Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April 7 2018 Sermon at Faithworks - Incarnation and Embodiment

[This is the hardcopy text I was reading from but is not what I said verbatim. I have also included quoteblock bits that were either on slides or were an important part of my preparation.]
Psalm 133 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.

I’m not actually teaching about this psalm. I asked that it be read because I love the poetry, the imagery about how beautiful our unity can be – how very good and pleasant it is when kindred, family, we the body of Christ, live together in unity, it is an overflowing anointing – oil running down the beard and robes of the priest, dew flowing down the mountains of the promised land, how very good and pleasant is this overflowing blessing of unity. I just thought that was so beautiful. (touchstone during preparation)

Part of how we participate in the unity of the Body is following the liturgical calendar and lectionary. I did not grow up following the calendar, and discovering it as an adult has been a blessing to a rocky faith. So in the calendar, it’s still Easter until Pentecost, which is in late May this year. On this second Sunday of Easter, I feel tasked with moving us from the tomb towards the next Season, which is the longest, with the most unfortunately boring name – Ordinary Time.

I was thinking how I associate Advent and Christmas with darkness and Easter with light. I have to think this is by design, since Advent and Christmas coming with the onset of winter darkness. And over those dark months between Christmas and Easter the lectionary points us toward examining Jesus’ life, what he said and did in his ministry between those days in his life. As I run with this metaphor of night and sleep, Jesus tells us parables like he’s telling us dreams, dreams about the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom of God is like a farmer sowing seed, like a merchant finding a precious pearl, like a wise king, a fair landowner, like a fishing net, a wedding feast, like buried treasure, a mustard seed, yeast.

At the darkest point of this night is the Cross and Jesus fulfills the promise – the kingdom of God is the greatest love, to lay down one’s life for another, for all others. But then the tomb is empty and it’s the dawning of a brave new day, we step into the light as the Church, the Body of Christ, and it’s up to us to make those parable dreams come true – to be the kingdom of God on earth here in our time here, to be farmers and wise kings, virgins with their oil lamps awaiting the bridegroom, mustard seeds, fishing nets, yeast. We carry the love of Jesus into the new day, into Ordinary Time –how beautifully designed is that? Because it is the Ordinary workaday time of the year, warm under the summer sun, Planting Growing and Harvest – what beautiful bright kingdom work can be wrought in our regular ordinary days?

And what does it mean to undertake that work as a body, as a body in unity, as a body unified in reflecting Jesus? I think that’s a great direction to orient ourselves toward walking into Ordinary time. And the lectionary readings definitely spurred me in that direction – the Psalm we just heard, the Acts 4 passage about the whole group of believers being of one heart and soul and sharing everything, a passage from 1 John affirming our collective responsibility to be God’s light to the whole world, and in a less obvious way, the story of Thomas. And, if you’ve heard me teach before, you know I inexplicably find it necessary to focus on the least obvious text.
John 20:19-31 (NRSV)
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The second Sunday of Easter is Thomas’ day, because Jesus waits eight days to return. The eighth day is historically important. In the OT, it is the day for blessing and commissioning – a day for priestly ordinations, dedicating the firstborn, the day for circumcision, a day for offerings. It's important that this is the day Thomas experiences the Incarnation, and that blessing propels his faith, it’s a commissioning of his actions in faith. He goes on to start over seven churches in what is now southern India. I didn’t know that; “Doubting Thomas” gets such short shrift as some sort of failed disciple but the truth is his encounter with Jesus on this day activated conviction that fueled incredible work for the kingdom.

So I want to affirm what this story is not:

This is not a cautionary tale against doubt. Thomas is not merely an example of someone with Lesser Faith, who dared to put conditions on his belief in Jesus. Jesus’ words are not a rebuke, “If you can’t believe without seeing, your blessing is cancelled and withdrawn.”

This is not a story about the indulgence of God. Jesus is not merely patronizing Thomas’ petulance by giving in to his demands with a supercilious grace. Jesus’ words are not snide chiding, “You really shouldn’t need such base reassurances as seeing with your own eyes to believe in me.”

This is not a story about Jesus proving he is the last and best prophet because he suffered the most. This is not merely an opportunity for Jesus to say “Yeah look what I did, be convinced by my suffering that what I’ve said are the best truest ideas about God.” And I expect I'd get pushback from some of you on this one, so let me clarify:

The contrast between ancient Israel’s experience and that which the New Testament makes available was not between law and grace, but between mediated grace and embodied grace. –Daniel Block
Listen, Israel already had a prophetic tradition. They had already experienced God’s grace and faithfulness – manna in the wilderness, arrival in the promised land. They had already heard the most important things God has to say, “I see you, I love you, I choose you, follow me.” It’s just that they’d always heard it mediated through prophets. I'm just saying God didn’t need to send another prophet in Jesus to say all those things again – to be the last best prophet. God didn’t need to send another martyr to die for his convictions – to be the last best martyr. We don’t believe in the best prophet and martyr of all time. We believe in the embodied love and grace of God himself.

That’s what Thomas is about!

This story is about Thomas seeing the Incarnation in its completion – Easter is the cross and the empty tomb and now these seven weeks of Jesus revealing himself to create a record of witnesses. Because rising from the dead is the confirmation of Jesus declaring he is God – he wasn’t just a good teacher, or a good prophet, or a good martyr – he has power over death, and now everything is different.

What I hear in Thomas’ demands is the cognitive difficulty of grasping the incarnation because if it's true he so desires to fully surrender to that truth – “He was really God? He really loves us that much? I’ve got to touch it, I’ve got to see him - If I touch the resurrected Jesus I will know how loved I am, I will know God came here, to tell me to my face, I see you, I love you, I choose you, follow me.” And when he does see Jesus, he responds with the highest confession of faith in the gospels, “MY Lord, MY God.” It’s not just a statement of belief, but a declaration of trust and a claim of relationship.

Thomas witnesses Incarnation, and it propels him to represent the incarnation in all his future actions, propels him to stretch the incarnation out into his work for the kingdom. That’s how the blessing of embodied grace becomes his commissioning on this eighth day. There’s a parallel commissioning for us experiencing incarnation, and it’s contained in Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We believe in embodied grace and are blessed to then turn and embody grace to those around us. We all have our Thomas moment (or moments) when we confront the idea of an incarnate saviour and ask (maybe with some cognitive difficulty) “Does God really love me that much?” and another believer stands in Jesus’ stead, to affirm yes, yes, he really does.

Blessed are we who believe without seeing Jesus directly, but rather Jesus embodied in the life of another believer. We experience Grace, we reorient ourselves to stand in Jesus’ stead and affirm to the next Thomas and the next, yes, really, truly, God loves us all that much. When we believe without seeing, the blessing and the commissioning is that we stand in place of the Incarnation, that we embody grace, that we stretch Jesus’ presence out into the world by being the Body. As this paraphrase of Hubmaier states it, ‘The vocation of the Body of Christ is to prolong the Incarnation in History.”

I keep saying this word Embodiment and I think it’s necessary to define my terms, because it’s the centre of the Incarnation. Embodiment means seating your sense of Self within your body, instead of holding your Selfhood in your mind as something separate from your body. It means living in your body, really uniting all of you into your physical space. Embodiment means erasing the mind-body dualism. It means knowing you don’t have a body, you are a body. You are your body.

We, as a culture, are sort of terrible at Embodiment. We grew up in Modern post-Enlightenment culture, that was the flavour of soup around us. During the Enlightenment, Reason became the elevated ideal, the primary source of authority and legitimacy. And this prioritizing of Reason then defines and widens a mind-body dualism, and the dualism is hierarchical – so Mind is above all and Body is secondary. Under mind-body dualism, our sense of Self is that we are fundamentally Minds who happen to have Bodies, and they are at best inconvenient water bags that require stupid things like food and sleep. And at worst they are incredibly stupid water bags that will not bend to the will of our Minds and be the Physical Ideal the world has told us we Could be if we just EXERTED OUR WILL A LITTLE HARDER.

I encounter this literally every day at work, because it is so frutrating to our minds to have a body in pain that we can’t ignore can’t explain and can’t make go away. The physical work I do of using my body to help their bodies is the simplest part of my job, I sometimes don’t even think about it, I just am in my body doing it. The hardest part of my job is teaching patients to stop treating their bodies as separate from themselves – I honestly think my actual job is bringing people into their bodies, sometimes at their lowest points, at these points of deep pain when embodying that pain is the last thing they want to do, but I know connecting to their body is how they'll heal.

I could talk literally forever about the consequences of our disembodied dualistic lives in terms of physical and mental health, especially for women, and if you want to listen to me rant about it while eating good food and honouring our hunger please hmu after. But that’s not why I’m up here, so let’s talk about the spiritual effects. Because there are theological consequences of this dualist thinking, which impact our understanding of an Incarnate God, and subsequently our sense of embodying his example in our lives. 

The consequences of applying the mind-body dualism to our understanding of the incarnation is a disembodied Jesus – that is, his life is reduced to the ideas he left us. And the consequence of that upon the church’s call to prolong the incarnation is a disembodied Body of Christ – that is, defining ourselves as purveyors of the Best Ideas about God. Rather than the body, we become the Mind of Christ.

And that sets the stage for legalistic and fundamentalist assertions of the best ways to think Jesusly, and that creates a shame framework where the brokenness Jesus came to heal gets twisted into “sin” by which we are disqualified from blessing due to our lesser faith.

Under disembodied theology, our sense of spiritual Self is that we are fundamentally theological Minds who happen to have messy human lives, and those lives are at best inconvenient distractions from being a Good Disciplined Christian. And at worst our humanity is a shameful reality that will not bend to the will of our Theological Minds and be the Spiritual Ideal the church has told us we Could be if we just EXERTED OUR WILL A LITTLE HARDER.

Just as I believe there is freedom in erasing the mindbody dualism in our physical health, I want freedom from that dualism in my spiritual health. I don’t want to exert theological will over my life and ignore or shame the parts of me that will not bend. I don’t want to believe any part of me is beyond the reach of Christ or unacceptable to the God who created those very parts of me. I don’t want a faith that brings me out of my humanity – I claim (with Thomas) “My lord and My God” came down to be in my humanity, came down and embodied humanity fully, and sits with me in the most painful parts of that. That’s where I find how much I belong to God.

God wants freedom from this mind-over-mess dualism in our spiritual health as the Body. Unity is not about exerting a collective theological will over the lives of believers, or shaming the parts of our lives that will not conform to a false Spiritual Ideal. The Spiritual Ideal is our complete lovedness – there is no part of us beyond the reach of Christ, there is no part of us unacceptable to the God who created those very parts of us. The purpose of embodied grace is not to divorce us from our humanity, but to live with us into that humanity and love it – love our mess our sin our bodies and our minds – Jesus came to live WITH us IN that. Emmanuel. We have unity not in conformity, but in knowing how completely we all belong to God, how completely we are all loved by God. 

I’ve probably heard over twenty earnest presentations on the love contained in our incarnate saviour and I cannot say many of them penetrated too much. Talking about embodiment keeps it too much in headspace, it’s words about a concept, and easy to dismiss because we’re so entrenched in mindbody dualism. We learn embodiment by Doing embodiment. So I’m going to do something I thought I’d maybe never do, and give homework from a sermon. I’m so hesitant to be prescriptive about Doing Faith. Obviously I can’t make you do this, it’s just an invitation that I hope will bring these ideas into your body.

First, I invite you to think about something messy and human about your identity that you have felt falls outside the Spiritual Ideal, something over which you’ve tried to exert your theological will, something you’ve set aside as unseen or unacceptable to God because it doesn’t conform. My Thing is I spent most of life thinking my fatness disqualified me from the Spiritual Ideal. But it doesn’t have to be a literal body thing. Just something in your identity that’s been left out of God’s love – your singleness, athleticism, introverted personality, anything [although it was not safe for me to say this at church, obviously I would include sexuality, and God does, too.]

And I want you to discover how loved that part of you is, not only in prayer (but certainly first and foremost in prayer) but then also in physical affirmation by another member of this congregation. So I want you tell someone, someone you aren’t related to but someone you trust. And all of us are going to promise right now, if someone shares their Thing with you, we promise to celebrate it with you, yes/yes?

Honestly you can all just come tell me. Selfishly that will be super gratifying, but for real this is just my favourite thing, people being released from theology that has harmed and discovering the Love of Jesus. Is that cheesy? I don’t even care. This is the third time I’ve been invited to teach and every time could be summarized as like “Y’all do you know how stinking loved we are? Cuz like you have heard the Bible interpreted this way but hey what if we saw it this way instead?” I became so afraid of a weaponized Bible that I stopped going to it, and in deconstructing and reconstructing my faith, I learned to come to the Bible and ask only “what is God saying about God in this?” And over and over what God says is I love you I love you I love you. It is delicious, and I want everyone to taste it, truly if you never get tired of hearing it, I will never get tired of teaching it.

But listen, this is something Faithworks does super well, affirming our brokenness not as something to be fixed but something to be loved. I think I’ve heard Roger describe this church as the island of misfit toys, the church of people burned by Church. We’re good at celebrating how loved we are here. So I know Mel would love to celebrate these unloveable parts of you also. And Roger’s not here to say no, so imma volunteer him, too. But I just think it’s really important to take this beyond an intellectual inventory and make it a community experience. To practice embodying the incarnation with each other, really seating our sense of Ecclesial Self in united lovedness.

Second, I invite you to be curious about people doing Christianity differently from you. I don’t want to make another person your homework because it’s dehumanizing to turn another human into a project. So this can be just an observation exercise and maybe that will organically give rise to conversations and relationship, but just be curious, ask questions even just of yourself, regarding people who live out their lovedness is a different way. And you can share that with someone at Faithworks, too, but for sure, just have an openness and curiosity about different expressions of faith having equal validity because they come from equal love.
The focus on enlightenment rather than embodiment distances us from the messy business of being human. If you’re doing it right, Presence, rather than detaching you, sensitizes you to your environment. It puts you smack dab in the discomfort, the disagreeability, the pain, the awkwardness, and the contradiction – this is where you can grow more skilled at meeting life where it’s at, rather than how you’d prefer it to be. In other words, allowing the full spectrum of events to be included in your experience, rather than mounting resistance to them. –Toko-pa

(in summary) The story of Thomas is not about lesser faith meeting the ultimate theological Mind and being corrected into proper faith. It is about Thomas meeting the completed Incarnation revealed by resurrection, and knowing his wholeness, his complete utter lovedness accomplished by God With Us. This story does not point at us a message of correction, but invites us along with Thomas to discover the Incarnation. And the love we encounter there commissions us to represent that love, embody that Incarnational love, and invite the next person to discover it, too.

When we tell the Thomases around us how much Jesus loves us, and they ask “Does he really love me that much?” we can point to more than the Best Ideas about God as a checklist – Jesus loves if we think just like this. We are not merely the Mind of Christ with the Best Ideas about God, we offer more than holy conformity. So when they ask “Does he really love me that much?” we answer from the whole of our embodied Selves in a diversity of expressions but the same best message about God, God sees you, God loves you, God chooses you, come follow with us. That’s unity in the Body of Christ, that’s how we’re going to make parable dreams come true, amen?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mama Bean misses that goofy giraffe

When a young person dies, it is a theft
of the time they will not now live
of the family they leave
on earth or in ether
of the potential not realized
of all the love they had yet to give
and receive

When a young person dies, there is little comfort
in pain defered
in suffering and disease avoided
and there it is
the selfishness
we would have them live it all
if it meant they could live

When a young person dies, we are weighed down
by sorrow, yes
and new questions
of what is right
and what is enough
what could possibly be
for their legacy

When a young person dies, all that love
not lived
comes to us
the living
and we must spend it


Friday, October 25, 2013

Mama Bean was driven to poetry (!)

On this windy morning
this Arctic wind
pierces your breath
drives out any thought
but the next immediate task
get inside! then fold
face the very centre of
what's real
(the need for warmth)
while anything else
you thought real
is blown away

On this grey morning
when the sky pulls down
like a helmet
leaving a band of pale light
just an inch over the horizon
life condensed again
just a ribbon
clinging to the road and trees
over there a patch of
vaguely brighter haze
where the sun
may be rising
but why would it

On this morning which,
in short
(too late, too late)
insists on being melancholy

give in

let yourself fold down
like a helmet
against the wind
and give in to
that broken place

or if you must unfold
look up at that grey
look! it is empty
and waiting
to be painted
with your memories
or your dreams about

but curling inside
one could simply
carry that grey sky
like a swath of cotton
and mist
carry it pressed to the wound

the wind has polished you
cleaned the surface
who would know
what you painted
and held
(so tight)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mama Bean is pretty pleased with her garden this year

I fear I've been remiss in my garden posts this year :( It's been a good year, the whole process is starting to feel more natural, more fitted into our family culture. I don't overthink or overplan or overworry as much, I mean, I think all gardeners do these things, but I hope my concerns are less n00by now... I must say, however, that the magic of growing still touches me daily. My yard doesn't look exactly as I'd like, I can never do all the chores (and weeding) that I need, but every day I see the beauty I helped coach into the world. And every day it surprises me - by having its own mind of growth, by being more beautiful than I imagined, by asserting its otherness, by forcing me to breath in that I am not in control. Breath in, breath out, look what magic happens all by itself... [The picture is of my fairy garden, the perfect white flowers are on the Scottish moss.]
I planted the cucumbers on the south end of the beds this year, learning from last year's north end/shaded by potato plants disaster. The vines did much better, though the dilapidated chicken wire trellis is not sturdy enough for cukes as it was for peas. I may source a cheap futon frame on kijiji and build another trellis like the north bed's for cukes next year. Although in principle I'd like to rotate the crop into a different location next year, the south end is the best place for them. I will have to amend the soil to replace what they took out.
A forgotten carrot from last year sprouted (well ahead of when I even seeded carrots this year, which goes to show how early I probably can seed in the future) and flowered this year. There are eight or nine 'blossoms' which are large discs of hundreds of tiny flowers. Carrots and baby's breath are related. Each tiny flower will become a seed. I won't have to buy as much seed next year. And I will leave one carrot from each of the types we grew this year to seed out next year. And that makes me very happy :) [The types we grew this year are a few purple haze, a few sweetness III, a package of red atomic, and a package of atlas. The red atomic seeds only came up sparsely. Considering how well everything else came up, I'm attributing this to the quality of the seed, and won't be buying from that company next year.]
There are eight different kinds of foliage in this bed this year, it's like a green rainbow. I am terrible at spacing rows. In fact, there were two rows of soy that should have also been in this bed (where? where did I think it would fit??) but the rabbits ate every sprout down to the dirt. The kale grew ridiculously well. Unlike every other brassica I've tried to grow, it had no bugs. Papa Bean asked to grow it this year. Then he made kale chips. Then he declared they 'still taste like vegetable' Then I blended and froze half the harvest. Maybe I'll make some more chips for myself and the kids. I may grow it ornamental-style next year. It's a very pretty plant.
French fingerling potatoes. We have repurposed the recycling boxes for potato growing, now that we have a big autobin for our cardboard, etc. What I hate about root crops, and potatoes in particular, is that I have no real idea how well the harvest is going. The plants are large and healthy, they flower like crazy, but there could be no potatoes under there. I fear we have not hilled/mounded/added dirt enough :( This is one crop I consistently fail at, I may just give up next year. It's not like potatoes are expensive.
I often feel like I have my yard/garden, and it occupies this slice of my mental pie over here, tucked away. And then I have my tomatoes, and they are like my children, and they take up the rest of the pie. I don't weed, I don't monitor, I may not even look at my whole garden every day, but I visit my tomatoes two or three times a day. I talk to them. I check their blossoms. I pinch off extra leaves. It's amazing, really, that I haven't created some sort of chart for them. I know I'm getting the hang of this gardening thing because my neighbour, who has gardened for decades, who got us hooked up with the community plot when we first started, who grows copious amounts of food for fun, asked me what magic love songs I sing to my tomatoes :D So I know I'm doing something right...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mama Bean is doing push ups

About a week ago, I volunteered to be in a group for our local CBC morning show, trying out a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise program touted in the NYT as The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Our "Fit in 7" group agreed to do the program daily for two weeks and report back. The first day, we visited a trainer to teach us the steps. Papa Bean and I had tried it a couple days before to get a feel for it, so I knew the steps, knew they were simple but *NOT* easy - but being the first day and being a wee bit competitive, I pushed pretty hard in the studio. Enough that I sort of growled at the very nice reporter covering our progress (sorry Trevor!), and promptly felt like vomiting afterward. The nausea lasted the morning. The soreness set in while I was working that evening. It made me realize how much I use my calves, lower back, and obliques to do my job, when my body twinged every ten seconds with every patient lol.

This initial taste confirmed the reasons why I thought this would be a good program for me to try. The program is very simple - you can tell what the exercise is from a picture, more or less. They don't require buying extra equipment - a chair, something to step on, comfy clothes... The difficulty of the steps is self-inflicted; it's as hard as you push yourself. And it is a complete body work-out; every muscle is used, especially trunk/core muscles that almost anyone would benefit from strengthening (to save our lower backs from compensating for weakened cores.) And it's scientifically-backed, which means I should see measurable benefits relatively quickly.

These are the 12 exercises: jumping jacks, wall sit, push ups, crunches, step ups, squats, tricep dips, plank, high knees, lunges, push up rotations, and side planks. The second day, PB and I did it together and counted the countable ones, to compare after the two weeks. Surprisingly, I was kind of on par with him on most things except the upper body things - I did 11 modified push ups (from my knees) to 15 of his full push ups (from his toes) and 9 modified tricep dips (with knees bent/feet flat) to 23 (sigh) of his full dips (legs straight/toes up). After that, my knees were stiff/swollen and my lats/rotator cuff/obliques were tender/achy. I slept like the dead. By morning, everything was stiff and my left SI (my weak point) was pinching. I self-adjusted the SI and stretched and felt fine in a couple hours.

I have the benefit, I suppose, of having learned about exercise physiology through my career and fitness-oriented colleagues, but I haven't lived it out practically with this intensity before. It helps that I know my musculo-skeletal anatomy. I can self-examine and stretch or adjust whatever might be ailing from whatever exercise I do (same thing happened when I was doing the Couch to 5K program.) I know to ice my knees, I know to hydrate. Although I feel like a fitness n00b, in terms of actual fitness level, I'm glad I had the background knowledge to support my efforts and success.

Most of the time, I do the workout at home. We tried it last night outside, on the soft grass in the fresh air, but it wasn't actually that great :( We spent our 10 second rest times rushing to the next spot (to the vestibule for step ups, to the garden box for tricep dips, to the grass for crunches) and the grass was itchy on hands and slippery for feet (my plank ended abruptly.) I also did it once at my gym, but I didn't enjoy really givin' her around other people - I felt embarrassed. I think the ability to do it at home in private is the best part, in a way. I can breathe like a dying horse and roll around in exhausted agony, and flop/jiggle without shame - and burn and sweat and feel stronger for it.

I have felt stronger every day - that kind of immediacy with results is exactly what this easily discouraged, chronically overweight lady needs. I don't get sore (DOMS) as much, nor am I as stiff. I sleep like the dead every night and wake up feeling more rested. I'm in a better mood. I can do 15 push ups (vs 11) and 15 tricep dips (vs 9), my two weakest exercises. After only seven days!

When the CBC show posted about this segment on their facebook page, there was this weird pushback in the comments: "it's not really a 7 minute workout, you're not being journalistically ethical" "it's not as efficient as my workout" "a healthy lifestyle is a bigger priority than potential strain/injury" "my current workout is enough." There is nothing more discouraging to the person trying something new for their fitness than to have an experienced, already fit person tell them, "No, that's not enough/won't work/isn't perfect." Really? Do you workout perfectly every time?! Don't. be. that. person.

Just because some research (quite a bit of research) has detailed the benefits of this style of exercise, doesn't mean that your workout is scientifically invalidated - that's a logical fallacy. If what you're doing works for you, then great, keep doing it. If what you're doing isn't working, or you have Exercise Ennui and like bright shiny things, or you're doing nothing and want to start something, science has found a lot of good reasons why this could be good for you. And if you are starting from nothing or almost nothing, then this workout for 7 minutes is more than enough. (After all, my professional knowledge was a considerable asset to my ability to keep up with this; I might have injured myself or given up without it.)

Here's the thing: you don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Obviously an overall healthy lifestyle should be the ultimate goal; maybe, for us n00bs, this workout is a nice, simple first step towards that ultimate goal. Starting with 7 minutes a day, and seeing the immediate improvements and benefits I've logged has boosted my confidence - now I'm motivated to make even more positive health changes and not feel hopeless about it.

I'll be back in another week with the Final Count (lol) but I think I'll be incorporating this into my life on the regular. (It should be noted, ideally there'd be rest days, but I think for two weeks, doing it daily won't be the end of the world.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mama Bean went to Target

As I was driving into the parking lot, Death Cab's I'll Follow You Into the Dark (Cowtown represent!) was playing on my iPod, and so that was stuck in my head as I perused the aisles. Which is fitting because the last time I visited Target with any kind of regularity was when I lived in the US, during which that song was featured heavily in several of my favourite, sad-sack, college-life-is-hard (what the fuck did I know?) playlists. It was a good throwback moment.

To be honest, the last time I was in a Target was on our August trip to my alma mater, both kids in tow, buying 'hotel dinners' - things that can be eaten direct from the back or box, in a semblance of healthfulness, for less money than a restaurant. Sprout was 18 months on that trip. The difference between then and now in her behaviour (mental and emotional faculties) is astounding to me. We took a baby on that trip - she is not a baby now. The difference in Bean is beyond mind-blowing; he's like a fully formed human compared to the 100% Id-based toddler last summer. Well, that may be overstating it. He's down to, like, 65% Id tops now; he's got that Super-ego operating at minimum 10%, which is just what we need for potty training. Let's be honest, as an adult, I probably operate at 10% sometimes (often), too... (and that trip alone would disabuse me of the notion that anything about college life was hard /sigh. Youth is wasted on the yada yada yada...)

Which is to say, Target, and stores like Target, what I call I-didn't-know-I-wanted-that-but-now-I-need-it stores, are best enjoyed sans children. I spent over an hour in there today. It. was. glorious. There was nothing surprising, it was exactly as I remembered it. Prettier and better quality things than Wal-mart, or the Zellers it replaced for that matter, with commensurately higher prices, but not department store level prices. Target-level prices. Groceries are about Safeway-priced, but it's Archer Farms, so who cares? Archer Farms is the shizzle. I don't go to Target for groceries. I go for bowls to replace the pasta bowls we keep chipping/breaking, lamps that fit the aesthetic and small surface area of my bedside table, birthday presents that are light enough to mail to nephews and nieces, books 25% off the cover price, divided storage boxes in a gorgeous cranberry red that'd be perfect for holding my kids' thousands of socks (Why does every other member of my household have more socks than I've had in my entire life?) I go for the things I didn't know I wanted, but now I completely and utterly need. 

Full disclosure: it was the same story when I went to our new IKEA store the first time. What can I say? My love language is CONSUMERISM ;)

But can we talk about how useless melamine dishes are? They aren't microwave safe. Cute, brightly coloured children's dishes that I can't put in the microwave are functionally useless to me. I don't care if they're only  $1.49!

And next time I won't wear a bright red sweater. Two employees asked if I worked there. Um, no? But I kind of wish I did?

When can I go back? :D

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mama Bean is exhausted by seven different technologies

Mary: I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work so I called him at home and then he e-mailed me to my Blackberry and so I texted to his cell and then he e-mailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn't. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It's exhausting.
(The movie trailer is tangential. I do feel Drew Barrymore was under-utilized in that movie, but then again, I hated her character. I do like that quote, though. I haven't been in the dating arena for a decade, but that quote still applies to my life. To wit: the rest of this entry.)

I have spent the past few months preoccupied with failing friendship. I've even written about it already. And yet, I can't seem to stop thinking, in the back of my mind, about these friendships I just can't seem to get the swing of. I can't get it together! Where in my schedule does the Magic of Fellowship happen? How do I effectively use the communication tools available to me? Is there a way to balance my preferred habitat (Teh Interwebz) with my very real need to have a very real life? Why is social media determined to so abundantly demonstrate, with seven different technologies, that the people I want to like me, don't? How do I redirect my efforts - how do I stop investing in toxic people - without feeling bad, guilty, like I've failed, like I should have tried harder or done more? Why can't I stop feeling so fucking angry? What is this "thicker skin" I've been told since childhood to acquire and how exactly do I procure it?

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point

How do I reconcile my online and offline worlds? Or how do I reconcile the authenticity of friendship I desire with the limitations of whatever media I have to communicate that desire? Because it's not about where the friendship takes place anymore (in flesh or in the ether or in both). We don't do that anymore, though I do still relish the safety of Internet anonymity as much as the next Troll (lol). I have all the skills to build lovely, authentic relationships purely online, so it's not about the medium (sorry Marshall), it has to be about the people... right?

When I want a phone call, an email forward leaves me cold. When I want a email, every facebook like is an irritation. When I want facebook banter, mindless re-tweeting feels inconsiderate. When I want to be the special snowflake in your life that you are to me, and who can explain why you are, the heart has its reasons - when I'm trying for something Real, the meaningless chatter of thumbs ups and lols makes my stomach sink.

Sometimes, I try to comfort myself that the clickety clatter of social media interaction, as meager as it may feel, is still better than nothing at all. Better than being phased out entirely, fluidly (am I over-romanticizing this?) the way friendships ended in the Olden Days. It's got to be better than that era when we just wistfully turned the pages of our yearbooks, right? But maybe not. It is a little pinprick each time - as social media brings into my consciousness, repeatedly, these faces for whom I mean little when they mean a lot to me. 

Fuck it. I probably just need to leave the internet for awhile. It's only gotten worse since I got a smart phone - I thought it was going to keep me more connected. Turns out it just makes me feel more alone. Thank you for engaging in my pity parade today, please don't indulge me. There is no meat to this threat, trust. I couldn't quit the Internet on my best day, and these days are far from that < insert appropriate sardonic emoticon > < i guess >