Eulogy for Grandma Micki

My Grandma Micki died in March of 2020, right as COVID began sending the world into chaos. This weekend, my family gathered on her birthday to remember her life. I was grateful to be asked to write the eulogy, because it finally gave me a chance to process what she had meant to me, and to revisit the lessons I told myself I wouldn’t forget as we walked with her during her last days.

Margaret Louise Sechrest was a really cool lady, and I think we’re all pretty lucky to have been her family and friends.

Every photo that I have of Grandma looks like she’s in the midst of a great joke. Even when she wasn’t laughing outright, she exuded joy and gratitude. Her life was and remains a reminder that “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

From what I understand, Grandma never got much of a chance to play as a child. Mom has always told me that Grandma had to do her chores before she was allowed to eat.

Despite this heartbreaking fact about her childhood, Grandma was one of the most playful humans I have ever met. She loved a good game, whether that was Connect Four in a restaurant waiting for food, a football game with Gary and Sandy, a round of golf on the TV, or playing with her grandkids.

Whenever I brought Isaiah for visits, well into her 80s, Grandma would get down on the floor and play with whatever he was into that day. Sometimes it was rolling a golf ball across the floor to a target, but just as often it was matchbox cars or toy trains. She would help make a garage out of the living room stool and spend ages down there, driving cars in and out. She wasn’t afforded the chance to play when she was a young and vulnerable human, yet decades later, she was able to show other young, vulnerable humans just how much fun could be had with a little imagination.

This sense of goofy fun was with her until the very end. During her last stay in the hospital, I’ll never forget, she found an earring back in the sheets. I put it on the hospital tray, just to make sure it didn’t dig into her skin. I remember that she was sitting up, but she wasn’t speaking. She let the earring back sit there on the tray for a while. After a few minutes, she picked it up and began to examine it really closely. And then suddenly, she jabbed it into an uneaten apple, leftover from her lunch, brought her hands back closer to her body, and pretended to reel the apple in, like a fish.

Then, in perfect Grandma Micki fashion, she slowly turned her head toward me, looked me dead in the eye, and flashed a huge, sly grin.

Of course, part of the reason I’ll never forget this story is because I wrote down a lot of notes during Grandma’s last few weeks of life. We all know who I get my terrible short-term memory from.

In the second chapter of Galations, Paul contrasts the works of the spirit with the works of the flesh. Works of the flesh are things born of selfishness and self-service. They include things like strife, jealousy, anger, envy, drunkenness. The works of the spirit, though, are shown in the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Generosity. Faithfulness. Self-Control.

Grandma Micki bore all these fruits.

She loved her friends and family, caring for her dear friend Goldie for many many years.

She was filled with joy, and shared that with everyone she met. Everytime you came into the room, she was happy to see you. Grandma made you feel so deeply wanted.

She brought peace to my mom during some of the hardest years of her life, reminding mom to keep praying, to keep listening for God, to keep her mind on blessings, no matter how small.

She managed to raise Gary and Rob into generous, kind men, despite the many ways (I’ve heard the stories) they tried her patience!

She was generous of her time and energy, giving to her family and her church community. Even when the services at church were just too loud for her ears to take, she showed up during the week to fold bulletins, an act of service to a community she loved.

She was a faithful follower of Jesus, continually reminding her friends and family that His eye was on the sparrow. She knew her Savior, she trusted her Creator, and she was sustained through many trials by the love of her Lord and the promise of eternal life in His embrace.

Grandma could have become a bitter person, but instead she chose joy. Her work was always done in cheer. And she was always busy.

I’m a compulsive tidier, a greatly underappreciated trait. I don’t mind, though, because every time I reach to pick something up and someone says to me, “I’m not done with that,” I think very fondly of Micki Sechrest, who I watched stealing that cup you were still using, for the first forty-some-odd years of my life. Even as she laid in her bed in the end, her hands were moving to pick the lint from the sheets.

A night or two before she died, I sang or hummed or cried my way though all the hymns I could remember, songs I knew she would know and love. And I told her that of all the people I knew, she deserved to rest.

That night, I also promised her I’d try to be goofy, silly, and less selfish, because she was one one of the goofiest, silliest, and most selfless people I’ve ever met.

The Psalmist reminds us that “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” What a joy it was to have Micki in our lives. What a legacy of joy and faithfulness we have to pass on to our own friends and family. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Grandma entered the gates of heaven with thanksgiving in her heart, and praise on her lips. May we do the same here on earth, until the day we meet again.


Fast and Furious Films, Ranked

F9 is out in theaters in the U.S. next week, and I for one am kind of stoked to nestle myself in a comfy recliner that someone else has farted in while watching a movie that I can’t pause. To mark this auspicious occasion, and to settle any questions friends may have about how I feel about this tenth full-length installment of the franchise, I thought I might offer some thoughts.

Best Overall Fast and Furious Films, ranked from worst to best

9. 2 Fast, 2 Furious. There is so much to dislike about this one. The driving is boooooring. The villain is meh. The introduction of Tyrese Gibson is the film’s lone, bright, shining redemption (just as Roman would like, I think).

8. Toyko Drift. I have so many questions. Why do the grown-up mob men make business decisions based on the testosterone-fueled requests of teenagers? Why does darling Han’s social circle include so many high schoolers? Why does the white boy who speaks no Japanese go to a school that instructs in Japanese?

7. Fast & Furious. While this film contains one of the most satisfying death-of-villain scenes (see below) and a super fun open and close, it’s a little bit of a snoozer for me. The GPS-guided race scenes are too video-gamey and I miss that sixties dream house the cops hunkered down in for the original. I do love the truck driver saving his little lizard pal, though. Tops.

6. The Fast and the Furious. Yes, the original is solidly in the middle-of-the-pack for me. The highway hijinks are fun enough, which is really all I need.

5. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. Hobbs’ return to his family is amazing. Shaw and his sister are adorable. The brothers linking their trucks together to try to wrangle a helicopter…epic Dwayne J. energy. I could have done with fewer jokes the target audience of which is 6th grade boys. Your humor is better than that, F&F. C’mon.

4. Furious 6. Look. Dom launches himself out of a car to hurtle himself over a chasm in order to catch Letty, who has been thrown from a tank, and they safely land on a whole other car. It’s just too delightful for words. Things I am not a fan of: the longest airport runway known to humankind, Gina Carano, the ineptitude of whoever told all those law-enforcement officers to just stand on top of Shaw’s secret lair.

3. Fast Five. It’s a very close race for the top three spots. Like, very close. Fast Five has that opening scene in which a whole damn bus hits a little damn car and it’s the bus that flips! Physics be damned, this is art. Fast Five has “make sure you’ve got your thunderwear on,” and other gorgeous Hobbsian one-liners. Fast Five has a giant safe pulled like a tin can behind a couple of cars, all the way through Rio. A safe! Barreling through bank buildings. It’s beyond wonderful. But Fast Five also has some particularly annoying Mia bits (I’m preggo, we have to stay together!), and how Reyes is cool with Zizi letting Brian and Dom escape, but then that poor little house manager dude gets taken out cold…? I like my bad guys consistent, thank you very much.

2. Fate of the Furious. Killing Elena is a little rough. But also, the timeline here is confusing. You wanted to tell Dom, but Letty had just come back…and then fifteen months went by? I have tried to figure out this math a lot and I can’t suss it. Mr. and Little Nobody are…why are they here? I do not care about them, please make them go away forever thank you. Cipher is really stupid. We all know by now that hacking isn’t really fast typing on glass keyboards. Can they not think of anything more interesting to show us? So, there are some bits I don’t love, but holy moly, the amazing bits keep this installment at the top of my list. The opening race scene is peak F&F. Yes! Drive backwards so the fire doesn’t burn you, Dom, genius! Hobbs and Shaw’s prison escape is a pure delight, a gorgeous dance. The whole bait and switch with Shaw and Shaw’s mum (“no, you’re going to take your brother”). I died. Cars creating chaos and raining from the sky (there’s a message about climate change in there, I’m sure of it). Dom doing some fancy driving to get the heat-seeker to hit the sub instead of his Charger. Then the whole team and their cars magically and quickly shielding Dom from the subsequent blast. Roman and his Lambo. It’s all fabulous. And I know it makes me very basic, but I will never ever tire of Shaw’s fighting a plane full of evil henchmen while toting a carseat full of a baby listening to the Chipmunks through baby headphones. Like, it’s literally the best.

1. Furious 7. Again, Mr. Nobody can take a hike, but everything else is gold. The opening scene. The fight that kills an office building. Parachuting cars, people. Letty catching Brian from a fall by the bumper of her car and then asking, “You good?” Ramsey (“Alpha” “Mrs. Alpha”). Peak Roman (“Double Alpha” “Tej! Tej! I hate you Tej!”). Hobbs flexing his way out of a full arm cast so daddy can go to work. Hobbs killing a drone with an ambulance and then using the harvested drone gun to shoot down a helicopter. A car driving out of a skyscraper, into another skyscraper, and then doing it again. Nearly every moment (damn you Kurt Russell) is a treasure, as long as you skip on the schmarmy fourth-wall breaking send off at the end (sorry).


  • Best death of a villain: Hands down, this goes to Fenix, smushed to bits by Dom and his rearing auto.
  • Best overall scene: Shaw dropping baddies while googling and cooing at baby Brian.
  • Best opening scene: Aw, brothers bonding in the hospital, so swee….no, wait, those doctors are cowering in a corner, and the hospital appears to be falling down. Look at your sunglasses, though, Shaw! You are a nice-looking bloke. Just need a little rehabilitation.
  • Best dressed: Obviously, this award goes to Dom and his endless supply of white t-shirts and tank tops.
  • Most likely to win a spinoff: Han, but not hanging-out-with-teenagers Han. Just Han.

Can’t wait for next week. I don’t have super high hopes, to be honest, because I don’t think I’m going to see my boys Jason or Dwayne, and the series really picks up for me with their arrival, but I’m excited to see more of Ramsey, to see if they’ve managed to give Mia any depth at all, and to experience a couple of hours of utterly ridiculous nonsense.

distraction might not mean death

I had one big project on my list this week: figure [this thing] out. In fact, after a brutal end- and beginning-of-year travel season, I had planned to take the week off, but then realized I had a whole week with no meetings scheduled and thought it would be better and I would be happier if I could get to the bottom of [this thing] once and for all (or, at least, for the time being).

I limited my meetings and tried to keep a clear head and get decent sleep, so that I could crack the puzzle of [this thing]. I found a pencil and made little charts. All week, I’ve been writing and erasing and heaving great sighs and making notes to myself and clearing my desk of eraser shavings and generally feeling like I haven’t gotten anywhere and would never be able to solve [this thing].

I should probably note that I’m a bit of a stickler about glueing myself to my desk to solve problems, since wandering leads to distraction leads to moral decay and a life of laziness (obviously).

This morning, in the midst of this mental turmoil, I thought I should make tonight’s dinner. I’m going to the gym this afternoon and rehearsal after that, and so it was a right and productive thing to do to make soup now, to avoid buying pizza later. So, I stepped away from my desk and my eraser shavings, and stood in front of the stove for a few minutes.

And somewhere between “saute the vegetables” and “add the wine,” I knew what I needed to do about [this thing]. I knew how to word it, I knew where to look for a similar example, I knew how to frame it, and I knew that I would be able to work with it.

I got the sense that everything was going to be okay. That I wasn’t an imposter, after all, that [this thing] was manageable, that I was capable, and that smart people would help make sure [this thing] was the best it could be.

So there you have it.

best year ever

Today was my last workout of 2018 with my Eugene CrossFit family. I’ll be so sad to miss the next couple weeks of workouts, but will try to keep up some semblance of a routine while I’m on the road. I’m really bad at burpees. I might do a lot of them, to try to get better. We’ll see.

It’s been a very hard year in many ways.

But for my mental and physical fitness, for my feeling of accomplishment, for the realization that I can do very hard things in the very hard years, this has been the best year ever.

So many friends have encouraged me over the years, and I appreciate them softening the ground for this year of incredible discovery. Running Roxborough hills with Kasey, tabata at the YMCA with Beth, lightpole runs with Dorrie and Deirdre, trail running in the Wissahickon…all of these experiences showed me that I could decide to do something a little out of reach, work for it, and do it.

I never expected to love Eugene CrossFit. I never expected going there to be the highlight of my day. And yet, that’s what it’s become: home, a place where I surprise myself, a place I always leave feeling better than when I arrived. It’s only December and there’s a lot of winter left to go, but I’ve found a thing that helps keep the hound of depression at bay.  I love the calluses on my hands, the ache in my shoulders, the salt on my skin. I love that I can run faster than I could earlier this year (a little), that I can jump higher (a little), and that the assault bike doesn’t scare me anymore (at all). I can pick up heavy things, and carry them. I can scale a workout, but I won’t cut corners, and my brain will always always always be clearer when the clock stops.

This has been a hard year, next year may be harder, and I’m so grateful for this little haven where I don’t have to be in charge, strategize, or worry about much, where I can just show up, do my best, and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.

Clyde (January 2005ish – December 11, 2018)

Clyde came to Giehl and I by way of a co-worker, Elizabeth, whose probably well-meaning neighbor had adopted a big, brindle puppy, not realizing that being bounced from home to home as a young dog had left this particular canine in quite the bad mental state. Elizabeth decided she was better suited to find Clyde (then named “Tyson”) a permanent home, brought him into her already-crowded apartment, and began her search.

We met in the PETA dog park and it was love at first sight. A “trial weekend” turned into thirteen and a half years of incredible companionship.

Since Giehl had already made it known that he wanted to pass his name to a future male child, I decided I could stake my own family heritage on this big, neurotic goof and re-christened Tyson “Clyde,” after my father and paternal grandfather.

Clyde was a hot mess. Six homes in his first six months of life had left him devoid of faith that we would ever return when we left the house. He relieved himself indoors whether we were gone twenty minutes or two hours. He chewed through every piece of wood or upholstered furniture he had access to. The cat-agnostic behavior I observed in Elizabeth’s apartment was soon replaced by a vehement interest, necessitating a dozen years of careful separation of cats and dogs in every home we’ve occupied, a reality that was only changed after we moved to Oregon in 2017.

But oh my God, we loved him so.

Clyde was a big dog, full of enthusiasm for food and squirrels and sticks and adventure. He loved visitors, greeting them with enthusiastic jumps, his enormous paws too often leaving red welts and scratches (we tried to train him, we really did). He could run like the wind, circling the dog park or the backyard with incredible speed, just barely brushing by obstacles. When Giehl put up a five-foot-high temporary fence in the backyard to try to let a few blades of grass grow, Clyde trotted outside, took a look at the fence, took a look at Giehl, and then leaped right over. One summer afternoon, while Giehl and I were at work, Isaiah’s babysitter answered the front door and Clyde took the opportunity to explore the neighborhood. By the time I got home, a youth group who had been painting the house next door had managed to corral Clyde, circling him and using a large zip tie as a makeshift lead to get him back home. When Norfolk winds would cause large tree debris to fall into our backyard, Clyde would enthusiastically pick up a ten-foot-long, four-inch diameter branches and trot them around the backyard, his beloved prize.

One day, we came home to find that Clyde had eaten a box or two of dried pasta. Another day, it was tealight candles that we’d left out on a windowsill, plastic casings, metal wicks, and all. Housesitters who didn’t heed the warning to not leave anything out that they wanted to hang on to lost undergarments, hats, and electronics to Clyde’s giant jaws. Those zooms around the yard sometimes resulted in gashes that never seemed to bother him, but that necessitated many trips to the emergency vet, Dr. Smithwick, who he loved.

Really, Clyde loved all people. He was an enthusiastic fan of humans, even though he’d been treated so poorly by them in the early part of his life. And he was an enthusiastic fan of us, even though we were too often impatient with him. Ten years later and I still regret making too-quick trips home at lunch to let him out, only to get frustrated and angry when he wouldn’t come back in right away so I could go back to work. He just wanted to soak in more of the sights and smells of a world full of possibility. He loved to lay in the sun, from his earliest years to his last days.

When Isaiah came along, Clyde and Emma had to give up their sleeping spot in our room. But they didn’t seem to hold it against him. As big, and to some, scary, as Clyde looked, he was an angel with Isaiah from the moment we brought him home to the moment they said their last goodbye. Perhaps he was especially grateful for all the food baby Isaiah would drop on the floor, for the oatmeal bowls he would leave half-eaten during morning cartoons, for the peanut butter and jelly sandwich leftovers after school.

I have worked mostly from home for the better part of a decade now, and Clyde was my constant companion. When I spent too long at the kitchen table or in my office with my laptop, Clyde would whine until I came and sat with him on the couch. During the last few months of his life, he would pace outside my office door, coming in to lay down only if the (cat) coast was clear, or if I moved Friendly off his bed.

Clyde, you see, always knew where he wanted to be, whether that was on our bed, in the middle of any room, cuddling with one of our other pups, or in the exact spot on an otherwise empty sofa that was already occupied (by human or dog, it did not matter). Many of our photos of Isaiah growing up include the nose- or butt-end of Clyde. He wanted to be in the middle of all the action.

And if you did not notice that Clyde wanted to occupy a particular space, he would stand and stare at you, back up a few paces, and then start to whine. If no satisfactory response was immediately forthcoming, the whines would quickly escalate to short, perturbed barks. “Hey!” “Hey!”

Clyde was a very good communicator. Mostly this communication centered around food. He let us know what he liked (food) and what he didn’t like (not having food…also most lettuces, but sometimes lettuce was okay). He appeared whenever the peanut bar jar came out of the fridge and was incredibly easy to train (except the jumping) because of his high motivation to receive as many treats into his mouth as possible. In his golden years, one of his favorite ways to pass the time was to spend a couple of days hauling around a nearly-empty peanut butter jar, working to get the last morsels out, determined not to waste a drop.

And so when Clyde became a picky eater, when we had to convince him to eat, and when he finally simply could not be bribed even with the tastiest of treats, we knew he was telling us it was time to go. That puppy no one wanted, who’d accompanied us on five moves, through countless bouts of depression, and the first decade of our child’s life…that sweet old man had reached the end of his very well-lived journey.

Clyde, Clidsypoo, Poodle, Clyd-e-ola. I will love you forever. I miss you like mad. I’m sorry for the times I failed to give you the love you deserved. And I’m so grateful for the love you gave to me. I will see you again, you very good dog.





Here I am with my mother and my mother’s mother. I am okay with these genes.

Today, I turn 40.

I don’t particularly remember the year I turned 10, though if I were slightly less lazy, I’d go out to the garage, pull out my childhood diaries, and reflect on the similarities and differences of adult and child Sarah.

The year I turned 20, I was deeply depressed. The year I turned 30, I had a newborn. So this is the first “0” birthday in a while in which I have felt clear-headed and capable of reflection.

Turning 40 was supposed to be a really big deal. This was the last-stop year my high-school friend Matt and I picked as the one we’d get married if neither of us had done that by now (we both have). I thought I should mark the occasion with a 40 day trip, or 4 ten-day trips, maybe to Europe and South America, to cities and countries I’ve longed to visit but have never quite been able to get to.

But this was the year my kid needed braces. And the year I started spending more money taking care of myself on a regular basis. And the year I realized two of our animals are getting pretty old. So, an extravagant trip was out of the question.

This was also the year I took a real break from work, a five-week vacation, after decades of never taking more than a week or two off at a time (and those not being exactly restorative). It’s been the year of re-discovering how much I like my nuclear family, after fifteen years of living across a continent from them. It’s been the year of watching my kid start to develop into the kind of human who will love God and others, set and meet goals, and take brave risks. It’s been the year of seeing my husband build a business and a livelihood on his own terms. And it’s been the year that three people, three peers, who we were close to at different times of our lives, have died…far too early.

We grew food this year. We met with an accountant and our financial advisor. We kept up with laundry and dishes and meal planning and appointments. We had family dinners, morning coffee and chats with my dad; took a road trip to see my grandmother, uncle, and sister in Boise; showed Giehl’s parents the coast and mountains of Oregon. Went on hikes and bike rides and for swims. It’s been a year of pretty ordinary things, which I am finally starting to see as extraordinary.

I’ll mark the actual day of my fortieth birthday (today) by drinking coffee, doing the Sunday crossword (it’s a board game theme! so fun!), going to the gym, and playing piano at tonight’s worship service. This would have been my Grandpa Clyde’s 99th birthday, had he not also died way too young. So, I’ll also spend some time feeling grateful for the family who made me. It’ll be a pretty mundane day without much by way of orchestrated pomp. No breakfast-in-bed or fancy dinners or elaborate surprises.

But that’s okay. Everyday is okay. Mundane is hard and extraordinary and beautiful, if we let it be.

For a long time, I think I carried a lot of anxiety about my life, about its impact. I wanted to do good in the world, to make the world a better place, to make a difference. I’ve written books and am helping to start a nonprofit that may fundamentally change the way the church thinks about animal creatures. I think I was afraid that me, just being me, wasn’t enough, wasn’t good enough. And truthfully, this is still a daily struggle. But it’s changing. Easing. Being replaced with a (slightly…ohsoslightly) increased ability to breathe.

I don’t know what the next decade will hold. I’m still determined to backpack around the world for months on end. And I’m still determined to do what I can to foster a world “on earth, as it is in heaven.” But I’m starting to realize that one of the most powerful ways I can do that, and one of the most rewarding, is to simply try to love the people and other creatures around me well, to do what OA tried to teach me so long ago: “what I can, when I can.”

I’m going to fail a lot at that, so apologies in advance for the days and weeks I anxiously steamroll over whatever obstacle is in my path.

Here’s some good advice for this decade from Walt (Whitman, not Disney), courtesy of the wise and wonderful abby:

“This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem…”



“It’s different there,” they always said. They placed their faith in difference, which is to say they placed their faith in the idea that there had to be at least one place in this world where life could be lived in accordance with the plans and dreams they had concocted for themselves.

Dinaw Mengestu, How to Read the Air


I was going to wait for my one-year anniversary to write this little confessional, but something happened that made me want to get it out earlier.

Late last September, I started CrossFit.

[I now grant you three minutes to make all the evangelical vegan CrossFitter combination jokes you can make, I realize the temptation to resist will be too great].

I’ve got a lifelong history of starting ambitious workout programs and quitting within a few weeks. I donated to Planet Fitness for two years and only darkened the gym door four times (once to sign up, twice to work out, once to cancel my membership). That is just the latest of a long list of examples. Signing up for races and training to run them kept me active when I lived near the amazing Wissahickon park in Philadelphia, but moving to Eugene put me too far from the nearest trails for a daily routine.

I’d heard people talk about “drinking the CrossFit kool-aid,” but knew nothing about it. As I researched gyms in Eugene, I was increasingly drawn to the website of Eugene CrossFit. The video and photos on the website showed people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. The workouts looked varied. And I liked the idea of trying something new.

So I went for an introductory workout with the owner, this super peppy dude named Jeremy. A women named Becky was there for the intro, too. She was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Be kind to animals or I’ll kill you,” so we were destined to be pals. Also, she’s the best vegan baker on the planet. It was one of many signs that this was the place for me.

The workout was fun and I was a little sore the next day. OK. A lot sore. It felt good. Despite feeling nervous about making an 18-month commitment after one date, I signed up for a two-class-a-week membership. When I was a kid and wanted piano lessons, my parents made me practice for months on my own before they agreed to pay a teacher. Turns out, they know me pretty well. I took the same approach here. For the first month, I took two classes a week. The next month or so, I bumped it up to three. And then, unlimited.

In first five months of 2018, I worked out 121 times. 121. Most weekday afternoons, I shut my laptop lid, change my clothes, and go spend the best hour or two of my day at Eugene CrossFit.

Let me now enumerate a few of the things I love deeply about this place:

  1. I show up and do what I’m told and it’s always something a little new. Even if I’ve done the moves before, I’m working toward a higher jump, a heavier weight, a faster time. I’m competing against myself, my brain, my doubts and I’m kicking my own ass.
  2. The people. Being anonymous doesn’t work for me. When I don’t show up to Eugene CrossFit, someone notices. My neighbors go to different classes and it’s fun to stand out on the street and commiserate about whatever crazy hard thing happened that day. The people in my classes are kind, supportive, funny, strong, inspiring, and so much more. I love the people.
  3. The coaches. Oh my gosh, the coaches. They see us as individuals, and they respond to our particularities. Workouts can be scaled or modified, no problem. If my form is off, they take the time to help me figure out what’s wrong and fix it. They push and encourage me without shaming, and they are as happy about my accomplishments as I am.

Speaking of my form…I am so bad at so many things. Like, really bad. My shoulders are all locked up from years at a laptop. My knees are old and rickety. My burpees are slow. I’m usually good at things I try, perhaps because it has been my MO to try things within a limited range. But in this case, there are a lot of things that I simply can’t do.


I am bad at these things now, but I am getting better. In the meantime, don’t hate myself for not being able to do what other people can do, or what I want to be able to do. I actually understand and accept that it will take time to improve, and that improvement won’t come magically, but through consistency and hard work. It’s incredibly satisfying.

And it’s not just physical. I mean, it’s physically taxing and I kind of want to die sometimes, but I’ve been surprised at how much of the experience is mental discipline. Almost every time I lift more weight than I’ve ever lifted before, it’s because I look at the bar and tell myself, “Pick it up, don’t stop lifting, you can do this.” Sometimes I get halfway through a workout and think there’s no way I can continue, but then, you know, I do. I finish. I get stronger. My form gets better. I get a tiny bit faster.

And I come back the next day.

Fair warning: I’ll be writing more about my newfound passion. I can’t help it. It’s too amazing to keep to myself anymore.



I remember the first time I realized I’d never be able to read all the books ever published. Actually, the first lesson was that I wouldn’t be alive long enough to even read a list of all the titles of the books ever published. It was a sad day and I was reminded of it recently as I perused the shelves of a local used book store. It’s overwhelming for me, that volume of choice. My brain spins and heart yearns to read every word on every musty page, but the reality is so very different: my eyes glaze over as I wander through the stacks, barely taking in every twentieth title…stopping not when I see something new, but when the stream of letters form a name or title with which I am already familiar.

I was reminded of this decades-old pattern yesterday when I re-enacted another little dance of mine: career roulette. This time, I was skimming my gym’s copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard (which is the real name of a real book, I swear). Fascinated by the mechanics of the body, still high on the endorphins from a good workout, I started to daydream about going back to school and getting a degree in exercise science. How interesting it would be to learn more about bodies and how to care for them. My daydream continued and, on the ride home, morphed into the idea that I could perhaps study the psychology of exercise. Why are some humans motivated to move and others not? What is it that tells some people they aren’t cut out to be athletes and should stick to the books? How do people who want to move develop the habit, even when their brains fight them?

You might not be surprised to learn that I only finally ruled out law school as an option a few months ago. Or that I looked at requirements for PA (that’s physician assistant) school as recently as last summer. Or that a PhD in comparative literature or theological ethics is still on the table (the latter being a far more realistic option, which is, in itself, pretty funny). And hey, turns out my third-grade dream of being the first female President of the United States is still in reach.

But I think I’m living into my calling now, working to raise awareness of farmed animal welfare issues among Jesus followers. I know that’s a good purpose, and that I’m uniquely suited for it.

Choices. Roads taken and not taken. How can I, who feel like I have a million choices, spread some of that opportunity around to people who have none? Is it reasonable to feel restless so often? How does a person honor that restlessness and maintain some semblance of stability?

Listening for answers. Headed out to the gym.

Weekly Menu

I’m on vacation this coming week, so we may not stick to this, but if we do hang out around the house, I’d like to try my hand at these meals.

Sunday: I’ll be in Portland with my pop, Giehl and Isaiah can have whatever they want.

Monday: Vegan Kluski with sliced tomatoes, corn, and peas

Tuesday: Taco Bowls! I loved these last time. Instead of quinoa, though, I’m going to use a vegan ground beef substitute, like this one or this one. Here’s why I’m trying to rely a little less on quinoa as a protein source for my north american family.

Wednesday: Mozzarella Mac Deep Dish Pizza. Holy moly. I have to try it. Just once.

Thursday: Mediterranean Bowls. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while. And I’m 100% making my own flatbread to go along with it.

Friday: Poblano “Crema” Enchiladas. I’ll throw in tempeh for some added protein.

Saturday: Potato Pierogi’s with Caramelized Onions (Giehl, be sure to get good sauerkraut and fresh dill),  Mac & Shews, and a Vegan Caesar Salad