Saturday, March 31, 2007

Women Who Have Shaped Me: The Girls

There's no one way to describe it, the feeling of girlfriends. Trying to get into one post everything I love, adore, admire, and respect about the friends I have is like trying to sum up all the troubles of the world by writing them on a cocktail napkin. The words are so huge and plenty, and the space just so very insignificant and small.

I've had girlfriends all my life. There was Kimmy and Dani in kindergarten. Megan, Melissa and the girl I wanted to copy shoes with every day but cannot seem to remember her name in the third and fourth grade. There was Tracy and Cherise in the fifth grade. Gina and Tara in eighth grade. Shelby, Amanda, Eryn and so many more in high school that if I tried to name them all I'd surely forget someone. Which is probably okay because really, out of all those girls, I've stayed close with two.

There were not any major falling outs, no huge blow up fights, no stealing of boyfriends or worse, hairstyles. But for whatever reason, we just grew apart. Growing up in a military town was part of it, having a sister and therefore a constant girlfriend was part of it, part of it was just me, I suppose. Until college, I really didn't find it desirable nor necessary to have lasting relationships with very many girls. I found them complicated, somewhat exhausting and pretty difficult to handle sometimes. And, of course, it goes without saying that I was probably just like several of them for my share of the time.

Like I said, though, then college came. It was the end of my sophomore year (the year I'd finally decided doing my tour of colleges across Colorado was not as productive as when it began, but that's an entirely different story) and I was in one of many Communications classes that required group projects. We were involuntarily grouped with other members of the class and I just so happened to be grouped with three other fabulous girls and one slacker of a guy. Needless to say, the four of us did all the work. The project turned out beautifully and the friendships even better. Throughout the last seven years, we've managed to stay close through marriages, babies, new jobs, broken engagements, cross-country moves and more. It's not always see-you-every-Saturday close, but more so the kind of close you stay as an adult.

More than anything, these friendships made it possible for me to learn what real, adult relationships with women could be. They gave me the foundation I didn't even know I needed to venture out even more and build real friendships with other women that I'm proud of today.

Possibly where I've seen this most in my life is in my relationships with my fellow female runners. Without getting into what running has given me friendship-wise alone (trust me, that is not only an entirely new post on it's own but possibly an entirely different site), I'll say that nothing has kept me with running better than the friends I've made. Sure, the men are great. Supportive, fast, encouraging, funny, flirtatious, whatever. But the women, they are real. They are fun, inspiring, helpful, concerned and persistent. They are wives, mothers, diaper changers, school administrators, nurses, accountants and so much more. With these other women, I can meet them for a run virtually naked and be outfitted within minutes. No one I've ever met has been more prepared than a female runner.

I'd like to think I could do this for them, too. Most the time, it's not my attire or equipment I'm lacking, though. It's the emotional aspects of life. As many times as I've stated that I believe running is a purely independent act for me, something that comes from deep inside me, it's not this solitude that inspires me. Rather, it's the women I've found through this insane quest to run as much as life will let me that influence me. As a woman, I can guarantee that there's no problem so huge, no dilemma so heavy that won't at least feel lighter and more manageable after talking it out during a run. There's a magic in that, a sisterhood. As rare as it is in life to know that, I feel infinitely blessed to say that I've found it several times over.

I'd be hard-pressed to find any sort of conclusion to an essay like this. How do you sum up people and friendships that haven't only shaped you but have shaped your entire life? I very much share the sentiments of Bre (the brains behind this Women Who Have Shaped Me idea, not to mention the fabulous behind many things) in that I hope the best way to honor these blessings of girlfriends is to consciously appreciate them. From my oldest friends -the two I've held onto since grade school- to the ones I've yet to even meet, I hope to be the best friend I can. I know life cycles, people come and go ,but as I get older and realize the very few real chances we're allotted in life to be a part of something meaningful, I will take advantage of each opportunity.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My Windshield on the World, Part 8

This latest edition of My Windshield on the World finds me in L.A., a trip I took nearly six weeks ago. It seems so long ago that there's a part of me that questions whether or not it even happened. However, as I learned, L.A. can have that effect on you.
Especially in traffic.
It starts out sort of innocent- I think that's it's strategy.

You see some nice views and think "hmmm, not so bad."

Then, out of nowhere, you're in the middle of something I can only define as definitely not Colorado. If anyone from or familiar with L.A. reads this blog, it appears as if I'm going many different directions in these photos. To that I would have to say, uhhh, yeah.

That's sort of how the entire weekend felt, like one big circle of traffic.

Luckily, I was also able to see that yes, people live in California. They make homes and lives and families. Even contrary to my hillbilly-type beliefs, most of them manage to stay out of the news and lead quite normal lives.

Nonetheless, I can't help but believe that after a weekend of driving or riding the highways, you have the benefit of coming away with the true definition of healthy fear.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not How We'd Imagine

In the last couple days, several people have asked me how I can have house guests stay for weeks. "How can you handle that?" they wonder. "I'd go crazy, especially if it were family." The thing is, my sister (and of course the little boy that can do no wrong) is probably the exception. Aside from my love of a full house, these people are right, house guests can be difficult. But not her. There's just something about our relationship that's based in reality. I'm eternally grateful for that.

Along with being real with each other, I think we both happen to find a way to make the best of a situation. For me, it's based in love. And not just a I-love-my-sister-she's-family-of-course-we're-supposed-to-love-family sort of way but more the idea that when you base your actions and motivations in love, you can rarely go wrong. In fact, I've yet to hear a case of this.

The truth is, things are hardly ever how I imagined they'd be. I don't know many people that haven't felt that and if you've been around this blog for more than ten minutes, you know how I tend to struggle with this. It's an acceptance issue, I'll admit but it's the process of the whole thing with which I seem to be in perpetual adaptation. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, I'm still willing to see the bright side. Even when you have to look for them quite intently, those bright sides are usually there, waiting for you.

When I was younger, for whatever reason (too many sappy country songs, too many movies, too many books maybe (but don't try to convince me there can ever be too many of any of these)) I always had this fantasy that saw me far in the future. It was later at night, I was with my family; one I'd helped create, not the one to which I was born. We'd finished dinner, the summer breeze was blowing through the window of the kitchen and we'd turn up the radio and dance. This isn't because we have rhythm, not because we did it on a regular basis. It was just taking advantage of a moment. A time for relaxing, acting silly, and living. There might be a fast song, or maybe slow, my imagination didn't specify. All I knew was, it was a simple pleasure and one I'd longed for my entire life.

But that might not be reality. Reality is, I have no window in my kitchen. The sliding door in the dining room is closest, and late yesterday, it was too windy to open it. My house is full right now, but of another kind of family. A family that I had no part in, and yet one that reminds me every day how I've been blessed. This particular family is not whole right now, which is never in the ideal plans. Still, with the door closed, our bellies full of breakfast-for-dinner fare, our feet bare and the radio volume way up, we danced in the kitchen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Runs in the family

My sister and nephew are here now. He's nearly eleven months old and in case there was doubt, has the personality to prove it. He may strongly resemble his father's side of the family in looks however, the personality seems to be veering sharply toward our side.

For instance, he's a talker. Other than "mamamamama" and "gigi" (when pointing at the doggie, of course) no one really knows what he's saying. But in the true style of our family, that is hardly a reason to stop talking. In fact, it's good reason to talk more. If at first you don't communicate, try, try again. And continue trying until no one will answers the phone when you call or returns your emails at which point it's clearly time to drop by unannounced. My nephew is well on his way to that step, as well.

He's been pulling himself up on furniture to stand for months and man is he speedy on all fours. (Seriously, turn your back for a second and all the toilet paper is off the roll even though you are still in the next room.) Now, though, he's standing. And trying to walk. If there's anything more remarkable than watching someone, for the first time, put one foot in front of the other I don't know what it is. Then, when he inevitably flops down on his rear, he gets up and tries again. Quite a reminder and a testament to the determination of humans, even if they have knee injuries. Who thought you could learn something from a baby?

I'm bound and determined that the kid will learn to walk while staying at my house for the next few weeks. To ensure this, I gave him the house rules: 1) We all walk here 2) There are very few reasons to scream in the middle of the night. So far, he's followed neither rule. We're working on it, though. After all, what more can I expect from someone who poured the dog's water on his head within two minutes of being in my house?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Okay, so, running. Might as well just jump right in.

Two days after the half I ran ten days ago, I had an amazing run. Granted, it was only four miles but it was fast, had hills and I felt awesome! The following day, I wanted to go out for 6 and barely eeked out two. "Okay," I thought, "you're just tired. Try again tomorrow." So I did. I tried for 8, barely got 5.5 and felt like I'd been run over by a truck. My calves felt like someone had filled them with lead, and mile after mile, they never loosened up. I was a little discouraged.

I took the next two days off from running. Sunday came, a week after the half, and I set out for a long run. There's a marathon in May I'd like to do, so I needed to get the miles back up. I thought I'd try for 16. Yeah, didn't happen. I barely got 12 and once again, they felt awful. Just as in the previous two runs, I felt tired, slow and heavy. Whether it be mental weight or actual physical affects holding me back, I don't know. What I do know is, something's not there.

Sunday night, about 8 hours after my long run (which was followed by a short hike with my two young cousins and walking the dog) I was exhausted and ready to fall into bed. I thought about soaking my feet for a while (don't ask me why, it seemed logical at the time, really) and when I went to sit down on the edge of the tub I got a stabbing pain on the inside of my left knee that made loud, sailoresque words come out of my mouth without any forethought. Read: It hurt like a #@$!*&. I don't really know what a #@$!*& is, but let's just call it the worst possible knee pain I could have ever had. Much worse than my right knee has been, ever. It would happen again Monday morning when I sat down at my desk at work.

Since then, it has not really stopped hurting. Drugs take the edge off (legal, of course- though I see some desperation on the horizon should this situation not improve. Ha. Kidding. Mostly.) and ice helps a little, but most the time, it just hurts. I called and cried to my doctor yesterday at lunch and he can see me on Friday. I wanted to come in right then, but he convinced me to give it a few days saying "it might just be inflamed from your run." To which I responded, "what the hell does it matter if I can't run anyway? Maybe you just want me to turn into a huge, couch-loving, fat ass, huh? Is that it?" Okay, so not really but better he take the brunt of my frustration at $138 dollar per hour than my friends who I've not had to start paying yet (though that day may also be here if this doesn't get better).

So, no running yesterday. No running today. Likely, no running tomorrow. I always tell people, when they're injured or experiencing challenges in months before or after Summer "hey, better now than in June!" That's my positive way of saying that there are nicer months coming and it's better to be healthy then, than now. For the record, if someone said that to me today, I would slap them. Excuse the frustration in this post, I am clearly not dealing with this well just yet.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Women Who Have Shaped Me: My Greatest Cheerleader

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1926, the oldest of nine children, she stands tall at 5'9". A good three inches taller than any woman in the family before or since. Perhaps, though, this is part of what made her who she is. She stands out a little, always does things a little differently. A little against the grain.

When I was nineteen, and head over heels in love with my college boyfriend of a whole six months, who my Grandmother is really hit me. "You have plenty of time, poopsie" (one of many unexplainable nicknames), she would say. And after thinking about it, I knew she was right. Just because all the girls I'd gone to high school with and soon after the set I was in college with wanted to rush out and get their MRS. degree, it didn't mean I had to. After all, she didn't. And she did quite well.

At eighteen, when the majority of her schoolmates were looking to settle down and start families, my Grandmother went to secretary school. She would eventually land her first job -other than working on a farm for her entire childhood- at the office of a prestigious Hartford attorney. She was a good secretary, and the lawyer paid well. "I had all my own things, all my own outfits," she brags. "A pair of shoes, purse and gloves to match every outfit." Ah, yes, we are related. Not because of the materialism (though I'll admit, it's there- she's an Avon lady, for heaven sakes!) but because of the freedom. We've both had a taste for it and both took advantage of the opportunity.

I think this, more than anything else, might be what connects us. Our independence and sense of adventure is a common thread between us. For her, it's a reason to cheer. For me, it's encouragement to keep going. Through her, I know I can do many things with this life. I'm not solely dedicated to one path. She went to Cape Cod in the Summer, I'll go to the islands. She made friends where ever she went, I'll strike up a conversation with just about anyone. It's that attitude, that bravery- she has it, I want it.

About thirty-five years ago, my Grandma started selling Avon. This was while she was raising six children. In that thirty-five years, through teething, hundreds of colds, puberty, graduations, marriages, divorces, births of grandchildren and more, she has never been out of the top five in sales in her division (or maybe it's called a chapter- she would kill me for not knowing this). She has never tried for anything less than success, even when it's been tough. She has made a life and a living off something most people might just do for extra cash. She knows the difference between just selling to a customer and creating a relationship.

Which brings me to why I admire her most of all. She's an incomparable friend. She cares like no one I've ever seen. She's the kind of thoughtful that they'd write in an instruction manual titled "How to Be a Best Friend, Confidant, Caregiver and Helper to Everyone You'll Ever Meet." But there's no manual for her, it just comes naturally. And I remember this all the time. When I let a friend talk about their troubles, when I hold someone's hand, when I write a note just because, I think of her. I think of all the ways she's gone out of her way to let people know that someone cares, and I try. I might not be good at it, I doubt I'll ever be as good as she is. But if there's some way to ever show her what I've learned, it's got to be that I try. Which, when I think about it, is also what she taught me to do.

This post is part of Bre's idea to write about women who have shaped us during this Women's History Month.
(I slacked last week, sorry Bre!)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Me: 101

Well, I am finally doing it. I've been encouraged by a lot of you and your "100 things" and really, I didn't think I could do it and we all know how I love to prove myself wrong.

Here are my one hundred things, for no particular reason or occasion. In no particular order.

1. I make up recipes as I go along. Often.
2. I let my dog sleep in the bed on cold nights.
3. I am not into diamonds.
4. I am into beaches.
5. My superficial yet totally possible idea of Heaven consists of a buffet full of foods adorned with bacon.
6. I drink Arnold Palmers in the summertime. Sometimes at golf courses. I don't golf.
7. I consider myself to be deeply spiritual, even if I don't talk about it all the time.
8. An early October football game is about as much fun as anything I can think of. Especially if you tailgate.
9. Sometimes I want to go where no one knows me.
10. Sometimes I want to go where everyone knows me.

11. When I'm in the mood, I love talking on the phone. I'm afraid this bores people.
12. I want to eat ice cream for breakfast most days. I never have.
13. I send too many emails.
14. I just learned how to text message three days ago. I'm afraid to admit how much I love it.
15. I wish I were good enough a runner to compete. I just want to see how that speed feels.
16. I want better abs.
17. I've always liked my non-saggy rear.
18. My dog is the cutest dog I know.
19. No one has ever made me a mixed tape.
20. Tulips are my favorite flower. But I adore lilacs, too.

21. I'm afraid of never getting to fall in love again.
22. I would choose an apple over any other fruit.
23. I was born October 23, 1979.
24. I am not afraid of getting older.
25. I sweat like a beast when I run. But I sort of like being covered in salt at the end.
26. I think my hips are too wide.
27. I worked at a veterinary clinic for 5 years. That has been one of the best educations of my life.
28. I like to bake cookies on cold winter days.
29. I am an awful snowboarder. Awful.
30. I am not easily bought.

31. I love chai tea enough to marry it.
32. I could listen to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" any time of year.
33. I have been known to quote Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As recently as yesterday.
34. I want to read more books.
35. I want to learn to play the piano. Still.
36. I do not believe I am at all photogenic. I hate the sight and sound of myself on video even more.
37. I used to practice dancing with my mom. She was the first person to teach me to two-step. I have since faked not knowing how for a date. It was cute, I think.
38. I think when you feel something, you should say it. Especially if it's a nice thing about someone else.
39. I have broken up about as equally as I've been broken up with.

40. Though I'm not sure I'll ever have kids, sometimes I imagine myself pregnant.
41. I am jealous of people with immaculate houses.
42. I stare at people I think are beautiful.
43. I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking alcohol. I prefer to call it cheap date- but not in the scandalous sense.
44. I admire happy women. Mostly because there is strength in finding that happiness.
45. I have been known to get excited about good socks.
46. My feet are like ice cubes in bed.
47. I am almost always cold.
48. I don't like lipstick. Lip gloss is cool, though.
49. I like planting flowers. I had a job once where I was paid to do this. It was sweet!

50. I want to fall asleep in front of a campfire more often than I have in the past.
51. I wish salad tasted the same as cheeseburgers.
52. I make a great stuffed salmon.
52. I wish my hair had more natural wave.
53. My mom makes me proud.
54. I hate cleaning the bathroom. Should I ever get married, and my husband cleans the bathroom, I will feel like the luckiest woman on Earth.
55. I adore vacuuming.
56. I talk to dogs I see when I'm out on a run. I also wave to all other runners, even if they don't.
57. I once slid on sand while riding my bike and nearly wet my pants. I wish I were kidding.
58. I have been known to wake myself up while talking in my sleep.
59. I have shoplifted. From the drugstore, when I was a kid. I still feel guilty.

60. I used to babysit a lot as a teenager. Once, I was having a bad day and was extra mean to a little girl for being a brat. I still feel guilty about this, too. I sometimes use incidents like this to explain to myself why I'm single. Karma, or something.
61. I realize how ridiculous that may sound.
62. I lived on ramen, oatmeal and orange juice for eight weeks in college once. I guess there was also beer.
63. If I could close my eyes and wind up anywhere, I'd be sitting on the bow of a boat in the Caribbean. Ten minutes of that every morning might solve every problem I believe I have.
64. I cannot stand smoking.
65. I do not like chocolate. At all. None of it.
66. I like surprises.
67. I can't wait for the rest of my life.
68. I like cats, but I don't think I'll ever own one again.
69. I want to paint my house, especially the bathroom.

70. I took Spanish for six years. I can successfully find a taxi, the bathroom and beer when in Mexico.
71. I am super good at the first round of Jeopardy. The second knocks me right back into my place.
72. I feel like, on any given day, my life is about 85% of exactly what I want.
73. I wish I could ride in clip less pedals with a little more grace.
74. I have a conch shell in my house. They are good luck. It was a gift from my mother.
75. I notice teeth before almost anything else when meeting someone.
76. I think I'd make a terrible waitress.
77. I think I'd make an excellent bartender.
78. I think kindness is sexy.
79. A few of my favorite songs are: Come Monday, You Don't Know Me, and Moon River. I realize this dates me more than it ought to. I don't care.

80. I'd like to own a '56 Corvette. I wrote my senior thesis on the Corvette.
81. My name has been published in three books.
82. I graduated Cum Laude. No one has ever asked me about this, even once. I'm convinced it was only ever about the yellow rope around your neck at graduation.
83. I have to drink watered down Gatorade when I run. The sugar will otherwise cause one of two things, neither at all pleasant.
84. Puppies and babies make me tear up.
85. I can sleep anywhere.
86. One of my proudest moments in life was buying my first house. I have outgrown it in less than four years.
87. My sister is one of the best people I will ever know.
88. My grandmother is one of the best people anyone will ever know.
89. I like music more than any television show I've ever seen.

90. I rarely watch the local news.
91. I love hockey.
92. I want to wear flip flops every day.
93. Except for the days I wear boots.
94. I am afraid of getting car jacked. Almost irrationally.
95. I sometimes slack at work. I feel guilty later and end up working more.
96. I'd like to be a stronger swimmer.
97. I sometimes get upset when someone doesn't return my email within a day.
98. I used to be overly concerned with underwear matching clothes. Now I'm just excited when the laundry is clean.
99. I have had stitches four times. Three of those in my head.
100. I remember the names of every teacher I've ever had. No one has ever asked me about this, either.
101. I like to push things further than I need to.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Full House Syndrome

In my head, I've started this post a hundred times. I've thought of things I want to include, things that have happened that pertain to exactly what I want to write about but I just can't formulate anything. It's always surprising to me how I can put words to some things so easily and others, it's so much more difficult.

In less than a week, my sister and nephew will be here to stay for a couple weeks. As usual, I cannot wait. And as usual, I look forward to the feeling of a fuller house. Through my years of living alone, I've realized a few things. I'm good at it, I enjoy it, I even take advantage of it. But one thing is for sure, I'm not made for it. I have Full House Syndrome.

Last weekend, on my trip, I realized this again. My friends and I rented a house for the trip and though it wasn't mine and it was all temporary, the feeling I get when sharing living space with people is one that I truly enjoy. It fulfills me in a way that nothing else can. Though my alone time will always be important, no amount of solitude, quiet, or communing with silence will replace the reassurance I get, the peace I feel, when I'm coexisting with others. The feeling of cooking in the kitchen as you overhear someone in the other room is a kind of calm I don't have words to describe. Just the knowledge of their presence is enough for me. It's a whole, nurturing feeling. One of relaxation, comfort and home.

It's taken me a while to get here. Since I stopped living with roommates, six months out of college, I was bound and determined to make the most of my solo venture. "I will hang a photo on whatever wall I please!" (And I did.) "I will leave my shoes by the door!" (And I do.) "I will leave dirty dishes in the sink whenever I want!" (Yeah, right, not going to happen.) Because that's what I thought independence was all about. I thought it was about doing what I want, when I wanted, for whatever amount of time I wanted and damn it if I wasn't going to enjoy it.

Well, I have enjoyed it. I realize the importance of being alone, of making all your decisions and knowing they generally only affect you. There is no replacement for the knowledge I've gained and the growth I've accomplished (and will continue to accomplish) on my own. But it's not completely me. It's not all of my make-up, not my entire person. No matter how many nails I hammer into the wall on my own, there's always that part of me that will want others near by. I can't imagine feeling life completely any other way.

That sense of another's presence, of their laugh on the phone, even if they're talking to someone else. That sound of lives, intertwined. I know it's not a perfect world, I know there are hard times, times you might wish there was silence. But when you finally get that quiet, and have spent enough time in that perspective, you realize that it's not where you thrive. It's not what recharges you. So in the meantime, until you get that full house of your very own, you learn to get by on temporary fixes. Friends, sisters, nephews, and whatever else you can get will see you through. It has to, it's how you're made.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

As It Should Be

I'll never get used to coming back from a trip. I'd like to say I'm the exact same person when I'm sitting in front of this screen as I am when I traipse down a beach (even if I'm in multiple layers of clothing) but I'm not.

The person traipsing down the beach has worries and troubles, just like the one in front of this screen. The difference is, while I'm away, traipsing down a beach, everything seems a little more possible. When I'm laughing and running with friends, the responsibilities of life are just that. They don't weigh on me, they don't keep me up nights, they certainly don't call after I've left the office and ask what drive I stored a file on (even though I sent an email stating that exact fact). They just fade a little.

Now, sitting here, everything just seems a little more heavy and a lot more there. The dates to keep, the bills to pay, the conversations I have to have but don't want to are all here, right in front of my face. They scream "you can't ignore us now! haha!" And all I want to do is close my eyes and take myself back mere hours to a time when I could concentrate on something else. Where decisions didn't have to be made and life seemed pressure less. Where I seemed confident and fearless.

And maybe that's what I miss the most. I miss the girl that lives, for a few days, like she has no cares. (Sidebar: I don't really know if that's the right approach, though. After all, I did get a speeding ticket and that is definitely something to care about.) I know that's always in me, but you tell me when you see a bill staring you in the face for carpet replacement that you feel as good as when you're eating ice cream and staring out at the ocean. It is not the same.

Of course we all know that. We all know there are ups and downs, good and bad and I think I'm good at that. I think I can take a break and fully enjoy it. I think I can write a check for a bill and well, not enjoy it but at the very least, take it for what it is. The area that needs work? Getting used to living with both. My mind believes it. My brain understands it. My heart, and the kid in me, want to lay on the floor and flail around and whine that it's just not fair!

Part of me, somewhere between my heart and mind, between the whiner and the logical thinker knows that's just how it is. That's vacation. That's friends. That's running. It's all as it's supposed to be, even if paying bills sucks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Things You Can Learn in Virginia

You can recover from an injury and train for a race and complete it, even if you don't completely believe you can.

You cannot use curse words. You can get a $50 fine (I did not).

You cannot speed on the highways, even by a few miles. You can get a ticket (I did).

You can hang out with friends for five days and it can feel like five minutes.

You can see snow at the beach.

You can drink beer after a race and never really know if you're pronouncing it's name correctly. (Yuengling; which, by the way, is made (I believe) in the home town of the fabulous Bre.)

You can spend five hours in a car with someone and not stop talking the entire time.

You can walk with your friends arm-in-arm to the starting line to keep warm, and then run off into the sunrise.

You can get over your fear of hot tubs.

You can eat and drink more in five days than you have in the last two months.

You can realize how great it is to have people that tell you you look nice. Every day.

You can be reminded how much you truly adore someone opening a door for you. Every time.

You can realize that renting a house with stairs is not a good idea for marathon weekend.

You can be lucky enough to witness someone making great changes in their life, and at the same time, see you have the power to do the same in your own.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Sound

In one of those forward emails recently, it was some kind of survey where you'd answer a set of questions and send it back to your friends. Somehow they might know more about you, like what your favorite kind of bread is and your favorite movie line (12 grain and any line from Say Anything, FYI). One of the questions, though, went a little deeper: What is your favorite sound?

Knee-jerk reaction might be to say waves lapping on the shore, the sound of children playing or maybe the voice of someone very special. I thought about this today, as I sit in a comfortable place, with a view of the ocean outside and a view of a group of friends inside, a break from reality and a little relaxation and I think really, my favorite sound might just be life. No one part but rather all the things that make up the whole. A ceiling fan turning, a song on the radio, the joke of a friend, the snoring of another, all happening at once and all reminding me that these are just moments that will never come again. Today, this moment, is merely fleeting. But the memory, the sound of life, it's with me.

So tomorrow morning, when we head out for marathons and half marathons, I'll hope to remember that. I'll hope the sound of the footsteps on pavement, breath in the air and music flowing between each runner will be what I get out of the race. I have to remember it's not about me this time, it's not about my legs or my heart rate or my pace, it's just about listening to life and remembering that we're in it, not rehearsing it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Good Like Sweat

Well here I was all ready to sit down and write a post about how fantastic my run yesterday was. It was seventy-five degrees (I know!!) and sunny and hot hot hot and let me tell you, I just soak that stuff UP. Yes, sweat and all. There are few things in life that are really worth it if you don't even break a sweat, right? I mean, there's running, eating, drinking, laughing, kissing, singing in the car, dancing in the car- all a little better when it's hot.

But back to why instead of writing about my run yesterday, I cannot. I'm all scatter-brained and, as my Grandmother would say, full of piss and vinegar. I've got a mere ten hours and counting until I have to have my butt in a coach class seat headed East and I haven't packed a thing!

In those first two paragraphs, I got up twice to a) get a snack and b) get another snack. Heh. Clearly I'm in no shape to be all mushy and lyrical over my absolutely beautiful and sweaty run yesterday, right? And you might say it's pre-race jitters but you know, I've never really had pre-race jitters. I only get nervous about two things before a race: that I won't be able to go pee enough times before the starting gun goes off and therefore will ruin the whole thing from the start or, that I will forget something that's important like Gu or Body Glide and then bonk and chafe- ouch! Other than that, I'm always good. I know, barring serious interruption, I'll get myself across that finish line eventually so meh, whatever. I don't freak out.

The little ball of energy I am now, rather, is pre-friend freak out. Pre Spring Break '07 freak out, actually. I'm just so excited to land in a different city, hop off a plane (with my luggage, please airline, please), and see my friends and hang out for a few days and deal with nothing consequential. The house we'll be waking up to in the morning has an ocean view, a pool table and a hot tub. We've billed the trip as Spring Break '07: Like Spring Break '97 But a Lot Less Stupidity and a Lot More Money which I think is a good thing because instead of phrases like "dude, I am NEVER doing that again" it'll be more like "dude, I am not even going to try, I have to run in the morning." Those introspective walks on the beach will consist of thoughts like "are you taking that job offer in Toronto?" rather than the post-hangover pep talks of "yes, I swear he said he likes you! Who cares if he was kissing Beth, he wrote a song for you! He likes you!" As good as those days were, it's sort of nice to know we won't ever have to choose between drinks or food again.

I plan on packing the tech gear (dang, I am nerdalicious), mostly for picture downloading and sharing purposes, but as for blog posting, I don't know what will happen. I'll either be missing for a few days or updating with something like "You wouldn't believe what Jeff did yesterday! At 8:00 he had one beer and then, an hour later, HE WENT TO BED. This trip is off da hook, y'all!"

Either way, all the best to all of you. Get out there and do some sweating.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Did I?

A friend and I were walking downtown around lunch time the other day when an ambulance from another county pulled over to the side of the road. A paramedic leaned out of the passenger window and asked for directions. I was, of course, happy to help.

Paramedic: Is this road the best way to get back to the Interstate?

Me: Yeah, just go up three blocks and left at the light. You'll see the signs.

Paramedic: Thanks! Oh, and where's the best place to get lunch down here?

Me: Well, you're downtown so just about anywhere. But it's busy, so you'll probably have better luck parking your rig if you take the next exit off the highway and go someplace further North.

Paramedic: Great, thank you!

And off they drove.

Me: Hmmm, he was kind of cute.

My friend: Excuse me, did you just say "rig" [full on air quotes]?

Me: What? Did I?

My friend: Uhh, yeah, breaker one nine, ya did!

Me: ...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend Hallucinations

Last week, I hid something from the blogging "world." I, once again, came down with a cold. Sort of like the one I had a couple weeks ago but instead of my head feeling like it was full of bricks, this one just felt like someone had thrown a brick and hit me directly between the eyes. Thirty-seven times.

I spent any time I wasn't slaving (read: dead-woman walking) around at work staring down one of many boxes of Kleenex or down the neck of the Zicam bottle wondering just how many I needed to swallow in order to get the Mack truck off my forehead. For someone who never gets sick, this one was showing me who's boss. It's like when you trip over something but recover, then look back to see what you tripped on and end up biting it, and cracking your head open. It's saying HA! got ya this time, dumbass!

Thursday and Friday nights, I was pretty sure I was going to die if not from the fever than from the wicked hallucinations the fever and/or the "nighttime" version of my cold medicine was giving me. I always thought the special ingredient included to help you sleep was alcohol, turns out it's LSD. I know this is not super exciting but if a woman made of leaves (and sounded like leaves in a tree blowing when she walked) came into your bedroom, you would want to talk about it, too. Like I said, LSD.

During the time I wasn't making new friends in my bedroom, I spent on the couch where my dog wanted to remind me that yes, it was in fact over fifty degrees outside and therefore, no time to wither away like this. How I managed to pick up a camera during all this will just have to be one of life's great mysteries. I wasn't thinking clearly seems like a good excuse.

I felt a little more human on Saturday morning, which was nice because I had an appointment to get my hair done. Priorities, obviously.

Then, Saturday night came and it rained. As unique as this is for Colorado in March, I wasn't as captured by that as when I walked outside (during the rain, while sick.... I know, I know), took a deep breath and began to feel better. For the first time, my head was clear. It only lasted a moment but for that moment, the reflection of the streetlights on the pavement was my light at the end of the tunnel. It was now possible I was going to live to see Sunday, and maybe even Sunday afternoon. There was hope.
Sunday did come, and suffice it to say, it was like a new beginning. There was still a truck parked between my eyes but it was more of a half-ton pick up than the Mack truck of the days before. It was also a beautiful day and being able to breathe again, all I wanted to do was get out in it. I felt like a new person, a person that used to run on nice days.
I know, my intelligence just keeps rearing it's dense head throughout this post. But why concentrate on that when I can tell you about how I laced up my shoes instead? Except for the almost constant need for Kleenex, I was feeling so much better. So I headed out the door, ready for whatever the day would give me. And having no pockets, well I learned of other places handy for holding Kleenex.
I only got about two miles out when I realized it just wasn't going to be a great run. As I was deciding to turn home, I saw a tractor parked in a lot just two miles from my house. We don't do a lot of farming or loading of farm/ranch type of things 'round these parts, so you can imagine my first thought: crap, the meds have not worn off yet.
Just to be sure, when I got home I drove back to take a picture. I would have done the same had it been a UFO because, you know, otherwise no one would have believed me.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Women Who Have Shaped Me, Part II: The One Who Has Become My Friend

Dear Sister,

When I look at you now, at the woman you have and will continue to become, it's almost as if I'm seeing two things. First, I see history. I see the only person in the world that when someone says "where did you come from?" would give the same answer as me. I see the little girl who lived in the room next door, simultaneously complaining that I wouldn't let her borrow my things and that I talked in my sleep. Such a contradiction we once were. I see the girl that would watch horror movies in the middle of the night yet would make me kill the spiders. I see the girl that wore matching outfits with me, let me curl her hair and dug in the dirt with me, making "habitats" for our lady bug "farms." I see the girl that went through phases of sports, boys and eye makeup, and I watched, as you seemed so unafraid.

I often wondered if you were so unafraid because of how remarkably beautiful you are. You were cute, then pretty, then absolutely gorgeous. You never act like it, always giving credit to the clothes or the shoes, but it's you, sister. You are beautiful.

Second, I see you now. I see the wife you choose to be and the mother you are. You approach your life and your marriage in a way that compares you to women two and three times your age. You're both light-hearted and seriously dedicated. You seem to have found a balance that so very few ever do. It's so natural to you. Like the way you are with your son; when I watch you two together, it's like God is reminding me that yes, He knows exactly what He's doing. You are one of the best mothers I've ever seen. You are not lazy, you put in the effort. I hope you realize how valuable that is, not only to your family, but to everyone. The way you talk about raising your child in the best way possible and then, follow that talk with action, is truly special. I'm in awe of how simple that comes to you and yet, how little you might realize it's importance to the world.

I can't help but thinking as I see you living your life now, that I'm lucky. My childhood companion, confidant, enemy, co-conspirator, fellow fort builder and occasional fellow hair puller is now one of my very best friends. I've been able to know you through all this time, our lives together and now, as they've grown in so many other ways and I feel bad for all the other people that are just now getting to meet you. Yes, they can all say how wonderful you are and how much they like you, and they will be right. But they'll never know what I know. They'll never know the person you were and the way you've grown so perfectly and suitably into the woman you are. Most of all, when they talk about you, they'll never be able to say what I can: I've always known you're amazing.

I love you, sister. See you in a couple weeks!


P.S. Happy Birthday.

This entry is part of Bre's idea to write about women who have shaped us for Women's History Month.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Love Other People

Yesterday gave me a lot of reasons to remember that. It's getting to that busy time again where no one has any free time. We're all gearing up for work projects, volunteer projects, Spring Break, Summer vacations, races, Grandma's birthday, warm weather... you name it, we're all busy and I know you all understand. You're there, too.

For me, it's that on-the-fence time when you're thankful to have a _______ (insert words such as: job, life, circle of friends, good community, legs to run on, etc.) but you're also seeing those free days of the beginning of the year fade away.

Work is like that for me right now. I've taken on the lead of a project along with contributing to another Super Huge project and my entire group is in a learning phase. I suppose it's the nature of this beast called software but one day I'd like to walk into the office and know exactly what's going to happen, just to see what that would feel like. The thing is, I work with some awesome people who are very different than any group I've worked with before. They are generous with information and knowledge, have a great sense of humor and are just good people. I don't have to tell you how rare this is but I'm going to; a group like mine is extremely rare. Which is why, even yesterday when I thought my head would explode with the thought of more on my plate than there already is, I am drop-to-your-knees thankful to work with good people. Long story short[er]: I got help, I know what I'm doing now, I love people. Should I ever come into very large sums of money, I'll find a way to share some with them.

I also work with some pretty great people in the non-profit world. Always being one to think "my boring cubicle world does not define me, oh no!" I feel the need to be involved in other causes. And, truth be told, it's where I'm happy. It's the right place for me, giving my time to something that needs it, under the radar. It's like having a job where whatever you do is great. It's mutually beneficial, even if you make an effort to be selfless, you're going to get something out of it. And, everyone loves a volunteer, right? Well, this volunteer loves everyone she gets to work with and is only about 50% sad that she had to miss Eric Clapton last night due to an already scheduled event. Cliche as it sounds, the faces on those we benefited were worth a thousand riffs. Sorry, Eric, I love people.

Last but never least, I think other bloggers are really cool. I love that your insight on things that get trapped in the "bubble" that is my own world can make me see something differently, and often, more simply than I can on my own. I find it pretty amazing that there's a way to say "hey, here's what I'm doing instead of Christmas gifts" because honestly, I didn't think of that. I find it super cool that there's so little caffeine in Chai tea! I find myself feeling happy to have someone that comments "you are so on top of your world." That statement rocks, even if it's not always how I feel. And I have to say, I'm beyond shocked that there are people who don't know who George Strait is. Once again, this is me realizing the bubble effect in this world. Wow, and thanks for all the comments yesterday and always. I hope those of you not enjoying warm weather right now get to very, very soon. It does wonders.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


It's list time.

Re: Sailing trip
Still working out the details. There's a little more cost involved than I thought but something's still telling me I need to do it. So what's the best way to tell people you're skipping Christmas [gifts] this year?

Re: Half marathon
I'm doing one in a couple weeks. Or didn't I mention that? Yeah, I plan to bring my little camera and make it a "fun run." If I thought this were anywhere near a PR opportunity, I'd need a psychiatric evaluation. Immediately.

Re: Dating
It is less fun than it used to be. I don't like the dragging out of it all. But hey, I'm okay with that. It could be worse, I could be an astronaut.

Re: George Strait
Remains one of my favorite things in music. He was in Denver last weekend. Leave your smoke and mirrors at home, kids, this guy doesn't need any of that, and that's just the way I like it. And if I'm being totally honest, the guy could walk out on stage and sing names from the phone book and I'd love it.

Re: Weather
It has been beautiful here. Spring is coming, I need not whine any longer about hating Winter. I am not sure who's more relieved, you or me.

Re: Caffeine
I haven't had any in three weeks. Some might say I gave it up for Lent, but just started early. I might say I just wanted to see if I could. So far, I can and against all my prior beliefs, I'm not dead yet. I also feel better, I can't explain how. More calm, maybe? I don't know. I'm sure it won't last forever, though. I love chai tea too much.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I Needed the Reminder More Than She Did

Yesterday, a friend of mine shared that she'd had a bad run. "It was eight miles of sheer pain and torture," she said, "I hated every step and cried through the last three miles. I'm tired of running, I'm tired of sweating, I'm tired of working hard all the time and not getting faster. I'm tired of stinking, tired of thinking about what I eat to fuel a run, I'm tired of the laundry from all the dirty running clothes. I'm just tired of it."

Anyone who's been running or training for anything physical for a length of time will tell you, this sounds like burn out. So we talked about that. We talked about how hard you work, how it seems the real, tangible rewards don't always follow and whether or not it's worth it. In her case, she just needs a break. A full week off running will likely be her cure. I know a week doesn't seem like much but to a runner, it can be an eternity. For her, it'll be just the time she needs to remember why she loves it so much. Even lovers need a holiday, as the song says.

As we talked, we got deep into the subject of why you'd come back to something that caused pain. Why, as intelligent people, do we want to push ourselves harder? Why do we want to keep trying? Why do we want to do better? And why, some days above all else, would we want more laundry?

The answer is both simple and not. The easy answer, the one I hear runners give a lot is because. What's not simple is that so much follows that "because." It's physical, it's mental, it's spiritual. It involves vanity, it involves obsession, it involves euphoria. It involves taking advantage of life, of moments and of possibilities. It means giving, it means taking, and it means sharing. For a runner, there's truly nothing like it.

"How do you keep going?"

I didn't expect that question. I hate those questions. I am a "because" person. I can't narrow it down. I'm also a Libra; we can't pick just a reason, right? But she needed an answer, and really, I did too. So I thought for a while. And we talked more, about mundane running things, like shoes (my current favorite is the Asics Gel Cumulus, by the way) and Injini's while I thought. I asked her if I could think about it for a while, which came as a shock to both of us. Rare is it I don't have the right words to say, not to mention no words at all when it comes to running. I mean, I could sell the sport of running to a fish! But just then, the question struck me and I wanted to think about it.

After turning thoughts over in my head for a while, I thought about what really keeps me going. Why am I out there? What would I want someone to say to me?

Later, I sent her an email:

Well, you asked why I run, or more so, why I keep going. I can't say I can give you a definitive answer, but here's what I think right now. Do you remember days in your life when you've gotten a particular compliment, or had great success? Do you remember days when maybe you've won something or were awarded something? You know the days when you've been with people you love, and you're overwhelmed by how good it feels? I do. I remember all of that, all those feelings. You're in a magical state, on top of the world, right? And when I think about those moments, I'm always brought back to the fact that they would have been nothing without the help of others. It was others who helped me, supported me and worked for me when I needed it. Running reminds me that all of those moments, all of those feelings are within me.

I know you and I are social runners. I know we enjoy the camaraderie with others and I don't believe I'd ever trade that. But running, at the end, is just you. It's your mind and body pushing you and holding onto all those reasons we give ourselves to keep going. At it's most basic foundation, it's about what you alone can do. You're going through pain, training, emotions and you stink (literally) but you know, somewhere, sometime, that feeling is going to come along. That feeling of happiness, pride, relief or the culmination of all of those and you know how good it's going to feel. It might not be soon, and it might not be often but it's out there, waiting for you to come around again. And when you do, it's going to be because YOU got out there on the road, and YOU put in the work and you, alone, told yourself that you could.

Your running, my friend, I know wouldn't be the same without the right shoes, a day of good weather and supportive family and friends. But most of all, it wouldn't be the same, it wouldn't even exist, without you! Remember that, because it's all coming from you.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Conversation Between Sisters

"Hey, you didn't even say anything about how I look."

"What do you mean? You look the same."

"No, I don't. I've lost like twelve pounds since you last saw me."

"Well that's great, but I didn't notice. I thought you looked good before, too."

"That's only because you like big butts and you cannot lie."

"Well, that's true."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Women Who Have Shaped Me: The One I'll Never Be Able to Write Well About

When I first read Bre's post about writing on the women who shape your life for Women's History Month, I thought, sure, I can do this. It sounds a) like a beautiful reason to write and b) like something I can do. After all, I know fantastic women. Also, I happen to believe that women are going to shape more in the next generations than they have in mine. They are the future.

After realizing I wanted to take part in this, I thought about who I could write about. Family, friends, teachers, the list was endless. "The final post will be about my mother," I thought. The best for last, right? Then, yesterday morning, I read Bre's post about her mother, and her mother's twin sister and thought "of course, mom is first." And though I could never put into words all the ways my mother has taught me and loved me and made me into the person I am today, I'm going to give it a heck of a shot. If that fails, I'll just use sarcasm, because that might be the most important thing I've ever learned from my mom.

It's been about twelve hours since we last spoke. No, we're not really one of those mother-daughter pairs that has to talk everyday, but more often than not, I find myself wanting to talk to her. I want her opinion, her advice, and just the conversation. We're lucky in life if we can find a few intelligent people, whom we respect, with which to have good conversation. You bet I'm going to take advantage of that, especially with someone that loves me. And she does, and I've never questioned that. Never even thought twice.

Last year, my mom went through a lot of health trials. There were hours, even one long day that thoughts of "what if" and "oh my God" crossed my mind. I was seeing the strongest, most independent woman I've ever known in pain. Worse, in uncertainty. It would be a mild statement to say that I wasn't used to this. I wasn't accustomed to seeing a woman that simultaneously started and ran a successful business and raised two daughters, never missing a parent-child day at school, dinner at five o'clock, or a volleyball game. This is the woman that packed my lunch and placed a napkin on top with special notes written just for me. This was the woman that checked the back of the bookshelves I was supposed to dust, and never so much as rolled her eyes upon discovering I'd skipped that part. Seeing her strength and patience set aside for this pain was every kind of wrong.

She'd recover though, and today she's doing fine. If nothing else, for me, those trials were a time for lessons. A time to remember that I have a woman in my life that loves me like no one else ever will. As odd as it may sound, she has become the gauge I use for perfection. That's not as it sounds. I have no illusions, my mother is not perfect. What it really is, what I've learned, is that she has a way of seeing past imperfection. She doesn't seem to see flaws and she especially doesn't see them first. She doesn't see her own, she doesn't see a stranger's and she doesn't see mine. She doesn't have some laundry list of what something or someone must be in order to accept them. Though she will not be walked on, or tolerate cruelty, she's open. She's taught me this. I'm quite certain it's not because she doesn't notice but rather, it's a choice. She's consciously made a choice that how she lives, how she relates to people and how she tolerates what she's given should be without judgement. It's not because she lives in a fantasy, it's because she made a decision.

More than anything else, my ability to choose has come from my mother. The healthy breakfast cereal, the way I spend my money, and the way I talk to people is always my decision. Even if we didn't always agree (and we didn't, because I always wanted Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), that much was clear. If I had to decide today the one thing from my mother I'd always keep with me, it would be that. Choices. We may not expect them, we don't even have to like them, but they are there and it will always be right to remember that. For that, it is Mom I have to thank.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Learning it's worth it

Dreaded ice/snow storms on Wednesday kept me from running. Yes, I could have gone to the treadmill but considering the drive home took over two hours in which I was nearly rear ended four times, I'd say my heart had had enough for that day. It wasn't a day without it's physical successes, however.

I visited the doctor Wednesday (who by the way, I adore a little more every time I see him because he is all positive and "yes, keep running!" and it makes me a little sad to say that I won't be seeing him again in the near future because who doesn't want that kind of intelligent cheerleader in their lives?) and he believes that I'm doing great. He says in the last eight weeks I've improved about 75% and if I continue on that path, I'll likely be at 100% or "darn near" by May- which is good because I'm planning to do another marathon then. So really, it's good news. Great. Of course, the impatient soul I am, I want to be 100% yesterday but I'd be lying if I said this injury hasn't taught me more than a few things. It has taught me a lot of things, like persistence. I thought I was persistent before, but I am now more than ever.

Which is why after not running on Wednesday, I decided I had to make up for it on Thursday. By running twice. I ran four miles at lunch and then another six after work. I don't often do two-a-day running work outs, so my butt was a little kicked by dinner time. I also felt good though. I felt strong on both runs and honestly, had I completely lost my mind rather than partially, I would have kept running and made the six a seven or eight. But I didn't and somehow I remembered that ten miles on a week day is pretty high for me right now and if I keep myself in check, I'm more likely to keep running and keep feeling stronger.

Most importantly, I've learned that I have a new "life" in running. There will never be a time when I don't have to do extra in order to keep going. The weight training (which I completely regret slacking on in 2006) and stretching and core balance work will forever have to be a part of my routine. Before, running was sort of everything, but age and time and miles have brought on new requirements. I know I'm just 27, but it's taken almost a year for me to realize that what that means is that I'm not 20. My head will continue to believe differently, but my body, if I get too lax on other aspects of my training, will remind me. Since I'd rather not have that reminder, I'll be good. I'll left weights when I'd rather just eat lunch. I'll get up fifteen minutes early to stretch when I'd rather sleep. I'll do it, because I want to keep going. And I want to feel good.

I can handle all of that, though because even with being tired and hungry, inconvenienced and pressed for time, I do feel good. That makes it all worth it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's Back

I'm sort of needing to be reminded why I live here right now.