Friday, November 26, 2010

"the rest of your life"

The doctor used the phrase, "the rest of your life."  I listened and reflected.  Fine by me was my reaction.  However other people (co-workers and family) heard the news and over reacted.  Does it really matter?  My doctor informed me that I will be on anticoagulants for the rest of my life.  The expectations are that I will live a long time.  I do not see a problem with taking a pill.  The inconvenience is minimal.  The pill is readily available.  I do not suffer any side-affects.  All in all - no problem.  When I tell others, there is always a reaction.  Some place a hand on my shoulder.  Some ask if I am ok.  They react as if my life is more complicated because I need to pop a pill daily.  They react as if my life is now more fragile.  While I appreciate the concern, I do not understand. 

I were glasses (or contacts) and have since age 11.  If I want to see (and I do) I will require corrective eye wear "for the rest of my life".  No reaction.  No hand on my shoulder.  No one ask if I am ok.  No one reacts as if my life is more complicated because I need wear glasses.

Generally, I do appreciate the fragility of life.  I am glad I live in a time and place where a drug I need is available and low cost.  I do not see taking it as a burden, but a blessing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Secret Family Recipe

He handed me a sheet of paper as I entered.  I took a glance - this was it!  This was the Sweet Potato Pie recipe!  Pop's Sweet Potato Pies are legendary.  As a child, I took them for granted - it was just the pie my father baked.  Others raved.  When he baked them for family or church functions, they quickly disappeared.  As an adult, I really appreciate the pies.  Recently, he baked 18 pies.  It was a multiple day effort.  The pies were gone in moments at a church function.  This was the recipe I held in my hands.  Pop had never shared it - not even with his children.  Having it was like a license to print money.  I folded the paper and put it away.

We were gathered at my father's house for Thanksgiving.  After a wonderful meal, out came a few pies.  My siblings ask when Pop would share the recipe.  I was silent.  Pop was not.  "I just gave Chris a copy.  Do you want one too?" Pop asked.  My siblings all replied yes enthusiastically.  My license to print money was diminished, but it was ok.  Pop, went to his computer and printed a couple copies.  We all looked at the recipe.  Ah, the secret was sweetened condensed milk.  Oh, I thought I tasted a hint of ginger.  Then my sister asked the question "how many pies does the recipe make?"

Pop replied "That recipe makes four pies."  Wait.  Pop is very precise in his use of language.  "That recipe” This implies that there are others.  This implies that this is not "thee" recipe.  I asked.  Pop, with a twinkle in his eye, repeated his answer.  I asked a different question: "is this the recipe you used for these pies?"  Pop replied "pretty close.  Every recipe is just a starting point."

Pop is right.  He gave me a starting point.  I'm curious enough to try it and make adjustments.  My adjustments will make it my recipe.  And when the time is right, I will share it (mostly) with my daughters - giving them a starting point.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chasing 315

The quest began shortly after I entered the Powerhouse Gym in Highland Park almost 30 years ago.  It was the summer between high school and college.  A few friends were going to gym to stay ready for football when they went away to college.  They were all playing college ball someplace – I never played or had interest in football.  I just wanted to get into shape.  As I entered the gym, I was impressed by the massive amounts of weight lifted by massive men.  I was new to working out with weights and self conscious.  I was not a 95 pound weakling – I was a 200 pound weakling.

One exercise people like to use as a measure of strength is the bench press.  The folk I worked out with were lifting more than 225 pounds - 2 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar.  The strongest of the group was lifting 315 - 3 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar.  When it was my turn, they dropped the weight to 135 (one 45 pound plate on each side).  I gasped, squirmed and struggled. It was too heavy and I was embarrassed.  They assured me - everyone starts out with a low weight.  They lowered it to 95 pounds.  I struggled less and lifted the weight.

That was when I set a goal of lifting 315.  I worked hard that summer.  By the fall, I was benching 135.  The folk I worked out with emphasized form over amount of weight.  I was still embarrassed - but I kept working on it.  I decided to buy a lifetime membership (initial fee of $290.00 and a $50.00 renewal).

When the folk I worked out with went away to college, I kept going and worked out with a new group.  I made progress.  Over time, I improved and became more confident.  I realized that it is not important where you start - just that you start.

After a few years of hard work, I accomplished it - I was able to bench 315.  Now what?  I changed my goal to lift it with ease. Accomplished.  Now what?  I did not have a fitness goal - only a single exercise.  I lost focus and purpose in my workouts.  Without focus at the gym, I slacked off.  I stopped going for long  stretches of time.  The longer I was away, the easier it was to stay away.

I needed a proper goal. I needed a general fitness goal to go along with various specific goals. Setting a goal of benching 315 was limiting – it said nothing about health or fitness.  It was not part of an overall fitness goal.  Without a health and fitness goal, I gained weight – a lot of weight.  I topped out at 330.  While working toward my goal of benching 315, my over 6 foot frame stayed about 235.

The start of this year, I set a general fitness goal to go along with various specific strength goals.  Based on a TED talk by Derek Sivers, I’m going to keep these goals private.  They are written down and I hold myself accountable.  After I achieve them, I'll share them.

You can check out the TED Talk by Derek Sivers here: