Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Love you anyway...

I think that more than anything, what people want out of their lives is acceptance.

We're all a bit crazy, some of us more so than others. But life is somehow okay (and in fact really great) if we're surrounded by people who love us.

What's the old saying? True friends know who you are, but love you anyway.

Thank god for them.

Art at Grandma's

Yesterday was gorgeous, so I took the opportunity to go see my downtown clients and check out the AISD Student Art Show at 111 Congress. Looking at student artwork is so much fun. Some pieces are inspiring, some are hilarious, and many make you tilt your head and just go "hmmmm." I walked away from the show in the best mood, smile planted firmly on my face.

I am tempted to return with a camera to snap photos of my favorite pieces. One was a self portrait - done in Frida Kahlo style - of a boy and two panda bears. The expressions on the pandas' faces were priceless. Another was a cosmic scene with a silver abominable snowman type meteor thing. It had me in stitches. Yet another was a barnyard scene, where everything was labeled, including the pig and the "mud for pig." I'm thinking you have to see it to get it, but this piece just warmed my heart. Oh, and then there was the self portrait with what looked like a dead Homer Simpson in the background. That one was, um, interesting.

AISD definitely has some talented kids. It was so cool to see the pieces done in the styles of Kandinsky, Miro, Mondrian, Escher, Kahlo, Seurat, Monet, Cezanne, etc... Sure, I can name drop famous artists all day - but that's probably more of an ego thing to make up for the fact that I have no artistic ability. However, I do think it would be so cool to be an art teacher.

So, speaking of student art... I created this drawing/painting/something when I was in elementary school. It was a self portrait of me standing in a field of flowers. My grandmother framed it and hung it in her bathroom, where she would see it all the time. When she died, my family was cleaning her place and I remember standing and looking at my piece, hanging on the wall. Bless her heart, it was hung upside down! I'm not sure I had ever realized it! I guess that goes to show how fabulous of an artist I am. :) But my grandma, she loved me so much that she hung something so hideous you couldn't tell which way was "up" in one of the most prominent places in her apartment.

My Grandma was one of my best friends. She was my greatest advocate, supporter and my biggest fan. I miss her something fierce, but I feel lucky to have memories like this to cherish forever. Even if they are of my student artwork hanging upside down on her walls. For some reason, that makes it all the more special for me.

I hope the artwork hanging at 111 Congress will soon hang on the walls of relatives who love the artists as much as my Grandma loved me.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Rant starts... now.

People. (Friends.) You are training for an Ironman. You are doing something incredible. The fact that you are out there, conquering the miles, conquering the distance, muscling through this both physically and mentally.... THAT is amazing.

Who cares what place you finish. Who cares what the clock says at the end. What does any of that matter, really? Does the person who finishes at the top feel that much differently than the person who finishes last? I would doubt it... I bet he/she has the same insecurities, doubts, regrets.... the "I should have done this" or "I still suck!" mentality.

I've never completed an Ironman. So who am I to say. But I remember how much FUN I had when I did my first marathon. I didn't care that I was slow. I didn't care that I walked half the race. I didn't care that 90% of the people I trained with beat me. I took on that challenge, conquered it, and I was PROUD of myself. I want that for Ironman. I want that for you, too!!!

(I'm going to do my best to practice what I preach here.)

Okay, rant.... Done!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Club With Myself

I want to start a book club, but I know full well that adding one more thing to my plate at the moment would be a silly thing to do. So instead of being accountable to other people, and reading books I might not want to read, I'm participating in a book club with myself. Pretty cool, huh?

You know what else is cool? Flagging pages with post it notes. I'm reading "As Time Goes By" by Abigail Trafford. I'd heard her on NPR a year or so ago, so I was interested to see a new book by her while I was perusing the library. It certainly was not what I was expecting - the premise is a discussion about what happens to people regarding love and marriage post 50 years old - but it is fascinating none the less. As we live longer, in a society with different expectations and standards, the ideas behind marriage and partnership are changing. The aim of this book is to help people navigate romance and love later in life.

I was going to write about the things I've flagged, but I've since thought better of it. However, I will share one part that I found very interesting:

The socio-emotional selectivity theory of aging.
Basically, people are more selective with their social networks as they age. Networks are smaller, but more meaningful and more stable. People need about 10 people in their core group (family, friends, etc.) If you get down to 3, you may become too emotionally isolated. Some couples have too much togetherness, thus the balance between intimacy and independence is out of whack. So, you have to make an effort to hone your circle. You cannot have one person be all things; you need different people to fulfill different needs, to confer social status and offer acceptance. Also, single people often use their intimate circle of friends as their "marriage." They become more likely to nurture this circle throughout the different chapters of life, and cherish their strong social network.

I completely agree with this. When I was a kid, my mom's mission was to ensure that I had a life filled with friends and activities. (She said recently that she never anticipated quite how much I would take this on!) I'm so thankful for my core group - I really would be lost without them. Each person fulfills a different need, offers different perspectives and elevates the quality of my life.

Anyway, I'll be happy to share other parts of the book offline. I definitely recommend it! Perhaps when my schedule calms down eventually, I might expand my book club to more than just one member. You gotta provide your own post-its, though!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ah, to be 16 again

I found this picture yesterday and could not help but smile. To be 16 again, without many (real) cares in the world.
I am thinking that it might time for me to find some gummy peaches & sharks and go on a trip! Any takers?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

stuff to share....

I haven't been sleeping much lately, and often times I wake up at 2:30 or 3:00. I pass the the time staring at my phone, reading the blogs on my Google Reader. I was pretty impressed with what I read this morning, and I thought I would share some parts. If you get a chance, I really recommend reading the original posts, which I linked.

Carrie / Motivation & A Few Mental Notes

"So, there it was...my first really long training weekend of this season and it was solid and successful. So why am I doing this again?? You know...I'm not sure really because there is no black and white, well-defined trophy at the end. There's no money earned or accolades from adoring fans. My reasons are endless and few all at the same time. I'm doing it because at the end of a long day (even when I've bitched and moaned about being tired and sore and cranky), I'm just plain HAPPY. (mental note #4: If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad)."

Elizabeth / The Guts of T3 Athletes

"As adults, I think we tend to only want to do things that we do well. We don't want to make fools our of ourselves. We don't try new things because we fear we might fail. We can get caught in the rat race mentality that it's not worth doing if it doesn't get us anywhere. And heaven forbid we should not be the best at whatever we do.

But triathlons are humbling in that way. For most of us, there's (at least!) one part of the training that we just don't do as well as the next guy/gal. There's typically one piece of it that always takes more physical or mental or emotional energy because it's just harder than some other part.

Yes, for each one of us it's something...or a lot of somethings. But for some reason (and I think that reason is also different for each of us), we keep showing up. We keep getting back out there - on the road, at the PTC, on the Town Lake trail, in the water - and pushing ourselves a little more. And that, in my opinion, takes guts and courage.

And lastly, my favorite of all. My friend Barbara, who I love to quote from time to time, and who is not doing a triathlon or anything like that - she is just LIVING.

Barbara /Leaving the Comfort Zone:

"It’s those times we have felt challenged, when we have confronted fear or failure or harsh elements that we remember and cherish. It’s when we have left our comfort zone that we feel most alive."

“Everyone needs a quest as an excuse for living,” Bruce Chatwin (author, adventurer)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In the Middle...

"It just takes some time,
little girl you're in the middle of the ride.

Everything, everything will be just fine.
Everything, everything will be all right."

-Jimmy Eat World, The Middle (played on repeat for the last 2 miles of today's run.)

I'm totally a song lyrics girl. Every other song I hear seems to be written just for me!!! At least in my head. :) Today, this song hit home. Everything WILL be all right.

I am so pumped. This weekend's training ROCKED!!!!

Saturday, I was supposed to ride 80 miles & run 50 minutes. I was dreading the brick run, so instead, I just kept riding. Before I knew it, I was at 91 miles. When Dionn called to check on me (bless her heart - she was driving up and down Escarpment looking for me), I told her, "I'm gonna ride as long as I can to avoid running!" "Silly girl," she replied. Yup, pretty much!

It was a great ride. Alisa was the perfect culprit to my "change my plans every few minutes" mentality. After continually changing our route, we got 80+ miles in via SW Parkway, 71, 620, Parmer, 360 & Mopac. I had to drive parts of it later that evening, and I was honestly amazed at how much ground we covered.

Some Saturday visuals:

My locked chain at mile 50. Notice it's wrapped all the way around my pedal. What a mess... but I fixed it! (And didn't crash when it locked, either. Both good things.)
My total mileage. I was admittedly tired, but with the right nutrition for the last 20 (extra) miles, I could have pulled out 112 miles - no problem.
The benefits of doing a century. I got full service when Maggie & I went to the store to pick up her dining table. I'm not sure Maggie took me seriously when I said I was hopping on, but she honestly pushed me through the store while other people stared at us. Thanks, M!
This morning, I knocked out 20 running miles!!! I use the term "knocked out" loosely, as often times it was more of a shuffle than a run. Regardless, I covered the distance, and I could have kept going for 6.2 miles more. Glad I didn't have to, but I could have.

So... where does this leave me? Right in the middle. I'm so much better than when I started in January, yet nowhere near to my level of fitness achieved at Longhorn. I will get better. For now, I'm right where I need to be. My confidence is up, my fitness is improving, I'm honing my nutrition and I am really enjoying the ride.

"Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else.

Talk about a confidence booster of a weekend. I now know I can do this crazy thing called Ironman. Might not be pretty, definitely won't be fast, but I know I can do it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great Uncle Win

My great uncle (or great great uncle, not sure) celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday the 13th.

Uncle Win was pretty amazing... though I never met him, I watched him deliver the commencement address to Linfield College on YouTube. He was coherent, funny, inspiring... all at 99! It was obvious that he was living a life filled with inspiring those around him. Before his birthday, he gave a great interview to the local paper. To read the perspective and memories of someone who was alive when the first cars came out, when there used to be dance cards at formal dances, who lived through the Great Depression.... it is just fascinating. I wish I had met him.

From what my dad tells me, what Uncle Win wanted in life was to live to be 100. And last Friday, he did it. He was surrounded by friends and family - my grandfather and aunt made the trek from Ohio to Oregon to be there - and it sounded like a wonderful celebration.

The next night, he had another celebratory party, and he was surrounded by everyone dear to him. In the middle of dinner, he had a heart attack and died. 100 years old & a day.

I'm pretty sure we all want to leave this place without pain, doing something we love and/or surrounded by those we love. I've seen far too many recent deaths that are too tragic to comprehend. Uncle Win lived to be 100. He celebrated his birthday with those he loved most, and then quickly and suddenly, without pain, he passed. In my opinion, that is a pretty amazing way to go.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm really starting to like swimming again. In fact, the only thing I don't like about it is that it takes me forever to get showered and ready once I'm done.

Anyway, swimming is awesome. Today I met some of the team for an open water swim at Barton Springs. First time back in the open water in weeks. First time back in the wetsuit. 2400m on the schedule. Ready... set... go!

Wow, Barton Springs is so clean!!!! I'm not sliding all over the place. I can see fish! It's so pretty! It's cold, but not too cold! My wetsuit actually feels good! Kick, 2, 3, Kick, 2, 3....

Ouch! How come I always headbutt the duck decoy? Oh well, keep going...

Ouch! I hit it again! Out of this entire pool, why do I keep running into that?

Ouch! That was a person this time. Oops. Maybe I need to site better?

Oh, there's a lady with a noodle! Maybe she is friends with Bouncy Noodle Guy!

Kick, 2, 3, Kick, 2, 3....

Arms are tiring. This wetsuit is making my whole body a bit tired... Almost done though...

Ironman is nearly twice this distance I'm doing today? Yikes!

Keep going... oh, close call with the duck again...

And... DONE!

What a beautiful morning! Even if nearly every inch of me was covered in some type of spandex. :) I'm pleased to say that I've re-embraced swimming again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Old Model

Broken record here... but again, I shall blog about art. I LOVE the Blanton Museum. It's a place that I don't frequent enough, but I know I can show up anytime and leave feeling inspired.

I've been wanting to see the "Birth of Cool" exhibit, so I headed to the Blanton yesterday. (It was a rare "off day" where I actually had energy to get off of my couch!) The exhibit was cool, but took me only about 15 minutes to browse through. I was more impressed with the atrium installation, honestly. The entire atrium is a piece called "Stacked Waters" and is just beautiful.

My favorite part of going to the Blanton is climbing the staircase, heading east through the Western paintings, through the "torso/statue" room, and into the grand room of Modern & Contemporary Art. I am always somewhat stunned when I walk in. Every time, it takes my breath away. I will look around, see what's new, then head to the little room to the right which houses some incredible pieces. Yesterday, I fell in love with one that I've seen many times, but never really "seen." The Old Model, by Robert Henri:
What I found really inspiring was the poem written next to the painting. The Blanton is doing a program of displaying poems inspired by certain paintings. The poem was fantastic and really made me look at this piece differently. I just love it. I'm honestly smiling as I write this just thinking about it.

There were so many other great new things to see. I felt like a giddy little girl at a candy store!

We are so blessed to have such an incredible museum smack dab in the middle of Austin. The Blanton is amazing. Just amazing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Overthinking, Bomb Squad, Only Child

I have said it before, but I think Elizabeth is brilliant. Actually, in addition to being brilliant, I think she is wise. (This, I think, is actually far more beneficial in life.) I'm not alone by the way - she was T3 Athlete of the Month, and the response to her has been awesome to see. Yay ETG!!!!

Tonight we were chatting about something, and of course she said something brilliantly wise. When I pointed out how she always adds new perspectives to things, she said:

"I blame it on my only-childness...LOTS of time to think things over. Seriously, sometimes people have to tell me to stop thinking...and I think they are right! When it's reflection, it's good...when it's over-thinking it can be not so good!"

This got me thinking. I mean, reflecting. I often wonder if I hadn't had to entertain myself for so long, would I spend so much time thinking and overthinking things? Taking that to a different level, would I find myself needing so much challenge in my life? It has been pointed out that I like to take things right to the edge, then step back and untangle what I've done.

It's true. Lots of times, I will (theoretically!!) build a bomb, sneak in somewhere, hide it, set the timer, run outside... and then do everything I can to diffuse it before it blows up. And why? The challenge, of course. (Plus, maybe, I feel like a hero? Oh geez, here is me overthinking again!)

Sheesh. I know I can't totally blame this on my only-childness. But... I do think E is right. Being an only child, i.e. spending a ton of time by yourself, makes you do and think some crazy stuff.

I am getting better. Doesn't always mean I won't go building bombs, but at least I am starting to recognize when I put on my "bomb squad" suit. That is a step, right?

Anyway, that's all. I was going to blog about socio-emotional selectivity theory, but that's for another day. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mr. Bouncy Noodle Guy

Every once in a while, I come across a blog post that brings me to tears - laughing, that is. I must share my friend Jim's thoughts on Hotel Fitness Rooms. Hilarious. My abs hurt from laughing so hard.

His stories of the people exercising at hotels leads me to share about Mr. Bouncy Noodle Guy at the gym today.

As I was doing my recovery swim, I spotted this funny little man pacing around. An attempt to describe him as politely as possible, I will say that he was about 50 years old, very skinny, not from this country and was wearing gigantic green swim trunks that he kept pulling up to his nipples.

Back and forth he went, pacing around the pool.... into the steam room... out of the steam room.... into the hot tub.... out of the hot tub.... over the equipment to grab a noodle (!?).... back and forth by the pool... and.... into the lane next to me. All was fine until I started breathing to my right. Because here is where I looked over to see that this guy had straddled a noodle and was attempting to bounce down the lane. Bounce. Bounce. Adjust his noodle. Bounce.... Honestly, I almost drowned I was laughing so hard and choking on water.

But it gets better... I headed to the hot tub when I was done, and in he comes. Guess he'd had enough noodle bouncing. Then I head to the steam room, which is not steamy, and he enters with a bottle of water. He walks over to the sign that says "DO NOT POUR WATER HERE" and is about to pour water everywhere. He's stopped, which in itself was funny, but then he proceeds to sit down right next to me. Seriously, the remaining seating area was empty. Why did he have to sit right next to me!?

Sheesh. Jim, don't be surprised if he ends up at one of your hotel fitness centers! At any rate, I hope he got a good workout in with his noodle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a few things...

Just brainstorming a few of the things that are really important to me right now.

1) My family. It's just Mom, Dad & me... but they are number one for me. I'm blessed for them.

2) My friends. They love me regardless, no matter how much of an idiot I am. They support me, console me, motivate me and share in my life.

3) My training group. I admit it, I need this group. I was not feeling the urge to go to Core this morning, but I knew I needed the energy of the team. An hour later, I left feeling invigorated. I have NEVER left this group feeling worse than when I showed up. There's really not a lot of things you can say that about.

4) My training. It seems to be the first thing to go when things get tough... but I have recommitted and am feeling so much better about myself. Yesterday actually felt like I was training for an Ironman - and I was surprised at how happy that made me.

5) Love. Whether in the form of a sweet email or a giant hug, I am a complete sucker for love right now. I usually try to strong and selfless, but right now I'm admitting defeat... and I'm openly needy.

That's it. When thinking about what's important right now, that's what comes to mind.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Giant Mushroom Forest

I shuffled my way around Lady Bird Lake on Friday afternoon. When I say shuffled, I mean it. I resorted to a "run 1/4 mile, walk 1/4 mile" strategy to get through 10 miles. After my typical personal temper tantrum/meltdown at mile 2, I realized... What do they call the person who finishes last at Ironman? An Ironman. Yup.... I really really do not care if I walk this damn race. It was nice to come to terms with that. I mean, really come to terms. It's all about finishing this thing... enough with the pressure already.

Acceptance felt pretty good, and it made the remaining 8 mile journey much more enjoyable. But the best part was at mile 9.5 or so, when I stumbled across the Giant Mushroom Forest!
In case you don't plan on stopping to check out WHY there are 3 giant mushrooms growing roadside in the park, here are the details. This piece is part of Austin's Art in Public Places program, specifically for this year's Texas Biennial. So. Freaking. Cool.

From the artist:
Giant Mushroom Forest is part roadside attraction, part stage set, part garden statuary. Public sculpture is always an encounter with something unexpected in the real world. In this case, the oddness of the art experience is itself a metaphor for other odd exp
eriences, symbolized by those iconic fungi. The piece is made of concrete and metal lath over a foam armature and weighs roughly 2000 lbs. All the materials came from Home Depot. It took about three weeks to build it in my back yard in Houston. Stay tuned for the life-sized wooly mammoth.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

How It's Supposed to Be

My friend Barbara and her family left Texas two years ago and moved everything to New Zealand. Her son, Andrew, did a triathlon this past weekend. As I was reading this, I couldn't help but think, "This is how it's supposed to be."

A kid's perspective on triathlon.

"There might be bad parts, but usually when I do something like this I have a whole lot of fun."

Quite insightful, little guy! However, this is what really lit me up: "I passed like 5 people at the beginning, but once we went around one of the corners a kid smacked into me and I fell off my bike. I got right back on and started biking again."

I love it. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

analyze this...

My close friends keep telling me I overthink and overanalyze everything. I think they may be right.

So... guess what I'm doing about it. Yes, that's right. I'm overthinking and overanalyzing why I overthink and overanalyze.

I'm driving myself crazy. I wish my mind would just SHUT UP.

Seriously. I need a break.

In other news, my injury from December is back - except it switched legs. I should be rolling and icing and healing, but I'm not. (I actually caught myself analyzing all the reasons WHY I'm not. If only I spent that much time getting on the foam roller, I might have a shot at nipping this injury a bit quicker. Sheesh.)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Post Secret Sunday

Every Sunday morning, I read Post Secret and look for the secret that resonates most.