Category Archives: Health

City Life

Charlie 13 weeks

My dog isn’t fat anymore.

He nuzzles his velvety muzzle against my neck promptly at 05:36 every morning. When I tell him to go lay down, he wanders around briefly before jumping on my bed. By 06:00 we are getting our exercise.

Normally, I would say we are taking a walk, but really, I’m just trying to keep him from killing himself. He lunges at every moving thing, except for trucks and mopeds, both of which he is deathly afraid.

If a dog across the street stares at him, he dislocates my shoulder. If an old lady clutches her Yorkie more tightly, he jumps at her. I’ve started taking our walks earlier, and avoiding well-known dog routes, in the attempt to avoid lawsuits.

My labrador was raised as a lazy country dog, and as such, he is completely bewildered by City Culture. City life means structure and discipline, two things at which I excel when it comes to Crossfit and marathon running but fail miserably when it comes to puppies and children. I console myself with the knowledge that someday I am going to be the most indulgent (*awesome) Oma the world has seen–as long as my offspring make it safely to adulthood.

We have moved from a country house that was dark and secluded, to a city apartment that is both bright and quirky.

When my labrador drops a ball at one end of the hallway, it rolls down to the other end.  My daughter and I had a hell of a time trying to find the most symmetrical furniture arrangement in a room where each wall has a different length and angle.

I still don’t know how to hang the pictures.

Our new apartment gives you the slightly dizzy sensation of living onboard a perpetually listed ship. It is one of the charms of living in an old building.

It is home.

Something about the doors reminds me of my grandma’s house, or maybe it’s the fact that after nine years of living in Germany, this is the first place I’ve seen with closets. The spires of two churches and the warped red roofs of the Altstadt fill the frame of my window. Everything we need, and don’t need, is within walking distance.

Slowly, we’re adjusting to the ever-present traffic; the antiseptic smell of the dental clinic below; and the damn pigeons that defile our little balcony. It is a constant war against pigeon poop up there.

Garbage goes out more frequently in the new apartment, or we are swarmed with gnats. For some reason, forks are a scarcity in our house, and need to be hand washed after every use; and every person who calls this apartment ‘home’ has to remember their keys.

The one who has most quickly adjusted to our new life is our fluffy little dog. He prances perfectly down the street on a loose lead every morning and like clockwork, shits by the steps of the church, which is housed in the ground floor of our building. I’ve learned to bring two baggies with me, because he frequently likes to leave something extra in front of the liquid smoke shop.

City living means the kids have easy access to swimming and the mall (very important for summer). I went for five days without driving my car, and nobody starved or actually died of boredom. And we can spend time with friends, without a major road trip involved.

Discipline is hard. Structure is hard. But with those things comes a certain freedom. And like any worthy endeavor such as weight loss, exercise or good health, the rewards are worth the effort.

So, we will HTFU, as our coach says, and press on in this new city life.

Now if I can just explain it to Charlie, when I take him to Doggy Integration School.


Maintenance

A mealy bug fell from my running shoe, as I clapped the pair together. It made me wonder if my writer’s brain was also starting to decompose, due to inactivity.

With my integration course over, I’ve found myself with a 3 month backlog of housework.

When we rented this house, it was perfect for us: a big yard, nice countryside, enough compartments to stick each kid and canine into.

But I live in a place where you could play golf on the hay fields, and with my schedule, I’m lucky to get to the grocery store before they close.

So, we’re moving to the city where most things are within walking distance and our yard includes miles of trails, maintained by other people. I will have a small balcony where I can kill helpless plants, and each kid can escape to his or her own room, or with the threat of a new Paleo Lifestyle, downtown to the ice cream cafe.

I’m pretty sure it’s written in a book somewhere that matter decays over time.

Houses, running shoes, gardens, friendship, love. If you let something go unattended, nature will do its damnedest to turn it back to dust again.

Maintenance doesn’t always require a ball gown and makeup. Sometimes you have to wear rubber gloves and fight the urge to vomit.

You walk through messes made by other people, so you clean it up and open the window and breathe in the air and admire how fresh things look again.

Maintenance requires sweat and heart and soul.

Disrepair requires nothing.

But when you tend something truly well, it gives you an intimate look at the thing; and if you’re attentive, you can enjoy it in a way that fills the soul.

It’s time to experience the beauty of maintenance.

 


Pattraporn, machst du keine Diät!

*Achtung! Mein deutsch ist schlecht. Wirklich. Wirklich. Wirklich schlecht. Entschuldigung Sie mich bitte!

Meine blog post heute ist für meine neue Freundin Pattraporn. Sie ist eine schöne Frau aus Thailand. Sie ist lustig, freundlich und sehr intelligent. Aber, das Problem ist, dass sie immer sagt, ‘Ich bin fett. Ich mache Diät.”

Das ist falsche, Pattraporn. Du solltest nicht Diät machen. Nein. Du musst nicht Diät machen. Diäten sind für Menschen die zu Hochzeiten oder Scheidung Gericht gehen.

Das Wort ‘Diät’ macht mich wollen in einer dunklen ecke verstecken und essen eine ganze Schokolade Kuchen.

Auf Englisch, “Diet” ist gleich “die” was bedeutet ‘sterben.’

Stimmt!

Meine berate:

  • keine Diäten! du musst eine Art zu essen für dein ganzen leben finden.
  • du solltest viel essen: Gemüse, Fleisch, etwas Obst. wenn du hungrig bist, essen etwas gesundes, natürliche Lebensmittel.
  • manchmal, etwas süß essen: Geburtstags, Umzug Parties, Freitags:) und so weiter. Das ist okay.
  • Wirfst die Waage in den Müll: Gewichte ist nicht wichtig. Du solltest gesund sein.
  • Denkst du positiv–nie negativ. Jedermann kann ein gesundes leben haben, aber verändern beginnt in der kopf.
  • macht sport. Ja! laufen, Pilates, yoga, karate, wandern, windsurfen auf dem Brombachsee, einkaufen;) Crossfit (der beste)

Jeder Teil deines Lebens ist verbunden: deine Meinung, Körper und Geist.

Jetzt ist mein kopf leer. Ich gehe ins Bett. Am Morgen ich habe Deutsche schule (danke Gott! meine deutschen freunden sagen).  Ab Mai kann ich über meine ersten deutschen blog post lachen–oder es löschen.


Arschlöcher gibt es überall: A Letter to my Critic

Dear “TonyT,”

Thank you for reading my blog. You would have received my response twice already, had you given a valid email address.

If you had come up to me on the street and uttered those comments, particularly the abusive words aimed at my kids, I probably would have pepper sprayed you and called the police. If, however, you had a rational argument, I would have been happy to discuss it.

I can understand that to the outsider my blog might look shallow at times. That is deliberate. The details of my 20-year marriage are private, and to protect our family, I chose not to elaborate. This blog is about finding peace, contentment and overall health. 

Because your IP address is from Washington, I’m assuming everything you know about my situation comes from the blog. Likewise everything I know about you comes from your comments. So, if that’s the basis of our discussion, let me see if my estimation of you is accurate:

Your marriage was perfect, until your wife became ego-centric because of Crossfit. When you asked her to stop, she chose Crossfit over you.

Here is a life lesson: there are assholes everywhere.

They are in Crossfit, they are in step aerobics, they are in Zumba, they are in line at Wal-mart, they are at the table next to you at IHOP, they leave dirty coffee cups in the kitchenette at work, they are Democrats and Republicans and atheists and conservative religious zealots, they even go to Disneyland.

Go to any country in the world, and you will find an asshole. 

A wife who leaves a healthy, loving marriage because she feels she’s ‘better than’ her husband is an asshole.

You have been wounded, and I am sorry for that. I don’t like to see anyone in pain. But if we allow anger to take over, it will ruin us. It will destroy our personality, our character and our potential for doing good in this world.

Hatred is a fire that feeds on itself–and no one should live that way.

Life should be a balanced thing: holistically healthy.

It’s what I wish for people everywhere, and it’s the ultimate goal of my writing.

Peace, TonyT. Seek it. 


Handicapped

“I’m handicapped?”

“Well…yeah mom, technically.”

“Oh,” she said, sitting back in her wheelchair, “I guess I don’t see myself that way.”

For all the ways my mom drives me crazy, her vision of herself is something I admire.

As I’m running this momentary gauntlet, with all its painful, unexpected surprises, I sometimes lose sight of the person I want to be, as well as the person I AM at the moment.

And while it’s okay to feel beaten down from time to time, it’s important to get back up. We see people all the time resigning to life and settling for less than they’d hoped.

There are no excuses good enough to keep a determined person from achieving goals.

If Crossfit is part of your life, then you’ll go to the (insanely) early class, because it’s the only time of ‘day’ you can go. If you want to run a marathon, then the weather has absolutely nothing to do with your running schedule. If you want to spend time with your kids, then you will MAKE the time for them, even if you have to literally write their names on your calendar.

What is your goal?

Is it to be strong? To weigh less? To gain muscle? To be happy? To be smarter? To have a job you’re passionate about? To love more?

No matter what the goal, no being or entity can achieve these things for you.

It’s okay to fall when life trips you: the important thing is to pick yourself up, bandage your knees and get your feet back on the trail.

Keep the vision of yourself in the forefront of your mind.

And keep moving.

 


Take the Yoke

KB Snatch

I’ve been in a malaise of stress and mental exhaustion since I last wrote. And let me tell you, comfort eating does not cure a damn thing. Chocolate bars won’t help you sleep; potato chips won’t play taxi driver for your kids; and raw cookie dough won’t fix the timing belt on your retro car.

However, five extra pounds in the winter does not have to turn into ten or twenty–it can stop here. And despite the recent proliferation of lebkuchen in Germany and my lack of regimented marathon training, my weight can dial back to normal based on the choices that I make.

Laziness, negativity, cookie-dough-eating: these are choices.

So what if you don’t feel motivated (to exercise, to write, to eat healthy)? Who the hell cares? Do what you know is right–no matter how ‘motivated’ you feel.

And as long as you are breathing and thinking somewhat clearly, then it’s not too late.

Every time I run a marathon, the first five miles are spent vowing to NEVER run another one again.

This has happened eight times.

Motivation is great, but it’s irrelevant. It’s better to just get the job done.

I’m not a pilot, so I apologize if my metaphor is inaccurate; but one thing I DO know is that if you’re in a nosedive, then you should pull up.

So you’ve been smoking for thirty years.

Pull up.

You’ve been eating crap for forty years.

Pull up.

Your only exercise is getting up to use the bathroom during commercial breaks.

Pull up.

It’s not too late.

And even if it turns out it IS too late, you don’t want the blackbox to reveal you were pushing forward on the yoke the entire time, telling the copilot, ‘I just can’t help it.’

Visualize what you want your life to look like–not just five years from now, but in the moment. And be utterly content with where you are in the dangerous process of dream-making.

If you look out and see nothing but the ground rushing towards you, then it’s time to take a deep breath, grab the yoke, and pull it back.

That’s what I’m choosing. 

 

 

 


Lessons from My 13 Year-Old Self: Contentment

Wonder Woman2

5 January 1987

Dear Diary,

It’s about ten o’clock. I had school today. Yuck! Thankfully, it went by quickly and I didn’t have much homework. I’ll probably flunk Home Economics. We have a test soon. Yuck! I can’t wait until this weekend. Will it NEVER come?! I can’t wait. School is so weird. It’s like it’s not real. I want to lose 10 lbs. I weigh about 130. I’m watching ‘Footloose.’ I can’t wait until this summer. I have to go to bed now.

–K.L.

I had forgotten about the journal I had gotten for Christmas when I was thirteen, until my mom brought it to me, along with some of my vintage clothes, a politically incorrect version of the game “Life,” and my 1979 Wonder Woman comic book.

Reading aloud the narratives of our family vacations with my “thrifty” (read: cheap) step-dad; my  mom and I laughed until we cried.  I was quite a drama queen–feeling my life would be over because of a move or doing badly on a test or some general heartbreak.

But aside from the dramatic use of middle-school Spanish to close each entry (Hasta Luego! Buenas Noches!) the sad theme of the diary is the lack of contentment within myself. In fact, this has been a sad theme for much of my life–I just never realized it until recently.

It feels like I’ve always struggled with this: looking for weight loss, or to win the lottery, or some relationship to make me feel whole. For much of my life, I felt like I was waiting for life to begin. And while I don’t believe that time is ever wasted (it may be misused, but it’s always character building); there were few moments when I felt like I was doing what I was SUPPOSED to be doing. Usually, I was busy trying to please other people–to say what they needed to hear in order to keep everyone happy. I never wanted to fail anyone.

But the fact is that we should never be the cornerstone of any person’s life, except our own. We each have a unique personality. We have talents, hopes and dreams. And when we use our talents, and are true to our character, then we can accomplish our dreams.

Home economics was never my forte (and still is NOT). But I’m finding that by aligning my personality–that person I REALLY am inside–with my goals, I am much more content. I have dreams that are within my grasp. But I’m the only one who can do the work to make them come true.

Regardless of the wishes of my 13 year-old self, winning 10 million dollars or getting a date would not have made me feel complete. No single thing outside of myself could possibly make me happy.

I have to start with the quiet confidence that my happiness, my desires and dreams matter in the scheme of things. 

It’s only when I am truly content with the present, and have made peace with the past, that I can move boldly into the future–no matter what.

Life has begun. And it feels good. 


Self Branding

“Your Character. Your personality. It’s your graphic, your sign, your value, and the ONLY thing you can truly possess.”

A friend of mine wrote that.

push up

It was timely, because not only did I recently teach a chapter on ‘branding’ in my business English course, but I’ve been thinking about how to ‘brand’ myself in a new business endeavor.

What are the qualities and values I want potential clients to associate with my name? How do I even go about branding myself? But aside from business…what values am I forging in my own life?

It’s easy to dust of the thesaurus and look for adjectives. But it’s far more difficult to BE some of those things. I suppose it depends on the words you choose for your life’s brand. Most of the things I want require hard work.

I want to speak German fluently, but the words aren’t going to magically appear in my head. I want to do pull ups, but I can’t expect to wake up with the ability. But these are things we can wrap our hands around.

Intangibles are much tougher.

To be reliable: it means to be there for people.

Integrity: it means to actually LIVE what you say you believe.

To make friendships: means to risk rejection.

To love: means to risk the most tender part of yourself.

A good work ethic: (*this is earth-shattering, I know) but it means WORKING HARD.

Living your dreams: it means you will face failure on a daily basis.

But just like with pull-ups, forging your life’s brand requires effort, dedication and practice. You will not be struck by lightening in a freak laboratory accident nor will a radioactive spider-bite suddenly make your life complete.

The fire will rage. The hammer will fall. But actions determine whether the metal becomes a sword or vaporizes into noxious fumes.

We are born with certain personality traits, tendencies and characteristics. But much of our character is hammered by iron, in the heat of the forge; and we can’t see the results until things cool down.

And yet, we are not passive, shapeless creatures. Our actions shape our character. 

Inaction shapes it too.

You just have to decide what brand you want for your life. And once you figure it out, you have to work for it. Because if you don’t brand yourself, time or circumstance may do it for you.

And it may not be the brand you had hoped for.


A Person of Quality

Sitting on the floor

Words without action die and go to a purgatorial lexicon where they await redemption by a different author.

So, when I say I want to lose ten pounds, I need to actually stop eating M&Ms.  If I want to run a marathon, I have to get my shoes dirty. If I want to do pull ups, then it would help to wrap my hands around the bar and pull.

Sometimes certain words follow me around like stray toddlers until I pay attention to them.

Lately, ‘quality’ has been tugging at my pant-leg.

As defined by a free online dictionary with questionable pop-ups, it can mean:

  • Character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence
  • High grade, superiority, excellence

When people talk about quality, they’re usually talking about diamonds or overpriced handbags. We’re reluctant to apply the word quality to people, because it gives the sense that some are better than others, which really isn’t true, so hold your hate mail until you see where this is going.

How can you be a person of quality?

Can you wear sweat pants with bleach stains; sit on the kitchen floor and take selfies with the dog; have a dog that shits on the rug; say the word sh**? Does a person of quality have a dent-less car and an expensive smile?

A real diamond is expensive, but that has nothing to do with the quality. If you have a fake diamond, there is no quality. It simply looks like something it’s not.

True quality means being real. And it does cost a lot: your time, your sweat, your brainpower, your heart, your emotions, your thoughts.

It doesn’t mean blurting out every poisonous idea that wafts through your head. But it does mean living by the words you write.

The people I most admire are the ones who have mastered the art of being themselves.

I want to be a person of quality. 

There.

I wrote it.

Now I just have to live it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Groundhog Day

selfie glacier

I love movies where people get to repeat a single day.

When you have babies and toddlers, your entire life feels like ‘Groundhog Day’. You get stuck in this cycle of diapers and bottles and apple juice and chicken nuggets and the only thing that changes is the laundry pile, which never re-sets, but keeps growing.

But before you know it, the kids are writing their own scripts, and all you can do is watch it play out, as your job as director diminishes.

Which day would you re-live, if you could?

I’d like to say I’d chose the day one of my kids was born, but since I often felt I was being ripped in two, it would be a sentimental fiction.

The truth is that even if your perfect day involved lying in the sun, you still have to wash the white sand out of your bikini or put aloe on your crispy spots.

Time does not stand still, and no matter how hard you wish, a single day can’t be re-played. Time rushes forward, and our attitude determines if we ride its surf or drown in its depths.

Sometimes, the greatest use of time is decorating for autumn or making pink cupcakes with sprinkles. Other days, it’s working on a novel or back-squatting LESS weight. It might be surprising a friend with farm-fresh veggies, not knowing she’ll cry as she chops them into stew. Maybe it’s drinking coffee or taking a walk in the sunshine as your friend pours out her heart; these things should never be considered a waste.

We can’t live a single day over again, nor should we want to. But with each sunrise, we can make choices for health and happiness. Choices for the people we love. Choices that will fill hearts and light the spark of life in people who are stuck dreaming of Groundhog day.