Lightning Strikes, Maybe Once, Maybe Twice…

Oh 2016…what a year you’ve been.

It seems like there’s so much I could say…or should say.  Or maybe shouldn’t.  As I’ve learned, a lot of things are better left unsaid.

On one hand, it seemed like it flew by, but on the other hand, looking back on the whole year, some of it seems light years away at this point.  Overall, 2016 was really my chance to hit the re-set button.  To figure out and focus on what’s really important, decide where I want to go, and how to get there.  It’s kind of an amazing feeling when you let go of the past and embrace the future.  It all happens for a reason.

Much like last year, it started with a race…I spent most of NYE and a good chunk of New Year’s Day at Coastal’s 24 hour race.  I learned a lot about the races I’d be running in the spring from one of the volunteers…saw old friends and made some new ones.  As always, it was a great time.

My racing fun continued, both with Coastal and with my own races.  March brought my first official race finish in over a year at Way Too Cool.  It was fun (mostly), and wet and muddy and everything I could have wanted in a race.  And finishing was….spectacular. I wasn’t too sure what to do with myself, other than ask a volunteer to take my picture at the finish line.  But, it was the confidence booster I needed heading into Lake Sonoma.  And really, who doesn’t love some Sufferfest and a frog cupcake at the finish line :).  I’m excited for it to be my first race in 2017…here’s to (hopefully) a PR.

Then there was Lake Sonoma.  It was…terrifying.  A terrifying amount of elevation…a distance I didn’t have a good track record with…a course I wasn’t familiar with, but somehow I made it.  I trained better than I ever have….ran more miles In preparation….hydrated, and then hydrated some more.  I spent 25 miles thinking about how I was NEVER going to run 50 miles again.  It took me less than 24 hours to figure out exactly what I would do differently next time and prepare to enter the lottery again.  While fighting the plague of 2016 before Christmas, I found out I’d get a rematch in April 2017.  Here’s to lessons learned…another PR…and a new coat….

2016 also brought me OrangeTheory…seriously the best workout I’ve ever gotten and probably the reason had two successful races and survived the third.  It started as a way to train and stay sane while I was working in Redwood City, and followed me to my new role in the city.  Along the way, I made some new friends and got into the best running shape I’ve ever been in.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to getting my butt kicked so much.

And, most exciting of all, 2016 brought me a new job.  I started at Charlotte Russe in July, and it has been amazing.  It’s gotten me back into retail and it’s been everything I thought it would be and more.  It’s small, but not too small, and a super flat organization – which is great…I feel like I can make a big impact.  My team is great, as is the larger Ops team.  They motivate me to be a stronger leader, teammate, and employee.  I survived retail holiday and had fun doing so.  No more Sunday blues, or Monday blues, or…well, you get the idea.  After several nightmare years – including my own Devil Wears Prada experience, I appreciate this amazing opportunity that much more.  I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.

Again, much like last year, it ended with a race.  I closed out the year and spent the first moments of 2017 at Coastal’s 24 hour race.  I got to see a lot of familiar faces as well as some new ones.  It was the first time I spent the night at Crissy Field…what an experience that was…haha.  So fun to cheer on the runners that braved the chilly night and kept moving.

So, here we go…here’s another year.  Here’s to 2017 being as good of a personal year as 2016 was…here’s to a couple of PR races and the lottery of pain part 2…here’s to the world still being standing at the end of it…here’s to one more trip around the sun…

First, Forget All the Rules

Well, what a difference a year makes, in so many ways….

First, Labor Day Weekend wasn’t that long ago, and instead of stressing over a smashed car and how I was going to get to Redwood City, and trying to get a hold of the insurance company, I enjoyed my weekend.  I spent Saturday working at Coastal’s Point Pinole race directing runners – now that was an adventure.  Saturday night, Brian and I tried a new restaurant on 24th St. – Novi….well, the restaurant was new, we just hadn’t been there before.  I’m not sure why, creatures of habit, I guess.  It was delicious.  Great food with a Mediterranean flair, and our waiter was fabulous.  Then, we hit our new favorite wine bar…also not new, but we’ve only been there a couple of times.  Sunday, we did a whole lot of nothing….but we love bad movie Sunday and doing nothing.  Monday we went out to Mt. Tam to get in a run for the holiday.  First trail run for me since….April, I think.  Regardless, first trail run since my hip has actually been allowed to heal.  It was great until I tore open the back of my foot…damn blister.  Oh well….at least that’s easily heal-able.

Next, I’m six(ish) weeks into the new job.  And…and I just love it.  I love the work, the people, my boss, my team, the industry in general.  I’m excited to go to work for the first time in a very long time…no more Monday blues….or Tuesday blues…or Wednesday blues…or, well, you get the idea.  Its been great learning a new brand and a new team, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

And, then there was the race.  My first since April.  Not that I had a ton planned, but I did have to sit that one in August out (look at me learning how healing works ;)).  I’d signed up for the Giants Race 10k with a friend several months ago, and since I was allowed to start running again, it wasn’t that far (I’ve hiked nearly twice that distance several times in the recent past), and the miles I’d done at the gym had gone well, I figured – why not?  And actually, it ended up being a good time.

Packet pick-up was far easier than the emails made it out to seem – even though I was there at a supposedly key time.  Got my bib, t-shirt, a bunch of pins, and a creepy bobble head.  I almost offered it to the gym when I popped in there…I totally should have.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with it….

Anyway…race morning was pretty seamless too.  I was super early, which I guess was good, since I’d done minimal planning the night before (read – I threw my entire bag from packet pickup into my running bag).  So, luckily, I was early and had time to sort the bib and pins and breakfast and whatever else I had going on.  With 45 minutes or so to start, I headed over toward the start line.  Not a far walk, but you never know what the port-a-potty situation is going to be.  It wasn’t awful, and soon I was making my way towards my corral.  Before I got there, I heard my name…one of my friends/former co-workers from Old Navy was there volunteering.  So great to see her and catch up for a bit.

I found my corral with several thousand of my closest friends…a far cry from the Fro-yo run back in April.  And, somehow managed to find Leng just as we started the race.  So, just as I suspected, I chased her for the first three miles….which actually passed pretty quickly, and seemingly before I knew it, we were passing signs that said half marathon – straight, 10k – left.  Granted, we passed these signs for at least half a mile.  I’d say they made it impossible to over-run the turn-around, but I know better.  There’s always one.  But, again, pretty quickly, I was giving Leng a hug, wishing her luck and heading back towards the finish.

My last three miles were for the most part, slower than my first three.  I did manage to pick it up for the last mile and point two.  Overall, three minutes slower than my 10k in April, but not bad for not having been able to run much since then.  It was on pavement too….way harder than the trail I ran on last weekend.  Apparently all my Orange Theory power walking paid off.  And there’s always that 10k in October to get even….once I’m even more healthy.

So, Giants Race…definitely a fun experience.  Well organized event…other than for the poor souls leading the 10k who had to run like salmon for their last three miles, but overall, fun and I’d do it again.

And well, another month has gone by.  I feel like I say this a lot, but where did August go?  When did it become September?  I have got to get better about updating this, but I guess that’s what happens…life happens.  It’s already September….here’s to continuing to love the new gig, here’s to North Face (50K this year!), and everything in between.  But, until then…over and out.

You can take the girl out of retail…but Apparently, you can’t take retail out of the girl…

When did it become July?  Really, when did it become the middle of July?  And what happened to June…as I look back, the last time I blogged was May.  I guess life happened….and for awhile, it felt like there was nothing going on that was blog-worthy, when it turns out, I guess everything was going on.

And…where to begin.  I guess with the big news…after more than a year away, I’m finally back in retail.  Last week was amazing – it was great to be back in an industry that I’m passionate about and at a great company.  Everyone I met LOVES working there.  It was just refreshing….and I’m so excited to be part of the team and to see what the future brings.

As excited as I was to get back into retail…and as much as I needed a change, leaving Redwood City was difficult…more so than I thought it might be.  I learned and grew so much there, as a leader and as a person.  I’d made some good friends, and while I know I’ll still talk to them, leaving wasn’t easy.  But, I knew it was the right decision for me and what I want to do in the future, both personally and professionally.  At the end of the day, an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ conversation is far more difficult than, ‘it’s not me, it’s you’.

Moving on from Redwood Shores also meant saying goodbye to the gym and the friends that I’d met there.  Really, the place and people that kept me sane for six months.  From the first day I walked in, to cheering me on for two races, to the day I left,  they were never anything but warm and friendly….and I could always count on a good workout.  Even if I was injured and taking it easy (read: not running), I still left looking like I’d just finished a Bikram class.  The day I left, they put my name on their member spotlight board and my photo on their instagram, wishing me luck in San Francisco.  The good news – I’m not that far away and can go back and visit.  The better news – there’s an Orange Theory in the city that’s only ten minutes from my new office.  Not as convenient as right downstairs, but it will work.  I’ve gotten so much stronger…(over 300 watts on the rower last week, what?!), I’m excited to see how far I can go.

And, then there’s my hip.  Since I’m working in the city again, and the doctors in San Carlos seemed to be at a loss after the ART got me to 80%….(other than the one that seemed to think it was torn cartilage without ever doing an exam), I decided to go back and see the doctor that fixed my knee.  He took a look last week and then injected it this week. It was similar to the first two knee injections I had last year, but the good news is that he thinks one set of injections and some PT should clear things up.  As much fun as six injections on a Friday afternoon were….and sitting around all weekend.  As much as I needed the rest, I’m really not good at doing nothing.

The bad news….I think I have to call it on the 50K I had planned for the end of August.  Everything should be healed by then, but I definitely won’t be ready.  And, rather than push it, have a miserable time, and risk another injury, I suppose I’ll just shift my focus to North Face and my 2017 races…whatever they end up being.  That race will come around again next August….

So, here’s to new beginnings and healing quickly, here’s to a great end of summer, and to an even better end to 2016 than the fabulous beginning.

What a Wednesday

“Don’t worry about the future, Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum.  The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. On some idle Tuesday,” Baz Luhrmann

The day began like any other Wednesday, or similar to it.  I was taking my quarterly half day to get another long run in before Way Too Cool, so I had a bunch of extra stuff with me….and one side of my throat had started to hurt, so I made some tea for my drive to try to help it.  But, other than that, pretty ordinary.

Traffic was traffic….maybe not as bad as usual, maybe just as bad.  I don’t really remember.  Typical backed up places, typical nightmare 280/380 interchange, but since I do it everyday, I’ve learned to handle it.  Then came the interchange on to 101….

At first glance, it looked like things were moving, which isn’t always the case.  Great, we like that.  As I drove down the on ramp, I noticed something that looked like a cloud of dust or smoke or something.  However, as I saw other cars swerving to get out of the way and about ten of them pull over, I realized it wasn’t smoke or dust or anything other than an SUV rolling across the freeway.

It came to rest in the median between my on ramp and 101 just before I passed by.  It seemed like for a moment, maybe more, everything just stopped.  The cars on the on ramp came to a standstill, people poured out of the cars that had pulled over, running to help.  A great showing of human kindness amidst the chaos.  I remember thinking I should call 911 and digging out my phone, but just as quickly tossing it away when the line was busy.  There were several people on phones on the median – I would assume doing the same thing I was.

Before the traffic on the on ramp began to move again, I watched a woman climb out of the SUV.  Her look of terror, relief, and confusion, is not one I will soon forget.  Hopefully she escaped with minor injuries and was the only one in the car.

As I proceeded down the road, I saw the emergency vehicles coming from the opposite direction.  And, then life moved on.  Cars kept moving…..cars merged on to the freeway from further south none the wiser to what occurred only a few miles behind them.  Me, it just got me thinking.

Who knows where anyone involved was heading this morning…..work, school, picking someone up at the airport.  But, I can pretty much guess that this wasn’t anything that they planned on.  Then life changed…..in the blink of an eye.  Scary.

For only a short while ago, I was headed out of work early for a holiday weekend.  I stopped for gas and was heading to join the gym.  And a truck tried to drive straight through the back of my car.  Thankfully, this was a far lower speed (compared to the freeway….I still maintain the guy never slowed down), but nothing I was expecting.  I was excited for the long weekend – a race on Saturday, something fun on Sunday and Monday, maybe a couple of runs in there somewhere.  And in the blink of an eye….I’m dealing with insurance and driving a rental car for six weeks.

“I really regret that run,” said no one….ever. 

After spending half the day at work, I continued with my plan to get out on the trails.  I was hoping for 16-20 miles, and I know a great 18 mile course at Horseshoe Lake (conveniently located near the office), so the clock hit 12, and I was off.  I should have known it wasn’t going to be my day when I got parked and tried to set up my watch.  Of course it’s locked…..and of course, no matter what I press, I can’t get it to unlock.  Not annoying at all.  Luckily, I had my phone and my Strava app, so I could still track my run.

Things started off just fine, I planned to run the half marathon and five mile portions of the Horseshoe Lake race course, both of which I had done before and I had a map, so I knew where I was going.  Kind of.  Sort of.  Basically follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  Some climbing, some rolling, good training.  But, for some reason….not sure if it was my morning or because it was the middle of my work day or because my watch didn’t work or because I was already sore and tired, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I ran along the half marathon course, quickly finding my way through the Christmas Tree Farm and on to the trail, up to the point where Ksenya and I turned around a mont ago (back when I started to get sick….who knew I’d still have remnants of it a month later).  I paused there to admire the beauty of it all….the trail, the sunshine, the fact that I’m able to get out there.

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Shortly after that, I hit my stride…at least for a little while.  Music was good.  Trail was run-able.  I was in it.  Until this happened….

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Now, it says the trail is open for hikers….if that’s the case, why are both the gates locked? It’s bright and sunny…it can’t be that muddy.  And, I’m little, I could always fit through the gate, right?  After some brief contemplation, I decided that fence jumping onto a closed trail was probably a bad idea and there were just as many trails back towards the car, so why not head that way.

I was able to run most of the way back to the car.  Hopefully that means I’m getting stronger and Orange Theory and the back to back shorter days are paying off.  Once I got back to the car, I headed up the five mile route, but at this point, I really wasn’t feeling it. Again, maybe it just wasn’t my day.

But, not to be outdone by the beauty of the first lap, the second lap was just as nice and included some friends.

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These two came flying down the trail and off to my left quick enough to scare me a bit.  They get close here too!  I feel like the deer in NY would run away if you so much as walked by the window, but here they come right up and walk on by.

I turned around shortly after seeing the deer and headed back down to the car.  I ended up with eight miles…not the greatest, but eight miles more than I would have gotten had I not hit the trails.  The shorter day today combined with the sick I’ve been fighting forever, has me a little worried for Way Too Cool.  And, really more than that, Lake Sonoma.  I can probably pull 30 miles out of somewhere….I did in late October/early November, but 50, as I’ve learned is a whole different ball game.  But, Way Too Cool first…let’s focus on that.  I’ve still got this weekend before I need to taper and the back to back training day thing is new for me.  Hopefully it gets me there.

So, after giving myself a pep talk during the car ride home and a nap once I got there, I leave Wednesday with two thoughts.  One, a day in the sunshine on the trails, no matter how tough, beats the office any day.  Two, I need to stop stressing about this race.  Life is too short, 2016 is a new year, and it’s supposed to be fun.  And I’m a stronger runner than I’ve ever been….I’ll get through it.

Until next time….

Life in Overload

So, at the beginning of 2015, I promised some sort of New Year’s update….ringing in the new and casting off the old, or something like that.  And, I intended on it, but as always, the time got away from me….life got in the way….things happen.  A lot happened.  After awhile, it felt like I’d been writing this entry for at least six months, and then I realized I had.  And then I backed off…and then it was almost 2016, so I decided to wait.  And reflect.  And now I have pages of randomly typed thoughts and feelings….semi-sober, deep down, and at times heartfelt/heart wrenching thoughts and feelings.  What a ride it’s been……

It started with a race….

I rang in the new year doing the thing I love most….which ended up being my first 50-miler and fourth ultra of 2014.  It was fun and tough and boring and great all at once.  And, somewhere along the way, I learned that AIDS Marathon friends are some of my best friends.  Something that I think I’ve always known, but forget to be thankful for.  I also learned that 50 miles on pavement and gravel takes its toll on the human body and ended up staring down a knee injury for most of the year. That was an adventure in and of itself, a nagging, not-that-painful-but-I-know-its-not-normal adventure, requiring rest and PT, and two rounds of prolotherapy and a platelet injection.

Then, life threw me a curve ball…or kicked me in the shins…or both.  I thought I knew the trajectory I was meant to be on, but turns out – life had other plans.  And, sometimes, as hard as it is, knowing when to let go is just as important as continuing to hold on.  I feel like there is so much I could say, but, as I also learned, some things are better left unsaid.  Things happened and it wasn’t ok and in my opinion, unforgivable.  But, sometimes it’s all about letting go and moving on.

Because, you never know what adventure you’ll find once you do.  Right now, I’m still not sure what that is yet.  But, I get to figure that out, and I am so excited for that.  Sometimes you have to let go of the planned finish line …just like a race.  You’ll still get to there, it just might look like Coyote Ride or the North Face in 2014, and be a little different than you imagined.

It continued with a race…

Starting out the year with an injury and a healthy dose of stress was no fun, but I quickly found a way to stay involved with running and started volunteering again.  It was something that I’d loved, but had given up in the craziness of work and school.  As I got more involved in my free time over the summer, I learned to mark and sweep courses, and drive a giant van up and down some winding roads.  I had so much fun exploring new trails and helping other runners…In the absence of all I knew, I found somewhere new to belong and something to focus energy on.

And, not to be out done, the back half of the year had to give the first half a run for its money.  Whether I was getting re-acquainted with a certain fashion novel or finding out what happens when slimer gets in a fight with a Toyota Tacoma (nothing good), I began to anxiously await the arrival of 2016.  I’m not sure why, something about turing the page, casting off the old, and bringing in the new felt fresh and necessary.  Then, when I thought it was over, I had the opportunity to cross driving down the freeway with the flu off my bucket list (also not good).  Since it’s not 2016 yet, I suppose I should knock on something…..

It ended with a race….

I plan to end 2015 (and then begin 2016) with the same race I ended 2014 with. Though this time, I’ll be working at it, not running it. Racing for me is on hold until March and then April – the race lottery odds were somehow in my favor and I ‘won’ entrance in to both Way Too Cool and Lake Sonoma, hopefully an omen of good things to come in 2016.  I’ve spent the past week and a half (feels like forever) resting, so my silly ankles could heal, my body could get a much needed break, and I can get back at it in the new year.  Bring it on lottery of pain, bring it on.

This year is nothing I’d sign up for again, I might dare say it’s been the toughest of my life.  But, looking back, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and how differently I look at certain things now.  The importance of taking things one day at time….celebrating the small victories….forgiving yourself…standing up for yourself. Stopping to smell the roses….climbing up one more hill…taking the long way home.  That wine just might be a food group – sometimes it needs to be, and that’s ok.  The importance of surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy.  And if you just keep moving, eventually you’ll be moving forward.

And, above all, the biggest thing I learned is that I have a stronger support network than I ever realized and I will forever be grateful.  I had listening ears when I needed to talk, advice when I didn’t know what to do (or just needed confirmation), and smiles when all I wanted was to frown.  I always had a rock, a safety net, and everything in between. Perhaps that cheesy car commercial has a point – when it’s dark enough, you can see stars.

So, here’s to 2016.  Here’s to good times with family and friends.  To new adventures and new races.  To my continued understanding that everything happens for a reason….and hopefully to understanding what that reason is.

Long December

So, this probably be a long post, written over several days, because…well, it’s been a long December.  Apparently, the year decided to go out with a bang.

The month started out normal enough…marathon planned, zero training, first trail marathon.  Typical me.  haha.  and, as I mentioned in a previous post, it was so much fun.  I need to train better, but I do really want to do the 50 mile race next year.

After that, it seems like it all went crazy.  Some good crazy, some not so good crazy.  The following Tuesday, I had my last class ever.  Very surreal, and a stressor ’till the end, but it was over. Brian surprised me with some wine and a poster when I got home. Thursday that week our good friends got married at city hall.  It was a beautiful wedding, city hall is really pretty, especially all decorated for Christmas.  I can’t believe I hadn’t been there before.  Following the wedding, we spent the day in Sonoma and had dinner at Seven Hills here in the city.  The following day, my parents arrived for my graduation, which was later that evening.  Graduation was fun, and I still can’t believe it’s over.  But, I am excited to have more free time.

Throughout all of this, Gordon, our oldest cat, got sick and kept getting sicker.  He had stopped eating his regular food, so we changed him to wet food, and he started eating again. The. He stopped eating that…sometimes, he’d pieces of ham, or chicken, and we started feeding him baby food. And then, force feeding him baby food when he quit eating all together.  We took him to the vet, and they couldn’t find anything wrong, and then took him back to the vet, and for an ultrasound. And, they still didn’t see much wrong…a kidney infection, but his numbers weren’t bad.  Ugh…poor kitty.  They gave him pain pills and antibiotics and different food, and he seemed a little better for about a day.  They were going to give him a feeding tube, which was a little more invasive than I wanted to sign up for, but if for some reason getting him to eat was the key to him getting better, I wanted to give him that chance. But then he started to have trouble breathing. We took him back to the vet, and she let us know that there was something pretty bad going on – brain tumor, advanced heart disease, or both. None of which are good. She offered to send us to a specialist, but, what would come of that?  Torture him a little longer to find something we can’t fix?  No, that’s not right. So, we made the tough decision to let him go.  Which, was awful, but the vet was wonderful.  Seven Hills Vet in diamond heights. Highly recommend. Highly. The vet called later that night to let us know she was thinking about us.  Today, we received a card in the mail with a sweet note from the vet and a paw print from our kitty. Very touching and very nice.

Then we were off for the holidays!  Somehow, we flew first class to buffalo – I’m still not sure how we swung that, but it sure was nice. It was nice to get home and see the family and extended family, really busy though. Lots of people to see, but it was a good time. I did have a bottle of wine crack/burst/something in my suitcase, luckily, it didn’t escape the plastic bag it was in. We also ordered a bunch of stuff – coats, pants, etc. for our trip after consulting with Brian’s uncle. Getting excited about that….other than having to buy a bunch more stuff. Fun, but ugh….

Work wasn’t that crazy, what was it I said….an alert a day keeps the boredom away…haha. A couple of fire drills at odd times, who doesn’t love working at 3am ;).  But, it’s been fun, and I had a really good store visit while I was there. However, I am looking forward to some time to relax.

And, now 2013 is coming to a close.  Where did it go?  It really doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was eagerly awaiting the departure of 2012, and  announcing that 2013 was going to be the best year ever. I had goals, wishes, things I was going to accomplish.  Did it all happen?  No, but…I do feel like I’m in a better place than I have been the past couple of years. It must be all about a positive outlook.

So, what was 2013?  It was a year of a second ironman, which I still didn’t finish….it was the year where one of my neighbors tried to blow up the apartment building, nothing like hanging out in the street all afternoon..the Jetta exploded and now we have another car payment….it was the year my first pet died, and I’m sure the year of plenty of other things I don’t care to revisit.

However, it was also the year I turned 30 and had one hell of a party. It was a year where I presented a paper at not one, but two conferences.  It was a year where I got to visit and find my way in Germany and had so much fun doing so. I visited a lot of places – Colorado, Louisville, Raleigh, Chicago, Arizona, Bremen, Hamburg, and I’m sure there are others.  I met up with a lot of friends, both near and far, and realized I know some pretty amazing people. I heard Hillary Clinton speak and saw Kelly Clarkson sing.  I discovered the headlands, and know I will always have a place to lose myself.  I bought a bright green car because I could and drove it home blaring Katy
Perry’s Roar. It was the year I finally got to walk across the stage at USF, something three and a half years in the making. It was a great year, for these reasons and more. But, I’m ready to turn the page.

So, here’s to 2014 – here’s to new adventures and getting back in shape.  Here’s to Everest basecamp and a Rhone river cruise.  Here’s to more free time and finding something to do with it all.  Here’s to another exciting year that’s better than the last.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

As I start to write this, which I did days ago, so I could capture thoughts, feelings, memories along the way, beyond what the blog itself was doing, the first thing that came to me was something from a tv show I used to watch, in high school I think, maybe middle school, im not sure.  but during that time, road rules was one of my favorite, cant miss shows, and its tag lines, ‘welcome to the ride of your life’, and ‘throw away your rules, these are road rules’, mean so much more now than they did then.

Because really, this has been the ride of my life.  The memories and photographs mean more to me than I could ever put into words.  Im actually not coming back with that much stuff…most of it isn’t for me anyway.  I wanted the experience, I wanted the days wandering Tokyo, the Shanghai nights, the Beijing history…everything from the foreign subways to the familiarity of mcdonalds.  I wanted the desire to experience it all and the thirst for more once it was done, and well, mission accomplished.

And, ‘throw away your rules, these are road rules’…this has totally been a way to let go of everything familiar and immerse myself in everything unknown.  Because, well, all the rules I once had are all of a sudden very different.

I am thankful for every minute…from getting to Tokyo and having to convince myself that I needed to shower and unpack before I went to explore, to the amazing time I had in Shanghai, to soul searching in Sanya, to my humbling trip to Beijing, to exploring there with friends and then not knowing quite what to do once I was dropped off at the hotel, and was once again alone.  To these last few days, realizing how far I had come, and how far I still have to go.  I’m surprisingly thankful for my ability to get lost, and even more thankful for my ability to always find myself.

And…I’m thankful for my ability to play charades.  Anyone up for a game?

So, what did I learn?  So much, and so much more than I could ever put into words, but to give it a shot…

  • Smile – it goes a long way
  • If you’re walking somewhere…strike that, if you need to go anywhere by a certain time, give yourself at least an hour to get lost – or find it beforehand
  • Brushing your teeth with the water will not kill you.  I’ve done it for 24 days…I haven’t gotten sick, not once.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no, and walk away quickly….otherwise you will end up with a purse, a watch, a bag, a bike ride, and god knows what else I was offered.  And don’t be afraid to scream if they actually grab you.
  • There is a magic chemical in Chinese sunscreen…it’s gross and runny, but somehow works like a charm.  I didn’t burn in Beijing, and I was the only one not to burn in Vegas.
  • Try anything, well, most anything – I did not try the street food and have not been sick.  But it’s amazing what you’ll find if you try everything else.
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy it.  All of it.  Because it’s such a ride…whether the trickshaw driver is like a salmon swimming upstream in traffic, or you’re at some random house, or taking a shot of Tabasco sauce, or wandering Tokyo to find the hotel.  Stop.  Smell the roses.  It’s amazing.  I’m not kidding.

Like I’ve said before, after all the preparation, I can’t believe it’s over.  But, I’m ready to get back to my regular life and where ever I go from here.  Will I do this again, most definitely.  This has been nothing short of amazing, and I don’t ever want to lose that.

Until next time….