Thursday, December 26, 2013

The *Fabulous* King and More...

For those of you who don't know, Cody's family has been here for a few weeks spending the Holidays with us- and we just enjoyed a delicious holiday feast yesterday that I think I will be working off for a couple months!

Since they arrived, we have gone on several adventures in the surrounding areas, but the biggest one was our trip down to the Bavarian Alps this past weekend.

Stacy, Lonnie, Madi, and I took off on Friday morning and headed towards two of the most famous castles associated with King Ludwig II; Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. The crowds were way smaller than they were in the Summer, but there were still tour buses parked all over and plenty of people flowing in and out of each castle. Our tour guide for Hohenschwangau was super and I learned some facts from her that I hadn't heard in my previous visits, but our second tour guide was awkward; and since I had visited both castles before, I had a bit of time to day dream and to listen between the lines...

This time while visiting the castles, I started to realize it was maybe a bit odd that Wagner (the famous pianist and composer) spent so much time at Hohenschwangau when Ludwig II was a small boy, only to become the one guest of Neuschwanstein and the motivation for every room in the enormous castle built by King Ludwig once he was older. As the day went on, Madi and I pieced together more and more evidence (the love of swans, the pristine decorating skills, the lack of a wife and kids....) that maybe King Ludwig the II was a bit....well.... fabulous! When we got to Unterammergau that evening, and had finished having fun and stuffing our faces at Gasthaus Stern down the street, Madi and I stayed up reading the only two books we could find in English in our Guest House. Although there were no books about Ludwig II (in English) there was a history of Bavaria and a history of Oberammergau. We didn't find too much interesting information on Ludwig, and instead focused our attention on the Passion Play of Oberammergau that takes place every ten years.

 Apparently, back during the plague, Oberammergau locked up the city and had sentries posted in an attempt to keep "the pest" from striking their city in the form of strangers coming and going. Unfortunately, a local man who had been traveling, managed to come into the village from a mountain passageway and then proceeded to die within two days. A huge number of villagers passed away from the plague within two weeks (I want to say the number was between 60 and 80) and so the people got together and made a promise to God that they would make sacrifices of time and money to honor and thank him for his graciousness for the rest of time, if only their city would be spared from more death. Interestingly enough, there were no more victims of the bubonic plague in their city, so every ten years, the town still gets together and puts on the Passion Play in the Passion Theatre (which has been rebuilt over time and now holds about 5,000 spectators). Unfortunately, the next play takes place in 2020, so we won't be able to watch it, but it was still fun to learn about!

Cody met up with us in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday morning and we spent the day walking through fields and hiking up a mountain in an attempt to go see the Partnach Gorge. We tired out before we got to the top, but not before we had a lovely lunch, took a terrifying cable car ride (damn cable cars!), and rode a horse-drawn carriage back down to the Olympic Stadium. After a quick stroll through the Christmas Market, we went home to rest up for the home-made dinner our Guest House owner had offered. We highly recommend staying with Marianne in Unterammergau if you are ever in the area- she was extremely friendly, helpful, and hospitable!

The next morning we got up and went to another one of Ludwig's castles; the only one he finished and one I had not heard of until this visit to the Alps! This castle, Linderhoff, was absolutely spectacular, inside and out. Dare I say it was even more fabulous than the ones we had toured before? As you can see, each room was covered in gold and velvet; there were even more swans, several peacocks (another of his favorite animals), and some rooms featured several pieces from his small porcelain vase collection... The tour guide at this castle/mansion (another wonderful and informative guide) even mentioned that Ludwig had called off his engagement mere months after it was arranged. The evidence had piled up; our dear, favorite King Ludwig just had to have been a homosexual!
I did manage to google this when I got home, and found some answers ! <p.s. we were right!>
While at the castle, we bought a book all about the reign of Ludwig and came to love him even more; and feel sympathy for how awful he was treated by the men who threw him out of office with manipulated paperwork and lies. (I encourage you to look up his story while bored at work!)

After leaving Linderhoff, we meandered to Ettal where we had another delicious German meal and spent some time at the King's Cloister, where we loaded up on liqueur, wine, gluwein, and beer. We played charades and enjoyed our goodies back at the Guest House and eventually went across the street to The Dorfwirt for dinner- even though we were there a bit late, the owners were stupendous and shared an after-dinner shot of schnapps with us, gave us some schnapps to take home, and even handed out postcards! As any trip should, this one ended with fun, food, and drinks- who knew the Alps could be so entertaining!?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What's Wrong with "Bulky"

I am so ashamed that I haven't updated this blog in a month!

So much has been happening, and I don't want to make any excuses, but I do want to let you know what I've been up to that has kept me from writing any posts.

 First, I am almost finished with my first two college classes since deciding to go back to school. Originally I went back to school with the goal of eventually becoming a Registered Dietician. So much about this goal beckons to me still, BUT the second time-consumer I have been distracted with has me wondering if I actually should get a second degree…
I have finally put my first degree to use and have been teaching FAST here on post for our wonderful Illesheim soldiers for the past three weeks. There is so much that I love about teaching adults, and through this opportunity I have been fortunate enough to be reminded of all the reasons I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I hope that I made a positive change in my students' lives, because they certainly have made a positive change in mine!

Along with the job and school aspect of life, I have been Crossfitting in the evenings now because of my new work schedule; which pretty much makes for full days.
ALSO, I had an awesome visit from my first friend ever and we spent all of last weekend visiting Christmas markets (Nuremberg, Bad Windsheim, and Rothenberg), drinking gluwein, and catching up on about a billion years of lost time! The past month has been absolutely wonderful (minus the time that I was missing the hubs who was in the field training) and has also been a thought-provoking time for me.

Tonight's post is short, though I want to get more into this topic later...

When I started Crossfitting, I jumped on the bandwagon of telling my female friends who were interested in trying it, but scared or intimidated,
"Don't worry about getting huge, all the girls I work out with are super fit, but none of them look manly or anything."
I feel like this "encouragement" is almost built into the Crossfit culture. I see it in pretty much every article that I read about women doing Crossfit. I actually see it in almost every article I read about any kind of working out. And it used to make sense to me. I used to like that distinction.

But you know what I want to know?

What's so wrong with "bulky"?????

I have actually started to get kind of annoyed with all these assertions about how women should not be afraid to lift heavy weights because they won't bulk up. And this is why:


In brief summary: Our bodies have evolved to have the skeletal shape, organ systems, muscle fibers, etc. that we have today because this body design is the best structure (or form) for the functions that we do daily. In other words, no matter how you LOOK, you should be using your legs, arms, stomach, butt, heart, etc. for their intended purposes; eventually you will find functional translates into beautiful!

I want every part of my body to be the best at doing what nature intended it to do. Period. I want to be able to jump high, I want to be able to carry anything and everything, I want to be able to run as long and as fast as may be necessary. I want to squat, lift, hang, pull, push to my body's highest ability.

If I gain muscle and get "bulky" through this process, then AMEN! I love looking in the mirror and seeing more muscle than I could see six months ago. I revel in the ability to flex and see my biceps, delts, and traps. I feel strong and confident when my clothes fit tightly around my shoulders….

(If this is "bulky", please sign me up!)

To all you women out there- when you tap into your body's potential and begin to see the limitless possibilities for your strength, fitness, and overall health, you will not care if you are "bulky" vs "toned". All you will care about is that you are healthier and stronger than you were yesterday. And if you are anything like me, you are looking forward to the day that somebody (meant as either an insult or a compliment) says, 

"Damn, that girl is jacked!"