Friday, October 19, 2012

The Good Enough Mom Becomes a Runner (Sort of)

I write this by way of encouraging myself to get back in the exercise groove, which is so much harder for me during the school year with its busy schedule and cold mornings and dark afternoons . . .

If you asked me what my hobbies are, I don't think exercise would make the list. I view it as a necessary evil, one which I sometimes subject myself to and sometimes do not. And running has always been one of my least favorite of all the exercise options.

So when daughter #2 asked to do the same school-based girls' running program that daughter #1 did a few years ago that involves a parent running a 5K with their daughter, I looked at my out-of-shape and on-the-bad-side-of-35 body, and I said, "sure, I can do that!" And then the next day I started running. Well, really it was shuffling. This time around I actually had to start on week 1 or 2 of the couch to 5K program, rather than jumping in at week 6 like I used to be able to do. It was pathetic, really. But I did it.

So here I am, 8 or so months later, and I can run 3 miles without stopping in under 30 minutes. Or I can run 5-plus miles with a few stints of walking. Here's what I've learned in the process:

1) Running is a good way to clear your mind. I still find it somewhat unpleasant while I'm running (although running outside on a trail makes it almost enjoyable), but I always feel better afterwards, and now I find that I look forward to running because I like the way I feel after I'm done.

2) Running will not necessarily help you lose weight, but it will tone you and help you feel better in whatever body you have. Weight loss would have been nice, but I'm satisfied that it's still been worth it even without that.

3) Anyone can run. Really. You may be shuffling for 1 minute at a time and thinking it'll kill you when you start out, but stick with it and you'll get better. I promise. And if you feel like everyone is secretly laughing at your pathetic shuffle, they aren't. They are either thinking "good for her!" or  "she's shuffling just like me!"

4) You have to run regularly, but 30 minutes three times a week is enough to make progress. All spring and summer I ran at least every three days. If I took 2 days off, I made myself run the next day because I was afraid otherwise I'd never get back to it. And sometimes I did better after taking 2 days off than after taking only one day off. In theory, an hour and a half a week is such a small amount of time that anyone can fit it in, but I have to admit it's been very hard for me to even find that much time since school started.

5) Tracking your miles is very motivating. I used, but there are many ways to do this. My plan for next year is to set a mileage goal for the year.

So there you have it--sort of a non-runner's running guide. I still marvel at people who can run marathons, or who take months at a time off and can still go out and run a 5K with ease, or who can have a baby and then a few months later run a half marathon like it's no big deal (Abby and Leah, I'm talking about you!), but at least I can run a little, and I'm in better shape at 36 than I was at 26.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Introverts and Worship

I've been thinking a lot about church worship lately and trying to analyze why I've been so happy at the church I go to that has a very traditional worship service. (And no, that's not my church, that's George Herbert's church in Bemerton, England.) I've come to the conclusion that although I think there are some very good theological reasons for a worship service using a traditional order of worship (an order which most contemporary services don't follow--although they have their own sort of "liturgy" that is the same week after week), that's not the real reason why I don't know if I could transition to a contemporary styled service. After all, I could follow the same model of call to worship, confession, affirmation of the faith, service of the Word, response to God, etc. in my own home and view corporate worship as a chance to worship less formally. I think the real reason I feel uncomfortable in a contemporary styled service is that I am an introvert.

Introversion has been written about more in recent years, perhaps most notably here and here. The theory, as I understand it, is that introverts and extroverts process things differently in the brain, and therefore introverts get overstimulated in loud, people-full environments and need to get away by themselves to process. It seems to me like this idea has implications for worship. Could it be that I like a more reserved approach--without a worship leader and drums--not out of personal preference, but because I get overwhelmed and distracted from worshiping when something is too showy and noisy? Is it possible that my discomfort over someone too overtly expressing their worship with body swaying, hands raised over their heads, etc. is because I'm an introvert and prefer to not have someone so in my face with their internal thoughts? And, by the same token, if extroverts process their thoughts externally, do some extroverts need to sway, lift hands, etc. to feel like they have worshiped? Are they left cold and unmoved by the choral anthem that I find elevates my heart to worship far more deeply and easily than a contemporary chorus, however Biblical its words may be?

I don't know if I'm pegging this right, but it just seems to me that my discomfort in live contemporary worship settings is not a matter of taste. It's not like I'm trying to feel uncomfortable in such places--I'm trying to worship. I just find that I can't. Even if I know the songs and like to sing along when they come on the radio, somehow when they are sung in a roomful of people I start looking longingly at the nearest exit. So if my goal is to worship, and I know and like the songs, it seems like there must be some underlying cause to my discomfort--and my current theory is that it might have something to do with my being an introvert.

Even if I'm right in thinking that my preferences in worship have an underlying cause that is in some way biological, obviously the answer isn't that introverts and extroverts should have different worship services. We are all the same family, children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. So we need to find some way to make it work. We all need to grow in our worship and learn from one another. But I do hope that the 75% majority of extroverts don't ignore the needs of some of us introverts for reserved, predictable worship services. The kind of places where we are not distracted from focusing on God by the worship leader's showmanship or personality being injected into the service. Where we can think and process and not be made uncomfortable by the unpredictability of what might happen next (are we going to sing the chorus again or end it now?). Where we can in some way be alone with our thoughts even as we are sharing a common worship experience.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


by Alison Taylor (age 9)

Yellow is a color that makes you feel warm
that makes you feel happy when feelings are worn.
It's the color of popcorn and butter on bread
the color that makes you feel smart in your head.
Yellow is heat on a hot summer's day,
the day that you got invited to play.
It's lions and tigers--but bears are not such.
Their fur is brown and their smiles are not much.
Yellow makes children think happiest thoughts
the day that they fell down or nearly got lost.
Yellow is better than green, blue, or red
cause it makes you  not sick or curled up in bed.
Yellow makes us feel all happy inside
and now you've met yellow--with ME as your guide.