Favorite Wall in Austin for Blog 2

The Past is Still Recorded Online

This blog is out of use and out of date. I am now posting on mercedesorten.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Rush After A Speech and Best Packaging of The Year 2009 #best09

December 14 Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?

I stood up in front of my running group this past summer to do a short, ten minute seminar on visualization during the marathon. The speech went enormously well, and due to the nature of the speech itself demanding 100% of the listeners attention, it was an amazing experience. During the talk, I had everyone take and easy seat and move up close to the stage. I spoke in a hushed, subdued tone and asked them to close their eyes and visualize the feel of the race that was ahead of them. I could feel the energy of fifty people focusing on one thing buzzing around me. I finished my speech and looked out at the crowd sitting just a few feet from me. Everyone was quiet and for an intstant all I could hear was breathing. They were all still basking in the imaginary finish of their marathon. It was a beautiful moment with me being the one of the only people with their eyes open and I could see it in each of their face. I could see the joy and accomplishment in each of their faces as they sat there for that brief moment and watched themselves accomplish a huge goal like the marathon. A rush of pure, sweet, albeit breif happiness and satisfaction washed over me and I exhaled. It was amazing. Then they opened their eyes.

December 15 Best packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

I loved the packaging that my partner's mom used to give us her currently-not-being used margarita glasses, red wine glasses and white wine glasses. Each glass stood up on its own and was protected by foam walls. They are great glasses, too! Great packaging.

Current book I'm reading: "Reading Like A Writer" By Francine Prose

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Friday, December 11, 2009

3 bests in 1! The Best Place---Best New Food--- & Best Change Made to my House of 2009 #best09

December 11 The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

My best place of 2009 is easily within the forest of the Indian Peaks near Granby, Colorado. It is one of the best places in the world to me primarily because every year I go there for a week long backpacking trip with the people that I love most. The quiet and the beauty of this stretch of the Rocky Mountains is unmatched in my mind. It helps that I turn off the cell phone, I forget about email and I just let myself be an exist with just a backpack, a sleeping bag and a water filter. My favorite view within the Indian Peaks is pictured here, it is a view of a peak called Lone Eagle taken by my dad, Jerry. Next year, we plan to scramble up this puppy. I've only been at the base of it so far and I can't wait for the challenge!

December 12 New food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

The new food that I have fallen in love with in 2009 is not really new to me at all. It is just...different. It is now home-made. You see, very recently, I became friends with a spunky young hippie who landed in Austin from the Northwest. She introduced me to her HOME-MADE BREAD. From the moment I first tasted it, I was crazy about the sweet, light, fresh fluffiness of her bread. And the crisp of her crust! It was divine! And so I requested that my new friend come over to my house and teach me how she makes it. And she consented. And we did. I learned how to make it and I think that I've officially fallen in love with home-made bread this year. I've made several different variations on what she taught me and I have a feeling that this love affair with bread will become more involved and even more delicious in the future.

December 13 What's the best change you made to the place you live?

The best change made to my house: the addition of a gorgeous, sweet, loving mini schnauzer named Murphy...

Photo taken by RC COLA

We added a small animal to our home. I've always been a dog-lover and I always said to myself that I would wait until the time was right to get a dog. And so, I loved on all of my friend's dogs up to this point. Then, an amazing opportunity landed at my feet. I had the chance to adopt a well-trained, older, wonderful dog whom I already knew. A good friend's estranged ex-boyfriend abandoned this gorgeous, six-year old, well behaved mini schnauzer named Murphy. I can't understand why he would ever leave this pup. Of course, me and mine scooped him up and took him in. We adopted him and added him to our household. It has taken a lot of adjustment for me and a lot of training on his (and my) part but he is becoming a better dog day by day. His playful spirit and tendency for cuddling enriches my life tenfold day by day as well. He's small and portable and he loves you if you are sad and celebrates with you if you are happy. I walk him every day and those walks have also enriched my life. I think of new poems and twists to my short stories on those walks. I clear my head and give myself wholly to this wonderful animal during these walks. This addition is one that I never want to part with. Who would? He's just too adorable!

Current book I'm reading: The Virigin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best Album of 2009 - #best09

December 10 Album of the year. What's rocking your world?

I discovered Band of Horses this year. They've been around for a while, but I wasn't aware of them until this year. The album that rocked my world actually came out in 2006. Disregard that. It's great, and I love it. My dad and I both love it, and I enjoy sharing music with my dad. It is Band of Horses "Everything All The Time" and it has one of the most awesome songs on it called "The Funeral."

My dad sent me a video with the song "The Funeral" in the background a few months ago. I was hooked upon my first listen. After hearing the song in several spin classes shortly after my dad sent the song, "The Funeral" soon became my seize the day anthem of choice. It is an incredibly powerful song about living life to the fullest. The album, also, is incredible. Check out Band of Horses and all of their work!

I'm thankful that my dad bought and shared the album with me as we drove up to Telluride, Colorado for vacation over the summer. I have great memories of this band and all of their work. Also, I just love indie rock. It rocks my world.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bestof09 Moment of Peace (8th) and Challenge That Made Me Grow (9th)

December 8 Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude.
What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did
you get there?

This past Spring, I did yoga on the beach of Mustang Island State Park. My friends and I had camped there the night before, and as I was running on the beach the morning after sleeping on it, I thought of how nice it would be to do yoga in the sand as the sun rose. I ate a small snack, I hadn't had breakfast yet. My stomach was pretty empty which is ideal for practicing yoga. I went to the edge of the water where the sand is just hard enough so that you do not sink too deeply into it. I did yoga there for an hour or so, barely conscious of the world waking up around me. I looked only out at the water of the Gulf, I opened my heart to the sea. My friend R joined me and practiced next to me for a while, but I hardly noticed her there aside from hearing her deep breathe. I was in the middle of a upward dog when tears came to the sides of my eyes. I felt my chest opening so wide and my breathe coming in so deeply that I began to cry from the sheer excellence of it all. In the middle of this realization I think my friend stopped doing yoga and walked off to get her camera. She took photos of me and I continued to pretend that the world was just me and the water. It was a fun game. I listened to the waves, watched the sun turn golden on the water and I felt the sweet saltiness of the breeze. As I did king pigeon and I stared out at the water and I was so wrapped up in the beauty of the moment that I almost felt I could see myself, look at myself from the outside to the in. I was transparent, then. I felt so much power, gratitude, self-worth, healing, and peace in that moment. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life and I found it thanks to the beauty of the beach and my ever-growing yoga practice. And I will remember that peace of mind that I felt then and henceforth for years to come because I connect back with it daily ever since then.

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year.
That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best
challenge of the year for you?

I was talking with a treasured friend and confidante of mine. We were talking about my career and future plans. I finally admitted to her (and to myself) that I wanted to be a writer and a coach and that these were my passions. Firstly, it had taken me a majority of the year to admit this to myself---so that admittance alone was a step and a very difficult one at that. Upon my telling her this, she threw something at me that I was not prepared to handle. She told me point blank that currently, from her perspective, I was doing it all wrong and that I was going about life all wrong. She said that she saw the way I was living and the way that I was living was draining my life energy. I balked. My throat was dry. No one had been so bold and laid it out so plainly to me before this time. I cried, realizing she was right. I have changed my methods since then and I have began to move in new directions. Slowly, but surely. That conversation was one of the hardest of my life and it brought me to my edge because I finally realized what I was doing wrong. My treasured friend challenged the way that I currently look at my world - my employment, my relationships and my art. Since that conversation I feel as if I am slowly breaking out of my old ways, forging a new way of looking at myself and my life as an artist. It is extremely difficult to create this new path. That conversation was extremely difficult for me but necessary for me to grow. I can't keep doing what I've always done. I need to blossom out of this frozen shell that has done it the same way for the past three years and shake it up.

This was the best challenge of the year for me because it forced me to really evaluate what I was doing with my life and it forced me to evaluate if what I was doing each day was or was not bringing me closer to my goal of becoming a coach and an artist. At that point, I wasn't doing anything that brought me closer to these ends. Thanks to the tireless help of my significant other and thanks to many of my dear friends, I have started on a path that is taking me closer to my newly realized goals. I must say, the path has been very rocky but I love the rocks and I feel divine.

Current book I'm reading: Almost finished with "The Sister" by Kaufmann

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Bestof#09 Blog(s) of the Year - The Blog I Found That I Can NOT LIVE WITHOUT!

December 7 Blog find of the year. That gem of a blog you can't believe
you didn't know about until this year.

It is so terribly hard to choose just one best blog of 09! And so, alas, I have two blogs that I really love and feel I can't live without! I am making my own rules with this blog challenge. I like that.

The first blog that I love is called A Print A Day. Yasmine is an amazing artist who creates Parasol Magazine - a magazine highlighting OTHER artist's work. Her blog details and outlines her own, fascinating and adorable work. Every time I read her blog I'm inspired by her. Plus she has free downloads! On her blog, you can download notepads, calendars, patterns, etc for your personal use. This blog is simply wonderful and Yasmine is a wonderful soul who I'm glad I found in blog-land.

Another blog that I came about very recently is that of The Stylist Wander. This is an incredible style blog comprised of mostly pictures which is written by a high school girl who is passionate about vintage, thrift and style. The artistic photos of her outfits that she posts and the raw creativity in the way that she dresses is very inspiring to me. Her love affair with vintage is one that I share and I frequently check her blog for new wardrobe ideas. Her uniqueness and tact are also very admirable to me for someone so young. I can no longer live without reading her blog, either!

Current book I'm reading: The Sister: A Novel of Emily Dickinson by Paula Kaufmann

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Friday, December 04, 2009

#best09...Best Book, Best Night Out, Best Workshop/Conference

December 4 Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were
you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

The best book that I read this year easily is Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. McCarthy is a master. He has a simple, succinct style that I appreciate, admire and enjoy reading. This was one of his more amazing books...once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.

December 5 Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved
one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of
the night?

I am having a hard time picking just one day in one best night out. I sort of have two homes...one is in Texas and one is in Colorado. So I'll pick one best night from each place!

ONE BESTOF AUSTIN NIGHT: The best night out of the year in AUSTIN was the day that one of my favorite people in the world was visiting Austin. My best friend from back home, Carrie, a RECENT NY LAW SCHOOL GRAD came to visit me this summer. It was a Friday night. Most of my Friday nights are not complete without a visit to Yoga Vida 707 - a hot yoga studio. And so, me and like 8 of my friends went and did yoga at the studio. We had an amazing, clarifying practice with one of my favorite yoga instructors, Vic, and then we went out to dinner at the nearby Lambert's BBQ. It was delicious. The yoga. The food. The drinks. But most of all, the company. I enjoyed everything about the night, including the effortlessness of it all and the fact that almost all of my dear friends were in the same place at the same time. It truly was a night to remember.

THE OTHER BESTOF COLORADO NIGHT: The best night of the year in COLORADO was the night of my cousin's wedding November 14, 2009. We were nestled in a gorgeous restaurant on the side of a mountain in Beaver Creek called the Chop House. We celebrated my cousin's love with lots of champagne, wine, and continuous dancing as puffy white snowflakes fell outside. My family was together and we celebrated like crazy. It was the most fun I've ever had at a family wedding! The night did not end, though. Once we got back to the condo we capped the trip off with a hot tub dip while the snow was still softly coming down. I remember feeling the flakes falling on my face in the hot tub. I was so warm and the flakes were so icy cold, but they felt oddly good. It was an amazing night.

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop
you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did
you learn?

The best workshop I experienced this year was one in association with a group of folks that I know who were reading the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. In the workshop, we created vision boards of our futures as writers and artists and we shared them with the group. It was one of the most transformative workshops I've ever been to and that particular day, I feel, was instrumental in me "coming into my own" as an artist.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Best of Challenge 12/2 - Best Eatin' Place and 12/3 Best Article---Together In One Post

December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you
had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands
out in your mind?

My best TWO restaurant moments of my year have both been at the same local neighborhood restaurant...each time with different people. The restaurant is Somino's Cafe on S. 1st Street and I have been there with Liz for the first time and with my parents for the second time. I actually think that favorite restaurants need to be tested multiple times to ensure quality. So I'll go there again and again and...again just to be sure it was super good the first time. Needless to say, Somino's has quickly become my favorite restaurant in Austin. I will go there at the drop of a hat. The first time I went to this amazing cafe, I did not know what to expect from a small 1950s house converted very recently into a restaurant. I was completely blown away by the three courses and the amazing salad named after a character in Urban Cowboy and the delectable French Onion soup. The entree also blew my mind and made my tummy and heart feel good because all the ingredients were local, organic and grass fed. Liz and I went there together one afternoon on a weekend, and we had a great view of the creek from our quaint window table. Our server was talkative and helpful but not too much so and the food, as I mentioned, was local, organic and grass fed, leaving me with a wonderful feeling while I was eating and after we were done eating. The menu changes daily depending on what ingredients are available and it feels like you stepped into your friend's kitchen to eat, but nicer, cuter and more down-to-earth Austin.

The second time I went to this restaurant it was to celebrate my mom's birthday. My mom has quite a few food allergies and is lactose intolerant so it is hard for her to eat out. She was so happy when we got there to find that the servers and the cooks were both willing to work with her to find something that she would like. Both my mom and I ended up getting the stuffed tomato, which was the most incredible thing I have ever tasted. The tomato was stuffed with butternut squash and nuts, and it had a juicy, warm and sweet taste which was punctuated by the crunch of a pecan. The tomato rested on a bed of vegan mashed potatoes and those were to die for. I lamented at the fact that the French Onion soup was not on the menu that day, but I rejoiced to find out that my mom and my dad both thoroughly enjoyed their meal and walked away from the restaurant saying "We love Austin, it's like a better, less uppity version of Boulder." I liked that. My mom actually said that. Did I mention the restaurant is BYOB and that Sugar Mama's Bake Shop is less than 2 blocks away? Yes. It's true. After having that delectable birthday dinner for my mom at Somino's, we capped off the night at Sugar Mama's where my mom tweaked out to find chocolate amaretto vegan cupcakes. They had VEGAN buttercream frosting. My mom had never loved a cupcake that much before. She was thrilled at the consistency and taste of the buttercream, as well as the cupcake itself. That dinner and that dessert was the best of 09 for me. Seeing my mom so happy on her birthday just pretty much made my year.

December 3 Article. What's an article that you read that blew you
away? That you shared with all your friends. That you Delicious'd and
reference throughout the year.

I often enjoy reading self-help or training related articles online. I have many favorite training articles, but I think for this #best09 challenge I'll choose the former style of article that I enjoy. I benefit from the amazing blog Zen Habits and many of the articles on there have changed my life. They have changed the way I think and develop ideas and habits specifically and I am so appreciative of that. I discovered Zen Habits last year, though. This year, I discovered a blog called Think Simple Now and I like it for the same reasons that I like Zen Habits. It helps me streamline and organize my thoughts and emotions. The article that I think really stuck with me was one entitled "Find Clarity In One Day" and I found a lot of the ideas in it pertinent and helpful to finding solace, peace, and freedom in one day. Just the idea in and of itself, that a person can find inner peace in one day is completely fascinating to me. The fact that the article illustrates that it is possible to find it is quite wonderful and refreshing to me. The idea that clarity is possible and can be found just in one day is something that I think every person could benefit from if they just took the time to let themselves try.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Challenges Abound! The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge and NaNoWriMo

I recently completely a challenge this past November. I participated in National Novel Writing Month on NaNoWriMo.org and I completed a 50,000 page novel. I responded well to having a daily word count goal and meeting that goal consistently as the month progressed. My novel is a Mystery/Thriller and it is about a thirty year old former law student named Jay who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. Jay comes upon an unconscious, young girl while he is hiking along and he decides to help her. At first, she doesn't remember her name or where she is from but as they hike along bits of her life start coming back to her. Her mysterious circumstances lead them on a facinating journey of discovery, risk and healing. I like the story. I never thought that I would write a thriller but the idea came to me and I just went with it! I would like to thank NaNoWriMo for helping me write my second novel and let's hope that I can take both novels off the shelf and throw them into the editing phases in the near future.

And now, for another challenge. One for the month of November. Thanks to Gwen Bell I came upon this challenge to blog on every single day of December. This will truly be a challenge for me because I don't make it a habit of being online on weekends or holidays but when I need to, I will stack two short blog entries together and spit them out to meet this goal. Here goes...

Today is December 1st! Can you believe it!?

And the blog topic for today is: December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

I traveled quite a bit this year for triathlon, to visit family, and of course, for pleasure. My favorite trip, though is actually one that I embarked upon while in the city limits of Austin. That trip was the 2009 Longhorn 1/2 Ironman. I traveled 70.3 miles in less than 6 hours. I traveled back fairly close to where I started, which I think makes the 1/2 Ironman a trip in every sense of the word. The best part of all was the intensity of those moments at and before the finish line. I was first greeted by two of my favorite people in the world: my parents. Then I got a legendary hug from my training partner, Jennifer. And then I got hugs and congratulatory words from Rand, Kyla, Betty, Frank, Jeff, Mylessa, Corrie, Joe and Liz. It was the best trip because it was one that I had been anticipating for months. It was the best trip because I had everyone that meant something to me in the same place cheering me on while I took it. It was the best trip because since I was a kid I've always wanted to make it to the end of 70.3...and I did. October 25, 2009 was a special day for me and it will remain special to me for the rest of my life. The feelings of joy, elation, and accomplishment I had at the finish line of that trip are the stuff that a great life is made of. That great life is mine!

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I am a marathoner. That means I have a tummy that could sieze a spider.