Murphy’s Law

Click. Click. Click. Click. 

I’m feeling the cocktail of excitement, fear and relief as the car that I am securely strapped into is pulled higher and higher.  I’m excited because I am about to speed down a near vertical angle that looks impossible when viewed from the ground. As the car lurches upward, there is a split second of  fear that the chain dog will snap releasing the coaster backwards ending in a horrific crash.  The click of the the chain comforts me into thinking it must mean everything is fine.  Until we lurch forward again.  And again. And again. It is, after all, by record, the tallest wooden roller coaster. 

Despite my alternating states of emotion, I am drinking in the view.  It’s a shame that the American Eagle name was already claimed because the top of this lift hill is an eagle eye’s view. My son, brave enough to ride the coaster with me, actually isn’t brave enough to have his eyes open at the top.  Looking to the sky from the top of an  impressive height has never quivered my stomach. It’s a glorious view of the people below coming together to scream their heads off.  It almost takes my mind off the click of the roller coaster I am on. 

Click. Click. Fear. Relief. Fear. Relief. Fear.  

Then a pause as we hang at the top of a 180 feet drop while the anticipation builds.  I thought looking down 85 degree decline would trigger some unknown anxiety once we got there but the reality is that I am ready to fly. 

The locks release and we accelerate to 72 miles an hour.  The roller coaster twists us, change directions and never shows us what is coming next.  I can’t control what is coming out of my mouth. 

A month later, I’m driving a tiny economy rental car through the mountains near Golden, Colorado.  I’m fairly certain that the decription on the Avis website would read “Clown Car”.  Most people rent an SUV for the mountains.  Apparently, I rent clown cars.  

The GPS says turn right at the next intersection. I hesitate because this road seems more like a dirt driveway than the shortest route to Golden Gate Canyon State park.  A dirt road in the mountains could end up anywhere.  Like throwing a Jackson down on black number six, I decisively drive ahead into the mountains. On a dirt road. In a clown car. 

At first, I’m just driving along hoping that the GPS signal stays strong enough to guide me back to civilization sometime before my flight leaves that evening.  However, after a while, I note the washed out narrow ditch is a good 3 to 4 feet below the “edge” of the road, and I begin hoping that a tow truck will be able to get to me in time for me to make my evening flight.  I throw a Grant on red number 33 as I press on thinking that I will turn this car around at anytime I feel like the road isn’t safe enough to proceed, provided I’m smart enough to recognize it in time and tire of the gamble. 

After another five miles driving the clown car down the narrowing washed out dirt road, I pulled onto the paved main road. I glanced over my shoulder at the mountain side and once again I cannot control what comes out of my mouth. I laugh semi-hysterically for a good 30 seconds. 

Holy Shit! How the hell am I not sideways in a washed out ditch? 

The laughing reminds me of my uncontrollable laughter on the roller coaster rides a month earlier.  In both instances, I am euphoric because I have just broken Murphy’s Law.

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Filed under Lessons learned, personality flaws, travel, wonderland

I need practice, I need ice

I coach soccer.  I use the term “coach” loosely here.  It’s what you get when less than a handful of parents volunteer.  I’m not the head coach and, at least, I’m willing to watch, research and study other teams.  

Last practice, the head coach was on vacation so I got to be in charge. Although there were groans abound, I made them practice ball handling.  It’s basic but it’s essential. 

It didn’t take me long to realize that I also need to practice ball handling skills. How can I teach them fancy moves if I can’t do it myself?  So, today, a slow and lazy Saturday, after watching two movies and eating a hot fudge Sundae for dinner, I decided I needed to work off my French toast breakfast by practicing my soccer foot work.  

I won’t bore you with the details of the drills I did (or planned on doing) because it was shortly apparent that what I most need to practice is my outside foot dribbling.  See, on my second pass through the backyard, the toes of my right foot caught downward in the grass so that all my weight (DQ ice cream, maple syrup and all) went right into the tendons in the front of my right ankle. 

It crossed my mind that I should fallen on the ground as though my foot had just broken clean off my leg.  But, there wasn’t a referee watching (or anyone else either), so I settled for a few curse words. 

Clearly, I need to practice my footwork but right now, I need ice.  And maybe some Motrin..

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“I don’t really need to do it.”

As soon as I thought those words, I knew I had no other option.  If it wasn’t for Do I Really Need To that I wrote in January, I wouldn’t have been looking down the steep face of a Black Diamond run. (Perhaps I should stop reading my own blog posts?)  I was confident, on the whole, that it would be a successful run.  After all, I was in middle school when my best friend, Kim, and I skied down Hemlock for this first time.  So, I didn’t really need to do it.  Or, did I? 

In middle school, Kim and I, along with just about everyone from our school, were members of a ski club. We spent every Friday night fighting off frostbite resulting from refusing to compromise our ski bunny looks.  It wasn’t cool to zip up your coat or wear a hat at a ski resort in the 80’s.  Being a ski bunny didn’t confine us to the bunny hill though, we raced, jumped, did tricks, took illegal trails and did our best to do whatever the boys did. 

However, up until three years ago, I hadn’t skied since 1997 when I lived near the Pocono Mountains.  I’d even forgotten I owned skies. We had shoved them into the attic for storage when we moved to Illinois in 2004.  By the time we rediscovered them, they were deformed and delaminated.  Luckily, I’ve been able to accompany my son on the Boy Scout annual skiing trip for the last three years.  I’ve gone from a weekly skier to a yearly skier, on rentals no less. Let’s just say 12 year old me can ski circles around the 42 year old me. 

Yet, 42 year old me had an advantage. I already knew I could ski this black diamond.  And, this time, skiing the black diamond wasn’t to impress 6th grade hottie, Dave Scalpone.  It was to impress upon myself that life is still full of opportunities that I won’t regret pulling off.  

At the end of the night, after skiing the black diamond several times, racing from one ski run to the next and traversing the icy hill at eye watering speeds, I gushed to another parent, 

“I am 50% exhausted and 50% exhilarated!”

That’s why I really did need to do it. 

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Giving Up

I joined a gym. I’m losing inches. I’m getting stronger. I’m eating chocolate. I’m wearing shoes.

It’s been several weeks since I started working out at the gym again. The guard at the door verbally greets me with half open eye lids. He even confided, one day, it was tough to get up at 4 am to come to work. I smiled in solidarity. I’m practically a regular.

Which is why I felt it was the right time to remove my shoes.

I’m giving up my shoes but I don’t think I’m giving up chocolate.

I’m not sure how many people think it is crazy but there have been enough people over the years commenting on my preference for bare feet that it’s more than just in my head. Add the public shower barefoot fungus phobia to the intense germ-a-phobia that exists in the gym as evidenced by the plethora of anti-bacterial gels on every exercise machine. Let’s just say, I gave up my shoes but I didn’t trumpet the virtues of barefootedness. (besides on here, of course)

PSA – Foot fungus develops in warm moist areas that don’t dry out. No shoes = dry feet = poor environment for fungus growth

We’ll see if I continue to get away with it or if I get asked to put the shoes back on. If that happens, I’m giving up the gym.

I’m still won’t be giving up chocolate though.

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Cliché Update

Does anyone remember their New Year’s Resolutions? I have a vague recollection that my helicopter was under enemy fire.

Wait. Sorry, that’s not my story.

I’m more likely to forget.

Q. Did there come a time when you and Admiral Poindexter met with the other New Years Resolution officials or members – as well as members of Congress to try to relate to them what your resolutions were?

A. I don’t recall having anything to do with the Congress in that sense.

That’s why I blogged it. Official, written evidence of my cliched attempt to grow up in 2015. Did I stay the course?

1. Gain a better understanding of which foods negatively impact how I feel and irritate my digestive system
Yes, if I can count eating fast food 2-3 times a week as trial and error?

2. Build functional strength
I successfully lifted the rear end of the snowmobile. And, I can do two full push-ups in a row.

3. Reduce unnecessary spending
I’m in the middle of a kitchen remodel, planning a big summer vacation then I let my husband go buy a snowmobile..

4. Spend more time on creative projects
Kitchen remodel, string art heart, three unfinished scarves

5. Get on with life
I’m in the middle of a kitchen remodel. Who has time to get on with life??

I remembered 4 out of 5. I’ve actively worked on 2 out of 5.

My status on being cliché – 80%.

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Yoga yoga yoga yoga yoga

My feet were planted into the floor. I raised my arms over my head and lowered them with each purposed breath. I was supposed to be aware, connecting my breath with each body part. In reality, I felt as though my torso was hovering above a couple of stumps. This wasn’t my first time on yoga mat, but it’s been quite sometime since I was a practitioner of yoga or any regular physical activity at all. My mind was a little freaked out that it had other body parts to control.

I liken the experience to a time when I was in the 8th grade. My best friend was Aimee. I thought it’d be cool to write her a note that was a sheet of paper just covered in random writings of the word “Hi!” After 200 printings, my brain began to over analyze the correct spelling of Hi and convinced me for a few minutes that I was not writing it correctly. Obviously, I’ve been sedentary too long if my brain can’t get through a yoga class without over analyzing how my muscles are supposed to work.

I’m enjoying reconnecting with a functional body. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in shifting my weight forward onto my front leg while I extend my arms toward opposite walls in a warrior position. It is strength, It is power. And, I have appendages that can do this!

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Do I Really Need To?

It was a warm summer day in a place that I can’t remember the name and couldn’t tell you how to get there. I do remember being with my best friend, her boy friend, and couple of guys from high school. All I can see in my memory, is Kim and me standing next to each other with our necks craned upward. Todd, the boyfriend, is next to us in a wide footed stance wearing gloves and gripping a rope as though his life depended upon it. It didn’t. But, Topher’s, the subject of our attentions, life does depend upon it. Topher, connected to Todd through a harness and safety rope system, is attempting to stand/hang on to barely one inch wide ledges of a limestone rock cliff while every muscle in his body shakes from exhaustion.

Climbing, it looks easy but it really, really, isn’t. It IS amazing, however. I was pretty excited when the Boy Scouts decided to try out Upper Limits in Bloomington last weekend. With Topher’s shaking muscles imprinted in my memory, I spent last week doing a variety of exercises to strengthen my core, arms, shoulders, glutes, and calves. By last week, I mean about two days then prayed the rest of the week that I would be strong enough to climb more than six inches off the floor. (My resolutions were a cliché after all)

I faced a 65 feet tall former silo turned into a climbing facility for my first climb in 25 years. At first, you think the height is what is going to scare you. Honestly, the height itself didn’t bother me. I was as scared in the first 6 inches as I was at 6 feet and at 26 feet. I had to fight my fear that I wouldn’t be able to hold myself onto the wall. I’m not sure any amount of strength training would have eased that fear.

Fortunately, my mid-life crisis clock ticks loudly. I am also competitive. I felt a need to prove myself relevant to the young ones around me. I find the best way to minimize their attempts at insulting me with a “You’re how old?” is to show them that age doesn’t matter. Or, is it really me that needs the proof that my age doesn’t matter?

I climbed on the wall. At 6 inches, my fears asked me, “Do I need to climb higher?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” At 6 feet, my fears inquired again. I climbed on. My mid-life crisis motivation took me higher than where most of the climbers in our group had climbed. I may not have been the best but I was near the top, though not literally.

Once my mid-life crisis motivation was drained, I examined climbing holds, reviewing each one for good grips and angles. The next hand-hold was out of my reach, so, I utilized a foothold below that shifted me upward. In this position, my hands were below shoulder height. Trust me, it’s an unnatural position to be in when you’re clinging to the inside wall of an old silo. My arms contributed meagerly from that position. The lack of security kicked my fear of not being strong enough to cling or maneuver into overdrive. Having already proven myself to myself, I strained against the thought “Do I really need to climb higher?”

As unnatural as the position was, moving my hand out and around to the next hold was just as awkward. For 10 seconds, although it felt like a full minute, I was relying on only three points to hold, balance and cling. Once that hand was in a good position, I moved the other hand to a higher, more natural hold. For five seconds, I breathed sigh of relief over a successful maneuver. Then the fear and mental block reared back up. “Do I really need to climb higher?”

Admittedly, I asked to be lowered to the ground before I reached the top or fell. My request had more to do with my mental block rather than my lack of strength. I figured I’d gone far enough. But, looking back, did I?

2015/01/img_4815.jpg The Older Kid giving me a photo opp.

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