Update: The progress of 2019

In late October, I made a list. There were several progressive steps on that list.

1. Buy a car.

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8t with 21,000 miles on it. That car has been 95% as comfortable as my Nissan Ultima 3.5se. But exponentially better in the snow. The trunk is ginormous. My phone syncs.

2. Find a professional job.

I recently accepted, started the paperwork and applied for my fourth set of clearances to work with ProJeCt of Easton as their development coordinator.

I have had a great time pulling my professional wardrobe out of storage.

3. Write (and publish) more.

Okay, so my most recent publishing success was my ditty on Dime Show Review’s “Ten Word Stories.” I also have a recent essay on the horror website Crash Palace Productions. And more in the works.

In an editing related endeavor, my friend Gayle and I are advertising our joint services, editorial and graphic design, to the attendees at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group The Write Stuff Conference.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies.

This one has been hit or miss. I eat pretty well, but I like going for the extra vegetables and more fruit. I’m not a big fruit eater.

And on the honest side, I need to stop stress eating refined carbohydrates.

5. Get more serious about bodybuilding.

Now I will never be athletic, and even my most competitive side would never have the dedication and patience it takes to truly body build. But I like working on it, and since I am changing jobs I need someway to maintain my muscle tone and weight.

6. Be consistent with the pets.

I have parakeets now. And we need to brush the cats’ teeth more.

And poor Opie, he recently had his left front leg amputated. So, yes, I now have a three legged cat.

How’s your 2019?

A short commentary on near-sightedness

I recently got new glasses. A friend recently had eye surgery. Another friend has always been blind. I inherit my bad eyes from my mother, who sometimes says when she is in the shower she can’t see her toes, only fleshy feet.

Unlike when you go to the dentist or the gynecologist, going to the eye doctor seems to create a community interest in your eyesight. Sure, asking if your check up went okay or if you have any cavities is okay but people ask more questions about the eye doctor…

Did he dilate your eyes? Did you get new glasses? Did your eyes get worse?

And of course when you get new glasses people stare at you, some not quite able to figure it out.

I had one work supervisor exclaim, “you have glasses on today!”

I had to remind her that I wear glasses everyday.

But people with good vision can’t often grasp what near sighted people see. If I take my glasses off and look at a Christmas tree, the colors and glittery ornaments blur together. Almost like fireworks in a conical swirl.

This morning, I took my glasses off to put on my sweater. I set them on the bed on my jacquard comforter and then I couldn’t see them. I had to grope the bedclothes. They were perfectly camouflaged in the pattern of the duvet cover.

The human experience of the Thin Mint Sprint

I have anticipated this 5K for a long time. My training started in November, paused for the Holidays, resumed in mid-January, paused in February for an illness caught from my daughter and then in March I dropped a 15-lb dumbbell on my toe, which is still a little sore and definitely swollen.

So last week, I could finally resume training, but new routines at work have made that difficult too. And my training partner and other half for this run is my almost-fourteen-year-old daughter who gave up on running weeks ago.

Three years ago, I swore I would get in shape before my fortieth birthday. And I did. At that time, I had explored some walk-run 5K events with my friend Gayle and found the Yuengling Lager Jogger. After the first year running for beer, I vowed to try and run my next one.

And two years ago (April 11) I finished the Lager Jogger is 44-minutes something.

Now, the Girl Scouts have hosted a fitness series of three events. I attended the orienteering style one at Camp Laughing Waters with Gayle and her niece and my daughter. My daughter planned to attend the second event, a walk-run through the camp, but she ended up with bronchitis and I wouldn’t let her attend the race in the race with a troublesome set of lungs.

Then Gayle registered me, the girls, and her nephew for the Thin Mint Sprint in Wissahicken/Fairmont Park outside Philadelphia. The sign “Welcome to Philadelphia” is on park grounds.

I have always wanted to run a 5K, and run it. It didn’t happen today, but I did shave two minutes off previous times for a new personal best. Well, except for the times in training that I came in at 38-39 minutes. That was when training was working.

But I want to tell some stories from the day.

And maybe start with some quick asides:

  1. The portapotties were nastier and covered with more human feces than anything I ever saw in Africa, and that includes facilities with no running water.
  2. Parking was awful but the park was so gorgeous it is quickly forgotten.
  3. There is a rustic coffee house IN the park.
  4. I’m sorry, but strollers do not belong in 5Ks.

So onto MY experience…

I love how other runners will say kind things to you.

The first half mile was physically easy but breathing was difficult. At mile marker one, I would have traded my first born for water.

I reached the road (that actually had cars on it) that the race route crossed WHILE TRAFFIC WAS STOPPED. The cars were waiting for us and backed up for what seemed like miles and I was part of that initial horde for whom officials stopped traffic. That was awesome.

I thought the first half was all downhill, so I expected, since the race was an out-and-back, the second half would be uphill. It also seemed to be downhill. How was this possible?

I had a lot of what I call “little disappointments.” I couldn’t get my new iPhone X to start MapMyFitness so I had no idea “how I was doing.” I felt most of the way, that I wasn’t performing as well as I had wanted myself to perform. I had to let go of those thoughts.

By the time I reached the finish line, pushing down that final hill, running… I saw the clock at 42-minutes something and I was overwhelmed. Not with any discernible emotion, just overwhelmed. Hot. (It was 80 degrees and I have never run in temperatures over 70). Dehydrated. (I drank 25 ounces of water before the race and the cup in the middle.) Tired. Proud. Disappointed. Happy. Crying. Smiling.

Thin Mint Sprint results posted…

Today we tackled the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint at one of the prettiest parks I have ever seen.

I refused to let myself think too much about the competitive aspects of the race as this winter has knocked me out: first illness, than a 15 lb dumbbell falling from the sky and physical exhaustion from changes at work.

And I’m 40-something with my own health issues. And I can’t get motivated to do anything when it’s cold.

I did an average pace of 13:48 minute mile. Far cry from the 8 and 10 minute miles of the serious runners but at 42:49.5 it was my fastest 5k to date.

It was an amazing family event with so many good snacks from Whole Foods and such enthusiasm from the event staff.

My goal was to break 40 minutes. I didn’t get there; but I did improve my time compared to my performance at the Lager Jogger two years ago. I was 44-minutes something then.

The Thin Mint Sprint approaches…

I went for a run.

My 5k is Saturday. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint happens on Saturday in Philadelphia.

I don’t have an accurate time for my run today, as I didn’t take my phone so it wouldn’t distract me. I did more than 3 miles in about 42 minutes.

The last time I tried to run a 5k, two years ago at the Yuengling Lagger Jogger, I came in at 44 minutes. I feel a little disappointed that I haven’t returned to my previous good training times of 38 and 39 minutes.

But after almost breaking my toe and weathering winter illness, training has not been part of my routine for at least a month.

I have many friends reminding me to do my best and have fun, but my competitive nature wants to do well.

And I want to actually run… but I’m still pausing to catch my breath frequently.

Good doesn’t matter

Like any human, I have good days and bad. This weekend was hard for me. Blame hormones. A sick cat. Family members who don’t see eye to eye with me. Whatever you like. Reality is… Such is life.

I have been focusing a lot of time and energy on diet and exercise recently, but today (and yesterday) I couldn’t bring myself to lift my weights or go for a walk. Instead, I went to Dunkin Donuts. Had a 250+ calorie iced coffee and not one but two donuts. Some people get drunk, I prefer a sugar high. It didn’t work.

So I talked to some friends. Thanks to them, I felt more myself. My family challenged me to the first day’s training session from the app “Couch to 5K” (C25K). We did it. As a family. Now I can eat something small for dinner and not feel badly.

Looking over some of my notes from today I am reminded once again that the things that make you feel accomplished are those achievements outside your comfort zone: going for a run when you don’t think you have the physical strength, tap dancing when you’re really awful at it…

Or for me, even fashion illustration. And sharing it with the world. My fiction manuscripts are set in the high fashion world (and oddly enough, Francophone Africa). I have always designed dresses and clothes for the characters.

I am not an artist. But, while feeling poorly today, I designed the dress in the photograph. It’s worn by a French woman who marries a half-French, half Issa-Somali Muslim man from Djibouti. She’s a trouble maker who lost her left leg (and some other body parts) to an IED in Afghanistan.

Doughnuts might not be good for me. I might not draw well. I must look like an idiot running around my local park. But today, these things soothed me.IMG_1262.JPG

Health: Gluten-free cooking workshop at Warren Hospital (2004)

WarrenCookingThis article stemmed from a cooking workshop/presentation at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, N.J. It occurred almost ten years ago. The host was the executive chef of the hospital, Mike DiCenso. At the time, gluten-free cooking, Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and the connection between gluten and autism/sensory disorders was not quite as mainstream a conversation as it is now.

I pulled this article out of deep storage. The information in it remains pertinent, if not more relevant than it was a decade ago.