THE GRAND TETONS, PART ONE: “SKIING?”

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Photo by me, 2017

In the spirit of trying to Carpe Diem and checking things off a bucket list, I visited the Grand Tetons last month. Along with the visiting, I did the skiing. Or rather, I tried.

For a year and a half now I’ve been working out like I never have in my life. My arms are strong, my legs are stronger, my core is the strongest it’s ever been. Knowing that I was going to try skiing for the first time in my life, I spent the weeks leading up to the trip focusing on my lower body with the idea that skiing is a lot of quads and hamstrings; basically, a continual crouch while shushing down the side of a mountain. To prepare, I did ten thousand goblet squats, two million squat jumps, infinite regular squats. I squatted on the Bosu (unstable, half-ball thing), I squatted in between sprints on the treadmill, I squatted with my back pressed against a wall.

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Hey, kids! I’m here to ski!

I turned the resistance on the stationary bike up to 11 and climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest 1,000 times as I fantasized about gracefully winding my way down a snowy slope, coming to a complete stop at the bottom of the hill in a wide arc and pausing to shake the snowflakes out of my long hair releasing them into the wintry sun, a glittering, frozen aura surrounding me as a result. Oh, fantasy. You are so funny! 😦

I showed up for my three hour lesson dressed for the 23 degree weather on a beautiful sunny day. Patagonia set me up to be prepared for anything; their long underwear is MAGIC, my bright blue Snowbelle jacket was warm and flexible (this is not a commercial, I’m just saying their products are excellent. Extreme cold is totally do-able if you have the right gear). Super cute, overall snow pants that were on sale for nothing at Big 5 completed my ensemble. I was prepared and ready!

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Pre-Patagonia, but cute!

Two women in their 20s were my lesson-mates that afternoon. Both had never skied before either, so we were in good company. I high-fived them and said “We can do this!”. I was excited and nervous. The instructor turned out to be a crusty ski dude who paused a little too long before saying hello to us when he was informed that he was to instruct the ski virgins. He looked like he wanted to be in front of a fire with a stein of dark German beer, binge watching Breaking Bad, not escorting three nervous women to watch them hack their way down a bunny slope. His nordic (?) accent made it difficult to understand him and his brusqueness took away some of my good-cheer. My wide, open-mouthed grin drooped to more of a frozen gape.

I’m going to make this long story short(er): my classmate in the red snowboarding pants and black top, quickly became teacher’s pet. She was a natural. She never fell, she wasn’t stiff, she stood upright and let her lower body do all the work. The crusty Swede(?) focused on her.

My other classmate, while more timid in her approach, mastered the herringbone walk thing and was able to arc to a stop at the bottom of the rise.

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We can all ski! Hooray for us!

Then there was me. Let’s just say, I WAS NOT A NATURAL. I fell. Quite a few times. I tripped over myself and fell, I skidded to a stop and then fell, I fell for no apparent reason. The worst part was, though, that I couldn’t get up. Even when Bad Santa held my hand and pulled with all his might, I could not get up. He shouted something like, “Roll over… your right knee..push your left ski pole and…” ???? What??? What was he even saying? I rolled and pushed and could not get up. Each time.

 

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If I stab you in the leg with this pole, will you be able to get up then?

It was as if my muscles were lead and the earth had suddenly upped its magnetic pull.  The other two students stood over me looking embarrassed and, I’m sure, secretly thrilled it was not them floundering in the snow; a red-faced, dead weight that even Old Man Skier couldn’t lift.

 

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“Why the eff does she keep falling over, Biff?”

My quads failed me, my upper body failed me, my core failed me. It quickly became apparent, as I sat in the snow in my thankfully waterproof pants, totally exhausted watching Krampus carry on down the slope with his protegee’s, that it was actually my lungs that were failing me. I couldn’t breathe. Training so hard at sea level, didn’t do anything to prepare me for extreme physical exertion at 7,000-ish feet. My muscles and my brain were not getting enough oxygen. The altitude was taking me down. I would say that it was a classic Bridget Jones afternoon, BUT EVEN BRIDGET JONES SKIS BETTER THAN ME.

 

 

I made a conscious decision not to lie down in the snow and cry.

It’s just that I have worked so hard to be strong and in the process I’ve loved revisiting the inner competitive athlete that lives in me; the athlete that likes to be the best, to be perfect, and to win, which is self-defeating in cases like this. Faced with not winning and the absolute zero level of perfection in a new sport, the defeat hit me hard.

Only 1 hour and 50 minutes into my three hour lesson, I raised a ski pole in farewell to my classmates, gathered up my skis and headed for the gondola that would take me back down to the base of the mountain. In the silence of the gondola, with an expansive view of snowy Jackson Hole spread out before me, I lost the urge to cry.

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I sucked at my first day of skiing. So what? Most people probably do. I spent the whole day OUTSIDE in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and found the courage to try something new. I also discovered that I WANT TO TRY IT AGAIN before the winter is over. There’s that saying that “Perfect is the Enemy of Great”. Perfection is such a roadblock to doing anything at all, at least it is for me. So, while my skiing wasn’t perfect, maybe it was great?

Ok, no. It just sucked. Honestly, I can’t even say it was fun. But what was great was that I did it. And I’m still strong, I just didn’t win the blue ribbon for skiing or even get to make an “S” pattern down a medium slope. Maybe next time. I’m now on the hunt for sea level ski resorts. Haha.

Carry on, athletes.

silence

 

 

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Photo credit – Chris D’ardenne

The initial thump that sounds like the beginning of an earthquake, but is really the heater revving up for the night, but nonetheless makes my heart jump in fear.

5:37am ripped from an anxiety dream about taking care of babies (both of them) by the scream of a baby’s (the girl one) anxiety dream down the hall.

Two jack hammers across the street taking down a brick wall from the top of the art museum, a buldozer-ey thing with incessant back-up beeping digging a trench next to the curb.

Freshly jack-hammered bricks dropped from the top of the building that land in a hollow dumpster that sounds like a not-so-distant bomb going off. All day. The non-rythmic surprise of the boom keeps me still, tensed for the next detonation.

The semi-electric bus stops across the street and when it departs it sounds like a fucking rocket taking off.

The fire engine stopping in front of the library, coming to rescue someone without a home or without drugs or too many drugs. The inevitable siren of the police car that must follow the first responders.

The slam of the door every time someone enters and then exits this building. Because the door must stay closed. Because of the jack hammering, bulldozer-ey blitzkreig over the threshold.

By 2pm my shoulders have crept up around my ears, trying to block it all without resorting to earmuffs. But the booms travel under the street to resonate underneath my desk, sending the sound up through the soles of my sensible flats into my now-over sensitized brain, so earmuffs wouldn’t work anyway.

My breath reaches only to my throat, keeping it shallow and quiet to maintain some calm; if I dared to breathe deeply, I’d only let in more sound? Or, more likely, I’d cross my own threshold of sanity and run screaming down the block, past the book store, past the sage smudging shop, past the library, to where? The edge of the water? The liquor store? My bed?

 

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Photo credit Jay Goodrich

It snows very rarely in our local mountains that peak out at under 5,000 feet and usually by the time you get to the snowy part, it’s melted. This particular time I’m remembering must have been in the early 90s, my most recent memory of snow. I drove up as high as I could get and parked by the side of the road. There was no one around. I wandered down a path through the chaparral that was heavy and as surprised as I was by such a snowfall. I crunched through about 2 inches of snow-coney snow down a rutted out truck track. I eventually became aware of the absolute quiet.  There was no wind, no overhead planes, no cars or people. Even the birds were frozen mute in the rare beauty of a morning of snow with an ocean view. I kept walking as the snow turned into mud beneath my feet.

The snow fall’s muffling was the big surprise of the day. Stuffing the world with cotton, so that you can hear (and see) only your own breath. Imagine that on top of a coastal range; seeing your breath blow out across the Pacific.

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Photo credit Ed Fuhr

Days like today I feel like I am clinging to the side of a cliff, scratching desperately to pull myself to – what? The edge of the water? The liquor store? To bed? To somewhere. Somewhere quiet. So quiet and with enough time to stop all the fidgeting and posting and liking and picture-taking. To stop the worrying and projecting and resenting and doubting.

Time enough and peace enough to start dreaming and thinking. To start creating. Producing. Road-mapping the way to successful love and more meaningful days.

In thinking about mountains and snow, the grandest I’ve never been to are the Tetons. I’ve been to Aspen, but in July so the only snow I saw was while standing snow-free and breathless at 11,000 feet looking across to the even higher snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

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Sunset at Snake River Overlook, 1942 – Ansel Adams, of course.

All I know of the Tetons is what Ansel Adams romanticized for me in his photo with the Snake River silver-snaking its way toward the peaks. I imagine the Tetons to be, obviously, quite different than our shallow range here on the coast. Ours are more hills than peaks in comparison. Less jagged, more friendly maybe. But the Tetons are the Gothic cathedrals to our adobe Missions. A more impressive place to worship.

At just under 8,000 feet, Aspen is the highest place I’ve ever spent some time and I couldn’t catch my breath the entire week I was there. The peaks of the Tetons are at 13,000 feet; not that I would climb a peak like that. But shit, that’s high.

And I would imagine if you are standing in the valley of the Snake River looking up, it’s pretty impressive. Heroically impressive. Like, maybe it’s so impressive that the medicine that natural wonders possess will rush into my bloodstream like an IV hook-up. Natural Xanax. A mountain-high antidote to relieve the pressure in my chest.

And I’ll bet you, up that high and buried in February snow, it’s pretty damn quiet.

Sooooo…    here we go. #tetonsfebruary2017   #checkingoffthebucketlist

Carpe Diem and Peace Out.

FOR THE LADIES, WITH GRATITUDE.

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Bassetti 1954, Italy

Today I want to give a shout out to the women in my life. The last few months have been really fucking hard – disruptive, stressful, sad, anxious, lame. All of it. I realized the other day as I was lying on the table getting a facial by a woman who is helping me with my Middle of Life skin (Thanks, Dee-dee!) that I am really fortunate in the women who surround me in life. They have stepped-up in ways that, I feel, have saved my life; saved it from becoming a dark and lonely world to inhabit. Each of them are a unique light that ignites a part of me. They have infused me with hope and have offered healing. So, today I’m taking to the interwebs to globally acknowledge these incredible people.

Anny – without her help five years ago, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to the frequency of life that I now inhabit, even in the face of trauma. She helped me shift the poles of my very soul, so that they were in a more beneficial alignment.

My mom, Sassa, and my sisters;  Jen, Pam, Lin – for fighting for me and defending me and being protective of me. For not judging me for the trail of wreckage left behind from my difficult relationships. For moving my crap from house to house to house. For sending texts of encouragement. For checking in. For being a bonus set of friends I can turn to at any time and know you will be there to pour me a glass of wine, settle in and listen to whatever drama might have happened that day. Or bring me a good book. Or cook a delicious dinner. Or make me some tea. Or play Cards Against Humanity until midnight. Who say things like, “Whatever you need, just let me know” and I know if I ask, you will make it happen.

Barbara – who offered me a peaceful, private, and comfortable place to land when the shit hit the fan. And who also loves British crime dramas, old movies, Outlander, and the Hallmark channel. Who laughs at my crappy sense of humor and makes me feel like I am funny. Who feels my sadness and participates fully in my joy. She’s a person who does SO much for everyone, especially her family and that she includes me in that circle has been a lifetime gift; the least selfish person I know.

The Art Girls – Connie, Nicole, Monica. You are constant reminders and my personal examples of how to be kind and thoughtful in the world. You have embraced me as a friend, fed me good food, included me in events and outings. You’ve made beautiful art for the gallery, but especially for me – the art that surrounds me in my new space is all by you three and Holli. Your art reminds me every day of beauty in the world and the beauty in the women who created it. I treasure our times together, more than you know.

Jenny – your workout program began at a time for me when I really needed it, both physically and emotionally. Your messages rang true in my gut, even when I didn’t want them to. The constant reminder that we need to love ourselves more. That our energy matters. That if something isn’t working, change it or move on. For that one day when you hugged me even though I was all sweaty and I started crying and you said, You’ve got some big shit going on in your life. And I said Yes. And you said, Well, I love you. And I’ll be sending you love all day.   That was a small miracle that shifted something in me. Thank you.

Monika – chiropractor and healer. Lady, you have literally fixed me. I cried the day I came in to see you after having intense neck pain for a week and you put your hands on me and the pain was gone. I cried because of the relief, but also because you reminded me how good it feels to have someone take care of ME for a change. Neck, hip, and knee – all healed. A miracle of goodness.

Lisa  – yes, I am thanking my gynecologist. You would too, if you knew her. She REALLY cares about women’s health. She genuinely cares about her patients. When I last spoke with her, she was giving me the results of some blood work (all good). I mentioned a bit about what had been going on with me recently – why the blood work hadn’t been done sooner. She was silent for a moment and then said, Take care of yourself. You are so strong. You are a warrior woman. What gynecologist says that? Plus, she’s funny as heck. So thanks, Lisa, for being one warrior woman yourself. And for threatening to call me every day until I had a mammogram appointment (it’s next month, I swear!).

Emilie – light and bright, direct and no nonsense. Clear. Strong. You sat with me for 8 hours (WHO DOES THAT?) on a sunny afternoon when you could have been anywhere else, while I told my sad tales and drank all your mom’s whiskey. You made me laugh. You sent me awesome follow-up texts. You helped me move all my crap ( and dragged your sweet man into that mess) when, again, you could have been doing anything else on a beautiful Sunday morning, but you chose to help me. XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Leah – for being a great director and an awesome organizer. For taking time out of your supposed-to-be-relaxing weekend to move my shit. And for Jennie for watching the boy so you could help. You saved my ass – and my back. You made me laugh on a horrible day. Forever grateful for that. (prayer hands) 😉

Liz – for reaching out. For acting with integrity while respecting and recognizing mine.

Murphy – for blowing kisses, for toddling over to sit in my lap this morning. For putting your hand on my cheek and looking at me with big, solemn eyes. For saying the word POP, because it makes me laugh every time.

Miss – I could write a whole blog post. For listening to my crap for 30 some years. For always picking up the pieces. For always supporting even when you didn’t really want to. For speaking up. For reality checks and making sense of chaos. For your compassion for the human experience. For being a warrior for and teaching us all about communication and truth. For making me laugh and for having two babies. For not judging me as you watched me go through some really stupid times in my life. For meeting with G. For making cakes and frosting from scratch just to do something creative at the end of a long day, the end result being something beautiful. And then sharing it.

Ana – for being there in that moment when the moving chaos overwhelmed me and I threw a boot at the closet and stated THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID and that you were there to catch me before I crumpled to the floor in tears and held me up as I sobbed. And for when you got between a crying (again) me and an angry man in the U-haul parking lot, ready to go to battle if necessary (so funny now in retrospect, not funny in the moment). For dropping everything and making a plan when I needed something, but didn’t know what that something was. For Phoe. For bravely watching your parent fall apart and not retreating in fear, but advancing in love and support. For living your life the way you do. Forever grateful that I get to be a part of your world.

 

FOREVER GRATEFUL FOR YOU ALL.

XO

 

ILLUMINATING HOME

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Moving is a bitch. I’ve never lived in one place for more than four years. IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I don’t know if that’s sort of normal or not. But it’s my normal. I’d like it not to be.

For years I’ve had dreams of houses. Homes. Wandering through rooms that are mine to live in, to stay in forever, to decorate, to relax, to write, to sleep in and dream some more. Often these dreamy homes are light yellow with white trim and almost always they are lit with the type of glow that would come from late afternoon sun in the fall, or the light from a fire. A friendly fire, camp not forest.

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I realize in the grand scheme of things I live a good life. At least, I’ve always had a place to live, when many people do not. But my heart aches for home, sometimes. My home. A place to be forever with books and throw rugs and my cat and maybe even a dog, with some things growing in a garden out back or even in a pot by the front door. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just a place for me to land forever.

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I’m moving again this weekend; all part of the great break-up of 2016 and one of the worst parts. I’ve had heart palpitations and anxiety in the middle of the night leading up to this. I’m inconveniencing friends and family on a holiday weekend to help me move my stuff AGAIN after just moving only three years ago. It all sucks. Dividing up stuff, sorting whose things are whose. Sorting out the Christmas ornaments – you can have the white lights, and I’ll take the colored ones. Is that your silver reindeer or mine? Jesus, it’s so awful. But I’ll get through, because what is the alternative? Breakdown? Nope. So I move forward, packing one box at a time.

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It is significant, I think, that all the lamps in the house are mine. I mentioned it yesterday to my sister, that by taking all my lamps I was essentially leaving him in the dark. And she said, Think of it this way; you are taking the light with you. And my best friend said, You are taking YOUR light.

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I’m not going to shine this light in those dark places anymore. Eventually, my light will be matched by something just as brilliant and together we will shine with the clarity that comes from living an honest and integrous life.

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I’m taking my light to a new place tomorrow. It won’t be a forever home, but it will be lovely and friendly and filled with the laughter of little kids and a big yellow dog who will be “interested” to meet my cat. The sun shines through the windows in the late afternoon. There is space for a garden. And yesterday I did something I never thought I’d do – I bought a BBQ. And out on the giant deck, we can light it up and watch it glow.

Peace out and onward.

**All paintings by Frank Kirk

 

TEA FOR THOUGHT

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Do any of you readers drink Yogi tea? I drink the Green Tea Super Antioxidant tea instead of coffee, sometimes. My thinking is it is counteracting something, somewhere in my toxic body and it tastes good. Anyway, every bag of tea has a little white paper tab at the end of the string with a quote on it. Kinda like an Om Shanti fortune cookie, without the cookie. And yes, sometimes these inspirational quotes are lame as crap; like, Your beating heart is an echo of the earth or Breathe in sunshine to dissipate your foggy mood (I made those up but you get the idea).

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Today’s tea offered up the quote in the photo above; Love has no fear and no vengeance. Hmmm. Kinda cheesy, but it hit home for me for a few reasons.

Vengeance is seductive. It’s anger with an active sword, meant to do harm. While anger has a place in the grief process, vengeance does not. It’s fun to fantasize about, but acting on it only serves to do harm. Throughout this break-up process I have been counseled to get angry, lash out, be more dramatic in my emotions, seek vengeance. And I get that, I really do. However, I decided in the beginning of this break up that rather than be angry, which could only serve to create drama and stress, I decided I would focus on the excellent love that I had experienced with this person and work from there instead. It can only serve us both and those around us to honor a love that at one point was absolute magic rather than be seduced into a place that, when we were together, we never inhabited. We never operated from anger or drama or verbal jabs that would do real harm. So why do it now? Because it feels more powerful than sadness? Because it would serve him right? Because I want him to hurt as much as I have been hurting? All valid points AND I HAVE FANTASIZED ABOUT IT. I could wield a mighty sword and with one well-timed lunge, I could leave him wounded for a very long time. But the aftermath would suck. It wouldn’t feel good. Honestly, there is so much fucking crap going on in the world right now that I don’t want my life in any way to mirror the hate and divisiveness growing in our country.

And the truth is, I went into this relationship without fear and found a great love. So why leave it with vengeance?

The word that keeps coming to mind these days is Grace. It’s a word that gets used a lot on the tea bag quotes. It’s not a word I ever use in my daily ramblings, but right now it keeps popping into my head. And that’s what I’m going with. Grace. Honoring something that was beautiful and rare and the person who helped me create that something beautiful; honoring it all with Grace. And some whiskey, because I’m not a zen-master and I have Yogi tea to cleanse my toxins, so it all works out.

Hey, Yogi Tea people – You should put this blog post on your tea bag paper thingy!

Now I’m going to stop writing, because I’m grossing myself out with all this cheesiness.

Onward, with love and grace.

BOUYANT…

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Photograph by Toni Frissell at Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida, USA, 1947

…when you’re sitting in an empty bathtub, weighted on the  cold porcelain and as the tub  begins to fill with warm water your body is comforted, supported, lifted and separated from the cold. That’s how it feels now. Bouyed by something indefinable, maybe from personal experience of grief and being broken-hearted? That’s not the kind of experience I ever wished to have and know so well, but whatever it takes to move through this quickly. I hope this feeling stays with me for a while and maybe it’s not a passing feeling at all, but a solid way of being.

– Excerpt from the daily writing stuff.

WTF, LIFE?

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SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED (that actually did need to be written in all caps).

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Where does one start? I guess with the biggest thing; my awesome, happy relationship ended. Which is fucking nuts. And it ended in a not awesome or happy way – not that it ever could have. It was almost two months ago now, and I’ll tell you that today I feel pretty fucking great! I’m not exactly sure why I feel great.

All signs point to the cliche that I should be overcome with sadness and binge-eating ice cream in bed while watching Love Actually. But you know what? I just really don’t feel like doing that. I don’t have TIME for that.

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A lot of this current happy feeling, I believe, comes from the two years before I met the now-ex; with professional guidance I spent focused time on just me, facing down the dark shit and coming out the other side elevated, as a person functioning on a new frequency.

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Don’t get me wrong – I have been really sad about this. I’ve spent some time grieving pretty hard, feeling debilitated from this disruption. But when I sat up, wiped my nose and looked deep inside myself to assess the damage, I found it wasn’t fatal and that the wound was already beginning to heal through some kind of … what? Divine intervention? Personal faith? Good whiskey? I don’t know exactly, but I’ll take it.

 

Also, strangely enough, I feel excited and positive about my future. I still believe and have always believed in love. I believe trustworthy, solid people run rampant in this world (I know lot of them). I really like men, even though it seems sometimes that they are trying hard to make me not like them. Hey, men – you can’t make me not like you! So please stop trying!

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Oh, Men.

So next time (and I have no doubt there will be a next time), someone pretty fucking awesome will come along and want to honestly and completely join me on this ride of life.

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In other news, this experience has gotten me writing again. Why can’t I write when I’m in the blissful throes of love, but can write when there is turmoil? So lame. AND because I’m not eating ice cream in bed (zero appetite) and still working out hard 4-5 times a week, I have finally lost some weight.

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Lastly, I seem to be swearing up a storm; the profanities just flow out of my mouth as easily as the whisky goes in. In conclusion, I’m writing, losing weight, and feeling happy. WTF, life?

Hoping to start posting some more riveting info on this blog soon…

Onward.

 

A LONG POST ABOUT A SHORT RUN

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Photo – city of Vancouver archives. 1940. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but I like it.

In grammar school and junior high I was on a track team. I was also on the soccer team as it included lots of running and sprinting in particular. Sprints were my specialty on the track team. I could be counted on to shoot out of the starting gate and cross the finish line ahead of the pack while wearing my Sears Keds specials with no cleats. I ran to school, I ran home from school. Running was my thing.

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Up until I was in my mid-forties I would run regularly, but combine it with walking. Then because of laziness, hormones, the belief that I was hurting my knees, and probably some boredom with running itself, I stopped. Regardless, distance has never been my thing.

Flash forward to two weeks ago when I ran a 5K. The place where I have been working out and that I’ve written about on this blog (shout out to the #Jennyschatzleprogram) signed us up and I thought, what the hell, I’ll just do it! I showed up after work REALLY not wanting to be there and actually quite nervous. There was no one to hang out with that I knew well or to run with for that matter. Somewhat of an introvert and caught up in my own performance fears, I didn’t really feel like putting myself out there and making new friends at that particular moment. Eventually chatting with a few women, I soon realized we were all feeling the same way – nervous and doubtful that we could do this run. My plan was to run until my lungs were burning, my knee started to hurt, or I puked and then walk the rest of it.

My fearful excuses ?

  1. Sure I used to be a runner but I was a sprinter, not a long distance runner. 3.1 miles was too far for me.
  2. Lately, I’ve only been running on the treadmill in bursts of speed. Cement and long distance were not compatible with the running I’ve been doing the last few months.
  3. A lingering self-doubt and general not-good-enough haze that tend to cloud my everyday performance  – both of which can be cleared away by getting out of a comfort zone and doing something scary, like karaoke (never done it) or bikini shopping.

We started off on and the first half of the run was a slight uphill, which meant that the way back would have the sweet push of downhill momentum. I gave myself goals along the way, like, just make it five more minutes, or now just make it to that tree, or just make it to the halfway point. And I kept going. The mental self-doubt game is strong in me during challenging moments and I wanted to win this mental game, while being careful enough of my physical self to actually be able to walk the next day.

A quarter of the way in as I was chugging along (the quote “slow and steady wins the race” became my mantra for the run), this woman who I see in my morning classes passed me by. I always notice her because she’s really pretty and has striking platinum blonde hair that’s hard to miss. She always chews gum and she NEVER sweats during class, no exaggeration. In our 7am class I am tomato faced and dripping, inhaling with a concerning rasp as I try to re-oxygenate my lungs and she’s snapping her gum all, “Yeah, I’m going to do some extra jumping jacks during the 15 second break between movements” while her hair remains perfect.

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K.V. Switzer – first woman to run the Boston Marathon

So, the blonde blows by me with a couple of friends; her color coordinated work-out outfit perfectly setting off the apricot color of her skin. She always smells like vanilla. I don’t mean this to be a criticism of her by any means, in fact it’s the opposite. I totally admire her workout ethic and would love to have her creme brulee coloring. She is definitely someone to emulate during workouts, too. She has great form and always takes the heaviest weights and the hardest option. I totally admire that. She seems like a super cool girl and I’m sure her life is perfect. 😉

ANYWAY- she passed me up and my competitive streak kicked in BUT I held back. My pace was slow, true, but it felt sustainable at least until the half way point when I would give myself permission to stop. When running in the past I do remember times when my pace would kick in and and I felt like I could go forever, and something of that sort was happening early on in this particular run and I didn’t want to mess it up by trying to win a race that wasn’t really a race. So I let her float by me on her glittering, vanilla scented cloud as she snapped her gum and chatted with her girlfriends. I focused on the next distance goal and forgot about her.

Ten minutes minutes later, I passed her. Whaaat??? Yep, she had slowed to a walk and was cruising along, still not sweating, still chatting, still chewing gum. I chugged on by her, still slow and steady as I approached the half-way point. It was then that it occurred to me that I could do this, that I could finish the run without walking as long as I kept to my pace. I rounded the half -way point and started the downhill return to the finish line.

There was a trainer up ahead passing out high fives – I made him my next distance goal. Right before I got to him, the vanilla girl ran past me and high-fived him first, blocking my chance for a high five and words of encouragement unless I wanted to circle back (obviously not), so I kept going and watched her hair bounce in front of me for a few more minutes. Then, once more, she stopped running and started walking. Again, I chugged by her (chug really does describe my running that day; there was nothing lithe about it) only this time I turned to smile at her and said “Hi” as i passed.

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K.V.Switzer in the middle = stylish runner. I looked more like the guy on the left.

The finish line arose like a mirage at the end of a long down-hill stretch. I was going to make it! Holy shit! People were lining the side of road and cheering everyone on the last few hundred yards. I was by myself, totally focused on the fact that I was still moving, not sure if I could stop moving and slightly concerned about what my body would feel like IF I stopped moving. I could see the main trainer at the finish line, bouncing up and down, armed with high fives, booty slaps, hugs and cheers – I focused on her and started to smile.

Sure enough, right before I got to her, vanilla girl comes cruising by me as if she’d been sprinting the entire race. The trainers all know her name and were shouting it out with lots of whoops and whistles. She smiled and waved like a prom queen, still chewing gum, still not sweating as I rolled up behind her beet red, but happy. The main trainer, Jenny, saw me, gave me a huge hug and ran the last few steps with me, which made all the difference; to be recognized in that moment of a huge physical achievement shoved the cloud of self-doubt right out of my personal sky. She knew, when I didn’t, that I could do this run. WHAT ELSE DOES SHE KNOW ABOUT ME THAT I NEED TO KNOW?

Words of wisdom at the end of all this? I honestly didn’t think I could run a 5k. But I could. I can. If I apply that concept to the rest of my life, to those places where I stop myself everyday because I know I won’t be the fastest or win first place or be the best…

I’ll stop before I start sounding like something printed on an inspirational coffee mug.

Onward.

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SCULLY, I LOVE YOU

 

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Dana Scully, from the X Files (duh!), has always been one of my favorite television heroines. We recently watched the reboot of the series, which was pretty good, but not great. I’ll admit the main reason I watched it was to see Scully in action again. And after 15 years, she is more beautiful and so awesome as that character. Scully will save the world with her medical knowledge, alien DNA, cheekbones, and pouty lips! She will!

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This past week I’ve had some alone time in the evenings to chill out from a pretty hectic and frustrating week. During that time I have been going down the rabbit hole of movies and Netflix series that I’ve been wanting to explore. I finished watching The Paradise (which, after two episodes became predictable and, well,  stupid BUT I WATCHED THE WHOLE THING. Ugh.). And eventually found my way to The Fall, in which the heroine is… Scully! Or Gillian Anderson. It’s a bit like The Killing, which I loved. It’s dark. But she is just so captivating to watch. In The Fall she has a British accent (Gillian apparently was partially raised in England and resides there now, hence the ease with the British accent), is super-Scully-serious in her role as a Superintendant Inspector something or other named Stella Gibson. She’s brought to Belfast to help find a serial murderer. It’s a great series.

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But it’s Gillian Anderson who steals the whole show. She’s absolutely luminous as a human, but in this role she gets to be a cussing, screwing, swimming, bad-ass independent woman who makes dowdy blouses look sexy and who I’m sure has helped elevate the sales of the simple, black one piece bathing suit. Shit. She’s fabulous in or out of the role.

I guess maybe I have a crush on her. Or want to be her. Or Scully, really. I’d rather have to deal with aliens than serial killers in Northern Ireland. I think.

Gillian AndersonLondon
By David Levene
29/1/15

Gillian Anderson London By David Levene 29/1/15

Anyway, just a moment to acknowledge the acting force that is Gillian Anderson; X-Files, Bleak House, The House of Mirth, and now The Fall. Oh, and I was watching the animated kids movie, Room on a Broom (so freaking cute), and was pleasantly surprised to hear her as the voice of the witch. I’m looking forward to this evening, sinking into a leather chair and the second season of The Fall with the same kind of anticipation of a date with a fabulous someone.

Let the weekend begin.

ON KITTENS, WINE, AND FOOD LISTS WITH A TINY BIT OF SERIOUS STUFF

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Not really relevant, but funny nonetheless.

Every time I think about writing on this blog the absolute un-importance of what I want to write compared to all that is going on in the world stops me from writing. There are so many causes to champion, politics to dissect, abandoned animals/children/humans that need saving, that writing about my ridiculous work-out journey seems pretty pathetic.

The disturbing images and videos that pop-up on Facebook, the headlines in the NY Times, the shouting and swearing and constant police sirens outside my place of work that barrage me every single day – all of these things I do recognize and acknowledge. I am aware. But here’s the thing – it may be that I care too much about all those other issues that I choose to write about the journey of exercising, kittens, and wine on this blog. I have no control over the outcome of those other issues, but here I have some control. This is a place for ease and a balm for me upon the abrasion of the rest of life that exposes itself to me every day. That’s why I write about what I do. For now.

This work-out journey has become something else to me besides just working out. It is challenging me physically, but it’s also a lesson in the-rest-of-myself awareness. Why don’t I give this program 110% effort? Why, when I complain about not losing any weight while exercising, do I not incorporate the eating plan that, at no extra cost, comes along with the program? And how does that half-assed engagement manifest itself in every other area of my life? Why am I playing the game of life at, say, 85% of my potential with my creative potential working at about 40% when I have the goods to be busting out at 120%? What is that about?

For a blog post that started out defending itself for being lighthearted and saccarine, it just got pretty real. So, to lighten the mood, here is one of my favorite current videos.

After the  revelation that maybe I need to be doing this workout regimen 100%, I took on the task of following the weekly menu plan at least for this week while the significant other is out of town. It’s all foods I normally eat anyway, but I’m figuring the portions are smaller, therefore less calories at the end of the day.

They also suggest keeping a food diary, which sounds like a big fat bore to me, but apparently tracking what you eat can make you more likely to NOT eat something knowing you have to write it down. So, yesterday I bit the bullet and recorded my daily meals; smoothie for breakfast, salad with all kinds of veggies for lunch, hummus and veggies for a snack, an apple, and a spicy chicken breast over cabbage salad thing for dinner. It all went on the list. Including the extra rice cake with almond butter I had after dinner. I hesitated before I wrote TWO GLASSES OF WINE at the end of my list, but I thought it was kind of funny (and true)! I went out with my sister earlier in the evening and it’s not an option to not have wine with sisters. So WHATEVER, food list, don’t judge me.

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Cute Kitten break.

It’s becoming more clear every day that the winds of change are starting to whisper in my ear, and my need to step up and be involved 100% in that change is becoming clear as well. Part of it is committing 100% to my physical activities, because my physically strong self will the help build the mentally strong self. Moving my body in a forward motion will bring the rest of  myself along with it.

We’ll see what tonight’s food list ends with. Maybe just a lonely rice cake. Or maybe…not.

Onward!

1sip

Not wine, but not a rice cake either.