23,000 Steps and Counting

I got my 10,000 steps in (and then some).

Actually, I tallied in the neighborhood of 23,000 steps, which equates to 10.3 miles. That’s a lot of walking.

I did what is coming to be known as my Annual Christmastime Visit to Opryland Hotel. It’s easy to log in a lot of steps because there’s so much to see and so much ground to cover. Literally.

If you haven’t been, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. It’s like a massive version of the Enchanted Forest with an insane amount of Christmas lights strung up and enough decorations to satisfy the festive hearts of even the most fanatical devotees to all things Christmasy.

It helps if you wear comfortable shoes that can handle walking long distances. It also helps if you’re in at least moderately good shape.

You may or may not want to take a massive quantity of photos while you’re there to capture the moments. That all depends on your skills as a photographer (and possibly how good your camera is).

If I’m not mistaken, the good folks at Opryland Hotel start decorating in July. Once you see the final result, you’ll understand why. It’s a spectacle with few equals.

Give yourself plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds (and maybe bring some cash for a souvenir or two).

I think I should add staying at the Opryland Hotel to my bucket list, preferably in one of the rooms that overlook one of the conservatories. I’m not sure of the exact price, but I imagine it would involve 1) selling an organ, 2) the sale of any possible future offspring, 3) sacrificing a small woodland animal, and/or 4) a huge wad of cash.

So for right now, I’ll settle for visiting and putting in all those steps. Maybe one day I’ll see some of you there.

 

 

Step by Step

You know what generation you are by what song came to mind with the above title. If you are from my generation, it was probably Huey Lewis and the News. If you came a generation later, you probably heard the song by New Kids on the Block.

But that has nothing to do with anything. Just one of those random observances that I am so very good at.

I went to the Opryland Hotel after work to see the Christmas lights. I ate at the food court at Opry Mills and walked over. After I reached the hotel, I probably walked for at least a solid hour.

Today, I logged over 21,000 steps on my Fitbit. That’s a new personal record.

It’s true that every journey begins with a single step.

It’s also true that there will be some days and seasons when you don’t feel at all like making a journey, when you are bone-weary, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other.

True maturity and spirituality isn’t about doing great things. It’s about how you keep taking the next step, no matter what, even if you don’t know where the next step will lead you.

If you’re not in that dark place, maybe what God is calling you to is to walk with somebody who’s there. Maybe you can be the encouragement a friend needs to keep going when all they want to do is quit.

One downside from sitting down after all that walking is that you realize how sore you are. On the upside, I saw the usual amazing lights and decorations, plus I got in a fair amount of people-watching (which is probably one of my favorite sports).

Life is hard, so go easy on yourself and on others. You never know the secret battles many are facing, so be sure to err on the side of grace and forgiveness.

Always.

 

14,000 and Counting

I set a new personal Fitbit record. I took over 14,000 steps today. That’s over 6 miles.

I also set the timer on my phone and spent 10 minutes in silence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Guess which was harder. Guess which felt longer.

If you picked the 10 minutes, you win the satisfaction of knowing you were right.

Why is it so hard to be still and silent for any length of time? Why is it that we feel compelled to check our smart phones or our watches or anything to distract us from stillness and silence.

Is it that those wonderful smart phones have further eroded our attention span to the point that we must have ceaseless stimulation throughout the day?

We’re losing the ability to interact with real people in real time in real conversations because we spend so much time virtually interacting with others through social media.

I’m not saying social media is evil. I’m not saying all of us need to immediately go on hiatus from all forms of social media starting today.

I am saying that we need to look up and look around us periodically. See the sunset. Go to a Starbucks and watch other people (but not in a creepy way). Have face-to-face conversations, make phone calls to your friends, write letters by hand, and live your life.

Since it’s Advent, maybe pay attention to all those decorations that are popping up all around you. That funny cat video can wait.

For those of you with kids, put your phones down. Your children will only be small for such a short time. It’s likely that the technology that made your smart phone possible will still be around long after your kids have grown up and left home and it’s no longer possible to create magical moments with them. So do that now.

Find five or ten minutes in your day to simply sit in God’s presence and be still and silent.

Trust me. It’s good for your soul.

 

Hot Chicken on a Friday Night in Franklin

I had another first tonight.

I ate my very first hot chicken. Technically, it was medium hot and it was listed as “crybaby,” but I’ve discovered that was as hot as I want to go. I was sweating and dabbing myself with a napkin and saying things like, “Lawd, have mercy.” I felt like Madea in one of those Tyler Perry movies.

FYI: They have four levels of hot chicken, with the hottest requiring a signed waiver before you eat it. I kid you not. As the famous philosopher Paris Hilton said, “That’s hot.”

I somehow managed to get diverted on my walk back to Five Points on Main Street. I ended up walking through an area that was a little sketchier than I normally like, but I kept walking until I saw something familiar– good ol’ 11th Ave N.

From there, I was good. Maybe there’s a life lesson in that? I’ll leave it for you to decide.

I worked my way over to Fair Street, my favorite place to walk in all of Franklin, and even looked for the friendly cat that I saw a few weeks back. Alas, he wasn’t there.

I spent time in the dark in my favorite church building– St. Paul’s. After all that hot chicken and all that walking and sweating, it was probably best that I was alone.

I got my iced beverage from Frothy Monkey– I wanted pumpkin spice or something else fall-ish, but I settled for hazelnut. Still, I had my Harper Lee book, so it was all good.

If I ever win the lottery (or some rich distant relative leaves all his dough to me), I’d love nothing better than to live in one of the old houses either on Main Street or one of the nearby roads. I’d be super-trendy in my red Mini-Cooper with my Mac Book Pro and my downtown Franklin cottage. Someone should definitely make that happen.

But for now, I’ll just continue to live in the moment and count my blessings and give thanks for another day to be alive and celebrate the God who always knows how to give the best gifts to His children.

 

 

My Favorite Walks

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In The Hobbit, there’s a passage that references a map that contains all of Bilbo Baggin’s favorite walking trails. I think I’ve found mine.

There’s a street that runs parallel to West Main Street that I’ve discovered that lends itself to walking and thinking. There’s not a lot of traffic on this road so it’s fairly peaceful.

All the houses on this street have been around a while and every once in a while I’ll run across some kids playing in a back yard or some friendly neighbors who will wave as I pass by. Once I even encountered a chatty grey cat who pegged me for being a cat person and ambled up to me for a bit of petting and conversation.

If I had loads of money, I’d like to live on this street. There is a house for sale that dates back to 1900. There’s another house that recently hit the market that I’d be sorely disappointed if there weren’t a ghost story or two to go with its fabled history.

I prefer walking when it’s not swelteringly hot. It’s hard to achieve tranquility when you’re sweating like a turkey that’s about to be Thanksgiving dinner. Or a pig that’s about to be in a BLT.

I’ve never been one to hear God speaking to me audibly, but I’ve found that God often speaks to me during one of my walks. Plus, I do need the exercise.

The Gospels record many instances of Jesus and the disciples doing a lot of walking. Back then, that was the main way to get from Point A to Point B. You walked.

I imagine that most of the memories the disciples carried with them of Jesus were the ones of the conversations they had while en route from one town to another. That’s how Jesus often speaks to us today. Generally not in those special moments but in the grind of daily life while we’re headed from one place to another.

So often in the walk of faith, the journey is just as important as the destination and the lessons we learn most are the ones we learn along the way.

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Generic Blog #1,814

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I couldn’t really think of a clever title, so I went with what you see above. Not my finest moment ever, but it’s better than having an Untitled Blog.

I made my usual trek to downtown Franklin. I visited all my usual haunts– McCreary’s Irish Pub, The Frothy Monkey, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (or as I like to refer to them, the perfect trifecta).

I deviated a bit from the usual routine. I decided to explore the street that has my favorite house in the world, Fair Street. I stopped over at the garden area of St. Paul’s and took a picture of their St. Francis statue. I don’t know why I like his statues so much. Maybe it’s that I too am a fan of all creatures great and small.

It was a bit like that scene from the movie Forrest Gump, only instead of running I was walking (although in the thick Middle Tennessee humidity I probably sweated the same amount).

I walked up to the end of Fair Street, cut over on 11th Avenue South, and continued up West Main Street all the way to Big Shakes Chicken and Fish. I don’t know how far that is in terms of mileage, but it felt like at least a mile and a half, maybe two.

I met a friendly grey cat who was very social and liked very much to be petted. For a brief moment, I considered abducting said cat and bringing him (or her) home. I’m sure the owner(s) would not have been pleased.

I saw several houses where I could be very comfortable (including one fixer-upper opportunity that would probably require someone more handy than me). I sweated a lot.

I met a few people actually out in their yards or sitting on their front porches. I waved and they waved back. We exchanged pleasantries. It was so Mayberry.

I think I’m over any desire to live in a big fancy house with all the amenities. I’d be very happy in a small cottage with a front porch and a small yard. And maybe a statue of St. Francis in there somewhere.

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What I Had For Lunch

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I see all these posts about food on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, so I thought I’d share what I had for lunch today. It was rather yummy.

My workday ended at noon so I made an impromptu decision to try out a new place that a friend of mine recommended. I went to Taqueria del Sol on 12th Ave South. I had a Memphis BBQ Taco with spicy jalapeno coleslaw that was delish (as all the hip kids nowadays say it). I also had a Peruvian Steak Taco, which was as divine as a taco gets this side of heaven.

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After, I walked over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for some — wait for it– splendid ice cream. I had something called The Buckeye State, which consisted of salted peanut butter (in honor of Lebron James going back to Cleveland) and a flavor called goat cheese with red cherries (which tasted uncannily like cheesecake).

I forgot to mention I had to walk a country mile to get to these places because parking is horrendous in that part of Nashville. It was also hot and I sweated profusely.

But it was worth it. The only thing to make it better would have been friends to share the experience with [cue sad trombone sound]. But maybe next time one or more of you can come with me.

Life is too short not to be spontaneous and try new things. Sure, some of those will not turn out great, but the ones that do will more than make up for the ones that do.

Now, what ever will I do for an encore on Saturday?

Fitness Progress Report #1

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I’m starting the second week of my new fitness plan. And I get that I need to come up with a better name than “my new fitness plan.”

So far, my goals are to exercise at least six times a week, eat healthier, i.e. way less sweets, carbs, red meats, etc., and to take those extra small steps that add up to overall better fitness.

By that, I mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Intentionally parking farther away from the store to get those extra few steps in. Drinking water instead of tea for meals. Only eating out once a week.

So far, so good. I don’t say perfect. I could have done better. But this is not about beating myself up if I don’t get it exactly right every time. It’s about doing it better than the last time. After all, every little bit helps and every step counts.

It’s good to have friends who will encourage you and hold you accountable. I have one of those. It’s helped me during those times when I was feeling unmotivated or just plain lazy.

I’m not expecting to drop 50 pounds in one week. For one, that’s unrealistic. Also, if I lost 50 pounds, I’d look funny.

This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change.

There will be more of these progress reports to come.

Just remember that God loves you no matter what body type you are or whether you love or hate your own body. God loves you regardless of whether you fit the traditional mold of what’s considered beautiful or not. He made you just like you are and think’s you’re to die for.

I just wanted to throw that out there.

Another Monday In the Books

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As with most Mondays, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The ugly? I’d go with my reflection in the mirror at 5:00 am. Not so much that I think I’m ugly, which I don’t. It’s just that no one looks good in the bathroom mirror at the pre-dawn hour of 5 am. Well, maybe Cindy Crawford, but I’m fairly certain she’s not human.

The bad? How about this? I left my lunch and my debit card at home. Whether I’ve totally lost my mind is up for debate, but if you happen to run across it, take good care of it for me. 😁

The good? I woke up this morning. I went to work. I ate three meals today. I walked to lunch and breathed in the crisp autumn air and breathed out all my worries.

That Eucharisteo that I keep talking about works. A thankful heart and a grateful spirit opens up your eyes to see so many more small gifts that ordinarily lie unopened, like all those gift cards that go unredeemed every year.

Gratitude makes what you have enough. Yes, I stole that from Ann Voskamp. But it’s true. If comparison is the thief of joy, then joy keeps that competitive spirit at bay. If you keep your eyes on Jesus and the joy of knowing Him, then you’re not consumed with keeping up with the Joneses.

Also, thankfulness shifts your perspective from what you don’t have (a spouse, children, your dream job, a mind, etc.) to what you do have (amazing friends, wonderful family, a place to live, food to eat, senses to enjoy life with, sunrises and sunsets, etc.).

I choose joy again today because joy is a choice that you make every single day. To not choose joy is to choose bitterness and envy and dissatisfaction. Basically, to choose to live defeated and discouraged.

I’ve lived that way and I know it’s no way to live. You’re no good for you or anybody else.

May you choose joy. May you embrace a spirit of Eucharisteo (joy with thanksgiving in grace) and find all those small gifts waiting to be opened and all those blessings waiting to be shared and all that joy waiting to be given away.

I guess that makes this a good Monday.

Pumpkinfest 2013: My Take and Other Thoughts Thrown in for Free

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I had a great time at Pumpkinfest 2013 in downtown Franklin. I even got in a bit of exercise, parking in The Factory and walking the rest of the way.

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I stopped in at all my favorite haunts (get it? haunts on a Halloween celebration?) including McCreary’s Irish Pub, Frothy Monkey, Sweet CeCe’s, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It was great.

It was crowded, to say the least, They had Main Street blocked off from 1st Ave all the way to 5th Ave. There were lots of families with little kids dressed up in costumes. Even a few dogs had costumes. I’m sure while the owners were all like “How cute he looks” or “How adorable he looks,” the dogs were all probably thinking, “Kill me now. Please.”

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There were booths everywhere. Crafts, food, music. You name it. It was there.

I’m sure the people who work there are glad that these festivals only happen every so often. Every place was packed out the entire time I was there. That had to make for a long work day, especially on a Saturday.

I try to be as positive and encouraging a customer as I can. I know it sounds like a K-Love commercial, but it’s true. I’ve done enough time in retail to know that people are used to rude and ungracious customers. I think part of being like Jesus is to make people feel as good about themselves as possible. To help them see all they could be. Plus, that one encouraging word could mean the difference between a completely crappy day and a somewhat good day.

I love seeing my friends in downtown Franklin. They always make me feel at home there, especially at McCreary’s. I know just about all the servers there and even pray for them regularly by name.

I’d like to be the person people remember fondly, but I’m praying that even if they don’t remember me at all, I’ve shown them Jesus in such a way that they never forget HIM. After all, it won’t matter about who knew me in the end, but it will mean everything as to whether people know Jesus or not.

I can’t wait until the Christmas Dickens in the Square festival.

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