Wednesday List #8 – Books on the Horizon

I have been reading a lot in the last few months, and there are some interesting books on my horizon.

  1. The Naked Now by Richard Rohr: I just finished reading this. I had never read this author before, but I am now a fan. He writes about faith not being an issue of black and white or right and wrong or judgment. It’s more about seeing and experiencing God in the daily world. I don’t know that I understand or agree with everything he says, but I do appreciate his general message, and I underlined throughout the book like crazy.
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I am reading this now. It’s about a woman’s trek on the Pacific Coast Trail in an effort to find herself. Lost woman on a hike? Yes, I will happily ready that book. I may have a Pacific Coast Trail hike in my future as a result!
  3. Do Life by Ben Davis: I am also reading this now because Ben Davis is coming to Book People this Saturday. I have been following Ben’s blog for a while. He was obese until four or five years ago when he took up running. He started bit by bit taking control of his life, and now he runs marathons and has even done two Ironmans. He still struggles with food and training at times, which I can appreciate. He’s got a great story. I’m excited to meet the guy and join him for a run.
  4. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen: I love memoir. This one is a woman’s look at her past, present and future and comments on marriage, girlfriends, bodies and more. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, but I haven’t read her work before. I think it’ll be good.
  5. Going Clear by Lawrence Wright: I came across this book when I was browsing Book People’s website about the Ben Davis event. Lawrence Wright was recently at Book People talking about his writing on Scientology and Hollywood. I’m curious about Scientology, not for myself but so that I understand what’s happening in the movie world that I so love. 

So this is my list right now. I need to try to not buy any more for a while, but books are addictive.

What are you reading?

Time is Flying By!

I’m amazed that it’s January 29. I could have sworn I was fretting about New Years just yesterday, and suddenly we are at the end of January? How did that happen?

I have to admit that it’s been a good month. I’ve been working, but not too much. I’ve be training well. I’ve also had a bit of fun.

For example, this weekend I went to Trapeze Austin with the Coeur d’Alene girls. Erin talked us into the group outing, and I had my doubts about whether I would be able to do anything at all associated with trapeze. More than that, I was certain I would not be able to participate. I have a fear of heights. I don’t like rides or roller coasters or anything that takes me up in the air. I prefer my feet to be planted firmly on the ground, though I make exceptions for cycling. It’s all scary stuff – being high up and not having control.  But I did it. I did it quite well actually. And I had a ridiculous amount of fun trying something new and proving myself wrong.

I have two videos of my performance. The first is of my first attempt, which was by no means perfect, but I love the video because I can hear my friends cheering for me. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty getting the first one to load, so I can’t share it with you.

This video is of my second attempt. It’s not perfect in that I let go of my arms a bit late, but it’s pretty darn good, and again, I can hear my friends rooting for me.

It means a great deal to me to have my friends believe in me. I’m so grateful that these girls believed I could do this and rallied behind me until I did.

Wednesday List #7 – Training Goals for 2013

I’m starting a new triathlon training effort with a new coach. Her name is Natasha van der Merwe. She is a professional triathlete and a friend, and I’ve been talking to her for more than a year now about working with her. I was working with her a bit before heading to Portland, and now I’m picking it back up for real. We start next week, and I’m excited. I have some goals for the new training year.

  1. Race a 5:11 Marathon. I’ll be running the Austin Marathon in February and the Barcelona Marathon in May. I’m not terribly concerned about my Austin time, but I do have a time goal for Barcelona. Basically, I want to beat the time Erin and I did in New York in 2010, which was 5:12.
  2. Do a Good Half. I will be racing Ironman 70.3 St. George on May 4. Last year, I raced a half Ironman distance in Portland to tune up for the full. This year, I’ll be heading to Utah for a new course – a tough one. My goal for the half simply is to feel good the whole way through, which essentially means being well trained and not failing on my nutrition, as I did in Portland.
  3. Do a 15:30 Full.  Natasha trains on the TriDot System. She’ll be training me on that same system. It’s a numbers system. You feed it numbers, and it spits numbers back to you. You do workouts based on speed and heart rate, and you periodically do assessment testing. She has done quite well with it, and since my training has never been terribly scientific, I’m looking forward to a new approach and, hopefully, an improved time. The goal is 15:30, which is about 50 minutes off my best time. With a solid effort on the bike and a continuous run, I think I can do that.
For the next six months, you’ll be hearing a lot about training. It’s that season, and I need the distraction. 
Wish me luck!

Wednesday List #6 – New Experiences

I have been busy at work and not feeling terribly well, so my writing dropped off for a bit. But I’m back now with another list. I’m thinking about a season of new experiences.

  1. Nuns: On Monday night, I drove down to San Antonio to have dinner with one of the women I met at the Whidbey program. She lives in Missouri but was visiting San Antonio, so I happily accepted the invitation to drive down to connect for a bit. Seeing her was wonderful. It was also a pleasure to meet the nuns who have opened their home to her. She’s been writing about the sisters in her organization, and I got to hear some of that writing on the island, so it was a real gift to meet a couple of the women behind the writing.
  2. Ballet: Yesterday, I went to my first ever ballet class. The class is called Absolute Beginning Ballet, and it was perfect. We learned a few positions and steps and even did them to music a bit. Already, I think I would watch ballet differently, with a little more knowledge and insight. I’m excited about this class and the possibility of continuing through the beginning adult series.
  3. Go Dance: Speaking of dance, my friend Heather invited me to an intro night dance class at the studio where she’s been taking classes. We learned the two-step, some kind of swing, and a type of salsa. It was hard for me, but still fun, so I signed up for their introductory special of one month of unlimited classes and a few private lessons. I’ll start that in February. Between ballet and this, I may become a dancer yet!
  4. Spain: I’ve been emailing back and forth with Erin about my Spain visit. I have a feeling she’s going to show me things I wouldn’t even know to ask about. Today, she mentioned maybe visiting Portugal while I’m there. Take in another country on that trip? Well, sure! I’m up for anything!
  5. Spanish: Speaking of Spain, one of the items on my bucket list is to learn Spanish. Now would be a good time, wouldn’t it? I’m looking at programs I can purchase, like Rosetta Stone, and also researching local classes. Hopefully, by the weekend, I will have resolved in my brain which way to go.
  6. Trapeze: My friend Erin who did Coeur d’Alene with me in 2008 has rallied me and the other Coeur d’Alene girls to try a trapeze class with her. We’re going on Sunday, January 27. I’m not sure that I will mix well with the trapeze world, but I’m willing to give it a try.
  7. Friday Night Writes: I’m starting a writing circle at my house. We’ll meet the second Friday of each month from 7 to 10 in the evening. We’ll do a couple of timed prompts, share them as we wish, and then work on our own projects. I have a couple of friends committed to doing this with me, and I have room for a couple more. I’m super excited to have a writing circle. I’ve wanted one for quite some time.

That’s it for now. Are you trying new things? Have you discovered anything fun I might enjoy?

I Realized Something.

I haven’t been to the chiropractor for a couple of months. Usually, I go weekly. Often, I’m struggling through the weekend waiting for a chance to go in on Monday morning. But I haven’t been going in a while. I haven’t even thought about it. I haven’t needed it. Apparently, some of the stress on my body has subsided. I’m attributing that reduction in stress to three things.

First, for the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about a move. I even tried a move this summer when I spent some extended time in Portland. Change is hard, and the steps towards that change were exciting but also hard. I think that took a toll on my body – perhaps more of a toll than I realized. For a couple of months now, it’s been becoming more and more clear to me that I’m not going anywhere. I think that possibility being taken off the table has affected me. My brain and my heart are struggling with the closing of that particular door — struggling with it and even trying to fight it. But I think my body is telling me that it’s doing well.

Second, I’ve been eating differently for a few months now. I’ve gotten a bit leaner by eating simply and more often. A smoothie for breakfast. Black beans and vegetables for lunch. String cheese, hummus, and fruit as snacks. Some Tofurky, avocado and maybe pasta for dinner. I still eat out and eat desserts, but not as often. Overall, I’m just being more mindful about what I consume, and that’s translated into a little weight loss, just a few pounds, and my body changing. My clothes fit differently. Maybe being healthier overall has reduced some of the stress on my system.

Third, I think all of the writing I’ve been doing has helped. For the last two months, I’ve been writing more here and in my journal, and I’ve been working on the book project that I started on Whidbey Island. I’m writing daily, and writing calms my spirit. Maybe it helps calm my body too.

Overall, I’m sleeping pretty well and feeling good physically, which is a great thing because this week kicks off my training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene.

I’ve said before that there are things in my life that are not as I hoped they would be. Those things were imposed on me. I didn’t choose them. And as much as I resent where I am sometimes, maybe this whole “feeling good when I didn’t expect it” thing should serve as another reminder to me that life is – as my friend Maria likes to say – wise. Life is wise.

Wednesday List #5 – Gratitudes

Over lunch today, I was reminded that, rather than focus on what’s missing or imperfect in my world, I should be grateful for the good things. I thought that a good reminder, so it became the subject of my list for today.

Things for which I am immensely grateful right now:

  1. Mom. A dear friend is in the process of losing her mom to cancer. I have my mom. We have our struggles. Our relationship isn’t perfect. We hurt each other sometimes. Still, I know she loves me, and she knows I love her. I am lucky to have her.
  2. Bread and Butter. I woke up this morning more than once to my two little beggars. After they ate for probably the fifth time this morning, Bread sat with me so I could rub his chest and kiss his face, which I did for at least ten minutes. I love that he lets me love on him. I love him. And Butter, too. They keep my heart full.
  3. My home. A friend’s friend lost her home over the weekend. I’m grateful that I have my home and that I have a home that I love so completely. It’s a simple and inviting space. It’s even sweeter now that I have a bathroom in my bedroom and now that I’ve done so much organizing.
  4. My job. For the last year and a half, I’ve been really happy at work as a lawyer. Previously, I’ve had seasons of hating what I do, but now is not one of them. I’m enjoying my work. Perhaps more importantly, I’m enjoying my work environment. I love the people I get to work with every day.
  5. Kelly. Speaking of people I love at work, my friend Kelly came by this morning to talk. She had a question for me, and, through her question and the manner in which she asked it, she invited genuine and open conversation, which I appreciate. It’s easy sometimes to stay on the surface with people. I appreciate that Kelly took a chance to go a little deeper. She encourages me to do the same.

On this first Wednesday of 2013, I hope you find yourself deep in gratitude even if things are not exactly as you would like for them to be.

Happy Wednesday to you.

Setting the Tone.

I’m a big believer in the power of New Year’s Day. I believe it sets the tone for the year – who you are with, what you are doing, and how you feel. I tried not to focus on that too much this year because I was spending New Year’s Eve at home alone, rather than in California where I really wanted to be. But looking back on today, I realize that I set a damn good tone for the coming year.

I got up early this morning and met Kerry and Jenny on the trails for a run. The three of us ran the five-mile loop on Lady Bird Lake. Then Jenny and I ran the three-mile loop. I had hoped we would run the seven-mile loop, so I was pleasantly surprised to actually run more than planned. That doesn’t happen very often.

After running, I cleaned up at the gym and went to see “Argo” at the Violet Crown. I went alone. It was a 10:25 a.m. movie, so the theater wasn’t terribly full, and I didn’t have to sit near any of the many couples in the theater. I enjoyed the avocado spring rolls and a warm cup of coffee.  The movie was fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time even though I knew how it ended. And I loved the scene where Ben Affleck’s character went to see his estranged wife. I loved what happened between them. Just loved it.

After the movie, I decided to call my mom on a whim to see if she’d meet me at the LBJ Library and Museum to see the new permanent exhibit. It opened on December 22, and I’ve been wanting to go. I thought I might go last week, but work was busy. Mom came, and she brought my niece with her. Bonus! We had a wonderful time walking through the exhibit. I especially enjoyed listening to the recorded phone calls between President Johnson and others made available throughout the exhibit.

When we left the museum, we decided to get some food. I took Mom and Armineh to Mother’s Cafe, which I love. Armineh and I talked movies, and we all laughed a good bit. I so love that kid, and I love how joyful my mom is around her.

After the meal, we walked across the street for some gelato. I had mango and coconut, two of my favorites.

While we were enjoying our gelato, I got an email from my boss about the brief I turned in to him yesterday. He praised my work, not just to me, but to my co-counsel and the client. I work hard, and I worked hard this holiday weekend to get the draft written. I so appreciate his appreciation for my effort and my work product. In the professional world especially, compliments mean the world to me.

After gelato, we drove Armineh home. I drove Mom back to her car at the library, and I came home.

At home, I wrote in my journal and read a memoir. Now I’m writing. When I’m done, I’ll head to bed for a little Words With Friends and hopefully some good sleep.

Running, a movie, a museum, a shared meal, an indulgence with two people I love, praise from my boss, writing, reading and time for reflection. All in all, I’d say I had an amazing day.

Happy New Year’s to me. And to you, too.

Out With The Old.

After a long day at work – yes, I worked today – I went by my parents’ place to hang out with them for a bit before coming home. I had a nice time. I played Backgammon with my dad while my mom watched. Then I came home and did the things I wanted to do to get my house and my heart ready for 2013.

I want the new year to be about joy. I think I’m a pretty joyful person most of the time. I try not to be angry and bitter. I try not to bring anyone down when I’m down. I try to surround myself with love and light and hope and joy. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I want to be joyful all the time, regardless of my circumstances

To that end, my theme for 2013 is joy. Everything I do needs to be about joy. The decisions I make, the way I spend my time, the people I welcome into my world — they all need to point me towards joy. Out with the old, and in with the joyful new. Do you hear me, 2013? That’s where you and I are headed.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful new year. Much love – and joy – to you.