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So Much Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. When you get right down to it, the vast majority of us in the world have a WHOLE lot to be thankful for, and with the world as whacked out as it is, I think it’s important to vocalize our thanks. Focus on the good. Be… excellent… to each other. ‘Tis the season.

This year I want to participate in the 30 days of thanks challenge. Is it a challenge? I’m not sure. I may have made that up. 30 days of thanks… extravaganza? Or maybe it’s just 30 Days of Thanks. That sounds more like it. Either way, I want to do that thing where you vocalize, literally or electronically, something you are thankful for each day.

Most people do this through a Facebook post or a tweet, but being the long-winded writer that I am I’m anticipating wanting to elaborate a bit more so I’ll use the ol’ blog to get the word out. This will also give me a true challenge, to write every day for 30 days.

Join me on a 30 day journey of reflection and deep-hearted thanks. I encourage you to join in the extravaganza!

(I’m a few days behind, so I’m going to spitfire Days 1-4 and get on track with one post per day starting tomorrow).

Day 1

This face/person/soul:

 

petal 1

 

Brad Light. I don’t know what I did to find him. Whatever celestial magic that brought him my way, to “you” I say thank you. I am thankful for his spirit, his silliness, his sense of humor, his tenderness, his gentleness, his handsomeness, his goodness, his curly brown hair, his horned-rim glasses, his love of the sea, his quest for adventure, his love of his family, his love of cats, his delicious stir-frys, his understanding, and more than anything I’m thankful that he loves me. Again, celestial magic. It’s a thing. I love you to the moon and back Brad.

Day 2

These squishy fluffy faces:

Kitties

 

It is an excellent idea to live with cuddly animals. They teach you about unconditional love. They challenge you to take care of something precious other than yourself. They encourage you to embrace empathy for non-human creatures, which then translates to empathy for human creatures too. These are truths for me. I am so grateful for my two kitties, Sharky and Mr. Wizard. Now if only they loved each other as much as we love them. Maybe next year.

Day 3

My running route:

Last night Brad and I finished a glorious 10 mile run along the beach. Around mile 4 the sun was setting over the Pacific and Brad says to me “if anyone told me when I was a kid that one day I’d get to run along the beach next to my fiance as the sun sets over the ocean, I’d have been able to suffer through a lot more pain with a smile on my face knowing where I’d eventually end up.” Isn’t that the lesson we all need. First of all, when life sucks, as it often does, you are never without the tiny kernel of knowledge that somehow it will get better. It just will. And that maybe all of the hard times are necessary, as they are leading to something more wonderful than you could imagine. So today I am grateful for where those hard times and wrong turns have landed us. In a little apartment on the Pacific with the most glorious running path two runners could ask for.

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Day 4

I am grateful for the fall.

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Today I woke up and I knew it would feel like fall (as much as it CAN feel like fall in Los Angeles). Brisk autumn days are something I miss so terribly living in L.A. Some people get bummed out by a lack of sunshine. I get bummed out by too much. I like the seasons to obey the seasons and Southern California is the land of eternal summer. Bummer. Today I have a scarf around my neck, and I wore a jacket to work. I noticed some leaves falling off trees, and the shadows are extra long. Today, it feels like California fall and it may only last until about 3:00 pm, but I’ll take it. I’ll savor it.

 

Sometimes I worry that acknowledging all that I’m grateful for will jinx me, and it will all fall apart. This comes from the part of my brain that is convinced I don’t deserve to be happy. Hogwash. We all deserve to be happy. But we gotta thank the universe once in a while. She won’t bite.

 

See ya tomorrow.

 

 

How to Cure Vacation Withdrawal… More Vacation

Brad and I just got back from a glorious week-long mountain adventure in Colorado. Activities included whitewater rafting, exploring a ghost town, hiking to the top of a mountain to discover a heavenly meadow of wildflowers and a trout-filled lake, touring our wedding venue, and taking on some serious trail runs at 9,000 feet. To sum up, I need a vacation from my vacation. Answer: Disneyland in 5 weeks.

You thought I forgot, didn’t you? It’s Disneyland Half Marathon time!! The most wonderful running time of the year. I’m so excited to be participating in our 4th straight year of running 13.1 miles through the Happiest Place Race on Earth. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Last week I got a taste of paradise and now Monday has brought with it some serious vacation withdrawal depression. What a relief from the back-to-work blues, knowing that I have this race to look forward to in just a little over a month.

The stakes are higher this year. In case you haven’t heard, runDisney has introduced new madness to Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. For the first time ever they’ve introduced a 10k to the weekend’s activities, the Disneyland 10k specifically. The 10k is a great distance because it’s accessible to pretty much everyone. For those who don’t quite have the motivation to train for a half marathon, the 10k (6.2 miles) is a worthy challenge. And for seasoned marathoners and half marathoners, 10k is still a great workout and provides the perfect opportunity for challenging speed work and the chance to PR time and again. This 10k is going to be particulary fantastic because it’s short enough that most of the race will actually be in the Disneyland resort instead of sprawled out onto the streets of Anaheim. In short, it’s going to rock and I hope you signed up.

But I’m not done! Not only did runDisney introduce a 10k into the mix, but they’ve officially laid down the west coast version of the Goofy Challenge, only slightly less totally insane Goofy. Brad and I are training for the Dumbo Double Dare, which means we’ll be running the 10k on Saturday morning, and the half marathon on Sunday morning. We’re Dumbo! I’ve never run that much mileage back to back, but I’m not too worried. We’re going to take it real easy on the 10k, stopping for photos and enjoying the gentle jog through the parks, and then we’ll really let the motors go for the half marathon. Besides, we ran at 9,000 feet altitude last week (you can feel the the oxygen deprivation!) so our runs at sea level from here on out will pretty much make us feel like superheroes. I understand now why Olympians train at high altitudes!

We had a great 8 mile run last night at sunset. Hard to believe we were in the Rocky Mountains on Saturday and gazing out at the Pacific on Sunday. I really can’t complain about life. It’s really really good. 

Here are some pics from our mountain adventure! 

Hiking in the San Isabel National Forest

Hiking in the San Isabel National Forest

fields of wildflowers on top of a mountain

fields of wildflowers on top of a mountain

St. Elmo ghost town. One of many old abandoned mining towns in the Rockies. Spooky and beautiful.

St. Elmo ghost town. One of many old abandoned mining towns in the Rockies. Spooky and beautiful.

lots of hummingbirds at St. Elmo

lots of hummingbirds at St. Elmo

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There's a corner of St. Elmo home to hundreds of friendly chipmunks. You can buy feed for 50c and these little critters will crawl all over you nibbling away at their seeds. They are incredibly adorable.

There’s a corner of St. Elmo home to hundreds of friendly chipmunks. You can buy feed for 50c and these little critters will crawl all over you nibbling away at their seeds. They are incredibly adorable. What do you think? Is this little guy Chip or Dale?

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My first experience whitewater rafting. I'm hooked.

My first experience whitewater rafting. I’m hooked.

big drop

big drop

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Touring our wedding venue! That meadow is where we'll say "I Do!"

Touring our wedding venue! That meadow is where we’ll say “I Do!”

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Bathing in warm natural spring water at Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Yeah, our wedding is going to rock.

and of course...

and of course…

... running

… running

 

 

Have you taken a vacation yet this year? Where did you adventure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing Act: Running vs. Friends

Today I’m struggling with balancing priorities of equal importance. My days are full. I work a 40 hour work week (sometimes more), and I come home and have approximately 4 or 5 hours to do the following: have dinner, clean the apartment, feed the cats, make and process Whimsy Do orders, write, spend quality time with the man who will be my husband, socialize with friends, do the dishes, do the laundry, and run. Somewhere in there I would like to be able to squeeze in some relaxation, when I can. I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. My life is full, but it’s full of goodness. I love my life. I pinch myself daily. The problem is that there really are limited hours in the day to accomplish such massive quantities of goodness, and usually something falls by the wayside.

Lately it’s been running. Who am I kidding, also cleaning. Our apartment sometimes looks like a few empty pizza boxes away from an episode of Hoarders.

But I can’t let running fall by the wayside. It brings me too much joy, helps me feel sane, and most important of all, gets us to Tahiti! Running must be mandatory from this point out. When struggling with how to squeeze in a mandatory activity there really is only one option. Do it. If that means you have to NOT do something else, then that’s what it means. Today that something else involves friends and it’s making me wish there were two of me.

There’s a fundraiser at Theatre of NOTE tonight called “Stand Up for NOTE.” It’s an evening of stand-up featuring several friends of mine, and all of the proceeds benefit an upcoming production at the theatre. You should go! ;). BUT, we are behind on this week’s mileage and today’s run is crucial to keep us on track for the longer run this weekend. I couldn’t run this morning because I had an 8:00 am dentist appointment and I just can’t get out of bed to run before 7:00. I’m like a robot. I don’t switch on until usually 7:30.

In his book “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” Haruki Murakami pretty succinctly describes the struggle of balancing life’s priorities:

It’s a lifestyle, though, that doesn’t allow for much nightlife, and sometimes your relationships with other people become problematic. Some people even get mad at you, because they invite you to go somewhere or do something with them and you keep turning them down. I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance. I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all other people around me.

It’s a bit harsh, and many may say selfish, but there’s truth there wouldn’t you agree? There are only so many hours in the day and I have to preserve as many as I can to allocate to my personal goals. It’s the only way they’ll get accomplished. But my personal relationships are also very important to me. I don’t want them to be diminished by my aspirations.

One solution is to kill two birds, or as many birds as possible, with one stone. (I really hate that a metaphor about killing birds is so useful.) I’m grateful that Brad enjoys running with me because then I can check running and spending quality time with my man off the list at the same time. Maybe I should start a running club with my friends and bring my social life and running life together. What say you friends? Would you go for it?  I suppose combining priorities is one way to solve this problem of mine.

In the meantime, you should go to this in case I can’t. Check out that line-up! And hosted by the one and only Kirsten Vangsness. It really is going to be incredibly hilariously awesome.

How about you? Do you have trouble balancing your personal goals with other obligations? I’d love to hear what you do to get it all done.

Happy Places

I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.

Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.

Libraries/Book stores

Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)

Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)

Disneyland

Museums/Observatories

The woods

Office supplies stores

The ocean

On my couch with my fiance and my cats

London

I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.

As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.

How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.

  1. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
  2. I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
  3. I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.

I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.

I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.

So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.

If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”

I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

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On our beach. Happy.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

Michael's (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Michael’s (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can't you tell by our faces? Happy places.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can’t you tell by our faces? Happy places.

A Friday night with my boys. Completely perfect happy place.

A Friday night with my guys. Completely perfect happy place. Although Sharky doesn’t look too happy 🙂

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that's going to be one helluva happy place.

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that’s going to be one helluva happy place.

cancer, the villain of villains

It is pure evil. It has no redeeming qualities. It is a relentless villain that time and again succeeds in taking the lives of millions. Good people. Bad people. Old people. Young people. Big people. Small people. No one is safe. There are things you can do to be healthy. You can do everything right. Don’t smoke, eat organic veggies and “superfoods,” exercise. You can do all of those things. There are people who do all of those things and they live long and healthy lives. There are also people who do all of those things and they still fucking die of cancer. I don’t swear much. I don’t mind when people swear, but it doesn’t roll naturally off my tongue. Right now, however, I have one thing to say. Cancer FUCKING sucks.

I wasn’t going to raise money this year. For the last two years of running the Disneyland Half Marathon I have raised money for both of the non-profit theatre companies to which I’m affiliated. The first year for The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, where I am the Program Administrator. The second year for Theatre of NOTE, where at the time I was the President of the Artistic & Management Committee. It was pretty exhausting. I’m all for people running to raise money, and I am SO endlessly grateful to everyone who donated and supported me. After last year’s very successful fundraiser, “Running for Wonderlust,” I decided that I’d take a year off from “fundrunning.” I just wanted to focus on myself and my training.

Then I heard that a friend’s sister had just died of cancer… and I was pissed. Then I saw on Facebook that a friend of a friend lost her 7 year old son to cancer, and I was furious. Then Sacramento lost a theatre legend in Mindy Stover. Heartbreaking. Then we lost MCA. Unacceptable. Then Steve Jobs. What? Then Donna Summer. Then Nora Ephron. Then Sally Ride. The list goes on and on. I have three other friends my age who have had to battle this evil foe and thank God have come out swinging. My own mother has battled the Big C and has reigned victorious over its grip. I have a dear dear friend who is waiting to hear TOMORROW if the tumor in his brain is cancer. I’m just not ok with all of this!

I wasn’t going to raise money but the truth is, running this Half Marathon and blogging about it is an opportunity. I write. People read what I write. I thank you for following my journey from the bottom of my heart. I didn’t want to ask any of my readers for money this year but I just can’t turn a blind eye. At this time I humbly turn your attention to this cause. Stand up with me against this evil adversary. I beg of you to help me.

I would like to single-handedly obliterate cancer from this earth. But I know that I can’t do that. I’m not the real hero. The real heroes are the ones out there on the ground researching treatment. The real heroes are the ones out there searching for a cure. The real heroes are the ones out there battling this disease. Doctors, scientists, researchers, and the people like you and me who have to look this evil disease in the face and spit on it. I can’t do what they do. But we can help them. We can support them. 

Please join me in raising money for the American Cancer Society. Please, let’s put as many of our resources as we can spare toward wiping cancer from the planet. 

DONATE

1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Those are terrible odds, and terribly ridiculous. Can you believe that statistic? I’m not ok with that!

DONATE

If you are reading this and you are human, then chances are you know someone who has been affected by this disease. Either you have lost a loved one, or you love someone who has lost a loved one. None of us are exempt. None of us escape the heartbreaking affect this disease has on our lives. NONE OF US.

DONATE

I’ve set a humble goal. I would love to exceed it. Brad and I are trying to raise $500 for the American Cancer Society before we run the Disneyland Half Marathon in 3 weeks. We have each donated our share which has gotten us closer to our goal. Please help. Please surprise me, won’t you? I would love to be shocked by how far we exceed our expectations.

Think about that person that you have lost to this disease. Whether you knew them personally or they were your personal hero. Whether it’s your grandmother or George Harrison. Think about those that have survived and the life-saving treatment and medical research that got them there. Think about these people, and donate for them. You do not need to know me to stand with me against cancer. I know a lot of perfect strangers read my blog in addition to all of my friends and family. No one is a stranger to this disease. Stand with me. Thank you.

Click on any of the DONATE buttons above to donate through our fundraiser on Crowdrise. Also, here is the full URL for you to share and spread the word:

http://www.crowdrise.com/runtoendcancer/fundraiser/RebeccaSigl

With love,

Rebecca and Brad

Some great ones lost to this disease:

george

MCA

gilda

bogie

swayze

steve jobs

sally ride

farrah

audrey

The list goes on and on, and will continue on and on, until we stop it. Please donate.

the return of supergirl

This year, for the first time in a long time I’m doing things for myself as opposed to things I feel obligated to do. I prioritize based on what will fuel my hopes and dreams, not what will help other people’s hopes and dreams. That may all sound very selfish. It is. I happen to think there is great virtue in selfishness and no, I do not worship Ayn Rand. I did, however, read The Fountainhead about 8 years ago and it forever changed my outlook on life and all its aspirations.

 

I won’t completely summarize the novel here. Just go out and read it. I will say what I took from it. That in realizing our own potential we give more to society than if we spend our days wasting our best talents in the name of altruism. Of course it’s important to help people. Of course it’s important to be kind, compassionate, and giving. Of course. But if we spend ALL of our time in life giving to others and save no time to focus on ourselves, then we have wasted our God-given talents and that does a much greater disservice to the world, I believe. Think of your heroes. Be they athletes, scientists, artists,  politicians, poets. They are your heroes because they have mastered something. Something that lived within them as potential but they spent their entire lives honing and perfecting. In doing so they have inspired you to hopefully do the same for yourself. That chain of inspiration continues the more we focus on what we love.  

Last night Brad and I were watching The Dark Knight to prep for our upcoming venture to see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. During the credits I noticed the copyright date said 2008. I was stunned. I said to Brad “That’s impossible! This movie did not come out in 2008. That was 4 years ago!” And he replied “You saw the credits. It came out 4 years ago.”

“Oh my God. What happened to the last 4 years of my life. I feel like someone transplanted me from 2008 to now and I have no memory of the last 4 years. Like someone stole them from me. What happened?”

“Well, two of those years were on the AMC. That’s what happened.”

He was right. Let me preface by saying that I do not regret those two years I decided to give to my theatre company. I regret how frustrated I was. I regret how little I was able to change while on the AMC. I regret that I did not do a better job. I have these regrets because running a theatre company is not actually my God-given talent. It’s not my passion. I spent two years doing it because I love my theatre company and I felt like I should take my turn. I personally believe we should get someone to run Theatre of NOTE who actually IS passionate about all of the nuts and bolts of running a theatre company and only then will NOTE realize its own potential, which is enormous. But that’s a whole different discussion. My outcome on the AMC was lackluster compared to my standards for what that incredible company of artists deserves. I don’t regret doing it. I regret not doing it well. This is what happens when we spend our lives doing things we don’t really want to do. We are filled with regret. Life is too short to let regret get in the way of our passion. We must follow our bliss.

This year that changed. My tenure on the AMC came to a close. I have taken a leave of absence from my theatre company to focus on myself. The results are coming in, and they are positive. Brad and I have made up some huge mileage on the road to Tahiti. (We got so behind last year). I had perhaps the most rewarding creative experience ever working on The Crucible with my good friend Bill Voorhees. I fell in love with acting all over again the moment I met Mary Warren. I’m training harder and faster for the Disneyland Half Marathon and am on my way to a new PR. I joined SAG-AFTRA and can count myself a proud union member. I opened my own Etsy shop and have a new creative outlet for when I don’t get to act. The shop is soaring. I’m so honored to receive so many messages from strangers all around the world who are so excited to wear my hair Whimsy Dos in their weddings, holidays, or vacations. My creations have touched people from Brazil to Jordan to Australia to Canada. I’m honored. I believe the things I am doing are sending positive vibrations out into the universe. I’m more optimistic than ever. I’m kinder. More confident. More proud of my fellow artists. More supportive. And just plain happier. All this because I decided to focus on me for a change.

There is one last piece to this puzzle. Physical fitness. I’m on my way to becoming the best version of myself artistically, emotionally, and creatively. I’m still far from it physically. I had a meeting with a genetic counselor a few weeks ago because breast cancer runs heavily in my family. One of the leading risk factors in developing the disease is being overweight. I won’t have that. I want to live as long as possible. I want to suck the marrow out of this life and I need to give myself the best shot possible. That means being in the best physical condition possible. I want to put myself at low risk for disease. I want to run fast. I want to look good in a bikini! I want to fit in my clothes. I want to go to the doctor and have her tell me “yep, you’re pretty much fit as a fiddle” instead of “you’re really healthy, except you could stand to lose a little weight.” I want to be the healthiest version of myself and inspire healthy eating to as many people as possible. So today, in keeping with the superhero theme, today is called “The Return of Supergirl.”

Last year I embarked upon a healthy eating initiative about a week before the half marathon. For those 8 days I had so much energy, and I lost a couple of pounds. The race came and went, as did the healthy eating initiative. Today is the sequel, and it’s here to stay. Read here to learn about the genesis of the supergirl diet. It’s nothing revolutionary. Just healthy, clean, common-sense eating. Little to no sugar, zero alcohol until race day, no processed foods, lots of fruit and veggies. Today I’m making a promise to do this for myself. Everything else that I’ve started to do for myself this year has been rather successful. This will be too. I’m not doing this for an agent, or Hollywood, or my family, or my doctor, or my readers. I’m not proving anything to anyone except me. Alright Supergirl, take flight.

why yoga doesn’t suck

Two weeks into P90X and I’m really feeling fantastic. I’ve only lost 1 lb. but that’s ok. I feel stronger and I feel more confident. I haven’t been as strict as I should be with the dietary changes but I’ve tried to at least shift my thinking toward eating to live and not living to eat. It’s difficult. I love food. I love yummy fattening food. But the interesting thing is that in working out this much my body has quickly stopped craving crap. Doing something good for my health is starting to spill over into my cravings as well. Gives credence to the phrase, you are what you eat. If you sit on the couch and watch TV all day, your body will follow suit and desire potato chips and ice cream. If you get off your tush and do 6 days of P90X a week, your body will desire/need/crave healthy fuel to keep it going. It’s remarkable. I have been jonesing for lots of protein, whole grains, fruit, and LOTS of veggies. I can feel my body asking for those things. My brain however is always late to the game and is still a little bit stuck in junk food habit world. I can feel my body yearning for fresh vegetables, but still my hand reaches for Ben & Jerry’s. I have found myself eating junk food, looking at it and thinking “I don’t even want this! Why am I eating it?” I don’t think I have the answer to that questions except to say that food like that has been more about an emotional habit rather than nourishment. Bad habits die hard. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, here’s what I have to say to you, it’s so f*#$^*ing hard!! SO hard. I feel your pain and I’m right there with you. The journey continues. But I didn’t come here today to write about food. I came to write about…

Yoga. You’ve heard me say it before. I don’t like it. I guess I should say, I didn’t like it. I never thought I would ever like yoga. For whatever reason I found that it made me more anxious rather than less. Not the desired affect. Yoga is part of the P90X regimen and I made a decision before I even began the program that I would not like that workout day. Yesterday I learned a very important lesson about the dangers of making preconceived judgments. The lesson is, don’t.

Yoga X is hard, really hard. Maybe not to a yoga afficianado, but I really have nothing to base it on since I haven’t gone to a yoga class in years. Perhaps to all my yoga teacher friends out there it would be a walk in the park. To me, it’s incredibly challenging. The first week of P90X is challenging in its entirety. Yoga rolls around by day 4. By then, I had already pulled a muscle in my stomach. Try doing a chaturanga with a strained abdominal muscle. I hated it. On top of the pain and discomfort, Yoga X was 90 minutes long. To me it was 90 minutes of torture and I made the decision that I would always dread this workout.

Fast forward to yesterday. Day 4 of week 2. Yoga day. I went through my entire day at work dreading going home to do Yoga. I just kept thinking: 90 minutes of torture. 90 minutes of pain and me feeling disgruntled. 90 minutes is forever. I got home and figured I would just get it over with as soon as possible. I quickly put on my workout clothes and got out my mat. 90 minutes. Ugh. Then I stopped. I paused for a moment and realized that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by building up this 90 minute workout as an eternity in my head. It was all relative. 90 minutes at Disneyland goes by like 30 seconds. Why did this have to feel like forever? I let myself be still for a moment and allowed yoga as a meditative and spiritual practice have an affect on me. After all, what is 90 minutes? In the scope of my day, 90 minutes is a small slice. In the scope of my life, it’s a tiny blib. In the scope of the universe, it’s practically non-existent. On a cosmic level this 90 minutes was both meaningless and precious. Meaningless in that it was a practically immeasurable amount of time in the span of the universe. Precious in that within such a tiny time frame I had the opportunity to breathe and meditate and learn something that may change my life forever. Every moment is like that isn’t it? Within every moment we have the power to change the world, and yet those moments are so tiny. Incalculable power within immeasurable blips of time. Isn’t that what makes humans incredible? We are smaller than the dust on the back of an ant, and yet we have within us the ability to comprehend the wonder of the universe. It’s a miracle. In my jump to decide that I would forever hate 90 minutes a week of yoga, I hadn’t realized that I was flushing away 90 minutes of precious time. Time that I could never ever get back. Time to strengthen. Time to breathe. Time to center. I had this revelation in a fleeting instant and it immediately opened my eyes. Before I pressed play I decided that I wouldn’t all of a sudden decide that I was going to love yoga, but I wouldn’t let my negative experiences of it in the past shape my present. I began with an open and inquisitive mind.

I loved every minute of it. I found a part of myself that I had not previously been acquainted with. I felt strong. I felt calm. I felt peace. I won’t say that 90 minutes flew by, but neither did it drag on. It had no meaning. It did not mean an eternity. It did not mean a quick flash of time. It was a series of moments that I savored. I learned a very important lesson about presence in that time.

It was still hard. Incredibly hard. I was grateful for the physical challenge as it forced me to focus and not get caught up in what just happened or what would come next. I have often said that I didn’t like yoga because it didn’t get my blood pumping. I love to run. I love kickboxing. I love these things because they are high impact and incredibly aerobic. I like to feel the sweat come out of my pores and the blood pump through my veins. These things keep me from getting distracted. They keep me from thinking about anything else other than breathing and form and one foot in front of the other. In this sense running has always been very therapeutic and meditative for me. Perhaps the yoga classes I’d previously encountered were not challenging enough. Perhaps I didn’t challenge myself enough. Perhaps I made too many snap judgments. I’m not sure. I do know that yesterday all that changed. I discovered the physical challenges and benefits of a strong yoga routine, and more importantly I think, I discovered the power of savoring each moment as a precious gift. Every moment that passes is a death. A death of time that you will never get back. What you choose to do with your moments of time is a series of life or death decisions. A series of gifts.

I’m definitely looking forward to yoga next week. It does, after all, not suck. 

P90X – let the torture begin

Well hello there! It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Hope you didn’t miss me tooooo much. I’ve had a lot going on in the past couple of months and I have many exciting new things that I’d like to share with you. First things first though. To get back on track, let’s talk fitness. 

We’ve been doing “okay” with our running schedule. I say that in quotes because we’ve actually been doing terribly with our running schedule, BUT, not completely in vain. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to shave some serious time off of my Disneyland Half Marathon pace this year. The past two years have been great; but we’re gearing up for year 3 and it’s time to kick it up a notch! I need to progress to the next level of runner-dom. I’d like to run as close to, if not under a 10-minute mile for the majority of the race. I believe I can do it, and I know what stands in my way. All I have to do is create a plan of action to remove the obstacles from my path.

#1, Weight. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (except this time I’ll try and listen to myself), excess weight is really the number one factor that will slow you down. Muscle is one thing. Yes it weighs more so what I’m saying may sound counter intuitive, but muscle does something for you. Muscle helps move your blood around, gets oxygen to your lungs and propels you forward. Muscle is important and necessary, but it won’t matter a lick if you’re covering it up with dead weight in the form of fat. Fat is a dreaded enemy. It’s just like running with sandbags around your waist. Or with two small children holding onto your ankles.  Or carrying bricks in your pockets. Whatever visual works for you. It’s no good for a runner. So, in creating a plan to get to a 10-minute mile for the Half Marathon in September, I must include weight loss at the top of the priority list.

#2, muscle. A lean body is important for speed, but as I mentioned above, so is muscle. Running uses pretty much ALL of the muscles in your body in one way or another but it doesn’t necessarily build those muscles for you. Sure, it does to a point, but not to an optimal point. For example, a strong core is so crucial to strong running. It keeps your form tight, keeps you balanced, regulates your breath, alleviates pressure on your back. I could go on. However, running itself is not going to give you the strongest core possible. I’ve been running for years and I have a somewhat smallish waist, but I do NOT have a strong core. I used to. When I was doing Pilates religiously. I’ve never built a super strong core JUST from running. That’s just one example. The same could be said for your arms, legs and back muscles. For the past three years, running has pretty much been the sum total of my workout regimen. That’s all well and good, and I have excellent aerobic capacity because of it, but my body has plateaued. I’m not building up any new muscle by running, and it’s muscle I’m going to need if I want to speed up. So there we have #2 on the action plan. Build muscle.

Those are the two priorities right now. If I can drop some pounds and build some lean muscle, I know that I can get down to 10 minutes and under on race day. Now how do I do it? Lose weight, build muscle. Well, what can I say. There is one major zeitgeist in the fitness world right now that is pretty sure to do the trick. I’m finally jumping on the bandwagon, and taking on P90X.

I’m always late to these sorts of things. I hear about the latest fitness fad and I figure it’s just that, a fad. Everyone gets excited about it and in a couple of years something new comes along. Blah blah blah. That may be the case, and P90X will certainly lose fashion and join the ranks of outdated fitness crazes with Tae Bo and Jazzercise, but for now, I’m in. My friend Ryan did the program and sent me before and after pictures. I was so frickin’ AMAZED at what I saw, that I was sold. I think crazes are probably crazes for a reason. They work.

So that’s what’s happening on the road to Tahiti! I know that’s it’s going to be impossible to continue a 6 day a week running schedule AND stick to the P90X program. I’m not going to set myself up for failure in trying to accomplish that. I’m still going to run though. For. Sure. I can tell there are certain P90X days that are going to be easy enough on my body that I’ll still be able to do 3 mile runs. Shoulders & Arms for example. Totally. It was a tough workout on my arms but I could still run. Plyometrics on the other hand? No chance in hell. That one knocked me on my back for the entire day. Holy guacamole that was hard awesome!

I started the program last week while I was up visiting my Mom and I just have to share a funny story. I certainly got off to a hilarious start. Not sure if that’s what Tony Horton had in mind, but what can I say, my mom and I always end up laughing together. So here’s what happened. I can’t do pull ups… yet. They tell you to never say never in P90X but for now, ain’t no way. So instead I’m supposed to anchor my resistance band in a door jam; but my mom’s living room is this big open space and there were no door jams nearby. So instead, I had my mom hold on to one end of my resistance band while I did my workout. Let’s just say, I think she got a workout too. It was hilarious! Maybe you had to be there, but just look at the expression on my mom’s face!

hey, it worked

There was almost as much laughing in the first workout as there was me cursing and screaming in agony. Good pain though, good pain. I’ll tell you who’s having the last laugh…

curse you Tony Horton and your bazillion death push-ups!

So, in a nutshell, if you are looking ahead towards the Disneyland Half Marathon (or any upcoming race) and want to shave some time off your pace, consider jumping on the P90X bandwagon. It’s going to be hard work. That became very clear within 15 minutes. (I won’t even go into my arch enemy, Ab Ripper X, in this post).  But I know the payoff will be so sweet!

supergirls eat gummy bears

I keep delaying the epic post regarding our massive success at the Disneyland Half Marathon until Brad has time to edit the footage he took during the race. Until then I will systematically work through all of the little details that made the day so successful. Today, we shall talk about the magic of gummy bears.

I have blood sugar issues. I’ve never been diagnosed with diabetes or hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia but my blood sugar is very sensitive and fickle. I’ve shared before the horrors of a blood sugar crash during a long run and I was so worried that would happen this year. It didn’t. I performed with fabulous endurance and vitality. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t get nauseous. I didn’t feel dizzy. My blood sugar remained steady throughout. I could posit that this has everything to do with the rigorous discipline I put into the Supergirl diet in the days leading up to race, but I might be lying to you. The truth is, I think it has everything to do with Gummy Bears.

 I have a bit of a celebrity athlete crush on Jeff Galloway. He is totally the Chef Gusteau of the running world. He’s a class act, world-class actually, yet he makes running a completely accessible sport for anyone and everyone. He’s a guru, but down to earth. He runs something like 20 marathons every year and he believes that YOU can too. He’s even got my mom believing in herself enough to train for a half marathon. He’s like a magical running elf. He also happens to be the official trainer for the runDisney program. Disney picked the right guy to promote their running division for sure.

Okay, gush over. What I wanted to point out was that Jeff Galloway spoke at the Health & Fitness Expo hosted at the Disneyland Hotel the day before the race. I’m so glad that I got to hear him speak this year because one by one he addressed all of my issues with running that keep coming back to haunt me and gave me completely reasonable solutions. He talked about getting nauseous, trick ankles, what to eat before you run, hydration, heat, sleep, blood sugar. He hit all of the big topics. For now let’s discuss blood sugar. Jeff Galloway broke it down for us. It only takes about 20 minutes to burn through all of the glucose stores in your blood. After that, it starts to burn whatever else it can find like fat or muscle, but those are not as efficient forms of fuel as glucose. On a normal 3-5 mile run this is fine and even helps to burn fat, but if you go too long without replenishing your glucose stores (like you would on a half marathon) your body heads towards the sugar in your brain for fuel. Bad idea. It’s like you turn into a confused zombie that wants to eat its own brain. You should never let your sugar get that low. You can start to feel nauseous (check), dizzy (check), irritable (check) and disoriented (check). All of those things have happened to me. If not taken seriously this can actually lead to permanent brain damage or death and to quote Jeff Galloway, “I’m against death.”

“So how do we keep our         glucose levels steady in a long run?” Yes Jeff. How? I must know. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried nuts, I’ve tried sports drinks, I’ve tried muscle milk, I’ve tried bananas, I’ve tried Gu. Eeew! Gu. Wait, suddenly I hear Jeff talking about Gu. I have to hear this. He goes on to say that for many people Gu is an excellent sugar replacement. No Jeff no! I hate G… “BUT some people can’t digest it very well,” he finishes. What?! That’s me. He’s talking about me. He goes on to explain how the other properties in Gu, the electrolytes and stuff, are hard for some people to digest and actually make them feel nauseous. So I’m NOT crazy! In all my years as a runner, everyone tells me that Gu is the salvation. Gu will keep my blood sugar from dropping and will prevent me from puking. For me however, the very sight of Gu invokes a gag reflex. I thought my blood sugar must have been created on opposite day. I didn’t understand why Gu worked for every runner in the WORLD except me. Turns out it doesn’t. Oh Jeff. You’ve just restored my sanity. 

He goes on to explain that the only thing in Gu that you need to keep your blood sugar up is the sugar. Just pure sugar. So if you’re the type of person that can’t digest Gu then you should just try life savers, a sugar cube, or gummy bears. Gummy bears? Really? Did an Olympic champion just tell me to eat gummy bears during a half marathon? Yes. Yes he did. 

Well I give it a whirl. I buy some gummy bears at the Disney store and count out exactly how many I will need to get me through the race. Galloway suggests 4 bears every 3 miles so I put about 20 in my wrist pouch just to be safe.

Friends, it worked. I think these particular gummy bears may have actually been magic. I never felt my blood sugar dip in the slightest. I never got dizzy or pukey. I actually increased my speed at the last mile, powered by glee, gummy bears, and Jeff Galloway. After two weeks of eating strictly raw almonds, rice, vegetables and hummus, the key to my performance success turned out to be nature’s enemy… high fructose corn syrup. Fine by me. Since I burned every single gram of gummy sugar I put into my body while running it’s really not unhealthy. I just had to remind myself to stop eating them after crossing the finish line. Now go get yourself some gummy bears!

i even look like a gummy bear

supergirl day 4 – 8

Day 4

BREAKFAST

  • 1 packet organic oatmeal
  • 2 tsp raw turbinado sugar
LUNCH
  • mixed green salad w/ cucumber, goat cheese, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and balsamic vinagrette
  • 1 iced tea
DINNER
  • Snacky Foods at the “Wonderlust” opening night party:
  • hummus with pita, 2 slices cheddar cheese, 4 fresh figs, sampling of fresh tropical fruits, and a few itty bitty bites of spinach sour cream dip (I couldn’t resist!)
Day 5
BREAKFAST
  • 1/2 egg white omelet with swiss cheese, spinach and mushrooms
  • a few bits of potatoes
  • 1/2 english muffin with apple butter (no regular butter)
LUNCH
  • mixed green salad with tomato, cucumber, onion, carrots, fresh bean sprouts and balsamic vinaigrette
DINNER
  • 1 Trader Joe’s green chile tamale (again, not like normal fat full Mexican food. This stuff from TJ’s is not bad for you)
  • 1 Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burger (amazing!) on whole wheat bread with onion
  • 2 fresh figs
SNACK

  • 1/2 slice Trader Joe’s garlic naan with low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, avocado and mini heirloom tomatoes
  • raw organic almonds
Day 6
BREAKFAST
  • Organic Instant oatmeal with 1 tsp organic brown sugar and 1 tsp butter (weekend splurge)
  • 1 banana
LUNCH
  • 1 tuna salad sandwich from One Life Natural Foods. Tuna on wheat bread with lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots and somehow-not-bad-for-you mayonnaise
  • 1 serving Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips
DINNER
  • Thai Tom Yum soup from Chan Darae (lemongrass soup. Delish!) with shrimp
  • 1 cup brown rice
Day 7
BREAKFAST
  • Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher
  • 1 serving raw organic almonds
LUNCH
  • Mixed greens salad with tuna, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, red onion, croutons and lite caesar dressing
DINNER
  • Spaghetti with Mama Coco’s basil marinara sauce (this is THE best pasta sauce in the world. Run out and look for Mama Coco’s. You will thank me)
  • 1/2 slice Trader Joe’s garlic naan
DESSERT
  • 2 bites Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I caved! I know it’s wrong. Anything with the word “chunky” in the title is NOT on the Supergirl diet. But I only had two widdle bites. I swear! 
Day 8
BREAKFAST
  • 1/2 Vegetable sandwich. Weird breakfast food I know, but I was craving it. I read some good advice once that said don’t feel limited at breakfast time. Just because it’s breakfast doesn’t mean you HAVE to have something sweet or with eggs in it. If you feel like having a sandwich, have a sandwich. Healthy choices are more important than staying in the breakfast box
LUNCH

  • 1 small greek salad with kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lemon oregano dressing
SNACK
  • 1 Tuna bistro box from Starbuck’s
  • Trader Joe’s Thai Lime & Chili Cashews. These are to die for. Proceed with caution however, as it’s very easy to eat more than one serving
DINNER
  • Homemade vegetable stir fry, made in olive oil, with 1 cup brown rice and 1/4 cup shrimp
DESSERT
  • 5 dark chocolate covered almonds. Get off my case. Both dark chocolate and almonds are antioxidant rich superfoods, so eat up Supergirl!