Category Archives: beginning

365 days. 1000 km. 1 overly ambitious new years resolution

Somehow I let a friend convince me that running 1000 km in a year was doable. To be fair, she’s aiming for 1000 mi, but I have some small bit of sense about what my limits are. Plus, I measure my distance in km, anyway.

With about 52 weeks a year, that means about 20 km a week. And how am I doing so far, you might ask? Well as of 18 January, I had run a grand total of 0 km. But then there’s that moment where you say, ah feck it. Just do it. Or don’t do it. But then just shut up about it.

So suitably chastened, I gulped down my coffee, and got dressed. Since I have an iPhone, which only lets you upload music with iTunes, I used one of Spotify’s running playlists. I say “one of”, but as far as I can tell, they are all the same? Lots of Avicii, Not Avicii, David Guetta, and David Guetta remixing everyone else. But it all had a beat, so it worked well enough.

Shoes on, laces up, hoodie, legwarmers (which will fall down anyway, but that’s ok because I overheat when I exercise), and a huge deep breath before opening the door to the COLD.

My running app might be a bit inaccurate, as it logged me at a painful, and painfully slow, 5 km, when I’m fairly certain that route is only 4 km. But, as it’s the tracker, 5 km is what got recorded.

So. 5 km down. 995 km to go.

I’ll say this – it was hard, like it’s always hard when you do a thing you used to be somewhat decent at, but haven’t done in a while, and now you are not that great at it. But once you get over that and just get on with it, there’s a certain amount of peace you make with the discomfort and the pain and the oh-god-how-am-i-only-2-km-in??? Because you know, it’s just going to be like this the first few times, and it doesn’t matter how much you put it off. It’s just going to be like this. So either you just do it, or you just forget about the whole thing. But the worst is to just talk about how one day you’re just going to do this thing. Any day now. Seriously.

First run down. First run’s the hardest. 5 km at a time, slowly chipping away.

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on writing, motivation, and these cold and dark days

I woke up this morning to some snow on the ground. It’s only on the sidewalk and pavement, so the contrast between the startlingly green grass (it is called the Emerald Isle, you know!) and the bright white powder on deep black asphalt is striking. In a few hours it will be gone of course, but in the meantime, the sky is suitably grey, and it all just looks so cold.

Three days ago I posted that I would try to blog at least once a day. And then I went two days without posting anything. I have an excuse of course – I was trying to meet a deadline, and then we went out for dinner, and drinks (found a cute new pub), and a movie. And then I spent some time with a friend yesterday and you know, the days just get away from you. But in any case, excuses are excuses, and in the end I didn’t do what I said I would do.

So then of course, I’m spending some time this morning making up for it with two posts. I love to write. I do. I have so many thoughts in my head, and most of them aren’t worth the time it takes to put them down, but every so often, there’s that one clear thought that needs to be expressed, but it hasn’t quite crystallized, and I think – write. this. down. Even just in the act of writing, thoughts can become clearer. Ideas can deepen. And maybe even new thoughts and ideas can emerge.

But I never do. Or maybe I put a piece of it on Facebook or Twitter, and then leave it there, like some half-formed thing, thinking I’ll take it up again at some distant point, clean it and polish it, or take it apart piece by piece to examine and perhaps reassemble into something that more closely resembles the seed from which the idea sprung. But mostly, it just dangles there, like that time you wanted to try sprouting lentils, and you put them in water in to soak, but you did something wrong (are you supposed to change the water every so often? refrigerate? add salt?), and they sprouted, but then kind of got stuck between the seed and sprout stages. Cute, and tasty, and it worked well enough, but not quite what you were going for. And ultimately they disappointed, because you just didn’t do what you should have done.

You’d think winter would be a good time for writing. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where the snow comes down regularly and cleanly, I suppose you’d spend more time outside. But when the days get shorter, the nights darker, the sun struggles to break through the clouds, and the wind, oh man, the wind is just cold here. Well, then you find it a bit cozier to be inside, turn on the heating, snuggle into a blanket, make some soup…. and write? Or not.

But it’s 2015 now, so time for new beginnings. Time to re-dedicate ourselves to all those things we meant to do last year, or five years ago, or maybe one day in the future, only the future is now, so this is it, this year I’m going. to. do. that. thing. And I’m going to start today.

Well, tomorrow, anyway. There’s still a small smattering of snow on the ground yet.

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new year, new you

Maybe I’m a masochist, but I’ve decided to re-new my commitment to this blog. I’ve a whole host of travel posts to get up, plus I’d like to post more creative writings, as well as some reflections on current events, particularly in public health.

Since it’s still early in the year, I’ll consider this one of my new year’s resolutions: one post a day, even if some (oh who am I kidding – most!) days it is just a quote, or a picture. I’m leaving my old posts up too.

Some other new years’ resolutions:

  • run 1000 km in 2015
  • get back to weight lifting (2x a week)
  • yoga reboot (this one requires further exploration)
  • make some ice cream (with the ice cream maker)
  • 2 week Spanish immersion
  • learn something new (or maybe re-learn something from previously?)
  • get a job
  • write a novel
  • knock out the rest of the ones I haven’t seen: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/ireland/things-miss/#/0
  • accomplish one more activity on my 10-year plan

I’ve made a small amount of progress on one of these goals, but will be revisiting them more next week.

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blogging from the emerald isle

I’m blogging again. I’m fairly terrible at this. But when I was in Mongolia, I was mostly consistent about it, so think maybe I can be the same here. Mostly though, I’ve found tremendous value in reading other people’s blogs, and so perhaps one day my accounting of my experiences can be helpful to someone else. First up: a status  update.

On March 11th, I flew to Ireland. A few weeks before that, I left my job (of approximately 10 years) and became an independent consultant (note: if anyone needs a global health writer, hit me up). I’m in Ireland to undertake the process to be with my partner of 3 years, and am having not only the very personal experience of transition, but also the possibly more stressful challenge of navigating the bureaucracy to establish myself as a legal resident.

There is a decent amount of information on the internet, and some very nice people have posted the steps they’ve taken to make this work. I’m hoping to emulate their processes (tailored to fit my circumstances of course) and have the same success.

The goal is a de facto relationship visa. It will give me permission to stay (and work) for a year at a time. It is not an easy process however, and the first step is just figuring out what we need to apply. Stay tuned….

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emergence

It’s been almost 6 months since I last posted, and I have no excuse except that life got busy with the new job, after a year or so of a low-key lifestyle.  The difference between life “over there” and “over here” is stark.  In Mongolia, I had a small community of friends, limited social activities in a smallish town, and lots of free time to experiment in the kitchen, wander the city, or take a few weeks to head into the countryside.   Some things fell by the wayside – my yoga practice wasn’t regular, for example – but I did get a chance to do lots of things I’ve always wanted to do.

The biggest difference, I think, has been in the kitchen.  In Mongolia, I got to spend time making things I’d never think about making – so long as I could find the ingredients.  And when I couldn’t, I learned to substitute.  And when you are forced to make something “imperfect”, and have it turn out ok, I think that slowly starts to penetrate other parts of your life too.  Frankly, that’s a lesson this control freak could stand to learn many many times.

But here, we have everything again, and I don’t have to think too hard about making something.  In fact, sometimes I don’t have to think about making anything at all, as evidenced by the other day when I ordered baked pasta for delivery.  A simple 4-ingredient dish and it was much easier to order in than to go to the store and buy the ingredients and make it myself.

So I’m trying to get back into the habit of cooking, because I like to do so, and because it’s healthier.   I’m experimenting in different ways now – instead of trying to figure out substitutes, I’m making creative dishes with disparate leftovers of ingredients before they go bad.  The results have been not too bad – putting feta in polenta, brussels sprouts in risotto, persimmon in cookies, candied ginger in bran muffins, parsley and soy sausage with whole wheat pasta, etc.  Freezing overripe fruit for smoothies.

The latest attempt tonight was cranberry ginger bran quickbread.  The recipe started as muffins, before I realized I only had a small muffin tin.  So I used a shallow loaf pan instead, and it baked up beautifully.  After it cooled, I sliced it up and have frozen half of it for morning breakfasts (maybe with a little peanut butter?).  The cranberries were dried and sweetened, but I might try fresh ones next time.  The ginger I candied myself, and keep stored in the fridge in its own syrup (which I added to the recipe).

So here’s hoping this is the start of a new old habit again…

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future travel plans

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

~ Saint Augustine

Before my eventual arrival in the US, I am planning on traveling a little.  Right now, the plan is to:

  • Depart UB and fly directly to W India to stay with family for a week or so, then,
  • Take the train to Kerala, then,
  • Wander my way down the coast to Trivandrum, then,
  • Stay at a beach resort with yoga studio attached for a couple of weeks, then,
  • Fly to Sabah, Malaysia, and climb Kinabalu, then,
  • Meet my cousin and family in Sarawak at Mulu Caves, then,
  • Fly to Seoul to hang out with a friend, then,
  • Make my way to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian, then,
  • Fly from Moscow/St. Petersburg back to the US.

All very ambitious, so we will see how much of this truly ends up happening.  But for now, this is the plan, and I am hoping to fit it all in!  Stay tuned!

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reboot

I’m rebooting this site with a different focus, looking at at travel, professional interests, and a little bit of personal reflection.   Currently, I’m in Mongolia, blogging at  Land of Blue Skies.  I also have a second project at Cereal and Milk.

In a month, I’ll be departing Mongolia and traveling through Asia for a couple of months before heading back to the US for gainful employment.   I’ll be blogging here about the experience.

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