June 2016


There is a reason to listen to music while you walk or run. I don’t. I mostly talk to myself or look around at the scenery. Sometimes I zone out and just feel the movement of one foot in front of the other. Most of the time, my mind wanders.

It might be best if I could just shut my mind off, but I can’t. And today my mind was on worms.

I live in the South and it has been a rainy spring. It is also hot. The temperatures have been in the high nineties during the day and dip down to high seventies at night. I try to walk before sunrise or during sunrise or as early as possible without setting an alarm.

My routine has been to get up and get dressed, then make a pot of coffee, hit the start button and leave the house. I walk around the block and by the time I get back to the house, the coffee is brewed. I then pour a cup, add a straw for sipping without spilling, and leave the house again and go off in the other direction, creating a figure eight path.

I thought I was walking about 1.5 miles but I actually mapped it today and it was 1.99 miles (without all the trips in and out of the house) so I’m counting it as two miles.

And now, worms. You see, there is lots of worm traffic at night. I have no idea where the worms think they are going, but they don’t have reliable GPS or anything. For some reason, before sunrise makes the sidewalk look like a good place for a worm. But the stored heat quickly wears the little buggers out. And there is no water there. And it is much farther than a worm might imagine.

And I’m walking on the same sidewalk, littered with the corpses of all the other worms that didn’t make it over the last few days. And then there are the struggling worms. The ones that are trying to get back to the lush coolness and the blissful dampness of the lawns.

Sometimes they are heading in the right direction and may get there before it is too late. Sometimes they are never going to find relief because they changed course and are now going in the same direction as the endless sidewalk (in worm units).

I don’t step on them. I don’t step on the dead ones and I surely don’t step on the live ones. But they are pretty much doomed. Especially after the sun rises and the drying, hot rays peek over the Carolina pines. Worms are not built for sun. They are built for shade and dirt and not cement.

And I could do something, but I don’t. I could squat down and count it as part of a workout. I could scoop up and struggling worm and put it in the grass on the other side of the cement ocean. I could. But I don’t. I don’t squish them, which might be a kindness and put them out of their misery. I don’t help them reach safety. I walk around them and ponder my godness in relation to worms. I have the gift of life or death in my hands.

It is my fault that their ancestral lands are paved over and they are confronted with never-ending swaths of cement ribbons slicing through their shaded, damp grassland. And I simply walk on and don’t help them.

The worms don’t pile up forever even though I see new worms making unsuccessful treks each and every day. I’m assuming that birds or some other critters find the worms and are grateful for the easy pickings, like arriving at a buffet table.

So if I help the worms, do I hurt the birds? Do the birds really need the dried up worms? Is this really any of my business in the first place?

And that is why you should listen to music when you walk.

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I have been walking for over six decades now. I don’t like to brag or anything, but I’m pretty good at it. Oh, I occasionally stumble or trip on a wayward piece of air but I don’t fall over like a Weeble or anything. I just look around hoping I wasn’t seen and carry on.

I have been doing CrossFit for almost four years now. I love it. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I actually know what I the abbreviations mean. HSPU is not for Holy Shit, Puke Up. I know when I see RFT that it isn’t Really? Fuck This.

Walking is doing nothing for me. I should get up and move around more, but it hasn’t done a thing to increase my endurance or decrease my weight. I’m stable. Walking around doesn’t make me feel better. It is, in fact, making me stress out.

A FitBit doesn’t care that I CrossFit. I can add it in, but it doesn’t care at all that I’ve just worked myself into a tizzy and a heart rate over 170 as I moved iron all over. I get no credit for doing the thing that is actually making me healthier and stronger and more agile and even increasing my endurance. That’s just unimportant to FitBit. It isn’t steps. AND it can’t keep up with my heart rate while I work out.

So then I come home to the oppressive heat and soppy humidity. And I need steps. Lots of steps. I told the dumb thing that I wanted to cut my steps back because I do CrossFit and it tells me I hit my goal at 7000 steps. And then my OCD kicks in and I realize that some unknown person who may or may not really know what the hell he/she is talking about has said I’m supposed to get 10,000 steps a day.

And then my competitive personality notices that my sisters both clock in a LOT more steps than I do. Neither of them do CrossFit. But that doesn’t count on FitBit.

Therefore, my sister actually benefit from FitBit. They are getting something for all the extra effort they put in to walking. I just find it mind-numbingly boring. I can deal with that part. But the oppressive heat and soppy humidity along with the sunburns are getting old.

So I started walking indoors which means I drive to a store and walk around there. Now, I can’t walk as fast in a store because – well, shoppers are everywhere and in my way. So I mosey through the stores making it even less effective but much cooler. I have shopped a lot lately. I’ve bought crap that I probably didn’t need, but I saw while I was trying to get my steps in.

Yesterday, we went to Citadel Mall which is huge. It was nearly empty. There was only one thing I was tempted to buy and there was no employee to be found so I could buy it. So I thought I was going to get away without buying anything. But we also stopped at Honeybaked Ham and bought a half a ham, which was way worth it and stuff.

All I’m doing is being cranky about walking and stressing about walking and being miserable about walking. And walking isn’t doing anything for me – well, except for stressing me out and making me miserable and crankier than usual.

So, I’m breaking up with my FitBit. I may take it to Arizona with me, but I might not. I haven’t decided. I’m waiting for cooler weather this fall and then I will walk again. My current plan is to not count any steps whatsoever.

When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is make coffee. I began walking around the block while the coffee brews because it is usually before sunrise and not very hot at this time. I also don’t have to worry about sunburn. And then I come home and get my brewed coffee and go out and walk in the other direction for about the same distance.

So I’m walking over 1.5 miles and I get it done before the sun is really up and baking the dew into steam to add to the already saturated air. And I can do this before going to CrossFit or just any day – unless it is raining. Dick didn’t like that I was out walking in a Tropical Storm even though it wasn’t much of a storm. But if I walk, that’s good. And if I don’t, well, that’s okay too.

When fall comes, I will re-evaluate and decide if having a FitBit it is really making me more fit. Until then, I will do CrossFit and be awesome and hopefully, I can tone down the cranky pants part of my life.

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Dealing with setbacks is pretty much part of life. We inflict a list of shoulds on our existence and the universe then laughs and laughs and deals us a different hand of cards to play. So how do we get back to the reality we’ve always wanted?

The first part of dealing with a setback is figuring out what you had to do with it. There are several possibilities. Were you expecting too much? Were you expecting it to just happen for free? For example, I really thought that after all this time working my ass off with CrossFit crap that I would be a better CrossFitter but what the hell is a better CrossFitter? Were my expectations out of sync with reality? In fact, I’m a damn good CrossFitter. I show up, I follow coaching prompts, I work hard. That’s pretty much the whole deal. Do I move as much iron as I would hope? No. Can I run a mile? No. Can I string together a whole mess of double unders? No.

Were my hopes pretty damn unrealistic? Yes. Because you see, I move iron, I walk fast, and I can do one damn double under at a time.

So was this a setback or just unrealistic expectations? If I label this differently and if I accept my own responsibility for my dissatisfaction, I can get past this setback, because it wasn’t one. It was just defeating self-talk.

So what about a real setback? I was an OR nurse for over a decade. I loved the job and I loved the work I did. But … isn’t there always a but? But, laparoscopy cases were increasing and Xenon light sources were giving me migraines. The job was making me physically ill. The job I loved was something that was causing me pain.

What was my responsibility in this case? None. I was a victim of circumstances. What could I do about this? I tried for years to just take a variety of medications to control the migraines and other than suicidal ideation, gaining a ton or weight, losing a ton of weight, being highly agitated and unable to sit still, and/or turning into a total slug they worked fine. Well, they mostly kept the migraines away for a while and then I would switch to the next one.

My job was going to have to change and that was a setback. This was the job I loved. I got a different one and it led me on a totally different path and a second degree, this time in computer networking. And my life went off in a totally different direction and I found I could love other things and do them well.

So how do you get past a setback? The only thing I know that works is realistically looking at the issue and then figuring out if you can conquer it or if you need to redefine who you are. I will never stop being a nurse, although I am now an unregistered one. All that stuff is still inside my head and I call upon it when needed. It’s just that I now have other layers of me on top of it.

After you have defined the problem accurately, it is time to figure out solutions. My solution to migraines was to remove myself from the triggers causing them. For the record, it worked. It wasn’t the stress of the job because no matter how much stress I’ve had since, I don’t get a migraine. So removing myself worked.

But that just led to a new series of questions. If I wasn’t going to be a nurse, what was I going to be? When I found something I could like, I did that. When it didn’t work, I quit doing it and moved on to something related but with enough difference to see if I could like that. Then I tweaked my situation and found something that would work. At least for a while.

And I think that last phrase is the key. To get over a setback, you have to define it correctly and then work your way through or around it. At least for a while. What you tried may not work at all or it may not work forever. Either way, you have moved past the initial setback and if your problem isn’t completely solved, you at least now have a new problem to work on.

By the way, your problem will never be completely solved. What worked for you when you were twenty doesn’t necessarily work when you are forty. When you figure it out by forty, it won’t work the same twenty years later, not only because you change, but because the world changes, too.

When I was twenty, the technological world I currently live in wasn’t even thought of. There was no social media, we were using punch cards and mostly doing math stuff.

The way to look at a setback which might help is that here a piece to a puzzle. Your job is to figure out where it goes to make the entire puzzle the prettiest picture it can be.

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