Nov 152016
 

I recently had the pleasure to read a book of poetry and interview the author, who is local to Portland. I was sent the book by the publisher but I enjoyed the book of poetry so much I wanted to write a post about it and hopefully turn on some readers to it.

Here is an excerpt from my favorite poem in the book:

Beside the Sea

It’s peaceful here beside the sea,

Where waves crash on the sand incessantly.

The sand just sifts and throws them back

To echo in the mist.

 

The ghostly moon throws shadows faintly

Upon the phosphorescent crests,

Silently weaving endless thought

As to and fro it pulls the mind.”

The reason the above poem was my favorite in the book was because it made me immediately imagine the Oregon Coast. I grew up in Seattle and as a kid we spent summer vacations at Rockaway Beach every year. I grew up feeling home whenever we were at the beach. I’d wander the dunes, dip my toes in the thick, wet, soft sand and feel the wind on my skin and just feel content and happy.

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What I loved about the book was that each poem was a different little story and the author was very good at evoking so many different emotions with each poem. What I found as a common theme through most of the poems was love. And I’m a sucker for a good love poem.

Donald Elix is a local author, which interested me further, and I love supporting local people. Here is the link to his book:

Poetry to Challenge the Senses by Donald Elix

Poetry to Challenge the Senses explores life, death, love, solitude, relationships and nature, and their meanings from his perspectives. Elix connects thoughts from his imagination and applies them to the real world, offering an array of insight on subjects like self-discovery and family.

“The book explores various historical places and time periods, in both the past and present, through brief yet thought-provoking verses,” Elix said. “My hope is to spark inspiration in those who are looking to explore life’s meaning and learn and develop from other’s experiences.”

I was happy to interview the author because as a writer myself, I want to know what the process is for other writers. What inspires them? Where do they write? How do they stay focused? Here is that interview:

  1. How do you begin a poem?

    I usually begin a poem by first selecting a title and writing to the title.

  2. When did you realize that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

    I realized that creating was absolutely something I had to do, when I wrote a poem in 30 minutes in an art class to submit in the English class that came next, while in high school. That poem titled “Spring” was published in the national high school poetry book for that year.

  3.  What kind of creative writing routines or rituals do you have?

    I am establishing new creative writing routines and rituals to get back to writing, as I have not done much for awhile. My plan is to disappear to a quiet sport for 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday to allow for creative thoughts to flow as I did several years ago.

  4. What are you reading right now?

    Richest man who ever lived.

  5. What’s the worst advice you’ve heard authors give to other writers? What’s the best advice?

    Your book will sell itself, don’t stress out about it, is the worst advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers. The best advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers is to keep writing, keep publishing, and stay in touch with your readers.

  6. Who inspires you?

    I’m inspired by people who are positive, who work hard and have varied interests.

  7. Love seems to be a common thread in your poetry. Do you find it easier or harder to communicate these emotions in your poetry vs. real life?

    I don’t find it easier or harder to communicate love emotions in my poetry vs. real life, although when face to face it is more inspirational for me to express love than with pen to paper.

  8. I love that you are a local author. Are there particular places in Oregon that bring you the most inspiration?

    The Oregon coast is the place that brings me the most inspiration, although the forest and the mountains are a close second.

  9. One of my favorite poems in your new book is “Escape to Imagination”. What was the inspiration for this poem?

    The inspiration for “escape to imagination” was scenes remembered from my homestate of Ohio and visits to mountain areas in Oregon. Additional inspiration was derived from the need to escape urban areas that I worked in, both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

  10. As a writer I know the habit of starting and stopping something, putting it away, coming back to it, maybe never finishing it. How do you know when a poem is finished? How many half finished poems do you have stashed away?

    Most of my poems were done in one sitting. I may have a half-dozen poems sitting in the file unfinished. They are there mostly because I found I didn’t have a good title. I know a poem is finished when the ideas cease to come to me. I do not stop writing in a sitting until ideas to continue cease to come to me.

I really appreciated the author taking the time to let me interview him and share his process with me and my readers. I’ve read his book several times now, relishing the poems and finding different meaning in the poems each time I read them.

I hope you check out his book!

Jul 252016
 

How did treadmills and weight machines become the gold standard of fitness? Why have some of us turned our backs on the mirrors and gleaming devices of the traditional gym? What is the appeal of the stripped-down, functional approach to fitness that ís currently on the rise? In this captivating narrative, Daniel Kunitz sets out on a journey through history to answer these questions and more.

Lift cover

I was asked to read and review the book LIFT by Daniel Kunitz. The book sounded really interesting to me because I was curious about the changing culture of fitness.

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I remember growing up in the 1980s, my mom was really into jazzercise and aerobics. She was even a teacher for a long time. I used to go to the classes with her (not to participate but to go to the daycare) and I’d watch all these moms doing step aerobics in their leotards with their big hair and your typical 80’s music. 🙂 I think a lot of my readers probably remember that time!

The author goes through the history of exercise–Roman times, event ancient Chinese history. He also discussed his own transformation through exercise.

One morning the author was sick and hungover after a rough night of partying when he had a realization. “It dawned on me that the state of your body isn’t something you either choose to care about or leave be, for your body never just is–it is always either decaying or getting stronger. Not choosing is still a choice. [pg 7]”

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The 70’s happened and “people began to shake off the smoking-drinking-drugging hangover of the previous era in unprecedented numbers by joining in the new fad for jogging. Twenty years later I did the same. Of course, by that time some things had changed. The terminology, for: what was once a mellow jog became running. [pg 8]”

The author then realized that smoking and running didn’t really go well together and he quit smoking.

“Running is monostructural: it improves your endurance but not your strength, balance, explosiveness, or flexibility. It might make you skinny, but it won’t produce muscles. [pg 10]”

I found that interesting and very true. In my own experience I was very much a cardio-junkie. I ran, I did the elliptical, I biked, I swam and did the stairmaster. I LOATHED weight lifting. It was slow, it was boring, I didn’t see the calorie burn I saw while doing cardio. Then I started getting injuries and I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working.

“Over time, as I noticed that even those who showed up each day to the gym didn’t make any visible improvements. I had to wonder if this was due to their perfunctory attitudes or the cause of them. [pg 12]”

How true is that statement?? It is very true for me! Being a gym rat I see the same people at the gym when I go and they all look pretty much the same. There is one guy that I saw on a regular basis and then I took a break from the gym a few weeks before my baby was born, then about 6 weeks off postpartum–I came back to the gym and saw that guy and did a double take. He was HUGE. His muscles had quadrupled! I was shocked. I don’t know what he did but he is the only one that comes to mind that made a very real difference in his body.

It’s easy to go to the gym and get into ruts and do the same thing every time, and your body doesn’t change or improve. The author talks a lot about the “new” crossfit phenomenon and the concept of FUNCTIONAL fitness–which I wholeheartedly agree is the better way to work out.

“I’d never seen anybody make a bicep-curling motion outside of the gym. [pg 13]”

Re-thinking the way we do fitness, the way we lift weights is making changes. I learned that going to the Warrior Room. I became SO much stronger MUCH faster doing functional things like flipping tires, carrying sandbags, swinging kettlebells, etc, than I EVER did lifting weights at the gym.

“So why did weight machines continue to flourish in gyms? Aside from the gleam of technological novelty, they offer the untaught user a way to lift. Properly training with free weights requires some skill, while the Olympic lifts–the snatch and clean and jerk–are highly technical, demanding extensive, long-term coaching to master. It wasn’t until quite recently, with CrossFit, that significant numbers of people came to grasp the importance of skill-based work. [pg 248]”

I admit, I often use the weight machines at gym. When I first started getting into weight lifting I did the machines because I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have the skill set yet. Then having some training sessions with a personal trainer and eventually joining The Warrior Room, I learned those skills and got better at free weights and realized it was more FUN using kettlebells and free weights. No wonder I thought weight lifting was boring–sitting in a machine and going through the motions IS boring!

“By removing skill, machines essentially turn strength training into a low intensity activity: you might look better by using them but you’re not challenging who you are today to become a better version tomorrow. [pg 248]”

I never thought of the weight machines like that, but it makes perfect sense to me. You sure don’t get your heart pumping sitting in a weight machine and passively pushing, not like you do with dramatic movements like kettlebell swings!

“But what’s the point? To what end do we train and eat right and get enough sleep and learn new physical techniques and then relax by watching other people doing these things? [pg 39]”

It was really interesting reading about the history of exercise and weight lifting.

“Weightlifting refers specifically to the sport of shifting loads from the ground to overhead. Although it was included in the first Olympics in 1896 as a field event, it was excluded from the 1900, 1908, and 1912 games. It returned as its own event at the 1920 Olympics and over the course of that decade evolved into something like the sport we know today. Weightlifting was codified in 1928 as three lifts: the snatch (pulling the bar in a single motion from the ground to overheard), the clean and press, and the clean and jerk (cleaning means hoisting the bar to the shoulders, where the athlete can either press it overheard or jerk it, using the leg to provide momentum). [pg 163]”

This book is perfect for the reader that likes history and is interested in reading about the evolution of fitness. It was fascinating reading about the different trends and how things changed–and how ideas and values changed.

I personally would have liked more personal anecdotes from the author’s journey from unhealthy to fit, because what he did share was interesting and I could relate to a lot of it. The book felt more history-heavy than personal. I think there could have been more of a balance between the two. If you’d like to read this book, check it out here:

HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

Happy reading!