Let the Adventures Begin

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My 2018 Gift of Gifts

In 2018 I turned 50.  I experienced loss and much love and made a solid commitment to say ‘yes’.  Now the charge is to follow through and become who I always have been and unapologetically do all the things to set the table for the grand feast which is: The Second Half, Part Deux, post intermission showing-stopping, color popping, hip-hopping ‘talk-to-me-baby’, don’t stopping moments rich with NOW. And guess who made me do it?

Not a prolific writer (and I love many).  Not an endurance athlete extraordinaire (I know many). Not a half-famous, passion-stirring goose-bump making guest on an addictive podcast about yoga, meditation, the resilience of the human spirit or the nectar of human story. (I have a constant diet of tons).

It was her:

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My youngest.  We share a birthday and dreams of travel.  She gave me the above journal along with a note I will cherish for all of my remaining days. In it she details her own desire to travel, adventure, be kind, compassionate and accepting WITH ME. I just love her heart.  It is relevant to note the journal is a re-gift (Jane does not have a job and therefore $ to purchase gifts).  She received it from her mother’s best friend a couple of years ago with a note encouraging her to travel and live life and…. and in a circle of trust and with great serendipity I am the receiver of that precious gift through my baby girl.

And may we all have such a gift.  Permission.  The gift of being okay right where we are so we can experience all that ‘is’.  Near and far.  For me it is through travel and writing and endurance sports and yoga and mediation and learning and spreading love and acceptance through my work.

Jane and I got an early start on finding honey close to home.  Not far in miles, but worlds away, we spent a night at a ski resort.  Together.  We visualized Virginia as Versailles.

 

We didn’t even ski.  But it was perfect.  Fresh air and fresh croissants with brie (the wine is mine) does the mind good in a moment of buttery surrender to Now.  We watched movies, had dinner with friends and bought handmade leather purses from a street artisan. Bliss.  And no $ on air fare. That is to come.  All in sweet time.

Welcome to now.  Welcome to 2019.

Thank you joy and sorrow.

Thank you Jane and Thank you Journal.

Guide me.  Heal me.

Take me away and drop me back right here, right Now.

Now, let’s have some fun!  Salut!

 

Scarred and Stoked

Disclaimer: Selfie game is strong. So sorry.

I don’t know if is this morning’s prana pumping party (aka kundalini yoga class) hosted by the marvelous Holly Henty or that fact that I have just had the 3rd of 3 surgeries on my face to remove skin cancers but I feel better than I have in 3 weeks.

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My new face

In less than 3 weeks I have:

  • Received 113 stitches in my face.
  • Taught a yoga class and given a talk looking like this (although a shower was involved):
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Post-op Surgery #1

  • Learned to drink water and wine like this:
  •  Showed up at Thanksgiving looking like this:

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I also got to experience this:

I was not and am not in a health crisis but the work was necessary if I want it to say so.  I feel so refreshed, so free so grateful to have access to an amazing surgeon, health insurance, and the means to pay for the balance on this bad boy. (I estimate my out of pocket to be around $25 per stitch.) Merry Christmas to me, I suppose.

Yes, indeed.

Besides the people, prana, and stitch-free state of affairs, I am stoked from a run-in with an angel this morning. As I was braiding my daughters hair I reflected that my mother (almost 20 years an angel) would have loved watching her daughter weave shapes into her granddaughter’s mane. I decided to ask if she was with us. I felt her presence but wanted a REAL SIGN. (hello, where’s the faith??) I asked her to show me by having my daughter say something in the next 10 seconds, could be anything.

10, 9, 8, (lord, please let it happen)

7, 6, 5 (I just know Jane will speak)

4, 3, 2, 1 (nothing. RATS)

All good though. I don’t like to be tested either.

About an hour later, as we began our yoga class, Holly reminded us that we are infinitely connected to our source of life. Before and after to umbilical cord is cut. The connection never dies. I connected it to my mother-yearning-moment of earlier and just KNOW I was meant to hear it.

It was so right in my face.

Here’s hers:

mom

I dig irony.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sixteen

Sweet 2016.

This year my daughter turns 16. Her behavior is not always sweet (what teenager’s is??) but her heart and soul always is so. She is intense and beautiful and deeply feeling. A thinker. She is my teacher of patience and compassion.

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She reminds me to always do and be better.  Just when I think – I’ve got this parenting thing down with her she  mixes things up. First blush, this frustrates me – Can we just have a smooth sail for a moment? 

The wind and life always changes. Thank God. I love fresh air. Thank her.

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According to numerology:

  • 16 – is the number of perfect completeness.
  • In the Tarot, number 16 is the Tower card which symbolizes great changes, moving on to something or someplace completely new.

According to the Bible:

  • The number sixteen is symbolic of love and loving.
  • This duality of true love is represented by 8 + 8 = 16.

My girl will be 16 on March 16, 2016.  Triple Whammy.

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Currently she is training for her SECOND half marathon to honor her beloved cousin who left us on her 14th birthday March 16, 2014. She was just 16.

True love.

What does 16 mean to you?

 

 

 

 

Yes, bartender I’ll have another!

Have you heard of Kombucha?  The Chinese call it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.  (Source:  The Food Renegade)

I tried my first bottle this past week.

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The ingredient list includes ‘trace amounts of alcohol’.  No wonder I like it.

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Me (2nd from left) and my blogging buddies (which includes Beth from Shut Up and Run!, 2nd from right) are not afraid to leave a writing conference for libation nutrition.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a drink made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  My bottle said it had trace amounts of alcohol in it.  SCORE!

I drank the brand on the right in the blueberry flavor.  My children think it tastes like PAAS Easter Egg dye. (Not that they’ve ever ingested it.)

 

The beautifully gilded shells that encase the eggs are not edible once decorated with this potion.  The imagined taste of PAAS matched the real taste of Kombucha for Kathleen, thus explaining her forced smile as I forced her t hold the bottle of Kombucha.

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Kathleen did not love it.

(She is not old enough to drink.  No wonder.)

Here are the health benefits of the “Immortal Health Elixir” – Komubcha.  They include (in less detail than the source):

 #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention.

#2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamine, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis

#3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

#4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy level.

This and alcohol.  That’s good  great stuff.

I was compelled take a shot of Kombucha give Kombucha a shot, when an experienced vegetarian friend gave me and  my newly meatless American Sportsman husband (Digest that!!) advice on ways to sustain our new lifestyle.  We are No Meat Athletes (or we think we are!).  Collectively we have lost 16 pounds in one week.  For now I am happy to have my husband along for a ride I wanted to take for sometime.  Who knows where of if this vegan train stops?

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I don’t really care.  All we have is Now.  And that’s enough. Plus, I rode her for the first time today:

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Happiness.  And forever miss of my Cameron.  Fight.  Finish.  Faith.  That’s all I got.

Bartender, can I have another?

I am dilated to about 4

Like birth stories, I never tire of race stories.  Ever.  I love your gory details of sweat and push and finish.  I want all of it – how was the labor, the big day prep and your spouse?  How did your body and its functions feel?  Take your time, tell me all of it – I have a glass of wine and you have my full attention.  Don’t leave out a thing.

Be careful, if you are a runner or a parent and you come over for happy hour the conversation just may gravitate here.

Not that I am assuming you are as riveted by such a thing or that you have a particular fancy for my stories but if you are at all connected to the ultimate push you might appreciate that I am dilated to about a 4.  I am giving birth to my third marathon in 3 days.  It’s a bit of a long labor but much more fun than the one did for him.

Nickatbat_thumb.jpgAt 8 pounds 13 ounces it felt like he came out this size.  So worth it.  So love my boy.  I learned the hard way that drugs, labor, and me don’t mix so I switch things up and had a mid wife deliver my next 2.

My first marathon was a bust.  Horrible feeling, injured, sick (recovering from pneumonia) but I did it.  It took a very, very, long time but in some ways it was my best one.  It didn’t let anything stop me.  And I gave birth to this.

My fist marathon.  Felt like I had popped out a 26.2 pound baby.  But I had her waiting for me after she rocked her 4th half marathon.  My blessing of a friend since we were 4.  I love her so much.  I wish Dawn could come to Miami.  My family drove 2 hours for the day.  I am so blessed I want to cry.

And cry I did when I  had her:

KathleenpitchingBaby #2.  She came out fierce.  I love her so much.  Worth the labor – not nearly as tough as #1.  I was relaxed and one under my belt.  Just like marathon #2.  Still tough but easier, more fun and I had him to run me in.

That’s not the Incredible Hulk in green.   That’s my incredible husband.  He risked shame and entered the marathon as a bandit at Mile 19 and ran me home.  Sounds like baby delivery.

And the third one was so sweet.  The baby, the delivery without drugs and the afterglow.  Sweet baby, Jane.

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I am hoping marathon #3 is as smooth.  Dilating to 4 has been a little rough as I have a very sudden onset of the dreaded PF (plantar fasciitis)  but I have the assistance of a most incredible running midwife PT.  An ultra runner herself, she has magic hands and words to boot.  When I thought I was going to give up and require drugs during baby delivery #3, my midwife said:

I know 3 things, Clair.  This is going to hurt.  You can do this.  And you will have a baby in 15 minutes.

Amy said almost the same thing about marathon #3.  She said we can deal with the pain.  The reaction to it is just a mind game.  You will bag another marathon in 3 days and 26.2 miles.  I love her.  And I believe her.

3 babies.  After Sunday, 3 marathons.  No more babies.  God willing many more races.  Thinking about a big, big, boy.  50K.

See you on the other side.  Florida, here I come.

Do you think I’m pretty?

Oh for god's sake.  Can MMY be more self-involved?  I take selfies at work instead of writing research proposals.  (shhhh, I need my job.)

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My new mantra:  Strong is the new skinny.

Not a petite person but related to several and friend to many, I have always had a negative body image.  The overly blessed bosom that I skinnied down with the help of a plastic surgeon 13 years ago had always been by  nemesis.  With that weight gone, you’d think I was slim-pickins.  Not so much.  I still want to be different that I am.  I forever compare myself to the likes of others who are freak-of-nature gorgeous and with not-possible bodies.  Aim high, right?  Wrong when it comes to body image.  Aim where you are then move if it makes you healthier.

On Sunday morning  when my husband grabbed my arm (don’t call the police – it was in play) he said:

Dang, my wife is getting so strong and muscley.  She feels like a 13-year-old boy.

1.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

2.  It felt dang good.  I do feel strong.

Whether it’s the marathon training or the yoga or my age (45) – I am entering my own skin.  I am still not skinny.  I still rock the 3 (BIG) baby belly.  But that’s okay with me.  I am doing my best, getting stronger and feeling good.  One day I may just feel great about it.  For now, ‘good’ is as good as it gets.

ING Miami Marathon, here I come.

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I want my daughters to love themselves as they are.  The only goal is optimum health and maximizing potential.  No size. No specific weight.

KathJane5k(I love Jane’s expression.  This was taken after a Toys for Tots 5k.)

My middle daughter is 13 and for better or better or worse she is built like her mother only much better.  I want her to embrace her build and her strength as a gift.  She is Katniss to me – mighty, fierce, all girl and all things tenacious.

And cool as crap.  Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) told Barbara Walters:

‘I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.’

Katniss also said:

I think she’s gorgeous and I love her.

 This one too:

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Even if she does make fun of my selfies.  Here’s her imitation of her mother:

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If strong is the new skinny, this woman is a rail.

Sharon  Dangles - NPC Continental Championships 2011 - #1

Do you think she’s pretty?

Saturday’s run:

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Up next:  18, baby!

Not my size (there I go again, still working on it)!  My mileage.

Girls Rule!

bookWhat Would Happen If Women Ruled the World?

Everything could change, according to former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers. Politics would be more collegial. Businesses would be more productive. And communities would be healthier. Empowering women would make the world a better place—not because women are the same as men, but precisely because they are different.

I might guess that yoga would be part of regular PE curriculum in US public schools.  For now:

Total Number of Americans who practice Yoga 15 million
Percent female 72.2%
Percent male 27.8%

Source:   NAMASTA, YIAS, LiveStrong, Yoga Journal

We  have a long way to go but women are taking on more and more powerful positions in politics, business, society, and yes at home.  And that’s where the real change starts.  Further change at home starts with a change of heart – believing in yourself.

There are a million good approaches to elevating self-esteem.  First and foremost: exercise.   Second and foremost: read.  Information is power.  Third and foremost:  roll out your mat!  Pick all 3.

In my house – girls do rule!  My husband and son and male dog are 2,000 miles away for 8 days on a testosterone-filled adventure to hunt birds.  We miss our boys, but daggone-it! parts of this are really fun.  On Friday, my youngest daughter and I had a girls movie night with dinner in front of the TV.  Ketchup sufficed as the vegetable.  It was a girlfest.

Love  my Jane.janeclairkiss Maggie – the real queen – slept with us:

MaggsKathleen and I are staying fierce.

KatclairfierceAnd there are no cleats in the family room or smelly socks on the bathroom floor.  Heaven.  Things are where they should be and there is minimal baseball being watched – although it is the World Series and we are fans.  It’s only day 2.

I know our lives are richer, fuller, better when we co mingle with the ‘other gender’.  But right now.  I am partial to girls.  We rule our world.

When my son was born – my Dad came to visit us in the hospital and stated:

He’s beautiful, Clair – a precious child, but you know I’m partial to girls.

He had 4 girls (and 2 boys).  I was sort of taken aback when he said that but now that I have these 2 girls, for the next 6 days, I get it!!  Maybe we can start a little change in our little corner of the world.

Dee Dee Myers is on to something.

 

 

Medic! Tales from Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach

Following is a short race report from the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia on September 1, 2013 and a review of the hot vinyasa class I took 24 hours later thinking it would help me.

Spoiler:  I did not win.  31-year-old Kenyan Henry Rutto did.

Of the now 9 half marathons I have completed this one sported the most drama.  Runners were falling out all around me.  Not just the slow old people like me – young, amazing-looking specimen of fitness.  No matter how prepared and experienced a runner is, race day and results carry a veil of mystery.  Some things just can’t be explained.

Like the lady who dropped down 50 yards from the finish right in front of me.  A group of medics rushed to her instantaneously shouting:

Get a Pulse!!

Or the convulsing runner my husband saw being aided by a posse of friends and then placed on a stretcher.

Or the gentleman who died just after he got started – one or two miles in.  Why.  Why.  Why???  So very sad.

And yet, we keep coming back.  This event was a celebration of life and tenacity and appreciation for health.  Ask VB Team Hoyt how big it was to race this one.

Or maybe the guy whose tee-shirt read:

Survived: Cancer 2010

Survived: Open Heart Surgery 2011

This is nothing.

I saw this hero right before I was encountered by a line of garden hoses spraying us as we passed by mile 11.  Even winning Henry (above) said:

“I did not feel good until mile 11,” Rutto said after the race. “But when I went past [Kosgei] I knew I would win. It was hot and I was not feeling very good.”

My stranger-buddy next to me said as we were showered with yard water:

“I love people.”

Me too.  I think those guys over in Syria need to run this race.

My family and I had a blast.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings after we checked into the hotel:

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My husband I drank a beer in the car afterwards.ClairMikeAfterRNRHalf

Best beer ever.

We celebrated at a waterside eatery after a day on the beach.

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We made it home happy and healthy.  Thank you God.  Bless all the runners.

The next day I thought a hot vinyasa class would do me right.  The hot part was a good idea, perhaps not the vinyasa.  The long holds and strenuous flow did not serve me.  My legs were not working but my shoulders, sweet Jesus, opened like a book.  Baby got back.

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I’m getting old.  My shoulders have wrinkles.  Elephants are cute, non??

Later, my girls and I tried out a new State Park and gave our mountain bikes a whirl.

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Notice I have not mentioned my pace.  I have a lot of work to do.  I have never really done speed work to prepare for a race.  It is time.  I am within a minute of my average half marathon time but I have a PR to get in Miami in February.  On a full.  Full heart, Full Life.  Full marathon.  All the same.  Such is the mystery of life and running.

So I swam today I taught my precious yoga and thanked the good Lord over and over for my breath.  My very life.  I love people.

 

The Justin Timberlake of Race Week

Can I admit something?

I am in love with Justin Timberlake.  I saw a re-broadcast of the VMA’s on Monday night and YELLED at my children for talking during JT’s performance.  Much ado about has been made over MC – from which I shielded my offspring, fYI.  But I think she was intoxicated and I am over her.  But I can relate. I am drunk with love of all things Justin.  And it’s making my race week training/tapering the absolute bomb.

Source:  www.salon.com

He’s waving at me.

Yes, I downloaded ‘Take Back the Night‘ and ‘Holy Grail‘ right then and there.  I have been groovin’ my taper runs with dreams of winning this dang race.  Here’s what else I did besides the usual half marathon taper runs, while day-dreamed about his

pe(rformance)!

  • I SWAM!  I haven’t completed a lap in a year.  On Tuesday I managed 30!  (lame but better than nothing!)
  • I got on the stationary bike at the gym – just to kill time while my son was practicing.  No gabbing for Clair – 12 thigh pumping miles in 35 minutes.  (lame but better than nothing!)
  • Taught 4 vinyasa classes.
  • Made some important phone calls I’ve been putting off to advance my journey. (later post)

This post is not about me.  It’s about my new Gu.

No need for this:

When you have this:

Serious talent, people.  He is not just yummy he is the real deal.   If you can sing, dance, ooze charm, manage humility and deflect your accomplishments – you are my iwannameetyou person.  Totally married.  Totally happy.  Totally in awe of the talent bestowed by God into one human being.  Thank you.

My youngest loves him too.  She joined the swim team this week.

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I cut my hair.  I have bangs now.

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Maybe I will PR on Sunday.  No matter.

Holy Grail, It’s been really fun.

What are you doing this weekend?

Poor pigs.

Why is it that whenever anyone is being self-deprecating about being selfish, they bring a pig into?  Here’s what I heard this week:

I am a selfish pig, I am glad my kids are going back to school. (Colorado Athlete Extraordinaire)

I was out  mountain biking and was late picking up my daughter from softball.  I am a selfish pig.  (Virginia Nut Bag)

I did not go meet my son’s teacher because I had an appointment for my highlights.  What a selfish pig, I am.  (Richmond Beauty)  

 

Adopt A Pig

Poor pig.
If you look closely however, the association with selfishness might make a pig proud.
I saw this great article in the paper this morning:  Mother’s self-care helps the whole family.  After receiving sage advice from her mother, Mia Redrick decided to commit to dating herself, spending 90 minutes to 2 hours every week to stay connected to who she is – some activities include having coffee or tea alone at a local coffee shop or book store or going for a walk.  After yourself, the article goes on to say – date your spouse and our children on a regular basis.  In that order.
When a Mom has time to herself… she returns from that time alone with a level of appreciation for her children and her spouse.  It improves her relationships.
Nice pig.
I don’t know about you, but I do try to arrange my time to train for races or practice yoga or ride my bike around my family’s schedule.  But sometimes it isn’t possible.   It’s okay to leave the nest and go to a yoga class.  It’s okay to go for a run when everyone is home and awake.  One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to go for a long run somewhere without the kids.  We reconnect and serve ourselves at the same time.  When we return home, lo and behold! – the house is still standing and we are nicer.  And the children are not plotting emancipation.  They are proud.  It’s good for your children to see you living with passion and engaging in healthy pursuits.
And there is still time for this:
ClairNick10k_thumb.jpgAnd this:
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And this:
 MikeandNick
And this:
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This too:
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For me a lot of it is because of this:
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(I LOVE my yoga)
And this:
Go ahead.  Be a pig.