Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Running...or not

So, I've decided to start running. I feel that this decision has been a long time coming. I've tried to run on and off for years but I want to make a real attempt at making this a lifestyle. Feel free to nag me in the next few months about whether I am going through with this or not.

I've been thinking about this for a while. Apparently my brother has been running half marathons in Iraq. If they run it at the same time as a U.S. marathon, like the famed Boston marathon, they can send in their times and get a free t-shirt. I figure if my brother can run in Iraq, I should be able to get off my lazy butt and run here in the U.S. I actually like working out and doing athletic activities but my gym access is limited and there aren't too many adult sports leagues for me to join with my traveling. I like riding my bike but the Maui winds are killer. Running seems like a good option. You can pretty much do it anywhere and all you need are some shoes. I went to the local sporting goods store to find some but I kept getting swayed by appearance and couldn't figure out which ones to get. I decided to go to this specialty running store where their employees are fit experts and really seem to know what they are talking about.

My consultant was named Frankie. He asked me how much running I do. I said, "It's more like how much running do I want to start doing." I told him I wouldn't be doing more than 10 miles. This is a safe bet since I have never run farther than a 5K in my life. Frankie, the running shoe expert, had me put my foot on this special floor that showed the shape of my foot. Then he had me walk down a little corridor in the middle of the store and then run down it while he watched me. A little weird, but I did it. He said my feet curve in when I run so I need a shoe with support on the inside. He had me put on different shoes and run so he could see how they fit. Again, I felt a bit awkward especially when people would inadvertantly cross into the path of my mini-run.

I ended up finding some shoes that felt like I wasn't wearing shoes. This is a good thing. I always wish someone else could feel what my feet are feeling in shoes and tell me if they fit. I don't necessarily trust myself. Apparently these shoes with extra support will stabilize my feet so running will feel better. They aren't too bad looking and while expensive, they weren't the most expensive ones in the place. There's something about having them tell you which ones are right for you that makes it feel worth the extra money. I also liked how Frankie unlaced each trial pair, put them on my feet and laced them back up. They don't do that for you at the local Academy or Sports Authority and their employees would probably think you are a freak if you asked them to.

I asked the cashier as I was checking out if they could call me a couple times a week to see if I was actually running. She said they didn't provide that service right now but that it was a good idea. I am hoping the cost of the shoes and the fact that they're supposed to be the best ones for me will help motivate/guilt me into sticking with running.

The day after I bought the magic running shoes, I figured I'd better go for a run. I tend to try to go too far, too fast, too soon. This run was no different. I walked to a nearby greenbelt to run the 5K loop there. I ran a few blocks and felt like my lungs were going to explode. I hadn't factored in the cooler temperatures here and my recent lack of physical activity. I figured I was being too ambitious and decided to run a block, walk a block. I'd like to say I was doing intervals but it was really just me being lazy. I think I walked more than ran though I definitely didn't exert myself to the max. I could have run more. The outside of my knee started hurting about halfway through my intervals. I think I might not have the best running form and may be putting undue pressure on that part of my knee. Despite this knee pain, I do want to keep running. I will try again tomorrow to see if stretching before helps.

One of my friends told me she ran for years and hated it but recently started to really like it. This is coming from someone who even ran a marathon. I am hoping she's right. I want to stick with it and give it a chance even if I hate it. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, December 25, 2009

This Christmas

Today was Christmas. It was a pretty good Christmas overall, though it would have been improved by having my brother in the United States and not in Iraq. We did get to talk to him on the web-cam, which was an awesome blessing. I got to joke around with him a bit. I miss our witty banter. I can't wait to see him when he comes home for two weeks in January!

I had Christmas morning with my just me and my parents. It was definitely not as much fun as when Andrew was there. I did get good presents, no duds. My best gift was a Kindle from my parents. For those of you not as techie or nerdy as me, a Kindle is an electronic book. It is designed to be as close to a book as possible. I've already downloaded some books and started reading. It's perfect for overseas because it can hold up to 1000 books. I am excited to take it on my next trip.

My grandparents came over later, along with my aunt and uncle and cousin. We cooked all morning. I got to practice the potato peeling skills I acquired by working in the kitchen the last 3 months. We had three types of potatoes since my family loves them so much. We ate until we couldn't eat anymore. After the dishes were done, we opened presents. I only got two presents from my relatives, which were both pretty decent. There have been a lot of awkward ones in the past so this was a relief. The rest of my gifts were money, which is always welcome.

After presents, my cousin, Roy and I went to the movies. The first theater we tried was absolute chaos; full parking lot, people everywhere and all the good movies were sold out. We went to a little art house theater instead and saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen but worth watching.

So all in all, a good day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy to be Home

I love Maui but I am happy to be back in Houston. Maui is an awesome place that hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each year. Houston doesn't receive the same acclaim. I mean, who would come to Houston on vacation? And yet, I love this place and I have missed it very much in these last three months. Because of this, I have decided to create a "Top Ten Things I Love About Houston" list in no particular order.

1. Bike Riding- In Houston, many people ride bikes. From kids with training wheels to grandmas on cruisers to spandex-clad athletes with clip-in pedals; there are tons of bikers on the streets at any given time. There is a big bike ride every year that goes for 150 miles from Houston to Austin. Many people participate in it, including me and train for it throughout the year. Because of this, there are organized training rides almost every weekend within about 30 miles of Houston. I love organized rides because I can ride a lot farther and a lot longer with other people around me. They also feed you all along the way and I love to eat for fuel. In Maui,I have only found 3 organized rides for the whole year and one is "Cycle to the Sun" where you ride uphill about 25 miles to the top of Haleakala, Maui's dormant volcano. No thank you. In Maui, there are some people who bike but you have to be pretty hardcore to go very far. This is because of the crazy wind that draws the world-class windsurfers. At certain times of day and in certain directions, it's almost impossible to keep your pedals moving against the wind. The first time I tried to pedal against the wind, I gave up and got a hitch home in the back of a pick-up truck.

2. Clean Houses- Houses in Houston tend to be cleaner than in Maui. They also all have air conditioning (partially because you would die in the summers without it.) In Maui, the air conditioning comes in the form of open windows. For much of the year, the wind mentioned above provides more than enough relief from the heat. There are certain times when the wind doesn't cut it though and you feel like you are actually being baked inside your home. Because of the abundance of open windows and wind, there is a fine red dirt that settles all over everything in a house. The houses in Maui also tend to be a bit more run down (not all of them but most of the ones I frequent). In Houston you are not likely to see someone passively living with termites and a hole in the floor. In Maui, this isn't too uncommon.

3. Shopping- Since Houston has over 2 million people, there is also an abundance of stores for all those people to shop at. We have all the chain stores as well as some fun local shops. You can find almost anything you could possibly want. This is not the case in Maui. For starters there is no Target. I know that sounds like a bad dream, but it's true. The only Target substitutes are Wal-Mart and the Big K. Neither of which even comes close to Target. In Houston, I personally know the locations of at least 8 different Targets. In Maui there is no Bed, Bath and Beyond, Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, Marshalls, Best Buy, etc. Most stuff has to be ordered off the internet and there is often an extra charge to ship to Hawaii.

4. Friends- I have plenty of friends in Maui but they tend to come and go. In the couple months before I came back to Maui this time, a bunch of my favorite people left. Bad timing! Then, several people left right after I got there. I tried not to take it personal. I only have one friend in Maui who owns a house. Everyone else is prone to coming and going so it's hard to count on any of them being there when I am. In Houston, several of my friends own homes and have good jobs here. They plan on staying here indefinitely. This is really nice and makes my group of friends in Houston feel a bit more solid.

5. Texas Pride- I have missed this a lot. Hawaiians have a lot of pride, which I respect. Being an outsider, though means that some of that pride is negatively directed at me. They have bumper stickers that say "We grew here. You flew here." And the thing is that they are right. There also stickers that say 100% Hawaiian. Now I can never become a true Hawaiian but I am a true Texan. Maybe I could make some "I arrived here. You drive here." bumper stickers. I really don't have to though since Texans already have a lot of pride. There are even bumper stickers that say, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could." There are Texas flags flying everywhere and many businesses incorporate Texas into their company name or logo. And of course, everyone knows that Texas is bigger than France.

6. Mexican People and Black People- I don't know if this is racist since I like these groups. Oh well, I do miss them. In Hawaii, there are very few Mexican or black people. There are plenty of Asians, though. I've always enjoyed black people since I was a little kid. We had a housekeeper/babysitter who watched me and my brother on Saturdays when we were kids. Her name was Betty and she was so loving. I adored her and I think it instilled in me a lifelong love for black people. I also enjoy Mexican people. The school I worked at was predominately Hispanic and I got used to hearing Spanish all the time. I also think Mexican is my favorite genre of food. In Texas there is a Mexican food restaurant on almost every corner. This is not the case in Maui.

7. Driving- In Maui there are no freeways and the highest speed limit you will find is 55mph. I also don't always have a car in Maui. In Texas, you really can't survive without a car and there are plenty of wide freeways with 70mph speed limits to satisfy one's need for speed. I also really like road trips. There are plenty you can take from Texas. I used to go to Louisiana almost every weekend. In Maui, it's a lot like being in a small town you can't leave since it is surrounded by ocean. Sometimes I get that island fever and just want to get off the island.

8. Family- Most of my family lives in Texas so I get to see them a lot more when I am here. When I am not in Texas, I miss shopping with my mom, biking with my dad, playing with my nephew, laughing with my brother and hanging out with my sister-in-law. There's definitely something special about being near those people who love you no matter what.

9. TV and Cable- In Maui, I don't usually get to have a TV. I'm not addicted to TV but I definitely enjoy it. Cable is especially fun since I can watch 5 college football games on one Saturday. It's nice just to veg in front of the TV for a while or get together with friends to make fun of reality TV. It's easy to get out of the loop with no news or movie previews to watch.

10. Nightlife- In Maui, pretty much all the fun to be had happens during daylight hours. There are incredible beaches to lay out on, clear blue water to snorkel in and tropical trails to hike on. But at night, everything pretty much shuts down. Very few places are open after nine, let alone after midnight. The typical night is spent hanging out and watching movies at someone's house. In Houston there is plenty to do at night. I like to go bowling, play trivia at a local bar, go to a concert, go to a sporting event, etc. There are a lot of choices.

It may have sounded like I was dogging Maui in this post. I truly love Maui and the work I do there. However, Houston is my home and I will always love it (lack of natural beauty and all.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Hawaiian Holidays

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...or not. In Hawaii, there is no drastic weather change. It's pretty much warm year round. But as common during the holiday season, the waves have gotten bigger. The talk all over the island is of "Jaws" the giant wave that only breaks a few times a year. It's one of the biggest waves in the world and it breaks right by our YWAM base.

There are some signs of Christmas even here in the tropics. The other day I stumbled onto a Christmas hula. I mean, how often do you see that? It was in front of a coffee shop and it seemed like a dance recital but all the dances were island-style. They had lots of different costumes, most of which exposed their midriffs. The kids ranged in age from about 4 to 18. It was mostly girls but there was a ridiculously cute little boy who did a boy hula. I almost kidnapped him; he was THAT cute! He did a dance with two 12-15 year old obese boys which made him look even cuter and smaller. He had some good moves and could gyrate his body better than I could ever hope to. All the songs were Hawaiian Christmas songs with ukulele accompaniment. We were only going to stay a few minutes but were soon entranced.

I also went to a Christmas party at the Mormon church. We've been meeting with some Mormons to learn about their beliefs. It gets a bit taxing at times since they act like robots when talking about matters of faith. I enjoy our small talk with them much more. The Christmas party was more of a social event so they seemed more relaxed and less robotic. The food was good and the people were very nice. They had a white elephant gift party and the missionaries let my friend, Max and I take their turns picking gifts. I got a book by Glenn Beck, who I'd been talking about only minutes earlier. Pretty cool! They even had Santa come and about 20 kids quickly lined up for a turn in the old guy's lap. Unfortunately our ride had to leave before I got a chance to sit on his lap. Darn!

So, there is a bit of holiday spirit here but I am anxious to get back to the mainland where it really feels like Christmas. I am excited to see my family and friends.
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