march malaise

Mar 19th 2013 09:12:16 am

The first day of spring is tomorrow… but you’d never know that in Brooklyn. It snowed yesterday! It is rainy, cold, and overcast today. The cloudy coldness is bringing me down, but I really can’t place all of the blame on the weather. I need to make some changes, to my life and to my attitude.

My spring cleaning goals:

  • running – Running is discouraging. It is not fun, not energizing, not empowering. It is only discouraging. I know that it is my fault for over-doing it — three marathons in two months, plus the NYC Half on Sunday, was NOT smart — but my bad attitude is deeper than merely being burnt out. I have this unrelenting feeling that running is completely unfair and no one understands how difficult it is for me. Boohoo. I shouldn’t have such angry feelings about a freakin hobby. I am scaling back. I plan to only run two days a week (with Team in Training) and cross train a few days a week. I usually enjoy exercising, but I need to find a new activity that makes me feel fit and powerful, not sluggish and discouraged.
  • food – I have already been on a bit of a health kick. (Flax seed oatmeal with raisins and bananas for breakfast this morning!) But I want to stay committed. I have not quite decided how I feel about Mayor Bloomberg’s “soda ban”, but I know that for myself, I will always limit my refined sugar intake. I’ll never say that I am cutting out any type of food completely because I want to be a flexible and adventurous eater, but I certainly don’t need sugary beverages or processed junk food. I plan to cook at home more. Healthy dinners and lots of fruits and veggies!
  • swap-bot – Swap-bot is my constant companion and an unrelenting source of never-ending work. I don’t mind. I’ll keep working on it forever if users keep swapping… but I need to reframe my focus. I want to work harder on improving the site for ALL users, not just tread water trying to put out all the many tiny daily fires. I have said this before and I still believe it: art + community = a better world. I want to work more purposefully toward the goal of fostering creativity and friendship around the world via Swap-bot. And I want to make the site look and function better. There is a lot of work to do.
  • self – I plan to focus more on my own feelings and desires. I want to stay home more. Work on projects that improve my quality of life. Watch some tv. Make a quilt. Take it easy. I love socializing (probably too much) and I know it sounds crazy for someone who works alone everyday at home to want more time to myself, but I do. I love going out with friends, but I love hanging out with my husband more. I need to rest and recharge and remind myself that my priorities and ambitions may be different than others, and that is totally ok.

Once the sun comes out, I am sure I will be feeling more upbeat. Until then, I am going to take it easy on myself and do my best to foster my own happiness. What changes do you have planned for spring?

6 Comments » Categories: Exercise, Feeling Sad, Food, running, Swap-bot, Thinking, Work


Feb 15th 2013 12:40:10 pm

Someone very kind and special to me passed away last week.

I was lucky to have known Travis’ grandmother, Vicky Johnson, for nearly half of my life… and I will miss her for the rest of it.

Vicky was always sweet to me. Remarkably so. One small example: When I transferred to Graceland University my freshman year of college, she sent me a long, hand-written letter describing her experiences there in the 1940s. I was touched then, but now, in retrospect, that gesture seems incredibly kind and welcoming. I was just some 19-year-old girl dating her grandson then. She had no way to know if we’d last… or maybe she did.

Vicky made me feel loved. I hope I did the same for her.

Vicky painted the flowers you see above. She was very crafty and I have kept all of the handmade greeting cards she sent over the last few years.

Travis and I are on our way to California for VIcky’s funeral tomorrow. It will be good to see family.

1 Comment » Categories: Family, Feeling Sad


Dec 17th 2012 04:49:00 pm

Recommitting myself to the few things I know to be true. I will be brave. I will be kind. I will promote peace. I will spread love.

2 Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, Thinking

the only NYC Marathon to ever be cancelled

Nov 6th 2012 02:13:13 pm

This was the top I was going to wear while running the NYC Marathon on Sunday. The race was cancelled due to controversy after Hurricane Sandy.

I have a lot of conflicting and sad feelings about the entire situation. I wanted to run the NYC marathon for the second time because I love this city. I am ok with the cancellation, but there were a lot of hurtful things said about runners in the past week that really discouraged me.

Of course, my running team has been helping out after the storm. We are a charity organization, after all. We’ve given money, food, gear, and more than 100 Team in Training runners (who had raised 2.2 MILLION dollars for cancer research while training for the NYC marathon) went to Staten Island on Sunday to help the recovery and clean up process. We will continue to help.

A few related links: Some thoughts on why the NYC Marathon could have been good for the city. | My friend Carmen sums up the roller coaster week. | If you want to volunteer to help Hurricane Sandy recovery in NYC, check out | I’m hosting a “Swap-bot for Sandy” hurricane relief donation drive. Our site members have already donated more than $700 for the Red Cross. Join us!

7 Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, New York, running, Team In Training

hurricane sandy

Oct 31st 2012 12:32:06 pm

Travis and I are feeling very fortunate. We made it through Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn without any trouble — we had power, cable, internet, food, water, etc throughout the storm — but the rest of New York City and the region was hit hard. The subway system is still down. Power is out in many sections of the city. Fire, wind, and water destroyed many homes and businesses.

This is the view from our window in Park Slope right before the storm hit on Monday evening. Just a little cloudy and a bit of rain.

The view from our window late on Monday night during the storm. Pork Slope stayed open until midnight!

This incredible photo is from The New York Times building during the storm on Monday night. You can see the power outage in lower Manhattan on the right side of the photo.

Leaves and debris are everywhere in our neighborhood, but overall, Park Slope is ok. Life seems to be getting back to semi-normal this morning in our neighborhood…

Travis’ Appnexus offices are still without power, so he is working from home with me. We are working to keep our businesses running as normally as possible, but we are also thinking about ways to help those in need… here are a few links to ways we can all help:

It is going to take a long time for the city to recover, but so far, the NYC Marathon is scheduled to go on as planned on Sunday. It is strange, but with all of the worries over the hurricane, I almost forgot about the marathon. If it happens, I will run. I am not in a celebratory mood, but the marathon is a small way to show and celebrate how strong and resilient NYC is. I guess we’ll see what happens…

5 Comments » Categories: Brooklyn, Feeling Sad, New York, Photos


Apr 30th 2012 08:03:03 pm

I haven’t been sharing as much about my marathon training this season, but I am still at it. I’ll be running the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon with TNT in less than five weeks, on June 3rd.

Look at that beautiful team! The Brooklyn Summer Team in Training crew headed to New Jersey on Saturday to take part in the Clinton Township Country Run 15k. It was a fun road trip and a great day.

I had a good race. I ran a 10:29 min/mile pace, which is not my fastest race pace, but a strong tempo run pace for me for 9.3 miles. I was happy with my run.

BUT… I was third to last of our team to finish and very near the back of the pack of total race participants. I am always in the second half of finishers in all of the races I run, and this 15K was a small race with under 400 runners, so I am cool with my place and time. BUT!! I am mad on behalf of all of the back-of-the-packers out there.

Our last team finisher maintained a very solid, sub 15 min/mile pace and had a really good run, yet the race organizers were already taking down the mile markers before she (and those runners behind her — because there were plenty) reached them!!! How discouraging! Most races allow for at least a 16 min/mile pace, and I think even that is restrictive. It frustrates me that this community-focused race couldn’t wait for all of the finishers to go by before cleaning up!

Everyone is different!! Not everyone is born an elite or even talented runner. We all run at different speeds and are at different points in our training. I will never run a 7 minute mile. No matter how much I train, I will never be fast. I have been working hard for two years straight and my race times have barely budged. That doesn’t matter. I must exercise and I enjoy running. And I like running road races. I compete with no one other than myself… and I think that is plenty.

Race organizers should state their time and/or pace limits and stick to them. No closing up shop before all of the runners are in. TNT is great about that. Our teams cheer in every last runner. I think that the broader running community could work harder to adopt the same attitude.

It takes a lot of courage to do something that you are not the best at. We should celebrate all effort. Running is running. Plus, no matter how speedy and skilled we are now, we are all going to be in the Masters division someday… I think we will be glad when we are older and (probably) slower that we helped to foster a supportive and encouraging running atmosphere for all speeds, body types, skill levels, and ages.

6 Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, running, Team In Training, Travel

violence and guilt

Dec 7th 2011 09:00:51 am

This is a sad story.

The tragic, gruesome news of the awful murder in a Lululemon store in Bethesda in March and this piece about the bystander effect, have had me thinking about a past murder…

During college I worked for an art magazine run by a couple who I thought at the time were quite demanding, but who were actually very kind, helpful, and supportive. Their office (seen above) was located next door to a bank in a tiny strip mall in the wealthy suburb of Leawood, Kansas. I worked for them every summer. They were in the long process of moving their office and home from Kansas to New Hampshire, and I often manned the office while they were traveling back and forth. There were other part-time workers off and on, but I was often alone.

Generally, I opened mail, answered phones, scanned images for articles, designed ads, and shipped out back issue orders… on June 18th, 2002, I think I was working on organizing the subscription database. I remember I was doing something dull that day, and I remember that day specifically because about 100 yards away, in broad daylight, a 19-year-old girl was raped and murdered in the maintenance shed of the neighborhood pool.

Of course, I didn’t find out about the murder until I left work in the evening and went home to my parents’ house in the next suburb over. Benjamin Appleby, a convicted felon with a pool cleaning business, had strangled Ali Kemp while I was busy checking addresses on a computer screen in our office across the street from the pool.

I was a 21-year-old college senior. Ali would have been sophomore at KState. We were both diligently working our summer jobs. We didn’t know each other.

For a split second after learning of the murder, I thought, “it could have been me,” but I’m actually strangely defiant when it comes to NOT allowing criminals to scare me or dictate my behavior, so I didn’t actually ever feel scared. Not even when I had to return to the office alone the next day.

I did, and still do, feel guilty. I had never been in that pool in my life and had no reason whatsoever to go into it that day, but what if I had? Could I have prevented the crime? Why couldn’t I have psychically felt a disruption in the force and told the bank security guard to go check things out?

I actually had thoughts like that for a long time… I guess I still do.

It was such a random crime. I don’t have the exact numbers but I would guess that the city of Leawood has less than one murder per decade. It took the police three years to catch Appleby. He was arrested in Connecticut in 2004, and in addition to DNA evidence, I think he eventually confessed. He is in prison.

Perhaps each of us will either knowingly or unknowingly be in close proximity to violent crime at some point in our lives. I was not a true “bystander” during Ali Kemp’s murder. There was no way that I could have known that a crime was being committed. However, if I ever am a witness to violence, you can be sure that I will not stand by. I will take action.

No Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, Thinking, Work


Aug 15th 2011 10:02:39 am

Peaks and valleys. You have to have the valleys in order to enjoy the peaks, right? Well, I have been in an enthusiasm valley for the last two weeks…

Travis got me those colorful flowers on Friday to lift my spirits. He says he likes to get sunflowers because they remind him of Kansas. Very sweet.

A lot of my bummer mood has to do with my marathon training. I still feel like I haven’t made any progress and the workouts seem harder than ever, even when I try to take it easy. It is frustrating. Everyone seems to have some sort of solution for me, but basically it all comes down to, “just run faster.” Like as if that hasn’t been my goal all along… I haven’t been a fun person to run with lately. One of my patient and kind Team in Training coaches really summed it up: I need a WIN. I need to have a success that I can feel good about in order to fire up my enthusiasm again. I hope it happens soon.

Work has been very similar… working everyday to get as much done as possible, but never quite accomplishing enough. BUT, the awesome news is that Swap-bot members are pretty great. Many have been helping us with our Team In Training fundraising in exchange for a little swag pack of Swap-bot goodies. I am mailing out 30 more packages today! wow!

It rained all day yesterday, so I just stayed in, rested, and tried to be kind to myself. Hopefully, this week will be an enthusiasm win!

7 Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, running, Swap-bot, Team In Training

it’s not so bad…

Jun 7th 2011 03:50:17 pm

I am feeling discouraged today. The internet feels especially negative lately.

Let’s see if I can scrounge up some positives…

Leftover strawberry-rhubarb pie made by my friend, Lauren
“Super Bass” by Nikki Minaj
“Antiques Roadshow” went to Eugene, OR, and found a $500,000 Norman Rockwell painting!
Tonight is the kick-off for the fall Team In Training season – and Travis is training this season!!
List me a few more in the comments…

Off topic: Should I spring for HBO so that I can watch True Blood and Game of Thrones? Or, just wait it out and get ‘em on Netflix?

4 Comments » Categories: Art, Crusher, Feeling Sad, music, Team In Training, Thinking

I’d never make it in Starfleet…

Jan 27th 2011 11:04:17 pm

So…. I read this article today. It is sort of about “mommy blogging,” but more specifically about a subset of female bloggers that happen to be Mormon and sort of happen to be perfect in every way. Perfect in every way on their blogs, any way.

I don’t really care for the predictable arguing that results from this type of article and plays out in its comments (“religious people are simple-minded” “nuh uh. liberals and feminists are jerks” …that sort of thing), but I can relate to a lot of the feelings expressed in the article, like how some more mainstream parenting blogs “make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety,” and if the more perfect bloggers can “help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap, I say, ‘Right on.’” But that is not what I wanted to post about… I wanted to post about my low self esteem.

Do you think some people are fundamentally just better than others? I know that a blog is a curated view of a person’s life and that no one’s life is perfect, but some of these blogging women are just too much to handle. (And not just cheery mormons — the perfect woman comes in all types! Like her, and her, and her, and her, and her, and so many more I must stop myself before I go crazy.) Their perfection makes me depressed. How can they have a beautiful house, perfect clothes (some of which they make themselves and others that they carefully collected from adorable vintage boutiques), beautiful children and/or a fab career, home baked cakes, cute crafts, peppy parties, hipster husbands, and cute thick-rimmed eyeglasses, etc etc etc… plus, the lovely design sense, writing skill, and photography prowess to make it all look fantastic on the internet? I mean, I try. I’ve been blogging for over seven years, but I can’t make my life look that good.

It’s like on Star Trek — everything in life relates back to Star Trek, obvs — only the best got into Starfleet Academy. And everyone in Starfleet Academy was uniquely perfect in their own way. Of course, they were all physically and mentally superior to their peers, but they also had unique and intellectual hobbies, like horticulture or playing concertos on the violin, and they read Shakesphere or did Tai Chi in their spare time. I know, I know. Star Trek is just a tv show. But that is how I feel about these perfect lady bloggers. They are in Starfleet and I am just some lame colonist trying to scrape out an existence on some distant desert planet. ugh. I’m nearly 30. Shouldn’t I have grown beyond all of this self doubt and jealousy?

Speaking of turning 30, what else do I need for my party? These are the things I have planned so far:

Sounds like a party to me! (whew. That cheered me up a bit.)

13 Comments » Categories: Birthday, design, Fashion, Feeling Sad, Home, Lovely Things, Thinking

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I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.





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