Posted by Linda on Apr 28, 2011 in family
, Linda's posts
Each year since 2008, I struggle to come up with a birthday gift for my Colin that will wow him. Actually, I can’t get up the mustard to even try to think of what might do it because, you see I have already done it. Yep, in 2007 I was alone at an auction and bought Colin a motorcycle rental. The story has more twists and turns, but the important thing is that now he has the gift that makes him very happy. After years, it still brings joy. This is the gift that keeps on giving. We plot rides and pray for good weather during the nice warmer months of the year. We even have a map in our dining room to document where we have been.
This is Ms. Joy, Gift, Delight, Reward, and Blow Off Steam, Colin’s Harley Davidson V-Rod . We take to the road once a week to ride the back roads, and once a month we have a week-end get away. This gift has been neatly woven into our life. Now we are embarking on our third season. You will be seeing more of our adventures here. I’ll bet you can guess where this year’s season full ride began: the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, WA. Stay tuned for more of Washington’s backroads.
I had just put my googles and cap on, double checking everything before I headed to the warm-up pool. I was going to wish my friend luck in her 1,000 freestyle race, the same one I would be doing, when around the corner my coach Robin came walking fast with purpose.
She said, “Linda follow me.” So I did.
She continued talking in her calm direct coach voice, “You are going to join a relay in progress. One of the swimmers didn’t show. If we can get you there in time you will save them from being DQ’ed. We are in lane 2. You will swim 50 free…” As she finished her directions we wove through people standing on deck, walking as fast as possible. When I arrived the swimmer I would follow was probably 10 seconds out, heading straight in. I jumped onto the starting block.
No time to think or fear: I was in and swimming. This was my favorite moment from the swim meet. I was my coach’s dream come true. She needed a 55+ female with her googles and cap on, and there I was.
Have you ever been at the right place at the right time? When was it?
Posted by Tegan on Apr 19, 2011 in Tegan's posts
Talk about empowering! Having a gorgeous card like this (all our author info is on the flip side) is the shy girl’s real best strategy. Now I feel ready to go out and meet the world. Thank you, Courtney!
My husband is running a big race on Monday. It’s his third marathon, and I’m very, very proud of him. I respect his hard work, determination, and athletic prowess. So many wet, dark mornings he has gotten up for long, hard runs, often while I’m still prying myself out of bed. Training for a marathon is not easy. But living with a marathoner isn’t always easy, either.
Linda and I started working on One Brave Thing a Day around the same time Jordan started training for his first marathon. Beginning my own project that demands time and stamina helped me understand my husband’s dedication to his new pursuit. It also prevented marathon-spousal jealousy. When he goes on three hour runs, I sit down for three hour writing sessions.
Balancing schedules was very helpful, but balancing energy levels is important, too. Here’s my little secret: when my marathoner is off running grueling hills or sprinting around the track again and again, I let myself get tired out. In between mad dashes at the keyboard, I zip upstairs to grab armfuls of laundry, then carefully trot down two flights of stairs to put all those workout clothes in the wash. My desk chair is a balance ball, so I bounce while I type. If I get stalled creatively, I do 16 sit-ups or 8 leg lifts on each side or 20 jumping jacks– some quick activity that will get my blood moving, get the words flowing, and maybe make a little sore, too, so when Jordan comes home and has to work through the lactic acid, I can relate. (Even if my lifestyle isn’t as active as his, my imagination is very active!)
From my observations, training for a marathon is hard, satisfying, and fun. Kind of like supporting a marathoner, but with a lot more blisters and sweat.
Jordan, I’m so proud and excited to wait at the finish line for you! I’m cheering for you all the way.
Do you have someone you’re cheering on?
Yes, I signed up. There was some peer pressure involved. It’s too early in the game to say I will or won’t do it again. It’s all part of a plan, I can tell you that much. The plan is for me to have a successful swim at the Alcatraz Sharkfest 2011. To get there, I started swimming with a masters swim team this winter, and masters swim teams have meets. My coach asked me to be in the once a year, Pacific Northwest Assocation Championships, swim meet. My friend was already doing it. Now you see the problem: I signed up one morning.
The meet was all I could have hoped for except for fast results. I’m not a fast swimmer– yet. Terrified in the first race, I died at the end of the second race, found my stride in the third race, won a first place in a relay (seniors 55+) for just showing up, pinch hit for a relay in progress, and slid in as swimmer#4 to save our team from being DQ’ed – my favorite moment. (That story will have its own post soon.) Then I wrapped up my meet experience with a 1000 yard swim with 39 flip turns. Saying yes got me six races, two ribbons, and a medal.
Alcatraz is my goal. I did the swim meet as part of the team that is helping me train for that goal. Because I am older, there are fewer swimmers competing in my age group, so even though I am slow I could still rack up some points for the team. Just because I was there, I was part of gaining 48 points- individual and relay points- for our team. Wild.
I’m amazed at the power and fun of yes. What have you said yes to lately?
Cooking for others can take courage. Our group of wise women gets together once a month for book critique and friendship over dinner. When we started meeting, Linda hosted and cooked dinner, and the rest of us took took rotations making dessert. Then a snafu with the rice cooker prompted us to take turns channeling our inner chefs. We call it One Brave Soup a Month. So far every soup has been unique, delicious, flavorful, and filling. I think there’s a metaphor there somewhere…
Now I’ve teased you long enough. Please enjoy Wise Woman Beth’s delicious soup! It goes perfectly with oven-baked rolls and great friends.
Beth’s Sausage, Lentil & Kale Soup
2 tsp olive oil
8 ounces Sweet Italian Sausage (casings removed if present)
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1/2 cup dried lentils
6 cups chicken broth, (either low-sodium or reg; adjust salt if needed)
1 bunch, (about 1/2 pound kale, Tuscan preferably – also known as Dinosaur kale), stems removed, torn into bite size pieces
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
In heavy pot, heat oil over med-high heat. Add sausage, breaking up meat during cooking, until golden brown, about five minutes. Add celery and onion, cooking another five min or so til softened a bit. Add lentils, broth and 1/2 cup water; bring to boil. Reduce to rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Add kale, and season with salt. Return soup to simmer, for about 5 more minutes, until kale wilts. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar.
The vinegar at the end is really what brings the soup its flavor! Enjoy!
Just the other day I was so pleased with myself for learning a new difficult skill, an Olympic quality flip turn. I was looking forward to swim work-out just to go practice. I even met my friend for an extra session at the wall. I would say I was getting fairly confident in my new skill.
Then new information came into my brain via the coach. That upset the apple cart. I started over-thinking it and everything went sideways. My new friend the sleek fast flip turn disappeared and a much clumsier version showed up in its place.
The more I thought about it, the worse it got. The more I tried to fix it the more it didn’t fix. The joy was sucked out of my little flip turn by the demon perfectionism. And the spiral continued until all that was left was comedy. I gave up and threw my feet in the air in despair. How can something that was so there yesterday be gone today?
New skills are like that… Even old skills are like that. I said out loud getting out of the pool, “I got caught in the land of over-thinking and everything fell apart.”
A sweet woman 15 years my senior said, “Now, that’s the truth!!!”
So my plan tomorrow is to relax. Let go, have more fun with it. I know the land of over-thinking is territory to be avoided. And I hope my new friend returns, but if not: Wow, this is not the end of the world. It’s a flip turn.
Is there anything you might be over-thinking? My hope: go simple, go joyful, and tell us what it is. Leave a comment, if you have time.
Posted by Tegan on Apr 8, 2011 in behind the scenes
, Tegan's posts
When Linda and I went to the Pitchapalooza to introduce our book idea to the world, Linda spoke in front of a room full of people. She grabbed the mic and gave her practiced, one-minute speech. Despite the fact that I was anonymous and in the audience, I was anxious before, during, and after. Partly I was nervous for Linda, partly the stomach butterflies were about the reception of our book, but mostly the sense of unease was due to the mingling before and after the presentation. Networking gives me the willies.
Not everyone is a natural networker. For shy girls like me, facing a roomful of people, whether it’s at a cocktail party or an author event, is a brave thing. It took decades, but now I’ve figured out some ways of approaching networking situations that help.
1) Find a task for yourself. I determined to scope out the format for the night. I asked a staff member if I was in the right place. I asked another staff member if there would be sign-ups. I approached new people who wandered into the area and asked if they were pitching because I wanted to know if I was missing anything about the process. When I have a task to accomplish, I think about the task, not about social anxiety. A recent trick at cocktail parties (after watching Fair Game and reading Valerie Plame’s memoir) is pretending I’m a spy; I assign myself the task of finding out something about everyone in the room. Heart in the throat? Not me! I’m a cool, collected, clandestine intelligence operative. Maybe a sweaty and fidgety clandestine operative, but I’m working on it.
2) Look for people you know. After I’d warmed up by speaking to a few strangers, I was rewarded by the universe– some people I knew arrived! A sales rep I know from the store provided instant conversation. I sidled up and blurted out my “Hi! Tegan from Queen Anne Books!” by way of contextualizing greeting/self-introduction. Then a natural round of, “What are you doing here?” paved the way to a few minutes of talk interesting enough to calm me for a big portion of the night. I was saved from the danger of clinging too long because my discussion partner had his own tasks to accomplish before the program began. Thus he provided a graceful ending to the conversation, and because he is a social master, he introduced me to someone else at hand, giving a segue to my next conversation.
3) Find someone who looks nervous, too. My mom taught me this trick. If you see someone else hanging by the punch bowl or sitting in a chair folding and refolding their notes, go say hi. They may not be nervous or shy, but if they are, you’ll both feel better after you break the ice. I am not great at small talk, but after years of approaching customers in the store and trying to make people feel at ease at author events, I realized that I don’t have to be great at it. Small talk is small talk, not great oratory. State something obvious (“Wow, lots of people here!”) or something quirky that you noticed, if you dare (“Do you think they sent out a secret text for everyone to wear black?”). You may get a quizzical stare, but you may get a laugh or a great conversation, too. No matter what, you get points for being brave: you tried.
4) Look for things in common. If you see someone wearing the same sensible shoes, carrying the same notebook, or wearing the same glasses, introduce yourself! Mention the similarity. See what happens.
5) Have your business card or a pen and paper at the ready. Whether you are at a business-oriented networking opportunity or just in the office cafeteria, you will find interesting people. Ask if you can have their email address/blog/website. This lets them know that you valued their time, and it gives you the opportunity to offer your contact information.
6) Be grateful. Remember that being in situations with a room of people may be daunting, but it does provide a chance for new experiences and new relationships. You never know who might become a new friend, colleague, or advocate. As much as you can, relax and appreciate the steps you take. Reflect on your conversations to find something to smile about and give you confidence for your next roomful of people.
Author Thea Cooper (“Breakthrough”) and me. I am so glad we chatted after her Science Cafe event!
Posted by Linda on Apr 7, 2011 in Linda's posts
I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off. It has taken me 3 solid months of just getting up, because I have a goal, because this is the plan, and because I have gotten others out of bed to help me. But this is the first time I can actually say I am looking forward to tomorrow’s workout with the North End Otters.
What brought about this change of heart? It’s because last Wednesday I asked to learn how to do a flip turn. A real, full-speed-ahead Olympic-quality flip turn. Instead of an open turn or my outdated 60’s version of a slow flip turn, if you could call it that. I figured it was time. I was going to need one in a swim meet I am signed-up for and it is just a few weeks away. You might be asking what am I doing in a swim meet? All I have to say at this moment is: peer pressure. Now, back to the flip turn.
All things are when you first learn them are at best awkward. This was tumbly, arms flying, water-up-your-nose, hope-your-feet-hit-the-wall awkward. After about five or six rough tries your body gets the hang of the new movement. Did you know you come off the wall on your back, then gently roll and stretch?
Then the mental game begins. Each length of the pool was all about the flip turn. Setting up for the turn, then executing the turn, then several strokes out from the turn I critique the flip turn and see what I would want to fix at the next turn which was right a-b-o-u-t n- o-w , flip, stretch, swim and critique. I can’t wait to practice tomorrow.
I love learning something new although I fight it. Why am I a Triathlete but I haven’t learned a proper flip turn until now? I always told myself, “You don’t need a flip turn. You swim in open water. Who needs a flip turn?”
It turns out flip turns are fun! Why did I wait so long?
What’s that something new that is just waiting there for you to learn?
Do you ever pick a book by its title? Or do you choose not to read it based on the words on its cover?
We’ve had a few responses to our project’s title change, almost all of them very positive.
The first person we told outside our comfort circle of friends and creative partners is someone with a lot of experience in publishing. After he heard our new title, he took a deep breath. We braced ourselves for his reaction. Then he gave us what every author who wants to inspire people wants to hear, “It’s like Oprah– in the best way!” From there, he went on to talk about how our title seemed like something America needed, and something that everyone could use. Needless to say, that made us feel like we were on the right track.
We realized that “The Power in the Body” may have seemed too much like a fitness title. One of Linda’s co-workers summed it up well when when I was first contemplating the name change. She remarked, “ I like the title with the word ‘brave’ in it. I’m not much of a ‘body’ gal but I want to be braver.” Our new title felt more universal and accessible to her, which is exactly how we hope our book will feel.
Tegan’s co-worker agreed that “One Brave Thing a Day” is more concrete and upbeat. Right away, readers get a sense that this memoir may have lessons everyone can use.
But some of the reactions are positive with a catch. “Oh man that means I have to do 365 of these in a year?” asked the Keeneys’ family doctor. Linda smiled and told him he had probably made a phone call or two he didn’t want to make before he saw her and after he saw her he was going to face a few more tasks that he really didn’t want to do either. She said, “I just don’t think you give yourself credit for the hard things you do do every day.”
So be sure to acknowledge the hard things you’ve already done. You already are brave! Recognize your courage and celebrate it.
Click “more” to see four titles that made Tegan pick up the books… Read more…