Friday, January 30, 2015

Galentine's Day Gift Ideas

Galentine's Day, the day to celebrate our best friends, is fast approaching. Some people celebrate it the day before Valentine's Day, as in "Parks and Recreation," but I think February 14 would be a splendid day to honor your loved ones, too.

I've found three vendors with unique and inspirational gifts for your favorites.

1. "Love Yourself" print from Love By Design Shop on Etsy. Hand-drawn and lovely, this print will motivate your best pal every time she looks at it. And Love By Design Shop donates a portion of every sale to a selected cause each month.

2. On Purpose Friendship Bracelet from Kate Spade's From Rwanda With Love collection.  The bracelet can say Be Bold or Live Fully and comes in two color options. Artisans from Masoro created this limited-edition collection.

3. Sugar Scrub from Cheehilo Handmade Soaps.  The sugar scrub is made with Maui sugar, poppy seed and pink kaolin clay. The shops sells handmade soaps and skincare products that are made from Hawaiian plants and produce. And they are beautiful, too!

*Image credits are 1. Love By Design Shop | 2. Kate Spade | 3. Cheehilo Handmade Soaps

**I wasn't compensated for this post; I just think these would be lovely gifts! The ad/link below is an affiliate link. I am compensated on purchases through this link. Thank you for supporting Floradise blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Birthday wishlist

I'm looking forward to turning 29 next month. Planning how I want to celebrate led me to think about what I would give myself as a gift. I was intentional with my birthday wishlist this year, choosing an experience and a couple of things that will make me look good while achieving my goals for 2015.

1. Toms Pink Boucle Women's Classic. I don't often buy shoes — even when I need to. But these will serve me well during spring training and upcoming trips. The bonus is that Toms gives a pair of shoes to a child in need.

2. Athleta Floral Fade Chi Tank. I don't ever buy yoga clothes either, though mine get quite a bit of use. This tank is both functional and pretty — perfect for teaching.

3. A trip to Chicago. I have a feeling Chicago and I would get along. I wish we could go for my actual birthday weekend, but the temperature will be in the 30s. Who leaves the 70s for the 30s? (Well, I would, but I imagine the city would be even more fun in the summer or fall.)

Image credits: 1. Toms 2. Athleta 3. City of Chicago

Monday, January 26, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 5

This training week was a weak one mentally. On more than one occasion I questioned why I am doing this. But I'm proud to report that I didn't skip any workouts.

Monday: Rest. Light yoga and happy hour with a couple of my fellow yoga teacher training grads. We had planned to all get together for the first time since training, but most of them backed out at the last minute for various reasons. It was disappointing but still nice to see two of my friends/yoga sisters.

Tuesday: 4 miles. 3 miles at an easy pace and faster on last mile.

Wednesday: 6.34 miles. It was a tough run. I was not into it mentally.

Thursday: 5 miles at an easy comfortable pace. I discovered that my Garmin says I run at a faster pace than Map My Run app says. There is also a difference in the run length. I need to figure this out. It was another difficult, slow run.

Friday: Glow Flow taught by a fellow teacher training grad. It was hosted by Floo-id yoga studio in north Scottsdale but held at Athleta at Kierland Commons. My friend Angela led us through a challenging all-levels class in the dark. Students wore glow-in-the-dark face paint and glow bracelets, necklaces and earrings. I loved Angela's playlist, which included Sia's "Elastic Heart." I added it to my playlist for Sunday's long run and found myself hitting repeat multiple times.

Saturday: 3.7 miles. I walked a lot of this. I just didn't have it in me. I was too sore from yoga and practicing my chaturanga pushups.

Sunday: 11 miles. I tried out some Clif energy gels and they worked nicely. Graham was nice enough to ride his bike over to bring me water. But I know I need to carry some with me.

Weekly goal: 32 miles.

Actual mileage: 30.04.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Speak Your Truth

Journal, kindness, yoga

"Speak your truth" has been my theme for the past few weeks. At work, with my family, and in my relationship, it's never been more important. Sometimes the truth needs to be spoken to myself. To that end, I invested in a new journal to document my goals, thoughts and dreams. It is part planner, part diary. I often jot down quotes as reminders to myself. Each week I write down my goals as well as to-do lists to achieve them.

In yoga, truthfulness is satya, one of the yamas. My journal from yoga-teacher training shows that early on during the program I focused an entire week on the principle and noticed a lot less guilt about saying no to invitations. I felt pressure — and I still do — to say yes to any offer to make plans, even when I needed time for myself or for my relationship. I felt less stressed when I stopped trying to please others. I remember a mudra workshop we had during teacher training in which we were instructed to ask ourselves, "How would I live if I weren't concerned with the opinions of others?" It is a constant battle for me to work on not worrying about what people think. My recent focus on truthfulness is part of that effort.

I've found that by setting this intention I am lifting a weight off my shoulders. I've recently said things to family members I never would have before. My tactic to deal with family issues has always been to keep to myself, but I can no longer do that. I am being forced now to say what's on my mind and what I will have to do if things don't change.

At work, I am finally being honest about things that have been frustrating me; things that I would get annoyed at but would never say anything about. How can I expect change when I never speak out about something that bothers me? I often think of the quote that reads something like, "Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes." I tend to imagine the outcome when I finally say something, but I am often wrong about what a person's reaction will be. Many times the person will just say, "OK, I will try to do that." And the problem is solved! Imagine that.

Of course, the tricky part about truthfulness is finding the right way to deliver it. It's not just what you say but how you say it. Rephrasing statements to include "I" instead of "you" can help the person you're speaking with feel less like he or she is being blamed for something. And, of course, make sure that truthfulness is coming from a place of love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend of Service: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

I like to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteering in his honor, but I had to work Monday. I instead signed up to volunteer with HandsOn Greater Phoenix over the weekend. This year I chose to help with a Neighbors Helping Neighbors event in which we cleaned up a yard for someone who couldn't do it himself. The fence was toppling over, trees were overgrown, the yard was filled with leaves and weeds, and some cacti were dying. Trash and debris were scattered throughout. We quickly got to work cleaning it up and were finished early thanks to our teamwork. I felt honored to be able to lend a helping hand and spruce up a neighborhood near mine.

If you'd like to volunteer, check out HandsOn's opportunity calendar to find events that work with your schedule.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marathon and Ragnar Training, Week 4

I've had a lot of excuses for not running lately. That ends now. The week's theme is Building a Base.

Monday: 4-mile run. I ran the first 3 miles slowly and the last one at a faster pace. My average pace was 9:17/mile. My heart monitor says my average heart rate was 172 bpm and my maximum was 191. I'm surprised I could even go this hard after carrying a 60-pound backpack this weekend during the hike into Aravaipa Canyon. My hips and back still felt sore.

Tuesday: Yoga and 1.5-mile run at Dreamy Draw Recreation Area. Graham sent me a text while I was at work asking me to meet him at the mountain for sunset. We knew it'd be a gorgeous evening because of the nice puffy clouds in the sky after the rained stopped. I raced through post-workday traffic, changed in about 30 seconds in the car, and ran to our usual sunset viewing place. I didn't even have time to put my hair in a ponytail! Graham followed me on his bike as I ran, shooting video on his GoPro and taking my Ragnar Training challenge photos.

Wednesday: 5.04-mile run. My pace was 9:18/mile, with an average heart rate of 173 bpm. (Max was 191.) It was an evening run, and I had the running trail to myself. I tested out the new headlamp Graham got us; at it's max brightness it could blind you, probably. (I dimmed it a little and pointed it downward so that wouldn't happen.) According to my Garmin I burned 540 calories, so I felt less guilty about having a glass of wine with dinner.

Thursday: Yin Yoga at Sutra Midtown. Steven, who was one of my instructors during yoga teacher training, warns you before class that you should be careful driving home afterward. You will feel that zen! Class begins with a flow, by which Steven means you breathe back and forth from a runner's lunge into straightening that leg. We did one downward-facing dog for an extended amount of time. I remember thinking that it was the hardest down dog I've ever done. (We later did two other downward-facing dogs between sides of pigeon.) I didn't meet my goal steps for the day for the third time since I've had the Garmin, but I'm OK with it.

Friday: 3.25 miles. I don't remember much from this run other than it was around sunset, and I went without a headlamp. I meant to run 4 miles but I didn't want it to get too dark on me.

Saturday: 2.48 miles. I had planned to run longer, but I'm glad I didn't, because I ended up having to deal with family drama immediately afterward. This daytime run reaffirmed my love of nighttime runs; it was quite warm!

Sunday: 9.87 mile run. My longest run yet of training. I noticed that the timer on my Garmin wasn't changing at about Mile 8, so I'm not going to trust my time on this one. It's as if it only moves if you're constantly moving your arm back and forth. I'm going to test it next time by also using the Map My Run app. I had more than 20,000 steps on this day!

Weekly goal: 27 miles
Actual mileage: 26.14 miles.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Let's Go Camping: Packing List

Graham and I like to be prepared when we camp. I've posted what we pack for Havasupai waterfalls before, but we take even more stuff when we camp anywhere that doesn't involve backpacking. Here's a list of what we bring in hopes it will inspire you to pack appropriately.

  • Buddy Heater, if it's a cold location. 
  • Propane.
  • If we can't bring our large camping stove, we'll throw in the canister stove.
  • Cooking pan or pot.
  • Lighter and/or matches.
  • Paper plates. (Or often we'll just eat out of the pan.)
  • Rope.
  • Lantern.
  • Headlamps.
  • Toilet paper and/or wet wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer is nice to have.
  • Appropriate clothing. I don't always change, but I like to bring extra clothing in case I get sweaty, rained on or too dirty. Bring gloves and winter accessories or a bathing suit, if necessary. We also always bring a towel.
  • Cooking utensils and flatware. If you get any extra plastic flatware from eating out, bring it along. It's a nice way to actually use it (and reuse it).
  • Can opener. You can open a can with a knife if you have to, but why make things more difficult?
  • Either a small backpack or Camelbak for day hiking trips.
  • If not bringing the Camelbak, a water bottle per person to refill. Or lots of extra water, your call.
  • Cooler with ice for beverages and a smaller cooler with ice for such things as cheese and butter.
  • Extra pair of contacts and solution, plus the contact holder. (Or your glasses.)
  • Hiking shoes and/or water shoes. I like to keep a pair of flip-flops in my backpack for walking around camp or in the car for the drive back home. 
  • Extra socks.
  • Sunglasses.
  • A hat.
  • Deodorant, sunscreen and insect spray. 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, small bottle of mouthwash (optional) and floss. Invisalign case.
  • A hammock.
  • Camera and a portable charger and/or extra batteries.
  • Tent and rainfly (with stakes and all that).
  • Inflatable mattress or pad. A pump if using the air mattress.
  • Sleeping bag.
  • Aluminum foil.
  • Cast-iron sandwich pan. You can use it to make either quesadillas or sandwiches!
  • Paper towels.
  • A bag or two for trash.
  • Dog food, water bowl, leashes and collars if the dogs are coming along.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Lip balm. Sometimes I bring a compact but I rarely use it. 
  • Permit or national parks pass.
  • Camping chairs.
  • Tarp.
  • Bear mace. We recently acquired this and it brings peace of mind.
  • Pillow(s).
  • Knife.
  • If canoeing, we'll use waterproof sacks and bring paddles and life vests.
  • Fishing license, if necessary, along with fishing supplies.
What do you bring along?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Dreamy Sunset Run

Rain leaves behind the most spectacular Phoenix sunsets. After Tuesday's storm, I knew we'd be treated to a vibrant sky. Graham asked me to meet him at Dreamy Draw after work to catch the show. I hadn't even planned to run that day; I was going to practice yoga and rest. But I can't say no to a gorgeous sunset, so I soon found myself battling traffic as I raced to the park. I jumped out of my car and into Graham's Jeep to change. I had minutes to spare: Sunset was at 5:41 p.m. and I arrived at 5:35. I put on my mismatched socks, laced up my shoes and took off, not even taking a few seconds to put my hair in a ponytail. Graham followed me in his bike, documenting my short run/hike with his GoPro.

Not a bad way to end a Tuesday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Aravaipa Canyon Camping Trip

When I asked Graham what he wanted to do for his birthday I already knew the answer: camping.

We chose to hike into Aravaipa Canyon, which he has been to before and I've always wanted to visit. Only 20 people are allowed into the canyon per day, and a permit is required. I paid $20 for two days of adventure — money well spent.

From Phoenix the canyon is about a two and a half hour drive east. If you want to go to the east side of the canyon it's about five hours, so we're saving that for another time. (To get there from Phoenix, drive on the U.S. 60 to Superior, then follow the sign to Arizona 177 toward Winkelman. From Winkelman turn right (east) on Arizona 77 to get to Aravaipa Road, which about 11 miles away. It's then a 12-mile drive on a dirt road to get to the trailhead.) Sign in at the trailhead and write down your vehicle license plate number and permit number. Then you're free to head out on your merry way.

The parking area only had a few cars, so we knew we wouldn't see many people in the canyon. We put on our 60-pound-plus backpacks and started the hike. It begins in desert terrain. You hike about .7 mile before you have to cross the creek the first time. Be prepared to cross about 9 times. (I lost track.) We wore our regular hiking shoes for the first part of the hike before changing into our water shoes. We guessed that the water was about 50 degrees, which will surely wake you up! It was never more than a calf-height water level, but if it's been raining it could be deeper.

It began sprinkling on our hike in. I remember thinking the mist felt nice on my face. Some spots along the trail were muddy, so I took small steps to avoid falling. Graham gave me a push to step out of the water sometimes when he noticed I was having difficulty. You can also always count on Graham to throw in a "Nice work" along the way.

You have to hike in about a mile and a half to get off the private property you cross to get the camping area. From there it's up to you to decide how far to go. Horse Camp is said to be popular, but we stayed close to the beginning section of the canyon. We're saving the longer hikes for future trips; now we know what to expect.

We saw three hikers leaving the canyon as we got settled. They would be four of the six people total we encountered. The first order of business was setting up our tent and making lunch. We chose quesadillas and various snacks: cheese, apple slices, popped Wheat Thins and pretzels.

Then we went on a hike before the sun set. We sat and looked out toward the towering cliffs to the east. A cave toward the top caught my eye.

When we made our way back to our campsite I noticed I had lost a glove. Graham ran back to find it. I stood there with hitchhikers stuck to my leg and bear mace in my hand, feeling helpless. He didn't want to leave me alone for long, so he returned sans glove and we started our fire. (I would find the lost glove the next morning on a hike.)

How we pass the time while camping:

We sing alternating lines of "You Are My Sunshine" (or any other song).
We listen to music.
We talk.
We eat.
We gaze at the stars and/or the fire.
We shine our headlamps out at the distance when we think we've heard an animal.
We cuddle.

That night we lay on a tarp and sleeping bag and stared at the sky. Sometimes we don't say much; we just get lost in our heads. I thought about how it was to be in a place where I didn't have much cell service. Those areas are getting harder and harder to find. It was refreshing to not be checking my email or texts or social media accounts.

I slept like a baby after taking cold medicine to fight my cold. It rained in the middle of the night, but luckily no animals stopped by our campsite. This may have been the first time I've gotten more than 8 hours of sleep on a camping trip. Hooray!

We spent the next day exploring a bit before hiking out. We watched the yellow leaves flutter in the wind as they fell off the trees. Graham would stop every now and then to point out some animal tracks. He notices things that I never would. And of course we tested out his GoPro.

Here's my attempt at a video of the trip.

We'd like to go back soon to visit the east end during the spring or fall. Aravaipa is now one of my favorite Arizona places. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Marathon Training, Week 3 (And Ragnar Training!)

Monday: 4-mile nighttime run at a 9:21/mile pace. I was going to take the night off, but I instead took advantage of the energy I had left. The moon was mesmerizing. I couldn't get a decent photo on my phone so I ran back home to grab my Nikon and went back outside for my cool down.

Tuesday: Yin Yoga at Sutra taught by Nelly. It was a much needed flow followed by yin postures. I realized afterward that I was nowhere near my goal steps for the day (Thanks, Garmin!) so I went for a 2.25-mile run to make up for it. The run was more enjoyable now that the temperatures have risen to the 70s. It was nice to run in a short-sleeve top for once.

Wednesday: Rest day. I started to feel a sore throat coming on. I skipped running to get some rest and let my body recover.

Thursday: 5.42 miles. Even though I felt sick! I still had a sore throat, but I knew that since Graham and I would be hiking over the weekend that I needed to run. I sucked on a cough drop the entire time — it helped! I didn't feel any soreness at all in my throat. My average pace was 9:19/mile with an average heart rate of 165 bpm. I tried to make the run as easy as possible by stopping along the way to snap photos, like this one:

My throat immediately started to bother me when I got home. So I read my latest issue of Yoga Journal and relaxed on the couch for the rest of the evening. The magazine featured an article about being your own life coach that spoke to me. I wished I had read it about a month ago while contemplating a big move. But I know the doors aren't forever closed on the opportunity, or at least I hope not. The gist of the article:
  • Find what's missing in your life and what you resist.
  • Set your intention and tell others about it.
  • Set daily or weekly goals that bring you closer to your ultimate goal. (Write down your vision for the week and hold a reflection on Fridays. Notice when you're most productive.)
  • Overcome money fears. This was the major obstacle to me turning down my recent offer. The article lists tips on how to overcome the burden.
  • Say yes. Again, something I didn't do.
  • Remember your purpose when you start to doubt yourself.

Friday: Nothing! Graham and I spent the night preparing for our weekend trip to Aravaipa Canyon. 

Saturday: 3-mile hike into and around Aravaipa Canyon (while carrying 60-pound backpack for the 2 miles in). It's now one of my favorite places in Arizona.

Aravaipa Canyon

Sunday: 3-mile hike through and out of the canyon. 

I skipped my long run for the camping trip to celebrate Graham's birthday, so I'll have to make up for that this week somehow. It's time to get serious!

Week 3 Mileage: 17 miles.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015: The Year of Adventure

I have declared 2015 the year that Graham and I take to embark on new adventures. 2014 was all about planning for the future, and I'm ready to start living out those plans.

As I have written about before, my goal is to travel outside of the country as well as to one state I haven't been to before. We plan to visit Nashville on the same trip we take to Louisville, during which we'll visit family and friends and I'll run my marathon. (Yikes!) We might even get to go to the Kentucky Derby! That should check half that resolution off the list. It would be an even bigger treat if Graham and I could make it to Seattle and Vancouver this year as well. We figure it could easily be fit into one vacation. My travel goal would then be complete, though I'd also like to go to:
  • Utah's national parks, especially Arches and Zion. Utah is so close, yet so far away.
  • Hawaii — always Hawaii.
  • Chicago.
We already have a few other adventures in the works for this month (if I can get over this illness) and next. I can't wait!

UPDATE: I've just added Bend, Oregon, to the list after seeing this photo.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Garmin is Making Me Obsessed With Counting Steps (And My 2015 Running Goals)

No one warns you that once you get a Garmin (or Fitbit) you'll become obsessed with meeting your daily step goal. I've found myself walking around my house (back and forth, up and down the stairs) in order to see that screen light up with "GOAL!" The good news is I am more aware of what it takes to combat the effects of having a desk job. As one of my yoga teacher often says, "Sitting is the new smoking."

Garmin Vivosmart is handy in that it reminds you to "Move!" if you've been sitting too long. This happens often at work. I'm working on this by trying to drink more water. I force myself to get up and walk to the water cooler as much as I can, which will also help me fight those pesky headaches I get when I'm dehydrated.

My top goal this year is to run consistently. It should be easier the first half of the year as I train for Ragnar Del Sol, the Phoenix half marathon and the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. The challenge will be maintaining my motivation through the Phoenix summer, assuming we still live here. I am ashamed to say I only ran about 200 miles in 2014. I don't know if I can even call myself a runner! I completely abandoned running when the weather heated up. The only ways to survive running in the summer in Phoenix are to A. wake up at 5 a.m. and run then or B. run on the dreadmill. I hate both of those options. Maybe if I start trying to wake up earlier now I can actually do option A. ...
Note: I'm seeking playlist suggestions, so please send them my way!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 2 of Marathon Training

I've officially signed up for my first marathon! I'll be running the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville in late April. Wish me luck!

Sunday: I skipped running because I had a headache for most of the day. Instead I went for a 1.84-mile walk before sunset, when I started to feel better. I noticed a lot of trash left behind after last Saturday's parade; I spotted gloves, hats, water bottles, wrappers, signs, empty bags of chips. It all made me kind of sad. Let's keep Phoenix clean!

Monday: 2.57-mile run. It was cold for Phoenix. My pace, according to my Garmin Vivosmart, was 9:10/mile, faster than I have been running. It felt good, though I wished I had a jacket that covered my neck and part of my face. Brr!

Tuesday: I skipped running again because I had a headache. I managed to get all my goal steps in by walking around the house.

Wednesday: 3.04-mile run to start my New Year's Eve. I was hesitant to run when I looked outside and saw it had rained, but it cleared up for enough time for me to get my workout in. My pace was 9:12/mile — not too shabby.

Thursday: 1.1-mile sunset hike/jog to kick off the 30-day Ragnar Training Challenge. You can see snow-capped mountains from the trailhead. Apparently it snowed in Phoenix on New Year's Eve, but we didn't see any at our house. I was bummed.

I'm taking this sunset as a sign that 2015 will be good to us.

I followed up the hike with a 30-minute online yoga class via Yoga International, which is offering free online yoga classes all month!

Friday: 3.5-mile run. I was proud of myself for running A. after work and B. in the cold. I ran my first 3 miles in a 9:21/mile pace and finished the last half mile at 8:46/mile.

Saturday: 2.58-mile hike in the snow. Graham, the pups and I drove up north to play. Lots of people had the same idea, which became clear when we hit traffic from Anthem until Black Canyon City. We pulled over at Schnebly Hill Road and walked along the closed road toward the camping area. We decide to climb a random hill to check out the view. It was tricky (and slippery) hiking up but so worth it. The dogs had a blast!

Sunday: 6.11-mile run at a 9:10/mile pace after my first aerial yoga class. I was nervous to start aerial yoga, but I had a lot of fun. I even went upside down once! I need to learn to trust that I won't fall before I can move on to other poses. I'm excited to try again soon. It was nice to spend time with one of my friends from yoga-teacher training and grab brunch at Luci's Healthy Marketplace afterward.

Enjoying savasana.

I tried the Greek omelette, which comes with spuds and fruit. And feta, lots and lots of feta.
Week 2 mileage: 16.32 miles. (I didn't count the hike on Saturday or my Sunday walk.)

On to Week 3!