Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Worm

Our school librarian sent out an email this week to have the faculty send in our top 3-5 favorite books of all time (she is going to make a game out of it somehow). I thought this was very hard to do, mainly because I have read a lot of good books but I can hardly remember any of them. As I have said, I am always reading something and probably read a 20-25 books a year, but since I read so much, I quickly forget books that I've read (sometimes so much so that I read them again not realizing til mid-way through that I have already read them. Hey, nothing like a good repeat)!

The top books on my list were:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
3. Coming of Age in Mississippi
4. Harry Potter (obvi- read the whole series at least 5 times- gotta include it!)

I came up with this list by the first books that popped into my head, but also with books I have read more than once. All the above books I've read at least 3 times. However, I was thinking more and thought of some other favorites...The Help, Nineteen Minutes, The Awakening, Catcher in the Rye, Firefly Lane, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Love in the Time of Cholera, Anne of Green gets SO hard! I know these are not the only books I have read and loved over the years, but it is so easy to forget the great ones when you read so much.

SO my challenge to you all: What are your top 3-5 favorite books? I am always looking for reading suggestions, so comment below!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Final Four!

When I wrote my post about "Richmond Representin'" last week I had no IDEA what that truly meant. To have VCU get into the Elite Eight and then win today against a number ONE seeded team to get into the Final Four, is truly amazing. This is why the NCAA basketball championship is so popular- ANYONE can win. It's something I wish they would do with football.

This tournament has given Richmond something to truly unite the whole city. Normally, we are pretty divided amongst UVA and Virginia Tech allegiance...rarely is there much mention to VCU or the U of R. But this tournament has truly changed all that. EVERYONE is rooting for VCU. The streets of Downtown Richmond have been going crazy since the win this afternoon. People are cheering, roaming in the streets and going bonkers. I went to the gym right after the game today in my VCU gear and people started cheering and clapping. It is such a great Cinderella story of a team that no one thought would get in to a team finishing out the last number one seed. My brother and sister-in-law saw both the games this weekend in San Antonio and they had a blast. Now I have to get ticket deals for them for the game next weekend. It has been such a fun few weeks. I know it could end at any time so I am really enjoying the great spirit that is filling the streets of Richmond. I am even wearing my VCU gear to work tomorrow (even though I might get yelled at...).

So if you read this, cheer for the VCU Rams next weekend against Butler. They have shown that anyone can win this tournament!

Me and my gear before the game today (I don't know why my left eye is squinty?)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Richmond Representin'

I've been so busy this week (hello soccer!) that I haven't even had time to think about a really cool blog post. I know you all are always anxiously, impatiently awaiting the words that flow from my mind.

Forgive me.

But I do want to mention how awesome the NCAA basketball tourney is this year. Richmond, Virginia is representing HARDCORE. Not only do we have two teams in the Sweet 16, but one of them is where my dad is a professor, my brother went for undergrad and I went for grad school! In case you live under a rock- I'm talking about VCU!! They shouldn't have even gotten into the tournament (I hear ya, Virginia Tech fans) BUT I love that they are just shoving that fact into every ones mouths. So what? They did and they are ROCKIN' it! And so is the University of Richmond! This is not as much of a surprise, but Richmond is owning their competition, too. I don't have as much connection with U of R besides living right by it and visiting the campus occasionally for events, but it is so fun to have two powerhouse teams in the area. None of either teams games have been close and it's been a great boost for the city. I hope hope hope that they both (or at least on) go to the Elite 8! It's nice to have ONE of my alma-maters doing well in basketball (ahhemm...UVA....).

*I am also a big Ohio State fan, so their whompin'-and-stompin' has been enjoyed too, but it's not as exciting since it's more expected (and I picked them to win the whole thing).

On a sad note, Richmond is also representin' in a sad way. The first American victim of the Tsunami in Japan was from Midlothian, which is where I grew up and currently live. She went to a neighboring high school and college. I actually knew this person briefly (we worked together one summer), but my roommate grew up with her and many of my friends knew her well. It just hits very close to home when you hear that someone your age, from your town died from this tragedy. I also have known many people that have been in Japan, China and Korea teaching, just like her. No doubt there will be other Americans found, but it is just a close reminder that we all live very fragile lives and are all very lucky to have what we do. So please keep her family in your thoughts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Animal Are You?

It has been a running joke amongst my department and soccer team this week about what animals people look like.
I know, we’re weird.
It all started at a department lunch last week when one of my coworkers starting going across the table and telling us what animal we looked like. It, needless to say, got silly very quickly. (In case you’re wondering, counselors in my department look like peacocks, koala bears, tropical fish/birds, and pandas).
I always thought I looked like a turtle because it was a nickname my brother’s friends gave me in middle school (originally it was “Koopa” after the character on MarioKart, then it morphed into turtle). However, I was informed last week that I am a pony because of my long, thick hair (I was wearing my hair up a lot last week due to lots of soccer and laziness on my part).
Then, ironically, this week at soccer practice one of my senior girls asked me, “Ms. Walsh, (blank) keeps telling me I look like a chipmunk. Do you think I do?” I busted out laughing, one, because if she was an animal I think a chipmunk is a good description and two, because apparently everyone is about finding their animal look-a-likes this week. I explained to her that we were just having the same conversation and that I am a pony, and she got a kick out of it. So now everyone on my team mentions that I look like a pony with my hair up. They also enjoy playing with my hair, but that’s another story.
And the madness just continued today. Students keep bringing it up! We decided the testing coordinator looks like a cat (she has cat tendencies- napping and laying in the sun), and one of my students look like a cute Surikat. It seems the word is spreading and everyone wants to know what they look like. We teach and discuss such important things in school.
See, things get a little crazy during March in schools with no breaks and 5 looong weeks. We gotta make it fun!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Videos from Italy

I have been bitten by the travel bug! I am readily planning my next travels, but in the meantime I found some videos that I never posted from my trip to Italy this summer.

Street performers in our favorite piazza by our hotel:

Who knew a pigeon could be so entertaining? A video of a bigger piazza on our day of leisure in Rome:

Lastly, the beautiful Cinque Terre:

I wanna go back!


I may watch a lot of TV (please tell me some of you watched The Bachelor finale last night?!), but I am also always reading.

I was reading an educational book last month (yes, I don’t just read chick-lit…I also like mysteries, historical novels, biographies and books on topics) that had a profound statement that really got me thinking. It was something along the lines of, “If you could look into a crystal ball and know that you would be as you are now for the rest of your life, would you continue living the way you are or would you do something different?”

I gave this a lot of thought. I always assumed I would either be in a committed, serious relationship or get married at some point, but what if I don’t? Would I be ok, really, just me? This question really brought me some sort of clarity. 

If I was single my whole life, what would I do different than I am doing now? First off, there are many things I wouldn’t change- I would still work hard at my job and stay active/healthy. But what else do I wish I would do? Well for one thing, I wouldn’t waste time trying to be someone I’m not or doing things I don’t want to do to potentially “meet” someone.

In short, I would live more. I would do more. I would travel WAY more. And I would worry less. And I hate that I wasn’t thinking this way before. It’s not like I was just waiting around, but in some ways maybe I was. Maybe even though I am successful and independent, I was secretly putting my life on hold to wait for someone. And it is so silly to think that I was waiting for something and someone I’ve never even met. I mean, why do people do that? You would never pay or plan for something you didn’t even see or know about, so why do we do that with our lives?

You can think for yourself- let’s say your life as it is now (married, single, engaged, whatever), is how it will always be- what would you do differently? When you think of life like that, I think it leaves you really wanting to fulfill your dreams on your own terms. Sure your job may change and where you live may change, but your attitude on life should always be the same. It should be to live, experience and have fun.

So I am doing more- getting more involved with my job, volunteering my time for varsity soccer, singing in an a capella group, running more races (even two within 24 hours in May), going to more events around Richmond (hello Brown’s Island), being more social, playing more sports, traveling more places, spending more money, being more spontaneous and getting less sleep. But what I gain from all these things is LIFE. I have the luxury to design my life as I want it. That is a luxury many people don’t have and I am lucky. I am in no way not lucky. I have great friends and family, a good job, a steady income, my health and a pretty stress-free existence. I could dig that for my whole life (I mean my grandmom was widowed in her 50’s and is still rockin’ the single life at 90, happy, fulfilled and independent).

And if along the way I meet someone, then great. But he's gonna have to be pretty amazing for me to give up all my wonderful opportunities. 

Does that statement change your outlook?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fit for Life

I have also been an exerciser. I played fall and spring soccer from age 6 until age 16 and swam in the summers. Once I stopped with sports, I joined the YMCA and have been going at least 4 times a week since. In college I played intramural sports. After college I got into running as I began doing races around Richmond. I also joined a summer rec soccer league to spruce up my skills. Currently, I run 2-3x a week (I’m training for the 10k), go to the gym 2-3x a week, lift weights 2-3x a week (usually the days I am at the gym) and coach soccer 2x a week. 

Needless to say, fitness is a part of who I am. I am not the most intense workout-er (I find that if I kill myself on a daily basis, I won’t stick with it), but I workout consistently and make it a priority. It is a nice mental break that helps me in all other aspects of my life. That is not to say that I always like to workout or want to take the time out of my day to do it (especially since on weekdays I often have to work out in the middle of the day since I get off by 3 and then have to shower and redress if I am going back out at night) but it is not an option for me. It is so much a part of who I am that I don’t even think about it. I usually schedule the days I will go/what I will do at the beginning of the week so I can plan for them. That way it is built into my schedule and not an option. I always work out on Saturday and Sunday (usually running) and the other days in the week tend to vary based on activities. When I coach I run around and play with the girls during practice, but if I don’t feel like I got a good workout or if I want to lift weights I go to the gym on my way home.

People often comment about how they “wish they were more active and could be healthier.” It is not easy. Any athlete or fitness buff knows that it takes time and energy to stick with any fitness regimen. Luckily, I grew up in a family where health and fitness were the norm. My dad ran marathons and ran 6x a week my whole life, usually at the crack of dawn (I still don’t know how he did it- I get up at 6:20 and can’t imagine getting up at 5 am in the dead of winter to run in the freezing cold darkness). He didn’t like it, but he did it to be healthy. My siblings and I always played sports (soccer, baseball, track, bowling). As I got older my mom got into walking and now walks 5 miles a day and does zumba, pilates or yoga a few times a week. My oldest brother has a treadmill and my middle brother runs. We all have kept active and are all (thankfully) very healthy. We also eat generally well- not one of us eats fast food on a regular basis (and we never did growing up…hmmm see how that works?). I don’t drink soda or eat red meat. We cook and eat at home more than we go out. My idea of going out is to Panera or for Sushi. Not TGIFridays or Outback. We watch what we eat. We’re not perfect and we still splurge but the majority of the time we’re healthy.

Being “Fit for Life” – as the class is called in the high school I work at- is a dedication. It is not always the easiest or cheapest or most convenient way to live, but I believe it leads to a better life. True we could be as healthy as possible and still die in a car accident or get cancer. But that’s why it’s all about balance and being held accountable for what you can do- you live and make healthy choices but also let yourself off the hook on the weeks you didn’t eat as well or didn’t work out as much as you should. It doesn’t mean you have to run 5 miles a day- that 20 minute walk or that 1 hour spent doing yard work or those 2 hours you were standing cheering at the game- they all amount to something. It’s ok to agree to go out with friends but to only get a little to eat or drink- they understand. I remember for the longest time I felt like I had to eat big amounts when I was out because I was out. Now my friends and I will only have one drink or something small to eat or even just come out for the company in an effort to be healthy and save money. Being social does not have to equate to being unhealthy.

Why am I writing about all this? We’ll, because sometimes I think people don’t understand what it is like to truly have health be a part of your life. They amount you to “dieting” or “trying to lose weight” (so therefore you’re not fun to go out with) or that you are thin because you have “good genes.” Sure genes do help your size, but then again, I work out more than many of my friends and many of them are smaller than me. But I never am on a “diet” or “trying to lose weight”- however I am constantly trying to make good health decisions and trying out new things to see how they make me feel or change my body. My weight goes up and down just like the next persons. I am still getting to understand my body and my health because my health needs are constantly changing.

So for those of you wanting to be healthy, here is my advice: To truly live healthy, you have to change your life. It is not a diet or a fad- it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle of waking up on a Saturday and putting on your shoes to go for a run instead of sleeping an extra 30 minutes; a lifestyle of having only an hour and a half break after work before you have another commitment, so you go to the gym; a lifestyle of saying no to that second beer at happy hour; a lifestyle of sometimes going to bed a little hungry even though you REALLY want a cookie. So do it one step at a time. It does take time and is a mental and physical transformation. But to me the drawbacks nowhere near outweigh the benefits- I rarely get sick, have great energy, and can do many activities without much effort because of my fitness level. To me, feeling good and feeling good about myself are priorities in life.

It is a slight obsession to be fit for life, but I think it’s one of the better ones.

Monday, March 7, 2011

127 Hours of Love and Other Drugs

Yesterday was a rainy Sunday, so I decided after a delicious brunch downtown, to rest up and catch up on moves I had been meaning to see. I started with "127 Hours" at my parents house.

This was a very intense movie. I remember when the news broke about the climber who had cut his own arm off, but you never really understand what it's like until you see this movie. You really get inside his head about what it was like. Me and my mom could not watch the amputation scene (I watched bits of it through my fingers and had to plug my ears) even though we knew it was coming. How he was able to do that and then climb out out of the canyons (after 6 days and having run out of water and food two days before) and find help is beyond me. I balled my eyes out when he got rescued- I mean like "The Notebook" balled- tears everywhere. It is a very emotional movie. Definitely gets two thumbs up. I also then proceded to youtube any interviews with the real life Aron ralston, so I watched 90 minutes of a Dateline NBC with Tom Brokaw detailing everything. The movie definitely did him justice- very detailed and even the visions he saw in real life were depicted in the movie.

"Love and Other Drugs" was a more lighthearted movie that I saw with my roommates last night. I liked it- I find that if you go into movies just wanting a nice story and escape from life, you tend to enjoy them more. While this one didn't resonate with me like "127 Hours" (and it had lots of nakedness and sex...but I knew that going in) it was still enjoyable and a nice little tale about the pharmecutical industry.

So check both of them out if you have some time. Next up...I want to see 'Due Date."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Single with Cat

If you're friends with me on facebook, you might have already seen this video. It cracks me up so much that I have to post it here:

It's funny in that the running joke between me and my friends is that I am going to be the old lady with all the cats because I am obsessed with my two boys so much. This video explains why that could happen...:)