Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Neighbor

Two out of five mornings this school year I would see a neighbor getting into his car, a van parked in the handicapped spot outside our apartment building. We live on opposite sides of the building, so it's not really appropriate to yell "HI!" at the stranger. Anyways, this man opens the sliding door on the side of the van and gets in as the driver. Next, a man in a wheelchair uses the ramp into the van and situates himself into the passenger spot. I have never seen the man in the wheelchair up close. I don't even think I've seen his face. Again, we're too far away from each other for a polite "Good morning!". I find myself wondering why he is in the wheelchair. Was he paralyzed at some point? Does he have some sort of a condition that affects him in more than just physical ways? Maybe he was born with Cerebral Palsy and has always lived his life in a wheelchair. Maybe he has arthritis and has trouble walking, so it's easier to use a wheelchair. I have no idea, but I found myself internalizing a lot more.

For whatever reason, this man is in a wheelchair. I certainly don't pity him, and I've heard that that's not what people want: pity. But here I am, fortunately gifted with an able body. And I don't always take care of it to the best of my ability. What if this man could walk... would he run? Would he treat his body as some sort of temple and really take care of it? Would he judge me if he knew how often I sat on the couch? Do I take my body for granted?

The answer is so obvious it's like a slap in the face. Yes, I take my body for granted. I don't mean to, it just happens. In the past week, I've tried to take advantage of my body's abilities. That's all I can do... try. Take advantage of my capabilities. I don't know if this all sounds self-involved; I certainly don't mean to. It's just that sometimes I see things and I want to do more. When I watch sports on tv, I want to play them. (Those stupid athletes make things look so easy.) On field day this year, watching over the hockey game between kids, I wanted to get in there and actually HIT THE BALL. When I've taught music to special ed kids, I wanted to keep them moving, because it clearly brought them so much joy. So yeah, when I see this neighbor in the wheelchair, it is thought-provoking to say the least.

Side note: check out this story... it's amazing.

It's about a father and son who run marathons together. It's so awesome.

In case you're wondering, I'm totally NOT training for a marathon. I'm just DOING more physical activity. At least for a week. I should star this freaking post to remind myself on days when I don't feel like doing anything.

Here's what I've done this past week:

- Driving range
- Worked out a couple days at home with lunges, squats, sit ups, etc.
- Arm exercises using a full wine bottle :)
- Walked a few miles on a nearby trail
- Been to the pool a bunch. Finished "Inferno" and started "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Such a scholar. :)
- Got my ass kicked by Bridget at the gym
- Eaten a lot better, not perfect, but better
- Lost the five pounds I had shamefully gained. I got on the scale 3 times this morning to double check. I'm still confused.

And just so you know I'm not a completely changed person...

I met my friend Mary for happy hour at a Mexican bar. She drove, I had 3 margaritas and didn't realize how GOOFY I was until I got home. I face planted on the couch, and Mac insisted on me trying a "Burger Cookie" from Baltimore, a chocolate treat. He put a little piece in my mouth, I devoured it, and promptly fell asleep, face down. The next day, I noticed a spot on the couch, and if you know us, you know we're a little insane about our furniture. I leaned down, realized it was chocolate and almost screamed. I had obviously DROOLED part of the Burger Cookie out onto the couch. That's right. Epic fail.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Great Outdoors

Well things have been pretty stagnant for a little while. Especially my attitude and motivation. Until today.

I just got back from Colorado, where I spent time with Mac and 6 of our best friends. The 8 of us have been doing trips almost every summer together for a little while, and a few in between summers. I've known some of these kids for 12 years now, which is pretty amazing. What's also amazing is how they still seem to like me, because my sarcastic, bratty side has been revealed more than a few times. The older I get, the bitchier I get. It's also amazing that they still talk to me as if nothing has changed. Are they really blind to the fact that I've gained 1,000 pounds? Do they even remember the younger, thinner Megan? Or do I really come off as basically the same person? Sometimes, it's hard to tell.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm also a bit self-involved and paranoid about my appearance. A few weeks ago, I went out for Mexican with a few girlfriends. I looked straight at one of them and brought up the inevitable.

M: Is my blog like the white elephant in the room?
G: What?
M: I mean, here I am, writing this stupid blog for almost 2 stupid years, and we're drinking margaritas. Hypocrite.
G: Oh, no, I don't think that at all.
M: Yeah right. Everyone probably thinks, there goes Megan, talking about wanting to lose weight again, and here we are, dipping chips into queso. (Which, ironically, when I order it, the Mexican waiter always replies, "Cheese Dip?" Um ya, did I not say it right? I'm trying to help you out here buddy by using 1 of the 2 Spanish words I know.)
G: Well, I can tell you I'm not thinking at all about you because I'm thinking about myself.
M: Huh?
G: People won't focus on you because they're too concerned with themselves.
M: << Biggest sigh of relief ever. >>

I can't tell you how great that made me feel. I believe her, and now I try not to be as paranoid. At least not when I'm with other people. I'm still incredibly self-conscious when I see pictures of myself. Isn't everyone?

Anyways, back to Colorado and why my attitude has potentially changed. I'd never been that far west in this country, and I've got to say it was just beautiful. I am so fortunate that we got to go, and I'd never seen anything like it. The Rockies make the Appalachians look like rolling hills. (Turns out Kendra was right all those years. ;) )

The first full day there we decided to hike up to Emerald Lake in Estes Park, which is part of Rocky Mountain National Park. It's almost a 4 mile hike, and in my East coast mind, I thought, ok, this will take about 2 hours. Half hour per mile. HA. What an idiot. It took FOUR HOURS. (With stopping and visiting other lakes on the way.) The elevation is about 600 feet. Now, it goes without saying that I'm not in, um, tip-top shape. I also have asthma, but I only take my inhaler when I need it, and I never take it before I need it, because it jacks me up like a 5 year old on Christmas. I had to stop a bunch on the trail. I certainly wasn't the only one though. The altitude change, mixed with enough stairs for three lighthouses, plus snow led me to take my inhaler at probably not even half a mile into the hike. The worst part? The 60 year olds that were passing our group like IT WAS NOTHING. Excuse us, we Coloradans came prepared with boots and poles, and you out-of-towners are behaving like pansies. Bend your knees and effing walk through the snow. You're blocking the path. No joke, these people are pros and probably warmed up on this trail before flying out to the base of Everest and climbing it in 2 hours.

So, I've given you the worst part. The best part? Everything. It was just breathtaking. These pictures just can't do it justice. Go now and see this amazing part of the US.

You may wonder where the stairs are that I spoke of. Or, why am I telling you it was tough for me because the trail looks so flat? That's because when walking up a hill, a hundred stairs or through a slim section of snow/mud/tree roots, the last thing Mac wanted to hear was me going, "Stop! Let me get the camera out of the backpack!" Trust me, once I got momentum going to get through certain sections, I wasn't going to stop.

So, the whole reason for my current attitude change is the "outside bug" that bit me while out there. I have always loved being outside, but man, this was awesome. The fresh air, lack of technology and exercise were a perfect combination for pure happiness. I'm no tree-hugger, but I get it. Being outside, taking in fresh air is awesome. Exercise is awesome. And for me, lack of technology is awesome. (If you know me, you know how much I detest smart phones at times. I get their place in today's world, but a few years ago, when Mac and I upgraded phones, I thought about getting one. It was the best decision not to. I don't NEED a smart phone. My work doesn't demand it, and quite frankly, if I had one of those in my hands, I'd probably be ignoring everything else around me. I'm arrogant, but not too arrogant to realize that I couldn't multitask being on a device and interacting with a human being at the same time. And if you think you can multitask your smartphone and a conversation with me, I will politely tell you how wrong you are. And to everyone who excuses themselves to answer a call, text, etc. I appreciate it. :) I will be a terrible old fogie one day, because this is how brazen I am at 30. By the way, could you turn on your GPS? I just got lost. ;) )

So, now, I want to be outside. I came home so happy and so relaxed that I want to continue it over the summer. So, here's to staying outside as much as possible during the summer. Now, who wants to go kayaking in the Potomac, paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin or hiking in Virginia? I promise I won't throw your smartphone anywhere.