We Survived Atlanta Mania!

This past weekend, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend Atlanta Mania, a conference for the fitness industry held in Atlanta.  Gary and I arrived a day early so we could each be certified to teach new classes.  Gary was certified in Schwinn Indoor Cycling, and I was certified in Tabata Bootcamp.

Tabata

My Tabata course was tough!  Over the course of the day, we didn’t spend an extreme amount of time working out, but the workouts we did were intense.  When I went in, I thought I was in decent shape; by the end of the day, I’d changed my mind.  Every inch of my body ached; I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  It was much like an education training in that we received so much information, and then we had to figure out how to implement the program upon our return to the real world.  I was frustrated because there were some exercises I couldn’t do, or I couldn’t do the entire time, so I wondered how I was supposed to teach it.  I never expect people with whom I am working out to do anything I can’t or wouldn’t do.  I had a lot to work on!  Then I began to wonder if I was in over my head.  I had three more days of classes – workouts – and feared I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

bosu

Friday morning my first class was Bosu.  We used the Bosu balance trainers (left).  I wasn’t in a very good mood when the class began, but the instructor, who was a buff lady, was incredible.  She made the workout fun, and worked us hard.  By the end of the class, my mood had improved tremendously, and I was ready to take on the day (more often than not, a good workout will do that!).

Later in the day, I spoke with one of the other instructors from the gym, and she told me she took a Tabata class, and she couldn’t do everything either.  That made me feel much better because she is in terrific shape, and she is young!  Speaking of age, there were people of all ages at this conference.  It was so motivating to see men and women older than I who were in fabulous shape.  I have this weird obsession with arms and shoulders.  I just love beautifully sculpted arms, not body-builder-steroid-ingesting muscles, but toned and shapely arms.  I saw plenty of them in Atlanta.  I want arms like that, but have never gotten into a routine that would bring about those results.

arms

On Friday, I also went to a Flirty Girl Fitness class.  I chose this class because it is dance fitness, and I thought I could get some choreography to use in Zumba.  While the instructor was great, and I did like some of the moves, overall it just wasn’t for me.  It was just what the title implies – flirty.  That isn’t me.  Some of the moves were just too cutesy.  On Sunday I tried a 2-Fly Fitness class, which is also dance fitness.  I lasted through two songs.  It was a hip-hop style dance.  As soon as I walked in and saw the girls with the crotches of their pants to their knees, I began to question my choice.  I knew not to judge on appearance, so I gave it a chance.  Once the music started, I didn’t like it either, so I stayed for two songs, and decided my knee had had enough, and I didn’t really want to work up yet another sweat doing something I didn’t like at all.  I took two different Zumba classes, and if I can remember any of the choreography, I will work it into our songs.

kettlebell

The class I most feared was HIIT Kettlebell.  I know the limits of my upper-body strength, and thought I would struggle to even lift the kettlebell, let alone swing that sucker around.  The instructor was the same woman who taught the Bosu, so when I walked in, I immediately relaxed.  I learned that the strength needed in kettlebell comes mostly from one’s legs, not the arms.   It ended up being one of my favorite classes.  I got a DVD and bought a new kettlebell so I can practice at home.  I will likely use this as a station in boot camp (after I improve at it!).

Mindy Mylrea is the developer of Tabata Bootcamp, and was my instructor on Thursday.  This woman has been in fitness over 30 years, and is a dynamo.  She is knowledgeable, entertaining, and energetic.  I took a few more of her classes over the weekend.  One of my favorites was a kids’ fitness class on Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.  It was a blast!  She had so many incredible ideas to get all kids involved in fitness.  I think that the 100 adults had as much fun playing the games as any kids would.  We pretended to be animals, closed our eyes and wandered around trying to locate our partners, and dragged each other around on the floor.  I learned several games and activities that I will use with my eighth graders.

I also took four lecture classes (I signed up for five, but skipped one due to exhaustion).  Three were on nutrition, which we all know, I NEED! The first one was very scientific, and being an English teacher, much of it was over my head.  He talked about the specific molecular process of breaking down certain foods.  He was very knowledgeable, and I did take away some important information, but I was just too tired to process biology.  Gary and I took a class called Meals and Musings.  The man who was the keynote speaker taught that class.  We learned about healthy foods, but he also cooked throughout the class.  Those of you who know me well, know I am not one to try new foods.  I don’t like many veggies, and I like my food pretty bland.  Gary leaned over and asked if I was going to try the lentil soup.  Yup.  I was puttin’ on my big-girl panties and actin’ all adult.  And, Surprise, I liked it.  He gave us the recipe, so I might even try to make it someday.

On Sunday, I took a class on successful weight-loss.  It was interesting, and not as scientific as the other nutrition class.  I need to go back through my notes, but I think that what I learned will aid in helping our Biggest Loser teams.  Our last class of the conference was about addiction.  The instructor taught about exercise, tobacco, alcohol,  drug, and sugar addictions.  It was a good course; she offered information on what goes on chemically in our brains that cause additions.  I determined I am addicted to caffeine.  As I write this, I sip Diet Mt. Dew.

That was our experience in a nutshell.  We returned home with loads of information, new ideas, and sore muscles.  But we also returned with renewed excitement to help others discover the joy and benefits of fitness.  Poor Addison has bore the brunt of our newfound knowledge.  I am constantly saying, “Hey, try this!  It’s really hard, but an awesome exercise!  No, really!  Get down on the ground and let me do push-ups and tricep dips on your back, and then you can do them on mine!”

If you get a chance, get on YouTube and look up Beyonce’s ‘I Was Here’.  The keynote speaker, Lawrence Biscontini, used this in his presentation.  It is about leaving your mark on the world; I will be sharing it with my eighth graders this year.  It’s an amazing reminder that we need to do for others so that when we leave this world, those left behind know we were here!

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Super Crazy Fitness

This is it…the week we have planned for all summer…the week will will find out what we’re made of.  On Wednesday, Gary and I will leave for Atlanta, and will participate in Atlanta Mania, a fitness conference.  I have been to conferences for the beauty industry, the Atlanta Gift Market, and education conferences.  They required nothing of me except my attendance and eagerness to absorb new knowledge.  The days might have been tiring because we sat in classes all day, but we could rest up at night, and hit it again the next day.

This will be quite different.  This will push us to our physical limits, which are likely beyond where I really want to go.  On Thursday, Gary and I will both become certified to teach new classes – Gary will be certified to teach spinning, and I will teach Tabata Bootcamp.  The bootcamp classes at the gym will be thirty minutes long, and will include several different exercises that we will do at an intense level for a short period of time.  This is HIIT (high intensity interval workout), which works all body parts in short bursts, and increases caloric burn.  There is no one in this area who offers Tabata Bootcamps, so I am really excited about the potential.  (For those interested, the classes will begin in September, and will be early morning – 5:30 – classes.  Stayed tuned for more info in the coming weeks.)

Wednesday evening, the rest of the crew from Everbody’s will arrive in Atlanta.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we are all taking a variety of classes.  Most classes require working out.  Despite my attempts to be physically fit – okay, buff – I am really a wimp.  I have very little upper body strength.  My hope is that I will develop some by doing Tabata on a regular basis.  I have a Tabata Bootcamp feed on Facebook, and they always post pictures of new groups of trainers.  I always check them out, and it appears every single one of them is young and ultra-fit.  None appear to be grandmothers; I am a grandmother.  I hope they have mercy on me!

I signed up for classes such as kettlebell (those suckers are heavy), Zumba Sentao (even though I am an instructor, those classes are super hard when the badass instructors teach), and more bootcamp classes.  I also signed up for a Flirty Girl Workout.  Really.  Somehow I think I will be the oldest person in that class!  I signed up thinking I could learn some new choreography to incorporate into my Zumba classes.  Or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all.   I cannot begin to imagine how much Aleve we will go through.  I did sign up for a couple lecture as well; they will be a welcome break from the sweatfests.  I am even taking a nutrition class.  Those of you who know me know that I desperately need to improve my nutrition.  Perhaps I will come home and revamp my eating.  Or not.

So, this weekend when you’re cleaning house, boating, or camping, think of me.  I will be whining and struggling to fit in with all the buff instructors.  Most will probably be young enough to be my children.  When you see me Monday, and I am unable to move, you’ll know why.  I will have challenged myself.  I will have set my age aside and worked my tail off.

About running…I am still attempting to run a little while I await surgery.  My friend Jackie and I ran and walked a total of six miles Saturday, and then I ran three miles last night with some walking added in between.  This morning I met my friend Caroline, and she and I walked and ran two miles.  My knee hurts, but I want to keep moving.  I am going to walk with Jennifer before Zumba, and walk again with some of my Zumba group after class.  I will certainly get the miles in today.  I still miss running.  Even on these hot, sticky days, I want to run.  I know (well, I think) I will run again in time, but my patience is gone.  It’s frustrating when I am trying to do something healthy, and can’t.  As much as I have pushed others to persevere, even when it’s so stinkin’ hard, I know I cannot just quit.  I have to do everything in my power – including surgery – to run again.

If I can move my fingers, I plan to blog each evening we are at the conference.  And you know me, you’ll get an honest picture of how it’s going.  Now get off the computer or phone, and go do something active.  Don’t know what to do?  There’s a pretty awesome Zumba class at 6:30 at the Schergens Center.  Try it out!

Just Passing the Time…

…until my knee surgery, which is August 2.  The doctor plans to scrape behind my knee cap to clean up the arthritis, and repair my IT band.  It is by no means major surgery, and the nurse said I will be able to walk normally after about a week.  It is really more of an inconvenience than anything.  I wanted to go with my daughters to take my grandson to Holiday World, but I won’t be able to walk around, and I won’t be able to drive for several days.  I won’t be able to teach my Zumba classes for a month; I will miss my classes terribly.  My new eighth grade classroom is on the third floor of the junior/senior high, so the steps will be tricky.  That being said (written?), it’s a small price to pay to be able to run again.

Gary and I, along with other instructors from Everbody’s Fitness, are going to Atlanta the last weekend of July, and since we will be working out all day for four days in a row – yes, WORKING OUT FOR FOUR STRAIGHT DAYS – I had to schedule my surgery for after that, but before the start of school.  So, for the next three weeks, I will continue to teach Zumba, attend some classes at the gym, and attempt short runs.  I probably shouldn’t bother to try to run, but on beautiful summer days, it is what I want to do, whether it is wise or not.

Today was one of those days.  I hadn’t exercised for the last two days, and I had eaten more than my fair share of crap:  doughnuts (What else is one to eat at 6:00 a.m. during a yard sale?), Wendy’s (We were hungry again by 11:00, and Wendy’s is quick and cheap), pizza (dinner after getting ready for yard sale), fried fish, and a couple desserts after church today.  All of that was consumed in less than 48 hours!  After church, we attended a brunch for our new minister, and then I crashed on the couch for an hour.  I had been attempting to take a nap for the past two days, and it just never worked out.  Today, I was taking a nap.  Afterward, I felt like a toad.  A giganto, green, puffed-up toad.  All of the junk food weighed heavily on my belly, and as I was painting our French doors, I was contemplating exercise.  The only thing that sounded appealing was going for a run.  It was 90+ degrees, but running outside was what this bloated body needed.  Gary had a workout at the gym, so I rode in with him, turned on my favorite playlist, and took off toward the river.

We are so blessed to have such a beautiful river walk in our small town.  It is one of my favorite places to run or walk.  I had no idea how far I could run before the pain set in, so I went with no goal in mind.  I knew I had about an hour to run/walk, so I cranked up the music and ran.  When I had gotten to one mile, my knee still felt pretty good.  The problem is that even though my knee was okay, my endurance was not.  After working for four years to build up my running endurance, it is so disappointing to know that once I get the go-ahead to jump back into running after surgery, I will be starting all over.  When I had a hysterectomy two years ago, I only had to go six weeks without running, which was hard enough.  I have hardly run for the past three months, and it will be another six weeks before I can really get back into running, and that’s assuming surgery goes well.  I can say without a doubt that I will put in the time to build my strength back up.  I love running enough that even though it will be very difficult, I know the time and effort will be worth it.  I need running to relieve stress, to spend time with my best friends, and to get in the workout that best suits me.  I need running to feel strong, confident, and accomplished.  It is such a part of who I am, and I can’t imagine giving it up.

Once I reached the one mile mark, I continued on since I was still pain-free.  My knee became a bit achy after that point, but I was able to make it to about 1.6 miles before it became unbearable. I walked a couple blocks (walking doesn’t hurt at all), and then proceeded to run again.  I then set a goal of running two miles.  I ran to about 2.15 miles, and then had to stop again.  I went to 2.15 because there were several people sitting outside at Frostop, and I didn’t want to stop and walk in front of them.  If you are a non-runner, you likely think that sounds really crazy.  If you are a runner, I would bet you’ve done it before!  I planned to walk the rest of my time out, but after a little more than a half mile of walking, I wanted to run again.  I ended up running 3 miles, and even though there were walking breaks interspersed, I was thrilled to get some running in.  When Gary and I got back in the car, my temperature gauge read 93 degrees!  No wonder it was so hard!  It probably wasn’t very intelligent to run during the hottest part of the day, but that’s what runners do.  We push the limits because we can.  Or we think we can.

I will continue to try short runs just to try to stay in some type of running shape.  I am praying that this surgery does the trick, and I can spend fall and winter gaining back what I have lost.  I miss participating in races, and though I have thought about future racing opportunities, I won’t make plans for a race because that would just make it more disappointing if I am unable to run.

So, I will continue to wait, and you can bet that I will keep you posted on the progress.  The last time I had surgery and made a comeback to running (that makes it sound like I am a pro athlete), I wrote my ebook Grandma Wears a Running Skirt.  Who knows?  Perhaps if I have a lot to say, and an interesting experience, I will write another one.  Grandma Wears a Knee Brace?

Only One (really stupid, major) Glitch…

As I posted last weekend, my husband, daughter, and I spent the long weekend visiting family and friends throughout Northern Indiana and Illinois.  It was a non-stop-cram-it-all-in kind of weekend, but I regret nothing.  Almost nothing.  The one regret I will get to in a later paragraph.

Our first stop was at Dewart Lake (well, actually it was at the outlet mall, but I know no one wants to read about our shopping excursion, no matter how great the bargains were).  Our wonderful friends, the Rectors, live at the lake.  We had a fantastic visit, and were able to see the whole family.  We talked about old times; I learned more about my father; and we caught up on what is presently going on in our lives.  Peggy, Addison, and I enjoyed sitting out on the deck watching fireworks that were being set off all around the lake.  It was a beautiful evening free from the heat and humidity of Southern Indiana.

The next morning, after a walk with my friend Missy and a little more visiting, it was time to head west.  We stopped in Hammond, my birthplace, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Miner Dunn.  The restaurant, known for their burgers, literally hasn’t changed since I moved away in 1978.  The food was excellent; the lack of cleanliness was a bit disappointing.  Regardless, I had my cheeseburger, fries, and orange sherbet. I always dip my fries in my sherbet, which my family finds odd, but I love.  Our next stop was a huge Cabella’s in Hammond.  Although I am never thrilled to go to a hunting store, I have to admit that this store was pretty cool.  There were displays of animals everywhere, and Addison and I explored the tents and took goofy pictures.  We also found a shooting game, that surprisingly, I was rather good at.

Hammond is about 30 minutes from Chicago – if there were no traffic.  That is never the case.  It took us about three hours to arrive at Erin’s apartment.  The traffic was maddening.  I get really nervous when we are not exactly sure where we are going, and when you add people yelling and flipping us off if we hesitate one second, the tension level increases at unheard of speeds.  When we did get to Erin’s place, we had to drive around almost an hour to find parking.  UGH!!!  We finally found a lot about three blocks away; by that point we were ready to pay just to be able to stop.  We got settled, and then headed to the train to meet my cousins for dinner.

Erin has only been in Chicago for about two months, but she has the transit system down.  She was able to guide us small-town tourists around with no problem.  We didn’t get to go to the pizza joint Erin had chosen, but we did get into a quaint neighborhood place.  It was wonderful to have time with my cousins.  Our time was short, only  a couple hours, but I am glad we took the time to meet up.

Saturday, Gary, Erin, and I wanted to go for a run along the lake.  I couldn’t run much because of my knee, but Erin and I managed about 1 1/2 miles running, and walked the rest.  It was a picture-perfect morning along the lake.  There were literally hundreds of people out running and biking.  I would think that would be excellent incentive to stay fit!  Next on our list was Navy Pier.  We had planned to go to the Field Museum of History, but my cousin told us we would be much too rushed since we were also going to the Cubs game.  Navy Pier was a great alternative.  We browsed a little, and then Gary, Addison, and I took a boat tour of the skyline.  It was gorgeous!  The morning was perfect, and the skyline shone in the sun.  Lake Michigan was clear and oh, so blue.  If you’ve never been to the lake, you need to visit.  It is a sight to behold.

After Navy Pier, we hit the trolley, and then the train, and headed to Wrigleyville.  We wanted to have time to eat before the game.  Erin chose an awesome diner.  Wrigleyville was wall-to-wall Cub fans – some started celebrating the victory before the game even began.  After lunch, it was time to head to Wrigley Field.

And then tragedy struck.  Okay, my stupidity struck.  Seriously.  We had our tickets that I had purchased online in early June.  I noticed that when they scanned Addison’s ticket, there seemed to be a problem.  Uh Oh.  Then there was a problem with mine.  It scanned as the wrong date.  But how was that possible?  It was possible because I BOUGHT TICKETS FOR THE JUNE PIRATES GAME AND IT WAS JULY!!!  My heart fell.  I began to sweat.  What the hell were we going to do?  I had promised the three of them this game.  Heck, it was Gary’s 10th anniversary gift.  I went to the ticket booth to see what we could do, and the only option was to purchase new tickets….another $200.  What to do?  Well, we were all dressed in our Cub gear, excited about the game, and we were going to that stupid game!  We bought new tickets, and proceeded to the gates…again.  My daughter and niece found this to be quite funny.  I had screwed up, and they enjoyed every minute of it.  We did get free Cub t-shirts as we went in (I had to point that out to everyone).  Once we found our seats, I just sat there so pissed at myself.  The only thing I could think of is that the first time I got online to look at tickets, I saw they were playing the Pirates the first weekend in July.  Little did I know that the Pirates were also in Chicago the first weekend in June.  When I got back online to order the tickets, I must have just looked up the Pirates game, and paid no attention to the date.  How I didn’t eventually notice is beyond me.  I looked at those tickets so many times.  I do tend to get in a hurry (as is evident in some of my posts), but you can bet that I will be paying extra attention from now on – if Gary ever lets me order tickets again!

So, despite my massive mistake, we had a great time at the game.  The weather was excellent; the crowd excited; and the Cubs won.  Yes, you read that correctly!  We saw two Cubs homeruns, and witnessed a Cub victory.  I can’t wait to go back (Gary will take care of ordering tickets).  The downfall (besides blowing $184 on tickets for a June game) is that I will never hear the end of this.  I probably deserve it for making fun of my family for silly things they have done.  Erin said that we just added another family story to share, and Lord knows they’ll share it!  I hate feeling stupid.

Fast forward….we left Chicago after the game and ventured on to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Sunday we attended a retirement party for a friend of Gary’s.  It was a great afternoon, and it was really nice to meet Gary’s friends.  Addison was a trooper; she was at a party where she knew no one, and never once complained or even looked like she was bored out of her mind.  What an awesome kid!

After our whirlwind weekend, we arrived back in Tell City last night.  Now we are back to reality.  My reality will now include knee surgery on August 2.  My MRI showed arthritis behind my knee cap (the nurse said they call it ‘a more young person’s arthritis’ – I swear, she said that!), and IT band tendonitis.  Because I have done over a month of physical therapy, rested, and have had two injections, the next step is an arthroscope.  Dr. Love will clean out the arthritis and repair the IT band.  There is no convenient time to have surgery, particularly when one teaches fitness classes, but I scheduled it between a fitness conference and the start of school.  I will not be able to teach Zumba for four weeks, but that’s a small sacrifice to be able to run again.  I have babied this knee for six months, and it is time to get it fixed.  There will be no races in the near future, and certainly no half marathons this fall, but hopefully next spring I will be back in 13.1 shape.  I know it will take some serious time to build up my endurance and speed, but I am willing to put in the work.  I have such wonderful running friends, and I know they will be a great support system as I recover.

Laundry and cleaning await.  Please remember:  When ordering tickets online, don’t be an idiot.  Check the dates, time, location, and price very, very carefully.  Don’t give your family and friend any material to use against you at all future gatherings.  Be smart, folks!

The Trip North…

Both Gary and I are from Northwest Indiana….the Region.  The area is called the Region because of its proximity to Chicago.  I lived about 30 minutes from the Windy City until I was eleven.  Gary lived further south, about an hour and a half from Chicago.  We both enjoy visiting that part of the state, the part where the land is flat, the dirt is black, and no one waves at you as you drive down the road (unless a middle finger is up).  I, being a city girl at heart, love spending time in Chicago and taking that journey back to my childhood.  This weekend we were presented with the opportunity for a long weekend visiting family and friends.  Since my brother was available to house and dog sit, it was a perfect plan.

It began when Gary and I received an invitation to a retirement party that will take place Sunday in Fort Wayne.  Gary’s friend and former coworker, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years, is retiring, so the friend’s wife is having a surprise party.  As we looked at the calendar and saw that it fell on a long weekend, we decided to extend the trip.

We are currently on our way to our friends’ at Dewart Lake (after a little detour to the outlet mall).  The Rector family has been in my life since I was born.  They lived next door to us until I was seven, and since that time we have kept in touch.  Peggy and Clyde are like an aunt and uncle to my sister, brother, and me.  They have three daughters who are around our ages.  We will spend tonight at Peggy’s and Clyde’s home on the lake, and attend a party hosted by their daughter Suzie.  The last time I spent a night in this house, my father was with me.  Our family had joined theirs for a weekend on the lake.  I was really young, so I remember very little about that trip.  Still, it means a lot to me to be in the same place my father spent time.  Peggy always tells me stories about my dad, and I value those stories since I have so few memories of him.  One of the things I love about this family is that we can go years without seeing them, yet the conversations always pick up right where we left off.

Tomorrow we will go to the Hammond area.  Gary wants to go to Cabella’s, and since much of this trip is about me, I will concede to a visit to a hunting store.  Perhaps I will purchase some camo.  I bet Gary would find me especially hot!  I wonder what people in town would say if I suddenly took a liking to camo.  Anyway, I  digress.  After lunch at a yet-to-be-determined location (that’s kind of a lie because I want to go to Miner Dunn, which has the best burgers ever – and I went there as a kid –  so I can pretty much bet that’s where we will go.)

After our brief stop in Hammond, and possibly a drive-by of my old houses (I also lived in Munster), we will venture into the mad traffic of Chicago.  Thank the Lord Gary is driving, though Addison gets her license this month, and that would be some intense experience for her.  Since my car is new, I believe Gary  would be the best choice.   We will be spending Friday night at my niece’s new apartment in downtown Chicago.  She just moved in May, so I am excited to see her urban abode.  That evening we will be meeting my cousin Marcia and her husband David for some Chicago-style pizza.  Oh, yah!  Deep dish pizza oozing with cheese and cholesterol.  Marcia and I are only a year apart in age.  Until we moved south, we spent a great deal of time with her and her brother.  I have wonderful memories of riding bikes, building obstacle courses in their basement, and spending the night at their house.  Despite our complete opposite lifestyles, Marcia and I have remained close over the years.  She is a big city girl; I am verging on being a hick (a very classy hick).  She rides horses (not like horseman-club-riding horses, but dressage riding, which is very proper); I run.  She has an exotic beauty – short, black hair, dark skin, tall, and thin; I, well let’s just say  you’d never guess that we’re related.  She and her husband are worldly; I have never been out of the country, unless you count flying over Canada on our way to Alaska.  I embrace our differences, and always look forward to the times we get to be together.

Saturday will be filled with the excitement of the big city.  We plan to rise bright and early, and go for a run along the lake.  That’s my heaven.  Because of this knee issue, I will have to walk a lot, but that won’t take away from the experience:  Lake Michigan on my left, the skyline on my right, and the wind in my face (I will probably be cussing the wind).  After showers, we will head to the Field Museum of Natural History.  I will admit, when I went to this museum in my younger days, it bored me, but Addison loves history, so I think she’ll enjoy it.  And…since our next stop is the CUBS game, I can endure a bit of boredom.  In the afternoon, we will be cheering on the Cubs when they play the Pirates.  That’s what true Cubs fans do.  We all have our new Cubs shirts, so we will look very touristy.  Don’t worry – I will be posting pics along the way!

After the game, it’s back in the car so we can head east.  We will be spending Saturday night in Fort Wayne, and will go to the retirement party Sunday – but not before we hit up the Dick’s in Fort Wayne.  Gary says we are trying to hit up every Dick’s in the country.  I haven’t yet met these friends of Gary’s, but am sure I will like them.  Since there will likely be a bunch of teachers there, surely I can find something to talk about.  If nothing else, I just share some funny Gary stories.  When he isn’t around.  Because he’d trump me with embarrassing Joyce stories.  And that would suck.

While my guess is that no one really cares what I am doing this weekend, you just read this whole blog entry.  I really write for my own enjoyment, and I did just pass a substantial amount of time in the car, but I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  Actually, if you knew what really goes on in this mind, you might petition a judge to lock me up.  Want an example?  This morning as we were driving down a country road near our house, I saw a turtle crossing the road.  He (who really knows what sex a turtle is?) also saw us, and naturally shrunk into his shell.  I thought to myself (I probably shouldn’t admit this) that it would be really cool to be a turtle.  Then when I am afraid, or someone annoys me, or I just want to be alone, I could just pull myself into my shell and hideout.  And because I am a turtle, no one would even wonder what my problem is.  I think I will be a turtle in my next life.  Then I’d really be a hard-ass!

That’s it for now.  I have to rest up for shopping.  Have a fabulous 4th of July….Isn’t it great to be an American?!

The Thing About Middle Age…

For some reason, middle age has been nagging at me.  I have no idea why.  I am certainly not middle-aged.  That’s what I thought anyway.  And then a couple years ago, my husband said something to me about being middle-aged, and I was highly insulted.  Because I had already embarked on my forties, my husband asked me the logical question:  Just how long do you expect to live?  Hmmm….He had a point.  I just don’t feel like I am in mid-life yet.  I am healthier and in better shape than I have ever been.  I still like to stay active.   I guess I always pictured middle age according to the previous generation’s version of middle age.

When my mother was in her forties and fifties, she just didn’t seem to have much fun.  She spent her days cleaning (every single centimeter of our house – not a dustball in sight), and (despite hating it) feeding her family. She was fortunate that she did not have to work outside the home, but I also think that for her, that wasn’t necessarily best for her.  She might have been happier had she gotten out amongst people.  She didn’t do a lot with my sister, brother, or me.  She rarely attended my sporting events or band contests.  I love my mother, but, Lord, she was boring.  I don’t want to be boring.  I will try just about anything – except rides that spin.  That would make me puke.

Now my  <older> friends are beginning to turn 50…50?  When I was in my twenties, I thought 50 was old.  Now I look around at those embracing mid-life, and I am so impressed.  Our generation is in the gym, both taking advantage of classes, and leading groups and teaching classes.  We’re out running 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and marathons.  We’re biking an incredible number of miles, swimming, and dancing.  Most of my friends are also in the best shape of their lives.  My friend Debbie just turned 50.  Over the past year I have observed as she has worked her tail off to get in shape and lose weight.  She looks absolutely incredible.  She has always been beautiful, but now she has confidence, and radiates grace and contentment.  She not only rocks the classes at the gym, but she is also a runner!   What an inspiration.

My friend Jackie will turn 50 in January.  She has been one of my running partners and best friends for years.  She, too, is in amazing shape, and one would never suspect her being near 50.   She is a strong runner, who usually drags her sister and me along, and we are both younger.  She is setting such a great example for her sons by showing them that she is worth the time she takes to be healthy.  Our kids might not buy into this yet, but someday they most certainly will.

I have also seen a few people who are around my age who seem to be caught in their parents’ mindset.  They move slowly, avoid much activity, and just seem older than their years.  I suppose that is the life they choose, and it’s their business, but it makes me sad.  We only have one shot at this life; I don’t want to waste it being unhappy or boring.  In all I do, I try to live without regrets.  When I am at the end of my days, I want to bask in the memories of all I did, not regret all I didn’t do becauses I thought I was too old.

As for me, if someone had told me even five years ago that I would be able to run over 13 miles, I would have cackled.  And teach fitness classes?  Heck, no.  I didn’t even like to exercise.  Don’t get me wrong; I was never lazy.  I ran a business with my good friend while raising three daughters, and then returned to college full-time, while still working.  During my thirties I earned a bachelor’s degree, changed careers, and got remarried.  In my early forties I earned my master’s degree (and stayed married).  Exercise never fit into that schedule.  I did well to shower daily and make sure the kids were fed.  Take time for myself?  There was none to spare.  I couldn’t even pee without a little girl’s voice screeching, “MOM!”

Then the girls got old enough to stay by themselves, and I began to take some time for myself.  What began as wanting to get some exercise and lose a little weight, became a whole new life.  As I was driving to the gym last night, I thought about how much time I would have if I didn’t exercise.  Seriously.  We do some type of workout five to six nights a week.  Last night we were at the gym from 6:00 until 9:00.  And I loved every second of it.  I was with my husband and daughter; I was with my friends; and I was working my butt off.  I am sore today, but as I tell my friends, it’s a good sore.  I don’t want to imagine my life without exercise.  It is a part of the middle-aged me, and I rather like that part.

Middle age?  It’s what you make of it.  As far as I am concerned, these are the best years of my life.  I love the relationships I have with the girls; I love being a nana; I love my marriage to a pretty terrific man, and I love the person I have become.  I am comfortable enough in my skin that when someone speaks badly of me (imagine that!), I can let it go (okay, sometimes I dwell on it, but I eventually let it go), and I know what I stand for and whom I want to spend my time with.  I know now that the trials in my life have made me a stronger person, as well as given me more compassion toward those going through their own trials.  I am not afraid to take risks, knowing that sometimes I will fail.  I know it’s okay to fail.  Am I perfect?  No way.  Far from it.  I make mistakes (almost daily), and I make bad decisions.  I am – and always will be – a work in progress.  If we stop growing, we stop living.  Why would I want to do that?

Of course, middle age brings some friends:  gray hair (that’s what hair color is for), wrinkles (earned every one of them), saggy skin (no amount of exercise can make my skin look good during a plank.  When in a plank position, don’t EVER look at your legs or belly.), aches (Ibuprofen in bulk), hot flashes (avoided those thus far), and out-of-control eyebrows (no one bothered to warm me about those).  It’s part of the process, so there is no sense getting my panties in a wad over them.  The only alternative to aging is dying, and I surely am not ready to check out just yet.  I have more races to run….more Zumba to teach….more friends  to make….more kids to teach………more life to live!  Now get out their and live yours!  What have you always wanted to do?  Do it!  Live with no regrets.