Monday, August 30, 2010

A comparison of the end there is not one at all!

As I woke up this morning, I am in a nostalgic mood but not of many years ago, just over the past few years I was having memories flood my mind and a smile appeared on my lips.   I was reminiscing about things that have happened

I was thinking about how I have changed as a person, inside and out. How things that bother me, bother me in a complete different way. For example, instead of being just hurt most of the times, I'm more pissed that whoever hurt me had the nerve to do so.

I am working on my self daily but my most stagnant holding back element in my life is my mother. She knows how to push my buttons in a way that no one else can. Our roles have reversed in a manner that my sister and I are her parents, literally. I will refrain at the moment from going off on the "mother tangent" but I'll just say this, among my friends with whom I share some more intimate aspects of my life, my mother won, hands down, the "Dysfunctional Mother of the Year Award." I have distanced myself from her as she has become the most toxic person in my life and has been for a long time. Yes, sometimes guilt or duty does take over and I feel obligated to call. But when I do and she answers the phone and though my number is stored in her phone, she pretends not to recognize my voice the guilt quickly dissipates and anger floods my whole being. What mother does not know her child's voice? In a room of two thousand people, a mom knows when her child says, "momma." That ranks right up there with her comment to me that she forgot I had dimples, what the hell? So her award, is very much earned.  She makes my blood boil.

All I can say is thank goodness for Irma.  I'm certain she was sent to me as much as her son was.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and on the same token people enter our lives at exactly the appropriate time.  She has been god sent.  I feel so fortunate to have in as a huge part of my life and my children's lives.   She has helped me realize that a mother figure can be something positive.  I could go on for days about Irma, but I won't.  She has by far to date been one of the most influential people in my life, just by being herself not for any other great reason other than she loves me for who I am without question.  In all honesty, the preceding reason is the only one I need.

Last Saturday I get a phone call from Irma.  I answered she asked me what I was doing in forty minutes.  When Irma is concerned any time frame like that involves food or coffee.  Well I had mentioned that I had loved bacalaitos that she had made before, well Nik told her so guess what, she was making them for me and didn't want them to sit and get cold.  So we showered and Nik and I went over to her house to eat lunch.  I love those things and could probably eat my weight in those and her pigeon peas and rice too.  While Nik and I were eating we told her that we would love it if she came over to the house and used the exercise equipment if she'd like.  She has taken us up on the offer and has lost three pounds in her first week.  She has been consistent and I am so proud of her.  I told her I need her to be around for a long time, so her journey to a healthier lifestyle has begun. 

I am aware that Irma is not my mother, but she is there for me as if she were.  There is no comparison between the birth mother and Irma.  I am so thankful that she is such a huge part of my lives and that she loves me no matter what. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the longest thirty minutes of my life...

The occurrence of a call that can stop my heart, cause a lapse in breathing and literally make me count the seconds until thirty minutes is over, that was eight o'clock today.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, Nik's mom, Irma is the closest person I have ever had to be mother figure with whom I can share whatever without repercussion.  To me she's like no one I've ever had in my life, if there is a such thing as a perfect mother-in-law, her picture would appear beside the definition.  In the few years that I have known her, our relationship has grown and we are truly friends and she is my confidant.  She as talks to me about anything and I mean anything which is just fine with me.  On more than one occasion I have conveyed what a great job she did raising her son.  I cherish every moment I get to spend with her.

Yesterday she even began her journey to getting her life back full.  She and I discussed how she had always been a caregiver to everyone else.  I told her it was time to take care of herself.  I told her that I could not imagine my life without her in it and that we needed her to be around for a long time.  So she began her journey of working out yesterday at our house.  She did the elliptical, and did it well for her first time.  Nik and I were and are so proud.  She will be back tonight.

Well back to the phone call that stopped the world from revolving. Irma had not been feeling well last week, running a temperature and a few other symptoms but she ended up going to get blood work.  Anyway the doctor had left a message last saying that she needed to call the office concerning her blood work.  In a panic she called us this morning thinking that the office opened at eight o'clock. Of course, my first thoughts are the worst because last year was rough, to say the least on both sides of our family. As we all know doctors offices are not opened all night so this made the waiting even worse for her, I cannot even fathom what she was going through. She called at eight and the doctors office did not open until eight thirty.  So we had to wait to find out.  I felt like I was holding my breath and my heart was faintly beating for the thirty minutes that felt like an eternity.

Finally at eight thirty my phone rang, it was her. She was not crying, so I'm figuring either she is in shock or everything is just fine. I think I might be able to breath now, then she says the doctor says "it's all good." I started laughing because I was overjoyed that she was ok. She said," Jes, Pam I am just fine." She finished it off with an "ah, ah, ah and I'll see you tonight.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Facts: Little known facts and just general pearls of wisdom I have come to hold as true in my 30s

Sometimes I read on Facebook where people including myself, post notes of list of facts that maybe known or not. I have learned interesting things about such folks and decided to include one in my blog.

  1. My first and middle names have every other letter as "a" - Pamala Rana
  2. I have been and currently am a collector of books and still have most of my childhood books and treasure them.
  3. I am torn on whether or not to get a Kindle as I feel it is kind of blasphemous. :)
  4. Books have been a constant my whole life.  Whenever I have moved, many times as it has been, I always unpack my books first.
  5. My most fond memory of starting school was the smell of the books.
  6. I am very independent.
  7. My drive is undying.
  8. Determination is my motto!
  9. My best friends throughout life other than Lori, have been guys, they tend to stab you in the back less.  They also will be totally honest with you, which I cherish.
  10. When I was a teenager, I was part of a Mime Ministry and Puppet Minis as well as a Clown Ministry.
  11. One of my best Thanksgiving Days was distributing leftovers to homeless people in Five Points.
  12. My children and I volunteered at a shelter to pass out Christmas gifts one year.
  13. My favorite sweatshirt, I bought at Goodwill for a dollar, it's over twenty years old and is still in perfect condition.
  14. Most of my favorite pieces of clothes actually come from consignment stores - my ripped A&F jeans, a limited tee that I like to wear with them, entire outfit - $6!
  15. I just adore my black Chuck Taylors and no I don't think I'll ever stop wearing them.
  16. My favorite, favorite boots - Flame Biker Boots - consignment 5 bucks
  17. I have wanted to be a hairdresser since the age five.
  18. I love my job to say the least and do not see myself not doing hair.  The impact that I have on people's lives is more rewarding than any other job I think I could have and out weighs the hours of standing on my feet in heels.
  19. I took piano lessons for about eight years.  I have a passion for Classical music especially Beethoven and Chopin.  I still have all my music.  I'll have a piano again someday.
  20. I live in the most precious log cabin home on over an acre of land with a huge electric gate.  I call it my doll house and knew that it was meant for me to be here the first time I sat on the porch swing.  It is the most cozy home, anyone who comes in also comments that as well.  
  21. Some of the most important people in my life, who have no clue of the impact they have had on me.  I am trying to let them know.  I know when someone tells me that I inspire them, it is an incredible feeling.  I want to be able to share that with others.
  22. Most of my clients have become my extended family and for that I am most thankful.
  23. Life is way too short for it too be filled with "toxic people" even if they are blood relatives, a choice has to be made. Live life to it's fullest or full of negative people that drag you down and suck the very life's blood from you. I choose the first option.  In other words if people are dead weight in your life and they  do not compliment (not complete) your life in any way, time to cut your losses and move on.  Life is far too short for drama and unhappy people to clutter it all up.
  24. I do not have the ability to change people, only their hair, so there's no need to try.
  25. Acceptance is a huge deal to all people, just be genuine about it.  No time for fake people any more.
  26. I have realized that I have the ability to choose and choose wisely who I share what with and have learned to keep it to a select few.  By a select few, I can count them on just a few fingers.
  27. Trust has to be earned and once broken is very hard to re-establish.
  28. In the words of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates the words of me, It is all about what you make of it, situations mold us into who we are.  You learn from your dealing with different obstacles and surmounting them which is quite rewarding, maybe not at the time but eventually it will be.
  29. Intertwine your life with people who have a positive impact and those are willing to meet you right where you are with no exceptions.  
  30. I have learned that people come into my life at exactly the right time and they also exit in the same manner.
  31. Anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself and are willing to work hard at it.
  32. I know some sign language.
  33. I can speak some French.

A few of my favorite things follow:
  • Gerber daisies
  • coffee, well motor oil :)
  • birthday cake
  • tattoos
  • reality tv
  • reading
  • learning
  • swimming
  • biking
  • running
  • Martial Arts
  • watching fights 
  • anything challenging
  • thrift stores
  • boots
  • running in the rain
  • music, all types, well except country
  • making someone's day
  • sunrises
  • sunsets
  • thunderstorms
  • traveling
  • quaint little restaurants
  • Thai food
  • Mexican Food from Hola
  • Puerto Rican food
  • Indian Food
  • cooking
  • naps
  • Hannah-isms
  • my kiddos
  • best friends

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I think I have the most rewarding job ever, hands down.  To begin with, being a stylist is what I have wanted to do since I was five years old.  It took twenty eight years to get there but I am doing it, following  my dream.  Everyday I get to "play hair" so really I do not consider what I do a job so much but a pleasure.

I get to share in people's most exciting moments, their saddest and most of the time I know things about each person that they would never share with anyone else, kind of like a bartender.  These people understand that what they share with me will not leave the chair, it is completely confidential.

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the smiles on the faces of those people that I have helped achieve the look that they desire and to do a complete transformation on someone.  Most of the time I only wish that I had taken before and after pictures.  Which brings me to an event that occurred yesterday.

While swimming at the Y, I met a lady, Patty who swims as well.  She asked me in a brief conversation that we had what I did for a living, I told her I was a hairstylist.  She started to ask me questions and told me that her son had really curly hair and was having problems with getting it cut the way that he wanted it and was wondering if I could possibly straighten it.  I agreed and she called to make an appointment for him, Zane.  My initial observation of him was that he was very self-conscious.  His head hung low, should slouched down, and no smile was any where near being formed on his mouth. I am thinking to myself that I hope that I have not bitten of more than I can chew.

I first just started to cutting and thinning.  The conversation between his mother and I was going back and forth about chemical straightening.   In speaking with Zane his anxiety was high because Wednesday was his first day of high school.  I told his mom that I had time to straighten it if she wanted me to and he pleaded please, mom let her straighten it.  Well I did, and it turned out fabulous.

Zane went from hanging his head to his shoulders back and a broad smile across his mouth.  He was truly happy and the anxiety of the first day of high school had been alleviated somewhat.  He was actually looking me in the eye by this point.  The transformation was remarkable.

What made it even better was the email I received from his mom to say that I was Zane's hero.  She appreciated so much that I had stayed late to straighten his hair and that I had boosted his confidence by volumes.  I responded that I was glad that I could help.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Think I may take some time off and other fleeting thoughts!

As I lay in bed on this past Sunday morning, I was staring at the ceiling thinking to myself that after March I may take a whole month or two off from training.  Then the realization hit, no way in hell would I take off that amount of time ever.  My nuclear family would be miserable not to mention I would be permanently banished to the "Dog House" for unruly behavior.  So I began laughing hysterically out loud and Nik asked me what I was laughing about.  I shared my brief and surely fleeting thought with him and his only comment was yeah right.

Sunday is the only day we sleep in.  He is so sweet he gets up with me on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. when I do my distance runs.  I run between ten and twenty miles depending on the schedule before 10 a.m. every Saturday.  So Sundays around our house is like gold.  Usually we still wake up at 5:30 any way but go back to sleep as that is the time we wake up all other six days of the week.

Training has become my second job, too bad I can't get paid for doing it. My schedule follows:

  • Monday:
    • Swim in the a.m. 
    • Run in the p.m.
  • Tuesday
    • Masters swim a.m.
    • Cycle p.m.
  • Wednesday
    • Swim a.m.
    • Run p.m.
  • Thursday
    • Masters Swim a.m.
    • Run p.m.
  • Friday
    • Cycle a.m.
    • p.m. off
  • Saturday
    • distance run a.m.
I'm tired just looking at it.  Hard work pays off, right?  I keep reminding myself of the previous statement every time I move and my body aches, each time I am so wiped out I do not feel like going to work much less swimming, biking or running, each time I put my shoes on and go for broke I remind myself.  When I am finished, I smile, feel accomplished, knowing I am beating the odds.

When I smile I think to myself about how far I have come in a short year, how much farther I will have come in a year from now and I will just keep trudging on making head way and winning small personal victories.  This journey is one of my own, not to prove one thing to anybody else but myself.  Those are the thoughts that flood my mind as I run, ipod-less for miles and miles or swim in silence lap after lap and cycle for hours.

Another downfall I should say is being so ambitious and my drive I am certain drives my nuclear family nuts even though they remain supportive, the sometimes call me crazy.  This type drive is what it takes is what I explain, an undying one.

I was reading a magazine one Sunday afternoon when a question caught my attention.  The question was something to the effect of asking when was the time you feel most beautiful.  It got me thinking. Now I know the answer to that question, I would have to say that moment is when I am the sweatiest I can be from whatever sport I am doing. I have the sense of accomplishment that spills over onto my face and breaks open into a toothy grin with dimples and freckles scattered across my cheeks.

Well, the training continues with the ultimate goal in mind.  The smiles will manifest as the sweat continues to pour, and the sense of accomplishment grows stronger as I push through pain, exhaustion and the overwhelming desire to continue on to that start line that I am so excitedly and inevitably approaching.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Training has expanded my life and knowledge in the following ways....and I have been forever changed

Well I feel as though I am about to stage an intervention on myself, I probably need one but don't judge me.   I am so addicted to exercise, the adrenaline rush from it is a huge perk but needless to say training has forever changed me.  Allow me to explain.

First and foremost, running has taught me especially over the last year that my body is capable of more than I had ever imagined.  It just takes a little time and patience (which I lack greatly in that department) to achieve the goal but it is in fact doable.  This first year of deciding that I would become a distance runner has been one of buckets of sweat, tears galore, sore legs, numerous blisters, economy sized packets of GU, gels and whatever ever else I have to gag down to just have the energy to proceed, ice baths and lets not forget the lovely black toenails.

I knew it would be difficult and I am no stranger to hard work, nor am I afraid of it.  I have learned over the past year that my mind starts to go before my body or legs.  My mind gets so tired that I literally scream at myself to keep going (not out loud), I tell myself repeatedly that I am being weak, that nothing is wrong with my legs to just keep going.  It works for me so that's how I keep going.  Another motivating factor is that running clears my mind, I run without music.  I get to take in all the views of my surroundings.  I have literally watched a  neighborhood being built.  Not only that but I also know every one's schedule for the sprinkler systems in the yards and yes I run through all of them, sometimes even through the yards.

I laugh as I have gotten new referrals at work and when the client comes in for the first time, they say that they have seen me running through their neighborhood.   It's always amazing to me that they all think I'm crazy for running so much but I just say I have a goal and hard work is the only way I'm going to get there.  A common response to that is that they have no doubt that I will.

A few other things that running has taught me is how to run off stress. It has saved my teenagers from being killed, not literally, on numerous occasions.  Listen I just say what I feel and what I know anyone who has teenagers have thought.  If the kids who think they are adults upset me, I tell them we cannot discuss this right now, I have to run.  I will be back in thirty minutes to two hours or when I calm down.  It works like a charm.  That way I can have a reasonable discussion without going off the deep end.  I'd much rather run than to say something I might regret.  Words can be more damaging than a full on punch in the face.  Trust me I know.

  I have learned that I have serious idiosyncrasies.  I run without music, music gets on my nerves when I run. It oddly enough crowds my thoughts and the head phones, although I know they really don't, constrict my neck and prevent me from moving my neck.  One day I almost threw it in the woods.   I do not like anything touching me when I run.  For a while I wasn't sure if I'd be able to wear my Garmin, but I have gotten used to it.   Clothes fitting properly is a must, nothing moving, nothing too lose or too tight.  I'm the Baby Bear, it has to be just right.

Running has also taught me that what is said on the road, stays on the road.  I started running with Lori almost a year ago.  In that year, she has become one of the best friends I have ever had.  She has crossed over into being considered part of our family.   This year has been filled with ups and downs in both our lives and I am truly grateful that she has been here to share them with me.

I have become a mathematician.  I can do fractions in my head now so fast to figure distance, splits, lengths of a pool, calculations of a mile. Funny how it starts to become second nature to figure distance of everything, really everything.  Sometimes Nik and I will be driving, we'll pass a mile marker and say that I ran that far today because it doesn't feel like it's that far.  I mean come on when you've run upwards twenty miles, ten miles becomes just ten miles.  Sometimes, Lori and I joke that the same roads we run seem longer when we drive them.  I know every road, the exact distance of each of them within a thirteen mile radius of our house.

I have learned that finishing the race as long as I have done my best is the most important thing.  I'm lying, I'm working on that but I always have a goal that I am trying to reach. I'm not real good about settling for anything.  I reach my goal and then I'm on to the next one, speedy quick.  Crossing the finish line though is one of the best feelings ever, true adrenaline rush and most addictive.

Nutrition wise, I have had to reprogram my thinking on food altogether.  Being a bodybuilder in the past, I didn't eat many carbohydrates, so many times I would bonk, or run out of energy, because of my lack of stored energy.  Sweet potatoes, honey, and peanut butter have become my staples of my diet.

I have a learned a new respect for the road too.  The last time I checked pedestrians have the right of way.  I have been swerved at, run off the road, name it, it has happened and those driving having been lovingly flipped off.  Now when I am driving my car, I slow down just in case there is a runner or cyclist on the road.

Swimming, I took up that a few months ago.  Call me crazy but oh well.  I am able bodied, nothing physically wrong with me, so why not.  I will start with the "why nots. "  Following is a mini list that was present in my mind oh for about a hot minute when I first started swimming.

  1.  I have not swam for twenty plus years and when I did it was nothing fancy. Just underwater, holding my breath the whole way, which by the way will not work when I am an endurance swimmer.  
  2. I have to get my face wet and my hair wet.
  3. I never, ever go without makeup, and this will be a problem when I have to get my face wet.
  4. I have to wear a swimsuit, horrifying, in front of a lot of people. I'm a very modest person.  
  5. I know precisely where I cannot touch the bottom of the pool so I'm not real encouraged by this fact either.
  6. I also have no clue at all what freestyle is, butterfly is and breast stroke. 
  7. I don' know how to put on a swim cap.
  8. Refer back to number two as the clincher.
So I march my little butt into the YMCA, sign up because there is a pool there and ask for someone to refer a swim coach to me.  That's how I met Joyce.

Our first phone conversation was interesting. I told her that I was interested in learning to swim because I was toying with the idea of doing, you guessed it, a triathlon and I needed her help to be able to do it.  I explained my goals and her response to me went a little something like this, well you know that is going to take a lot of work.  Well, all the eight things on my list were erased quickly and I responded quite snippy back and said, "You don't know who you are talking to, see you Monday!"

Well that conversation occurred a mere twelve weeks ago. I now have the ability to swim more than two miles efficiently and my longest swim has been three miles one day when I had some extra time to spend at the pool.  The first time I got into the water I could even make it twenty five meters without thinking I was going to die. Now I just shut my eyes, imagine that I am flying and swim while telling  myself I have all the time in the world.

Swimming has taught me that I have to pace myself, slowing down swimming has been the hardest thing to date other than the tediousness of the repetition of swimming laps.  I enjoy the time to myself.  I think a lot while I swim, just like running.

Enter cycling.  Well I have begun cycling, on a donated bike, a Trek 1000.  I have altered the bike to fit me and found some of the greatest bike gurus around, Tim and Henry at Summit Cycles.  The day I got the bike, I had to put down the top on my BMW and put it in the backseat.  I pull up into the cycle shop with my daughter Hannah.  I carried the bike inside and handed it over while saying do whatever needs to be done to fix this to fit me.  I knew enough that I wouldn't be able to ride it as is because the person who gave me the bike is 4'11" tall and I'm 5'6".  Never once did they talk down to me as I explained I had no clue about cycling, what I needed to do or even how to shift gears.

During all this time, Hannah is walking around the store, of course picking out things for me to get, cycling shorts and water bottles when Henry asked her if she did all the stuff her mom does.  She replied, "No sir, my mom is crazy."

Henry was kind enough to give me a three hour tutorial on changing my tire, shifting gears and all the other bits of information that he had to give.  He taught me how to break down my bike, what to expect while riding and  he was very encouraging.

The next trip to Summit Cycles was for cycling shoes and aero bars.  While Tim was installing pedals and aero bars, Nik who had come along with me this time was talking to Henry.  I was breaking in my cleats when I heard Henry tell Nik that I would fall trying to engage and dis engage my shoes from the pedals. (I am honestly one with my bike when I ride now, bahahaha, as Brittany would say.)  Nik just shrugged his shoulders at Henry.  We got into the truck and Nik says that Henry told me you would fall.  I said yeah probably so.  He said I'm not worried about you falling, I punch you in the face.  (Now nobody go and call the authorities, Nik is my sparring partner for Muay Thai so he's not abusive. He meant that I can take a punch, I can handle my knee or hand scraped.)

The most important way training has changed me is that it has taught me that I can fully depend on myself.  Mentally I am tougher than ever and I will push through whatever.  Long runs have become just another part of training and now I am actually doing a lot of them on my own, just me, the road and some Gatorade and a determination that will not quit.  Swimming has taught me that I can overcome any fear.  I remember the first time I swam a mile, Joyce didn't tell me what I had done until I finished.  I had only been swimming for five weeks.  That day I shared with her how scared I was of the water the first time I got in.  I have learned a respect for the water that I never had before.  I love to swim and it complements running so well.  It has transformed my body from being stiff as a board to having muscles that actually move.  Cycling is teaching to just keep pushing, it burns but to just go and keep going.

Yesterday I signed up for another full marathon, hopefully this one will not get snowed out.  I have signed up for a triathlon in the future, but that will not be disclosed until a later date...when I did finish filling out my registration form, I texted Nik and Lori and said that I had registered, now I am going to vomit.

The journey is long, it begins and ends with one stroke in the water, one stride and one revolution of the tire. It is rewarding to say the least for my own personal self. I compete against me, my times, my own personal goals.  It is exhilarating to see just how far I can push myself, the mind definitely quits before the body and overcoming it can be the most challenging part.

Triathlon updates to follow, I'll keep you posted.