dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Sense of Direction

It’s true, I’m getting older.

As I age, I notice that certain things are starting to deteriorate. Today’s example: my sense of direction.

When I was young, I would read Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper every Thursday or Friday. I’d check out the list of festivals, events, art openings, even new music releases, and make my weekend plans. I’d pull out my mom’s Atlanta road atlas and set on my coordinate spree to map my weekend adventures. From these jaunts week after week, year after year, I got to know my way around Atlanta inside and out.

These days, I can hardly find my way around my little suburb without waze or google maps. If I’m somewhere without service, I get nervous and often guess the wrong direction. Such a change. It may not just be due to aging. Maybe more a combination of getting older and over reliance on technology. Still not a change I like, no matter the cause.

I spent the past week in a confusing condo building. Actually there were two buildings connected by bridges and corridors. There was also a parking garage. None of the connecting floors had the same number. Walk through a hallway from one building’s first floor and suddenly, without stairs or elevators, you’re on another building’s third. The garage was a totally different mess. I felt lost and disoriented much of the week.

After a couple of morning condo workouts, I went to the gym one evening to make sure I could find it from our room. The next morning I spent a half hour with dumbbells in the gym. After I was done, I decided to test myself and make my way back to the condo from the gym using stairs instead of the path I already knew.

I walked into the stairwell. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find an old man, slightly hunched over, standing at the bottom of the stairs. He was short with groomed gray hair. He wore a cotton t-shirt, athletic pants and tennis shoes. He was there to exercise. He smiled at me.

Good morning, I said.

Are you still moving every day? he said,

Yes sir, I replied. I want to be sure I can move for as long as I can, so I try to do it first thing every day.

Good for you, he replied. I do the exact same thing. Keep it up. It’s so important.

And with that, one floor up, I walked out of the stairwell. He kept walking up the stairs. Up. Up. Up. Moving. Ascending.

It was like the (living) ghost of Christmas Future. Letting me know that taking time to move, for me, is what will keep me moving long term. I can feel confident when I get up and make my physical and mental health a priority each day. What others think of it is none of my business. My approval is what is required.

Did I find my way back to the condo? Happily, yes. And taking that different path gave me unexpected landmarks and signs. I’m heading in the right direction. It was a roadmap to the future I am heading toward, nimble and purposeful.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Running Uphill

“There’s never a good reason to run uphill.”

I said this to a running buddy as we were rolling through the early miles of a half marathon. During the many miles of training and training, I realized that I burn so much more energy going uphill. Instead, now I use it as a break. A chance to catch my breath. I just keep on walking and walking uphill, then run again once it flattens out.

Well, I stand corrected.

The other day I ran uphill in the parking lot outside my gym. It was a part of the annual Murph workout, the traditional way CrossFitters honor Memorial Day. There’s a mile run at the beginning and a mile run at the end and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

Originally, I planned to pull out my AirPods so I had a distraction during those miles. I hate running without music. Whenever I run, I put on my favorite running playlist to tune out the pain. But then I thought about the reason we are doing Murph, to remember the fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and I decided instead of tuning out the pain, I would tune into it. Tune in to the purpose. Tune in to the discomfort. Tune in to the labor and even the heartbreak of it all.

So I did. I thought about the soldiers. The meaning. What I have because of what they gave up. I thought about their families, their buddies, brothers, mourning, suffering, toiling but continuing on.

So I continued. I loved that one of my gal pals came up and ran the last lap with me. She gave me a pep talk about her grandfather who was an Army Ranger and using his memory and mantra to keep going.

Once I was done, one of the women who completed it with me brought me a fancy champagne glass of water to toast the moment and refresh. Then, I turned around and cheered for my friends who were doing it after. Noticing their efforts. Hoping to give them a lift.

Then I think of the many with PTSD, with depression, substance abuse, lingering effects of the time and service they gave. There are many who are running uphill every day without us even knowing it. Burning out their energies just to keep going. If you are someone who is running uphill, I hope you can find a way to pause and walk for a while to catch your breath. And that a good friend joins you on the path for the journey to keep you inspired, positive, and moving forward. I hope someone thinks enough to offer you cool refreshment.

There are very few good reasons to run uphill. Once in a while, it happens that we have to. If you are running uphill each day in any way, I am cheering for you, hoping to give you a lift.

dare to be different

A Fahn Suhthun Lady

(A follow up to the recent post, Redneck Sweetheart. Check it out!)

I was born in Jawja.

Lived here all my lahf.

Except for that ill-advised detouah to Ohio for a few years round college time. They made fun of me for walking too slow in that infernal endless snow and saying y’all when I shoulda said, ahem, “you guys” all nasal or something else inelegant like that. Suhthun ladies roll sweet and slow off the tongue.

Before I go on, let me translate some of this for y’all, lest you find my Suhthun accent a distraction.

I don’t have a hoop skirt. Sweet tea is not my thing but there is no other soda (pop!?!?) than a Coke. I’m still a Suhthun lady through and through.

I blush at the mention of unmentionables. I am steely and will give you the side eye while saying “bless your haht.” I fan myself when I am flustered. Well I nevah would be so vulgah!

I am polite and don’t show up to a gathering empty-handed. To knock at a door without a casserole or even a simple mason jar filled with fresh picked blooms? Why my dear mother, rest her soul, would have been simply mortified!

I’m not all lace and doilies, mind you. I am gracious and refined at times, but will dig my hands in the dirt and grime. Just be sure I have a proper apron and brimmed hat. My fair Suhthun complexion demands protection from our hahsh climate.

I will bring you a snack when you’re hungry, refreshment when you’re pahched. I can quote the Bible, Flannery O’Connor, and Dolly Parton in the same afternoon chat. I am as well read as my farmily is well fed.

Many times I smile when I am angered. I’ve mastered the gentle art of holding my tongue when others try to ruffle my ruffles. Howevah, do not test my resolve. Do not mistake my quiet for ignorance or lack of passion. Do not confuse my kindness with any sort of weakness. I’m wise enough to realize most irritants are not worth my energy. But poking the bear too many times will bring her roaring to life. On that you can depend.

I will raise my voice at the right time. What comes out of these cultured and cultivated lips will surprise you. I don’t share my sharp and critical mind with just anyone, but if you earn yourself a piece of that mind with your vahl behaviah, well, bless your haht.

Back to minding my own business in my own hospitable way. Smiling politely. With a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Don’t cross me.

healthy hacks

Rising Rituals

Win the morning, win the day, to paraphrase author and entrepreneur Tim Ferris.

Life these days has me early to bed, early to rise.

Right now, a good morning starts the night before. I lay my clothes out for whatever the day may bring. If I am going to the gym, I pack my gym bag and work clothes and put them in my car. One less thing to worry about in the wee hours.

Coffee maker starts brewing at 4:15 am.

I start the day by preparing my coffee and lighting a candle. Something that smells good. The warm light is comforting and for some reason just adds to the quiet sense of this as my personal time and gift to myself.

Then I read for about 5-10 minutes. I just finished Obstacle is the Way and started Stillness is the Key. Then, I grab my 5 Second Journal. This journal was recently recommended to me by a friend. I jot my way through my daily schedule and morning thoughts. Probably the most helpful part is writing down the main project for my day. I am generally pretty scatterbrained and can get through a day without even touching the most important thing. Forcing myself to choose a priority helps me think ahead to getting that done. I also benefit from the hour-by-hour breakdown of the day as a bird’s eye view of what is ahead.

After reading, writing, candle, and coffee, the day may take one of two paths. I may have time for a quick errand or two…empty the dishwasher, pay a bill, or I might do some more extensive writing. If I am working out at home that day, I start my home workout.

By the time I really start moving, I feel productive. I feel relatively calm, centered, and directed. The day is going in the right direction. I blow my candle out and off I go!

My biggest challenge is staying off my phone throughout this process. Some days this is easier than others. I know I need to use my time productively and generally my phone scrolling is sort of mindless. I can also quickly lose 20 minutes and not know what happened. So I try to keep it to paper and pencil as much as possible.

My morning routine for the past few months. It wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me. Sometimes this is the only time I have to myself all day. While I love and appreciate people, getting my mind right and having some time to just think and greet the day myself is helpful for finding my footing in this hectic and unsteady world. What do you do to start your day off right?

3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

A Doctor Digs in the Dirt

I recently wrote a rant-ish post about being a PhD. How I use my degree maybe not as a professor, but more as a thinker every single day.

I’ve recognized this a lot lately as I’ve waded into the first stages of flower farming. It reminds me of my surprise when I had a baby. When I became pregnant, I was immersed in this whole new universe and language I had no idea about. Pick up a baby magazine and I was surrounded by a new vocabulary. So many debates and decisions. What kind of diapers, how medicalized a birth, co-sleeping, onesies, products galore. It was a whole world I knew nothing about, even though it had been there all along.

Flower farming is much the same way. It has its own calendar, its ebbs and flows. So many special bloom varieties to choose from. Growing zones, soil amendments, succession planting…I am wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Just the photos on insta of all the beauty makes me swoony.

On the calendar side, so far I am playing catchup. I’m learning you have to be thinking at least 6 months ahead, and eventually a year. 3Splitz Farm is not even 6 months old (hard to believe!) so I am giving myself a little grace on that. We wanted tulips, but it took a while to find the right ones. In the mean time, I read in all sorts of places about where to source high- quality bulbs and what they should look like. My lightweight crumbly bulbs from the local mega mart weren’t going to cut it. This is a researcher in action. Most major places were sold out, but I finally found a farm with a great reputation that had the flowers we needed. The first set of bulbs went in the ground on the late side, but I’ve ordered seeds now so they should arrive in plenty of time. Slowly but surely the calendar is spreading forward. Soon we will be on pace.

Planning the land is the next challenge. It’s left me paralyzed at times, thinking that where we plant ______________ (bulbs, seeds, plants, veggies) is some kind of permanent decision. What if the flowers don’t thrive there? What if they can’t be seen the way we want them to? What if animals or pests destroy the crop? We took the step and planted the first set over the last couple of weeks. I was guided by my OLW: DO, and reminded myself that mistakes can be fixed. Of course, that’s only if we have the courage to make them! I am listening to the land and trusting that it will tell me what to do. It’s a wonderful intersection between science, wishes, and hard work.