Let Me Count the Ways…

IMG_0803So I finally did it.  I joined a health/fitness club.  It is cheap, not contract-based and has just opened so the equipment is brand spanking new.  The treadmill has fancy hill programs, an iPhone connector, TV screen, little fan that blows right in my face and can get annoying but what do you do.  I worked out yesterday and today and I am hating it. Let me count all the ways:

1. The color of the walls, I believe I would call it puce, makes my eyes hurt
2. I have to get on I-95 to get there
3. Even working out right next to the window, I get antsy with a large gym full of people. I am far happier walking by myself, and I like it even more in the relative darkness of my favorite route.
4. I chose the window to have a little sense of space, but people come right up to it and stare in.  Awwwkwwaaard.
5. I see bodies so much more fit, so much more lovely, so much more lots of things that I could never aspire to.  Unfortunately, odious comparisons are inevitable…
6. It smells sort of funky–all the air freshners in the world can’t mask stale sweat.
7. I forgot to bring a bottle of water and went to buy one–I just won’t pay $5.00 for a small bottle.
8. I haven’t figured out how to turn off the TV so even though I get to listen to my own music, there’s this TV I can’t get away from.
9. It is way, way, way more boring using the treadmill than walking, especially when my walks include the view of the ocean or unexpected encounters with owls, racoons, the occasional snake, frogs and other critters.
10. I figured out that my pace is not really steady when I am out training feet against concrete–I go really fast some of the time, slow down a little, speed back up and it all averages out just fine.  The treadmill forces me to walk at one single pace and it feels like I am at the mercy of the machine.  I don’t like it, not one little bit.

Here’s the thing though:  it is the only way I am going to get anything approaching decent hill training.  I am pretty driven right now to see this through.  So I’ll keep going until I go to Birmingham.  After that?  It’s back to my rambles.  Not that I’m a cranky pants about this or anything…

Last Turn

The Statistics
Distance: 13.1
Duration: 3:10:44
Pace: 14.33
Speed: 4.14mph

The Map

The Walk

What It Looked Like

Las Olas Bridge

Las Olas Bridge


A1A Intersection With Las Olas

Sunrise Over the Atlantic

Sunrise Over the Atlantic

One Of The More ColorfulPlaces I Walk By-Soo Tawdry (Hustler Store)

One Of The More Colorful
Places I Walk By-Soo Tawdry (Hustler Store)

One of Only Two Tunnels in Florida, Only One Open

One of Only Two Tunnels in Florida, Only One Open

View From 17th Street Causeway

View From 17th Street Causeway

Cruise Ships At Port Everglades

Cruise Ships At Port Everglades

Second Brief View of the Ocean

Second Brief View of the Ocean

Back to the Beginning: All Saints Episcopal Church

Back to the Beginning: All Saints Episcopal Church

I’ve finished the distance training for the half marathon. From this point forward, my focus will be on the 3 miles of continuous hill walking I’ll face near the end of the route in Birmingham.  I don’t know if I’ll ever do another half marathon either.  All that made this especially sweet. As hard as I pushed myself, I saw, really saw, how beautiful this place is. It is a good life…

Another Friday Night


I thought last week was hard.  Hard enough to warrant a pity party (small, true, but a pity party).  And then this week, my daughter was arrested at her school.  Still can’t say much more than that but we’ve truly had a nightmare week.  Rocky Horror Picture Show is not showing tonight.  But I’m putting on my little black dress.  My Christmas shoes.  I’m even putting on some makeup and my mama’s pretty jewelry. And my husband is taking me out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. Have to be out walking by 6 tomorrow morning because I am doing the 13.1 miles again.  Nonetheless, tonight I am throwing all self discipline to the wind and having a Bellini. Maybe even two.  Thank God it’s Friday.

Lebron and Little Bow Wow


The past two days have been about as hard as it gets for a young person with the kinds of disabilities that shape our daughter’s life. Right now, I am not able to write about what has happened, though I hope I’ll be able to eventually. I can say this: the measure of our greatness as a country must depend, at least in part, on our ability to maintain spaces where a person as vulnerable as our girl is able, if not to thrive, at least be safe. There are parts of her life where this is possible and for that I am eternally grateful. There are other places where the failure is simply abysmal. And she is one of the lucky ones, woven into a community of love, power and privilege that will ensure that from this point forward, she, and hopefully others, won’t ever have to go through what happened to her earlier this week.

I marvel at the strength and resilience of the human heart. Yesterday we spent some time with our girl at BARC. We had been so worried about how she was doing. My funny little valentine girl was up for shooting some hoops, announcing herself as Lebron and baptizing me “Little Bow Wow”. We ran around the court, both of us clueless about the rules and form of basketball, laughing our heads off. We actually managed get that ball in the hoop more times than should have been possible for two gimpy legged, short and silly girls. And we held up our arms in the air singing “We are the champions”. At least of survival and refusing to allow ourselves to be erased, we most certainly are…




I write this to remember.  I was already moved by what was unfolding in front of the Capitol, quietly enjoying the sense of connection with people I love, scattered all around this country as we posted little comments on FaceBook.  My eyes stung looking at that beautiful young man, Richard Blanco as he launched into his poem.  But it was when I heard him describe all the ways we greet each other, ending with “buenos días
in the language my mother taught me” that I sobbed.  And I couldn’t stop as I watched Luis León, who was in Sherod’s DMin program with him, who ended his prayer — so very Episcopalian in tone and content — by turning and blessing our President and Vice President in beautiful, formal Spanish.

You cannot be a Latina immigrant, no matter how privileged, without walking carefully, speaking cautiously, knowing that something you say or do can easily unleash great anger and fear.  Today, we weren’t just visible.  We had voices, beautiful voices.  We mattered.  I know it is because we are a force for politicians to reckon with in the years ahead.  But still.  We were there.

What My Friend Robin Describes as Beautiful and Terrible


This morning I was up at 4:30, not unusual for me on Sunday mornings.  I work on my sermon on and off all week, but I have found that it really helps me to finish working it over one more time, early, early on the day I am preaching.   Today’s lesson is one I love—the wedding at Cana and Jesus turning water into the best wine imaginable.  In my family of origin, special occasions were always celebrated with Veuve Clicquot  champagne.  Though I drink less and less nowadays, this year I found a bottle of Clicquot Rosé and bought it without hesitation.  I could have sat with that bottle in a corner all by myself, could have drunk the entire bottle in one sitting, though instead, it turned out to be a New Year’s Day treat with good friends.

For me, that champagne makes real something I read as I prepared for my sermon:  Wine brings life in intoxicating excess.  I revel and delight in the notion that we are immersed in a superabundance of life, an exhilarating, untamed, and shamelessly glorious creation.  In my own life I have experienced any number of ways in which God continues to make water into wine when I am fearful that it has run out.  This is the Sunday, three years ago, when I officially began my ministry on the campus of St Ambrose.  It seemed to me, as dawn was breaking today and I revised my sermon—actually, almost rewrote it—that it wasn’t just that God had kept providing for us.  I was so aware that we have been at a magnificent party thrown in our honor, a celebration that has not stopped, one that continues to insist I join in the joyfulness. With this community I have learned what it means to sing, “I come with joy to meet my [God]”.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  Sherod is still out of town and María has had a really bad cold so we haven’t done much together this week.  Today I knew there was enough staff coverage at BARC to make it safe for me to bring her home for 3 hours.  It’s the first time she’s been here since before Christmas, the first time I’ve taken that kind of risk by myself in many months.

Life with my daughter is parceled out in small and carefully measured moments.  I keep myself from hugging her too much.  I guard against expressing how very much I miss her, trying to avoid overloading her with my need.  I maintain enough emotional distance to always observe carefully, aware that if I can catch precursors to problem behaviors really early, I will avoid a conflagration that becomes dangerous in an eye blink.   And when I drop her off, I steel myself, I have to steel myself far more than I do to walk 13 miles.  It is an exercise in absolute self-discipline, the most extreme opposite of excess, a discipline necessary to keep from clinging to that precious body I so carefully bless with the sign of the cross before I walk back down the hall, and out to my car to drive away.

How strange tonight, to understand this profound paradox of intoxicating excess and scorching, pulverizing scarcity.  Not either/or.  One is not possible without the other.  This is my life.



Update at 6:00 PM:
Avg Pace:15:27 min/hour
Distance:13.1 miles
Speed: 3.88 mph
I can do this thing. And Tina Turner and Shaquira are my BFF!!!

Sherod’s off to Alabama for the long weekend, to visit his mom and try out the new rifle he wanted as a Christmas gift. He stopped overnight in Crawfordville to gather up Charlie, his son, and Robert, his grandson. This is deer hunting season in that neck of the woods and I won’t be surprised to see Sherod bring home some venison. The picture of three generations of Mallow-men going up the road in the direction of those adventures is pleasing. I am also reminded that almost 25 years of marriage in no way erase the enormous distance between Sherod’s starting place in life and mine. We are knit together and the strands remain so distinct if you look closely. Continuing to mess around with metaphors, the arcs intersect for shorter, sometimes for longer, spans of time, but the trajectories are so much each our own, ours alone to follow.

It’s been a strange week. Maria has her ups and downs and there is no getting around that. Work was rough; towards the end of the week, really rough. By yesterday afternoon, I was ready to climb the walls so I started trying to figure out what I could do to have a bit of fun. Years ago, I had a remarkable friend called Genie. She is probably the most brilliant person I have ever met. I have not seen or talked to her for a couple of decades yet I constantly draw from some of the things I learned from her. I remember that she absolutely loved the Rocky Horror Picture Show so yesterday, when I went looking for a movie to take myself to, I was pleased to find out it was playing at midnight in one of our artsy, small movie theaters. I’m not quite sure why, but I decided to check with someone else I thought might know about the movie. Basically, my question was “thumbs up or thumbs down?”.

I got a very unexpected response. I had known that people dress up to go to this cult movie and actively participate in it. But yesterday I also learned that there are other parts to the experience. One piece is basically a hazing ritual for people who have come to the movie for the first time called the “devirgining ritual”. You get the idea: it runs the gamut from mildly amusing to totally outrageous, moving up and down the continuum of bawdy. One of the examples I read on line involves standing in front of the whole audience to imitate your favorite cartoon figure in the throes of the big O. What’s a little scary is I knew immediately which cartoon I would imitate and how. However, one thing was very clear to me: a place like Gateway at midnight is a point of intersection between my private life and my public life as a priest. My participation in anything unseemly would reflect not only on me, but on the community I am so honored to serve. I cannot willfully cause unnecessary pain and damage; there simply was no question that I could go.

As twilight set in, I felt so totally alienated from my life, I wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and disappear. I’ll give myself credit for refusing to surrender completely to a pity party. I went out and did the grocery shopping I needed to do, came back home and served myself a healthy, delicious meal, read for a while, and watched an episode of Torchwood, a series that’s an off-shoot of Dr. Who. More than usual, I was glad for sleep. This morning, it is raining and everything in me resists the fact that I had set a goal to walk 13.00 miles today. I need to go ahead and do it in the rain because chances are pretty decent I’ll have to do the same in Birmingham next month. I will confess, though, as my last bit of self pity for the day, that I would love to climb into the TARDIS, go back about 30 years and try again. That’s a total waste of time. So in the absence of a TARDIS, I’m off to walk…

Forgive Me


I realize this is probably only interesting to me.  But it is exhilarating and new and so unexpected.  I have stuck with my regular route for week-day training, focused on improving my pace.  Since I began measuring my pace, here’s what it looks like:

1/10–16:58 min/mi
1/14–16:23 min/mi
1/16–15:52 min/mi

Tomorrow I am going to enroll at the wellness center at the hospital closest to my house. About 1/2 of the route is hilly.  I’ve built some hill walking endurance by repeatedly going over the bridges around the downtown area of Ft Lauderdale.  But I think I need to do more.  At the wellness center, I hope to program a treadmill with the profile of the hill portion of the route in B’ham and do several training sessions building some speed and endurance on the hills.

I have no idea if I am training adequately or not.  I don’t even care that much.  What matters is the sense of agency and responsibility for my own results.  I like it. I like it a lot.  Thank you for your patience reading this boring stuff…


My training during the week is about shaving seconds off my pace. That basically means pushing myself, sometimes pretty hard, not allowing myself a lot of comfort. This is all so new to me, and tonight’s realization is that sometimes I have to fool my body to get across the resistance to do harder work. I have just recently become acquainted with Lindsey Stirling and there was this one song I kept repeating on my iPhone over and over again tonight because it was the one that kept me on the fastest pace (13.33 min/mile). In fact, at one point the music sounded so joyful that I found myself skipping and dancing down the street. So I am not the least bit surprised to come home and discover the name of this particular piece is Transcendence. I get to hear this young woman in concert next month–going to a real dive to hear her too–the week after the half-marathon. Is that very way cool or what?

End of the Day

View from the Good Vessel One More Chance

View from the Good Vessel One More Chance

The day is winding down.  It started out well–I walked my 10.51 miles in 2:46, a little more slowly than last week but ramping up from 6 to 10+ miles in three weeks at that pace still seems respectable.  Did some housework, visited my daughter who is struggling again, now that school has started back.  So bittersweet, that first glimpse of her when I get to BARC, so hard to drive away at the end of a visit, such certainty when all is said and done, that no matter what, this is the best possible place for her to be. Tonight all the residents and staff are going to a dance somewhere.  Her eyes sparkled talking about DJ’s and Salsa and Merengue.  It has to be enough just getting the glimpses of a life that’s taking a course all her own.  This is no different than what any other teenager’s parents experience.

Then it was home to attend to work stuff that needed response.  And when that was done, a boat ride up the river. We saw egrets and herons, the flash of a fish leaping out of the water.  There was a majestic osprey perched on a bare tree, close to water’s edge, spellbinding in its stillness.

There’s some more work to do on my sermon and then, my weekend is over for all intents and purposes.  Tonight I would give a lot to be gathered with a community to sing evening prayer together. The Phos Hilaron suffices…

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.