Thursday, October 31, 2013


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Advice for My Younger Self

It's Wednesday! And that means it's time to join the party over at MamaKat's  for the weekly writing workshop.

This week, I chose the prompt: If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in just 2 words?

Growing up, I was always the good girl. I did everything I was supposed to do, never questioned authority figures, and never raised a fuss. I praised for how quiet I was and how I never caused trouble or drew attention to myself.  I could often be found playing by myself in an out of the way corner, both at home and at school. When I finished my school work (always early) I went to the "self learning" section of the classroom and diligently worked my way through all of the self learning programs, then I moved on to reading all the books on the bookshelf. At home, my mother would often look throughout the house for me, saying she didn't know I was home.

"You are as quiet as a mouse," I was often told. I was quiet because I thought I was supposed to be. I thought I was supposed to blend into the woodwork and pump out perfect paper after perfect paper. That's what good girls did. That's what made people happy.

It was only when was older, out of my childhood home, and in a completely different setting that I began to question this wisdom. Is it really admirable to sit quietly in a corner and never draw attention to yourself? I used to think so. Now, not so much.

If I were to give my younger self two words of advice, it would be Go Big! Sitting in the corner, never asking questions, "being quiet as a mouse" are all just a form of playing small. Even though I was excelling at school (and at sports), I never allowed myself to enjoy it. I never celebrated my successes nor did I allow others to call attention to them, either. I just tried to be perfect and then retreated once again to the corner.

You can't Go Big if you are sitting in a corner. You can't Go Big if you never speak up. You can't Go Big if you are more concerned with making others happy than you are with making yourself happy.

I look back upon my younger self and I wish I had taken more chances. I wish I had allowed myself to experiment. I wish I had allowed myself to fail.

I never failed.

I  thought not failing was admirable. But maybe it was because I was too afraid to try different things. Maybe it was because I stuck only to things I knew I was good at. Or maybe it was because I just didn't want to draw attention to myself.

The good thing is, it's never to late to Go Big. I've had a lot of fun in my adult years experimenting, taking chances, and failing. Most of the time, the failures are only temporary, anyway.

So even though I played small when I was younger, I have the rest of my life to Go Big!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I like kale. I like spinach better. But I don't really have to choose between them, do I? The vegetables aren't going into a bidding war for my taste buds so there is room for everyone.

Spinach is sweet, like many vegetables that satisfy my sweet tooth: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, something not orange. Kale is more bitter, which is nice, too, but doesn't have the same appeal to my sweet sensitivities.

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while ago, but like most other things I find on Pinterest, I basically pinned it on a pretty board and forgot about it. Tonight, I decided to actually use one of the recipes when I pulled out a nice big bunch of kale I picked up at the market this week. It doesn't run from kale's bitter flavor -- it actually celebrates the bitterness and complements it with vinegar, mustard, and tart apples.


1) Coarsely chope 1 and a half pounds of kale, removing ribs.

2) Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add kale and cook until bright green, about 1-2 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3) Add 2/3 cup water, cover, and cook for 3 more minutes.

4) Stir in 2 sliced granny smith apples. Cover and cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes.

5) In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 4 teaspoons brown mustard, 

2 teaspoons brown sugar, and 1 pinch salt.

6) Add the mustard mixture to the kale, turn the heat up to high and boil for 3-4 minutes, uncovered.

Yummy! I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish. If I make it again (and I probably will) I think I'll put the apples in later so they stay a little crisper, not as mushy. But overall, a thumbs up to this recipe!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Training for Life

After the finish of the big hike in September, I had this bizarre idea that I was invincible. I thought "Hey! I'm in great shape. My endurance is off the charts! I'm gonna put that endurance to good use and run a marathon in October! It'll be cake!" Afterall, when you are used to putting in 20 + mile days back to back, one unweighted 26 mile day on flat ground seems like nothing.

Plus, I figured that since I was used to working out for 10 to 12 hours per day, it would be very easy to transition over to much shorter workouts with a much higher intensity. I'd keep the weight off, build some muscle, and increase my speed, strength, and power. By the end of the year, I'd be like an Olympic athlete. No problem.

There were a few flaws in my plan. Aside from the glaring oversights that 1) very few people have even the remotest of chances of becoming an Olympic athlete and 2) at age 43, my window of opportunity for Olympic-like status has pretty much closed, I had also forgotten about two very important concepts of fitness training: specificity and recovery.

Specificity refers to the concept that the way you train will determine the physiologic changes that take place in your body and thus the functional improvements that result. When training for speed, your training activities will be performed at a high velocity and intensity so as to produce improvements in the type II muscle fibers. When training for endurance, your activities will be more of the long slow distance variety targeting type I and type IIA fibers for improvements of aerobic capacity at lower speeds. In other words, train like a sprinter and become a great sprinter. Train like a hiker and become hiker trash.

So...yeah, I was used to putting in 20 mile days back to back and one unweighted 26 mile day on flat terrain would have been easy. If I were walking. Running 26 miles on the other hand? Would take some training. In running shoes. While running. No marathon for me in October.

And the high intensity, lower duration workouts I jumped into? Left me really, really, really sore! It was like I had never worked out in my life. Because essentially, as far as my muscles were concerned, I hadn't worked the elements of high level force production and power in 6 months. I may as well have been sitting on the sofa, eating Doritos. (Ok, not really. But I was essentially asking my muscles to perform in a way I hadn't asked them to perform in 6 months and wondering why they were protesting)

And speaking of protests, my feet were protesting even louder than my leg muscles! For the last --oh -- month of the hike, my toes were completely numb and my feet swelled up at night. I had gone up one full shoe size because of the chronic swelling in my feet. Even with my nightly use of compression socks, icing, and self massage. When I got home, I said "I'll wait until the numbness in my feet goes away, and then I'll be ready to hit it hard!"

It reminds me of treating patients after sports injuries or surgeries who would see that their swelling was down and assume they were ready to go back to unrestricted play. "Oh, no!" I'd tell them. "That was just step 1. The acute swelling is down, so now we have to rehab the underlying injuries and the muscle imbalances that contributed to the injures -- step 2. Then we work on conditioning to get you back in shape for your sport --step three. Then you work with your coach and athletic trainer to go from practice and scrimmages (step 4) to unrestricted play (step 5). You can't skip the steps! You run the risk of getting re-injured!" (Wow, I thought I was informative, but in actuality I was a little self-righteous, wasn't I?)

When it came to me, I completely disregarded my own recovery! That 6 week long inability to feel my toes? Was an overuse injury. (Metatarsalgia to be exact. With a pinch of plantar fasciitis. And a dash of achilles tendonitis.) I waiting until the swelling went down, and then tried to jump from step1 right to step 5. Without the proper strengthening and conditioning. (Wow, I thought I was being diligent, but in actuality I was being a bonehead, wasn't I?)

Even in the absence of an injury, a recovery period is a vital part of the training program. Triathletes don't complete an Ironman and then do speed workouts the next day. Runners don't finish a marathon and plan for hill repeaters in next week's training regime. Olympians don't step off the podium with plans to hit it hard the next day. And for good reason. Good athletes know that they need to recuperate, both physically and mentally from all the hard work of training and the hard intensity of their event. Post event workouts are more generalized, less intense, and at a much lower volume in the recovery period. It give the body a much needed rest and prevents burnout.

Luckily, even though I can act like a complete bonehead sometimes, I am good at listening to my body. So even though my head was saying "In hiking the intensity is so low!" my body was saying "Yeah, but the volume is so high!" My body needed rest.

So this October, there was no marathon. There was trail running, walking, and road running. There were bootcamp style workouts and there was rest. My really, really, really sore muscles were allowed to take the day off instead of pushing through the pain and fatigue.

I let go of my illusion of being like an Olympic athlete by the end of the year. (But no my plans to watch the winter Olympics when they are on next year!)

In November, I'm striving for more consistency and building on a nice, solid fitness foundation. Life off the trail takes a lot of athletic prowess!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ideal Environment

Week Four of The Artists Way asks you to imagine your ideal environment. What is your dream space?

Unlike many I know, my ideal home is not a giant mansion; nothing they do shows about on HGTV. I just would like my own little nest, a nook I can cozy up in.

Something small and simple. Easy to maintain. Spots for my stuff, but nothing flashy. 

A cute little cottage

Or cabin

Or yurt!

'Cause living indoors makes me miss the stars

Wouldn't it be great to camp forever, yet still be cozy?

Maybe what I really want is this:

Oh, how can I expected to settle in one environment when adventure calls?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Artist Way -- week three

Week Three of The Artist's Way has you doing a little exploring of the side of yourself you show the world versus what you really feel inside. (It reminds me a little the Friends episode where they say "What does Rachel claim is her favorite movie?" Dangerous Liaisons. "What is her actual favorite movie?" Weekend at Bernie's)

One of the exercises is listing people who admire.... like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, or Anderson Cooper. Now stop. Who do you really admire? Like Russell Brand (who, let's face it, just puts it all out there, unapologetically. And who is actually really smart if you listen to him.) or Adam Sandler (for pretty much all the same reasons) or Jen Lancaster. (who is just about the funniest person on the planet) Apparently, being funny is pretty high on my list of admirable characteristics. I thought I'd have more athletes on that list.

Now, name three people who have died who you wish you had met like Hellen Keller, or Theodore Roosevelt, or Margaret Thatcher. Ok, but who would you really like to have the opportunity to spend some time with in the afterlife? Like Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain. 

You know that famous question about having the opportunity to have a dinner party with whoever you want, living or dead? I'd want a dinner party that had good conversation, smart banter, and above all, a lot of fun. Since its a hypothetical scenario, I wouldn't have to clean up. How great would the conversations be at this table?

1) Oscar Wilde
2) Dorothy Parker
3) Gertrude Stein
4) Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows
5) Russell Brand
6) Adam Sandler
7) Mark Twain
8) Ernest Hemmingway
9) Margaret Thatcher
10) Oprah
11) Larry Flint
12) Janeane Garofalo 
13) John Stewart
14) Stephen Colbert
15) Anderson Cooper

and just to make sure there's never a dull moment at this table:

Bill O'Reilly.

I'll be at the end of the table, watching the fray with the Dali Lama. Because I think he'd really get a kick out it, too. (though his translator would have a really hard night!)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Once again, its time for the Weekly Writer's Workshop courtesy of MamaKat. I do like these little assignments!

This week, I chose: Talk About an Experience Where You Felt Humbled

In looking back over my life experiences, one thing that stood out for me is how those experiences that leave you humbled more often than not also leave you empowered.

This year, I can pretty much divide my life into three distinct phases: phase 1 -- before hiking, phase 2 --the hike, and phase 3 -- post hike. Each phase held a big decision, a big challenge. Each was pretty humbling in its own way. And each was empowering in a different way, as well.


When I made the decision to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail late last year, I figured the big steps had already been taken, so to speak. I had decided that this was something I had wanted to do for a long time and damn it, I was going to do it! Period. End of story. Hooray for me.

Then I actually had to take action.

Writing out a letter of resignation and actually quitting my job was harder than I thought it would be. Not because of the logistics of living without a paycheck for 6 months. That was the easy part. No, actually taking action and quitting made me face, head on, all the struggles and conflicts I had faced in this position.

Like any job, this one was riddled with challenges-- the majority of which had little to do with my core responsibilities. Always a problem solver, I jumped head first into resolving the issues and making everything work seamlessly. It wasn't that easy. But I had always believed that when things were difficult, you just had to try harder, work harder. So I tried harder and worked harder. And things did not change.

When you have always believed that there is nothing you cannot do, if you just put your mind to it; if you have always been able to succeed at anything you tried, it comes as quite a shock when you try and try and do not succeed. In taking the action of actually quitting, I had to come to the humbling realization that no, I cannot change the world single handedly.

And then a weight lifted from my shoulders. I cannot change the world single handedly. I was never meant to.


Any sane person would already know. When undertaking a 2200 mile long hike across 14 states, it would seem to reason that I should expect it to be hard. And I did. Sort of.

I expected long days. I expected sore legs and feet and arms. I expected to be hungry and cold and tired. I just didn't expect so much of it!

And I didn't expect the rocks.

I hiked over non-stop rocks from the middle of Virginia until Massachusetts. Then, after a brief reprieve, they started up again in New Hampshire and continued on through Maine. I discovered something: I'm not great on rocks. I have to go slow. I have to carefully pick my way over the rocks. And I was acutely aware of my short little hobbit legs the entire time. I had a hard time keeping up with some of my hiking partners. And my feet hurt so much! This was so much harder than I thought it would be.

I, along with many other hikers, kept asking "When does it get easier?" Short answer: it doesn't. Just because we put in all that hard work in the states we thought were hardest doesn't mean the trail got easier when we thought it should. You have to keep working hard whether you are prepared for it or not. (It's true of life as well, not just the trail, isn't it?)

I have to say that to this point, hiking the Appalachian Trail has been the most humbling as well as the most empowering experience of my life. Though it was non-stop difficult, it was also filled with amazing views, amazing people, and of course, the wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end.


When I was preparing for the hike, I read a lot about the difficulties people had to adjusting to "real life" after spending 5 to 7 months living outside, hiking all day. To which I thought: "What a bunch of rubbish!" These people, I surmised, were just rationalizing their own laziness!

Imagine my surprise when I had so much difficulty adjusting to living indoors! (The air indoors is so much dirtier than the air outdoors!) Plus, the humbling realization that I just can't jump right back into my old life.

And the empowering realization that I don't want to.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oriental Stir Fry Carrots

Fall is still spectacular, and the farmer's market is still brimming with wonderful produce. I'm loving the weather and the food.

This week, I picked up a lovely bunch of carrots.

Normally, I would prepare both the root part and the greens for eating, but after 2 days in the fridge, the greens were looking wilted and not too enticing. (I need to clean out the refrigerator.) In any case, I cooked just the carrots themselves. No matter, they turned out delicious!

Oriental Stir Fry Carrots

1) Cut 5-6 medium carrots into medium thick slices

2) Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat in deep fry pan. Add carrots and cover, cooking until soft, about 7 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, in small bowl measure 2 tablespoons white vinegar. (I used white balsamic vinegar which was this gorgeous amber color!)

4) Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and one minced garlic clove and whisk together.

5) Add sauce to pan with carrots and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes.

The finished product

And it tasted even better than it looked! Fall rocks. And so does the color orange!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sad Weekend

This past weekend was very strange for me. Extremely disconcerting. And very sad.

Last weekend I drove out to the town I went to college in and met three friends from college. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and it was nice to see them. It would have been even nicer under different circumstances.

We met at a benefit dinner for one friend's younger sister. Her sister has been battling a very rare and aggressive  form of cancer. She has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for 30 weeks. They plan on continuing for another 24 weeks. She has been experiencing terrible side effects from the treatment: nausea, weakness, intestinal bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, sores on her skin, losing her hair, and a plethora of others. She has had days where she cannot hug her small children, for fear of catching their "sniffles." And her prognosis is poor. They do not have on record any patient who has lived past 6 years of diagnosis.

She looked so little and frail.

She is 37 years old.

I see her, and I can't stop thinking of her as Jane's little sister who came to visit at college with her curly curly hair and her baggy sweatshirts. How we would all cram into Jane's room and bring snacks and watch movies with her little Roz. How we would tease her and make her laugh, though she pretended to be mad. How she said she couldn't wait to go to college. And now she is dying.

It's easy for me to say, since I'm not in her situation. I'm sitting at home, safe and sound and healthy. I may think differently if I were in her shoes. But I don't think I'd do it.  I don't think I'd undergo 54 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. I don't think I'd want to spend the remainder of my life in hospitals, hooked up to IV's. I wouldn't want to be nauseous and weak. I wouldn't want to be told not to hug my nieces and nephews.

It seems so backward, the way we approach chronic illness. We surround ourselves with toxic chemicals in our homes, our yards, and our water supply. We eat foods loaded with artificial ingredients. Even the "natural" ingredients are genetically modified. And then when we get sick, our bodies are pumped full of toxins aimed at destroying rapidly growing cells. They are very non-specific in their effects and end up weakening the immune system; our body's defense against illness. And making us sick with their side effects.

It just seems like there has to be a better way! Shouldn't we be focusing more on preventing chronic illness -- limiting the use of toxic chemicals in our homes and our environment? Eating cleaner food? Strengthening our immune systems? It just seems like common sense.

And what about me? I made a big decision to change my life completely -- quit my job and pursue a lifelong dream because I said "Just because my life isn't broken doesn't mean I can't fix it." Then decided failure wasn't an option. Yet applying "Just because I'm not sick doesn't mean I can't get better," I fall short. I allow myself  to rationalize when I fall off the clean eating wagon. I opt for more toxic solutions because they are easier or more convenient. I let failure be an option. Even though the stakes are much higher. Where is my common sense?

We -- I -- get so many things wrong!

But we did get at least one thing right.

Roz and Jane both were so happy we came. They were genuinely touched. "It means so much to have friends surrounding you when you really need them!" they said. And for a little while that night, we sat together and made little Roz in her baggy clothes, minus the curly hair, laugh and laugh. For a little while, it was like we were back in college, crammed in Jane's room, having the time of our lives. For a little while, everything was good.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Scariest Thing Ever

Once again, a post inspired by MamaKat's writing prompts:

Name something that scared you when you were young....are you still scared?

The first time I remember being scared -- really scared, waking up from a nightmare shaking and covered in sweat -- was when I was 6 years old. I saw an advertisement on TV for 'Salem's Lot. The ad was on after my bedtime, and I was pulling the ol' peek-around-the-corner-of-my-bedroom-door-to-watch-some-forbidden-TV. Well, that certainly showed me to sneak out of bed after my bedtime!

The ad showed a vampire floating in the air, surrounded by fog in an eery bluish moonlight. Unlike other vampires I had seen on TV, this one was not a count: a cape wearing, old fashioned, almost cartoonish vampire complete with a medallion, an ascot, and a glittering blood-red ring. This vampire was a boy. A boy of about 12 years of age, skin ashen, eyes bloodshot, his curly hair disheveled (his mom not around to make him comb it), a bewildered expression on his face as he begged his friend to let him in the window, to help him understand what had happened to him. Yet, beneath it all was an evil glitter in his eyes; he knew exactly what had happened to him and he yearned to take his friend down with him.

The sight of a boy vampire shook me to my very core. Monsters were supposed to be old, dusty relics who appeared in black and white movies on the Creature Double Feature on Sunday afternoons. Not -- kids!

I had nightmares about the boy vampire for months.

Fast forward to today. You may think that the scare I got when I was six may have turned me off to horror movies. But you'd be wrong.

I love horror movies! I love scary horror movies, campy horror movies, funny horror movies, even really bad B-horror movies. In October, I scan the movie channels looking for good horror movies to watch. (You have to sit through an awful lot of bad ones to get to the good ones!)  Every so often, I see one that is genuinely scary -- one that makes me consider keeping the lights on when I go to bed.

But never one that has scared me so throughly as the commercial I saw from around the doorjamb when I was six.

Maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sauteed Beets

As much as I love summer, fall is a nice way for summer to end. The weather is beautiful -- warm during the day, crisp at night -- the foliage is gorgeous, and the farmer's market may actually be even better!

Last week, I went to the farmer's market and picked up, among other things, a bunch of beets. They looked and smelled just delicious. Ok, maybe looking delicious is an overstatement, as they are a root vegetable and they were covered with dirt and little stringy roots sticking out all over the place. But they did smell great and looked like they could be delicious with a little work.

Of course, once I got home, I realized that I had no idea how to cook beets.

Thank goodness for Google! I googled away and found a yummy beet recipe. Even better, it used the greens and stems from the beets, as well. I like cooking the greens on root vegetables whenever possible. It just seems less wasteful.

Sauteed Beets and Greens

1 bunch beets with greens attached
2 TBSP olive oil
1 clove garlic
pecans or walnuts
sunflower seeds

1) Cut stems and greens from beets.

2) Scrub and peel beets.

3) Cut into 1/4 inch slices.

4) In large frying pan, heat 1 TBSP olive oil and 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Add beets, cover, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

5) While beets are cooking, wash stems and cut into 2 inch pieces.

6) When beets are tender, add stems, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

7) Peel and dice garlic. Add to pan and cook until fragrant.

8) Chop greens. Add to pan and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

9) Divide between 4 bowls. Sprinkle with nuts and sunflower seeds.

Yummy! And once the dirt and stringy roots are removed, don't the beets look delicious? What a great color! Word of caution, though: beets stain. Wear an old crappy shirt when making this. Trust me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trail Running Trial

Yesterday, I decided to go for a hike. It's been about a month since I completed my thru-hike and though I have been walking on roads and on beaches, running on asphalt and dirt, and doing bootcamp style workouts outdoors, I haven't been hiking. I miss it. I feel like something is missing from my life.

To tell the truth, my present workout regime, geared toward re-gaining what little speed I once had, isn't working out exactly the way I had planned. I hit the workouts hard and fast for about a week and a half. Then, all the problems that had plagued me during the last month or so of hiking started coming back. My toes started to get numb again. My body started to ache all over. And I was just SO TIRED!

I figured I needed to listen to my body and take things back a notch. I reduced the speed of my runs, I reduced the frequency of the boot camp workouts. I turned about half of the plyometric moves into low impact moves. I felt a little better.

But I missed hiking.

In southeastern Massachusetts, where I live, there are very few hills and absolutely nothing that would even remotely qualify as a mountain. The closest decent sized hill is about 45 minutes away at the Blue Hills Reservation. I was going to visit my brother and his family this weekend and decided to stop off and go for a hike on the way there and again on the way home.

He lives close to some conservation land where there are some trails and hills. I have a guidebook with suggested hikes rated as "mild", "moderate", and "strenuous." I decided on a strenuous hike, thinking that without a full pack, it would be pretty moderate.

I could not have been more correct! I wouldn't rate that hike as strenuous at all! It barely qualified as a hike. (I think 5 months of ridiculous terrain has skewed my perspective!) I mean, it was beautiful. (The foliage is in full swing and the leaves are falling in big drifts all around) It was relaxing. (Why is it so much easier to breathe in the woods?) It was good for the soul. (Hiking in the woods is like going to church. But better.) But strenuous? Not by a long shot. I was almost bored.

"I could actually run this trail!" I thought. And so I did.

I did not run fast. I did not run far. In sections where the rocks were loose or the soil was eroded, I switched to walking. But I did run.

And I fell in love.

I was never interested in trail running prior to this. I figured marathon training on the road was plenty. I kind of considered trail runners to be hard core lunatics with a thing for self torture.

Now I see how much I was missing out on.

Today I'm not sore or tired or numb. I'm just floating on a high that comes when you discover something totally wonderful and totally new. I'm looking up trails online. I'm planning more runs.

Trail running just seems good for the body, and good for the soul.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In the Between

Right now, I'm nowhere.

For the last 6 months, I knew exactly where I was, from the milage completed and the milage to go, how far to the next water source, the next campsite, the next resupply. I knew what my ultimate destination was and what I had to do to get there. Every day when I got up, I knew exactly what I was doing.

And then I finished.

Now, each day lays out before me without a definite plan. I have things to do; job searching, renewing certifications, reconnecting with family and friends, downsizing, exercising, blogging. But my activities seem disjointed. They seem to bear little connection with one another. And if I don't get to something today, well, I can just get to it tomorrow. No consequence. No rethinking the overall plan. No putting in double effort tomorrow so I don't fall behind. It sounds liberating and free.

It's not.

Even though I said my plans for the next three months were to have no definite plans, even though I like living in uncertainty, even though I purposely am targeting short term and per diem jobs in my search instead of permanent positions -- I still feel a little lost. I still feel like I should have a more concrete destination.

Part of the problem, of course, is that I don't have my own place yet. I'm entirely too old to be slumming with the parents, but after 6 months of no paycheck and an irregular income now, getting my own place is a little out of reach. But its hard not having your own space. And when your tentative plans involve moving on in 3 months or so, is even pursuing an apartment worth it?

And then there is the big elephant in the room. The guy. Who lives in a different time zone. And doesn't have a job right now, either. And has no idea where he will be working once he is employed. Could be Illinois. Could be California. Could be North Carolina. Could be Toronto! I do have a way to get a temporary job wherever it is he gets a permanent one. You know, just to see. Cause sometimes all you have in common is a mutual experience and when that experience is's over.

Or then again, maybe it's the beginning.

But I don't know. I'm living in uncertainty. Floating along in between maybe and I don't know.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Phun Photos Phriday

This is what happens when you spend a lazy afternoon on the beach:

This is what happens when you take a walk around on the grounds at Kripalu:

And this is what happens when you leave your phone unattended around an 8 year old:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Artist's Way -- Week Two

Chapter two of The Artist's Way is titled "Recovering a Sense of Identity." Most of the exercises involve looking at your life, figuring out where your time is going, listing things you enjoy doing, looking at the last time you did those things you enjoy, etc. Basically, examining whether your life truly reflects who you are as a person deep down.

It's rather hard to apply this when your life is presently in transition, as mine is and have no job, as I don't. Then again, it's kind of fun, to see how many of those things you can fit in when you have all the time in the world. (Excepting the job searching time. The party's gotta end sometime!)

One exercise that's kind of fun:

If you had 5 other lives to live, what would you do in each of them?

1) A Dive Master: I really do enjoy scuba diving. I have both basic certification and advanced certification, but I did not continue past there, since I was intimidated by the dive rescue aspect of the class. I'm pretty secure in the first aid aspect of the rescuer course, but the scuba equipment is really heavy! I can barely haul myself up onto a boat after a dive, never mind hauling somebody else with all their wet gear onto a boat when they were injured.

Now I know that I would not be doing everything all by myself. At the very least, there are two staff members on any dive boat, plus the other divers who could assist. I would be able to take care of anything I needed to take care of with teamwork.

In my other imaginary life, I'd be living on a Caribbean island, diving every day.

2) A Travel Writer: I love to travel. I LOVE to travel! I can imagine traveling around the world to different countries and writing about it. Exploring cathedrals and museums, hiking and biking through the country side, staying in quaint bed and breakfasts, and writing about it. Putting together possible itineraries for travelers who enjoy active vacations or tasting local flavor. How fantastic would that be?

3) Professional Organizer: Believe it or not, organizing things is something I really like to do. It's nice to create order out of chaos. I like categorizing things, putting them together, and placing them in nice little decorative containers so they can be easily retrieved. It's a good thing I like this, too, since I'm cleaning out my parent's garage right now and its quite a task.

4) Personal Trainer Extraordinaire: Of course. Of course this is on the list. I love working out. I'm constantly evaluating friends' and family members' workout programs and tweaking them to make them either more effective or less likely to cause injury. I could totally do this for a livelihood.

5) Outward Bound Instructor: I had to quit my job in order to hike for 5 months. What if hiking for 5 months was my job? Taking people out into the wilderness and introducing them to the joys of nature? Teaching people the ins and outs of packing a backpack, putting up a tent, cooking on a camp stove, planning menus for trips? How about climbing, rappelling, negotiating rocks and roots, fording streams. Finding water sources. The principles of Leave No Trace camping. Of course, it would involve a lot of responsibility. But man oh man! To be outside all day every day for your job. I can think of nothing better!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday

I'm jumping back into MamaKat's writer's workshop, simply because I've missed it.

This week's prompt is simply:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

She loved movies. She loved sitting in dark anonymity and forgetting who she was for two hours. She loved watching somebody else's life parade before her and pretending it was her own. That way, at the end of the show, she always won.

She often wondered if the movie makers knew. Did they suspect there was a girl out there who needed to lose herself in their films? Could they possibly fathom that her sanity depended on it?

The special effects intrigued her the most. Slow motion, fast motion, repeating scenes, warped and distorted voices -- were the movie makers doing that for dramatic effect, or did that happen to them in real life?

It happened to her.

In real life, fists always came in slow motion. She could see punches coming from a mile back, but she could never get out of the way. The ensuing argument was always in fast forward. Arguing voices -- even her own -- were slurred and eerily warped, as if she were arguing in a tunnel. And the final door slam echoed over and over in her head.

The next day, people's looks were always magnified, their whispers intensified. They thought she could not hear them all the way across the lobby, but she could. So she held herself high and walked with dignity into the dark safety of the theater.  They didn't understand her like the movie makers did.

And once again, for two hours, she would lose everything and come out a winner.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Outdoor workout

I've always liked going to the gym. Since I was in high school, I could be found lifting dumbells, squatting barbells, struggling up the pull up bar, sweating it out on the cardio machines. Oh, I liked exercising outdoors, as well, but only in nice weather. When it was rainy or cold, or windy, I'd retreat to the nice warm, dry, gym and sweat.

After spending 5 months outdoors, though, the thought of going into a gym is just depressing. I'll probably change my tune once winter sets in, but right now the weather has been beautiful and autumnish (right down summerish last week). Perfect weather for being outside and sweating. And if it rains? Why I'll get wet!

However, since I don't want to drag dumbells and kettle bells around with me, I've had to get a little more creative with strength training. Enter...bootcamp workouts! JeepGirl style.

This is one of my favorites:


10  minutes jogging
30 sec high knees
30 sec dynamic trunk twists
30 sec high kicks
30 sec dynamic arm circles
30 sec jumping jacks
30 sec calf stretches each leg
30 sec hip circles
30 sec lateral trunk stretch each side


(On a relatively flat grassy surface 30 to 50 feet long. Each exercise down and back. 10 jumping jacks between each exercise)

Walking lunges with knee lift
Side stepping squats
Backward lunges
Bear crawl
30 seconds "fast feet"
Crab walk

*Jog for 2 minutes*


Walking lunges with kick
Alternating walking squats on a diagonal
Backward lunges with back kick
Bear crawl
30 seconds up/down on step
Crab walk

Jjog for 2 minutes*


20 Lunges with front foot on 16" step
10 Squats with one foot on 16" step. Repeat other leg.
10 Lunges with back foot on 16" step. Repeat other leg.
20 Push ups with hands on step.
10 Jump ups to 16" step
20 Triceps dips on step.

*Jog for 2 minutes*


30 seconds each stretch:
IT band
calf stretch
calf stretch off step
seated trunk rotation
standing lateral trunk stretch
rear deltoid
pec stretch

Finish up with two minutes of deep breathing out in the fresh air.

What better way to spend a fall morning or afternoon?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


This month, I set a goal for myself to meditate for 30 days. I have been doing some meditation at home with the help of a meditation CD I received as a gift last Christmas, as well as some meditations on YouTube.

But my mind is still a chaotic whirlwind.

I understand that meditation is a skill that, like any other, takes practice. It's hard practice, though. It doesn't involve reps or sets or hill repeats or balancing on one leg. It involves sitting in stillness and trying to quiet your mind. That's hard.

I don't know how to sit still. I don't know how to stop making plans and lists and goals. I don't know how to stop writing blog posts in my head.

I just walked in the woods for 5 months straight, for pete's sake, and my mind is still a chaotic whirlwind!

Sometimes it's good to have a little focused instruction.

So I signed up for a free 2 week program from Mr. Meditation himself, Deepak Chopra! The program, called Secrets of Meditation, is free and begins tomorrow, October 7.

If anyone is interested in this program, sign up here. We can become serene and centered together!

Or, at the very least, I can become okay with my mind being a chaotic whirlwind.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The workout plan

It's been almost three weeks since I finished my thru-hike and the numbness in my toes is just about gone. I am no longer waking up with swollen metatarsals. I am back to wearing my pre-hike shoe size.

Time to start running again!

I went for my first post hike run yesterday (only three miles) and while the balls of my feet were a little tender this morning, the sensitivity disappeared within an hour of waking. I passed the test. Time to start  a training plan.

When I did my self assessment of my current level of fitness, a few things stood out:

1) my endurance level is off the charts! Something about hiking for 10 plus hours a day for over 5 months. That should do it.

2) My speed is kaput. Chalk it up to that law of specificity. Walking really slowly conditions you to walk really slowly. And while I've never been fast, I've never been this slow, either.

3) I am ridiculously inflexible. I had some grandiose idea that I would do yoga every day after hiking. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to set up camp, wash up, change, get water, cook dinner and eat. Yoga? Just didn't happen. I gotta make it happen now.

4) My balance and coordination are pretty darn good. Thanks to all those roots and rocks.

5) My explosive power...what is explosive power?

6) My weight is still low, but going up quickly. My appetite is still pretty big and I haven't done anything to control my eating as of yet.

For the next month, I have some pretty great workouts planned. I'm not focused on endurance, though I still want to do one LSD workout per week, be it running, biking, or hiking. The rest of the cardio workouts are either interval or tempo workouts.

As for strength, I do have a couple traditional weight workouts per week, but since I'm still in love with being outside and not ready to go back inside a gym yet, I'm doing some boot-camp style workouts in the great outdoors for strength, coordination, and power.

Plus, stretching every day and yoga two to three times per week.

I don't have any swim workouts planned yet, as I haven't joined a gym yet and with the exception of the past few days (which have been gloriously and unseasonably warm) its getting a bit cold to swim outdoors.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Phun Photos Phriday

Every girl needs a big, floppy hat

One of my goals in life is to try to be as happy as this little guy!

Hanging with the family

Sometimes beauty can be found in the most unexpected places

And sometimes complete mistakes produce something pretty cool!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Artists Way: Week One

The Artist's Way is a 12 week program aimed at increasing creativity in your life. I've gone through the program in the past (posting on this very blog) with some good results. The process forces you to do a lot of soul searching and reflecting (which I honestly thought I would do a lot more of thru hiking for 5 months, but I actually just thought about food) so the end result is not only a more creative life, but a more self aware you. Both good things.

Week One: Recovering A Sense of Safety. This chapter, like all the rest, has a series of exercises to complete. Chapter one focuses quite a bit on looking into your past and identifying "enemies of your creativity" (like your best friend's brother who secretly taped the two of you dancing around in your pajamas and singing Madonna and then showed it to all of his friends) as well as "champions of your creativity" (like your second grade teacher who entered your "tall tale" assignment into the Scholastic Writing Challenge and got you free books from their monthly mailer for a whole year!)

What struck me about this week is how often the "enemies of your creativity" and "champions of your creativity" are one person, one in the same. How oftentimes, those close to you, who love you and want to keep you safe, offer encouragement and words of praise when you are engaging in activities that they deem proper. Yet the very same people discourage you when the activities are of a more threatening nature. Those closest to you so often try to steer you in a direction that makes them feel safer.

"Oh, you write so well," they'll say, "why don't you see if you can write instruction manuals." Or, "You always have such creative ideas when we exercise together. You should teach exercise classes - to elderly people in nursing homes." Definite encouraging words, but set within specific boundaries. Please spread your wings -- but don't fly too high.

What I came to understand is that the boundaries set by these friends and family members have very little to do with me, they are more a reflection of their own fears. Too often, we try to make ourselves fit into a mold that was never meant to contain us all in order to make others feel safe. We end up playing small so as not to rock the boat.

The key is in learning to appreciate the love and concern that your loved ones have for you, but following your dreams nonetheless. Knowing that your "champions" want the best for you, it's easier to stop playing small. Nobody is at their best playing small, no matter how well intentioned it is. Only by being true to yourself and sharing your unique talents can you have the best for yourself.

Yeah, pretty heavy stuff there. But all the best stuff is!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Goals

Okay, so yesterday I made a big stink about how I was happy to be posting on JeepGirl again, because I could be ridiculous and funny and totally not serious. And I will be. I swear! Six months of hiking on the trail has made me a lot less uptight. Really!

But first....

I am a list girl, after all. And this blog has always been my special place to post my lists, my plans, my hopes, MY GOALS!!! I am so happy to have different goals than finding good water sources, pushing out miles, finding a spot in the shelter or a relatively flat place to pitch my tent, and keeping my feet dry.  (Which, by the way, is extremely important!)

I'm feeling more well rounded already. (figuratively and literally. My hiker appetite hasn't completely gone away yet)


 WORK:           1)  Secure per diem position(s) to start replenishing the depleted bank account.
 PLAY:             2)  Go on four local hikes (I miss it already)
                         3)  Complete the first 4 weeks of The Artist's Way book. (I had worked through this book I the past. It's about igniting your creativity, but it's more about rediscovering yourself. Both noble pursuits in my humble opinion!)
ADVENTURE: 4) Finish up my hiking blog posts and wrap up that project
                          5)  Get all trail photos loaded onto Snapfish for photo book and send to hiking buddies
FRIENDS:        6) Have a movie nite with J & S
EXERCISE:      7) Complete 3 month plan for transitioning back into running/ biking/ swimming
HEALTH:         8) 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge
FAMILY:           9) Sleepover with the little nieces and nephews/ take the older nieces out for day
SPIRIT:           10) 30 day meditation challenge

Oh, yes. The list is in place, and all is right with the world!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I'm Back

I'm back.

Five and a half months of living in the woods, hiking 15- 20 miles per day, dealing with extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme rain (seriously? Did it have to rain every. single. day. in June?), and the most extreme black flies and gnats I have ever encountered. I loved it.

And now, back where I had fantasized about being during the last 2 to 3 weeks of the hike, I'm missing the trail. Like crazy.

Who ever would have thought that moving back inside would be so hard?

And in between the logistics of finding work again, (deciding if the same kind of work is something I still want to do), visiting family and friends, deciding what to do with the stuff in the storage area, finding a place to live that isn't my parent's house, getting back to eating like a normal person (not a hiker) and recuperating from months of destroying my body, I find that I miss my little JeepGirl blog.

I mean, I did blog during the trail, but that's a completely different kind of blogging experience. And I'm still posting to that one, since cell phone coverage and internet service is so unreliable in rural Maine. Pure reporting on the hike, not as much room to be goofy and irreverent. But with really good pictures!

So while I put my life in order, I'm happy to take some time to catch up with my old bloggie friends, see what they've been up to, and maybe be a little goofy and irreverent!