Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July


It's July. July!


I've been away from blogging for way too long. The dashboard tells me over three months. It doesn't seem like that long. Yet it seems like much longer.

I sort of dropped out of the habit of recording my thoughts and dreams and goals and directions in this forum when I dropped into the mindset of "I'm not doing anything worth writing about." That was just an excuse, of course. Because during the time I've been away, I've read a myriad of blog posts from all over the place on the most mundane subjects imaginable. I read a blog post entitled "Why I Make My Bed Every Day." Until the end. It wasn't even written by Martha Stewart. And I still read it. When I finished reading it, I thought "That was surprisingly well written and persuasive." (I don't need to be persuaded. I make my bed every day. I just don't feel the need to share that bit of info with everyone.)

Therein lies the problem. I haven't felt the need to share.







































For the last few months, I've been writing. I've been filling pages in journals and 3 subject notebooks. I've been making my beloved lists on scraps of paper and computer printouts and posting them on an ACTUAL bulletin board, rather than a pinterest board. I've been reading voraciously. I've been walking around in may bare feet outside, lying in a hammock, and riding my bike around just for the heck of it.

I guess I just needed to be a bit introverted for a while.

But now…now I feel like dipping my toe back in. I miss the habit. I miss the sharing. I miss the community.

In 2013, I discovered another community -- the thru-hiker community -- where I felt like I BELONGED. More so than any other group I have been a part of. Lately I have felt the pull of community. I've missed the small-- but somehow intimate, quirky, and cool -- community of bloggers I got to know so well when I was a regular blogger. I want to get to know you all again.

So happy July! And hello again.





Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Addictions

MARCH ADDICTIONS

I have noticed, time and time again, that blog posts tend to repeat in a cycle. I'm not talking about having a posting schedule where you do certain kinds of posts at certain times of the week or month. I mean that during certain times of the year, I (and others, I suppose) fall into particular moods or mindsets. And the pattern continues as the year progresses.

Take, for instance, my addictions for March. I'm pretty sure if I scrolled back to addictions of Marches past (which I could totally do, I'm just too lazy, so I will continue to speak of it hypothetically) I would find the exact same addictions. Which would be slightly different from February's, and very different from Augusts. It's just that time of the yearly cycle to be addicted to:

1)  TEA

I like a nice cup of tea any time of the year, be it of the hot or iced variety. But I'm positively swimming in it at the moment!

2) FLEECE

This weekend, we had our first real thaw. Temps were in the high 40's and the sun was shining. Everyone was out, walking around, in a good mood, saying hi to everyone else as if we all lived in a Disney movie. But then the sun went down. And it was time to wrap up in fleece once again.

Today alone, I have worn, at some point, fleece socks, fleece PJ's, a fleece bathrobe, a fleece jacket, and a fleece hat. I'm under a fleece blanket as I write. Spring cannot be here soon enough!

3) PARENTHOOD

The TV show, not the lifestyle. Parenthood the movie, upon which the TV show is based, is one of my most favorite movies of all time. It has a great cast, is extremely well written, and makes me laugh and cry each and every time I see it. I was pretty skeptical when I heard there was a TV show. I stand corrected and converted. I have been streaming back to back episodes courtesy of Netflix and just like the movie, I find myself both laughing and crying underneath all my fleece.

4) SPINACH

I've been on a huge spinach kick lately. Spinach in my smoothies, my salads, my lasagna, and sometimes all by itself. Yummy!

5) GROUP POWER

I'm generally a run, bike, and swim kinda gal, with independent weight lifting thrown in there for good measure. But after my February slump and my overall winter blahs, I needed something to motivate me to work at the gym. Enter group power. Cardio, weight lifting, and a little dancing to classic rock all rolled into one. What's not to like?

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Goals

March is funny: the past three days, everybody is talking about how "spring is coming." And technically, they are right. The first day of spring is on March 22, and daylight savings time is this coming Sunday. Technically, they ARE right.

But in reality, this is New England. No matter what the calendar says, step outside and its winter. Every single year, during the April snowstorm, everybody acts as if it's some kind of natural disaster. Like we didn't have a snowstorm last April. Or we won't have one next April. We will. It's New England. Spring comes in May.

Regardless, I still feel like March is the month to get moving! After the February slump, it's time to do double time to be prepared for race season (or hiking season, as it were). March is the month to really set some goals!

MARCH GOALS:

1) Make the move. Preferably somewhere south. Where spring comes in April.

2) Exercise daily. And get my butt back in the pool. I've been slacking on swimming!

3) Pick a big race and register already! I tend to be very deadline motivated. No deadline, no motivation!

4) Take the downsizing up a notch: sell off the furniture.

5) And speaking of hard to get rid of stuff: 6 more books read and given away.

6) Eliminate the junk food. Did I mention I've been eating not only comfort food but junk? A lot of it. I got some healthy snacks and a bunch of snack sized zip locks to carry them in. (I seriously need to buy stock in Zip Lock!) Now to implement!

7) Another girl's nite!

8) Get taxes done!

9) Complete online class

10) One long snowy hike!

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Goals

On February 28th, every year, I have the exact same thought: "Wow. February is the shortest month, but it seems like the longest month." It's like groundhog day 26 days later.

February is the absolute hardest month in terms of motivation for me. The newness of the January 1st resolutions have worn off, but the summer is too far away to have any real effect. Plus, it's cold. Really really cold. And snowy.

I've shoveled more times this February than I care to count. (and we are supposed to get another foot on Sunday night)  *sigh* That's what February does to me. Even on an Olympic year.

So basically, this is just a very long winded way of saying - My February Goals? are a complete fail.

FEBRUARY GOALS

1) 28 day HIIT  plan plus cardio: Ok, I'm gonna give this half credit. Because guess what? HIIT every day for 28 days is not a good idea. I know this intellectually. But as with all of my ill-founded ideas, it started with my getting all psyched up and not knowing where to draw the line. 28 days of HIIT is over the line. As is replicating a professional free style snowboarder's workout routine (also a HIIT program). The end result? Injury.

The upside? This unfortunate incident put me back in the slow, form-driven weight lifting mindset. I really really like lifting weights when my mind isn't all crowded with tabatta and HIIT and multi-plane functional movement exercises. Sometimes (for instance post injury) you just have to execute a no-nonsense weight program and some sensible cardio to get you past the February hump. And cut yourself some slack for calling an hour of shoveling snow "good enough for today's workout."

2) 1 new recipe per week: Again, half credit. I made two yummy delicious soups I found on Pinterest. Big ol' pot of soup on Sunday, freeze and eat many times over. However, sometimes life throws you a curveball that can upset even something as wholesome as Sunday cooking.

(Ever have a roommate who freaks out if you cook with garlic?) Yeah. Well, luckily my plan is to move soon.

3) Continue Downsizing One Thing per Day: Still doing it, still oddly fun. A few years ago I did this same challenge and posted each day what I got rid of. Really didn't feel motivated to do that this time around. There are a lot of organizational blogs out there that can make the description of cleaning out a sock drawer actually entertaining. I fear that as much as I enjoy clearing out my space, I'm not obsessed enough to make others join in my reindeer games. But I did make a lot of trips to the thrift store.

4) Secure Travel Job for March or April: Licenses? Check. Applications in? Check. Response? blank. I'm still waiting. That's okay. That's what February is for. Waiting.

5) Go skiing 2x this month: Epic fail. Not at all. I did go cross country skiing with my friend and got a taste of not only skiing myself but assisting with cross country sit-skiing. (she has a spinal cord injury) Do I count this as skiing? No. That wasn't my goal. But it was my reality.

6) Get cute Valentine's Day gifts for the nieces and nephews. Check. They really loved the gifts. And I got this out of the deal:


7) Read (and get rid of) 6 Books.  Read 5 1/2 books. Got rid of 5. Not too shabby.

8) Take off some of the weight I put back on: Ok, I was going for 6 pounds, I got rid of 2. But considering that it's February, I'll take it!

9) Post 23 times this month: Um, THAT didn't happen. Can I blame the Olympics?

10) Girl's nite out with J and S: Change that to girl's nite IN, and we'll call it a winner.

And now on to the much more motivating MARCH!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

To Russia with Love

The Olympics are officially over and they have left me with an unexpected side effect. (No, not my injury. Or my other injury. Those were pretty much expected.) As the closing ceremonies ended, I realized that much to my surprise, I had fallen in love with Russia.



It hasn't always been like this between me and Russia. Far from it. In my life goal to visit every country on earth, Russia didn't even make it to the top ten. Though that's not Russia's fault. With countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland to contend with, Russia just didn't stand a chance. It was like Jason Brown -- wonderful in his own right, but never seriously in medal contention.

Russia isn't a popular surfing or yoga destination like Costa Rica or Bali. Russia isn't known for its rollicking parties like Brazil. On line travel agencies don't send me emails enticing me to climb Mt. Elbrus. (But oh, Kilimanjaro, someday you will be mine!) And on my one and only trip to a Russian restaurant left me thinking "Clearly the growing season in Russia is very short."

In my formative years, Russia wasn't even Russia. It was the very scary and very dangerous Soviet Union! The Red Empire. The dark side of the force. The cauldron of bubbling scorn that hid behind the iron curtain. Or so I was told by the media and since I hadn't yet been forced to read George Orwell is school, I believed every bit of it. Russia was scary. I wouldn't go there if you forced me.

Yet even if I didn't go there, I still wasn't safe. Russians were always pretty good at Biathlon. So all they had to do was strap on some skis and a backpack full of weapons. Then it would just be a short jaunt from Siberia across the frozen Bering Straight, past Sarah Palin's house, and south through British Columbia. Those evil Ruskies could invade at any time!

Fortunately, it would only take a high school football team lead by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen to defeat a legion of Russian spies, but still! That's scary stuff. (Plus, Boris and Natasha were virtually uncatchable)  Even by a championship team like the Wolverines!



Of course, since the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, "the crazies who hate us because of our freedom" sort of leapfrogged for a while….Japan, China, France, India….before settling down on the Arabs. Or the Muslims. Or Arabs who are Muslim. And also people who are neither Arab nor Muslim, but live in countries that end in -istan.

Whatever. The point is, Russia was pretty much forgotten.

And then came Sochi. And suddenly, thanks to an exquisite opening ceremony and a moving closing ceremony, I no longer think "Russia: cold, gray, drab." I think "Russia: ballet, literature, art. Tolstoy, Chekov, Tchaikovsky, Chagall. Classic, beautiful, graceful, understated." 

Russia now has me feeling those romantic stirrings in my heart  feet. I have that familiar desire to walk along foreign streets, amongst the achingly beautiful architecture: St. Isaac's Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, Kremlin Palace, Smolny Convent. I want to experience the wonderful art and and culture that was hidden for so long behind a veil of sameness. I want to know the history of this country and these people once so grand, and then subdued, and once again -- with such great potential. And such pride. I now think "Russian: such a proud country." 

So congratulations Russia! You hosted a successful Olympics. You topped the medal count. And you made my list. I look forward to knowing you more.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympic Injuries

The Olympics are currently in full swing, which in my world means one thing for sure: I am injured. Whenever the Olympics are on, I hurt myself.

It's not my fault! Ok, it is my fault. I have been trying for years to figure out how to blame the athletes, the announcers, the network, and the commercials. But the truth is, I have nobody to blame but myself.

It's always been this way for me. From the time I was just a little Jeepgirl, riding down the basement stairs in a plastic sled with my brothers until just last week when I tried to duplicate a training plan outlined in alluring videoclips on a commercial for an official-Olympic-sponsor, I watch the medals ceremonies with a package of frozen peas on some body part.

It always starts with the same sentence: "Hey! I bet I could do that!" The reality is quite different. I cannot do that.

Those darn Olympians, they make it look so easy! All those world class athletes who train for 6 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for years on end are very well conditioned. Not only can they perform super-human feats, but they can do so smoothly and in control. Even the wipe-outs look choreographed and well orchestrated. I can't help but stare at the TV screen as the replay is superimposed over the live image of a medic sledding some Norwegian down the mountain and say "I could do that! I know I could!"

If the action in question was writhing in pain while being carted to the medical tent, I'd be right. Otherwise, not so much.

One year, after watching Evgeni Plushenko doing a warm up, I practically tore my rectus abdonimus right out of my body! I spent the next 5 days walking around like Quasimoto. (and that was just his warm up!) Another year, after seeing a training video of Apolo Ohno, I strained my medial collateral ligament and my knee swelled up like a softball. This year, it was Jamie Anderson and my rotator cuff tendon. I should know better by now! Yet somehow,  I don't.

OH! Then there's the summer Olympics. Don't even get me started on the training techniques of Bella Karolyi and their effects on my body throughout the years!

Every once in a while, though; every one in a  GREAT while….I pull something off. That's what keeps me trying. I'm looking for that elusive athletic feat, accomplishment, trick that  is-- in fact -- just a trick. Sometimes something that looks spectacular  is in reality not all that spectacular.

The summer I was 12, my best friend and I spent countless hours standing on the top rail of the swing set and executing the Olga Korbut flip. Successfully. It was actually way easier than it looked! (Way less dangerous than indoor bobsledding.)

Of course, that was when I was 12. Today, as I sit watching snowboard cross with frozen vegetables on my shoulder, I am making a vow NOT to climb the nearest swing set in 2016.  It may not be that easy now. And I'm sure Olga Korbut has been blamed for enough concussions already.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oh, Sundays...

Sundays have become one of my favorite, if not my favorite day of the week.

Over the past few weeks, I have fallen into a regular Sunday routine. It started a couple months ago, when I went to the gym. I overheard another gym-goer as she came out of the group exercise room. "That's how I get my prayer in on Sunday. First I dance to celebrate life in Zumba, then I reflect, stretch myself, and become quiet for a while in yoga." I was immediately sold.

So Sunday mornings find me in the gym, doing Zumba and yoga, followed by a nice walk down by the water. Sundays are also the day I go grocery shopping. My current apartment is only a couple blocks from the grocery store, so I can sneak in a little more walking and outdoor time to and from grocery shopping. I've been spending Sunday afternoons in the kitchen, chopping, boiling, cooking, and assembling the meals for the week. (I tend to be a grab and go kind of girl during the week) It doesn't completely guarantee that I'll stay clear of junk food, but its something!

Once the meals are taken care of, I pull out my day planner and review any uncompleted tasks from last week, finish up what I can, and schedule the week to come. Since I'm working a couple different jobs right now, each week looks different. It's kind of nice. Keeps me on my toes. I really need to keep that day planner up to date!

I've also tried to set aside time each Sunday to get a little reading in. I have been pretty on track with downsizing my giant book collection this year, which means I'm reading quite a bit. It's a little luxury to put aside 30 to 60 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to read.

Sunday late afternoon, early evening are just about the only time when my nieces are consistently home. So I've tried to make a point of going over to see my nieces. My sister in law has recently been trying to treat some health problems in a more natural way, so we have been trying out some new recipes together on Sunday afternoons. This week, it was roasted winter vegetables. Next week we are trying a gluten free pizza crust recipe. (Since transitioning to gluten free, her sinus issues have cleared up significantly) Plus, I am always saddled with the task of proof reading term papers. Its a job I love!!

And then, Sunday night is for plowing throughout the Nextflix queue (or for the next two weeks, watching the Olympics)

Productive and restful all rolled up into one. Sundays are great.