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Monday, November 29, 2010

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Climb the Hills

I've been training for a 5K race. Not because I love running. Quite the opposite. I detest the jogging motion. Living by two principles, (1) only run if someone chases me and (2) if I don't run then no one can chase me, I've fared very well over my lifetime, without the nuisance of running.

But then my children and my husband started yammering on about how they thought I couldn't run, meaning I wasn't able, I didn't have the skill or the lung capacity for it. They didn't believe I was capable of running at all. So, in a moment of delirium I vowed to show them.

My vow resulted in training for a 5K race. I don't think this is what people call having the last laugh.

The hardest part of my training has been the hills. Did you know that 90% of the world can only be accessed by going up hill? This fact came as a revelation to me when I found myself on foot looking at what lay ahead and thinking I better go on home the way I came because I'll never master that monstrosity. I even said it out loud: "I'll die before I get to the top of that hill."

 Despite that nay saying, loudmouth voice, I dug down deep and discovered the smoldering ashes of determination.This is how I climbed the hill:
  1. I shushed the nagging voice telling me I couldn't do it and, even if I could, I didn't have to.
  2. I quit looking at the top of the hill or the long incline leading there. Seeing how far I had to go overwhelmed me.
  3. I quit thinking about all the hills waiting for me beyond that one. There will always be a next hill to climb. It's best to focus on the one at hand.
  4. Although, I quit looking at it, I made getting to the top my singular goal.
  5. I relaxed my shoulders, my arms and my jaw.
  6. I put one foot forward and then the other foot, and so on, not stopping.
  7. I concentrated on each step, only one step at a time. Every step toward my goal was a success in and of itself. Each step was celebrated. 
The process mesmerized me into forgetting about the size of the challenge I had taken on. It made what I thought was impossible for me completely doable. Before, I feared every incline in the road ahead. I would change my route to avoid upward runs. Nonetheless, another hill was usually right around the corner anyway. Try as I did, I could not escape these bumps in my road.

Fear, however, was holding me back from what was waiting on the other side: confidence and accomplishment. Had I never summoned up the guts to get up and go I would have never experienced the thrill of running down the other side. And, oh, what a feeling that is!

TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What hill is holding you back? What hill are you avoiding because you think you can't climb them? How has this complicated your life and your routines? What's on the other side that you're missing out on because of fear? Today, start climbing that hill, one step at a time. You can do it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Plump and Perky Turkey

A plump and perky turkey - stomachs rumbled at the thought.
~from A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Shopping Like a Man

So my 15 year-old son comes home from a school trip a couple of weekends ago telling me he's discovered the perfect place for us to do our Christmas shopping. He promises me that it's not too far away; just up I-20 a piece. From that point he nags and nudges me about going there until my knees buckle and I find myself in the driver's seat of my minivan heading west on the interstate.

As the speedometer needle swings over to 75, I ask about exact location. "I don't know," he confesses, suddenly not so full of himself.

"What's it called," I say.

"I don't know," he answers again. "But I'll know it when I see it. The sign has cherries on it . . . or maybe those were apples. It's something like the Country Store, I think."

"Is that country with a K or a C?" He ignores my joke and assures me this will be worth the trip. They've got the coolest stuff there; something for everyone on our Christmas list. Approaching every off-ramp, he announces, "I think this is it," then as I make ready to exit, recants, "No, it must be the next one." It goes on like this for miles.

Finally, he commits to an exit and we leave the interstate. He cranes his neck looking in both directions. "Left," he says. "I see it over there."

"Where," I ask, turning left, not seeing anything that looks remotely like a gift store.

"Down there on the right," he points. "Mama, you're going to love this place."

Following his insistence, I pull in and park:

Yes, those are gas tanks you see on the left side of the picture. And yes, again, my child has taken me to a gas station for travelers and truckers and, might I say, 40-something year-old suckers.

He enthusiastically escorts me in the doors and begins pulling items from displays, demonstrating what they do and how they work and making suggestions for recipients. The jar of water labeled a Georgia tornado would be perfect for his sister. It would entertain her for hours. One of his uncles would be beside himself to open some beef jerky and a Budweiser can cleverly converted to hold a hidden water bottle on Christmas morning.

He has his eye on the 5 lb. candy bar for me (you'll hear no complaints) and an enormous Rice Krispie Treat for his father. Birdhouses of every sort, including an Elvis with the entry through his mouth, catch the boy's attention, making him think of his grandmother. For the relative who has everything? A license plate Christmas tree ornament that reads Luv Trucker, packaged with a Sprite and a Snickers Bar.

He's right, I'm fascinated. I feel like a voyeur looking into the twisted mind of a teenage boy, a road-weary salesman or a typical male at Christmas time. I even find myself thinking that we'll have to check back for specials on Black Friday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Are You Rushing the Season?

Today is November 15 and this yard is filled with Christmas crap flung corner to corner, and the homeowner, who caught me stopped in front of his house taking pictures, informed me that he isn't finished yet. I wanted ask him does he not have anything for which to be thankful? I wanted to tell him there's no book titled Skipping Thanksgiving.

But I'm passive and he was proud and a confrontation over out-of-season decorations really wouldn't have done either of us any good. He probably wouldn't have said, "Oh, ma'am, you're right. We haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet. I didn't even consider how I'm cutting the glory of fall short. Let me go right now and pack up all this junk until after we eat turkey next week."

More than likely, he would have told me to get my bah-humbug ass the hell off of his lawn.

But truly, why the rush? Why the hurry to get to the next destination, the next holiday, the next big event, instead of allowing the season to unfold in its given time?

We all do this. I'm as guilty as anyone else of rushing something; of wishing days of my life away because they're between me and some future event or goal, failing to recognize that the between is pretty darn important in its own right. It's time I'll never get back.

We rush our babies to walk so we don't have to carry them. We rush our weeks to pass so we can get to the weekends. We rush through books so we can find out what happens at the end.

Rushing on to the next thing doesn't necessarily ensure I'll enjoy it anymore than if I wait for it to arrive at its scheduled moment. For example, I've noticed that people who rush the Christmas season, pack up their nativity scenes and throw Santa back in the garage on Christmas Day or the day after, never even giving the Wise Men a chance to arrive and discover baby Jesus in the manger. They don't know that the best days of Christmas come when all the pressure of presents and parties ends, when we can sit around and enjoy the tree and each other in the warm glow of Christmas lights.

TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: What are you rushing? If it's Christmas, go take down those decorations and concentrate on what you have to be thankful for, like a second chance to put them up again. If it's something else, start today practicing patience. Resolve to enjoy the "between" and everything else in its own time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brace Yourself

I've been humming Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving Song for a week now, so I know the tryptophan coma is almost upon us. Time to brace myself for the influx of family. Time to tolerate my mother suggesting that we talk about something other than politics at the Thanksgiving table, only for her to complain when we rehash the history of who has been to jail, who hasn't, and who tried really hard but couldn't get in.

Personally, I think Turkey Day is the finest holiday we Americans have ever invented. No gifts. Few decorations. And little pressure, except for working hard to not say something that offends the in-laws, like asking, "What is that revolting green stuff in that bowl?" Note: It's a traditional Thanksgiving dish whipped together with pistachio pudding, marshmallows, chopped green grapes and pecans developed by now-deceased grandmother. Who knew?

With all this in mind, I'm preparing to place myself in a Cranberry Fog forthwith. The recipe follows:

1/4 cup cocktail rimming or granulated sugar
1 lime wedge
1 cup frozen cranberries
8 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 cup Simple Syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
8 ounces tequila
1/3 cup orange liqueur
2 cups crushed ice

Run the lime wedge around the rim of 4 margarita glasses. Dip each glass in the sugar. Puree the next three ingredients until smooth. Add everything else and then blend again, until smooth. Here I diverge from the directions, which say to evenly divide the mixture between the four glasses. I say fill your glass first and drink it down to be sure you've concocted an elixir suitable for sharing. Then divide the rest between the four glasses and serve.
         ~From Peterson's Holiday Helper

As a side note, tequila plays a role in my futile one-time effort to get into jail. My mother really hates to hear that story at Thanksgiving.