Friday, July 29, 2011

"Who" Loves Ya Baby

 In the fall of 2008 I was interviewing for a friend.  I'm not playing! I found myself short on friends and had been quietly looking for the right one for months.  Don't Judge me-I HAD friends-but their lives were all changing in ways mine was not (and I was all supportive and fine with it, but still changes...) What I mean of course is my friends were all having babies so their schedules were all dictated by those little tiny creatures and most conversations were sort of "Single-sided two much information sessions". For the sake of realism here I will say no matter how happy I was for them, I could not relate nor did I want to. I really deep down just wanted to play....Enter E. Lee (AKA- Elizabeth Lee, E-lee (one word) E, Frannie, Francis, Red, Lil F, and my personal favorites Cuppy, Cuppy Cake and most often just Cup) 8 feet tall-blazin red hair-from The ATL. Same with any interview-1st impressions are important rigth? Right off she nailed it-I observed this long strand of beads I quickly recognized as Kenyan made jewelry (Well played there cup! Rule #1. Know your audience). Conversation starts easy enough and with minimal awkwardness we were laughing and making fun of ourselves and each other...and perhaps a few innocent by standers....SCORE-MAJOR-POINTS. If this offends you-I recommend you stop following my blog-no, seriously...a prerequisite to building a friendship with me is laughing-a-lot, both at yourself AND other people. I am not ashamed of it-I am a people watcher and people make fun of er. And anyone who can't really join in on that isn't someone I can be that close to-so yea, she passed the preliminary round. Another (not mandatory but quite helpful as I find lots and LOTS of opportunities to laugh at both myself AND others here) is the friend for hire has some desire to workout at the gym-for the sake of common interests I mean-it's just helpful. At our second conversation regarding-well..nonsense maybe-who knows I thru down the gauntlet-I asked her to join me for a spin class at the Y. Figuring if she accepted and actually showed up she was a "yes". It's true, yes, I wanted to see if she was fearless enough to give it a try. She not only showed up for spin appropriately dressed (nothing worse than inviting someone to your "place of cool" and having them all decked out in glittery pink spandex and a Jane Fonda sweat band) After spin we had Jason's Deli (points with me-love Jason's) Starbuckie (hallloooo) AND then...Sonic (yes, that is correct). Conversation jumped from one random nonsensical issue to another to another and touched on everything from The Braves to music and art. I was going thru a Jack Johnson phase then and she was quite supportive. I was not nearly as supportive as she disclosed her long standing admiration for boy bands....NKOTB? REALLY LIZ?  She redeemed herself with quickness by displaying one of the most diverse ITunes collections I've seen to date.  When leaving Sonic at midnight I called TK "She is SOOOOO IN" I said and the "Friend Wanted" sign was removed.

It's been 3 years since that first spin class and ALAS! she too is about to become a mom.  She is so excited I couldn't be happier for her.  I got all excited about painting the kids room and just can not wait to meet who I like to call "Mini E"
Last night as I was finishing her room I asked "T-Money" (That's Baby-Daddy-AKA Terry but whatever) "Do you think Liza will like her room?" I said.
Without hesitation and with a big grin he answered. "If she is anything like Elizabeth she SURE will."
And you know what? I hope she is. I REALLY REALLY hope she is.
May she be happy and silly and crazy and willing to try anything and have the "passion for life" just like you Elizabeth.  May she have the very best qualities of you both! 

Thanks for the opportunity to paint her room! And thanks for answering the "friend wanted" add.  Your contract has been amended to include Liza and has been renewed for yet another year! YAY!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Art within

If you just want My Personal Boot Camp stats and facts- click here.
If you like my chatty way of telling a story and you wanna know more about the experience from a personal view please continue reading. Thanks very much.
…Thursday May 5th, 2:20 am- That is when the current sketch was done. (I think that is the correct date-I’d have to ask someone to be sure-but for now let’s go with it.) It was the morning of my second day in YMCA Boot Camp. (hence the boots)I often sketch what is on my mind, then again, I often DO NOT sketch what is on my mind-I didn’t snap a picture of it but on that same page are multiple tall buildings and multiple tiny people on top of those buildings..…sure that has some creepy meaning or something-but whatever…boots..sketching…boots and a tent at 2:20 am…couldn’t sleep, filled with dread. And fear..yep-there said it. I was experiencing fear of Biblical proportions…in fact-one might say “I was SORE afraid”. I said it was the morning of my SECOND day of Boot Camp-I had already been to one such class the day prior and mustering up all my will to live-had in fact completed the 42 minute class…why then, knowing I could make it thru what promised to be the toughest workout available-do I feel so consumed by this…unrest, dread, nausea….ughhhh fear….???? (I hate fear) I’m not even being dramatic here followers and friends-I sat on the little couch wide awake-sketching by hall bathroom light….internally at war with my decision to accept a friend’s challenge. I had already committed to do this thing-so the war was pointless, the fear was pointless, the staying awake was even MORE pointless-once committed-I was "ALL IN" even if it killed me-the nerves were making a very valid point..."How did you get here? What possessed you to do this? You are good with "okay". What are you trying to prove? You are no athlete-and this aint Biggest Loser...." (yes ahh that's correct I always thought "If the girls didn't have to weigh in in half shirts I would soooo apply to Biggest Loser...and yes. Win." :)
The answer:
I think deep down I just knew I needed to move on-to take on a little more.
Three days prior to that looooong night-while me and Lucy finished our Monday workout (which was no slacker-style hang out, lift a few light weights, walk on the treadmill 20 minutes and go have a smoothie-kind of workout I might add…when I come to the gym…I come to get down. I mean-ear buds in (kinda sorta “stay away from me-I’ll half wave if I feel you are “safe” enough but please give me a few months to make that decision and please PAH-LEASE-UH! Don’t stop and talk to me stranger-who I only know by site-don't even know your name…then I have to take the ear buds out…and I might or might not want to pause the song and it might throw off my keeping time with how long this set took compared to last time…and my focus will be off for the rest of the workout…OOOORRRR… I will actually WANT to talk to you-but I only have a certain amount of time and if I DO stop to chat I will have to skip something I came here planning to do…meaning the check mark will not be made…etc etc and so on…see? No talking people.) So..we were finishing our workout and one of the few (I mean very few) friends at the gym is talking to this intimidating  director/workout guru gym person about….you guessed it, BOOT CAMP! So yes---one thing leads to another and before you know it a challenge was made. Always up for a challenge and often unaware of physical limitations while not being physically limited... and finding this particular friend highly respectable as far as fitness and healthy lifestyle goes….I said yes before I could help myself. Lucy too.

On Wednesday morning-the first day for me, it was raining so boot camp was held in the gym. Nothing any person who received a public school education hasn’t seen or done before-no tight ropes to balance upon, no rings of fire to jump thru-nothing crazy…just constant-repetitive coach driven exercise-lots and lots of core strengthening drills, lots and lots of basic calisthenics (jumping jacks, lunges, squats, push ups FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY-there were push ups!) and even though my muscles burned and my head sort of swam and the sweat did pour…I was “in” game face on-determined to complete the task…and then there was a bit of cardio worked in. By a “bit of cardio” I mean a LOT. OF. CARDIO. None the less-the 42 minutes passed and I was still alive. Along with the others in class. (this is key-there were others doing the same things as me-and THEY ALL LIVED TOO) I recall the satisfaction now and it makes me smile. Big.
As I sat quietly sketching and worrying about the pending workout and the workouts that would certainly come on regular basis for the next 4 weeks (side note I signed up for 4 weeks and stayed for nearly 3 months and am still alive to write this post) I prayed. I am NOT KIDDING…I did. I prayed-thankful for the opportunity-thankful for the new excitement I had about this never before attempted personal goal and I prayed real honestly about the fear. The fear of failing, the fear that my 100 year old knees would not allow me to finish (also failing in my mind), the fear of letting my workout partner down,(a different kind of failure but failing another person-wow-even worse than failing yourself. Am I right? yes, yes you are Amber Kail. Thanks.)  and to be real honest-the fear of running so much I would throw up right there in front of everyone. (Monumental FAIL! yes? yes!) There is a calm that comes after being just this honest with yourself-and after that calm came rest. And after that rest-came…..BEAT DOWN #2! But once again-42 minutes passed and then it was over-and once again I was proud and thankful and giddy. The kind of giddy I couldn’t express to anyone outwardly (lets be honest who among you would have understood? Anyone….?Anyone??? okay then…) I talked obsessively about it with Lucy and from time to time with another friend or two. And by “from time to time” I mean ALL. THE. TIME. Let's pause for a moment here and let me say a heart felt "Thank You" to friends and family and coworkers and strangers and that real nice farmer guy at the Farmer's Market who said I have a nice smile for which I also gave credit to Boot Camp at the Y. (haha I keed I keed) But Boot Camp did make me smile real big...A-LOT. and it still does right now as I wrap this up. I thank you all for sharing in my excitement or tolerating my excitement and I thank you for not making it clear which you were doing! I  Can’t help it-excited about it-want to talk about it-want others to be excited about it. Not my experience but excited about their own “I pushed and tried and puked and cried (umm yes, there were a few days in May I did throw up after class-just being honest-and ummm yes…I used to wonder why sometimes on Biggest Loser the contestants would break down and shed tears during a workout-I no longer wonder about that.)  It was perhaps the most rewarding experience I have EVER had at the Y. And I have been there several years and I have achieved some cool goals. People like to know numbers and statistics and we all like results when we exert this kind of energy. I am no different. So the first thing people ask when they are thinking about trying boot camp is:  “How much did you lose?”  so I will, for the record post my stats below.  But I will also say this- For me, personally, and I know I am a wackadoo-and if you have read this blog much you know that about me as well so it’s cool. But for me-more than what I lost-is what I gained thru this experience. Friendships, for those of us who started together and finished together, we have a cool “battle story” kind of bond-I love that. I have gained new passion for something that has been so important to my health these past 6 years-and honestly-I struggle now to admit-I had sort of just accepted as "gone". Wow! I didn’t even realize I missed it.  I have gained muscle and strength physically-both reflected in the stats you will find here . But also-I gained the WANT to be pushed-I mean it, I re-gained the desire to be challenged and inspired and it's really hard to graph those kinds of results. 
Lately there has been a bit of discussion regarding this "inspiration" and people who do inspire others. I sort of reject the notion that a person not seeking inspiration can find it in another. Like some other person has the power or magnitude to "fling achievement" onto innocent slacker-type bystanders. However, if a person is on a quest after inspiration-it's already within that individual. And if they look hard enough-they will see it. It takes an artistic eye to look inside and envision, whatever the current state of the project-a masterpiece being created. But even if a tiny glimpse is all one can see-it's enough-isn't it? It's enough to be called inspiration-and if there is any inspiration to be found anywhere-there is inspiration to be found everywhere.  That's  one of the things I love so much about art, it's everywhere-you just gotta look.

Boot Camp Info-Short form

So if you aren't into reading my ramblings and you clicked here b/c you just want info about this crazy Boot Camp thing I did. And will be starting again in September. And welcome-NO...CHALLENGE YOU to try with me...then here is the short form.

 The facts.

Boot Camp is:  Instructor Led-group exercise. Very challenging. The BIGGEST HARDEST workout I have ever done. ever. And THE MOST REWARDING workout I have ever done. It's outside-even in the heat. Even in the wet with due piles of grass. (only inside when rain is falling). Apx. 42-45 minutes long. 3 to 5 times per week. Motivating. Encouraging. Challenging. B2TW. AWESOME. Hard as Heck! Early in the morning! at 6:00 AM.  Conducive to building friendships. Good for your soul.

What we did in boot camp:  Moderate to high intensity interval training. Some days tons of abs and core mixed with running thru an obstacle course. Some days more push ups and sit ups than I can count mixed with more lunges and squats and 20 second sprints than I can count. Some days we used resistance bands for muscle toning and the curb in a parking lot for character building. :) Some days we split into teams and worked as groups, other times we had a partner while still others it was every man for himself. We were never alone tho-that's one of the best things about it-"safety in numbers" right? All for one and one for all. No one was ever yelled at for giving 100% but falling short of the prescribed reps. Ever. All words spoken were encouraging and challenging and motivating and hi-fives and fist bumps were given freely at the end of every workout. 

What it did for me physically: And this is the part people start off wanting to know :) Me too so it's cool.
Start, mid way and finish we took a PT Test-  pushing ourselves to do as many of the following exercises in one minute. Then completing as many laps as we could run,walk or crawl in 10 minutes.  I have figured my progress percentages and listed this information below:

Push ups- In regulation style "man" push ups  I increased by 20%.
               In modified style "girl" push ups I DECREASED by 22%  *note, I believe in the first test I had improper form so I was banging them out like blue blazes. However, I learned proper form thru this experience and wow! are push ups difficult when using the correct method. 

Sit ups- Increased by 25%
Triceps dips-Increased by 100%  (not kidding-seriously did twice as many in the last test.
Squats-Increased by 36%
Cardio-strength (the 10 minute run) Increased by 29.72%

Weight lost-42 lbs.
Inches lost- HERE'S THE KICKER. I DO NOT KNOW! Because I didn't think to measure and it might be a good idea to do-for future reference. :)
Inches grown taller- HAHAHA just kidding-Boot Camp won't make you taller- but it will make you smile more! Or at least it did me.

*I will say this about the weight lost. 1. I have a significant amount to lose. 2. I was faithful to the workout. Every time. I missed 1 class in the entire series and was on vacation or would not have missed that one. and I did visit another gym that day so...just saying the more you put in the more you get out. Not in ANY WAY bragging or anything like that- I hate to even give a number-but I believe in boot camp and I want others to know it can help them achieve new goals. and finally this is REALLY REALLY important. 3. I track the food I eat.I am not militant about what to eat-but I am very aware of the number of calories I eat every day. even on weekends.  I have an occasional splurge-and by splurge I mean ICE CREAM. I like to be in charge of what I eat, and I eat as local and whole (real-like grown in the ground or raised on a farm)  foods as I can afford.  I limit processed foods. I do not eat ANYTHING FRIED. EVER.

Please Please Please PAH-LEASE!!! don't leave comments to me personally on here. I'm proud of my self and all that jazz but really-I am only leaving the comments open if anyone wants to know about joining us in Boot Camp or something like that.  Seriously tho, comments like "we're proud of you" etc. are appreciated but they kinda make my skin feel tingly and hot in a bad way so...just don't. thank you. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Messy Cross II

 Answer to a question no one asked: When I paint crosses-I never end up with something that looks “pretty”. Truthfully, unless given a specific example of a “pretty” cross, I don’t even approach it as such. Right from the start-I am all-in, freely painting lines and “x”s and going back over those lines and making the colors darker and smudgier (no that’s not a REAL word, it’s an ART word-it’s okay to use it, go ahead) and darker and messier and then comes texture…lots and lots and lots AND lots of texture-again no real “plan” just putting it on the canvas then scraping some off and leaving some and drying some and applying more and painting over that…and so on and so on.

A lot of what I call art is for pure fun and relaxation for me. A lot of projects I get to do for other people are decorative for their homes and I love love love love that. However, fun or decorative and some of it might even be sentimental-yet not have a lot of personal meaning (I love it anyway)

Painting a cross is different tho. It’s symbolic and meaningful to me on a very personal level. I got nothing against a pretty cross hanging for decoration-fact is I have lots of them in my house. But when I paint a cross-I paint it as I hope it was…I paint it dark and messy. With “x”s and crossed out parts and re-dos and (totally see where I’m going now right?) I am not a big “feeler” when I paint (that seems a little too artsy to me) but when I paint a cross I like to consider what that cross was for in my own life -and what all it accomplished. Having that in mind-I just can’t make it pretty. I believe Christ died on a big ole’ dark and stormy-scary-humiliating- painful-bloody-ugly-cross. Covered in sin. For me. I believe the cross was for the mess, and while painting that out-I find great comfort.