Mind got creative; body paid the price

Published May 25, 2007

I'm trying to think of something "deep, " an old saying perhaps, to fit my situation, and none comes to mind. But surely somebody somewhere said something like this:

"You can't tell how thirsty a dog is till you give him a dish of water."

Fits me perfectly. I recently found out how "thirsty" I was. And you creative types of South and Central Tampa are to blame.

My ordeal began a few weeks ago. I had missed a flight to see relatives in the Midwest - because of the airline's incompetence, but I won't even go there. The bottom line, I was stuck in Tampa and needed a constructive project to keep my mind off what I could have been doing so the weekend wouldn't be a total loss.

I went shopping.

The stacks of novels junked in my home "office" were in dire need of an orderly home, so finding a bookshelf was my mission.

After hours of store-hopping, I came across a little ditty on sale at Pier 1. It was a cool-looking four-piece bookshelf. The best part was that I could lug the pieces to my car and didn't have to have it delivered.

It was the wrong color, though, a yellowish pine that didn't go with my dark cherry computer hutch and shelves.

That would have been a sure deal-breaker for the old me, in retrospect, an uncreative, easy-way-out woman who would have left that bookshelf on the display floor and never looked back.

But the new me - influenced by tales of ingenuity - thought otherwise.

What would Larry Gagner, that guy in Seminole Heights whose house is a virtual museum of antiques, art and refurbished trinkets, do?

What would the people in all those kitschy thrift shops along and near Kennedy Boulevard and MacDill Avenue do?

What would Purvis Young, the artist who turned salvaged materials into the works of art I recently saw at the Tampa Museum of art, do?

I would buy the bookshelf and paint it, customize it, make it my own.

I bought primer and a gallon of paint, a lovely shade of green slightly darker than sage. I bought paint rollers and trays. I spread out newspaper on my patio and prepared for my accomplishment with a breeze blowing through the screen and a tall glass of lemon tea.

Six back-breaking hours later, I had finished coating the pieces with primer and their first coat of paint and decided a second coat was unnecessary. Rather, I wasn't doing a second coat, necessary or not.

The picture was far different than one of Martha Stewart after finishing a major project in 30 minutes with no sign of perspiration.

I drank countless glasses of tea, lemonade and water to stave off dehydration.

And I was in pain. All over. My lower back ached. Muscles in my thighs felt like knots. My arms pleaded for a hot bath.

Sadly, it took me about five days to fully recover from painting a bookshelf.

As my self-made saying goes, my body had been thirsty, for exercise. I knew I was out of shape, but I had no idea how out of shape until I actually took the time to, well, move.

I've watched people riding exercise bikes at the big Lifestyle Family Fitness in Hyde Park Village. This, usually on my way to Restaurant BT, Chick-fil-A or Royal Palace Thai.

Rommel Velasco, the personal training manager at the gym, forced me to really think about the last time I worked out. Aside from the time this year when I did a few exercises during a training session I never followed up on, I couldn't remember the last time I actually got physical.

"Sitting at a computer, moving your eyes and stroking the keyboard" doesn't count, Velasco pointed out.

Neither does "power shopping." The credit cards do most of the work, he said.

He did mention another way I could be influenced by a South Tampa trend: How about walking along Bayshore Boulevard?