Wednesday, December 24, 2014

soon and very soon

May 20, 2010
I am waiting. Not patiently, though there's not a choice, really, when nothing happens. No signs of life, no email, no recognition that I have made a contribution in the world and it is missed. Did I anticipate the end? I always felt like the other shoe would drop some day. But at the same time, I was damn good at this job, it thrilled me, it gave my life meaning. I made a difference.

A touch of drama there, but I was hurt. Ten days before, I had run away from my job as night supervisor of a women's homeless shelter. Run, not walked; the end had come not as I had always suspected it would, some broken glass held to my face, maybe, or an attack around midnight. Instead, a final confrontation with a new supervisor, an anomaly among the stellar staff, made me see that I was not safe there. I was questioned and threatened by the woman who should have had my back. I would not return to my shift. This journal, which I began with the job, ended with this entry, where two things were on my mind: one, who did I let down, and two, where would I go next. Though there was no question that I made the right decision, I was sad that I never said goodbye to the women. "I stop into the library downtown [a draw for the homeless] to see if I can bump into anybody. But usually no one's there."

Next: a career? I keep coming back to the YMCA. No good jobs available as of yet, but I thought that maybe a several month internship would be cheaper than school, and I'd end it with a job. Or should I get an MA in something now while I have nothing better to do?

Ah. Look at that.

Just six months later, I'd begin work at the Y, paid, without any qualifying degrees. After a couple of years, I'd enjoy it enough to add a few certifications and make it official. Today, I'd say I'm doing what I was meant to do, and that no one could ever have told me it would happen this way. The grief I expressed over my work at the shelter was real, but the job, with its elements of danger and high adrenaline, was not sustainable. The "other shoe" reference makes me think I knew this deep down, and yet the kick it gave me was addictive. My work now, as a trainer, is the right balance of challenge and comfortable.

I resurrected this journal on a road trip last week, wanting to get a few thoughts down. Stuck as a bookmark among the pages is my fortune from a restaurant I visited, which reads

Soon life will become more interesting.

Christmas is coming; we are at the end of our season of waiting. All will be revealed in the morning. What's around the corner at any given time? I had no idea that May. I was at a loss. But with hindsight, I can see that Christmas was on its way.

It always is.






Monday, December 1, 2014

Go Ahead, Life: Make My Day


Friday, November 21
5:30pm
Scheers and friends at Stella’s Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids, choosing menu items involving bacon. Bacon fat popcorn, jumbo bacon-stuffed tater tots, bourbon bacon doughnut holes, burger (bacon inside).

8:30pm
Scheer family on living room floor. One opens mouth, decides talking is too much effort.

Saturday, November 22
Amy remains sole victim of bacon hangover. Decides, for maybe first time ever, to do cardio. Boxing, jumping, pushups and mountain climbers. Understands whole “seratonin thing” now.

Monday, November 24
Mr. Barbell, thinking Amy broke up with him, lays on the guilt trip. Leave me alone, says Amy, who is a little sick still and knows to keep things light. Stalling, I mean talking, she spends an entire half hour getting from the front door of the Y to the cardio room, a place she takes clients but where, if she exerts herself, people come running to ask what’s wrong.

Tuesday, November 25
So much time has passed since lifting heavy that Amy knows to swallow her pride. So she rips a page from Muscle & Fitness magazine and tries the “300 workout,” which involves, in this order, 100 pullups, a one-minute bird dog, 100 squats, another bird dog, 100 pushups. This is called “taking it easy.” Later, while soaking in epsom salts, she remembers why she doesn’t usually allow others to prescribe her workout.

Wednesday, November 26
Juice and smoothies day. And yoga! Amy hates yoga. But she is determined to loosen up from yesterday with a library DVD. First 45 minutes, she practices a sacred mantra: I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. Last 15 minutes, she’s all blissed out. Yoga’s really great, after all.


Last year around this time I wrote what I called a “subversive” take on holiday eating, encouraging you to enjoy, within reason, the pleasures we’re given in this life. This year hasn’t changed my focus—refer to bacon, above—but I’d also like to look at how life plays interference, and what we can do.

Maybe because I’m 44, or perhaps due to starting all this late, probably because I’m an introvert with two kids and in need of lots of quiet, personal time—I understand that life gets in the way of our best-laid plans. Plans for just about anything, but let’s talk fitness right now. My clients will apologize on the off hours for their sins of omission, and I usually say, with a wave of the hand, “Eh. Just get back in the gym next time you can.”

Because that’s all we can do. Get back on the wagon if we’ve fallen off.

Consistency is what has take care of me in the long run, allowing me to keep the weight off and occasionally indulge in bacon. Regularly getting into the gym has meant that when I need a week off for being sick, or a holiday meal that can’t be missed, I can afford it, just as a fat bank balance keeps the bills paid.

It’s also why my routine above seems scattered. Jumping? Yoga? Random, perhaps, but it’s me listening to my body and my schedule. Letting life get in the way, in a good way. I used to get guilty quickly. As someone who once weighed 50+ pounds more than I do now, I fall to despair easily; I eat more than usual and think, That’s it. It’s all over. I’ve fallen off the cliff and won’t be able to find my way back. But these cycles have happened enough times that I can now extend the conversation with myself, with some reasoning—you know you sometimes need more food, you know that your weight will drop back in time, you know that rest always does you good—and sometimes with a simple shut up, already.

I could be a pushier trainer, for sure. No one’s complained, and I’ve yet to be hired by a professional athlete, so I’m good for now. Despite this laidback approach, I’m known for helping people reach their goals, as one of you out there, whose bench press I increased by 55 pounds in one week, can attest. I’m all about sustainable health and wellness, and no one-shot deals.

So I don’t apologize. I’m still all for the eating, within reason. I’m still for rest periods and tapering weeks and not killing yourself in the gym. I’m in this for the long haul, and I want that for you, too. So enjoy this holiday season, and when life gets in the way, let it, at least a little. Listen to your body, your schedule, and, eventually, your guilt, and get back to this fitness stuff when you can. Meanwhile, enjoy time with family and friends over a good meal. Wrestle your kids on the living room floor—before they’ve had bacon—for your cardio intervals. Work on being your best inside and outside of the gym, and when you’re ready, I’ll meet you there.


Because after all that rest, I’m ready and raring to go.