Why I Exercise

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We all know the benefits of exercise, don’t we? Pretty much exercise is the cure to everything. Yup, everything. Health issues, mental issues (within reason I realize. I’m pretty sure exercise can’t cure schizophrenia so please don’t get mad at me for being insensitive.) Exercise helps with self-esteem, strength, flexibility, the list goes on and on. I really don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it. But that’s another story.

I was never athletic as a kid. In the fourth grade, Mr. Havilland, my gym teacher kept me after class one time because I couldn’t get the basketball in the net. He wasn’t going to let me leave the gym until I made a swish or whatever you call it. I suppose Mr. Havilland might’ve been trying to do something positive. Maybe he wanted me to succeed. Instead, while watching all of my classmates escorted out of the gym and back to class I only wanted to hit Mr. Havilland over the head with the ball or go running from the gym in tears. He only managed to send me the message – I sucked at basketball. And by the way, I never made the shot that day.

In middle school I played intramural softball. I sucked at that too. I could never hit the ball no matter how hard I tried. Because I always struck out my coach put me last in the batting order and shoved me out in right field to pick the dandelions. (I grew up in a time when adults didn’t really care or understood a child had feelings. Heck, my grammar school art teacher had a sticker on her door that read – Children should be seen and not heard.  I mean, really? From a teacher??) Anyway, back to softball. I stunk. But it wasn’t until a year ago I learned my eyes don’t work together all the time.

I have an eye condition called Strabismus Amblyopia. My eyes turned in as a baby and when I was six my eyes were operated on to fix the problem. Which for the most part, it did. I don’t have peripheral vision in my right eye when I look left. Go ahead, try it. Cover your left eye. How far can you see peripherally with your right eye to the left? I can’t do that. I can’t look through binoculars and use both eyes either. (Plus, other stuff I won’t bore you with.)

Now I know my right eye doesn’t always work with my left eye. It’s always been that way, but I can’t tell it’s happening. But what does it cause? When your eyes don’t work together it hinders your ability to hit a ball! So, all those years of striking out on the softball team wasn’t because I was a lousy athlete, it was because my eyes weren’t working properly. Who knew? But I believed athletics were for other kids.

The agreement had been made. I wasn’t an athlete. I hated gym class in high school because I was a slow runner, no one wanted to pick me for their team. And I had a gym teacher who felt it was her duty to point out every chance she had there was a line between those that had been gifted in sports and the rest of us. Like when she’d divide the class up into teams. One team would be all the jocks and they got to play together whatever sport we were doing. The rest of us were exiled to the other team to play amongst ourselves. As if we didn’t know what she was up to. Or she didn’t care if we knew. She wanted the athletes to have a more successful gym class. How fun could it be to have to play with someone who can’t get the ball over the net? Why should the athletes suffer, right? It’s not like gym class is a team building opportunity. Or that high school isn’t ripe with opportunities for judgement, exclusion, bullying. I mean, that crap only happens in the movies, right?

Even though I couldn’t play sports, I loved to exercise. I could be competitive with just myself. I did aerobics in college. When I started working I went to the gym and took the classes there. I also love to dance. (Not good at that either.) But because I love to dance that’s why step classes spoke to me. Exercising was the only time I could be completely free. My mind shut off for an hour. The exercise high took me to the moon. I loved it and wanted more.

Then I found yoga. Well, holy cow. Yoga was a life changer. I felt amazing. Even though there isn’t supposed to be any judgement in yoga, I knew I was good. I could get deep into many of the poses.

But an athlete? Well, no. Yoga wasn’t a “no pain no gain” sport. Is it even a sport? It’s not in the Olympics. But I’ll tell you what, you work your butt off in yoga. I’m confident I could rival some of those athletes during a yoga class. Still, I never thought of myself as an athlete because I can handle crow pose.

Ten years ago I worked out with a trainer. Again, I fell in love. I loved the weights in my hands. I loved the strength I built. Being strong is very important to me in more ways than one. I loved the changes happening to my body. One day the trainer said, “you must’ve been some athlete in school.” I spun my head around. “Are you talking to me?” He laughed. “Of course, you. What sports did you play?” Me: “I wasn’t an athlete. I suck at sports. I was a baton twirler.” Him: “You are an athlete. No one told you.”

And the agreement was broken.

Sure, I exercise for all the health benefits it provides. I exercise because it keeps me nice and my family appreciates it when I’m nice. But the real reason I exercise?

So, I can tell that nine year-old she doesn’t suck at basketball. And so I can tell Mr. Havilland to shove it. I exercise so that middle schooler who so desperately wanted to hit the ball just once knows it’s not her fault. She would’ve hit the ball if her eyes worked correctly.

I exercise for all the times in high school I wanted to hide during gym class instead of being brave enough to run toward the ball and kick it in the goal.

I exercise so I can be heard.

I’m strong and determined.

I am a contender.

I am an athlete.

 

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A Writer’s Life

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Hard to believe my desk looks like this on a regular basis. I blame it on the creative side of my brain knocking out the more sensible, organized side. The bitch.

Have you ever wondered how a writer spends her day? She must be sitting at her computer with hands flying over the keys. Her characters jump around in her head to be heard. The whole world outside of her office stays at bay until she pushes herself out of her imagination ready and energized to face the real world.

Now this is what an average day looks like for me. Let’s take today:

  • Delayed opening at school because it won’t stop snowing. (I hate the winter. You will never hear me complain about the dog days of summer, but these days filled with blinding white snow and temperatures that freeze your blood in its veins, I complain about all the time.) The morning is two hours behind even before the alarm goes off.
  • Forgot to pack up my donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters and they were arriving by 7 am so right after feeding the dog, I packed up four garbage bags of clothing, small appliances, and books.
  • After delivering two Noodges to their respective bus stops at the respective times, neither of them the same, slapped on some face paint and went next door to talk to the neighbors about feeding their cat. Needed the face paint not to scare the neighbors and hadn’t had time for any caffeine to shock the look of exhaustion out of my eyes because I forgot to mention the load of laundry I also did before the school buses arrived.
  • Have you noticed I haven’t written one word yet?
  • Received the instructions from the neighbor on how to care for their spoiled rotten cat while they are away, hopefully going some place that never sees snow, and what should have taken fifteen minutes took an hour.
  • Where I am interrupted by several calls from Noodge 1 and the Coffee King. Noodge is sick. Go and pick him up at school.
  • Again, no writing. No, characters jumping out of my head and onto the page. The outside world has parked itself front and center blocking my path like the pile of ice at the end of my driveway the town saw fit to dump there after we shoveled ourselves out.
  • By now, I have to eat lunch because I eat every three hours to keep my sugar level from crashing and you don’t want to be around me when that happens. Trust me.
  • Two more phone calls from the Coffee King.
  • And finally, after checking emails that have piled up from yesterday, I sit before my computer to craft another story, to find a way to meet more readers, to build this business of writing that calls to me like a mental illness.

A writer’s life isn’t glamorous unless of course, you’re Stephen King. I’m certain the outside world stays far away from him until he surfaces for fear of being eaten alive. There are days where the words just don’t come. My characters will do anything but talk to me and I find myself staring at a blank screen hoping that a remnant of an idea will find its way out.  There are constant interruptions especially because I have two Noodges, a big, furry, puppy who wants to play all day long and sheds enough hair on a daily basis to make a king size comforter, a husband and a home.

I choose to allow those interruptions to weave their way in sometimes. How much longer will I be needed by Noodge 1 when he isn’t feeling well? His adulthood is in sight, it might still be in the distance, but I can see it’s ugly little head coming right at me. If I can’t stop and enjoy a conversation with my neighbors, whose door will I knock on when I lock myself out of the house without my cell?

Oh, but I long for uninterrupted writing time too. It’s a constant juggle. One I take on gladly. Now, I have to go make a cup of tea to warm my hands by, put on another pair of socks because I lost the feeling in my toes hours ago, and then, maybe then, I’ll craft the beginnings of my newest book.

 

Don’t forget, coming this spring, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series
Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series