Archive for August, 2010

Fitness Confession

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

     ~Rumi

I actually really enjoy exercise, but I am an idiot.

I was a high school and college jock, a swimmer, and pretty much grew up in the water. When I stopped swimming after college, I started gaining weight. When I start swimming again, I lose weight. It’s a pretty simple equation, really.

Of course, with an adult life and priorities, I can never again spend the 3 ½ to 4 hours a day in the water I spent as a young adult, but still, I can easily invest an hour in my health and sanity, and most importantly – I really like doing it.

I also like walking. Hiking. Bicycling. Yoga. Weightlifting. Rowing and kayaking. The only thing I don’t like is cardio machines – they bore me silly – although I can talk myself into rowing or doing elliptical for an intense 20-30 minutes in a pinch.

Anyway, this spring, in the onslaught of knee problems, bronchitis, vacation, and project ramp-up, I stopped swimming and never got back into it. *whacks self on the forehead* That was pretty stupid because a project like the one I’m on now really requires some extra stress management help.

As a result I regained a pants size, am regularly chewing my nails to nubs, and am through the roof with stress and anxiety. Of course, that kind of stress is normal a month before go-live on a project. I’m not sure even running half marathons would cure that.

Some friends have started an informal accountability group online, on twitter, hashtag #akmoveit. Our goal is to exercise at least 3x a week for 45 min. For each session missed, we forfeit $3 to the pool. We haven’t really determined time period or an empiric measure for most consistent exerciser, but whoever that person is will win it. (I have no illusions it will be me!)

So, right now, I’m walking again. And I may do a yoga session or two if I can find a piece of carpet that’s not covered with boxes or pet hair. Once I get settled in my new place, I’ll join the neighborhood Y and start swimming again – the Y is close, the hours are long and the facility quite nice.

Really, I have no excuse for not doing something so very, very good for me, especially since it’s an activity that I actually rather like. As I said, I’m an idiot.

Quote thanks to the amazing & well read Karen S. Thanks!

Posted on Thursday, August 26th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: exercise, health | 4 Comments »

Religion in the Workplace

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld Christian-based aid organization World Vision’s practice of hiring – and retaining – only those who affirm the organization’s statement of faith.

Three former employees filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination when World Vision fired the employees after determining they no longer believed in the deity of Jesus Christ nor in the Trinity.

The legal issues in this case are many and complex:

  • whether religious-based groups have the right to hire only those of their own faith
  • whether religious-based nonprofits that receive government funds should be able to hire only those of their own faith when using government funds
  • whether employees who are performing satisfactorily in a secular capacity should face the possibility of losing their job solely because of religious beliefs

Dissenting judge Marsha Berzon writes that Title VII “makes a narrow exemption for institutions devoted to prayer and religious instruction, but expanding that exemption to nonprofit organizations tips the balance “toward a society in which employers could self-declare as religious enclaves from which dissenters can be excluded despite their ability to do the assigned secular work as well as religiously acceptable employees.”

World Vision is a Federal Way organization; I drive past it when I go to visit my sister. I’ve had friends apply for work there unsuccessfully because of the religion issue.

My personal opinion? Even a private organization is subject to equal opportunity employment hiring law, unless the job specifically requires professional practice of a particular religious faith. A pastor or director of religious education? Sure, they must be Christian, and of the right make and model. But the church secretary and accountant? It shouldn’t matter one bit.

The same should apply to organizations like World Vision. If they’re hiring a missionary to spread a specific type of Christian gospel, then by all means, a Christian statement of faith is relevant. If they need an IT professional, a project manager, a logistics assistant, again, the faith issue shouldn’t matter, and under EEO law, should be an off limits topic. The use of federal funds should make that process even more rigorous.

I realize that’s an overly simplistic view of the world, and that the law is far more complicated than that. Still, I don’t want my tax dollars being spent on humanitarian support that come a side of proselytizing or prejudicial, discriminatory hiring practices – I’d prefer they went to strictly secular organizations instead.

You see, I don’t believe America is a Christian nation. (Sorry, Christian friends!) I passionately believe we’re a pluralistic nation that happens to have a Christian majority – which I am only marginally a part of – but we are also a nation with a strong commitment to freedom, tolerance and mutual respect.

Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Jeri
Under: rant, religion | 6 Comments »

My Dating Allergy

I know I’ve mentioned a time or two before that I am violently allergic to dating. It just seems profoundly unappealing.

A couple of months ago, I talked about my relationship status, and came to the conclusion it could best be defined as “friend”. Or, if you prefer, “independent”.

I’m watching a few of my real life and online friends go through the process of dating again, and frankly it looks unpleasant from the outside. Dating sites, uncomfortable dates, miscommunication, friends with benefits, bad sex, good sex but no call, and just generally playing the game.

New (but sure to be longtime) friend and kindred spirit Frances writes about this in her post hilariously titled Men Want Sex. And My Refusal to Become a Moose. She says, ” A few of us hold out, thinking that reason and humor and genuine affection is really what the “good” ones want.” Damn straight, I do! Oh, wait, she was talking about men. ;) Seriously, that’s *me*, too. I don’t play hard to get, I have no clue about the game and I opt out!

Not to mention that as I see it, of the couple of hundred adults I know, it breaks down like this:

  • 70% or so are married or in long term relationships

  • 10% are gay or lesbian, and see above
  • 10% are hot, brilliant, funny, interesting women who are either looking or not looking, variously
  • 9% are attractive, brilliant, funny, interesting men who are completely uninterested and even actively avoidant of women, relationships and commitment (although some aren’t averse to sex if they can get it)
  • 1% is open to a relationship but the night nurse at the psych ward won’t let him use the phone to call Courtney Love anymore

Seriously – many women remain eternally hopeful, but I only know one or two men who have not pretty much given up and become hermits. These are not good odds. :)

As I’ve said, I find the concept of dating bizarre from my mid-life perspective. I don’t have the patience for it, the capacity to play the games, or any tolerance for idiocy. I’d much rather spend a wonderful, comfortable evening with good friends of either gender, sharing good food, drinks, laughs and camaraderie and go home alone, than spend an awkward, painful evening with a near-stranger that might or might not end in uncomfortable sex and a nearly negligible chance of a call back in the future.

In the process, I build a life that I love with people who are my family of choice. If by chance I happen to stumble over a friend that surprises me, who makes me think about romance and a different kind of relationship, that’s an added bonus. I’m not looking for it; I’m not averse to it. (I’m probably way too busy for it!) Either way my life is enriched by great friends and time spent being truly myself.

Posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: friends, rant | 11 Comments »

The Nature of Grief

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.
          ~Kenji Miyazawa

This week my Alaskan friends and colleagues mourn the passing of lives lost in last week’s terrible company plane crash. There will be memorial services, celebrations of life, small gatherings, tears, stories and many, many hugs.

I’m not there, instead, I’m back home in Seattle. While I’m deeply saddened at so many amazing lives cut short, I’m also reflecting on the nature of grief. This post is more personal than obituary in nature.

For me, and for so many of my friends, the past couple of years have been amazingly difficult. We’ve lost parents, siblings, homes, jobs and I – I’ve lost my husband. Grief has touched us all, a nightmare time of trying to find our way in the dark.

There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.
          ~Leon Bloy

Everyone’s grieving is different. Some collapse in tears, some curl up in a ball, some get angry, some march on stoically and some try to take care of everyone else. (In case anyone could possibly be confused on this point, I’m one of the latter.) There’s no one right way to express loss, to be sad, to ‘do’ grief – there’s only the way each of us figures it out as we go, groping in the dark.

And yet, being a caretaker type doesn’t mean that my loss doesn’t hurt. Intensely. It just means I’m more concerned with taking care of everyone else’s potential pain and discomfort than I am with expressing or dealing with any sorrow or grief of my own. My role, as I see it, is to keep my life, my family, and the various enterprises I manage moving forward smoothly and agreeably. Sure, we can briefly acknowledge human frailty and work/life balance, but in the long run, we keep going because that’s all I know how to do.

And keeping on keeping on becomes a habit. It’s not dishonest, you know, when I say with a self-deprecating smile, “It’s ok, it’s been a while, it doesn’t really bother me to bring it up.” Just talking about Bryan in casual conversation isn’t all that difficult, although it’s been a whole hell of a lot harder journey than I typically acknowledge.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
          ~William Shakespeare

So yeah – I will admit that I understate it. A lot. Grief is supremely sneaky and overwhelmingly hard, and there are times when the sorrow and the anguish and the loss punch me in the gut so painfully I forget how to breathe. There are dark nights when I wake up in in a cold, lonely bed and bargain, dry-eyed, with a distant and unresponsive god for it to have been just a nightmare. (He/she doesn’t answer.)

Thanks to my beloved friends and family members who have been there at any time, day or night, when the unbearable details of grief have overwhelmed me. You’ve helped me preserve what little tatters are left of my sanity and I am forever grateful. You are my evidence that it was not, actually, a nightmare after all.

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.
         ~Marcus Tullus Cicero

And for those that mourn the passing of Dana Tindall, Corey Tindall, William Phillips and Senator Ted Stevens, I wish you the same kind of love, friendship, family and caring I’ve had to carry me through my loss. Nothing on earth can make this tough time any easier, but the support of loved ones can make it more bearable.

Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: grief | 1 Comment »

Care and Feeding of your Extrovert

My excellent friend and perennial Internet crush Eric tweeted an interesting article on how to be friends with an introvert. It’s definitely food for thought.

It requires a companion piece, though, on “Care and feeding of your extrovert.” Or, “Extrovert – narcissistic and needy?”

Those on the extroverted end of the continuum (like me) tend to require a little patience from those who are, well, not of the same persuasion. Still, we’re worth it – adopt an extrovert and you may find you have a friend for life!

Talkative and expressive. Outgoing people are naturally talkative and emotionally, physically expressive. Their dynamic range is considerable; they talk with their hands, their arms, their whole body. Not only do they enjoy talking, they require it for their sanity; when things are crazy, they verbally process and analyze issues and questions of the day. This need for verbal processing, for someone to talk to, sometimes makes extroverts seem a bit needy.

Enjoy hugs and affection. Extroverted people tend to be more casually physically affectionate. They casually hug, and touch you on the arm, the shoulder, the hand, while talking. They may walk a little too close, even sit right next to you. To them, this creates camaraderie, while to an introvert, it’s an invasion of personal space.

Prefers people to toys. Extroverts almost always prefer people to toys, and when they do enjoy those toys, it’s within the context of social implementation. When they indulge in the latest phone and the latest camera, they’re using ‘em to connect with people. You’re not very likely to find an extrovert choosing a book over a social outing, or online gaming over a dinner party.

Are interested in new people and places. Extroverts enjoy meeting new people and mingling in groups — the same kind of scenario that strikes your average introvert as fairly painful. They also tend to choose a new restaurant, a new club, or a new travel destination over revisiting the tried, true and familiar.

Extroverts find identity & energy in social contact. An extrovert takes Descartes one step further – the introvert’s mantra is “I think, therefore I am” but the extrovert believes “I interact, therefore I am.” Social interaction provides the extrovert with validation, energy and justification and when he/she can’t find someone to talk to, verbally process with, it can be uncomfortable and frustrating.

Of course, friends of all personality types can enjoy spending quality time together (often over pizza and beer), enjoying music, sports or the outdoors, or other common interests. It is especially important to train an extrovert well, keep them from jumping up on you and on your furniture, and have their hips and joints checked regularly by your veterinarian be patient with them.

Note: this post is dedicated to my many fine introverted friends. You know who you are. :)

Posted on Sunday, August 15th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: communication, health | 5 Comments »