March 30, 2013

I feel the Kenyan in me

I am a runner people! I never thought I would say that. Ever.

I simply did not understand why sane people would choose to run. Bike, hike, swim, anything else made sense. But run? Not for this girl. Even though I come from a country known for its marathon runners. Even though I take out my huge Kenyan flag and wave it at the Boston Marathon. Even though I weep every time a Kenyan wins and they play the national anthem. I could not imagine running myself.

Then last January (2012), I decided to train for a 5K. Why? I simply do not know. Must have been a low sugar moment, and it seemed like a good idea. But then, I proceeded to tell everyone I knew that I was going to do it. Why oh why did I do that? Why could this "brilliant" idea not go the way of all resolutions, and fade away into that dark night? But I was committed. So now what?

First I needed a plan. I'm a planner when it comes to these kinds of things, so I spent some time online and looked at various Couch to 5K plans, and finally settled on this one. It was a free podcast, so what did I have to lose right? Now I'm no couch potato, so figured the first couple of weeks would be a breeze. Nope. Turns out you use different muscles for running than walking. And I was running at a pace slower than I could walk. Why was I doing this again?

Still, I decided to stick with it, and by week 2 was tired of the podcast - the same old music - so paid for the app version of the program. I could spend a couple of bucks to listen to my music surely. And I loved it. I got the coaching, plus a variety of music each workout.

Since things were going so well, I decided to sign up for and run a 5K in February. This after never running anywhere but on a treadmill. And you might recall that I started running for the first time ever less than a month prior. I do things like this. You can read about that event here.

Then started what I call my ouchy phase. In my case, the ouch was caused by painful shin splints. I tried everything - Rested/Iced/Compress/Elevate/Stretch. Nothing seemed to work. A few minutes after I started running, I was in so much pain I could not continue. Then I discovered this idea, and you know what? It actually works. I do it now before every run. I was on the road to recovery. I gave myself lots of rest, and decided to try to ease back into running. But I had lost momentum, and with it all motivation.

Fast forward to this year (2013). The goal of running a 5K was back. What is it about January that does this to me? Again, I made this public proclamation, and then decided to not run the entire month of January. Yes. I do things like this. But you know what? The break, both physical and mental, was good for me. I started back up in February with Week 4 of the plan, and last week completed my 5K101 training. I took my time and repeated weeks as needed. Also before big jumps in running times, I slowly built my confidence by doing the supplemental training weeks. For two weeks now I have been running for stretches of 30 minutes at a time. For the first time in my life.

What now? I continue to run three time a week, and am working on increasing my pace and distance, and transitioning to outdoor runs. And training for my next 5K race.

It has been a tough journey. There are days I do not feel like I can run. Or even want to run. And I am reminded of this: It is never a question of can you, but will you? And I lace up. And do it. Last week, I was heard to whimper, "I can do it, I can do it" to myself. And I did. When I don't feel I can take another step, I reach deep down and feel the Kenyan in me. I have experienced that elusive thing called a runner's high, and holy moly it is so good.

I do think that running is now a part of my life. I love the physical workout, and the mental clearing of the cache. It turns out that running is more mental than physical for me. Don't get me wrong, it is really tough physically too, but the harder part for me is the mental part. I have spent a lot of time with that gremlin in my head, and it has been illuminating. Yes, there are moments that I still feel like a hippo running to a watering hole, but there are entire stretches when I feel like a springbok. And that is what keeps me lacing up my shoes.

March 29, 2013

Journal page

I like to sketch while I listen to podcasts, so I was delighted to learn that Danny Gregory has video interviews with some of the artists featured in his new book. Here is the quick sketch I made while he talked to Jean-Christophe.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pen and watercolors. You can watch this interesting interview here.

March 28, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 12

This is week 12, and I continue to love this project. Highlights of the week include saying hello to Spring with a snow day, completing my running program, playing with watercolors, and spotting the Easter Bunny. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Katie.  Textured card, washi tape and awesome arrow elements by Melissa. Stop the glorification of busy card by Unknown.

March 27, 2013

Journal page

As I was scanning through my images, realized that I had a couple of older journal pages I had not shared. This one was created on a play date with my nephews. I was showing them how you can use crayons to create a resist. A fun time was had by all.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Crayon and watercolors.

March 26, 2013

Journal page

I have worked more trade shows than I care to count.  Long exhausting days on my feet pitching  products and services to potential customers. There are perks though, and one is meeting up with friends from all over the world - people I have worked with over the years. Another fun thing about these shows is the swag. I do believe that every single workout t-shirt I've used for a couple of decades was gotten at some trade show. Some marketing companies are very creative in their giveaways. Ziggy, for example, was "adopted" at one trade show.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and markers.

March 25, 2013

Recent Reads

33. Amulet, Vol.5: Prince of the Elves
This is Volume 5 in the series of a fun YA story. Love the illustrations - total eye candy. Rating: 4 stars.

34. The Black Box
You know that period of time when you know a relationship is over, but you still hang on hoping for some of that old spark that drew you together in the first place? But then you realize that the love is truly gone? I'm there with Harry Bosch. Well, I was there with the last book, but I tried to patch things up one more time. This is #18 in the series, and is the last one I plan on reading. Bosch is an old love, which prevented me from leaving him at the bar and stiffing him with the tab. Ah well, all good things must come to an end sometime I suppose. Rating: 2 stars.

35. Season of the Sandstorms
My 8 year old nephew, Jonah, is cruising through this series. He visits the library, comes home with a stack of books, and then calls to show me what he will read next. Love that. I read the first 32 books in this series with his older brother, and I've waited for Jonah to get old enough so we can read and discuss the remainder together. There are a couple of things I really love about this series:

1. Annie is braver than her older brother Jack

2. The short stories expose kids to history, different cultures and mythology in a really fun way. 

In this book for example, Jack and Annie head to Baghdad, ride camels, and help rescue a priceless book by Aristotle. I've got the next several loaded on my nook. Rating: 3 stars.

36. The Sisters Brothers
My Dad was a huge fan of Westerns, so as a kid I probably watched all of them. Several times over. I'll even go so far as to admit that I thought all Americans lived lives that either resembled a Western, or the characters of St. Elmo's Fire. Imagine my shock when wheels touched down at JFK! I bring this up, because after seeing all those movies, and dabbling with a few Zane Grey books as a kid, I believed myself to be all Westerned out. I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed this funny book. Yes there is the expected violence, and unshaven unclean men, but I smiled through most of it. I listened to the audio book wonderfully narrated by John Pruden. I found myself rooting for Eli and ol' Tub. And is this not the best book jacket cover ever? Rating: 4 stars.

March 23, 2013

Oprah and Brené Brown, Part 1

In her book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown examines how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead. In this interview, she reveals how our greatest weaknesses may also be our greatest strengths.

You can watch Part 1 of this interview here.

March 22, 2013

Journal page

One of the wonderful things about the web is that I find inspiration in so many places without leaving the comfort of my home. One artist whose blog I read is Prash, and this page was inspired by some of his art.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.

March 21, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 11

This is week 11 and I continue to love this project. I had a low energy week so am pleasantly surprised that I had as many photos as I did. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Textured paper by Melissa.  Clover and Kiss Me elements by Katie. Who/What/When/Where card by Tina. Running lady image by Debbie.

March 20, 2013

Maz Jobrani: A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian walk into a Qatari bar …

Laughter is not only the best medicine, it helps connect us.
Spend about 7 minutes of your day laughing today.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

March 19, 2013

Journal page

I am slowly learning to accept that how I feel changes week to week, day to day, probably even minute to minute, if I paid close enough attention. And learning to accept that it is okay. Whatever it is. To simply be present and acknowledge that I might have less energy and less to give on a particular day. And that is as it should be. It is hard work, but am making progress in accepting where I am right now. In this moment.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Listening to podcasts while doodling is quite soothing. Give it a try and you'll know what I mean. Pen and markers.

March 18, 2013

Recent Reads

30. A Cold and Lonely Place
This is book #2 of a series. I knew that going in, and knew enough about the premise of the prequel to follow along. I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I suppose it would be loosely defined as a mystery, though at no time did I feel driven to learn about the events that resulted in a man found dead in the ice. I did however finish it in a couple of days, so there was something that kept me reading. Is it a cozy mystery? Had no idea what that meant so looked it up: 
  • The crime-solver in a cozy mystery is usually a woman with a college degree who is an amateur sleuth. Check.
  • The cozy mystery usually takes place in a small town or village. Check.
  • Although the cozy mystery sleuth is usually not a medical examiner, detective, or police officer, a lot of times her best friend, husband, or significant other is. Check.
  • It is important that the characters are likeable. Check.
  • There is no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex. Most often, the crime takes place “off stage” and death is usually very quick. Check.
It might just be that cozy mysteries are not my cup of tea. Rating: 2 stars.

31. Stay Out of the Basement
I have long talks with my nephews about the Goosebumps series. They are 10 and 8, and love them, and really want me to read the series so we can talk about the stories. Started out with this one, which is #2 in the series and it is good. Science experiments gone horribly wrong. The boys especially love the twist at the end of the stories. Cannot wait to introduce them to Stephen King when they are old enough. Rating: 3 stars.

32. Sanctus
I simply cannot keep up with all the new genre categories! This book falls into the religious thriller genre. Who knew? Not me. Anyways, to the review. I listened to this book on audio, wonderfully narrated by Simon Vance. I'd say it was a 3 star story with a 5 star narrator. Honestly, if you have never had Simon Vance read you to sleep at night, you know not what you are missing. Okay, I'll stop talking about Simon and get back to the book. The story moves along at a fast clip, and is interesting enough that I'll add the second in the series to my TBR. I was however disappointed with the great reveal at the end. While I give the author credit for creativity, it was a bit of a let down. Rating: 3 stars.

March 16, 2013

Girl, 11, scores in fight against Philadelphia Archdiocese to play football

This just makes me happy. Go. Caroline. Go.

If the embedded link does not work, click here.

March 15, 2013

Around Here I Am

enjoying the silence around me.
planning a road trip.
thrilled to try out a new car camping tent. 
celebrating Spring. 
resisting negative messages. 
covering my cold toes with thick socks. 
preparing to push myself. 
stretching old boundaries. 
making a new travel journal. 
carrying less baggage. 
expanding my horizons. 
writing it all down.
preparing to meditate. 
living with stuffed animals who make me laugh. 
ordering fish and chips in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. 
eating Lava Cakes.
loving my life. 
sleeping through the night. 
listening to bird song. 
drinking my favorite hot tea. 
wearing comfortable shoes.
feeling bone tired. 
thinking I'll go for a long walk outdoors.

March 14, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 10

This is week 10 and I continue to love this project.  This week I attended a fun bookish event, and road trip planning continues. I moved up to a new level in my running fitness, and am stoked beyond all reason. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Shabby Princess. Lined journal card by Jessica. TypeKey numbers by Northern Elements. Bracket by unknown. Camp paper by Your Scrapbook Place. My Life circle accent by Katie. 4x6 collage layered template by paislee press.

March 13, 2013

Journal page

It is hard to think about Spring, when we got dumped with a little less than 2 feet of snow this past weekend, but you can tell it is on its way. We've had mid-40s and mid-50s temperatures for the first half of this week - so wonderful after the cold. My skin loves soaking in the warmth.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here is a journal page celebrating the return of sunshine and warmer days. Acrylics, ink and markers. Thanks for stopping by.

March 12, 2013

Photo Essay: When a Kid's Bedroom Isn't a Room

A striking look at where children from nine countries sleep at night.

Take 10 minutes out of your day and read this fascinating photo essay. Talk about the random lottery of which parents a child is born to and what choices are available to them. How different would your life be if any one of these childhoods was yours? Lots to think about. You can see the photo essay here.

March 11, 2013

Recent Reads

26. Maus, Vol.2: And Here My Troubles Began
This is one of the few cases where the sequel is as good, if not better, than the one before. We pick up where Volume One left off in Auschwitz, and learn about what happens to Vladek and Anja through the end of the war. Rating: 5 stars.

27. The Communist Manifesto
Reading for a Coursera class. Agree with the premise, but not enough to finish the book. Rating: DNF

28. Madame Bovary
Reading for a Coursera class. Giving up about half way through. Just not getting into it. Rating: DNF

29. The Book of Joe
I participated in the BOTNS Secret Santa game last December, and this is one of the books I got from my elf (aka Lil). This was one of her fave books for the year, and I can see why. I was hooked the moment I started reading it. 

So imagine that you are a teenage boy growing up in small town America, and not only do you have no friends, let alone a way to get laid, but your mother kills herself, and you cannot find common ground with your father or older brother. Your final year of high school things look up, but you knew it was too good to last. When you shake off that small town dust, you write a scathing "novel" about the characters you grew up with, and not only is the book a success, but it gets adapted for the big screen. Your home town is so upset, they try to sue you for libel. Not a problem since you have not been home for 17 years or so, let alone kept in touch with anyone back there. When you suddenly need to return for family reasons, you come face to face with all the demons you thought you had left behind. The writing is funny, witty and snarky - the way some of the best conversations you have can be. The story explores themes of love, loss, sex, community, glory days, and friendship. 
My only complaint with the book is that while the boys/men are flushed out nicely, the women are all rather one dimensional. My first time reading the author, and I will be adding his other works to my TBR pile. Rating: 4 stars.

So here is one significant way I have changed as I get older. I used to read every book I started. All the way to the end. No skipping around, no skimming. Even if I did not like the book. Reminds you of school days no? Not sure why I did that. Out of some loyalty to the author? Because one of my mottos is I finish what I start? I don't honestly know. But slowly over the years, I have taken the brave step of simply bailing on a book that was not grabbing me. Once I got to the realization that there are more books I want to read than I will ever get to in multiple lifetimes, there is no time to waste on books that do no grab me in some way. I do not have to love it, but it has to have enough to get me to the end. So, here I am. I'm a book quitter, and I'm OK with that.

March 9, 2013

The Best Places To Be If You Love Books

Okay, you know by now that I am a reader. I am also a bookie. Libraries, personal and public, are some of my fave places. Bookstores too. Especially that endangered species the indie bookstore. I love them all. So imagine my delight when I saw these photos. I do admit to drooling.

You can see the pics here. Keep a hankie handy for the inevitable drool. I have visited two of these places. Field trip anyone?

March 8, 2013

21-Day Meditation Challenge - Perfect Health

I so loved the 21-Day meditation challenge that Deepak Chopra ran in November of last year. The theme was Abundance. Looks like Deepak has teamed up with Oprah for a new meditation challenge which starts on March 11. You can learn more and sign up here.

March 7, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 9

This is week 9 and I continue to love this project. Some weeks I simply do not get around to taking lots of photos, and this was one of those weeks. Decided to capture bits and pieces of my life right now instead. I do not watch TV or listen to the radio anymore, but do watch shows online and listen to podcasts on my ipod - the one my nephews think of as "so old that you can only listen to music on it". As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Stacy Marks. Lined and honeycomb cards by Melissa. Sunday word element by Karen. Flower element by Anne Langpap. Swirl element by mterasawa. Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby PrincessClock card from Watchmen.

March 6, 2013

Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain desire? With wit and eloquence, Perel lets us in on the mystery of erotic intelligence.  Check out her thought provoking TED talk:

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

March 5, 2013

Makers: Women Who Make America

I stumbled on this three part documentary series on PBS and absolutely loved it.
You can watch the series online here.

March 4, 2013

Recent Reads

20. Shortcomings
This graphic novel explores themes of racial identity, prejudices and straddling cultures. The main character, Ben Tanaka, is rather whiny and passive aggressive, however he says things like: Tell me you don't agree that when you see a white guy with an Asian girl it has certain ... connotations. And when asked: And when you see an Asian guy a white girl you think? His response: Good for him! Good for both of them! In this multicultural word we inhabit, the book explores interesting questions. Rating: 3 stars.

21. The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
How well do we ever know someone? How fully do we ever let others know us? Yes, this novel is also about friendships, marriages, motherhood, stay at home moms as opposed to moms who work outside the house, and paths not taken, but what most intrigued me was how the story explored those first two questions. Rating: 3 stars.

22. Cultivating Your Creative Life
From the subtitle: Exercises, Activities & Inspiration for Finding Balance, Beauty & Success as an Artist. This book is a fun way to dip into bite-sized inspiration. Rating: 3 stars.

This is Bartimaeus #4, and is a prequel to the older trilogy. I do believe that Bartimaeus is my fave Djinn ever. I really enjoyed the original trilogy, but found this book not as compelling. Oh, Bartimaeus steals the show as always with his witty remarks - I do believe these are the only books where I look forward to reading the footnotes - but the story seemed rather forced. Kinda like watching the most recent James Bond movie, there is lots of action, and explosions, and chase scenes, but after the show is over you are not sure what all the fuss was about. Though if Bond had the lines that Bartimaeus has, the movie would have been so much more entertaining. I am delighted that I have hooked my 10 year old nephew on Bartimaeus, and love our book discussions on his exploits. If you have not read the series, start with the original trilogy and enjoy the ride. Rating: 3 stars.

We've been reading this book aloud in our home for the past several weeks, and while it started out strong, I have decided to move it to my Did Not Finish pile. So much potential - art, art forgery, local Boston color, the Gardner heist - but after the first handful of chapters, the story seems to lose its way. I found the characters rather one dimensional, and the plot meandering. The most vivid character is the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, and only because I have visited it several times and love it. At page 237, I have no idea where this story is going, and frankly do not care. Rating: 1 star.

25. Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History
Having read dozens of books, and seen many movies on the Holocaust, I am surprised that I had not stumbled on this graphic memoir earlier. A father tells his son about his experiences, and while most of us know the broad brush strokes of this history, the individual story is often the most compelling. The use of animals - mice, cats, pigs and dogs - reminds me of reading Animal Farm. Without human labels and preconceived notions, the story snares us in ways that often catch us unawares. I loved everything about this book, and plan on diving into the sequel shortly. Rating: 5 stars.

March 3, 2013

One Little Word 2013: March

As part of OLW, I'm pairing up my word with an intention for the month, and focusing on three goals. Here is the card I created for this month.

Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

March 2, 2013

One Little Word 2013: February Update

And just like that February is over, so time for a monthly status update. Remember these were my goals for the month:

And how did I do?

Goal #1: Train for a 5K run. Decided to target running 25 miles for the month. I am driven by numbers and love graphs, so decided to track my weekly progress with RunKeeper (I use the free version), and this is what the graph looked liked yesterday:

Actual mileage was 22.3 miles, and while I did not hit my target of 25 miles, am thrilled that I am running injury free, and plan to step up to a higher level of training in March. I have yet to pick my 5K event, but am thinking the fall time frame. 

Goal #2: Daily yoga. That meant 28 sessions of yoga. I practiced yoga 23 times this month, and that has to be an all time record for me. Love how much more flexible and loose my body feels. Plan to make this a regular part of my day.

Goal # 3: Learn something new. As part of this goal, I signed up for a new class on Coursera called The Modern and the Postmodern. I love how it has exposed to me to famous authors that I never got around to reading before this class. The class continues through May, and then I'll need to decide which class to take next.

All in all, am quite proud of my efforts and accomplishments. I hope you had a great month as well. Let's see what March has in store.

March 1, 2013

Journal page

I'm a Kevin Bacon fan, so was delighted to see that he is in the new TV series, The Following. I've watched the first several shows, and while I love the Poe angle, not sure that I love the show. Will see where I net out over the next couple of weeks. In the meanwhile, decided to do a quick sketch in my journal about the show.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and markers.