Finding Strength Within

{Thank you very, very much for your kind words yesterday about my spill. I am feeling remarkably better today; I went for an x-ray yesterday. Thankfully nothing is broken, just sprained. After a great night’s sleep and good swim this morning, I am less sore and much happier. And! A friend fixed Ruby’s handlebars for me, so we’re that much closer to hitting the open road again.}

simple crane tote

This weekend I celebrated a friend’s triumphant defeat over leukemia. When receiving chemotherapy, she was given 1,000 origami cranes as an inspiration to keep fighting. (The story of how origami cranes and leukemia are linked is pretty incredible and worth a read.)

crane detail

Soon enough, she was planning how she would create 1,000 cranes for others being treated for leukemia as soon as she was out of the hospital. The cranes did the trick; Judy’s optimism became infectious.

my favorite verse

We celebrated her recovery with an Asian-themed party this weekend. I brought a crane bag (lined with one of my favorite verses) to ready her for her return to work, and Asian spring rolls.

appetizer for an asian-themed party

Today, I am especially thankful for modern medicine.


at least my pedicure looks okay

Yesterday Ruby and I had an early morning date. I thought we’d cruise up through Ahwatukee for an hour or so, getting in some hills and giving me ample time to catch up on podcasts. (I also needed to shake off two nights of shenanigans not conducive to tri training. I swear the best way to get over a hangover is a long, hard workout. Or greasy food.)

fixed my chain

The first hour was perfect; the weather was warm, but not abusive. The hills were tough, but conquerable. I was feeling strong and glad I’d gotten up to see the sunrise while pedaling like a madwoman.
It wasn’t until I made the final turn heading home that things went awry. I had already biked 30 miles and my shoulder and neck were starting to ache. Instead of looking up, I looked down at my knees, glancing up every now and then to provide my back with some relief. Dumb move.

hurts like you wouldn't belive

I didn’t see the large, orange metal merge sign until it was too late. I was about two feet in front of it, going 19 miles per hour, when I barreled into the sign and went flying out of the bike lane into traffic.
Thankfully, there wasn’t a car there to run over me. I hit my head on the asphalt, the sign came toppling down on me and my legs, of course, were still stuck in my pedals. When I finally sat up straight and realized what had just happened, I noticed I was bleeding. And my head really hurt.

that morning

A man who was driving behind me stopped and ran over to see if I was okay. The police were called and it quickly became an embarrassing scene I wanted to escape. I told them I was fine and I didn’t need paramedics, but, “Could you just help me get my chain back on my bike?”

which handlebar is not like the other

My hands were cut and bloody, but I got the chain back on, got back on the bike and thanked everyone who had stopped. It wasn’t until I got about a mile away that I realized my bike took a serious hit too. Poor Ruby needs new handlebars. And I need a new helmet. And to pay more attention. It is going to hurt to spend another $200 on tri gear this month.

i get in bar fights

However, the irony of crashing into a merge sign? Priceless.

Gratitude Friday*

wip, stacked high

–I am thankful for the leaf in my kitchen table that allows me to extend my creative sewing space an additional three feet. This week the table is piled high with a pink work-in-progress that’s a surprise. One of my new sewing inspirations is Pink Lemonade. Wowie — her work is stunning.

–I am thankful for my running shoes. There is something about new running shoes that gets me out in the heat for another long jaunt when my tired legs are screaming for a break. I love buying new running shoes. I’ve thought about buying some Vessi footwear but I don’t need any running shoes at the minute. This week I’ve logged 18 miles running, 3 miles swimming and 30 miles on my bike. I took pilates and played softball last night with a new team. I’m feeling strong, in great part to my new friend Erin. She’s pushed me to be better in many ways — including putting down the bagel and reaching for some moderation instead.

a pink thread runs through it

–I am thankful for new media. I’m listening to Ozomatli and Timbaland this week. I’m reading Lamb, one of Finny’s favorites. I’m hoping to catch several new movies this weekend, with my buddy Homer J. at the top of the list.

–I am thankful for the powerful attitude-changing force of afternoon monsoon rains. The clouds gather in the east all day and on a good afternoon this time of year, they crack open just as I’m getting in my car to commute home. By the time I get back to Tempe, the temperature has dropped 10-20 degrees, the earth smells like heavenly creosote and the fiery tempers — that rightfully come with living in Phoenix this time of year — get washed away with the dust.

awaiting my attention

–I’m thankful for friends who let me interview them for freelance articles (which annoyingly isn’t online, but is front page of today’s travel section) and for the chance to write for the local paper.

–As always, I am thankful for my family and faith. First, I am skipping along today at the news my family is coming to Arizona for the holidays. (Yep, we plan that far in advance. You didn’t think I developed this Type A planning craziness on my own, did you? It’s most certainly genetic.) I’ll have my family in my home for Christmas. A tree! A tofurkey roast! Stockings on my mantle! And to the latter, I’ve been enjoying a new podcast that’s keeping my spirits high and more enthused than ever. I didn’t think that was possible either.

Happy Friday to you!

* I fully stole Gratitude Friday from my buddy Autum. She does it much better!

The Winery Road Trip

Barrels at San Dominique

Last weekend I cruised up to northern Arizona to tour a couple wineries with some friends. While the wineries ranked from “Oh my. Is that dog peeing? Inside?! AY! We’re so out of here.” to “Wow. I feel like I’m on the set of Brothers & Sisters. Now where is that tasty Senator?” it was worth the journey.

Vineyard at Page Springs

Wine in Arizona is definitely not like wine in northern California or South Africa, but hey — we are into buying local and celebrating small business. And if I have to drive to Sedona — one of my favorite places — and have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants to do so, then by all means. Count me in and pour another glass.

camp verde winery harvest

This week, I’m freakishly focused on tri-training, sewing and getting my house in order for another trip abroad in a few weeks. Mmm… Bolivian wine.

St. Francis at San Dominique

Something tells me mid-race I may have wished I drank less and trained more. Something also tells me when I’m on my death bed, I’ll be glad I celebrated life.


Sewing Summer Stationery

Yesterday I sewed and stamped summer stationery. This week, I’ll write lengthy letters to my pen pal in Italy and my grammie who doesn’t email.

It isn't backwards, but whatever.

Who doesn’t like getting personal mail? There is a new national campaign to encourage letter writing as an art. I have to agree; I don’t save much, but in my small collection of most cherished things, there are several letters I’d run back into a burning building to save. Now, to find a good pen…

Green Week Day 5: A Promise

Falling in love with Mama Earth

Dear Mama Earth,
I know I’m one of the 6 billion humans you are trying to support on limited resources at the moment, and I also know I’m not any more deserving of your attention than the rest. But if I could just get your ear for a second, I’d appreciate it.
Here’s the thing — I live in the country that consumes the most, with the least thought. However! We once were great stewards of the land and we can be again. We are getting much smarter about this, even if we were the last to RSVP to the Kyoto party. I’m certain our next president will make sure we show up early to such affairs in the future. With an appetizer.
I’m sorry I haven’t been more mindful of you. I’m sorry I’ve neglected to recycle at every opportunity and that I’ve consumed out of boredom and not need. I’m sorry that I haven’t done more to change policies to be kinder to you, and in turn, my neighbors.
So, here’s my vow to you, Mama Earth:
{Raise your left hand and say it with me!}

As your friend, I promise to consume (eat, drive, etc…) only when necessary. I promise to stop and actually smell the roses, notice the sunrise and be thankful for all of the natural beauty that surrounds my daily routine. I promise to vote for leaders who are thoughtful of you. I promise to shop locally and support small business. I promise to plant indigenous species. I promise to go to the pound when I want a pet and not a designer puppy warehouse. I promise to always work for peace first. I promise to use what I have, be thrifty, walk whenever possible, and scream from the mountaintops that we can change the tide. I promise to tread as lightly as possible.

Thank you Mama Earth, for your abundance and patience. I don’t want to see other people; I’m thoroughly in love with you.


Green Week Day 4: A Little Help From My Friends


Today, a shout out to all the green inspiration I’ve seen sprouting up this week.
Sharon and her kindergarten students in Texas are taking recycling to a new level.
Keesha has overhauled her daily routine to cut out the crap.
Carrie is cleaning house and demonstrating the power of composting.
Rachael reminds us all of the old camping rule that makes such sense at home too — mellow yellow.
And June, oh June. She who regularly inspires me artistically shares her recipes and motivation for cutting out chemicals and making her own environmentally friendly cleaning products. Yeow!
Bravo ladies!

These are just a few of the many great ideas you’ve shared this week. Thank you so much for pushing me to be better! Speaking of, today I’m telecommuting. Tomorrow? The bus. Wish me luck!


Green Week Day 3: Using Less

Miss Frida

Who wants a fabulous new market bag? Apparently throngs on the East Coast do. I’d love one of those, but my Frida bag fits the bill. Not only does this bag keep me from bringing home a ton of plastic ones, but I know that when it is full — it is time to leave the market. If I buy more than one bag, I end up throwing out produce at the end of the week because I couldn’t get to everything in time.
Frida and I have a weekly date at the market by my house. The clerks roll their eyes when they see me coming. Yet, more and more people are following the trend, so I guess they’ll just have to be more patient. This size reminds me to consume only what I must, which I think one of the most important principles of being good to the earth.

A few other photos from my home, simple ways I’m trying to use less:

unplugged in between

Appliances unplugged when not in use.

air drying

Drying my clothes on a clothing line and rack, rather than in a dryer. This has a double benefit this time of year because the dryer really heats up my laundry room.

saving fuel

Thankfully, ceiling fans help keep my air conditioning bill manageable. The key is to use these only when you are home. More great tips here.


I recycle everything I can.

nalgene to go

I always have one of these with me. If I am out and can refill one of these, rather than take a disposable cup, I do. Every bit helps. I think bottled water is pretty ridiculous; my parents own an RO water company and I’m spoiled with tasty tap water that’s been filtered. Tap water rocks.

What do you do to consume less?

Green Week Day 2: Using Less Water


Awesome shower timer shared in the Green Week photo pool.
Living in the desert, it is easy to use too much water. It shouldn’t be easy, but modern conveniences — such as air conditioning, swimming pools, an even landscaped yards — make water over-consumption the norm in Phoenix.
Your comments and ideas yesterday about using less paper were great. Collectively we know we aren’t going to change popular culture overnight. We also know that we are changing our behavior — the only thing we can control. Big change begins with small steps.
The small steps I’m making toward using less water are pretty darn basic. I wear a running watch all the time. I’m too lazy to have the battery in my dress watch replaced, so my Nike digital is permanently fixed to my left wrist. Not only does it clock my running times, but also my showering times. Four minutes or less is my goal, with the water turned off during non-crucial rinsing moments. I’ve lived without running water before; I also understand how easy it is to overlook this awesome household convenience when available. You’d think a girl who once hauled each drop of water she planned on using, by bucket, from a community well, over hilly terrain, wouldn’t need to wear a watch in the shower to be mindful about her water use. You’d be wrong.
Regardless, this week is about being more mindful and I’m working on it. Sounds like you are too! I’m also keeping a bucket in the shower to catch excess to feed my house plants. I’m not washing my car. I also recently helped campaign for my HOA to switch all communal areas in my community from sprinkler-fed grass to desert rock landscape.
Small victories! What are you doing to use less water?


Green Week Day 1: Using Less Paper

cutest recycler ever

How cute is this wee one, rocking the recycling? This photo is one of several already submitted to the Green Week photo pool, celebrating the best of reducing, reusing and recycling.

Today’s earth-friendly idea is using cloth instead of disposable anything. Such as cloth napkins, towels and of course, diapers. My friend Amanda emailed me a ton of stats on why it is important to use cloth. Did you know it takes 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose? In contrast, it takes just $17 in water during a child’s life to clean cloth diapers. No landfill waste, less diaper rash, and oh — you aren’t contributing to the 1 billion trees cut each year just for diapers. Yikes!

This week I’m sewing cloth napkins to use at home. I’m also whipping up some knit dishcloths. A few other simple paper-saving things I try to do include using junk mail envelopes for note paper, sharing magazines and books with friends, printing with the “selection only” feature to prevent pages of unwanted text when printing off the web, and reusing shipping boxes for mailing.
What can you do to use fewer paper products?