We Are Josh-toberfest



This painting has a crazy story. It was a commission, requested by a buddy in Beer Clug. When he first asked about my taking it on, I turned him down. I said I don’t do portraits (because I don’t). I told him it wouldn’t look anything like him. I tried everything I could to deter his enthusiasm. Nothing worked. Finally, I said I’d give it a shot, but that he shouldn’t expect an actual resemblance. I figured regardless of the outcome, no harm, no foul.


He got the idea from the movie Beerfest. In the film, there’s a German Bierhaus. On the wall of the bierhaus is a portrait of one of the main characters’ ancestors. My buddy wanted this painting, but with himself as the subject. Simple enough request, as he flippin’ loves beer and Beerfest. I took a few reference photos of my buddy and set to work.


Interesting note: while painting this one, I started doing P90X. One of the workouts (“Plyometrics”) features Erik Stolhanske. The portrait in Beerfest is based on Erik’s face. So every time I did that particular workout, I would laugh about the painting. Small world, I suppose.


Anyhoo, by the time I finished, I realized it actually looks a lot like my buddy. (Whether or not he agrees is another matter.) And the naming of the portrait was easy. Mister and I like to mis-sing an Oktoberfest song with the wrong lyrics: “We are Josh-toberfest.”


Because my buddy is super-nice, I’ll probably never know his true feelings about the portrait. But I can honestly say I’m proud of it. I think it turned out just as dorky as can be, and it’s pretty cool to boot.






The other morning, Mister and I were smack-dab in the middle of our P90X workout when I realized that for a particular weight-lifting exercise, I was getting into an Elvis pose. That itty-bitty thought made me giggle, which made the workout a bit easier. (Laughter – it does a body good.)


Later that afternoon, I was standing in a grocery store check-out queue when I spotted a tabloid headline saying something to the effect that Elvis had been murdered. I was checking out the tabloid’s coffin photo of The King when I noticed a gentlemen in line beside me.


His clothes were nice but nondescript. The only interesting thing about his attire was the way his collar was turned up. He was a slight man, his full height barely reaching an inch or so above my shoulder. And he was elderly. But none of that was worth noting. What was worth a second look was the man’s hair: it was a full-on Elvis wig. And that thing wasn’t fancy, no sir. No spendy human hair there. It was made of plastic doll hair, pitch black and a little matted in spots. When I stole a peek at the sideburns, I could see the glue on his cheeks, holding them in place. More than one clerk addressed him by name, so he’s surely a regular. No one said a word about his get-up. Instead, he kept trying to talk football with someone. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and not say I’d watched the weekend’s games. But I didn’t open my pie-hole. I just let the old dude finish his shopping and take his leave.


Sometimes I have odd magnetic days like that. I’ll have something particular dancing around on my brain, and before you know it I’ll have run into that very thought in multiple manifestations out in the world. It’s just something that happens, and if there’s a greater meaning in it, I’ve yet to understand.


As for this week’s Elvis wave, all I can say to the Universe is ThankYou, ThankYouVeryMuch.

P90-X – Check!



Well, I can hardly believe it, but Mister and I wrapped up our 3 full months of P90-X this past weekend. We did it. We actually did it!


In the beginning, I hoped to skinny-down. That didn’t happen, sadly. In fact, I weigh the exact same amount as when I started. If I were to focus intently on this, I’d be pretty bummed. But I don’t focus intently on it, because other benefits were gained. Benefits I hadn’t foreseen. You know, things like feeling stronger. And ease of movement. Increased stamina. Health.


I wish I could convey just how great I feel, physically. I’m amazed. When I went in for a physical recently, the nurse freaked out at how low my pulse was. I told her it was lower than usual because I’d done major cardio that morning. She was still concerned. When I saw my doctor, he didn’t seem worried at all, as he’s known I’ve been on this major exercise train. Finally, I asked just what my pulse had been. He answered: 58. Okay, that is pretty danged low. P90-X, y’all.


I haven’t gotten skinny, but I have gotten toned. My arms and shoulders are about the best they’ve ever been. And though I’m not wearing a smaller size, I am sporting a healthy swagger. And knowing I’m healthier somehow prevents me from judging myself harshly. For reals. When I catch sight of myself in a mirror, I don’t zero-in on this flaw or that. I generally respect what I see. I know I’ve worked hard and I know how very strong my body has become. And respecting myself is such a gift. I certainly didn’t see that one coming. Wow.


So now Mister and I are figuring out how to move forward in some sort of maintenance mode. Both of us actually like exercise (yes, we’re very ill), so we want to continue to take care of ourselves. We don’t have any answers yet, but we’ll get there.


For the truth is, we can do it. We can figure it out. We can follow through with our plan. I mean, come on! We just finished 13 weeks – 91 days – of intense, dedicated exercise. Honestly, I feel like I can do just about anything now. All I have to do is decide.

Too Much



The other day, after P90X-ing in the wee hours, I went for a hike with my buddy. I thought I’d be fine, and that I could handle it. Boy was I wrong.


I had done too much, and my body sort of shut down. Just after the hike, all my joints started aching, as if I had the flu. Then I couldn’t stay awake. Around noon, I realized I might actually fall asleep – mid-step – and so I allowed myself to collapse into a nap. That 40 minutes of sleep didn’t quite undo the morning’s damage, but it sure did help.


If you’re exercising in this crazy heat, please be careful. Hydrate like crazy and don’t overdo it. Trust me. I know of what I speak.

Yoga Mind



Mister and I are still P90-X-ing (halfway through!), and one of the workouts in regular rotation is an hour and a half of yoga. The first 45 minutes bite, I won’t lie. After that, I’m usually just grateful to have survived. I could go into a critique of the danged workout (a jillion downward dogs, y’all), but instead I’d like to tell you of a memory triggered each and every time we’re doing this routine…


In my mind, I go back to the gym at Flo Valley in St. Louis. That’s where I first discovered yoga, taught by the lovely Hildegard Rochman. I can see the dimly lit, cavernous room, filled with wall-to-wall mats and several bendy bodies. Hilde’s sweet voice sashays through my mind and reminds me to protect my lower back during the asanas. I can smell her perfume and see her hand-knitted leg warmers. Her blue eyes scan each body, making sure we’re doing our proper best. And then I smile.


So far, I’ve experienced yoga mind each P90 session. It’s a lovely memory, and I’m grateful it’s filed away in my brain. I loved Hilde then, and I love her now.


And no matter how hard he tries, Tony Horton is no Hildegard Rochman. Word.

P90 What?



Mister and I are in our 4th week of “P90X.” If you’re familiar with this (and you very well may be, as we’re practically the last ones to arrive at this party), then you know the initial period is 90 days of exercise. That’s 90 days, y’all. In a row. For reals.


I’m not going to make any grand overall statements about this program, as I’m committed to the full 90 days and I hardly think 3 weeks qualifies me to assess. But I will tell you this: the first week just about killed me. I was so sore I could barely function. I was constantly tired, and fairly depressed. My appetite lagged and I wasn’t sure how I might possibly complete the 90 days. It was pitiful. I was pitiful.


But then week 2 happened. And I noticed I wasn’t so sore anymore. The intense tiredness started fading. I was still only hungry enough for 2 meals a day, but it was okay, as I began feeling more like myself. The depression packed its bags and took a hike. Week 3 felt even better.


I’m still not crazy about waking up at the booty-crack of dawn to get the day’s workout in, but that’s the way it goes. I’ve even added a hike on a couple of days, and though it’s worn me out, it’s been alright.


I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m actually enjoying this whack-job program. So much exercise has the same effect as happy pills for me, so I can’t complain about that either. And though I’ve only lost a single pound, I feel healthier. That’s a good thing, right?


I’ll try to update my progress after 2 full months. But even if I forget, I’ll let you know how I feel about the whole danged she-bang after I’ve completed the 90 days. Which I will.


It’s funny how once you decide something, it’s as good as done.