I am reading a book (thanks to DZ) right now about a woman who called herself  Peace Pilgrim.
This woman spent years of her life, from 1953 to 1981 walking over 25,000 miles from coast to coast spreading the message of peace.
One of the interesting things she said is that:
Death is a process of transformation to a freer living.
"Death is life's last great adventure and is a beautiful liberation into a freer life."
She said if  people could see deeper into life we would mourn birth and celebrate death.
I thought about this and can agree to an extent.
If your death is pretty quick and painless, and you have faith as to where your soul continues on to...
I can understand the liberating aspect--but for people that "transform" in a slow, debilitating and painful process--I don't know if I would be so quick as to call it a beautiful liberation into a freer life.

An hour ago, I was on the treadmill running 2 miles.
I was trying to beat my 2 mile-treadmill PR of 18:20 minutes plus I wanted to get my work out done quicker.
As I was pushing myself to the vomiting level at the 18 minute mark, I started feeling chest pains.
So as you see, although this time is nothing to sneeze at, today is not the day I beat 18:20.

I hope I don't get a heart attack trying to improve my time.
I know a guy--a really good man named Mike Joseph, Jr. --who died in 2013 while he was on a treadmill.
I also know another nice guy named Chim who died earlier that year, in the middle of singing karaoke.
But then again, if I could choose how to go, I guess I would rather I go pretty quickly--and if it is while I am on a treadmill running while singing karaoke--I would consider that a beautiful liberation into a freer life.
Just in case, I think I should really stop wearing ratty underwear.

updated: I just checked with "my cardiologist." Although not impossible, pain in the right side of my chest is highly unlikely to be a heart attack. It was most probably muscle pain.
(Yet another professional that has diagnosed my body pain to be due to poor running form.)

Coming up: I shall post more words of wisdom from Peace Pilgrim.
And some questions asked of me through the years, answered.


20 Minutes

In an effort to stay productive, I've been testing out a new format in my mornings.
I set my phone timer for 20 minutes and break up my schedule into 20  minute increments.
Even my prayer time I have sliced into 3 blocks of 20:
Not necessarily in this order, I set
20 minutes to listen (meditation),
20 minutes to read (my Bible),
20 minutes to write my prayers down.
I started writing my prayers, because I discovered that I can stay better focused when I write them down instead of when I mutter or think them.

I've split my workouts into 20's as well.
(this pace kills me btw, as I am much more comfortable with a 13 min/mile)
20 minute cardio, 20 minute weights.
Laundry folding and sorting-I try to get it done in 20.
House cleaning, (I gladly stop after 20 minutes)
Emailing and Facebooking....20.
Needless to say, I find myself being more productive.

The other day, I was feeling so productive and UMOTY-ish (thanks SL)  that I even made homemade Broccoli and Cheddar soup for the first time in my life.
I was so proud of it that I kept milking my family for compliments.
Finally K mentioned that I am the complete opposite of Chinese ladies, that downplay the excellent meals they make by saying their dish may need more soy sauce....
What can I say, I ain't chinese.
But then again, I really believe that when one becomes inspired enough to create, (or in this case, cook) you feel like bursting...(or bragging).
Speaking of creating, (or bragging)  the extreme cold has given the girls a couple of school cancellations.
I was very proud to announce to my FB world that during the days off,
G took it upon herself to create something with a friend:

Creative juices overflowing...when she ran out of canvas...she turned her art on the dog:

Full Disclosure: If my kids had their way, (especially G, who seems addicted to Netflix) they would lie on our kitchen floor and watch TV all day...
And now my 20 minutes to write on this blog is up.


"Dancing With God"

When I meditated on the word Guidance,

I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word

And I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.

The movement doesn't flow with the music,

And everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.

When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,

Both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back

Or by pressing Lightly in one direction or another.

It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness,

And attentiveness from one person

And gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.

When I saw 'G': I thought of God, followed by 'u' and 'i'.

'God, 'u' and 'i' dance.' God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust

that I would get guidance about my life and once

again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings

And mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.

May you abide in God, as God abides in you.

Dance together with God,

Trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.



This Trip Was Planned Before I Decided To Host A Party For Steve.

Less than a week after Steve's birthday, we left for a family vacation to Florida.
I was not really ready to go on a trip, as my nature is to recharge under many blankets after a big event.
I recharge best at home.  In my own bed.
But I decided to do the  "don't dread, don't dwell"  on this and to be grateful for the opportunity to get to the beach in the dead of winter.
K and G were very excited.
We went with JB/MB and their three teens.
Plus,  two buddies of Steve from Punxsutawney (one lives 3 hours away from where we were, and the other 45 mins away) were planning to meet up with us as well.
Unfortunately, soon after we got there, Steve who was already feeling under the weather--got very sick. He was able to go to the beach on thursday and a bit on friday--have a nice visit with his friends friday night--but by saturday he was down with what seemed like pneumonia.
He had to stay in bed for three whole days--while the rest of us enjoyed the beach.

The thing is, this is not the first time Steve has gotten sick during vacation.   A few days later,
just when I was tempted to start taking this personally, DZ sent me an interesting article about people that get sick on vacation--
It made sense to me.
And so now, in retrospect, instead of thinking that our vacation was spoiled by his illness, I realize that perhaps it was a good time as any for Steve to have the opportunity to be sick in peace.
Steve being sick meant MB's time was devoted solely to JB so JB/MB got quality one-on-one,
the five teens had fun with each other and I was able to get an unlimited fill of the ocean.
(which I absolutely love.)
While at first I thought that I needed my own bed to recharge from life's busyness--I was wrong.
The beach is where I needed to be.
I am recharged and ready for more living.

This is me begging "just one picture!!!"
5 miler on the beach.  Barefoot.  I did not mean to go this far--but I because I was praying that Steve would recover or at least improve enough to catch our tuesday morning flight, I decided to shoot for the rocks at the end of the beach.  I didn't realize how difficult it is to run that far on sand.  I pretty much had to walk, jog, walk, hobble and limp home after the third mile. 
Here's the photo proof that I made it to the 2.5 mark...


10 Lessons Learned From Steve's 50th:

“Be careful not to let yourselves become occupied with too much feasting and drinking and with the worries of this life, or that Day may suddenly catch you."
~Luke 21:34

1."Drop off Catering" means to order food from a catering service, where they deliver it but don't serve it.  Say this at the very beginning of your inquiry so that the catering people don't make pushy appointments to do a home inspection. (True story: I had to cancel a company because they wanted to do a site evaluation of my house. drop off catering, drop off catering...remember that term.)
The caterer that didn't need to give my home a rectal, got the job and they were excellent. (thanks ck)

2. 10 cases of beer, 4 cases of wine and 10-12 bottles of various liquor is sufficient for 80 people.

3. For a special event like a 50th b-day, splurging on a bartender and two servers is worth it.

4. Throwing a party is a very good motivator to clear the house of clutter.

5. Prepping the house for the party, has saved the rabbit's life.  The rabbit's relocation from our dining room to our second floor turned out to be a good move.  Now that G has to navigate around his large enclosure to get to her bedroom or bathroom, she remembers to feed and water him.

6. Knowing that you will host a dozen people to stay over after the party, forces you to really clean well, or get creative in disguising your mess.

7. Speaking of creative and unusual, setting up food in an unlikely place (our basement ping-pong room) prevented a bottle-neck sich.  In the unlikely event of another party this large,  it is good to remember to think outside the box.

8. It is good to stay sober if you are hosting a large party, so that if your teenager defies you in the middle of her dad's 50th bday celebration, i.e. does not come home at the assigned time, don't freak out. Just jump in the car and get her. (#sogladIwassober)

9. Do set aside the desire to wring the daughter's neck until after the last guests departure the next afternoon, because you must:

10. Be ready to sing karaoke or play ping pong after the party until 4 am.

Glad you had a Happy Birthday, Steve.



I am not really a back-to-back kind of event participant.
My nature is to want to recharge in-between gigs.
But in the words of The Rolling Stones, 'we can't always get what we want..."

Steve wants to do a "Winterfest" up at the camp 90 miles away.
I want to stay home to clean and organize (and curl up into fetal position)
K wants to hang out with friends and then participate in a track meet 100 miles away (not in the same direction) first thing tomorrow.
While G wants a belated birthday celebration with eight friends at the camp during aforementioned Winterfest.
So, how does this living consciously work when my family seems like an exploded bag of nuts?
I guess after speaking up, the next step is to allow life to happen.

This is an experiment for me.
My old self would have stood my ground or decided to stay home.
But my newish self attempting a conscious life,  is experimenting with going with the flow and trusting that with good intentions, all will be well.

I've entrusted the 16 year old to someone I lend my good air-matresses to. (and I don't just lend those out freely)
I will shed the idea that I am not really ready to host a 14th birthday party at the property
and instead, I am going to embrace this Winterfest idea.
Ice skating and ice hockey on a pond, hiking and ATV rides through the cold, bonfire building in different areas, sledding...(which reminds me, we don't have sleds...)
And food,  I must go and get food...

Life is too short to keep resisting.
I shall take care of these eight other "air-matresses" entrusted to my care to help G belatedly celebrate her birthday.
I am hoping to prove that another key to a happy peaceful life is to just always do one's best, while surrendering the outcome.

And I take strength in this Bible verse:
"But his answer was: "My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak."
I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me."
-2 Corinthians 12:9


Went To See American Sniper Last Night.

20 minutes into it, Steve got paged.
He left to do an emergency, and since I was already hooked,
I decided to stay.
The movie ended at 9:30 pm.
It was slightly snowy and sleety and 34 degrees cold--
Since I had no car, I jogged home.

(1.6 miles)

But I was not wearing running clothes.
It was a spontaneous decision to go (and to stay)
I was literally wearing my sleeping clothes that I never changed out of.
A ratty T shirt (no bra)
A sweatshirt, boy sweatpants from XC lost-and-found, my old corduroy coat and Uggs.
Oh and a ski hat.

The first and last time I went to the movie theater on foot was to see Silver Linings Playbook.
Coincidentally, both movies had Bradley Cooper starring in it.
It was a very good movie, and that I got a bit of cardio in,  even better.
But this new ability of mine to not shy away from walking/running in the cold is the best.

We are never too old to change what we think we can do.


Where Do Poinsettias Go To Die?

Last Christmas was my first year to purchase holiday plants.
While a fresh garland, wreath or tree is already dying due to being cut from its source, a poinsettia plant can keep going way past its due date.
I've never had this conundrum before.
Tonight is trash night and I want to throw them away.
But I won't.

It feels too much like tossing out leftovers before they go bad.
I don't do that either.