In case you wanted to see the selfie I referenced in yesterday’s post, my friend has a blog too:

http://theschmidtlife.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/lets-get-real/

Maybe you could go check her out.  :)

My friends, it is the end of a Monday and my feet are propped up. It’s that time of randomness between work’s end and making dinner. Please don’t check my spelling.

It has been a LOOOONG day, not for any sad or bad reasons, but just that life brings you tiredness sometimes.

Jack is coming along fine after his surgery with the exception that he’s miserable in his crate and “cone of shame”.  He handled it like a champ for the first two days, happy to nap out in the privacy, but now – he’s OVER IT.  The most Zen dog I know is OVER IT, with the stored up OVER-IT-NESS of 11 years. The barking and whining. OH. MY. GOD. Harder on him than me, I know, but still hard for everyone in the house.  Which is what brings me to today, and the repeated barking fits throughout the night that left everyone in the place a bit groggy this morning.

On top of which, I got something in my eye last night that just would. not. give. up. for several hours and repeated eye rinsing. Swollen, puffy eyes laced with gunk. Sexy.

When you wake up after little sleep, with one eye gunked shut and your brain not even thinking of firing, you reach for your fat day clothes to wear to work.

That’s what today was – frumpy, fat pants, red-eyed, little-to-no makeup and half-asleep Monday. Somehow I still managed to smile and say hello and be nice to a lot of people today, but yuck. I was not feeling good in my skin.

Then I saw it. The most perfect thing for the day. A selfie my friend had taken and had the balls to post on Facebook. Like nothing I have ever seen.

First, let me tell you. My friend, she’s beautiful. In the “traditional sense” – blonde, blue-eyed, gorgeous.  As if that’s not enough, she also has an impeccable sense of style. When I see her, she is usually put together with precision. Then there’s the wicked sense of humor. One of those women that just strikes you as flawless, except in a completely relatable, good friend kind of way.

Today, there was this woman. With the hair going all…and the expression going all…there just aren’t words. In the land of Monday morning selfies, this one wins the internet. Just holy shit y’all. No makeup. Pajamas. If feral can be done ‘precisely’, my girl nailed it. I saw this picture, and I just laughed. A whole rest of the day later and I’m still laughing about it. Not because she looked awful, because in some weird way, she didn’t. But because in an even weirder way, even though I’d put on my fat work pants and cleaned myself up a bit, that picture summed up everything about how I still felt inside my skin. If I looked in the mirror, and saw my true self reflected back, it would have looked back at me with wild morning hair and an expression of …I still can’t articulate the expression well enough. Something like, You’re going to get my 100% today, but just so you know, this is what my 100% looks like. So on with it.

I love that she had the nerve to post that. In smiling at that and seeing that, it reminded me that we all are in this struggle together.  And we should laugh at it.

Fast forward from the morning selfie, and an errand took me to the Downtown yoga studio where I teach. Just to pass through. Being tired, I also passed through the coffee shop down the street to grab a latte. The girl behind the counter had this shockingly red hair – shocking to the point that I could guess some would have comment about it. My corporate environment for one, would not welcome this look if I showed up that way. In talking about the weather, the humidity, she mentioned something about the color running. We spent a good 5-10 minutes talking about the natural dye she used and how she got her hair that color and other colors it had been. An easy, natural conversation happening in a way that doesn’t occur all that often with a complete stranger. And I thought to myself, ya know, I bet this girl takes a lot of heat over that hair color but if you take a moment to just take in the whole, she’s really beautiful.  Clever makeup, a goth twist to her look, but so friendly and open. Our discussion got onto the topic of the perception of beauty and I said to her that what I would really like would be if the world would just get rid of the phrase -

She’d be pretty if…

If she lost 10 pounds or 30 pounds or 100 pounds. If she cut her hair different. If she waxed her lip. If she smiled more. If she dressed differently. If if if.

My god,  can we stop with the IF? Or the WOULD BE?

When your friend can laugh at her feral Monday hair enough to share it with the world, that’s beautiful. She IS beautiful, as is, no photoshop.

When your barista can smile at you and talk about how she got a shade of red that you don’t have the courage for, she IS beautiful.

We’re all beautiful, even on the rough days when we’ve had no sleep and even detest our fat pants.

Without the if’s or the would be’s, we’re beautiful.

Peeps, please take a second for yourself, wherever you be in your skin, and just let yourself feel beautiful for a moment.

Because you are. Just as your are.

We’re beautiful.

Disclaimer: This is going to be one of those posts where the “somewhat” comes into the “somewhat likeable”.  In fact, by the end of it, I may need to re-title “not very likeable at all”. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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It’s Tuesday morning, and in addition to the dog surgery, what’s on my mind is wondering if it’s safe to go back into my newsfeeds yet. Someone famous died last night. All of the usual content I read has been replaced by condolences I can’t handle. I have seen no less than 40 posts of memes of this actor, captioned by poignant quotes from his screen career ~ mostly lines from scripts. A statement posted from his widow “liked” by thousands. I saw his own twitter feed – the last posting of which was a birthday wish to his daughter two weeks ago – turned into a digital condolences petition. And this is where my thoughts go -

I cannot imagine being his daughter, turning to such a message for comfort, trying to remember something happy, and seeing  a thousand strangers reply in focused unison about his death. I cannot imagine being his widow, seeing my grief for my husband “liked”.

People, what the hell are we doing?

You can blame this on my parents for raising me a bit old-fashioned, but I was brought up to believe that grief is personal. Private. IF YOU KNEW THE PERSON, or YOU KNEW THE FAMILY, you would reach out to extend your condolences either in attending the appropriate ceremonies, or offering help, or just helping without offering since sometimes people in grief can’t vocalize what they need, or you send a note. If you don’t fit into a category of actually knowing the person, or knowing the family, YOU LEAVE THEM THE HELL ALONE to grieve in private and comfort each other.

Let me be clear about this point, watching someone on screen, no matter how their talent makes you comforted by their movies, does not mean you know them. For those of us who appreciated his work, his life has not ended. We can connect with him anytime via Netflix and revisit the same sense of connection we had before. For those who knew what he was like “off script”, and how he liked his coffee, and if he smelled like aftershave or laundry detergent when he hugged them,  or that will never get another birthday wish or anniversary card, his daily contribution to their life has ceased. Connection ceased except in memory. Your knowing he is deceased when you hit ‘play’ on the remote is NOT the same kind of grief that a friend who has known someone for decades experiences.

Let me be clear about this other point, ‘LIKING” is not an expression of condolence. Social media has made grief a competition for ‘likes’ and that’s wrong.  Grief should not get 1 like, or 100 likes, or 1,000,000 likes. If someone says something really sad in your world and the best amount of your attention it warrants is a split second ‘like’, lay off the like button. If you don’t give enough of a damn to write an actual well wish, then move along.  As much as the age of social media would like us to think otherwise, every once in awhile, it is okay to get the news of something sad, and say to yourself “Wow, that’s really sad.”  Then maybe you leave it there. Maybe you reach out to your personal circle with a text or a phone call, or you find a way to honor what that person meant to you within the bounds of your own life – watching a movie that person was in, reading a few quotes, reminding yourself that it’s been awhile since you ‘yawp’d’ and finding a way to do that. But maybe you, as a complete stranger, don’t intrude on the grief of a family. You may have put on your ‘it’s being supportive hat’, but noise is not being supportive. ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ and 140-characters are noise. They are not sincere loss.  Their grief is not about you, and they should not have to be burdened with the obligation of gratitude for your grief tweet.

Can we stop with the memes? If you hear about the death of someone that touched you in some meaningful way, and your first thought is “wow, I should pull up a photo of them, find a good quote, and create a meme that might go viral on Facebook’, you, sir, are an asshole. Unfortunately, a lot of us choose to ‘share’ and ‘retweet’ assholes. Mainly because it doesn’t dawn on us in the moment that they’re assholes.

When I saw the news about his passing (I’m not repeating his name in this post because I don’t want to add to the ‘trending’), I tell you, I took a good solid think about what or IF I wanted to post about it.  Feeling already inundated by the headline shares and meme shares, and what seemed to be at least 23 separate people just posting listings of his movies and characters, I asked myself “how can I help?” and “what do I – me, myself – not the dozen memes or celebrity quotes, but simple me – think about this?”. I thought it was sad. Tragic. I thought about how depression is a bigger asshole than death-meme-makers. I felt sad again that Good Will Hunting was a brilliant character portrayal on his part and that I’ll never see another new movie with him in it. I thought about watching The Bird Cage. But I didn’t.

A solid 30-minutes later, I had a brilliant epiphany. I asked myself if anyone was expecting me to comment on it, and why they would be. In this day and age, our social media gives us the illusion that people may actually expect or wait on our comments about tragedy, so we feel obligated to post. That is my ego talking, not my grief. If you want to check your ego, ask yourself why you think the internet gives a damn about your opinion on the suicide of an actor you never met.

Be helpful. Be considerate. Be kind as often as possible. Be respectful if you can’t be anything else. I try to keep these things in mind when I’m posting, though I am human and I fail too. Helpful, though, is the word that started to stick out to me. In tragedy, how do you be helpful in a meaningful way? Please do not confuse R.I.P. retweets with something meaningful.

Instead, I asked myself who I know that struggles with depression, and I made a mental note that I needed to reach out to them this week – in person, or with a call, with a PERSONAL CONNECTION. Because instead of focusing on a stranger, or sending messages to that stranger’s wife and child that I hope for their sake, they do not see, there are people present in my day-to-day that need help. That need a connection and a reach out and a check-in. If I want to think about tragedy, I might better consider how to prevent one that can still be prevented, rather than focusing on what poignancy I can come up with for a stranger to see how many ‘likes’ it might get.

 

Tuesday #2,026

Posted: 08/12/2014 in Uncategorized

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What is possibly the sweetest dog on the planet goes into surgery for a torn ACL today. Let the worrywarting begin…

 

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From our California coast trip. Seriously can’t think of a more relaxing vacation that we’ve taken together. I’m not usually fond of  pictures of myself, preferring the other side of the lens, but this one is just very…me.  Probably due to that guy reflected in my sunglasses. He inspires that smile.

I crossed a starting line this morning, friends.

To my recollection, I haven’t done a race since a fateful 10k in March that I should have stopped at 5k. My knee aching badly, I hobbled across the finish dead last with the bike dude picking up cones as I passed them. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. Talk about having your ego tarred, feathered and left for dead checked! I decided it wasn’t worth writing about at the time because I wasn’t in a good place with it. After that, I decided I wasn’t registering for a damn thing until I was certain my knee could hang with me for the distance. And I haven’t, watching the races go by on the calendar.

As the clock has kept ticking through prime running season, a friend of mine decided to run for the first time. Ever. And something clicked in her, in that funny way that running makes things click for people, and it said to her “if you stick with me, I’ll change your life”.  So right now, she’s trying to stick with it. Working the Couch-to-5k program, about 3 weeks in, and while I’d like to say I offered to run a 5k with her for the purely selfless reason of being a supportive friend, I’ll be honest in saying that  I offered to go along if she picked out a 5k for more selfish reasons – it inspires the hell out of me to see someone step out of their comfort zone like that.

To get into the struggle, squash the fear, and try.

My friend, she jumped into the struggle this morning.  There were intervals, and hard points, and surprises. We did some breathing and tapped into my running toolbox. The smaller details in between the start and finish are her story to write, not mine. But Peeps, my friend finished her first 5k this morning! With her husband and her son by her side.

And while she was getting through her first 5k, I was getting through my third pavement run this week with no knee pain.  It’s been a SLOW recovery to get this kneecap moving right again, but it finally seems to be working proper.

Bashful Ostrich 5k is a small race, probably about 150 participants. A thing that makes it perfect for a first 5k, by the way.  We lucked out with the weather having a chill in the air to start, as most of the course around the Scarlet Oaks college campus is without shade. One water stop, which today was enough. A hotter day, you’d need a second, which pains me to write since I usually don’t take water at all for a 5k anymore.  FLAT! If you are trying to PR and need a flat course to do it, this is FLLLLLLLAT! Making up for the lack of interesting things on the course, the volunteers were all VERY pleasant and helpful, and there was a hat in the swag bag. I really love baseball hats.

It’s a sweet race. That seems like an odd word to describe a race for me. Sweet. But Bashful Ostrich is sweet, and small, and has that little community feel to it – like if I went back to it next year, the same runners would be there and remember you.  It’s also sweet, in that with 150 participants, almost everyone makes top-10 in age groups. There are LOTs of door prizes. You end up with more loot than just your swag bag – I added a knit Winter beanie from Monumental Marathon & a luggage tag to my stash. I also bought a $5 messenger bag from the previous years’ swag stockpile that was up for sale. $5. For a messenger bag!  If they gave away bubblegum, it would be about the cutest 5k ever! I’d need to pet it on the head, call it Ted and give it treats.

In asking myself whether I would do the race again, the course would make me a little ‘meh’ about it, but the cute factor would probably get me to say ‘yes’. Also, there was a guy there dressed head to toe in a homemade Captain America outfit that he had put SERIOUS thought into. How can you not love that? Someone said he dressed as Batman last year. I may show up next year just to see what he’s wearing – it was a GOOD costume!

Up next:  Midsummer’s Night Trail Run, a 5-miler through the trails of Mt. Airy Forest this coming Tuesday.

Because once your knee stops hurting, one of the first things you should do is register for a 5-mile trail run. Jeez-Louise! I need my head checked!

One of those runs came along. The kind where you can feel the stars beginning to align a full hour or two before your run, a little pep in your step starts – you know in your soul it’s going to be a GOOOOOOD run. A REALLY GOOD run.

It’s been a while since I’ve had one. I’ve been picking up some extra yoga-teaching opportunities as a sub, and focusing on my swimming. Running had temporarily fallen by the wayside, and I’ll be honest in saying that I didn’t run very much at all in July. When I did run, I took Fred with me – which meant shorter runs and all of them intervals (.25 on/.25 off) to get her conditioned without ripping up her little puppy feet. Okay, big puppy feet now.  I hadn’t earned a good run. I hadn’t put the time in on running that it takes for one of those to happen.

But then the stars – and there’s no ignoring those stars when they start to tug at you and say “hey! hey you! lace up!”. I was actually dancing around the house as I got dressed for the run, and chanting rather selfishly “I’m going for a ruh-hun, all by my-sel-elf!” to Fred. Who was entertaining other company, so she didn’t really care – but she did find the little dance amusing. Dogs like it when their humans dance for them. In case you didn’t know. I decided on my favorite around-the-house route, an ambitious 6-miler for the amount of not-running I’ve been doing lately – and then set the goals. Interval (3:1) the 3-miles to the park and stay unwaiveringly strong for those intervals, then walk it back to just soak in the sunshine on the cooldown.  I set out -

And it was GLORIOUS!!

Apparently, there was some keg of energy that I needed to get out of my system because the first 1.5 miles of intervals were sub-9 min/miles. Um, I don’t run sub-9’s. Really, I don’t run sub-10’s. Guess I do now.  At one point I looked down at my Garmin and saw 8:12 pace. One of those moments where you go “WHAT THE HELL am I doing, I NEED to slow down!” except then you shrug your shoulders and go ‘but I feel good, so I guess I’ll just go on then’. So, yeah, the first 1.5 I went out WAY too fast, and spent the other 1.5 slowing down and struggling just a little. But I stayed with the struggle and made my goal all the way to the park, even running past my usual endpoint just to make sure I rounded out all the way to 3 miles.

Then I paused at the beautiful overlook that’s there and just took a moment to enjoy the view. What’s the point of it all if you don’t stop for the view.

Drinking fountain stop. Then I walked over to the jungle gym and used it to knock out some sets of elevated push-ups and regular sit-ups, beginning the walk back after that.  Then I decided to add some sets of alternating lunges, side-lunges, and knee-ups to the first few blocks of the walk back. Grinning at all the other runners who passed by, heading to the same point I’d just left. Never mind me over here, just lunging my way down the street, nothing to see, move along.  It felt a little ridiculous. It also felt really STRONG and AWESOME!

My legs were spent by the time I got back to the house, but WOW did I feel good! Re-energized. Inspired.

Friends, sometimes running hands you a gift even when you don’t deserve it and you haven’t earned it. Haven’t put in your time. It takes a moment to say “hey, you’ve got rested legs – and this is what they’re built to do” and you have to say THANK YOU! and take off like a shot because ignoring that gift would be wrong in your soul. And you remember why you put the time in the rest of the time. 

Time to start logging miles.

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If this weren’t a collage of faces blended together, changing every few seconds…men, women, all colors, nationalities, ages…showcasing diversity in our city, then blasted all huge size across the face of one of Cincinnati’s most legendary icons – Music Hall…

It would probably be very weird.

Anyone else remember General Zod, and all the talking heads in Superman 2 (I think it was 2)?

This was taken at Lumenocity last night. I’m sure there are 1000’s of pictures all across the web from the weekend, and that a lot of them are far better than this one. But sometimes, you leave the camera at home, take one shot of something cool with your phone, then you shut the thing down and enjoy the show with a husband that busted his ass to make sure you had a SWEET spot all set up.

Somehow, in a crowd of 17,000 people, we had chairs and a picnic blanket and a cooler of snacks & beverages. Space. We could see. We managed to grab a no-fuss bite at A Tavola ahead of the show and weave straight through to our seats afterward. A lucky contact meant free parking in a secured lot a block away. No long lines, no waiting. Traffic smooth enough that we were home 20 minutes after it was over. I was absolutely astonished at how smoothly everything worked.

The show was AMAZING!!!!!!

It doesn’t hurt that I adore Charlie Harper art and a large portion of the show was a tribute to his work. I honestly didn’t expect that this would be much more than a light show (and shhhh! maybe a little boring), but it was way more than that. Funny. Creative. SPECTACULAR! Other arts brought in during the twilight hours waiting for it to be dark enough for the light show – ballet, opera. A friend of mine sings with the May Festival Choir and I’ve never heard it, except that she was volunteering with their performance last night. What an excellent venue to expose the community to all the arts available in the city! (and point out that Music Hall needs some preservation funding!)

They’re going to have to change some things next year – all the grumblers bitching about not getting FREE tickets, and all – but honestly, I hope they don’t change too much.  It was truly a fantastic event – and one of the most civilized groups that large that I’ve ever been in.

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No session out at the lake this morning. Head cold I’ve had since Monday still has me a little fogged in my noggin’ and I didn’t think getting lake water up my nose would be beneficial.

From the California file, the Golden Gate bridge is out there somewhere beyond the wall of fog. On any other day, or maybe even later on the same day, that overlook is an amazing view of the bridge. On this day, it was foggy and chilly, and even the wind had a bit of fierce to it. One of the new words we learned in San Fran: MICROCLIMATE.

Blame it on Caesar

Posted: 07/29/2014 in Photos, Uncategorized
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Had a huge wave of fatigue drive me into an early bedtime last night, and sure enough, woke up with a headcold. Body feels it a bit too – like someone graffiti’d tiredness all over my quads and eyeballs.

It’s a fine excuse to stop by Myra’s and pick up some Avgolemono soup. Seriously, there is nothing better than avgolemono soup when you’re sick.

 

 

 

Morning session #4

Posted: 07/27/2014 in Uncategorized
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Me: It’s as hard as I make it look, isn’t it?
Eric:  Yes. Yes it is.

From the comfort of the kayak after finishing the half-mile of stops & starts with which I’d tasked myself. Most of the training group was competing in Northern Ohio, so it was just the two of us out there ~ Eric adventuring out as my water safety crew since no one should swim alone.

Seriously,  how awesome is my husband that he’ll get up at 5AM on a Saturday to make sure I don’t drown?

When I was done, we switched places. He’s been listening to me talk about swimming form for almost a month. Decided to try it out.

Last time it was 10-12 strokes before the panic sets in & the feet have to find ground.  Yesterday, 14. Sometimes 20. Working on finding my breath. Staying calm. 

Half a mile in 14-20 stroke increments takes a lot longer than running it, that’s for damn sure.