Thankful for…

Here’s a list.  There are sooo many things.

I’m thankful for, in random order:

1)  Sharing a cool house with incredibly cool roommates.  I have a yard, a grill, washer/dryer, and roommates that make me laugh every night.

2)  Blasting country music radio (105.1 and 95.1) on my way to work in the mornings.  I love that I will know ALL of the lyrics to ALL of the songs.  Predictable= yes?  But it wakes me up & puts me in a decent mood.

3)  Mom and Dad.  of course…not only did they give birth to ME, but they continue to encourage me, entertain me, and cheer me on in life.  We sat through Bluegrass Gospel together last Christmas in a room full of 80+ year olds and what looked like some ex-convicts, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.  I love finding out new ways in which I’m like both of them.

4)  The Brothers.  I’m the middle child, which sounds horrible, but I’m quite lucky.  I have the big brother to knock me around a little, protect me, & set the standard for sense of humor very high.  I have the younger brother to tag along with me on any adventure, laugh about anything with, and encourage in any way I can.  Best friends through the years, and that’s pretty amazing.

5)  My Mustang.  Yes, I got a little too excited seeing the new 2010 Mustangs that are out.  I have driven a Mustang for the past 10 years, and it completely suits me.  Although I’d like to have a bigger space to fit my bike, I can’t imagine giving it up.  I never get tired of driving it around.

6)  My days at work begin with kids smiling & saying big “Hi Kristy!!!” to me, flooding me with questions about what we are doing that day, and telling me all sorts of hilarious things.  I feel completely at home & grateful for the time with them.

7)  Thankful for my surroundings.  L.A. is beautiful to me.  Whether I’m running through amazing neighborhoods, biking along the coast, or hiking some random trails off the PCH–I get such a feeling of peace from all of it.

8)  7-11.  It’s a block away from me, and I have discovered my own iced coffee combo from all their various coffees.  Clif bars, yogurt parfaits, Diet 7-up…thank you for always being there for me.

9)  Dogs.  Moving in with roommates means I get to be an Aunt to a very cute dog named Effie.  We spend lots of nights just running back and forth down the hallway.  This erases any stress from the day in about 5 minutes flat.  She is also always hungry.  We have this in common.  I want one of my own someday, but for now, I’m a great Aunt.

10)  Sam and Sophie, the most perfect nephew/niece combo I’ve ever seen (besides maybe me and my brothers).  I can’t wait to see them for the holidays and DISNEYLAND in February!!!  Their smiles are the best.  I don’t really want any of my own, but I’m a great Aunt!

11)  work friends:  It’s great to have a sense of humor when working around kids (especially middle school kids).  I’m so glad I have a wonderful circle of teachers/ assistants that can keep it fun (or complain together when we need to).

12)  My best friend is back:  Chuck is my roomie again!  13 or so years of an amazing friendship.  He’s my best friend wherever he is, but it is great having him right next door (and like last night, knocking on the door with a cork screw telling me he poured me a glass of wine).

13)  Jeans.  I live in them.  I really don’t know what I wear if they didn’t exist.  I stopped buying really expensive ones.   These Levi’s are pretty comfy.

14)  My trainer.  It’s been almost 2 years now & I can’t imagine going more than a week without working out with him.  I totally lucked out here–a really smart, talented guy who has not only helped me build strength–he keeps me injury-free & works specifically on muscles needed for triathlons.  He asks about every race & pushes me in ways that I need it.  I sometimes wish I could go back in time and be a high school athlete with a really motivational coach—but I can’t, so this works.

15)  My G3 phone through T-mobile.  It’s mapping, searching, email, capabilities have helped me so many times in the past several months.  I am not in front of a computer most days, so it’s really great to be able to check my email on a more regular basis (ie: every 2 minutes).

16)  Triathlons.  I’ve participated in about 12 of them over the past two years, and I love them more and more as I get better at them.  I love everything about the sport:  the participants, the equipment, the transition from sport to sport, the training.  All of it provides such a rush and keeps me so entertained & engaged.  With the L.A. Tri Club being so huge out here–it’s easy to find training run/bikes/swims, so it really feels like a whole other community I’m welcomed into.  I’m especially thankful for my medals this year!!!

17)  Me Extended Family:  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandma Edna–so great to see most of them on Facebook cracking me up on a daily basis & hope to see as many of them as I can over the X-mas break.  I feel completely grounded in this world–and my extended family has helped to make this so.  They are very much an extended part of what my immediate family has been to me.  Love and thanks to them all!

18)  a big new theatre to teach in.  You don’t see spaces like this in big cities…not the cramped, 100 seat theatre that’s falling apart.  This space is huge and open & clean & full of possibilities.  I love that the kids get to operate the sound and lights for the shows.  They feel such a sense of responsibility in the space, and so do I.

19)  Farmville.  Yes, I made fun of most of my relatives for joining this.  When I was guilted into it, I thought it would be a momentary thing.  I’m hooked.  I never thought I’d find harvesting my online crops to be so soothing, but it’s a great way to spend an evening.

20)  My health.  It’s been on my mind a lot this year for some reason–some people have to struggle through so much illness/disease on a daily basis & would be so thankful just to be healthy.  I hate to see this struggle, but I’m being smarter about valuing my own health and taking care of myself as best I can (though I know that ultimately, some things are out of our control).  I even got a physical last week!  Hooray healthcare (now let’s make it a universal thing!).

21)  Michael Jackson, R.I.P.  Although I hate to see the guy go, it was great to see little kids dancing to his music–many of them hearing it for the first time.  He used to be a joke, and finally is respected for what he brought to the world.  I hope it will help us change the way we tend to rip superstars apart.  Anyways, I’m thankful for all his music–it’s still a constant in my life and on my ipod.

22)  Sunshine.  This is almost an everyday thing around here, and it never gets old.

23)  Running.  This is a 10 year gift that I found & had no idea at the time how much it would help me in life.  Running, whether in the morning waking me up, in the evening calming me down, in a race going as fast as I can, or a slow run with a great running buddy–whether I come home from a run feeling tired & cranky, or revived and ready to go–each run serves a purpose.  I’m terrible with being able to focus on one thing at a time–but both running and teaching help me to really be in the moment.  When I’m running outside, my mind is there but not.  I’m not making lists of things do to, having deep thoughts, or anything like that.  It’s mostly experiencing things with my senses & one step after the other.  Also, I usually end the runs at 7-11, so what’s not to like?!?!

24)  My L.A. buddies:  These are outside of work friends, so we don’t spend our time talking about our jobs.  We spend most of our time laughing, planning activities, watching movies, partying, and sometimes doing Mud Runs.  Hanging out with them I feel totally at ease.  It’s probably the vodka.

25)  My grandmother & my Papa Tom:  I lost both of these grandparents (on my Dad and my Mom’s side, respectively) in the past few years, and they are on my mind a lot.  My grandmother is with me in every decision I make.  I think of what she wrote once to me–something about being myself & never letting anyone hold me back from being all that I could.  Of course, right after that she wrote that a woman president would be “for the birds”!!!  I miss her, but she is a part of me.  This will be our first Christmas without Papa Tom, but I’m sure he will be in all of our thoughts.  Grandparents are such a special gift, and you can look around at our  family to see how much of an impact they’ve had on all of us.

26)  Fuji apples.  This is a given.  I just bought some great ones at the grocery store today…the perfect food.

27)  People close to me who enjoy laughing as much as I do.  Sometimes I’m around people that don’t laugh much, and suddenly my own loud obnoxious laugh becomes painfully awkward and inappropriate.  I prefer to spend my time with great “laughers”–laughing with me, at me, at anything…I think it’s one of the best things about life, the feeling of laughter.

28)  Curb Your Enthusiasm’s current season with the Seinfeld Reunion.  Jerry Seinfeld–I have a massive crush on him.  I hope to see him to stand up again.  Larry David is also hilarious, so it’s great to see them together–along with the cast of one of the greatest shows ever written.

29)  NBA basketball:  This year found the Houston Rockets fighting the L.A. Lakers with everything they had & making a pretty good run for it.  Yao Ming, fix your foot.  In the meantime, Rockets, I look forward to seeing you in the playoffs again this next year.  TNT–thanks for covering it with the most entertaining sportscasters I’ve seen in awhile.

30)  Ocean swimming.  I used to hate it.  Fear it.  But at some point, I got over it & now there’s a thrill–especially when the waves are extremely high & the current is crazy.  Being in it has become increasingly fun.  And only a few miles away from the house.  Sweet!

31)  Avocado.  I hated them when I was a kid, but now I’m a California girl.  I want them on everything I order.’

32)  The view I see as I walk to my car on the rooftop parking lot at work–especially at night, the downtown skyline & the sunset= beautiful (at a moment when I’m usually dead tired).

33)  Virgin Airlines.  I hate flying.  But they have made it OK with their tv, free wifi, great steak sandwiches, awesome movie selection, & non-stop flights.  I have yet to had a bad experience with them.

34)  Self check out at the grocery stores.  I’m big into do-it-yourself.  I think I’m faster than the employees.

35)  Being able to see Tom graduate this year…go T!

36)  Happy Hour.  It’s a benefit of being a teacher.  I don’t indulge every week, but I will hit a happy hour at least once a month.  Margarita is the drink of choice.

37)  My ipod shuffle.  It’s not that fancy, but it’s so TINY!  I like that it doesn’t hold too much music.  It only has my workout tunes.  That being said, I would love to be thankful for an IPOD NANO next year!

38)  My fancy tri bike.  We’ve been together over a 1000 miles, and it’s corny–but when I’m riding it does feel like a part of me.  I’m much less clumsy on it than I used to be.  If you’re considering becoming a cyclist, I highly recommend putting some money into the purchase.  It’s a whole different experience than riding my crappy Target bike.

39) Rock Band/Karaoke Nights.  I love singing and being silly around my friends.  What a release!  I love that I have the kind of friends who are into this stuff.

40)  Single Lady.  You may here me complain from time to time about the L.A. dating scene (the one in which anyone will date you as long as it’s not “officially” a relationship), but I spent last Saturday having lunch by myself & thought “I am enjoying this way too much.  This is the life!”  As much as I would love to find someone, I really like hanging out with myself & the freedom that comes along with single life.  I’m sure some cool dude will change my mind (or accept me for my independent ways), but for now–I’m enjoying myself.  And I really enjoyed that Chipotle burrito I ate that Saturday.  It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

41)  Movie of the year (so far) UP!=  I loved that movie.  Beautiful to watch & incredibly touching.  Hopefully I’ll see some good movies in December, but I continue to be thankful for really wonderful films!

42)  Magazines.  I love them.  I will read almost anything, but my favorites are Runner’s World, Triathlete, Bicycling, Oprah, and Entertainment Weekly.  It is a happy day anytime I get these in the mail.

43)  Road Trips.  This year I made it to San Francisco, Palm Springs, Vegas, San Diego…and I’m sure some other random spots I’m forgetting.

44)  My Hair Stylist.  We’re going on a 3 year relationship, and I totally dig her.  We have the same birthday!  She is a surfer girl who is really great at highlighting hair.  And the cut is amazing–she’s so good, I only have to see her every few months.

45)  My NYC friends.  I don’t get to see you guys nearly enough anymore, but I so look forward to the times we do get to spend: weddings, Disneyland, brunches, skee ball, etc.

46) TV watch.  These are basically recaps of some of my favorite shows: Big Brother, Amazing Race, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm.  I don’t really need the recap (since I watched the show), but it’s the opinions & comments that follow that I’m into.  It makes T.V. a much more social endeavor.  Plus, mostly they are pretty hilarious.

47)  My space heater.  I have cold hands and cold feet, always.  No, not a cold heart.  Stop saying that.

48)  Jeff’s amazing Clippers season tickets.  It’s the best seat at Staples Center.  I LOVE going to basketball games.  Mostly for the pretzel and beer & to be that close to that many really really tall guys.

49)  Facebook Friendships.  I’m a constant status updater & I’ve found friends who I never hang out with, but I LOVE their status updates & we comment on each other’s.  This is such a weird phenomenon, but I’m so into it.

50)  Darius Rucker as a country singer.  I love his cheesy “everything is all good” kind of songs.  The next Charley Pride!

51)  Being an early riser.  I complain about not being able to sleep in, but I love being up and out in the world before most people.  Life is so….quiet!  Coffee helps.

52)  on the same subject: Sleep.  I’ve struggled with getting a full night’s sleep for oh um…like 10 years!  Only in the past 6 months or so have I consistently been getting good sleep.  I am SO thankful when I wake up & it is light outside!

53)  Funny texts.  I love when just looking down at my phone, one phrase or sentence or picture can totally crack me up.

54)  my foam roller.  Have you used one of these things?  Has totally helped keep my injuries at bay & is like getting a free massage.

55)  Blog readers (mom!)= are you STILL reading this?

56)  My Texas roots.  Always thankful for that (and that all of my roommates are Texan, so basically better than most people).

57)  My grill.  I love outdoor cooking–the smell, the grill marks, turning the meat over.  I’m so easy to please.

57.  That’s a good number.  This is my favorite holiday.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving & have a list 3 times this long of great things in your life (though no need to show off & post it like I did.  I mean, we have parades to watch.)

Race Report: Boston 1/2 Marathon & San Diego Mud Run

I think this is officially the year of the organized races for me.  I need to cut down–these things get to be expensive!  But luckily, they continue to be fun.

I took off last weekend for a quick trip to New York and Boston.  I got to see some friends (very quickly) and drive to Boston to run with my running buddy Aransas.  It’s always great running with her because we seem to be on the same page with running & are usually into running similar paces (sometimes she can be a speed demon, and so can I…but luckily not so this past weekend).  Our half was basically our way into training for the year.  It forced us to build in some long runs, which I’m really bad at.  They always seem so daunting, and because of that–I’ve never really trained well for any marathon.  Sure, I’ll get in a couple of long-ish runs–but nothing like what my initial training calls for.  I’m trying to change that this year–mostly so I don’t end up injured on race day.

Anyway, it rained the 24 hours before the race, so I was a little worried about a soaking wet run.  Luckily, it stopped for most parts of our run–and cloudy and 50s is perfect running weather.  This was outside of Boston–Newton, MA, where we got to run the 13 miles around beautiful, colorful houses, a small lake, fall foliage, etc…and I got to talk to Aransas and catch up the entire way.  I probably shouldn’t be traveling across the country for a long run, but I do have to say it mixed it up a bit.  We ran slowly, which is good–I’m not into being speedy quite yet (I have a few months to get there), but we got the miles in with little pain/struggle.  I’m way excited about the marathon in March now.

Yesterday I drove out to San Diego with three of my friends for my first ever “mud run.”  There are apparently lots of these events around (people are weird like that…we like to jump in mud), and all I can say is—register me for ALL of them.  I really loved it.  It was a 5k, but there were lots of obstacles thrown in throughout the course–hurdles, tunnels, hay to jump over, walls to climb, “snow” to trudge through, and lots and lots of mud pits.  Hilariously amazing!  My teammates did not ALL love it, but that was due to lack of training.  Next year team, we’ll get it together!  There are a couple going on next year, and I can’t wait to do one.  This one was sponsored and held at a mega church–a bit odd, but actually really well run.  Plus we got to stop at Sonic on the way home.  Cherry limeade=yes!!!

I’m keeping the races going with a Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday morning–burning off calories in advance!  It also just helps me to focus on the holiday at hand–giving thanks that I’m healthy enough to run these races & see all the beautiful scenery that surrounds me–this one thursday is around a lake/park, so I’m sure I will enjoy both the crowd and the sights!

I still haven’t completely planned out my marathon training.  It will probably involve a few longer road races between now and March–but not so many that I’m exhausted.  I’m training using a “3 day a week” plan, which involves only 3 runs a week (though all of them highly focused and pretty fast)–the others can be rest and cross-training–so I don’t have to totally let triathlon training slide.  And hopefully, don’t burn out on the running that way.

My trainer and I worked out together on Friday–he’s trying to get me to sign up for more sessions, so I got a freebie in there (it worked).  I’m not able to sign up for many at a time & don’t know if I can do it for very much longer–but we are both out of town on and off, so it will be spread out over the next few months.  It is one of those expenses I can’t seem to give up because having a trainer really helps me bring focus to every single one of my workouts.  I push myself 3-4 workouts a week, I get to let someone else push me the other 2!  I’m also going to find at least one run a week with a club just to help me keep my pace up.  So that’s my training for now.  My big focus over the next month is going to be nutrition, which I hate.  I don’t eat crazy bad foods, but I don’t put nearly as much time into nutrition as I do to exercise & I really do want to be a complete package kind of athlete.  So the goal is just to put more time into thinking about food–weekly shopping, cooking more, etc–especially now when the training isn’t so overwhelming.

So, soon I promise–I will lay off these race reports!  Unless you wanna run a mud run with me?!?!  Sooo much fun!

Post-Halloween Weekend: How to manage without a costume

Halloween week was a big distraction for me.  It also happened to be the week our students are not in session, so I spent most of my time at work working on my Halloween costume and props.  Halloween itself was fun, but I was asleep by 11pm.  It was great because I was still able to make my 9 mile run on Sunday (let’s hope I can make my 11 mile run tomorrow!).  The only downside: my costume was so glittery that I STILL have glitter on my face and all over my room (not to mention my Mustang).

So I will do my best not to get lost in Thanksgiving planning.  I’m staying in L.A. this year, so I expect that will be a low key celebration, but I’m still making a turkey if anyone wants to stop by.  Can I bbq that thing on the grill?  Thanksgiving is a holiday I totally believe in= ummm, giving thanks?!?!–that’s a universal thing.  A holiday for optimists!  I am already planning to host a holiday party at our house (ok, half the reason I wanted to move into a house was so I could have at least 2 parties a year), but I need some ideas re: how to make it unique–a holiday party you actually WANT to go to.

I am coming down from my triathlon high.  Last month was a month of great racing, but I’ve really enjoyed the past two weeks of not racing & not having a set training plan.  Now it’s really all about making sure I get a few long runs in before the marathon in March, but it’s still early.  I’m leaving for the East Coast on Thursday to run a 1/2 marathon in the Boston area.  I’m mostly excited for the scenery (fall foliage!) & for the running company (my running buddy will be with me) & not really caring about the speed.  Speaking of speed–unfortunately, my personal training sessions are about to run out.  This is one reason  I wish I made a bit more money.  I don’t really buy lots of expensive toys except what relates to my working out…and personal training is my favorite.  It makes me feel like an athlete with a real coach!  But, I also know I’m pretty good at being my own coach & can make it work.  And I hate telling my trainer no because he’s really good & we both know I’ve become stronger and faster with him pushing me.  Two sessions left…boo!

I’m trying to utilize my non-training time on social and business endeavors, but I’m easily distracted by the entertainment found in my own room (computer, a new book, the T.V., etc).  This weekend is pretty empty, though, so I have high hopes.

I’m about to jump into the dating scene again, after a tragically bad date back in September that left some scars.  (Not real scars, please, I can run fast &  I know Tae Bo).  Maybe this week?  I’ll report back.  In good news: it’s bound to be better than my last date.

I’ve been trying to work out in the a.m., but it’s been a hard shift for me to make.  I’m asleep, so I don’t wake up til the end of the workout.  I like to be fully aware and fast the whole time.  So this morning, instead of slipping on my running shoes, I slipped into my hoodie & went into the kitchen for some bacon, eggs, and coffee–convincing myself this was all protein to give me energy for a workout later on in the morning.  Unfortunately, now it’s after 11am & I’m still in the hoodie with no signs of working out.  (it will have to be a late afternoon thing because I should probably eat lunch soon, right?!)

I’m not good with the time change.  My commute home from work is usually 20-30 minutes.  This week, it was 1hr 20 min!  NOT COOL!  And it’s dark the whole time.  Soooo depressing.  There were no signs of wrecks and someone mentioned more cars were on the road because less people were riding the bus and on bikes in the dark…why do I not remember this happening last year?  I am grateful for some cooler weather…with no A/C, I’m no good in the heat–can’t sleep.  So right now, my hands and feet are freezing, but I still prefer it to the constant sweating.  I think I need a space heater though.

I went to dinner/movie last night with my roommates.  We went to Islands, which if you’re not from California, is a cheesy burger joint that I adore…we all got “exotic cocktails” that cost about as much as our burger, but yummmmy.  And then a movie at one of my favorite theatres to see Precious.  Uber-depressing (just slightly inspiring) but really well done.  The character Precious writes “why me?” in her journal, and it made me think the same thing.  Why some people in this world have to face horrible abuse at the hands of others, poverty, disconnection– while I was blessed with a happy home life & don’t have that sort of baggage following me around.  I can walk light on my feet & am easy to smile, trust, & believe in love.  It of course reminds me of the population I work with (how can it not?)–the middle-schoolers who give me endless amounts of attitude, rolling their eyes at this white girl trying to do my best (shouting at me: “This is boring, miss!” “When will this be over???”) & rarely being able to get through a lesson as planned.

I think about all that they go through at 12 that I could never understand at 31 (their school life is even unstable–changing locations, teachers leaving).  My job–it is something anyone could do (contrary to what society says, certification, degrees, none of it matters as much as you’d like it to).  I think what makes people in the teaching field special is that they continue to show up.  It’s not intellectual or all that deep.  Being there.  I think it matters, although I have no proof–it’s only a hunch.  I taught one kid “Heart and Soul” on the piano after class last session, and after trying it over and over again, he got it right once & we both looked at each other.  I could see how proud he was of himself, and I was, too (what i haven’t told you, kid, is that Heart and Soul is the ONLY song I know…so our lessons are over)!  Arts education folks think we need to be able to articulate why what we do is powerful, but they don’t see that it is powerful because there is no way to articulate it.  I show up.  I try new ideas.   Sometimes I’m horrible at teaching, sometimes I’m good, some days are disaster, some days are a success simply because they weren’t disasters.  The best days are when parents show up to watch their kids perform.  The worst days are when students are focused on how many spitballs they can shoot at me.  They all balance out & the job is just a job, but there are moments when it feels like more than that.  All that to say, Precious was good.  It made me think.

And with that, it’s about lunch time & I’m gonna need some energy if I’m going to make an afternoon workout.  Have a great weekend!!!