Mission Accomplished!

The Mission, if accepted: Complete a 5k on Sunday, June 6th, 2010 (motivated by the Weight Watchers 2010 Walk-It Challenge)

My Personal Goal: Walk/Jog said 5k and complete in under 45 minutes (i.e. 15-min miles)

The Contender(s): Me, and my beloved team of support (AKA my husband and friends)

Location: The Pasadena Rose Bowl – site of the famed Rose Bowl Tournament and the Tournament of Roses Parade — complete with a perimeter pedestrian path of 3.2 miles (5k)

Front view of the Pasadena Rose Bowl

The Pasadena Rose Bowl, courtesy of VirtualTourist.com

The Lowdown: At 6:40-something on Sunday morning I hear my husband’s alarm going off, knowing I now have about ten more minutes before my back-up alarm goes off.  I greedily relish every second of half-sleep, peeping one eye open every other minute or so to see how much time I have left.  Finally at about 6:50-something, about three minutes before the alarm time, I get out of bed, left leg, right leg, and out…realizing that I’m awake.  Teeth brushed, bananas sliced, cereal poured, milk waiting, workout clothes on, I wait for my hubby to join me for a healthy, somewhat hearty (but not too heavy) breakfast together.  We lace up our shoes, make sure we have all we need, even grab the camera, and head out by 7:40 to the Rose Bowl.  Although it’s supposed to heat up to a smokin’ Southern California 93 degrees by mid-day at 8-ish in the morning it’s sunny and cool — perfect for a nice 5k jaunt around the Rose Bowl.

Picture of Proposed Updates to Pasadena Rose Bowl Pedestrian Path

Image of Proposed Updates to Pasadena Rose Bowl Pedestrian Path courtesy of la.streetsblog.org

Upon pulling into the arena area and driving towards our chosen parking lot, we notice the proposed updates to the pedestrian path have now become a reality.  Roads have been paved, clear pedestrian and car lanes have been drawn, areas shaded, and new white lines have been painted — it looks great and incredibly inviting.  As soon as our friends join us we take a quick before picture, and head off to join the many other walkers, bikers, and runners.

Continuing in the interval format, my friend and I start off with a 5-minute walking warm-up, then progress to intervals of 3-minute jogs and 2-minute walks.  We pace ourselves, and manage to carry on conversations, but bring on the activity enough to break out a sweat and get our hearts beating.  The slight up and down grades are manageable, and the sight of fellow exercisers, plus a refreshing breeze keeps us going on our merry way.  Although I will still firmly say, “I am NOT a runner!” I do admit that the bump in activity, the stretching of my legs in a non-walking way, and the amazing feeling afterwards is enough reward, that I will confess to being an interval jogger.  Slower pace, shorter intervals, manageable level of activity — this I can do.  About 40 minutes and 50 seconds later (inexact due to user and stopwatch miscommunication) we reached our goal and completed the 5k.  With a little rounding-off that makes for less than 14-minute miles (getting close to 13.5) — in a very good pace.  More Math – adding up our intervals means we jogged for about 21 minutes of our 40 minutes, meaning we jogged for more than half of our 3.2 miles.  For me, non-runner, hater-of-running, the fact that I jogged for 21 minutes is awesome!  And the fact that I felt comfortable in our pace and our activity – great!

Mission Accomplished!  Words of encouragement to the fellow non-runners out there.  If I can do it, so can you.  So go ahead, choose a goal that is seemingly impossible, break it down to the manageable, and go for it.  And then, share your stories?  What’s your goal?  How’s your journey?  How’s your mission?

Campaigning for Hope

Today in Los Angeles there were Special Elections to fill two seats in the State Assembly.  Since I didn’t know any of the four candidates’ names on the ballots, and found only one candidate statement in the sample ballot I turned to the Internet to learn more about those running.  I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of politics, often even less a fan of politicians, and I register as Independent.  This being said, I believe strongly in taking the responsibility of voting seriously, and try to do the best I can to cast my ballot with reason and knowledge.  When it comes to visiting candidate websites, I often struggle wondering how much I can trust in what they write and promise, and also understanding and expecting  that candidates will work to put their best foot forward, meanwhile hoping that I can trust in their intentions.

The four candidates are, of course, four very different individuals.  They come from different cultural backgrounds, have different careers, are motivated in different ways, and in their campaigns focus on different areas.  However, amidst all these differences, amidst the differences that we all have as individuals there seemed to be a common message, and a common desire — hope.

Photo of State Assembly Candidate, Sunder Ramani and his family

Sunder Ramani and his family

Sunder Ramani, born in Bangalore, India, was able to pursue the “American Dream”, build a business, build a family, and seeks to create opportunities for others to do the same.  By focusing on building jobs through small businesses, improving the quality of education, and working across party lines, Ramani plans to make a positive difference.  His hope — to keep the American Dream alive so that all can build a fulfilling life.

California State Assembly Candidate Nayiri Nahabedian in the classroom

Nayiri Nahabedian in the classroom

Nayiri Nahabedian has spent most of her life in Southern California, although originally from Boston, and has made it her home.  She took advantages of many educational opportunities, became involved with providing social services to others, and focuses on bettering the lives of those in her community.  Through mentoring programs, educational resources, and community involvement, Nahabedian is working to use her influence and power for good.  Her hope — to ensure that individuals receive the services they need to pursue healthy and successful lives.

California State Assembly Candidate Chahe Keuroghelian from his campaign materials

Chahe Keuroghelian profiled against his campaign materials

Chahe Keuroghelian began his journey of community involvement and service through law enforcement.  He has offered his skills as a multilinguist (five languages) to act as a Public Information Officer, Community Service Officer, and member of a neighborhood Crime Prevention Unit.  He has been involved in a number or community organizations and projects.  He seeks to build hope in the lives of those around him by supporting small businesses, building consensus amongst his colleagues, and investing in youth.  His hope — to bring communities together and protect the rights of all in order to live peaceful and rich lives.

California State Assembly Candidate Mike Gatto

Mike Gatto speaking with fellow citizens

Mike Gatto seeks to uphold, not only the American Dream, but also the California Dream.  Having been raised in the belief that anything is possible if one is willing to work hard, pursue an education, and act as a responsible citizen, he seeks to ensure that it is a reality and truth for others.  With a background in law, Gatto has worked to move through the legal system to make changes that will improve the lives of others.  He uses his position, knowledge, and experience to restore a sense of hope by protecting California’s natural resources, working to bring balance to the state budget, and provide opportunities for youth.  His hope — to protect the California Dream in order that individuals can live in beauty, peace, and happiness.

No matter the avenues to do so, no matter the particular focus, no matter the story in the background — each of these candidates seems to be working through their God-given talents, their passions, and their experience to keep dreams alive, better the quality of life of their fellow citizens, and preserve hope.

So rather than, “may the best candidate win”, I say, “may the winning candidate be and do the best they can to follow through with their intentions and campaign for hope, and may those who don’t win continue daily in their campaigns for hope.”

UPDATE: I visited Secretary of State, Debra Bowen‘s site (I think it’s quite cool how she employs a variety of technological mediums to keep voters informed — her site, Twitter, etc.) this morning to check for results.  Not only do I find the percentages and votes to be interesting in that there doesn’t seem to be any strong leaning, but also that it reinforces that these individuals represent the interests and motivations of so many members in our community.  I hope they all can take away from this that we all want to better our lives, and take their responsibility to do their part in representing us seriously.  Again I say, may the winning candidate be and do the best they can, and may those who don’t win continue to strive towards daily making a positive impact.

Thank You to The Muses

Being unemployed can be incredibly discouraging — not only the main element of not having a job or income, but even the hopelessness of searching for jobs and not finding possibilities.  Or finding possibilities, and then facing the daunting and seemingly-unrewarding task of spending hours crafting a fitting resumé and cover letter, only to click submit and send both off into a black hole of nothingness.  The hours, days, weeks, and months upon end of not hearing any word or making any progress.  Rather than let myself be consumed by these circumstances, I made up my mind at the beginning of this journey that I would allow myself to honestly process these emotions, but I would not wallow in them.  I know and believe that there is a greater purpose to this season in my life — it even ran across my mind the other day, that like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”, I could be in my Italy right now – and totally miss it by looking in the wrong direction.  So, to gain the most from this time, I am determinedly making the most of each step of this journey, remaining hopeful, and pursuing those things that I love.

March has been a particularly inspiring month for me.  I finally started my blog, added more items to my Etsy shop, I have started walking AND jogging, and in the process of accomplishing all of these, I have done many of the things I love.  And I have done none of this alone.

Wikipedia defines “muse” as “the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.”  Even though I am not living in Greek and Roman mythology, these goddesses or spirits remain ever-present.

I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of my muses – inspiring women, doing what they love, and making the history of tomorrow.  They are scattered around the nation, taking brave steps in unfamiliar territories, and encouraging others by their example — often unknowingly.  Many of these women I have not met in person, and most are not even aware of how they have energized me, but each in doing what she loves, leaves an innovative footprint in this world — pursuing her passions and doing so in a way that only she was uniquely gifted to do.  So, in celebration of the last day of Women’s History Month 2010, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to some of the women of tomorrow’s history.

Katherine Scoleri & Joelle Reed, founders of Moxie Design Studios, authors of "The IT Girl's Guide to Blogging"

The first two women I would like to acknowledge provided me with the tools to make my “ifshedidwhatsheloves” blog possible.  Since last summer I have had it on my mind and heart to begin a blog.  I have always loved writing; it’s incredibly therapeutic, and a tangible way to chronicle the history of the heart.  Many who are close to me have encouraged me in my writing, and especially in this challenging time, I have had this voice in the back of my mind saying, “Start your blog.  Start your blog.”  But it was the hot pink book, the catchy title of “The IT Girl’s Guide to Blogging with Moxie“, and their uniquely-made-for-women style that got me started on my blogging path.  Katherine Scoleri and Joelle Reed are the two women of Moxie Design Studios.  The MoxieGirls have pursued their loves of Art, Web Design, blogging, and more.  The fruits of the labor have been spending time with family, sipping martinis, and working in their pajamas.

Joy, blogger of "Joy of Stamping", co-founder of Eclectic Paperie, co-designer/co-founder of Our Craft Lounge

Robyn, blogger of "My Pink Stamper", creator of online cardmaking video tutorials

As I have been delving deeper into the world of handmade cards, two women who have taken their art and skills to the worldwideweb have inspired me.  Joy from JoyofStamping and Robyn from My Pink Stamper.  Both women started off as sellers or demonstrators of rubber stamping products, and each then chose to take their interests to new levels.  Joy regularly shares her latest cardmaking creations through her blog, has co-founded her own cardmaking-supply business – Eclectic Paperie, and has started co-designing her own “Our Craft Lounge” line of stamps and products.  Robyn continues sharing the latest and greatest products and techniques through her blog and site, My Pink Stamper, by presenting online video demonstrations from her personal “Pink Loft” and answering questions or showcasing cardmaking supplies on her blog.

Karen, founder of kgarnerdesigns, creator of exquisite jewelry

For her exquisite jewelry designs and sharing her story as a “Quit Your Day Job” Etsian, I would like to acknowledge Karen of kgarnerdesigns.  Karen started off making jewelry for the creative release it provided, as well as for an intimate and less expensive way to dress up her bridesmaids.  When considering a way to stay at home with her son, she kept coming back to jewelry-making.  On a budget of $10 a week, Karen knew that if she wanted to keep her hobby, she needed to get something back for her time and investment.  The results — kgarnerdesigns — her Etsy shop.  In the vast world of Etsy shops, Karen distinguishes herself with her timeless designs, the classic metals she uses, and her wedding-day or everyday inspirations.

Heather, blogger of "Wanderlust"

In the world of health, fitness, and learning to love oneself, I would like to send a special shout to to Heather, otherwise known as MadTownMotzie, the author of “Wanderlust“, a blog about one individual’s journey to better health with the help of Weight Watchers, changing food choices, increased fitness, and frequent attitude checks.  Although Heather has been on her journey for life, and has been blogging since August 2009, I only stumbled across her blog last week.  In reading her older posts I have been particularly inspired by her ODB – Operation Disney Bod – in which Heather steps up the exercise, cuts back (but doesn’t cut out) holiday indulgences, and gives herself regular pep talks in order to reach a goal.  I especially appreciate the honest and oftentimes vulnerable way in which Heather invites readers along her journey.

Lisa See, author of "Shanghai Girls"

Most recently, I had the pleasure of joining a women’s book club through my church.  First of all, I want to thank this unique circle of women for hosting the book club because without them, I would not have read “Shanghai Girls” this month.  Moreover, I would not have come to be acquainted with Lisa See, its author.  Not only was I utterly entranced by See’s writing and brief windows into the histories of Shanghai, Angel Island, and Los Angeles in the 1930’s and onward, but I was also incredibly inspired by the manner in which Lisa See carries her love of what she does across all facets of her life.  I read that See has a special fondness for forgotten or untold stories.  By exploring her bio, I also learned that she helps resurrect these stories, not only through her writing, but also by participating in such projects as recording narratives for walking tours of Los Angeles, giving of her time as a guest curator of select Chinese-American museum collections, and serving as the Los Angeles City Commissioner on the “El Pueblo de Los Angeles” Monument Authority.

Linda, follower of dreams, stopped by nothing

Lastly, to a woman who worked as many jobs as she had to, who has made sacrifice after sacrifice, and who has consistently given generously of her heart — all in order to support and make a better life for herself and her family.  An inspiration for following her dreams and not letting things like age, convention, or the opinions of others stand in her way.  After spending 4 years in law school — while continuing in her full-time job, and more than 30 years as a primary school educator, she said “School’s Out Forever”, resigned from teaching, and has been working to following her interest in law.  Times have been tough, and opportunities are scarce, but she continues day in and day out to study for the Bar, bring in income, and keep herself busy with substitute teaching, and senior care-giving.  To the woman who has always been a great inspiration and source of knowledge in my life I say, “thank you” to my greatest Muse, my mother.

So, too all my Muses of March — in the words most famously sung by ABBA in “Thank You for the Music” and slightly tweaked by me……

So I say Thank you to The Muses, for loves pursuing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without them, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a craft or a story what are we?
So I say thank you to The Muses
For giving loves to me

I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with Muses and Internet
I wanna shout it out to everybody
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!

So I say Thank you to The Muses, for loves pursuing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing

(and for those who are just dying to listen to the full, original song by “The ABBA Tribute Band” you can click here to listen via Deezer)