Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Loss of a Gift

My friend lost his father to a heart attack the other day. I wasn't particularly close to his dad but for some reason the death is hitting me hard. Perhaps it was because it was so sudden, he was in good health and relatively young. Perhaps because it reminds me how unexpectedly your life can change. It makes me realize how precious the time that I have with my own family is and how quickly it can be taken away. Mostly I am overwhelmed with trying to understand why. Why in a world filled with so much evil was a man that was so incredibly good taken so early?

Kirk Gumz was a giver. He was heavily involved in his boy's lives and personal pursuits including the high school marching band and the boy scouts. At any one moment you could find him repairing tubas, building uniform carts, fabricating a lift for the the back of the bands equipment trailer or building drum line props. He helped with eagle scout projects, loaded band equipment on show days, helped find people cars or fixed their cars. He could do anything and whats more important he would do anything. He was the epitome of generous. Albert Pine wrote, "What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal".

Mr. Gumz will not only live on in his actions but in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed his remarkable ability and desire to give. He was an inspiration and an example to countless students and parents. He will be missed but never forgotten.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Night Owl No Longer... In My Dreams

images.jpgFor some time I have been setting my alarm for seven am with the promise to my self that I will wake up and go for a run, do some yoga, watch the sun rise, hit the gym. At first I simply hit the snooze, then I started putting my alarm on the other side of the room. This simply meant I had to walk farther to hit the off button and go back to bed. I tried having friends call me early in the morning to wake me up and I simply wake up earlier than they are supposed to call and turn off my phone... or go back to sleep as soon as I hang up. There has only been one occasion where I got up early to run and I was on vacation sleeping on an incredibly uncomfortable fold out couch. I was so damn proud of myself that morning! Alas that was over a month ago and I haven't been able to accomplish that goal since. Imagine waking up every morning and the first thing I do is disappoint myself. What a way to start the day!

I've always enjoyed sleeping in in the mornings, it went along nicely with my night owl habits. My mind is most active and yet at the most peace at night. I'm the only night owl in my family and I have grown very accustomed to the hours on either side of midnight in which the house is quite and still. When I was younger I spent those hours reading. I remember staying up till five am to finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Those books always came out in July right around my birthday and I could stay up as late as I wanted and read to my hearts content. These days I spend my time mostly online reading the thoughts of people who inspire me or looking at pictures that capture my attention.

These days I have an intense yearning to change those habits. I want to know what the stillness of the early mornings is like. I want to wake up and be thankful for the fact that the sun came up again. So I started researching the reasons that some of us are night owls and others can pop out of bed in the morning with a smile on their face. Turns out some of us are genetically predisposed to being a night owl. Researchers at the University of Surrey have isolated a gene called Period 3 which regulate our circadian rhythms. The other part has to do with our daily habits and lifestyle. Not to worry though it's likely that my sleep patterns will begin to change as I age... sometime around age 60!

Part of me wants to say who am I to mess with genetics... just accept it but I'm tired of waking up grumpy every day. My family has a saying when they see me in the morning, "Don't poke the bear!" I don't wanna be feared anymore... it's time to let my naturally loving nature show through! I can do it... I will do it... I hope.

Has anyone successfully gone from a night owl to a morning person? How'd you do it? Any tricks?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Walking Through the Pain

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." ~ Lance Armstrong

The night before my interview for graduate school I didn't sleep. Instead I considered what my life would be like in the next year if I actually got in. I pictured myself living so far from my family. I thought about how lonely my mother would be as she went about her day to day life without me. I worried about whether or not she would be able to find happiness when two of the people who brought her the most happiness were 1500 miles away. In those hours I had decided that even if I got in I would defer for a year. I wasn't ready.

The next day I was excited and nervous and full of hope and promise for the future. How had my thoughts and emotions changed so suddenly in those few hours? Was it the change from day to night? Did the darkness bring out my deepest fears as it did when I was a child? I understand that as we lay down to sleep all the distractions of the day fade away and we're left with nothing but our thoughts; but how is it possible that our emotions can change so drastically? Better yet how is it that we can't remember the feeling of those emotions the next morning? We are able to remember that we were sad or frightened. Yet we are incapable of remembering the feel of those emotions. We don't remember the feeling of our chest constricting or our eyes burning.

I believe it has something to do with the connection between emotional and physical pain. My mother once told me that if women could remember the pain of childbirth no one would have more than one child. Even if you look back on a less significant pain such as being pricked with a needle you can remember that it hurt and you can describe what the pain was like but we are incapable of remembering the feeling of the pain itself. This is because pain is our bodies way of telling our brains that there is a problem which needs attention. Pain is merely a perception created by pain receptors in our skin that relay a message to our brain so that can react. Once the trigger is removed there is no biological reason to remember the pain. Memory however operates in a completely different way having to do with pathways being created in the brain. There is no neurological connection between pain response and the formation of memories. There is however a neurological connection between physical pain and emotional pain. The brain can't tell the difference. The same part of the brain that recognizes physical pain also reacts to emotional pain.

Unfortunately, this means we have a tendency of making bad decisions more than once. We'll go back to that boyfriend or girlfriend that hurt us so badly, because although we can remember the effects of that emotional pain we are unable to remember the depth of the pain. This also means that while it is possible to alleviate physical pain by removing the trigger it is not possible to remove the emotional trigger. Instead we must overcome it, it brings to mind the image of someone learning to walk again during physical therapy. In this instance they are inflicting pain on themselves in order to heal. We inflict pain on ourselves every day simply by living; by taking risks and dealing with the outcomes. Be it physical pain, emotional pain, or perhaps a combination of the two we are all simply walking through the pain.

Family Bonding

Watching my family communicate on this trip is like watching a group of senior citizens at a swap meet with walkie talkies. If you've never witnessed this phenomenon, take a trip to Quartzsite, AZ in January. The city is overrun with "snowbirds", those that come from the colder states such as Minnesota and Montana and camp out in the desert through the winter. They spread out through city with their RV's, trailers and tents, half of them selling things like rocks, tools, jewelry and other treasures (crap) and the other half shop them. It's not unusual to see a senior citizen going down the aisles on a riding ice chest or a woman in a sequined sun visor pushing her dog in a custom made stroller. Every so often you'll see one of them hit the w
alkie talkie, "We've got quartz on the aisle with the BBQ corn!" of course the inevitable reply... "Where's the BBQ corn?"... or perhaps "Switch to channel 10 I can't here you" "Ten Four". Yes they actually say ten four.

In the instance of my family it's mostly my mom trying to give advice and be helpful, but a lot of the time it just serves to confuse my dad whose doing his best to keep us on the road and headed in the right direction. The problem is if my mom points out something that my dad already knows then he's annoyed. Yet if she hadn't pointed it out and he hadn't already realized it then they're both annoyed. Of course it doesn't help matters that my brother and I occasionally try to help clear up the confusion and usually just make it worse. Nope best to stay silent unless asked for input.

Other than that we're all doing well. Dad is almost in his relaxed state... meaning he only checks his emails about 10 times a day and is restraining himself from calling in to the office. He has taken a sabbatical from his usual break-neck pace and is in no real hurry. I'm sure it hurts his soul a little when he realized we've only gone about 150 miles in a day. He and Geoff have been troopers where the trailer is concerned. I'm sure hooking up sewer hoses is not as glamorous as most would imagine but they do it without complaining day in and day out. Mom has taken over in the reservation department making sure we are staying in one beautiful campground after another. At the moment we are sitting in a beautiful valley in Montana surrounded by amber waves of grain... seriously... and three senior citizens in a tent trailer who are walking around in flannel pajamas. It's better than the lady at the last campground who forgot to close the window of her tent last night and apparently likes to sleep in the nude.
People in this part of the country are ridiculously kind. I'm still getting used to people waving at you for no particular reason and today I even left my laptop out on the picnic table outside our trailer with only a brief thought that someone might steal it. This thought was quickly dismissed as I eyed the senior citizens next door. I thought one might have been staring at it enviously though I doubt they could see that far. Today I walked into a place I thought was an internet cafe and actually turned out to be a place that sells internet modems, when I asked if it was possible to send an email the guy said sure you can use my computer. He didn't even charge me anything!

Yesterday was spent helping Geoff set up his new apartment. I got to set up the kitchen, an activity I actually love doing. I believe I might have a slight case of OCD when it comes to organizing kitchen cabinets. I turn the soup can labels the same way and make sure the lazy susan holding the pots has a large enough turn radius to access the lids. We found out exactly how thin the walls were... still hoping it was someone practicing their pogo stick routine. I also convinced Mom that black out curtains for the living room are a must. It was difficult to explain how I knew the importance with out self incrimination but I got the point across. I am now reassured that he and his room mate Mike will be well prepared for their upcoming year.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Speed Play

I'm currently on day 1.5 of my summer camping trip with my family, I say 1.5 because after attempting this trip 6 days ago and losing an entire axle of our trailer on the 15 freeway we had to turn back. We left again as soon as the axle was fixed which happened to be about eight o'clock last night. We didn't get very far of course so we pulled into the parking lot of the outlet mall at the state line between California and Nevada around midnight. Mom of course was mortified at our "redneck nature" and was convinced a security guard would ask us to leave, I reassured her that it was ok to be redneck because Williams and Sonoma was having they're annual summer sale and we would be there when the store opened.

I’ve been feeling guilty lately because I haven’t been running or exercising as much as I’d like. I have been going crazy trying to get as much of my work done as possible so I didn’t have to do it on the trip. So tonight we pulled into a beautiful campground and I pulled on my sneakers and took off down the first path I saw. Usually when I run it’s down the same old streets I’ve driven a thousand times before so I distract myself with music in hopes of cutting some of the boredom. Tonight I didn’t even know where the trail would go or how far. I just ran. Turns out I forgot about the change in altitude here in Utah so I wasn’t able to run the whole time, but when I could run I felt like a kid again. I was jumping off sand banks and avoiding rocks and swerving back and forth. Then when I couldn’t run anymore I walked and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the sunset.

There’s a training program called Fartleks which means "speed play" in Swedish. It’s basically when runners run hard when they feel like it and ease off when they need to with out regard to a set plan. I think speed play is the most apt description for the activity because it takes all the stress and worry out of running and turns running into play. Running for the joy of the moment is an easy way to feel like a kid again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fork in the Road... Or Is It?

Ok so I'm gonna go off on a bit of a tangent here... hopefully I can translate my thoughts into words well enough to make my point.

For those of you who don't know me (I have a feeling there's very few people who read this that don't already know me) I will be leaving California to go to grad school in September. While I'm really excited about this I'm also slightly terrified. The thought of living 1500 miles away from my family and friends and all that I hold dear is something I can only handle if I think about it in small doses. Unfortunately, think about it I must, for that is who I am. This has made me start thinking about paths. I found my self contemplating two possible paths. One path was me staying in California and moving in with one of my best friends and working in a bakery, the second path was of course grad school and moving to Seattle. I felt as though I was standing at a fork in the road and "as way leads on to way" that made me think of Robert Frosts iconic poem.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Most people believe this poem is about choosing the path of non conformity or the path less traveled. They would be wrong... mostly because they only pay attention to the last verse. In actuality Robert Frost is saying that both paths were the same, " Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same. And both that morning equally lay, in leaves no step had trodden black." The last verse actually refers to a time in the future when he will tell others the story of his life and make it seem like he chose the path that was least traveled.

This whole process got me thinking about paths themselves. The interesting thing about paths is that they don't exist until someone makes them. Therefore it is impossible to stand at a fork of two life paths... they haven't been made yet. You may think that the path is clearly laid out in front of you, all you have to do is pick. In actuality you have to cut the path itself. A path only exists in your past and only then is it possible to look back and see it clearly.

So how do we cut that path? Before the days of GPS, trailblazers used the cues of nature to find their way. The position of the sun as it crossed the sky, the placement of the stars, the sound of running water. They found their way through obstacles using the only things they knew for certain. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, polaris would take them north and the river would quench their thirst and provide vegetation. As we grow and evolve we begin to know things with certainty. We learn our strengths and weaknesses, we know that family and friends will catch us when we fall, we learn to savor every moment and above all we know the importance of continuously evolving. If we hold on to what we can count on we become capable of navigating the unknown.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peace Be the Journey

There's an article in this months edition of Runners World about a man named Tommy Leonard who is best known for organizing the Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth Massachusetts. This article is six pages long and chronicles his life from the age of six till now... the pages are filled with facts about all the races he's organized as well as all the bars he's tended from Massachusetts to CA. Through it all it becomes apparent that this man had two love affairs ... running and beer. One story in particular stands out... he was running the 1986 Houston marathon at a sub 3 hour pace, unfortunately at mile 23 Pro's Bar came into view and he stopped to have a pint. Turns out he finished the beer, but not the race. When Tommy wasn't running he was tending bar... you would think he excelled at this but no. His boss Michael Cleary, of the Cork 'N Hearth says, "He truly was the worst bar tender in the world... You order dinner at the bar, you might get dessert first, then an entree, then the salad if your lucky. But that's because he was always in the middle of a story."

One such story includes the time that his buddy Eddie Burke threw him a surprise party which included bringing a police horse up to the bar. Tommy says, "That horse went up and down the bar and acknowledged every customer. I fed him one or two White Russians. Then some lady at the bar called the Health Department and we had to get him the hell out of there fast, which wasn't easy... But that horse, he was having such a good time he didn't want to leave." The party was thrown in gratitude for Tommy's constant fundraising. He started the "Friends of Eliot Fund" where he collected cash from regulars when he read about misfortunes in the newspaper.

If you read between the lines it's obvious that Tommy's third and fourth love are people and life in general. To most of us the idea of getting so close to the finish line of a marathon after so much training and then just stopping for a beer is ludicrous and unfathomable. But it seems to me that Tommy has a different finish line in mind. His life is a race and he recognizes the need to enjoy the journey. As long as he's doing what he loves he's happy... artificial finish lines be damned. Often times we put so much emphasis on the completion of an activity and forget to focus on the joy of the act. It's almost as if the lack of fruition diminishes the greatness of the journey. Hopefully when Tommy looks back on his life he doesn't say, "Man I wish I'd finished that one race....He says what a run." We should all be so lucky.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Delusions of Grandeur... They'll Kill You Every Time

I have to admit i've had trouble writing/blogging lately. I kept starting posts and quickly got discouraged because I wasn't happy with the words on the page. I'd give it a few more tries and then delete the whole thing altogether. The problem I believe was building delusions of grandeur.

There are a few blogs that I read religiously ... Tina at CarrotsnCake, Sarah at Sarahfit, Morgan at Runningbums, and Megan at Emsiepilove. These blogs are amazing and my inspiration to start a blog in the first place. However, trying to measure up to them and still be me is a bit overwhelming. Luckily my blogs were well received... even if it was mostly by friends and family. I started thinking well maybe one day I could make a career out of this as Tina and Sarah have done, this is right around the time that the fitblogger convention happened and these two started writing blogs about how to make blogging a full time job. Suddenly I was second guessing every word of every sentence. I was wondering what I should focus my blog on, what would people want to read about rather then what I wanted to focus on and what I wanted to write about. Big mistake!

I started keeping a journal last year on my trip through Europe. At first it was just a way to document the daily happenings of our trip, however it quickly become an outlet for all the thoughts I was having that kept swirling around in my head. It was much easier to move onto the next thought if I wrote down the first one and could stop pondering it. It was also easier to solve my problems once I got them down on paper. My blog was just a natural extension of that, my posts were just thoughts that I couldn't stop thinking about and needed to expand upon.

I want to continue to make that the focus of my blog... but that doesn't mean that's all I can write about. I'm officially giving myself permission to write about whatever the hell I feel like. It's beyond me why I feel the need to give myself permission in the first place... but i'm odd and I accept that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday Monday... So good to me!

This is the follow up to my half marathon weekend post. Monday needed a post all on it's own.

Do you ever have one of those days where everything just falls into place? This was one of those days. The morning started off with a raid of clothes that Morgan was giving away... new running clothes??? Yes please! Then we headed of to the adorable Pannikin for coffee, muffins, cinnamon rolls and carrot cake... yeah yeah I know not exactly healthy but we couldn't decide!

The crazy part was when we parked in front of Pannikin I looked up and the shopping center in front of me looked really familiar with its cute little yellow buildings and I knew I'd seen it before. Turns out I'd seen it in pictures from numerous Google searches. One of the stores was DeepFling... a store that specializes in Scandinavian clothes and jewelry. I had been wanting to go there for months because they carry the jewelry line from Sweden that Carly and I fell in love with on our trip. We were sad to find that it didn't open for another hour but it turned out to be fortuitous because Morgan joined us for breakfast half way through when she was done with her workout and we all trouped over there afterword. Carly decided to buy herself a graduation present.
Or maybe a couple graduation presents... Then we said good bye to Morgan and got in the car and Carly points to this tattoo parlor in front of us and says, "That's where I almost got my nose pierced." I told her that I had been considering getting a tattoo for a while now and that I had promised myself if I finished the race I would finally get it. Before I knew it she was on the phone asking Morgan if it was a good place for tattoos and Morgan was flipping a u-turn.
I had decided long ago that I would get the word Balance on my wrist. When the tattoo guy asked me why I was getting it I told him it represented my life over the past year. I explained that I had spent the last four years almost completely focused on academia which led to a fairly sedentary life with no time for anything else like I don't know ... exercise. This year had been all about seeking a life of balance. I didn't wan't to be focused on any one thing. I think it can best be summed up by the Einstein quote, "Life is like riding a bicycle, one can only move forward with balance." He also asked about the race and the reasons why I run which I could repeat but Morgan does it so much better in her blog soo...
The actual process of getting the tattoo was much more painful then I anticipated. Apparently the wrist is one of the most painful spots to get a tattoo. I probably should have figured that out before hand huh? Oh well. Luckily I had Carly to hold my hand through it all and Morgan to document the experience. Don't you think this girl should go into photo journalism?
Over a week has gone by and I'm still ecstatic about it. Not only is it a daily reminder to seek balance whether that be between exercising and my ever present need to eat cake or between enjoying things that are safe and comforting while still remembering the reward that comes from pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things. It's also a reminder of this amazing weekend that I got to spend with wonderful people doing something I never thought I could.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Can See for Miles and Miles

I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and write about my marathon weekend or half marathon to be more precise. I wish I would have written about it sooner as all the thoughts and experiences would have been fresh in my mind, but this week has been crazy busy. I have to say I was scared of this race, scared that I wouldn't be able to finish. Luckily I had a team of motivators telling me I'd be ok... that I'd make it. I also knew that if I didn't at least try I'd regret it.
So Friday I drove down to San Diego to pick up all my race stuff and got to spend the day with my cousin Mike, his wife Magdalene, and their daughter Emma. Mike ran the full and Meg ran the half with me. It was an eye opening day of vendors selling shirts with slogans like, "If you see me pass out please turn off my Garmin" and "In my dreams I'm Kenyan". I also saw every possible protein bar and GU flavor imaginable. I got to meet the famous Josh Cox, a runner whom I'd only learned about a week earlier.
The real treat of the day was having lunch at the Stone Brewery in Escondido. Lunch was delicious with tofu stir-fry and jalapeno hummus, the beer was even better of course. I got the Stone IPA and it was amazing. Even got a souvenir t-shirt!

Saturday was the day of burritos! I have to say one of my favorite parts of running is now carbo loading... I had one burrito from Taco Factory for lunch and another from Chipotle on my way down to San Diego after I picked up my friend Carly from Riverside. Carly and I were staying with her sister Morgan and Morgan's boyfriend Sergio. Both Morgan and Sergio are elite runners and over the weekend I got an introduction into their world. The ride down to SD included a warning session from Carly on what to expect. The most memorable sentence was, " oh and they sleep in a tent so there's a slight hum from the generator". Huh??? Apparently, some elite athletes utilize an oxygen tent to simulate the effects of living in a high altitude environment. Morgan says, "Yeah, all I had to do was sell my car." This was just the beginning of the crazy. They're room is also covered in at least 50 pairs of running shoes in every color imaginable... good thing they work in a running shoe store huh?

Sunday morning we "woke up" at around 4 am. I never actually fell asleep so waking up at that god awful hour wasn't all that difficult. Sergio drove us to the race, with Morgan blasting European techno from the passenger seat. I'm not sure this was motivational but it made us laugh and took my mind off my worries and doubts. The perks of knowing elite runners is you get the VIP treatment, especially if your driver is last years half marathon winner. So we got to avoid having to find a place to park and needing to take shuttles to the starting line. I also got to hang out in the VIP area before the race... that's right... VIP access to the porta-potties. After that I went to find Meg so we could find our corral where we waited for our turn to start, in a race of over 32,000 you can't all start at once.
When we finally got started I actually felt really good and was able to run for about three miles before needing to walk. It was awesome to have so many people cheering on the side of the road and there was bands playing every mile or so. Plus I had Megan next to me who somehow had the ability to talk, sing, dance, and yell while still running. We had to split up around mile 5 for a bathroom break and after that I was alone. I had a few brief conversations with those around me, a lady in her 60's was worried she wasn't gonna make it but she was giving it all she had. Around mile 6 my foot that I'd injured two weeks earlier really started to ache and I started praying that it wouldn't get any worse. Luckily I came upon a Medical tent not too long after that and got some Tylenol. What a godsend! I have to say I actually teared up when I finally saw that 12 mile marker and then out of no where I spot Carly in the crowd and she jumps off the curb to run the last mile with me. We came across Magdalene shortly after that whose knee had locked up a mile back and had been walking. We toughed it out and ran the last .1 mile and crossed the finish line with our hands raised and smiles on our faces in 2:48.
After the race was more VIP treatment, and meeting up with Mike who finished the full in 4:20 and then it was time for a shower, yet another burrito (this time a Jamaican veggie burrito from Mozy's in Enscinitas) and then 3 hours laying on a beautiful beach with Carly doing nothing but getting burnt and trying erase the lovely sports bra and capri tan I acquired that morning. It was truly an amazing weekend and I'm so glad I decided to run it. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to Mike, Meg, Carly, Morgan and Sergio for all the help and motivation over the past few weeks. I'm sure this will not be my last race and i'm looking forward to future half marathons and maybe even a full some day but I know I'll never forget how special this first one was.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Running From the Voices of My Past

Isn't it interesting how our pasts have such a large affect on our thoughts and actions in the present? Unfortunately it's usually in a negative capacity. There exists this little voice inside of me that has the power to completely over rule my ability to think logically. Take for example when I was recovering the flu, as soon as the symptoms started to lessen I was back to the gym. As soon as I could run without coughing I started running again. It didn't seem to matter that everyone told me I needed to let my body heal, there was that voice telling me that this was just an obstacle and the old me would have let it get in the way, but I wasn't gonna do that this time. What happened? I got sick again. But it wasn't that bad right? Just some kidney pain... that shouldn't affect my running... I had a half marathon approaching at breakneck speed after all.
So last Wednesday I got up early and went for a run. I couldn't run for more than a minute without needing to walk. I felt terrible the rest of the day and could barely keep my eyes open. I was so angry at myself, I felt like I should have been able to push myself harder, if I could just change my mindset maybe I'd find the strength to run harder. Luckily I had a friend who told me what an idiot I was being and it made me stop and think long enough to realize that my body was screaming at me that it was doing all it possibly could to heal itself and I wasn't helping matters. So I stopped running for a week and guess what? I had the best run ever tonight. I ran four miles with no problems and I could have run another two, luckily this time that voice in my head told me to stop and I actually listened. For once it took more willpower to stop then to push myself harder.
Our days are filled with the voices of our past. Whether it be our own voice or the voices of those around us. Some are positive and they remind us of the right thing to do in a certain situation. Others prey on our deepest insecurities to the point where we lose our ability to think logically and all we want to do is prove it wrong. We have this need to prove that we're changing and evolving and learning from past mistakes. This doesn't have to be a bad thing as long as we remember all things must exist in moderation... a balance between determination and logic. Listen to more than just that one voice, listen to your friends and family who have your best interests at heart and most importantly listen to your own voice... here and now. Your current voice knows far more about the person you have become then the voices of your past.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Different Approach

I haven't written for awhile. First I was sick with the plague and then my body decided to throw another obstacle in my way and gave me a kidney infection. In fact my body has been so kind as to bless me with three urinary tract infections in the past three kind right? Every time I went to my doctor he would give me yet another antibiotic and had no interest in finding out why I kept getting them or how to keep me from getting another. So this time I said screw it. I decided to see a naturopathic doctor. What is a naturopathic doctor you might ask? It's a doctor who focuses more on a whole body preventative approach to medicine. They also focus on encouraging the body's natural healing abilities through the use of supplements and changes to your diet.
As far as i'm concerned this is the best doctor I've ever had the pleasure of being examined by. He spent two hours asking me a plethora of questions about my health, diet, family, and medical history and then went through page after page of directions on the supplements I should take, the foods I should start eating more of and those I should stay away from. On the list of foods I have to stay away from... tomatoes, citrus, carbs, sugar, and caffeine. Not the easiest thing in the world. Hello i'm a girl! I need carbs and sugar like a panda needs bamboo. It's integral to my outlook on the world. I'm a firm believer that a piece of chocolate cake can bring about world peace. I haven't been able to give it up completely...but i'm trying. I'm also taking so many supplements that my purse now rattles when I walk. Probiotics, vitamin c, d-mannose, cranberry pills... I got it all.
So is it working??? I've now had two full days without pain! Better yet, I know what I need to do to make sure I don't get another infection. I'm cautiously hopeful that I'll be able to stay healthy without the aid of antibiotics. Hopefully life should return to "normal" now and I'll get back to writing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Look for the Bare Necessities

The other day I was flipping through channels when I stopped on a show called Million Dollar Rooms. There was this woman on there talking about how she had spared no expense in decorating her closet. She had built display cases for her Chanel purses and the chandelier was made in France with 18ct gold, all the door pulls were also 18ct gold and she spent 10,000 dollars alone on a rug with the Chanel logo on it. She just "had to have it". I couldn't help but think about all the children in the world who go hungry or sleep on the streets and here she was spending her money on rugs. What would the world be like if people like that did some good with their money instead of spending it on material goods. Shame on her right!
Then I thought about the shoes I had bought that day that I just "had to have". Was I so different? She is living within her means and is spending her money on extraneous things that she believes are necessary for her daily life or her happiness. Do we not all do the same thing? I know I do. I have 11 pairs of Converse! Is that not ridiculous? Would a child in Alabama who lives in trailer and lives on food stamps not look at my closet and find me ridiculous?
It's interesting that growing up in the society that we do, shapes our opinions on what we consider necessary for daily life. Perhaps if I had grown up in a wealthier family I too may spend large sums of money on Chanel purses and see no problem with it. God I hope not! But the truth of the matter is that I still spend far too much on things that really are not necessary and there are people in the world that are barely making it from day to day.
Now i'm not saying we should all become minimalists and only spend money on food and necessary clothing. But I wan't to challenge myself to re-examine what I consider necessary. Perhaps I can put part of the money I spend in Target tank tops into my next trip to Italy or Switzerland. I'd rather spend money on experiences and activities rather than things anyway. The rest should go to those who really need it, with all the devastation in the world right now brought on by recent natural disasters and the state of the economy the state of my wardrobe loses it's importance. I have a responsibility as a human being to give what I can no matter the size of my bank account.
Ok... I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Momma's don't let Your Baby's Grow Up to be Cowboys

I have been sick since last Monday with what I affectionately term "the plague". The plague came upon our family by way of a very sick little boy... my nephew Aiden whom my aunts and cousins and I all helped baby sit two weekends ago. He came into contact with 7 members of my family and only 1 avoided said plague.
Since then I have left the house exactly twice and had contact with very few people as to keep further transmission of illness to a minimum. I have been exceedingly fortunate to have my own private nurse and cheerleader these past two weeks. People claim they have the best mom in the world... they don't have my mom. I'm nearly 23 years old and I have to say I thank the lord every day for blessing me with my mommy. Yes that's right, on rare occasions when I'm feeling especially pathetic, or weak, or simply overwhelmingly grateful I still call my mom "mommy". I don't believe I will ever reach an age where I cease to do so.
I have held off from writing about my mom because it is one of the hardest things I can imagine doing. The act of putting all the beauty that is my mom into words is impossible. Don't get me wrong... I love my dad and I admire so many aspects of his character and his heart. But my mom and I share a relationship that far exceeds the typical mother/daughter relationship. She is my true and always best friend. I look at her with wonder and fail to see how I can ever measure up. I once told her that if I become half the mother and woman that she is I will consider myself successful as a human being. I still believe this and strive for it.
When I was about 11 I think, I decided that I wanted to play roller hockey. I remember the day of my try-out with unfailing clarity that refuses to dim with time. I was terrible!!! They had us skate around the rink doing different things like skating backwards or skating with the puck. I took three times as long as everyone else and fell over and over again. This adorable little girl came down from the stands and stood at the glass over me and asked if I was ok. I made it through long enough to get outside and dissolve into tears of utter embarrassment and failure. My mom was beaming. She told me how proud she was of me and that she admired my fearlessness. She said she didn't think she possessed the strength it took for me to keep going. She didn't see me as a failure. I love and hate the memory of that day in equal proportions, but it's one of the most accurate representations of the depth of my mother's greatness.
So happy mother's day to all the mom's out there who inspire greatness in their children. Those who are there to catch them when they fall, dry their tears, hold them when they feel their world is falling apart and make them blue-berry pancakes when they have the plague. They never receive enough credit for all that they do, but we gotta keep on trying.

Love you Mom

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Wisdom of Elephants

I love this picture. Besides the fact that just looking at it fills me with a sense of peace it also makes me crazy happy. Most of all it makes me think... which is dangerous for me because when I start thinking my thoughts expand in a multitude of directions at once and it's hard to keep track of them.

I probably wouldn't have interpreted this picture in the same way before I started doing yoga. At the end of every yoga class you place your hands at heart center, bow your head and say namaste. Now there are many different meanings behind this word. My favorite is the light in me bows to the light in you. Others include... the god in me recognizes the god in you or the spirit in me honors the spirit in you. To me this picture encompasses every one of those thoughts... most likely because all these thoughts say the same thing. Light, God, spirit... these are all words that attempt to put a name to something that is impossible to be described in just one word. It's an embodiment of peace, joy, hope, love, wisdom, kindness and generosity that is present in all living things. Growing up as a Christian one of the things I was taught is that God's presence is all around me. I envisioned God in the air surrounding me... never did I think about the presence of God in those around me. Let alone in nature.

I'm not a fan of religion, mostly because every religion believes that their religion is the only one that's right. I feel that most religions are saying the same thing... love your neighbor as your self. I used to think this meant treat others as you would want to be treated. Perhaps, we need to look deeper. We need to recognize the light present in each of us... whether we call that light God, or the holy spirit doesn't matter. When we recognize this capacity for peace, joy, hope, love, wisdom, kindness and generosity in others we realize that we are all connected because we are able to feed off that light as well as give it freely.

We aren't all endowed with equal measures of these qualities at all times in our lives. Some people have more wisdom while others are more generous, thus the ability to share these qualities amongst us becomes invaluable. At the lowest points in our lives we want someone next to us with great strength and the ability to lend us that strength. At the most exciting times in our lives with want someone to share our joy with. By recognizing the God in all of us we have all that we need because those around us have all that we lack.

So ... namaste