Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And the livin's easy...

Volunteering at last year's Night at the Tropics.  An annual summer soiree benefitting the Aviary. Yay Sundresses!

They say that smell is the sense most closely associated with memory.  I would argue that at times music can be a stronger reminder, but the scent thing is definitely true.

Our apartment takes on a certain scent when the air conditioning is on.  Not good or bad, just distinctive.  I forgot about this until I came home this evening, and as I climbed the stairs was hit in the face with a deluge of memories from last summer.

Summer is here again y'all, and with stuff like this, and this, oh, and this to look forward to I think it will be swell.  I hope everyone had a great Memorial day and is wearing lots of SPF!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Running, Endorphins, and Ultra-marathons

11:00:02 AM Kelsey Halling: so, I finished born to run.
11:00:15 AM Kelsey Halling: wanna do a 50 mile race when we're 27 and at our peak?
11:00:21 AM Running Buddy: duh

I don't know that we actually will.  Talk to me in 3 years.

Between reading Born to Run, running the Pittsburgh half marathon, and running a 5k with my girls from Girls on the Run, running has dominated this month.

Luckily, the wet coldness that was April and the better part of May has suddenly broken out into 80 degrees and sunshine. So with no spring, Pittsburgh has catapulted into summer. And that means running weather.  It's light out early, it stays light out late, you don't have to wear 20 layers, and you don't spend the first hour with your lungs burning waiting for your body to get numb so that you stop feeling the cold.  No, instead, you throw on a t shirt and shorts and run out of the house, and have a great time and wonder why you ever stopped doing this so much.

My favorite part of Born to Run, wasn't the crazy stories of ultra-runners (though they were inspiring), or the evolutionary evidence that homo-sapiens were in fact born to run (though that was fascinating), it was the recounting of the sheer joy of running.  Of what it feels like to reach that point of mind-body-spirit connectedness that is all consuming.  The realization that not only is running fun, it makes us better people.

Around mile 2 of last weekend's 5k, we hit another hard uphill, and the girls I was running with were starting to slow down.

 "If you keep working this hard," I said, "then you'll get endorphins, and that will feel great."

"What are endorphins?" they asked.

"Well, when your body works really hard, it releases these chemicals, called endorphins, which make you feel good as a reward for working so hard."

They nodded before one of them leaned into the hill and took off yelling "Come on, body!"

It was awesome.  We finished the race in 40 minutes.  I was so proud of them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Things Lately, That Have Changed My Life

Occasionally, we encounter major shifts in our lives that change things forever.  We get new jobs, we move to new cities, we cut all our hair off, we start or end a significant relationship, we get an iphone.

More often though, we encounter slight changes, either by incorporating new habits into our daily routine, or perhaps breaking bad habits, which essentially change our lives.  In that spirit, here are some things, which are really not a big deal at all, yet have made me healthier, happier, and shifted my perspective.

1. A Hula-Hoop

Remember those?  There's this awesome chick in Pittsburgh, named Stefanie Moser, who is a hula-hooping genius.  She teaches a hula-hooping class at the Union Project, and she also makes her own hoops!  She was a featured artist at this year's Love of Friends.  I ordered a hoop from her, and she asked for my measurements, and colors I liked.  I told her I love purple.  When I went to pick up my hoop, she explained, "I know you said you liked purple, so I obviously used that, but then I was going through your facebook profile, and noticed a lot of red too, so I used that as well."  She didn't just make a hula-hoop, she custom-made me a hula-hoop.  (and my generation loves anything that makes us feel special)

But, why did I want one in the first place?  Well, I have the space in my apartment, and I figured that if I was going to be hanging out watching tv or something, that it's better to hula-hoop while doing it.  Hula hooping is just the right level of activity, to be able to actually enjoy watching a movie or television, while not feeling like a total couch potato.  It's also not a bad way to strengthen your core (which is helpful in running.)  Finally, and most importantly, it is fun!  Really fun!  You should try it.  And you should order your hoop from Stefanie.

2. Twin Peaks

The 90's television show my parents watched, yes that Twin Peaks.  After hearing about it forever, I finally decided to check it out since it's on Netflix.  And it is so much better than I could have hoped.  It's scary, and funny, and hilariously dramatic, and the style is terrific. While you probably won't find me hiking through the woods of northern Washington anytime soon, you may find me checking out career options with the FBI  (the same thing happened when the artist and I watched x-files).

3. Leah Shannon's blog, Brazen Kitchen. 

I know Leah through The Midwife Center, we're both on the Let Them Eat Cake planning committee.  I read her blog, and thought it was cool, but then, THEN, I started trying her recipes.

First of all, Leah is a vegan, and I am not.  BUT, I don't like to cook meat, and her recipes looked so appealing and easy that I couldn't help but try them out. (I may have snuck some butter in.)

Last night, I tried her vegan macaroni and cheese recipe.  People, if you know me, you know how much I love cheese.  Particularly when melted, baked, and served with carbs.  If anyone was going to be skeptical about this dish it would be me.  But, you guys, it was actually delicious!  She doesn't use fake, soy cheese either. The sauce is made totally out of veggies.  I couldn't have been more shocked. And happy!  Healthy mac and cheese?!?  Hello new staple food in my diet!

4. Standing at my desk.

I saved my favorite one for last.  I've been hearing for months now how sitting all day long is 1) making us obese and 2) killing us.  In fact, further and scarier research shows it doesn't even matter if you work out regularly, you're still at risk for lots of unpleasantness if you sit all day.  No thank you.  I don't train for marathons, just to have it all negated by a desk job.

I started to hate my chair.  Finally, last week I read yet another article on how sitting is killing us all, but this one had a solution.  Put a box on your desk they said, and set your laptop on the box.  Voila, standing desk.

So I did that!  And it's been amazing!  My posture is better, my back doesn't hurt.  I'm more productive.  I don't get the 4 o'clock slump, or the after lunch slump, in fact, I haven't been tired at work at all since I started doing this.  Stand up, you'll feel better.  And you'll burn a few more calories too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

In which, I explain Take Over Tuesdays

Precisely and I have this thing about reading one another our horoscopes for the day in the morning.  I'm not sure when this started.  Probably when there was an app for daily horoscopes.  Like most of our inside jokes, I decided to take it one step further, and bought a book on Astrology I found for a dollar on clearance at Marshalls as a Christmas present to us.

We celebrated the winter solstice in 2010 by drinking Woodchuck cider, and reading each other information on our respective signs.  Precisely is a Scorpio.  I am an Aries. (duh).*

The book was mostly what you would expect of something that cost a dollar, complete with some wonderful stock photography which we found hilarious.

The thing that stuck, was Take Over Tuesdays.  See, each sign has a corresponding day of the week, which is supposed to be extra powerful, lucky, full of good energy etc.  The day for both Scorpios and Aries (according to the book) is Tuesday.

Upon learning this, Precisely (the writer) immediately deemed this concept "Take Over Tuesday".  (We're both Type A's remember).

So, Take Over Tuesday is the idea that THIS is the day each week, you work really hard, for the whole day.  You take over at your job, in your work-out/training routine, with your social life.  You go big or you go home.

This doesn't mean you get to slack for the rest of the week, but it does ensure that all that stuff that needs to be taken care of, gets taken care of.

We even have a special chocolate coffee we save for Tuesday mornings only.  No seriously, it's Godiva Chocolate Truffle, my Mom got it for me for Easter, and it is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!

So this morning, I have an important meeting, and then after work, I am kicking my butt into running 12 miles, because I'm registered for the Pittsburgh half-marathon which is in 13 days, and I have been the laziest slacker to ever slack in training (if you can even call what I've been doing training) up to this point.

Try it out world.  Even if you're a Capricorn.  Take over today!

* We do not follow that stupid new astrological chart, with the Ophiuchus sign.  We follow the one we grew up with.  There's no way I'm a Pisces.  Not now.  Not never.