March 24, 2010

the season that never was

With each passing day, evidence builds to support the fact that I have missed out on the 2009-2010 ski season. Actually, to say I didn't take advantage of the season is technically inaccurate, as I did make about six passes at Breck about a month ago. But, one solitary trip up the mountain does not a satisfied skier make.

Last year at this time, I had racked up numerous ski days, equating to hundreds of runs. So, what's my excuse this year?  Money? Nope, in fact, to the contrary. I purchased a pass for the season, which means by not skiing, I am essentially wasting funds.

Lack of equipment?  Again, no. I have a closet full of gear.

Conditions? I suppose I could employ this season's snow, or lack thereof, as a valid reason for my absent ski days. Of course, I would actually have to be on the mountain to gauge the conditions. So, moving on.

Ski companion? Yes, the fact that I no longer really hang out with one of my former ski partners and that many of my friends changed purchased Winter Park/Copper passes play into my lack of skiing. But, there is no reason I can't ski solo or make more an effort to find new ski buddies. So, again, moving forward on the excuse train.

Time? Bingo. Right on the money. You got it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. (I could go on, but I think the point has been received). Really, it's not so much lack of time that has kept me off the slopes but instead that I have been filling the hours with other non-skiing activities. So much so in fact that when I look at my calendar, there is nary a Saturday and/or Sunday that does not include some sort of scheduled activity or event. Yes, a lot of this can be attributed to my new role as president of the Jaycees.

The season did not elapse without good intentions as I had reserved a number of days for hitting the slopes. However, when those weekends finally became a reality, the real reality was that many times, there were an additional three, four or five other activities slated for the day. I do love skiing, but, when given the choice between waking up at 6 a.m. to sit in traffic for the next two or three hours and spending some quality time in bed, guess which I chose? And then there's that whole trying-to-slow-down-and-take-more-time-for-me plan, which, believe it or not, has actually been going quite well. Technically, I suppose skiing would count toward the goal as it's an activity I enjoy and attributes to my greater good. Alas, it's too late.

Regardless, there will be no wallowing in what could have been or blaming myself for letting the ski season transpire without my participation. What will follow is a promise to make up for it next year. Hopefully, Mother Nature will coincide with my efforts. But, with or without her cooperation, I will not let another ski season pass without me having a sufficient presence on the slopes.

March 19, 2010

won't you be my neighbor?

As part of my job, I, on a daily basis (along with my fellow communicators), scour through news items, both industry and non, searching for relevant bits that might interest our fellow 1,200 employees. We then post those items to NewsFlash, which is an internal daily news blog of sorts, for all to enjoy. Because the energy industry does not exactly supply the most thrilling news, we strive to include other fun tidbits of information, which includes, on occasion, recognition of bizarre daily, weekly and monthly observations.

This morning through the examination of said observances for the month of March, I came to realize that tomorrow is the vernal equinox (aka -- the first day of spring), which, although not atypical per se, does share the day with some other interesting observances. Perusing the offerings for March 20, I learned that the list was quite long -- and diverse. While some of the observances were basically self-explanatory, others, such as Snowman Burning Day, left me with many questions. Enter research (aka, Googling). And, as if you didn't already know what was coming next, following are my findings, mingled with a bit of commentary, related to the holidays of March 20, 2010.

Warning: Reserve copious amounts of time for the reading of this incredibly lengthy post.

Great American Meatout Day
As a former vegetarian, Great American Meatout Day was not completely foreign to me. Additionally, the concept can easily be deducted from the name of the day itself -- meat, out. March 20, 2010, marks the 25th anniversary of Meatout, which asks Americans to "kick the meat habit, at least for a day, and explore a compassionate, wholesome diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains."

Kiss Your Fiance Day
The roots for Kiss Your Fiance Day are not as deep as Meatout, but the observance is as equally important, especially if you are in the midst of planning a wedding. The basis of the observance is for brides and grooms around the world to take a day to forget wedding planning and kiss each other. Seriously. Somebody, somewhere actually thought this up and submitted it as a "relevant" observance for March 20.

National Jump Out! Day
Other than Google suggesting I mistyped and in fact meant to search for National Grump Out! Day (celebrated in May), I was unsuccessful in discovering the mystery behind the observance.

Turns out Ostara is just another name for the observance of the first day of spring. The word stems from the word Eostre, who was a Germanic Goddess of Spring. Apparently, the holiday was most appealing to early Pagans, who observed the day as a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season.

Proposal Day
Perhaps the creator of proposal day didn't hear the news that wedding planning and the such were supposed to be scarce for the day, but nevertheless, March 20 also provides an opportunity for men who have been procrastinating to take the plunge and propose already. According to one Web site, the timing of the vernal equinox distinguishes March 20 as "the best day to get down on one knee and pop the question." Apparently, there is some truth to the claim as John O'Loughlin, the man behind the day, has evidence that Proposal Day has been a resounding success. No worries though men, if you can't commit to popping the question on March 20, you have another six months to do so as September 22 is supposedly also Proposal Day.

National Agriculture Day
This one is pretty apparent. National Agriculture Day (and the corresponding week, celebrated March 13-20) provides a reminder to thank U.S. ag producers and recognize the contributions of agriculture in our country. Although I couldn't locate information disclosing when the first Ag Day celebration occurred, I did find it ironic that it shares the day with Meatout Day. If I had to guess,  I would say whichever observation came first, choosing the date for the other was not an oversight. 

National Quilting Day
Another celebration that does not deem any further explanation. However, since my mom did not pass on her craft gene to me, I'm out on celebrating in any manner that actually involves me performing any type of actual quilting.

Snowman Burning Day
I must admit, this particular observation piqued my interest more than any other on the list. I envisioned poor Frosty waiting for his demise, but was unsure beyond that how an actual snowman was going to burn. Apparently, Snowman Burning Day doesn't actually involve the sacrifising of any men composed of snow. No, this "holiday," which originated as yet another ceremonial celebration for spring, includes the burning of ritual snowmen, made of wood, paper and other non-snow materials. Add to the disappointment that the only Snowman Burning Day celebration location I could track down was at Lake Superior State University in Michigan. Pass.

Won't You Be My Neighbor Day
Falling on the late Fred Rogers' birthday, the celebration of Won't You Be My Neighbor Day pays homage to a man who can best be described as one of the best neighbor's America ever had. I have many fond memories as a child of watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, being serenaded by his soothing voice and watching intently the characters of Make-Believe, while inadvertently learning a lesson or two. With that being said, I plan to pull on my favorite cardigan tomorrow and spend a minute or two thinking about how I can be a better neighbor, in honor of Mister Rogers. And, speaking of neighbors and neighborhoods, I do have to mention that I renewed my lease this week, thus breaking the moving-at-least-every-11-months cycle I had been operating under for the past nine year. A loosely pertinent fact of which I am very happy.

National Corndog Day
And, last but not least, as if March 20 wasn't conflicting enough between Great American Meatout Day and National Agriculture Day, let us now introduce Corndog Day. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not?), National Corndog Day actually has one of the better Web sites I encountered through this project, as well as what seems to be a large number of followers and participants of the celebration. And honestly, what more reason do you need to adopt the "holiday" beyond the fact that PBR is one of the main sponsors. Through the aforementioned Web site, I even managed to locate seven National Corndog Day celebrations that are taking place tomorrow in the Denver area. Maybe I'll check out the celebration in Capital Hill -- they're offering PBR drink specials, corndogs and tater tots. What more could a girl ask for?

Although it will literally be impossible to observe all of the March 20 "holidays," I did enjoy the research and will give my best effort to incorporate a bit of each into my day tomorrow However, if the current weather conditions persist, I may end up observing from the comfort of my warm apartment. It's just like Colorado to welcome the first day of spring with a blizzard. Geesh.

March 12, 2010

the noisy truth

I own a pair of boots that, when worn with tights or socks constructed of thin material, produce a peculiar sound when I walk. For reasons unknown, I forgot this particular piece of information when I donned the boots, accompanied by tights, earlier this week. The result was a bit of confusion and the diminishing of my self confidence because, instead of recognizing the true source of the sound, I assumed the culprit was my thighs rubbing together.

Now, for those of you who have never experienced chub-rub, the concept may be a bit foreign. However, for someone like myself who has encountered her fair share of weight issues, I can attest that the sound (and feeling) of your thighs rubbing together is not embraced by the host. It doesn't take a genius to deduct that the source of such a happening is being overweight, which is obviously not a desirable state.

So, you can imagine my relief when I realized the sound was not in fact my thighs being intimate, but instead a product of the boots. However, I couldn't shake the lingering thoughts triggered by the morning's events. Although I may have dodged the chub-rub bullet this time around, the reality is I have not been taking care of myself lately. Yes, a few weeks ago I touted my plan of running a marathon this year, but being sick has diminished that training. Actually, to be honest, I haven't run in more than two weeks. But it goes beyond the running -- the truth is I weigh nearly 20 pounds more than I did last year at this time. Ugh.

Thankfully, despite the weight gain, my clothes still fit (though ineptly in some cases) and I've remained in general good health. But, overall, I just don't feel like me. I realize my current plight is self induced and not at all unique, but it doesn't make it any easier to confront. Compounding to my situation is the fact that when I moved to Denver nearly three years ago, I was a lot heavier. In fact, at one point (about a year ago), I had lost more than 70 pounds, which is simultaneously encouraging and disheartening. On one hand, I know I can lose weight as I've done it in the past. But, on the other, although not back to my original starting point, I'm going to have to lose the same pounds again.

I'm not seeking sympathy or compliments or any other knee-jerk reaction that tends to accompany such a situation. Honestly, I'm not really looking for anything other than a place and an audience to dispense my thoughts and frustrations, which is really no different than any of my other posts -- this one is just a bit more personal. I would also love to say that now, because I have shared this with the world (or at least my readers or anyone else who happens to stumble across my blog), that by my next post, I will be well on my way to losing the weight. However, despite my body feeling a bit alienated to me right now, I know myself and I realize that it's going to take more than a blog post to kick me into gear.

One of my favorite motivational quotations is from Confucius, who said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I get it. I hear the message loud and clear. Now, I just need to get off my ass and take that first step.

March 6, 2010

in sickness, and in health

Illness changes people. Or, perhaps, change is too strong a word. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say instead that being sick brings out our idiosyncrasies, influencing those traits which commonly lie buried deep inside, reserved only for "special" occasions, to rear their inscrutable heads.

Personally, I found out this week during a nasty bout of what I now fondly refer to as the you-may-have-this-but-you-definitely-have-this-but, -wait-you-also-have-this-and-just-kidding-about-that-other-thing-we-thought-you-had sickness that apparently, I turn into a sobbing ball of tears when I'm sick. Now, while I realize crying is not exactly an atypical method of coping when sick, for someone who is traditionally known in her group of friends for rarely shedding a tear, it was kind of a big deal for me.

Just to prove my point, last night, I found out that a conversation during the week between two friends went something like this (and just a warning, I was driving and listening, so I may be a few words off):

Friend 1: How is Nicole doing?
Friend 2: She's pretty sick.
Friend 1: Really?
Friend 2: Yeah, she's called me crying multiple times a day for the past couple of days.
Friend 1: Wow, she was crying? She must be really sick.

Okay, perhaps that was not the most intriguing story and yes, my dialogue writing skills could be honed, but I think the point can be adequately extracted. I'm just not a cryer. However, as illustrated (poorly) in the conversation above, this week was a bit different. This week involved spending the greater part enduring the most horrible pain I've ever experienced, battling an extremely high fever, spending time in the hospital and dealing with other related ailments. In the end, all the pain was due to a severe combination of tonsillitis and strep throat, which caused my fever to spike to over 104 degrees, landing me in the hospital. In addition, the week also threw me some non-health related curve balls that exacerbated its overall crapiness, including, but not limited to, having my e-mail account compromised while lying (sans computer) in a hospital bed, resulting in a weird message being sent to 527 of my closet  e-mail contacts. Also, being the lucky recipient of a speeding ticket while on my way to what could have been the slicing and dicing of one of my tonsils. But, I digress -- I think it's quite apparent it was not a good week.

Now, I'm not claiming that what I went through was anything vastly unique or anywhere near the same level as other illnesses, but, I have been fortunate in this lifetime to have only dealt with a few minor ailments, the worst (of which I remember) having been a few bouts with stomach viruses. With the exception of having my impacted wisdom teeth extracted during my early 20s (a minor procedure), I have never been near an operation or been admitted into the hospital. So, relating solely to my own experiences, the past week was pretty horrible.

So, what got me through it and enabled me to sit here today forming coherent, non-Codeine-laced thoughts (attempting the pain-med-free route today)? Of course, the antibiotics played a large part, but, honestly, I would have to say my friends deserve a larger share of the accolades. And, I say that because the outcome of the medicine was expected, even required, but the actions of my friends were completely voluntary.

From a short text inquiring on my malady to the dedication of one friend who gave up large portions of her days to deliver medicine, food and entertainment, I appreciate all they did for me the past week. Although, it's not with total surprise that I'm relaying this information -- I knew before this week the value of their friendships. But, perhaps it was more a reassurance in that their actions showed that not only do they enjoy spending time with me when I'm at my best, but they also care about me when I'm at my worst, and for that, I am truly grateful. And, while I don't wish illness upon any of them, I do hope I can repay the favor at some point. My gratitude and love goes out to each of you.

In other related news, it seems that some component of my sickness has caused an inexplicable escalation of my sense of smell. Hmmm...