Candid Karina

{July 21, 2011}   Warrior Girl

Ever since I discovered Wonder Woman as a little girl, I’vewanted to be a superhero.  Then, in highschool and college, I became a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, and I totallywanted to be that girl.  The one who cankick serious butt while wearing stiletto boots and a skirt.

But there was one little problem to this desire.
I was lazy.
As a little girl, I did gymnastics, and even ran track for afew years.  But once puberty hit, Ibecame way more interested in boys and fashion then I ever would be in sportsand sweating.
In high school I was one of the girls who opted to “walkaround the track” during gym class to avoid breaking a sweat (or God forbid anail) during volleyball.  I only owned apair of sneakers because it was required for said gym class.  I was not a jock.
I really wanted to be strong, fast, a superhero, but I hadno desire to actually, physically, do anything strenuous.
Then, in the last few years, I started working out more, andthen running, and then, suddenly, in this last year, everything changed.
And on June 28th of this year, I did somethingthat my inner “stiletto wearing, make-up loving, boy crazy” girlie girl wouldhave told you was ABSOLUTELY NOT EVER going to happen.
I ran the Warrior Dash.
What is the Warrior Dash you ask?  It is a 3 mile “run” through the woods, overobstacles such as 20 foot walls and rope ladders, ending in a mud pit of epicproportions.  Go here for a better idea(including a video of the insanity).
Yeah…I did that!  AndI loved every muddy moment of it.  It wastaxing, and challenging and exhausting.
It poured that morning, so I was wet, and sweaty, and muddyand gross.
I had bruises and cuts all over.
I have never been so dirty in my entire life.
I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.
Pushing beyond the limits I set for myself years ago feltamazing.  I felt like a butterfly finallypushing out of that cocoon.  There wasthis feeling of re-birth.  The new meemerging, muddy, and sore, and laughing.
I am an athlete, and I have the medal and the bruises toprove it.
I am Warrior Girl.

{April 12, 2011}   Running For Life
Last week I had a realization.  When speaking to someone about team sports, I told them I’d never done any type of sport in school.  Ballet as a toddler, gymnastics until I was ten, and then, nothing.
But then, suddenly, I realized that wasn’t exactly true.  In the sixth grade, I ran track.  That was it, one single solitary year.  That year post childhood and pre-teendom.  The first year I attended a regular American school (i.e. not a bilingual, English as a second language school).  About a year and a half after moving to the United States from Portugal.  For some strange reason, that year I joined the track team.  I don’t remember very much about it, but I remember that I was good at it, and I enjoyed it.  I won a few blue ribbons in the process.  And I had a crush on my coach/gym teacher…all the girls did.
But then I went to junior high, and puberty hit, and girls were mean, and I wanted nothing to do with sports and wanted to be a girlie girl.
And so ended my career in school sports, along with any interest whatsoever in any kind of physical activity.
I owned one pair of sneakers throughout high school because it was required for gym class, most of which I spent “walking around the track” to avoid playing any of the sports.
I owned no sneakers while in college.
My boyfriend when I was 23 bought me a pair of blue Nike’s for my birthday, because I thought they were cute.
Those sneakers lasted me over 10 years, they were used so little.
Sometime in my late 20’s I joined a gym…mostly, I’d hop on an elliptical or attend an aerobics class…sometimes I’d do crunches.
Sometime in my early 30’s I realized I was fat, and needed to do something about it.  Suddenly, physical activity was a must, and I needed to own a pair of sneakers younger than a fourth grader.
But it wasn’t until I was 35 that I re-discovered a love of running I had completely forgotten I’d even ever had until just last week.
Suddenly, I was learning about running gaits, and buying the proper running shoes, and pacing myself, and proper running form.  Suddenly, I was registering for 5ks and challenging myself to go faster, further…push just a little bit harder.
The girl who used to say “I’ll run if someone’s chasing me”, was now chasing that invisible motivator…accomplishment.
Now there is this…
I watch my feet pound the pavement, look up and see the blue sky, inhale, exhale, feel the sweat rivulets down my back…and I smile.  THIS? This is being alive.
The pain, the struggle, the feeling that I may not make it another step, and then pushing through and breaking a barrier to the next hurdle…adding a tenth of a mile…knocking a minute off my time…making it to the top of that hill…there is nothing like it.
I am 36 years old, I am in the best shape of my life, I can do things I never even dreamt I’d want to do, and I am pushing harder and further every day.
I am proud, I am amazed, I am grateful.

I am a runner.

{March 8, 2011}   On Solitude

One of my favorite poems of all time, by one of the most unorthodox poets of all time, e. e. cummings:
Outside the parentheses: loneliness. Inside the parentheses: a leaf falls.
So much said in so few words.
I first read this poem when I was in Jr. High School and it has stuck with me through all my years since then.
I carry it, like I carry loneliness.
Inside me, tucked away, not at the forefront of my mind, but always there, ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice.
The image of a leaf falling from an autumn tree brings feelings of crisp air, beautiful colors, crunchy pathways. Almost joyful, comforting thoughts.
And yet, so alone, that leaf, falling to its end.
I am blessed in so many ways. I have a wonderful family, the very best friends, a life filled with people, and joy, and love.
Color and sound.
Yet some days…the leaf falls…and loneliness takes over.
There is little to be done on these days but go with the wind, see where it takes me, land slowly, peacefully.
And know that I am bound to land among other leaves…

{December 31, 2010}   Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye…

And here we are…we find ourselves at a cross roads…that moment between years…the last day of 2010. The end of a year, the end of a decade…a time to take stock, count blessings, reflect on what has happened and what we have learned. A time to say goodbye and wax nostalgic…

A time to look ahead, to make plans, establish goals, set dreams. A fresh start, the beginning of a whole new year, a whole new decade, a whole new opportunity to take life, once again, by the hand and lead it where we want it to go…

In reality, it’s just another night, just another day…
But we humans are a sentimental bunch, aren’t we? So, for us…it is all that and so much more…so full of the chance to try again, do right the wrongs, and to push harder with those things we’re proud of.

So, as we leave 2010 behind (a year, that I must admit has been so very good to me), and enter 2011 (a year, that I hope and pray will only bring me more of what I already have)…let’s count our blessings, and have fun, and be safe.

{November 26, 2010}   Unplugged

When I signed up for NaBloPoMo, I forgot the small detail that I spend the last weekend in November disconnected from technology. Completely unplugged. Away from the interwebs.

From today until Monday morning, I will not be online. At All.

Thanks to the magic of “pre-publishing” blog posts, I plan to complete NaBloPoMo anyway, but as you read this, I’m already enjoying the disconnect from the world.

For some, the idea of spending an entire weekend away from the internet, television, radio, their cell phones, might be far too much to handle.

In the past, this was true for myself as well.

And truthfully, my cell phone will be with me this weekend. Just in case.

But let’s be honest…considering most of my immediate family will be involved working this youth retreat, and my closest friends will also be there with me…what purpose could I possibly have for technology, for the internet, for my cell phone?

The phone will remain in my bag and probably only be used as an alarm clock, to rise me out of bed on our WAY TOO EARLY mornings during the retreat weekend.

While in years past the idea of being “away” scared me some, today, I am excited for the opportunity to step away.

Each year, this weekend forces us (myself and those others involved) to hit PAUSE on our lives and focus on what truly matters. On our inner thoughts, on our God, and on love.

I return to the world on Monday exhausted, but fully recharged. Full of love, full of hope, full of the belief that I can do this, I can make it another day, week, month, year, and make a difference.

Sometimes, before you can plug back in and light the world, you need to take a moment to recharge your batteries…

Unplugged I leave you with this:

Even if only for a few hours, remove yourself from the outside influences of the world, and take some time to reflect. Pray, meditate, exercise, dream, sing, read, but do something you love, something that reminds you of the simple pleasures of the world. Do it alone, or with someone you love. Hug a friend, tell your family how much they matter to you.

Take the time…recharge your batteries.

The internet isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be there when you’re done.

Have a great weekend everyone.

{November 25, 2010}   Turkey, Tryptophan and Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving day in the good ol’ USA. For most of us this means family time (good or bad), football, and way too much food.

Across the nation we eat, complain about how much we ate, watch whatever game is on, and reminisce of Thanksgivings past.

Many people will take the latter part of the day to formulate their plan of attack for the next morning’s Black Friday sales.

For some, perhaps way too many of our nation’s citizens, however, Thanksgiving day is just one more day to struggle in the cold, searching for a simple meal and warm shelter.

I ask that you remember those less fortunate than you on this (and every) day. When you’re about to blow up at a relative, remember those with no family; when you are stressing about the mashed potatoes not being “just right”, think of how blessed you are to be eating such a meal.

This post is not meant to depress or make any one of us feel guilty for what we have. Just the opposite, in fact.

BE AWARE, BE THANKFUL, BE BLESSED and don’t lose sight of the important things this holiday.

It is ThanksgivingGive Thanks for your blessings…and if you can, when it’s all said and done, GIVE BACK.

I’ll be spending my Thanksgiving with my family, eating, laughing, celebrating.

And on Friday morning, instead of hitting the sales, like I used to, I’ll be heading to a retreat center to help lead a group of teenagers through a youth retreat, hoping to guide them a little closer to God, and to offer them an alternative to the greed, ugliness, sadness and despair in the world.

For a professed shopaholic like myself, giving up Black Friday sales, which I used to call “The Shopping Olympics”, used to be a sacrifice. I find that now, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that I spend that time after Thanksgiving day away from the world, away from technology, away from retail, away from the news, and completely enveloped by God’s love, by my faith family and friends, and by the youth…our future.

I can’t think of a better way to give back, and to give Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

{November 11, 2010}   He Said Write About Time Machines

This post is dedicated to my Twitter buddy Chris Blake (@chrisblake) who is not only a great guy, but is also a very talented musician, you should totally check him out: Anyway, he said I should write about time machines. I hope he’s not disappointed that I didn’t take a more sci-fi direction with this post. 😉

I believe in living in the moment. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this before here on my blog, but I’m a firm believer that we should live our life NOW in the present, not focusing on things past, and not daydreaming about the future.

TODAY is the only day that really matters.

For the most part anyway.

So, I believe in appreciating all the little and big moments as they happen, and this has made my life one full of wonder and miracles.

But sometimes, just once in a little while, I stop to reflect on the past, what has brought me here, to this moment. The choices I’ve made, the struggles I’ve been through, the gifts I’ve been given. And sometimes, I take a moment to imagine the future. To wonder where this life is leading me, where my choices are taking me, which of my wishes will be granted.

It’s only natural to do that, I think.

But, as much as reflecting on the past can be a good thing, for I find I learn much, about the world, and about myself by thinking of where I’ve been, I know I wouldn’t want to go back. The truth is, when all is said and done, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because whatever little thing I might choose to change would in turn change everything else, like the butterfly effect, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

And I mean that. Despite the fact that I find myself at a crossroads, in a bit of pain, accepting my vulnerabilities and loneliness…I wouldn’t want it any other way, because this is just a part of the process that will lead me to my future.

And what of the future? Do I want to know what comes next? Not even a little bit. I have always refused to go to fortune tellers or seers or any of that sort of thing. It has nothing to do with moral or religious beliefs. It also has nothing to do with disbelief or thinking they’re all phonies. Truth be told, they might very well know EXACTLY what they speak of, and that is actually why I won’t do it.

Because I don’t want to know.

The beauty of my life is in the surprises it has brought me, and continually brings me. Why would I ever take the joy of discovering my next miracle away from myself?

So, if you ask me would I want to step into a time machine, where would I want to take it? I’d tell you I’m perfectly content here, in the now of the moment.

Although, if I could use said time machine to visit the past without disturbing it’s path…maybe I’d go have a chat with my two dearly departed grandmothers, because I do miss them so…

Where would you go in a time machine?

{November 10, 2010}   Raw

I’ve been doing a whole lot of inner soul searching lately.

I’m going through something of a transformation if you will. Digging deep, opening up doors that have been locked for many many years. Stripping off the layers of self-preservation, removing the masks, stepping out from behind the walls I’ve built up.

Like a snake shedding its skin, this is a necessary step for growth. But in the meantime, I’m left raw, naked, vulnerable, and hurting.

There are emotions I haven’t allowed myself to feel for a very long time. Some, perhaps, never at all.

I catch myself having moments of despair. Panic attacks. I am alone, I am scared, I am unsure and lost.

And then it passes, and I see the beauty of the situation. In allowing myself to open up, I begin to see all the promise of tomorrow. God has a plan for me, and for so very long I’ve fought him on it, keeping myself closed off and refusing to participate in this life he’s given me.

But now, in the midst of the pain, the struggle, the heartache, I see possibility, renewal, life.

I’m quite certain the tears are not done being shed, my heart will ache still, and I will have days when crawling back into the cocoon will feel like such a better alternative.

But I want to be a butterfly…I’ve got to bravely face the world, vulnerability and all…it’s the only way to fly.

{November 5, 2010}   Counting Down

It’s November. Wait, what? Say that again?

It’s November.

As in…the second to last month of 2010.

Wait, hold on…2010?

Didn’t we just have that whole hullaballoo about Y2K?

Wasn’t that like…last year?

Wasn’t I just sitting around with my two cousins discussing how old we were going to be at the turn of the new millennium, thinking “Oh My Gosh, I’m going to be 25? That’s so old!”.

And now, it’s 10 years later, and I’m 35 and 2011 is a mere two months away.

When did all of this happen? And how did all of this happen?

Stop the world, I wanna get off!

No, wait…deep breaths…deep breaths…exhale…

Okay, okay, I can do this.

November. Time for the countdowns to being.

And there are so many countdowns for me.

For starters, I work a youth retreat every Thanksgiving weekend, and there is A LOT of prep work involved with that. The countdown to the retreat has begun.

Then, there is, of course, the countdown to Thanksgiving.

Which, very quickly gives way to the countdown to Christmas (GULP).

Followed closely by the countdown to the end of the year and 2011.

I’m not ready. I’m not counting down to anything. I’m going to savor each and every day.

So there!

{November 3, 2010}   The Bright Side

I’m joining MamaKat this week in her “writing prompts” post, and answering this question:

Write about how you stay positive about something that sometimes brings you down.

I’ll tell you right off the bat that it is my mission in life to be a positive person. I can’t stand debbie downers with all their “woe is me” negativity. I have ZERO patience for that kind of attitude.

Life is, without question, difficult. We are faced daily with bad news and scary trials and tribulations. So, yes, I understand how easy it is to get caught up in the negative and run with it. But, why would you choose to do so? How can that possibly be the way you choose to live your life? How can that be helpful?

I don’t get it, and I won’t do it.

Because the truth is that life is also beautiful. Full of amazing experiences, and incredible people and the most awe inspiring blessings. You just have to choose to notice them, appreciate them, and revel in them.

So, I? I choose to be positive.

But, even someone like me can have days when it just seems like it’s not worth it to bother faking that smile. There are days when yes, I too succumb to the darkness.

Fortunately for me, it never lasts for too long, because wallowing in self-pity is just exhausting, and I don’t have enough energy to be negative all the time.

And before you start thinking that this must all be because I have it easy, my life MUST be so much better than everyone else’s if I can keep this outlook on life, let me set you straight…

I mean, my life is pretty awesome (laughing here), but it is far from easy and stress free, and happy all the time. It is awesome because I have chosen to make it so, to see it that way.

For example, I am single. I am 35 years old, single, living on my own, with no kids and no prospects for a husband. In fact, I have BARELY dated in the last 10 years. BARELY.

So, take that, and realize it could go one of two ways.

I could chose the path that so many women, and quite a few of my close friends, have chosen, and be miserable. I could cry about being lonely, I could pine the hours away waiting for my Prince Charming to come along, I could make it my life’s mission to find my husband and focus ALL MY ENERGY on going through Mr. Wrong after Mr. OH SO WRONG before finally, hopefully, landing Mr. Right. And then be even more miserable when it turns out he was Mr. OH NO You Didn’t after all.

I could stay home on Friday nights, cuddling with my two cats, feeling sorry for myself about the sad state of affairs I am in.

I could feel like life is passing me by, and someone forgot to stop and pick me up along the way.

I could do that.

Or I could choose the other path. I could LIVE. I could take advantage of my lack of “partner” in life, and enjoy making all my own plans. I could enjoy having a variety of friends from all walks of life, living in all different parts of the world, and revel in my ability to hop on a plane and jet off to visit them at a moment’s notice without having to coordinate schedules with someone else.

I could spend the money I’m not spending on Valentine’s, Birthday, Christmas gifts and buy myself a nice collection of shoes, all the techy toys a tech geek girl like me could dream of, and memories to last a lifetime from all the trips I’ve taken in the last 10 years.

I could enjoy playing with my friends’ kids, and then send them home to mommy and daddy after I’ve spiked them up on sugar and loud toys. Being the coolest “auntie” of all.

I could stay home on Friday nights, cuddling with my two cats, enjoying the peace and quiet, and the liberty to wear my rattiest pjs, hair all disheveled, in the comfort of my own home, which I purchased with my own money, all by my strong independent self.

I love my life. Don’t get me wrong, I too suffer from moments of loneliness and yes, I really do want to meet Mr. Right and have that lasting, loving, wonderful relationship full of conflict and passion and reality that I do honestly believe I’m made for.

But in the meantime, I choose the “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” path…

Except, you know, when my phone rings and it just happens to be my most recent crush…then I turn into a giggly teenage girl.

What? We can’t all be perfect. 😉

Writer’s Note: If you are new to my blog, please note that this post was written in my usual sarcastic and silly tone of voice. If you take me too seriously, well…just don’t.

et cetera