Saturday, December 22, 2012

16GB with the Happiness Display

As I walked around the store checking out the new Kindles and Nooks, comparing features and screens along with pricing, I felt my heart rate starting to increase. I was dazzled and confused. As I walked briskly between the two large displays, I caught a glimpse at a third display holding yet another Kindle. It was shining under a spot light and boasting a most impressive price tag, surely it must have been the holy grail of e-readers.  I ogled it, flipped through the ‘pages’ and pictured just how much better my life would be if I owned it. I would be happier, certainly.
I have a laptop (two actually but let’s just say one is my husband’s), a basic Kindle and a smart phone. My husband has an iPhone and iPad. We are always within reach of one or all of these things. My laptop has a permanent place on our dinette. Yet I found myself being pulled by the belief that having more or newer would equal better and happier.
via Pinterest
I sometimes get suckered into it all…the glossy ads and ‘best of’ suggestions sent to my inbox urging me to try the latest and greatest e-reader, vodka, cell phone, coffee, jeans, shampoo, mascara…ads designed to convince me that I am unhappy with what I already have but I just don’t know it yet. How could I be so delusional thinking my old mascara is good enough?
But then, I head to the store to buy my little package of happiness only to be confronted by 27 different mascaras. Do I want fuller lashes or longer lashes? Brown, brown-black, black, blackest-black…I’m overwhelmed and I no longer know what I want or even what I like…it’s paralyzing. I finally fold,  grab my precious, life fulfilling wand of magic, pay and as I head home the doubt creeps in…I probably should have gotten the waterproof one. I can’t be happy now.
Often, having too many choices leaves us wondering what we might be missing having not chosen the other. We can’t stay present long enough to enjoy what we have because we are wondering if the sandwich at that other restaurant would have tasted better than the one we got. We forget to be happy with what we have and that what we have is wonderful (be it our sandwich or spouse).

We end up cluttering our lives and minds leaving not a lot of room for contentment for that which we already possess (or even the freedom we have by not possessing so many things). It’s a difficult cycle to slow down, let alone stop. Seeking happiness isn’t the problem, thinking we can buy it or upgrade to it is. In case you're wondering, I didn't buy the Kindle and I'm pretty dang happy about that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Doesn't {but almost} Kill Us...

My last blog post I wrote about my own experience with anorexia. I’ve often referred to this time as surreal, like a story I read or a movie I watched…completely detached, as if I was not the protagonist. I guess it’s sort of a defense mechanism on two fronts. One being the embarrassment of having allowed myself to almost die right in front of my parent’s eyes, with no ‘good reason’…a typical white girl from a typical middle-class family, starving herself to death for what?? Even I didn’t know.
My first full day in Charter North Inpatient Hospital (1987).
The second being my embarrassment over the fact that if you met me you would see there is no physical evidence of this illness. To hear me tell this story in the body I have now doesn’t compute…at least not in my head. It’s easy to disassociate myself because the dots just don’t connect. How could someone who ‘dieted’ from 125 pounds to less than 80 pounds in a matter of a few months now struggle to lose (and keep off) even 5 pounds?

What I have managed to hoard away are snippets of distorted eating and thinking…sneaking food, guarding my plate, trying to stretch calories, abhorring any discussion of my food while I’m eating, and a tendency to eat in a structured way (vegetarian, vegan, raw). Intellectually, I know that I still obsess about food, exercise and my weight. I often wonder if fluctuating between the extremes is really all that much better-as if eating half a bag of Doritos is really a healthy way of thumbing my nose at anorexia or dieting in general (only to later “pay for it” by a day of green smoothies, shakes or all veggies and no carbs).
For years now I’ve claimed to be completely recovered from anorexia, and looking at the scale that would be more than true. But, since part of this disorder is about everything except the weight I can see that I am not truly recovered…not completely.

Like a lot of people I know who battle with eating disorders ranging from bulimia to binge eating, healing the exterior doesn’t always mean the inside is fixed as well. In turning to my yoga mat and meditation I find the bandage being ripped off {again} and the pain being exposed. It hurts, it’s raw…and yes, it might seem easier on the surface to let it hide in the dark corners of mind. But I’m ready to heal…face the intermittent sadness and self-doubt (or hate or loathing) that is truly at the root of all of this.

I’m ready to own the illness that that almost killed me rather than pretend it happened to someone else. Twenty-five years of battling my mind and body is long enough.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Anorexia Had Nothing to do with Photoshop

To be honest, I was never the type of girl to read Cosmo or worry about fashion. I was too busy reading every thing ever written by J.D. Salinger and Stephen King, riding horses and dreaming of competing at the Olympics. Most of my adolescences was spent as a working student at riding stables. My attire consisted of barn clothes for the most part. I cut my hair short since it spent countless hours under a riding helmet and it seemed rather pointless to fight a losing battle against hat-head. I was half tom-boy and half nerd, which was pretty suitable for an introvert like myself.
My horse, Elwood, and me in Redlands, CA. We won High Point that day in Dressage. This was a few months before I had to sell him and move to Alaska when I was 16 years old.
My older sister and I weren't particularly close at the time so I didn't really have anyone to show me the ropes regarding make up and hair or putting together cute outfits. I didn't have a boyfriend in school and therefore didn't attend any dances or social gatherings (did I mention I was a nerd...and an introvert). I also didn't have any weight issues, ate what I felt like eating and didn't do any extra exercises outside of the mandatory P.E. classes and working at the barn.
Me at 17 getting ready for Prom. This was taken after being treated for anorexia. I obviously had reverted to my old non-eating habits.
My experience with anorexia falls outside of what most of society thinks triggers such behavior and outside of what the anti-media community believes contributes to this illness (even though I watched plenty of T.V., looked through my mom's women's magazines and watched movies).  For me, anorexia was about control and later turned to self-punishment and then habit. I didn't want to be a model, I didn't feel the pressure to look a different way, and I honestly did not start off with a distorted body image...I was cognizant that I was "normal", maybe even fit. If anything anorexia was a way for me to rebel and be a non-conformist due to some major changes in my life (we moved from California to Alaska the summer before my senior year of high school). I think it's a dangerous assumption, especially for those directly affected by eating disorders, to view this as strictly a weight issue.Trying to convince the individual (or the world) that photoshopped pictures and under weight models are the root of this disease may totally miss the mark in an attempt to place the blame on 'some one else'.**
Tell me I should eat and I'll tell you I'm full. Tell me I'm too thin and I'll drop a few more pounds, not because I feel fat...but because I can, regardless of what you think. That was my mentality. When I was finally hospitalized (I was 16 years old, 5'4" and 84 pounds) and forced to take in calories, I found something else to water intake. Water has no calories and obviously would have no impact on my weight but I refused to drink it anyway...and often dumped it into the pillow I sat on to protect my bony body from bruising.
Admittedly, after several months of starving myself, I was terrified of gaining the weight back...terrified that I wouldn't be able to stop the weight gain. I clung to my old habits convinced it would provide a cushion for the inevitable weight gain that comes with age. But this was not the root cause of my illness. So, when it came to trying to win this battle and save my life, I was lost and confused. Most of the doctors I spoke with had little to no experience with anorexia and dealt more with drug abuse, teen alcoholism and the occasional schizophrenic. Assuming that I was only concerned with being thinner was the wrong approach. And while I did get a rush from watching the numbers on scale drop it was only because it meant I was the winner, the one in control.
What caused me to get help? I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror...naked...from behind. It was the first time I just saw only an image and not me. What I saw reminded me of the pictures of concentration camp victims...hollowed out buttocks and a spine that was so bony it appeared to be outside of my skin. I was exhausted, scared and although I had often desired to just fall asleep and never wake up, I knew I didn't want to die after all. I asked to go into inpatient care some 350 miles away from my parents and school.

It was not an easy task to recover and it was necessary for me to relearn how to eat. I gained a lot of weight, not just because of my metabolism, but because I forgot how to eat and now knew what it was to 'diet'. Strangely enough, having never had a weight issue before, I soon succumbed to the classic yo-yo dieting, the latest and greatest dieting trends and a 20 year battle of dieting because I had starved myself and forgotten how to eat.
By taking control I really lost control. My body recovered but my mind still hasn't (at least not fully). I find I am more affected by the media now then I ever was when I became anorexic. Affected by the 'new science' behind weight-loss, green smoothies, paleo, the raw food movement, skinny rules, the thousands of diet books, inspirational Facebook posts and Pinterest images depicting the "perfect" body.
I became consumed by food rather than consuming food. It became so much more than fuel for my's the enemy and the comforter, the problem and the solution, the life giver and the life taker and (for many of us) it becomes our all-consuming identity. But in all's just food...calories that keep the living alive and healthy. Food is not meant to be a punishment or reward. It's not something we 'deserve' because we worked out hard or missed a meal the day before. It's sustenance...just like breathing in oxygen (ya know, we don't say we deserve a big ol' healthy inhalation because we've been 'good'). It's a function of nature.
I have an idea that a lot of us are more alike then maybe we imagined...the chronic dieters, the anorexic and the weight-loss maintainer. Our next meal (or lack there of) is always on our mind, calorie content flashes through our mind when we look at the bakery display and in the back of our minds (maybe just for a fleeting moment) we realize that food is dictating our lives instead of fueling our next adventure.
We eat or don't eat for control, we eat or don't eat to hide our emotions and eventually we eat or don't eat because we have forgotten how to feed ourselves. Yet we often prefer to remain in our own little group, unaware of how similar we are...that the overweight person who we view has no self-control is the farthest thing from us, the restrictors...the ones who can turn away even a leaf of lettuce for fear of weight gain. Conversely, the binger or maintainer can hardly fathom that someone who once weighed 84 pounds as an adult can contribute anything to a conversation regarding dieting or the hardships one encounters in maintaining a healthy weight. I think we could learn a lot from each other.
The body is miraculous. If left to it's own devises it figures out how to survive and maintain balance. But we interfere and throw a wrench in the gears. We break this symbiosis and then sometimes spend a lifetime trying to figure out how to fix it again. Just like a drug addict or tweaker...we take it apart, try to put it back together and, when that doesn't work, we go look for the next fix. Maybe one day I will actually learn to get out of my own way rather than buying yet another diet book.

**This is my own opinion based solely on my personal experience with anorexia 20 years ago. There is plenty of research out there to support or deny specific root causes to this illness. What I believe is that the mental illness comes before the pounds come off. Otherwise, everyone who reads Cosmo or looks through a Victoria's Secret catalogue or watches the 100's of movies or TV shows with thin actors and actresses would be anorexic too.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lies My Red Cup Told Me...

I'm in green...obviously thrilled to have my picture taken.
Japan circa 1972
Living on the road has certainly brought some much needed perspective to my life. I grew up in what I felt was a middle class dad was in the Air Force and my mom often worked as a florist where ever we happened to be stationed at the time. At some point during my childhood my dad went to Officer Training School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant which seemed to bring in a little extra money (we got a second car shortly after). But there were always money struggles...and arguments between my parents and fights that ended up with credit cards being cut into tiny pieces. Of course, I also remember standing next to my mom a few days later at the register at JC Penney while she rattled off the credit card number {from memory} to the sales clerk.

We didn't have fancy things...not like my friend Heidi whose mom didn't have to work. They had a formal living room and granola cereal in those skinny little boxes (aka expensive). Obviously I loved to go to Heidi's to spend the night so I could get a taste of the good life. In retrospect I don't think they were much better off than we were...they just had different priorities.

And that's what I'm finding out in this RV on a retirees income, it's about priorities. I've always worked, often times being the bread-winner or having no other income to supplement my own. So this is a new (and uncomfortable) situation for me. I feel guilty about the expensive of some of my necessities {good God, my contact lens solution is how much?!} even though the hubs has no issue with it.

We spent several weeks living/camping in places that were fairly remote with only a small local general store or gas station in which to stock the fridge. I've had to suffer through instant coffee (and struggled with my french press for a week) since these stores tend to not carry K-cups which was, quite possibly, worse than being without Internet and cell phone service for 2 weeks straight! Now, when we are back in 'civilization' we hardly have any restraint when it comes to stocking up in the good stuff {K-cups, goat cheese rolled in exotic spices we've never heard of, handmade crackers, fancy fruits I've never eaten and probably won't like, etc.}.

And Starbucks.

The Holy Grail!
I got a Starbucks Gingerbread Soy Latte yesterday because I had to have it...and I deserved it...and it's delicousness is only available for a limited time only! It's in a red cup for criminy sake and I haven't had a Starbucks in weeks (come on, some people get one every day...or twice a day...don't judge). That first sip was like heaven...the 7th sip was okay...and by the time we got done grocery shopping my lukewarm nectar from the gods was just something else I had to carry (I couldn't throw it away after the big production I made about getting to have a Starbucks, finally).

I did eventually throw it away later that day, dumping the remaining 3/4 of it down the drain and tossing that damned red cup into the trash. Such a waste...a waste of money, time, non-recyclables. But still, a lesson learned. I don't need Starbucks. And I don't need handmade fancy crackers. It's all really a mind and marketing game. Going without for so long we feel like we deserve that stuff. But so far, none of it has really done anything for us that has been so spectacular that we could never live without it again. Of all of the beauty and peace and comfort and happiness that life can bring, especially when out in nature (at least for me), paying for over-priced coffee has proven to be something I can live without {I think}.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy this day...sans Starbucks. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trying to find balance...

Some how I feel like I am more busy now than when I was working. Well, maybe not exactly but I am finding out how much work it is to be a full-time traveler (while taking care of an RV, husband, dog and 2 cats~there's a lot of mapping and cleaning and research involved!). Not that I'm complaining...but I suppose I am giving myself an excuse as to my lack of writing...and working out.

A cairn at Golden Canyon Death Valley National Park
I sure thought it would be easy to start running know, with being in all of these beautiful National Parks and County campgrounds. But it's not. There are a lot of unknowns out there. We are often in places for just a night or two and not all of them appear 'safe' as far as getting out there alone to run a few miles. I've also 'allowed' myself the following excuses:
  • It's too windy. (Las Vegas and Bullhead City)
  • It's too hilly. (Sequoia, California Hot Springs, Panamint Springs)
  • I don't know the area.
  • I have to do laundry. (this is a half a day task in the RV)
  • It's too hot. (Death Valley)
  • It's too cold. (the desert)
  • I'll look stupid in front of the other RV park guests. (yes, I used that one once and ended up walking about 3 miles instead of running)
And while sometimes there are legitimate reasons to skip a run (after all, you have to feel safe and not get lost and running in 45 mph winds with gusts up to 65 mph isn't my idea of a fun run) I've certainly had many opportunities to just get out there and just run. Instead I opted for some hiking and biking, which wasn't all that easy. One of our hikes was over 7 miles and uphill for half of it and another was 3 miles but had a 1000 foot elevation gain within 1.5 miles.

In Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks.
Still, I am starting to get the ache to run...especially when I read some of the blogs I follow, or tweets from runner friends. At this point (2 months since my last run, which was a trail half marathon) I am sure it will feel like starting over...low mileage and struggling with breathing. But I also remember the feeling of accomplishment and the freedom I would feel of just being outside running.

Admittedly, there is still that part of me that feels almost guilted into working out, and perhaps that's why I am resisting. I don't want my body image to dictate whether or not I work out or run. There's a fine line between loving yourself as you are and letting it all go to pot. So I am trying to let the desire return on it's own in some respect. I don't want to become that obsessive compulsive exerciser again...working out because I am less than if I don't.

In the meantime, I'll continue with the hiking and biking with some kettle bell workouts and yoga mixed in for good measure. As far as writing, well I have filled up half a composition book over the course of 30 days since we are so often without Internet that it's the only way to keep up with my thoughts. Hopefully, as we travel to more civilized areas I can turn some of those words into future blog posts. I think there's some good stuff in there!

As I was writing this I came across a couple of interesting articles I felt described what I meant in regard to taking my exercise too far. Here are the links, I highly recommend them!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothing the See Here...Move Along {via the Past}...

Out in the middle of nowhere {okay, it was Coulterville, California~population 201} somewhere during the first few weeks of our grand RV escape, longing for a TV to watch Giants Baseball or even a little NFL, desperate for free wi-fi {who am I kidding, we would have PAID for it} we headed to the nearest town and parked next to this truck.

There were names of soldiers, some POW but mostly KIA, covering nearly every inch of this truck. Very somber to say the least. However, what I saw, right outside of our Jeep's passenger window, where I sat when we pulled next to this truck, literally took my breath away.
PFC. Rachel Bosveld was my sister-in-law (my sister is married to her brother) and I was shocked to not only find her name on this truck, thousands of miles from her home state of Wisconsin, but that her name was one of the first I saw. Tears instantly filled my eyes. Rachel was killed during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station in Iraq. She was just 19 years old. She and I did the music for our siblings' wedding in Alaska just 2 years earlier.

It was such a surreal moment, seeing her name on that truck, one that still twists my gut and dampens my eyes. It makes me wonder what it's all about...this life. Sometimes we think we have so much time that we put things off or take them for granted...always promising (if even just to ourselves) that we will get around to doing {fill in the blank} another day. But we are not promised another day.

Emerald Pool above Vernal Falls rests on a solid sheet of polished granite.
Hiking through Yosemite this past week, feeling overwhelmed by the smallness of our existence while walking across a gigantic slab of granite polished by a glacier some 100 million years ago, I had moments of clarity...that in the grand scheme of things probably 90% of what occupies my mind {worry, fear, longing, blame, past hurts, resentment, regrets, etc.) add no benefit to my life. Not only that, but these thoughts are robbing me of my present life.

I lost count of the number of stairs we climbed up to the top of the falls...but they almost broke us, however our spirit (and ego) pushed us forward.
Our second day in Yosemite, Clark and I climbed to the top of Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail. It's about 1.5 miles one way but has a 1000 foot gain as well. I had misread the guide and was under the impression this was marked an "easy" hike. It was far from easy and at one point we contemplated quitting and turning back. However, once we completed the climb and the equally, if not more, gruelling decent the pain and suffering seemed to evaporate as we celebrated our accomplishment.

A little toast to surviving the hike at Camp Curry.
But that's the key, in a release the pain so we can relish in our ability at having overcome the obstacle. Whether that pain is from something our parents did (or didn't do), something hurtful some guy said to us years ago, some misunderstanding we had with a friend or co-worker that got so blown out of proportion that our Ego won't 'let' us forgive or forget, a test we failed (or class for that matter), a relationship that didn't work (perhaps from our own indiscretions)...whatever the obstacle or challenge that we have had to deal with and lived through demands our celebration.
At some point, after the pity party (which is hopefully short lived) and mourning, we need to let go so we can continue to live in the moment. The past has nothing to offer except the lessons we've already learned...and we need to rehash those about as much as we need to keep tracing our letters in cursive and practising our multiplication tables over and over {ahem, in other words it's time to move on}.

Rachel was 19 when she died thousands of miles from home...almost 9 years ago to the day. As I sit here at my comfortable desk, sipping a lovely Petite Syrah, watching the San Francisco Giant clench their spot in the World Series I wonder what her life was like, and what would/could have been. I wonder if she had the chance to love someone with all of her heart, if she stopped and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her face or laughed when she got caught in a sudden downpour. I hope so...I hope she enjoyed every moment she was given, even the hard ones...and I hope you do too.

Living Off the Grid...

We left our "home" 18 days ago but it seems like so much more time has passed. Perhaps it's been from the lack of cell and Internet access for most of these days. Our first stop was Bodega Bay, which was beautiful since the weather gods graced us with sunshine and very little fog. I was also fortunate to have a full day to myself since the hubby went golfing with a friend at the little 9-hole golf course he partially owns.

At Jenner, writting in my journal.
We eventually made our way to first visit to America's FIRST National Park, but hopefully not my last. As soon as we made the turn into Yosemite Valley I was overwhelmed. I admit, my first thought was that it all seemed so fake. I had not idea that everything was so big and that all of the recognizible features appeared so close together. I mean, you can see El Capitan and Half Dome at the same time!

From Glacier Point Road, the classic "tunnel view" of Yosemite Valley.
We spent Monday through Saturday in the park, dry-camping in Upper Pines (literally, since we failed to fill up our fresh water tank when we first arrived). The beauty of staying in the valley is the fact that one can easily bicycle around the entire loop without even breaking a sweat (well, at least in October when the weather is mild). We biked every single day...yes, even Clark~the anti-exerciser.

Our bikes in the valley's meadow.
Clark with Half Dome hovering over his head.
A friendly raven hanging out on Clark's bike (hoping we drop a cracker).
The other beautiful thing about Yosemite was that we were completely off-the-grid as far as cell and Internet. There was a moment of panic to be sure...but that soon passed and I turned to my journal to write my thoughts and "ah-ha" moments. I also had downloaded several books onto my Kindle prior to losing our Wi-fi (just in case) and ended up reading a few books between biking, hiking and acting like a tourist.

We felt it necessary to enjoy a cocktail at the matter the $25 price tag (for one drink a piece!).
It turns out I didn't miss the Internet as much as I had first thought. I'm sure my Klout score has dropped and I haven't been on Twitter in a month but I'm not all that concerned any more. A few friends found it hard to have me out of the loop...but maybe sometimes it's good to not have that go-to person to vent to in the heat of the moment. Sometimes it's best to let things sink in, learn to deal with the angst that comes on so suddenly due to short fuses or minor irritations so that eventually {maybe} we can stop and realize that these things are often really insignificant in the long run.

The leaves changing colors in Yosemite Valley.
Yes, there was plenty of time to be contemplative and the enormity of the cliffs lent to the realization that not every little thing that happens to us is worth hours of anxiety and a rehashing of wrong doings. That energy can be better spent on other things...reflection, reading, writing, sleeping, smiling, walking or simply looking at the magnificence of this life we've been given.

A rainbow at Vernal Falls.

Climbers on El Capitan...watching them reminded me of the smallness of my own obstacles.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Things I learned by judging others...

We all do it...we compare and contrast, criticise and judge. Our society seems to promote it given all of the reality TV shows like X Factor, America's Top Model, The Bachelor and the many others that seem to be taking over our prime time TV slots. "People Watching" (and websites like The People of Walmart) is past-time many of us enjoy for the sheer entertainment value but {generally} without any real underlying mean-spiritedness intended. Well, truth be told, I think most of us know it's not exactly nice is hard to resist.

We try to justify some of this because we don't really know those people and/or they are kinda putting themselves out there for our scrutiny (sorry Jersey Shore cast...but you asked for it). But the repercussions of our judgemental nature come to light when it hits closer to home, like when we catch ourselves judging our friend's behavior or choice in clothes/car/mate/hair color, especially when it's done in a negative way. Sometimes we even view other's Facebook posts as ego-centric and self-serving (ummm,'s their personal wall, what should they post about?). We even catch ourselves discrediting another's accomplishment by saying things like "yes, but..." (i.e. "Yes she ran a marathon but did you see how slow it was??").

I'm guilty. I did do all of this and more. I'd really like to say I am beyond judging others...that somewhere along the way between meditation and yoga and running and growing and reading and learning that I've become secure enough with myself that the need or desire or that judgemental mechanism inside of me has been removed. But it's still there and rather than dwell on how bad of a person I am I've decide to take a deeper look at myself and find a lesson in it all.

O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

You see, most of the time, when I catch myself judging someone I can trace it back to jealousy, insecurity or even a fault in myself that I see reflected back from someone else's behavior. The easiest for me to identify is when I say something like '(insert a beautiful famous person's name here) isn't really all that pretty' (I said this last night about Britney Spears and then had to correct myself later, she is beautiful). I know that the source of this is my own insecurity. It's more of a reflection of my own self-doubt than of someone else's beauty and actually makes me less attractive inside (which really is all that matters anyway, right?).

Take that to the next level and when I find myself criticizing (mentally or to another friend~call it gossiping or it's heavily veiled nom de plume, 'venting') a girl friend who just lost 20 pounds or finds herself in a wonderful and healthy relationship I can pretty much bet that my own insecurities and jealousies are screaming out for attention...(and it's up to me to decide if they get it).
It is never wise to seek or wish for another's misfortune. If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang. ~Charley Reese

But I also found that when a friend's behavior kinda rubs me the wrong way it's often an indicator that we share a trait that I don't particularly care for in myself. Maybe I don't like how much so-and-so gossips, or brags, or plays victim, or seeks attention, or meddles into every one's business. But if I sit there quietly and ask myself why it bothers me so much (especially when it doesn't really even affect me) the answer may be hard to swallow. It's as if a mirror is being held up to my own face.
 It's the ultimate in deflecting because of course, I can claim they are much worse than me. I might even use the words 'well at least I don't...' or 'I may be ____ but at least I'm not that ____'. What 'we' (because I don't think I'm alone here) are really pushing is the idea that we are the lessor of two evils (well, if you don't count the shit talking we're doing).

One of the most important things I learned from judging others was that it wasn't them that needed to change. It was me. I was the one judging  (and if they were doing the same that was their business) but for my own growth (and sanity) it was important for me to learn and at least try to change. My jealously was making me less...not because their success was stealing my joy or sucking up all of the goodness or beauty available in the world, but by making me into that girl...the one who thought that knocking someone else down would somehow lift me up.

There's enough love and beauty in the world for all of us's an endless supply, which means we don't have to "take" it from one person and give it to another. When I see a beautiful flower it doesn't mean that some other flower shrivels up a little and becomes a sacrafice to the other's beauty. Same with people...whether it's inner or outer beauty there is plenty to go around (not to mention it already exists in each and every one of us...though we often can't see it through our green-eyed veil). 

There's a beautiful piece from Elephant Journal I came across this morning that speaks about this...I hope you take a moment to read it here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What we did forget...

I'm not the type of blogger {or person} to post timely pieces about current events or holidays or even days of remembrance. My dad died on October 23, 3009...a date I will never forget but also a date I have not been compelled to mark in my blog with yearly posts marking the 'anniversary' of his death. But today, September 11th, I have the urge to say something...I feel it in my bones.

Eleven years ago, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, thousands of lives were lost, husbands, wives, children, mom, dads, sisters and brothers...white people and black and everything in between. Some were Christians and some were atheists...and some, like me, were confused in their beliefs. I'm sure of the thousands who perished there were some who were suffering from depression or trying to figure out how to leave their spouse or maybe even how to ask that pretty girl they see every morning in the coffee shop out for a date. And then there were the heroes...the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the regular, everyday people who risked or lost their lives to help someone else live.

An unfathomable amount of loss and grief, impossible to express in words, was felt by people in my country, the United States, as well as across the world. To this day, like many of you, I find myself in tears whenever I think about that day 11 years ago.

But my tears aren't just about the horrendous acts and loss of lives or even about the incredible sacrifices made by the men and women who gave everything, even the precious time they could have spent with their own families, for people they had never met...and never even knew their names. I cannot imagine...I cannot comprehend the amount of hate and love that was expressed that day, practically at the same time.

My tears are also for what has become of these past eleven years. I live in a nation divided. Maybe it's always been that way and I am just now old enough and involved enough to understand it. It's hard to say declare that I live in a nation where my fellow Americans vocalize not only their hatred toward other nations {not that this is acceptable} but also for each other.

I remember that first week after the Towers came down...the kindness and compassion that was expressed every where I went. People were nicer, held the door open, let you go first, wished you a good day, friends hugged hello and good bye and we tolerated each others differences because we saw, first hand, what happens when hate and fear and intolerance takes over. And I scan past all of the Facebook posts stating Never Forget I can't help wanting to scream "But we already have...we already did...".

Maybe we haven't forgotten that the Towers fell or that Bin Laden was the source of evil {which somehow translated into hating all Muslims and anyone else who might wear a turban} but we've forgotten the bigger, more important, lesson that we could have learned if only we didn't always feel the need to be right all of the time.

Someone out there hates gays and someone else hates the Jews and blacks. Another person thinks the atheists need to vacate this country while another is planning to burn down yet another mosque. There's a person posting a defamatory picture on Facebook of someone they have never met or spoken to...and another is posting a quote from the Bible explaining how it is someone else is going to burn in Hell because they hold different beliefs. The Republicans hate the Democrats so much that our country can't move forward. And the Democrats hate the Republicans so much that they get their feelings hurt and claim that they are all bullies who hate the poor.

We haven't forgotten the brick and mortar that fell that day. We haven't forgotten where we were and how helpless most of us felt. But we have forgotten, especially in light of our nation's upcoming elections, that we are one family, that we all want the same be happy, to have enough money to pay the bills or send the kids to college, to have fresh air to breath and beautiful parks to play in, to be safe, to be healthy, to be able to get help when we need it (whether that means a cop, a fireman or a doctor, we want to know someone cares enough to save us and that we are worthy enough simply by human beings to be saved)...we want to be loved, to be respected, to be treated kindly...

We aren't so different. But even with our few differences we will all end up in the same place...our eyes will close, our breath will stop, our skin cool and our body will be consumed by the earth. Our loved ones will cry and miss us, whether we were poor or rich, straight or gay, Muslim or Mormon, democrat or republican. Our legacy will be dictated by our past actions...words and deeds that touched another human being...that helped another in some way by lifting them up or that destroyed some one's spirit or bred intolerance and hate all for the sake of being right.

We cannot go unchanged in this world but we can become more present in how we are being changed. We can recognize the hardening of our hearts and the corruption of our souls when we treat others in a way we would never tolerate being treated by someone else. It's more than being patriotic and lowering our flags every September's being human

Maybe, on this anniversary of 9/11 you flew your flag at half-mast and hugged your kids a little harder. Maybe you waved that lady at the 4-way stop to go ahead...or maybe you remembered, with tears in your eyes, all of the fallen heroes and innocent civilians who died because of someone else's hate. But will you remember it tomorrow on 9/12 or 3 months from now? Or will it be back to 'normal'...the back stabbing in the office, the gossip, the fear-mongering, the trash talking and hate spewing...


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just 2 Females...Alone...

So, it started with an online coupon offer for 50% off of the race entry for the Dirt Inspires Half-Marathon in Aptos. I put the call out to friends on Facebook to see who would like to take advantage of the savings...and split the cost of gas and room in the Santa Cruz area. As luck would have it, my friend Lauren, who had publicly announced her goal to do a 5K every month this year, answered the call. And, as luck would have it, by the time I got around to registering, the coupon offer was full.

Well, Lauren was already registered for the 8 miler so I sucked it up and paid full price for my entry and began the search for a cheap reasonably priced hotel for us to share. After reading Yelp reviews and narrowing down the search to hotels that didn't require a 2-night minimum stay I sent a link to Lauren and asked what she thought of Pelican Point Inn. Granted, looking at the pictures and room layouts I was a bit worried that she may think I was trying to whisk her away to some romantic beach front get-away but, they did offer 2 beds (rather than sharing one king) and they had only one room available for the Saturday night we needed. Little did I know she didn't even look at the link when she sent back the "okay".


I'll admit, the week prior to the race I was trying to back out of it...but Lauren was on a mission and had to get a 5K+ in before the end of the month. Plus, the inn already had my credit card number so it's not like I was going to save any money by not going. Saturday morning afternoon late afternoon {ahem} we headed to our lovely little inn armed with freshly made smoothies {thanks Lauren} and 90's tunes. Somewhere in Milpitas we missed an exit (see Getting Lost blog entry) and took advantage of this "accidental adventure" by getting Starbucks.

Then, on the dreaded Highway 17, we came to stand still. Up ahead...a Car-B-Q keeping us from our beachy destination {and a damned cocktail}. Slowly we inched towards Santa Cruz...passed a burned out VW Van (how sad!!) and drove towards the smell of salt water to our charming sanctuary...that strangely enough, resembled a MOTEL. A motel next to a taquaria...

Umm, there must be some mistake. The pictures on line looked like a little bed-n-breakfast kind of place...cutesy and quaint. was already past 7pm and we weren't about to head home so we checked the office...which was closed. I called the number taped to the door and a nice lady, who apparently had a hard time hearing me after I spelled my name 4 times and finally yelled into the phone "There are no men with us...just two females...alone" (smart, right??), told me we must be in room #4 and the key was {she gave me the secret location} and to have a good night.

Bizarre...there's no other way to describe the room...and really, that may be too soft of a word. The walls were barren except for the garish high gloss paint. The "second bed" was an old hospital roll-away...and it was in the living room...near the kitchenette. The furniture was mismatched and just kind of odd. There was a big empty shelf-less bookshelf acting as a "closet" near the door and another empty bookshelf acting as a headboard for the single bed. The bedroom was even creepier due to the lack of pictures. Strange cornice window treatments adorned the 2 windows and looked completely out of place. But the kitchenette and bathroom were well appointed with new appliances and granite counters.

Santa Cruz Harbour Beach
A quick search online confirmed there was no vacancy anywhere nearby...and besides, I would be charged for the room anyway, so we decided to make the most of it. We headed down the street to find some dinner and low-and-behold, the beach was literally right around the corner. We dined at The Crow's Nest, upstairs at the bar and grill, and had a great meal watching the sunset over the water. Amazing location and the bartender made me my first ever Classic Daiquiri {thanks Pink of Perfection}.

Classic Daiquiri at The Crow's Nest
Although we were a little shocked with our accommodations, the location was pretty awesome. About a block away was the best liquor store ever that was stocked full of every alcohol I've never even heard well as fancy popcorn. But, we were there only for water, coconut water and gum...staying hydrated for the big run the next morning.

After the best night of sleep in a long time (dang that little hospital bed was comfy) Lauren (who didn't sleep) and I headed to Aptos grabbing some coffee and oatmeal at the Starbucks in town and on to The Forest of Nisene Mark State Park for the race. Beautiful weather and scenery...a run on a pine needle covered was heaven. Well, except for the huge hills and technical trails along the way.

One of the four stream crossings during the Dirt Inspired Half-Marathon.
It really was a fantastic crossings and towering sunglasses needed on this run! I ended up running the last half of the race with 2 local ladies (I think it was Karen and Kristine) who kept me motivated and encouraged me to keep going. I did suffer some Achilles cramping in my right leg and walked for a few minutes near mile 11 but I caught up with the ladies and we finished strong (thanks for the downhill finish Dirt Inspires!!).

Lauren had finished her 8 miles ahead of me so we met back up and headed to Zachary's for a huge celebratory meal and then went back to the beach for a little recovery before heading home. Yes, we got a little turned around again on the way home...and yes, it resulted in Starbucks again...don't judge.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Getting Lost...

via Facebook
My friend Lauren likes to call getting lost an "accidental adventure". My friend Coleen posted the above image on my Facebook wall after we managed to get lost for the fourth time in a row during our last Weekend Sherpa Adventure to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Along Point Reyes National Seashore.
It seems to be something that just happens, even in this day and age of GPS and map quest, or perhaps because of these conveniences (I swear my GPS has taken me to the craziest places, like dirt roads made for ATVs or mountain bikes). I remember using those impossible-to-refold maps {one for every state} to navigate a trip from Warner Robbins, Georgia to Stroudsburg, dad at the controls of his brand new 1984 Camaro and me (all of 13 years old) making sure we made it to Grammy's house so my dad would be proud of my awesome navigation skills. Now, I not only print out mapquest or Google map directions, but then also use my phone's navigation app, and still manage to get turned around.

My Grammy Weber {RIP}
But, like Lauren says, and like Coleen and I have done, we make the most of these accidental adventures...or at least use them as an excuse to stop for a coffee. Hmmm, I wonder if Starbucks might be behind all of this? I'm not sure that the hubby will be as amused as Coleen and Lauren when IF I get us lost while he's behind the wheel of our 32 foot RV that's also towing a's not so easy to turn that thing around or drive through narrow streets when GPS has us taking some odd 'shortcut'. We've already had to disconnect the Jeep once to make a u-turn on a random dirt road my navigation app told us would end up at our intended campground. It didn't...and I swear I heard banjo music playing...

So last week, after taking the long-way (I won't say lost because the road eventually did lead us to the right place), Coleen and I were treated to quite possibly the best hike ever. Being a bit worried that we might be disappointed after the gorgeous hike to Stinson Beach the week prior, we almost didn't want to attempt any new hikes. But, once again, Weekend Sherpa came through with this fabulous suggestion. And this is what we were treated to:

Alamere Falls...yes, a waterfall ON the beach!
I'm a sucker for the beach...and you can understand the problem with this setting...where to we eat lunch? Facing the waterfall or the ocean?

A blend of forest, beach, ocean vistas, lakes waterfalls and coastal breezes.

I don't know if Coleen and I will have time for any more adventures. She is currently in Kauai running a half-marathon with Team-in-Training and I have four weeks before we hit the road (with two dental appointments, a camping trip to Ano Nuevo and Butano State Parks planned as well as my husband's retirement party). We've made some great memories and taken a ton of pictures. I've certainly enjoyed every second I've been able to spend with her and consider her to be one of my closest and best friends.
We're so dang cute!

Our new friend.

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