Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Backyard

I often forget that while we can all feel quite cozy here in the blog world, when we turn off the computer we may be hundreds or thousands of miles apart. When you open your door, the world you see might be quite different from my own.

Right now in southern Indiana we are quite blessed to be experiencing a gorgeous fall. Here are some photos from my "back yard".
(Brown County State Park, about 20 minutes from my home. My "home away from home")

(My actual back yard. Taken before most of the leaves fell. I'll add another photo soon of what it looks like now. It literally takes DAYS to clean up all of the leaves.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Whole Picture

I am constantly amazed by the things I don't know. Sometimes I'm as giddy as a kid on a field trip. Other times, I'm saddened by all of the opportunities for learning that I didn't seize earlier on in life. Regardless, the world is a wide, amazing place. It sounds trite, but try understanding it in your own terms. (More on this later.)

I started another blog quite awhile ago, Live Awake, that has sadly been neglected. The entire concept was sharing things that inspired me, made me realize all there is out there. From a documentary by Michael J Fox to information on a foreign country (and their focus on Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product!) to creative folk I discovered online, I'm coming to learn that all the answers we ever need really are out there (and thus, within!!). We just have to get out of our own way to discover them.

It may seem like one of those luxuries "for people who have time" to explore the world around them. Learning about other cultures, discovering resources across the world or in one's own neighborhood, indulging in a rare type of food - exotic, no? But the more I discover, the more I realize that it is just this type of exploration that brings awareness & juiciness to one's own daily grind and offers opportunities to overcome challenges.

A random and specific example: I'm an avid reader. I could easily go broke in one afternoon at Borders, so I'm always looking for bargins on books, magazines, etc. I enjoy sharing this passion with my children. I was just reading a pamphlet I picked up (for free) at my son's school on "Kindergartners Learn To Read". It mentioned a checklist of valuable techniques to use, then stated that "This checklist is adapted from (a book)...Get a FREE copy at". A free book? Yippee!

Regardless of whether or not you enjoy reading or whether or not you have kids, the point is that there are billions of people out there with trillions of ideas. These ideas have culminated in actions, which many times end up as organizations, businesses, corporations, not-for-profits, world-wide charities, or your neighborhood mom-and-pop shop. There are people out there who have experienced challenges just like you have (really!) and found or created a solution, had passions and made something of them. They did the work. All you have to do is connect.

Be open to new sources. I went to a local Red Cross book fair and picked up a magazine called "HOW" that looked cool (but was focused on design which isn't my field). Lo and behold it is all about creativity (!) and although some of the techniques aren't my forte, I have already found some astonishing messages to inspire me in my own work. (Check out their website at : or blog at (I love the current halloween costume idea!)

Realize that the world around you is VAST. There are people, cultures, histories, futures, dreams, practicalities, organizations, blogs, web sites, t.v. shows, movies, books, lands, ...all stories being shared right now. They are as relevant to your own life, your own job, your own daily stories as you allow them to be. Stay disconnected and your life will remain that way. Reach out, listen to a few stories, and realize that every single second of your life is a wide array of stories webbed all around you. Go ahead, tug on a string or two.

Who knows where your life may go?

Monday, October 26, 2009

To What Are You Consenting?


I just read an article while mindlessly browsing online that stated that Paul Haggis (director of "Crash") quit Scientology after, I believe, 32 years as a follower. He did so because of their stance against gay marriage. He had written a letter to the "head" of Scientology and, after being promised the issue would be looked into, received no response. While I have my opinions on all of the former, it is not that about which I was most interested. It is Mr. Haggis' response in a letter to the head of Scientology that I found most fascinating. In it, he stated,

"Silence is consent".

I kept reading after that, but the phrase stuck with me. It seems to touch something that has been simmering within me for years - something that sometimes bubbles up but usually stays quite calm. Silence is consent.

First, let me note that I am not an "activist" per se for anything. While I firmly believe in some issues, I have found in the past that joining groups that promote an idea tend to be judgemental against those opposed to that idea. Even if it is with the best intentions that these particular activists enter into their wars, they are fights nonetheless. It is a slippery slope towards promoting ones own beliefs to judging anothers'. From here, the "you/me", "us/them", "right/wrong", "good/bad" divide just grows...and divisions, hatred, and wars arise. I will continue to share that in which I believe (when asked and sometimes spontaneously) but not at the expense of harming another. (Whole other blog post being tapped into here.)

Back to the original idea. Silence is consent. This blog has allowed me an avenue to share those ideas on which I usually remain silent...mainly because there's nobody listening. (I'm not going to share my deep fears of getting water up my nose with the cashier at the milk might spoil in the time it takes to flesh out the conversation.) Yet there are passions within me that pop up in the form of one-sentence thoughts as I'm drifting off to sleep (e.g. life is all a cycle, all of us express it in a micro and macrocosm...yeah, try falling asleep while thinking about THAT), take form through creative work, and find their way into the methods which with I raise my kids. I bring them to my yoga mat and during my runs and every once in awhile am fortunate enough to discuss them with dear friends.

Yet the rest of my life is so filled with noise that those passions - me, the unique embodiment of messages I am here to share, the thread I am supposed to weave through our quilt of time - remain silent.

I play with the volume probably more often than some. Through meditation, random thoughts in the car, journaling, etc. I find ways to turn up my shiny thoughts and ways to sometimes radiate those into action. I turn down the shoulds, the commercials, the expectations and enjoy the harmony of what is.

Far too often I consent to a life I don't want. Don't get me wrong - my individual life is pretty swell. I am fortunate in so many ways, blessed with love beyond my greatest expectations. But because I have those blessings (good health, food on my plate every day, shelter, money, ...) it is my responsibility to not ignore the fire that burns within me, those messages that cry out to be heard and spoken, the life that is mine to live.

I often realize that by not "speaking up" (from the small things like ignoring a piece of trash instead of picking it up to the bigger things like sharing my feelings (in a KIND manner) when someone speaks in a derogatory manner about another) I am not only doing myself a disservice but YOU as well. I have been oh-so-blessed to know, deep down, the beauty that I am (and thus, that humanity and all of life is). If I don't acknowledge that, live it, radiate it through every decision, I keep those around me in darkness as well. Only I can share what is in my heart (that which is unique to my being)...if I consent to living a life afraid of doing so, it will never (NEVER) be heard.

Day after day, choice after choice I will continue to examine this. Whether "speaking up" for my heart requires silence or kind words, action or inacation, I hope to deliberately choose (and simultaneously release into) my own life.

It may be painful to realize, but to what are you consenting? Deep breaths, small steps, and a smile...together we'll find our voice.

*UPDATE*: Even thought this kind of ruins the beautiful ending to this blog, I have to post - you know when you think about something you said and realize that it sounds WAY different in hindsight?? I shared this post on Facebook with the update "Silence is Consent". When I went back tonight and looked at it, ALARM BELLS & big ole' red flags went up.

To anyone who read this post and realized to what I am referring, I am so sorry. To those who didn't, let me clarify: In ANY type of intimate/sexual situation, SILENCE IS NOT CONSENT. I shudder to think of the severity of the meaning opposite the one I intended.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Where to start? About what to blog? What do I create? What workout do I do? What should the kids and I do on a brisk, rainy fall evening? What do I make a priority - updating my poor, neglected photo site, writing a blog, cleaning the quickly-cluttering house, chatting with friends I've missed, ...

Ok, I'm seriously so distracted right now that typing that last bit caused me to dash away from this blog looking for a phone number for a friend I need to call (no luck finding it 30 minutes later...perhaps house cleaning should take priority?!).

It is frustrating when nothing gets accomplished because I don't know where to start. I've always found progression when I start somewhere (anywhere!) but recently, even somewhere seems to be off my map.

It's not that I don't have anything about which to blog - just that I have too much and typing about one subject makes me feel as though I'm neglecting the rest (perhaps a more important idea!).

It's not that I don't have anything to create - it's that when I sit down, without an idea for direction and amidst a rather messy creation station I find myself staring blankly at all the cool tools in front of me.

It's the same for everything, activities, etc. Unfortunately this swirl has been going on for about a week or so and shows no signs of slowing down. I'm thankful for having choices and that keeps me in a (semi-)balanced mood.

So I'm using today's blog as a dumping ground - starting somewhere by typing something, not knowing if it really makes any sense. I share because I'd guess that at some point you may have been here, wandering in the forests of ToDo's, not even sure which path (if any) lead to a clearing. If I find you in here with me, perhaps we can sit for a minute and swap stories. Perhaps by so doing, we'll each be able to stand up, take a breath, and continue on our ways.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Working On Working Out

I did drop off for a bit before and during the Bridge Day trip. But I'm right back into it now. I post this for those who may be struggling with me to maintain a workout routine and/or train for next summer.

What I Did:

Monday (a.m.): Ran 30 minutes (~2.5 miles?)
Tuesday (a.m.): Superset & some core-strengthening exercises (~30 minutes total)

What I Learned:

*Pain is a great deal in the mind. I had a huge blister (ewww, I know) from Bridge Day. I was feeling quite off from not working out for a few days, however, and knew I wanted to do something Monday morning. So I decided it wouldn't hurt that much, applied padding & bandages, and off I went. You know what? It didn't hurt during the run! (I'm still baby-ing it right now to make sure it doesn't get worse.)

*Breaks from working out need to be moderated just as much as working out. Obviously it is smart to take a day off a week and to listen to one's body and not overdo it. But taking too much time off can make it soooo hard to start back up again.

*There is a difference between an excuse and a reason. And only YOU can determine which is which. It may even change over time! Cold weather may be a valid reason for not working out at one point. But with the proper dress & know how, cold weather may be an excuse for not working out. I'm constantly playing with my boundaries with this (was Bridge Day trip an excuse for not working out or a reason?). It is important, if you are in this process as well, to not let anyone else determine for you what is an excuse and a reason. Listen to your body, your intuition, become knowledgeable about your composition and what exercise can do to you (both beneficial and harmful). Do what you need to do based off your reasons, but try hard not to make excuses.

Back to my sick kiddo....

Monday, October 19, 2009


Ever feel like an imposter? A fake? It is not a comfortable feeling.

I mentioned I'd share some thoughts I had from this weekend...many of which are still swirling around. I'm grasping for time to sit, be, and record them before they slip into oblivion. This feeling of "cheating" is a strong one, calling out to be spoken first.

Food, Inc. First, check out this site and, if you have the opportunity, the movie. It is well worth watching. I'd been wanting to see this for quite awhile, particularly after missing an opportunity when it was shown in Indianapolis a few months ago. Fortunately, it came to a small theatre here in Bloomington. Chris & I took the kids to see it on Sunday.

The film is about our food, where it comes from, how we've lost touch with the whole process, and the effects that disconnect is having. (It was fairly balanced, including showing a family who ate at fast food because of the cost - they did a comparison showing how veggies were far more expensive at the groccery.) The showing was sponsored by our local co-op, of which we are members but rather infrequently visit. There was a round of applause at the end when the phrases, "eat local" and "eat in season" and so on appeared on screen.

When the movie ended it was time for dinner. How's this for a conundrum: We could either walk to FARM, a restaurant that specializes in locally grown foods or Chipotle (sp?), a chain that still focuses on naturally grown foods & hormone-free beef, but obviously gets its food from various non-local places. We've been to both before and knew that dinner at FARM, while delicious, would cost us at least double what Chipoltle would. It is also hit-or-miss as to whether the kids will eat at FARM. Thus, we chose Chipoltle.

Enter Guilt.

I truly felt like an imposter in the movie, knowing deep down I support the theories in the movie but when reality hits, I choose the cheaper, easier option. We rarely shop at Bloomingfoods (the local co-op) because of the prices...for example, Kashi cereal (which I eat a LOT) is easily $1.50 cheaper for the same cereal at Target. And yet, I clapped right along with the attendees at Food, Inc. How many went home and cooked dinner after that with foods they bought at the Farmers Market? How many went to McDonalds? I know what we did. I know that even though I "shouldn't" by many standards, I continue to feel guilty.

Bridge Day 2009. I got the cool, official red vest and the badge labeling me as "Staff". I had two cameras hanging from my shoulders. I hiked, squatted, bent forwards, backwards & upside-down, climbed, creeped, shoved, inched & got drenched all in the name of getting a good shot. Yet I felt SO strongly that I truly, 100% did not belong there.

It was driven home when around 2 pm, after 5+ hours of taking photos at the landing area & exit points, I moved to a certain area at the landing area to try for a different vantage point. Two gentlemen who were very high up in the chain-of-command at the bottom (who will remain nameless but one of whom I'd talked to at the beginning of the day) were right behind me. Whether or not they meant for me to hear the conversation I'll never know, but it went like this:

"What's SHE doing here??" (After I took only 3-4 pictures and snuck back to a different place,...) "Well, that's enough of THAT! *snicker*"

I have a very thin skin. I admit it. But with my insecurities I'd already been feeling that conversation was a gut-wrencher. Some who are reading this are probably thinking, Really? Wow. Why let it bother you?? My answer? Dunno. But like the song says, "I'm sensitive and I'd like to stay that way."

Both of these scenarios only lasted a few hours yet they provided an opportunity for me to examine myself on a much deeper level. Just when I think I'm becoming more comfortable with myself, situations present themselves to challenge me.

I really want to be ok with my variance.

I'm a girly-girl who painted her nails before this weekend. Yet I didn't mind a bit sitting on the ground & mucking through the mud to get the shot I wanted to get.

I have a fairly expensive (mid-range) DSLR & have attended several Photoshop conferences to understand the editing process. I've read several books on photography, chatted with and learned from people at the Bloomington Photography Club, and done non-professional photography for years. I know about framing, a fair amount about lighting, etc....Yet I truly don't feel that I understand photography in the technical-professional sense & don't have much of a desire to at this point. I feel as though I enjoy the art of photography more than the technical process (and yeah, I know the latter can enhance the former...I best stop before I type out the whole argument here).

I'm a vegetarian and strongly believe in the power of healthy eating & the impact of what / how we eat on our bodies, minds, and environment. I strongly dislike the disconnect so many of us have from the source of our food (i.e. its ultimate form of energy). Yet, depsite my repeated attempts & desires, I rarely cook. I buy processed foods. I enjoy Baked Lays. I frequent Jimmy Johns and Noodles & Company.

I have a tummy ache from typing all of this. These are some of my deepest fears, coming down to a very basic one of not being liked. Logically I know it doesn't matter, but the heart and emotions don't speak logic. When my inner opposites (which I can live with on a daily basis) are brought front-and-center for all to see (i.e. attending a movie supporting local eating then supporting an establishment which trucks in its food and donning an official staff vest at a hugely popular event with cameras in hand that have some functions I never use)...guilt, fear, anxiety all take over.

While it is uncomfortable in the moment, part of me likes being an imposter.

The more I put myself in these challenging situations, the more I am forced to speak up and act out for those opposites that comprise Me. I have to say, "I do belong here" and get the photo I want. I have to say, "I'm hungry & this is what we can afford right now" as I walk out of the movie theatre. I am forced, once again, to sit with the fire of fear and burn away those "shoulds" as to how I behave.

In so doing, I hope that I can continue to remind myself & inspire others to examine ourselves with every decision, to not be afraid of being judged, to do what you can in the moment and be happy with it.

Let us challenge ourselves to not ignore that which we feel (our connections to the environment, nature, each other) but to not judge that which makes us human as we stumble along, together.

Here's to realizing we are all indeed imposters in some situations...and in so doing, letting ourselves live in truth and without fear.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back From Bridge Day

I'm back from a very long weekend in Fayetville, West Virginia for Bridge Day 2009. I've been completely off the computer (not just absent from blogging) as I prepared for this trip..and, of course, have a lot to share now that I'm back. I'm still catching up on sleep, however, so it will have to be done in spurts.

I attended my second Bridge Day this year as part of the official video crew (Ben does AMAZING work. Check it out at ). (I also have to give props to Ben's wife, Meredith, and Heather who spent countless hours at the booth selling the photos. Combined with Alex, Rob, & Mark who also braved the weather to get shots of ALL of the jumpers, the video staff/crew are an amazing group of people.) I was there taking photos for Ben (for the DVD) & for my own personal use. (There was another group there for the "official" photos so I wasn't there taking any for sale purposes.)

You can learn more about Bridge Day - the largest extreme sports event in the world - at . While there are other events going on, the main focus is on BASE jumpers who parachute from the 876 ft. high bridge. This is the only day of the year that jumping is legal - the event generally lasts from 9am to 3pm. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Bridge Day.

This year was extreme by many measures...including the weather. It was in the 30's (high right around 42 degrees F), rainy (mainly misty but sometimes heavier), and even a bit of snow mixed in. It was cold, wet, and muddy...but it couldn't dampen the spirits of those adventurers who are exploring their lives in thrilling ways and those who enjoy soaking up the energy as spectators!

(And just to answer any questions that may come - no, I do not base jump. I have done skydiving and hope to at least do a few more jumps someday...but base jumping scares the crap out of me.)

I was quite fortunate this year - not only did the video crew obtain a rare and very valuable pass to allow a car down to the landing area (generally you take a bus down & up) but I also got a jacket that allowed me basically free-range of the landing area to get awesome opportunities for photos. I took several both from the landing area and from the bridge.

Being on my own for most of the day allowed a great deal of opportunity for thought..and trust me, I had some deep ones. Combine that with my favorite parts of the trip - the 7.5 hour drive each way - and I have some doozies to share! (I actually left after dropping off our son at the bus at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. I arrived in WV at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, woke at 6 a.m. on Saturday, worked Bridge Day, then left WV at 6:00 p.m. to arrive home around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning. WHEE!) Those will have to wait until I'm caught up on more sleep, though. For now...

I haven't sorted through all of my photos but here are a few to give you an idea of the day:

From the bridge - jumping! (I believe there were somewhere around 850 jumps this year)

One of many beautiful sites from the landing area.

There were several water landings (the actual landing area on the side of the river is a bit small...these are well experienced jumpers!). I feel quite sorry for those who endured the cold temps...only to end up wet and even colder. There are several rescue boats stationed in the river who get to the jumpers within seconds to help them out of the water...the staff of Bridge Day are AMAZING.

A photo of the bridge that encompasses the feeling of the weather of the day!

The bridge (taken from a much shorter bridge further down the river). The trees & the entire scene was truly breath-taking.

My feelings about (me) jumping.
(Nice official jacket, eh? This is me with FIVE layers on. I wasn't going for looks that day. Sadly, I lost that hat sometime during the afternoon and remained a bit cold after that.)

More thoughts & possibly photos to come! Hope you enjoyed your weekend as well...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When Life Is Easy & When Life Is Rough


Enough excuses. Enough blaming someone else. Enough feeling I can't, or I shouldn't, or even that I won't.

We randomly stumbled across a show on the Ironman 2007 last night. I CRIED. Ok, I'm a fairly emotional person, but this was truly touching. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26 mile run in scorching weather - among those who FINISHED this (including those beautiful people who weren't mentioned) were a man with no legs, a man who had nearly died 3 years ago in a car crash and had to be completely rehabilitated, and a blind grandfather. (A woman who was a newbie to the Ironman actually won for the women that year.) What in the world is my excuse??

I have journaled a lot recently (and need to move it here to the blog), but there is an angry fire starting in me. It is a strong one. It is burning away a lot of pain, a lot of fear. By necessity it is uncomfortable and forces me to take more still time (i.e. away from the computer, the dishes, even the kids) to be with the heat. But I don't want to put it out. I have an entire entry to do on this, but know that if you feel yours burning too...stick with it.

I also am embracing how effected I am by energy. I embrace that I am all energy - physical, mental, spiritual - whatever! - and that I am (for the good or bad) really influenced by that around me. A while ago I read some things on how to change that about myself (how to make yourself less influenced by others!!)...and tried without success. Now I'm glad. Instead of trying to change it, I'm learning how to work with it. While I'm still using various techniques to stop being affected by angry or indifferent folk around me, I'm LOVING the positive vibe effect...

For example, this morning I decided to do strength training. (A light bit of rain and 42 degree temps would not be fair to take my daughter out running in again...) I knew I wanted a bit more cardio, so I looked up "Triathlon Motivation" on YouTube. The videos I found on there got me through a heart-pumping, high pace 20-minute cario session on the elliptical. At one point I cried again. Yep, I admit it. I LIKE being able to feel this, to feel the pains and successes of little video people who I will probably never meet. I LIKE being able to translate that into my own energy, to use it to pump me through the next mental thoughts that I might stop. This is MY life, my little swirl of personal energy, and baby - I'm going to play by my rules.

If I feel like a nap this afternoon, I'm going to take one and deal with the consequences of procrastination (tomorrow I'll be running around). If I feel like watching 2 more hours of triathlon videos, I just might do it. But I will do it from motivation to rediscover who I am - to rest when I need to, find motivation when I need to, and MOVE to BE.

Enough blaming others, or the weather, or time, or responsibilities, or ANYTHING or ANYONE.


I'm going to go live some more. Au revoir - may you find the same energy today and reconnect with me along the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon

My schedule has turned into a jumbled mess. Those things to which I committed (blogging, training, uploading photos) all seem to have taken a back seat to....stillness. I had challenged myself to begin and commit to these things. I did. I stopped. The true test of my committment, of whether or not these facets of living have become who I am instead of just something I did, will be how long I stay off the wagon.

We all fall off every once in awhile. Be it a committment to healthy eating or some type of diet, living within our means, going to church, meditating, a yoga practice, a workout routine, reading to our kids, a project at's energies do not stay in one place in one form. Yet it is not the inevitable detours that define our path. Our path can widen to accept, include these detours - yet to truly be a path, we can only veer so far. We must, every day, redefine our path, ask where we are headed and why, and most importantly - be as present as possible to experience each and every step.

Because I have not blogged in 5 days does not mean my committment to this blog does not remain. Since the big walk-to-school day last Wednesday, I have done one day of superset strength training, one day of 20-min. of elliptical, and only one day of running. My eating habits have been less than stellar. Yet this doesn't mean I'm not committed to my health. I have failed to contact many friends, set up many get-togethers. Yet I love each and every one and if thoughts are any indication, they are with me even if not in person.

So here is my re-introduction, my jumping back on the wagon. It is a busy day as we need to run over to IU and I'm starting my preparations for leaving early Friday morning for Bridge Day in West Virginia. Yet I am finding time now and will find time later to update the blog, update my photo site, update my committments. I owe it to you, to myself, to our lives that continue to develop. I know I'll fall off again. And I know, again, I'll get back on.

Won't you join me?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Slowing Down

During our walk to Tyler's school, it was really driven home (hah - pun) how fast our general pace of life is.

We rush SO unbelievably much that a fast pace is now considered normal. Our cars go 50, 60, 70 miles an hour. We get upset waiting at a stoplight for over a single minute. Heaven forbid we need to wait more than a few seconds for the internet to respond to a click of the mouse. Cell phones silently ask us to be on call 24/7, packaged foods beg us to eat NOW, media outlets that report breaking news more than a few minutes after it happens are shunned as unreliable. Businesses operate year-round clamoring to be the first to find an answer to a problem (scientific, financial, global) but once it's found are already working on a solution to the next one. Thriving on competition, companies, politicians, countries hurry, rush, push to be the first, the best. Fashion operates one or two seasons ahead, Christmas decorations appear in stores in September, and financial gurus offer advice for decades ahead.


No wonder we suffer from so many stress-related diseases. No wonder we all have trouble even understanding what "living in the moment" means beyond a catch-phrase in yoga class. No wonder we can't fathom life without moving foward and making more. No wonder our bodies, our minds, our earth, and our societies are suffering as a result.

I completely understand that a great deal of the rush is built on the best of intentions. Who wouldn't want to work late hours to find a cure for cancer? Who would judge someone who is trying to give her or his kids a well-rounded, financially stable life and at least get food on the table? Who doesn't like to think ahead and - admit it - at least occasionally gets caught up in that adreneline rush of stress?

But in the midst of it all we have lost ourselves. In our push for more and better and faster and newer we've lost the soul that makes it all worth it. Slowing down and simplifying doesn't even seem possible for most people in today's society. Working fewer hours could mean a loss of a job which is loss of finanical support and health care and even shelter and food. Focusing on self-development could mean sacrificing security. Putting effort into simplifying life seems logically "off" - so no effort is made. Simplifying could mean letting go, at least at first, of material comforts, successes for which we previously strived so hard, and goals which still seem important. It is such a terrifying thought that many don't even consider it an option.

I remember one day when I was out by myself while my husband watched the kids. I realized towards the end of my trip I had forgotten my cell phone. Suddenly I felt very naked. What if something happened to them? What if something happened to me or the car and I needed to get ahold of them? What if someone had called - my mom, for example - and needed something right away? I ended up heading home early. It is a sad admission that I felt so lost without something that even a few decades ago would have been a luxury. Simplify my life by letting go of my precious cell phone? That SCARES the begeebez out of me.

During our walk to Tyler's school, our awareness of what IS was completely heightened. The trash alongside the road (there was a LOT of it), views we'd not been able to notice before, the speed at which drivers travel (40-50 MPH seems almost slow in the car but is frighteningly fast when being passed at that rate), the mindlessness with which most people drive...

(IMPORTANT NOTE: There was one gentleman who actually pulled over on the side of the road and asked if we needed a ride somewhere. We explained to him we were actually walking on purpose -- how kind was that?! And how odd and sad that people WALKING seems out of place.)

I honestly could go on for hours about all of this. I've read books on simplifying life, heard others touting the benefits, but honestly know of no one personally who has been able to completely do so to their satisfaction and very few who even consider it enough of a possibility that they are willing to give it any effort.

Simplifying and slowing down means different things to different people. I value many different definitions but, for me, it so often comes down to remembering and respecting life. It isn't about what we do, per se, but how and why we do it.

I challenge you, my lovely reader, to take just a minute - take a deep breath (yep, right now) and reflect on what it might mean to you. (Don't worry - I won't keep you long.) How does it feel to think about simplifying? Terrifying? A release? Easier or harder to breathe?

As for me, I'm going to simplify this post by ending it now.

Doin' What We Can

We're getting along, just doing what we can.

The other day it was raining off and on. Dilana and I decide to take an umbrella to the bus stop...but decided not to stop there. We brought one of her favorite fabric swatches and made a tent in which she could wait for her brother. It was a hit. I remember how much I used to love tents and am now thinking I need to rediscover that play time!

After not deciding one way or the other whether we'd take part, we decided the morning of to participate in International Walk To School Day this past Wednesday. Tyler's school isn't located in a neighborhood but by a major highway, so I'm pretty sure we were the only ones (or part of a VERY small crowd) who actually took part. (There were "Watch Our Walkers" signs posted all over town, but mostly applicable to the other schools.)

(Two very excited kids the morning of)

We'd driven our path the day before so knew it was a little over 3 miles each way. We left the house right after 8 a.m. We brought the jogging stroller for Dilana but incorrectly assumed Tyler would be fine the whole way. We knew we were in trouble when almost right out of our neighbhorhood he started complaining (but still wanted to make the trip)!

Between several stops trying to juggle the kids (carrying Dilana so Tyler could ride, trying to get them both in the stroller, switching off between Chris & I) took us much longer than we thought for the trip. We ended up with both kids in the jogging stroller for much of the trip & I even ran with them some of the way. (I got a bit concerned when Tyler's bus passed us heading back to the school.) I dropped him off at his classroom literally one minute before the final tone sounded to start school. (I'm not wearing blush in that was chilly!)

We tried a different path home (along the busy highway...which we thought would be shorter). It actually took us nearly 1.5 hours to walk home (against the wind and at a slower pace than our trip there). After nearly 2.5 hours of being on the road, all of us had trouble walking when we got home. (Poor Dilana's legs had apparently stopped working from being in the stroller for so long.)

The road back home was a long one. At least there were signs for the first few hundred feet out of the school parking lot (because that's where all the homes & traffic are, right???)

Chris & I decided to treat ourselves to massages that night (knowing he'd be working two 13-hr days the following days). Well worth it.

I am thrilled that we did it (Tyler even asked to walk to school the next day. I ever-so-politely refused). I had a GREAT deal of insights throughout the walk, which leads to another blog entry...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Get Out Of Bed?

Last night I thought I'd try a little YogiTea - "Meditative Time" before bed. I'd swear it is still with me.

While I still had a bit of trouble falling asleep, I didn't once venture out of dreamland last night once I finally made it there. This morning it was SO hard to get out of bed. Probably due also in part to the rainy day, I've been dragging aaaalllll day.

I often wonder - what is it that gets people out of bed in the morning? A sense of obligation or desire? I'd guess 90% of the population would answer the former (gotta get to work or do this or that).

My goal is to make my life morning after morning of waking and gently rising out of passionate desire (even if I do still hit the snooze button a few times). I may still have things I "have" to do, but it will be my attitude that determines the reason for waking. (Kind of like waking up while on vacation - its generally way more enjoyable than a typical Monday.)

On a different note, it was quite an out-of-the-ordinary day. Chris had the day off so we ended up picking up Tyler from school & heading straight to a movie (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs...I would definitely recommend it). Home for dinner (just soup...we had enough popcorn at the movie!), baths, and bed. It is now 7:30 pm and that tea is softly calling my name again...I must be sleep deprived.

(I guess I'll find out -- Dilana & I started as participants in a research study this morning where we are both wearing Actiwatches, which measure our activity & sleep. This is a fairly involved study where we'll be wearing these for a week...then taking part two more times over the next year. Gotta love science!)

Jumpy jumpy on the topics: Lots of creative ideas swirling around as I already think about Christmas & giving. I'll have to blog on this later, but my creative boom is definitely getting me more in a mood for the holidays this year...and thinking I might start giving before - & keep giving - after!! thoughts before I drown myself in nappy-time tea:

What I Did:
(Tues a.m.) 20 min. on the elliptical (fairly high intensity)

What I Learned:
*I slept in thinking I'd skip working out this morning (see above for lingering tea effects). BUT My body & mind really craves it too much now to let it go. It was too dark (& rainy) to attempt cycling before our IU researcher's visit at 9:30 so I'd already talked myself out of that...but I simply couldn't skip doing something. So at the last minute I broke into a fervent cardio workout...then paid for it by running around trying to get the house ready after. I REALLY hope that that natural craving doesn't go's kind of like my body is its own trainer now!!

*Chris is starting to kick my butt in this whole thing. He went - rain & all - during our IU appointment to Clear Creek trail & walked/ran (30 minutes). YEA hubby!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Warming Up!

Quick note this morning - I'm so pumped!

It is quite chilly outside (see-your-breath kind of chilly). I'm still achy from strength training & still full of sniffles. And yet..

I warmed up for 90 seconds, ran for 3 minutes, walked for 60 seconds (up a large hill), and then RAN THE REST OF THE 25 MINUTES! And STILL made it back in time to meet Chris & the kids at the bus stop! (Running towards my son who was waiting with open arms was an awesome way to finish...) I'm SO HAPPY! I don't know the exact distance but it was close to 2 1/4 miles. (Triathlon will be 3.1 miles.)

This has been a goal for awhile (being able to run the whole time...I'm totally ok with not making it up that first hill. Hey - I need another goal to reach!).

You know what I did - here's what I learned:

* Cold weather bites the lungs. It was really rough those first few minutes as I was trying to run up the hills out of our neighborhood while fighting those stabs every time I took in a breath. I'm sure this is another area in which people train & one I'll get used to.

* I LOVE YOGA. I am so glad I trained/am training in it. Besides the body awareness it offers me, I'm also aware (at least more than I would be otherwise) of my thoughts. (See next note). The body awareness makes a huge difference. Something as simple as pulling in my core muscles when I noticed I've let them go or focusing on putting my heel down first and letting it "pull" me along can get me several extra minutes of run time before I feel sluggish again. Being aware of the intricacies of my body gives me ample ways to adjust my workout.

* THOUGHTS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. This is true throughout life but ever so evident in running. If I start thinking about how tired I am or how much farther I have to go or how cold it is or how this or that hurts...I know that it is only a few minutes before I give in and walk. If I'm thinking about the beautiful fog settling over the fields or the inspiring music or the fact that I'm DOING it or adjusting my technique...I end up running for 25 minutes. :) This could be a whole blog on itself (and maybe will be soon).

* I am a unique person and I love that about myself. I used my IPOD this morning. Try to picture this: I'm running & admiring the beautiful, tall plants tickling my legs as I brush past, the stunning fog drifting over the fields, drink in the sun when I turn a corner and it seems to carry me over the next hill, smile at the cute billy goats who are mildly standing by watching me run past...all while listening to, "Blue Monday by Orgy, Closer by NIN, Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue, The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson, Nobodys Listening & Breaking the Habit by Linkin Park, Twisted Transistor by Korn, Wind it Up by Gwen Stefani, Whatever by Godsmack, and Toxic by Britney Spears" (the second part of a random playlist I put together about a year ago). I must say I know of no one else who could honestly share that last paragraph about themselves. And I love that I feel comfortable sharing that. :)

* I will always be a girly girl at heart. There was a final hill to conquer before a nice downhill sprint towards my son waiting at his bus stop. I wasn't sure if I could make it. Wind It Up (Gwen Stefani) was on and amidst a fun beat were the lyrics, " come on girl you know you own it you know your key is still tick tockin' you know they're watchin' ..." Heh heh....I blasted up that hill with a smile on my face. I may be a 30-something mommy on the outside but my college-girl-dance-floor-lovin' self still sings on inside. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just Keep Swimming

Taken today at this place (in Bloomington, IN):

(Color editing via Photoshop CS2)

I think I'll print out the first image as a reminder for myself - both on a metaphorical and, while training, literal level!

Creative Aging Beauty

I've come across a few things recently that I'm so tickled to find! I've read countless places that when you see something you love, don't question purchasing it (within reason, of course!). I tend to hold to this tenet when the purchases are a few dollars or less....any more than that & I'm more tempted to think of why I love the item & how I can create it at home.

One treasure I discovered at a local antiques store a few weeks ago:

This is a date stamp that runs from the years 1972 - 1977 -- the last being the year I was born. I haven't even used it yet...I just love looking at it! I'm excited to use it in some work soon. (I love stamps because they can be used & reused ... I don't feel anxious about making the one piece perfect.)

On that last note....

My favorite find yesterday at the Red Cross Book Fair was discovered during a last minute run through their clearance section. I have long admired the collage work others have done with aged book pages, particularly those printed in French. However, the thought of tearing apart a book - any book, but particularly an old one - tears at my heart!! I think I found an opening, though...

This stunning book was $ .50! I love just holding it in my hands, the smell, the texture. It is missing its cover & is quite worn as you can tell from the photos. And it is in French! (I'm kind of impressed with the little bit that I can still understand.) If I recall, the publication date is around 1918.
Because of the bright green sticker on the front page that will probably tear it further when I take it off & the condition of the book, I THINK I'm going to attempt my first collaging with aged papers using this book. I'm SO excited to discover the results but still anxious about tearing out that first page!

Anyone else who uses old books run into this fear?

For a little more fun, here's an art journal page I made a few weeks ago with a printed photo, aging ink, stamps, paint, gesso, & mod podge. (I'm still learning how to photograph doesn't quite capture the actual page.)

Anyone else done any fall works yet?

Catching Up

What I Did Yesterday:

Nada. Zilch. Zero. At least as far as blogging goes. I was right in the middle of the worst part of the illness - fever & all.

During the day, I was determined not to let it get to me. I figured I could either suffer at home or be out and suffering. My hubby was off work & I really wanted to get out of the house. We went to the local book fair & lunch...but by the afternoon/evening I was exhausted! We came home and did dinner & a movie (Monsters Vs. Aliens) while I cuddled under a blanket. All plans for blogging that evening went out with the tissues.

Today I woke up and could still feel it but was oodles better! So today was a day of gently easing myself back into healthy living. Once again I have so much I want to share!

It seems appropriate to start with the healthy-path /triathlon training update.

I'm quite proud of hubby & myself...we both woke up & worked out first thing this morning! This was the first time we've both attempted to strength train at the same time - thank heavens we know how to share.

What I Did:

(Sat. a.m.) Superset (strength training) (approx. 35 min.)

What I Learned:

* Trying to increase amount of weight used while recovering from being sick, no matter how much my mind craves it, is NOT a good idea.

*I'm noticing an increase in strength which is quite yummy!

*Ok - big admission here. My weight has actually gone UP a few pounds in the last month. This is a true test of my loyalty to my belief that I'd rather be healthy & feel fit then weigh less & be skinny. I know that muscle weighs more which probably accounts for some. I also started medication a couple of months ago that has probably increased my weight some. It is SO SO hard to watch the numbers go up on the scale. But I do feel better...that is what I am trying to focus on. I don't want to be too shallow, but.....*sigh*.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It (*sniffle*) Was A (*sniffle, snort*) Good Day

I'm a bit unwell. My nose started running around 5 pm tonight and hasn't stopped since. I think all I'm doing is reasonable but I also feel like my head is so inflated it lifted me off to la-la land. So I apologize in advance if anything sounds a bit kooky.

I realized I haven't updated you lovely folk on my health-pursuing a.k.a. triathlon training progress. So here's a quickie:

What I Did:

(Tuesday a.m.) 9.3 mi. bike ride. / ~ 34 minutes
(Wednesday) rest
(Thursday a.m.) 30 min. / 2 + ? mi. run (indoor track, ran 17 laps...I'm too out of it to calculate right now. I did run/jog for 10 minute blocks of time!!)
(Thursday a.m.) ~15 min. in pool working strictly on breathing

What I Learned:

*I LOVE bike riding. I did discover how fatigued I could get particularly when the wind is strong. Suddenly aerodynamics really did matter! Still, I loved the ride and am already anxious to get back out. I rode on the trail again so my confidence in being able to handle the bike around people (and eventually cars & the like) is growing.

*I'm discovering why most people I know who are runners like running outdoors so much more. I always thought there was nothing wrong with running indoors (it is warmer!). Today it was 50 degrees during the time for my run and I was chilly...but I actually regret not taking the outdoor trail. I got bored & found myself needing to rely on my music more than I usually do to keep me pumped. (Not good as in the triathlon I won't have music!) Running outdoors, whether on flat ground or not, is at least change of scenery & beautiful mother nature giving you the thumbs up.

*I have to start WAY slower on the swimming component than I thought - but if I do, I'll be OK. I just allowed myself confidence-building time today. The YMCA pool is usually so busy that every lane has to be shared. I felt odd asking to share someone's lane but just admit I wasn't going anywhere...just working on breathing. I stayed in the shallow end with my face in the water and....breathed. (I like to at least feel professional when I'm dorked-out in my googles & swim cap. The whole "I-can't-really-swim-I'm-just-here-to-put-my-face-in-the-water" thing kinda gives it away & makes me feel doubly dorky.)

(The following lesson is way more detailed - I include this for anyone who may be where I am on the path as either a "heads up!" or an "I'm right there with ya!")

*I had a beautiful "ah-hah!" today with the breathing / swimming. It isn't necessarily the "blow-through-the-nose-into-the-water, turn-head, inhale-through-mouth, face-back-in-water, repeat" scenario that gets me. As I started playing with cycling my feet while breathing and holding onto the wall & kicking while breathing, I realized my body /head drops further into the water when I'm not standing. (Yep. Mrs. Obvious here.) That combined with the extra fatigue from exhertion is where the problem starts. I can't turn my head as far when it s down further in the water...but I also need to turn it more often as my breathing rate increases. The exhalations cause bigger bubbles when I'm breathing harder, causing the water to be choppier when I turn my head, causing....the dreaded water up the nose!!! AUUUGGHHH! I choked a couple of times.

Let me tell ya. That is SEXY coughing up water with goggles & the swim cap while standing in the shallow end of the pool. Oh yeah. Dream about it later.

But....I DID IT. I ran, I got in the pool, I did it.

(I love how yoga is applicable in every situation ... I was able to work on focusing & calming myself down at least a bit to slow my breathing. I KNOW this will be vital on race days, particularly in open water, when my anxiety is soaring.)

There is motivation galore floating around this house: Chris just got home after a full day of work (7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).....and went for a run. (I'm SO proud of him!)

I wish I had more to share but my balloon head just popped & I think I bruised my bum when I fell back to my chair. I'm (*sniffle*) going to (*snort*) go rest. (*ka-CHOO*)

p.s. I'm going to try and add a cute story before I jump off of the computer to the Day Of Awesomeness Blog. I hope it comes out coherent.