celebrations

Let’s Talk Music 2021

On January 25, 2020, I wrote a random blog post on music. This was not long after I laid out my 2020 goals which included an anthem or song for the year. Some choose words each year, for me I chose music last year. I’m pretty sure it was the first time I ever acknowledged music in this way but it was a symbol in the crazy world of 2020.

So here we are in January 2021. I reviewed my most played songs of 2020 and there were a few consistent as I spent many hours driving in solitude. Of course my anthem was the #1 played song but it had me thinking about what my anthem would be for 2021.

Not much thought after that until today. Boom a text was received and it all changed in a moment. A moment like this, as Kelly Clarkson would belt out.

Some lyrics that fuel me:

I am healthy,

I am wealthy

I am not going to take your shit

I am protected, well respected

I’m a queen, I’m a dream

I do what I wanna do

I’m who I wanna be

‘Cause I’m me

I’m fly as bees

I drive

I’m independent

Everything on me

I’m a queen

Not every word applies but the ones above ring true to my strength, my confidence, my gait, and so on. I am me. No carbon copies. A queen in my own world. Which all seems appropriate since my song of 2020 was Queens Don’t by Rae Lynn.

A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made…
Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight….
Every jewel on my crown, you better believe I earned..

Thank you ladies for putting out some amazing lyrics to keep me focused on 2020 and 2021. I just add. No need to confuse me my confidence with arrogance. I work for what I deserve. I work hard. I play just as hard. I treat others the way I would want to be treated.
This year’s song is a symbol of my attitude as I attack 2021 with vim and vigor.  ‘Cause I’m me and this is my style.

Hope you find your theme song for the year if it strikes your fancy like it did mine. I am truly lucky to have many in my life who see me as having the shining light of a queen. The commanding personality of a leader. The attitude of an independent thinker and so much more.

Off to live my best queen life. Today, tomorrow and the next day. 

face blowing a kiss
author moments

New Year New Fun

As the new year is upon us, I like to review. For me I took a random look at my blog content for 2020. I reached out and pulled up 3 random postings. Now I will reflect on my review of this in a snapshot since so much change was upon the world in 2020.

Daydreaming 8/26/20

Ah the day dream post. I admire Sara Blakely from afar. If I happen to be on LinkedIn I may catch a daily dose of her sass and awesomeness. I may catch a photo of the vibe in her office from the acquaintance I know who works there. It’s a great glimpse into the dynamic work / life balance of a positive woman in business. Not to mention she has amazing coffee cup poses. Details matter. Not only is she thriving during the pandemic she is still inspiring through her Red Backpack Grant program. Amazing work!

This reflection reminds me to always dream. Always be looking to what’s possible on the horizon. How to be fresh when all else seems ordinary.

This year I drifted to daydream about growth. It’s a widely casted net but it has thus far provided amazing opportunities. Just dream it. Just keep dreaming!

Gift of Words 12/23/20

I read this post and reread it several times. A different view or vantage point as this task pulled random posts.

My two cents is what an amazing post. Just what many needed to read about. However, I thought about words in written form vs. words spoken. How much are people missing that spoken connection?

I used to think we needed to have the verbal interaction however since the world has been digital I see how some deal without those words everyday. Those who are deaf can’t hear the word but they rely on sign language and reading lips. If they already weren’t dealt a raw hand with being deaf, now they have to deal with masks. That may take communication away for those people. Or does it?

We have text. Generally speaking before the pandemic I thought texting was lazy. A way to hide and not face people in person. I never considered the shy person or the person with anxiety who struggles in speaking publicly. Texting is a communication outlet. It’s an option for those who can’t read lips now. 

What about the slow thinkers? They can craft their words in written form until they see perfection vs. having diarrhea of the mouth. These things never carried much weight for me before the pandemic. I thought about you can’t hear emotion. You can’t hear tone. Too much room for misinterpretation. How I missed the big picture.

The gift of words can be spoken, written by hand, texted and any other form some may use of other digital form such as photos, Bitmoji, or icons. Just another slant on the gift of words as I reflect.

One can be capable of reading emotion, intention, pain if they listen to the words in a text vs. focus on the written word in isolation. 

Oops I Did It 9/19/20

Well this is such a funny recap today of all days. It’s about my shoe fetish and my special edition Nike metcons I bought this year. 

I love them to this day. One of my favorite shoe purchases to date. They always get a second look. Some think I have on two different shoes. Nope, but I have done that before. Others think they are custom. Nope. They are a mashups of the year’s hits.

Complex, colorful and just badass. Not made for the basic person. Made for those bold enough to strut around in them. I just love them.

But the real irony is earlier today I was on the nike.com website designing a new pair of custom shoes. I wanted a new pair to launch the new year and nothing on the shelf jumped out at me. That meant I needed to design a bold pair. I have an upcoming competition and definitely need some new shoes to celebrate my competition.

There they are. Check out the colors and the bold design. Dr. Seuss said why fit in when you were born to stand out? I’m choosing to ring in the new year with some flair on my feet. I probably need them to run, jump, bounce and leap around all the obstacles. They will still be lurking as I try to launch an amazing year.

This little reflection exercise was fun and spontaneous. I think I’ll make it an annual project. I hope you can find something fun in your life to do like I just did. 

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Duathlon DIY-Style, and 2021’s OLW

One of my goals last year was to challenge myself to a duathlon. I ended up registering for a summer triathlon which was pushed back until next year.

I had all but given up on this goal at the end of the summer. After the race was postponed, I lost my excitement and drive to train and learn for the event. It wasn’t until a friend rallied a group of gym women around an engine building cardio challenge that I found the will to run and bike again with any kind of regularity.

I knew I wouldn’t tri this year, but a duathlon wasn’t out of the question. I decided not to register for an official race at year end. But I wanted to at least complete a “ceremonial” sprint duathlon to have a benchmark and a check mark. So I went for it one frigid December morning just after sunrise. Just me, my playlist, my essentials and my mileage counters. On my mark, get set, go.

3.1 mile run. The mist was rising off the lake. Bridges were still slippery from the chill and the dew. Three loops, making my way along. Not too fast, but not too bad

Transition to the bike. Fleece hat off, helmet on. Legs adjusting to the pedals. Skittering along. Ups, downs, loops. The sting of the cold on my face. Losing feeling in my hands as I watch the miles tick, tick, tick away. Singing along while avoiding potholes and traffic. I finally found a quarter mile loop for a soccer field off the beaten path. Rode it again and again and again for about 8 miles. Only a quick stop for a carb boost in the middle. Then back to dancing on the pedals. Saddle soreness set in at mile 8. Toe cramps began at 10. I held on to finish the 12.4 mile stretch. Ended this leg averaging 10.9 mph which is actually a decent pace. If I had been on flats the whole time it would have been quicker. Lifting and loading my bike with frozen hands was a challenge all its own.

Then the final crunch. The one you train for. The one that hurts. Off the bike and into the last run. When I trained for the tri early this year, I read about this transition and how brutal it is. The quick pace of the bike makes that last mile grueling at best. I started pretty well then it quickly deteriorated. As the mile wore on, I just willed myself forward. I passed a committee of vultures. Keep singing. Dodged piles of goose poop on the path. Keep moving. Step after step. One at a time. No stopping. Knees hurting. No breaks. Just all ahead as much as I can.

I finished. No crowds no medals no beers or cokes. No parades or high fives. No banana no T-shirt. But I checked it off. I don’t need festivities to know what I have done. Didn’t quite make it under my two hour goal, but sometimes completion is the victory in that moment. I will get that goal next time. I’ll take my imaginary participation ribbon thankyouverymuch.

A DIY-duathlon gives you a lot of time to think. My mind couldn’t help but wander as I looped around and around. As much discomfort as I felt, I thanked my body for carrying me through those 17-plus miles. My mental and physical stamina made it a successful effort. A year like this one makes me realize all the more how much these different types of health are worth.

I’ve shared many times how much I love words and wordplay here on the blog. In those bike miles, I found my mind playing with the word duathlon. I bet many people didn’t even know that was a word. Then I broke it into do-athlon. Which led to a good long think about the word “DO.” I am such a thinker, often an overthinker, and not always such a do-er. I decided in those miles that my word of 2021 will be DO. It will be my year to jump in and get things done. I’m still settling into this word and what it will mean for me. I hope you’ll read along wherever the path leads.

friendship, giving

Longest Night

When became an adult, got married, moved into a house and had kids (not necessarily in that order), I joined a Methodist church. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school, so this was a big change. One of the first new traditions I embraced was the Longest Night. Each year, on Winter Solstice, the Methodist church had a service that focused on the darker times of the past year. People came who had experienced loss, depression. grief.

At that point, I had recently lost my mother. I had a new baby, a new home, and was overwhelmed and heavy-hearted. I joined the bell choir and played for that service. That first year, I remember just crying through the whole thing.

As you can imagine, the service is not just about loss. Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Once Solstice is over, brighter days are literally ahead. So the service is also about finding hope. About persistence. About the triumph of good and light.

I love symbolism so this service always meant a lot to me. I like the idea of things getting better. Of marking time. The cycle of increasing light. And it always comes just before Christmas, a time of frantic preparation. It is a moment to just be still and reflect.

I don’t attend that church these days, but I still take time to reflect every Solstice and remind myself that lighter days are ahead.

This year the Solstice seemed both especially poignant and especially necessary. COVID has wreaked havoc on many lives. So many in my circle have lost loved ones this year. Some due to COVID, others for other natural reasons, but COVID took away our ability to gather and mourn in the way we all want and need to. Still others are hunkered down at home to protect themselves and loved ones, which brings all the pain and challenge of isolation, disruption of routine, and more.

It has just been a heavy year.

I started hearing about the “Christmas Star” (or Great Conjunction) a few weeks before Solstice. Again, the symbolism of Solstice, this unique astronomical happening, and the stars were literally aligned.

I also had it in my mind to go caroling this year. I say every year I want to sing for people more (and not just the poor people at the gym who have to hear me sing along to the soundtrack when I’m squatting). I don’t know why I expect opportunities to be a backup singer for Yacht Rock Revue to fall out of the sky. This Solstice I see I need to create those opportunities.

Who could I bring some light to? We decided to visit two special Moms who have had challenging years, each in their own ways.

I loaded my car and started the night by going out to see the Christmas Star. I went to a parking lot in a remote park about 15 minutes from my house. I was surprised to find about 25 other cars in the lot, all there to view this planetary wonder. I just took some time to quietly look and think about this year and its gifts.

Then, it was over the river and through the woods to the first grandmother’s house. A couple of friends and family members joined in. We dressed silly, I brought my sleigh bells and song books, and off we set to spread some cheer. Our living room concerts brought laughter and tears, smiles and singing along. We took requests. We flubbed the lyrics and stumbled over melodies. We jingled our bells, giggled, swayed and twinkled. In the end, we brought cheer and good tidings and light. On the way to grandmother two’s house we saw lights and so many other holiday sights.

Both these women have lived through this challenging year. They’ve made the most of it. I hope we brought some light and hope to their lives this December. I know their smiles and delight lifted me up. As one of them put it, when we said our goodbyes, “same time next year!”

It’s a date.

perspective

Artistry

Capturing the beauty of a person, place or thing via a photo is amazing. I personally love looking at photos as well as taking them. Capturing true artistry in photos is another level of wow.

Recently I looked at some photos and noted the true artistry within the photos. The way an object was captured. The lighting. The magnification. The placement of surrounding items. The background. The fine details. They all collided.

I saw vision. I saw clarity. I saw depth. I understood the artistry of the photo. It didn’t happen just once. It involved multiple amazing shots. What I learned was how so many enjoy photography for not only its beauty but for its depth and artistry. For some a hobby. For others a professional career. For some it’s just capturing moments in time.

The ability to look through a lens and paint a picture for others who may not be able to live the moment. Through a camera lens one can allow others to share in the beauty of the person, place or thing. Sharing their artistry one photo at a time.

What I like to do is let my mind drift or wander through photos, through life, through experiences. How can I see the artistry of life through another lens. Maybe a picture. Maybe a painting. Maybe another’s eyes.

Oh the journeys we can take if we immerse ourselves in the beauty of the environment and allow artistry a chance. Look beyond the ordinary of today. The mundane of today.

Find the beauty of a fall leaf. The color in a butterfly’s wings. See if you can look at the beauty of your environment through a different lens. You may have looked at the same window view a thousand times and never see the glimmer of light that has hit a flower in a magical light at a certain hour each day. However the camera lens may have caught it. Another’s view of your ordinary.

There is a beauty in the lens of others. An artistry of life that can be observed by others when they are free in mind and spirit to enjoy. Soak in the beauty of today vs. the worries of tomorrow. 

We can all look at things in life and cast shadows or doubts. We can all look at the same things in life to see beauty. Choose wisely. Life doesn’t last forever.