Confessions of an Un-Runner

Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Bio: Who is the Un-Runner?

The daughter of a country preacher and a strong-minded woman, the Un-Runner was raised to fit in, to do what she was told, and to NEVER make waves. She excelled at it - but she's better now!

Cyndi Paxton Johnson balances family, friends, fitness, homeschooling, writing and a family business with humor and tears. She's been published in Donne Tempo, The Washington Times, and Cecil County Magazine, among others.

Truth has many colors – and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every time we open our mouths to speak we have a choice. A critical choice.

We can choose to use our words to build someone up, to brighten their day, to tell them they’re awesome, they’re loved, they’re creative, they’re resourceful. We can use our words to help them become stronger, more secure and able to take on life’s challenges. We can make their world better, simply by pointing out the positive.

We can choose to remain neutral.  We can talk about the weather, football, the government or what to make for dinner. These words don’t have a positive effect on the world, but they do no harm, either.

Our third choice is the most popular option. We can use our words to wound, to hurt, to embarrass. We can point out the other’s faults, shortcomings and imperfections. We can let them know we find them lacking, less than optimal, less than…..well, ourselves.  We leave them slightly stunned, trying to hide the wounds our words have caused.  Their world – and self-esteem – is diminished slightly; our words have found their mark. We shrug, turn away, and reassure ourselves that we did nothing wrong – we spoke only the truth.  We continue along our way, in search of our next victim.

As a recent victim, I say to you: the truth has many colors, and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.  If I do not ask for your opinion – do not give it. Do not tell me of my faults, I know them already.  I should, you’ve pointed them out enough.  Please note – they still exist; your notice did nothing to help me grow, indeed, it kept me small and helpless. Perhaps that was your plan, all along?

The Mid-Shore Parking Lot Season

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It's that time again. Time for all major routes on the mid-shore to be inundated with traffic. It's time to start planning our drive to avoid said roads - in specific - anything eastbound on Friday and Saturday and anything westbound on Sunday.  Even last Sunday afternoon Route 50 west was a parking lot from Easton towards the bridge.

Fortunately, as we locals know, there are back roads that will get us there - eventually.

So, as we prepare to spend even MORE time in our cars - it's time to get prepared!

Cyndi's Car Preparation Guide

1. Water - just store it under seats so it stays relatively cool.

2. Snacks - our car is a veritable snack bar with Pop-tarts, pretzels, gum, fiber bars, fruit and our emergency standby - peanut butter and bread.

3. Books - these are for the kids, since folks get upset when I read and drive.

4. Books on CD (or MP3) - I love listening to books while I drive - especially when I feel like I'm learning something!

5. Tissues - for the chewed gum, banana peels and occasional nosebleed.

Can Weather be Menopausal?

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I’m so confused ….   I’m either hot, bundled under blankets and looking for warm socks ; or overheated,  throwing off layers,  grabbing for fans and fantasizing about central air conditioning.   I was wondering if I’d jumped off the deep end into menopause, but even my kids are showing identical symptoms.   It’s not me – it’s Spring that’s having hot and cold flashes and crying fits!

She (Spring) first made an early appearance, only to disappear for weeks while she was off, sulking.  She then returned with intermittent hot flashes, causing everyone to scuttle mid-day for cooler attire.  Then, as if ashamed of her burst of energy she turned cold, dampening us with days of rain, wind and – in some areas – tornados (talk about the ultimate hissy fit!).

Maybe she’s not menopausal – Spring’s all about growth, birth and renewal.  Maybe she’s jumped on the celebrity bandwagon and is flaunting her bipolar side.  Her moods certainly seem erratic – and she seems to be having difficulty establishing a calm mid-line.  Maybe it’s just stress – that nasty imp that can cause any of us to experience mood swings, sleeplessness (or excess sleep), crying fits and night sweats.   And let’s be honest – the overall stress level of the nation has been at an all time high.  

Couch Potatoes of the Mid-Shore: I’m abdicating my presidency!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I don’t understand folks who love to exercise – I just don’t get it. I’d rather curl up with a book, personally!  I have friends that run marathons (??????) and others who just (JUST)run a mile or two at a time. More and more friends are becoming addicted to CrossFIt in Easton – and from the looks of them – it really WORKS! 

These girl-friends must know something – because they seem happier and healthier in their daily life – and look fantastic in those “little black dresses”.  It might just be time for me to re-think my diet and fitness lifestyle.  (Nothing like a January cliché, no?)

Apparently the diet and fitness routine of my first 35 years (and pre-children) does NOT hold up to time and gravity.  Unfortunately it’s taken me over ten years to come to this conclusion.  I’m a fantastic procrastinator! 

Today I researched Weight Watchers and calculated how many points I’m allowed per day.  I then figured out the point value of the food I eat regularly - which turned out to be about 4-6 times the number of daily points I’m SUPPOSED to consume.


Choose Door Number Two this New Year!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Wow. It’s almost 2011 – another year bites the dust.  Another year has passed without us realizing significant change in our lives.  We’re still overweight, under read, and standing on the brink of realizing our true potential.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had some actual accomplishments this year (like finally finishing my first manuscript!)  But there’s always more left undone.  I suppose I can look at it two ways:  1) everything I FAILED to accomplish with my life to date or 2) all these amazing things to reach for NOW. 

Hmm….I do believe I’ll take Door Number Two! So what do I win?

Well,  you’ve chosen an exciting path for 2011! Adventure, explosive growth and massive success stand behind Door Number Two! Of course, you’ll have to commit to the course and plan accordingly – you really can’t experience Door Number Two without actually getting up off the couch and DOING something!

You’ll also need to be prepared for anything. So make sure your passport & papers are in order, have someone on hand to care for the critters, and be sure to save money every month for last minute travel and opportunities!

Next, learn from the children in your life and ASK for what you want! Tell people your goals and expect them to help you reach them!  Accordingly, do whatever YOU can do to help other people accomplish their dreams, as well. 

After all, it’s a brand new year – and Door Number Two is YOURS for the taking. 

Will you take it?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."   -Marianne Williamson

There's Nothing Like the Movies - To Make You Feel OLD

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I went to the movies this week - to see Harry Potter. There's nothing like a trip to the cinema to make you feel as old as Methuselah. First, of course, is being surrounded by teens, pre-teens and young adults. Although perhaps "old children" feels more appropriate.

But I didn't mind the younger crowd - and was rather grateful there were no new parents in the darkened theatre, so desperate for a night out they brought their crying offspring. (ok - I only did that ONCE - and she was quiet the ENTIRE movie!)

What really made me feel OLD - the Previews. You know the endless parade of upcoming films - with no fast forward button. Each one involved techno- enhanced super heroes, alternate worlds and explosive action. Yogi Bear was the only preview that didn't leave me shuddering - although I won't be running out to see that one, either. TRON, The Green Lantern and The Green Hornet will have to survive without me as well - since I found the previews to be more than enough.

Is this what the film industry has become? Each film more unbelievable than the one before?

I don't think I'm hopelessly out of touch (although I'm sure my children would disagree!). I enjoyed the Shrek series, love Harry Potter (although prefer the books and the audio recordings) and even read Twilight!

{sigh} Yeah, ok. I'm old. Guess I'll just stay home and watch Casablanca!

Take THAT, Kidney Stones!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I’m a natural healer kind of gal. I believe in alternative medicine, herbs and healing foods. So when I suddenly found myself bent double in agony, I did what any self-actualized, natural healer would do.

I went to the Emergency Room for some kick-ass pain killers. 

The hospital visit started out great, as visits go. First  - there was NO ONE in the ER!!!  The lady at reception got my name and address, gave me a better puke bucket, and sent me to the triage nurse.  The nurse listened to my tale of immediate and incredible pain and said “You’ve got kidney stones.” Then the angel of mercy took me immediately to a cubicle and started an IV so she could give me some pain relief! Ok, it took her three sticks and I’ve got some nice bruises – but she still gets a gold star from me!

Unfortunately, the pain relief was over-rated. It took the pain down a (small) notch, but my head was swimming nicely. Soon I had anti-nausea drugs, more pain relief and a couple of other things I don’t remember.  Still had a great deal of pain – but was happy to lay there contemplating my existence – in between teeth chattering chills.  

The doctor finally came in and announced I had a 6mm stone in the urethra, and more in my kidneys. Wonderful. He then announced that people usually couldn’t pass anything over 4-5mm. He said this to my shaking, chattering body. He gave me a handful of prescriptions and the name of a urologist to contact in the next day or so – AND SENT ME HOME!!

By the time we arrived home all the pain relief had worn out and I was in agony again.  I drank more water and took the prescribed medicines, praying for relief. 

Sucky Halloween Mom takes on The Great Pumpkin!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It’s time Halloween and I had a heart to heart talk. 

SUCKY HALLOWEEN MOM (that would be ME): Why do you do this to me every year?  Why do you rob me of time and money with the sole purpose of stuffing my kids on candy I don’t let them have the rest of the year??? Why???

THE GREAT PUMPKIN:  What’s your problem? Are you like the Bah Humbug Scrooge of Halloween? What did I ever do to you???

SHM: Ok, it’s not JUST you! But as soon as you raise your orange head we’re inundated in tinsel, Rudolph’s and long wish lists!

TGP: Let’s get this straight. You hate me because I’m close to Christmas? Gal, you’ve got ISSUES!  And what’s wrong with some candy? You certainly like eating it, by the looks of those love handles!

SHM: and that’s ANOTHER problem! My fat pants are getting tight!

TGP: So you blame a holiday instead of your obsession with fresh bread and cookies? And take it out on your kids?

SHM: NO! They dress up and go trick or treating – I just don’t like it very much! I don’t see the point!

TGP: Well, not everything has a point – and that doesn’t make it wrong. As it happens, however, I DO!  Halloween started as Samhain, a Celtic celebration literally translated “end of summer”.  Folks used to celebrate the harvest and enjoy the festivities before they were confined indoors for months of cold weather! It’s the break between the six months of light, and the six months of darkness!

SHM: and that’s ANOTHER reason not to like you – the DARK!!!

Explore the Shore with Kids – and Dogs!

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Hate seeing those sad puppy eyes when you leave the house for some well-deserved fun and adventure? Take heart! There are a ton of dog-friendly places and activities on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay!

Let’s start with every four-legged friend’s definition of a doggone good time: off leash adventures with other dogs!

                                              Western Shore

Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis offers canine heaven. Leashed dogs are welcome all over the park, including the playgrounds and trails. Two fenced parks offer a safe off-leash play area for small or geriatric dogs that don’t enjoy the occasional rough play of the larger, younger versions. There are benches in shaded corners and two refillable kiddie pools for cooling off. Children younger than 6 are not permitted in the larger park – a very sensible precaution given the speed of these energetic pups.

The best feature of Quiet Waters – an off leash doggie beach! It’s not fenced in, but is isolated and the dogs are having too much fun with each other to plot escape routes. There’s no way you could use a leash safely – at least not with weekend crowds. Dogs hurled back and forth on the sandy beach and raced each other to fetch sticks, balls and toys from the water. Several dogs would join together to retrieve a large branch, while another barked instructions: “Get that end, it’s going to sink!” “Don’t swim that way!” “Over HERE – don’t you SEE me???” HBO has nothing on the doggie beach. Older children joined in the fun – wee ones watched from a safe distance.

The park offers real bathrooms for two-legged visitors, and a hand held outdoor shower to de-sand the dogs and kids. The park costs $6.00 per carload to enter, and is closed every Tuesday. Take your bikes – paved trails cover the large park. Their website is: http://www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/quietwaters/.

Downs Park in Pasadena offers another secluded dog beach, along with playgrounds, trails, handball and basketball courts. Like Quiet Waters, it costs $6.00 per carload to enter and is closed on Tuesdays.

Those Bus Trip Blues

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I'm an independent traveler - give me a map and get out of my way! I like meandering through unfamiliar places, asking the locals for input on where to go, where to stay and where to eat.  Crowds make me nervous – and I avoid tourist traps like the proverbial plague.  I’ve been known to veer off main highways to make my way on unknown back roads – just to avoid sitting in traffic.  I’m also known for marching into kitchens, demanding better food or service. 

So why did I spend last week on a bus trip to Myrtle Beach, surrounded by women who were 20-40 years older than I?  Love. My mom loves traveling with her Red Hat group, and invited me to go with her. I went.  Didn’t even complain when we had to get up at 3am to catch a 6am bus (which finally arrived 2 hours late).

The speeding bus with harried bus driver (he had been stuck behind an accident), turned into where we were waiting, and sped by us without blinking. How he missed a group of 30 well-padded women wearing bright red and purple (and red hats!), jumping up and down amidst enough luggage to dress a small country, is beyond me.  He finally figured out his mistake and returned.

We loaded the luggage into the bus (the bus driver had a bad back) and claimed the seats that would be ours for the week. Mom insisted the “Fun” group sat near the back of the bus (can you tell she was a trouble-maker in school?) so back we trudged – carrying enough food to survive for a week. I couldn’t fit through the aisle with all my packages – but my cousin rescued me before I was overrun by anxious women wearing purple.

We took off to pick up the next group of Red Hatters – and I immediately flashed back to a cab ride in Boston many years ago as the driver alternately sped and slammed on the brakes for non-existent obstacles. I was suddenly grateful we hadn’t had a big breakfast!

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