The End of an Era…

Maybe it isn’t the end of an era, but it is the end of something I love. This week was my last official week of teaching Zumba. This is my second school year teaching Zumba (yes, teachers gauge time based on school years), and I have so enjoyed the opportunity to share a fun form of exercise with others, the friends I have made along the way, and the chance to dance like I know what I’m doing a couple times a week. I’ve tried to make my classes fun, while also providing a kick-ass workout for participants.  Despite all of these positives, there was one negative that over-shadowed all the good.  It is killing my knees.  [Disclaimer:  Although you probably think this picture is me, it really isn’t. My hair isn’t that long.]

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I was hopeful that after surgery last fall, I could return to all the things I love with no issues. My surgery knee would hurt on occasion, but it was tolerable for awhile. Right after the first of the year, I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to teach Zumba much longer, and began making preparations to step aside.  The twisting and lateral movement are just too hard on my already weakened knees. My first love is running, and I really want to get back to being able to run half marathons, so the decision was made to give up my classes. It wasn’t an easy one; I wavered for the last two months. This week, my knees hurt like crazy during class, so I knew I had made the right decision.  It’s still sad, but I will move on. I am, fortunately, still able to teach Tabata Bootcamp, and am adding a new HIIT class on Wednesday mornings. Between teaching those classes, helping out Biggest Loser teams, and running, I will be busy.  I also had a couple of students ask me if I would help them run, which, of course, I am thrilled to do.  Who knows? I might even hit a few of my husband’s spinning classes (but I hear they are really hard).

About running…I am slowly scratching my way back to being a runner. I have really struggled this winter (this long, crappy winter) because I just don’t want to run in the cold. In previous winters, I have really enjoyed cold-weather running. Heck, I felt like a bad-ass out there in 20 degree weather, the wind ripping through my hair, sleet smacking at my face. Not this winter.  My bad-ass has been on a treadmill.  I have been on the treadmill more this winter than I have the past five years. I just don’t want to bundle up when I can wear shorts and a tank and work up a good sweat indoors.

Someday spring will arrive, and I will be ready to hit the streets.  I need to – I am contemplating running the Kentucky Derby Mini in April. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it because my knees still hurt, but I am going to attempt to train, and see what happens. If I am not extremely confident that I can finish, I will back out.  I won’t go through the trauma I went through last year when my knee screamed at me to give it up. I won’t sit on a street corner in Louisville, freezing cold and crying while I wait for a ride.  I won’t get in a elevator after hobbling back into the hotel, and be faced with an 80 year old man with a finisher’s medal around his neck, while I go home empty-handed. I know that I have no chance to PR; that won’t be my goal. If I run, I will run with my friend Debbie, who will be running her first half marathon. If I run, I will finish.  I won’t be stupid and continue running if my knee begins to hurt (Lord, I hope I don’t eat those words).  I will walk if I have to (Lord, I hope I don’t have to).  And I won’t be jealous of those who PR (Yes, yes, I will be jealous, but I will smile).

What are you doing to stay healthy?  Exercising?  Eating veggies?  Meditating?  Hoping your skinny friends get fat?  Go out and live life!  If you need a mentor, there are lots of us who are willing to help.  Fitness has changed our lives.  We are not only healthier and happier, but we have some amazing friends whom we have come to know through our fitness endeavors.

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Another Snow Day…

UGH!  It’s Thursday, and we’ve been to school a little over one-half day this week.  We are now going to be going after Memorial Day, and from experience, I know the kids are finished long before the holiday weekend.  Keeping them on task after Memorial Day is like herding cats.  Teachers should probably start stocking up on Motrin now.  I have cleaned my house, finished laundry (or so I thought until I discovered the stockpile of towels the girls were hoarding), and spent several hours on school work.  I can’t leave my house because our hill is covered in ice, and I won’t even walk down it, let alone drive.  And so here I sit.  Writing about nothing particular.  Just writing.

I am not going to go into my rant on Indiana’s government wanting to change our constitution to forever ban same-sex marriage, but I do want to let you know that almost 2000 people viewed my blog when I posted about gay marriage.  To put that in perspective, the most read blog I wrote prior to that post was about the Ironman, and it had 270 views.  Thanks to all of you who shared the post, and helped educate others that this is a real cause affecting real Hoosier families.  Normal, Christian families.

Oh………I lied.  I read something that annoyed me this morning.  The Russian president, who is clearly an ass, said they would not protest gay athletes, but that they – the gay athletes – should ‘stay away from the children’.  Really?  Because homosexuals are always perverts?  This makes me sick.  Just because a person is gay is absolutely no indication that he or she would be a child predator, no more than being heterosexual makes a man a rapist.  Why was Russia chosen to host the Olympics?  Thus far I have seen nothing positive that supports their selection.

Fitness.  I am really working to return to my former running self.  Last night I made tremendous progress toward that goal.  Since knee surgery in August, I have struggled to regain fitness and lose the weight I gained.  These snow days don’t help because I am stuck at home with my new Kitchenaid mixer screaming at me from the kitchen, We can make cookies!  Breads!  Cake!  Let’s stir things up!  I have ignored the calls so far (if you don’t count the mashed potatoes I made last night), but I don’t know that I can resist today.  Perhaps if I focus on last night’s run and the progress I made, I can ignore my mixer.

Last night I accompanied my husband to the gym; I was anxious just to get out of the house.  I planned to run three or four miles on the treadmill while he taught spinning.  That distance has pretty much been my max the past couple of months, and for anyone who has run on a treadmill, you know there’s a limit to how long one can tolerate the boredom.  I much prefer running outside, but this winter has made that nearly impossible.  And so I hit the ‘mill.  Everbody’s is busy on Wednesday evenings, so there were people around to chat with, and I had my playlist cranked up.  Someday I am going to forget I am not alone and bust out singing.  Last night I just mouthed some of the lyrics (I don’t think any sound came out), which I am sure could have made a great video.  As I listened and chatted and watched ESPN, I just kept running and running and running….six miles I ran!  I don’t know that I have ever made it six miles on a treadmill.  It might not be a big deal to many runners, but it gave me hope that I might be able to continue to increase my distance, which just a month ago seemed impossible.  I was resigned to just getting in short little runs to get my running fix.  Half marathons?  A thing of the past.  Today I think that I just might be able to once again run 13.1, maybe not as fast, but just finishing would be a thrill.  Stay tuned…

Oooh…There it is!  I love my mixer!  Listen…it’s calling me….

Not a Battle I Planned to Fight…

I am going to step away from writing about fitness today because, as you know, when something else is on my mind, I just have to take time to write about it.  So what’s on my mind this week?  The same-sex marriage ban that is currently being tossed around in Indianapolis.  A year ago, I thought about this topic, but was not passionate about it.  Afterall, it didn’t affect me.  Why should I care?  And then my teenage daughter came out.  Suddenly, the conversation on same-sex marriage did affect me, and more importantly, it greatly impacted my daughter.  My beautiful, intelligent, sweet daughter.

Being raised in a conservative Christian home, I struggled with this topic in the beginning.  I studied, I read, I prayed, and I have come to the conclusion that too many people are interpreting the Bible in a way that suits their needs.  While the Bible does talk about marriage between a man and a woman, it also states that it is sinful to cut one’s hair, to adorn oneself with make-up, and to use the Lord’s name in vain.  Society’s response to that?  Times have change, so that’s no longer relevant.  What about divorce?  The Bible clearly states that divorce is a sin, and that if one divorces and remarries, he or she is still committing adultery.  A sin.  Left-handedness – evil.  Over-indulgence in food or drink is also a sin according to the Word of God.  But times have changed, haven’t they?  Our lawmakers haven’t banned divorce, over-eating, or hair salons.  The overall message that is given throughout the entire Bible is that God calls us to love and accept one another.  That doesn’t mean to accept those we are comfortable accepting; it mean everyone.

For those who say that homosexuals ‘choose’ that lifestyle, well that’s just ignorance.  It is no more a choice than the color of our skin or being left-handed or right-handed.  I know that I could never be in love with a woman, no matter how hard I tried.  I am, without a doubt, a heterosexual.  If I can’t change, why would I expect my daughter to change?  She can’t.  She has no more interest in boys than I do in women.  Why would a teenage kid want to put himself or herself in a position to be a target for bullies?  Why would anyone choose to spend his or her life fighting bigotry?  Why would someone choose to have his or her choice in a partner judged by family, friends, and strangers?  Can you even imagine your own family turning their backs on you because of who you are?  It happens; I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen ‘Christians’ put their religious views before their own family members.   Their response?  They have a right to their opinions and faith.  Well, my God doesn’t teach me to hurt others; He teaches me to love everyone.

Indiana lawmakers are currently pushing legislation to ban same-sex marriage, and to change our constitution in order to do it.  They want to change our legislation in order to discriminate against my daughter.  I was very angry about this, and wrote our state representative, Lloyd Arnold.  He wrote back, and wanted to come meet with Addison, my husband, and me.  I was thrilled that we could put a face on this issue – the face of a teenager.  I asked my friend Katrina and her son Cole to join us, as Cole was also impacted by this legislation.  Mr. Arnold came to town Friday after school for our meeting.  As someone who hates politics, I was nervous about getting involved, but if it meant my daughter might some day have the same rights as her sisters, I was willing to jump in.

In my opinion, after hearing Mr. Arnold out, he is hopeful that this issue will just go away.  He doesn’t really want to have to deal with it.  His belief is that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, but he supports civil unions for same-sex couples.  Great.  Doesn’t everyone dream of growing up and having a beautiful ‘civil union’?  No.  Even my gay daughter dreams of a wedding.  She dreams of a wedding in her hometown.  She wants to be accepted in the state in which she was raised.  Mr. Arnold told the kids that he believes they deserve the same rights as everyone else, and that he respects them, but he never said he supports their being allowed to marry.  He did vote to take out some hateful and damaging language in the legislation, but he also voted for the change in our constitution.  Hoping it will go away is not the same as standing up and fighting for equal rights.  Admittedly, I don’t completely understand all the political mumbo jumbo and the games they play in congress.  I am a more cut and dry type of person – either it’s right or it’s wrong.  It’s a no-brainer that it is wrong that a murderer in prison has the right to marry while incarcerated, but my daughter – a contributing member of our community – can be denied that right because of whom she loves.

Mr. Arnold also said that 70% of respondents to his survey said they want the issue to be on the ballot.  My question for him was what are the demographics of that survey?  I know that we – a working couple – are far too busy to return surveys.  My guess is that most of those who take time to fill out and return surveys are older, retired people.  If younger generations were to reply, I bet the answers would differ.  If this issue does eventually get on Indiana’s ballot, I pray those young people will get out and vote.

If our lawmakers say that homosexuals do not deserve the exact same rights as others, they are telling the bigots and bullies that homosexuals are lesser people, and don’t deserve respect.  They open our kids up to torment from their peers – as if it isn’t bad enough.  I respect Mr. Arnold’s decision to meet with us, knowing he was walking into a hard conversation with moms fighting for their kids.  I believe he is trying to learn more, and is willing to continue to listen.  I was thrilled that Addison and Cole had the opportunity to be heard by someone in power in our state.  Not many kids get that opportunity, and they both stepped up to the plate.  I hope the conversation continues.

One thing to think about is how you will be affected.  If you disapprove of same-sex marriage, don’t marry a gay person.  Would my daughter marrying her partner affect you in the least?  Would anyone be hurt if same-sex marriage were allowed in Indiana?  No.  I cannot think of how anyone would be hurt by this.  On the flip side, thousands would be hurt if a ban takes place.  When this bill passed the house this week, there were tears in my house.  What about yours?   Did you even pay attention?

I cannot end without saying how incredibly proud I am of my daughter.  She is a junior in high school, who talked to her state representative about gay marriage.  She was strong and respectful, even though the topic was clearly emotional for her.  She spoke with maturity and grace, and I could not have been more proud or in awe.  My heart broke as I listened to her voice quiver and saw the tears in her eyes; my heart swelled with pride as I listened to her speak in spite of her emotions.  I love this kid, and all I want is for her to have the same rights as your kids.  Isn’t that what we all want?  We’ve come a long way since I was in high school, but I’m afraid we have a long way to go.  Who is with me?  If you are, please share this blog.  Let your friends and family know that this legislation affects real people, real families, and kids.  Let’s give all kids hope that one day they will be accepted.