Some of my favorite conversations with Dan happen while we're getting ready for work in the morning. (This is probably because I have 11+ hour days and he is taking night classes and there are 2-month-old twin nieces to squidge so we don't have much time to ourselves in the evenings.) This morning I found Dan scowling at a decorative wall scroll one of my good college friends sent us as a wedding gift. She was working at a children's hospice in China at the time, and commissioned the scroll with one of the readings from our wedding Mass (Tobit 8:4-9) in Hanzi. I asked him what my poor scroll had done to offend him, and once he stopped laughing and caught his breath he admitted that he was thinking about decorating after we move and how he doesn't really know how to decorate a house.
Thankfully the new house has a man cave, which he can not-decorate as much as he wants. :)
I'm currently working on a new knitting project: my first prayer shawl. Not a Tallit, this is the kind that you make for someone who needs prayers and consolation, so you pray for them while you knit them a cozy shawl and every time they wrap up in it they are reminded of your prayers and love.
My younger sister went through the most unimaginable tragedy recently. She conceived in August, and sometime in the fall the baby tested at risk for neural tube defects. As she progressed her baby girl was diagnosed with severe spina bifida. Two weeks ago, an extensive sonogram examination revealed a host of other problems with her cardiovascular and circulatory systems, as well as hydrocephalus. Her increased head size made it necessary to induce labor early, at 35 weeks. On Good Friday my sister and her husband met, baptized, and said goodbye to their daughter.
Knitting a prayer shawl is a very different experience on a number of levels. I usually knit while we watch movies, or I listen to music or talk to people. With this project I knit in silence. All projects have an emotional component to them, whether it's the excitement of upcoming birthdays or the warmth of Christmas or the joy of new birth. This one is wrapped in the pain of loss. It's been a good outlet for my own grief, and after the initial shock I'm finding it helps me process everything and find hope. My faith tells me that my niece is in heaven, and if she's anything like her mommy she's rolling her eyes at our tears and telling us to hurry up because she hasn't got eternity to wait for us to join her. (Haha, eternity.)
"Where, oh death, is your victory? Where, oh death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)
There is a photo on my desk that sums up my family perfectly. It is my favorite photo of us, taken after our wedding during an attempt to get a large group photo of both of us with both sets of parents and siblings. We are not-quite-centered between his family of 2 parents, 1 brother, 1 sister, and 1 brother-in-law and my family of 2 parents, 6 sisters, 3 brothers, 2 brothers-in-law, and 1 nephew.
Our flower girl, my (then) 4-year-old sister is pitching a fit because someone took her lollipop away for the photo, and in the midst of her childish rage she tripped over her puffy white dress and sprawled on the floor, blonde curls flying, red sash askew. My 3 brothers, still in their altar server gear of black cassocks and white surplices, are (in descending order of age) trying to help her up, smirking, and standing calmly with hands folded and a serene expression. I have my head thrown back in laughter, and Dan is barely suppressing his own mirth while at the same time giving me a "please don't encourage this" look. His family are all trying to stay serious and look at the camera, but are clearly amused. My older sister is holding her (then) 2-year-old son back from the chaos while scolding the poor lollipop-deprived girl for not standing still, my nephew just wants in on the fun, and her (now ex) husband clearly wishes he was anywhere else. My immediate younger sister is laughing as hard as I am, and her husband is laughing at something my father is saying (I would bet money that he's wondering where his lollipop is). My mother clearly knows this battle is not worth fighting. My remaining sisters are (in descending order of age) smirking, sighing, and giggling.
Dan and I have jumped on the bandwagon and started P90X. It is kicking. My. Booty. In all kinds of awesome ways. And by "awesome" I mean "holycrudit'snoteven6inthemorningpleaseletmedienow". Yes, despite the fact that I am not remotely a morning person, my 11.5-12 hour days away from home mean that the best (I use that word very loosely) time for me to work out is still before I leave for work in the morning.
If someone had told me 5 years ago that one day I would willingly get up at 5:00 every morning, I would have died laughing.
I also would like to offer this as a challenge to everyone who thinks they don't have time to exercise. I don't have time either, but I make time. I am up at 5:00, working out by 5:15, in the shower by 6:20. I leave the house at 7:15, pick up my brother-in-law/commuting buddy at 7:50, and start the second (and longer) leg of my commute. Drop him off and drive the last 5 miles to my office by 9:00, if the traffic's good. Reverse that drive in the evening and get home a little before 7:00 (most nights...again...traffic). Dinner and a couple of hours of quality time with Dan, and into bed between 10:00 and 11:00 so we can do it all again.
If I can drag my sleepy self up a full hour and 15 minutes before I have to, anyone can squeeze in a 30 minute walk a few times a week. ;) Start with that and see where it goes. Endorphins are habit forming in the best possible way.
The program itself isn't as hard as I thought it would be. Yes it's tough, yes I get sore, yes I Tony Horton is well past 40 and has the body of a 20-year-old professional athlete, no you should absolutely not try to jump into it if you are coming out of a completely sedentary lifestyle. Spend a few months getting your body used to activity first, or you will hurt yourself. After my injury I was inactive for about 3 months, then started walking again, moved up to jogging again, and then spent a couple months doing some cardio/light weight lifting. The guidebook has a fitness test inside; if you can't pass it, wait to start until you can. But don't be intimidated by people's horror stories of how impossible the program is. If you can pass that test, you can do the workouts. You will have to go at your own pace, but you can do it.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, there are 12 videos and a guidebook. The workouts alternate between cardio focused (Cardio, Kenpo, Plyometrics, etc.) and muscle focused (weights, chin up bar, squats, lunges, etc.). There are 3 ways to do the program as well, outlined in the book. Each consists of 6 days of exercise and 1 day of rest each week. Classic is the regular path, alternating between muscles and cardio for 6 days with one rest day. Doubles is for crazy really athletic people; after the first 30 days it adds a second workout per day. Lean, which I am doing, leaves out a couple of the rougher workouts. I don't do Plyometrics at all (thank goodness!), and some of the muscle groups I don't do until later. For example, I won't do the Chest & Back workout until day 60, because it involves a lot of chin ups, and I can't do those yet. Dan is doing Classic, so our workouts don't always line up. Most days we get to be each other's cheer squad. :)
We're on day 8 right now, and so far so good. I've struggled to find something pushes me and that I enjoy as much as karate, since my days as a dojo rat are over. P90X is fun, it's energizing, it's doable, and few things wake me up as effectively as Tony Horton yelling "Bring it, bring it, come on!" for an hour straight. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a fun and challenging workout.