Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanfully thankful

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Glinda from Wicked

Another Thanksgiving and another year where I have been blessed with so much good fortune, so many new friends, so much joy and laughter, so many volleyball wins, so much wonderful live music, so much media exposure, so many wonderful trips and just so much love, I can't even begin to quantify it. Here are some of the many things that I am thankful for this year.

I love water. I love the pool at the ridge and am really at home there.But, I really love the hot tub. I could live in that thing. I just really enjoy the way I relax and the way everything feels better when I am in the hot tub. Why don't I just get one for Wisconsin? It wouldn't be the same. Something about being out west, the bubbles engulfing me, and the warmth of the air that makes me so thankful for the hot tub.

Zenyatta. It took me a long time to warm up to this mare but she was legit. Owned by the M of A&M records, and not as quick as my girl Rachel, she is the best filly to run in quite some time. I really like the heart she has, love her charging style, and love how she knows how to win. I am so thankful she ran second in the Breeder's Cup
because I cashed a really nice ticket on the race.

Speaking of awesome fillies; I am very thankful that I got to spend some time with my Mom. I sure wish we lived closer and by closer I mean I was closer to her, the beach and the warm weather of Florida. Love you, Mom

Two more of my favorite girls of 2010 were Glinda and Elphaba. Wicked is the best show I have seen. Granted my pool of live theater shows is small, but I am in love with this show. Grab someone you love, and go see this show. I don't care if you have to travel it's so worth it. If that's not possible your friendly blogger may be willing to hook you up with a dvd copy, if one were to exist. Although there is no official release of a Wicked DVD that doesn't mean you can't click heels and wish.

Thankful for sweater vests and their slimming effect :)

Thankful for Gary Williams. He makes my favorite college basketball team and his alma mater competitive every year. Fear the Turtle!!

Thankful for sunsets and race numbers. I don't think I ever really thought I'd be grabbing four safety pins and adorning my shirt with a race number, but I did it 3 times in 2010. Not bad for a guy that would have lost a race with a turtle to the corner. not saying I'd win now, but it'd be competitive.

Thankful that the NY Times called my articulate and sympathetic. And thankful that CNBC thought my story was worth investing so much time and money on. Not so thankful that More Magazine's writer distorted her stay and relationship with me. Two out of three ain't bad.

So happy that after 13 years Sunshine Daydream has a new address, in a better location, in a larger, newer spot, and with a spiffy new sign to boot. Thankful it has exceeded my expectations. And thankful that my brother Jay was so helpful in opening the store and that Jacky has been so great at making it successful.

Thankful that Jacky puts up with me being gone so much in Utah and out so many nights in the volleyball sand.. And that she makes the store run so well and the 3 apples of her eyes Maggie Daisy Jane and Chille so happy and loved. We are about to Celebrate our 15th Thanksgiving together and very thankful that the Gravy boat won't explode like it did at the first one. Happy Thanksgiving Mrs T.

I really feel at home in the sand. I forget I am old enough to be most of my teammates really cool older uncle :) I'm competitive as hell and they accept that. They make me better in the sand and better everywhere else. They inspire, motivate, and push me. They all hate to lose and they make sure I don't very often. 6 nights a week may have been a little too much as my knees finally said enough, but I sure want to do it all again next summer.

Thankful for Boobies and Pink. Glad I could do my part to make the world a safer place for them :)

Happy for the newest addition to our home. Chille, fresh of two Acl surgeries, has been adopted and is now a Trudeau. Maggie welcomes her to the family with a friendly game of tug o war. Thankful all 3 of the puppies make me smile.

Thankful that Ingrid Michaleson makes great music and is so nice to me and the store. I adore listening to all her tunes. Passes to shows, visits backstage, and stage shout-outs. She makes me smile. Please buy her music, it will make you smile too.

Thankful that I rode a bike again this year. And really thankful that the bike I bought has a bigger cushier seat than the one in Utah.

Thankful, that I could jump better, spike better, and and just play better this year. Happy that Nicole and Mary and Max joined the Sunshine Daydream volleyball teams. Not sure they knew what they were getting themselves into, but I know they had a good time, as did I.

Happy that my trivia team keeps my mind sharp and full of mundane crap. The Crazy waffles continue to make at least one night of my week better cause I spend two hours laughing with them and answering questions about stuff that happened before they were alive....all the way back in the 70's :)

What can I say. So thankful for my fellow triathletes. especially the 3 in the picture who did it all again this fall. You guys continue to inspire me. I owe you guys another completed tri and I will deliver. I love you more than you know.


So thankful for my annual trip to Vegas for March Madness. It was extra special this year. In fact March in Vegas was as good as it gets, if you don't include the November trip which actually was profitable and good. I love hanging out with my friends and watching all day college basketball. I can't wait to do it all again this spring. What happens in Vegas stays there but the good times make me smile everyday.

Thankful for Brooks shoes. They make my feet so very happy. The best shoes out there and if you are wearing anything else to work out you are making a mistake.

Thankful for Fitness Ridge. The adventures never stop. I am constantly learning new things and remembering things I haven't done in forever and learning to do them again. This has been an exceptional year. So many new life long friends. So many memories, smiles and inspiring moments.

Thankful the Tanya and Tim thought enough of my friendship that they invited me to officiate their wedding. Thankful that I didn't sweat into a puddle at their feet. It was a very special day one I will never forget.

Thankful for all the wonderful music I saw this year starting with this guy Jackson Browne. Add in Sara Bareilles, James Taylor, Jack Johnson, Steely Dan, Carole King, Ingrid Michaelson, The Eagles, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, The Dixie Chicks, and Neil Young. But no song made me happier to hear live than Running on Empty by Jackson.

Thankful that my good friend Eric Jackson is the general manager at the ridge. He has made the place so much better. Really happy that he got to see his Bears win live and very happy that he got to Madison this year.

Thankful that these are some of my very best friends. They put up with me in the sand, at trivia, and still include me in their parties. I have known these people just over two years and they have changed my life in Madison. And glad that Allison is back from her year in South Korea seeing as North Korea may wipe them off the map soon.

Really thankful that this guy is in my life. he has been a mentor, he has been a friend, he has been a teacher, he has been a counselor, he has bought me beers and yelled at me for picking losers in Vegas, he has lamented the upcoming downfall of Wisconsin at the hands of the Republicans with me. He has rooted for me at Volleyball, drug himself to trivia where he on occasion throws a sports answer at me, he loathes Duke basketball, Notre Dame football, the Yankees, the Cowboys, Rush, crappy waitresses, no ncaa football playoffs, terrible sports radio hosts, and losing. He is my best friend in Madison and he owes me because I introduced him to Vegas and he now spends 51 weeks a year dreaming of that week he will be there. My life has changed in so many ways. Paul is one of the reasons it's much better.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I hope you have many things to be thankful for. I am thankful you check in on my blog every once in awhile to see how I am doing. Peace, Love, and Turkeys....Jim

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I dig it when you're fancy dressed up in lace
I dig it when you have a smile on your face
This inspiration's got to be on the flow
This invitation's got to see it and know
It's just warm love
And it's everpresent everywhere
To the country I'm going
Lay and laugh in the sun
You can bring, bring your guitar along
We'll sing some songs, we'll have some fun

Van Morrison

I wanted to wrap up my most recent trip to the ridge. It was trying to say the least on many different levels. There is no such thing as a bad trip to the ridge. But let's just say that some work out better than others. This one really didn't. But I'm still really glad I went. As always I met wonderful people, got inspired by all the others there working their butts off, hung out with the fabulous staff, and lost double digits weight.

I did something on this trip that I haven't done in the past. I set up a private meeting with one of the dietitians. Rachael, is the newest addition to the ridge staff and is available virtually all day to talk to you about food and food issues. She is easy to spot as she is the best dressed person in the dining room everyday. I have a nice history of completely losing my mind thanksgiving and keeping it lost until Christmas or more likely New Year's Day or even more likely Super Bowl Sunday. So we spent a long hour discussing food issues, planning meals, and talking about strategies to push forward. I could have actually used about 3 days. Strategy number 1.... Stop eating in bars :) Not too hard to do since I spend a whole lot less time in said venues in the winter with no volleyball :( but I really do want to limit my eating out because the calories I consume outside the house is way too high.

One thing I am certain we can all agree on is that I took way too few, and in general, mostly terrible pictures on this trip. But we can also agree that there are no bad pictures of my fitness ridge love....the pool. Big plans seem to be underway at the ridge. The building project manager, who has broken my heart in the past, assures me that on my next trip I will see a whole bunch of progress. First thing on the table is a new gym/lecture hall/social area. Now they have been promising me and I have been promising you guys enough that they should call me Peter Wolf, but I have some faith this time. Much like Charlie Brown's never ending faith that Lucy will hold that ball down.

I did have a really good last week. I was very happy I finally got an off road hike in. Got a ton of laps in. Got to see a whole bunch of newbies complete a triathlon. Got to play a little bit of basketball, ( where even hobbled still beat Seth and Eric :), had an awesome Friday afternoon in the pool, peeled like a snake in the desert, and got to tell my tan story by request and am actually living it as I am easily the most naturally tan person in Wisconsin in November. I followed that up with some fun times in Las Vegas. Oh and for the first time ever I am coming back heavier in the wallet and lighter on the scale.

I wanted to say thanks to the people who took the time to write and comment on this trip. I am really happy to report that I spent a few moments this week chatting with Caroline and she is on the road to recovery. She did seem concerned that her accent hadn't come back yet. I wasn't sure if she meant New York, South Africa or the combo plate she normally talks with. She made me laugh and I was very thankful for that. I hope everyone has a great week, and a very Happy Thanksgiving. It's one day, enjoy yourself. And I will leave the ridge by giving you a picture of the one thing everyone agrees on. Peace, Love, and Pumpkin delights, Jim

Monday, November 15, 2010

race day

Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again
It's so far and out of sight
I really need someone to talk to, and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight

Snow is cold, rain is wet
Chills my soul right to the marrow
I won't be happy till I see you alone again
Till I'm home again and feeling right
Carole King

I wanted to do a short little blog about race day. I really wanted to do the triathlon this trip. I wavered back and forth as to whether it was a good idea to attempt it or not. I certainly didn't want to let any of the people down who had signed up from the ridge, nor did I want any of the new triathletes not to see me on the course. As late as Friday night I was sure there was no way I would attempt it. I was and am still limping fairly noticeably. Outdoor basketball on Thursday had reminded me that neither of my knees is near correct, and pounding them on the pavement was not a great idea.

I had spoken with the life coach earlier this week as I mentioned in an earlier blog about my issues of needing to please everyone else. Sometimes to the detriment of my own needs and my own pleasure. I spent a lot of time the last two days before the race asking myself who was I doing this race for? Did I want to do it for myself? I knew I could do it, I had done it before, It's all there on CNBC tape. I didn't feel the need to prove to myself that I was a triathlete. Most of the people who had done the last one with me and pledged to return and do this one were nowhere to be found. I didn't want to do the race. I wasn't doing the race for me. It would be stupid to risk injuring my knees any further. Again I didn't need to do this race for myself. But much like the scorpion, who just can't help himself and stings the turtle assuring his own death because that's his nature. I, of course, decided to do it.

I picked up my packet Friday evening after the guy handing out the packets said "Oh, you're doing the race" after assuming I wasn't and trying to bypass me. I was told by the race director at the counter that they would make sure they got my lap count correct this time which made me laugh. Got my race number 669. Glad I didn't get 666. Which I happened to see the next day pinned on to Laurel, a ridger.

We got there early. Got in line right away. I ended up in the first set of swimmers in lane #9. Shared the lane with a speedy swimmer who beat me by a about a minute and a half. But I felt damn good. Swimming, is not and will not, ever be my issue in these races. Headed out to the bike race changeover. Shared my naked backside with a happy little family of four watching the transition area. Walked my bike out to the start line and headed out into the morning pedaling my bike.

It was the same course as last year. I struggled in the same spots. Huffed up the same hills. Felt the same numbness in my fingers. Felt the same numbness in my toes. Felt new pain in both knees. Exasperated I made a deal with myself. Get through the ten mile bike and evaluate the knees and if they don't feel right then don't do the run. That second loop seemed so much longer than the first. I almost forgot about the numbness in my feet as the pain where the seat was grinding into my special area started to overwhelm me. I kept trying to adjust on the seat but I'm still feeling it. I pulled into the bike finish damn happy that the ride was over. Let me just say that everyone was really supportive on the course. They cheer, they shout your name and number, and there just seemed to be more of them lining the course this time. Thank you to them.

You walk your bike around a 100 yds from the finish to the transition area. The numbness in my legs was bad. The pain in my knees persistent. As I put the bike away. I decided that I just shouldn't do the last leg. It felt really bad to withdraw. I'm not used to quitting. But I was glad I started. I was glad I did more than most people did that morning. I still feel bad, however, that in some way I let some people down. Hopefully they understand that I need my knees to get me through a whole lot of volleyball. They will get better and I just didn't want to risk injuring them any further on this morning. The race comes around again in 6 months :)

I need to give some serious shoutouts to some of the first timers and some of the returners. To Randy, Laurel, Danielle, Melissa, Shaylee, Jen D. and Megan. Congrats on your first tri. To Nancy, Lisa, Gretchen, Jen and Tiffany it was fun to do the race with you for a second time. To the few people that were past guests and showed up race day but whom I don't know your names. Congrats as well. And to my friend, Deb from Dallas, who won her trip from the Biggest Loser show and who is getting married in February, I hope that torn calf muscle mends quickly. I get a couple days in Vegas and then head home. Hopefully they cancel winter this year :( Peace and love, Jim

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back on the Mountain

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go, go, go
Oh, no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello

The Beatles

Let's wrap up the weekend,'cause it was a really fun weekend. A couple words I never thought I would say started the weekend for me. "Paige and I are heading to Vegas on Friday" We did, and It was my shortest trip to Vegas ever. 6 minutes in the Palms casino betting that day's Breeders Cup races. 3 minutes at the rental car return and then back heading north. Friday afternoons at the Ridge are my favorite day of the week. Everyone is happy that the week has come to an end, and many spend the afternoon in the pool, which this week featured 3 hours of pool volleyball. Saturday was spent watching football and betting the Breeders Cup. Zenyatta was extremely noble in defeat. I'm almost sorry I bet against her, but I'll get over that when I cash my tickets on Blame. Really fun race to watch and I'm glad that for a moment the country cared about the sport of kings again. Saturday night was Karaoke which we all know makes Jim happy. Sunday as always saying Goodbye to some campers and Hello to others.

The third and final week at the ridge, had me spending Monday morning on the bike and in the pool doing laps. Hey if it was a biathlon on Saturday I would be set :) The temperatures dropped a good 20 degrees from last week, the wind increased and the summer weather came to a screeching halt. What changed about the program? Nothing, except there were fewer people in each pool class. Monday also brought the return of one of my greatest friends. College basketball...Let me love thee!!! And my Terps kicked off the season with a nice win.

Tuesday at the ridge is Cardio Intervals day. My favorite class of the week. 30 second increases and decreases on a cardio machine. I started on the nustep which is a machine that has some rehab qualities but then moved over to the treadmill. My knees survived it and I thought to myself It's been a few weeks with no hikes time to change that.

My hiking group which was probably tired of hearing my name called each morning on the van only to not have me climb on. we did a hike that was called Hidden Pinyon. It culminates with a trip up the mountain to Piano Rock. There's pictures of me at that rock if you go back far enough in the blog. You can see the rock in the top picture. It's the tiny dot in the middle of the top picture, just under the whisp of clouds.

I'm almost done with this year's fall trip. It has been trying at times. This week has reminded me why I come here. It's been a really good week. I feel reinvigorated. I feel happy and young. I feel like I can do things I couldn't do two weeks ago.
I have been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier and doing both with a smile on my face. Did I mention there was a race Saturday? I guess the only way to know is to keep reading. May your week be filled with hope and hearts and laughter and stars. Peace and Love, Jim

Saturday, November 6, 2010


And sometimes I don't have the energy
To prove everybody wrong
And I try my best to be strong
But you know it's so hard
It's so hard

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard when it doesn't come fast
It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard
The Dixie Chicks

I have to kind of laugh every once in awhile, here at the Ridge when things that I said would be great additions to the program actually show up in the program. It just takes a couple years to actually get it implemented. It started with the volleyball nets in the pool, continued with Saturday night Karaoke, and the latest addition is Kickball. I have stressed so many times how important it is to find things you like to do that burn calories. I am really happy that the program now factors in some "fun" activities that let's you see that you don't have to be running on a treadmill to be active. There is so much more tennis, volleyball, basketball, bike riding and yes kickball that makes your stay in Utah more fun. And you really need to view exercise as fun or your not going to want to continue. And just so there is no misunderstanding, I am wretched when it comes to kickball. I'm not really in peak kicking condition right now but no excuse for my miserableness.

I'm not complaining mind you, just updating the status of my knee. It was sore from kickball which really can't be a good sign. My dream of a second triathlon seems to be evaporating as running on pavement is just not an option for me right now. The good news is that I have gotten a really nice tan from my countless hours in the pool. I have done more water aerobics than a senior center on steroids. There is no doubt that Friday afternoon is my favorite 3 hours of the week at the ridge. And this week it was spent playing volleyball in the pool, listening to great music, and enjoying perfect temperatures in the high 70's. Really the perfect trifecta for me.

Speaking of trifectas, it's Breeder's Cup weekend, and I'm looking forward to a spending my Saturday in the racebook in Mesquite watching the races. History in the making as the great race mare Zenyatta goes for 20 straight wins. I, of course, being the huge sentimentalist I am will be betting against her. Just before I climbed on top of the pyramid....not really.

The food has just been ridiculously good on this trip. Shrimp, rice and grilled veggies. I'm not really sure how it is possible to keep so many people on 1200 calories from killing each other but they do. I haven't said much about the elections this week. It was ugly for my team. ugly for things I believe in. And I am bemused by the people in Iowa voting out judges trying to make everyone equal. The divide in this country is so great it's hard to see reconciliation anytime i the near future. I was extra sad to see the only senator that shopped in Sunshine Daydream lose in Wisconsin.

Someone finally asked me what's with all the Dixie Chick tunes. After not listening to the Album Taking the Long Way for quite some time I realized that it is the most exceptional cd of the last decade. Flawless, on topic, poignant, and fun to listen to. Highly recommend giving it a listen.

I'm happy to report that Caroline is doing better, She is no longer on life support, no longer in immediate danger, She faces a long recovery, but I have seen her work at the Ridge and I am certain she gets it done. Godspeed to her and her family. Love, Jim

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Never knowing
Shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments
We're Clever but we're clueless
We're just human
Amusing but confusing
Were trying but where is this all leading
Never Know
Jack Johnson

I understand that bad things happen to good people. I understand that the nature of our existence is fragile and that there are no guarantees. I grasp that the human body is a extraordinarily intricate machine and that it doesn't always work the way it was intended. I have a very hard time understanding how a very dear friend of mine can, two days shy of her 30th birthday be talking to me one moment and be leaving in ambulance 5 minutes later and and med-flighted to Salt Lake City in an attempt to save her life.

I have seen ambulances come to the grocery store, the bank, State St, Fitness Ridge and virtually everywhere. I know that people can and do fall sick anywhere and at anytime. In my 20 some weeks here, I believe I have seen the EMT's come to the Ridge 3 times and transport people twice. It took a large number of pieces to fall into the puzzle correctly for Caroline to be in Utah on November 1st. And while I felt bad at first that I helped facilitate her getting the last open spot when one opened last week, I now realize that if this had happened somewhere there was no one was there to help her, the outcome may have been substantially worse. She was swimming in the pool when she fell ill, got herself onto the pool deck by herself and asked for help.The people at the Ridge are trained to handle an emergency. The EMT arrived in 3 minutes and the Ambulance in 5.

Please send happy thoughts for a swift recovery to my friend Caroline Smith, who spent her 30th birthday in surgery in Salt Lake City. If you pray please include her in your prayers. Play some Jack Johnson for her, she got to meet him this year and I was so jealous.

Perspective is a very funny thing. Things that depress you and feel so limiting are really just little bumps. And though they seem so challenging and so troubling they really are nothing more than minor inconveniences. And on that count you are not going to hear me complain about my knees or complain about a tooth being pulled. I'm still here, I'm still working hard, I'm still fighting the good fight. I'm thankful for every opportunity I have given to me. I'm grateful for my friends. They bring smiles to my face on a daily basis. It's a new day, with new challenges, and all you can do is start each day, happy to be here, and with a simple promise to make the world a little better, and a little happier because of your presence. Peace and Lots and Lots of Love, Jim

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat

It's a new day
Let's look at all we've got
It's everything we thought
We ever wanted
It's beautiful

(Baby, hold on)
Let's start this over
(Baby, hold on)
We're not much older now
(Baby, hold on)
If you still see what I see
Keep holding on
Hold on to me
The Dixie Chicks

Someone asked me this week exactly how many weeks I have spent at the ridge, and I didn't exactly know the number. 20 something for sure. And there have been a whole lot of good and great weeks here. Last week wasn't one of them.

It was by far my toughest week ever at the ridge. Worse than the first, although that is so far removed maybe I am glossing over how tough that week was. I have never had to deal with an injury at the ridge and I suffered with doubt and pain. I didn't know whether to baby my knee or push it and see what would happen. I also spent the week in considerable pain due to a tooth problem.

I did an hour and 20 minutes on the treadmill , Wednesday afternoon, mixing in running and walking and really felt pretty decent throughout the time. I didn't recover well that night and now have pain in my right knee as well as the left. One thing you can do at the ridge is modify the program to fit your needs and problems. Paige is really happy to help structure a program that will help you make the most of your time at the ridge regardless of any injuries you may be suffering from. Looks like extra pool and bike work for me this week. And as John and Melissa know any time in the hot tub makes you feel better.

After suffering with tooth pain for most of the week. I headed to the dentist on Friday morning. Long story short, #29 tooth came out in about 3 pieces. It was and is painful but it feels a lot better. And given that the dentist muttered two things you never want to hear at the dentist, "I have never seen that before", and "that's what I was afraid of" it wasn't all that terrible.

So we started Saturday with a new direction, new attitude and one less tooth. But hey here's to hoping that tooth weighed a lot. I had a double digit weight loss this week, got to ride the bike further than I had before, and had a really good weekend. The field trip Saturday was Laser Tag/ Neon Mini Golf, enhanced by me continuing my 2 year unbeaten streak on various air hockey tables in St George. And more proof that you can have fun without food and booze on a Saturday night.

Which leaves me with Halloween at the Ridge. Nice to see the staff embrace the holiday :) I guess if you are going to pick a holiday to be at the ridge this one's fairly easy. I'm not sure how the people hike on Christmas day... but they do. No bowls of candy sitting around and my first snickerless Halloween since old #29 was a mere baby tooth.

Here is to everyone having a better week and a wonderful November. Peace and Love, Jim