One of my favorite things to do in New York City is to search for interesting graffiti. Sometimes, the words sprawled across a wall can be so relevant and poignant. The red letters saying, “Why do we just accept things” makes me wonder just that. Here’s just a couple of things in my own neck of the woods that recently have me wondering why.
1. Perhaps I’m ill-informed, but why will it cost $100,000 (yep that’s a tenth of a MILLION dollars) to install a traffic light on Main Street?
2. The fate of Powder Ridge. If this were colonial times, we would all be up there with pitch forks aimed and ready for wasting our hard earned crop money on something that had no business plan before the town hastily purchased it.
3. Why must we accept the giant utility poles that ruin every landscape photo I have of this town so that Greenwich and New Canaan can have an extra few watts of energy? Not only does it show our weak bargaining power, but it also adds extra editing time to remove the unsightly monstrosities with Photoshop.
4. The school budget… Everyone whines after the fact, but no one goes to the meetings until it’s too late to have an effect.
5. Add your own. ___________________________________________________________________
We have become programmed. Without a thought, most just accept a fate whether we like it or not. The scary thing is that most don’t do anything about the things that bother us. Has our society become so obedient that we have lost our true sense of freedom? Our complacency can be destructive when it comes to things that affect ALL of us. If we continue to accept mediocrity as a standard, then the truth is going to hurt as this ship sinks. I understand why most stay uninvolved in our local or national issues. We feel like NO ONE listens to us. Issues will likely never be resolved if we continue to apply Newton’s theory of motion to life: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. But based on the noise volume at a Bunko party I went to the other night, I realized that just a few ladies could get pretty noisy when they want to be heard. We can be an external force to be reckoned with. When it comes to life, we all have similar plights. Somebody’s got to pick up the kids at CCD, make runs to the transfer station or put food on the table. Just insert your plight into the space______________________. As you zip back and forth through town, try to remove life’s blinders and imagine what this place would be like if each and every one of us took a personal interest in our collective issues. The truth is, things would change. While we may see some heckling or some wheeling and dealing right under our noses, it’s better than mediocrity. I guarantee that there’s an issue out there just for you. When you get involved, you’ll get to know the people you share this space with. It feels refreshing to be connected. I personally picked the wellness issue and I am glad I did, because I think that this town has reaped some benefits from the effort. There you have it, my two cents worth. Kudos to those of you that don’t twiddle your thumbs. Today's "ordinary miracle", it's in your hands.
Running: a recipe for happiness.
I was talking with a good friend today about running. Put simply, he said, “I hate running." After thinking that hate is a really strong word, I began to wonder why some people feel this way. After all, we evolved into upright primates so we could run and hunt for our food. How can a basic skill be so bad? I have noted time and time again that I am neither fast nor graceful when it comes to running. I barely use the heels of my feet to strike the pavement. I am a mechanical mess. Despite this, I am drawn to it. I believe so much in the power of a natural dopamine high that it led to the creation of Go Far. For every perfect runner out there, there are many of us that run with faults. Despite the shaky footing some runners may have, the positivity that comes from it takes precedence. Just this week, an article spread like wildfire on the Internet suggesting that one in ever 5 Americans have suffered from mental illness over the past year. “The research defined a major episode as at least a two-week period when a person is depressed with a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, while also experiencing at least four of seven symptoms defined in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” I personally blame this epidemic on a sedentary lifestyle. But I believe that running can be a game changer. It has proven to be a successful coping mechanism for the many stresses that life throws at us. My husband often runs home from his stressful job as an anesthesiologist. His run allows him to detox from the pressures of work. Those stresses are checked at the door allowing him quality family time diminishing any baggage that comes with his job. After his run, any emptiness he may have inside, is hungrily satisfied with a bowl of pasta. For my son, running comes out of necessity. His natural ability to run placates his resistance to sit still during school. At a young age, I realized that for his teachers’ sake, a pair of running shoes for the boy would be a must. Running has taught him things about himself that couldn’t be learned via parenting, through textbooks or an Xbox. It’s helped define who he is and who he wants to be. It’s given him life skill sets that include navigation, road safety, and parental independence. With every step he makes, a decision is made and he learns quickly to think on his feet. Personally, running brings my creative thoughts into crystal clear focus. The seeds planted in my mind during a run tend to grow into realistic goals and projects. It is here that any misguided thoughts are booted out and the positive ones take their place. It helps me be a more effective parent and keep things in perspective. My daughter is a reluctant runner. Despite her resistance to run, the effects of the sport in her life are undeniable. As I see it, the sport will have a more deliberate effect on her. Over the years, she’ll come relish in the family traditions that running has created. At seasonal events such as Turkey Trots or marathons, up to twelve immediate Schulten family members may gather to race together. Like the rest of us, she cherishes those times realizing that a family that runs together, stays together. Starting a running regimen takes little more than having a decent pair of sneakers. A runner’s first weeks are undoubtedly the hardest and may feel downright insidious. The heroic dopamine in our body is at war with its sinister foe, lactic acid. But as luck has it, this too shall pass and better runs are in store for the future. Add running into your long- term goals and you just may find yourself in a better place. Stick with it, and you can truly Go Far.
New York...in your face.
Falling snow matches the strides of thousands of runners working their way around Central Park. Today, there would be no sound as their feet touch the pavement, buffered by the white snow. Despite the mass of people passing by, you can only hear your own thoughts. Something catches my attention. Clearer than day and nowhere to be found, I hear someone whistle Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow. The sound is crystal clear and melodically simple. It spreads and now I hear the runners whistling the same tune. I smile as I move along with no particular plan other than to meander through Central Park on this beautiful morning. As I exit to 59th street. I find myself whistling the same tune. New York City connects people despite their aversion to do so. While everyone here sets their own path, the people are interconnected in more ways than they can imagine. They share the landscape, the sounds, the smells, and the heritage that the city infuses. Today would be a day of treacherous navigation in the Big Apple. Three inch deep puddles would require one to step far off the curb to navigate the city block. I would travel from Central Park to Battery Park wrapped up like a bear as I tried to stay warm. I never visit with much shopping in mind, rather the people are what I am drawn to here. From the gregarious Greek man who hands you your black and white cookie to the homeless man that invariable makes eye contact as you pass bye, there is little you can do to escape the characters you meet. New York likes to get in your face; and for someone that holds a camera most of the time, that’s just fine with me.
Get ready to Go Far, Go Fast!
It comes around once a year; a day this little community can share in the spirit of sport. Go Far Go Fast for 2012 is officially scheduled for Saturday June 16. Call this little video a "save the date invitation." Going into our third race, we're learning more and more each year how to make this great community event something special for your family. Come be part of an experience that will make you proud to live here and proud of your kids. I guarantee lots of smiles. Take a look at last year's recap. In 2011, more than 450 kids from Durham and Middlefield took to the paths of the Durham Fairgrounds to run the event. Sponsors and race volunteers are invited to get involved soon to help make this day a memorable one. In the spirit of this blog, these kids are my favorite everyday miracles and motivate me beyond imagination. You're sure to recognize a happy face or two. Mark your calendars, start training and see what your kids can achieve when they Go Far!
Is it possible to be sharp and blurry at the same time? The picture above proves that yes, an image can tell a story despite the contradicting situation going on simultaneously. This brings to mind my son. He fascinates me as he navigates fifth grade. Anyone who has seen, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, knows that 5th grade isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s deceivingly difficult for unsuspecting kids and even worst on the parents that have forgotten everything they ever learned before 1990. Despite having a daughter who has moved on to upper middle school with success, every new family member that enters fifth grade must endure a boot camp of sorts. He or she must pay the piper after years of blowing off math facts. Reading is suddenly something that seriously needs comprehension. Even more of a shocker; a test can have an atom bomb dropping effect. I’ll never forget when my daughter came home excited upon her first test result of a 60%. I cocked my head waiting for the answer of the dreaded question, “60 out of 60 or 100?” It would take months to sort things out. After my son’s bombed moon phase test, we realized it just may take quite a few moon phases to get it right. However, with child number two, I’m beginning to wise up. Here are some of my parenting red flag moments. When you ask the kid if he has studied for the test and he replies with a quick “yup” followed by an even faster exit from the room …worry. When your child spends more time opening the door of the fridge, peering into the abyss, looking for brain-food rather than studying...worry. If he guarantees you a 100% on his next test with the convincing smile of the Cheshire cat …worry. When he tells you he was the first one finished because the test was sooooo easy…panic. The dichotomy that my child can be as sharp as a tack and fuzzy beyond comprehension all in the same breath has me wondering if I should have drank more V8 while I was pregnant. Just in case, the other day we banished all chocolate frosted sugar bombs from the breakfast menu and replaced them with unprocessed Toasty O’s. I’m counting on the hope that someday this picture will come into focus. For now, we’ll squint and try to see a light at the end of the tunnel despite our bumping into the walls. For a while, some may be smarter than my fifth grader, but I have a hunch that when his day comes, the prize will be his.
I had a childhood friend that wore Dallas Cowboys attire each and everyday of his elementary school years. I never fully understood why. Like the toddler who wears his superman cape, we're all looking for an idol to look up to. That cape or logo represents the person we want to become. When we grow up and realize that being superman is a tall order, our idols become someone we can live through vicariously despite our own reality. Our associations can be really important. As a kid, when I wore my New York Athletic Club windbreaker, I felt like I was part of something big. I was part of a club than grew Olympians like hothouse tomatoes. Worn with pride, that jacket represented who I wanted to become. Skip forward a year or 20 to this past Christmas. In the spirit of being part of something, both boys in the house each received two bicycle jerseys. They would both don their professional team jerseys looking sharp as they emulate their respective heroes. Equally important, I thought it would be good to design something where they could be seen as men paving their own paths. The Go Far jersey was the obvious choice for Peter. He has dedicated more hours than any other child I know, making the program successful. Along the way, he has found personal strength and friendships that help make his world a good place to be. M.E.A.T…I bet your wondering what it means? It’s a bit of a spoof. There is a triathlon team in Hartford called H.E.A.T. ,meaning Hartford Extended Area Triathletes. They are organized and mean business. On a long car ride home from a race, Chris came up with M.E.A.T. We laughed as the Middlefield Extended Area Triathletes was born. On this team, we get no coaching, have no attitude and its members need not live in any specific area to be a member. After all, Middlefield sounds like it could the middle of anywhere. Yes there are misspellings on the jersey, but we’re OK with that. So all you hobbyists, join M.E.A.T. We don’t even mind what sport you like to do. You have a home here with M.E.A.T.
All in balance
Watching the sunset on one side of the sky while seeing the moonrise on the other is somewhat magical. The air was freakishly warm for a January evening. Having no tripod, I knew my shots were limited and for once I cared little about what my camera captured. I found myself sitting on the grass enjoying the slow rise and fall going on around me. Like a tennis match, my head world turn from sun to moon wondering who would win the point. It seemed like the sun and the moon acted as weights on earth’s great balancing scale. Somehow I felt like I was directly in the middle of it, holding the moon in one hand and the sun in the other. I would leave feeling well balanced and at ease as the day transitioned to night. Although we play such a minute roll in this world, sometimes it’s good to feel your worth in the most simple of ways. While holding up the sun and the moon can feel heavy on your arms, it’s pales in comparison to going home and figuring out what to make for dinner. Life is a great balancing act, and luckily, I got through another day without toppling over.
The modern pioneer.
I got roped into watching a Clint Eastwood western last night. The beautiful sweeping western vistas helped take your mind off the fact that someone was getting shot every couple of minutes. After all, the movie needed a plot and why hire Clint Eastwood unless you seriously wanted something to go down. Despite the plot struggles, they were pioneers; makers of their own destinies, exploring the unexplored, all with the grit of sandpaper. Our population was full of people like this, paving the way for future couch potatoes. Over the past weekend, I met two modern day pioneers. These peaceful pioneers effortlessly wield cooking utensils and what they gather from the good earth as a way to forge forward. From what I’m told, the food they prepare is paving the way towards healthier living, fashioned from sustainable energy sources. I met Mark and Ami Shadle on this weekend’s photos hunt. I was hoping once again to capture some insight about the dwellers of the home, simply by exploring the land they live on. In my book, it can be said that one’s character, one’s beliefs and one’s dreams are on display in their home. I felt an immediate kinship with Mark and Ami. Perhaps our mutual affinity for cycling or the fact that their home is as old as our own helped in making the immediate connection. Furthermore, their intense desire to bring their modern pioneering lifestyle to the forefront was nothing short of fascinating. The photos from outside their home would provide a peek-a-boo into their core beliefs. Modern solar panels would cover the roof of the home built back in 1730. I would be lucky enough to get a glimpse into the interior of their home and leave wanting to know more. I would hear about G-Monkey, “The Nation's Very First All Vegetarian/Vegan Mobile Eco- Friendly Kitchen” and of another new restaurant they opened in Branford called G-Zen. Call it pioneering or entrepreneurship, Mark and Ami seem to live life on their own terms. I look forward to seeing and hearing more from them as I know they have so much to share from their experiences.
The wolly bully
When it’s 53 wonderful degrees in January no one should complain about anything. Chris rode 89 miles in shorts; I ran 5 in short sleeves. I smiled throughout the entire run. I grabbed my camera in the late afternoon. Usually at this time of the year, I don the winter snow pants, heavy boots, and wear fleece upon fleece. For all the gear I didn’t seem to need today, I met two that were positively overdressed for the weather were having. The colorful characters are familiar to many of Durham passerby’s. My kid’s never pass by without a long and drawn out “MOOOOOOO”. For the many a smile they provide, they are today’s ordinary miracle. They are big, hairy beautiful miracles that amaze me every time I see them. Today, I was lucky enough to meet these gargantuan bovines up close and personal and say hello. I swear their noses are larger than my head. Still, they were gentle and curious and hardly bashful for the camera. Luckily, these Highland cattle have a wonderful home to graze; one that would make their Scottish cousins envious. Today would be just another day I thank my lucky stars I live where I do. These residents, although a bit hairy bring a uniqueness to town, one that keeps me smiling and the kids mooooing.
Last night's last light.
I sat editing some photos, cozy in my knock-off Uggs and layers of fleece. Out from his room burst my son. “Mom, he calls excitedly. You have 5 minutes until it’s gone”. He is holding my car keys and pulls back the curtain. The sky is blood red. He hands me the keys to the car and helps unplug my camera from the computer. It’s not the sunset that I smile about, but the boy who is so excited for me to capture it. Knowing all to well I may have already missed my photo opportunity, I am feeling proud and content. I only captured three photos before the color was gone. No worries though, the color in my life continues.
Sand trap painted with light.
Just seconds left...and then it was gone.