Saturday, September 3, 2011

Calling Mark Beaumont!

“I believe there is some kind of adventurer in all of us.  My dream is to share expeditions that push the boundaries of physical and mental capabilities with the world.  Questioning what is possible is the key to success in every walk of life.”
-          Mark Beaumont

I have this silly delusion that Mark Beaumont reads my blog.  What better things has he to do?  Set the world record for cycling around the world?  Bike 15,000 miles from North America to South?  Row across the Arctic?  Surely he has time to indulge in reading the writings of an Ohio mom who has nothing particular to say.  

I confess that until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of Mark Beaumont, and I certainly didn't know he ever held the World Record For Cycling the World! Then one day at the library while I was looking for books about triathlons, I came across his book, The Man Who Cycled the World.  As something of a world traveler myself (well, I've been in 6 countries on 3 continents), I was a little intrigued.  Cycle the world?  Really?  Here I’d been feeling pretty impressed with myself for biking 20k in one go this summer! 

Reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mr. Beaumont hails from Dundee, Scotland, a place I happen to have visited Once Upon A Time.  It made the book even better because I might get to use my Scottish Burr silent reading voice.  Sadly, it turned out that the my silent reading voice goes much quicker in an American accent, so there we are.

The book really got to me on a number of levels.  It took me to parts of the world I’ve been, but showed them to me through a very different set of eyes; and it took me to parts of the world I may never visit.  More importantly, it took me into the spirit of an adventurer, a competitor; someone similar to me, but infinitely braver.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit the delete key in writing this – I’m having an awful time verbalizing the feelings I took away from The Man Who Cycled the World.

It was about more than the adventure, more than being a global citizen.  I learned how he challenged himself; how he battled fatigue, food poisoning, monotony & loneliness; and how with a goal, a plan, a support team, and some occasions of good fortune, anything really is possible.  There we go with the delete key again.  This is woefully inadequate. 

Suffice it to say, Beaumont's book was for me not only an eye opener, but a soul opener.

Unfortunately the BBC documentary isn’t here yet, and I can’t find Beaumont’s second book, The Man Who Cycled the Americas in my library system.  Fortunately, I can follow his expeditions via his website and all the other internet doohickeys.

And in case you’re actually reading this while you’re rowing the arctic just now, Mr. Beaumont, I want you to know that you’ve changed my worldview and what I believe is possible and what I'm capable of.  My birthday isn’t far off; if I happen to receive a copy of one of your books, any chance you’ll cycle to Ohio and sign it for me?

Safe travels!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Karin's Escape: The Musical

  I was crying before I even got out of bed this morning.  I was thinking about things my surgeon said yesterday, procedures which took me by surprise.  I took those things and I ran with them, binding those bricks of words together with mortar of fear and imagination.  I was in a right state by the time I got down the stairs on a twisted ankle, on my way to cleaning up our elderly dog's latest accident.

  Food isn't going to make me feel better.  Exercise is a no-go today on this ankle.  And heaven knows I'm not going to pour out my tale of woe to all my friends (though clearly I'm willing to do so to the anonymous souls who stick it out till the end of this blog).

  I tried putting thoughts into words, but a couple little girls in my living room were happily singing away, depleting my angst note by note.  When I took 'em to school, I popped on one of my favorite cds; the artists on it are able to take my soul, drag it to depths and then launch it with hope and power from my chest and through the heavens.  The girls, unable to care less, resumed singing their happy, giggly songs.

  And I thought - that's right.  Music saves.  It's what gets me going.  It's how my husband and I found each other.  So, in anticipation of weeks of relative inactivity and spending too much time with myself and my thoughts, I'm compiling a list of songs which pull me out of myself and into the world in one way or another.

In no particular order, here's Part One....

Take Me As I Am - Sugarland

The Highwayman - Phil Ochs

Defying Gravity from Wicked

I Want To Live - John Denver

Impossible Dream from Man of la Mancha 

Back to Before from Ragtime, the Musical

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post Script

  When I took pictures of the strollers earlier, I had to snap one of my bike, too.  I love my bike for the freedom it gives me, for how speedily it gets me places, and for the plain old fun of it.

  As a young mom, I listened to voices of caution (the grandparents) who were dead set against me putting any of their grandkids on a toddler bike seat.  Well now I’m a not-nearly-as-young mom, I love riding my bike, and gas is expensive, so this summer, thanks to the help of friends, my bike has a new appendage.

  Littlest and I have biked all kinds of errands.  In the beginning, I was so nervous about her being back there (Would my backside squash her?  Would a bump send her flying?  Would I forget how to steer and tip us both over?) that I asked “Are you okay back there?” frequently enough that my cherubic 3-year-old replied, “You already asked me that.”  J

  So today we mounted my bonnie bike and rode to the library.  It’s an excellent way to teach a child left and right and straight ahead, and it’s also an excellent way of causing strangers to question my sanity.

  When we got to the library, another cyclist was just in front of me.  He heard me saying, “Hooray!  We made it!”  And he watched me dismount my bike; then his face lit up when he saw Littlest.  He said to me, “I didn’t see her back there and I thought you were talking to your bike.”  Maybe I was.


Fun on wheels

  Our garage is home to all sorts of things on wheels: roller skates, bicycles, a tricycle, a lawn mower, a wagon, and three - count 'em, 3 -  strollers.  Sure, only one member of our family actually rides in a stroller, but it’s nice to have options, I guess.

  There’s the heavy duty one left over from baby days: practically a barcalounger complete with tray, 3 drink holders, and underseat storage, outdated as it is, it puts airline seats to shame. 

  Then there’s the umbrella stroller.  I bought it at a dollar store in Nebraska and it carries happy memories, so despite rarely being used, it stays.  I think it’s called an umbrella stroller because its low handles force me to stoop over like an umbrella when I push it.  Or perhaps because its little wheels mean that every time we hit a bump, Littlest is bounced up toward the clouds.

  And lastly there’s the jogging stroller.  You'd think that with a title like Jogging Stroller, the thing would actually jog.  But it doesn't.  Nonetheless, it’s a dream to push, it steers beautifully, and Littlest loves riding in it.  And I feel like a cheater because when it's just Littlest, the jogging stroller, and me, there’s no jogging going on (though there is an overabundance of wheelies).

  I decided that I would change that today.  I spent last night psyching myself up, right down to what I was going to wear (running gear?  mom clothes?).  The introvert in me is well aware that all the world’s a stage (thanks for pointing that out, Mr. Shakespeare), and here’s me without a costume designer and make-up artist.

  Anyhoo.  I walked the kids to school.  Yes, walked.  Then on the way home, when Littlest and I passed enough families that our way was clear of pedestrians, I took a few jogging steps. 

  “Eurgh, I’m a bad jogger.  I bet people driving past me are choking on their coffee.”

  “Okay, I’m just gonna jog till the cross walk.”

  “I made it!  Okay, walk across the street, then jog the next block.  Wahoo!”

  “Ack!  People up ahead.  Put on a brave face and jog till we’re at a conversational distance.”

  Stop, smile, greet, talk, off we go again.  ("Hey, no one mentioned seeing a hippo pushing a jogging stroller down the street!  How about that!")

  “Okay, we’re out of anyone’s direct line of vision.  Jog as far as the tree.”

  “Almost home, jog to the corner.  Finish strong, jog up the driveway.”

  Yes, that was my self talk.  Interestingly, Littlest's chatter was “Wheeeee!  That was fun!  Do it again!”

  We will.  We’ll do it again.  It was fun.  J

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pizza & brownies & chai, oh my!

I’ll be honest: it’s not easy to think about weight loss while knowing that in the not too distant future a surgeon will take apart my ear, clean it up, and put it back together again.  Rather like a mechanic, except that unlike a car which has extra pipes and things to get banged up in the process, I have more delicate things like facial nerves.

Part of me would very much like to curl up on the couch under a blanket and zone out in front of the TV, with a steady supply of comfort food magically appearing within fingertip reach.  Think of it: warm and snuggly, a chick flick on, pizza & fudgy brownies with chocolate chips, chai – both iced and warm – to drink.  Talk about safety and comfort.

And a complete lack of health.  Really now.  Forget weight loss, think health.

In order for my body to heal up good and proper so that I can do all the things I want to do (new clothes, faster triathlon), my body needs to be strong.  It needs actual fuel.

So, tempting as it is to give in to skip my workout, I’ll go.  Soon enough my body will be on forced sabbatical, with its primary workout being healing.  I’m already practicing lowering my calorie intake for the couch potato days ahead.

I don’t want to work out today.  Then again, I didn’t particularly want to last night either, but I exercised anyway.  And I improved my mood and got all sweaty and got just a little stronger.  I remember grinning like a fool on the arc trainer and feeling proud.

And the endorphins and memories of a good workout will sustain me through today's Battle of Comfort Food.  They’ve done so before and will do so again.  It’s up to me to engage them.


PS – If anyone from the Cleveland Clinic, Lake Health, University Hospital, or anywhere is reading this: Might I suggest that you create a program to help people prepare emotionally and physically for surgery?  And hire me as your consultant and innovator, or at least send a royalties check.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

That does not compute

Oh dear.  Now it would appear I’ve become dependent on a web site for tracking what I eat.  Pen and paper no longer suffice since I’ve started using software.  Therefore, after losing our computer to last week’s lightning storm, I didn’t track.  And since I wasn’t tracking, I didn’t eat as well as I otherwise would have. 

I don’t like that.

I’m grateful to have computer access again, access to my online journal, but I need to be responsible for my eating, no matter what.  Back to eating right and tracking; with the lesson learned that I can’t let lack of access to software derail me.