December 31, 2010

Playlist: Ladies of the Eighties

The end of the year always makes me sentimental. I tend to go way back though, to my childhood. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and this is the music I remember listening to. Some of these women were role models and some, well not so much, but the songs stick in your brain.

Some of this music may have been recorded in the early 90s but the artist's career began or took off in the 80s.

Disclaimer: Many of these are guilty pleasures and quite cheesy. Enjoy with crackers.

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December 29, 2010

"2010: Just Keep Swimming" Meet "2011: The Next Level"

2010 has been a very incredible year. I competed in my first adventure race, began yoga teacher training, served on the Board of Directors for The Women's Wilderness Insitute, had three great trips to Albquerque to spend time with wonderful friends, and made my first trip to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market for more amazing times with great friends.

Unfortunately, it was also a scary and sad year. In April my dad was hospitalized with pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism. I am in my thirties and while I know it's possible to lose a parent at any time, that was a firm reminder that it can happen any time. Luckily my dad pulled through but there were a few rough months following while he got his strength back.

Then as you may know, this last October I lost Murphy. My sweet Pomeranian was my best friend of 11 years, and truly the loss rocked my world.  My eating habits went to Hades, my exercise routine was sporadic, and my yoga was at about 30% effort than I normally give. I gained about 8lbs. Not good.

So while 2010 was incredible, the setbacks along the way set the tone for the year "Just Keep Swimming". And I did.

Now with 2011 approaching I give it the theme "The Next Level". In this year I will:
  • Complete yoga teacher training.
  • Compete in another adventure race along with a few more races.
  • Improve my cooking and eating habits (I've bought myself a juicer and a food steamer for Christmas in hope of improving my eating habits at home and so far they're helping.)
  • Make bike commuting easier by adding a rack and trunk bag to my bike.
  • Begin teaching yoga.
  • Keep reading and hopefully add more books with the addition of cardio exercise accompanied by books on Mp3.
  • Keep providing a good home for the kitties including the newest edition, Finn. (yeah, I know I sound like a cat lady).
  • Have at least one great adventure away from home (maybe Wanderlust?)

So there my theme for 2011. They're not resolutions. No drastic changes to my life, just kicking things up a bit. What's your theme? What is going to set 2011 apart from 2010?

December 28, 2010

Chai Granola Recipe

Last week in the midst of gift giving I wanted to make something homemade and delicious but honestly was tired of the recipes I have used over the last few years. Then it hit me, most people like granola and most people I know love chai so why not combine them. I noticed there were a few recipes online but none really did it for me, so I made my own. This makes a very large batch so you may want to half the ingredients.

4 Cups Whole Oats
3/4 Cup Raw Shelled Sunflower Seeds
3/4 Cup Raw Shelled Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Cup Flax Seed
2 TBSP Ground Cinnamon
2 TBSP Ground Nutmeg
2 TBSP Ground Cardamom
3/4-1 Cup Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together oats and seeds in a large bowl. Mix together spices in a smaller bowl. Combine oats, seeds, and spices. Once the mixture is thoroughly blended add in Maple Syrup, to taste.

Spread mixture evenly onto parchment lined baking sheets. It took three baking sheets for my large batch. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the oven and how well you like your granola toasted. To vary the granola you may want to add dried fruit (apples or bananas would be good).

I presented mine in cellophane gift bags and canning jars. The granola is great in yogurt, on ice cream, or with milk. Enjoy!

December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice: The Longest (Laziest) Night of the Year

I used to be a night owl. Mornings were brutal, evening was my time to shine. In the last few years that has changed for me. I think a good part of the reason for change is more body awareness.

My yoga practice has helped me recognize and explore the connection between my body, mind, and soul. I quit drinking coffee in April. I sleep when I am tired. I thrive in the sunlight. In the summer I am up until 10:30 and easily back up as soon as the sun rises. I get a lot done. So this year when the time shifted and the days began to get shorter I was in for a world of fatigue.

I have a really hard time mustering the energy to do things at night. Once I get home it is there I want to stay, no more wandering out and about to meet friends or hit a yoga class. While I am productive in the evening with crafting, talking with friends, and my yoga practice that window for productivity has shrunk. By 8:30 I am ready to wind down and go to sleep.

I am quite thankful for this awareness I have of my body, mind, and spirit. I haven't been sick nearly as often as I have in past winters. While the holidays have been hard because it's the first year without Murphy, they don't have the normal stress associated with them. My emotions and such feel more in balance.

That being said I am so thankful that today brings the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year. The Longest (and for me, Laziest) night of the year. As tomorrow comes to dawn the days will be longer, my energy levels will grow, and the beautiful cycle begins again.

Happy Solstice!

December 17, 2010

Champion's Cold Weather Gear

My training has always slowed down during the winter as generally I go indoors and hit the treadmill. While the fact that I keep up the cardio is good, the fact that it's mostly on the treadmill is bad. When it comes to running outdoors after a lot of time inside it's not always easy to keep myself motivated. If you stop on the treadmill you fall and it hurts. Outdoors it's much easier to cut the run short.

I decided this year would be different and I would keep training outdoors. I knew with the appropriate clothing I could easily run in the cold while staying comfortable but wasn't sure where to start. I got a hold of Champion and found out they have some great cold weather gear to keep me comfy.

With cold weather running and cycling clothing the priorities are minimal bulk, comfortable warmth (without being hot), and moisture-wicking. I was fortunate to try out two items that fit the bill. I have worn these for winter cycling, completing a 5K and snowshoeing. They're versatile and a great buy!

Double Dry® Ultimate Quarter-Zip Women's Top 
The first thing that surprised me about this top is how soft it is, it doesn't have a scratchy tag, and the seams are minimalistic (read: non-chafing). It is so comfy I have fallen asleep in it a few times. Functionally, it wicks moisture well while maintaining a low profile. The quarter-zip neck allows you to control the ventilation a bit and even when fully zipped it's comfortable. You don't feel like you're being strangled and the zipper is guarded by fabric, so no rubbing on your neck and chin. Of course my favorite feature is the thumbholes. I don't always run with gloves on so in winter I like extra long sleeves that shield my hands a bit. The thumbholes keep them in place. Another nice feature is bit of reflective element to the top. It's not an obnoxious design, just a smart addition in the right spots. 

Double Dry® Ultimate Women's Running Tights
I never thought I would be comfortable in running tights. I was pleasantly surprised by this pair. They're easy to get on thanks to a generous ankle zipper. They're a great length, a little long my short frame but didn't leave me with a ton of excess fabric. The waist tie is easy to use and conceals well. There is also a nice slim pocket with hidden exterior-access with a zipper. I never care for the interior pocket for keys, I always feel like any onlookers would think I was playing with my undies rather than trying to get my key out. While these tights are light weight and a thin, soft material they're also warm enough for winter sports.

December 8, 2010

You Get What You Need

The Sunday following Thanksgiving, The Womens Wilderness Institute hosted a celebration of gratitude in cooperation with the Colorado Mountain Club and the American Alpine Museum. I signed up to volunteer and man the sign-in table. It had been a long weekend of work, homework for Yoga Teacher Training and the general holiday stuff and I was ready to just sit at the table and smile and greet people.

Upon arrival I was asked if I could belay on the rock wall. A few volunteers weren't able to make it and I had my gear so of course I was in. While not a hardcore physical activity, belaying takes a lot of mental focus especially when belaying those new to climbing and children. So truth be told it took a few minutes to shift from my plan of sitting and greeting to being very active and engaged.

As I began to work with my first pair of climbers I could see the universe's plan unfolding a bit. After a weekend of studying for Yoga Teacher Training there was a lot of self-doubt beginning to brew. Would I be able to convey instructions in a way that people could understand? Am I really cut out to teach when there will always be so much to learn? How would my students respond to me?

All of that went out the window when I began to help two teenage girls with their first ever climbing experience. Not only was I going to be belaying but I would be teaching. I got them geared up so they were comfortable and felt safe. I taught them how to tie-in and the basic commands a climber needs to know. As one would climb I was able to watch her, provide coaching, and still answer the questions of the other girl about belaying and technique. All in all, I managed a lot in a very isolated area and window of time. I didn't think too much on how it would get done, just focused on doing it.

When it was time for them to take a break I was surprised at how fun it was. Then I made the connection, it was my passion for climbing that allowed me to share and teach and encourage. It will be my passion for yoga that will keep me centered and able to share and teach and encourage my yoga students.

So even in times of doubt, I know I can get past the hurdles because my passion drives me and I really believe this path I am on is exactly where I am supposed to be. The universe gave me just what I needed that day and luckily I was open to listen. You may not always get what you want but you always get what you need.