Face, meet Sidewalk

28 02 2010

Friday ended up being a long night.  I decided against running with the team early Saturday after only a few hours of restless sleep.  Determined to get in a decent workout, I set out on a five-mile run later that morning.  It was cold, but not too cold and the roads and sidewalks were actually pretty good on a scale of one to normal Michigan winter treachery.

Two and a half miles in, I tweaked my ankle on Greenfield, but didn’t fall and turned the corner onto 13 Mile Road pain-free.  Then, just a few yards from the corner, at 2.83 miles (thanks, Garmin) and only about 50 yards from my mom’s place, my ankle rolled all the way to the outside bone.  Professional grade falling and barrel rolling ensued until I came to a painful stop sprawled over the snowy walk.  Tears came to my eyes as I lifted my head and saw a lady who had seen me fall running toward me with a cell phone, passenger door still open on the car her husband was driving.

Although I believe in the general goodness of the human race, she really didn’t have to stop and she definitely didn’t have to let a crying, sweaty stranger use her phone.  Mom, if she was home, was literally a stone’s throw away so I tried her first.

“Which button is ‘clear?'” I ask Gracious Stranger.  Between sobs, I had managed to enter a wrong number.

“Here,” Gracious Stranger says, “You tell me the number and I’ll dial.”  I thank her and hand her back the phone which I had so far managed not to drip sweat on.  She hands me back the phone.  No answer.  I dial John’s number.  No answer.  By this point, Gracious Stranger’s husband has pulled into the Judson Center parking lot, gotten out of the car and gets ready to help me up, as I had been kneeling in the snow.

“Can you walk?” Gracious Stranger asks.  I try twice, wincing in pain each time.  Mr. and Mrs. Gracious Stranger ask where I live and offer to drive me home.  They just have to drop their daughter off first.  We’re a few feet away from their car when a little white SUV pulls in behind their car which is blocking the entrance to the lot.  Mr. Gracious Stranger waves at the car and says he’ll move the car in just a minute, but then the other driver jumps out.  It takes me a minute to register who has just jumped out of the car and is running toward me.

It’s Lisa, one of my friends from the team, who also happens to be an osteopathic doctor.  If I could have seen Jesus right at that moment, He probably would have winked at me.

Lisa and I thank the Gracious Strangers and she helps me into her car, drives me home and helps me up the stairs to my apartment.  John, who has been sick for the past two days, looks up from his post on the couch with a confused expression that seems to beg the question, “You brought friends home from a run?” 

I take my snowy shoes off, careful not to track snow anywhere besides the designated mat by the door.  My injury has not cured my anti-melted-snow-on-dry-socks entrance ritual.  Lisa carefully evaluates my ankle, suggests x-rays and prescribes an initial treatment plan.  She also suggests a shower before I go to urgent care (despite my shivers, I am still sweating), mentions something about me needing to be wrapped in bubble wrap and then heads out.

The fact that Lisa, a fellow runner with extensive knowledge of sports medicine, just happened to drive by right after I had fallen was hardly coincidental.  It was a pretty awesome blessing that the one person who was better equipped than anyone else I know to help me in that exact situation showed up at the exact moment I most needed her help and I’m convinced that our rendezvous was planned before I even laced up my Asics and before Lisa decided to make a run up to TJ Maxx to look for luggage. 

God is good all the time.  I don’t think everything happens for a reason because I can’t point out any clear advantages to biting it on a snowy sidewalk or hobbling around my apartment on crutches, but I’m thankful that if I had to wipe out during my Saturday run, God sent the combination of compassionate Gracious Strangers and the perfect friend at just the right time.   

The swelling is already going down a little, I’m looking forward to seeing my ankle bone again soon and purple is one of my favorite colors.  Initial report is no fracture (another blessing!).  The radiologist will have the final word.  PT starts tomorrow 🙂


The less-is-more law and the less-is-more fallacy

25 02 2010

Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat.  In fact, curiosity might not ever kill the cat.  And sometimes you should look a gift horse in the mouth.  I mean, it beats getting a gift horse with jacked up teeth, doesn’t it?  Anyways, my point is, there are a lot of clichés and other sayings that aren’t always true.  Case in point: less isn’t always more. 

Let’s play a game.  Can you guess what the following ten things have in common? 

  1. Haribo peaches
  2. A warm day in the middle of winter
  3. New socks
  4. A really clean apartment
  5. Cake
  6. A hilarious facebook wall post from any of the following: John Gordon, Laura Kassenbrock, Cameron Tanner, Chelsey Tanner
  7. Hitting mostly red lights on the way to work so you have enough time to stop for a hot chocolate and rolling up the rim and winning a free hot chocolate for next time (God bless you, Tim Horton’s)
  8. Max & Erma’s funnel fries
  9. John ‘s singing
  10. Unexpectedly fun meetings at work

Okay.   If you guessed that all ten things are little things in life that make me super happy, then you win!  No, you don’t win anything.  Don’t be so greedy. 

No other gummy candy compared to the glorious sugary goodness of Haribo Peaches. Seriously, they're how I know God loves me.


Now, think back to the last time you got really excited about something?  Maybe it was getting engaged, buying a house, getting a new car or graduating college.  Those are all pretty big life events – things that don’t happen every day.  Only getting excited by the big things in life makes for some pretty boring in-between-time.  So what if the less than extraordinary things made you more excited?  Getting as much joy as possible from life’s little pleasures and victories: that’s the law of less-is-more.  Don’t let the little blessings pass you by while you wait for the big ones.  Go ahead and let that compliment make your day.  Do the happy dance when you find the grocery store around the corner started stacking your favorite coffee creamer.  Give your coworker a high-five after you ace that presentation.  Maybe even a chest bump (depends on your HR policies).  Just don’t break the law. 

 Okay.  Get excited.  It’s time for another game.  If you won the last game, your odds at a repeat here are pretty good.  Can you guess what the following ten things have in common? 

  1. A paper cut
  2. A boring meeting
  3. Rain on your parade
  4. Tripping while doing your happy dance
  5. Running late for work then spilling something on your shirt (while we’re at it, let’s include any type of spill in your apartment or car)
  6. A rip in your favorite jeans
  7. Meanies doing what they do best
  8. Wheel of Fortune on a restaurant TV instead of the big game
  9. Someone else getting credit for a report you did
  10. Sitting on an uncovered toilet seat and half-falling in because someone left the seat up (no, that didn’t just happen to me tonight and no, John wasn’t the culprit.  Oh, fine, if you want to get all specific, it did and he was)

If you guessed little things that can ruin your day, then yaaaaay – you win nothing again!  Two for two though, I’m proud of you.  

So, why is it harder to get excited by little good things than it is to be devastated by little bad things?  James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds.”  Not if, when.  Trouble’s coming, homies, and James wasn’t talking about paper cuts, he meant serious problems.  Now getting joyful over a paper cut is probably a stretch, but don’t let it ruin your afternoon.  As a wise man once said, save the drama for ya mama.  If you’re going to stress about something, make it something worth your attention.  Introducing the less-is-more fallacy.  Less than good things don’t deserve more than a second thought.  Everything on the list might suck a little, but there’s hardly mass casualties, critical injury or anything more than the need to get over it – and quick, so you can enjoy those little things we talked about before.    For example, I’m over all those red lights during my morning commute ‘cause I’m busy getting excited about the new toilet I’m having installed tomorrow.  It’s a 2011 model.  

The 2011 Up Seat Leaver Beater


Little life notes: #1 – My birthday was yesterday.  I had a lot of fun turning the big two-six.  #2 – An email I sent at work today got caught in the IT obscene-language-filter after I mistakenly referenced a photo with the phrase “cute group sh*t on the steps” instead of “cute group shot on the steps.”  Awesomeness ensued.  Always proofread. 

Thanks for reading. 

Have you given a eulogy lately?

21 02 2010

Eulogy: a commendatory writing or oration especially of someone recently deceased; high praise. 

When was the last time you gave a eulogy?  For me, it was May 2008, in honor of my mom, who is, by the way, very much alive.  She’s been a little under the weather lately and I called her today to check on her and she told me she read a copy of the speech I read at her 50th birthday in 2008.  She told me how much it meant to her and I got to thinking, why are eulogies so often reserved for the dead?  Why be stingy with “high praise?”

When you know some incredibly awesome people, shouldn’t you tell them how awesome you think they are?  In Thessalonians, Paul tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up” and whether you take the Bible as truth or not, you can hardly argue that Paul isn’t on to something.

You can change a person’s whole day, maybe even their whole week, just but complimenting them, encouraging them and otherwise building them up.  It’s not hard, but some people need more than others. 

As I’m writing this I’m watching the new show Undercover Boss on CBS. Joe DePinto, the CEO of 7-Eleven visits his first store of his one-week undercover experience and meets 18-year 7-Eleven veteran, Dolores.  Dolores knows all of her customers by name.  She manages the busy morning coffee rush with admirable ease, overseeing coffee operations with drill sergeant discipline.  When DePinto finds out from friends and customers of Dolores that she has goes to kidney dialysis every week as she waits for a donor because she won’t let any of her five children donate to her, he tells her, “Dolores, you’re amazing,” She simply responds, “No, I’m not.”

While humility is one thing, I think many of the people who truly are amazing don’t know that they are because no one’s told them.  And if someone has told them, they don’t believe them.  I wouldn’t believe someone who told me that eating sand would make me smarter.  I wouldn’t believe ten people who told me the same thing.  But if ten different people told me every day for a month that eating sand would make me smarter, call me crazy, but I just might try a bite.  It’s not much different with encouragement.  Some people need to be convinced of what seems crazy to them, but obvious to everyone else.

I was blessed to be raised in a family that is super liberal with encouragement and love.  My mom and my siblings and I say we love each other every time we talk (We’re huggers too!).  It’s the best feeling to have someone tell you that you’re loved and that to them, you’re awesome, no matter what.  I think it’s a privilege to be able to pass that on, and it’s hard to make excuses not to because it’s easy to do and it’s free.

So look around.  Is there someone in your life who could use a little encouragement?  Do the people you love know that you’re crazy about them?  Are you building people up?    

Go ahead, give that eulogy.  Why wait?

P.S. Make sure you mean it.  Word-vomit praise is icky and no one likes it.  Trust me.

Really, Shaun White? A 1260?

18 02 2010
My boyfriend John got me a snowboard for Christmas.  It was a really generous and thoughtful gift, considering I’d casually mentioned that I wanted to try this hazardous winter sport.  As soon as I got my board, boots, bindings and a really cute pair of snowpants, I started having dreams of shredding all over the local ski hills.  John, my sister Squirrel, and her friend Courtney all got on board (no pun intended) for a trip to Alpine Valley in White Lake.  The temperature was in single digits on the day we planned to go, but we’re all natives of our beloved murder mitten and the frosty air wasn’t about to stop us.
Ready to shred

Court, Me, John, Squirrel


So after renting equipment, deciding we wouldn’t need helmets on the teeny, tiny bunny hill and signing up for a lesson, we met our instructor.  We learned how to stop and turn and just about had our minds wrapped around the basics, optimistically hoping our bodies would soon follow.  I hadn’t even gotten the hang of getting to my feet without help when our instructor headed back to the lodge, telling us all we need to do was practice.  Long story short, after some of the most magnificent tumbles the Alpine Valley bunny hill had ever seen, I took one final fall.  Bouncing my head off the ice, adding some pirouettes in for artistic expression and finally coming to rest face down on the hill while five-year-olds whizzed past on skis, I finally understood what people meant by the term “seeing stars.”  

I laid there for a while, feeling generally not right, before I realized no one was going to help me.  I unstrapped my bindings and made my way to a bench at the bottom of the hill.  John got the ski patrol, who tucked me onto their toboggan after a brief assessment and skied me to the medical lodge.  Diagnosis: concussion. 

Under mandatory medical evaluation at Alpine Valley


I actually stubbornly went back on the hill before another solid fall reminded me that the throbbing in my head was not going away anytime soon.  All in all, good times were had, egos (well, mine) were bruised and John, Squirrel and Court had a few laughs at my expense. 

Weeks later, the winter Olympic Games are all over NBC and here comes Shaun White with his child-phenom rep, Pantene Pro-V hair commercial locks and super-human shredding skills all up in my face.  While I cling to the hope of making it down the bunny hill without falling more than twice and feed dreams that one day, MAYBE, I’ll be able to do a 360 without killing myself, Shaun White is doing super flashy tricks that no other human can.  Shaun White is comin’ at ya with tricks with names like the Double McTwist 1260 in his victory runs because his B-level tricks are still enough to win gold against a pool of elites who all wish they were Shaun White.  So here’s to you Shaun White: for being more awesome at snowboarding than I’ll ever be, for having hair that’s the envy of women everywhere, for earning more style points in a day than New York Fashion Week in, well, a week.  You do those 1260s.  I’ll be on the bunny hill.  Or in the lodge getting a snack.  But I’m not giving up, Shaun White.  So watch your back.  Today the bunny hill, tomorrow the world…or not. 

Mr. Double McTwist 1260 himself.

It’s past my bedtime…

18 02 2010

…but get excited for more substantial posts coming soon!