Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lessons Learned From The Stomach Virus

1. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms is INVALUABLE. I don't care how long we've been together, that was one experience Seth and I were happy to live through on separate levels of the house.

2. Dogs are wonderful nurses. Buster dutifully rotated watch every few hours, splitting his time equally between the two of us. I love him.

3. Gatorade is my best friend.

4. White bread and applesauce are highly underrated. I don't care what their nutritional value is, they are delicious little gems and I love them.

5. Bed rest is probably one of the worst experiences in life. Thank goodness for the ability to work from home. Pretty sure in 24 hours we made it through 4 movies. Maybe it was 5.

6. Even if you wait the requisite 36-48 (I made that up) hours to return to work, people will blame you for their illnesses for the next 10 days. It doesn't really matter if their symptoms match yours, just that fact that you were infected with something incriminates you.

7. Losing everything (in terms of bodily fluids) will make you question how you ever enjoyed anything. A week later, I'm still leery of dairy, dairy substitutes, and pretty much any food that isn't soup. (Starbucks is a little sad, and wondering where on earth I am, given the polar vortex of doom that is plaguing my lifemost of the country.)

8. Boys are wimps. If I hadn't been incapacitated, I may have taken more offense to the fact that a certain someone insisted on calling his mother multiple times, to ensure my diagnosis and directions were accurate.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why am I doing this?

Why another marathon? Why another 16 weeks of 5am wake-ups, freezing cold runs, and skin that has been rubbed off from miles of resistance?
Because I can.

More than that, because I have the opportunity to raise support and awareness for a great group. As I work my way into adulthood, I have far less money than I would like to donate to the wonderful organizations that rely on the generosity of many. But I have found that when you give someone the option of running 26 ish miles or donating $50, that $50 looks pretty appealing. (Hint, this is where you come in.)

This year, I'm raising money for Gilda’s Club of Nashville. Gilda's is more than just a physical place where people meet and connect, it’s a community. Their mission, "to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community." says it all. I am firm, deep believer in the power of community. We see it around us every day- people reaching out to offer support to the people around them when they need it. Dinner for the family with a new baby, watching the neighbor's children when school is close again, someone there to lend a sympathetic ear when you're just stretched to your limits. An online community for people to share the miles they've run for those who no longer can. Communities give us strength, confidence, and the resources we need every day, and that is why I am wholeheartedly happy to support the community  has created.

It's hard to think of a single person who hasn't been touched by cancer. There's no need to count the number of friends and family who have seen loved ones through chemo, radiation, surgeries, recoveries. Knowing how many names we can name that we have lost to cancer only affirms how large this community of people is, and how valuable places like Gilda's Club are.

From now until race day, I will be collecting donations for Gilda's Club. They offer their services at no cost, and it takes the generosity and help of people like you to help them offer these wonderful programs. Whether it's $5, $50, or some other number with a 5 in it, please consider giving.

Personally, I like options, so options I will offer. Please choose the level of sponsorship that most closely aligns with your ability to give:

Platinum- In it to win it: Platinum level sponsors will accompany me to Nashville and complete the marathon with me! Platinum status requires no direct donation to my campaign, comes with free room and board in Nashville, and requires sponsor to cover all race entries and travel fees associated with the race. No one has ever run a race with me before. It's a pacing thing- or it could be that I choose races a little far from all my training friends- but it would be so great to have someone I know run this with me. The accomodations (aka my parents' house) do include two coffee machines and chocolates on your pillow. So there's that to consider.

Gold- Money where my mouth is: Sponsors at this level say they want to help, and they do. By donating money. A little money or a little more money. It's all money and it all goes to good use. For every gold-level sponsor, I will make an additional donation to Gilda's Club. Donations can easily be made via my online donation site, or in person. 100% of your donation goes to programs at Gilda's.

Silver- Paying it forward: Maybe you are still dealing with Christmas credit card repercussions. Maybe Girl Scout cookie season left you tapped out. If you can't make a monetary donation and are unable to join me in Nashville, you can make a donation by helping someone out. It doesn't have to be someone impacted by cancer, but it very well could be. Whether it's a meal, a movie, a walk, babysitting, yardwork, or a weekly phone call to let someone know you care about their life, reach out. Bring a little piece of Gilda spirit to your corner of the world, and make sure the people around you feel supported. Support the people you love by making sure you are healthy. Exercise. Drink a lot of water. Cut back on the bacon. You can also share my site on Facebook, Twitter, or your weekly work newsletter (kidding. kind of.) to give other people the opportunity to support a great group: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/LeighDorris/gildas-gang-2014

Bronze- Feeding Frenzy: Donations of Swedish Fish, brownies, and Lindt Sea Salt dark chocolate bars are always accepted as training fuel for this run. Please contact me for direct mailing information.

I hope you'll consider donating, I hope you'll share your Silver Sponsor moments here. More than anything, I hope you invest time, energy, in love in building the communities that mean the most to you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thank You Interwebs

After the lovely break of holidays where I read books and magazines (plural!) I’m back in the loop, ready to share my announcements. Thanks to the beauty of the world wide wonder, I can tell you all at the same time without killing any trees. Winning.

We’re getting a puppy. There really is no rational reason for bringing an 8 week old needy being that requires time, attention, and patience into our wacky little world. We have the world’s most perfect dog, we have a routine (sort of) down, and we are busy. (Seriously, our next door neighbor saw us the other day and said she was afraid we had moved out because she hadn’t seen us in so long. #neverhome #savesonheating)
Basically, what it boils down to is Seth wants Buster to train our next dog to be as perfect as he is. We bring our little lady home mid-February. I have a list of about 20 names for our new girl. I can’t be stopped and I can’t make a decision. I will show you pictures and you will love her too. Here’s hoping that Buster will remember how much he liked having a sister quickly.

I am not exotic. Of my four best college girlfriends, one has been living in Hawaii for the last year, on her way to Australia. One is Oregon, packing her things to move to England for a few years. One moved to New Jersey. The other one is getting crazy with Northern Virginia traffic, so I guess she’s about as exotic as I am, but slightly more daring. It’s not like I expected us all to stay in Virginia after college, within comfortable driving distance of each other forever (would have been nice.) but I can’t say I was quite prepared for all these passport-required locales. My main goal for them is to have babies ASAP so their children will grow up with charming accents. Because really, what is cuter than a child with a British accent? (Maybe my puppy.)

I registered to run another marathon. The Country Music Marathon in Nashville on April 26th, to be exact. The same one I ran last year. It was two nights before Christmas, we were at a party, I was catching up with one of my mom’s best girlfriends about an organization she works with that will be fundraising through the marathon and half marathon and how they need people, and it just sort of rolled out of my mouth. “I’ll do it.” I said I’d do it. I didn’t commit to the half or the full, just said I’d do it. Over the next few days, I thought about what I’d done. Did I want to do this again? Was I really up for the training, the time, THE COLD, and the laundry that accompany trainign for a spring marathon? And then it was a couple of days before the end of the year when registration costs would increase, so I did it. Whipped out my tired, battle-weary credit card, entered my birthdate, and registered. I can’t wait to tell you more about it, but I am officially back in training. (Read: eating all the time.)

I have roughly 5 posts 1/2 written that I haven’t put up. Now I just need to figure out how long past New Year’s it’s acceptable to talk about Christmas…

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 20, 2014

RVA Love

Whether you park your car in Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfield, or even Goochland, you probably claim Richmond as your home.You may even have an RVA sticker on your car. We all enjoy the laid back summer evenings at Friday Cheers on Brown's Island, we all take visitors to Carytown for tasty food and unique shopping, we all delight in the stately homes of Monument Avenue and the mix of tasteful and tacky lights they wear during the holidays. 

What we don't all enjoy or share equal interest in are the needs for improvements within the city limits. The LovingRVA proposal and other discussions around the location of a ball field engage city residents with little effort because there are immediate concerns of taxes, parking, and changes to their neighborhoods. Those of us living in the counties sometimes add our two cents to the discussion, but feel little pressure to engage because, hey, it's not our decision. I don't live within the city limits (anymore) but I do spend a great deal of my time in Richmond. I love the city, I love the people I've met and the places I've discovered, and I love the opportunities I've been afforded in my time here. I feel responsible. 

There is a great deal of controversy around the proposal to put a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom. Costs, historical significance, and the location itself (hello floodplain) are top of everyone's mind. This is a given- you'll always have both sides of the fence with such a complex, transformational, massive undertaking. What distresses me is the amount of apathy and sheer disinterest that also surrounds the plan. Nine and a half times out of ten, when I ask someone what they think about the idea, their response is "Yeah, aren't they talking about moving the ball park to Shockoe Bottom?" or "I hadn't really heard anything about it." People aren't taking the time to learn about the proposal or the alternatives. They don't know what it would cost to build downtown, what it would cost to stay on the Boulevard, who is or isn't committed to coming to Richmond with the plan, or what the implications are either way. They haven't driven by the proposed site for the ballpark (currently a parking lot in disrepair), tried to visit the Lumpkins' jail site (primarily underground, to protect it from flooding). These are people who have families, who go to Flying Squirrels' games, who have eaten at Havana 59 and Juleps.

I feel responsible when I walk through the fan and know that I'll probably never live there with children because too many of the city schools are struggling, and I can't afford private school tuition. I feel a little guilty when developers point out that there is no place in the city of Richmond, north of the river, to purchase a TV. When I spend large chunks of change (rare though it may be), that tax revenue is going to the counties. We fret over crime in Shockoe Bottom and sidewalks in disrepair, yet we leave them no fighting chance (and no budget) because we spend our money outside the city limits. We don our black and gold every March to show our VCU pride, but we forget that no property tax is being collected on that those 88 acres of city land.

I love the city. I want to see the river become a destination for more people and businesses. I want to see small businesses thriving, I want to feel like I am supporting the infrastructure I use every week with my tax dollars.

A great many people have put a great deal of time, energy, and passion into this plan. They no doubt have different sources of motivation and reasons for wanting to see this through. Whatever those reasons, they have made a significant effort on behalf of and benefiting the city of Richmond, and I want to encourage people to make an effort of their own. 
Learn about the plan. Ask questions. Share your opinion. Encourage others to educate themselves.

Politics and government are not words that have ever given me warm fuzzies or want to take time away from things I enjoy. I have been disgusted by shut downs, maneuvers, smear campaigns, and scandals. I struggle to conceive how anything ever gets done with so many hidden agendas and egos in the mix. 

To me, this isn't politics and we aren't the government. We're people. Citizens. Heck yes, I have an agenda: 
I want my city to be better. 
I don't want to have to explain to people why Richmond, Virginia is an amazing place to live- I want them to know it, the way people know Austin, Denver, and Nashville. 
I want people to be able to appreciate the impressive aspects of our history, along with the sobering and the tragic. 
I want people to understand how we arrived at where we are, how much has changed, and feel inspired to support positive changes for the future. 
I want a place in Shockoe Bottom that is like the downtown mall in Charlottesville- a town square where you can sit outside and drink coffee for hours, window shop, hear music, run, walk your dog, see and be seen. 
I want Shockoe Bottom to be a source of pride, not one of shame we simply rush by on 95.
I want to have excuses to go inside that beautiful old train station. 
I want my brothers and my favorite people to have to come up with reasons NOT to move to Richmond.

There are a lot of things I want, but this is long enough already. I hope you'll take the time to learn about the plans. If you like them, do something about it. If you don't like them, do something about it. It's not just about your commute to work, where I want to send my future children to school, or the threat of big box stores on Boulevard; It's about the space we inhabit and the communities we create.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Of Absolutely No Consequence

Just some things that have been floating around in my head. I find that once I write them down, they stop pestering me.

I may have an affinity for stripes. The other day I counted 8 striped tops hanging in my closets. It's not that I discriminate, I'm all for polka dots too, I just seem to find more stripes these days. Which means this song, a current favorite of my Nashville-based mother, means nothing to me. 

Cold weather hurts my soul. I genuinely don't comprehend how people function in places like Chicago (A high of -8 today. High. Negative.) If I were an employer, I would never base my company in the mid-west/Northeast/Canada. I mean, I can hardly expect my employees to show up and function when I have to pep talk myself into leaving the house with cups of hot tea and layers of fleece. I would appreciate one pretty snow to justify this hideously uncomfortable weather, and then spring is welcome to present itself. 

Know what's great? Reading. Reading actual books and full magazines instead of just blog posts and status updates. I went into vacation with a stack of 5 unread magazines (those holiday gift guides were super handy after the fact. Not.) I have read 2 full novels. I got all fired up about this re-discovered activity and ordered 2 new books from Amazon last night. One was delivered instantaneously to my Kindle. (Well, not exactly instantaneously. I hadn't turned the thing on in 18 months, but once I found it, found the charger, and charged it for a solid hour, it was right there in my hands. Talk about instant gratification.)

Quick tangent- in theory, I don't love the whole e-reader thing. I love books and libraries and seeing how many pages you have left to go. I get frustrated with no page numbers and letting your thumb rest for too long and suddenly being 87 pages ahead with no discernible trace of your place in the book. However, living with someone who likes to collect furniture volumes (I do mean volumes. These things are HUGE and weigh A LOT. And there are a lot of them.) I have come to appreciate the convenience of storing all my stories in one compact location that does not require dusting or stacking every time we re-arrange the house. (Approximately every 6 weeks.)

Buster just warms my heart. If I go to make up the bed, he comes into the bedroom. Go upstairs to do laundry, he accompanies me. His position of choice involves his body touching my legs, preferably with his face tucked away under my legs. He's a cuddler and I love it. You simply cannot look at a face that small, with eyes that dark and not feel a puddle of love sloshing around in your stomach.

They made Swedish Fish candy canes this year. I wasn't aware until I found a box in the 70% off section at Target the other day. They were phenomenal and solid red (looks great on a tree). Had I been informed earlier in the season, I would have bought enough boxes to decorate my tree and ensure the manufacturers saw enough demand to repeat them next year (which is actually this year). Also good news, I'm not scheduled to visit the dentist until March so hopefully I can eat enough apples and vegetables by then that all traces of candy cane will be out of my teeth by then.

If you're in the soup delivery business, let me know. I'll be huddling by the fire with my fur blanket and hot tea. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I hope you make mistakes

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.  Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”  ― Neil Gaiman

Shamelessly poached that from another blog I read today. I love it. Just paying it forward.

Speaking of mistakes, I was fairly confident I'd made the first one of 2014 as I was getting dressed. I had the option of working from home- an option which allows me to stay in fuzzy socks/flannel pants/fluffy robe until I feel sufficiently warm and brave enough to put on real clothes. (Typically around 1:30 pm when I worry the mailman may knock on the door with something that didn't fit in the mailbox.)

Trading my warm cocoon of cotton comfort for far less snugly work clothes (Ok, I'm wearing jeans.) felt like a big fat mistake. I decided yesterday that I would go into the office today because 3 days at home by myself was too much. With all signs of Christmas disassembled, packed away, and wrestled into their crawl space caves, the entire mountain of laundry cleaned and put away (Well, my clothes are put away. Seth's socks are a mountain on the table because I draw the line at sorting socks. Mind. Numbing. And you always end up with an odd number, so never really feel like you've 100% finished the task at hand.), and all artwork hung on the walls (read: no longer leaning against the wall!!), I was facing the reality that one more day at home would likely find me in sweatpants for the 4th day in a row and would leave me with zero excuses not to get into the bathroom and scrub the shower. 

(It's not that we have a filthy shower -just your standard 3-weeks-of-soap-scum buildup- but I have a bit of a mental block around cleaning bathrooms. I attribute it to the fact that when I was working as a housekeeper, I was the 'dry girl', and had my trusty rock star partner in crime KT as 'wet girl'. I vacuumed, made beds, emptied trash, dusted, she put gloves on and went to work with toilets and showers. 

Bathroom scrubbing avoidance is a powerful motivator. I'm not saying I think I will ever warm up today or that I won't go directly home and into flannel/sweatpants/heavy blanket mode, but I am saying that I'm kind of hoping my first mistake of the new year can be a little more significant.