Five-Minute Friday: Heal

(Note: “Five-Minute Friday” is an activity I participate in based on Kate Motaung’s blog, linked at the bottom of the page. Each week, Kate posts a one-word prompt, and people write for five minutes straight, free-write style with no editing and no over-thinking.)

The cover story of Time magazine’s most recent issue focuses on the power of exercise, more specifically exercise as medicine and its power to heal. The story starts with an experiment on mice that had a genetic disorder that causes them to age prematurely. The scientists let half be sedentary and the other half exercise. After a period of time, the sedentary group of mice showed the effects of their disease, but the same diseased mice that exercised appeared not physically different than mice that didn’t have the disorder. Exercise apparently stalled the effects.

This revelation can hardly be called one since it echoes what Hippocrates and others from centuries ago have long argued: with diet and exercise, we can heal ourselves. But, thanks, Time, for the reminder.

My husband and I are training for the Chicago Marathon…again. This will be the third year in row we will have run it, and I am happy to say this is my best training season yet. The last two years, I had aches and injuries – tendonitis here, tendonitis there, a wonky knee here, an angry foot there. But last week, we successfully ran 20 miles, and I have never done that consecutively in training. Our mid-week runs have been speed workouts on our country club’s treadmill, mainly to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity that Cincinnati can’t seem to shake, and I think these have contributed to our successful season.

20 miles on a Sunday is excessive, I admit, and my preferred leisure run post-marathon is probably 5 miles, maybe an occasional 8 for a challenge. But I have long since relied on running to cure what ails me. I don’t always get the benefit of a runner’s high – in fact, I can probably count the times on one hand, and I have years of running behind me – but I have yet to find a comparable activity to achieve the mental clarity and sense of accomplishment running gives me.

Five-Minute Friday: Lift

(Note: “Five-Minute Friday” is an activity I participate in based on Kate Motaung’s blog, linked at the bottom of the page. Each week, Kate posts a one-word prompt, and people write for five minutes straight, free-write style with no editing and no over-thinking.)

This week, my father would have turned 67, so he has been on my mind more than usual lately. With this prompt, I immediately thought back to a card he sent me, one that I easily recalled in the wake of his death. I no longer remember the occasion that prompted him to send it to me, but I wrote the text of the cover in a notebook I keep that contains clippings my father sent me over the years – Reflections of the Day from The Boston Globe, strange newspaper articles (“Princeton mulls ban on nude run” reads one headline).

The message from the card is this:

I did not have an easy road to travel, but every time I reached the point where trouble was so deep that I thought I could go no farther, someone came along to help me through the deepest drifts. I didn’t always know who these people were, but I always knew who sent them. – Jeanne Morris

I love living in Cincinnati. Moving here last year was one of my life’s better decisions, but living here also means I have less chances of encountering the people my dad has sent over the years to lift me up when I needed it.

My dad was a dentist, and as such, he had an extensive network of colleagues and patients. In the seven years since he’s been dead, I have had random people come up to me to tell me they do not know me, but they recognize me from the pictures in my dad’s office and need me to know what a wonderful guy/dentist/doting father he was. Such encounters always caught me off guard since they occurred in the places I least expected it – at my former school’s library during a new parent reception, in the produce aisle of the grocery store – but I always appreciated them for the gift they were. I didn’t know these people, but I knew who sent them.

This week of my dad’s birthday, I might need a little lift. I will be on the lookout.

Five-Minute Friday: Happy

(Note: “Five-Minute Friday” is an activity I participate in based on Kate Motaung’s blog, linked at the bottom of the page. Each week, Kate posts a one-word prompt, and people write for five minutes straight, free-write style with no editing and no over-thinking.)

As my summer winds down and I prepare to go back to the scheduled life of school, I thought this was a good week to get back into the 5-Minute Fridays, too. How fortuitous that the word is “happy” given that I have just had such a happy time off.

This week, I returned from a 7-day diversity leader training with an intense schedule. From 7:30 am until 9, 10, 11 pm, I participated in sessions with 55 other educators from across the country (and beyond). While I was happy to be there, that is not why I am including it in this post.

One of the videos we watched when discussing gender was this amazing poetry slam, “Pretty,” in which the poet includes a line that says the poem is “about women who will prowl thirty stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy.” (Warning: if you watch the clip, there is one use of the F-word.)

The slam is powerful, but upon listening to it, I felt relief that I am not one of those women. I DO know how to find fulfillment and wear joy.

Here is what makes me happy, in no particular order:

  • My family, especially when we are all in the same place
  • Knitting
  • Running
  • Kayaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Being quiet, enjoying the stillness
  • Coffee
  • Working to leave the world better than I found it
  • Ice cream
  • Time off to enjoy all of the above

At this new job that isn’t so new anymore, administrators have the month of July off. This perk was one of many that ultimately drove me to accept the position, and I have to say, I underestimated the power of having such a large chunk of time off to recharge, regroup, and restore my soul.

Will I return to work next week happy? Indeed.