Saturday, September 25, 2010

Women's Fitness Celebration 5K

It has been just shy of a year and a half since I have run in a race. The last one I finished was a fairly disappointing Race to Robie Creek (billed as the toughest half marathon in the Northwest), followed by a local 10K that I actually quit halfway through a couple of months later. Only later in the fall did I finally discover that I was anemic enough for it to be significantly affecting my daily energy level, so you can imagine what that meant for my running performance. At the time, I really felt as though my best days of running had come and gone, and I just needed to get used to it. I pretty much gave up on the thought of running races, took my iron pills, and I started running just to stay in shape and for the pure enjoyment of it. My training has been pretty mediocre, to be honest, but racing today ignited a certain spark again. And, for the first time in a long while, I'm starting to dream that maybe with a little hard work I can reach some goals that seemed very far out of reach.

The Women's Fitness Celebration has been an annual event in Boise since 1993, and has now grown to be the largest 5K for women in the nation, drawing in approximately 15,000 participants. The event organizers' mission is to inspire women of all ages and abilities to live healthy and active lives. In my opinion, they are doing a fantastic job of it. Every year, women of all ages come together with their friends and their families to enjoy an athletic pursuit and push themselves to do their best. And, most of them come back for more each year. I personally credit this race with helping me discover my love of running and racing, and for teaching me about the rewards of pushing myself.

My first first time participating was in 2002. I had begun my path towards becoming a runner about a year and a half beforehand. I was slowly getting into shape after the births of my daughters, and I had found that running was the best way to do it. My best friend told me about the race, and it sounded like fun. It's billed as a run, walk or stroll, to encourage as many people to participate as possible. The red wave is the timed competitive run, while the purple and blue wave are the non competitive run/walk waves. My best friend and I signed up for the race and chose the purple wave. We jogged and walked the course, using it more as time away from our small children to actually be able to have grown up conversation. But, I can still very clearly recall the excitement of race day and the energy that rolled through that huge crowd of women preparing to take on 3.1 miles, and I knew it was something that I wanted a piece of.

In 2003, I was running more and seeing improvements in my physical ability. I hadn't planned to run the race, but a couple of days before, at the end of a bench stepping class at the gym, the instructor asked if anyone was going to be racing. I told her that I wanted to, but that I didn't want to go by myself. She encouraged me to join her, and that was the only push that I needed. Again, we signed up for the non competitive wave. She hadn't raced since high school, and I was still very unsure of my own capabilities. This time, because I really admired her athletic ability, I pushed myself to keep up with her and ran almost the entire course. Along the way, I noticed that we were passing people with red race numbers who had started several minutes before us. It dawned on me that I would actually be able to compete with the "competitive" runners. As we came down the home stretch toward the finish line, Allison kicked, and I watched her speed away from me. I didn't have the strength or energy to follow, but she helped that fan that little flame that was burning in the back of my mind, the one that told me I could do better. And, I knew at that moment that the next year I would be coming up towards that banner with a timing chip around my ankle. I don't remember my exact time that year, but it was somewhere in the 28 minute range, something near a 9 minute mile pace.

By 2004, I was feeling much more confident and I signed up for the competitive race without having anyone to run with. I happily headed down to the start line by myself, and ended up meeting up with a friend from high school. I hadn't seen her in a few years, and she had been running quite a bit. She was with a friend who was training for a marathon, and they told me that she would complete the 5K as part of a training and run and continue on for a total of 10 miles that day. I was a little awestruck at the sound of that, and that flame in the back of my mind was stoked a bit more and began to turn into a full fledged fire. That year, I clocked in at 27:03.

My training changed and intensified in 2005 as I prepared for my first ever half marathon (the aforementioned Race to Robie Creek). I knew it was a tough race, running 8.5 miles straight up, and then another 4.5 miles down the other side of a mountain, so I didn't take it lightly. I worked hard and ran a lot of hills, and ended up with a half marathon debut of 2 hours and 22 minutes. In Sept, I met up with the same high school friend to run the Women's Fitness Celebration and obviously my hard work during the year had paid off. I chalked up another big PR, this time running 25:58.

2006 was a bit of a plateau year. I started out the year running hard and I caused myself a little injury. It put a damper on my Robie Creek training, which almost resulted in me not running the race. In the week leading up to it, I decided to go for it and just have fun. I ran just a few seconds slower than the previous year. And, my September 5K tradition continued, this time with just a two second PR, 25:56. The lack of huge results didn't discourage me, though, and I began to plot my next move.

I was ready to take on a full marathon in 2007. I ran long, I ran hard, and I ran hills in preparation of my first 26.2. I was on a mission and even though it was hard I never wavered. I was rewarded by smashing my Robie Creek PR to bits, and running the course 18 minutes faster than before. 3 weeks later, I ran my first marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes. By this time, it had become pretty obvious to me that running longer distances at a little slower pace was much more comfortable for me, so any kind of speedwork was quickly thrown on the back burner. Coming off my marathon high, I ran only sporadically the rest of the year. My 5k time was 26:01, and that would be the last time I would run the Women's Fitness Challenge (or any 5K race, for that matter) until today.

There has been no racing, no putting stress on myself to perform, and my iron levels seem to be back to where they should be. I've lost a little weight, and I've been running pretty decent paces regularly, but not necessarily pushing myself. Signing up for the race was sort of a whim. I missed running it, but I hadn't really been thinking about it too much. In fact, I didn't even really think I would be in town. But, since I was, and since my sister in law was running, I decided I would, too.

I have very recently run 3.1 miles in less than 25 minutes, albeit on a treadmill, and near sea level. That seems like cheating a little, but still when I was given the option of lining up in front by saying that I would finish in 25 minutes or less, I took the chance. Honestly, though, that seemed pretty far fetched to me. I expected to PR, but probably by just a few seconds.

The pass to the front of the line turned out even better than I expected. I don't think there were more than 30 people in the warm up area. There was time to run a little and warm up, without being grouped in with thousands of other women, and not even being able to move. Just a few minutes before the start, we moved out to the front of the start wave, just behind the elite runners. The anticipation was building, and then finally, the gun. We were off.

I didn't wear a watch, and I wasn't listening to my iPod; it was just me and the 30 or so women around me. I took off hard, but I really had no idea what sort of pace I was running. I just know that even though it didn't seem like I wasn't moving all that fast, I was hurting like I was. I guess that's a product of not running different paces enough. I'm not very in tune with my body. I was passing people, though, and not being passed very often. I wish I knew for sure, but I have a feeling that I ran that first mile pretty damn fast for me.

Shortly after the one mile marker, there is a little hill. It's not even a quarter of a mile, and it's not really all that steep. It's enough to hurt a little, though, when you are trying to run your 5k pace. For me at least. It's the only hard part, though, and I told myself that over and over and over again. Get up the hill as fast as you can and you will start to recover. Push yourself just a little bit harder than you think you can. I was past the worst part, but I felt myself slowing down a little. A couple of people passed me. I thought to myself, 'you're not going to run in less than 25 now. Just slow down and enjoy the rest of the race'. And then, the other voice in there said 'you have no idea how fast you are going. No one is getting that much farther ahead of you. How fast are they running?' Yes, all this internal conversation. If you have run, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't run, I challenge you to go out and listen to those voices. They are entertaining.

I thought back to the 10k last year that I quit. It's a rather ironic story. I was running with my then boyfriend, now husband and he was in really good shape. I was not. The race started and within a quarter of a mile, I couldn't hang with him. I watched him roll off into the distance and I got pissed. Not just a little. A lot. Not really at him, but at myself, for not being as fast as him. For not being as dedicated or working as hard to get into shape. It made me feel small, and like I wasn't good enough. I don't know why I put that on myself. No one one is holding me up to any unattainable standards...but I suppose that's another issue altogether. So, as I watched him disappear, I decided I didn't want to run. I thought I must be going really slow and why bother to run 6 miles at a 10 minute mile pace. I turned around, and ran back to the start/finish area. Ron continued on to run on and finish in 48 minutes, which was a huge PR for him, and far faster than I would have ever expected to run, even if I had been in good shape. I wasn't running all that slow after all. He was just running really fast. Here comes the ironic part. Looking back at the times of the finishers afterward, we found out that I would have WON the woman's 10K if I had continued. Not just my age group. The whole race (it was a small race, but still). Live and learn....and back to my current story.

So, I thought about that day. I thought about what it was like to just give up. And I asked myself if it really hurt to run as fast as I was running. And, I asked myself if I could go any faster. The answer to both of those questions was no, but during this internal conversation I had covered a little more ground, and the downhill portion was in sight. Keep going, keep pushing and pretty soon you can get a little respite. That down hill is enough to recover at least a little, and maybe even make up a little time.

I rounded that corner and started down the hill. I was really unaware of the other runners around me by that point. I didn't have any rabbits I was chasing. I don't know if anyone passed me. But, as I started down the hill, I saw a familiar face. Or rather, the back of a head and a camera. It was one of my former co workers. "Marty Herceg!!", I said, and he turned around smiling. He asked me how it was going and I said good. I passed on by, and hoped that he wasn't taking a picture of my backside as I passed. I heard him yell "You've still got the Hawaii tan!", and that made me smile. I pushed on a little harder.

The last part of this course is sort of hard. You run up one side of the road right past the finish line, then make a u-turn to run up the other side of the road to the end. It's so hard to be so close to the finish line and know you still have a little way to go. I was hurting a lot near the end. I wanted to slow down, and I probably did slow down a little. But, in the last tenth of a mile you pass by "tuxedo row". A bunch of men stand in the middle of the course in tuxedo jackets and cheer you and slap your hand as you go by. It's a good pick me up, because you don't want to look like you are in pain and suffering in front of them, so you suck it up a little.

Of course, by this time, I could see the clock, and that was my biggest motivator. I could see that the seconds of 23 minutes were ticking away. I had run much faster than I had expected. If I had it in me, I could have sprinted for the line, and shaved off a few seconds. Would I have made it in under 24 minutes? Probably not. But, at this point, it doesn't matter. I ran under the clock at 24:10. Nearly a 2 minute PR. Enough to leave me hungry for more, and wondering, just where does my speed top out? How much more am I capable of? I really can't wait to find out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Half Full or Half Empty?

I do understand that life can't be all sunshine and roses and warm fuzzy feelings, but sure seems like I'm surrounded by an awful lot of negativity all the time. And, I suppose, as much as I want to pretend it's not the case, a lot of it is coming from me.

In my mind, I'm the person that rolls with the punches and always looks at the bright side of things; making the proverbial lemonade, you know?

But, the ugly truth is, that when people around me start complaining and whining, I get so upset over it that I turn into a bitter and selfish monster. I want so badly for everyone to be happy or at least even keel all the time, that when they aren't I just can't take it. That doesn't really make sense does it?

I don't know, I just don't understand why people can just suck it up and take on life, even when it's mildly unpleasant or something you don't want to do. Why can't they just rise above? Complaining does nothing. It just makes you feel worse. If you don't like your circumstances, then find a way to change them. And, if you can't change them, find a way to change your attitude. I promise you it will make you feel better.

But, I look at people in the world around me and I wonder if this is something that you can really control. Is being an optimistic person or a pessimistic person and inherent trait? Are you stuck in that rut from the very beginning? Can you learn to control or change your attitudes?

Take last night for instance. We went to Disney's California Adventure. We were going to see their new nighttime water and light show "World of Color". It's the middle of summer. The place is busy. There are thousands of people who want to fit into a small area to watch the show. First, you wait in a long line to get a pass that gets you in line for the show. Then, an hour and a half before the show, you get in line and wait to find a spot to watch the show. And, then you get lucky if you get a decent spot where you can actually see. There was a woman standing behind me who bitched for half an hour about how horrible it all was. How she had to wait in line. How she thought there would be "seats" instead of standing. How she felt like she had been duped. She repeated this all over and over again until the show started.

I wanted to turn around and tell her to shut up. I mean, seriously. All the hundreds of people standing around her did the same exact thing she did. No one was forcing her to stand there and watch the show. She could have just left. And, in the end, what did all her complaining accomplish? Nothing. So why waste your breath, and why pollute the brains of everyone around you?

I'm trying to teach my kids to be grateful for everything they have, and to see the good in everything around them. But, still, they complain. Will they grow out of it? Or are they already stuck in that half empty rut? I guess only time will tell and I will keep trying to teach them a positive attitude.

I'm done complaining about complainers now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's July already?

And, moving towards the middle of July with incredible speed. It's amazing how quickly time goes by. So much has happened since my last post. I wanted to write more regularly, and again I've had this huge lapse. So, I'll pull myself back up on the wagon for another shot.

The morning after my last post, I was up and in the emergency room with Marissa by 5 am. I guess it was a good thing I had such a great night of sleep the night before. It had been such a nice afternoon, just the 3 of us girls. We stopped off at the book store and picked out a few reads. Then we headed for the airport. Once we we had Ron with us, we headed out for dinner. But, suddenly, Marissa was not feeling well. Her mouth hurt, and her face began to swell. Within a few hours I was terribly concerned. We tried to sleep, thinking we would take her to urgent care in the morning, but it became obvious that it couldn't wait, and off to the ER we went.

After she was checked out by two doctors, it was decided that she had an infection that had caused an abscess that was continuing to expand and needed to be drained in the operating room. This meant a transfer to a different hospital with pediatric ICU, as they would have to put her out and put her on a respirator. Everything went as smoothly as possible, but this was all followed by 24 hours in ICU, where she was kept completely sedated. And, then another over night in a regular room while they watched for possible return of the infection.

It was exhausting and probably the scariest thing I have ever been through. It was incredibly hard to sit and watch my precious little one with all those tubes coming out of her, even though I knew everything was going to be okay. My heart breaks for all those parents who have to experience chronic and life threatening illnesses thrust upon their children. I don't know how they are able to deal with it.

And then, as quickly as it came on, it was over. She was back to normal so fast, and able to go to her last day of school, and I was able to attend Baily's 6th grade graduation and watch her receive the Presidential Academic Award. I was very proud of her.

Then, I hopped a plane back home to California, where we had 25 days until our lease was up. And, we had not found yet found a place to move into. I began packing, and watching the rental listings obsessively. Finally, by the middle of the month, we found something and after a few little hurdles, we signed a lease.

The next couple of weeks included frantic packing, moving, and unpacking, along with an 8th grade graduation, another 6th grade graduation and the arrival of Baily and Marissa for the summer.

So, now, we are all settled in and enjoying the summer. We've gone to and Angel's game, Disneyland and spent days at the pool. This weekend is a yard sale and a minor league baseball game. It's a constant whirlwind of activity, and I must close this post to go feed a 12 year old boy and get him off to baseball practice.

Tonight will be a mellow evening with only 3 kids. The 4 younger girls have gone to spend the night at Grandma's house. My husband laughed and said people would probably look at us crazy for saying it was a quiet evening with a full of energy 7 year, a jr high age boy, and teenage girl. But, it sure seems quiet to me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Girl!!!

It's a very happy Saturday for several reasons.

1. I slept really well last night.

This comes on the heels of two terrible nights of sleep, so I was exhausted an actually a little scared of lying down. I was afraid I would spend the night tossing and turning again. But, even though I woke up a couple of times, I was able to fall alseep again right away. I woke up a little before 8, and thought about how wonderful it was that we didn't have to get up and get the girls off to school. I talked to my amazing husband on the phone for a couple of minutes and then I fell back to sleep and dreamed VERY sweet dreams (another thing that has been plauging me for awhile are bad dreams, so this was a nice change). I woke up again to the phone ringing and I felt well rested and refreshed.

2. It's a mellow day with no plans

The girls are enjoying a lazy Saturday morning, and they are getting along perfectly. I made heart shaped waffles and we had a nice breakfast together. I need to do a little tidying around the house, but that's about it. I'll have a short run on the treadmill later, which will put me at somewhere around 36 miles for the week, and I'm very pleased to see some improvement in my fitness and mileage this month.

But, the best part of the day is

3. I will be with my husband tonight!!!!!!!

We have only been apart for 10 days, but it seems like a month already. And, then after this weekend, we will only be apart 5 days for the next 3 months! That is going to be like heaven. I'm at my best when this man is by my side. I can't wait to see his smile and to look in his eyes. Ok, cheesy. I'll stop before I cause someone to gag. I just love him.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Because I never finish what I start

I hope that this is something that I will eventually be able to overcome, but looking back at my life, most of what is see is a trail of unfinished business or things that I gave up on. I don't want to be a quitter, but there are more things than I care to admit that I have started and never finished.

So, in an attempt to tie together some loose ends and make myself feel like I'm continuing something rather than starting again, I'm posting a link to the last blog I started. Let's just call this one Chapter Two.

My Wicked Twisted Road

A little poetry

Both of these are poems I wrote a couple of years ago, and had completely forgotten about. If it hadn't been for that browsing of my old My Space blog, I never would have remembered them at all.


You speak to me-

Your voice reaches a place

deep inside.

Somewhere so familiar

So like home,

like youth

Like someplace I've been a thousand times before.

Music late into the night

Singing me off to a childhood slumber.

Like fingers skimming along my spine.

Shivers race through me, making me ache

To find that place

Again and again.

I Can Fly

Seconds tick by, turning to minutes

and somehow

to hours

With each breath

My mind clears more

Every thought slips, unknown

Up into the sky, like a dream forgotten when you wake.

Each step, each turnover

Springing me still forward

In a journey with no real purpose

Except to feel free

In my body

And to fly as best as I can.

My new blog and a new outlook

One of my passions in life is reading. I have read so many books over the years, and many that have really touched me for one reason or another. But, I don't even remember all those books as time passes. I have often thought about keeping a journal, and writing a little bit about each book I read. Now is the time for that, but I will do it in the form of a blog. Maybe I'll get a few readers and I can tip them off to books that might some how touch their lives as well. So, now I am introducing:

Some of My Best Friends are Books

And, in other news...

I have decided to take a different approach to my thoughts on this blog. Several years ago, I was keeping a very simple blog on My Space. I had kind of forgotten about it, because I had pretty much deleted everything off of that site and I never logged on. But, for some reason I popped on to my site the other day and I found the old blog. I didn't write much, but I was writing fairly regularly. Most of it was about running and training for races, and some about my thoughts and feelings on day to day life. It was very interesting to me to re read what I had written. This is not necessarily a new revelation, because I am always interested to look back and see what I have written in my actual paper and ink journals that I keep.

Thankfully, it has reminded me of the true reason that I ever write at all. In exactly the same fashion that I capture memories and moments in time with my camera, I write to capture memories and moments in time from myself. When I look back at those moments, I learn about myself and I grow.

Somehow, I wasn't thinking about blogging in the same way. I thought that if I was publicly publishing something, then I was writing for someone other than myself. But, that is not the case. I am writing for myself and if someone comes along and wants to read and/or comment it would just be an extra bonus. I feel a little more free already.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Writer's Block

I really want to blog, but it seems like whenever I sit down to do it, I can't think of anything to say. Maybe I'm over thinking it? I want to write some amazingly witty and profound thing every time, but maybe that's not really possible? I'm not even sure I know what topic I want to write about.

I'm going to post this, just because. It's a start. I have some thoughts brewing in my head but nothing is really coming out right now, so I guess it's just not the time. I'll try again later, or tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jennifer, The Moody Poet

I think I'm a funny person. I love to laugh and joke around and I have a good sense of humor. At least, I think I do.

When I wanted to start my blog, part of it was because I read several that are so incredibly witty and amusing and entertaining. And, since I've always loved writing, I assumed that I could create something like that, too. But, the thing is, it seems that every time I sit down to write it just comes out so melancholy.

I started a blog about a year and a half ago, but after about 10 or 15 entries that were just so damn depressing, I stopped. I think maybe a couple of my friends were reading, but I decided that no one should be subjected to my despondent ramblings.

I think back to when I was young, and I scribbled pages and pages full of poetry. Notebooks and journals filled with gut wrenching accounts of unrequited love, heartbreak, and the journey of coming of age scattered across my bedroom floor. Even then I considered my teenage angst a little over the top, and I was intelligent enough to understand that I was a living, breathing cliche. But, I just didn't know how to express myself in any other way.

When I met my first husband and settled into adult life (ADULT!?! I was such a baby, but that's another story), I felt pretty happy and I wanted to write about it. I would sit down with a journal, but nothing would come. The only time the words would ever flow freely from my pen was when I was feeling somber or troubled. This held true as the years flowed by, and if I pick up my journals now and look back, it is very rare to find an entry that is not tinged by at least a little bit of sadness or discontent. I suppose that is somewhat telling of how my story has played out, but I swear that there really were some happy times. There had to have been. I don't view myself as a miserable person, but somehow in my writing that is always how I come across.

I'm going to continue to write, and I'm going to hope that if I keep trying, my sense of humor and my joy in life will finally come through in my words. At least, sometimes. Because, frankly, even though I am happy and more in love than I ever imagined I could be, life is a little hard right now. I'm never quite whole splitting my time between my daughters and my husband. There's always at least one little piece of the puzzle that is out of place.

And, well, that tortured poet girl doesn't live too far under my skin. I can't ever keep her buried for too long. I guess I should just embrace her, because she is me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Fun

Here were are on another Monday. The weekend was good, but once again we were foiled by the weather. The Sunday baseball game was canceled and while it was so cute and very entertaining to watch the little one in his first game of the season, it was COLD!!! I was under the impression that one of the benefits of living part time in Southern California was the sunshine. From what my girls told me, it was nicer back in Idaho than it was here. But, such is life, I suppose.

We sat huddled together under blankets and endured the wind and the threatening rain during the game. Then, we hit up a 5 year old's birthday party, spent some time with family, and then headed home with some tired kids. A couple of them climbed right into bed, and I curled up in bed with a book while the others cuddled around me watching "Grease". Ron and I had to roll our eyes and laugh when Alex looked at us and said "Are all of the people in this movie dead now?". The span of time is a funny thing in the eyes of a 12 year old.

Sunday was very low key since the game was canceled. Alex was bummed. We needed to take Rachel home, so met her mom at a mall and dropped her off. We walked the mall a little and then had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. The kids got some of the cutest balloon animals I have ever seen made for them there. Of course, they didn't all last very long, but at least I got some pictures.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Body Image

The main goal in my life is happiness. I strive to find complete contentedness in my existence, and to provide for my children a clear and open path to their own happiness. I feel that it is my duty to them to be an emotionally and physically strong, healthy and happy person. Most of the time I feel like I am getting it right.

There is this one issue that never seems to go away, though. These little tentacles of self doubt and self criticism that creep up out of the ground and wrap around me like vines, threatening to pull me down. This one thing that so easily moves in and strips away my confidence. My body image.

I am not technically overweight. I am at the high end of what is considered healthy for my height and frame. I am athletic and in good shape. I exercise regularly and I have run an average of 1000 miles a year for the last 4 years. So, why is the image in the mirror something that bothers me every single day?

I don't know precisely when it started. Sometime around jr. high, I suppose. I know I'm not alone. Many of my friends began to worry and stress about their bodies and their weight at the same time. And, just like me, most of them were not anywhere near overweight.

As an adult, I see these concerns and self doubts beginning in girls at a younger and younger age. Is it something we can escape? Can we teach our daughters to see that the true meaning of beauty lies not in their physical appearance alone? Can we free them of this burden that so many of us carry around?

I want to be released from these feelings. I try. I get there some days. Sometimes after a good run I feel beautiful and healthy. And, then there are the moments when my husband looks at me and bathed in the glow of his admiration and love I forget any negativity and feel only pure bliss.

But, then, I turn on the TV and the media tries to tell me what is beautiful and appealing. And, it is something that I am not. Or, a woman who is much, much thinner than I am calls herself a 'fat cow'. And, a senior citizen (who is also smaller than I am) says she has to diet. I begin to wonder, if this is how they see themselves, then how do they see me? How does the world in general see me? How do my children see me? How does my husband see me? What if I am not good enough?

It's just so tiring and I want to be free of it. I want to tear down this roadblock on my freeway of happiness. I want to spare my daughters the doubt and uncertainty, and have them only feel beautiful and confident. But, how do we get there?

Hello Blogging World!!

How do you start a blog? One of my bestest friends in the whole world told me the other day that I should blog about the adventure that is my life. The adventure that includes being a newlywed and a mom and step mom to 7 beautiful children, the transition from working 40 hours a work in retail to pursing my dream of making a living as photographer, and doing all of this while traveling 1000 miles between my two homes (one with my husband and step children and the other with my daughters) every two weeks. It sounds interesting enough. I should be able to come up with something to write about while doing all of that, right?

I love to read blogs. And, I've always loved to write. I've kept diaries and journals since I was 6 years old. I would like to hope that I could be as witty and inspiring and insightful as some of my friends who blog, and as some whose blogs I've recently come across and begun to read. But, who knows. I stumble through life just trying to do my best.

So, here it goes. Fasten your seat belt, and hopefully we'll be in for an interesting ride.