Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: Master of Forgiveness

July 18, 1918-Dec. 5, 2013
"Nelson Mandela was a master of forgiveness."

That's perhaps the most poignant sentence I've read in all the stories about Nelson Mandela's death. I'm learning that forgiving others just may be the greatest act of freedom we can give ourselves. It's not saying what they've done to us is OK. But it's saying we choose to not let that wrong make us bitter, destroy our lives and rob us of our joy. It's definitely hard work -- this thing of forgiveness. May my life always be marked by forgiving others.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's almost time!


I love this time of the year. All of a sudden, my inbox starts filling up with coupons to some of my favorite eateries. We're a week out from blast off but we're definitely getting the celebration started early. Definitely makes getting older more palatable. Hehe.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Celebrating Lydia

We gathered this evening to celebrate my friend Lydia and her fiance Korri ahead of their upcoming nuptials. The setting was the beautiful and stately Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum -- evocative of Lydia's personality and spirit.

Lydia, whom I often refer to as X (her middle initial), has been a friend for almost a decade. We first met at a conference of the National Association of Black Journalists. Then she moved to Knoxville for a job at the News Sentinel, my former employer, and our friendship deepened from there. Our cubicles were right next to one other in the newsroom and we undertook all manner of mischief inside and outside the office.

I'm thrilled to be her friend and I look forward to walking alongside her and Korri in their marriage journey.

Lydia & Korri from this summer. (Didn't get a chance to grab one tonight)

Me, Lydia and Megan before the festivities began.

The Knoxville Botanical Garden is magnificent!

I was wandering the grounds when I saw this sight.

For more photos from Lydia's engagement party, visit my Flickr account.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A right perspective

I ended last week with car troubles and started this one with plumbing issues at home. (Dead car starter. Backed up kitchen sink and bathtub. Not pretty. I may have said some not nice words as a result of all this.)

I walked into the office yesterday morning and saw this reminder taped to my computer: "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ( 1 Thess. 5:16-18.)

Thankful for the reminder to keep the right perspective and a good attitude in all things.
Happy Wednesday, y’all.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Random acts of chocolate

Ever been the target of a random act of chocolate?
That was me last night. Got home after a looong day and opened my screen door to find this:


Imagine my surprise. Inside were these:


The gift came from my friend Ansley who lives in Chicago. She happened to be passing through Knoxville and decided to pay me a visit. She came bearing sweets in honor of the chocolate drawer I kept while at the News Sentinel and one I have now at UT. (Ansley and I met while we were both reporters at the newspaper.)

The thing is, I hadn't seen Ansley in at least a year, if not more. Yesterday, she was in Knoxville just for two hours but she made a detour to come see me. Too bad I wasn't home. Her gift and thoughtfulness totally made my day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Halfway to a master's degree

I did something a couple of weeks ago that I never want to do again: I pulled an all-nighter for the first time in like 13 years. It was awful. But I got the 20-page paper done for my public health class. A couple of finals later, I concluded the grad school summer term.

I am now officially a second year graduate student and I am stoked. The end is near and I can almost taste it. This time next year, I'll be finishing up and will hopefully have in hand my Master of Public Policy and Administration from UT.

Onward!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Plucky!


The pluckiest of all Plucky dogs turns 9 today! Woo hoo!

This 35 pounds of loving has been a faithful companion for almost a decade. Funny though, when I first got him, the vet said he would be no more than 18-20 pounds. But I was suspicious because of his large paws. He just kept growing, and growing...and growing. I've often been asked about his breed. Well, he's the best kind, of course: a mystery dog.

What's the origin of his name, you ask? He came to me with the name, ahem, Blackie. Um, yeah...no. Since he was already responding to it, I looked in the dictionary for something that sounded similar and henceforth, he became Plucky. Plucky means bold and courageous...which he's not always. Let's just say he's still growing into his name. :)

Here's to many more years together, Plucky dog. I hope you live forever.

CrossFit Diaries: pull-ups and such

After four months of CrossFit, I finally succeeded in doing one dead hang pull-up this morning without the assistance of bands. Well, one and a half, technically. (My shoulders were toast from our burpee-push up workout so I couldn't do more than that. Excuses, excuses. I know, I know.)

YAY for progress. :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2 years at UT

Source: utwebteam
Today marks my two-year anniversary on Rocky Top.

I squealed this announcement in the hallway, to which one co-worker responded, "So, I've been eating your popcorn for two years. Here's to many more."

Indeed. Looking forward to many more years of working at the University of Tennessee.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CrossFit Diaries: Deadlift milestone

200 pounds.
That's the deadlift personal record for a one rep max I set this morning at CrossFit. A month ago, I wouldn't have believed I could do this.

I love that CrossFit is making me stronger.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tara + Matthew

This is the story of a girl who met a boy when she least expected it. It's also the tale of a great God who always does immeasurably more than we can think or even imagine. Like way more.

The story goes something like this:
Tara was pretty happy with her life and found joy in traveling the world, family, her work, meeting awesome people, cooking, food adventures, and her kitty Miles (who's really a dog in a cat's body. But I digress.)

She'd been single most of her adult years and for the most part was content. She desired a husband and trusted that if God had one for her, he would bring him into her life. As Tara entered her 40s, it seemed less and less likely that it would happen. She rarely experienced meltdowns over being single. Every once in a while though, something would happen that would make her doleful. One such day was June 7, 2012. After work, she drove to Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to chat with God about her heart. He responded with a gorgeous sunset He painted just for her -- a reminder that He was in control of her life and destiny and had only wonderful plans for her life. Whether single or married, she would continue to thrive. Encouraged, our heroine Tara came down the mountain at peace.

This story takes a turn 113 days later when through a mutual friend, Tara met a guy named Matthew. Said mutual friend arranged a game night that included other acquaintances so the newly introduced Tara and Matthew would not feel too awkward. They hit it off and the rest, shall we say, is history. Or rather, God-story. Last Saturday, July 6, Tara and Matthew said "I do."

I'm delighted and thankful to have witnessed this story unfold with my own eyes and ears. Here's to a happily ever after, Tara and Matthew.

Clingman's Dome, June 7, 2012. Courtesy of Tara

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday thought

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." -- Johannes A. Gaertner

Source: childhood101.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dignity in photos

Cochabamba, Bolivia -- November 2012
From my Bolivia files:
I started this post in November 2012 after I returned from Bolivia but got sidetracked. I think this is a good time to finally finish the post. :)

I learned an important lesson about photographs while in Bolivia seven months ago through Compassion International: when taking pictures, show children in poverty at their best instead of at their worst.

It seems like a common sense concept. But that's not what often happens when you see television commercials imploring viewers to help needy children in developing countries...or when I've written stories in an effort to draw attention to the plight of others.

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for heart-wrenching photos. But I think those of us in first-world countries often forget about the humanity of those in developing countries because we are so bombarded with photos or commercials of children and families with bloated bellies and flies in their eyes. We don't see their story. We don't see their dreams.

During my time in Bolivia, I received the gift of entering the lives and homes of poor children and families. What stood out to me was not the fact that they were surviving on a few dollars a day or that some were living in squalid conditions. I saw something you and I often don't take the time to recognize: hope. The hope of parents who desired a good life for their children. The hope of children who dreamed of becoming doctors, farmers, teachers, students, moms and dads.

"We market hope," said Greg, one of our trip's team leaders.

As a parent, how would you want people to view your child? Most would want people to see their children at their best not at their worst. Compassion takes that approach when it comes to photographing children and families.

"We want to preserve their dignity in photos," Greg said.

This mindset is one of the reasons I love and appreciate Compassion. It is changing the way I tell stories, too. After all, virtually all stories have at least two sides, right? I want eyes to always see -- and the courage to tell -- both sides of a story.

This got me thinking of pictures I've taken of children during my travels around the U.S. and the world. Here are a few of my favorites of children doing what they do best: being children.

Ogbomosho, Nigeria -- September 2008

Nairobi, Kenya -- July 2008
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -- July 2008

Kansas City, Mo., March 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Megan + Bryce

Megan & Bryce arrive at their reception
I kicked off wedding season this weekend when my good friend Megan got hitched, Kentucky-style.

After a beautiful ceremony punctuated by tears and much laughter, we sashayed on over to her parent's home for a backyard reception. All I can say is wow! Megan is super creative and her personality was infused in every food, decoration and table setting.

One of the poignant moments of the church ceremony was when the pastor asked for letters written by Megan and Bryce as well as their parents. Those letters were placed in a box and they were to be opened on their anniversary. They also were to be read if there comes a time they forget why they fell in love.

I got to know Megan after she came to work at the Knoxville News Sentinel, my former employer. We sat across from each other and had our share of giggles and deep conversations. A lot of our hanging out was done outside of the office, which was pretty cool. I also hiked Mt. LeConte for the first time with her.

I'm so thankful for our friendship. It was a joy to celebrate her special day with her and Bryce in her hometown of Crestwood, Ky.

I **love** this girl. You know how I know? I stayed up waaaaay past my bedtime to see her and Bryce off around 11 p.m. (Our friend Lydia kept asking me, "Lola, are you awake?" "Are you hanging in there?" Yep and yep.)

We all lined up along the driveway with sparklers as the happy couple ran through. Fun times.
I wish them every blessing as they start their new life together.

For more pictures of the day's festivities, visit my Flickr account.

CrossFit Diaries -- Class # 36: Man makers

Today was one of those hellish (read: fun. Ha!) mornings at CrossFit.
We "warmed up" with an 800 meter run in drizzling rain and finished with three rounds of 10 kettlebell swings (think lateral raises) and 10 sumo deadlift high pulls (think upright rows) with a 35-pound kettlebell.

We then did deadlifts and worked up to our max (165 pounds for me.)

We rounded everything out with 50 man makers (I used 20-pound dumbbells.) All I can say is: sweet mother. I. was. destroyed.

Don't know what a man maker is? Here ya go:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bling x 2

There's no turning back now, y'all. I'm officially official.

I received my actual 2nd degree black belt tonight. (The test was almost a week ago.) I missed this evening's main belt ceremony because of another commitment but my master instructor James Rich waited for me. By the time I arrived, everyone was gone but Mr. Rich gave me my own private ceremony. And then he tied on my belt, which is a big deal. Why, you ask? The 1st degree black belt ceremony in the Taekwondo journey is the only one during which the master instructor ties the belt on you.

Now as a second degree, I'm on my own. BUT! I begged and gave Mr. Rich a pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top smile and he violated his policy and tied on my belt. (Deep down, I think he enjoyed it. Ha!) It meant so much to me to have him tie the first knot of my new rank.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

La pizzeria de Lola

I try to write substantive and thought-provoking blog posts whenever I can. So here goes: I MADE MY FIRST PIZZA! :)

Exciting, isn't it? I'm more thrilled that it turned out ok and it was edible and rather tasty.
The idea to make pizza took root after I got an Earthfare email coupon last week for $1 pizza dough, $1 tomato sauce and $1 mozzarella/provolone cheese blend. I thought, "What the hay? Why not?" I had chicken, peppers and onions at home so my toppings were all set.
 
On Sunday afternoon while a monsoon hammered Knoxville, I diligently rolled my dough with a bottle, piled on the goodies and popped it into the oven. About 18 minutes later, voilĂ ! I made a side salad and lunch was served.
 
I ate two more slices for lunch yesterday and finished the last two today. Turns out $3 plus tax was able to buy me three meals. Way to eat on the cheap.
 
Too much dough at the edges so my friend Kristen suggested I roll it in...

Glad I listened. The crust was yummy, as was the entire pizza!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2nd degree black belt!

Sparring during testing today. Photo courtesy of Stephen Strouss

I'm now a second degree black belt in Taekwondo!! Those words still feel a bit foreign in my mind and mouth. This news is about 12 hours fresh.

I tested this morning at my school and it went well. It's funny though, as excited as I am about this new chapter of my Taekwondo journey, I've been pensive about it all day. It wasn't my best test as I felt like some of what I did was a little sloppy. I broke all three of my boards and I did my pattern correctly. But some of my techniques could have been smoother. (Sparring was super awesome, I think, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.)

I now feel this grave sense of responsibility toward my fellow classmates and particularly toward those who are still coming through the color belt ranks behind me. I want the way I train and improve my skills to challenge and encourage them to do the same. When they look at me as a 2nd degree, I want them to think, "that's how I want my patterns and kicks to look!"

When I passed the test for my 1st degree black belt 14 months ago, I was so overwhelmed. Attaining 1st degree black belt felt like the holy grail of martial arts. But I quickly realized the journey had really just begun. I had been learning and adding building blocks to the basics of Taekwondo during the three years before 1st degree.

Now in my fourth year of training and a 2nd degree black belt, I recognize that I'm still very much a learner, not an expert. And I love it. I always want to be teachable and I look forward to continued growth. I am so grateful for my master instructor James Rich and the other instructors at our school who are helping me along in the journey.

I also want to give a special shout out to my friend Kristen who traveled from Franklin to spend the weekend with me and attend my testing to cheer me on.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mediterranean Irish?

The sweetest 90-year-old man called me at work yesterday for some help with a University of Tennessee item. Just before he hung up, he said, “You’re Mediterranean Irish, aren’t you? I can tell from your name.”

Um, not exactly.

When I told him I was of Nigerian lineage, the phone went quiet for a few seconds. He then apologized profusely and said HE was Mediterranean Irish. I guess he thought he'd stumbled upon a kinswoman. We had a good laugh about it and then we hung up.

It gets better. The guy, John, called back this morning to follow up on his request. Turns out he's a music composer from New Jersey and asked for my address to send me one of his recordings. Once I listen to it, he wants me to call him back with feedback. I think I just made a friend.

I love these kinds of random life experiences.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Black belt conference

Knoxville crew at the Taekwondo America Black Belt Conference
I just returned from a glorious weekend of learning how to better kick butt.
A crew of six from our martial arts school, James Rich's Taekwondo, spent Thursday through Sunday at the Taekwondo America Black Belt Conference at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The conference was a chance to sharpen our skills through a variety of clinics and workouts ranging from sparring strategy to kicking and punching target drills. Saturday was the longest day with six back to back, hour-long workouts. (I was grateful for a long lunch break. I snuck in a nap.) When we weren't in clinics, we could be found at the hotel's pool or on the beach.

It was pretty cool to deepen my friendships with the folks from my school while also getting to know some of the other martial artists from sister schools around the country.

The conference was great preparation for me especially as I get ready for my upcoming test for second degree black belt.

View from the pool on Friday night

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

CrossFit Diaries -- Class #16: Dead last

Bringing up the rear in a competition is not always a bad thing. (So says the sore loser who was me yesterday.) Not only did I finish dead last during a timed exercise at CrossFit, I also walked out of the gym with screaming, aching (read: happy) muscles.

This week we're setting personal records to see how far we've progressed. So yesterday, after I set a max bench press PR of 95 pounds, we did the "Louder than 10." It consisted of 11 rounds of:

5 ball slams (20-pound ball for guys, 15-pound ball for the ladies)
10 standard push ups
15 kettle bell swings (25 pounds for me)

And we had to complete all 11 rounds as fast as possible. :-/

The first six rounds weren't so bad. Round seven came and I hit a wall. The conversation in my head went something like this: "This is stupid!" "This sucks." "$&%#!!!!" Friends, I don't think I'm a quitter but yesterday I really, really, really wanted to weeny out. Really.

I huffed and puffed my way through the remaining rounds as I watched other folks finish and put away their equipment. Then the cool part came: they cheered me on through my last couple of rounds. Whew.

After all that craziness, we rounded out our workout with a few sets of sumo dead lift high pulls with the kettle bell and then we were free to go.

Yesterday was pure torture. But do you know what I did this morning? I went back for more.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shattered dreams

My sweet friend Dore called tonight to tell me her husband Bob died of a massive heart attack last night. Unreal.

One minute they were getting ready for their side jobs at a catering business. The next minute Bob was complaining of pain and was being whisked away by an ambulance. He died at the hospital. My heart broke as I listened to Dore tell of their plans and shattered dreams. They had sold their Knoxville home and purchased a home in Florida. They planned on retiring at the end of the school year. Just yesterday afternoon, they were talking about tile for their new house. Now, Dore is making plans for a Saturday memorial service for Bob.

Life is so hard sometimes. God, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

This afternoon, I went to the memorial service of a friend Terry who died of cancer on Tuesday. It's strange to be mourning the death of another friend so soon.

I met Bob and Dore in 2003, my first year in Knoxville. They had just opened Market Square Booksellers downtown and my assignment for the News Sentinel was to write a story about this new business on the square. I walked in and immediately fell in love with the place. Bob, who was wearing a kilt, greeted me as I entered. It was there that I met my friend Rebecca (who made and sold jewelry) and discovered the works of Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, primarily.) The store had unique touches: a reclaimed old church pew; wood floors repurposed from a school gym; the oddest assortment of greeting cards.

Bob, Dore, Rebecca and I became fast friends and shared life together over meals and other meet-ups.

Bob and Dore closed the store after a few years and moved on to other ventures. Rebecca eventually got married and moved to Washington D.C. Bob became a buyer for a book distributor for a while and Dore went on to work as a librarian in a Sevier County middle school. In between, they would set up a tent and sell homemade crafts and purses during the summer at the Market Square Farmers Market.

I last saw Bob and Dore at a wedding I attended last year. After hugs, chatter and more hugs, we promised to get together again soon. Turns out my soon has been a little too late with Bob.

My heart hurts for Dore and Terry's families and friends.

The song, "Our God is in Control," by Steven Curtis Chapman comes to mind tonight.

This is not how it should be, This is not how it could be
This is how it is, Our God is in control...


This is not where we planned to be, When we started this journey
This is where we are, And Our God is in control...


Saying goodbye to Terry Morrow

I said goodbye today to Terry Morrow, a former News Sentinel colleague and friend who died Tuesday from complications due to pancreatic cancer.

Death is a strange thing. It's happened enough to friends and relatives of mine now that sometimes I think it shouldn't take me aback. But it still jolts me each time it comes to the people I care about, whether young or old. Terry was 52.

On this beautiful sunny Sunday, it was a gift to celebrate Terry's life with his family and friends during a memorial service at West Hills Baptist Church. Terry enjoyed life and it showed -- from his antics and his work as a TV critic to the way he cared for children and adults and talked to them.

Terry also loved comics books and had about 20,000 of them. He'd been collecting them since he was 7. At the conclusion of  this afternoon's service, Terry's mom and sisters sat on the steps of the church altar and invited the children in the audience to come forward. They then gave each child some of Terry's comic books and one of his action figures.

Terry would have loved that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CrossFit Diaries: Class #4 -- Circuit training madness

One of the CrossFit kettlebells. Hehe.
Just when I thought I was finally getting a handle on this CrossFit stuff, today happened.

Today, my friends, was High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or like the instructor called it, "Super Human Interval Training," aka S#&% training. :)

As I walked into our 6 a.m. class, I wondered why there were large tractor tires as tall as me outside the doors. I soon found out. I entered the building and saw about 15 different stations with myriad torture, er, exercise tools. Ok, then.

After warm ups, we started the real work. A sampling of what we did today:

Side planks with kettlebell lifts. Cling and overhead press with bar. Cone jumps. Burpees with pull ups. Bear crawls. Burpees with sandbags. Tractor tire flips (my personal favorite). Tire run (carry a car tire and run with it).

Since I started my CrossFit experiment on Friday, I have been sore after. every. class. This makes me happy. It means I'm pushing my body. Or maybe I'm just killing myself.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Old people friends

When my 90-year-old paternal grandmother died in January, I decided it was time to reconnect with my old people friends** in person. I often speak to them on the phone but nothing beats face time.

Since I was heading to Seattle to visit my friend Sara during spring break last month, it made sense to skip over to Brewster, Washington, to see Bob and Audrey. After a three and a half-hour drive through the spectacular Cascade Mountains, I found myself in their Eastern Washington driveway.

Bob in his yard in Brewster.

I met Bob in Alaska in 2005 while I was a volunteer camp counselor at Kako Retreat Center near Russian Mission. That summer, Bob helped build cabins and fix machinery and I hung out with Yupik Eskimo teen girls in a remote corner of Western Alaska off the Yukon Peninsular. Bob and I hit it off over the five or so weeks we were there. The following year, I visited Bob and his wife Audrey in Washington State and I've been going ever since. (An aside: they've been married 54 years and they're still all lovey dovey, holding hands and such. That tickles me!)

Brewster is in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. "Hitchhiking Permitted" signs were all along the highway. (Um, no thanks.) I did see one other black person and a number of people of Hispanic descent, so the town has some diversity. :)
Probably 80 percent of all apples in the U.S. come from tiny Brewster and several other towns surrounding it. Orchards stretch as far as the eye can see. Bob and Audrey's property is sandwiched by orchards on both sides. (And one across the street. And several more down the road.)

Bob and Audrey are fellow adventure seekers. So during the day, we would explore other little towns. One of my favorites was Winthrop, which has an Old West feel. At night after dinner, we would settle in for an hour of a "Matlock" rerun before bed. They usually go to bed at 9 p.m. but they stayed up until 10 p.m. for me.

Bob is super talented. He rebuilds Model T cars from the ground up and has done so for years. He can fix just about any piece of machinery out there. Audrey is a fantastic cook and I got some good eatin' while I was with them.

Before I left that last day, Bob and I spent the morning shooting on his property. Then after a tasty lunch and hearty hugs, I bid them farewell.

More pictures from my Brewster adventure:

Bob showing me his latest Model T project

Pearrygin Lake State Park in Winthrop


Bob and Audrey during our walk

Bob and me :)


I did this.
**Speaking of old people friends, I have others who are dear to my heart:
--Josephine, age 96.
-- My neighbors Robert and Juanita, ages 90 and 86.
-- Peter, age 88. Who knew my best guy friend would be a South African-born, British American octogenarian? Love it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seattle

View from the ferry as we leave Seattle for Bainbridge Island

Love me some Sara!!
I spent part of spring break last month in one of my favorite cities -- Seattle. My trip to see my friend Sara was the first of three legs of my spring break trek. It rains A LOT in Seattle but the weather was gorgeous most of my time there. (I guess they knew I was coming.)

I met Sara in 2010 when she came to work for Scripps, the company that owns my former employer, the Knoxville News Sentinel. She and I had many food adventures as we deepened our friendship. She moved to Seattle last year for a new job.

When I arrived in Seattle, we carried on our food adventure tradition, from a dinner out at an Afghan restaurant named Kabul to meals created at home after an outing to Pike Place Market. (Ever seen or heard of the scruffy guys who throw fish?) I also spent time with Sara's equally cool sisters Judy and Liz, which was pretty neat.

Sara is an amazing baker. For my birthday a couple of years ago, she made a chocolate ganache cake that I would gladly give an arm to eat. It remains one of my favorite desserts. Well, Sara surprised me with half a chocolate ganache cake when I got to Seattle. A half cake for my almost half birthday, she said. :)


Other pictures from my time in Seattle:

Heading back to Seattle after an afternoon on Bainbridge Island

Pike Place Market, one of my favorite places in the city

Some of the fish mongers at the World Famous Fish Market
A flower guy and his beautiful bouquets inside Pike Place Market

This being Seattle, I drank lots of coffee. Hand model is Llewyn, Sara's friend
 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kindergarten art project gone wrong

Me, Megan and Bryce after the race
This is what my friends and I looked like when we finished the Color Me Rad 5K race this morning. What a fun run and a great way to spend a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. (Portions of the race's proceeds will benefit East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Bonus!)

A few weeks ago, I roped my friend Megan and her fiancé Bryce into signing up for the race. They were such good sports about it. We joined 9,000 other nutty people for the event.

During the race, volunteers and other participants throw colored cornstarch...just because. By the end of the race, we looked like a kindergarten art project gone wrong.
(I think Megan's teeth are still stained purple. Ha! Other parts of me, which I shall not mention, are still sporting a strange glow. It's amazing how well the cornstarch seeps through your clothing.)

Other pictures from today:

We're all nice and clean pre-race
 
Getting ready for the color bomb. Megan said I looked like a bank robber
 
About to run through the color bomb

Friday, April 5, 2013

CrossFit did not kill me.

Quivering legs aside, I feel great.**
I took my first CrossFit class at 6 a.m. today. Suffice it to say it was pretty intense but definitely awesome. An added bonus: the North Knoxville location is conveniently about a mile and a half from my house. For those of you wondering what CrossFit is, here's a description from the website:

"We have no mirrors, no machines, no tanning beds, no smoothie bar, and no excuses. There is only your hard work and results."

Hehe! And some more:

"Proven in everyday living, competitive sport, and even battlefield-tested, Hard-To-Kill's systematic approach to fitness will improve your physical performance, mental toughness, and quality of life."

I'd heard so much about CrossFit and wanted to try it. Then the other day, I found a groupon for it and tada! (It's still up if you Knox folks are interested.) I think one of the reasons I enjoyed CrossFit so much this morning was it caters to my primal exercise tendencies. No pain, no gain, baby!

**We'll see what tune I'm singing later today when full-body soreness sets in. If you find me curled up in a fetal position in my office, just pat me on the head and leave me be.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The spring tease

Happy first day of spring! Brr.
I scowled as I put on my winter coat this morning. Just three days ago, it was a breezy almost 70 degrees here in Knoxville. Today? Ha!


This time last year, I was eating a Rita's Italian ice with my friend Charles on Market Square. It was rather balmy and it felt so good to sneak away from the office during lunch for the treat.

Today, I scurried in and out of buildings, coat zipped tight. Although chilly, signs of life and the promise of spring are readily visible. The trees are beginning to show their in-your-face, I-dare-you-to-stop-me extravagant beauty. This thrills my heart.

My friend Itiyah took this photo today by the Walgreens on Magnolia Ave. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lookie here! It's Lola's blog!

I know I've been missing in action for a while. Sorry, y'all.
Life has been nutso lately. As one friend said recently, "nutso" is code for "awesome and exciting." The living of life has been spectacular. So much is happening, which is evident in all the half-written drafts of blog posts I have in my account. I just can't find enough time to finish them. Ha!

I imagined I would return to blogging with some huge announcement. I have none at the moment. And that's ok. I'm enjoying the old, growing and budding relationships that are part of this season of my life.

Today, I bid farewell to a dearest friend, Jigsha, who is moving to Florida to start a new chapter in her life, thanks to a new job. We sat on her porch, ate lunch, watched it rain and reminisced. We arrived in Knoxville within three months of each other a decade ago. I'm learning that a part of life is letting go, which is hard sometimes. But letting go can also be a gift. My prayers, love and good wishes go with her.

I still like grad school -- although I'm finding that it's a lot of work. I truly don't know how my mom was married, raising kids and getting her degree at the same time. I have a new respect for her and others like her. Me, I have a dog and a full time job and I'm barely hanging on.

And I'm learning to break boards with a flying side kick in Taekwondo. God willing and the creek don't rise, I aim to have this mastered and ready to debut when I test for my second degree black belt in June. Stay tuned.

Peace and joy to you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

This!

Nuggets of wisdom from Amelie, age 3, from Brooklyn, NY.
Courtesy of my friend Megan F.