A Girl in My Spin Class

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Yesterday, during the cool down portion of spin class, right before we hopped off the bikes and stretched, our instructor Larry dimmed the lights, played Hillsong’s Forever Reign, and told us to count our blessings and say a prayer for Leanne, our friend and fellow spinner who was diagnosed with breast cancer a while back. Same way we’ve ended class for months. Some nights, it’s a silent prayer during cool down. Other times, we circle up, hold hands, and take a giant selfie that Larry posts on Facebook with a Team Leanne hashtag letting her know we’re standing in the gap on her behalf.

I’m scheduled for spin tonight but I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go because I don’t know how we’ll end class. No prayer circle. No giant selfie to post on Facebook. Leanne’s battle with breast cancer ended last night.

Leanne was more than just a girl in my spin class, although that would have been enough. Try coming into class with the intent of barely breaking a sweat because you aren’t really “feeling it” and ending up on a bike next to Leanne. There’s no halfway working out when you’re working out next to a woman who despite having undergone cancer treatments a few days earlier is sitting with a big “hello there” grin on her face ready to punish the pedals. There are no excuses not to give it your all and no reasons to wallow in self pity when you’re watching a woman engaged in the literal fight of her life workout with the fierceness of a warrior. I’ve burnt more calories than I ever intended and made my muscles sorer than I could’ve ever imagined all because there was this “no excuses, no quitting” girl seated on the spin bike next to mine.

Leanne was more than a girl in my spin class; she was my friend. She was a loving wife doting on her Darrel, an adoring mother to seventeen year old Sarah Beth her almost spitting image, and coach to over a dozen Cheatham cheerleaders teaching routines, giving advice and becoming more like a second mother than coach. She was a motivator gently pushing all that knew her to be better, kinder, stronger. She was an inspiration encouraging us to love more, laugh more and live more. She was an example of determination despite the odds, courage despite the circumstances and faith despite even the worst news. She was fun loving with infectious laughter, goofy picture poses and gorgeous smile. Her life impacted many and we are forever better for having known her.

I think I will go to spin tonight. When the lights are dimmed during the cool down song and we are instructed to count our blessings, I will count having known Leanne as one of my greatest. That’s how class will end from now on.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Time Changes Things?

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Recently,  I came across the Andy Warhol quote “They say time changes things but you actually have to change them yourself”. Boy, that Andy sure knew what he was talking about!

Don’t get me wrong.  I know time changes things and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. Every morning in the bathroom mirror, that point is reiterated to me by fine lines developing around the corners of my eye, tiny creases popping up around my lips and little witches hairs growing from my chin. Shamefully,  I admit I’ve now lived long enough to grow chin hair and one day will be too blind to pluck it myself. If you don’t have chin hair yet, ladies, just wait. You will. Nature will take its course even on the best of us. No matter how much synthetic snake venom infused über expensive eye cream I use, and I cake that crap on, eventually, I will have full-blown crow’s-feet. Time and gravity at some point will cause things to shift so far south that no amount of money or help from the world’s best plastic surgeons will be able to pull that mess up  where it was pre-shift. Depressed yet? Don’t be. I started with the bad news, news you already knew unless you are completely delusional and think that your $150 a jar night cream will stop the effects of time indefinitely.

Good news is that while time changes a lot of things,  it doesn’t change all things. If we don’t put forth effort in certain areas, even time won’t change us but if we are willing to work on ourselves, we can change for the better. It may not be easy but it is doable. I know from experience. Sometimes, I forget this because it feels like I’m a jacked up truck mired down in a mud bog spinning my all terrain tires. To remind myself, I compared a picture from Halloween 2010 to Halloween just a few days ago. Goodness gracious, I couldn’t believe the change I saw. I had lost 75 pounds in that time period but more than that, I had changed the way I viewed food, diet and exercise. I had changed my mind, me.

That change didn’t come just because time passed. That change came because I did the work making gradual changes over the past five years that added up to a really big difference.  Little by little, the changes that seemed excruciatingly hard to make in the beginning became second nature. First thing, I cut out Cokes.  I’m from the South. Coke includes, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, really anything that fizzes when you pour it.  Next, I cut out fast food.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love McDonald’s fries and Sonic’s Onion Rings and will indulge in their deep-fried goodness on occasion just not every day. After removing several unhealthy habits, I began to add healthier stuff, exercise to my daily routine like spin and circuit training and hippie granola stuff to my diet like chia seeds and super greens. When I added chia seeds to my list of pantry staples and started making the occasional trip to Whole Foods, my mother was afraid I had turned into a flower child and would soon quit shaving my armpits. No fear of that, I don’t want to be mistaken for a Sasquatch even if it is No Shave November.

Moral of the story: I changed myself.  Time didn’t have a darn thing to do with it.

Ephesians 4:23-24 Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.