To paraphrase a favorite middle school movie of mine, "I have no words? This has never happened to me before. Words are my life."  It has been rare in my life that anything would make me speechless - anger, excitement, boredom. Words would always come. Easily and plentifully, in my case.  But there are times when an emotion is too much for words.

Only when my husband and I experienced the simultaneous birth/loss of our stillborn daughter five years ago did I truly understand what speechlessness feels like. What staring into nothingness feels like.  What it's like to truly not have an answer for "how are you." Because, there's just nothing. You're empty. There aren't words, so you just sit there with your mouth weirdly hot and dry and stare at your fingernails while other people's words bounce off your ears and get absorbed by the carpet.

Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence always comes to mind. Hello, Darkness, my old friend.

I like to think that in five years, I've changed a little and matured a lot. I've actually been speechless many times since that experience.  Maybe I've learned to be more introspective, maybe I've learned that God speaks in the silence. Maybe I now know that it's ok to just sit and be blank. Through the current circumstances of my life, I find myself rehashing these feelings five years later, dwelling on the memories, trying to sort out right from wrong, peace from anger, acceptance from bitter resolve. 

My wise father-in-law has put a name on these times of confusion and wandering for me: being 'in the desert'. Of course, God was with Israel in the desert, watching them, caring for them every step of the way, but it was still hot, dry, and itchy. You learn a lot in the desert, but man... it sucks.

Wordlessness. Ironic to use the written word to describe the experience. But even in this attempt, I'm explaining around it.  Because the only thing to me that would sum it up would be blackness. Darkness. Emptiness. A waiting and longing for what isn't here and won't return.

At my daughter's funeral (a healing time for a group of families hosted by an organization called Share of Lancaster), one of the pastors closed the ceremony by praying in Spanish. Now, I had a good eight years of Spanish in school, but I could barely understand a single word. Strangely, that was the most touching moment of the service for me. That was the only moment I felt God reaching into my blank heart. The pastor was softly weeping and saying words I couldn't understand. For me, it was like experiencing Romans 8:26-27: "The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

Groanings too deep for words. Yes. That's it. That's what the desert is like.


kelley rose, kelley rows

Two friends of mine were discussing my favorite exercise, and one commented, "Kelley rows." The other, having heard my name, Kelley Rose, asked, "What about her?"


I feel like I need to work on the delivery of that.  Maybe it's better verbally.  I also think perhaps it needs a little drum roll afterwards. Bah-duh-TSS. Yes, much better.

I like rowing.  Indoor rowing on the C2 rowers at the Y.  I started rowing at the Lancaster Family YMCA (a place I and my children love) about five years ago.  I've been hooked ever since.  Fun fact: one time, I competed at Lanco Field House in a rowing competition and I placed first (among the ladies) and won $100 and a t-shirt.  Does that make me a professional?  I think so, yes.  Their rowers are in-cred-i-ble.  Real water tanks.  (I think it was these.)

Indoor rowing works the entire body, and personally, does a wonder for my back.  I had back surgery for scoliosis as a kid, so I'm prone to backaches.  Rowing strengthens my muscles back there and somehow holds everything in place better.  It also works the legs, arms, and core (which I guess includes the aforementioned back muscles).

I rowed as long as I could when I was pregnant.  Somewhere around 25 weeks, it became too uncomfortable to hunch over.  Funny story, though, just when I was nearing the point where my Cam-Bam belly was too large, a new trainer started at the Y.  He watched me rowing from behind, I guess, then came up to give some helpful advice that I was arching my back and not leaning far enough forward.  #awkward when I sat up.

Strangely enough, that didn't cure him from offering unsolicited advice to me, because he's offered "assistance" at least two times since then.  I need to work on my blank stare.  Although, he's not alone.  Too many men at the gym try to talk to women and offer their "help."  I should wear a shirt that says "go away" because apparently my headphones, lack of eye contact, and Doctor Who tanks aren't enough of a signal that I'm not there to socialize.

My addiction to rowing made its way into The Senator's Youngest Daughter, although my protagonist Brenna is lucky enough to be able to row for real... like on water, not in a gym.  At least for a while (**spoilers**, said like River Song).

Working out for me, and for Brenna as a matter of fact, is about more than looking good or feeling good, or societal pressure or anything else.  It's about being ready to do the best you can do at whatever is asked of you. For Brenna, that might mean hand-to-hand combat.

For me, that means taking off at a moment's notice to grab a small child on a runaway bike, chasing down a slightly wild puppy, lifting two children at once because "mah legs aw tired," or helping my husband carry large and heavy items around our house because the urge to clean or organize has struck him.  So following the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Rowing works for me!