Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pulling out a post that's been in my drafts for awhile. Some stress-reducing steps from the Habitrol website...

Top 10 Cool-Down Strategies, by Katherine Raymond 

1. "Belly breathing:" One of the simplest ways to calm the body down is by breathing into your stomach. "Put one hand on your belly and softly breathe into your hand, so it rises with the inhale and falls with the exhale," instructs Jon Seskevich, a stress management expert at Duke University Medical Center. "Every time the belly starts to rise, it sends the message to the body: 'It's safe, I can start to relax.'"
2. Humor: "Joy is this wonderful thing that relaxes your whole system," explains yoga instructor Cathy Calderon. "So it's a very practical thing to laugh and feel enjoyment." Bookmark a comedy Web site or keep a funny photo of your kid in your wallet for the next time you need to let off steam.
3. Exercise: "Exercise is a fantastic way to de-stress," says Kathy HoganBruen, Senior Director of Prevention at the National Mental Health Association. Even stretching out or taking a walk around the block will do wonders to clear your head.
4. Tune in to your body: Dr. HoganBruen also recommends doing an internal scan of where you feel tight or rigid. You may not even realize how much tension you're storing up. "Look at your body language and physically make yourself relax with a looser posture," she suggests. "Close your eyes and cool yourself down."
5. Muscle relaxation: You can also calm the body by systematically "relaxing select muscle groups," says Christian VanDenBerg, Director of the Executive Health Program at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Begin at the top of your body and progress downwards. Tense each muscle, see how it feels, then relax it. Concentrate on the difference between the feelings."
6. Redirect your attention: Look up from a frustrating project to keep from burning out. "If you can break the hold of the computer and look out the window, stress starts to loosen," observes Dr. Fred Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. "If you're stuck at something, step away and picture yourself being successful at what you're stuck at."
7. Visualize: "If you're going into a stressful situation, give yourself a calming mental cue, like 'If I start feeling my heart rate go up, I will think of the color blue,'" says Carolyn Lopez of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
8. Repeat a mantra: "Think a short positive thought that has meaning to you, like 'easy does it,'" advises Jon Seskevich. "And silently repeat that to yourself over and over. So you might breathe in 'easy' and breathe out 'does it.' As soon as your mind wanders, let go of the thought and come back to the relaxation word. With this exercise, when worries come up, you learn to let them go and come back to your focus."
9. Vent: If your last nerve is frayed and you're about to snap, "find someone you trust whom you can talk to about how you feel," Seskevich counsels. Open up to a friend who can listen without judging or trying to fix things.
10. Practice: Trying any of these strategies for the first time during a crisis probably won't work. "Make the effort to practice — don't wait until you're under stress," urges Dr. Lopez. Spend five minutes daily on the way to work or before bed to ingrain the habit. Dr. HoganBruen adds, "Try out different things and work with what works for you." Mastering stress management takes time — but when you find the strategy that clicks, your nerves will thank you.

Katherine Raymond is a freelance writer, editor and Web producer based in NYC. She has written and edited features on health, wellness, fitness and food for numerous print and on-line publications.

Monday, September 29, 2014


So I did end up running the 10k Saturday at the 2014 Fort4Fitness extravaganza. It really wasn't that bad. I stuck to my pre-race strategy pretty well, and we all lived to tell about it (and have the traditional post-race $1 beer).

This was my 3rd year in a row of running the F4F. The first 2 years I ran the half-marathon. This year I wasn't planning to run at all - what with all the issues of this past year (plantar fasciitis, stopped running, started smoking, etc.) - but I ended up registering at the last moment. As I've stated here previously, I did run 3 miles on the treadmill last Monday, and I haven't smoked for 2 whole weeks, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did. It is such a fun time. I'm also glad I just did the 10k, because even though I still had plenty of energy left at the end, I don't think my legs would have lasted another 10k on top of it.

This was the first year that Jane, Carrie and I all ran together. That made it even more fun, and I probably wouldn't have made it by myself. We all stuck together and chatted pretty much the whole way. We averaged right around 12-minute miles and everyone was still in good shape at the end. I even mowed the lawn later that afternoon.

As for the race, it started at 7:30am. That seemed a bit early, but fortunately it was pretty warm even then. This was the warmest it's been at the start since I've been running it. It was almost 60f, so no sweatshirt or sweats were needed. We arrived about 7, parked in the lot right at the start line, made a potty break in a Parkview Field restroom, and had plenty of time to spare. There seem to be a TON of walkers in the 10k, and sooooo many of them seem to start in front of where they ought to. We started in corral G and had to maneuver around way too many 'groups' of walkers. They should make all the walkers start in the furthest corral. Anyway, we kept our pace early and didn't get too winded. Jane and Carrie even stopped to pee around the first mile marker (in a porta-potty, not on the course). It's always great seeing all the people standing out along the road cheering us on and just plain ol' having a good time. My knee started to hurt briefly around the 3-mile mark, but it didn't last. I wore a knee brace just in case.  And we actually finished in right about 75 minutes (just what I thought).

Afterward we got our bottle of water, pretzels, chocolate milk, and banana, then used our $1 coupon to get a beer. I chose the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (as always). We hung around for a little while, and chatted with a few people we knew, then we headed for home. We dropped Carrie off at our house - since they were having the garage sale there - and Jane and I went to Spyros and got a big breakfast. Then we went back to our house with all the Feipels and did a garage sale the rest of the day.

Oh, I almost forgot, Drew brought the kids up to Lutheran Park, along the way, and I don't know if they were more excited to see us running or we were more excited to see them along the way, but we stopped briefly and then went on.

I actually didn't feel bad at all Saturday. We did go to bed early though. We went to bed at 8:30 pm, and slept until almost 8:30 the next day. I got up about 3:30 am and took an ibuprofen. Then when I did get up, I took another. My legs were sore, my heel was sore, my feet were sore, and for some reason my arms were sore. It was nothing serious, but it definitely makes a difference trying to run with no training.

Next year we are all hoping to do the half again. And I would like to try to do a full marathon still at some point. The Columbia City marathon is in October. Definitely not doing it this year, but hopefully next.

Fun times.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mowing, bug-spraying, garage sale

I almost forgot that I sprayed the backyard for bugs the other day. I think it may have been last Wednesday, before I went to work. I used one of those bottles you connect to a garden hose. I think I used the Spectricide Triazicide or something. It's supposed to kill a hundred million different kinds of bugs, or so.

Yesterday I mowed the lawn again. Still using the 2nd from highest notch on the mower deck. The grass is still very thick and green.

I mowed during the garage sale. Carrie had a garage sale at our house Friday and Saturday because it was our association garage sale weekend. That's about the only time anyone drives back into our neighborhood. She had a lot of baby clothes and stuff, and still has quite a few clothes left over. I threw in some of our stuff at random - an old sled, a couple things I dug out of the garbage at work, a huge desk we had downstairs (that we've always hated), etc. Anyway, I think she made $180 or so, so it wasn't a total waste. It didn't help that her, Jane and I all ran in the Fort 4 Fitness 10k yesterday morning, so we didn't get a very early start with the garage sale. At any rate, we all got rid of some junk, made some money, and the weather was beautiful for it.

I will make a separate post about the 10k. We all survived and lived to tell about it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I got a new phone...

Egads. I broke down and got a stinkin' iphone yesterday. I think half the reason they call these things "smart" phones is because they make people like me feel so stupid. I was proud of myself that I actually figured out how to MAKE a phone call (while still in the store parking lot), but I can't say that I know how to RECEIVE a call yet. So don't call me. I can do text.

Anyway, they didn't sucker me into getting an iphone 6, but they did sway me towards the 5S. Actually, several people did. Fortunately it still has iOS7 instead of 8. That's the last thing I need is a too-smart phone that doesn't work.

I was leaning heavily towards a Samsung Galaxy - just because I didn't want the stigma of owning an iPhone - but I don't like the large phones. I need something that fits into my pocket. I also thought of just getting a flip phone again, but.... you know.... these smart phones are kinda nice. Once you figure out how to use them.

So I will be spending much of today trying to figure things out and set things up. I envision myself sending out mass text messages and filling Facebook up with location notifications and whatnot. I suppose I should steer clear of strip clubs and crack houses for a few days.

I do need to make a trip back to the Verizon store to get my free tablet though. With the purchase of my phone I get a FREE tablet (don't even know what kind). I didn't take it yesterday because I wasn't going to be persuaded into any of those "extras" they try to stack on. I was chided for not taking the tablet when I got home. After I got home I went to Walmart and got an $8 case and $3 screen cover. I might have went without the case, but I suppose they make them slippery for a reason (so you have to buy a case). Whatever.

That's about it. Actually, that's enough for me for one day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Two into one

I don't like to write about work too much. God knows it caused me enough problems in my last job. However, yesterday I had a customer come in..... and he was acting a little strange. I greeted him as he walked in the door, and he didn't really respond but simply asked for a piece of paper. So I gave him one, he wrote something down, and he handed it back to me. It was an email address. I knew what it meant as soon as I read it.

His old email address had been twodogday@______.com. The new one that he wrote down - that he wanted me to update in his customer profile - was onedogday. He had lost a dog. He was barely able to tell me the story of having to put his long-time friend down. This guy was grieving, and it made me sad.

I was thinking about that when I woke up this morning. I lay in bed a long time thinking about it, and it helped me make some sense of my life. I think I have often misdiagnosed myself as being a 'depressed' person - someone who struggles with depression. Certainly I have had bouts of it over the years. I can often 'feel' it in my head when I get that way. But depression - for me - is a more temporary condition that is a symptom of something else. For instance, when I was seeing a counselor last year, he kept trying to convince me that my depression was just one symptom of my being burned out. It wasn't 'how I was,' it came about as a result of something else. Now it makes sense. For too long I have been using two entirely different words to describe one condition.

I am not prone to depression.... but I am prone to sadness. Some people refer to it as melancholy. Certainly I am not ALWAYS sad, but I get sad when I see someone else who is sad. I get sad when I hear someone talk about their grief - whether it is losing a loved one, a misfortune that has beset them, mistreatment, etc. - but I also get sad thinking about all the hatred and violence and injustice in the world; when I see people stuck in self-destructive patterns; when I think about the criminal way politics is often carried out; when I witness manipulation and degradation of fellow human beings. Those things weigh heavy on my heart. It doesn't cause me to be 'depressed'..... it causes me to grieve! They are not two words describing the same thing.

So, I still feel bad for the poor guy who came in to change his email address. Gosh, I grieved for a long time when I had to put our dog down. It doesn't mean I am depressed about it. It means I care. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with me. It means that is how I manifest compassion for the souls around me; for the world I live in.

As I lay in bed this morning it started to rile me up a bit. There have been a number of people who have made me feel 'wrong' because they wanted me to "get over my depression." You know what? F*ck those people. I like who I am. I like that my heart hurts for other people in their grief. I like that I give a damn about not only individuals, but entire groups of people who are mistreated, misguided, or maybe even simply mistaken sometimes. I think this is how God made me, and just maybe that's how God wants me to be. It's my way of identifying with those around me... The broken, hurting, struggling people I do life with. Not that other people don't care either, but this is how I do it.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about as I lay in bed this morning. The two are not the same thing. And maybe I'm okay after all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I met a reader

Believe it or not (and for some odd reason), there are actually people from all over the world who occasion by this blog. I know, it astounds me too. No, not a lot; but it's more than just you. Some of them even come back! I always appreciate hearing from people - whether they're old friends, or someone I've never met. But, anyway... the other day I actually met someone who is a fairly new reader!

I was at work Monday and a gentleman walked in and asked if I was Dan. I said "yes" - it's not all that uncommon for people to come in and ask for me - but then he said, "I read your blog." It kinda caught me off guard. For a split second I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. My mind was racing back through thousands of posts, stuff I had written recently, wondering who I had offended now....... But he smiled and I decided maybe it was okay.

I don't want to say too much about him - for his protection - but it really made my day that he stopped to see me. He is a pastor too, and in a similar situation, and said he just felt like it was what he was supposed to do. So who knows what may come of it. Did I say it made my day?

Well, it gets better. Interestingly enough, and the reason he happened across the blog, he said he actually had an interview at my old church. It was before he knew anything about me or the blog. He shared how, during the interview, he got a really strange vibe from one particular person (I didn't even have to guess who), and that's when he started to look into the church a little more. Then he ran across my blog (I'm sure they hate that). So we chatted briefly and shared a few stories. I tried to be as cordial and polite as I could about the former situation. Actually, I don't think I said much at all. But I'd say it was a wise decision to not look into the job any further. Whew, the last thing I would want to be is the 5th pastor in a row to leave ministry after being at that church. Being the 4th is bad enough.

I really do feel bad saying that. I mean, I DO think they are good people. We had some really good times there, and a lot of good things happened. But, man, there's a spirit at work there or something that simply does not rest. It is sad. Really sad... [starting to wander off...] Okay, sorry for the diversion... What do I know... I'll just leave it at that. Aaaaanyway.....

So, if you, my new friend, are still reading... thank you so much for taking the step of faith and looking me up. It was great to meet you. Hopefully we will happen across each other again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My running strategy (as an out-of-shape runner)

Even though I have not been running and will go into this 10k Saturday with virtually no training, that doesn't mean I won't have a very strict, yet simple, strategy. In fact, I probably need one even more (without the training). So, here is my running strategy for Saturday: START SLOW, STAY SMOOTH, FINISH FUN.

I actually did come home from work last night and ran 3.1 miles on the treadmill (I know I said I wasn't going to train at all). It was barely more than a walk, but the important thing was that I kept it going. I am glad I did, because it not only convinced me that I can, in fact, finish this 10k on Saturday, but it reminded me that I do love and miss running. I just need to keep some things in mind in order for it to be an enjoyable experience. These are some things that popped back into my head while on the treadmill last night.

START SLOW: This is the key to everything. The biggest mistake I can make is to want to go out too fast. It is so tempting - especially with all the other runners around. In order for me to enjoy this event though, I need to go slow. One way to keep myself from going too fast is to breathe through my nose for as long as possible - hopefully for the entire 6.2 miles. I did the 5k last night without ever opening my mouth. I just need to run my race, and take it easy. Going slow helps me be able to run through the left knee pain (which will eventually go away), and not let my lungs start to burn. This will make all the difference in the world.

STAY SMOOTH: Once I start slow, I need to remember to stay that way. Keep my back arched, take small steps, pick my knees up, stay on the front part of my feet for as long as possible. The key for me to stay smooth actually revolves around the trunk of my body. If I can focus on my head and the axis of my body, keeping them as straight and steady as possible, then my arms and legs can move about more freely. I don't want to slouch or sway or bob up and down. Sometimes I try to visualize the trunk of my body is floating along like a sci-fi robot, and my arms and legs are just attachments to my body. I must keep them loose and free and not tighten them up, or it starts to become too much work. This is what allows me to hit a groove and really start to move (without trying) several miles into any run. I used to be at my best around miles 4-6 when I was running more. And finally...

FINISH FUN: Running really can be fun... for anyone. I am not afraid or embarrassed to walk if I have to Saturday, but I would much rather just keep a slow steady pace throughout and it will take less out of me physically. I have read where the human body is meant for long distances (not speed). The same person said that to find the best running form - watch how a 5-year-old runs. This actually has made running much more enjoyable for me. Slow, smooth, loose; short steps, back straight, lift the knees; and have fun. I also try to constantly remind myself to keep my face muscles relaxed. It's amazing how that affects the rest of the body. Smiling doesn't hurt, though. :) (yes, I said that).

So, that's my strategy. We'll see. I really have nothing to lose, and I'm not after a fast time or anything. I think I can finish in somewhere around 75-80 minutes. It should be nice and cool still, and I'm undecided about how many or few clothes I should wear. I can wait until Saturday to see. But I'm starting to look forward to running again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What am i doing? (10k registration)

I must be nuts. After determining that I just wasn't going to be able to participate in this year's Fort4Fitness... I signed up to run the 10k yesterday. Sure, it's only 6.2 miles. I used to do that almost every day, and in under an hour. But I have done NOTHING to prepare, and it's this coming Saturday! I am out of shape, lazy, and 20 lbs overweight. Plus the stupid thing starts at 7:30 am!!! I'm not even out of my bathrobe by then.

Oh well. I'm sure I can at least walk it. And I'll get a sweet new shirt out of the deal. No partying this Friday though. I don't think there's probably even any point in trying to prepare for it at this point. Ugh.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Haircut, and week 1 without smoking

I gave myself a haircut yesterday. I used the #2 on everything, then trimmed my sideburns and eyebrows with the #1. Nothing much else to say, but it seemed shorter than it used to. It was nice when I had to run a couple blocks in the pouring rain to get the car last night at the Coney Island party. Just sort of swooshed the water off my head, and presto-chango, my hair was dry.

This also marks one week that I haven't been smoking. I had my last official cigarette last Saturday night. I am still wearing the patch, and I have yet to chew any nicorette gum. I really don't want a cigarette, but I want something, that's for sure. Of course, most of the time, I would smoke a cigarette if I had one. No congratulations are in order, because this will always be an issue for me. Certainly the pull will grow less over time, but I am proof positive - after starting up 25 years after quitting - that I am never out of the woods. So it's just something I have to do, and be diligent about. Forever.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ric flair sighting

I was never a big WWE fan or anything, but my son used to be. He is now working/studying as a chaplain one day per week at a hospital in the Atlanta area. The other night he was telling us that one day he was in the cafeteria with some other chaplain students and hospital workers, and this guy shuffles in with his hospital gown and slippers on, dragging along his IV stand. Isaac said his very first thought was, "That's Ric Flair," but he didn't know for sure. One of his fellow students was a big wrestling fan too, and he was sure! So when they left the cafeteria the other student let out a big holler for him (apparently one of Ric's trademarks). They asked their teacher about it later, and he confirmed that it was, indeed, the Nature Boy himself.

I checked online, and sure enough he had been hospitalized for something. I'm not sure what it was, and I hope he's okay, but I thought it was nice that Isaac got to see him up close and personal.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not a hobby, but an interest

I remember once when I was planning to take what I thought was a sabbatical, because I was burned out, a well-meaning friend at the time suggested that I just needed a hobby. Something to occupy my mind. He said his was cooking. I didn't say anything, but I had all kinds of hobbies at that time... I was simply suffering from burn out. I was running 5 or 6 miles a day, exercising, writing, playing guitar, reading quite a lot, among other things. Now I am no longer burned out, and I'm not doing any of those things - and hardly anything else. I pretty much just exist.

Now I am bored. I don't know what to do with myself before work. I am not overly stimulated by my work. And when I get home... I just don't know what to do. That's the biggest reason I was smoking, and drinking. I was bored.

It's especially bad when I get home from work. I come in the house, stand there, and... nothing interests me. There are tons of things I could do... I could play music, I could read, I could write (more seriously than this), I could make something, I could pray, I could study, I could go for a motorcycle ride, I could take a class, I could go visit someone, I could... I could do all kinds of things...... But I'm just not interested in doing anything. I WANT to do something, but I also don't. So I'm bored.

It occurred to me then that, I don't need a hobby..... I need an INTEREST in something. That's my problem now, there is simply nothing that interests me. And I want there to be. I want to do something, but more than that, I want to be INTERESTED in something.

I suppose it may be part of the healing process I am on. After being told by a group of people who's opinions I highly valued that I was never really any good at what I spent the bulk of my life doing, something I loved to do, something I thought I was MADE to do... it probably takes some time to get over that. If that's what it is... I don't like this part of the process.

So, that's where I am right now: bored with life; disinterested; sorta lost.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

So long, cyst(a)

It's hard to do something interesting with the word "cyst." But the extra knuckle on my left hand - which I just mentioned in a post yesterday - actually dissipated last night! I stopped to have a beer with a buddy, and I was just telling him about going to the doctor yesterday and was going to show him the lump on my hand... and it was gone! I was like, "What the heck! I swear it was just there! It's been there almost three months!"

Well, it finally dawned on me that we were drinking out of these big mugs; and I was putting my hand through the handle - instead of grabbing it by the handle - so the cyst was pushing against it. Apparently there was enough pressure that it just popped the sucker. I didn't even notice.

So now it looks a little swollen in that area, but there is no more cyst. I guess that is okay. Very ironic though.

SMOKING UPDATE: Day 4 ended up going splendidly. I was alone at work most of the day, and it was really slow, so I spent a huge chunk of time reading and writing blog posts for later use. It was nice, and I was calm and relaxed all afternoon and evening.