Sunday, December 9, 2012

Because I Have Been Given Much

(From a talk I gave today in sacrament meeting)
With Thanksgiving just behind us and the Christmas holidays in full swing, I have had many opportunities to ponder on the many blessings I have. Each day I am overwhelmed as I inventory not just the daily things each day like home, food, clothing, shelter – but the luxuries I’m given like having a good job with a not-crazy boss, talents I’ve been given that allow me to fulfill the job responsibilities, physical health that allows me to exercise; a wonderful family of origin with loving parents and siblings who would do anything for me; an amazing family of choice who support and encourage me.

Beyond even those things are the smaller, harder to inventory miracles that occur and even change each day. I was reminded recently of Elder Eyring’s counsel to take some time at the close of each day and inventory or even document the tender mercies of the Lord, or the infinite ways I see His hand in my life each day. Sometimes those things are as simple as a pleasant conversation with a stranger in the elevator on the way to work, or the smile of a primary child in the hallways at church – anything that reminds me of the constant love and presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in my daily life.

Each time I think of my many blessings I’ve received each day, I am reminded of King Benjamin’s powerful speech to the Nephites in the book of Mosiah. His ultimate intention, the centerpiece of his message is to call his people to Christ. He wants them to feel the true conversion of the message of the gospel that he has come to feel in his own life. To do this, he reminds the Nephites that without the goodness and blessings of a loving Heavenly Father, they would be and have, quite literally, nothing.

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you. (Mosiah 2:23-25)

The people realize the truth in this – that they are nothing without Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. After realizing this, they wonder how they can repay this great debt. King Benjamin’s answer is simple:
“…when ye are in the service of your cfellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17)

One of my favorite hymns comes from a poem called, “Because of Thy Great Bounty,” written by poet Grace Crowell. These words made it into what I still call “the new” hymnbook in 1985.  The third verse expresses those feelings of overwhelming gratitude I feel each day:

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need; I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

Elder Ballard in this last General Conference also talked about why it’s important to do service for our fellowmen:  “The Savior’s words are simple, yet their meaning is profound and deeply significant. We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.

“As the Epistle of James notes, service is the very definition of pure religion (see James 1:27). We read of the service Church members provide around the world and especially the humanitarian service given in times of crisis—fires and floods and hurricanes and tornadoes. These much-needed and much-appreciated emergency responses should certainly continue as a way of bearing one another’s burdens. But what about our everyday lives? What would be the cumulative effect of millions of small, compassionate acts performed daily by us because of our heartfelt Christian love for others? Over time this would have a transformative effect upon all of our Heavenly Father’s children through the extension of His love to them through us. Our troubled world needs this love of Christ today more than ever, and it will need it even more in the years ahead.

“How do we make this change? How do we ingrain this love of Christ into our hearts? There is one simple daily practice that can make a difference for every member of the Church, including you boys and girls, you young men and you young women, you single adults, and you fathers and mothers.

“That simple practice is: In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible. (M. Russell Ballard, “Be Anxiously Engaged,” General Conference October 2012.)

“We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. … We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”  (President Thomas S. Monson)

A few weeks ago, Linda, Cinnamon and I went to Disneyland. One of our favorite activities to do there is to people-watch. We have a few observation games we play, such as Spot the Mormon and Fashion Bingo (this includes things like a woman wearing impractical high-heeled shoes, or other inappropriate or funky fashion choices.) On this particular visit, Linda decided to get more specific with our hunt. We made a list of things we could look for such as someone wearing a Spider-Man shirt, or a First Time Visitor button. We were even on the lookout for someone with a real dog.

To make things even more exciting, we had a point system. The first person to see an item got three points, the second person got two points, and the third person got one point. It was a pretty close rasc, but we still hadn’t found anyone wearing a BYU shirt. For some reason they were in short supply that day. On our way out, we finally saw someone wearing a BYU shirt. I think we scared the poor guy about half to death as we all shouted at once, “BYU!!!!” in our attempt to win the three points for spotting him first.

As I’ve been thinking about the admonition from our prophets and apostles to become more Christlike in our daily lives, not just on Sundays, but how to really ingrain those attributes in my life, so that I may show my gratitude, I have started making a scavenger hunt list of my own. The first thing on that list is to look for people that I may serve, or even that I NEED to serve that day. Making prayer a part of that step should not be forgotten.

After we know who to serve, it is important to know the correct way to serve. Sister Linda K. Burton had these wise words from the last General Conference that can help us know HOW to serve: “First observe, then serve.

“We are all invited to follow Jesus’s teachings and to minister to others. This invitation is not limited to angelic sisters. As I share a few everyday examples of members who have learned to first observe and then serve, listen for the teachings of Jesus they illustrate.
“A six-year-old Primary child said: “When I was chosen to be a class helper, I could choose a friend to work with me. I picked [a boy in my class who bullied me] because he never gets chosen by others. I wanted to make him feel good.”

“What did this child observe? He noticed that the class bully never got chosen. What did he do to serve? He simply chose him to be his friend as a class helper. Jesus taught, 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.'”  (Linda K. Burton, October 2012 General Conference.)

I recently saw a video showing different acts of kindness captured on security cameras throughout the world. (I was going to share the link here, but it’s been pulled on YouTube due to a copyright dispute.) The people doing good deeds didn’t know they were being recorded, and they did good and kind things, without any thought of themselves or of any form of repayment. The thought I had as I was watching this was, “What would I be caught doing if I thought no one was watching?” and hoped that I would be caught doing good things.

At about the same time I saw this video, I started hearing stories of other acts of service. (I've always hated the term "Random Acts of Kindness." Why does it have to be "random?" I firmly believe that all acts of kindness should me meaningful. They may be unexpected and unplanned and completely spontaneous, and maybe that's why people call them "random," but service should never be random. End soapbox.) One of the stories I heard was about a mother who struggled to make ends meet. She had the opportunity to one day help another struggling mother at the grocery store purchase some groceries for her own family when she couldn't afford even the basic necessities. The gift was made even greater because this woman knew what it felt like to be in a similar situation and was able to give of herself, thus making it meaningful service for both parties.

We all have busy lives, and adding one more thing onto an already full to-do list can seem daunting at best, impossible at worst. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “…we need not be afraid or feel inadequate. The Savior has promised that He will make us equal to His work. “Follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” As we follow Him, He blesses us with gifts, talents, and the strength to do His will, allowing us to go beyond our comfort zones and do things we’ve never before thought possible. This may mean sharing the gospel with neighbors, rescuing those who are spiritually lost, serving a full-time mission, working in the temple, raising a child with special needs, loving the prodigal, serving an ailing companion, enduring misunderstandings, or suffering affliction. It means preparing ourselves to answer His call by saying, “I’ll go where you want me to go; I’ll say what you want me to say; I’ll do what you want me to do; I’ll be what you want me to be.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, October 2012 General Conference.)

To me, one of the biggest challenges is learning to give of myself. It’s easy to think about giving some spare money to a homeless person outside of McDonald’s after I’ve just enjoyed a hot fudge sundae. Giving money is easy. Giving of myself is a little more difficult, and it’s why I need to be reminded to serve the individual, not just the situation.

I’ve been chuckling as I think about how much fun it would be to be on a constant scavenger hunt to serve others. I want to have the same amount of enthusiasm to serve someone as we did when we found the guy wearing the BYU shirt.  

My scavenger list looks something like this:

  • Pray for opportunities to serve
  • Look for opportunities to serve as I listen to the Spirit
  • Have a smile on my face
  • Serve the RIGHT way after observing what needs to be done
  • Remember that we are all children of God, regardless of circumstances
  • Give of myself
  • Don’t overextend and cause unnecessary stress

In last week’s First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Monson said, “Overdoing it is especially common this time of year for many of us. The causes for this might include too many Christmas activities to attend, too much to eat, too many expectations and too much tension. Often our efforts at Christmas time result in our feeling stressed out, wrung out and worn out during a time we should feel the simple joys of commemorating the birth of our Savior.

“The real joy of Christmas is found from making the Savior Jesus Christ the focus of the season. We can keep Him in our thoughts and in our lives as we go about the work He would have us perform here on earth.

“He who gives money gives much
“He who gives time gives more
“But he who gives of himself gives all.

“True love is a reflection of the Savior’s love. In December of each year we call it the Christmas spirit. You can hear it. You can see it. You can feel it.

“May we, as did the Wise Men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us to our Christmas opportunity in service to our fellow man. May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior, and may one and all have a joy-filled Christmas.” (Thomas S. Monson, First Presidency Christmas Devotional December 2012) 

 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

'Tis the Season

This weekend we had a nativity/crèche festival at our church building. There were a lot of different choirs scheduled to perform from other churches in the community, some schools, choirs from our stake, and some solo performers. Over 350 nativity sets were on display, pictures of Jesus Christ, and a live nativity with real animals! It was all quite beautiful. Here are some of my favorite nativity sets from it, as well as a picture from the live nativity.













Friday, November 30, 2012

So Many Things

There are many things I could write about but I'm pretty beat and have to get up early tomorrow. GET to. Get to get up early tomorrow - chapel / ward building cleaning assignment. I was already up there tonight to make sure the restrooms were presentable since there's a huge nativity festival in our building this weekend. I didn't want any of our visitors and guests to think we're complete slobs.

In lieu of anything meaningful, I'm going to show you the photos I submitted for cimblog(tm)'s photo blog for November.

Glass
Thankful
Tunnel (user choice)
Action
Cozy
Energy
Fun
Page
















Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Philosophical Ramblings

No, I don’t intend on being terribly philosophical in this post; rather will discuss a philosopher and one (or two) of his philosophies.

I heard the term Aristotelian Square today for the first time. So I Googled it (what else?) and gained no additional understanding into what it means. I know what it IS, but not what it MEANS. From what I could gather from my detailed, 10 minute perusal through a couple of sites about it, it’s a way to deduce. Not even a way to deduce. It’s a diagram graphing the way we think or logic our way through things.

I’d never heard of such a thing before (but I didn't go to graduate school, so there). Isn’t thinking just…thinking? Some people are better at it than others – and by that I don’t mean to say that anyone is dumber than anyone else (although I sure do know a lot of dumb people!), just that people have different ways of approaching problems. There are creative thinkers, logical thinkers and idiots. Everyone looks at the same thing different ways and comes up with different ways of arriving at a solution – perhaps even a different solution.

From what I gather, this is a mathematical (logical) way of describing problems. Things are either all the way one way or not, or some of the way one way or the other.  Another name for this is “The Square of Opposition.”  It looks like this:


I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. And the more I read about it and tried to figure it out, the more I thought, “Well, but what’s the point?” I mean, do we really need someone to tell us this? Isn’t thinking just … thinking? It is what it is. Do we need to think about thinking now?

So I Googled, “Aristotelian Square what’s the point” and found a lesson plan from someone at (I think, but don’t ask me to think how I think about it) the University of Kentucky, “Venn Diagrams and the Modern Square of Opposition.” Ah, this is something I understand. I love me a good Venn diagram. I bet you do too, you just don’t know it. It’s a simple way to diagram complex ideas without a lot of words. Take, for example, this (stolen from thisisindexed.com):

From the UKY lesson plan: 
These are standardized drawings that help us visualize and represent categorical propositions, and later, with modifications, categorical syllogisms. There is no real reason for them to be the way they are, rather than the little doodles you are probably already making to visualize what's going on in categorical propositions, except to standardize them so they are recognizable to anybody. (at least anybody who knows the conventions.)
The text should be pretty self-explanatory here. Just remember:
Þ The basic diagram for a proposition is two interlocked circles, side by side.
Þ The left circle represents the S class. Label it with a letter that suits the particular term you are diagramming.
Þ The right circle represents the P class. Label it with a different letter.
Venn Diagrams for Boolean Propositions:
The difference between the Boolean diagrams and Aristotelian or traditional diagrams, which you'll learn soon, lies in the way you draw universal statements. Boole figured that universal statements made no assumptions about the existence of the objects being talked about. In the modern interpretation, "All unicorns are animals with one horn" means "if you do encounter a unicorn it will have one horn." or "There are no unicorns that are not also one horned animals." So the diagrams for these simply indicate where individuals named would be found if there are any, and where they aren't in any case.
Here – try one on your own. Here’s a picture I took this morning of a treat I found in my break room. The large label says “Bacon Covered Chocolate.” The smaller label says, “Chocolate Covered Oreos.” You could easily draw a Venn diagram describing my level of excitement at the prospect of bacon-covered chocolate vs. the disappointment of discovering it was only an Oreo. 


On another note – I did a little more reading on Aristotle and his two main predecessors Socrates and Plato. Socrates was eventually executed for thinking too much. Rather, for making other people think too much. They didn’t like it. They probably didn’t like to be made to feel dumb, which wasn’t Socrates’s point at all – he just wanted people to think and reason for themselves. Plato, one of Socrates’s students, continued his tradition adding some other layers to his belief system – and I couldn’t really find one of Plato’s that I could get behind. I’m glad I wasn’t around when he was in charge.

Aristotle seemed to be a bit more reasonable and friendly. (He was also Alexander the Great’s tutor/mentor.) One of the new theories he developed was called The Theory of Potentiality which says, in part:
Potentiality means that within everything, people included, there exists a natural evolution toward fulfilling its own potential, in essence becoming its own Form. A movement in nature and in humans from imperfection to perfection, or as close as anything can get to perfection. This is a hardwired component in all things that is an involuntary process, according to Aristotle. The universe is in a constant progression of being and becoming, from the Big Bang to the inevitable Big Chill on a cosmic scale to the cycle of birth and death in the human condition.
Aristotle speaks of causes in the process from potentiality to actuality and identifies four:
  • The material cause means that an external force is creating or initiating the new thing.
  • The efficient cause is the process of creation.
  • The formal cause is that certain something in its natural state.
  • The final cause is what it can become when it fulfills its potential.
 And his ethical philosophy is that happiness is the ultimate goal of humankind. I like that quite a bit as well.
For Aristotle, true happiness can only come from leading a virtuous life. He believed in a happy medium in all things. Moderation was a major virtue. It kept one free from vice and free to work toward one's potentiality. In this goal-oriented age, people may mistake this for ambition and getting ahead in the material world. Aristotle was referring to an innate forward motion of potentiality that unconsciously drove all things in the universe, people included. So, we are constantly “potentializing,” whether we know it or not. This is the path and the goal of the person living the truly virtuous and happy life.
Aristotle places a high premium on friendship as well. True friendships are to be cultivated and treasured. Your true friend is almost like your doppelganger, your spiritual double. A true friend is there “to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” In other words, Aristotle advocates a virtuous buddy system.

Go live up to your potential today (don’t limit yourself).
Be happy (but not at the expense of others).
Be a good friend.

Sounds like another good Venn diagram! Meanwhile, here's some more food for thought, diagram-aly speaking:


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Next? Part 2

Today I left work, mindlessly taking the same route to my car as I always do. Get into the elevator for the parking garage, get out, turn left, walk over to the second row, second pillar in the set of six spaces, silver car - bam. There it...isn't. There's a silver car, but it looks different than mine. "Interesting," I think to myself, noting things about "my" car that I've never noticed before. Press the unlock button on my keys. Nothing. I look around at the other cars, to see if perhaps I parked in a different space than I usually do. Retrace my morning routine in my head, trying to remember if I left during lunch or for a meeting in another building without remembering. No, the more I think and shake myself out of my thoughtless stupor, the more sure I am that I did not go out for lunch in my car, and my manager drove to that one meeting. So, where's my car? Try pressing the button a couple of times, pointing it at other random silver cars, and still nothing. Turn slowly around in a circle, and finally notice...I'm on P3, not P2.

All the other mental exercising about reliving my day auto-wise has taken my reserves from me, so I can't even begin to fathom how I wound up on P3 instead of P2, especially considering there was no one else with me in the parking garage elevator. I have only myself to blame.

I don't mind telling you it got my heart pumping a bit faster.

There are better ways for aerobic exercise though - and ones that I prefer to wonder who's committed grand theft auto on my car.

I noted the other day that I plan on doing the Huntsman 140 bike ride fundraiser for cancer research (or is it the 75? TBD.). I also mentioned that there are things I'd like to do; should be doing. Today I got specific with those things. As long as goals remain vague, accomplishing them will also be vague and utterly undoable.

2012 (what's left of it) goals:
Run 50 miles by the end of the year.
Bile 50 miles by the end of the year.

The running one is going to be a bit tricky since I'll be cutting down on my running by one day a week. I'm picking up the Tuesday morning spin class at the gym (again), so there's one day a week I won't be able to run. It means getting in about 16 miles a week on average.Most weeks I run three to four days, averaging 3.5 miles each time. Lately I had been adding more mileage on getting ready for the 10K. I had anticipated that number going down sharply starting next week as I start to get ready for the Huntsman ride.

But.

Vague goals...remember those? I'm making one more concrete, for next year:

Run a half-marathon.

There, I said it. That means that now I'm committed. Perhaps I should be committed, but I'm committed. (That gets funny if you let it gestate for a bit.)

I've been limiting my goals based on my perceived limitations of myself. There is no growth or progress that way. So I've decided to lift all self-perceived limitations and just go for it. Why not run 13 miles within three and a half hours (the time limit set for the event I've selected)? That's a 15 minute/mile pace, and I can do that easily now. Factoring in fatigue and soreness and endurance, I should be able to do that. The goal I've set for myself is to do complete it in 2 1/2 hours. Totally doable.

Part of my motivation in doing this, or the reasoning for not setting limits on myself is learning last week that Eddie Izzard, a British comedian, ran 43 marathons in 51 days in 2010.

Forty-three days of 26.2 miles each of those days. This is a man with no formal running training of any kind. He spent two weeks training, then just went and did it. He was 47 years old at the time. He essentially ran six days out of every seven. And he got better each time. He finished, and that's the important thing.

I've had some practice at running. If he can do all that, I can do a measly 13 miles. Thirteen point one, to be precise.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

What's Next?

Well you might ask. I'm still planning on doing the 10K version of the turkey trot next year. I need to do more 10Ks and 5Ks to help me get better at racing and the atmosphere of it. Maybe some day I'll be ready for a half-marathon. Someday, yes.

What else? How about a fund-raising bike ride for the fight against cancer? Yes, that's definitely on my list. It means gearing my training routine more towards bike riding now than running. I'll still keep running- that's more of how I identify myself than as a cyclist. That may change too. But I've got big plans for next June- 140 miles from Delta, Utah to Salt Lake City ... In one day. Possible? Of course not. But it will be fun to try. We may actually do the 75-mile version, which still raises the same amount of money and is twice as easy on a saddle-sore butt.

I was part of the support group for my sister who did the 140 version last year. I loved playing that role, but hated that she didn't have anyone on the actual road, pedaling side by side with her for support in that area.. That's why I'm doing it - I love my sister and I hate cancer. I can't think of two better reasons to do that.

I'm also excited because for as many life lessons, allegories and gospel principles I gain from running, I'm looking I forward to learning new ways of learning about life and the gospel from becoming a cyclist.

Stay tuned.

For now, here's the video I made of my sister during the Huntsman 140 this past June.

Shoot. I can't get the embedded feature to work, or am too tired to figure it out on a mobile device. Here's the link. I'll embed it later. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lps5XLO4q_o

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Words Matter

There is a Buddhist saying that goes, "Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change the world." I have been thinking about words lately and trying to choose the ones I use with more care and consideration. You really can say the same things many different ways. How you say it matters. Perhaps I'll write more about that later.

Today's topic is more about grammar and punctuation, especially the (im)proper use of apostrophes. I fear that the finer points of our written language are getting lost and destroyed through misuse, ignorance and the digital age. When I see "its" vs "it's" used correctly, I rejoice.

There was cause for celebration tonight at the frozen yogurt shop I went to. The description on one of the placards said something like, "It's a perfect combination of blah and blah. Its smooth flavor will delight you." Something like that. Scattered throughout the store were little signs inviting the customer to text the owner if they were pleased with the store's appearance. I appreciated the place,net of the apostrophes, so I sent a text as invited, "Thank you for excellent grammar and punctuation on your signs!"

A few minutes later I received this response: "Your welcome! Have a nice weekend!"

#facepalm

Clearly the owner/manager is not responsible for the lovely description.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Fastest of the Slow

Thanksgiving has come and gone, although we still have some fantastic leftovers remaining. In fact, having just polished off another piece of pumpkin pie, I feel as though I have sufficient strength to tell you how my 10K went yesterday.

The race route changed from what it's been the last two years. I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that, but I really did not care for it this year. It was mostly on heavily-trafficked streets, even for a holiday, so there was only one lane dedicated to the runners. The first two miles was tough - not because of the terrain, because it was mostly downhill, but because there were so many bodies jostling for space. It improved as everyone found their stride and the mob of racers turned into just a crowd. It was even better as the 5K participants finished and the 10K runners kept going. Then there was no space concerns.

Another downside was that since the first part of the route was downhill, that meant the second half was uphill. And not just a nice gradual slope like the downhill had been. No, there were a couple of serious hills.

The good news was that since I had done some hill training I wasn't completely unprepared. The bad news was that I had only done SOME hill training, so I wasn't completely prepared. However, I managed to run up the hills and used the flats/downhills for recoveries.

After the 5K herd thinned out, I kept with pretty much the same group of people at about the same pace the whole time. That was nice - it felt like an unspoken support group. The downside to that was watching people run who seemed like they appeared more out of shape than I am or have worse form. That was a little discouraging. *shrug* Eh, oh well.

I had a goal of doing a negative split - which basically means having a faster second half of the race than first, but I didn't accomplish that - probably because I was trying to dodge people the first two miles and couldn't really find my own pace.

The breakdown of my pace/mile according to my RunKeeper app is as follows:

Mile 1: 9:20
Mile 2: 10:48
Mile 3: 10:24 (ALL UPHILL!!!!)
Mile 4: 10:28
Mile 5: 10:29
Mile 6: 11:12 (not exactly sure about that, but again, UPHILL!!!)

Average pace: 10:26. I'll take it. So my total official time was *drumroll* 1:05:15. Woot! I did it! Hit my goal!

I placed sixth in my age group - out of 13. I'll take that, too. The woman who finished in fifth had a time 11 minutes better than mine. Seventh place was only 20 seconds behind me. This makes me the fastest of the slow runners, a self-imposed title I am completely okay with. I finished, I hit my goal, and people were there at the finish line cheering me on. It doesn't really get any better than that.





For your enjoyment (amusement?) here's a video cimblog(tm) took of me at the finish line. I knew I didn't have a lot of steam left in my engine, but I felt like I was going faster for the end sprint than it looks like I am.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Runners' Humor and a Goal

The other day a friend of mine posted on Facebook something that was funny to me as a runner. I started giggling and when I tried to share it with cimblog(tm) and Linda, they were amused that I was amused, but didn't get it. I'm sharing it here because it still cracks me up.

A's Status: Carb loading for my 5K tomorrow.
Comment 1: When my friend ran his first 5K with me he asked if there would be chia seeds and pinole at the aide stations. I died.

A's response: I'm gonna wear my fuel belt.

Comment 2: Don't forget your compression socks.

A's response: I just can't choose between Blox and Gu. I'll just take both.

Comment 3: Add some sports beans for that extra energy boost. Maybe a bit of salt or better yet....a TWINKIE

Laura's comment: I'm carb loading tonight for my 10k next week

That's some good stuff right there, y'all.

So. Thursday. Thanksgiving. Turkey. Turkey Trot. It's here! I am slightly more prepared this year than I was last year. I added some hill training - not consistently, but I did some in the weeks leading up to this. I also added my interval training as I talked about before. That was great and really got my endurance up. I even held a 10:00 minute/mile pace yesterday for 3.2 miles. My usual running pace is right around 9:30, but I can't sustain that for an entire three miles. So I take about a two minute walking recovery at minute 22:00 or so, and that's what puts my average up to the 10 minute mark. It will be interesting to see what I can achieve, pace-wise, for six miles.

I've also done a few more distance runs in preparation than I did last year. Up until last year's race, the longest distance I had run at any given time was five miles, and that was two weeks before the Trot.

I've been telling people in my spin class that my goal is to finish in 65 minutes. Last year my goal was 70 minutes and I finished in 67:58. Not great, but it was ahead of my goal, and that IS great! I figure since I've trained a bit better and more organized-ly this year, and I feel like I'm in better shape, I should be able to shave two minutes off that time, no problem, right?

If I were to be completely honest, my real TRUE goal is actually 60 minutes. I think it's not likely given all the math and equations about my current pace capability, but it's secretly what I'm shooting for. I'll be thrilled to come in under 65 minutes.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'll be thrilled to finish.

Results to come later today.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fuzzy Vision

Someone at work apparently had a Thanksgiving party yesterday. The leftovers were put in the break room. All the goodies have been polished off except for this. I wonder if its because everyone else sees it like I do- mistaking the "T" for an "F."



Call Me, Maybe

A real conversation in our house last night

Cim: Look at Katherine's baby. She has huge lips.

Laura: (knowing that Katherine and James have recently moved to Alaska and noticing the dark hair and complexion of the big-lipped child) Wow.. Those ARE big. Is that kid Inuit?

Cim: Her name is Maybe.

Laura: ...

Cim: MAYBE.

Laura: Like, as in "Call me Maybe?"

Cim: (unphased) Yep.

Linda: (just got off phone and joins conversation) Whose kid is that?

Laura: (Ignores Linda's question because)That is not RIGHT. That poor kid is going to need so much therapy. That kid is going to be saddled with that Carly Rae Mae Dingdoodle Jensen Hansen Jepsen song for the rest of her natural born life!

Linda: That's like the Jones (a family we knew shooting for a dozen kids and giving each one a worse name than the one before.)

Laura: I'd rather the kid be named Sohpronia Sassafras Seven-Up Sapphire Jones than MAYBE!

Linda: She's never going to hear the end of it in elementary school. (Mimics holding out a piece of paper) "Here's my number, so call me, Maybe."

Cim: Laura, it's okay. I have no room to talk. My name is Cinnamon, for crying in the night. I'm named after a SPICE. Mission Impossible, anyone?

Laura: No, that's completely different. Not the same. At least your name is a noun!

Cim: No, it's the same! I have a ridiculous name!

Laura: (voice increasing gradually in volume) No, yours is normal. I mean, they might as well have named her Yes or Stopdigginginit! This is a horrible thing to do to a child! And you know that Katherine and James think they're all cool all, "Ooooh look at us haha we're so cool we named our kid Maybe ha ha ha!" (Trails off as she realizes ...)

Cim and Linda: (collapsed in hysterical, wheezing laughter) Bwhahahaha! "Stopdigginginit!" Is that one name or four? Is it Stopdigging Init? Or Stoppdigginginit? "Hey, c'mere, Stopdigginginit!" Bwhahahaha!

---------------------------
For the record, one of my best friends does have an unusual name. I have known her for about half of my life. Because of that, I have tried to be sensitive to people with unusual names. I have seen how many people have cocked an eyebrow at her and smirked, "Cinnamon, huh? Wow. Were your parents hippies/strippers/druggies?" Or they'll start singing that awful "Cinn-a-moooooonnnnnn" song to her, which makes everyone cringe. Stop, please. Just stop. I am in a position to meet many people in any given week. I try to curb my own raised eyebrows and just smile, accepting that there are many reasons for people having the names they do.

But honestly. What kind of sicko whack-job does that crap to their kids? I get that you want your kid to be unique and stand out from a crowd. And with such ordinary names as Katherine and James "Smith," out of the ordinary can be a good thing. But MAYBE???

I hope that kid gets emancipated as soon as possible and moves far, far away.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20: Hug a Runner Day

Hug a Runner Day

Today is the second annual Hug a Runner Day. Betcha didn't know that, did you? It's a Facebook event, "organized" by some, believe it or not, runners. I say "organized" (finger quotes!) because it's not something you really attend, I don't suppose.

This is what the page says:

G.O.H.A.R.D (Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day)

Come celebrate the Second Annual Hug a Runner Day!

Hug a Runner and Share the Sweat!

On November 20th put your running shoes on and... HUG A RUNNER. Just do it. Then do it again.

4 WAYS TO PARTICIPATE On November 20th:

1. Wear running shoes all day long. If possible, wear an old race bib. If you see someone wearing these items, run up and give them a hug!

2. Organize a group hug with your training group. (Don’t forget the pics!)

3. Send every runner you know a virtual hug by enclosing their names in double brackets like this ((Adam and Tim)).

4. Commit random acts of hugging.

They go on to suggest different ways to participate. It's a bit nerdy/runner humor, so it may not be funny to you. To me it's hiLARious!

1. Interval Hugging: Try both long and short intervals and don’t forget to change leads with your hugging partners so everybody gets a chance to set the pace. We recommend starting with 10 X 40-second hugs with ample recovery. More experienced huggers may want to cut down on the rest between hugs.

2. Long Slow Hugs: This should be a staple of your training program. Set aside time twice a week to share a hug lasting several minutes. Up to 20% of your weekly hugging time can be spent in a single hug. Be sure to choose your LSH partners carefully because this kind of training might scare off newcomers.

3. Speed Hugging: Don’t overdo this especially if you are not already an experienced hugger. Speed training is important but can lead to injury if huggers try to do too much too soon.

4. Hug Visualization: To be at your best you must prepare mentally. In order to be ready for anything, make sure to visualize hugging runners of all sizes, genders, ages, and ethnicities. Unlike in running, we do not recommend hug visualization (HV) while engaged in interval hugging (IH), speed hugging (SH), or Long Slow Hugging (LSH). Leave hug visualization to moments when you are alone.

5. Cross Training: Running couples may want to engage in some “cross training” activities. In fact some of the above workouts (especially the LSH) can lead to cross training. While not necessary, these activities can add a little spice to the day-to-day grind.

So it's a bit late in the day. You probably are thinking about tomorrow, not about hugging a runner, sweaty or otherwise, today. But the picture below is to help motivate you for whatever challenge you're thinking about undertaking. You don't have to be a runner to appreciate it.

Now. Go hug someone!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Running and Life

Thanksgiving is early this year. I know, I know - it's always on the fourth Thursday of November, and this year is no exception. It faithfully and predictably is on the fourth Thursday, as promised. But November got an early start, catching us all by surprise, it seems. The retailers are thrilled to death - black death - as it gets them an early jump on their season of Scrooge. That's fodder for another post.

This one is about Thursday dawn. Specifically, what I will be doing in the morning of Thanksgiving before sitting down to a good meal and counting my blessings in the form of much tasty food, I will be huffing, puffing and sweating (no, not blowing anyone's house down) in Burbank's 3rd annual Turkey Trot.

I'm not ready. I never am. I would be if I were doing just the 5K, but I wanted to challenge myself again, so I signed up for the 10K. that's 6.2 miles, for any of you keeping score at home. The 5K is a no-brainer for me - I do that on a regular basis in the mornings. Six miles just downright scares me. The only time I've ever run that much at a time was one year ago - at the second annual Turkey Trot.

I have, however, prepared better for it this year than I did last year. A few weeks ago I started doing my own interval training on my runs. I have a great little app on my phone called RunKeeper. I customized a workout on it with the goal of getting to a 10-minute mile for three miles. I have it set so that I'll run two minutes fast, with a one or two-minute recovery thrown in, along with some walking rests and steady paces. I had my three-mile route in mind when I did it, and tried to gauge where I wanted to be on the route as I was programming each minute of my workout.

The first time I did it I thought I was crazy. "Who programmed this thing?" I huffed angrily to myself, despairing that I would finish my run in one piece, let alone at my goal pace.

The next time I did it, I actually was able to make it through the running distances for the amount of time I had set the goal for, and needed less walking recoveries.

As time went on, I kept a steady pace through the walking recoveries, and only needed to do one walking recovery for one minute during the entire three miles.

It got to the point that on Wednesdays and Fridays when I went with Amy, I started thinking she wasn't feeling well. It finally occurred to me that she was feeling just fine, but I was the one improving to the point where I didn't need to keep such a slow pace anymore.

Last week I hit my goal of 10 minutes per mile for three+ miles. And I did it twice! Either something was wrong with the app or I hit my goal. I don't know if I'll be able to sustain that pace for the full six miles, but it doesn't matter. I did it for three, and that's what I had been aiming for.

Here's my latest life/running analogy. Just as I didn't like the plan that had been laid out for me ahead of time - a plan designed to help me grow and improve - we don't always like what we've been given in life. We've all had a plan laid out for us. We were probably even involved in that planning a little bit - but of course we don't remember that now. At the time, it probably seemed like that plan and those goals were a good idea. "I can do that," we thought confidently. "Yeah, it'll be a challenge, but it's totally doable. And I can only learn through challenges, right?" Then you get here to your life and start wondering who the heck made up this crazy plan for you? "Growth?" you think, sometimes disgustedly, sometimes ironically. "I don't want anymore. STOP!"

But just as my RunKeeper app didn't stop encouraging me along my route, and it didn't stop mapping my progress just because I hurt and was uncomfortable, we don't get to stop our life's route. And also, just as I wasn't completely successful my first time out on the route, that's okay. You just ... keep going. As trite and simple as that sounds, you just go on.

The finish line may not appear as soon as we like, and it may look different than we thought, and the route to get there may change along the way. But get there you will.

Just keep going.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Clothesline

I have put off writing this post all day not because its a difficult subject, but because I got no subject at all. Nuttin'. So is it better to post an entry about nothing for the sake of hitting my goal of blogging each day? Or better to skip a day because there's nothing terribly great to write about?

I was thinking about finding my voice for this blog. It probably seems like I don't focus on any one thing for very long. A friend of mine is a blogger and she wondered if her blog had a voice. I assured her it did because she's a mom and moms by default, have a voice naturally because their time is so consumed with parenting and mothering and family activities.

As a single person, my entries may seem a bit unfocused because my life is never in any steady state. It's a luxury and a curse. I could focus on running because I love it and am gaining so much from it, but then it'd just be another running blog and would lose most of my audience, I imagine.

I might gain another audience, but I'm not sure I want that.

I vowed to myself, and probably even wrote it here, back when I first started a blog, that I would never write for an audience- I'd just write for me. I have to still do that because if I think about who my readers are, my writing gets stilted and awkward. Better for me to just write- steam of consciousness. That's why I titled it what it is- the idea being that this is me - In all my beauty, awkward, sarcastic, spiritual and singleton parts of me - hung out on a clothesline for all to see.

It wasn't until recently it occurred to me that someone might thing that "hung out to dry" means I'm a recovering alcoholic or something. I'm not.

So this is me today. I went to work, I did some grocery and supply shopping for Linda's birthday party tomorrow night, I cleaned the house (27 fling boogie, anyone?), had some dinner, then went to tap class. Pretty boring.

I have a job. A great new job, actually. I've been there all of three months. Woot! I never wrote about the old one because I didn't want to get in trouble by any entertainment company powers that be since I wouldn't have had anything positive to say about it other than the fact it produced a paycheck. I sold a piece of my soul for that job, I think. Working for the devil will do that. Don't misunderstand - I'm not calling the company I worked for evil; the actual person I worked for, reported to, my manager - she's the devil incarnate. Seventh circle of hell. Horrible.

Speaking of voices, there is a wonderful movie called "Little Voice" that I highly recommend.

I don't know what tomorrow's entry will bring. If I have no witty or otherwise sage observations about anything, it'll probably be about running again, I've got a 10 K next week that I've been trying to get ready for.

Talk about hanging it all out there! Me uncensored. You're welcome.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Labeling Myself

I have resisted the label “runner” for a long time now, I guess because I thought it meant I needed to be good at it. And by “good” I mean, “elite.” Since I’ve been running regularly the past few years, watching the distance events during The Olympics this year held my interest a bit more than it has in years past. Those guys (and girls) are FAST! Their standard pace is about three times faster than mine, easily. I’ve always known I’m not going to be an Olympian, and unless I’m riding horses or shooting weapons, certainly never going to attain that status as a woman of a certain age.

Once I gave into the realization that I’m never going to be an elite runner, never going to win a race, probably never even place in the top five for my age division in any race, I actually started thinking of myself as a runner. Runner (n): a person who runs. Run: (v) Moving one’s legs quickly at a pace faster than a walk.

People who don’t run don’t get why those of us who run do such a crazy thing. I frequently hear comments like, “I’ll run if I’m being chased.” I get it, I truly do. It seems like such a dumb thing to do. Anyone who willingly pounds their feet on the pavement in heat, cold, or rain, sweating profusely and all just to really kinda go nowhere – what’s the point?

I discovered running outside of the required PE classes and wind sprints for basketball when I was a sophomore in college. I had a challenging set of roommates (read: hateful girls) and being home wasn’t comfortable. If escaping to my office at the radio station wasn’t an option or seemed too confining, I could feel all those emotions bubbling up inside of me until there was nothing left to do, no other escape than to try and outrun all the negativity. I found power during those times. My lungs ached, unaccustomed to the work and the cold Rexburg air, but it relaxed and calmed me physically as no other activity could.

I rediscovered running as an overweight adult. Despairing that I would never get my athletic body back after a decade or so in a desk job, a woman – stranger on a Disneyland tram - told me that she had lost weight by just walking out to the mailbox. That was a challenge for her and was difficult because she was so overweight. She started walking around the block, and pretty soon was jogging. As she started to feel healthier and stronger, she started eating healthy also, and the pounds started coming off.

I thought to myself, “I can do that. I used to run. I used to exercise. My body knows what that feels like and craves it again.” So I did. The next night I tied on some tennis shoes, threw on some sweats and went for a jog. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty, but I felt that same sense of power I had felt years ago in college. “I can do this,” I thought. And I did. I was worn out when I got home, but that exhaustion couldn’t deplete the sense of accomplishment and strength I felt.

(True story – my roommate at the time, cimblog™ came home after I went jogging. I was in a run-induced stupor on the couch. She asked me what I had done that night and I told her all about what I had accomplished – that I felt like going for a run, and hadn’t been on one in a really long time, and I didn’t know how far I’d get but I ended up doing about two miles and didn’t stop the whole time and I felt great! She told me the next day that what had really come out of my mouth was, “…jog.”)

I am a runner. I don’t nurse any illusions that I’ll be great, but I am better today than I was yesterday (by two seconds, actually). I am stronger today than I was yesterday. I am more fit, I am energized.

Why do I run? I run because it feels good, because it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something great that day, that I’ve taken care of myself, that I can overcome negative thoughts, that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. I run because it gives me the opportunity to know myself better. When it’s just the road and me, it’s the perfect time to spend in self-introspection. As I contemplate and mediate, I also get to know Heavenly Father better. He blessed me this morning with this sunrise:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Easily Confused

There are two sets of words that confuse me. I know what they mean, don't get me wrong, but it's easy for me to use the wrong one at the wrong time.

Prostrate vs Prostate

Simulate vs Stimulate

One little consonant is the difference in them, and oh what a difference it is!

Once I was giving a talk in church and was reading the account from Alma about when the angel visited him and gave him a stern talking-to. I kept telling myself, "Don't use the wrong word. Don't use the wrong word," so naturally I used the wrong word and according to my account, Alma was prostate on the ground.

Whoops.

Today in a meeting we were talking about doing some system testing and where we could get some data in the test environment that would mimic the production environment.

But not to stimulate it. That's a different job.

I kept that one to myself and had giggled quietly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why the Hurry?

Everything seems to happen earlier and earlier each year, and by "everything" I mean "holidays." You've heard people complain about Halloween decorations and accessories in stores in September, Christmas going up in stores while the Halloween wares are still on shelves, and poor Thanksgiving practically gets lost between the other two. If it weren't for our desire to stuff ourselves to bursting, we probably wouldn't even acknowledge it. You can barely even digest the pie, turkey and fixin's before it's time to gird up your loins and go Christmas shopping, at least if you believe all the commercial hype. Retailers are even pushing Black Friday up a day to Thursday evening this year.

Obviously there are many commercial reasons for all the, er, commercial hype, I was at Disneyland this past weekend, and almost all the Christmas decorations are up. I even got my picture taken with Santa Claus already! Their official holiday start is today, November 12. Some people are letting their panties get bunched about the early start, and I can certainly understand that sentiment.

But. The Christmas season is all about good will towards men and peace on earth. Joy to the world, right? Or it should be. So if starting the Christmas season earlier means people being a little kinder, a little gentler, a little better, then bring it, I say.

I'm not suggesting that we bypass a month of gratitude and forego Thanksgiving by any means. Lets do both...simultaneously! What a concept! Be grateful AND be kind!

I'm in. You?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grace for a Blind Man

Today's church marquee reads, "A blind man walks into a bar." The first time I saw this I thought the sermon would be about Jesus healing the blind man. You remember that story, I'm sure, found in John 9:1-31.
"When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with clay."

But then I remembered that it was just three weeks ago that the marquee announced the sermon's title to be "Here's mud in your eye." Either the pastor of this congregation has an obsession with drinking alcohol, or his congregation does. Either way, it seemed unlikely that he would give the same sermon so close to the other one.

Then I thought about a blind man walking into a bar, and started laughing. That's funny, yo! Just sad that I didn't get it the first time. I have giggled every time I've driven past it this week.

So if its probably not about the blind man being healed, what would it be. I think it's all about faith again, specifically, faith in the Savior and that the atonement is real. That sounds a lot like last week's sermon though, doesn't it?

I just read this quote this morning from Elder Quentin Cook in last April's General Conference, "Our doctrine is clear; we are to be positive and of good cheer. We emphasize our faith, not our fears. We rejoice in the Lord’s assurance that He will stand by us and give us guidance and direction." (2012 April General Conference, In Tune with the Music of Faith, Sat. Afternoon Session - Quentin L. Cook)

I believe that if we could remember and live that simple principle each day, our lives would be much richer and fuller. We would approach each day with joy not trepidation,

That's a slight detour, though. Just wanted to share that thought that I think goes nicely with the principle and doctrine of faith. Lets get black to our stumbling blind man. A quick search in the topical guide reveals many instances where Jesus healed a blind man. Looking closely at the account of the man who was blind from birth that Jesus healed,with some clay and spit,

This man was questioned three separate times about he had been healed. The people had a difficult time believing him, especially the church leaders.

18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? (New Testament, John, Chapter 9)

What I love about this man, and I wish we knew his name, is that he doesn't waver, not once, in his account. He knows he's been blind since birth, and he knows he can now see. He knows that no one before has been able to do this before. He has probably been taken to doctors and rabbis and been told that there is no way he will see. His parents know this also. He is resigned to a sightless life, until a stranger puts mud on his eyes and now he can see. He does not doubt for one moment that this man is of God.

And now knowing, wants other to believe also.

Even if that is not what the local Presbyterian church is preaching today, it's the sermon I will take with me in my heart. I, like the blind man, believe that Jesus is the son of God, can heal me of my spiritual infirmities. Armed with that faith and knowledge, I want others to find that same joy and peace that comes with that message.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.