Friday, February 21, 2014

Lesson 288: Happy Hearts

Eloise's heart is happy this weekend, Readers.
The Weekend Word from the Lamp Post will be heart-warming for sure.

Eloise is especially elated at the warm reception of The Love Tree.

I decorated a tree in a public park with some Dollar Store garland,

and challenged my family and friends to help themselves to a heart on Valentine's Day weekend.

My kids got one each,

as did the hubby.

So did my teammates,

and some teammate's pooches.
(clarification--dogs, not bellies)

High school sweethearts renewed their love along the edge of the pond.

Grandma loved me enough to trudge through knee deep snow to find one of her own.

Kenyan stole my heart,
and is trying to steal my thunder, too.

Find out why at the end of tonight's blog post.

But my favorite heart thief was this one,
Pretty in Pink,
a student!
My stolen heart is now a pull-tag for her lunch box!

Eloise is happy some of the snow melted.
We got to run on clear roads this week, albeit around and through puddles.

I love how dusk in the wintertime gives the earth a bluish cast.
This shot reminded of the scene from Narnia.  
Leslie is headed back into the wardrobe.
I forgot to set the speed setting.

Love the moon in this shot, too.

My family was happy to see a very cool ice castle about an hour's drive from the Lamp Post.

Those are snowmobiles with flares on a frozen lake.

Last Saturday brought about a birthday celebration,
Team Adrenaline style.

We carried ice balloons up through knee deep snow,
up and down hills,

to the lake cliff for a surprise winter picnic breakfast.
The morning reminded us that summer always lies within.

That revelation is reason enough to celebrate.

Eloise's heart is happy that my team is doing so well.

 Go Team USA!

The Olympics, both Winter and Summer, are special because for two weeks every two years,
 all Americans can cheer for the same team!

There are many opinions about the Winter Olympians.  Are they heroes, or are they a bunch of privileged, spoiled brats?  What significant impact has freestyle skier made to life in general by completing a Kangaroo Flip with a Double Grab?  Heroes or Hellions?  We could make a case for both, I suppose.  It all depends on how you want to focus your lens.

Last week the Governor of Pennsylvania visited our school district to award our elementary schools with the Governor's Award for Excellence.  Should we choose to focus on the fact that Governor Corbett has a dismal approval rating, especially from those on the education front?  Instead, I chose to focus that based on a set of state standards, my schools were the very best.  Applause to the taxpayers, parents, students, and teachers in my district.  We are proof that with a team effort, public schools work.

You can choose your reaction to events, just as much as how you focus your lens.

Were you watching when this Russian ice skater, just 15 and one of the best in the world,
missed a jump and landed hard?

Little Yulia isn't on my team, but my heart sunk for her.
How can someone celebrate another falling on the ice?
Lesson for the weekend:  Your reactions to things reveal your character.  

The Canadians are moving up on my list.
And so you state:
I didn't know they had moved down, Eloise.

Eloise is signed up to run a race in Canada, June 1st.

I have regretted signing up for that stupid thing the instant I clicked send on my registration.
Since then, I've been looking for any and every reason to back out of that half marathon, 
a run along the falls at the US/Canadian border.  It's a scenic route, designed especially for women, that most would jump at the chance to attend.
Except for Eloise.

I've tried all of the following excuses:

I don't like crowds,
I don't like to travel,
I don't like the extra expenses,
I don't want to drive that far just to run,
I don't want to buy an international travel card,
I don't want to go to the event without my family,
I don't want to share a hotel room,
I don't want to sleep in a bed with a girl,
I just woke up the men readers...

Eloise then argued with friends, to whom I pledged I would run behind.

I got nowhere fast. 
I needed to find hard, inarguable reasons to bag out,
that didn't include my personal dislikes.

Eloise turned to the FAQ's page of the website.

I found this:

Can I Cancel After Registering If I Am Unable To Attend The Run?
There will be no refunds.
Can A Registration Be Transferred To Someone Else?
No. This would mess up our Age Group results.

Damn, inflexible Canadians!

How about this one:

BIG NAMES! Yes, if you enter by May 6, your first name will be in large print on your bib. What a thrill to hear spectators cheering for you.

this poses a bit of a problem for a blogger 
with a pen name 
who runs under the name of dead US Presidents.
Boo, hiss!  
No fun!

Then I got to this little nugget:

Headphone Policy?
And, so that you can fully enjoy the magnificent course, the roar of the Falls and the cheers of other athletes and spectators, we strongly recommend that you leave your "in-ear music" at home during this event.

We got a bunch of damn Commies living across the lake!
Roar of the falls over the roar of McGraw in my ears?
Jump at the chance to do this race?
I'd just have to jump.

Then came last week's Olympic Cross Country Ski race.
The Canadians started their climb after sliding down a couple of rungs.

This, from Barry Petchesky's on-line blog summary:
A nice display of sportsmanship in today's (2/11) cross-country skiing men's sprint semifinal, after Russian Anton Gafarov crashed early in the race and broke one ski. He awkwardly soldiered on, falling repeatedly, and it appeared as if he wouldn't be able to make it to the finish line in front of the home fans. Canada to the rescue.
After Gafarov's third fall, Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth sprinted out on to the course with a new ski and affixed it to Gafarov's boot, allowing him to finish a distant last place—but to the cheers of the crowd.
Maybe the Canadians, aren't that bad after all.

The true heart-warmer of the games involves the Canadians once again:

Gold Medal in Brotherly Love goes to Alex Bilodeau, 
the skier who yanked his disabled brother over the barrier fence 
to help him celebrate his victory.

The brothers stole my heart.

Speaking of stealing hearts,
back to Kenyan, 

Kenyan is my speedy-fast sister who makes it a side job burning through sneakers every couple of months. I nicknamed Karen, Kenyan, after the African runners who run like cheetahs. 
 A high-mileage girl on the running front--my sis just completed her first marathon, and has a couple more on the calendar because she loved the experience so much.

We both are in training for the Erie Fitness Event of the Year,
the Barber Beast on the Bay.

Our sisterly hearts are united for a common cause.  The adventure race, involving beach, trails, and obstacles is set for September 6th.  It benefits the Barber National Institute, a school for the mentally challenged and physically handicapped.

Although we share love for the organization and the clients it services, that's as far as it goes.  Kenyan and I are on separate Beast teams.  To make the event a little more fun, we've added a competitive element to this year's race.  You can read about the friendly rivalry on the Barber Beast's blog.  Click here for Beast's blog

All call to anyone interested:
Join Kenyan's team and train with the runners.

Join my team to train with the unconventional.

We'll both be ready to slay the beast come September.
Please, join us!

I can't let the weekend come without assigning some homework.  If you want a great read or listen (both video and text available) on PERSPECTIVE--Click Here.

Here's a perspective that makes me happy---sunrise over the vineyards.  No matter how you focus your lens, the picture is divine.

The song choice this week for the photo video is a no brainer:  Happy by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2.

Set the focus on your lens to the positive.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lesson 287: Shocker

It's a chiller again this weekend, Readers!

We just cannot catch a break with Winter 2014.

When you are snowed in, it helps to be cooped up with the ones you love the most.

Ellen, Sam, and Natalie.
Which two do you think look the most alike?
Mother Eloise can see it.
Can you?

This shot is my favorite of the Valentine's Day batch.

Eloise had a couple of Valentine's Day shockers.

Sam must be a first grade heartthrob.

I found this note in his backpack.

Some little girl must really love him to write a handmade note and slip it in his backpack.

Sam is definitely my hardest to raise.  He's the most emotional, but that also makes him the most affectionate. Sam is fun.  My boy loves a party and also loves a holiday celebration.The kid would have a bash for Arbor Day if you'd let him.  He likes to celebrate holidays just like his Momma--with food, fun, and of course, gifts.

In an effort to connect with my son, I started to play the video game Skylanders with him.
I wasn't happy because there was not a girl character in his collection.  My boy is a great gift-giver.  He bought me Blizzard Chill for Valentine's Day, with his own money, nonetheless.  I got him Gorilla Drill, with my own money, too.

I've gotten many great Valentine's Day gifts over the years, 
but this year's came as a bit of a surprise.
Do you know what this is?

It came from Dr. Krauza's office.
Your weekend homework:  What is this large, cylindrical, foam thing?
Message Eloise your answer.
And keep it clean.

Despite the cold, we had a beautiful sunrise last Saturday morning.
Sometimes the sky looks like this against the lake.

Other times, it looks like this.  
Kind of bleak and cold and desolate.

That is why this Valentine's Day weekend, Eloise decided to brighten nature's backdrop a bit.
I decorated a tree in the park I frequent for walks, exercise, and reflection.

Anyone living in my area can go enjoy the vibrant red, dollar store garland.
Each heart is on a removable ring.  

If you visit the tree along my favorite pond, please take one.
They make great zipper pulls.

Some have already!
A great family,

a girl and her pooch,

two sweethearts,

and a crazy local photographer who is game for just about anything.
Even wading through knee deep snow to retrieve a felt heart.

It is with heartfelt thanks, Eloise says "nice work, Friends."

Along with holding the country's top spot in snow totals, Lake Erie also has 16 inches of ice!
We went out to test it out last weekend.

You just need this handy tool,

to drill a perfectly round hole to fish out of.


There were no fish to be found.  It was even too cold for them.

But we did see the Taj Mahal of ice huts,

My city from a different vantage point,

an ice skater,

and a ********!?!
Does this activity have a name?

Although that was unusual to see, even more unusual was the snow in the south.

This is my friend Tracy Southern and her family.
Even in Fort Mill, South Carolina you can make a Braveheart Snowman.

I sent her this hat in December, so she wouldn't forget her northern roots.
As I mailed it off, I thought to myself, 
Why am I sending this?  She'll never need it.
Sorry South.  
I think that hat was your kiss of death.

Although Southern and Son tried to make their tiny hill into an Olympic event,

my team has done much better this week.

From Saturday morning's brilliant, blue 5 degrees,

to Tuesday night's dark and icy five,

to Thursday's balmy 15,

 we worked out despite the cold.
These photos are proof that you can stay active in the dead of winter.
With friends by your side, it's easy.

Shocker of the week regarding Olympic news:

Shaun White didn't medal!

I was really rooting for the guy.  I'm all about the keeping the streak going.  Still, I had a feeling that morning when I watched him on a Today Show interview.  When asked about track conditions, Shaun looked hesitant.  He reported they were not ideal, which with 51 degree temperatures in Sochi, you would expect that.  What I saw in that interview was doubt.  Once that creeps in, you are sunk.  Eloise speaks from personal experience there.  Don't fall prey to doubt, Readers. That, like Southern's hat, is the kiss of death, too.

The Winter Olympics from most of this week are DVR'd.  I plan on spending most of Saturday catching up.  I can only make it until about 11:00 most nights.  My late night, owl-like behaviors are no more since I've cut back on caffeine over the last year. I've gone from between 80 to 90 cups of coffee a week, to seven.   I've reduced that down even further this week, as I switched that single cup in the morning to half caf.

On Wednesday I had my first cup of coffee in 42 days.
I participated in Erie Chiropractor, Dr. Steven Krauza's 
Doc's Detox.

The specifics in Doc's own words are here:

Eloise refrained from sugar, alcohol, and caffeine since New Year's Day.  In that time of abstinence, I realized what I truly loved.  It is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  There are simply things you can live without, and things you can just never forget about.

I can live without sugar (I like mangoes),
and a Friday beer is a treat (not a need).

But coffee. 
 He's an entirely different story.
I missed tall, dark and handsome,
even just my one cup,

I knew deep down in my bones, that coffee would be my biggest temptation during the detox period.  
That is why I booby trapped my coffee pot with green tea bags on New Year's Day.

When the day came when I freed my last teabag, I swore I'd never do another detox again.

I gaily set out my favorite long, LOST coffee cups for the next day,

and set the timer for my morning cup.

I enjoyed my sips down to the last drop.
There simply is no substitute for the taste of real coffee.
Not even decaf.  

Within a few minutes, I could feel the effects of the caffeine.
A couple of hours later, I posted this on facebook:

Eloise Hawking funny had a cup of coffee and noticed nothing nope nada niet negative reaction still the same old boring slow self plodding through my morning no random thoughts oh God Tom Brokaw has cancer no jumpy reactions my God what was that noise a blast from next door dad must have blown something up no nervousness whatsoever crap I am late were the hell is my mother i have to get to work and i can't find my left boot where did i put that f&^%ing thing no potty words have entered my vocabulary and my hadns are as staedy as evre go glad to have caffeine back in my life it really makes life so much better damn you shaun white you blew it where the hell are my keys i just had them in my hand now where did i put them dammit louie you moved my keys quit touching my keys so glad to have coffee back in my life it calms me down

Being aware and in tune with my body, 
made me realize just why I did the detox in the first place.
It all made sense.

 You hear lots and lots about detoxes.  They are the rage on pinterest.

 They tout foods to eat,

post-holiday plans,

long weekend cleanses,

They recommend water to drink,
(I drink this in the summer, by the way, and it is GREAT!),

baths to take,
(don't skip the scented oil, otherwise it stinks--shocker!)

and there are plenty about green $h!t to drink,
(be brave, that's all Eloise will say).

Detoxes also go beyond food choices.
They suggest ways for taking stress out of your life.

Eloise made a list of people to get rid of.
If you find yourself suddenly blocked on facebook, 
know that you were one of the above.

 I think the biggest lesson I learned from the detox is this:

I can almost hear Doc, my friend Tracy Southern, and wellness coach Jennifer Taylor
 tap dancing over my public realization.

Detoxes are not a diet.  They are not a mental challenge.  Detox periods are needed and yearned for by your body.  If you stick to the rules, and although it seems long, looking back, it really is just a short period of time--your body will reap the benefits.  

Eloise saw it the most in her skin.  I had no winter dry patches, eczema, or psoriasis that I typically get.  My face remained blemish free and I would swear that the whites of my eyes seemed whiter.

I noticed also improvement in my girl-stuff.  Once a month I usually tell my workout mates that if they see a football shaped lump lying on the ground, just to kick it aside.  It probably was just my uterus, that had fallen out during moving jumping jacks.  This time, my cycle was uneventful--almost boring because I had nothing to complain about.

Did you lose weight, Eloise?---I hear through the screen the question you all most want to know.  The answer is I don't know for sure.  The detox period ended with another wellness challenge for school piggy backed right on top of it.  One of the rules for this one is not to weigh yourself until April.  I can say that the pencil skirt I had been avoiding because it was pinching my side after Christmas swings nicely around my middle now.  It was a good feeling.

 Eloise highly recommends this:

at least once in your life. 
If you can do it with a group, do so.  It makes the process a little easier mentally,
knowing others are experiencing similar withdrawal symptoms as you.

It's time for Eloise's night night.  
The clock is nearing midnight and Cindereloise is making a run for her bed.
The detox has changed my nocturnal habits for good.
Now that's the real shocker.

 I have more words I'd love to write, but they can wait until next week.  For now, I'll let my photos do the talking.  The pictures are set to Gravity, sung by X-Factor's Alex & Sierra, my new favorite couple.

Happy Valentine's Day!