Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plan (Way) Ahead for Your Club's Christmas Reading

It seems that every book club I have belonged to has struggled with "the perfect Christmas read." As the conversation begins about the choice, comments range from, "it's always so busy during the holidays; let's pick something easy!" to "should we even meet? It's so busy" to "I thought [insert name of book here] was great but it was too 'fluffy.'"

It also seems that somehow the Christmas books my clubs eventually choose always end up with something textile-related (quilting and hand-knitted sweaters, for example).

I received an Advanced Reading Copy of A Plain and Fancy Christmas from Ballantine Books at the beginning of December. It does still involve textiles (yes, quilting) but manages to straddle the line between "holiday fluff" and "rest-of-the-year gravity."

A Plain and Fancy Christmas has several strengths going for it. Although I struggled a bit with the initial premise (a baby switch that occurred decades ago), the believable nature of the characters and their general likability pulled me through. There is also a New York City component and anyone who knows me knows that will rivet me!

The questions asked by Ellie Lawrence and Rachel King as the book spirals through their lives in Manhattan (Ellie) and the Pennsylvania Amish Country (Rachel) are hard ones, asked against a backdrop of knowing those questions affect people around them in ripples of impact. Rachel's daughter, Katie, stands on the precipice of a fast-paced world she would not have known otherwise, surrounded by people who probably have never known an 11 year old who does not watch TV. Ellie's one-dimensional boss and boyfriend each have their shallowness exposed as Ellie discovers that simplicity is not that simple, "professional" may mean taking a restaurant order correctly as opposed to designing a high-profile PR campaign, and the people in our lives may not have our best interests at heart to the degree we think.

This book is sort of like the best Christmas presents -- there is solid evidence for why a particular gift is needed and will be valued, but the anticipation builds so slowly and there is sufficient doubt that the gift will materialize, that it is an even more appreciated joy when it is opened.

Toward the end of the book, Ellie reflects on the transition she has made over the course of the book (you'll have to read it yourself for the details!): "From working in a world filled with artifice, she had magically come to be celebrating Christmas in this place of spiritual peace and truthfulness."

A page turner that makes us reflect on spiritual peace and truthfulness (while, by the way, making us salivate at the idea of delicious Amish food), A Plain and Fancy Christmas would be a wonderful addition to your book club's holiday reading list.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Picking On/Getting Picked On (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, "chose" Mama Kat prompt number four for me: Describe a time you saw someone getting picked on.

When I try to imagine what the posts centered around this prompt will be about, the images in my head are all playgrounds, pulled hair, and "nanny nanny boo boo." That's not the image for me. Let's see where the three scenarios that come to mind take this. 

The first incident that comes to mind involves me as the picker-on. I can so clearly see myself in the portable that housed seventh-grade science. There was a student in class, I think his name was Tom. Tom had some type of processing delay, part of which was an inability to read social cues. Flirting and (seventh-grade circa 1970's) suggestiveness would  raise his hopes that the flirter really meant it. I still to. this. day. do not know why I got on the "flirt with Tom to be mean" bandwagon but I did. The only saving grace is that knowing I was once a perpetrator has made me doubly determined as an adult to be attuned to situations where kids are mean to other kids, especially in situations like this.

The second involves a family gathering -- of people who only see each other once every 5-10 years, and usually for a funeral. The particular cousin involved is one I see only every 5-10 years but to whom I felt pretty close - I had visited him over the years and felt we had a good bit in common. He started telling a joke about African Americans, Jews, and the Holocaust. It doesn't even matter the specific content of the joke; it was despicable. And although there wasn't an African American or Jew in the room, it still was ... wrong.  I said something like, "Oh, is that a South Georgia joke?" which is a kind of cruelty on my part to lump all South Georgians together. But I felt compelled to a) not laugh and b) point out somehow that this joke didn't ever deserve to see the light of day again. And even if there wasn't an African American or Jew in the room, there were children. Children who listen. Intently. Even when we don't think they're paying a whit of attention.

Lastly, coworkers can pick on coworkers. In this case, it was an unintentional and unfortunate slight at best, or an intentional, meanspirited power play at worst. When I was transferred by my employer to a different position, one of my new tasks was a monthly conference call with 10-15 leaders of organizations we dealt with. The calls had reached the point under my predecessor that they were (to a degree) a technicality. (During an earlier phase in our organization's life, they had been a critical lifeline as we went through a computer platform transition.) One of my coworkers (who is higher on the org chart than me) said during the call, "I wonder if we ought to be having these calls anymore." It could be argued that the individual who said that was truly putting out a discussion point that needed to be vetted, but as someone new to the position, trying to establish authority and communication with all of the others assembled on the call, I felt undermined and unable to really rescue the situation with everyone listening. I said something like, "Maybe so but that needs to be decided offline." But the moment for me was lost. I needed (wanted?) support, not dissent.


"Picking on" someone boils down to a lack of respect. I did not respect my classmate in Scenario Number 1 (and I was old enough to know better); My cousin did not respect people of other ethnicities in Scenario Number 2; My coworker did not respect me in Scenario Number 3. My favorite leadership blogger, Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak) talked with Verizon's former CEO Denny Strigl here. Mr. Strigl points out that one of the six ways managers build distrust between themselves and employees is by "lack of respect." In my opinion, lack of respect is at the root of most "picking on" incidents, not just those between managers and employees.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Paper Roses Edition)

When I was on a business trip last week, the first night was spent in a hotel in Orlando that is in between being a Crowne Plaza and a Doubletree. Meaning, for now it is in identity limbo. The room was fine (and my dinner was delicious) but there wasn't a feeling of brand pride among the staff (because there was no brand).

The second night, we were in a Hampton Inn in Gainesville. Adorning my bathroom was this "tissue art."

Little things matter, and we travelers notice.

Nice job, Hampton. You came out smelling like a rose.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Holy and Human, Seven Days a Week (A Retirement Tribute to Father Gil)

From August 1992 through mid-2005, my priest was Father Gil Crosby. One of our practices as a congregation at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church was called "Thanksgivings." During this part of the service, which occurred right before recessional, he would stand in front of us and anyone who wished to express something they were thankful for would make a donation into the "Thanksgivings" bucket and say what they were thankful for. The proceeds all went into a scholarship fund to send kids to summer camp at Camp Weed.

As Father Gil retires, I would like to share a few thoughts in tribute and thanksgiving. If I were monopolozing "Thanksgivings" long enough to discuss the things for which I am most grateful, they would include:

Helping me prepare for and co-officiating over my 1995 confirmation by the Bishop. For saying to me, during that preparation period, "Jesus came to take away our sin, not our intellect"

For the time he leaned over into my ear, and said, during the passing of the peace, "this may be a good day to ask for intercessory prayer," not knowing I had just received test results about my unborn baby that had me worried. (I did get intercessory prayer and everything did turn out fine.)

Baptizing Tenley in November 1996

Blessing our Opal Court house in 1998

Being (or acting) oblivious when a very young toddler Tenley stood there with him during Thanksgivings, just "hanging out" where the gratitude was

Baptizing Wayne Kevin in October 1999

Starting every vestry meeting off with prayer and reflection rather than business

Being the sole clergyperson who, when I met with him to discuss my decision to move to a different congregation, prayed with me about it

Being candidly human when, at the end of church one day, he shared a personal request on behalf of his granddaughter, who sorely needed our prayers, and his grief was so un-glossed over. He trusted us, an entire congregation, to share the pain

Making sure so many children (including Tenley) had an opportunity to go to Camp Weed regardless of financial considerations

Adding publicly, one night when we were praying as a vestry, "please help Paula deal with being so tired." (I don't remember the exact words, but they went precisely to the heart of my needs.)

As Trina McCarthy put it at his retirement dinner, Fr. Gil models how to be "human as well as holy." At the same event, someone else poked fun at the old (and utterly untrue) joke that a priest only works on Sundays.

A Don Sergio Castro quote I read recently said, "If everybody acted in a simple and human way, we'd all be saints." That quote struck something about my feelings for and gratitude toward Father Gil (and his wife Jacque). There were times, especially in my last years at St. Francis, when we as a congregation, he as a clergyperson, I as a parishioner, and all of us as Christians faced a complexity we had not anticipated and didn't want. I am also sure none of us are saints. But I know Fr. Gil has a gift for helping us approach the complex by breaking it down into the simple. I know he will continue reminding everyone in his circle of the role of prayer in each individual's life, each congregation's journey, each nation's fate.

I could fund a lot of children's trips to Camp Weed with the amount of money I would really like to give to represent my gratitude for the human holiness which Father Gil demonstrated seven days a week.

Written with a thankful heart .... January 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Breakfast "Scene" (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, "chose" Mama Kat prompt number four for me: Describe the scene at breakfast. 

What that prompt conjures up for me is a step-by-step of how I make this happen at my house, as a beloved family tradition on weekend mornings:

but it would be a blatant lie to say I do that.
It is also tempting to reminisce about Skeeter's, a restaurant in Gainesville that no longer exists. Their portions were just huge. I still fondly recall their over-the-top breakfasts, with pancakes whose edges hung over the rims of the platters upon which they were served. Skeeter's has come and gone, but darn they were good.

I ended up being pretty literal about this prompt. Having gotten the prompt yesterday, I decided to share this morning's breakfast with you. Thrilling, right?

Step One (almost always) is the coffee:
Step Two is a Sweet N Salty bar* and the first check-in with the world:

Step Three - I was traveling to Orlando with my co-workers (we left at 7 a.m.) so the Chick Fil-A was a decision point. The chicken biscuits and hash browns smelled so yummy but I opted for more coffee and a fruit cup (sorry for the fuzzy photo). I knew I had several hours ahead in the van, followed by more hours of meetings. It didn't make sense to stuff anything heavier into my stomach.

A note on fruit. Several months ago, I was inspired by this post by Shannon Colavecchio to add a piece of fruit to my diet a day. This "baby step" sounds so minor, but it has made a big difference to me.
So there you have it - the relatively mundane way I began this Wednesday. Even a mundane start contains opportunities to kick the day off with healthy(ier) choices.
For me, as long as I wash those healthy choices down with coffee, I'm good!

*Note - I realize I am making some nutritional tradeoffs with this choice! Here's the deal. I first had these bars when Tenley and I went to Guatemala (we were instructed to take granola bars for between-meal snacks), so they bring back memories of that incredible trip. It also feels decadent to have just a hint of dark chocolate in the morning. Lastly, they're yummy. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Across the Boarder (?) Edition)

Things that make Big Green Pen see Red!

include waking up to this:

Props to AOL, though, for fixing the error within hours!

It's nice to know they care.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Tallahassee Needed! (A Jason's Deli Giveaway)

I was excited when I saw that Jason's Deli would be opening here in Tallahassee, at a location that had seen a parade of short-lived establishments. I was even more excited when I started hearing my friends who had previously eaten at a Jason's Deli singing its praises:

"healthy and fresh"

"great organic salad bar with many options at a good price"

I am glad my cashier suggested the Manager's Special, which gave me a trip to the
delectable salad bar for a side!

"sandwiches with healthier options"

"great homemade soups"

"friendly staff"

"FREE soft serve ice cream"

Self Explanatory - yum!

Being me, I started poking around on the Internet to see if Jason's becomes involved with the communities where it does business - that's a critical point to win me as a loyal customer. I learned that, among other causes, Jason's Deli supports The Miracle League, which helps children have opportunities to play baseball, regardless of ability.

As I was visiting Jason's Deli for my first time ever, during a sneak peek last Friday, I overheard a customer say, "this is what Tallahassee needed."

The "sneak peek" crowd was numerous and enthusiastic.

It occurred to me that there are some "do's" and "don'ts" about Jason's Deli that will help us Tallahasseeans make up our minds regarding how much we need this new restaurant:

What they don't have:

High fructose corn syrup. (Read more about that here.)

Artificial trans fats. (Read more about that here.)


What they do have:

The honor of being named "Best Restaurant in America" by Parents Magazine (March 2011)

A corporate mission statement that emphasizes people as well as product (The mission statement is included here.)

A gluten free menu

Jason's offers a couple of conveniences that are new to me, such as paying for your soup and salad at a self-serve kiosk and the Jason's Deli App for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches (guess I'll have to get my teenager with the iPhone to help me with that one!).


Jason's Deli has given me a $25 gift card to share with one of you so you can find out for yourself if "this is what Tallahassee needed."*

To enter, please leave a comment on my blog letting me know what aspect of Jason's Deli you are most excited about!

To get an additional chance, please post the following to Twitter and let me know (via a comment) that you did.

I am joining @biggreenpen in welcoming @jasonsdeli to #Tallahassee! Fresh, healthy food served by friendly people.

I will choose the winner on Tuesday, January 19, at 10 p.m. Eastern. Please make sure to leave me an email address so that I can reach you if you're the winner
The food is prepared right in front of your eyes!

Find out more about Jason's Deli on social media at their Facebook site or on Twitter!

ps - special shout out to my cashier Shelby and my server Theodore - great job on the first day!

*The gift card can be used at any Jason's Deli in the US.

Author's Note: A commenter questioned my phrase "a parade of short-lived establishments" to describe the businesses that had occupied this building prior to Jason's. The commenter pointed out that after Banjo's (which was there a long time) vacated, the only other business was Helen's Silver Bullet Diner. I am unable to document any other restaurants in that location, so will concede that the "parade" was a very short one! I apologize for any misstatement. I know I hated driving by that location and seeing so little activity between Banjo's closing and Jason's opening - a vacant restaurant isn't helping our economy or filling our stomachs! Paula Kiger (2/29/12)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Truly Thankful (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, "chose" Mama Kat prompt number five for me: Share a lesson (or lessons) you learned about friendship from an introvert. This prompt was based on this absolutely fabulous (to me) post from (in)courage.

A prompt that initially sounded deceptively easy ended up forcing me to examine all of my relationships, an examination that led me to conclude that I tend to surround myself with extroverts. I can't think of a single friend of mine who is a classic "introvert." Maybe I just haven't been paying attention.

The word "introvert" always makes me think of the many times I have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Almost every time, my "e" for "extrovert" and "i" for "introvert" are fairly evenly balanced. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I am a) energized by being alone rather than with a group (introvert) and b) have plenty of entertaining observations about the world parading through my head to which I rarely give voice (introvert, pre-blogging!). 

In researching this post, I read a piece by Carl King entitled "10 Myths About Introverts." The ten myths (and an abbreviated summary of King's counterpoints) follow:

Myth #1: Introverts Don't Like to Talk (Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say).

Myth #2: Introverts are shy. (They just need a reason to interact.).

Myth #3: Introverts are rude. (They don't see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries.)

Myth #4: Introverts don't like people. (If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. )

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public. (They just prefer shorter public outings because they will want to go home and process all the data and experiences they have taken in.)

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone. (They do crave authentic connections, one person at a time.)

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird. (Their decisions are not based on trendiness.)

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds. (Their inner world is so rewarding that it makes sense to them to look primarily inward.)

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun. (They shut down if there is too much talking and noise going on.)

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts. (Fix? FIX?)

Having bought some time with a list that I think has some insightful observations about introverts, I am still left wondering about the original premise: What have you learned from an introvert?

I think it is this:

Even the people who are "life of the party" animated sometimes are a lot more inward-looking than they appear on the surface. One of the things I can do for them is give them an opportunity (a quieter coffee/lunch date, a run/walk, etc.) to not be "on" and to say the things that may not be closest to the surface.

Even though it's most comfortable for me if someone carries the weight conversationally, I may be doing someone who is "less of a talker" an appreciated service when I throw the conversational ball myself a few times. The two-way street should have good traffic flow both ways.

I should remind myself that someone who comes across as "snobby" may not be that - they just may not be much of a small talker. This is an area where our current world of blogs and micro-blogs has helped, I think. Learning about someone through their written content sometimes gives me a completely different window into their psyche (not to mention some ready-made conversation starters - phew!).

Lastly, I wholeheartedly agree with #4 - although I struggled to identify one individual in my life from whom I could squeeze an example for this post, as I think about it, of the "friends for life" who come to mind, most of them would probably fall more toward the "introvert" side of the continuum rather than the "extrovert."

My gratitude for their stalwart friendship, with or without small talk and life-of-the-party-ness, is no myth. It is true thankfulness. Maybe I need to tell them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Good Luck Menu Edition)

We Southern women take our New Year's traditions seriously.

A little memento of my New Year's Day meal.
Eaten with gratitude for all I have been given and prayers for a few
breaks this year!

What are your New Year's food traditions?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why I Check In

When I first started seeing people's Four Square check ins pop up on Facebook and Twitter, my reaction was fairly negative. Why should I care that someone was home? Eating at Applebee's? At a rest stop on I-10?

The first time I really felt like Four Square may have a place in my social media life was when I was at a TweetUp benefiting Japan and one of my fellow diners checked in on Four Square - I realized that it was possible to see who else was present at the restaurant (who was also a Four Square user).  

Shortly after that, I read a post by Jason Mollica that clarified for me the fact that Four Square check-ins do not always have to be synced to Facebook and/or Twitter. I realized that I could get the benefits (knowing who else was at the same venue as well as any mutual connections) without broadcasting my whereabouts to the larger circle of social media.

[I should note that one thing that held me back from joining Four Square was one individual - someone I did not know as well at the time as I do now but who, more than once, stated on Facebook, "join Four Square and I will unfriend you." This was someone in whose circle I wanted to remain - I wasn't sure if the individual was serious but I didn't want to find out!]

Fast forward to me taking the plunge. I was at the Georgia World Congress Center, at Tenley's dance competition, so my initial checkin was rewarded with the knowledge that there were others at the same venue as me.

I "thought" I had configured my FourSquare membership to do it "relatively secretly," meaning my check-ins wouldn't show up on Facebook. But I did have the setting configured so that my mayorships and badges showed up. As a result, almost immediately upon checking in a few places I was outed as having been awarded the "Crunked" badge - for "4+ Stops in One Night." I think the stops were the dance studio, the grocery store, and two other mom-driving-around-kids stops!

The Four Square "Crunked" Badge

[Side note #2 - it didn't take long to figure out that my friend who I thought was still a Four Square hater was already on Four Square!! It started out for business reasons but I think that individual, like me, discovered a like of Four Square that went beyond business.]

Now, why I check in and some thoughts about it.

Employees, Customers, Supporters - I read one article that recommended that an organization's employees not be allowed to check in and be the Four Square "mayor." I don't feel that way. I think that is because I have a pretty "open flow" opinion of relationships between business and personal life. My job is as much of my personal life as my personal life is part of my job (an outlook that is not working all that well right now but that's a topic for some other time). If an employee feels enough ownership in their organization to want to trumpet that fact, they should be able to. However, this does not always put the employer in the best of lights. When I saw that a fellow Four Square user was an employee at the grocery store I frequent almost every single day, and that the person was "mayor," I thought that was all pretty cool. Until I saw these tweets on the individual's twitter feed:

"Some b***h came in right at nine to get some turkey cut up on the saw tonight. So now I have overtime minutes I have to take off."


"I feel like crap. I threw up twice at work tonight."

Having read that, I am always checking nametags at the deli at that store now. AND for several days on end, I would pull into the parking lot to check in so that I could become mayor of the store and oust the disgruntled person. It just didn't do the store justice to have a griping, barfing, employee of a mayor. It's that much of a pleasure shopping there. I am a loyal customer. And a little wiser for having put social media two and two together.

Connecting Social Dots - I have never figured out how to explain this succinctly yet clearly to people I don't know well yet, but I am faceblind (prosopagnosic), meaning my ability to discern faces is impaired. Four Square, like Facebook, gives me photographic evidence as well as cues about people that help me tune in more quickly. I was at Chez Pierre one evening and someone I had never met in person was there, in the same dress she was wearing in her Four Square picture, so I was able to facilitate an introduction a lot more easily.

The potential to save money - One of the draws of Four Square is that users can get discounts at certain businesses for checking in. Honestly, I am so frugal that this was probably one of the top reasons I capitulated and signed up. But I don't think I have saved a cent yet!

The "power" of being mayor - It's virtual, it's toothless, it's just fun. But through Four Square, I can have the very minor head trip of being "mayor." Here are my current mayorships.

Healthy Kids
The Bus Stop
Performing Arts Center of Tallahassee
Journeys in Yoga
Richview Park
Envision Credit Union
Holy Comforter Church
State Employees Credit Union
Stewardship Dry Cleaners
FSU Film School
Summit East
Nancys Alterations
Leon County Community Room
Skate World

But then there's the questionable side:

I am spewing data about my habits - Does it matter that I do that? Probably not. If I don't want to check in, I don't. But who stands to benefit from knowing about my frequent Publix, Walgreens, and Maxwell's BP visits? 

I am spewing data about my whereabouts - again - it probably doesn't matter because my life is pretty much an open book, but when is too much information too much? AND what am I teaching my 12 year old, who only has one Four Square friend (me) by having "fun" with Four Square and encouraging him to share information about himself?

Trust Issues - Sometimes I will be sitting in my parking lot at work or in my driveway at home and Four Square will refuse to give me any points for my check in because "your phone thinks you are a little far from where you say you are" (paraphrasing here). WHAT? I know where I am, thank you very much. Trust me! Conversely, Four Square has caused my son to doubt my veracity. My Droid Eris is very slow to check in, so I will check in to a location a few hundred yards in advance. He once told another parent at camp, "my mom is here so she can talk to you about our sleepover - Four Square says she's here." I wasn't. Oops.

I am helping someone make money (but I don't really know who) - I am by no means a Four Square expert, but my innocence was quickly erased when I learned that a "custom badge" to support a cause doesn't come cheap (think quite a few zeros). Hmmm..... (This article delves a bit into Four Square's revenue generation.)

My ultimate thought is that Four Square is another fun tool to use to connect. It helps me publicize businesses and causes I love. It helps me keep track of my habits (the "Fried Check In badge Level Two"? Really? but the "This is your 23rd consecutive week at a gym - your biceps say ouch your heart says yes" is reassuring).

For me, it goes back to the same reason I jump at opportunities to Tweet Up (meet fellow Twitter users in person) and extend social media conversations beyond the limits of Facebook statuses and 140 character tweets - I like writing and in many ways that helps me establish a relationship in a deeper way than a face to face does. But nothing, seriously, nothing replaces the camaraderie of interacting with another person with whom I have something in common.

Four Square is just another way of allowing me to "check in" with humankind.

Maybe there needs to be a "looked 'em in the eyes" badge!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolve for 2012 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, recommended that I write about Mama Kat prompt number two: Quick! Your in laws will be at your house in two hours. What will you feed them out of what you have on hand? The thing is, my inlaws are over a lot and my husband is a pretty good cook, so that wasn't as challenging as number five: What are your resolutions for 2012 and what happened to your resolutions of the past?

I usually pick three resolutions/goals for each year. So far, I have one. It is a carryover goal which I did not achieve in 2011 -- running a 5K in less than 30 minutes. More on that here.

I don't know what the other two will be. I need to put a little more thought into it and actually plan to attend a meditation session to get a little clarity on this.

Part of the prompt asks for outcomes of previous year's goals. Therefore, a report card of sorts:

Here are the 2010 goals:

Guatemala happened. It didn't happen in 2010, but we loved the group we traveled with and ended up sponsoring Estela, so I think the July 2011 trip happened at exactly the right time.

Big Green Pen is happening. I have steady opportunities to proofread, edit, and write as my "sideline" and get positive feedback from the authors with whom I work. My short story, Play Ball, won 3rd place in the Flash Fiction component of the Seven Hills Literary Contest and has been published as part of the Seven Hills Review.
The "Kids Main Driver" goal sort of happened. This was more of an issue for me when I was having to shuttle children off to after school programs every day and pay college students to get them to activities. With changes in their activities (i.e. no more football practice for Wayne), as well as the fact that Tenley now has friends who drive with whom she can ride, it's not as big a need. But it's still a challenge as Wayne Kevin starts speed skating two days a week and has to get from middle school to skating right in the middle of the work day.

Here are the 2011 goals:

The "Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes" has been rolled over to 2012.

Technically, you could say I wrote about Camp Gordon Johnston, because I wrote this post after I participated in their annual reunion last year. But my dream is an Unbroken-style story, one that readers walk away from knowing more about World War II, its people and its places than they did before they picked the book up. Much work remains to be done. This goal has not happened.

"Expand BGP (Big Green Pen) without losing so much sleep" has not happened. My day job still takes up my .... days, of course. Nights and weekends are filled with Big Green Pen stuff, exercising, time with family, other things I love, etc. In fairness to my health, I need to find a more efficient combination for all of this (or eliminate something).

Which brings us to 2012. As I said, I am not ready to go on record with my second and third resolutions yet. Some thoughts in my head include the fact that I really love being outdoors and would like to be more deliberate about getting some outside time in regularly. I also am cognizant that my children are rushing to independence at warp speed. When my son finishes school 5.5 years from now, I don't want to be looking across a table at a spouse whom I have completely lost touch with and I don't want kids who say "you were always on the computer." Something about the 2012 goals has to be more inward facing than previous goals. Lastly, the thought "outer order brings inner calm" is part of the mix. I have never been a neat freak when it comes to my domestic life but I am tired of laundry mountain, dust bunnies, and unresolved pet stains on the carpet. Time to clean some things up.

Maybe Resolve pet stain remover will be my mascot product for 2012!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Forever Young/Jovenes Para Siempre Edition)

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
Satchel Paige

Photo Credit: Shanxi Upsdell Omoniyi

Note: Shanxi took this picture of Chilean women when she was participating in a Mission Awareness Trip with the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA). For information on CFCA's work in Chile, please click here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 - The Carryover Resolution

I carry around a slip of paper on which I have written my three top goals. I do this based on a suggestion from Scott Ginsberg, the Nametag Guy. I am convinced that, although I have not achieved my three goals every year, I have come a heck of a lot closer based on this one small action. I don't think Tenley's and my trip to Guatemala in July 2011 would have happened without my habit of keeping a tangible reminder of my goals in my wallet.

I haven't decided on all three 2012 goals yet, but one "carry-over" from 2011 is my goal of running a 5K in less than 30 minutes.

My involvement with the "Badass Army" is going to be one of the keys to achieving this goal. Thank you Shannon Colavecchio for this resolution template. Here's my take on it. 

Badass Army 2012 Resolution

My body is a fortress that must be respected, fortified and prepared for any and all of life's battles. I, Paula Kiger, as a devoted recruit of the Badass Army, do hereby resolve to stand firm in the duties and responsibilities inherent within.
Because the Army individually and collectively must stay strong and healthy, I resolve to abide by the the following principles:

• I will find at least 30 minutes a day at least five days a week for moderate physical activity. My personal fitness goal is to be active 30 minutes a day for six days a week. I choose a variety of things for my physical activity (ies). This variety includes:

          Running three days a week, with one of those days being interval training.
          Cross Training two days a week.
          Yoga at least once a week.
I will not back down from opportunities to have fun while being fit, even if they are outside of my comfort zone. I will also actively seek out and promote fitness opportunities that do good for causes I support. (This italicized section is an addition to the template.)
• I will not use the
D-word. Instead, I will eat to live; I will eat to fuel my active lifestyle.

• I will fuel my Badass with clean food, 85 to 90 percent of the time, incorporating "real food" like fruits and vegetables, dairy and lean meats and fish into my eating.

• When I crave something that falls in the category of "not so Badass approved," I will - approximately 10 to 15 percent of the time - let myself enjoy it in moderation. Life is about enjoyment, not an existence of meager rice cakes.

• I will in all things seek balance, taking care of my fortress even as I push it to new challenges.

• I will complete one fitness challenge that I have, until now, been too under-challenged*, sleep deprived**, or overweight*** to do. My personal goal is to, before the end of 2012, run a 5K in 29:59 or less.

• I will support, respect and cheer on my fellow recruits. I will not be afraid to turn to them for guidance or encouragement when I need it. When I need a swift kick in the Badass for motivation, I will ask for that, too.

• I will not let the criticisms or passive-aggressive comments of naysayers bring me down. My eyes will stay on the prize.

• If I fall down, I will get back up and press on. That’s how the Badass Army rolls.

I am strong and capable of great things. I will use this resolution as constant guidance and motivation in the year ahead. Hooah!

*By underchallenged I mean that I have not sufficiently challenged myself. This is why I am working on adding a second activity to some of my days, such as Tabata drills in the morning and yoga in the evening.

**Gary Droze, who coaches our interval sessions, asked me about my sleep. When I sheepishly admitted how much sleep I (don't) get, he said to envision it like a farmer who has planted carrots. If he pulls them out of the ground every night to check how they're doing, the carrots will never have an opportunity to reach their full potential. The parallel applies to fitness - your body needs time to recover every night in order to reach its highest capacity.

***Estimates vary, but some sources say a 10 pound weight loss can result in a minute shaved off of a 5K race time. Here's one article.