Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting by with a little help from some friends

I, like many of you grew up in the era where the power of a picture on a television screen became every kid who didn't want to eat his vegetables worst nightmare. You need to eat that, there are starving children in ______ (fill in country of choice) The late night pictures of bloated bellies and emaciated children was generally daunting to me, and remains so to this day. In reality, there is no universal solution to the turmoil of the third world, there will always be impoverished conditions, there will always be corrupt governments and there will always be starving children and that is frustrating. It feels too big. I don't mind big, but like any challenge, I need to break it down into manageable chunks. A marathon is never 26.2 miles. It's four 6.5 mile runs in a row. An Ironman isn't 140.6 miles, it's 22 buoys, four 28 mile bike rides, and four 6.5 mile runs. Sometimes a marathon is 26 aid stations, conveniently spread 1 mile apart. And so on.

To me there has to be a way to make a colossal problem manageable.

A few years back I was part of a small congregation that pooled every man, woman and child's resources and purchased a bore hole for Naygobia, Uganda. The clean source of water was a welcome relief to the town. However, confusion ruled as, generally if a group digs a well it belongs to the group. But this well was sponsored by the church for the benefit of the entire town. One muslim man was so impressed that he donated a piece of land so that we could build a medical center. Out came the little soup cans again, and a few months later a medical center was built and stocked, one brick and one band-aid at at a time. The medical center led to a sewing center (to teach young women a trade) which led to uniforms for orphans to go to school, which led to a school being built by the carpentry center (to teach young men a trade) and the village was transformed. Now, they are a network of 3 villages which share resources and information. It all started with the fresh water of one bore hole. You can read the story here.

The colossal problems of one HIV infected, war torn, impoverished village in Uganda were broken down into manageable pieces and a small group of simple folks gave their coffee money, and their dinner money and their hearts to bring about change. A bond of friendship has formed over these years between the folks in Uganda and the folks in St. Louis Park, MN and that to me is truly the greatest part.

Big problems take smart, compassion driven solutions. So here is one possibility for you, my friends.

As a trainer at the Y, I can take the $60 ish dollars I'd earn training three clients for an hour and put it into my World Vision fund. But, what if, instead of adding $60 I raffled off three-60 minute training sessions to be used for Personal Training or Pilates Reformer sessions with me? I can multiply my resources.

So, if you want to help dig the bore hole, please consider buying raffle tickets! Each ticket costs $10. The winner will receive a PT package of 3, one hour sessions to be used at the Ridgedale YMCA (in home training is a possibiltiy) The winner does not need to be a member of the YMCA and the package can be given as a gift to a friend or relative. Just click on the link by my "Beautiful Feet" and mention raffle tickets in the memo section of your donation

The raffle will be held Sept 15th. But buy early, if I see sufficient interest, we may be adding additional prizes to the pool.

Thanks for your support! Big 20 mile run this weekend--whoo hoo 20 miles

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Shout out to my running buddy

Just wanted to give a shout out to my friend Kari Holmes. If you don't know Kari, you should. She is servant hearted, compassionate, caring, and a go-getter. I first met Kari four years ago when I moved to Minneapolis. She and her daughter Sophia stopped by my classroom as Sophia was going to be in my class that year. I remember that conversation with them because we started talking about the Dominican Republic and of course running. She invited me to a Labor Day party which I thought was very kind because she hardly knew me. That year Kari helped with my computer class and of course I got to know her better because of Sophia. After that year, we and a few other friends ran the Ragnar Relay Race together. When you are in a van with several other people, running on a team with six others for 200 miles, you can't help but get to know each other. Kari's determination, perseverance, leadership and her singing late at night while running in the middle of nowhere were memorable. She has a way of making people feel encouraged, motivated, and loved which I think is why she is a great running friend and trainer.

This week we ran our longest run so far, 18.61 miles :) It wasn't a fast run, in fact we made a lot of stops due to traffic lights, drink breaks, etc, but it felt good to run that far. Well, good to get the miles in, but the muscles definitely hurt afterwards. After we finished, I thought, "Oh my goodness, if I were running the marathon I would still have 8 miles to go" which at the time seemed daunting. But Kari's encouragement that she is confident that I can finish the race put my anxious thoughts at ease.

So thanks Kari. Thanks for bringing me soup when I was sick this week, for listening to me talk for hours during those long runs, for teaching my class the writing lab this year, for doing exercises with us during summer school, for organizing a field trip to the YMCA with my tough class two years ago, for planning and throwing me a 30th birthday party, for encouraging me in running, for Pilates reformer, for spending time with my family, for praying, for sending those Bible saturated emails, for sharing your heart, (and the list goes on...)....Glad to be on this 'journey' with you...excited to see where it leads.

Here's to the kids!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Someone should be fired

The other day my boys were sharing a sucker by licking it 20 times then handing it to the other for 20 licks, and back and forth it went. I wasn't sure if I should be impressed or completely grossed out. I'll take it as a sign of maturity.

Harley is now mature because he weighs enough to turn on the airbag of
the passenger seat in my friend's car. Anyone who knows Harley understands that airbag deployment and spontaneous combustion are mutually assured. As the youngest he is well acquainted with the view from the back seat. It will be 7 years before he has access to exclusive priority seating, barring any of his siblings ascent from college to the basement. He is the type of kid that will patiently dream about his day of total household domination, and plan what he will do with each of the one thousand ninety five days that it is his. His singular current priority would be to cut of the soda supply from anyone who annoyingly screetches in his ear, followed closely by banishment to exile for anyone who destroys one of his lego creations. As far as destruction goes, he is the only one allowed to bring a tornado, followed by a hurricane followed by an F5 tornado followed by a flood, to one of his Lego empires. Imagine my relief that the concept of volcano has not breached the realm of his destructive fantasy. I believe wood floors are impervious to just about anything but molten, melted legos. My feet however, are not impervious to fully intact, painfully square Legos. Which prompted Brian, watching me prepare for church to comment:

"Michael Caine is really making a comeback in movies"

As our previous conversation held no allusions to theater, I awaited his explanation. You know, "Inception, The Dark Knight, Miss Congeniality.."

I am not duck walking, I am avoiding Legos.

For the record, the American who coined the term "bonking" to describe the aerobically induced depletion of glucose flowing to the brain which leads to impaired athletic performance really needed to do a cross check of the global lexicon before I used the term 18 times in my instruction to my British client who is running his first half marathon for World Vision. Blah blah blah, bonk, blah blah, bonk, I prattled on, finally noticing a quizzical look engulfing his face. "You've heard of the term "bonking" haven't you?" "Yes. But it has a slightly different connotation in English." Someone should be fired.

"What are we doing today?"

We are going to a picnic at a friend's lake.

"Who is going to be there?"

So and so, and so and so.

"Oh awesome! We love homeschool picnics. They have great food, it's the best. Yea, that's because they have more time."

I hear the sound of our television being thrown out the window and rolling down the hill into the graveyard pile of "hey look, now you have more time."

Training for Twin Cities Marathon is going well, the miles are adding up and anticipation is growing. If you haven't done so already, please consider throwing a few bucks into my fundraising bucket. It means a lot to me to know that we can help at least one village have access to fresh drinking water. Step by step, dollar by dollar we can reach my goal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gozo (Joy)

Running seems to be my deep thinking time. Often when I am running, lesson plans, songs, or other ideas are created. It can also be my God and me talk and pray it out time. Today was one of those runs. I woke up this morning with my friend Nikki Lerner's song in my head:

You are my shepherd, please take my hand and lead me through
You are my shepherd, no one can fill my like you do
Lead me, guide me, let my cup overflow with more of you.

As I ran today and listened to that song, a poem that I used in class with my 5th graders this year came to mind. It's called Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton. It's theme is finding joy in all. We used it to create our own poems. Here is my rendition:

There is joy in all,
in the cry of a baby in the morning,
in the smell of coffee brewing,
in the sun peering through the clouds,
in the smooth as glass water in the bay,
There is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in the shooting star that soars across the sunset sky,
in the double rainbow during the pouring rain,
in the moonlit boat ride across the lake,
in the yellow flowers growing out of the canal,
there is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in spending time with friends,
in hearing Harley Holmes say, "I feel accomplished" after conquering his fear of jumping in the water,
in watching Wyatt Holmes try to ski,
in listening to Sophia Holmes scream as she runs into the water,
in running with Kari Holmes on my normal Lake Okoboji route.
There is joy in all.

There is joy in all,
in watching my parents be grandparents,
in seeing family I haven't seen in a long time,
in observing how much my sister and brother in law love their little daughter,
in being an auntie,
There is joy in all.

All this is God,
right here in this cabin at Lake Okoboji,
and though I often forget to say thanks and worship with rejoicing,
today I am full of joy for this morning.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank you for this God, for the joy and the laughter of the morning.

For the joy that isn't shared, I've heard, dies young.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The (not so) lazy days of summer

I love the leisurely days of summer. No firm schedules outside of work and rec, no homework and a lot less rush. It's also a time for me to connect at an easier pace with my kids who are departing my house at 2, 5, 6 and 9 year intervals; an ominous fact with which to bait mom. Apparently they've never seen my countdown calender
All kidding aside, I really do love the extra time with my Tribe and I've learned quite a bit just by listening to them chatter as we move from place to place. For instance, a car loaded with 3-13 year old girls and a 17 year year old can come up with 487 adjectives that appropriately attach to the word "butt" in the time it takes to drive from Duluth to Two Harbors. I had no idea they could be so verbose about a single body part. My 10 year old boy on the other hand is a bit more mature as he has hit puberty at full stride. He knows this because he is thirsty all the time and he has underarm hair. I suggested he get a drink and take a
shower and suddenly he is my little guy once again. My somewhat antisocial 12 year old gets his first cell phone and suddenly he is being dropped off at the mall at regular intervals to hang out with friends. Ma Bell would be proud. Trimama would just be plain confused. And this is not the only confusion in the household of late. My 17 year old can blow by and knock down girls twice her size on the rugby pitch, ace her AP US History exam, and yet lives in mortal fear of taking her driving test in the off chance that she won't pass it on the first try. Apparently every person in her known universe passes the test on the first try. She must not have chatted with her Aunt Chris. Avocado is best when perfectly cubed, water is best when drank from a hose, the next door neighbor boys are the best opponents in a water fight as they always buy ice cream when they lose, and they seem to lose a lot, and mail order is the best means for purchasing a trampoline because god only knows why, but apparently it would be delivered encased in bubblewrap which comes in handy when you want extra protection against falling. Ice cream is the best dinner, chocolate brownies are the best breakfast and mom working the night to morning shift is the best reason that Dad needs to go to cooking school. Summer is also best for planning non-pending weddings down the the father/daughter dance song, accumulating 15 trillion in Kinz Cash and assaulting the Earth Benders atop a mountain of legos. We really need to get back to the library. Summer has that uncanny way of slowing down and speeding up at the same time. The sunsets linger and the sunrise hastens, the storms chase and the clouds drift, the Tribe grows older and more responsible and then someone starts a war squeezing whip cream down a shirt.

Oh well, I love summer