Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Too Content to Be Mediocre."

Knowing I'm a big Beatles fan (and John Lennon, in particular), my friend Bonz sent me this article talking about the publication of John Lennon's previously unseen letters.

While reading it, I remembered Mikey's, his cousins' and my visit to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame about 10 yrs ago, when they had a whole John Lennon Exhibit. Yoko had donated a bunch of personal items, including report cards from elementary school.  Now, as I watched, most people just skimmed past the boards where they were posted, but I was way too nosy for that. I scanned every word I could get my eyeballs over. I found a couple pix online. See if you can read any of the remarks.

I couldn't find the actual note I was looking for, but I found one of my favorite quotes of all time by reading through these comments that day. You may have noticed that most of their remarks are pretty negative. It was from one of John's teachers, who wrote, "John is too content to be mediocre..." and she went on to talk about how he never worked to his potential etc.

It was an awesome reminder that:

1. Just because someone is a teacher, a mentor, an employer or even a parent, it doesn't mean they know everything. They can be wrong too. It's important not to let anyone else define you, particularly when their view is negative.

2. Just because someone is extraordinarily successful in one aspect, doesn't mean they succeeded at everything they ever tried. Everyone has their "niche" and it's imparative to always keep trying.

With all due respect to my other idol, Yoda (yes, I'm a big Star Wars geek as well), who said, "Do or do not. There is no try.", I disagree and think there can be both a "do" and a "try". Let's be honest: trying is often the most difficult part.  If you are lucky enough to then succeed in whatever you may have tried, combining them is really much more fulfilling (Thank you for that point, Melanie K).  If you don't find success, the fact that you even tried is a HUGE accomplishment on it's own and not to be discounted in any way. At least you won't have any regrets! 

That said, John Lennon has several songs that have really made an impact on my thinking, including the often referenced "Imagine" and one of my favorites, "Instant Karma". If you're unfamiliar with this song, but would like to hear it and see a couple John pix, I found this video on YouTube.

Anyway, bottom line: I think many of us beat ourselves up and waste time stressing about bs and not REALLY living or even trying to live.

Over the last few months of being in a fulfilling job that I actually enjoy for once in my life, I've spent a lot of time analyzing myself and wondering why I had previously been allowing myself to stay in a job where I was miserable and not being treated with the respect that a 6-year employee should have been given at that point. They completely changed my job and my environment, removed us from our boss whom we knew and loved, dumped 5+ more responsibilities on us, took away any privileges we had and all without any prior notice. When we complained and expressed our legitimate concerns, we were told, "If you don't like it, get out."  It was like being betrayed while already being in an abusive relationship. Between the actual job itself and the way I was being treated by my employers, I had become an emotional punching bag.

I had lost weight while working there and gotten healthy physically, but I was clearly still having self-esteem issues if I was willing to work in an environment where I was being treated that way. Of course, I had bills, but there was something else. There was something that made me think that I couldn't do any better.

Thankfully, I was very wrong and even more importantly, Mikey, my family, my friends (and yes, even my WW leader and group at times) let me know what they thought. They put up with my endless complaining and depression, trying to sort it all out and let me know they were there for me. I eventually found a job with Apple last summer, where I was respected and appreciated. I really only left the company because I was hired by Weight Watchers, where I could start to fulfill my goal of helping other people to realize that they are also worthy of health AND happiness!

So fwiw, please read through these lyrics and even if you're feeling unsure about yourself today, know that honestly, if you can read this, I can verify that you are better than that.

"Instant Karma"

Instant Karma's gonna get you, 
Gonna knock you right on the head, 
You better get yourself together, 
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead, 

What in the world you thinking of,  
Laughing in the face of love, 
What on earth you tryin' to do, 
It's up to you, yeah you.  

Instant Karma's gonna get you, 
Gonna look you right in the face, 
Better get yourself together darlin', 
Join the human race, 

How in the world you gonna see, 
Laughin' at fools like me, 
Who on earth d'you think you are, 
A super star, 
Well, right you are.  

Well we all shine on, 
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,  
Well we all shine on, 
Ev'ryone come on.  

Instant Karma's gonna get you, 
Gonna knock you off your feet, 
Better recognize your brothers, 
Ev'ryone you meet, 

Why in the world are we here, 
Surely not to live in pain and fear, 
Why on earth are you there, 
When you're ev'rywhere, 
Come and get your share.  

Well we all shine on, 
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,  
Yeah we all shine on, 
Come on and on and on on on, 
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah-.  

Well we all shine on, 
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,  
Yeah we all shine on, 
On and on and on on and on.  

Well we all shine on,  Like the moon and the stars and the sun.  
Well we all shine on,  Like the moon and the stars and the sun.  
Well we all shine on,  Like the moon and the stars and the sun.  
Yeah we all shine on, 
Like the moon and the stars and the sun. 


Monday, January 17, 2011

When you wish upon a star...

So I thought I'd "celebrate" my new blogging location with my biggest post ever. Relax, grab a cup of tea (or coffee or cocoa) and read:

My Disney Vacation and Half-Marathon Recap!

WARNING: Many links are being posted here, in an attempt to pimp out my previous posts as well. Although, my old blog and full site are still up (, technical difficulties have forced me to move over here and I essentially lost my previous comments from friends who responded. 

Now, as I have stated before here, on twitter and on fb, this was my first half-marathon, or "half-mary", as the kids say.

I went back and forth between splitting this into 2 posts, but decided against it.  If you'd prefer to skip past the vacation-y Disney World and Wizarding World of Harry Potter stuff, feel free to start reading where I wrote "HALF-MARATHON RECAP".

When I started running, I wanted to do it to reach my goal weight and raise money for breast cancer research, as I stated in my success story and then I elaborated in my running progression post.  I didn't have a distinct idea of what my ultimate running goal would be. Would I just keep doing it to stay in shape and do some 5k's for charity here and there or did I want to go further?

While cruising through my friend and former co-worker Mikey Trisket's facebook and reading all of his running and Disney posts over the last year or so, I became fixated on doing the Disney half-marathon. Having recently quit my lousy FT job to do a PT retail job with Apple at that point, I could not justify the expense. I felt way too selfish to even try to talk my husband Mikey into it. I went a little further into the story and my Disney fixation in Cost vs Value post. Basically, once I hit my goal weight, achieved Lifetime Status and then was hired by Weight Watchers, Mikey decided that I deserved a big reward. Is there anything better than going to Disney World and achieving even another goal AND being able to play at both Disney and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Not in my opinion.

We booked the trip through Orbitz and found a pretty sweet deal, staying at Pop Century, which may be the tackiest resort in Disney, but that is exactly why I LOVED it! There are ginormous bowling pins outside the entrance and every group of buildings is modeled after a different time period. We were booked in the 1970's and had disco music playing outside and random oversized toys we used to have when we were little, including this Big Wheel that I am pretending to run away from:

I am easily amused.

On Friday, Mikey and I ran the Buzz and Woody Best Friends 5k and we had a blast! It  takes you around Epcot and past all the countries. I really loved the view!

Now, of all the research and preparation I did re: the running, I did not realize 2 things:

1. The damn shuttle to the races picked us up at 4am for the 5k and 3am for the half! GAH!
2. The temperature at that time and during this time of year is not exactly what we had planned for, thinking Florida was far warmer than New York. It was in the low 30's and we did not bring proper attire.

Here we are bundled before the race:

and here is the adorable "medal" from the 5K:
I love how Mikey's holding it as if it's a fine jewel. HAHA!

After the 5k, we joined Mikey Trisket, his bf Wil and his sister Karen for a day at the WWoHP. Before ordering the tickets, I had asked around to a few friends I knew who had been to the park already. They told me that 2 days there would be ideal and that the lines are ridiculous. I did not fully understand this until we actually arrived there. 

When I first saw Hogwarts Castle in the distance, I became immediately psyched!

My first steps through Hogsmeade were really exciting...until I realized that the entire crowd packed into the tiny area were in one line or another.

Each ride had lines outside their designated space and even the shops had lines several hours long! Mikey Trisket called our experience waiting to ride the Forbidden Journey, "Harry Potter and the Never Ending Line" and he nailed it. We actually became so frustrated after spending over 20 minutes just trying to lock up our bags (after hours waiting in the damn line), that we ended up going through the "single-riders" line, just so we could finally get to the friggin ride.

I will say this though: I really enjoyed that ride! It was nothing like what I had expected.

While there that day, we had butterbeer, which is essentially cream soda with a frothy angelfood cake batter-flavored topping. It was tasty, but I wanted it to be more buttery, as if Paula Deen made it herself.

Mikey and I ended up going back to WWoHP a few days later and it was cold and rainy that day, so the crowds were much smaller and the wait times were much less. The wait was STILL around an hour long each and the Hippogriff ride was not running, so I'm still a little bitter about that. At least I did get into Ollivander's and a hazel wand "chose me".

Yes, I'm a geek and I have no shame.

Bottom line: Everything was so poorly designed and the crowd control was non-existant. It's as if they never planned for it to be that busy. I honestly think Disney would have done a way better job with this.

That said, I'd totally go back. HAHA!

Anyway, we left Universal relatively early because I was already falling asleep, having been exhausted from working so much the week before, waking up at 3am for the 5k and then literally running around.

I went to bed almost immediately, so I could actually make it to the shuttle for the half mary at 3am.


FTR, I am not a morning person. If you know me IRL, are a facebook friend or follow me on twitter, I make this abundantly clear. As much as I try to force myself to get up and accomplish things in the morning, I just cannot seem to do it. Knowing the shuttle was picking me up hours before the restaurant at Pop Century would open, I actually picked up 2 coffees in travel mugs before heading to bed.  I was NOT going to be improperly caffeinated that morning.

Thankfully, I also had the presence of mind to bundle like a crazy woman. I had a tank top, my Wonder Woman Underoos, a thermal top, running shirt my mom gave me, the official half-marathon shirt, a red mickey mouse sweatshirt, my Lose for Good sweatshirt, My Slytherin scarf, my owl hat and a pair of gloves. I felt a little like Ralphie's brother Randy from A Christmas Story:

"I can't put my arms down!"

At this point, I actually have to rely pretty heavily on my twitter and facebook feeds because I was so excited that a lot of it is a blur.

Our driver was hysterical and helped wake me up by making jokes and getting us to laugh a little about those huge turkey legs at the parks and how people eat them etc. Clearly, you had to be there...

Once we got to the Epcot parking lot, I started to see the crowds beginning to gather and was getting uber-psyched:

There was a DJ playing *usually* decent music, but I started to get annoyed:

While waiting for the action to start (and probably an attempt to block out that damn song), I began to feel a little emotional and excited and began replying to friends who wished me good luck, so they knew that I was thinking of them throughout this HUGE event in my life and I appreciated their words of encouragement:

They started making announcements and I thought we'd be going soon. I had been struggling to get a decent signal since we had arrived in the area (it was waaaay worse than even NYC) and I didn't have a lot of faith that I'd be able to communicate throughout the race:

Yeah...not so much...

The MC's spoke about a couple who had planned to attend the race together, but the husband was deployed, so he was running a half marathon overseas and was starting at the exact same time. The best part was when they had a video chat going and their toddler daughter was trying to talk to him.

Anyway, they started introducing random celebrities like Al Roker who were there and asked about 147 times, "Who is doing this Half-marathon for the first time?" I hooted and hollered every time. I'm a dork.

I was starting to feel properly bundled, unlike most people around me, which helped keep me in a decent mood. I am not nice when I am cold:

"extra bundled" was putting it lightly

more like 4 or 5 layers...

FINALLY, after 5:30, they started the wheelchair competitors and were playing actual Disney music, which was awesome, but made me even more antsy!

They started going through the corrals one by one and each batch had a big announcement and fireworks! 

I was in Corral E, so I still had some time to wait. It was after 6am when they finally "released" us (read from bottom up):

I know it may seem ridiculous, considering I was standing there in my running gear on a trip planned entirely around running this half-marathon, but I literally started tearing up when I had that "athlete" realization. I have never heard myself referred to as an "athlete" before. I had just accepted and started identifying myself as a runner, but "athlete" seems so much more intense. 

Perhaps it was the excitement, but before I even hit the 3 mile mark, I had started losing layers. So many of us had to do this, that the side of the road look as if it had snowed clothes. I was ok with losing most of the layers, but I was particularly sad about the 2 sweatshirts. The 1st to go was a red Disney sweatshirt I had just bought the night before and the other was my precious Lose for Good sweatshirt that had gone with me on every cold weather run. When I took it off, I gently draped it over a railing, hoping it would be able to still do some "networking".  I did find out later that Disney collects all the clothes and donates them, so at least I know my sweatshirt is again helping those in need. That definitely made me feel better!

I started looking for ways to help us pay off the trip.

Right around the 5 mile mark, We went past the Contemporary resort where Mikey Trisket was staying. He had told me the night before that he was coming out to cheer me on and had subscribed to the service to get texts on my progress. Luckily, I planned ahead and estimated where he would be and lingered around that side of the route because I actually saw him and his mom out there. I screamed and waved like a lunatic and continued on.

Soon, I started making real progress and i seriously started to freak out as I approached the Magic Kingdom and saw the castle:

The course literally takes you around and then through the castle and it's freakin AWESOME!

You can actually see me posting that very tweet in the background of some broad's pic:

This seriously cracks me up. I may have to buy it, along with:

Soon thereafter, I hit the halfway point and started to worry that it was going to be over too soon:

Along the way, there are characters that you can meet. I wasn't particularly interested in any, except for the penguin from Mary Poppins and mainly because the last time we were in Disney, my brother Jeff was stalked by someone in that costume at Epcot:

Mikey, Jeff and hid Penguin Stalker in November 2008
I couldn't resist snapping this picture and thankfully, she obliged and hammed it up a little:

I like to think she's blowing Jeff a kiss
After the Penguin, there wasn't much else to distract me while running along the road and I was struggling a little around the 11 mile mark because my left achilles was getting a little sore. There were bands and DJ's here and there along the entire route, but I really wish they had more entertainment at this point. There was literally nothing to see but road and trees, for the most part.

Thankfully, we started to swing back around to Epcot where I saw that 12 mile mark and the big sphere behind it:

I seriously cannot believe how awesome the view was:

You can actually see how ecstatic and badass I was feeling as we swung around Epcot:

Just as we were leaving Epcot, we hit the 13 mile mark and I was so psyched that I think my pace was doubled at this point:

Since there really was just parking lot ahead of me at this point and I had the finish line in my sight, I bolted before I started getting too choked up and couldn't run.

and I started to gush on Twitter, since Mikey was too far away:

I took off and accepted my medal for finishing the race:

So shiny!

I bolted over to the official race photo area and had my picture taken there:

Part of me thinks I should have taken off my shirt to reveal my Wonder Woman underoos, but it's probably best I don't reveal my secret identity...yet...

I really just wanted to see Mikey and get some free fruit! 

Contrary to the 5 fingers I am holding up out of indescribable excitement, I did not place 5th. Apparently, this picture has confused a few people. It's literally just sort of a virtual high-5 kind of wave of sorts. I didn't really put much thought into it, as I was clearly overwhelmed and over stimulated at this point. I'm just happy it wasn't anything obscene.

We promptly went back to Pop Century, where I had every intention of showering and heading straight out to roam around Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, once I got into the warm shower and the excitement wore off, I was ready for a nap. I called my parents to tell them I finished and my mom said some awesome things to me...or at least I think so because I was already half-conscious at that point and crashed as soon as I hung up.

For the record, I wore that medal the rest of our time in Disney. The employees and random strangers congratulated me and I soaked up every damn minute of it. Right now, it's hanging in our bedroom, but I'll be carrying it around in my bag for a while. It makes an even better anchor than my tattoo.

As for the rest of our trip, we ended up "stranded" in Disney because NYC was hit with another snow storm and jetblue cancelled our Tuesday flight and moved us to Thursday. Thankfully, we had travel insurance and Orbitz ended up being super helpful. Jetblue did set us up, despite a cranky customer service person on the phone. They actually responded to me on twitter and were awesome, which was great because we have always been big Jetblue supporters and that phone broad almost turned us off from the company completely.  Also, our concierge was able to wrangle us some cheap park tix for the extra days we were there. It was the best vacation ever!

Btw, check out my Before and After pix on this page----->

The Before was taken in the Epcot version of Mexico (or Mexico de la Epcot, if you will...) during our last trip to Disney World in 2008 and when we went to recreate it, they had remodeled the whole joint. I was a little disappointed until Mikey pointed out that it was appropriate, since I had also been "remodeled". Anyway, we had fun trying to show changes other than my physical appearance. We put fruit and water on the table instead of fast food wrappers, I'm wearing my roadid bracelet and obviously, my precious half-marathon medal. Unfortunately, the lighting and positioning of my left arm were a little wonky, otherwise you would see my anchor tattoo that I got once i reached goal:

So there you have it. My vacation AND half-marathon recap. Much longer and perhaps less witty than I'd like to post, but by far the most meaningful thing I have ever forced myself to write.

If you've made it this far, I owe you BIG TIME! How do you feel about a personalized construction paper award made with genuine crayola crayons? Act now while supplies last!