Archive | March 2020

Daily Bread #104

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Sometimes there is a path you think you can follow.  The rise looks gentle enough, doable, as they say.  But sometimes that path, after it winds through some trees, after you get a glimpse of simply breathtaking views, the trail becomes a trial.  It goes almost straight up and there are loose rocks that slip under your boots.  At some point you realize that maybe you can reach the summit, but no way could you get down again without falling and sliding on your butt. It is important to find a path that leads more gently to the place you want to go.

The above picture is of a real trail in my neighborhood that looked inviting, but quickly became terrifying and so we turned around.

There are lessons in my walkabouts, if I pay attention.  The metaphors get strained sometimes, like my muscles, but moving can also be a meditation.

I think we are in the second week of lockdown due to COVID-19; time is a little weird these days.  We walk through the neighborhood between rain showers, I ride my stationary bike and do my physical therapy, we play cards, read, go to virtual church, share video calls with our kids, talk on the phone, and cook meals which take more planning as we are avoiding grocery stores and home deliveries can be delayed.  Having a hot tub really helps for relaxation and we discovered GrubHub this week.  We had a great dinner delivered from our favorite local Chinese restaurant with lots of leftovers for another day.  I also wrote a couple of poems.

The Wind

Little Things

Life goes on, at least for now. It feels important to pace myself.  This is a marathon not a sprint.  After almost 2 years in the program (started in April of 2018), I have yet to wander too far from the path. If I can do that, I can also make it through this pandemic.  I am grateful to have good companions and guides along the way, and feel very lucky to be in California where science is not considered fake news.

For all who are afraid, may courage come. For all who are sick, may they be healed.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 75670 steps last week for 31 miles.   I ate approximately 10367 calories and burned 13889 for a deficit of 3522. My average weight this week is down 1.1  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 169.3.

Little Things

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It’s the little things

That make me weep

The sunlight seeping through the fog

Two mourning doves on the deck

Looking out on the world

It’s the little things

We need

Here and now,

In this time, this place.

When death looms outside our doors

And in our neighbor’s breath.

 

It’s the little things

That make me smile

A rainbow drawn in sidewalk chalk

A delivery at my door.

A neighbor holding space

A howling in the night

That chorus of lament

Which strangely echoes

Hope inside the fear

 

The Wind

The wind came up today

While I was walking

It blew clean and clear and cold.

I listened but there were no answers

Or if there were

I did not understand.

How many deaths will it take?

Bob Dylan asked so long ago.

I’ll keep walking as long as I can

Listening, hoping, watching

Wondering if that dove is sleeping

Somewhere in the sand.

Sheltering in place

Like the rest of us.

Daily Bread #103

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Who is that masked woman?

I used to wear that same bandana back in the day, going to demonstrations against the Viet Nam war.  I kept it wet and pulled it over my face to protect my eyes from the clouds of tear gas.  These days, I just pull it up when others are passing a bit too close.  It isn’t as good as a N-95 mask, but we need to save those for the health care workers because the US government is very unprepared for the pandemic.  I am glad to be in California where I can at least trust the state, county, and city officials to not lie to us about the situation.

It is getting to me.  The clueless people still running around in groups.  The run on toilet paper.  The racism still coming from Washington. I wish we had a president that at least acted like he cared about anyone but himself. They closed the parks here, which I knew was coming after the traffic jams at the beach this weekend.  I’ll miss the trails, but at least my neighborhood is pleasant to walk in.  Great views, especially if I head uphill.  Tempers are short, though, including my own.  I usually write this weekly blog fairly early on Mondays, but just couldn’t get centered enough today to put any words together.  I am still not very centered, but am writing anyway.  Does it have to make sense?  Does anything make sense these days?  I am scared and grumpy and am trying to cut myself some slack about it, and trying, not always effectively, to be generous with other stressed and grumpy people, especially on-line.  We will get through this.  I have to keep that hope alive, a flame that at least still flickers even if it isn’t burning very bright right now.

I lost some more weight this week again.  Who cares?  Maybe I still do.  Paying attention to my body and its needs seems even more important just now as we hunker down and try to survive as best we can.

Love to all of you who might read this.  We are in it all together, that much, at least, is very clear.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 78875 steps last week for 32 miles.   I ate approximately 10479 calories and burned 14074 for a deficit of 3595. My average weight this week is down 1.7  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 168.2.

Daily Bread #102

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As we hunker down and avoid crowds, attend virtual church services, stock up on essentials, cancel appointments and social engagements, pretty much the only place to go is the great outdoors.  It has been raining off and on this week, but we have still managed a few fairly long hikes.  At home there is the internet, reading and playing cards.  This poem, by the Rev. Lyn Unger is helping me cope:

Pandemic

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

 

I wrote one this week as well.

When Fear Comes

When fear comes knocking

I never know

If I should answer

Or hide somewhere inside.

Maybe it won’t know

That I am here.

Maybe it will go away

If I leave it standing

At the door.

 

But fear is just a

Messenger, a warning.

Not a harbinger

Of what must be.

Listen, Fear,

I hear you.

I’ll be as careful as I can

And I thank you

For your time.

Go away now.

I need courage more

Just now.

Send some over, please.

Last week, in group, likely our last in-person meeting for the duration, we talked about self-control.  I ran across this article which seemed timely.

The Myth of Self-Control

It had some useful insights I think.  This is one:

“People who are good at self-control … seem to be structuring their lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place,” Galla tells me. And structuring your life is a skill. People who do the same activity — like running or meditating — at the same time each day have an easier time accomplishing their goals, he says. Not because of their willpower, but because the routine makes it easier.”

Read the whole article, but if this current cloud has a silver lining, our lives are all becoming much more structured as our options become increasingly limited.  Maybe that is why my weight is down again this week without really trying.

Stay well, everyone.  We are in this together. The whole wide world is in this.

“Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.”

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 79153 steps last week for 32 miles.   I ate approximately 10388 calories and burned 14115 for a deficit of 3727. My average weight this week is down 1.6  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 166.5.

When Fear Comes

When fear comes knocking

I never know

If I should answer

Or hide somewhere inside.

Maybe it won’t know

That I am here.

Maybe it will go away

If I leave it standing

At the door.

 

But fear is just a

Messenger, a warning.

Not a harbinger

Of what must be.

Listen, Fear,

I hear you.

I’ll be as careful as I can

And I thank you

For your time.

Go away now.

I need courage more

Just now.

Send some over, please.

 

 

Daily Bread #101

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I did my second Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test last week.  The first was a year and a half and a hundred pounds ago.  The rate was of course different, but in some interesting ways.  The weirdest thing was that I got taller.  Not much, just a third of an inch, but given that people tend to get shorter as they age, getting taller is fairly miraculous.  Less weight on my spine, standing straighter, my new knee, are all possible explanations, but who cares?  I will take the miniscule physical growth along with larger emotional and spiritual growth (maturity) that can make us wiser as we age.

My resting energy expenditure went down from 1555 to 1210.  It takes fewer calories to, for example,  pump blood through a smaller body, so I knew that number would go down.  If you add in daily activities and 30 minutes of exercise, the total average calories my body is estimated to burn is 1573.  The really good news is that my metabolic rate is only 8% slower than the average for people of my height, weight and age.  During the last test, I was 11% slower.  The difference is likely due to my exercise routine and increased muscle mass.

In terms of the number of calories I need to eat in order to maintain my weight, the test was only marginally helpful, as it gave a maintenance range of 1210-1573, which seems fairly wide.  I have been eating roughly 1400-1500 calories a day, but then again I exercise more that 30 minutes most days.

I love math, but it isn’t perfect.  Still, it really is calories in versus calories out.  This last week I exercised a lot more as my cold was better, and burned around 2000 more calories than I did last week.  I ate about the same amount and so the scale showed a 1.3 pound loss.

Everyone has been talking and worrying about the corona virus.  I am in a “sensitive category” due to my age, but my health is so much better I am much less worried than I would have been 2 years ago.  No more “underlying health conditions” for me!

In any case, life always involves risks.  And you need to live it if it is going to mean something.  The only real change I am making is washing my hands much more often and for longer.  We will hunker down in our house if the situation gets worse, but for now I am still enjoying my walks.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 65891 steps last week for 27 miles.   I ate approximately 10570 calories and burned 13827 for a deficit of 3257. My average weight this week is down 1.3  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 164.9.

Daily Bread #100

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This week I celebrated my 70th birthday with a dinner out with the family.  It feels really good to enjoy a dessert without feeling guilty.  My weight is still hovering at under 160, despite a bad cold slowing me down, a conference, and a birthday – so no worries.

I call this blog “Daily Bread”, but I post weekly, so I have been doing this blog every week for 100 weeks, almost 2 full years. I hope it has been helpful to others, but blogging about my journey each week helps keep me on track.  It is one more discipline, like exercising and counting the calories in the food I eat.  (I may have overestimated the pie calories as it was actually fairly light as well as yummy. Restaurant food is always a guessing game.)

It is a discipline, even when guessing. Discipline is self control, but it isn’t like will power. I am not forcing myself. It is more of a practice, and like a spiritual practice, if you are faithful to it, it can lead you to places you might never have imagined.  It takes some character and determination, but is definitely not denial.  The key is really wanting the result – a healthy body – more than that extra helping of whatever it might be.

70 years old feels pretty good.  I am healthier and able to do more physically than in the last 20 or so years.  I think I have earned all my gray hair and wrinkles, and believe I have accumulated just a little bit of wisdom through it all.  More challenges await, no doubt.  That is life after all.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 32610 steps last week for 13.7 miles.   I ate approximately 10416 calories and burned 11688 for a deficit of 1272. My average weight this week is up .6 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 163.6.