7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 179)

July 6, 2012 | 36 comments

— 1 —

I feel like I’m living in another dimension, or parallel universe (perhaps those well-versed in sci-fi literature can help me come up with the right analogy here). This whole holiday-in-the-middle-of-the-week thing was awesome, but it completely threw me off. Normally I know it’s time to type up my Quick Takes post not so much by looking at the calendar, but by the feel of the week grinding me down. When the chaos gets to the point that my will to live is just about gone, that means it’s Thursday, which means it must be time to prepare the next day’s 7 Quick Takes post! I’m not used to putting this together fresh from a day of relaxation and fun.

As great as it is, it’s surprisingly disorienting to have a weekend coming up right after a day off. Thus, I have come up with a solution: Henceforth, all Wednesdays will be holidays. That way we can all get used to it, and I’ll no longer be thrown off the next time we have a free day in the middle of the week. Sound good?

— 2 —

My husband has always maintained that he is not a runner. After my shocking foray into the world of moving my feet quickly in a forward motion I kept trying to get him to try it too, but he adamantly declined, citing shin splints and various other maladies that result every time he runs for any length of time. Then he read Born to Run (or, rather, listened to me talk about it for so many days on end that it was the equivalent of having read it himself) and decided to try out some minimalist running shoes. He picked up a pair of Skeletoes at Academy, and went for a run. His first time out, he was able to run triple the distance that he ever had before, and had no pain.

Earlier this week I finally got my own pair. Long story short: In my old shoes, which were typical running shoes, I was never able to run more than about 1/3 of a mile without stopping. The first time I headed out in my Skeletoes, I was able to run more than a mile before I needed to rest. I had no pain, and was even able to ditch the sidewalk and utilize the grassy medians and open areas in our neighborhood — something I couldn’t do before since I didn’t have enough control to maintain my balance.

[Hopefully it goes without saying that I have no relationship with Skeletoes and was not asked to plug their product. If anything, sports equipment companies want to pay people like me not to associate ourselves with them.]

— 3 —

Allow me to wax philosophical for a moment about why my husband and I can suddenly run so much better than when we wear our nice sports shoes. My theory is that it comes down to better optimization: You can feel what’s going on with your feet so much more clearly in minimalist shoes, so you naturally make adjustments to your form. For example, the first moments I started running in my Skeletoes, I landed on my heels. The impact jarred my entire body, sending a blow that radiated from my spine all the way to my skull. So I adjusted my movements so that I’d land on the balls of my feet, and my calf muscles went into overdrive to soften the impact my landings had on the rest of my body. I was suddenly acutely aware of which motions hurt my body and which didn’t.

I keep thinking of ballerinas: Ballet is a precise art, one which requires that you be light on your feet. Imagine a ballerina trying to glide through the air and land gracefully on her toes in a pair of heavy-duty Nikes. That’d be tough. Ballet shoes are light and don’t have a lot of padding, which helps the dancers move delicately with precision. I’ve found the same with minimalist running shoes: By allowing you to feel precisely how your feet are impacting the ground, they let you control your movements much more finely.

— 4 —

On a somewhat related note, quite a few folks have emailed me to ask about this diet and exercise stuff that I did that helped me get healthy last year. Friends in person have been even more adamant. More than once I’ve heard comments like, “You’ve lost so much weight! And yet I know you to be so lazy and gluttonous! Tell me your secrets, o slothful one!” (I’m paraphrasing…but that really does capture the gist of it). So I’m using some down time I’ve had with that other project to put together a short document that summarizes every single thing I learned that helped me. I’m really excited about it, since I think it might help others to summarize all the things that took me years to learn the hard way. It’ll take me a while longer to get it all written up, but I should be done within the next few months.

— 5 —

I’ve been watching the love song linkup over at Hallie’s place with some mix of confusion and awe. First of all, it makes me realize that my husband and I don’t have a song that’s “our song.” We didn’t dance at our wedding and have somewhat different tastes in music (though we do both like Suckerpunch by Dan Lord’s band Pain — perhaps a contender?) Also, I don’t even know if we’d know how to go about choosing a song. How do other couples do this? I guess you engage in quantitative research to get a list of songs based on popularity and average user reviews, then get out an Excel spreadsheet to stack-rank them according to how well they capture salient aspects of your relationship? Hmm. We’ll have to try this.

Anyway, the other thing I noticed about the linkup was how much more classy/holy/hip everyone else’s choices were. If I had participated, it would have been all Backstreet Boys, Clay Aiken, and *NSYNC. (Alas, the only thing more embarrassing than liking candy-pop boy band music is liking outdated candy-pop boy band music. What has become of me when I’M NOT EVEN HIP ENOUGH TO BE A JUSTIN BIEBER FAN?!?!) And on that note, here would be my top choice for the love song linkup, from my favorite episode of Hannah Montana:

(It takes a minute to get to the song, but you don’t want to skip ANY of the leadup because then you won’t understand the full significance of it.)

— 6 —

You may have notice me mentioning in that last take that I am not only familiar with Hannah Montana, but indeed have a favorite episode. The astute reader may have put this together with the fact that my oldest girl is only five years old, and wondered what on earth is going on in the Fulwiler house. I assure you it’s far less interesting than me being a Miley Cyrus stalker. When our Kidsave child lived with us in 2009, she basically saw Hannah Montana as the crowning achievement of America, and promptly set out to watch every single episode during her time in the United States of Miley Cyrus. I watched a lot of them with her, ONLY out of host parent duties, and not AT ALL because I had to know what was going to happen with Miley and Jake.

Let’s change the subject now! So the Kidsave Summer Miracles children for the 2012 program are now in the U.S.! If you would like to meet these great kids who are in need of homes, check out this page to find out if there are any events going on in your area! (I believe this year’s programs are in D.C., Iowa, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.)

— 7 —

A high school friend is coming over for dinner tonight. I just got back from the store, because I’d forgotten one of the key ingredients to the recipe. Now I have lost the recipe card, and can’t find a similar version online. I have no idea how to make the food objects in front of me come together to form something edible. It also now occurs to me that it might have been a nice touch to have a dessert. Or a side dish.

Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as an anti-charism. I am so inept at cooking, and it stresses me out so much, that the natural world alone cannot explain it. In other areas of life I am a semi-functional human being, yet when it comes to preparing food, especially for guests, I suddenly devolve into simian levels of intelligence and ability. Anyway, theologians may want to take note of this important new term: Anticharism. As in: “When she started crying because she didn’t know that you were supposed to boil the water before putting in the pasta, I knew she had the anticharism of cooking.”



  1. Mary

    Song: “It Had To Be You”
    Anticharism: (great word!) Entertaining period.
    Wednesdays off – great idea!
    And now husband and I are going to listen to HM. 🙂

  2. Rhonda @ A Naptime Novelist

    I’m of two minds about the “minimalist” running shoes. One mind thinks that extra padding = less shin splints. The other mind is open to what you say. I’m glad to read your positive review. (LOL at the anti-endorsement comment.)

  3. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    I think you could describe your disorientation without reference to scifi (alas!) by saying you experienced time-travel by cultural fiat. Think of it as the logical result of deciding everything is culturally constructed.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Oh. Umm. That’s waaaaaay too deep for me, Leah. 😉

  4. Sarah @ Basic Ingredients

    Your charism is making us laugh and that is so wonderful! Thanks for the 7 Quick takes, I really enjoyed them again!

  5. nancyo

    I am so glad that you are writing about your diet (and exercise) – I’ve had so many questions and look forward to reading all about it.

  6. Hevel

    I’m glad you like your Skeletoes! I have Vibrams, and they took some getting used to at first. Many people are recommending Skeletoes now, so I think that’s my next running adventure!

  7. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    Yah — my husband’s favorite song would be an aria from Aida. But that’s okay, because he doesn’t dance. Well, to the Beach Boys, which I only discovered 18 years into our marriage (and that’s a good thing, too!)

  8. Wendy

    A very good friend of mine has about 6-8 main dish meals that she rotates for company as she is not a cooker of food. These are some of our favorite meals and we go there for the people anyway, not so much the food. Fellowship is the name.
    Think about sharing duties. If you invite someone over and they ask “what can I bring” tell them! Bread, salad, something to go with fried chicken….you get the picture. I am always in charge of dessert because that is one of the things I am good at.
    We all can’t be the end all -be all in every catagory. I, for one, can’t sing like the above mentioned friend. I also am not very good at math beyond fractions. But I can organize the snot out of anything! And I love to cook!

  9. Laura

    These were all classic! My son, who is only 11, wants a pair of those shoes. I suggested he wait until his feet stopped growing to spend his money! Thanks for hosting.

  10. Barbara

    We danced to “You’re So Cool” by Hans Zimmer because my husband wanted to and I did like the song. Now I associate it with us, so I love it. I was more of the “Pop Culture Song”, but now so happy we have an instrumental as “our song”. If I had to choose one today, it would be Jason Mraz “Lucky”. I adore that song. The End.

  11. Colleen

    That’s ok Jen, my two current favorite songs are by the boy band One Direction. Oh the shame!

  12. elizabethe

    I LOVE Nsync and Backstreet Boys. So there. My husband’s taste is a little more refined. Our song is Dance Me to the End of Love by Madeleine Peyroux.

    I’m glad I don’t run. I will never be able to wear skeletoes even though I am convinced of the whole minimalist running thing. For the first 20 years of my life, I refused to wear shoes that would show my toes. No clue why.

    I do aerobics inside (when I am not 8 months pregnant) in bare feet (and pajamas, but that’s a different story). Much better than any kind of high performance shoes.

  13. Christina

    If anyone is hesitant on minimalist shoes, don’t be! They are as awesome as everyone says, I promise!

    I too switched to minimalist and all my pain went away. One heel strike and you know you’re doing something wrong. Not only can I run faster, longer and with no pain but I actually ENJOY running now. Crazy talk I know. 🙂

  14. Becky

    Yes there is such a thing as an anti-charism, and I am convinced that the point is to help direct you to your own real charism. Two cases, one real one from fiction. The theoritical physicist Pauli was so bad at lab work that even friends would not allow him in the lab when they were working.

    In a fantasy book “The Secret of the Sixth Magic” there is a magician who is so bad at working spells he is much worse than a non magician. Turns out (spoiler alert!) that his charism is developing the laws that govern magic in that realm so that when an evil magician tries to,take over the world this guy can change the laws on him.

    So the upshot of this is: don’t cook, write!

  15. Contra

    I always wonder when people buy the minimalist running shoes, why not just run barefoot and save the money? Then I think about glass, dog poo, scorpions, etc. And I remembered that that’s why I started wearing shoes again.
    Thanks for starting the Seven Quick Takes and hosting it every week!

  16. Christie Martin @ Garden of Holiness

    I have been hearing stories of African athletes being unable to run in running shoes, of Juan Diego running barefooted and effortlessly, and have always wondered if these new Skele-Toes would work. I think I may invest in a pair.

  17. Steph

    Um I had the exact same idea about making every Wednesday a day off. It’s perfect. Work two days. Get a day off. Work two more days. Get two days off. People need to listen to us.

    • Mary


  18. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I think you should have a vote on your blog. We can choose a song for you!

    Also, thanks for replying about being a writer. Made my day 🙂 Do you have any posts that talk about how you got started/got your big break?


  19. Dymphna @ the Well

    I’m going to have to get up a lot earlier on Fridays (or perhaps stay up later on Thursdays) to be able to be something less than 70-something on the 7 Quick Takes list!!

    I’m glad to read your review of the “toe-shoes” as I call them. I wonder if they would help my bunion-and-heel-spur-ridden feet…

  20. ceciliamaria

    My mom and sister took a class in Good Form Running, which teaches you to land on the ball of your foot. Sounds like the minimalist shoes helped you come to that conclusion on your own! My mom’s first half-marathon was pre-Good Form and she barely made it. Every run that she’s done post-Good Form (a couple of half-marathons, a marathon, a couple of 25ks) have been injury free!

    And while dancers need to feel the floor, being light on their feet is an illusion. They are able to move quickly and gracefully because they are grounded into the floor, which is all the more reason to want to feel the floor.

    Happy Running!!

  21. Elizabeth

    Those skeletoes look very interesting…I have always gotten shin splints when I tried to run (I have done a half marathon race walking)…I was thinking of running in a little ol’ 5 K in September. Maybe I’ll try them out : ) I love the anticharism concept! made me lol.

  22. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    I had a hard time with the Wednesday off… it made Thursday seem like a Monday because DH had to go back to work. But now that you mention it… it is kind of nice to have two days on, one off, two days on, 2 off!

    DH and I don’t have a love song either… so I’ve shied away from Hallie’s Link Up! We did choose “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire as a Wedding Song, but not sure if that’s really a love song. I’m with you on BSB, *NSYNC and Clay Aiken… there is a reason I have a BSB Pandora Station!

    You make me want to try the Skeletoes now!

  23. Lisa Schmidt

    My neighbors runs barefoot. With his dog by his side. He’s crazy. 🙂

  24. Sheila @ Seasoned Joy

    I wonder if shoes like that would help me be able to run (currently I can’t go more than a step or two without enormous pain.) And then I wonder if my desire to be healthier is stronger than my desire to not wear those shoes and face the ridicule of my family at how ridiculous I’m sure to look.

    So far the fear of ridicule has won.

  25. Jessica Snell

    Oh man, middle-of-the-week holidays always throw me off (so much so, that in typing that right now, I just wrote “middle-of-the-DAY holidays” and had to go back and correct myself). The holiday itself is great, but it’s so hard to keep the rest of the week from sucking, due to internal discombobulation.

  26. Lindsay @ Lindsay Loves

    I don’t know if you typically read all the posts that link up here, but I’d bet dollars to donuts you read your comments. I wanted to warn you that Halloween will also fall on a Wednesday, and Christmas will be on a Tuesday. Brace yourself, and blame Leap Day for throwing us all off.

  27. Kendra @ The Nerdy Wife

    It’s ok to not have songs that are “your” songs. We don’t either, mostly because my husband only listens to a very selective genre of music (1990s, 2000s alternative rock). I guarantee he doesn’t remember our first dance song at our wedding!

  28. CMerie

    #7 made me laugh! My anticharism must be homemaking in general. I can clean, I can organize, but what good are those things when I can’t cook (and don’t like to) and like you freeze up whenever guests come over. When we had our house blessed we asked the priest to stay for dinner and I planned on serving ham. Fool-proof, right? Except it didn’t get cooked all the way and we ended up eating cold ham and chunky mashed potatoes. Classy. Same thing with laundry. I think the clothes actually come out dirtier then when I put them in the washer. So when people say, it’s ok, just do the basics: food and clothes, I’m sunk. You mean we can’t live on freshly scrubbed toilets and organized closets? Anticharism. Yep that’s me.

  29. Ashley Anderson @ The Narrative Heiress

    My husband wants shoes similar to what you pictured and praised above. While I trust your opinion of their effectiveness and am interested as a former runner, I will be steering my husband clear of your wise review of the product. Call me crazy, but looking at those things drives me crazy—nails on the chalkboard, other pet peeves I can’t think of right now, crazy. Yes, I’m that superficial. I know there are others reading this who aren’t quite convinced to slip on these toe shoes, and like me, they would happily sacrifice a superior method to running for the sake of vanity. Yes, anyone?

  30. Erin

    I used to be just as overwhelmed in the kitchen. I would like to suggest to you that you start watching Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” on the Food Network, and pick up a copy of Cooking for Geeks. It will help you decipher the mysterious world of food and cooking. And it will happen in bite-size pieces that will make it less stressful. And if you commit to trying a new recipe or technique every week, or every two weeks, next thing you know, you’ll find yourself getting creative in the kitchen when you lose your recipe card.

  31. Sr Anne

    I’m with Erin on the cooking thing. Cooking is SCIENCE! You LIKE science!!! (And Alton Brown gives you all the science stuff. Plus jokes.)

  32. Ceci

    Oh no! As much as I love me some super nerd, Alton Brown recipes send me into a panic. And I’m a pretty proficient cook+baker. Unless you are the type of person that likes to do complex chemical experiments to “relax”, do not start with AB. His recipes are geared more towards cooks that already have certain go-to recipes (pizza dough, roasted turkey, choc.chip cookies) that they aren’t as satisfied with….AB then gives a master class in the “perfect” version of that recipe. “How to Cook Everything.” by Mark Bittman is a great cookbook, as are any by Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten (or…cringe….the Pioneer Woman.). They all have recipes that are straightforward, well executed, and many are geared towards family style meals or serving for a group/party.

  33. Valerie

    I can’t wait to read your write up about your healthy lifestyle change! I am experiencing the highs and lows and I know that I need to cut out sugar, and maybe gluten. Thanks in advance for sharing with us all!

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