Candid Karina











{November 14, 2011}   10 Days to the 10k

This time last year I made a crazy decision.  I signed up for my very first 5k race (that’s 3.2 miles for the non-running non-metric system users).  I convinced a group of friends to join me, and with my very limited running experience, on Thanksgiving morning four of us crossed the finish line together with a time around 31 minutes.  That would become my 3rd best 5k time to date.

When this year began, as I continued training & racing, I decided that my goal for the year would be to run the very same race this year, but to do the 10k instead (6.2 miles).

And then I got injured and a series of events set me back a bit on my running training. 

And yet, Thanksgiving seemed so far away…no problem, i’d be ready to tackle that 10k.

So I signed up w a friend.

Friends…that race is in TEN DAYS.  Gulp.

I have not been training nearly enough.  The longest distance I’ve run to date is 4.5 miles.

I have been sick and haven’t put a pair of running shoes (or gym shoes) on my feet in two weeks.

And I have TEN DAYS.

I might be freaking out a little bit.

And excited.  Because really…why not?  Two years ago I couldn’t run 3 minutes.  Last year I ran 3 miles.  How can 6 scare me?  I can do anything I set my heart to, right?

Bring it!

Besides…there’s a free pie with my name on it at the end of that race!

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{November 10, 2011}   To New Adventures

I have a vague recollection of showing interest via a survey, poll, or email a few months ago in attending the Women of Faith Conference in Hartford, CT.

 

I couldn’t begin to tell you exactly how it was that I came across this opportunity…but I was asked if I’d be interested in attending, and if so, which location I preferred.  I picked Hartford, as it was the closest to me geographically.  Then I promptly forgot all about it, and moved on with my daily life.

 

Then, about a month ago, I received my registration and free tickets in the mail.  It took me but a few minutes to remember that I had, indeed, shown interest in this conference.  It took me even less time to get excited about the prospect of attending.

 

I immediately called a friend who I know would love the opportunity to attend with me.  Sadly, she couldn’t make it.  So, I moved onto the next friend who I KNEW would absolutely be down for going.  She, too, could not make it.  So, I had now reached out to the two most spiritual and religious “Women of Faith” that I know, who I knew I’d enjoy spending a weekend with, learning, growing, sharing.  I knew I had others I could reach out to, but I simply wasn’t sure where to go next on my list.

 

I know many Women of Faith, and many who I knew I could and would enjoy a weekend such as this one with.  But which one?  Where to turn?  So, I turned to God.  I said “God, I know you want me to go to this conference, so, alone or with a friend, rest assured, I am going…but who should I ask?”

 

God led me to my 3rd friend.  A new friend.  My running buddy, my gym partner.  I have known her less than a year, yet in this short time, we have become sisters.  We run together, we work out together, we share meals, and we share our doubts, our struggles and our joys.  The day I met her (introduced by friend #2 above, while the 3 of us went for a run), I knew instantly we’d be friends.  The next time we got together, it was just the two of us going for a run.  I happened to be frustrated about something personal, and vented during the run.  And she listened, counseled, and reacted as if we’d been friends a lifetime.  It was fate.  Our friendship I mean.  It is one of those I like to call God Friendships.  Because only through God can a friendship like this exist.  So effortless, so immediate, so real.

 

My friend believes in God.  But she has been distant for a while.  Recently, within the last year, she has been searching.  We’ve attended church together, we’ve discussed faith.  She is at the beginning of her journey back to God.

 

And it is she, that somehow, (and we all know how), ended up being my companion for this upcoming conference.

 

I am excited to go.  Excited to see, learn, experience, feel, pray, listen, share.  I have attended many conferences in the past, for work, for other “non-faith related” reasons.  I have attended many “faith retreats” in the past.  But I have never done something such as this.  A conference of this magnitude, for women only, to share in our faith.  I cannot wait to see what unfolds. I believe the timing for me personally couldn’t be more perfect.  I have been growing in my faith in the last few years, and this is just another stepping stone on my journey.

 

But more than my excitement, is hers.  She is as excited for this as any other person would be for a weekend getaway of sightseeing in Savannah.  This is retreat and a treat for her.  She is giddy.  And her excitement is such a blessing to see.  I am so grateful that I get to share this experience with her.

 

We leave tonight…I’ll give a full report next week.



{November 8, 2011}   Surviving the Middle Ages

In this day and age, it is easy to forget how easy we have it.  What I mean is, life is hard.  We work hard.  We struggle financially, physically, emotionally.  The news are filled with sad stories of struggle and despair.  Politics are depressing and not very hopefully.  The economy sucks.  There is widespread pandemonium it seems.

And yet…

We live in a world of comfort and luxury.  Here in the U.S. at least.  Here in my corner of New England.  With my home, and my car, and my job.  With my televison and my snuggie and my internet.  With my shoes and my clothes and my addiction to nice things.

We…and here I’ll go ahead and change we to “I”, struggle but live a good life. I am blessed immensely.

Last weekend, however, New England was hit with a pre-winter snow storm.  We were pummeled, and due to the leaves still on trees, power outages affected millions.  I lost power for about 48 hours.  I had no heat.  No television. No computer. No microwave. No radio. (but I still had my car and cell phone…life of luxury)…

Once the power returned, I was forced to throw away a fridge/freezer full of groceries.

Once the power returned, I came down with the nastiest cold I’ve experienced in years (still recovering).

I spent this past weekend huddled on my couch, with my television and internet as my only company (besides my two cats)…

And both weekends I marvelled at how blessed I am.  That even in the midst of disaster and the plague (I’m a big baby when I’m sick)…I am so spoiled by this world of comfort & luxury…

Perspective…sometimes, a setback is just what we need to gain some…



{November 2, 2011}   Just Write

As I try to tackle NaBloPoMo, not to force myself to write a post a day for a month, but as a way to remind myself that I AM a blogger, and want to give my blog more attention, I came across this on Pinterest (oh, how I heart Pinterest):

Source: farewellstranger.com via Kallay on Pinterest

 

 

So, write I will…and the rest, well…the rest is life! 😉



{November 1, 2011}   NaNoBloWho??

It’s November.  Which means it is NaNoWriMo or, National Novel Writing Month.  Also known as the crazy month when writers everywhere commit to writing 50,000 words in one month.

It is also NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, the month when bloggers everywhere commit to writing a post every single day for a month…

I’ve done both in the past.  In fact, quite a few years back I did BOTH at the same time.

In recent years, I have attempted NaNoWriMo, but have not quite made it to the 50k mark.

I abandoned NaBloPoMo ages ago…I’m barely a blogger at this point, let’s be honest…so, a post every day for a month?  Not likely.

November, especially, is a tough month…I help put together a youth retreat on Thanksgiving weekend, which requires MONTHS of preparation, and the month of November is crunch time.  Also, I am away on said youth retreat the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend.  As in, away from all technology.  Which takes away at the very least three days of writing, right up against the deadline at the end of the month.

Plus, due to the completely unprecedented  and unexpected snowstorm this past weekend, I spent the last 48 hours without power…and today, which should have been the first day of NaNo, I was too busy doing things like cleaning out a fridge full of spoiled food.

So, any sane person would tell you, there is no way I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and no, I’m also NOT going to do NaBloPoMo…

But, I’ve never been accused of being sane…

SO…don’t count me out just yet…I’ll make up my mind by the end of the week… 😉



{October 3, 2011}   An Amazing Race

Sometimes, you do things that…well…reach beyond any of your expectations of who you believed you were.  And in the last few years, I seem to be completely shattering any and all expectations I (or anyone else, for that matter) ever had about myself.

I’ve written before about the fact that I’ve gone from the girl who used to say “I’ll run if someone is chasing me” to the girl who CRAVES a run after a long day at work.

I’ve shared with you how earlier this year I went from the girlie girl obsessed with make-up and high heels (which I still am) to the girl who did a MUD RUN

And this past weekend I became the girl who put on her bathing suit in a public local park, in OCTOBER, and went down a slip and slide covered in dish detergent, and later that same day, covered her face in chocolate pudding and posed for a picture.

This weekend, I also became something that I had never even dreamed was a possibility in my lifetime, but can now check off the good ol’ bucket list.  I am now officially an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Yes, me.

Let me back up and explain.

This weekend, on Saturday, October 1st, I participated in SmithFest.  Smithfest is an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt through the Greater Lowell area of Massachusetts.  Created and organized by Fred Smith, it is in its fourth year and growing by leaps and bounds yearly.  The race was founded to be (and still is) a fundraiser.  The charities that benefited this year were the Make A Wish Foundation and “Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy”.  Two very worthy and amazing causes.  I don’t have the exact numbers of how much was raised yet, but I will update this post once I do.

The event works as such: Teams of Four raise at the minimum a mandatory $500 in order to able to compete (there is also a $120 registration fee when you sign your team up).  There is a fundraising competition involved, so teams also battle it out to raise the most money possible.  The top fundraising team this year raised over $3,000 (our team didn’t raise quite as much, but we are determined to quadruple our fundraising efforts next year).

On the day of the event, the teams receive their “information packets” and are sent off on a wild goose chase throughout the Greater Lowell Area.  There are tasks to be performed, challenges to be met, trivia to be answered, pictures to be taken, shenanigans galore.  The race begins at 10:30 am, and the finish line is at 5:30PM sharp.  All tasks, challenges, photos and such accumulate varying degrees of points.  The team with the most points at the end, wins.

Simple enough.  Right?  Right.

Until you factor in that the optional “point gathering” challenges include things such as take a picture of fireman in a thong, bring back to the finish line a FULL SIZE mail truck, and have two teammates shave off their eyebrows.  No, seriously…

As I sit here typing this (eyebrows intact, thank you very much), I have bruises and aches in places I’m not sure are suitable for print.  I also have memories to last a lifetime, and a bit of a sore throat from all the laughing and screaming I did on Saturday.

There are some pretty interesting photographs of two of my teammates in the local paper.

There are still some unknown substances on the bottom of my sneakers.

Oh, and the Guinness Book of World Records thing?  Prior to Saturday, the record for the largest Scavenger Hunt with Teams of Four was 50 teams.  After Saturday, it was 84 teams.  My team included.

I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.



I’ve discovered some new (and old) music this week that I just have to share with you.  If you are new to this blog, and my world, then I should preface this post by saying that music to me is about as essential as oxygen…I am obsessed, enraptured, enamored and completely in love with music.  So, it goes without saying that I am always searching for new acts, new bands, new sounds to add to my ever-growing list of favorites.

So, this week, I have a few albums and even a few new acts added to the mix.

Starting with the “old”, earlier this week I discovered that 3 Doors Down has a new album out.  The album has been out since July, but for some reason, I did not know this.  I’ve been a fan of 3 Doors Down for years, so I was really happy to learn of this new album, and also, to learn that Amazon currently has said album for only $3.99: Time of My Life.  I snatched it up, and have listened through it 4 times already.  I love it.

Also this week I discovered Gavin DeGraw has a new album “Sweeter”, and again, thanks to Amazon, I picked that up as their deal of the day for $3.99.  I’ve always been a casual fan of Gavin’s, ever since he sang the theme song for One Tree Hill oh so many years ago…but this album is his first that I own.  I’m truly enjoying it as well, it’s a pretty low-key and laid back album, but has some really great songs with some really great lyrics.

Finally, I discovered a “new” to me band this week as well.  I’ve heard the name “Need to Breathe” before.  I know they have a song “The Outsiders” which I have heard before and like, but besides that, I’ve just never paid them much attention.  Then on Wednesday they popped up twice.  First Gavin DeGraw tweeted about them.  And then, on a FB page I was looking at, completely unrelated to them, there was a link to listen to their full album “the Reckoning” on AOL music…so, I did just that. You can too, right here. (P.S. you can also listen to Gavin DeGraw’s “Sweeter” and a bunch of other full albums there)  What I discovered was that I REALLY like them.  I find that they sound to me like a combination of Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, if you can envision that sound.  They have a soulful rock sound to them, with a little bit of banjo and country feel thrown in…every song had just a little bit of a different twist in it that made it difficult for me to pinpoint them exactly.  Drive All Night really gave me the KOL/M&S feel.  Keep Your Eyes Open is almost all KOL.  Maybe They’re On To Us had more of an old school “Doors” like sound, I heard Johnny Cash (A Place Only You Can Go), some “gospel”-ish stuff (…I can’t really pinpoint any of it…but I LOVE IT ALL…this one has quickly become a band I need to know more about and download…

So, there you have it, my picks for this week…

I love new music…what are you listening to now?



{September 21, 2011}   MixFest 2011 – Concert Review

I am a huge fan of live music.

On Saturday, I was in my own private version of heaven when I was able to attend an all day outdoor concert, which also just happened to be FREE.  I attended the 104.1 MixFest outside at the Hatch Shell on Boston’s Charles River.  The acts for the day were Javier Colon, Michelle Branch, Sara Bareilles, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Lifehouse.

Prior to Mixfest I was familiar with all the acts, but only really a true fan of one (lifehouse, and trust me when I tell you “fan” is an understatement…).

Having watched “the Voice” I was looking forward to seeing winner Javier Colon live, especially since he’d actually been my pick to win it all from day one (it didn’t hurt that he was on team Adam (Levine).  He did not disappoint.  He was only on stage for about 20 minutes, given the nature of the show, but he absolutely delivered.  Here is Time After Time:

Michelle Branch took the stage next, and I have to admit that her act was perhaps the low point of the day for me, I wasn’t overly impressed. That’s not to say she was bad (she was not), she just didn’t blow me away.

The biggest surprise of the day, for me, perhaps, came when Sara Bareilles took the stage.  I like her music well enough.  King of Anything is a great song, as is “Love Song”…but I just hadn’t really ever given her or her talent much thought.  She was, however, fantastic live.  She was funny and personable, and extremely talented.  She has gained a new fan in me.

I was very much looking forward to seeing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals live.  I love their “Paris, Ooh La La” song, and had watched one of their live shows on Palladia not too long ago, and was excited to see what they would to live on stage.  They were wonderful.  Grace really rocks out on that stage, as do the rest of her bandmates.  It was a lively, fun, and great performance.

And finally, the big moment for me…headliners lifehouse took the stage.  To know me is to know that I will pretty much love every single song ever written by lifehouse.  I own every album (and there are plenty of those) and have seen them live now five different times (mixfest included).  I also believe they are one of those rare bands that manage to be even BETTER live than on cd.  This is, in fact, how I became a fan.  I’d heard a few of their songs, but wasn’t a fan until I accidentally saw them live, over 7 years ago…I took a friend to their show as a birthday present for her, and was SO impressed by their live show that I instantly became an even bigger fan than she was (or currently is).  Jason Wade’s voice is incredible, but what absolutely blows me away each and every time I’ve seen them live is the fact that they truly deliver an experience that surpasses their recorded stuff.  They did not disappoint at mixfest.  In fact, if at all possible, I walked away an even bigger fan once again.

Overall, a great day, gorgeous weather, a picnic by the water, and some wonderful music…all for free too.  I can’t wait till next year’s show.

 



{September 14, 2011}   Summer Lovin’…

There is something that happens when the summer starts to sing its lullaby.  I get confused.

I love the summertime.  The sun, the beach, the cook-outs and day trips; the never-ending daylight, laying by the pool, outdoor seating in restaurants; the flip-flops, the sundresses, the ability to just step outside without worry of jackets and scarves and gloves.

I can’t get enough of it.

So, it is no big surprise that when summer reaches the end, I hang on for dear life, not wanting to let it go.  As the nights come sooner, and the days grow shorter, I begin to panic.  For as a New Englander, I know just what is RIGHT AROUND the corner.  And there is very little to like about a long, dark, cold and snowy winter.  (And you have no idea how long it took me to even write out those words…)

Not my favorite season.

And yet…

I find myself absolutely conflicted in September, as the evenings begin to take that comfortable chill.  As the air begins to clear up, letting go of the humidity and opening up the ability to take in big lungfulls of autumn breath.  As a runner, there is no better time of the year…an early evening run through, with that crispness as your running partner is amazing.  And Fall clothes?  Oh how I love a nice pair of boots worn with a dress, or a light jacket over a tank top and jeans…

But Fall is SO SHORT in New England…

It is, therefore, incredibly difficult for me to fully embrace and enjoy what I actually believe might be my favorite season of the year.  If only we could truly have a full season of Autumn, I would jump for joy…just the thought of that crisp autumn air, the memory of the sound of leaves crunching under my feet…oh yes, I do love the season…

But I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to Summer just yet…

See…I’m so confused.



{September 8, 2011}   Movie Review – The Help

“You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important”…

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t read the book “The Help” and I had less than zero interest in going to see the movie.  In fact, I had a few friends mention the movie to me, and I pretty much would avoid the subject, just in case they suggested going to see it…I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t really know all that much about it, I just knew that it hadn’t really sparked an interest for me.

And just when I thought I’d managed to avoid getting dragged to see it, I made movie plans with a friend tonight, and she picked The Help.  It was her turn to pick the movie, since I picked last time, and fair is fair, after all.  So, even though I really didn’t want to, I agreed…after all, I’d heard it was a really good movie, and I was sure I’d like it in the end.

I am so glad I went to see it.  What a wonderful movie this was.

In case you don’t know what this movie is about (just as I really didn’t), it is about “the help” or basically black maids during the civil rights era in the deep Mississippi south.  And about one woman, a white woman, who decides to tell their story, from their point of view.  That about sums it up, but it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what this movie was really about.  It was about humanity, about friendship, about family, about women and their fight for independence, about fighting for what is right, even when you don’t think you can make a difference.

I felt every emotion you can think of watching this movie: anger, shame, pride, pain, sadness, happiness…I was on the edge of my seat trying not to stand up and punch the seat in front of me at some points (ignorance and racism really rile me up), I was sitting back in my seat hugging my arms, wanting to hug the characters on screen.  I had tears in my eyes.  Followed by out loud laughter.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I walked away from the theater feeling inspired, fired up, and…fulfilled.  Like…I needed to see this film, I needed to listen to those stories, and to take away some message…

I tell you, you have to go see this movie…that is all.



et cetera