Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Run Joey Run!

It's Training Week 2, run #6 completed today - 4 miles! You will recall from an earlier blog post that I decided to train for a 1/2 marathon that takes place on June 27th. There are 4 of us "in training" although my friend Lynn came into training on the injured list and may very well be benched. Aghhhhhhh - so bummed because she is my current running partner of two years and I really want her to train and be at my side during this race.

Anyway, Robin and Laurel are also training with me. Before last Monday? Neither had ever run 3 miles straight. I think Robin may have done it on a treadmill - not quite sure - but regardless, running outside is a whole different animal! Day 1 of the 10 week training schedule (last Monday) was an awesome day. They both completed the 3 miles and 5 days later they went on to complete 4 miles non-stop! Imagine the joy!!!!!! Better yet? This Saturday is 5 miles!

What's great about this for me is that not only am I running regularly after a 2 year hiatus from running at least 3-4 times a week, but I get to see the joy of my two partners completing goals they never thought they would even envision - never mind actually reach! It is a complete hoot to finish each run with them.

As a 35 year veteran of pounding the pavement, I've run distances as far as 26.2 miles (called a marathon?) which training entails 5 mile runs, 8 mile runs, 15 mile runs, TWENTY mile runs. You would think this is no big deal for me but actually, I am PSYCHED to be back at it, covering the miles on an early spring morning in the hills of the Emerald City. It's empowering, motivating and joyful. And the frosting on the cake? (which I may get to eat guilt-free soon because of all this "cardio"!) The added thrill of my friends completing the daily mileage...priceless!

As an aside - I was turned on to a running store in West Hartford called Fleet Feet. Lynn and I went up there last week and had the greatest experience. Not only were the guys who serviced us (oops - that doesn't sound very good does it??!! Ha!!) extremely adorable gorgeous helpful (and 26 - just babies!!!) but they educated us thoroughly. About running, running shoes and orthotics, etc. They also measured our feet 20 ways to tuesday and filmed our running gait on a treadmill so we could see our biomechanical issues - which we actually didn't have (and that is great information to know)! AND we both walked away with new running shoes and orthotics - good salesmen! Or perhaps they just hypnotized us with their dazzling, youthful good looks? Whatever! The Eye Candy was part of the joy!!! Heehee...

But the greatest thing was this. The store policy is that you can return your running shoes for up to 30 days if you have a problem with them. Now - this writer - me - is the dream consumer. I never return anything. I am a freaking disaster when it comes to shopping. If I get something mail order and I don't like it - rarely does it make it back to the store. If I buy something that doesn't fit? Yup - hang it in the closet. I suck. In other words? LOSER.

Well - unfortunately, I did had a problem with my new running shoes. And guess what big girl Joey did? I returned them!!!!! Today! I exchanged them for another kind and you know what? If I don't like these? Going back and exchanging them again!!! And they were so gracious. It's amazing because my experience for years has been that service in this country SUCKS!!!!! These people spent another 40 minutes with me and never batted an eye.

So - each Saturday of the 10 weeks of training, you run your "long" run of the week and it increases by a mile every Saturday. Last week was 4 miles, this Sat. is 5. The problem is that with 3 kids all going in different directions on Saturdays, guess what time I have to run? Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - 6AM. But I shall whineeeee be brave because you know Laurel? She had to run Monday, in the dark, in the rain at 4:10AM. That would be in the morning, people! While you and I are still sleeping!!! I have nothing to complain about! Ahhh the joy of training!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eye Candy

You may not know this but I collect internet "art". I'll never get rich from my collection but it always soothes my soul. Catch some joy to pave the way to your weekend!

While I love sunflowers, it's the background of periwinkle that sold me on this.

Fields of Gold

Is this amazing or WHAT??? And he's poisonous!

Once in a blue moon?

I hope to see one of these in the flesh some day!

Love snow in the big city.

This reminds me of my friend Sarah B.!

Eerie? Or beautiful? I say eerily beautiful.

Please, please, please let me see this one day!

I'm going to kiss my love here someday.

Speaking of my love! Speaking of beauty! Tristen - For Karen and Lynn!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Boys of Summer

It's OFFICIAL!!!!! Baseball season has begun! What, you say??? Baseball began almost 3 weeks ago! Well yea aaaa, Major League (and trust me, my beloved Yankees are kicking ASS!) but I'm talking about Minor League - as in 10 year olds - as in, my 10 year old! As in, my 10 year old who will only wear a #7 baseball uniform shirt - hellooo - Mickey Mantle's number?

I know I have talked about this before but just to review (kind of like school!), my oldest son Michael eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. He talks incessantly about it. He is out in the yard -- batting, pitching and announcing baseball 24/7 -- when he isn't -- practicing, playing or watching the Yankees. And in between? Blah, blah, baseball, blah, pitching, blah, blah, did you see that play, blah, blah, blah, he's a good hitter, blah, blah - baseball, baseball, baseball. Talk about passion! Talk about JOY! That kid knows joy!

Anyway - last night was the first scrimmage of the season. My husband is the coach of Michael's team. Unfortunately, unlike last year, we aren't the Yankees. We are the Dodgers. (At least it's not the Red Sox! Ohhhhh that would have been painful for both father and son!) It was my first opportunity to A) eval how the team looks, B) see how much Michael has improved, and C) reunite with my Yummy Mummys on the hill who loyally watch their sons every game!

A) The team was "ok" - plenty of room for improvement but - we got some talent, baby! B) Michael looked good! 2 hits, 1 run, several great plays from short and he also pitched a nice inning and didn't give up any runs! and C) Sooooo happy to be with the Yummys! They say I'm getting the cheerleading award this year! Apparently, I am very enthusiastic. Come on. This is important stuff! Aren't we supposed to be excited? I cheer when the other team makes a good play too...

So we lost 10-9 but it was fun and it was good for the kids that moved up from instructional, to get out there and be a ballplayer. Plus we got a sneak peek at the competition's pitchers!

All in all, I was happy - until I was half way home and I got the call. "Do you have the keys to the van"? CRAP! I had the keys to the van! Had to drive all the way back to the field to my not so happy husband who was waiting all pissed off patiently to get the hell home. Ooppps...

But you just couldn't steal my joy - no way, no how. My Boys of Summer are back!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Super cala fragalistic expialidocious

WARNING: This is a blog about my kids. (The Three Little Pigs?) If kids bore you? Exit Stage Left.

Well, school vacation is OVER. I made it through! But the only reason I'm sure I made it through in one piece is because my Super cala fragalistic expialidocious sister-in-law, Aunty Annette, picked up Dennis the Menace on Wednesday and didn't return him until today. Wow - can you say ENERGY SHIFT???? It is amazing how different the house is when there are only two kids. JOY!

Now - my Anthony (aka Dennis?) is quite the manipulator. In fact, I am quite sure he will make a great criminal defender. Hell - he'll win the case just because it will be the only way they will be able to SHUT HIM UP!!!! So scary. Aunty Annette has a home just outside the Big City and she lives with 3 other fab women - Sue, Stacy and Kelly plus a few dogs and I think a rabbit! She often takes Anthony for a few days to give the Emerald City some respite from the boy. We could not be more grateful. Thank you Aunty Annette, Sue, Stacy and Kelly!!! JOY!

Dennis came home this morning carrying alotta loot - contributed by all the girls in the house. Hmmmmm - do you think he manipulated his way through the week? He even came home with a RASPBERRY PLANT because he loves raspberries. Helloooooo - Anthony? We have a whole raspberry bed in our yard???? He is now, not only the Mayor of the Emerald City, but also of the Big City. Lord help the earth as he conquers it town by town...

Anthony had two choices this school vacation. He could have stayed home and gone with us to Boston on this Friday past or he could go to Aunty Annette's for 5 days. This is how the conversation went:

"Anthony, do you want to go to Boston with us on Friday or would you rather go to Aunty Annette's for 5 days?"

"What are we doing in Boston?"

"Ummmmm, going to a museum, A LOT of walking, going to see the Paul Revere house, A LOT of walking, ummmmmmm - maybe another museum - did I say we were walking there?"

"Ohhh - definitely Aunty Annette's!" JOY!

Btw - the walking gig? The last visit we made to NYC, we of course, did alot of walking, and everytime Anthony saw a taxi, he stepped off the curb and tried to flag it down - DEAD SERIOUS! We could NOT stop him. Yea - no walking for my Dennis...

Ok - so now about Brooke. Brooke, my baby girl, is 8 years old. This kid is so her father's daughter. Her wit is lighting fast and she is just a really funny kid. I am amazed that an 8 year old could be so quick. The other day she was sitting at the breakfast table and Anthony was calling her repeatedly from the living room. "Brooke." "Brooookkkkkeeee." BROOKE!" Brooke puts her fist up to her mouth like a microphone and says: "Brooke Morman is not at home right now, please leave a message at the tone." She wasn't even trying to be witty. I think that's what made it so funny! JOY.

Anthony brought Brooke a necklace home from Aunty Annette's house. (I have to say - all my kids are always thinking of their siblings when they are out and getting goodies from a store. They always get something for each other - even from the bank when they get a lollipop. I just love that! JOY!) Anyway - so she comes running into my bedroom and says, "MOM! Does this necklace make me look fat?? Ahahahahhahah"

I am telling you - I cracked up. Moment of -- JOY.

Last Brooke story. The other night, the four of us were heading to the movies to see Clash of the Titan: Release the Kraken (whatever the F a Kraken is...)(The Girls went to a tear jerking chick flick) and the kids were annoyingly repeating Release the Kraken! Release the Kraken! Release the Kraken! Enough ALREADY! Well, 5 minutes into the ride, one unnamed family member started having some "gastric" distress and we had to turn around and go home for a quick bathroom break (I knowwww - too much information!). What does Brooke say? "Release the Kraken CRAP!!! Ahahahahahah"

Oy vey - I may be in trouble with this one too...teeny joy?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jumping For Joy

I am jumping for joy today. The gym is closed for a week! Don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVE my job. I am a strength and conditioning coach aka personal trainer and I own a women's gym. (Sometimes a man or two signs up and we're all ok kicking a guy's butt in the gym!) I see anywhere from 50-70 women 2x a week, depending on the time of year. I train up to 8 women in a "class" and each class meets twice a week. Usually run 20 classes a week.

I'm not your run of the mill "exercise instructor" that you get in a commercial gym. You know the ones. They stand at the front of the class (looking really good)
and lead you through a variety of moves or dance steps or whatever. Typically they never look to see if you are doing the move correctly. Rather, they count on you to watch them perform and at the same time get a good workout. Not exactly easy! I feel I am qualified to be a bit sarcastic about this type of "training" because I did it for years and my body is worse off for it. Chronic lower back problems is my biggest complaint. All those uncued crunches! Aghhhhhh...

Anyway - the beauty of what I do is that each person gets individual attention throughout the entire workout. That's why it's called "Personal Training", people! I train from the sidelines, correcting form, calling out cues, making sure every single person is performing the move the way it was designed to be performed, using the muscles that are supposed to be used. Making sure no one gets injured.

As I said, I love my job. I am motivated to change women's lives and I love every class that I work with. Each class has it's own dynamic and I thrive on the variety. The energy of 8 women is amazing. I could be having the worst day and walk into a room full of women gabbing it up, laughing and bonding and my whole mood changes. It's the best job!

So, why am I so happy the gym is closed this week, you ask? Oh come on! Everyone loves time off! But mainly I'm really happy because on Tuesday and Thursday this week, I don't have to get up at 4:30AM to train my beloved 5:15AM class!!! Don't get me wrong! I love and totally respect my 5:15AM girls. LOVE THEM!!!!!!! Who wouldn't love and be so in awe of a bunch of women who get up as early as 4:30am, get into a cold car in 20 degree weather and drive to my gym in the dark to workout BEFORE they go to work. But sleeping in? PRICELESS! Plus - I am willing to bet they are just as happy to sleep in this week!

I learned early on that I need a week to rejuvenate before each new session begins. And it CAN'T be the week of school vacation! I learned that early on too. I always take the week AFTER school vacation off. That way I recover from the kids being home for a week and also re-charge for the next 6 weeks. I am so lucky. Seriously, could anyone be more grateful than me? I have the best job, working with the best people and I take 11 weeks off every year! Who's better than me? Do you get my joy!?

PS - That is NOT me in the above picture. I look way better. Haaaa! Kiddingggggg...she totally has a better tan than me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Holy Ice Skates, Batman!

My daughter Brooke has been in a Learn to Skate program for 2 years and I finally hired her a skating coach. Now, if you know Brooke, you know she does not like sports. She refuses to join a team - soccer, softball, lacrosse - hell, she gets mad when she has to exert herself at school in gym! "I don't like to breathe heavy..." Oh paleeze - your mother is a strength and conditioning coach/personal trainer AND a 35 year runner. Your father is a natural born athlete who has played every sport known to man! You can NOT be serious.

So when she expressed an interest in skating, I was ecstatic! Not only was I an avid figure skating fan for my whole life (until I had kids, anyway) but I figure skated as an adult in my thirties and loved it. Had a coach - skated several times a week (Trust me - it wasn't pretty, so don't get mis-illusioned! Is that a word?) and only gave it up because my job became a time sucker.

Yesterday I took Brooke to the rink to practice and for the first time in 2 years, I finally saw my daughter as a figure skater - with potential! She has started to hold her body upright like a skater, her strokes have improved dramatically in just a few weeks with her new coach and her confidence on the ice - that I have waited so long to see - has finally emerged.

Today, I returned to the ice. Brooke seemed so lonely out there yesterday without her buddy Gillian that today I said, "Why not?". So I stuffed my post pregnancy feet into my $500 ice skates of long ago and stepped out onto the ice for the first time in over 16 years. Can I just tell you something? It is NOT like riding a bicycle after several years of not riding. Oh noooooooooo - it was scary! And Brooke laughed at me for the first 30 minutes. But then I settled in. And she stopped laughing...

Wicked joy!!!!


As soon as I got off the ice, I called the skate shop.
I was there before they closed, having my skates stretched to fit these post pregnancy feet! My back is sore, my feet hurt and I have a blister. Yup, I think I will indulge in some regular icy joy this year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Color My World

There is something about color that stirs me. Which actually seems a bit counter intuitive because I usually wear a lot of black. Sometimes blue, but rarely any other colors. Also - I am the least creative person I know but show me color, and I am transformed.

At any rate, I am stirred by beautiful color and accordingly, the rooms in my house are painted or wallpapered in rich hues rather than your basic white, cream, beige, etc. I am especially intrigued by the colors that occur in nature. The deep, beautiful color of flowers never ceases to amaze me. The ocean, the sky, birds...just look at the beautiful bird at the top of my blog. It's amazing, breathtaking and borders on unbelievable to me.

The other day, I was sent an email filled with photos of the Northern Lights taken in Yukon, Canada. They took my breath away.

Seeing these awesome photos reminded me of a story of when I was a kid. I wore glasses starting in 7th grade. My vision was horrendous. Not only did I not understand how bad- 20/400 in one eye, 20/450 in the other - I didn't even know I had a vision problem! Until I actually put on my first pair of glasses...

I honestly don't know how I made it through the first 6 grades of elementary school. I remember, in 4th grade, viewing a filmstrip once (remember them???) with sub-titling and having to take a test about it afterwards and completely winging it because all I saw was a blur of color. Thankfully, I knew the story and was able to pass the test. The day I got glasses, I walked into our living room and was completely blown away. The wallpaper had a pattern! Yikes! In retrospect, I was one blind child!

Anyway - one Sunday evening in May of 1969, we had "company" at our house and someone came running into the kitchen yelling, "It's the Northern Lights!" Huh????? Everyone ran outside and apparently the sky was lit with gorgeous colors and I remember everyone staying outside for a really long time oohhing (ewwing?) and ahhhing over the beautiful sky. I was right there with them, oohhing and ahhing - only one problem - I had no idea what they were going on about. I COULDN'T SEE! Is that sad, or what?? What's even sadder is that I missed it! Possibly the only chance in my life to view the Aurora Borealis!

Last year, I attended The Sugarloaf Craft Festival and purchased this framed photo of guess what? The Northern Lights over Denali National Park in Alaska. It is titled "Hand of God". I am in love with this piece of art. (I love it even more because if you double click on it? In the upper right-center sky, you can see my most favorite constellation, Pleiades - the seven sisters!) The colors touch something inside me every single time I look at it. Translation? Joy. So when I received the photos from the skies of Yukon, Canada, I just had to share. Hope you catch it! Love, Joey

Friday, April 9, 2010

We're Off To See the Wizard...

Growing up here in the Emerald City was pretty darn BORING. With the exception of my college years and a few years after college, I've lived here since 1963. It is actually still surprising to me that I am bringing up my family here. When I graduated high school, I vowed to get "outta Dodge" as soon as possible. Perhaps I am back here because my parents gave my husband and I property to build a house on? Well, actually, that's exactly why I'm here! But I am willing to bet I would have ended up back here anyway. There's something about being "home" here in the Emerald City.

Anyway, this blog post is not supposed to be about living here. So, let's start again - growing up here in the Emerald City was pretty darn boring. For one thing, this town did not have alot to offer during the sixties & seventies, in the form of activities for children. Not that my parents would have supported any form of activity for children except - entertaining OURSELVES! Which we all did. And let's face it - living in the sticks? You needed a ride everywhere! My parents were NOT driving us ANYWHERE!

I have 4 brothers and no sisters. Not even a female playmate in the family! We lived on a farm of sorts but I was not exactly into farming. Horses, yes. Farming, NO! I was into escaping. And that is exactly what I did. The public library became my aider and abettor. I took no less than 12 books a week out of the library. This was the ONE activity my parents did support. (My mother was a librarian - hello????.)

On any given day - especially a summer day (after day, after day, after day...), you would find me draped across that ugly Queen Ann's chair in our living room, devouring book, after book. Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Little House on the Prairie books (every single ONE!), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web and then more sophisticated books as I got older.

(I just have to tell you this side story! When I was 13 or 14, my family drove 8 hours to a spot in Maine for a vacation. My 2 younger brothers fought the entire 8 hours. It was unbearable. Well, we stopped at a rest stop about halfway up and when my father returned to the car, he threw a paperback book at me in the back seat. It had it's cover ripped off. He told me he found it on top of a pile of garbage in a garbage can. HA!!!!!! That was - still to this day - the filthiest, porn "novel" I have ever read!!! What a 4 hours!!!!)

Anyway - thank GOD for books. They totally saved me from the monotony of living in a one horse town with uncooperative taxi drivers for parents.

And guess what? Books continue to be my passion and my escape. Still a rabid reader, not a day goes by in my life that I don't read. The pile by my bed never gets smaller. The list of books I need to read, forever getting longer. My dream is to pack a truck with books, drive onto the Block Island ferry one June morning and not come back to the Emerald City until Labor Day. Every day spent reading on the beach from sun up to sundown.

The other day, I had an epiphany. My 8 year old daughter? SHE'S A READER!!!!
Yes, seriously. She's reading! For pleasure! Like --- curled up in a chair --- READING!! Now let me ask you - do you think I catch joy when I stumble upon that sight???

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Early Spontaneous Joy!

Caught some joy today! It was my early morning - up at 4:30, in the gym training by 5:15. I've already put in at least 3 hours before most of you have even gotten to work. Trust me - that's not the joy part. But - I have to say, when I walk into the gym at that ungodly hour and I see ALL my clients? When I know they have not only risen that early, but got into their cars and drove to my gym because they trust me to work the crap out of them and send them out into their day feeling like a million bucks (and looking pretty darn good too!!)? How can I not be so proud of them??? And that does bring me joy. I am sooooooo grateful, as well.

So I start training at 5:15AM and finish up at 10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's very dark until about 6:15 or 6:30AM this time of year and I'm so wrapped up in building goddess bodies that I rarely look out the windows. Today was no different until I heard the tinkling laughter of children and I looked out - it was about 7:50 - and I see a beautiful bright and sunny day with sparkling blue skies.

It was immediate, spontaneous joy that came to me when I spotted my kids and their friend Tiffany having a BLAST blowing bubbles. There were hundreds of bubbles floating through the air (even right up to the second story where I was standing) and the kids were just completely absorbed in the moment. It's not even 8AM and the kids were being kids - not a care in the world. I called the whole class over to the windows so they too could witness the joy the kids were experiencing. I swear, for one second, we were all reminded of the infinite grace and perfection that always embraces us. Could it get any simpler than that?

PS - Isn't that a cool picture??? That is my oldest son, Michael when he was about 7 months old. SO in love with my Michael.