Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beach to Battleship: We've Only Just Begun

It's 5 days post-race and the reality of racing 140.6 miles is still sinking in. I keep saying "It's crazy!" which at once does not do justice to the event, but also sums it up fairly accurately. Since the beginning of this year Beach To Battleship 140.6 mile iron distance triathlon has been a top goal.
the actual battleship

Spring training started out strong, although in retrospect, a bit early. If I ever take on this distance again I will train in a 6 month span- a realistic time frame for an athlete already used to working out 12-13 hours a week. I feel limiting the length of time spent training would combat burn out and over use injuries. Obviously, I can't say that would be best for everyone but it's what I would do for myself.
Anywho, who knows if I'll ever compete in an iron distance race again. What I want right now is to recount what THIS journey has meant. It has involved tremendous joy, pain, support, sacrifice, sweat, tears, adventure, sense of community and more.

"The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it is perfect, far from it-but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of far more than I ever thought possible."

Those words really get to the heart of why I chose to tackle the 140.6 mile triathlon challenge. The older I get the more actively I seek to shed the self doubt/hatred that claimed so much of my spirit during my teens and 20's. I believe that God gave me one life to live and that it is meant to be lived to the fullest. Anything less would be a waste. When people say "Running is bad for your knees" or "Endurance sports are bad for your heart" or "Riding a bike is dangerous" I cannot help but think "Are you not scared of early onset diabetes/ heart disease?" and "Are you aware of the obesity epidemic happening right now, in this country?" and "Are you happy living your life in fear?". I mean come on. The limits we set on this life are all too often self-imposed.
Countless early morning workouts and beautiful views like this on the Trace
I don't know that anyone, myself included, is dying to recount the year's worth of training that went into this so I'll skip ahead to recent months. End of summer marked the beginning of very rough couple months leading up to the race. One, after spending a year juggling freelance and many part-time gigs in addition to training for an ironman (a part time job in it's own right)- I was spread too thin. Two, our much anticipated "vacation" to the gulf shore resulted in me having an extreme allergic reaction- cutting the trip short and accruing plenty of bills from the Dr. Three, the glute pain I had been trying to keep at bay became unavoidably painful. This resulted in months of physical therapy, anxiety at potentially having to drop out of the race, and of course more $ spent on my health issues. Four, in succession the "things" in my life started breaking down, i.e: dishwasher, Jon's car, my car. The timing of it all was ridiculous. Sometimes I feel the motto for my life should be "When it rains, it pours".
Got in a little exploring at the Gulf Coast before allergy rashes covered my skin.

All these events led to my physical, financial & mental depletion by the beginning of October. The folks who see me regularly got to witness multiple breakdowns; for Jon, he had to deal with it almost every day. But, in keeping with my motto, even while I felt like life was continually beating me down  I was showered with kindness from all sides. From co-workers past and present, from new friends and old friends, from people who owe me nothing at all- I was offered SO many helping hands. I thank God every day for putting people like that on the face of this earth, and for letting our paths cross. It pushed me through this month and allowed me to see this journey through to the very finish line I lept across on Saturday night on a gorgeous cobblestone street in Wilmington, NC.
Training with good friends who are great people is what kept me sane!

Needless to say, it was a struggle to focus on training those final two months. I cut out running completely in the final month as a last ditch attempt to heal in time to stay in the game- SO glad I did that. It's a hard fact for any athlete to accept but sometimes rest is the best possible cure. I diligently did strength exercises for my back, hips, glutes and whatnot while going through physical therapy. Perry at Pro Motion physical therapy was excellent. I also added regular deep tissue massage into routine and it worked wonders! Dianna and Robin at Franklin Massage Center  played a pretty big role in getting me to that starting line. Several months prior to the race I was at the point where being forced to drop out of the race became very real; my "push through the pain" strategy was obviously failing miserably, but this team of talented professionals turned things around and helped make completing this race a reality.
The right card, at the right moment.
The week leading up to the race was hectic work- wise. I focused on hydrating, but unfortunately wasn't able to rest much at all. I knew it was basically the opposite of the ideal way to go into race weekend-so I had a panic attack Wednesday evening. This is where I circle back to saying: I am blessed beyond belief to be surrounded by loving people. A friend surprised me with this card and a sweet note and it couldn't have come at a more crucial time. Other friends brought me "good luck charms"; I was pretty pumped to be able to keep them with me on the bike!
A little love, along for the ride.

 Also that evening friends shared the Facebook group they had created almost a month before called "Sarah & Meg's secret support group"- pages full of well wishes, hilarious pictures and encouraging words. How can you go fall apart when you have people that good lifting you up? Needless to say I did my best to get my frazzled self together, get the house in order for the dog sitter (Hannah Mazzaferro is a rock star sis-in-law for taking care of the furry fam!),  pack 4,000 + triathlon related items, throw some "normal" clothes in a bag and roll out first thing Thursday morning.
Peace out, Nashville.

Next stop: Wilmington, North Carolina.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Artober Nashville

It was an art-full afternoon in Goodlettesville today. In collaboration with a fantastic non -profit, Turnip Green Creative Reuse, I led a workshop in the Nashville Public Library Goodlettesville branch.

In case you didn't already know: Nashville is bursting at the seams with art events such as this during Artober- a month long celebration of the arts and culture during the month of October!

This workshop was very unique in that it allowed participants to take a piece of Tennessee history home with them. Inspired by President Andrew Jackson's middle Tennessee home- the Hermitage- the project began with pieces of a poplar tree from the Hermitage grounds that fell after being struck by lightning. 

Sections of the poplar were cut and drilled with a hole; these would be the base for creating ornaments/ wall hangings. 

Next, participants were invited to cut pages and words out of a book from the 1800's - one that could have been in Andrew Jackson's library- and decoupage them onto the poplar pieces. 

Pulling inspiration from the Hermitage living room's interior, a crocheted doily offered an interesting texture option for the wooden hangings.

As cotton fields were an important element of the Hermitage's outdoor environment- we used cotton pieces dipped in paint to create color patterns on the wooden surface.

Artober Nashville is the single largest celebration of the arts and culture in the South. This project was the perfect way to engage!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Store Windows for Fleet Feet

Below are some shots of window displays and signage I have created recently for Fleet Feet, a running specialty store.

It wouldn't be fall without some pumpkins and a runner scarecrow!

A chalkboard calendar keeps customer up to date on special events and provides information about new products.

This large backdrop is perfect for highlighting store sponsored events and training programs.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Live & Don't Be Sorry

I've been off the blog wagon. But I want to get back on. But I keep getting distracted. Life lately feels like a puzzle that's been dumped from it's box onto the floor. All the pieces are there- just scattered and a total mess. Balancing all the different parts of my life has been very difficult lately: managing an non-traditional work schedule, staying creatively inspired and productive, keeping up with life/home responsibilities, making quality time for husband/family, training for an ironman...sometimes it's all too much- but one of these items is about to be taken off my plate.

I'm currently 34 days away from Beach to Battleship iron distance triathlon, which I signed up for way back at the beginning of the year. For those unfamiliar with the sport: an Ironman/ full Iron Distance triathlon is an ultra distance combination of swimming (2.4 miles)+ biking (112 miles)+  running (26.2 miles). All in one day, with a cut off time of 17 hours. 

Recently the question was asked "Why would you want to do this?", to which I had a surprisingly slow response. Slow because I realized my general attitude is "Why would you not want to do this?". As I sifted through all the thoughts and feelings that this experience has evoked I came to the more specific answer: 

I want to attempt to do the thing I think I cannot.

It's the passion that wakes me up in the morning; the choice to try to live my life free of fear; the desire to be a stronger, better, bolder person- I think it is just as natural a part of who I am as having brown eyes.

In recent months I 've struggled with this journey- I've been overwhelmed, exhausted, chafed, scared, excited, frustrated, proud, hurt, and much more. Frustration and disappointment have been at the forefront lately because of some hip and glute issues I've been having that have slowed down my running quite a bit. It's made me question if I should/can even still do this race. Also, I've carried around a significant amount of guilt- for how much time and energy training commands (at the expense of other life priorities); for how much money I am funneling into this hobby; for how this can look like a selfish endeavor in general. But I think it is time to let these things go- to remind myself this is an enormous personal goal that I chose to conquer because of the reasons I listed above. 

Today marked my third experience cycling 100 miles- but today's course was tremendously hillier and more difficult than the previous two times. The previous two times by the end of the ride I was ready to lie down in the parking lot next to my bike and take a nap ASAP. Just wiped out completely. Today, I finished and I actually managed to keep it together enough to go see a friend, hit the grocery store, and now blog. WHAT??? Yes. Stronger and better. I am going to cross that finish line and I can't freaking wait.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

From Business Card to Office Wall

This week I completed a project for a local event management company, What Do You Run For?. They wanted to brighten the walls and enliven the office atmosphere. Their current business card (pictured below) was the inspiration for what I created. 

The bold logo and bright colors translated very well to a larger scale. I really enjoyed this project. My personal style is very bright, bold, and energetic- working on this just felt natural.

The finished product even goes with the existing disco ball decor- perfection!

If you are interested in having a customizing painting done for your home or business, please email:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Signage for Platetone Printshop + Turnip Green Creative ReUse

One of the projects on my agenda last week included painting signage to go above the exterior doors of Platetone Printshop and Turnip Green Creative ReUse. They are building neighbors- with entry doors that are side by side. Both are organizations have a clean, organic aesthetic which led to the choice of keeping the signage simple- logo on unfinished board.

Hand painted signs in-progress
If you are a visual artist and are interested in connecting with Nashville's creative community, I highly recommend connecting with either/both of these organizations. Great people doing good work!

TGCR + Platetone= 2 excellent creative orgs sharing 1 building
Looking for an opportunity to check them out and/get involved? Turnip Green is hosting an art show & benefit on August 3:

"Join us for Reclamation on August 3rd! All proceeds will benefit both Turnip Green Creative Reuse & Untitled Artists Group and will help us continue our missions. All art in the show has been donated by artist that believe in our missions. How great is that!? You buy great art, and you get to feel great about supporting 2 local organizations? YES! WIN, WIN, WIN!"

For more info on the event, click HERE.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chattanooga Waterfront Duathlon

This past weekend I took a quick trip to Chattanooga with my brother, Seth, and my good friend, Cristina with plans to race the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. The preceding week of rain resulted in a flooded river and thus, cancellation of the swim portion of the race. The swim portion was replaced with a 2 mile run. 

What we ended up doing was an intermediate (or Olympic distance) duathlon in this order: 2 mile run, 26 mile bike, ended with 6.2 more miles of running. It was all in the downtown riverfront area which made for a very scenic and somewhat hilly course. The weather was ridiculously ideal- overcast with cool (for mid July) temps. 


We missed packet pick up on Saturday evening (driving down after a full day of work) and opted to go straight to the Crash Pad and check in; we followed that up with a little walk around the Chattanooga Choo Choo and a delicious dinner at the Terminal. I normally don't drink (alcohol) the day before a race, but decided at the last minute it sounded good so I had wine with my meal. In the same spontaneous decision making vein, we thought ice cream would be a good conclusion to our big dinner with drinks and went to Clumpies. That was fun while it lasted.  Holy crap y'all. I woke up race morning to sharp stomach pain, bloating & gi issues. Awesome. Lesson learned. I do not have a stomach of steel. 

daniel, me, seth, cristina pre-race
The bike portion was rough and hilly and I just set my mind to get through it as best I could. My stomach just got increasingly nauseous and I couldn't keep any fluids or nutrition down so I just gave up on it and didn't eat or drink anything during the race. Was that a bad decision? Maybe, but there wasn't anything more to do so I just tried to go with it and take it as a lesson learned on what not to do when it comes to days leading up to a race.

done with the bike portion, headed out for 6.2
The run following the bike was rough as well, with my ever tight IT /glute/ hip kicking in shooting pains. It was, however, super cool to hear cheers from friends, like Eddie, who were out watching the race and snapping great pics like the ones you see here. They and the crew I train/race with can take a crappy race and turn it into a pretty good experience. Their healthy perspectives, encouraging words, and adventurous personalities inspire me to let go of the frustration and negativity that I'd let build up during this race. I'm not going to lie- I was pissed for a good couple hours because of how awful I felt, and how much better I know I could've done. But, it was a good lesson learned. I am not an athlete who can "wing it" pre race. I need to rest. I need to eat well. Basically, I need to do things by the book and that is OK.

Nashville represents!
The weekend whirlwind ended with an awesome white water rafting trip down the Ocoee. I couldn't really ask for much more- and am very thankful for what I have. Moral of the weekend: be thankful for and respectful of the life you've been given.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dig Into Nashville

 Nashville Public Library's summer community programming, "Dig Into Nashville" features a series of creative workshops called "Dig Into Gardening". The workshop description reads "Turnip Green Creative Re Use [TGCR] will show you how to create newspaper seed starters and garden journals". I have partnered with Turnip Green Creative Re Use on past workshops and was thrilled when they invited me to be a teaching artist for this series of workshops. TGCR's mission is to divert materials destined for landfill to use in creative endeavors. 

Below are photos of how we made journals out of up cycled materials donated by TGCR.

Wall paper samples work as durable journal covers.

Participants chose from a variety of papers to use for inside book pages.

For the binding: needle and choice of thread- heavier duty thread such as embroidery floss preferred.

A few additional supplies used were: scissors and awls to punch holes for the binding stitches.
Pamphlet stitch binding: HERE is the process used.

Participants customized by varying material sizes & colors,  some also added fabric  embellishments to their journal covers.
Thank you TGCR and the Nashville Public Library for promoting green, creative activities within our community!

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Projects

After not posting for almost a month- I'm back! I 've been really into using a thread & needle in the studio, and here are some of my latest creative projects:

Embroidered Cards

Bird & Book/house Mobile

All of the above are available at the fabulous East Side Story, or simply email me if you're interested:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Setting Intentions

It's been on my mind a lot lately, how absolutely blessed I am in life. How, although there is so much more to each of us than just our physical bodies- our bodies are so very strong and capable. Often, we never use them to their fullest potential. Sometimes the limitations are beyond our control (need to take a second job to support the family and have no spare time, you're a single parent with no childcare help, etc) but too often, the limitations are ones that are a choice (fear of pushing outside your comfort zone, allowing excessive tv /internet distraction).

Many of you know I am training for my first full ironman this year; while I havent blogged much about it specifically- it is having a profound impact on me. I had a rough month in March- winter weather kept hanging around and bumming me out, work slowed, doubts about ironman started creeping in. During this time, I wondered aloud to my husband if my decision to put so much time and energy into a pursuit like ironman was frivolous or selfish. Fortunately, I am married to a supportive man (who also happens to be hot, talented and my best friend). He said "I have never seen you so confidant and strong as when you are running and training for races." We've been married for 13 years, so that kind of says a lot. He's right. Despite the ups and downs that come with challenging yourself to try new things- I've never been happier in my life.

A friend said to me this week "you only have one body". I don't want to get all YOLO on you, but seriously we do only have one body, one life to live- and they were created on a grand scale. It's up to me how much (or how little) I get to see and do in this lifetime; an inspiring example relating to this is "A Life Without Limits" Chrissie Wellington's autobiography. As I slowly push myself physically to achieve things I once assumed were impossible for me I realize not only I can do this, but in fact I was made to do this. I was given the gift of a healthy body, and I want to keep it strong.

Many thanks go out to my awesome husband and encouraging friends for helping push me through that period of doubt in March. I've regained perspective, and am refocusing on the reasons that I was originally drawn to this ironman journey- and it really is about the journey. It's about exploring new places biking and running that I would never see otherwise- Tennessee is a beautiful playground to adventure through! It's about sharing struggles and celebrating triumphs with training buddies- supporting each other along the way. It's about setting my intentions on living this life to the fullest - and a few more things I'm not sure I can articulate well yet. I am a work-in-progress!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Reuse Workshop

This week I had two fantastic opportunities to partner with Turnip Green Creative Reuse. I'll keep this post focused on the first one: leading a workshop for Metro Nashville Public Library. I love our library system; the main downtown branch is by far my favorite- the center courtyard and grand staircase are GORGEOUS. And now I love the library even more, since learning that for their staff retreat days they invite local organizations to put together a variety of educational workshops and let employees choose what they would like to attend.

Turnip Green Creative Reuse (TGCR) was one of the local organizations selected to put on a workshop during the most recent staff retreat. As an artist who has made use of TGCR's donated materials in my own work, a connection had been made; Kelly Tipler, C.E.O. of TGCR, reached out and invited me to lead this workshop for the library. My reuse work has centered around book art (if you're local you can see it at East Side Story), and being for the library- a book reuse art project seemed the perfect fit!
The following images from the workshop are courtesy of TGCR:

Project Examples
Distributing Supplies
Participants Chose a Book Page to Alter with Paint
Work in Progress!
A Completed Piece 
Participants of All Ages Got Involved
Everyone Altered Their Book Pages Uniquely!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Intervals & Introspection

I decided to get in my speed work run at lunch today. With E.S. Rose Park (and it's track) being less than a mile from my house I often go there- running an easy warm up on my way there, then intervals on the track, then a cool down as I head back through the neighborhood.
As I came to the end of my warm up, I approached the track from a path that overlooked it slightly. The day was absolutely gorgeous, and I had already noticed quite a few other people out in the park enjoying the sunlight. I should add that my usual routine is to go early, around when the sun is rising- so not surprisingly there are very few other folks making use of the park while I am there. Back to approaching the track- I notice baseball practice is going on, so is softball practice, comparatively there are ALOT of people. I start feeling self conscious about the all out intervals I'm about to run- how silly I might look, how loudly I might gasp to catch my breath- than I see a large group of jr. high kids have walked over from the school next door and they seem ready to hang out at the track during their lunch period. Immediately I think, "GREAT. We're going to get in each other's way. I'm going to get heckled for being the crazy lady in purple lycra. Maybe this isn't a good idea." I'm already at the gate though, so I go in. I've also already got the interval times entered into my watch, so I hit GO and the beeping counts down..and I'm off on my first lap.
I take an outside lane and the pack of kids walking the track stays on the inside- we peacefully share the track for a couple more laps. Then the kids break into smaller friend groups: some hanging out on the benches talking, some playing football in the center field, several laying in the grass, a few still walking the track. So far, so good. Except that my mind is going wild with negative thoughts directed at myself: "Who do I think I am, trying to act like I'm fast? My legs are way too short and thick. I am too short and thick. My pants are too tight. Everyone can hear how hard I am breathing." and so on. And then my thoughts are broken as I run past a group of girls and hear one of them say in an admiring way, "She's so fast!". Now- that "fast" was all in the eye of the beholder, but today I was proud to hear it and claim it.
It went to heart- in a reality check type way. The past several weeks I 've struggled with a lot of really negative thoughts and self-doubt; today was no exception. Until I was there just running my little heart out in front of everyone on this gorgeous day at this really great park in my very own neighborhood. I had everything (and more) that I needed to accomplish exactly what I set out to do: the right shoes, the right clothes, the time, perfect weather, a fancy running watch, access to an excellent track- and yet I almost talked myself out of the whole experience because I was scared. So I am the one holding myself back these days. 
I kept running: all out sprints then recovering. That one girl's comment successfully shifted my mind's gears. Not only did I badly need to get out of my own head, I needed to be aware of what these kids were seeing as they watched me. They saw a woman who does not have a perfectly lean, long legged runner/ model's body out there pushing herself. Choosing to work hard and not give up, despite the huffing and puffing or jiggly thighs and lots of strangers looking on. Not only did they see that- but at least a few thought it was even something worth complimenting. I can think of no better example I could hope to offer teenage girls in such a natural, simple way. I am so lucky to have the ability to be involved in the sport of running. I am grateful to be reminded that everything, even just a workout, is about more than just self, and that life is far too good to let fear hold you captive. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Is Here!

It's officially the first day of spring! I love the excitement that comes with this season- plants are coming back to life, days are getting lighter, people are breaking out of hibernation mode. Lots of great energy is surfacing! 
Butterflies are a perfect symbol of new life and the beautiful, light colors of spring- so I chose them for my most recent spring themed decor project. The goal was to create lighting that would brighten and add unique seasonal detail to a shop window- while keeping supply costs low. 
I chose to use pendant light cords , white paper lanterns in three sizes and upcycled paper butterflies as the primary materials. 

24" White paper lanterns
16" White paper lanterns
14"White Paper lanterns
Silver electrical cord kit
Old magazines
An old book
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks
Light Bulbs

Either die cut/ hand cut butterfly silhouettes. If you're a Nashville local check out Turnip Green Creative ReUse as an excellent source of paper you can upcycle; similar organizations exist in many other major cities as well- look into it where ever you are! Die cutting will be WAY faster and will give a "cleaner" look to your butterflies; if you have access to a die cutter, I recommend it over hand cutting. As far as the amount to cut- it really depends on how minimal vs ornate of a look you want, as well as how big of a lantern you chose to use. Always cut more than you think you will need- you'll be happy to have spent a little extra time cutting and have extra than to be in the midst of hot gluing only to realize you've run out!

Assemble your lantern/s. If possible hang them in your work area. It was very helpful for me to have it hanging while I was working on it, so I could be sure to place the butterflies the way I envisioned them looking on the finished product (which would hang in a window).

Lay out your butterflies and get that hot glue gun going. Imagine roughly where you want your butterfly "swarm" to land on the lantern. Begin gluing some butterflies on- start off by attaching them smoothly/flatly as seen below.

Go back to your stack of paper butterfies and crease some of them. As you make a 2nd pass over the lantern attaching butterflies this will add interest- some butterflies will appear to be resting, some will be perched with wings still "fluttering". Using a bit of hot glue along the crease, press these on top of and around the flat butterflies.

Be sure to move around the lantern as you work so that one side does not get considerably bulkier than the other. Continue to add butterflies as you go, alternating book and colorful magazine pages.

Once you're happy with your butterfly coverage, carefully insert the cord with lightbulb and hang!
If you have any left over butterflies, thread them onto fishing line (simply punch a small hole in the paper and knot the line). Tie the strand below the lantern or to the ceiling hook above and let them flutter around the lantern; add a couple varied lengths if you're really into it!

The above pic is my end result. It can currently be seen at Rodney Mitchell Salon in Hillsboro Village.
Happy first day of Spring!