Resolutions

Happy 2017!  Hope you all had a great holiday season. 

The most common theme after the turn of year was “Resolutions”.  

People shared what their resolutions were:

  • Eat healthier 
  • Exercise more regularly 
  • Be more patient
  • Generally improve themselves

In most cases, those resolutions are kept intact for about a month…at most!  Then life slips back to the usual routine…there no time for the gym, grab a quick bite here and there, just going into auto pilot mode.

So why isn’t there more success with those resolutions?  

Here’s my theory:

  • It is made to be such an event that there is some self-inflicted pressure making it more of a burden
  • There are no short term goals and therefore no immediate rewards for being able to stick to the resolution 
  • It is assumed to be a one-time deal
  • The motivation wears off due to the above two factors

So how can we be more successful?

  • Do not wait till New Years to decide to make a change!
  • Resolve to make a change as soon as you see a need for it
  • Treat every day or week or month as a chance to ‘resolve’ aspects of your life
  • Give yourself credit for mini successes.  This will motivate you to continue on this path.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when unsuccessful…just try again.  This is your life…you can repeatedly try until you get it right!

A quick way to summarize my thoughts can be through this quote:

“Every day is a chance to be your best!”

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

I left my heart in Utah!

A couple of years ago, my family and I went on road trip that started at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and ended at Arches National in Utah.  

I am sure you can imagine what a calming and out-of-this-world experience it would have been; the scenic route changed from coniferous trees and streams to mountains and farmland and ultimately ended in the impactful RED rock of Moab, Utah!  

We spent four days in the Arches National Park…I could not get enough of it!  I knew that I had to come back to Utah soon to experience more of its natural beauty!

Getting back to the present…we just got back from a roadtrip to Bryce National Park and Zion National Park!  I could say that the experience left me speechless…but that would probably contradict the purpose of this blog. ๐Ÿ˜€

Bryce Canyon National Park

This park is known for its formations referred to as ‘hoodoos’ (also known as tent rock).

A bird’s-eye view of the Canyon.

The “Queen’s Garden”

White-tipped Hoodoos

These unique formations absolutely define this park.  After we took a walk down the canyon, we truly had an appreciation of how tall these structures stand.  A little ironic considering their beauty is as a result of years of erosion by water!!


Zion National Park

Although it is very hard to compare Bryce Canyon to Zion, I would have to say that Zion had a larger “Wow” factor for me.

When we drove in, the moon was out and the rocks almost seemed like divine beings!


It is amazing how water can help plants grow and at the same time carve out a path through huge rocks!

The rocks make a shuttle bus look like a little ant!  It truly reminds me of the superiority of nature!

I honestly could have just set up camp there and stared out of the “Weeping Rock” lookout.  So serene!  It provides an escape from worldly thoughts.  It gives one a chance to remember who they are on the inside…outside of their usual title and labels.


In conclusion, I can honestly say,”I left my heart in Utah!”

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

Happy Diwali!

Diwali…a festival is that represents the victory of “Good over Evil”.  

It is celebrated in many ways:

  • Exchange of gifts
  • Lighting of lamps
  • Colorful designs on the ground (Rangoli)
  • Fireworks
  • Preparation of special foods for the occasion
  • Prayer at home 
  • Visits to the temple

It is a lively festival! 


It made me think though…how many people actually stopped to think about the true significance of Diwali?  I don’t mean reciting the story of Ram’s return to Ayodhya with Sita after defeating the evil King Ravan.  It goes well beyond that!

The good over evil refers to:

  • Us choosing positive thoughts over negative ones.  Instead of assuming the worst of everyone, maybe stop to think about their perspective…show some compassion.  We are always so busy feeing sorry for ourselves that we have no tolerance towards others.  Did we think about this during Diwali?
  • Us trying to better ourselves as human beings, starting within ourselves.  As much as we can wish for others to change, it is more how we deal with them that will make for a healthier relationship. This won’t happen overnight either…it’s our perseverance that will determine that success. Did we think about this during Diwali?

It is a common mistake.  We get so wrapped up in the tangential parts of a festival that we forget its core message.

Food for thought.

A.K.

Fall…the start of a new beginning

My favorite season is fall!  Being from Milwaukee, I hear a lot of people say,”Oh no, it’s Fall…winter is around the corner!”

How can you short change such a beautiful season?!  The color palette resembles that of a rainbow at times.  


Who knew that a simple halt in the production of chlorophyll could create such a transformation?  


From a blast of color to a blast of bareness.  From a blast of bareness to a blast of the white stuff. From a blast of the white stuff to signs of new life. Finally, little shows of green as the trees slowly come back to life and eventually stand in their full glory!


So fall is just the start of a new beginning!


A.K.

Training for a TRI

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, TRI refers to a triathlon (swim, bike, run).

Back in May, I completed a marathon…completed being the key word.  

I had trained for about nine months straight to get there.  I certainly had a feeling of “workout burnout” after getting my prized finisher medal.  

Some of the thoughts that went through my head were:

  • “Gosh…I am done with these looong runs!”
  • “I need a break from religiously working out!”
  • “I am not doing anything more than a 10K!”

For the most part I went with those thoughts.  My runs were limited to 3 miles, 4miles at the most two to three times a week.

This summer, every time I went on a bike ride with my husband, I would jokingly talk about prepping for an Ironman, the ultimate distance triathlon (yeah right) just to get him in a panic…much like he experienced when he watched the last 6 miles of my marathon.  There was really no seriousness to that statement though…at the time.

As summer progressed, and with every additional bike ride, I started to think, “Why not?”. In my mind though, the timeframe was somewhat qualified. Specifically, when both the kids  would have “left the nest” (and I would have all the time on my hands to enter into such a crazy endeavor!). So it was about a 7 year plan…or so I thought. ๐Ÿ˜€

When I casually mentioned this to my veteran Ironman teammate, he broke it down for me on how to get there; Sprint triathlon(16 miles) Olympic triathlon(32 miles), half-Ironman(70.3 miles) and Ironman(140.6 miles).  I had no idea that smaller distances were even an option, so this got me a little excited.  After the marathon, I did not really want to train for a super long event, but the Sprint and Olympic seemed like a fair goal. As the saying goes, “The rest was history!”.

Swim

Did I know how to swim?  I guess…enough to move around and not drown.  But definitely not anything that would cut it for a race.  

I had to seek help in this area. But I had to get past some hang ups first:

  •  Expose my weaknesses to a total stranger?  Luckily, I am at a point in life that I am totally comfortable with that.  
  • Go swimming any day of the week or month?  I said to myself, “If I want to be a triathlete, I have to go swimming ‘rain or shine'”!
  • Wear a swimsuit despite my minor body image issues? Too bad so sad…get over it!

I am pretty sure that after the first swim session my trainer must have thought to himself, “My goodness,  I have my work cut out for me!”.  But it has been 6 weeks and we have made a tremendous amount of progress in that area.  

See, you can teach an old ‘dog’ new tricks! ๐Ÿ˜€

Bike

 A few spin classes introduced me to a couple of unused leg muscles.  “Well hello there…have we met before?” I asked.  Now, we are quite familiar with each other.

The best or worst part, depending on your perspective, when training for an athletic event is the investment in “stuff”.  What stuff you ask?  I had a 20 year old department store mountain bike that I needed to replace. To put that into context for the young ‘uns…I bought the bike at a time when smartphones did not exist and digital cameras hadn’t taken off yet…you had to use ‘film’!  I needed a lighter weight bike that would not make me feel like I was doing resistance training every time I rode it.  I got one that had thinner wheels and a different braking system. 

The first step was to overcome the fear of falling off the bike.  It took me a few weeks to get used to its dynamics, but I finally got to a point where I did not fear climbing the bike (yes I can be wimpy at times).

Run

I have run a whole “wonderful” marathon.  Old hat right?  Not really…unless running like a turtle is an option (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration).  I really wanted some guidance in this area.

In addition to the swimming, my trainer and I work on strength training.  That doesn’t just mean lifting a bunch of weights (which used to be my definition strength training prior to working with him). Of all the types of strength training we do, my favorite is the ‘Box jump’!  It actually makes me feel like an athlete. ๐Ÿ˜€. The result of the strength training though has been faster run times (yay!), better swim endurance and more muscle tone (of course).

So you could say, there’s no turning back now.

I will try to triumph at the TRI but more importantly, I will enjoy the journey!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

India today

This summer we visited India.  It had been about six years since our last visit. While some things remained the same, there were also quite a few changes.

The biggest change I noticed was the amount of traffic. I honestly don’t know how people commute under such conditions.  I guess there are just a set of unwritten rules that the locals have developed over the years.  Even as a passenger,my heart skipped a beat a few times!

Traffic in front of the Chennai High Court


Can you imagine crossing the road?!

Strangely enough,it seems like there are fewer fender bender cases.  Perhaps it is the constant honking that keeps all drivers on alert! ๐Ÿ˜„

There were so many varieties of restaurants. There were a lot of western options (which my kids appreciated for a change) but what was more impressive was the innovative ways they served Indian food! Barbecue, dim sum style, classic banana leaf style.

I definitely put on a few pounds during the vacation!

I was most interested in showing my kids the cultural,natural and historical aspects of India. In the words of my kids, “Of course you would Mom!” 

I myself did not grow up in India so I can certainly relate to their experiences.  But as a child, I enjoyed the simplicity of life in India.  The sonpapdi (Indian dessert that I can’t resist) vendor would ring his bell as he pushed his cart down the street (Much like the ice cream truck minus the creepy music).  Veges, fruit and fresh flowers were all sold by street vendors. It had that more “Support your local farmers” feel.

I found some of that still hidden away in all the clutter of shops and cars.


You can even get ‘Henna’done on the street!


We visited a place called Kanchipuram (two hour drive from Chennai) which is known for its historical temples.  I was honestly in awe!  

These temples are over a thousand years old! Half the time I stood there just wondering how they built them.  The precision of the sculptures, the height of the arches, the smooth rounded pillars. All this without the technology of today.  Technology can sometimes be overrated…seriously!

Varadharaja temple entrance

Sculptures within the temple 


Ekambaresan temple – amazing symmetry and detail 

Kailasanath temple – made of sandstone


Chennai itself has many impressive temples.

Kabaleeshwar temple

Marundeshwar temple tank


My temple experiences involved reflection of some sort you could say.  It was meditation through observation or mindfulness. Atleast it wasn’t about, “Please give me this” or “Please make this happen”.  Personally, I think that misses the point altogether.  To each his own on that one!

With more development, the Information Technology boom and more people building houses where they shouldn’t, it is so hard to move around. Pedestrians can barely walk on the streets. Even cows are feeling this. 

Cows hanging out at the beach


I have seen cows on the streets, but this was a first!  

There is so much talent, skill and beauty (material and natural) that India has to offer.  I only wish there was better infrastructure (and some amount of regulation) to help it grow successfully.  It’s sadly a dog eat dog world in many cases.

A.K.