Monday, May 30, 2011

One of My Favorite Things

While you may think my Starbucks City Mugs are a silly thing to be one of my favorite things I’m going to explain to you why.
First of all, for those of you who don’t know, Starbucks produces and sells a line of City Mugs.  They each depict a city in the same colorful manner.  They are only sold at major Starbucks stores in that city.  Therefore you MUST visit that city in order to buy a City Mug or you have to have a friend who will bring one home for you.  They offer them domestically and internationally.
I started collecting them by accident actually.  Someone brought me one from China and I thought it was a really neat.  I started looking for them in all the cities I visited.  Now, there are a few reasons I love my City Mugs.
1.  They allow me to remember my trips.  I have all of the mugs lined up on a shelf above my desk. I can look up, see the cities and remember my travels.
2.  They are a really inexpensive way to remember a trip.  They usually cost about $10, less than even buying a tee shirt.
3.  My friends and family all know I collect them and they bring them back for me from their travels.  Now thats a cool present!  Most recently, my friend bought me one from Hawaii.  Instead of a traditional mug that holds hot coffee its an iced coffee cup!  Love that!
4.  I have put my collection to good use.  As I stated above, they are on a shelf over my desk.  I have then used them to house pens, markers, etc.  All of these things would be on my desk surface other wise.
Will I continue to let my collection grow forever?  No.  I have boundaries set up for myself and I’ve actually gotten rid of four or five mugs already that were cities that I didn’t feel strongly about or ones that were bought by people that are no longer part of my life.
So, the lessons are as follows:
Find something you love to look at and can honor in your home every day and collect that.
Enjoy it and look at it.
If possible, find a way to make it useful.

Gym Versus Going It Alone

I don't have a gym membership.  There are number of reasons behind it including finances, scheduling, etc.  However, just about everyone I know belongs to a gym and I sometimes wonder if I'm missing something.

I will say that I have a small home gym with a spin bike, rowing machine, an ellipse, and some weights.   I use the weights once a week and the other cardio equipment when its rainy or too cold to head outside.

So I don't have a room full of mirrors and bright lights to go workout in.  The music comes from my iPod and not speakers in the ceiling.  I don't have to worry about what I look like to the other members.  I don't have a sauna, steam room, or hot tub in my gym, just my plain old shower.

I don't have classes that I can take.  This is probably the one thing I miss.  I used to take classes to mix things up once in a while and fight boredom.  Now I have to vary my routine myself.
This isn't always easy, but I talk to friends and read magazines to find new ways to lift, new running routines, etc.

For most of the year, I try to work out in the great outdoors.  I love the energy I get from being out in the sun, rain and snow.  I also feel like its given me a sense of determination that I didn't have before.  Unlike others who can skip their run if its cold or rainy, I have no choice but to brave the elements in order to get my workout in.  As a matter of fact, if I skipped my workout every time the weather was bad, I'd be out of shape and over weight.

I will admit this past winter in New England was a test.  Not because of the temperatures, but because the snow was piled so high the places to physically run were very limited.  I did have to invest in a lot of cold weather gear.

So instead of paying a gym membership, the outdoors is my gym.  I can cross train on a mountain, get cardio in on the trails, and have some play time with frisbee and soccer.  I know that the park awaits my arrival every day instead of the person at the front desk of a gym.  I make sure that I still take pride in my workout appearance, even though I'm working out solo.

My motivation have to come from myself and within, instead of signs, lights and fellow gym members.  I know that each and every day I have to get my workout in, despite what its doing outside.  So, the moral of the story is that while it might be nice to be a member of a beautiful, spa like gym, I love my outdoor gym and all that it has taught me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recycle Your Shoes!

Nike’s Reuse a Shoe Program brings together two of my life loves: running and recycling.
With old, worn out running shoes donated by consumers like you, Nike provides communities with the materials necessary for playgrounds, tracks and other athletic surfaces.
Last year, over 1.5 million shoes were donated.  Donation is free and you can locate a facility hear you via their website:
Take a look at their website for full details and where and how to donate.  If you’re so inclined, you can even start a program in your area!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Running for Women Review

I've read a lot of running books.  I'm not a super fast or competitive runner, but I do like to learn all I can about the sport and do what I can do improve my performance.

I recently bought myself Running For Women by Kara Goucher.  I wasn't sure if I'd learn anything new from this book, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

The book is broken up into manageable section that cover topics such as what to wear, what to eat, how to cross train, you name it.  The topics covered are great for both the beginner or someone looking to learn a little more more about part of their training routine.

We all know that Kara Goucher is a world class runner.  However, the book is written as if a dear friend was giving you advice.  It sounds like its written by "one of us".  And, the best part is that the advice is applicable today.  There are no complicated routines that you need a trainer to implement.  The words of encouragement come from the heart and when you put the book down you feel inspired and uplifted, as if a friend had given you a round of applause.

I particularly like the second about running for expecting mothers.  Its a topic that not many people address and is even taboo in some circles.  Kara answers question honestly.

This book is a candid look into Kara's life and although you won't be a world class runner after reading it, you will be empowered to own your running routine and to push yourself farther than you thought you could go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Today I went to small claims court for the first time ever.  A client reversed payment on a check and we filed suit.

I didn't expect it to go well or be easy.  The client was problematic from the very first phone call she placed to me.

However, I had no idea how much of a hassle the whole thing would be. And how disheartening.

I have a contract for my services.  An attorney drew it up so it would be enforceable in a court of law.  The client signed it as did we.  We performed our services per the contract.  And yet, she refused to pay.

Instead of this being an open and shut case as I thought it would and should be, we were in court for over an hour being heard by the judge.

The worst part was that the client lied over and over again.  And I had no way to prove her wrong.  She lied about big things, small things, you name it.  She told the court that she spoke with us, when she got voicemail.  She told the court that we ran out the door, when indeed we spent a lot of time with her giving hugs and congratulating her on the day's work.

And so I come home tonight not with the sense of relief that I thought I'd have, but a sense of sadness.  I am having a hard time digesting that there are people out there who want to win, no matter what the cost.  They will lie and steal to get what they want.  I guess I've always believed that people are good and honest, when in fact that doesn't seem to the the case.  And the worst part is that the dishonestly is sometimes rewarded.

I am going to focus my next few days on finding the good in people and surrounding myself with positive influences.  I need to feel as if there is some good in human kind.

I'm going to make it a point to do some volunteer work this month.  I'm also going to try and practice random acts of kindness.  Yes we should all act like this every day, but we don't.  And now that I know a little bit more clearly exactly how much bad there is in the world, I need to do everything I can to be a little extra good :)

Dog Training

Since I've talked about Roxy a lot on the blog, I wanted to put up some training videos....
While we have only had her three months, she has made some big progress with shadow chasing and interaction with other dogs.  We are still working to improve this even further, especially as we hope to hike with her even more as the summer progresses.

However, she seems to love doing "stupid tricks" that are honestly, quite useless, but hilarious and fun at the same time.  Here are two of her new ones...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hiking Barefoot?

I'm sure you've all seen the barefoot shoes out there.  Most of them are a little creepy looking and have all the toes separated.  My husband has a pair and loves them.  He also tries to untie my shoes with his toes every time he wears them.

I thought the shoes were silly and for someone with an injury, not a smart move.  Then I went on some trips and I bought a cheap pair of ballet flats that had zero support and were as good as being barefoot.  I thought they were going to be miserable.  I wore them on planes, to travel to and from the airport, etc.  I ended up getting stuck on a 20 hour trip home and shockingly, the shoes were still really comfy.

I started to think about this whole barefoot thing, maybe it was cool.  Then I realized that every chance I get, I take my shoes off and walk barefoot.  Sometimes, when we camp, I don't wear shoes for days.  So I thought about giving the barefoot shoes a try.  But I couldn't get past the toes.  Then, Merrell came out with (as did other companies like New Balance)  barefoot shoes that don't have the toes separated.  So I have the Pace Glove pair a try.  I had a gift card so I had nothing to lose.

Well I wore them hiking for the first time recently.  I should have thought about the fact that there was still snow on the ground, but that's besides the point.  They were very comfortable.  Yes, I felt the ground under my feet.  However, it made me more aware of where I was placing them, how I was stepping and how both of those decisions made my legs feel.

I love how light weight they are and to be honest, they have been worn to the mall, to the store, etc.  They have become more of my "go to shoe" instead of just a hiking shoe.

So if you are a little cautious about "going barefoot" these are a good set of training wheels for you.  Oh, and they're cute :)

Mother's Day Race Recap

On Mother's Day I ran a local 5k race.  I signed up for it ages ago before I really thought the whole weekend through.  You see, my graduation party was on Saturday so I was up late Friday night eating takeout food, getting ready for the party.  On Saturday I was up early, went to bed late and had lots of excitement in the middle.  (Oh and lots of not so good for you things to eat and drink.)

I woke up on Sunday morning not feeling so hot.  I laid in bed for a while thinking I might skip the race.  My husband finally convinced me I need to go. If not, I'd kick myself later.  So off we went.

I arrived at the event 12 minutes before the start of the race.  Not my favorite feeling as I hate being rushed, but I made it to the start line in plenty of time.

I started strong and felt great.  Because of the graduation party I'd taken lots of time off from running that week and I was ready.  However, my stomach was not.  I race the fastest I've ever run, however, needed to pull over a few times to allow myself to heave a little.

I finished, and I felt glad I went.  Despite my disappointing time, I know that now I'm capable of a much faster time than I was running before.  I can do much better than my current PR and next time I will.

Next time I will have the REST and the HEALTHY EATING paired with each other so that I can perform at my best.

I'm not really that upset though because I had a wonderful time at my graduation party.  By the end of the day I felt truly blessed to have all those wonderful people in my life that were willing to make the trip to celebrate with me. I have a wonderful support system and I'm so thankful for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy 16th Birthday to my little cousin!  

Madison, you are my confidant, my partner in crime and my shining star.  Today, and always, I love you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Run Phones Review

Well the first thing I have to tell you about Run Phones is that since I tried them out, my husband has stolen them and I haven't seen them since.

I tried Run Phones out on a short run I took the other day.  It was brisk out so I was happy to have something cover my ears.  I thought I was going to feel like I was wearing a winter headband, however it felt like I was wearing a headband for my hair instead.

It was quite comfortable to wear and I really didn't even notice having the Run Phones on.

I was wondering about the sound quality since I'm used to in ear headphones.  The sound quality was very good.  I did very much like being able to hear things around me for security reasons.

I was really surprised and pleasantly so, on how comfortable these headphones are to wear, even long term.  My husband is a photographer and journalist.  He records interviews with coaches on his phone and then must listen to them later when he is article writing.  He now uses these headphones to do so because they are so comfy.

I love the fast that the headphones can come out of the headband and the headband can then be washed. The headband itself also comes in different colors and for the winter, the headband is thermal.  (How great is that?!)  The summer headband is wicking and dries quickly.

Run Phones aren't nearly as expensive as many of the earbuds out there and are far more comfortable to wear.  I use headphones for my conference calls and at the end of a call, my ears hurt from the buds.  I'm going to use these from now on.  And even if you are running, they DON'T fall off and need adjusting like you think they might.

The Run Phones work with all sorts of devices like iPods, etc.

You can visit the Run Phones site by clicking here:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saying Goodbye

May always reminds me of my grandmother.  Her birthday was close to Mother's Day and we always celebrated both together.

I know that everyone misses their family members when they pass away.  I'm not any different.  However, every time I think about my grandmother I get the resounding feeling that she's still with me.

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother growing up.  I was an only child and I didn't have a large extended family.  My grandmother and I were together a lot.  She stayed with us for holidays.  I spent weekends at her house.  A lot of what made the holidays special was her coming to stay.

My grandmother understood me and supported me.  Even if I didn't tell her something, she knew.  We had a bond that I still don't completely understand.  She was always there for me.

I lost her close to my 21st birthday and while things have never been the same, I know that every crazy thing I do to grow my business is dedicated to her.  Every time I get out there and run, its dedicated to her.

And most of all, when people roll their eyes at the loud, crazy person I am, its dedicated to her.  Because she was always herself.  She was always honest (sometimes to a fault!), open and willing to give.  I hope that I can honor her memory every day with the person I strive to be.

I miss her every day.  However, it doesn't make me sad.  Thinking of her makes me want to be a better person, strive to do more and to make her proud.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Thank You to My Husband

You know everyone thinks they have the world's best husband, but I really believe I have him.

In the past 16 months my husband has helped me run my company and make it through grad school.  He put up with crazy hours, proof reading boring papers, no food in the fridge, and some bouts of crankiness.
(This picture was taken last year in Savannah)

Most husbands would tell their wives they were crazy if they said they wanted to go back to school after have been out for so long.  Most husbands would tell their wives to keep the status quo.  But not mine.  He told me to go for it and work towards my dream of earning my MBA.

So the past 18 months have been a little more chaotic than our "normal" lives.  We've given up date night, quiet meals together, and weekends in order to fit it all in.  We haven't seen friends that frequently.  We've cut corners and given up sleep.  And through all of it, Matt hasn't complained.  I couldn't have asked for more.

He's the guy who will pick me up a latte just the way I like it on his way home.  He attends every race I run.  He is there for me, no matter how hungry I am, to make every day better.  And for that I can never express my thanks enough.

This May, we are celebrating our anniversary.  Not our wedding anniversary but our dating anniversary. (The one you celebrate until you actually get married.)  We've been together 13 years.  In that time, so much has changed, but the love and friendship me share has only gotten better.  Thank you Matt, I couldn't have done it without you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bras for all Seasons

Okay this is going to sound weird but this winter I fell in love with the Zensah running bra.  And I still love it.  However, I have this weird thing about wearing racer backs in the spring and summer.  I can't stand it.  I feel like my back needs to be dry and I can't do that if my back is covered.

I'm also a little dorky about the straps, etc showing.....and so with my new spring and summer tanks out of the closet and ready to go, I needed to find a bra that was comfy, dries quickly, supportive, and didn't cover my back.  I did a lot of looking and I will tell you there are a lot of cool options out there.

I tried one of the encapsulated bras that hooks in the back and while I can see that it would be awesome if you had a large chest, it wasn't for me.

So I recently came across the new bra by New Balance.  I love it.  As a matter of fact, I wear it all the time.
Its light support, so if you have a large chest, its not going to work for you.  However, if you are an A or B cup, its perfect.

The material is lightweight.  It dries quickly.  The straps, although thin, don't dig in.  The bottom band doesn't pinch.  The bra does have two removable pads.  I'm not into padded sports bra.  The thought of them seems super silly to me, but to each his (or her!) own.

I'm also in love with the fact that this bra doesn't cause uni-boob.  I can wear it under tee shirts and not look like I'm wearing a sports bra.

Its inexpensive too!  I'm used to paying at least $30 or so for a sports bra and I got this one for $15.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is almost here and if you haven't its time to buy your mom a card and get it in the mail!  Okay, now that the card is taken care of that, let's talk.  Mother's Day is the best time of the year to really stop and think about what your mom means to you.

Chances are she has given up so much of herself for you.  She has made sacrifices, taken time and given up so much for you over the years.  Its easy to forget about the person she was before you came along and the person she is now, as an adult and as a woman.  Take the time this Mother's Day to take a step back, recognize her strengths and how her life has positively impacted yours, and how to say thank you.

Works may never be enough for our mothers, but we can certainly try.  Sometimes a simple "Thank you" is worth a million dollars.  Sometimes a hug is all you need.  However, if you have it in you, take the time to write a handwritten, heartfelt letter.  Chances are it may be the best present she's ever received.

And for those of you wondering, my mom is my confidant, my best friend and of course, still sometimes, the one who worries about me.  However, as I've gotten older she's the one I want to go shopping with and the one I want to chat with.

So for all of you out there, Happy Mother's Day.  Take the time today and always to tell those who are important to you, just how much they mean to you.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

My new favorite bar

Okay so I was at Target the other day and they had Luna bars on sale.  Despite my attempts to buy them in bulk, by the case, before I'm out of them, I always seem to need Luna bars.  I guess I eat them more than I think because my jar on the kitchen counter with them seems to always be running low.

So I was buying some today and I noticed the new flavor, Chocolate Dipped Coconut.  Let's just say it was  like a dessert.  A dessert with nine grams of protein.  They taste like Samoas (the Girl Scout Cookie).  So, if you're looking for something new to throw in your purse or eat after a workout, check these out.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Low Fat Thai

Okay I'm always on the prowl for new yummy things to make, especially ones that are healthy.  And some of them turn out, well, like they taste healthy.

But I came across one for healthy peanut pasta....I made some adjustments and I'm in love.  Its my new favorite thing to eat for lunch or dinner.

The portion below is for one person.  If you want to make enough for two or more, you need to double it.
1-2 ounces whole wheat pasta  (I like using spaghetti)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Cook the pasta separately.  In a wok, cook the peanut butter, brown sugar, water and lime juice.  Add some shelled edamame, and cook for another minute.

Strain the pasta and add it to the sauce.

If you want to have even more protein, add some grilled chicken.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Pushing My Limits

The past few weeks of my life have been about pushing my limits.  I am about ten days away from my LAST final exam for grad school and, as I had a feeling it would, life has come unhinged at the seams just in time to coincide with this event.

The end of winter was a fairly calm time in my business and I wasn't working one on one with a lot of clients.  However, now that spring has spring we are gearing up and getting going on lots of projects.

My husband, who is a photographer on the side, has started the spring sports season and has a game to take photos of just about every day.

And of course, I'm in the midst of trying to work with Roxy girl to get her familiar and comfortable with people before the late spring and summer crowds hit the parks.

And there is my I posted earlier, I've been trying to "gear up" and make some bigger progress.

So how does all of this work together?  Very carefully.

I have tried working my day a few different ways.  Some of my experiments ended with horrible results.  There were the few days that I tried to run later in the day to get emails answered first.  I was MISERABLE.  (I didn't realize how cranky I was until much later in the day.)

I have tried to skip sleep.  That's didn't work so well either.  Again, it ended with horrible, cranky results.  (Feel bad for my husband yet?)

Finally, I have let eating go from time to time, eaten fast food or resorted to sweet treats to motivate me.  All ending in the worst results of any situation.

So what have I learned from all of this?  I'e learned that in order to accomplish more and achieve more, I don't need to take short cuts, I need to take BETTER care of myself during those stressful times.
So I carefully plan out my morning runs.  (Even more than I used to.)
I make sure my iPod and GPS watch are charged as soon as I come home from my run each day.  I fill water bottles the night before, check the weather and take out my clothes.  While this doesn't guarantee that I will make it out the door, it certainly increases my chances.

I find that putting on my running shoes and sitting back down at the computer just feels silly so I'm more likely to head to the garage after stopping by the shoe rack.

I am carefully planning snacks, meals etc.  I'm pretty sure I've eaten a case of Luna bars in the past few weeks.  I always have water bottles and snacks on hand too.  I look like a crazy person, but at least I don't feel that way.

Of course, I'm keeping lots of detailed lists so that I can keep all of my to do items straight (personal, professional and for school).  I'm also trying to ask for help when I need it and saying no to others.  I usually try to fit as much as possible into each and every day.  Now I'm telling friends I will see them after my final exam, and telling clients I'm not booking on the weekends, etc.

So while this has been a very stressful time for me, its also been a time of learning.  I am better at setting boundaries, realistic expectations and better at putting myself first.  For those lessons, I'm thankful.