Sweet Summer Time

Apart from the 90 degree days we’ve had already in May–which are way too many for what should be allowable by law–there are signs of summer popping up everywhere.

I’ve had lots of time on my deck this month, what with my nights and weekends free and all. And I’ve even managed to finish and/or start a few books. As in more than one.

Cherries, strawberries and corn are coming in and they are soooo tasty.

And Brooklyn’s Summer Ale, New Belgium’s Skinny Dip, and Sweetwater’s Road Trip are back on the shelves.

Leave it to seasonal beers to help me think about living seasonally. I became well acquainted with Brooklyn’s Summer Ale and Skinny Dip last year…and developed quite the fondness for cherries. I have so looked forward to both for a while. The anticipation of the last month has mounted to the point that when I saw the cherries and Summer Ale in Whole Foods this week, I squealed…and did a little booty dance. Right there in the store.

I plan to enjoy both of those and so much more of summer’s bounty for the next few months. I’ve never been a fan of the heat around here, but I do love summer produce. Really. LOVE. And summer beers. And I will thoroughly enjoy them until about September, when the Indian Summer starts, the heat dies down, the days grow shorter and the festivities of fall start to arrive. I’ll leave the summer produce on the shelf–because it’s not nearly as good at that point–and return to Yuengling, my old standby.

It’s an interesting rhythm, these seasonal changes. I’m starting to really be aware of the differences–the promises and beauty of each–and to really look forward to the beginning of each new season and all it has to offer.

And all that because the summer brews are back on the shelf.

Never Ever Give Up

If you follow basketball, you don’t have to be a NC State fan to know about the Cardiac Pack of 1983. Coached by the ebullient Jimmy V, those college kids wore glass slippers to the big dance that night–and it was the other team’s ride that turned into a pumpkin. Every year, during March Madness, the moment where Jimmy V realized his kids had won and he had no one to hug is included in every montage on every station covering the tournament. We all remember that moment for Jimmy V…and we all remember his fight with cancer and his immortal words, “Don’t give up. Never ever give up.”

Enter a 15 year old middle schooler with the education of a second grader–who is becoming more of a true adolescent boy every single day. It’s also the last 2 or so weeks of school and he’s pretty much toast. And has once again given up on school. He finally said he was not happy with being pulled out of social studies for yet ANOTHER period of ESL–especially when he was given no say in the matter. He’s tired of school. And he’s an adolescent boy.

And so, we had another weekend at the grandparents’ house with another “forgotten” project. Only this time, the project was forgotten on purpose. And so, we had another come to Jesus meeting with Ryan (and moved his desk back out of his office to a more distraction free zone). Somewhere in all of that, we looked at him and said “We love you and the rest of your family loves you. Bunches. And we are not going to give up on you. You may try to give up on school. You may try to take the easy way out. We know it’s hard. We know you got dealt a crappy hand (OK–that was said more concretely) and didn’t start school when you should have. We know it’s really hard right now. But we are going to keep working to help you and help make it as easy as we can. And we are not giving up.”

And we’re not.

We found out this week that Ryan has been accepted at the Hill Center for both the summer program (remediation) and for the academic year. And we are excited about the possibility that he can get some of the support he so desperately needs. We’re trying to work out the logistics of getting him from point A to point B, but we’re going to make it work.

Somehow.

Weekend Warriors

So this past weekend, Al and I and our siblings and some other friends did the Warrior Dash. We loaded up and converged on Mountain City, GA for what was touted as “the craziest frickin’ day of our lives.” The Warrior Dash is a 3.22 mile run with obstacles thrown in.

I gotta be honest. I was expecting crap your pants kinds of obstacles. For the two weeks leading up to the race, I was concerned about getting over the wall (military style) and the log bog. Turns out, my fears were unfounded.

The race began with a bang (and flames–because that’s how warriors roll). We ran a good chunk of pavement and got to the first obstacle. I’ll call it Walk on Water. If you look at the website for the Southeast event, the obstacles don’t quite match up. Walk on Water was where we got to walk across planks that were submerged just under the surface. However, if you didn’t fell like waiting in line to go across the plank, you plowed through the water…and the mud…sometimes up to your knees. The next part of the pond had no plank, so we were all sloshing through water up to our chest.

After that, it was back on land. Muddy muddy land. The course was pure mud from that point on. Not too far up ahead were the tires (think football style). Some of us took it like a champ. Others of us came close to biting it. Once you cleared the tires, it was on to the wall…er…walls. The big bad wall about which I was so concerned was about 4 feet high and there were three of them we had to get over.

Then it was mud trudge time.

After all that, I can’t quite remember the order of events until closer to the end. There was another wall at an incline we had to use ropes to pull ourselves up, cargo nets to go up and back down, a junkyard (or maybe someone’s front yard…we were in the GA mountains) to climb over/through, tunnels to get through, a chunk of a trail that was really super narrow at times…and easy to get stuck behind slower people–which made some folks (me) none too happy. Eventually, we got over to the infamous mud pit where we had to go through on our stomachs because of the real barbed wire over us. Once you get out of that nastiness covered in mud from head to toe, it was into the log bog–a man-made mini-lake with logs you had to get over. Do it right and you’re on your way. Do it wrong and your shins pay the price. Climb out of the lake and take off at a run to clear the flames. Seriously. Down the hill you go to the finish line to get your medal and post-race recovery drinks.

Although this was by far NOT the most difficult race or strenuous workout I’ve ever had, it was certainly one of the most fun things I’ve done lately.

And how could it not be when you’re running with this guy (who turned out to be the most popular person there):

Turns out, though running with a wet cape through an obstacle course absolutely sucks, Nacho can take the flames like a freakin’ champ.

We hung out at the after party for a long time…mainly to see if Al could win the costume contest as Nacho Libre. I kid you not…we couldn’t go more than 6 feet before someone yelled out, “Hey, Nacho! Can I take a picture?” Finally, though, we did get our turkey legs…and beer–which was quite tasty.

I would also like to give props to Scuba Steve who did the entire race in swimming fins. During the first obstacle, I thought he was the smartest mofo out there. When I hit the cargo net, I wondered how that was going to go. But he took it like a champ. And so did the rest of us.

It was a super fun day with family and friends. I’d like to give a shout out to our support staff who made sure we didn’t have to worry about parking, driving, or taking our own pictures. Thanks, peeps. It was a super fun weekend with all of you.

Are you there, Church? It’s me, Mary

We haven’t gone to church…really gone to church…in quite some time. There was the service last week, but that was more to support and hang out with a friend on staff. We did go to church with Dad on Easter. And I think before that, it was somewhere around Epiphany.

I’m surprised that, in this area, finding a church to which we connect is damn near impossible. At least in Baptist circles. Most of my Baptist folks who struggle with this same issue either don’t go to church at all–like us–or go to a Methodist church.

I have to say…it’s nice to know it’s not just me.

For most of us, once you’ve been to seminary/divinity school, you’re ruined forever when it comes to church. Once you’ve been to seminary/divinity school AND done CPE…you’re pretty much screwed.

I’m really starting to wonder if it’s possible to have an active faith while attending a church. So many of the ones we’ve tried don’t seem to really be concerned about the community here. Some target one population and pat themselves on the back for being accepting of that population. Others focus on the people inside the walls of the church and the whole holiness purity code bullcrap that isn’t worth our time or energy. Come on, people. If we really believe Jesus died for our sins once and for all, why are we so hung up on them? Others might be ok on many fronts, but there’s no one that fits within our peer group. I literally looked at Al one Sunday morning while visiting a church and said, “It smells like a nursing home.” The majority of the people in the pews around us were late 60s and older. I like multi-generational, but I also like a connected peer group.

And so, we continue to sleep in on Sunday mornings…wondering if there’s some place we should try next…thinking we may have to leave our Baptist roots–at least in part–while we live here. Who knows? Maybe we’ll join the exodus to the Methodist church…

Phase 1 is done

And I’m kinda getting braver about my body. So I’m actually going to include before and now pictures. Bear in mind…these before pictures were taken about a year ago. We didn’t have time to actually take before pictures a month ago. I did start with the usual body measurements…and I’ll give you a bit of an update on that, too.

*****Disclaimer: If you are expecting a dramatic transformation into a supermodel, might as well stop here. I’m just showing you where I’m at right now…compared to…well…a year ago. But there wasn’t much that changed over that year. I assure you.*****

Before

End of Phase 1

Before

End of Phase 1

Before

End of Phase 1

I actually followed this food plan…more than I usually do when I follow a food plan…and for longer. I also still have my food/exercise journal going. And I’m looking forward to moving to Phase 2 and getting more carbs back in my life (remind me to tell you about the tortilla chips out for sample at Whole Foods and how trying one was truly an orgasmic experience). At the same time, I’m kinda nervous about the return of the carbs. I know they’re there to help with the added intensity of the workouts in Phase 2, but I have come to realize that they really are the devil for most people. And I’m hoping that I will continue to see the kind of results I have already seen with this…which means I have to trust the process. Right?

And for the numbers: I have lost about 3 pounds (based on when I was at the doctor in March…again…didn’t get in the before weight) and 4.75 inches overall…and that IS based on before measurements from one month ago. When it comes to the scale, we took it out of our bathroom for Al to weigh some packages he was shipping…and never put it back. Once I stopped weighing myself on a daily basis (which can be good in some ways…but not for me anymore), I actually started evaluating my body differently…and developed a better relationship with my body (which was part of the reason for my tattoo…).

So that’s where I’m at here at the end of Phase 1. We’ll see what Phase 2 has in store.

Oh, and that recovery week thing? That week where you get to do things like yoga and core synergistics? That’s no recovery. That is way BEYOND active recovery.

But I can crank out some crazy ass push-ups.

Guyland

I just finished reading Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel.

I HIGHLY recommend it.

Kimmel looks at what it means for boys to come of age today–with a focus on guys between 16 and 26. He discusses the “Guy Code,” which informs much of what most guys do–or at least deal with. He talks about how high school is Boot Camp for Guyland, binge drinking, fraternity hazing, sports, media, porn, hooking up sex, predatory sex, party rape, girls and what ALL guys need to become just guys.

If you have–or will have–a teenage son, nephew, grandson, work with, teach, interact with, can become a significant adult for, know, talk to, or love a boy, you must read this book. If you have–or will have–a daughter, niece, granddaughter, work with, teach, interact with, can become a significant adult for, know, talk to, or love a girl, you must read this book.

You see, John Mayer is right. Interactions between fathers and daughters and mothers and daughters and even between young men and women inform everything about the kind of young adult and real adult they become. This book is a good read that helps provide a lay of the land…of Guyland.

Mother’s Day

Every year I post about Mother’s Day–and how I don’t do it.

I don’t post about the emotional anticipation of the anniversary of Mom’s death that I have starting at the end of February. I don’t post about my awareness of Mom and Dad’s anniversary on April 3. I don’t post about how I remember Mom and care for myself on April 26. I don’t post about how I tend to still be in aftershock one week later on May 3, what would be Mom’s birthday–how I try to come up with a way to celebrate her then…and usually fail. I usually only post about Mother’s Day. Perhaps because I have no say in how that day plays out. I can navigate the rest of the dates on my terms and in ways that are meaningful for me. On Mother’s Day, I have no say. It is foisted upon me whether I want it or not. And usually, I don’t want it.

I tell my people every year that I still don’t do Mother’s Day–even since I’ve become a mother. Yet, I still get cards and the Mother’s Day greetings that make most women happy and honored. This year’s card from the in-laws came on Friday. It was a Hallmark Mahogany card, which make me chuckle a little. It was a typical card from them–very nice and thoughtful, but not what I need or want. Yesterday, I got a card in the mail from a friend who chose a card that was motherly but one where you wrote the message yourself. She told Ryan to “strike a pose” and took a picture of him. She included the picture and focused her note on him and how blessed he was to have me as his mother.

Al and I were on the deck and talking about this whole Mother’s Day thing. I said, “There’s no getting away from this, is there?”

“Nope. Ryan and I really love you and appreciate what you do and we want to let you know that.”

“I get that and I appreciate that. But couldn’t it be on some other day?”

Later on, last night, Al handed me a card and said, “You can open this now. You can open it later. You can put it away and never open it. But I wanted to get this for you.”

I went ahead and opened it. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It acknowledged my not wanting to celebrate but his wanting to let me know how much I mean to him. And I didn’t get it on Mother’s Day.

I asked him later how Ryan got to be so gung ho about Mother’s Day. Al said, “Well…he came to me one day and said, ‘You know Mom’s Day is coming, right, Dad? Well, I have money…and I want to buy her a card.”

Al said, “How can you say no to that?!”

As I wiped away a few tears, I agreed.

I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day. Instead, I went for a 5 mile run at the lake. The weather was PERFECT and it was the best 5 miles I’d done lately. I thought about Mom and how I wished she were here to join us for the festivities later on today. I think she’d really like the place we’re going for brunch–though she probably wouldn’t get into Iron Man 2 as much. And then I thought about being a mom, and how I haven’t really embraced that part of my identity. I certainly love and care about Ryan. I say he’s mine and ours–because he is. But I don’t usually think of myself as a mom. Until now.

So this Mother’s Day, I’ll allow some recognition of me as a mother. And I’ll embrace it a little, too.