Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stormy Weather Makes Good Neighbors

This past weekend the Twin Cities was hit with a severe line of thunderstorms. No tornadoes, thank goodness, but the damage was more widespread and devastating.
Photo Credit: Bryan Piatt    Location: Bryn Mawr neighborhood.
At one point in time over 550,000 homes were without electricity. With an average of 2.52 people per household in this state, that means that more than 1.3 million people were without power for anywhere from several hours to several days.

Photo Credit: @XcelEnergyMN Map of power outages.

Photo Credit: Sharon Stiteler.          Location: 32nd Ave and Aldrich St.
Photo Credit: Paul Schmelzer.         Driver escaped unscathed.

We were fortunate. No trees lost, no power outages. We saw the storm whip up around 8:30 Friday night, went to bed and slept through it.

We awoke the next morning to reported chaos, but not near us. We went about our weekend like normal; it seemed odd and slightly selfish. Yet we were warned to stay away from areas that had been affected, so we did.

Instead, we saw from afar how people came together to clear debris and help each other out.

A local cheesecake business put a call for help out on their Facebook page, which basically said "We've got $8,000 of inventory in our coolers and no power. We need assistance finding temporary homes for these cheesecakes so we can deliver to very important weekend weddings (aren't they all, to each bride and groom?) HELP!" And help arrived. By the end of the comment string her cheesecake was safely stored in industrial coolers across the city, picked up by various parties and safely delivered to their destinations on time and in perfect condition.Three days after the storm, power was finally back on.

A co-worker of mine related the story of walking around Lake Harriet the morning after the storm. They had lost power and wanted to see how the rest of the neighborhood fared. They were on the pedestrian path, stepping over branches and leaves in their way, then thought, "Why are we stepping over these? Whose job is it to clear this stuff?" So as they walked along they began picking up the branches and setting them off to the side. They soon saw other people doing the same thing. By the time crews got to the lake to begin clean up, debris was already in neat little piles alongside the paths so that crews could get straight to work on the larger branches and trees.

Residents became frustrated when neighbors across the street from them had their power restored while theirs was still out. That frustration soon gave way to gratitude when those neighbors with power invited them over for a beer and dinner.

Monday morning's commute was still snarled from many traffic lights being out. Drivers took turns at four-way stops, waving each other on and stopping for every pedestrian.

Minnesota nice was put to the test this past weekend, and proved its muster. I'm proud of our city and its residents.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

YOLO: Leading the Way

This photo was taken a month before I began my fitness challenge.
It's hard to believe that I'm coming up on a year since I started my first fitness challenge on July 1, 2012. I am honored and pleased to be featured on my coach's page as a success story, inspiring others to also improve their own fitness.

To read my story -- along with many others who have succeeded at changing their health and lives -- go to her website, YoLo Live Healthy.

Here's the unknown benefit of this change in my life that I did not realize would happen until it did:

Life is easier.

Sure, people say "you have more energy," but you don't realize what that means, personally. For me it means that simple, every day tasks take less effort, less time, and I have more time for the things in life that are important to me, like singing at the top of my lungs in public in order to embarrass my 10-year-old. (It's so much fun, you should try it if you have a 10-year-old. Borrow one if you need to, it's totally worth it.)

It means that when I go grocery shopping, I am not sapped from the hour-plus activity of pushing a cart through crowded aisles, bagging groceries, carrying them up a flight of stairs two bags at a time to my house and putting them all away. It means that when my daughter asks "Mom, will you push me on the swing?" after grocery shopping the answer is YES.

It means that my kids ask to do more things with me now, because the answer is YES more often than it is NO. Yeay family time!

I was driving through the neighborhood a couple of days ago returning from one of my errands, and I saw a mom and her kids walking up the stairs to their house, returning home from whatever activity they had been to, bags in both hands. While the kids were bounding up the stairs (also carrying bags, mind you), the mom was putting her foot on each step like it weighed 50 pounds and was difficult to lift again. I could see the exhaustion in her posture. I imagine that the minute they hit the house she collapsed on the couch to recover from wherever they had been. Maybe they were coming back from running a marathon, but I suspect the activity was something a little less arduous than that. I wanted to pull over, jump out of the car and say, "I can help you with that feeling." Because I know it, it is familiar to me. But it doesn't happen to me anymore.

Be inspired. But don't just read this and say "That's so inspiring." It's only inspiring if you take action, if you become inspiring to others in changing your own life.

Come on. Take the challenge. You'll love it.

You Only Live Once.