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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Long runs, short trips

In case I haven't mentioned, Ben and I signed up to run the Medtronic TC 10-Mile in October. The 10-Mile is part of TC Marathon weekend and is easily one of the most popular races in the state. It's really tough to get an entry, but luckily there are a couple of 'qualifying' races over the summer which buy you an automatic entry. Not that you have to get a certain qualifying time, you just have to run the race and you receive a link to register for the 10 Mile. One such race was the brand new TC Urban Dash, a 5-ish mile urban scavenger hunt in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. Ben and I ran The Urban Dash two weeks ago and it was a ton of fun! I would probably run it again even if it didn't result in a 10-mile entry.

Anywho, training for the 10-mile has been...interesting. As you are probably aware, I definitely do not consider myself a "runner." I'm a yogi who sometimes runs, but running has never been my main bag. I know cardio is good for me and I generally feel better when I'm running regularly but I know I won't do it without motivation, hence why I sign up for races. For training, I've been doing two shorter runs (3-6 miles) during the week and a longer run (6-9 miles) on the weekends. My training plan also instructs me to do 'cross-training' three times a week, and I'm sure Hal Higdon understands that for me, cross-training = yoga. Sorry, no intervals or tempo runs here...I am doing this for fun, not for speed ;)

This morning I did a six mile run around Lake Calhoun before work. Normally I hate exercising in the morning but it's been super hot and humid here, so I wanted to get my run in as early as possible to beat the heat. I have a 3-miler scheduled on Thursday and an eight mile run on Saturday. It is supposed to be balls-hot on Saturday...eesh.

In other news, we spent this last weekend in Montana celebrating the nuptuals of our dear friends Krista and Paul! Krista is one of Ben's best friends from childhood through high school and she was a Groomswoman in our wedding so now it was Ben's turn to be a Bridesman in hers!

Enjoying beer and s'mores with Paul and Krista in Glacier, Summer 2012

Some of the fantastic wedding decor
As always, it was great to be back in Montana and the wedding was lovely! It was held at Krista's parents ranch in Hall, Montana which is barely a town. Literally blink and you will miss it. We all stayed in nearby Phillipsburg, in a cottage with several other members of the wedding party (also HS friends of Ben's). Paul is from Manchester, UK and a number of his friends from Britain made the trip out. We had a fun time introducing them to the delights of Montana dive bars.

The ceremony was gorgeous, and we had perfect weather - that is until a massive storm blew through right after dinner. It was more a wind-storm than a rainstorm, and it completely came out of nowhere but we quickly realized that we needed to get all food and breakables inside ASAP. 

As I was rescuing some items from under the dinner tent, a HUUUGE gust of wind came through, and I turned around and quickly realized that the tent was coming un-grounded and was about to fly away over my head. It felt like it was happening in slow motion. I just kind of stood frozen to the ground with my drink in one hand and a teapot on the other, but at NO POINT did it occur to me to put either of those things down and run for it?!? I mean, it was homemade limoncello. Come on. There is no way I was abandoning homemade limoncello to a sad death by tent-pole.

Luckly, the pole and tent missed me (and probably 3 or 4 others who were also under the tent) and slammed into the fence behind us. We all yelled that we were fine, and then proceeded to run into the garage with our drinks and china in tow.

The rest of the night was a total blast. We danced, drank, and ate a lot of cupcakes. Or maybe that was just me...I seriously ate about 4 of them, but I couldn't help myself...the red velvet ones were amaaazing. Plus, gotta get all those calories back in my system somehow, after I burn them all off running ;)

Sadly, we had to fly out the next day because a) I burned most of my PTO on England/Scotland, and b) Ben had to be back for inservice on Monday so...womp womp. Our trip came to an end.
Old barn near our cottage in P-Burg
Krista's family decorated the entire ranch - it was amazing!
Literary table decor - now you know why we're all friends ;)
Ben looking dashing as a Bridesman
The lovely couple
Bride's side
Post-ceremony wagon ride!
The aftermath of the storm....

Hope you're all having a great week! Things are generally good here. It's been a rough week at work so I made a cake in an attempt to compensate. I will now proceed to eat my third slice.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun With Introversion


A friend on FB just posted this article from Huffington Post: "23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert." In my case I'm not sure it's really a secret...I can fool people occasionally though. I'm pretty close to the introvert/extrovert line but ultimately, definitely an introvert. Some of these I can really relate - some of them not so much, but here they are for your reference. If you're also an introvert, I'd be curious to know which of these apply to you and which don't - all of us are introverted in different ways ;)

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome
Yep. I like chatting with and getting to know people - in the break room at work for example. But if it becomes obvious the conversation isn't going to become anything substantial I'm just like "welp see ya." There's one person in particular who I always have really interesting conversations with - we've never worked even worked together, but we'll go on forever about our philosophy on food, her time living in New Mexico, family drama, all sorts of things and I love talking to her. But if it's someone who's like "sure is hot out today!"

2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people
Absolutely true. I LOVE hanging out with my friends, especially in small groups. Even going out is fun if I'm with people I trust and feel comfortable with, but spending a lot of time with people I don't know is very draining.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd
Yes, but not in a bad way. I feel like an observer, but I like observing so it's all good.

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony
"Networking (read: small-talk with the end goal of advancing your career) can feel particularly disingenuous for introverts, who crave authenticity in their interactions."
YES. Yes yes yes. My MBA orientation was almost entirely networking, and it just exhausted the hell out of me. Those were honestly the most stressful two weeks of my life. I would not do it over again if you paid me.

5. You've been called "too intense."
This really depends. In most situations (i.e. at work) I hide my intensity pretty well but there is a LOT going on under the surface, even when I seem laid back. People who know me well know that I am definitely intense.

6. You're easily distracted.
Ha. Yes. Just ask my husband. There are times when I'll just get up and leave in the middle of a conversation because something occurred to me and I need to take care of it right that second, or I'll derail an entire conversation. 

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you
Totally true. Downtime is essential.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards
Absolutely true

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle
Hahaha completely yes. I never even thought of this as an introverted characteristic, but yeah...I automatically go to an end or a corner.

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long
This is especially true if I'm at a party with a lot of people I don't know, or out at a bar or someplace crowded. All of a sudden it's like a switch flips and I just kind of zone out. Not because I want to, but because my energy is zapped and once that happens there's really no coming back from it. I just have to go home.

11. You're in a relationship with an extrovert
Big miss on this one. Not even close - Ben is probably more introverted than I am, although outwardly he seems more gregarious. I dated an extrovert once and it was actually really difficult for our relationship because he didn't understand why I sometimes would rather stay in than go out all the time, and I think he thought I was anti-social or mopey or there was something wrong with me. Which may actually have been because he was an asshole and not because he was an extrovert, now that I think about it.

12. You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything
Yep. When I do something, I do it 100% which is why I don't have a lot of 'hobbies.' My passions almost become like part time jobs. I guess I just don't see the point of doing something at all if I'm just going to half-ass it.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation
Not sure this one really applies.

14. You screen all your calls -- even from friends
Not if I'm expecting a call from them.

15. You notice details that others don't

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue
Definitely. Think first, talk later.

17. You have low blood pressure

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s
Not really...I've actually been told I seem young at heart?

19. You don't feel "high" from your surroundings
I do at concerts. Otherwise no.

20. You look at the big picture

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”
Annoyingly, yes. At a grad school party, one of my classmates (after several drinks) started telling me to "just relax and be myself!" I was like...this is myself. Sorry. Obviously this person wasn't a close friend. Oddly though a lot of my closest friends from that time are extroverts.

I also had a college professor tell me that "when you talk, you always have such good things to say! you should talk more" to which I mentally responded...well I only talk when I feel like I have something valuable to say. I'd rather not talk much but have meaningful contributions, than talk all the time just for the sake of talking but without really saying anything at all.

22. You’re a writer
Case in point

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity
For sure

Well this has been lovely. Once again it's almost past my bedtime! Night :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Asana and Morality: Some random thoughts

While I am a big fan of the more spiritual elements of yoga there's no denying that they can really muddy the waters of what yoga is and is not. Ostensibly, we practice yoga in order to become more aligned both physically and mentally so that we can be better citizens of the world. Practicing the asanas bring out body into alignment, while the yamas (ethical conduct) and the niyamas (morality) instruct us on basically, how to be better people. Because yoga has such a strong moral and self-exploratory element, there can sometimes develop a tendency to equate advanced asana with advanced morality.

Being able to do scorpion pose does not mean that person is "better" at yoga than someone who can't perform that pose. Putting your leg behind your head does not make you more enlightened. Sometimes, people doing asana aren't really even doing yoga - they're doing gymnastics. I don't mean that to sound overly critical but it's true. As with really anything in life, yoga is about the journey, not about the destination. Take me as an example - I have really tight hamstrings, and I've come to terms with the fact that it will probably be a really, really long time (if ever) before I can hang out in full hanumanasana. This used to really frustrate me, but now I've made peace with it because I realize it's not about the final form - it's about all of the actions you take to get there. I just have to keep doing the actions, and the form might come or it might not but in the end, it really doesn't matter.

I digress.

So tonight I was in a class that had a fairly wide range of skill levels, at a studio where honestly ego can sometimes be a bit of a problem. Like, people always wanting to show how 'good' they are at yoga and how many advanced poses they can do. You just have to kind of tune it out and do your thing. Anyway, this time an odd thing happened where when we came to a more advanced posture, the instructor would immediately counter the cue for the posture with "only do this if it is what your body is calling you to do, don't let yourself be driven by your ego." I'm sure this wasn't intended, but the undertone I read from that was: But suddenly it's like "well, I'm going to cue this pose but then imply that actually doing it is show-offy and unyogic so, you know, it's up to you."

I was like...OK... I get what she was trying to say and her heart was in the right place. Yoga is about your intention, absolutely, but the way this was worded was more confusing than helpful. Instead of feeling pressured to do the poses, I now felt pressured NOT to do them, like if I moved into bird of paradise it was obviously because I was some ego-driven maniac. The thing is, bound revolved half-moon, revolved bird of paradise and bird of paradise are really difficult poses for me. My body NEVER 'calls me' to do bird of paradise. But I like to work on those poses whenever they come up, so I can (as the wise and lovely Christina Sell would say) "put a deposit in the bank" and work towards improving my pose.

Again, I totally understand what she was getting at but if you imply that doing an advanced pos is ego-driven you're still ascribing morality to asana, you just did a 180. Now you're just judging people for doing advanced poses instead of not doing them. Those silly egomaniacs and their scorpion poses.

I'm not trying to get on my soapbox I just think it's an interesting conversation. Because morality and yoga are so intertwinted, how do we...unintertwine? disentwine?... the poses from morality without going too far the other way? The practice of asana is about intention and alignment, not form. It's simple to say that, but it's a sticky wicket to teach it without accidentally placing moral judgement somewhere else that it doesn't belong.  These are the things I think about late on Sunday night when I should already be asleep. Nerdy yoga things.

Sweet dreams folks. Back in a couple days with more London adventures!

Friday, August 16, 2013


Remember how a few months ago, I became slightly obsessed with the bizarre but true existence of the Raisin Administrative Committee? Well, apparently The Daily Show has something to say about this nonsense as well. Watch, laugh and be horrified:

In other news, tequila-addled choir members are the best choir members.


Add caption

The end! It's late and I have to do a long run tomorrow morning.
Sweet dreams.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

UK Trip Part 2: Harry Potter, Yoga and ...bugers

Uggghhh...obviously I did not intend to go this long before my next trip post, but things just got out of hand. It has been a crazy couple of weeks since we returned to the US, in a lot of ways. As I should have expected, work pretty much blew up on me and a couple of decisions that were made in my absence have had disastrous consequences. DISASTROUS. Not like, world ending disastrous...just...very time consuming for myself and others. Yesterday at 9am I was literally quintuple booked with meetings.

Now I know why Hermione needed that time turner.


If you guessed the WB Harry Potter movie studio tour YOU ARE CORRECT SIR.

As you may or may not be aware, I really, really love Harry Potter. Like, have read all of the books multiple times and analyzed them at length with friends, re-watch the films regularly, own a wand and have a mini-Hagrid on my desk at work. Two years ago, Ben and I took a road trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and as soon as I heard about the studio tour opening near London I immediately added it to my bucket list.

We woke up bright and early, had breakfast at the hotel, and caught a train to Watford. From there we hopped on a bus to the studio for our 10am tour. Obviously, I was excited.

The face only HP can inspire
One of the first things I saw, outside before the tour even started, was a display of the giant chess pieces used in the first film! They are actually huge and look SUPER COOL even out of context.

The first stop on the actual tour was the Hogwarts entrance and the great hall! I took SO many pictures on the tour, so I tried to include only my favorite shots. I'll stop yammering now and let the photos speak for themselves but if you're an HP fan I'm sure you'll appreciate a lot of these :)

Fake McGonagall and Dumbledore

The Fat Lady! (Early version)

McGonagall's portrait in Gryffindor Common of those things
I never noticed in the films but now that I know it's there,
I'll be looking for it ;)


Umbridge's office at the Ministry of Magic...this might have actually been my favorite set

THE BRIDGE!! This was the set piece I was probably most excited for.
So many meaningful conversations happened on that bridge...le sigh


Diagon Alley, obviously


THIS was maybe the coolest thing I have ever seen. This model of Hogwarts was used for pretty much all exterior shots of the castle. And it is HUUUUGE. 50 feet across!!!

Hogwarts at night

The tour was so cool. Where the theme park in Orlando aims to make you feel like you've turned the corner and stepped into the magical world of Harry Potter (at least, as much as you can in 90-degree weather surrounded by other tourists), the studio tour is really about the magic of filmmaking. There is intention behind every set piece, every prop and every detail which is partly why the world comes alive on film. Nothing is by accident, and nothing is filler or random. Even the book covers and papers are actually written out (and very clever if you read the fine print). The OWL exams even had actual questions! I just loved seeing how much love went into making the HP movies, and the next time I watch them it will be with different eyes.

After the tour, we bussed/trained it back to London (a few dollars poorer, but having gained a scarf, two keychains and a small poster advertising the Quidditch World Cup). Back at the hotel we changed, relaxed for a bit and then hopped on the underground to catch an evening yoga class.

I surveyed the Asana Junkies FB group for studio suggestions in London and couple of people mentioned TriYoga. I signed up for a 6pm class with Aki Omori, and as soon as she pulled a life-size plastic skeleton out of the corner and started talking about the SI joint I knew I had come to the right place!


After class we walked to Soho and wandered around looking for a good place to eat. It was one of those nights where I was so hungry that I didn't really have any specific cravings, but I was pretty sure that I'd know what I wanted when I saw it. Apparently what I wanted was greasy fried things and a milkshake. And some Elvis lovin'.


Suddenly feeling the need to watch Lilo and Stitch again
The Breakfast Club was a great find - one of our favorite dinners from the trip! Partly because we found it on our own just by wandering, and partly because the food/shakes were delightful. I had a veggie burger with fries, and Ben had a fish sandwich. After stuffing our faces, we went book browsing!

All the books!
And then, we took a small detour. If you recognize this building and if you understand why I am standing in front of it making a sad face, you are now my best friend. If you do NOT recognize this building, you need to watch the entire series of SHERLOCK immediately.
Just do it.
Do it for the children.

Womp womp
Well that's all I have the energy to write at the moment. Back with more soon! I get to work from home tomorrow, so that's exciting. 
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