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Last Sunday I took the girls to church by myself. We sit in the balcony for assorted reasons, one of them is because I've lost the ability or the desire to sit in the pews with the rest of the conversation. I went through a period where my blood pressure was unstable. I wore layers of clothes because my body temperature was messed up. I was thin and pale and afraid which was really stupid at the time. When my daughter pointed out that a group of women from church were walking around the lake she suggested that I join them. I am not a coffee drinker, it's repellent and abhorrent to me. I didn't know anyone who was going to be there and I rejected the idea that I would have anything in common with women who trotted around the lake and then sat around talking in a coffee shop. But I put the event in my calendar because I realized that it was important to my daughter.

The YMCA where I volunteer runs a lazy man triathlon every March. Participants, who are normally teams, have thirty-one days to run a marathon, bike 115 miles and swim a quarter of a mile. Back in August of 2010 I messed up something on the lateral side of my left ankle. I haven't run since then, my podiatrist said that I could find out what exactly was wrong if I wanted to pay for an MRI, at the time I didn't think I could afford it, now I don't need to know. Friday night there were some kids who wanted to race each other on the rock wall. An athletic looking black kid heard his time announced and he was determined to beat his own time. I had a good time talking to him, his friend, and another younger kid who thought he could beat someone who had a higher skill level than he did.

After the older kids left, this younger boy stayed around. I offered to race him when he said he was still looking for competition. I had the easier route, when I asked if he wanted it, he said I could have it and he was okay with any advantage it might have given me. That kid did not expect me to beat him. Regardless of which route he had chosen, I know I'm a better climber than he is simply because I have more experience and climbing time than he does. At work, I tell people that the only difference between route number 5, the easiest, and route number 9, the most difficult, is time. And I believe that's true. When I first started climbing, it took me longer to do easier routes. Now I can go up most routes fairly quickly, I've done number 10, most people think that's the hardest, actually number 9 is much more technical, 10 just looks harder.

Saturday morning, I did not want to get up and walk with anyone. I thought about going for a bike ride, instead I made myself throw some clothes on and drive down to the gazebo. There were two women talking when I arrived, I don't know either of them well, and I was regretting coming because the one woman is very tall, in great shape, and I'm always intimidated by her. Another older woman arrived, the four of us started around the lake, I started talking to a woman I didn't know and before I knew it the conversation had taken an unexpected turn. By the time we made it back to the coffee shop, I was in a much better mood. I had to revisit my former misconceptions about the women I had walked with and I really felt like I had made several important strides when I walked out.

My good mood lasted until I arrived at home. We had planned a laser tag party for my youngest, my husband had put it together and I didn't know pizza was part of the agenda until he said he was going to drive to a fast food restaurant to get a burger for my daughter who couldn't have pizza. I am done with people feeding my kids crap. No kid needs a twenty ounce soda with unlimited refills, a ketchup drenched burger, treat bags full of candy, and cake. We had brought fruit salad and baby carrots. When we left, the two pizzas were gone. We ended up taking the fruit and the carrots home. The girls continued to eat garbage and I tried to get them to eat something healthy, however neither child had an appetite for anything I offered.

Yesterday I ate crap, not long after, I didn't feel well. I started feeling better after some chicken and fruit, but that cake on the counter was there and I told myself that I couldn't resist it because being a victim is a comfortable role for me and it was easier to blame someone else for bringing cake into the house than it was for me to tell myself that I am stronger than any of my unhealthy cravings. Yesterday, at the coffee place, I spotted a flier for a writing workshop. I snapped a picture of the contact info and looked up the website when I got home. I've been thinking a lot about my life, what's important to me, where I want to go with it, and what kind of a message I have to send to others. This morning I took the girls to a new church. It was very contemporary, the pastor wore jeans, the singer had an electric guitar, and for someone who was raised in the cold embrace of traditional Wisconsin Lutheran wooden pews and reserved demeanors, it was a bit of an adjustment at first.

The pastor, whose wife I know, did an exceptional job at two things: relating to the audience and driving his message home. The message was: rebellion leads to pain. Rebels know it all, it isn't that they don't know, it's that they don't care. So you can't reason with them. I can't tell my sister to stop smoking because it's bad for her health, she already knows. My husband does not eat vegetables. Several people in his family have dealt with colon cancer. He doesn't like the texture of certain foods so he doesn't eat them. He knows they are better options than what he's eating, he knows, he doesn't care. The pastor used King Zedekiah's reign as a focal point. He did not listen to the prophet Jeremiah's words. I kept expecting that story book ending and this is what really drove the sermon home for me.

Zedekiah's last site before he was blinded was watching his sons being put to death by the Babylonian army. Whether you believe the Bible is factually accurate or not, we can find similar examples in modern day life. A guy driving a get away car while a helicopter flies above him thinks that he is getting away from the police. In reality, they've been watching him the entire time. Poor decisions catch up to you. Often there are warning signs and what I thought was interesting was how many chances Zedekiah had. The Babylonian army left to meet up with another force, Zedekiah thought they were gone for good until one morning he woke up and there were soldiers for as far as the eye could see. Guns are nice because they kill quickly. Sieges are designed to drain life and resistiance from people slowly. Jeremiah told Zedekiah that he would live if he surrended to the Babylonians. He chose an alternate path and was led away blind, wearing bronze shackles.

Every person has challenges and opportunities. We can't know what others are going through, we can only know that they struggle. Talking about your struggle is not whining. Being negative and telling yourself that you can't do anything is your self defeating message to yourself and if you're a rebel, you already know that. You know some things that you could be doing. Maybe you can hide under the label of disease or depression, no one can take those things from you, you have to find a way to deal with them or your life is going to be less than what it could be. Last year at this time, I was a weaker person than I am now. So far we've gone to church for three weeks in a row. Today, my children ate salads for lunch without complaining. The other day they were fighting in the car. I stopped the car in the middle of the road and told them that they could keep fighting and walk home or they could stop fighting and remain in my car.

My youngest told me that she didn't know how to get home. We weren't far from home, probably about a mile and a half out, but we were on the edge of farm country where twin cornfields border both sides of the road. When she said that she didn't know how to get home, I told her that would really suck if she had to figure it out by herself. Then I asked the girls if they wanted to walk or ride. They both chose to ride home. After salads for lunch, I put both girls down for a nap and I took one myself. In my family there is a battle between me who wants to give my children whole organic foods and almost everyone else who wants to give them candy, soda, and processed food type items. They say that they're concerned about the mental health of my children. I think there is a good time to be a rebel and that comes when you are standing alone against however many people for something you believe and know to be true.

Right now, I am one of the healthiest people I know because I have made the decision to be optimistic and to stand for my principles. When we were down in Florida, I saw vitality and vibrance come back to my children. Since we've returned to Wisconsin, they have lost some of that. I know what to do and how to do it. I don't care how extreme, fanatical, or radical I may seem to be. Two of my sisters need to lose weight. I've kept thirty pounds off, but they aren't interested in hearing what I have to say. They haven't learned that they can embrace what their body needs, feed it right, and not want the pseudo food being passed out and around. I'm not about excuses or compromise because in most cases, they don't work. I can't have one piece of cake or a package of fruit snacks. I can, but I don't. Once I start, I can't stop. Compromise foods deprive your body of nutrition and healing, why undermine the system that has been working? Because it takes time and you don't see results right away.

My avatar on Twitter is really me even though I jokingly told a guy who called me a diamond doll that it wasn't. The way I look is one part of me. It's easy to get a shout out from a guy who thinks you're hot. It's much more difficult for a 37 year old woman to get a high school teen to tweet about a woman being smart and reliable. That was a heartfelt tweet and I felt good about reading it because I earned his trust. A twenty year old kid sent me a message about arriving home safely. I think that I have an ability to reach out to young people, gain their confidence, and send them encouragement and tough messages that they need to hear. That's probably why the quote from corvus hit me so hard. I believe in the power of connectedness and networking. From the Pakistani physician who told me that drinking hot water was good for digestion to the 52 year old man who has turned me on to the healing power of whole raw foos. I am in love with the interactions and the ability to share eletronic space with people I would never meet in real life.

You don't know what you can do until you try it. Stop being afraid of failure or looking foolish. Today I can ride eleven miles on my bike. I am going to finish that triathlon in March because I've broken down what I need to do each day. Swimming lessons have been going exceptionally well. We all feel stupid, we're all self conscious, but we're all there and we've all improved. Practice makes perfect. Today's heartache is tomorrow's perfection. It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. Challenge yourself, dream big, but don't stop at the dream. Take small steps so you can turn that dream into an achievement. Inspiration and support is out there, but you have to be willing to seek it out.

You can be a light to others, what you do with your life is up to you. Your gifts are your own, no one can take them from you or force you to do things you don't want to be doing. There is value in your struggle. It has something to teach you. Mistakes are there, you have to learn from them or you will end up repeating the same mistakes until you internalize the fact that rebellion against yourself leads to pain. I wish I had a better way to put this, however I need some time outside right now. Make today, and every day, your best day. The Colorado shootings are a reminder: any day can be your last. Take your life and love it, because everything is impossible, until it isn't.

Peace, out.

j

P.S. This daylog was brought to you by writing workshop advice, along with the support and encouragement of people I've met online to whom I am grateful to have as strangers, enemies, and friends.