Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heavy Lifting

It's been an interesting week. 

After "maxing out" last week, Erin and I started strength training for the firefighter physical fitness test.  I have not lifted this much weight, with this much intensity, since high school.  It's tough.  And I like it.

Muscle failure (the term body builders and weight lifters use to describe the moment you can no longer move the weight) is something to behold.  You're muscles seize.  You're body tenses.  For a moment, you wonder if the weight will overtake you (as in crush your skull or shred a ligament).

Fortunately, there's someone there to pick up the weight when you fail (the spotter).  For me, that's Erin, literally and many times, figuratively. 

Wouldn't it be nice if we all had "life spotters" - people to pick up the weight when we can't lift it anymore?  Most of us probably do, but we just don't recognize them as much as we should.

Likewise, a lot of us don't know our own strength until challenged.

I'm sore.  I'm tired.  And I know this is just the beginning.  But this is a good reminder that, when put the test, our bodies - and moreover our minds - can do some amazing things, especially if you have a great spotter by your side.

Okay, that's enough about that.  Now, I'd like to get your feedback on a lawsuit filed today;  Nancy Sebring vs. Des Moines Public Schools.  A school board member, the district's general counsel and it's communications director are also named in the suit.

If you've lived in Iowa during the last year, you know what I'm talking about.  This dominated the news for weeks because it involved tax payer dollars, brought into question a leader's judgment, and lets be honest, it involved sex.  Sebring used her public email account to send personal, sexually explicit emails.  Admit it, a lot of people do this, but it's typically in a dimly lit space, in the confines of their home and on their own, personal computers (which may or may not be guarded with multiple passwords and locking devices).

The emails became public because reporters asked for them under Iowa's Open Records Law.  This is oversimplifying the law, but basically, if someone is paid with our tax dollars, we (meaning everyone) is granted access to their emails, phone records - anything paid via tax dollars (as always, there are exceptions... personnel records are off limits, so are investigatory documents while an investigation is underway, etc.).

Sebring is alleging invasion of privacy and emotional distress.  She also claims the defendants conspired against her by leaking emails and information to news organizations and the Omaha School District, which had hired Sebring and then basically said, no thanks.

My questions to you:  Should the public have access to personal emails sent via public accounts?  Do you think the defendants in this case acted in good faith and in the best interests of those they serve?  And finally, do you think you would view this case differently, if the Superintendent had been a man?

As always, I'm hoping for a respectful, enlightening and engaging conversation.  We can all learn from this.

Thanks for reading and have a great Friday!  The weather is supposed to be fabulous!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Victoroire

So, I got a great new bike last weekend.  I'll be honest, I really don't know that much about bikes.  I know if I like the way a bike feels.  I know if it shifts well.  I know, for sure, if the SEAT doesn't fit well! 

Anyway, I bought a used Bianchi for $750 dollars in 2003.  It's a great bike.  I love it.  I love it because it got me through my first real triathlon.  It's made of steal.  It's never let me down (with the exception of the 2012 HyVee Triathlon, when the chain came off twice... which MAY have been operator error).

However, everyone has been telling me, and frankly, I've been feeling it too - I need a new bike.  A lighter, faster, more aerodynamic bike.  So, last weekend, I took the plunge.

I rode for 30 miles the first day I hit the pavement.  I love it.  And I'm so grateful to have it.  I don't want a scratch on it, or a ding.  I polish it.  I vow to do whatever I can to preserve it, nurture it.

So, when people started telling me I had to NAME it, I really struggled to come up with the perfect expression of my love for it.  It turns out, Cervelo is a combination of Italian and French.  In Italian, Cerello is brain.  In French, velo is bike.  Combined, it means bike with a brain, which I need more than you know!

So.. the name is.... Wait... Wait...

It's a French name - Victoire.  It's a female name, pronounced "Vic-Twah."  It means victory, but that's not why I chose it.  Victoire, in English is Victoria, which is my mother's middle name.  She says she always wished it would have been her first name.

This is my mother, in the Swiss Alps.  We didn't think she would make it to this altitude... thought she would stay in the train... and then she suddenly she emerged into the slimly, oxygenated air of the Jungfraujoch.  They call it the top of Europe.  And who can blame her for wanting to see it?  Spectacular. 

My mother, to me, is the embodiment of both bikes - my old Bianchi and my new Victoire.  She is made of steel.  I have leaned on her on the steepest hills, wondering if I would ever get to the top.  She's maneuvered me around obstacles and bumps in the road.  She has gotten me to the finish line on multiple occasions.  She has also taught me I can always be Victoire (victorious).  That doesn't mean finishing first.  It means being the best I can be.  And as I progress, it means feeling lighter on every pedal stroke through life.

That Bianchi (which I should have named Flora), is made of steel.  Thank God I had it, because that's what allows me to fly on my Victoire (remember, pronounced Vic-Twah).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

We Survived The Fire

I had an amazing experience today.  I thought I might die, or at the very least be air-lifted to the nearest hospital.  I don't even want to talk about the visions I had of IV's, breathing tubes... and God no... catheters!

About a week ago, one of our "Workout of the Week" trainers, Angie Gallagher, emailed Erin Kiernan and I about a dilemma presented to her by the Urbandale Fire Department.  You'll have to wait for all of the details until the story airs.  But long story short, Erin and I took the physical fitness/agility test for beginning firefighters.

I think Erin and I would both say we're in pretty good shape.  Yes, there are things we can improve, body parts we still want to change.  However, we workout almost every day.  Erin is a fitness professional.  She teaches other people how to get in shape.  I participate in marathons and triathlons.

The UFD's fitness test KICKED OUR BUTTS! 

After donning about 50-pounds of gear - helmet, coat, gloves and air tank - we trudged through several exercises in the blazing sun, and humidity, high enough to melt our mascara.  Carrying, or attempting to carry, the 165-pound dummy proved the breaking point for both of us.  Climbing the 85-foot ladder isn't fun either, especially for someone who suffers from acrophobia (fear of heights).  Neither is crawling on your hands and knees to find the end of a hose, with a vision blocking, air inhibiting mask strapped to your face.  It's supposed to simulate a smoke-filled room.  By the time I reached the end of the hose, fire or no fire, I was praying for a quick death. 

Needless to say, I have a new found respect for firefighters. I also learned something new about myself.  Rarely, do I quit.  Maybe it's the Taurus in me, maybe it's my Mom's voice in my head, reminding me I can do anything.  Today, I learned there are some things I can't do - at least not on the first try.  But dammit, I'm determined to conquer that physical fitness test!  And if I fail again, if I continue to fail, at least I've put MYSELF to the test.

As John Bingham... aka The Penguin says, "The miracle isn't that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

I challenge all of you to find enough courage to START!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I met one of my "newish" neighbors while walking the dogs this morning.  We talked about the neighborhood, the house I bought, etc.  I made the comment, "I'm totally happy," meaning the home. 

His response was, "Wow, totally happy.  That's really something, to be totally happy."

My reply, "Well, totally happy with the house.  The rest goes day by day."

The conversation stuck with me.  Why aren't we "totally happy" more often.  For many of us, there's always something;  money issues, relationship issues, work issues, etc.  My goal today is to be "totally happy!"  I have so many things for which to be thankful.  I won't list them all, but they far outweigh any negatives in my life.

I challenge you to be totally happy today.  If you can't quite get there, at least take some time to think about the positive aspects of your life.  Have a great day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

As I sit here tonight, I wonder - how have I been so blessed?  For the first time in my life, I went through a Taekwondo routine - harder than I thought.  For the first time in my life - I broke a board - using my foot. I felt euphoric and empowered. I equate the feeling to the first time I finished a 5K..a 10K... a marathon, you get the picture.  For the first time in a long time, I felt the adrenaline rush of doing something new and wonderful.

I want all of you to do something new and wonderful this week!  Push your limits. We're all scared. Some of us have people in our lives who say, "No you can't."  Others say, "No you will not."  Cling to those who say, "Yes you can  - You can do whatever you dream." 

I truly believe it!  I never thought I would be able to do a marathon - even more challenging -  I never thought I would be able to overcome the emotional struggles in my life. 

As you follow me, you will learn more about those emotional struggles (some heavy stuff), how my life has evolved and, I hope to give insight from professionals, on how your life can evolve too.

Please, send me your feedback, questions, comments, etc,  I would like to point out - the opinions are my own - and those of my guest's are their own.

I frown upon derogatory comments directed at the poster.  I feel, comments are opinions, and should be respected as such. 

Thank you - BRING IT ON!