What I’ve Been Up To in January

As some of you may have noticed, I took the month of January off.  I didn’t necessarily intend for a one week break to turn into four, but it happened.

And, as it turns out, I’m okay with that.  I don’t feel compelled to apologize (something that I do too often as it is), because it was necessary, though I will explain why I needed that time.

The fact is that I needed a little re-boot.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, somewhat uninspired, and totally worn out.  Taking a few weeks for some hibernation was important. None of this is to say that I haven’t missed it around here.  Or that I haven’t missed you all, because I have.  So, hello again!

Trees at Rhododendron

I may not have been blogging, but I have been doing things over the last month.  The running hasn’t stopped, of course.  I’ve been at it consistently and with a relaxed outlook – enjoying the time off between training cycles.  I’ve also selected my primary running goals for 2014.  They are:

  • complete two marathons (Newport, OR in May and Portland, OR in October),
  • run at least one of those marathons at a sub 4-hour pace (though I’m really shooting to run both under 4 hours, and I do think that it’s totally possible),
  • PR at the 10k distance, and
  • run at least 1700 miles during the year.

All of this seems pretty darn exciting to me!

I’ve also been filling my brain with lots and lots of information and stories.  I’ve been reading voraciously – 10 books in the month of January!  I’ve learned and escaped and laughed and fantasized with these books in the last four weeks and it’s been wonderful.

Trees from below Rhododendron

I’ve been cooking some delicious food.  Banh mi inspired noodles.  Delicious soups from this bookCauliflower parmesan.  You get the idea.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about what I really want this year to be about.  In a few short words, my primary goals for 2014 are about living deliberately and with intention.  In the words of my fantasy BFF Bob Harper, I need to remember in any given moment that all I’m doing is exactly what I’m doing.  Be present and concentrate on what’s at hand, making choices and plans with intention, rather than constantly battling stress and anxiety about the future.

I hope that this approach will be reflected in my posts this year.  I aim to write and share very intentionally and with deliberate thought towards what’s worth writing, sharing, and reading.  I hope you’ll join me!

2013: A Look Back At Some of My Highlights

New Year’s Eve & Day are my favorite holidays.  I get a little sappy and a lot introspective around this time.  While I believe in regular reflection and goal setting throughout the year, I can’t help but find this to be an appropriate time to take stock of where I am, how I am doing, what I’ve done, and what is next.

santa ornament - editedThere was a time when this process was primarily a negative one for me.  I would stop to reflect on what I didn’t accomplish or what goals and dreams were out of my reach.  In recent years, however, I’ve taken to heart just how important it is to give equal billing to what I have done.  Rather then quickly glossing over accomplishments or milestones in order to continue moving upward and onward, I now recognize the value in celebrating the victories (large and small) that are behind me.  And, while some believe that you gain wisdom mostly by rehashing your mistakes and failures, I also see the learning that presents itself in evaluating what has gone well.

To this end, here are some of the highlights, milestones, and victories that took place for me in 2013:

  • 26.2 miles = Done! – The experience of running my first marathon have been shared in depth here and here, so I won’t say Me with medal 3 - editedmuch more other than that it stands as one of the single best days of my life.  I can’t wait for many more!
  • Goodbye, Gluten – Going gluten-free was not something that I ever intended to do.  It was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult for me, but 7 months later, my vastly improved health stands as evidence that it was what I absolutely needed to do.
  • 1500 miles – It took me nearly right up until the end of the year to do so, but as of last weekend, I have run over 1500 miles for the year.  So cool.
  • 71 books – I love to read and always have.  For me, books are a never-ending source of education, escapism, and inspiration all in one.  I track my literary adventures over at Goodreads.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been reading, please head over and say hello (username: srrose).
  • Facing down an old fear . . .  The dentist! – I’ll admit that, prior to 2013, it had been quite some time since I’d dragged myself to the dreaded chair.  It is an experience that long struck fear in my heart.  Having little or poor dental insurance for a long time had supported me in running away from this fear, but I finally did it.  After several trips to get all caught up, my teeth are happy and healthy!
  • Cultivating creative confidence – This year saw me take some big strides in levels of self-confidence related to creativity and pasta with italian peppers - editedcooking.  I can’t say that I produced the largest quantity of creatively driven output this year, but I found myself trusting my instincts more, feeling stronger in my skills, and being open to experimentation.
  • Keeping THIS going – I know that I’ve had periods recently of reduced posting, but I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to keep this site going.  I love it.  I love the process of it and that I get to connect with so many incredible people around the world because of it.

I’m certain that I could go on a bit longer, but I will end my list on that note.  So, thank you to every person out there who has been a part of all of this with me in 2013.  I’m looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.

Happy New Year!

Last Day for Warrior Pose Book Giveaway!

bookJust a shout out to alert everyone that today is the last day to enter the giveaway for your own copy of Warrior Pose:  How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life.

Who needs a little summer reading???

Head on over to my book review and leave a comment by midnight (PST) in order to enter to win.

Book Review: Warrior Pose, With A Giveaway to Win Your Own Copy!

War correspondent and ultra-yogi aren’t exactly two identities naturally linked in my mind.  At least they weren’t until I read Bhava Ram’s Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life.  And, now, just like that, they are.

I read quite a lot of memoirs, but despite my broad exposure to them, Ram’s (aka Brad Willis) stands out as particularly remarkable.  Plus, if you’re in need of a healthy dose of inspiration, this should do it.


The story goes something like this.  Willis leaves small town America to rise up through the ranks and become a successful, hard working war correspondent, traversing the globe to cover stories of international importance.  Already, you’ve got an interesting story, right?  Willis, however, suffers an injury (a broken back), which he tries to hide and live with.  As to be expected, the injury worsens over time and, through desperate attempts to cope, Willis finds himself addicted to alcohol, pain medication, and unable to maintain his career.

Then, he gets cancer.

Yep.  That’s right.  Cancer.

Things were not looking so great for our friend, Willis.

The story that takes over from there tells of Willis’ discovery of yoga, re-discovery of his sense of self, and a transformational journey to his own health and wellness: body, mind, and spirit.

I will confess that when I started this book, I was most interested in the parts about his days as a war correspondent.  My mind was piqued by stories of war, travel, and the human condition.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the rest of the book.  I tend to be somewhat wary of stories that speak of such dramatic transformation through spiritual means of any sort, so my guard was a bit up.  Surprisingly to me, as Willis’ story of his career shifted into the discovery of himself as Bhava Ram, I found myself remaining just as engaged and just as intrigued as I was at the start.

Yoga may or not be your thing, but I see in this book a narrative of embracing humility, exploring possibilities, and developing wisdom that just about anyone can relate to.  Yoga is the conduit through which Ram found these things for himself, but surely there is any number of methods that could be used for similar journeys.  And, if yoga is your thing, Ram’s story will uphold the belief of the restorative powers of a dedicated and consistent yoga practice.

Read this book for some international adventure, sure, but also read this book for a bit of inspiration and, just maybe, a dash of motivation to try some new approaches in your own life.


And, now, for the giveaway.

Ram and his publisher have agreed to offer a copy of Warrior Pose to one lucky reader of Move Eat Create.  If you would like to get your hands on your very own copy, please leave a comment below.  Each reader may enter once.  Comments will be counted and ordered, a winner will be selected with a random number generator, and said winner will be contacted via email, as well as listed here on this blog post.  The giveaway opens now and will run through Wednesday, 7/17/13 at midnight (PST).  My apologies to non-US living friends, but the giveaway is only open to those who can take shipping within the U.S.  Be sure to include your email with your post so that I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway has closed.  Congratulations to zebveg who won a copy of Warrior Pose!  Thank you to all who entered.

Disclaimer:  Though I was provided a copy of this book free of charge and invited to attend a workshop with Ram, all opinions about the book are completely my own. 

Good luck and happy reading!

Book Review: The Longest Race by Ed Ayers (Psst . . . It’s A Must Read!)

Between books, blogs, magazines, and other miscellaneous articles and essays, I do a lot of reading.  Most of what I read is enjoyable, informative, and worthwhile.  Every so often, though, I am fortunate enough to pick up exactly the right thing at precisely the right time and I read something that just truly resonates with me – something that I know has a meaningful and personal lesson to teach me.  Such was the case with The Longest Race by Ed Ayers.

The Longest Race - Own Photo 2To say that I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey over the last year or two of my life is putting it somewhat mildly (though, aren’t we all in one way or another?).  So much of what I’ve been pondering, exploring, and learning was reflected back at me in Ayers’ book and so many of the values that he holds and articulates in his writing echo my own.  Ayers writes with a profound respect for the sport of running, humankind, animalkind, and the planet as a whole and it is a beautiful thing to read.

The story he tells is of his experience at the 2001 JFK 50-mile ultra-marathon, and this story alone makes for a wonderful read.  As a runner myself (though not an ultra-runner by a long shot), I was drawn in by the tale of endurance.  I certainly learned a bit about running from Ayers and will be applying my new education to my own training.  But, to say that this is a book that is solely about running would be to ignore many of the larger themes in the book.

The Longest Race offers us a glimpse into Ayers’ mind and it is a brilliant place to explore.  His grasp of history, science, and the human condition is evident as he reflects on the past, as it is so boldly laid out before him on the JFK course, as well as on the future, as he considers deeply the connections between people, animals, the environment, and the sustainability of all three.  Ayers also touches here and there on topics such as patience, anxiety, nutrition, and relationships both within the running community and outside of it.

This is an extraordinary tale that I will be reading again.  There were several moments in the book where I was struck by a certain importance of what I was reading to my own current place in life.  I have more to learn from Ayers’ story and I would be willing to make a bet that others do too.

Why Wednesdays? – Why Libraries Are Worth Saving

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  I have completed series on the topics of running, creativity, and food.  Now, I’m being a bit random and discussing whatever strikes me at the time!


Library Front DoorI come across quite a few blog posts, memoirs, and other stories that reflect back on happy childhoods, filled with innocence, fun, and fond memories.  If I’m going to be honest, my childhood wasn’t really like that.  I wasn’t a happy kid.  I was generally lonely and out of sorts.  I never really felt comfortable with my peers, was often trying to escape gloominess within my home, was all around a bit awkward and entirely lacked confidence in social settings.  Now, lest you think I’m sharing this to drudge up sympathy, that’s not the case.  Rather, I’m setting the scene for you, you see.  Because, though this was the reality of my childhood, it is not the whole picture.  And, it is not the whole picture, because I had the library.

My grandparents lived right behind the library and this was probably the single best thing that could have happened for me as a kid.  From a very young age, I would head over to my grandparent’s home after school, make a quick stop to drop off my schoolbooks, and then march out the back door, hurry through the back yard, hop over the wire fence, and find myself in the parking lot of the local library.  In I went, eager and full of anticipation for the time I would get to spend there.  Forget Disneyland, the library was my happiest place on Earth.

My library had a kid’s area with a sunken floor that was carpeted with game boards.  There was a giant hop scotch laid out, a checkerboard, even chess if you were that adventurous.  My library had tables just perfectly made for leaning over, with my eyes intently flying past words on pages.  My library had a magazine area with shelves of magazines covering news, politics, fashion, and entertainment all wrapped around a fireplace and a sofa.  My library had an atrium that was lined with plants and shrubbery and let the bright Arizona sun shine in on you, without also bringing the heat of being outdoors.  My library had shelves and shelves of books that offered me endless opportunities to feed my busy little head with images and stories and information that I devoured.  And, my library had Cheryl, the librarian, who knew me by name and welcomed me as an honorary young librarian.

It was extraordinary.


I spent hours there.  I read everything.  I read fiction and non-fiction.  I read all the books for kids, but when it became apparent that my reading level and comprehension were advancing rapidly, Cheryl recommended books for older kids, young adults, and adults.  I read those, too.  I got lost in pages of worlds, both real and imaginary, and used them as fuel for my creative fire.  I wrote stories of my own – some which lived only in my head and some which manifested on paper.  Not caring yet that I was a terrible artist, I drew pictures to illustrate the stories I read and wrote.  I let my vivid imagination run wild with ideas of what the world would be like when I grew up.  I could live in any of the amazing places I had read about (New York, London, California, Amsterdam).  I went on grand adventures with Charlie Bucket, learned compassion with Shel Silverstein, survived grade school with Ramona Quimby, made sense of high school with the Wakefield twins, fantastized about love with Danielle Steele, and learned to think abstractly with Vonnegut at my side.

Whether Cheryl the librarian responded to my apparent loneliness, to my ever-growing precociousness, or both, I’m not sure, but she let me at the whole place like it was my own.  When the return bin was full of books, she swung open the half door, letting me come behind the counter where I picked up one book after another, running it’s spine along the machine until it bumped up against the edge, in order to activate the security sensors.  I loved the sound of this process.  Sliiiiidddde, Thump.  Sliiiiidddde, Thump.  She let me wheel carts of books out to the floor and put them away on the shelves alongside her, lining up the spines straight and even as we went.  She gave me old copies of magazines when their time was up.  I carted them home where I lingered over the glossy images and studied how to write copy, imagining myself in the future as an editor, rushing to meet deadlines.

Book Return

When summer came around, she invited me over to the annex where I helped her put together props and prizes for the youth summer reading program.  She asked my not-so-sage advice on which games to play and what theme to feature each year.  I prepped for the event and had such pride when other kids came to the program and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

I always felt safe there.  I always felt at home.  I always felt a sense of belonging that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else.  And I firmly believe that it is because of my experiences there, my discovery of the power of words on paper, that I developed my own creative streak.  The joy I find in a good book, in transferring my thoughts to written words, in painting images in my mind, was born in my time at this library.  As I’ve grown up, I still feel a sense of wonderment each time I’m in a library.  It’s easy for me to connect to the fact that in a relatively small, enclosed space, there exists millions of lives and stories, centuries worth of history and an abundance of prospects for the future.  I watched television and I played video games like other kids, but it was the library that taught me how to dream, how to imagine, and how to be at peace with myself (surrounded by books).

Wide Shot of Inside 2

Last year, in the city that I live in now, my libraries were threatened.  Apparently, there are plenty of folks out there who don’t see the value in directing tax dollars to such a ‘luxury’.  Fortunately, Portlanders spoke up and voted to support our local library system.  Through news stories and personal accounts, I know that libraries are starting to be seen by some as a relic.  In the age of e-readers, Wi-Fi, and digital downloads, brick and mortar libraries with shelves and shelves of books may seem cumbersome.  But, for this reader and writer, they are comfort, creativity, and contentment personified.  They’re my oldest friends and my strongest inspiration.


A Sampling of Prior ‘Why Wednesday’ Posts:

Why I Run: Crows and Tortillas

Why I Run:  The Pleasures of a Neighborhood Adventure

Why Creativity Counts: Series Recap

Why Creativity Counts:  It Connects Us

Why I Eat . . . Strictly For Myself

Why I Eat . . . Local