Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Only She Told Him That She Loved Him

Posted: October 8, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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glass of wineI found this writing exercise on Pinterest: write a scene revolving around the sentence, “She told him that she loved him,” adding the word “only” before different words. I’m started with “only” as the first word. A lonely man thinks back on the one woman who told him that she loved him.

This inspired me to write about a nicer, modern-day Ebeneezer Scrooge pining for Belle, the girl he loved as a young man.

I love you, Ben, she’d said.

Ben Marley poured himself a glass of wine as the clock struck midnight. He never drank wine except at business meetings where his guests demanded it. Ben Marley preferred vodka martinis. But not tonight.

“Will there be anything else, Mr. Marley?” Robert, his butler, asked.

“No, Robert, that’ll be fine. I’m sorry I’ve kept you so late. You and Higgins go get trashed. Grab a cab or stay in a hotel and charge it to the expense account.”

“Thank you. Good night, sir.” Robert started for the door. He reached for the doorknob, then stopped.

“What is it, Robert?”

“Sir, would you care to join us?”

Marley laughed. “These old bones, out drinking with you and Higgins? Are you wanting your cut of the inheritance money that fast?”

Robert looked stung. “No, sir!”

“I’m sorry, Robert. The weather’s making my arthritis act up. I’m getting cranky.”

“Can I fix you some tea or draw you a bath?”

“For God’s sake, go have fun. I’ve kept you too long already.”

“I just thought… that you looked awfully lonely, sitting there, sir.”

Marley was about to wave Robert off. Then he heard himself say, “I am, Robert.” Marley blinked. What make him say that? He’d never confided in Robert before.

Robert stepped back into the living room. He took off his gloves. “Well… what is it, sir? Can I help?”

Marley didn’t want to admit weakness. He stared at the glass of wine. He hadn’t even drunk any! But it wasn’t the alcohol that was doing it. Not with drunkenness, anyway. “There was a girl, named Belle. The only woman I ever loved. The only one who ever said to me, ‘I love you.’” He rubbed his forehead. Marley gestured to his tablet computer, left within his reach on the coffee table. “A man with my… resources… has access to better things than Facebook to check up on his old acquaintances.”

Robert looked sick. “You were spying on a girl you loved?”

“Not spying! No. It’s a… program… that compiles publicly available data from all available sources. We use it for executive profiles…”

“You spied on her.”

Marley looked away. The richest man in the world felt abashed by his own butler. “I suppose I did. I don’t even know what prompted me to look her up. But I found something terrible.”

“What is it?”

“She has skin cancer. She can’t afford treatment. But I know, and I can help.” He gestured at the wine glass. “Belle always drank wine. I never drank it again after I walked away from her.”

“So… will you help her?”

“I don’t know. Do I have the right to be such a busybody to barge in and ‘save her’? How do I explain that I was snooping like this?”

Robert folded his arms. “Do you still love her, sir?”

“I…” Ben knew the answer was yes. He nodded.

“Then be a man about it. Pick up your phone, start with an apology, and beg to help her.”

“I don’t beg!”

“Would you for her?”

“They’ll throw me off the board if I embarrass the company like this.”

“Is she worth it to you?”

Marley wrapped his fingers around the wine glass. He squinted his eyes tight. He couldn’t bear the idea of Belle dying anything less than an old woman surrounded by great-grandchildren and comforted by a life of happy memories. “Yes. A thousand times.”

“Then call and flip the bird to the board as you walk out.”

“Thank you, Robert.” Marley picked up his phone and began dialing. Robert started tapping his phone. “What are you doing?”

“I’m telling Higgins I’ll meet him at the bar. I’m staying here to make sure you don’t chicken out.”

Marley laughed. It wasn’t familiar sound. He liked it. “Since when have you been my conscience?”

“Longer than you realize… sir. And I’m not stopping now.”

Marley kept dialing. He just hoped Belle would be willing to listen to him.

Photo credit: “Finishing off a long weekend” by fringley at Flickr
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Wring Me Out Like a Wash Cloth

Posted: July 29, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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At first you feel like you're dying, then you feel reborn.

Terry’s legs felt like jello as he stepped off the elliptical machine. He took a swig of Gatorade, then started wiping down the machine with the antiseptic towels that the gym kept nearby. He’d always been sweaty when he worked out, even as a teenager. It looked less flattering on him now.

His trainer, Felicia, grinned at him. “How do you feel?”

“Better. Still crappy.”

“That was 45 minutes. You must have had one hell of a week.”

“The worst.”

“Well, now you’re nice and warmed up. What would you rather do, power yoga or boxing?”

Terry gave Felicia a cockeyed look. Her smile grew wider. He said, “You know, you really could be a movie star with that smile of yours, if you’d stop killing people.”

“Come on, wuss. Pick one.”

“How about Zumba?”

“I’m really not trying to kill you, Terry. Let’s bring your heart rate down a bit.”

It wasn’t a great choice. Terry had the balance of a whale on land, but he didn’t want to box. He’d spent his entire week fighting office battles. He wanted to flush that energy out of his system. “Power yoga. With weights.”

Felicia clapped. “Now you’re speaking my language!”

Normally Felicia would join in and do the workout with him, but this time she kept her full attention on making sure he did the poses safely. He worked out to hip hop music that she liked. He’d never really liked it until today.

Thirty minutes into the workout, the one-kilo hand weight felt like it weight five. Terry moved from front plank to side plank. He lifted up the weight. He thought he could feel each muscle moving separately. Terry closed his eyes. A drop of sweat ran over his eyelid. It felt cool. He felt exhausted. Finally.

“How are we doing, sport?” Felicia asked.

Terry nodded. “Good.”

“That’s what I want to hear. Return to plank, and do the other side.”

Terry did as she said. It felt like he had thirty minutes to go. He loved the contrast of his cool breath with the heat in his body. He moved from side plank back to regular plank, then into down dog. Felicia started wrapping an exercise band around his foot. He wondered what kind of mischief she had in mind next.

Terry smiled. He didn’t care. She could have walked him into a gym machine store and made him demonstrate every function of every machine. It would all feel good to him now.

Today’s post was inspired by the Daily Prompt “Back to Life“: After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again? Myself, I like to exercise myself silly, preferably something fun. Either that or play with dogs.

Shy Guy

Posted: May 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

treadmillJohn met his workout partner Suzanne at the gym the morning after New Year’s. “That was a fun time last night. Your cousin’s a good kisser.”

She hit him on the arm. “Hey. Off limits, buster!” Then she smiled. “Actually, that’s what she said about you.”

John ducked his head, smiling back. “Really?”

Suzanne folded her arms. “You are so full of it. I thought I had you pegged, but the way you two warmed up? Lizzy doesn’t warm up like that to anybody.” They started for the cardio machines to warm up.

“I… I don’t know. We had chemistry?”

“Tell me the truth. Sometimes you play up how shy you are, because you know girls think it’s cute.”

John bit his lip. “Sometimes.”

“I knew it!”

“I swear I don’t do it on purpose. You do it enough times, it becomes a habit. It’s not like it’s ever gotten me a date or anything.” He smiled. “But it does score points.” His smile faded. “Are you mad?”

“Hell no. I wanted to make sure she had fun this weekend. I just didn’t think you’d be the entertainment.”

John got on a treadmill. Suzanne got on the elliptical machine next to him. They tried to gauge who was working out harder.

“So how long is she in town?”

Suzanne shook her head. “The shy guy’s looking for a date. I tell you what, you’re changing everything I thought I knew about you.” They started moving on their machines.

“Sue, come on!”

“’Til tomorrow night. She had a bad headache this morning, but I’ll ask her when I get back.”

John smiled. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“Tell you what. If I beat my personal best today…. you’ll put in a good word for me.”

Suzanne shook her head.


“You don’t need it.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You really want to make it interesting?”

“Uh oh.”

“Personal best, across the board. I’ll set your goals.” She cranked up the speed on his treadmill. “Starting now.”

John starting pumping his arms to keep up. It wasn’t the fastest he’d ever gone, but he’d never held speed like this for the full 45 minutes. “You’d better make me sound great.”

Suzanne ticked the resistance up. “Great costs extra.”

“I’ll be too tired to—”

“To what, lover boy?”

John gave her his shy smile again. Suzanne shook her head. “And to think, I fell for that too.”

Photo credit: “Running on a treadmill” by E’lisa Campbell at Flickr
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What Strength Feels Like

Posted: November 29, 2013 by writingsprint in Essay
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tiredThis morning’s yoga felt different from all the other practices I’ve done over the past month. Normally when I worry during a workout –- will I ever be flexible, will I ever have balance –- I focus on the practice and keep going. It happens pretty often. At 44 years old and a desk job, my tools for yoga start with the flexibility of a brick and balance of next to zero. I still consider myself a beginner. Daily practice over the past two months has improved this by light years, but I’m a long, long way from doing a forward bend that touches my head to my knees.

Today I had enough with ignoring my thoughts. I don’t like shutting away the doubts and powering through it. The race is hard enough without fighting myself. In yoga, you breathe, and I may be wrong, but it feel like my mind needed to breathe for a while.

I let my mind do what it wanted, while I kept another part of it focused on the practice. My thoughts wandered around. It went to things that were making me mad and things that I was happy about. Eventually I let go of some of the things it was thinking about and went back to practice. By the time I was done, I felt like a kid sitting in a room with blocks but not knowing what he wants to build. I took it as a positive. I think some of the stretches were easier, too.

I saw a motivational picture online that said something like, “At the moments when you want to give up, that’s when change happens. Don’t give up.” I think that’s true. When you’re working on something, even if it’s small steps of progress day after day, sooner or later you reach a point where the you who you’ve been needs to change into the you who you’re becoming. If you felt the same, you’d be there already. The hard part is the doubt. Wondering if it’s worth it. Questioning if you have the strength. You like yourself the way you are, and maybe you won’t like yourself as much if you change. Chew on this: by the time you finish reading this sentence, fifty million of the cells in your body have died and been replaced by new ones. You are literally in a constant state of change every moment in your life. You are not who you were, even from five minutes ago.

You might not make it. If you don’t try, though, you won’t know. If you fail, you can try again tomorrow. You can also back off today, build up your strength some more, then try again tomorrow. Progress is a road of ups and downs headed overall in the “up” direction over time.

You can also change, decide that you don’t like the view, and go back. Nobody ever thinks of that one.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that weakness is what strength feels like, that fear is what courage feels like, and doubt is what confidence feels like. When you’re in that moment, trust, and take the next step. It’s terrifying. It’s also amazing when you stand on the other side.

“A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways – by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light – and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.” Plato

Voice Week 2013: Racing

Posted: November 4, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life, Writing
Tags: , , , ,

I can’t believe I’m about to finish a marathon! My legs feel like jelly and my lungs feel like flapping burned newspaper, but you know what, I really don’t care because this is so fucking cool! God, I’m tired. And it’s making me laugh.

I see the finish line! Should I kick it in? Why not. I may throw up but I know I’ll make it. Hee hee hee, check out the nut job sprinting the last hundred yards! Oof… ow… maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Nah, tell you what, what’s ten more seconds of pain. Wait a second… I’m going to walk backwards over the finish line. And a one, and a two… and a three!

This post was brought to you by the prompt “racing” from Voice Week 2013 at Be Kind Rewrite.

swim paddlesMonth 3 Week 2
30 minutes swimming
60 minutes biking

The campaign to end my fears and just enjoy the triathlon experience has begun. On Saturday I was just supposed to swim, and Sunday was supposed to be biking only. On Saturday I threw in light weightlifting (because I’m not ready for heavy weightlifting, yet), and Sunday I both swam and biked. Why? Because I love exercise! I’m addicted to video games, but I truly love getting out there and feeling my muscles moving and my blood pumping.

The pool was empty when I arrived, calm and flat, the swimmer’s equivalent of a skier coming to the top of a mountain and seeing nothing but fresh powder sweeping out below him. It was all I could do not to scream for joy like a five-year-old and leap into the water flailing my arms and legs. There were white Christmas lights strung all over the roof from the Black and White Ball fundraiser for animals that was held here the night before. I wondered if people had been literally twistin’ by the pool.

My trainer encouraged me to keep working on my fingertip drills. To mix things up, I did just that, with paddles to build up my shoulders and back. I admit: my main motivation is that I would love to have Michael Phelps’ shoulders and Jeremy Renner’s biceps in a few years. Well, we’ll see what happens with that, but I have to say that the paddles did more for my stroke than I thought they would. Paddles encourage you to push all the way through your stroke. When you put all that work into pushing the water behind you, then just yank your arm out without finishing, you feel a bit like you just spun your partner in a dance move, then didn’t pull her back in. The move just isn’t done! I liked the pinch I felt in my triceps when I made full extension.

Finally, when you don’t give your fullest reach at the beginning of a stroke, the paddle will let you know: the front end will stick in the water like a spade in sand. HINT! Reach farther, dude! Or at least flatter. There were a few times I reached out, then slid my hand along the top of the water until I couldn’t go farther. Hopefully that’s “close enough.”

The next 75 minutes were spent biking through Philly, then along the banks of the Schuylkill River. It was a gorgeous, cool summer day, high 70’s, with the sun glittering on the river and a breeze giving me some sweet relief and a little challenge as I rode. I cranked up the resistance on my gears to give my legs the same treatment I gave my shoulders with the paddles. I shared the path with joggers, other bikers, skateboarders (including a father who was doing a great job keeping up with his two sons), and dog walkers, not to mention geese.

Ahhh. That’s more like it.

Month 2, Week 4
Wednesday: Long bike (35 minutes)

After the post where I rediscovered exercising outside, you wouldn’t think I’d be bicycling indoors much. Not true. I slept late for the Fourth of July holiday, I don’t believe in exercising outdoors at high noon in the summer, and I knew that in the evening I’d be busy grilling on the barbecue. That left the gym for working out around noon.

I never seem to fit well on stationary bikes. Either the seat’s too high, and I’m losing circulation in my lower torso, or the seat’s too low and my I’m not getting as much push as I want out of the workout. Today I settled for the seat being too low. I cranked up the resistance a little to get a good workout while keeping the movement smooth and relaxed. There’ll be plenty of time to get back to kicking my own butt next week.

I do like exercise bikes because I can read while I ride them. I can do the same thing on elliptical machines but I tend to miss every third word on the ellipticals while I move up and down with the pedals. The gentleman next to me was reading A Clash of Kings, the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I was flipping through my latest copy of Yoga Journal. A few highlights from the magazine:

  • One of their photographers originally studied molecular biology. Yes, Virginia, there’s an artist in all of us
  • One of their contributing authors is a bicyclist and freelance author. A man after my own heart! Yoga’s the next thing I want to put back into my workout rotation. The body awareness, balance, flexibility and calmness of mind help everything
  • There was a fun article on meditation that talked about the sounds we hear every day. I once wrote a fantasy novel where the “wizards” were more like hunters, and I called them “Listeners.” Twenty years later I don’t know where I came up with that. I think it had something to do with an appreciation for listening deeply, which most people don’t do. A lot people would rather hear themselves talk. Sometimes you can learn more from what some people don’t say as opposed to what they do
  • Smoothies… summer salads… health benefits of chocolate… the difference between organic and fair trade goods
  • A deep article on baddha konasana, bound angle pose, or what I remember from karate as a simple seated groin stretch. These are my favorite. You wouldn’t think you could write a five-page article on a seated stretch, but you can, and there’s enough nuance to it that you’ll want to go look at the video before reading the article again once or twice. And this is one of the simple poses. Put it this way: how many muscle groups do you have in your body? Every one of them is doing something that you can pay attention to when you’re performing an exercise. Oh, and then there’s breathing…

Then my 35 minutes were up. Ten minutes of cooldown later, I was heading for the door with barbecue and a rum & Coke on my mind. Cheers…

business man release stressFor me it starts with the gym. An article from a runners’ magazine said it best: we evolved to run away from our problems, or to fight them. Since stress sometimes bottles up our frustrations and we can’t fight them directly, running away from them is the next best thing. Our bodies don’t know that our problems may still be there, and will relax when we run ourselves silly. Hence, go to the gym, and hit the elliptical machine. If I had my druthers I would stay on it or bounce back and forth between it and the treadmill until I couldn’t form sentences. Not “complete” sentences; I’m not talking about being out of breath. I’m talking about being so loopy from endorphins that my whole world has dissolved into a mashup of muscles, breath, heat, and sweat.

(If I were in better shape I would try a kickboxing or Zumba class or something, but one thing at a time. 42 and desk-bound is a cruel condition.)

After that, shower off, come home, hug my wife and not let go for about a minute. Hang out with her, preferably with the TV off, for the rest of the night. Light some scented candles. Sink into the couch and feel the carpet under my feet; gaze at the living room and listen to the bubbles in the aquarium; let it sink into all my pores that this room is home.

Ahhhh… that’s better.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Plinky.

The Daily Post‘s suggestion for today is to write a story in just six words. Hemingway said, “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” My favorite is the classic, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Let’s see if I can do at least 100 words’ worth.

Neo Bullets

Words are like bullets: you don't need so many.

  • He shot first. I shot last.
  • I got away. Not far enough.
  • He escaped justice but not mummies.
  • Eleven said “guilty,” one said “innocent.”
  • He stood by his convictions, alas.
  • He fooled everyone except the Mafia.
  • They killed every zombie but one.
  • Dracula forgot “spring forward, fall back.”
  • For sale: wedding ring, gently used.
  • Dinner was ruined. Thanks Dr. Heimlich!
  • Thankfully, some organ donors can’t drive.
  • A rainy wedding, a sunny lifetime.
  • The worst pets can save lives.
  • The stutterer kissed his love poetically.
  • He learned patience. She learned forgiveness.
  • For sale: one rod, spared frequently.
  • Anonymous donors make happy school districts.

These next few stories weren’t mine, but coming up with them kept the creative juices flowing.

  • Star Wars: Luke grew up and saved Anakin.
  • Henry VIII’s wives: Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. (I did not make this one up but I had to pass it along!)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Frodo lost Bilbo’s ring, thank God.
  • Deep Impact: Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope survives. (This was the movie’s actual tag line.)
  • A Christmas Carol: Scrooge met three ghosts and changed.
  • Friday the 13th: The skinny dipping teenagers met Jason.
  • Hamlet: Elsinore prince too indecisive: everybody dies.
  • The Battle of Marathon: He said, “We conquer!” and died.
  • Dune: A Duke betrayed. A Messiah awakened.

“I GO I GO!”
“Free ball!”
“Over over over!”


Karch Kiraly, volley god

For me it’s volleyball. There’s no other sport that feels like you’re flying, when you’re leaping up to spike the ball, and in my case, when you’re praying to God that you didn’t mis-time the jump and wind up missing the ball by half an inch. I’m not even that good at it, but I love, love, love to play it.

Volleyball could be considered controlled chaos. At its best, it’s like a dance, where nobody knows the next move but you make it up as you go. When you do make the right move and your partners do too, it’s like you just created ballet. Until you crush the ball; it’s like a ballet ended with a cannon shot.

It’s a flashy, offensive player’s sport. Who doesn’t like to watch the jump serves and spikes? As a player, though, I love defense even more. I’ll admit I can’t jump serve. Even if I could, I would still love D. Solid defense sets up your offense. It’s also demoralizing as a dam breaking to all those hitters who think they can whack you off the court. My crowning moment was when I learned where to move to pass a ball off a spike, based on the angle of the hitter’s body and the shadow on his arm as he hit the ball. If you wait until he hits it, it’s too late. I barely even saw the ball, but I passed it and it went to the setter.

Swimming would be second. To swim, you need to relax. It seems counter-intuitive for those of us who shoved water past them year after year, trying to muscle their way through the water, but your body floats better when it relaxes, and you breathe better when you’re relaxed, too. Once you learn to swim, you can spend more time snorkeling or scuba diving, exploring another world. Just keep the nets up until we’re back.