I live in a suburb of the East San Francisco Bay Area with my husband, my 5 year old son and a very large menagerie of rescued animals on 2.7 acres. I find joy in balancing my human and animal family with my other passions in life. Two of these are crafting (anything really, but primarily scrapbooking, quilting and stamping)and triathlon. I've finished 6 Ironman triathlons, including Hawaii in 2009 and am always training for SOMETHING. I also run a high volume spay/neuter program for feral cats with large chunks of my free time.
Ironman Lake Placid is 16 weeks from today. And I am still waiting for the planets to align and for things to just go smoothly. I can only hope I've gotten most of the bumps in the road out of my way early. The poison oak, the calf injury, and the latest debacle of getting sick these past 2 weeks. In absolute gratitude I can say that I never got "sick-sick", like a flu will take you out sick. I was a little tired and not 100%, but the defining factor was the absolute loss of my voice for about 5 full days (gone! I tell you!) and it is STILL not quite normal. My lungs were also coated with gook, which was the limiting factor for training. So my coach summarily grounded me. No training at all for the first week and easing back this past week with easy hour rides or jog-walks (ick!). The little monkeys in my neurotic type A triathlon brain have been running amok and causing so much panic and coaching angst; I am still, truthfully, working them back into submission. I know for sure that Coach Greg is not lying when he says he has my health and well being as top priority. I do. But I have hardly any base at all in me right now and feel like I don't even have the usual winter fitness my crazy self maintains and when he told me to start to wrap my head around the fact I may very well need to scratch my plans for Wildflower in 5 weeks, I almost lost my head.
But these past couple weeks have afforded me the time to think as well, and in calming the monkeys, I have tried to start listing the things that this particular Ironman is trying to teach me. Oh, and teach you different things each one will!
1) is always the new lessons on the path to the elusive "balance" of training for an event of this magnitude and still maintaining some semblance of a normal life, all while keeping your sanity. Coach Greg promised me help with that up front and he is definitely all about that. Even though I feel so overbalanced in the free time area right now that I'm about to tip over, I'm sure there are techniques to be found here and called upon in these next weeks, when (hopefully) things start to shift to the other direction.
2) is that it is high time, at my mid-life age, that I start to learn to be more open to change and trying new things. So, not only am I totally relearning how to swim, ride and run, but I'm trying to put some trust in other people and their knowledge, and in change in general. This is what has me staying the course and seeing how this all shakes down July 22nd. It may be a disaster--who knows?--but I will have learned something about me and training none the less.
3)Sugar and processed foods are of the devil. The more I read and the more I experiment, I am convinced of it. Did you know it has been proven that they will lower your immunity?!? Enough said. I am trying mightily to get them OUT of my life entirely. And I'm tracking the effects and results to help build a case for that in my own mind. Some people can handle sugar. I can't.
Not all was lost, however, with these two weeks mostly "off". Like I said, I was so grateful not to be down-and-out-sick. I got some stuff done! First, I put up my Easter decorations!
Then I actually succeeded in finishing and compiling my scrapbook pages from 2009!
(yes, I know I'm 3 years behind--suck it.)
Hard to see, but this is a tedious, detailed double page layout of a trip to Great America amusement park that summer. I stamped and colored the bottom border and then cut out and put sticker foam between some of the elements to give it depth, making me feel like a scrapbooking genius.
And now, possibly most significant, was the progress made on 2 way-too-long-"in progress" quilt projects! Neither is completely done, so I will just give you the teaser photos for now. I have come to the conclusion that embroidery just might be my own personal form of meditation. Voila!
And in keeping with the "Christmas in March" theme, here is the center of a quilt I actually began working on...oh, I don't know, like, 12 years ago! Disturbingly, there is a big pucker in the middle that you can't see in this picture, so I've left it lying on the floor where you see it until I can sanely figure out how to deal with it.
(Referring to my last post) I was able to put a significant chunk into my March "Happiness Goals" of time in the yard. I have pulled weeds...lots of them! We live on almost three acres, so I have plenty of work, and really the patches I am after are manageable, but super duper time consuming. I just want to get the spaces around my raised beds and around the buildings and animal enclosures weeded and cleaned up, ready for spring/summer.
Sorry, I can't get this picture right side up, but it probably echoes the actual level of "Exercise in Futility" that this little seed planting venture depicts anyway, seeing as I have yet to figure out how to keep the deer and juvenille delinquent goat from eating anything and everything I might get to sprout this year. Last year was a pretty big failure in the garden. I'm trying to set my goals lower, but mine garden enemies have multiplied.
And lastly, before I go, let me return full circle and give you all some small piece of comfort to carry with you this week. Alas, it is true. You CAN find ANYTHING on the internet.
Among other things my new triathlon coach has given me these first few months of working together, he recommended this book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it, Ms. Rubin reflects on how she came to a stark realization one day that she was careening through life, getting through each day, but that even though she had much to be grateful for and joyful about, a feeling of happiness was distinctly missing. She then set out on a year of a personal quest to investigate and remedy this situation for herself. Her approach was to isolate areas of her daily life which impacted her level of happiness (personal relationships, health, tidy home/environment, among others) and set some very modest daily goals which corresponded to each month's "theme" and then built on them (she carried January's goals into February, February's into March, etc., until December, where she spent a month trying to perfect the objectives of the past 11 months). All the while she remained cognizant of how each of these elements factored into her overall level of feeling happy.
This book, and Gretchen Rubin's reflections really resonated with me, and very much apealed to my obsession with goal setting. Her approach was different from my usual start-of-the-year approach in a couple of ways. She focused on mastering one specific area per month, in contrast to my usual scatter-shot, often overwhelming goals in too many areas all at once. In addition, her goals were small, simple and daily as opposed to my more-usual monthly goals, where the month gets away from me and I come to the end empty handed and defeated.
SO...I headed into January with what I know for absolute sure is the most basic foundation of happiness for me: Health.
Just as Ms. Rubin did, I made up a daily checklist. At the end of each day I evaluated how I did in the following:
1. In bed by 9:15, lights out by 10:00.
2. Nutrition: sticking to my calorie plan/no sugar/no processed foods.
3. Take vitamins.
4. Brush teeth 2 times a day (and floss).
5. Use sunscreen.
6. Finding some creative time, even 15 minutes.
7. Training as per new coach.
8. Bike commute Noah to school whenever weather permits.
9. 1 protein shake/day.
10. 2 dog walks/day.
I also gave myself "extra credit" for finding ways to work these in to Sporty Spice's daily routines.
Our crowning moment may have been one ride to school in January in 27 degree weather.
In February, I continued this daily checklist of habits and then added HOME ORGANIZATION (all 6,500 square feet of it!). I first made a master-list of every room/area of the house and garage that could use a serious de-cluttering and crap-tossing and then set a goal of averaging an hour a day working on it. Time wise, I logged about 16 out of the 29 hours, but made quite a bit of progress.
This is my giant "goodwill pile" in the garage! But, in keeping with the big-picture, goal of increasing happiness, I'm not going to beat myself up over not meeting the total hour-goal, but will continue into March, which will focus on GARDEN and YARD. One of the projects left is to finally work in our home library! We are truly still "digging out" from our move 3 years ago. But in January we finally bought bookcases! I can't believe we have a whole room for books, a room I've pretty much closed the doors on and forgotten existed until now.
The main motivation behind the focus on Home Organization and Garden and Yard lies in my previous experience of heading into Ironman training with a huge cluttered house and two acres of weeds, knowing how much that stresses me out. And progress I can make now will pay off in happiness between now and July 22.
Training and Happiness were both challenged in February, I'm here to say! The first speedbump came in the form of THIS GUY,
giving me one of the worst cases of poison oak I've ever seen! It lasted well over 2 weeks, during which time I also pulled a calf muscle which still has me only running in the pool. And then I had to have a crown put on a tooth, and then had to have it put back on after it fell off. I'm hoping all these things are on the mend, and March will see more consistent problem-free training.
One thing that will make training much happier is THIS!! The Mister surprised me with this new bike (still being built). Electric shifting! Can't wait to take it for a spin!
I'll admit it. Every year, I have a terrible time saying goodbye to the holidays and shifting into the routine of the New Year. This year seemed especially hard, I think, because we had such a good time. Sporty Spice had 19 days off of school, and although at times it was a little stressful, for the most part, I really enjoyed living in his world for awihle! We fit as much as we could into the time, but also enjoyed some quality down-time. We started the vacation with a couple of days in the mountains in Arnold. No snow to speak of, which is so odd this time of year. But we had fun nonetheless, and decorated our little house for Christmas, which is always extra-cozy up there.
We came home for one day and then headed north again, this time to the Mister's family's home to do our "family Christmas". Sporty enjoyed time with his 6 cousins and the Mister and I got in a little training and beautiful riding as well as a little down time (I even got in a bit of thrifting!).
Then we headed home to celebrate the official Christmas weekend with our little family, the animals, our new housemate, and her dog. Perfect and peaceful!
We took Sporty Spice ice skating for the first time. It had been years since I had skated and I loved it as a kid. It was surprising how fast it came back, and how quickly Sporty "got his skate on". By the end of the evening he was a skating fool.
We also visited "Zoo Lights" at the Oakland Zoo, something we had never made it to before this year. All the animals are put away, but they have the zoo decorated in lights and rides open. This picture was taken on the train ride around the zoo, all lit up. It was very festive!
Sporty received a new bike with gears (!) from Santa! We opened gifts in the morning with our housemate and had a super peaceful laid-back day on Christmas. The Mister and I both had a run on our training schedules, so we took the kid and the bike and made a family affair of it. For dinner we made
burritos and watched Elf. I think the animals were happy to have us home and we had gifts for each species.
The week after Christmas we were lucky enough to meet up with our friends Amy and her son at The Cal Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. They had reindeer and snow in the atrium! Noah and I also got to go see "We Bought A Zoo"--the plot was hauntingly close to home. And later in the week he had a birthday-playdate with three friends at our house. That was an experience. I'm not sure I'm "that" kind of mom.
Sporty's Birthday is December 29th and he always gets a little gipped as a "Christmas Baby". Well, not this year my friends! The Mister and I had a little surprise up our sleeves. Our kid has wanted to go to Legoland for-EVER and Legos are his all time favorite activity. Sneaky parents that we are, we told him he was starting school the Monday after New Year's Day (really, he didn't start until Wednesday). We even packed his lunch and put on a whole show...and then took him to the airport and flew to Legoland for the day!
It was awesome, and so fun to surprise him!
A great way to start the New Year!! There were some rides, and (my favorite) all the crazy displays of legos--San Francisco! New York! Las Vegas! All done in Legos. And Sporty's favorite...all the Star Wars scenes; we are going through a major Star Wars Phase here.
His favorite thing, though, was building his own Lego car and racing it against other kids' cars.
So the New Year is upon us and 15 days in, I think we are finally starting to settle in to some sort of routine of normalcy, which is both bitter and sweet. I'm excited for the year, and the major triathlon goal of Ironman Lake Placid in...well, just 189 days. This year I am doing something, for me, completely outside my box. I have decided to hire a coach! I have been working with him for about 6 weeks now, and it has felt like a real whirlwind of emotions. The first thing he did was to look at my training logs and tell me it was one of the scariest bits of reading he'd done in awhile. He's from Australia, so when said with an Australian accent, it was even funnier/more tragic. He immediately "grounded" me; ok, so he calls it "re-directing", and cut my training back to almost nothing and has me putting some serious measures in place to get my life back in balance. I've been assigned craft time! And massages! At first I was enjoying it so much I could barely get out for the little bits of training he WAS having me do. Then this week I started getting very nervous that there's not enough time and I'm not training....it has been a very WEIRD emotional experience. We are just starting to ramp up a bit now, but he is completely re-working not only my swim and run, but my cycling as well! I keep having to tell myself to just go with this. It does feel like a bit of an adventure. And I must admit I do feel happier. Stay tuned!
To this end, of balance, I've been getting to spend more quality time with Sporty, even now that he is back in school. This week we went and painted our own pottery--it was fun and we both loved it.
The saddest part of our holiday was losing our sweet Emmalee. 16 years old, Emma was our 3rd-ever cat; she came from my very first vet job--her owner was pregnant and decided she didn't want a 4 month old kitten, claiming the litter box made her nauseous (whatever). Emma was in a cage that first day right next to my computer at work--big mistake. She was so outgoing and reaching through the bars, begging for attention, I took her home at the end of the day. We refer to that time as her "homeless hours". Smartest cat I ever met. She will be remembered for her "dinner table run-bys". At our old house, when the cats lived amongst us, she would jump on the dinner table. She knew she would get swatted right off when she did it, so she'd wait until dinner was served, jump onto one end of the long farm table, and RUN accross it, to check out what we were having each night--just enough to see if it was worth the risk of going back.
Oh, Emma, such a big personality...and her absence leaves such a hole.
This Christmas, our third in this house, it is actually starting to feel more like a home! Every Christmas I seem to find one thing, be it baking, finding special gifts, something, that is my favorite part of that year's holidays. This year, it seems to be decorating my house! My favorite thing has been to be at home in the evenings, with all my Christmas lights on, and even better if there is Christmas music playing!
So come on in. If you were here, I would serve you some sugar free cocoa and healthy cookies when you came to the front door. And you'd be greeeted by this snowman.
And some birds of different species.
Come on in to the entry way...
This is the "formal" living room, still not entirely furnished, but fun to decorate as my "vintage Christmas" room! Sporty Spice has set up his Disneyworld monorail set at the bottom of the tree there.
My chairs I got last summer...now if only I could find a matching setee...sigh.
Glittery ornaments from Big Lots!
And ones I made from yard sale goodies!
Possibly my favorite thing is my light up vintage village.
Got that whole bowl of vintage beads at a yard sale for four dollars last week.
And into the dining area...snowmen on the buffet...
And on into the living room...come on in and sit down for a bit.
I love this little white feather tree and sure wish I could get a better picture of it.
The big tree is being circled by a remote control lego train this year.
And welcome to my kitchen..
And my bedroom...
It's even Christmas on the nightstand.
I have a fireplace in my bedroom. How decadent is that?
A nod to the tacky.
And finally, what self respecting flock of chickens and a duck wouldn't want lights on their house as well? The feral kitty house also has lights this year.
Hope you enjoyed your stay and you are invited for New Year's as well...