done it a bunch of times, and it does not work for me and from what I've heard it doesn't work for MOST people. So, NO diet for me! I love food. I love to read cookbooks, follow food blogs, go to restaurants, and COOK! I am not going to subsist on carrot sticks and lettuce leaves. It's just not going to happen. I am also not going to go hungry. So that said, I did decide I wanted to be more mindful of my food.

I hear you saying "Wow, Erin Rose, you lost 30 pounds last year, imagine what you might have lost if you had gone on a DIET!" Well, yes, I may have lost more than 30 pounds, or I may have thrown a temper tantrum and skipped the whole thing. I do not do well with feeling deprived. I get depressed and feel crabby. Gimmicks and forbidden foods just bug me. I just wanted to eat good food and enjoy cooking for my family and feeling great. So I decided to eat birthday cake at every family birthday, wedding and on my anniversary. Have you met my family? We have a lot of birthdays. I also keep chocolate in the top of my closet and I eat some almost every day.

Treats. Yes, treats! I love cookies, cake, brownies, the new cupcake craze, ice cream, and I'll eat a donut if I have to, but they are not my favorite, well chocolate cake donuts with chocolate icing, OK, I could eat 4 of those. So healthy casseroles aside, I could definitely adjust my diet.....a little. I decided to save treats for special occasions, except for my little chocolate bites.

I raised my family on a diet of homemade soups, casseroles, whole wheat muffins, veggies and a huge stainless steel bread mixing bowl of fresh fruit on the dining room table. So I started with a stable background. However I did get to 222 pounds somehow so..... I decided to take the good in my food world and build on it.

I'm really good at eating fruit. Next year I plan to keep a chart of my apple consumption. I bet I ate 1000 apples during 2011! I usually eat 2-3 a day. I am NOT so good at eating vegetables, so I decided to start there. I love most veggies, but I'm kinda picky about them. I like salads someone else made. My own salads? I don't know, not so great. I like a few raw veggies, but do you get that weird burning feeling on your tongue if you eat too many? I do. I keep lots of frozen veggies in the freezer and they are by far, my best fall back item. I would love to cook fresh vegetables every day, but I leave for work at 7:00 AM, and what with the gym and all, I usually get home at 8:30 or 9:00 PM. It's a long day without much time to cook. My best strategy is to cook lots on the weekend and eat leftovers. It works pretty well.

I adjusted a few things. Sometimes I drive through McDonald's when there's no other option. I used to order a double cheeseburger (no ketchup) with a chocolate shake or a Sprite or both (a girl gets thirsty you know)! Now I order a classic grilled chicken sandwich with no sauce, and an ice water (or two). If I'm going straight home or can sit down, I get the side salad (or two!) with the Newman's Own balsamic vinaigrette. If I get the salad, I drizzle a little of the salad dressing onto the chicken sandwich bun. One packet of salad dressing is enough for 4 salads. The chicken sandwich is a lot more expensive than the burger, but the salad is 99 cents and the water is FREE!

I knew I needed to increase my veggies so who better to ask than the vegetarians. King County Library System has many, many, vegetarian lifestyle and cookbooks. I have gleaned so much good info from them and one book leads to the next as they tend to mention their favorites. I've even bought a few books.

Now for the heresy. I think I know more than all the doctors, dieticians and health gurus. I know, I know, I don't have a big degree and I'm a fattie, but deep down I know I'm right. I may have to eat my words when I stop losing weight and balloon up to 350 pounds, but until then I think I'm right. I believe, to be healthy and to lose weight, you have to eat! No starvation, no going hungry, no counting calories or points, and no restrictions. Just sensible eating. That's it! That's my plan.

So this is what I choose to eat. Lots of fruits and vegetables, a little meat, whole grains, fairly low fat, fairly low sugar, and treats on special occasions. Pretty simple, no big deal. I do need inspiration to figure out what to eat. Who wants a pile of broccoli next to a hunk of chicken breast and a scoop of brown rice? I take Vegetarian Times magazine, I have several year's worth of Eating Well magazine, I have several vegetarian cookbooks (my best one is Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites) and I check out two or three or five or eight cookbooks at a time from the library. I follow a couple of food blogs, notably 101 cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.

I love to eat out, but time and money prohibit all but special occasion dinners out. Thank goodness the menus of restaurants are online. Poppy! Have I mentioned Poppy at the North end of Broadway in Seattle? Yeah, I am in love with Poppy. Please go check out Jerry Traunfeld's (formerly the chef at the Herbfarm in Woodinville) menu. Oh my, oh my! The 10 item thali is inspiring. The whole idea is 9 little dishes, a few bites each with a big Naan (flatbread). I LOVE to copy restaurant meals. I can't usually produce 10 dishes on a particular day, but I can produce a colorful plate with 3-5 delicious veggie dishes next to a casserole or grilled meat. Voila! Poppy, it is not, but using yummy flavors makes a little more interest on my plate. I call it Copy from Poppy, cute huh?

Preamble complete.

The yummy stuff:
Roasted beets with spiced croutons (Copy from Poppy)
Steamed broccoli or asparagus with lemon zest
Microwaved or roasted whole sweet potato with black beans and salsa
Roasted whole onion with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and honey
Steamed spiced carrots(cinnamon,cumin, and orange)
Mustard carrots with dill
Steamed potatos with green beans, tomatos and garlic
Garbanzos, spinach, garlic and parmesan
Orzo with green herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, and of course garlic with a little olive oil)
Spinach Gratin (Copy from Poppy) they use Swiss Chard
Curried potato, cabbage and garbanzos in a tortilla
Frozen corn tossed with garlic and chili powder

And then there are the soups:
SPLIT PEA!!! (my ultimate favorite)
Lentil with Isernios chicken Italian sausage
Minestrone (tomato based soup with a few veggies but always a green, a bean and a pasta)
Butternut squash creamy soup

There you go. A casserole, a soup and a couple of veggie dishes in the fridge and a bunch of apples, oranges, grapes (I don't eat bananas!) and I am set for the week. What do you think? Am I on a diet? I guess anyone who eats is on a diet, but I don't feel restricted. It's been working for me!

Erin Rose: Out of Her comfort Zone and Into the Gyms

So, here I am, eight months after my last blog post, and ready to put in my annual report. First of all, I have to say that I am very proud of the fact that at the one year mark of my fitness journey,there IS a one year mark! I didn't quit when it got hard (or harder)! I began December 28th of 2010 and here it is December 26th 2011. Will any of you be offended if I use an exclamation point at the end of every sentence? Because that's how I feel, exclamatory.

You all know what I said I was going to do and I did it for a whole year.
*I went to the gym.
*I worked two days a week with a trainer.
*I did water aerobics three days a week until July (more about that later).
*I worked out on my own in between trainer sessions.
*I modified my diet.

The result is I lost 30 pounds!!! I sleep like a rock! I breathe while I'm sleeping (novel idea!) I have noticeable muscles! My house is a lot messier. (No exclamation point for that last one!)

I began with trepidation and finished the year feeling confident, happy and hopeful for the future. I walked into LA Fitness last year all bundled up in my big size
3X coat feeling frumpy, dumpy and scared. What business did I have going in there with all those body builders, weight trainers and skinny little girls? I really thought I would just go use the pool and maybe join their water aerobics class. I got talked into signing up for a year of personal training. Oh man, was that scary. I pictured Jillian Michaels screaming at me as I dripped sweat.

Instead, I got Theresa, a long lean, soft spoken young woman who worked with disabled children at school during the day, and did personal training at the gym a few nights a week. Theresa gently walked me through the gym experience. She pushed me every week and showed me how to use various equipment. On our first day together, I asked her the difference between success and failure in the fitness realm. She told me that people who make a plan, put it on their calendar and don't let anything interfere with it are successful. I decided I would be that person. I mapped out my week.

Monday: Stationary Bike at 6:30 PM, Personal Training @ 7:00 PM
Tuesday: Watch Biggest Loser on TV
Wednesday: Stationary Bike at 6:30 PM, Personal Training @ 7:00 PM
Thursday: Water Aerobics @ 6:00 PM
Friday: Water Aerobics @ 9:00 AM
Saturday: Water Aerobics @ 9:00 AM

That's what I did January through July, except for a three week cruise to Hawaii in May during which I ate dessert every day, worked out in the ship's gym, went to water aerobics and Tai Chi and gained 2 pounds which I promptly lost the next week (patting self on back and doing triceps stretch at same time)! I had been losing a pound a week.

Then July hit.....there must needs be opposition in all things! One day, earlier in the year, Holly Rose went to water aerobics with me. She commented on my coughing during the class. I began to pay attention and noticed that yes, I really was coughing a lot. I talked to my Dr. about it and he prescribed an inhaler for exercise induced asthma. I started using it and noticed I coughed a little less. In July I went back to coughing a lot, inhaler or not, and then one day, I got home from my water workout and coughed all night, I was also shaking uncontrollably (I thought I was going to pull the muscles in my back) every joint and my skin hurt, I thought I had the flu. I finally got to sleep and awoke in the morning with NO symptoms, now that was weird. The next time I went to my water aerobics class, you guessed it, it happened again! This time I thought I might need to go to the hospital, but powered through it and was better again the next day.

I went to the Dr. and asked for a different inhaler. He told me (too bad, so sad) no inhaler would help my symptoms, because I was exhibiting signs of chlorine allergy and there's nothing I can do about it except stop swimming!
WW!!HH!!AA!!TT!!????????? NO WAY! I love my water workout. It is my treat! It is my candy! It is my reward! It is what I love about this whole stupid work hard and get healthy thing I'm doing! NO, NO, NO!!! Do not tell me I cannot swim!!!!!! So he told me I could try taking Zyrtec before swimming, so I did, and coughed and shook and hurt and felt hung over the next day. So I quit swimming.

I needed to add something aerobic to my workout, so I went to Zumba, it was OK, but it hurt my bad ankle. I went to Pilates, not very aerobic and I dunno, not my thing. I went to yoga, now that was nice. I'm still going to yoga. I never lost another pound. Huh? I needed my water workout.

The search was on, I needed to find a non-chlorine pool. Facebook to the rescue. One of my FB friends mentioned there might be salt water pool in Issaquah. Now Issaquah and Black Diamond are NOT next door neighbors, however, I would drive pretty far to get back into the water and Issaquah is NOT Bellingham. So I joined Gold's Gym in Issaquah! Weird, who ever thought I would be a member at two gyms (or one for that matter) but I was and I was able to get back into the water again and guess what? I started losing weight again although not a pound a week.

So here I am. I have conquered some problems over the past year. I learned I need to keep closer tabs on my thyroid. My poor little thyroid gland which hasn't worked right since 1982 had a hard time keeping up with my new metabolism. So I had to change my medicine and need to get it checked again. I haven't injured myself (which I was afraid of) although the muscles I never knew I had have reminded me they ARE there, but that's the good hurt!

So, here's the net result:
* I've lost 30 pounds
* I've lowered my heart rate from about 88 to 56 (no, really, I did)
* I've lowered my body fat from 47% to 40% at last check, several months ago.
* I used to have trouble getting my heart rate up to 120 during exercise, now I can get it up to 140 and sustain it there for a couple of minutes.
* I lost my original measurements (bummer) but I do remember my biggest measurement around my fat tummy, and I have lost 6 inches there!

Trainer Theresa had the audacity to leave me for maternity leave in September and I started with trainer Amanda a super smart 20 year old who I admire SO much. She has a more freeweight focus so I have learned alot more about that kind of training. Amanda is going on a college trip to Australia and New Zealand till March so I'm a little nervous about meeting my new trainer Brenda this Friday morning. Wish me luck and pray that she's not Jillian.

My plans for the upcoming year are more of the same only better! The biggest change for me is that I have given notice at my job and will be finished at the end of March. I plan to shift my workouts to AM instead of PM since I am a true morning person. I watch a cool show on BYU TV every morning while I get ready for work called Total Body Workout. I have never been able to do it because of the afore mentioned getting ready for work. Starting in April I plan to do Total Body Workout at home AND go to the gym for my training and swimming and yoga! I'm getting to be a real fitness geek huh? I guess it's better than a Soap Opera Geek or a couch potato!

James ordered my step for the aerobics part of the show, (it is the ugliest color, but the only one we could find, teal and mauve!!! Hello Jane Fonda!)) I already have my stability ball, my 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbell set has been shipped (Jillian Michaels brand, I might add), I have my stretchy tubes with handles, stretchy colored therapy bands and an 8 pound medicine ball. Now, the only thing I need is a beautiful bamboo floor in one of my rooms and I have a hankerin' for that cool six foot diameter round yoga mat from Mandalay. James is digging in his heels about the bamboo floor, but he always succumbs to whatever I want, so sooner or later, I think I shall have some bamboo.

Barring some ridiculous allergy to bicicles or sweat I plan to meet you back here next year with another report. I plan to blog a little more than twice in the coming year. Not working full time may help me in that regard. As a matter of fact I plan to write about the FOOD aspect of my journey later this week, maybe even later today. Did I mention I didn't go on a diet when I began my journey? Nope, just made a few changes, that were really about adding more of what I like to eat. So, stayed tuned for that story, it has been a joyful one.

May I thank all of you for your support this past year? It has really kept me going. I have a weird concept of myself. I can't really see changes in the mirror. Even when I compare my swimsuit pictures (oh yes, I have them!) I can't really see much difference in myself. So having you tell me I look different or better really helps me. I'm not begging for compliments, as a matter of fact, I'm pretty uncomfortable hearing them, but knowing you notice the results of my hard work helps me, so I am begging for a thumbs up or a "like" on Facebook from you.

As self centered as this post is, I hope it will stir something in you. I hope you will want to take care of yourself in whatever way would be meaningful to you. Breathe better, sleep better, eat better, walk better, feel less pain.... The possibilities for a more abundant life are endless and YOU can do whatever you put on your calendar and don't let anything interfere with.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Working It Out

On December 28 2010, I signed up for a gym membership and personal training. I have committed to a pattern of training two days a week, water aerobics three times a week and one or two independent workouts per week. It is a commitment of time, energy and mental work. I have always eaten a pretty healthy diet of home prepared whole foods, so the dietary changes for me have been more about increasing a good thing than cutting out bad choices. I have chosen to skip some treats, but I’ve had a few slices of birthday cake over the past few months.

My goals are to increase my strength, stamina and of course weight loss. I have accomplished these goals to some degree. I have seen the added benefit of more restful sleep with less apnea (according to James). I began my journey at 222 pounds, a weight that has been stable over many years. This morning my scale read 202, a big wow for me. I know ladies don’t usually share their weight numbers, but it’s not like it’s a secret to anyone who looks at me. Just like fibbing about my age won’t really make you think I’m 29. I always thought lying that I’m older would be more sensible.

As I have reached the grand old age of 52 ½ years, I know that my aging body needs to be strong and healthy to carry me successfully into the golden years. I prefer to avoid diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiac weakness with associated risk of heart attack and stroke, respiratory problems and injuries from falls. I don’t know my desired goal weight because I hope to build enough lean muscle to be quite dense and compact, so my weight number may not be low. Having never been successful at weight loss in the past, this journey is a thrill to me. It amazes me to see results from my efforts, and while the work is hard, it is fun at the same time.
This is my year. I am diligently working on myself and re-creating my lifestyle to endure for the rest of my life. I hope to be of service to my family and the community for many years to some.

Some things I have learned:
Don’t go hungry. Some favorite bits that have helped me on this journey are: Laughing Cow Cheese, RY Vita crackers, apples, apples and more apples, kiwifruits, herb salads, lots of homemade soup, homemade whole wheat low sugar low fat muffins, deli smoked turkey, Lara Bars, Kids Cliff Bars, and dark chocolate squares, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, Crystal Pure (stevia sweetened beverages [I don’t use artificial sweeteners].

Stand and sit tall, always be aware of body alignment. Keep your shoulders up and back, tummy in, tailbone tucked. My chiropractor told me to keep my jaw back and my head against the headrest when I drive. These practices have helped me be more aware of my body and to feel the real me inside the accumulated fat.
To burn past a plateau, increase the intensity of your workout (reach farther, do less weight and more repetitions, jump or step higher etc.), increase the duration of your workout (40 minutes instead of 30), or increase the frequency of your workout (more times per week, or even more times per day)

Reward yourself for hard work:
Special shampoo and conditioner (Paul Mitchell Lavender Mint YYUUMM), new pretty underwear (mine was falling off) a new book, note cards, new swimsuit, out to a movie (Jane Eyre!!!)

I love my journey and feel hopeful about my healthy future. I choose not to compare myself to others. Everyone has their own way of accomplishing their goals. I do however, find joy in encouraging others on their healthy journeys.

I did have one thing happen that was enlightening about my inner self. As the numbers on the scale began to drop, I developed a negative attitude and sense of foreboding. I felt like something bad was about to happen to me. I started to hold back thinking I might injure myself during my workout. I began to pray about this strange sense and came to a realization that the last time I engaged in a health change program, it all came to a screeching halt when our family experienced what we refer to as “The Boogie Man.” We had a drunk and drugged man break into our home and threaten our family with a gun. Even though the break in was resolved (after 11 minutes) it paralyzed us. We were shaken in many ways and all of us were changed forever. Healthy living, exercise and careful diet were exchanged for counseling, fear, sleeplessness and troubled children.

That was then and this is now. Receiving this answer to my prayers helped me realize, I can press forward without fear. Our family is strong. Our children are happy and we do not need to live in fear. I can turn to my Savior for help on any journey I choose and He will be there for me.

James and I are going on a cruise to Hawaii this spring. I look forward to the ideal opportunity to have great food choices (cooked by someone else) and access to a gym, a pool and exercise classes with no other responsibilities.
I thank all of you who have offered your support to me on my journey. Every kind word really helps me. Thanks for helping me “work it out.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seeking Abundance In the Midst of the Abundance

This post is a list (in case you hadn't noticed)of things I would like to accomplish and may or may not do in the near future. I love the abundance of my full to the brim of goodness, with so many opportunities. I hope that by getting these things out of my head, I will be more inclined to do some of them.

*Sew pretty spring clothes for myself
*Make baby blankets for the newcomers
*Make bigger kid blankets for the siblings of the newcomers
*Study to my heart's content, not just read my scriptures
*Set a beautiful table for the weekly family dinner and have the kitchen clean in the background
*Write heartfelt letters to James every week
*Fly to Texas to visit my sister and tell her how much I love her
*Visit my mom and do some chores for her and have her tell me how she adores me (because she always does whenever I visit)
*Talk to my grand-daughters on the phone (and Skype with Darby because she can't hear the phone)and share my favorite books with them
*Figure out the difference between stuff I need to save for future use and junk that impedes my life
*Go to the zoo whenever my nanny babies say "Let's go to the zoo today."
*Eat at restaurants that are as cool as Poppy, but not as far away, and maybe not as expensive
*Write thank-you notes to all of the people who speak in Sacrament Meeting every week to let them know how much each one inspires me
*Return to having soaring music playing in my home all of the time
*Do more with my sisters
*Make the pretty paper mobiles I have in my head, I love them as much as the dangly earrings I wear
*When I make a pot of herb tea, drink it (lots of times I pour it down the drain the next day)
*Read more old poetry
*Be there for my local children
*Write to my distant children
*Go to Okinawa before Christopher is finished there
*Re-frame lots of family photos and hang them on my dining room wall
*Stencil the places in the house that got painted over. I know stencilling is passe, but I don't care
*Get together with long lost friends, Andrea Mathison, Suzanne Glazier, Debbie Devine, Dona Thaut, Ed and Tanya Bessette etc...
*Find several multi billionaires to finance my bright idea that will save the world (no kidding, I really do have a great idea, but no business savvy, time or money to make it happen)

Has my list prompted you to consider your own list? Share it with me either here or by e-mail

Happy seeking!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stop and Smell the Roses or Look at the Rocks....or Rescued

The morning had gone well. I had accomplished so much at home I was proud of myself. I wanted to get Noel's birthday gift, wrap it and ship it at the Post Office, which would close in an hour and a half, plenty of time. I parked in the lot of the store. I stepped out of my granny van, set my purse on the driver's seat, pulled my sweater across from the passenger seat, (begin slow motion action at this point) almost dropped the sweater in a puddle, made a lunge for the sweater, knocked the van door with my elbow, door closed and locked. Hmmm. I had my bluetooth in my ear, but the phone and my keys and my open purse (displaying wallet and credit card to all passersby) were in the locked van.

James is a big proponent of hide-a-key. I'm sure there must be one on my van, but do I want to lie down in the rainy parking lot to search underneath for the little black box? Not if I don't have to. I used voice commands to call James. Something about his name doesn't register with my bluetooth. I voice dialed his phone number...still no connection. I called Holly Rose. My phone always understands her name and called her immediately. She called James at work who told her there is no hidden key on my van. Huh? (Silence...bird's twittering in the background...) What? Why?

Holly and Jeff, dropped their shopping plans and headed from Auburn to Black Diamond (twenty minute drive), dropped the three boys off at home for their naps, and picked up my spare key from the key ring at my house. Then Holly came to Covington, another (twenty minute drive) to rescue me.

Meanwhile, back at the parking lot, I paced around my van in my infamous sweater, my scarf and gloves in a light drizzling rain. (Umbrella visible on the passenger seat, heavy sweatshirt visible on back seat.) Not too bad. I called Noel by voice commands and she entertained me by describing greeting cards she had purchased for several friends who will soon have babies. I was proud to put a guilt trip on Noel, telling her I was in the parking lot because of her birthday gift. She offered to read me some Edgar Alan Poe poetry or Pride and Prejudice, I settled for detailed descriptions of the cards. She offered to call the store with her credit card information so I could do my shopping, but I didn't want to leave the van with the purse advertisiment saying ROB ME. A nice young woman in an electric green car stopped to express her concern for me. She invited me to sit in her warm car, she said she would wait with me until my daughter arrived. I thanked her, but declined, since I knew Holly was almost there. I wish I had taken her up on her offer. Maybe I could have made a new friend. Who knows what I could have learned from her.

Holly Rose arrived, I had been stuck for a little more than an hour. I unlocked my door, jumped in and took off for home. I had lost the desire to get a gift, I had missed the Post Office closing time anyway. I headed for home.

On the way, I noticed a UPS store. Hey, I thought, UPS doesn't close at 2:00! I pulled into the parking lot and checked the hours. They closed at 6:00 for the holidays. (Fanfare and beginning strains of Hallelujah Chorus play here) ALRIGHT! Plan B. Back to my parking lot. I very carefully exited the van holding my keys and my purse tightly. Zoomed into the store, purchased Noel's gift, drove back to the UPS store, had her gift packed and shipped (okay, it will go out Monday and arrive Thursday). Success.

The whole experience made me think about how busy we are. We think we don't have an extra hour. But when forced to spend an hour doing something unplanned, it always works out. Two other stuck and rescued stories come to mind that illuminate this point.

When James was a long haul truck driver, I went on a trip with him one summer. We were headed for home going through the Colorado Rockies. Up ahead was a road work project, as there always is during the summer. Traffic stopped and what started out as a long wait, became an extended event on a mountain road. We learned that the road crew had stopped their work to use some of their heavy equipment to help rescue some rafters who were in peril in the river below us!!! Well, what did we have to complain about? Everyone got out of their cars, trucks, campers and motorhomes. We milled about on the hot roadside. Some petitioned the Coors Beer truck driver to open the back of his truck and supply a roadside party. He declined. The river was too far below us to go wading or swimming. Across the river at our level was a train track. I enjoyed watching several trains come around the bend on what appeared to be a ledge just wide enough for the track, and then disappeared into a tunnel. The road surface we were standing on was beautiful. The aggregate was of pink and blue and gray and yellow stones. Colorado roads have alot of mica in them, so as you drive along the roads sparkle, but I had never seen the road surface up close. We wandered along the roadside, enjoying the various wildflowers and weeds. I was almost embarrassed to be enjoying myself. Many people were crabby and impatient, but James and I had a lovely afternoon together. It was a date we never could have arranged, and will always remember.

The other story took place last week. Three teenage boys were discovered on a remote uninhabited island in Fiji. They were 800 miles off their course (EIGHT HUNDRED MILES that is the equivalent of from my house to Salt Lake City). They had been missing for FIFTY days. Their families back in New Zealand had given them up for dead and had already eulogized them. The fishing boat that rescued them had taken a short cut through the islands. They never went that way (and neither did anyone else). The boys had survived by catching a few fish, drinking a few drops of rainwater and eating a sea gull!!! It hadn't rained for a few days and the boys had begun to drink sea water...DEADLY.

The boys were not stuck for an hour as I was. They did not suffer because their bluetooth wouldn't dial a certain number. They didn't have to get a little cold and wet because instead of the sweater, the heavy sweatshirt was locked in the van. They didn't turn down offers of help because someone else would be along in just a sec. Our lives are busy. There is another world out there. I like to zoom out, step back, see what I can see. Who is in the river? Who is stranded on an uninhabited island? How can I give an make a difference. And what pretty rocks or weeds or trains will I discover as I step aside from my own microscopic world?

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Love Homework!

I love the beginning of school and wish I was going. Am I weird? I love homework! I remember the disappointment of the first few days of school when I was poised with my pencil at the ready, my blue report cover nearby with it's little brads awaiting neatly organized pages. I wanted a project! I wanted to read and write and launch into some new and interesting study. But alas, my teachers were still on vacation. They gave us text books and had us read the table of contents. They pointed to the chart of classroom rules and explained each new and innovative rule ad nauseum. No cool homework, no fabulous assignment to stretch my tiny little mind.

Did they not know I had a new eraser? One hundred crisp white 3x5 cards were in my little zippered pouch waiting to become a bibliography. My colored pencils were weeping from disuse. My mini stapler was longing to let out that pleasant little ker-thunk as it put the final touch of finishment(sorry, I couldn't think of the right word)on my project.

The sad thing is, I was not a very good student. I usually had about a "C" average, and I do mean average. I got "A"s in English and "D"s in Math and Science. I always felt a little lost about the actual assignments I did receive: How many pages? When is it due? Where am I supposed to find the information? Often the deadline passed without my launching into anything and so, I spent alot of time in a frenzy to turn in sub-standard papers...late.

Luckily after striding through elementary school with my children, I caught on to the system and did really well when I went to college for my LPN degree. Ahhhh, now that's what I'm talking about. Real assignments with real due dates and specific requirements. I loved everything about my classes. Amazingly, the class given on Math for Meds was a favorite of mine. A gifted teacher melted away all of the mystery and gave me the skills I needed to work in the nursing field and successfully and safely care for my patients.

Now, as I drive to work each morning, I watch the little souls waiting at the bus stop. None looks too eager. Heavy backpacks weigh them down. They look sleepy and bored. Is an energizing assignment awaiting them? Will they become engrossed in some new study? Will they get to use their colored pencils and their mini stapler? What will appear between the covers of the blue folder with the little brads?

Fall is here. Leaves are crimson and russet and shriveled tan. The first round of progress reports and parent teacher conferences has passed. Do you know a student of any age who needs encouragement? What experiences have you had that can open the way for them? Share your love of learning. Write a report!