Thursday, September 30, 2010

Miles, Part 2

16.  Exercise for a total of 500 miles.

As you recall from the end of August, I really need to go 741 miles to metaphorically visit my friend Annelise in Chicago.  This month I added up a total of 64.8 miles of walking, running, and just a few on my bike!  I'm really excited about that total!  Including my previous totals, that puts me just 626.7 miles to go to get to Anneliese!  That also means that since the end of July I've clocked 114.3 miles of exercise - not including my crosstraining days!

So, on the map - I have made it out of Georgia and into Tennessee!  I've passed my friends in Rome (the Arringtons, the Cregos) and Dalton (the Kleems) and gave them metaphorical waves.  Now - can you picture it?! - I'm "resting" this month right in the bend of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga near Lookout Mountain, just before you head back into Georgia for a brief moment. 

I'm waving at my friend Connie right now as I metaphorically visit her in Chattanooga!

I'll be enjoying my time on the river until the end of October - when we see what stop I've made it to by Halloween!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 down, 40 to go!

Well, first, you should know - I had a birthday!  Now I am officially 39.  Guess this means it is now "12 going on 40."  I'm officially on my way!

We're close to the end of the month, so it is time to update you on my books.

26.  Read 50 books or more.

I read 2 last month, and 8 this month, so 10 down and 40 to go.  Here are the books I've been plowing through in the last few weeks!

3.  Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It by Sark
I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble on a date night with my husband.  It seemed like perfect timing, with the blog and my writing projects.  It was fun, another enjoyable and encouraging read from Sark.  But, I must say, I think I was not so much in need of the exercises and ideas she set forth at this point.  Some of it was helpful, but I didn't feel too indulged.  All in all, a light read about writing.  Fun!

4.  Something Blue by Emily Giffin
This was another book I got from  You should really check it out if you haven't yet.  I had read the first Emily Giffin book, so I read this one also.  Light, a little sleazy, nothing that will make a huge difference in my life - but a fun read, especially if you read the context of the first book.  A happy ending - everyone needs one of those!

5.  The Time Thief (#2 in The Gideon Trilogy) by Linda Buckley-Archer
The children and I read this - we liked the first one.  A great idea for a story, but incredibly tedious.  Honestly, I had to start skimming and summarizing in the last few chapters just so they could figure out what was going on.  We all want to know what happens in the end, but I don't think I can swallow another book that is so thick and marshy.

6.  Fever 1793 by Louise Halse Anderson
Taylor's 4th grade teacher assigned him this book last year and he's been asking me to read it ever since.  A fast read, and very good historical fiction for kids.  The story is about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.  I love this line on the cover - the New York Times Book Review quotes, "The plot rages like the epidemic itself."  Seriously, who wouldn't want to read THAT?  Very educational and well written, but feels like a good story hidden!

7.  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I've wanted to read this book for years, and I'd heard many good reviews.  It has a great premise - a widely varied group of people are celebrating a birthday in a third world and unnamed country, when terrorists decide to take over.  But that is where the good plot ends.  The book never really goes anywhere, and has a really bad ending.  I don't think the author knew where to go with the story, and finally just ran out of steam.  Ugh.

8.  The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Doesn't that sound like a great and sweet little title?  Well, it isn't.  This book was nothing like what I expected.  Let me just say, terrorists again.  And a mean old teacher.  And all kinds of weird stuff.  Bailey wanted me to read this, and I did, so when we talked about it afterward I was surprised at how weird she thought it was too.  Why did we wait to so long to discuss this?  Bizarro.

9.  Being a Feminist in Georgia by Margaret Curtis
This was written by my dear friend Margaret, who kindly sent me a copy.  It was fascinating to read about her work in the Equal Rights movement in Georgia, along with other women I have the good fortune to know.  The photographs, personal letters, and memorabilia in these pages is a treasure to me.  I'm so very grateful to Margaret for her work, and for sharing her book with me!  I am so glad there were women like her then to stick up for women like me now!

10.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Go out RIGHT NOW AND BUY THIS BOOK!  It was beautifully written and I had a very fulfilling and good and hopeful cry at the end.  That is all I am saying, because I do not want to spoil a second of the story.  I read it in just two days and would read it again right now.  Let me know if you check it out!  Wonderful!

As you can tell, I love kids books as much as adult ones - so you'll be seeing both in my monthly review posts.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


That is my goal right now - to be a LOSER!

That is because I'm working on

7.  Lose 10-15 pounds.  Again.

I've been writing more about successes than failures for obvious reasons and human nature.  But, I believe that it is really more interesting to read failures, so here's some ways I'm failing.  I'm not making good eating choices, and I'm already hesitating at writing that, because that isn't completely true!  Maybe I should say I should be making *better* eating choices.  In general, I actually do pretty well - I love fruits and veggies.  I also love carbs.  And chocolate.  Not candy, so much, but thick, rich chocolate.  YUM!  I have no other real vices, and maybe I need some.  But I crave, crave chocolate.  Milk, dark, whatever.  I think of it when I'm not with it.

Now, don't get me wrong.  You won't find me sprawled out like Comte de Reynaud in the shop window at the end of Chocolat.  (But I have thought about it.) 

This week I was telling my kids - the three of us are all crazy nerdy over Harry Potter - that I was feeling a little depressed like I was fighting off a dementor or two.  Taylor instantly responded, "Mom, you need some chocolate!"  You get it if you have read those books.  True in Harry Potter, true in my life too.  Way to go, Taylor!

I think this eating stuff also taps into

12.  Enjoy what I eat.

I get mad and confused about all the different information out there on how to best lose weight.  Less carbs, more protein. Less protein, more veggies.  Sleep more.  Sleep less.  Exercise more.  Rest between exercise.  Eat this, but not that.  I get so confused about my health that there are times I just want to throw my hands in the air.

Clark Howard recently reported the obvious - fad diets don't work - their only real success is in how quickly they drain your wallet!  The point Howard made was that while there are some good programs out there that have shown some success, the bottom line is exercise more, eat less.  That is the key, however you do it.

Kelly Osborne was quoted in People magazine this past week with this:
"Everyone keeps saying to me, 'What's your secret?'  The secret is there is no damn secret!  Eat healthy, work out.  That's it."

Last year before my surgery I had lost a good bit of weight, and I know this all to be true.  I told someone when they asked me how I did it that the answer was "every choice I made."  This particular friend asked me if that was the title of a book.

Ironic, isn't it?

So, I need to get back to basics.  I'm in a good place and don't have much to lose.  I just need to battle my dementors with something other than chocolate.  :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A little birthday celebration - but for someone else...

This is my birthday week.  It is the countdown to the big 39.  I'm excited.  If you'd like to help celebrate my birthday this week, would you help me work on -

2.  Help people who really need it.

I would like to raise $1000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta between my 39th and 40th birthdays.  Would you consider helping by making a donation?  If so, please click here:
Thanks so much for considering this - any amount will help!  There is such a need and CHOA has deeply affected our family and friends. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm lovin' it!

I'm quoting McDonalds here, but I'm lovin' it!  I love the fact that some of my friends are joining in on the 13x40 Challenge or some sort of variation.  Just saw my friend Amy has posted her list and is blogging about some of her experiences.  My friend Cathy is busy out in Colorado putting hers together - she is a month younger than me so she is right at the 13 month mark.  I can't wait to see what she is working on!  My friend Alison is talking about making a list, and I'm looking forward to hers also.  Anyone else out there working on their list?

22.  Make a regular practice of prayer and meditation.

Okay, I've started with a great book by Eugene Peterson called Solo.   I have come to really love Peterson's The Message because it combines good scholarship and ancient languages with a contemporary language and a modern feel.  Best of both worlds.  I like to use The Message woth a good study Bible - I prefer The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha that I came to love in seminary. 

Solo is really good so far, and I don't feel the pressure to do it every day, but the messages stick with me and have me thinking.  It is a slow start with #22, but I'm working on getting in the habit.  Which also leads me to the next one -

1.  WRITE.

I'm working on several writing projects right now that I am so excited about.  Two of them are planned devotional guides - one for adults and one for families.  I realize good ones are hard to find, and I'm tired of looking.  So, I'm writing.  Watch out!  More details later on...!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I got to have lunch with my friend Larry recently and we were talking about my blog.  I told Larry that several friends had expressed concern over what I had chosen to do over the next year, and when was I going to rest.  Others had worried that I needed to *not* have a list at all and instead just enjoy the year.  Larry said something so important in response.  He said when he had reviewed the list he found it to be more personal, more introspective.  Larry seemed to feel I was making more choices about slowing down than speeding it.  I really liked that idea, and when I looked back over my list, I found that to be true.

Then my friend Marcia looked at my list and she said she felt it reflected something more peaceful happening within myself, rather than "accomplishments." 

Marcia also remembered that my family makes a "Summer List" every year as the school year winds down.  It is so much fun to sit around and make the list, filled with all sorts of fun plans for how to spend our summer days.  It is exciting to read what the kids think is fun, and to mark off our adventures as the hot days fly by.  Marcia remarked that my 13x40 list is somewhat of a "summer list" of my very own - adventures I want to have - ways I want to feel more alive. 

I think knowing all this helps me work on 33.  Be Content.  It helps me to think the goals I am setting are more about ways I want to become a better person, rather than a ladder to climb and possibly fail, or something I *must* do.  I don't see it that way at all.  Larry and Marcia helped me focus what I was already feeling, and I want to keep those thoughts from Marcia and Larry at the forefront of my experience with my list and my year.

So, thank you so much to Larry and Marcia! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Three Cs

6. Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

This past Saturday I ran in the Vinings Downhill 5K - which surprisingly had a good many UPHILLS.  With a name like that, who knew?  After running 3.1, I then walked between 2-3 more with my friends Amy and Jill to get back to where t-shirts and cars were to be found.  Whew.  I basically put in another 10K in the same week as the Labor Day 10K classic, but only got credit for 5K!  But it was a fun race and I really enjoyed having two great friends to meet up with after the race!  "AFTER" being the key word there, because we started together but immediately they disappeared and I never saw a streak of them again after that!  Go Jill and Amy!!  It is so much more fun with a friend.

Here is my hard earned wisdom on participating in races.  I realized it this week.  Let's call these The Three Cs.  I totally made this up, but I think it really has a lot of truth to it!  All Three of the Cs will affect your time in a race, especially for an amateur like me!

1.  COURSE - Believe me, a flat smooth course makes a big difference over downhills and obviously uphills.  After running two hilly courses this week, I have never been more sure!
2.  CLIMATE - I felt great after the 10K last week - and a lot of this had to do with the weather.  It was a wonderful temperature and the day was amazing.  But the 5K started with a little warmer temps and a lot of humidity.  My friend Amy remarked after the race she felt more drippy wet than at the Peachtree in July!  I felt the same.  It really made a difference in how I felt!
3.  CROWD - This week's race was smaller than the last few I've done, which was so very nice, but people were super serious about running those downhills - and some of them (just some, mind you)weren't running too smart!  "Work smarter, not harder" was obviously not on the forefront of some minds.  There are basic running manners, let's say, common courtesy - like not running over people with your stroller (or dog), getting to the right if you are slower, not shoving, not cutting and making someone fall - you get the picture.  I actually ssssslllllllllooooooooowwwwwwed way down in the beginning to let some people get on out of the way.

So, if you are thinking about running or walking in a race - consider the Course, the Climate, and the Crowd.  Be smart and use your good exercise manners, just like you would everywhere else.  It makes it more fun and safe for everyone.  This was a good race and soooo close to me - I loved doing it!  Thanks to all those who organized it and put together a fun event! 

The next race I'm scheduled to run in is not until October 30.  Anyone want to join me?  It is called Run Like Hell and it is held at (and benefits) Historic Oakland Cemetery  I ran this race last year in the POURING RAIN on Halloween morning, and it is a really, really fun one.  If you can go too, please let me know! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


18. Explore cooking. Then, throw a dinner party.

So, I tried a new recipe last night.  I really like Pasta Primavera, so I found a recipe in Southern Living and thought, "sure, why not?"  It had A LOT of ingredients, which normally is off-putting for me, but I was determined.  Hey, this job is on my list, so I'm trying it!

Let me say first that I cook a lot - I just cook pretty easy meals.  So, my focus with #18 is to branch out a bit, try my hand at something more intense in the kitchen.  We'll see where it goes.

Well, the quick end of a long story is that my Pasta Primavera was very disgusting.  I followed the directions carefully, but it just was like nastiness at the end.  I did try it, as did my kids - but major yuck.  Somehow John decided it was really good - I should definitely share that part - and he ate a whole bowl.  I'm glad he enjoyed it last night, because I won't be making it again.  Eeew.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to tell you what the rest of us ate at that point, but suffice to say we all made our own dinner.  That alone I think was motivation for John to eat what I'd made (my restauranteur husband was tired of the kitchen when he got home).  Bailey thrilled herself by making parmesan cheese toast all by herself, Taylor was very delighted that he could have a bowl of cereal, and I ate a string cheese and some cold pepperoni.  I think we all ended up having one of the yeast rolls I had warmed up.  So, we all got a little turn in the kitch last night.  It just wasn't what was planned.

If you've got a recipe that you recommend I attempt this year, do send it my way! 

Oh well.  Back to the drawing board.  Or, in this case, the grocery store.  Off to Publix and Trader Joe's! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad Cop, Good Cop

29. Have a physical.

Okay, I made my appointment but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.  Ugh.  I hate having physicals.  I made a decision a few years back to do this every year, but after fasting and getting needle stuck and generally poked and prodded with a near pass out afterward - I just conveniently left that off my schedule.  I'm going to do this just before my 39th birthday in a few weeks.  Honestly, this is one of the things on my list I just want to GET IT OVER!  I'm always filled with dread that they'll find something terribly wrong with me that so far I was missing.  I'm also filled with dread that if I don't go they won't find something terribly wrong with me that I am missing.  So, give me credit for even scheduling this - and please, no lectures on how good it will be for me.  I get it.  I just don't want to do it.  Can this count for 9. Do something that really scares me also?

So, in order to counter act my worst case scenerio mentality, I am also working on :

3. Have a massage.

This is a rare treat for me, so scheduling #3 after #29 by a few days (notice which one I thought of first, which one is higher on the list!) seems to fit just right.  It will be something to look forward to after my doctor dread.  It is also a 39th birthday present to myself - Natural Body Spa sent me a coupon - I really think I ought to use it, right?!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting off the sofa

6. Participate in a 5K/10K… and a 1/2 marathon.

Last May I decided I would set a goal for myself to run in a 5K.  This sounded like an enormous challenge, and it was.  I had never been a runner.  It wasn't like I just needed to get my groove back from high school or college.  This had never been part of my past.  And I don't like to run.  So, motivating both body and mind were an enormous challenge, like I said! 

When I was in college, I took a Fitness for Life course and when I got the initial results back, the guy who was evaluating my chart said, "Brandi, you have the body of an endurance athlete... and the insides of a slug."  That is a quote I never forgot!

So, post college some years now - I decided to pursue my first run.  Here is what I learned:  SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.  I started training slowly.  I used this plan, Couch to 5K -  But I was so out of shape that I still found this really, really challenging.  So, I had to add in more days with variation on the plan.  I had to stick to a little something every day, every day, every day.  Otherwise, it was too easy to make excuses.

Fast forward - I ran a race, another race, another race.  Then I had major abdominal surgery last year, and still don't feel quite the same as before.  But I've started slowly, slowly back.  SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.  I'm training not for speed but for endurance. 

West Stride is a great store near me that really helped me by offering training programs and helping me get good shoes and avoid injury - I'd buy toilet paper from them if they sold it there, because they are just so very nice.  If you are considering starting a program, do go visit the very nice people at West Stride.  They couldn't be more encouraging to beginners!

So, this year, I'm gearing back up.  I walked/jogged (with the emphasis on walking) the Labor Day Classic 10K yesterday  It was a fun race, perfect weather, and a good experience.  They are already registering for next year, so why not set that as a personal goal?  Not into running?  Walk it!  There are a lot of walkers in this race and it would be a good one to shoot for with plenty of advance timing to prepare. 

This Saturday, I'll be participating in a 5K run.  It is really my first one in my training program for that 1/2 Marathon I have a goal to do in March.  The run this Saturday is the Vinings Downhill 5K  It is supposed to be a great race and I'm looking forward to it.  If you want to join me for this race, or set a similar goal for a future date, let me know.  I'd LOVE to have friends join me on this part of my 13x40!  Friends make it a lot more fun!

As a side note, and a shout out to my friend Alison, here is another 5K for this weekend, the Hot Lips Hustle.  I was already committed to the Vinings run when I heard about this one, but it is for a GREAT cause.  Think about supporting this special event!