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