Sunday, December 30, 2012

Closest to Heaven

Right now I'm the closest to heaven I've been in quite awhile.  It's dusk, and the place where I'm staying is quiet.  I've traveled here with four kids ages 12-17, and while it's been great fun playing with them, I'm enjoying the serenity while they are all downstairs at the pool.  As I sip a cup of dark coffee,  the sun is slowly sinking towards the sea.  The ocean is gently kissing the beach, and the sound is quite soothing.  This is my view from the balcony.

I have rather different ideas of the metaphorical heaven.  Today it is the beach.  Another day it might be the noisy streets of New York or Chicago.  It is also in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.  Winter or summer, there are different elements of all three that appeal to me in every season.  My complete idea of heaven is to have the means to travel to all three at different times of the year to write.  I am chasing that dream, one day and one baby step at a time.

Earlier this afternoon I took some time and ran on the beach.   One of my favorite things to do.  No music and no GPS watch on my wrist to distract me from the beauty of my surroundings.   The sun was  bright in a crystal clear blue sky, and there was only a gentle breeze in the cool afternoon air.  I left my worries, my cares and stress behind and just ran.  I had no distance in mind, I only wanted to feel the sun on my face.  Perfect beauty on a perfect day.  It was just what I needed.  I lost myself in the run and my thoughts and it was the first time in a long time that I felt powerful.  I'm fairly certain I ran pretty far. I am certain that I smiled the entire time.

I am so grateful to have discovered what outlets work in my life.  Stress, sadness and pain will come.  It's just the nature of life.  But I am at peace, as I know I'm strong enough to handle what comes down the pike.  Today I can let myself feel.  Feel the negative emotions and embrace the happy ones.   My outlets, be it cycling, running, swimming.....whatever... allow me to release these feelings, then give them up and turn it over.  Move on.

Life is beautiful.   Life is a gift.   Today I am immersing myself in the beauty of the beach and my heaven of the moment.  And at this moment I am happy.

Kids are back....and the quiet is now filled with joyful laughter.   I will say bye for now.  More tomorrow.  I am serene today, probably back to silly then.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Funny How Things Turn Out

I feel compelled to do a brief followup to my post last night.  In conclusion...

I have to hand it to the local weather forecasters....we did indeed have a blizzard!   Luckily I was fully stocked in the battery department.  Ha. Ha.   This "wait and see" gal waited, and boy did I see!  It snowed, and it snowed hard.  I stand corrected.

My beloved bike.  Guess where it is?   You's at the bike shop.  I talked the big talk about hailing from the Pocono mountains, but I chickened out and hibernated while the white stuff was blown about by 40mph winds outside.  I'm just being honest.  Not to worry, I have another bike that will make the trip.  It's all good in the snowy hood.  It turned into a really nice day being shut in with the kids.  I packed, finished every stitch of laundry, worked at my desk, rode my back up bike on the trainer, cleaned out the fridge and came up with a rather smashing dinner at the same time.  Multi-tasking at it's best.  Lessons learned?  Plan ahead.   Pick needed items up the day before it snows.  Listen to the Weatherman.  He or she just might know what they're talking about.

Since I was blessed with an entire day to pack, I made it fun.  I tried on outfits, and actually packed much less than I usually do.  Just don't ask how many pairs of shoes I'm bringing (keeping in mind that I will be training and hitting the beach as well as the nightlife while I'm there).  Mmmm Hmmm.

To further spark my enthusiasm at the onset of 2013, I officially registered today for The Oread IRONMAN 70.3 Kansas!  June 9 in Lawrence,  Kansas.  Let the training begin!  (In which case, it is a blessing that I'm bringing my triathlon bike with me this week).  It's funny how things work out.

I'm all set.  I am not going to complain one iota about the 11 hour car trip.  I'll have four kids and a rockin' playlist to entertain me.  And the destination will make the travel time well worth it I'm certain.

So I will admit it.  I was wrong, and frankly a little bit arrogant in my post last night.  I actually don't mind being wrong.  In fact, it amuses me (because it hardly ever happens....ha!  It happens all the time.)  Being in the wrong actually reins me in.  A little dose of humility can do wonders.

I promise to keep humility in mind when writing my next post.  I find it refreshing that I'm learning to laugh at myself.  It's never too late to start over, right?

See you soon!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fashion, Christmas Joy and My Bike (Obsessions)

Merry Christmas to you!  I love this time of year and there is a rumor that a white Christmas will continue in the Mid West, as there is snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow.  Snow. Truth be told everyone who's anyone is throwing the word "blizzard" around.  It's only a weather forecast people.   But they theorize it is practically a guarantee,  that is if you typically put stock into what the Weatherman says.  The locals are panicking.  I'm a "wait and see" kind of girl.  A positive thinker's M.O.   I gave a little snicker as the newscaster on Channel 13 advised us to make sure we are stocked up on batteries.  (There are more precious items to stock up on if you ask me!)   Being from the East Coast, snow doesn't faze me very much.   I grew up in the Pocono Mountains before moving to Maryland as a teen.   Lots of snow in the Poconos.  Just giving you a little peek into my childhood. 

The only thing I'm panicking about right now is the concern that the bike shop won't be open tomorrow if there is indeed a"blizzard".   My hope is to pick my bike up in order to bring it with me on my impending trip to the warm, sunny Gulf shore of the southern U.S. (Can't get it Thursday, because we are leaving at 7:00am sharp! according to the powers that be).   Yikes.  I have not even been able to pack.  I'm normally packed a day or two before a trip, as I have to make sure I have the right shoes, outfits, etc. ready to roll.   But the opportunity to ride long distance outside all week is just too good,  and I can't possibly focus on packing until my bike is in my possession.  I know, slightly obsessed.  We triathletes tend to be that way.  So my fingers are crossed and I'm trying not to check and re-check the weather.  So much for the "wait and see" approach.

This holiday season has been wonderful.  I hope yours was very special as well.   At the end of last week I had to hit the"pause" button.   In doing so, I was able to accept things as they are in my life right now, let go of trying to change what I can't control and find my serenity.  Honestly, it's just how I have to be at this moment in time.

Well, I've touched on the "blizzard", mentioned a little about fashion and discussed my bike (obsession).  Now a bit more on fashion and Christmas joy.  Christmas Eve has always been my favorite part of the holiday.  Getting dressed up, which I don't get to practice very often, is so much fun for me.  As you know I live in either workout clothes or jeans and a t-shirt, but I attempt to inject style into the equation whenever I can.  I've been playing around with fashion, and last night I indulged.  Seven jeans, red pointy-toe high heeled pumps, a statement necklace and a Jil Sander gabardine coat.  Christmas and fashion bring out the child in me.   Giving in to my inner child makes me happy.  And isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Joy and happiness?  That and a certain special birthday celebration of course.

Fashionista in Suburbia, that's me.

More Christmas joy....the upcoming vacation.  Precious time with the peeps.  Each of my children is bringing a friend, and it's going to be a blast!   My kids are so much fun and I love the ages they are now.  12 and 16.  We can have serious conversations, and then turn around and be silly and full of laughter.  More inner child play time!   I'm so excited to feel the sun on my face and to wiggle my toes in the sand.  The beautyof the ocean, the long bike rides, endless runs on the beach, and lots of time to read.  (I will be working while I'm gone....the beauty of modern technology....but it will be in a peaceful place.)  Maybe I'll finish that book I've been working on?

We are on the cusp of a new year.    I'm ready to put 2012 in the record books, and am excited to be perched on the starting line of 2013!  My plan is to make it the best year yet!!

Talk soon!
Peace Out,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I don't know if you've noticed, but I tend to get bored easily.  Even when I'm at home, I always have to keep myself busy.  I'm not sure why this is, but it's only come about in recent years.  Perhaps it's my subconscious trying to keep me out of trouble.  OCD setting in?  Who knows.  But it works for me.  I always like to have 2 or 3 pots on the fire at once.  Idle hands are the devil's workshop, after all.

Right now I'm in the beginning stages of transferring my intentions from the lazy, off-season mentality I've been engaging in for the last few months to my pre-season healthy training mentality.  Sugar, wheat, etc. had been a staple in my diet since Thanksgiving.  As such, the jeans were getting tighter, I avoided the scale and (this is completely insane) cut back on my workouts.   Sure Michelle, that makes perfect sense.  Jeans are tighter, why not cut back on working out?!!!!  But it's so easy to fall into that pattern.  No more.  I'm trusting you all to keep me accountable.  Unless the jeans are saggy, feel free to say "Michelle....aren't you supposed to be staying away from the cookies and hitting the gym?!"  Oh, but you're much too nice for that!

Honesty is the best policy.

So I'm telling on myself.  You're hearing it here.  I've been a bad girl!  This came to light when starting an 8 week women's cycling development course.  Weekly weigh-ins.  Every girl's nightmare.  But I'm looking at it as a positive's another way for me to hold myself accountable.  I know the number on the scale will ease back down, and hopefully go further down than I have planned.  Lean means fast.  And for 2013 I aim to be just!

So this means getting serious.   I know what needs to be done, now it's just a matter of doing it and sticking to it.  Let's put the lard ass in the rear view.  I'm goal-oriented, so this shouldn't be a problem.  As of today I am on day 5.  There was a minor set back yesterday with a mini corn muffin, but in my defense it was gluten free!  Today has been a great day.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.  If I forget...just ask.

As an added challenge, you'll note that this transference of mental power is starting just before the holidays and a holiday trip.  I never shy away from a challenge.  Got a new coach, a plan, a positive attitude and time on my side.  This year I'm going to use my time wisely, train as I'm told and stick to a solid nutrition plan.

Now hopefully I'll be able to keep injuries at bay (knock on the proverbial wood), and we'll be in top shape.    Let's do this!!

Peace, out

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hipster International

Oh what to write about?   It's Monday afternoon, I have finished "real writing" for the day, and now I want to write for laughs.  (Not that I don't enjoy writing for work of course!!!)  There is so much sadness and terror in the world, you're probably wondering what I could find to laugh about.  Trust me....there is always something.  Laughter is the best medicine.

Tragedy surrounds us, and the recent tragedy in Connecticut goes beyond comprehension.  As helpless as I feel, all I can do from my end of the world is pray for peace and comfort.  I can hold my children tightly in my embrace and I am grateful for that.  Not going to let the sick people in the world affect me today.

To bring laughter to light, I think I'll talk about my weekend.  It had it's ups and downs, but for the most part it was a crazy, busy, fun weekend.  Full of laughter and fun with very good friends.  It was also filled with music.

As I've said in the past, when I'm asked what my favorite things are, music tops the list every time.  There is just something wonderful about music that brings me to life.  It can soothe me, inspire me, pick me up, boost my mood, and ground me all at once.  Music can spark a memory.  Music can affect my very core.  I was struggling with balance last week, and Saturday morning I was reminded by a friend that the best way to find balance in life is to live in the moment.  One day at a time.  A simple and sound reminder that I really needed.  It's funny to me that when I ask, the answer almost always finds it's way to me!!

I listened to a playlist on Spotify Saturday night while getting dressed for a party,  Hipster International.  It was a blend of alternative upbeat tunes that got me dancing before I even left the house.   Instant good mood.

What a blast the evening was!  I needed a good dose of laughter and dancing with friends.  It was an evening of joy with my favorite people.  After my husband's corporate party, we seperated and I met a group of my fellow athletes and training pals at a place on the other side of town.  I knew there was going to be dancing, merriment and a band that was rumored to be "awesome".  My Yellow Rickshaw was the name of the band, and they ROCKED!  Probably the best performance I've seen in a long while.  I had permasmile all evening (I know that's not a real word, but it is fitting so I'm leaving it in!)  I'm considering becoming a groupie.  I think I've got quite a contingent to join me.  Interested?!

All the serious stuff just melted away as we grooved (I even worked up a sweat!) on the small dancefloor.  Good stuff.  Groovy baby (dude, I'm trying to bring it back...groovy)!

It was a really fun night all around.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday was family day and one of our Christmas celebrations.

So it's a rainy Monday, and my mood is still light.   Even lighter after writing about it.  It's the last week before Christmas!  Hard to believe 2012 is almost over.  It's OK....I'm optimistic about the start of 2013.  I think it's going to be the best year yet!

Peace.  Out.

Friday, December 14, 2012


What I'm struggling with today?  Balance.  New roads in my life mixed with roads well traveled ....trying to make sense of it all.   Not wanting to lose myself or my vision in the process.   Dreaming big dreams, working hard to obtain them.  New path, new challenges.  Baby steps on the road to happy destiny.

Dreams are simply goals waiting to be set.  The power lies within.

Today I am empowering myself to find balance....peace....happiness.  Dream....into reality.

Short, but sweet.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas

It's Christmas time.  A time filled with memories, traditions and good cheer.  It always brings out the child in me.  My thoughts are filled with giving and entertaining.  Like most of us, I have a long list of what I would like from Santa.  Things that I deem wonderful and that I project will make me happy.  Most of the items are triathlon related.  I am in the beginning stages of training for 2013, as are my triathlon buddies so it's forefront on my mind.  I am dreaming all things triathlon.  And of a white Christmas!

My list consists of a new bike (hey, it's worth a try), new cycling shoes, new triathlon clothes and stocking stuffer goodies.   Not very girly items (although the cycling shoes I'm lusting after are pink).  It's funny, because I used to long for shoes, lingerie, purses, jewelry and the like.   (Truth be told I do still love all of that as well, but my priorities have shifted.)

But it's all material.  Stuff.  Items that are fantastic, don't get me wrong, but none of which would insure my ultimate happiness.

When it comes right down to it, the only gift I really want for Christmas comes from within.  I have been letting fear hold me back for so long, I'm finding it really hard to lose those shackles.  I'm taking it one step at a time and am making progress.  But sometimes I seem to back pedal.

Maybe it's the holiday season.  Could be the weather.  It could be the recent occurrences in my life which I'm procrastinating writing about (yet continue to elude to).  Sorry about that by the way.  I'm just not there yet.  Or it could just be the simple fact that I am again reminded that I am not exactly where I want to be in life.  I am also reminded that my intended purpose in writing this blog is to grow.  To share that growth with you, because saying it out loud sometimes makes all the difference.  Sharing what's going on with me out loud means I'm not holding it inside.  Honestly, I really believe that's what has held me back and kept me stagnant.  Keeping things inside out of fear, and holding on to them.  Not facing them and letting go.   Furthermore, not moving forward.

So, that being said what do I really want for Christmas?  Strength and courage.  Peace within me, the peace that comes from knowing I am human and I will make mistakes but also in knowing that I can learn from them.  Having the courage to take risks.  To not be a doormat.   To ask for what I need.  To not let it set me back if things don't go my way, or according to a plan.  To be flexible.  To not be afraid.  To move forward with grace.  To be patient.  All of this is attainable, and really it's all up to me.   I can only ask for willingness.

In saying this, I see there is value to being where I am right now.  On the fringe of discovery.  There is power in knowing my weaknesses and also in knowing that I really do have the courage to face them.  I'm not running today.  Not backwards anyway, but poised as I set my mark on the future.

As usual I've learned a great deal by opening up and writing this out.  Instead of writing a material list.  And it feels good.  Material possessions, especially new fancy (faster) ones, are very fun and we know that we all want them.  They do bring something to the table.  They can bring joy.

But ultimately, happiness doesn't come from stuff.  It's so much deeper than that.

I hope the next few weeks of 2012 bring you happiness!  It's a great time of year to focus on what we are grateful for.  And I really am so grateful.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Rainy Day in Carmel

Hello!  Happy Friday!  I love rainy days.   It is the perfect time to take a nap, to read a book or go for a run.  The kind of day when being at work doesn't seem so bad.   Rainy days are excellent days to write, as it is so quiet and peaceful.    Today is one of those days.    I come to you from my little corner office, where my desk sits next to a window.  Each time a car passes I hear the lovely spray of water from beneath its tires.  It's such a playful, soothing sound.  Some of the rain drops have remained on the window screen  and have formed tiny shimmering polka dots.  Beauty and serenity can find me even when the clouds are gray.  (Have you ever noticed how beautiful clouds are?)

My day started when the alarm sounded at 5:00am.   I had made the decision to start getting up early to be more productive.  I purposely placed my iPhone across the room so that I wouldn't hit "snooze" 10 times, as I've habitually done for the last couple of weeks.  This is one of several bad habits I'm determined to break.   I tend to write late at night, and lose track of time.  Then I sleep later than I should the next morning.  Last night I kept track and turned off the lights at 10:30pm, a good 3 hours earlier than the previous evening (or rather morning).  Didn't even watch Chelsea Lately.   I grumbled when the alarm went off, as it interrupted a rather awesome dream (the nerve!) and I pulled the blankets over my head.  The alarm kept on sounding.  Dammit!   I had no choice but to get out of bed.  This is what most "normal" people do I reminded myself as I got up.  I's said that successful people complete more before 8:00am than most regular people do all day.  Ok, Ok.  I get it.   Who doesn't want success?  I resisted the urge to climb back into bed for "5 more minutes" of slumber, and got dressed.  I had a date with my bike, the computrainer and a beat down at the gym.

I opened the garage and when I felt the cold and saw the rain coming down, I initially thought "oh no....great.  Today's not looking so good."  But then I stopped myself and reset my intentions.  I said (yes out loud, I talk to myself remember?) "today is going to be a great day."  A smile came to my face, and I felt the psychic shift in my attitude.  Psychical, not psycho thank you very much.  Although, I do talk to myself......hmm.

By 7:30 am, the workout was finished and I headed home to get ready for the rest of the busy day.  I didn't even need coffee, as I had abounding energy from the exercise and those wonderful endorphins.  I love endorphins.

And the day has been great!  I remembered how much I love the feel of the soft rain on my face, and how my hair gets curly when it's humid.  I wore my cute rain boots, which resemble motorcycle boots with a bright pink zipper from my ankle up the back my calf.  I actually jumped in puddles after I left a meeting this morning with my boss, a.k.a.editor, a.k.a. friend, who went over the details of a new writing gig he assigned me.  (We also had an interesting discussion about the WWF.  Who knew!?  I learn something new every day...ha ha).  Just have to keep an open mind.

Which brings me to now...present time 5:45pm.  The sun has set and it's dark.  I think I just might be onto something with the idea of getting up early.  It's been a very positive and productive day.  It also marks the beginning of the weekend, which is always a plus!

So we will see how I do.  Might even move the iPhone into the bathroom so I'm even less tempted to get back into bed on Monday.  I'll keep you posted.

Happy weekend y'all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bring it in Baby

When I walked through the doors of The Cycle Studio this morning,  my heart lifted.  I had been feeling a little blue recently due to some life events, and the cold weather settling in.   I had finally resigned myself to the fact that there would be no more regular outdoor cycling, unless there is a break in the cold (as this past Saturday).    I'm stubborn (in case you haven't noticed) and extended it for as long as I could.  Today, when I walked into the studio I was reminded how much fun, and how powerful indoor training could be.

So I'm bringing it in, baby.  The tri bike is on the trainer.  (I will say that my road bike is tuned up and ready for the occasional break in the weather, and for my winter vacation to the sunny south!)    There is healing power in a positive attitude.

I have to say, there is nothing better than being in a group of dedicated athletes, sweating and working hard, with a common goal:  go faster and get stronger.  This can't help but lift my spirits.

The Cycle Studio brings these individuals together, and I have to give a shout out to my friend Shea, who runs the place.  She is an amazing athlete who is an inspiration to all of us.   In walking through the doors, I was filled with gratitude.  Nothing better than a beat down to chase away the blues!

It's BYOB (bring your own bike), and the training is done on a computrainer system.  In a sense, you are competing with the seven other triathletes in the room.  Everyone's stats are viewed on a big screen directly over the cycling area.  It's very cool.   One day I might ride Ironman Switzerland and the next day Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI.  And it's all set to kick ass music!  You just can't get that when you're riding outside freezing your ass off.  Another plus.

Today also marked the start of a winter training group that Shea asked me to be a part of.   Eight women, all triathletes, with Shea as our instructor.   Today was the orientation, and I have to say, it's going to be fantastic!  We all know each other, and we are all cut from the same (dare I say crazy?) cloth.   We talked about goals, and upcoming races, as well as the details of our specific group training.  Then we worked out!  (My favorite pastime).    We ended with a 3 minute plank position hold (timed) as a group.  Just to show what we're made of!  Bunch of tough ladies.

Did I mention that we weigh in every week?!  Yippee!

I will just have to remind myself, common goal:  lighter, faster, stronger.

I left feeling recharged and ready for the winter training season.  It might be frigid outside, but it's going to be HOT in the studio!!

Off to the pool, then for a run in the rain.  See you soon!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Keeping it Real..Riding with the Boys

Yo, Yo, Yo!!  Or Ho-Ho-Ho, as today is December 2.  'Tis the season!

It has been awhile!  I hope you've been well.  I've been a bit "off" the last week.  Life has been happening, and with gusto (you know, when you least expect it, expect it?)   It was all giving me a case of the blues.   But it's typical.  Things are going great, then suddenly a bump in the road flattens one of your tires.  Hello!  As such, I have been working on several posts, a couple of which a word...deep.

I think I'll save the deep subjects for another day.   The timing doesn't feel right today, or perhaps I am not to the point of having it all sorted out.  It's all good.   I'll keep this post light.  I'm in a very happy place today so this should be a breeze.

Yesterday was the first of December.  I spent a good part of the day doing what I love, riding my bike.    The email came out Friday, announcing a Saturday morning group ride.  I was overjoyed, as it had been several weeks since I had ridden with a group.  And with the way things have been, the timing couldn't have been better.  Therapy on two wheels never fails.    I awoke Saturday morning, and the weather was fabulous!  A high of 65 degrees with mostly sunny skies was predicted.  I went for my run, then loaded up the bike and my gear and headed out to meet everyone.    The group was comprised of the amazing cyclists that I ride with every Wednesday night during the summer (although we were missing a few), and we planned to ride the same route.  My good friend and coach, Catherine, also came along for the ride.    So it was me, Catherine and the guys (which is cool, because riding with the boys rocks!)  The ride renewed my spirits.  The sunshine, the speed, my favorite course...all added to the perfection of the ride.  What was most wonderful, was that all of this was unexpected.  It was December after all, and typically the weather is not conducive to cycling outdoors.  In a matter of hours, my slight case of the blues was uplifted to joy.

The ride consisted of all the elements that make for a perfect ride:  dizzying speeds of the pace line, hill climbs, and racing around a 6 mile loop of the state park.   Then repeat it in reverse.  30 miles total covered, 2 hours worth of fun and 1,700 calories torched.  There was never a shortage of adrenaline and during brief and rare slow points, great conversation.  I learn something new about my sport every time.  Which makes me stronger!!  Mentally and physically.

We all find peace and serenity amid the chaos of our lives in different ways.  For me, my peace and serenity come during exercise.   Specifically swimming, biking and running.    I can seemingly escape reality for a little while, but not really flee.  I am simply changing my environment.  Instead of keeping things bottled up, I can process them while peacefully swimming in a pool, or feeling the wind gently caress my face on a ride, or listening to the soft footfalls on a run.   So in effect, I'm not really escaping but am living and healing through my actions.

The challenge for many of us is to find the channel to peace and serenity that works for us.  I hope you find yours.

As I bring this to a close, and relive the ride in my mind, I'm smiling.  As I look around my office, I am enjoying the Christmas decorations which surround me.   There's something about white twinkling lights that gives me a sense of calm.  It's bed time, and I will go to sleep tonight with a happy heart.  Everything else can be tackled in the morning.

Peace, out.  xoxoxo

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ah....Thanksgiving...Gluttony Much?

I think it's time for a little my own expense.  I am writing from my chaise lounge in my office (sounds elegant, but it really isn't.  Truth is I have to sit upright with my feet propped up so I don't fall asleep/pass out from L-tryptopan overload.)    It's 10pm Thanksgiving night, and I'm probably in the company of many of you who are FULL right now.  F-U-L-L.  In all caps.  I'm talking unbutton the top button of your jeans full.  The "I can't believe I ate that much food" kind of full.  Guilty as charged. Will these jeans even come off?!

I kept catching myself grazing.  Little bite here, taste know what I'm talking about.  I was up at 6am and worked my butt off in the kitchen all day.  I made a good choice and took a mid-day break to go for a long, fast bike ride (which made me feel a little better about the major grazing that went down.)  I don't usually cook elaborate meals, and our family dinners are rare (sad, but true).   Our evenings are typically taken up by some kind of sports activity.   Mine or theirs.   I don't know whether I'm coming or going sometimes.  Crazy.  Anyway, back to the food.  There was a lot of it.  And it was all good (because I made it!)  lol.  (Yes, it's my blog and I can say LOL if I want to!)

Can you tell I'm feeling feisty?  I'm hoping that my feistiness will trick my metabolism into full calorie burning mode.  Ideally all of the calories I consumed today will be "poof" gone overnight.  Wouldn't that be awesome?  Here's to hope...

I will say that I took a healthy angle in my cooking.   I prepared a lot of clean vegetable dishes.  The stuffing (from scratch) was made with homemade corn bread, with cranberries and organic herbs from the garden.   Potatoes were simply baked sweet potatoes.  Now, my Mom did bring her famous mashed potato casserole, which is rumored to be in the "not healthy angle" category.  I didn't let myself touch it.  I promise.  Really!   So the family was able to indulge in some comfort (a.k.a. real food).  And since my blog is about honesty, I will admit I strayed when it came to portion control.  Oopsy, sorry coach.  And I did have a piece of pie.  (I promised her I wouldn't).  Oopsy again!  Honesty is the best policy!

Everyone had a relaxing, fun time.  The weather had been beautiful all day, sunny and in the mid-60's.  There was laughter, story telling and happiness.   This made all of the time spent in the kitchen, and the several hours and 3 dishwasher runs that followed dinner, well worth it.

There is some sadness in my life now (more about this soon), but I have to stay in gratitude.  I really do have a lot to be grateful for.  Being in gratitude, as I've said before, is the name of the game today.  It makes anything tolerable.

I am slightly less "stuffed" (couldn't resist the pun) than when I started writing, so this is good.  I am grateful that I am fortunate enough to have enough food at my disposal to obtain that feeling.

I'll be right back into healthy, clean eating tomorrow.  Tomorrow also marks the beginning of my 30 day challenge:  run every day, go wheat free and dairy free.  So if you see me eating a grilled cheese sandwich, you have my permission to remove it from my hands!

Tomorrow is a swim and run day.  I just hope I don't waddle when I step onto the pool deck. (Inserting another LOL here)  I know one's going to be one hell of a good swim.  Followed by one hell of a good run!  Speaking of which, I'm off to make a new playlist to inspire me on my hella good run tomorrow.  See you soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you are as content in your fullness as I am.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Love with the Big City

I am truly in love with the city.    We have had a long, torrid  flirtation.  A relationship that will only reach it's climax when my address falls within it's limits.  In the meantime, we are just dancing.  But I love everything about it.  The people, the culture, the food, the sounds, the architecture, the hustle and bustle.  I'll be honest, I love the element of danger.  It's exciting.  When I am in the city it's as if life is surging around me.  And within me.  I'm in the cyclone's spell.  I feel alive.  As is my love for a man difficult to put into words, so is my love for the city.

I recently visited one of my favorite cities, Chicago.  The drive into the city is somewhat magical to me.  When I exit I-90/94 and turn onto Lakeshore Drive, my pulse quickens and a smile comes to my lips.  Lake Michigan sparkles on my right, with runners gracefully moving along the jogging trail.  I long to join them.  Nothing compares to running along Lakeshore Drive.  It is quite beautiful.   Next I see Soldier Field, home of the Bears.  Then Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium appear along the shoreline.  All landmarks which signify a sort of homecoming to me.   The day was perfect.  A warm, clear and sunny November day.  The sky was a brilliant blue, my favorite color.

To my left the buildings are growing taller the closer I come to the city.  They too sparkle in the sunlight.  Each skyscraper is unique, and each resembles a work of art.  The older buildings feature classic architecture with intricate mouldings and statues of gargoyles on some.  The newer buildings characterize modern clean lines and glass.  There is beauty in all of them, which makes me happy.  I feel enveloped in the city's welcoming embrace.  It is similar to being in a museum or gallery.

When I exit onto Michigan Avenue and pass Millennium Park, I know I have arrived.  Every time I come to this wonderful city I feel a surge of happiness.

The city's pulse is beating around me.  I can't wait to park my car and exit the vehicle and get onto the city streets.  The sounds assuage me.  The beep of car horns, the whistles of the parking valets hailing cabs for hotel patrons, and the voices of people all fall upon my happy ears.  I've arrived.

It's so difficult to explain.  You're either a city girl or you're not.  Some people prefer peace and quiet.  They prefer suburbia or country life.  My daughter is one of these people.  She dislikes crowds, and shies away from the craziness of the city.    She likes to visit, but only for short periods of time then looks forward to getting back to the 'burbs.  Actually, everyone in my family is that way.  I'm different.  I prefer the city.   But alas,  I've been overruled, ha ha.  And the majority rules.

I think my love for the city started within the dreams of my youth.  I dreamt about having the exciting life of the on Capital Hill, covering the White House.   This is what I went to school to study, and what I wanted to become.  I suffered through Political Science classes.  I lived for my English, Literature and Journalism courses.  I wanted to travel the world, covering exciting stories and visiting as many different cities as I could.  Instead, I finished with school, married a Navy boy and moved to Indiana.  Now don't get me wrong,  I've had a happy life and have given birth to two wonderful children that I might not have had, if I had instead followed my youthful dreams.  And I am so blessed with my children and wouldn't change my decision a bit!  Kendall is just about to enter her senior year of high school and Nick is in middle school.  Time flies!   I have been married for almost 20 years. A lifetime!  But I'm coming to the realization that it's never too late to follow your dreams.

As my children draw close to starting the journey of their adult life and hopefully following their own dreams, what is holding me back from doing the same?

A few years ago I made the decision to become a more independent and active person.  Made some big changes in my life.  I had let others dictate who I was for as long as I can remember.  It feels good to finally be coming into myself.  I continue my growth every day.  I could have given up, but I'm stronger than that.  I could have just laid down and died, but I'm stronger than that.  Today I'm letting go of fear, taking chances and slowly a new "me" is emerging.  So here I am blogging to you about myself, my struggles and my joys.  Being honest.   Today I can laugh at myself and learn from many mistakes along the way.    I'm blogging professionally as well, and freelancing when I can get why not more?  After all, sorry for the cliche', but life is too short (says the 45 year old).

I am becoming more introspective as I write this post.  I am still writing about the city love I have, however it's morphing into a deeper meaning.  My love for the city and my youthful dreams is a metaphor for who I am today.  Of what I'm becoming.   Change is good.

Is there a point in life when it's too late to reach for your dreams?  I say no.   Just as long as I keep moving forward. 

I'm writing this from my home in the suburbs, back from my city, Chicago.  I am in my bed, with my laptop aptly placed where it belongs, on my lap.   And I'm happy.  This is good.  I'm trying not to let the silence unnerve me.  Today I will enjoy the peace and quiet.  And I will continue to dream of the sounds of the city.  And of my future urban address.  Because, you never know.......

Peace, Michelle

Friday, November 16, 2012

You Know You Love Cycling When _____________

You know you love cycling when you willingly go for a 40 mile ride even though the thermometer reads 42 degrees.   Today was one of those days that I was feeling the cycling love.  It goes beyond just "working out" at this time of the year.    I could have taken a spin class or gone to the Cycle Studio for a beat down, but I just had to ride outside today.     When a friend and fellow cyclist asked if I wanted to ride, I jumped at the chance.  Of course!  (See?   "of course"at it!)  It's always more fun with another person.

It was a beautiful day.  There had been frost on the ground when I went for my morning run.  By 1:00pm when we ventured out, the sun was shining, and only a few clouds dotted the sky.  There was a slight wind, but it was tolerable.    Did I mention it was cold?

There is a vast difference between riding in the summertime and riding in the winter.    First, thank you Miss Obvious, there is the cold. Brr. More clothing is involved.  Quite a bit more.  In the summer it's biking shorts, a tank, socks and shoes and my helmet.   Today I wore fleece bike pants, wool socks, hat, gloves, several layers of clothes on top, shoes and a jacket, helmet and shoe covers.  It appeared I was preparing to journey across the frozen tundra.  It's a bit more challenging maneuvering the bike wearing such a large amount of clothing.  But it is so worth it.  The scenery was beautiful today as we rode the countryside.

When riding in cold months,  I am occasionally referred to in layman's terms as "crazy".    This is usually by non-cyclists.   (Although this happens to me in the summer   Maybe there's some truth to it?  As we rode I noticed drivers giving us looks that read "really?!"  Also got a few honks and cat calls during the ride.  While I'd like to think it was because I looked so good (ha ha, ha)  I'm sure it's more likely because passing motorists (with their heat on) thought we were nuts.  And really, how cute can a girl look wearing 4 layers of clothes, fleece biking pants and a jacket?  Not very.  Ego check.

Another drawback was my poor nose.  It was like a faucet today, and I was constantly sniffing or wiping.  Good times.  Note to self:  bring tissues on the next ride.

It was all worth it.  It was exhilarating and so much fun.  Every time I ride this time of year, I lament that it might be the last one until the spring.  So when I get the chance to ride outside I jump at the opportunity with pleasure.  I'm not quite ready to hang up the bike and bring my workouts inside.  The treadmill, bike trainer and the spin bike can just wait a little bit longer.

And the good news?  There are numerous chances to ride again this weekend.  It's predicted to be a heatwave of 55 on Saturday.  Perfect riding weather.  Maybe I can nix a few layers.  Awesome!

I'll see you soon!  If you need me, leave a message....I will be out on my bike!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Of Course!

Does action speak louder than words?   Taking action could come after making a profound statement,
making a life-altering change, or in response to a request.  Action signifies moving forward.

That being said, I do think there are some words that have a stronger meaning than action.   For the sake of this post, I'm talking about the simple words in a simple phrase, "Of course.....".  When I hear someone say "of course", it immediately softens my heart.  The words imply that there is no other alternative, that "of course" it will be done, whatever "it" may be.   That's very comforting.

Is it true that action speaks louder than words?   Or can two simple words instill trust that there inevitably will be action?   Does this action have to be witnessed?   Or will trust prevail?

When I was a little girl, growing up in a very small town in rural Pennsylvania,  my father was the rector of the Episcopal church.  We lived in the rectory next door.  (Yes, I am a preacher's daughter....explains a lot!)    It was a wonderful place to grow up.  My sister and I would spend our days riding our bikes and playing throughout the town.  It was so peaceful that we could be gone all day and our parents wouldn't worry.   On the opposite side of us lived a little old lady.  Her name was Mamie, and she was the kindest person I've ever known.  Mamie was a tiny woman who always had a smile on her face.  Her arms were always open for a hug.  She had white hair, that to me resembled cotton candy just waiting to become pink or blue.  My sister and I were welcome to come and go to and from Mamie's house whenever we liked.  We would help her in her garden, and Mamie would give us tea and cookies.   We loved her.  To almost anything we asked, Mamie would say "Why, of course dear...".  And she would mean it.

Mamie showed us that kindness existed.  Whenever I say "of course..." I think of Mamie.  The memories of a very kind neighbor will last forever in my heart.  To me, she was a saint.

In a way, these memories have helped shape the person I am today.  I was taught to always be kind.  Or at least to always TRY to be kind.   Today I do my best to treat others as I would like to be treated.

She gave me the courage, even as a young girl,  to have faith in people and their word.    Yes, this is potentially dangerous.  There is a chance I will be let down.  However, I mean it when I say that letting my guard down and really trusting that action will be taken when I am promised "of course",  has wielded great strength in me.   Expecting a positive outcome to a promise made is how I roll.   I am almost always positive.   I am not in the least skeptical, even though I have been let down quite often.  Somehow, despite being hurt,  I'm always willing to see the good in people.  I think there is a little Mamie inside most of us.

When I was thirteen, my father accepted a position at a church in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C.  We moved from the sleepy little town to a bustling urban suburb of a large city.  It was a culture shock, to say the least!   But it was a good experience as well.  I wonder what I would be like today had we stayed in small town Pennsylvania?

I slowly morphed into a city girl.  No longer could I roam the streets all day.  Had to check in with my parents.  Being so close to the city, my friends and I would live to venture "downtown" whenever we could.  The drinking age in Washington D.C. was 18 at the time, so in our senior year of high school, we would spend a lot of time there, causing trouble.  (Just kidding....or am I?!)  The second half of my childhood and into my college years was pretty exciting.  Truth:  I didn't hear "of course" nearly as often.  I am now an adult and I live in the suburbs.  In (gasp) Indiana.  I'm getting back in touch with my childhood,  as I'm spending quite a bit of time writing about those years.  Today I am grateful that I was reminded of Mamie and was inspired to write this post.  Spreading the love, people.

In closing, I encourage you to get in touch with your inner Mamie.  The next time someone says "of course..." take a leap of faith and believe they will follow through on their promise.  You might just be surprised.  And the next time someone asks you to do something for them or for a cause, try saying "of course..." then take action.  See what happens.  Leave the skepticism in the dust.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Food for Thought

Do I really pay attention to what and how I eat?   Is it an intentional act, or a mindless activity?   As an athlete,  I generally do pay attention.  I typically follow a "clean" diet.   If I'm hungry I eat.    If I'm training, I eat to fuel my body.  During a race, I eat to give my body energy to make it to the finish line in the fastest means possible.   But I'll be honest,  sometimes I eat when I'm not hungry (for example the gazillion peanut butter cups I inhaled without thought on Halloween).  I rationalized this in my mind that Halloween is a holiday made for candy consumption.  So it was okay to indulge.  Ah....rationalization.  It's such a wonderful tool, isn't it?!

I attended a women's seminar this weekend, in which the program focused on meditation with regard to eating.   It combined the concepts of science and spirituality, when it comes to food.   It was not geared toward weight loss, but instead the act of complete concentration while eating.  To start the exercise, we sat in silence as a plate of food was placed in front of us.

We were instructed to close our eyes, and were led through a guided meditation.  We were asked, on a scale of 1-5 how hungry we were.  Were we really hungry at all?  Or were we completely ravenous.  We were asked to relax our bodies; relax our shoulders, our bellies, and place our hands on our abdomens.  We were asked to focus on what was currently on our minds, then release those thoughts.  We were then asked to take one item of food and hold it to our noses and inhale.  We were told to savor the smell of the food, and to note how our bodies reacted to it. Then we were asked to take one bite, hold it in our mouths for a second, then chew slowly, and finally to swallow.  We were then asked to put our forks down and place our hands on our laps.  After a pause, the process was repeated, and repeated again until the plate was empty or until our hunger was satisfied.  I found I stopped long before the plate was empty, and that the sweets on the plate were really not appealing to me (they would have been the first thing I ate previously!)

It was an eye-opening experience.  It really made me think about how I eat.

I have a busy lifestyle, work, training, writing, kids, etc.  When I think about it, I'm almost always eating on the fly.  There are some days I forget to eat, and other days when I can't recall how much I've eaten.  Neither scenario is a good one.

I've always thought of food simply as fuel.  And sometimes comfort.   Today I am looking at food as nourishment for the mind, body and spirit.

Since the seminar, I've been slowing down and paying attention to my eating practices.  I've found that I've eaten less, eaten healthier and have enjoyed my food more.  When I concentrate on how I'm feeling, how the food tastes, smells and feels it is a very enjoyable experience.  Almost sensual.

Meditation and yoga have completely changed the way I breathe, and now meditation has changed the way I eat.  It's a beautiful thing!

Try it at your next meal.  You might just surprise yourself....

See you soon!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crazy Good Weekend

This past weekend was a weekend so good, I needed a few days to recover.

Truth.....while it was an absolutely crazy good weekend, I've been suffering a touch of writers' block.  If you write, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Typically words just come to me, and flow onto the page as if a stream snaking down a mountain from it's snowcaps.  Smooth and easy.  When I sat down to write Sunday evening...nothing.  Monday...block.  Tuesday....wall.  Today is Wednesday and I'm at it again.  So far so good.  There are words on the page!    Oh, wait...correction.   I just looked at the clock and it's midnight.  Thursday.

It's frustrating to have so much to say and face the wall.  The dreaded blank page.  It just stares back at me with it's ominous emptiness.  Ugh.

When you're a writer, the sudden, innate inability to put a sentence down on paper sometimes happens.   It is similar to having stage fright for me.   This week has been one of "those weeks".

Today I'm determined to knock down the wall and just write.  I hope it's readable.

Back to the weekend.  It wasn't just any weekend, but it was The weekend for football.  At least for my family.  My son Nick is twelve, and has been playing on his travel football team, the Carmel Pups, since August.  The boys have worked hard all season.  They practiced every evening after school from 5:30-7:30.  They attended the Carmel High School games every Friday evening.  They played a game on Labor Day weekend.  They practiced and played a game while the rest of their peers enjoyed Fall Break weekend.  They were undefeated all season, including the playoff games and the sectional game.  Last week they practiced on Halloween.   And it all came down to the state championship game this past Saturday.

The tailgate party,  the sea of Carmel blue and gold, the crisp fall air, the roar of the crowd.....all proved it's time for football!

The pressure was on.  Carmel had not won the coveted Championship Trophy since 1975.  The boys stood poised on the cusp of the biggest game of their young lives.  It was a very cold evening.  It had rained earlier in the afternoon, but the rain had cleared as we took our seats in the stands.  I was suddenly nervous, as the importance of the game set in.  We were on the opposing team's turf, which added to the stress.

My sixteen year old daughter sat next to me and my dad, and we enjoyed an evening together, filled with laughter.  We stood and cheered, we joined the cheerleaders during the Carmel fight song.  The teenager in her was nowhere in sight, and we just relaxed and had a great time.  She was there because she wanted to be, on a Saturday night, without her boyfriend.   It was awesome.  My husband didn't sit with us, as he had to pace next to the field with some of the other nervous dads.

The opposing team dominated the first half of the game.  It was tough to watch.  However, as I looked around, it was evident that so many people had come to support the boys, the entire visitor side was completely filled with Carmelites dressed is blue and gold.  We were cheering and stomping loudly.  Our excitement would not be quelled!

Our enthusiasm seemed to carry onto the field to the boys at the beginning of the second half.  It was like a classic Rocky movie.  The boys emerged from the locker room and we all jumped to our feet and roared!  In my mind I could hear Survivor singing "Eye of the Tiger".  The boys pumped their helmets up into the air with fierce determination.  The game was back on!

The second half of the game belonged to Carmel.   The defense defended, the offense could not be stopped, and Carmel took control.  The final score 34-18 Carmel!!!    I don't think I've ever been so excited.  It's quite possible I made a complete ass of myself as I jumped for joy, screaming with my hands extended up toward the sky.  I think I chest butted the guy next to me.  Awkward.  (You'd think....but really it wasn't).  Everybody was hugging and cheering, and it was amazing.

What an accomplishment for this amazing group of boys!  The coaches, these big, tough men were crying as they all came together.  Nick was moved by their unabashed show of emotion.  It was such a great night!

The remainder of the weekend was relaxing.  The game stayed on our minds throughout.  It was truly the highlight of the weekend, and one we will always remember.   So proud of my son!

I hope you had a great weekend also!   I know it was awhile ago...

See you soon,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Friday!

A short post.......

I watched the news this morning, and couldn't help but reflect on all of the discouraging feature stories. The aftermath of the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, crime, illness, financial crisis and the election are just some of the pessimism that was displayed on the screen.  Commercials that came along were no better.  The bulk of the commercials were negative advertisements for opposing candidates in local and the national election.  I turned off the TV, logged out of Facebook and Twitter and tuned in to Spotify for some music to lighten my mood.'s my failsafe.    Thank you, once again, modern technology!

As I listened to classic Talking Heads, I turned and looked out of the window into my backyard.  The sun is shining, the grass is green and the sky is a bright blue.  A smile appeared on my face.  It's a beautiful fall day.  In a few hours I will be on my bike with the fall air and the sun on my face.  The day is looking very promising!

Friday marks the start to the weekend, and there is a lot of fun ahead.  Big football game, lots of fun workouts, time with family and friends and time alone on a quiet running trail.    It might be a good idea to keep the TV off, and save social media and newspapers for Monday morning.   That might make an interesting writing topic:  "Unplugged".  If I can pull it off that is.  No actual plans for that yet :)    But getting back to the basics with no modern technology might prove a good opportunity for quiet reflection.  Yoga, meditation, quiet, meaningful conversations would have a lasting impact....even if just for a few days.   Food for thought.

I'm not saying that I am doing so THIS weekend!  ha ha.....perhaps next....

I am planning to turn my computer off after I post this.  My wish to you is that you have a relaxing and fun time this weekend!   Focus on gratitude...

See you soon, Peace :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Waiting Line

I've been asked, "Michelle, why do you blog?"  It's simple...I am a writer.  I write, it's what I do.     This blog is my creative outlet, my fun time and sometimes my way of journaling.  Today it's also a time for reflection on a subject that sometimes gives me the heebie jeebies, and potentially hives.  Waiting.  Ugh.  (I may be exaggerating a little bit.)

I come to you today from a surgical waiting room.   A room created solely for the purpose of doing the obvious.....waiting.  (The name implies nothing positive).   I'm here to support a friend who is having surgery and needed my help.  The nurses just took her back, and asked me to wait here.  Waiting, as I have mentioned, is not something at which I excel.  It requires patience.  Being in waiting mode kind of drives me a little nuts, I'll be honest.  It's ironic because when I'm alone at home, or in Starbucks, lying on a chaise soaking in the sun, etc., idle time is enjoyable to me.  But spending time just waiting for an undetermined length of time,  is a smidge difficult.   Especially when I'm concerned about my friend.  Could it be I just need to change my perspective?

My choices right now: watch the Today Show, with a running commentary of the impact of Hurricane Sandy peppered with political commercials, or find a quiet corner to write.  I chose the quiet corner.    Being in solitude while writing is a wonderful distraction.  A welcome alternative to just waiting and twiddling my thumbs watching mindless TV.

With modern technology I can write anywhere and even post anywhere.  In college I wrote on an actual typewriter, and was limited to my desk.   It was romantic, with the clicking of the keys and the swoosh as the carriage was returned to the start.  But not very convenient.  Spellcheck was a Webster's Dictionary, or my own gut instinct.  And of course lots of White-out.  Writing is a bit easier today.  I carry my iPad everywhere and take all of my notes, write my blog and even write for my job on it.  My office can go wherever I do.  Today I am very grateful for that.

As I said that,  it gave me pause.  Why am I being negative, even if in a small way, about being here?  How counter-productive is that?!   Well, enough!  I am changing my attitude right now, and am getting into gratitude.   I am grateful that I can be here for my friend.   I am grateful for the coffee I'm sipping.  I'm grateful for my health, my smile which has emerged, and for this day.  I am grateful that I have the privilege of having some free time and time to give to others.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see that waiting can be a good thing, and that learning patience is a great thing.  I have no room in my life for negative energy.

Why rush life?  Just chill and let things play out.  I'm going to let the balls bounce around me and resist the urge to catch them and take control.  It can be so freeing.

This is why I blog.  Why I write.  While exercising my creativity, I can gain insight.  I can catch the errors of my way and make amendments.   And lo and behold, I did this while WAITING.  Imagine that?!

Meditation. Yoga.  It's how I start every day.  A change in perspective can, and should happen every day.  Every time negativity creeps in, I should pause and examine my motives for allowing that to happen.  I have a feeling that by doing that on a regular basis I will grow.  I'm learning to look at my part in every situation.  Not blame people or things for everything.  Chances are when I look within, I will see that I have some responsibility.

Suddenly I'm feeling great.  I'm still waiting, but I have a completely different outlook on it.  And I'm sure that my positive outlook will further help my friend when she comes out of surgery.

That's about it for now.  Going to say some prayers for the millions of people affected by Hurricane Sandy.   I've heard many sad stories.  Thankfully my family is well, and my sister (who lives on the beach in Virginia) is A-OK.  For that I'm grateful.  The politicians featured in the commercials I'm avoiding are on their own.

Thank you for being part of my attitude shift today.  Peace, Out.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm sipping on a tall Americano and bundled in jeans and a comfy sweater. It's chilly here in Indiana.  Which is ironic, as yesterday I was flittering about town in biking shorts and a tank top.  It was 80 degrees and sunny.  It felt like summertime.  I spent the previous afternoon on my bike enjoying the beautiful day and marveling at the brilliant green of the grass and the bright blue sky.   Peace.

Today it is 45 degrees and overcast.  There was heavy rain this morning.  Apparently this is common Indiana weather.  It could feel like summer one day, late fall/early winter the next.    I've lived here for 19 years, and I am still not accustomed to it.  I'm still an east-coast gal.

When I woke up in a cool room (I had opened the windows the night before), and heard rain hitting the rooftop this morning, I thought about staying in bed.  But I chose to get up and get moving instead.  Life has been a roller coaster recently, and I know better than to stay idle.   The best way for me to get out of myself, and out of the dumps is to exercise.  Get the endorphins moving.

I bundled up, put on a rain jacket and a baseball hat, my winter running pants and my sneakers and headed outside.

I ran unplugged today.  I reveled in raindrops sprinkling my face, the quiet sound of my feet touching the wet pavement rhythmically and an occasional passing car.  I turned off the main road and ran toward the river.  It was beautiful, because I chose to see it as such.  Today I welcomed the rain, and looked for the beauty in the trees, bare of their leaves, rising from the ground as if sculptures.

Thoughts and feelings danced in my head, even though there was no music.  I let them dance.  I allowed myself to feel.  I allowed the warm tears to join the raindrops on my face.  And it felt good.  It is wonderful to feel and not to numb as I've done in the past.  My intention was to run 4 miles, I ran 8.  I felt renewed and refreshed.

I talked about letting go in my last post.   Today I was reminded that letting go is not the end.  Letting go, even if just for the time being, is just the beginning.  It is a process in life.  Feelings and sadness don't just go away magically on their own.  The difference in turning it over and letting go is I am handling my feelings and not being consumed by them.  Taking action over what I can control and letting go of what I can't.  What other choice is there?

After my therapeutic run, and a hot shower, I met some very good friends.  My posse.  My girls.  I needed to be around others......hear their laughter, and laugh with them.   Laughter is hands down the ultimate cure for pretty much everything.  The most important part of being with them was I sincerely needed to get out of my own head.  If I stay up there too long......well, no good can come of it!

That's it for now....T.G.I.F.!  Have a great weekend y'all!  And remember....when all else fails....LAUGH.  (Or at least smile.)

Peace, out xoxo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Letting Go

Letting go.  Such little words that have the potential to pack a big punch.  Possibly life changing.  I've been pondering the art of letting go recently.

I'll tell you a story about my son, which comes to mind.  When he was a small child he loved cars.  He had hundreds of little matchbox cars that he would play with for hours.  I remember he kept them in this big canister.  One time he reached in and was determined to gather as many as he could in his hand, but when he tried to pull his hand out he could not.  He had so many cars clutched in his fist that his hand would not fit through the opening of the canister.  He cried and cried, and I rushed into the room.  He said "Mommy, my hand is stuck".  I said, "Well honey, just let go of the cars!"  He said "I can't Mommy I love them and want to play with them!"

Just let go of the cars!  It sounds so logical and simple, doesn't it?

Is letting go really logical and simple?

I relate this story to me as an adult.  To let go of something means to say goodbye to something or someone I care about.  If I let go, I will not have that person or thing which I love so much in my grasp.     To let go is unthinkable!  This would mean to give up control.  This will hurt.  But what I've failed to see is by holding on so tightly I actually cannot have the object of my desire close to me anyway.  Did I ever really have it?

As a human being, I love.  I love big.  I give of myself freely.  To love means happiness, joy, fulfillment.  The cornerstone of life.  Pure.  An emotion you have to feel to understand.  The basis of love is simple, really.   Until it isn't.

Letting go could be in reference to a person, a friend.  It could be letting go of an idea, or of a character flaw.  The truth is, letting go is not so simple when it comes right down to it.

Does the act of letting go mean to give up hope?  To me, hope is everything.  (Again, it is tattooed on my wrist.)  Hope also packs quite a punch.   To me, hope equates optimism.

Then there is the theory of holding on.  Holding on could portray loyalty and faith.  Hope.  Or it could represent desperation.  Clinging to something or someone, in the hope it will all work out.  But at this point does hope become foolishness?

I've found that when the dilemma of letting go vs holding on comes up, as it has to me recently, this is probably time to face a difficult decision.  Clearly I am holding on because what I'm holding is very dear to me.  In the past, this is the point in time where I would usually go into denial, or try to ignore or numb myself to the situation.  To face possible hurt was unthinkable.  However, today I am approaching difficult situations in my life with a much clearer mind.  I'm being (gasp) logical in my thinking.   I've made a lot of changes in recent years.  I have had to let go of old ideas, and old behaviors in order to allow growth to come in.  I am not saying by a long shot that this has been easy.  It has been a lot of work.  A lot of soul searching.  In effect, I have changed my very personality.  Remolded myself.  I kid you not.

Friends tell me I'm strong.  Maybe.  But this doesn't mean I don't hurt.  I do.  Letting go of something, while it is the right thing to do, is very difficult.  When the time comes, I have to detach with love.  I hesitate to say this brings closure, because closure is too permanent.  Some people think that giving closure is a good thing.  I don't believe in complete closure.  I don't think any door is ever really closed.  It may be a cliche', but I believe when one door closes a window opens.

So today, I am letting go.  It is the right thing to do.  I feel very sad, but somewhat lighter in having made the right choice.

Just let go of the cars.  Because when I let go, there is a chance to take them back, one at a time.  Hope.

100 Hilly Miles

Great to be back!  It's been a few days since I've been able to sit down and write for fun.  Work and all that jazz kind of took the drivers seat.  Not to mention a little bike ride I did this weekend.

This marks my second year riding the Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour in southern Indiana.  It is a grueling, immensely fun, two day event covering 100.5 miles and 8,737 feet of climbing.  To be honest, before I did the ride last year I had no idea Indiana even had any hills.  Let alone the fierce climbs we faced during "The Hilly", as the locals call it.  The Hilly is a bit of an institution I've come to find out.  Some of the climbs are legendary.  One "hill" in particular (we will call it a hill...but truthfully viewed from the bottom it appears to go straight up) reputably earns you "bragging rights" if you make it (on your bike, walking does not count) all the way to the top.  Mt Tabor.  I did not even get halfway up the infamous hill last year.  This year I was determined I was going to make it.  It would be mine.  Not a shred of doubt.

A group of us met at the crack (of dawn)  on Saturday, to caravan southward, as is the tradition.  We are an eclectic mix of cyclists and triathletes who are also good friends.  We did a little carb loading, then headed south.

It was a cold, damp morning.  However, the weather forecast predicted sunny skies for the day, so we weren't concerned.  We should have been.  As sometimes is the case, the weatherman had the forecast slightly off.  Okay way off.

We arrived in Elletsville, a quaint little town near Bloomington, IN.  We got our gear ready, started out and almost immediately it began to drizzle.    My glasses were covered in little polka dots of rain, and water dripped from my helmet.  I was not adequately prepared, and was not dressed for wet weather.  It was cold.  However as usual, I was optimistic and was certain the clouds would clear, the rain would stop and we would be given a rainbow.  Didn't happen.

To paint a little picture of the day, it was fun but dangerous.  We were riding and climbing on wet, leaf-covered roads with 5,000 other cyclists.  The downhills were especially treacherous.  I had to be on constant alert.   I think I must have said "passing on your left" a thousand times.  But of course, all of this added to the fun.  As you know, I love love love being on my bike.

Lunch was a time to meet up with the group, and other friends riding in the event.  It was also a time to huddle up and catch some warmth.  The Hilly lunch stop is raved about, and the traditional fried chicken is fabled as the best.   Nonetheless, I opted for PB & J.   We didn't rest for long, as we were all wet and shivering.  After lunch we rode fast.  Our main goal at that point was to get back to the hotel and take a hot shower.  The rain did subside a bit after lunch, and we were able to take in some beautiful scenery.

That evening we all took part in another tradition....Nick's.  Nick's is a bar in Bloomington, and is a favorite of Indiana University students and the like.  More laughter and carb loading.  Traditions are good!!

The next morning when I looked outside it was clear, and not a cloud in the sky!  What a difference a day makes.  It was cold, but we didn't care.  Anything was better than the previous day.  It turned out to be so beautiful and a perfect day for a ride.


The views were spectacular.   Brown county is known for it's beauty in the fall.  The views on the road were equally enjoyable, as there were cute cycling boys everywhere.  It is one of the perks of my sport.    It was fun chatting with others along the route and meeting new and interesting people.

I do have to admit, however that several times on Sunday I said to myself "you are freaking crazy.  What sane person does this?!"  The climbs were tough and my quads were screaming.   My somewhat moaning exhales as I kept my breathing rhythmic drew a few interested glances as I climbed the Bean Blossom monstrosity and the torture that was Mt Tabor.  I may have thrown a few people off a bit.  Oops my bad.  But I did it!!  Climbed Mt Tabor successfully and am damn proud of it!  Maiden of the Hill!

Lunch on day two was a party!  I briefly contemplated the fried chicken, but again opted for PB & J.  Peanut butter is my nemesis but today I earned it.  There was a live band and we ran into a lot of cycling friends from Indianapolis.   In a word, it was a blast.

The rest of the day passed quickly and we arrived at the finish line.  It was bittersweet, as this ride marks the last of the races on my calendar (The Hilly is not a race to most, but to me it was!  Riding fast is fun!)

Our discussion as we were packing up was 2013 and everyone's race/ride plan. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that I already have my plans set for 2013.  It's how I roll....what can I say?!   No tears over the past, only looking forward to the next adventure(s)!    My winter training begins next week.  Can't wait!!  Idle hands (arms, legs, etc.) have no place in my life.  But it will be much more moderate and less structured for a few months.  And of course I will make plenty of time for rest, and to stop and enjoy the view.  Pause.

Catch you soon.....