Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recap of 2011 Resolutions and Looking Ahead to 2012

2012 Resolutions
At the close of another year, I find myself exploring what I wrote for resolutions last year and what I need to resolve to do this year. Here is a recap of my 2011 resolutions and whether I have made much progress:

(10) Have a plan for well-being rather than just a plan for career success and a plan for running in the future. This will include yoga, sleep, my spiritual self, and other aspects of self-maintenance.
Update: did pretty well on just about all things other than yoga. That came and went and really should come back again. We’ll see.

(9) Improve my times for the 5K, half-marathon, and full-marathon.
Update: Yes, yes, and yes. Two wonderful marathons. One tough half marathon for competition. My times at each distance came down. Got a couple of age group awards and one overall second.

(8) Raise money for cancer through running the Maryland Half Marathon and the Baltimore Marathon again.
Update: Success. The book I completed for #7 also helped.

(7) Finish and continue writing projects.
Update: Continued blogging. Finished short novel #1. Didn’t sell that many but it did help with fundraising for #8.

(6) Better choices at work.
Update: some but more improvement still needed.

(5) Spend more time with friends in person rather than just online.
Update: if my running friends count, I did this quite a bit this year. And why shouldn’t they? One improvement would be a group of friends that are mutual with Sherry. That may come over time.

(4) Improved parenting.
Update: All I can say is, some days, I’m not so sure.

(3) Face issues at home and at work head on.
Update: Some things have remained on hold far too long.

(2) Share my cooking with more people in person rather than just in online pictures.
Update: Some improvement but there are still a lot of pictures and not so many live and in person sharing events.

(1) Spend even more time with Sherry--sooner or later the kids won't be there and we'll need to be there for each other forever. Whether it is movies, coffee, lunch, or dinner there are so many ways for us to spend time together.
Update: We managed two short vacations just us this year and have one longer one coming up for our 20th anniversary. So, not necessarily having time for just us as often as the previous year but there is an interesting set of tradeoffs here.

New Resolutions for 2012
(10) Continue to implement a plan for well-being that includes financial well-being. For no part of my well-being should I assume that things will always “just work out”. Not matter how long that my have been the case, it is not likely to last forever.

(9) Run a sub-20 minute 5K and qualify for the Boston marathon. As my running has improved, so has the specificity of my goals.

(8) Continue my involvement with Back on My Feet. This is a fundamental change in where I am placing my efforts to use running for something beyond running. I loved all that I did with and all that I got from involvement in fundraising for two cancer-related charities. But I have turned all my running attention to Back on My Feet.

(7) While this could go under the well-being heading of #10, I want to integrate pieces of “the arts” into what I do including more reading (because one way to write better is to read more), continue blogging, continue other writing, and perhaps even get back to writing a bit of music.

(6) Better balance of responsibilities at work. This isn’t even so much a “work-life” balance but just making sure that my work itself is balanced.

(5) Hang out with friends more in situations other than running. I love making friends through running but running is not always the best time for socializing. Multi-tasking by trying to combine fitness and friendship works but not entirely.

(4) Help my children become all that they can be. This, of course, involves parenting. But it also importantly involves looking at what skills and talents my kids have and trying to bring these to fruition. As my kids get older it is more about them and less about me and my parenting.

(3) Take the serenity prayer ever more seriously. We say this at every Back on My Feet run and most other events. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Some add, “God’s will, not ours, be done.” I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing what I can’t change. I have to improve a little at taking opportunities to change the things I can.

(2) Continue to share my cooking. Enough said.

(1) Enjoy the second half of my 20th year of marriage and the first half of year 21. It has been an incredible nearly 20 years. I hope we share 20 more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Mile in a Long Time

At this morning's Back on My Feet Team Christopher's Place workout I ran just one mile. That is unusual for me, but as I balance my physical and spiritual well-being it was exactly the right thing to run. I am still recovering from yesterday's double red cell blood donation. My arm is fine. I am plenty awake. I am just a bit run down.

But that run down feeling did not dampen my spirits as I went for my short run. I joined the four newcomers to Team Christopher's Place for their welcome mile. It had been a while since I had been out on a morning for a welcome run. The four new guys struggled, but they made it through. That alone was uplifting. Seeing the guys reach goal #1 of their participation in the running activities of Back on My Feet. I didn't say this straight out--but it really doesn't matter how strong the first mile is. What matters is that you come back for a second!

And it was also uplifting to see another teammate who had struggled through his welcome mile just three or four months ago be there to encourage them. He stayed with them the whole time. He encouraged them the whole way. His big voice. His warm heart. It was great.

And also we had a new non-resident member this morning. He had been a photographer at the recent Back on My Feet Baltimore Bash. Another statement of how the organization touches so many people's lives and is something that many people who like to run at all and who are exposed to it even once are interested in finding out more about and joining.

So, a great way to start of a chilly and windy late December day on which we will celebrate the seventh birthday of my youngest son! It was the best one mile run in a long, long time.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Loving and GIving

Even after blogging about spiritual (as well as physical) well-being for a long time, I am still amazed by the way that things are juxtaposed in life some days. Yesterday was the last time that I am likely ever to see Fr. Hank Hilton say mass. He used the midnight readings rather than the Christmas Eve readings (at last for the first reading). The first reading was from Isaiah--talking about how a child will be born who will be known as wonder counselor, etc. The priest had us listen for reference to the day of Midian, and then reminded us of how this tied back to Judges 6 & 7. He reminded us also of how Gideon loved his fellow Israelites and wondered how God could still care given all that had been done wrong. Fr. Hank described it as "God loving how we love each other". That is a powerful idea--that God loves the way we show love for each other--especially when it is a selfless love that requires nothing in return.

I feel like this year has been a year of learning (and being reminded) how to give such love--within my family and to others (through things like Back on My Feet).

What is amazing is that my six year old was very focused on gifts he received today with a couple exceptions. First, he took one of the five pieces of candy that he had bought to give as gifts and gave it to our next door neighbor. Second, when he decided on the last book to read before he went to bed, he chose The Quiltmaker's Gift. This is a story about the joy that is found in giving.

Giving and loving go hand in hand. Certainly love does not come when one only expects to receive. The lessons one can learn from a child's insights--whether implicit or explicit--never cease to amaze.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Black Eyed Susan

So, why does a blog about physical and spiritual well-being have the title, "Black Eyed Susan"? Well, the day after I wrote about focus, I found myself first doing exercise of a sort that I hadn't done in a long time (swimming) rather than my usual running (so not focused at all) and then much of the remainder of my day was spent with stuff related to church. Sunday school--the Christmas program came off really well. Mass. Even had burritos with tortillas that were made from neither only flour nor only corn but a recipe spelled out in Ezekiel 4:9 including millet, spelt, wheat and other grains. So, now, my faih is even tied to my food...

But the reference to Black Eyed Susans came from mass. Our church just got new statues of Mary and Joseph. Our priest told us that Mary usually holds a bouquet of lillies. The lillies apparently represent virginity. The black eyed susans remind us that we have to bring the ideals of Christianity--what Jesus taught us and what Mary exemplified into todays worth. Faith is not just something we read about. Faith is not just theory. My faith--and the focus int should bring--should be a present reality for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I have not written about physical and spiritual and health in a while. Does that mean that mine has been suffering? Not really. Just that I have been so busy—with work and with things to promote my physical health that I just haven’t had the time to stop and think and write.

However, two things got me thinking today and really wanting to write. First, a friend commented that she ran with joy. That was something that I had suggested long ago. Second, while I was out on a 15 mile run by myself this morning, I was thinking a lot about the past year of running and what might be ahead for me. Lessons learned. Great experiences. Great friends. New friends. And that made me want to write.

So, my run this morning was completed in 1:55:33.22. I haven’t tried to find a Bible verse that I could link to that combination but the double numbers for everything other than the hours (down to the hundredths of a second) is pretty cool. I needed to be done early, so I ran by myself starting at about 6:20.

The run went down York/Greenmount and over to Lake Montebello. It was as I was rounding Lake Montebello that I really started pondering some spiritual aspects again. By that time it was approaching seven. The horizon had started to light up. There were thick looking gray clouds directly above me and to the west. To the east there was a semi-circular area that opened to allow the light from the sun coming up on the eastern horizon. That cast just a little light on the lake which was slightly choppy and rather gray but just starting to catch some of the light. It was an awesome sight.

The semi-circular area that was just in one place made me think of possibilities. It was like an opening. But it was a focused opening. It was not the entire sky bright and blue. There was one spot. It made me think about how I had just spoken with a colleague this week about students wanting to learn everything about everything and commented that that is not so different from JHU faculty who want to do everything—in the professional and persona lives—and I’m one like that in too many ways.

So, I thought about focus. It is not the first time I have thought about focus recently. But one reason I run is to clear my mind and try to focus. So, it is interesting to have some insight on focusing.

Part of the focus came from attending the Back on My Feet holiday dinner the previous evening. I’ve crammed in so much in the past year—back to teaching Sunday school, back to playing music at mass, running for two charitable organizations, and running as a volunteer in a third. It is all good. Each individually would be great. But the combination is mind-boggling. And that is all just part of my non-work life!

What I need is focus. If I am going to run—fine. But go with one organization. If I am going to play music—fine. But no matter how much I like both my bluegrass playing colleagues and playing at church I should probably focus on just one. I love to teach Sunday school—I can stick with that. I love cooking/baking, but I should probably choose a “specialization” and stick with that. And, at work, I can always narrow what I am doing.

The key from focusing is that I will probably be able to do the more limited number of things better and make more of a difference by focusing my efforts rather than sampling everything. I’ve spent plenty of time sampling. Now its time to see what happens when I focus a bit more. Perhaps sometime around the solstice next year, I’ll look back and see what I have done and conclude that focus is a good (or bad) thing for me. Or maybe it will just be another year with different experiences that are just that—different—without necessarily being better or worse. I’m sure that focusing brings its own challenges…