Memorial Day – 2015

IMG_2061 Memorial day rolls around each year and each year I take a few quiet minutes over the weekend to reflect on those who gave their last measure of devotion in the service of our country.  For me, that’s not such an unusual thing.  I think about our fallen all the time.  I think about those rows upon rows of white headstones in our military cemeteries and about the men, long dead, who battled to protect the interests of the rest of America’s citizens in conflicts concluded before I took my first breath.  I think about those lost in our more current wars. Sometimes I contemplate a particular quote from George S. Patton.  He said “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”  I can only manage to get half of that right.  I do thank God that such men lived, but I feel an anxious tug when they pass. I think about their mothers and children…and it stings my heart. My friend, Gary Dolan, a Vietnam veteran and Army Ranger, created a touching piece about honoring the memory of the fallen on Memorial Day. He wrote “I believe our country deserves to be happy and free, because that happiness and freedom was bought with the blood of our fallen heroes. I think our fallen heroes would appreciate that our country is happy and free and would gladly accept that as a wonderful tribute to their sacrifice.” That sounds right to me. I think we honor them by living well, by being generous with each other, by showing kindness to our neighbors, by loving our families.  We honor them by appreciating the hard-won liberties we enjoy and also by doing our part to protect and extend them to future generations.

“Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.” (John A. Logan)

Celebration Of Service Friday (#18)

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I Am Old Glory

I Am Old Glory: For more than ten score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans.
Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of thirteen colonies to a united nation of fifty sovereign states.
Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions.
Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage.
They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity.
They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men.
So long as men love liberty more than life itself; so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.

(Attributed to Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC)

Leg Day Challenge (Hobbling Around With A Smile)

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On Monday, I did an exercise challenge with a friend.  We agreed to do 10 sets of squats (for 10 reps) just for fun.  I’d been doing squats each week but hadn’t particularly been concentrating on them so I’d been doing them in the 5-7 set range.  I decided to go heavy and I made sure to squat nice and low.  Tuesday I woke up like the guy in the meme above.  Strangely (to some) I love the soreness that a hard leg day brings!

Those of us who make training a lifestyle, often purposely pick exercises that surpass our normal work capacity and stamina.  We know what we’re doing will make us sore but that’s all part of the game.  We do it on purpose…and when we can’t get into the car the next morning we don’t care.  We can lie on the floor of the garage congratulating ourselves on a job well done!

Progress Report – May 2015

I have completely revamped my lifting program and after a few adjustments I’m happy to say that some of the mass I lost in the beginning of my quest to create a less time consuming, less intensive workout schedule has started to come back.

I know I won’t be able to maintain the same level of mass that I’ve sported the last 23 years. That takes very focused and concerted effort with a lifting schedule I no longer want to adhere to. I know I have a body that prefers skinny. I’m a classic hardgainer which means my body will take any opportunity to get rid of the muscle-y curves I love so much. I’ve made peace with that. At 51, with so many years of heavy, hard lifting under my belt, I just don’t want to do what it takes to build and maintain it.

I’m also not willing to give up the ghost completely. Lifting, for me, is a comfortable, happy way of life and I’m certainly not going to stop. I just had to create a better way of going about my workouts. I created a checklist of exercises that I complete each week. I’m free to do them in any order I wish, as long as they get done in a 7 day period. I hit all the important muscle groups and I adore the freedom my new schedule gives me. I can do more or less on any given day, depending on what my energy level is. On strong days I do more, on the days I’m not as enthusiastic, I do less (or just do exercises I really enjoy).

I’m delighted to be free of my former routines and the bit of muscle I’ve had to give up is a reasonable trade.

Happy to see those striations in my shoulders/chest.  Bicep is a little weenie.  I'll concentrate on them a little more in the upcoming weeks.

Happy to see those striations in my shoulders/chest. Bicep is a little weenie. I’ll concentrate on them a little more in the upcoming weeks.

You can see from the photo that I’ve managed to get my delts back to a reasonable place which was one of my goals. The tiny shoulder thing wasn’t what I wanted to see when I looked in the mirror.

I’m very interested in what will happen as I continue using this new workout method over the summer.

We shall see!

Celebration Of Service (#17)

“Civilians are like beans; you buy ’em as needed for any job which merely requires skill and savvy.  But you can’t buy a fighting spirit.” (Robert A. Heinlein)

Marines

I went to an event out of town recently and who did I run into?  Some of America’s best men.  They were a pleasure to talk to. They represented the Marine Corps beautifully.  I know their families are proud of them…and so am I.

Big Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman - IFBB Mr. Olympia 1998-2005

Ronnie Coleman – IFBB Mr. Olympia 1998-2005

This is one of my favorite gym sayings. Ronnie Coleman hit the nail on the head with just a few words. It’s pretty much a statement about all the things we want to achieve in life. Anything worthwhile takes consistent hard work.

Wanting is just the first step. It’s the easy one. Putting forth concerted effort day after day is what separates those who reach their goals from those who never make it.

Mother’s Day 2015

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Here are some flowers for all the mothers out there. Enjoy your special day!

Please remember, as you take care of your family, make sure you take care of yourself too.

I think exercise and paying attention to what I was eating helped me be a better mom, especially when my kids were young. It’s so easy to get spread thin. Tending to children is joyous and exhausting at the same time. If you take a small slice of your day to walk, lift, stretch, kickbox, dance…whatever gets your heart rate up, you’ll ease everyday stress and frustration, sleep better (when the babies let you), and be able to better handle all those unexpected twists life sends your way.

It’s easy to think that you don’t have the time to workout or think about what you eat but, I assure you, it can be done. You just have to be a tiny bit creative and make it a priority.

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When my oldest son was a baby, I wanted to workout but I didn’t want to leave him for very long so on weekdays, I’d walk him in his stroller in the morning and lift weights at night after he went to bed. On the weekends and vacation days, I’d go to the gym. That involved rolling out of bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth, then slapping on a black baseball hat to cover the bedhead and hurrying out the door. There was no fancy-ing up after that, just family time. I wasn’t exactly the vision of glamour but my workouts kept me on a nice, even keel and I enjoyed hanging out with my son much more than if I’d been a perfectly coiffed but stressed out mommy. Sometimes there was laundry in the basket too long, sometimes the dusting had to wait, sometimes the closets weren’t completely in order but we were happy and healthy.

Taking a few moments to take care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s important, for you….and those you love.

My beautiful mom...and dad too

My beautiful mom…and dad too

My grandmother...and grandfather too!

My grandmother…and grandfather too!

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This blog was nominated for the Primio Dardos award by fellow blogger Wilson Agaba. How lovely to have someone enjoy visiting and reading about life in the gym.  You can visit his blog, Storing Hope, to see what he’s up to.  

https://storinghope.wordpress.com

Celebration Of Service Friday (#16)

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Provocation

*This is off topic but something I wanted to comment on.  We’ll return to regular programming with the next post.

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On May 3rd, 2015, Pamela Geller held a “Draw the Prophet” event in Garland Texas. Most people are aware that two jihadis showed up, armed, with the intention of murdering Ms. Geller and the attendees. The jihadis were killed before they could do any great harm.

Since then, it’s been noteworthy to watch news reports of these events. Ms. Geller has been excoriated for holding this contest because it was “provocative.” Many question the wisdom of having such a contest and posit that perhaps she and the attendees deserved the attempt on their lives. There’s been a strong she-brought-it on-herself thread running through commentary about the event.

In a new threat yesterday, ISIS has said they are going to continue in their quest to murder Ms. Geller…and also anyone who shields her.

The following is the threat, reported on The Gateway Pundit, posted by Abu Al Ameriki

Our brothers and sisters fighting for the Sake of Allah, we make dua for you and ask Allah to guide your bullets, terrify your enemies, and establish you in the Land. As our noble brother in the Phillipines said in his bayah, “This is the Golden Era, everyone who believes… is running for Shaheed”.

The attack by the Islamic State in America is only the beginning of our efforts to establish a wiliyah in the heart of our enemy. Our aim was the khanzeer Pamela Geller and to show her that we don’t care what land she hides in or what sky shields her; we will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter. This will heal the hearts of our brothers and disperse the ones behind her. To those who protect her: this will be your only warning of housing this woman and her circus show. Everyone who houses her events, gives her a platform to spill her filth are legitimate targets. We have been watching closely who was present at this event and the shooter of our brothers. We knew that the target was protected. Our intention was to show how easy we give our lives for the Sake of Allah.

We have 71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire. Out of the 71 trained soldiers 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday, We are increasing in number bithnillah. Of the 15 states, 5 we will name… Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan. The disbelievers who shot our brothers think that you killed someone untrained, nay, they gave you their bodies in plain view because we were watching.

The next six months will be interesting, To our Amir Al Mu’mineen make dua for us and continue your reign, May Allah enoble your face.

May Allah send His peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhummad and all those who follow until the last Day.

Perhaps you’re one of those who think that she deserves what she gets. She did, after all, exercise her free speech rights unwisely, right? She probably shouldn’t have done something fundamentalist Muslims would be driven to violence over, right?

Going from there, it’s critical that you understand that violent jihadis the world over are linked by a common philosophy. That philosophy, embraced by groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Nusra Front, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and many other large groups and individuals, is fundamental (commonly called radical) Islam. Sharia, or Islamic law, dictates that they kill those who make images of their prophet.

Knowing those facts, one should know not to provoke them. One should also be aware of some additional facts.

Being a Christian is considered provocative by Islamic fundamentalists.
Being a Jew is considered provocative by Islamic fundamentalists.
Being a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Zorastrian is considered provocative by Islamic fundamentalists.

Declarations of being an Atheist or Agnostic won’t help you either. Both are also considered provocative by Islamic fundamentalists.

Think about it for a minute. We’ve all read about atrocities being committed across the world by these people. ISIS just executed another group of Christians on video a couple of weeks ago. Abba Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church’s Patriarchate Office said, “I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been killed in a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is outrageous.” This mass execution took place on the heels of the February video beheadings of the Coptic Christians.

I guess those Christians who were shot and beheaded shouldn’t have been so provocative.

Does anyone remember what’s happening to young Christian and Yazidi girls in Iraq? Countless news reports document their experiences being raped, tortured and killed by ISIS fighters in the region. Did you know they sell and trade the little girls amongst themselves? There’s an official price list. Girls between 1 and 9 years old are the most expensive. Girls with blue or green eyes command a premium. ISIS members explain (in their own words for all to read) that this is permissible according to their religion. They are following religious dictates which say they can use captured, minority religion women and girls as sex slaves.

I guess those little Christian and Yazidi girls shouldn’t be so provocative.

Do you remember that hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls? That campaign was a response to Boko Haram, Islamic fundamentalists, who went into a school in Nigeria and snatched approximately 300 girls for their use. That was a few months after they shot and/or burned to death 59 boys at a boarding school. Do you know what Boko Haram means? The translation of Boko Haram is Western (or non-Islamic) education is a sin. Those girls and boys were getting a western education.

I guess those young women and men shouldn’t have been so provocative.

Just a short time ago, in early April, Al-Shabaab showed up at a college in Kenya, separated the muslim students from the Christian students, then massacred the Christians.

I guess those college students shouldn’t have been so provocative.

How about the Pakistani school attack? How about the Kenyan mall attack?  How about the countless attacks in England, Canada, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Israel and France?  How about Fort Hood, Oklahoma, Boston and New York?

So much provocation!

Whether you think Pam Geller was unwise or not in holding her contest, you better stand up for her Constitutional right to do so.  Otherwise, terror accomplishes it’s purpose, the jihadis triumph and Sharia law is upheld over American law.  As for Ms. Geller being provocative, I have news for you. YOU ARE TOO.  You’re provocative the very same way the Christian men, the Yazidi girls, the young students, the little boy killed in the Boston Marathon bombing and the people in the Twin Towers were provocative. If you’re not an Islamic fundamentalist, the fact that you’re alive on this earth is provocative. By their own words, you present a legitimate target, for forced conversion, subjugation or for killing (they also call for other muslims to be killed if they don’t think they’re practicing properly).  Refusing to confront their ideology will not make them stop.  As long as the ideology stands, you and those you love are at risk.  It doesn’t matter if you speak up, ignore what’s going on or cower in a corner. As far as they are concerned, you’re fair game.  If you draw their ire, for something you did or just for who you are, you better hope your fellow citizens see fit to stand up for you instead of sitting around snarking about how you brought it on yourself.

References:

Be Careful What You Wish For

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This reminded me of a little conversation I had not too long ago in Target.  The cashier was checking me out and was chatting at the same time.  As she was moving items from the belt to the bag, she saw a warning label on an item I was purchasing and commented about it.  I replied that I thought it was a government regulation that dictated the warning be put on the label.  Then she said something that caught me by surprise.  She said she hated government, all government, and she proudly announced that she was an anarchist.  I took my bag and left the store.  On the way out to the parking lot, I turned to my 11 year old and told him what an anarchist was and a bit about their philosophy.

Anarchist (noun)

1. a person who advocates or believes in anarchy or anarchism.
2. a person who seeks to overturn by violence all constituted forms and institutions of society and government, with no purpose of establishing any other system of order in the place of that destroyed.
3. a person who promotes disorder or excites revolt against any established rule, law, or custom.

I explained that I knew the poor woman was…shall we say…not playing with a full deck.  My proof?  The silly, deluded, anarchist checker was about 100lbs overweight.  She could barely move her obese body around and though she was relatively young (probably about 24) you could see terribly swollen ankles and feet sticking out of the bottom of her cropped, khaki pants.  It would be safe to bet that she got winded getting from her car, into the store each morning.

If our anarchist checker got her way and all order in our society was destroyed, she’d be put in a position where she’d have to compete for the food she consumes.  She was almost immobilized in her own body. How did she think she’d feed herself?  Her “survival of the fittest” philosophy is definitely not to her advantage.  Any kind of breakdown in the food supply or distribution chain and she couldn’t make it.  Perhaps she thinks there is someone in her life willing to hunt/gather for her while she sits on her royal pillow at home waiting to be fed…but somehow I doubt there is.

My advice to her?  Be careful what you wish for.  Stop thinking about anarchy and start thinking about taking a walk around the block now and then!

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