Bring On The Goofy

I am quite sure that under the term ‘nice guy’ in the dictionary, you would likely find a photo of my cousin, Michael.

It is easy to describe Michael – because it is all good.  As a young man, he went to a great college, joined a great fraternity, graduated with a solid degree, and secured a great job right out of the chute.  He is typical tall, dark, and handsome – with a penchant for smiling.  Today, he is a wonderful family man with equally wonderful family members.  He is calm and responsible with that caring demeanor the rest of the world envies.  He has a stellar career, is involved heavily in his community, and happens to be a rather good athlete.

He lives a thousand miles away from me.  And over the past 40+ years, I have been fortunate to have spent a week-long summer vacation each year with Michael.  Sometimes the vacation is longer; occasionally it is shorter.  With all that time together, I thought I knew him as well as anyone might.

But I was wrong.

Turns out . . . he is willingly . . . goofy.  Yes . . . goofy.

As an adult, it’s tough to be openly and enthusiastically . . . goofy.  Children can be goofy and all is well. Goofy dancing in the grocery store at age three – great! Goofy attire in junior high – great! Singing goofy songs loudly at high school football games – great! For youngsters, it is all great to be goofy.  In fact, we often encourage the goofiness in our youth as a way of increasing those crazy-funny moments in our lives that lead us to laughter, hilarity, and merriment. I readily admit that my day is brighter when I run across the goofy-side of the world. Goofy is fun.  But goofy isn’t all that common once we exit our childhood and enter that mysterious adulthood.

I am not quite sure what my definition of goofy has been, but rarely if ever, would I have associated that term with my cousin, Michael . . .  until recently.

Michael is a charitable guy.  He works hard at service to others.  And he isn’t one to want the recognition that comes along with his actions.  In fact, he usually likes to be in the background – doing his thing to help in any way possible. It turns out that Michael is the chair of a fund-raising event in his home town.   It is a great cause and a good, solid charity.  It is in need of funds.  It always is in need of funds as there are more folks who need assistance than current funds available.  So, from my vantage point, it looks like Michael has been asked to lead the efforts in his community to reach a fundraising goal.

And, lo and behold, captured via camera, the world was introduced to his goofy side.  With photos forever etching the moment, Michael is seen standing dressed up in a full-fledged, head to toe Superman costume -including cape – standing in that well-known  Superman-pose that had me do a double take when I saw it.

I laughed . . . and chuckled . . . and smiled.   Michael – in a Superman costume – goofy as can be – putting himself out there for a cause.

Working on causes . . . charitable ones . . . philanthropy . . . isn’t easy for many reasons.

First, the opportunities are endless.  There are hundreds to thousands of great causes – and each one of them deserves assistance. Narrowing the scope and finding a good fit is nearly impossible.  There are local charities, state-wide causes, national organizations, and activities that may have personal ties.  There are opportunities to volunteer time, opportunities that require specific skills and those that just seek donations.  All of them require some type of effort in achieving their goals, and all of them are worthy, but how do we, as humans, make selections?

To add to the dilemma, the older I become, the more I see a world in great need.  From children to adults, the number of people facing daily challenges seems to be growing and growing and growing.  In fact, that number seems to far outweigh the number of folks who can assist.  As a teenager, I was just sure that by the time I entered my later years, I would see a reduction or elimination of the suffering, hunger, or poverty in the world.  How could that not happen?

I recall thinking – and probably chanting at some rally during the 70s – that if I was not part of the solution, then I was part of the problem.  Thus, reaching out and helping was and is the only direction to take.  And as I have aged, I continue to pursue more opportunities to make differences.  But, it doesn’t seem to be making even the slightest dent in the world.  For all of us, it can be disheartening to try so hard to make the world a better place, knowing that the fruits of our labors may come to fruition years, decades, centuries down the road.

And that is where my thoughts of Michael enter the picture.

Sometimes to make that difference in the world – to be a part of the solution – to help those in need – we have to step outside our normal and average selves and go for it!  If that means slipping over to our goofy side and dressing like Superman, then so be it!  If utilizing that sometimes inert goofiness inside all of us positively changes the world just one iota, then we all should strive to engage in the goofy more often.   I can think of no better use of crazy-funny actions than to save the world.

The willingness of others, like Michael, to be goofy to serve the greater good is, well, motivating.  If one person helps for one moment or gives one dollar more because of one action on the part of one person doing something relatively out of character, I am grateful and forever indebted.

So, today, I say . . . bring on the goofy.

mIKE

A photo of my cousin – in his everyday attire!

I Am A Runner

I am a runner.

A very slow one at all times, but I still call myself a runner. Most days, I put in three to file miles in terms of distance. In fair weather, I run outside. In poor weather, I seek asylum and run inside. Regardless of speed, distance or location, I would describe myself as a fairly consistent year round slow and steady runner.

And until recently, running for me wasn’t a team sport.

Decked out in average, normal sporting apparel, wearing the most basic of running shoes, my routine has been to get settled with my IPOD, turn on the most eclectic music playlist, and hit the pavement – all by myself. One and only.

My running routes are those of the most basic sort. I start at my home, swing around the neighborhood in a three to file mile circle, and end up right back in my driveway, sweating and tired, a little while later. Each day, I wave at the same folks, walk up the same hills, listen to the same music, and mutter the same complaints about this sport being too hard, too difficult, too challenging for someone like me.  But each day, off I go.

Most of the thinking I do while running isn’t that earth shaking. I think a lot about how much further I have to go both in time and distance until I am done. (That’s my favorite subject.) Or about what song will follow the one I am already hearing. Or about whether I am swinging my arms too much or holding my hands too high. Odd as it my seem, those types of topics can actually fill up all of the thinking time available throughout a normal run.

But, as average and mundane as my running may seem, for me there has always been something about it that has made me repeat the process each and every day by myself for many, many years. I just like it – start to finish – day to day – month to month – year to year. It’s fun.

Recently, however, I have kinda surprised myself . . . because I have started to participate in organized running. In April of 2012, I participated in the Illinois Half Marathon in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. In October of 2012, I participated in the Rock and Roll Series Half Marathon in St. Louis, Missouri. There were approximately 20,000 participants in April and equally as many in October. I went from me running around my local neighborhood with my little headset and dorky shoes to joining with a big group of folks – all looking much more spiffy and speedy than I – and running around big cities.

And until last night, I really couldn’t figure out why I made such a drastic change. Keep in mind, I don’t think about these things when I run. My understanding on this issue happened while I was sitting in the living room watching late night television.

Last night, I once again watched the movie Miracle – the story of the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic Hockey Team. Like many other people, I remember where I was and who I was with while watching that particular game. I remember the animated announcer Al Michaels asking me if I believed in miracles, and goalie Jim Craig wrapped in the American flag scanning the crowd looking for his father. I can still see the pile of young U.S.A. hockey players on the ice man-hugging in jubilation.

Me? I remember cheering, smiling, and laughing with my family as we watched the Americans celebrate at Lake Placid – which was thousands of miles away from me. It was a great moment – a fun time.

And then it hit me. Why have I suddenly started running with others?  And what is it about running with others that makes it fun?  Well . . .

At the beginning of the half marathon, I stood toe to toe with thousands of other folks waiting to hear the starting bell. Once we did, we trotted off – up and down all kinds of interesting city streets. Lining those streets were crowds of folks cheering, waving signs, clapping, handing us water, and just in general supporting the runners. They rang bells, shouted out words of encouragement, sang songs, and turned long distance running  – which for me had been a solitary sport – into one crazy-fun time.

I laughed along the way, gave out my fair share of fist pumps and high fives, reached out for the finish line and smiled widely at the entirety of my sag-wagon – which consisted of one person – when I did cross it.

And through the whole process – from the years of running alone to becoming  one runner among many and to connecting these moments to a 1980s hockey game, I have learned much.

First, it’s fun having fun with people who are having fun.  It is.

It’s fun to be part of crazy fun moments that make people smile for no other reason than something like running together.  There is something terribly groovy about sharing the times of our lives with others whether it be cheering along with millions of  Americans while watching a winning hockey game on television miles and miles away from the action or participating in a crazy-fun organized run.

It’s also fun to have fun with only one person who is having fun.  It is.

It’s fun to do something alone.  It’s fun to be incognito and smiling for no other reason than running on my own. There is something equally groovy about experiencing the time of my life with only the fanfare of me whether it be eating alone, working alone, sitting alone or running the streets of my neighborhood alone.

Finally, I learned that alone or with others, I like watching Miracle.  It’s just fun.

Stopping For A Photo While Running Alone

                             Stopping For A Photo While Running Alone 

A Few Words / Lots of Photos

I have been blogging for a little more than a year – and usually I find a photo that, for me, generates 1000 words.  I am stepping outside of my box a little. Following are five videos – of varying length – with lots of photos, a little music, and very few words. Not sure why I have changed the format for this post, but I hope –  for those visiting my blog –  that one photo, one minute, one moment generates many, many thoughts, ideas, words. (Please note:  This attempt is my first in terms of using video.  All suggestions would be welcome!)

The Music . . .

Barry, John. (1986). Out of Africa: Soundtrack from the Motion Picture. N.L.: Geffen Records.

Carpenter, Richard. (2004). Karen’s Theme. On Carpenters Gold 35th Anniversary Edition. N.L.: A & M Records

The Cranberries. (1998). Dreams. On You’ve Got Mail (Music from the Motion Picture). N.L.: Atlantic Recording Corporation.

Durante, Jimmy.  (1998) You Made Me Love You. On You’ve Got Mail (Music from the Motion Picture). N.L.: Atlantic Recording Corporation.

The Philadelphia Orchestra & Normady, E. (2001). Clare de lune. On Ocean’s Eleven (Music from the Motion Picture).  N.L.: Warner Bros. Records Inc.

Pause On / Pause Off

Pause on.

This past September weekend was a very busy one.  For five days straight, I spent time with many, many – say it again – many family members and friends, met with tons of acquaintances, and completed all kinds of activities that brought all walks of my life together.  People were in and out of my home.  We served meals, refreshed the laundry, and arranged and re-arranged our home as needed.  The purpose of all the activity was pure enjoyment with every motion made set to encourage positive results.  And I honestly believe that at the end of this particular stretch of time, fun was had by all.

But, at the end, I paused . . . and I am still pausing.  After all was said and done, I knew that I needed to do a little self-check on the lens that I use to see everything.

Through my usual lens, my life is rather rosy.  I have four wonderful children –  who are all well-educated, who are doing well financially, and who have fairly rosy lives themselves.  I live in a very comfortable home – and want for nothing.   I am surrounded by all that is good.  I travel . . . a lot.  I spend a couple of weeks in the mountains, a couple weeks on the beach, time in various metropolitan areas, and time in great Americana spots.  I have favorite breakfast spots that aren’t just at the area covered by my kitchen table.  Two very nice folks clean my home on a bi-weekly basis.  I don’t mow the lawn.  I have easy access to health care. My cars are bright and shiny, are parked in a garage, and when broken are repaired by someone else.  I have money in my checking account at all times.  My retirement plans are going well.

I exercise everyday – because I have time and the means to do so.  I use a dry cleaner who brings my stuff to my house when it is ready.  A young person delivers the newspaper to my doorstep, daily.  I own and display seasonal decorations, and have storage space to keep them looking new and organized.  I have a big, giant family.  And all of my brothers and sister have homes that have at least four bedrooms, countless bathrooms, two car garages, and extra refrigerators. And of that group, several of us have advanced degrees, all of us have undergraduate degrees, and all children among us have gone to college or are planning on going to college; and, all have parents and relatives who are totally and passionately involved in their lives – supporting them every step of the way.

I have more than one pair of tennis shoes – just for running.  I save one dollar coins on a whim, wear matching underwear just because, and have a ginormous backyard deck.  My home has air-conditioning, tons of extra toilet paper, a pantry full of food, high-speed internet, and kitchen gadgets for every and any purpose known to humankind.  My wardrobe changes with the season.

And due to all of this  –  coupled with all the motion and commotion at my house during that five-day period in September –  I paused.  For quite awhile.  For, there is another more challenging lens that is often obscured by my rosy one previously described – especially when I am in the middle of such frenzied activity.

I paused because I know and needed to remember that there are thousands and thousands of folks who are hoping to find food for tonight’s dinner meal.  They don’t have homes or cars or educational opportunities.  They certainly don’t have decks or seasonal decorations, or storage space, matching underwear, or kitchens.  They struggle with family and friends.  In fact, there are children begging for attention from anyone – any family member – any friend – and there are adults begging for the same.  The only clothes they have are the items they are wearing.  They can’t save coins . . . they can’t save anything for their immediate needs are too great.  They use pencils because they can’t afford pens.  The only vacations they take may be those taken during their best daydreams.  Newspapers aren’t delivered, garages aren’t attached to their homes, and they have no need for extra refrigerators as they have a tough time filling one, let alone two. Healthcare is a challenge.

So I paused.

Through the summer of 2012 in another part of my world,  I have been intentionally pondering  over the term creativity.  What does it mean?  Where does it come from?  How can I learn to open myself up to becoming a more creative individual?  Where is it most prominent?  Who are the experts?  How is it reflected in me and how can I strengthen my focus on it.    And suddenly – because I took a moment to pause – I may have gotten closer to the answers.

In all my wondering about and wandering with creativity, I might have been on an erroneous path.  While pausing, I had a moment to reflect, to consider the other side.  And I learned that I have examined creativity using only one lens. . . instead of many.

I am finding that when I look through the lens that is not so rosy, I see the creativity that people use just to make it to tomorrow.  I see folks finding solutions to problems that I can only imagine.  I see folks doing things differently not because of want, but because of need.  I see folks making their worlds keep spinning in any way possible, and hoping to affect change in their lives by doing so.  Their creativity is ingenious.  And as far as I can see, their greatness in this area has to come from their ability to face adversity and survive.

For me, I learned that the source of creativity is more than just one lens.  It is more than just two, and very likely it is found in hundreds of lenses. I just need to make sure that my eyes are open and ready to see.

Pause off.

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha, NE, is a great place to ponder the intricacies of creativity . . . or any other subject!

The Comeback Moment

I caught his eyes, and I knew it was the moment. My young, eighteen year old cousin was looking straight at me with that smile.  It was the moment we all waited for . . . the moment of excitement . . . the most anticipated moment . . . the defining moment.  He said absolutely nothing to me and I nothing to him.  But, we both grinned and we knew it.  And we weren’t the only ones who recognized it.

My sister was some twenty feet behind me laughing as she reached out for our tiny ten-year old niece who had just swallowed a bit of salt water, but was none-the-less smiling and laughing, too. My spouse, also laughing,  had tumbled back further towards shore and was intent on returning, pausing just long enough to squeeze water out of his faded yellow swim shirt and to meet up with a brother-in-law who likewise was making his way back to the group.

The teenage girls – six of them who were all nearly the same age, (old enough to be on their own, but young enough to need some watchful eyes) – were already waiting for the next round, as were the college kids – the bold, the crazy, the unabashed, the fearless – who had moved the center of the group several feet farther out into the ocean than the original position.

In all, there were nearly thirty of us, marching out from the inch deep shoreline to chin high waters in the Atlantic.  And with ocean waves crashing, we – aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, sisters, children, cousins, grandparents, and friends – stayed together.  The day was bright and the water was warm. The waves were all too often over our heads, yet for some reason their force was unusually weak, with just enough danger to make it seem dangerous mixed in with just enough safety for those of us old enough to be concerned to not be concerned.

Wave after wave, we would watch and wait for the perfect ride, the perfect catch. The waves would roll by and each of us would do our body surfing best, some with more success than others, to manage them with fun. It wasn’t the skill of the sport or the challenge of the water that interested us.  The lure was, and always has been, something else.

Vacation in my world has always meant traveling to the beach to meet up with a large assortment of family members.  For the past 45+ years, during the third week in July, we haul beach chairs, tents, umbrellas, buckets, shovels, nets, towels, cameras, toys, coolers, books, food, and now phones to the ocean shore.   Arriving mid-morning and leaving mid-evening, we pack, unpack, and eventually repack, learning to take a little less stuff and a little more food to the beach with each passing day.  As I watch my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews carry my belongings to the beach, I fondly recall the times I helped my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles carry theirs.

Throughout these 45+ years, we have developed our fair share of family vacation traditions: take pictures Friday night, share homemade salsa, play miniature golf Thursday, late lunches and dominoes, ring the bell, get an ice cream, church on Sunday,  beach bocce winner-take-all, and evenings poolside.  Are they special, extraordinary, unique, exceptional traditions?  Hardly.  They are simple, average, common, uncomplicated, ordinary ones – with everyone included in everything and no official planning for anything.

These traditions have created a sense of ease to a vacation that could be considered a little arduous as relatives are required to pack up significant belongings and travel hundreds of miles in over-stuffed vehicles just to be together for seven straight days.  And vacations, regardless of type, time, or location, can be costly.  Gas tanks, plane rides, car rentals, maps, fun food, sunscreen, laundromats, movie tickets, and finally, the purchasing of all necessities sadly forgotten at home means vacations have a price.  But, we return every year – same time, same place – to once again carry our stuff to the sandy ocean shore.

In all honesty, over those past 45+ years, we have changed locations . . . albeit once.  And why we moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic is a mystery to most of us, but somewhere in the 80s, we shifted east. It is clear, however, that those before me sought a quiet, remote, uncluttered, and unpopulated spot with little more to do than link lives with those in attendance.  No fast food, go-carts, shopping malls, piers, boardwalks, high rises, tourist attractions, beach bars, jet skis, surf shops, or restaurant chains.  Just a roof over our heads with sand, water, family and friends. 

As I caught my cousin’s eyes, I knew it was the moment.  I could see it.  To my right, a cousin of my cousin had locked arms with my niece.  From the shore, my brother and my aunt were snapping photo after photo. My spouse ended up circled by the six teenage girls who were holding onto the lone surf board owned and operated by another young cousin. To my left, I saw a cousin’s friend raising a lost, then found baseball cap that had left the drenched head of another relative.   Two others were holding the hands of that tiny, young ten-year old for safekeeping. Everyone was smiling.  Everyone was laughing.   

In that moment, I saw a family – 30+ strong  – dancing in the waves . . . together . . . in sync . . .with no thoughts and no cares in the world.  And I knew that this moment was the comeback moment, the one that will bring us back . . . together . . . again . . . next year.

.

                         Vacationing Together in the Summer on the Atlantic

On My Honor

On my honor, I will try:  to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout Law. – The Girl Scout Promise

I was a Girl Scout.

That’s right.  An all American, rock and roll, crazy-funny, dippy nerdy Girl Scout.  My troop number: 972.  Our motto: live, laugh, love.  My active scouting years:  1961 to 1974.  And not only do I still know the Girl Scout Promise by heart, but I am also quite familiar with the Trefoil Pin . . .  and the difference between a brownie, a junior, a cadet, and a senior . . . and the ten Girl Scout Laws, with the fourth (a Girl Scout is a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout) being my personal favorite.

And I was an all-in Girl Scout.

I made, owned and used a sit-upon.  I proudly wore my uniforms from the brown Brownie dress and brown Brownie beanie to the green Junior jumper, keenly accessorized with a green badge-covered sash.  I read my handbooks cover to cover, making appropriate notations in the margins to ensure that I completely understood each and every Girl Scout rule.  I took pictures at my Fly-up Ceremony, was proud of the day I became a Senior Scout, and to me, the best thing to do on March 12th is celebrate World Girl Scout Day.

In my mind, the world of Troop 972 could only be described as the best type of crazy funny living that ever happened to me.  There was nothing better than me and nineteen of my closest Girl Scout friends sleeping in a lodge with no electricity and no running water in the middle of a cold Missouri January.  I can recall watching the snow shower down around us – hoping and praying for more.

As an eleven year old, the same group of twenty young ladies spent a week building primitive teepees, and a week living in them, again, no electricity or running water within a five-mile radius. Showers were built out of water-filled recycled Clorox bleach bottles tethered high enough to splash our faces.  At night, tin mess kits and battered canteens were kept in ditty bags and hung from trees, along with all food, far from the camp as we had no desire to encourage visits from nearby raccoons.

From eighth grade and throughout high school, Troop 972 bailed on lodges and teepees and took up hammock camping somewhere in the hills of Troy, Missouri.   And just before exiting high school, the gang decided that there was really no need for hammocks, as sleeping bags on the ground worked just fine.  Of course, transistor radios, flashlights, pocket knives, and rain tarps were must-have items.  Everything else was just something that had to be carried.

Throughout my Girl Scout years, I learned to tell the difference between a clove hitch and a bowline, cook anything in tinfoil packets, build fires quickly and efficiently, clean clothes in nearby streams, fend off spiders, and sleep in the great outdoors.  Though all insignia that we wore indicated that we were Girl Scouts, our hearts told us that we were more like modern American pioneers – discovering, inventing, creating, and surviving.

Today, as I look back on my scouting years, I am very aware that what I did as a young Girl Scout in the late 60s /70s would be impossible to replicate today.  For good or for bad, it just wouldn’t be allowed. It just wouldn’t.

Today, no one would allow a group of eleven year olds to winter camp, each of us carrying and using a hatchet to chop wood for the fire which warmed us and fed us for a week.  No one would allow twelve-year olds to live in teepees for two weeks without any access to any type of modern amenities including plumbing, electricity, and/or outhouses.

No one would ever allow thirteen year olds to hang handmade hammocks between two trees – the ultimate test of knot knowledge and skills – and sleep in them.  Truly the score was danger ten, safety zero.  And certainly no one would allow fourteen to eighteen year olds to march out for miles into the forest, throw down sleeping bags and set up camp in the middle of nowhere – with no functional means of communication to any parent – for seven to ten days.

Looking back, we were at best living on the edge and at worse, putting ourselves in the middle of many, many dangerous, age-inappropriate situations.  But we were Girl Scouts.  We were a group – a gang – of renegade young ladies, bonded together through scouting, learning to become the women we are today.  We didn’t really think about what could have happened to us.  We only thought about the next moment, the next challenge, and the next great adventure.

The good news is that we all survived.  We lost no one and encountered nothing that toppled Troop 972.  I am quite sure that I have long forgotten all of the awkward, anxious, and most likely, idiotic times that put me and my GS friends in some type of peril and only recall those that paint the rosier, heartier, and more captivating version of our history.  Today, I can see that had the troop been active during this century, its history . . . its story . . . its life would have been completely different.

And I can only think that it would be even better.

I still am a Girl Scout.

A Remnant From My Early Brownie Days

What Do You Wear When You Work Out?

I am a workout nut. It’s hard to admit it, but it’s true.  My friends have kindly mentioned it, and even though I try my best to deny their characterizations of me as such, they are right.  It is true.  Each morning, I leave for work at 7:00am and spend the fifteen minute commute thinking about my post-work exercise plan.  During the spring, summer, and fall, I plot out my running route both in distance and time, and during the winter, I gear up for treadmill work or indoor activity at a local University’s field house.  I may tell folks that I believe working out is a chore, but in reality, I spend a great deal of time planning and participating in it. I like it.

Like any other workout nut, I have a variety of routines that I follow.  My family considers the routines to be a little quirky – and they probably are – but my workout nut pals all have their own quirky routines; thus, giving normalcy to what I do.  I dash home at 5:00pm, say hello to the folks in my house, change, and within no more than fifteen minutes dash out again. I rev up the IPOD, check my shoe strings, and hit the road . . . each day . . . every single day that I can.

I have come to terms with the realization that I may be a workout nut.  It was difficult to comprehend and internalize, but I’m okay with it.  But today, I was hit with another revelation – a new one – one that is much more difficult to accept than the workout nut moniker.

I am a workout nut . . . with a pathetic workout wardrobe.  Really, I am a pathetically clad workout nut.  My workout nut fashion sense is so pathetic that my loved ones have given up mentioning it to me.

My workout wardrobe isn’t swanky.  It isn’t groovy, with-it, or mod.  And it certainly isn’t hip, trendy, or fashion forward.  It isn’t flashy, flirty, or fun.  It isn’t pretty.  It isn’t any of those terms or any other term that would equate to workout stylish.

Rather, it is . . . more like . . . hmmm . . . let’s just say – utilitarian.

My workout fashion regime is simple: Shorts, shirt, shoes, socks – all in neutral, sweat-hiding colors: check.  Hair in a mandatory pony tail, workout glasses from the dollar store for treadmill reading: check.  Nearly broken, barely working ear buds threaded through the shoulder of my workout shirt to prevent me from losing them: check. A plain gray IPOD with a plain black case, and a green headband someone left at my house  to keep my eyes sweat-free: check.  With all this apparel, I think I am good to go out the door. Exciting activity, pathetic attire.

Well, yesterday, it was raining and my workout was moved to an inside venue.  There was a waiting line for the treadmill which meant that I had a moment to take a look around me. So I did.  And boy did I see a lot.

I saw fancy matching Under Armour everywhere and lots of Nike Dry Fit shirts that included tiny riveted holes made especially for threading ear buds.  I saw headbands with impressive logos and shorts with phone pockets.   I saw one person with what I would call a $9.99 two for one ShamWOW chamois; however, I learned that the proper name for it was the Trekkings Ultra Fast Dry towel.  The user had it hung around the neck to keep perspiration to a minimum.  No doubt it cost a pretty penny. And it looked impressive.

Bikers in St. Louis. No pathetic workout clothes here.

In the shoe line-up, there were pairs with toes, pairs that kept track of miles logged, pairs that were incredibly light, and pairs that were specifically for running indoors on treadmills.  Absolutely everyone had on designer socks with several of those folks explaining their sock choices to me. One person was wearing a workout hat and a couple folks were sporting workout gloves. My favorite was an individual who had perfectly matched everything head to toe.

Still there was me:  A peach colored shirt, black workout pants that had shrunk and were just a tad too short, the same all purpose tennis shoes that I had last year, the green headband, dollar store glasses, and the broken ear buds threaded through the sleeve.  I had been in a little rush at home and accidently was wearing a pair of mismatched socks, both I might add were in the Nike category, which is a little better in some way.  All in all, it was the same pathetic workout wardrobe that I have been wearing for years.  Workout nut / pathetic clothes.

Moments later, there was an available treadmill for me.  I hopped on, cranked up my IPOD, started my workout, and concentrated on forgetting about physical fitness fashion faux pas and the implications.  Perhaps I was making much ado about nothing.  After all, the purpose of working out is to workout.  There are no red carpets or runways to navigate. In some ways it makes more sense to sweat in ridiculous haphazard clothes than it does to do so in designer duds.  And I have never seen fitness paparazzi in my neck of the woods. Still I had to face my workout wardrobe and acknowledge that I was deep into the pathetic category.

I have two choices.  I can go on a quest to find and purchase better workout apparel.  It definitely isn’t hard: I can order clothing from the comfort of my living room.  There are a zillion of online venues at my fingertips, and a lot of them have very impressive selections!   Or, I can continue to be the same workout nut with the same pathetic workout wardrobe that I have grown to be over the last couple of decades.  There is something to be said for ignoring common social conventions and throwing all caution to the wind in this area.  It does feel a little exhilarating to be in the zone where something just doesn’t matter.

Either way, by the end of this year, I have made it one of my resolutions to make a decision in this area.  A December 2012 update – with photo – will follow.