Tuesday, January 31, 2012

it's all about the cause, and not so much the effect

In my readings this morning, Oswald Chambers said

As workers we have to get used to the revelation that Redemption is the only Reality. Personal holiness is an effect, not a cause, and if we place our faith in human goodness, in the effect of Redemption, we shall go under when the test comes.
That really gets to the heart of this journey of letting God teach me to love my body (which, I never even thought of until right this second, is a matter of personal holiness...sheesh, I never saw that before...) - it's a Redemption thing, and that speaks to cause and effect.  

So if you're reading my blog and you decide to "follow my example" - be aware of this:  my example is NOT about the *effects* part of the journey.  The only part of what I'm doing that I recommend you follow and imitate is this:  ask God to teach you how to ________ (for me, that blank says "love my body" but for you it might be something different) and then step back and stay the heck out of His way while He works.  

This is not about me trying harder (though I'm not opposed to trying).  

This is not about me making a plan and working it (though I'm not opposed to plans).

This is not about any of the specifics of what has changed in my life in the past year.  Not about the running, not about the biking, not about what I do or don't put in my mouth.  Not about what the scale says.  Not about my pants size.  All of these things are effects, not causes. 

This is about growing quiet, listening for God's voice, and following what He says.  Period.  And FOR ME, that has meant an almost innumerable amount of times of having to stop and repent of trying to take control of the situation.  This situation is not mine to control.  God is leading, I am following, and any answers that don't fall under that are NOT the point of the gift that is this journey I've been on for 13 months now.

Last night I was reading one of my favorite bloggers, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.  She was being the same kind of beautifully, brutally honest that always draws me to her writing.  I love that.  But as I read some of the hundreds of comments she received, I was struck by how Very Not Alone I have been in hating my body.  It's easier to see now, as I start to slowly step away from that hatred.  So many comments of people who can barely stand to look in the mirror.  I read them and I recognize that place - but I don't live there so much anymore.  <--The fact that this is true is clear evidence that the past 13 months have been a work of Redemption in me, because people, according to any weight chart anywhere, any standard of health anywhere, and any society except those where they worship the fat ladies...I still have a long way to go.  I'm still probably 75 pounds from even getting close to that phrase the singles searchers like so much:  "weight proportionate to height."  And it turns out, I don't have to wait until I get there to love my body.  Turns out I can have that gift NOW.  

That's a pretty nice effect - fully worth pursuing the One who is the cause.

Monday, January 30, 2012

fresh enthusiasm for salad and a better run

I'm feeling an extra bit of hope this morning, where loving my body is concerned.  As you know if you've been reading along, the "food" part of this proposition has been a bit more of a struggle for me of late than it was for a long time before that.  Spent some time this weekend with a friend who is ALL ABOUT choosing body-loving food, and she positively inspired me.  So as I bought groceries on the way home, I followed her lead and I'm nicely stocked with good veggies and excitement about how to prepare them (especially including a veggie salad that is avocados, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, cucumber, and bell pepper...and I'm adding black and green olives and cracked pepper and a wee bit of feta cheese to it...doesn't that sound TO DIE FOR?!).  Definitely needed that fresh infusion of good thought in the midst of my winter comfort-seeking mode. 

Since I know I've been really feeling the soups lately, I also picked up some of those soup mixes that make up 1/2 a gallon a time.  I'm thinking that will be less sodium and cheaper than the cans of chunky soup I like too much, while being less work than boiling up a whole chicken and doing all the other work involved with totally homemade soup.

In other news, it was a lovely warm 32 degrees this morning for my run, and I think I ran faster than usual.  I haven't checked my time in weeks (basically since getting my iphone for Christmas), but I think tomorrow I'll give it a look.  If my very unscientific time-counting method (counting the minutes out, 1 to 60, in my head, and keeping track of them in 3 rounds of 10 on my fingers) was right, I ran the usual distance but had 3 minutes to spare at the end.  I can hardly believe I was THAT MUCH faster - most of the issue was probably how hard it is for me to keep track of the count in my early morning brain non-function mode - but maybe I was a LITTLE faster.  Making a mental note now, and hopefully Wednesday morning my sleepy brain can remember to check the time before and after the run. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

an old familiar voice gets trumped, and old self-contempt is fading away

I'm headed to Chicago after work tonight to visit my friends at JPUSA for the weekend, and I'm pretty excited about that.  Last night when I was tucking into bed, an old, familiar voice piped up in my head.  It noted that I haven't yet completely packed for the trip (though I'm well begun).  I know this voice - it's been with me my entire adult life, and it always looks for a way to weasel out of good exercise/eating choices.  That was what it was up to last night, telling me I should probably skip the run and focus on packing this morning.

Here's the good part:  another, newer voice ALSO spoke up in me:  the voice of Karen who has been letting the Lord teach her to love her body for a full year now.  That voice wasn't angry or argumentative; it just noted calmly that skipping the run would NOT be loving my body, and we would NOT be exercising our option to skip.  All of this happened without me having to stop, pray, think, consider, fight - just a quick and no-nonsense NO to a voice of temptation that has held absolute sway over me for most of my life.  Let me tell you, I WAS IMPRESSED.  I like what the Lord is doing in me.

I was also thinking this morning that if one were measuring this "loving my body" goal by weight loss, it would look like a failure for the last little while.  I am still wearing the same size jeans now that I was wearing when I moved back from Chicago at the end of August.  I lost a little weight after my return, but I think since then I have found a bit of it again.  I know the "whys" of this long section of not losing weight:  I hardly bike at all in the cold weather and I haven't replaced my biking with another physical activity, plus the whole food thing is a little harder for me, living a life of doing my own shopping and cooking and cleanup, than it was at JPUSA.  I'm just flat not eating as well or as little as I was.  

BUT:  my goal in following the Lord's lead has NEVER been "I will lose weight."  It has been, "I will let Him teach me to love my body."  And while my weight has been more or less stable for about 5 months now, I still feel myself making great advances against self-hatred of this body.  I still feel an ever-growing appreciation, respect, and affection for this body that are so foreign to me I hardly know what to do with them.  I still feel like I am getting more and more *whole* every day.  The failure to lose weight is not making any dent in that.  I'm not feeling hopeless about picking up momentum again, when it's time.  I'm not feeling afraid that I'm going to go back up around the 275 pound mark where I was about 18 months ago.  I'm okay right here for now, and I have great hope that as I continue growing in loving my body, I will again come to the point of whittling it down to a healthier weight.  

Meanwhile, no panic, no self-loathing, no hopelessness.  Even if this is the ONLY fruit that ever comes from following the Lord on this one...it is more than enough.  End of story. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

sometimes getting girly-er is a good development

One of the developments in my life in the last year that has surprised me is that I've started doing my nails at 45.  I know a lot of you have been doing yours all along the way and wonder what's wrong with me.  But caring about my nails was never part of my life.  I mean, I kept 'em clean and pushed my ever-persistent cuticles back, but other than that the most effort I have generally made was keeping them cut pretty short. 

A lot of people keep their nails short and plain for practical reasons.  Truth:  my reason was not practical.  My reason was that I hated my body, despised it pretty much 24/7, felt hopeless about ever feeling good about the way I looked.  Not doing my nails was, FOR ME, just another expression of hatred.  I'm not saying that's the case for everyone who has short, plain nails - clearly there are A LOT of good reasons to keep 'em that way.  I'm saying that FOR ME, starting to do more than clip 'em off and drive on is a development toward caring for my body, expressing love toward it, and feeling hope that I am not just hopelessly contemptible. 

Sometimes, little things mean a lot.  Here's to smiling at my french tips. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

understanding daily a little more deeply, and a book speaks into the process

5 AM temp was back down to normal this morning at 21 degrees.  It was a good run.  I am continually surprised as I run at how I truly appreciate and admire (read: love) what this body is able to do when I'm out there.  I mean, I'm not a rock star.  But this body can go out and run for 30 minutes without stopping or even slowing down.  And it feels good.  I can feel the muscles in my legs, butt, torso...can feel them working as I go, and it feels good.  Even though I am still WAY up over the "morbidly obese" threshold.  

Loving my body is not about what size it is or how it looks.  A full year into following the Lord's lead on this thing, that truth is unlocking itself in me more every day.

Along the way, I read a review of a book over at the Burnside Writers Blog this past weekend that caused me to immediately order it.  The book is See Me Naked:  Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity by Amy Frykholm.  Stories of of struggles (with no neat, tidy endings or clear answers) of 9 North American Protestants with brokenness where faith and sexuality intersect.  The book came last night and I've read way over half of it already.  Lots in there about the inability to love one's body, abundance of shame, deeply believed destructive lies, dysfunction from sources that seem unknowably mysterious, and lots of well-meaning people being miserable while trying to get it right.

It's an interesting thing to be reading, amidst the Lord doing such a huge healing work in me on these fronts.  He does have interesting timing.  Maybe I'll have more thoughts on this some other day. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

january heat wave, and kindness as a battle tool

Apparently we're having some kind of bizarre heat wave this morning.  I got up at 4:25 for my run, since I had some extra stuff to do before work.  When I hit the weather on my iphone, it came up:  43 degrees.  I was pretty sure I had pulled the wrong location or my phone had broken or something.  But further checking showed it really WAS that warm.  Holy cow. 

I had already forgotten how much easier it is to run when it's warmer like that - fighting the cold, the snow, and the ice really IS a lot more work, slows me down and wears me out.  I ran faster today than I have in a little while.  My usual clothes were way too much.  I was unzipping my pullover shirt by the time I got to the top of the hill (not even running yet) and I was so overheated that I took off my headband for the final 5 minutes of the run.  If I hadn't had my little reflective vest on over it, I probably would have stripped out of the pullover and just run in my Underarmor shirt.  What a strange (and good) problem to have in January. 

Had a reminder this morning of the unfortunate and unkind ways people entertain themselves sometimes by pointing out others' physical imperfections.  I wanted to think it was just the result of people behaving badly because they are on FB (and we DO forget who we are there sometimes, eh?)  but really the thing I was noticing this morning is the same thing I can remember since way back in my early childhood.  Cracking wise about others' differences - it's one of those parts of the human condition that suck rocks. 

So this morning I am intentionally focusing my gratitude on the folks who know better, who can find ways to laugh without an expense to others, whose preset behavior is preserving the dignity of others, even in the small ways (and seeking to BE one of those).  Seems like a good place to intentionally start a week.

May kindness surround you, flow into you and out through you, and bash to smithereens the other stuff. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

snow ride! WOO HOOOOOOOO!!!

How's your weekend going?

Having had a crazy busy week, I decided today would be about rest.  Met with some friends in the morning, and ran out just long enough to pick up my dry cleaning and order that new bike seat I mentioned a few days ago.  Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows I then spent the next few hours blowing up the wall with posts of interesting stuff I read - I do love me some good reading time.  

Along about 3 PM, the sunlight streaming in my window suddenly caught my attention.  Though I had been admiring the snowy scene between reads, until then I hadn't pondered whether the weather was ride-able.  I checked the weather on my iphone.  21 degrees!  What was I doing inside on such a beautiful afternoon?!

I quickly threw on some warmer clothes, got my bike rack out of the trunk and loaded Lulu up to go to the bike path, lacking the courage to ride on potentially slick roads (I'm nervous about even driving my car amongst some drivers out there in "weather," you know?). 

I quickly discovered what I suspected would be true:  the bike path had not been cleared.  I don't suppose there are enough crazies in the QC to justify clearing the path.  Still, I needed to at least try!  Here are some scenes from the path:

You can see that those crazy runners have been through...
Going over the rough patches of ice under the railroad bridge, I slid and wobbled enough to pray "shrewish wife" "LORD!" prayers and He propped me up....whew...
I walked almost as much as I rode, doing my best (successfully) not to fall down and go boom.  If I'm going to do much more snow riding, I need to look into snow chains for Lulu's tires.
A few areas (the high, flat spots) were fairly clear of snow and ice.
Beauty, eh?
Here are some pictures of Lulu gettin' her sexy on:

There was one logistical thing I never did work out:  darned foggy glasses.  I need to order the terrorist mask SOON!

Don't you wish your gf was hot like me?

Friday, January 20, 2012

inaccurate thermometer reader, and give this chili a different name

I had a good laugh at myself when I got to work on Wednesday.  You might recall my remark about it being 27 degrees that morning when I ran.  Well, when I got to work, the little weather thingy on my computer screen said it was 3 degrees outside.  I was puzzled....how could it be 27 at 5 AM and 3 at 8 AM?  I'm not saying that NEVER happens, but it was a sunshiny day and the logic wasn't fitting.  So I opened the weather app on my iphone.  That's when I discovered that the first screen it opens to is whatever was up the LAST time I opened it.  Then it refreshes, and the accurate info comes up.  This explains the mystery of why the heck my nose was trying to frost shut on a 27 degree morning...cuz hon, it wasn't 27 degrees!  LOL  

So this morning I made sure to read the tiny, bifocal-unfriendly print at the bottom of the screen to see when it had last been updated.  At 5:01 this morning, the outdoor temp was 7 degrees.  

It was still a great run!  You can bet I didn't leave the face warmer behind, but I still just wore the same stuff I've been wearing all winter.  The only difference was that my warmup walk up the hill felt awfully chilly, and the air I was sucking through the mask was uncomfortably cold.  But once I got this body moving, it reliably produced the levels of heat that drive out cold breezes and even overcome frozen air as it's being inhaled through soggy fabric.  Yeah baby...I'm a living, breathing heat machine.  LOL 

In other news, I had fun cooking a different kind of soup last night.  I found a soup mix at the health food store called something like "Montana Range Wheat Berry Chili."  Sounds very rugged, eh?  I stayed with the rugged theme - my meat of choice for the soup was some ground elk my boss (the mighty hunter man) had given me.  In truth, I just bought this mix because it was such a strange concept that I had to try it.  Instead of beans, it has wheat berries in it...like, little perfectly round grains.  I don't get the point of that - after all, beans are INSANELY good for the body.  But the food adventurer in me took over and bought it anyway.  It's...not bad.  I'd love it more if it hadn't been named "chili" - one's taste buds have certain expectations, when that word is in play.  It's a nice soup, but I wouldn't call it chili.  I did my usual portion-control measure, once the whole pot was all cooked nicely and I had enjoyed a bowl...here is my soup supply for the coming week or so:

As any good Critical Mass rider likes to holler...HAPPY FRIDAY! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

disconnected but headed in the direction of repentance

I haven't been doing as well as I might lately, where it comes to eating.  Oh, I haven't been terrible.  I could DEFINITELY do much worse.  But the thing is, I haven't been seeking to really listen for God as I made decisions about what to cook, what to order, how much to take, when to put the fork down.  

Which is truly NOT SMART, since the deal the Lord and I have been working for a year now is that I will let Him teach me to love my body.  Lately I haven't been looking for that instruction, where food is involved.  Lately I have been feeling winter pressing in, and I have been seeking comfort.  So that's a double whammy - not keeping our deal, and also seeking comfort somewhere besides God.  Uhhh....NO...I need to not stay in this zone!

He's been very faithful in reminding me.  Today I'm writing about all of this, but I've felt Him nudging me on this topic for...uhhh....days?  Weeks?  Let's just say AWHILE.  If I were Him, I'd have given up talking to such a hardheaded lady.  I am so very grateful that He is not me and He has kept on talking.  
At last night's Bible study, we happened across Philippians 2:13: 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

Uhhh...yeah.  True.  Only I gotta be in receiving and obeying mode, and I've not been.  For AWHILE. 

Here's to repenting.  I don't know if I'm there yet, but happily, I'm headed in that direction.

O praise the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

an icy run, and a missing face warmer

This morning's run feature was:  ICE.  Apparently it was a little too warm yesterday amidst some of the snowfall and that froze into a nice solid sheet of ice on the side-street portion of the roads where I run.  Woo hoo!  So I stayed clear over next to the curb where there was a tiny bit of traction, and didn't worry myself about going pretty slowly.  The bigger main road didn't have any sheets of slick like that, but along the side where I run was kind of a mess.  Stuff that had thawed, been moved by plows, and then hardened into a rough, uneven mess.  I ran out more almost in the middle of road(and a lot faster) whenever no cars were in my lane, and then just went slow and easy if I had to get over and run on the bumpy ice.  So I guess it kind of ended up in intervals, sort of...but not with any structure.

I am not a good decision maker early in the morning.  Checking the weather, I saw that it was 27 degrees out.  That's 5 degrees warmer than many of my more recent runs, so I got it in my head that it was a fairly warm morning (for the record, more awake Karen knows that it needs to be at 32 or above to be a fairly warm morning).  So I left my face warmer home, cuz I don't like having to rip it off halfway through the run and carry it.  

When I stepped out of the apartment building, I pretty much immediately realized that was a mistake, but I am pretty lazy that early, too, so I didn't want to turn around and go back for it.  In the 5-minute warmup walk up the steep hill, I really thought I was gonna pay for that choice - the cold was pressing in to give me a headache, my nostrils were trying to frost shut a little bit, and I quickly realized that the facewarmer covers the bottoms of my ears in a way that my headband isn't so good about.  

But you know, once I got going, it was fine.  My body produces an insane amount of heat when I am running, and within less than a minute there was no more cold headache, no more frozen nostrils, no more chilly ears.  My throat isn't sore from cold air (probably because I have mostly learned to breathe in through my nose and out - rather explosively - through my mouth) and my cheeks aren't even very chapped from it.  Ahhh mercy.

Still, I am telling myself now and hoping my brain can recall this on other mornings:  under 32 degrees means WEAR THE FACE WARMER. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

woo hoo snowy run, and a morning of turbo-charged learning

This morning I feel like jumping up and down with my fists in the air - I managed my run outside this morning!  Even with lots of snow and less-than-clear roads, even with the temperature at 17 degrees, even with the winter wind pushing me around!  I have wondered all fall what *real* winter running would be like for me.  Would I be able to manage it?  I mean, I've been collecting the right warm clothes and reading stuff from winter runners and cyclists and I really love being outside, so it seemed like it should work.  But what if I just wasn't tough enough?  I already knew that running and other general exercise done indoors is, for me, but a pale shadow of the fresh air, the openness, the trees, the breeze, the quiet, the superiority of natural light and darkness that one can drink in outside.  A friend was trying to goad me into moving indoors earlier this week and the very idea was about as appealing to me as moving to an all toast-and-water diet.  Egh. 

Getting up the giant hill just outside my door was a bit more of a challenge with all that snow - I was breathing a little harder than usual by the time I fought through the snow drifts along the ditch (trying not to be in the way of the cars that needed to make their way down that wicked, steep, slick hill in the dark of the morning) but it was manageable.  I didn't run as hard as I usually do, as the snow and ice and unevenness under my feet required rather more carefulness than generally needed.  I'm very aware that I don't want to fall, especially in any way that might hinder me running again next week.  So I took my time and didn't beat myself up for not going very fast (but never slowed to a walk).  

My brain seems to be having one of those mornings where it snaps along at a pace faster than I can follow.  The Lord is opening up a bunch of different things inside of me, each largely unrelated to the other except for the detail that it seems clear it's the Lord's doing and not just me suddenly figuring stuff out.  Among the many pieces is a bit of transferring stuff I've learned well in this year of letting Him teach me to love my body....to my financial life, of all things!  Highly unexpected to me, though I don't know WHY I didn't expect it, since I've been specifically asking Him in the last 45 days to teach me how to manage my finances in a sustainable way (this is an area that has always been a struggle for me). 

Funny, how He works.  Think I'll let Him work some more.  

Happy snowy day, all! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

uhhh...TMI....why do i share these things?!...should this be rated PG?

A couple of weeks ago I was out for lunch with my kids and one of my son's friends, who also happens to be the awesome guy who does my bike maintenance and repairs.  He has ridden his bike all the way across the country.  I was sharing some of the challenges I want to meet (as shared over at my other blog on my dreams for 2012), but bemoaning the problem of overcoming uhhhhh "bike seat pain."  He just smiled, calling it "saddle sores" and told me to get some Chamois Butt'r and use it liberally.  At that point in the conversation, I realized this nice kid young enough to be my son was advising me on properly lubing my uhhhh bike seat area for the ride and I just kind of died of embarrassment and changed the subject (I'll bet YOU never get yourself into these situations!)  

I follow a Chicago bike email list related to the Critical Mass.  I didn't unsubscribe when I left Chicago, partly because I hope to continue riding the Mass from time to time, and partly because I learn so much from the posts that go up daily.  Cyclists share practical biking tips along with all sorts of activist news and such.  Today someone who commutes via bike pretty much every day of her life shared news (amidst a bike seat pain related thread that was mostly men talking, aptly named "Cycling or Erections?") that should dramatically increase the limits of how far I can ride - she shared about the Hobson Easy Seat.  Check it out:

I know, I know, I JUST GOT a new seat.  But that one is for Lulu (and for the record, it made a real difference in my comfort level.)  Lulu (my cruiser) is only a reasonable choice for my shorter rides, as in anything under about 25 miles.  Wilma (my road bike) is much better equipped for longer trips, for  myriad of reasons I think I've already shared here awhile back.  

I've been wondering how I'm ever going to ride longer than 50 miles.  While I have vaguely mentioned the woes of "bike seat pain" here, perhaps I haven't made the acuteness of this issue clear (mostly due to dying of embarrassment every time I try to discuss it!)  While a little 10 mile ride isn't much of a problem, on an *ordinary* bike ride day for me of, say, 20 miles, I come home sore from the seat.  Having avoided outdoor potties for the duration of the ride, I hurry in and as soon as I get to the restroom (where one can't help but sort of uhhhh "add salt to the wound")...YIKES the pain of the damage inflicted by the saddle generally makes me holler a little bit.  And then I can't bear to sit on a bike seat for a couple of days.

That's gonna be a problem, if I bike 60 miles with my JPUSA friend to Mississippi Palisades Park.  It's gonna mean I'll need maybe a couple of days of camping to recover enough to venture the ride home.  And how to do a century ride and still be able to walk afterward is really a question on my mind.

The 54 mile ride I did...oh BABY.  The involuntary restroom yell was rather more "top volume" than usual.  And even showering after that made me yell.  Um.  Several times!  And it made jeans just too uncomfortable to bear for a day or two. 

The thing is, to some degree a person can "toughen up" with persistent rides.  But...uhhh...there are some areas one would rather not exactly be *tough* if you know what I mean.  Not that it makes a difference in my life right now...but there's always the possibility that it COULD matter someday!  

So I'm excited about this Easy-Seat thing.  Maybe it'll work and maybe it won't....I've read that some people find it harder to balance without the nose of the seat between their legs.  So I'll hold on to the seat I have, just in case it doesn't work out.

But this payday...I'm ordering one! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

january bike ride and i am a fashion faux pas

Today was the 7th of January and I rode my bike in a sweatshirt.  My son had gotten me a new (very wide, very soft) seat for Lulu (since her original seat was broken and badly listing to one side), and had even installed it for me while he was here over the break. Since I'm kind of out of my biking groove, we kept it short at only about 18 miles.  

The seat is a little too high and pitched a little too far forward.  If I sat all the way up on it, I had to reach down with my tiptoes on the down stroke.  I kept sliding forward and having to stand on the pedals to push myself back up.  You know what?  Even with everything not working quite right...IT WAS AWESOME.  

When my son was buying me the luxury seat, I saw the cuuuuuutest helmet in the store.  It was yellow, with bright pink and neon green flowers.  While it might look funny when I'm on Wilma, it would ROCK on Lulu.  I didn't buy it that day.  But I'm probably going back for it sooner or later.  I think we can agree that Karen in a black headband with the current dorky helmet is...well....dorky.

Since I get cold so easily, I wore my running tights under my bike shorts and black stretchy pants.  A funny thing happened while I rode...the (full length) outer pants rode up.  And up.  Annnnnnd......up.  They seemed to like THIS position: 

Juuuuust call me sexy hot mama.  

So much for dignity!

Friday, January 6, 2012

cold hands, warm heart?!

Today's naked blog is a response to some Facebook comments - is that cheating?  I dunno...but the answer seems germane to the focus here, so off we go!

I shared this last night as I was going to bed:

Settling in to sleep. Hoodie, with hood up....check. Double-thick wool socks...check. Tonight's new addition: gloves....ohhhhh my hands are loving me right now. Snugglin' down under 2 heavy blankets...nighty night from the land of middle age....
Some thought this was an issue of my apartment thermostat.  Let me clarify!
When I was young, I loved to run around in bare feet in all weather.  If you stopped by my house in a deep January freeze, I was running around in sweats and naked toes.  If I just needed to run outside to the mailbox in March or November, I was as likely to do it barefooted as to bother with shoes.  I was comfy that way.  But in the last few years, my extremities aren't as tolerant of all temperatures as they once were.
This boils down to:  I generally don't do bare feet at all.  I need at least slippers and/or a blanket over my feet at all times.  I wear heavy wool socks to bed (sometimes with other socks underneath them), or they perceive cold as *pain* and keep me awake. (Equally strange, and I don't know if it's related:  in the last year or so, my feet have become mostly intolerant of the feeling of my bedcovers against them...it's kind of a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard thing...)
If you've sat very long with me anywhere, you may have noticed that I am constantly tucking my hands in my armpits, in my pockets, under my legs or butt...a 70 (or even 75) degree room feels great to the rest of my body (I keep my place between 70 and 75), but it makes my hands uncomfortably cold.  If it were socially acceptable and I wouldn't become some sort of mutant freak in the world's eyes, I'd wear gloves pretty much around the clock at all times other than the hottest part of summer.  
This is not a problem I can fix with the apartment thermostat.  If I got my hands and feet all the way warm with room temp, the rest of me would be busting out in massive sweat...I'd be living in a sauna.  
The hoodie, I've discovered recently, holds the heat from evaporating out of my head, which somehow (don't ask me how, I don't know) helps my hands and feet not to feel quite so cold.  So in the night I MIGHT toss off the covers on more than one occasion (and inevitably go chasing after them again), but even then, I'm not tempted to take the hood off.   Again, if it were socially acceptable, I'd probably wear a stocking cap around the clock most of the time as well (but I'm thinking that doesn't present well in the CEO's office, eh?)  
So I guess 45 is bringing me to the place of understanding why old folks keep their places so blasted hot - some of just age that way! 
Beware mocking...your turn might be next!  LOLOL 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

running on a day off, and percolating another blog soon

Yesterday I got the day off work (which was exceedingly sweet at a time when both of my kids are here at my house).  I slept in alllll the way to 7:30 (I can remember when that wouldn't have counted as "sleeping in" to me!) and then got up to get my prayer time in before others would be up.  

I was very surprised and pleased to discover that I was still able to get my butt up and out the door for a run afterward.  Even though I had slept in.  Even though it was already fully daylight.  Even though I was comfy and warm inside, and the frozen wind was blasting away outside.  Even though I was super excited about cooking breakfast for the kids.  Even though I had PLENTY of excuses to talk myself out of going outside for a run.  I still ran!  Woo hoo!  I love that evidence that this habit has taken real root in me. 

Though I've had a houseful of people and correspondingly not a ton of writing time, I AM dreaming some dreams for 2012.  That blog will come soon (though I think first I have one more 2011 blog to post over at clumsy beautiful life).

Today, it's back to work time.  Let's charge into 2012 with trust and joy, eh?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

looking back over my single 2011 resolution

I was pretty little when my mom taught me about where the best meat is on a steak:  that part that's attached to the bone.  You have to pick up the bone like some kind of barbarian and gnaw it off, scraping your teeth along the bone, to get the best of the best part of a good grilled steak.  Mmmmm.  Makes my mouth water, just thinking about it.  (Oh crud, I hope I didn't just lose my vegetarian friends...pleeeeez don't leave!  I'll be good!) 

The end of the year is like that for me.  One of my favorite pondering-and-writing treats is my end-of-the-year blog, where I turn the year's events over and over in my mind, looking for the lessons, the gifts, the laughs, the signposts of hope.  And being Karen, I cant help but share what I find there.  If you've read me for very long, you KNEW this blog had to be coming:  let's suck the last, best bit of goodie out of my 2011.  This is just the first (the "naked blog" part) of what looks to be at least 2 (maybe more?) year-end blogs for me.

I only made one resolution for 2011, and it came a full week into the year, as soon as I heard it from the Lord...such a huge resolution that I immediately decided it must stand alone, unfettered by further additions:  I resolved to let God teach me how to love my body.  Within a day or 2, I was more or less in a panic.  Love my body?! How was I supposed to do that?!  Loving my body wasn't even within the confines of my ability to imagine. 

That's when the Lord so gently reminded me that this was not at all about what *I was able* to do.  This was about letting Him work in me, letting Him teach me, letting Him lead me.  This was about surrender, not trying harder.  That has turned out to be a lesson I've had to learn over and over. 

It feels easier, after all, to make a plan.  Recently I went looking for a prayer journal.  I found several of mine from past years.  Each was from the beginning of a year.  Each had just a few pages filled in:  self-examination, criticism, and strong, concrete plans for how I would fix myself.  And then big fat ZERO follow-through.  I could only laugh, reading them and seeing my own arrogance and cluelessness. 

This wasn't like that.  Every time I was tempted to "make a plan," here came the Lord, swooping in to remind me to get my hands off it and follow Him.  I learned along the way that loving my body:

  • is a series of choices, not a collection of feelings
  • that good choices lead to good feelings, which lead to more good choices...and I have spent way too much time in my life letting bad feelings lead to bad choices, which just lead to more bad feelings
  • is only possible one second, one step, one spoonful, one growly belly at a time
  • is very tied up in the words I say and think to and about myself
  • is very centered in discipline
  • frequently requires choosing discomfort, and that discomfort is consistently well-rewarded, when I make the choice
  • is possible at 100 pounds overweight, and does not have to wait until the scale matches a doctor's chart
  • is absolutely do-able, even when I have stumbled - starting over is ALWAYS just a choice away
  • allows for tremendous freedom, right there within the construct of discipline

In 2011, I got a new perspective on how much food is enough.  I learned to be able to sit with hunger and other physical discomforts and just accept them.  I got up off the couch and learned how to run, not all at once, not in a big fat hurry, but slowly, gently, consistently, until I found myself changed from someone who joked that "running is against my personal policy" to someone who finds deep joy in getting her feet out on the pavement.  I went from very sedentary to being able to run about 2.5 miles without stopping or even slowing down.  I found that as I subjected my body to discipline, self-respect bloomed in me unexpectedly.  I watched my growing ability to be firm with myself spill over into a growing ability to be more candid with others. 

This journey of letting God teach me to love my body is not over, but it's certainly well begun.  I am excited about pressing further into it in 2012, and can't wait to see what else He will open up to my understanding as I go.