Month: September 2011

Fall TV Review

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog I love me some television and because I was sick last week I viewed even more TV than usual. Luckily it was premiere week and all my favorite shows started their seasons with a couple new shows thrown in the mix.  I thought it would be fun to review these shows and give you an idea of what is worth checking out this season.

Sunday-

Amazing Race 19- 19 seasons and still my favorite reality competition show.  Entertaining cast, great first challenge in Taiwan and I couldn’t believe the girls that lost their passport about an hour into the race!  A few new touches like the hazard penalty and a double elimination round next week keep the race exciting.  If I could be on any show it would be the Amazing Race.  A+

Extreme Makeover Home Edition- There is no show that lays on the inspirational cheese more than this one but I still enjoy it.  Its kind of like the TV equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa.  Sweet and comforting. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times it makes me cry in spite of my best efforts! This season started with a bang, bringing the First Lady in as a guest to help a home for female veterans.  How can you not like that? B+

Pan Am- New show trying to ride the 60’s wave of Mad Men.  Looks very promising with a slick, attractive cast.  You could really see the budget spent on the pilot.  Cinematography, sets, fashion were all top-notch.  Not as edgy as Mad Men but I actually think that’s a good thing.  I love Mad Men’s style but it has become too R rated for my taste with almost every character being a philanderer or cheat (plus a few of the plot strings have become ridiculous). A-

Monday-

Dancing with the Stars- new season has stretched the meaning of ‘star’ to the point where some of the pro dancers are more famous than the stars.  For instance, does dating George Clooney really make you a star?  That said, still immensely entertaining.  I especially enjoy watching it with my DVR so I can fast forward all the fluffy montages and rehearsal scenes.  I just like to watch the dancing! B

How I Met Your Mother- this show has been weak for the last 3 seasons, especially last season. The once funny Barney gags are tired and the entire cast (and writers) seem bored.  Hope they can revitalize it but I think this season it might be time to finally meet the mother and end the show.  C

The Sing Off- Despite it being the 3rd season had never seen the show but the draw of Sara Bareilles as a judge and a team from my alumni BYU called Vocal Point was too much to resist.  I enjoyed this acapella competition; although, I think all 3 judges are far too nice. They need a Simon Cowell to be a little tough on the teams! A

Two and a Half Men- Never seen the appeal of this show but I had to watch out of curiosity.  If anything I think Ashton Kutcher was better than Charlie Sheen.  Still, not that funny.  C

Two Broke Girls- Terrible, cliched comedy.  I thought every laugh was tired and predictable.  F

Tuesday-

Glee- I was into this show for about 6 months.  It had a strong pilot and you know I loved the music at the beginning.  Unfortunately the plot lines got ridiculous really fast and the kids stopped behaving like high school students and more like 30 year olds. Plus, I think they are dipping really deep to find new songs and to work those songs into a coherent plot (they didn’t have a song in this weeks episode until about 20 minutes into the show so they are becoming more sparse in their song offerings) .  Nothing new this season has excited me but it is nice to see Idina Menzel as a full time cast member.  Almost makes me tempted to watch. C-

New Girl- Only new show I watched on Tuesday (aside from results night of Dancing with the Stars).  This is a strange little show that I can’t say I recommend but I also think it has potential. Zoey Deschanel plays a girl who is dumped by her boyfriend and moves in as a roommate with a group of guys. The pilot had good moments but its tone was also all over the place.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a slapstick comedy or a drama.  Second episode also mixed.  Still, I see some potential (Btw the producers were so smart to get this show out on itunes for free download weeks ago.  I don’t know why more shows don’t do that.  It creates such buzz). C+

Wednesday-

Survivor: South Pacific- Another guilty pleasure of mine.  Repeating the gimmick from last season the producers have brought back 2 veterans; although, I don’t think either Coach or Ozzy will be able to put on the Survivor school that Boston Rob displayed last season.  They also have Russel Hantz’s nephew to see if villainy runs in the family.  Could do without the Redemption Island gimmick but no favorites so far.  A

The Middle- The funniest show on television that people don’t seem to be watching.  Glad ABC hasn’t given up on it.  Hilarious opening episode on the perils of camping with a family.  Watch this show!!  The kid actors are also the best in television. A+

Modern Family- I hate to say it but I think this show peaked in its first season.  Last season I felt was basically a repeat of the same gags from season 1.  The premiere for season 3 didn’t make me laugh.  I didn’t think the Lilly jokes were funny and the kids on the show are not very good.  Especially Manny is so wooden.  I feel like you can see him thinking of his lines before he says them. C

Up All Night- This is the show I am most excited to tell people about.  I don’t know when I’ve laughed harder at a pilot.  Hopefully the rest of the show will live up to it but the first 2 episodes were hilarious.  It is about a couple who give up their partying ways when they have a baby- a situation that could be ripe with cliches but it all works.  There is a scene where they are changing the baby’s diaper which made me laugh my head off.  The pilot is a free download on itunes right now so check it out!  I want this show to last!  A+

X Factor- American Idol all over again and I’m done with that show why would I tune into this? Nice to see Simon and Paula back together but really I agree with David Spade who said ‘all the good singers have been found’.  They really seem to be digging deep for this show.  D

Thursday-

Project Runway- The new season technically started a month or so ago but I thought I’d mention it.  This season may be the jumping the shark moment for the show.  Last week’s episode where they had to make outfits for a band was terrible.  It looked like a tacky 70’s party.  Maybe all the good designers have been found. I don’t think they’ve  had a really strong season since Christian Seriano won. D

Big Bang Theory-   Another show that peaked in its first season.  The last season was low on laughs and too focused on sexual humor.  I think they need to get back to the ensemble gags that used to work so well.  Its become too Sheldon based. C+

I didn’t watch any premieres Friday or Saturday so that’s it.  I know its a ridiculous amount of television for one human being to watch but I was sick!  If I could only recommend 3 shows it would be Up All Night, the Middle and the Amazing Race.

I Hate Mondays

Today was a very stressful day.  It started with an early, tired morning and the long drive up to the CFO’s office for work.  I was so tired that I stopped to get gas in my car and made the poor choice of getting a diet coke and a doughnut.  What can I say I had a weak moment!  Then it was a busy day at work printing checks and sorting sales tax returns.   Then there was the drive home and 4 more hours of work (until 8 pm so including driving 12 hour day) because I have to take Friday off for Slam the Dam.

I also finally decided to purchase my bus ticket to Las Vegas for Slam the Dam.   On one hand this excited me but on the other it kind of freaked me out.  It is refundable so if something happens like my illness flairs up I can get out of it but it just felt like a large commitment in time and money to this race.  I honestly think I would be less stressed out if I hadn’t been sick all of last week and had hardly any training.  Of course, eating a doughnut and not getting a workout today didn’t help my stress levels.

And then as I was absorbing my feelings I realized I think it is just a Monday.  Monday’s are always the most stressful day of the week for me.  Wouldn’t you agree?  There is always so much to be done- especially on a week where I know I am going to be away or busy later in the week.  It puts extra pressure on Monday.  Plus, it just feels like you are never going to finish everything, fit it all in.

Evidently I’m not the only one who feels this way.   I was texting my trainer about the woes of the day and she agreed with me saying ‘I agree with you on today.  It was a MONDAY.  So glad it is over’.  My thoughts exactly.  She also reminded me to ‘stay positive’ and that ‘everything will be great’ (She is the best.  Such a blessing in my life).  The same sentiment was repeated by my Dad, Mom and many of my friends.  It also helped to hear from a couple of my open water swimming friends about their similar anxieties and worries about racing.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

When you’ve worked so hard for something you just want to do your best.  You want it to be a success. It is easy to analyze every moment you could have done better (ie huge guilt complex over eating a doughnut. As if that is going to stop me from finishing the race!).

Sometimes I am glad I’m single and someone doesn’t have to put up with my stress-out sessions (my Mondays!).  I’ve gotten better at handling things over the years but I still have those days.

There are even songs written about how Monday stinks:

What do you do to handle stress effectively?  How do you face a week full of busyness without feeling a little nuts?   In other words, how do you deal with your Mondays?

I personally am a big believer in processing your emotions honestly and completely.  Even it if seems dumb like the doughnut worry.  If it is adding stress to my life then it is not dumb.  I take a big breath, maybe shed a tear or two, create a plan and give my self as much positive self-talk as possible.

It also helps to deal with the worst possible outcome of the stressful events- to ask What’s the worst that can happen? Usually once I ask this question I realize I can handle it, even if things don’t go my way.   It’s amazing what a difference these techniques can make in my overall well being.  My pulse goes down (sometimes my sugars will literally go down when I manage my stress) and I physically and spiritually feel at peace.

If you want to read a great book on handling stress, depression and anxiety read David Burns classic on cognitive therapy Feeling Good.  One of my roommates gave it to me and it has truly helped me time and again to create plans for dealing with my emotions.  I think it should be  a part of every person’s personal library. (It is over 700 pages so it is better as a reference then to read outright- although I’m sure that would be very helpful).

Some may think it is strange that I admit to such emotional struggles, but I do so because I think everyone deals with these issues in some form or another.  I also want to be clear that my problems are manageable and certainly not the type of debilitating depression and other mental illness that some people face.  My triggers are of the ordinary, garden variety stressors. Perhaps my strategies can help others in some small way?

Also I must say thank goodness for Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights! If I’m having a bad Monday at least I know somewhere out there a celebrity is having a worse night on the ballroom!

 

Masters Swim Meet

I am a Masters swimmer!

Today was another landmark day in my fitness quest!  It was my first US Masters swim meet.  I have not been in a swim meet since 1998 when I was in high school.  What a great thrill to be back on the starting block again competing!

I feel so blessed to have discovered the US Masters organization which lists as its mission statement “U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) is a national organization that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults aged 18 and over. Programs are open to all adult swimmers (fitness, triathlete, competitive, non-competitive) who are dedicated to improving their fitness through swimming.”

Now the question is why did it take me 12 years to find out about this great organization? I guess you find out about things when you are ready to embrace them in life.

Anyway, back to the meet.  Since I had been sick all week I felt anxious about whether I would be able to participate.  Even this morning I woke up with a sore throat, phlegm and a lot of congestion.

However, anyone who knows me, knows I don’t give up easily!  I decided I felt well enough to at least go to the meet, and at minimum, swim the 50 free (for non-swimmers that’s one lap in a typical pool).

The meet was held at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Salt Lake- actually called the Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center- that’s right Wagner!  I didn’t know Wagner was a Jewish name- pretty cool.

Anyway, there wasn’t a huge attendance but those who gathered were wonderfully encouraging and fun.  I have been so impressed by the swimming community in Utah.  There were even some college-level swimmers there; and they were really nice and welcoming.  In fact, one group invited me to join in their swims (its about 25 minutes away but I may get there!).

Everyone cheered on each other and it inspired me to do my best.  Congestion and all I swam all 3 of my races and did as well I could.  (I probably finished last but I didn’t care.)

The hardest race was the 400 meters (or 8 laps). By about lap 5 my lungs were burning and I wondered if I could get through but I pushed onward.  It was really hard but I made it to the end.  I even got almost all of my flip-turns and starts in (the diving platforms were much higher than I remember them being in high school- I would say around 2 ft up!).  Since I have only done about 5 flip-turns in 13 years I felt proud in pulling off so many.

It was a fun day and I think a day my young self would have loved. Its hard to explain, but I feel like in embracing swimming the way I have in the last few months I am now the best version of myself I’ve ever been.  I look great, feel healthy (I think I actually felt endorphins today!) and am having the time of my life!  It seems especially meaningful on a week where nothing went right and my body was fighting me all the way.  Hurray for completing goals!!!

Thank you to all who volunteered  their time to help put on the event on and all who cheered me on.

My times:

50 m- 51.18 sec

200 m- 4 min 57 sec

400 m- 10 min 24 sec

(One funny thing about my swimming is I’m remarkably consistent.  Despite my best efforts to go faster I seem to have about the same lap time no matter what.  The difference between my laps on the 200m and 400m is only 4 seconds!  Of course, the 200 was my last swim so that may account for some of it, but still consistency is my game!)

Here are some photos of the event:

My friend Erin and I

here I am coming out of a flip turn on the 400
swimming in the 400
some of the girls at the meet

Whole Wheat Pancakes

So today I made the most delicious breakfast- whole wheat pancakes.  I LOVE pancakes but most whole wheat are thick and heavy.  These weren’t.  I must admit they tasted particularly good thins morning after having a rocky sleep last night (kept waking up with coughs, the cpap was bothering me etc).  The recipe is from my blogging friend White  Lilly with a few minor modifications from yours truly.

I've been working on learning how to use my pentax. I would like to have better photography for my blog including my food photos. What do you think?

 

WHOLE WHEAT BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk so I made my own using 1 cup 2% milk with 1 T plain vinegar)
2 T oil (didn’t have oil used 2 T butter melted)
1 T honey (used 1 T light agave instead)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
fresh or frozen blueberries (optional)

I like to put peanut butter, and then maple flavored agave on the top to add some protein and a more low GI sugar.

Whisk wet ingredients together, taking care to sufficiently beat the egg. Then add dry ingredients, mixing well. For smoother batter, use electric beaters (I’m usually too lazy to get them out and just mix it by hand). I like to use fresh ground flour, and I prefer to use soft white wheat (aka, whole wheat pastry flour). Hard white wheat will work as well, but if you go to red wheat you will be exchanging a mild flavor for a stronger one. If desired, add three to five blueberries (depending on the size of your pancakes) to each pancake immediately after dropping the batter onto the grill. Do not mix the blueberries all at once directly into the batter; it will just turn the batter blue! Coat a grill with nonstick cooking spray and preheat to 300-325 degrees. You may want to fiddle with the temperature a bit to find out where it’s optimal. If it’s too hot the pancakes will be dark brown. When the batter starts to bubble, gently lift an edge with a spatula; if it’s a light brown/golden color and seems like it will stay intact, then it’s ready to be flipped. Cook on second side for a minute of two, peaking under the edge frequently to make sure it doesn’t get too dark. Sometimes I flip them back over the the first side for several seconds just to make sure that the pancakes are cooked all the way through.

The Relationship Test

As I mentioned in my last post I am kind of clueless when in it comes to relationships.  I have no idea how people find each other and what makes chemistry with seemingly incongruous people work?  It is the great mystery of my life!

Forgive the randomness and rambling nature of this post, but I found this ‘questions to ask yourself about a relationship?’ It made me think about my own answers (and add a few new one’s myself).  Here goes:

1. Describe yourself in a single sentence- Rachel is an independent, modern, Mormon woman who loves her life, family and friends.
2. What would you cook for me?- I think cooking together is fun on a date. Interactive foods such as pizza or egg rolls are fun because people can individualize them which teaches you something about their likes/dislikes.
3. What would you like to change about yourself? I can be a bit of a stress-out at times and I have hard time letting go of grudges.
4. If you could have three wishes, what would they be? (no wish for more wishes) 1. Summers in Hawaii 2. Finally get below 200 and 3. Meet my Mr.  Sunshine
5. Do you make friends easy?  With girls I do.  I seem to have a hard time making friends with boys.  I don’t know if I have ever had a platonic guyfriend.  Not sure why?
6. What’s your idea of the perfect date? A perfect date would be a good meal, with good conversation followed by a concert (Josh Groban or Michael Buble if the guy is really trying to win brownie points!).  I like most anything on a date but I hate it when I have to do all of the talking.
7. Where do you see yourself in five, ten, fifteen years? Maybe this is sad but I’ve never been much of a dreamer.  I am happy with my life and current goals.  Whatever else happens is great.  If you ask what I’d like see is I’d love to be married, have a home, maybe a kid.  I do have a goal of being under 200 by the end of 2012.
8. Who is your favorite hero of all time? My Grandpa Richards and Jesus.
9. Do you consider yourself a happy person? Yes. I have a terrible horrible day on occasion but most of the time I feel happy and grateful.
10. What is your greatest trait, accomplishment, goal for the future.

trait- I am a loyal strong friend who will move waters to help those I love.

accomplishment- A Returned Missionary, a BA and an MBA, finished an open water swim in August and have lost over 50 lbs in the last 20 months. Take your pick on which of these is the greatest accomplishments?

goal for the future- someday live by the ocean and live the best life I can. Someone once told me that having a goal to be ‘happy in my life’ was hedonistic and selfish.  What is the alternative? I’d rather be a hedonist than a masochist.

I’d like to be at 200 lbs by the end of 2012.  Also off of Victoza and out of danger of diabetes asap.  I’d also like to write my weight loss story even if it is just for myself.  I want to keep doing open water swims, each time improving my times and distance.

11. What do you look for in another person? I would like someone that I have chemistry with, that’s fun to talk to, that is ready to be married in the temple, preferably a returned missionary, preferably with higher education and career ambitions, preferably someone interested in families.

12. Must have- temple wedding, active in my church, attractive smile, someone who loves me (an absolute must!), tries to get along with my family and accepts the time commitments that come with swimming in my life.  I also need someone who isn’t intimidated by my family’s success or our family company. (No Daddy’s credit card comments!).

I also have promised myself that I will show my fiance a photo of me at my high weight and if he can’t love that person forget it.  I am not going to live with the fear that if I gain weight I will lose love.  That isn’t real love.   I’d love to meet someone who has also dealt with weight loss.  Its hard for people to understand if you haven’t lived it what the experience is like.

The Not Must Haves but Would be Nice- As far as  particular job or degree that doesn’t matter as much.  I’d like someone who I can talk to.  Someone who is educated and interesting.  Someone who has read a few books (even if they are not the same books I like.  I have long believed that readers understand other readers).

Someone who likes movies and music would be a plus. Also, a real tightwad would get on my nerves as would someone who is too much of a workaholic (one workaholic in a relationship is enough!).  It would be nice if they liked the beach.  I am not the biggest video game fan but I love other types of games. Not a camper and Not an animal person. I also have a high interest in home school but we can figure that out along the way!

13.  What is my greatest turn off on a date?  Well, aside from someone who is touchy-feely that doesn’t deserve it, I hate when guys make me do all the talking.  I know I will do a lot of it, but its nice to have the date contribute topics. I’m open to discussing just about anything including politics, sports, travel, tv, books, anything. My favorite dates are when the conversation flows freely.

14. What is the worst date I have ever been on?  Tough call.  I’ve been on some doozies over the years. One of the worst was with a guyfriend of mine (one of the few I’ve had) in college (I can’t even remember his name!) who was always complaining about never getting a second date.  To help him out I agreed to set up a group date and go with him (my sister, Seth, Emily and this guys roommate were the other couples).

First of all this guy shows up late and says he is having to leave his roommates party in order to come with us (despite the trip being planned weeks in advance).  Then he brought his homework on the date.  During the beautiful baroque concert he kept complaining about how tired he was, and how long it was…Then in the end he kept trying to pick fights with me.  I remember I brought up the most happy comment I could think of “Isn’t it great that they found Elizabeth Smart”.  And I swear somehow he found something to argue about that.

The entire date  Emily and Megan kept looking back at me with sighs of sympathy.   That was the worst date I’ve ever been on. (and to make it worse he tried to put his arm around me in the van- as if!). Let’s just say after that loooong night I understood why he wasn’t getting second dates.  I wonder if I am a dating nightmare like him and don’t even realize it? He had no idea how obnoxious he was (or at least not much of an idea).

Anyway, I don’t know if you would answer these questions in the same way I have.  For instance, what do you think is my greatest trait or accomplishment?  I fear asking you what my greatest weakness is!  I am sure the list is infinite and could be produced with some vigor.

If you had to set me up with a person what characteristics would you look for?

(btw, when you find that person I am totally up for set ups).

As I said at the opening, dating is a mystery that I do not understand.  Sometimes I feel like love is a little like Santa Clause- this grand fairy tale I’ve been told since I was a girl but I never seem to see.

Oh well, I am focusing on getting 100% better and swimming in my meet on Saturday (first one in 13 years!).  Then I have Slam the Dam next Saturday!

The right person will come along.  I have no doubts about that.  Really.  No doubts.  He may appear differently than each piece of this test but I’m sure Mr.  Sunshine will be all I need because I’m already happy all by myself. I’m not just saying that to sound strong.  I really am HAPPY ALL BY MYSELF. 

A Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

When I was little one of my favorite books was Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.  In the book Alexander has a string of bad luck including such tough events as slipping on his skateboard, being stuck in the back on carpool, losing his best friend, and no desert with lunch.  Alexander wishes he could go to Australia and be rid of his bad day.

The thing I enjoy most about the book is there is no happy ending to the day or ice cream cone to make everything better.  It simply says:

“My mom says days are like that…even in Australia.”

Isn’t it the truth? There are some days that just stink and where everything feels hard.  I think it is great to let kids know they are OK if they have a bad day.

Today was a bad day for me.  It actually started last night where my wicked sinus troubles turned into a full-blown ear infection.  My ears hurt like I was descending on an airplane and they were about to burst.  Luckily I had some old drops from a previous ear infection and that helped alleviate some of the pain.  Nevertheless, it was hard to sleep.

Naturally I woke up cranky and less than rested.  I had such visions for the week.  I was going to train every day and be a wiz in the pool for the upcoming meet on Saturday.  Then the meet was going to propel me towards glory in the Slam the Dam race in Vegas next Saturday.

I was caught up with most work projects and was looking forward to a productive, fulfilling work-week as well as a number of social activities.  Then Saturday, the sore throat came, Sunday the cough and by Monday I was a snot-filled, wheezing machine.

“Take the day off Monday.  You’ll bounce back”.  I said with great optimism.  Now Thursday is fast approaching and no training has been done. I am totally unprepared for the meet on Saturday (if I get to attend at all) and my work-week has been thin at best.  (Let’s just say its a miracle I work from home and have been able to squeeze my hours in. )

I also missed church, FHE, visiting teaching, voice lessons, 3 sessions with various trainers and anything else that would be uplifting or exciting during the week. Most importantly I went without crucial training time that I really needed to be ready for my events.  Instead, I’ve spent the last 5 days sniffling through a box of tissues until my nose is raw and sore and watching Toddlers and Tiaras and wondering ‘why anyone who isn’t sick watches these shows?’

So as you can imagine it was a cranky, sore and stuffy Rachel that went to the doctors this morning and as always they were thoroughly unhealthful, unsympathetic and ponderous but provided me with the most-needed prescriptions.  I was on my way.

This is where I made a fatal error.  Last week I had been to my OBGYN who had given me a medicine that is not covered by insurance.  She recommended I fill the prescription at Costco so I decided to fill all 3 of mine today, including the antibiotic.  After spending over $200 (I always do at Costco! ) and waiting over an hour (20 minutes my foot!) I finally got my prescriptions and $196 later I was out the door.  Did the Costco employees box my stuff up like they usually do?  No.  I had to find boxes myself.

Luckily I had some help loading my car which of course was a block away in the massive Costco parking lot.  By the time I got home I was exhausted but could I rest, no.  I had to lug all of the perishables up to my 2nd story apartment without any assistance (Downside to living alone…).

After 3 trips to the car and back I began to put items in the fridge and freezer.  Unfortunately in my haste to be done I inadvertently left the freezer door open and WHACK!  My head and the door met in a loud crack.  Let’s just say while there may not be a concussion, a goose egg there most definitely will be.  With a slam I packed the rest of the perishables in the door and cried.

I, like Alexander, wonder why does everything have to be so freakin hard? Why can’t I just lose weight like a normal person?  How come Jennifer Hudson can lose 100 lbs in a year and have a baby while I am still 262 with PCOS, pre-diabetes, a painful ear infection and a head that’s throbbing like one of those old Looney Toon cartoons after a character gets hit with an anvil?

I also have no relationship or even a dating life (although how one develops a dating life is beyond me! What does that even mean? Please someone tell me what living in a dating life is like? How does anyone actually get together, and even more so, how do all these plus size girls I know meet people?  I find it so difficult and losing the 50 lbs hasn’t helped one bit. In a way, it is easier to be fat and single because at least they aren’t rejecting me for my personality or so I thought…)

In addition, I’m going through money like it is candy (Whoever said exercise/healthy living is cheap is insane. Since the beginning of August I have spent at least $750 on my 2 trainers, equipment, entry fees, and that doesn’t include my gym membership or medical expenses. Not to mention the added expenses healthy eating adds (most of the time at least)).  I don’t have debt but I never seem to be able to save!

Its like I’m a cliched character at the beginning of a romantic comedy except without the sarcastic best friend or the  boy who secretly likes me but ‘we’re just friends’.

I just want to swim in my race and do my best.  Is that too much to ask?  I’m reminded of one of my favorite books by Norah Ephron called I Feel Bad About My Neck.  In one section entitled Exercise she says:

“I would like to be in shape.  I have a friend who gets up every morning at 5 am and essentially does a triathlon.  I’m not exaggerating. She is Ironwoman…A few summers ago I decided to do some swimming, and within a week I had swimmer’s ear.  Have you ever had it? It’s torture…My own theory about Van Gogh is that he cut off his ear because he’d made the mistake of taking up swimming…”

She goes on

“I myself swing between two universes.  I spend time getting into shape; then something breaks, and then I spend time recovering and then something new breaks.  So far, in the breakage department I have managed the following:  I pulled my lower back doing sit ups; I threw  out my right hip on the treadmill; I got shin splints from jogging and I entirely destroyed my neck just from rolling over in bed. ”

“A few years ago I made the mistake of confusing the movie Chicago with an exercise video.  It was, without question, the greatest exercise video I have ever had.  I could lift weights forever while watching it.  For the first time in my exercising life, I was never bored….But after 3 weeks I woke up one morning in horrible pain and I couldn’t move my arms. ”

“Millions of dollars in doctor’s fees later, it turned out that I had not one but two frozen shoulders, the result of lifting too many weights for far too long.  It took 2 years for those frozen shoulders to mostly thaw, and in the meantime, I had pretty much resigned myself to the prospect of never being able to scratch my own back…But I am now exercising again.  I have a trainer.  I have a treadmill.  I have my TV set over the treadmill.  I exercise almost 4 hours a week and I would rather be in Philadelphia (although not in labor!).”

There is something cathartic about reading her words because while I (knock on wood) am not prone to broken bones, it seems the pantheon of other illnesses is awakened when I set a goal or try to push myself in my training.

When I was in college two of my friends entered the St. George Marathon and upon proudly finishing they had to be sent to the hospital for an IV and treatment.  I always found it such a hollow victory when they would say ‘at least we made it to the end’.

Now I get it.  If I am in that race October 1st and they take me to the hospital after I finish it will be a victory- at least I will have ‘made it to the end’.  All of Satan’s minions could try to keep me from that race, but I will swim if it kills me.  Ok.  Maybe not kill me, but still, I get the victory of their hospital-lain achievement and it’s certainly going to take A LOT for me to give up.

Setting and keeping goals is tough because life gets messy.  People have no idea how hard it is to get into shape and on days like these I wish the ‘fat haters’ could walk in my shoes, and feel how I feel especially when they are prone to criticize the obese and heavy.  It’s really hard and the days of agony far outweigh the days of fulfillment.  That’s the way it is.

As Alexander’s mom says “Some days are like that”…

To having a better day tomorrow, to antibiotics working, and to being able to complete my goals somehow, someway.  Thank you everyone for your friendship, love and prayers.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I am going to watch Survivor and the premieres of Modern Family and The Middle- yeah!  Premiere week! On days like this I love TV!  (Except for Toddlers and Tiara’s- it will only make you feel bad about the world!)

I also understand that in the scope of human travails mine are at the bottom of the totem pole but as my aunt Chris once said in a prayer ‘Our problems are small but they are difficult for us and we need help”.

Ingrid Michaelson

So today I am sick again.  Sick and trying to work and keep my mind off of being sick.  One of my strategies aside from using an entire box of tissues,  is listening to music.

(Isn’t it strange how such a sad song can make me feel so much better?  I don’t understand how that works but I love it.)

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE music!  I have done many entries on various music groups and songs that I love, but today I found myself turning back to one of my favorite artists, Ingrid Michaelson.  In 2009 Anna and I saw Ingrid live and it was a fantastic experience.  This is true despite the fact that it was in a tiny club, with no seating- a situation I normally despise.  She was so warm, personable and her voice so wonderful that she won me over in spite of my circumstances.   It is exactly how I would wish to sound if I could sing well. Her songs are just what I would want to write if I could translate the thoughts in my heart adequately.

The way that Ingrid came to fame is emblematic  of the major changes that have occurred in the music industry in recent years.  With the near-death of album sales to the mp3 world of Itunes, there are basically two ways an artist can become well-known:

1.  He or she can get their music featured on itunes or amazon.com.  Usually this is after developing an internet following and being picked up by a major label.  Three examples of this that come to mind are Jack Johnson, Colbie Caillat and Priscilla Ahn.  All were popular on myspace or youtube and then featured as ‘free singles’ by Itunes.

2.  The second way is to be featured on a television show such as American Idol or the Voice, or to have your music used within a popular  show, movie or advertisement.  The examples of this range from the Fray being discovered as the theme song to Grays Anatomy, to Regina Spektor headlining a target ad, to Cold Play (and a million other artists) getting a start in an apple ad.

Ingrid Michaelson is no stranger to such promotion her songs have been all over shows like Greys Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Drop Dead Diva, and ads for Motts Apple juice and Old Navy.   You think the musical purist in me would have a problem with such a commercial thinning of my favorite most beautiful music but I don’t.  I think music has always been a commercial endeavor simply because of a need on the part of the artist to survive- and hopefully thrive! In some ways the commercial potential opens the doors to artists that could never have seen the album covers in the old days of dusty bars and agents.

This song was on a Greys Anatomy show but I still LOVE IT!

By placing her music where people are actually going to hear it, Ingrid not only entertains a wider swath of people and creates new fans, but she educates and widens their musical palate.   Even as a big fan, there have been times when I’ve heard a song on a show, and then realized it was on an Ingrid album I’d listened to a 100 times and never noticed it before.  I think it is great that people will hear a new song and think of the artistic director’s interpretation first, and then hopefully by listen 20 or 30, they have come up with their own views.  Ingrid’s songs have such depth to allow for such diverse interpretations.

Even her largest hit Be Ok has undertones of sadness if you listen to the lyrics and set aside the peppy melody.   One of the verses says:

“Open me up and you will see
I’m a gallery of broken hearts
I’m beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts”

I don’t know how many times I listened to that seemingly happy song before I realized there was another layer.  To me, such realizations are the beauty of art and music. Its what makes a painting profound every time you look at it, or a song touching each time you sing it- there is no end to the layers of thought and introspection beautiful things can provide.

What would it be like to write a line, a verse, a song, with that kind of power?  I marvel with envy at those with such talents.  When I was in college I had to write a poem for a class and it was rough going.  It took me almost 2 weeks to write a pathetic little couplet.  I think I was born to appreciate others gifts and Ingrid certainly fills me with such gratitude.

Not only does she write the words so achingly and beautifully well but she sings them perfectly also.  It inspires me in many ways.  All beauty inspires me.  After all, as a mantra of my faith I seek after anything “virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy”.

Anyway, I love Ingrid Michaelson.  Its tough to say who I love better Ingrid Michaelson or Sara Barrielles?  They are both fabulous!  Here are some of my favorite of her songs.  Go- check them both out and have even your sick days made lighter by beautiful music. 🙂

This is one of my current favorite Ingrid songs

I’ve never heard a version of this song I haven’t loved.  I have 13 different versions on my ipod!