Do It Anywhere

After this week I’ve needed to run, scream, cry, sing at the top of my lungs, and dance all over my living room.

Tonight I recognized that I may have been pushing myself on my 8 mile run- which I followed up by doing a 3.5 mile run last night. I want to run, but I am also aware that my body is asking me (so kindly) to slow down. Remember that time you had lupus? Yes. Body. 

So today after I got home from work I decided to take it down a notch and use FitStar, a workout app that claims-

You can do this anywhere– at home! Work! Vacation!

And while my first thought is always- where exactly are their users working? I have to admit it’s a great app. FitStar (click me to see! provides you with a basic to complex workout regimen that is designed to target different parts of your body (ie: core and arms day, legs and back day). It explains each individual exercise and times you while giving instructions and advice. It then allows you to be totally 100% honest  and rate each exercise (did you really do that plank for the full 30 seconds?) My personal fav is while you’re doing a wall push up the “trainer” says, “smile, don’t worry, you aren’t being searched.” I haven’t purchased the full app, but I do use the basic version which is free. It’s a good addition to add on the days of the week that I’m looking to slow my roll. 

So tonight I put on some workout gear, you have to dress the part to act the part, John’s new Beats that I got him for his birthday (tip- buy your boyfriend presents that you can use), and started the app. Forty minutes later and a dance party mixed in and I’m actually satisfied.

I started this post by saying that after this week I’ve needed to run, scream, cry, sing at the top of my lungs, and dance all over my living room.

The past two days I have run.

Three nights ago I screamed.

Every day I have cried.

Today I sang at the top of my lungs.

And just now I danced all over my living room.

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Two More Miles

Two miles- if I tell myself only two more miles I can keep running. Those two miles are the increments that I find myself depending on to push through. Generally I rely on this trick heavily, along with my new favorite- reading trashy magazines. One trashy mag for every two miles- I have it down to a science.

Yesterday the gimmicks were unnecessary because all I could think about doing was my run. I needed to shake off everything. This week was one of the heaviest emotional weeks of my life. Finding running has provided me with an outlet that I never had before. Running, like writing, has become a channel for everything in my life and alI could think of was, what do people do when they’re upset that don’t run?! Riddle me that.

And so I got on the treadmill and I ran. My ankle cracked, my neck was sore. I truly believe that emotions impact our physical well being and let me tell you, I felt like a wreck. I lowered the speed, I slowed down, and I continued. And I ran and I ran until there was nothing in my mind or my body. I just looked ahead, straight into the blackened television screen that I did not bother to turn on. At times all I could think about was David, and my mom, and my brother, and life. I was overcome with grief, but this sadness somehow kept my thoughts so blank, yet so consumed.

The minutes turned into miles and the miles allowed the emotional pain to turn into physical pain, and ultimately it all evaporated. And I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but running allowed me to feel angry, and sorrowful, and manifest that negativity in a better space. I could feel these emotions boiling inside of me and I was afraid that they were going to be taken out on those closest to me. I needed to run, and I needed comfort. Yesterday I ran eight miles straight.

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My brother and David climbing a reservoir- typical boys being boys behavior. My mom was so angry when she saw this picture- I can’t believe you boys climbed up that! What’s wrong with you two?!

In some strange way I kept running for David. I kept envisioning this life that needs to be fulfilled- Never be afraid to go out on the limb, and climb as high as you possibly can. Keep going. Don’t stop. Life is too short. Challenge yourself.

David.

They say only the good die young– a saying I will never utter. Like stating, they are in a better place,  I don’t find solace in it. Sure, sometimes the “good” die young, as do the “bad,” but the truth is- no one should die young.

On Friday night my youngest brother lost his best friend, a young man that cannot be defined by a single word like “good”. He was a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a best friend, a student, a caring individual that brought happiness and light to those around him. He was the kid I teased, alongside my other brother, mercilessly, like we would tease the youngest. This was because David was one of the family.

We spent a lot of time reflecting on David and as we remembered David’s life we sought to laugh at countless stories and moments of times he made the world a better place. On his first playdate with my brother at the age of five, he was playing in the yard and finding caterpillars with my brother and putting them into the air conditioning unit outside. My mother’s immediate response was, this is the bounciest, most energetic kid, and he is never coming over again. All lies, over the next thirteen years he practically lived in our home. And in that time my brother made his best friend.

I’m not going to expand on this further at this time, but I learned a lot from this tragedy and I know my life will never be the same.

  • Appreciate the beauty in everything.
  • Even if it doesn’t seem like things will get better, they will. Trust me.
  • Cherish those in your life and never take them for granted. The most simple moments you shared, like summer days sitting on a dock by the lake will become the most important memories that you have.
  • Know that you are loved and know how valuable your life is to those around you.
  • This story has hit the news and people will always have their predictions and comments. On that note, find empathy even when you can’t truly understand why. Why is a senseless question because we will never know.

Yesterday we attended the service for David and as I listened to the rabbis words I found the comfort that I will never find from a Billy Joel song- we can’t bring David back, but we can carry out his legacy and we can hold his name, his soul, his life in our hearts and minds forever. David will have a legacy in my life and he will always be an important person in my thoughts, he will influence my life from this point forward. David, everyone loved you so incredibly much. And as I watched my eighteen year old brother act as a pallbearer in his best friends funeral, I asked the same senseless question: why. And I don’t expect an answer, but I hope that in the future I will never have to ask it again.

The Jeep

John always wanted a Jeep before his days of a beat down, 1999, Honda Civic that could fit nothing more than two people and maybe a few more tiny people. Why a Jeep? I don’t know… It’s a Long Beach thing, we all love them deep down. John and I discussed at great lengths all of the wonderful trips we could take if only we both had bigger cars, but alas, neither of us wanted to pay or part with our beasts. Following Hurricane Sandy, John and I both lost our cars, drowned to their wheels in sewage water. I was furious, my beautiful, young friend had perished at the hands of Sandy, that good for nothing, lousy, not even a real hurricane, storm. John lost his old reliable friend, the Civic, but I knew there was a shred of excitement as he acknowledged that there was no better time to invest in the car of his fantasies, The Jeep.

Fast forward a year and we haven’t gotten too much out of our SUVs. The camping, the off-roading, the 4 wheel driving, all things we wanted to do were rarely taken advantage of, and to be honest, I didn’t think it was fair to the car. I mean, what was it’s purpose if we weren’t using it for what it was made for?! Which brings me to this past week as we decided to embark on a Vermont adventure for a few day getaway with friends. 

We packed her to the gills and prepared the Jeep for windy, (and windy- get it?) AND snowy, backroad, roads. 

The drive was calm, we spoke occasionally, I love when silence loses discomfort and instead becomes familiar. Conversation becomes chosen words of value, or used to sing old favorites from the 90s station. On the drive North I allowed my mind to wander and eventually I drifted off. The car has always lulled me to sleep- a method frequented by my young and tired mother when she had exhausted all other options of easing a colicky infant.

Tal, Tal, when do you want to stop for food?

I woke up disoriented and groggy, but food has a way of making me alert real fast. We pulled off at the next rest stop and were thrilled to see a Chipotle. It was Johns first time so I was excited for his experience- we really, really love food. We bonded over our love for burrito bowls, guac, and chips and salsa, and then hit the road for the final haul. 

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When we arrived in Vermont I was silenced by its beauty, and though I’ve visited the state before I was still awestruck. The cascading mountains, the dense snow, the smell of firewood burning in the fireplaces of nearly every home, and the evergreen trees are nothing like my beach town. It was nice to shakeup the regularity that I am so accustomed to. When we pulled into our home for the next few days I was thrilled to see the chimney smoking.

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That night we stayed in for board games, puzzle making, laughs, and homemade chicken parm. We tucked in early- we had a few days of snowboarding ahead of us.

Packing Neurosis

____ Two pairs of thick socks
____ snowboarding pants / jacket
____ 2 pairs of long johns
____ 2 pairs of long running spandex
____ white snowboarding boots
____ BOX of hand warmers
____ white hat, polar bear hat
____ long sleeve plain shirt(s) (3)
____ under tanks
____ sweatpants
____ sweatshirt (polar bear)
____ ugg slippers
____ undies, don’t forget them… Don’t.
____ regular socks
____ makeup bag. The small one with the essentials.
____ toiletries – the regular stuff. Wrap toothbrush in tinfoil.
____ iPad and charger
____ phone charger
____ yummy snacks

Ride up wearing: skinny jeans, gap tee with hoodie, and brown boots.

Things I never picked up but said I would days ago: random toiletries, good brews, snacks.

Things already in the car so don’t panic looking for them: snowboard, boots, mittens (because gloves suck, I’ll say it!), funky helmet courtesy of a friend who doesn’t want me to die.

Does anyone else do this before going away?! And still… I always leave something. Not sure if it’s lupus fog, the blonde in me, or I’m just that forgetful.

John’s ready!

20140217-073910.jpgAfter a great week of running (Hello five miles! And yay! Jumping for joy! Hello six!) I’m going to do a quick 5k, gather my belongings, and it’s off to Vermont for a few days.

The last time I went snowboarding was in 2008. I have a feeling it’s going to be like riding a bike for me… please see: Not good. On the other hand, somehow through blogging and running, I’ve become a more adventurous person. I allow myself to be challenged and I enjoy throwing myself into new adventures. Maybe it’s because I know either way, there’s always a story!

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That was from Killington in 2008- we stayed in a house with over 20 high school friends. This time it’s a road trip to Stratton- 4 of us. How you know you’re getting old? You’re thrilled it’s low key and you will have a bed to sleep in. Beds were things for kings and queens when I was 20.

I’m looking forward to real maple syrup, sitting around with friends, hot chocolate, fresh air that’s safe to breath, and hopefully some powdery snow. And only one bruise. That’s it.

Where’s a spot you would love to get away to?! Seriously- give me a suggestion!

Call me Ms. Pfeiffer

When did you know it’s what you wanted to do?
I’m not sure.

Uno, you’re not saying it. Say unooo When I was young, everyone had to learn. My brothers were forced to learn Spanish, my friends were forced to write music, everyone was forced to play student. Sure, I was a bossy pants, but it was all in good spirit- I loved teaching.

In college I quickly to recognized the cost of books- unreasonable. my options were fairly simple- either I wasn’t going to read them and create a dependent relationship with google and be the only person in a 500 person class actually listening, I could buy the books and feel exploited by the man, or I could manipulate those around me into letting me use their books. I chose all three, but my favorite was the latter.

Can I borrow your textbook? I will create an outline of the chapter and then tutor you before the test! This worked. And it was a win-win for me… Someone was going to let me teach them. And this is around the time that I began to realize that I could help people understand challenging material in a simplified way. It was the first time in my life I felt true ownership over something and I knew it was my “calling” (so cheesy and cliche, I know)

I know what I’ll do, because I have this passion– I would say this in a confident, knowing voice, as I stared aimlessly into the distance. I’m going to teach the underprivileged youth. I thought I was Michelle Pfeiffer from Dangerous Games.

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But I had a goal, and a dream, and I wanted to feel fulfilled. So I applied for Teach for America. And I worked very hard to get into the program- I took my nose ring out for the interview, knowing it would close up, just because I wanted to be professional. Spoiler alert, my interviewer had her nose pierced. But I digress. After months of anxiety, testing, essays, a demo lesson… I didn’t get it. And this awful situation, which was a blessing in disguise, changed my life.

There is a silver lining in everything folks. *And it’s not just because TFA is an awful program that puts young, inexperienced teachers in the most challenging places in the United States. Which for many of them, kills their drive to teach.

It was the first time that I did not allow failure to shut me down. I embraced it as a challenge. If you want something enough, a roadblock does not hinder your progress. I wanted to kick that roadblock down, and then teach it a lesson! Pun intended. From that point forward I worked my tail off. I read. I wrote. I painted for an art class that I took for no reason at all except that I thought it would help relieve my stress. It caused more. And I applied for graduate school. And I got in.

Fast forward and here I am. I am not teaching in the inner city like Michelle Pfeiffer, but I hope in some way I am changing even one life. I was always being shaped by my educators who both inspired me, and made me despise coming to school all at the same time. Teachers were the heroes and villains of my childhood. Also, I myself am a constant student, and I love education and learning. I love teaching. When you find a career that is more than a job, it is a lifestyle choice, it makes you excited to go to work and you have found a gem. And when you spend what seems like more time with your coworkers than your family, you better love your job. And maybe one day you too can be someone’s hero, or villain.

What do you do for a living?! Why did you start?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/prompt-money-for-nothing/

For the Love of Love

Serotonin.
Dopamine.
Oxytocin.

These are the chemicals that some of the hardest drugs try to replicate to make you feel good- they’re also the chemicals that are naturally triggered through love.

I love, love. I love the way love hits you instantaneously as it pulsates messages from your brain and throughout your body.

I love how love is mesmerizing.

I love how love is a good hug on a bad day.

I love how love is about compromise.

I love how love gives an explanation to this crazy world.

I love how love is understanding.

I love how love makes me see things outside of my own narrow vision.

I love how love is forgiving.

I love how love is complicated, but worth every ounce of it’s difficulty.

I love how love is indescribable. As I sit here trying to think about love, I can’t begin to quantify it’s feeling into words.

Once a year we take a day to reflect on how thankful we are. Today, reflect on the love that surrounds you in all facets of your life.

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The Little Engine that Could

When I was a wee little gremlin my mother would read me fantastic bedtime stories that continue to impact me to this day. We would lay in bed together and we would read the many classics of Beatrix Potter and other stories that every child must read, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Strega Nona. Books are no longer valued as they were when I was a kid. Even then, in the world of Nintendo and Sega Genesis, books were losing their charm. Like music, books became my escape as a child, and through them I met some of the best people, and sometimes animals, that I have ever met. It was through many of these tales that I would learn deep rooted morals that have influenced adult choices I make today.

The Tortoise and the Hare taught me that it’s acceptable to take my time because slow and steady wins the race. I have applied this notion throughout my running endeavors and I have come to terms with my love for the jog over the run. I kept this in mind as I ran my first three miles – throwback Thursday to that day: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The Giving Tree taught me quite a few lessons. When I was a child I walked away learning to never take advantage of anything in life, and to be appreciative of all that I have been given. Now that I re-read it as an adult I see more clearly that the boy was an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.

Corduroy taught me the importance of friendship and acceptance. Also, it’s OK to lose a button, you will still be loved, even with your imperfections.

The Velveteen Rabbit is a story of unconditional love. and magic.

“‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'” 

Ah, memories. These are only a few that immediately came to mind as I sat down to write on this snowy day.

Last night, another perennial favorite came into my mind as I stepped onto the treadmill- The Little Engine that Could. My throat was slightly scratchy but I desperately wanted to run because I took a few days off due to my schedule. To run, or not to run? It became imperative that I run- I think I can.

I knew I needed some distraction so I brought trashy magazines to the gym, speaking of the importance of reading. Two magazines later and I had put in nearly 4 miles. What’s two moreI think I can. I listened to my breathing and I tried not to get into my head too much- it’s amazing how necessary that is in running. Once I’m in my head it’s over. Once I remind myself that I have double what I’ve done in order to run a half-marathon, I go into panic mode. I was determined to clear my brain and just kept thinking of that little engine chugging along, not quitting. And so I did what the engine would do. I ran two more miles, light on my feet, and the steady pace of 6.4 on the treadmill.

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Last night I completed six miles- One year ago I couldn’t run one. On the day that my legs gave out and every step was painful I never imagined I would one day train for a half-marathon. I refuse to quit. In some ways I’ve always been like the little engine. I’ve never been the valedictorian of anything, but I’ve always had determination, and I’m OK with that. 

When did you stop Dancing?

Surround yourself with positive energy and you will generate positivity back into the world. Surround yourself with negativity, and you get my point. I love Monday night yoga sessions because Kristen, the instructor, brings me peace of mind. She oozes self-awareness and confidence but maintains humbleness that many would lose if they were her. It’s partially the poise she carries as she steps between mats speaking in a voice the makes it’s way through each one of us. There is never room in her classes and we sit mat to mat, we are family. Tonight we gathered our mats around her as she told us the story of those who go to shamans for that which ails them-

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions. When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?” (link)

I sat with my eyes closed, my mouth curved up in a smile. Because I know the last time I sang was today, in my car, as I belted out the words to Sic Transit Gloria, a song the reminds me of my teenage, punk rock, years. I know the last time I danced was Friday night with my girlfriends in my living room. I’m not sure why we started, but a little Beyonce and a room filled with females can lead to a lot of dancing and why can’t I just be her. I know the last time I was enchanted by a story was today, and every day. I have always found solace in a good book. And maybe I have never found comfort in silence, but I think I’m getting better at it. 3/4 ain’t bad. 

We sat listening, and then she asked us to take a chance with her and to sing. She sounded hesitant and explained that she had never tried this either. I found comfort in exploring discomfort together and everyone else seemed to agree. Our voices began slowly, but gradually they filled the room, and the streets. We chanted, and sang, and we made melodies. Our eyes were closed but I peaked- we were all smiling. Every single person was smiling.

In that moment I understood how people get sucked into cults- yea, she’d be a good leader… never thought anyone would get me to serenade Long Island in Om Shanti chants. 

As we returned to our mats and entered into downward dog I felt a release from life. From crappy days. From fights. From anxiety over conversations that required zero deep thinking, but I thought they did.

And if it wasn’t for the guy who came in late, who I have never seen before, that nauseatingly smelled like body odor, and then squeezed in right next to me, it would have been the best yoga class. Ever.

Today was supposed to Suck

Getting out of bed can sometimes feel inconceivable on a Thursday morning. Maybe it’s because it’s almost Friday. Maybe it’s because the workdays are long this time of the year. Maybe it’s because it is exceptionally bitter out and it seems to be dark every time I’m outside. It’s just difficult to get out of bed.

I hit the snooze five times.

.

.

.

.

.

The coffee pot turns on automatically as it does every day at 6. Why is it that I wake up so easily on Saturday when I want to sleep in yet so difficult when I can’t? I ponder this for a little while until I realize I need to be at work in an hour.

I hobble over snow and slip because my city hates cleaning streets. I mutter curses under my breath- at everyone. I’m tired and grouchy.

I make it on time because I’m a time nazi and ten minutes early might as well be late. I realize my phone is missing and assume that it’s in my car, lost in the parking lot, or simply missing. I take a seat at my desk and hope for the best.

At breakfast I cut myself with a knife while cutting a bagel. I learn from my work mom, Laura, that most people cut themselves on Sunday mornings. I defy the odds- typical. The bleeding isn’t bad so I wash my hands, the knife, and get a band aide. I make sure to finish putting cream cheese on my bagel. This moment is embarrassing because someone I work with chooses to use the knife I did not cut myself with and actually asks which one jabbed me. I walk back to my desk feeling like a pariah.

At lunch I spill soup on my lap. It doesn’t stain so I’m happy. I’m convinced today is just one of “those days.”

When I got home I was determined to go to the gym but felt it could only be possible after an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker- to make me feel better about my life today. Bravo always makes me feel better about myself.

I hopped on a treadmill and the tv didn’t work, of course not, so I blasted my music. And every single song was meant to be. Angry. Old school, west coast rap. Slightly Stoopid and Sublime to cool me down. Faster. Run hard when it’s hard to run.

And I ran my fastest time for a 5k. And now I know my day that was supposed to suck didn’t suck at all.

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