First Day Back!

Today was my first day back at school. We don’t have students until the ninth, but the teachers have to meet to talk about important things for several days before the kids come in.  Of course.  I had an excellent day.  It’s kind of funny because when I consider summer ending and starting working, I kind of freak out and dread going back. I think it’s just getting back into the swing of things though. Everything always smooths out And starts to fall into place once I get going. 

 A prime example is the above photo.  Not my grinning ‘first day of school’ mug, but the lunch shot.  The top picture is my lunch on the counter this morning before I packed it*. The bottom picture was at the very end of the day when I picked up my lunch bag and realized it still had quite a lot of stuff in it!  I’m not usually one for denying myself calories or food. I generally try to live by the rule that if I’m hungry then my body needs something. I’ve learned enough about myself over the last couple years to understand the difference between eating for entertainment and eating for nutrition. My habit at work is to eat as I get hungry and I snack all day long.  My students are also allowed to eat as they get hungry.  

This morning, before I left for work, I had a coffee, a granola bar and a veggie sausage.  For my midday snack at about 10 AM I had half of the grapes in my bag. At 11:30 we broke for lunch and I ate my veggie chik nuggets along with my carrots and hummus.  After that, I never returned to my lunch.  I feel like being distracted by work is so beneficial to my ability to keep my calories in order. A schedule and consistency do a world of wonder for me.  What I’m celebrating here is not the denial of the intake, rather finding the balance between the munchy habit that I developed over the summer and the actual caloric needs that my body has.

Along those same lines, I had a conversation with a colleague today that really illustrated why it is helpful to have community support and people who are going through similar transitions.   My friend, Jessica, mentioned dieting fatigue during lunch today.  My mind went bonkers because I totally know what she meant. She said that when summer got going, it was really hard for her to maintain focus and, furthermore, she really didn’t care to. She felt a bit bored of dieting and watching her calories and working out all the time.  It felt so good to hear somebody else say what I’ve been feeling. After years of dieting and working towards this goal of weighing 170 pounds I’m a little sick of it, frankly.  Sometimes I want to counter that feeling by going balls to the wall like a bat out of hell and just get it all done!  Starve myself and work out for eight hours a day!  Of course that’s the exaggeration, but you know what I mean.  I’ll get pretty extreme for a little while and make some decent headway. But I think it’s also important to recognize the balance of that. It’s important to recognize when your body is worn out, when your brain is just exhausted, and you’re overwhelmed and tired of thinking about all the stuff. It’s important to take a break. That doesn’t mean that you can go totally off plan and go backwards, but it does mean that you can relax and focus on just maintaining your fitness while enjoying life at the weight you’re currently at.  I feel like that’s what some people in our group did over the summer.   I certainly did!  Kind of…

Two of the best things about going back to work today were:

1. A bunch of people came into my room for lunch today. It started out with me asking one person, but by the end of lunch there were a lot more people in there. I felt really good that so many of my colleagues consider me a friend enough to spend time in my room!  I have often felt quite isolated in my life and it was just such a pleasant surprise.  :)

2.  Several people approached me, or said little side comments to a friend or me, about coming to Zumba with my colleague group.  I’m of the mind that the more the merrier and as the community of dancers grows, so does our health and relationships.  Working out with my colleagues so often has been such a gratifying and unique experience resulting in friendships that have grown in unexpected places.

  
{pardon, derby run pic otd, served up, just for you}

My back has been really bothering me lately to the point that I stopped working out altogether in order to heal.  I spent the past week or so unpacking my classroom and alternating ice heat ice heat on my back while laying in bed.  But I’m freaking ouuuut!  I have an ‘official’ six mile run coming up next weekend and have been spinning my wheels worrying that I’m not keeping up with my cardio enough.  I couldn’t deal any longer after today.  I decided to just try running for a little while on the treadmill.  My intent was to get 15 minutes of cardio in order to maintain some kind of ability level!  I do want to Beat the Blerch, after all.  

Anyhow, 15 minutes of cardio started with ten minutes of chatting with my daughter about her first day of school and walking on the treadmill.  After that, I went for it!  I went up to 5.3 for 15 minutes and maxed out my run at 6.1 for three minutes.  It was really nice to run, but I felt the need to stop before I hurt myself, so I hopped on the stair climber and climbed two hundred steps before being done for the day.  Base2Space, here I come!

*okay.  OKAY!  I’m a total honesty nerd and I can’t let it go by with letting you know that this was not my lunch before school; this was the lunch I remade after school to look just like the first one I ate today because I couldn’t believe it so I needed to compare what I actually ate.  How’s that for a run on sentence??

One Week

I got a minor shock today when I suddenly realized it’s been an entire week since Bradley and I took the kids to a Great Wolf Lodge.  It seems like we just got back the day before yesterday!  I was surprised when I logged onto my website to see that I hadn’t even posted about it!  Or anything else, for that matter!  I must be busy…  Isn’t that always the truth, though?

We are packing the days as full as we can. We’ve been hiking, we went to Great Wolf Lodge, we are shopping, creating, beaching, swimming, painting bedrooms… All of those things that go away with the warm weather and long, empty days that are replaced by blustery ones that are bustling with school and activity. This was a fantastic summer. We called it a staycation because we didn’t have a big vacation planned outside of visiting family. We were lazy and self centered. We did what we wanted, when we wanted and I haven’t felt this free and unencumbered in years. The vacant, ‘boring’, summer was one of the best and most healing things we have allowed ourselves in years.

  
While we were at Great Wolf, I decided that it was my moment to trust my body, strap myself into a harness and conquer my fear of heights for once and all!  Mind over matter and all of that good stuff!  I had looked into a ropes/zip line course elsewhere and learned that the bill would be over $400 for my family to go. At GWL, it cost 12 per adult and 10 per kid-or thereabouts- and if you’re wondering, no.  Entry wasn’t included in the room cost at the Grand Mound location in Washington, but compared to the $400 I would spend elsewhere, it seemed like a steal.  

I did awesome!  I was so proud of myself!  I promised my ego that I would go on a zip line and I would attempt a tightrope on the second level.  I zip lined within ten minutes of getting on the course and, full of cocksure bluster, courageously climbed the stairs to the second level where I almost instantly grabbed hold of the support column and hung on for dear life and couldn’t let go (the levels were about the same as a house, so it was like standing on a two-story house’s roof but with just some ropes under me).  I started having an anxiety attack, even as I tried to let it subside, and had to go back down to the first level.  Have no fear, though because after about 30 minutes on level one, I took on level two, with zip lines!  Then Bradley convinced me that I could, indeed, do the third level- yes, like standing on the roof of a three story house made of ropes and air😳.  I got up there, crossed two slack lines and suddenly caught sight of the ground 45 feet below me.  I grabbed hold of the nearest beam and started up with the anxiety again, except this time there was nothing anyone could do for me, no stairs were nearby, I had to pull on my big girl panties and walk the line, literally.  

I tell you what- I was like the wind, getting across those two ropes, down the stairs and out of my harness! I was all done.  I loved it, but it was pretty stressful.  I’m proud of what I did, but I was glad when it ended!

 
Other than that, my days have been filled with my classroom.  We had a nasty windstorm that knocked our power out for a day so I got all busy producing all kinds of materials and posters that I never usually have time for but admire longingly.  It felt good but I was over my smelly markers and glue sticks when the power came back on.  I shouldn’t have complained- several of my friends were without power from Saturday until Monday evening!  Today I finished unpacking my classroom (!!!) and actually started making it homey and cute.  It feels soooooo good to be ready for the year.  Last year I had four days to unpack before I had kids in the room.  This year I sorted through every single box before tucking things away; I feel organized, prepared and ready.  That’s a good feeling.
What’s not a good feeling is the one that’s in my back.  Packing and unpacking boxes does no favors for my back. The past two moves I have done have made an horrible impact on my shoulders and back, and now whenever I get into moving mode my back starts acting up. Ever since I’ve been back in my classroom, ever since the return to my ridiculous boxes, again, I also have the return of my back and armpit injuries. I’m now thinking that my ‘boob related’ injuries have very little to do with Zumba and everything to do with moving since the past two years of moving have resulted in the exact same injuries at the exact same times in similar places when I’m doing the exact same activities. Suffice it to say that I’ve been laying low and not working out a whole lot. That makes me nervous, but I’ll get back into the swing of things as soon as the year gets rolling. 

Humbled

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I have to admit that, yes, the glamour of climbing the Space Needle is what made me want to participate in Base2Space, not the cancer research or fundraising. Everything is true, when I found out it was to benefit cancer research I realized I could do this to assuage the personal difficulty I’m having in dealing with all of these young, healthy people who are being diagnosed lately. It’s really been bothering me, prompting appointments to the doctors for screenings and such, but the Base2Space climb didn’t start there. It sure seems to be ending up there, though.
I posted my ‘Wahoo! I’m climbing for cancer!’ post to Facebook and my website with the hope that someone would donate to the cause. I expected that a few people would donate, I know I have donated to friends and family in the past through similar circumstances so I assumed they would do the same for me, but I was surprised by the humbling emotions that came rolling in with my donations.
First, people donated in honor of loved ones who are with us and those who are not anymore. I don’t know why it surprised me to have names attached to my climb, but suddenly it feels like they will be with me on the climb. Suddenly it matters, what I’m doing. I’m incredibly honored to carry their name for my climb and am thinking of making a Base2Space shirt with the names of all the people I have the honor of climbing for- both the ones who I already dedicated the climb to and those who have money donated in their honor.
Secondly, people believe in me. They believe I can climb to the top of the Space Needle so strongly that they’re willing to give someone else money to guarantee that I have the privilege to do so. It makes me see that I’m no joke. People take me seriously and appreciate what I’m doing, or at least believe in what I’m doing. It’s so validating in some way that it makes me a bit speechless with surprise.
I’m humbled by this whole process in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.
If you’re interested in donating, you’re welcome to do so. Here’s the link, again, in case you missed it the first bajillion links. I’m not at my goal yet and can use some more financial support if you are able and willing. I’m not going to be like a PBS drive and don’t plan on hawking it all the time here. I know what it’s like to not have the finances to support something you really believe in or the ability to do so for one reason or another. I also appreciate your positive words, kind thoughts, comments and all that. Really, I appreciate that you read here at all. 😉

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A good friend’s mom passed away unexpectedly and I spent Thursday evening with her, walking down memory lane through our home town. It’s funny how so much changes and it still seems the same. We stood outside her childhood home and remembered the smells and sounds of our shared childhood. The moon just so in the sky, the sound of the train blowing it’s whistle as it rushed through our little town… We headed to our old elementary school and stood on the stairs remembering waiting for girlscout meetings to begin and smelling the back door to the gym smell of soured milk where the food was delivered and marveling at the freedom we had, walking several blocks to school as kindergarteners and first graders (she lived within walking distance of 4, or so, blocks while my mom would drop me with my friend when we overtook her, and I would walk the rest of the way with her). It was so powerful, how quickly in those quiet moment of stillness, observation and letting go and we were right back there. It felt the same as it did in the 1970’s and 1980’s right then. For me it was comforting, for her it was overwhelming, but I loved that night. Sometimes those raw, bare moments are the most honest and we let down all of our walls and get to return to who we were then. She and I picked up our friendship as though we were 20 again and were sharing a dark, little basement apartment. I’d never wish for the trigger of her mother’s passing, but the night in memorial was beautiful, strange, magical, connecting and filled with love and appreciation. Peace to my friend, her mother and their family.

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{Vamping}
Other than that, things are going well. The kids and I have been having fun as we wear down the nub of summer. We all have one week left and are determined to pack it full. I think we are being pretty successful! I’m also doing lots of classroom prep, lots of unpacking boxes, and I’m glad to say that it’s going well. As much as I was dreading the moving process, it’s actually going smooth. Lastly, ever wonder what happened to the novel? I became a grouchy, working mother who didn’t have time to play with the kids and who started snipping at them instead of loving them. I felt tremendous pressure to write for hours each day, so I dropped it for the time being. I’ll get ‘er done later when they’re bigger and don’t want to sit in my lap anymore. For now, I’ll take their bony little butts over my iPad any day- summer or not.
Oh! And I still am weighing in well and getting my running in. :)

Base 2 Space Climb

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Well, I went ahead and did it! I’m climbing the Space Needle on October 3rd!!! I signed up as a ‘trotter’, which means my miles are in the 10-12 minute mile range. I originally thought that I would only get to climb to the first deck which is about halfway up the Space Needle, but I’m actually climbing up to the very top!!! And do you want to know something? The top fundraisers get to walk the halo of the Space Needle! That’s the outer ring, without any security around it, using only carabiners and rope to hold you on. Shiver! That said, if I manage to be a top fund raiser, I promise to do it. And on the off chance that my name gets drawn for the random privilege, I will shakily make my way around the halo, just to say I did.
Like I said previously, I’m not just climbing for the sake of climbing. I know an unnerving number of my own peers, family members and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. Yucky, scary cancers that make them all stop in their tracks to start something unexpected and uninvited. Suddenly we all have to fight, and those of us on the outside, who are close enough to know details but not close enough to be directly involved, are spinning our wheels with a desire to unobtrusively help them but without an outlet to do so. This is my outlet. I’m climbing to the top of the Space Needle for all of the fighters and survivors who I walk this earth with and in memory of those who fought hard and only live in our hearts, now.
If you are able and willing, please consider donating a few dollars to my fundraising campaign. Any amount is welcome. This link will take you to my page where you can donate using your credit card. You are also welcome to give me money directly and I will make the donation in your name on my page. Thank you all for your support, be it monetary or as a cheerleader!

Bellevue

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It’s getting a bit harder to keep up with my exercise. We’ve been focusing mostly on running and hiking, lately, and I’ve been supplementing that with unpacking my classroom. On Monday we did the weirdest urban hike ever in Bellevue. It’s called the Lake to Lake trail and parts of it were just beautiful, through the woods, by Lake Sammamish- just gorgeous! But the trail was intended to connect many of the parks in Bellevue, so in transit from one park to the next we’d be cruising alongside busy roads, through neighborhoods- it was weird. It was like I drove to someone else’s neighborhood to go for a run! That said, it was mostly flat and easygoing, so I got some good running done on it. (Strava has a new feature that pauses automatically when you stop. As a mom with kids, we stop a lot and Strava, my tracking app, has become less and less reliable and drops the GPS all the time. I still use it but no longer rely on it for accurate mileage or times.)
No matter what, I’m doing something right because I weighed in at 204 today. I’m totally on the right track.

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Today I made my maiden foray into my classroom to unpack. I went alone, so I was pretty focused and un rushed, and I was amazed at how much I was able to accomplish! I would say I’m 3/4 of the way to being moved in, and then I just need to make it pretty. I moved so much that by the time I got home I had racked up 14,000 steps! Busy much?! I was starving when I got home!!!
While I was in my classroom, my friend Elizabeth stopped by for a visit since she was in the area. She was on her way from being in a bod-pod, as she is also working through a weightloss project. If you don’t know, the bod pod is a newer measurement tool that gives a pretty accurate measure of muscle/fat/bone/tissue ratios. As a formerly obese person, it’s difficult to use traditional methods to figure out how much fat I actually am. Those tools that pinch fat to measure don’t work because I have so much loose skin. I also have more muscle than the average bear because I was carrying around so much fat for so long… Things are just different. I’m hard to read accurately in the traditional ways. Anyhow, I found out that I can go in one and get measured for only $75! I’m thinking of asking for that for my birthday. It would just help me to be a realistic goal setter for a good goal weight for myself and it would answer a lot of curiosities about where I’m at as a fit person.

Hike Happy

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After the realization that we have neglected to hike much this year outside of St. Ed’s, we decided to hit the trails a little harder this week. The day after Lake 22 I was really feeling the hike in in my legs so I knew it was a good idea to keep on climbing the hills! We managed to get a hike in to a local beach, one more at St. Ed’s, and then the clouds opened up and dumped on us for the first time since I don’t know when as we were headed to a hike in Redmond. Despite the rain, I decided I was still going running on Friday until I saw lightening touch down in the ravine behind my neighbor’s house… That kind of curbed the idea of a run and I ended up getting my mileage in on my treadmill! The same for Saturday- I was able to squeeze in 20 minutes, but I made those brief minutes count by running them consistent and, for me, hard- I did almost two miles at 5MPH/10 minute miles with a little walking for warm up and cool down.
Our goal for the rest of August and September, while the sun shines, is to hike as much as possible whenever we can. I really wanted to hike Rattlesnake Ridge/Ledge, whichever one. I also would like to explore up north in Skagit and Whatcom counties. When we lived up there I was quite heavy and missed out on many hikes I would have liked to go on.
As far as official events go, I have a few things coming up this fall. On September 13th I’m running the Beat the Blerch 10K in Carnation so I’m busy training for that. I can easily do the mileage, but I want it to feel practiced and like a breeze. Isn’t it funny how I can do it, which is an accomplishment in itself, but now I want to do it better? Silly.
On October 3rd I think I’m double booking two events. First will be the Celebrate Schools 5K that contributes it’s money directly back to my school and district, depending on how many people run it. The more people who run representing Oak Heights Elementary, the more money we will get directly for our school! I’m hoping to really promote it this year and get a lot of people involved (hint hint)!!!
Later that day I’m hoping to be one of the inaugural stair climbers at the Base to Space climb up the Space Needle. This is the first year they are opening it to the general public so it seems like something fun to have on my resume of activities. I will have to raise $250 for cancer research in addition to the $100 entry fee, but in light of the plethora people I know who have been diagnosed with horrible, disgusting cancers in the last two years, as well as those who have been fighting even longer, I think it’s more than appropriate. So Dawnelle, Gary, Curtis, Genevieve, Brad, Johnny, Lawrence, Cynthia and the rest of the fighters and survivors, this one will be for you.
(I will post the link for anyone to donate to my climb once I am officially registered- I’m waiting to make sure I can do both of the events, timing wise, and I thank you in advance if you can support me in any capacity.)

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I had to share this super simple and yummy, healthy recipe that I got from Gigi’s 4th grade teacher in exchange for the few minutes I spent painting on the school mural- an excellent deal. It’s called ‘Creamy Cherry Tomato Sauce’ and all you do is roast a batch of cherry tomatoes with a little garlic powder, onion powder, salt and a small amount of olive oil at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the tomatoes look wrinkly. Put them in a blender, bullet or use a hand blender like I did, purée it, add some basil, then season it to taste. We ate it over tortellini with sides of Caesar salad, garden salad, fresh green beans, pan seared carrots and more garlic bread than anyone should have access to. We had a small dinner party, obviously… Lol! I thought, however, that this would be really good with the vegetini spiralizer that spins zucchini into pasta, and if you garden, at this time of year you have more cherry tomatoes and zucchini than you know what to do with. Enjoy!
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Lastly, I want to draw your attention to a new favorite blogger named Skinny Meg at www.skinnymeg.com. She’s another warrior who has lost over 100 pounds, but her focus is mostly on muscle build and fitness now. I don’t find too many weightloss bloggers who stick with it for long periods of time. Weightloss is tricky and has so much shame attached that when we fall, we fall hard. If you have a blog and fall off the wagon, I guess the blogs just disappear along with the writer. Meg has droves of journals that go pretty deep into her past, lots of info and I just got all inspired by her! I’m particularly interested in her leg/hip/butt workouts… So check her out if you need more weightloss/fitness blogging goodness!
This is her, rocking the single leg workout! I have a lot to learn from this lady!!!!

Lake 22 (Again)

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We hiked up to Lake 22, in the Verlot Service Area outside of Granite Falls, on Tuesday. As much as we love to hike, it was difficult to get up the oomph this summer and head to the mountains. Our hiking was pretty local and stuck to mostly shorter, city hikes at local parks. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just like to get out to more secluded places. They’re where I get all goose bumpy and holy feeling. It’s goofy, I know, but I feel clean and pure after going in the woods; there’s something cleansing about it for me. I’m hoping we can hit the hills a few more times before the summer’s up.

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I get a really solid calorie burn, too, when I hike. I know this because I test my heart rate often and I’m in the fat burn zone, I’m breathing hard and my muscles feel it while we are on the trail. I mention this because often times I think people talk down hiking like it’s not serious business; like it’s just a walk in the woods. It is fun and it is just a walk in the woods, but you’re gaining pretty solid altitude at a pretty decent clip which results in a decent cardio workout. We aren’t running up the hill, but we don’t meander, either. I’m amazed that my little seven-year-old Jude can go so quickly, uphill on uneven terrain like he does. The rocks you see under our feet are pretty consistent on the entire trail; it can be pretty wearing on your joints and feet traversing those rocks for 2.7 miles each way. I suppose he earned the name ‘King Kong Mountain Goat’ for a reason when he was a toddler! :) Anyhow, I just wanted to give props to all my people out there climbing hills and feeling tough for doing it. It’s not a small feat!

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I woke up this morning, just as sore as anything. My calves were like rocks and took some serious rolling. I took the day off, kind of, and did getting ready for school tasks while also hanging out with my kids. I’m going to miss our lazy days, but today we all admitted that there are definitely things we are looking forward to about going back to school. But before then, more hikes! I think we are heading out somewhere tomorrow!

Countdown

My lazy summer just got a swift kick in the rear. I finally sat down to look at the calendar and faced the reality that August is swiftly slipping through my fingers. Man! That was fast! I mean, it wasn’t, but doesn’t it just seem like there’s never enough of this part? I guess that’s what keeps us working in toward more of this family time bliss!

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Today my task and my cardio were all about the paint. It worked. My back was sore by nightfall and required I an Aleve the next morning when I woke up in my completely repainted room! I promised myself that by the end of summer I would paint my bedroom a super yummy turquoise color that was just on this side of daring. Goal met. Bradley gave me carte Blanche to make it as girly as I wanted, and I make no apologies. I’m severely nuts about turquoise lately and I wanted to do the 1980’s pink/coral accent bit with the bright turquoise. I like the paint right now but I’m not nuts about the picture configuration on the built-in and I kinda wanna do wallpaper on that window wall. Who woulda thought? Certainly not me. I’m also ready to hang pictures up, but totally not into poking holes in my walls just yet… But I seriously love to lay in my bedroom just looking at my day-glo walls. :) Also seeking out the perfect bedding now… I feel lucky. :)
Other than that, I’ve been getting classroom materials purchased and prepared. Last year I didn’t plan curriculum and got my room ready instead. This year I’m starting with the curriculum so I feel prepared, no matter what, when September 9th rolls around and my second graders are looking at me expectantly. Sheesh… Can it be so? Am I actually looking forward to teaching this year?!?!? Woohoooooo!
Totally. I’m hating on all 200 of those stupid boxes I have to unpack, but I can’t wait to meet the new crew of people whom I get to love on for nine months!

Swift

The universe seems to be telling me lately that I need to work my thighs out, or something! First it was the SUP (Acronym for Stand Up Paddleboard). Balancing on the board for three days made the backs of my thighs feel a little tight. Then I went to booty camp last night and Camille has incorporated some new songs and dances into the routine. One of them was dancy, one of them was a cool down, but the killer was a song with four reps of 16 burpees followed by prolonged wall sitting. The song was fast so the 16 burpees were like power burpees. I didn’t have time to jump, but each time I came up I was able to see Camille jumping in midair, so I know I was able to at least keep up with the reps, even if I didn’t jump. I never knew how much one needs the thighs for burpees, but yesterday… Damn.
Today I followed that up with a guilt run. Meaning, if I didn’t do it I would feel like a slacker, so I ran to not feel guilty. I started with a walk with Gigi and after I dropped her back at home I decided to get two or so miles of running in, but then I came around the corner on my run home there were my boys on a walk, deep in conversation about Pokemon, so of course I had to walk a bit with them to catch up on the happenings of the Poke-verse before I finished it out. My times are all over the place, but it felt like this was a good exercise day, even without the consistency.
The good news out of all this is that I got on the scale this morning and found that I was able to maintain, at least, and I weighed 206. I was really worried that after a week of travel and eating off plan a bit that I would have skyrocketed back up to 212 or something. To see my weight resting where I left it felt pretty good. I just need to keep on moving forward!

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Later in the afternoon we made our way to sushi, then to Swiftie! My daughter has been a fan of Taylor Swift since she was three years old and we happened to buy the Fearless album at a record store that was going out of business at the Everett Mall. Our kid doesn’t have a time in her life that is bereft of a Taylor memory, so it was appropriate that her first ever concert of her choosing was Ms. Swift. I have to say that it was predictably amazing. The lights, the dancing, the singing, the costumes and the fans were all pretty incredible and showy, but what I really loved about the concert was how Taylor brought all 60,000 of us in close and talked to us like we were all girlfriends. She took a sold-out show to 60,000 people at Century Link Field, where the Seahawks play, and made it feel like we were at one of those local, small bars with a singer who looks into your eyes and speaks to you as though she seems to know you. She talked about how important it is to be cool (FYI: not important) and the value of true friendship. She talked about watching out for yourself and seeing when people aren’t healthy for you. She talked about kindness and love. Mostly she just loved us, if that is possible, and made us love her that much more. It was a perfect concert for my girl. Gigi was just beautiful and so full of joy as we watched her idol own the stage with dignity, grace and sheer awesome.
I believe she is what we need more of- that modeling of acceptance, love and kindness for our world. I know it’s manufactured, I know she’s a brand, I know she and her team know exactly how they are manipulating us, but if Taylor is intent on manipulating my world into a kinder, gentler and more loving place, you can count me among her followers.

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I wasn’t going to say anything or point anything out, but I clearly have a gut in that outfit. The fact that I wore that tight shirt speaks volumes, however, regarding my self image. I’m like, “I have a gut right now. BFD.” Whereas before I would have been trying to manufacture a million gut-camouflaging strategies to hide it. Instead, who cares?! 😀

The Equipment Balloon

A friend of mine has a husband who is an early adopter of recreation. Like, he surfs, but also kite boards. He canoes and kayaks, too. He bikes, runs, swims, participates in marathons, 5K’s and triathlons like they’re no big deal. He just seems to embrace every sport, or at least, try out every kind of outdoor recreation that looks interesting or challenging to him. As a result, he has what she calls an equipment balloon. Her balloon is a clothing pile that grows and shrinks next to her side of the bed while he has an equipment balloon in the garage that grows and shrinks with boards, bikes and training equipment as he moves through his different foci* and interests.
Now, I could understand the clothing balloon. I have one too, except it lives in my closet, stuffed into random drawers, making for a really fun Monday morning from time to time, but an equipment balloon that diversifies out of one area of interest? Nah. Like I said before, I really thought that once I picked running, that was it for me. All I needed was a decent pair of shoes, a good bra and some running pants and I required no balloon. Not me. Then I got a bicycle. Then an elliptical. Then a Bowflex and stairclimber and a stationary cycle and a treadmill and now I want to add a spin bike and cross country skis and snowshoes…
I think I have an equipment balloon and it definitely likes to expand. In fact, I’ve taken over the garage,as well. Wanna guess what? Right now I have my eye on one thing in particular.
I want a paddleboard.

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I have seen the adds for paddleboard rentals all over Groupon and Living Social this year. I’ll admit to being curious, but I truly expected to get on one and immediately tip over, so I decided to save my money and pass it by. But I was really wanting to try one. Out of the blue, my mom sent me a text and told me she bought two paddleboards at Costco this spring in case anyone wanted to try one at their lake! Stars aligned and I was going to get to try one! I seriously looked so forward to riding this thing like it was going to be the highlight of my summer, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m totally in love.
I watched a video of someone using one before we left for my parents place in Idaho so I was able to act like I was a pro despite being a total neophyte. The paddleboard and lake were cooperative as I stepped from the dock to the board and just started paddling out to sea. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to keep my balance on the lake. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the lake, the all the way across it, among the lily pads and milfoil. I know it sounds gross, but it was beautiful in that late-August, golden summer kind of way. The sun was pink and all I could hear were my kids splashing in the distance, frogs croaking, crickets chirping… And there I was, standing still in the middle of it all. It was an experience parallel to hiking, for me, which I often describe as sincerely religious. A little later during my maiden voyage, I stood in the dead center of the lake and watched the sun fall behind the mountain. The forest fires had snuffed out the sky from Ellensburg to Sandpoint, and as pollution intensifies sunsets, it was absolutely ahhhhhmazing with the spectrum of color. I know I’m really gushing, but sometimes life gob-smacks you and you have to pay attention.
The next morning, Jude and I explored the lake together, paddling clear across to the opposite shore. While we were there we heard an impressive coyote jamboree of extravagant yips and howls. At first it sounded like monkeys, but this is the Idaho panhandle, not the African jungle! Coyotes!
The next time I was able to go it was quite windy and the water was choppy with a few waves. The rougher the water is the better your work out on the paddleboard will be, so I was pretty excited. As soon as I stepped on the board, the wind whooshed me backwards down the lake, pulling me in it like a sail. My daughter had the same thing happen and she was stuck in the reeds, so I rescued her and, together, we paddled together like a canoe on my board while pulling hers back to the dock. If you’re wondering, no, it was not easy having two people on one board. Balance is key to stability, and having two people rowing while also balancing proved tricky but possible.
I, then, decided to really get a calorie burn in the wind. I decided to paddle as far as I could into the headwind on the lake, then I wanted to turn around and let the wind push me back to the dock. I made it quite a ways, almost across the lake, when my arms started getting tired while my thighs and the arches of my feet started to cramp from dealing with balancing on the choppy water. I successfully turned around and was able to kind of use my oar as a wind-rudder of sorts (before it almost made me fall) as I sailed back to the dock. It was awesome but tiring. I woke up sore the next day, which is a good sign that I actually got a workout doing something so marvelous as this. :)
Tamara+paddleboarding= true love

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We headed to Silverwood Theme Park while we were in Idaho and my husband caught me thoroughly enjoying the Tilt-a-whirl… Ha ha ha! I’m not sure I’ll be going on that too much more often…
*Actual plural of focus– I looked it up.