Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another year... poof!

I had an awesome idea this year for the annual letter. See, some of you might not know this, but I'm a big social media nut. Love Twitter, love Facebook, love connecting with others online. I know- total news to you, right? Anyway, so what a great idea it would have been to have this post be a year of Facebook status highlights, right? RIGHT?

No. Talk about a lot of noise to sift through. Don't try it- really, don't. Though not many over share the way I do, so it might be easier for you to try this yourself. Only I want credit for the idea! I did manage to get highlights of the last year in a photo album, so we can thank Facebook for that. Click right HERE for it!

So, how has your year been? If you've followed this place even a little bit, you get an idea of the busy year it was. Well, at least for me. How about the rest of the clan? Let's break it down!

Samantha is now 11 (though she will throw the half in there). She had a good year, with some changes. Before school ended, she performed with her class in a wonderful show and they were amazing. She loves to sing and dance! We also found that she really loves to be active, and enjoys football and basketball. I'm excited for her to move to her new school next year, where she will be able to take on some extra-curricular activities and really find out what interests her.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sam is now in the middle of her last year at the Montessori school she began attending in preschool, which makes me feel quite old. It's been quite the ride, but even with the bumps she has managed to persevere and shine through. At the end of this year she lost one amazing teacher, but fortunately the replacement is just as amazing! She just goes with the flow, and it only adds to her growth. She sucks up learning like a sponge, but the sponge never fills up! She just wants more, and I hope she never loses that. We can't fill up that brain fast enough! It also makes me confident that when she begins Middle School in the fall she will only continue to progress.

Allison has "smoothly" made the transition into teenagerhood, now 14. Earlier in the year while finishing up middle school she found another love in Archery. In March she participated in the statewide competition and did quite well for a first-timer. She has taken it up again this year, and knows she will do even better now that she knows the way it all works. As an incoming Freshman in High School (seriously- whose kids am I talking about?), she also became a mentor for other students just beginning at her school. She will also be playing soccer again in the spring, and has also taken up choir this year. She is continuing Girl Scouts as well, and in her free time (ha!) you can find her drawing and watching and listening to anything anime-related. Or at an anime convention. Or sleeping.

In June she had an extra special adventure: a two-week hiking/camping trip through Denali National Forest in Alaska! This was a trip she took with her Uncle Andy and Grandma Tari. She had an AMAZING time. Hiking, kayaking, glacier-climbing... so many experiences and memories. We feel very grateful that she had this opportunity, and she will never forget it.

Bret is still slugging away at Intel, and has been key in setting up a continuing education program for employees. The tech changes fast, and it's good to be on top of it. He's also become quite the green thumb too- and loves spending time in the vegetable garden. We love eating what he grows too! He also had a solo trip with Alli and Sam this October and took them to Disneyland where they had a blast!

As for me, it seemed to be the year of coming out of my shell. In January I ran my first half-marathon, and pretty much survived. February I spoke about podcasting to a room full of tween girl scouts. I also wrote my first freelance magazine article for Homeland Security Today, on border security in Arizona. This year I once again participated in PodcampAZ, not just as an organizer but I ran my own session as well. I enjoyed the experience of Podcamp so much this year, I decided I might as well run the whole damn thing next year. Ok that's an exaggeration, but I think I'm going to be the one everyone can blame for anything that goes wrong with the unconference this year. I'll keep you posted. I also became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in the foster care system. I've always wanted to become a foster parent, and we're not quite to that point in our lives yet to bring in more children, so this is a way I can pay it forward and help children in the system now. It's so far been a very rewarding experience, and a very personal journey for me too.

2012 is only proving to continue my "coming out" streak. This is very exciting, as I look to get back into actual employment again and put all of these talents I've been practicing to good use.

As a family, we did many things together. In March we went to Las Vegas to see my brother Henry and his wife Maria renew their vows. It actually was a lot of fun, and the kids enjoyed seeing the adult playground. In which we only took them out in sparingly, and for very specific things. Bret and I also enjoyed seeing the Cirque Du Soleil performance of "Love" with my sister and mother. In April we participated in Pat's Run again. This time the whole family ran the longer portion, which made me beyond happy! In June my sister Jenn and I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for our mom Regina, which really did surprise her! I'll never forget the look on her face, it was awesome. She had no clue it was coming, nor did she know we were able to get some very good friends of hers to fly in for the occasion. In July we made our nearly-annual trek to the east coast. Spent a good portion of it in NYC this time. We saw Lady Liberty up close, and also enjoyed seeing a TON of family at my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. We also spent time in Massachusetts too, and celebrated my sister Katie's 40th birthday with a fancy dinner. This Christmas the foster-family clan is traveling here to spend a warmer holiday season, and we can't wait!

So that is it, another year complete. 2012 is looking to be another crazy ride, and we are very much looking forward to seeing what it will bring. May the new year bring all of you nothing but joy, in your family, in your friends, and of course, in yourselves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Team Of Friends

I've been on the PodcampAZ organizing committee for 4 out of 5 years. Last year I bowed out, blaming it on having too much to do. Which I think, looking back, was total BS. EVERY year is busy. I will always have a ton of things going on, and a ton to do. I am (for the most part) happy that way. I like being a part of things, being involved. I know I always bitch and moan about Arizona, but that's really all political. Oh, and the heat. Gorram heat and the air quality and... oh well nevermind.

Seriously though, the community in the Metro Phoenix area just can't be beat. Even my friend Scott was telling me that it would be hard to find this unique community involvement in the Manhattan area, or even the Boston area. It just doesn't happen. The Valley really is a place where you can find a group for just about anything- and probably run into at least 5 people you know at each, who will welcome you with open arms. And beer. So when PodcampAZ was in its beginnings, I jumped at the chance to get involved.

I look at PodcampAZ as sort of an underdog in the big scheme of events that happen in the valley. In some ways, it's harder to sell a free conference than a paid one. You just don't get the same level of commitment from attendees, and in some cases volunteers, not to mention the fact that you're trying to explain why this is even worth the time when it's free. For some reason putting a dollar sign with something adds value in people's minds. And explaining the whole "un-conference" theme to people? Sheesh. I'm so glad we've changed the name!

This year of organizing was without a doubt the best year I've had working on PodcampAZ. Sure, you get your bumps in the road. People join in, then disappear. We scramble to get things done last minute because well, you know we all have a life and that takes precedent at times. But for the most part, everything stayed on track, and we all worked together really well. Another committee member mentioned that she felt for the first time that she truly felt included and actually contributed this time. This was a good thing. We stuck together, and have been there all these years because we see the potential this (un) conference has to offer, and we work our booties off to show this to you. Things went so well, we actually had time to sit and get to know each other better during the weekend- and I consider that a win. My fellow volunteers are awesome, and I consider them all my friends. I'm proud of them and what was accomplished this year.

We don't make a penny off this conference, it all comes from amazing sponsors and goes right back into the weekend. What brings us together is our love of this community and all it has to offer. We all ready know this. We know how awesome the community is, know a lot of the people all ready in it. We also know many more who *should* get involved and learn more about these things as well. We know the benefits, and we want to share.  We believe in this cause, because it's helped us in so many different ways, and we want it to help you too. That's why we volunteer. For me, it's worth every Saturday spent driving across town to meet.

Even though we all are in it together, you can't have a committee without someone taking the reigns and leading. He doesn't make a big deal out of it, but without Tyler keeping us on track we never would have pulled it off. I think he took on too much at times, but that's to be expected when you're the go-to person. I think I can speak for all of us who organized the weekend when I say how grateful I am to him. Tyler made us a team. He's not going to be as involved next year as we plan for TechPhx, and he will be missed. We also know that we have a strong enough backbone to continue on and make the inaugural TechPhx one of the best weekends ever!

We're always looking for more to help too! As you see from my last post, we all have multiple roles in this. We're not just organizers. We're attendees. We're presenters. We're there just like everyone else, and the more the merrier. We had 9-10 people this year, and as I said it was the smoothest year I've had. I can only imagine how 20 volunteers would be. Or 30. Almost makes me feel like I could lead it. ;)

When things get rolling again after the holidays, be on the lookout for how to get involved with one of the most original, innovative conferences that's not a conference in the valley!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Continuing to find my voice

For the first time in 5 years of attending PodcampAZ, I was a speaker. I have no idea what finally made me feel ready to do so. Back in February I spoke about Podcasting to a bunch of Girl Scouts. That was fun, and it went well. Then I spoke about Podcasting at Gangplank Jr. for their journalism program. Also went well. Maybe I figured, "hey, if I can speak to kids (who can be the harshest, most honest critics), then talking to adults should be cake!"

Or maybe I just need to up my meds.

At any rate, I did it. My topic was "How To Podcast Your Politics (and still have people listen)." It started out a little bumpy. I was nervous, even though there were only 12 people in the room and I knew 8 of them. I don't like being noticed. Seriously. I'd rather sit back and listen, ask questions now and then. I'm much better (and louder) behind a microphone. Plus, I kept looking at my outline, and stumbling around a bit. Felt a little like an idiot.

What changed was when I told everyone to jump in and contribute at any time. After that it became more of a discussion. The session led itself, and I just made sure to get through all SIX of my slides! It was a really good time, and I got some really positive feedback. I might just know a thing or two about something! I did record this session, so when I finally get through all the audio to post- I will.

I was also on a couple of panels this weekend. The Podcasting Panel, which was just general Q&A about the what, where, why's of Podcasting. It was ok. I'm very basic in my set up, and I think others make it more complex than it needs to be. They definitely make it more expensive than it needs to be. I just let the others do all the talking. I might skip participating in that one next year if they have it. Unless they really want me to contribute. I just wasn't feeling it this time, but that's cool.

The panel I *really* enjoyed being a part of was the Being Visible Online panel. I didn't think I qualified to be on it, honestly. I just do my thing and don't really worry about who's watching. Turns out I did have something to contribute, and it was an awesome discussion about what you can do, and probably shouldn't do to be visible online. I'm definitely an "oversharer"- every little thing and even a little bigger thing will make it into a tweet or a Facebook status update. It's just what I do. I don't worry about it being too much, I enjoy it. In the political world, it certainly has its drawbacks, and I talked about the time a troll decided to attack me personally after hearing my show. For the most part, if you have an awareness about what you do, you can still be very open AND secure online. The thing that is great about all of this is the control is in your hands, so you can decide if you want to follow what I'm doing, listen to what I'm saying, or read what I'm writing. And if you don't want to, hey that is just fine. We all use the series of tubes for different reasons, and some want to use it more, and some less.

My *SQUEEEE!* moment- Carey Pena of 3TV spoke this year, so I sat in on a bit of her talk. Afterwards, I saw her at the front door talking, and decided that I would go up and thank her for coming and speaking (as an organizer, that's the next post!). So I introduced myself, thanked her for speaking and said I was an organizer.

She's all "You mean 'tsdivadani?"
And I'm like "Uh... yeah...."
And she says "I follow you! I love reading your tweets!"
And I'm thinkin' "Girl I'm supposed to say that to YOU!"

It was my little fan girl moment, but also drove home the point of visibility. You're probably more visible than you think.

All of this speaking just makes me more visible too, not to mention more confident every time I do it. Which is good, since I want to start writing more and getting into more audio editing as a business sort of thing. I have a ton of hands-on experience now in many areas, why shouldn't I try and make a couple bucks here and there too?

I'm very grateful to those who have the faith in me I occasionally lack to do these things. This was a great weekend, and a great one to be a geek too!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The last Podcamp. Not in my eyes.

What. A. Weekend. I'm sitting here in a dazed, confuzzled state trying to get all my thoughts together and write this. I could probably wait until tomorrow, but I also know that I should get this down while it's all still semi-fresh in my head. So many things I want to get down from an organizing, attending, and presenting point of view, I don't know where to start. The best way to do this is to just start writing.

*UPDATE: So, it looks like I ended up talking about the big name change. And I did end up waiting until tomorrow. Next post will cover my specific thoughts as an organizer and presenter this year.

The 5th PodcampAZ was this past weekend. Yes, the shirt says "Last." It was our big surprise, but leaked a little bit early. No biggie. I think everyone was expecting some long, drawn out ramble about a big PodcampAZ- podfade. Or that we merged with some other conference that made podcasting a side note. Instead, we on the committee** simply decided to change the name. That's it. So PodcampAZ has now become TechPhx. Since the beginning, although we stuck to the "unconference" rule that Podcamp has stood by for 5 years, it's never been solely about podcasting. PodcampAZ wasn't even created by a podcaster! It was an awesome dude who saw the Podcamp model and understood the innovative possibilities behind it, and me and many other local podcasters were quick to get on board. But PodcampAZ from the start has always been about the tech community and social media in general, and for the most part the conferences each year have been fairly successful. The problem was getting new people to understand what the conference is, and "Podcamp" to the general public simply isn't as easy to explain.

TechPhx is. I'd really be surprised to say the word "tech" to anyone and have them not know what I was talking about. Technology is our present, and our future. Podcasting is part of that technology, and PodcampAZ will be just one track of many next year. When I have more to say about that, you will be the first to know. As a podcaster, I'm very protective of my medium, just like anyone who believes in something they use often, and serves them well. I never would have been pro-active to a name change had I thought podcasting was going to be edged out the way it has in other conferences.

I get it. You have to move with the changes, and incorporate them with what you're doing, rather than struggling to polarize an event that was never that polarized to begin with. It's a big tech-world out there. We want everyone to know they have a place to go, with a strong community that will help them get started, or expand on what they all ready know.

That is what PodcampAZ was, and what TechPhx will continue to be. See you next year!

**Don't sit in the background and grumble about things you didn't like about the event. Join us and be a part of getting your opinions known and turned into reality! Only you can be the change... that Gandhi guy was awesome. And if you thought it was awesome just the way it was- then you should join us too! We're always looking for more bodies to make the organization process run even smoother than it did this year!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The time is now. The place? PodcampAZ.

I use my voice a lot between the radio and podcasting. So, why has it taken me five years to gather up the nerve to speak at PodcampAZ?

I didn't think I had anything worthy to tell you. Sure, I blather on about politics and issues that concern me, hoping that through my reasoning they can concern you too. But what can I possibly teach anyone? Well, I've always been about different perspectives, and getting people to think about things from a different point of view. so that's what I'm speaking about- how you can talk about your extreme beliefs and still have people listen to you. It certainly doesn't have to be politics, this could be about anything that others might find a little bit crazy. My hope is sharing my strategies will start a discussion and get others engaged. Who knows, maybe the only thing keeping you from doing that podcast or writing that blog post is figuring out how best to present it.

See? I have an entire talk lined up and all I'm doing is taking my experiences and sharing them with you. I'm willing to bet you have something to share too, and we want you to share it with us this November at PodcampAZ. Click RIGHT HERE and register to speak. Or, register someone else you think should be sharing their experiences in this crazy, ever-changing tech world. Guaranteed you will be around people the entire weekend who want to know more. Don't be a chicken like me and wait five years- we want to know NOW. We are all worthy of speaking, and we all have something relevant to say.

Your community is calling, and we need you!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Vacation Highs and Lows

I had planned on blogging during our vacation. Well, that didn't work out. Now we've been home a week, and jumped right back into the fray with back-to-school. So my plan for some elaborate "What I did on summer vacation" post is also out the window. Instead, I have decided to shorten it even more, and give a list. Two, to be exact. So, in no particular order:

Top 10 Vacation Highs:

1. Getting the hell out of AZ.
2. My Aunt and Uncle's 50th Anniversary.
3. My sister's 40th Birthday weekend.
4. Finally visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Links are to my Yelp reviews.
5. Running outdoors, and in lush, green places like this.
6. Meeting online friends in person, thereby making them IRL friends. Which they were all ready, but many still need the clarification.
8. Spending time with family I don't see nearly often enough.
9. All-you-can-eat sushi, Polish food, NY pizza, even more lobster (yes this counts as one)
10. Chocolate factory!
10.1. A lake 5 minutes away.
10.2. Feeling like I'm home even though I never grew up in either NY or MA.

Top 10 Vacation Lows:

1. Not seeing a few of my friends I had wanted to just because we were so busy (Sorry Lubitz family!).
2. Crazy guy in NYC giving me and Kim quite a scare. Enough of one to not forget about it!
3. Not visiting the firehouse studios, where they broadcast Democracy Now.
4. Brooklyn. I thought of them often, even toyed with calling, but since I have no idea what they think of me I didn't. I miss them all so much.
5. At times, traveling with younger daughter. Between the time change and the higher energy of the NY area, we had some rough moments. Tried my best to go with the flow, but it was a challenge!
6. Needing to leave 2 hours before meeting people because of mass transit.
7. Never feeling the time change. You would think after three weeks I'd adjust? Nope. Up at 8 or 9am, not getting to sleep until 3am. I think the last two weeks of vacation were a dream.
8. Not being in my own bed. See #7.
9. So much food!
10. Flying back into Phoenix, seeing nothing but brown and just feeling sad.

Over all it was a great time- though three weeks might have been a bit too long. I don't know if I could do an entire summer like Kimber does every year! I may love the east coast, but all my comforts are in AZ.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Gilbert

I've been doing Daily Challenge thing for several months now. It's ok. Basically you get a small "challenge" to accomplish each day. The idea is each small change will lead to bigger, positive changes in your life. I've learned a few things along the way, but it's certainly not life changing for me. Just a fun thing to do.

This one really happened to get me thinking:

Connect to your community and learn one bit of trivia about your city or town.

How to do it

Type the name of where you live (city or town, state/province) and the word "history" into your Internet browser's search engine. Then take a step back in time and learn one bit of trivia about the place you live.

Why it matters

As people move from place to place, they shed attachments to communities. Knowing a bit about the history of your community will increase your bonds to it and help you feel more connected to your neighbors. It may even help you feel more civically engaged the next time you decide whether or not to take the time to vote on a referendum or attend a town meeting.


I am pretty good about keeping up with what's happening in Gilbert. When an election comes up, my friends are usually asking me what's going on because they aren't paying attention (no, I don't fault them for this. No one cares about politics the way that I do. I'm an odd breed.). I was hoping to find something interesting in the Town's past. Turns out the most exciting thing was "once the Hay capitol of the world."

All righty then. As for other stats listed, it's like any affluent suburb. White, high income, family-centered and a whole lot of churches. Honestly, had I had the interest in politics in 1999 that I do now, we might not have ended up settling down here. But we are here now, and I can't deny that I love my home and the life-long friends I've made, and am always thankful we have the space we do to raise the kids. I definitely grew up with much less. So I've been thinking about what I love and do not really love about Gilbert. Let's start with what I don't like.

Lack of diversity. I know, I know, I live in a middle to upper class suburb. I can only ask for so much. But honestly, my kids get more diversity in thought and people in both of their schools then in their neighborhood. They go to school in Mesa, btw. Not to say Gilbert schools are bad. The Gilbert school district is one of the best in the valley.

Conservative government. Duh, like you didn't see this coming? However, when you know you can't sway voters to consider that perhaps running a town like a business is not a good move, it's kind of fun to watch conservatives duke it out with each other using pretty much the same ideology. They can be pretty nasty though, as we found out during our last Town election. Though this time it took a turn backwards and became even more childish. Hand-written signs on the corners, really Gilbert residents? The median income is $90,000, and you can't have a sign made? Or at least better handwriting?

Religion rules. The next time you are driving on Greenfield Road, count the churches. I certainly haven't done any sort of serious survey, but I don't think I've ever seen as many churches crammed in a town the way they are in Gilbert. I'm not just talking Mormon, but churches in general. Church isn't separate from state either. The Mormon Temple that will be built a few miles from my house got a special waiver from the Council to add their extra 95ft. steeple. Even more recently, the Town gave over $7,000 to a church to save costs on the Town's 4th of July event. So now the event will be at a church. Yes, they saved money by doing so. Yes, I know that I don't have to attend. I happen to be a fan of separation of church and state, and when money starts being given to a church by a town or city, well that just sets a precedent.

Even my atheist friends acknowledge that it saves money and think I should chill. It's just the principle of the thing that bugs me. It's just accepted as ok, no one even thinks "hey maybe we shouldn't have a Town event at a church". Why not have the church donate and help sponsor the event at a neutral location, like one of the beautiful parks in town? Just a thought. Anyway, that's neither here or there, I know where I live and I am one small voice.

Could you see me running for Town Council? That would be hilarious. The thing is, I don't have strong attachments to places in that way. I care enough about my town to vote and encourage others. I care enough to stay informed about decisions being made, and being vocal about things I don't agree with. That really is about it. Again I know where I live. Only 16% of voters bothered with the last town council election, and they were pretty much the same people who wrote the hand-written angry signs all over town. I prefer working on change in other ways.

Now you're all convinced I'm just another angry, bitter liberal, and a lot of the time I am. However, there are many things I love about Gilbert as well. These are the reasons why, even with all the conservative politics and more churches than Circle K's (I kid), I love this town.

Parks, Trails, Paths. When it isn't as hot as the surface of the sun, there are plenty of places to go and be active. The canal paths are amazing, and I run them all the time. They probably save my life on countless occasions, because I don't trust the drivers in this town at all (stick that on the don't like list- Gilbert drivers SUCK. They do not watch for people on the road, and they think you have no right to be there. I'm sure this is other places in the valley too, but the topic is Gilbert. Write your own post about your town if you'd like.)

My favorite run is to take the canal up towards the Riparian Preserve attached to the library. On cooler days, I feel like I'm not even in AZ, and I love that feeling. You see lots of cool birds too. And you can run through the preserve and around the library too if you like. Same with the other parks. Freestone is the biggest park, but they also have Cosmo park which is a dog park.

For the hotter months of summer, the Gilbert pools have been a life saver, especially when my kids were younger. And I can't leave out the Freestone Rec Center. Rock wall, racquetball courts, pool (the one with the sticks), table tennis, and a RUNNING TRACK. It really kicks other gyms' asses, because there are things the kids can do while you're doing your thing (though the kids do like running the track with me). I'm also giving my money to the Town rather than some private chain, which leads me to the next thing I love about Gilbert.

Local Community. Gilbert is a big place, but it doesn't *feel* like a big place. If you just drive down Gilbert Road from Guadalupe to Ray, you see mostly local mixed in with the bigger chains. In the downtown stretch from Elliot to Warner, it's all local. Just south of Warner across from the Civic Center/police station it's more mainstream, but still mixed with a local flair that makes you forget you're eating at Buffalo Wild Wings. Then you have what I like to call the local trifecta: Joe's BBQ, Liberty Market, and Joe's Farm Grill. There's even a fairly new farmers' market, which gets bigger every week- even during these awful summer months. If you want the big box everything, you can get that too. San Tan Village/Mall now takes care of all the things you used to head to Chandler for, and you're pretty likely to run into someone you know. It happens to me all the time, whether at the grocery store or the movies, and even the gym.

So dear Gilbert, I take your good with your bad. I have to- it's silly and selfish to uproot my family just because I don't agree with the politics. It's a safe place, there are plenty of things to do as a family. Their friends are here (as are mine). It's a test (and at times a challenge) of tolerance to live in a place that I feel could be so much more. I feel that way about Arizona in general, not just my town. However I have to choose my battles, and from a family perspective, the good of Gilbert outweighs the bad.

That doesn't mean I have to be quiet about what I don't agree with. ;-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't Be a Sissie.

I've had this pain in my left shoulder for probably two months now. I have no idea what I did, only it went beyond the normal muscle soreness I usually feel after a weight workout. I finally realized that I was the reason it wasn't healing; although I cut down on the amount of weight I was using, I needed to cut it out completely. It's getting better, but it's slow going. My friends tell me to get used to it, it's just a casualty of aging.

Screw that.

So now I've made several attempts at doing some ab work, and have had this painful pulling in the groin area. I stretch out before, but I can't do them, it hurts too much. The first thing that went through my mind was what my friends would say. Another casualty? Is it time to lie down and accept that my body just can't handle it?

Screw that again. I've recently changed my workouts and have been doing my runs before any other weight work. That could certainly be the reason for the pulling, since I feel the pulling (though not to an extreme) as I'm running. So next time I'll do my weight/ab work first again, and see if this is the answer.

Women seem to fight aging by always saying they are 29, coloring their hair, getting tummy tucks and other body altering surgeries. Pain is chalked up as "getting old" and an excuse.

I say one more time, screw that. I'm 39, prematurely grey and have been running for a year and a half now. Besides these small injuries, I feel the best I have ever felt in my life. It's made me proud of who I am without having to cover up. Running has restored a confidence I had lost years ago. I think it is probably the reason I finally decided to do crazy stuff like this. When you are constantly sweating it out and pushing your body to the max, everything else seems easy.

Growing old gracefully? Hell no. I'm taking on every pain, and I will come out on top. Sweaty, bruised, and happy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kicking Off Another PodcampAZ!

5 Years. FIVE. That's how long PodcampAZ has been around, and how many times I've participated. Only have 4 shirts though. My very first one was ruined in an unfortunate oil accident at Bath and Body Works. It sure smells good though.

But I digress...

Every year I talk about how great it is, and every year it just gets better and better. That's because all the awesome people who plan this event and bring you the awesome get better and better at it too. Including this newly-redone website of awesomeness.

So it's time to mark that calendar. November 12-13. UAT. I really don't have to tell you how much I love this event. Register. Now. Go.

(This is the part where I cut and paste):

PodCampAZ, now in its 5th year, is pretty awesome, but we need people like you to let everyone else know. We’ll have FOUR genius panels, TWO parties and ONE new feature that’s NEVER BEEN ATTEMPTED at PodCampAZ before.

If you’re new, fret not. We’ll still be offering intro to podcasting, blogging, social media and any other kind of relevant media we can come up with–think everything but TV and Radio–along with a host of volunteers whose sole purpose is to teach others.

New or experienced, you can help us out. Post this to your blog, Facebook notes page or in an email to all your friends. Tell them to pre-register, nominate speakers or volunteer.

PodCampAZ 2011 will be held November 12-13, from 9am(ish) to 3pm(ish) at the University for Advancing Technology.

See you there!

PodCampAZ 2011

November 12-13, University of Advancing Technology

9am to 3pm

Pre-register –

Speaker nomination -

Volunteer -

UPDATE: And as a quick PS, I decided to speak at PodcampAZ this year! Only took 5 years of gathering up the courage. Or I've just had one cup of coffee too many today...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Freelance writing? Who knew?

2011 seems to be turning into "The Year Of New Things" for me. It kicked off with completing my first half-marathon. The flood gates just seemed to open after that. I did a presentation on Podcasting for a room filled with Girl Scouts (which by the way I'm doing again for Gangplank Jr. on April 30th! Boys can podcast too!). I have never given any sort of presentation of any kind before. I shot a gun for the first time in my life, and I'm going to be 39 at the end of the month. I also had an opportunity to test my writing wings, and get paid for it! I want to focus on the writing experience right now, as it was a month of crossed fingers and added gray hairs (because yeah, I need more right?) as I waited to see if the article would make it to print.

When my extraordinary go-getter friend Sara approached me about writing for Homeland Security Today, I was a bit confused initially. I don't write, I record. I blog occasionally. I share things on Facebook and Twitter. Write- at least 2000 words- and be paid for it? I must be the most unqualified person for the job.

After 10 minutes or so of all the negative, I calmed down. The topic was intriguing for my politically-charged mind. A comparison piece of Sheriff Joe Arpaio here in Maricopa County, and Pima County Sheriff Clarance Dupnik. For those not up on the news, Pima county is on the border, and he's the recently outspoken Sheriff who blamed the January shootings in Tucson on right wing rhetoric. The editor wanted a piece covering both Sheriff's background, and their policies and ideas on border security and illegal immigration. See? I get all tingly even as I type this. What a great topic. Honestly the moment I saw the subject the angle formed in my brain. And hey- I *do* write out my podcast scripts since I research topics before recording. So why not? What's the worst that could happen? So Sara introduced me to the editor and contracts were signed.

Wait- interviews? Like, interviewing both Sheriffs? Calling up offices and arranging times? Are they nuts? I don't even call my own FAMILY. After spending two hours searching and re-searching both Sheriffs websites for media contact email addresses, I realized I'd better just call. I got that ball rolling, then began outlining my piece.

Researching and writing were the easy parts. Well, it turned out that researching was the easy part. I'm good at that. I learned a whole bunch about writing from this experience. I sent my first draft to Sara, and 24 hours later she sent it back, with a note: "Don't let all the blue color scare you."

I waited another day before I looked.

Sending it to her was a good move. One, she has written for this magazine before. She knows their style, and what they are looking for. Two, she's been writing and critiquing way longer than I have. I trust her, and I don't take criticism personally. The harsher the better, otherwise how will I improve (unless you're my husband, apparently. I practically bawled when he told me what he thought.)

So I jumped into corrections, while checking in with my interview hopefuls. More messages left. I even reached out to a few people I knew on Twitter/FB who I thought might have some connections. As the deadline approached, it became less about talking to a Sheriff, and being ok with just talking to anyone from the Sheriff's office. I focused on the writing. My biggest problem as I look back was I think I tried too hard. My goal (with full disclosure to the editor how liberal I am) was to show that I could stick to facts and be unbiased, keeping my personal feelings on immigration out of the mix. It worked too well, because my writing initially was dry, and just fact after fact. Like reading an encyclopedia page. It lacked personality, which I'm glad I fixed (with help) for the final result.

As luck (??) would have it, the editor of the magazine and a few of the writers were in town for a Border Security convention in mid-February, so both Sara and I got to meet them. That was nice, I always like meeting the people I connect with in person. Plus, if I wow them with my vast knowledge of all things border security, maybe they will hire me again!

Not only could I not remember the name of the man who ran against Sheriff Arpaio (Dan Saban) in the 2008 election, I felt the beginnings of the flu coming on. Sara said I did fine in my conversations, but I was dead on my feet by the end of the dinner. The next week was spent in bed with the laptop, trying to write with a 103 degree temp, and aches so painful blinking made me cry. Thoughts of failure wormed their way in much easier through my flu-induced delirium.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, Arpaio's office called to schedule the interview. Now that the deadline was closer, I had to take a phone interview versus meeting him in person. The President's Day weekend was coming up, but we scheduled it on that Monday. "The Sheriff never takes a day off." his assistant told me. All righty then!

A whole new set of fears overtook me. Will my recording equipment work? Am I going to keep hacking into the phone during the interview? What were all those questions I had??? Oh no did he check out my Twitter/Facebook accounts, where I yell about his policies ALL THE TIME? I had actually stopped talking about him directly when I got the gig- funny how professionalism does that. Or maybe it was the fear.

It was a good interview, I have to admit. I enjoyed talking to Arpaio. When you stick to the facts, there is no room to get emotional. I think there was only one time I had to bite my tongue, but overall it was a good interview. I need to finish the editing of the audio, and I will share it with you all on the podcast.

It was such a relief to finally send off the finished product. Sara had warned me that I would get it back for more edits- that's just the way it goes, so it didn't come as a surprise. Mostly the changes were in the placement of the information to help the story flow better, but it was me! My work, my name, my accomplishment!

Seeing it online, I couldn't stop grinning (and sharing!). When I get print copies, I'm sure all the grins will come back again.

It was a definite learning experience, in several ways. Obviously I'm now an expert in border security (sarcasm please). However, writing for a publication is completely different than mere blogging or writing for a show that is all about you and your beliefs. I also learned that I can loosen up and it's ok. There is a way to be factual and unbiased, and still have a fun style that makes people want to read. It's an art form, truly. I'm all ready thinking about the next writing project, and who I can market it out to. Possibilities abound. As I said, the flood gates are open, and I'm very lucky to be in a position where I can really explore this freelance thing and see where it goes.

Besides, practice makes perfect, right?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hear Me Roar

A couple of weeks ago I shot a gun for the first time. General curiosity really. I had never even held one before. I also sort of owed it to my podcast listeners. I go off a lot about not being the biggest fan of guns, and in the name of fairness I felt I should at least experience shooting one. I have been working on the next show in which I talk about it. Here's a hint: not much has changed in my opinion of guns, but I have a new perspective.

Tonight I went to a self-defense class offered by the Gilbert Police Department. Also curiosity, the first part was about general burglary and how to make your home safer, then on to your car, and also ID theft. The second part of the class was the physical part, where we learned several self-defense moves. It was fun really, and a way to test my strength a bit.

I was thinking a little about both of these things I've done recently, and the timing. Am I feeling threatened? Am I scared of something? Am I feeling weak?

My conclusion was exactly the opposite. I feel strong. I feel confident. I am pushing myself all the time when I run. I want to know what I can do, what I am capable of.

What's next?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

So What Now?

It's been two weeks since the half-marathon. I've been dealing with pains on and off, but overall I've just been feeling lazy. My workouts haven't been as intense, and I haven't run further than 2 or 3 miles when I have run, which has only been 3 or 4 times.

My next event is Pat's Run (yep a year has passed all ready!). The place where my addiction began. It was my very first timed run, and I did it in 50 minutes (11:57 mile average). This year I'm looking at this run very differently. Last year it was "will I run 4.2 miles?" This year it's "how fast can I run it?"

You know you've progressed when you look at a 4 mile run and it's a warm up. ;-)

So I've made a goal to run it in 45 minutes- or less! That's just under an 11 minute mile.

So what's the plan? I really liked having a written plan for training with the half, it kept me focused and accountable. I want to have a written plan for this too, though I'm really not sure I need one. I know how to increase my cardio. I know how to become faster. I just have to do it.

My kids both want to run it. Allison I'm not worried about at all, she can do it. It's Sam I wonder about. 4.2 miles is a long way for a 10 year old. Kimber's son wants to do it as well, so we're going to take them to Tempe one of these days and walk the course. Sam has been running a bit- a mile run a day after school on and off. She certainly has the energy, so maybe I'm just worried about my husband, who has no interest in running but will be the one sticking with the kids should they do it.

My friend Scott is traveling here again and will take part- and he wants to run it this year too! He walked last year and he got a bit of the "can I run it" bug himself. AND- my sister Katie is flying out as well! So I'm very excited for this year's run and having even more people to share such an awesome day with!

She has all ready requested Monti's... ;-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The newest member of the 13.1 Club

Well, that's done. My first 13.1 miles complete. What a great event, and a great day! I didn't go as fast as I had hoped, however I did keep it under 3 hours (2:52), and that was the big thing I wanted to accomplish. It's really quite different when you first get out there vs. how you play it out in your mind. At least the first time.

The one thing that put a negative on my performance was all the waiting prior. With the curve in my lower back, standing for a long period of time really hurts. As much as I tried to keep it stretched out, by the time our corral was released I was all ready in more pain than I wanted to be. Also, I should have had a throw away bottle of water. After waiting for 30 minutes (plus another 30 minutes before that at the bathroom line) by the time we began running I was thirsty, so we stopped at the first water station rather than skipping it like I had hoped. Next time I need to remember to be more hydrated prior.

The run itself went smoothly once everyone spread out from the starting line. I was hoping not to walk as much as I did, but with my back all ready tight from standing I needed to. My brother was there with me speed walking/jogging, and I am definitely grateful he was there because he kept me entertained. He also had the GPS keeping track of our splits. I have to get those from him, because the Competitor Wireless site that I signed up for was a complete fail to keep track of my time. It worked for the others I tracked, but for me it only told me when I passed the markers, not my split time. It didn't even tell me when I started! Major fail, and I also let the company know. Not all of us have the fancy gear to keep track!

At about mile 8 my entire lower half was in pain. Mile 10 was as far as both Andy and I had run before, so it was a moment to pass that marker (we high-fived it). At mile 11 Andy went off to finish the race on his own. That was cool though, honestly I expected us to just be at the race together, so I'm eternally grateful that he stayed with me through most of it.

When I hit the Mill Ave Bridge I nearly started crying. Home stretch literally. Then the last quarter mile I pushed so I could have a strong finish. I sent Bret a text at mile 12 so he knew to be ready with the camera! My back was so stiff I was hunched over after crossing, and I must have looked really bad because a medic came over to make sure I was ok. Heh, stupid back.

Had a great (and well-earned I think) celebration lunch at Monti's with my family, some of Andy's friends, and my friends Rob, Crystal and Sean, and Debbie. It meant a lot for all of them to make it down and join me in my accomplishment. Thank you all- much love! I also heard Crystal began her Couch to 5k today, so good on her!

Last night I had to keep moving around and stretching or my legs just stiffened up instantly. Today I'm feeling sore, like I did about 100 squats. But moving is easier. Oh, and I could lose a toenail. Do you put those under your pillow for the running fairy? Overall, I'm doing good, and tomorrow I think I'll take a short run to stretch my legs.

So I did it! Now that I've experienced it, I know what I need to do to improve. I do have to say that at this very moment running two of these back-to-back is not the foremost thing on my mind.

Give me a couple of days... ;-)

Waiting for me when I got home
that afternoon- flowers from my sister!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let's Rock And Roll!

So, that's it then. Training complete. Now I finally get to see what all the running, soreness, whining, complaining, and occasionally crying has done. I should be stepping over that start line around 9am.

I feel good. Confident. I know I have the endurance, I know I have the strength. I drove the course last week so I know what I'm in for and where exactly it goes. It's going to be a great run, and I'm definitely excited and not nervous.

I've said in past posts that my brother Andy is running with me. I figured it was running the race on our own, and he was going to be there at the finish line. Turns out he is literally running it with me. So I'll have company the entire time! Of course, he's 6'2" and his legs are as long as half my body. I imagine he's going to be walking a lot! I'm grateful to him for just wanting to hang out and support me, though just being in the race was enough.

I've got a few more thank yous as well.

First and foremost to my husband. Without him, there is no way I'd be able to take as much time as I did training. He was the first ear to hear me bitch and moan, but also the first one to ask me how my runs went. He's more supportive than I could ever express- I just love that man! I wish I could say that the home life will be getting back to its 1950's stereotype soon, but since it never was that way to begin with... ;-)

Kimber! If it weren't for her, I never would have discovered my love for running in the first place. Training with her is always a lot of fun, and she pushes me to be better and go further with just her presence alone. Even though she really doesn't like running, I know she was looking forward to tomorrow and is bummed she can't run (she cracked her heel just before Christmas). I'm so thankful to have her as a friend, even beyond training.

Tyler! He probably doesn't realize this, but he has also been a big inspiration to me. He contributes to the Almost Barefoot blog, among many other blogs (just go to and see all that he does). Reading his stories and seeing how he pushes himself helped push me, along with the advice here and there via Twitter and Facebook. It meant more than he knows. :-)

And of course to everyone reading- thank you for your comments, messages, and support as you read my progress here and over on Facebook. They say blogging is a lonely medium, but I know it's not.

Ok enough mush and sentiment. I have had my plateful of pasta, now it's time to chillax and hopefully be rested so I can kill it tomorrow!

Friday, January 07, 2011

You are important because...

Yesterday I was having a downer day, and after a little self-reflection I realized something.

I'm not afraid of rejection. I'm afraid of acceptance.

Wrap your mind around that one! Anway, I was reading a post from Be More With Less, and I liked this bit and wanted to share.

* You made someone smile today.
* You chose to love instead of judge.
* You said a bedtime prayer with your child.
* You are perfectly flawed.
* You helped someone that was helpless.
* You left a legacy of love.
* You made soup for your family or just for you.
* You see the mosaic of life’s architecture.
* You took the blame because you knew the solution was more important.
* You have a plan without a plan.
* You didn’t care about being right.
* You asked for love.
* You made a decision based on fact instead of fear.
* You chose to love more deeply.
* You threw caution to the wind and followed your heart.
* You fed someone.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Initially receiving the email made me smile, then I realized I was chewing on my nails as I was reading over the Final Prep email from the Rock-n-Roll marathon. It's like, here. I just read my first post after I took the plunge and began training, and I feel like a completely different person now. If you want to learn a few things about who you are, then I suggest training for something. You have no choice but to face some demons, if you're committed to your goal. The thing that stands out for me is that I haven't been training to run faster, but to slow down. How weird is that? What's more strange is in slowing down, I've become faster, and stronger. There is truth in the saying "don't sweat the small stuff". Though I did plenty of sweating anyway!

Time shouldn't be on my mind, but it is. When I first registered, without knowing how fast I could run 13.1 miles, I estimated my completion time at 3 hours. I can now say with confidence that it will not take me 3 hours to run this. Perhaps close, but I'm really shooting for a 12 min. mile average. All the training leads up to pushing it at the race, right? It's why I've been training for 4 months- to learn to pace myself so I can push through. I have to say I'm excited to see the results of all the work!

Another thing I was nervous about was the weather. I don't run early in the mornings, so I haven't dealt with really cold temps. Running with my sister and brother while in Massachusetts helped with that- 25 degrees! It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and gave me a good idea of how to dress on race day. I doubt I will layer any clothes on at all. It might be chilly at the beginning, but by the end I'll be glad I don't have a jacket around my waist.

Speaking of running last week, being on vacation I didn't do any official training. I ran twice with my sister, and hurt my ankle a bit while running up a hill. Not used to hills AT ALL, apparently. It was a little sore the next day, but fine now. So, I'm considering that a tapering week, and will get one more 6-8 mile run in this weekend. Then next week some short runs/repeats, and then it's race day! WooHOO!

On a sad note, my training partner and dear friend Kimber cracked her heel a couple of weeks ago, and will not be running with me. She does promise to be waiting at the finish line- so I'm holding her to that! On a happier note, my brother is coming from SF to run it "with" me. That means he'll be waiting for me at the finish line too. Then we decided that Monti's for lunch was definitely in order to celebrate- so that is where our sweaty butts will be after!

I am now going to encase myself in bubble wrap for the next 11 days- no injuries! ;-)