Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holidays are a time for perspective

I'm so proud to say that Matt got published again (a couple months ago he wrote this piece)!! He submitted a piece to our local paper, the Press Democrat, a couple weeks ago on the suggestion of a friend after she read it. I agreed. I thought it was a great message and was coming at the perfect time of year.

We kept waiting to see if it would be accepted for the Editorial section, but kind of gave up on it. Then some friends texted this morning and said "Great piece in the newspaper, so true!"

I thought it was really awesome that the PD waited until today to run it. So, naturally, I had to share it just like I did before. This time, it's not so much about our financial situation as it is about taking a moment to look around and realize how rich we really are.


This article can also be found here.

EVERSON: Holidays are a time for perspective

Published: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 4:20 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 6:02 a.m.

''We're rich," I said innocently.

It was an honest appraisal from my point of view. And I recall the laughter that remark inspired. The reaction of my parents and their friends took me by surprise. At 5 years old, I didn't understand why they all thought I was being so silly. But they clearly disagreed with my assessment of our wealth.

Now that my son Patrick is 5 years old, I asked him if he thought we were rich.

"Yes, I think so, daddy," he told me.

"What makes you feel rich?" I followed.

"Well, we just are."

Only a 5-year-old can give such a succinct answer with such conviction. And you know what? He's right. Just as I was when I was 5 years old.

At nearly 37 years old, I now understand why my parents and their friends laughed at my proclamation. I realize the pressure of being an adult now that I could not then.

Each week, I struggle with bills. I find creative ways to stay on top of a mortgage and pay my taxes. The monetary demands never seem to decline.

I own a financial planning firm caught in the teeth of a serious financial crisis. As hard as I try to remain positive, sometimes it all makes me feel like I'm not rich at all. But aren't I really rich?

Wouldn't a boy in Pakistan crawling in the dirt, suffering from polio change spots with me instantly? I wonder what the word "rich" means to him?

Wouldn't a girl sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia take my place in a second? I'm sure she'd trade my stress and anxiety for her own daily horrors.

Wouldn't a Russian business owner constantly pressured by Mafia and government demands wish for the free enterprise system I enjoy?

Aren't I really wealthy, by comparison, to nearly 99.9 percent of the world?

I believe so.

And that is simply monetary. What about health? As Americans, our life expectancies are some of the longest in the world. Isn't health as important a commodity as money? Or nutrition? In Sonoma County, we live among the best farms in the world. A real cornucopia of organic, fresh, tasty and nutritious food abounds.

I wish my waistline could decline in size like my portfolio has during this financial crisis. But judging from my snug-fitting pants, the so-called crisis hasn't affected my ability to eat well. Can you imagine anyone living in Zimbabwe who wouldn't enjoy trading pantries with me?

What about our wealth of freedom? I can write what I please without worry at all of government or social censure. Starting a business was a piece of cake. Where else in the world is that a true statement? I'm free to travel, work, exercise, spend, save and do what I please in most every instance. Not so for nearly 75 percent of our world neighbors.

Wealth is just one area where many Americans have lost perspective. Consider our selfish interpretations of right and wrong. Or our heated and uncivil discussions about religion and politics. Americans have lost the attitude of gratitude that made us such a force in the past.

Take a moment and look around like a 5-year-old might. Everything around us is so amazing yet so few around us seem very happy about it. Wonder why?

If only folks could step back for a moment. Take an inventory of what we do have rather than what we do not have. And then compare our ledger to our friends around the globe. Isn't each and every one of us very wealthy? I believe so.

Matthew J. Everson is owner of MJ Everson Financial in Santa Rosa and lives in Santa Rosa.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two things worth seeing

Thing Worth Seeing #1:
So we all know by now I'm an astronomy geek and I love the APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day). I think my love of this stuff really came from when I taught Outdoor Education and my favorite night class to teach was the astronomy. How could you NOT get into it being up in the mountains and having ALL of the night sky to see with NO light pollution? It was brilliant.

So today's APOD is photo taken from Kahta, Turkey at Mount Nemrut. You can see Orion in the sky (a winter constellation, in case you were wondering why you never see it in the summer sky, unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere, where it's different; oh and if you ever want a sky map go visit I just think this photo is really cool. (you can click on the APOD link to see a bigger picture)

Explanation: What's that in front of Orion? Forty kilometers north of Kahta, Turkey, lies Mount Nemrut, a mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. The stone sculptures once stood nearly 10 meters high and depicted lions, eagles, various ancient gods, and King Antiochus I Theos, who ruled Commagene from 86 BC to 38 BC. Ruins of the bodies of several sitting figures are visible on the hill above, illuminated by moonlight. Zeus' head can be found near the above image's center, while the king's head is seen next closest to the horizon. Visible far in the distance in this image, taken three months ago, is the familiar constellation of Orion. The red patch just below Orion's belt is the Orion Nebula, while the bright star to the left of Orion is Sirius. On the far left, a red and brightening horizon announces that the Sun is beginning to rise.

Thing Worth Seeing #2:
The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. I will be honest here: this is seriously one of the best 20 minutes I have ever spent on the internet.

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Here's a quick trailer for you to check out. But instead of watching this one minute trailer, GO NOW AND WATCH THE FULL MOVIE AND SPREAD THE WORD!

I really believe we have the power to do something about this process and we can be the agents of change not only for our society, but for the world. But we have to care about it. And we have to be willing to change our ways.

I'll get off my soapbox now, thanks for listening. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pedro's Winter Training Camp: Day One (and only)

**Note** All photos shown are from Veronica Lenzi and the full set can be found here. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SAG SUPPORT AND GREAT PHOTOS, RONNIE!!!

Okay, so it was officially Day 2 of Pedro's Winter Training Camp. But I only participated in one of the three days.

I love the cycling world of connections.

I guess I should thank this guy John in our group, because he kind of was the one to start it all for my expansion into the Sonoma County cycling world. John told us about the Riviera Ride with West County Revolution. I went to the Riviera Ride. I met Jeff. Jeff rides with 2 Wheel Racing so he knows lots of other folks. Jeff said to Lee and I last week, "hey. This cool dude Pedro is having a Winter Training Camp and you should come."

Then I realized "hey, Pedro comments on Courtenay's blog!" Because Courtenay came from the cycling world. The circle was complete. And therein lies the coolness of the connections of the cycling world.

SO. I checked out the ride announcement. I hmmm'd and hawww'd.

I had a good feeling there would be some fast dudes (and chicks) on this ride. I always say, I know the roads so in the worst case, I knew how to get home if I got seriously dropped. Besides, when I woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window, all I could think was "how can you NOT GO OUT? IT'S GORGEOUS!!"

Cold, but gorgeous. And the rain that was supposed to arrive that morning looked nowhere near in sight, so I had to take advantage because there will be plenty of days ahead to become reunited with my trainer.

I arrived around 9:40 a.m. at Peet's to get some coffee. There was only one guy there so far. I began to wonder how many people would show up. Within about 10 minutes, cyclists from all directions began to appear. Many in team kits, some like me in no-name gear. I began to get excited. This was going to be a *big* ride!

At 9:55 a.m., Pedro stood up on a chair to announce how it was going to go:

"Out to Occidental, up Coleman Valley, out to the coast, up to Jenner, back inland and back up to Occidental from Monte Rio. There will be a group heading back into Santa Rosa from Occidental from there. There will also be a group continuing south toward Petaluma then east and back up via Petaluma Hill Road and catching Crane Canyon on the way back. We'll have SAG support the whole time. Oh, and you guys - yesterday people went a little fast. You need to SLOW IT DOWN TODAY."

Gulp. Right...slow it down today, guys, right!!!!
Jeff, Me, Jim and Lee listen to Pedro...

And off we went. About SIXTY PEOPLE were there! By far the biggest group I've ever ridden in. It was awesome. And inspiring. And fun. And I loved it. We headed out the bike path and all the people who stopped to let us go by just smiled, some even counted because they couldn't believe what a huge group it was.

We hit the road at Fulton and out to Hall Road - that's where this picture was taken. The pace here was mellow still, just warming up the legs and chatting.

Things picked up just a tad as we headed further out, but I was still just having a ball and enjoying the gradual warm up my legs were getting. I was rather thankful, actually, given that I was STILL sore from boot camp on Thursday! We passed an empty barn that seemed to be deemed "pee spot" so I took it as an opportunity to work my way up through the group and find my friends.

Up at the front, I had an opportunity to chat with Pedro himself, who is super cool. We talked about why Courtenay wasn't there (ahem, Court...actually she was doing a 10K so I can't give her too much crap), all the beautiful rides in Sonoma County, and how much fun cycling is.

Then we all regrouped as we turned right onto Green Valley. Uh oh. Turning right on Green Valley means only one thing: Harrison Grade! I knew that's where I'd really be put in my place...but oh well.

Good thing I was up at the front, because it gave every...single...person...a chance to pass me on the way up. Yes, Pedro said to take it slow...half these guys weren't even BREATHING HARD as they danced on their pedals past me. There were a few other women there, too, and they also passed me. Nothing like getting dropped on a huge climb to remind you where your real ability is.

Me, on the other hand...HR skyrocketing, going faster up Harrison Grade than I've ever gone (had to keep them in sight, AT LEAST!), breathing harder with every pedal stroke and just thanking my lucky stars that I've done this climb before and knew 'how much longer.'

Then Ronnie, our awesome sag woman, drove up next to me. I didn't want her to think I was hating life or anything (because even though it was hard I was still loving it in that weird sadistic sort of way), so I smiled a huge smile. And then I kept smiling. Because it felt good, and it sort of made it better. Not easier, but better.

This picture is from Harrison Grade...don't know if I was smiling at the top or that was before the pain really started, but it was a genuine smile. :)

Wheezing, I reached the top. "YESSSSSSSSSS!" I shouted. "PHEEEEWWWWW!" I yelled. All I could think was "now THERE'S a climb I need to do more often."

Jim and Lee weren't too far up ahead. We regrouped and began to make our way down to Occidental. As we made our way down, all I could think was "wow. Those guys kicked butt. I need to do that. I need to get better at that. I can do that. YES I CAN!"

Flying down the hill I got this huge smile on my face. Because my goals for 2009 became much clearer. I want to ride. And I want to ride a lot.

Once we reached Occidental, Lee, Jim, Jeff and this guy Michael all were going to head back b/c they had to get back home. I initially had the same reason for cutting out early, and admittedly was afraid the rain would catch up with us. But after Harrison Grade I thought " butt is going to get dropped SO BAD on Coleman Valley..." so I joined them to head home.

We had some coffee when we returned. Not bad - about 40 miles, some good climbing and great company. THANKS AGAIN, PEDRO! (and THANK YOU to Lee, Jeff, Jim and Michael for the good company on the way home!)


I was so inspired by the group I was with. And I realized that no matter if I'm by myself, with a small group or a ginormous group, I love cycling. Whether it's a slow ride, a medium ride or a ride that makes you wish you'd stayed in bed because you're going so hard (but only for a few minutes and then you forget the pain and keep pushing), I am always glad to be on my bike. And I want to be better at it because I know I can be.

I will still do some tris in 2009 but I have been doing this sport for four years now. I'm ready for a slightly new adventure. For new experiences. For new lessons. For new accomplishments.

It's time to ride!!!!! (yes, this means I will be posting my 2009 schedule soon...)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Boot camp

Writer's Block: we've all had it. I feel like there is some great post just waiting to be put out there, but I have so many thoughts that sort of tie in but could be their own posts and I go back and forth about what to write.

Then there's the little issue of TIME. This week has been insane. Yesterday felt like it should've been Friday because every day was so exhausting but now I think "where did the week go?" I worked late almost every day this week. Missed the Tuesday evening run. Missed the Wednesday morning swim practice. Had a dinner on Wednesday evening to go to so I thought I'd run either at lunch or leave work a tad early and squeeze in a run in before dinner. But I worked through lunch and right up until I had to go home and change for dinner!

It made my resolve to get to Thursday morning boot camp that much stronger.

For about the past few months I've had my YMCA spin students chiding me about coming to the Thursday morning boot camp that's put in by Lorenzo, a US Coast Guard guy that volunteers at the Y. Lately the chiding has gotten more intense. About a month ago, I finally agreed to go. As I left the Y one Monday morning, I saw Lorenzo and I said "I'll be there on Thursday!" "Okay," he said, "See you at o-five-thirty on Thursday."


5:30 A.M.??????

Needless to say, my tired butt has NOT made it there the past few Thursdays. So now they've upped the ante: the rumor has been that I'm too SCARED to go to Lorenzo's boot camp.

I decided that enough was enough, and no matter HOW much great wine we drank on Wednesday evening, I was going to GO TO BOOT CAMP, DAMMIT.

Yesterday morning, the alarm went off at 5:00. Ugh. The little voice crept into my head:
"you could just sleep. Sleep off that dinner and wine. Boot camp will only make you feel crappier. You know you want to keep sleeping. It's so cold out there. Stay here, where it's nice and warm. Could sleep for another hour or so, get up, have some coffee, read the paper, do some light stretching and get set for the day."


As I rolled out of bed, I felt a faint dizziness come over me. Was I slightly hung over? Okay, now I know I'm getting older...I drank nothing but WINE the evening WTF?. But I had to keep moving forward.

Moving very slowly, I began to get ready for boot camp. At 5:25, I closed the front door and began to jog down the street to the Y. The evil voice was still there, though. "You could turn around and still get back into bed. That dizziness would go away if you laid back down."

No way. I didn't care how bad it hurt. I had slacked enough this week. I was going to go.

As I made my way into the gym, a triumphant smile made its way across my face. Somebody said "hey...she MADE IT." A few others turned around and a loud bunch of cheers and applause erupted from my friends. "WOW! NOW LORENZO HAS TO GO TO SPIN CLASS! SHE ACTUALLY CAME," one remarked. Ha.

As for the boot camp itself, it was 30 minutes of HARD WORK!

Lunges across the gym (ouch). More push-ups than I've ever done in one session. Sprints across the gym. Ab work with Lorenzo yelling repeatedly, quickly "NEVER GIVE UP! YOU CAN'T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP, YOU CAN'T GIVE UP!"

It wasn't even so bad DURING, but now that the DOMS has begun to set in...ooooh. Upper back, legs, butt...ouch. It gave me a whole new sense of respect for the people that do this every week. Actually, I really admire their commitment overall - many of them are NOT triathletes or runners or cyclists with a strict plan - they simply go to the gym at 5:30 a.m. every day, day in and day out, committed to their fitness and routine.

I had a great time. Then I went home, showered and climbed back into bed for another hour of sleep. Now that's a way to start the morning!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Best Birthday EVER

(okay, it could've been warmer. That would have been nice.)

Big big HUGE THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to everybody who came out for the ride today. You really made my day and it just meant so much to me that I have friends who would brave 35 degree weather to join me in my crazy idea to ride this morning.

Not only was it about 35 when we met up, but the fog was THICK!! All in all, 40 miles, 1835 feet of climbing, one bakery stop and good times were had by all. The weather was pretty consistent the entire time so thank goodness for the hills I threw in there!

Even in the cold, though, we managed to get some great cycling and some good laughs in. Enjoy the pics - I enjoyed every moment of this ride! The best part was knowing we had treats in store, between stopping at the Wild Flour bakery and enjoying a great lunch at Rosso afterward.

**Also: a HUGE thank you to Lee for providing extra clothing for my friends to wear!! That was a huge day saver, Lee. :)

Just click on the album below - it will take you to my Picasa album - much easier than posting all the photos here!

Sarah's Birthday Ride

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Birthday Ride - 12/7/08

So here's the birthday ride route. Just about 40 miles, 1585 feet of climbing and includes a stop at the Wildflower Bakery in Freestone, of course. :) Some of Sonoma County's best scenery, including my most favorite road - Bohemian Highway!

If you want to come out and ride, join in the fun! We're meeting at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar at 8:30 a.m., shoving off by 8:45 a.m. As JP would say, "ressies" for Rosso at 12:00 p.m.!!

I can't wait, wooo!!

Oh and...Happy Holidays

Most people have probably already seen this but I couldn't resist posting it for any of you who haven't. It's pretty cool - all the sounds are from bike parts!

From Specialized...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I decided to play tourist a couple weeks ago after my XC race in Golden Gate Park; I drove through the Presidio and snapped some photos on this gorgeous day...

UPDATE: Thanks for everybody's comments on the Alcatraz Tri post. And Greg, thanks for seeing the light. I just wanted to share that if you're really intent on the idea of swimming from Alcatraz, there are plenty of other events around here that allow you to do that. AND there's also another Alcatraz Tri - it's not the 'official' "Escape From Alcatraz" Triathlon; it's called "Escape from the Rock" and is put on by Envirosports - costs $175 to do it and you don't have to enter a lottery. How about that? There's also a duathlon that is just the swim/run (thanks, Arthur!) called the Alcatraz Challenge. There are a few other swim-only events as well - I will do some info gathering and post the different events for people in case they're interested.

I've got a zillion thoughts flying through my mind right now, so much to write and say, never enough time to get it all down.

One decision I've made is to take a little more time with some of my posts (inspired by a wonderful conversation I recently had about writing). Some posts will continue to be the same 'this-and-that' nature with random things thrown in, others will be longer and more prose-like (like my Thanksgiving post). I miss writing in that style and I recently realized that I got away it. I thought I was keeping my writing practice going with this blog, but as I looked through posts of late, I realized that I wasn't really writing in the style I favor most.

And I had to ask: what IS the purpose of my blog?

I know, I know, such a SERIOUS question to ask on my blog, isn't it? Before you know it I might be pondering the purpose of life.

Not really. I ask the question of purpose not to invoke deep philosophical thoughts of 'why do we blog?' but more to invoke the thought of 'where do I want to take this?' During the race season, we pepper our blogs with our stories of pre-race jitters, race foibles and successes, and post-race assessment of what we learned and how next time will be better.

And I enjoy that. It is so great to go back to old race stories and see how much I've grown, or re-live the memory of my first Wildflower, or my first triathlon.

But what about the in-between? I mean, in-between the training sessions, too. I enjoy using my blog as an outlet to express my frustrations (read: Escape From Alcatraz Tri) and random thoughts. However, I also think it is the perfect opportunity to take up the practice of challenging myself to write in a more structured manner. It is something I really enjoy but really don't do much of anymore.

SO, if you occasionally happen on a post that is more serious or less conversational, that is what it is!

ON a more conversational note, I had a great run last night. I don't say that very often it seems, but it really was. Tuesday Track workouts are now Tuesday Street-run workouts, where we run through the neighborhoods and go hard for two blocks, easy for one, then hard for two, etc. We did twelve of those. I had a ball! Slightly less hardcore than track workouts, but still a good push and in spite of the upper-forty-degree temps we were running in, I was still drenched in sweat (which actually made me colder when we slowed down...brrr).

I was also very proud that Holly showed up. That's TWO people I've recruited to join in the workouts on Tuesdays!

Tonie, Holly and I at the Girls on the Run 5K

Not only was I happy because I like it when more people join the fun (and/or pain), but I am convinced that anybody who goes to these workouts regularly will really see benefits. I know I see improvements in my running since I started. Group workouts are so wonderful in the way that you push yourself harder than you might if it were just you, yourself

Somebody was recently telling me about how, as a Team in Training coach, it is so rewarding for him to see how far his runners come - to being able to run a marathon from their first days where running two miles was a big deal.

It was very similar last night. Holly exclaimed excitedly after we finished, "WOW! I looked at my Garmin and I was running at a pace I've NEVER run at before!" I smiled outside but I was really beaming on the inside because I just know she's going to continue to see improvements. It was so incredible to feel like I played a small part in initiating growth and improvement for someone.

I was also really impressed with her motivation to partake. The people who do the Tuesday run workouts are FAST. I think anybody who's somewhat new to running would be intimidated to join in. But I convinced Holly that it's a very welcoming group. As I ran up to meet the group, there she was! Now, let's hope she comes back...

I took this last weekend on my ride out to Napa. This was riding through Kenwood (Kunde Vineyards), still in Sonoma County...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Because I have so much money lying around

I am SO steamed right now.

One of my friends forwarded an email to our tri list: "FYI the Escape from Alcatraz Lottery opened today."

I thought "hm, that sounds cool. Let me check it out."

I did the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon back in 2006. Good race. Kind of cramped on the bike course and I almost crashed about 5 times. The swim is kind of cold and while I really enjoyed it at first by the end I kept thinking "omg I am so cold I just want to finish I need to swim faster." The run was actually the best part, now that I think about it.

But I would do it again. Local race, good spectatorship - why not?


For an Olympic-distance race (okay, the run is 8 miles and the swim is about 1.5 miles...but the bike is only 18 miles).

$400, just like that.

Gee, for $400...I could enter a half-ironman, an olympic AND a sprint race. Or I could buy a Garmin and still enter a half-ironman. Or I could put that away toward a Power Tap. Or...

This is where my real issue with this sport comes in. Why so cost-prohibitive? "Yeah, you want to have the privilege of "Escaping" from Alcatraz? That'll be $400, please. Cough it up and deal."

Oh, I'm sorry, if you're poor-er (because you really can't be poor to do triathlon...or if you are, you'd better have credit) you'll just have to do the more local no-name races. Yep, sorry.

I am so tired of races fees going up and up and up. When I did this race only TWO YEARS AGO it cost me $230. That's a price increase of almost 100% in TWO YEARS.

So I say no thank you to the Escape from Alcatraz. They can kiss my Envirosports-supporting bum.

It's Monday: Time to Weigh In

I seem to get further and further behind in writing about the things I want to write about. I still have yet to post about the Girls on the Run 5K, still have yet to write about our last XC race, and really would like to write about my fabulous ride from Santa Rosa to Napa, along with a report of the ride the day after.

But maybe later I'll do the Reader's Digest Condensed Version and that will have to be that.

Or I should stop having fun weekends so that I won't have anything to write about. Ha, yeah right!

In any case, I just wanted to remind you that if you're playing the Winter Weight Challenge, it's WEEK 3: head over to Maggs's blog and weigh in!

Oh...and I caved. I went back to Facebook. I almost made it a month but then...I just had to go back. IT'S LIKE CRACK!

Honestly, I just missed the interaction I was having with my friends. The coolest thing was that when I went back, my friend Alison had just posted pictures of her and her NEWBORN BABY! I would've totally missed out on that, had I stayed away. And there are more babies to come from some other friends, too. Along with engagement announcements from two friends. Granted, they're not friends I talk with regularly outside of Facebook, but they are old friends that I'm happy to be in touch with. So there.