Not About Me

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday, many of my Facebook friends turned their Facebook profiles “rainbow” in celebration and solidarity. I did not immediately change my profile picture, because it was my daughter’s 19th birthday and I had posted a picture of the two of us that I intended to leave up for all of June 26.

Early Saturday morning, I “rainbow’d” myself. Shortly afterwards, I posted a status that wished Tallahassee runners good luck in a 5K being held that day and commented that I was glad the race supported high school cross country, which was a great cause. It was my first “post-rainbow” post. An acquaintance immediately commented, “Oh great so YOU’RE on that bandwagon now too. Weren’t enough people already?” I responded “I am proudly and unapologetically ‘on that bandwagon’.” Then another acquaintance chimed in with a commentary about the confederate flag. The two of them exchanged barbs that had nothing to do with running. After once asking that the thread be kept to support of runners, I decided to take back my own Facebook page. I deleted the entire comment thread and stated that I was rebooting the thread to “support 101″ so that the focus could be kept on running. The phrase “on the bandwagon,” though, had gotten me thinking …

About the road to “that bandwagon”:

When I was in high school, I loved someone. This relationship was one of the first intense loves of my life. I seeded the short-term, unseasoned reality of this teenage relationship with unrealistic hopes and expectations that it would last a long time; this relationship was central to who I thought I was.

When he told me, somewhere in our first couple of years of college, that he was gay, I was crushed and disbelieving. A close adult friend consoled me by sympathetically saying “you’re not strong enough for that” (as if a “stronger” person could overcome this particular reason for a relationship ending). More than one person empathized, “you don’t even get to use femininity to overcome this.”

In an attempt to gain some semblance of hope for the future, I went to a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting here in Tallahassee. This was before “B, “Q,” and “T” (for bisexual, queer, and transgender), among other letters, were part of acronyms for groups like this. What the facilitator said was not what I wanted to hear:

“THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU”

One of the facilitator’s central points was “he has his own work to do, figuring out this part of his identity, and he could use your support as opposed to your misguided anger.” Although it took me decades of life experience after being told “this is not about you” to fully comprehend what that meant, I got there.

I got there when my volunteer responsibilities (and subsequent paid on call supervisor responsibilities) made me one of the first counselors on the Florida AIDS Hotline (since our crisis counseling service held the contract for the AIDS Hotline).

I got there when I became more involved in the FSU Film School community and was witness over and over to acceptance among people representing ALL the letters of the alphabet: L, G, B, Q, T, S – whatever.

I got there when I had the opportunity to be involved in making this:

I got there when time moved on and I realized the person who I thought had broken my heart in the early 80s had actually been fate’s way of squeezing a wedge in a closed door of my heart and beliefs. This wedge let the light in and created a spectrum of color where previously only black and white had existed.

Not About Me

 

 

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

I am running into a definite “deja vu” moment right now!

I decided to blog about the Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt …

Which led me to decide on a title about the fact that the only thing I haven’t found is a garden gnome…

Which sent me back to last year’s Summer #RunChatHunt post …

In which I bemoaned the lack of a gnome.

HMMMmmmm…….

For this year, we were challenged to find the following items while running and tweet pictures of each one with the hashtag #RunChatHunt:

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

And here is my gnomeless list of “finds” so far:

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Body of Water: Wakulla Springs

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Statue: Unconquered!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Sunrise!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Something unique to your city: Our FSU Sod Cemetery! (Go ‘Noles!)

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Race sticker(s) on vehicle!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

American Flag!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Selfie with another runner: my awesome friend Lysa!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

Empty beer/soda can!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

House Under Construction!

And last but gnot least:

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

If you haven’t joined in the #RunChatHunt fun, there’s still time! It lasts through June 30!

Each time you tweet one of the scavenger hunt items with the hashtag #runchathunt, you are eligible for awesome prizes! You get a bonus entry for doing a blog post!

Here is the prize info:

For the “fine print,” rules, and all that fun stuff, visit the original post here.

Join me in the #RunChatHunt fun! I GNOW you can do it!

Gneeding a Gnome: Summer 2015 #RunChatHunt

 

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

When I choose to support a cause, I try to understand it as much as possible. That is why, when I read about the Summer Food Challenge which benefits America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend on Facebook, I immediately knew I had to do the “go without food for an entire day” option in addition to the “donate” option.

With a target date of June 18, I thought through which day would be best for my day without food. My thoughts included “make it a day when your workout schedule is light,” “make it a day when you can stay calm and limit your activity,” “make it a beneficial One Day Water Fast day,” and “make it a day free of food temptations.”

But …

Who am I kidding? My life doesn’t work that way!

I was kidding myself to think I could find a low-key, “calm” day! In addition, my day without food was time-limited. I knew I could pick right back up on my nutrition the next day (or, technically, at midnight). It was a novelty. For one out of every five Leon County residents (56,000 of our neighbors, 11,000 of whom are children), who are food insecure, hunger is no novelty. Nor is an abstract term like “food insecure” while accurate, a novelty. It is an imperfect term describing what they really are: hungry. Summer months are especially difficult, since children do not have access to breakfast or lunch programs at school.

I experienced a tiny fraction of how these people must feel:

When I ran four miles with nothing to eat before and no plan to have anything to eat afterwards.

Imagine you are a kid, showing up for school, and it’s time for p.e. or free play. 

Imagine not having the energy to run, climb, be active.

When I took my son through a drive through and smelled the tantalizing aromas of his food, knowing I could not partake.

Imagine you are a kid, seeing your peers filling their tummies, sometimes with “treats” like fries but other times with fresh produce, protein-filled foods, and plenty of hydration.

When I had to deal with the (usually) minor stresses of getting my elderly father-in-law up, fed, dressed, and driven to his physician’s office for an appointment, communicating clearly and calmly while complying with other people’s deadlines.

Imagine you are a kid, navigating through a society with all kinds of people, some nice, some mean, some who want something from you, some who want to be left alone.

Imagine needing a clear head to read cues and a stable blood sugar level to cope with the world around you.

Speaking of needing a “clear head,” when I decided to prepare and deliver a Toastmasters speech on the topic of the Summer Food Challenge that night … when I had to compose and deliver a ten-minute speech to a table full of people munching on chips, salsa, and Mexican food, convincing them to spend money (or time) on food for others instead of tacos for themselves.

Imagine you are a kid, expected to organize yourself and your schoolwork, to submit projects on time, to participate in class energetically, to stave off distraction in order to concentrate on your education.

After My Day Without Food:

I came away from my day without food empathizing more fully with the children (and adults) in our community who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. I came away from my day without food imagining a community where children can play, learn, and live free of food insecurity, free of HUNGER.

Here’s How You Can Help:

If you are on Facebook, go to this link and click “going.”

If you want to feel what the food insecure members of our community experience, join me, Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Skip Foster, Tallahassee Police Department Chief Michael DeLeo, and State Representative Alan Williams in accepting the challenge of going a day without food (without endangering your own health, of course).  Pop in on the Summer Food Challenge Facebook page and let us know how it went.

Download a flier and post it at your work, church, or civic organization.

CONTRIBUTE FOOD OR FUNDS! This choice would have the most impact! Details:

  • Drop off food, cash, or checks made out to ASHBB (note “Fill a Truck”) to the Tallahassee Democrat at 277 N Magnolia Dr between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday of this week (6/15/15-6/18/15).
  • Donate online via this link.
  • Drop food off to Target Copy at 635 W. Tennessee Street, and they will match your donation!
  • Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015If you drop off to the Democrat on Thursday, 6/18, between noon and 7 p.m., you can participate in the community weigh-in at the on-site scale. (Let’s hope to exceed last year’s three ton mark!).
  • These are the most useful items: peanut butter, jelly, canned beans, canned tuna/chicken, rice, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, soups, fruit juice, cookies, crackers, baby food/formula, condiments, and salad dressing.

One action you can take that helps people with food insecurity year-round is to run, walk, or cycle using the Charity Miles app and select Feeding America as your designated charity. For every mile you run or walk, Charity Miles will “sponsor” you, meaning they will donate a quarter for every mile run or walked, and a dime for every mile cycled. It’s that easy! For my four miles on Monday, I earned $1 for Feeding America, for something I would have been doing anyway (and, yeah, I posed after my run with a can of tuna on my head for added effect!).

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

Please thank AMWAT Moving Warehousing Storage and the other sponsors who are working together to make a difference:

Tallahassee Police Department

Tallahassee Democrat

WTXL Channel 27

The POD Advertising

Red Hills Broadcasting

Lamar Advertising Company

Target Copy Tallahassee

America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend

Impact Visual Media

Gandy Printers

FINALLY ……LET’S FILL THAT TRUCK!!!!

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

#Tally4AAC

#Tally4AAC

In 1999, none of us would have understood a conversation that included:

“HASHTAG Tally 4 AAC”

Now, in 2015, this hashtag has been the hallmark of our summer, as Tallahassee has competed to be named an All-America City again (like we were in 1999) by the National Civic League.

The annual award recognizes exemplary grassroots and problem-solving efforts of communities that cooperatively tackle challenges and achieve measurable results.

In its application, Tallahassee highlighted three programs:

  • Cascades Park (more info here)
  • Distinguished Young Gentlemen (more info here)
  • Neighborhood REACH (more info here)

The City of Tallahassee will live stream our community’s All-America City presentation and the awards ceremony on WCOT, the City’s government access channel (Comcast and CenturyLink Channel 13), and online at Talgov.com/AAC. The presentation will air on Saturday, June 13, from 3:30 to 3:50 p.m., and the awards ceremony will air on Sunday, June 14, from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

I don’t have personal experience with Distinguished Young Gentlemen or Neighborhood REACH, but I have heard enough about them to believe they help qualify us as an All-American City. Cascades Park, on the other hand, is a verdant example of restoration, history, and mutual commitment to foster community togetherness. I have already had several great runs there, and am thrilled that it is part of our community.

This picture is from my first Cascades Park outing:

#Tally4AAC

Good luck, Tallahassee, you’ll always be my All-America City, and I hope the National Civic League agrees!!

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

I have always been word-crazy, and I have never hesitated to try my hand at a word game.

In Ruzzle, I found myself up against a formidable wall and HEY! I’ve found a blog post topic too.

My Ruzzle career started with this blog post about strategy games. When I commented that I would never start Words With Friends because I would never get anything done, I was invited to play Ruzzle and told, “It only takes two minutes a turn.”

While it is true that a Ruzzle game only takes two minutes, this has turned out to be the Lay’s Potato Chip “you can’t eat just one” equivalent of my online life. Also, I hate losing!

By way of introduction, Ruzzle calls itself “the world’s fastest word game.” The premise is simple: players swipe through the 16 letters on the board, trying to accumulate as many words as possible. Each match is a series of three two-minute games.

That said, here are my takeaways from Ruzzle:

I Am Incapable Of Doing the Minimum Once I Like Something

Two minutes? I really have to regulate myself. I only allow myself to play one game a day per person (I usually have two or three opponents going simultaneously). And because I like it, I want to get better, so I dig around to learn more. Via the digging, I found the Ruzzle community …

There Are Communities and Tutorials Out there for EVERYTHING

Want tips on how to improve? There’s a strategy guide for that. Desire to “get good at Ruzzle”? Visit this blog. Need tips and tricks? Visit this site. And, apparently avoid the “dreaded rainbow circle clan” of Ruzzle pirates (?).

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

Armed with tips and community, I kept on practicing…

Practice Pays Off

My Ruzzle life will never get to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours bar, but I have gotten better since I started playing in December 2014. Sometimes when I find something by thinking backwards, laterally, or diagonally, I feel like Michael Pollan when he “saw” the truffles he had been overlooking despite them being right under his nose in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Speaking of thinking backwards, laterally, and diagonally …

Thinking Backwards, Laterally, and Diagonally Pays Off

This is where the parallel to real life and much of the feedback I have always been given really hits home. When I look at the “possible words” vs the “found words” after a game, I see so many missed opportunities, mostly the ones that involved following a line of letters through a relatively byzantine path.

It reminds me of professional situations where I literally was going down a string of 200 emails, one by one, and not categorizing or prioritizing. It happened recently when a coworker had moved something I needed to do under my page on Basecamp, and I asked about it publicly in our staff FB page, before realizing it was there, if I had searched differently.

Strategy: it pays off. Eventually. Let’s hope.

In the meantime, I have also learned …

Accuracy is Overrated

When I first started playing Ruzzle, I would be mortified at a low accuracy percentage. I have learned that in Ruzzle (but not life in general!), there are more important qualities than accuracy, such as furiously (and intelligently) swiping at combinations you *think* may be words, and latching on to a multi-purpose endings such as “ing” and trying every combo out there, even the ones that aren’t really words. As someone who proofreads on the side, this de-emphasis on accuracy is a lesson wrapped within a challenge.

Paying Extra for Premium Can Be Worth It

There are many apps for which I don’t find it worth paying the buck or two extra for the premium version. I’ll look at the five-second ads, deal with a few limitations. But the perks for Premium Ruzzle are pretty cool, especially if you are obsessed with improving. With Ruzzle, paying the $2.99 for premium gets you unlimited ongoing games, statistics, and the possibility to see all words on the board after a finished round (that’s my favorite part!).

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

Statistics

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

Yes, I am embarrassed that I am a North Florida born and bred woman and missed “cooter” (the turtle …everyone else needs to think clean).

Determination Alone Does Not Help You Achieve Some of Your Goals

Ruzzle has “achievements” you can unlock. Well, being the goal-driven person I am (see topic #1 about the two-minute issue), I want to Achieve ALL the Achievements!!!!!!!!

The thing is, you can say to yourself “I am going to achieve the ‘Speedster’ badge this game” but you can’t make yourself find 30 words in 30 seconds or (the one I really want) “find a word of at least 10 letters” (the Bookworm badge). At least I am 100% on “Challenge your Twitter followers”!

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

The elusive bookworm badge. Sigh.

Sounds

One of the tutorials recommended “always keep the sound on” because it helps you know when you’re close to the end of the game (among other reasons). I found I play better with the sound off. (It’s also easier to furtively play Ruzzle, for example, next to a sleeping spouse or in an airport.)

Languages

I have played Ruzzle in Spanish a few times. I can see why this might be helpful to my Spanish learning efforts. Unfortunately, I left the setting on “Spanish” when I started to play a tournament once and that resulted, understandingly, in a major Ruzzle fail!

Tap Dance

Every time I sit there staring at the Ruzzle screen, realizing it expects me to “tap” for the next step (even though it does not TELL me to “tap” for the next step), I am reminded that the app / digital world expects me to know what to do. Maybe my children have some intuitive “tap to make the next thing on the screen happen” reflex, but I still expect directions. That’s probably not going to happen, is it?

Tick Tock My Two Minutes Are Almost Up

Why am I attached to Ruzzle? I would say 1) words! 2) connecting with people, especially the first friend who asked, and 3) the thrill of competition.

And seeing as how despite the thrill of competition, I am have lost 62% more games than I have won, I will be playing …

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

This post about “riveting Ruzzle realities” was a response to the Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompt: “Write a blog post that ends with the word: again.”

Riveting RUZZLE Realities

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

One fun thing about being part of the fitness community is the constant flood of new things to eat/wear/use to make us faster, healthier, more effective. In today’s post, three items I have recently been introduced to and my assessment:

DBelt Pro

The DBelt Pro is part of the DBelt collection. Named after one of the company’s founders, Danielle Etienne Raphino, the DBelt was developed in an effort to “create a multifunctional fitness apparel accessory that was so sleek and modern it could be as comfortably, and confidently, worn outside the gym as in.”

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

What I liked about the DBelt Pro:

  • Freedom from buckles and clasps. The DBelt Pro has a velcro closure. There is plenty of velcro to secure the DBelt. Lack of clasps/buckles makes it lie flush against your body.
  • The colors. So many running/fitness accessories are black or neutral. My DBelt Pro is red. There are other vibrant color choices as well:
  • The compartments. There is a small zipper compartment, a second small compartment, and a larger compartment with a secure velcro closure that can accommodate an iPhone6.
Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

DBelt Color Options

Features of the DBelt Pro that weren’t a good fit for me:

  • Sizing. This isn’t so much a downfall of the product, but of the sizing for particular uses. I ordered a medium, which was a perfect fit if I used the product as pictured on their website, but when I wore it on my hips as pictured, it bounced too much. I moved it higher on my waist and secured it with safety pins. In retrospect, I should have gotten a small (or maybe even an extra small) for running purposes.
  • Velcro vs. Zipper for the phone compartment. I strongly prefer a zipper compartment for my phone. The velcro on the phone compartment is very grippy but a zipper is my personal preference. I can’t afford to take any chances with my phone.
  • Hand Washing Required. The tag says the DBelt Pro should be hand washed. Mine was so sweaty after my first three runs … I am not sure hand washing is really going to address the drenching a fitness accessory gets after a Florida summer run.
  • Durability. After three uses (during hour-long runs), the 95% polyester/5% spandex fabric on my DBelt Pro was showing significant signs of wear. As a result, I have some reservations about durability.

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

The DBelt Pro retails for $49.95. For more information, visit their website here, check them out on Facebook,  visit them on Twitter, or follow them on Pinterest.

Here’s a pic of the DBelt Pro in use:

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

ZIG

ZIG is a just-add-water portable protein shake. Each package has a single serving of premium whey protein powder sealed inside. The user adds water, shakes, and drinks. It is designed for use as a pre or post workout protein fix or a healthy snack between meals.

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

What I liked about ZIG:

  • Convenience. The ZIG packaging has everything you need (except the water) and is safety sealed to protect the ingredients until you are ready to prepare your protein drink.
  • Flavor. I don’t think I have ever met a chocolate “anything” I disliked! I tried chocolate and vanilla.They were both tasty, but I preferred the chocolate.
  • Protein. 20 grams of whey protein in one six-ounce drink is a plus!

ZIG features that weren’t a good fit for me:

  • Packaging. By designing packaging that weighs 80% less than many pre-packaged protein shakes, ZIG states that results will include reduced gasoline consumption and pollution, and reduced CO2 emissions. While that is true, the jury is still out for me on the environmental impact of the portable plastic packaging, including the “Mixing Mesh” enclosure.

ZIG is currently available on Amazon via this link. (Through June 30, use this code to buy 1 get 1 free: ZIGFF620.) For more information, visit their website here, check them out on Facebook,  visit them on Twitter, or double tap on Instagram.

I refueled with ZIG after a recent run:

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

Jabra Sport Plus Wireless Stereo Headphones

I won a pair of Jabra Sport Plus Wireless Stereo Headphones from a Verizon Wireless #ConnectedLife twitter chat MONTHS ago. I put them in my closet, honestly on the premise that I wouldn’t be able to figure them out.

In retrospect I don’t know why I hesitated!

These wireless headphones have quickly become one of my favorite running accessories (and, for the record, it took about five minutes to figure them out!).

Product Reviews: Trying New Things!

What I like about my Jabra Sport Plus wireless headphones:

  • Cordless. Seriously. Isn’t it amazing how a tiny little thing like the cord from your earbuds to your phone/iPod can be irritating as heck during a run? I love this freedom!
  • FM Radio. I took a quick walk Friday morning, and was easily able to tune in to NPR to listen to my usual Friday morning programming. Such a simple thing but so convenient!

Jabra Sport Plus Wireless Headphone FEATURES THAT aren’t A GOOD FIT FOR ME:

  • Zero, Nada, Zilch. I haven’t found a downside yet!

Jabra Sport Plus wireless headphones retail for $99.99 and come with a three month Endomondo premium subscription. For more information, visit their website here, check them out on Facebook,  visit them on Twitter, or follow them on Instagram.

Have you made any new discoveries that enhance your fitness life lately? I’d love to hear about them!

**Note: I was provided the DBelt Pro in exchange for my review. I was provided the ZigDrink products in exchange for my review, as a Fitfluential ambassador. The opinions here are totally my own.

Alex’s Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Can you remember the last time you made lemonade? I can’t (unless you count the powdered lemonade mix I used for this Hippie Juice a few years ago, and I don’t think you can!).

The time has come to make lemonade, because Alex’s Lemonade Days are coming up (June 12-14) and this lemonade will do more than quench thirst: it will help raise funds for research to cure childhood cancer.

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Lemonade Days is held each year during the second weekend of June – the time of year when Alexandra “Alex” Scott always held her lemonade stand – to honor Alex and all childhood cancer heroes.

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Alexandra “Alex” Scott, Founder
Photo Credit: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Since Alex’s first front yard lemonade stand, there have been more than 20,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) lemonade stands held across the country and world. Alex’s Lemonade Stands make a meaningful difference at any time of the year, however Lemonade Days is a time when supporters join forces and hold stands simultaneously to be a part of ALSF’s largest annual fundraiser. In the spirit of Alex’s ambitious goal to raise $1 million, which she reached before she passed away in 2004, Lemonade Days weekend consistently raises $1 million annually.

Want to Host Your Own Stand?

If you are interested in hosting a lemonade stand for ALSF, click here by June 5 for a special edition Lemonade Days fundraising kit. The fundraising kit includes materials such as posters, banners, thank you notes, fundraising tips, ALSF merchandise and more. (Note: If you are here in Tallahassee, I’ll be glad to help you with your stand!).

Want to Tweet Instead (or Also)?

Please join @AlexsLemonade on May 28th from 1-2pm ET using #LemonadeDays to learn how you can fight childhood cancer and to chat with some “hero families”.

What I Am Doing

  • I am going to dedicate my first race of the Gulf Winds Track Club Summer Trail Race series (May 30, 2015) to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. I will wear my Idiots Running Club bright yellow (or an ALSF shirt if it arrives), and hydrate with lemonade afterwards. I am dreading this race a bit because, although I am adequately trained for it, there is every likelihood I will finish utterly last (the medication I am taking does not exactly speed me up). But this cause will help me keep my perspective. I will remember my young friends like Lauren and Grayson who have had to deal with a lot more than a last place race finish as they have dealt with childhood cancers. My goal is $50, which would pay for an hour of cancer research. If you would like to donate as part of this race dedication, here’s the link.
  • Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a CureI made a donation to Florida’s “Hero” Family, the Hendrix Family, whose daughter Carolyn had Ewing’s Sarcoma (she is currently “NED” (No Evidence of Disease)). If you are in Pensacola, visit their Lemonade Days event on June 14 from 1 pm to 6 pm CST at Trinity Presbyterian Church! If you can’t attend but would like to donate, there’s a link hereAlex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure
  • I am hoping to visit one of the Lemonade Days events hosted by Georgia’s “Hero” Family, the Johnson Family, whose daughter Julia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2009. The Georgia Family lives much closer to me than the Florida Family, so I hope to make it to one of their stands!Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Down here in Florida, summer is heating up. For families dealing with childhood cancers, the heat is always on to find a cure.

Some people associate yellow with cowardice. In this case, yellow represents the opposite, bravery. Let’s rally around these families and “lemonade up” for a great cause!

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Gold Macbook Giveaway

Macbook Giveaway

As much as I love writing with a “Big Green Pen,” there are times when I need something a bit more high-tech, powerful, and COOL to get my point across. I think a Gold Macbook would do nicely, don’t you?

I am joining other fabulous bloggers in a Gold Macbook giveaway. Check out these other great bloggers below then scurry on down to the Rafflecopter to enter for your chance to win the Gold Macbook!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: Gold Macbook ($1299 value)

Co-hosts: Film+Fashion+Fun True Story Book Blog Life’s Cheap Thrills The World Is My Jester Krystal’s Kitsch Stripes ‘n’ Vibes NYC Recessionista  EncinoMom California Lifestyle Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog Libby’s Library Style Tab  Bay Area Mommy Lauryncakes Behind Blue Eyes A Labour of Life Laurita Always Womanly Woman Finger Click Saver Nicole to the Nines [oomph.]  Robinson Style

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck! (Please email becky@ohmygoshbeck.com with any questions.)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 6/15 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

green pen

Run With Your Friends

Over the past three years, I have become more and more distanced from my local running friendships, and a couple of Facebook conversations this week prompted me to share my conclusion that in-person running friendships are not something to take for granted, that despite your specific training plans which may make it hard to “lace up and go” together, it’s worth figuring out how to make it work.

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS

When I first started being coached, I began heart rate based training. The result was that my workouts were structured around lengths of time at specific zones. For example, as opposed to “run three miles,”  a typical workout may be “warm up ten minutes at Zone 1, run 20 minutes at Zone 2, 10 minutes at Zone 3, cool down 10 minutes at Zone 1″ or “here’s a workout on iTunes — put it in your ears and do what it says” (not an instruction from my current coach) or “every 20 minutes, run at a higher heart rate zone for 3 minutes and then slow back down”). It was a little complicated to get my head around and I felt awkward telling people “even though I can run faster, I have to watch my heart rate monitor and stay within a zone so don’t pay attention to me.”

Run With Your Friends

A typical “with surges” workout in Training Peaks.

Related to this change, I began isolating myself from group runs I previously had participated in. In addition to the specificity of the workouts, my first coach did not want me racing as much as I had been (translation: almost every Saturday). The withdrawal from frequent racing made sense from a training standpoint but took me further away from the Saturday morning visit/run/sweat/eat routine.

My initial goal of being coached was to prepare for my first half marathon (September 2012) but after that I was single-focused on my goal of the sub-30 5K. That’s why I stuck so religiously to the “less racing” and “more following coach’s instructions to the letter” plan even though it meant being separated from my running peeps.

I vividly remember one friend saying of the Saturday morning group runs, “We’d invite you but we know you do your own thing.”

To be fair, a certain amount of my running has always been solitary. Early morning runs before work are sometimes more easily accomplished by just knocking them out in the neighborhood. I’m not always able or willing to meet a group at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. I love running alone but I also love the people in my running community. The farther I got into my little training world, the more distance grew between my local running friends and me.

I can’t say exactly when I began refusing to accept the impact my coaching plan had on my local running friendships, but I saw a subtle shift about a year and a half ago, when I started meeting a group of Moms Run This Town (MRTT) runners on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 5:30 a.m. for their runs. I was always the “caboose” and still running alone but it made a difference to start out with a group, to say hello to friends, and for someone to know I was out there (and to have a change of scenery from my neighborhood loop). It was a little silly to drive 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back, sometimes for a 40 minute run, but some actions that add quality to our running lives are not measured solely in minutes spent.

Run With Your Friends

The term “local running friends” should be broadly interpreted to include Miniature Pinschers, of course.

The more obvious shift came when I began experiencing challenges with my heart rate, leading to my April 2015 EP study and diagnosis of multifocal atrial tachycardia (MAT). Because an ablation was contraindicated (for now), I am currently taking a beta blocker half an hour before I run and, although I am sure there are plenty of runners out there accomplishing a sub 30 5K on beta blockers, I am dubious that is in the cards for me, so I am re-assessing my goal.

And it bothers me that before I got to the point of reassessing that goal, my path took me farther and farther from my local running friends, leaving me with a goal unaccomplished (I hate that!) and social bridges whose support pilings were on the verge of being washed out due to neglect.

That is why, when I got into those two Facebook conversations last week, I sent back responses that were hopefully articulately, sensitively, and diplomatically worded but were intended to say:

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

IT IS MORE COMPLICATED AND YOU’LL HAVE TO BE CREATIVE BUT …

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

I am not saying that coaching is a bad idea AT ALL (I LOVE my coach and my team at KR Endurance) and I believe in the effectiveness of heart-rate based training. BUT don’t abandon your local running friends.Whatever happens with your coaching journey and however many workouts you check off as complete in an online training system, none of that can replace:

  • Scrambling to make it to pre-race photos
  • Shared Finish Lines
  • Conversations over breakfast/coffee/beer/pizza (and Tuesday Post-Track Tacos of course)
  • Sacrificing your time goal on race day to help a friend who is struggling or has injured themselves
  • Sweaty hugs
  • The growth of trust and history with fellow runners that only accretes through being together regularly

Run With Your Friends

Notes from Sub-Waiting

Judging by the SIX emojis I used when I checked in to the TMH Cancer Center (I am calling it “The Cancer Center” in this blog) yesterday, I was happy that it would be our last day there. My father-in-law was completing his 35-treatment regimen of radiation therapy for neck cancer. That’s 35 days almost in a row, excluding weekends and the two-day “break” Dr. Sharp gave him before he began the last week.

Notes from Sub-Waiting

I had been in a radiation waiting room before, when I was one of the people asked by my friend and former boss to accompany her when she was having radiation treatments for a soft tissue cancer ten years ago. At the time, I recall the professional yet somewhat crowded setting on the first floor of TMH, the limited parking, how kind the staff members were, how kind the patients were to each other, and most predominantly, the visual I would never be able to shake of the permanent tattoo on her skin where the radiation would be aimed, and how for those moments of making sure the treatment was administered accurately, her body was a mass of skin, tissue, and bone to be “done something to” — everything else about her life: her accomplishments, her failures, the people and things she loved and hated, her hopes — were of no importance.

When Dad was diagnosed with neck cancer and we were referred to The Cancer Center, the process began with an intake session, paperwork (of course!), and an orientation to what lay ahead.

Immediately upon walking in to The Cancer Center, it was clear that a lot had changed in ten years. The center, located at 1775 Healing Place, is a standalone building, with plentiful parking (yay!) and a lovely healing garden (I never had a chance to spend time there, but each day’s quick peek as I entered the building gave me a little glimpse of beauty.) There were always plentiful wheelchairs (and we all know how I feel about a scarcity of wheelchairs!). The receptionist always greeted patients by name. En route to the radiation area, a caretaker passes two full candy dishes as well as smiling volunteers and staff.

Although there are kind medical professionals other places, I am positive the cream of the crop works here. 

There is a dressing area where the patient can go to change into a gown before heading in to “sub-waiting,” where they wait for their turn to be treated. (Because of the location of his tumor, Dad was excused from the gown-changing routine early on. No complaints from me about that!)

The actual process of receiving the radiation treatment is quite speedy. Still, 35 days of sitting in the same room with other people who are in the middle of being treated for cancer is not like 35 days of sitting in a car service waiting room or even in a general doctor’s waiting room until being called for a check-up. It’s the kind of 35 days that makes a person take notes …

Notes from Sub-Waiting

Connections Matter

I missed Day 1 of radiation treatment because I was on my way back from my trip to New York, but on my Day 1, I nodded politely to the fellow patients/family members, but did not chat much. It was all new to me. By Day 35, I looked forward to seeing people I had come to know by name and was sad when our schedules resulted in missing each other. As “veterans,” we welcomed the people just starting their treatment plans and helped them feel comfortable.

Connections were established, and these people came to matter to me (and us to them).

Hospital Gowns Equalize

People who would dress completely different from each other outside of the cancer center all clothed themselves in the required hospital gown … and socks. Although Dad didn’t have to change, he did have to take off his outer shirt and sit there in a t-shirt. I wonder if I would have made different assumptions about these people if I had seen them in their street clothes. I hope not, but these patients rocked those gowns more confidently than Rihanna at the Met Gala. And socks-as-footwear has to be more comfortable (and affordable) than Manolo Blahniks, right?

Will the puzzle get done?

For most of the 35 days, there was a puzzle in sub-waiting for people to work on while they sub-waited. It was an autumnal foliage/church scene with an infinite number of shades of burgundy, gold, and rust. I never saw anyone working on it (my husband said he did (??)). I sort of messed with it one day but got distracted by the TV and my desire to finish reading Through Rose Colored Glasses: A Marathon from Fear to Love by Donna Deegan (which seemed an appropriate choice of reading considering the environment!).

Notes from Sub-Waiting

The day I walked in and the puzzle was gone, however, I was sad! Did it get finished? Did someone just get annoyed with the snail’s pace at which it was getting completed? What happened to the puzzle?!

Notes from Sub-Waiting

We Had Our Laughs

The fact that these people are dealing with cancer doesn’t mean it’s all anxiety and resigned faces in sub-waiting. As we got to know each other, we had our share of laughs. From the caretaker who said she used to be a stand-up comedian, with her “Help I’m standing and I can’t sit down” joke, to the array of unusual things you see on daytime TV, to Dad saying, “Booze? Yeah I like that” when the dietitian asked if he liked Boost.

We may not have chosen to be in sub-waiting but we chose to find reasons to smile.

What Will Happen?

Despite making connections and finding humor in our situations, you still don’t know why anyone is there specifically, nor is it appropriate to talk about it. While none of us needed to know the reasons the others were there, curiosity is human nature. Besides the curiosity about the reasons people were there, I want (futilely, I know) to know how their next chapters go. Will their time in sub-waiting end up being a footnote in their life story or is it a stop on the way to more treatments, more challenging health issues, less years in their lives?

Certificate

Did you know you get a certificate when you complete your radiation treatment plan? AND as a bonus, your radiation mask. (Side note: check out this art made from discarded radiation masks.)

With the exception of a follow-up visit in three months, we are done. Some other patient will enter The Cancer Center Monday for the start of their treatment plan. Their caretaker will probably be as clueless as I was, having to ask where the dressing room is, how to get back out to the parking lot, what the phone number is for the treatment room.

Of course I am happy to be through with the daily trips that exhausted Dad and gobbled up time. But I am unhappy to leave behind so many lovely fellow patients, supportive physicians and staff, and unfinished stories.

Admittedly, I found this image on the internet and never saw this wording as I was leaving the building, but it is my wish for all of the fellow sub-waiting patients that they, too, “go in peace.”

Notes from Sub-Waiting