Tuesday, December 29, 2009
(Image copyright L Wilson, 2009)
I randomly came across this article on msnbc.com. It describes "innumeracy" or a lack of knowledge of basic mathematics. The author claims this is a primary reason of the recent economic troubles...people honestly not understanding the adjustable rate mortgage or the pitfalls of having 30% APR on a credit card.
I'm not writing to debate the causes of America's economic troubles. Nor am I writing to discuss whether Americans are mathematically knowledgeable as a whole.
It was the comment section at the end that truly sparked my interest.
As with many other online news sources, people can leave comments that are basically left to self-moderation (save for threatening or "inappropriate" language). This almost always leads to a debate (or argument) between several readers. The debate very frequently veers from the topic of the article, turning instead into personal attacks.
This was where a red flag was raised, at least in my eyes.
The "Us Versus Them" mentality.
"We" can do basic math and can't believe "They" can't even calculate a tip.
"We" aren't that good at math, but "They" aren't teaching it right.
"We" know what's best - "They" are "big stupid lumbering morons".
"We" may be ignorant but could still kick "Their" butts.
Get the idea?
We are all afraid.
We are all powerful.
We are all ignorant, some in mathematics, some in other areas.
We are all wiser than we think we are.
Every single member of "Them" is in some way an "Us".
It would be far more beneficial to look for how we are all, well, US then trying to fight THEM. Celebrate differences, that we aren't all identical (how boring!), that we have issues to debate and explore, that we have such a broad range of life to recognize in other humans, animals, stones, etc. Never forget, though, that we are all in this together.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I went last night with my husband to see Avatar. We generally aren't movie go-ers (though the fact that both children now sit through a whole one may change that) and I am not a typical sci-fi person. However, we were kid-free for a night (thanks grandma!), and we'd seen a preview for the 3D version of Avatar at another movie and knew it had to be on our list of to-do's.
(Image credit here)
I simply cannot express my amazement.
It is sticking with me like very few others do. Not only is it a beautiful movie, as my husband expressed, with fanciful plants and worlds & graceful movements, but the message(s) are awakening something within me.
I dreamed in Pandora last night. I worked out this morning imagining running through the beautiful forests. It may be a bit odd, but it is working.
For those who have not seen the movie - first, I highly recommend that you do. While I cannot promise you'll like it (as we all have different tastes) - you may find a message in it that will speak to you or, at the very least, be treated to a sensory feast. Second, I will try to not throw in any spoilers here.
I see you. The Navi use this phrase alongside their beliefs in a pervasive energy, one that connects them to all living beings and their ancestors. Similar to "Namaste", it is a combination of words that is running through my mind.
I see you.
Do you see me?
Take a breath, suspend beliefs for one moment, and see me...and you...and the light energy radiating from your computer screen in front of you...and the breeze out the window, gentle or fierce, carrying the breath of one you may never meet and those your love who have long since passed. See that we are one. That a frown towards a fellow human traveller is a stomp on our own heart, that a careless waste of energy today is a deliberate pull of energy from our grandchildren, that a simple kind word in the morning can spread through many to save a life in the evening.
Take a breath, and realize that you are only one person. See that is all you are - and that is everything. We cannot take on the pain of everyone, of our whole being, but we can take responsibility for it. Awaken to what is.
I, like many others, are forgoing New Year's resolutions in the recognition that they rarely come to fruition. However, there is an obvious swirl in the energy pool as thoughts swim towards change, possibility, fresh starts, awakening from a winter's rest into growth. If nothing else, these thoughts and casual conversations ("So what are YOUR resolutions??") create a change in how I (and others) feel during our days.
I embrace this energy. I put out the intention to keep playing with this energy, like a kitten with a ball of yarn, to keep spinning it. I put out the intention to not forget that calling that a "simple" movie inspired within me. I put out the intention to start today - not waiting until January 1st - to live connected, peacefully, energetically, and aware.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Around my home (in this hemisphere), it is the longest night of the year. It is nature asking us to rest, to go within, to swim and drink in the darkness. It is a hard thing for us to do, we busy creatures, thriving on success through action. Yet it is of no use to fight nature. Our body may survive but our soul quickly dies without inner rest.
It is a balance we must keep - to find a peace, a rest - without going to sleep. Allow the eyes to close and dreams to come but keep the fire burning. This inner retreat that nature requests of us is so that we may recharge, learn and discover what lies beyond that which spring and summer may cover over, fertilize the soil that honest growth may occur as the days grow longer. If we sleep through it, allow the fire to die out, growth that will come with the sun will simply be dry and quick to death.
I wish for myself and for you a peaceful retreat into the self, a restful and insightful evening, and a wakening tomorrow from your deepest sleep.
***A Poem from Rumi***
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
Namaste. (The divine within me recognizes and honors the divine within you)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This is how the box showed the finish product:
1) Purchasing the countless other ingredients instructed in small print on the box (cornstarch, powdered sugar, etc) (even though the big print states "Everything's Included!")
2) Reading the instructions to learn the afore-mentioned ingredients are really not needed,
3) Discovering the instructions said it takes one hour for the icing for the walls to dry & two hours for the roof icing to dry, thus
4) Disappointing our son because there are only so many hours after school therefore evening number one was just spent in "construction",
5) Re-moistening the icing (which hardens within minutes) because "gingerbread-house-night-number-2!!" turned into "horrible-day-at-school-thus-punishment-in-the-room",
6) Taking at least 45 minutes cutting little gum drops in half, green, gummy, leaf-shaped candies into something that is supposed to resemble "evergreen leaves", and a little red bow out of a flattened red gum drop,
7) Giving up on trying to flatten gum drops into "rectangular window shapes" because gummies don't stay flat...they ooze back into their original shape no matter how much pressure you apply with a rolling pin or how many curse words are said,
8) Finally sitting down to decorate the house on night #3 with both kids only to discover that the icing simply won't come out of the decorating tube (& adding water only makes it easier for it to squirt out of the back of the tube & onto the floor & the dog),
9) Releasing into what is, scooping the icing out of the bowl with my hands, glopping it onto the gingerbread house & letting the kids have at it with applying whatever candy they want in whatever format they want....
We discovered the fun in making a gingerbread house and revealed what a gingerbread house should look like:
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
It is worth repeating.
Perhaps I was predestined to have this thought....after all, the afternoon did involve my husband, mother, kids & I going to see A Christmas Carol (the 3-D movie). VERY highly recommended - the story was brought to life in a way I'd never experienced & the graphics, sound, and methods of portraying characters were stunning.
I walked out of there feeling just plain good. Shortly after, we ventured into the chaos that is holiday shopping. Hubby & I were on a mission to find a few last kids gifts while my mom kindly watched the kids. During one trip across a parking lot, one driver chose to speed along without stopping while we were trying to cross the street. We weren't in any danger, just inconvenienced. I looked over & saw a frown on my husband's face.
Now whether he was reacting to the driver or deep in his own thoughts I'll probably never know. But I realized in that instant that the people walking out of that store had frowns on their faces too....that being frown-y was the default state of being. Everyone had their own reasons for holding the look on their face - many were probably doing so unconsciously. I decided right then & there that because I was conscious of my emotions, because I had an awareness of myself & others, that it was my job to spread the love, not the hate.
A simple smile on my face. A generous thank you to someone holding the door, the person who took our order, the waiter who brought out our food. An honest compliment to a woman with a beautiful blouse. It really wasn't much effort. But I could feel the positive energy swirling within me and knew - just knew - it wasn't mine to keep. I could also feel the sleep-walking depression all around me.
It is quite the tricky idea to be conscious of our consciousness - to be aware of the moment. There are many traditions that describe this idea, some identifying it as a witness consciousness. To be able to look at what is going on in this moment (our feelings, the actions we & others are taking, the events & environments around us) as if we were hovering above it all as a simple observer. No judgments.
That is where I found myself this afternoon. I saw all of the hurt that people were feeling, even if they weren't admitting it to themselves. I saw my own hurt, my own switch that was patiently waiting to be turned "on" again...that switch that puts me back in the mindless state of being. All the wants, desires, aversions, & ignorance guiding us through every moment. Breath after breath I remained aware of this...and carrying a smile on my face, life was simply jubilant. People continued to frown around me, the kids screamed, diversions to my plans happened, but like the calm depths of the ocean I remained at ease.
I'd like to say I stayed like this forever. I'd like to say I sit down to write this blog still with the smile on my face & calm in my heart. But I am a work in progress. I slipped in and out of mindfulness. I am aware that this will continue to happen. I am aware that my feeling of "success" comes not from staying in that state of being, but how quickly I return to it after anger or jealousy or want of change slips in. With an inhale I bring in the love, with my exhale, rid myself of all I know longer need.
I invite you to take today & perhaps even tomorrow to just be aware of your default state. If it is one of frustration or indifference, I invite you to move into a state of beauty. Buy the gift with love in your heart, do your job knowing that whatever it is you are doing, you are making a difference. BE the beauty & radiate it. Little by little, lets all try to spread the feelings of love that we all crave and lessen the feelings of anger and hatred.
And if you get a chance, catch A Christmas Carol in 3-D before it leaves theatres. It's refreshing to feel so warm & yummy!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
We've been sprinkling a bit of creativity here and there, just enough to keep the energy flowing until I move into bigger projects.
We followed a wonderful project suggested at Maya*Made using tp rolls (ya know, those leftover rolls that fill up the recycling bin? It's way more fun to give them a second life.) She is amazingly creative...and while ours didn't exactly measure up, it was tons of fun to make it. Instead of a gift card holder, we made a little purse for Dilana.
I think next time we'll gesso or paint it first. I love the rough-look but it still looks a bit "tp-roll" to me. Maybe add the sewing too?
We also had a great Tyler-night-only tonight (he's been asking frequently for time with mommy & daddy alone. I feel honored he's missing us). He spontaneously made his own art at dinner:
(It's ok - I'd almost rather him play with his french fries than eat them. He'd already finished the healthy stuff!)
I'm excited to use the next week to delve into a few more projects: art journaling, pulling my sewing machine back out, finally using those pastels I bought ages ago.
On a side note, I'm feeling a bit down about my lack of discipline in training. The sudden cold weather & Chris back to his regular schedule means limited time outside (too cold to take Dilana out anymore) thus more time at the Y -- and I REEEAALLY don't like running on the indoor track & treadmill. So many excuses.
But I'm staying positive -- Sure hope I can sleep with all of these creative/mini- / tri-training/philosophical/nutty ideas swirling around!
(Still love to know what you think of the new design...!)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I need to play around with it to make sure there aren't any "hidden" changes (html things) that may throw me off...but I love the overall feel of it! I'm hoping to add some more navigational tools as well as an overall description of the blog.
Let me know what you think of the design!
Over the next few days, I'm hoping to learn and implement some design (and possibly functional) changes to my blog. If you visit often, you might notice things changing...then maybe changing back.
This is going to be a process of learning how to do something, trying it, and seeing if I like it. I'd love to add pages & more functionality -- but my knowledge of Html is VERY limited and I don't have the $$ to pay someone to do it.
However - that doesn't mean I can't change a few things here and there!
I want to make my blog a warm, inviting, cheery, and thought-provoking web-stop for visitors. I want updates to be immediately visible and the basics (what this blog is about, for example!) to be easily accessible for new visitors. I really want a banner that reflects all of this.
So please forgive the mess. I hope to have something "final" by this weekend (as Christmas cards are almost ready for the mail and I now have juuuust a bit more free time on my hands!). I hope you hang in there with me through it all!
Monday, December 7, 2009
(Then hopefully a li'l more blogging!)
I love this time of year.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Dilana: I think I'm doing ok!
Me: That's great!
Dilana: You won't see my chiiiip!
Me: What chip? (Walking towards the kitchen)
Me: (After arriving and seeing her munching on something with another chip in front of her) What's that?
Dilana: .... You can have a bite, if you want.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
The little things are starting to pile up. Remember how I wrote about "not having time" versus "not making time"? Generally, I'd say I haven't had time to keep up with various errands and chores. But to be honest...I haven't made the time.
I woke up early enough to get Tyler to the bus stop and head over to the YMCA with hubby to get in a 3.5 mile slow run. (My "to-do" on my training log.) We went to lunch, picked up envelopes for Christmas cards at Hobby Lobby, & headed home. He went off to work - I took a quick nap (exhaustion set in quickly), then woke to feed Dilana her snack, get our things together - then off to pick up Tyler from the bus stop and back to Hobby Lobby. (I decided to purchase something I couldn't decide on earlier. More on that to come...) We got home, prepared dinner, did some crafting, baths, and bed time.
I mention all of that just to indicate how busy the day was - yet how clear it becomes about the decisions I made that took up my time. (A nap & two trips to Hobby Lobby probably wasn't in my best interest.)
Yet it takes all I have to sit down and write this blog - I tripped over two piles of laundry to get here.
I'm finding that if my mind starts to get overwhelmed, if I start to feel busy, then the TODO pile starts to topple. If suddenly I have two or three or ten things that seem to all need addressing, I get stressed. Yet if I can let go of the pressure to do more than I have time for -- clock time and time based off my energy -- suddenly the list doesn't seem so bad.
I went back to Hobby Lobby to purchase the Xyron 900 -- for those who aren't familiar, it's an adhesive/laminating/so many cool things machine. Non-electric, very easy to use. The final straw was needing a way to adhere vellum for our Christmas cards...the Xyron was calling too loudly to ignore. That, and Hobby Lobby had it for 50% off -- the best price I've seen anywhere (even with online searches).
(The Xyron 900) (photo from xyron website)
When I got home, I was anxious not only to play with the Xyron but to try and finish some cards. So I printed on the vellum and went upstairs to try and put it in the machine.
For those who have used it, vellum doesn't dry quickly. Even leaving it through dinner didn't work. I'd heard somewhere that using a heat tool can dry it fast, so I pulled out my embossing heat tool and used it in few-second increments over the writing. Not only did it not completely work, but it ever-so-slightly warped the paper. Thus, when I rolled it through the Xyron, the laminate bubbled up and the text slightly smeared. Not to be deterred, I went ahead and cut a few to adhere it to cards. I now have two cards with slightly bubbly, smeared-text inside greetings.
I had it in my mind what I wanted to accomplish and was going to try and fight even the laws of physics to get it done. Bad idea.
I have now printed off the other vellum sheets and am going to let them dry overnight. (Hopefully that takes care of it.) I am still stressed by the other little things -- the toys that have been left out because the kids were past their bedtime once we got everything else done, the laundry (clean and dirty) that is piled high because I've only devoted 5-minute spurts of time to getting it clean/put away, the cards that aren't even going to get sent out tomorrow (for lack of some addresses, etc).
Yet I realize that as long as I keep balanced inside - open and receptive to the Me that guides me - what "needs" to get done will get done. The family will have clean clothes to wear (even if they have to pick them up off the futon). Christmas cards will get out before Christmas (even if some have a more "shabby chic" look to them). I will finish the mini-marathon next May (even if I back off some on my training right now).
I know this post is getting long but this is really tapping into something for me. I won't keep typing for fear of making this post rather pointless. I will, however, probably revisit this.
There is a difference between letting go (i.e. doing a Homer Simpson by putting the car on cruise & letting go of the wheel) and letting go to let be. I'm not sure how to put it into words, but I FEEL it...and hope at least from time to time, you do as well. It's happening when things flow.
So again I will try to let go of my priorities to recognize MY priorities - those of the greater "me" that is guiding me. What'll be will be.
Hopefully that includes dry vellum tomorrow morning.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I choose to honor my committment to blog and know I have several beautiful thoughts in there, but I need to let them simmer some more or they won't taste quite right.
So for now, just a quick recap on my day -- a day for a runner/triathlete in training, yogini who all too often neglects her practice, artist who is still finding her voice, mommy who recognizes the value in silence and letting go of plans, and a wife who is thankful for her hubby.
I am currently following a training plan for the mini marathon, set up by Michael (remember - Kearns Chiropractic?) :). I'm only on day 2 of the plan, but today was a cross-train day...so I hit the pool again. Frustration is sitting in because I am realizing how LOW my endurance is.
So after arriving home, hubby, Dilana and I went to Borders to find a few books on nutrition - the thought being is that I / we can train as much as we want, but if what is going in isn't supporting the energy that needs to go out, nothin' is going to happen. Being a vegetarian (a poor one, I must admit - but I've survived doing so for over two years now), I am not really sure how to balance proper eating with the new amount of energy I need to focus. We found one that looks great - Nancy Clark's Food Guide For Marathoners. (I also caved and picked up Zen and the Art of Running: The Path To Making Peace With Your Pace by Larry Shapiro. I know the use of Zen is far too trendy, but I'm sadly hooked...and am realizing how much I need to get my mind in shape if I'm going to do 13.1 miles without headphones. I also had Borders Reward Bucks to use!)
The rest of the day was focused on Christmas cards (getting family photo printed out, playing with stamps, embossing, etc.) and researching a Xyron machine.
By the way - anyone have the Xyron Creatopia? I'd love to know your thoughts...I can't justify the money yet but am so intrigued.
Now, my brain is mush. So much creative output, so much mothering, so much thinking about gifts for the kids & where life is going after all of this holiday stuff....
Awaiting possible snow tomorrow, not quite sure how I'm going to get the 3.5 mile run in that is on my training log, fighting the urge to move into hibernation.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
That phrase, whether said by me or someone else, always seems to rouse my inner thinker. The note that we each have as much time as did, say, Einstein, definitely holds true. Yet how many times do we use that phrase...even in one day?
Sorry, I didn't have time to give you a call. I didn't have time to help with that. I didn't have time to relax today. I didn't have time to get that writing or art project or report done. I didn't have time to ....
I'm not saying that we aren't all supremely busy. Today's lifestyle, especially with its focus on success as measured by output, is a hectic one. Yet as I've mentioned before, how much is reason and how much is excuse?
What if we replaced every instance of "I didn't have time" to "I didn't make time"? Ah, warning flags go up in my head, too. It is an ultimate form of responsibility that even the most virtuous among us might shirk away from.
Yet....just try to think about it for a minute. If we truly took responsibility for every action, every thought, how would you form your time?
When those things occurred that went against our pre-planned schedules or beyond our control (a traffic jam, kids not getting ready, etc.), perhaps, "I couldn't find time today" would be an appropriate response...acknowledging the event yet remaining aware that time is not something we "don't have".
Try for a bit to ponder what your life would look like if you made time for those things you want to do, but frequently claim you don't have time for. What would it take to get the excuses out of the way?
If your time was truly your responsibility, your life was yours to create, to design, what would you decide to make time for...and what to push aside?
Personally, I'm finding that the more I take responsibility for my time the easier it gets to make time for things I previously couldn't find time for. Even laundry, dishes, errands all seem to fit easier into the schedule. I don't know why this is, and I choose not to spend my time questionning too much.
I do know that at the very least the awareness that my time is my own - and indeed, all I have and all my responsibility - makes each and every moment more precious.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I had plans to blog about holiday insights and wonderful thoughts on breathing and the crucial nature of the breath in all ventures.
I had plans...until my brother called.
Apparently, Mike, the friend who ran with us on Thanksgiving, had texted him to encourage him to enter another race. Today was the last day to register at the reduced rate. (Nothing like last minute, eh?) My brother wanted to know if I wanted to participate.
The catch? The race is the Indy Mini Marathon, a 13 mile race.
My heart rate sped up & I couldn't answer. I spent at least an hour googling, "How Do I Know If I'm Ready For A Mini-Marathon" and "Can I Train For A Triathlon And A Mini Marathon At The Same Time" and "Has Lisa Really Lost Her Mind?" (Ok, not that last one, but now I'm curious to know the search results.)
I talked to my husband. I researched, thought, and prepared dinner. I put the kids in front of a movie and researched some more.
I took a deep breath.
And I signed myself and my husband up for the race.
So on top of work (Pharmacy for Chris, House for me), the kids, Christmas prep, trying to get Christmas cards out and ready, crafting, figuring out how to start my yoga (+ art) classes, getting the kids in swim lessons and other events, and training for a triathlon....I guess now we are also training for a mini-marathon.
I am such a pushover but am thankful (at least for the moment) for Ryan & Mike. My heart is racing.
May 2010 will be Chris & My TENTH wedding anniversary. I never thought we'd be celebrating like this...but what a way to do it.
Deep breath. I'll blog more either tonight (when I can't sleep) or tomorrow about all I'd plan to blog about before. (As Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio would say, it's all just a change of plans!)
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Believe it or not, being the dedicated (obsessed?) photographer that I am, I decided to borrow my mom's smaller camera and take it with me...not only before the race, but during. I wore a runner's pack (yup, like a fanny pack but designed to be worn while running) to carry it - and actually took photos while I ran. (See proof below.)
I'm sure this knocks me out of the "professional runners" association and probably looked pretty silly, but I have no regrets. I'm glad I got the photos I did and that I didn't have to leave my camera anywhere during the run. It was not only for me, but an essential part of capturing my sister & brother's first official event.
Here we are walking from the car after finally getting our bib numbers on and deciding we'd leave the warm car to brave the cold temps. We had just joked about how others were wearing shorts & must be quite "professional"...when we walked past that group of people in the back who commented to one another ("Look - there are some runners!") -- note the humored look on the faces of my fellow event participants.
It just goes to show you - everyone has an impression of someone else. You are who you think you are.
Which leads me to share a quick funny story: Around mile 3, I noticed a runner in front of me whose t-shirt back said, "Now is not the time to stop." It started swirling in my thoughts and motivated me...I just kept following that shirt and knew I could keep right on going. Unfortunately, a few yards later - he stopped.
I ran past him and had to giggle a little.
A photo of one row of volunteers and a section of food - those are all bananas. Bless those people for being out so early...and just start to imagine how many people (volunteers & runners/walkers) there were by knowing that this was just one row - amidst other rows and actual tents - of food & drink.
A photo of fellow runners. The turkey was a professional runner who had a bit of a head start - there was a prize for the first runner to catch him. I opted out of that competition.
I am falling in love - With my husband, with my family, with the season.
We had an amazing weekend - only a tiny part of which was planned. (Even though we all were a little under the weather.) I don't know if it was the release from stress of Thanksgiving planning, race planning, & house cleaning or the freedom we allowed ourselves from "have-to's", but this is one of the best weekends I have had in recent memory.
Today, we decorate our Christmas tree. It is the ongoing celebration of a weekend that has led us to this point.
Saturday morning we visited a neighbor (I believe she's 11?!) at an art show -- where she was displaying her photography! We bought a great one she took near our house, actually on a path that we bike/run. It is a lovely reminder of her as well as inspiration for our workouts. (She doesn't have a web site but if she gets one up I'll definitely link from here!)
(I also picked up a few other wonderfully crafty goodies - and found some good inspiration as well! Don't worry - I simply won't copy another's art...I wouldn't want someone else doing that to me...but I think it's fine to use similar concepts or pieces for a springboard for my own work! I love supporting other artists and using their work as a reminder to keep busy with my own.) Check this out:
A nice reminder in the form of a bracelet, tied with ribbon and a snap closure.
Another girl had a brilliant idea: Parents will be familiar with all of those leftover crayons at restaurants that generally just get tossed after kids use them once. She takes these leftovers and melts them into new molds....my kids loved them!
After, my husband gently convinced me to try a new restaurant on 4th street -- our local "world-wide cuisine buffet" street. We stopped at The Basil Leaf, a Vietnamese Bistro. Amazing food...enjoyable time (even with our son accidentally knocking a glass of water all over our daughter). SO glad I went - we'll definitely be going back. (Thanks to hubby for pushing me to keep trying new things!)
(Dilana's choice of a tree. I hear the Charlie Brown song in the background...)
I giggle every time I see it...it looks so gigantic in the tiny room.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The energy was overwhelming - it was around 37 degrees outside, but thankfully the rain held off until we finished. It was completely unlike the 5K we did a few short weeks ago (of which there were maybe 225 participants?) -- there were over TEN THOUSAND participants in this event, blaring music, ample food (free coffee from Starbucks, soup & noodles from Noodles & Company), great registration gifts (a long sleeve technical t-shirt), and all going to a good cause (Wheeler Mission - helping the homeless).
Myself, hubby, my brother & sister (and my brother's friend who showed up at the last minute!) all took part. Of that small group, I finished 3rd (my brother's friend is a triathlete and my brother....he's just awesome like that & can pull a quick run out of nowhere). Hubby ran the WHOLE thing and improved his time by probably 2 min / mile (stunning!) and my sister, who just started training maybe two weeks ago, put in an AWESOME time for her first event (under 12 minute mile!).
I don't know whether to be excited or bummed about my time -- I finished with an average 10:44 / mile. That is slower than my 5K (which was 10:38 / mile). However, this is a longer race AND - the big kicker that I've seen posted by SEVERAL other participants - there were FAR too many people for the small roads and FAR too many people who chose not to pay attention to the appropriate line-up procedure.
Basically, runners line up in a group by your expected time / mile. That way, faster runners who do 6 min miles will start at the front and (in theory) not have to trample over slower runners. We appropriately stood in the 10 minute /mile group. However, we spent easily the first 2 miles weaving in and out of slower runners, walkers, stroller-pushers, and even groups of folks who took up the entire road. I was running up on curbs & even jumped over a cone at one point in order to not get slowed. I feel like that motivated me, in part (i.e. I sprinted many times to get ahead of a slower group). However, I'm sure it significantly slowed me down...we all joked at the end that we probably ran 5.5 miles instead of 4.5 by all of the weaving we had to do.
Regardless, I am SO proud of all of us. My family has never really been the active type...and now we are talking about making this a yearly tradition. Let me tell you, we didn't feel guilty about putting a few extra things on our plate after that!
As far as training goes, with two race events behind me and cold weather rolling in I will probably start focusing more on weight training and time in the pool. I do hope to do at least one more race (at least to keep myself motivated) before next spring. I feel like I could have done better on the time and want to keep myself in shape to do so.
I have SO SO much more to share and will post photos as soon as I can get ahold of them.
I hope everyone else had a beautiful Thanksgiving as well and is enjoying (hopefully) a few extra days off-schedule!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I have so many things for which I am thankful.
We completed the race this morning (about which I will write very very soon) and had an amazing Thanksgiving, topped off with our son saying, "Guys, this is the BEST thanksgiving I've EVER had."
Right now, however, I am most thankful that you understand that I am exhausted...and thankful that I have a warm bed waiting for me.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Dilana: "I'm not doing anything!"
Dilana: "I'm not in the bathroom!!"
Dilana: "I don't have the toothpaste!"
Me: "Dilana, come here."
Dilana: "....I'm not doing anything!"
On another note, the anxiety has started for tomorrow's race (to be followed by ample food and family frivolity). The excitement is a bit dilluted, however, because I just know we'll be overwhelmed by 8000+ runner/walkers, temps in the 30's, and rain or snow. It may not be about the running...rather, just making it through the morning.
I hope to add another post tonight, but if not...I'll definitely update tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This year I am finding that my priorities are leaning more towards self expression than anything else. Don't get me wrong...I'm still a running around trying to clean the house, find a receipe for at least one yummy dish (this year it is for Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies...I can't wait!), balance schedules between family and in-laws, and maintain the usual day-to-day appointments.
Yet with my yoga self now deeply ingrained, a creative self re-emerging, and an active self pursuing goal-after-goal, I'm finding those "other things" just aren't as important. My, it feels good.
A few examples of what has been popping up as I allow my soul to speak:
I woke one morning to a stunning fog. Instead of just ignoring it, I pulled out my camera and took a few minutes on the back deck to photograph it and just breathe it all in. I can still feel the moist coolness in my nose and it is delicious. I just kept thinking "mystical" - I almost expected to see a fairy or two fluttering about.
I also got it in my head that I wanted to do something for Tyler's classmates (teacher, & bus driver too...I didn't get the thought in time for the art, music, PE teachers & librarian). Going to Target for the dollar bins wasn't quite capturing the mood...so I spent some time (probably a bit too much) making, printing, & coloring cards.
Tyler helped by coloring each "Thanksgiving"...though by the end the coloring was more of a scribbled shading. He also signed each one.
(They read "This Thanksgiving I'm Thankful For ... YOU! Thanks for being my classmate and friend. Happy Thanksgiving")
It took several hours but it feels good to have done them. It feels RIGHT. And that's where all of this is going.
I still have to pack, get everything together for the race on Thursday morning, groccery shop tomorrow, finish up some other Thanksgiving gifts, get the house clean for family coming over on Friday, do laundry, etc etc etc. Yet that just feels like busy work. Just like every other year.
This year, the acts of kindness - towards others AND myself - just feel right. I don't know if priorities are finally coming in line with my values and it's that harmony that is singing or if I'm just getting lucky and the schedule traffic jam is a few days away.
Regardless, I'm hoping this feeling stays. This attention to what feels good, to trying to make others feel good, to health, kindness, ... it's rubbing off on the kids too. I've noticed they've both been in better moods. Again, who knows if it's the whole cliche of if mommy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy...but if mommy's doing well, everybody's lucky.....or if I'm tapping into a deeper energy that is pooling around the kids as well.
I love it. Thanksgiving is truly that this year - a giving of thanks. To myself, to others, to you oh-wonderful-reader-of-this-blog, to those less fortunate and those more fortunate.
Ah, but hopefully more on the deep meaning of Thanksgiving in the coming days. For now, back to preparing for the events to celebrate it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Today is a day for laughs, and where better to turn for humor than a child?
(For those who visited my blog dayofawesomeness.blogspot.com , this better belongs there. But I haven't had time to keep up with it, so enjoy it here!!)
We decorated our daughter's room with those fun stick-on things you can put on the wall (that are repositionable - so much fun!). Above her changing table, we have the phrase:
(Change is good. Oh yeah, we do have a sense of humor.)
Well since she could talk we've been working with her on the phrases and letters around her room. Our routine was always to say, "Change Is...." To which she'd reply, "GOOD!". It's a fun game.
A few weeks ago I was up changing her diaper (yeah, the whole potty training thing isn't working so well). I pointed up to the letters and said, "Change...."
to which she replied,
Gotta love her.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Ever experienced one of those events that just knocks you right off your block? It can be a great morning, or a great day, or a great week...but one li'l event later and you feel deflated.
As you can probably guess, I had one of those today. I won't go into details suffice to say that it was a financial punch and one that will continue to effect our family for at least the next year. We'll be ok - and I almost feel guilty for feeling so deflated. There are individuals and families who get by on far less than we do and I am constantly thankful for our blessings. Yet the *oomph* remains.
As it usually is with financial concerns, I can't do anything to pick myself back up. Creative endeavors, deep breathing, playing with the kids...for whatever reason, my smile seems to not fit on my face.
Yet, I know this too shall pass. I know (deep down) that this is such a small event, no where near a catastrophe, something that is indeed a lesson and thus, a gift.
I find in these situations that it is a true test of how deep the lessons I've studied have permeated my being. Kind of like the idea I mentioned before...I've lifted weights and am now testing my strength outside of the weight room. I embrace creativity, yogic ideals, mindfulness, and so many other beneficial practices. During my good times they are easy to follow. It is during the rocky times that for me (and I'd guess most others), I get to see how well I walk the walk.
So, I take a deep breath. I've been doing mindless work entering forms (i.e. accomplishing something - helps the spirit a bit!) while the kids watch a movie. I don't feel guilty.
I'm doing what I can to pick myself back up, to get back in tune with that beautiful song I know is still playing within me and all around me.
We've all been (and will continue to be) knocked off our block, shaken up and stirred. As others have claimed it's not whether or not it happens, it's how quickly we pick ourselves back up and the lessons we take with us from the fall that matters.
So hum a little with me, won't you? Let's keep singing together until this beautiful melody we call life gets stuck in our heads forever.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I spent the afternoon preparing for the PTO meeting, ran the kids to the groccery to get snacks for my son's class tomorrow after he got home, stopped quickly at McDonalds (after I couldn't find a parking spot to go the restaurant I wanted to go to...I very rarely go to McD's!), and made it in time for the PTO meeting. An hour and a half later, I got home, got the kids brushing their teeth then straight to bed and spent 45 minutes packing up the snacks for tomorrow.
For those who know me, this might be a bit suprising...I'm not the mommy kind of mom.
But I did put my spin on the whole thing. For the meeting, I typed up the results of a recent survey - in color. Not only that, but since I only had one copy to pass around I decided it could be at least fun to look at. I took my eyelets & some silver ribbon to spruce it up! We also had a raffle for parents who had entered - I cut up each of the entries, made a couple of quick bags with the cricut, and brought the slips of paper in those.
The snacks? I didn't have time to get creative with the food (making celery boats or anything...and I don't think we're allowed to cook anything - not that I would have anyway :) )...so I got creative with the packaging. Gotta love those stamps!
Why do I share this? To inspire someone who longs to be creative but doesn't think they have the outlet to INFUSE LIFE WITH CREATIVITY.
I recall several articles in Stampington/Somerset Studio publications (LOVE those - http://www.stampington.com/ ) where Jenny Doh (the creative editor of at least one of their publications) takes this to heart - beautiful school supplies for her daughter, office supplies that are dolled up. She and others like her inspire me to do what I can to bring that creative fun, that juicy living, to the "have-to's".
I've a lot more to share (in particular my on again off again love affair with running) but it is late. Gotta wind down that creative energy and try to sleep...so I can enjoy it all again tomorrow!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I currently have TEN windows open on my laptop.
- 7 websites on which I want to follow up (send an email, purchase an item, read more...),
- 2 word documents (one general reflection, the other - a starting outline for yet another idea for a workshop/event I'd like to plan), and
- 1 Excel document containing the results of a school progress survey (for my son's school) I am helping to coordinate, evaluate, and move forward with.
This does not include the windows open on my desktop downstairs. I'm currently uploading photos and browsing another blog on that computer.
I have the following thoughts on my mind:
- I need to update my blog (design), my photo site, and my yoga website (sadly neglected for months)
- The laundry is mid-cycle -I need to finish it and get the sheets done.
- The kiddos are playing on their own, but I should be interacting with them.
- The garage is full of the clutter we cleared out of the house this summer. I really need to donate/sell/toss it so I can get my car in the garage...preferably in the next week.
- I have a week left to finish 30+ holiday cards. Knowing my schedule, that amounts to at least 5 cards / day.
- Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. The 4.5 mile run is NEXT WEEK. I have a ton of preparation to do for both of those.
I'll stop there -- it could go on but the list might cause the blog to lock up.
I'm constantly moving (naps really aren't in my schedule any more); I have a to-do list that grows by the second; and I keep adding to the things that are on my mind (creative projects, blogs to follow, friends to follow-up with, projects to finally finish around the house, workouts to do, etc). Between dinner, the kids' baths, story time, switching laundry, blah blah blah it is going to be an active night. Tomorrow is a PTO meeting where we present the results of the survey, I have (get) to do 5 (or 10) christmas cards...
And yet, I didn't go to work today. I didn't cook (yet). I had/made time for a delicious chat with a girlfriend over chai topped off with some vintage-goods shopping. I had no appointments, no business meetings, not even a doctors appointment. My husband was even here to help with the kids.
Time goes (flies) by, activities & energies wax and wane. It has become a status symbol, in a way, in our society to be Busy. ("Whew - what a day! I had 39 meetings, 412 phone calls, 5 lunches with corporate folks..." or " I have to run the kids to soccer then ballet then school then groccery shop then pick up the kids to run them to basketball then karate then music lessons then therapy...")
Yet what is "Busy"? Activites on the calendar? Enough on the schedule to justify being stressed? Every minute of the day accounted for?
I have none of those things, yet I would certainly consider today busy. My spirit was spinning, my creative juices flowing, my mind (unfortunately) chattering away. I kept moving and even when I wasn't, my mind kept my mouth gabbing and my thoughts spinning.
What do you consider busy? Would you consider a stay-at-home mom with nothing on her schedule busy? What about the CEO who took a 2 hour lunch in between 5 meetings - busy? The artist meditating on the next piece to be created - busy?
I'd contemplate the meaning and present a deep, moving definition here...but I'm busy.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
On my run this morning, this role was revealed to me. As cars sped past, wind in my face and at my back, feet meeting the pavement to move me one more step, the thought came. It was as though it was a revelation, a remembering of who I am. It was amazing.
We lay down the road and take our cars and drive right over her. We carve a path into the earth that allows us to move where we choose. Like a mother adjusting for her kids, the earth complies. Yet like spoiled children, we forget to thank her. We go farther, faster in our cars, thinking not of the earth speeding past us under our tires but of the person driving to slow in front of us or the idiot tailgating us or whether we will make the green light or lamenting the traffic jam ahead.
Today, as my feet met the road, I again remembered her.
I come as an enemy, fighting to conquer hills, avoid potholes, still get farther - faster.
Yet as with any war, the ultimate goal is peace.
I aim to become friends with the road, to let my body do what it naturally wants to do - move in harmony with the earth. Today, on a final hill during my run, I experienced a brief taste of this relationship. The earth carried me as my mind stopped its complaining, its fighting...the wind was blowing against me but somehow supporting me, the ground meeting my screaming legs but somehow lifting me through each and every step.
Next time I am in my car, I will remember the road. I will be again on the side of the enemy, yet far more familiar with my opponent. I will thank her for what she provides - a path. A path for me to travel, to move, to become more familiar with the earth...and with myself.
I hope and pray that each person has the chance to experience this, to remember the path themselves, to give other road warriors the chance to find their own peace (by slowing down and moving over when speeding past in a car!), and to hopefully travel into harmony as well.
A smile still rests on my face as I remember: I am a road warrior.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The background of a Chrismas card, incorporating stamps, dry embossing, and markers.
On the Workout / Training Front:
I took two days off in a row and felt so icky about it. Of course, with the 4.5 mile race quickly approaching, I knew I had to get right back into running.
My dear husband had driven a route around our house, saying it was somewhere around 4.5-5 miles but quite hilly. I've driven it several times but as any road traveller (biker, runner, walker, etc) knows, hills are defined differently when in the car vs. on the road. My lack of appreciation for "hills" caught up with me when I attempted this run.
I drove the distance again when I was done and I believe it was right around 4.6 miles. My time? It averaged out to about an 11:25 minute / mile pace. (versus the 10:38 minute / mile pace I had in the 5k) I walked a few times though I did tackle a few hills I didn't expect to. The last few long hills were painful even to walk.
Today was a day of rest. (Appropriate for a Sunday, no?)
Tomorrow, I will again tackle the distance, but have charted a more level course from our home. (Nasty hills to get out of the neighborhood, but ok from there.)
Again, I reiterate: Hills are my teachers. Level ground is my friend. I simply have to keep appreciating both.
Anything to which you are struggling with commitment? Leave a comment and let me know - let's motivate one another!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I finally invested in a Cricut!! While not the most financially responsible decision, we're calling it my Christmas gift (and ironically, it will be used for Christmas gifts/cards for others!).
For those non-crafters who are not familiar with this machine (pronounced "cricket"), it is a die-cutting machine (shapes, letters, tags, etc.) that is a workroom staple for many crafters who work with paper, scrapbookers, etc. (http://www.cricut.com/) It is definitely an expensive investment but I'm hoping it will pay for itself over time (no more purchasing individual punches, cards, etc.).
(Letters using the Cricut, snow cutouts from a different punch. I won't be using this card because, in case you can't tell, I learned another lesson after creating it....don't leave drinks anywhere near the crafting area. Our son had gotten a bit excited and knocked over my diet coke - my fault for leaving it there. Fortunately it didn't spill near the machine!)
The energy from the 5K is still pulsing and we aren't about to let it die. Hubby and I signed up for our next event -- a 4.5 mile run/walk in Broad Ripple, IN on Thanksgiving morning! (a.k.a. The Drumstick Dash) In true testiment to how energy spreads, we also convinced my brother (who will be coming down from Chicago) AND my sister to join us! I am thrilled for us, for them, and excited at all we'll have to share when we are done.
(They are expecting over 8,000 participants in this. It should be quite an experience!!)
Because this "race" is only a couple of weeks away, we are once again bumping up our training. I found out this morning, though, that I may need to take it down a notch....
WHERE I'VE BEEN & WHAT I'VE LEARNED
I really need to keep better track of my progress! The past few days:
*(Mon a.m.): Swim laps & pool work for ~35 minutes
*(Tues a.m.): Bike through our neighborhood, pulling trailer w/Dilana, ~ 10 min. (More on this below)
*(Wed a.m.): Clear Creek trail, RAN (jogged) entire thing to end and back - 5 miles, 54:48 minutes. (Walked 4 times, each time for no more than 30 seconds)
WHAT I LEARNED:
* I am so psyched at the pool work from this week. I signed up for a newsletter for beginning swimmers (tri-swimmers in particular) that includes 5 drills. The first two, which I attempted this week, are focused on side-swimming and breathing - basically working on balance. While I didn't quite understand why, I really got it after trying a few free-style strokes when I was done with the drills. A lot of it comes down to the core (like yoga, running, sitting, and everything else in life!!) - if I can find balance from the middle, the arms, legs, head, (and thus side-breathing) all work better in coordination.
* In relation to the last lesson, I am finally finding my confidence in the pool! I'm sure much of it is from the confidence gained during the 5K, but I feel way more comfortable that I'll at least be able to make it in the water. Whether I swim free-style, breast-stroke, or simply doggy-paddle my way...I can do this.
All the small steps - as I learn to find my confidence in the pool, so will I (slowly, I'm sure) in the open water. I've also been reading quite a bit on triathlons and am encouraged by even seasoned veterans of the sport who express fear and/or concern over the swimming leg.
* Just have to share...I swam one length of the pool and ended up taking in a little water as I approached the wall. Instead of freaking out (as I always have in the past), I just doggy-paddled a bit, pushed off, and kept moving back the other direction. Words of wisdom: Just keep swimming.
* Biking. Whew. I've a ways to go. I can certainly ride my bike, easily on level ground, ok on hills. But on the hills in our neighborhood & while pulling the trailer with Dilana in it? Whoa.
I challenged myself to make it up certain hills and felt as though my chest were going to explode and my legs were just going to give out about halfway up many of them. That explains the 10 minutes...when I got back to the top of our street instead of continuing out of our neighborhood, I decided to call it lesson learned. I'm intrigued, though...it is a personal challenge now to tackle those hills. I think, though, that I'll start off not pulling the trailer.
* I am slowly learning how to use the gears on the bike....like when exactly to change gears. Our neighborhood, as I've mentioned before, is one hill after the other. It is tricky to maintain a constant awareness of what is coming up so I know exactly how - and when - to change gears. More to learn....
* 3.1 miles, 5 miles, heck, probably any distance - is SO much easier on level ground. Mrs. Obvious, I know, but it is worth repeating. Level ground is my friend. Hills are my teachers. I need both.
* I am EXHAUSTED. I think my mental strength has met or surpassed my physical strength. While that partially makes me happy, my mind is also writing checks my body can't cash.
Today on the run I didn't feel particularly physically exhausted and every mental challenge I encountered (eh, it's just a trial run - go ahead and walk! it's windy - no one would blame you if you wanted to walk! etc.) I was able to overcome and just keep going. But when I got home, my whole body was paying the price. I do have a very sore throat that I've been nursing all day...I don't know if it is a result of the run this morning or a coincidence that I happen to be getting ill, but even stretching and yoga is a challenge today.
What did I learn from this? I'm one tough chica and I love it. But I also need to learn to respect my limits, lest pushing them comes back to bite me in the butt. (Literally - even my butt hurts.)
One final note. Beyond crafting & active living, life continues. As I've quoted before, "One doesn't lift weights to be able to lift a heavier weight. One lifts weights to have the strength outside of the weight room".
Much of this active living is also for the purpose of finding balance - not just in the pool or on the road, but at home, in the groccery, during the not-so-active moments of life. And boy, did I need it today.
For whatever reason, our son has decided to act up the past few days. This evening, he got upset during a fight with his sister. After removing the cause (bubble wrap), I went into the kitchen to start dinner. Within a few minutes, I heard a snipping sound.
I hurried back into the living room to discover this:
We are still in the process of determining how we are going to deal with this. For now, he is in his room with no toys. He doesn't seem to care...even helped us carry some out. It is a lesson in parenting that I've been thrown into and now must find the strength to face. (Beyond that, there's no way we can afford another couch right now, so a little sewing here and there and a very shabby-chic look is going to have to suffice!)
Lessons everywhere - and everywhere, opportunities to create with and through them.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
We had run the course a couple of days before to familiarize ourselves with it and to determine an estimate time. This morning - we both COMPLETELY blew our previous times out of the water. Both of us improved our times by at least 2 minutes.
I finished at 33:04, Chris at 37:09. Out of 209 runners for the 5K (I was surprised by how many were out there!), I was 129th & Chris was 156th. I am totally psyched that for our first 5K ever we did, at least what I would consider, quite well. I can't believe I had an average of 10:38 mile time. Seriously, for swearing a year ago that I am NOT nor will I ever be a runner, I'm so happy with myself!
I owe a GREAT deal of thanks to my mom who spent the night with us last night, got the kids ready this morning, and still arrived in time to take photos of the start & finish of our race. (I also owe thanks to those who inspired me, those who, in addition to the others, provided advice, and EVERYONE who has cheered us on along the way (too many to name, but please know I hold each of you in my heart - thank you!!).
Ironically, even though we'd strived to have a good nights sleep last night, Dilana had decided otherwise. Generally she is a wonderful sleeper, but last night not only did she wake up twice but ended up sleeping in our bed. Go figure. It was a rough morning.
We'd also signed up Tyler for a .9 mile "fun run" that started at 9:10 a.m. I actually ran with him (parents of younger kids were encouraged to do so). He still doesn't understand the "pacing" aspect...he'd run all out then walk for a bit. We ended up holding hands for some of the run and let me tell you -- I haven't been so happy in such a long time. Each kid received a small trophy & certificate.
On top of it all, the Y held a raffle during the awards ceremony -- Chris won a t-shirt from the Running Company and I won a gift certificate to Pizza X (formerly Pizza Express for those IU folk). (Yeah, I admit it's kinda odd - we have one of the healthiest mornings of our lives and will celebrate using the certificate to have a horribly unhealthy evening.) :)
The entire race is kind of a blur but I still feel that lovely feeling - kind of like when you spin around in a circle. It was quite hilly (Ok, for a beginner - it was CRAZY HILLY!) and I am so glad that others around me were taking walking breaks as well. I did walk a few times, but never longer than a minute, and two of those were during the water breaks. (Tricky trying to sip a bit of water when you are running!)
I cannot describe the feeling of running through that finish gate while my mother, my two kids, and strangers cheered me on. I really am tearing up right now. Being there to celebrate Chris running through was icing on the cake. I am so proud of him, myself, and my son for what we accomplished today (and for my daughter & mother for supporting us along the way). I'm proud of my kids for cheering everyone on. I'm totally on cloud nine regardless of how achy my body might be.
If I can share any energy with this, please please let me pass some on to you. If I can do it, if Chris can do it, I promise anyone can. This feeling of self accomplishment is unbelievable - something everyone should experience at least once in their life. For us, the story will continue...we are both quite pumped about this and ready to find the next 5K (and eventually 10K) as we pursue our training for the triathlon.
Some yoga, some hot-tubbing, some wine...s'gonna be a good night. And tomorrow, I will wake up knowing what I have accomplished and everything that I still have yet to accomplish. That is my life. Wow, it's a good one. I'm so fortunate for all I have! Thank you for the role you play in that...ok, enough gushing. Here are some photos to tell the story in a way I can't with words. Enjoy....
(There is nothing in the world like this feeling. Chris just finished and we are both beaming for one another.)
(Our family of "runners"! Hopefully this is setting a precedent for years to come. I never would have thought this would be us but am GIDDY that it is.)