Archive for July, 2013

While I may have failed to get the owner’s name, y’all know I’m kind of dog crazy.

Meet Lola.

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Though diminutive in size, she is big in the doggie wisdom.

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Lola’s Life Lesson #1: Get your chin scratched whenever you can.

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Hats off to my cohort in yoga crimes Erin

Just wanted to share a little thing with you as a side-note to my regular material. It has nothing to do with running or yoga or aikido. It’s just a little thing that I do. It puts me on the right track in my workday about as soon as I walk in the door – and well, if I can help people start their day a little easier, why not?

Around my day job, I’ve got a bit of a rep for efficiency.  Actually, that rep follows me pretty much everywhere. 

The husband used to call me ‘Queen of Prep’ because that’s romantic around the house because of the way I used to set up vegetables in our fridge*. Often times friends will call me with an idea or half-formulated plan and ask me to smooth it out for them.  If my boss could dissect me to try and figure out how the heck I get things done the way I do, I think he would.

If you want to know how to get something done well and done fast with minimal mess, I’m your girl. Some people got long legs, I got 5’3″ feet of efficiency powers.  (I can’t even come up with a good joke about this.)

Funny thing (to me)  is that the key to most of my efficiency is post-it notes, and my usage of them seems to be the thing least understood by a lot of my co-workers. They get the gist of a post-it, but they don’t understand why I show up to meetings with a blank pad of post-its rather than more official looking tablets and notebooks.  Every time I meet with my boss, I take post-it notes rather than a big notebook.

It’s easy to ignore notes once you close up a notebook. It’s less easy to ignore bright yellow or hot pink post-its that you stuck to your calendar or put in front of your nose on your monitor.

So first, I just make sure I have post-its and a pen with me. Then –

At the end of each day, I make a list on a post-it of everything I want to get done the next day. Doesn’t matter what it is – personal or professional.  Some things carry-over if I didn’t get them done. BUT – I do make sure that there’s one super-simple little thing on there – whether it’s writing an email, making a phone call – 1 SIMPLE THING EVERY DAY. That I can knock out and get done FIRST. Then I cross it off with a big sharpie.

Getting one simple little thing done as soon as I go into the office gives me a sense of accomplishment which carrys forward into the other things I need to complete.

I stick the ‘to-do’ post-it to my computer monitor as soon as I come in and it stays there all day – so it’s always in my peripheral when I’m starting to get distracted.  What I need to get done and what I have done are always right in front of me.

Also, I keep a running list on the top post-it of any question or topic that I need to talk to my boss about (assuming it’s not an emergency). When he swings by to say ‘hi’, I’m prepared for the conversation and not wishing I could remember the 5 things on which I need his opinion. Also, it keeps me from interrupting him with minor issues that I’m afraid I’ll forget. This list helps me get the most value out of our communication time.

You would think from the sound of it that I have post-its everywhere, but I don’t. One on the computer monitor that’s refreshed daily.  The pad of post-its on my desktop. Then two more stuck to a calendar which I use for something else.  (Another tip – I keep my desktop simple.)

So anyway, that’s one of my little tips and tricks that I thought I’d share because people are always asking me how I get so much stuff done. 

* When I got home from the grocery, I’d spend an hour or two washing and cutting up all the vegetables for the week, then putting them in little containers and lining them up in the fridge like little veggie soldiers in a salad army. I could have a kick-ass dinner salad put together in about 3 minutes on any given night.

** Also – post-it did not pay me for this.

For most of the teacher-training intensive, the weather had been kind enough to let us have the doors wide open –

letting in light and all the sounds of Main Street. Every day, and often on our break, I’d spy this lovely woman walking a tiny white dog.

Something about the both of them catching my eye.

Finally, as I was running around barefoot on the street in the sunshine right outside the door, she happened by again and I asked

if I could take her picture. She scooped up her dog, Lola immediately and put on a big smile.

Tell me she isn’t absolutely stunning – the silver streaks in her hair, the large bits of turquoise jewelry, the tattooed sleeves on both arms, my favorite shade of lavender.

And then we spoke – and she was just as amazing!

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It was my utter fail that I didn’t get her name, but I’m sure we’ll cross paths again so I can correct that.

I hope I am this lovely when I get further down my path.

Standing guard outside the cafe.

I want this in my living room.

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The colors, the complexities, the concept = SWOON!! LOVE IT!

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Once we get finished painting the house, Eric is probably going to have to talk me down (more than a few times) to keep me from getting some murally-type thing painted on the side of it. I will need a voice of reason. One of the things I love about Downtown Cincy are the little bits of mural art that pop out of buildings all over the place.

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More from Iris Book Café .

Loved the light in this place – and frankly, my nerd side just gets all drooly over shelves & shelves of books.

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Close-up of the stained glass. Or as close up as my short self could get.

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Spent the entirety of last week at a 6-day “Advanced Functional Anatomy Intensive” as part of my continued yoga teacher training.  I’ll write about some of that later. But a significant part of that training involved figuring out where – in a 1 block radius – could get me together a sandwich with the quickness since I had some logistical failures in packing my lunch and only small pockets of time to get food in mah belly.

A second part of training involved seeing how many worthwhile shots I could get off while same said sandwich was being made. Brought the camera with for 1 day’s search.

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Iris Book Café on Main.

The Salmon & Avocado sandwich = YUM!

I’ve had starting points on the brain, Peeps. The places where we begin.  Circling around, these thoughts are.

As I mentioned, I’ve been starting some things lately – starting distance running again, starting to learn aikido, starting to teach yoga. Beginnings of a different kind, each of them.  Beginning again something I have done before. Beginning something I have never done. Beginning a new role as teacher in a thing I have done for a long time.

Beginnings.

There is a banner that usually hangs in the downtown yoga studio that says “always keep to the beginner’s mind”. I love that banner. The more I think of that banner, and the more dreams I reach for, the more I love that banner. Then I think about that banner some more. It’s been taken down recently to create space for an art exhibit, but I still look to it’s space whenever I am there and consider my state of mind.

IMG_1708_edit A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of watching a friend of mine endure a rather grueling blackbelt test. One of the most difficult physical contests I have ever witnessed. As part of the proceedings, the sensei spoke about how the achievement of a blackbelt is not a completion of training, but rather, a beginning. A transition.

Then recently, I had an opportunity (which I took) to sub in as teacher for a Yoga for Beginners class.  I knew about this opportunity almost a month ahead of time and made it a point to go take that teacher’s class so I could see her approach, have familiarity with the progress of her students. After which I sat down to (over-) think it through –  what does a beginner need to know? what is most important? what do I want to share with them?  I let some friends know I was doing this class, as many have expressed wanting to check out my newbie teaching, and I got one response that kind of surprised me. A friend said she didn’t think she would be interested in a beginner class, she was too advanced. As soon as she said it, my knee-jerk thought – “I don’t think you understand what advanced means.”  I didn’t say that aloud, but the thought resounded with me.

What does it mean to be a beginner?

It used to be that when I would start a new thing – really didn’t matter what it was – I would prepare in advance. Do homework ahead of time. Make sure I had the practice in and every confidence that I knew the answers before I ever entered class. I felt well armed. I would spend my energy proving what I already knew and trying to fit the context of new information into the grid of knowledge I’d already created. Trust me when I say, that is an EXHAUSTING approach to being in the world. But still, each to their own and that is one way to do things.

Lately, when I begin a new thing, I’ve taken to trying to dump anything I might already know about it out of my head. Acknowledge for myself that there are some things I might know, but that I might find I don’t know anything at all once I really start to learn something. I let myself be dumb. It’s an interesting feeling to do that – thoughts leap up to you, pushing questions up to block the new learnings – trying to get you back inside the box of what you already know.  But I shush them down, tell them to listen. Hand reigns over to imagination. “Because I am stupid, I am free.” I let the information come to me instead of forcing myself upon it. Again, each to their own but I’ve found this way of doing things GLORIOUS. Relaxing even. And I think I am learning even better for it.

If that what it means to begin a thing, then what does it mean to be advanced?

To me, the same thing.  Maybe it’s my age speaking, but the longer I’m in the world, the more I come to realize that someone who is advanced knows they are always beginning – does not dismiss beginners. Each time you step to a yoga mat, take the first stride on a run, cross the threshold of the dojo – you’re at a beginning. Of that day. Of that task.  In application, when I come to the yoga mat as an experienced student taking a beginner’s class, I use that opportunity to begin all over again. Re-examine my form. Sometimes a simple movement – a beginner’s movement – can be made harder just by slowing it down – being more particular with details of the movement. Checking your stride. Dropping deeper into a lunge. Lowering a push-up more slowly to the floor and rising up again even more slowly. Or the opposite – speeding it up. If a beginner is doing 3 sun salutations, can you get in a 4th or even a 5th in the same amount of time?

To me, being advanced means FINDING A WAY TO PUSH YOUR OWN LIMIT no matter what the task at hand is. A beginner learns the sun salutations, but even the most advanced of students still practices them. A person who says – I’ve perfected sun salutations so I’m going to stop doing them –  is a fool.

Not really sure what my end thought is for this – probably because I’m focused on beginnings – so my first sentence has more of my focus than my last. But I am curious how others feel on the topic. What do  you think beginning/being advanced means? If you’re advanced at something, what would your approach to a beginner’s class be? Would you even bother with a beginner’s class?

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Atomic Number Ten

Update #1 – it really does take about 3 days to get the smell of Desitin off all yer parts. You needed to know that.  Really. You did.

Soooo much to remember about the long runs – and getting re-educated fast.

With generally neglecting this place while I got busy with being out in the world, I figure an update is overdue – and let me tell you – I have some VERY EXCITING THINGS to tell you. But I can’t tell you about them yet.  Nope. Not gonna. Made promises. Can’t.  These lips are SEALED. Until they aren’t sealed – when I’m just gonna blabberblabbityblab all over you.  But ’til then. Nada.

I know – I TOTALLY SUCK. But here’s what I can tell you –

The running thing – it’s been going pretty well. Like I said, up until last weekend’s long run, I was putting my time into developing my short run approach and hitting the trail at work regularly. Then the running groups came back from a short break and I decided to start going along. I have some long runs in my future. I haven’t picked a fall race yet, thought Indy is a contender, but fo sho I will be doing Run the Bluegrass again next year – which by the way, has a super cheap early registration ($60) weekend coming up next weekend – go check out their site! So I’ve started adding the distance back in  – and the hill repeats.  I gotta say – group did a 5 mile hit of hill repeats on Wednesday and I killed them! A little slower than I wanted – but they were the kind of hills that usually do me in and this time I powered through every. single. freaking. repeat. – a total of 9 of them.  Who’s a rock star? THIS GIRL!

 A closeup on the art of my beautiful friend Erin – http://wintersart.wordpress.com/

Also, I haven’t missed a week yet on doing my trail runs – except that I’ll probably miss this week due to some yoga stuff. Unless I can figure out how to get it done.  Which I still might. Seriously loving the trail runs right now!!!

You Do Yoga Cincinnati

You Do Yoga Cincinnati

I “officially” started teaching yoga at the beginning of July.  So far class attendance has been a little small – it’s a 5:30am class – did I say A. M.?, yes, I said A.M.  (I totally heard THE VERY FIRST BIRD of the day start up the other day it’s that freakin’ early) – that’s a little hard on growing a following, but these things take time to build. I have patience. Oodles & oodles of patience.  Frankly, the small class size has been nice while I get used to teaching and working out the kinks in my style. Smoothing my approach. Putting playlists together. Did I mention that I really like it? I like teaching. I like making people feel good about themselves and their bodies and moving in a good way.  (Also, kudos to the husband who has been getting up with me to go to my class!)

Of course the yoga studio is right next door to a bar

I also “officially” started my 500-hour teacher training for yoga! This girl – gettin’ more legit! More serious! More dedicated! I’ve been in an Anatomy & Physiology Intensive all this week that’s harder than my average work day.  But it’s okay. I’m kind of an A&P geek. I love knowing how a body works! Seriously athlete friends, if you have a chance to get your range of motion assessed – DO IT!! It is a seriously freeing experience. When people say things like “my body just doesn’t do that” – guess what? They’re usually right. Now I know the  science of why.  I’m also learning that Humbert’s Cherry Lime drink – which I discovered at a shop down the street from the yoga studio while on a break –  would be awesome with some muddled mint and vodka in it….that thought right there has me a bit preoccupied.

Started a new thing too. Aikido.  The dojo is a serious place. SERIOUS. In the way where I’ve come to understand that ‘aikido’ is Japanese for ‘buy more ice packs’. It’s a multi-art dojo, but when I’m there we mostly do aikido. Right now, everyone is being pretty easy on me because I’ve only been at it a month and am still learning how to fall decently, but I’ve managed to get more than one fugly bruise every week, jacked up my wrist practicing on my own and got my toe jammed with a nasty wince and cuss word. But I’m learning some really cool shit peeps! Aikido is freakin’ amazing!  I know there’s some weird juxta-positioning of yoga and aikido going on in someone’s mind – like, how can you practice martial arts and yoga – which is a peaceful practice – simultaneously? But if you have a good understanding of martial arts, then you understand that practicing something like aikido actually enhances a peaceful mindset – it doesn’t detract from it. It’s weird, but it’s very true. I found that with kickboxing too. Everyone always jokes that “I better not joke with you or you’ll kick my ass”, but honestly – that couldn’t be further from my state of mind most of the time. Some day I’ll make an effort to explain it, but that’s not today.

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Still working on the photo thing. I’ve gotten some pretty huge compliments too!  Mostly I’ve been doing some friend and family events which I can’t share here. The idea of putting photos up of someone’s kids/family on the internet weirds me out.  So not too much I can put up to show you – but one of my friends asked me if she could use a couple of my photos as gifts and that meant a LOT to me – that she thought that highly of the pics I took.  Been learning about the differences in resolution and getting prints made between a screen and print work. Learning more about editing.  Learning more about action photography – one of the events I shot was a friend’s blackbelt test in the dojo – that was some FAST movement!! So, upping my skill level whenever I have a chance.

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I was so busy shooting and editing those photos that I didn’t get to share these with you sooner. All the pics on this post are from what is called “Final Friday” – the last Friday of every month most of the vendors on Main Street and some surrounding streets stay open really late. It’s like a mini-street festival. These pics are from end of April. Since the Yoga studio is on Main St, they do an open house of sorts too – usually showcasing work for a local artist and doing “Acro Yoga” – which I think the pics pretty much explain. If I’m Downtown for Final Friday – this is usually where you’ll find me. (I’m behind the lens on these.) Oh, and by the way, Final Friday for July is tomorrow.

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Finally some time to write! Hello there!

This post is coming to you from my propped-up feet, which did 8-miles this morning. My long run for this week.

With my workout schedule getting a little wonky lately, I’m showing up for running group – any version of running group – where ever it fits in my schedule. This morning I fit in with the Full Marathon training group and they were doing 8-miles. Luckily, I’ve been around long enough now that I have friends in most of the training groups – so everyone thinks I belong where ever I show up. (Shhhh!)

Lately, I’ve been focused on getting my pace down in shorter distances and working on my weekly trail run. That means that I haven’t pushed over 5 miles in awhile.

A 5-mile to 8-mile jump in one day is pretty significant. Last time I did a 3-mile jump all at once, I was sore for most of a week.

Hmmm. What will I need to get 8-miles done Saturday morning and not die? A plan.

First, I will need to turn back time and not buy Reds tickets to the Friday night game. Past efforts I have made to time travel have been unsuccessful. I can not depend on this.

Then I should probably get out my dreaded water bottle/fuel belt. Dust it off. Stock it up with gels. Put water in the freezer. (I usually put 3″ of water in the bottom of the bottle & freeze it for hot days, then top it off with tap water before I leave the house.) Also, I should spend a minute being pouty and having a bad attitude about having to carry water. Next I should get over myself – hopefully without tripping.

BodyGlide. This sports bra has never seen a long run and it will be 85-degrees before you start. BodyGlide like you have never bodyglided before.

And wear a hat.

This was my plan.

The alternate title for this post was “Wherein Irish Spring on Chaf-y Bits is a Medieval Torture Method still used in Modern Day Ohio”. Followed by an idea for a more curious alternate post title: “What happens when you forget that a little bit of Desitin goes further than you think”. But this isn’t a mommy-blog.

Peeps. I forgot how long runs work.

I did good with the water and gels. I was all proud that I remembered to put a Band-Aid over the stupidity-blister I got on the bottom of my foot from trail running without socks on earlier in the week. Remembered the hat. Remembered the iPod – though I lost a #yurbud earpiece right before my run started. That was inconvenient. I even caught up with and passed two different groups from a half-mile lead they had when I stopped to look for my earbud. Remembered my Garmin. I even saw a deer right as I was leaving – which has become like a good luck thing from the trail running. The deer wished me luck peeps!

Things were going so well that when I had an option to drop to 6-miles, I decided to stick with the 8-mile distance. I laid in a strategy that I would push myself through to mile 5, then reset my watch and take a 3:1 approach for the end of the run – give my joints time to adapt to the extra distance less violently and head off a potential bonk from the heat. Even that was going really well.  But peeps…

Peeps.

I did not Bodyglide like I have never Bodyglided before.

There is badness in my world.

And Desitin (diaper cream) – which I keep on hand just for such rare occurrences – well, a LITTLE LITTLE bit goes a LONG LONG WAY. I forgot about that too. Now I remember. I also remember that once you get that much plastered about, it DOES NOT COME OFF EASY. I think it will still be on my…hands…3-days from now just from having touched the stuff.

Fail. 8 miles done, but still a fail.

So, here in Cincy, we have a lot of water. There’s that big Ohio River thing which forms our state’s Southern border. Everyone knows about that.

But besides that, we have a whole lot of lakes and reservoirs, and tributaries. Water, water, everywhere. What’s my point?

My point is that really, this is all just a buildup (not really a buildup) for me telling you that Eric has caught the canoeing bug in a BIG way lately.

Now, we both enjoy canoeing and together. we’re pretty good with the paddling.  But Eric, he’s got CANOE FEVER. And it’s only getting worse – probably because we realized a bit ago that we both enjoy kayaking more than canoeing, so every time we go canoeing it’s leaving an unsated hunger for kayaking (in both of us) that creates a feedback loop with the needing to canoe because right now we have access to a canoe, but not kayaks.  See the problem?

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I am also fairly certain that the Enthusiasm Vacation Fatigue Slide (which is a made up thing that I just made up but should totally catch on) is involved in here somewhere. Kayaking was a vacation thing.

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Which explains why every time I clean the bathroom, I think about how I really need to hire some housekeeping I need a vacation.

I digress. Also, I suck at Paint. It’s part of my charm.

So anyway, there was this morning last weekend where Eric woke up and was all LET’S GO KAYAKING CANOEING!! And my mouth said Sure! but my eyes…my eyes…

My eyes said “Are you fucking kidding me? You were up when I came home from girl’s night, right? Also, you’re doing all the paddling”. Then I went to get dressed.

Which was the same time that Eric’s friend responded to a text to say he’d take my place in the canoe. Because there’s a god the universe knows 6am is not a good time to wake up your hung over wife on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately she was already up. And I’m one of those people, that even at 6am, once I’m up – I’m up. This was about the time that Eric started explaining to me where they were putting in and pulling out – the canoe – and the conversation took an interesting turn. You see, they were going to canoe a waterway that runs parallel to a well-known running trail.

I needed to get a run in.  Then I needed to get dressed all over again, because what you wear to kayak canoe in is not at all what you would wear to run in. Usually. Unless it’s a themed run.  And so it was decided that I was going to ride along on the canoe trip to drop off the boat, find the trail that runs parallel to the water, and essentially run alongside their canoe for 5 miles.

Which honestly, worked out rather lovely. The Milford/Terrace Park section of the Little Miami Trail is nicely shaded, VERY FLAT, paved and populated by other athletes riding and running. The water alongside peeks out between trees here and there, as do some nice properties. Right at the 5k marker, I came up on the Avoca Trailhead – which I’ve run through before – and in its most glorious gloriousness, it has restrooms and a water fountain. Runner Nirvana! I took a risk in not carrying water on a very warm day based on the notion that I would be passing through that trailhead as a water stop.

It was at Avoca that I ran into The Two Bikers. Not sure exactly what about me it was that worried one of them (okay – in the interest of being honest, I was running hung over. That’s just not a pretty look.) , but let’s just say – he took a bit of concern over the fact that I wasn’t carrying a water bottle on my run. A mini-interrogation started. Where was I coming from? How far was I going? Was I worried about not having a water bottle? I know I’m making them sound a little stalker-y, but really, I think they were just being nice and concerned. And neither of them asked how long it would take for me to be reported missing, so I felt like we were new friends.  The one that did most of the talking finished the conversation by offering to give me his water bottle (he had a Gatorade too).

What? He offered me his water bottle? Yes! He offered to give me his water bottle! HOW SWEET IS THAT?! Is this a secret of the cycling tribe – that they give away water to strangers? I am unfamiliar with this phenomena.

As seasoned as I am on this whole athlete thing – I think I’ve only had someone offer me a chug off their water bottle once or twice – same in turn. I can count a handful of times on hot Summer runs that I’ve offered someone a draw on my supplies.  With runners, it’s kind of an unwritten rule that you carry what you need – and usually, not enough to share unless there’s a desperate circumstance. We gotta keep our gear light. But dude was offering me an entire bottle of his water (and it was an expensive brand too)! I just thought that was really nice – though I turned him down. I had a cooler waiting on me at the meetup and not much further to go.

In fact, I had less to go that I thought – I got to Bass Island at around 4.2 miles and then did some extra mileage to get to 5 miles before settling in to alternate stretches and a push-up progression while I waited on the boys. Who I beat by a fair 30 minutes.  Then I volunteered to walk the dog around another mile or so while they ran up and switched cars to lash the canoe up. Piece of advice: If you want to keep friends that will get up at ohcrapearly to save your hung over ass from canoeing with your husband, you do not put your stinky, river-mud coated shed-master dog in their car. Instead, you walk the dog around in circles til your husband gets back with his car. Even if you’re tired and hung over – you walk in circles for as long as it takes.  These are friends you should keep.

So all in all -by embracing a little creativity, the whole thing was made a win-win situation what with the husband getting the canoeing and me getting the not-canoeing on a hangover getting my run in. Which we made even more winning by heading out for a late breakfast. A thing we all agreed on.