Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sweet (and Possibly Savory) Little Things

Since my last post life has been nothing shy of routine and relaxed.  Sure, I recovered from the impromptu altercation over a fender bender and I survived a five day trip to Vegas, sans husband and children.  I think he survived, too.  The overly used phrase ‘What happens in Vegas…blah, blah’ was not the mantra for one loose-lipped member of our traveling team.  So, for the record, I kept the shenanigans among the Vegas group. 

Being away from my family for those days gave me time to reflect.  Of course, I spent time at the conference and of course, I made it a point to eat well; not to mention, I reserved some time for adult beverage indulgences, but I had the luxury of spending two separate visits (a total of four hours) in the Caesar’s Palace Roman Baths and Spa area.  W-O-W.  This experience gave way to a nirvana of quiet time and body rejuvenation.  All guilt of being 2500 miles away melted as I slipped on my robe, just pulled from it’s own sauna.  The stress in my legs, a result of half marathon training, slowly escaped as I crept into the 55 degree soaking tub.  I spent time in the cedar and steam saunas before finishing up with a brief entry into the Arctic Room. 

All these luxuries let me reflect upon the little sweet (and possibly savory) nothings that are typically taken for granted.  Here’s a short list, off the top of my head, in no particular order.

Lavender Earl Grey tea with sugar and cream.  Espresso flavored tequila.  NY style pizza.  The smell of fresh cut grass.  A child’s discovery of their hands.  Chocolate milk after a long run. My moon roof.  Brie and ripe pears.  Toasting marshmallows over the fire pit while lounging on our patio.  Running with friends.  Running with my family.  Running alone.  Summer tomatoes, fresh off the vine, dancing with sea salt and a splash of olive oil.  Crock pots.  Cucumber sandwiches.  Swimsuits and bare feet.  Moroccan oil.  Hot baths.  BioFreeze.  Books about running.  Books about epidemiologic disasters.  Sangria and mojitos.  Cooking shows.  Massages with aromatherapy.  Figs with honey.  Writing.  Grilled steaks, medium rare.  Lemonade and iced tea.  Avocados with lime, salt and blue tortilla chips.  Sneaking kisses from my girls.  Settling into a snuggle with my hubbs.  Spending three hours on a technical trail.  Setting ridiculous goals which typically push my body to the max.  Tea pots.  Thanksgiving dinner.  Daydreaming.  Water ice. The elegance of a fountain pen.  Black tie dinners.  Clean sheets.  Older couples holding hands.  Memories.  College notebooks.  Old photos.  Water with crushed ice.  Sand in my toes and the ocean in my ears.  Rosemary trees.  Cherry blossoms.  Compression socks and running skirts.  A good knife.  My Keurig.  Soft hands; smooth legs.  Chirping birds at 5 am.  New baby smell.  Coming home to dinner being done.                     

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Human Obligation

It’s late…well, maybe not late to you, but my body checks out at a certain time.  It’s as if my brain has been programmed to do an automatic shutdown during a particular window of time.  So that window of time just kicked off about thirty minutes ago.  I still have to squeeze in a training run.  It’ll happen, even if it’s with my eyes closed.  For those of you friends with me on FaceBook, I made a status update sometime last week about nearly being hit head on in a parking lot.  I smacked my horn to alert the woman of my presence.  Instead of her taking ownership, acceptance, responsibility – whatever you want to call it – of her actions she deflects the problem to me by flashing her middle finger.  Huh?   At what point in that situation was I behaving like an asshole?  Hmmm.  More and more, I believe we, as people, have a human obligation to respect each other, help whenever we can (whether or not it’s our job) and pay it forward.  We are all on the same team; let’s act like it.
Within the past year, I have put on the ‘same team’ jersey and climbed up on my soap box.  As a young child I was advised to keep an open mind and respect people’s beliefs, regardless of mine.  On the same vein, I shouldn’t sacrifice or bend my own constitution.  I put on my ‘same team’ jersey, laced up my shoes and took the Human Obligation campaign to the workplace.  Not to disappoint, my peeps were already registered voters for the Human Obligation party.  It would be a challenge to spread the word and get people on board, but ‘WE CAN DO IT’.* 
There are a few simple guidelines to get this to work:
1). Treat others how you would like to be treated – is this so far fetched?  Say hello, as you pass a fellow co-worker or stranger in the hallway or on the street;It’s just polite.  Offer to help someone find their way, carry a package or hold a door open for them.
2). Believe that you do make a difference.  Each positive thing you do touches someone.  At least one of those people will pay it forward. 
3). You are not perfect.  We’re only human after all. 
Guideline #3 can be seen as the loophole or caveat.  We all make mistakes and we all stray from the straight and narrow.  Just get back on the horse and grab the bull by the horns.  (Insert any other overly used clich├ęs here).
Today, started off to be a great day.  All of my Valentine’s stole my heart with their hugs and kisses.  Although some work obligations kept me from eating a normal lunch or going to the gym I made the best of it and pressed on.  I looked forward to the end of the day where I would see my beautiful girls at their day care Valentine party.  The hubbs would be working late, so it would just be the ladies again.  I arrived at day care and much to my surprise Marcus was sitting in the pre-school room with our youngest bouncing on his knee.  He was just passing by and stopped to see the girls.  Within ten minutes the baby was passed to me and we all said our good-byes. 
It took some time, but I piled everyone and everything into my car and left for home.  Unfortunately, while we were stopped at a red light, a distracted driver (no not texting, or sexting, or surfing, or boogie boarding) rear ended me.  I immediately checked in with the girls to see if they were okay and then envisioned my five month old Sweet Dee with a crumpled rear.  I pulled over, put my flashers on and got out of the car.  Without assessing the damage, I looked at the younger driver to say, ‘What the [insert choice word here] are you doing?’  Immediately on the defensive, of course, she exclaims that there’s no damage.  This was a fact.  The impact shocked us into fear, but the reality was that there was no damage to either car.  This is what a bumper does – it’s a buffer for idiot, but not entirely reckless driving.  Doing the right thing, regardless of the severity, I request the exchange of information.  The driver runs across the street and sequesters two individuals (assumed, known) back to the scene before continuing with the conversation.  I proceed to take a vicious verbal beating from a woman who tells me that I’m not doing the right thing.  She’s throwing her body around like a gyrating dancer while yelling at me curbside. 
The Italian, with Staten Island influence, in me started to bubble to the surface.  My palms got sweaty as my hands shook and my body was overcome in an uncontrollable hotness.  It took everything I had to dial back the compulsion to escalate the situation.  Fifteen years ago this would have been a real rumble, but age has mellowed me.  I also have a HUMAN OBLIGATION (see the theme) to be a role model for my children.  I swallowed my pride, eventually got the information I wanted and I left the scene.  I’m not exactly sure how I was labeled the guilty party and why I was the recipient of the unnecessary wrath.  I believe my strained ability to hold back my feelings made me the bigger person.  I stayed true to the obligation.  Maybe one day they will pay it forward.  All I can do is continue to hope and have faith. 
In the meantime I guess I’ll go run.  I need to alleviate the stress or I just may punch a wall.  :)  

SHOUT OUT: I've become an advocate of exceptional customer service.  We, as people, need to be a support to those around us and help in any way possible.  The 'it's not my job' doesn't fly with me.  Recently, I attempted to order an iStick from a Canadian company Dew Motion.  They make electronic performance gear.  Check out their site.  I had some trouble and eventually contacted Mike Turner at the US office.  He helped to settle the ordering issue and get the device shipped over night to my husband in Maine.  To boot, Mike read the blog.  Heck yes, you'll get a shout out.  THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!  GOOD PEOPLE...PAY IT FORWARD! 

*Please be advised that any political references do not denote a personal preference in political party and/or candidates.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Yup, I Still Got It

I know you’re with me when I say this – some days just suck. 

Today started off with a bang; well, maybe that’s misleading.  A ‘bang’ would lead you to believe that I jumped out of bed, seized the sunrise in the palm of my hand and decided to go for broke.  Instead, today went something like this: I hit snooze, maybe once; I’m not sure.  I woke to hear the baby fussing in her crib, so I hobbled, literally hobbled, down the steps to fix myself some punch-you-in-the-face coffee and make a bottle for the princess.  She stopped crying long enough for me to slink into the scalding hot shower.  I hoped the water would shock my body into the week routine and rinse the defeat created by the scale, but, alas, I had a case of the Monday’s (sorry, I had to).  The next thirty minutes were a blur of diaper, bottle, eyeliner, hair, toothpaste, skirt/jacket/hose (in an attempt to pick up my mood), refill water bottle, pack lunch, good morning, poka-dot-dress for the first princess, Chex snack bag, start car, prep kids for outside and hit the road.  I dropped the kids off and headed to work.    

Most of my morning was spent working on someone else’s problem – not sure how to account for that lost time – while I fought back the urge to graze on the plethora of snacks I have at my desk.  Just before noon, I grabbed my back pack, water and my purse.  Wait, where’s my purse?  Oh yes, awesome, my purse is IN THE HOUSE.  I RARELY BRING IT IN FROM THE CAR.  WHY?  And just like that I needed my lip gloss…that was in my purse…that was sitting in the kitchen.  Boy, my lips felt chapped.  What else do I have in my purse that I need immediately?

I headed out with all my items, sans purse, to put some real time in at the gym.  I logged my daily mile to satisfy my 2012 Run Streak, hit the weights and tried to stretch the sore out of my calves.  I successfully checked out of life during this one hour period; wish I could do that more often.  The afternoon flew by with the help of corn chowder and two late meetings.  Sadly, I took the elevator up one flight of stairs and walked out of the building to my car.  MY CALVES!  DID I TELL YOU ABOUT MY CALVES?   I needed to get gas, so on my way to get the girls I stopped at WaWa.

The gas cap is on the right side of my car, so I turned off the main road and pulled into the spot next to pump number five.  I’m not sure why, but lately, every time I get gas it’s stinking windy out.  And we’re in February people, no matter how ‘warm’ it’s been, that wind can be bitter cold.  My hair got blown around every which way while I tried to snuggle my head down into my scarf.  The pump shut off, I put the nozzle back, secured the gas cap and ran to the other side of my car.  In the meantime, another Subaru pulled in front of mine and two gentlemen got out – the driver was a man my age (which I’m not telling you) and the passenger was a little older, maybe in his late fifties.   The driver (his name has to be Eric) took one sweet long look at me.  Yup, he dug me.  He watched me gently pass his car as I made my way out of the parking lot.  I swear he watched me the entire time it took me to drive away.  Yup, I still got it. 

What an ego boost!  Some random man checked me out…and he was pretty hardcore about it.   Let’s be honest – I could have sold tickets for that event.  Wow.  Close your mouth, buddy.  Yikes.  I pull out of the parking lot and check myself out in the rear view mirror.  Yup, that’s a big pile of dried baby snot and drool.  Awesome.  Well, maybe he was checking out my hot ride.  Sure, it’s automatic, but it’s a turbo.  AND NO, IT’S NOT A STATION WAGON!