Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giving Tuesday

So today was "Giving Tuesday". Is this new? Did we have Giving Tuesday last year? Have I just been too unobservant to notice? I guess I'm just late to the party.

I like the idea of Giving Tuesday so much better than the idea of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I think it embodies the spirit of the season so much more than the other days. And aside from the approximately 10,000 emails I received to day asking for donations, nothing could ruin my mood.

While going about my business, I pondered exactly which charity I should donate to. My bank account certainly took a hit this year, what with me taking 6 months off to hike and now working sporadically. I'd have to think about it, since my funds are limited.

The obvious choice this year, of course, is the Red Cross Philippines Fund, after the devastating typhoon earlier this year. But then again, there are those causes near and dear to my heart, like the Empower SCI program, which puts on a 2 week residential camp each summer for newly spinal cord injured persons. Or the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which was so much a part of my life this year.

Then again, why does giving have to be limited to this day, this Giving Tuesday, each year? Shouldn't the spirit of giving be alive and well all year round? (Especially when I can spare it a bit more?) Perhaps I should start my own Giving Tuesdays, spread strategically throughout the year and written down on my calendar so I can make donations all year round.

And then....as I was driving around doing errands with these thoughts chasing each other around in my head....the answer presented itself before me. By the side of the road was a disheveled looking guy, early 20's, long beard, dirty, holding a sign. "Broke. Hungry. Anything would help."

I remember years ago while visiting a friend in southern California, we went out to eat at a wonderful restaurant and had a lot of leftovers. While strolling along after dinner, carrying our bags of leftover food, we passed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. I placed my leftover food next to him and continued on with the group.

Then one person in the group told me that it was irresponsible of me to give my food to the homeless guy, since it will just "encourage him to remain homeless". Plus, she added, he could sue me if he got food poisoning. (How he'd ever find me to sue me, much less employ the services of an attorney while homeless was left unanswered)

There are many reasons a person can become homeless: addiction, mental illness, physical or sexual abuse, parents kicking you out of the house because you are gay, post traumatic stress disorder. I'm pretty sure that the perks of free food is not one of them. I'm even more confident that being kind to another fellow human being, sharing my good fortune with somebody less fortunate, feeding somebody who is hungry is a good thing. I'm sure that being kind does not contribute to social problems.

I still feel that way.

Today, the question of where, oh where, can I be charitable was answered very simply. Right in my own backyard. I came out of Costco with a hotdog, chips, a soda, an apple, and a bag of nuts. Some for now, some for later. The disheveled looking guy accepted it all with a smile, put his sign away in his backpack, and sat down to eat.

Happy Giving Tuesday.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Accountability Monday

They say misery loves company. But who are "they"?

I always thought that FUN attracts a bigger crowd, any day. And as such, I have joined a couple fun holiday fitness challenges. Oh, sure, I'm positive there are those who would say a  holiday fitness challenge fits in with the first statement. But I'm not one of them. I'm having the time of my life!

And to make it seem more like a party, I've joined Amanda's link up party:



NOVEMBER 25: Run -- 4 mile intervals
                              Lift -- Legs and abs
                              Stretching -- 15 min

NOVEMBER 26: Swim -- 45 min steady state
                              Lift -- Chest and Back
                              Stretching -- 15 min

NOVEMBER 27: Eliptical 30 min
                              Flow Yoga

NOVEMBER 28: Thanksgiving Bootcamp!! (60 min)

NOVEMBER 29: Bike -- 45 min steady state
                              Lift -- Arms and Shoulders
                              Stretch -- 15 minutes

NOVEMBER 30: Bike -- 30 min intervals
                              Lift -- Legs and Abs
                              Stretch -- 15 minutes

DECEMBER 1:  Yoga  75 minutes

And today, we had the official weight in at the gym's fitness challenge. (its so hard to transition from eating like a hiker to eating like a normal person!)

Today's JOY:  The smile on a patient's face when he walked without a cane for the first time in a month.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Goals

Doesn't December always seem like a whirlwind?  I'm hoping to actually enjoy the holiday season this year, as I have changed my work situation and am no longer working myself into the ground. But here it is, December 1, and I already feel like I'm behind!

Fortunately, I am an avid goal setter, which always (sometimes) keeps me on track!


1)  Two to three training clients. As I said, I have cut my work hours down, which gives me time to explore other areas of life. Like the personal training certification I have, which I haven't actually USED in 6 years or more. So, I'm hoping to branch out and dust off and have fun!

2) Participate in the Holiday Fitness Challenge! In addition to the online fitness challenge that I'm doing (courtesy of this gal) there is a real life fitness challenge at the gym I go to, which looks like fun. I like fun. And I like exercise. So it's right up my ally.

3) Do the Christmas Lights Run. Another fun activity. Everyone dresses up like elves or trees or snowflakes or Santa. And it gives me an excuse to use my headlamp again.

4) Finish The Artist's Way program. (and maybe post about it!)

5) Get Xmas cards sent out by December 15th.

6) Movie night with the girls.

7) Take my niece to Body World. I'm so glad she's liking science now. A few years ago she said "I hate science!" And it was like she had stabbed me right in the chest. Repeatedly. With a sharpened femur.

8) Find suitable apartment and move. Before I kill somebody. With a sharpened femur. (That would put a damper on the holiday season.)

9) Clean eating. Again.

10) Have a great Xmas and New Year!

December is the month for JOY! 
Today's Joy: Cute little girl I saw today singing.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Goals

November crept on by while I was busy doing other things, you could say. I had such great intentions of posting every day and doing the daily gratitude thing, but between job hunting, apartment hunting, getting my recertification thing completed, and (sadly) trekking to the other side of the state twice for illnesses and funerals, The end of November is suddenly here. And its almost Christmas. Wow.

And then there were those goals What did I write down again?

I think I'm once again hitting about half.


1) Get ATP certification completed and sent in. Just under the wire! That took a long time...about 30 hours of work on that application. Jeez! But...done!

2) Do four fun outdoor activities...hike, long bike, check out fitness park, and fun run. 3 out of 4! (still have no place to store the bike. Hence, the apartment search)

3) Next four weeks of The Artists Way. Done. But no posts. In life, if you don't write a blog post about it, did you not really do it?

4) Knock one more state off the high point list. Fail. Just didn't get around to it.

5) Begin making some homemade Xmas presents. Begun!

6) Exercise all 30 days in November. 29 days. I'm gonna call that a success. Since the one day I took off, I was sore as all get out and sometimes you need a rest day!

7) Clean eating 25 of 30 days. Meh. Maybe 19 or 20 days. half credit.

8) Journaling 30 of 30 days in November. 25 days.

9) Girl's nite with J and K. Argh! Again, no. Stupid kids and their school activities interfering with my goals!

10) Make a yummy dish for Thanksgiving. Done!  A yummy cranberry-apple chutney courtesy of this chippy. 

And now on to December!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trendy Me

Ahhh, Wednesday. The day we all think of the ridiculous camel in the Geico commercial. And the day we all SHOULD be heading over to MamaKat's for the Weekly Writing Workshop. (It may find its way into the addictions)

This week, I chose:

Describe an Outfit You Love(d)

I should preface this by saying I am not a fashionista. Never have been. It just seems that money spent on trendy clothes could be better spent on other things. Like hiking and camping gear. Or running shoes. Or aerobars. Just sayin'.

But for all my lack of fashion sense, there was one small window in time where I was so ridiculously in style it was crazy. The early 90's had a bit of a fashion backlash known as grunge. I was sooo grungy! (I still am.) I didn't even have to try to be trendy. For the tiniest fraction of time, the trend arranged itself around me.

And my favorite outfit? Was grunge-tactular!

I had a fantastic pair of jean shorts. You know that one pair of jeans that makes your butt look like you just stepped from the pages of a fitness magazine? Well, I wore those jeans so much that the literally disintegrated. Did I throw them away? NO! I just made them into cutoff shorts. (The fact that they were acid-washed jeans may have sped up the disintegration process)

Cut off shorts then were much longer than they are now. If the pockets were sticking out of the bottom, that would been considered a mistake. These shorts came to about the halfway point between my hip and my knee. And while I just made that holier-than-thou statement about the length of the shorts, I now have to humbly state that they were full of holes. Even after cutting off the ripped out knees, the jeans had a plethora of areas where my skin was fully visible through the fabric. Did I throw the shorts away? NO! I just wore bicycle shorts under them.

Again, this is a clear example of how 90's fashion trends molded themselves around me and my clear lack of style. While I still have no problem thinking of workout clothes as real clothes, back then, people actually wore bicycle shorts when they had no intention of ever straddling a bike. A pair of bicycle shorts and an oversized t-shirt could get you into any bar or nightclub anywhere.

But a pair of bicycle shorts under a pair of holy, acid washed cut offs? Well that was another thing altogether. I was a grunge queen! Plus, the bicycle shorts had a crazy, red and green and light blue pattern on them that kid of looked like flowers, but also kind of looked like paisley. It was a nothing short of a visual feast poking through those acid washed holes!

Over this I-need-two-pairs-of-shorts-to-cover-myself-but-my-ass-looks-great ensemble I wore a short, boxy T-shirt. It wasn't a half shirt, but if I raised my arms over my head, there was a definite inch or two of abdomen showing. The shirt was faded beyond belief, and had a big ol' flower on it that just so happened to be the same colors as the crazy bike shorts that could be seen through the holes in the acid washed denim! (Though I'm not fashion forward, I always did have an artistic flair and could not only color inside or outside the lines, but could match colors like a pro!) Hence the flower T-shirt.

Oh, but it didn't end there! I topped it all off with a floppy hat that had a flower on it. You know, to tie it in with the faded flower shirt.

On my feet? Either Chuck Taylors or wrestling sneakers and slouchy socks. Slouchy socks were rad!

This fantastic outfit could be worn with ease with a hoody, a leather jacket or a flannel shirt. The possibilities were endless! And I? I was just about the coolest chick around in my two pairs of shorts and boxy tee and slouchy socks and floppy hat.

Oh, I wish I had taken pictures! Or maybe I don't. Because I remember the outfit looking something like this:

Only more pastel-y.

Or this: 

Only in shorts.

 But in reality, I probably looked more like this: 

TODAY'S THANKFUL: I am thankful for the awesome gym I joined. It's great!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Miss Understood

This weekend, I once again found myself traveling across the state, and surrounded by friends from college for yet another sad occasion. A friend's younger sister committed suicide.

It was, by far, the saddest funeral I have ever attended.

Between the senselessness of her death, the unresolved conflicts my friend had with her sister, and some discomfort between some friends, what struck me the most was how often mere misunderstandings can turn into hurt feelings, resentment, and bad decisions.

It was so sad to see my friend, feeling such guilt about all the conflict she had had with her sister over the years. For so long, she had thought of her sister as selfish and immature, always causing trouble and only thinking of herself. It wasn't until year later that her sister was diagnosed with a psych disorder. By then, though, the hurt feelings had set in. It is difficult to separate the behavior from the person. No matter that the behavior was caused, not because of immaturity and selfishness, but because of an illness. All the feelings of resentment and now guilt, caused by a misunderstanding of mental illness.

Then, the sister herself. I think we all do the best we can with what we think we have at our disposal. But sometimes we can get so caught up in what's going inside our own heads that we lose sight of all we actually have. We don't see the wonderful gifts around us nor the joyful moments in this world. We don't see all the people surrounding us who love and care for us. I think the sister was going through this very thing, but a million times more intensely than you or I. Her very sad decision to end her life, arising from an illness that caused her to lose sight of the people who care about her so much. A life lost because of a tragic misunderstanding.

Fortunately, not all misunderstandings end so sadly. My other friend was on the phone, railing about how she didn't know if she should go, since another friend would be there and they had some harsh words a number of years ago. "I think she'll be upset if she sees me. I don't want to cause any tension." Then we had some words. "You get in your car and drive up!" I told her. "Our friend needs us and that is more important than some stupid grudge from years ago." So she did.

Turns out, the whole argument from years ago was a big misunderstanding. They were actually laughing about it by the end of the weekend. "I'm so glad I came up." my friend told me later. "Our friendship is stronger than any argument!"

Friendship is stronger than misunderstanding. Friendship is stronger than grief. Friendship is stronger than anger or jealousy or maybe even mental illness if we can just see past whatever misunderstanding we are holding onto.

What misunderstandings do you need to clear up?

Friday, November 15, 2013


Before and After

The book that started it all and
The book I'm reading now

The number of days it takes to start thinking about the PCT

(exactly two months later, I started dreaming again)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Writing Workshop: What's in a Name?

Happy Wednesday everyone! It's a cold, cold day here. Luckily for me, nothing warms the body, heart, and soul like a mug of hot chocolate and the Weekly Writer's Workshop from MamaKat. 

This week, I chose:

The Meaning of Your Name...Does It Suit You?

I remember going to Catholic school and we had an assignment where we were supposed to research the saint for whom we were named. (I went to school with a lot of Mary-Katherines and Anne-Maries) I am named Heather. I was rather unsure of what saint I was supposed to report on, since Heather is "a flowering evergreen plant that thrives in the peaty barren lands of Scotland." I jokingly did a report on Moses, since he saw a burning bush. The teacher was not amused.

Likewise, in junior high school, it was pretty popular for girls to have printouts of what their names meant. My friends' rooms were plastered with little ditties like: "Jennifer means generous and understanding" or "Michelle is the feminine of Michael, meaning 'a gift from God'." Even though Heather was the 8th most popular girl's baby name the year I was born, little signs with the meaning of names were severely lacking in the name Heather. After many fruitless searches for MY sign, (I was in junior high....I HAD to have everything my friends had!) I finally found a sign that said "Heather means flower."

While being a flower is not a bad thing at all, it certainly isn't on par with "Gift from God!"

Now, however, I find that Heather really suits me. I really a a petite flower! And like the plant I am named after, I seem to thrive where others do not. Wild Heather does not grow in grasslands or in meadows, but in the moors where other flowers will not thrive. I strive to live a different kind of life. While so many of my friends and family are settled and content living in suburbia, I dream of living in an airstream or a tent. I find the thought of being settled the most unsettling thought imaginable. While I look over at the grasslands and meadows where all my other flower friends have their roots, I feel the salty air of the moors and know there is no other place I could thrive!

And as the story goes, thanks to the plucky little Heather, the moors are more beautiful and less lonely as a result.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November's Addictions

As the weather turns from the warm and sunny October days to the short, cool November days, I find myself addicted to :


My biggest fitness challenge (outside of NOT gaining back all the weight I lost hiking) is to increase flexibility. My flexility really took a hit this year. So I have made it a point to stretch after every workout. It's turning out to be my favorite part of the day. And my flexibility is very slowly improving.


 As the cold sets in each evening, so do the hungry horrors. How do I satisfy both? Why, tea, of course. I especially like the Yogi tea bedtime blend.  Drinking that nightly cup of tea is turning out to be the best part of the day.

American Horror Story 

I love this show. It is so ridiculously over the top. Sometimes I think the writers just try to see exactly how much they can get away with on TV. How creepy is that promotional picture? The show is even creepier, funnier, smarter, sexier, and more shocking. Love it? It is the best part of the week!


Journaling is an integral part of The Artist's Way. So every morning I'm journaling as I eat breakfast and drink tea (I have it in the morning, too). After months of journaling on a tablet, it's nice to hold a pen in hand and feel the paper under the words. My mind is also much more clear after I journal for a while. It's turning out to be the best part of the day!

My Mizunos

When I replaced my running shoes, I was horrified to learn that they had discontinued my favorite sneakers. So I tried out the "next closest model" to my favorites. I was very happy to learn that the Nirvanas are like nirvana for my feet! Lacing up these babies are turning out to be the best part of the day!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reasons Massachusetts Rocks

What a Wednesday! Weather was great, got a great workout in, and went to see my best bud, J's new ride -- a Jeep Patriot. Now we are both Jeep Girls! (I think we should get matching T-Shirts or something)

Wednesday also means that its time for the Weekly Writing Workshop, compliments of MamaKat
This week I chose: List the 8 Best Reasons for Living in Your State:

1) The Beaches: Like any coastal state, Massachusetts sees its beaches flooded with people each summer-- swimming, tanning, building sand castles and the like. But honestly, I enjoy going to the beach year round. Sometimes the wind can be piercing, but its still worth it. Just hearing the waves crashing on the sand is soothing to the soul. I feel like the beach is a truly sacred place and I'm so happy to live in a state that has beaches.

2) Ponds and Lakes: As much as I love the ocean, I realize that there are those that do not like the feel of salt water on their skin. Or can't deal with the seaweed. Or, God forbid, have horrible skin reactions to the sand and salt water! (Ooof! Can you imagine?) Well, fortunately, those people also can get their swimming and water fun in, too. There are an abundance of lakes and ponds in Massachusetts, too. Clean, deep, swimmable ponds! After hiking through the mid-Atlantic states this summer and coming across "lakes" that were 6 inches deep with a scrim of algae and a cloud of mosquitoes, I came to appreciate the beauty of a good pond! 

3) The Seasons: When I lived on the west coast, I enjoyed the outdoor activities and laid back atmosphere, but I missed the seasons. You were never sure if it was spring or fall or winter, as the weather was pretty much the same. Here in Massachusetts, there are four very distinct seasons. Summer is hot and humid, fall is clear and crisp. Winter is cold and snowy and quite frankly way too long. Spring is rainy, gradually warming, and full of emerging bloom. Each season has its own wonderful distinct flavor, and I'm glad to savor them all.

4) A Great Athletic Community: Between the Boston Athletic Club and the Cape Cod Athletic Club, I'm never at a loss for races or training groups throughout the season. Plus, there's the local running club, the biking groups, and the new fitness park in town. Massachusetts is definitely a runner's state! Though I'll never qualify for the Boston Marathon (I'm way too slow) I love being in the state with that iconic event. (Here's hoping and praying for a safe one next year)

5) The Mountains: Ok - there's the beaches and the lakes. But sometimes, you just want to climb a big hill. The mountains here are definitely not as big or steep or rocky as in New Hampshire. But they are definitely friendlier. Massachusetts was where everyone on the AT fell back in love with the trail. And for good reason. There are some great climbs to be had here!

6) Seafood: Oh, yeah. Lobster, clams, crabs, steamers, mussels, cod, scrod, tuna, shrimp! And remember -- the best chowder is WHITE! 

7) Boston: As much I am an outdoor girl, I still enjoy a bit of culture every now and then. A trip to the ballet, or to see a show. An art museum, a good restaurant, and a bit of history. Can find it all in Boston! (Even if the North Church does NOT have that amazing underground chamber that was in National Treasure)

8) The Sports Teams: It's been a good year for the Boston sports teams! It wasn't always that way. There was a time in my memory when being a Boston sports fan meant dealing with disappointment every season. But now -- this year we had the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, the Celtics to the first round of the playoffs, and the Red Sox won the World Series! And c'mon... the Patriots are just a force now. Now, being a sports fan in Massachusetts means seeing your team in the playoffs. Oh how times have changed! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TODAY'S THANKFUL: I'm thankful for the opportunity to make changes in my life!

Monday, November 4, 2013

TRX exercises

Recently, I was at the playground with my niece and she was doing gymnastics on the bars. She does not go to gymnastics training, but she is pretty good, a natural gymnast.  I decided to try to teach her how to do a glide-kip.

me width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wdR0CuzCeGc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

She wanted me to demonstrate. I haven't done a glide kip in about 15 years, but I decided to give it a go. To my pleasant surprise, I was able to perform a glide kip without that much difficulty! During the course of the afternoon, while helping out my niece, I performed about 12 glide kips.

The next morning, I knew I had made a mistake. My shoulder was killing me! I think I gave myself a minor rotator cuff tear. Damn, I should have know better.

Of course, I am trying to get myself back onto a training program to get back into triathlons next year. How the heck to I train with an injured shoulder?

Enter the TRX.

 I am a big fan of the TRX -- I've used it quite a bit for rehabing patients and also for myself. The great thing about the TRX is that it can be used to make exercises HARDER or EASIER, depending on your angle of pull.

Some of the exercises I have been doing in the past couple weeks include:

1) TRX pull-ups (easier on the shoulder than overhead pull-ups)

2) TRX triceps extension (easier with a more upright posture, harder as you move your feet back)

3) TRX lateral trunk twist (started with small movement, working up to full movement)

Happily, my shoulder has been healing nicely and I'm just about ready to transition to regular pull-ups, side planks with twists, and triceps overhead extensions. (and  more advanced TRX exercises!) 

On a related note, since my flexibility is in the crapper since my hike, I've used the TRX to assist with  pistol squats, too, since there is no way I can do them unassisted until I become a bit more flexible!  

TODAY'S THANKFUL:  I am thankful for beautiful fall foliage this year!! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Smashing Pumpkins

This is just about the best thing you can do with pumpkins after Halloween:


Collected lots of donations for the local food bank, and the pumpkin pieces all got composted at a farm.

TODAY'S THANKFUL:  Today I'm thankful for yoga.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Goals

It's a beautiful, gorgeous day for the Red Sox Parade and for all the runners in New York to have a nice   get used to the city jog to prepare for tomorrow. As for me? I'm goal setting!

November Goals:

1) Get ATP certification for work completed and sent in.
2) Four fun outdoor activities -- hike, long bike, check out the new local fitness park, fun run
3) Next four weeks of The Artist's Way
4) Knock one more state off of the High Point List 
5) Begin making some home made Xmas presents (some take a while to complete)
6) Exercise all 30 days in November
7) Clean eating 25 of 30 days
8) Journaling 30 of 30 days in Noevember
9) Girl's night with J and K
10) Make a unique (and yummy) dish for Thanksgiving!

Today's Thankful:  SO Thankful and happy to have seen the Sox win 3 world series! 

What a good day!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Recap of October Goals

Happy November!! Today is a warm but blustery day, with the colorful leaves blowing all around -- a very, very November-y day!

But before I jump head first into November, I gotta look back at those October goals!!


1) Secure per diem position to start replenishing bank accounts.  check!
2) Go on 4 local hikes. Half credit..went on two hike/ trail runs.
3) Complete the first 4 weeks of The Artist's Way. Done!
4) Finish up my posts for the hiking blog. Done!
5) Get the photos loaded up to Snapfish and share with hiking buddies. Done!
6) Have a movie nite with J & S. Fail. When goals depend on other people's schedules, sometimes that happens!
7) Complete template for 3 month training plan for transitioning back into running, biking, swimming. Done. and then some. (had to tweak the workout plan a bit)
8) 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge. Fail!! But I did clean up the fridge to get some SPACE for good food and did about 1/2 credit.
9) Sleepover with nieces and nephews. Check!
10) 30 Day Meditation Challenge. Successful on around 25 days.

Overall, success on 6/10, half credit on 2/10, and fail on 2/10. Not bad for the first month back.
Now I can jump head first into November!

TODAY'S THANKFUL: I am thankful I have extra time to do all the things I missed out on doing when I was working too much!!

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?