Just Three Years

The other night my husband and I were sitting at a baseball game with our friend Jeff. His son, Sam, just completed his freshman year of high school, and I commented about how quickly time is going. Later, I thought about how Sam will graduate in just three years. Because my mind is often filled with crazy random thoughts that spin out of control, Sam’s future graduation led me to think about all the changes that would occur in the next three years, and how those years will pass so very quickly.

In just three years…

  • Addison – my baby – will be halfway through college, and she will be 20 years old.
  • Bethany will have a couple of years of teaching under her belt (Lord, I hope she finds a job in that three years.)
  • Morgan will be nearing 30 years old. Yikes.
  • Layne will be starting kindergarten.
  • Rhett will be 3 1/2, and following his big brother around.
  • Molly will be driving.
  • Lucy will enter her teen years.
  • Gabe will hit double digits.
  • The first class I had as third graders will be graduating.
  • My first eighth graders will be starting their senior year.
  • And I….well, I will be 50, no longer able to deny middle age (Hell, I will be just about past middle age. What comes after that? Upper middle age?).

Add to that list that loved ones will die, babies will be born, new friends will be made, and lives will be changed, whether it be for the better or worse, by choice or circumstance. Just three years.

So, what is the point of all of this? It enables me to see how quickly our lives evolve, how change is inevitable, and that I had better make the best of each day rather than letting those three years pass without making them count. What changes do I want to make in those three years? Who do I want to be three years from now? What goals do I have? Here it goes…

  • I want to continue to run. That might sound simple, but with the knee issues I have had, it is no longer a given that I will run into my twilight years. I want to take care of my body so that I can continue to do what I love.
  • I want to continue to teach classes at the gym, and hopefully inspire a few people to love their bodies, and to never give up on themselves.  In the past two years, I have made so many incredible friends through Everbody’s; I am blessed by their presence in my life.
  • I will continue to grow and learn as a teacher. I will care about my students, encourage my students, and help them find their talents. I am so fortunate to have such a great job, and I will not take that for granted.
  • I will stay fit and strong. I will continue to cross train, and set a positive example for our kids and grandkids.
  • I want to be living in town within the next three years (in a house with a large yard and a pool).
  • I need to work on taking time for prayer. I always wait until I go to bed, and then my mind wanders like crazy. I will be in a big old conversation with God, and suddenly I am thinking about what to wear to school the next day. I need to focus.
  • I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I don’t like sprints, but know they are good for me, so I will do it.
  • I will stop avoiding running up Mozart. Just like sprints, hill work is a necessary evil. I will run hills.

And, there are some things I know won’t change in three years:

  • I will still dislike most vegetables. Give it up, Mother.
  • I will stay say stupid crap without thinking.
  • I will still be neurotic about arriving places early.
  • I will still like candy, dessert, and junk food.
  • I will still tell my girls what to do, even though they’ll all be adults.
  • I will still tell Gary where to go when he is driving.
  • I will still use sarcasm when I probably shouldn’t.

Where will you be in three years? Will you make that time count? It’s just three years.

A couple other random thoughts for the evening…

Thanks to all who read and shared my last blog about accepting homosexuals. It was read by over 1700 people. That might not seem like a big deal, but 1700 readers learned that this happens to real families with real feelings. If that blog makes even one person think twice about how he or she treats others, it was worth the effort. Just be nice.

Running. My goodness, we went from a long, cold winter straight into hot, humid weather. I am not complaining (because I complained all winter about the cold), but my running is suffering tremendously. Six weeks ago I ran 13.1 miles in a race; now I am struggling to run three miles. I committed to the Runner’s World Running Streak, which means I will run at least a mile every day for 40 days, from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I finished day seven today. I thought this might help me build back up my endurance, and it forces me to exercise every single day. I am also doing more walking because my daughters like to go. This is the first time that all three girls have been home for an extended period of time in a few years, so it also gives me time to spend with them.

Make this week count! You won’t get a do-over. Peace and Love..

 

 

 

Fitness Friday

I don’t really know why I chose that title, other than I do like alliteration.  It is Friday, but it’s doubtful any fitness will take place since we, once again, have a snow day.  I also did seven pretty intense workouts the past four days, so a little rest might be in order.  However, as I am dusting and mopping, my mind wanders to exercise, eating, and my goals (and other random thoughts).

As I have written about for the past few months, I have been struggling to shed the weight I gained when I was out of exercise commission because of knee surgery.  Deep down, I knew what the problem was.  I expected that since I was back in an exercise routine, the pounds should just melt away.  I didn’t eat that much.  They didn’t melt; they multiplied.  I realize eight or nine pounds might not seem like a lot, but I am five feet short.  My eight pounds is an average person’s fifteen pounds.  I have a couple of dresses that I cannot wear until I lose those nasty pounds.  I don’t like how I look and feel.

Around Thanksgiving, I decided I might as well wait to really work on my routine until after the holidays.  I knew that I could not bypass the temptations of cookies, cakes, and all the foods that scream Christmas.  Part of my personal holiday tradition is baking, and it’s one of my most cherished parts of December.  So, I added a couple more pounds as I ate whatever came out of the oven.  And then I ate what was stored in the freezer.  And I ate the cookies my daughters baked.  Then January 1 hit.  Time was up.  Cookies were trashed.

The last two weeks I have really been trying to watch my food intake.  I am not a fan of vegetables.  I prefer sweets, meat, and potatoes.  I love pastas and breads.  I will not give those things up, so portions are key to my diet.  I am also trying to limit evening snacks and before I begin grazing in the kitchen, I ask myself if I am actually hungry.  If I am, I try to make better choices, of if I really want something bad for me, I just eat a little.  I really haven’t sacrificed a lot, and as of this morning, I am down three pounds since last week.  Have I been perfect?  Heck, no.  Tuesday after school, I was starving.  For some reason, I wanted McDonalds (don’t judge me).  It started with Gosh, a Diet Coke from McDonalds sounds amazing.  That evolved into a double cheeseburger and small fries to go along with my Diet Coke.  When I added up the calories, it wasn’t that bad.  I just didn’t eat the rest of the night, and I did Zumba and Spartacus.  It was worth it.

That little fast food indulgence also reminded me why so many people are overweight, especially those with lower incomes.  My McD’s purchase was just over $3, a cheap meal.  Had I gone to Subway (which I do at least once a week), I would have spent over $7 for a healthier meal.  Many people don’t have a choice.  Healthy food is expensive, and a lot of people, at least here in our small town, just can’t afford it.  Heck, it’s hard for us to afford.  I have heard many people judge poor people for being overweight.  Our society makes it nearly impossible for them to be anything but overweight.  Healthy food is expensive; they can’t afford a gym, and probably don’t know how to begin a fitness routine.  Though we say there are free exercises, one needs good shoes or his or her feet will hurt or become injured, and proper attire.  Gary and I thought running would be a cheap sport – it’s anything but.

I saw evidence of this on our trip to Lake Tahoe.  One of my girls said, “Mom, there are no overweight people here.”  I hadn’t really paid attention, but when she mentioned it, I realized that we had maybe seen three or four people who were overweight that weekend  .  But think about it – it’s a pretty affluent area.  Fitness is a way of life there.  It was obvious just by the way they dressed – it was a North Face catalog in the making.  They could afford healthy food, fitness equipment, and gym memberships.  They could pay a sitter while they got their runs in or went skiing.

How can we change this?  I think it starts with our kids.  We started a Biggest Loser for our high school students this week.  We made the fee reasonable (those fees will be used for prizes at the end), and if a student couldn’t afford the fee, we made arrangements to cover that cost.  We will offer advice and suggestions to these 17 students who have a desire to lose weight and improve their health.  I am so excited that we can do this.  What if every school offered this type of program?  If we could instill in students the importance of taking care of their health, gradually our society might change.  We adults have to take the initiative to teach them.  We have to show them we care, we don’t judge, and we want to help.

What can you do to make a difference?  Who can you help?  Where can you volunteer?  How can we get other schools involved?  I will keep you posted on our progress.  I am sure that we will tweak the program along the way, but if we can help a couple of kids learn to love themselves, it will be time well spent.

 

 

See ya 2013!

I always write an Old Year/New Year post, and it’s typically long, jumbled, and possibly somewhat boring, but it’s also my way of processing the old year, and welcoming what’s to come.  So, if you’re sitting at home, avoiding laundry and housework, and need a reprieve from the daily chaos, read on.  What follows is a wrap-up of random thoughts.  Here we go…

  • Sunday, as I was waiting for my hair color to work its magic, I transferred birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates from my 2013 calendars to my 2014 calendars (one of which I bought for half price because I waited until the last minute).  As I was carefully writing in the upcoming events, I thought about how wonderful it is that each January, we get the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and start all over with a new year.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do have a few goals.  I will share those at some random point in this blog.
  • 2013 was filled with both blessings and frustrations for us.  Health-wise, it was a tough year.  Last spring, I had the flu, and stomach bug, and then six weeks worth of eye infections.  The entire year I dealt with knee problems that resulted in surgery in August.  It isn’t completely healed, but I am hopeful that it will continue to get stronger, the pain will continue to lessen, and eventually I will return to my running routine in 2014.  Gary had to have hernia surgery, and Addison had (and continues to have) foot problems.  Because of changes to our health insurance (that are infuriating), my rates have doubled, AND we went from a $500 deductible to a $3000 deductible in 2014, so I pray for good health because we can’t afford to be sick.  We will limit trips to the doctor to dire emergencies, and suffer through all other illnesses.  We are educated, middle-class working people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.  There’s something wrong with that.
  • Blessings…We added two members to our family in 2013!  Gary’s son Bryce was married to Krista in October.  It was an amazing weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Krista is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and adventurous young woman, and we are thrilled to welcome her.  We also welcomed a new grandson in December.  Rhett Cail was born December 15, and we met him the following weekend.  He is a beautiful little boy just like his brother Layne and his cousin Gabe.

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

  • Rhett Wayne Cail December 15, 2013

    Rhett Wayne Cail
    December 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2013 was a year of travel for Gary and me.  We went to Virginia Beach, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas, and Lake Tahoe, and we added some short trips to Indy, Northern Indiana, Louisville, and Nashville.  We are fortunate that our family has chosen great vacations spots in which to live.  We won’t be traveling as much in 2014, but are grateful for the experiences we had.  In our eleven years together, Gary and I have had some awesome trips.  Most included the girls, some were just the two of us.  I am so grateful that we enjoy being together and have had some great opportunities.  I look forward to many more!
  • We also added to our family by hosting an exchange student from Germany.  Benita was already in Tell City and a student at our high school.  She had been placed with a couple who had no kids at home, and was new to our town. Because they knew no one, they wouldn’t let Benita do anything with anyone.  The poor girl was miserable.  She came to stay with us in November, and has truly been a blessing.  We have learned a lot about Germany, have enjoyed lots of chocolate, and have loved getting to know this amazing girl who, at only 16, chose to move away from her family for a year to experience America.  She will be with us until the end of May, and I already dread telling her good-bye.  On the bright side, with any luck we will one day visit her in Germany.
Our day in Nashville

Our day in Nashville

  • Along with my knee issues came weight gain.  As of this morning, I am within one pound of my pre-exercise-running-Tabata-healthier-eating weight from 2009.  I knew I would gain weight when I had surgery and could not exercise for six weeks.  After four plus years of exercising four to seven days a week, it was inevitable.  But I also thought that once I jumped back into my workout routines, the pounds would melt away.  They didn’t.  Not. One. Pound.  Finally, when December hit, I decided to not worry about it until after the holidays.  Given my love of baking – and eating what I bake – I knew it was pointless to try to shed weight during the best eating month of the year.  And so I gained another few pounds.  Right now, I am so disgusted with myself.  I worked so hard to get in shape and get to my ideal weight, and now I have to start all over.  My clothes don’t fit, I feel gross, and working out is hard.  Because I am so short, an extra eight pounds makes a huge difference.  I have two new dresses I can’t even wear until I lose the weight because they accentuate my belly flab.  Since they are winter dresses, I am going to have to make progress quickly.  Gary and I went grocery shopping Sunday and bought only healthy food.  I threw away the chocolate caramel cake that we left, gave away cookies, and refrained from baking more (even though I am dying to use my new Kitchenaid Mixer).  I have to get a grip.  I also hope to add more running to my routine because it seems to help me keep my weight down better than any other form of exercise.  I have been teaching five classes a week at the gym for the past two months, so I really haven’t had time to run as much as I like.  Enough on that – I will keep you posted.
I NEED TO RUN!

I NEED TO RUN!

  • Another goal for 2014 is to be more in the present.  I spend too much time on Facebook, and need to spend that time reading a book or chatting with my family.  I completely enjoy Facebook because many of my friends and family members live away, and it is a great way to keep up.  I love seeing their pictures, sharing my pictures, and being motivated by the fitness groups to which I belong.  But I love my family more.  I know it won’t be easy, but I will cut back on computer time, or at least spend some of that time keeping up with my blogs rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
  • I want to get some bills paid off.  I am still working on my hospital bills from August, so that is my first goal.  I also have some added credit card debt from Christmas, so that’ll be next.  I am going to keep my checkbook balanced and stick with my budget.  We finally took a leap and got rid of our home phone, and I have looked for other ways to cut monthly bills.  I think I have scaled back all I can (without causing an uprise in our family).
  • I want to nurture friendships and gently let go of relationships that cause stress.  I value my friends, and would do anything for them.  I pride myself on being a good listener, keeping confidences, and being honest.  I expect the same in return.  I am blessed with some amazing friends, and hope I never disappoint them.  I have also learned that even at our age, there are still those who choose friends based on their social statuses, what benefits they will gain from those friendships, and how it looks to others.  I care about none of that.  I choose my friends based on their character, their sense of humor, and how they treat people.  And my life is so much better because of it!

Friends!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

  • Life is a gigantic lesson, and I believe we need to keep on listening and learning until we take our last breaths.  While we need to know where we stand, we also need to listen because sometimes our opinions can change.  We need to be accepting of others, and gentle with our words.  We need to let go of relationships that are no longer healthy, and hang on tightly to those that matter.  We need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everyone.  But we need to make our own judgments and not judge others based upon what we hear – what ‘they’ say.
    Words to live by...

    Words to live by…

    We have to – and this is big – work to positively influence our youth.  We need to encourage them to work hard, to follow their dreams, and to know that character is just as important as intelligence.  We need to model being good citizens, talk to them about our world, and show them how to treat others.  Our children are reflections of us.  Teach them well.

Some of our influence actually worked!

Some of our influence actually worked!

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy 2014.  I hope to continue with my writing, and it would help me greatly if you would share this with your friends if you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  I would also like to add some followers.  Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

I am beautiful, strong, and wise

The picture below would be an awesome inspirational quote, but then whoever wrote it had to go and ruin it by putting ‘learnt’!  Really?  Learnt?  Apparently he or she ‘learnt’ nothing from an English teacher.  Okay, enough.  Ignore that error, and focus on the meaning.

I hear so many women put themselves down every day.  Heck, I hear thirteen year old girls put themselves down.  Face it, most of us have trouble accepting compliments; rather than just saying thank you, we have to counter with something negative: Oh, I’ve gained some weight; My hair looks terrible today; My face is a mess.  Why can’t we just say Thanks?  We need to be able to say that we are strong, even when at times we feel weak.  We need to acknowledge our beauty, without pointing out our flaws.  Do we have fears?  Sure, but we have many more fearless moments.  Admit you are wise.  The greatest lessons we learn come from our mistakes and from the difficult moments we face.  And every time we make it through those trying times, we become a little wiser (by this point, I should be a genius!).  And I hope we are all lovers – lovers of our family and friends, lovers of our jobs and hobbies, lovers  of the lives we are blessed to live.  I hope the hate we have felt and witnessed has caused us to love deeper.  And we need to laugh every single day (working with junior high students makes that one pretty easy).

Why is all of this important?  Because we are teaching our daughters, nieces, and other young girls in our lives to focus on their flaws.  We need to redefine what beauty is.  How would you describe beauty?  Perfect skin?  Long, flowing, shiny hair?   a thin body?  Or is it a smile that causes others to smile?  Is it a contagious laugh?  Is it when someone stops what she is doing to help someone else?  Is it a young woman who enters a room with confidence?   It is difficult to say, “I am beautiful.”  Try it.  Look in a mirror and say it.  Can you do it?  I might start, but then I see the wrinkles and the gray hair that’s fighting its way through.  And I notice the chub gathering around my belly.  And, crap, there are those brown age spots planting themselves on my face.  It’s easy to say all of that.  I can name every flaw on my body.  And when I do, my girls begin to find their flaws – I want them to see their beauty.

I see their kind eyes and their strong legs.  I watch as they step up to help others, and I see beauty.  I listen to Addison play the piano, and I hear my father’s beautiful notes echoing through hers.   I listen to Bethany talk about working with students, and see the joy in her face; that’s beautiful.  I see Morgan mothering her son – gorgeous.  I watch as Tamara talks with her kids and encourages them to stay true to themselves, and I witness pure beauty.  I see the pictures of Krista rock climbing in Lake Tahoe, and see her strength and courage, and I think nothing is more beautiful.  I want all of these amazing sisters to know the depth of their beauty, strength, and wisdom.  However, if they continually hear me picking apart my flaws, they will do the same.

We, all of us, have to strive to be better, while realizing we are enough.  Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but it’s one that makes perfect sense.  We should always work to learn more, to be healthy and strong, and to experience all we can.  We owe it to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can.  But we also have to realize that we are enough.  We are beautiful the way we are; we are wise; we are strong.  We need to quit comparing ourselves to others, which many times makes us feel that we never quite measure up, and just try to be the best women we can be.  What makes you feel strong?  Do it.  I feel strong when I complete a good workout or have a great run.  Oddly, I feel strong when I am sore – that means I am able to work out.  What makes you feel beautiful?  My husband makes me feel beautiful, but I need to work on feeling beautiful without depending on his compliments.  I feel wise when I learn something new, whether it be in a magazine or book I read, or something I have randomly discovered.  I feel wise when I can share what I have learned.  Do what makes you feel wise.

So, since I am a teacher, I feel compelled to give you an assignment.  For the next week, give compliments.  Not just to your family or close friends, but to strangers or acquaintances.  It will make you feel good.  And, here’s the challenge, when you receive a compliment, just say thank you.  Don’t criticize yourself, and don’t give someone else credit.  Just say thank you.

You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are wise.  Go out and show the love, face life with no fear, and laugh!  Goodnight, Beautiful Friends!
inspiration

Summer…

Gary and me at Virginia Beach

Gary and me at Virginia Beach

As usual, this summer is zipping by, and I can’t seem to slow it down. We have a busy schedule, which means it’s not likely I will accomplish all of my summer cleaning goals, but we are creating some great memories, and that’s much more important. As a teacher, I am extremely grateful for my time off. There are many who make comments about how teachers have it made having summers off, but I can tell you, it is necessary. After spending day after day with 22 or more students, being not only teacher, but many times a nurse, mother, counselor, and more, we are exhausted. I love my students, but just as parents are ready for their kids to return to school in August, we are ready to return them to you in May. We spend time with our own families, catch up on all the work we missed out on throughout the school year, plan for the new year, read education-related material, and come back ready to tackle a new year. If it weren’t for summer break, I would be incredibly stressed, and I wouldn’t be the best teacher I can be. Come August, I will be eager to welcome a new group of students. Which brings me to one of the things that brings both excitement and added work this summer…

I will be starting the 2013-14 school year in a new position! I have taught third grade for the past six years, and have enjoyed almost every moment of it. I had considered moving up to junior or senior high English, but a few years ago I would have had to return to college to add to my license. In more recent years, the state of Indiana changed the law regarding some licensing. Someone who already holds a teaching license can now add to that license by passing the Praxis test in that area. Last spring I decided to take the test so I could add English/Language Arts grades 5-12 to my license. I paid the ridiculous fee, studied for over a month, and took the test. I have to admit, it was difficult. Having been out of college for eight years, one forgets the names of authors and styles of literature. I had to wait three weeks after the test to get my results. I was up bright and early the morning the results were available online (and I paid an additional $30 to get those results a few days early), and found that I had passed! I was so excited, and so proud. I had put in the work, and it paid off. Now I had to wait for a position to open.

In April, I learned of the retirement of the eighth grade English teacher, and immediately applied. I was so thrilled at the possibility of focusing on English all day. English is my strength, and I enjoy helping kids discover the love of reading, their potential at writing, and the intricacies of the English language. I had taught English at the prison before becoming an elementary teacher, and I loved every minute of it. I was also intrigued by the idea of working with older students. Having been a youth group leader at church, and a cheer coach years ago, I know that I like being around adolescents. This was the job for me. I went through the first interview in April, and I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking that here I am, 46 years old, and still interviewing. After that interview was a long wait. This month I had a second interview, and then received the news that I had been selected for the job. I was ecstatic…and a little nervous! I love working at Wm. Tell, and have some amazing friends there. I have learned so much from my boss, and consider her a friend, as well as a mentor. On the other hand, I had to take this opportunity. I immediately got to work studying eighth grade standards, reading texts, and moving. Moving a classroom is no small task. I began by packing up my room at Wm. Tell. I had invested a lot of money in books and materials, and those items have been put in storage containers for my daughter, Bethany, who is currently an education major. Everything else was either left for the new third grade teacher, or moved to the junior/senior high. My next big project is to get my new room cleaned out and reorganized. That begins this week.

Along with preparing for a new grade level, my husband and I have three trips this summer. Last week, we returned from our family vacation to Virginia Beach. My step-daughter and her family live there, so along with enjoying the beach, we were able to spend time with family. Bethany and Addison went along, which was so enjoyable. Bethany hadn’t been on vacation with us in five years, and it was fun to have her along. The weekend of July 4, Gary, Addison, and I are taking a short trip to Northern Indiana and Chicago. The highlights of that trip will be visiting family friends at their house on Dewart Lake, dinner with my cousin in Chicago, visiting my niece Erin, and attending the Cubs game.

At the end of July, Gary and I will be venturing off to Atlanta for a fitness conference: Atlanta Mania. I am really excited about this conference, but also slightly terrified. We will be spending four days working out…all day. And these workouts will be way out of our comfort zones because the purpose is to learn about various types of exercise, and to become better educated on fitness. I am going to become certified to be a Tabata Bootcamp trainer, and Gary will be certified in teaching Spinning. We are attending this conference with several instructors from Everbody’s Gym, so hopefully we will be able to work a little fun in with the torture. Since my knee is still injured (UGH!!!), I am looking forward to learning about some different workouts. Without running, I have struggled to stay as active as I need to be.

No wonder summer is marching by at an accelerated rate! Along with these big events, I also have physical therapy twice a week, and have some other obligations. I am not complaining because I appreciate that we are able to do it all. We have incredible friends and family to share our time with us, and are blessed to be healthy so that we can be involved in fitness. I am thankful every day for the opportunities we have, and that we are no longer afraid to take those opportunities, even if they don’t always work out. I am thankful for summer.