Run #6 – Springdale, OR

This week I’m pulled from civilization to accompany 25 students from my school at Outdoor School. Five nights, six days of camp songs, camp food, and really peppy high schoolers. The weather is probably the best I’ve ever experienced in all my years at ODS so I’m trying to take advantage of being outdoors and away from the normal life within my office walls.

On Monday, I snuck out for a little while to jog around and find a running route. Unfortunately, the longest trail loop within the camp is less than half a mile (and littered with groups of students) so the road in and out of camp is about the only thing I could find.

Today, I went out in search of something longer and more exciting. The road out of the camp is about a mile straight up, although I did stop several times to check out the baby cows. At a mile and a half, I made it to the highway but there was no shoulder and cars were ripping by so I turned around and headed back.

The road was well-paved and surrounded by farms so it was an enjoyable three miles, despite the near 400 ft elevation climb.

IMG_7391

IMG_7390

This run is not as exciting as Barcelona or as nostalgic as the KU campus, and it wasn’t for speed or distance (I stopped to ogle baby cows), but while all the other teachers are filling up on carbs and doing their grading, at least I’ve gotten out there.

IMG_7415

This means I’m officially half-way through my goal of running in 12 different cities by the end of the year. Next week, I’m signed up for a 5k at the Oregon State Penitentiary and I’m headed to Greece in June so I’ve got a couple runs to look forward to in the immediate future.

#8 – Find a new job. Check. (Ahhhh!!!)

That’s right. Today I accepted a new job. I’m just as surprised as you are.

Back in December, I had resolutely (and somewhat publicly) decided that my current position wasn’t what I had hoped for, and as Martha Stewart says, “Never accept an offer if you think it can be improved.” At the beginning of the year, I pulled out my brand new Passion Planner and set to work. Despite my complete and total misery, I mapped out a plan to find a new job, with a deadline of May 1st.

I really spent a lot of time working on this plan, which included a lot of networking with colleagues that I respect in and out of my school district. I also sat down and started collecting a mass amount of evidence of my impact in my current job, as well as ramped up my professional reading. Then I just put my head down and started plowing through, eyes on the prize, playing the long game.

At the beginning of April, I started to realize I wasn’t miserable anymore. In fact, I had some pretty fun days at work, and had made some awesome new friends and coaching soccer after school was super fun. My boss also got off my case, and in fact sometimes he even agreed with me (gasp!). I think I can do this again next year, I thought. As things go in the spring, people start asking each other, “Are you staying next year?” and I had this whole story of how YES, I WAS COMMITTED. I was even going to tell this story at a staff meeting to instill confidence for next year.

Suddenly I was approached about another position. A position I was somewhat dying to have in November, but now? How could I abandon ship? What about my commitment story? What about my soccer team?

In these times, I refer back to a book I read years ago called Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, And Why by Donald Ascher. It said that a job never comes at a perfect time, and you have to be ready to just take it. People who are always waiting for the right time and place end up staying in the same role forever.

So what is the job???? It’s got a fancy name, but basically it’s coaching the other instructional coaches in my district. I’ve been working towards this for awhile now – why wouldn’t I take it?

Technically it’s May 3rd, meaning I’m three days past my deadline, but the point is that it didn’t just fall in my lap. This is five months of strategic work that culminated into this opportunity, so yeah, I’m taking it.

I will miss my current coworkers, and my kickass office (today a student said, “I want my dorm room to look like your office,”), but they can’t get rid of me that easily. I’m pretty sure that I can still fit a cookoff and coaching a soccer team into my new schedule.

PS: Get yourself a Passion Planner – it works!

 

Books of April

I’m halfway through my third book so I didn’t meet my goal, but I struggled to finish my first book of the month so I’ll call it a victory.

Unknown.jpeg Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – I had finished several books in Hawaii and wanted something entertaining for the plane ride home so this was a spontaneously iBooks choice. The first 100 pages had me interested; the premise being that someone in a Mercedes plowed into a huge crowd of people, killed several, and got away with it. After the killer was never caught and the case died down, he wrote a letter to a retired detective and a whole cat-and-mouse story started. But seriously, this book was 400 pages too long, and kind of offensive. After proclaiming my love to Joe Goldberg in You, I obviously don’t have a problem connecting with a murderer, but in Mercedes, the writing felt so heavy-handed and didactic. The detective was a cliche: bored, fat, and missing the action. The killer was equally cliche: emotionless techy with a thing for his mom. I won’t get into the details (because there were so so so many completely pointless and redundant ones) but I couldn’t wait for this book to be over.

7937843.jpg

Room by Emma Donoghue – Meanwhile, I couldn’t put this book down! I purposely didn’t see the movie or read reviews so that I could read the book first – and I’m so glad I was patient. You’ve got a young mother and her five year old son imprisoned in a garden shed by a stranger…for years. But rather than exploit the horrific physical and mental abuse that Joy (the mother) experiences, the story is told from the point of view of her five year old son, Jack. While sometimes he is scared, he is more curious and excited because Joy creates a world of safety in Room.

It’s a great story of survival and bravery, and unique in the way it’s told.

I watched the movie, which followed the book extremely closely. The book was a page turner, and the movie was just as gripping (hel-lo Brie Larson won the Oscar). Everything was just as I had pictured it. But I won’t lie and say it was easy to read or watch – it’s a story that sticks with you for some pretty dark reasons.

room-movie-2015-jacob-temblay-brie-larson.jpg

 

Movie of April – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Well, March was crazy what with traveling to NOLA, Kansas, and Hawaii so I didn’t see a movie in the theater, but as soon as I got a free weekend I made sure to make time for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

As a big fan of Cloverfield (2008), I had been secretly following the gossip around 10 Cloverfield Lane  for a couple years. Between the name and JJ Abrahms also producing this one, I knew there had to be some kind of connection – but the real question was how much?

10cl_poster.jpgThe story kicks off right away with a young woman, Michelle, getting in a serious car accident and waking up chained to a pipe in what appears to be a basement (which sadly took my brain to Saw, Hostel, and god forbid Human Centipede). Her captor, Howard, (played by John Goodman) is anxious, short-tempered and claims to be saving her life (but from what we don’t know). cloverfield5-xlarge.jpgWe soon find out that they are living in a well-stocked fallout shelter with another young man, Emmett, who is grateful for the refuge. And that’s about the whole cast. On one hand, you’re hoping our protagonist escapes from her forced imprisonment, and on the other hand it seems possible that the world really has come to an end above ground.

John Goodman is creepy and loveable at the same time, and you know that I lovelovelove a smart and tenacious female lead.

The thing is that I don’t want to give away too much because there are so many things that keep you guessing throughout the film, and I would even venture that we may visit the Cloverfield universe in another upcoming story (please please please).

Here’s the trailer, and I totally recommend you catch this one for yourself.

 

A new item to the list – Learn to Meditate

My eyes were closed and all I heard was the waves from the beach. Thor blurted, “Are you meditating right now?”

I opened one eye and replied, “Maybe…why?”

“Because you never look that calm and serene,” he half sneers.

When I first started getting nutrition coaching, the doctor suggested meditation. I laughed, “Yeah that’s not me.” The more I worked with her, the more I realized how much the daily grind of life really played a massive part in how well (or how poorly) my eating habits played out. In lieu of meditation, she gave me a few simple breathing techniques to try and, despite my skepticism, they worked – especially when I had trouble sleeping.

But meditation? No thanks. I just don’t identify with people who do that.

This year, I considered adding “Learn to Meditate” to my annual bucket list, but it sounded so hokey. I wasn’t ready for that public shaming. It got omitted.

Yet earlier this month, when I was jetting setting to NOLA and working my full-time day job and planning our 10th anniversary party, I started to feel that “seriously overwhelmed” feeling that is usually reserved for the first and last week of school. Impulsively, I downloaded a meditation app called Headspace which claimed I would only need to take ten minutes out of my day. I settled alone on the couch for my first session, and felt “just had a massage” relaxed when it was over.

That’s when I decided to add “Learn to Meditate” to my official list, and have used the app almost everyday for the last two and a half weeks. At first, I did it secretly but sometimes I couldn’t find a moment alone and eventually had to spill the beans to Thor. As expected, he laughed and made fun of me for the first couple days, and then started prodding me about which app I was using. (You know, in case he wanted to try it).

It hasn’t been easy. Some days my brain is spinning and I just can’t seem to focus (or unfocus), and other days I’ve fallen asleep. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere in the middle (the term hypnopompic comes to mind). I’ve meditated on the couch, in bed, on an airplane, on the beach, and in my office.

You’d think morning meditation on a Hawaiian beach  would be clutch, but mid-way through I felt sand fly at my feet and through my headphones I could hear some lady screeching, “Put the chairs down here – RIGHT HERE!” I squeezed my eyes closed and pushed through, but it was a horrible experience. All I could think was that somebody was encroaching on my mindfulness time – how dare they.

I’m certainly not ready to cross this one off the list because I am still learning, but “Learn to Meditate” is official now – go ahead, make your jokes. Or you could try it, too, and tell me what you think.

20150713-Headspace-logo.png

Unknown.jpeg

 

 

#21 – Ride a ferry from Maui to Lanai

Originally, I had hoped to ride a ferry from Maui to Molokai. Who doesn’t want a tour of a historical leper colony? Also, having already been to the other main islands many times over, I was hoping for a more secluded experience, if only for a day.

I had a vague picture in my head of what I wanted to do: ride the ferry (seeing a few whales and dolphins along the way), find a lonely beach, eat a picnic lunch and possibly take the official tour of the leper colony.

However, once we arrived in Maui and I started doing my homework, the only ferry I could find was pricey ($125 roundtrip, not including a car rental or shuttle) and it departed at 6:30am and didn’t return again until 7:00pm – that sounded seriously exhausting. But from our hotel beach, I could also see Lanai in the distance, as well. So I did some searching.

For $60 roundtrip, and multiple choices for departure and arrival, Lanai seemed to be the ticket. I read that a great beach was only a ten minute walk from the ferry dock, and that if we wanted to go to town, a shuttle could take us there for $10. So yesterday, that’s what we did.

It was easy to buy ferry tickets on http://go-lanai.com a couple days beforehand, and then boarded the top deck for a 6:45am departure. Once we took off, we caught the sunrise and immediately spotted several whale pods.

IMG_6864.JPG

IMG_6871.JPG

The ride took about 45 minutes and we quickly unloaded at the Manele dock. It really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. Hotels and condos did not litter coast line (in fact, there were none at all), and the dock was just big enough for our boat.IMG_6873.JPG

Right down the road, we found Hulopo’e Beach – not exactly super private, as many locals were camping and the Four Seasons guests had fancy lounge chairs set up – but it was still a far cry from our crazy busy Napili Bay beach. The sand was powder fine and the snorkeling was the best of our trip. There were even bathrooms and a shower.IMG_6874.JPG

We spent the day lounging, and even though we could have eaten at the Four Season, we packed sandwiches and Hawaiian Suns and lots of water. When it got too hot we found shade in the grass and watched wild turkeys roam the park until it was time to get back on the ferry. IMG_6878.JPG

Upon further investigation, it would run you about $2000 a night to stay at the Four Seasons in Lanai. Bummer. But I still enjoyed watching the 1% be waited on hand and foot (the beach valet literally set up their lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, paddle boards, etc).

I totally crashed out on the ferry ride home, and we still had plenty of time. For us, it was a good way to get away from the crowds (these spring break families are killing me!) and get some really good snorkeling in. Thor even said it was his favorite day of the trip (until today where he vegged out endlessly).

More info about Hulopo’e Beach can be found here: http://www.gohawaii.com/en/lanai/regions-neighborhoods/south-lanai/hulopoe-bay-lanai/

#22 – Go Paddleboarding in the ocean. Check.

As I had already found that stand up paddle boarding in lakes and rivers is relatively easy, my next goal was to try it out in the ocean. Surely the waves would make SUP more challenging, and where else to try than in Hawaii?

The thing about paddle boarding is that it’s seriously easy for pretty much everyone…or so I thought. Thor is notoriously better than me (and everyone else on the planet) at just about everything. A couple days ago we decided to play shuffleboard (both of us being equally new to it) and he won every single game. For the last ten years of our marriage, this is the status quo; I’m always the persistent sidekick, and he’s the naturally talented hero.

So when we rented paddle boards ($40 for the whole day) and drug them down to the beach, I was like, “Paddle out on your knees and then just stand up. You’ll get it.” But within the first five minutes, he had already lost his sunglasses from repeatedly falling back into the water. Meanwhile, I was paddling circles around him, “Less upper body; more centered on the board!”

While the ocean waves added a bit of challenge, it wasn’t any harder than navigating a boat’s wake in the river. I paddled back and forth across the bay. Thor, on the other hand, got frustrated and went inside after an hour.

Overall, I’m glad I tried paddle boarding in the ocean, although it didn’t end up being the workout I had hoped for. Also, once he had gone inside and I was all alone way out where the bay becomes the real ocean, I kept thinking, “What if a shark finds me? No one will know.” Then my eyes were playing tricks on me and I was seeing shadows circle my board and I decided to frantically paddle back in.

Sadly, I couldn’t take any pictures because we were in the water but you get the idea.
IMG_6853