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 :)