Sunday, December 25, 2011

I was intending to get another post up before today but the season got away from me. Plus, I've been putting most of my energy into recalling 25 things I love about the holidays which seems like a much better use of my time than discussing whether or not I've made strides in my goal.

I'm in Nanaimo waiting for the youngest member of the family to get out of bed before we begin the festivities. In a matter of hours, I will be back in Victoria for dinner with my mom. If you celebrate, a very Merry Christmas to you. If you don't celebrate, happy Sunday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back is Back To Good! And FMM

Just checking in for Friend Makin' Monday and to pass on that I have been pain-free in my back for about three days. I haven't even had the occasional soreness-in-that-area which makes me super excited! Dance is back on the agenda for 2012!! With Christmas going ons and what-not, I don't have too much to share. I've been pretty good this holiday season save for Saturday night when my free pouring host kept refilling my glass while I was too busy chatting to notice. I swear I wasn't sticking my wine glass out in front of him on purpose.

If you're new to Friend Makin' Monday, you can find the guidelines here.


FMM: Have you ever?

1. …traveled outside of your home country? If so, where? USA, Mexico, Ireland (lived there), UK (all four countries), France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany (lived there), Switzerland (lived there), Austria, Italy, Cuba, Tanzania (lived there)
2. …performed on stage in front of at least 1,000 people? If so, share some details! Not for over than many people, no. But I do love being on stage.
3. …watched an episode of Jersey Shore? Yes
4. …baked a cake from scratch? If so, what’s your specialty? I prefer baking cakes from scratch, but my specialty is actually pies, not cakes. I've never not had pie crust turn out perfectly, even when I was 14 and didn't have everything so I improvised with whole wheat flour and a metal baking tin. It wasn't until I was older and tasted some less-than-stellar homemade pie crusts that I realised how lucky I am that that was the baking super power I inherited from my mom.
5. …worked in a grocery store? No.
6. …dated someone who was your best friend first? Best friend no, but a few of them were friends first. 7. …made a difference in someone’s life during Christmas? I volunteered at the Food Bank a few times growing up and I adopted a family with two co-workers one year.
8. …been on TV? Yes. It's an episode of COPS my mom won't ever forget ;) Kidding! But I have been on TV.
9. …had cosmetic surgery? No.
10. …learned a second language? If so, what else do you speak? I used to have decent travel French and Spanish and I'm working on getting them back. I achieved fairly high levels of fluency in German and Swahili when I lived in Germany and Tanzania respectively. When I put my mind to it, I can pick up languages fairly quickly. It's the keeping them up so I maintain that level that causes me problems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting Antsy

I've hit that point with my back where I'm pretty much back to normal but every once and a while, I move a certain way and the spot twinges a little. Nothing serious, nothing last, but just enough to remind me that I recently injured it enough to require the heating pad. It's that annoying part of injury recovery: I feel like I should be able to do everything I did before the injury, but I'm terrified I'm going to aggravate it like I did last Sunday.

What's a girl to do?

Well, if you're me, you debate about making a low impact workout plan for this week and then decide 'to heck with it; I'll plan next week because I've got coffee dates with friends from Switzerland this week!' So, instead, you take the longest route possible from Fernwood to Cook St Village and back again. Granted, I broke the walk up with a two hour coffee stop, but that's not the point!

I've been really good about making sure I get out for a walk every day even when my back is sore. I can only think of five days since I hurt it where I didn't get at least 20 minutes in so I'm pretty happy with myself about that. It would have been so easy just to say 'injured, sitting on the couch, thanks' but I didn't. (I may have treated myself to some 'injured, need chocolate, thanks' on one or two occasions, but that's also not the point!)

While I'm still not really to jump back into high impact exercise at the moment, I'm definitely ready to ramp up the intensity of some low to medium impact exercises.

But next week, when I don't have coffee plans with friends from Switzerland.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Time to Celebrate... with Raw Food?

After all my complaining about my back on Monday, it's pretty much recovered. It's still sore but it's sore on the level of where it was before I picked up the bag of garbage so I'm back to being able to shave my legs and feed my cats. I had a fear when I aggravated it that I'd be back to the start in healing but it appears that was not the case. So while I'm not about to go out and dance the samba, I'm very happy that the return to the heating pad was just a blip in the radar!

Still, I'm not going ice skating at lunch today with Lisa and the crew because of my back so it's still boo-urns over all.

In case it hasn't been obviously clear when reading this blog (and if it isn't, you're probably just skimming), I'm a geek. That is part of the reason why I read the Discover magazine blogs. Every once and awhile, the blogs cover topics which clearly have implications for this blog (and any healthy living/weight loss/running/non-science blog out there) such as with today's post, Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong.

Okay, okay. So I 'Fox News'd' the title a bit, but I thought it was an interesting article about how cooking foods often releases nutrients in them that would otherwise be indigestible thereby increasing the calorie count of that food. I'm filing it under "food for thought".

And just to emphasis that I'm a geek: I read that article, wrote down the book title, and then checked to see if my local library had it. ::pushes up nerd glasses:: Because that's the sort of thing one reads over the holiday season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

FML and FMM

We're going to start with a pity party. I went to pick up a rather full garbage bag yesterday, aggravated the injury in my back and woke up in pain every time I moved in bed last night. I scared my cat, Tosio, twice because I involuntarily yelled out from the pain. She was less than impressed! Back injuries really suck. SUCK!

(This would be the part where you throw the ticker tape.)

Much of today's plan includes the couch, the heat pad, pain killers, a couple of crappy movies, and an oh-woe-is-me attitude. Because oh, woe is me. I have cat food all over my kitchen floor because I couldn't bend over to put in in the dish. Oh the upside, I also feel absolutely no obligation to clean it up. I can't bend over and my cats will find it all eventually. It's kind of liberating.

Actually, maybe this whole back thing isn't so bad after all!

On the upside, I've put all my posts about Ireland on a handy dandy travel page over here. There will be a travel guide type post coming shortly but for now, it's all about me.

I haven't taken part in Friend Makin' Monday in a while. If you've done this before, you know the guidelines. If you haven't, you can find them here.


FMM: I am...

1. I am good at… crafting, dancing, cooking, and finding the positive.

2. I am happy when… I'm doing any of the above, or I'm hanging out with my friends, or I'm enjoying a cup of tea. I'm generally a positive, happy person.

3. I am working on… finding a job and a couple of cross-stitch patterns (it's my first time creating a pattern; here's hoping it works).

4. I am interested in… learning as much as I can about a variety of topics from history to science to sports to politics. I crave knowledge.

5. I am always… up for a laugh.

6. I am enjoying… a cup of tea... and getting ready for Christmas.

7. I am in… pain. I'm also in Victoria, BC.

8. I am reading… Ship of Fools by Fintan O'Toole and History of Ireland  by Malachy McCourt (Frank's younger [and funnier]) brother.

9. I am concerned about… a lot, but right now, mostly about my inability to bend over.

10. I am looking forward to… being pain free and Christmas with my family.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Please Place Your Seats In the Upright Position...

...because the crazy is taking off.

Remember when I said "let's run a marathon in Donegal in 2013"? Yeah, I don't either but apparently I did. I think I was too busy listening to Ciaran McMenamin's sexy, sexy voice to pay attention to what I was typing. (That man needs to start doing books on tape STAT! It's probably the only way I'd ever make it past the first four chapters of Twilight.) I also mentioned it to a few people in real life, partially in jest and partially in "wouldn't that be fun" until three of them (serious runner types) challenged me back to make it happen. And could I plan a tour of Ireland while I'm at it?

With three actual runners interested in attending the race and two friends who just want to come along to cheer* (and drink in the pubs tour the island), I've started looking into what it would take to make this a possibility. While I know that September 2013 is a looooong way off, getting people thinking about it now (and possibly saving) will hopefully make it easier to get people to commit to it when the time comes. (If the time comes, there are still no guarantees at this time.)

For the reason why I picked Donegal of all the places in Ireland to do a marathon, it's all about the beautiful pub countryside and people. Plus the run looks like a fun, low-key event with hilarious race rules. Also, the eyes of the cow medal light up. They had me at "[a]nyone consistently getting in the way of cows behind them will be be beaten!" and now they've got a light up participation medal? My heart just skipped a beat!

If this does go ahead, please understand that non-runners will also be welcome. My hope is that we can find a nice balance between a small-ish group but making it large enough to be able to work out some travel deals so I'll probably aim for 12 people. Again, this is just to get you guys thinking about it.


As for my current state: back is getting better but it's still slow going. Legs are still very smooth considering what they were like after three weeks of no shaving. I have decided to rewatch all the extended Lord of the Rings** movies because I'm a giant dork and the nights are getting dark so early. This is after I finished watching the entire Underworld trilogy (even the crappy 2nd one which I only watch because Scott Speedman - who can't act, let's be honest - runs around shirtless for most of it). Sadly, that pretty much has you up to date on my life right now!

*and this isn't counting people who've expressed interest but not an actual commitment to coming.

**that's right, extended. I'm a hard-core nerd, yo!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's a Miracle

I was supposed to have a big blogging day today (mostly over here) but then plans got in the way and now I have to go be social. I know! How dare my friends expect me to actually want to see them?!? This is why I prefer my imaginary friends: they are always on my schedule.

Okay, okay. So it's nice to see people and be social and productive and, and, and... but I did have to pop on to pass on some very important information: after three weeks of not being able to bend over, I CAN FINALLY SHAVE MY LEGS!!!!

Perhaps that's an overshare but I'm just so happy to have smooth legs again that I don't really care. This is obviously a sign that things in the back department are improving. This week: smooth legs. Next week: back flips! That's how it goes, right?

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend with your own WOO-HOO!! moment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Injury Update

Having never had a back injury which has taken this long to heal, I started getting nervous that I had done some serious damage. I mean, it's over two weeks since and I still get out of bed looking something like my grandpa did when he was in his 90's. The most recent person I know with a back injury had to have surgery she did so much damage and 16 months later she still doesn't have full motion back. That thought kept circling in the back of my mind every time I felt pain back there.

The one positive is that the period of sustained back pain (as opposed to the 'only when I move the wrong way' pain) is now limited to the first two hours after I get up. Surely, that's a step in the right direction. I sent an email to a friend of a friend who's a physiotherapist about expected recovery time. Subsequent emails throughout the course of this morning have made me feel much better that I haven't actually done anything serious, and now I have a few handy-dandy exercises to do along with some light-stretching/yoga poses.

The downside is that week three of my goals looks exactly like week two... and week one... and probably like week four, if I'm being honest. Injuries suck. Instead of bore you with "hey, I'm aiming to walk... again!" for the next two weeks, I'm going to hold off on officially posting goals until they're of something more exciting... like 'bending over without groaning'! Because right now, that would be really exciting for me. [See previous comment about injuries sucking.]

In the mean time, expecting posting to be sporadic and/or a pity party. Feel free to bring the ticker tape.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holding Steady

Other than two days when I decided not to walk (once due to my back being sore again, once due to driving up island to visit family), I rocked last week's goal. Sadly, my back is still a bit of an issue. While I'm still noticing improvement, my injury is in an annoying location that I tweak anytime I sit down or bend over. Full recovery is going to take longer than I originally hoped.

Boo-urns.

It does, however, make writing this week's goals very simple: walk 20 minutes every day... again. I'm going to up the ante a wee bit and add two easy sessions of yoga. I'm hoping it will help with the back issues.

The downside is that I'm lacking in blogging mojo because you can only talk about not being able to do things for so long before you feel it's better to just shut up. Curse you, back pain! CURSE YOU!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Goal: Heal Quicker!


Last week I set two simple goals: don't skip dance class, and go for a long walk. I went to dance class... and then failed to do anything else for the rest of the week. Even my at-home goals suffered because it's hard to crochet when you're lying on your back or clean out your fridge when you can't bend over.

I have a very quiet weekend, what with the laying on a heating pad and all. While my mobility has vastly improved, bending over is still pretty much a no-go area at the moment (so is sitting up without back support). I tried a bit of a walk on Sunday to meet up with my mom and by the end of the 20 minutes, I knew that I had reached my limit for physical activity for the day. Boo-urns! I had thought I was getting better but that was a wake up call.

I had to revamp my list of fitness goals for this week as one of the goals was weight training. It's really hard to work around back pain. I can't just work upper body because of a knee problem or lower body because of a shoulder issue. Also, not being able to walk for extended periods of time... also difficult to work around.

Sigh. So much for my 'off to a good start' gumption.

Still, the pain won't last forever and I can still do small things so I'm committing to walking for 20 minutes every day. It's not much but it's something and I'll adjust as the back improves. It's just something to make sure I don't spend the whole week sitting on the couch!

If my back feels better sooner rather than later, I'll throw 2 yoga sessions onto that list but I don't want to push myself too quickly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Back" At It

I almost didn't go to dance last night. I hadn't slept well, I was cranky, and it was pouring. It was an argument with myself but I dragged my wet, sorry ass up the stairs to the dance studio still not entirely convinced that I had made the right decision. There is something almost addictive about the sound of djembes and doundouns.

We started by going over the sofa dance (it's the name of the rhythm of the hunter's dance. Get your minds out of the gutter, you sickos!) before breaking into two groups and and performing for each other. When it was my turn to perform, I gave it my all. The other dancers noticed, the drummers noticed, and I fed off that energy. Even when we reached the end and I just wanted the dance to end but Pete (the lead djembe) decided it would be more awesome to just keep playing but faster, I kept myself going.*

When the song ended, I wandered over to the seated dancers and jokingly collapsed on the floor. As I 'fell', I felt something shift in my back. When I went to get up, I felt it shift further and my back cried out a little. I figured I work the pain out over the next 30 minutes.

No such luck. I couldn't twist in either direction without pain. I excused myself from the dance floor to sit down and stretch. I couldn't sit without pain, I couldn't bend over without pain. In short, I could stand incredibly still and that was about it.

We had a business meeting for Matoto after the dance class and I tried to fix the back pain with the consumption of beer. Dull the pain, all that jazz. Either that's only a myth or I didn't drink enough ;) I would have had a bath with Epsom salts when I got home (how did injured people function before Epsom salts? Seriously, how?) but I haven't cleaned my bath since before Ireland (I'm a shower girl) and there was no way I was bending over to clean it.

I popped a few pain killers, laid down on the heating pad and promptly got "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" stuck in my head. Because that's what everyone wants running through their head when they're in too much pain to get up and put on music: Smashing Pumpkins. Although it did kind of fit with my whole 'I'm pissy and in pain' mood.

While my back is feeling better (and I was finally able to bend over and clean up the hairball in the hall this morning), my level of mobility is still limited. Walking is fine for short distances, but I look like I'm 87 when I try and turn, bend, or sit. Damn, squats are out? Shucks!

Now, I think it's time for another back pain beer!

*In set West African Dance (as opposed to the traditional circle dance), you do the one move (or collection of moves) until the djembe plays the break and you move to the next move. Be nice to your drummers, people. If they hate you, they can keep you stuck in one move for-ev-ah! I was about two moves away from yelling "play the f*cking break" at Pete last night... and we get along!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goal Slacking

I have finally set my fitness goals for this week: have my fitness goals ready to go for next Monday!

Obviously, I'm as awesome at this whole 'goal setting' thing as I am at this 'staying on track' thing.

I actually did set a few fitness goals this week but they were small because I set a lot of non-fitness goals and I didn't want to bog myself down with lists. I still have to write 'thank you' letters to everyone we stayed with in Ireland (yes, write as in pen to paper with my best penmanship), I need to go through my spice cupboard and my fridge and clean them out, I need to find a job, I want to bake some Zupfe, I'm working on a craft project involving spray paint, I'm trying to set aside 30 minutes a day to crochet, and I stupidly decided to give Nanowrimo a shot... again.

I looked at the list above and wrote down the following fitness goals: don't skip dance class, and go for a long walk at some point. I'm aiming big this week!

Despite the lack of concrete fitness goals for this week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I really want out of the six months (the length of my journal) so while I have been lackluster in actually setting my weekly goals, they've never really been that far from my mind. I've gotten them figured out for next week and will be doing some of them this week (doing yoga in the mornings, for example) but I don't want the added guilt of not achieving them when I already have a full plate.

I may be the only person who has to write 'write to-do list' on her to-do list.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

There was supposed to be a post today about goals that I'm setting.

But instead of writing it on Sunday night, I caught up on all the jobs I didn't do when I slept in Sunday morning (hello Saturday night Halloween party!).

No worries, I could just write it this morning. Wrong. I dealt with an incredibly slow computer while I uploaded Ireland photos over on the other blog. Almost three hours later (seriously, slowest... upload... ever!), I just really didn't care to look at a computer screen any longer.

As a result, five hours later, I'm recovered enough to give you a Happy Halloween post. I'm going to hand out candy at/with my parents (because no one ever comes to my apartment and I get a free dinner out of the deal).

I'd feel guilty, but all this stems from being social and choosing to have fun with friends on Saturday night instead of staying home so I could get up early to write a blog entry. Sometimes blogging loses to having a real life :)

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Ramblings

Random One: About two years ago, I entered my first blog giveaway (on the now defunct Get Fit Chicks). Amazingly, I won. Amazingly because a) it was the first time I ever entered a blog give away and b) I never win anything. A few days later, I received The Ultimate Workout Log  in the mail. It looked pretty awesome. I put it to the side with the idea of starting it when I started my running program.

It just ended up collecting dust.

A few months later, I dusted it off and thought that I should really start using it. You know, I'll just wait until after my birthday when I can give it a good start.

More dust.

I've taken it out and dusted it off again. This time, no waiting until I'm ready to start or I have a program in place, I'm using it right away... starting Monday. It's divided into days of the week and I hate starting things in the middle. Plus, it gives me a chance to figure out how I'm going to go about sharing it on here. See, I'm doing all this for you guys ;)

Random Two: In an attempt to pretend I haven't left Ireland, I've been rewatching season four of Primeval on Space so I can listen to the rough 'good morning sunshine' sounds of CiarĂ¡n McMeanamin's voice. It was hearing his voice while watching season four last March that started me on my 'I have to go back to Ireland' kick.

I want this man to read me bedtime stories.

Random Three: I obviously need to check out my blogger stats more often. Four of the top seven google searches which have brought people to this site have some thing to do with the Italian football (soccer) team. I don't even LIKE the Italian soccer team. I made fun of them in that post.

Random Four: In searching for races in Ireland that I might want to be a part of I came across the Mooathon in Co. Donegal. Not only can you be kicked out because you wear something other than white and black but they encourage you to wear cow bells, cow horns, and any other cow-esque items you can find. Also, it ends at a beach... in Co. Donegal! It's quite possibly the greatest race possibility I've ever come across. I know that the 2012 race is too soon for me (both fitness and money-wise), but anyone interested in joining me for 2013? You get to dress up like a cow and run a marathon!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Free Pass Equals Less Ass

As so often happens after travel, I got horribly, horribly sick upon returning home. Oh recycled plane air, how I hate you! Pity me, people. I went on an awesome trip, came home and got sick ;)

I gave myself a bit of a free pass while I was in Ireland. While I didn't go crazy and eat an Ulster Fry for every breakfast, I did have one twice. (Black pudding, white pudding, fried everything? Hells ya!) I might not have had a pint every night of the week, but I did let the two best bartenders in the country serve me multiple pints on multiple nights.

Why do I say this? Because somewhere in my three weeks of enjoying traditional Irish food and debating exactly which bar serves the best Guinness, I actually lost weight. Obviously, I need to travel more often! I'm putting it down to the incredible amount of walking that I did during my time there.

I may have also gotten inspired while I was in Ireland and looked up half- and full marathons in various locations around the island. Of course, the inspiration may have been more about looking for another excuse to visit parts of Ireland in which I don't have family. Say, the beautiful County Donegal, for example.

I'm feeling better so getting back into the swing of regular workouts is goal number one for the upcoming week. In the meantime, the first few days of travel are recapped here and here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We Now Return to Previously Scheduled Programming

I'm back. I kind of hate that fact but my overly affectionate cats are making it a little easier. Although I could do without the cat drool.

I've posted a few pictures over here for your viewing pleasure. Proper recaps are coming but I've just spent two hours cleaning out my reader feed so I'm a little computered out at the moment. Plus, I'm awaiting a few photos from my travel companion before I start getting into that.

Sadly, my running shoes suffered a fate worth than death on the trip (they got so wet they held the same potency as mustard gas and the UN sent in troops to deal with removing them to a safe site away from human smell) so a return to running will be a wee bit delayed but hopefully I can get around to replacing them very, very soon.

Cheers!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Week Count Down

Today is my one week countdown to my departure. Along with being super excited, I'm looking at a 'to-do' list which seems to grow every time I turn around. If I didn't know better, I'd think my cats are adding items to it when I'm not looking. But that's ridiculous because they don't have opposable thumbs; they can't hold a pen!

Just because she steals my place in bed doesn't mean she'd write on my 'to do' list, right?

Of course, sitting in a coffee shop so I can update my blog doesn't really help with getting things crossed off the list but it's all part of today's plan. No, seriously. The coffee shop is on the way to Michael's craft store which is on they way to my dad's. Part of the plan.

I will pop in again tomorrow for Friend Makin' Monday but that will probably be it for posts until I'm home. Still, I'll be around and creeping on other people's blogs because without them I have no social life I like to keep up with everyone else.

Just admit we're your only friends so we can go back to ignoring you.

If I do post at all while I'm away, it will be over here but don't hold your breath as I'm hoping I can just disappear from the online world for the three weeks I'm away. So I guess this is just a pre-emptive 'thanks for sticking around'.

Cheers!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's a Good Sore, I Swear

I can't bend over today.

Putting on my pants was almost impossible.

In fact, if I didn't have a coffee date with a friend, I could very well still be pantless as I write this.

It's all because of dance last night.

Well, it's because of my inability to control my joy over dancing again that I went at it a little hard.

So hard, in fact, that when it came to the last dance through of the three moves we've learned so far, I just stopped. I do occasionally push myself harder than I should and end up marking moves (doing them without the jumps, hops, and energy I normally do them with) but I just full out stopped. Stood up with a big smile on my face and just watched everyone else.

I'm so happy that dance lesson season has started up again.

Except I'll make sure I don't push myself so hard next time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can't Keep Me Away! FMM

I purposely post to say I won't be posting much but of course I have to post for Friend Makin' Monday! So if I say I'm going to post tomorrow, it usually takes me about a week to do it. If I say I won't be posting, I do it in less than 24hours. Well played, self. Well played.

Anyway, if you're new to Friend Makin' Monday, you can find the guidelines here. If you're old hat at this, let's do this!


FMM: All About Me

1. What are your talents? I'm musically inclined (I play multiple instruments, dance, and thrive on musical theatre) and I have yet to meet a craft project I haven't enjoyed.

2. What is your best habit? Oh, good question. I honestly don't know. I'll have to think about this one... and never get back to you on it. [EDIT: I look for the positive in everything. I read this poem often and try to live by it. I have seen enough bad in this world that I do not want to add to it.]

3. If you had to be stuck with someone in an elevator for 8 hours, who would you want it to be? I've been working on a piece about Irish history recently so right now I'd want to be stuck in an elevator with John Hume. Ask again next week, my answer will change. There's so many interesting people in the world, it's hard to pick just one.

4. Share one odd fact about you that we’d never know to ask. You mean beside my fear of scarecrows on TV? Alright, I cut my pinky open on a meat slicer. I have a scar and a slight lack of feeling in that pinky.

5. What’s your latest project (work, home, whatever you care to share?) I have a couple of craft projects on the go. Namely, I have a rash of friends having babies and those blankets won't crochet themselves!

6. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be? I have a couple of scars that I wouldn't mind seeing gone.

7. What do you do in your spare time? Read, craft, write, dance, daydream

8. What is your biggest pet peeve? When people lack respect for other people. I know that not everyone is going to like everyone, but that doesn't mean you can't treat them with decency and respect.

9. Why do you blog? I don't know. I enjoy writing and I enjoy being the centre of attention. Blogging just seemed like a natural move :)

10. Are you tidy or messy? I tend to be a mix of the two but I'm trying to work on being more consistent with the tidy.

11. What’s the last song that played on your iPod? Whiskey in the Jar (Trad. Irish song, this recording by Jimmy Sweeney). I'm just trying to get in the right mood for my trip!

12. Do you cook? If so, what’s for dinner tonight? I do cook, however, tonight I have plans to get together with my travel partner so there will be no cooking.

13. Do you like sports? If so, list your teams. Love sports! Favourite teams of favourite sports listed below but I also occasionally catch up on tennis, hurling, and cricket results.
Hockey: Vancouver Canucks, HC Davos, Belfast Giants
Soccer (or real football): SC Freiburg, Vancouver Whitecaps, Bolton Wanderers, Bern Youngboys
Rugby: Ireland National Team, Wales National Team

14. How often do you read and/or watch the news? Every day. I was about 12 before I realised the radio has more stations than just CBC so I'm a bit of a news junky.

15. Did you stick to your new Year’s resolution this year? If so, elaborate. Instead of resolutions, I set goals. I'm on target to hit some of them.

16. What are you looking forward to most in the remainder of 2011? I leave for Ireland in less than two weeks. I have a week there by myself to visit with my family and then my friend Al is joining me and we're going off to be tourists. This will be the first time I'll be a true tourist in Ireland and I'm beyond excited.

17. Shoes, sunglasses or handbags? Shoes. I tend to lose sunglasses and I hate having to switch everything between handbags.

18. How do you feel about sleeping on satin sheets? No me gusta. You can't curl up in satin sheets. I'm a cotton sheet girl all the way.

19. Do you sing in the shower? Surprisingly, given my willingness to sing everywhere else, I don't sing in the shower. I also try to keep my showers to 5 minutes so that doesn't leave much time for singing.

20. Describe yourself in one word. Oddball.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Just a head's up that things will probably be pretty quiet on here for the next little while. Between getting everything sorted for my trip in two weeks and then going on my trip for three weeks, I don't anticipate a lot of time for blogging on both blogs.

If I do blog while I'm in Ireland (which I don't plan on doing which is why I'm pre-writing a bunch of posts!), it will be over at Writings from a Nobody so if you want to keep up on how many pints of beer I've been drinking with my cousins, check out that blog. (Recaps of my trip will be over there as well.)

Not to say that I won't be posting over here at all, just that I'm removing any sort of blogging schedule until Oct 17. There may very well be a post on here, say, this Thursday about the joy of West African Dance. Or there may not. I'm schedule-less!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hello Fall! Sort of!

September arrived and so did Victoria's fall weather. Don't get me wrong, the days are still gloriously sunny and hot. But the evenings are cooling off and my jackets have been pulled from the dark cobwebbed corner of my closet.

My apologies to any arachnophobes who may be reading this.

Okay, there weren't really cobwebs but I hadn't been back there for a while.

It's that awkward time of year when you either suffer through being cold in the morning, or you wear a jacket only to have to carry it around after 9:00am. For the record, I suffer through being chilly. I have an aversion to carrying jackets when I don't have to (like putting up with being a tad cold for my 20 minute walk into work so the rest of the day is gloriously jacket-free).

Of course, I'm not really that sad about the arrival of fall for two reasons.

1. I'm going to visit the famdamily.

Any excuse to post ridiculously embarrassing cute photos of my cousins/brother.

2. West African Dance classes start up again!! (Yes, I just shamelessly linked to the best dance school in Victoria/Shawnigan!)

The instructors getting down during our Pub Night at last year's Denbaya*.

I still have a week to go before classes actually start (in fact, I have exactly one week) but I've been running through the dances I do know in anticipation for the first class. And do I ever plan to 'bring it' to that class. I'll show those newbies how to move their T&A! *snap*

I was feeling like a bit of an impostor in the beginners class by mid-way through last year. Not only was I decidedly not a beginner after a year of classes, but I also come from a dance background which many of the other students don't. In a strange-backwards move, I started hiding at the sides of the classes and stop helping other students when they were confused about moves. I had a fear of becoming 'that girl', the know-it-all who thought she could teach the class.

But then three different newbies I've run into over the summer (it's Victoria, running into people is what we do) expressed how appreciative they were to have me and the other not-really-a-beginner in the class because a) they couldn't always see our teacher and they knew that standing near either of us meant they'd have someone else to watch and b) we've gotten over that new-student fear so we hoot and holler during cross floor and performances like the Guineans do and it always makes everyone feel good to hear people positively yell while they dance.

So I'm looking forward to my Wednesday night classes with a renewed excitement that was missing last May when I opted not to do the summer session.

*Denbaya means 'family' in Susu, the language of the coastal people of Guinea. It's also the name MoonDance gave to their weekend 'mini-Guinea' they host every two years-ish. It's a long weekend of drum and dance lessons with various Guinean teachers. In short: it's a lot of fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friend Makin' Monday: Happy Labour Day!

Quick pop in for Friend Makin' Monday. That Labour Day sun isn't going to enjoy itself! And sadly, my apartment isn't going to clean itself either.


Guidelines found here!

FMM: Favourite Things

1) What is your favorite food? BBQ'd BC salmon gets me every time. I love BC salmon. Outside of BC/the Pacific Northwest, salmon just isn't as good.

2) What is your favorite childhood memory? There's so many of them! Ireland beating Romania is one I've talked about on here. Making Kahlua with my stepmom and her grandma. Making Christmas cookies with my mom following great-grandma's recipe. Camping on Gabriola Island and building sand castles with a swimming pool (large clam shell filled with water) for the princess to have a morning swim in. I honestly can't limit it to just one favourite, but I think the Italia '90 has had the biggest long-term affect on me, so we'll go with that one.

3) What is your favorite way to burn calories? Dance. Specifically right now, West African Dance. Love, love, love it.

4) What is your favorite mode of technological communication? Phone? Text? E-mail? Tweets? Texting or e-mail.

5) Who is your favorite actor/actress? I don't really have one. I tend to rotate through actors that I like and there's plenty that I have great respect for and will watch pretty much anything they put out, but I can't say "I like this one the best".

6) What is your favorite lip color? If I wore lipstick more often, I'd know off the top of my head. I had to root around in my purse to find the one colour I currently own to see that it's called "Classic Wine". I don't know if I'd say it's my favourite but I do like it and wouldn't hesitate to buy it again. (Generally, I prefer to play with my eyes and then just throw on some lip gloss.)

7) Who is your favorite historical figure? Only one? Then I guess I'd go with Dr. David Livingstone. (This is an impossible question for a history nerd to answer, by the way. I will be debating my answer with myself for weeks to come.)

8)Who is your favorite athlete? Trevor Linden. I even named my cat after him.

9) What is your favorite TV network? I used to spend a lot of time watching Space, Discovery, History or the Comedy Network but I didn't really have a favourite. Now I'm cable-less so I just really like any channel which streams for free.

10) What is your favorite site on the web? My google reader! I also like news sites (CBC being my main one) and social media (hello, facebook). Lately, I've become a good friend with Bus Eireann and we're pretty much on a daily-chat basis.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Taking the Weekend Off

It wasn't my intention to totally slack on both the writing and the working out this weekend, but THR is in town from Vancouver, I'm going to my mom's to be all crafty, and the weather is fabulous. Yeah, just call me 'slacker'!

Plus, THR and I discovered that Al has never seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz.

Obviously this has to be rectified... preferably over a bottle of wine (or two).

John Cleese and I hope you have a fabulous long weekend.


See you on the flip side.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Think I Have Too Much Time On My Hands

Okay, show of bloody hand prints: who took a couple of screen shots while watching Shaun of the Dead last night just so they could make one stupid visual joke on their blog?


Riiiiiight. Show of stabbed hands: who then decided to watch Hot Fuzz and also make screen shots 'just because'?


Of course, if you know me in real life then you know that when I watch Shaun of the Dead and/or Hot Fuzz I must eat a cornetto. (Except we don't have cornettos in Canada, we call them 'drumsticks' for some silly reason, but it's the same thing.)


Hmm, perhaps it is this tradition which keeps me looking more like Nick Frost and less like Simon Pegg (well, that and the whole ginger thing). At least Simon occasionally takes a break from the cornettos for a cuppa.


And why could I possibly think spending three hours just doing screen shots would be worth it? Because I wanted to say that despite the length of time it is taking for my hand to heal, at least I know that I won't turn into a zombie as a result of it.

*Spoiler Alert: Pete gets bitten on his hand in the same general area as my injury (except on the left, not right... hold on a tick...)

There we go. So, he's bitten in the same area as my injury. He turns into a zombie. I, after a week of pain in that area and no death of myself of which I'm aware, have yet to become a zombie and there is definite improvement in the pain level. We are safe from the zombie apocalypse for now. Also, it's okay that Pete turned into a zombie. He was a prick.


The great thing about my hand getting better is being able to run again. I know I've said this before but I never ever thought I'd be someone who would enjoy running, never mind, miss it when I can't do it. Whether it's running with a partner so we can get some good gossip time in, or if it's running by myself with my tunes cranked, I love running. Also, it's such a great and cheap way to get fit.

So while I still need to constantly work on making better choices and saying 'no' more often, being able to run makes the occasional indulgence of mom's chocolate-chip-coconut-cookies a little less guilt-ridden.

Oh, how I admire his ability to say 'no'.

If this journey has taught me anything, it's that there's no shortcuts to fitness and health.

(It's my blog and if I want to put in jokes which reference the film I'm taking pictures from, I can do that.)

Two little notes:
1) I have occasionally been asked what my obsession with the writing team of Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg is, and it boils down to this picture. There are two people with guns behind the bar. Read the sign. If that doesn't make you giggle, then I don't know if we can be friends.

2) This post is for Marie who is about to run her first half-marathon in October. She's one of the few people who loves these films as much as I do. Marie's parents are from Wells, where Hot Fuzz was filmed. At the time of filming, this was the only stop light in the entire town. (It might still be, I just don't know for sure.)

And thus concludes this edition of "Andrea Needs a Hobby so She Stops Doing Screen Shots". Cheers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Update

Proper post coming soon tomorrow, but I just wanted to share my exciting news: I can run without my arm tingling!

I headed out for a quick run last night and after10 minutes of running, my arm felt fine. The thumb itself is still sore but much better than it was. Truth be told, it feels so good that I forget and re-injure it by picking up something a little too heavy.

But I can run again!! YAY!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thumbs Up to Running

It seemed like an innocuous event. I reached for my bag and my thumbnail, which needed trimming, hit the wall with such force that I used words which I can't repeat on this blog. If I had been at work, the words in question would have required another 'sensativity training' session.* Still, life must go on so I picked up my bag and continued about my day giving no more thought to the injury my left hand had sustained.

The next morning, I woke up to a really sharp pain where my thumb meets my hand. It was so bad that I couldn't do any yoga poses that required putting weight on it. Downward Facing Dog became Um, I Think I'll Skip That Step.

Still, the pain was gone by Friday evening and I had no problems lifting my glass of wine.

Saturday morning, the pain had returned during the night and when I went to pick up my cereal bowl with my left hand I almost dropped it. I felt a few twinges in my wrist. This is not good.

I used my left hand/arm as little as possible on Saturday. The most strenuous thing I did with it was lift my wine glass, hold my rummy cards and play some piano. Okay, maybe that last one wasn't a great idea with an injured hand. Sunday morning found my whole left arm in various states of numbness and pain. This is really not good.

I returned to Victoria after my weekend up island and tried to return to a normal schedule. I was still modifying my yoga but the numbness and pain from my elbow to wrist subsided. I only noticed my thumb when I picked something up.

I went for a run.

Ten minutes into my workout, my arm was tingling from my elbow to my wrist and my thumb had gone completely numb. I'm no doctor but I'm pretty sure that is a big STOP sign. So I did just that. I walked the rest of my route and by the time I returned home, my arm had returned to normal.

My thumb is getting better. Every day I have more movement and less pain so I know that it is mending but running is on hold for the week. Again, I'm not a doctor but that sort of tingling can not be good! I've given my thumb an ultimatum: it has until Monday to be able to handle running or I'm going to the doctor. I enjoy the doctor as much as my cats enjoy the vet** so I'm hoping that my body understands this on a molecular level and speeds up the healing.

In the meantime, more walking and modified yoga are in my future.

But this isn't just a post to let you know about my lack of movement this week, it's also a morality tale: cutting your nails is an important step in keeping up your running!

*I have only had to do one of these training sessions after one co-worker accused another of harassment. For the record, I was not involved in the incident but everyone in our department had to attend the session.

**My cats actually like the vet and her friendly, quiet office because there's lots of things to explore and she's very calm and quiet. It's the car ride that they despise. They yowl like I'm skinning them alive. Still, I stand by my analogy because they hate the overall experience.

Monday, August 22, 2011

FMM: The Last Thing

I woke up to some sad news this morning so I need a post to take my mind off of it. Thank goodness for Friend Makin' Monday.



Guidelines are here.

FMM: The Last Thing


1) What is the title of the last book you read? The last book I finished was A Dance with Dragons. I'm currently reading The Origin of Species and Lonely Planet: Ireland.

2) What is the last movie you saw in a theater? Winnie-the-Pooh (and I went to see it on a Saturday night. Feel free to judge me.)

3) Briefly describe the last person you saw today. I'm in a coffee shop as I post this so that's a little hard. Prior to that, I met up with Allison to discuss our upcoming trip. (Insert 'squee' here!)

4) Which store did you most recently shop in? Other than the coffee shop, I stopped at London Drugs for kitty litter.

5) Who’s the last person you spoke to over the phone? My mom. Phoned to tell her I was home safe and sound from the wilds of Nanaimo.

6) Where’s the last place you vacationed? Proper vacation would have been Tanzania in 2007 (well, the two two week holidays I had while I was living there) but I've done a few weekend trips to Vancouver and Nanaimo which feel like mini-vacations (and I'm heading on my next vacation very soon!)

7) When was the last time you kissed someone of the opposite sex? A little over a month ago.

8) What’s the last thing that made you laugh? My pathetic whine while disagreeing with something my stepmom said during rummy which then caused the two of us to laugh so long and hard that we cried. Oh, and Al and I laughed a lot this morning but I don't remember over what.

9) What’s the latest app that you downloaded on your phone? I don't have a phone you can download apps to because I'm cheap but if I did, I'd totally download the app that lets you make a phone call.
10) What’s the last kind thing you did for someone? I gave Terry (the bubble man) computer lessons yesterday when he was having problems with his laptop.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fitting in the Family Time

Once I finally came back from the I'm not 20 and can't drink like that anymore ledge, I had a good week. Conflicting work schedules have left me running on my own but it hasn't slowed me down. I think that's always my biggest fear when I'm responsible to myself... Myself can be pretty f*&#ing lazy.

I was hoping to work in some swimming this week but after being called into the office pretty much all week, I haven't been able to get out to the lake. It's a catch-22: work = money to play but not the time to play.

*sigh*

I think we can all agree that sometimes being a grown up sucks. Still, there's a few more weeks of outdoor swimming weather left. I know I'll make it out there for a relaxing dip!

I've been trying to incorporate more yoga into my routine mostly to help with flexibility. While I wasn't working, it was easy to wake up at 7:30, do a 30 minute session, and still have my day started by 9:00am. When I have to leave the house at 7:20 to get to the office on time, it's a bit more difficult. As a result, I've only had one session this week. I've only been doing it for three weeks but the lack of it on my third week is already making me a sad panda.

Y U No Yoga? And Y U Mix Memes?

In amongst all the working and running and yoga-ing (totally going to call that a word), I've been enjoying my summer. My stepdad's family is visiting from New York. They're originally from Northern Ireland so we enjoyed a wonderful evening of talking about the GAA, Armagh vs. Tyrone, and how we're all distantly related to each other (short story: my uncle's wife's mother is their father's cousin. Did you follow that?)

Apparently Armagh/Monaghan family trees look something like this.

This weekend, I'm heading up to Nanaimo for more family socializing. I debated bringing my running gear for all of five minutes before deciding against it. My stepmom lives in a very hilly area so my runs always turn into walks. I'll just plan on a longer walk, followed by a cuppa and a round of rummy.

My stepmom and I take our rummy games very, very seriously. There's a good chance at least one of our games will end in blood and gloating.

How dare you go out while I have two aces in my hand!

All in all, the summer has shaped up to be pretty awesome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Hurt And Not From Exercise

I had plans to blog today. I also had plans for three blog posts over here.

I also had plans to leave yesterday's BBQ no later than 8:00pm.

Some how I found myself doing the running man in the middle of the road at 10:30pm as I made my way towards the bus stop.

And the only true blog post I succeeded in getting up was the pre-written post.

There may or may not have been alcohol involved in causing my plans to go astray.

I'll leave you to figure that out for yourself.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forever Part of Jackie's Army

For the past two months I've been getting cravings for McDonald's. I've never been a big MickyD's eater so it was really not big deal to stop eating it altogether almost five years ago. Since then I've had it once (because it was that or a 15euro eggs, toast, and bacon at Schiphol Airport at 8:00am). I've occasionally lamented the lack of their no-nutritional-value-probably-laced-with-cocaine fries but then I cut up a potato to make oven fries and I'm just as happy.

Plus, if I eat at McD's too often, Mac tells me I'll remain a fat chicken forever.

This most recent craving, however, kept coming back. About once a week I'd find myself saying "but you'll like the dinner I made for you once you eat it" and like a resigned child, my craving would huff off into a corner until it was ready for the next round. Last night, I finally caved.

That's pretty much how I ate the fries.

I walked to the Raunchy Ronnie's closest to my apartment and ordered a meal. I sat down to eat it, realizing that the burger was so dripping with fat/oil/teenagelinecooksnot/grease that my fingers almost became translucent. Ugh. But I had ordered it and, I have to admit, it tasted good going down. It wasn't the most satisfying meal but it shut up my craving so I'll take it.

Actually, I think my burger had even more grease.

About 20 minutes after I got home my stomach felt awful. I still pretty much felt like ass this morning. Thank you, Golden Armpits, for reminding me why I was never really that big of a fan in the first place. And now I have a blog post for the next time I have a craving and the passage of time leads me to think how bad could one meal there be?
NOTE TO SELF: DON'T EAT THE MCD'S OR YOU WILL FEEL LIKE THIS!
Note to readers: Guess who suddenly realised she can make
her own screen caps when she watches movies on her laptop?

Over on Healthy Tipping Point today, Caitlin asked another round of 10 personal questions. The last question was about your three happiest moments. One of my moments was when Ireland beat Romania in 1990. The funny thing is that I almost didn't include it as a memory because I didn't think a sporting memory from when I was 10 should really be one of my happiest moments. But you know what? It is.

I wrote about the game on its 20th anniversary but I know I've picked up a few new readers since then so while you can find the full post here, I'm reposting a shortened version of it on here. I will fully admit that just reading the post again made me cry.
Italia '90 is the first World Cup I really remember watching. I have vague memories of a World Cup party prior to that, but I couldn't tell you who was playing or what the score was. Italia '90 was so burned in my memory partly because I was 10 and finally able to actually follow sports and partly because it was Ireland's first time at the World Cup. As I have mentioned before, my dad is an Irish immigrant. As much as I love Canada, when it comes to soccer (and rugby), Ireland is my team. Italia '90 made sure of that.
...Ireland made it past the Round Robin stage. They were slated to play against Romania, at that time a dominant force in the soccer world (not so much now) and the general agreement was that 'the boys in green' had had a good run but it would be coming to an end.
My dad had invited a few friends around to watch and to follow it up with a BBQ.[...] It was a tense game, Romania attacking aggressively and Ireland building a defensive wall which rivaled the Berlin wall. Despite Romania's best efforts, not a single shot made it into the net and the teams were forced into extra time. [...] After extra time did nothing to change the result, a penalty shoot-out was inevitable.
Romania was up first. [...] The players would walk from the centre circle were they had to stay between kicks, place the ball where they wanted, and then score. [...] The score stood at 4-4 as Packie Bonner, Ireland's goalie, took his place on the goal line. He dropped his head and said a prayer (I know because he crossed himself when he was done) as Daniel Timofte strode up to the ball and got ready.
... Packie guessed right on that last ball and he stopped it. My dad let out a loud yelp of joy as he jumped out of his seat. I remember being on my knees, not fully believing what I was seeing. I was waiting for the referee to call back the penalty shot for some unknown reason, to give Daniel Timofte another crack at it. Thankfully, my imagined doom was just that, imagined.
As David O'Leary walked up the field towards the goal, I got to my feet never once taking my eyes off the screen. This was it. This was our moment. [...] He ran on the ball and kicked it straight into the back of the net. A cheer erupted from our living room, and in the moment of celebration, my dad took his full glass of red wine and threw it at our freshly-painted white wall. There was jumping, screaming, hugging, singing, dancing, yelling, laughing, and a couple of toasts. Ireland had done the impossible. They were going to the quarter-finals.
[...]
June 25, 1990 was the day I became a soccer fan. I had played soccer and I enjoyed soccer, but I had never loved soccer like I did that day and have since. I watched Ireland lose the next game to the host team, Italy. I watched in USA '94 as Ireland lost to Holland in the Round of 16 and as Roberto Baggio (Italy) placed a penalty kick so high above the cross bar I wondered if he needed glasses. I watched the final of France '98 while having lunch with my mom when France beat Brazil. Ireland had failed to qualify so I was cheering for the host country (this, of course, was prior to the Handball Henry debacle which will now ensure I hate France for the rest of my natural life). I watched Manchester United win the Treble on the world's tiniest TV while befriending the front door staff at a hostel in Paris. I watched Thun almost hold Arsenal to a tie in a pub in Thun. I hosted a pancake breakfast for the final game of Germany '06 and felt my jaw drop as Zinedine Zidane did the unthinkable to Marco Materazzi. All these memories in my life, all these important moments, tied into the beautiful game all because Ireland beat Romania in penalty kicks. What would have happened if they had lost?

[...]
I have come to believe that there will never be a sport moment in my life as sweet as Ireland's win over Romania. Soccer, hockey, rugby, there will be no game, no matter how important, that will stay with me the way that game did. Twenty years later, I watch a video about it and I tear up with pride at that moment. I talk about Italia '90 the way older Canadians talk about the '72 series. I reference that game like it was somehow pinnacle to the entire game of soccer and not just the island nation of Ireland. My children will know how important that game was, and likely my grandchild will too, because it really was that important.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Weekends and Belated FMM

I had a wonderful summer weekend. A day spent up island and Shawnigan Lake and another day spent lazing in my friend’s sunny backyard while we celebrated her 30th. As much as spring and fall are my favourite seasons, summer definitely does have its moments.

I made sure to go for a swim while up at Shawnigan (in amongst drinking the incredibly strong drinks our family friend poured. I don’t think the man knows what a short glass is) and it reminded me that a) swimming really is an awesome workout and b) I really love lake swimming. There’s not much left of summer but I’m motivated to try and make it out to Thetis for a few morning swims. (Early is the key for Thetis before the crowds descend on it.)

I was back to my scheduled workouts this morning and got a rude reminder halfway through my run why you should always make sure you're well hydrated. Both my calves cramped up and felt like they had turned into rocks. I stretched them out by walking the second run section but let this be a reminder to you: as much as you feel like hitting snooze, get up and drink that pint of water you planned on before going for a run!


Yesterday was Friend Makin’ Monday (guidelines here).

The theme was letter to your future self and as much as it made me giggle to contemplate leaving:
Dear Future Self,
I hope you got your shit together.
Sincerely,
Me
I figured a proper response with some thought behind it was the appropriate thing to do (no matter how much I like to giggle). As a result, I’m a day late but some thought actually went into this so I guess it was worth the wait.

Dear Me-Sometime-In-the-Future (let’s say 10 years),

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling to be the person I know you deserve me to have been but I hope that you’re happy with where we ended up. Remember that 10 years ago from when I write this, this is not where I thought I would be either but the journey’s been awesome so I’m happy with it.

I hope the adoption went relatively smoothly. What country did we end up deciding upon? I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a West African Country to open up their adoption laws so you can keep the child immersed in their culture through Mohammed, Manimou, N’nato, Abouboucar and the extended MoonDance family. How about the possible plans for a second adoption? Yeah? Nay? Still debating?

I hope you’re the regular multi-day hiker that I want you to become. That’s something I always assumed I would become as a child, and it’s a dream that I don’t want to give up on. Not yet. Not until my knees give in. Or my back. Or some other required body part. And have we climbed Meru yet? Or at least made plans to head back that way?

Did we ever run that marathon? Even more important, did we travel somewhere for a really awesome marathon? I'm keeping my fingers cross that we've done the Drei Laender marathon. I mean, come on. Three countries in one race? Kind of awesome! Built in excuse to hangout with the Hostettlers, Fuchs and Villigers? All awesome!

This is Bodensee (or Lake Constance) that you run part way around for the Three Country Marathon.
My friend's adorable boys are not included in the race package.

And you know how much I love the apartment I’m in right now but please, please tell me you’ve got yourself sorted and have a house (rented or otherwise) with a yard and that you’ve gotten a chocolate lab from the SPCA and named him (or her) Murphy. Because Murphy is just the perfect name for a chocolate lab and beer drinkers will get the joke. Scratch him behind the ears for me. Oh, and maybe make some of those treats that Ian said Thompson loved so much. Don’t argue with me, just do it. And don’t let him terrorize the cats too much (if they’re still around in 10 years).

Doesn't the Chocolate Lab look like a tall pint of Murphy's?

Please don’t have lost your amazement at the wonders of the natural world. Does thunder still make you smile? Do pictures of lava flows still excite you? Does a starry night still take your breath away? Please say they do.

And please tell me that you still sing to yourself when you think no one can hear you and that you bust out the dance moves when the feeling strikes you. Don’t worry about embarrassing your children when you do this in front of their friends. You grew up with your dad doing that and you survived. So will they. In fact, it might even help to make them even more awesome.

Also, have you single-handily negotiated peace in the Middle East yet? No? You should get on that. I’m too busy to deal with it right now.

Sincerely,
Me (from 10 years ago, which is really right now when I write this, but not when you read it, you know what? I’m just going to assume that we’re all on the same page with this and close these parentheses.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Observations

I’ve been waking up with the sniffles since Monday morning. A quick shower and a cup of coffee and the sniffles are usually gone but when I woke up Wednesday morning, the sniffles were there as well as a dull ache in my left ear. Along with the dull ache was a dulled ability to hear from that ear. I was supposed to go for a run at 9:00 but the idea of jostling my head around really didn’t appeal to me. I texted my running partner and we turned our run into a walk up and down a large hill instead.

I was proud of myself. Once upon a time, I would have just cancelled any sort of activity if I feel like I did that morning. But I didn’t. I changed what I was doing but I still got out there and worked hard enough that I was satisfied with my effort. I was also very happy that my ear cleared up by noon. One of my biggest rational fears is hearing loss. I will take losing my sight over losing my hearing any day of the week and twice on Sunday.*

I’ve been trying to take the stairs as often as possible in my apartment because four flights of stairs adds up, but sometimes you just don’t want to. Like last Tuesday. I took the elevator and ended up flirting my way up the four flights with an attractive young man. For the record, flirting with hot men is good motivation for getting in shape. Okay, so it wasn’t so much that he was hot but that he was observant enough to know that I must have had a stressful day at work.

(“Is it really that obvious?”

“Yes. You look like the day beat you down.”

Well, he was right. My unit is undergoing a re-org which means desk moves to a less than ideal location and leaving behind some wonderful friends, so Tuesday was a wee bit stressful. I would like to point out, however, that he told a complete stranger that they looked tired. Tact is obviously not his strong suit.)

I want to put his observation skills to the test and see if he can notice a change in my figure next time we meet (as we seem to ride the elevator together every few months). Also, he seems like a hockey guy and now that I don’t have cable or the Internet, a hockey guy just down the hallway who works roughly the same hours I do would be really convenient.

Just putting that out there, universe.

And did I mention that he’s easy on the eyes?**

*My biggest irrational fear is that a scarecrow is going to come through my TV screen and sing to me. Don’t laugh! I know it sounds silly. That’s why I called it irrational.***

**Plus he’s in construction which is a bit of a *rawr* factor for me. He can build and fix things! How attractive is that?

***I’m not making this up. There is a certain Doctor Who two-parter which I have to watch with all the lights on and my teddy bear held strategically in front of my face.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Falling Off the Face of the Earth

My lovely neighbours who left their wi-fi unlocked appear to have moved out of our apartment building.

I'm hoping that one of the new people moving in also leaves their wi-fi unlocked but in the meantime I'm going to have to up my coffee budget in preparation for regular trips to the coffee shop to post.

Still, I can't really complain. In the four years that I've been "borrowing" their internet connection, I've saved myself roughly $2000 in monthly fees.

So, a big thank you to my neighbours I never met. You've been awesome and I'm going to miss your unlocked wi-fi.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stinky Travel

In case you missed my big announcement over on the other blog I'm going to Ireland* for three weeks in a little under two months. This is the first time I've been 'home' in 10 years. Prior to that, my visits averaged out to every three years (and usually about six weeks long) so to say I'm excited is an understatement. I'm euphoric at the thought of seeing my aunts, uncles, cousins and cousin's children.

For the first time ever in my travels, I want to make a concerted effort to remain active. I've researched a few gyms with drop in options near locations I know I'll be staying but I'm not really a gym person. What I really want to do is run at least five times while I'm gone (ideally more than that, but that's my minimum). Keeping that in mind, I hit up MapmyRun and plotted out a couple of 5K routes from the houses I'll be staying at. This way I'll have no excuse not to run while I'm there other than "I'm lazy". Well, and maybe "I'm hungover".

I purposely cut off my starting location so you can't stalk me in (Greater) Dublin ;)
PS. So Irish people don't laugh at you, Dun Laoghaire is pronounced 'Dun Leary'.

These plans are all fine and dandy but it brings me to another issue: I'm travelling, moving fairly often, and I don't want to have to do laundry every other day but I also don't want to bring five (or more) different shirts just for running. That's a lot of space in my bag (which is already being taken up by my dad). Also, all those stinky shirts will just make everything else stinky. My big question is: does anyone have any tips for handling workout clothes while travelling?

In the meantime, I'm off to enjoy the summer weather we've finally received and make the most of my August Long Weekend. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend whatever you get up to.

*For clarification, when I say 'Ireland' I am referring to the island and not the country despite the fact that I often say 'country' for ease of understanding by those I am talking to. My 'Ireland' is the north and south. This is not a political statement, it is merely a lazy person's way of saying 'the Republic and the North' when she has family on both sides of the border and always goes to both.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tackling the Healthy Living Mountain

Normally I'd do a little ramble prior to starting the Friend Makin' Monday but today's topic excites me and deserves it's own post because I get to talk about my favourite subject: ME! Tanzania (and travel). So, without further ado, it's FMM!


Guideline: Answer the question on your blog, link to it in the comments over at All The Weigh and then comment on other peoples. So simple the Geico Gecko could do it!

FMM: Defining Moments
Was there a defining moment in which you realized that you needed to lose weight? If so, will you elaborate? (If you experienced this moment in some other area of your life, please feel free to share that too!)

My plane touched down at Kilimanjaro International Airport at 10:30pm. Once we left the lights of the airport, the absolute darkness of the place hit me. There were no street lamps and the only thing we could see was what as illuminated by the headlights of the Landrover. I thought the excitement of my first day would keep me awake but after two days of travel to get there, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Kara and my shared room until the volunteer quarters were completed. (I was the far bed.)

My first real look at my surroundings was the next morning when I rolled out of bed at 6:00am. I groggily wandered my way up to the Baby Home (fancy word for orphanage) for my first day of work. The first thing I saw was Mt. Meru beyond the compound walls.

Hand's down, this is the picture that most makes me ache for Tanzania.
Meru in the background, Baby Home on the right.

Every morning I looked at Mt. Meru as I made my way to the Home and I'd smile. It was my morning ritual. Even once we moved into the volunteer quarters and could cut into the home through the back door, I still walked the long way around so I could see Meru. It became my mountain. I searched for it from bus windows when returning from my holidays. I stared at it while contemplating life over a Coca baridi (coke cold). I wondered what the view was like from the top. While tourists to Tanzania talk about wanting to climb Kilimanjaro, I dreamed of Meru. For the first time in my life, I had to choose not to do something specifically because of my weight.

View of Meru from Deb's house. Her property ends at the start of Arusha National Park.

The kicker is that there is a very good chance I could have climbed Kilimanjaro but Meru was definitely beyond me. Kilimanjaro is not a physically difficult hike but it's a high hike. I am not saying it's a walk in the park, you still need to be relatively fit, but 90% of the time it's the altitude that does people in. If you have altitude experience and/or you take it slowly, you'll probably succeed.* Meru, however, is a difficult hike. The snob in me knew that for climbers, there's more climbers cred (if that actually exists) in saying you've done Meru than Kilimanjaro. This is one time I wanted to be a snob.

Mt. Meru and Jacaranda from roof top bar in Arusha during a day off.

When you summit Meru, you do it just before sunrise and then watch the sun rise over Kilimanjaro. I longed to do that. I still long to do that. And then I'll hug the ground and whisper sweet nothings to my mountain. You think I'm joking but I probably will do just that.

Unless there happens to be a nest of siafu near by. In that case, I'll whisper sweet nothings from the safety of my hiking booted feet. I've been bitten by them and they hurt!!

Every once and awhile, when I get into a 'why bother?' mood, I pull out my pictures of Meru and go through them. I honestly don't know if I'll ever get back to Tanzania (there's just so many awesome places I want to go to) but I want to know that if I do, I won't have to let Mt. Meru pass me by again.

Sunset on Meru

*My biggest piece of advice for climbing Kilimanjaro is this: each day you spend on the mountain raises the cost of the hike by a ridiculous amount (park fees alone are $100 per person for a 24 hour period) BUT it also greatly increases your chance of making it to the top. If you do not have a lot of altitude experience, take your time and choose a longer route. You may balk at the extra money the longer route costs but if you don't summit, then all your money will have been for nought.