Friday, June 9, 2017

#438 Summer of People

Spring is here!  Although it doesn’t feel like it right now.  As the weather warms (and cools) and I prepare for a fun summer, I am reminded of the fun I had LAST summer that I neglected to share on my blog.  I wrote it, but never posted it.  Here goes. 

One of my co-workers, Barb, designated the summer of 2016 as her “Summer of People.”  As a wife and mom, she spends most her time taking care of her family.  While she loves them dearly, but she doesn’t always have time to do fun stuff on her own. 

Earlier in the year we found out James Taylor (with Jackson Browne) was going to perform at Wrigley Field June 30 and we got tickets, along with her two sisters, her mom and a friend from high school.  Her sister decided to have a family reunion that weekend, which then turned into another concert (for Barb) to see Dave Matthews at Alpine, which turned into her family and another family having a vacation in Wisconsin the week after that.    

A couple other opportunities also popped up for her, continuing the Summer of People theme.  I was happy to jump on board for part of it.  

I followed Barb and her mom to Libertyville, Illinois June 30, met her sisters and then hopped on the bus with Johnny, our driver, headed to Wrigleyville.  Two hours later we arrived and all I can say is thank goodness for field seats!  We bypassed the long lines and got in our seats by Jackson Browne’s second song.  Whew! 

It was a beautiful night with beautiful music.  What a setting!  James usually sings “Shed A Little Light” at his concerts, but this time it held a different tone, with all the mass shootings and terror attacks around the world. 

My friends Keith and Denise picked me up Friday morning and we headed to Milwaukee for Summerfest.  More music and more people! 

Last year was Summerfest’s 49th year.  It’s a huge event - I was there for two of the 10 days.  It’s like a giant fair along Lake Michigan, complete with permanent food and music structures.  Most of the bands that play during the day are cover bands, with more “known” people playing in the evening.  Then there are the bigger names who play at another amphitheater for an additional ticket cost.  We stuck with the regular lineups and saw The Commodores Thursday night (foregoing Richard Marx and Taylor Dayne).  Friday we saw Blue Oyster Cult in the late afternoon and topped it off with Billy Idol at night.  Billy #$@#^& Idol!  (That’s how he introduced himself at the end of the show.)  At 60 he still rocks. 

I even got a little shopping in with Denise to break up the musical day.  Milwaukee is a fun city with a nice canal area. 

My only regret is that I missed the BoDeans (with Kenny Aronoff!) Sunday night.  We left Sunday morning around 10:15 a.m. and I later saw on Twitter they had a sound check at 10 a.m. Agh!  I had to be back Sunday night and my only consolation was that I saw the PERFECT BoDeans show last summer at the Rathskeller.  (Post No. 399) 

Sunday night was a belated birthday dinner for Krista with a group of our pals.  A great way to close out the weekend. 

Sometimes I can be a bit of a homebody, wanting to get things done around the house.  I must admit that before this trip I had thoughts of how much I could get done with three days off – painting chairs, cleaning this and that.  I finally told myself I could do that any weekend and this was the weekend of people and music!  I had a blast!  I got to hang out with current friends and make some new ones.  Then I got home and found that the weather in Indy had been rainy and cold.  Ha!  Summer of people wins! 

Here’s to the upcoming summer of MORE people and MORE fun!  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#437 Water, Water, Everywhere

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink. 
The Rhime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The first two lines of this poem popped into my head today.  I had just finished a conversation with a female friend (early 50s, also single) and one of our shared experiences was knowing many attractive men, yet not being attracted to them.  As I walked away, I thought to myself, “Water, water, everywhere.”  Or in this case, “Men, men, everywhere.  Nor any man to date.” 

I used to think to myself, “I never meet any men.”  I realized that was not the case.  I meet LOTS of them.  Funny, smart, attractive.  They are!  (Not just a nice personality.) 

I was talking to another married female friend about this very subject over the weekend and when I said I wasn’t attracted to them she asked, “What do you mean?  Do you not like their body?”  That made me laugh.  And it made me think.  It’s not necessarily their bodies.  I’m more of a face girl anyway.  I like a guy with a great face (eyes, smile, lips).  I care about the body but do not require a six pack or lots of muscles.  I’m good with reasonably in shape.    

Sometimes I feel a bit Seinfeld-esc because I start to get “picky”.  They run too stiffly.  They can’t shoot a basketball.  (They don’t have to have played basketball, but they should at least know how to shoot the rock.)  They don’t like sarcasm.  They don’t have a sense of humor.  They have terrible taste in music.  Or they’re not into any kind of music at all.  (One of my friends won’t date anyone who likes Dave Matthews.) 

Then there’s the height.  The elephant in the room.  I’m tall.  I like tall men.  I want a man who is close to my height.  I’m giving some slack here – I don’t require them to be taller than me.  Just close.  Is that so wrong?  “Why?” you may ask.  Why would I overlook a wonderful man who is 5’10”?  Because I don’t like bending over to kiss a man.  Because I don’t like bending over to hug a man.  Because I don’t want to feel like THE MAN.   

I know I’m limiting my dating pool.  But I like what I like.  One day a 5’9” man may come along and sweep me off my feet.  Until then I’ll keep looking for my tall drink of water.  

Friday, May 5, 2017

#436 @WeDineTogether

For the past several years I have taken bicycle vacations.  You ride, camp and eat with other cyclists for a week in all parts of the country.  My very first ride I went by myself.  I was ok on my bike during the day, but at breakfast and dinners, which were included in the ride cost, I always felt like I was in school again.  I got my food, looked around, and wondered where I was going to sit.  Even as an adult, I had a bit of anxiety.  I quickly made friends and each day found it easier to sit and talk with the other riders.

I recently saw a segment by my favorite CBS Sunday Morning reporter, Steve Hartman, on this very topic.  Students at Boca High in Boca Raton, Florida formed a club after they noticed other students sitting by themselves during lunch.  The young man who started the club had also been new and remembered how hard it was to make new friends.  It’s especially difficult in high school, where cliques are prevalent. 

The name of the club is We Dine Together.  As another club member pointed out, just letting someone know you see them and want to listen to them makes a huge difference in their lives. 

As I usually do when I watch Steve Hartman’s segments, I got teary-eyed.  Which was ironic since I had just put drops in my eyes for my dry-eye condition.  Fake tears mixed with real ones!

It just goes to show you that no matter what your age, we all need to feel that we belong and others value us.  And any act, however small it may seem, makes a big difference.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

#435 I Have Officially Lost My Mind

My memory is horrible.  I used to “never forget a face” but now I meet someone and a few weeks later I forgot that I met them.  Names of people I know suddenly fly out of my head.  A few weekends ago I walked out of Ace Hardware, smiled at a young woman and then saw my nephew walking 20 feet behind her.  “Hi Aaron!” I said happily.  Then I turned and looked back at the woman, who looked at me like, “Who am I, chopped liver?”  It was Aaron’s girlfriend.  Ooops.  I managed to quickly say, “I’m not used to seeing you by yourself.”  To my defense, I had only been around her twice since last October and one of those times she was wearing a shark costume for Halloween. 

Recently, I drove home from work and as I turned into my driveway, I spotted a box on my front porch. The box had L.L. Bean on the side.  I didn’t remember ordering anything from L.L. Bean.  Earlier that week I had perused a Land’s End catalog.  Or was it L.L. Bean?  (You start questioning yourself.)  Did I order something by mistake?  I had looked up things on my phone.  These thoughts went through my head as I pulled into my garage. 

I have had the rare instance where I’ve seen a charge on my credit card statement and not remembered it, only to look for the receipt and then say, “Ohhhhh.”  I wondered if this would happen.  And if it did, I needed to see a doctor. 

After I retrieved the box, I saw the shipping label.  It was from my friend Tammy who lives in Florida.  She told me a couple weeks prior that she would send me some clothes she was getting rid of (she’s 6’3”).  I laughed out loud.  I really thought I had lost my mind.  I’m glad to see that, for now, it’s still in my head.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

#434 Always Go To The Funeral

My parents have subscribed to Reader’s Digest for approximately 20 years.  I have always enjoyed reading the small magazine.  It may be “uncool”, like I’ve heard people say about “CBS Sunday Morning”, but I love the stories and have garnered useful information. 

I’ve lived on my own for over 17 years, but my mom still gives me her “used” Reader’s Digests.  I have a stack of them on the bottom shelf of my bedside table.  I throw that and a copy of Guideposts in my gym bag and read them while I ride the stationary bike.  As a side-note, I also keep a couple copies of the Guideposts in my car to read while stuck in traffic to keep me calm. 

One Reader’s Digest story I read stuck with me.  I found the same article on the National Public Radio Website.  It’s titled “Always Go To The Funeral” by Deirdre Sullivan.  Deirdre talks about how her father always made her siblings go to viewings and funerals when they were kids.  He told them people would remember they had made the effort to go pay their respects.  And it’s just the right thing to do. 

The week before this past Christmas, I learned that the brother of one of my childhood classmates had died.  He was 46.  My parents are still friends with his father and his father’s second wife.  I had not seen Eric, my classmate, since his mother died around 10 years ago, and I attended that viewing. 

My parents mentioned that the viewing and funeral were scheduled for Dec. 27.  I had the week off but was “busy” running errands and getting ready for a quick trip to Nashville, Tennessee with my niece.  I thought about going, but decided I wouldn’t since I hadn’t seen him in forever, and I sent a sympathy card with my parents to give to him. 

When the day came, all I could think about was that article.  The phrase, “Always Go To The Funeral” kept running through my head.  I wasn’t that busy, was I?  But I had already sent the card, and he would think it was weird that I showed up after he already had my card.  I drove off to run another errand, but eventually turned the car around, changed into more presentable clothes, and set out to the viewing. 

It didn’t take that long to get there.  And it was a nice, sunny day for a drive.  My parents were surprised to see me.  I’m sure Eric was as well.  I didn’t stay long but we talked for a bit and I also saw his wife and one of his daughters, his father and stepmother. 

Was my being there a huge deal for Eric and his family?  Probably not.  I wasn’t trying to make a big statement.  I just wanted to be there, even for a short time, and let him know that I still value his friendship and I care about him.  Simple gestures are still important gestures.  I’m glad I went.  I hope you choose to go when the time comes.

Friday, April 14, 2017

#433 Change

The past few years I have frequented Aldi grocery stores.  They have good quality food and even better prices.  One of the reasons they have such low prices is their cart-rental system.  Their carts lock together and you “rent” one for your shopping time by putting in a quarter.  When you return the cart to the corral, you get your quarter back.  Simple.  And their parking lot is not littered with random carts. 

Occasionally when I am returning a cart, I’ll see another patron approach.  I’ll offer my cart and they offer a quarter.  Or the other way around.  It's a nice gesture.  

One Saturday morning as I returned my cart an older gentleman approached me to do the cart swap.  I waited for a moment as he fished around in his pants pocket for a quarter.  The sound of change rattling in his pocket brought back memories of my grandfathers, who always seemed to have change in their pockets.  I smiled as I took the quarter and then walked back to my car with tears in my eyes.  I suddenly missed my grandfathers. 

My mom’s father Ed died when I was ten.  I lost my other grandfather, Russell, when I was 20.  I have lovely memories of them both.  One, an artist/gas station owner and the other, a barber/farmer/school bus driver. 

Edmund Riedweg
Russell Godby
 Funny how the sound of change made me very aware of how life changes.  Hardly anyone keeps coins in their pockets anymore.  Or a comb in their front pocket.  Or carries a handkerchief.  The way of life that my grandfathers knew has passed.  Thankfully my memories of them are very much alive.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#432 The Day I "Snubbed" A Nordstrom

In researching my previous post, I read through my journal to get correct stats and came across something that happened around this same time that included similar people.  Let me tell you about it. 

It was late September 1997.  The Seattle Reign was nearing the end of pre-season and our strength and conditioning coach, Peter Shmock, wanted to celebrate.  He put together a dinner with our team and invited some of his friends.  I’m all about food, so I was in.  Peter mentioned it to me ahead of time and said a friend was coming who was one of the presidents of Nordstrom and that he was single.  I jokingly asked him, “Is this the dating game?” He said it wasn’t.  I also learned that my weight-gaining contest partner, Bryan, was coming and bringing a friend. 

I arrived at the restaurant and Peter told me to sit next to him.  I did and there happened to be an empty chair next to me that stayed empty for a while.  Others came in and took their places.  I don’t know if there was a plan for someone in particular to sit next to me.  When Bryan arrived with his three friends there was no room for them at our table, so they sat elsewhere. 

Eventually a tall, nice looking, mid-30s-looking man came in and Peter told him to sit next to me.  I was 28 and anyone in their 30s was close to 40 and seemed ancient. 

This man’s name was also Peter.  He was very nice and we chatted a bit about shoes (Nordstrom is the best place for shoes!), sports (he was 6’7” and told me he had played basketball at the University of Washington).  He told me he’d been to Indianapolis for the Final Four.  He also told me that he was one of the presidents of Nordstrom, along with his brothers.  That should have been a clue for me.  (Duh.)

As I talked to him, my mind was on Bryan, who I had crush on, and I was also trying to eat the ribs I ordered.  The following are direct quotes from my journal: “I ended up talking to him most of the time and didn’t get to eat much of my ribs.” “He’s nice, but I wanted to eat my food.”  I cringe every time I read that. 

Dinner was nice. Nordstrom Peter was nice.  Bryan was not really around me.  After dinner, Peter Shmock wanted me to stay and eat dessert but I declined (when have I ever not eaten dessert?!)  Nordstrom Peter left and then I left with one of my teammates. 

As we walked away from the restaurant, my teammate and I talked about Bryan and Nordstrom Peter, and then she commented that he was a Nordstrom.   OMG!  Nordstrom Peter was Peter Nordstrom, son of the founder of Nordstrom department store. 

I’m not one to like someone because of their name or how much money or power they have.  However, I did learn a lesson.  If a nice, tall guy wants to talk to you, forget about your food.  If the guy you have a crush on is not really acting like he’s interested in you, he is probably not interested in you. 
Maybe Peter Nordstrom sat by me because that was the only available chair.  Maybe he was talkative because he was just a nice person.  Maybe he had no interest in me whatsoever.  I will never know, because I basically blew him off. 

You can read my previous post to see how things with Bryan turned out.  What might have happened if I had acted more friendly/flirty toward Mr. Nordstrom?  Learn from me.  Don’t count someone out who is paying attention to you, even if it’s at the expense of your dinner.  He was very nice and good looking, but at the time I thought he was a tiny bit “old” for me.  (I looked him up - he’s 54 now so he’s only six years older than me.)  Give a guy a break when he’s paying attention to you instead of his three friends in another part of the restaurant. 


NOT Mrs. Nordstrom

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

#431 The Life Athlete (Yes, that means YOU)

 When most people look at me, they immediately think I’m an athlete.  And usually, they ask me if I play basketball/volleyball/softball/ or have rowed (yes, that happened once).  I’m tall and I suppose, fairly athletic-looking. 

In all my years of playing on teams, my coaches pushed my teammates and me to go harder, faster and give 110 percent.  No pain, no gain, right?  You have to break yourself down to build yourself up. 

After almost 20 years of Go! Go! Go! I was introduced to someone who had a completely different outlook on training.  His name was Peter Shmock. 

Peter was the strength and conditioning coach for the Seattle Reign, a team in the short-lived American Basketball League.  I was drafted in the inaugural 1996-97 year of the ABL and played with the Reign for two seasons. 

At the time, I had never heard of Peter.  Later, I learned he was a two-time Olympian in the shot put and an NCAA track and field All-American at the University of Oregon.  He had also worked with the Seattle Mariners and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Not too shabby!

My teammates and I came from high-caliber college teams and were used to high-intensity training.  We were surprised when Peter took a different approach.  Oh we still worked hard.  We just worked differently.  And he took a more individualized approach. 

The best example I have is when we ran outside on a track.  We started together and were told to run one lap.  After one lap, we were to wait until our heart rate reached a certain level, then we were to run another lap (and another, and so on).  We didn’t all stay together.  We wore heart-rate monitors and ran when we were really ready. 

He led us in yoga and meditation.  Others rolled their eyes or complained after practice.  Me, being somewhat lazy in nature, appreciated the “less is more” approach.  I was up for that! 

One of the funniest (and actually “funnest”) days was when we met Peter in a park.  He told us to follow him and do what he did.  Picture a group of 20-something women in sports bras and shorts chasing a man around a public park.  He ran for a while, then stopped and did pushups.  Ran again, then did dips on a bench.  We did side jumps up a hill.  We did all kinds of crazy things.  I loved it! 

Peter was also the only person in my life who succeeded in getting me to gain weight.  My college coaches tried for four years – weights, Ensure, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before I went to bed.  No luck.  How did Peter do it?  He tapped into my competitive nature and threw in a tall, good-looking guy. 

During my second year with the Reign, he told me he was working with a men’s basketball player from the University of Puget Sound who was recovering from plantar fasciitis surgery.  The player happened to be 6’10”.  Did I mention he was really good-looking?  And probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.  But I digress.

The contest was who could gain the highest percentage of body weight in about two months.  I supplemented my diet with Bear Valley Pemmican Fruit & Nut Bars (my first foray into a health food store), drank protein shakes and ingested creatine.  I also lifted weights (lots of power cleans!). 

In addition to ingesting massive amounts of food and shakes, Peter also wanted Bryan and me to work out together to improve our footwork and core strength.  We may have worked out a handful of times, since he lived in Tacoma, but it was very helpful. 

Our contest began August 22, 1997.  I weighed in at 165 lbs. and Bryan at 235 ½ lbs.  At the end of the allotted time (I finally weighed in Nov. 8), I topped out at 174 lbs. – the most in my entire life!  I don’t remember how much Bryan weighed, but I won.  The “prize” was dinner.  Which I thought would be the three of us, but Peter split after we both arrived.  We had a nice time, but that was it.  I never saw Bryan again.  Bummer. 

I finished out the season hovering around 172.  For the next year or so I fought to hold on to that weight and continued doing the same weight-lifting workouts.  I slowly returned to my fighting weight of 165.  I didn’t return to the Reign for the next season and mid-way through the league went bankrupt.  I eventually got a real job and didn’t have time for daily two-hour workouts. 

My philosophy now is that any amount of time spent “working out” is better than nothing.  My gym is next to my office, so that is very helpful.  I work out in the mornings during the week and do strength training at least two days a week and cardio the other days, which consists of either a stationary bike, walking (I gave up running for good last year), swimming or tennis.  In the warmer months, I also bike 30-40 miles on the weekends.  I stretch and do core exercises.  Sometimes I get up when the alarm goes off, sometimes I don’t.  When I don’t and I get to the gym with 20 or 30 minutes to do something, I do 20 or 30 minutes. 

So back to Peter.  Last year I started following him on his website and got regular motivational emails.  Right before Christmas I heard he had written a book, The Way of the Life Athlete, so I bought it.  I just finished it this week and highly recommend it.  He also has a website:  

You may think, “I’m not an athlete, so this doesn’t pertain to me.”  One of the quotes in Peter’s book sums it up.  Bill Bowerman, Peter’s track coach at Oregon, and one of the co-founders of Nike, said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”  We are meant to move and be active.  We want to feel good and be healthy. You can reap benefits at any level.  Go for a walk.  Cut the grass.  Blow the dust off that bicycle sitting in your garage.  You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.

And speaking of how you feel, pay attention to how your mind and body feels.  A recent email I received from Peter had another awesome quote from a friend of his.  “Exhaustion is not a status symbol.”  Our energy levels vary from day-to-day.  Pay attention!  You don’t have to power through to impress anyone.  Take it easy when you’re having a low energy day or not feeling your best.  And then ramp it up when you’re more energized.  Now, if you have low energy for a long period, maybe see a doctor.  But you’ll have those days now and then. 

Many thanks to Peter for his insight and wisdom in helping me, and many others, keep our minds and bodies moving in a positive direction. 

Ok, now get out there and live your best life as a life athlete.  And buy Peter’s book!