Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Movie Changed My Life

source: Pinterest

Several years ago there was a thing going around Facebook where you wrote 25 Things About Me. One of my friends wrote that a book changed her life. As much as I read, I don't think there is any one book I can point to. However, there is this movie...

A few months ago I was in Chicago and got to spend some time with my sister Jeanie. She was making dinner and, like any good guest, I was sitting at the kitchen island drinking wine and keeping her company. We were talking about how much we both like to walk, and she told me about her sister-in-law who had passed away about a year ago, and how she had always wanted to do this pilgrimage. She started talking about this movie she and her husband had seen about it, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen. I had never heard of the movie, and only very vaguely knew of the pilgrimage route, no doubt dredged from somewhere in the cobwebby attic of my Catholic schoolgirl brain. The movie is The Way, and the pilgrimage route is the Camino de Santiago.

My own copy!

We watched the movie that night, and it may have been the wine talking, but I turned to Jeanie and said, "I think we can do this". Now keep in mind that two hours prior, this idea didn't even exist in my universe. Tom then reminded us that the accommodations are not the Marriott. All you have to do is walk 12-15 miles a day carrying everything you need for the trip, stop at villages and towns every few miles, eat good food, AND drink Spanish wine.

If you want the whole history you can google it and read pages and pages and pages, but here it is in a nutshell. There are several pilgrimage routes, with the destination being Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The Cathedral is where the shrine (and remains) of the apostle Saint James the Greater are located, and has been a pilgrimage route since the 9th century. The route we are looking at is the Frances (or French) Way. It begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees, covers about 800 km (500 miles to us), and traditionally takes about 35 days. That is a LOT of walking. (I'd say it's a shit-ton of walking, but hey, this is a religious destination.) While I would love to do the entire route, and actually am planning on it for when I turn 65, next fall Jeanie and I are going to do the last 111 km of the route,  from Sarria to Santiago. 100 km is the minimum that can be done to earn a Compostela, which is a certificate saying you walked The Way. I'm pretty sure that people who walk the full 800 km might feel a little cheated because they get the same certificate.

If you know me personally, you can imagine that I'm pretty much researching this little journey to death. One quote I read that has stuck with me is that your Camino begins when you decide to do it. I have hiking shoes. I've been walking a LOT (okay, a shit-ton, because this is in Nebraska and not Spain and I can say it). While I don't have the backpack that I'm going to be carrying yet, I am carrying my North Face day pack loaded with weights to get used to carrying everything I will need on my back. (And apparently right now that is some  dumbbells wrapped in beach towels...)

Source: Pinterest
Another thing I read is that each person setting out on this journey needs to decide WHY they are doing it. In the movie, there were as many reasons as there were pilgrims. And despite going to Catholic high school, I do not consider myself a religious person. For me, this trip is so far outside of my comfort zone, it may as well be - well - on the other side of the world. There is a place on the Camino where you are to bring a rock or other memento from home, and leave it behind, as well as what you want to rid yourself of. Jeanie and I will begin our Camino after this place, but I know we will find our own spot to leave our rocks. Prior to that, I will be putting quite a bit of thought into what I want to leave on that path in Spain.

Another reason is that I want to prove to myself that I can do it; that I can do hard things. I was trying to explain this to my friend Debbie, and she said, "But don't we do hard things every day?" Debbie, if you are reading this - thank you. I know I don't need to go on a long multi-day hike thousands of miles from home to prove this, but I need to prove this to the chubby girl from Aberdeen, South Dakota, who never really felt good enough for anything.

So I will be showing up (just like the blog name!) in your news feed more frequently - this blog has its own Facebook page if you're interested in following.

Buen Camino!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Head Up, Wings Out

Nine years ago, I crashed my bike (sounds so much better than "I fell off my bike") and needed major shoulder reconstruction. During the extensive rehab, I said to myself that I would never ever complain about working out again. Y'all know where this is going, don't you?

Over the winter, I've been Pinteresting great workouts and motivational quotes, which it turns out is actually easier than doing the real thing, and evidently doesn't count. After having to buy new jeans because all my old ones hurt, I decided to get with the program. You know the program; we all know the program: eat sensibly, drink more water and less alcohol, and get more movement in. I'm blaming wasting time on social media on my slacking off in these areas, and yes, I know it's ironic that I'm posing this on social media. Welcome to 2017.

I've been dutifully doing my two-mile neighborhood run-but-mostly-walk (RBMW), but this past weekend I decided to ramp it up and do a 4+ mile route. The weather was gorgeous, the first two miles were great - probably because I had decided in advance that it would be a long one. I was remembering training for the half-marathons, and was actually considering maybe doing one this fall and wondering who I could talk into doing it with me. And then shortly before mile three when I was faced with a hill that made me want to cry.

(Funny story: many years ago I said I would help my son's then-fiancée now-wife train for the bike part of her first triathlon. The route was a VERY HILLY semi-rural road north of town - State Street, for you Omahans. While I could ride pretty good distances on the flats, I wasn't - and still am not - good on hills. I actually needed to get off my bike and lie down in someone's front yard for a bit. Poor Aly, she acted cool but I know she was afraid that this overweight red-faced mom in spandex was going to die on her watch.)

Back to this weekend. When faced with the hill, I stopped, bent over with my hands on my knees, and swore at my husband who was golfing so I couldn't call him to come get me. I sucked it up, buttercup, and put one foot in front of the other and made it home. I totally would've gotten in the car with a complete stranger, though, if someone would've offered me a ride. Just kidding but not really (JKBNR). Seriously though, after lunch, a shower and a nap, it did feel really good to get out there and work. Maybe I'll look into that Des Moines half after all. Or a 5K.

Oh, and the title of this post? I've seen it on some running blogs, and it's my new mantra.

Head up, wings out!
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Work vs "work"

This post comes as a result of a conversation I had the other week with my favorite DIL, who this summer will be moving yet again to a new house and new town. This remarkable woman had two babies in 18 months, and as anyone out there who is a mom, knows just how much work that is. (My closest two were 24 months apart, so I didn't really even know). And did I mention that she and our son did it all halfway across the country from any family? No support system except the friends they made? Yeah. Tough.

Since the boys were born, she has been staying home and being the primary caregiver. Our son, like his dad, has been and will be somewhat absent due to the requirements of their profession. Since the kids are moving this summer to a more permanent location, I asked Aly if she would be "working outside of the home" (a phrase I hate, but don't know of a better one). It was a bad time to ask, because they're planning a cross-country move with two toddlers, but it did get me thinking.

I thought of what I did "outside of the home" versus what I did as a volunteer, and OMG. We need SAHMs. (Side note: one of Emily's classmate's moms was in med school when they were in elementary school, and whenever this girl was assigned to ANYTHING, all the other moms just sighed because we knew we'd be bringing the donuts / baking the cookies / chaperoning the class trip / whatever was assigned).

So when we got home from Cleveland, I thought I'd make a list. Here are the jobs I've actually been paid for, starting when I was a kid:
   Short order cook
   Deli prep (got really good at peeling potatoes and shelling hard-boiled eggs)
   Retail - JCPenney fabric department (and I don't sew!!!)
   Dishwasher in the microbiology labs in college (6 liter Erlenmeyer flasks full of gunk? No prob.)
   Medical technologist / clinical chemist - both as an intern, and then as a real job when I graduated
   Museum shop (retail)
   Inventory specialist (retail)

Now for the interesting part. And I'm not talking about "how much would you have to pay a person who stays home to raise her/his children" - you know, cook, chauffeur, nurse, organizer, house cleaner, blah blah blah. There are the actual volunteer positions (i.e. "jobs") I held since Emily, our oldest, started first grade:
   Girl Scout troop leader, Emily, 5 years, including summer science/math club
   Cub Scout den leader, Alex, 2 years
   Daisy, Girl Scout troop assistant troop leader, Erin, 1 year (maybe 2?)
   General manager for 2 select (read: TRAVEL) soccer teams
   Olympic Development Program (ODP) boys' coordinator
   School coordinator / representative for Gifted/Talented program
   Art Mom program - volunteer and then coordinator
   Room mom
   Math tutor for gifted program
   Reading tutor for kids who needed extra help (Arthur the aardvark still holds a special place in my heart)
   Class trip chaperone - trips TNTC
   Prom decorator - we're not talking high school gym here
   Prom / homecoming volunteer / chaperone (thanks for being elected to JCB and SCB, Erin!)
   Vacation Bible School - okay, only one summer for that
   Soul Seekers (church high school choir) cookbook - coordinated and published
   Church garage sale
   Museum shop volunteer (when the Joslyn lost its funding for actually hiring people in the shop)

I know there's more. Throw in attendance/carpooling to soccer, basketball, gymnastics, baseball (mercifully only one summer!), cross-country, track... Three kids, three schedules. And as I mentioned, my husband wasn't much help - not by choice, but by profession. Don't get me wrong - he could rock babies and change diapers with the best of them, but, let's just say, I think our kids' teachers might have thought I was a single parent. Our kids' teammates parents wondered about the absent dad. And our neighbors absolutely knew how strong I was since I was the snow-shoveler, gardener, and lawn-mower. And speaking of neighbors - thank God for you and carpools!

Dwight always said that I had the hardest job. And not just me - any SAHM. Anyway, in a roundabout way, this is my salute to all of you! You rock!!!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Before I start writing today, notice that this post will be twice as many as I wrote ALL of last year - and it's only February! (Look at me, pretending people read this. Hi kids! Hi sisters! Hi Heather!)

So I started my Whole30 on January 1. If you're not familiar with the program, it is 30 days of eating healthy protein, fats, vegetables, and fruit. No bread, no grains, no alcohol, no dairy, no added sugar, or legumes. There are other rules to the program, but these are the basics. It wasn't hard to follow, except that I kept feeling progressively worse. Our daughter Emily was doing her third Whole30, and I asked her if this was normal. It felt like a cross between the worst labor pains ever and being kicked in the stomach. After five days of this, I went to the doctor. And except for regular check-ups or injuries, I NEVER go to the doctor. After several hours of uncomfortable medical exams, I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. It perhaps had nothing to do with the Whole30 except temporally, but I'm not taking chances with that much fun again. So while I was waiting for my Cipro to be filled, I walked to the coffee shop next door and had a scone and a latte. Mmm...dairy AND gluten...

Now that all my intestinal flora has basically been killed off, I am back to normal. January 23rd was the first day I felt like myself. And how do I know this specifically, you ask? Well, since last September, I have been keeping a bullet journal, which is a consolidation of all the lists I had scattered all over the house and in my mind. And on the 23rd, I marked that I was starting to feel good.

So even though I didn't do a Whole30, I watched what I ate and tried to keep the not-so-good-for-me foods to a minimum. Not absent, mind you, just not with the reckless abandon that characterized the holiday season. And what do you know? 5.5 pounds gone. Now I KNOW I'm more than a number on a scale, but that number needed to be just a little lower or I'd have to buy all new clothes. While I've always worked out, after one particularly tough workout, I realized I had been phoning it in for awhile. I've since amped up the pace a bit, both cardio and weights.

The funny thing about exercise is that I never regret it - when it's over. But when I'm feeling not quite myself, the last thing I want to do is work out, even though I know it will make me feel better. Talk about a Catch 22! (Side note: Harry Connick, Jr was guest-hosting on the Today Show yesterday, and he said that he hasn't missed a day of working out in seven YEARS. Dang.)

I did keep one part of Whole30: I have not had a drink since New Year's Eve, so except for the champagne we had at midnight that night with our friends, this girl has been dry all of January. It's the longest I've gone without alcohol since I was pregnant with Erin, and that was in 1988. I had wanted to make it a month and I did, although I admit I was tempted last night. Today, not so much. I'll keep you posted on that front. Weird, arbitrary rules, I know.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Well hello there!

It's time for the obligatory January blog post! I started this in January of 2012, and wrote 81 posts that year. 2013 dwindled to 35, 2014 to 32, 2015 to 6, and 2016 to ONE. I am already tied with last year!

I've been trying to figure out what I want the purpose of this blog to BE. I started it as a means to get in shape for our son's wedding. It evolved into an on-line diary of everything I was eating and all my work-outs. While it's been fun (for me!) to go back and read the posts and remember the times, life has changed. Now I'm a nana (most fun job EVER!), retired from any job requiring me to leave my house (an introvert's dream), have a casual calligraphy business, have three children (and their partners/families) in three different states which will most likely never change unless WE move, and an aging parent/in-law just to make things a bit more interesting.

I still believe in the title of the blog, in that 80% of success is just showing up. Last year I participated in the The 100 Day Project, and for my endeavor, I chose 100 days of calligraphy. There really is something to just showing up - for one, the improvement in my writing was noticeable. It really made me sit down and put on my creative thinking cap, and I'm happy with the results. If you want to see for yourself, head on over to Instagram and check out my account: I'm cathyboll over there. I posted quite a few (most?) of the 100 days on my personal FB page as well.

So after surviving 2016, I decided to return to this little corner. I know some people had a great year, and while ours wasn't exactly bad, it falls into the "not exactly wonderful" category. We traveled SO MUCH, and while some of the trips were awesome (North Carolina! Ohio! Florida! Wisconsin! Any trips to see our kids!), some were okay (Kansas City airport to get our Global Entry pass), and some were just plain work. I'm looking at you, Bismarck. We made a total of 11 trips to North Dakota between the middle of March and the beginning of November - 1200 miles round trip (times 11!) all by car. (That aging parent thing I mentioned).

But we remain healthy, and after several friends' trials and tribulations, that is truly one of life's blessings. To help me remain so, after several years of thinking about it, I decided to do a Whole 30 this month. You know that old saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results"? Well, my clothes are starting to not fit so well, so I am doing something different for the month of January and seeing how it affects my jeans.

I'll write more about that later, but if you're interested in following along on that journey, I started an Instagram account with this blog's name: cathy.shows.up. I'll be posting meals and recipes there.

Ways to watch me be accountable that are public:

This blog:
Facebook page: Cathy Shows Up
Instagram account: cathy.shows.up
Instagram account: cathyboll (mostly calligraphy with occasional pix of adorable grandsons)