Archive | March, 2013

Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood

13 Mar

I don’t have an iPhone, an Android, or a smartphone that collects something called Apps. I’ve got, according to others, an old-school phone. Circa 2009. No touch screen, just a screen. It’s an LG phone that is partly made of “post-consumer recycled plastics.” I was trying to be Eco-friendly. You know, care about the environment and even though it’s all beat up and hanging on for dear life the camera still works.

So I present a small glimpse of my neighborhood via phoneography.

 

This is what I see in a typical morning or afternoon, but it's often accompanied by people walking their dogs some of course without the much needed plastic bag. They think just because their dog is small the poop is invisible ... but you better believe that it still exists and it still smells when it gets on your shoe.

This is what I see in a typical morning or afternoon, but it’s often accompanied by people walking their dogs some of course without the much-needed plastic bag. They think just because their dog is small the poop is invisible … but you better believe that it still exists and it still smells when it gets on your shoe.

 

My neighborhood market, which sadly has a small parking lot and is usually crowded any time of day.

My neighborhood market, which sadly has a small parking lot and is usually crowded any time of day.

 

This is the park where I hang out with my kids, and where the Mommy & Me Mafia try to give me the stink eye.

This is the park where I hang out with my kids, and where the Mommy & Me Mafia try to give me the stink eye.

 

My local Regal Beagle. This is where I usually want to go after an encounter with the Mommy & Me Mafia, but they frown on bringing preschoolers and toddlers.

My local Regal Beagle. This is where I usually want to go after an encounter with the Mommy & Me Mafia, but they frown on bringing preschoolers and toddlers. At least the sun is shining during winter.

 

But I usually end up at my neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Thai place where pad thai and prad prik king are my usual choices.

So I usually end up at my neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Thai place where pad thai and pad prik king are my usual choices.

 

Then I drop by my usual Lottery buying place where I hope last week's ticket brings me some awesomeness. It hasn't happened yet.

Then I drop by my usual Lottery buying place where I hope last week’s ticket brings me some awesomeness. I’m still waiting on that one.

 

Once I see the Actor's Studio with the people talking to themselves, making dramatic gestures with their hands and pacing back and forth I know I'm only a few minutes away.

Once I see the Actor’s Studio where people are outside talking to themselves, making dramatic gestures with their hands, and pacing back and forth on the street, I know I’m only a few minutes away.

 

 

 

Phoneography Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

Daily Prompt Challenge: Playlist of The Week

12 Mar

 

I felt pumped at the beginning of the week having succeeded in my most recent challenge … roller derby. I felt badass.

 

 

Life caught up with me on Tuesday.

 

 

And in the middle of the week when you’re usually feelin’ crappy, I did a little turn around and found some inspiration.

 

 

Picked up some pep and things got a little better.

 

 

Ended the week feeling pretty good … not quite badass, but definitely on my way back.

 

 

Daily Prompt Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

My Eat-Pray-Love Moment Without Boarding a Plane to India or Bali

11 Mar

As I mentioned last week I finally got around to lacing up my New Balance and get back on the workout wagon after being kicked in the ass by the flu. And in doing so, I’ve added challenging goals to help me get back in good Guat health condition. This includes roller derby class, which is not only a massive quad and butt workout, but also scary as hell. And then there’s my big American Lung Association Climb coming up. But I thought I’d also embark on another challenge. Something that’s supposed to balance out my entire body, because you know me … I need balance.

Meditation.

For the next 21 days I’ll be participating in a meditation challenge to try to improve my whole wellness — body, mind, and spirit. I’m challenging my body in all sorts of ways that require BenGay, why not challenge my mind, right? I mean I got Advil if necessary.

Meditation … that’s one of those hey-that-looks-easy experiences, but it’s really not.

Image via loveofmantrameditation.com

Image via loveofmantrameditation.com

I see it happen on television and movies. They sit there, in their kindergarten style cross-legged position, with their fingers doing that circle thing, listening  to weird New Age Music that’s composed mostly of wind instruments with names I can’t even pronounce. They look like they have peace and stillness, but they’re actors. They’re just pretending to be centered and balanced.

I can pretend to be too, but for the sake of this challenge I’m supposed to be serious and tap into that peaceful side of the Guat. I’m supposed to empty my mind of all thoughts and worry. I don’t know if I can empty my mind for more than five seconds. I might get bored with empty. I think too much. I talk too much. I’m a writer … it happens.

But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sitting on the beach, hearing the sounds of the waves and just relaxing. I don’t mind hanging out by myself in the late hours of the night when everyone is asleep, reflecting on my day and being surrounded by a nice quiet, not the creepy Hitchcock kind of quiet, the nice kind which is usually accompanied by tea. I don’t mind that. But apparently that’s not meditating. I was schooled.

I’m not a big meditating person. It seems a little difficult for me, freeing my mind of thought. I thought I did that while I was asleep, but apparently I don’t, which is why my friend sent me that 21-day Meditation Challenge email. So I thought why not, what have I got to lose? Fifteen minutes every day for 21 days, I can do this. I can have an Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray Love moment without boarding a plane to India or Bali.

I may wind up more relaxed, more balanced, more at peace and less likely to get all George Costanza on somebody when they piss me off, but then again nothing may change and I might just enjoy the quiet of the night without the repetitions of a mantra, without the OOOOOOMMMMMs, without the New Age music. I might realize that a good piece of chocolate, my DVR, and some quiet is all I really need. Don’t know. But I’ll find out.

Sandbox List Adventure VIII: Bubble Wrap Makes Me Cool

8 Mar

For me, it releases tension and stress. I guess it’s the smashing part.

My kids were probably attracted to the pop-pop popping of it all. It’s something you see and have to do. You can’t just throw it in the trash, you have to pulverize it first and then throw it in the trash … well the recycling bin.

I know they had seen it before, but it was the small 5×7 sheet that came with a box of chocolate, at which point they cared more about the chocolate and less about the packaging.

But when I changed the dimensions and provided a full floor-length sheet, you know that the smiles and laughter came out, even without the chocolate.

Bubble wrap … it’s the mom’s miracle worker on a rainy day. Usually I pack the rainy day with plenty of activities, but for some reason our agenda was not welcomed by enthusiasm. They were done with Legos, trains, balloon volleyball, hockey, Connect 4, Play-doh , Transformers, coloring, cars, books, and pretend play. They were done with it and seeing how my little one had a serious runny nose I wasn’t in the mood to escalate it into a full on cold or flu by letting them splash in puddles and be hit by hail. Yes. Today sunny Southern California was at 50 degrees with hail attacking our palm trees.

So I needed something else, because you know kids … they don’t stop for hail. They’re just like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going all day. So I tried to step up the level of fun and found success with bubble wrap and some awesome 80s tunes. We started off dancing and then just ended up racing up and down the bubble wrap strip. I figured when my Uncle Erick introduced me to bubble wrap back in the 80s it was an awesome way to pass the time. We had no Nintendo, no Atari. We had Lite Bright, Monopoly, Sorry, Battleship and bubble wrap.

And it rocked.

I figured,  since I had such a good time, maybe my preschooler and toddler would get a kick out of it. I was worried because sometimes as parents we think we have the best plan for fun and then realize that it wasn’t as cool as we thought. Thankfully I was as cool as I thought … well at least for today.

 

First we began the setup and it took a little longer than it should have...you know with all the help I was getting.

First we began the setup and it took a little longer than it should have…you know with all the help I was getting.

 

Then in no time at all my son was racing up and down the bubble wrap strip, feeling ecstatic as the pop-pop-popping happened with every step.

Then in no time at all my son was racing up and down the bubble wrap strip, feeling ecstatic as the pop-pop-popping happened with every step.

 

My daughter tried, running, dancing and stomping but when she realized she wasn't smashing as many bubbles she took a new approach.

My daughter tried the running, dancing and stomping but when she realized that she wasn’t getting the same sound effect or smashing as many bubbles as her brother, she took a new approach.

 

She found that squeezing with her hands and tiny fingers was a lot more productive. So then the smiles began.

She found that squeezing with her hands and tiny fingers was a lot more productive. So then the smiles began.

 

Seeing how he was getting tired of all the running and hopping, my son decided to join his sister and use his hands to attack the bubble wrap.

Seeing how he was getting tired of all the running and hopping, my son decided to join his sister and use his hands to attack the bubble wrap. He had some assistance from a rolling pin.

 

In the end the bubble wrap was everywhere, but it was all good. Everyone had fun in the process, including mom.

In the end the bubble wrap was everywhere, but it was all good. Everyone had fun in the process, including mom.

 

Happiness Project Update 23: Extending Deadlines and Plan B

7 Mar

During my whole Happiness Project quest there were a lot of truths I had to come clean about in order to make this project work. One of the things I had to let go of was My List. At one point or another, everyone has a list. You know, the By-The-Time-I’m-at-a-Certain-Age List I should be at Point X in my life.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

Yeah that’s the one.

I made the list as a way of giving myself a deadline. You’re supposed to be filled with certain milestones every decade, right? 20, 30, 40? It gave me something to strive for, to work for, to reach for, but when I didn’t get where I was supposed to be, well what was I supposed to do?  Stuff my face with chocolate? Yes. Definitely yes. But why the disappointment? I should have accounted for some setbacks, right?

Here’s the thing. I didn’t think I was going to fail, so when I did I thought holy crap, what should I do now? Couldn’t do anything but let go. And dude that was hard. I turned 30 and that was that. There were a few items left on the list. Unfinished. I hadn’t made the deadline, and letting go of it made me feel like a failure. This is where the chocolate came into play. The disappointment of not completing My List by 30, probably gave birth to my love affair with chocolate, which I guess was a nice silver lining.

But as I continued reading the Happiness Project I realized that I didn’t really have to let go of My List, I just had to extend the deadline. We get extensions all the time, why not on this, right? I mean for people who get it all done by 30, 35, or 40 well woo-hoo and great for you. But for the rest of us there’s Plan B — The Extension. Now some people may look down on it. So there are times when you get down on the dumps, because you hear all these stories of people getting to Point X a lot sooner than they originally planned. No extension needed. But then I saw this commercial and it gave me hope. I thought dude … it’s on. I mean I’m not close to 50, but it’s still on.

 

 

I could still chase those same goals and those same dreams, I could still pursue my passions, and probably experience all kinds of adventures in the process. But I’d still be able to cross off items from The List. It would just take a little longer. Passion doesn’t run out. It’s still beating inside you, like a heartbeat. The only difference is that I would no longer follow the blueprints from my original plan. I’d have to take on an alternate route. A Plan B. But just because it’s Plan B, doesn’t make it any less of a woo-hoo moment. A woo-hoo is a woo-hoo no matter what the timeline. Realizing that there would still be high-fives and chocolate waiting for me made it a little easier to feel less crappy about not completing the 30s List. This just meant that my 40s and 50s list would be more rewarding, more adventurous and requiring more Glucosamine.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost In The Details

5 Mar

 

Lost in the details

Lost in the details

 

Details are important.

Where are the table cloths?

Did you bring the party favors?

Where are the napkins?

Do you have the oregano for the pozole?

Where’s the platter?

How do the decorations look?

Yes details are important, but sometimes you get so lost in the details that you forget to take a moment for yourself and enjoy.

Moms, dads, students, people with two jobs, stressed-out people, or brides to-be … don’t forget to take a moment among all the details.

 

Thank God for Knee Pads and BenGay

4 Mar

I don’t know if you can cover your butt with BenGay. I don’t know if that’s possible, but it should be. Every muscle in my gluteus maximus, every muscle surrounding it, and every muscle within its vicinity hollers out for that medicated Methyl Salicylate cream.

BenGay … it should really be a roller derby sponsor.

I’m walking around the house today, victorious for surviving my first roller derby session. Well I really shouldn’t say walking … more like hobbling. Every inch of my quads feels the pain of this work out. Apparently skating muscles are completely different from running or triathlon muscles. Completely. In truth I don’t remember feeling like this the last time I skated, which happened to be when I was in elementary school. I guess muscles in your 30s are a lot different, but it’s all good. I survived and this helped me cross off an item from my Bucket List and that’s what counts.

However, if I’m going to be honest with you I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I really didn’t want to break anything and was so hoping the pain would be minimal. But as soon as I drove into the parking structure I thought … yeah there is definitely going to be some pain.

 

The parking lot entrance.

The parking lot entrance.

 

This little mural didn’t boost my confidence, but I was committed. Even though I was unsure of what to expect, I cowboy-ed up, grabbed my mouth guard, and made my way toward the entrance. I thought that there would be 15 or 20 ladies at the most. There were about 40 women in the class and for some reason that made me even more nervous. I’m not used to massive audiences witnessing my falls and challenges with gravity. But I came to learn that at least half of the class shared that same issue.

Now seeing that there were a lot of chics in this class I thought it would be best to scramble and get some equipment, which was pretty difficult. After fifteen minutes of scavenging through a pile of roller skates I finally found a matching pair.

 

I was stylin' in purple laces, but felt out of place in my non tight sweatpants. Everyone was looking pretty svelte in their nylons or spandex attire.

I was stylin’ in purple laces, but felt out of place in my non tight sweatpants. Everyone was looking pretty svelte in their nylons or spandex attire.

 

I wanted to get a really cool helmet. Something that exuded confidence, but all the badass names were taken. So I was left with this, pretty ironic considering I was rolling in the slow lane.

I wanted to get a really cool helmet. Something that exuded confidence, but all the badass names were taken. So I was left with this … pretty ironic considering I was rolling in the slow lane.

 

Now when I was getting geared up I noticed the youth group practicing on the banked track. They were zooming on and off the track, spinning and stopping with such ease.

 

The "young" girls practicing.

The “young” girls practicing, looking very non-BenGay like. Unfortunately there were no shots of me in my roller derby attire as I was too busy battling the power of gravity and everyone else seemed pretty focused on not falling either. I really didn’t want to disturb their concentration in order to capture my Kodak moment.

 

I thought if these pre-teens can be rolling without issues, I should be all right. I’m badass. I did the Warrior Dash for crying out loud. I’m a triathlete. I’m on it. I mean I may not be able to skate backwards, but dude I can do this. I got this. But the fact that I needed assistance putting on my safety equipment gave me second thoughts. This concerned me a bit. I mean if I needed help with that, how would this adventure turn out.

Well pretty good overall.

We began with some warm up exercises and just basics on the flat track, trying to work on every inch of your quads and definitely feeling the burn. Suzy Snakeyes was actually pretty nice and patient with those of us who were slow learners, and after thirty minutes I seemed to be gaining confidence. I wasn’t the fastest skater, but I wasn’t the slowest one either. And when she started to teach us how to fall without completely killing yourself, I thought man I got this. I have years of experience in this field. I’m a professional faller. And sure enough I was … making good use of those knee pads and the soft sides of my butt cheeks, although by the end of the exercise I wish I had more cushion.

After about an hour we headed to the main track, ready to test out some of the skills we learned. Or at least I thought I learned.

 

Passing all the banners as we entered the main room.

Passing all the banners as we entered the main room.

 

Now mind you, no matter how much confidence I gained on the flat track I wasn’t crisscrossing my legs, body checking, or spinning backwards. I was doing the basic swaying maneuver. However this is completely different on the banked track. It’s on a slope. A slope people! Confidence and staying low are important factors in roller derby, but when the person in front of you totally eats it, your confidence isn’t what it used to be a second ago. All you can think of is not repeating history. So needless to say that my first roll on the banked track wasn’t smooth, but it wasn’t catastrophic either.

I’m glad we covered falling earlier in class. I proved to be good at it. I managed to do plenty of it on the banked track, and I did it without needing any Band-Aids and without getting the “Ooooohhhh” reaction from the rest of my roller derby mates. However I would have liked to do one complete lap around the track without falling. I would have like to do the roller derby classic move — you know the one where you pat your hips two times and then raise your hands up in the air. Maybe next time.  For now I’m glad I didn’t need to use an ambulance. For now I’m grateful for knee pads and BenGay. Until next time.

This is Why Laughter is Important

1 Mar
Image via www.lefunny.net

Image via Lefunny.net