Exercise, Veggies, and Writing

Three things that are constants in my life on an almost daily basis are: exercise, vegetables, and writing. An odd amalgamation of things, but all critical for a bit of balance and inspiration in my life. You might wonder how these three have anything remotely in common. Their only commonality is that they ground me. On the days when I have the opportunity to run, eat a good amount of vegetables, and take the time to write, life just feels better. It may not mean that I have had an amazing day. Lots of shit could have happened, but these three stable aspects of my life help me to get through the shitty days and make the good days even better. Call me crazy, but it is true.

The ironic thing is that all three require discipline and none of them happened for me overnight. Consistent exercise was a gradual habit that happened over many years. My craving to run each day is the euphoria of pushing myself to the limits, having an hour that is just for myself, and the feeling at the end of a run when I am dripping in sweat and knowing I got through it. There is nothing else in my life that gives me that feeling and my day does not feel complete without my run.

How I feel when I run matters and, often, I can tell that if I feel horrible while running it has to do with some crap I ate earlier in the day. I am usually an evening/after work runner, so what I had for lunch and any snacks or junk food I ingest during the day matters. Which is why I have become a fanatic of eating vegetables. I have them in my green smoothie in the morning (usually spinach, kale, carrots), a salad for lunch, then for dinner, a vegetable, protein, and brown rice. Some sort of yummy concoction, but there is always a vegetable go with it. How far I have come from trying to get away with no vegetables as a kid and little to none in high school and college. Why have I become such an addict? I can now tell the difference in my body when I do not have these natural nutrients. More sugar + less vegetables and my body shuts down earlier in the day. More sugar = more exhausted. Since I know this about myself I do all I can to eat my veggies.

Writing. The final aspect to balance in my life. I write five blog posts each week and used to write in a journal too. My journal writing has waned in the past few months. It felt like work and I was not inspired to do it so I stopped. I know I will pick it up again, as that has been the ebb and flow of my life. There have been times when I needed to write, and write, and write to figure out my thoughts and unravel my world. Writing random olio keeps my mind open and aware. When you know that you are going to write a blog five days in a row you look at the world differently. It makes me more creative, have more wonder, and investigate the world.

What is not to love about my three life disciplines? A random olio of balance that is the core of who I am today.

Even Santa Poops

I am not a fan of walking into a mall before Thanksgiving and seeing Christmas decorations or hearing Christmas music on the radio. You know the drill. One holiday at a time. I know each year they start earlier and earlier and this year, because Thanksgiving falls so late, it means there is a short three-week window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I am the LAST person to talk about Christmas before Thanksgiving. However…

…yes, I am breaking my own hardcore rules. I could not resist sharing some laughter and Christmas hilarity before Thanksgiving. About a year ago I wrote a blog on “Poo-pourri.” Well, I have a Christmas update for you. Father Christmas, Santa, whatever you call him. You grow up leaving him a plate of cookies and milk or egg nog. Over the years you start to wonder how does he get into my house if we have no chimney? How does he carry all those toys on his back on a sleigh and still be able to fly all over the world — that would be too many toys. Did you ever ask yourself if he ever made a pit stop that night? After all those milk and cookies did you ever think that he might have had to take a poo?

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There are clever lines galore inside this three-minute masterpiece, not to mention all the sound effects and extremely clever lines like: “The ghost of Christmas ass; Gingerbread Manslaughter; I have been holding this since Dubai; So you can keep sneaking without reeking; Your dingleberries will smell like jingleberries.” I am still laughing…

I heart SH: pedestrians beware

I miss Shanghai. There are definitely parts of it I would never miss, but of the cities I have been to in the past few years, there was something very endearing about it. Last night Chris flew back from Memphis, Tennessee and due to his late night return I decided to be the horrible wife and not make the drive out to the airport to pick him up. While I am always exuberant to see him after he is gone (regardless of how long he is away), I am exhausted that late at night, and it is best to keep me in my pajamas on the couch then driving in the rain. So — he took a cab. Which reminded me of taxi’s in Shanghai.

There is one thing that is the complete opposite in Shanghai than Portland (and many cities in the United States). Pedestrians do not come first. Cars do, and taxis can be aggressive. If you are on foot, beware. Even if you have the right of way at a cross walk, do not trust that it is truly your turn. It was something that I had to constantly remember, as it is so different from the United States. Taxi’s can range from chill and quiet, to loud and maniac drivers. I guess the same could be said for cabbies in New York City. In Shanghai they honk all the time and especially if a pedestrian or cyclist is in their way, and often yell at everyone and everything in their vicinity. (Not that I could understand what they are saying, but you can tell by the tone). The exact moment the stoplight changes from red to green the horn is blaring, not giving anyone a second to be distracted.

While I never saw a single accident, there were quite a few times when I saw near misses. Somehow though they glide through the streets and dodge people and cyclists left and right without any harm done. They have a poise and agility about them. In some ways they make cabbies in New York City look like they are little league in comparison. There must be some unwritten rules for how people drive because somehow (and I could never explain it) it all works out.

Since some foreigners cannot rent cars while visiting China (probably a good thing) they are reliant on public transportation, car services, or taxis to be transported to each destination. Or, as we often did, walk. I cannot imagine if you added drivers from the rest of the world into the mix. What chaos that would be. Now, what it does make me ponder is why the United States lets almost anyone with a driver’s license in the rest of the world rent a car and navigate our roads. Does that make sense? It makes you think. I will say one more thing:

I got nothing on taxi drivers in Shanghai.

Full of love, never alone

I was talking with a colleague yesterday during lunch and the topic of giving back came up. How often do we sit in our own world and think about how hard our life is each day? What if we took time each week to help out another individual? I do not mean just to sit and listen. I mean something that we do with our entire body. We help out in a soup kitchen, donate our time in a homeless shelter, adopt a family, be a big brother or sister.

I spent many hours each week doing community service in college. There was a part of me that related to those in need. Obviously I did not relate to the incarcerated youth I worked with each week. I related to their need and desire to matter. I related to their desire to be cared for, loved, and respected. I taught a writing course one evening a week, and while there were times where I was absolutely out of my element (not on the writing portion) but on relating to teenage boys who did something in their life to be incarcerated. How did I have a clue what they needed? How do we ever really know what another individual needs?

Back to my lunch conversation. We discussed that many of us in our own ways want to support and give to others in our community.  At times when we might feel most alone in our life and might not know how to give to others is when our world has been turned upside down. Yet, maybe that is the time when we need to give the most. When giving pulls us out of our own mucky world and shows us all that we truly have each day. How do we do it though? How do we get out of our comfort zone and take the leap to get out of our own world and make the difference in someone else’s life?

I have always told Chris that whatever child/children we might have, community service, taking care of our neighbors, and giving back is something that will be integral to how we raise them. I want them to see the difference between the have and have-nots. I want them to know that the world is full of people who are very different. We should never take for granted where we come from and all that we have in the world. Sometimes our gratitude comes from seeing all that we have through the lens of another person. If we are full of love to give to others how can we ever feel alone?

Live like you give a damn

We could go through much of our life and not give a damn about anyone else. What a bore that would be, right? I was a sociology major in college, which for some of you that might mean a chuckle and a smirk and a comment of the sorts of: “Where did that get you?” Well I am not a doctor, or an architect, or an engineer. All professions that probably need a highly skilled sort of curriculum in school to ensure that we are not given the wrong drugs, our homes and buildings are do not collapse, and, well, engineers — they solve all sorts of problems.

I am here to tell you that I am an engineer of people. As a sociology major, I studied people. While many might think: “how are you applying your degree in your career?” I want to say back to them, “Every damn day.” I work with people all day long. Most of my days are filled with meetings, which are filled with people. Not everyone has the desire or patience to deal with people all day. Maybe I should make a button that says: “I was a sociology major, and I give a damn about people.” I would get lots of laughs, or perplexed looks, maybe a few strange questions.

Regardless of what I studied, or what others think about how that prepared me for the real world. I live my life caring about people, their todays and their tomorrows. Their feelings matter, what they are going through, what challenges them, if they take a stand in life. I care about it all. At the end of the day, we all work for different types of companies, businesses, non-profit, for profit. Whether we make art, sell a product, are in sales, provide customer support we all somehow have to deal with people. The business or company could fade away, the product could bomb, and yet we would still have people. So why not treat them right, take care of them, and help them to be better.

Why not, right?

Why not treat people like you give a damn?

Why not live like you give a damn?