Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finding Focus

I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the title of this post.  I did, however, spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts for the content.  Can't judge a post by it's title.  Does that work?  Eh, not convinced.  Who knows...this sentence might be removed before I'm ready to publish.
Today is the last day of 2013.  I closed out last night with some drinks, eats and lots of laughs with my early am lady runners.  The power of peer pressure pushed us out the door at 5:15 am and we managed to put another five miles in the bank.  I don't believe any of us really planned to be out in 20 degree weather considering yesterday's temps were higher.  Without a firm agenda for the day, I brewed a cup of coffee (from my high maintenance Keurig - apparently there's a g-spot that requires additional love in her old age.  a story for another day), stretched, showered and crawled back into bed.  I woke up at 9 am.  9 am.  9 am.  Holy crap!  Opening my eyes to see '9 am' on my phone was magical.  Thankfully, the time wasn't met with a morning rush.  No school.  No work.  No problem.  I actually started to get a little anxious knowing that I wanted to get this post out before the 1st.  I think I can handle it.
This past year, I think, was my toughest to date.  So much good coupled with different life challenges.
On the tail end of 2012, I continued to struggle with my abdominal pain and tried so many different diets to help ease my pain.  I spent a few seconds as a vegan.  My ability to creatively navigate the animal protein world and my love for a good burger prohibited me from maintaining a vegan status.  The ridicule from my family/friends and the lack of decrease in pain were also contributing factors in abandoning this lifestyle.  I am absolutely sensitive to animal cruelty, but I just couldn't continue  Two months later, after lots of research, I shifted to a 98% Paleo way of eating and I haven't looked back.
Everything happens for a reason.  Right?  That's what 'they' say.  Sometimes I'll buy into that.  After a lot of consideration, I decided, with the support of my hubbs, that I'd finish my 200 hour Yoga Teacher training by enrolling in a program at a local studio.  This experience so far has been helpful in my spiritual and physical transformation.  I'll close this training on May 4, 2014.
Oh, Lance.  That's really all I have to say.  My post about his Doprah interview clearly illustrated his selfish behavior at the expense for a fantastic organization.  His jack-assedry (read: not a word) started to push me towards abandoning future support of LIVESTRONG, but I've since changed my tune.  I feel sad for him and his kids.
As of this publishing, my most popular post captured the raw emotions after losing a pet.  Tissues required.  Love you, Pez.
Shortly after losing our dog, my husband buried his father.  I didn't write about this personal event, but it hasn't been forgotten.
Runners really rallied around each other and the sport following the Boston Marathon bombings.  This sense of community continued at local races, including the St. Luke's Half Marathon.
About a week after the half, we took the fam and my sister-in-law to Disney where we met up with one of my bestest friends and her husband.  Disney, for those who know, is filled with magic for kids and adults, alike.
Two months later we vacationed in OBX.  I can't believe how big the girls are getting.  They are really starting to develop a 'sisterly' relationship - this also includes fighting over clothes, the pink cup and who goes first.  We celebrated the July 4th holiday all week with sun, sand and lots of crabs.
Busy, busy, busy - not a lot of downtime.  I came back to work as the jetstream brought a violent shit storm which led up to the infamous Quadzilla 15K trail race.  I volunteered last year and knew that 2013 would be my year to run.  I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.  Looking forward to 2014!  I hope more of you will join me.  (ahem, you know who you are)
The challenges kept coming as we approached my birthday and Ava's first day of Kindergarten.  I survived.  We survived.  Ava loves school; we're proud of her development and thrilled with the school.
I continued to break personal records as if they were going out of style.  PR's included the 5K, 10K and half marathon.  I do have a goal to break my new 5K time next March.  Let's see what happens there.
The year closed out with two, as always, busy holidays packed with friends, family, food, booze and an overwhelming sense of giving.  My group running experience blossomed with regular runs with some fantastic women WHO LIKE TO RUN BEFORE THE SUN COMES UP.  I can only see these relationships strengthening in 2014.  I also think that some of them are signing up for their first marathon.
Speaking of marathon, I registered for the NYC Marathon via guaranteed entry.  It only took four years, but I don't care, I'm in now!  I have already started scheming on my training plans for breaking four hours.  I WILL BREAK FOUR HOURS.  I WILL BREAK FOUR HOURS.
Just before Christmas, my girlfriend lost one of her dear friends to cancer.  All I ask of you, my three readers, is to send strength and comfort to the family.  That episode in life showed me the raw emotion of people - emotion both good and bad.
I rounded out the year with a 13.1 mile run in celebration of a friend's birthday.  If you're a regular reader you might see a recurring theme when it comes to running in the Parkway.  I actually dislike that trail.  I'm not sure if it's the rolling hills (I normally love hills) or the trail surface (I normally love trail).  Perhaps it's the necessity to navigate piles of horse shit, fishermen or those weird green balls (read: nature).  Nevertheless, I hate that the Parkway is strategically positioned in the middle of the St. Luke's Half Marathon.  I usually feel like a million bucks before turning into the trail, but those miles do a number on my soul.  The curse may have been broken with the celebration run.  I enjoyed every moment of the Parkway.  I'm not going to analyze what changed, as I've run that route with so many great people.  And that's my story.
To wrap up this already too long, disjointed post, a few notes worth mentioning:
  1. I did see a movie in the theater.  Sure, I've seen Jurassic Park years ago, but not in 3D!  
  2. As planned for 2013, I succeeed in listening to a lot more Foo Fighters.  Word on the street is that they'll release a new album in 2014. I wait for that with anticipation.  
  3. I read at least one book NOT about running - Nano by Robin Cook.
  4. I wasn't able to complete my tee shirt quilt.  I'm just a little overwhelmed with the whole proess.  I honestly tried to squeak this project in last weekend, but that didn't work.  I thought about getting it done today; that was just a silly thought.  Maybe next year.  :P
  5. If my calculations were correct, I published 27 posts in 2012.  This post will be #28 for 2013.  Yay.  Progress.
Happy New Year, friends.  Thank you again for being with me on this blogging journey.  You are my silent audience - laughing, crying and screaming with me.  Cheers for a happy and healthy 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reasons to Celebrate

Today has been amazing, but I need a little break.  I'm relaxing on my chaise to take the pressure off my feet while my fingers chat away with the keyboard of my new MacBook Air (told ya I was a good girl this year).  We're expecting a few friends and their children in two hours.  Right now, I'm enjoying the silence.  Ava is playing quietly in her room, Alli is napping and the husband is on another one of his beer seeking adventures.  Here I am.  What a great day!  A few weeks ago I was invited to celebrate a friend's birthday in true running geek style - run 13.1 miles on her day.  I didn't hestitate to jump on the opportunity to spend a few hours with lovely ladies doing what I enjoy.  Although I had a few jitters that usually precede a race, I didn't stress about the run.  Instead of following my typical pre-race rituals, I threw that out the window.  I felt reckless (read: rebel), but my lack of organization didn't distract me.  

Most of us started together to run the entire route.  We donned matching hats (thanks, Shannon!) and left our cars behind.  As with our regular runs we chatted about anything and everything.  At the end of our first loop, we tackled THE HILL...at the birthday girl's request, of course.  Our feet carried us over the back of the mountain until our heads crested at the top for a brief pause before heading down the front side.  Over the hill.  Check.  

We picked up a few more runners for the second loop barely disrupting our pace.  The additions didn't alter the chemistry of the pack; it just got better.  More chatting followed laughter and some rolling hills before we, again, challenged THE HILL...ahem, at the pressure of the birthday girl.  We happily obliged.  It's clearly my opinion that this climb seemed easier.  I think the adrenaline of knowing that we were almost done helped push me up that hill.  As if I had a ton of rocks strapped on to each ass cheek, I barreled down the other side.  With just a 1/2 mile to go, we created a short loop and headed to the parking lot.  The pack was met by a cheering crowd ready to give us medals for a job well done.  Two pretty girls (birthday girl's kids) hugged their Mom as Dad stood back with a smile.  The pride we felt for her and the outpouring of support we saw lifted our hearts.  What an amazing day!  

This morning, we ran for health and friendship.  Cheers to my new-found am runners.  I never imagined that I'd meet a great group of women WHO ACTUALLY WANT TO RUN AT 5 AM DURING THE WEEK!!!  Thank you for keeping me on 'pace', so to speak, and welcoming me into your circle.  Most of all, thanks to the birthday girl for showing me that age is just a number (I will just have to keep telling myself that).  

We do, however, need to figure out how we can get four + treadmills and a coffee pot in one room when bad weather strikes.  



Monday, December 23, 2013

I Believe…

It’s so easy to complain.  It’s easy to whine.  Sometimes, it’s all too easy to blame someone else, regardless of where the blame really lies – why do we need to find a guilty party?  Getting to the root of this problem doesn’t matter for this post.  In reality, this happens.  We do it.  Some of us go out of our way to pin the issue on someone else.  Whatever.  I’m not squeaky clean in this, either.  I get annoyed that my house is cold; at least I have heat and clothes to stay warm.  I get frustrated with my hubby if his boat shoes are in my way; I should be grateful for finding my soul mate.  I’m dissatisfied with my job; I need to find the joy in my work.  I can get annoyed with the girls’ bickering; I must cherish the time I have with them.  And so the list goes on and on…
Whatever you celebrate, it’s Christmas Time for me.  Whether it’s Kwanza or Hanukkah or even Festivus, the end of the calendar year marks a time of joy.  We all walk a little gentler, talk a little softer and lean in a little closer.  Families set aside their differences (sometimes) to share a meal and conversation.  Friends schedule outings in celebration of days past and a toast to the future.  We, as a society, behave more human.  Those moments progress in slow motion, clicking by, frame by frame as the soundtrack plays in the background.  And, then, just like that – it’s all over, as if it never happened. 
I’m getting old.  Yup, I said it.  I hear the responses already: “Age is just a number”; “you’re only as old as you feel”…please send me your responses and I’ll be sure to add them to my list.  I say this a lot.  The reality is that I AM getting old – that’s kinda the process.  In addition, as I mature as a wife, parent and member of society, my view points change.  My teenage beliefs, over time, have blossomed into a position that I believe better supports my children.  I now see exactly where my parents were coming from.  I guess this is the battle of the ages – never ending and always evolving.  I’m screwed.
Yet again, I digress. 
So, it’s Christmas Time.  My cynical approach to this season starts just before Thanksgiving.  I’m disappointed about the focus on the retail madness, but I don’t partake in those activities.  It’s not my bag.  I take each day as they come, anticipating the asshole driver or the disgruntled shopper.  To my surprise, I don’t recall encountering too much of this crap.  Overall, we get consumed with the hype that we ignore what really matters.  I honestly enjoy shopping for other people.  Sure, I’m known to pick up something for myself along the way, but I love finding the ‘perfect’ gift and anxiously awaiting it’s unveiling.  With each year, Christmas Magic grows in intensity as the girls get older.  The hubbs and I find ways to incorporate Santa and all the magic into the day.  They believe.  It’s precious. 
I believe, too. 
Three recent events rekindled my belief in the Magic of Christmas. 
1.  A local community has rallied around a little girl quickly losing her battle with leukemia.  This beautiful girl, Laney, just celebrated her eighth birthday; her family knows that she will not live to celebrate her ninth.  Laney’s story has touched so many people that thousands flooded her street to sing Christmas carols, an item on her bucket list.  Donations and gifts continue to pour in from friends and strangers alike. 
2.  Sadly, during a domestic dispute a father murdered his wife in front of their three children.  Forever changed, those kids had their innocence stolen.  With nothing but the clothes off their back, they moved in with a foster family (no relatives in the US) to start the healing process.  A co-worker, who’s son is a friend of one boy, started a monetary collection to help supplement an account set up for the children.  In this time of empty wallets, within two days, our department has raised over $2000.  Speechless. 
3. Story #3 will take more space.  This touches me in a way that makes my hands tremble and my heart ache.  This story makes me ask ‘Why?’.  It’s situations like these that highlight my lack of faith.  I don’t understand; I don’t accept; I can’t see the bigger picture. 
This past Saturday, my dear friend lost a close friend.  I didn’t know her well, as our paths crossed, at most, five times.  I did, however, hear a lot about her.  This woman, Molly, was a pillar of strength for two little girls and a gentle man.  The world lost a woman who put up a hell of a fight for almost two years.  After hearing of her initial diagnosis, I broke down in tears.  I put myself in her shoes, her husband’s shoes, her children’s shoes.  She needed to hold her head high for her babies.  She needed to show that there’s no battle too difficult to fight.  I can’t imagine all the feelings and pain that ripped through the family, but I know it wasn’t easy.  They did find some comfort and lived each day to the fullest.  ‘Each day is a blessing’, I heard her husband say a number of times.  It’s an unbelievable comment coming from a person staring in the eyes of adversity. 
Last Friday, she was admitted to the hospital for what would be the last time.  Her body weakened as the days flew off the calendar.  The prognosis didn’t seem great, but I observed something magical.  I went with my girlfriend on Wednesday to see Molly.  Once she was settled in her bed, we walked into her room.  She looked better than I expected, but still not good.  I grabbed her hand; it was warm.  And that’s all.  I just held her hand.  Without words, she showed me that there is no battle too hard to fight.  Later that evening, after dinner, I cried at the table.  I cried for Molly, I cried for her husband, but most of all, I cried for her girls.  Her little princesses will be forever changed by this milestone – an event happening too early in their lives.  I can’t imagine EVER saying good-bye to my babies – watching them walk out the door for the last time.  Molly must have been so scared.  Right?  It hurts me to think about my girls never being able to hug me, snuggle, or hear my voice again.  Would my memory fade?  Could they close their eyes and see my face? 
I do know that Molly must have been one special lady.  I understand she was a bit of a planner and left behind a hell of a legacy.  Her strength is reflected in the support that her husband and kids continue to receive.  A wonderful network of friends, family and even strangers pulled together to offer support.  From homemade meals and Christmas gifts to kind words and play dates  – people shuffled priorities and rearranged schedules.  I still can’t see the bigger picture and I continue to ask ‘Why?’, but my faith in humanity has been restored.  Maybe supporting each other and just being ‘human’ IS the bigger picture. 
Rest in peace, Molly.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013


The past few days were filled with holiday hustle and bustle.  We would be hosting my small family for Thanksgiving and the preparations began last Saturday with the TWO turkeys vacating the freezer.  Yes, I know – two turkeys?  Sounds pretty gluttonous.  Everyone loves leftovers, so why not?!  The hubb and I jokingly (but in all seriousness) decided to have a turkey-off.  Our turkeys blossomed through the days – my turkey, rubbed in salt, relaxed in the refrigerator for a few days while the ‘other’ soaked in a honey salt bath.  My turkey, butterfly style, was massaged with a soft fresh herb butter and tanned in a high degree oven.  The ‘other’ laid out on the grill and got stoned.  Clearly, mine was more sophisticated.  Nevertheless, we, along with the children, enjoyed a lovely day with my parents, my bro and his dame.  I’m thankful for the time that we spent together. 

There is SO much good in my life that I am thankful for.  Here’s a summary:

Family.  Friends.  My skills in the kitchen (enhanced by good genes and the ability to Google).  Strong coffee on a rough morning.  A beautiful home.  Befriending a wonderful group of ladies to share frequent early am runs; my husband for watching the ladies on long runs.  Finding my yoga, again (or maybe it finding me).  My job – no matter how challenging, or frustrating, I am employed and building character.  Snoozes on the couch by the pellet stove.  Getting up for seconds (or thirds) on dessert.  My late mother-in-law’s blossoming Christmas cactus.  Sharing good music and wine with my Dad.  Text messages from my Mom (a recent activity in light of her new iPhone). 

I am thankful for all of you who read my blog.  Since college, my writing is a little (ahem, a lot) rusty – My punctuation is all over the map, I can’t stick with the right tense through out a piece and I pepper paragraphs with flowery language.  This blog gives me another outlet.  Thank you for being supportive.  I’ll remember you when a major publication picks me up. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

By the way, my turkey tasted better.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yoga Blunders

Too many times for me to recall a wardrobe malfunction during my own practice.  When teaching yoga, I spend more time demonstrating poses and giving verbal/hands on assistance that I don’t get a full practice.  This is the point, though.  I’m there to lead you.  In most cases, my wardrobe isn’t as much of a problem during teaching because I’m not doing the majority of the poses.  But, it’s a whole new ball game when you’re the practitioner.  I’d like to take this space on the interwebs to share my wardrobe mishaps.  Maybe it will make you feel more human.  Maybe it will make you laugh.  Maybe it will do both.  Maybe you’ll decide to donate some money in order for me to get some new clothes.  Regardless of the outcome, I need to get this off my chest.  No pun intended.  :)
During my teacher training classes, we spend a good portion of time discussing the options when offering an assist to a practitioner.  Sometimes the assist is a verbal cue; oftentimes, in my experiences, this assist is a hands on adjustment.  The end goal is to help the student create some space and relax all the while maintaining great alignment.  Some assists will help the person get into a pose they’d might not be able to do on their own.  Such is the case of my handstand assist blunder.
I’m unsure of my strength when it comes to doing a handstand.  I think that’s what holds me back.  I can do a headstand without any issues…hands is a different story.  During a Wednesday evening class, my trainee group started talking about the art of flying from one pose into the next.  One of the transitions between two poses happens to be handstand.  I usually skip over the preparation pose for handstand – almost pretending that it doesn’t even exist.  We got on the topic of doing a handstand and before I knew it, we started getting into the prep pose.  Great. 
The first trick is to jump the feet off the floor with the knees pulling into the chest.  Ultimately, the hips need to be in line with the shoulders to keep the alignment in the body.  The assist for this hop is to spot and hold the student’s hips above the shoulders as the knees draw into the torso.  Easy assist.  My mental block prohibits my hips from getting high enough; I’d feel comfortable with my teacher helping me the rest of the way.  I planted my hands firmly on my mat shoulder width apart and focused on a spot between my hands, just past my finger tips.  I was ready.  I hopped lightly three times before my teacher caught my hips and guided them up in line with my shoulders.  Wow.  What a light feeling…as my boobs fell out of the top of my shirt.  I immediately dropped to the floor and tucked my fun bags back into my top.  Guess there wasn’t enough spandex to keep those puppies guarded.  Dang. 
Believe it or not, the majority of our class work doesn’t involve us actually doing a lot of yoga.  We spend most of the time in lecture, discussion and observation.  Of course, one goal of the training is to make us comfortable and competent in providing safe yoga instruction.  The yoga school built a few free community classes into the schedule for the trainees to practice their teaching.  Thankfully, if it wasn’t our time to teach we could take the class.  Yay!  I love taking classes.
As I continue to reshape my body, my clothing choices decline.  I don’t always have time to crank out a load of laundry, so my few ‘go-to’ tops might not be readily available.  Such was the case on this fateful Sunday morning.  I found a top with a stretched out shelf bra, but it still fit okay.  The problem with the bra was that it didn’t have any padding.  For the clueless out there, no padding = ‘you must be cold’.  Thankfully, I found two clean cups that normally fit into my running bra and carefully placed them in the top’s shelf bra.  I did a few stretches with no awkward cup shifting.  Perfect. 
At the start of class, I walked to the front of my mat and prepared for a few rounds of Sun Salutations.  Towards the end of the first round, as I walked my feet to the front of my mat in the forward bend, I took a long exhale through my nose and tucked my chin gently towards my chest.  Here, my chin was met by not one, but two cups that had wiggled halfway out of my top and met in the center of my chest.  One false move and those babies would be popping out onto my mat.  Oh.Crap.  Just before I came up to standing, I reached into my top, balled the cups up in my hand and tucked them under my sweatshirt that was on the floor beside me.  I don’t think anyone noticed, but I was aware of my inability to turn off my high beams. 
Sun Salutation
Today I had attended a community class.   This is the last community class I get to take before teaching next week.  Stuck with the same laundry dilemma, I dug through my drawer to find an older sleeveless yoga top.  It’s been a while since I had worn it and I noticed that my torso didn't have as much meat to fill out the arm holes.  Clearly, never learning a lesson, I proudly put the top on and left for class.  I stationed myself in the back corner to be a visual aide for some of the new participants in the back of the class.  The instructor led us through some gentle stretches before we moved on to the Sun Salutations. 
I stepped forward to the front of my mat and took a long exhale.  Inhale, arms up, exhale fold forward.  Inhale, head lifts, exhale walk or hop back to low push up.  Inhale upward dog, boobs out, exhale downward dog.  Breathe for five breaths.  Focus on your left nipple.  HANGING OUT OF YOUR TOO BIG TOP.  WTF.  I adjusted my top and continued on.  With each Sun Salutation, my boobs fell out of my top.  Those upward dogs let my little raisins shine to the heavens.  Dear Lord!  Interestingly enough, this malfunction didn’t disrupt my practice too much.  I incorporated subtle top adjustments to minimize the showing of boobage.  I didn’t throw out the top.  I probably won’t.  Maybe next time I’ll wear another bra underneath; maybe not.  Who knows?
I do know that these three blunders won’t be the last.  Let’s just hope I keep the situation isolated to the top.  I don’t want to imagine how my pants could malfunction. 


I guess I haven’t posted anything since the end of September.  Yikes.  Well, I guess the three of you who read this crap are pretty pissed.  Or, you’re relieved that I haven’t had the time to produce this shitty blog.  Sorry to disappoint…this post is going to be published.  So much is going on.  I can’t pick just one thing…it’s possible that I could have forgotten more than I remember, at this point. 
Let me get you up to speed:
  • I continue to run my little arse off which has resulted in me breaking PR’s.  (yay). 
  • I’m about 10 months of being 98% Paleo, resulting in little to no discomfort/pain and a loss of roughly 10 more lbs.
  • I am seriously reconsidering my career.  This process is dragging my emotions through the hot coals, but I’ll emerge a stronger person (as long as I don’t destroy myself – a delicate balance).
  • My yoga, now more than ever, supports me.  Another segment of my teacher training is in the books.  One to go! 
  • I found a wonderful group of women who actually like to run at least three times a week at a good pace EARLY IN THE MORNING. 
  • I survived two weeks of single parenting (and working full time) while the hubbs romped around Europe.  Kudos to me for preparing home cooked meals every week day!
  • I just ended a two day (what was looking like four day) jury duty.  I sat on a trial that ultimately ended with the defendant pleading guilty.
Now that we’re all caught up…
This past Saturday, I decided to save myself from irresponsible mother of the year, by taking Ava to the local library.  She had renewed a book from her school library, but I wasn’t able to finish the read before it was returned.  In order to keep the story rolling, and make for a fun activity, I pulled the family together after breakfast for a trip to the library.  Just out of gas, we pulled into the bustling parking lot.  Of course, there was a weekend event at the community center consisting of bake sales, a craft fair, silent auction and a used book sale.  Much to my dismay, I parked in the ‘staff only’ lot and we moved quickly through the cold into the front of the building.  The library was situated immediately to the right, just between two mobs of people.  We split the middle and crossed the threshold. 
Years have passed since I set foot in a library.  If I remember correctly, I used the library to hang out or sleep, not as a place to actually get work done, or even (get out!) read.  While studying English during my undergrad, I occasionally sifted through the types of careers possible with my background.  Being a librarian (or whatever fancy name they have now) never crossed my mind.  I didn’t think of it as much of a career and I certainly couldn’t figure out that decimal system.  Numbers were never a strength for me; not sure why I would be interested in mixing numbers and letters. 
We walked to the children’s section, but soon realized we had no clue how to find the book.  I found a PC close by to search for the book in question.  As an IT professional, I found it annoying that the machine was SOOOOO SLOW.  With time, the search returned a few results, but none seemed on the money.  A link was presented to try the search on Google, but the library’s network had all search engines blocked.  FOR.THE.LOVE.OF.NANCY. We decided to ditch this method and go back to Plan A – just start looking.  Of course, we found the series of books, but ‘#1’ in the series wasn’t there.  Ava settled on another volume and Allison picked out a dinosaur book.  We quickly maneuvered through people and displays to wait in the check out line. 
We decided to get three library cards – one for Ava, one for me and one for the Mr.  The lovely, and thorough, woman (we will call her Mulva) behind the counter took our driver’s licenses to begin the address verification process.  She handed us three applications for us to complete.  Although Ava is only five, she needed to sign her own application.  She was excited to help fill out the form.  During this time, an older man stepped in line behind us.  He actually decided to bypass the true end of the line.  He waited.  And waited.  And waited.  He stood so close behind me I swore I felt his stale breath on the back of my hair.  I could almost feel him losing his patience.   Mulva, still taking her time, continued to enter our information into the computer, when Mr. Crotch let out a sigh and firmly asked, ‘What’s going on here?’  Yes.  I was waiting for this moment.  I informed Mr. Crotch that we were getting library cards.  ‘Cards?’ he asked.  ‘Yes, Mr. Crotch (implied), library cards.’  I can’t recall what he said in return, but he couldn’t believe that it was taking *this* long.  Not soon enough, Crotch was helped by another person behind the desk – pissing off the group in which he cut.  Good time.  
Mulva asked me and the hubbs if we’d like to authorize someone else to pick up books for us.  We both declined.  Then Mulva informed me that although Ava is five, she needed to ask her the same question in order to maintain the appropriate level of privacy.  Ahem.  Excuse me?  Since when did the library regulations become so stringent.  And really?  I am Ava’s legal guardian.  At this stage of the game, I can trump her decisions.  Ridiculous.  Of course, Ava didn’t really understand the question which prompted me to re-state with words Ava would understand.  Thank GOD she gave me the authority to pick up books for her.  Really?
But wait…
It gets better.
Proud Mulva handed me Ava’s library card and gave Ava a sticker that read “I got my library card today.”  I knew, as any parent with more than one child, that Alli would be upset if she didn’t have a sticker, too.  In an innocent tone, I asked Mulva if I could get a sticker.  She kindly replied that the stickers were for the children.  I informed Mulva that I also got a library card and should get a sticker.  Nope.  Apparently, she was going to be a stickler for enforcing the age limit (whatever the hell that really means).  So much for that angle.  I just blurted out - “Then, can I just have a sticker for her younger sister even though she didn’t get a card?”  Mulva, in all seriousness, responded, “I guess I can break the rules this one time,” as she handed me a sticker.  Really?  W.T.F.
I still can’t get over this library situation.  I find it amusing that there’s a privacy component.  It’s fascinating that in the world of health care (in which I’m most familiar) I make all the decisions for my five year old little girl, but when it comes to library services I’m a piece of crap.  Oh, Mulva…is that your real name?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Weekend of Firsts

This was a weekend for the record books, for sure. One again, I signed up for the Runner's World Hat Trick on what happened to be one of the busiest weekends this Fall. Friday was too busy that I didn't have time to pick up my bib. I decided to wait until early Saturday am. The hubbs and I met up with some friends at a local tavern for food and beers (I had delicious cider - gluten freak). We rounded out the evening with the Dorney Park Haunt. I held firmly in not being pressured to ride any roller coasters. I don't do well, and I wasn't in the mood to lose my voice before a busy race weekend. We picked up the kiddies just before midnight and got them all tucked in before turning in ourselves. At the rate I was going, I'd be getting just under five hours of sleep. My goal was to finish each race...NOT race. 
Saturday race morning, I rolled out of bed to shower, dress and head out for a Dunkin' large hot tea with sugar. I pulled into the ultimate parking spot just shy of 6 am. Instead of pissing away two hours doing nothing, I thankfully, brought a book and ripped though a couple dozen pages. Look at me!  Close to the start of the 5K, I bumped into a friend making her way back after injury.  I had hoped to find someone to run with - this turned out perfectly!  We chatted through most of the race and finished strong. Eventually, we returned to my car to get warm and hang. I'd be on my own for the 10K - I cherished the rest of my time with her. 
My goal at the start of the 10K was to finish..that was my only goal. Who the hell was I kidding?  
I found a few friends, we exchanged well wishes and headed on our way. Long story short, I crossed the finish line with a new PR. Oh, snap!  After cooling down in a warm space, I drove home in search for food...lots of food. I picked up lunch for the family and we joyously ate together.  I took my time eating, but absolutely devoured every bite. We all decided that quiet time was in order. I must have passed out for 90 minutes; the couch ate me up. It took a while for me to get moving again, but knowing we had another busy evening lit a fire under my butt. 
School Halloween carnival and a Halloween parade was on the agenda. I packed the car with the double stroller, blankets, hoodies, water, snacks and everything short of the kitchen sink. The carnival was cute...I think the two year old had more fun than her older sister.  We spent about 45 minutes there before finding a local spot for a quick dinner. Two kids meals, one burger and one chicken sandwich later, we headed back outside to find the perfect parade watching perch. The parade 5K started at 7 pm.  The kiddies enjoyed cheering on the costumed runners and pointing out familiar characters.  Although the parade started at 7:30, we were at the tail end of the route. We waited for what felt like an eternity. Sadly, the rain came first. It came on so strong that I decided to run back to the car to grab three umbrellas. Before the lead police cruiser approached the corner, I crossed the street and proceeded to run the sidewalk in time to cover the kids.  
My glasses were covered in rain making it tough to see.  A little further. And just like that, a woman stepped back into my path causing me to trip over her heel. I went airborne. Superman style. I landed flat, face down and slid about four feet on the slippery concrete. My palms, chest and knees burned. I put my face on the ground and laid there for about thirty seconds. 'Oh, Shit,' was what I remember myself saying. Then, from four feet behind me I heard a woman say, 'Oh my God. Are you okay?'  I didn't turn around. I didn't answer. I pushed myself up, grabbed the umbrellas and took off running again. I threw the umbrellas down at the base of the stroller and bent over trying to catch my breath. Very long story later (with lots of passion and curse words - sorry babe), we eventually camped out under a closed bank drive through lane until the rain let up somewhat for us to book it to the car. 
We warmed up in the car and drove home. After putting the kids to bed, I took a hot shower and passed out forgetting to take ibuprofen. 
Another five am wake up, another trip to Dunkin' and another drive to the start of the half marathon. I thought I could run.  My knees ached, but it felt more like my bruised skin passing over my knee cap instead of the actual bone. My goal was to cross that finish line - nothing more. I tried to find a friend at the start, but it proved impossible with the sea of people I had to navigate. I'm surprised I was able to line up with the 9:30 pace group. Again, I wasn't looking for time, but I figured that pace would be manageable given yesterday's races and last night's fall. 
As expected, some of the hills were killer, but I powered through. I think the Quadzilla shirt I was sporting helped me eat those hills. The sun warmed my body, whereas the shade forced me to pull my hat down tight. Given the situation I was pleasantly surprised with my pace. I mentally started to fade with about four miles to go.  I started to chant - focus, focus, focus.  There could be a PR in my future, but I didn't want to get too excited about it. I had seen that before - PR pace, feeling good...then the mental game takes over; the pace group I'm running from chases me down and eats me up, just like my couch. I ran a fast downhill with two-ish miles to go...on my way. The pack crossed the bridge and rounded the curve towards another water stop.  I kept moving. We rounded another two corners to meet the mile 12 marker and the race clock.  Even if I ran the slowest mile, I would come in under my PR. But seriously, another damn hill. I knew it was coming, but my legs had forgotten. Those chicken legs ran that stretch of road twice yesterday; it seemed as if they were on strike today. 
A lovely woman on the side of the road saw me struggling.  She started screaming at me, 'FOCUS!  You got this. Don't quit. Just focus. If not, you will regret this tomorrow. I can't run. Do it for me!'  I had no freakin clue who she was, but I still remember her face.  I still hear her voice. I started chanting again - focus, focus, focus. We rounded the last curve to make way for the finish line. 
I crossed in 1:53:19. My previous record of 1:59:14 (2010) fell. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Clearly what I wrote a few minutes ago shouldn't have been published. The technology gods frowned upon my candid thoughts and decided to auto delete my draft post. Damn, I thought it was pretty good. Something about a downward spiral, roasted potatoes and a Yip Pip. 
The last few weeks have been outta control. I am piecing everything together only to discover that there is a different picture underneath. I've made enough subtle changes over the past fourteen days that my focus has shifted to be more in the present as opposed to the past or future. I'm sitting here, at my kitchen table, finishing a delicious Rum Chata chai while taking a few deep breaths. I am not anxious about the day ahead - first work/school day without the hubby (includes two swimming lessons in the evening). Dinner is already ready to go, car is packed, lunches made and the morning plan is good as gold. Among all the business, Project Muffin will continue as planned. The process of reframing and remodeling cannot end.  
As the soreness from this morning's yoga teacher training class sets in, I am thankful this program came into my life. I knew emotionally that I needed to get myself back to the mat and this training would be the vehicle to get me there. I would be given another opportunity to finish what I started (read: http://muffinmadness35.blogspot.com/2013/01/finish-what-ya-started.html) and bring focus back. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Chapters – Many Books – One Volume

I can’t exactly pinpoint the reason(s) as to why I have not posted something ‘reader-worthy’ for a while.  I guess the only response I have is – LIFE HAPPENED.  Life happened and life continues to happen; I challenge myself to find balance.  This must be my overall goal, minus all the details, of course. 

Since it’s back to school season, I’ve been asked about my summer.  “Did you have a good summer?”  “Sad to leave summer?”  “Did you go anywhere fun for your summer?”  I’m trying to fully understand the questions with no success.  Summer hasn’t been the same since October of 2000 - I got a ‘real’ job.  When you have a ‘real’ job, you responsibly choose to go to work almost every business day.  You’re alert and ready to tackle whatever task may come your way.  You decide that it’s better to go home earlier, after that extended happy hour, because calling out sick with a hangover isn’t very responsible.  If you do have a hangover, you get your ass out of bed anyway, pump as much caffeine into your veins as possible and make it a point to go out for a greasy burger and fries as lunch.  But I digress.  Sure, my summer was fun. 

As I mentioned, the end of summer leads into the start of school.  This year would be much different for me – Ava would be starting Kindergarten.  Ava would be getting on a bus to travel to a brand new school, not knowing anyone, and then finish her day in a new after care program.  My emotional circuit was on overdrive.  My husband will tell you there were a few shorts causing some disruption to the regularly scheduled program, but he rolls with it.  (God Bless that man).  The first day of school was also my birthday. 

I remember when birthdays used to be a time of pride and celebration for me.  I looked forward to being a princess for the day (and, maybe I stretch it out a little).  I have fond memories of the year that my birthday fell on the first day of school.  I felt like a celebrity.  I sauntered down the hallway, pony tail a-swingin’,  with a tray of ice cream cone cupcakes for the class.  As the years passed, my excitement transformed into fear, dread and eventually, a slight (ever so slight) depression.  I find difficulty embracing the aging process.  I’ll save that topic for another day. 

On Labor Day, this Labor Day, Ava and I prepped for the day ahead – we picked out clothes for the week, packed her book bag and planned lunches and snacks.  After tucking both kids in bed, I slumped on the couch and began to cry.  I know…it’s hard to believe.  I do cry.  I cried for the time that had passed, the time that was approaching and the time of the future.  I challenged myself to blossom in the moment, but I couldn’t pull myself out of the dark abyss.  The unnecessary sobbing prompted a conversation with my husband.  We didn’t fully solve my problem, but the chatter helped calm me down.  I was thankful for the time.  Before turning in for the evening, I chased two ibuprofen with a glass of water. 

Tuesday, September 3rd – the morning began with a three mile run to welcome the day.  Before I could catch my breath, the rest of the house awoke filled with anticipation.  In what seemed like five minutes, I trailed behind Ava and Marcus, holding hands, walking to the bus stop.  Tears welled in my eyes as the bright yellow cheese wagon rounded the corner and barreled up the road.  The bus slowed down, yellow lights flashing until it came to a complete stop.  Red lights.  Red stop sign.  It all happened so fast.  We walked Ava across the street (I swear she was skipping).  I remember her climbing those stairs – she didn’t look back.  Just like me…on MY first day of school. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

C-O-W e-i-e-i-o

So here I am...five years later for a mole mapping. I should go annually, but my last appointment was so horrible that I decided to abstain. I'm not getting any younger (stay tuned for the eventual birthday post). I need to be in control of my body (read: obsessive). It was time. I scheduled the appt.
I always feel like I'm part of the heard in this practice. I get shuffled from person to person as they throw papers at me for signature, verify all my information repeatedly and shoo me away to wither in the waiting room. The music stinks, the magazines are outdated and the woman next to me smells like mothballs.
But wait! There's more.
Before I give up hope, I'll be escorted into a cold waiting room to undress and wait just a little longer. The fun starts as the PA and medical assistant scans my body with their tools, all the while taking pictures and scrutinizing me for having tattoos and wearing perfume. Yay.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hand Off

Yesterday was the LVHN Marathon for Via.  For the third straight year, I organized a team to participate in the relay.  Good times.  I ran the second leg at my personal best which kept me pumped the rest of the day…even when we almost missed the hand off during the last exchange.

It’s too late for me to compile a race report – half marathon training starts tomorrow which means an early start for me. 

I did, however, feel the need to post the team picture.  Please note, this was taken before the shenanigans of relay race day. 

VIA Relay Team 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This morning I logged what
could have been five lonely miles on the dreadmill. Instead I finished watching Run for Your Life - a documentary on Fred Lebow.
I knew of Fred as the founder of the NYC Marathon and the NYRR Club, but his story was only a blip on my radar. I'm a huge fan of NYC and cannot wait to run the marathon; I felt it necessary for me to educate myself on the foundational fundamentals of the event.
Check out the documentary.
Google him and read his story.
His passion goes unmatched.
My five miles set the base for today and the movie set the tone.

Funny how shit happens.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

When I was in high school, I knew EXACTLY where my Mom kept her cigarettes.  Occasionally, when I didn’t have enough money to buy a pack, I’d bum one or two – Virginia Slims, soft pack.  So many memories and fun facts to share.  One fun fact relates to the ease of purchasing the butts.  Retailers, especially ‘Joe’ from the 7-Eleven, barely checked ID AND I distinctly remember paying under $2 for a pack.  YES A WHOLE PACK.  Years later, before I left Staten Island, a pack of cigarettes cost just about $10.  And let me tell you, the ridiculous price of cigarettes was not a deterrent, just an obstacle that any hardcore smoker would overcome.  But this story isn’t about smoking.  It’s about forward progress. 

Last night, we (as in the family) piled into the car to make our way to dinner.  We called ahead, which actually proved to be successful, leaving us five minutes of wait time in the establishment’s under-construction waiting area.  I sat next to a beautifully pregnant woman who immediately started firing questions at me.  “How old are your girls?”, “How is it with two?”, “Should I keep my oldest in day care while I stay home with the baby?”  Wow.  Interestingly enough, her daughter is the same age Ava was when I had Allison.  Our buzzer went off.  Before leaving, I gave her two pieces of advice - “Keep your daughter in day care.  It will help maintain some consistency and give you time to bond with the baby.  Finally, nap when the baby naps.”  That is all. 

Dinner was enjoyable.  Don’t get me wrong – I love having meal times with my family, but when we’re an hour out from bedtime and the youngest is confined (or in her mind, trapped) in a high chair I expect meltdown central.  The kids got along, the hubbs and I were able to have adult conversations and I had minimal food to pick up off the floor.  Hard to imagine the latter considering the kids’ dinner selection.


Love my ladies.

We arrived home to get the kids ready for bed.  Hubbs needed to get up early for an 8 am hockey game and I was running a 5K.  Before turning in, we both discussed how well the girls behaved, which contributed to us having a lovely evening.  Our sympathetic thoughts shifted to the overly pregnant woman in the waiting area - “Enjoy that dinner, babe.  It might be your last meal outing for a while.”  We chuckled.  But not in an evil way…much. 

Fighting a head cold, I tripped up the stairs and downed an adult dose of liquid nighttime medicine.  Soon, I would be off to la la land.  I started to get nervous about the morning’s race.  I could barely breathe through my nose; I couldn’t imagine running with the double stroller.  I couldn’t imagine running with TWO KIDS in the double stroller.  I snuggled under the covers and reached for my phone.  I set my alarm and navigated to the event website for directions to the race start.  There is a moment in time, after taking said medicine, where you’re quickly pushed into another dimension.  I felt like I was falling, but I barely moved.  My fingers glided in slow motion across the phone, searching for information.  I started to peel through the race pictures from 2011 – the first and last year I ran this race.  I found this gem of a photo.


With a faint smile on my face, I remember so much about this day.  Allison was about 9 or so weeks old and Ava was 3 1/2.  Marcus was playing in a hockey tournament (as he also did today), so it would be a solo adventure with two kids.  The race would also be my first 5K since baby.  My girlfriend, Karen, had also signed up.  This would be her first 5K.  PERIOD.  What a great day!  That picture – little babies, 25 lbs heavier, brand new stroller – inspired me.  You’ve come a long way to let some crappy head cold spoil the greatness in store.  Yeah, and with that, I passed out.  Probably drooled. 

I woke before my alarm with no NyQuil hangover.  Yay!  Not missing a step, I got myself ready, packed the bag full of snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes and the kitchen sink and got the kids situated.  Finally, the forecast featured feathery clouds with plenty of sunshine and the course promised rolling hills.  I’m not used to pushing the ladies much anymore; obviously, as they get older they get heavier.  They continued to be my biggest cheering section while chanting ‘Go, Mommy, Go!’ during two crucial spots on the path.  We finished, with a respectable time, on a downhill.  I took a moment to catch my breath while stretching my hamstrings.  My girl Karen (running this race for the third year IN A ROW) grabbed water for me which I couldn’t drink fast enough.   

I took another moment. 

I’ve come a long way.  It’s been a hell of a journey.  Let the good times roll. 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Faux Pas

This morning, while surfing the InterWebs I discovered a hilarious slideshow from Runner’s World related to Runner Fashion Faux Pas.  I couldn’t resist. 

Here are MY Top 5:

  1. Wild Hair – for some reason, during most races I’m forever annoyed with my pony tail.  Too loose, too tight, too high, too low, too bouncy, too swingy.  Whatever the excuse, my hair situation clearly affects my mental well-being.  How do I resolve?  I let my hair down, of course. 
  2. Shorts Over Tights – during the colder Winter months I wear my cold gear tights.  Sometimes I’m compelled to throw on a pair of shorts on top.  This way I don’t feel so, well…naked 
  3. Make Up – I never leave home without mascara.  Period.
  4. Inappropriate Shorts Length – During the warmer months (March/April – November), if I’m not wearing a skirt, I’m wearing very short shorts. 
  5. “Clashy-Clashy” – Most of my gear (especially for races) includes flashy patterns and loud colors.  I don’t even care if nothing matches.  To polish off the look, I might accessorize with my hot pink and orange Vibrams. 

“Do Your Practice and All Is Coming”

The late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, father of Ashtanga Yoga, offered many words of wisdom.  He believed, and passionately taught, in the importance of constant practice.  Everything comes together with concentration, diligence and, well, practice.  This year, my physical and emotional fitness has shifted to include a yoga teacher training program while lessening my participation in organized races.  Less races = less training.  I do, however, make a few exceptions to all my rules.  There was a race that I needed to run this summer – Quadzilla on July 14th.  Two years ago, Quadzilla’s inaugural kick off, I absolutely wanted to sign up, but with Allison’s birth in early June running the race was unrealistic.  Last year, I decided to volunteer.  Seeing all the runners cross the finish line absolutely fueled my desire to hit the trail and conquer the beast.  I.WAS.IN.
I’ve said this before – the Trexler Nature Preserve Trails are my heaven and hell.  I get so excited leading up to a scheduled run there.  As my shoe hits the trail at take off, I am overcome with a wave of emotion – regret, frustration, hatred – that quickly shifts to pleasure as I climb the last hill.  My heaven and hell.  That same rollercoaster of feelings left the gate again as I submitted my registration for the 3rd Annual Quadzilla 15K Trail Race.  Would I tame the beast?  Do Your Practice…
My last race was the LVRR Super Bowl 10K in February.  I was out of the ‘racing’ groove, but I absolutely maintained a light and regular training schedule.  Two months leading up to the race, I incorporated hill repeats and hill suicides to increase my endurance (ahem, tolerance) during climbing.  As late Spring transitioned into Summer, almost instantly, the humidity rolled in to sit on my chest during my morning runs.  I, smartly, pushed through the uncomfortable, walking when necessary to relieve the pressure.  Every run was followed up by some yoga – even a few Sun Salutations if I was pressed for time – to center my mind and create the space my body needed to recover.  In addition to that, I fit three Trexler Border Trail (8.5 miles) runs with good company.  Doing My Practice…
Two weeks before the race, we traveled to OBX for a relaxing vacation.  I successfully maintained my grain free diet (three months and counting) with the exception of tasting the smallest possible bite of a fresh maple and bacon donut from Duck Donuts.  I fit in three runs, averaging 4 miles each, and one yoga class filled with lots of hip openers and twists.  Most of my runs kick off in the early morning, but I made a last minute decision to go for an afternoon run on our last day there.  I ran a total of five miles (1/2 South on the road, 1/2 North in the surf) at 2:30 pm in 90 degrees.  Did My Practice…
The week leading up to the race was a nightmare.  A dull head ache increased with intensity as the week progressed.  Work, after vacation, absolutely threw me for a loop.  In the back of my mind, I knew that running a hard Trexler trail would be EXACTLY what the doctor would order.  I internalized the desire to punch a wall, or drink myself into an oblivion.  I saved all of this for Quadzilla.  Friday couldn’t come soon enough.  Meeting-wise, I had a pretty light day.  I used my lunch break to take a yoga class.  Sadly, I couldn’t relax or concentrate during Savasana; maybe I didn’t even try.  After-work drinks, Saturday packet-pick up and evening BBQ distracted me enough that I started to unwind from the week.  Sunday would be the test.  Do Your Practice and All Is Coming.
I prepared a quick, but light breakfast with enough carbs and protein (lesson learned from my last trail run).  My late night gear gathering proved successful – I dressed, filled my CamelBak with ice water and left home.  I picked up a medium hot tea with sugar from Dunkin’ before jumping on the highway headed North.  My ‘absolutely-awesome-can’t-be-beat-keeps-me-moving-and-motivated’ playlist oozed through my speakers as it vibrated my soul.  I got goose bumps. 
I found a great parking spot with 45 minutes until race time.  As luck would have it, found all my friends to wish them well before making our way to the starting line.  I let them know that I wasn’t going to talk the entire race.  Usually, I’m fairly chatty with those around me - ‘hey, how are you?’, ‘damn, this sucks!’, ‘THESE HILLS! ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!?!?!’  Not today.  The more I talked the more wind I sucked.  I made the decision to save my breath, save my energy.  I might wind up expending more energy focusing on NOT talking.  Time would tell.  Off we went.
Single track trails in the beginning sucked.  I hopped off the ‘beaten path’ to pass walkers (!) and runners alike high stepping over nature.  Almost immediately my feet were wet, but I didn’t care.  I was going to own this trail.  I maintained great form uphill and downhill.  Eventually, the field spread out and I had some room to play with.  I played a game of Frogger with two women.  We chuckled under our breath as we passed some men on the hills (chicked!).  Before I realized, we made it 3.5 miles to the first water stop (of course, at the top of a hill).  
Excitement & Surprise
As you can see, I was quite surprised to see my friend at the crest. I grabbed some water, said hello, and continued down the trail.  I felt GREAT.  Fresh, alive, relaxed.  Strangely, today, this was my heaven.  Hell led me here.  I lightly toed the trail on the downhill while digging the balls of my feet on the way up.  I hovered over the gravel on each straight away.  I was drenched in sweat, but didn’t feel overworked.  I did, however, yearn to reach the water crossing.  The feeling of dipping your feet in water, especially, while running, instantly cools the body and provides a relief both physically and emotionally.  I experienced that during my OBX runs; I couldn’t wait to take myself back there mentally.
And there it was, like an oasis in the desert…THE WATER…
At water
I approached the opening in the tall grasses with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. 
I sloshed through the thick mud until my feet were entirely submerged in the water.  The picture speaks for itself.
I spent more time in the water than I should have, but at that moment, time didn’t matter.  I slowly navigated the mossy rock until safely reaching the other side.  With roughly a mile to go, I knew I was home free.  I heard the cheering crowd in the distance, but needed to wrap up the race with a 1/2 mile out and back through a grassy field situated on a sharp angle.  After what seemed more like two miles, the grass opened up to a short, but fast downhill road to the finish.  With enough kick left, I barreled down the hill to cross in 1:52.   
This is how I barrel:
Downhill to finish
This is how I finish:
Quadzilla Finish
That day I became Queen of the Hills.  I tamed the beast.  I ate hills for breakfast.  I’m already looking forward to next year.   

Thursday, July 11, 2013

S’chwerty Cray

Last week, we vacationed in OBX.  I had the lovely opportunities of getting in three decent runs and taking a vinyasa yoga class.  The yoga class kicked my butt more than the mileage – just like every run is different, so is every yoga pose.  I woke the next morning so sore in my torso.  Must have been from all the extra twists.  Regardless, I like being a little sore.  It’s a nice reminder of where I’ve been.  So, I spent a lot of time relaxing and now I’m back to reality.  This reality slapped me in the face on Tuesday.  I have no idea what the hell happened, but before I knew it I was sitting at my kitchen table, having just devoured my dinner, with a slamming head ache.  That night I slept.  Wednesday was a little more reasonable in terms of stress, but I picked up a neck strain along the way requiring ibuprofen, massaging and BioFreeze (my friend).  I also slept my face off that night. 

Today.  Today is Thursday.  AMEN.  Today should provide a little more relief.  My meetings, for one reason or another, are being moved or canceled.  I’m anticipating a fairly light day.  Hopefully, this gives me time to catch up on stuff. 

Today.  Today I sit here, drinking my coffee as I let the BioFreeze do it’s thing, looking towards the weekend. 

Today.  Today I sit here knowing that my neck needs to get under control as I have a race on Sunday. 

Today.  Today I sit here ready to tame the beast I lovingly call my ‘heaven and hell’. 

After this week, this short week, I’m going to eat the shit out of those hills for breakfast.  Bring it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fourth Flashback

It must have been the summer of '97.  From this point forward I didn't move home from college for summer breaks. When school let out I needed to move all my crap from my dorm to a temporary room in another air conditioner-free building. I worked part time in the maintenance office performing light secretarial duties for the administrative assistant. Patty let me do whatever I wanted. I spend a lot of time surfing the Internet...particularly playing around in some GeoCities communities. I met a guy from Italy who barely spoke a lick of English, but we got along just fine. Don't get excited; it was nothing romantic. We tried to communicate and learn about each other's cultures. He could have been bullshitting me, but I didn't care. Nevertheless, you get my point about not having any real responsibilities. It was a dream. I definitely took a few classes, maybe one of them being The Theory of Dreams, or some shit like that. I woke up, ate, worked, schooled, partied and fostered trouble. I, and small group of friends, owned the campus. We were overcome by the foreign students who invaded the freshman dorm - the air conditioned freshman dorm.  I can't remember what they were called. I actually just threw out a question to my sorority sisters. We'll have to see if anyone comes back with the answer.*
Occasionally, we hung out with a kid from another frat. I'll call him 'Dean' (to protect myself)...I think he was older age-wise, but was an academic year behind me (at some point this is debatable since I spent five years - including summer sessions - working on my BA). I couldn't quite figure him out...he was clean cut, martial artsy, but had dark eyes that told a different story. It was strange for a freshman to be an RA, but he didn't let that get in the way of a good time. He looked the other way when necessary. I met up with Dean after a less-than-thrilling July 4th BBQ meal in the campus dining hall. We, along with one other friend, smoked cigarettes in Trautmann Square (affectionately called Tiananmen Square) for what seemed like hours. Before I could light another, I cracked open the foil on a box of wine (classy) and followed Dean to the freshman dorm. He possessed keys to all the 'no' areas in the fourteen story building, including the roof access. We climbed the access stairs to a locked door labeled 'ROOF ACCESS'. I intently watched Dean unhook a mess of keys from his belt loop and flip through a number of multi-colored keys until he found the correct one. As he pushed the door open the setting sun blinded us momentarily.  Our eyes adjusted to the light. I continued to follow Dean around a concrete wall until we arrived at the base of rusted metal stairs - he, leading the way; I, carrying the wine. I gripped the flimsy banister as if it was the last thing I would do in life. The flight opened up to an edgeless concrete platform. We found homes for our rears and planted ourselves. I lit another cigarette and took a long drag. As I slowly exhaled, I focused on the horizon's landscape slowly appearing as the smoke dissipated. We could see for miles.  Then, dusk fell.  We sat in silence - smoking cigarettes, drinking wine. Without warning, the sky illuminated in the distant left, then the right, then straight ahead. Fireworks from all corners of NYC sprayed colored brilliance across the night. We didn't speak. 

Every 4th I recall the story. This time around, fifteen years later, we vacationed in OBX for the holiday. I knew there would be firework displays. Our house, situated in a small cul-de-sac off a private beach access, offered multiple decks to view the ocean and inland sides. Three sliding doors on the third level opened to two decks and a screened in porch, respectively. The middle deck was split by a flight of stairs to the ship watch. With nervous legs I wobbled up, gripping the banister with sweaty hands. Making sure to stay away from the side rails, I walked across the platform taking in the panoramic view. I could see for miles. When dusk fell, the housemates situated themselves in preparation for the show. Fireworks launched as close as the next house and both far away north and south. As the distant colors moved in what seemed like slow motion, a smile fell over my lips. I never thought that I'd be able to experience a moment like this again. The difference here is that I shared it with friends and family...better than Dean (who the hell knows what happened to him), a faceless friend and a box of crappy wine. Made for a great story though. 

*my girls never fail to let me down. The foreign students were called ELS, English Language Students. 
Photo: Brad Kayal

Monday, July 1, 2013

Holiday Holiday

Al Roker and Jim Cantore would have fought each other to cover the storm that descended upon Muffinville on June 22, 2013. The weather originally called for clear skies, but a fast approaching front turned the calm day into the prelude for the world's worst storm. The skies darkened and appeared to create an early summer squall...nothing more than a passing thunderstorm. I was confident that the storm would end just as quickly as it developed, but I was sorely mistaken.  The storm seemed to last for days. Each morning, I headed for shelter, but the winds continued to pick up.  The rain, already dumping record amounts, showed no signs of letting up. The basement flooded as water continued to rise from a little hole in the Earth. I maintained a 'glass half full' mentality while the wicked wind beat my body. Nearly thrown face down into a puddle I held on to a sapling, practically folded in half, trying to sustain its upright position after days of being thrashed westwardly. The rain eventually stopped, the winds died and the water receded. Today, cloudy skies over head.  A few cold drops of rain fell from above, cutting through the thickness in the air, to rest on my warm skin. I watched a sand crab meticulously dig his hole, close to the shore line.  He moved with such precision, stopping every now and again as if to tease me with his next move. 
I haven't paid any mind to the weather, my flooded basement or the damaged trees. Suddenly, they don't matter anymore. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Look! A bird!

I hit the pillow Tuesday night late enough that I couldn’t move Wednesday for a 5 am run.  No matter…I needed the extra rest for my evening yoga teacher training.  My four hour evening classes absolutely challenge the body.  We’re not positioning ourselves into difficult poses or standing on our heads.  We spend at least one hour sitting on the unforgiving floor observing our teacher and the practitioners she’s instructing.  Sitting tall for five minutes can be exhausting.  So, Wednesday, by the nature of my schedule and the tasks as hand, became a day of intense focus.  As some would say, I brought my ‘A’ game.  This work day of extreme energy draw slowly chipped away at my my soul.  My polished look gave the illusion of an orderly character gliding through just another day. 

I dashed home forty minutes before my yoga class to change, gather my materials and pack a light dinner.  My overflowing, backbreaking bag contained two anatomy books, one binder, one notebook, a hardbound Ashtanga yoga practice book, the Yoga Sutras, a yoga strap and some deodorant (random, yes).  With that bag slung over my quivering shoulder, I grabbed my mat, water bottle, lunch bag and a hoodie as I made my way to the car.  I barreled in the front seat trying to navigate my crap to the passenger side (with a few choice words).  Regardless of what was in store for class tonight, I could use the change of pace.  I drove to the studio with the sunroof open while blasting Foo Fighters.  (GREAT, GREAT SONG…btw

Get this (Mary Remy shout out): I clumsily enter the building being sure to bang my water bottle against the door frame.  Some of the students, already piled in the office, engaged in whispering discussions about the evening’s agenda.  Apparently, without previous knowledge, we would be charged with teaching a portion of a class.  Each student would be given a series of postures to demonstrate and lead the class through.  Oh those poor unsuspecting people!  I was not phased by our task since I had been comfortably leading classes for about 7 years, or so, but some of the other students were absolutely thrown for a loop.  Once given their list of poses, some women furiously flipped the pages of their practice book for further insight.  I sympathized with them; I had been nervous once before. 

The usual class (held at 5:45 pm) was lightly attended, so our teacher asked us to fill in the blank spots and take the class when we weren’t teaching our sequence.  YAY!!!  Normally, Wednesday’s are spent sitting on my butt watching everyone else practice.  I could absolutely use the extra quiet time to assist in my unwinding.  I rolled out my mat with a smile on my face and stood tall.  Throughout the class, I paid attention to the placement of my feet and my gazing points (drishti).  Sweat poured down my face as I floated into Virabhadrasana B.  AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH.  Exactly what I was looking for.  Slowly, the thoughts of that day escaped my conscious; I practiced in the present.  My series of poses called for a few inversions near the tail end of the class sequence.  I stepped off my mat to position myself in front of the room and started the instruction.  After leading the group, I quietly stepped back to my mat for the finishing postures. 

A few minutes later I was lying on my back with my head comfortably resting on the mat.  My eyes closed.  Not a care in the world.  The present seemed to drift away.  I was there and no where.  For a quick moment, I thought of my beautiful girls.  Surely it was close to their bed time.  I ran through a quick check – yup, there are clean jammies for the hubbs; yup, they’re put away, so they’ll be easy to find; well, if he has trouble Ava knows.  OH SHIT!  (eyes open wide) I FORGOT TO GET DIAPERS.  CRAP.  SHIT.  OH SHIT.  That was the end of my Savasana.  The focus was gone.  I couldn’t transition back to that place in space.  The final student helped the group bring awareness back to their bodies.  I was already there.  She slowly guided our minds back to the present.  I was painfully there.  She directed us to a seated position, whereas I was already out the door with my mind.  With my legs in full lotus I sat tall and dropped my chin towards my throat.  My hands rested on my knees, palms facing up.  I took a deep breath and practically giggled as I let it out realizing that I can’t be in control of everything.  People need to be let go to make decisions on their own.  I do find it amusing that I did everything in my power to control that day only to lose it during a time where I needed to be accepting of myself.  Touché universe.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Space Cadet

It's a challenge returning to work on a Monday, especially after a great weekend. As the days get longer, I'm a little more relaxed, generally speaking. Oftentimes, I use the extra daylight to procrastinate regular tasks such as putting the kids to bed at a decent hour. We spend more time outside playing and just being free. A working Monday will change all that with the shock of an alarm clock. This past Monday was no different.
I continue to shuffle through every work day with a slow progression to the weekend. Yoga Wednesday is the longest day of the week for me. I spend a full day at work then zip to my four hour yoga teacher training class. Some days I'm not sure how I function, but I just train myself to do it.
I sat in on an interesting work conversation today, Yoga Wednesday. The meeting conversation, held over lunch, focused primarily on the environment of a computer application. I won't bore you with all the details, but the gist of the conversation was between two technical resources. They discussed space. Simply, in order to run an effective environment enough space must be allocated to store the data. This will result in efficient processes and computing all the while maintaining optimal performance. That's the simple explanation.
These two gentlemen carried on a sidebar about the amount of space, price of space, availability of space and the reallocation of space. All this space, mind you, is completely virtual. For a while, I couldn't believe the topic. It all seemed surreal. We were actually talking about space. It started to make my head hurt. At some point, I believe that I went deaf as my eyesight started to fade. Hours after the meeting, my eyeballs throbbed. I stopped home before class to remove my contacts.I forgot to take ibuprofen before leaving. I prayed my visual aches wouldn't advance.
Tonight's class topic was yoga pose cueing. We were called on to make observations of the 'key components' in certain poses to help structure a verbal cue or provide direction to a student. For example, when standing at the top of the mat, the instructor should kindly remind the student to ground their feet into the mat and to stand tall by lifting though the crown of the head. These two verbal assists could be a world of change for a practitioner. As we continued the round table, we started talking about the importance of the breath and how it's used to create space. Hmmm, space again? Taking a deep breath will create some space in the back and help release any tension in that area. Now this is the kind of space I can work with.
We indirectly practiced space creation with students by helping them relax into poses and also by helping them breathe by offering gentle reminders or putting our hands on them to feel their breathing.
I can see both the lack of and the gain of this space. I can help create this space. Oh, and did I mention, this space is free. I can get this space whenever I want. This space absolutely helps me tolerate work conversations about THAT space.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Not in the Cards

This week has been just shy of insane.  Out of the ordinary work schedules has my body thinking that at present time it’s Saturday afternoon.  To complicate matters, the painter arrived on Wednesday afternoon (the REAL Wednesday; my Monday morning) to put the finishing touches on our recently refurbished kitchen.  Once again, we are without full use of the kitchen, so the usual morning and evening workflow could make the Tough Mudder look more appealing.  Today’s work schedule would prove challenging with a big girl meeting at 8 am (requiring more than business causal attire) and a whirlwind afternoon trip to Harrisburg. 
I didn’t have time to run this morning, but I deliberately got up early to get some yoga in the mix.  I rolled out my nearly shredded blue mat on the family room carpet before centering myself in Balasana (child’s pose).  Forty-five minutes and a few flow sequences later, I rolled up my mat, paying mind to not let any mat shreds hit the floor.  I walked through the shell of a kitchen to grab my mug while making my way to the dining room.  This space, for the past month or so, has been the dumping ground for everything kitchen during the project.  In recent days, the volume of shit in this room has picked up while acquiring items from the laundry room (which is also being painted).  Because the washer and dryer are parked in my garage spot, a small hamper of dirty clothes resides in the dining room.  I imagine we’ll be in a world of hurt after three days without the washer/dryer.  Thank God this is a three day weekend. 
Nevertheless, I fire up the Keurig (my morning companion), but she’s clearly pissed.  She didn’t brew me a full cup of coffee.  I got close to a half cup.  I think she might need a cleaning, but the silly side of me believes that she has a true personality and felt slighted when moved out of the new kitchen back into the dining room.  I didn’t get a very good cup of coffee.  I shuffled upstairs to get myself ready.  Not disturbed by the morning beverage glitch, I gleefully ironed my dress post shower.  For the second day, I found a lovely clip to pull my hair up.  I woke up the girls, got them dressed and directed them downstairs for shoes and snack.  Today was Show and Share for Ava – a camping theme – and she decided against her original idea which led me to the basement to find my Girl Scout mess kit.  Of course, the bin containing this item was underneath three boxes of crystal.  Grrr.
Mess kit, purse, phone, shoes (I wore flip flops to drive) and kids in hand, we walked through the kitchen into the garage.  Just like that the skies opened.  I ran to the car to get the umbrella and escort each child to their respective seat.  Less than five minutes later, we were off.  Two and a half miles into the trip, I became very insecure about my hair (yes, I’m a girl) and I ripped the clip out of my damp hair and tousled my mane free.  Well, there goes that.  How annoying.  I parked the car at daycare, paying careful attention to where the puddles resided.  Both girls walked with me to the sidewalk without incident.  I arrived at the meeting location with enough time to spare for a coffee run.  I hit the cafeteria deciding on tea instead.  Unsure of the building layout, I took the elevator to the fifth floor and found the conference room.  Meeting start…rubble, rubble…meeting adjourned…Bye. 
I made it to my office for a couple of power hours before leaving for Harrisburg.  I wasn’t even sure why I was going, but apparently someone ‘inspiring ‘would be the guest speaker.  I should have mapped it out before responding yes – the trip, one way, would take 90 minutes.  I’d spend roughly 2 1/2 hours there before heading back home again.  I would have rather driven to New York for the afternoon.  Traffic sucked; the volume of asshole truck drivers was fairly obscene.  I envisioned myself getting cut off or flipping my car.  Thankfully, I picked up free Sirius radio and listed to Pearl Jam most of the way (oh, with a few featured songs from INXS, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin). 
Parking seemed sketchy and I was in no mood to search for a deck blocks away from the venue, which happened to be a Lutheran Church.  Random.  A few spaces were available in front of the church, but the meter only took quarters.  I had one nickel, one penny and a useless debit card.  I parked my car there anyway.  I figured that my convenience outweighed the cost of any parking ticket.  Meeting start…rubble, rubble…the speaker was actually very inspiring…I left ten minutes early…Bye. 
Back in the damn car.  No ticket, yay!  Gas running low.  Stomach growls.  Oh yeah, I didn’t have time for lunch.  Crap.  Traffic.  I hate 81 and all those damn trucks.  Oh, look Pearl Jam.  Thank God I brought those flip flops.  Sooo, anywhoo, I make it to day care with approximately ten minutes to spare without getting an overtime charge.  Hubbs calls to inform me that the guys are still working on the walls (sanding) and the kitchen it basically sealed and unusable.  We will need to embark on another dine-out experience with the ladies.  Order food…nosh, nosh…’Mommy, can I try your…’…check…Bye. 
The ladies are in bed, hubbs is playing hockey and I’m sprawled out on the couch watching the Rangers’ try to save their chances at playing a game 5 in the second round of the playoffs.  It’s overtime now.  Ugh.  I just finished devouring a half pint size of real Italian ice (YumYum from Lyndhurst Pastry Shop in Jersey) and I don’t feel the least bit guilty.   It’s really been a hell of a week.  I can’t wait to not go to work.  I will get up early tomorrow, but I plan to run the hell out of the pavement.  I need the time to get my mojo working.  Looks like the Rangers got theirs (overtime win!!!). 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Screams in Dreams

My husband and I took our two little princesses to Disney World just a few short weeks ago.  We were also in the company of my sister-in-law, best friend and her husband.  The group got along just fine through the occasional high stress times of melt-downs, humidity induced delusions and longer than average days.  It’s difficult to imagine bad times in Disney when the area is surrounded by magic and the pinnacle of customer service. 
We decided to close our park hopping adventures with a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I had been looking forward to and dreading this park all week.  I tout myself as a tough girl, boss, shot callah and whatever other pride supporting names you can find (polite names, of course), but when it comes to heights, I check out.  Making sure I keep everyone on their toes, I bend the rules a little when it comes to certain attractions. 
Hollywood Studios is home to two GREAT thrill rides: Rockin’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  I have, again to keep people sharp AND confused, been on both rides.  And I have, ahem, enjoyed both…but not without a lot of sweating, heart palpitations, screaming and after-ride shakes.  This time would be no different.  I felt some mild pressure from the adult park goers in my group; the pressure won. 
Not long after lunch (and maybe too soon for my digestive comfort) I gingerly navigated the double stroller through the thick air and waves of people on Sunset Boulevard.  With each heavy step, I felt the airy energy shift to a sensation of tightness.  I glanced up towards the skyline to find The Hollywood Tower Hotel looming over the treetops.  I understand that this ride is just that, but the detail with which designers outfitted the experience is truly unbelievable.  Almost instantly, I found myself in another dimension – The 30s.  Cast characters dressed in maroon bell hop uniforms eerily welcomed me and my two escorts through the threshold of the entrance.  The tall landscaping provided some much needed shade cooling my skin.  I felt cold. 
We quickly walked up the gradual incline until we got to the next checkpoint.  I extended my right hand towards the next bell hop as he pulled the fast passes from my death grip.  I could have turned back there, but I carried on.  As we entered the hotel, I immediately became distracted by the decor – elaborate 30’s furniture mindfully placed about, covered in dust and cobwebs.  The attention to the detail was so powerful that I felt as if the antiques were studying me.  I was out of place. 
Before I had a chance to turn around, a large group of us was herded into the library.  The doors close, the lights dimmed and the lightning picked up.  The room, pumped with energy and air conditioning, sent shivers down my spine causing my skin to react with a mean case of goose bumps.  Yea, that’s it, the air conditioning.  The crowd gets their orientation to the matter at hand and we’re again shuffled through another doorway to the basement of the building – or so we think it’s the basement.  Another point passes.  Ho hum.  We approach another bell hop who is so anxious to load us into the elevator car.  I inform her that we’re a party of three as she guides us to row #1 which only has three spots.  I wiggle my way to the center spot and begin to shake.  Virtually no time passes when the doors to the elevator car opens and we’re ordered inside. 
I mentioned earlier that I had been on this ride before; I absolutely remember every moment of the ride, so I consider myself well enough educated to anticipate its every move.  That, of course, doesn’t help curb my control issues.  I can’t change the course of the ride and now, completely strapped in, there is no way out; there is only a way down.  I grabbed a hold of the yellow tether on my lap belt praying that I wouldn’t pull it out of the buckle.  I started to sweat as the doors closed and we began out ascent.   
Prior to my arrival, I had read previously about the Tower of Terror being struck by lightning thus temporarily shutting down the ride with guests inside the elevator cars.  This occurrence plays nicely with the backdrop story of an elevator car, with a family and bell hop inside, is struck by lightning on October 31, 1939 sending the occupants into the fifth dimension.  Return to May 10, 2013, without a cloud in the sky, I’m petrified that we’ll be struck by lightning, stuck, dropped, all of the above or worse.  There’s no way out now. 
The attraction’s distractions temporarily occupy my mind, but the inevitable future rears its ugly head as the elevator cars open for a third time and we’re briefly confronted with the blinding light of day thirteen stories above Hollywood Studios.  Without warning the car drops.  I white knuckle the strap looking for relief to find myself being propelled in the air again towards another drop.  I screamed at the top of my lungs – the kind of screaming that Drew Barrymore belts out between her red lips in the opening scene of, what else(?), Scream.  At one point, my scream was muffled by pure fear.  Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…Rise, Drop…  I thought each drop sequence would be the last.  As they continued I feared that the system was stuck in some sort of loop.  This repetition increased the fear factor causing me to scream louder.  I almost surrendered to my fate when the car began to move back to its ending track.  The doors opened, I popped my belt and wobbled off the ride.  It took roughly twenty minutes for me to steady my gait and trembling hands, but it was worth it.  I think.