Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Little Things in Life, Part II

Singular moments capture my amazement, wonder, and awe at life. I'm grateful for each trip, each connection, each adventure, each gasp of laughter.
I promise to soon get off this theme of gratitude. But hey...'tis the season and all.

An amazing sky

Morning at camp, sun streaming through the trees

This picture captures everything, especially since I had no idea it was being taken


My hobby

A long trip - tight quarters and comfortable silences

Always proud of this photo, taken in a place far far away

Lucky to call this home

Full minutes of uncontrollable laughter. Poor Skittles

You could hear the woosh of their wings. And it was a beautiful day

My next painting

Best friend

A place in Brazil that filled me with good, good feelings

I love to share in the ridiculousness of life. Nobody could look cool in that thing

My present painting. If only there were more hours in the day

A well-captured image of San Diego


The drama of a carousel at night. Maybe a painting one day?

The intreague of a path, high up in the mountains

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Little Things in Life

This year has been a tumultuous one, for sure. Moments of strength paired with moments of weakness, laughter, tears, frustrations, exhilarations – all that nitty gritty stuff that life is made out of, the stuff that exposes the best and the worst of each of us in a raw, visceral sort of way. I try not to regret my past decisions; after all, regrets are only mistakes we don’t learn from, and I like to think that I became a better person for each misstep I took along the way. But now, in the home-stretch of my most recent challenge, with the light in clear view at the end of the tunnel, I am grateful—perhaps more than ever before—for the good things in my life.

Take this weekend for example. Beer and merriment; time spent with dear friends; sleeping late; good, healthy, hearty food; an early Sunday morning football game; running errands; and long moments with a man that I adore. All good things. All things that I try very hard not to take for granted. In those little moments in time filled with giggles and joking and silliness and dreams, life can be an infinite venue of joy, if only in short, brilliant bursts.

Someone once said that “happiness is not grand.” I disagree. Happiness is only *not* grand if you let those countless moments slip by you unnoticed and unappreciated. I’ve known a few people who were so focused on the future they let the present rush by with hardly a slide long glance. Heck, I used to BE one of those people; full of “what ifs” and “if onlys” and “somedays.” But life is teaching me—a hard lesson to be sure—that happiness is meant to be found in the today, and not to be anticipated in the tomorrow. Sure, someday you might be rewarded with that raise or have gotten out of debt or found that mate or achieved that goal. And that’s all great. But if you can’t find the happiness in a warm cup of coffee, a stimulating conversation, or an exceptional sunset, then you’re not really living. Just…waiting.

I hope everyone will take a moment this Thanksgiving and think about the things in life that make them happy. For all it's hokeyness and commercialism, taking a moment to be thankful is an exercise in gratitude. Appreciation for the little things is never mundane. In my mind, it’s as grand as it gets.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Confessions of a Work-a-holic

Wow. My apologies for not posting in so, so, SO long. Work has been keeping me busy - more specifically that stack of printed-out powerpoint slides I like to call "exhibit A". And by busy, I mean, working-night-and-weekends BUSY! I used to chuckle at so-called work-a-holics. I always wondered why they would choose to spend the best years of their lives holed up in a crummy office filling out TPS reports and the like. But this week I realized that many work-a-holics don't CHOOSE to work that hard. They just don't have much say in the matter.

I did not CHOOSE to work though my comp day, weekend, and stay up until midnight (seriously, people, MIDNIGHT) on Tuesday to finish a project. I just didn't have a choice. The deadline had been delayed as long as possible, and it was up to me to pull off the impossible. And I did, but at the cost of my sanity and a few tearful phonecalls to my mom and Brian as stress finally got the best of my emotional fortitude. But on the bright side, I did get to meet those wonderful cleaning people who empty my garbage can and vacuum the crumbs off my floor and may or may not have superglued my paperclip jar to my desk (a long story for another day).

So, although things are still very, VERY busy, I'm hoping to take a breather here and there to blog a bit.
Stay tuned...I'm sure hilarity will ensue (in my mind, at least).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cabin Fever and Other Monday Morning Musings

This is the view from my office window.
While I’m stuck here at work, writing a summary of an advisory board meeting (yes, it’s as dull as it sounds), this diabolical tree is reminding me of the beautiful fall day that I am missing out on. By the time I leave this building, it will be dark and all outdoor activities will be discouraged. Mind you, I still intend on running 3-5 miles outside tonight because, quite frankly, running on the treadmill at the gym is about as boring as writing an advisory board meeting summary. Still, the sparkle and flash of a fall afternoon will be replaced by darkness, dead leaves blowing eerily across the empty street, and the uncanny feeling that someone is waiting in the bushes to accost me—hey, running at night has its risks.

I try very hard to be grateful of the blessings in my life (stop rolling your eyes, I do!). I try to appreciate the fact that I have a roof over my head, loving family and friends, a steady job, and enough in my bank account to pay for all of my Needs and a few of my Wants. Honestly, we’ve all been in the job market, and not having a job when you need one is SIGNIFICANLY worse than having one. And given my recent marriage debacle, I am all the more grateful that I’m in a warm, loving, supportive relationship with a man who I truly admire and respect.

But on days like today, I can’t help wonder what could have been if I had steered my career in a more active, outdoor direction. Does everybody struggle with the nine-to-five blues? Do most people feel that their best hours are spent in a job that does not quite match their personality? Am I the only one who feels like I don a mask and costume when I come to work, successfully playing the role of a responsible corporate adult when inside I just want to strip naked and run across a meadow (sorry, TMI…). Sometimes I look at my coworkers and wonder if they’re wearing a disguise as well, or if they define themselves by their office job. For some people, it’s obvious that they’re playing a role. For others, well, I’m not so sure. I look at some individuals and the office is reflected right back at me. And that makes me sad. Nobody in this environment should *be* their job. Teachers and firemen and artists are different. But in cubicle-land? Nobody should be defined by their grey-fabric walls and humming laptops. At least in my opinion.

But I’ll get off my soapbox now. In other news, the 5k was a wash. Brian’s roommate’s barking dogs kept me up until 3am, and in my book, 4 hours is NOT enough sleep to run a 5k on. So I’ll be looking for another 5k in the area – hopefully I’ll run one before Thanksgiving, so I can stay motivated and have the self control to avoid eating 20 lbs of turkey in one sitting.

And since my blog has been a little low on the LOLs recently, here’s a joke that was emailed to me by my sister:

Q: What do you get when you cross a donkey with an onion?
A: A piece of ass that brings tears to your eyes!


I know….truly awful. That’s 5 seconds of your life that you’ll never get back. My apologies.

Now, back to writing this meeting summary - or watching paint dry. I'm having a hard time deciding which more exciting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unleashing the Inner Patriot

If you’ll allow me to wax political, I’d like to take a moment to stop and appreciate this moment in the history. Join me!

Breath in…..breath out.
Smell that? It’s democracy.

Last night we all were witness to one of the most remarkable elections in the history of our country. In a day and age where our country has never been so divided, we were able to come together with one voice and sound a resounding demand for change. No more are we tolerating the remarkable greed and stupidity that has come to define our current presidency. No more are we willing to stand aside while our leaders butcher our foreign policy and wage unending wars and support capitalism in its most destructive form. Last night, we as a nation decided that we could do better than this. And so we voted.

It was a beautiful thing. I have been humbled by my peers—by their passion and motivation and well-intentioned dialogues. I have dug deep and located that patriotism that has sat, festering and bitter, in a pit of disgust, and brought it out in the open. A strange sense of hope and unity that has long been absent has been flooding my system. I am slightly less the naysayer and slightly more the optimist.

Of course, I struggle with my own internal dialogue of negativity. Catch phrases like, “man behind the machine” and “illusion of choice” bounce around in my head, casting a shadow on my little ray of hope. I know that it takes more than one man—even the president—to bring those giant gears of monopolized, consumer-driven capitalism to a grinding halt. I know that every politician has skeletons in their closet, and the intelligent, soulful words of President-Elect Obama could just as easily be the words of some speechwriter, pandering to an audience that is hungry for change.

But I have hope because, well, what else can you do? I played my part of the well-informed citizen; I weighed my options and examined policies and made a contentious choice to decide with my head instead of my heart (hey, just because you’d like to have a beer with a guy…*ahem BUSH*… doesn’t mean he’d make a good president). And then I went out on election day with millions of other hopeful Americans and pushed that button, knowing that it was my duty and my right as a citizen. And now? Well, I have hope. And that’s more than I’ve had in a long, long time.

So let’s all raise a glass to the future of our country. Cheers to the first step in a new direction, and may many more steps follow behind!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hold on to your socks (or should I say running sneakers)...

The unbelieveable has just happened. Picture something akin to this:

or this:or this:

Okay, here it comes:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now a runner. Yes, you heard me right. A runner.

Now, I'm pretty sure this is the one of the signs of the comming of the apocalypse, but wouldn't you know it, God, or Allah or Buddah or whoever decided that they would bestow their blessings on me in the form of increased lung capacity and a pair of legs that can go...well...a hell of a lot farther than I ever thought possible.
This weekend I broke not one, but TWO of my personal running records. On Friday I went to the gym and ran 3 miles in 32 minutes (on a 2% incline, no less). I was thrilled. Never ran 3 miles continuously in my life. Celebrations ensued. Then on Saturday, I ran about 4 miles completely non-stop, in roughly 45 minutes. Ho-Lee-CRAP! I know that's no world record, but in my book, I just did something akin to surviving a fall off the Empire State Building; completely F-ing impossible!

I think things changed when I saw the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC last weekend. I'd never seen an actual marathon in person before, and I was so moved by the throngs lining the streets, cheering on complete strangers who were undertaking unbelieveable hardships for a greater cause. I know, It's sappy, but it was really amazing. Go watch a marathon and you'll know what I'm talking about. Here are some pics of it - it was very cool:

Anyway, in honor of my being able to run more than 50 feet without dying, I am planning on running the 27th Annual Haddonfield 5k Road Race this weekend. My first 5k ever. Freaking cool!
And this is only the start. I'll be running several 5k's this winter, with the goal of running a 10k this spring. If I can do that...well...the next stop is a marathon, baby. With a little luck (and an oxygen tank), next October I'll be participating in that very marathon that inspired me to actually give a rat's ass and believe in myself in the first place. If anyone out there wants to run with me, the more the merrier! Come train with me (and Brian - he's game too) and we'll be awesome marathon runners!

Redefining yourself is always cool, and I, for one, am really looking forward to this challenge. See you at the 26th mile marker!

P.S. Mad props to Brian - I wouldn't have even TRIED to run so far without his support and encouragement. He's awesome:-)