… and Kickboxing

I learned an important lesson about international travel a few weeks ago:

One should always end a long day of traveling with a bit of kickboxing.

You didn’t know that lesson?  Well, truly … I didn’t either.  But the estimable Best Friend showed up for my wedding last fall after two mad days of flying (from Zimbabwe to Minnesota), and promptly schooled me with Jillian Michael’s Kickboxing Fast Fix. So, when Husband and I took ourselves off for a Scottish holiday and landed on her doorstep, I remembered the ritual.

A few weeks ago, we arrived in an atypically sunny Edinburgh. With green grass showing and the temps in the 40s … I could literally feel the icicles melting from my soul.  [It has been a long winter in Minnesota]. We took a shuttle bus to the city center and rolled our bags across the cobblestones to our home away from home for the next nine days.

After unpacking, we took a brisk walk along the Water of Leith to closest Waitrose^ to procure the essentials (more chocolate! marshmallows to go with the “imported” graham crackers! more tea!) wherein the sun shone, the wind blew, and the hail fell* … we arrived back at home to settle in.

It went a little like this:

Best Friend (eagerly, and with an undue enthusiasm for Jillian Michaels): Do you want to kickbox?

Bethany: No.     ….    I’ll go change, shall I?

And, as I lay there on the conservatory floor afterwards … dying … I thought that she might actually have a point.  I was utterly whipped (especially being unable to sleep on the overnight flight), but I felt good. Not much would have dampened my joy at being in Edinburgh – having lived here for an all-too-brief six months after college Scotland feels a bit like home.  I never thought it would take me seven years to come back (thankfully I haven’t had to go seven years without seeing the Best Friend!), but life can do an amazing number on the best laid plans.

But, I was in Scotland. I was going to get to share one of my favorite places with Husband and see it all fresh through his eyes AND eat too much chocolate while having all of the conversations that typically occur in a faithful email correspondence that would make Jane Austen proud. And, thanks to kickboxing, I was well on my way to kicking jet lag and ready for a great trip…

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Husband enjoying the view from the Mound, over Princes Street Gardens.  (photo: Bethany Grimm, all rights reserved)

 

^fancy British grocery store chain

*just your typical Scottish day, eh?

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A tale of two trees

‘Tis a tale of woe and heartbreak.

Husband bought the house we live in several years ago. The house itself dates back to the early 1940s.  As a corner lot, we’re lucky to have some “boulevard” trees.  [I quote-acize boulevard because until recently, I did not know that’s what you called the strip of grass between the side walk and the street.  Who knew?]  This means the City planted them, and is ultimately responsible for them.

Our best guess is these trees in the boulevard are at least half as old as the house (so at least 30 some years), but it could be more.

This little story of woe begins last June. Being only affianced at that time, and still living in Minneapolis, I arranged with Husband to leave my car at his house while in Montreal for a long weekend. It would be safer than unattended in my apartment parking lot and waiting for me when he picked me up from the airport on Sunday night.

Drenched in the Euro-charms of Montreal, Facebook told on Friday that the Twin Cities were getting pummeled in some gnarly storms, and I knew Husband had planned to hang out with my travel buddy’s husband and two adorable Small Ones. So in the evening, I checked in via Google Talk (yeah for Free WIFI!).  Husband responds. 

“Oh man. Can we Skype? I have really bad news.”

Probably my least favorite phrase, just for reference. My thoughts do this: WHIZZ. Ohmygosh is he in the hospital? WHIZZ Is something wrong one of Small Ones??  WHIZZ  Has all life ceased to exist?

So I Skyped him.

“The tree fell on your car.  And it’s totally crushed.  I’m sorry babe, your car is dead.”

 
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Ah… yup. For reference, the tree used to look like this:

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For the most part, that tree got chopped up and added to our firewood pile (before the City came to pull the stump), so I’ll have a certain grim satisfaction of burning it piece by piece. But, we miss the shade it provided our backyard, and are now on the “tree replacement” list … for 2016.

A couple of months ago, we noticed the tree closer to the corner has a definite lean to it.  [The storms had straight-line winds in excess of 60mph and several inches of a rain in a couple hours’ period, so lots of trees went down because the ground was too wet and the winds too strong. I guess this one got pulled up ... but thankfully not over.]

It leans towards the house.

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And then we noticed the crack.

Boy am I glad that Husband doesn’t think I’m a blight on his trees.

So, it was with a heavy heart that I called the City after Christmas, having determined  that if we were going to have to remove it, at least we didn’t have to pay for it, by virtue of it being a boulevard tree.  They looked at a few weeks ago, and marked it for removal.

Last night, as Husband and I were heading home from Date Night, he said

“There’s a surprise at the house for you. I’m pretty sure you’ll notice it right away.”

We parked, and my work-addled brain couldn’t figure out why the snow was all trampled …

“Holy sh…. THEY TOOK THE TREE!!!!!!!!!!”  No, I hadn’t hugged it!  Or said good bye to it!  Or thanked it for its shade.”

 
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(It’s polar vortex part deux here, so … a morning after picture instead).
 
I’m glad it’s not a new roof waiting to happen, but man am I sad that it’s gone.  And I’m sure I’ll only get sadder when contemplating the Xcel bill this summer. It gave the house almost full shade in the late afternoon.

So here’s to you, dear trees.  I’ll miss you.

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So speed. Much purple. Wow.

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Husband introduced me to Imgur in recent months. He has a romantic but humorous streak, so it started with pointed sharing of kitten/puppy cuteness that could be interpreted in the context of our own cuteness … and has devolved into my own frequent visits to (and shares from) the site.

There I have discovered many of the hip things that the cool kids do.  And, as is pretty normal for me, I’ve become enamored of a particular meme just a little too late to be totally cool. I love the Doge meme in a way that makes me snort with laughter.  Everything can be Doge-ed.

If you are also late to this party … go ahead and Google it.  The simple inner monologue of dogs as visually ascribed to a Shiba Inu will make you laugh. I promise.  Or at least … it will make this post make more sense.

Tonight, while lacing up my shiny, new PURPLE* sneakers at the gym, I could not resist. I leaned over to Husband and showed off my shoes.  “So speed. Much purple. Wow.”

*purple is a pretty awesome color.

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Year in review

A “year in review” post indicates that there’s plenty to sum up. However, a glance at the history of this blog makes it look like that might be a reach.  One post in August hardly seems worthy of year that needs a post to sum it all up.

But, it’s the end of December and thoughts naturally turn to summation.

The blog has suffered from a small little problem known as my life got too crazy, and I just couldn’t keep up. For starters, I got married in September.  A year ago, this definitely wasn’t something contemplated in the resolutions. And yet … it’s definitely at the top of the highlight reel.  :)

Because planning a wedding in six months is just not enough change, I also switched Adult Jobs, quite the paying writing gig (only some many times you can write the same “Best of” article and not repeat places when you can only use “local” options), and moved across the Twin Cities (and back to St Paul). So much change. So much of it has been good. But, because I need reminder of this lesson: good does not always mean easy.

And, boy isn’t that the truth! Occasionally the universe delights in the Foibles of Bethany … and in some ways, my approach to change this year has qualified for such a title. Somehow, I convinced myself: “I know this is Change, and I’m prepared for it to be tough.” Like, if I acknowledged Change’s entrance in the room I would level up in my ability to deal.

I think the Universe is still laughing.

Change is good. But it can be hard. (I’ve perpetually been sick since October.) And, often, the only way is through.  And, so that’s just what I’ve done.  Gone through, and come to December with some ideas about 2014.

1.  Write more.

2. Re-acquaint myself with the gym.  (Not least because Big Brother has announced his intent to run both a half and a full marathon this year. I’m simultaneously proud and totally aware how frustrated I will be when he crushes both of my half times. I swear I’d never run a half again – I just hate that distance – but I’ve never been smart enough to ignore competition).

3. Strive for a better balance. New priorities (Hello Husband!) mean that it’s time to do a better job of managing life.

So here is a Happy New Year to you all!   See you soon.

Bonus: logging in here means I can go check another “changed name” location off the list ..

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Many happy returns…

The blog lives!!! After much ignoring of it, while writing for peanuts elsewhere,  it is now time to return here and write what I know.

Returning to my own blog is a consequence of returning to a real fitness routine. You see, I’m in the midst of a Challenge. A Jillian Michaels Challenge, actually,  for all the marbles… or maybe just bragging rights and an awesome wedding-ready body.

Many years ago when I was dedicated and self-motivated, I bought Jillian’s 30 Day Shred and recommended it on to my best friend, who lives across the ocean,  in delightful but damp Scotland. In the intervening years, the friend has gone on to conquer both ballet and the scary heights of several other Jillian workout dvds. I have done some running and some desultory attempts at Jillian whenever I tell myself I’m going to workout before work.

Enter the Challenge. Said friend has challenged a number of us to a Jillian Challenge comprising four weeks of killer workouts five times a week. There are measurements and blog requirements,  as well as a point system and a spreadsheet. This is serious stuff here. My imminent wedding and general fed-upness with being out of shape compelled me forward,  and now I’m typing this post a week and a day in… and boy am I sore.

There has been some 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30, as well as 20 minutes of Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism (not “easier” FRR, not easier at all!) and some Yoga Meltdown. But then, there was a race. A 5K. Once something I crushed routinely…injury and illness have curtailed my running in recent years. You may therefore imagine my surprise when my fiancé told me we were under 10 minutes at the one mile marker.  “Wait, what!?! How is that happening?  Whaddya know, a week of Jillian makes you faster.” Mile 2 was highly motivated by thoughts of looking amazing in my wedding dress, and mile 3 was all about “Let this dang-frabbling race BE OVER,” but we finished it.  And, in a faster time than our last race.

So, here is to the happy return to the blog, regular workouts,  and -since I will be doing Jillian on my birthday this week- me too!

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This one step…

… – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.”

This Scott Reed quote came into my life a few years ago at an opportune moment when I needed it most, and it fueled me on to better, happier things. It’s actually still up on my “favorite quotations” section on Facebook (because I’m sure people check that out all the time, and think about what a smart, clever person I am.) :P

Saw this pictorial reminder today, and am therefore sharing it here. Killing two birds with one stone really: tending to my much-neglected blog and putting some inspiration front and center.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

“Blue” gets a bad rap.  For example, people talk about feeling blue when they are sad.    A recent trip to Mexico showed me all of this blue, and “sad”  wasn’t the defining emotion.  :D

The View from Akumal Beach Resort

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

After a winter in Scotland, standing on Coumeenole Beach (near Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula in Western Ireland) in the bright, spring sunshine made me think that perhaps the damp little corners of my soul just might dry out, after all.

The author at Coumeenole Beach, Ireland in March 2007

Soaking up the spring sunshine and sea air while back-packing through Ireland.

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Some Easter thoughts

Not being a ham-eater (I know!  The sacrilege…), Easter was not the holiday I looked forward to when I was growing up.  Getting up early for Sunrise Service and having to put up with ham in the house was not nearly offset enough by Cadbury Eggs (much as I love them).

For all of these reasons, it’s funny that now I associate Easter with a different set of feelings.

The change started in 2007.  [I was in the middle of the European back-packing tour that was the bittersweet conclusion to six months of living in Edinburgh, Scotland on a student work visa.  Coming back to America was a daunting prospect.  I was happy in Edinburgh.  While my family was in the 'States, there was not much else waiting for me... no job, no place to live, and friends who had been building their lives, post-college, without me around.  Knowing that being in Europe with free time wasn't likely to happen anytime soon, I had planned this whole experience to give myself almost six weeks after my visa was up before I had to be in London catching a flight home.]

Some pieces of this Grand Tour had been planned, but I had a gap between being in Morocco for a week with my old college roommate, and a planned stay in Florence, Italy.   I got back to France on the Thursday before Easter, and spent some time in Marseilles and Nice.   But as beautiful as Nice is, my restless little soul whispered to me “keep moving, this isn’t it.”  So on Easter Sunday, I hopped on a train for Genova, Italy, and hoped I’d figure something out to keep me busy and entertained for a few days before heading to Florence in a few days’ time.

I sat on that train, and missed my family.  Desperately.  It was a strange feeling.  I had missed them in the months previous, certainly.  But it was a “I wish they were here, so I can show them this [insert cool thing/place/scene here]“, rather than a homesick feeling of wishing I was there they were.  But, sitting on that train, I felt homesick.  And lonely.  And, possibly, a little bit sorry for myself.  My sister was going to be telling everyone the first kid of the next generation was on its way, and I wasn’t there.

Upon arriving in Genova, I knew this wasn’t my stop either.  Back on the train, and following a hunch based on five sentences in a Lonely Planet guide, I was headed for the Cinque Terre and a town named Riomaggiore.

Riomaggiore was a blessing unlooked for that day. Landing in this little Italian town provided some much needed peace to a weary and sore soul. Watching the sunset from a hill overlooking the town and the water, I couldn’t help but think about a lesson learned long ago in all my years of Sunday School. There’s a section in Luke where Jesus basically tells his disciples not to worry so much.  Worry will not add any time to our lives, he says, pointing to how the birds are fed, and the lilies clothed in splendor … and how much more important are we than they?

I am often too logical for faith to be easy.

But in that Easter, I felt like maybe I was a lily too – amply and richly provided for, through no effort of my own.

Two years’ later, I thought about that feeling again, after spending Easter with my family and hearing a sermon about being surprised by hope.   It was interesting to have my experience framed, however coincidentally, in a way that resonated so strongly.  And Easter and I became a little bit better friends, as I wrote about what I was thankful for in a Facebook note.

Last Easter, I got to hold my brand new nephew and know again the joy and unfathomable love that is holding a new little one that is yours. [Dear niece and nephews, you are mine.  I'm not replacing your parents.  But, know this: I love you dearly and will always be there for you].

The year since has been a roller coaster I couldn’t have predicted.  But here I am again, at Easter – grateful the lessons learned and the memories made on this day.   Time goes far too quickly too often, so I’ll just take a minute here, if that’s alright.   :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Journey

“Journey” is a familiar word.

You could say I’ve got the wanderlust. After college, I moved to Scotland (where I had the opportunity to get a student work visa). When my visa was up, I backpacked for almost six weeks around Western Europe. I traveled by air, and train, and boat, and most certainly, by foot.   And, I took a few pictures …

The ferry that took me from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Gateway to a new world, I think I took this picture mostly because I liked the bright colors. :)

The train station in Genova, Italy. And amazingly enough, photographic evidence of an impulse in the making. In 2007, I hopped on this train on Easter Sunday - feeling a little homesick for my family and a little lost about where to go next. I headed for a little town called Riomaggiore, and found my own little slice of heaven.

In the Italian Riviera, between Genova and Pisa, there is an area of five little towns known as the Cinque Terre. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, these little villages clinging precipitously to the countryside overlooking the crystal blue waters were so remote that they were only accessible by carefully worn footpaths. These days, the trains come through, but the paths have become a national park. Visitors come in droves to hike from town to town, and enjoy the view (and the workout).

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