The Science Nerd

Research and Development

Peeking Out of the PK Box

January 25, 2013

In the past, I have mentioned that I grew up in a home that was religious, but not particularly spiritual.  My father was a Baptist minister (hence the PK in the title – I was a Preacher’s Kid) and everything we did revolved around the church.  When I was very young, the house we lived in was basically in the church parking lot.  Our living room was used for Sunday School classes and people had no hesitation dropping in if my dad wasn’t in the church office.

Jr High Me (and the fam)

My Junior High years were spent in Tacoma, WA where my dad took a job as a fundraiser for the local Seminary.  This meant he preached in a different church every Sunday all while raising money for the school.  If he was speaking in a church close by, we all went with him.  Which meant a new church with new people pretty much every week.  My brother and I hated it.  We would beg to just sit in the car and have our own church.  We promised to sing hymns, read the Bible and even take up an offering – just so we didn’t have to face a new set of kids in a strange Sunday School class.  As a 13 year old this was particularly horrible – Jr High…well, they aren’t always the most friendly group.

This was also the time that we attended Tacoma Baptist Schools, a particularly rigid institution where free thinking was STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.  I actually thrived in the rigid setting because I am great at taking in information and spitting it back out.  Don’t ask me to analyze it or come up with an opinion though, that gives me great stress.

During this time, I remember driving many miles to go see a movie – “Return of the Jedi” I believe it was.  We couldn’t risk being seen by anyone we knew…..movies were a big no-no.

We moved to California when I started High School, and I went to the local public school, but 98% of my friends were from church and I stayed far far away from trouble.

When it came time to choose a college, I received information from schools all over the country.  There was a school in Maine that intrigued me, but  I really wanted to go to UCLA.  My parents just assumed that I would go to The Master’s College, a school in Los Angeles formerly named Los Angeles Baptist College.  And even though it wasn’t my first choice, because of who I was, I didn’t want to make waves or disappoint them so I never said different, and off I went.  It probably suited my personality best, the small school with the code of conduct, discouraging outside the box thinking, but sometimes I wonder how far I could have gone if I went to a place with more opportunities.

This is the box I grew up in.  The religious box, never drifting from what you were taught.  Never questioning, just believing.  Never thinking for yourself, but blindly following what your minister, teachers or parents told you was right.

It took me a long time to even realize there was a box, and even longer still to pop my head out of it.  And still to this day I spend a lot of time in the box…forgetting that I can have my own opinions about things.  I can believe in evolution AND creation.  I don’t have to choose.  i can know that Jesus is real and so is global warming!  I can go to church because I want to, not because it’s required by my parents, or by the school that I chose to attend.

Peeking out of the box is exhilarating and scary…and the feelings change minute by minute.  The one thing I am sure of, and it’s true for everyone, is that you aren’t really living if you are trapped in a box someone else has created for you.  It could be a religious box, not allowing you the freedom to question what you believe because you are afraid that you might change your beliefs.  It could be a gender box.  ”Girls don’t wash the car.” was a frequent comment I heard growing up when I wanted to help with that chore.  It could be a marriage and family box.  You might feel pressured to get married and have kids when you have no desire for that.  (I have friends who are constantly talking about their grown daughter and how “her life would be complete” if she found a man and got married.  It drives me crazy!)  It doesn’t matter what you believe or want or wish for, just make sure it’s yours and not another’s.

I frequently feel saddened because I spent so long in a box and not really living.  

What opportunities did I miss?  There was a time I wanted desperately to be a veterinarian.  I think my choice of college and my fear of challenging the box that was created for me caused me to miss that opportunity.  I loved playing music, but again, my fear of doing anything that would put me out there for people to see caused me to put away my trumpet and give up.

Living with those regrets isn’t living either.  I can’t change the past.  I have to decide from today to really live….taking each minute as a gift and not squandering any more of the precious life I have.  Now, I’m not saying that I have never jumped outside this box.  I have done things that have been at odds with those who wanted me to stay in the box.  I’ve taken chances and done what I wanted to do instead of what I was expected to do.  As I look back, those decisions made (and in most cases continue to make) me very happy.  They were the right decisions.  But unfortunately, I hopped back in the box – never daring to venture out for long (even to give an opinion).  Until now….

That is my quest for the future.  Hopefully there will be many more blog posts about my journey as I climb from the box.  Expect to hear the struggles and joys and hopefully find encouragement to peek out of the box you might be hiding in – the real world is a great place!



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I want to write.  I want to post on this blog, and also on my other blog, Fat2Triathlete, which details my quest to complete an IronMan triathlon.  I have great intentions….but really poor follow through.

I start on a post, get distracted and then never finish it.  I think about things that would make terrific blog posts, but then never get them typed out.

While meeting with a group of fellow bloggers the other day, we were talking about the difficulty in writing consistently and the conversation turned to keeping an editorial calendar.  I knew that some bloggers kept a schedule of things they wanted to post and when they would post them, but it all seemed to “business like” for my blog.  After all, I’m not writing for Better Homes & Gardens, this is just my blog.

However, the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like a really good idea.  It should help keep me organized, give me a goal and a plan, and eliminate some of the “what do I write about” issues that I seem to have.  I’m also working on organizing other areas of my life.

SIDE NOTE: I own a small business, and there are so many things that need to be accomplished every day, it’s easy to let things fall through the cracks.  I was trying to think of ways to organize myself that made sense to me.  There are tons of things out there about organization, but if it isn’t something I can really grab hold of, it’s hard for me to follow through.   And then it hit me – Lesson Plans!  I was a teacher for 8 years and every Friday I created lesson plans for what was coming the next week.  It was required, but it was also very helpful in scheduling and organizing my days.  And I thought, why wouldn’t that work now?  So, starting last  Sunday I now create a TO DO Lesson plan –  schedule out all the things need to get done.  That way, I don’t feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin – I have a plan.  It, so far, has been very freeing – my mind isn’t worried about what has to get done, it’s all written down and waiting for me.  And I have had a very productive week – including getting some little tasks done that before would have been forgotten until it was too late.

Now, back to my blog lesson plan.  The first thing to be done was find an editorial calendar template.  I looked at lots of them and finally settled on a basic monthly calendar.

My next step was to create categories – the areas I’d like to write about.  If you are wondering what I came up with, here they are -

  • Monday – Susie Homemaker – my “mom” posts (I know I’m only mom to two wonderful dalmatians, but I still like to do all those homey things usually associated with moms and why not share them) – recipes, crafts, gardening, etc.
  • Tuesday – Personal Growth – when I started this blog, I wanted a place to record my journey, a journey away from life with my head in the sand and toward a more awakened mentality.  I’ve moved away from writing about my struggles in this area, and am interested in sharing more of this journey.
  • Wednesday – Reviews – this will be the day that I share with my readers my opinions on different things.  I’ll review products, movies, books, any items that I think are worth sharing with you.
  • Thursday – Educational – As I said earlier, I was a teacher for many years and I still do some math and science tutoring because I just love it!  This teaching thing is in my blood and impossible to get away from, so even thought I’m not sure where exactly this one is going, it will most likely be posts about something I’ve learned that I think is valuable.
  • Friday – Spirituality – I grew up in a Baptist ministers home.  There was plenty of religion, but hardly any spirituality.  I grew up believing everything I was taught without questioning or thinking and deciding for myself.  Coming out of that box, finding my own path and discovering what I truly believe is a difficult but important step on my journey and worthy to be discussed here.

I probably won’t write something everyday, heck I’ve had trouble writing something once a month, so don’t expect miracles! I am looking forward to having a plan and a direction.  We shall see where it leads!

As a bonus – I already have three weeks worth of stuff to write about.  See, I knew it was in there…I just needed a good way to get it out.

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It’s a Trust Thing

October 16, 2012

There are many reasons to celebrate.  And there are as many ways to celebrate as there are reasons.  September 15th of this year was a day worth celebrating.  And celebrate we did. We had to work in the morning, but spent the rest of the day just enjoying life.

We started with lunch, and then made an interesting purchase.  We have been talking for a long time about wanting a tandem bike.  We both love riding our bikes, and thought a tandem sounded like great fun for just cruisin’ around at the beach or downtown or wherever.  A few years ago, Gayle even got the frame to a bike with the idea of fixing it up, but we learned pretty quick that the time and money investments would be large.

A few weeks before, we drove by a tandem bike that was for sale….marinated on it for a while, and then decided that it would make the perfect way to celebrate being together, by being together on a bike.

So we bought it!  


Our bicycle built for two

It’s a ’60′s Bicycle Built for Two by Columbia.  After all nothing says I plan on sticking around like a vintage bicycle :)

We went on two short rides that first day, the first just to test drive the bike, and the second when we brought it home.  We had other places to go, but just couldn’t resist a short trip through the neighborhood on our “bicycle built for two”.

Because Gayle is the more confident of the two of us (by far), I almost insisted that she take the front seat.  Riding on the back of a tandem bike is an interesting phenomenon.

There is a lot of trust involved, more than I would have anticipated.  From the back, you can’t see what is directly in front of you.  You have to trust the person in the front seat to avoid obstacles and let you know if bumps are coming.  You also are at the mercy of the driver and how well they communicate turns and other movements.

Both riders need to trust the other, as balance can be a challenge.  Both riders have to work together to balance the bike.  You can’t try to do it all by yourself, because that is the easiest way to tip over – hurting both you and your partner.

Don’t get me wrong – the tandem bike is great fun!  It’s a way for Gayle and I to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy this beautiful area that we live in.  We love it!  It just takes some getting used to.

There are a lot of parallels between riding a tandem bike and life.  When you have a partner, whether it’s a business partner, friend, life partner or other family member, you have to trust that person.    It’s critical to communicate with them so you both are on the same page about where you are going and what is coming up.  And you can’t try to take everything on yourself.  You need to work with the other person to solve problems and deal with things together.  Trying to do it all yourself will cause both of you to crash and burn.

These are issues that I have had problems with in the past.  I am a horrible communicator.  I don’t want to cause waves, so I keep quiet about problems or issues which just makes them worse.  I need to remember that things are better if I communicate early and trust that things will work out.

I’m trying to remind myself of this each time I walk past our tandem bike.  Aside from being great fun and good exercise, I think it’s going to teach me a lot about trust in all areas of life.

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Live consciously and deliberately, with full awareness of what exactly it is you are doing and being.

I read this quote in a blog post today, and it really spoke to me.  It’s something Gayle has been trying to tell me for years, and I think it’s slowly starting to sink into my thick skull.  Actually, that’s not true.  My head gets it, it’s my heart that has been resistant to fully embracing it.

You see, I am an ostrich – through and through.  I stick my head in the sand whenever things get difficult and hope it will all just go away.  And I have lived this way for the past 40 years.  Let me tell you, it’s not the best way to live your life.  It’s not even a good way to live your life.  I can’t believe how much I’ve missed out on….

It scares me to even think about keeping my head out of the sand, but I’m working hard at focusing on the things that I will finally get to see and experience because I’m fully aware.  How much better my life will be and how much I can improve the lives of those around me by noticing them and being fully aware of the impact my actions have on them.

I don’t yet have a concrete plan for living more consciously, but I’m going to start by just being interested and involved in the world around me.  I’m also going to get back to blogging.  It’s impossible to write if I don’t know what’s going on, so hopefully a commitment to writing every day will force me to keep up with life.  I’m also going to get rid of some of those distractions that have allowed me to coast through on autopilot and ignore my thoughts.  I’m turning off the radio when I drive, leaving the TV off when I’m not purposefully watching something and avoiding the fantasies that play in my head that allow me to disconnect from what is truly happening.

We will see how things improve.  I don’t want to go through the next 40 years without really living.


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Pure Adrenaline

April 3, 2012

As you probably know by now, Gayle and I went to ZipQuest yesterday.  ZipQuest is a 2.5 hour zipline adventure through a North Carolina forest.  Our tour began at 1:30, and by 2:15 I was happy to be there.  I did not start out super excited about this trip.  It was something Gayle really wanted to do when she recovered from having major surgery in December and I wanted to be supportive – I really did.

So I stressed and worried and went back and forth about participating in her recovery zip.  For a while, I told myself that if she got enough people to go with her, I could just stand back and watch, holding everyone’s stuff while they went off and flew through the air.  Now that I think about it, that’s what I’ve been doing my entire life – standing back and letting others have fun.  Even when I was little, during recess at school, I would volunteer to be “permanent holder” and hold one end of the jump rope while others jumped.  I was afraid to take a turn.  In college when we would go to Magic Mountain or other amusement parks, I would hold people’s stuff while they rode the roller coasters and had a great time.

Well, not this trip.  About 2 weeks before our scheduled zip day, I made a decision.  Yes, I might be scared, terrified actually,  (Frequently walking down a flight of stairs is frightening to me) but I was going to do this.  I convinced myself that it wasn’t dangerous and just made the choice that I was going to go, participate and have fun, no matter how scared I was.  Celebrating Gayle’s recovery and return to health was more important than a little fear.

And it all worked – until the moment I was strapped to the first zip line and Patrick, one of our guides, told me to go ahead.  I couldn’t let go.  I turned to Patrick and said, “I’m not going anywhere am I?”, meaning “If I let go, I won’t fall straight down to the ground, right?”.  His reply – “Not right now,  you have to let go first.”  So, after a few deep breaths, I did it – I let go.  Here is Gayle’s video of my first ever zip.

Note the look on my face, and the tone of my voice.  I wasn’t having the greatest time.  But, I kept going.  And each one got a little easier.  Stepping off every platform still took a conscious decision and a mental push, but after a while, I was able to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and even the rush of flying through the air.

Here is the video of a later zip.  It’s obvious by the tone in my voice that I am having fun!  And I was!  It was an amazing experience.

On the ride home, there was plenty of time for me to reflect on the day and how it really could change my life if I let it.  The biggest thing I realized was that I wanted to remember that terrifying feeling just before I stepped off the platforms and let the zipline carry me on.  I need to stop equating that feeling with stopping, backing down or giving up.   I want to remember in all situations, that even though I might be scared out of my mind, the important thing is to step out and enjoy the ride.

I would recommend a ZipQuest vacation to anyone!  The staff was friendly, patient, fun – the perfect guides!  I knew they actually cared about us having the best experience we could; they were not just out there punching a clock, waiting for the day to end.

I think our next adventure will either be Rock Climbing and Rappelling in the North Carolina mountains or a zipline course through the Redwoods in California.  Either way, I will be scared, but willing to let go and have fun!

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Stepping off the Ledge

April 2, 2012

Gayle, Mary Martha and I getting ready to zip

Yesterday, Gayle and I and a group of friends went to Fayetteville, NC to ZipQuest.  A few months ago, Gayle had major surgery after being sick for at least 2 months.  The road to recovery was long and difficult.  During recovery, the Geico commercial with Maxwell the pig on a zipline aired frequently.  Then we discovered there was a zipline just 2 hours away.  So, this became Gayle’s recovery goal – to ride the zipline.  And once she was cleared by her doctor for ALL activity, we planned our trip.

ZipQuest is a 2.5 hour eco-adventure outside of Fayetteville.  During your time, you travel on 8 ziplines, traverse 3 suspension bridges and climb 4 spiral staircases over trees, rivers, waterfalls – absolutely beautiful terrain.  The highest zip is 90 feet in the air and while zipping you attain speeds of up to 35 mph.

I must admit that while excited, I was incredibly nervous about it.  The staff at ZipQuest does a great job of easing you into your ride.  The first “practice zip is only about 6 feet off the ground.  You get to practice and get comfortable with how the harness feels, how to brake and where to put your hands, etc.  Then you head up two flights of stairs to the first zipline.  Still not too far off the ground, maybe 20 feet.  The lines get progressively higher and longer.  The second to last zip starts you off at 90 feet above the ground.  Along they way there is a beautiful waterfall, rivers and amazing trees.  We also walked across three suspension bridges.  They were not my favorite – mostly because of the swinging motion and the bouncing from others on the bridge.  Even though we were strapped in the entire time, I sometimes had to force myself to keep going.

Our guides, CT and Patrick were great.  They were funny, willinging to chat and joke with us, and very patient.  On the first zip, Gayle went first, then I was up.  Patrick hooked me to the line, and it was time to go.  Stepping off that stump, trusting that the line would hold and letting go were the most difficult things I have ever done.  Once I was going, it was great fun.  The scenery, feeling a part of the forest, it was awesome!  But that first step was incredibly difficult.  Every time.  Even though I knew, without a doubt, that once I got going I would love it.

The first step is a doozie

I want to remember that feeling – the almost paralyzing fear of stepping off the ledge, then doing it anyway and the exilerating feeling of flying above the trees.  And the sense of accomplishment afterwards.  It helped me realize that I could do anything I set my mind to.  I just need to take that first step.

If you ever get the chance to go to ZipQuest, I highly recommend it.  And even if you are nervous, or scared silly – it’s worth it.  You might be surprised at what you can do.

Head over to Gayle’s blog to read her account and see video and more pictures

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One of my self improvement goals is to find 3 good things that I have done each day.  By coming up with new things each day my hope is to learn more about myself and build up my self worth.  You can read more about why 3 Good Things  here


  1. I’ve been working hard at keeping the house clean daily and not letting it get out of hand.
  2. I have taken 3 minutes off my running pace.
  3. I was able to fit into pants that are 1 size smaller than what I have been wearing.
I know these things aren’t all from the 8th, but they have all happened in the recent past and I am proud of them.


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One of my self improvement goals is to find 3 good things that I have done each day.  By coming up with new things each day my hope is to learn more about myself and build up my self worth.  You can read more about why 3 Good Things  here

  1.  Participated in a productive staff meeting. (Staff meetings at the house can be long and unfocused, since there are many distractions, but this one was short, on task and very productive.)
  2. Figured out how to change to color of the title of my blog.
  3. Ran my fastest two miles yet – well, since the beginning of the year.
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One of my self improvement goals is to find 3 good things that I have done each day.  By coming up with new things each day my hope is to learn more about myself and build up my self worth.  You can read more about why 3 Good Things  here

  1. I revamped this blog (with Gayle’s help) to create something that I am very excited about and that will suit my needs.
  2. This one is not just today, but I’m proud of it so – I have run/walked at least a mile every day in 2012.
  3. Again, not just today – I am trying new things in the kitchen with a good amount of success.
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3 Good Things – Dec 15, 2011

December 15, 2011

One of my self improvement goals is to find 3 good things that I have done each day.  By coming up with new things each day my hope is to learn more about myself and build up my self worth.  You can read more about why 3 Good Things  here

  1.  I got most of the Christmas decorations up
  2.  I made potato soup with minimal help, and it tasted pretty good
  3. Marshall got some quality time out of his house (crate)
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