Archive for the ‘Articles & News Stories’ Category

In my Nike Women’s [Half] Marathon recap I referenced my inner white robot. As I typed it, I realized I had never actually discussed the inner white robot before and therefore was making no sense to most [read: all] of you.

Back in May, when running a half-marathon was only a figment of my dreams, I stumbled upon an article on Women’s Health called:

Determination: How to Get What You Want.

Determination? I have determination. Or do I? I must read this and find out. 

And without getting all weird and deep on you, it kinda changed my outlook on life… well, maybe not life, but definitely running. So I think you should read it too…


you finished…?

If you didn’t read it, basically what it talks about is having grit.

… in 2002, Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues interviewed high achievers in various fields and found that they all shared one personal quality: grit. Defined as “sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” grit seemed to explain why more top CEOs hail from state schools than from the Ivy League, and why some people gut out that last series of situps in boot camp while others flop on the floor when the burn really kicks in. According to Duckworth, “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges and maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity, and plateaus.” While some people cut their losses when faced with boredom or disappointment, those with grit stay the course.

The article uses 29-year-old Micha Burden as an example. An average swimmer who went out and trained for a grueling ocean marathon called Open Water Swimming. She wanted to not only compete, but win. It states:

“I showed up for my workouts and got my butt kicked every day,” she says. But she didn’t give up, despite the fact that even Kenneth Baum, the sports performance consultant she had hired, pointed out how difficult it would be for her to reach her ambitious goal. “Her times were so slow; she was far off the national mark,” admits Baum, author of The Mental Edge, who nonetheless stuck by his client. “At one point I was thinking, You’re kidding—this isn’t going to happen. And then she blew everybody’s mind.”

And everyone out of the water. In October 2007, Burden managed to beat 24 superior athletes to win the U. S. Open Water World Championship Trials in Fort Myers, Florida. How’d she pull it off? Baum chalks it up to grit.

I remember reading that and thinking, Hell, I don’t even want to win the damn half-marathon. I just want to finish.

So pre-marathon sign-up I decided, whatever it is I decided to do next, I was doing it with grit. 

The article goes on to explain that while some people naturally have grit, others can learn and develop it. Phew. I was in the latter category. I knew I could do it — but without some tricks it’d be hard.

Baum, the author noted above, suggests in the article “latching on to mind games to help you push through the discomfort.” The article quotes:

Baum personally uses imagery to get through difficult races. “I say to myself, My legs are like pistons, my lungs like bellows,” he explains. “It lets me focus on the mechanics and not on the pain.”

After reading this article, I was at the beach attempting about 3-4 miles; it was one of my first times out after signing on the dotted line and I felt a stitch abruptly tear through my abdomen.

I thought to myself “I am not human; this is not pain. I am… I am…” and completely forgetting the reference he had made — probably becuase I don’t even know what pistons look like — the white robot from the movie, I, Robot, popped into mind.

I trucked on realizing about a half a mile later that while my stitch was still there, I hadn’t been paying attention. As far as I was concerned I was a machine that was not held down by human traits such as stomach cramps. Grrrrrrr.

Pretty intense right?

Whatever. It works.

There were a couple times out there on the Nike course that I channeled my inner white robot — one being up the big hill and then sporadically throughout the last two miles. Oh and at the end when I sprinted to the finish line.

Here I am channeling my inner white robot to make it to the finish line as fast as bloody possible.

Can’t you see the white robot there? See? Vrooom!

One other thing worth noting in the article is that grit requires more than just mental determination. It requires passion. You have to love what you are doing to want to get out and do it.

I did/do love running. But not all the time. There were days that I ran because I had to and days that I ran because I wanted to.

Now that the race is in the past *tear* a lot of people have asked me, “Are you going to keep it up?” I remind myself before flashing a look of offense that before May I was a very sporadic runner. It’s a very very fair question.

The answer is also very very easy. OF COURSE.

I genuinely really enjoy it. I love the sweat. I love the runner’s high. I love the sore legs. I love the anticipation before a run. I love knowing that I have that outlet.

I’ll keep it up. I may not run on those days that I “don’t feel like running.” I will likely replace some of those days with yoga/pilates classes. But running’s here to stay.

However, with that said, I did tell myself I would take a break after the run. The tightness and pain I was feeling after the run was too much to consider running in the next few days.

But that was before I went for a massage (THANKS TO MY LADIES FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL AND PERFECT GIFT!) at my favorite spa and all the pain washed away. Seriously, that woman had the hands of a hot fireman who had just given me a blue box (there go those visualizations again). She was WONDERFUL!

Today I felt the anticipation. My legs were itching to get out there… so I planned on coming home and doing just that.

Yeeeeeah, well, that didnt happen. I got sidetracked and distracted.

Instead of being outdoors pounding pavement I’m sitting in my kitchen with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of champers (THANK YOU LIBBY!!!) celebrating not running. I held off on cheese the entire week before the run (it tends to upset my stomach) so I needed to indulge a bit.

This is basically my idea of heaven. Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry market in SF.

Oh, I am also casually looking at the photo of me running that is now my iPhone backdrop. (Oh boy!)

I clearly have no problem celebrating myself with myself; who else loves me this much. lol.

As to getting back in my running shoes, I am running a 10K with my cousin this weekend, the NYC Urbanathlon next weekend…

and currently Googling 2012 halfs… Nashville? Napa? New Orleans?

What do you think? Any recommendations for the perfect location for a SECOND half marathon?


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Last week my girlfriend sent me an article by Rene Syler, journalist and editor of goodenoughmother.com, posted on the The Huffington Post. Syler had received a Happy Birthday Tweet asking her what she ‘would have told her 28-year-old self knowing what she knows now.’ See her response here: Happy Birthday to Me!

Partying hard for my 24th birthday at the Lizard Lounge in Nottingham, England

This year I turn 29, about the age of Syler’s young-recipient. Reading her letter points out to me how little I know and how much I have still to grow. At the same time, it reminds me how much I have learned. My life has not only evolved since I turned 18, but it has taken a number of unexpected hairpin turns. I decided to copy follow her lead and reflect on what I would have told myself.

Accounting is boring: Stop listening to your high school professors talk about how much money accountants make. He’s gonna win the lotto in a few years and, rumor has it, he quits his job. Find a career you’d still want to be a part of if you ever win the lotto. You’ll learn quickly that money isn’t your motivator.

Believe in your strength: Over the next few years you will be face with adversity that will at time feel crippling. You’ll feel weak, tired and ready to give up some days. This does not mean you are not strong; rather it means you are human. In ten years, you will have not only made it through, but you will have learned countless life-defining lessons — that is your strength. If you were weak, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Learn to listen: You invite and keep so many amazing people in your life. They all play a role, and a very important one at that. Cherish them, respect them, support them and listen to them. Everyone has something to teach you, and if you don’t stop and listen, you’re relationships will never grow.

Cut yourself some slack: You live a great life — wonderful family and friends; you find a career path you love and you live everyday to the fullest. When things aren’t 100% you focus on the positive and think, “Things aren’t so bad, it could be worse.” Allow yourself some self pity, occasionally — and react positively. Feeling down about an aspect of your life is the kind of motivation you need to further develop yourself in that area. Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

Trust your intuition: Hindsight is 20/20 (but you don’t know what that means yet, and you’ll look up the word ‘hindsight’ a few more times before it sticks; it’s just one of those words). Over the years you’ll start to recognize an innate ability to understand situations and people without analyzing them, and you’ll get mad at yourself for not trusting your instincts in earlier situations. Don’t get mad. Part of intuition is letting it lead you through the good and the bad. Let the anger go and learn to listen and trust yourself. Everything happens for a reason.

Stop planning: After you graduate college you are going to tell your boyfriend that you plan on making partner in an accounting firm in XX years. Less than 6 months later you are going to apply to grad school. Two years after that you break up with said boy. Stop trying to plan, NOW! Just enjoy the ride. There is no much more to see when you aren’t focused on the road. (So cliche, but ehhhh.)

Slow down: Your to-do list is always going to be longer than most spoiled brats’ letters to Santa; the rush of work, projects and social events is what keeps you pumped. You live your life at the same speed you snowboard — fast. But when you do slow down, you take so much more in and learn a lot about yourself. Make a point to slow down and relax. Try really hard; you’ll still be struggling with it in ten years.

There are so many more things I want to say to you, but I am going to end with this one, possibly because its the most important:

Tell people how you feel: I don’t say (write) this with a dreary it-may-be-your-last-chance tone, I say it with a tearful smile. Knowing you have people in your life who care about you will bring more fulfillment than any trip, activity or amount of money. Knowing you are admired and cared for will bring you confidence. Knowing you are loved will increase your sense of self-worth. And knowing what people don’t like about you will keep you humble and striving. Give those you care about the same gift — tell them how you feel. It’s not easy for you and it’s going to be a long while before it gets easy, but keep trying, you’re worth it — and so are those you keep close.

Happy Birthday to Me! Thanks Rene Syler for offering such an inspiring column. I hope everyone takes the time to talk to themselves and give themselves a hand.

Oh, and one more thing Liz, write down everything… you’re going to need some good book fodder one day!

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In the book Around the World in 80 Dates, the author, Jennifer Cox, takes off on an around the world trip in search of love. She plans the trip effectively, reaching out to the network of contacts she’s created through her roles as a travel journalist and the head of PR for Lonely Planet and asks them to set her up on dates, introduce her to people, etc.

taken by Carla Franco on Ireland's Dingle Peninsula

I read the book a long time ago, shortly after it came out in 2005, so the timeline and facts are fuzzy, but she says one thing in the story that has stuck with me ever since. When describing her decision to take the journey she says (and I don’t quote) that she puts time and effort into building her career and traveling for work, why not travel for love?

Good bloody question Ms. Cox.

Tonight I am leaving for Ireland. It’s a work trip and I will have only a couple of days free but there is something terribly romantic about Ireland. Of course the landscape and historical sites are beautiful, but what I find most moving is [the portrayal of] its people’s connection and dedication to their culture. They believe in and have passion for… being Irish. You can’t help but feel welcome and ‘home’ while you are there, even if you don’t have an ounce of Irish blood running through your body.

For the next week I will be doing a lot of schmoozing, mingling and small-talking. But for the first 30 hours, I will be driving across the country making periodic, unplanned stops — which in my opinion is the only way to road trip — basking in Ireland’s greenery and seaside towns. Cox may have traveled for romantic love, but for the first 30 hours I will be traveling for all kinds of love — my love for exploring a new culture, my love for landscapes and scenery, my love for taking photographs, my love for pub foods and my love for, well, me. Everyone needs a little “me-time,” and I can’t think of anywhere better to spend it.

And who knows who I’ll meet along the way…

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I’m slacking on the blogging front: A combination of a new job, freelance work, holiday festivities (a.k.a. shopping and eating), enjoying Mr SS’s temporary habitation and chasing little Dora around the apartment (A Dora-update will come shortly!) has kept me from rambling to the www-universe. (Lucky you!!!)

I am super excited for the Christmas season — and am done with my Christmas shopping too, YIPPEE!! The holidays are my favorite time of year and I make the most of them by fully indulging in the season. So in honor of the festivities I wanted to share an article that popped up in my inbox this am. My uncle is fantastic at keeping us updated on fun and interesting things that pop up on the web. Straight from AOLNews.com:

Christmas Caroling Tradition Pioneered by Drunks

Monica Garske

(Nov. 28) — Christmas caroling has long been a favorite tradition of church groups, elderly choirs and children, but did you know that the first groups of carolers were nothing but a bunch of rowdy drunks?

That’s the tune from David McKillop, senior vice president of programming for the History Channel, who recently talked to AOL News about the network’s upcoming holiday special, “The Real Story of Christmas,” premiering Nov. 29 at 9 p.m. ET.

The TV special examines the surprising historical origins of our most bizarre Christmas customs, including why some of us go door to door singing holiday songs to any strangers who will listen.

Christmas Carolers  

Christmas carolers: cheery singers or drunks? It seems the first carolers in history were a bit of both.

McKillop said the origin of caroling dates back to the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, when Christmas was regarded as a festival of pure joy and drunken revelry. Oh, and prayer was involved somewhere in there too.

According to McKillop, groups of poor medieval carolers would go around to houses singing and begging for food and drinks, threatening to throw rocks through the windows of anyone who refused to give them a handout.

They literally “went medieval” on people.

“They would get very, very rowdy. Eventually, the drunken revelry got too out of hand, and Christmas was banned for years in America in the 16th and 17th centuries,” explained McKillop.

Sheesh. Sounds like an episode of “Carolers Gone Wild.” If you don’t open your door to singing strangers this year, no one will blame you.

McKillop said those same ancient winter-solstice celebrations — which usually lasted 12 days — gave rise to the tradition of burning a yule log, often mentioned in classic Christmas songs.

“People would try to find the biggest log possible to burn in a fireplace, to keep the light and warmth going during the 12 days of the feast,” he said.

Another fun fact: Santa Claus wasn’t always so chummy and cheery. In fact, he was kind of a downer who ran with a bad crowd.

McKillop said the St. Nick of old European legend was said to be accompanied not by elves but by an impish little devil creature named “Krampus” who beat up and kidnapped naughty children.

“If kids were bad, Krampus would leave them bad gifts. I think that’s where the idea of giving people coal for Christmas first sprouted. That Krampus was mean,” said McKillop.

As for giving and receiving presents on Christmas, he said that particular custom’s origin varies around the world, depending on whom you ask.

“Some Catholics and Christians will trace it all the way back to the birth of Christ, when gifts were supposedly brought to the baby Jesus. Others link gift giving to the Romans’ winter celebrations, the only time of the year when the rich would give their slaves gifts of food and such.”

Christmas Tree  

Pictured is the White House Christmas tree in 2009. But where did the tradition of Christmas trees originate?

But what about other holiday traditions we practice, like putting a big, live, shedding tree in our living rooms each season and hanging stockings on the chimney with care?

McKillop said more modern practices like these can all be linked to a single “tipping point” in history that changed the course of Christmas forever.

The year was 1823. The game changer was New York author Clement Clarke Moore, the man who wrote the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” otherwise known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

“In that single poem, Moore gave us our modern-day version of Santa Claus, stockings and reindeer — all of the Christmas traditions we still live by and follow today. He changed it all,” explained McKillop. “From 1823 forward was when Christmas as we know it began. All of the traditions from different cultures — Jewish, Christian, Scandinavian celebrations — all came together at that point.”

Although variations of the Christmas tree had been around since the 16th century, McKillop said, dragging an evergreen into our homes became a modern mainstay in 1848 after a magazine in London published a photograph of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria posing in front of a decked-out fir.

“The British went crazy for the photo and started putting up Christmas trees in their homes. Later, an American magazine copied and altered the image of the royal family to look like an American family and circulated the trend around the United States,” he explained.

Lastly, the history buff revealed that the origins of Santa’s right-hand reindeer, Rudolph, go back to 1939, to a Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago. That’s when an employee by the name of Robert L. May created the lovable red-nosed sidekick in an effort to promote a Christmas coloring book sold by Montgomery Ward.

“Clement Moore hinted at reindeer in ‘Night Before Christmas,’ and May’s idea of Rudolph took it even further. Christmas traditions have a way of building on each other over the centuries,” explained McKillop. “Christmas is one of the most complex holidays we celebrate in terms of its roots, because it transcends so many cultures. It goes back in time 2,000-plus years.”

Now, off you go to hang those stockings, decorate that Christmas tree, buy overpriced presents, sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to strangers and wait for Santa. And drink and be merry, of course.

Anyone for some eggnog… and a carol or two?


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Two days ago The New York Times opened a proverbial can of worms with its article, What Is It About 20-Somethings? Considering 20-something’s knack for voicing an opinion on anyt topic, this has gotten the attention is deserves. There is a summary of the article on Lemondrop.com: 10 Signs You’re a 20-Something, According to The New York Times.

As expected, Lemondrop.com sought out their star guest blogger and 20-something spokeperson, Jessie Rosen to share her thoughts. It was, in my opinion, an objective and well-put rebuttal. Here’s what the 20-nothings blogger had to say: Dear NY Times, Here’s Why I Haven’t ‘Grown Up.’ Love, a 20-Something

As soon as I read her rebuttal, 10,000 things went through my head. So I commented with the most prominent. I was surprised to receive in my inbox this morning, more than a dozen or so notifications for follow up comments. Not all of them are positive. Although I have the upmost respect for a good debate, I felt as if I was somewhat being attacked for being a mooch off my parents and blaming my fear for not growing up. Yes, this is what I stated — that I think fear is a big cause for 20-somethings delay “growing up.” I also stated that it all depends on our definition of growing up! But I don’t think my personality shined through enough. (Or there are just a lot of angry people out there!)

I took a significant amount of time responded to the comments. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to want to post. (I have tried a couple times and have not yet receive the conformation email.) Looking at the 19 or so pages of comments though, I guess they could be a bit backed up.

Rosen also posted a link to the comment on her own blog: 20-nothings. At the end you’ll see she asks for other 20-somethings to share their rebuttal. Here are my thoughts to her (which I emailed):

Hi Jessie,

First of all. You offered an excellent, objective and thorough response. Well done!

As I commented on your Lemondrop post, I think a lot of it has to do with fear. I say this as a 28-year-old, who within three years of graduating undergrad, had already returned to university to change careers, and subsequently took a $22,000 pay cut to start an entry-level job in a new industry at the age of 26. Talk about taking my sweet time getting to “adulthood.”

In the area I grew up in (a middle class suburb of Long Island, NY), kids in my generation, and those following, were held to very high standards. Among the group of girls I grew up with alone, we all played sports, took dance/gymnastics lessons, played an instrument and achieved top grades in school. We weren’t threatened to do well; we were raised by parents who wanted us to live up to our fullest potential. The more exposure they gave us towards different avenues of life, the more opportunities we would have later on. It wasn’t that if we failed our parents would disown us; it was that we never learned to accept failure within ourselves. My parents in particular were proud of my accomplishments — and they showed it. I received flowers at my recitals, ice cream after my concerts and little gifts for making honor roll. I forever appreciate their support. At the same time, they both have Masters degrees. College was never an option — I was going — and grad school was subtly expected, as was a prosperous career. The thought process that I inherited was one of “Great job; now what’s next?” And this is what has kept me motivated to continuously raise my personal bar of success as a “20-something adult.”

Trying to live up to a standard of perfection can instill a concept of fear. What if we fail? What will we do if we don’t get top grades? What’ll happen if we don’t get into a top college? Will we get a good enough job? What if I don’t find Mr Right? When will I get married then? Being afraid to fail at these expected milestones leaves us stalling. But being part of a generation that was expected to outperform not only our parents, but our peers, by the time we could walk, well, what do people expect? When a blunder awards you a scarlet letter, why rush? We need to make sure we do it all right before we do anything at all.

Another point this brings up is “chasing our dreams.” One of those high standards is following what your heart wants — even if it takes ten years to get there. Our parents generation (mine were baby boomers) didn’t have as many options, or at least they weren’t aware of them. They chased dreams to a certain point, at which they then changed their path in order to make ends meet and follow the ‘get married, buy a house and have a baby’ norm. Well, with that ‘norm’ thrown out the window, there is no reason to change our path. If we’re happy, stick it out! It’s all what you consider “adulthood,” in my opinion. If adulthood is just that — having a family and a house with a white picket fence and a minivan — than go and get it. But just because my norm includes getting published, adding my stamp to the world while experiencing all it has to offer, it doesn’t mean I am less grown up. I am just  as responsible as those of my friends with husbands and houses. I just chose to focus my ambitions and efforts in a different direction.

My question is, what is so wrong with that??

Elizabeth L Hatt

What are your thoughts? Does the 20-something generation need to grow up?
Or has the definition of grown up just changed?

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One of my favorite blogs to follow is 20-Nothings by Jessie Rosen. As she describes it in the dek, “The nonsense we occupy ourselves with on Gchat, in complete sentences.” Now, why didn’t I think that of that?

Anyways, I started following her a few months back when she popped up as a guest blogger on Lemondrop.com and been hooked ever since. Today I read Rosen’s most recent entry.

The Story of My Guest Appearance on the Suze Orman Shoe

No bloody way.

I read her previous Lemondrop blog about embarking on the cash-diet and thought to myself, “Cash? Wait, is that the paper stuff hiding behind the plastic cards in my wallet?” But she was clearly on to something.

I read everything that she did and decided — and maybe it’s just because I need to prove to myself that I can — to embark on my own cash diet. Now, the major difference between Rosen and myself is that she limited herself to a certain amount of cash in order to accumulate a savings. I will be limiting myself to, well, all my cash. For me the point is to lay off my CC’s.

This is all part of the ‘pay off my debt’ scheme that has been in progress, or let’s say, transforming, for the past year and a half. It started when I took a weekend job, but the 7-day-a-week thing took its toll on me — physically and mentally — so I bailed after I paid off the first round. Then I got comfy and racked it all back up again. Now I’m playing with ideas; for example, helping out at the drop zone on the weekend, but since they are willing to pay me with discounted skydives it really doesn’t help the cause. So I’m still looking for a spot-on method. When I find one that works as quick and seamless as I’d like, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I made a stop at the ATM on the way out through the train station today to set myself up for the week…

But just in case, I think I’ll leave my debit card home tomorrow.

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The majority of people who I mentioned my Bacon Peanut Butter Cupcakes were like, “Bacon?” To which I agreed, “I know  it sounds weird, but it works!” I figured it would as there are too many cupcake recipes that include bacon it for it taste disgusting.

This morning I stumbled on an NPR Article about the Denver Cupcake Truck (and its use of Facebook). And go figure, what does it include a recipe for? Maple Bacon Cupcakes!

I’m with ya on the bacon-infused baked goods Cupcake Truck, but I’m gonna pass on this one!! If I eat anymore bacon, or peanut butter for that matter, I may have to embark on another cleanse.

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