I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Archive for July, 2014

Calico.

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There’s my scaredy cat! One of the legend of Tiger, Calico freaks out about a lot of stuff. Like his Mommy, he takes great comfort in shoes, tee hee.

As I write, I’m seated at the airport terminal, waiting to board the plane for my very first destination race. My level of excitement, on a scale from 1-10? 0.

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Odd, considering that I neither have to fly nor race, and I am here by my own doing. I wish it were just the nervousness for the half-marathon that awaits me, but there’s more.

I bloody hate to fly. Why? I might die, of course. Yes, I understand that by miles traveled, flying is the safest way to travel. Never mind that. I’m here simply because driving would be highly inefficient and likely more expensive.

Each time I fly, I am reminded of how little control I have over anything aside from my attitude. I was thinking this morning of how freaked out I was about the swim at St. Anthony’s. The bay is so big and unpredictable and Lady J is so small – and fairly predictable, by comparison. 🙂 At least then I was in control of moving myself forward. Now all I can do is sit and pray that this pilot person knows what the hell he is doing. And that no one is in the mood for mischief the way they were in Ukraine yesterday. 😦

The kind of fear that I have is evidence of my privileged life. The idea of a few bumps or a few choppy waves is enough to make me very uncomfortable. I’m thankful that God is with me both in the water and in the air. I pray that He continues to humble me and may I have the awareness to know that He is in control, even when I feel like I am.

NB: Port-a-potty > airplane lavatory.

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Triathlon Tough = Recital Ready?

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Two days ago, I almost fell off of my bike. Almost. 🙂 Winning!

Red Rocket and I had stopped at an intersection. I was riding with a group (in the back, per usual) and the group had restarted. The road was a *tad* bumpy and as I was trying to clip in my left foot, I couldn’t get the bike steady. I’m thankful that the cars to my left and behind me slowed so that I could live to say I lived through another day of triathlon training. Heh. Anyhow, I managed to straighten out Red Rocket, continue, and catch up with my group.

Strangely enough, this *near* fall excites me. My relationship with Red Rocket is becoming increasingly less tortured. Imagine that – you nurture something and it grows. Who. Knew. “But Lady J,” you ask. “Why would you be excited about almost falling?” Aside from the fact that I am unscathed, it means that I am one near-miss stronger. I was reminded of something that my piano teacher from high school once told me:

“You don’t really know your music until you’ve missed every note.

That used to baffle me, but now I understand. As I prepare for my recital, I’ve created opportunities to play for others and have been a little surprised at some of the errors I’ve made. My mock recital was especially helpful, because I had really forgotten what it was like to be that nervous before presenting an entire program of music. I even briefly forgot how one of my pieces started! All kinds of things I was NOT expecting happened as I was playing, but I survived, and now I know at the very least I will get through my recital.

Working to conquer the fear of my bike has helped me make great strides in my music making. Of all the legs of triathlon, I feel that cycling is the closest to piano playing, in that I am working to steer both my body and an instrument. The piano and bicycle are both the means by which I move forward, and it’s my job to manage my body in such a way that the motion is as fluid as possible.

There are times when I’m with Red Rocket that I’m absolutely terrified everything is going to go wrong and I’m going to fall on my face. My heart rate shoots up and I start to shake. I have to remind myself that 1) I know how to ride and stop the bike if I need to and 2) if for some reason I can’t, I will most likely be okay. I cannot live in fear of falling and expect to move forward.

Likewise, as I come to passages of music that I find technically demanding and I wonder if I’m going to make it, I must remind myself to live in the moment and make the very best music that I can. If I think about messing up, my heart rate increases just the same and my proficiency of managing the instrument decreases. Falls at the piano are inevitable, and they come much more often for me than on the bike simply because I’ve logged more notes than I have miles. And boy, do I remember my falls. “I remember from 2005 during the second A section of the Brahms rhapsody when I missed that F#. Why am I here.”

Indeed. Why DO I do this? Both triathlon and piano performance terrify me. How am I spending my summer? Preparing to do both. Investing time and money in both. It’s not even as though I’m particularly good at either! But – in 25 years, I’ve never DNF’d at a recital. There’s no greater feeling than finishing something I’ve set out to do. I’m a champ when it comes to moving forward.

Sweet Relief

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If I met a man who could do to me what Andre Watts’ playing does for me, I wouldn’t be single. TRUTH. I’ve had the opportunity to hear him play more than once and every time it was nothing less than spectacular. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I even got to meet him once while in college and OMG HE TOUCHED MY LEFT SHOULDER. If it weren’t for triathlon, I would never have washed it. Mr. Watts, God forbid anything ever happen to your lovely wife (Joan) but never fear, you’ve got another (Joan) ready to step in.

I have a VHS copy of his performance at Lincoln Center from 1985 that I watch whenever I am in need of musical inspiration. He never fails me. I watched it again fairly recently, and for the first time I made a note. A note of his missed notes. OMG he missed notes! But you know what? It did not matter. At. All. It did not take away from the music one bit. He was freely playing and expressing and sharing and WORKING. My God, he can work that instrument. Ooooooh, that lucky Joan!

Focus, Joan.

What a relief it is to know that I can be imperfect and yet still effective. I can miss notes and still make music. I can be slow as molasses and still cross finish lines. I can confuse kids’ names and not catch all the billion sunshine state standards and still be an effective teacher. I practice, train, and study no longer to be perfect, but to maximize my effectiveness. I recognize that I’ve been blessed with the gift of good health and must work to share what it is that I have to give in order to honor God.

How sweet.

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The Trap: A Story of Breakfast, Triathletes, and Hope

I went to church today…

Eventually.

On today’s training calendar is my long run. Normally, this would give me a case of the yays but because I am just getting back into running after injury, I feel mentally unfit. Even 2 miles feels grueling at the moment. I awoke this morning with plans to run, but my foot was yelling at me. “Great, I didn’t really want to run anyway. I’ll swim later and put it off until tomorrow. I’m SOOOO responsible,” I said to myself as I rolled over.

I had made breakfast plans with 3M the night before. She was going running too because, well. She sleeps, eats, has an occasional shot of tequila, and runs. So I had planned to go run and get our food on afterward. She texted me in the morning to ensure we could still eat.

But now I wasn’t running! I don’t normally miss church for purely social purposes. The game had changed. But I didn’t want to cancel because I didn’t run, and the two of us had been wanting to do this for a while so I said I was in.

I was driving on I-75 to see her feeling suuuuuper guilty. All this hype about missing church and now I had a WIDE opportunity to go and was choosing not to.

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Oh, dear.

Breakfast was delicious. 3M is always great, of course. I couldn’t help looking at the clock, of course. First service was ticking by. Then two of my other tri buddies walked in. “Oh hayyyyyy!” Dressed in jeans and a blouse, it was clear that I hadn’t been training. “Did you go to church?”

Seriously, God. You sent a relay team for me.

I parted ways with 3M around 11. My dear friend was likely oblivious to my inner turmoil and I hope she doesn’t feel bad about anything. Totally my choice to say yes! I got in my car and headed toward home and was debating whether I should go to church late. Not a couple of minutes late, but QUITE late. In jeans. That’s not normally how I roll, though the jeans part is fairly inconsequential.

In the end, I did go. Y’all already know. I’m glad I did. Today’s sermon was from the Book of Judges. The judge of Israel at the time was Deborah (girl power!) and there she was having a talk with this guy named Barak. “Dude. God said you’re supposed to go to war with the people oppressing you and He’s gonna deliver you. What’s the hold up.” And Barak is all, “Uh, I’ll go if you’ll go.” So the God of the UNIVERSE spoke and Barak was still being a punk. He did end up going into battle with Deborah and a lot of other stuff happened. You can get a Bible app yourself. Anyway, Barak shows up later as *gasp* a good guy!

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭11‬:‭32-34‬ NKJV)

Hebrews 11 is like, a roll call of awesomeness. People who served God like champs. And this dude, Barak, messed up and STILL made it in. Pretty cool. The pastor made the point that God will honor those who are faithful at the finish and Barak was. Today, so was I. I ended up where I should have been in the first place. Late, but I suppose better late than never.

I often fall into the trap of thinking that if I don’t have a great start, the rest doesn’t matter. I’ve messed up a LOT more than necessary because of this trap. I would have missed a great sermon today. It’s comforting to know that I can have less than stellar start and grow. Thank God that as long as I am blessed with another breath, I have another chance.

N.B. – I also missed a good chunk of the Gentlemen’s Final of Wimbledon. I didn’t even check the score on my phone during church. Well, it flashed once and I shut off the app. Now THERE’s some heaven-sent strength – if anyone could distract me from church it’s Novak Djokovic.

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Dear Christians, I’m lobbying for a new hobby.

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First, I’d like to let you know who is writing you. I count myself among Christ’s followers. I was raised and baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I regularly tithe, read the Bible daily and do not view it as merely good ideas. I am saved by Grace and work (and fall short) every day to show that I am thankful Christ gave his life for me. Theologically speaking, I am no liberal.

I count myself blessed to have been born in the United States, where I get to put on my church hat, grab my iPad, and choose which translation of the Bible I’m going to read without fear. I’m not talking about the kind of fear of losing a couple of friends or people thinking I must not be too bright if I think the Bible is God’s inspired word. I mean fear of the government. Fear for my life. I can worship freely and I love that the framers, whatever their flaws may have been, set us up that way.

I’ll speak to one of our favorite hobbies now – the pro-life movement. As to where I stand, I think abortion is tragic. I wish they didn’t have to happen. I wish no woman suffered the pain of a miscarriage. I wish no woman would ever go to the doctor to learn that her child would be born with an unimaginable defect. I hesitate to call myself pro-life because of all the mess it’s associated with. At the same time, I am not comfortable calling myself pro-choice for the same reason. I find it disturbing that people would picket and shout at complete strangers with whose situation they are completely unfamiliar. I also find it flippant and disrespectful to say “don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.” Everyone has a right to a voice. Christians, we have a responsibility to make that a Christ-like voice. A loving voice. The stuff that happens outside those clinics ain’t it. In a perfect world, abortions would not have to happen. Many things are not under our control. You know what we SHOULD do if we hate abortion so much? 1. Work to improve circumstances of mommies and 2. Work to educate children so children are not having children. Nothing unbiblical about that. Summary: put me in Clinton’s camp. It should be safe, legal, and rare. I think there are lots of things related to 1 and 2 mentioned above that the church can be doing to make it rare.

You know what will definitely NOT make it rare? Not covering birth control in an insurance policy. The recent decision of the Supreme Court disturbed me on several levels. I could only imagine if my mother worked for Hobby Lobby when I was a teen and needed birth control for hormonal issues that had nothing to do with the pill’s intended purpose. Our God made us free to follow Him. Jesus did not grab Peter by the throat and say “joker you better put that net down or else.” We cannot expect for everyone to believe what we do, and certainly not in this context. Aside from that, regarding the purpose of birth control – I am positive that many of the women who work for Hobby Lobby are in happy, heterosexual marriages. If the beef is that everyone should be procreating, why is Hobby Lobby covering vasectomies? Certainly Viagra promoting procreation is a joke too, right? Most in the market for an erectile dysfunction drug are not in the market for children. It just makes me suspect that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a non-issue. “Shoot, I’ve got season tickets. I can’t have this baby.” Just. Like. That.

Christ died and rose to save people. John 3:16 does not say “For whatever corporation believeth in me shall not perish but have eternal life.” If a corporation were a person, it would be a two year old. Selfish, having no interest except in the here and now for its own sake, regardless of how it impacts others. What do we do with two year olds? We don’t let them out of our sight for a moment. We appreciate two year olds and love them, but we – some more than others – are all too aware of the damage they can cause.

Christians, a decision like SCOTUS made is damaging to us. Don’t think for one second that it’s out of the realm of possibility that people will say they have a right to deny anyone, including us, a right to anything. Christ is bigger than this. We should be bigger than this.

I used to think that the thing I feared most about following Christ was that I wasn’t doing a good enough job with the rules to be known as a Christian. Now it scares me that because I am not shoving my theological beliefs in people’s faces like a jerk I will not be known as a Christian. We should be known by our love (with truth, of course) and not by trying to keep women from having access to birth control. Not even abortion. The thing that prevents women from having them!

I know my walk is imperfect. I share that with all of you. Let’s all walk more humbly, keep our eyes on Him, and leave the judgment to the Perfect One.

Love,
Lady J

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