Monday, March 21, 2011

U is for United States

I travel a lot for work, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel a good amount most of my life. I have been trying to organize my life list for states visited to determine how many and which states I have yet to visit. Sometimes I fly in for a meeting and never see much beyond an airport and a conference center or hotel. Other times I am vacationing or have been blessed with the opportunity to explore. Here's my list. Those in bold are yet unvisited to the best of my knowledge.

Alabama - en route to FL
Alaska - mission trip
Arizona - grandparents, mother
California - meetings only
Colorado - many trips
Connecticut - one meeting
Florida - spring break!
Georgia - Atlanta+
Hawaii - two cruising spring breaks
Idaho (or not memorable?)

Illinois - raised there, father GO BEARS!
Indiana - most perfect uncle, etc.
Iowa - state next door all my life
Kansas - driving west, KC meeting
Kentucky - Berea Episcopal Youth Event!
Louisiana - Credo during Gulf hurricane
Maryland - during DC visits
Massachusetts - goddaughter support
Michigan - born there, cousins
Minnesota - Home Sweet Home
Missouri - Kansas City?
Montana - camping, sister, nephew
Nebraska - driving to somewhere else
Nevada (no, never been to Vegas)
New Hampshire - brief meeting
New Jersey - Princeton and Newark
New Mexico - camping, cousin
New York - I work there sometimes
North Carolina - Kanuga and more
North Dakota - Highway 2 and Salem Sue (MOO!)
Ohio - passing through
Oklahoma - driving only
Oregon - quick consecration celebration
Pennsylvania - Philly for sure
Rhode Island
South Carolina - many meetings
South Dakota - can you say Black Hills?
Tennessee - Nashville
Texas - San Antonio EYE and more
Utah - stood at Four Corners a couple times
Virgina - DC, Richmond & more
Washington - Seattle Office
West Virgina
Wisconsin - first legal beer!
Wyoming - Laramie EYE & Yellowstone

By that account I have 41 states leaving nine to go. But I have still never vacationed in or visited the continental west coast states for anything other than meetings. For a girl from the Great Lakes states, it should be no surprise that I still haven't made it to much of New England, the Deep South, or the West Coast.

How does your list compare?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

T is for Tuesday

FAT Tuesday, that is.

Yup, it's been official for awhile - I'm Fat as this Tuesday is.

I've been wrestling with this issue for a number of years from a number of perspectives. My early 30s were spent trying to recover my body from the fluctuation of pregnancies and lactation.

The latter 30s were spent worrying about my looks - I never did fully recover that pre-pregnancy body. But my doctor wasn't too worried about me as I weighed in at normal ranges and was pretty active.

Then 40 hit and I noticed differences in all kinds of things, including my eye site, my bladder, my uterus. I also started gaining more like two pounds a year rather than my more gradual creep of one pound per year during my 30s. My employment situation called for more sitting and less moving. My hormones caused my metabolism to shift. My stress levels as the mother of teenagers and leader of various ministries allowed me to give myself permission to consume my stress-relief beverage of choice to excess - Coca-Cola.

And now, according to the Mayo Clinic, I have no choice but to acknowledge that I have tripped into territory I never would have imagined, especially as a relatively athletic human. I am officially obese.

I know that you can't turn back the clock of time. I don't even covet the body I once had at 20-something. But I do not want to follow the current path of neglecting my over-all health. I'm already on a low does of high blood pressure medication. I've been battling an issue with my neck shoulder and back for two months. My energy level isn't what it used to be. And I am not yet 50!

So my Fat Tuesday confession, as I enjoy my normal diet and activities, is to publicly acknowledge my issue and to pledge to do something about it. It is time to name the demon and take control. I don't want to trudge along by default. I want to live a long, healthy, full life.

To gain a baseline I have been counting my calories for the past two days with no attempt at limiting my intake or trying to steer my choices to healthier habits. Monday I hit 1961 calories. According to the Mayo site I only need 1700 calories a day to maintain my current weight given my current activity level. Some of those calories were pure sugar, too; Coke, Thin Mints, you know the delightful stuff. I also skied pretty hard for an hour and took a dance break at lunch time. Minor trade-offs.

Today, as I author this post, I have already hit 1497 calories consumed. It isn't even dinner time yet, and I am hungry (partly because I am thinking about FOOD!)

My goal is to gradually turn the train around and I intend to use Lent this year to do it. Less sugar, more activity. I'm not going to bite off more than I can chew (pun totally intended!), but I hope to use the season of Lent to work on more conscious and healthier habits. My goal is to steer toward a maximum of 1500 calories per day plus 30 minutes of strenuous activity.

So that's my story for the day, and I'm sticking to it! If all goes well I be less than obese by my next birthday so I can enjoy my second 50 years! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 7, 2011

S is for Skiing

(Downhill/Alpine that is.)

I have been an avid skier for 33 years.

My earliest days at this crazy sport were spent at Chestnut Mountain Resort. Having had a taste of skiing the winter before, I spent most of my sophomore year in high school at Chestnut either skiing, working in the gift shop, or partying with friends. It was the winter of 1977/78. The ski hill was only six miles further down Blackjack Road from the Pilot Knob turn-off for my house.

Larry, one of my water skiing buddies, said he would teach me how to handle the rope tow. I followed him right over the edge of the sidewalk in front of the rental shop, by-passing the two bunny hills to stop at the bottom of the #3 rope tow, the steepest of the bunch. Larry promptly turned toward me, grabbed hold of the rotating nylon rope, and slid up the hill backwards saying, "It's easy, Bronwyn, just point your skis up the hill and hold on!"

Needless to say, I was flat on my face faster than you cold say "ski!" Damn hotshot.

Chuck and Phil weren't much more helpful. They didn't even pause to help me and simply headed for Blackhawk with a "Good luck! See you later . . ."

I worked hard that winter. I was fearless and by God they were not going to ditch me for the entire winter. Besides, on weekends the lift lines were long enough that I could catch up to them anyway.

I spent the next three winters skiing as often as I could and working as a lifty bumping chairs at the bottom. Chestnut, also known by locals as Mount Plastique due to the bogus trees prominent in the interior decorating, was my home away from home. Many of my friends gained their livelihood there, and some still do! (Murph? if you're out there I'm certain I have a lifetime season pass!) My favorite thing at Chestnut was being the first and only skier headed to the bottom to start my night skiing shift. The view from the top of Chestnut is pure, unadulterated Mississippi River wildness. Skiing down during a spectacular sunset was simply the frosting on the cake.

Fast forward to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. During the winter of 1981/82 my boyfriend and I bought passes for Afton Alps near the St. Croix river, just east of St. Paul. Okay - not remarkable enough to comment on.

Then Dale and I settled south of Hastings where we've been raising our sons for the past 22 years. We've had season passes to Welch Village most of those 22 years. Both boys were skiing as soon as they could walk, both no older than three.

The view at the top of Welch isn't as breath-taking as the Chestnut view, but the Cannon River Valley is pretty spectacular. Last year Welch offered an Olympic Anniversary sale and we all bought our season passes for $99. We were such good customers they were able to replace an old chairlift. And the skiing this winter has been FANTASTIC!

The last three weeks I've been heading down to Welch in time for sunset skiing. My goal is at least ten runs in an hour. There haven't been any crowds so I can usually get in even more runs than ten in an hour and still be home in time for supper. I've seen numerous hawks and Bald Eagles. Sometimes I meet with friends and family. Sometimes I simply plug into my iPod, giving thanks for my new helmet with the ear pockets for my SkullCandy earphones.

Tonight I spent part of the night skiing with Suzanne (testing new skis) and Rachel (riding a new board), and the rest skiing with the Bare Naked Ladies and the Black Eyed Peas. It was a great night.

Tomorrow I think I will renew my season pass for $149! I love my ski area. And I am thankful that I am still skiing. Care to join me?

P.S. I've been skiing Chicken quite a bit this week - nice conditions. I still think Apache at Chestnut is steeper and longer. I've only skied Warpath a couple of times, but I think it's the only double black diamond in the Midwest that truly rates the dual status. Guess I'll have to get back down there to check it out.