Birthday Music

This idea was borrowed from my friend Sheridan over at Five Awesome Things. She posted a birthday playlist of songs that had moved her over the past year (don’t have to be released in the past year, just songs that were important to you). It sounded like such a cool idea that I wanted to join in on the fun. So, in no particular order, here are the 9 (in honor of my 29th birthday) songs that were most important to me in the last year.

1. Indaco by Ludovico Einaudi

I discovered Ludovico Einaudi a few years ago, but I was reminded of his existence by KUSC, which I listen to on the way to work. He had taken all 10 spots on the iTunes Classical chart recently, and I so liked the piece they played on the radio that I downloaded it immediately. It reminds me of a (much much much) more restrained Keith Jarrett. There’s always improv piano music in my house, and this sounds so very similar to it.


2. Thousand Eyes by Of Monsters and Men

When the trailer for Jessica Jones came out, I had to go Google what song it used right away. I knew the show was going to be very personally important to me, and the song just resonated so much. After looking up the band’s information, I realized that I somehow keep being drawn to Icelandic music groups. I have no idea why.

“I’ll be the calm / I will be quiet / Stripped to the bone / I wait / No, I’ll be a stone / I’ll be the hunter / A tower that casts a shade”

3. Try by Tyler Ward (cover, original by P!nk)

Found, as many good covers are, through Grey’s Anatomy. I loved the original by P!nk, but I hadn’t thought about it in awhile until I heard this cover. Lyrics are always really important to me, and I love every word in this track.

“Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame / Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned / But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die / You gotta get up and try, and try, and try”

4. Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Who hasn’t heard this song this year? This is my “turn it up loud in the car and play the final drum breakdown on the steering wheel” song.

“And all those things I didn’t say / Wrecking balls inside my brain / I will scream them loud tonight / Can you hear my voice this time?”

5. Ghost Town by Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert’s new album was a little hit-or-miss for me, but the sound of this song was just so catchy and the lyrics were amazing. Such a perfect “drive cynically through Hollywood at night” song.

“Died last night in my dreams / Walking the streets / Of some old ghost town / I tried to believe / In God and James Dean / But Hollywood sold out”

6. Here by Alessia Cara

This song is, and I quote the artist, “about everyone who secretly hates parties.” Ever wondered what it’s like to be an introvert at a party? THIS.

“I’m sorry if I seem uninterested / Or I’m not listenin’ or I’m indifferent  / Truly, I ain’t got no business here / But since my friends are here  / I just came to kick it but really / I would rather be at home all by myself not in this room / With people who don’t even care about my well-being”

7. Take Me To Church by Hozier

Again, everyone heard this song. But it’s incredibly beautiful.

“In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene / Only then I am human / Only then I am clean”

8. Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578 by Johann Sebastian Bach (arr. for orchestra by Leopold Stokowski)

I bashed Bach for a long time, because his music sounded mechanical and all the same to me. But since I started listening to classical music on my commute, I’ve actually gained a lot of appreciation for his music and the mathematical complexity it holds. This is one of my favorite Bach pieces that I heard this year. The huge ending just kills me.

9. To Be Alone by Hozier

Another Hozier song to close out the list. I just love the dirty bluesy sound of this piece.

“Never feel too good in crowd / With folks around, when they’re playing / The anthems of rape culture loud / Crude and proud creatures baying”



Everyone You Meet


“Let us be kind, to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” – Ian MacLaren *

When I was younger and my family would go on long drives, I’d spend a lot of time staring out the window at the other cars. I’d think about how many cars I was seeing, and the fact that inside each of those cars was at least one other person. That other person, like me, was living their own life, having their own problems, and thinking their own thoughts. The sheer amount of individuality and complexity of the idea was staggering to me, and still is when I really stop to focus on it. We are surrounded by the complexity of humanity, and it’s a struggle to imagine it accurately.

The quote at the top of this entry* is something that came to mind when I thought about this weekend, and about my experience so far on Team NutriBullet. Being on a team, or a part of any group that is focused on a similar goal, is a good way to really see the value of that mindset in action. On my team, we have people who are dealing with chronic health problems. People who have had their abilities drastically change due to accidents and injury. People who have recently had children. People who are having marriage difficulties, work troubles, deaths in the family, and on, and on, and on.

Every one of us is fighting through something, whether inwardly or outwardly. And that “something” necessarily influences our actions and our abilities, whether outward observers know that it does or not. When that “something” isn’t necessarily visible, it’s all too easy to slip into judgment of someone’s words or action, without realizing that they are doing their best – just like you.

Which is why it’s so nice to be a part of something like Team NutriBullet, where we are all reaching for such a big goal that we need to reach out to each other for support to make it. To be in a place where we trust that we are all doing our best gives us all the room to imagine each other complexly, and to see that we are all working as hard as we each can to be the best we can be.

We ran our first race as a team this weekend, the Calabasas Classic 5k. It was really fun, partly because I love racing, but also because it was exciting to be surrounded by teammates who supported every single team member from the one who got second place overall, to the one who finished his first race since an accident left him in a wheelchair. While we were standing at the starting line, Michael, a teammate, tapped me on the shoulder.

“You look nervous,” he said. “I can see it in your face. Just relax. I believe in you, and we believe in you, and you’re going to do great.”

It was exactly what I needed in that moment. I’m pretty shy, and not great about speaking up and reaching out to others, but Michael inspired me to try more to remember that everyone is fighting as hard as they can, and it never hurts to reach out and help them along in whatever way you can.

Imagining people complexly is hard. And sometimes, when I’m going through my own shit, it feels like maybe it’s not worth the effort. It’s so easy to rest in a lack of imagination and empathy. It’s funny, when you tell someone about something big in your life, sometimes people respond with “Oh man, I could never deal with that. I don’t know how you do it.” I mostly find it funny, because that’s exactly what people say when I tell them I’m running a marathon in February.

I do it the same way you do, the same way we all do. We get back up off the ground, we keep breathing, we keep putting one foot in front of the other (or we keep our wheels rolling), and we survive it together.  It’s hard to reach out when you’re wrapped up on your own battle. But I’ve been realizing over the past several weeks that it’s so very worth it.

*Not who you usually see this quote attributed to? Click on the link and you’ll be taken to a blog that traces famous quotes back to their sources. I usually try to check out famous quotes there first, to make sure I’m not perpetuating too much misunderstanding.

#WNWW: Wednesday Night Warrior Workout Hill Training

I was a very whiny athlete on Wednesday.

My achilles tendons are no longer injured. There have been no bumps on them for months, and I don’t have anything I’d call “pain” in them after runs (although that doesn’t stop me from pinching the hell out of them after every run in a paranoid fashion, just to make sure. Yes, I’m aware I might do more damage that way, my anxiety isn’t listening to you). Generally they’ll get a weird tingly feeling if I push them too far. And that’s all I’m trying to do at this point in training, push them far enough to get stronger, and not so far that I injure myself. I make smart choices: I warm up slowly by walking for 5 minutes first, and then run/walking, I modify workouts, I stretch carefully, I sleep in a brace that keeps my right foot from pointing in my sleep (since my right was by far the worst off).

This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m always happy about all these smart choices. And this Wednesday was especially difficult because I LOVE hill training. One of my favorite memories from a Coyote training season is when I managed to do 6 repeats of the “washing machine” hill loops. They sucked and they were amazing, and I felt on top of the world after I finished the last one. But I knew going into this workout that I wasn’t going to be able to run the uphills (and probably not the downhills, given that they require even more pounding and stress than an uphill). I’m dying to push myself again, and as I get stronger and stronger, it only gets harder and harder to hold myself back.

So most everyone took off running, reflective vests glowing up the hill, and I marched my smart ass up the hill and back down. And did it again. And again. When Coach Nicole asked me how I was feeling after round 2, instead of giving a dutiful athlete report of how my tendons were doing, I snarked off “Bored.” And continued to march my ass up and down the hill, probably with an epic case of RBF (I am genetically gifted at Resting Bitch Face – if I’m not actively thinking about looking pleasant I look simultaneously bored and like I’m planning a murder. I’m a Slytherin, I can’t help it).

It was not a workout that left me feeling particularly fulfilled, and also not one that made me particularly happy afterwards. Apparently my cardiovascular system and muscles weren’t quite stressed enough to get any good endocannabinoids going.

But I have to keep reminding myself that every workout makes a difference, even the ones that inspire a kind of boredom that I normally associate with staff meetings. One step at a time.

Musings from the Pacific Coast Highway


I don’t understand when people tell me they are comforted by the ocean. Or by nature in general. “Comfort” isn’t a word that captures what I feel when I’m running the mountains, or standing by the ocean. It’s not peace either. The quiet of the places is often peaceful, but the essential places themselves do not make me feel restful and calm.

Nature, to me, is very much like space. It’s vast, changeable, and it doesn’t hate us. Nor does it love us. More terrifying than both of those possibilities, it gives absolutely no fucks about us. Our living and suffering and dying doesn’t register at all on that scale. Despite how harsh that sounds, it’s not a negative feeling to me. It’s almost akin to a…respect? An excitement?

The feelings I get in nature are the same as those I get from reading an excellent piece of writing that turns my chest inside out. Or listening to music that makes my “self” -everything that makes me, ME – disappear. It’s a feeling that makes me think about connection back through the whole of humanity, a connection to everyone who has ever connected with stories or music or to the overwhelming power of the world that has surrounded us for the entire duration of our history.

But to me, none of those feelings are described in the word “comfort.” I feel adrenaline, an aching hunger in my soul, a feeling that a sense of a cosmic completion is just out of reach.

Language is necessarily imprecise. We use it as shorthand, to hopefully convey the essence of things that we are thinking and feeling and doing. But it falls so short, and we fall so short in our use of it.

Take “I love you.” The words that make your heart beat faster when the person you’re hoping feels the same as you do says them. The words you say to a mother or father or sibling at the end of a phone call. The words that you say to a friend when they hand you a coffee after a long morning at work.

We use those same three words to mean so many things – I desire you sexually. I desire you romantically. I feel a deep connection with you. You are family. You are important to me. I would die for you. I would die without you. I’m grateful for you.

We assume that the listener understands what we mean from context clues, and from past experience. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But it’s rare that we stop and acknowledge that what we say doesn’t always communicate exactly what we mean.

I’m thinking about all this because I just drove up the coast to Malibu. I’m working at the annual 7th grade retreat for the next few days. When we got there, the staff asked the teachers to join the introductions, telling the kids where we were from and what our deepest fear is.

I said tsunamis, because I’d just driven up the coast, and because the ocean always has an edge of malevolent possibility in mind. It’s not true that it’s my deepest fear, although it lurks somewhere in my Generalized Anxiety Disorder pantheon. I don’t know if I know what my deepest fear is. Or, to be accurate in my language, I’m not sure I want to think hard enough to find out.

I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with the meanings within and behind words. Sometimes I wonder if I’m bored by the everyday routine of my life and I get wrapped up in ways to complicate and analyze the hell out of it. Maybe it’s because I often feel like spoken words fall short of what I’m actually trying to get across. Or maybe I just read too many books.

Team NutriBullet Long Run #2 and Strength Training

Although Long Run #2 started almost an hour later than Long Run #1, there was a noticeable lack of zest as everyone filtered in to our meeting place. Maybe other people were feeling like I did…that 20 weeks suddenly felt like a very very long time to show up and see the same people and run longer and longer every week. I did remember what Chandra said the first week though, that this whole experience is about the journey, not the destination. That thought helped get me a little more excited to get out and run again.

However, we weren’t going to hit the road until we…drumroll please…learned how to tie our shoes! That’s right, a bunch of runners had to sit down, take their shoes off, and actually think about how we were lacing up our kicks.

This came from a story about legendary coach John Wooden, who used to sit his basketball players down at the first practice of the year and show them the correct way to put on their socks and tie their shoes, as a way of practically demonstrating that the little things matter a great deal in the big picture.

Now, I trust Coach Jimmy with my life, but I have to admit, as we started lacing up our shoes, I rolled my eyes a bit inwardly and thought “I’ll just put them back my original way when we’re done.” Obviously I’d been running with them laced just fine, because it had been working out ok, so why should I have to change?

Spoiler alert, not all change is bad. And putting aside your own stubbornness and pride can be a really good thing sometimes. The new lacing system works great, keeps the tops of my feet from being sore, and works way better than my old system.

After that, we headed out on our run. I ran with Lisa again, and it was nice to see that we improved just a little bit on our splits from last week, while still staying nice and aerobic (and even though the weather was nice and warm).

When we got back to the meeting spot, it was blast time! This week’s blast included cinnamon, which I’m not the biggest fan of (in my world, it gets mixed with sugar and put on buttered toast, and that’s about the only time I use it), but in the spirit of getting out of my own way and trying things, I drank the whole thing. I still wasn’t a huge fan of cinnamon when I finished, but hey, I got those anti-inflammatory benefits anyway!

After a quick clinic about different types of running shoes and socks, we were done with long run #2. I headed home to shower, put on different running clothes, and then went to Disneyland to spend 9 hours in 100 degree heat. Just getting in some heat training and time on feet in the happiest place on earth, which by the end of the day had me feeling pretty wrecked.

After a day of recovery, it was on to strength training with Coach Nicole on Monday. It was a quick, action-packed 30 minutes, and it was so much fun. I haven’t been able to really open it up on a run in a long time, either because I was focused on not aggravating injuries, or now, trying to be smart and build into intense effort. But I miss the single-minded focus that comes with taking a really big step into the pain cave, and a group strength workout offers a small taste of that experience. I think I smiled through the whole class, and I can’t wait to go again next week.

Next up: a run on my own today, and a group run tomorrow!

Team NutriBullet Long Run #1

The first long run of the LA Marathon training cycle is in the bag.

And I’m sore.

Which is a little disheartening, given that the run was only 40 minutes. A quick out-and-back through the VA, or what is lovingly referred to as “the wall” of the LA Marathon. Honestly, when I ran LA in 2012, I don’t remember the VA being all that bad, but the long march down San Vicente felt like it was 26.2 miles in itself.

I realize though, that I’m only disheartened by my soreness because I’m trying to compare myself to the me I was 3 years ago, when I could knock out a double-digit run on a weekend easily, and follow it with several single-digit runs during the week without any issues.

Before the run started on Saturday, our head coach Jimmy had a great message for the assembled runners about how we didn’t need to compare ourselves to our past self, or to our future self, we just needed to try and do a little better than our self that we are today. That the commitment is what is important, not how we feel at any given moment.

I carried that with me out on the run, and had a great 40 minutes running with Lisa, who I know from the Coyotes. We ran, walked, and chatted, and came back hot and sweaty to enjoy our first blast every from the new NutriBullet food truck. I also had time to chat with some of my other teammates, and can’t wait to get to know more of them.

And while it’s harder to remember not to compare myself with past me when I’m not surrounded by incredible coaches, trainers, mentors, and teammates, it is definitely something I’m going to be working on over the next 5 months. I’m super excited to have such a wonderful group of people – from the CEO of NutriBullet all the way down through each individual teammate – working towards the same goal.

Today is about the commitment. A blast this morning, followed by hydrating, stretching, and good nutrition. One day at a time towards February 14.

All 10 Targets

Photo of a woman wearing running clothes, a mylar blanket, and an LA Marathon medal
LA Marathon 2012…3 years later, I’m coming for you again!

During the summer, my husband and I often end up watching one really ridiculous reality show. And when I say watching, I mean marathoning. All of the shows that I schedule in my tv watching app (yes, I have a tv watching app) are on hiatus for the season, I have a lot of free time, and I often want to watch an episode or two of something while I do the dishes or knit.

This summer, we happened upon History’s Top Shot. Despite the name, it has nothing really to do with history, and is a show where marksmen (and the token women invited by the show…grr) compete to see who can shoot the weirdest weapons and challenges the show throws at them. It’s refreshingly low in reality show drama, and high in a skillset I haven’t practiced, which means it’s perfect.

During one particular challenge, competitors were required to throw increasing numbers of clay discs into the air, and hit as many as they could on the way down. Leo noticed that when the competitors went to throw 10 at a time in the air, if they started shooting with the goal of hitting all 10 targets, they often missed one, and then panicked and started shooting wildly since their goal was blown. However, a competitor who started off just trying to do their best would not be as thrown by a miss, and would often hit 6 or 7 of the targets.

Which led to my newest habit paradigm. I’m incredibly guilty of always trying to hit all 10 targets. The moment I miss – by eating poorly, skipping a workout, going to bed too late – I panic and the rest of the week (or training plan) goes downhill from there. I tend to project far into the future and imagine the consequences of my (tiny, insignificant) action, instead of recognizing that one slip or one miss won’t determine the entire course of the future (despite the plotline of every dystopic novel telling me it will – maybe I read too much?)

In the weeks leading up to the first Nutribullet practice, I’ve worked hard to not aim for all 10 targets. I’ve tried to run consistently, and when life or poor nutrition choices have made running too difficult or seemed like it might lead to injury, I’ve gone on a walk instead, or taken my runs very very slowly. I’ve aimed for practicing good nutrition, but not freaked out over the days I forgot to bring lunch to work. And most of all, I’ve resisted the temptation to try and immediately be back to my 20-30 mile/week days of 2 years ago (which would lead to injury) and instead decided to enjoy the challenge of training up slowly, consistently and responsibly from my current base.

Practices start tomorrow…I can’t wait!