Thursday, May 31, 2007

Proud to be a Daddy

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. "
--Elizabeth Stone

My daughter will be three years old in just four and half months! Time has flown by at such a rapid rate. I swear it was just last week that I drove my wife to the hospital (she was a study in calm; I a study in panic). My joys in life have expanded because of my daughter: the sound of her laughter; the way she runs with wild abandon; the way she has of hugging me with her whole being; her words of care and love. (I told her last night: I love you, princess. She responded: I love you too, princess. I suspect my wife was behind this exchange and had been coaching her for weeks to accomplish this...) Everything my daughter does fills me with a thrill and more than not a laugh or two or three.

Each day I celebrate the role I play in my daughter's life as her Isi (father). And each day I have a new and unique perspective on what it means to be a dad. Who and what I am as a father is directly related to the who and what of my daughter. That is no easy task. She is a dynamic, expanding being. As she changes and grows, so must my response to her. It has to. I find I must be nimble to accomplish this. She amazes me with her intelligence and cleverness. It challenges me and I love that.

As you may have guessed, I really like this Isi-thing. I'm not the best at it - not by a long shot and not even in my wildest dreams - but I do try. When I make her laugh, stave her tears or make her feel loved and welcome in this world, I do feel like a good father.

Ok, so I'm scared a lot of the time and I get frustrated as well. But my greatest pleasures come from the moments I share with my family, my wife and daughter. They inspire me. Make me feel alive and whole. Being a father gives me a perspective on living that was missing for most of my life.
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Delight for Only Her

This year I will start my 12th year as a married man. Yep, in June my beautiful wife and I will have been married 11 years. Amazing!

Thank you, my darling, for putting up with me (I know it is often not very easy).

Thank you for being the best wife a man could ask for.

Thank you for being the most awe-inspiring mother to our daughter I can imagine.

Thank you for being who you are, each day.

I wrote this poem for my wife years and years ago, before she was my wife, actually. I figured it was time to take it out, dust it off and show it the light of day once again.

Delight For Only You

Morning throws her golden light toward my lover's eyes;
Twin spheres of beauty who are upon the gentle sky.
And I beheld her beauty, for ecstasy and delight,
And with fanciful calm, peaceful, safe and arrogant,
Fill'd the heart of the obliging smile that she gave to me;
And so I received this fantasy, built from pleasures,
Cast in kindness; feather'd with hope, ever patient.

There with Lust, she danced in light and airy rain;
A fete for my abandon'd heart:
Her voice whose honeyed passion can reclaim
A spirit chain'd with links of pain.
Her eyes, alone in solitude,
Her lips a red that caught the sun, and morning's mist;
Upon her body lay the dew;
There dance, wreath'd in morning's gem,
The weeping of the rising sun,
With words of love calmed my frighten'd soul;
I saw the softest blue heav'n could intend.
In whispers from her flawless lips,
The wonder of a zephyr's laugh;
A wondrous wind that seeps this heart
And leads me down this fated path.

We live with this obsession:
Love us free from waiting death!
Around her perfect eyes, her soul's flawless image,
Like stars within the blackest night,
Living orbs of a lover's delight'd kiss.

To love her seraph's soul - so was I made,
In the breath of her dreams, and pass'd the ghastly moon;
A second self, chaste upon the midnight shade;
Fill'd with teardrops ne'er seen.

In you wonder and magic and calm in corporeal form;
The quiet mystery within the blackest storm.
With azure love that bursts upon my scarlet heart,
My lover's smile is true. Now my love before my eyes appear'd:
Bright, affectionate, just: an angel she seem'd;
Wherein my heart was laid her soul:
My soul did repose upon a silver cloud.

Beneath the whispering winds,
Like trees rock'd by spring's gentle breath;
My heart shall beat measure to her laughter, and delight;
And with its ethereal magic shall masque the shadow of yonder pain,
As midnight cries in the light of the moon.

The moon you now rule, and caress the absent stars,
The power of its eyes dim the halls of heav'n no longer.
Strok'd by the hands of this enamour'd kiss, a love divine;
Build a fair castle, paved with emeralds,
And the roof a frozen forest's call.

Your voice, whose laughter fill the hush'd wind
With everlasting joy,
Kiss'd the clouds, and gave the night its life;
The gentle moon, its yellow brilliance
Pierce the depths of my vanity's deep sorrow,
Whose violence made griefs that need your love.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hobbit Ninja Feet

Vibram Fivefinger Sprints: a new, er, old way to run.

I ordered some Vibram Fivefinger Sprint shoes. Yes, they look a little odd. But we were born barefoot, right? And I have always wanted to be a Hobbit ninja!

The Sprints are basically just a sheath for your feet, including individual toe slots. This allows your toes to spread out, which works to stretches and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving balance, agility, range of motion and speed. According to Vibram, "Strengthening these muscles not only leads to better performance, it can reduce injury and help develop healthier feet."

Originally developed as water/sailing footwear, they have been embraced by the barefoot running community. There is good evidence that the bare foot is still the ideal structure to walk, run, and live on.

That's the hype, anyway. And in reality?

They have no padding to speak of, just a "skin" of Vibram razor-siped soles (Vibram makes 32 million soles annually for more than 1,000 footwear brands including The North Face, Scarpa, Merrell, Timberland, Chaco, Lowa, Asolo, Rockport, Columbia Sportswear, Hi-Tec, Giorgio Armani, Prada Sports, Dolce & Gabbana and Hugo Boss, etc) held on to your feet with a stretch polymide fabric upper. Weighing in at just 5.6 oz each, it really does feel like you have bare feet.

The moment I got them out of the box I put them on. After the initial fumbling with getting big-toe into big-toe-slot and so forth, they were incredibly comfortable! Walking around the office felt strange at first, but I soon forgot I had them on.

They do take some getting used to. I rode my bike about 2.5 miles to try them out for comfort. It was a little odd, riding a bike wearing the Sprints, yet somehow familiar. Then it hit me: it felt like when I was a kid and used to ride my bike in bare feet! What fun! I certainly would not want to wear them on a 50 mile ride, but for my around-town-commuting they were a pleasure.

That same evening I went running in them - just about a quarter of a mile both on and off the paved trail around our subdivision. (Vibram wisely advises people not to hit the trails for a 5K the second you get them strapped to your feet; it takes some time for your feet to adapt to using the "new muscles", and running in them drastically changes the way you hold your body when running.) During the off-pavement run, I could feel the ground - I could even feel the texture of the sand. But nothing hurt. Not even the little rocks and such that I unavoidably stepped on. The Vibram sole does a remarkable job of protecting the feet while still allowing for increased sensitivity.

They do change the way you run. When you run in them your heel basically never touches the ground in any meaningful way; you land on your forefoot, flatten slightly, then launch again off your forefoot, which is a more natural way to run than landing on your heels. At first it felt a little awkward, but then it felt very natural and I got into a rhythm.

I plan on putting the Sprints through test next month when I wear them in a 5K. We'll see how well the hype matches the reality.
So far, I am pretty darn impressed.
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