Writing #100happydays

I use to write more. Not for business, but like for fun. I am not sure why I don’t. Maybe because I would have to face myself or even be proud and loud of the woman I am starting to be.

We are often told to not praise and shout from the rooftops of our accomplishments and achievements. May make others feel bad or what have you. The truth is, I am proud of who I am and how long this journey has been to get there.

Am I 100% proud and happy? No. I stay busy to avoid myself sometimes, or get sad when my focus excludes me from the group. I told my boss last week that I want I be noticed without having to scream it. She told me I have never been the quiet one. Her statement got me thinking and reflecting more on that, and why I’ve chosen the path I have. The answer is, I was miserable before. Before I found improv. Before I found running. Before being comfortable in my own skin.

Sure I have always been loud, but now I need to be with a purpose. Say I love you more. Say I am lucky to have you. Say I am happy. I often joke that my 18 year old self would hate my 27 year old self because she wouldn’t think I was cool for drinking Angry Orchard and writing on Thirsty Thursday. That 18 year old should probably put down the Bud Light.

So I’ve decided to do the #100happydays challenge. For 100 days starting 03/28/14, I will post a picture on Instagram @mariakonopken of something that makes me happy. I have no idea what that might be, but let’s do this. I won’t write everyday here, but maybe once a week or so. I just love the below picture they have on their site. Sweet screenshot I know. Here goes everything.

Hugs and Skittles!

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Oh Chicago

My bags are not packed and I am not ready to go.

Who knew I would fall in love with a city so quickly like I have Chicago? I came here on an adventure to learn more about improv and spend time with my family. I’ve done this before and while I cried, it never felt I guess painful to leave.

This summer has changed me for the better. I am more confident in me. I love more of me. I love the people. From improv classes and shows to meeting new people to becoming closer with family and friends, each played a roll in the person I am. The person the city made me a better person.

It hurts to leave so quickly after I got adjusted, but with anything, there is a reason. What that is, I soon will find.

Thank you to all that supported me here or a far. I still have to pack and catch a flight.

Continue to have fun and love life. I’ll see you when I see you.

The loss of the Boston Marathon and Running.

It is hard to put in to words the events that took place in Boston. As millions of thoughts go through my head. As I turn on and off the news coverage. As I hold my running shoes a little closer… I just become angrier.

It’s the type of anger that you have to smile just to not scream. It is the type of anger that grows and grows by the moment. It’s the kind where someone holds your hand the wrong way and they become your mortal enemy.

While much of today’s events have angered a lot of people, I think the part that angers me the most is the loss of innocence and purity. I know living in a post 9/11, reality TV world does not factor or let us have that.

However, when it came to running and running events, we still had that innocence and purity. We had it as runners. We had it when fans held signs. We had it as the sense of accomplishment as we watched our love ones crossed the finish line. Or when we did. In those moments, no one or nothing can touch the community and pride that is built through running. They can not touch the freedom felt with running. They can not touch the support that your community brings. Running is a safe and comfort place in a 9/11, reality TV world.

And The Boston Marathon was the Mecca of that innocence and purity. Boston showed with hard work, passion and hustle you can compete. It is the best for the best. Runners and non-runners come from all over the world to be celebrate and be celebrated as you are at the top of the Mountain.

This innocence and purity was shattered today in Boston. I don’t need to go into the gory details as you know them. As a city shut down to commemorate those who trained years, felt the wind, runner’s high, and celebrated it got shut down more by the horrid acts of a few than those running.

They were just runners! Those in Boston were not all politicians, American, and hell some don’t have a dime to their name. They were runners. Runners who don’t make the decisions that run the country. Runners who find clarity in running. Runners who simply wanted to enjoy the mountain top. They were runners and the people who supported them. They took something from them and us as a nation.

Where do we as a running community go from here?

I am not going to lie. It will be hard to run a race, and not wonder if something will happen for a little moment as I cross. I think with time, I won’t think that way, but may still.

I am not sure what to. But I do know that nothing will deter the community and pride that is built through running. They can not touch the freedom felt with running. They can not take that away. That I do know.

Soy Lime Shrimp

This is what happens when you forget to buy honey at the Grocery store, but did buy 2 lbs shrimp.

Soy Lime Shrimp
Serves 4

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ingredients
1/4 cup of butter
1 lb of shrimp
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of soy sauce
2 pinches of parsley
1 pinch of grounded ginger
1 tsp of garlic
2 tsp of lime juice
Black pepper

Directions

1)Melt butter on skillet on medium heat
2) While butter melts, mix canola oil, soy sauce, parsley, grounded ginger, garlic, and lime juice in mixing bowl.
3) When butter is melted, put cooked shrimp on skillet.
4) Pour mix over shrimp. Mix thoroughly and then sprinkle black pepper over shrimp.
5) Keep the shrimp in the skillet, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
6) Eat!

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The gift of running

Where the Hell did January go? I swear I was just toasting to the new year and eating some tacos. Now I’m avoiding heart shape things and watching some Scandal. Where did a month go?

In keeping with one of my resolutions from list for 2013- write one blog a month- I figured this still qualifies. So here we go.

January 2013 changed me. It changed my imrpov. It changed how I look. Witness 12 inches of hair:

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But what it really did was test limits. Limits I thought I never had by doing a marathon. You heard right- a marathon. For those who haven’t Googled this already, a marathon is 26.2 miles. While you might drive for work, imagine running it – it is worse than that. Almost anyone can train for the running portion of a marathon, but doing it is a whole different level.

The body is not made for this stuff. Your mind is not made for this. Your feet (especially if you like rocking heels) are not made for it. So why do it? Honestly because you are crazy. I signed up for the marathon because I would 26 and two months when I ran it, and they had a sweet discount.I thought well I’ve done three half marathons, this is like two at once. And yes I was delusional.

It didn’t hit me until the night before the race as I slept in downtown Phoenix that I am only getting home on my feet. The same mileage I drive everyday home from work, I was now running. To say I was freaked out would be an understatement. I cried then. I cried when we started. I cried the first mile. What did I sign up for?

After throwing up about mile 3, I started calming down. At the 13.1 mile mark it hit me… I have to run another one of these….!&!@&! My head was saying fool stop running. Get in one of those trucks now( and yes my inner voice is Mr.T). I kept going though. I probably should have listen to Mr.T and stop. I wanted to cut off my feet, seeing things that weren’t there, and wondering if my hands were going to be this swollen forever ( the answer is no).

After I thought I had a heart attack at mile 18, I hit a wall. As I approached 19 miles, I started crying tears of joy. I said to Estela (who joined me on this crazy journey) I am proud of myself which came out of no where. In the past, I have been proud by accomplishments, but I don’t recall ever saying I am proud of myself-out loud. It was cleansing. I started to get energy I had somehow had, and powered on. It was slow, but I moved again.

At Mile 25 we got to the Mill Ave bridge. One of my favorite places in Tempe and also one of my favorite running spots. I decided to take my time- enjoy it. I walked down the bride like I owned it, and for a moment I did.

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As I made the turn down Rio Salado, we saw these girls forming a tunnel. Like any inner Diva does, I strutted down the tunnel like I own it.

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At 26, we ran the last .2. The first .1 felt like it went on forever. I suddenly sprinted the last .1 and crossed that finished line. I cried again, but this time I knew why. I went on a journey where every emotion I have ever felt in my time on earth was felt. I was happy, sad, beaten, stressed, panicked,laughing, at peace, and some many other things one can go through, but instead of holding it in, I let go. I was no longer the awkward 11 year old, rebellious teenager, party college kid, or the hurtful 24 year old. In 26.2 miles, I came out alive, shinny, and new.

It cleansed me in a way only running can.

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Back to writing

Flying high in the air, I got the urge to write for fun again. Strange considering the last time I wrote was a year ago today. The same day my uncle died. Today I have cried three times about it; once in a bathroom, the other in a car, and now on a plane. It is hard to believe Carlos has been gone a year. A year…

This maybe the reason I feel to write again. It has been a crazy year since I wrote last. No new boyfriend, but a new nephew, job title, ran a half marathon, now doing improv, and learning to adapt.

Now what to write about? Maybe about my new love for running or improv. Maybe cooking again. I am not sure. But here it goes.

Nervous excited!

My Uncle Carlos

My Uncle Carlos.

I could go into his whole life of how he came to be, but I can already hear my Uncle cursing at me, so I won’t. But what I will tell you is who he was. For those who didn’t get the pleasure of meeting my Uncle Carlos, he was a bit of a Superman, Jack of All Trades kind of guy.Coming from a large family (and when I say large I mean 20 plus brother and sisters) he had to help the family. From working in factories, picking fruit, to some odd jobs he may have forgotten to mention, my Uncle learned from an early age how to work hard and educate himself. Although he never bragged about his intelligence or had degrees hanging on the wall, my Uncle was one of the brightest and smartest men I had ever known.

His tax return may have said one thing, but he could do anything. He was an Engineer, Carpenter, Therapist, Surgeon, just to name a few. But the titles I believed he held closet to his heart was Husband and Family Man. He was always there for our family. He raised his own two sons plus children that weren’t his own. On the surface, you wouldn’t call my Uncle the tradition nurturing type, but he always told you want you needed to hear, not what you wanted. He stepped up when necessary. He provided for his family beyond monetary value. He taught lessons far from the classroom, and put his life and soul on the line for his family. He lived by example.

And there was his wife, Norma. My Uncle acted like a hard ass, but he truly was a teddy bear, especially when it came to my Aunt. It was simply the way he looked at her that spoke volumes of love, passion, and admiration he had for her. Married 40 plus years, Carlos may have acted like a tough guy, never showing too much emotions, but he had a soft spot for Norma. Holding her hand, cuddling with her, even if acted too macho for it, and being a devoted husband. Even in his last days when he couldn’t do much, he would pucker up his lips to kiss his wife. That he knew.

On Friday, August 12 2011,after a hard fought battle with Prostate Cancer, Carlos became Chief Engineer for God. St.Peters most likely asked him to fixed his gate, and then had a beer with him. It is still surreal that I will never see my Uncle again, but I know he is not hurting anymore, and probably running the show with God.

If you didn’t get to meet Carlos, you missed out. But if you want to see his impact, look at his wife, his sons, his family, and his community.We live knowing the man whose hands showed the best of his hard work. We live with him by our side, watching, and probably saying “sal-es” and laughing with a slight smile. Carlos was truly a good person, not because he pretended to be, but because his soul was. When I leave this earth, if I am half as good of person as my Uncle was, I would be content.

I love you and thank you Carlos.

Carlos

Carlos

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