Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Running Tips to Survive the Winter

Running Tips to Survive the Winter 
Getting ready for a run in the cold!

I have to start this off by saying this:  I hate the cold. 
It is not my thing.  I much rather be sweating my butt off in a tank top and shorts on a 90 degree day than wearing multiple layers and still freezing for the first 10 minutes of my run on a 15 degree day.
But with that said, I still need to run in the winter.
Not for training purposes, but for my own mental health.
And, since I don’t like (okay, maybe “hate” was a bit strong) the cold, I don’t race in the winter, so I don’t have to do any specific training.  So yes, I do use this time to hit the gym, cross train, and work on building muscles that get neglected and will decrease significantly in size by the middle of summer. 

 I really do believe in an “off season” for runners.
However, as winter in the past has been peak season for depression to set it, I found that by actually getting out and enjoying the beauty of winter these negative feeling are significantly decreased.  That means still getting my butt outside and enjoying the trails a few days a week!
Since I’m easily cold, I needed to find solutions to help me stay warm in the frigid temps.  Plus, I have this thing called Reynaud’s Syndrome, which means I don’t get much blood flow to my fingers and toes, causing them to freeze rather quickly.  More than once, I have cried after coming inside as the blood in my hands and toes painfully unfroze…or at least run around my house doing a swearing/singing combination to try and ignore the pain.
Anyway, back to the point… I needed to find ways to stay warm in the cold. 
That left me with 2 options:
1. Grow fur.
It works really well for Pacer.  She actually laid down in the snow to take naps in sub 0 weather. But then I realized I am not a dog.  I went to plan B.
2.  Layer up and buy better gear. 
A bit expensive yes, but manageable.
I’ll start with the slightly more obvious ones:
- Buy good tights!  Yes, good tights are not cheap, but they are definitely worth it and a better quality than the cheaper ones.  I have one pair that I really like, and I wear them on a few times a week.  They might smell, but I’m usually just running with Pacer anyway, and she really doesn’t care.  Additional tip: I highly recommend trying on your tights before you buy them.  And don’t just put them on, jump and run around in them.  I hate a waistband that slides around.  Also, if you run in mud and high snow a lot, I recommend getting a pair with zippers at the ankles.  When you’re tired at the end of long run, it’s not much fun rolling around and trying to pull tights off when they’re frozen at your ankles.
-Layer your shirts and buy a good shell.  I usually wear a warm base layer underneath a good shell.  By the way, shell jackets are amazing!  Because they’re expensive, I put off getting one for a long time.  Now that I have one, I can imagine not having it.  Not only do they repel (or resist) water, but they block out the wind!  This is huge for winter running, as usually it’s the wind-chill that get ya. (I admittedly have a tendency to over-layer up.  While I still start off my running cursing, I’m overheating two miles into it.  For example, today I went out in two base layers, plus and insulated shell jacket. Still, I rather be safe (and warm) than sorry!
-Get a good headband or buff.  This is a must.  Keep those ears warm!
-Mittens are better than gloves.  If you “run hot” you may be able to get away with gloves.  But if you’re like me, they stop working at 32 degrees.  The running gloves with the mitten flap don’t work either.  So this year, I got serious:

First of all, before you comment, these gloves are not pink.  They are “afterglow”.  And I found them for sale (after searching in 3 stores for a real pair of snow mittens) in the boy’s section…and maybe the color is why they were in sale.  Regardless of style, they keep my hands warm!
Last comes the feet.  This is the area that took me the longest to conquer, especially considering the snow seeping into my shoes, or not fully clearing a water crossing.
-Shoes:  When it’s cold and the snow is high, I forgo my beloved minimalist shoes, and get out my heavier, GOR-TEX Salomon’s.  It’s not like I am going to be moving fast anyway, so I just take it as more strength training. 
Pacer wanted to be a show-off...she runs bare-pawed!
-Socks: Yes, buying a $20 pair of socks can sound absurd.  However, they are essential.  Get a nice thick pair.  My favorites that I have so far have been by Dry Max.  If you go for a wool sock, just make sure the wool was taken in a humane way (According to SmartWool’s website, they are animal friendly.)  I suggest taking up your favorite running (like Vertical Runner) or outdoor store’s deals when they have they socks sales, like buy 3 pairs, get 1 free.
We seem to be at the bottom of the totem pole here.   But no, I have one more tip for you, which has been my savior the past 2 winters.
You see, even after wearing my good socks, even wearing 2 pairs of good socks (which can actually make things worse if you start to cut off circulation), my toes still froze and left me crying in pain in my car.
Not knowing what else to do, I asked for help on Facebook, and a friend gave me tip used by skiers that changed everything for me.  What do they do?:

 -They put jelly (Vaseline) on their toes!*** (please read the note at the bottom)
And it worked!  No cold toes!       

Now, before every cold, snowy run, I put gobs of this stuff on my toes before slipping on my Dry Max socks.   
While I still don’t like the cold, at least when I’m running I can stay warm from head to finger to toes!


***Vaseline is NOT an animal-friendly product.  Yes, I was using it in the picture as I bought my jar a few years ago (originally for chapped lips), but after writing this I felt guilty and found a animal friendly substitute in the BABY section of a store.

Beforehand, I did do a Google search which was unproductive (there were many natural products, but they included beeswax, which is not vegan...Yes, I'm picky!), but PETA has a long list of products ( ) and there has to be another alternative there.  However, if you have any products you like, please leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Lesson on Love, From the Dog: How Pacer has Taught Me to Love Unconditionally

A Lesson on Love, From the Dog:

How Pacer has Taught Me to Love Unconditionally

[I’ve written other blogs previously on lessons we learn for dogs, but I believe the greatest lesson these four-legged and furry animals (or should I say sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grand dogs, etc.?) teach us is about love, and what it truly means to love.]

“Dear God, please help me to love myself as Pacer (and Steve) loves me.”

I wrote these words in my journal, not very long ago. 

I was in the middle of reading Marianne Williamson’s “Return to Love” and I realized that I never truly thought about what it meant to love.  I also realized then when I did love, it was often with conditional terms.  “I love him, but not when he does that.” “I love her, but I can’t stand it when she’s acts like that.” Etc. Etc.  But never were the terms of conditional love truer as when it came to loving myself. 

 My self-love and self-worth came with what I succeeded in, and often not succeeded in.  At one point in my life this dealt with weight, grades, and basketball.  More recently it dealt with my running times, job(s), and whether or not I thought I was doing anything worthwhile/making a difference in the world.

 In other words, everything depended on the “if”.  I only loved myself “if” I did this, I only loved myself “if” I achieved that.

 Of course, I knew that kind of thinking wasn’t healthy.  I tried to stray away from those thoughts.  It helped a bit when I reminded myself that my family and friends loved me regardless.

 However, it was until I thought about Pacer that I truly understood what it meant to love, and to love unconditionally.

 With her, we fell onto that path naturally.  From the moment she laid on my lap as we drove her home from North Carolina, our relationship was pure love, and that love went both ways. 
Puppy Love
 I loved her despite the fact that on that trip home, she threw up in my lap.

 I loved her even though as a puppy, she nearly drove me insane.

 I loved her even when she chewed my good running socks and I chased her for 20 minutes around the house, finally giving up in tears.  And still when I let her outside to do her thing then wouldn’t come in back in, making me later for work, I still loved her. 
I didn't like this pillow anyway

Then there was the time I left the homemade veggie burgers on the counter, which she grabbed, ran, and devoured.

I love her despite her protective and aggressive side, common I later learned, in herding dogs.  With that, she has bit someone (not a full on bit, but more of a bite you would give sheep to get them in a circle).  Instead of being mad at her, I cried at the thought of someone trying to take her away from me.  (I decided a would run away with her before that would ever happen.)

 She has surely cost us a small fortune, especially with “doggy boot camp”.  (Once we had workers at our house, and I came home to my house set-up like a barricade…We forgot to put Pacer in her “place” and the workers shunned her off with plastic lids, closing doors, and putting couches in doorways.  When I got through, Pacer was just sitting at the top of the staircase looking at me.)

Now, at 2 years old, things are much better, but she is still mischievous, rebellious, and full of energy.

For example, a few months ago “someone” left the garage open (which we never do) and she chewed my new pair of running shoes.  (That “someone”, despite owning a running store, has still not yet gotten me a new pair.)
Pacer after her first 15 miler

Speaking of running, I probably waste half of my energy on the trail telling her “No!”, “Pacer, back!” and “Leave it! (Squirrels are our friends, not food)”.  And yet, she is still my favorite running partner.

She too, is meant to run unleashed.
Each time I get upset with her, the anger subsides minutes later.  I forgive her, without even thinking about forgiving her.  
I love her so much that any feeling of anger melts away.  Lesson: Love is the only thing that matters, and should take precedence over everything else.  (Reminder to self:  Keep this in mind during next “difference of views”)

 I love her, simply because she is my Pacer.

Thinking about it more, I realized she loves me unconditionally as well.

 Never once when she was a puppy and I put her in her crate did she shun me when I came back home.  I was, and still am, greeted with a wagging nub (her tail was docked) and much licking. 

 She loves me even when I accidently step on her paw.

And last year, when I accidently cut the skin on her ear while trying to get a knot out of her fur, she still forgave me (actually, it took me much longer to forgive myself.)

She loves me at my worst, she loves me despite what job I have, if I had a bad day, made a mistake, and…despite how fast I run (however, she does prefer fast).

(And she has seen me at my worst...there have been quite a few times where she soaked up my tears with her fur.) 

She simply doesn’t care about all those exterior things… She just loves me because, well, I am me.

And that’s enough.

 A few months ago I wrote about my mom’s dog, Annabell, who has an incurable disease affecting her kidneys, causing her to piddle everywhere.  Still, she is as energetic and playful as ever, plus the normal puppy mischief.  My mom always tells everyone “all she wants it to be loved”. 

That is so true!
 And it’s true with all dogs.

 Love is at the very essence of their being.  And isn’t it so with us too?  I think so.

Because of Pacer, I am learning what unconditional love is, and to bypass any imperfections in others, and in myself.  (Isn’t perfect boring anyway?!?) It is definitely not easy.  It takes practice. 

But, it is worth it.

Even despite those chewed up $100 pair of shoes.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rach’s Restaurant Review for Vegan and Gluten-Free Dining in Asheville/Black Mountain

Rach’s Restaurant Review for Vegan and Gluten-Free
Dining in Asheville/Black Mountain 
Sunny Point Café

                There are many, many reasons why I love coming down to the Asheville, NC area.  For one, there are the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I fall in love with them every time I see them…and once you’re in Asheville that’s pretty easy as it seems like they surround the city.  Then there’s the warm(er) weather, the fact that dogs are everywhere, and the relaxed/artsy/ liberal culture.  It all just makes me feel completely at home.  And the other major reasons I love coming is…the food! 
                The food and options available in this part of North Carolina are amazing.  I eat 100% vegetarian and about 80% vegan and gluten-free.  That can make it tough when eating out in Ohio, but here, it’s almost the norm.  The other added bonus is the support of local farmers and organic food (I’d say about 1 out of 10 cars has an “Eat Local” or some type of organic bumper sticker).  Anyway, the food (and coffee!) here is awesome.  (I’m pretty sure it’s a crime to eat at a chain restaurant or get coffee from Starbucks)
                The list below includes only restaurants I’ve been to.  It’s a very small list in the grand scheme of things.  There are so many more places I’d like to try, and at the same time go back to some of the same restaurants again to get something else off the menu.  Also, my ratings also include restaurant vibes.  As long as Steve’s not really hungry and crabby, I’ll walk out of a restaurant for one of 2 reasons: the options stink, or the atmosphere is off.  I prefer restaurants “in the middle”…not very pricey, with a decent amount of people.  It probably annoys Steve a bit, but I really dislike going to expensive places to eat.  For me, I just feel out of place and I hate paying a lot for a little bit of food.  And I like enough people there to make the place lively, but not so much where I find myself in a maze of people trying to get to the bathroom (I’d take crowed over empty though.  At least I know the food’s good).
                This probably makes me seem really picky.  I guess I kind of am.  But, I really do enjoy good food, both in taste and how it nourishes my body.  Anyway, here my food review for this Asheville adventure:

Dripolater Coffeehouse (Black Mountain) *****
This place has just about the best coffee ever.  Steve swears they put “something else” in it.  All I know is it is really, really good –and pretty strong.  Also, while they just serve pastries for food, they have gluten free (gf) and vegan (vg) free options by the register.  I tried some type of gf breakfast bar and I loved every bite of it.  However, while the ingredient list didn’t list eggs or milk, the main label didn’t say vegan.  I decided to ignore this fact. (Side note: I brought a banana with me for a “complete” breakfast)  As far as atmosphere goes, it is the perfect place to chill before or after a run.  I could stay there for hours! 

The Trailhead (Black Mountain) ****
Probably the best bar I’ve been to, for several reasons.  One, I had a tempeh sandwich with a kale salad! Yes, at a bar!  Two, they had live entertainment.  Its karaoke night every Wednesday, which is usually a few local guys getting together singing folk music-they were awesome!  Three, that vibes were relaxed and we had a great waitress/bartended that really made for an enjoyable dinner (minus Steve having his phone out for half of it).

Louise’s Kitchen (Black Mountain) ***
We stopped here for breakfast one morning before heading out for a run/hike with Pacer to Catawba Falls.  The place was really cool and cozy in a little house where you order up front and then sat down in one of the side rooms.  However, I was a little disappointed in the menu as I was hoping for oatmeal and they didn’t have a whole lot of gluten free or vegan options.  I ended up with a bowl of granola with fruit on top (it comes with yogurt but obviously I skipped that) and a hot cup of Dynamite* coffee (no almond or soy milk).  It was pretty good, but definitely lacked a bit.  I’ll have to go back for lunch next time.

*Dynamite coffee is local (and very good) and a lot of places serve it.  They also have a little café just out of town, but I haven’t stopped there yet.
Ole’s Guacamoles (Black Mountain) ***
I ended up just getting soup here because it was already almost 4 and I can’t wait that long to eat like Steve, so I had already had a salad leftover from the day before.  Anyway, if your vegan and gluten free you usually can’t go wrong with Mexican food.  And like all Mexican places (except the fancy ones that really stink) they bring out a nice big basket of tortilla chips, this time with a bean dip, that I could simply eat without ordering anything else.  They also had a salsa bar so you could pick your own salsa.  My vegetable soup was really good too, but pretty spicy (for my taste buds at least) meaning I drank a lot of water in between. In the end though, I guess this was about your average Mexican restaurant.  There is a place in Asheville I know I liked better the last time we visited (it was a bit more unique), but I can’t remember the name of it.

Veranda Café (Black Mountain) **
We just made it in time for a late lunch (like a lot of other café’s in town, they close at 3.  I probably should mention that a lot of the shops close at 5 or 6 as well.).  It was cute place, but a little too “tea room” and “red-hat” for me.  There was a limited gluten free/vegan selection, meaning salads.  The cool part was that you can pick 2 or 3 salads for the meal.  I can’t remember the 2 salads I picked, but they were decent (meaning it was more than iceberg lettuce and tomatoes).  With that said, it was one of those meals where I was still quite hungry afterward.

My Father’s Pizza and Pasta (Black Mountain) **
We actually stopped here on our last visit after a run, when I first fell in love with Black Mountain.  Steve loves the place.  I, on the other hand, did not feel like going back this time because I remember ending up with an “okay” salad last time.  But you don’t have any diet restrictions and like a good pizza and beer after a run, this is probably the best local place to go.

Laughing Seed (Asheville) *****!
5 stars, hands down.  This is my favorite place to eat in Asheville.  It located in the heart of the city but on a little brick road one-way street.  In the summer, it’s perfect for eating outdoors.  Inside the atmosphere is warm (as in cozy) and chill (as in relaxed), decorated with local art and bright colored walls.  There’s usually some type of live music too (don’t worry if you sit outside, you’ll have street performers to entertain you).  But of course, the best part is the food.  There are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options galore!  And believe me, it’s delicious.  Even you meat eaters will leave there full and satisfied.  On this trip, I went with a gf pale ale and the Buddha Bowl, a raw meal full but no less tasty then any cooked meal.  I’m definitely making a trip back next time to try the hemp burger!

Tupelo Honey (Asheville) (Yes, like the Tim McGraw song) ****
Obviously, this place is known for its honey.  Instead of bread of chips for an appetizer, everyone gets a biscuit with jam or honey.  And this is where my 80% vegan and gf comes in…I had to try a bite!  (Yes, it was good, though I actually enjoyed the fresh jam rather than the honey).  This was also the most packed place we went to, but it wasn’t bad as the wait seemed to go quickly and we had a great waiter.  As a few other places, they have menu options for vegetarians to pick 3 or 4 “sides”.  I went with a mixed greens salad, grilled asparagus, and tofu.  Sometimes I worry about options like this, thinking I will leave hungry, but I was proved wrong here.  I actually couldn’t even finish all my asparagus (which Steve neglected to try as he did not want his pee to smell) and left content.  Also, I was a bit worried about my salad dressing as it looked creamy when it came out and hesitated asking our waiter about it as I didn’t want to get any funny looks, but he ended up being more the gracious and promptly asked the cook about it.  (It ends up that certain oils take on the creamy texture when whipped.)

Rosetta’s Kitchen (Asheville) ****
Really good food, a little bit of a weird atmosphere…the back room smelled a bit “funny”.  Anyway, this is another place that is all about local and vegetarian food, which did not disappoint.  We went for dinner but it has more of a café feeling, and also serves Dynamite coffee.  It’s also a place where you order at the counter and then you find a seat and they bring the food to you.  Many of the meals are around the $9 mark, which is mainly because the food is grown locally and filled with a ton of veggies that do tend to be a bit more expensive.  Here I think I got the “Dragon Bowl”, another raw meal with amazing flavors.  It came with rice and vegan gravy.  I’ve never been a fan of gravy, even during my turkey days.  But with this gravy, I cleaned the plate.  I’m guessing they used cashews in it, but I can’t be sure.  Regardless, I was awesome.  Next time I’d probably go back for lunch and try one of their other salad bowls.  (Additional note:  Steve, as usual, got a pop here.  However, I didn’t not disapprove as it was all natural and the ingredient list featured a few simple things, all of which I could pronounce!)

Restaurants from our previous trip, all in Asheville:

This is one of the top places that come up in internet searches for vegetarian restaurants in Asheville.  While, it is one of the pricier places on the list, a trip here is worth it.  The menu is a bit more limited, based more on daily specials of whatever fresh ingredients they have, but that’s a good thing.  I believe most of the ingredients are organic as well.

The Noodle House
Also in the main part of town, it a pretty popular place and I recommend sitting outside in the summer to listen to the street performers and people watch (again, Asheville is a very artsy/liberal town with an interesting mix of people).  Has a good list of options too, but I remember wishing I had gotten something with more veggies last time I went.

Sunny Point Café
Located a bit outside of town, this is a place to fuel up before a run…or hike on the Appalachian Trail (as Steve and I did).  They even had their own garden outside.  And I just pictured a dog sitting at a table next to us with its own water bowl…did I mention the majority of restaurants in Asheville our dog friendly (given it has a patio).  It’s perfectly normal to walk into a place for breakfast with your four legged friend and eat with her (or him) lying down by your side.

Over Easy Café
I believe we refueled here after finishing our AT hike...all smelly and beautiful looking.  (We were conscious of our aroma and ate outside).  I can’t remember what I ate, but I remember being happy and having enough energy later in the day to rouse Steve into walking around the Mountain Sports Festival with me.
I’m pretty sure I have a lot more trip to Asheville in my future, so if you’ve been to the area and have any recommendations for my next trip, please let me know! 
Eat (and Run) Happy!
Rach J

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Reading List

My Reading List- 2013

(I apologize for the formatting errors!)

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery
While it is a small book with just over 100 pages and written simply, pictures included, it is a book for young adults and adults alike.  This is also one of those books with so much more meaning that what is actually written.  Without giving it away, it is a book about adulthood, looking at in more as a state of mind than a state of being.  How did “matters of consequence” become about jobs and numbers?  Does imagination and sense of adventure become lost as you age? It is fitting that this is the first complete book I read in 2013, as I struggle my way through attempts to keep my child like heart and balance it with responsibilities that are more adult-like.

 How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth –Robyn Benincasa (World Champion Adventure Racer and Guiness World Record Kayaker)
Despite the fact that I am not on an adventure team (omgosh those athletes are tough!) nor run a company, I found this book to be very enlightening, and engaging with all of Robyn’s stories and great personality.  I think my favorite section (the one I most needed) was on the Relinquishment of Ego, not that I think I have an exceptionally big ego, but one that interferes enough where I won’t ask for help, even if it would benefit others. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Luck=Opportunity+Preparation (I no longer have a problem with saying “Good Luck” to people!)

“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with unwavering commitment to be at the end.” –Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks

“Great leaders REFRAME what a win looks like.” –Robert Nagle

“People will always remember how you treated them in their lowest moments.”

“Be guided by the hope of success, not the fear of failure.”

“Confidence is strength of character based on life experience and continued success.”

“Accepting help is a GIFT to the helper.”

“…wake up every morning and make the conscience decision to see a world of full of teammates instead of a world full of competitors.”

 The Obamas –Jodi Kantor (Audio CD)
I can’t imagine what it would like to be president.  All I know is, I wouldn’t want the job.  But what is it like for the man who has a “country on his shoulders”, that includes ties with the world?  Even more so, what is it life for the First Lady? What is it like for the kids?  This Audio CD held my attention whenever I had it on, giving insight to the lives of the first African American First Family and what it’s like to try and lead a country and move forward when so many people are against you.

Heaven if for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
 – Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent (Audio CD)
Those people who know me know that I am not an extremely religious person.  I was brought up Catholic, but now the only time I go to church is on Christmas Eve, mainly because it is tradition and to make my mom happy.  However, I am not against religion. I consider my Sunday trails to be a sort of mass, and I run past all of God’s beautiful and natural creations.

 I consider myself to be spiritual, but not as much as I’d like to be. Mainly, I just want to talk to God, or Jesus, my angels, deceased loved ones, etc. more.

Speaking of deceased loved ones…I have always been certain that they have been with me at times, keeping watch from Heaven.  I have always known they were happy, living in an unimaginably beautiful place, free of any of earth’s ailments.

Through a little boy’s journey, as well as his family’s, we get a small glimpse into what awaits us all who have loved and are loved.  It was when 4yr old Colton went through life threatening surgery where he went to Heaven and met Jesus, his great grandpa, his unborn sister from a miscarriage and more, then came back to his family, giving his father (a preacher) and mom, quite a shock…and let countless others know that Heaven is for real.

 Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life through Earth- and Animal- Friendly Living –Ingrid Newkirk, President of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
I don’t know if I have ever loved and hated a book so much.  I loved it because of the vast amount of knowledge it presented me; I hated it because of how the knowledge would change my outlook…and shopping habits.  Consider this book and easy to use handbook on how to make both kind and animal friendly choices, in just about every area of your life, from shopping for clothes and groceries to business and pets.  However, I myself read through this just as I would any book, as Ingrid included many stories of her own and others, as well research and resource to back things up and give further information.

The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down – Andrew McCarthy
I almost didn’t read this book, as another book I had been waiting for came in, but I’m glad I did. This book takes the reader through a journey of a travel writer, also a former actor and his route to finding the confidence to “show up” at his second wedding.  Obviously, I didn’t pick it up because I’m a world traveler with the same problem.  It was actually more of the opposite.  For the most part, I am stationed in Hudson, Ohio, and while I love the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I often find myself wishing I was traveling the mountains out west and in other countries.  So, I was interested in reading about his travel reasoning, and he could manage settling down with another person.  (Plus, one of his the countries he travels to is Tanzania, Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and being just over a year that I made my own summit there, I wanted to relive the experience.)  He comes to many of the same conclusions I have, though don’t always fully accept.  The main thing to be taken away for the book?  Love is an adventure in itself, and, at the same time, as long as you have love and are loved, you will always be home.


Why is the entire title capitalized?  Because it’s Jillian Michaels, that’s why!

I read the majority of the book last year, but didn’t remember all that much, so when I saw the Audio CD, I quickly picked it up.  When I started playing it in my car, Jillian Michaels started talking to me!  Yes, she is the narrator for the entire thing, making it feel like I had a coach, psychologist, and friend sitting right next to me as I drove.
Last year, I don’t think I was entirely ready for the book.  I needed change, but I wasn’t at the point where I was ready to take action.  This time, I was ready.  Unlike her other books and DVDs, Unlimited isn’t about working out and eating right.  It goes straight to the heart of things, digging deep into ourselves.  Now that I’m eager and ready to make the most out of my life, I even got the book to help supplement the CD and do all the “Working It Out” mental exercises prescribed.  I’ve read quite a few self-help/inspiration books in the past, but because I can relate to Jillian the most, this has definitely been one of my favorites.

 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed
When I picked up this book (after a recommendation by my sister) I didn’t know much about it, except it was about hiking the PCT.  I didn’t even know it was about a woman!
And, while I admit there were a few times I was mad at Sandi for recommending the book (it made me cry 3 times) I really did love it.  Yes, there is a reason it made Oprah’s Book Club!  Cheryl was so unashamedly honest in her writing, making me empathize deeper (and cry harder) and love her even more.  While quite different from Jennifer Phar Davis’s book about hiking the AT, it still left me with the feeling that I too wanted to hike and camp out in the wilderness for days on end, to learn everything the trail has to teach.  To be honest, I already know most of its lessons, though I have much more beauty left to explore.  In addition, I too made a shortened version of this “explore and learn” period when I stayed for a month in Tanzania, Africa volunteering the spending 5 days on Mt. Kilimanjaro with simply my guide and porters.  This book took me back there, to that beautiful place in-between the soul and the quiet whispers of the earth.

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power – Rachel Maddow (Audio Book)
Like Unlimited, this Audio Books was made even better by the fact that is was read by the author, Rachel Maddow, host of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Yes, I knew before I started listening that she is known for her liberal stance, which is probably why I like her.  Still even though her sarcasm sides with those views, she delivers on historical based facts and insight.
Admittedly, this is one of those books I had trouble keeping up with, especially in the car.  I do not have a wide range of knowledge on today’s war or really any war in our history.  All I really know is that I don’t care for it much.  Still, I came away some happy to have listened and gained some knowledge as to how America has “drifted” away from our original ideas to a nation that finds never-ending war basically normal.  She quotes Thomas Jefferson in saying “One of my favorite ideas is, never to keep and unnecessary soldier”.  We now have tens of thousands on stand-by.  She also had 2 facts that I found extremely surprising:
1)    The US has lost 11 nuclear bombs.  –Umm how does that happen!?!? (She mention how, but still…)

2)    In recent years, the number of soldier who have committed suicide is more than the number of soldiers who have died in the Afghan and Iraq war.
Bone Games: One Man’s Search for the Ultimate Athletic High –Robert Shultheis
This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I am so glad he did as I’m not sure I would have ever found it myself.But before I begin with my review, let’s clarify what a bone game is: “…a shamanistic practice among the Indians of the American West.One player hides marked and unmarked bones, one in each first, and the other tries to guess which hand hold which bone.Players have been known to guess correctly forty of fifty times in a row, as if they have tapped into some magic power.”
The beginning of the book, or Shultheis’ search, begins outside of Boulder on Mount Neva, and takes quite a fall.In fact, he should have been terribly injured. However, what happened instead is that he continued to descend the mountain with almost supernatural powers- powers of pure clarity and feelings of well-being.Unfortunately, he loses that feeling after his descent, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to find it.The pages of the book are full of stories, history and research of this “mystical state”.Shultheis’ findings come from shamans and rituals, scientists and physiology, stranded sailors and hallucinations, athletes (including ultra runners) and the athletic high.

Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being –Deepak Chopra, Rudolph E. Tanzi
There is a lot that could be said about this book as it covers a wide array of subject matters, but the basis is “we” (our mind/consciousness) are the controllers of our brains. By accepting and taking that power, we can achieve greater “health, happiness, and spiritual growth”. I loved that Chopra and Tanzi teamed up for the book, as it provided different angles as well as very insightful research from both men. Here are a few of my main take-aways:
-Everything in the world is only reality because our consciousness makes it so.
-Depression-it can be looked at as a fixed behavior or response. Anti-depressants barely surpass the placebo effect in mild to moderate depression. (I have heard people who swear by medication, and I do not argue their convictions. However, in the case of my own depression, it is a matter of me losing control of my thoughts, with the negative responses becoming more common the more I let them enter into my mind.)
-Meditation increases mindfulness, which makes a person an active observer of her thoughts, which leads to be proactive against negative or stressful situation. This makes a person the “Reality Maker”.

Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Desitiny –Suze Orman (Audio CD)
I stared at the title for a while before picking up the case. Books that include the “money” in the title don’t really excite me. However, I had been texting my older sister who I knew benefitted from watching Suze Orman (and later found out she had the book so I can borrow it in the future!), and I knew I really didn’t know much about my finances and could use some help. When the CD started and Suze soon began talking about those of us who “live out of passion” (aka artist, musicians, runners) and that she understood that, I knew I had made the right choice in picking up the CDs. While I am not yet at the point to follow the “Save Yourself Plan”*there were tips I could pick up now, and I actually understood what she was talking about! The layout of the book is simple and to the point, and with Suze’s website, provides all the tools a woman needs to gain control of her financial life.
*Note to self: Re-Read in 5 Years!

Running Wild: An Extraordinary Adventure of the Human Spirit – John Annerino
So I really wanted to like this book…and I did like parts of it.  But, it was just too informational and historical for me on a subject I was only semi-interested in me.  By the time I decided I didn’t want to read it anymore, I was already half way through, so I decided to go against my own advice of putting down a book you don’t care for, and finished it anyway.  I want to be clear though, Annerino really is an amazing adventurist.  After a climbing accident and doctors telling him he will never run again (they originally wanted to amputate his foot), he went on to run 3 grueling ultramarathons through the Grand Canyon, traveling “back in time” along old Native American trade routes.  Yes, Native Americans in the area are said to have run the length of the Grand Canyon many times over, to trade or as part of their rituals, similar to the Tarahumara discussed in “Born to Run”.  I probably would have found the book more interesting if I had been to the Grand Canyon and new some of the routes mentioned, or had more of an interest in Native American studies.  However, lacking knowledge of the area, I could not comprehend Annerino’s routes, nor could I completely read paragraphs of the regions’ tribes, especially when it included scalping.  I did take away one thought the struck me as: it is possible that ultra-runners may be acting on a longing inside of them, taking them back to their roots of running wild for miles and miles.

Giving: How Each Of Us Can Change the World – Bill Clinton
I had not read a about charity I volunteerism in quite some time, and I was eager to learn more on the subject.  I only hesitated for a second when seeing who the author was.  My opinion of him has changed over the years.  Like most people, I found it hard to respect, let alone listen to, a man who had an affair.  However, his wife has been his saving grace, not only in forgiving him, but for all of her amazing work, gaining her many supporters and paving the way for her husband.  I actually read her book “It Takes a Village” several years ago, making me a huge fan of hers.  And, over the past few years, I could not help but admire the work of the Clinton Global Initiative.  Over the past several years, Clinton’s foundation and those he has paired with have really done amazing things, and his knowledge of different organizations and ways to give is extensive.  He talks about a number of individuals, companies, non-profits, and government structures that have all had a hand in changing the world, and gives plenty of specific examples.  No matter who we are, Clinton states “We all have the capacity to do great things”.

Master Your Metabolism: The 3 DIET Secrets to Naturally Balance Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body – Jillian Michaels

This is the second book I have read this year that I have both loved and hated. Loved, because I love Jillian Michaels and her no nonsense approach, I love learning new things- like how pesticides and chemicals affect our hormones, and I love doing things “naturally”- eating whole foods. Hated, because I know realize how much I have disrupted my body by how I ate (not eating breakfast until 3.5 hrs after I wake up), chemical products I’ve used to clean my house and heat my food (aka saran wrap), and the pesticides and growth hormones I have consumed in my vegetables, fruits, and animal products (dairy, eggs). This book has influenced me once again to take a second look at what I purchase at the store, buying more organic foods when I can and avoiding “antinutrients” like artificial sweeteners. In addition, I threw out nearly all the food in my house that contained any preservatives (if it can sit in the cupboard for years without any effect, do I really want it sitting in my stomach?), and plan to make many of my own natural solutions next time I clean my bathroom. With that, Jillian gives a great step by step approach on how to remove, rebalance, and restore your metabolism However, please be aware that by the time you’re done reading the book (or, like me, the first page) you will be convinced your hormones are totally screwed up.

Small Change: It's the Little Things in Life That Make a Big Difference!- Susan & Larry Terkel
The first really cool thing about this book is the husband-wife team as authors- they live right down the street from Steve and I, and have an Australian Shepherd too!  Plus, they own and run the one of the old churches in town, the Spiritual Life Society, which non-denominational and include Sunday morning yoga sessions. In addition, they own the Blue Rock Café. Susan was also just one of the winners for 17th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards for her book “The Circumcision Decision”.  Last (and definitely not least) they are Steve’s daughter’s favorite house to go to on Halloween, as Larry performs magic tricks in conjunction with passing out candy.
Anyway, about the book:  Divided into different sections, they list a multitude of small changes (and steps) one can make that will ultimately make a huge difference in his or her life.  Incorporated with the suggestions are their personal stories, stories of their friends, and their witty personalities.  If anyone is doing a monthly resolution program such as myself (check out my “Peak Training: Mind & Spirit” page for more info), this is a really fantastic book for ideas and simple action steps to get going.  The key idea is small, manageable changes often yield the biggest results as they can easily be added to everyday life.

Cesar’s Way: The Natural Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems – Cesar Millan (Audio CD)
Pacer IS my daughter.  I mean, she loves to run, eat peanut butter, is  quite stubborn, and even looks like me (beside my tongue isn’t as long).  My problem is that by calling her my daughter, I have humanized her.  As my daughter, all I want is for her to be happy, but, as Cesar states, treating her like a human will not make her (or me) happy. 
I truly enjoyed listening to this book in my car (partially because I love the narrator’s voice).  Cesar offers wonderful insight into a dog’s mind and what dogs need for a full and balanced life.  The book was also inspiring, not just because of all the examples of dog owners who successfully rehabilitated their dogs (and were trained themselves), but listening to Cesar’s own story on how he got started and followed his passion to live his dream.

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, And Discovering Myself –Rich Roll
I love reading books about various ultra and endurance athletes, whether that means triathlons, running, adventure racing.  While I am finding that these books are often vary similar in structure, they always help re-motivate me and give me some new ideas for my own training and nutrition. 
Roll’s story is interesting is that he was a collegiate swimmer- until that went downhill from excessive drinking and becoming a full-fledged alcoholic.  It want until middle age, with his kids in mind, that he decided to make a huge lifestyle change (he was no longer an alcoholic, just overweight and sluggish).  Not too long after that, he completed his first Ultraman (a double IronMan).  The story goes on from there.
Roll also includes a nutrition section at the end of the book which I found to be quite interesting.  I’m not sure if I’m going to go out and buy a VitaMix right away, and I already use natural performance supplements from Hammer, but I’ll probably add Pumpkin Seeds to my grocery list (I had no idea they had so much iron, with a 20.7% mg iron content!)

How to Meditate: Secrets to the Easiest and Most Effective Meditation Technique – Larry Terkel
(note: Yes, this is my fellow Hudsonite and the same guy who co-authored Small Change, listed a few weeks back)
This is the book I probably should have picked up a few months ago when my resolution was to meditate every day.  The book is simple, easy to read (I read it in a few sittings), and light-hearted with Larry’s upbeat and relaxed style of writing.  This book is great for anyone interested in starting to meditate, or anyone who is frustrated with their own meditation practice. 
Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality
-Eva Selhub & Allen Logan
Another great book on the benefits of nature!  Of course, from personal experience I know all that nature can do for a person, but I knew little of the actual science.  This book is similar to “The Nature Principle” but looks at a wide array of areas nature affects a person and the brain, and includes chapters on diet, therapy, exercise, work performance, mental health, etc.  Also included are numerous research studies to back up each topic, as well as predictions and claims from various philosophers and writes that can date back hundreds of years.

Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph – Jennifer Phar Davis
Just as good as her last book “Becoming Odyessa”!  Jennifer Phar Davis is a truly amazing story teller and a very inspirational woman.
  I received this book at the perfect time, as a birthday present from my twin.  I began it 2 days before Black Hills 100, giving me motivation and encouragement during the race.  I finished it 2 days after the race (actually, I don’t think I even set it down during the plane ride home), and it helped me to refuel my sole.  Her previous book is an account of how she became Odyessa found herself, and fell in love with the Appalachian Trail.  This book takes a look at heartbreak, a new love, and how she and her husband set the overall speed-record for the AT.   I absolutely loved reading every page…she is completely honest, open, and insightful.  She definitely knows how to stir the soul.

46 Days:  Keeping Up With Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail – Brew Davis
Obviously, I can’t get enough of Jennifer Pharr Davis and the Appalachian Trail.  I just love learning more about her and Brew’s experiences, views, and lessons they learned along the way.  It really is a great, thrilling love story, without any silly drama. 
This time, the books is from Brew’s perspective as both husband and crew leader.  Actually, the book is a collection of the daily blogs he wrote on the journey.  Even though I’ve already read Jennifer’s book and knew the story, it was still just as interesting reading things from a different side…and with Brew’s added humor.


Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way (Audio CD) Dan Buettner

I’m really glad I picked up this audio CD again….Steve and I had tried listening to it on our way to North Carolina last year, but he got bored after an hour or so.  However, I found it very interesting to learn about 4 of the world’s happiest places, and what makes the people so happy.  Even more interesting was how different some of the places were!  At the end of the book, the author gives a list attributes on what makes a community and person happier, such as walk-ability, places to socialize, and meditation and exercise.  Weather was NOT a factor!

Wilderness Therapy for Women: The Power of Adventure – Editors: Ellen Cole, Esther D. Rothblum ,Eve Erdman

Because it’s been a few weeks since I finished the book, I’m actually just going to just put the book description.  This book isn’t going to be for everyone as it is a series of research papers.  However, as I find it to be a very interesting subject and something I’d like to study more, I was really happy to have found it.


Wilderness Therapy for Women offers women risk taking adventure activities in the outdoors as an alternative to traditional therapy. The contributing authors illustrate the empowerment, confidence, and self-esteem women can derive from adventure and experiential activities. This is the first book of its kind devoted to the symbolic value of wilderness accomplishments to women’s mental health.
Wilderness Therapy for Women unites women with nature and each other by lifting the social constraints surrounding women in adventure pursuits. It offers women a new method of healing while developing an appreciation for the uniqueness of the environment. Daring experiences in the outdoors rekindles a sense of strength and a respect for the provider of that strength. A therapeutic experience from the outdoors provides women with an awareness of their capabilities to strengthen and preserve themselves and their surroundings. This book is divided into four parts: Theoretical Perspectives, Wilderness Therapy in Action, Special Populations, and Personal Narratives.

The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance – Ed Ayres

Despite the fact that I don’t really have an interest in ever running the JFK 50 Mile because so much it is flat and on towpath, I really enjoyed reading this book.  As Ayres runs through each section of the historic race (based on JFK’s 50 mile challenge to the Marines in 1962) he metaphorically (and I do love metaphors) compares it to our planet, it’s history and it’s future.  Often, I’d close the book and think about the pages I just read long after it was closed.  I learned a lot more from this book than I ever expected.

Personal Record- A Love Affair with Running- Rachel Toor

When I first started reading, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the book as it didn’t exactly flow into a story, but chronologically described the author’s love affair with running with different topics in 26.2 chapters.  Of course, I then went on to read and finish the book in just a few days.  I think some of my favorite topics Toor accurately described were on the running community and how running becomes intertwined with life.  (I was especially delighted to when she mentioned people I know, her Cliff Bar teammates:  “Our fearless leaders, Darris and Star Blackford keep us in line.”

Favorite quote from the book: “Apparently, someone once asked Ann Trason—the long-reigning queen of ultradistance running, the woman who won this race (Western States) eleven times, who always came in among the top men—if, at the end, she ran from aid station to aid station. “No,” she said. “Sometimes it’s tree to tree.”


Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth- Adharanand Finn
I’m a runner.  I’m fascinated by Kenyan runners.  I’ve visited their neighbor country, Tanzania.  Of course I had to read this book.  I was not disappointed.
The author, Adharandand Finn, does a wonderful job documenting his time running with the Kenyans, visiting their running camps, bringing his family along and making it an inspiring and heartfelt story.  Like others before him, he found no secret the success of Kenyan athletes, no super genes or training techniques, but numerous factors that all play a part (yes, barefoot running does factor in, but only to an extent).
Favorite quote: Jokingly, the author remarks to one of the trainers at a running camp that when Kenyans see a hill, they all speed up while he slows down.  The trainers reply: “That’s because they want it more that you.  When they see a hill, they see it as an opportunity.  An opportunity to train harder, to work harder.”
Check Out:  

Just Who Will You Be?: Big Question-Little Book-Answer Within (Audio CD) –Maria Shriver
I didn’t realize it when I picked it up, but this audio CD ended up being an hour long high school graduation speech & afterward by Maria Shriver, written right at a point in her life where she was thrown for a loop and questioning her identity.
In case you were wondering who Maria Shriver is, she is a Kennedy (as in a decedent of the former president, plus her father was one of the founders of Peace Corps and her mother the founder of the Special Olympics), former broadcaster for NBC, author, and yes, former First Lady of the State of California-then married to Arnold Schwarzenegger. And that is completely what this speech/book/audio CD is NOT about.
Instead, Shriver writes about finding yourself when all your titles are stripped away-when you are no longer a broadcaster, but a “housewife” as her son would say.  It is about how you define yourself when you dig deep and look at your core, your values, your beliefs, and your passions.  It is not about WHAT you are, but WHO you are.

What Now? (Audio CD) – Ann Patchett
Coincidently (is there such a thing?), I ended up borrowing two audio CDs from the library that were commencement speeches (see the first above).  Both were messages I needed to here, and in good timing.
In this speech, Patchett expresses her dread, as I have, in the question “what’s next?”  It seems like others or always expecting you to do more, be more, and then, you end up doing the same thing.  It’s stressful and sometimes depressing.  The focus always seems to be on the future, not the present…which is what matter right now!  And as Shriver says, whatever you are right now is good enough, because it is WHO you are that matters!
In this speech, we learn how upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree in hopes to be a great writer, Pachett ends up as a line cook, waitress, and teacher (honorable jobs, just not what she wanted)…which of course all helped her to become a bestselling author.  Her reminder: Enjoy the journey.
Add More ~ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness- Gabrielle Bernstein
I can’t thank Sandi enough for getting me to watch Gabrielle Bernstein’s videos and read her books.  It was the jumpstart I needed to start my own journey towards great happiness and using my inner guide.  I still have a lot to practice…as Gabby say’s, my ego (fear) still likes to act up.  But, the more I practice using my ~ing, the more I’m in tune I am with the Universe’s positive energy, leading me to receive more positive energy.  I think this girl has the power to inspire a lot of people!

Running Tide – Joan Benoit Samuelson
I of course had to read the book by one of America’s greatest female athletes.  Despite not being fast or a marathoner, I am always interested in learning a great runner’s story and what fuels their passion, and in this book Joan gives us her own firsthand account.  My only wish is that this book was written at a later time.  Joan wrote finished this book in 1987, not too long after her Olympic Marathon gold.  I feel is she were to write her story now, she would have a lot more wisdom to share with us.

Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out (Audio CD) – Marci Shimoff with Carol Kline
This is one of the best books on happiness I’ve read.  I like it so much in fact, that I started listening to the Audio CD again and then got the book from the library so I can take notes!  The book includes personal stories, research, and tools anyone can use that really make it complete and useful resource.  I also had several “aha!” moments while listening, some of which I noted below:
-In 1776, the word “pursue” did NOT mean to chase after.  It meant “to practice” or “to make habit of”.  In other words, what Thomas Jefferson really meant in the Declaration of Independence is that we all have the right to PRACTICE happiness!
-We all have a happiness “set-point”.  50% of this is genetics, 10% life situations, and (here the important one), 40% is based on our thoughts and behavior…aka, we control it!!!!  Therefore, we can raise our happiness set-point!
-Notable Quote: “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heave of hell, a hell of Heaven."

THRIVE: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life –Brendan Brazier
THRIVE is definitely on the top of my list for nutrition books as it thoroughly goes through a multitude of nutrition objectives, especially related to athletic performance. I most appreciated the detailed sections on stress and the body, covering not just nutritional stress but looking at how physical, environmental, and life stress are all related.  And it’s not just some great superhuman athlete talking about what worked for him.  It is actually very well researched that includes personal examples relating to that research.  He also talks about the benefits of many foods, especially super foods, and includes some fairly simple recipes for both everyday life and fueling during athletic endeavors.

US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most (Audio CD) – Lisa Oz

Admittedly, I passed up this audio CD numerous times, think it was about relationships and not really interested.  But then I finally picked it up, checked the back summary, confirmed she was Dr. Oz’s wife, and read “reveals how listeners can strengthen their relationships through mind-body exercises.” In other words, the book is not about relationships (or the conventional lovey-dovey stuff when we here that word) but about being IN relationships, something quite different.  She does this in 3 stages, including her own examples and research. The stages include: You (ourselves), Others (strangers, family, friends, and yes, romantic), and God/Spiritual.  I was especially intrigued but the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg and the idea that we are not attracted to are romantic partner (I know, I didn’t get the book to learn about romance, but I still was open to learning!) because of the traits we like about them, but instead because of their negative traits that bring up our own emotional deficiencies or yearnings.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban – Malala Yousafazai and Christina Lamb
At times, this was an extremely difficult book to read.  To read the words of young girl speaking about death and the murders going on all around her is hard.  To know that all of it happened so recently makes it harder.  How can it be that so many people became part of the Taliban and that so many cruel and torturous acts were committed?  How can girls still be shunned from school and forced to stay home?  What happened to their minds and hearts?
At the same time my gut was in knots from reading about such events, I also realized how lucky I am.  My gratitude for being raised in America, despite our “small” government problems, grew tenfold.
There are people who often question why one would want to give to a charity in another country when there is need in our own, or how people can support sending our military overseas to defend a poor nation.  When you read a book like this, the question easily becomes reversed.  How could one not support of sisters and brothers in other countries?  They may speak a different language, their skin may be a different color, and their religion might be different, but they bleed the same, they love the same, and they hurt the same.  Malala is not simply a girl from Pakistan, she is my sister.
I also have to note how incredibly amazing and inspiring it was to read about Malala’s (as well as her father’s) wisdom and courage. To know that your life is on the line and still speak out for what you believe in is courage that amazes me but I cannot fully grasp.  All I know is that I hope my courage is never put into question in such a manner.  I look forward to reading her next book, as there is no doubt in my mind that she has many great things ahead of her.

Yoga for Emotional Balance:  Simple Practices to Help Relieve Anxiety and Depression –Bo Forbes, PsyD
I found the research in this book to be very interesting and enlightening.  Dr. Forbes offers many mind-body teachings and practices to help relieve depression, anxiety, and stress, from breathing techniques to Restorative Yoga.  She is also able to back up her findings with several success stories from past clients.  I hope much more research is done in this area!


Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life - Judith Orlof (Audio CD)
There was a lot of great information packed into this Audio CD.  I found it extremely interesting how a psychiatrist is able to include intuition and practice holistic therapies in with traditional psychology.  
" Synthesizing neuroscience, intuitive medicine, psychology, and subtle energy techniques, Dr. Orloff maps the elegant relationships between our minds, bodies, spirits, and environments. With humor and compassion, she shows you how to identify the most powerful negative emotions and how to transform them into hope, kindness, and courage. Compelling patient case studies and stories from her online community, her workshop
participants, and her own private life illustrate the simple, easy-to-follow action steps that you can take to cope with emotional vampires, disappointments, and rejection."

RUN or DIE – Killian Jornet

This book came into my life (I had it on hold at the library for some time) at a very “coincidental” point in my running.  To be honest, I had forgotten why I ran.  I just didn’t know what the point was anymore, and my motivation was lacking.  I know I’ve talked about the meaning of running in past blogs, but I was/am looking for the big “WHY?”  I may have had the answer before, but that answer lied with an older version of me.  Now with changing thoughts, I needed an answer with even more meaning.  Thinking about running, or even going for a run, left one huge screaming question at me “What is the point!?”, especially after considering a seemingly dismal racing season that included my first DNF and a decision to not run MMTR.  With that, I almost didn’t even want to open the book. However, Killian quickly raised my question in RUN or DIE and was alluded to in most of the book.  In addition, I was somewhat put off and intrigued in reading that Killian’s passion for running wasn’t so “pure” as I had thought…he did think about competition, even analyzing races and going over game plans in detail. Now I can look back at that as not good or bad, that is just how it is.

Anyway, my “answer”, or Killian’s answer, never came out straight forth. Deep down I knew that it wouldn’t be.  It is not a question that has a definable answer, especially when it will be different for everyone.

My old reasons still have truth.  I do run because I believe it makes me a better person, because it is my tool for learning, and opportunity to inspire others, and something I love doing.

But does that love count when sometimes I’d like to stay wrapped under my covers or procrastinate in the heat of my car before opening my door and getting Pacer out of the back?

Or what about the other day as I was almost cringing in agony as others discussed my running career as admirable, when I think of my past races with pride for overcoming the pain, but the times and actual win as unimpressive.  I felt like anything but a runner at that point.

And yet today I went for a run, Pacer at my side, and I felt like a runner…and not just a runner, but an adventurer.  I ran slowly when I felt like it, and a little faster at other times.  I even let out a holler at the top of one ridge line, happy to be running and alive.

Is it enough to run (and run more than as a simple hobby or exercise routine) simply because it is good for my body, for my mind, and my spirit- even when it has no direct affect on others?  It is enough to run because I love the act of it, and the vibration of joy I send out from my spirit in my strides seeps into the energy of the world? Is it okay if I don’t have a solid answer to give?

Im pretty sure I won’t die if I don’t run, but I think Killian meant the title as being more than that anyway. Because, in the end, running isn’t really just running.

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A COURSE IN MIRACLES –Marianne Williamson

This book is truly remarkable.  It is the end and beginning of my search, all that I have been reading and learning over the past few years.  However, I don’t think I would have been ready for it had I read it any sooner.  Actually, I am probably going to have to read it again and again and practice it’s teachings for many years to come to really grasp and understand it.  As the title states, this book is about LOVE, and our return to it after living in fear and listening to our ego.  Love answers who we are, who God is, what the world is, and why we are here.  Mirroring A Course in Miracles, it teaches “only love is real”.  Wow, right?  It is a very simple concept, but also a very huge one, and for now I just have to work on getting my head wrapped around the idea.  However, I now have a focus, a shift in perception, on Love.

Love For No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love – Marci Shimoff (Audio CD)
The down-side to borrowing the audio CD from the library is that I didn’t get the PDF file with it, which has a ton of exercises and meditation that probably would’ve been very helpful.)  I recently listened to “Happy for No Reason” and loved it.  Then, as I was browsing the shelves for another audio CD I found this one, and had to grab it.  This one is probably even better, as there is no happiness without love.  Just like the other book, Marci backs her findings with research, stories, and various accounts from “Love Luminaries”.  She also gives steps and exercises  on how to live and lead a life of love.  This book helped me realize what love is, how I practice it, and how I AM Love.


10 Mindful Minutes- Goldie Hawn and Wendy Holden (Audio CD
Because I finished reading this book a few weeks ago, I’m just going to copy and paste the summary on  As for my personal input, I really enjoyed listening to this CD and found many helpful tips to help children and adults develop mindfulness.
In her new book, Goldie Hawn presents elements of the MindUP program that parents can use in daily life with kids. Hawn explain that mindfulness helps children develop social and emotional intelligence, resulting in greater self-awareness, less stress, and higher levels of happiness and empathy. Hawn explains how to help children use mindful breathing and focused attention to become more reflective and self aware to gain greater emotional control. In “Reflections” throughout the text, Hawn looks back on her own childhood and shares her personal experiences as a mother and grandmother. Goldie Hawn’s gentle, heartfelt approach to mothering and her mission to help children develop happier, healthier lives will be both useful and inspiring for parents.
As a side note, I also started reading a book “Mindsight”by Daniel Siegel J. Siegel.  What I read was very interesting.  However, it was a bit more scientific than I felt like reading at the time.  But, if you enjoy learning about how the brain is involved in mindsight this would be a great read.

Beautiful Girls- Sandi Nypaver
An amazing book that all little girls should have, but a book that any woman would love and appreciate it's truth.  It's about finding the beauty within ourselves, despite any objectives from the external world.