Saturday, July 29, 2017

Running with Lady-Friends

One of the many things I love about running is that it's usually a great source of alone time.  As an introvert, I prize alone time.  As much as I love working at a place where I get to meet an interact with so many families, kids, and amazing teachers, too much time around people really drains my batteries.  Running solo - especially with no headphones! - is a great way for me to hit the re-set button.

However, there is seriously something to be said for running with other people.  Cribbed from my all time favorite running (and life) podcast, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives which you should listen to immediately from start to finish, whenever Marc and I run together we make a date of it - it's a Romance Run!  It's a great opportunity for us to catch up with each other, especially since our schedules are usually opposite and we don't get a ton of time together during the week.  Also, his long legs almost always push my pace, which is great for me in my new quest to work on my speed! More on that next week...

Today's entry, though, is really about honoring my running lady-friends.  (Sorry, Marcus!)

Laura, Luisa, me, & Lisa.
I didn't get the "L" name memo...
There are four exceptional ladies who are also integral sources of inspiration in my running life.  We don't usually run together as much as I'd like, although Laura and I went through most of our respective 9:1 journey running together and had an amazing run this morning, but knowing they are out there crushing it always gives me more motivation and more heart.

Soup Sisters!
My best friend Lisa is probably the person who's most responsible for my turn toward living a healthier life that I took after college - although I'm not sure if she knows it.  After graduation, I really wasn't sure what to do with my life, but I knew I could do four things - 1. Start running (because I secretly always wanted to even though I always used asthma to get out of it) 2. Do more yoga (I was just starting to really fall in love with it) 3. Join a gym and 4. Eat vegetables sometimes  (And maybe stop eating chicken nuggets multiple times a week)  Without even meaning to, Lisa showed me a stellar example of how to take care of yourself and value health and the one body that you get in this life.  We almost never get to run together, and our busy lives never intersect as much as we want, but running the women's only mini-10K together was an amazing experience that I will always treasure.  It was the longest race she had ever done, which blows my mind because her seemingly effortless commitment to healthy living has always made her an inspiration to me.

Laura has taught me the art of
race pictures.  Bk Half, 2016
My running wife (I think it's official now) and work wife and partner in multiple crimes Laura did track & field in high school, but didn't run much (or at all, I think!) when we first became friends ten (!!!) years ago.  When I started getting into the half marathon & marathon distance, she joined the chorus of many people who were amazed and claimed they could never do it.  Fast forward, and she has run probably more half marathons than I have at this point, and is training for the Goofy Challenge - the Disney half marathon and then the very next day, the Disney Marathon!  The girl has become a running machine and was one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders during my injury and my subsequent return to running.  We've run the Brooklyn Half twice together and I am so beyond happy she has discovered her passion for running.

You can check out her chronicles on the Road to the Goofy Challenge on her awesome YouTube channel, Laura Runs and Eats.  Subscribe!  She's hilarious and awesome.

Lu crushing this year's Brooklyn Half.
My lovely friend Luisa was a runner and overall ridiculously healthy person when I met her three years ago.  Vegetarian, meditator, non-smoker, runner - all the boxes were checked.  Unfortunately, cancer didn't seem to give a damn about any of that when she was diagnosed last July.

Inspirational isn't a strong enough word, and I can't do justice in describing what she went through with her diagnosis, her treatment, and her long, hard road to remission and recovery.  Today, she is cancer free (YAHOO!) and getting stronger and stronger.  She was a runner before cancer changed her life, and now she is running to help others afflicted by it.  Lu is running the 2017 NYC Marathon (!!!!!) with Fred's Team, raising money to support leukemia research at Sloan-Kettering which provided her with truly life-saving care.  Please please please click here to donate to her fundraising effort!  She already crushed her original goal of $3,500 and is now stepping it up to $5,000.  I'm pretty sure she'll be able to step it up one more time before November...just sayin' . Let's get here there!  And while you're at it, read her blog.  She's an incredible writer, and you need to read what she has to say.

At the marathon. Best sister ever.
Finally, I would be totally remiss not to mention my sister and very first running partner, Megan.  She started running very shortly after I did, and always having been the natural athlete between the two of us, really took off.  We ran our first race distances together - first 5K in Williamsburg, VA (I thought I was going to die), first 10K in Charleston, SC (also thought I was going to die), and our very first half marathon in Myrtle Beach, SC (funnily enough, that one felt fantastic!).  We planned to run our first marathon together at Disney, but fetal Atlas & Zoe got in the way of her plans.  She has always been there for me, commiserating over our struggles to eat healthy vs. eat everything because running gives you a great excuse to do that, sharing tips when we were running together, and providing tons of support when I've been running and she hasn't been able to - which has been the dynamic for the past three and a half years.  We haven't run together since a 2014 Turkey Trot - which we took easy, since she had just found out she was pregnant (with, we assumed, one baby...ah, the innocent old days).

Luckily for her, she found a phenomenal surgeon who has helped her get through the considerable challenges that having two back-to-back pregnancies had left her with.  I wrote last week about how she's been recovering beautifully, and her recovery gets more impressive every week.  She finally has a functional core again, and the more time that goes by the closer she'll be to fully recovered.  There's a laundry list of reasons why this surgery has been amazing for her, but I have to say I'm so excited about my most selfish reason - we can finally run together again.  We always have good conversations when we run, and considering our last running conversation was all about anticipation of her first baby...we have a lot to talk about on our next one!

April of 2008, after our very first 10K...who are these people???

Friday, July 21, 2017

Home is Where the Heart is

One of the most cloyingly saccharine cliches of all time?  Yes.  True?  Also yes.  Sort of.

It's been an incredibly eventful three weeks.  At the end of June, my sister underwent major abdominal surgery to repair a major diastasis caused by two back-to-back large pregnancies.  On that same day Marc and I headed up on the Megabus to Massachusetts for a fun long July 4th weekend of family (including our two delicious little LeVasseur nephews!), wine, fun, and going through endless boxes of nostalgia from his childhood as his parents prepare to put their gorgeous house on the market.  The baby pictures!  The metric tons of books! The middle school poetry!  Oh, the earnest and terrible middle school poetry...

Then last weekend, I flew to SC for a whirlwind celebration of the twins' third birthday with family (third!!!), helping out my sister, who is recovering beautifully in every sense of the word.  Just shy of three days of nonstop work, play, and extreme highs and lows of overstimulated and excited toddlers.  Coming back, I snapped immediately back into doula-mode and helped a fantastic couple as they brought their tiny new daughter into the world.

Also, I've powered through three Harry Potter books in the last 3 1/2 weeks.  That has had no less of an emotional/nostalgic effect on me...Plus all kinds of other things I won't get into that various friends/family are going through - health challenges, emotional upheavals, big changes.

So, there's been a lot going on, and there's been a lot to say about what's going on, but I haven't been able to distill any of it into a blog-worthy 'lesson' or phrase or clean, clear tie to yoga.

The one thing that does come to mind as I struggle to articulate the aftermath of all of this dusting up of old memories is actually something that happened in a kids' yoga class I taught last week (which feels like ten years ago now!).  We were sharing a big fuzzy ball with our feet (cause hands are just too easy!) and taking turns sharing our name / age / and something else about ourselves.  That last is usually "favorite color" or "favorite flavor ice cream," but if a kid has another idea, I'm always up for it.  (One kid wanted everyone to share what our favorite pairs of pants were) . This particular little girl said we should share, "the favorite house in our family."

I was sort of surprised with the force with which that hit me.  I thought about the LeVasseur home in Mass., and how it's been Marc's home since he was 7 years old and where we celebrated his brother's wedding and ours.

I thought about how my family moved around more in my childhood, and I loved my home in Virginia that I spent my middle & high school years in - but my mom had to sell it to care for my Granddaddy my freshman year of college, so I had to say goodbye to it long ago.  Which of course makes me think of my grandmother's house, which up until 5 years ago was my biggest definition of home or a home base.

There's also my sister's home, which I think she moved into maybe five and a half or six years ago now - maybe longer?  That's definitely my new home base, along with the LeVasseur house, my brother-in-law's house in Jersey, and though we can't afford to go there often, the Costa Rica house!  My mom is going to be moving, after many years, into a place of her own, and I could not possibly be more excited about gaining a new home base and more importantly, for her gaining a new home base.

And our own apartment, of course - I love this place more than any other place that's been "mine," but no apartment lasts forever in this city, unfortunately - especially as everyone keeps figuring out how awesome Astoria is and making it more expensive.  I'd love it to be our place for years to come, but there's just no certainty.

When it was my turn to share and answer my young student's question, I said my favorite house in my family was my sister's, because it was where my niece and two of my nephews live.  There was a bittersweetness - the bitter of having not just one solid nostalgic childhood home of my own, of thinking of those homes that are no longer in my life, but also the sweetness in having so many scattered beautiful pockets of homes in our family to choose from.

So back to the saccharine title of this blog.  If home is where the heart is, what is the heart?  Is it where we are, wherever we are?  The people we love?  Our blood family, our chosen family?  I think it's all of it.  My mom always tells me, particularly in the years after she moved when I was in college and I was struggling to handle the change in a home base, that my home is wherever she is.  It is that, and it's where my sister, my in-laws, Atlas, Zoe, Caleb, Kai, and Lucas are.  My home is always wherever Marc is.

Now more than ever, I'm bitterly and sweetly aware that the only constant in life is change.  Babies turn into kids who turn into grown-ups.  People move.  Homes are sold, apartments lost.  Relationships change. Home where we feel a pull to return and where we feel a drive to start anew, and wherever there are those who love us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Yoga Love for the Neck, Shoulders, & Upper Back, by Karma Kids Yoga!

My upper back & shoulders have been bugging me all week - I strongly suspect it's due to reading 200 pages of the fifth Harry Potter book at the beach on Sunday.  (And yes, I deserve the world's tiniest violin for that.  Biggest first world problem in human history)  I've been doing a little self-massage with doTERRA's Deep Blue Rub (which is basically like magic in a tube), but have needed a little bit more to loosen things up.

By total coincidence, my wonderful boss, Shari Vilchez-Blatt (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga) was inspired this week to share some of her favorite neck, shoulder, and upper back releases after talking with some lovely women at her daughter's school.  Like so many people, they work at desks and computers all day and suffer from the eternal hunched-over-a-keyboard posture.  New moms suffer from this too, from holding and feeding their babies all the time.

So many of us could benefit from taking some time out to give our shoulders some love - and this video is only 8 minutes!!  Check it out, share, and subscribe to our amazing YouTube page!  We've got videos for kids and grown-ups.  Learn more about Karma Kids Yoga by visiting our website.

With two flights in two days coming up this weekend as I take a whirlwind trip down south for Atlas & Zoe's birthday party, I know I'll be doing this video again very soon!

Namaste, y'all!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Music Share: Paul Simon & Other Cool Cats

Doing a little bit of a cheat this week as the clock runs down on this blogging week - I have a lot more to say about last weekend (and will have tons to say about next weekend when my firstborn niece & nephew turn THREE!!) but for now, I'm just going to get this one up.

In honor of my in-laws and the incredible memories I have around their fire pit and in the living room  with endless glasses of wine, jamming to Simon & Garfunkel (among many others), are my Paul Simon (and friends) playlists.  The first one is 64 minutes, a good-ish yoga class length, and curated to start slow, build, and end slow.  The second is an hour and 42 and in no particular order.

Paul Simon always makes me think of happy sunny summer days and my amazing in-laws.  Enjoy!

Resurrection of a blog (and a hip)

One year ago today - on a much cloudier, much colder, and quite frankly very hungover morning - I went out to run.  My goal was either 4 mil...