Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life is Good

I had a rough time yesterday evening and this morning. But though life isn't perfect, I have a lot to be thankful for:
  1. God's love. The peace that comes from knowing I'm loved by my creator, even though I'm a sinner.
  2. My sweet son. I feel unbelievably lucky to have been given the job of loving such a beautiful, intelligent, caring baby.
  3. My loving husband. Marriage can be hard sometimes, but I'm glad I have someone there to share my life with.
  4. My little home. It's my cave. I'm home a lot, and really digging it. The nerd that I am likes being in this protected space from the outside world.
  5. Good health. I guess sickness is just part of this imperfect world, but I'm glad I'm healthy enough to be a good mom and enjoy an active lifestyle.
  6. Good food. We have enough to spend on healthy, quality food, so I don't feel deprived, even though we don't go out as much as we used to.
  7. Enough. I'm not rich, and I don't have as much time as I'd like to do everything I want, but I do have enough to be content. I'm not always content, but I'm working on it, and a lot closer to it than I once was.

Lost Boys

I had lunch with someone I knew when I was young, and found out something about someone I knew as a child that shook me to my core.

I was ten years older than him, but was friends with his sister, and spent quite a bit of time with his family. He was a little boy when I last saw him. He had a big personality, and could sometimes get out of hand, but he loved me, so I loved him, too. I had fun playing with him, singing songs with him, and teaching him things. I once almost accidentally converted him to being a vegetarian, just by explaining to him why I was one. He asked his mom how old I would be when he was 20, because he wanted to marry me someday.

I met with his older sister, after not seeing her for many, many years. She told me that he had run into a lot of problems with drugs, along with the lethal combination of that and mental illness. He went to live with his grandmother, and one day, last year, got into a state and, as she put it, she died as a result.

I felt and expressed sympathy for her and her family. What a terrible thing to happen between two people you loved, and to have both of them lost from you. I was grateful to her for confiding in me, despite the fact that I was disturbed by the news.

As I often do, I refrained from asking detailed questions beyond what she disclosed about the incident. I found out later through an internet search that he had intended to kill her, stabbing her multiple times. The reason he gave for killing her was that she disparaged him and showed him disrespect.

I don't know a lot about what happened in between then and now. I know a little about his grandmother. I pray for her soul, and know no one deserves such a horrible end to her life. I could imagine a situation where she might belittle her grandson, who as a drug addict, wasn't living up to her expectations, but I guess I don't know for sure what happened. But it does seem to be the case that, at the very least, he thought she was disparaging him.

I went to church for the first time in a long while a few weeks ago. The priest talked about Gabrielle Giffords and Jared Lee Loughner. I couldn't help but think about the incident within the family I know. Both my friend's brother and Loughner were mentally ill. The priest warned against dismissing an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of Jared Lee Loughner by writing off the violence as a result of his mental illness. Most mentally ill people don't kill people. Blaming it on mental illness is problematic for more than one reason. For one, it creates unnecessary fear of mentally ill people, most of whom do not harm other people. It also stops us from trying to look further at what problems there are in our culture that might cause people to commit violence.

He asked us to think a bit about the type of people portrayed in our media as heroes. Heroes are often people who are aggressive, who solve problems by violence. When I think harder about it, even if harmless little romantic comedies, we applaud people who cleverly put their down "enemies", the scene ending with that person humiliated, never seeing the aftermath of their pain. What happens afterward? Did they learn their lesson, and become better people? Or did they go home and take it out on someone else?

Knowing someone who was once an innocent little boy, who took some wrong turns, and then committed the terrible act of taking someone’s life makes me think harder about what people are saying about rhetoric and violence. It's more than just political rhetoric that is the problem. More than the media, more than our society, more than just our culture. It is a sickness that permeates human kind that we all should see ourselves as part of, and ask that God spare us and our loved ones from.


Jesus asks us, by both his teaching and example to rethink what it means to be a savior. If only that little boy knew his worth in God as his child, perhaps this terrible thing wouldn't have happened. He would have known that no amount of disrespect from others could really hurt him. If only he knew that the meek and peacemakers are blessed, not the powerful and vengeful, maybe this terrible thing wouldn't have happened. Maybe...

Matthew 5:3-10 (The Beatitudes)

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I know so many sweet little boys who grew up to be lost men. I pray for guidance in raising my own little son, and that he will grow up and make the best of all the love, sweetness, intelligence, and potential he has in him now.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Swimming!

I swam a "Masters" workout this morning.  It was at a club that is sort of new to me, but I've swam with probably half a dozen other times before.  It is a Flip Flop County "Adult Fitness" program.  I think the swimmers aren't quite as fast and the workouts not quite as hard as the Masters programs I've been, but that is probably fine with where I'm at.  I may try to regularly attend their Saturday practices.  They are stroke/sprint workouts, which would provide some diversity to the kind of swimming I usually do, which is threshold freestyle.  I somehow swam only 3200 yards in 1.5 hours, which is hard to believe since it took me about an hour to swim that on Wednesday night, and I did 3590 yards in the hour swim on Saturday.  Lots of drills though, which I could probably use.  I jumped in a lap swimming lane and got an extra 1000 yards in, which made me a bit more satisfied.

I had fun.  My lanemates were polite.  The coach was friendly and encouraging.  It's late enough in the morning that Raybon can get a run in before we head to Flip Flop so I can swim.  With Raybon at the wheel, I got there in less than half an hour, as opposed to the hour it takes me to get to swim or bike at my old club.   Depending on how many passes I pay for at a time, I could pay as much as $7.00 or as little as $4.90 per swim, which is a good bargain. 

I feel a bit of deja vu.  Weighing my options.  Lingering feelings of loyalty.  Looking forward to trying something new, but a tiny bit sad about what I gave up.  Kinda just wanting to swim, and not wanting to devote any loyalty to a new club or coach.  All kinda like I blogged about in "Soooo tired"  4 years ago.  Those feelings are all there, but it's not quite as dramatic.  I'm a happier person overall than I was then, and getting less scared of change. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fitness February!

My  Masters Swimming club has a challenge every February where people donate a can of food for every 2000 yards they swim.  Prizes are given out for those who swim 50,000 or 100,000 yards.  I think they even have a 100 mile prize, because people are just that crazy.

The thing is, I'm not sure if I'm part of the club anymore.   I feel like I'm in membership limbo.  That's kinda sad, but there is a bright side to this.  I won't get whatever fantastic prize they'll give out for swimming 50K yards, but the $71 I'll save on my weekend tri club membership will buy me a very nice prize of my choosing.

I had a plan for swimming 50,000 yards, but it isn't working out.  There is a warm pool in Flip Flop that has all day  open swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the winter.  I figure if I swam 3000 yards or so the two nights my local pool is open, that'd get me about halfway there (24K yards.)   Then I figured I'd swim 1000 yards on Tuesdays and Thursdays  while carrying Rory while kicking on my back.  We went to the pool today, and it was really fun.  My little boy loved the water, and even jumped off the side of the pool into the water over and over again.  Unfortunately, he is getting so bold and excited about the pool, I only got to swim about 200 yards today.  I mean, fortunately.  It's awesome that he had so much fun.  But it's unfortunate for my 50K swimming goal.

The other part of the plan was to swim 4500 yards on Saturdays.  But to make up for not getting that extra 2000 yards in, I might have to end up swimming more like 6000 yards.  I could do it.  But do I want to?  Maybe I'll figure out a way to make it fun.  Or maybe I'll just start my own 42000 yard club, and buy myself some swag anyways.  It's still a lot more yards than I've swam since, prolly February 2008, so I deserve it anyways.

And, oh yeah, if my membership remains in limbo or just ends, I should figure out a nice place to donate cans or money for every 2000 yards I swim.