uh, hello? are you there?

You know how in your early twenties you gave your phone number to a cute guy and then jumped every time the phone rang for the next few weeks, hoping it was going to be him?  And after not hearing from him for about three months, you gave up… and then were shocked and ridiculously thrilled when he called one day – out of the blue – like six months later?  And he acted like there hadn’t been this huge gap in time that you kinda wanted an explanation for?  And before you knew it, you totally forgot that you spent a few months trying to convince yourself that he was all wrong for you anyway and agreed to go out with him?  Remember that?

Yeah, I’m totally doing that with my blog… Time just kept getting away from me and then enough time passed that it just felt awkward and forced… and I almost just deleted it so I would stop feeling guilty, but then I’d think that maybe it could work out.  And now, finally, I’m picking up the phone…

So can we pretend that I haven’t been mostly absent for nearly a year?  Because I’d really like to get to know you again… Wow, I’d forgotten how blue your eyes are.  And your hair – you’ve changed your hair!

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Posted in news and misc updates., stuff that provides job-security for my therapist. | 5 Comments

winning!

Last weekend, I ran with a friend who is struggling to hit her stride in training… both physically and mentally.

As we were nearing the finish of our run, she told me that she used to be an athlete.  She played a sport in high school/college for which she easily excelled… with very little effort.  She went on to say that she’s a pretty competitive person and that it really bothers her that running is not an area where she can reasonably compete.

I’ve heard these words before.  Not from her… from myself.  I struggled with the very same thoughts for years, knowing that not only would I never win a race, but I would almost always be at the back of the pack.

In fact, I allowed it to keep me from signing up for (and – more importantly – participating in) hundreds of races over the years.  I didn’t want to be the slowest one out there, I didn’t want to appear awkward and pained as graceful ladies went flying past me…  I didn’t want to lose.

But here’s the thing… I did lose.  I lost every single time I let my negative thinking, my fears, and all my insecurities talk me out of doing something that I wanted to do.  I lost the chance to prove something to myself… I lost the athlete that is often buried below my penchant for beer and Mexican food… I lost countless opportunities to make new friends… and I lost out on the joy of encouraging other women.

I’m not sure what flipped the switch for me after years of signing up for races, but being too frozen by fear of failure to actually get out there on race day…  But about 7 years ago, I finally realized that even though I might cross that finish line red-faced and wheezing – long after the beer-truck has closed – that I AM competing and I AM winning.

The medals that are proudly displayed in our “exercise equipment storage room” at home are not tokens of my physical strength… they’re tokens of my mental strength.  They remind me that I’m winning the race against all the negative thoughts swirling around in my head; telling me that I’m not an athlete… that I’m too old… that I’m too clumsy… etc, etc.

I may not win that race every time either, but I’m suiting up and putting my toes at the start line most days… and that?  is winning, chickies.

 

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Posted in caution: blonde thinking., girl-pow-ah!, hobbies that keep me out of a jail cell., I gotcher motivation right here. | Leave a comment

top ten list for marathon/half-marathon race advice…

A friend of ours is running his first half-marathon this weekend, so his lovely wife emailed me to ask if I had any advice for him.  Some of these are probably hard-lessons that he’s already learned on training runs, but just in case – I sent this list:

  1. Be careful how tight you tie your shoelaces.  I gave myself a stress-fracture by tying mine too tight on a series of long runs.
  2. Trim your toenails!  If they’re at all long, you risk losing them (I lost 2 after my first Half).  It also helps to make sure you have a larger toe-box for your distance shoes than your short distance shoes.  I wear an entire shoe size larger in my running shoes for that reason.
  3. Have a back-up hydration plan for race day – either carry something or have someone meet you at certain points along the course to provide water or sport drink.  My first Half course kept running out of water at the hydration stops and I went for 3 critical miles needing water – which killed me.
  4. Watch your time/distance and make sure you are using your energy gel/gu/whatever as often as you did on your longest run in training.  It’s so easy to get distracted by the crowd and get out of sync on that.
  5. If your name is not already printed on your bib, print it on your shirt or on masking tape on your shirt.  Strangers along the course will yell out your name in encouragement and you’ll be surprised at how much of a boost that can give you.
  6. Don’t use any new gear (shorts, shoes, etc) that you haven’t already tested out on a training run.
  7. Bring flip-flops to put on immediately following the race – your feet will swell and getting out of those socks/running shoes will feel like heaven.
  8. Don’t look down at your watch as you cross the finish line… if you’re timing yourself, reach down to stop your watch as you cross and then check it after you’ve gotten past the finish line.  Otherwise, all your finish photos will be of the top of your head.
  9. Try to read all the home-made signs along the course… I have literally snort-laughed at some of them and it’s a great way to take your mind off the pain and/or remaining distance.
  10. Have a blast and whatever your time, remember that only a small fraction of the population ever even attempts this… let alone finishes!  You are a rock-freaking-star!

What do you think – did I miss any major bits of advice for a first-timer?

 

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Posted in hobbies that keep me out of a jail cell., I signed up for this!, yikes, this is going to hurt tomorrow. | Leave a comment

he beats me every time…

I mean, in the gift-giving sense, not in the “call the cops because my husband is in a stained white undershirt, giving me crazy eyes” kind of way.  haha.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day and I’ve spent the last few days furiously brainstorming for a really cool gift idea for my husband.  Mostly, because I love him and want to make him feel special on this day of love and overpriced cards…  But also, because he is way better at gift-giving and I want to win at this (imagined) gift-giving competition. 

It’s true that my husband is insanely smart and all kinds of wise, but he’s also adorably creative… 

A few years ago, he bought a pad of construction paper and spent the afternoon making hearts with rhyming clues that I had to follow to find my goodies…

A few years before that, he gave me an adorable retro lunch box filled with 100 grade-school valentine’s day cards and candy…

A few years before that, I received a home-made bookmark that listed off all the things he loves about me… shush, it was a huge bookmark.

And most years, he sends me wonderfully elaborate flowers at work and then patiently listens to me as I rattle on about my flower-shop days and how insane it always is to buy roses at those crazy v-day prices… but he knows… he knows that I totally love it anyway.

Even though we’re hours away from the holiday, I’m still hoping to come up with something that will knock his socks off… maybe he’d like an acupuncture session?  Or a commissioned song?  Maybe an extravagant motorcycle accessory?

Hmmm… Or maybe, he’d prefer if his wife wasn’t an overly competitive dork and would just enjoy the holiday without making it about who wins the gift-giving competition.  Oh sure, that’d be easy… pffft.

Happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

Posted in stuff that provides job-security for my therapist. | Leave a comment

a random act of kindness…

Yesterday, something really cool happened to me… I was the delighted recipient of a total stranger’s random act of kindness.

I sat in grueling meetings all morning with my head practically exploding from the volume of information that was being thrown at me to process.  Everything was going at a painfully fast pace and we were pushing well past a comfortable lunch time for me.  When we finally hit a reasonable stopping point, I rushed out of the conference room to my car before anyone could delay me and drove to the nearest restaurant.  I walked into an insanely crowded place, but since it was just me, I sat at the bar and quickly ordered my lunch.

And then I took a deeeeep breath… and another one… and another one.

The fog was finally starting to lift in my head as my food arrived.  By the time I finished my meal, I felt like I could probably force myself back into that conference room for the remainder of the day.  So I asked for my check…

And that’s when it happened.

The bartender smiled brightly at me and explained that my check had already been paid by the gentleman who had just left with his take-out order.  I vaguely recall the man walking in, saying hello to everyone within earshot, picking up his order, paying, and walking out.  I do not recall him saying “hey lady – pay attention – because I’m going to buy your lunch and I’d like you to know it and have the chance to say thank you now before I leave”.

I do not recall that because it didn’t happen.  He quietly asked the bartender if I had paid my bill yet, when the bartender said no, the man said that he would like to pay it and did so discreetly and then left.

I was stunned…

I don’t know exactly why that man bought my lunch… but as I drove back to work, feeling uplifted and joyful for the first time all day, I wished I could tell him that he had absolutely made my day.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford my own lunch – it had nothing to do with the money.  It was just the happiness and relief of realizing that decency and kindness is not completely lost.

I was so happy about my experience that I posted about it on Facebook.  Within minutes, so many people had responded with “yay” type comments .  So then… I wished I could tell that man that he not only made my day, but he might have possibly made all these other people smile as well.

And then, math nerd that I am, I started running numbers on the explosion of goodness and how far-reaching it could be.

See, I think that no matter how stressed, frustrated, etc we all get… most of us would still love to make someone’s day.  We just get caught up in our own heads and forget that simple things – like holding a door, letting someone into the flow of traffic, giving a compliment to a stranger, or yes, even buying a stressed-looking nerd-girl lunch – can have HUGE impact.

Have you been the delighted recipient of a random act of kindness?  Have you thought about paying it forward?  What would the world be like if we all committed one act of kindness a day?  Or even a week?  A month?

 

Posted in news and misc updates., you CAN teach an old blonde new tricks. | Leave a comment

making peace…

Okay, so I’ve had this love/hate relationship with food pretty much my whole life…  I loooove good food, but often feel guilty for enjoying it because I know that I should be far more careful about what I eat than I am.

I was walking back from dinner tonight and passed a Walgreens that had this “Eat Well Beautiful” in the window:

I walked another block and passed the Lululemon store that had a sign in the window “How will you practice peace?”

I walked another block and came to the door of the Sprinkles Cupcake store… I walked inside and asked for a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing, but no sprinkles.  The girl behind the counter said they only had one left and then pulled this little beauty out for me:

I’m pretty sure I just made peace with good food tonight… 

Happy New Food Year – what will YOU do to make peace this year?

Posted in food... it's what's for dinner. um, and most other meals too., on the road again. | Leave a comment

a bottle of wine, a stack of magazines, and a pair of scissors…

Late yesterday afternoon, I started a project that I’ve been meaning to get to for months, but finally made time for…

Ever heard of Vision Boards?  Yeah, it’s sorta new to me too.  I first heard of them when Biggest Loser at-home winner, Heba Salama, posted hers on Facebook.  It looked like a fun scrap-book project (you had me at scissors and pretty paper) with a healthy amount of positive visualization rolled in.  I would post it here, but it’s not mine to post…

I love goal-setting and using fun tools to motivate myself, so I started digging around online to learn how to make one of my own… And finally found this quick “how-to” on Lululemon’s website.  How fun, right?  And then… I got busy with life, and our house, and wasn’t feeling especially artsy or craftsy anyway, so this project fell to the back-burner. 

I had nearly forgotten all about vision boards until I ran into a lady in the airport that had hers copied and pasted onto the cover of her day-planner so she had a visual reminder every day, everywhere she went, of the things she wanted for her life.  I asked her about it and the lady sitting on the other side of me chimed in that she does them every year as well.  She said that she gets together with a few girlfriends every New Year, cracks open some wine, and starts whipping up a vision board for the new year (in lieu of making resolutions).  I loved that idea and decided to set the same tradition for each New Year. 

So yesterday –  armed with wine, a stack of various magazines (Runner’s World, Outside, Men’s Health, Shape, Cosmo, and miscellaneous garbage magazines), and some scissors – I sat out on my sunny screened-in porch and started my first vision board. 

I flipped through all the magazines and looked for any words that jumped out at me or any pictures that made me smile, pause, or daydream.  I also dug through my pictures and pulled out a couple that were taken when I felt totally happy and like I was living the life I wanted to right at that moment.  And then I weeded through my scrapbooking papers to find the paper that I love, but will never use in a book because I didn’t want to cover it with pictures.

It was surprisingly involved, but I finally assembled everything on a framed cork-board tonight.  I put the scrapbook paper down first and then arranged my pictures… filling in around everything with the words and pictures I had clipped from magazines. 

If I had it to do over, I would (a) not trim the words until I was placing them so I didn’t make them too small for the space (b) use temporary scrapbooking tape instead of a glue-stick that didn’t allow me to move things around once I stuck them down (duh!).  I’m pretty sure it won’t win any prizes, but I love it all the same…

The photo at the top was taken when I took my first real sabbatical a couple of years and was finding my joy again after years of work-stress, the photo of Erik and I on the left was taken on our trip to Italy when we did the sunset “walk of love” in Cinque Terre, and the photo of Erik and I to the right is from my “birthday do-over” right after we moved to Houston – I had an amazing day that day and it was only improved by a fabulous dinner with my husband.  Every time I look at any of these three pictures, my heart just feels happy.  I included some magazine pictures words about running, blogging, being sexy, and living intentionally.  This is a year that I want to feel lighter… both physically and mentally.  I want to laugh more, love more, make a difference, and feel no regret.

What do you want for yourself this year?

PS – You guys may already do this, but as I was going through all of my magazines, I ripped out the perfume samples so I can use them when I travel instead of just letting them go to the recycle bin in the magazines.

Posted in hobbies that keep me out of a jail cell., I gotcher motivation right here., I heart biggest loser | 5 Comments