Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

I found myself in Detroit this weekend, and after observing the expected site of abandoned buildings and dilapidated houses, I made my normal round of jokes.  Blame it on the Chicagoan in me.  But then, after I stopped my clowning, I saw something very unexpected.  In fact, I saw several unexpecteds.

Deep down in the heart of the city, past the abandoned buildings and the rubble of bricks that boasted of better days, I saw a fighter’s spirit.  I was able to recognize it, because I have one too.

I was wowed by the Riverwalk and amazed by the gorgeous loft-like apartment that my friends call home.  Its high ceilings with exposed wood beams hearken to the building’s former life, as a piano warehouse, or a storage facility for car parts or some other industrial location that was required of the formerly industrious city.

After a short stroll the Riverwalk opened to a plaza that hosted a modest African/Caribbean festival set to the sound of the familiar thump of reggae music.  Vendors hawked their wares of scarves transformed into dresses, natural soap, Roti and ginger beer.

I even found some creativity.

Detroit taught me something about unexpected adventures.  As summer is drawing to an end, I’m looking over my Beach Balls and Sand Pails list and I’m checking it twice.  While I’ve touched on just about everything I wanted to do this summer (meaning that I’m working on things in the hopes of accomplishing them), I’m wondering where I’ll find the next adventure, and something tells me it’ll be in an unexpected place.

Are you open to finding your next adventure?

On the 3rd of May, just three months ago, despite my fear of commitment, I jotted down a few summertime goals, hoping to chip away at my life to do list.  The funny thing is, the goal I was the least sure about completing, is the one I finished first.

½ Marathon, CHECK.

What else you got?

This past Sunday, (after running 11 1/2 miles) I ran the last ½ mile of my last long run for my ½ marathon training.  Some people say you shouldn’t do a long run the weekend before your big race, but I saw that Hal Higdon okayed it, so I went for it.  Plus I needed it to silence the voices in my head.

Two Sundays ago, I ran 11 miles, which was a huge jump for me, since I had run 9 miles the Sunday before that.  The 11-mile run felt horrible.  Well, there were a few bright spots in there, like from mile 4-7, but miles 1-4 and 7-11 taunted me, every time my foot connected with the ground.  Every centimeter of every mile dared me to quit.  It was the best of times and the worst of times, just like Dickens said.  The best because I finished and the worst because I felt every, single, solitary step along the way.

To make sure I didn’t take that bad taste in my mouth to Race Day, I had to run this past weekend, just to prove it to myself.  Just to silence the voices.

This isn’t my first ½ marathon, you know.  Ironically, I ran one before, when I studied abroad in Spain, but I didn’t train for that one.  I set out with a wish and prayer and a really great Muhammad Ali quote, “When a man says I cannot, he has made a suggestion to himself.  He has weakened his power of accomplishing that which otherwise would have been accomplished.”  Though I knew nothing about running at the time, I had it half right.  Life is all about silencing the voices, especially the voices of your haters.

There’s always gonna be someone telling you you can’t.  Worst case scenario is when that someone is you.  Learn to silence the voices.  Running, like life, is a mental game.  The winners learn how to play it best.

I’m not just running for fun, if you’d like to help educate kids in India through my run, donate here.

This year I am running the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in Chicago on August 1, 2010.  When I decided to run I wanted to make sure that I was doing this for someone other than myself.  I wanted to be a part of something greater than the race I am going to complete.  I decided that I wanted to fundraise for a charity organization which supports educating young people.

Asha for Education exists to catalyze socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children. Since 1991 Asha for Education has supported over 385 individual projects across India and disbursed more than six million dollars in educational funding.  According to Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, Asha for Education ranks among the top in the field of International Relief and Development.

I would like to ask you to support my fundraising efforts by donating to Asha for Education.  My fundraising goal is $900.  I will be paying for all of my training costs, including race registration and group training fees so every penny raised goes directly to support ASHA projects.  I understand that we are living in challenging and uncertain economic times therefore ANY amount you are willing to donate would be greatly appreciated.  Click here to donate:

I run so they can read,

Helpful Websites

Donate Here:

Team Asha Chicago: http://www.ashanet.org/chicago/marathon/

Team Asha Chicago Blog: http://ashanet.org/chicago/blogs/teamashachicago/

Asha for Education: http://www.ashanet.org/

Asha for Education Chicago Projects: http://ashanet.org/chicago/projects.php

Took a break from my relentless pursuit to conquer my never-ending to do list and took in some jazz at a local Jazz Joint last night.  Listening to live jazz is one of those things I love to say that I like to do (cuz it sounds hip) but never act upon.  Now, I can say that I’ve done it and officially lay claim to my hipness.

Even in my pursuit to relax, on my small couch situated near the stage, my mind raced with thoughts.  First the thoughts were mundane and observatory, like “Wow his fingers sure are moving fast.” and “Hmm, I wonder how much he practiced as a kid.” and “What good embouchure he has.”  Those initial thoughts were mindless, but always taunting.  Taunting because they mocked the fact that I couldn’t let my thoughts go.  They were relentless jabs at the fact that my mind must always incessantly race and think and ponder and prod and race and think and ponder and prod and race…well you get the idea.

Sitting in the midst of a storm of thoughts gave me every sensation of sitting in the middle of a Winter Wonderland snow globe…and then, out of nowhere, it was as though the pesky kid that was shaking the globe, suddenly lost his fascination and put the useless toy aside.  And when the snow settled, my thoughts slowed to a turtle’s crawl and then became playful.  It’s almost as if they began to flirt with the sound that surrounded them.  As the trumpeter pushed out an airy ballad that contrasted with all I heard before, my thoughts matched his pace.  The sound was naked and vulnerable, the bassist, pianist, saxophonist and drummer sat in reverent silence, as if they were allowing the trumpeter to tell a story that was all his own – one that only he could describe.

It was at that moment that I attempted to set the experience to words.  It was the most natural thing I knew to do.  Just as they heard notes where others heard silence, I heard words where others heard music.  As in life, I hear stories in the midst of conversation.  I see a lifetime of experiences etched on the homeless man’s face and a lifetime of lessons taught through songs and playful anecdotes in the thoughtful wrapping of a young Muslim girl’s hijab.  Instead of music, I run to the rhythm of words.  I experience life through words.

So now I ask you, what do you see/hear/feel when no one’s around?  When you’ve figured that out, you’ve figured out where you belong.

I set out at the beginning of this summer to knock some things off of my Sand Pails list, since I’m too commitaphobic to commit to a Bucket list.  Even with the short list I had, I realized I could hardly update my blog and work on my list simultaneously.  I’ve always prided myself on being a multi-tasker.  I’ve even argued fervently with men about how women are more adept at multi-tasking than they are, but lately, I’ve only been able to be singularly focused.  Good for me!  Bad for the Blog!

Here’s my progress on my Sandpail List:

Take a Salsa Class  While I haven’t taken a Salsa Class, I have gone to Salsa twice in the last three weeks.  I have no sudden plans to quit my day job, but at least I’m getting my Salsa fix and meeting cool people along the way.  Any Salsa tips for me?

Finish & Submit my PhD Applications  I’ve never been so intimidated by a process before, until now.  It’s overwhelming to me.  I had a good sit down with my Mentor yesterday and she convinced me to write a new writing sample to submit with my application.  That advice, though probably what I needed to hear, was daunting.  Now I’m trying to figure out what to write about and if I still know how to write a Research Paper.  I sure hope so, seeing as I want to get my PhD!

Finish & Submit my Book Proposal I just realized that all of these things on this list are stressful in different ways.  The Salsa tests my ability to move!  The PhD application is just down right stressful and daunting and intimidating.  I’m not usually one to let something overwhelm me, but for some reason, the PhD thing is OVERWHELMING!  The Book Proposal is emotionally draining.  I’ve submitted to it to two agents to no avail.  I’m currently waiting to hear back from another person.  The good part about this one, is that I TOTALLY believe in this book, so I kindof see it like marriage.  I’m not really worried about if it’ll happen, I’m more concerned that I find the right person (agent & publisher).  I’m ready for me to finish writing the book so I can read it (if that makes sense to you).  I write so I can figure things out and I’m eager to get to figuring.

Reconnect with 3 people My best friend will sign off on this one and say I’ve been a failure.  She’s even given me assignments to help me reconnect with people, and I’ve failed.  There’s still a little bit of summer left to go for me to recover.

½ Marathon  I actually signed-up for a ½ marathon that’s scheduled for the beginning of August.  I’m a little behind on the mileage, but I did get 3 good runs in this weekend.  I’ll update you on this front.

Hopefully I can get my multi-focus to catch up with my multi-dreams, until then, let me know how you’re faring with your summertime goals…

While taking my long Sunday morning run, in preparation for a half-marathon, I willed myself to push to the end of my designated running length for the day.  Just as I was approaching the point where there was only about 1 mile left to run, I could see in the distance a group of geese that had laid claim to a piece of the road through which I would have to pass.  They almost had the look of the mafia, daring anyone to enter their turf at their own risk.  As I approached the group of ruffians from the North, an unassuming biker approached them from the South.  While a small opening was created on my side, through which I could easily pass, the biker’s fate was not so certain.  With caution the biker attempted to pick his way gingerly through the small gang.  Unfortunately for him, the birds were well unaware of their hierarchy on the food chain and they were unwilling to move out of the way.  As his reward for demanding his “right-of-way” one of the bolder geese in the group hissed at the biker with unrelenting bravado.  Good for the goose!

As you chase your dreams, you’ll be presented with the opportunity to compromise your beliefs.  And though it may put you on the fast track to getting where you’re going, you may not feel so good about it once you get there.

Never give up ground on an issue you believe in, no matter how low you are on the food chain.