Being Diligent, Part Deux

Well… two months flew by. I hope everyone else is having as much fun as I am.  I have been wrapped up in getting family portraits for a bunch of amazing people so that they can get their Christmas cards out.  Yup, that’s right, Christmas is right around the corner, can you believe it?  As far as applying the minimalist lessons I’ve learned along the way to Christmastime and gift giving, I should tell you right now that I have failed utterly.  And it’s not even Christmas yet.  While I tense at the though of going through all the physical things that Christmas will bring into my home, I love to give.  I have no idea how I am going to about getting that under control for next year, but it seems this year is already buried under a pile of wrapping paper.  And I don’t even feel bad about it.

See what happens when you’re not diligent?   Guess I’ll keep trying.  One day at a time and all that.

Happy holidays everyone! Hug someone today!

Being Diligent

Clearly, my resolve to write more has been benched this year.  That being said, it’s been an amazing freakin’ year.  It started with the Swede, so to speak, as we had our first date on New Year’s Day and has been a whirlwind of adventures since then.  I’ve been shooting, shooting, shooting and working on the photo biz, which has been going fantastically.  The Swede also enjoys taking a picture or two, so we started a fun little blog with our travel pics, you can see that at his & hers photos if you feel like it.

Minimalism is still a huge priority at this point, although, being less than diligent this year has allowed way too much stuff to creep into my home/life/email.  How the hell does that happen?   I mean really, I have been more intentional with everything I buy.  Yet sometimes I still feel totally cluttered.

In fact, I had a little minimalist meltdown this week which is what got me fired up again.  I started in the garage this time and realized that a lot of the “clutter” was essentially garbage that was never dealt with.  My ongoing “donation box” was overflowing, creating a bit of a mess and disorganization.  And the garage was filled with empty shipping boxes from photography projects which were never broken down to be discarded (my recycling service won’t pick them up until they’re broken down.)  So, 20 minutes in the garage quickly eliminated a boatload of stress that the clutter was causing in my already cluttered brain.  It was a quick little eye opener as to how being diligent can prevent things from stacking up, both literally and figuratively.

So for now, I’m trying to apply due diligence to minimalism and all the other parts of my life (like writing.)  Wish me luck!

Being Passive Aggressive

So there you have it… the last post I made was ridiculously passive aggressive. A quality that I despise in others and loathe when it comes from myself. Generally, I pride myself on being “aggressive aggressive” as I like to put it.  You want fuck with me? Let’s go. But there are those rare situations when my emotions get the best of me, my brain apparently shuts down and dumb ass shit comes out of my mouth.  or in this case, off of my fingertips.

So what did I do?  I avoided my blog.  ‘Cause every time I opened it up to start to type, I was slapped in the face with my own bad decision. And at a time in my life when I really need to be writing because so much is overwhelming, I avoided the blog AGAIN because of what I put up there. So I guess this is sort of a confessional.  My way of moving past an indiscretion.

So hopefully… more later.

Being Single

Being single is not synonymous with being lonely, bitter and broken.

I’m not sure when the world decided that I need crappy advice to “get through” the holidays because I’m single, but lately it seems like I’m inundated with bad advice as each holiday approaches. I ranted briefly about this issue at Christmas when I read an article about single women surviving the holidays. I can’t remember the title. It should have been “Worst Advice for Single Women. Ever.” The article goes on to discuss things like buying yourself Christmas presents and putting them under the tree. Really? and inviting your single friends over for dinner. Great advice. In fact, my friends and I do this. We call it Wednesday. And you don’t have to be single to be involved. We don’t discriminate like that.  Crazy right?

I know.  And I’m steeling myself for more horrible advice as the world prepares for my suicide watch because I’m single on Valentine’s Day.  Which, for the record, is the world’s most ridiculous “holiday.”  I say this, not because I’m single (although I am) or bitter (which I am not).  But really, what is the point of this “holiday?”  Let’s suspend reality for a moment and assume that Valentine’s Day is not a day created by Hallmark to drive up sales in the off season.

Let’s assume for conversation purposes that Valentine’s Day is about celebrating life with the one you love.

Shouldn’t you be doing this every day?  I mean honestly, you do not need special day on the calendar to express your love for your partner.  If you need to put it on the calendar to remind you to do something special for the love of  your life, put it on the calendar every day until it becomes habit.  Expressing love is not about over priced flowers and dinners.  It’s not about getting the “right” pieces of jewelry or the perfect lingerie before February 14th rolls around again.  Love is about listening to your partner, learning what they need to feel loved and providing it.  Every day.  Love isn’t something that needs to be saved for a special occasion.

And love isn’t something that needs to be saved for just one person. Look, I’m a certified “I love you slut.”  I say it to everyone all the time.  I don’t believe for a moment that it’s meaning is diminished by over use.  I think that we all long to be loved and to hear the words “I love you.”  So say them.  I say it to my parents and grandparents, my brother, my god-daughter.  I tell my friends I love them when they’re sad and need to know someone cares.  And when they’re happy and they’re celebrating.  And when I hang up with the friends that I don’t get to see or talk to enough.  And to my dogs. They totally understand.

And I love you.  Thank you for reading this.  It makes me feel loved.

If someone wants to provide me with advice for being single on Valentine’s Day, I don’t need it.  My life is amazing.  Please don’t tell me to buy myself a piece of jewelry to make myself feel better.  I don’t need to feel better because I don’t feel bad.  I’m not lonely.  I’m not sad.

Still feel the need to give me advice on being single?  Here’s what I need advice on…  How do I not become indignant when people share useless advice because they assume that I’m dying inside being surrounded by blissful couples celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Happy couples do not make me sad or jealous.  They make me happy.  See, happiness is contagious.  So yeah, I get irritable when people infer that I need to do something to make myself happy on Valentine’s Day. I don’t.  I pretty much do something to make myself happy every day.  I’m good.

So, hold the advice and spread the love.

Oh, and speaking of ridiculous holidays and spreading affection, St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.  Who wants to buy me a beer?  (hold the green dye, please).  Because let’s face it, Kay Jewelers is wrong.  On any given night more kisses begin with beer than with Kay.  Which is why beer wins.

Being Happy

I live my life according to the serenity prayer. I don’t really know when this happened, and it was by no means a conscious decision to do it. But I realized during a conversation with my brother that doing so is not just how I get by, but how I find happiness.  Let’s face it, for most of us, life is just not that hard. I count my blessings every day. I have a stable job, a roof over my head, lots of friends, a loving family, a couple of adorable, four legged kids and the time and tools to sit around and blog about life. Of course, like everyone, I could certainly find something wrong with my life if I wanted to and do on rare occasion. Sometimes I get caught up in the could have, should have and would have of it all.  But the truth is the past is the past and it cannot be changed.  It’s just a fact.

Now, I’ve stated in previous posts, my faith is a little scattered, so I found it both amusing and somewhat scary that my happiness is the result of living life by a common christian prayer.  So let’s not think too much about it as a prayer and just break it down.  And I’m going backwards, because it just makes more sense to me…

The wisdom to know the difference.  I started at the end because this is really the big one.  Because here’s the thing…. There is very little in life that cannot be changed.  It’s not always going to be easy and it’s not always going to be comfortable, but it is possible.  Remember that not choosing, is still a choice you’ve made.

The courage to change the things I can.  I read (and stole) a twitter post once that said ‘If you don’t like something, change it.  If you don’t have time to change it, turn off the tv.’  And this is so very, very true.  So much time is wasted doing nothing, so now it’s time to shut up and do something.

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  There are some things that just cannot be changed.  Learn to live with those things.  There is really nothing else to do here but deal.  You have to find a way to accept the things that cannot be changed, which again, are really few and far between.  Don’t let it fuck up your day (or week or life for that matter.)

So find happiness.  It’s yours for the taking and chances are, the good life is already yours.  It’s just waiting for you to open your eyes and realize it.

Being an Artist

“What is art that gets left unseen?”

Well what an interesting question I was presented with.  I was being gently encouraged to share my own “artwork” online.  Which led to my thinking, what is art?  I never considered myself an “artist” before.  But I do like to play with charcoal and paint.  I’m a little out of practice, but pretty good with a camera.  Is the product of my playtime considered art?

I’m not so sure.

Some of it is really bad.  Some of it is really great.  I could maybe consider some of my photographs art, especially some of the old stuff, from when I never left the house without my camera (and, ahem, film).  In fact, here is one of my favorites.


But it’s not so much the photographs that make me question if I should be called an artist, I think some of them are actually quite good.  It’s more of my playtime “art” that really gets me wondering if I should even call it that.  Nobody would buy my paintings and charcoal drawings.  I’ve posted a photo of a painting here.  And there is a charcoal drawing you can see in this post.  But is that what makes art?  That someone is willing to purchase it?  I don’t think so, because I personally wouldn’t pay a dime for anything out of Picasso’s cubism collection.  And I’m pretty sure that we all agree that Picasso was an artist.

And then I have another issue with calling myself an artist.  I have friends who I truly consider to be artists.  The beautiful young lady who had shared a photo of an amazing pencil drawing online, prompting the above referenced conversation. That was a gorgeous piece.  In town, there are two brothers I know whose work will literally take your breath away.  Some dark, some light, all incredible.  Artwork so good that they both have made careers of it. And I have an old friend who seems to be able to capture just the most amazing images when he points his lens somewhere, anywhere.  These people are artists.  To call myself an artist seems to be a leap when compared the work they produce.  But why?  Seems silly, right?  Is it the end product that really matters?  Or is it simply the act?

“Art makes the world a better place.”  Same young lady.  Same conversation.  So … does it?  Does my relatively poor excuse for a painting make anybody’s world a better place?  Well, yeah.  Mine.  It makes my world a better place.  It gets me out of my crazy, loud brain for a few hours.  It makes be smile when I go back and look at it. and it makes me smile when I share it with friends. and if my world is a better place, I’m more inclined to make other’s worlds better too. Pay it forward.  Smile more.  Share the good energy left behind by letting myself go and not judging myself quite so harshly for a little while.  Energy is contagious.  Good and bad.  And playing with paint makes me smile and creates more positive energy in my little world.   So, at least for now, I’ll call it art.  So I guess that makes be an artist.

What about you guys?  Do you play?  What’s your favorite medium?  Do you consider yourself an artist?

Being a Marathoner

Showing off the medals

Uh huh…. that’s me.  I did it.  I finished my first marathon and in my mind that officially makes me a marathoner.  At least for now.  Do I think I’ll do another one?  Probably.  Does that make me crazy?  Absolutely.  (Not as crazy as my twitter friend who also ran his first marathon at Disney this year and thinks he’ll “do one a year.” That would seriously cut into my drinking time.)  And as distance runner Frank Shorter says, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”  You know why?  Running a marathon hurts.  “Oh. My. God. Ouch.” Were the words that Lance Armstrong texted to his ex-wife following his New York City Marathon.  I remember reading the article in Runner’s World years ago and thinking ‘Christ, if Lance Armstrong is in pain, I will NEVER do a a marathon.’  Hmm…  Never say never.

Since it seems that I sweated out all my brain cells during the run, I’m going to use some of the signs and t-shirts that I saw along the route to help me get some of my thoughts out on the marathon.

Thanks for asking, this marathon is 26.2 miles too.  Leading up to this event, I was in awe of the number of people who asked my how long “this” marathon was.  I thought this was common knowledge?  So here is a little insight.  A marathon is 26.2 miles.  Always.  The distance became standardized in 1921.  It is based on the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger who ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.  He ran 26.2 miles to deliver the message “we have won.”  In case this doesn’t sound hard to you, Pheidippides died when he got there.  Just sayin.

My race pace plan?  Start slow and then back off… which is exactly what I did.  “I didn’t train all that time just to come here and get it over with as fast as I can.” John Bingham. Yeah, I’m not fast.

Dead last finish > Did not finish > Did not start.  There is sense of accomplishment just in walking up to the

still smiling at mile 9

starting line of your first marathon.  There is also a sense that you may potentially vomit on your shoes from the nerves and anticipation of what you’ve gotten yourself into.  But the fact is when you line up to start a marathon, you’re doing something that most people never do.

“No marathon gets easier later. The half way point only marks the end of the beginning.”  It’s true.  Hearing you’re halfway there at mile 13.1 is only slightly encouraging at best.  You know the hardest part is still ahead.  You know you’re going to have to fight.  Hard.  You know in spite of the sweat and effort put in thus far, you’re still just starting to face the real challenge.  At the half way point, it’s time to dig in.

Pain is temporary.  Quitting is forever.  Oh this one stuck with me. When my knee got a little out of whack at mile 10 and the pain struck, this was the t-shirt I thought of.  When I hit the halfway point and put on my visor, realizing that the early morning sun that was getting in my eyes was quickly going to heat up the asphalt and make for a hot, hot journey for another 13.1 miles. I thought about this t-shirt.  When I hit mile 19 and and wanted to cry from the exhaustion, this was the t-shirt.  When I hit mile 24 and spectators were yelling “only two more miles” and I had to refrain from punching them in the face to remind them that when you’re running this fucking far, there is a HUGE difference between 2 more miles and 2.2 more miles.  Well, ok, that wasn’t the t-shirt.  That was really just lack of energy if I’m being honest.

Your feet hurt because you’re running 26.2 miles.  I loved this sign because it made me giggle every time I saw it.  It was a sweet, sweet reminder that I got myself into this mess and the only way out was through the finish line.  Oh and this one too. 26.2 – because 26.3 would be crazy.  Both of these signs could have and should have ended with ‘dumbass.’  Both of these signs could have just as easily said what I said to myself several times during the race.  “What were you thinking?”  “Only crazy people do this shit.”  Which is why I especially appreciate this gift from my best friend and tireless cheerleader, who flew from Connecticut for a weekend of no drinking and getting up at 3:30am, just to cheer me on.

Chafe now, drink later.  What?  Don’t want to hear about that?  Chaffing is only the beginning of the bounty of gifts provided to you by the 26.2.  Runners bond over the damage done by running.  Muscle pain is obvious.  Chaffing is no longer limited to arms and thighs.  Nope, it’s shocking to learn where you can chafe once your distances get longer.  Losing toenails is always a crowd pleaser.  Common among men running long distance?  Bloody nipples. Yeah, you read that right. Ouch.  Runners go from acquaintances to family in the medical tents.  Nothing like stopping at mile 18 to shove some Vaseline your sports bra to prevent any more chaffing.  Or shoving your hands down your pants to put some Bio Freeze on your hamstrings. There is no time or place for modesty mid race.  Yup, we’re all in this together now.  Plus, everyone out there, no matter how fast or slow understands exactly what Jerome Drayton means when he says “To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.”  Me personally,  I made out pretty lucky, but I do wonder how stuff happens.  Like when I went to scratch my back and realized I’ve chaffed all along the back of my bra line.  Or, now that the swelling has gone down, I see that I have bruising on the tops of my feet.  Seriously, how does that happen?

Way to go TOTAL STRANGER.  You rock!  I wish I could have hugged the guy who had this sign at mile 23. I

post race hug from Sharon

was pretty sweaty so I’m not sure he would have appreciated the gesture.  But that’s only because he doesn’t realize it’s not sweat, it’s liquid awesome. When you feel like every muscle in your body is ready to give up and you wonder how you could possibly finish, there’s nothing like a good laugh to remind you that you’re going to make it.  Cause sometimes, several hours into a race, we forget running takes balls, other sports just play with them.  Along the route there are spectators out there to support runners.  Like I said, my friend Sharon was there for me and like most of the spectators, she was cheering for each runner as they went by.  Crowd support was crucial for me and for some reason, that sign just made me laugh.  And man did I need a laugh at that point.

It’s not a miracle that I finished this race.  I’ve been training for it for half a year.  The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.  The estimate is that in any given year, approximately 0.1% of American runs a marathon.  That means I’m a bigger bad ass than 99.9% of the nation.  Cool.

Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.

Being a Runner

What does it mean to be a runner? To me, it means intentionally running. I don’t care if it’s 10 steps or 100 miles. There are all kinds of special names you get to call yourself aside from “runner” as you go faster and longer – sprinter, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, so there is no need run a certain distance in order to be considered a runner.  So if you want to be a runner, be.  Get outside and put one foot in front of the other.  Move forward.  Move forward a little faster and now you’re a runner.  Congratulations.

I’ve been a runner since my freshman year in high school.  I grudgingly agreed to run track.  I had fun.  I was never good at it, I was never fast.  I’m still not.  But it did start a pretty healthy habit that I’ve stuck with, albeit on and off, for years.  I refuse to admit how many.  I formed some of my most cherished friendships and wonderful memories on those runs.  And to this day, I still hear my coach in my head.  Sometimes so loudly that I jump.  I’ve always run a few miles, a few times a week.  In 2009 I ran my first half-marathon and have been building since then.  I thought all marathoners were crazy.  Why would anyone want to do that?  So imagine my surprise when I realized that I’m just days away from my first marathon.

At some point, and I honestly don’t remember when, I decided that I would run a marathon.  Yup, all 26.2 miles of it.  I’m pretty sure I was drunk when I agreed to this. And I say “agreed to” but there exists a very real possibility that this was my idea… I THINK it went something along these lines…

My running partner and I had just finished two half marathons within two weeks of each other in 2010.  The first,

Disney Half Marathon

Pre-Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

The Walt Disney World Wine and Dine was a complete disaster.  This was my second half, I had completed one about a year earlier.  Attending only because a friend was on the race committee and it supported a great cause, our county’s Healthy Start Coalition.  I did not train at all and walked a good portion of that race.  But I TRAINED for the Disney Half. and it was at night, so that had to be easier right?  WRONG!  I am not a night runner.  I fit perfectly and annoyingly into the definition of “morning person.”  What was I thinking?  Who the hell knows.  So needless to say, a race starting at 10pm and finishing just minutes before 1am was not a good experience for me. (That’s me on the left in the picture with my running partner, about an hour and half before the Disney race.)

But then for the second year in a row, I ran the Healthy Start Coalition Half Marathon.  In the morning, beautiful weather, my hometown, flat and fast race course that I was familiar with.  It was fantastic.  Every time I looked at my watch, I was ahead of my goal pace and feeling better and better. I set a new PR (personal record, for any non-runners out there) by almost 30 minutes.  I was elated after that run.  And then we started getting emails from Disney (remember the Wine and Dine Half was only two weeks earlier)… “You finished the half!  You’re half way to a full marathon, sign up for the full marathon now!”  They’re very peppy these little Disney marketing emails so, well, we considered it.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was scheduled for foot surgery that November, making my decision for me.

But then we started talking about it more.  Maybe we should do it in 2012.  We all planned on running the Healthy Start Half Marathon again in October of 2011, which would put us right on track for a full in January.  Besides, it falls on my BIRTHDAY, how cool is that.  (If you’re actually contemplating that question, the answer is ‘not very.’)  But it all seemed like such a good idea at some point (again, probably drunk) that we totally pumped ourselves up for it.  We had picked up a new running partner along the way and suckered her in too.  So now there were three of us.  We were so excited, we signed up within days of registration opening.  We were unstoppable. It was going to be EPIC!

Flash forward approximately one year….

Uh huh.  Yeah, training for a marathon is fun.  IF you love running, hate drinking and the idea of being sore for days after a workout sounds like a great accomplishment to you.  I don’t love running.  Well, I did, I think at some point.  No, I really didn’t.  I do it because it’s the workout that I hate the least.  I love the way it makes my butt look.  I love being outside.  I prefer running by the beach to being in some cardio-sculpt class with a bunch of sweaty strangers.  I do however love drinking (if you’ve read any other posts, you may have picked up on that…) and going out for drinks on Friday night and then running for four hours on Saturday morning makes for a rather tough start to the weekend.  I guess I’ll give in to the last one, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m a little sore from a workout.  So marathon training for me is fun about 33% of the time.  Uh. Not a great percentage.

But I will say this.  Marathon training changes you.  I’ve quit a lot of things in my life.  I don’t like to call it quit, but really there are just a lot of thing that I started and never finished.  I’ve always been pretty ok with that.  Because I like to think of it as changing my mind rather than quitting (more on this topic in another blog…) My point is I refuse to quit this.  I don’t know why.  A few months back I was texting with a friend who asked me how my 14 mile run went that morning.  At that point, 14 was the furthest I’d ever run IN MY LIFE.  I told him. I told him the truth.  IT SUCKED.  It was a super hot, muggy Florida morning. I ran out of water around mile 8. I died a little out there that morning and at several points I wanted to quit or cry or both.  I told him all of this and he responded with simply “Don’t Quit.”  Well, truth be told I had no intention of quitting.  I had already passed that point and I don’t know when or why, but it was too late for me.  I was doing this thing. Short of a broken bone (which I’m kinda still kind of hoping for) I’m going to finish this marathon.  It’s not going to be pretty.  I haven’t been training enough over the past month.  I haven’t tapered appropriately.  I started training too early and got burnt out.  But I refuse to quit.  My only goal is to finish.  And I will.  Run, walk or crawl I will cross that finish line.  And then maybe I can say I’m a marathoner.  Maybe.  One thing I definitely am: Crazy.  Like I said, all marathoners are.

T-3 days to my first 26.2.  Wish me luck.