My new friend Louie

Every time I’m out on the bike trail between 7 & 8 in the morning, I see some familiar faces. There’s one man in particular who always walks the same stretch – no matter what day of the week, I see him. He walks with a bit of a bounce to his step…. like he’s just happy to be out enjoying some exercise. And he always, always has the loudest, most cheerful good morning.

I saw him this morning on my way north as he was heading south and we exchanged our typical “good mornings” and “beautiful days.” I decided that if I passed him again after my turnaround, I was going to stop to introduce myself. I went on my merry way for a few more miles, turned around and saw him up ahead. As I neared him I almost chickened out “This is so out of character… are you really going to ride up on a stranger and just introduce yourself?!?” But I pushed those thoughts to the side, took a deep breath and shouted out “Coming up on your left and I have a question for you!”

I slowed down to roll alongside and told him that I enjoy seeing him out whenever I’m on the trail: “I’d love to say good morning by name. My name is Barb, what’s yours?” He stopped, extended his hand and said “It’s so nice to meet you Barb, my name is Louie. No one ever stops to share their names even though us regulars see each other all the time. That’s real nice of you. Real nice.” I thought that might be it but he started to talk. So I shifted gears and rolled alongside him for what turned out to be fifteen minutes of delightful conversation.

Louie worked for the steel mills for 44 years and the day after he retired he started walking on the trail. He now walks five miles every day “rain or shine – even in the snow.” He’s 69 years old and will turn 70 in November and is grateful every day that he’s healthy and active enough to get out.

I now know he’s a Colts fan and one year shortly after Christmas he found a brand new money clip with a Colts logo on it on the trail. He carried it with him for a week and asked everyone he saw if it was theirs but it wasn’t… and it had less than $10 in it so he didn’t report it. Every time he gets it out of his pocket it makes him smile.

He has a brother who just retired from being a mailman and this spring he helped him move down to Florida. He misses him. He has a niece in the area, another in Nashville and a third down in Florida.

He asked about my family and how long I’ve lived here. He’s a “region boy” who grew up in Whiting. He joked that I was probably a little shaky and nervous about sending my oldest to college in a few weeks but that I shouldn’t be because it will be the best time of her life.

When we got to his car, he extended his hand again and said he’s looking forward to seeing me on the trail again soon. “I’m excited to be able to call out to someone by name. I sure hope I don’t forget it but if I do feel free to smack me on the head as you ride past and shout it out – that will make sure I remember.”

Me and my new friend Louie… I’m looking forward to talking with him more and I’ll be sure to ask what he thinks about the Colts when the season starts.


One word

I’ve started listening to a new podcast called Abiding Together. It has a beautiful voice and at approximately 30 minutes is just right to listen to on a walk. One of their episodes was about picking a word for the year. Sort of a theme for your personal year and, in this context, your prayer life.

I’ve heard of this notion before but never really been interested in doing it. But they brought up the idea of a word for a season – in this case for Lent – and that struck a chord. That seems more tangible to me and a good way to focus what has felt a bit like a scattered Lent so far. So I started thinking about it as I walked and listened.

I thought I had a word but I wasn’t sure. I said a prayer about the idea and left it in God’s hands. And then the word that I was considering popped out of someone else’s mouth the next day in my Lenten faith sharing group. So I started to think about it some more and how I could apply it.


As in creating an intentional space to grow. To pray. To think.

Metaphorically pushing aside the clutter of thoughts and to do lists and demands on my time and creating space. I imagine this space as blissfully quiet. It’s warm there. And sheltered. And peaceful. I’m sure I can see water. I think I like this space. Now the challenge in front of me is taking the time to create this space on a regular basis.

Freeing up some boundaries

Last weekend in our uncharacteristically balmy May weather (in February) my 12yo son got a text from a friend. They were playing basketball at the elementary school (within walking distance) and wanted him to come out. So out he went – that’s nothing new really, the elementary school has been within his play boundaries without an adult for a few years now.

Next thing I know he’s wandering around with this same group of kids and walking to McDonald’s and to another neighborhood school to play. He asked before he left. He texted to keep us updated. His adventures were all within 1.5 miles of our house and we live in a small town so I wasn’t worried for his safety since he was with a group. (I mean not any more worried than is appropriate when talking about 12 year old boys and their sometimes goofy behavior.)

It just seemed awfully sudden that I have three kids that can now wander about at will.

My 15yo got her driving permit a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been doing lots of driving practice. She’ll be eligible for her license at the end of the summer so by next school year she’ll be reaching out to new boundaries on her own as well.

As I type this my 18yo and her friend are driving down to Bloomington for the weekend to hang out with friends and experience some college life. (Go Hoosiers) That’s the farthest she’s driven on her own; though with college around the corner, it seems an appropriate boundary to free.

All of these new adventures seem appropriate to me. At the same time they feel like someone threw a glass of cold water in my face. My kids are more like young adults than kids. They are spreading those metaphorical wings everyone talks about and strengthening them to fly away. But it seems like just yesterday that they were like this…

1930533_1034887029102_8199_n 1930533_1034886069078_7455_n

Who taught them to be so adventurous anyway?!??!

It’s time to find all my left shoes

Over the past 10 days I’ve been gradually weaning myself out of that obnoxious walking boot. I started a new physical therapy plan last week and had my first PT workout today. I can ride a bike (without high resistance or up hills but since it’s too cold to ride outside that’s not a concern). AND I can go out for walks again! Not quite as fast as my normal workout walking pace but still… I can walk OUTSIDE for a workout.

Can you see my smile in these words?

I walked today for 1.5 miles at the fairgrounds before my PT appointment. It’s a little hilly there and the PT very kindly suggested I back off and start on nice flat surfaces like the bike trail. I mentioned that I’d like to go hiking on the dunes this weekend. He again very kindly said that was a recipe for hurting myself and suggested a nearby park that has a nice trail around a small lake. I like this guy already – he’s not super negative¬†about his restrictions. Instead of just telling me no, he asked me questions about where I like to hike and why and then kindly redirected me to something more appropriate. I’m like a 3 year old always asking to do something that’s beyond my capabilities and he’s like the really nice parent who instead of saying no, just steers me in a different direction.

I’ll keep up the optimism of a three year old for now. It’s been a while since I had reason to be optimistic.

The egg project

Both of my girls are taking Psychology and as part of a unit on human development, their teacher is having them carry around an egg for a week. That egg (hard-boiled) is supposed to represent their child. It is to be with them at all times. If they have work or practice it is supposed to be babysat. They carry it all around school and the teacher marks off points if the egg is cracked or not with them.

I understand the goal of this lesson but let me tell you something… it is one stinky project. By the end of the day those hard boiled eggs STINK. That means that the girls are going through an egg a day. Eggs aren’t exactly expensive but it’s killing me how wasteful this project is. That’s perfectly good food and it’s just being tossed in the trash every single day. Plus they are carrying it around in a tupperware… I never put my baby in a tupperware I can promise you that.


So the egg “ages” each day and in the past day two funny things happened that have made me laugh. Laughing is good so I’ll share these stories.

Yesterday I picked up my daughter after jazz band and asked about her day. She grouchily tossed the container holding her egg into the car and said

  • “I hate this stupid egg. Seriously hate it!”
  • My response: “That’s not a very nice way to talk about your precious baby.”
  • E: “It’s not a baby any more; today it’s in middle school.”
  • Me: “Oh… no wonder you don’t like it. I didn’t like you all the time when you were in middle school either.”

This morning J was asking E about this egg project, what she is going to do with the egg over the weekend etc. He asked how old the egg is and she replied that today it’s 18. His idea for a weekend adventure: sky diving!

  • J: “I’ve always wanted to do an egg drop! Let’s build a container and try it off a tall ladder!”
  • E: “I can’t let my child go sky diving!”
  • J: “That thing is 18, it can do whatever it wants now.”

I’m not sure these are the lessons they are supposed to be gaining from this stinky, wasteful experiment. But it is proving to be very amusing. I’m also now curious as to what kind of uncle J is going to be someday….