Tossing it to the universe

My daughter shared an interesting concept with me a few days ago, and I’ve been mulling it over. I don’t remember exactly how she worded it, but the basic idea is that if you want something, you need to toss positive suggestions out into the universe to help make it happen. New age-y, I know, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Hear me out….

How many of us don’t think twice about letting loose a string of bitches and moans regarding whatever current situation we’re in? Complaining about our jobs, spouses, kids, weight, etc?  The catch here is that focusing on the negative situations concentrates the negative energy in our brain, and the unhappiness with the situation grows. The more we think about something, the more it stays with us. Still with me?

So instead, the theory is to try to put a more positive spin on whatever we’re dealing with. For example, instead of dwelling on how much you hate your job, how about tossing out some positive requests to find a new one? Or instead of negative self talk about how big/slow/unhappy you are, maybe try a more gentle approach to the way you see yourself. Toss positive thoughts about yourself out there, and you may start to see them more than the negative ones.

I’ve read that when someone prays, it’s not so much that the prayer itself is answered, but that the actual act of praying focuses the person’s brain on the problem or issue. This focus and quiet meditation can help the brain come up with solutions to the problem that the person may not have thought of before. I’m not much of a praying person per se, but I like the idea of quieting my brain and letting the solutions come.

So I’m trying something new. I’ve been working so hard and concentrating so much on the running aspect of my fitness for several months now. I feel like I need a change of focus, a re-centering, so to speak. So this week I began a 30 days of yoga video series. I love yoga, but I’m not good at it. I’ve very type A, right down to my super tight hamstrings.  But the idea of slowing down, breathing deeply, and working out some kinks sounds pretty good right now.  I’ll even make myself take the time at the end of each practice to just relax, think, and toss some good juju out for the universe to work with. Can’t hurt, right?

Fall-a-pa-looza

Fall is my favorite time of year. Leaves turn, bugs die, the air is crisp and the humidity disappears. Plus, my birthday is in October (best month ever, duh!) so what’s not to love? This fall has been frantic, in a good way. I’ll give you the Readers Digest version (NO ONE under 40 is going to get that reference. Ha.)

My birthday was a big one…55. The speed limit. A Sammy Hagar reference. AARP worthy. And it was lovely. The weekend before I participated in a marathon relay that benefits Back on My Feet, an organization that assists homeless people trying to get their lives back on track. Our team of 6 ran a total of 26.2 miles in a little over 5 hours. Pretty cool stuff. My birthday was mid-week, and pretty low key. We were leaving on vacation the next day, so too much frantic packing, unpacking, and repacking was happening to really celebrate too much. But I knew adventure awaited.

We flew out the following day for Phoenix. I’ve not spent much time in the southwest, except for the occasional trip to Las Vegas. Not a huge Vegas fan, but Red Rocks Canyon outside the city is amazing. After staying overnight in Phoenix we headed north to Sedona. The drive was pretty basic…brown desert and enormous saguaro all around. But as soon as we turned off the interstate onto the highway to Sedona, everything changed. Too many words to describe it, but suffice it to say it was breathtaking. The entire earth changed color, the air was cooler, and the landscape was just amazing. I know we drove for miles with our mouths hanging open, completely in awe of what we were seeing. Nothing like this in the Midwest, for sure. We checked into our condo and wandered around. For a week we hiked, climbed, ate, and slept. We rode in a jeep to the top of the Colorado Plateau, where we saw newly scattered human remains. Trust me, there are worse places to spend eternity. The sky is so clear at night that you can actually see the Milky Way. One day we drove north to Flagstaff (cool town) and up to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Taking the ski lift from 6000 ft elevation up to 11,500 feet was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. From the top we could see the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and on a clear day, Mexico. It was off the charts cool.

A bit about Sedona itself. I’ve always heard about the spiritual aspect of the vortexes in the area. I’m not at all religious, although I’m always open to signs from Brock or spiritual coincidences. I certainly wasn’t expecting any great revelations to come from this trip. But at one vortex site, Boynton Canyon, things just felt different. I climbed part of the way up, and just sat down to listen to a man sitting on the top of the spire playing Native American flute music. I honestly felt a strange peace come over me. I could have stayed there all day…the temperature was perfect, the breeze was cool, and the view was amazing. For a few minutes I even stopped looking around for fire ants/scorpions/tarantulas/rattlesnakes. It was definitely a cool experience. Maybe there is something to it all? My inner hippie was happy and peaceful. Definitely one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve had in a while.

Coming back from our trip, I had 3 weeks of training left before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I did this race last year as my first half marathon. I was eager to do it again, because it’s a great course through downtown Indy, and I wanted to see if I could better my time from last year. Training went well (all those SLOW miles in 90 degree heat had paid off) and I was as ready as I was going to be. So last Saturday I toed the line with 17,000 of my closest friends (and one really good friend doing her very first half marathon!) (She killed it, btw) and off we went. I was a little disappointed in my race…bad foot pain from mile 7 on (blaming my shoes?) and weird fueling issues (yes, you have to eat during a race that takes you 2.5+ hours to complete). I managed to finish 5 minutes faster than last year so I’ll take it, but I’m still replaying it in my brain to see what I could have changed. Paralysis by analysis, as my lawyer friend likes to say. I’ll be mulling it over for days to come. But I did it. 13.1 miles. Boom. Kinda badass for an old gal, don’t you think?

Rachael Ray’s job is safe

Anyone who knows me knows that my cooking skills are…ummm…rudimentary at best. Generally if all it needs is boiled, nuked, or reheated, I’m your gal. But if more skill than that is necessary, you *might* want to consider taking me out to dinner.  For your own good, of course.

Honestly, we do try to eat pretty healthfully here at Casa Barnard. Lots of organic, mostly veggie, pretty simple meals. But then again, with just 2 of us most of the time, there’s a lot of take out too. Usually a safe bet. Spouse is grateful, I’m pretty sure.

But tonight, with only a short treadmill run on the schedule, I figured I would whip up a little dinner. Boil some frozen ravioli, sling up a little salad, good to go. Just like real folks. How hard could it be? Yeah, well…you might be surprised.

Let me lead with the fact that the smoke alarm going off in our house when I’m “cooking” is nothing new. It’s placement VERY NEAR THE STOVE is stupid (disclaimer: we didn’t put it there, it was there when we moved in) so it goes off almost every time anything is being fried, sauteed, or scrambled and raises the tiniest bit of legit smoke. But today was a first. Today I actually set the smoke alarm off while…wait for it….BOILING WATER!!! Yep, please be proud that you know me. The scene went down kinda like this:

I put a pot of water on to boil for the ravioli then headed to the sunroom for a couple of miles on the treadmill while the water heated up. (See what an efficient multitasker I am?) A little while later the sunroom door opens and Spouse pops his head in and and asks if I can hear the smoke alarm going off. Oops, nope…thought it was part of the DMB song on the Pandora station I was listening to. Baffled as to why it would be blaring, I stopped the treadmill and headed to the kitchen to find that yep, the pot of boiling water had indeed set off the smoke alarm. Water. Plain old city water. Kinda makes you wonder exactly what’s in the stuff.

So he disabled the alarm (good thing he’s tall), I added more water, and finished my run. All’s well that ends well, and we did finally end up with an edible dinner. Wonder where my cooking gene ended up anyway?

I’m a bit of a runner

Let’s start by taking a little trip into one tiny part of my being. I’m lots of things…mom, spouse, friend, teacher (not for much longer…but that’s for another post!), animal lover, practicing vegetarian (still can’t dig tofu), gallbladderless (hence the veggie business), chocolate lover, beer geek, travel junkie. And runner. The runner label is relatively new to me. I’ve been pretty consistent in my fitness goals for years…and by consistent I mean I’ve been doing something about them. Aerobics classes and lifting tons of weights in my 20’s (even had the cool gloves and yes, leotards.) Fitness walking many miles (in appropriately ugly shoes) and step aerobics in my 30’s. An unintentional break in my 40’s to focus on the health issues of my kids, but even then I tried to be as active as I could. Back to the Y a few years ago, taking tons of classes and becoming a Zumba instructor. Until…yep, that loud popping sound I heard was in fact my SI joint becoming disjointed. So…I had to find something else. A friend was doing Couch to 5k, and swore to me I could do it. Me. With big boobs and a professed hatred of running. So of course I tried it. And of course I could do it. Not easily, mind you, but I could do it. I was breathless and sweaty and felt accomplished. So I kept going. And going. Until…everything hurt. I got up to 3 miles without stopping, but my hips, knees, ankles…everything hurt. This, I decided, was BS. I wasn’t going to hurt myself, even to be in shape. So I started scouring the interwebs (ok, Facebook) to find an alternative. What I found was the Galloway method. Jeff Galloway is a former Olympian who advocates alternating running and walking as a way for people to run injury free. And it works. I’ve been doing it for about 2 years now. I’ve done countless 5k’s, 8k’s, and 10k’s, I’ve completed 1 half marathon, started another (stupid lightning), and have 2 more coming up. I’m always amazed at what my body can do. I’m really proud of myself, have met some awesome running people, and have even gotten Princess to lace up and run with me (pretty sure she does it for the swag.)

But occasionally there are days like today. Days when running so completely, totally, and wholly sucks that I want to take my shoes (all ___ pairs of them…shut up, I like shoes) and chuck them. I hate days like today. I had 7 miles on my training plan for the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon on Nov. 7. No biggie. I’ve already done more than that this fall for the Indy Women’s Half (the one that got stopped for lightning) so today should have been a no brainer. Left, right, breathe, drink, fuel. But it wasn’t. My legs felt like lead, my chest hurt, my blood sugar was in the toilet, and my attitude was foul. I cried. Well, I tried to, but I know that if I start to cry when I’m running I can’t breathe, my chest closes up, and I start to wheeze. It’s not pretty. So there I was, in the middle of the Cardinal Greenway, trying to cry/not cry/breathe/cuss. My spouse was there on his bike, trying to decide whether commenting on my current situation was helpful or dangerous. He was mostly silent (good choice.)

Eventually (after he left me on the trail to go get me a Snickers bar…apparently I’m not myself when I’m hungry…ha) I wogged/crawled back to my car. 7 miles done at a pace a toddler could have beaten. 2+ minutes per mile slower than the 4 miles I did on Thursday. What the hell? How did my body change so quickly? Where did strong sprinter girl from Thursday night go? I still don’t know, but I’m hoping she’ll come back. I’m not fast in general in anyone’s book, but I do dig it when I do better than I’ve done before. (Full disclosure…I have a *tiny* competitive streak.) I know anything can happen on any given day, and I also know I got into this running gig pretty late in the game. Just hoping that days like today continue to be few and far between, because I really don’t want to chuck the shoes….

Giving it a whirl

Good afternoon, humanity. Going to give this blog thing a whirl. I had a blog many moons ago on Caringbridge to keep friends and family up to speed with Brock and his treatment (and ultimately our family’s attempt at coping with losing him.) But as life continues to change, I find myself with things to say that tend to run long on the Facebook post scale. So, here it is…a space for all my random musings. Follow along if you would like. I’m sure it will be…ummm….interesting. 😉