MADAGASCAR: LEMUR SPOTTING

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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Lemur spotting was at the top of my to do list in Madagascar.  One afternoon we drove to Parc Ivoloina to try our luck.  Parc Ivoloina is part zoo, part lemur natural habitat.  The Parc houses a dozen lemur species, most of which are endangered.  Species include black and white ruffed lemurs, white-fronted brown lemurs, crowned lemurs, red-bellied lemurs, grey gentle lemurs, bamboo lemurs, brown lemurs, and blue-eyed black lemurs.  A path curves along the lakeside and lemurs ruffle through the tree branches above.  These guys are incredibly quick with feline agility — kind of like a cat crossed with a flying squirrel.  We lucked out and happened upon feeding time which afforded us the perfect photo opp and the chance to see a few lemurs up close.  All in all, a great afternoon.

 

[Parc Ivoloina is located about 30 minutes from Tamatave on the east coast of Madagascar.  The parc is open every day from 9am-5pm.  The price of admission for foreign visitors is about $8 and guides are available for an additional $4.]

LANDED: MADAGASCAR

Monday, September 22, 2014

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I’m sitting in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel in Antananarivo having a cup of vanilla tea and sending a few emails before I hop on my flight and start the journey home.  Work has taken me up and down the northeast coast of the island and what an experience it has been.  I look forward to sharing more this week.

LONG RUN: THE SPACE BETWEEN

Friday, September 5, 2014

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I spent yesterday in DC getting a new passport.

I vividly remember standing in line at my college town’s post office waiting to submit my passport renewal paperwork ten years ago.  Ten. Years. Ago.  It was finals week in December.  I rolled out of bed and threw on a t-shirt and a fleece.  As I waited to be called to the counter I remember thinking about how old I would be when that passport expired – almost 30 (I know, I know).  I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and as I thought about the decade that passport would carry me through everything looked so fuzzy.  I wasn’t sure where I’d live or where I’d work – heck, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to find a job when I graduated.

I was about the travel to Africa for the first time.  On Monday, I leave for Madagascar.

Ann Lamott poses this question:  “Where is meaning in the meteoric passage of time, the speed in which our lives are spent?”

My instagram feed has been inundated with images of children boarding school buses and captions decrying the speed at which babies have grown up.  There are efforts to soak in the last moments of summer and there are efforts to embrace the changing seasons.  (Inaugural pumpkin spice latte, anyone?)  It seems that we are collectively asking, “where did the summer go?” or maybe even “where has this year gone?”.

To be honest, I’ve found it a bit irritating – relatable, but irritating.  I mean, come on people, let’s come to terms with it.  The seasons are changing; it iSeptember.  Then today, I found myself asking a similar question:  “where did the last decade go?”.

And that’s where Lamott’s words started to resonate.  We can’t stop time, but I wonder if we can’t slow down it’s meteoric passage to a gentler calendar page turn.

After yoga on Monday night, I rolled up my mat and walked outside to my car.  I said goodnight to a friend, then looked down at my phone and noticed I had missed three calls.  My phone started to ring again and at that point I realized I had mistakenly taken my husbands keys leaving him stranded at the house.  An urgent work email came in from a different time zone.  I started my car and music came on.  I scrolled through my instagram feed, liked a few images, and then I checked my personal email.  I put the car in reverse and as I drove home to rescue my stranded husband I thought about how many things I had given my attention to in the preceding three minutes.  At least seven.  In three minutes

My least favorite part of Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is when he describes the space between a stimulus and a response – a space that we control.  How inconvenient.  I find it much easier to be reactive than to give a careful, considered response to a given stimulus.  Covey says, “quality of life depends on what happens in the space between stimulus and response.”

Also, I need to consider the fact that choosing not to respond is a response.  If I chose to respond less, I wonder if my life might feel a little less frantic.  I wonder if the passage of time might slow a bit.  I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out.  I mean, isn’t that part of the reason why we love to run?  The solitude, the singular and intentional pursuit of something worthwhile?

I think it may be time for me to do a bit of editing — less mindless responses, more intentional action.  It’s time to own the space between stimulus and response.  Because the next time I go to get my passport renewed, I want to make sure I’m not just standing in line dumbfounded about how fast time flew by.  I want to be flipping through that old passport’s pages reminiscing about a hell of a good decade.

LONG RUN: LABOR DAY

Friday, August 29, 2014

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Running last night it hit me:  I’ve been home for almost two months (save a quick trip to Boston, meetings in DC and a weekend at the beach in North Carolina).  After traveling for the entire month of June, being stateside this has been both unexpected and welcome.

There is something magic about being seaside in the summer – maybe it’s simply the proximity to water.  Our favorite trail ends at the bay – the ideal place to recover.  After work we hop on our beach cruisers and bike to the bay – the perfect punctuation between the office and a summer evening.  On Friday nights we order takeout (or we did until our long runs got really long, now we have pasta) and head to the beach to eat and watch the sunset.

I’ve got 16 miles on tap tomorrow morning.  Afterwards, I fully intend on taking advantage of everything a seaside summer has to offer – there are plans to kayak, steam clams, make ice cream and relax at the beach.  Wishing you a long weekend full of the your favorite summertime things.

SIP: THE BEST ROSÉS FOR SUMMER

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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Ryan walked into my office unannounced yesterday afternoon with flowers and a bottle of champagne in hand to deliver some really, really good news.  When I looked at the bottle, I was a bit surprised by his selection – Veuve Cliquot rosé, not the traditional yellow label.

I guess it is the summer of rosé — a trend that I am fully on board with.  Just in case you are looking for a bottle of wine for the long weekend, here are my three favorite [easy to find] rosés this summer:

 

Aimé Roquesante Rosé

This wine is my #1 pick.  It’s a light, acidic and refreshing Provençal rosé.  This wine is a GSM blend (Grenache, syrah, mourvèdre) and it is the prettiest color — a pale pinky orange.

Available at Whole Foods, $14 ]

 

Charles & Charles Rosé

This wine holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first rosé I ever found that I really enjoyed.  It received 90 points from Wine Spectator and is 100% Syrah.  The bottle has a screw top making it the perfect choice for a picnic or evening at the beach.  The tasting notes describe the wine with words like watermelon, grass and wet stones – what could possibly be more appropriate for summer?

Available at Total Wine, $13 ]

 

Veuve Cliquot Rosé

This is the most expensive pick, but if a celebration is in order I can’t imagine better summer bubbles.

Available at Total Wine, $59 ]

 

In case you’re interested, further reading on rosé from the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine.

 

Cheers!

FROM THE WEEKEND: HERMIT CRABS + TREE SWINGS

Monday, August 25, 2014

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We’ve enjoyed an uncharacteristically cool summer here on the east coast.  With a drop back week and a high of only 81 degrees, I slept in on Saturday morning and ran my eight miles late in the day.  Sunday was lazy and playful – the perfect way to usher out summer.  Ryan and I spent time at the bay catching hermit crabs and then had dinner at his parents’ house where I tested out their new tree swing [for the grandkids] while the fish was on the grill.  I was reminded on George Sheehan’s words:

 

“To play or not to play? That is the real question…You can have peace without the world, if you opt for death, or the world without peace if you decide for doing and having and achieving. Only in play can you have both. In play you realize simultaneously the supreme importance and the utter insignificance of what you are doing. You accept the paradox of pursuing what is at once essential and inconsequential…Play is where life lives, where the game is the game. At its borders, we slip into heresy, become serious, lose our sense of humor, fail to see the incongruities of everything we hold to be important. Right and wrong become problematical. Money, power, position become ends. The game becomes winning. And we lose the good life and the good things that play provides.”

 

Wishing you a week full of play.

 

[ PS:  If you haven’t read Running & Being, I highly recommend it. ]

LONG RUN: SHOWING UP

Friday, August 22, 2014

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I’ve found myself in a prickly situation recently – entrenched, but not in the position to untangle it.  In my more zen moments I can acknowledge that it is what it is and let it be.

I needed a bit of zen Tuesday night so I plopped down on my yoga mat – a place I haven’t found myself in quite sometime.  This isn’t a class with a soothsayer instructor (you know those yogis who whisper wisdom straight to your soul?), so I had tempered expectations.  My left hamstring has been tight since my long run on Saturday and I knew I could use a few deep breaths.

The instructor opened the class with this:  “You showed up for yourself tonight.

Sitting in lotus pose it hit me:  I’ve been waiting for a referee to show up and mediate this tricky situation – to apply the rules fairly and ultimately validate my position.  But, as my mother always said, “fair, my dear, is a term for the weather.”  And, good heavens, isn’t it exhausting seeking validation?  What a terribly useless pursuit.

I wrote recently about showing up – about the importance of presence and authenticity.  Last night I started thinking about how much easier it is to show up for a friend or an important cause than it is to show up for myself.  We sabotage ourselves with self-doubt, fear, judgment, comparison, the need for validation.  But, what if instead we showed up for ourselves like we (try to) show up for our friends:

  • Not to intervene, but to affirm.
  • Not to problem solve, but to be thoughtfully present.
  • Not in defense of, but on behalf of.
  • Not to judge, but to discern.
  • Not to untangle problems, but to generate space.
  • Not to point fingers, but to make peace.

The yoga instructor’s words stuck with me through the week.  When I didn’t feel like running on Wednesday night, they came to mind.  I went ahead and ran the miles, not because I had to or because I’d be disappointed with myself if I didn’t, but because I really want to run a great marathon this fall.  And showing up for myself meant lacing up and getting out the door.

Showing up for myself means having the wisdom to know where my energy is well spent and where it is not.  It is having the discernment to know when to intervene and when to let go, and the courage to believe that my position needs no outside validation or justification.  Showing up for myself means that the commitment I have to myself to do the best I can where I can with what I have is enough.

What might it mean for you?

KAYAK CLAMMING ON THE EASTERN SHORE

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Growing up we would spend the summers in Rhode Island.  Some of my most vivid memories are of clamming with my dad – walking through tall reeds and wet muddy sand to get to a favorite clamming spot.  My dad would rake up the clams and then I would reach down in the murky churned up water, barely keeping my head above water, to retrieve them.  He always refused to pay for a permit to clam even though I’m pretty sure it would’ve only cost like $7.  Being under the age of 14 I wasn’t required to have a permit and, as such, I was the designated clam digger.  I’m not sure what age I was when these outings began, but I think I was pretty little.  We’d bring our haul home then experiment with clam chowder recipes – my favorite soup to this day.

On Father’s Day I wanted to recreate a version of that experience.  I searched around on the internet and found a company called Southeast Expeditions that leads kayak clamming tours on the Eastern Shore.  We woke up early, met our guide, hopped in our boats and paddled out to a sandbar.  We walked around the sandbar digging our toes in the muddy sand in search of bivalves.  Within a few minutes I found one, then another and another.  Our pile mounted and we left with nearly 50 pounds of clams!  These were big quahog clams, not the little cherrystone steamer clams.  We got home and tried our hand at fritters and then made chowder.

Lucky for my dad, there is no permit required for clamming in the state of Virginia and so he was happy to do all his own clam digging.  Poetic justice and a happy Father’s Day, indeed.

 

[ Our experience with Southeast Expeditions was fantastic.  Our guide was wonderful and even sent a handwritten post card the following week.  I really cannot say enough good things about the company (even though I wasn’t paid or perked to do so). ]

MONDAY: ANTI BAD VIBE SHIELD

Monday, August 18, 2014

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And just like that it’s Monday morning.  Summer weekends slip by so quickly, don’t they?  Quiet Friday nights preparing for long runs, early Saturday mornings logging miles, then recovering on Saturday afternoons.  A few lazy hours on Sunday and then, somehow, it’s time for the work week to begin again.  Today I made ice cream and then Ryan and I snuck out on our bikes for an early evening ride before a family dinner — we’re doing our best to squeeze every last ounce of sunlight out of these summer days.  Here’s to a work week full of good vibes…and summer fun.

[ photo taken by me at Deux Ex Machina in Bali summer 2012 ]

 

LANDED: GENEVA

Friday, August 15, 2014

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In a rather sudden turn of events, I found myself on a plane to Geneva on [a recent] Monday.

I’ve never been to Geneva, so I was thrilled at the opportunity, but also slightly terrified at the speaking engagement set before me.  This was my first interaction with the UN system and it was entirely fascinating – thousands of people meeting, speaking, writing, setting policy.

I woke up the morning of the speech feeling vaguely nauseas and very nervous.  I walked into the lobby of the hotel where the event would be held later that evening and I printed a few notes.  I sat down feeling overwhelmed and underqualified.  I knew I needed to recalibrate.

I’ve carried this phrase with me since I was tapped to talk:  “presence and authenticity matter more than planning or perfection.”  I turned the words over in my head a few times and noticed the parallel in my feelings to a moment during a recent race.  I consciously replaced wishing I had prepared more with gratitude for the opportunity to speak about something I care deeply about.  The knots in my stomach started to release.  The fear was still real even as I approached the podium, but I took a deep breath and reminded myself of how grateful I was to be present, to have a voice.

A posture of gratitude allows us to summon the courage to show up.  It offers us a sense of perspective and the ability to acknowledge the fear and then move through it.  And, perhaps most importantly, gratitude allows the clarity to see through fear and understand that what is in front of us is a precious gift.

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