Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Know You'll Think I'm Crazy...but What Else is New?

I need to let you in on a little secret. I just got back from a run. A nice 5 mile run. Easy pace. What's the big deal? I left my shoes at home. See here they are right where I left them.

Why would I run 5 miles barefoot (actually I was in socks)? First let me say that I have been working up to this. I didn't just go out today and do a quick barefoot 5er on a whim. The full secret is that I have been working in a few runs sans shoes for a couple of weeks now. But again, why would anyone run barefoot at all?

The short answer to why I would run barefoot

...I needed something extreme to motivate me back into my running... 

and here's how that motivation came about.

First, I needed something to kick start my motivation for running after now what has been a full year of stops and starts in my running efforts. I'd lost my running buddies as they continued to run for the past year without me. And starting a running regime by yourself is not really that fun, especially when you know how fun your old running group was. Hence the low motivation to be committed to just myself.

Second, I heard Christopher McDougall speak recently at our fab community college. McDougall is out peddling his new book, "Born to Run" and I, with a few of my old running buddies, showed up to hear what he had to say. Here's a quick summary of McDougall's talk:

After seeing McDougall speak, I got the book...just to see. I'm a reader and I like nonfiction and I love stories of people doing way-out-there things. So this seemed to fit perfectly on my book shelf. And I have not been disappointed. The story is very interesting, peppered with very colorful and REAL characters, and McDougall's arguments for barefoot running are very persuasive. And they are supported by MANY running experts, exercise physiologists, physicists, doctors and much more.

I know McDougall has on those snazzy Gladiator sandals in the video above, but I don't have any of those. Those were just for effect in the video, I think. He wasn't wearing those when he spoke with us.

And third, I am not afraid to try something new...and if it's not exactly mainstream, all the better. And guess what? My old running buddies are into it too! A few of them have been doing what I have been doing, sneaking in a few barefoot miles, just to see for ourselves. So I might be running with the group again soon.

Now I know this barefoot running idea raises many questions. But the main two questions that I am sure are on your mind are:

  • doesn't it hurt your feet?
  • what the heck are your feet going to look like after all this?

To answer, it doesn't hurt. Just like anything new, you start out slow and easy and clearly running on a nice smooth sidewalk or similar surface. Now if you hit a pebble or try to run on gravel, well you know that will smart. And you run "toe-heel" rather than "heel-toe" so the ball of you foot absorbs the impact shock rather than your heel. The book explains all of the physical ramifications of running with and without shoes. In short, our bodies were designed to run on our toes but our running shoes are designed to make us run on our heels.

And about what your feet will look like after barefoot running? My husband hopes not like a Yeti's. Soon I will invest in some running flats or sandals to fend off the curse of the Yeti feet, but until then my pedicurist just got a little busier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And When You Smile for the Camera, I Know They're Gonna Love It

Well, if you must interview was postponed. Apparently, the NBC crew assigned to my story was reassigned at the last minute to some more pressing, breaking news story. I can't imagine what that might have been. I watched the news last night and saw the same old stuff. But anyway, my story has been put on hold.

I was called, however, on Friday for a pre-interview phone interview with the producer. She was very nice and asked me all the questions that the reporter was going to ask me during the real interview on Monday. Apparently, they like to know basically what you are going to say before the camera is rolling so you don't throw the reporter a curve. And they also like to groom your answers a bit. The producer paraphrased a few things I said and suggested that if I was comfortable doing so, I could use her words. She was a bit more concise than I tend to be.

But I didn't get to use my words or hers yet since the interview was postponed. I should have known that the interview might be bungled when I received the follow-up email from the producer and it said, "Hi Stephanie..."  That's not my name.  But it was an innocent oversight, a simple cutting-and-pasting faux pas. She's knows my name. We got that straightened out.

Now I know you're dying to know what this interview was supposed to be about. My photography? My blog? My volunteer efforts? My oh're way off base.

The answer:  My teeth!

Huh? Yes, I had braces not too long ago and my orthodontist used a new cutting edge technology in orthodontia, SureSmile, on me. Dr. Moles was being highlighted by NBC for his use of SureSmile and the interview was prompted by The American Association of Orthodontists annual conference which is to be held in DC next week.

I am the After Person. After treatment, that is. Which is fine with me. I would not want to be the Before Person or even the During Person. Here's a picture of me as the During Person.

No one wanted to interview me then.

Oh I am so happy to be the After Person, not just for this (possible) interview but in general. I am so glad to be done with braces.

Braces are uncomfortable. Braces take away your enjoyment of eating. Braces make your lips puff out. I looked like Angelina Jolie for a whole year, only without the smokin' body, cascading hair, doe eyes and passel of children. Braces make oral hygiene difficult. Braces make kissing a challenge. Which I guess is why we like to have our adolescents (or pre-adolescents) in braces right about the time they discover that pastime. But as an adult, it really puts a damper on that activity.

By the way, these are not the things that the producer was paraphrasing. We didn't even get into eating, Angelina or kissing in my pre-interview interview. We stayed on the topic of SureSmile.

Anyway, now that I have experienced braces I will have more sympathy for my sons if and when they have these devices implanted in their mouths. I know how it feels. My memories are recent. But I will request SureSmile for them if that time comes as it reduced my time in braces by 6 months as compared to traditional orthodontic measures (face camera and give a big smile here.)  

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What's in a Name? Friday Flashback - Part 2

I know it is Saturday so Friday Flashback doesn't really work today but I don't know what else to call this. This is Part 2 of my Flashback from yesterday where I refresh your memories on the naming convention I use for my boys here in the blog world. This is the story of how Helios got this blog name way back in April 2009.

46 Pounds of Charisma

That's what my second son amounts to. I've always known he was a sweet child, very lovable from the start. But I didn't realize that he was magnetic until this year: Kindergarten.

He is one of those people that draws you in and makes you want to be near him, makes you want to be as good as he is, makes you want to be aligned with him, makes you happy just 'cuz he's there. There isn't any one thing that he's just him. His energy. His force. His charisma...such a grown up word for my little guy.

I have heard about charismatic people, great leaders, celebrities and have been around many in my life. But I never thought of how those people might have been when they were children. But there really are charismatic children. It is a trait that is born within some. They have it.

Charisma is derived from the Greek "kharisma" meaning divine favor. Clearly, charisma comes from above and the recipient and all those around him benefit. I watch my little guy subtly attract those around him, big and small, and they don't even know what's happening to them. They are swept into his world and he welcomes them and shares all the goodness that lives there. He offers support and praise to those around him. He wants them to try and do their best. He is genuinely happy for others' success. And when they walk away, back to their own worlds, they feel fuller for having been in his orbit. Like the pull of the sun. Can we call him Helios?

I wonder how he will use this divine favor. To what good will his goodness lead? I'll stand in the warmth he casts as I watch his charm grow.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's in a Name? Friday Flashback - Part 1

It's a Flashback Friday. I had a few questions after yesterday's post about the Indian names. The questions pertained to the blog names that I use for my boys. So to refresh your memory, here is the original post where I named my oldest son, Leonardo, way back on March 31, 2009.

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent

I like to keep some of my personal life private on this blog. I don't name names generally. There are few family secrets that I will reveal. I do respect the privacy of those actually in my real life. They could get really mad if I cross certain boundaries. And there's that whole piece where I still don't fully trust what's out on the web and don't necessarily like to think about some of the folks who might be on the other side of these posts. Most of you are fine...but there are some that we should all be worried about. So in the spirit of privacy protection and personal boundaries, I want to give some nicknames to the people in my life so that when I do need to talk about them, you will have a better but still vague idea of who they are. This post is devoted to my first born.

Let's call him Leonardo. One of his heroes is Leonardo DaVinci. Most of us think of art and the Mona Lisa when we think Da Vinci but really he was an inventor, scientist, mathematician, botanist, and so much more. He was unbelievably ahead of his time. I learned all about him from my Leonardo. My Leonardo is the smartest kid I know. And I am not saying that because I am his mother and I have to. He really is super smart. But not in the conventional, rock the 3rd grade, cruise through school kind of smart. He doesn't fit the mold of a model student who gets the high grades on everything in effortless fashion. He only tolerates school. He does get good grades, but he struggles with alot of it. His teachers don't view him as exceptional (in the positive sense) within the public school framework. But this kid knows so much more about anything scientific than most adults will ever know in their lives. Any topic: dinosaurs, the periodic table, fossils, space, space travel, electricity, you name it. And not just knowledge on the kid level. He can explain to you the chemical difference between water and hydrogen peroxide (now that I know that one, it's easy to remember, but the point is my 8 year old had to tell me). And the best part is...he loves all this stuff. He truly has a gift for scientific knowledge and understanding which I believe will take him very far. Set aside all his struggles in conventional education and he will knock the scientific socks (or thermal foot protectors, as he might say) off all of us one day. I wait patiently to see where Leonardo takes us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Takes An Indian Village

So busy recently. As I type this I am simultaneously changing the bed sheets, switching laundry between the washer and the dryer, browning ground turkey (it's 9am and the smell doesn't sit well with my coffee), doing all manner of preparations to start a marathon day of errands, multiple kid-related activities and completing final arrangements for TWO boys' birthday parties which fall within one week. Also, I am mentally preparing for my upcoming news interview that's happening this Monday (another blog post on that later...) and finalizing my business logo (you'll see it soon!) There is even more going on that I won't list here because I know you are busy too and probably really don't have time to be reading this anymore than I have time to write this, but I thank you for taking these few minutes to do so. 'Cause you know I do this all for you!

Anyway, in the midst of getting the kids out the door this a.m. and the husband re-assimilated back to life in the house (he's been out of town a lot recently so re-entry to domestic life always takes a few days of adjustment), I seek to add levity to the morning hustle. I start assigning Indian names to each of us. You know how Indians, Native Americans I should say, sometimes were named based on personal achievements of the individual. So this morning, Leonardo, my eldest son, was dubbed "Trail of Crumbs" as he can always somehow eat and you know he has been there by the piles of crumbs he leaves in his wake. Even when he tries to keep it all on the plate, there is meal debris left behind.

Helios, the younger, was aptly named "Stands with a Bad Attitude" for his, well, generally, bad attitude about most everything this morning. Don't really need to expound on that.

And hubby, was named (by the boys, NOT me!) "Farting Bull". I won't go into the details here, but if you live with a man, you can figure it out. Hubby upgraded his name to "Chief Farting Bull" since he is head of household (so we like to let him believe) and is always in charge.

And finally, Stands with a Bad Attitude with an earnest face says, "Mom, your name is "Trail of Happiness," and follows that with his sweetest smile. I think he was purely trying to get renamed or has totally mastered sarcasm. Maybe we should call him "Speaks like a Donkey Backside" instead. What do you think?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Up Close and Personal

Today I got up close and personal with Elizabeth Gilbert....yes, that Elizabeth Gilbert. The Elizabeth Gilbert of "Eat Pray Love" fame. She was in my little hamlet promoting her latest work "Committed" and was speaking at the community college. The up close part is that I was seated third row center. The personal part is that when I raised my hand during the Q & A segment, she looked at me, called on me and answered my question. That's fairly personal, wouldn't you say?

She looked like a writer to me. Her hair was a bit messy and her attire was casually comfortable. She was wearing little, if any, makeup and stylish but sensible shoes. All of this gave you the impression that she just stepped away from her computer, mid-sentence, to have a little chat with us.

She was engaging and genuine and well-spoken. She was funny. She was self-deprecating when it seemed appropriate. She was appreciative of our interest in her work.

Many of the audience members seemed to be under some sort of hero worship spell, but I don't think Gilbert cast the spell intentionally or even wanted it cast on her behalf. She seemed too real to be the type to languish in others' worship of her or even feel worthy of said worship. But it seems if you write a successful book about finding your own spiritual path, the lost masses think you can help them find their own path too.  There was an uncomfortable moment when Gilbert was asked by one particular woman how to commence her own spiritual journey when she didn't have the means to travel the world for a length of time to find herself, as Gilbert had done. It was sort of a "can you tell me who I am? 'cause I don't know" kind of moment. Gilbert answered gracefully, but I don't think the woman got the answer she was hoping for.

And just so you know, that woman was NOT the woman sitting in third row center. My question was directly about what she is working on now and had nothing to do with assisting me on my spiritual journey. That's a road you have to travel on your own.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You Spin Me Right Round...and You Die!

This weekend my husband hung a tire swing in the backyard for the boys. It is a huge hit. Good simple fun. As soon as it was ready, the boys clambered on and swung for hours.

Watching them swing brought back many memories for me. I seem to remember a tire swing in my childhood, but can't quite place where or when. Was it in our backyard? Not sure. But I know I did some tire swinging in my time.

And I also remembered that I spent some time suffering from motion sickness after said swinging.

I was reminded of this because Helios, my youngest, came inside after a long spell of tire spinning, nauseous, green-faced and woozy.

I warned him.  Don't spin, I said.

But he spun. Which is to say Leonardo, my eldest, spun him.

Helios slept for two hours to recover.

This reminded me of so many turns on the teacups, the merry-go-round, the Scrambler, the curvy Smoky Mountain roads that ended in retching for me.

Motion sickness is a curse.

I have been told it gets worse with age.  I believe it.

I participated in a yoga class the day after the tire swing arrived. After several repetitions of Sun Salutation, I felt queasy. I made it through the class but afterwards I was full on nauseous. I am a yoga wimp. No more Sun Salutation for me.

But with his motion sickness abated, Helios was back on the tire swing right after his recovery nap.

Only this time, he laid out some parameters: no spinning.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Abstinence Makes You Crabby

I know you are wondering how things have been going for me now that I have been disconnected and not distracted for nearly two weeks. I've been clean since Tuesday, March 23rd. I'm talking about my proclamation of no cell phone use while driving. It's been thirteen days. Let me tell you I have been tempted. Seems people on the other end of the phone don't really know when I am driving so the phone just keeps ringing while I tool on down the road. But I've been pretty good. Taking it one day at a time, as they say in the 12-step circles.

But there are some results from this change in behavior that I must report. First, I am driving my husband crazy. He is used to having access to me all day long via the cell and now he gets my voicemail quite often. As Family Chief Operating Officer/Gopher, I drive around alot executing the family strategic mission. So when I am driving, hubby can't get to me. He is a bit irritable these days, but I am sure there are other reasons than just little ol' me and my cell phone.

In the last two weeks, I have lost touch with 7 friends and 4 family members. Not fully lost touch but our communications frequency has dropped off tremendously. If you are one of those people, I miss you. But we can try other methods. Email's good. And I am generally not behind the wheel between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.

My "to call" list has not diminished in the past two weeks. In fact, that list has grown. I clearly was doing a lot of "phone errands" whilst driving and now I have to figure out where in the day to put that phone time. If you are waiting for me to call you back, I'll get to it soon. I hope you don't have an aversion to receiving phone calls prior to 6 a.m.

On the positive side of this cell phone hiatus, I feel like I have more down time and even though I am not getting certain things done that I used to take care of in my mobile office, I am enjoying the quiet time in my car. I am catching up on my 80's music and classic rock and am also enjoying a little bit of NPR here and there. And have learned some things. Like, did you know that 47% of working, eligible Americans will NOT pay taxes for the year 2009? Yes! I got that straight from The Osgood File. This percentage is up from previous years. There's a whole host of reasons for this. But due to more entitlements and more tax credits, a family for 4 (with 2 kids under 17) making as much as $50K can actually pay ZERO taxes for 2009. Wow. I used to be a tax accountant a long time ago, and I am sure my tax knowledge is a bit rusty, but does that mean that families of 4 that make over $50K aren't paying tax on their first $50K of income? I am sure there is some sliding scale, but I think I need to go back and review our tax return to see if something was missed. Cause I feel pretty certain that I didn't see any big subtraction from our tax base. Maybe I just overlooked that.

Anyway, another thing I learned while not talking of the phone is that there is a new syndrome for women to subscribe to. HSDD. Actually, it's not new but newly renamed. HSDD is "hypoactive sexual desire disorder" and it used to be called ISDD (I is for Inhibited) and prior to that name, just plain old frigidity. I'm pretty sure the original name was drummed up by a man. (Oh, I forgot to tell you that this post's rating may just have been changed to PG-13.) I heard a commercial for an HSDD medication and clinical trial while I was driving from the grocery store to the dry cleaners today.

HSDD according to Wikipedia is
characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. For this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder (i.e. depression), a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition.
Hhhmmmm. Now, I'm not walking in the shoes of or sleeping in the bed of one who may be experiencing these "symptoms" at the moment. And this commercial may have voiced over by the Moviefone guy's sister, thus diminishing some of its credibility to my ears. And I generally don't like the word "syndrome" so I may be a bit put off by that. And I may have been in a bad mood at the time. But HSDD does not sound like a medical situation to me. It sounds like the plight of many people with jobs, kids, stress, a share in a downward spiraling economy, a cumulative lack of sleep, a barking dog next door or any other mid-life situation one might find themselves in. I apologize to those who are truly suffering. But I don't think you are suffering from HSDD. I think it is something else. What it is, I'll leave you to figure out.

And while we're on the subject of abstinence of sorts, here's one other thing about my cell phone non-use. When it rings and I am driving, I am thankfully no longer distracted by a call. But there is a different distraction now. It's my kids yelling, nay screaming..."Don't answer it! You're not supposed be on the phone when you drive! You can't talk on the phone right now!" The first time it happened I was so shaken by the sheer volume of their shrieks, I scraped the curb and nearly took out a mailbox and a little old lady. Luckily no one was injured.

Now that I have summed up all the symptoms of my no phone use, I realize that I have a syndrome. I am a smidge embarrassed to admit it but I have HCDD - hyPERactive Cellphone Desire Disorder. I can prove it. I have a pronounced and increased desire to use my cell phone, I fantasize about talking while driving, and some times my fantasies get really raunchy and there is texting involved. This increased cell phone fantasy behavior is marked by difficulties in my interpersonal relationships (note recent loss of friends) and irritability (note above rantings about taxes). It's clear to me now.  I wonder if there is a clinical study for this?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catch Up and Dump

This is catch-up day.  And blog-dump day. Catching up on reading blogs that I have missed over the last week. And dumping in my blog all that you have missed over the last week.  So what have I been up to?

Went to God's country for the Easter weekend.

Don't feel slighted...I'm sure He likes where you live too. This is just one of His favorite places.

By the way, as I took this picture, it was 80° and that is a snowcapped peak in the center of the frame.

Then we decided to go see what was down in them hills and this is what we found.

I love the sound of a mountain stream...whshhhhswhwhhshhshsssshhh.

The cousins climbed a waterfall to pose for this shot.

Not sure what the crazy guy in orange in the background is doing...hunting wabbits, maybe?
But anyway, what a beautiful/handsome group! My boys love all this female attention!

Then we found a dragon egg.

Then we found this...

It's a family trait, a shared lineage, if you will.

And it seems to accompany a genetically similar smirk.

Interestingly, the three of us were contacted by Extreme Makeover - Family Edition to participate in their special BOGOBotox event.  They're throwing a third one in so really it's BOGTBotox for us. Deal!

I'm in discussions with them about my Festus eye...that'll be a whole 'nother episode.