Tag Archives: walking

Adaptation Not Compromise

IMAG2531Sometimes my feet know where I’m going before I’ve consciously processed my decision. This morning they headed for the brilliant red bush about a mile up the street.

Growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma meant incredible autumn foliage with a variety of colors. I’ll never forget the joy of early morning walks across Northeastern State University’s campus when the air was crisp, the leaves crackled beneath my feet, and vibrant color still clung to strong branches.

I love yellow. Honest. It’s almost my favorite color, somewhere below pink. But when I first moved to Colorado I was disappointed in autumn because I felt the season shouldn’t be ONLY yellow. IMAG2576

But my neighborhood has continued to mature over the years, bringing new color with it, and as I’m farther from my roots I suppose I’m more easily pleased. Maybe, just maybe, I’m also giving it a more fair shake this autumn, choosing to meander in the cool fall days by foot instead of whizzing past nature while looking out of a car window.

As I walked this morning I found myself conflicted. Now that I’m satisfied with my new weight I’m not sure what my walks are about. Health? Maintenance? Emotional and spiritual nurture? Joy?

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This time last year I spent hours in bed, recovering from some wonky sensations in my head after back-to-back car accidents. For a time I stepped away from most of my responsibilities, my only goal to get well. Part of my journey back to health was developing a new habit of long, meandering walks. I strolled, prayed, and didn’t care how long it took me. I was finding life again. As I healed, I began picking up the balls. I learned to fit in a shorter walk/jog to stick with my weight loss/get healthy goals when the demands of schedule increased.

But after my encounter today with the red bush and the orange leaves and the yellow canopies, my feet wouldn’t listen to my mind rattling off the to-do list. My soul engaged my gait, longing for more of this day than checking off boxes. It cried out for beauty, for quiet, for spiritual refreshment. I circled the elementary school, praying a bit for the children there, then slipped into my favorite coffee shop, not for a beverage, but for the restroom. My mind had finally caught up with the agenda my heart and feet set, and I knew the conveniences of home were still a long way off.

Another little nature trail some distance from me cried out to be explored. I wandered the path, missing the twitter of the birds that usually serenaded me on this stretch. I suppose the wind was too strong, and they chose to hunker down wait it out rather than to brave it and allow their song to be lost, carried away on the stiff breeze.IMAG2559

I tried to cut home after the trail but found myself at a cluster of three churches I prayed often for last winter, so my meanderings included prayers of blessings for them, which turned into song at my favorite of the three. I guess I don’t mind if the notes dance upon the breeze, for He hears at all times.

I still don’t have it all figured out–this juggling act of protecting the strides I’ve made in physical and emotional health, this love of the sunshine longing to wander–all while adding new balls, more commitments, more responsibility into my daily routine. Even now my schedule mocks me, telling me there was no way to conquer it.

But I must cling to what I learned in the dark of last year. That caring for myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually isn’t a waste of time; it is a necessity. If I don’t take care of myself, I’ll find myself unable to take care of my responsibilities.

IMAG2586-1I returned home today thinking the solitary rose framed by yellow leaves sprinkled upon the grass around it was a statement of summer shouting a last hurrah before giving way to autumn.

As the seasons of my life change I am forced to stretch, to adapt, to re-think. But in the midst of the struggle I don’t have to compromise on the hard-earned truths of my journey. Oh, I can’t control outside forces, like car accidents, that steal from me. But I can create margin. I can choose health. I can embrace the beauty of little moments.

How about you? Are you protecting yourself from the tyranny of the urgent?

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Life’s seasons change. We adapt, but we don’t compromise.

Celebrating the Memories I

author ribbonIt felt good.

This sense of being a veteran. Of belonging.

When we arrived at the ACFW national conference in Indianapolis, I turned to my writing buddy, Kathy Kovach. “I’m so glad I’m not a newbie anymore.”

My name tag boasted ribbons, labels really: author, finalist, (represented by) Books and Such Literary Agency, Colorado Coordinator.

I’ve fought for years to live outside of identity imposed by others, to just be Paula, God’s little one, dependent on Him, but I enjoyed these ribbons as recognition of years of hard work–of titles I’d already embraced, like author. I wore it with joy.

The emotions around my first writing conference were much different. I couldn’t even say the words, “I am a writer” out loud, much less be totally comfortable with a name tag that included the word “author.” I packed pretty teacups and chamomile tea to ensure my survival at that conference 10 years ago. I also carefully prepared colored note cards full of hand-written Bible verses and inspirational sayings. Basically, I was petrified and needed these little comforts from home for survival.

But here I was years later: published, teaching, and even up for an award for my story!

This post and the one tomorrow don’t answer the question I left hanging in my last blog. Honestly, the answer is simple but the journey isn’t. I suppose sharing how important this 2013 ACFW conference was to me is a part of explaining the journey before we talk about the specifics of the recent curve ball pitched my way. So just relax and enjoy the view. Nothing too deep coming your way today.

Kathy and I kicked off the conference by teaching a workshop for area coordinators and zone directors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones as well as meeting with authors, editors, and agents.

A delightful surprise was a gift from my fabulous agent, Rachelle Gardner, who congratulated me on being a finalist in the Carol Awards. She did suggest the treat might not help me meet my acfw giftweight loss goals, but I assured her I’d just eat the truffles one at time instead of the whole box at once so it wouldn’t set me back. The packaging is so pretty I actually kept the empty box and displayed it on my desk at home as a memory of my first book award nomination.

On top of enjoying the truffles, I found most of the meals at the conference boasted a yummy dessert, so I delighted in the moments we slipped away to walk in downtown Indianapolis and get some exercise.

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With Kathy Kovach

The Indiana Capitol Building is beautiful.

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Of course I always have to stop and smell the flowers.

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And I’m a sucker for churches, stained glass windows, and horse drawn carriages!

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A wedding party enjoyed the open carriages as well. Notice the cute little ring bearer!

This gorgeous fountain was part of a memorial to the men who from Indiana who’d fought in various wars.

ACFW fountain

The stroll with fun, but indulging in an amazing calzone (full of calories and wonderful, hot, gooey cheese) pushed the need for further exercise, so I swam laps in the hotel pool, which is a first for me at a writer’s conference! I love it that after 10 years of sedentary conventions, I now crave physical activity. Thanks to BENew and saying good-bye to all that weight I have truly changed.

I feel my Creator’s smile in that change. Here’s an example. Right before the conference I told the Lord I’d really like to swim while I was there, but didn’t have a decent swimsuit that fit since the weight loss. (Okay, I could have worn the famous bikini top, but it just wasn’t the venue for it.) Right before I left for the conference I happened to see a one-piece suit hanging on the clearance rack at Target. I quickly slipped it on, surprised that it not only fit well, but would provide the support I needed to actually swim for exercise and not just lie on a beach.

But could I afford it while saving for the spending money at the conference?

I flipped the price tag. Surely not.

$1.47

Oh, yeah!

So thanks to God’s good gifts and a clearance rack at target, Saturday evening of the conference meant unwinding in the pool and hot tub. What a great stress relief! I slipped into bed that night, totally relaxed and able to fall asleep despite the pending excitement Sunday promised.

I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow . . .

Singin’ in the Rain

*Warning – Playful post. I am not minimizing the trouble so many in our community face with floods and devastation. We’re praying for you!

We’re high and dry at my house–except when we choose not to be.

IMAG2351 Yesterday I decided sometimes you just have to embrace the rain.

Since I got my new shoes last week, I’ve been crazy busy. Though my feet improve daily, it’s been difficult to find time to do as much walking as I want. Yesterday my body craved activity, but it was drizzling, as it had been all day.

“I’m headed to the library.” Sam’s declaration beckoned, and I begged to join. He waited patiently as I tied my bright tennies. As he grabbed rain protection, I slipped out the front door coatless.

“You’re not wearing a jacket?” Not to be outdone by his rockin’ momma, he shrugged out of his. “No way am I wearing a coat if you’re not.”

I grinned at him, and off we went. IMAG2350 You guessed it. The rain then began in earnest. By the time we reached the library my clothes stuck to my skin, and water droplets ran down my nose and hung a moment before dripping off.

But my heart was oh so happy.

Sam checked out, “The Empire Strikes back,” and showed me how to put a book on hold that my business partner asked me to read. (Yes, business partner, but that’s a story for next week.) Afterwards we pushed through the library doors to the Great Drizzle, and I pleaded. “Take the long way home?”

Chuckle. Another eye roll. And we were off. He had his longboard. Sometimes I ran to keep up, which only made him go faster. For a while he let me grab his hand and run, pulling him along behind me, but at fifteen he is way too cool to let that go on for long.

Oh the sheer joy of it! If you’ve never been overweight, I don’t think you can understand what it’s like to go from lumbering to actually playing, running, laughing again. Enjoying your kid and being a kid yourself.

And at my age!

Soon it was time to cut through the park for home, but I kept walking the other sidewalk. He shook his head.

“Oh come on. It’s just the long, long way home, not the long, long, long way.”

And we continued. Somewhere in here I started singing phrases from songs about rain. Eventually we made a game of it. I’d sing a phrase, and he’d guess whether it was from a real song, or if I made it up. He became quite impressed with my ability to rhyme little ditties right there on the spot. The score was 5-5 as we rounded our yard. Then I think he cheated because somehow he sneaked ahead.

Soon we stood at the front door calling for an old towel so we didn’t make a puddle on the floor. A nice hot shower later, I was snuggy in my jammies. IMAG2352

The next morning Sam decided to enjoy the continuing rain his own way. I guess it needs to be a little wet to truly engage with one’s marine biology text.

With only one left home this year, I worried about homeschooling. About Sam being lonely. About ME being lonely. But this man-child of mine has delighted me by a willingness to share pieces of his day. And though we are alike in our love of family gatherings and need for people, we’re discovering how to enjoy our moments of being two instead of 4 or 6 or 7.

I hope you find a way to enjoy those you love today–even if it means singing in the rain.

Singing in the rain.

Opposition

IMAG2347I feel like weeping tears of joy as I post this blog today. I wrote it a few days ago and scheduled it ahead.

Yesterday morning I sat in my old blue recliner and told the Lord how very much I needed new shoes . . . how I couldn’t afford them, but missed walking. I reminded him that I’ve been praying about this for awhile. I was tempted to complain. Instead I simply slowed down and told Him that I was a daughter of the King, and I knew He wanted me to have good gifts.

That afternoon a friend asked me what I was doing for exercise. I admitted I’d been struggling due to the pain in my feet and my worn-out tennis shoes. Within an hour we were at a GOOD athletic shoe store. She bought me new shoes, inserts, and socks. Everything I needed and more.

Wow!

As you read my struggles below, do it with the delight of abundance, of knowing our LORD sees our struggles. Know that HE fights our battles. Stands with us when we are opposed in every good thing. That He is the Provider for all our needs.

HE cares about you and me, our struggles toward health, and even whether or not we have tennis shoes!

Here’s the post originally scheduled for today:

I’ve heard that every good thing will be opposed.

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A few weeks ago Jerry and I took a lovely 5 mile trek. Lots of time alone together to just talk while also doing something healthy. Glorious! (And free!)

Only I awoke the next morning with a returning case of plantar fasciitis. I’m told plantar fasciitis is often brought on by poor support in your shoes, especially if you walk or hike. I’ve been holding off replacing my walking shoes, despite the holes in the bottom and the worn away support system. Every penny has been needed elsewhere.  But my feet hurt, and the times I’ve tried to walk anyway in my old shoes only bring negative consequences.

So I’ve tried to do more pilates with my at home DVD. Wouldn’t you know it? The exercises are done with a long plastic band, and the band broke!

Sinister opposition if you ask me!

Today I’m trying to think of another healthy way to burn calories that doesn’t make my feet hurt, and I’m seeking to be especially mindful of what I eat, returning to daily BeNew meal replacement shakes to help me guard my caloric intake since I’m not burning as much off.

I didn’t come all this way to go backwards!

How about you? What things creep into your life to oppose your victories on your benew journey?

Standing against the opposition

Celebrating Good Surprises

Beauty in the Everyday

As summer decides whether or not it will yield to autumn, I’m celebrating the glorious blooms that decorate the yards and sidewalks on my mini-journeys. No mountain travels for a while, but a walk with my friend Jennifer or Dani, or the rare treat of strolling with Jerry now that he’s working so much, still yields beauty.

Here’s to you finding joy in the everyday journeys~

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Everyday beauty

Extraordinary Ordinary

Life’s simple pleasures come in the ordinary, especially when someone is intentional about eking extra good out of what’s in front of them. (After my sniffling momma post on Wednesday, I’m thinking I need to embrace the joys of the good days, not just wallow in “those” days.)

Extraordinary happened for me the end of July when Sam played a double-header. Jerry didn’t have to work until later in the day and got to come to the first game.

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While the boys warmed up, he took my hand and led me on an adventure.

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The games were played at Chatfield High, which is in the greater SW Denver area, close to the foothills. Just a few steps behind the school lay a golf course, tennis courts, and a soccer field. But best of all was an untamed area, wilder than my treks through the neighborhood with foliage more desert plain than what I’d enjoyed in the mountains.

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It sung its own song, and despite prickly flowers and dry earth, we found much beauty (and a tennis ball and two golf balls, but that’s another story.)

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As usual, I was especially drawn to the yellows,

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pinks, and purples.

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But even the dry browns held a unique artistry.

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Our walk was brief, but the long, repeated flights of stairs back to the ball field made me feel I’d earned my lunch.

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Working movement into our day was only part of the importance of this snapshot of living. It was really about grabbing hold of a little bit of life, a fleeting moment that could just as easily have been lost as I sat bored, waiting for the next game to start.

Instead my hubby invited me on a mini-date. We admired God’s creation. We held hands. We were together. We saw something new.

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Eking extraordinary from ordinary

Encouragement in the Curve Balls

pedi maniWhen you set out to do something good, chances are you will be opposed.

This summer my health journey has faced opposition. None of it life-stopping. No illness, just stuff. Some of it I’m ready to share; some I’m not. But here’s the battle of last week. If you’ve been around A BENew Journey for long you know my favorite way to burn calories (and bad attitudes) is to take a nice long walk.

Enter two of my nemesis.

I’ve fought seasonal allergies since I was a child, and in Colorado, this is the week. The family has been on lock down. The windows are shut tight from bedtime until late morning. This cuts the allergy reactions in about half. But since just walking out the backdoor set me off the other day, I’ve not been excited about walking for exercise.

About the same time my old friend, plantars fasciitis, decided to return in my right foot.

All this to say I didn’t walk for four days straight.

I did a few exercises in the living room–like crunches and such–and mostly was sedentary and feeling sorry for myself. Friday I decided I absolutely couldn’t let another day go without more determined exercise and pulled out the old Pilates DVD I hadn’t touched since the snow stopped last spring.

After the inevitable frustration of not being able to find the DVD, then not finding the work-out band, and then struggling to figure out the latest configuration of video game/TV/controller the boys rigged together, I finally dug in.ten minute solutions

The good news is that there is a marked difference in the way I handled the exercises! I could do some stuff I couldn’t do last spring, and I could do other exercises with more stamina.

The journey to a stronger, slimmer body can be excruciatingly slow. It is hard to see incremental changes, like it is hard to realize how much your children have grown until you see a picture from a few months before and notice the marked difference.

I’m not one of those people who loves to work out. You would not be impressed with my number of reps or the intensity of my efforts. But slow and steady DOES make a difference. A walk here. A few crunches there. A few leg lifts and push-ups. Simply being intentional about moving and focusing a few minutes a few times a week on strengthening my body, and today I got to see measurable CHANGE. 

I doubt I’ll ever work out for the sheer joy of challenging my body. I still look at my athlete son with a raised eyebrow when he calls that stuff fun. But even a small amount of effort over a few months makes a difference. In the midst of the curve balls that slowed down my walking, I got a little encouragement.

How about you? Where have you found unexpected encouragement? Would adding some simple exercise into your life help you toward measurable change? If so, start small. Build slowly. You CAN do a LITTLE something, and even a little something makes a difference.

(And if you have an off day like I did last Saturday and eat a bunch of junk and watch a bazillion episodes of Downton Abbey instead of moving and eating healthy, remember, it’s always the right time to make the next decision for health.)

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Even a little makes a difference

Grabbing Joy

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve prayed for joy for at least ten years, yet I’m still processing the concept.

During a particularly down day a few months ago my Dad told me, “Well, Baby Doll, the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

I have a very sweet Daddy, but at that moment his words felt hollow. I bit my tongue really hard to keep the snide remark from bursting out.

Of course joy comes from the Creator of joy–but how do I access joy? How do I push through the crap of life to grab hold of it? What is it, really? Happiness? Something deeper? Is it like peace or hope? Does it always include laughter?

After ten plus years of thinking and praying about joy, I’m still not sure I get it. But I have figured out a few things:

  • Joy can be attached to circumstancesneighborhood walk 4
  • Joy isn’t only from circumstances
  • Joy can be a choice
  • Joy can be a supernatural gift
  • Choosing to be grateful brings joy
  • Choosing to be hopeful, to trust in Someone bigger than I, supports joy
  • Worry, fear, doubt, anger are enemies of joy
  • Taking a walk and eeling the sunshine on my face brings me joy
  • Bright colored flowers are my joy language
  • The stillness of a moon-lit night seeps joy into my soul
  • Physical well-being can support joy
  • You can be joyful without physical well-being
  • Loving people bring me joy
  • I can find joy when I’m alone
  • A bubbling stream reminds me of joy
  • Grabbing hold of the simple pleasures of life supports joy

The list could go on forever, and I still wouldn’t define joy. But this I know. Soon after I asked God for joy He asked me to trust Him through the next season of my life which He assured me would include a lot of CRAP.

It wasn’t exactly the answer I wanted.

And the crap of life came. During that period sometimes I had joy, and sometimes I didn’t. But while I recognize that joy can be easier to recognize in the easy, happy times, it can also be found in the bad.

In the gratitudelast few years of the trying season I took advice from the book, One Thousand Gifts, and recorded gratitude.

When negativity was especially tangible (or joy especially accessible), I’d grab colored sharpies and write on the basement walls everything I could think of to be grateful for.  I’d remember that every good gift comes from the One who created the good gifts. And I would remind myself that He cares, and I am loved and noticed.

This week I hit #900 on that gratitude wall. It lists everything from statements like, “The boys did their chores!” to “petals making a fairy carpet on sidewalk” to “Everyone together at Dairy Queen!”

Read with a discerning eye you can chronicle the joy I’ve found in the weight loss journey–comments like, “learning to walk in the neighborhood by myself” or “I lost 20 pounds” or “Jerry said I’m ‘stunning!'”

Maybe the biggest thing I’m learning is how all-encompassing joy is. Joy comes from a million different places, but has One source, for every good gift comes from the Giver. The emotion of joy is more easily grasped when I choose joy in my mind, spirit, and body. It is supported by how I take care of my mind (paying attention to the thoughts I deal on), my spirit (connecting with God), and my body (the foods I eat, how much movement is in my day).

And finally, while I have some responsibility for my joy, it is always, always, always a gift from Love.

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Journeying toward joy

Lifestyle Change and Companionship

neighborhood walk 17Mindful eating. Intentional movement. They DO make a difference.

With the support of BeNew, the changes I’ve made resulted in a body I’m comfortable in. But with contentment comes complacency if I’m not careful! When even the new clothes hang a bit big it is easier to take that extra slice of pizza like I did while watching a movie Sunday night.

But being obese for several years taught me that I can’t let that kind of thing go unchecked and maintain a healthy body. So I ate smart the Monday after and followed it up with a wonderful 5 mile walk with my hubby.

neighborhood walk 12Walking is such a simple pleasure. When Jerry joins me it’s like a date only with no calories or $$ spent! We roam the neighborhood together, and the conversation goes deeper. Everything looks brighter. We’re tapping into those love languages of quality time and companionship even as we get healthier.

Often we talk about the stuff that really matters, the kinds of things that just don’t come out over the dinner table. Investing in time together reminds us that after 24 years of marriage, we’re still best friends.

Even though we usually cover familiar territory, we often discover patches of beauty we haven’t noticed before. The bright yellow flowers next to a wooden fence take me back to my small town, turned country upbringing.

I was surprised when right night to a busy road we discovered grapes growing!

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I often see foliage I’d love to add to my yard, like these creeping flowers.

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The other day we walked right beneath a tree with something berry-like growing in the leaves. I have no idea what they are, but it was a fun discovery, seen only because we were at exactly the right angle to spot them.

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Starting a BeNew journey can feel overwhelming. Cutting back on unhealthy, high-calorie food can feel like deprivation. But it is truly worth the life-change when you get your body back, enjoy a walk, and smell the roses.

How can you embrace life’s simple pleasures, pouring into a new healthier you instead of giving into feeling deprived?

Many times on my BENew journey the answer was to simply take a walk and invite my best friend.

Back in the Saddle Again

 

empty plate

After eight months of consistently watching the scale go down (albeit sometimes slowly), I had the shock of seeing it go the other way!

Okay. I wasn’t really shocked. I knew there would be consequences of not thinking about what went into my mouth. We had several big meals here at home, including a huge steak dinner with all the fixings and a big going away cake for Alex, the amazing young man from Spain who stayed with us for a month.

This was followed by a day at the Broadmoor with my writing buddies–complete with two amazing meals out. And then I had an out of town guest who spoiled me rotten, buying my favorite treats, introducing me to a fancy Moscato, and taking me out to all her favorite restaurants. The picture to the left pretty much tells the whole story. That one was the desert at Carrabbas. Yes, I got every drop, but in my defense I did SHARE that dessert AND the main course. (It was the bread, wine, and mozzarella cheese sticks that were the real problem–or maybe the amount of food in all those courses.)

The other issue is that once you pull out all the stops and eat foods you haven’t had much of in a while, you crave them again. And once you give into larger portions than you need, it quickly becomes a habit. Still, I’ve always said I want to do this weight loss journey in a way I can sustain. To be too finicky about my food while in the midst of all these special events is probably not a sustainable attitude, for me at least.

So what’s a girl to do?

Go back to what she knows.

Thankfully after a few days of making a point to get in a walk, do some crunches, and eat reasonably, the scale started going the other direction this morning and that three pound pouch gone. It was easily fixed.

dance at broadmoor

What strikes me about this experience is how easily those pounds come back and how long-term this life change is for me. NOTHING, even the bread and spiced olive oil at Carrabbas, is worth putting that 50 plus pounds back on. It feels good to nip that whole gig in the bud and choose today to stay on the journey of health.

You may think that I didn’t blog for a while ’cause I was hiding out and feeling guilty. Nope. Honest. I was just having too much fun to get to a computer. And vacations, even from thinking about food, are okay if they don’t last too long.

So folks, had lots of fun this summer and enjoyed many flavors, but I’m back in the saddle again.

How About You?

Any helpful hints for me as I climb back into the saddle and stick to my life-long journey of better health?

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Make the next good choice, even if the last wasn’t so hot