Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas came early

The older I get, the more I feel like the commercialization of Christmas just seems to add more stress and anxiety to something that shouldn’t be stressful at all. At holidays like Thanksgiving, all I’m required to do is show up, eat all the wonderful food that has been prepared, and take the time to think about and express what I am truly thankful for. I get to be around all my friends and family without worrying if they’re going to like the random scarf I spent hours at the crowded mall for and really just ended up purchasing because I couldn’t find anything else. I don’t have to feel guilty when so and so hands me a gift and I don’t have any gift to give in return so I make up some lame excuse about how I forgot it at home and will get it to them asap. There is no reason to put unneeded charges on my credit card for a bunch of things for other people that are unneeded to begin with. Where is the joy in that?!

The fact of the matter is I actually like gift giving. And of course… I LOVE gift getting. ☺ I think it’s the pressure that usually ends up getting to me and ruining the beauty of it. Sometimes I think it would be nice if you could just give a friend a gift the third Saturday of July and say MERRY CHRISTMAS! Or, be walking through the mall and grab something small for your Mom just because you know she would like it, and not still feel obligated to find something she may or may not like by December 25th. Nobody has to pretend they love the new flannel pajamas from Grandma.

So, out of all the “gifts” I might get this year, I think I may have already received my favorite one. I just finished slathering my lips with my new Burt’s Bees chapstick, bought for me by my best friend this weekend while we were out enjoying life and being thankful for the amazing friendships we’ve kept alive the last 15 years. (In case you aren’t aware, Burt’s Bee’s is the fancy schmancy stuff, not just the regular, plain kind I usually purchase for myself. It’s easily four bucks at least.) Hours earlier I had complained of chapped lips and while she was at the register purchasing a book at Border’s, she saw the chapstick and thought of me. When she got back to the table she told me to close my eyes and hold out my palm, then proceeded to drop this little gem into my outstretched hand. I squealed in delight. No, really…I did. Hopefully she realizes that it’s probably the best Christmas gift I’ll get this year and that she is totally off the hook a month from now. Because to me, that simple act of kindness was indicative of how I want all my gifts to be given. Simple...from the heart…and given just because. If it happens in December that’s fine, but it’s not necessary. Every time I use my chapstick I will think of her and the amazing, thoughtful friend that she is. Merry Christmas to me… on November 28th.

And here are some pics of the people I love and are thankful for that I got to spend some quality time with this weekend...

My beautiful cousins,sis, and I

My best friends (the chapstick giver is 2nd from right!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a day that you remember all the things you are thankful for. The premise might be a little flawed, seeing as how it originated from a day where we kicked Native Americans off their own land and claimed it for our own—just cuz we could—but why we celebrate it today and what it means in our hearts is something totally different. We give thanks for what we have been blessed with, and hopefully we thank the Man who has given us all those blessings. Of course this could and should be done last Monday or three Fridays from now, but today is the day we make a big hoopla about it. So I decided to start going over what I’m thankful for. First and foremost, my eyes are open. I woke up today a healthy human being and so I might as well start there. After that, the list is endless. Being able to travel and see the world…The Twilight series…the most amazing friends a girl could ask for… ‘animal style’ at In n Out…a family who continuously loves and supports me…matinee movies with snacks snuck in…Church on Sunday morning…my amazing lasagna recipe…being able to spend every day focusing on something I am truly passionate about…having a car that gets really good gas mileage…meeting new people who bless and enrich my life…never having to live somewhere where it snows…being an American…still being in my 20’s…the list can literally go on and on. I know we all have numerous things we are able to put in the “and thank you for that” column. If you’d like to add a thing or two here, please be my guest!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Annoyed...and slightly envious

A while back I mentioned that I had started attending spin class to help me get back in shape. I’m not able to go all that frequently now that I must be on the track five days a week, but every once in a while I try to sneak a class in. Like today. Today I went, and my favorite whooper and hollerer was there, three bikes down. He was in full effect today, and I have come to expect nothing less. Of course he has the knee length professional biker shorts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a special Lance Armstrong signature on the tag. His shirt was bright orange—tucked in with the sleeves rolled up, a la 1991. His head is shaved, he wears two diamond stud earrings, and he wouldn’t dream of cycling with just regular old tennis shoes. He’s a professional spinner with those special shoes to prove it.

I don’t know, maybe it’s a slight case of envy that keeps me rolling my eyes at his every whistle and upbeat clap. Personally, I have only learned to manage to get through the class by keeping silent and conserving every last breath, but he has so much extra energy he’s the only one who responds every time the instructor asks anything.

You guys warmed up and ready to go?
YEAH! Woop woop!

How you feeling out there?
Awesome! clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Are we working hard?
Oh yeah! Go. Go. Go. Go.

It never stops. And then today I noticed something else that was just the icing on the cake. On the rare occasions we do get about 30 seconds to catch our breath and recover, he sits there and does mini choreographed dance routines in his seat. I get it. You love Rihanna, Britney is your idol, and you die for Lady Gaga…but this is recovery. Sit there and huff and puff like the rest of us. This is spin class, not rehearsals for a music video. But like I said…I’m probably just envious.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Eternal Optimist (I wish)

I like to consider myself an eternal optimist. But the only truth in that statement is the “like to”. In practice, I am usually anything but. I prefer to take a situation, think of the very worse outcome, and then react (in my head) as if that is what will happen. In my twisted way of thinking this prepares me for the worst, while letting me breathe of sigh of relief when things end up not turning out so bad. For example: If I’m at the airport getting ready to fly overseas for a meet and my plane is 30 minutes delayed, within a span of maybe 10 seconds I have already assumed that the plane will be more than 30 minutes late, I will miss my connection, have to stay overnight in another city, arrive the day before my competition with dead legs, and have to really dig deep to find the energy to compete well. And what happens when the plane is really only 30 minutes late and everything goes smoothly? ”Whew!” Bullet dodged.

This warped way of thinking shows up in other areas of my life as well. Most people who know me (read: exes) can probably attest to my argumentative skills. It makes sense that I would have multiple, thought out, thoroughly exhaustive points to prove…I have already had these conversations in my head, many times over. This is one of my favorite pastimes before bed -- conversations with other people where I not only play out my side of the discussion, but theirs as well. I can literally become teary-eyed because of a make-believe conversation.

But the whole point in sharing these slightly neurotic parts of my personality with you is to have you help me calm down just a little. I am dealing with something right now that could possibly be a huge misfortune, but it could also turn out to be not such a big deal after all. I will find out soon enough, but in the meantime I’m trying to keep my desire to panic and prepare for catastrophe to a minimum. It’s the planner in me that wants to jump ahead and make sure I have strategies in place in case I do have to deal with some unfortunate news but I feel like what I’m doing to myself in the meantime is adding premature wrinkles and grey hairs that I will regret 10 years from now when I’m forced to get botox and dye my hair every 6 weeks.

So much of what we worry about is unimportant. We see things with such a narrow focus when the big picture is being taken care of in the way that is always best for us. Please remind me of that. Or…just let me know that you are as neurotic as I am and maybe I won’t feel so bad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fan Club President

As most of my blog readers know, I train down in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center. What some of you may not know is that I also trained down here in 2006, left for a couple years, and then moved back last year. A lot of athletes who train down here are resident athletes, meaning they live and train onsite. In 2006 I was one of those resident athletes, until they kicked me offsite and I could only use the facilities for training. The reason I was no longer able to be a resident athlete, was because I didn’t fit the criteria in place that determined which athletes possessed the potential to make teams and win medals.

During the years in between when I was elsewhere training, I didn’t have any major improvements that would blow the socks off anybody. In fact, I spent 2008 away from competition with a bad knee and a dismal outlook for the future. When I asked to be re-admitted to the resident program last year, it was only by luck (aka the grace of God) that they even took me. I still didn’t fit any of the “criteria” that was in place for athletes to be there and my age was against me. But luckily the USOC, who was in charge of the program last year, was not as strict as USATF in following the criteria from three years earlier and I was given another chance to prove myself.

Today I happened to be reminded of the improbable circumstances that brought me back to San Diego to train again. The program is being given back to USATF, and more than likely new “criteria” will be put in place. As a finalist at the last World Championships, I hope that I have proven myself and that my spot is no longer in jeopardy. I trust that they will see me as an athlete with the potential to make the medal stand the next time around. After all, this is the ultimate goal of a program such as this. They pour money into our development, and they want to see results. A few years back, I was deemed an athlete that wasn’t worth of the money because I more than likely was not ever going to produce results capable of earning a spot on a team and a medal. At that point it seemed as if my best years were behind me.

It’s ok that they didn’t believe. Perhaps, statistically speaking, they shouldn’t have. But I wanted to share this with all of you to show that there will be times in life when “others” might not think you have what it takes. They might consider your dreams to be too big and your aspirations just a tad too lofty. And that’s ok. Because at the end of the day, it really boils down to what you believe and what you have decided you are capable of. I never came back to the training center to just play in sand for a few more years and put off getting a real job. I knew there was more. And today, I still know there is more. And even if I am the only member of my fan club, I will continue to be my #1 fan and biggest believer. It’s not up to anyone else to take that position and I can’t rely on what others may think I am capable of. Sometimes you have to believe when no one else does.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Loner or Loser?

I have about 2000 “friends” on facebook. But you know how I spent my Friday night? Alone. It was just me and my newest Netflix delivery to keep me company. But before you think I’m going down that road again, let me assure you that this is not a ‘woe is me and my singleness’ post. We will put that one off until next month. It’s just the older I get, the more I realize I’m a loner.

I like people. I really do. The only problem is I only like some people enough to spend time with them. And the bigger problem is, I have no idea how you’re supposed to make friends at this age. After you aren’t in school anymore and don’t live by all your close friends, you can’t just ask someone to go get ice cream with you for the heck of it on Friday night. So if you haven’t guessed by now, I went by myself. And I’m totally fine with that. Every once in a while though, I’m not. And the older I get and have friends move away, get married, and have kiddies, the more alone time I have to deal with.

So if any of you want to be my friend maybe once or twice a month and go get ice cream, or watch cool shows on DVD, holla at me!

**This concludes my “blogging for a week” challenge. Obviously not the most scintillating of topics every day, but I tried my best. Yes, there is still tomorrow, but God rested on the 7th day and so will I. Nobody reads blogs on Sunday anyway.**

Friday, November 13, 2009

Check, Please!

How many of you have friends? How many go out to eat with those friends on occasion? How many of you still cringe when the bill comes and it’s time to split the bill 12 ways? I have no idea why it becomes so hard to do simple math when friends and food are involved. But it sometimes is. And depending on who your friends are, that sometimes ends up being most of the time.

I remember in college I had friends I had to virtually stop going out to eat with because of their inability to remember to include tax and tip more than a quarter. And then they still had the nerve to complain…loudly. It would be about anything and everything…they’re ice water wasn’t re-filled quickly enough, the seemed a little more medium than medium well, the appetizers took too long to reach the table…but honestly I think it would all be about building excuses not to tip. This is a former server’s worst nightmare.

I am a former server. I love a good meal with friends but it still makes me cringe when the bill is set on the table and people start forgetting they ordered a coke. I get really nervous and I instantly want to be the ringleader at the table and tell people how much they should pay. But that’s not always welcomed. Luckily at this age I have friends who make the process practically painless. Most of the time. But in the rare case you aren’t so lucky, here are a few guidelines you might be interested in.

*Whenever possible, split the bill evenly within your party. If someone had a side salad and water and someone else ordered lobster and a nice chardonnay, this may not be the best option. But if all your meals were in the same ballpark, I think this is the best option. So you might pay an extra couple dollars this time. The next time you’ll pay a couple less. It’s one of those things that end up all working out over time.

*Try to have everyone pay with cards or everyone pay with cash. Less headache.

*Make yourself the ringleader and be in charge of collecting from everyone. YOU tell THEM what they owe. (Good for math geeks)

*Go out with someone who thinks they’re a big time baller and likes to pick up the tab for everyone. Score!

*Stay home.

If you’ve never experienced these issues with your friends when you go out to eat, chances are you’re the cheapskate! If anyone has any tips to add, please feel free.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yesterday I was at Rite Aid getting an assortment of random things I realized I needed once I actually arrived. It was supposed to be just trash bags, but then I saw Maybelline was having a buy one get one free sale and, well, you know the end of that story! When I finally made my way to the checkout counter the guy took an extra long look at me before asking what he assumed was a rhetorical question. “You know who you look like, right?” Of course this is said as if the answer is obvious. But as any person of color will tell you, the answer could be any number of celebrities that have a little color to them. For some reason, non-black folks just don’t have the best judgment when it comes to who black folks might look like.

So today I decided to not even take a guess and just have him tell me who I look like. I would hate to be wrong and make the guy feel like I had no clue as to who my universal twin was... because he was so positive. Obviously I look like Jada Pinkett Smith. Obviously. I just shook my head and smiled as if I hear that every day. It’s really only as often as I hear any other brown-skinned starlet, save a few who happen to be a little more frequent. So I figured I would ask your esteemed opinion. Do I look like I could be Will’s wife?

In the past few years, I’ve also been hearing Alicia Keyes an awful lot. I don’t quite see it…not really. But I figured I would get your opinion on that as well. I chose a black/white pic of myself because let’s be honest, I have a far better tan that she does.

And the one I really do get more than any other is Holly Robinson-Peete. If I had to say I resembled anyone at all, I would probably pick her. And if I do end up resembling her even more in the next 10 or 15 years, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve actually heard this all the way back from 21 jumpstreet days, which gives it a little more credence. But I don’t know, maybe it’s because I copied her hairstyle when I was younger.

So what do you think? Any of these people? Someone else? Let me hear your thoughts, no matter what your ethnicity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honoring our Veterans: Two Heros I Know

Veterans Day is probably one of the most important days we have to celebrate and I almost didn’t even realize it was today. Of course a holiday to me in the middle of the week means nothing to my work schedule and I don’t get the opportunity to take a day off in remembrance, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t pay tribute. I have mentioned this before on here, but the US Olympic Training Center is also a home training base for many of the Paralympic athletes and a few of them that I have gotten to know personally are some of the most admirable Veterans I can think of. So today I just want to take a moment to say a special thank you to them personally in this public forum, as well as put a mini spotlight on the incredible people they are and the amazing way they have served our country.

Kortney Clemens

While serving in the U.S. Army as a combat medic in Iraq, Kortney Clemons and three other service members were helping soldiers in an overturned vehicle when enemy forces detonated an explosive device. The explosion killed the other three service members, but Clemons' life was spared. As a result of the blast, he lost his right leg above-the-knee.

Jerrod Fields

In 2005, Sgt. Jerrod Fields lost his lower left leg after an IED exploded during a patrol in Iraq while deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division. Fields recovered from his wounds and passed all of his physical requirements with his prosthetic leg to continue on active duty with the 3rd ID at Fort Stewart in an ambitious six months instead of the doctor-predicted nine. Re-enlisted by Vice President Dick Cheney, Fields is now a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Gunner with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Squadron.
For his service, Fields was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Seeing these athletes compete and train on a day-to-day basis just like I do is already inspiring enough. But once you have the chance to hear their story and understand exactly what they’ve been through, you realize that you’re training next to real-life heros. These men are the most brave and courageous people I personally know and I should probably tell them thank you every single day, but today I just wanted to make sure I said it extra loud. THANK YOU.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting in Shape

Officially I have one week of practice under my belt. But this year I actually cheated a little bit. I started working out to get ready to start working out. Sheer stupidity or utter brilliance? The jury is still out. On the one hand I cut back on my time of being a professional couch potato, but on the other hand I’ve become a professional spinner. Didn’t I tell you?? I now spin with the best of them. For those of you considering spin class but have thus far been too scared to take the plunge, believe me when I tell you that going consistently for about a month will make the experience a lot more bearable and it actually is a great workout. I actually consider myself one of the best in my small class (I find that most people do not increase half a turn when the teacher says so—they’re only cheating themselves!)…well besides the over-excited guy across the room who must consider himself a spinning guru and feels the need to whoop and holler the whole darn class. Who has the energy for all of that? I must admit though…I do appreciate his encouraging clap while we do the sprint portion. It always adds a little boost.

I’ve also picked up a new workout phenomenon called CrossFit. I don’t know, perhaps it’s just new to me and my world of running around in circles and jumping in sand, but this stuff is legit. In fact, if you live in San Diego you should come join me at CrossFitInvictus. I promise you will sweat buckets and get strong like nobody’s business. What I love about it is that it’s a bunch of random Joe’s and Jane’s but they work out like some G’s. How many soccer moms’ do you know that can do pull-ups?!

So basically, I’ve chosen to broaden my horizons. Of course I can’t incorporate these workouts all year due to the specificity of my sport, but it feels nice to switch it up a bit. It gives me an appreciation for other types of workouts and the people who do them for the sheer joy of being in shape. Pretty soon I will be one of those people. And once I become a soccer mom, I want to be able to hang with the best of them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Challenge!

I’ve been a bad blogger. Horrible actually. And it probably wouldn’t really matter except that I know people expect me to be writing things. Each day I check to see how many folks have stopped by to be let down and it makes me feel a little worse each day. Of course this isn’t my job and I don’t get paid to write about my sometimes boring and not so fabulous life, but I do feel a responsibility to fulfill expectations, however small they may be. The problem at times is that my life can be reaaaalllly boring. Like, majorly so. During those times, it takes effort to write something I could feel ok with people wasting 2 minutes of their life on.

I happen to be experiencing many of those days now. Just ho hum life void of any creative juices to inspire me. In an effort to get myself out of this funk, I’m challenging myself to be better…or at the very least write a bunch of crap. For the next week I will vow to blog each and every day. I don’t know what exactly I will blog, but if nothing else I’ll share what I ate for lunch and how I get really mad when I accidentally step in the poop my neighbor failed to pick up. Yea…that happened earlier today. What I have found lately, is that people seem to respond far more to dating/relationship blogs then they do to anything related to athletics. There is only one problem with that…the lack of useful data to write such a blog. So for now I am open to any ideas and suggestions as to what to write about, and in the meantime check back daily if you have a couple minutes to waste!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 1

They say that all good things must come to an end. That sentiment must also apply to laziness…otherwise known as my off-season. Today marks the first official day of practice for many of my professional counterparts and I. It’s time to lace back up the shoes, pull out the spandex, and start eating as if we are going to be seen in said spandex. Last I heard it’s not a good idea to sport a muffin top in a sports bra and boy shorts.

To say that I kind of let myself go during this time would be an understatement. Eating and behaving the way I do for 4 to 6 weeks out of the year is not something I would ever recommend for someone leading a healthy lifestyle. You hear of cheat days, but who really justifies a cheat month??? We do. I speak for others in my same boat only because I know I’m not alone during this time. For some of us, we show our six-packs in the summer and by November it’s just one big keg.

Peaking your body is quite different than just being fit and staying in shape. Track and field athletes probably exhibit this more than any other sport. Each part of the year requires a different type of fitness and because of that, its ok to basically start from scratch. After you climb the mountain, so to speak, and peak for your Championship, the aftermath is a slow descent down the other side of that mountain until you find yourself at the end of the season completely and utterly depleted. Sometimes you even hit that point before the season is actually over, but whatever the case may be, you still allow yourself the opportunity to hang out at the bottom for a little while before it’s time to turn around and take that first step in tackling that mountain again. I’m not quite sure if it’s as much of a physical necessity as it is a mental one, but I definitely need the downtime to reenergize myself to the task in front of me.

Day 1 of my year starts today. I don’t need a calendar to tell me that my 2010 season has officially begun. For the most part, I feel like I’m ready. And even if I’m not all the way there, I need to get going before none of my jeans fit me anymore and I’m forced to wear sweats at all times. It’s that darn muffin top trying to rear it’s ugly head.