Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Get a move on!

LuLu-ism #55: Get off your duff!
LuLu in warmer days...

My pink bike, LuLu is waiting for me out in the garage. Winter makes her antsy. She doesn’t wait well. She knows there are roads we haven’t yet ridden down; Sights we haven’t seen. She’s glaring at the snow and the minus-degree weather trying to intimidate and run them off.  She wants to get on with it.
… and so do I, thanks to LuLu. She’s taught me many things on this journey to better health, but none more important than the fact that I am my own worst enemy. Before LuLu, I found myself stepping back and away from activities and opportunities more and more. “I’m too tired,” I’d say. Or, the pull to just sit on the couch was just too great. But then, LuLu came to my house with her pink-self beckoning me to the open road, and I decided that I didn’t want my legacy to be a butt indentation left in my couch. So, I started pedaling.
However, it’s a battle of wills at times. The couch and my own diminishing spirit are like glittering sirens flirting, tempting and calling to me to come sit and do nothing. Tempting me to let life go on without me. I’m sixty-one years old and at times doing nothing has a whole lot of appeal. But, if I don’t watch out, sitting in place will become the way I go through life.  Joan Chittister in her book, The Gift Of Years says, “We deny ourselves layer upon layer of life and wonder why life holds no excitement for us anymore… So, we don’t go on to the next step to begin something new. We fail to go on becoming. We stop in our tracks with years ahead of us and wait.”
I say, let’s cut that out! I’m not dead yet, so why should I act like it? Come on, people, there’s lots of roads out there left unexplored. I say we meet life head on until it wins. I think I’ll go out in the garage and put some air in LuLu’s tires and some oil on her chain. As soon as that snow melts… we’re outta here!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Open the gift...

Me in my writing room...

 Yesterday after one year and five months, I typed “THE END” on my latest writing project. It’s a historical novel set during WWII. It’s a good story. Of course, now the fun begins. Rewrites. Now I roll up my sleeves and make it pretty, as they say. I flesh it out, clean it up and rearrange the words just so.

What have I learned in the last seventeen month? Well, first I reaffirmed that writing is just plain hard work. It’s lonely work sometimes. Just me and my MacBook Pro. However, at times my writing room got a little crowded as all my characters talked at once trying to get my attention. Climbing back into a time I had not experienced was also hard work. But I must say, research to me is like a treasure hunt. There’s gold in them thar hills just waiting for those fool enough to grab the pick.
I also learned a little about myself. I’m the Queen of Procrastination. Before I could sit down to write in the mornings, I found myself doing everything I could not to get there. Like … making a cup of tea or two, throwing in a load of laundry, bathing the dog, clipping my toenails…anything to keep from climbing those stairs, sitting down in that chair and beginning. And this is how I act when I love doing something. Just think how I am when it’s a task I don’t like so much. Pitiful.
I also learned that I’m not lazy. I kind of feared that I was, I mean with all the toenail clipping and all. But I’m not. I just completed a four hundred-page novel. Before that I completed another novel. Before that, I spent three years researching and writing a biography. No, I guess I’m not lazy. I conquerored the blank page. Oh yes, the dragon was slain. Lazy people don’t that.
But the most important thing I learned is that for me, writing is a calling. While I hope like the dickens that this book gets published and read by the masses, if it doesn’t, I can still say that I remained true to what I was created to do. I used the gift given. I opened the package. I pray, I honored My Maker in doing so.
Can you say that? I’m not bragging here, I’m challenging. Can you say that? If not, today is a new day and your gift is sitting in the middle of the floor. Walk toward it…

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mind. Body. Spirit.


As you know, I’ve been on a journey to better health. I haven’t lost a ton of weight yet, but I’ve grown more flexible, grown leaner and have created some lasting good healthy habits for myself… riding my pink bike, LuLu has been one of those.

A new habit I’m getting into is Tony Horton’s 10-Minute Trainer. If you’re into sweat and torture, Tony’s your man. In just ten minutes a day I’ve learned to contort my body in ways I didn’t know was possible. Of course, I’ve had to improvise a bit because while Tony is jumping off the ground with jumping jacks and other such foolishness on my DVD, my feet haven’t left the ground in over two decades… and they have no plans to.

I love life. I love living life. I want to live life for a long time to come. But, the fact is, if I don’t treat my body as if it truly matters to me, my life will be shorter than I want it to be.  And that’s true of all of us. Our bodies can only take so much abuse. They can only take so much chocolate and caffeine.  Sugar, although lovely in all forms, turns on us after a while.

I’ve had sixty-one years of fun and love. Is it wrong to want, oh, sixty-one more? Well, it maybe stretching to think of myself as a 122-year-old woman, but I wouldn’t mind a hundred… if I can still do a few of Tony Horton’s moves.

Of course, to live life to its fullest, good health is only part of the equation. A healthy mind and healthy spirit is just as important… maybe more so. My mind, I’m working on keeping it clear and functioning reasonably well. I read. I write. I think. Got to keep the cobwebs out of the belfry as they say.  But my spirit… that’s a tough one.

Spirit. If you think it’s hard to do a jumping jack at my age and with my knees, just think how tough it is to keep a positive spirit amidst cancer and Alzheimer’s. No, I don’t have those things, but people I love do. Worrying about them takes it’s toll on my spirit. Yeah, Christian’s are told not to worry, but fact is, we do. We may call it ‘being concerned’ or having something ‘heavy on our hearts’, but it’s worry, it’s fear, it’s sadness and it’s hard.

So, what to do? I ride LuLu. I keep my physical health up. I keep writing and reading and thinking and … I pray. Prayer is food for the spirit. Prayer gives hope. Prayer is petitioning the power of heaven down to earth. It is conversation with the One who made me. As He listens, my spirit soars. As I listen, my spirit heals.

It’s all connected, folks. Body Mind. Spirit. We are spiritual beings housed in a physical body.  All need to be fed and cared for.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

A shared faith...


            My husband and I were at a marriage retreat recently.   While sitting around a fireplace, 20 couples or so focused on nothing but their relationship.  They searched for ways to rediscover each other--which is a trick after so many years of familiarity.  They listened to other couple’s struggles and victories and tried to see where they could apply these lessons to their own relationship.
            By most counts, it was the wives who insisted they come to the retreat.  But by the end, it was the husbands who vowed to come again.
            Tears were shed--a healthy, physical response to forgiveness and renewal.  But after the tears came laughter.  I am convinced no one has a better time than old married folks--jokes, songs, stories--it was great.
            On Sunday morning, all worshipped together around the same fireplace that the night before shed light on our renewed commitments. We sang.  We prayed.
            Relationships revolving around a core faith have the best chance of survival in a world that is becoming more faithless by the tick of the clock.  A shared faith is a strong foundation that holds when everything else seems to be crumbling.  If you and your mate are Believers, you will be able to weather any storm as God holds the umbrella. If you and your mate are not on the same page spiritually, I urge you to get there. Find a church. Open a Bible. Clasp hands and learn to pray together. It will be the best thing you could ever do for your marriage… your family.
             Rediscovery of an old love with a new faith--ah, nothing is as sweet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



Believe it or not, I was able to ride LuLu last week. Our January thaw came early and cleared the road in front of our house of ice and snow. So off we went. It didn’t take long for the Cowgirl to start whining, but I ignored her the best I could. Besides, my legs were complaining just as loud. It’s amazing how quickly your body reverts back to its lazy ways when you mess with your exercise routine. Half way through the ride, the legs finally began acting like they remembered what they were supposed to do. They got less noodlely and stronger with each rotation of the pedal. They finally engaged and did their part.
Legs. Another part of my body I take for granted.  Mine are short, stout and thick at the ankles. They’ve served me well over the years. During my teen years they kept me competitive on my high school’s tennis team and through college. I loved running, so these little short stems saw me through many years of jogging. All those years I never got to sit down while raising our boys, the legs never failed. They took me upstairs and down enough times to circumference the world three times over. Backpacking and even hiking the Grand Tetons, the legs remained faithful. Even now, carrying more weight than which they were designed, they hold fast. A few years ago when the right knee finally gave way and had to be replaced with a fancy-dancy titanium gadget, the legs fought hard to regain their usefulness.  They may be a little road-weary now but they’re still holding me up… taking me places.
Our bodies are their own miracle. The brilliant mind of God must have had fun designing them. Like a Master Tinker in His shop, how He must have delighted in the idea of legs, what they could do, where they could take us. I pray I’ve put mine to good use and will continue to be mindful of the gift they are.
As I pedal down the road on LuLu, as I walk toward my neighbor’s house, as I climb the steps to my church’s sanctuary, as I kneel in thanksgiving, may I always be reminded Who gave and Who continues to give…

Blessings, friends,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Freshly squoze...

My handy-dandy juicer

I’m sitting here writing with a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in hand. A few years back I got on this juicing kick and bought this mighty fine juicer that can puree a bushel of apples and a small buffalo in just under three seconds. It’s a wonderful little machine. Of course as eating trends and enthusiasm goes, the joy of juicing lasted maybe six months. One day I looked at the clean up procedure of making my own juice as to compared to screwing off the lid of a jug of prepared orange juice and that was that. However, the freshly ‘squoze’ taste will always win hands down.
So, I’m back at it. I mean if I’m going to become a gourmet cook, I might as well delight in finding myself elbows deep in pink grapefruit pulp as well. I’m jumping in with all fours.
As for exercise, poor LuLu is wrapped in a blanket in the garage. There’s snow on the ground and I don’t expect she’s going see the light of day for some time yet. So, Hildegard, The SweatMaker is on deck. The big, muscled elliptical machine stands at the foot of the basement stairs barking my name.
My friends, where are you in your resolve in this new year? I know, it’s early, but you know as well as I do resolve is fickle. She cries at the least adversity, caves in with the slightest challenge, and is the queen of all wimps. Get tough with her. Grab her shoulders and give her a good shake. 2013 is your year- whether it’s the year you get healthy, the year you write the great American novel, or simply the year you learn how to knit. Let’s do this thing!
I just took another sip of my freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. It’s sweet and smooth going down. It delights the taste buds. This morning one point for me. Zero for unmet resolve.
We’re on our way, friends…

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Look who's cooking...

Flank Steak & Cauliflower

2013 don't scare me none! For the first time in several years, I am not in the least intimidated by my New Year's Resolutions. Mainly, because they are just a continuation from last year's... which are a continuation from the year before. Let me explain. In 2011, LuLu the pink bike, came into my life with her shiny chrome fenders and sleek pink physique. Her mission: to get mama healthy. She's relentless and hasn't let me forget for one moment the goal- get the old gal moving and keep her moving.  Now, a year and a half into it, I'm still pedaling when weather permits and still learning new ways to get healthy and make the most of my days.

I'm not the best cook. I haven't had to be. The Hubs and I raised three boys and all that mattered during those years was that there was food on the table... lots of it. Taste was beside the point. So, if you wanted a roaster full of chili I was your gal. If you wanted a gourmet meal, try the house down the street. Until now...

Last night, I am proud to announce that I rustled up for our dining pleasure flank steak with cauliflower paste topped with a parsley and a red wine vinegar sauce with a side of asparagus. (See photo) And, besides it tasting like a million bucks, it was only 362 calories. Yes, my friends, look who's cooking!

Of course my new found talent for vittle-fixing doesn't mean I won't have set backs and be found hiding in the back of the closet with M & M's in my mouth mumbling about low-blood sugar; however, it does mean I at least have a fighting chance of continuing on in 2013 on this journey to good health--physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Are you still with me?  Good!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

... that passes understanding...


My pink bike, Lulu, is about many things. She was a birthday present on my 60th birthday in 2011, and since then she has been my partner in my quest to healthy myself up. What has surprised me about her is how my time spent saddled up and peddling down the road with her has brought me not only better physical health, but spiritual and emotional health as well. The quiet time with her riding up and down the countryside has taught me what is truly important. Of course, I've known it all along, but the good pink bike helped me clarify somethings that sometimes get muddled and lost as we fill our days with busyness and self-importance.

It is people. Specifically, it is family that makes our worlds spin in sync. And what's crazy about that is that this all important family, for the most part, is chosen for us by a Divine Hand. Not too many of us get to choose our parents or siblings. Placed in the womb, we meet who we got when we draw our first breathe... and there it is. Family.

Well, from my first breathe, I was in for a ride. Greeted by young parents who didn't have a clue and an older brother who wasn't so sure I was such a good idea, I began my journey....
Sixty-one years later, the journey still continues. The pace picked up. I had one choice of my own, and I picked Gary. Best choice ever. Together, we brought three, yelping, jumping, amazing boys to the mix, who in turn brought beautiful wives and exceptional children of their own.

 On my brother's end, he did the same, and our family grew even more. Brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, grandchildren, in-laws, great-grandparents, grandparents... they came and we tagged them.

We fuss. We moan. We get disappointed (because it turns out, we're all only human). Yet, we continue to love, to run to, to support, to hide in arms, to pat backs, to shake fists at.
Yet, we remain family. Through both shadows and bright daylight we still reach out to each other. We embrace and wring out all the good that is there. Children. Laughter. Hugs. Everything's unconditional. We make rules that get broken, yet we still love and are loved.
We stumble....
... we keep adding to our number...
We are made to laugh by such innocence...
...We are gifted time and time again by such beauty and tiny arms....

The oldest welcome the newest...
... We keep chosing our one... Welcome, Dave!
... family grows.
... hearts expand...
...silliness still trumps on given days...
...Great-grandmothers never run out of blessings....
Mommie's never grow weary... well, they do, but they don't let that stop them....
Daugther-in-laws continue to surprise...
...granddaughters continue to take my breath away.
Sister-in-law continues to make me laugh...
Wisdom and love keep coming at us at a feverish pitch...

Cousins teach us...
Sons turn into uncles...
...Grandsons turn into Super Heroes...

Fathers keep blessing sons...

The children keep leading us to our better selves...

.... most of the time.

And so... family continues. We gather. We cling. We shake our fists. We touch cheeks. We mix our tears. We celebrate the joys. We hang on tight against the unknowns yet to come. But...

.... come what may, we remain family.

My friends, you don't need a pink bike to teach you all of this. Just look up. Look around. Embrace the imperfection. Fall on your knees at this Divine gift... and this year, this 2013, leave no words of love unspoken...

Happy New Year.