Every Crayon in the Box

Every Crayon in the Box

Living a colorful life.

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Orange you glad you tried?

December 2, 2012

I was out of commission for a few days this past week. I was down for the count. I had an outpatient procedure and things are fine or “in the clear” as the doctor said; a couple of biopsies which I’m sure will come back normal…

I’m pretty stressed. I’m in limbo, again, not really sure what’s going to happen next with my career – things look promising, but I’d like to be settled so I can keep getting the help that I need to move forward with triathlon training.

I got myself back to the gym tonight and I swam for an hour and a half. I was pretty proud of myself seeing that I’ve been feeling like I’ve had better days lately. But all was well, including a half an hour of swimming nonstop tonight.

And I thought – I can do this. I can keep training for triathlons. I love to swim. I love to bike, not so great on the run. So what’s stopping me from moving forward, from keeping on to keep on?

Orange you glad

 So I look at the above photo – I retrieved it from the ‘net over the weekend (it may have come from Joost Lindeman)- and I think, yea! You just need to keep going, Margie. Who cares about limbo, you can still run. After all, what’s the point in not trying?

Then I was driving home tonight and I heard P!nk’s song Try. I love P!nk; so many of her songs resonate with me.  When I got home I looked at Try’s lyrics.  Maybe the song’s about being in passionate love with someone and fear of getting hurt, but there’s a verse that speaks to a strong desire to just try:

Ever worried that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry?
When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
Are you just getting by?

Um yea I’ve been getting by. I’m tired of it and I don’t want to muddle in it anymore. Limbo or not I’m going to, once again (like we all have in our lives), pick myself up and walk, er run, peels and all. Time to put the running shoes back on the pavement, stop being so scared, feeling “burned…”

…like they say in one of my favorite movies, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

The only real failure is the failure to try. And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. We came here and we tried, all of us in our different ways. Can we be blamed for feeling that we are too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We get up in the morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters. But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes. Because as someone once said…

…everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then trust me,

it’s not yet the end.

So true so true.  So I tried tonight and I swam a nice long distance. I enjoyed it, immensely. I’m glad I tried. I’m ready to keep trying or “tri’ing” (had to put that in here somewhere) because, well, I want to.

If there’s something in your life you’ve passionately wanted, whether it’s having a mate, a child, something on your bucket list , what is keeping you from doing it, from checking it off your list? Are you disappointed?  You tried? Well keep trying. I know I will.

And then you’ll be able to tell yourself, in the end:

Orange you glad you tried?

Getting Ready for the Naperville Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. Hey!

August 3, 2012

Preparing for the Naperville Sprint Triathlon on Sunday reminded me of the song “Little Talks” from Of Monsters and Men. Great song. It fits how I feel and is very colorful – full of orange, blue, black and white.


Lots of mixed emotions in my next triathlon journey, kinda buried, kinda not.

We’ll see how it goes.

Read more at In Fitness and in Health.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Today is not just a color but a line

July 16, 2012

… a black-line, in swimming that is.

I discovered that I cherish the black line at the bottom of the pool. It guides me in swimming and provides the ultimate direction:

to the other end of the pool.

I have to stop looking for that black line now. I need to focus on seeing almost nothing underwater except a bunch of cloudy legs and rely on my instincts to guide me in open water swimming.

Read more by clicking HERE to go to In Fitness and in Health, where you can’t have one without the other.


I seriously suck at running

July 13, 2012 1 Comment

I do. I seriously suck at running. I try. I keep going. I just plain old don’t like running. I know I’ve mentioned it before but running is just so…out there.

Like Phoebe from Friends: “HERE I AM!!!”

It’s all psychological, really.

Please read more about struggles in running at my In Fitness and in Health blog. Hope you get a little laugh out of it.

That’s the fat guy on your shoulder: a story

June 17, 2012 6 Comments

I hope everyone had a most wonderful Father’s Day today.

I lost my father way too early. He was 56 years old when he passed away, due to advanced complications of Diabetes.

He was (IS) the most charismatic man I’ve ever known. He always had a story to tell, something to say, a phrase for us to remember. He was the patriarch of FOUR GIRLS. I am the oldest.

Today I went grocery shopping. When I was checking out the cashier noticed my tattoo. I have a significant one, I suppose, on my upper right back, close to my shoulder. The cashier said: “Oh my God I can’t believe your tattoo! It is so cool! It looks like someone just stamped it on you! You’ve gotta love the Buddha.”

mirror image

It’s a Hotei, actually, and I’ve really wanted him tattooed on my back for a very long time.

Before I actually got this tattoo I researched it for quite some time. It wasn’t a matter of IF I was ever going to get a tattoo it was WHEN I was going to get it done. I have super sensitive skin and I break out in a rash if I wear cheap jewelry.  I can wear a silver necklace for about 4 hours and end up with a necklace rash for the next week and a half.

So I carefully researched my tattoo, looking at the different inks, making sure that they would not give me an allergic reaction of some sort. I really wanted this:

I photo edited him a little bit so he had less hair but I really wanted a version of that on my back. As soon as I found out that some of the colors in the image were not going to work with my skin I sadly kept working on what I wanted.

I found a Hotei that I could live with:

and I edited it with some butterflies:

So no it’s not a stamp it’s a real tattoo that I got at the ripe old age of 41 and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

This spring my trainer was working on a back spasm and I told him that I needed to get some areas fixed on the tattoo, like more orange in the butterflies and a bigger smile on the Hotei. We kept talking while he was torturing me and all of a sudden he said:

Yep. That’s the fat guy on your shoulder.

Then it dawned on me: my tattoo represents MY DAD. I knew the butterflies did – the butterfly story is an amazing, personal, spiritual one and needs to be properly published. The butterfly story transcends time. The butterfly story IS my Dad. But it did not dawn on me that my desire to have the Hotei on my shoulder was my Dad, too.

Hotei 布袋. Male. The god of contentment and happiness, guardian of children, and patron of bartenders. Hotei 布袋 has a cheerful face and a big belly. He is supposedly based on an actual person, and is widely recognized outside of Japan as the Fat, Laughing Buddha. He carries a large cloth bag over his back (Nunobukuro 布袋, lit. = cloth bag), one that never empties, for he uses it to feed the poor and needy. It includes an inexhaustible cache of treasures, including food and drink. Indeed, the Japanese spelling of “Hotei” literally means “cloth bag.” He also holds a Chinese fan called an oogi 扇 (said to be a “wish giving” fan — in the distant past, this type of fan was used by the aristocracy to indicate to vassals that their requests would be granted). Hotei is most likely based on the itinerant 10th-century Chinese Buddhist monk and hermit Budaishi (d. 917), who is said to be an incarnation of Miroku Bodhisattva (Maitreya in Sanskrit).

The Hotei is not my Dad because of his belly it’s because of his jovial attitude and joy, surrounded by people. Dad gave me the best in life, he was generous, giving and NEVER pretentious.

So Dad, I hope you can see the fat guy on my shoulder. He’s happy, he’s got butterflies and he’s looking out for me. Because of you, Dad I keep going – I swim, bike, run and keep challenging myself. Because of you I remember that

it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.

I miss you Dad. I LOVE YOU FOREVER.


Today’s Color: for Oscar the Grouch

June 4, 2012 3 Comments

Today’s color was definitely Asparagus, but not because of the vegetable. I picked the color Asparagus today because it is the closest color in the crayon box that resembles the “fur” of Oscar the Grouch.

I LOVE Oscar the Grouch. I remember watching Sesame Street when I was little and I always wanted to know what he was holding down in deep dark crevices of his garbage can. I hoped it would be fun in the garbage can, that he had a little bedroom, a kitchen, a living room and maybe even a 70’s style TV down at the bottom.

I think MTV should get smart and do a Cribs show on Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can. OK I know I’m too late with that suggestion.

But mostly I thought of Oscar the Grouch today because yes Oscar is grouchy at times with his classic “SCRAM!!”  but he LOVES trash.

And sometimes we love our trash too, physical or emotional.

As I’m getting closer to the triathlon next weekend I’m thinking about all the trash I’ve accumulated in my brain and I’m hoping with this experience some of that trash will end up in the incinerator where it belongs. But I still love trash. I want to see Oscar’s trash in his garbage can because there could be treasures in it.

Just think – how much treasure is in our trash? So many good things can be in trash, things that are good for the earth like our discarded summer fruit. Compost. Recycle, upcycle. And I’m not talking about being a dumpster diver I’m just talking about the goodness that trash can bring to the earth, to thank it for being there and for giving it a purpose…

…and for the ability to let go of both physical and emotional trash.

Have you ever thanked your trash? Crazy, maybe but really there’s something to learn from it

Today’s color is Asparagus, because it’s the closest color to the fur of Oscar the Grouch. I’m definitely ready to get rid of some trash this weekend.

SLIMY  the worm [after reading Trash Gordon]: “Read more! Read more!”
OSCAR THE GROUCH “Uh uh. Sorry, Slimy, time for sleep now. So close your eyes and dream of all the wonderful Trash that’s yet to come.”
[to the camera] “You too. There will be more Trash tomorrow.”

Revisiting the Camel Toe: in SHOES, that is

May 3, 2012

Well, it looks like a lot of people are still checking out my old Chicago Now post : a quirky opinion about running shoes via my manufacturing background. To THAT I have to say THANK YOU. Mille Grazie.

Yes, there are soooo many types of running shoes out there now, and Vibram Five Fingers are still going strong.

There are more shoes that speak to the barefoot running movement even still, and it looks like Nike has created a few hybrids of the original “camel toe” shoe that look a little nicer.

One of the shoes that Nike has “upgraded” from its original camel toe version is called the Nike ‘Air Rift Basic’ Sneaker. There’s also the Nike ‘Free Gym’ Training Shoe. Both of those have the original “split toe” design.

Then they still have the Nike Free Run which boast a “super natural ride.”

Sidebar: when I first got on the training wheels for triathlon training (and I STILL am), the sides of my legs were the first to be impacted. When I worked with my trainer, probably the SECOND best thing I did was work on a square rocker board. When we first started out with it he asked me if I grew up bow-legged. I was like, ummm no…but right away I could see what he meant: I was working the board on the sides of my feet.

Then in another session  he mentioned how his track coach in high school told him to remember to run like his feet were like a pterodactyl’s, meaning, making sure three points of contact on the bottom of your foot were touching the ground, forefront first:

After that, I spent weeks in training working on my feet, watching how they landed during the run. Even walking to work I was thinking “tripod tripod tripod” to make sure my big toe and both sides of my feet were making contact with the ground.

It totally worked.

Then of course I started getting plantar fasciitis which I could live with because I felt like I was correcting my running technique. Eventually the PF disappeared.

So what’s the point? Other than we’re not Pterodactyls? Running shoes are extraordinary. I’ve seen industrial designers first hand go to work on different creations. I’ve seen prototypes of some amazing design at work in the sporting goods industry and witnessed the finished product. The amount of thought and energy that goes into the design of these running creations is pretty spectacular.

What I’ve learned as a beginner in this triathlon adventure is that picking out the right running shoe is important. You may be able to run in Vibram Five Fingers, or FOOTWEAR HAVING INDEPENDENTLY ARTICUABLE TOE PORTIONS or you may not. For me I think they would cause more harm than good. Although I run in a neutral shoe I didn’t start that way; I needed much more stability at first and I went through a handful of Saucony STABIL’s until I got to my Karhu Fluid’s.

Now my precious Fluids are going obsolete and the last two pairs are cutting into my ankles. It’s time to try something new. So many brands have captured the barefoot and / or the “natural” approach; I think I might go to REI and try out a pair of the new Merrell Barefoot Run Dash Gloves.

The “Camel Toe” post has been good to me but it’s time to move on to more evolved breeds.

We shall see what happens next.

March 26, 2012

Every Crayon in the Box:

Thank you for sharing!

Originally posted on Books, j'adore:

There are some books you pick up and you just know the story is going to be about you. You may know the author so well you feel he or she is a kindred spirit. You may have read the book a hundred times. You may love the topic of the book so much that there’s no room in your heart for anything but acceptance and understanding. I have encountered a number of books like this over the years – these are books that don’t change your life so much as reinforce that the path you’re on is the right one. For me, Bingham’s memoir on becoming an “adult-onset athlete” is one of those books.

I’ve been enjoying his articles in Runner’s World since I started running myself in October 2010, and when I saw that he had a book out, I put it on my Christmas list along with

View original 706 more words

To kettlebell or not kettlebell: part 3

November 21, 2011 2 Comments

Now that endurance athletes are in the off-season, they are starting to work more on overall conditioning. As a beginner triathlete, I started doing kettlebell workouts. I started researching the effectiveness of kettlebell as functional exercise online when I encountered a Google+ conversation with Chris Brogan , who was using kettlebell workouts in his fitness regime. A highly spirited online conversation ensued with lots of comments.

In that conversation I was referred to Jon Haas, owner of Warrior Fitness. I am pleased to introduce Jon as my guest this month to discuss the benefits of kettlebell training. 

To kettlebell or not kettlebell? Here’s part three of a three part series on the use of kettlebells for conditioning, not just for endurance athletes but for everyone:

Q: What are the benefits of kettlebell workouts to those who have more sedentary jobs (i.e. sitting in front of a computer or in meetings all day), how do kettlebell workouts improve posterior muscles, etc.?
A: Every activity that we repeat consistently causes an adaptation in the body.  The critical thing to note here is that it does not matter at all how we value this adaptation.  It can be something that we want like how healthy exercise increases lean muscle mass and burns excess fat, or it can be something we do not want like how eating junk food to an extreme causes our body to adapt by putting on weight.  Both of these are examples of activities that cause adaptations in the body.
Sitting at a desk hunched over a computer for 8 to 10 hours a day also causes specific adaptations in the body.  Physical adapation follows the SAID principle, so our body to adapts to the demand placed on it by sitting for extended periods of time.  The common rounded back, slumped shoulders posture accompanied by low back pain, stiff neck and shoulders is an effect of the daily “exercise” of sitting.  In order to bring our bodies back to balance, we must perform exercise to bring the body back to a straight, natural posture.  This is where posterior chain exercises like kettlebell swings is valuable as it helps to compensate specifically for the typical office worker posture.

Q: What are the benefits of kettlebell workouts to endurance athletes?
A: As we discussed last time, kettlebell training can be used to target all 3 of the body’s energy systems, the two anaerobic systems and the aerobic.  This allows an endurance athlete to maintain high levels of conditioning when running or training outdoors may not be an option, especially during the off-season.
Additionally, kettlebell training is a great form of general physical preparation (GPP) for an endurance athlete.  Building a strong foundation of GPP creates a base from which sport specific skills and attributes can be more easily learned and trained.

Q:What are some of the common mistakes people make with kettlebell programs?
A: I think some of the common mistakes people make with kettlebell programs are the same they make with any other type of fitness program.  The most common being lack of programming where they are simply doing too many random exercises with random set/rep schemes and no real idea of how to progress towards a goal.  Random exercise selection produces random results.  Don’t leave it to chance!
On the other side of the coin, you have those who stick to one set of exercises and never incorporate any variety.  This quickly leads to stagnation.  The body follows a principle called SAID – specific adaptation to imposed demand.  So after 3-4 weeks on a program as the body begins to adapt to the demand imposed by the exercises, the results begin to slow down, taper off, and then stop – you basically reach a point of diminishing returns.
Another big mistake people make with kettlebell programs is what I call the “magic bullet mistake”.  This is where someone fixates on one particular fitness tool, kettlebells in this case, and thinks they are the answer to everything.  There aren’t any infallible super tools, programs, or exercises – they all have flaws.  For example, as an Underground Strength Coach, I use kettlebells extensively in my training, but not exclusively.  While kettlebells are an awesome tool for strength and conditioning, remember that they are still only one weapon in the S&C arsenal.

Q:Do you think using kettlebells is just a fad or will it stick around for a while?
A:I think kettlebells are here to stay.  More and more people are training with them and experiencing the unique benefits and challenges that kettlebell training has to offer.  For me and my clients, kettlebell training will always be a staple.  I’m sure many other coaches and trainers around the country and around the world feel the same.

Q:Give us a few more advanced sample workouts
A:Thanks again to my good friend Eric Chasko, owner of Redemption Kettlebell Gym, for putting together these 2 advanced kettlebell workouts.  Eric can be contacted through his Redemption Kettlebell Gym website or blog, Closer to Awesome.

Workout 1
1) Double Kettlebell Front Squat – 5 reps
2) Double Kettlebell Clean – 5 reps
3) Double Kettlebell Swing – 5 reps

Perform 3 to 5 rounds with no rest between rounds.

Workout 2
1) Double Kettlebell Clean and Press – 5 reps
2) Pull-ups – 5 reps
3) One Arm Farmer’s Walk with heavy kettlebell (active rest)

Perform as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes.

Thanks, Jon, for the interviews and the 3 part series!  I have learned a lot.

You can find Jon Haas at http://warriorfitness.org/.

To kettlebell or not kettlebell?

November 7, 2011 2 Comments

Now that endurance athletes are in the off-season, they will start to work more on overall conditioning.  As a beginner triathlete, I started training using some kettlebells last month. I started researching the effectiveness of kettlebell training online when I encountered a Google+ conversation with Chris Brogan, who was using kettlebells in his workout routines. A highly spirited online conversation ensued with lots of comments.

In that conversation I was referred to Jon Haas, owner of Warrior Fitness. I am pleased to introduce Jon as my guest this month to discuss the benefits of kettlebell training. 
To kettlebell or not kettlebell? Here’s part one of a three part series on the use of kettlebells for conditioning, not just for endurance athletes but for everyone. Here’s an interview with Jon today:

Q: Jon, why did you start Warrior Fitness?
Jon: The idea for Warrior Fitness, as it exists today, began almost 10 years ago while I was working as a business consultant in the financial services industry.  The job involved about 80% travel and we usually worked 10-12 hour days, long after the client had left for the day.  Since most of the work involved sitting in front of a computer, or in meetings, for long stretches at a time and eating out on a daily basis, I began to put on a little weight and develop low back and neck pain.  I realized that I needed to do something to help compensate for the periods of inactivity, but long workouts simply did not lend themselves to such crazy work hours.  I began to formulate brief, yet intense workouts in my hotel room using just my bodyweight and usually a chair or two.  After discovering kettlebells, I usually brought one along in the trunk of my car as long as the client was in driving distance.  Daily joint mobility work helped to keep all my joints lubricated and using yoga asana (postures) after workouts, or as a low intensity workout of their own, helped to abate muscle soreness and compensate for the training, as well as for the hours of inactivity at work.

As my ideas gradually formulated, and the resulting benefits increased, I began to share my fitness and conditioning discoveries with friends, co-workers, family, and students.  My knowledge and experienced deepened as I read books and articles on sports science, experimented with fitness protocols, and applied these on both self and others.  My book, Warrior Fitness: Conditioning for Martial Arts, is the culmination of my experiences.  But, it hasn’t stopped there; I recently became a certified Underground Strength Coach under Zach Even-Esh so that I keep learning, growing, and evolving as a fitness professional and a person.

Q: Ha! That actually sounds like some of the research I do for myself (I’m a total geek) – the reading up on sports science, that is, but I’m not sure I have what it takes to venture out on my own.

Q: How did you learn about kettlebells?
Jon: I was first introduced to kettlebells through a Russian friend who was teaching me Russian Martial Art back in 2001-2002.  At the time I was just starting to seriously get into strength training and he turned me onto Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor who basically kicked off a fitness revolution by reintroducing kettlebells to America.  I purchased my own kettlebell soon after and begin integrating it into my fitness regiment.  When I began teaching and coaching friends and clients, kettlebells, along with bodyweight exercises, were the implements of choice.

Q:What are kettlebells exactly?
Jon: Kettlebells, if you’ve never seen them before, look like cannonballs with handles on them.  They are an awesome tool for building real world, functional strength, flexibility, and power throughout a range of motion.

Q: Why are kettebells so effective for training?
Jon: The advantage kettlebells have over a more traditional form of weight training, such as dumbbells for example, is their displaced center of gravity.  Due to the unique construction of the kettlebell, the weight is not centered in the middle of the grip like a barbell or dumbbell, so it feels heavier than it actually is.  The leverage disadvantage of the kettlebell makes it more difficult to employ, thus providing a greater training effect.

Q: How do you recommend starting off in kettlebell training?
Jon: I think the best way to get started with kettlebells is to learn from a qualified fitness professional who was experience using kettlebells in his (or her) own workouts and with clients.  The basics are the most important and are the building blocks of an effective, and safe, program.  Don’t rush through them, take the time to learn them correctly and continuously improve upon them.

Q: Suggested kettlebell weight to start off with?
Jon: The usual recommendation for women to start off with either the 9 kg or 12 kg kettlebell, depending on strength and athletic ability.  For men, it is recommended to begin with either the 16 kg or 24 kg kettlebell, again depending on strength and athletic ability.  The 24 kg is the standard issue in the Russian Military.  But these are just general guidelines.  Remember that there is a definite learning curve to working with kettlebells and that due to the off-centered weight distribution they will feel heavier.  Keep your ego in check and start off with a more moderate weight to learn correct technique first before moving on to a heavier weight.

kettlebell swing
Q: What is the most important exercise to do when using kettlebells?
Jon: In my opinion, the most important exercise to do when using kettlebells is also the most basic, the swing.  Swings are an excellent way to build the posterior chain, basically all the muscles you can’t see in a mirror.  The hamstrings, hip flexors, and back are weak areas for most people and kettlebell swings are a great way to attack them.  Swings are also incredible whole-body movement for building amazing cardio strength and endurance.

Q: How often should one use kettlebells in a week?
Jon: I find that 3 times a week is usually good.  Having a day or so between sessions allows the body to recover from the intense effort that is kettlebell training.

Q: Will kettlebells cause women to “bulk up”?
Jon: Short answer?  No.  Kettlebells, like all other forms of weight training will strengthen and tone women, but will not cause them to bulk up.

Q: Are there any people who should not use kettlebells?
Jon: Kettlebells can be effectively used by almost anyone to achieve greater levels of strength and conditioning.
 Thanks, Jon, for the interview and an intro to kettlebells! Using kettlebells is a great way to improve overall conditioning for anyone looking to improve their fitness.

Stay tuned for part 2 of 3 !

You can find Jon Haas at http://warriorfitness.org/.

We’ll keep training.

(Read Part 2 of 3 by clicking here.)


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