February 25, 2010


I've always harbored a bit of a prejudice against winter. I wouldn't go so far as to call it full-blown animosity, but with its brown foliage, shorter bouts of sunshine and cold temperatures, my preference had always lied in spring, summer or fall. However, my perception of these stark months changed drastically this week. And, ironically enough, it happened in a place that is arguably an archetype for the harshness of winter -- Wyoming.

 It was a work assignment that brought me to Saratoga, Wyo., a small, quaint town located in the southeast portion of the Cowboy state. And, it was there, and in my travels to and from, that I gained a vast appreciation for the winter landscape. I, however, cannot take credit for this newly discovered appreciation as it came through the insight of a great photographer, who also happened to be my companion on the trip.

It was through his prompting and explanation that I began to see beyond the dead and dreary and instead discovered textures and colors that were undetectable in my prior mindset. Gratitude and respect for the cold, the snow and the land replaced resentment. Instead of complaining about the cold and wishing for an indoor escape (which was my past inclination), I began snapping photographs in an attempt to capture the beauty. The photos on this post, although they don't do the actual scene nearly enough justice, are a sampling of what I experience.

February 18, 2010

slowing down

For as far back as my memory serves, I have been one who thrives in a busy environment. The more appointments on my calendar, the more effective I am. I relish days where the agenda includes a task to complete, a meeting to attend or a goal to conquer. And, more often than not, my days are a combination of all three and more. Busyness and I are not just friends -- we are intimate.

This lifestyle is not necessarily a bad thing, when it's properly shouldered by down days. But, therein lies the problem. Lately, there have been few breaks to accompany the jam-packed schedule that is my life. Moreover, add to the equation my predilection and overwhelming need to want to help (and, I admit it, please) others, and you get one stressed-out, overwhelmed and unbalanced individual. Cue, my life.

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently purchased and have begun reading the book, "my not so big life" by Sarah Susanka. In my 29 years, I have been fortunate to have discovered a few books that have really spoken to me and now I can add another to that list. Honestly, I felt as if I had written the introduction myself. Although I haven't had time to read very far into the book (yeah, yeah -- I see the irony), I have taken away so much already from the few pages consumed. The basic premise of the book (and the subtitle) is a guide for making room in your life for what really matters. One of my favorite passages in the book thus far goes like this, "Although we often believe there is no time for ourselves in our busy schedules, when we commit to making time, we find it's been there all along. We just haven't seen the possibility before."

For the first time in months, I made the choice to stay in two nights this week. Not only did I spend those evenings at home, but I allowed myself to relax, to read a book, to cook a nice dinner for one. I made a concerted effort not to just pass the time with frivolous activities, but to really slow down and be mindful of the moments. And, honestly, these moments were the most fulfilling I've experienced in a long time.

The goal of slowing down also corresponds nicely with my quest of being a more balanced person. I have learned the hard way (over and over again) that putting all my eyes in one metaphorical basket does not a fulfilled life make. Hence, when I'm not spending more time relaxing and taking care of me, I am going to branch out, expand my interests and discover activities that add value to my life. Don't get me wrong, I currently participate in and have people in my life that fit these qualifications. It's just that I feel the need to diversify my portfolio a bit.

So, if my Denver friends don't see me out-and-about as much, or I decline an offer for coffee, lunch or a night on the town, don't take it personal. It's just my way of slowing down and taking care of me.

February 11, 2010

runninng down a dream

Always one who is annoyed by those who talk just to be heard, I am also not an advocate of writing, just to be read. However, one of the goals I set (and wrote down) last month is to blog weekly. And, because I didn't put any perimeters in place to inhibit my writing if I really had nothing to say, resulting is a synopsis of the first thing that popped into my head, which coincidentally, relates directly to another personal goal -- running.

Last year at this time, I was, what I would consider, a runner. I boasted the fact that a routine week would involve my knocking out six miles, at a respectable pace, at least four times, averaging around 25 miles. Something or some things have occurred since then to result in my sitting here, as I type, not having run for the past three weeks. Worse yet, the last time I did run, I was only able to complete one consecutive mile without slowing down for a walk-break.

Maybe I fell prey to the excuses. Perhaps I just got tired of the act of running, needing a break. Whatever the case, I currently feel lazy, out of shape and am overly unimpressed with myself. The truth is, I really like running. In fact, I would go so far as to say I love running. I love how I feel during the act, even when my legs turn to jell-o and my lungs burn. I love the last seconds before the run is complete, when you know that you are going to make it. And, just as sweet, I love the first seconds after completing a run, when that sense of accomplishment overwhelms you and it doesn't matter that your face is beat-red or that your shirt is soaked with sweat. Finally, I love the feeling a few minutes following a good run, during the relaxation when stretching feels like the sole thing on earth I was placed here to do.

As I mentioned, this post relates to goals and, one such goal I set for myself in my early 20s was to run a marathon before entering my next decade. Although I have competed in a race here and there, that paramount goal of completing a 26.2-mile route has yet to be accomplished by me. And, with only 7 months until my 30th birthday, time is ticking.

As with most things in life, I think the unknown of the marathon is what intimates me most. Beyond the training and discovering if my body can, in fact, complete 26.2 miles of consecutive running, I fear the actual event and all that accompanies it. However, I recognize that, when it comes down to it, these events which cause me such anxiety are rarely, if ever, worth all the stress.

As you've probably deducted, I am going to attempt to accomplish my goal and complete a marathon before September 25, 2010. I know with only seven months to prepare, I'm "pushing it," but I also know myself and what I can accomplish. In the past, it has only taken me two months to go from pitifully running one mile in 12 minutes to hitting the six-mile mark in just over 50. And, honestly, if the training is too burdensome, at the very least, I will (hopefully) get back into running.

How does the saying go? Shoot for the moon and, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars? Well, I'm tying up my laces, turning up my iPod and heading out to out to take the first steps toward my moon -- the finish line at mile-marker 26.2.

February 3, 2010

life, or something like it

I'm not sure at what point this blog morphed into a philosophical journey into my life. Honestly, the initial goal was to keep family and friends abreast on my latest goings-on. Somewhere along the way though, the blog became a therapeutic mechanism and a "task" that I now look forward to and enjoy. I suppose that is the writer in me. Regardless (and a warning), welcome to therapy via writing.

Unfortunately, I have yet to rid myself of the feelings of restlessness described in my last blog post. However, in the days that have passed since I last posted, I have taken time to sit with the feeling, examine them and discuss, with a little help from good friends. In this process, I have discovered two things: 1) I am not alone in my feelings and; 2) these feelings are pretty much just part of being an adult

At the age of 9, I clearly remember what I wanted to be when I grew up -- a heart surgeon. Oh yes, I also wanted to publish poetry and of course, be a wife. Clearly, the surgery route did not transpire and I'm not sure about the wife-thing at this point. But, I think I may have been nearly dead-on with the poetry, loosely at least. However, never in these daydreams did it ever occur to me that in my adult years I would also probably be in debt, not always be happy and sometimes be alone. I suppose these omissions could be blamed on the general naivety that comes with the territory of being a child. Nevertheless, these are all components that have comprised my adult life at some point.

In talking to my BFF a few days, we both discovered that we are in similar mindsets concerning our lives as adults and the unfulfilled assumptions, although we are at very different life stages at this point. My best friend lives in a yurt -- sans running water -- outside of Jackson, Wyo., with her fiance. Although a very out-going person by nature, she has struggled with finding her place socially in her community and spends a lot of time at home. I, on the other hand, live solo in a loft in downtown Denver and have met a large number of people in my two-plus years here and am lucky to count many as friends. Additionally, it is likely that I spend an estimated average of two hours during the week at home, not counting sleeping-time.

However, for as vastly different as our lifestyles may be, we both feel that our lives as adults in our 20s are not at all what we expected. And obviously, this reaches beyond just the feelings of two people. Bookstore shelves are abundant with related titles, such as "Surviving your Quarter-life Crisis" and "Twenty-something, Twenty-everything." When did our 20s stop being the time when we made mistakes and chalked it up to learning and become expectation-riddled and overbearing?

I recently watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy (yes, I am admitting I watch Grey's on occasion), during which Meredith described the moment one becomes a doctor:

You never forget the moment you become a doctor.
A switch flips; suddenly you're not playing
dress-up anymore.
You own the white coat.
What you may not notice is the moment that being
a doctor changes you.

I think this analogy also pertains to life as an adult. We may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment as Meredith describes, but at some point, it becomes blindingly clear that we are responsible for our own lives. Adulthood has entered the picture and regardless of what we thought it would look like, here it is. Now, if we could only figure out what to do with it . . .