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Ancestral Health Symposium

So here’s where I am this weekend:

The Ancestral Health Symposium

This is the third year of the symposium, but it’s my first time to go.

The premise is that when we can use an evolutionary prospective, we can develop solutions to our contemporary health challenges.  The title Paleo as it applies to nutrition is too vague and is really kind of an inaccurate word, but it’s still a word that gets thrown around and is accepted shorthand within the movement.

Couldn't play it straight.
Couldn’t play it straight.

So first: the demographic of attendees.  There are about 600 people here.  At any time in a store, or on a street, or at a conference, or on a campus, the folks you see reflect the statistics of America’s population:  35% obese, 69% overweight (including obesity).  Not in this room.  These are fit people.  Fit does not mean slender – these people look strong and healthy.  It is a younger group – Eliott and I are in the older 20%, easily – but even the older folks look this way.  It’s a refreshing view; I didn’t realize how “normal” it is to see those statistics every day in real life until I was in this conference room.

A stock image, but you get the drift.
A stock image, but you get the drift.

Most of the speakers are MD’s and PhDs.  Check out this detailed schedule.  I don’t have a science background, and a few of the presenters today were a smidge over my head.  The topics today were:

The Paleolithic Prescription

This was presented by the two MD’s who are considered the “grandfathers” of the modern Paleo movement, who have been researching the hunter-gatherer diet for their entire professional careers.  This one was a little sciency, but I hung on the best I could, and took notes on their suggestions for more papers and books to read.

The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature

I loved this one.  Dr. Gad Saad examined our modern consumer instinct that has gone awry, and what it reveals about our primal nature.  It gives context at least to how we’ve gotten where we are, even if it’s unsettling.

Your ovaries know what I'm talking about.
Your ovaries know what I’m talking about.

Sexual Fitness and Women’s Fertility Cycles

Another great session.  This examined sexual selection from an evolutionary standpoint, and how we’re massively altering this with our reliance on synthetic hormones, both for men and women.  I’m particularly interested in this because of my 4 young-adult children and their long-term health.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Litigation Status

Fascinating session by the plaintiff’s attorney in the lawsuit filed in New York against the HFCS manufacturers on behalf of a teenage girl w/type 2 diabetes, claiming that HFCS is the cause of her developing the disease.  I had an instant flashback to my first year of law school and Torts and Strict Liability/Failure To Warn.

Satan's urine
Satan’s urine

Find Your Why

Highlight of the day.  This young man, Kyle Maynard, was born with a congenital amputation who has become a motivational speaker, and is a proponent of the Paleo lifestyle.  He recently became the first person to “bear crawl” up Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It took 13 days and his presentation today was about that challenge.  Please click through to his page and read about this spectacular young person.

Awesome.  What's your Why?
Awesome. What’s your Why?

The hall of vendors has been wonderful – sources of grass-fed beef, home-gardening aids, and the newest buzz-product Kombucha (kind of a fermented tea that adds beneficial gut flora).  Tomorrow also includes a posters’ session, which are like mini-breakout sessions, I think.  In between speakers, we have these little 3-minute movement sessions by Adonis- and Venus-like trainers.

About 3 months ago, Eliott and I did this Whole30 experiment.  It’s 30 days of absolute clean eating:  local and organic grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, local and organic vegetables and some fruits, and healthy fats.  No sugar, no grains, no alcohol.  It also include other paleo-lifestlyle pieces regarding sleep, timing of meals, and movement.  It was both a lot of fun and a real challenge.  It was pricey, of course, to buy all that fresh, local food (and lots of time to prepare and cook it), and it was a new skill, but we LOVED it.  We felt fabulous, had huge energy, no physical symptoms of our ages (!).  It’s extremely difficult to do while traveling, but we’ve continued to do a modified version at home (like I’m not going to have cocktails at sunset).  The authors of the Whole 30 book are here for a presentation and panel tomorrow.

From my personal food porn file
From my personal food porn file

So anyway, that’s what I’m doing til Sunday.  My brain’s on overload but I’m lovin it.  To my Murfreesboro crowd – I’ll be home in time for Glenda’s moving-to-Vegas-and-selling-her-art party on Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Tour de Boro!

What a beautiful day for a bike ride!

Today was the Tour de Boro (although honestly it was more of a Tour de Christiana), a leisurely spring ride through the rolling hills of Rutherford County, benefitting the organization Special Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic rehabilitation and professional nursing services to children with special needs.  It’s also a great way to kick off the spring riding season!

Because of a weather front that moved in last night, it was a bit dodgy getting up at 6:00 to 39 degrees.  But get up I did, and off to Barfield Park I went, bike on rack, coffee in hand, ready to get my ride on.

Within minutes of arriving and checking in, I heard my name called, and looked around and saw my friend Allison.

Alison has been a friend and a client for 5 or 6 years.  We chatted a minute and decided to ride together, as it seemed like we would ride at about the same pace.  We had the most delightful time riding and talking.  I’d like to share a bit of what she shared with me.

Alison and me
Alison and me

Alison is a veteran and has recently become involved with Ride2Recovery, an organization established to help injured veterans overcome obstacles they face, through the sport of cycling.  Alison has done a ride to NYC, the California coast, and the Gulf coast.  She shared some stories about some of the folks she has ridden with.  R2R provides and modifies bicycles for any manner of disability, and through donations and outside funding, there is no cost to the veteran.  Non-veterans are invited and encouraged to attend the structured rides offered around the country throughout the year, although there’s a fee associated with that.

She said the exertion, the camaraderie, the accomplishment are all helping her to process her overseas active duty experiences.  Specifically she said it helped her see that all of us, with our strengths and weaknesses, are all beautifully imperfect, and that each person’s life is of their own making.  My friend Alison has since spent a month or so in New Zealand, taking in the sights of that spectacular country.  It’s also led her to sell her home and work toward accomplishing a personal dream of owning her business.

I hope you’ll visit the website and consider whether this fits into your charitable giving.  We don’t always get to see how our contributions work, but today, for a few lovely spring hours, I got to see just that.

My friend Alison
My friend Alison

Thanks for reading!

Running with the grand!

What a wonderful thing!

Yesterday was the Zoo Run Run, the annual 5k through the Nashville Zoo.

This was a run chosen by my beloved massage therapy school posse in an effort to show that the caretakers take care of themselves too!  We preach health and fitness and nutrition and stress reduction every day to our clients, and it is past time for us to live what we teach.

The squeeze and I had registered for the race together, but business took him to California for the week, so I ended up with an extra registration.  I also ended up with the grandson for a sleepover Friday night.  When I offered him the opportunity, he was ALL. FOR. IT!! After all, as he reminded me when I ordered him a Little Boy’s Hot Chocolate from Starbucks, “Gammy, I’m not a little boy.  I’m 8”.

So after Friday night’s Snacks n Movie on the big couch (Cheerios and milk, and Stand By Me), and after helping me do some work at my gym on Saturday morning, into our warmest running gear and off to the zoo we went.

First thing was registration, checking in to get our race bibs and tshirts.

Representing my school too!
Representing my school too!

Then it was visiting vendors, and seeing runners in animal costumes, or animals in runner costumes, picking up a few freebies, and petting the animals brought out for just that.

I think there's a pony under all that shag.
I think there’s a pony under all that shag.

Then we had a few minutes to stretch before they called us to line up with 2000 of our closest friends, and it was time to get our Zoo Run on!

Race Face!
Race Face!

3…2…1…GO!  We shot right out of the corral at, well, a fast crawl, til the crowd spread out a little, then it was full speed ahead.  My race strategy was this:  I was sure I could outrun him, even if I am a little older, so I was going to let him run til he was tired, then we would walk/run the remainder of the race.  That’s exactly the strategy we implemented, but we added a few short stops for animal pics.

Some kind of a red-haired pig or something - neither one of us could remember the name of this cutie
Some kind of a red-haired pig or something – neither one of us could remember the name of this cutie

Then we came upon the elephants – they were magnificent!

Look closely to see the big guy behind us!
Look closely to see the big guy behind us!

Then it was the kangaroos, then an ostrich, the zebras, the cats, and finally the flamingoes!

IMG_3619IMG_3621

IMG_3623

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Then, in one final, reserve burst of speed and energy, he tore across the finish line, arms raised in victory, cheered on by the crowd!

He did it!
He did it!

I am so proud of the little guy, and we’re already talking about our next race.  I once made a promise to my kids that whatever they would allow me to participate in with them, I would do my very best to do.  That promise has taken me to the top of black diamond slopes, down rapids that scare the hell out of me, to runway fashion shows, and up rock walls.  Now I’ve made the same promise to my grand.  I can’t think of a better way to stay healthy than that.

Our celebratory cones at the "ice cream place with the two lips".  Took me a while to figure out too.
Our celebratory cones at the “ice cream place with the two lips”. Took me a while to figure out too.

Thanks for reading!

Albuquerque, part 1

And they are the source of my adventurous spirit.

My parents are on their 4th consecutive month of motor home caravaning of the summer.  They first did the Lewis and Clark caravan for the months of June and July.  To translate from RVspeak:  caravanning is a group of motorhomes, mostly retired folks, who plan and organize trips around the country, anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.  My parents have done over 35 of these trips over the last 20 years or so, including the Viking caravan up to New Brunswick, the Canadian trips – Polar Bear sightings included, Alaska, the Yucatan, Baja, numerous Civil War trips, and this one, the Southwest Adventure.  Dad serves as the historian on both the Lewis and Clark trips and the Civil War ones too.

Daughter Amy has a conference in California next week, and I’m going to join her for a few days of fun.  In the meantime, Mom and Dad knew the Balloon Festival was coming up and had been asking me to join them, so…

sweet mother

This festival is the premier festival in ballooning.  There are over 500 balloons, thousands of spectators, and is said to be the most photographed event in the world.  It’s a full 8 days, and there are activities all day every day.  The liftoff field is adjacent to the brand spanking new Balloon Museum, to which I willingly devoted 3 hours of my life today.  Did you know that during WWII Japan sent 10,000 balloon bombs toward the US, 1000 of which have been recovered, and some of which may still be in remote areas?

This morning we spent several hours, beginning predawn, watching what is known as a mass ascension.

trying to zoom with camera phone

First was the spectacular sunrise liftoff, then we enjoyed all the different balloons:

They have to call him Aaron, since “Elvis” is copyrighted

Made of awesome.
Wells Fargo

So here’s the deal…the RV is parked in a giant field with several hundred other motor homes (Mom calls it Bonnaroo for retirees), but no hookups – no electricity or water.  This isn’t too big of a problem normally for a self-contained motorhome, but generator curfew is coming up in 15 minutes, and I have a couple of hours of studying to do tonight, off my Mac battery, so I’m going to cut this post into two pieces, because there are so many good pictures I want to add.

Tomorrow is several hours at the Indian Pueblo Culture Center in the morning, then a turquoise museum in the afternoon, then another balloon event in the evening.

So til part 2….thanks for reading!

Warrior Dash 2012

Because it’s fun, that’s why.

Start here.

The pictures at this site are so much better than any I took, and there’s video too, so take a glance at that to get an idea of what this race is like.  TL; DR:  5k with obstacles.

I did this race last year for the first time, and just loved it.  It’s right up my alley – all fun and mud and games and mud and beer and mud.  Costumes are a big part of it too, so this year we spent all of 9 minutes pulling ours together.

Hat tip to Sam Jordan for Eliott’s:

Senior Chippendale
Yep, it’s an LBD.

I wish I’d taken a better picture of the fishnet stockings with the running shoes.  And ours weren’t even the best costumes there.  I didn’t take my phone onto the grounds because that’s the Mud Zone.  The site has some good shots; the best we saw were a Pebbles and BamBam couple, complete with clubs and hairbones.  We saw a team of Oompa-loompas, lots of tutus and vikings, and tutus on vikings.

The race started with a series of hills/ditches with mud that were easy, but the mucky mud at the bottom was a real shoe-eater.  Next came a commando crawl under barbed wire, but it was hands-and-knees height, so that just created muddy hands and knees.  Next, we had an over-under obstacle which wasn’t too bad – the “over” was a wall about 4 feet high, the under was barbed wire around 2 feet high.  I got a dress strap caught on one, but Eliott untangled me and off we went.  Then there was a series of webbing, kind of like boxing ring ropes (that’s a guess – I don’t believe I’ve even felt the strappy things around a boxing ring).

I’m sure these are out of sequence now, but somewhere along the way there was a field of tires, and junker cars laid end to end so it was hood/roof/trunk/hood/roof/trunk.  The trickiest one for me this year was the rope climb – kind of an A-shape that rose about 25 feet in the air.  One side was a ladder-type slant that you climbed down; the upside was a sandpaper-covered slope that you climbed by holding on to a rope.  The trick was not the climb up, nor the climb down, but the transition over the top.  I flattened out too soon, with my center of gravity on the rope side, and with no leverage for my legs, I was left with just powering over with upper body, like when you push up on the side of the pool to get out.

As you near the finish line, there were two jumps through fire (not kidding), then the final mud pit.  Mark Twain described the Mississippi River as:  “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow”.  Capt Clark (of Lewis and Clark) said:  The water we Drink, of the Common water of the missourie at this time, contains half a Comn Wine Glass of ooze or mud to every pint.  Yeah, that’s about what it was like.  Even a visit to the fireman’s hose after the race was over only took off the thick top layer.  It took 2 showers after that for the water to run clear.

The race organizers have cleverly designed the timing-chip-for-a-beer trade, and of course turkey legs and pork sandwiches were aplenty.  This race is pricey, plus a hefty $20 parking fee, but if you know that ahead of time, you can limit that by carpooling, and registering on time saves a bit too.  Wave starts are every 30 minutes all day long.

Nice and clean pre-race

I will go back and edit if our official race photos turn out – for now, this is the best I can do:

smelled as good as they look

See you at Dash 2013!

Thanks for reading!

The Fitness Post

How Finding my Fitness led to my Atheism

or

How Finding my Atheism led to my Fitness

(This was a guest blog for my friend JT Eberhard, who resides at Scienceblogs.  The “everyone” in the first line was directed at his atheist readers, as that was the context in which this was discussed and then written.  I’ve written about this before, but never all in one post…so….here it is!)

Everyone of us has one of these stories.  Everyone’s is interesting, and everyone’s is different.

It gives me joy beyond measure to recount mine.  It may seem like I’m taking license to have the two branches of my story to run so parallel, but it only seems unusual now, after the fact.  At the time, it just happened.

In 2000, I turned 40, mother of 4 teenagers, active in church and community.  I was also active in my Southern Baptist Church, a Sunday School teacher, Missions Director, and committed to the faith.  And 60 pounds overweight.

The evening of my 40th birthday party, surrounded by friends, I came to the conclusion, which later I began to describe as an epiphany:

That the first 40 years of our life, we can treat our body pretty brutally, and it will respond, for the most part, to the demand; the second 40, however, are quite a different story:  we have to treat our body with deep respect and reverence in order for it to respond to the demands of life.

I had attempted diets before, lost a few pounds, then, ad nauseam, reverted to old, comfortable, established habits.  Walking into the bookstore left me more frustrated than helped, facing the wall of books in the Health/Fitness section, some of which were in direct opposition to the one right next to it.  Fuck that.

This was in the year 2000, when the internet was a toddler, and I spent hours at the public library looking up nutrition information, going directly to the study when I could.  I don’t have a medical background, or even a degree that was heavy in science (education), so I had a lot of remedial work to do.  Maybe that even worked in my favor since I had to start from scratch understanding human anatomy, physiology, metabolism, nutrients.

For two years I applied what I learned to my routine, tweaked, applied, and tweaked some more.  I lost 60 pounds, and became so interested in and excited about my new lifestyle I became a trainer to try to help others struggling with health issues.

Clipboard: yes. Whistle: not so much.

Parallel to this information-gathering, exercise-implementing, nutrition-experimenting journey was a gradual, slow, dawning of realization relating to religion.  While I had never been an actual creationist, I was a believer of the Bible, an advocate of a personal savior, even a teacher in my church.  My view of the beginning of human history was that whether it was Eden or evolution, Goddidit, and resolving the particulars was irrelevant to me.

As I began my study of nutritive science, however, I found that I needed to study our human anatomy and physiology to make sense of the process.  That in turn led me to study our evolutionary heritage:  what were we to eat to make us truly thrive?  What had we eaten for the thousands of years that we did thrive?  While the answer was simple:  whole, unprocessed, fairly accessible natural foods, the implication was greater.  Evolution was an absolute, undisputed by any scientist, and the evidence was abundant.  Hmmmm.  Not a show-stopper for the faith, but certainly a proverbial chink in the wall.

I visited Christian apologetics sites and read several books trying to reconcile my new acceptance of evolution with the broader picture of my faith.  I knew there were Christians who accepted, even embraced evolution, and I was eager to understand how I was to do this.  It was completely contradictory to the version of humanity’s beginnings in the Bible.  The general explanation was that the events that occurred in Genesis were “poetic”, not literal, that they were representative of God’s relationship to us.  Hmmmm.  Again.  My next question was:  When did the poetry end and the reality begin?  Noah?  Abraham?  David?  The apologists diverted at this point:  some said that during the course of evolution when we became modern humans, the history then became literal.  Some said that the poetry continued through most of the Old Testament.  But most certainly they all agreed that when Jesus entered the picture, why then it was all literal.

Or.

Not.

The brevity and simplicity of the paragraphs above belie the drama and torment of the process.  In sharing stories with other atheists, I have heard from former believers who left the faith kicking and screaming, who begged God for a word, who didn’t want to be atheists, who fought for years against acceptance of the truth.  While mine was not quite so vehement, it was painful, it was sorrowful, it was traumatic, and it was humbling.  I had to grieve anew those folks I had only said goodbye to “temporarily” – my grandparents, some friends.  I had to recollect every Sunday School lesson I had ever taught with confidence and arrogance.  I had to grasp the separation this was going to create with my already fractured extended family.  I had to reevaluate my morality.  I had to redirect my compassion and drive and creativity and time that for years and years I had devoted to my church.

But do not misunderstand me.  Although the journey was unnerving and unknown, it was thrilling and exciting and liberating.  My 4 teenage children had been making journeys of their own in the same direction, and we spent countless hours discussing and debating and researching toward the same conclusion.  This brought me absolute, sheer delight.  Watching their beautiful brains develop their critical thinking skills and refuse to accept dogma made me as proud as their mother as I had ever been.
I love reading former believers’ coming out stories.  I love commiserating with the struggles and rejoicing in the victories.  I feel the pain of lost relationships and the joy of new discoveries.  This is mine.  I am honored to share it.

Thanks for reading.

Very long overdue

I know, I know, I know.

I’ve been completely neglectful of my wonderful list.  I assure you that I’ve only neglected blogging about it, not dreaming about it.  It has transitioned from the 50 things to do in my 50th year to my straight-up Bucket List.  I have a hard copy of it too, that I keep in my planner and I’ll occasionally make a note or two.  The original list and notes are in italics – every time I publish it I try to add commentary on what I’ve done.


In order to celebrate managing to stay alive, happy, and healthy to my 50th, I am going to try 50 new things this year.  Some are huge (hike the Great Wall of China).  Some are tiny (drink a lime gimlet).  All are things I have never before done.  And in that same spirit of celebration, my friends and family will be participating with me.

I’ve had a few more suggestions since my last blog, and those will be reflected in the list.  I’ve decided to be a little less OCD, and a little more organic in the list.  I’m not going to preemptively remove anything from the list; there will be more than 50 things.  In my daily life, as I always do, I will seek out new and exciting experiences, and may very well add something to the list spontaneously, maybe even after I’ve done it.  I will attempt to do all, but my primary goal will be to accomplish 50 New Things.

You all have been so enthusiastic and free-spirited about all this; thanks for the suggestions and the WILLINGNESS to do them with me!

1.  Streak through Publix    –   Dora (You are SOOO on the hook for this – still)

2.  Do a Bob Ross painting   –   Glenda (Maybe after finals?)

3.  Drink a lime gimlet   –   Sam M (Got this one done – Hendrix gin, Rose’s Lime Juice, shaken and served by an actual Englishman – P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N!)

4.  Fire-hoop   –   Glenda (Not yet – need a little more practice)

5.   Color my hair pink/blue/something for a race   –   Glenda/Amy (for the Ohio Iron in September)

6.  Go to the Superbowl

7.  Scuba-dive Cayman or Honduras or Bahamas   –   Fran (maybe in conjunction with our Key West swim?)

8.  Write a song   –   Beth

9.  Hike a 14-er in Colorado   –   Ben (climbed Torrey’s Peak and Gray’s peak – 2 14’ers in the Front Range with my boy)

10.  Write a children’s book   –   Kristen

11.  Be in a live audience for a TV show   –   Kristen

12.  Eat crumb cake at Carlos’ Bakery in NYC   –   Kristen

13.  Horseback riding on the beach   –   Kristen

14.  Go parasailing   –   Kristen

15.  Go bungy-jumping

16.  Big-ass rubber band thingy   –   Mandi

17.  Run 50 miles   –   Vic  (less and less likely with each passing day – and it wasn’t probable to begin with!)

18.  Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand   –   Vic

19.  Hike the Great Wall of China   –   Vic

20.  Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world, in Chile   –   Vic

21.  See sea turtles hatch and head for the ocean   –   Vic

22.  Go sky diving   –   Phil

23.  Learn to play pinochle, mah jongg, canasta or gin

24.  Eat gefilte fish with horseradish

25.  Dress like a man and go with a man to a straight bar and a gay bar (They don’t know it yet, but I’m going to do this with Chris and Bryson when they turn 21)

26.  Have a colonoscopy   –   mom

27.  Get a tattoo   –   Amy (Done!)

28.  Go to South Beach, Miami

29.  Attend lighting of candles in Jerusalem

30.  Take ballroom dance lessons  –  Tonya

31.  Meet the President 

32.  Do nothing for one day:  no work, no workouts, no computer, no phone, no TV

33.  Go on a photo safari

34.  Visit all the continents

35.  Panhandle on a corner

36.  Ride the TransCanadian Railway

37.  Drink Paddle of Destiny at Mellow Mushroom   –   Susan (I’ve done this at least 3 times, but never with my girl Susan, so it stays on the to-do list!)

38.  Renew marriage vows   –   Mike

39.  Finish an Ironman  –  me (woooohooooo!!!  October 23, 2010!!)

40.  Climb a redwood tree   –   Amy

41.  Hike the Adirondacks   –   Becky

42.  Learn to swordfight   –   Ted (I know Ted, my bad – I will do this!)

43.  Drive a race car   –   Ted

44.  Hike the AT   –   Ted

45.  Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class   –   Shannon

46.  Kayak the Gauley   –   Sam

47.  Do a road trip   –   Brianna

48.  Swim with dolphins   –   Brianna

49.  Full moon party in Koh phangan, Thailand   –   Lila

50.  Visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina   –   Lila

51.  Go dog sledding in Alaska   –   Lila

52.  Become a licensed minister and marry someone   –   Lila (OK, girlie, I’ve done the become-a-licensed-minister part – just gotta find someone who is disrespectful enough of the institution to allow me to do it!!)

53.  Swim with sharks   –   Lila

54.  Jump off of a waterfall   –   Lila

55.  Watch Dr. Zhivago (how did I miss that?)

56.  Memorize Pi to 50 places  (3.1415926535 – that’s as far as I can do from memory)

57.  Go see the Formula 1 race in Monaco  –  Brother Eric

58.  Sit through an entire episode of:  O’Reilly/Beck/Colter/Limbaugh  –  Brother Eric  (you have no idea how hard this will be!)

59.  Make Bananas Foster

60.  See the Tour de France in person, not just on Versus at 2:00 in the morning!

61.  Place a $1000 bet on one hand of blackjack  –  Brother Eric

I’d like to add here

#62.  Ride my bike around Cade’s Cove in the moonlight.  Done.

So there it is.  My achievement ratio is disappointingly low.  BUT – remember the disclaimer.  If I don’t get it accomplished this year, it rolls right onto the Life Bucket List.  And the ratio doesn’t take into account things I have done, since May, for the first time that DIDN’T make the list.  Like bat wrangling in England.  And trying to catch a longhorn.  And manually expressing my dogs’ anal glands.  Oh yeah.  Just couldn’t bring myself to blog about that one.

So that’s the update as of April of 2011.  I’m going to Florida with brother for a few days next week.  I’ll try to get one of those TV shows watched while I’m there, and maybe make the Bananas Foster.

If you have another thought, comment away!  Just remember the rule – if you suggest it, you’ll be asked to do it with me – that’s the dealio!

safe driving technique

Thanks for reading!

I’m a 14er! Twice!

Here’s to spontaneity!

Not much to the lead-in for this blog:  climbing a 14er with Ben was on the list of 50.  Every time he and I chat we look at the week or 10 days ahead of us to see if anything works with our schedules, and on Saturday when we chatted, we came up with something that worked!  Surprised us both, but we found a little window when he was out of school, I could make it out, and the availability of flights cooperated.  So Tuesday afternoon I headed out to Denver, via Atl, and arrived around 6:00.  Ben’s girl, Kirsten, picked me up at the airport and we drove to meet Ben just east of the Eisenhower tunnel off of 70.

Anyone see anything wrong with this pic? I had this in Denver waiting for Kirsten. Ben texted me NOT to drink - after I'd had almost all of the glass.
Sweet Kirsten, architect graduate student extraordinaire

Kirsten headed back to Denver, and Ben and I headed up a gravel road to the start point (in his 4-wheel drive Tracker, which was necessary).  He set up the tent, and after I wrapped up in most of the clothes I brought, we slept for a few hours.

My sherpa

The alarm went off around 5, and we set about breaking camp, stuffing stuff sacks, filling camelbaks, and Ben even fixed us a mountaineer breakfast of coffee and oatmeal.  Ben’s a fellow foodie, and had half and half and organic sugar for the coffee, and cranberries, cinnamon, and sliced almonds for the oatmeal.

happy hikers

We headed out of the parking lot around 6, just as it was getting light.  It’s only fair at this point to tell you that our base camp was at 11,000 feet – but don’t be so quick to be unimpressed – it’s still a 3,000 foot climb to the first summit.  When you begin, you are in a little valley, and can only see the faces of the mountains closest to you.  As you ascend, more and more peaks peek their tips out into your field of vision.  It’s as if the panorama unfolds in a reward for all your climbing effort.

First rays of sunshine on the peaks - that's Gray's peak on the left, and you can barely see Torrey's peak on the right, in the sunshine

See the saddle shape on that ridge between the two peaks in the sunshine?  We first plan to ascend Gray’s peak on the left, then drop onto the ridge and hike it over and up to Torrey’s peak.

both peaks, closer, more sunshine, but still hours away

Ben entertained me as we hiked the elevation with tales about hiking up/skiing down these peaks in the winter.  On the outside I was the cool, hip mom urging him on, celebrating his adrenaline fix, and on the inside my insides were the baking-soda-vinegar-5th-grade-volcano-science-project.  It’s not easy being me.

On the really rugged part of the climb

Because these peaks are so close to Denver, and because there are two so close together, and because it’s nearing the end of the hiking season, this trail was rather busy.  There were probably 20-25 other hikers on this trail, everyone smiling and good-humored, if panting and straining.  There are 54-58 14ers in Colorado (any guesses why there is a disparity in the number?  No fair google-cheating – you can figure this one out), and it is a common goal to summit them all, whether you are a Colorado resident or not.  Ben has 11 or so.  Guess how many 13,000 foot peaks there are?  Over 700.  He’s a little more interested in hiking the Centennial 100, or the 100 highest 13ers, because they are a lot less crowded, and a lot less developed (translation:  more of a challenge).

I'm a 14er!!!

So we hike and switchback and turn and hike and switchback and rest and hike and then….the peak!!  We made it!

Signing the official registry

It was awfully gusty while we were at the peak, and we came close to choosing to turn around and go back down.  Then we looked at one another and said, “Oh, HELL no!”, at about the same time, so off we went, wind gusts and all.

View from the top
View of Gray's from Torrey's - you can see the switchbacks if you look closely!

The trip down was much quicker, of course, and we were back at the car by 3.  We had a post-hike beer that was delicious, and then hit the tostitoes for the drive back to Denver.  We got to have a dinner with Kirsten at a very cool Italian place in her area of town.  After that, it was a quick trip to the airport and 36 hours after the trip began, I’m home!

Ben and remarked several times while we were hiking how very fortunate we are to have this trip come together like it did.  We both had to have the window of time, the flights had to work, the weather had to cooperate…and for this trip, we got them all!

Now here’s the part of the blog where I go off about my kid, so if you’ve read too many of these from this web address, you may be excused.

I’m in love with this boy/man.  I love to make him smile, I love to hear him laugh.  I absolutely love how his mind works and how he thinks.  I love to hear him rant about religion, and I love to hear him describe skiing among those hills.  I love his funny stories about his crazy-ass skiing friends, and customers he’s had in the restaurant.  Watching him love on a pup that someone brought on the climb nearly brought me to tears.  I want to give him everything – all the toys he wants, all the gear he needs, all the trips he wants to take.  I love how he’s going back to college, and the enthusiasm he has found for that.  I love seeing my little boy in the face of this grown man.

Ben, thank you for this trip.  Thanks for helping your mom achieve one of the things on her 50 list.  I’ll never forget it – our predawn breakfast, our conversations, the moment on the drive down when we were both laughing so hard you had to pull the car over til we stopped.

Peak pic

Do I need to even describe how sore I am?  Thighs, calves, quads, glutes, back – so exquisitely sore I really can’t move without groaning.  Back to working out tomorrow, so technically I only missed today.

One more thing on the list – on to the next one.

Thanks for reading!

Perhaps I overestimated my timetable.

If I had any graphic design ability, this post would have been soooo much easier to read.  I, however, do not, so you will have to do the best you can.  I’ve centered and italisized the original post; maybe that will help some.

So here’s the 50 Things Post, dated May 18, 2010.  In my enthusiasm for the spirit of the idea, I may have been a bit overzealous and ambitious.  It is a failing I admit with pride.  Life threw our family a curve of epic proportions in June, and we have been recovering from that ever since.  I had not the inclination or interest in the list for a period of time over the summer.  I’m ready to revisit it now, I think, and I’m still enamored of the project.  Here’s the update:


May 18, 2010.  Exactly 6 months before my 50th birthday.

May 18, 2011.  Exactly 6 months after my 50th birthday.

In order to celebrate managing to stay alive, happy, and healthy to my 50th, I am going to try 50 new things this year.  Some are huge (hike the Great Wall of China).  Some are tiny (drink a lime gimlet).  All are things I have never before done.  And in that same spirit of celebration, my friends and family will be participating with me.

I’ve had a few more suggestions since my last blog, and those will be reflected in the list.  I’ve decided to be a little less OCD, and a little more organic in the list.  I’m not going to preemptively remove anything from the list; there will be more than 50 things.  In my daily life, as I always do, I will seek out new and exciting experiences, and may very well add something to the list spontaneously, maybe even after I’ve done it.  I will attempt to do all, but my primary goal will be to accomplish 50 New Things.

You all have been so enthusiastic and free-spirited about all this; thanks for the suggestions and the WILLINGNESS to do them with me!

1.  Streak through Publix    –   Dora (You are SOOO on the hook for this)

2.  Do a Bob Ross painting   –   Glenda

3.  Drink a lime gimlet   –   Sam M (Next weekend?)

4.  Fire-hoop   –   Glenda

5.   Color my hair pink/blue/something for a race   –   Glenda/Amy

6.  Go to the Superbowl

7.  Scuba-dive Cayman or Honduras or Bahamas   –   Fran

8.  Write a song   –   Beth

9.  Hike a 14-er in Colorado   –   Ben (May get to do this next week)

10.  Write a children’s book   –   Kristen

11.  Be in a live audience for a TV show   –   Kristen

12.  Eat crumb cake at Carlos’ Bakery in NYC   –   Kristen

13.  Horseback riding on the beach   –   Kristen

14.  Go parasailing   –   Kristen

15.  Go bungy-jumping

16.  Big-ass rubber band thingy   –   Mandi

17.  Run 50 miles   –   Vic

18.  Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand   –   Vic

19.  Hike the Great Wall of China   –   Vic

20.  Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world, in Chile   –   Vic

21.  See sea turtles hatch and head for the ocean   –   Vic

22.  Go sky diving   –   Phil

23.  Learn to play pinochle, mah jongg, canasta or gin

24.  Eat gefilte fish with horseradish

25.  Dress like a man and go with a man to a straight bar and a gay bar (They don’t know it yet, but I’m going to do this with Chris and Bryson when they turn 21)

26.  Have a colonoscopy   –   mom

27.  Get a tattoo   –   Amy (Done!)

28.  Go to South Beach, Miami

29.  Attend lighting of candles in Jerusalem

30.  Take ballroom dance lessons  –  Tonya

31.  Meet the President

32.  Do nothing for one day:  no work, no workouts, no computer, no phone, no TV

33.  Go on a photo safari

34.  Visit all the continents

35.  Panhandle on a corner

36.  Ride the TransCanadian Railway

37.  Drink Paddle of Destiny at Mellow Mushroom   –   Susan (what a no-brainer – we can do this on Friday!)

38.  Renew marriage vows   –   Mike

39.  Finish an Ironman  –  me

40.  Climb a redwood tree   –   Amy

41.  Hike the Adirondacks   –   Becky

42.  Learn to swordfight   –   Ted (Tuesday night if I’m not in Colorado)

43.  Drive a race car   –   Ted

44.  Hike the AT   –   Ted

45.  Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class   –   Shannon

46.  Kayak the Gauley   –   Sam

47.  Do a road trip   –   Brianna

48.  Swim with dolphins   –   Brianna

49.  Full moon party in Koh phangan, Thailand   –   Lila

50.  Visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina   –   Lila

51.  Go dog sledding in Alaska   –   Lila

52.  Become a licensed minister and marry someone   –   Lila (OK, girlie, I’ve done the become-a-licensed-minister part – just gotta find someone who is disrespectful enough of the institution to allow me to do it!!)

53.  Swim with sharks   –   Lila

54.  Jump off of a waterfall   –   Lila

55.  Watch Dr. Zhivago (how did I miss that?)

56.  Memorize Pi to 50 places

57.  Go see the Formula 1 race in Monaco  –  Brother Eric

58.  Sit through an entire episode of:  O’Reilly/Beck/Colter/Limbaugh  –  Brother Eric

59.  Make Bananas Foster

60.  See the Tour de France in person, not just on Versus at 2:00 in the morning!

61.  Place a $1000 bet on one hand of blackjack  –  Brother Eric

I’d like to add here

#62.  Ride my bike around Cade’s Cove in the moonlight.  Done.

So there it is.  My achievement ratio is disappointingly low.  BUT – remember the disclaimer.  If I don’t get it accomplished this year, it rolls right onto the Life Bucket List.  And the ratio doesn’t take into account things I have done, since May, for the first time that DIDN’T make the list.  Like bat wrangling in England.  And trying to catch a longhorn.  And manually expressing my dogs’ anal glands.  Oh yeah.  Just couldn’t bring myself to blog about that one.

keepin it real

And just to humble myself, this is my getup for cycling in overcast weather.  This is actually what people see when they pass me in their cars.  Scary.

Fave iPod random today:

(and in praise of the Pod – this is my 4-year-old iPod I got when Sam ordered his MAC for college – it was the premium with the purchase – engraved on the back with “World’s Greatest Mom” – love that kid – and it held up the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes of the bike ride!)

the HUGE opening number from Pirates of the Caribbean – great to cycle to!

Trailer for upcoming blogs:  Cleaning out the Closet (I’ll try to find a way to add porn to that post to make it readable), and book review of Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (if I can find a way to slice my wrists and bleed on the keyboard).

Thanks for reading!

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