Monday, April 27, 2015

Run and done

   I knew it had been a while since I had run more than 5 miles at a time… Turns out it was March 26, when I did 6.36 miles. Today I busted out 5.2, at an average pace faster than my 10k pace. My feet and legs have been giving me trouble since last August/September. Been rolling them out (thank you, Erik, for goading me into it), and have been slowly improving. Other than a tight left hamstring, this morning's run felt great, and I know I could've gone further. I just don't want to push it until I am back to full fighting form.
   One thing I was keenly aware of this morning were the different scents that I picked up along the way. Spring time running is so pleasant, with the air infused with lilac, spirea, other flowering shrubs, freshly cut grass, even a faint smell of onions… Perhaps allium? And running past the farmers market and bakeries smell amazing.
   There were some negatives, too. On one of my routes, I end up running past a couple of fast food restaurants, and the smell can be absolutely sickening. If you're trying to cut back on junk food, try going past one of those places when you're exercising. At another point, I saw an SUV coming towards me, and even at a quick glance I could tell the both the driver and passenger were smokers, just by the look of their skin. Sure enough, as they drove past, I smelled overwhelming cigarette smoke, and their windows were closed!
   Something about being active seems to heightens your senses. And this run also heightened my appreciation for being a healthy person with the ability to get out and run. It isn't easy, but I got it done.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekend cram session

From bright-eyed to zombiefied:
   Behold! The outcome of 24 hours of training packed into less than 2 1/2 days. This was our last full weekend for scuba instructor development course, until the week of the instructor exam itself... At the end of May. Our course director has a lot of travel coming up in the next few weeks, so it was now or never.
   I could much more easily be up and moving and highly active for that many consecutive hours, than I can sit down in the same chair all day, intensely focused. The first few hours of Saturday were great, but as the day went on, it became more difficult for me to concentrate, and fatigue set in. I think I invented about 50,000 new ways to sit in a hard, uncomfortable, metal, folding chair. Some people get drained from exercising, I get drained from sitting.
   The good news is, through it all, none of us lost our sense of humor. The six of us have been through a war together. A war that ended happily, with grilled hamburgers and plenty of beer. And tonight as I was relaxing, I drew these cartoons to capture some of the fun.
   Two years ago, I couldn't have imagined myself as a diver who was highly comfortable in the water, much less a divemaster. And I certainly never imagined I could complete a scuba instructor program. It just goes to show you that life tends to put some incredible opportunities in front of you, if you are willing to challenge yourself. This certainly has been a lot of work, but I am so glad I embarked on the journey!
PS: found this today and thought it was appropriate:
   Apparently, I really, really want to be a scuba instructor. ;)

Friday, April 24, 2015

5-star day

   Today was pretty epic. I started out with a 4 mile run around the neighborhood, enjoying the cool air. Then I went to my coaching program and bumped into yet another happy ex-Hallmarker, who used to work in IT.  Then I met with my career coach and got some great advice on my resume, portfolio, and next steps for my career exploration. That was followed by a fantastic conversation with a recruiter… we really connected, and it gave me a huge boost. Can't wait to see what might come up from our conversation!
   As I was wrapping up, I got an unexpected text from Ginny, who was in town for a meeting with a potential employer, and she had just arrived at my house! So I headed home and we went out for lunch. Not only was lunch delicious, but the server was, too. He invited me to go dancing, which could only lead to complete and utter humiliation... which sounds like a lot of fun. A welcome respite from the seriousness of thinking about the rest of my life and CPR study.
   By the time we got back to my house, I had another message from a different recruiter. I followed up with her, and she was also fantastic. She's going to talk about me with her group on Monday to see what opportunities they may have to offer... She mentioned a couple of companies that got me VERY excited. 
   Ginny and I worked on a project together. And then it was time for her to head home, and for me to pick up my supah adorable new specs! (Nike, what else? I even happened to be wearing a Nike shirt... Nerd!) 
   Then I ran out to the dive shop for our emergency first response/CPR instructor training. As of about an hour ago, I am now an EFR instructor! Just a few more weeks until I take my final scuba instructor exam and add that coveted certification to my credentials.
   Whew! Very busy day, packed with so much goodness, that I think I better get to sleep. We start training again bright and early tomorrow morning.

EFR for CPR and AED. Ole!

   I will admit that part of the reason that I went ahead and proceeded with the scuba instructor development course was that I just couldn't wait to keep working with the same group of great people with whom I earned my dive master certification. We just have a lot of fun, no matter what we are learning. And tonight was no exception. Similar to the last time we practiced primary and secondary care:
   Congrats to all of my friends (and to myself): we are now emergency first responder/CPR instructors!


   Irony: I am studying CPR, and my dog looks like she might need it #CPR #EFR #aki #jenspets #areyouokay #imanemergencyfirstrespondermayihelpyou

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Animals' best friend

   I created this little piece using a gold metallic pen this afternoon, to donate to local animal shelter Wayside Waifs for their upcoming event, the Fur Ball. I'm also donating one of my framed "make your own luck" pieces featuring a Maneki neko for the cat lovers out there. Hope they bring in a lot of money!

Inspiration: fresh start

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Charlie and the Snowboard

   I drew this while waiting for my car at Toyota this morning. I was catching up on my Scuba instructor assignments when a text popped up from Charlie: "YETI MISSES JEN!!!" So I replied that I should have taken him snowboarding with me. Which he thought was maybe not the best idea. Which of course made me want to draw it.
   Charlie (who may or may not actually be a yeti) is more of a "sit in the cozy lodge in front of a roaring fire sipping a hot toddy" kind of guy than a "hitting it hard and shredding some serious powder staches on the steep and deep" kind of guy. But I still love him. He steezy.

The "Office"

   I practically have whiplash, going from the 18° and blizzardy conditions in Colorado, to the 70° springtime explosion here in KC. I'm not even complaining… They are both my favorite. Still, it was jarring.
   Also jarring, not having to go to the office five days a week. I am trying not to enjoy my time at home *too* much, because I do want to return to a more regular work schedule someday. But after 18 years working 40+ hours a week in a beige cubicle (and the last several years, working in the company's bomb shelter: no windows!), I have to admit that it is pretty nice to be sitting out on my deck with my laptop, watching my pets frolic in the yard.

Inspiration: adjust accordingly

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Physiology of Everest

   Brett and I attended yet another science-y lecture at Linda Hall Library, this one with Dr. Bruce Johnson, professor of medicine and physiology at the Mayo clinic; and Conrad Anker, mountain climber extraordinaire and author. Soooo glad to have friends who love to nerd out at lectures as much as I do!
   Dr. Johnson spoke about the physiological changes of elite climbers at altitude and the similarity to symptoms and effects on the body as patients with heart failure. He performed a study on Anker and others as they climbed Everest--Anker's third climb. He concluded that people who have experience living at altitude, such as the famous Sherpas, and trained athletes with the greatest capacities for exercise endurance, such as Anker, are better able to deal with the adverse effects of hypoxia. But he did also say, "above 18,000 feet, you're not acclimating, you're tolerating." Meaning that even great athletes often yo-yo up and down the mountain before making their final ascent, and they don't stay long at the top.... Because they can't.
   According to Johnson, the carotid body and sympathetic nervous system's response to hypoxia is very similar to heart failure. Both produce an increased ventilation rate, significant changes in sleep architecture such as apnea, and pulmonary edema. He said that healthy climbers experience a state of homeostasis between their breathing and the collection of lung fluid, and it results in a net reduction of that fluid over time… A healthy response. He is using his findings to improve quality of life for heart failure patients.
   Anker was up next, and showed amazing still photography as well as time lapse video showing the changes in these mountains over time, due to both climate change, and the continual movement of the plate techtonics which created the Himalayas in the first place. He said that the mountains are being pushed up at the same rate that our fingernails grow every year, and that Everest is just a bit over 29,000 feet today. He talked about the historic climbing parties, beginning in the early 1920s, up to the first summit in 1953. The primitive gear and clothing that these men use made it all the more astounding that they even attempted to climb. He spoke of the great friendship and teamwork that developed between Hillary and Norgay, and how it enabled them to reach their goal together.
   All of this went a long way towards convincing me that perhaps I should attempt Everest someday. I know it is a significant financial and training investment. I know it is fraught with risk I wonder if my body could even handle the challenge presented by the conditions and the altitude. I guess there is only one way to find out, right? 
   On a slightly related note, I found a similarly interesting article from DAN (Diver's Alert Network) this morning about the physiology of diving:

Larger than life, shorter than sh**

   Hector doctored my ski trip photo!!! Hahahahhahahahahhahahahaha!!!
   And to counteract that bit of humiliation, here is my result from a Facebook quiz that a friend posted. The result is supposed to describe you with one 5 letter word. Does this sound like me?
   Astoundingly magnetizing, you say… Tell me more, Facebook quiz! :)

Inspiration: happiness and strength

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop
"Comfort is the enemy of achievement."
"Be a warrior, not a worrier."

Welcome home

   Lucky me, they are working in shifts to welcome me home and keep my feet warm. Missed my furry family so much!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Easter surprise

   David outdid himself – again – with another care package of homemade biscotti and chocolates, this time in a funny bunny basket. Lucky me.

Matt's Circus

   Check out these incredible photos of Matt Kesler's work. Much respect to my amazingly talented friend!

Ski trip humor

   OMG, who made Kansas so freaking wide and so freaking boring?!?! Mo is taking her turn at the wheel, so I'm taking the opportunity to capture some favorite quotes from the trip, as is our custom:

Jen, referring to having a tiny skid on Copper road, after miles & miles of super treacherous driving: DONT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN NOW, MOSEY!!!

Maureen & Jen: Pinot? I say Pi-yes!

Maureen on dating: At least you're not sitting at home waiting for the UPS man to show up. 
Jen: ...although if he's hot I will accept that package.

Maureen, remembering that she forgot to pack "something" on the last trip: there are NO PANTIES for sale in Breckenridge!

Playing Cards Against Humanity:
Maureen, having drawn an awful card: oh my god you guys, this is worse than @** cancer!!! (There were a lot more quotes from that game session, but most of them are not fit for print.)
Maureen, at Kemosabe sushi: can you imagine if we had one more roll coming? That would be like packing a musket!  ...a little revolutionary war sushi humor.
Maureen, referring to the Nets covering the base of the mountains along the highway: it's bad for business if a bunch of rocks are falling on people.

Maureen: the plot is thinening. 
(On discovering why her step-daughter wanted to stay with her--avoiding her mother because her book report wasn't finished)

And we passed a bumper sticker that said "STEEZY" so we looked it up. I think I might have to legally change my middle name.