Archive for December, 2012

which means the dog let me sleep until 9:10 or so. Apparently, his English is getting better.

First off, we head downstairs and I open the door for him to go out.

And there is this streak of bright red missile that goes rushing right across my whole line of view. So fast!

Such a brazen flash of color against all the snow & glare. A cardinal.

I don’t really know why, but I have always thought of cardinals as good luck. (Unless they’re from St. Louis)

They don’t really migrate at all, and stay closer to the ground, preferring shrubs & bushes as landing places. I respect a bird that’s willing to push through a Winter on wit & skill. They’re sturdy. And then there’s the whole bright red thing. Explain to me how anything that stands out so brightly in nature shouldn’t have been picked off by cats long before now. Yet, they’re still here. And they fly like fast little missiles shooting across the yard.

When I see a cardinal cross my path like that, I immediately feel like something good is about to happen.

I went into the pantry and pulled out some semi-stale trail mix ingredients, mixed them into a little bowl and then scattered them on a few snowless rocks in the yard. Something good should happen for the birds today too.

The stiffness in my back from Wednesday has lessened a bit.

Last night I went out and bought about a weeks worth of new running clothes. (Target & Old Navy, so not as expensive as it sounds) Making yoga a priority several days a week in addition to bootcamp & running, means more laundry, less time to do it. So I have a few new pairs of running pants, and a new, warm track jacket. I also picked up some things for a little project to work on – something good. Doing something good with my hands makes me happy.

There are some funds in the iTunes account to add inspiration to the iPod.

The snow has mostly melted off the sidewalks, so I probably won’t need my Yaktrax.

And that cardinal brought with it the first bits of sunshine and blue sky we’ve had in days.

Hello Sunday, I think we’re going to have a good day.

I think of weird shit in the shower.

Anyone else do that?

One minute I’m not really thinking much of anything – just all vacant-brained, Irish Spring-scented showery goodness – and then quietly, without even knowing I’m doing it, I’ll wander off somewhere into a part of the brain I haven’t visited in awhile.

Or I’ll get all INSPIRED! ABOUT! SOMETHING! thinking “HEY! That’s a GREAT IDEA!’. Except that pen & paper is hard to come by in the shower and I usually forget whatever it was by the time I reach for the moisturizer. What was I thinking? Oh well.

This morning I quietly drifted off and when I came to consciousness again, my Econ professor was in the shower with me. Okay – not literally, but he was in my thoughts. Which, if you saw him, you would know – he is NOT a pleasant shower thought. Nevertheless, he comes to mind when I need to be reminded of something specific.

Perspective.

When I first walked into Prof. O’N’s class circa 2004, I was doing really well in my studies. I’d heard he was hard, but I was pretty confident I could meet the challenge. Then class started and I realized by ‘hard’, my friends meant ‘asshole’. Prof. O’N was a huge asshole. And he was hard.

You see, we went through this thing where he would ask a question – call on me – and I would answer it in colloquial terms. He would say ‘no’ and call on the next person – who would say almost the exact same thing that I just said.  I would look at him incredulously and say ‘that’s what I just said’ and he would respond with ‘no, you didn’t’.  My type-A-ness developed a quick loathing for him, convinced I was right. This dance we were doing went on for about 2-3 weeks of a 10-week class. It was pissing me off!!!!! STRESSING ME OUT as I really wanted to do well, but couldn’t get a grip on what he wanted from me. What was I doing wrong?

Then finally, one day I was doing my homework for his class, and I pushed my books aside, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and asked the question of myself again – what was I doing wrong? I committed myself to taking a good look at the dynamics in play in the classroom. I replayed the Q&A’s we’d gone through and a lightbulb went off. The second person answering was using the specific terms to answer his question, while I was giving the definition of the term in my answer. I was being colloquial when he wanted formal. Zing! And then I thougth to myself – WHAT AN ASSHOLE! – just a little longer.

At least now I recognized why he was negating my answers. But I still needed a better grasp on the ‘why’ of it so that I could stop viewing him as such a jerk. The man really knew his stuff and I needed him on my side – especially since I knew I had more classes with him in my future.  Why was he being a jerk? And then another lightbulb went off – he was being hard on me to keep me from sounding stupid when I talked to my superiors. Using the right terminology was more professional. It would help me be respected and get better jobs. He was pushing me hard as a favor to my future. Wow, I am such an asshole! to not see that.

Once I got that turned around in my head – that he was making me better, not just being a jerk, he & I started to get along much better. My answers got better. I did well in that class as well as the next one, and eventually, he offered to write me a recommendation letter if I decided to go into a Ph.D. program. We parted ways happily ever after.

Perspective. Sometimes, if something isn’t working for you, you just need to sit down and figure out how to think about it. Change your thoughts.

Not real sure why my brain brought that to the forefront today. Except that I’m in a bit of a negative mental space after jacking up my back at the gym. One of those moments where you’re lifting and actually feel tissue give way. OWWWWW! That happened Wednesday and I can see a few more days of taking it easy in my future.  It’s one thing to choose not to go to the gym, but it’s another to feel like you can’t/shouldn’t/ wouldn’t be a good idea.  And then your whole midsection starts to feel like jello even though it’s no different than it was the day before.

Perspective, silver-lining seeking, is telling me that I have a 4-day weekend ahead to get some reading done for Yoga Teacher Training. Prop my feet up. Let the back heal well. Organize my thoughts. This will be a good opportunity to be well prepared for class starting next week – with all that extra time not spent running or bootcamping. But the part of my back that is grumping and giving me a 2-day headache just wants to keep on grumping.

Perspective. Need to find it.

 

 

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In Sitting Buddha, your human scratches your chest.  No contest.

 

So last night, before bed, I leaned over and whispered into my dog’s ear “Tomorrow is Sunday. And we can sleep late on Sunday. So there’s no need for you to wake me up at 7:30. You can sleep late too.” See how I did that? Pointed out the positive for him in this. I talk to my dog like he’s human.

Every weekend where I get to sleep in, there are two big brown eyes perched on my side of the bed with a wagging tail and the repeated nudging of a wet nose into my elbow saying ‘hey…hey thumblady…I gotta pee. Can you open a door for me?‘. This was something Ginger used to do, but Jack has taken up the habit since she’s been gone. He does this at 7:30. Which isn’t really that bad since Ginger thought 6:30 was wake-up time. I’m up at 4:35 for bootcamp (okay, 4:46 post-snooze) and 6:10 on any other weekday. 7:30 is actually pretty late under that circumstance. Except that it’s Sunday no-alarm-day. I have fantasies on Sunday no-alarm day where I get to sleep straight through until 10am. Fantasies, I tell ya! Just about the time I consider being a big meanie-stupidhead and telling him to go back to bed – he puts both front paws up on my arm in this post we call ‘Buddha’ (I taught him that!) . Insufferably cute. And then I am awake. The day begins.

I read somewhere once that the first four minutes of your waking mostly determine your mindset for the remainder of the day.

This morning – he woke me up at 7:47. My little speech worked! kinda. Cut the dog some slack – English is his second language.

I guess there are worse ways to wake up than to a fuzzy thing doing the ‘Buddha’ for you.

It’s my busy season, so I haven’t been able to post much. Busy season lasts from October-to-end of February and it gets in the way of a lot of things. Sanity, particularly.

Which is part of the reason why I’m way off plan on my running schedule. I’ve been keeping up with bootcamp three mornings a week, though it’s still not challenging me as much as it used to. But I’ve only been getting in two runs a week when I’m scheduled for three. And I haven’t gone over six miles since Thanksgiving.

But, but, but, but…

I’m running happy.

Honestly, I feel awesome about it. That’s good too, right? Somewhere in the middle of finally figuring out some pace control and getting rid of the intervals, I’ve found a happy place.

After the running group ends in November, there’s a few little sub-packs that keep meeting to stay motivated for the 6 weeks between one running group session ending and the next beginning.  They also fill in the 3rd & 4th runs in the training plans where the official running group leaves off at two. (It’s designed to run 2 group runs & 1-2 on your own runs.) I’ve been invited to join this subgroup for over a year now and have never gone b/c frankly, they’re faster than I am by A LOT and I didn’t want to get left behind. Bawk! Bawk! Bawk!

This time – feeling much stronger than I have in the past – I decided to go.

I have had SO MUCH FUN!

First off, I found a running buddy that’s majorly good company.  She’s struggling with a few of the demons that I seem to have conquered this past Summer with letting go of intervalling, picking up the speed, and essentially – not quitting on herself. So I get where she’s at – and she’s a bit slower than I am. But I really don’t care. We ran the first time together as the only two slower runners out of the pack, buddying-up for safety on an after-dark run. I decided to let the slower pace help me focus on clean inclines and good form. Not to mention, I can talk while I run at that pace. And so can she. Which opens up opportunities to be encouraging. Since I spend a lot of time focused on my own run goals, I run in a group – but not really with a group – I don’t usually talk to people during the run. It throws my breathing off. But for this round, I decided I can work on speed on my own time – and when I am feeling like I need to pick it up – she doesn’t take it personally. Changing up my habits a bit, I made a new running friend. Yay me! Yay her too – I’m pretty awesome. 🙂

Also, when January rolls around & the marathon group fires up, I’ll have a few familiar faces there. Most of this sub-pack is marathon people. They’ve gotten to see my face in a smaller group setting & I theirs. So now they know I drink beer after a run & we are all instant friends. We’ve done some pub runs togethers. In fact, one of those runners organizes a pub run – outside of any other official organizing group – to raise money for Girls on the Run. No registering or fees, no chip timing – just show up and go. She does a voluntary ‘Split the Pot’ raffle & makes the run into a scavenger hunt as well – with clues at each of the 4 bars. Distance was 4.5 miles with 4 stops. I think there were about 40 people there & she raised $200. HOW COOL IS THAT?!!! People, anyone can make a difference if they want to.

Marathon training fires up January 5th – and I’m thinking that’s still where I’m going to start to prep for Run the Bluegrass – and then I’ll decide if I want to run the Flying Pig Marathon or Half-Marathon after that’s over, when I know how recovery is going. The trick will be integrating the long runs into the weekends that I have Yoga Teacher Training – as that is going to chew up significant time also. May end up doing a lot of the long runs alone. Challenging.

But seriously, what’s a few challenges to a runner? We bust that shit up all the time.

Some vendor spirit.

Like I said, City Flea is primarily an artists market. I wanted one of these for each day of the week. There is enough ambient light on this that it looks like I took it at mid-day instead of 8pm on a Saturday in Winter without a flash.

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f/4, 1/15 sec, ISO-6400, 28mm

This one came out a little darker. Still preferring the no flash approach & letting the rest of the auto-settings roll with it.

f/4, 1/30 sec, ISO-4000, 24mm

f/4, 1/30 sec, ISO-4000, 24mm

One of the other lessons learned in this foray is that learning & thinking about this photography stuff from the technical aspects can be EXHAUSTING! I really liked being out with the camera, but when we got home around 9-ish, I was a pooped pup. I’m sure I’ll get a little more stamina as I learn more and the shooting speeds up.

Really wish I would’ve gotten their names – b/c if these were my peeps, I would totally want a copy of this with the caption “You’re running for President? Really?”…and then I would probably vote for them since they offered to let me take their picture. This, my friends, is what the holiday spirit is all about.

f/3.5, 1/25 sec, 18mm, ISO-6400, no flash

f/3.5, 1/25 sec, 18mm, ISO-6400, no flash

Special props to dude in the robe – it was starting to get cold. 🙂

 

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f/4, 1/30 sec, ISO-3200, 18mm, no flash

 

After Redsfest, Eric & I wandered over to A Tavola to rest our weary bones over some brews and FABULOUS pizza. We lucked into a corner spot on the bar, bypassing a 45-minute wait. Then having gotten refreshed, he talked me into heading over to City Flea – a kind of pop-up artist’s market, taking place this time in Washington Park.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have walked through Washington Park voluntarily. Architecturally beautiful, the park had become geographically undesireable – located in the middle of one of Cincinnati’s poorest areas -it’s reputation was for drunks passed out on park benches and drug dealers using it as a pass-through to evade police. Also, it was in an odd juxtaposition of being directly across the street from our celebrated Music Hall – an icon of the performing arts. How you end up with something so amazing right across from something so abandoned is a thesis, I’m sure.

All of this past Summer, I drove by the park renovations on my way home from work. The city has put a ton of attention into reworking the park, adding a dog park and some fountains, better lighting, underground parking, etc., etc…and then keeping a flood of activity there – concerts, movies, art events – and City Flea. This was our first foray to the remodeled park and frankly, the transformation wow’d me. On a Saturday night, it was packed and fun and the vendors were amazing!

Again, the camera exercise was just to get a feel for the camera, what it can do, how to handle it. Left the settings on auto-no-flash. Still felt like I was getting better product without using the auto-flash.

f/4.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-5000, 29mm, no flash

f/4.5, 1/40 sec, ISO-5000, 29mm, no flash

f/4.5, 1/13 sec, ISO-6400, 30mm, no flash

f/4.5, 1/13 sec, ISO-6400, 30mm, no flash

f/3.5, 1/32 sec, 18mm, ISO-4000, no flash

f/3.5, 1/32 sec, 18mm, ISO-4000, no flash

f/4, 1/30sec, ISO-1600, 25mm, no flash, from behind glass

f/4, 1/30sec, ISO-1600, 25mm, no flash, from behind glass

Taken from a skywalk over Redsfest 2012 and from behind a wall of glass.  Already posted this one to Twitter but wanted to share over here.

Picked up the husband & I some tickets to Redsfest to get us a little taste of baseball in the off-season.  As I let the decision-making of Friday night sink in, I decided this would be a good opportunity to test the new camera. My entire purpose was just to see what kind of clarity I had on the images and basically, just get a little practice handling the camera. I’m not used to having to be conscientious about how I pick up a camera or pulling a lense cap on & off. Just the weight of the thing and the way I need to hold it is a big change from the p&s’s I’ve always had prior.

Was extremely pleased with most of the auto-settings, with one exception and that was the flash. It wanted to be going off, and I thought the pictures looked better without it on. I’m not a big fan of using a flash so far. Thankfully my camera has an easy toggle on it where I can turn off the flash and leave everything else in auto mode.

Overarching lesson learned:

Anyone who sees you carrying a camera that’s bigger than theirs will automatically assume you can take better pictures than they can. With their camera.

Some other shots I liked:

Lots going on in the brain at the moment.

I bought a pear to go with my lunch.  I don’t eat pears very often.

It’s *that* kind of a day.

Strangely, when I buy a pear, I have this urge to smash it instead of eat it. Don’t know why, just do. Yet, I’ve never smashed a pear. It’s the only fruit I feel compelled to kill in quite that way.

The weekend seems like it went by in a blur of important decision making and social observations. Craaaaaazy! And peeps, sometimes I wish I knew what makes my brain work the way it does. I can mull a thing over indefinitely and then like someone threw a switch, snap to a decision in the blink of an eye like I’ve been certain of it all along .  What is it that turns pondering into NOW! decision-making, I just don’t know.

I’m being a bit opaque. Let me clear things up for ya.

Friday was a bad day. BAD. It was spent in a cubicle too – as if that isn’t bad enough. My BEIIIIGEEE cubicle -Grrrr. I strongly dislike beige. Spreadsheets. Red tape. Filibuster-like inefficiency. Beige. Lots of things that frustrate the bejeezus out of me. One of those days that make you ask yourself why in the heck you do what you do because who does it help and does it really help anyone really???? And maybe you stomp around for a few minutes thinking about how just because you’re really good at this analytical stuff doesn’t mean you actually like doing it all day 5-days-a-freakin-week. BAD day. And it was rainy and dark out and I had a long drive over to the East side of town to meet Eric for a yoga class/beer tasting we’d signed up for – “Asanas & Ales”.  All I wanted when I left work was my jammies – or a hatchett.  And yet, there was still more to do in my day. UGH.

Then I got to the yoga studio. 

Eric was waiting, in the rain, outside for me as he’d just pulled up too.  Nice. Then we stepped inside.

All of a sudden I felt SO MUCH BETTER. Not because I was done with work, or done with the long drive. It was a different kind of better. It was the kind of better where home just washes over you even though you’re a 30-minute drive away from it. I’ve always felt more comfortable in a gym than a cube.  And after a long day of cube, here I was in a gym/studio. AAAAAHHHH. Better. Happy. Home.

Wooden floors and open spaces are a kind of soul homecoming for me. The geography of them is irrelevant – gym, yoga studio, my house, a coffee house. Even better if there’s coffee brewing overlaying the smell of sawdust and sweat.

The next part came out of my mouth before my brain realized what I was doing – I asked Yogi Man if he still had the last opening left he’d mentioned in the newsletter. I hadn’t discussed it with Eric at all – or even mentioned it to Yogi Man in a long, long time. But here I was, asking about it. The weird part is that when my brain caught up, it confirmed the whole thing as being the right thing for me to do. I think it said something like ’bout damn time.’

The decision seems like a snap thing on the surface, but if you’d been in the background of it like Eric has, you’d know I’ve been mulling over doing yoga teacher training for YEARS – 5 or so, maybe? Since before my friend owned a yoga studio, so a few years at least.

Am I ever going to teach yoga? Do I have any idea how this is going to fit into bootcamp, and training for a half-marathon in March (or possibly a full marathon in May), and a full-time job? I have no clue. No freaking idea how any of this is going to work out. Beginning in January, every other weekend through June, I’ll be in the yoga studio learning every word that ever ended in ‘ana’, ‘asana’, ‘atha’, ‘athasanana’. I have been promised a discussion of corpse poses, which I am secretly hoping will aid in my zombie apocalypse survival skill set. I’ll be adventuring & bendy.

There will be quotes around this place! Meditational witticisms which I will print in italics! Take off your shoes and bend over! Prepare yourselves!

Somehow, in some way, I can feel the three elements of my training pulling me to combine them and that I need to answer that call even though I have no idea where it will lead. Physically, I’ve never been in a better place to answer joyfully back.

I  know that sometimes when you’re inspired you just have to jump into the muck of the idea and run around screaming – because if you don’t, you’re still going to run around screaming. Just not with any good reason. So that’s what I’m going to do ~ jump into peaceful, reasonable, creative screaming, and see where I land.

So, I’m not even going to bother telling you what trash I was watching. It’s bad, it’s embarrassingly 1994ish, and I watch way too much TV. True story. I like to have it on in the background while I’m doing nothing other things. This results in me watching a lot of crap – several times over as reruns are the easiest to ignore.

In this event, it was an inspirational episode of teen angst centered on creativity, individuality and censorship with a question that stuck out to me:

What are you writing today? Of course, there was some drama on the show with yesterday’s assignments being thrown out a window to move the plot along. Lucky me, I don’t have a plot to move along, because seriously, who’s going to pick up all that paper?

Nevertheless, the question struck a nerve. Mainly because, almost every single day, something I want to write about comes to mind. I love to write – have always loved to write.  But then I get busy. Or I think to myself, what does that have to do with a fitness blog? So I end up leaving it there, in the air, unwritten.  Or it comes out in this long data-dump of a post. Who has time for that? Either to read it or to write it.

But the question also struck a nerve because, and I mentioned this before, I’ve been in a flux with whether I wanted this blog to focus solely on fitness, or if I wanted to open it up to other things. I believe good health isn’t just about the gym – it’s about the balance that you find everywhere in your life and the choices you make about all the things. So doesn’t everything have a home here? But will people still be interested if I’m writing about my love of wool socks instead of my determination to gain more endurance at mountain climbers? This is a serious question for me.

And I think I’ve finally come to a decision I have peace with. I know, this is fascinating.

First off, I just bought myself my first really nice camera. No bells or whistles, but it whirrs and has multiple lenses and lots of buttons – and well, I haven’t gotten all the way through the manual yet so it could actually have bells & whistles. I don’t know.  Not that I’m a good photographer or have any aspiration of being a professional – but I want to know more about photography and work on being a good photographer.  I love good pictures. Part of being healthy for me right now is bringing out my creativity more – in pictures and in writing – and I want that definition of healthy to have a home in the blog world.

Also, I want to have a home for whatever I want to write to have a home in the blog world. Fiction. Non-fiction. Poetry. Whatevah. Some of that will belong over here and some of it won’t. It’s important to me that the poetry and fiction not get confused with things I write about my actual life.  Also, I can’t be worried about writing what people want to read – which has been a concern – I need to write what I want to write, even if that means I’m the only one looking at it. I’m grateful for the follows and the traffic that come to this site (THANK YOU!), but first & foremost, I have to want to come to this site.

So peace for me, means two blogs. This one and another one that has a more creative focus. Odds are I’ll start with some photos over here and then put more of them on a subject in the other blog – so that people who want to see more can do that, but it doesn’t get overwhelming on this one when I’m really into macro shots of bees. (It’s happened before.) All the creative writing will happen over there, and I’ll pick and choose the location of my ‘life’ writing based on where I think it belongs – odds are that most of it will end up here.

I’ve been in progress of setting up my creative space for a bit – started it and then sat on it.  I’ll make it public and link to it here when I’m ready to open it up.