Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Warriors

PHOTO: Don't you just love the crazy Target Lady?


The good news? The turkey and dressing are all gone and there’s just a smidge of cranberry sauce left. The bad news? We’re out of whipped cream. I love whipped cream. I could smear it on anything and be a happy woman. But alas, it’s time to get off the holiday eating high and embrace raw carrots and broccoli. Besides, Christmas is just around the corner… and more whipped cream.

So, did you do your part? On Black Friday were you one of the millions who contributed to our economy by standing in a mile long line for a door buster item? Where were you on Black Friday at 2 a.m.? Were you sleeping or racing down an aisle in Wal-Mart to be one of the lucky ones to snatch a couple pairs of those four-dollar jammies? I am proud to announce that the Cleveland Women were among the mighty. My daughters-in-law rose at 2:30 a.m. and had a Blu-ray player snuggly tucked in their shopping cart by 3 a.m.

I was a little wussier than the younger Cleveland gals, but met up with them by 7 a.m. to join in the hunt. What a day of giggles and triumph. I can hardly think of anything more satisfying then slapping a $10 Off coupon onto the counter next to a purchase that was already marked 60% off. I felt myself morphing into a Black Friday Guru. It was heady stuff. It wasn’t like I was facing down a diabolical enemy set on destroying the world as we know it. But I did save my family a couple of bucks, and in this economy, bagging a bargain isn’t too shabby, is it?

I was a young mother in the 1980s during our last recession. I hardly noticed it. We were living in a one hundred year old house that looked it’s age, still using wooden crates for end tables and could still get out of the grocery store on a fifty dollar bill.

This recession is different. I have more to lose. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but what I do know is that I have to constantly be checking my ‘want-er’ against my ‘need-er’. Just because I want it, doesn’t mean I need it. Tough times require tough choices. Keeping it simple, being discriminating, and being a good steward has never been more important. Good luck to you as you patrol the aisles. Never be afraid of a bargain, or of walking away if you have second thoughts.

You know what LuLu would say, right? “If it ain’t pink and/or takes you to a better place, pass it on by.”



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thus far...

PHOTO: Thus far, my darling is still with me...God is good.


What are you doing peeking at this blog? It's a holiday, people! Don't you have a turkey to thaw? Dressing to dress? Pies to bake? You shouldn't be hanging out with me when you've got so much to prepare. So, here's the deal, LuLu and I are going to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, now, so you don't have to visit us again until next Tuesday. I don't know about you, but I'm going to have a house full on Thursday, thirteen to be exact. I can't even promise I'll be able to find my computer on Thursday underneath the mix of fall decorations and the beginnings of Christmas decorations. It's like my house is having a bout of split personality disorder. Christmas lights are hanging outside, yet my fireplace mantel has gourds and pumpkins on it. Go figure.

Go. Be thankful. In betwixt all of the holiday hub bub, go to your quiet place, be it the bathroom, a closet or the garage, whatever, and take a moment to just be thankful. Another year is about to end, and you're still here. You're upright. You've survived. Maybe you've even thrived. Be. Thankful.

Long, long ago in a Bible land far, far, away, there was a man named Joshua. He got promoted to head trail boss when God retired Moses number. One day, Joshua was leading the troops in yet, another circle, when the day had arrived that they were going to cross over the Jordan River into a land of milk and honey, as they say in Bible-speak. Josh gathered the masses and tried to calm their fears. "What if we don't like milk and honey?" they shouted. "What if trouble is ahead?" they asked. "What if ...?" You get my drift. When Josh had had enough of their whining and questioning, he stood before them and said, and I paraphrase, "Listen up, people! Hasn't God taken care of us thus far? We've had plenty to eat. We've been kept safe. True, we've wandered around in this desert for about forty years now because somebody refused to stop and ask for directions (naw, he really didn't say that at all, but I couldn't help myself there), yet, here we are fat and sassy, alive, thriving, and about to have a new experience. Thus far, He has taken care of our every need. Shouldn't we trust that He will will take care of tomorrow as well?"

Dear friends, God has taken care of us thus far. Be thankful. I have absolutely no doubt that He will take care of our tomorrows just as faithfully. We have so much to fall to our knees and be thankful about. I invite you to join me there.

Thus far...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Photo: LuLu's friend, Belle, the ball.


So, here I am teetering atop Belle, the ball, stretching the back out before we get to the hard stuff, when I realize… this is easier than it used to be. Have any of you exercised on a big ball? If you have, do you remember the very first time you sat down on it? The first time Belle and I started our workouts together, several years ago now, I laid back to stretch and immediately rolled off onto the floor—smack-dab on the *Cowgirl. It was not pretty.

I haven’t been on Belle for quite awhile. All spring and summer, LuLu, the pink bike, was my exercise buddy of choice. But now after months and months away, I plop down on Belle and immediately my body morphs into this incredible balancing machine. I stretch, I twist, I do sit ups, I lift weights, all keeping the Cowgirl where she belongs. Balance is a good thing.

I believe all the time I’ve spent on LuLu has taught my body how to compensate and adjust to the little tilts and jolts that come along… and now balance is second nature.

Life is all about balance—keeping yourself upright by constantly adjusting to the jiggles and jolts that are thrown at you. The good, the bad and the ugly have a way of knocking us to our Cowgirls if we aren’t prepared, centered, balanced, if you will.

A lot has been thrown at me lately threatening my balance. And, I must tell you that if I hadn’t already known that prayer, faith and supportive friends and family weren’t the keys to a balanced life, my Cowgirl would have found a permanent home splatted on the floor a long time ago.

Find your core. Keep your balance.



*Cowgirl- your behind a.k.a butt

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Do the hard stuff

Photo: Hildegard, the sweatmaker... one of the hard stuff.


Why is it so hard to create a new habit? For example, I know that exercise is good for me. I know that if I get up only thirty minutes earlier, I’d be able to get’er done and then get on with my day. The benefits are many—better heart health, weight loss, and building muscle, to name a few. So, why, why is it so hard to establish this good habit?

Like with anything, creating a new habit, takes practice. It takes sacrifice, it takes saying ‘yes’ to something and ‘no’ to something else, and let’s face it, denying ourselves of something that feels good or takes no effort has it’s charms.

Let’s see, let’s list things I’d rather be doing than sweating on Hildegard? 1) anything else; 2) see #1.

Are we too lazy to create a new habit that is good for us? I don’t think so. Are we too busy? We’re never too busy to do what we really want to do. So, what is it that’s makes it so hard to create a new habit?

Indulgence. We are an indulgent people. At times we’re like spoiled children who cross our arms, stamp our feet and refuse to eat our vegetables. It’s all about us and about what’s easy. We don’t do the hard stuff… not if we can help it.

This little’tude shows up not only in personal habits, but also in the workplace, in our churches, on the playground, and dare, I say, in our politics. We vote for the person who promises us it won’t be hard to get what we want, and that we won’t have to give up anything to get it.

Note to self: All the good stuff is hard to do. Quit yer whining and get on with it.

Assignment: Today, do the hard stuff first.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meet the gang

Photos: The Let's-get-Deb-into-shape Campaign Team.


Okay, here’s the deal. Remember on Tuesday when LuLu and I went merrily pedaling in the autumn rain? Well, yesterday we had a total weather event. First comes rain, then hail, then sleet, then snow, then thunder and then lighting. Thus it is safe to say that winter has arrived in the North Country. I’m figuring LuLu and I will hit the road only sporadically from now until April. Hence, I’d like to introduce you to her friends who will be stepping up to the plate to help keep my cowgirl and Fake Knee from growing even fatter and lazier.

Meet Hildegard, the sweatmaker. Hildegard set up roost in our basement a few years ago. We’ve actually used her enough we’ve had to replace a part. Cool, huh? Well, I’m making a commitment to myself, to you, and to Hilde, she’s going to see me on a regular basis from this day forward. She’s an elliptical drill sergeant who takes no prisoners.

Meet Belle, the ball. She joined us a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen her all summer, but now with the white stuff falling from the sky, she and I will also have a date at least three mornings a week. Hold me to that.

And, you’ve already met, faithful side kick, Rusty. He has a very important job this winter. If I do not hop on him for a spin, the Fake Knee will become a Fake Rod with absolutely no flexibility at all. If I want to be able to hop back on LuLu come spring, old Rusty is my go-to guy.

Oh, you’ll still be hearing from LuLu, she’s the brain behind the Let’s-get-Deb-into- shape Campaign. But picture her in the garage, eating bon-bons and soaking her tires for a few months. She’s on vacation.

Why do I tell you all of this? They say if you tell someone you’re on a diet, or starting an exercise plan you’ll stick to it. Well, so far that’s worked for me. Since last April LuLu and I have put a few miles on her tires and my Cowgirl, mainly because you knew I’d promised to do it. So, wish me and the gang luck. It’s going to be a long, long winter. Oh, and feel free to join me. Get down to your basement and dust off whatever exercise equipment you have hiding down there. We’re going for the burn!



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Get your pink on...


LuLu-ism #37: Go. Pack. Go

Picture if you will, me, LuLu and the Green Bay Packers. Yep, LuLu is a fan of the mighty fine Green and Gold. On our ride this morning (yes, we rode in the rain, and yes, we rode in 40 degrees) we rehashed Sunday’s game. Packers won of course. Our team is now 8-0. I’m trying to get LuLu to understand the significance of that stat, but she’s not all that impressed. However, when I told her that some Packer players have been known to ride an exercise bike on the sidelines during the game, her handlebars perked up. That she’s impressed with.

She wondered if the exercise bikes were pink. I hated to disappoint her, so I diverted her attention to my hat. It was pink, a pink Packer ball cap. When the wife of our former Green Bay Packer quarterback, Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless, introduced the pink caps in support of breast cancer research, I was on board. I bought one for my daughter-in-laws and myself. The pink caps were an ingenious idea. That first Sunday a few years ago when our former quarterback-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless stood on the sidelines at Lambeau Field during a game wearing his pink ball cap with the big ‘G’ logo emblazoned on the front, the caps sold out in a matter of hours. Millions were raised for cancer research.

As I told that story, LuLu got very giddy and strutted her pink, shiny self, as well as a bicycle can strut.

As many of you know, my sweet hubs has been fighting cancer. He wears an additional color in support of cancer research. His yellow Live Strong bracelet rarely leaves his wrist. He got it from donating money to cancer research.

Pink. Yellow. They’re just colors, but creatively placed, they can be a great reminder that there’s a big, ugly, fierce fight going on to stop a killer, a killer that has taken way too many lives. If you get a chance, put your pink where your mouth is, and your yellow where it counts. Let’s cure cancer in our lifetime… and for the Cleveland family, the sooner the better.

Get your pink on…


Friday, November 4, 2011

"What if..."


LuLu-ism # 36: What if my rider (deb) would get serious about her diet and actually lose a pound or two? Wouldn’t that be something?

I know, I know, I’m late posting. You’ll just have to forgive me, please. Yesterday was Colonoscopy Day for me. It was a lovely day, what I remember of it. Of course it was a way better day than the day before, if you get my drift. However, all is well. So, how’s that for an excuse not to meet a deadline?

Okay, I am proud to say that on Wednesday morning, before said colonoscopy prep was begun, LuLu and I took a spin in the rain. It was a light drizzle, but a great ride. At least it was until my head kept bouncing on politics. I’m not much of a political pundit. Nobody really cares what I think on this subject, nor should they. However, what I kept thinking about was what it would be like if a person of true faith, common sense and moral integrity actually became our president one day. You know someone who went to church because of his or her love for the Lord instead of the love of a good photo op. Or someone who when asked, “Do you believe in same sex marriage or abortion?” would say outright, “No, I do not and here’s why…” Or when asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?” would look straight into the camera and say, “No, I have not. I love only one woman and I will be faithful to her until I die.” Or, if that said presidential person was a woman, would respond, “I was a virgin when I married my husband because I made a promise to myself and God that true love waits and then I waited and married the right man, and I will forever be faithful to him” … and it all would actually be the truth.

What would it be like, if this said, fictitious person had made a mistake in his/her early years, say age eighteen or twenty or so and the press discovered it and blasted it all over the air waves, and instead of lying, dodging and covering up, our person was able to say, “That’s old news fellas. I confessed that sin to those I hurt a long, long time ago. I repented of it, prayed about, and have been living my life redeemed ever since.”

What if this fairy tale person made decisions for our country based on common sense and a healthy sense of right and wrong, instead of greed and polls and cover-ups?

“What if…” is a fun thing to ponder on a bike ride in the rain on a chilly fall morning.