If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

December. The end.

Is it possible another year is nearly done and gone? December started with a bang - Myo Massage split therapists into tiers, gave everybody a raise, and I happened to move into the top paying rank. That was super-sweet. And made this extra-busy hours-worked month so much more worth the effort (besides, it feels good to be appreciated).

On the same day my bestie Ronda got into Hardrock 100 via lottery. Well, she also got into Western States 100, but that is not what made my day thrilling. What did was that I will be on her crew for HR100!! My fav race, awesome San Juans, and we'll be Colorado residents by then, so pretty local and sweetly close by (and not working for me during that first summer while settling in). Great way to re-connect with ultrarunning community and race scene! And help the gal who will shoot for the moon and train like a mad woman!

I dove into 4-days-a-week Power yoga practice because I bought introductory month at Wanderlust yoga at Domain for "pennies", and I never miss an opportunity to make it count even more. This, too, was good for the soul - though did make the days so much busier.

In the first week of the month my best friends' (sister, really, who adopted me some 13 years ago in Portland) Monika's daughter Marina came to Austin and stayed with us. She came for a yoga training for women's health at UT, and we found enough time to talk, hang out, and talk more. She is a sweet 23 year old who's got a good head on her shoulders, yet of course will make plenty of mistakes as life goes on. We all do. That's ok.
 With days being filled by things I absolutely HAD to do, the desire to read serious literature never came back, and the Big Book was still sitting at Chapter 5. However, I discovered a knitter who was also a writer - and a hilarious at that - and picked at the library basically all she's ever had in print (she also writes a blog, yarnharlot.com). I was swallowing her words and sharing pretty much every emotion she's described as a knitting human.
As far as knitting goes, the ONLY good thing (like, quality) I knit were a pair of high socks - but a very delicious one. Not to mention, that sister of mine Monika send me a gift with Marina of Sock Knitting Bible - right on time, as I was "turning the heel", and I learned a new technique of reinforcing the heel and make it go smoother. Thanks! The yarn came from previous attempts to use green bison/silk/cashmere. No matter what I tried, I am not a "green" person, and I had to come up with something subdued, hence the socks - and I long wanted to make luxurious knee-high socks, just because. So there. I like them.
Near-knitting was also a "thank you" card from my friend and Running Veteran's Camp Liza with kind words from all who received my donation of 30 hats on Veteran's day. Warmed my heart.
And only by the end of the month did I get at least part of my knitting mojo back. I sorted through my tiny bin of yarn, flipped through the pages of few printed patterns and a few magazines, dug out my baby llama yarn...and bingo. The idea was born.
One Sunday mid-month I happened to have a cancelled client in the middle of the morning, and Larry drove to have lunch with me. After that, still having time left, I walked to a friend and former co-worker at UT Sabine's house and visited - we haven't seen each other in way over a year! It was a great idea to catch up, so all turned out awesome. That very day Larry also took me out for a Yarn Festival at Hill Country Weavers down-south Austin, and I scored a couple hanks of rare sheep yarn.
It meant a lot to me, that day did, because it was December 9th, the day I gave birth to my boys, one - 23 years ago, and one - all of 28. I will forever feel blessed to have them as my children, no matter the trials. I just wished I could be near them...then and ever...

Days and weeks continued to roll, and so did my exercise routine, runs, gym, and all. Before we knew it, Christmas was right at the doorsteps. As it goes, we packed the car, picked up Harrison, and drove to Oklahoma, to spend this precious time with Larry's family. It was nice to be surrounded by people who matter - and meet our new little niece Stella. A real Family Christmas. I ran daily, walked daily, and allowed myself to consume gobs of rich foods. That's what this holiday is famous for - and, of course, the Birth of Christ. The real reason we get together on this day...

A quick turn-around in the car between Oklahoma and Texas, we were off to Colorado for a New Year - a place where the weather gave us exactly what winter is supposed to be. It was an amazing few days, feeling to chill, enjoiyng the views, and dreaming large.

Its been a year I tried to keep this blog going, despite complete death of comments' section, and a general readership. Sometimes I was "forcing" visits to this page by sharing it on my Facebook page, the links to my Colorado trail also got some traffic...but overall, I wonder if I should continue at all. I stuck with it long enough. It is sad to let it go, as this whole era of short FB and Instagram sentences never caught up with me - even though I do participate. I have so much more to say than a phrase or two which mean nothing...and nobody keeps up a conversation even there. Where do people talk these days? What am I missing? And whom am I kidding, my own husband doesn't read my blog, and rarely "likes" posts on FB...which, again lead me to deactivate my FB account on January 1st. I need a break. I need some focus on a real life.

I am looking forward next year, The Year of Big Changes. It is scary and exciting and promising and so much more. Life. I am good with it. In fact, more than that, I am waiting for it with thrill and trepidation. Lets ring in the year 2019 where the home will be...

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November. Thankful.

I am going to try and catch up on life here, but with increased hours of work, and two travels this month, I am simply uninspired to write. What I was inspired for, though, is to write in my dairy every morning a note of thanks - in fact, a whole page of thanks. I joined in some group for this "challenge", which was not a challenge at all - turns out, there is SO MUCH to be thankful for in my life. I never looked at the groups' "chat" for support - I opened my journal every morning, before I even open computer, or have a sip of coffee (which was sitting next to me, steaming) - and wrote. If anything, it was more difficult what to pick to start with!

But still, the rest of the month, besides those travels, work occupied both Larry and I's time and mind, at times overwhelming. It wasn't bad, though, I wasn't grouchy for that - 7 days a week, and more hours daily - it was as one of those saying: "If there is a Why, there is a How". It had to be done - and will have to be done for the following 6 months as well - and I just kept on doing it.

The knitting time (and knitting creative inspiration) was on all time low for that matter. I whipped a sweater over one weekend for my friend Pam from the yarn she got from her friend who owns Alpaca farm (she spins herself, too). I grinded that thing non-stop! There was a self-imposed deadline looming. I then returned to my lazy work-in-progress of re-making a bison/silk top from Taos yarn (circa 2010), adding reclaimed cashmere - I finished it, and, believe it or not, ripped it apart a mere week later (without wearing it outside even once) - I was not satisfied with the use of this yarn - and this color. I do have an idea for it now, so lets see if that works.
Reading took a seat even further back. As in - the Big Book "12 rules for life" I was half-way through and enjoying, was shut down and stored away. I picked up from the library a book written by a knitter "Yarn Harlot" - and did love it (so resonating with my thoughts!) - I read most of it during first trip, and finished on the second. Here is an example of "our" thinking.
So, the trips. I had a super-quick one to Portland mid-month, see my boys and Monika's family. As always, a mixed bag of emotions, but so glad I was there, also as always, and plan on keep on going. For both of those reasons, combined. It begs to say that in my 9 years, 3-times-a-year visits, rainy Oregon only rained on my total of 3 days (not 3 trips). This time, despite pretty chilly temps, it as partially sunny, yet again, and no wet stuff! Thankful for that, for sure.

Speaking of cool, Austin, too FINALLY got their "coldish season"! We went from sweating buckets half-naked on the run on October 31st, to windbreaker following week. Lovely!
Myo Massage is continuing final stages on remodeling the new space - we expanded and now using the rooms in the new wing. A little confusion, but it's coming together. The website is up and running with updates! See examples of my "modeling" career here and here, and my bio here :) They also added a bunch of classes on top of "normal" massage services. I wonder how it'll go for the business and wish them well. It's exciting to be in the midst of a local business growing, 11 years and expanding. My side is intact and thriving, so that part is good.

Somehow I kept plugging along with all my runs, and even squeezed gym workouts and yoga studio classes on top of each other on those travel weeks. Come December - I will be checking out a new Baptiste-driven Power yoga studio Wanderlust, which I joined at the discounted rate for intro month - which means, of course, yoga 4 days a week. And no, I will not drop the rest of my obligations:)

The second trip was during Thanksgiving week, to the place we will call home-town soon enough. We got to spend full 3 days hanging out in Colorado Springs, visiting local trails, coffee shop, friend's party, and simply breathing cold dry high altitude air. Whirlpool of a drive, but so worth it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Time has been running like crazy this month, and for the most part I won't be diving into details. But it is my favorite month, always has been - after all, it's my birthday! Not to mention, (in normal climates), it's time when the day gets shorter, the air - crisper, the leaves turn all kind of bright colors, and it feels like a turn into something is up ahead. Larry and I both LOVE Autumn the most.

This October around I entered the last year of my 5th decade (for those of you who can't count, I turned 49). I didn't do anything special - besides that I didn't work that day. I sat at home in my chair, taking Continuing Education classes online for my upkeep of massage licensing, reading book, and, of course, knitting. Just like last year, I made an experiment of getting off social media (reminding folks, "friends?" about my birthday), and saw the number of said friends plunging down...that was so incredibly sad. I know, we all get attached to our gadgets, and probably don't remember our own phone numbers...but common, guys! I remember birthdays of ALL the people who are my relatives AND those I consider friends - whether still, or in the past. I mean, ALL! In my head (not to mention I have them in a normal calendar, not on the phone, not on FB, not Google account...paper style). I had come to conclusion I am far less important to a number of people than they are to me - and then realize that this, too, is ok, just life. There are a couple of wisdom sayings come to mind: "With age we don't lose friends, we just find who the real ones are", and "Some people come for a reason, some for a season, some for life". I intend to surround myself with the "for life", and that takes exactly this: weeding out by time and circumstances. The important part was - the closest to my heart did reach out. AND both of my kids! Knowing what some do, that in itself was a huge testament. And a gift.

In the evening, Larry and I made a walk to a restaurant, where, while very delicious seafood it was, we've decided it was enough of that kind - way too rich in butter and salt for our boring taste buds.

A couple days later we went to the movies - again! a record for me this year! - and watched yet another documentary-produced rock-climbing great by Jimmy Chang, Free Solo with Alex Honnold. What a crazy dude he is...

The weekend of that week we had our annual backyard party for "old souls", the "used-to-be's",  friends we all used to train and run races together with. We are very blessed that everyone I ever put on the list asking to come - shows up. Everyone! So fortunate I feel that day to have people who care enough to grace us with their presence, amazing conversations, and lots of hugs and laughter.

We had lots and lots of rain here this month - LOTS! I am proud to report I never missed a run. And even picked a few mushrooms along the road - because, you know, I don't venture on trails these days due to time constrains. What a find! A few of those days the temperature dropped enough to show me Fall might be coming. Though it's gone, again, now. But there's hope...
There is nothing worthy to show for the knitting - I was busy making a good amount of hats for our local Running store per order, which I completed and delivered. And a few hats and shawls for gifts and another order. Basically, nothing personal and/or inspirational.

It's been a whirlpool for some one or other reasons, topped off with extra things happening at my work place. It's been expanding and doing reno, and my management will be adding new services - not only new treatments, but continuing education classes, yoga, functional movement...and they also wanted to promote what we already do. That meant they had gone professional - there were photo-shoots! I chose not to promote myself as a therapist - first of all, I am swamped with clients over the head as is, and secondly, I'll be moving away in 7 months, seems like an unnecessary burden for me and camera people. But I did participate as a "client body" in a number of techniques and styles - which required commutes (in morning rush) to the place a few extra times and spending an hour each time going "Hollywood". Once they do the website update (next month, maybe?), I'll put up a link. I am really curious how I looked, ya know, actress-ing it out:)

I also added a number of hours to my work week. Technically speaking, I extended practically every day by an hour or two (sometimes straight out, in one day - splitting it into 2 shifts, which does add extra travel), plus put 2 hours on my "day off" - meaning there are no more days off for me for some time ahead. That was a thought-out decision I plan on handling.

I am also taking yoga classes twice a week consistently - go me! Still log my food and stay at the same number on the scale. And so far able to keep up with all the gym visits and house chores. Less time at home, but more productivity in life.

That'd be it for the recap. And yes, we're still dreaming of these views becoming our "backyard" very soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Another crazy Texas summer month is behind. Gosh, it never ends! I did my best to keep my running gear, though there was a week (3rd of the month) when I feared it's about to revert backwards, again. But I held on, sub-10 or few seconds over, and did my 5 runs a week for a 30-plus miles steady. That, and my 3-a-week gym workouts. By the end of August the In-Body machine told me I gained 3 lbs of fat and 0.5 lbs of muscle - what was fine, after all, I can't expect to be emaciated as I was for the last 2 months of insane (by my new standards) training, especially at the top of heat and humidity (I am not even talking about what was left of me after the through-hike). September challenged me to stay there - I fought mighty, it is a hard battle. Something is triggering the fatigue, again. By the last week of the month, I took even harder look on the calorie intake (I never stopped logging) and resolved to get a grip. I really like my new pants. Call me vain. I also really, really want to get into "training shape" - so that by the time we move to CO, I can start adding real workouts and sign up for races, from shorter building up to what feels approved by my body. For now, the most important thing on my physical radar - to keep that "running gear". 8 months (well, minus July when I hiked then recovered) - is the longest stretch since 2013, most consistent, and I grasp at it with all I got. In the words of the latest World Marathon record holder Eliut Kipchoge:"Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions." It worked, proving once again such popular wisdom as "Body is made in the kitchen" and "You can't outrun your diet". To paraphrase, the numbers on the scale and the clothes' fit are direct correlation to what and how much is on my plate. In-Body machine showed at the end of September a 0.5 lb gain in muscle, and a steady fat content (which dropped overall fat percentage, in case anyone keeps track, barely sub-12%). I can definitely live with these numbers.

The month began by seeing our friends Janice and Gabe - at a new Eastern European diner. The food was so-so, but the company made up for it. 
I also celebrated 25 years - quarter of the century - since I came to USA. It’s official, I have lived on US land longer than on the Land of a Firebird, one that gave me birth and shaped me up as a human. It is both sad and exhilarating. I miss the simple hardships of daily life that is Russia yet grateful for the opportunities living in America afforded me – things to try and do and experience…and life here was anything but easy. Sometimes I wish I had those "Russian daily" difficulties vs what transpired here, not to mention the ease of regular, routine life (boring! where is the fight?), but really, it's what is, that life thing. I can't compare where I like "better", it's a silly question. It's not like I lived SAME periods of my life in each country in parallel. In Russia (of Soviet period, to add) I was young, vibrant, whole life ahead, but I was also stupid (read: young) and didn't look at many things in any way, with no eyes at all. I was just surviving, and I didn't know any other way. In US I matured, got some hard earned wisdom with years and mistakes and cumulative experiences - yet I also am not looking like a thrilled puppy who expects miracles. I calmed down. I made choices. I lived - and doing my best continuing doing so, may be, hopefully, with fewer mistakes.
A couple of days later we crossed the point of being married for 9 full years. Every romantic photo of the two of us is in the nature’s setting, from the meeting day, to the wedding day, to any day of our lives. While it represents exactly who we are, what we love, and what united us in the first place, one day, I hope, we get to wear proper clothes and celebrate our union with friends and family. Dress, suite, and the whole nine yards! I already made a list of who I'd like to be around us, on a sunny early morning (our favorite time of the day) in mid-September of 2019... For now, I really enjoyed digging through archives for the sappy pictures. Here is to making it to start our #10 together as a husband and wife, a year ahead with many wonderful changes.
We had a couple of fun dates, changing from just afternoon coffee (though I still had a cup of Joe). We even ordered a dessert for our wedding anniversary - something neither one of us remembered last time we had done! We paid for it, though, with restless night...getting older and not accustomed. While we went out for dinner a night prior the wedding date, on the 19th we went to a movie theater (my annual trip, I am really not into going to movies). As usual for my seldom appearance at the theater, it was a rare one-day showing of an amazing athletic/endurance stunt. This year it was The Dawn Wall. Absolutely breath taking!

Towards the end of the month we went out with our other good friends, Karyn and Scott - to Pappadeaux Cajun place (conveniently located next to our house, very overprices, but oh, so good). They take the prize for cooking seafood, hands down. Amazing! The company was great, and Karyn got her birthday gift, for which she was so thankful, it made me (and her) tear up. Wish all my friends and relatives had the same reaction, would have made my passion for knitting and gifting so well worth all the efforts:)

On the knitting front I combed through my random 1-skein purchases while flipping pages of the Japanese Stitch Bible and came up with a few cute gifts for my friends' upcoming birthdays. One more of that 1-skein left to make a shawl for my sister - and hopefully I am in a cool-of period.

I also got a couple bigger projects: one finished in the first days of the month, a super-lacy (from same Japanese Bible book) top and using the yarn we got last October in the middle of TX (Nacogdoches). I love how it came out, though considering gifting it as well to someone special.
The second was a long project, took all of September 2018 (on top of all the smaller knits). Not for the difficulty, but for the sheer volume of knitting that has to be done with this fingering weight yarn of 80% merino/20% cashmere. The yarn (first 2 skeins) was a gift from my beautiful friend Amy Coffey during my March visit to Sedona (the extra skein was ordered online at Fabulous yarn). The neck work was done in August as a try-my-hands at Fair Isle knitting, using previously bought in Portland and used in a different knit Alpaca/Cash/Silk/Camel yarn (I call it my Camel yarn). It set as an unfinished neck piece for a while, until I realized I have a matching yarn color, and the idea (inspired by a few pictures) was born! This poncho, aptly named "Amy's Love", is ready for the move to Colorado!
In the spare-change TV time - hat season is underway! Since I found a different company to make my labels (no blue bear, but still a personal touch), and Pam agreed to host my hand-knitted hats in her trail running store, I now have something to occupy my hands with when the mind needs to be free. The first batch of beanies is done!

In the reads post-hike months.
I've been working same hours, but my body feels like I doubled my shifts. I am not sure whether it's the post-effect of the hike exertion, that fatigue is making a come-back, or, it's just this heat and humidity, ever-lasting, never-ending, are soul-breaking.  Every September drives me into some semi-depression in terms of the weather. In March, when temperatures rise and first signs of summer appear, you cringe. In April you're upset, but still full of strength. In May you wallow through and even pride yourself for being "acclimated". In June you suck it up, awaiting for July, and mountains, and fresh cool air at high altitude, dry, high sky...August rolls with the highest of both H&H, but you're trying to hold on to memories of your July respite, and pretending to look forward to September...but the REAL September, the one your body remembers for your whole life (besides the last 9 years) - never comes. And you break down. Nothing happens. We expect "cold front" and 85F. It's a joke. We're still "swimming" on the runs. The air hits you when you open a garage door, smacking the hell into you. I told my mother, when she whined that Moscow is done with Indian Summer and is full-on with Fall - "I'd sell my soul to devil to feel that right about now". But the end is near. That was our last summer in Texas, so help us God. This month we squared out all our finances in preparation for that perfect little dream house in an amazing dream place. 

Motivation is a powerful tool. Every failure, every painful moment, drives us harder. Sometimes it is to thrive. Mostly, it is just to survive, in all kinds of meaning of it.  The only way you can get from where you are to where you want to be is find the motivation deep inside your soul. Ancestry DNA let me know I am 98% Russian. You can’t take THAT out of me.

Found these words by Alex Honnold (dang, he's got a new movie Free Solo that is NOT showing in Austin!!): "I think I define success as just being able to do the things I want to when I want to. Being able to fund the lifestyle. There’s no number that makes that possible. A lot of it has to do with how happy I am with what I’m doing."

p.s. End of September brought a promise of a "cold front". After 24 hrs of tropical rain, we expected cooler temps - high 60's in the morning and mid-80's during the day. It wasn't all it was hyped up to be - definitely still no tank top for the runs, but one day it "dropped" to 64F.  This was enough of a cool-off during my dark morning run that I dreamed about routes in Colorado Springs, both on the city's streets and on local trails, as well as various races that will be at our disposal, all distances and surfaces (images courtesy of Larry digging out numerous YouTube videos). Yeah, I could live with that...:)