Monday, April 16, 2012

Today's Most Interesting Phone Conversation

I had the privilege of speaking with a mom today who is considering what to do for schooling for her son next year. She called me because I have "heap big experience." So I told her a little of this and a little of that.

And one of the things she mentioned was her concerns about schools teaching evolution without teaching "all four theories." I assume she was including creationism, intelligent design, evolution, and a fourth one. Can't think of it right now. But as she discussed her issue with evolution, she let me know she would plan to let the teacher know that her son would memorize the information presented in class but that he doesn't believe it. I'm usually a very good LISTENER, who offers murmurs of affirmation and little puffs of understanding. But, I noticed today that I felt like I wanted to dissent just a little from what she was saying. I tried to still listen and affirm, but I told her I personally wouldn't do that and I would wonder what she would want to accomplish by telling the teacher that her son doesn't believe the information. If she wants her son to learn "all four" theories, I suggested she just supplement at home.

The other thing that struck me was she felt strongly that children should not receive academic credit for bringing in supplies to school. And, again, I felt like it was important to gently mention that individual teachers are doing the best they can, and many are doing a fantastic job, and that teachers are all part of a district-wide system, and a state-wide system.

When she brought up the concern about whether or not the school system observes some kind of day of silence that has something to do with how gays have been silenced through the years, I just groaned inside. Is this really what Christians should be focusing on? I'd say no. How about supporting the teachers, the school, the administration, through prayer and volunteering and lots of practical outpourings of love.

I know parents just want the best for their kids. I understand that. And of course people have convictions. I also understand that. But I think when the convictions get in the way of loving other people, the priorities are skewed. I remember a song that says "They'll know we are Chrsitians by our love." Let it be so.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

750Words and HealthMonth -- 2 websites that are inspiring me

This is Buster Benson. I don't know him, beyond the detailed information on his website but he must be a very fun-loving guy, from what I've seen on two websites he has created that I am enjoying immensely.

First, there's 750words. Anyone familiar with Julia Cameron's "morning pages" will recognize that each page is about 250 pages of written words, and she recommends 3 pages per day, preferably first thing upon waking. Buster came up with the idea of providing a website where anyone can sign up and have a blank screen every day for the purposes of writing their "morning pages." He sends out a daily reminder, and he came up with a scoring system that is somehow related to the idea of strikes and spares in bowling, which gives you more points when you complete your words on subsequent days (and the day after that and the day after that). I have done Morning Pages in a spiral-bound notebook every time I've have periods of completing them, but I love having the computer availability for this. It's not a blog. I could relate to what he said about not wanting to put private thoughts on my blog in case I forget to mark them "private." Eek! While I think there is a different type of benefit to writing words down on paper which is also valuable, I love being able to put my lightning-quick fingers on the keys and get my thoughts out quickly. He even tells your wpm, your streak of days, and a few other bits of information. From what I am seeing on his sites, he must really know computers. And he clearly enjoys creating websites to inspire other people through fun.

His second website is called Health Month and is one of the most creative and playful sites I've ever seen to track health habits i am trying to establish. He's made it into a game, which you can play with your friends, or just keep track of your own info. Checking in every day is part of the game and gives you points. If you complete your goal, you make it to the Wall of Amazingness at the end of the month. It's free to use, but if you want to work on more than three activities or habits in a month, he asks you to pay a small fee. All I can say is, both of these sites have really been encouraging me to get outside and exercise every day, to stick with the way I am eating, and to do my private journaling every day. It's only April 4, but the successes I am experiencing are building momentum, and I can see really completing the goals I have set for this month.

Sometimes in the day-to-day busyness, I can forget to look for and enjoy things that are fun, and I am really excited about having these two built-in opportunities every day to log in and smile. They are both extremely easy to use, and I highly recommend both.

Monday, April 2, 2012

An Experiment in Walking

The area where I live is primarily well-suited for driving. There are those who ride bikes as they can, and I do that a bit, but there are certain areas that are just too congested to ride a bike, in my opinion. I see people jogging along some of the roads around here that have about 12 inches of shoulder and I wonder why they choose those roads, as that seems unnecessarily risky to me. Anyway, I was headed off to a destination today that is most easily accessed by car. Indeed, I have never gone to this place any other way, even though it is only a couple of miles away.

As I am being intentional about implementing more walking into my routine, I decided I would walk to my destination today. I figured out a route that would leave me with the maximum exposure to sidewalks and less busy roads, and set off. At first I was going to play it safe. Walk straight up this road, turn left on that one, and voila I would be there eventually. But I really didn't think that it would be too enjoyable to walk on those roads, the ones with the twelve-inch shoulders. So, I put together a track that would go through a new, as-yet-unopened park, and then I'd cut through a really nice neighborhood, and walk through a couple of parking lots and I'd be there.

I had to intentionally decide to go off the beaten track. I'm not usually thinking about creating adventures for myself on a run-of-the-mill errand. But I figured I'd try. I had already lined Eli up to pick me up when the errand was complete because I knew the walk there would be as much as I wanted, or had time for. I could have him pick me up anywhere along the way if need be.

As I walked on the 12-inch-shoulder road, I stayed about 10 feet away from the road. And I noticed all this grass growing, recently planted, and bravely coming up and making the area green. As I walked down the new park road, I noticed the baseball diamonds there, much more grass, and a beautiful playground I had no idea was there. I am looking forward to the park opening so we can play there. I noticed that even being 50 feet from the road made the experience of being in that place completely different. I often feel like I am surrounded by civilization here and unending traffic and cars. Just that short distance gave me a little taste of being away from it all. I was amazed.

I had consulted the general birds-eye map in my head and thought I would come out on Road A on the track I was taking. However, I noticed that I instead came out at the back of the houses on Road B. Not a problem, exactly, except the good people of Road B all had fences along their back property, which of course prohibited me from making my way to Road B.

Well, I was in the middle of the woods, so I figured I'd just head along the fence line and either come out on Road B or Road A. I wasn't sure how a homeowner might feel when I emerged from the woods. But I got to find out. I startled a lovely man who was doing some gardening. He lives WAY back from Road A, so would hardly be expecting company, especially from the wilderness behind his house. I explained that I was experimenting with walking today and why I had come out on his driveway. He wasn't visibly thrilled, but neither did he call the police. I walked on, studiously avoiding doing anything that might look like I was "casing the place." Oh, Siouxsie, the criminal.

My next dilemma was about the lovely neighborhood I was intending to cut through. This is a gated community, but seeing as how the entire side was unfenced, I decided their concern must be more for cars than for people. I had to reassure myself though, "For crying out loud, I'm not a vagrant. I am wearing diamonds!" I debated about walking around the long way but it would have been about three times as long, and having just bushwhacked through the woods and with mud and straw clumped on my shoes, I decided I'd chance it.

Being me, I read all the signs before entering the neighborhood, just so I didn't miss any that would portend me getting arrested for this attempt to be a little more active in my lifestyle. Walking through that neighborhood was very nice and I got some good ideas for landscaping, since all the homes there had gorgeous and perfect landscaping.

Finally, I arrived at my destination. I am utilizing an app called MyTracks so as soon as I arrived, I checked out how far and how long I had gone. Then I walked inside and bought three appliances. But that is probably a story for another blog.

I could have driven to that store today. I probably could have driven it in my sleep as I've taken these particular roads thousands of times. But walking made it an adventure! I used my senses, and enjoyed the sensation of being surrounded by beauty. And I thought it was a good stretch to reach the edge of the woods that I wasn't expecting to see, and plough on through. I highly recommend it. And I highly recommend MyTracks. I would post my MyTrack from today, but this is the internet and the track gives too much specific information about my location. The picture at the beginning shows you what a typical track looks like. I'd be glad to share it with anyone privately, though.

What about you? Have you walked anywhere lately that you normally drive?