Thursday, April 5, 2012

Global Thoughts

I have never really been a "gym" person. I'd always hear people talking about the gym and think to myself that it was a waste of money when you could exercise at home. A little over a year ago, under intense coercion from my husband and eldest child, I unwillingly became a gym person. And, though it is humbles me to admit after years of silent opposition: I love the gym.

The first few weeks were a bit awkward. I felt sort of like the new kid at school--awkward and uncomfortable. But after the initial settling in, I was excited about to go. Embarrassing my friend by asking how machines worked and what parts of the body they targeted, and strolling from machine to machine, trying each one, and enthusiastically voicing my approval or disapproval.  Letting people show me and help me. Apparently you are just supposed to know? Carie, my friend in life and workout partner, remarked, amused, if a little embarrassed, by my behavior, "You are good times."

Now, the gym is my refuge--an escape from the non-stop of life. And I have to admit, one of my favorite activities is people-watching from the safety of a treadmill, headphones safely in place. More than once I've created a whole life story for the person in front of me on the elliptical. Just last week there was a guy with a sweat-drenched QR code on the back of his shirt. It almost killed me not to scan it, nosy as I am, but I was just too unsure of the result. Of course, scanning a QR code while on the treadmill would be completely impossible for a klutz such as myself. Regardless, before I knew it, I'd completed my miles just pondering the possibilities.

By the way, I do not like the ellipticals. They seem like torture devices, and I am not nearly coordinated enough to operate them. Twice I tried. Twice I almost didn't walk away. Something about those handles, I can't quite put my finger on it. Course, I have nearly killed myself on the treadmill too, but it doesn't frighten me nearly as much. Once, while trying to change songs mid-run, I dropped my phone, and it shot off the back, striking an unsuspecting man walking by. That was a fun. My phone, by the way, was playing a praise and worship song, my preferred workout music, so the guy gave me a somewhat bewildered look as he handed it back to me. I just smiled and offered a red-faced apology.

For awhile, Brad and I were going to the gym together in the morning. I don't embarrass him, and he smiles at my quirks. Plus, he knows what all the machines do and how to work them, so it was like having my own personal trainer. It doesn't hurt that he's really easy on the eyes. Unfortunately, Lily decided that she preferred to spend the last few hours of her slumber in my bed, so that was the end of our early morning gym dates.

Lately, I've not been making it there as much as I'd like. The other day at the grocery store, I saw one of the older gentlemen Brad and I used to chat with in the morning. He wrapped me up in a big hug and asked me where I'd been. So cute! The funny relationships you develop at the gym. I've had more than one person think they knew me from somewhere, which has sparked all sorts of interesting conversations, along with headshaking and my husband remarking, "Babe...he was hitting on you." But I don't think that. And, I have changed my tune about the gym entirely.

I used to think the gym was kind of a "club," where the superfit scoffed at the rest of us. Now, I realize that we're all working toward a common goal. Some people have just been doing it longer and more intensely. Instead of judging those of us who are less fit, I like to think the superfit are encouraging us. Like Brad (who is one of the superfit) pushes me, "Come on; you can do it! ONE MORE." I usually respond to Brad's encouragement with dirty looks and profanity, but I'm working on that. And even if people aren't encouraging me, even if they are really thinking, "She needs to be locked up," it doesn't matter because in my mind they're laughing with me not at me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Open your heart

I write a lot about movies. Books and movies impact me significantly. Peyton has wanted to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so last night we watched it. It's about a little boy whose dad is killed in the 9-11 attacks, and he embarks on a journey to find some connection to his dad. It's beautiful and tragic and inspiring and heartbreaking. I'm pretty sure I haven't cried that hard since my own dad died. And I thought about all the quests I undertake: a closer relationship with God, a better understanding of life, self-improvement in all forms. I believe that I try so hard so that I can be better for everyone around me: a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, employee and more.

Usually what I find is that the answers I so desperately seek all ready reside within me, waiting for my mind to quiet down so that in the stillness, they might whisper their wisdom into my heart. My dear friend, who also overthinks her way through life, found a sign exemplifying this sentiment. It read simply:

IN SEARCH OF GOD
I WENT TO THE HOLY
LAND, TO MECCA & TO
ROME.
I VISITED MANY
CHURCHES, TEMPLES & MOSQUES.
I CLIMBED THE TALLEST
MOUNTAIN.
I LOOKED IN THE BOOKS
OF OLD EASTERN
RELIGION TO NO AVAIL.
I OPENED MY HEART &
THAT IS WHERE HE WAS.
--MEVLANA

I keep that quote taped to my kitchen cupboard to remind myself of all the time I spend searching, when God has given me all the tools I need. My job is to let go of thinking that I can do everything--anything, really--on my own, and give over my will to Him. A few weeks ago, a guest pastor at our church said during his sermon that we should pray to follow God and ask Him to take care of all the rest. So I've been trying to do that. He has shown me in HUGE ways that He will do exactly that, if I just move out of the way.

When Chloe was awarded a full scholarship, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I did nothing but cry and thank God for days. One of my best friends asked, "What were you praying for?" I did pray, but I couldn't ask for something as materialistic as a scholarship, so I simply prayed for God's will to be done. To receive such a resounding answer just blew me away. Things like that don't happen to us. We struggle and get by and scrimp and save, but for our child to get to go to college for free?

Now, Chloe has worked very hard, gotten good grades, excelled in every area of her life, and is an excellent candidate for a scholarship like this. She will appreciate and not squander this gift. She will make Chatham University proud of what a great choice they made when they chose her. That said, I fully believe that she got this scholarship not only because of her amazing abilities, but also because it is God's will for her.

During this Holy Week, I have been overwhelmed many times with emotion at all of His blessings, but especially the greatest gift God gave us: His son. I have spent many hours praying that I might be a good follower. I have prayed that He will teach me to use whatever gifts He has placed in me for His good. But mostly, I have just prayed to get out of His way.