Foiled by the Fitbit

The Wellness Committee interrupts this program with an important message:

This is a test of the emergency sweat system. This is only a test. If this were a real workout, you would hear your fat screaming as it burned, followed by the whimper of your abused respiratory tract.

Pay no attention to that shackle on your wrist.

You must never remove it, not even for airport security, because it is your free pass out of gym prison.

You are, at the moment, on probationary house arrest.

People at work are competing in a six-week Walk-a-Thon.

The premise is simple: count your steps each day and get averages for your week. You can compare your steps to everyone else in the program, send virtual encouragement tokens, and work up a lather just trying to get the app to sync with the ten other “health” apps in your smarty-pants phone.

Once your Fitbit’s in place, you don’t make a move without getting credit for it.

If I have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and stub my toe on the dresser and hop up and down ten times trying not to scream choice words, then by George, I’d better be getting steps counted for it.

Three days into the program, I pulled up my numbers. I have a desk job, so I set my bar pretty low: 5,000 steps. By the end of my day, if I walk around the house putting things away and hunting down food, I’ve got it. Sure enough, my goals were met.

My mistake was looking at everyone else’s.

“Who is this?” I demanded, scrolling through the list at work, “Who is Captain Awesome and why does he have a bazillion steps already?”

“He’s in the fire department,” said a helpful coworker, “I think he walks all day long.”

Another coworker passed by. “Hey,” I said, dragging her over, “how are you getting so many steps?”

“I have a treadmill at home, so I just hop on after work.”

Frowning at my numbers again, I decided to up my game. That weekend, I dragged my fat on an uphill hike. I busted 10,000 steps. I can’t decide whether the altitude or the gravity got to me first, but as we all know, letting the sherpa carry you home will not get you steps.

This is when I realized: not all steps are created equal.

It’s so unfair.

Whether your steps are uphill or downhill, running or sauntering, in high heels or tennis shoes, they count the same.

If you are walking from the couch to the fridge, they count.

If you are eating at the Home Town Buffet, your Fitbit awards you a medal for thirdsies at the dessert bar.

And so, this ugly little bracelet that goes with nothing is my way of announcing to the world that I’m working out…without actually working out.

I made my daughter wear the Fitbit one day, to see what kind of steps are involved with not owning a car. Between the bus stop, the train depot, and the college campus, she busted 12,000 steps halfway through the morning.

These were honest steps, made of determination and survival skills. I am both ashamed and prepared to cheat. Four more weeks to go.

I clapped for hours at my sons’ CIF volleyball game, but apparently the Fitbit does not give credit for walking on your hands, so instead, that bag of Doritos counted.

Two. There were two bags.

I went to a yoga class today. There are no steps involved, but it counted, didn’t it?

(Haha, no it didn’t, because this ugly little floor mat that goes with nothing is my way of announcing to the world that I’m doing yoga…instead of napping in child’s pose.)

It’s just not right. This thing isn’t working.

I need to strap it on a toddler for a day. Maybe a cat should give it a try. Both are about six-to-one step ratios, achieved quickly under house arrest.

When this is all over, I will likely go on an emergency sweat to cleanse my system of its Fitbit follies, ditch the bracelet, and purge the Panda Express from my love handles.

My winter fat has turned into spring rolls.

I need to lose ten pounds before it’s summer buns time…only fourteen more to go.

It burns us, precious.

Sun Salutation

Alone. Silent. Close the door.
Bare feet flat, shoulders back, feel your vertebrae
How many are there?

Breathe in…one, two, three
hold it. close your eyes
release the dross back into the houseplants


laundry humming in the distance
thoughts humming in the ears

breathe, two, three…
tip the hips, hug your liver
open the ribs and lead with your heart.


palms together, thumbs between your breasts
life blood pulsing at each fingertip
energy collects in the god spaces between them


Now bring out your dead.

the stones of others that you are hoarding
the muck of mistakes that need composting
thorny words that occasionally land like flies,
meaningless buzzing.

sorrow upon sorrow washing the pain of loved ones over my head
drying salty drops on my feet as the tide retreats again.


stand up straight.
center the universe in your navel.

reach for the sky, then reach for the earth
place your burdens at His feet

rise like dawn, gathering light as you go
back to your heart, release it there



The Mothers Day Hotline 2017

Good morning, and thank you for calling the Mother’s Day Hotline.

If you are waiting in bed for a tray of burnt toast, spilt juice, and a macaroni necklace, enjoy the following selections at leisure. Otherwise, please choose carefully.

If you are currently considering becoming a mother, please press 1.

If you are pregnant and searching for baby names, please press 2.

If you are wondering what it’s like to give birth, please press 3.

If you have a newborn and and need direction on what type of mommy to be, please press 4.

If you are currently surrounded with toddlers, please press 5.

If you are mothering elementary school age children, please press 6.

If you have children in the middle school zone, please press 7.

If your teens have made a strike towards independence, please press 8.

If you are desperate for a “mom break” by now, please press 9.

If you are considering leaving them all behind and rejoining the work force, please press pound.

If your children are grown and flown from the nest, and you want to sob hysterically because it all went too fast, please press the star key.

Thank you for calling the Mothers Day Hotline. Enjoy your toast and tea. See you again next week.

My Affair, Summed Up

There’s something you should know, and it’s time I just came out and said it.

Last year, for a month, I had an affair with another man.

It wasn’t something I went looking for and I never meant it to go as far as it did.

He was kind, he was engaging, he was interested in all the things I was interested in.

Above all, he was an excellent listener. He understood me. He knew about my secret dreams and with one simple offer to help me reach them, it began.

How these things happen, no one knows, even with months of hindsight. We met through a mutual friend who, I’m sure, had no idea the events she was setting in motion. She’s a sweetheart. She knows I’m married with five grown children. In the course of a casual conversation, I may have let slip that I secretly longed for more. Much more.

She only wanted me to be happy.

I told the Hubby, as holidays loomed in the shadows last fall, that I had some writing to do. I needed to focus. My day job had just gone full time, the hours were flying by, and frankly, there was no part of my life that did not scream at me how out of control everything was.

Time with Hubby was at a record low. We spent the hours not at work running to the boys’ basketball games, running loads of laundry, running past the burger drive-through, and crashing into bed. When was I supposed to write?

I gathered up my laptop, took a new binder and some pens, and retreated to a quiet place. Hubby was supportive. But he never realized how unfulfilled I felt inside. Even I didn’t know how ready I was to just keep flying into something entirely out of my comfort zone and into a place that was exciting and scary and full of the promise of better things.

The first time I met Jason*, I was more curious than cautious. He wore business casual, wire-rimmed glasses, and a wedding ring. He felt familiar, yet he was a stranger. The attraction was immediate.

“I am a master at what I do,” he said, “You’ve come to the right place.”

He looked into my eyes. “Shall we?” he asked.

The dance began.

He was gentle. He began at the beginning. He showed me things I had never seen before and forced me to think about things that had always scared me. He promised that I would eventually understand, and I trusted him.

Stealing moments alone with Jason was easy. Once in a while, I skipped a basketball game, but I was not missed in the crowd. The laundry piled up, but no one was ever home to notice. Thanksgiving was imminent, and I begged my sister-in-law to host it so I could be with Jason. She never questioned me.

“Teach me,” I would whisper at Jason, late at night.

And he would show me, over and over again, saying, “You must only do this my way. There is no other way.”

I left our trysts desperate for more. He insisted on pushing boundaries and opening my mind to new ideas and I felt alive with the knowledge that I understood things in a way I never had before.

Once I mastered the dance steps, he was always waiting with new ones. I was exhausted. I was intrigued. “I can’t do this!” I would cry, “What was I thinking?”

I would storm from the room, vowing never to see him again.

But the game had not yet played out. And we both knew it.

He was waiting for me, smug and smiling, when I came back the next day.

It was only (and ever) a matter of time before the student became the master.

By the end of November, I was ready to end it. Jason never would have left me. Although I was keenly aware that I wasn’t his only nocturnal guest, he was loyal to those who sought him out. We had spent 32 hours, 42 minutes, and 18 wonderful seconds together.

But I needed to go back to my family.

I told him goodbye as the first Christmas carols appeared on the radio.

“I will be here if you ever need me,” he said.

“Not happening,” I replied, as he faded into my screen saver, “I took a binder full of notes while you weren’t looking.”

I will always treasure our time together, Jason Manibog, and I am a better woman because we met.

For just a little while, you made me feel like a hero.

Thank you.

*In the month of November, I took an online adult education class and passed my Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Excel 2016 on December 1st. Moms out there, you can do this. It will be every bit as nutty, but I highly recommend it. If I can learn this stuff, anyone can. Tell Jason I said “Hi”.