Sunday, February 26, 2012

The First Few Days of Lent

So I had decided to do a tech fast for Lent. So far, it's going okay.  I had to turn off Facebook on my phone- as in, figure out how to log off of it.  I really hadn't realized how automatic it had become to just wile away the time, clicking on stuff.  I hadn't realized that even when I had my computer off, I could grab the phone and just click away without realizing what I was doing.  So I think the tech fast will be very interesting.

I am taking my extra time to do things like more knitting, so I might even have the latest blanket done in time.

I'm getting out of the house closer to on time, even though it's not like I have a hard and fast "must be at the office" time.  Of course, sometimes we have things like this week when my iPhone's Nike iPod thing miscommunicated with my shoe thing and I ended up running an unknown distance for almost an hour instead of 30 miles in under 30 minutes.  All this while wondering "What the heck is going on with my iPhone?  Why won't it talk to me?  WHY? WHY?"  while I pounded pavement and suffered mightily.

I then proceeded to pick up a 24-hour-bug and die a thousand horrible deaths before noon yesterday.  It was almost 7PM before I was able to eat anything.  Today, I still don't want to ever see any food again ever, but I at least can remain upright.

I think that was an excellent Lenten fast, right?  My body sort of shot forward into the future and fasted from food I hadn't even eaten yet.

And I still haven't had my first Cadbury Creme Egg this year.  I'm just not in shops that much!

OK.  It is now time to turn off the computer for the tech fast.  Be well!

Oh, and as the Pilgrim leaders and I are researching places for the pilgrimage, I found this picture:  the house I lived in while I lived in Bath!

Be the Lent, everyone!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Last year, I gave up Lent for Lent.  I had just been hired and we were driving across the country.  My grandfather had just died, my husband's father was critically ill, and we were facing two weeks of driving cross country in a VW Beetle with two cats who'd never traveled more than an hour without throwing up.

Yeah, I thought you'd give me a pass for Lent.

During Lent, it's a common practice to give up.  I gave up giving up candy years ago, because Lent seems to be the only time during the year that one can get Cadbury creme eggs.  Those are my favorite candy ever and I refuse to give them up.  In fact, I always take ON the discipline of eating Cadbury creme eggs.  I wait until Lent, and I eat my last one on Easter, and I delight in them.

My favorite Lenten discipline ever was the year I gave up hot lunch.  I was living in England at the time.  The climate is cool and rainy, and usually, I'd just want something warm and noodly for meals.  Giving it up meant I ate a lot of salads and cold sandwiches.  If I was traveling, it was really hard to find fast food that wasn't heated.  If I was around town, I'd ask police officers or people selling the Big Issue where to go for a cheap bite since cold food was usually cheaper than hot meals.  I found some great small sandwich shops like the amazing baguette place near the Bath abbey.  But more importantly, I found this strange sense of solidarity with those who couldn't spend their afternoon in a tea shop... this discipline really forced me to re-think priorities and to be more considerate of those struggling to make the ends meet.

My worst Lenten discipline was the year I tried to give up flour.  Not knowing anything about nutrition or low-carb eating, it was disastrous.  By the third day, I was shedding tears in the dining hall and dreaming about pasta.  That one was totally self-centered and didn't last.  Lenten disciplines that are all about ME seem to be failures.

The longest-lasting one started when I was 14 and went vegetarian for Lent.  I didn't eat meat regularly again until I was 32.  I finally began eating meat again because a year of night shifts and oddball schedules had depleted my iron, calcium, and B-vitamin levels in my system, and I needed to build it back up.  I find, now that my iron is back to normal, that I am gravitating back towards vegetarianism once again.

This year, I am going to do both a giving up and a taking on.  Lenten practices can really be both.  Some people choose one or the other.

First, I'm going to be doing a tech fast.  I have an app called SelfControl.  I do realize the irony of using a tech app to help me do a tech fast, so let's roll with it.  It blocks websites from access, quite thoroughly.  There seems to be no easy way to shut it down once you start it.  So I'll be blocking Facebook, blogs, news, and all other social networking sites.  My allowed website will be Netflix because I must find out what happens to Daisy on Downton Abbey.  I'm only in season one!  I chose the tech fast because I can get way too caught up in checking status updates and feeling the urge to post something witty and smart. I enjoy social media for letting me keep caught up with people in my life... but I don't like feeling addicted to it, as if I will miss something essential if I am off it for an hour.  The tech fast will last every day from 6PM to 9AM.  This will allow me to use Facebook for work reasons (which is why I got it initially!).

Second, I'm going to be doing a whole foods discipline.  As a triathlete, processed food bars are an easy trap to fall into- Clif bar, Honey Stinger Waffle deliciousness, balance bars... these are all good things which help us a lot.  I need the hit of carbs and protein to sustain long rides.  Sometimes, the balance bar is the least of the two evils.  But the reality is that usually I'm choosing the S'mores bar because it is delicious and because making oatmeal with fruit is less exciting.  (And quite frankly, because often I get sucked into checking Facebook when I should be cooking healthy food!)  In England, when I hit an easy and comfortable weight, I was eating entirely whole foods with no processed bars at all.  In fact, then, my meals were typically things like a pepper stuffed with a simple rice-and-veg mixture, or a salad and a sandwich.  Now, I weigh about 20 pounds over what I weighed then.   This negatively affects everything from my health to my speed, and it's time I stop letting myself fall into the processed trap.  For Lent, I will be measuring out portion sizes and eating whole foods.  I will only allow processed bars immediately prior to and during a major workout like a duathlon or a two-hour bike ride.  This is not a weight loss challenge (which is why I'm allowing it as a Lenten practice.  Although, hey, body, dropping those stubborn pounds would be a nice Easter treat...), but it's to be a challenge to accept real food as the nourishment I need and to be grateful and aware of the gifts I do have in my fridge.

So that's my Lenten practices this year.  They start tomorrow.  Or in 30 minutes, by my clock.  What are you doing for your practices?

Farewell to Old House

We moved this past weekend.  Yes, I know that we had only lived in our former place for 10 months.  And I know we had that temporary place in Hartford before then.  Before that, we were 2 years in the West Hartford place, and that was pretty okay, except for the eventual sewage-in-the-bathtub problem.  And before then, it was 9 months in the very cool but huge, drafty, and woefully underfurnished 250-year-old rectory, preceded by 6 months in the delightful teeny tiny place in Fredricksburg.  Before that, I was 9 months in a dreadful vermin-infested townhouse, rooming with a crazy roommate, and before that, 3 months with a delightful friend in a very cool rectory, and 2 1/2 years in an amazing apartment with the world's best floor plan in Columbia Pike.

I guess I move a lot.  Looking back at that list, I guess I am also pretty hard to please with apartments.  I seem to require a mix of a great view and a nice floorplan to really be happy.  Our place here in Eugene was actually very nice... gas stove, two bathrooms, washer/dryer.  The only problems were that the floorplan was awkward.  

For example, the dining table didn't actually fit in the dining area.  Once, we had the Boss and his family over... we shoehorned his little girl in between the table and the hutch.  Oh, and then we literally moved the table.  After that, we just started feeding people on the patio, using our card table.

And the view was quite unique.

Let's just say the best part of that was not having to go far to get to take our recycling out.  

The only room that worked was my study.  After M finished school, I convinced him to get rid of the classic wooden "teacher's desk" I had bought for my first place from a yard sale.  7 years later, it had gone through two rounds of grad school.  After getting rid of it, I pushed around furniture and suddenly hit on the perfect room configuration.  It looked like a study.  Intellectuals, bookish people, musicians, and people with a thing for cozy rooms wept when they saw it.  One whole wall was lined with books.  I started spending hours up there.  Of all the rooms in the house, it was the only one I actually managed to get right.

You don't stay in a house for one room.  Not even if you love it.  

So, we left the bedroom with such awkward storage that my wedding gown spent the last 10 months awkwardly balanced on a ledge above the bed... we left the giant mirrors on the wall directly opposite the bed, which let me tell you was extremely creepy for so many reasons... we left the boxcar living room with the exposed TV cable running bumpily under the rug because the cable outlet was on the wall across from where the TV actually fit... we left the place where the kitchen was across the room from the front door requiring us to track dirt through the entire living room every time we entered.  

Now we have a place where some rooms are slightly smaller, but others are much larger.  The dining room table is set up and does not need to be physically moved in order to accommodate well-brought up, extremely polite but woefully squished 10-year-olds, and the view is *amazing*.  Seriously, you can see to the East and the West and North where Mt. Pisgah is visible on a clear day.  Yesterday there was a giant rainbow.  This morning, I think I saw a Stella's Jay- the former tenant used to feed the birds.

Right now, though... I have a few weeks of organizing and sorting ahead of me.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

The 80-Year-Old Body

At the moment, I feel a bit like a creaky old lady.  My right hip (the one that was so badly bruised last September) has never really stopped being sore and sometimes still showing light bruising.  There's still a lump in there.  My right hand (the one that I broke a few years ago) is the best damn weather predictor in the universe.  I like to hold up my fingers dramatically and call out weather to astonished onlookers, who must believe that my hand is truly magical.  I had been suffering intermittent headaches that were directly related to my consumption of French Press versus coffeemaker coffee.  Basically, my normally healthy body curled up and went into its 80's.

Meanwhile, I went on retreat with other colleagues new to the Diocese of Oregon for program called Fresh Start.  By this time in my career, there's not much new under the Fresh Start sun, but I go faithfully and I enjoy it because it connects me to new colleagues.  Doesn't matter if the module we are being taught is way-old-news (family systems?  snore!)- what's important is the time with other colleagues.  I mean, when else will I get 6 hours to talk things over with other people who don't know this Diocese that well or whose spouses are struggling to find work in their field or who are also facing an imminent move to the apartment they've been wait-listed for?

It's worth its weight in commiseration gold.

Usually I'm a huge extrovert, but this time around, I was actually pretty miserable.  Tuesday morning I did my workout for the 35 workouts challenge, and felt pretty dang good.  I'd been feeling pretty good all along this month, between the runs and the rides.

But this time, I was bushed.  I curled up in the backseat of the carpool (in the truck we have affectionately nicknamed "The Thing") and slept most of the way to the retreat.  By the time we got out at the retreat center, my right hip was sounding delightful klaxon bells.  I was miserable most of the retreat.

Long story short: the little September bike crash with the resulting huge hematoma seems to have weakened the injured area in my hip and my abs have been compensating.  There is either a great deal of Pilates or some physical therapy in my future.  I'm going to hope that Pilates will help me regain that deep strength and avoid PT.  And some TRX.  I hope I can get back to biking and running ASAP, but trust me I have no desire to stress out my hip at the moment.

Another benefit of the retreat was talking to some other colleagues who also have iPhones.  They shared a few new tricks and I spent some time today setting up my iPhone and color coding everything.  Work is purple and home is green.

And I discovered that the vast majority of my calendar is work-related.  With the exception of my day off (which I write down every week to try to force myself to be disciplined), I have sometimes only one or two "home" events every month.

Um, right.  Month. Perhaps that dramatic imbalance also has something to do with the feeling of tiredness.  That, plus my guy staying a few times this month that he doesn't feel that I've been home much... maybe it's time to schedule in more "green" time.

So I think I need to start scheduling in more things.  I do a pretty good job of working in a workout and stuff like that, but I think I need to work in more actual scheduled time when I plan other things that are not work.

I think I'll make this one of my Lenten disciplines.  Plan better use of non-office time so I don't end up with an all purple calendar.