Why Challenge Yourself? (Book and Project of the Month Pep Talk)

March Read: The Mistaken Wife

March Project: 5K and The Only Two Reasons I Run

The month is halfway over. I am more than halfway through my book, but failing at this running challenge. I won’t give up, though. I have friends who have gone back to college and set far higher fitness goals than I have- out of respect for them, and myself, I’ll keep plugging away. They truly inspire me!

Need a reason to challenge yourself with new projects, plays, and books, recipes, etc.? Go online, look up “neural plasticity” and follow links on reputable websites. (here’s some!) Even better, enter “neural plasticity” into the search bar on Pinterest… now sit back, and start reading. In a nutshell: when you experience new things your brain is energized.

Doing something new every day and going out on a limb is my way to help get over years of anxiety.

If I also end up expanding my cognitive abilities, broaden my perspectives and become more creative, even better!

“Creativity is just connecting things.
When you ask creative people how they did something,
they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it,
they just saw something.
It seemed obvious to them after a while.
That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had
and synthesize new things.
And the reason they were able to do that was that
they’ve had more experiences
or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity.
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences.
So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions
without a broad perspective on the problem.
The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Steve Jobs

Read the whole WIRED interview here: http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/4.02/jobs_pr.html

New Run- Makes the Old Run Look Like a Kinderwalk…

I found out how to make a two mile run super easy- replace it with another run, a little longer with REAL hills.


The Running Coach/Husband is now introducing me to the foam roller. I hear that I’ll hate it, and love it at the same time. Sounds kind of like running? However, I understand that this 5K that I signed up for at the end of the month for my March Project has a bunch of hills. Yeesh. Hills.

At one point this summer, this guy was faster than me.
At one point this summer, this guy was faster than me.

The new run kicks my butt bad. How bad? So bad that I feel like I’m back to walking with this guy again:

Torrey Pines State Preserve... a nice place to run. Nice and FLAT.
Torrey Pines State Preserve… a nice place to run. Nice and FLAT.

It makes the recent triumph of running those two miles, straight through, like a stroll on the beach… When I make it to the top of that hill, about a half mile long, I’m running the next day on the beach. Barefoot.

Wish me luck!

March Project: A 5K and The Only Two Reasons Why I Run

#1. I want to have seconds on taco night, and to be able to drink wine every night.
#2. My gramma and her husband taught me two keys to a healthy, long life: Moderation and Be Active.

The Great Gramma and The Girl
The Great Gramma and The Girl

Gramma is 98 this year, by the way. She also taught me to drink the good wine, and enjoy Happy Hour- not just on Fridays. My grandmother and her husband did things that I have sworn to do as I grow older: they are the poster children for caloric restriction and eating with moderation (everything they want, but in moderation), and they had always been active. Always. Dancing, walking, aerobics, swimming, traveling. ANYTHING.

Don't ANYONE show this picture to Betty Gene! I mean it, mom and Amie, DON'T!
Don’t ANYONE show this picture to Betty Gene! I mean it, mom and Amie, DON’T!
John, in all his magical glory.
John, in all his magical glory.

At 96 she was still driving, cooking for her husband, taking care of her home, and for anyone visiting. A couple of years ago I was visiting my gramma and honestly, there was nothing that she had lined up for me to help do for her. She made me salmon for dinner and the most I could do was clear the table and help put things away.

I started running recently and have gone from hating this form of exercise to… well, not hating it. I’m logging two miles about every other day and at the end of March I’m signed up to run a 5K. Whew. A big goal for me. This month I am adding on some hills and lengthening the run to three miles. But honestly? I run because my gramma taught me that I need to move it or lose it. And I will!

Don’t ANYBODY show these photos to Betty Gene, she will KILL me, do you hear me, mom?

Sharing Cookies and Thoughts on Practice and Past Times…

So, there are these people who work for The Husband… they deserve more than cookies. Lol. I’ve seriously been meaning to get treats to them for a long time. This is quite a group of highly intelligent, dedicated, and really interesting people! I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and crammed more than three dozen into a bag for The Husband to bring into a meeting today. Hopefully, everyone will get two cookies… maybe I should’ve sent in more.

I can crank out 12 dozen cookies in under two hours, including pans and kitchen cleaned, honestly, because I’ve made this recipe for 30+ years. I’ve made and sold hundreds of dozens of cinnamon rolls and can knock out a couple dozen with minimum effort. And I love cooking! It is a lot like an athlete’s love of practicing to develop muscle memory in a sport- I bet that anyone with a passion for anything would agree. Years of practice means few wasted steps in my kitchen; I know which equipment and ingredients to grab, measure, and use. Practice makes perfect, no matter what you are practicing… so be careful where you spend your time, right?

Pile o' cinnamon rolls for the teachers and school staff.
Pile o’ cinnamon rolls for school.

Nothing makes a baker happier than finding people with whom to share the goodies. In January I bring cinnamon rolls to the teachers and staff for Teacher Appreciation Day- ironically, I’m sure I feel more appreciated when they say they look forward to the rolls each year (Cinnabon knock-offs, I swear they are exactly like the shops in malls). It makes me happy.

I identity with these stickers...
I identify with these stickers…

I run a couple miles most mornings so I can eat that second taco or have a nightly glass of wine.

Amazon.com  0.0 I Don't Run
…links to Amazon.com
I Don’t Run

If people don’t share these cookies and other treats, I’m going to have to earn one of those 13.1 or 26.2 stickers for the back of my own sweet ride. Bake on, people… and keep running, too.

The Two Mile Monkey is Off My Back

I did it. I finally did it.

I ran two miles. Straight. No stopping! Well, we aren’t going to count stopping at the water fountains at either end of the neighborhood park are we? No, we are not. This is my blog about my new things. I get to make the rules, so, shaddap. And yes, I want a medal.

At one point this summer, this guy was faster than me.
At one point last summer, this guy was faster than me.

The Kinesthetically Omniscient Husband commented on my morning run yesterday. It has taken me over a year of off and on practice- mostly on, thankyouverymuch, but I’m overjoyed to say that most mornings I run two miles. The problem is, after around the first mile I slow to a walk at a water fountain, stop for a good ten minutes of yoga(ish) stretching and deep breathing, then continue with the second mile. The Husband, a life-long active type, reminded me to be careful that I wasn’t just training myself to take a break at one mile… he also knows that I have the goal to run a 5K this year. Dammit. Should have kept my goals to myself.

All I can say is, it was still a beautiful and perfect day to step it up. The wind was blowing just right and instead of the aroma of my and every neighbor’s stale refuse (PSA- Don’t run on a trash day), the run was filled with the smell of sweet grasses and roses. Seriously, roses. Everyone’s roses are blooming profusely right now (sorry, Midwest and Northeast friends. Just stop reading now!).

Roses. In February.
Roses. In February.
So. Cal. is awash in chaparral of sages and indigenous oaks. The vegetation smells wonderful as you hike through it.
So. Cal. is awash in chaparral of sages and indigenous oaks. The vegetation smells wonderful as you hike through it.

All of the earlier winter rains we received in the Southwest have contributed to the most wonderful flowers and grasses in our canyons and natural areas. One good onshore breeze and you are in heaven, believe me. The chaparral here is full of different kinds of sage and herbs- The Husband has a friend who puts the local sage in his home-brewed beer. One fellow cyclist commented “Hey! It tastes like a bike ride!”

I’m just happy I finally broke that straight through the two miles barrier. Next goal: add in the hills. Am I going to regret sharing this? I hope not.