Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Sun, A Blue Sky, Life is Good




            i I took pictures of my little run to Olive Park today. The sun was out, the snow and all the grey puddles were gone and it was just a gorgeous day.  It is amazing how different the same scenery can look depending on the weather. I made Heidi's Mushroom Casserole over the last week and it is really yummy!!!  I love mushrooms so next time I think I will add more than what the recipe calls for and a mixture of different types although baby portobellos/crimini are my favorite. And I made the ginger crisps as well, being the impatient person that I am, I did not let them cool off long enough so the cookies started breaking up. The crystallized ginger is what makes them taste great plus the brown sugar and my friends thought so too!!! With all the cooking, of course I have to up the running!!! 
The view of the Hancock building is from the end of Olive Park, that is where I do my sun salutations and cartwheels. Being upside down does something energetically that makes me feel so much better about life. I took some skewed pictures by accident today...I titled them, "My World", I thought they were quite appropriate for what my world feels like sometimes, out of focus and skewed, I am excited, I think I am much more in balance for 2009, and so many people I have encountered are moving on to their next stages and I think that is what is in store for me, the next stage which will include me being more humble in general and being grateful for what I have and focusing on the things and people that bring joy in to my life, support me and help me grow as a person and where I can be a positive force in their lives as well. Life is TOO SHORT to do otherwise. Funny what a SUNNY day can do. At least I can go back to these pictures when we get back into the normal, grey Chicago skies and I start getting to the edge of the ledge again....But I am excited, an Ultra(I signed up for the Lakefront Ultra on April 4th,although for me signing up and doing are 2 totally separate things but at least I am definitely in!!!!), more writing, skiing again at Snowbird, climbing again and plenty of Primary Series in yoga, I have the courage to go to a Mysore class soon and one of my major priorities is being more open to people and making new friends(particularly guys),  and appreciation of the friends that I have!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am excited for our new President who is inheriting a mess and it will take some time to sort things out but at least the country is getting back on the right track with someone whose convictions are in the right place in my opinion. I am excited to work on Edible Chicago, the little magazine that could!!!!!  And I have a couple of job opportunities that I am interested in, if they are interested in me.... And I just weighed myself today and I lost another 2lbs despite its being the holidays. I am so excited at getting back to the old/new me physically, as I get more at peace with myself I don't have a need for all the extra physical layers and I know I will never be skinny and I don't have to be, I will be happy to get to a point where I can finally do a kickback in yoga, I am doing handstands and headstands but I would love to be able to hold myself up in a seated position with just my hands and the laws of physics aren't letting me do that quite yet, but I am getting there. A lot of the binds in yoga are another thing, I was born with monkey arms so I can only do what I can do but I do laugh at myself,  A LOT, when I attempt any of them. Some people can look so graceful when they attempt things, I am just not one of those people.  So I am optimistic for 2009, I am going to pray more for one thing, particularly when I start getting to the edge of the ledge again, which is so easy for me to get to and I am going to practice accepting myself(this will take ALOT of practice) and just being me, to have fun at most whatever I do, and to see where this year takes me which hopefully means Colorado!!!!!!!!!

             Happy New Year 2009 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                         JB


                         

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cold, Colder Xmas






Well, Chicago has officially turned into the Arctic, although I don't think it is going to last very long, it is suppose to go up to 40 degrees over the next couple of days which means slush and super huge puddles all over the city.  I went on a medium length, icy Xmas run out to the point at North Avenue beach.  As I continue to really, really, miss the mountains, and skiing and traveling, when I run with so much snow and ice on the ground I pretend that I am training to ski to the North Pole and the terrain brings back memories of being on the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan or other times of being in snow in the mountains. Living next to the Lake is a true luxury because the landscape takes on so many different personalities depending on the time of year it is. I spoke to my mother and my brother, who is a true saint living with my mother, and who has the biggest heart in the world. I spoke to several friends to wish them Merry Xmas as well.  But as I ran I was so appreciative that I have the ability to run and I like the challenge of the ice and snow it makes my quick jog a lot more fun and interesting and really puts me in the moment as I had to focus on where I placed each step. For some reason I finally got the Xmas card sending spirit so that is one of my projects for the weekend.  And I was very appreciative of having sunlight today, and seeing the sunset!!!!!!!!!!!! For the last week it has been very gloomy and cold and I have decided that I definitely get S.A.D. during this time of year. I am appreciative of every ray of sunlight and every single sunset that I see!!!!!!!!!! I am not running the Huff50K, was not in the cards, I could not find any transportation to it but I am committed to the Lake Front Ultra on April 4th. I am entering shortly because I absolutely am going to run it!
  My plan for the rest of the day is to make the ginger cookies that has been on my list to do for awhile, and see a movie I rented that is about to expire, 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. Somewhat of an appropriate movie to watch on Xmas, and the Xmas lights which I love are still up all over the neighborhood so life is good today!!!! The Xmas holiday makes everyone slow down, snow and ice makes everyone slow down, so for once, the rest of the world is forced to forego, "rushitis, the disease of acting incredibly busy and stressed".  And I am trying to get accepted by the Dog Running guy to start, well for me, jogging several dogs each morning in the neighborhood. I figure I need to pick up my mileage, I really miss having a dog and I can get paid for doing 2 things I love at the same time. So I have to remember to continue to lighten up in many ways, lighten up physically, which one of my weekend projects is to buy some new pants because most of pants are too big now, to lighten up mentally, and to appreciate those little moments of joy in everything that I do and to really appreciate my friends and to focus on increasing joy and love in my life............
                   Merry Xmas
                        Jb

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rudolph Scramble and Chicagarctic
















Well,  the lake has started to look like the arctic. It is not in its full winter look, but the ice has begun to form and from now on we start getting ice bergs in the lake. I took pictures from a run to Olive Park which is developing an ice shelf on one of the walls at the point. The other pictures are on my way back from the Rudolph Ramble and of course I had to get one of Santa Claus!! I got to the race or as my new name for it, The Rudolph Scramble, at the last minute, I was the very last person to enter. I thought about jumping in and not paying but I just did not feel good doing that and since I am trying to be more true to myself, I knew I would feel funny about hopping in and that it was just plain bad karma and since I had already crashed on my bike on the way there, I felt there was way too much potential for another accident to risk bad luck on the way home.  I crashed at the ramp at Oak Street beach. I thought the ice had pretty much melted but I ended up attempting to do a hockey stop on my bike so I executed the slo-mo, "slow slide crash". A homeless guy under the the little walkway came to my rescue and asked if I was okay, which I was, but it was a great wake up call to be careful. However, there is something in me that doesn't mind falling down, most of the time it is pretty comical and particularly when I ski and crash it just makes me feel like a kid and humble and stupid and I laugh. Not to get too philosophical but so many "adults" are so afraid to fall down, literally and figuratively, and falling down is part of life and I think the reason I never hurt myself is that I just roll with it.  I ,also, think I am probably too in touch with my inner kid and the spirit of having fun because in some weird way crashing is fun, I don't know exactly why? The race ended up being shortened to a 5K instead of 8K which I realized when we came to the finish line and saw that the race was over and we had only finished a 5K.  I am happy that I got up and participated. Given my slacker tendencies, when I go out running on my own it becomes more meditative and relaxing and freeing and I don't exactly push myself all the time so races are good to get my competitive juices going which does not take much, underneath it all I am always competitive almost too much. I feel much better about my races these days, I am now hanging out with the "fit" part of the pack, and I am really happy about that!!!!!!!! I still have a ways to go in terms of being up to speed(no pun intended) for me, but I am getting there!!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!!! And I really think I was a polar bear in another life because I love the cold and the wind and the elements, I tend to have a hot personality anyways and when it is cold, I just love to run hard, it makes me happy, it is not skiing but I have to say it was fun when the wind was at my back and I felt it pushing me along on my bike. And being outside in this weather just makes my spirit feel free and happy and lucky that I am fit to enjoy the outdoors!!
Well, I am entered in the Huff50K, even though I am not in shape I kind of want to do it but I have absolutely no idea how I am going to get there at this point, that is to be determined, I have decided it is either in the cards for me to attempt it or it isn't.  And on my list of things to do this week is to make Heidi's Mushroom Casserole and to make Brown Sugar Ginger Crisps. I enjoy cooking, I just don't make enough time to do it. So my motto for this week, is that changes take time and I have to be patient and that I want to be joyful about whatever I am doing because life is too short not to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And this is my half year anniversary of my blog, OH MY, time goes by soooooooooooooo  quickly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had better figure out how to get that Ultra in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                           JB

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Missing the Mountains!!!!


I have realized lately, I guess because we have snow now in Chicago, that I really miss the mountains and skiing and hiking. My screen saver on my computer turns into a slide show from my photo library, when the mountain pictures are on the screen my heart tugs and I get pangs in my stomach. We are all on our own journeys but I have realized lately that I really do love the mountains but for some reason have had a hard time figuring out where, how to move to them. The pictures above are from my Pakistan trip and the tent is from the Ladakh trip. One of the things I like about Chicago is that we get ever changing weather which is very similar to being in the mountains and I love running when it is snowing for some reason snow makes me really happy. But I really, really, really miss skiing and I have to figure out how to get myself in a position to ski again. I chose my college, yes, because it was an Ivy League college but also because it was in the mountains and it had a good field hockey team, I moved to Chicago because I figured it was easier to get out west to Snowbird to ski. So, I am now focusing on how to make the mountain thing happen, the economy stinks, the job market stinks, there are a lot of reasons to buckle down and be practical, but my heart says the mountains and I just have to figure out how????? I signed up for the Huff50K but still have no idea how I will get there. I am about to go out for a medium length run and it is grey, gloomy, cold, drizzly/sleety here...sounds really fun doesn't it????? Somehow I am going to try to find some joy today, maybe I will get inspiration on my run....
FInally, Meghan on her blog referenced this book on the Cardinal Rules of Blogging, I am sure I have broken all of them but you know what, this is my blog......,heheheh, so I can blog when I want to and about what I want to..... as bug's bunny used to say...that's, that's, that's all folks......................
                     JB

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Seize the Day

      Well, my latest music to write an entry to is "Seize the Day", and "The World Ain't Slowing Down" both by Ellis Paul and I found Ellis Paul from my Beautiful World by Colin Hay station on Pandora.  My yoga continues to progress, so that is a positive, I got up from a backbend this week(with help) and that was after 5 backbends. I haven't gotten up from a backbend in about 8 years and today it felt much easier than 8 years ago. And I am seeing my body open more, and my shoulders loosen up( come on, I live in the City of Big Shoulders)and all that is very exciting to me because I can feel it affecting me mentally as well.
     This week has been about great food but in moderation, Ed Levine at Serious Eats keeps making progress on his weight loss despite being around amazing food all the time, and it is definitely possible to have a healthy relationship with great food. I am finding that I really have to practice eating much slower, being thankful for the creativity and effort that went into producing it and being particular about where the ingredients came from. I made Heidi's Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle broth. I found that I loved the broth, I am a total chipotle addict and the carmelized onions in the broth tasted great but I somehow messed up cooking the beans and they never got passed el dente, I tried to ignore the fact since I loved the broth but the soup is really about the beans, so I tossed it after giving it a couple of tries for lunch and dinner. I just could not get passed the too crunchy beans. But I may try making the broth again. Went to a great dinner at May Street Market that was sponsored by Chicago Gourmets and featured Sheila Lukens who cowrote the Silver Palate Cookbook and just came out with a new one, named Ten. Then this weekend is the Localicious Party on Friday, Family Farmed Expo and the Edible Chicago magazine booth that I am working at. How can anyone be in a bad mood around healthy food and happy people. And tonight I am going to try to go to Soiree Dada: Schmuckt Der Hallen at the DCA Storefront Theater that Don Hall, the Angry White Guy is directing.  Last year I was too scared to go the Dada show because they take people out of the audience and put them on stage and the thought of that was way too scary to me. Since then , I went to their summer show and at least have a small, fraction of an idea what to expect so my fears are eased or am I becoming less fearful about things.
   As far as running, that has suffered a little, it has been very cold here, and grey skies and I lose excitement about getting outside, but it is on the plan for tomorrow morning early. I have been mentally working on the Jagged Edge story but have not done much writing. I am finding I have tons of scenes but I feel not enough of a plot or dramatic arc in my story, but I going to get started on it today between the Family Farmed Expo and the Dada Show.
    So today has been a hopeful week, full of some personal breakthroughs and some things not accomplished. I kind of miss my old sales trading job. I am realizing there were times where I really enjoyed it. The key for me is to find balance. As my balancing poses in yoga improve so does balance in my life, funny how that works...But I am feeling a bit of running guilt that I need to get outside more no matter what the weather!!!!!!!!!!!! So hopefully I will make some progress on that.....
                               JB
                          


Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Write or Not to Write.....

           I have still been grappling with the question of how much I am willing to devote to really trying to get a story published either as book or a play. I somehow think it will just pop out of my head and I will sit down for 8 hours and I will finish it. However, when it boils down to it, creating a professional piece of work takes a lot of time and commitment, and I am scared to commit out of fear that it will be horrible and my fantasy of being an "Author" will be shattered and this idea I have that I can write well and that I have talent and that I have a lot of interesting stories to tell is all just a misconception, a delusion, blah, blah, blah..... Which somehow reminds me of one of my favorite songs of late, the Girl Who Won't Get Up, by The Sea of Is, while I sit here listening to my Beautiful World by Colin Hay station on Pandora.
             At my mother's house I found a few pieces of my writing from 6th grade and college. In 6th grade I wrote the following poem...Now remember..I was 11, so I apologize in advance for the rhymey, rhymey thing...
                                                       A Wish.....

                                    A mermaid is a special thing
                                        She has the ocean as her home
                                        The colors of the rainbow are her tail
                                        She can play, swim and roam,
                                        This is what I wish to be....

                                        A bird is free, it can fly,
                                        It has the boundaries of the sky.
                                        A bird has beauty, it can sing
                                        A bird has the luxury of a pair of wings,
                                        This is what I wish to be...

                                        A human is a special thing,
                                        It has a brain, it has voice,
                                        A human can laugh, cry or sing,
                                        A human is able to make a choice
                                        This is what I wish to be......

                                        All these things I wish to be,
                                        To own the sky, to own the sea,
                                        I wish I were 6ft. tall!
                                        But I like being human best of all.....

                 This is definitely a school girl's voice and I have always wanted to be taller but it still only reinforces why I love traveling so much and I love the mountains because when I am on a mountain top, I don't have wings, and I don't own the universe but it is the closest thing to feeling like a bird I guess besides sky diving or paragliding but I definitely feel free, not tied down and part of something bigger...I guess even as an 11 year old I had those thoughts.....And when I was at my mother's house I thought of my thoughts being home the summer after graduating from college and it was more filled with fear than excitement and I realized I have traveled and done far more things than I ever thought I would, but at the same time because of all those experiences I want more of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I heard someone bring up the saying, "do things you fear and courage will follow" and Meghan in her blog brought up the question, "What would you attempt to do if you  knew you wouldn't fail?" At first I couldn't come up with anything, then a few days later I realized, "yeah, I would totally put all the time into writing a book if I KNEW, it, and I, would be a SUCCESS". And Olga in her blog, has this quote, "If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place". SO I took a step and found out about the Stories and Wine Festival, from Julie Saltzman of the Uptown Writers Space. The Stories and Wine people have a submission deadline of December 1st for 1800 words, according to my calculations about 8 pages of writing or 10 minutes of reading. So my slacker excuse now is that I need to find a place where I am calm to write, in my apartment the To Do List constantly pops up in my head, get a more substantial job, work on the magazine, clean, bills, find a new recipe, cook something, email someone, network, call people, organize, phaff....I guess the Chicago, grey sky weather puts me in hunker down mode and I have to look at things like this Pacific Trails calendar for 2009, with the breath taking scenery that people actually do run through, to keep in mind the possibilities that exist if I put my energies into it....
             Meanwhile my left wrist has been sore so I am taking a few days break from yoga... I am not sure how I did it but I thought a zillion pushups on my left wrist was not a good thing right now...And a short run The Jingle Bell Jog is on the agenda for December and I have not signed up for the Huff 50K but am close to going for it......
                                                         JB




Monday, November 10, 2008

Trees and Trails


I was in Connecticut at the beginning of the week visiting my mother and brothers, I forget how pretty the trees are in the fall and the variety of trees(huge elms, maple and dogwoods) compared to the Midwest.  I got in a short run my first day there and it was fun to jog on rolling hills and surrounded by so many beautiful trees and it was my old run that I used to do to train for field hockey so that brought back memories and it was field hockey weather. But I never got the long run in that I planned, at my mother's, my slacker tendencies really start to kick in, so instead my last day there I helped to get rid of things and clean. These are pictures of the driveway to my mother's house and the lane that I grew up on, Huckleberry Lane. Houses are only on one side of the street so it is very woody.  As a kid, I went exploring in the woods all the time. Growing up, there were extensive horse riding trails all over but now with a lot of the open land developed the riding trails are gone. No wonder I love nature so much and trail runs. 
 I got back on Wednesday and this past Sunday I did the Universal Sole Trail run, the Rock N Sole Trail Challenge,  in Schiller Woods near O'Hare, 5.25 miles It is kind of surreal to be running through woods and see a 747 over your head about to land. It was freezing and sleeting when we started. What a difference from all the beautiful colors in the trees in Connecticut, the woods for the race were bare and grey. I did break 10 minutes/mile for my time despite being a trail run which was a break through for me, slow to some but faster of late for me. I love trail runs, I love hopping over logs and running up hills, it just makes the race much more fun and I love taking long strides down the straight away on a carpet of spongy leaves(while listening to my run faster song, Move Along), it is less stress on my legs that I don't worry about pushing off hard. Needless to say I started off freezing and by the end of the race I had peeled off hat, gloves and my outer layer. My slacker voice in my head at the start of the race was thinking, "will my legs move?", "will I be able to run I haven't been running that much this week?", "all the people here seem pretty hard core I have the potential to be last". I did have the potential to be last, there weren't a lot of "my people" there but actually I came in in the middle of the pack which I was pretty happy about.  A great guy named Eric(he is a real runner and came in first in his age group) gave me a ride to and from the race, so I didn't have to bicycle there and I made it just in time to get to the store and work for the rest of the day.  The grey skies get to me after awhile but running so well(for me) in the race gives me hope that my slacker tendencies may be taking a back seat for awhile. I will never be a very fast runner, I think my best avg/mile time during my fittest period of my life was a 6:45/mile. I will be happy just getting back to an 8 minute mile for a 10K which I am not close to, yet. I am past the point of being happy just finishing, but I am one of those people on a slow path of improvement so every little tiny bit of progress I see is HUGE for me. In races like this one that are small and I still see 60 and 70 year olds running 8/9 minute miles gives me great hope that it is possible to improve as you age. The Turkey Trot is on the calendar for Thanksgiving although I get sad that I won't be skiing at Snowbird which had been part of my Thanksgiving ritual for about 10+ years,  run the Turkey Trot, and then hop on a plane to Salt Lake the same day and be up at the Cliff Lodge by 9 pm Utah time. I got in 3 days of skiing up there for about 10 years. And I am still pondering the Huff 50K for the end of the year.
        Finally, I have done no work on "The Jagged Edge", I like blogging, I write in my journal but I have "not been in the mood/motivated" to work on the story. This gets me thinking how much do I really want to write a story? I do but like a lot of things that are good for me, I somehow put them off and do the things I am "suppose to do", like keep my apartment clean(it also makes me feel more in control of things when I clean), write in my journal, search endless online for the answer to many things, at the end of a lot of poems I used to end them with,"I wish someone had the answer", work at the store, work on the magazine, job hunt. I guess I haven't been quiet or still enough to be in the mood to write about the story. My goal for the week is to find some quiet time for an hour or two and sit down and write. It is really calming and fulfilling to write 6-8 pages. It is just a matter of getting started.  To be continued. JB

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ashtanga, Ambivalence and Commitment

Well, I was hoping to write a post(as I write this I am listening to my latest favorite channel on Pandora, the Beautiful World by Colin Hay channel-Pandora creates this for you by just specifying a song that you like) about running the Chicago Ultra that took place this past Saturday. The store manager where I work finished the 50K part of the North Face Challenge races in Madison, WI. He has been under a hectic schedule and still managed to get enough training in to finish the race, no matter how painful, he finished it!!!  His finish really motivated me to give the Chicago 50K a shot. I had hesitated signing up  because the entry fee was close to $75 and I didn't want to shell out the dough unless I was going to do it(my slacker tendency has been to flake out of races even if I have spent the money to sign up). I went to Fleet Feet the day before the race to sign up and found out the race cap had been met and it was closed. I was really, really disappointed because I had that mind set of "just doing it" and I really wanted to try. I decided I had to accept that it was the universe saying it was not my time to do it. Now I have this idea to enter the Huff 50K that takes place December 27th, issues are the race takes place in Indiana, I have to find transportation, a place to stay, etc. But this is my current idea so I can finish 2008 at least saying that I attempted a 50K, part of the reason for this blog is for me to stop thinking and what "iffing" and instead, doing or at least attempting these things I either dream about or think about. On the agenda for next week is the Universal Sole trail run, the Rock N Sole trail challenge on Sunday, a short race but through the woods. 
     So instead of getting up and going to the race at 5am in the morning Saturday, I got up at 6:30(well, okay, I hit snooze several times, so it was more like 7am) had coffee and biked the 40 minute ride to Yoga View, and took Tom's Ashtanga Primary Class. I am in love with the Primary Series, can I be in love with yoga? I love skiing, I love climbing, I love trekking, I love biking. I guess it is that I recently realized how I love yoga, like I love skiing, it is that entire consumption of my focus and my mind, and the exhilaration I get from the activity . There is something about the sequence, no matter how ugly some of my attempts at the poses are, that is really soul satisfying. It is hard to put into words, but half of me is anxious at the start of a Primary Series class, my slacker thoughts come into play, "will some of the poses hurt to much", "will I hurt myself", "will I be too creaky" because the class is really demanding, at least for me. But then the other half of me really enjoys how I have to be fully present to go through the series and once we say the opening prayer and go through the opening sun salutations which are very gentle, I get happy that I am there. My intention that I say to myself for every yoga class I take is "to be kind and gentle with myself" which with ashtanga means not necessarily going to that "jagged edge"(I couldn't help using the term) where a lot of live wires are dangling in whatever part of my body the pose is reaching into and if I feel like I have gone there first I breath, and then I back off a little. The beginning sequences are all these opening postures which I am getting better at and which for me are good to do because they physically open me(like a chiropractic session with the noises of bones moving around included) but I feel emotionally and spiritually they open me up and at this point I am close to being warmed up and I lose my panic about being limber enough to go through the series, doing backwards rolls make me happy for some reason, doing headstands makes me happy, and then towards the end after I feel like I have done a zillion pushups and am really tired at the same time I feel at peace with my body and all its warts and I feel completely at peace with myself. It is one of the few activities that I lose the ego, and the self consciousness I carry with me most of the time and just become one with the moments although there are moments of internal laughter as I see how stuck my body is in places but it doesn't get me mad or frustrated, I just kind of accept that is where I am. the series somewhat connects to my inner gymnast(I was a gymnast in high school and college, not particularly great but I liked it). After class I am on this mental plane of contentment.  The adjustments that Bill, Tom, and Eva(who assisted Tom in his class) give are really satisfying because it seems they each have the talent and experience of how far to gently push my body more than I am willing to, and the opening the adjustments create are kind of like Aha moments, it is is exciting to see, hey, my body can actually do that. There is something with this sequence that has a powerful impact on me mentally and spiritually.  My goal at the start of this year was to learn the Primary series and start going to the morning Mysore classes and I have revised that goal because the task for me is a little more formidable than I anticipated so I will be happy if I have half of the series memorized by the end of the year.
    Finally, my third theme for this post, ambivalence. Way too big a category to really expound on, suffice it to say I am not ambivalent about yoga anymore, I am fully committed to making my classes but I have started realizing how I am ambivalent on some important things relative to my life.  How committed I am to writing, to finishing an ultra, to moving to Aspen, Telluride, to finding a job that I make my monthly cash flow to a lot of things. At least with finishing an ultra, I may not get the training in but kind of sad to say but I am great at "pushing through the pain", kind of the theme for part of not all of my life. I am beginning to realize there is good and bad pain and yoga is making me realize that, sometimes it can be painful but healthy to work on certain things in my body/in life. My computer dictionary's definition of pain is suffering or discomfort. I don't necessarily want to suffer but some things can be discomfortable and still good for me at the same time, like opening parts of my body in yoga that have been closed for some reason or another. So an ultra I somehow know even if I am not completely committed, if I am somewhat committed I can finish. Writing for me is a different story. I am really questioning how committed am I to writing? I write this blog, I write in a journal, but I have all these ideas for plays, stories, a book maybe. The question for me is, AM I really committed to at least trying to make publishing a story, play, book happen? I have given the book idea thing a shot but that was a shot in the dark attempt, 40 letters, 40 agents, 40 No's with a 4 hopeful responses. IF I really(I don't know this yet) want to craft and finish a story, play to the best of my ability I really have to commit. I have to add structure in my life to make a real attempt not a half hearted attempt that allows me to make excuses for failure.  Have I written much about The Jagged Edge of late, a little, yes, but have I written every day, no...... If I want to make the story happen and finish it and move onto the next, I have to commit...it is easier to go to a yoga class which is a definite thing or run a race which is a definite thing, climbing a mountain is a concrete thing, trekking over a pass is concrete, physical activities are very satisfying because they are concrete and have a beginning and an end,  working on something creative is a different kettle of fish..........SO this it with my slacker thoughts for the week...
                            JB

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Electroglobicity


One of my slacker projects over the last 10 years or so was to take pictures of electric poles when I saw them on any of my trips and then frame them. This was part of my Electroglobicity project, the ultimate goal was to have a wall full of pictures from remote places all over the world of electricity poles to document the scope of how the world is wired. These are a few of the photos, I have about 20 or so all together, the bottom sunset was taken from a bus I was on, going from Arusha, Tanzania to Nairobi Kenya after I climbed Kilimanjaro and went on safari to the Ngorogoro crater, the pole in the field was taken near the Waimea caves on the north island in New Zealand and the bigger poles in the field was taken outside Prague in the Czech Republic while I was bicycling near Budvar. Just a couple of weeks ago I thought of this project which I had basically mothballed and put away due to space, lack of traveling, the thought that it was kind of a silly project and I wrote a brief essay on the subject.......
                "I sit on the bus to Urbana from Chicago and I see power lines in a field. I could be in the Czech Republic, Zingjiang province in northwestern China, Bolivia or Urbana, Il and the picture will basically be the same. a power line in the middle of open space. The world is a grid, I wonder how far one could travel if you linked the wire from all the power lines and cables on the planet, would it reach Mars, Venus or the ex-planet Pluto? The world is an electroglobal planet, we are all linked by power. The energy of electricity is everywhere, you know what they say, electricity is in the air. When I flew into Nairobi and drove to Arusha, a lot of the landscape was dark, there was no grid 10 years ago. I bet if I went back there, they are now linked in, turned on, lit up.  The planet is all about power and being linked in..............................

So now onto my next project writing a chapter a week about the fictional store, the Jagged Edge.....The first chapter opens with my character muttering to herself, "lobotomy, lobotomy, lobotomy" which is my mantra now in order to keep my sanity when I work at the store, if I tried to use my brain and look around and question things I would go insane so it is better to just turn myself off.....However, right now I do feel like life is a bit like living on a jagged edge.....
                   JB

Friday, September 26, 2008

Slacker Uprising


Was reading the papers and blogs this morning, one being Angry White Guy, I knew Michael Moore was coming out with a new movie but I did not know the title, the title says it all, Slacker Uprising.  Go to the link for a preview, I could not help but make an extra post on this!

And an example of my slackerdom is that I went on a jog to Olive Park, did some sun salutations, handstands, cartwheels and situps and then jogged on the rock wall, on the beach, sprinted along the water jogged back to Chicago Avenue and then jumped in the lake and was very appreciative of the fact that I was able to do this at 10:30 in the morning before I went in to work at the store. Having the lake so close to me and so clean(to me) that I have not suffered any ill effects from the water(so far) is a minor miracle living in such a big city!
jb
                   

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Birthdays and Ashtanga

My birthday was last week the 17th and I think something was in the air because a lot of things started to bubble up in my head. Last year I made a list on the site 43 Things, and one of them was to learn the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series.  I have been attempting to practice yoga for many years but I was never really at a physical or mental place to really move forward with the practice. I was a gymnast in high school so a lot of the asanas that might be new to people, headstands, handstands, backward rolls and backbends I knew I could do, I just was afraid to attempt them because I was really out of touch with my body for awhile. Well, this spring I took a workshop with Lino Miele, where I went through every asana(posture) in the Primary Series and when I left the workshop I felt so content and happy for most of the weekend it was almost unbelievable. However, since then I just kept putting off going through the series again because they are very, very rigorous and I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind. Well, I took a Primary series class at YogaView this past Tuesday night, where Bill Shapleigh lead us through the entire series. Now I of course did not accomplish every single posture but I got through the whole thing again and was so happy when I was done. I left thinking how yoga is really a part of my life and of how I am so happy that I have my body back again and that I am moving forward mentally and physically. It all goes back to Pakistan last summer as I was struggling up the glacier and I realized, we all have a choice physically as we get older, to take the path of giving in to age and saying I'm too old, I can't do it, or to take the path of opening new pathways in our body, and actually improving physically with age. After the Tim Miller workshop, a couple of weeks ago and seeing Lino in the spring it just showed me it is entirely possible to improve your strength and flexibility as you get older. I left the class Tuesday night mentally and spiritually in such a great place, I realized the more yoga becomes more important mentally and spiritually to me, the more I actually see physical improvements when I practice.  There are people out there who live and breath chi, like Steve Ilg and his focus of Wholistic Fitness. I just feel very lucky that we have such a great yoga community in Chicago, and that Yoga View exists, and that for me I have to make my emotional and spiritual well being the number one priority which for me means getting to yoga twice a week whether it be the incredible Paul Weiss, BIll Shapleigh or Tom Quinn. But because of yoga I am back to doing cartwheels and handstands and handstands into bridges, all of which I thought I would never be able to do again. With all the people I hear complaining about their health, I feel really lucky to feel so vibrant!!! My plan for the week is to go to Tom Quinn's ashtanga class on Saturday morning at 8am......

Namaste
                       JB

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Goats



This weekend was action packed, I took a class with Tim Miller at Yoga View on Friday night that was all about the bandhas used in yoga. It was a perfect start to my weekend, Tim explained and demonstrated and we tried to employ the bandhas and understand their purpose or what one tries to achieve, but what I took away is how yoga is such a mental practice and not a physical one and I left the class on Friday night with a sense of peace. I only wished that I could have taken his classes all weekend!!!!!! 
Then I left Saturday morning on a field trip to see the happy goats at Prairie Fruits Farm.  Pastoral sponsored a field trip to the Champaign Farmer's market and then to a visit and tour of the farm. The vendors at the Green City Market have had a lot of tomatoes, however, one of the vendors in Urbana, had the following heirloom varieties, Cosmonaut Volkov, Goldie, Eve's Purple Ball, Black Prince, Garden Peach, Buffalo, Japanese Black Trifele, Roma(Yellow, Red, Black Plum), Green Zebra, Pink Beauty, Celebrity, Arbason, Brandywine, Striped German and Aunt Ruby's German Green and I probably missed some, but I had the thought of how I won't look at tomatoes as just a tomato anymore. At the market I worked on an essay related to my photo project on Electroglobicity which I hadn't thought of for a long time. I came up with this word to account for how the world is basically wired from top to bottom almost everywhere for electricity and on the drive to the market we passed fields with electric poles in the middle which is a scene that is common in almost every farm in every country on every continent and for a period of time, I took pictures of electricity poles wherever I was to document it in a way....But I digress....
 From the market we went to Prairie Fruits where Leslie gave a tour of the cheeserie and we saw the painstaking process of making the cheese and all the rooms for each different humidity needed for the different types of cheese. It just made me realize how precious each little tub of cheese is when you consider all the loving energy that has gone into making it. Then we had an amazing lunch on their porch made with the vegetables and herbs they grow on the farm, of course cheese and some local grilled meat from a nearby organic cow farm. In the afternoon we met the very friendly goats who love to eat almost anything. We left the farm with a little bit of happy goat karma.
 Then to top off my weekend I got up Sunday and biked the 45 minutes down to 63rd St and Jackson Park for the Chicago Half marathon start at 7:30am. I made it just in time, to throw my bike against a tree, drop off my bag and get to the start line. It was raining lightly when we started but after about 5 miles, it began to pour and it seemed like it just kept raining harder and harder, of course, my nano stopped working at 6 miles, my back up radio didn't work so I was musicless for half of the race which I felt was a karmic lesson for me to savor the noises of the racers around me but it was very hard, I LOVE MY MUSIC!!!!!! I kept thinking of the bandhas when I was running and breathing in as much air as possible. It actually was kind of warm, just very, very wet. But after about 9 miles, I decided I couldn't run much slower and I just got into sherpa mode and put my eyes the road in front of me and told myself, one foot in front of the other. I also kept thinking this was only 13 miles, AND I HAVE aspirations to do a 50K, I kept telling myself, this was only 13 miles and I could finish. All I know, is that I in the shape or lack there of I was in and how it felt jogging 13 miles, I couldn't imagine the training I have to do to run 30+ and I got a little frustrated when I saw some of the people that were passing me. And I thought of the uber Speed Goat Karl Meltzer, who is here now of his run of the Appalachian Trail....
I did finish in the pouring rain and then I got on my one speed bike and biked home against the rain and wind. I kinda of enjoyed the weather, for some reason, I feel more alive when I really have to battle the elements, however, I was happy that I was heading home to a hot shower rather than being in the middle of China and heading to my tent. 
I have aspirations to run like a mountain goat, maybe not a Wasatch Speed Goat, but in the middle of the race I thought about creating different speed goat levels relative to my fitness and at least I feel I am at level one, the farm goat.  I realize I really need to move to the mountains where I will have a playground to train in, rather than the flatlands here. But as I said to myself in the race, everything is a journey, one step at a time and at least I was there participating and I am happy that I did!!!!!!!!!!
Ciao..........

Saturday, September 6, 2008

BIg Shoulders Swim on a great day



Well, the athlete voice won out at 7:35 this morning, and I got up, had coffee and got out the door and biked to the Big Shoulders race. This was a personal triumph for me!!! In the grand scheme of things, finishing a 2.5K swim is not a big deal when I read on blogs about some of the incredible things people are doing, Karl Meltzer and the ultra running adventures of Olga and her merry crew of ultra friends, and my friend Judy, who finishes an Olympic distance triathlon while having a full time finance job, living in Manhattan and after having 3 boys!!! Are you getting the reason why I feel like a slacker???
 
        So, the conversation between athlete Jeannie and slacker Jeannie went like this, this morning at 6:35 when my alarm went off, 
S : Oh, it is only 6:35 I can sleep another 1/2 hour, then get up, have coffee and be able to get to the race on time.
So I go back to sleep and the alarm rings at 7:05
S: Oh, I can sleep another 10 minutes and then get up
A: If I don't do this race it will be another year before I have a chance and I know if I don't do it I will be really disappointed in myself.
S:Oh, the water will probably be really cold, I am so out of shape, I will feel horrible in the water. This bed feels so warm and cozy...................
The alarm goes off...
I hit the snooze again
S:Oh, I still have time, it is not my drop dead time yet...this bed feels so comfortable, I am so out of shape do I really want to put myself through the torture of a race?
A: I have been so fearful of life things lately, this is a great way to face my physical fears, this swim is nothing, it is just the first leg of a triathlon, I have been a slacker for far too long and deep down I really do want to do this race, I will be really, really disappointed in myself if I don't do it. At the very worst I can do breast stroke the entire time and finish and there will be people doing a 5k, so I know worst case I can finish.
S: This bed feels so great, the water is going to feel so cold, I am so out of shape...
A: I will be disappointed, I don't want to be disappointed, I have to face my fears and this one is an easy one..
The alarm goes off at 7:40
A:Uh oh, the first wave starts at 8:00 and my wave goes off at 8:20, I had better make coffee and book it out of here..I guess if I miss my wave I wasn't meant to do it.....

             Well, I got out of the apartment, ran into Lee an old friend from my Masters Swim team days at the East Bank Club, I always seem to run into Lee at these kind of events, he was the first one I ran into the last time I did the Accenture triathlon.
             The one thing about swimming which is good and bad, there are all shapes and sizes, which is good because I don't feel like the fattest most out of shape person out there, but swimming fitness is deceiving, because some of those out of shape looking people are very fast despite their appearance,  so my excuse for not training (my slacker mind is great at coming up with reasons for why not) concentrating on a sport that doesn't necessarily make you thinner isn't necessarily a good one for me. 
             Anyways, the short of the race, I finished, it was ugly, and as I am swimming parallel to the LakeFront I see all these CARA running groups, it is amazing the number of people that are involved in the marathon training pace groups and of course, my slacker, low self esteem thought while swimming in the water was, "wow..all these people are out first thing in the morning running, wow, I really need to get my butt out the door and train more for distance races" But I will say I felt strong towards the end of the race, it felt great to swim, the water was amazingly clean, perfect temperature, the day was beautiful and I am SOOOOOOOO happy I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!! But I am happy that I swam in a lake, no matter how big Lake Michigan is rather than an ocean. The first buoy felt like it took forever to get to and I didn't have to worry about any sea creatures, just random algae strands.
           So the plan for next weekend is action packed, yoga at Yogaview with Tim Miller which is always really inspirational and then Saturday I am going to see the happy goat cheese people on a trip with Pastoral, and then Sunday I have the Chicago Half Marathon,  and then work at the store. But for once, the slacker was put at bay!!!!!
But Olga at her blog has this quote which I keep posted and remind myself of:
  "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!!!!!!" from Howard Thurman
But it is so true, and I am trying to do and not think about things.....And I do feel more alive after doing the swim.....so progress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah........

           Ciao Jeannie


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sophie, the Dog Star



Several friends have either had illnesses with their animals or their pets died which reminded me of my old dog, Sophie, who died last summer. I wrote this essay which explains a lot about her right after I had heard she was dead.

A Dog Star
I call my mother once a week now. I used to call her everyday but her responses on the phone are beginning to sound like a tape-recording, “How’s the weather? How’s Sophie? Have you seen Sophie?”
Sophie is a German Short Hair pointer I had for 12 years who was born under a lucky star. My friends nicknamed her “Sophie, the Wonder Dog”. I acquired her in 1996, in Central Park while on a jog, and stopped to pet her. In talking, the woman walking her, told me, Sophie came from an animal shelter but the dog was too high energy for her so she was looking for someone else to adopt the dog. I had just gotten a new job, a new weekend house in the Hamptons and had just split up with a boyfriend who had a wired haired pointer. I had fallen in love with pointers rather than him. So after a night’s rest, I called the woman and agreed to the deal, I would adopt Sophie.
                  The next 3 years, included Sophie’s disappearance in Central Park for 7 hours after her prong collar broke while being walked. I soon found that she would grab small dogs as if they were chew toys to play with, so Sophie became “the Dog Who Bites Little Dogs”. We passed a dog obedience class at the ASPCA(Sophie wore a muzzle), I took her for long jogs in Central Park but that didn’t deter her from biting another dog while a movie was being filmed. Sophie and I would get in a rental car every weekend to go to East Hampton which included her jumping through a screen window of the tiny cottage I had rented for the summer.
                      When I moved to Chicago, in 1997, I made sure the bank included “dog moving expenses”. The next 10 years would be filled with all sorts of Sophie stories. I met with dog trainers, talked to my vet, exercised her all the time, and had her walked 3 times a day. But Sophie stayed a defensively aggressive dog. Perhaps, she loved me too much and vice versa. Her last year in Chicago, I took Sophie to the Animal Emergency Clinic 3 different times for enterotomies. As my life got more stressful, she would eat the carpet like ramen noodles. To see an animal that was so willful and full of energy walking around with her entire underbelly stapled together was heart breaking. The last straw occurred when I needed to move from my beautiful 2-bedroom apartment with tons of windows to a studio. I knew I wouldn’t have the room Sophie required or the money to get her the exercise she needed as well.
                      Then my friend Kirstin, from Moab, Utah visited me a few months before I needed to make the move. It turned out that Kirstin was looking to adopt an older dog, she was separating from her husband and thought focusing on a new dog would help her get through this rough period. Good fortune!! I dropped her off in Moab a month later.
                      I visited Sophie last May. She certainly looked like a granny dog with a white, grey, grizzly muzzle and she was hobbling around a bit but she had otherwise turned into a new dog. Sophie lived in Kirstin’s house with 2 cats. She obeyed off leash and got along with other dogs. Basically the hikes and exercise Sophie had by living near Canyonlands National Park had eradicated all her neurotic city behavior. On my visit while I sat reading a book in the sun on the back porch, Sophie sat on her dog bed, listening to the birds and the wind go through the cottonwoods, no fire engines, ambulances, buses or construction sounds like she heard every day when she lived in the city. Sophie did live up to her reputation as the ‘wonder dog” over New Year’s 2007, she got lost in the woods in Castle Valley an area about 15 miles from Moab when Sophie was being watched by a friend. Sophie survived for 3 days in the wilderness, with freezing weather and hungry coyotes to make it 5 miles in the right direction back to town before she was found. Sophie lived under a lucky dog star.
                          Kirstin called me last week, usually we trade emails so I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I called back and Kirstin told me that Sophie was not doing well. Since May, Sophie became incontinent. She fell down all the time and continued trying to break out of the house by jumping through screens. Sophie had not lost her willfulness but was going downhill fast. My immediate reaction was a picture of this grinning, willful, intelligent dog curled up on her most comfortable dog bed in my Chicago living room. I thought, ” No, you can’t put her to sleep, she is suppose to live forever.” I also realized Sophie had lived a peaceful, contented life these last 2 years, no operations, lots of dogs, lots of birds and lots of fresh air and love. Sophie had really connected with her inner wolf.
                                  I got an email from Kirstin today. She said that Sophie is now buried in the backyard underneath one of her favorite cottonwood trees and that her spirit will live on. I am sad but I know that backyard is a beautiful, peaceful, place that Sophie loved. I have not called my mother to let her know that Sophie has died. I need to. If I call and tell Mom that Sophie is dead who knows if she will remember? Sophie died with peacefulness and dignity. Who knows how long my mother will live, it could be years and years and how much farther she will deteriorate? If only humans lived under the same lucky star my dog Sophie did.

                                  My sentiments are still the same, I wish humans could be treated as humanely when it comes to death the way we treat our beloved animals. My mother still has her memory, but her life consists of smoking cigarettes, watching TV and sleeping. She sees her grand daughter every now and then and my brother watches over her.  We have not yet gotten to the point of putting her in a facility but we are close. She always said in her fits of anger that she wanted to die in the house, but how much longer can my brother wash and feed her? Time is ticking away but we are not quite there yet.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pakistan Part 2 and musings






Below is the link to my  slide/movie on You Tube I made from the pictures of my Pakistan trip. There is a  3 second video in it, that I made by accident but it somehow captures the moment perfectly. You hear heavy breathing, then a sigh, then a plop and see my boots sitting out my front door. Every day when I arrived into camp the first thing I would do is get my boots off. Never, on any trek/climb that I have done have I ever had my feet hurt so much on a trip. That is why I titled the project, "It's All About the Feet", because I was trying to keep the weight of my trek bag down, all duffles were carried by the porters on their backs and most carried 2 duffles, I brought only one pair of boots.  I think my bag porter, Reliait, carried 3 bags that in total were probably twice his weight. The porters on the trip were a constant reminder of work ethic and happiness on the job. Not to say that some of them weren't miserable at times, but for the most part being a porter was a very social job and they chit chatted with each other the entire time and worked really, really hard but seemed happy. That is why I called my "keeper"(I think he was assigned to make sure I did not kill myself) Mohammed Khan, the mayor of the Baltoral. He knew almost every porter that we ran into. But I brought my old leather hiking shoes that I had worn for many years and did not bring a soft pair of boots. I learned my lesson about making sure that your shoes are as comfortable as possible. I think I will now go for comfort over "the proper shoe" on my next trip, which I hope will be soon!!!!  Mohammed Khan wore tennis shoes the entire time.  I didn't get blisters because I knew to Vaseline my feet every day but the daily up and down over the rock and ice was a killer on my feet but mentally I am tough so I made it no matter how sore and achy my feet were. 
The last 2 minutes of the project are pictures of me from other places I have been. I feel really lucky to have traveled as much as I have but it never is enough. After college I started on the money track not the "do what I love track" for a lot of reasons, mostly dysfunctional, which I won't go into, however, I was able to see a lot of places. But I think I was born with the explorer gene because there are too many interesting places to go and not enough time, my priority was always traveling and doing, not getting married(although my family issues had a little bit to do with the marriage thing too), no matter how many great men I met, or fell in love with...........Here is the 5 second, accidental, boot video,the sounds capture how I was feeling, the cold, the altitude, my fatigue, the gosh darn boots!!!!!
                        
                           
video

Here is the link on YouTube to the slides with music of my Pakistan trip and some of my other travels... Pakistan slideshow link
                           


I did my multi-sport run today which includes, sprinting/jogging, a stop, cartwheels, handstands, and some sun salutations and other yoga stretches, 50 situps with legs and hands raised above the ground, a run back to my access off the Lakefront and a quick jump and 10 second swim in the lake.  The latest running song I have been listening to is Afterglow from the album "Im on to You"by Ian Axel, I found it through Pandora. There was a period of time when I wrote a lot of poetry(pretty bad poetry, I primarily keep it to myself but in total about 40 poems that I consider all under the title of "Turbulence".) But at the end of most of the poems, I wrote, "I wish someone had the answer?" And in Afterglow, yes, I am staying on topic, he kind of answers my question which is why the song makes me happy. I go through phases of running to hard, intense songs to gooey, happy songs, this one borders on gooey but is not over the top. The song I listen to while I am doing my handstands and cartwheels is Dry the Rain by the Beta Band which is on the sound track of High Fidelity. The song crescendos in the end and they keep repeating "everything will be alright" which is what I need to hear right now!!!!  After I finish a run I put on my mellower songs which lately I have been on a Donovan kick, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow. Donovan is timeless I think and reminds me of my first trip to Aspen, there was the Mellow Yellow taxi service and he played Mellow Yellow in his cab.
I did not go to yoga, today, I was working on learning about video, which videos certainly take a long enough time to upload, and YouTube(yes, a slacker excuse) and I got up late, another slacker habit....and my project tonight is to braise some fennel using Alice Water's recipe. I did make her pancakes and they were great, she has you separate out the yolks from the eggs and whip the egg whites before incorporating them into the batter which makes for fluffier pancakes. My plan for tomorrow is to go for a 1 1/2 hour run before my monthly store meeting at 8:45am... The question is....Will my slacker habits come into play????????????????????? I really am trying to reform...really!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                      Ciao......

                         



Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pakistan

A year ago today I was on my way down the Baltoro glacier from my trek up to K2 basecamp in Baltistan, Pakistan. The trip was a pivotal moment in my slacker life. I am about 35 lbs lighter now than last year and much fitter. I have written about it at In The Know Traveler. The original trip was to climb the Gondogoro Pass but I got eliminated at Concordia(the main camp and crossroads of the Baltoro valley)because the guide, Jonathan, told me I was suffering from altitude sickness, I had racoon eyes. But that was somewhat of an excuse because I have had racoon eyes(my eyelids swelled) before and then they go away, it is part of my acclimatization routine. He eliminated me because the group was too big to get over the pass and I was one of the slowest. In someways I was happy to get eliminated because there were a couple of personalities on the trip that were really annoying. One guy was a personality polluter, he just could never stop talking and was somewhat of an alpha male, bulldog type. There are great alpha males who are interesting and attractive and annoying ones. He was the latter. There was a woman with her husband who had just graduated from medical school and had the "I am the smartest person in the world" complex and everyone else is stupid. She was one of those people who always had to be right and have the last word, her husband was sweet and somewhat of a "lap husband". And of course, she and the BullDog got along great. I was pissed at myself half the time and discouraged, I had become "That Person", "The Slacker" of the group, I am used to being one of the fit ones, the one who makes it to the summit, I actually had a moment on the trail where I broke down in tears, I couldn't believe, I had become "That Person!" I had underestimated the fitness level needed for the trip but I am pretty mentally tough so I was slow but "not that slow" and I am not a complainer, and I was so happy to be surrounded by this absolutely gorgeous scenery that I kept up in my own way,(part of slackerdom, you have an affinity for stopping and smelling the roses, we are very good at that), I didn't stop that much and I left earlier in the morning so I did not ever "slow down" the group. I learned a long time ago, when golfing, the key thing is to keep up the pace and when trekking, go at your own pace if you have to leave early and come in late but never "slow down" the group.  I had an epiphany at Concordia. I realized I could either go the route of doing less and less as I got older or I get myself in gear and get fitter and that it was totally possible to be very fit as I got older. And I realized there are a lot of people, particularly in the flatlands who say, I am too old, it is scary, it hurts too much, and there are people who say let's do it!!! I want to go down the path of doing rather than watching and making it work rather than coming up with reasons why it can't. I realized at Concordia that I had to focus from then on, on things that I really care about and not things that I felt I should do.
   However, now, I am really sad that I don't have a trip planned to the mountains. A friend who is a guide, Ade Summers is in Kazakhstan right now and he was just in Bolivia and before that Nepal. There are too many places to see in this world and too many, non-touristy mountain ranges to trek and climb in and I have to somehow figure out how to make it work so I can go back and do and see them.
    My top ten places I want to go:1) Simien Mountains, Ethiopia, 2)Rwenzori's ,The Mountains of the Moon and gorilla sighting, 3)Tien Shan, Kazakhstan, The Celestial Mountains,  4) volcanoes of Kamchatka, 5)ski to the North Pole, 6)Aconcagua(have heard it is a boring slog, but it would be nice to summit none the less, 7)see Angkor Wat in Cambodia, 8)go to Danny Paradise's yogaweek in thailand, 9)Trek in some of the less well known valleys in Nepal, 10)Finish the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa and the go on safari to see the hippos in Kruger National Park...
  I am still looking for able to live-on compensation rather than college student pay even though I still feel like I am working and am perfectly tired at the end of an 8 hour shift an outdoor goods retailer on Michigan Avenue. I like helping people with "outerwear issues" and I love the windows of the store on the 2nd floor but I am very overqualified for the job and it is at that point where I am getting restless and really want to have more responsibility, more pay and most of importantly be challenged more and feel that I am using my talents which at this moment I am being completely underutilized.  During the summertime we don't get as many international customers, which for me is the best part of the job, it reminds me that there is a big world out there. So time for me to go on my run, of course I am going on the short run versus the long route, part of my slacker tendencies, but it is a beautiful day here, and I will bike to yoga later and I got to the Green City market and had my wheat grass this morning, so slacker life is good today and I am listening to Pandora(which is the greatest by the way) as I write this.......and I found out about a movement, Slow Bikes, which is all about seeing the world slowly on a bike, which is definitely me as I bike around Chicago.  So for today, it is okay being a Slacker and Slow biker.... Ciao....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beginnings


Beginnings are fun, for me they always bring, hope, optimism, change. After getting a new MacBook about a year, being let go from my job, bond sales(I'm in a retail job at the moment,now), I have migrated to the blog world/zine world as my main source of information. Among my daily reads have been some Chicago blogs, AngryWhiteGuy, Meghan's Blaah, Hungry Magazine, some food blogs, Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks, Michael Ruhlman, Egg Beater,among others, some ultra running blogs, Fast Foodie, Run More Talk Less,my spiritual and physical guides, Coach Steve Ilg and Joy Ananda Kilpatrick at Wholistic Fitness,(I subscribe to his blog, Direct Lines) Michelle at My InnerWorld, and of course the standard news, information blogs, Salon,(I am a Salon Premium member), New York Times, Boing Boing and Digg. I just like being aware of things, and of what's going on, maybe high yield bond sales was a good profession for me, because I like knowing a little about a lot of things. After all, there are so many interesting things to learn about out there, but yes, that is kind of "the slacker in me",  because a good corporate citizen or professional knows a lot about a specific thing...I was one of those kids who always wanted to know everything, which managers of course don't necessarily like because the corporate world is ruled by control and by withholding information or making it privileged to the chosen few. 
       Now from the sounds of all the blogs I read, you probably think I spend hours on my computer a day, which goes back to the whole concept of this blog, my slackerness. I don't really spend hours a day but there is a lot of great information on the web. I am a foodie and love to read and stay in touch with the food blog world, because I would love to be an accomplished cook some day but my slacker tendencies slow me down in that arena. Are you getting the drift of my blog now? I would love to finish an ultra-marathon this year(I have run 7 marathons and jogged 8) and reading some of the ultra-marathoning blogs are really motivational to me, to realize that yes, there are people who are out there doing these things, it is not just a dream or vision. I live in the flatlands of Chicago, home to a great number of watchers and fans, not necessarily doers. Yes, THERE ARE DOERS in Chicago too, but, when you walk down the street or get on a plane going to Chicago, there is a distinct difference in the size of the people. If you had a plane load of people going to Portland, Oregon , home to the Hood to Coast race(I organized a team, The Wild Onions to participate 2 years in a row)and a plane load going to Chicago, you can tell which people are which. Chicago is home to the "ultimate sports fan", the sitter, the watcher, so blogs are great to show me people are putting their ideas into action. 
In my old life of a bond salesman, I was forced to listen to TV all day and the talking heads of MSNBC and it is all chatter and blah, blah, blah. I looked at a bond job a little bit like surfing without the fun of the physicalness of it, I was constantly trying to keep up with the waves of information, the stock market was up, it was down, the Fed is coming out with a number, Bernanke said this or that. It wasn't information I necessarily was passionate about or highly interested in and I could go away on vacation for 10 days(another slacker tendency) and come back and it was the same thing all over again. So, I love the web because I have control over ferreting out the information that I want. However, in the bond and corporate world, surfing the web is a major slacker tendency. So I basically have all these slacker tendencies that I am trying to find a middle ground to. Having "slacker" tendencies is anti-American, anti-Corporate, frowned upon by society.  Did I mention I am not a morning person, another slacker tendency. SO my thought with this blog is to document my attempts to mesh my slacker tendencies with my goals. I think there are people out there who have slacker tendencies as well and you know, it is hard being a slacker in a world of worker bees. Someone once said to me, it is hard being an introvert in an extroverted world. IT IS, and it is hard being a slacker in a Type A oriented world. But I really think there is a moderate ground I am just trying to find it. Time for me to bike the Green City Market here to get my dose of wheat grass and shopping in. Who knows, this could be my first, last and only post, but this blogging thing is a whole new world!!!!!!  Ciao....