Alone Time


I’m a little disappointed that no school needed me to sub today. However, I can get to work on the next three story assignments I have, and that’s a good thing. But before I do, I thought I’d do some writer calisthenics here on lavagal.net. It’s been a while. Alone time.

My SIL1 is waiting for my blog about our trip to Volcano on the Big Island a few weeks ago. I looked back at my pictures and realized that I had not taken any photos of my four sisters-in-law and the lone fellow out-law husband of SIL4. Instead, I took photos of the volcano, the darling bungalow we stayed in, the flora, the fauna. There are a few photos of us on top of Mauna Kea, but the best ones are in my husband’s camera. I’ll ask. What I loved about our trip was how chilly the volcano area is. We spent very little time in Hilo, so most of the time we were bundled up in socks and sweaters. For those of us who live in Hawaii, that is always a joy. I cooked breakfast one morning, recruited by SIL1, and I made egg McBobs, named after her late husband. I brought along some hashbrowns and served those on the side. That night I made linguine with caramelized onions and yogurt sauce, a dish that is out of this world. I plan to cook the onions on our grill the next time I make this dish — that’s how many onions are in it.

While on the Big Island, a Costco Hawaii Kai manager called me with hours for the following week. I got 32 hours and Sunday, January 19, was my last day. I’m now waiting until February 19 to see if I get a permanent part-time gig. I had also been scheduled for a job interview for a full-time communications administration position, but I declined it. It felt too much like the soul-sucking experience I’m still recovering from. Stepping away from all that is a good idea. I’ll stick to the freelance writing, and, in the meantime, taking all the substitute teaching assignments I can.

Yesterday I taught 7th grade Social Studies, which focused on the Hawaiian Overthrow. How embarrassed I am at the behavior and arrogance of the men who dethroned Queen Liliuokalani. Many of these public school children are not white, many are of mixed race, and some are of Hawaiian descent. I’m not quite sure how much any of the students cared about the lesson, but they need to learn. Such lessons will hopefully create a better world. That’s why we need to learn our lessons.

Last Friday I taught kindergarten and it was the 100th day of school. So there was all kinds of 100 Day things to talk about. I felt a little bad for the teacher as 100 day is pretty special. The kids counted out 100 fruity o cereals and then strung them on red silk cords that I tied when they were done. I then put them in a plastic bag and ordered them to put them in their backpack (as instructed). Kindergartners are a trip. I was grateful that the school provided two helpers for the first hour (they spend the day taking turns in the K classes). I sometimes feel like I’m flying blind, but the day went well. I slept well that night!

Gearing up now for the start of triathlon training in about two weeks since I’m returning to Kona for the Ironman 70.3 on May 31. I’m actually resisting the urge to enter a lot of events this year. I think I might enter two or three before the 70.3. Staying low, invisible, unnoticed.

So this should do it for now.

BTW, I can’t figure out how to get photos off my MotoX with the WP app and onto the blog. Soon.

 

 

What 2013 has taught me


I knew a year ago, back in December, my birthday month and the month of holiday cheer, that those I found so very uninspiring were plotting to end my corporate-within-the-cube-writing career. It was OK as I had already left in my mind at least more than 1,735 times. In April of 2013 the footprint was on my ass and it was the first time I left an employer without feeling sad. It was more a wave of relief. I had been dismantling my personality from the cube over the months until it looked like a sterile, cold and gray space without personality, exactly what it was supposed to be.

I am grateful that finally I was free to be me. 

I applied for at least three jobs a week — sometimes three jobs a day — until my unemployment ran out in November. I completed the substitute teaching course for the DOE in October. I started my seasonal position at Costco Hawaii Kai in November, too, so I have been able to step off the ice floe. 

I am supposed to be grateful for the more than 80 jobs I applied for and didn’t get, but it’s hard. I got a few interviews and I am sure those humiliating experiences have made me a better person. Radio silence gives you a lot to think about. It was hard not to think about rejection, it was hard to see the silver lining. I know I’m a survivor and I’ve got the most amazing support person at my side. He gets the most gratitude of all. 

What good was there from 2013? I got to spend a lot of time with my husband and we really enjoyed it. There are new gardens in the yard. While things like tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant don’t do so well, our kale, Swiss chard, chili peppers and herbs are bountiful. We have a beautiful area in the backyard where I can write or where we can sit even when it’s raining, with our Kitty Girl. The avocados drop before me, a compost bin settles without stinking, and there’s always gas in the grill. 

In 2013 I trained for triathlons and did alright. I went to the Big Island and participated in my first half Ironman in Kona. I rode my bike, ran and swam several times a week. I did the Honolulu Tinman, the Na Wahine Festival’s swim and spin, the North Shore Swim Series and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. I love doing all those things. This year I was able to participate without the mental and emotional cave in I had the year before just as the swims were starting. I’m pleased that I can remain calm during those first crazy minutes of an ocean swim with hundreds of arms and legs flailing at me and around me. 

In 2013 I found an editor who gave me a shot at writing for his magazine and I have been writing for him steadily since the summer. I hope to continue. 

During 2013 I applied at Costco four times and finally got a call for this seasonal job that is quite demanding. As a shopper I always thought how fun it must be to work there. Yes, it is fun, but it’s the hardest job I ever had. There’s a chance that I may get picked up as a permanent part-time worker after January 7 when the gig is up, and I’m hopeful that I do. How can that happen? Go. Spend. Your. Money. Thank you!

I am optimistic about 2014. I’d like to weave a work life of substitute teaching, freelancing and customer service at Costco. Once 2014 kicks in and I’m no longer working 48 hours a week at the big box, I’ll start focusing on my triathlon training again, focusing on the May 31, 2014, Kona Half Ironman with a few other triathlons to help me gauge my progress.

I am grateful for my husband and my daughters for their confidence and love. I can’t imagine having a better family. 

One of my strong suits has always been empathy. For that reason I often wondered why I had to have this year of humility to reflect on other intangible qualities generated by my heart and soul. I’m still not sure why, but I am confident that I will put it all to good use. 

Please keep me in your thoughts so that my 2014 is much better. Mahalo. 

 

Riding with a seasoned triathlete and Kona IM finisher.


I had the opportunity to ride with Lori McCarney yesterday. Here are our stats and the map of our cycling voyage.

A few weeks ago the words “Lori McCarney, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN,” were recited as she crossed the finish line in Kona. So, yeah, you could say she’s one of the superhero moms in my world. Thanks to a lot of hard work to QUALIFY  – because lottery entries had not yet begun — Lori was in Ironman Kona in 2009, but fell short of her goal when the clock ran out and the finish line was in sight. Heartbreaking. This video really wrenches your gut.

Lori and I in our TryFitness kits.

Lori and I in our TryFitness kits at Makapu’u Lookout. What a beautiful day and ride!

When I first met Lori about two years ago, I couldn’t tell what she was about. But as I go to know her, I became a believer in her positive spirit and personal drive. Lori doesn’t keep secrets and willingly shares training tips. Yesterday we discovered that we were riding with the same tires, Continental Grand Prix 4000s. Her Cervelo is such a little Maserati. I have bike envy, that’s for sure.

Sometimes Lori and I share age groups, sometimes we don’t. But that never matters to her. Lori gets it. Her training and goals are different from mine and everyone elses, but she believes there are plenty of wins to go around when she shares ideas and tips that help people like me cross their finish lines.

For yesterday’s ride I promised clear roads along the Ka Iwi Coast because of the road construction. Wrong! Construction makes progress and the one-lane closures weren’t there, so neither were our opportunities to ride without vehicles along this narrow and precarious curvy stretch of road with minimal shoulders. But we did it. Plan B was to go back along Heartbreak Hill and to ride through the Hawaii Kai farm lands out to Hawaii Kai Drive to avoid the road construction on Lunalilo Home Road. Success! It was a smart choice.

Mahalo, Lori! Great ride. Let’s do it again!

Life is Like Riding a Bicycle


My last day at HMSA is Friday. I’m thrilled and terrified and excited and anxious all at the same time. What can I say? Bring it on, LIFE!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein, a really smart guy.

Yesterday I rode my bicycle up Sierra Drive and it was the hardest thing I had ever done on a bicycle. Here are my stats. About 85 percent up the street I started seeing stars, so I had to unclip and get off before I blacked out. I inhaled my Albuterol, sucked down a double latte Power Gel, chased it with some water, and got my lungs back. Then I got back on my bike and rode it all the way to the top. It wasn’t pretty. It was awful. And as I approached the top, Coach Sonya had me zigzag up the street to help me handle the steep grade. I don’t know what that grade is, but I had reached 1,293 feet when I rode around Maunalani Circle and caught my breath. Coach KC was waiting for me up there and I was glad she helped me hustle up that final climb. If it weren’t for TryFitness Hawaii, I never would have even tried. It took me half an hour to get from bottom to top. I was somewhat faster going back down.

One of my favorite things to do on my bike is to fly down Makapu‘u and Heartbreak Hill (Kamiloiki), sometimes going as fast as 40mph. It’s exhilarating and takes less than a minute, as you can imagine. But coming down the winding Sierra Drive had to be done carefully and without that usual sense of free falling I tend to enjoy. It was as much a workout for my hands and forearms as I feathered my brakes all the way down to Waialae Avenue.

Glad I did it? Sure. Do it again? Hellas to the NO! The experience was designed to be more challenging than the bike portion of the Honu Ironman 70.3 triathlon. If I could do this, I could do that on June 1. The swim? Check. The ride? Check. The run? The run? Well, that still needs work. I’m fairly certain that if my swim and ride are on the swift side, I’ll finish the run within the allotted time.

After the ride I went home and washed the sheets and towels, made pizza dough, started labneh (yogurt cheese), watered the garden, and did that wife and mother thing. And contemplated my future. Life is interesting.

To keep my balance, I must keep moving.

Swim, Bike, Run, Mom. Yes, Me.


I bought this book a few months ago and last night I picked it up again. It’s by Meredith Atwood and its called “Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be A Triathlete. Yes. You.” Kona triathlete Bree Wee wrote a preface (she’s my mini hero, tiny and fast and funny), as did Chrissy Wellington, triathlete extraordinaire. And since I’ve been doing a few triathlons over the last couple of years, and still feeling like the fat old lady out there, I thought getting an autographed copy from Meredith might inspire me. I LIKED her Swim Bike Mom Facebook page, and I recommend you do the same if you’re a woman toying with the idea of loving yourself through the pain of swimming, riding bicycle, and running, without stopping, until you’re through and it’s dark and you’re not quite sure there’s anything left inside your mind or your cells or your feet.

That could be me. I’m doing the Honu Half-Ironman in Kona on June 1.

Because I’m so busy and so exhausted and so frazzed all the time, I skip around when I pick the book up. I know, I’m sorry, Meredith. I’m doing what I can! Last night while waiting for Kid1 while she was in her viola lesson, I sat in the van and read the chapter about nutrition. And a lot of it was about the SCALE. The. DREADED. SCALE. Meredith talks about how that mofo drives her up the wall. She spoke of disconnecting from the scale, and she addressed the input she got from others of how they couldn’t give up the scale.

This morning, I wish I had not gotten on the scale. But I did, and I’m pretty sure there’s a dark and gray cloud hovering over me now.

Why did I get on the scale? Well, for the last three weeks I’ve eliminated white flour. I’ve made whole-wheat thin pizza crusts, whole-wheat, home-made pasta, ate more fruit and veggies than ever, cut back on sweetened coffee, and even drank less wine (ME!). My waist looked a little thinner this morning. The fat pants slid on and had room. But I’m still in fat pants. So I got on the scale. And I could have cried.

But let’s put it this way: My fat pants have always been the same size: 12. I really like being a size 10, and that can’t be too hard to get back down to. When I weighed 30 pounds less I wore a size 12. You see how weird this is? To weigh tons more and still get to say fat pants are size 12? And give me this: I’m 54 and my body has been sticking its toe in the menopause pool for two years now. I think I’m in the middle of it, or getting through it now, but you can never be sure. It has thickened my waist. I cannot stand it. I have friends, fellow women triathletes, who are older than me and have slimmed down. I’m hopeful.

On March 12 I begin Honu training with my TryFitness sisters. We’ll meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays. Kid1&2 can’t wait! Mom will be working out and maybe start feeling better about herself again. I know my husband likes the after effects of a wife who’s worked out. He’s looking forward to getting his happy wife back.

I’m a little terrified about the Honu. Last Saturday I was in the Haleiwa Sprint Triathlon. While swimming among the thrash of other swimmers, I thought how much I hated it. But I knew I had to get through it, and so I incorporated some of the training Joe and Tom Lileikis taught me during Masters swimming at The Oahu Club: I moved my arms up and down along my body, keeping them close, avoiding connecting with the other swimmers, it worked and I moved efficiently through the water. Despite the dizziness as I emerged, my swim time was pretty good. I knew that once I was on my bicycle I could get a jump on how slow my run would be. My leg problems (healed burst tendon, knee pain, swelling, excess fluid, and now plantar fasciitis in the other foot) are a bit of a pain to work out. My sports doctor says I should just stop running, but he says it’s OK with him if I do triathlons because it’s not all running.

About those fat pants: Surely, the new eating habits will pay off, right? I can’t give up.

Stationary

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After my thrilled pronouncement about getting started with winter cycling, I now must back pedal. I’ve gotten the nasty upper-respiratory bug so generously shared by what seems like everyone in Hawaii, and it has brought my triathlon training to a … Continue reading

The Honolulu Marathon Game Plan

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By now, about 11 months after my husband signed me up for the Honolulu Marathon, I thought I’d be fit, skinny, and ready to run. Isn’t it interesting how your body has other ideas? You may be in your 20s, … Continue reading