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