George Michael

On Sunday I mooned about the house, watching various George Michael interviews, listening to his music.  I’ve said before that I’m blessedly ignorant of authentic, deep loss.  I’ve lost pets but I’ve been lucky enough to go through life with those humans who are closest to me enduring and thriving in life.  2016 was somewhat notorious for lobbing so many barbells at so many people.  For the most part, the Lj’s dodged the tough stuff until the end of 2016 when school started again, Trump won the election, then the world seemed to go crazy on its ear with violence and nonsense.  And, to add to the craziness, we lost people who mean everything and nothing to the world.  Carrie Fisher was a big deal.  Prince.  Bowie.  Cohen.  But then George Michael.  Oh my goodness.  George Michael.  He’s what finally made me sink.
Wham: Make it Big was my first album, like, ever.  I loved that Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go song.  I bought the record at the Pay-n-Save in north Everett along with Whitney Houston’s first, big album.  I felt so grown up.  I memorized the album, loved it, danced around to it in my room a lot, but didn’t think too terribly much of it, even when my friend Tricia got on the bus one day after school, bemoaning the tragedy of Wham’s breakup and whatever was Andrew Ridgeley to do now?  

George knew.  He recorded Faith.  I bought the cassette at the Payless in the Marysville Mall, and afterwards studied it at the nearby Dairy Queen.  It was soon after stores started putting cassette tapes into these huge plastic cases to make stealing the music a challenge and the cashier didn’t remove the case so it looked like I stole it.  I think.  Because a cop, eating his food in the next booth, came up and started questioning me about my tape, accusing me of stealing it, telling me he knew I was a thief, threatening to take me back to the store to return the stolen property and call my parents.  I was horrified.  I produced the receipt but even then he continued called me a liar.  I felt dirty and persecuted.  Misunderstood.  But more than anything it made me really curious about this music and more determined than ever to give it a listen.


A kid named Ricky lost his copy, once, in 8th grade during our choir trip to Leavenworth and tried to convince me that mine was his, loaned to Steve by him and from Steve to me, but no way.  I fought a cop for my copy.  I stood up to a cop.  This was MINE!  It was sacred by then and by that time it was too late: I was in love that voice.  Ricky was going to have to buy a new copy because mine wasn’t going anywhere.

If Faith was when I fell in love with George, Waiting for Time made my love for George eternal.  I received it in my stocking, Christmas of 1990.  There’s this crystalline moment, right after Christmas, during my senior year, where that album played in my ears and became a permanent part of my life soundtrack.  We were cross country skiing through the Wenatchee Forest with snow falling thickly, piling up on my hat, hushing the entire world around me.  It was holy in and of itself, but then Something to Save came on in my ears and it remains one of the most pure, joyful moments in nature I’ve ever experienced.  Every time I pop my earbuds in and go for a hike or jog, I’m chasing that moment.  

I never turned on George like I did the New Kids.  Weeks before I left for Europe for a several month journey abroad, I bought the newest album, Older, and brought it along.  I also had other, cooler music and I really debated on whether or not I should bring George along.  However, on the night in Paris when my boyfriend broke up with me, I didn’t turn to the Pixies or James or Red Hot Chili Peppers or even the Indigo Girls for comfort.  I wanted George.  I sat on the balcony of our little hostel room, overlooking the lights of Paris, with George Michael in my ears, nursing a broken heart and a bottle of wine with his help.  

When I was pregnant, I convinced Bradley that George was amazing.  We drove around for nine months in our 1979, buttermilk colored Volvo station wagon listening to his greatest hits album, his cover album,Older, Patience,  to his older stuff.  When I was in labor with Guinevere, my favorite, most serene, most memorable moment is holding Bradley’s hand, breathing through a contraction and hearing I Can’t Make You Love Me in the background.  Beautiful.  


And scandal schmandal.  I could give a fig about his public-private life and when it happened it just released him to finally be who he really was.  That is what life is for.  I was glad for him.
I never loved George like ‘that’.  I never wanted him for my own.   He was never my crush, but damn if I didn’t love him.  Losing George has been hard in a surprising way.  It catches me off guard and suddenly there I am, crying over a man who I didn’t know at all but somehow knew very well.  He was there reliably for many important moments in my life.  The world was lucky to have him.  I sure miss him.

I wrote this shortly after George’s passing, but today, as he was laid to rest, it seemed appropriate for me to finally say goodbye, too.❤

Tamara SHA-zam!

I have just loved dedicating my spare life minutes to myself over the past few years.  Duh, right?  But seriously.   Any stress I felt feels like it was centered around my drive to eat better or hit my workouts more cleanly.  To go faster or farther.  That is fun stress to have!  (I’m certain it wasn’t the only stress…  lol). It’s productive and when I get home after a good workout- I feel alive and full of beautiful, clean energy!  I love it.  Then hitting the kitchen afterwards for a terribly delicious, run-hunger driven meal.  And if runger isn’t the best seasoning I don’t know what is.

I miss knowing I can run for a really long time.  Right now I know I can run about 3-6 miles if I need to, but my training distance is around three miles and  my push is around five.  My knees are bruised purple and swollen, lately.  I’m a little worried that crawling around on my knees over the past two weeks at school on kid projects caused some serious damage.  On Friday they were purple with little tennis balls puffed up over the top of each one.  I rested them up a lot over the weekend with ice, heat and rest, and they look and feel much better, but I’m concerned that maybe  I have real damage now.  My hip hurts, my shoulder hurts and my knees hurt.  Are longer distances still in my future?  I think it’s finally time to ask hard questions of my doctor.

I want to run right now.  I want to hike.  Spring has sprung and I want to run like a jackrabbit along with it right up the mountainside.  I’m cautious about working out over spring break, but hopeful that I can make something happen that will help me to remember myself and start moving forward, back to my fit, active self, once again.

Hot Chocolate 15k 


Man-oh-man!  When I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k I kind of thought that I should push for the farther distance because I could always walk if I had to.  Boy, am I glad I gave myself that leeway!  I have not trained as much as I have in past years this year.  I don’t run during the week, I exercise very little except on the weekend and I am just not in the shape I was last year.  So I walked.  I walked more than I have at any race and I was totally okay with that.  I decided that of the nine miles that make up the race, I think I walked about a mile of it.  That mostly came at the end when my thighs started cramping and my hips were screaming for me to be done already.  Turns out that even walking that distance without enough training hurts, too.  Nevertheless, I persisted and LOVED IT.


Last year, while I was very critical of some aspects of this race, after a year of races I realized how well organized, how well staffed and how beauful this race is.  Once again, I ran through the streets of Seattle, past Pike Place Market, across the Aurora Bridge and almost to Woodland Park Zoo.  This year I did three things different to make it better:

  1. I decided to pony up the extra cash to have the swag bag and bibs mailed to us.  It wasn’t cheap, but by the time I added up Seattle parking and gas money, it was a pretty even trade (14.99 shipping each).  Plus I didn’t have to manufacture a family event around going to Seattle to pick the silly things up or waste the whole weekend driving back and forth to Seattle for this race.  I heartily suggest anyone get the delivery to dial back the stress.
  2. Last year my jacket was too big so I hated on the race for that.  Silly, huh?  This year I ordered a smaller jacket and I loooove it.  They have the best running swag from almost any race (My Better Half and the Iron Horse shirts are a close second).
  3. I brought a friend: Gigi!  After the race it was so nice to see my girl at the finish line.  Then we collected our chocolate cups, our medals, our water and pictures together.  After that?  We regaled our glory tales about the race to one another while we slurped down our hot cocoa and noshed the banana, together.  And climbed the parking garage stairs together….  well.  Not really.  I was way slower than her!

The best moment came when we were driving home, though.  Like last year, I made sure to head home via the very bridge we just ran over.  There’s something powerful about taking the bridge by foot and then seeing it through the windows of your car that is absolutely delicious.  As we crossed she turned to me and said that she loves running.  She said that there’s something powerful and deep that happens when you run that makes you own a place differently.  She said she felt more connected, somehow.  She owns our city, now.  Like I own it.  As she said this to me I felt tears rush into my eyes: she knows.  She’s in the club.  This is her city and my city, now, and we will be running that race again, next year.

Shhhhhh…  for the next couple of weeks it’s ridonkulously cheap to sign up.  Never to early to plan your fitness and health!

A return to Zumba and Variety

It’s been eye-twitchingly overwhelming lately. Literal eye twitch happening as I write this. Life. I haven’t been taking care of myself in the way that I have over the past few years this year. I mostly attribute that to my job right now. I’ve alluded and implied that I have a particularly heavy caseload of students this year and it’s finally gotten to me to the point that it’s pretty much all I have the energy to do: work-mom-wife. Running is something I get to do on the weekends but because it’s only once a week it feels weird. I worry that I’ll injure myself if I push too hard without the consistent training, everything has been dialed back. I’m not eating clean or even close.

Last night two things happened: my son had a birthday party laden with sugar and my bag of summer clothes arrived from Old Navy.  This morning I woke up bloated from a salt and sugar binge, tried on my new clothes and declared that it’s time. I worked too hard to let my belly start poking out again.  Furthermore, I feel kind of sickly and gross.  Unhealthy.  Gigi mentioned that she’d like to work on a six pack for summer and Bradley has built a bigger circumference than he likes.  We all want to tune up for summer and it feels so good to have a team.  I’ve been approaching my project from my own perspective and no one else’s for a long time now.  It’s been my schedule, my exercise, my food choices that heave lead our family’s health for a while.  It’s nice to have the input of others for a change.

Gigi asked if we could do a workout video today and it actually sounded like a lot of fun.  I was thinking a Pilates video or Jillian michales kind of thing, but once we started looking around, we realized what we really wanted was Zumba!  She told me that she loved dancing with me last year and wishes we still did that.  I’ve been so focused on running that I totally forgot Zumba.  It’s not always the best for certain injuries I have, but today I realized how flexible and limber I was when I was doing Zumba.  Throughut the duration of our workout, I felt uncoordinated and have forgotten how to flow as a dancer.   I also remembered how much FUN I have doing Zumba and realized how much I miss it.  
Then I realized how much diversity in fitness is a bit necessary for me.  I need variety: running, hiking, lifting, dancing and any other thing that seems interesting.  This awful, wet, Washington weather is keeping me inside and making me cranky.  I don’t mind rain but all the slick mud is too much for me, so remembering Zumba is such a gift!  I can do quick videos!  I don’t always have to go for a full tilt run.  Variety!

The following is most of the workout Gigi and I did today.  We did a few more songs than this, but we didn’t love the routines so I left them off.  But these?  Have fun!





Lucky

I was lucky enough to get to run with my kids to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year.  We donned our rainbows and green gear, hopped out of the car and the hail started up right away.  Then the rain.  We dashed back to the car for gloves and jackets then headed back to the start line a little better prepared.  I love festive races like this when people dress up.  Somehow it’s more fun to run amongst a bunch of people dressed as leprechauns than it is to run alongside plain old runners!  Ha!  On the way out of the run on our way back home I even saw one of my favorite instagrammers, costume_runner, who was running with her daughter.  Somehow it’s extra fun to see people whom I follow on Instagram, live and in person!


We ran the Kirkland Shamrock Run once before, several years ago. We had a good time, but when we finished we all commented that the hills were something to take notice of. That if you didn’t train on hills that this race could be a challenge. We weren’t wrong. As we headed across the start line and past downtown Kirkland, there in front of us loomed the biggest hill. I mean, we weren’t even half a mile in and suddenly, there we were, running up a giganto hill. Runners became joggers, joggers became walkers and walkers became mouth breathers. Jude, for his part, told me that ‘I’m not doing this run again next year!’ He crested that first hill, decided to skip it next year, then became more determined to skip this race altogether, forever, as he climbed each hill after. That was a medal well earned!

The Art of Nothing

I’ve been practicing sitting around over the past few weekends.  That may seem weird, but it appears that I’ve kind of forgotten how to sit around.  I haven’t had a banana pancake day in years (banana pancake days are those last minute days in bed of doing nothing, as described in the Jack Johnson song…).  Without realizing it, my goals of being a determined person who avoids procrastinating and is a do-er not a say-er or poseur leaked into every aspect of my life.  I don’t really allow for a whole lot of slothfulness, as though I’m trying to chase all of the deadly sins away.  


When I say this, I mean I pretty much don’t sit down until I’m laying down in bed.  Obviously my work day is spent on my feet, but when I come home I’m the same.  I come upstairs, change my clothes, take a shower and head down to make dinner.  Once dinner is made and served, my family will often sit down to play a game or watch something or craft or whatever, but I just fidget with stuff. When I’m in the kitchen I fidget with cleaning things until it’s all clean then I bake something and clean up after. Or make a bunch or freezer meals. Or lunches. Or sweep piles and tiny bits of trash into my dustpan on a stick, as though I work in Disneyland or something. I think to myself that there’s always a job to do, always some steps to get, always a way to make my tomorrow easier, there’s alway another lifehack that I can employ and when I run out of jobs I make them up.  I should reorganize my craft cupboard, make cards, go for a run, plan a hike, write a blog post, call my mom, play a game with a kid, text someone, make crafts….  the list goes on.  And on.  And on and on and on.  It’s getting ridiculous.

I read this post about being a teacher and the stress it adds into my life.  Basically, it said that teachers worry, overthink and make a bazillion decisions every day without letting it show.  All of that internalizing your real thoughts in favor of diplomacy results in an energy suck that zaps teachers of a lot of energy.  I’m very disciplined in many aspects of my life- work, health, diet, lifehacks- and it’s wearing me out.  Add to that an exceptionally large and challenging workload and I REALLY need to prioritize myself a little more.

I’m getting crushed by systems.  Expectations.  I’m getting crushed trying to keep up.  It’s time for some more nothing.  Today that meant that I forgave my planned run and literally stayed in bed all morning reading news and cuddling with Freddie.  Last Sunday I watched tv with Gigi for two hours in the middle of the day.  The little things.  They’re beginning to show me how much they matter.

Trail Tales

Quick pics and stories from recent running events.  Not overly thrilling.  Just life.


On Monday morning the kids and I all converged downstairs, sleepy and puffy, laughing because we were all dressed exactly the same.  We knew it was happening, but when we saw it in action we giggled.  I love these people and love that they run with me.  Jude and I proudly wore our medals while Gigi left hers at home and just wore the sweatshirt.  We are getting to be quite the threesome.  🙂 


Gigi and I have fallen in love with running on the Burke-Gilman trail lately.  It is flat, wide and goes on forever through interesting terrain.  This day, Sunday, we noticed the river was ridiculously high and flowing fast.  The porches of the houses near the river were getting pretty close to splash level.  I wondered how much they worry about floating away; how often worry has been valid.  We ended up going a mile and a half further than we intended, but we were pretty okay with that.  


These people passed by me and, I swear I’m such an old person now, I remarked at how pleasant smelling they were.  Because seriously- runners who pass me rarely waft flowers and perfume.  The guy fell back and paced with me for a bit and we learned that we were all training for the Hot Chocolate 15k and he was training for a marathon in Kansas.  Mostly I loved that being elderly, apparently, allows me to butt into people’s lives and I met some cool people!  I’m totally looking out for them at the race.  I doubt I’ll see them, but it’s nice knowing they’re in the crowd.  It’s nice to know I pass as a runner.  


Saw a bunch of these fellows.  They made me hopeful that the groundhog was wrong.  Spring was ripe on Saturday.  Ducks were doing their dance, squirrels were all over the trail, robins were pulling worms- the world seemed alive and fresh.  I’m happy to see our Canadian Geese friends.  I know they’re poop machines, but they remind me of where I grew up and twice a year when the acreage behind our house would be covered, beak to tailfeathers, with hundreds of geese honking.  Welcome back, friends.  Hello spring!


Today’s run wasn’t as wonderful.  We were a bit tired.  The weather wasn’t as pretty and we had a different start point.  We were planning to run eight but headed back at three, six was fine with the both of us.  Next week we will get our eight.  Today it felt like dog years just to get this far.  And ‘just’ six?  Hello??  That’s decent mileage.  Where is my perspective presently??


While running today Gigi looked over at me and saw my age; my grey temple hairs sparkled just right in the sunlight and caught her off guard.  

“Mommy.  When did you start getting grey hairs?!”

I’ve had them for several years, but I remembered that moment, too.  When I saw my own mother’s mortality evidenced in the salt and pepper that was showing more and more in her honey, brown hair.  Gigi started getting teary so I told her that it’s been almost two years since I’ve gotten my hair colored.  The silvers are more evident than usual.   She told me to get it taken care of.  That she doesn’t like the message those silvery harbingers are forcing upon us.

And I had to tell her the strange truth of getting older and how it seems impossible to live away from your parents, but that time and life chip away at that powerful link until it almost seems like you could stand on your own two feet if you had to.  You never wish for it, I don’t think you’re ever ready for it, but you know you could.  If you had to.  

And that’s when you know you’re a real grown up.

She got teary again and asked more about what would happen if I died.  Who she’d stay with if both of us died?  What should she do if one of us wanted to remarry and they hated the newbie?  So we had that weird conversation until she said she was done, but is glad to know about all of this horrible stuff.  I changed the subject and asked her about her wedding.  I’ve never asked her and I found out she wants a gigantic, princess, pouffy skirt.  Her bridesmaids will wear yellow and she’ll wear her veiled tiara as she walks the aisle to a Taylor Swift song.  So simple, sweet and cute when the groom is nowhere near figured out.  

The things you talk about on the run with the daughter.  Treasures.

Better Half Pictures


One of the things I love about Orca Races are the free pictures!  Thing one about pictures that I always wonder about is who actually buys them?  I mostly just want to see them.  Like to prove YES I DID!!  Plus, we pay so much for the races that it just seems like it shouldn’t be that big of a thing to pony up a photographer for the morning, right?  So Orca gets it right, in that regard.  You can download the pictures and repost them to your heart’s content, so I did! 


The kids and I all laughed to one another about how awkward the picture moments are.  Are you supposed to look at them and smile?  Too arrogant?  But the unposed pictures look so gross!  So then I remind them of how I always pose, always smile and the photographer often says, “Yeah, I got you.  Keep going,” and then get incredibly unposed and unflattering pictures of myself.  So now I run with that weird Julia Roberts, half-smile on my face so I look like I’m having a good time but not like I’m trying too hard.  Race politics.  I’m telling you.  The photographer adds a legit level of awkward stress!


In the end, Jude and I each ended up with two finish line pictures while Gigi had about ten total taken of her.  At first I was all confused about why and creating conspiracy therories about why until I remembered that she went around the loop twice, after all of the 5k peeps were finished, and gave more opportunity for photos to be taken.  And man.  She looks like she’s flying in that first pic!  And Jude’s sweet little cheeks!  Proud mama, here.

The Reset


I posted this picture to my Facebook on Saturday with this caption:

This girl made some seriously lofty goals for the month of February, immediately failed at meeting them and took a major nosedive into Apathyland. I cannnn’t! Waaaah! I hate it! I want to eeeeaaat! More excessive whining and attempting to give up than should be given credence. I ate a lot of chocolate (while also eating clean) and didn’t care too much about working out even a little. I got my steps sometimes, but I whined and complained as I did it. I’m attempting to hit the reset button (again) with an active weekend. Running and training for all those races I paid for. Anyhow, this is me trying to be back. Shouting into the wind that I CAN DO THIS! Time to make some more accessible goals.  

I’m trying.  I’m fighting anxiety, depression and a pretty intense workload, but I’m trying.  I decided to see a mile as a workout.  A trip around the block as worthwhile.  Babysteps and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things.

My Better Half


We had an early rise and shine this morning as we started our official race season with the My Better Half Marathon (and 10k/5k).  Last year I was so lonely racing. I met friends there but once you cross the start line and start running, you’re pretty much on your own.  I don’t like to pace with anyone as I hate to feel like I’m holding someone back, so the celebration at the end is usually a lonely affair with me grabbing swag and scooting to my car asap.  This year I cut my race quantity in half so I could bring a friend to my races.  I spent just as much on enrollment but I’ll have a kid or two with me on each race!  

Today it was all three of us; I ran the 5k with Jude while Gigi ran the 10k. Last year Gigi won first place and a blanket for the 10k, so hopes were high as we headed out.  We knew there were prizes for the top three in each category, but also knew that little kids were more likely to run the 5k, so Jude probably wouldn’t win, while Gigi had a fighting chance; not many kids sign up for the 10k.  Jude trucked around there, chatting it up with fellow runners, sharing information about races he’d run prior…  yep.  He was ‘that guy’.  I finally had to tell him to let people focus as the lady he was talking to was gasping for breath and there’s this little chatterbug next to her asking questions a million miles an hour…  but goodness he was cute.


We reached the end faster than anyone expected.  Jude was surprised at how easy three miles felt after sufficient training and declared that he loves races, medals and running, but made it clear that it’s only fun at races.  Training is not fun but he’s willing to do it for the bling and bragging rights of races.  He let me know that he is interested in running the 10k next year.  My proud mama buttons kinda burst right then.  And if they popped then they sure flew themselves across the room when both of my kids placed third in their age divisions!!!  They each earned a cupcake to nibble on tonight.

I make no secret of my love for Orca Races and ran a bunch of them last year, before I became a running ambassador.  Our next one is coming up for St. Patrick’s Day: The Kirkland Shamrock Run!  You should come, too, and if you do, use my code: tamarashazam17 for 10% off!