Thursday, September 30, 2010

911 Words

What I heard while riding Blanche today:
“Good Job!”
“I am amazed by your balance!”
“Looks like fun!”

It is true that a few words can turn a person’s day around. Folks say stuff to me as I unicycle by and they have no idea how it uplifts me. Two words from a stranger, “Good job!” … those words are fuel in my tank ... Air in my tire …. Treasure in my chest … A cherry on my sundae. You get the idea?

Today I was in a 911 unicycle situation while attempting fourteen miles. Thoughts in my head shouted, “Help! I am tired! I'm beat and feeling awkward as hell on this single wheel!” And then the Soul Feeding Police showed up --- out of uniform --- dressed like civilian exercisers on the same path as me. They cheered me up with a few simple words and a smile.

I want be a person who is not afraid to speak encouragement or kind words to strangers. It is easy to tell my kids they’re cute or that I’m proud of them. But to tell a stranger what a nice smile they have? Or say “You can do it!” to a runner? That’s difficult. Sort of awkard.

But two-little-measly words might perk them up or give them that warm-fuzzy feeling inside that we all crave to hear. Words are powerful! As humans we all desire balanced lives. This means having our soul fed as well as feeding those around us. By speaking words of encouragement we help ourselves maintain this balance. It is a win-win situation!
 I desire to pay it back to those who don’t know me, but have the courage to speak up as I roll by.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scared, Unprepared, Laid Back or Clueless?

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I went to the Camarillo marathon website to nail down the race course for Sunday … I printed the map and then noticed there is a gal that keeps a blog all about her experience preparing for her second half-marathon, which is the same one I am preparing for. Yes, that one that's a mere four days away!
Curious, I visited her blog. She outlined what she is doing this week to mentally and physically prepare for those 13.1 miles of exercise. She mentioned everything from her training program that includes Chi running form focuses, being sure to get eight hours of sleep, a particular diet that is supposed to help her out on race day and laying out what she is to wear (a shirt with her blog logo on it, of course). She even knows what she is eating for breakfast the day of the race … grain bread with almond butter. Can I tell you that I have not considered any of this?
Should I be scared?
Am I unprepared?  
Or really laid back?  
Or totally clueless?
Or worse ...
ALL of the above!

Pondering answers to those questions, I sat back and laughed at myself.  Please note that I drank two glasses of wine last night and did not stop to think if it would cause unicycle fallout days from now. My diet is far from that of a health nut … working in second grade I may as well work part-time in a bakery. Students bring in home-baked goods regularly, not to mention free donuts in the Resource room on Fridays. Why, just today I bought a jumbo package of mini-pumpkin muffins from Sam’s Club. Now I am feeling unicycle guilt for writing out this truth. Was I supposed to transform into a health nut because I am crazy enough to unicycle a half marathon?

On my behalf, I do insist on eight hours sleep and eat a solid breakfast, but as far as wardrobe? I know I will be wearing my unicycle diaper and shoes/socks on race day. Don't worry, there will be more clothes on my body, but I am not sure what ... I should create a shirt so I can advertise what a minimally-prepared-light-hearted-mom-goof-athlete-blogger looks like.

I might be in for a surprise on Sunday, as my can slips and slides in the saddle, soaked in sweat about mile nine. All this while I'm gasping for air and dripping in my own juices ... smiling all the way ... so, who cares if I am scared, unprepared, laid back or clueless?  I choose to live like I'm alive

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Remember to live and to love

We live, we love,
We forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given
Are gifts from above
And today we remember
To live and to love
- Superchick

With all this time spent perched on Blanche, new music was definitely needed. I visited iTunes weeks ago for some new songs to help chip away at the long unicycle rides. I have fallen for songs that are not only catchy, but their words have inspiring messages. Is this a sign I am maturing? Like a real grown up?


Don't be alarmed, I still listen to the Neil Diamond, Oingo Boingo, Black Eyed Peas, Shania Twain and Beastie Boys, among a potpourri of various artists (what can I say? I am eclectic). However, some songs have really catpured my heart. These songs feed the soul.

This one by Superchick (a Christian band…think modern day Go-Go’s with substance) is stuck in my head and as annoying as that can be, it is okay because it is always good to be reminded to live and to love. And that life is such a gift.

Wanna hear it? Click here:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fantastic Firsts

Hard to believe that next Sunday I will be participating in my first half-marathon on Blanche. I feel excited and reassured since I completed fourteen miles for the first time this past Thursday! I am so thankful to have that day off work. Not only can I take long unicycle rides, but my family benefits with clean laundry and a restocked fridge. Win-win! It took 2.5 hours to complete fourteen miles and this tells me that I am physically capable (and my can is sore) … now the hard part … being mentally geared up for having people around me (remember Unicycle Rose Bowl?). And, did I mention that every mile along the course there is a band playing? Since I don’t care about my timing, but just having fun, I might stop and shake my groove thing along the way. We will see how it plays out as it really depends on my anxiety level on race day.
Their first cousin that does not use a litter box or lick his bottom!
Another fantastic first? My sons and husband met their cousin/nephew on Saturday. This baby is so adorable with his tiny hands, feet and facial expressions that mimic his daddy. I felt like I was cuddling my mini-swaddled brother-in-law! I can’t keep my hands or mind off beautiful baby Benson. Those maternal juices start to flow at the sight of him and all I can think is that I want a baby (my husband immediately said NO). My kids fell in love with their one-and-only cousin (without paws and a tail) instantly and they anxiously anticipate the next time they get to see and hold him. Funny thing is that all this little angel did during our visit was sleep as we passed him around and stroked his soft baby skin. I even picked up his tiny-toothpick arms and made him do some baby cheers … he was knocked out in deep REM for each sis-boom-bah! Regardless, he captured our hearts for the first time.
"No! We will not have another baby," said my husband. Party pooper.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Real-Life Matters

The Toll Roads
Saves time. And a whole lot more
That is the slogan written on the top the letterhead of the civil judgment concerning my violation for not paying the $4.50 toll, yet I never saw a toll booth to pay! I propose the toll roads slogan be changed to:
The Toll Roads
Saves time but costs a whole lot more!
I do commend the Toll Roads for their swift judgment. They received my explanation contesting the ticket and spit out an answer in days. They re-billed me for the mitigated amount of $29.50, which was half of the original ticket, but still way more than I want to pay for driving 20 minutes on an Orange County toll Road. I will pay it and rest my case so I can move on to real-life matters.

Like my new baby nephew. He is an angel without a name. Day three of his life and we still are calling him by his nick name, Hash (Last name Brown). Hash Brown. Really. And honestly, that moniker is starting to grow on me. My creative brother-in-law took a picture of the newborn …what do you think?

Another real-life matter? Our pet ate our pet. Yes, again! Our third and final mouse escaped the cage and was found by our dauchund, Sara. Poor little critter. I returned home to Jerry the Mouse lifeless, hanging from Sara’s mouth. With tears in his eyes, my ten-year old said he was relieved because he was tired of cleaning the smelly cage. Clearly, he was torn. But I’m not. I am happy to be rodent free! In the big picture, we lost a pet, but gained a cousin. What a lovely exchange for the things in life that really matter!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Unicycle Rose Bowl

Let’s live like we’re alive.
I love the lyrics to this song by Nevertheless, it reflects how I feel about this post. It reminds me how attempting new and different challenges can make one feel so alive! Keeping the balance has never been so interesting or as much fun as it has been lately.

My visit to the Rose Bowl was lovely and well received. Together, my sister, Miss Piggy, and her little dog Cinco, completed eight miles on Saturday morning cruising around The Pasadena Rose Bowl. The unicycle ride around people was just what I needed to get a sense of what the half-marathon will be like with all those run/walkers. And, it was sister time well spent, as Miss Piggy and my brother- in-law leave on Monday for sixteen days in Italy. Niiiice!

And while I am on the subject of sisters … Please note that I packed my bags Friday, anticipating less than twenty-four hours in Pasadena, but it turned into three days. However, I did not pack for three days and I had left the Weiner Sisters home alone. Please note: I have never done that, but it was worth it and they survived, with a little neighbor help. My little sister, Cutie-Pie, decided to have her baby a week early and the timing could not have been more perfect (my guys were visiting the Sequoias for four days). So I stayed in Los Angeles with Miss Piggy so I could view the newest family prince. And he is a prince… for the first time in my life; I am an Aunt (insert clicking heels here).

God is so good in so many different areas of life. I want to recognize this because of the hard times when I have struggled and felt so, so low. Those pits have allowed my highs to be higher than I could have ever imagined. Seeing my tiny, six-pound-nine-ounce nephew was like a dream come true … even better than riding eight miles around the Rose Bowl on a unicycle! Waaaaay better.

I will end this with the encouraging prompt to
 Live Like We Are ALIVE!

Friday, September 17, 2010

It doesn't feel as odd as it looks

While riding Blanche last week, I passed a building with mirrored windows and saw myself. I laughed ... I have to tell you that I don’t feel as odd as I look. Unicyclists look funny (some would say dorky), and awkward, but it really doesn’t feel that way when I am perched on that seat. I just thought I should mention that because I have started to tell people about the half-marathon that is only sixteen days away. Their reaction is one of disbelief (even the guy at the bike shop did not believe me). Again, it doesn’t feel shocking to ride a unicycle twelve, and eventually thirteen, miles (fingers crossed). It feels very natural and challenging at the same time. I get a lot of thumbs up and encouraging comments and have even met some folks along the way. Riding a unicycle long distances isn’t something that I want to do forever, but it definitely feels like a natural high and the right goal for me right now.

I just got off work and am leaving for Pasadena to visit my sister and to get some practice riding around runners. My sister lives next to the Pasadena Rose Bowl and that place is run/walk central for what looks like the entire city. Cruising  around people makes me nervous, so it seems like a wise move to throw myself into this half-marathon so I can pull it off without a hitch.

Thumbs up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Damm Toll Road

A couple weeks ago Aunt Linda and I drove to Laguna Nigel to attend a family baby shower. It was a lovely Sunday afternoon (see photo) and the shower was delightful (it’s a girl!). On our two-hour ride home, we decided to take a different route back to Ventura County. This involved a toll road, something I am totally unfamiliar with, but was willing to try it if it would shave time off our drive. Aunt Linda pulled out $20 to pay, but not seeing a booth we stuck it in the console, anticipating stopping to pay somewhere along the toll road ride. Cruising on the toll road proved to be just like a regular road, no bells or whistles, just a lot of chat, chat, chat. Not once did we pass through a toll booth to pay what we assumed would be about five bucks. Not once. The toll road merged into the main freeway and off we went. Hmmm, I thought … maybe since it was a Sunday the toll was not enforced? Lucky us. Whatever. We just wanted to get home.

Imagine my surprise when The Toll Roads Violation Enforcement Department sent me a not-so-love-note. It informed me that the vehicle identified (mine) was traveling on The Toll Roads without making the proper toll payment, or having a valid FasTrak Transponder . Stop there. What the heck is a FasTrak Transponder? Like the Fast Pass at Disneyland? Some special apparatus I pick up at Target? Or gas station? Apparently I was “caught” driving on the Toll roads without making the proper toll payment and this violates California Vehicle Code blah, blah blah….and these violations are subject to a civil penalty under blah, blah, blah. In other words I am being cited for the amount of toll, $4.50 plus an outrageous penalty of $55.00! That short stint on the Toll Road was nowhere near worth sixty clams! I’ll admit it, at first I felt ashamed… Bad girl! Then I called my aunt and as we talked and recapped that mediocre non-directive toll ride, I got angry.

Long story short: I filed Section B – Request for an Administrative Investigation. That sounded judicial and red-tape like, but I must attempt to overturn my penalty. Sixty bucks is a lot of money to me (always has been) and I can’t just fork it over without explaining myself (“Splain Lucy!”, as Ricky Ricardo would say). They will investigate my circumstances and my Civil Judgment will be sent in a week. Note to self: Pick up a copy of Toll Roads for Dummies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Congrats to Aorta, the nurse!

Visualizing a goal is one thing. Pushing into action and completing that goal, is well, a horse of a different color. Why does this makes me think of the Wizard of Oz when they are sprucing up Dorothy and the gang to meet the Wizard and there are horses trotting around that change colors as they go by? Ah, hem ...back to my point....This is not a news flash… the concept that imagining versus executing goals are two completely different things. When a person can push oneself into the goal zone I think it deserves recognition. The applause now goes to my cousin. Perseverance and aspiration have been conquered by Aorta (my nickname for her…she calls me Left Ventricle. It is a long story), who set out years ago to tackle nursing school. Not only does that sounds like a hard major to me (biology, anatomy and guts, oh my!), but she has a small daughter and a husband who is battling a rare blood disease (bone marrow and kidney transplant included). This woman’s plate is full, but she did not waver from her goal. She completed the nursing program last month (state exams to follow) and flew down from Oregon to celebrate with the family this weekend.
Those of you who follow my blog have read about how my family throws parties. They are extraordinary, thanks to Overboard , my mother, who adds outrageous flair to any occasion. My aunts are that way too, so this party was no different. There was enough food and munchies to feed Aorta’s graduating class and plenty of fun party favors. There were pens that looked like syringes, filled with red liquid (I could really scare my second graders into sitting still and zipping their mouths with these; they looked like real shots!) My favorite touch of the day? We drank wine from sterile specimen cups. Why was that so fun? I guess because the ridiculous urine jokes spring boarded into every conversation. Who could resist?
The afternoon accomplished exactly what we had hoped…to honor and rejoice with Aorta for completing her goal. Aorta did not just hope or think about nursing school, but she hopped on that horse of a different color and rode it over the finish line!
Congratulations Aorta, I am very proud of you!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chuck E. Cheese Head

The other day I was feeling overwhelmed by life.... so much flying at me all at once and then I had a flashback….When my sons were little we frequented Chuck E. Cheese. That big rat was quite popular and we even celebrated my son’s 8th birthday there. I was sucked in with the delightful verbal picture painted in the brochure, “Throw a magical party without lifting a finger! Our parties are a totally cool way for your kids to celebrate with the fun of Chuck E. Cheese's. Plus, all you do is relax. Because we do all the work.” Yes, they do all the work, but there is so much more to this token-fueled kid zone that the brochure does not mention. Relaxing in this high stimuli environment is next to impossible (just like real life can be at times).

After investing hours of my life (that I can never get back), I realized that the part of Chuck E. Cheese I did not like was, um, well…. pretty much… all of it. From the moment I walked in, the place was infested with kids from diaper age to doting grandparents and pushy mothers. The Skytubes that lined the ceiling looked colorfully gross. One time I could not find my kid and after looking all over we found him lost in the tube looking down at us bawling his eyes out, unsure how to get down. I never encouraged those human-germ habitrails …especially after my son’s friend peed in it by accident. There was no telling what bacteria and microorganisms called the tubes Home Sweet Home.

Sadly, their pizza was nothing special. But, it cost the same as some other joint that creates a pie worth $15.00. Rip off. They did have a salad bar and served beer (for a small fortune), so it was not all bad in the food department. However, after watching my kids swing from game to game, ride to ride, side to side while burning through 80 tokens in an hour, I developed a bad case of Chuck E. Cheese Head. I define this as mental overstimulation… felt like I had a cement-ball pit in my head and a grey haze over my heavy-tired eyes. There was too much happening at once (like real life), plus it was so loud and everything sticky to the touch (sad to say, but sometimes like my life). I mentally shut down. Once Chuck E. Cheese Head set in, I could only dream of leaving that Rat’s zoo and lie on my couch in dark quiet. Feet up.

But no…there was still the need to turn in the darn tickets and pick out the cheap prize from behind the grimy-fingerprinted glass case. Always understaffed, it took fifteen minutes to have our turn, and then the process of figuring out what junk would litter my car took another ten. At last the visit would come to an end and our final stop was the bathroom for a good scrub down. It really didn’t matter that I insisted on this because my kid would inevitably pick up some virus, no matter how I tried to avoid it. I finally accepted that this is just the way real-life works.

My kids are older and I have not stepped foot in that Rat's Palace for years. However, this phenomenon of Chuck E. Cheese Head lives on. Whether I am overwhelmed standing in Home Depot, trying to make a decision while my kids moan, or if I am at an overpopulated child’s birthday party, that feeling born in Chuck E. Cheese moves in like a nasty storm and I dream of leaving whatever the mayhem and lie on my couch in the quiet dark. Feet up.

Chuck E. Cheese Head….the reality of life that big-happy-dancing-hairy rat gave birth to, is here to stay and the craziness he represents is part of the real world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

“ The Greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” ~ Sven Goran Eriksson

Did our friend Sven have a huge fear off failing? I do. Always have. At times, it has paralyzed me and kept me from taking steps toward goals I wished to achieve. This whole unicycle half-marathon challenge delivers a new load of fears. While on my 12-mile ride yesterday I had plenty o’ time to organize my fears. I think putting them out there is a step toward releasing them from my psyche so I can channel my inner-mojo to success. My top three fears? (and yes, there are more than three).

Fear One: The Domino Effect. This fear basically means that for whatever reason… maybe my sweaty can slips off Blanche at mile 8? Or, I hit a bump in the road?.... and I fall … big time. Then along with me, I take down the runner behind me, who in turn takes out another and before you know it there is this domino effect of angry marathon participants filing law suits against Unicycle Rose. I imagine that all are in stable condition, but still this irrational fear haunts me. I get this visual in my head, then laugh (alot) and shudder at the same time.

Fear Two: They won’t allow iPods during the race. I simply can’t ride without my music. I am not superstitious, but EVERY ride I MUST start out with 30 minutes of the same eight Christian worship songs. It is a strong MUST! My ride begins with a sort of rolling prayer of thanks and recognition that I can’t make it without God’s help. I thank Him for my health, especially arms, legs and eyes. All working body parts are a blessing and without this 30 minute music/prayer ritual, I will stress.

Fear Three: My only tire will pop. This has happened to me twice this summer and it is an immediate deal breaker. End of ride.

To combat my fears I have decided to take some steps to quell the hell out of them. First, I will email the marathon director and inquire about iPod use. Second, I am taking Blanche down to visit Miss Piggy’s home. My guys are going to the Sequoias camping and I have a solid three days all to myself (and the Weiner Sisters). Miss Piggy lives next to the Pasadena Rose Bowl and that place is infested with runners and walkers on the weekend. There I can work on my domino effect fears. Finally, I will keep my fingers crossed that there is no popping…except for champagne after I cross the finish line!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why I love Blanche

I made interesting observations while visiting 24 Hour Fitness today (I affectionately call it 24 Hour FAT-ness). Upon walking in, I was pleased to see that my machine was not being used. It is sort of an elliptical-meets-stair-stepper-cardio-pusher thing. I have avoided it long enough. Then I noticed that I knew the woman on the treadmill to the left of my machine. I pretended not to see her and she obliged me with the same. Sometimes it is just easier that way. Why does this feel like a confession? Doesn’t everyone engage in obvious avoidance once in a while? Let me offer my disclaimer… I am an extremely social person, but just coming off of five hours with second graders in the second week back to school, I did not feel like talking to anyone. Anyone.

I plugged in my headphones and noticed that out of the six TVs mounted in 24 Hour Fatness that three of them had food shows on. One, Rachel Ray was making fried coconut fish; two, some other lady, deep-fried shrimp corn dogs from scratch (what a mix!); and, three, another woman whipped up chocolate cupcakes lathered in a peanut butter frosting (chopped peanuts sprinkled on top). It just doesn’t feel right to work out while watching food being prepared. So, I toggled between Glenn Beck and Rachel Ray.

Ten minutes into it, a woman hopped on the machine to my right and the smell emanating from her almost made me faint. She put the WOAH in Wo-man!! It was a sort of sweaty-shoe-mixed-with-dog-droppings-then-rolled-in-deep-sweat bad. Pungent! The reek was so strong that I had to turn my face away from her and towards the lady that I did not want to small talk with. It was an awkward angle, keeping focused on Rachel Ray, nose toward left away from stinky lady, but not too much so that I had to catch up with the pre-school mommy friend. Forty minutes could not pass soon enough.

Even though she is a unicycle, Blanche would never put me in such an awkward position and THAT is why I love her! Tomorrow we will attempt 12 miles; the half-marathon is only twenty-six days away. Yes, I am very nervous, thanks for asking. However, I can get through anything after my visit to the gym today.