The Cat Box

You’ll always find something of interest in the Cat Box

Grinding It Out — August 1, 2013

Grinding It Out

Grindstone-300x241

How many times have you had to do something that was not particularly appealing but just plain had to be done? Stuff like this is usually important or you wouldn’t even consider doing it, so you’ve just got to get it done. That is one of those times when you’ve just got to put your nose to the stone and grind it out.

I recently heard this term from a guy who was considering a really difficult bike race with mega elevation gain. Somebody else was describing the difficulty of pieces of the ride and this guy said thoughtfully, “No, I can get through that. I am an extreme runner and I know how to just… grind… it… out.”

Since then I have been thinking about an individual’s anticipation and acceptance of just grinding it out. If you have ever done it you know how it’s going to be – really, really difficult. It’s going to be unpleasant. It’s going to hurt. But you know what to expect and you are sure you can do it, will do it, and will feel pretty darn good about it afterwards.

I usually think about this “grinding it out” when I am on my bike approaching one of those hills that go on forever at a grade that I know is going to be challenging for me. I get ready for complaining lungs and legs, but most preparation I need is for the challenges I will face inside my head. I frequently call upon the words that I have heard coaches and mentors say over the years. I use these words as a combination of prayer, meditation, and incantation; surprisingly to much success.

You can laugh, but “Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it” and “Quitters never win and winners never quit” have gotten me and my bike over some tough stretches. I might as well admit to chanting to myself on a long 7% grade “bulldogish hangontiveness” over and over. It comes from my junior high school principal (We were the Trexler Bulldogs) and flows nicely over the other “I can’t do this” voices.

I have now reached a place where I truly grasp the beauty of just grinding it out, and I can do it; albeit, at my own level. I am surprisingly happy about this and about knowing that everyone can grind it out at his or her own level and that someday we will all tire of our perceived levels and grind it out even further.

Strong Women — May 24, 2013

Strong Women

Step back in time to 1940 and think of the statement “She’s a strong woman.” Just what did that mean back then? It may have been a positive statement lauding this woman’s ability to overcome adversity, or it may have meant that she was outspoken; overstepping the bounds of demure womanhood.

Fast forward to the 60s and “She’s a strong woman” would probably have made her a bra burner.
Either way, neither of these scenarios was expressing anything about physical strength.

Back in the 40s it was considered to be very unattractive for women to sweat. Searching the internet for women’s fitness photos from the 1940s I found this.

Unrealistic perhaps
Unrealistic perhaps

Then in the 60s the vibrating belt that claimed to “melt your fat away” became a mainstay in women’s spas and health clubs. It was thought that the jiggling would disrupt and melt away the fat.
We actually had one of these things in our house and it did jiggle your fat and it tickled.

Does anyone remember this?
Does anyone remember this?

Now fast forward to 2013. I know some women who possess superior physical strength. I take a core strengthening class on Sundays and the instructor for this class is insanely strong.

Karen1

Karen is the most positive, friendly individual you will meet. She smiles and chats as she leads the class through squats and lunges and push ups and crunches. Then we add some dumbbells and run through that set again. Her classes are 90% women sweating attractively and happily.

Karen3

Karen and her class make me a much stronger woman mentally as well as physically. This class is hard work and even though I have done it a dozen times I really have to push myself mentally to wrap my head around what Karen is so nicely asking us to do physically.

Karen4

Isn’t it fabulous to live in this time when women’s physical strength is so encouraged and appreciated? Lets take advantage of this opportunity to sweat and get strong together!

Reason 421 Why I Love Denver — April 21, 2013

Reason 421 Why I Love Denver

Yesterday, 4/20, I planned to visit my favorite urban garden, take a Zumba class at Studio Thrive Fitness, and ride my bike downtown to investigate the 4/20 celebration.  I checked off the first two items on my list, but at the last minute decided instead to get on my bike and head the other way to find a place to get on the Clear Creek trail from my new house. Two people and a dog were shot at that pot smoking 4/20 celebration. Really? Come on people. What the H E double toothpicks is going on here?

Denver is my all-time favorite city, and to honor her I offer here reason number 421 why I love Denver.

My favorite urban garden, Sunnyside Farm in North Denver opened yesterday so I stopped by. I wanted to see what they had to offer, but I was especially interested in some neighborhood eggs. I was greeted by a smiling garden crew, spent a few minutes perusing the breads and jams and fresh greens grown in their newly constructed hoop house, and departed this happy garden with a dozen browns and some fresh-picked greens.

Experiencing neighborhood agriculture renews me, and luckily there are plenty of agricultural endeavors growing up in neighborhoods all over Denver. Urban gardens are a wonderful place to meet the people who live around you. You don’t just grow vegetables in a garden; you grow relationships too. Studies have shown that urban gardens create an oasis of peace in the hubbub of the city that reconnects people back to the earth. And no matter how crotchety or detached a person is, “garden magic” transforms every individual who ventures between the hoed rows.

Our Denver urban agriculture basket holds fauna as well as flora and goats and chickens live among us all over the city.

ChargingChicken

I peddled past a house in Arvada with a guy working under his car and a couple of chickens pecking the dirt around his feet. Why did that sight make me feel so serenely happy?

Goats

I set out on my bike yesterday looking for a route to the Clear Creek bike path and came upon a small herd of goats grazing contentedly not two blocks from my place. Why do goats and chickens and gardens make me feel so good? Why does discovering a bucolic pocket in the metro area warm my heart? Because animals are therapeutic, and they don’t shoot you.

This is Denver; pot friendly, garden friendly, chicken friendly, goat friendly and bike friendly. To honor our fine town, I suggest a teeny toke and a trip around your neighborhood on foot or on bicycle wheels. You will love what you find there. I guarantee it.

Family Stories — March 9, 2013

Family Stories

I am going to see my family soon and will spend time talking about old times. These old times can be tricky and the way the stories develop and conclude, depend upon who is telling them. Details are all about perspective and current conditions it would seem.

My perspective is different from the overriding perspective of the group because they all live near each other and socialize on a regular basis. The old family stories have evolved for them as a group even though each one individually wonders how the group got it so changed from the actual event or incident that they remember.

My little brother, the baby of the family, turned fifty last year. So as we are all a little long in tooth these days the recollections could be a little less reliable; especially after dinner, over coffee, after wine.

kidsleepingattable

It will be interesting even though inaccurate. Luckily I’ll be there to set everybody straight. Wish me luck.

The Life In Your Years — March 7, 2013

The Life In Your Years

I just read a posting on a sort of “senior” website asking what do you see when you pass a 76-year-old woman on the street. The answer they were looking for was “nothing,” you don’t notice her at all. To that I say “so what?”

When I walk down the street I don’t notice anyone who is representative of any age; unless they stand out for some odd reason. Most of the time a person stands out is because their “difference” is apparent, and may I say appreciated by this girl. People’s more extreme individual traits do catch my eye.

Aside from some ageism in the workplace (and the degree of that varies between occupations) I believe that there has never been a better time for ageing in this country. And the Baby Boom that occurred in those years from 1946 to 1964 here in the US could have had something to do with that. There is power in numbers and the Baby Boomers are 76 million strong.

We Boomers benefit from the availablity of modern drugs to keep us going. Happily, some of us also spend time exercising and enjoying a healthy diet.

In 1900, life expectancy for much of the industrialized world was under 50. Now one hundred and some years later we are living well into our 70s and 80s and our ageing accomplishments are twofold. First we are living longer. I don’t know this, but I bet at the beginning of our living longer we were simply living longer. These days we live longer with substantially improved quality of life for those additional years.

Abraham Lincoln said it a long time ago, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” It is my crusade to put more life into each day, and if I can inspire anyone else to join me, I invite you to come along. Let’s get moving.

Making It Happen — February 19, 2013

Making It Happen

Woman2SWomanI have arrived and every experience I have had up until this moment was in preparation for this moment. Now it is my responsibility to take this gift and do something fabulous with it.

What do we have but this moment? What have you got to lose?

A woman cannot sit around and feel sorry for herself. Those negative thoughts produce negative energy that surround her and keep her from finding happiness. Exercise really helps. A plan really helps too. If a woman makes herself get up and do something that she may not believe she is capable of she won’t believe how much power that will give her.

When I see a woman who breaks through her fear and gets to the gym or really starts walking and doing sit ups and push-ups and putting her valuable time into herself my heart rejoices. You see a new-found strength in her face and in the way she stands. She feels her god or goddess-given power. If she keeps going you will see her absolutely glow. We have all experienced the power of our own and our sisters’ successes. It is so empowering.

This is where a plan comes in very handy. If a woman formulates a plan for making herself more important in her own life and for making herself into the woman she would love to be, it becomes more possible that this will happen. Not everyone in her life will support her in this endeavor for many and various reasons which do not matter. She needs to find some support and we all need to be available to each other in these our efforts to blossom.

I’m thinking so much about women in my life who are stepping out and others who are thinking about it but are still fearful. I have been crippled by fear and will never criticize another woman for her fear. I hate receiving advice from other women when I am too scared to hear it. I will always be there though to lend support when someone has taken their first steps.

Some of us are here to help each other at the gate, but I feel more confident helping my sisters through the turns once they begin taking their own steps. We are all here to help each other and bring our own power to do that. We each have our own gifts that we bring to the world and our own way of helping each other bring theirs. We can let our powers lay dormant or we can bring them out for each other.

Moving Back Into the Light — January 3, 2013

Moving Back Into the Light

I have to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time. Truth be told, I have been in a loooong black tunnel for the past 6 years while life rained shit down upon me. Really, so many bad things happened that I curled up like a pill bug touched again and again by the twisted hands of fate.

Only now can I look at those days with anything but fear as the bright circle at the end of the tunnel gets bigger and bigger.

Into the Light
Into the Light

And only now do I have the clear vision to see the many blessings I received during those days of blind fear and angst.

But wait a minute. Something I read on Oprah’s website http://www.oprah.com yesterday made me think that perhaps I prolonged my own agony by living in it as if it was my only option.

Oprah was relating the difficulties she experienced ending her fabulously successful television show and she advised, “Step out of your ego so you can recognize the truth. As soon as I did that, I was able to see the role I had played in creating “my circumstances,” without blaming other people. And—bingo!—I realized that all the noise about my struggle was a reflection of my personal angst and fear. “

Angst and fear. I had always considered myself a risk-taker and an explorer of life, but after getting hit pretty hard several times in a row, I lost my courage and my faith in myself. I began to live in darkness instead of light and to feel weak instead of strong. I was thrashing about for answers believing them not to exist. Oh, and those blessings I mentioned; they were very real and huge, and I let go of their power to clutch onto my pain.

I have to mention Oprah again because she uses her power to bring goodness – I see it all the time. She attracts people with inner personal power so people whose voices I need to hear appear in her magazine and on her website.

In the January issue of O there is a piece by Martha Beck titled “Take a Flying Leap.” She says, “When you crash, you’ll just keep getting better at the pop-up. You’ll live through every leap except the big one at the end. And even if you never leap, you’ll die anyway.” Nice. You can find more from Martha at http://marthabeck.com/.

I have also discovered a blog by a man named Jonathan Wells that is helping me to get moving on my path again by creating momentum. He says, “Taking consistent action toward your goals is the best way to build momentum. That means that taking action will get easier and easier as you go along. Eventually the actions you take will require much less effort. You’ll begin to enjoy your activities because you’ll feel more empowered and confident and you’ll have momentum on your side.” Check out Jonathan’s blog at http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/the-power-of-momentum-2. His Breakthrough Strategy Coaching says, “You’re not here to break even. You’re here to break through.” Fantastic!

It is great when others speak their own personal truth that comes from their own personal experience. I hear and feel these words from these individuals. I also feel ready to work toward my goals of aging powerfully and gracefully and helping others to do the same. I am signed up for the 2013 Denver Century Ride http://denvercenturyride.com/ on June 15th. I am training for the 100-mile course that goes up over Lookout Mountain.

Up and Over Lookout Mountain
Up and Over
I stopped at Salvagetti Bike Shop in North Denver last night for new cleats for my shoes and took my first spinning class in four years. I am moving back into the light.

Shine On — November 16, 2012

Shine On

I recently read an article in Huffington post about 14 things that 50-somethings are happy to no longer stress about. I was surprised by one woman’s comment that she no longer stresses about wearing make – up or how her hair looks.

In another article I read the inspiring story of a woman who coming back from a debilitating disease was excited about feeling well enough to put on some makeup, fix her hair, and wear something special for her husband.  She felt good enough to get some shine on.

In my 20s, selling advertising in Houston, I often heard my sales manager say, “Fake it till you make it.” He encouraged us to shine with confidence and success even if we didn’t own it yet, because people were buying us as well as the product we were selling.

Turn it on and keep it on!

Is the beauty of age that you no longer have to bring your shine?

I personally enjoy an experience more when I feel confident about bringing my best self, so it doesn’t make sense to me that a benefit of aging is to no longer need to bring your shine. And are we to conclude that when applied, the mature shine doesn’t shine as brightly to the world as a more youthful shine. That is as counterintuitive to me as that old hill we supposedly go over as we mature.

The road of life that takes us from birth to death brings plenty of twists and turns but I can’t imagine that we reach a point where it all turns south. How would you identify your pinnacle day? “Yes, I remember the day well. April 16, 2007 was the very best day of my life and then I went over the hill.”

Ridiculous.

Keep going

I imagine life’s road ever so slightly inclined uphill all the way – just to keep us striving and reaching and growing. It’s got bumps, holes, and long flat stretches to be sure, but it is mostly a slight incline all the way to the very end when we make that final pass into the Great Unknown. Please remember to use your blinker when you make that final pass.

The road of life is a design from which to shine and not a voluntary turnoff onto steep decline. So always remember to shine on up the road and to give others a toot to remind them to turn their shine on too.

The Least Obese Again! — October 29, 2012

The Least Obese Again!

In October 2010 I blogged about an article in 5280 Magazine entitled “The Last Lean Americans” which reported Colorado’s obesity rates at about 15 to 20 percent to be the lowest in the nation.

Well, Colorado has done it again in 2012. It’s not surprising that the state with a population as active as Colorado’s would have the lowest percentage of obese individuals. These Pew findings are from surveys conducted with 177,663 U.S. adults from January through June 2012 for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Gallup calculates respondents’ Body Mass Index using the standard formula based on their self-reported height and weight. The World Health Organization defines a normal BMI range as being 18.50 to 24.99. It labels BMIs of 25.00 to less than 30.00 as overweight/pre-obese, and those with BMIs of 30.00 or higher are considered obese.

An average of 62.8% of all American adults were overweight or obese in the first half of 2012 — 36.3% were overweight and 26.2% were obese, which is pretty much unchanged from 2011.

Being the least obese sounds good, but our percentage of “overweight to obese” is 55%, which although is better than the almost 63% national average still represents pretty many people who are not as healthy as they could be.

fitness brings happiness

An October 25th article posted in Huffington Post  reports that obesity rates for the US middle aged (45-65) population  are on the rise.  Speaking of “on the rise,” the rate of STDs caught by men in this middle age category has more than doubled over the past 10 years, that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though that story is better saved for another day, I need to just say that middle aged men may want to be working out more and making out less. I’m just sayin’.

this could be you

Back to Colorado. Let’s think about next year’s Pew Report on Obesity. We could just continue to wallow around that 55% mark or we could mesmerize the rest of the country and the world with our level of fitness and healthy good looks. Ladies, I invite you to explore Lean.Clean.Mean on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Lean.Clean.Mean. Total inspiration. Guys, check out the blogs and the workouts here http://www.mensfitness.com/training.

Whatever you end up doing begins with a single step. It’s the hardest part sometimes but one step leads to another and before you know it you’ve gone around the block. Use it and lose it. I’m off to the gym. Later.

Ladies Who Lift — October 5, 2012

Ladies Who Lift

I was at my gym doing some bench presses when I glanced over and saw a woman who looked a little older than me doing some bent over rows and jotting down notes in a worn black and white composition notebook. I have been keeping an eye out for women in my age group at the gym and there are not many, but a few that appear to be pretty regular and quite serious about their regimens.

This lady is serious

After I completed my sets I approached this lady with beautiful white curls and asked her name. Nancy smiled and stopped her rows. I said “No, please don’t stop what you are doing. I don’t want to interrupt your workout. I would just like to ask you a few questions.” As she took up her task again she told me that she had been lifting regularly for 15 years and asked me the same question. We chatted for a short time as she completed her reps and I moved on.

Interacting with other people during my workout is new to me. I usually smile and say a word to the folks at the front desk when I come in and again when I leave. Not having a handle on gym etiquette, I just keep to my own business.  It’s a solitary mission and always has been.

As of this moment I have officially decided to break that pattern and start talking with other ladies who lift. I learned in our short discourse that regular workouts are as important to Nancy as they are to me and that gives me a bit more determination in my pursuit of graceful and powerful aging. I am looking forward to this adventure in reaching out and the discovery it will certainly bring. So let’s all lift one (a barbell that is) to building support as we build muscle with the ladies who lift.