Tuesday, February 01, 2011
February first. I have not been as happy to see a month end as I was this January. It was a very tough month on many levels. I did not make my fitness goal last month, so I just set the same goal for this month. THEN I remembered that February is shorter than January.
What's the big deal, you say? My February goal is 1500 fitness minutes. That means, with "only" 28 days, I must put in a hair over 53 minutes every day. If I don't, those minutes roll over until I catch up!
I got in 57 minutes today. Not much in the way of cardio, but I feel so good to have met this goal today.
My nutrition numbers are all over the map. Within range in most metrics, over on a few and under in a few.
Nothing else has changed. Fear of the future, of my financial situation, job, etc. But I can change none of those things tonight, so I will enjoy the feeling of this one success.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The speech I delivered today:
She Who Sings Prays Twice
Today, I invite you to step into my imaginary time machine for a short trip back to the early 1970s.
We are all teenagers for this journey and we are going to Albuquerque, New Mexico to a two-story red brick building built in the shape of an H with a rambling two story faux adobe building behind it. Together, these buildings comprise the campus of Harwood Girls School, a Board of Missions school for the Methodist church.
When I first arrived, I was chronologically 13 years old, but emotionally about 6. Who should I meet on that very first day of school but the music teacher, Winifred Wrisley. An older student introduced us and told me that Miss Wrisley could teach me to sing and to play the piano.
Remember this is only a few years after 1969, famously known as the summer of love. The teachers at Harwood have served in the Peace Corps, been missionaries around the world and have come to teach with a sense of mission. This is also a time when folk music was beginning to be used in youth church services and church sanctuaries began to reflect that influence. The music room at Harwood has burlap banners with words made from felt letters. One of them says “She who sings prays twice”.
Miss Wrisley had a rule and told us that we should leave our troubles at the door because the music room was for making music. Picture all your troubles in a backpack, she said, and leave that backpack outside the door. You can choose to pick it up when you leave.
She made the music room an oasis for me. I sang every day. Being in the choir meant traveling to churches all over the Land of Enchantment for Sunday performances. The school had 13 pianos and I played every one of them. I had my favorites, but I made sure each piano was played. Every morning, we gathered outside the dining hall for grace. I played the only song I knew every day until an older student said, I don’t know if I’m coming downstairs for breakfast or going to heaven. The song was “Jacobs Ladder”.
Three years later, Miss Wrisley sent me a letter over the summer with the sad news that she would not be returning to Harwood. She needed to stay in Vermont and take care of her mother. I was heartbroken and could not imagine the music room without her. But I continued the piano and voice lessons for the last two years of high school. We remained friends, exchanging letters full of music, often with church bulletins. Miss Wrisley was a lay minister for several small churches in rural Vermont and gave music lessons. I had the chance to visit her in Vermont. We visited Lake Champlain, Waterbury Circle (home of Ben and Jerrys), site of the Trapp Family resort (of “Sound of Music” fame), the church that sent missionaries to Kalaupapa leper colony. It had wood carvings on the outside of the church that told the story of Father Damien at the colony. I had the privilege to interview a friend of hers who told me about being at Hickam Field on the morning of December 7th, 1941. He gave me a picture that he took that morning of a plane flying overhead.
Miss Wrisley retired in Asheville, NC at the home that the Methodist Church ran for retired ministers and qualified laypeople. Through the years, our cards and letters continued. One year for her birthday, I cross-stitched a wall hanging with colorful wild flowers and the saying from her music room “She Who Sings Prays Twice”. I backed it with yellow fabric and trimmed it with red ribbon, the colors of the New Mexico flag. She told me that, when she died, it would come back to me. My Christmas letter for 2010 included the news about my summa cum laude AA in Paralegal Studies and a thank you for the music she had sent recently.
The response to that card was a letter from the property manager that Miss Wrisley died shortly before Thanksgiving. I could not sing for several days after that – my throat was choked with tears. We had known each other for nearly 40 years.
As we board my imaginary time machine and return to the present, the years creep back and we are here now. I hope you are now thinking of people who have had a profound impact on your life and are in touch with that inspiration. My talisman is a banner that says “She Who Sings Prays Twice”.
Yesterday, I hinted that tonight's blog would explain a comment a made about today being a date of great personal significance. My older brother would celebrate a birthday today were he still alive. He died when we were teens. He lived a hero and died a hero. We were the only children from our parents' marriage to each other. Shortly after I was born, Mother went home to New Mexico and Dad was in Europe fulfilling his US Army commitment. Mother married her high school sweetheart and they had four girls. I was at least 10 years old before I knew he was not my dad. When we were very little, my brother and I shared a room and were very close. I was Mother's outlet, her punching bag. My brother was the only one who could talk her down and stop or shorten the abuse.
At the end of my 8th grade year, circumstances sent me to live with my father and his new family in Alaska. I was not allowed to hug my brother or speak to him as I was hustled out the door. Two weeks later, while on a Boy Scout expedition, a rafting trip, he lost his life. The scouts encountered rough water and fallen trees and decided to leave the river, hike and get back in the water at a different point. My brother was already on shore and saw that a younger, smaller boy was still in the water. My brother went back into the water, gave the boy his life preserver and, as the current carried them downstream, both boys struggled with the water and hypothermia. Between the two of them, they had the strength to get the younger, smaller boy to safety but my brother drowned. A few days later, some campers came across some of the boys covered in campfire ash. That was the first that anyone knew there was a problem. Rangers rounded everyone up and that was how they discovered one boy was missing. They dragged the river and, days later, found my brother.
My brother had what they used to call traumatic autism. It was a miracle that he reached out and saved this boy, so they say. But he had always been my hero and always will be. Because he loved to play the guitar, my mother had this put on his marker: "Destiny asked will you be a hero? He answered singing gladly, yes."
I had fleeting thoughts of changing the speech I delivered today. I was unprepared for the emotional toll that giving that speech on my brother's birthday after the week I just had.
In terms of my SparkPeople journey, today was at least one step backwards. I had a healthy breakfast. Then came the announcement that a contractor was leaving at the end of the day. They had a going away soiree for her which meant homemade banana, cranberry and applesauce breads. I walked away from them at first, but they were there all day and I walked back. I tried most of them and skipped my healthy lunch. (I know!). I was really stressed with work so I was not hungry at lunch time, but I ate some of the breads in the afternoon. Small pieces, but, still. I am not so far along on my journey that I can flirt with that kind of food!
I am so scared that I will be laid off. I am so stressed about finances. I feel completely overwhelmed about everything! And, in the ironies of life, I found my lost glasses. I lost them a few weeks ago and have been using my old prescription. I spent the last of last year's FSA (flex spending account) dollars for the eye exam and, just this past Saturday, ordered and paid for my new glasses. That transaction ate up more than half of my FSA budget for this year! Yikes!
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Day one of my 2nd year on SP was stressful and exhausting. But, to put it in context, I have to recap the week.
The widow of our founder died early in the week. Then a senior scientist died while on vacation in Hawaii. I had done some work with him last fall. The new attorney starts next week in Charlotte. Another attorney gave his notice (his last day is next week) and they posted job ads for two attorneys. One will be in our Knoxville office. That attorney will work with my group. In that group, I am the only one still in California. The next day, a new job posting for a government contract negotiator was announced - also in Knoxville.
That posting brought me to tears because I thought, from my present position, that would be a natural path. My boss said I could apply, the company would not pay for me to move to Knoxville (I would have to) and he hinted that I am not experienced enough and am not what he is looking for. I will not apply.
Today, someone in my department was promoted to a senior contract negotiator position and, in that announcement was the statement that eventually all of the governmet contract work will be in Knoxville, including the audit function, which is what I support in California. There is no timetable, but I can read between the lines that, eventually, the work I do will be there. If the company won't move someone from CA to TN for a position more advanced than mine, doing so for my position is completely out of the question.
And I still have not heard a word about my application for the paralegal position. I am sure it's because of all these organizational changes (and there are more that are not in my group).
I came in this morning after a fourth consecutive night of not sleeping, emailed my boss and told him he could approve my timecard and listed my tasks for the day. Almost as soon as I hit "send", the chaos began. I did not get anything done on my list, but I was busy all day. Everything I touched required more research or work or time and it was very frustrating.
I had set a goal of 1500 minutes this month and will not make it. I was starting to work on getting upset and down about that and then realized that it is unrealistic. I was sick for a good part of the month and had very little energy. I give myself permission to miss that mark this time.
I have been HUNGRY the last few days, increasingly so. My food tracker tells me I am not eating enough. I have been ignoring that message for months. But the margin is getting to be significant. My goal is to burn 430 and I burned over 1200.
Reluctantly, I increased my nutritional range. We'll see how that goes. Last time I did that, I started gaining big time.
Whatever I accomplish this month is light years ahead of whatever I did last January. I signed up on SP a year ago yesterday, but it took me a while before I was on every day and really working it. I will enjoy challenging myself each month this year to do more than I did a year ago. Whatever my numbers were last February, they will be much better this February! This will be fun!
I suspect I will be tested on my assertion from yesterday's blog that this year will be about fitness and health and far less about the numbers on the scale and tape measure.
Please, if you have insights about changing nutrition metrics as you increased exercise, I am all ears!
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