Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 will be a luminous year

Abdu'l-Baha visited the Fourth Unitarian Church (Flatbush, Brooklyn) 
“This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous.” ~ 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Today, New Year's Eve, I've been reflecting on how excited I am for 2012....and thankful for the blessings of 2011.

2011 was a great year.....ran my first marathon at 3:40, my husband and I celebrated our 1st anniversary, I revisted Tanzania after 4 years and I also had the opportunity to travel to Chile and Dominican Republic.

2012 will be even better. It's the 100 year anniversary of `Abdu'l-Bahá's (the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Baha'i faith) visit to America plus in June we will travel to Haifa, Israel for Baha'i pilgrimage.

'Abdu'l-Bahá traveled across America in 1912 giving talks on the need of unity among the races, equality between women and men, a balance of material and spiritual progress and international peace. While much of the discussion of the day involved the political requisites to peace, 'Abdu'l-Bahá focused on social and spiritual issues, linking universal peace with such topics as women's suffrage, a world tribunal, collective security, the necessity of religious unity and the need for justice.

Check out this article in the Huffington Post, 2012: A Special Year for American Baha'is
also this movie trailer for Luminous Journey: `Abdu'l-Bahá in America, 1912. 

Interesting fact I just learned....American Baha'is had provided money for 'Abdu'l-Bahá to sail on the Titanic. However, He asked instead that the funds be given to the poor and chose to travel on a more modest ship to New York in April 1912. THANK GOODNESS He was not on that tragic ship.

Note on the picture: 'Abdu'l-Bahá traveled to many places in Brooklyn including the Fourth Unitarian Church which was within walking distance from where I live :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vegan Nog

Tried out two vegan "egg" nogs this week.....

Since we liked the Coconut Nog better we used that one for drinking and made vegan french toast with the Soy Nog. Earth Balance's recipe was absolutely delicious. 

Vegan French Toast
Ingredients: Serves 6
2 very ripe bananas
2 cups Earth Balance® Organic Soy Nog
1 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. vegan butter or oil, divided
12 slices day-old multigrain bread

Blend first four ingredients in a blender. Pour into a shallow bowl.
Melt 2 Tbs. Buttery Spread in pan over medium heat.
Dip bread into mixture, so both sides are covered.
Cook both sides until golden brown. Repeat until the bread is gone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Long Run - a book on recovery and the power of the human spirit

Last weekend I read Matt Long's The Long Run and I teared up dozens of times. The book is about Matt Long's recovery after a 20-ton bus hit him, sucking him under it. "In the 18 months before the accident, he had competed in more than 20 events including several triathlons and marathons and had qualified for running’s most prestigious race, the Boston Marathon. After the accident, his doctor told him he’d be lucky if he could even walk without a cane. The Long Run is an emotional and incredibly honest story about Matt’s determination to fight through fear, despair, loneliness, and intense physical and psychological pain to regain the life he once had. The book chronicles Matt’s road to recovery as he teaches himself to walk again and, a mere three years later, to run in the 2008 New York City Marathon."

My scar
 I've been reflecting on why this book had such an impact on me. I think it's because it hit WAY too close to home, though a much smaller scale than Matt's trauma. In 2009 my appendix burst but a negligent doctor sent me home with a UTI diagnosis. Days of me living with a ruptured appendix without knowing it resulted in doctors having to take out not only my appendix but parts of my small & large intestine as well. I couldn't eat anything for several days. They couldn't close me up because the infection was so severe (hence the scar). And I was in the hospital for 11 days. When I was discharged I could barely walk without assistance. It took me months until I could run again.

I remember those dark days where I thought I would never be able to run at a "fast" pace again. I remember the depression I felt at just being in the hospital for 11 days. So while reading this book I was taking the emotions from my ordeal and then magnifying it by 20x to begin to understand what Matt overcame to run a marathon 3 years after he almost died......amazing what the human body and spirit is capable of!

All runners and anyone who has ever had to overcome a physical challenge should definitely read this book. And while you're at it check out Matt Long's I Will foundation.

Mission: The I WILL FOUNDATION is a non-profit organization established to help people, with the will to work hard, overcome adversity and challenges caused by life altering illness or traumatic injury. Our primary goal is to provide motivational and inspirational support through hands on training, coaching, and financial support when necessary. We believe the will to survive and accomplish all tasks, great and small, is present in all of us whether we recognize it or not. If you have the desire to live your life to the fullest, we can help you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rock out!

I break out into spontaneous dance and/or song at random points everyday (as my husband can attest). Sometimes this includes free-styling a song about whatever I am doing/thinking at the time....other times it's lyrics to a song in my head or dancing to music playing in the background.

Anis Mojgani
Anis Mojgani's poem "Direct Order" is the essence of my "rocking out" tendencies. I discovered this spoken word poet 6 years ago and feel in love with his raw creative words and content. He's awarding winning (1st place at the National Individual Poetry Slam in 2005 and 2006, 1st at 2007 World Cup Poetry Slam).

You have been given a direct order to rock the f*** out….Rock out like you get paid to disturb the peace…Rock out like the plane is going down, there are 120 people on board, and 121 parachutes…. Rock out like the mangos are in season….Rock out like this was the last weekend, like these were the last words, like you don’t ever want to forget how. ~ Anis Mojgani

Your instructions for the day:
Step #1 Watch this video for "Direct Order"
Step #2 Put on a song and rock out (or even better rock out to the music in your mind/spirit)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yoga flipped is running

I have a love/hate relationship with advertising (mostly I dislike it)…..but every once and awhile I come across an ad I love because it really speaks to me, is unique/creative or has a great message.

I saw this Lululemon Athletica ad in Running World’s January 2012 issue and couldn’t stop starring at it….there’s a woman doing a yoga headstand but flipped it looks like she’s running! Brilliant! Last year I practiced Vinyasa yoga regularly (and plan to restart this winter). It was a great counterbalance to my weekly running mileage…..the yin and yang…the flip-side ;)  
 the tiny words read as “I was running into a strong wind during the tail end of the Toronto marathon. Struggling with the pain, I tapped into my yoga practice to focus on the energy of the crowd and cleared my mind with a mantra. I placed 8th female overall.” ~ Ambassador Katherine Moore

Monday, November 28, 2011

running prayer of gratitude

"Praised be Thou, O Lord my God! Every time I attempt to make mention of Thee, I am hindered by the sublimity of Thy station and the overpowering greatness of Thy might.....Supply us, then, with Thy wondrous gifts that are hid from the eyes of men. Thou art, verily, the Fashioner of all creation. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Most High. ~ Bahá'u'lláh (entire prayer can be found here.)"

There's something prayerful/meditative to me about bodies of water. For as long as I can remember whenever I see a beautiful pond/lake/river/sea I send up a prayer/thanks to God. Living in Brooklyn means lots of morning runs in Prospect Park....there is one special section right after a downhill break that levels out into Prospect Park's a sudden switch from park/road/trees to a beautiful opening of water....and every run, for the 2 years I have been living in Brooklyn, my heart smiles and I thank God when I see that body of water.

This morning I was so moved by the beauty of the sun rising over Prospect Park Lake that I had to stop running, thank God and take a picture.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Davis, joy and hope

Just returned from my 9 day trip to Tanzania......the place I lived from Sept 2006-Nov 2008, the place where I met my husband, the place that will always have a piece of my heart, the place where nature's beauty moves me, the place where at one moment I can witness something so heartbreaking that I don't know what to do and the next moment witness something so inspiring that I then figure it out.

Above is a picture of Davis (the one on the back of the bike). When Davis was first taken into the Olive Branch for Children's care he was almost 2 years old but could not walk, crawl or speak. Davis was extremely malnourished and near death. My friend Deb, who runs the Olive Branch for Children, took him in and months later he was walking/talking. Later we realized he had a learning disability. In Tanzania there are not many options for people living with a disability....and few schools able to help. Visiting doctors from the West think he's autistic.

3 years later Davis is developing well. The whole time I was there I never saw him not smiling. He would follow me around bringing a smile to my face each time. He is no longer shy and can carry on simple conversation....he still has his moments (like toilet accidents and walking around with no underwear)....but he's making great progress and bringing joy to everyone he meets.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mumbai classroom

Classroom in Mumbai
I love visiting classrooms. I am fortunate enough that my job not only involves visiting classrooms in the US but around the world as well. A work conference this past week took me to Mumbai, India. It never ceases to amaze me how similar the qualities of good teaching are regardless of cultural/country context.

Gesture means: I am raising my hand without talking

There's something so powerful about education.....about the process of learning. Just sitting in the classroom watching the students learn English grammar concepts (Who, Where, What, Why and When) I found myself completely engaged and full of pure joy. Even though these were 3rd graders they reminded me of my high school students in Tanzania.

After their classes I went around the room talking to the students. Their English was limited but our hearts connected. I learned of their dreams to be a pilot or teacher. I learned of their favorite subjects. After teaching more pictures they asked for my autograph (I have no idea why). I ended up signing my name in 25+ heart overflowing and maternal instincts kicking ;)

Core Values for a Mumbai classroom

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Re-Case: Miniwiz's iPhone case 100% made from recycled trash

I had been delaying buying a case for my new iPhone. Then I read about Miniwiz's Re-Case cover made from 100% recycled agricultural waste and post-consumer plastic on TreeHugger and was instantly sold. 

The case fits snug providing reliable protection. I really like the look of the material. The light cross-hatch pattern and ridges on the sides provide an excellent grip. The only negative is it is really hard to get off once it's on.  

To read the product details see Miniwiz's site here or order it on Amazon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Madecasse - beyond fair trade chocolate

"70% of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa but less than 1% of chocolate is made there. Instead, farmers sell whole cocoa pods to the first of many middlemen who eventually export the cocoa beans to chocolate makers in Belgium or France. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach--introduced to Madagascar and each other while in the Peace Corps--founded Madécasse in 2008 to keep more economic benefit within the island nation. The company partners with 45 cocoa farmers in the Ezaka cooperative and a factory in Antananarivo to move from bean to bar in one month and then onto shelves in Whole Foods and boutiques internationally." (Fast Company's 50 most innovative companies article)
Hosting the entire process in Madagascar generates 4x more income than fair trade cocoa alone.

I am actually eating the 'Sea Salt & Nibs' bar as I type this....perfect blend of 63% cocoa and salt...mmm. Madecasse reminds of the event I went to this summer featuring Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former President of Tanzania. When asked what he thinks Tanzania and African countries need the most, Mr. Mwinyi said they needed to do more production in country. Less of just exporting raw materials to other countries for a tiny percentage of the overall profits. He mentioned bananas, mangoes and Tanzanite as possible ideas. I 100% agree. It is really disappointing that even though Tanzanite can only be found around Tanzania it is often processed in Asian countries. At least Madecasse is challenging the current cocoa production trends.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rich get richer

Income for the wealthiest Americans has sharply increased in the last 30 years - 275% for the top 1%. Meanwhile, the bottom 20% saw income rise by just 18%. Middle class saw their income rise by about 40% ~ Congressional Budget Office (NPR article or CNN)

Meanwhile Republicans in Congress weeks ago were willing to have the United States default rather than repeal a portion of the Bush tax cuts and raise taxes for the rich by 3.5%.
In a lovely letter from A Voice From the 1% - "Here is a secret about rich people:  we wouldn't have noticed a 3.5% tax increase.  That is not only because there isn't a material difference between having $1 million and $965,000, which is obvious, but also because most of us don't actually know how much money we are going to make in a given year.  Most income at that level is the result of profits rather than salary, whether it comes in the form of bonuses, stock options, partnership distributions, dividends or capital gains."

Many are saying if we "punish" the "job creators" they won't be able to help the unemployment rate.   A Voice From the 1%  says “I was not amazed but disgusted when John Boehner and his crew tried to justify the extremity of their position by rebranding the wealthy as "job creators."  While true in a very basic sense, it obscures the fact that jobs are a cost that is voluntarily incurred only as a result of demand.  Hiring has no correlation at all to profits or to income - none.”

Over at Occupy Oakland...
Tuesday evening police used tear gas and baton rounds to force protesters to leave their camp. Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old former US Marine who has served two tours in Iraq, was struck in the head with a heavy object. He remains in the hospital in critical condition with a fractured skull. “The irony is not lost on anyone here that this is someone who survived two tours in Iraq and is now seriously injured by the Oakland police force” (BBC article)

Today I'm meditating on the following quotes from the Bahá’í, Muslim and Christian background....and shaking my head at the state of my country.

"Some being enormously rich and others lamentably poor....It is important to limit riches, as it is also of importance to limit poverty. Either extreme is not good. To be seated in the mean is most desirable. If it be right for a capitalist to possess a large fortune, it is equally just that his workman should have a sufficient means of existence." `Abdu'l-Bahá's Paris Talks

The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah's Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day." Bukhari Volume 7, Book 64, Number 265

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Matthew 25:41-45

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Think you can't run a marathon? Inspiration from a 100 year old runner

Fauja Singh, who is 100-years-old and the world's oldest marathon runner.
He ran the 2011 Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8 hours : 25 mins.

"The blessings of the beneficiaries of charities (I am raising money for) give me the strength to continue"

 He started running when he was 89 years old.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A marathon full of gratitude

"All praise, O my God, be to Thee Who art the Source of all glory and majesty, of greatness and honor, of sovereignty and dominion, of loftiness and grace, of awe and power." ~Bahá’u’lláh

I finished my first marathon 20 minutes faster than my goal time of 4 hours (3:40:37 = 8:25 pace). The whole time I was running and even post-race I couldn't stop thinking how many people I want to thank and how grateful I am. So here's my marathon list of thanks:

Thank you.....
1.) God, for giving me the health and endurance to run 26.2 miles. Also for getting me through some of the tougher points.....I must of said "Alláh-u-Abhá" at least a hundred times today.
2.)My loving husband for his constant support. Like waking up at 5:30 am today convinced that I would have an excellent race.
3.) All my friends, family and co-workers. Not only have they sent encouraging emails and facebook message but they've donated money to The Olive Branch for the Children to support my fundraising marathon. With your help I raised $1000!
4.) All the friendly and enthusiastic race volunteers and local Steamtowners. I really appreciated the cheering and oranges/bananas/water.
5.)  Steamtown race directors. The course was beautiful. My favorite part being the 3 miles of trail by the stream surrounded by the fall foliage.
6.)  St. Joseph's Children Center. I almost was overcome with emotion/tears towards mile 21 where tons of children from the center where cheering me on. I'm happy that most of my marathon fee will go to this center.
7.) Girl who tapped me on the shoulder. At mile 25 I was in a lot of pain, there was a slight hill so I figured, 'I'm pacing 20 minutes ahead of my goal, I'll just walk the last mile.' I only had time to walk for 5 seconds before a fellow racer tapped me on the shoulder as she ran by and said "Only 1 mile left. I know you can do this." She sounded so sure of me that I forced myself to run through my sore knee, aching left foot and throbbing left hamstring. 

So I'm sending out these many thanks into the cyberspace. It's been a great day.

PS I just realized I qualified for Boston Marathon 2012......I won't be running it because #1 it's sold out #2 Not sure I want to run another marathon #3 It happens in April right after my 19-day fast.....But still bragging rights for qualifying :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

3 days until Steamtown Marathon, ~$900 raised

In this picture: Montessori teacher, Eliza and Children at the Gomoshelo Montessori Kindergarten

My first marathon is this Sunday. I've dedicated my run to all the lovely children and people I met during my 2.25 years living in Tanzania. So I'm raising money for  The Olive Branch for the Children. I have raised ~$900 so far and I am attempting a last minute dash to reach $1000.

The Olive Branch for Children was started by one of my best friends Deborah McCracken-Nangereke in 2005. Because of her amazing work she received the Rolex Awards for Enterprise’s Young Laureates Program and various PEPFAR grants (US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief). She lives in Mbeya with her husband Putiyei Kimala Nangereke and her 9 adopted Tanzanian children (one of whom is Davis, my Godson :)

The Olive Branch for Children:
  • Provides home-based care for more than 500 people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Runs kindergartens in 22 communities
  • Manages Agricultural Projects for the community: providing the residents with small business grants, irrigation setup and basic supplies for farming including simple shovels and pails.
  • Provides education scholarships for children to pursue University/College education via The Olive Branch’s Education Fund
  • Operates a permanent medical clinic and hosts monthly medical clinics in remote villages
If you chose to donate, please post a comment and I'll email you the details. 

PS. On October 26 I received a post-marathon donation enabling me to reach my $1,000 goal :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Education Under Fire - If I lived in Iran...

If I lived in Iran .....
I would not be allowed to attend university. And if I tried to start/teach in an independent university I would be jailed.
I could not be a teacher, lawyer, dentist or many other professions
I would have to practice my religion (the Baha'i Faith) in fear and secret
I could be charged and jailed for "spreading corruption on earth"
I could be executed for teaching children's classes
I could be tortured for believing in Bahá'u'lláh

Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President (of East Timor) José Ramos-Horta, have written an open letter about these abuses addressed to the International Academic Community. To read and endorse this letter go to

President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta Defends the BIHE and the Baha’is in Iran from Education Under Fire on Vimeo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

running meditations

I realized something while running New York Road Runner's 18 mile race Sunday.....
Running on Playa Rincon

  •  The first 6 miles of a long run are really just a warm up. Your legs stretch out. If you're like me you are going 30+ sec faster than your goal pace, trying to create a net gain in time. Sure I'm passing people but I don't really care.
  •   Miles 6-12 are when the race actually begins. This is when I start to use the people in front of me to motivate me to keep going, to speed up, to pass them. I start to get tired and I need to re-fuel (ie gels and water).
  •   Miles 12-17 are where the magic happens. My mind takes over and I zone out/zen in. The hundreds of people around me seem to disappear. It's just about me and how far my legs can take me. I thank God for the ability to still be running 12+ miles in.  Mantras go through my head. I re-ask myself why I'm doing this. I stop myself from giving into that fearful/tired voice telling me to take a walking break.
  •   Mile 18 is pure/delicious insanity. I start to speed up again. I stop caring about the pain in my legs. I'm high on endorphins. Feeling accomplished and excited to finish strong. I feel pure joy. I find myself cheering "Come on! You can do it!" to the people who have started walking. As soon as I can see the finish line I sprint, forgetting how insane sprinting is after running 18 miles. 
I finished Sunday's race faster than my goal.... 2hr 36min, pacing 8:41 min/mile. I placed 770/ 3828 (top 20%).

2 weeks until Steamtown Marathon. Time to start tapering

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

18 days until Steamtown Marathon - $521 raised

~ I've reached my fundraising goal ($500) for The Olive Branch for the Children. $521 and counting....
~ This Sunday I'm running New York Road Runner's 18-mile race.
~ 18 days until Steamtown Marathon
~ The Olive Branch runs kindergartens in 22 communities in rural Mbeya, Tanzania. In this picture is a student learning how to count. I love the use of local resources ie soda caps.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

arrested while being Black

September 5 - Labor Day....City Councilman Jumaane Williams was, as the saying goes, “arrested while being Black”. This story, which was featured on the NY Times’ front page online along with tons of others, is even more personal because Jumaane is my cousin.

The son of a doctor from Grenada, Jumaane Williams, 35, was elected to the City Council from Central Brooklyn in 2009. He is well-educated, articulate and a rising star among black politicians.

Why was he arrested? Jumaane was walking through a police “frozen zone” after the West Indian Day Parade to get to an event at the Brooklyn Museum. He had permission from police supervisors to go through this area. However, when he came to the third checkpoint the police refused to let the Councilman pass. While trying to confirm his credentials the cops surrounded him and put him in handcuffs.

As Jumaane states in his official statement: “This was an incident involving a select number of police officers that quickly and unnecessary escalated itself. We believe that had Mr. Foy or I been white, this would not have happened. Plain and simple. It is a reflection of a culture which includes stop and frisk protocol that I hope after this incident will finally end, based on how unfairly it targets innocent black and Latino young men.”

I wanted to wait a week or two before writing about this….to calm my anger etc. When I first heard about this I was overwhelmed with the sense of injustice too many people have to live through every day. It reminds me of something a family member once said….”Never forget that you are Black. Don’t get too comfortable, finding yourself in a place of wealth or power. The moment you forget someone will be there to painfully remind you.”… I am still waiting and working towards the day when the color of one’s skin or where they live does not determine their life/how people view them. Sadly though, the US is very far from this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

35 days to Steamtown Marathon!

35 days until the Steamtown Marathon. My first marathon.

I did a 20 mile run today in ~3 hours :)

The last 5 miles hurt.... went from 8+ min/mile pace to 9+ min/mile. The last mile I had to yell at myself (in my head).... "Finish This!"......"Push!".... "Think of your marathon goal"....."Remember who you are running for" (I've dedicated my run to kids in Tanzania. I'm also raising money for The Olive Branch for Children).

Remembering my favorite running heroes Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebrselassie also got me through it.

Amazingly though, 60 minutes after my run I feel awesome. High on endorphins and ready to start the rest of my Saturday :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Housing Works: donating books

As a frequent user of NYC libraries, (I read 2-5 books a week so I'm there a lot) they were the first place I thought of when deciding to donate 10 books I had. The books had only been read once so were in excellent condition. However, when I went to the library books in hand I was turned away. Supposedly it is often cheaper for the library to buy new books then to process them....
"Donated books and other materials incur costs and additional time to process. Before they can be shelved with the larger collection, their condition must be evaluated, followed by cataloging, processing and transporting. These materials ultimately have a shorter shelf life. It is more cost-efficient to purchase new books and media, which are delivered "shelf-ready."
Luckily Brooklyn's library website has some recommended places that take book donations. And even luckier one of Housing Works' locations is a block away from the library I visit weekly. The thrift store is really cool, lots of stuff I could see myself buying... like a rocking chair I keep day dreaming of. Plus it's all for a good cause....."Housing Works is committed to ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness. We believe that all people have the right to a rich and empowering life. Since 1990, we have provided the highest quality services for homeless men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS in New York City and beyond."

Happy donating!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Washington, DC running tour

I had a 3-day meeting in Washington, DC this week. So during one of my morning runs I decided to take my cellphone with me to take a few pictures.....I called it my personal running tour. It turned out to be a brilliant idea. Most monuments in DC are around the national mall. So a 6-mile run allowed me to see the main sites.

I found myself stopping to reflect and give God thanks at many of the sites. I was surprised by my intense emotional reaction standing and looking out where Martin Luther King, Jr gave his speech. Or the sense of accomplishment after running up the stairs to the Lincoln memorial and looking at the view.

Monday, August 22, 2011

ING New York City Marathon Long Training Run #2

I'm not running the NYC marathon but the timing for the Steamtown Marathon, which I am doing, corresponds nicely for NY Road Runner's training program.

The ING New York City Marathon Long Training Run #2 is a unscored/noncompetitive run. All racers select which group they want to run with based on pace time dividing into groups by half-minute intervals from 7:00 through 11:00+ minutes per mile. The run is broken down into 4 loops: 6 miles, 5 miles, 5 miles then 4 miles. You can decide how much you wish to run.

I joined the 9 minute mile group and ran 18 miles. It was a good experience. Sort of like pretending I was part of a running club for a day. The power of running in a pack was a great motivator as we ran up all of Central Park's hills. Plus it forced me to even out my pacing, I have the tendency to go anywhere from 7:30 min pace to 9:45 min depending on hills/mood/song on my ipod. Towards mile 16 I started feeling intense pain in my feet/arches. Plus going through the misting stations had left my socks wet, causing blisters. So I gave in at 18 miles :(

48 days left!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Skunks and dogs don't mix

My husband and I took our dog to the suburbs to enjoy some Westchester fresh air and nature. The rain this week put a slight damper on our trip but Tuesday night's surprise was worse... Just as my husband was about to leash Busu for a night time walk she ran down the stairs and crossed paths with a skunk.

The first thing my husband thought of was tomato juice. So he poured canned tomatoes on her. Then I looked up some solutions on Google and found this recipe for de-skunking:
  • 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp. liquid soap
It worked for the night....enabling us to bring her into the house and sleep somewhat well. However she still has a lingering smell 3+ days and numerous washes later. It's only noticeable if she has been running, is wet or sitting next to/on you....but it's annoying. Unfortunately the skunk got her in the face and most de-skunking remedies are not eye friendly.

We've going to try Skunk-off Shampoo...fingers crossed it works.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dekalb Market (a perk of living in Brooklyn)

I first heard about Dekalb Market from Wada-Africa, my favorite NY based African print dress supplier's website....then when I ran by it on this morning's 16-mile run I considered it fate. So my husband, dog and I decided to visit the market this afternoon.

They had two DJs spinning music that spoke to my heart....Fela Kuti, jazz, rap, R&B and reggae :) Lots of the vendors are stationed in salvaged shipping containers. The outdoor food court has free WiFi and is dog friendly. I ate two delicious vegan Caribbean patties from Nile Valley. The ackee patty was my favorite, but the callaloo patty was a close second.

And Wada-Africa, my favorite NY based African print dress supplier was there, so a purchased another dress.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Save the World?

No, seriously….how do you save the world? When I was a Peace Corps volunteer living in Tanzania people back home in America would say “She’s off saving the world”. When I decided not to join the corporate world and do non-profit work they’d remark “Good for you, saving the world.” However, every week I read The Economist, watch The Daily Show and read Foreign Policy’s daily morning brief…’s quite clear the world is not doing much better.

There are so many ills going on in the world. The US continues to disappoint me as the rich become richer and the poor poorer. The government denies 9/11 first responders covered cancer treatment. So many countries are experiencing wars/fighting. The current famine going on in Somali continues to stay on my mind. I read things like “29,000 Somali children under 5 dead in famine” and I want to do something to help.

How do people who want to help make sure they are actually helping? I almost wish I could go back to my pre-Road to Hell ignorance. The time where I thought just donating some money every month would help fix things.

I stay firm that education is the way out. If everyone gets quality education they can help themselves and their country. Corrupt governments will have a harder time bulldozing their citizens. Although I cried through most of the book Half the Sky, the common theme for happy endings involved education.

How do you help?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turkish Coffee

It all started 2 months ago when my husband and I went to a hookah bar downtown. The bar had a 1 drink minimum in addition to the hookah and I don't drink alcohol. So we ordered Turkish coffee and Persian tea. I actually don't like coffee but I was curious so I gave it a try.......instant obsession. The texture of the Turkish coffee was more like hot chocolate and it was full of rich flavor...mmm.

For the next few weeks, I kept craving Turkish Coffee and talking about it to everyone and anyone who would listen. So to feed my new obsession, I purchased an Ibrik (copper pot), glasses and Maatouk's Brazilian Arabica coffee with cardamom. Yay!

Sahadi (for coffee)
187 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201-5696

The Oriental (for Ibrik and glasses)
170 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baha'i Temple

I've been extremely busy between work, travel and marathon training. However last week's conference was in Chicago so I was able to visit the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL over the weekend. It's been 5 years since I last saw it in person.

I felt blessed to be able to read during the devotional service on Sunday. Both my husband and I enjoyed gazing at the temple and reflecting on its beauty and spiritual energy.

Then I proceeded to the bookstore where I got lost in the intellectual and spiritual wonders available for 30+ minutes. In the end I settled on a few keys books :)

If you are ever in the Chicago/Wilmette area.....
The Baha'i House of Worship
100 Linden Ave.
Wilmette, IL 60091

Monday, July 11, 2011

Extremes of Poverty and Wealth in the US

"But if conditions are such that some are happy and comfortable and some in misery; some are accumulating exorbitant wealth and others are in dire want -- under such a system it is impossible for man to be happy and impossible for him to win the good pleasure of God. (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 41)"
It seems every week I come across an article outlining how the gaps between rich and poor keep widening in the US. The richest 20% in America own 85% of the wealth. It truly is sad and unjust.

Reading this article Blacks' economic gains wiped out in downturn, the extreme difference among racial lines is also clear. "By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170.....for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents."

I am glad I belong to a religion with central tenets against extremes of poverty and wealth. I urge everyone to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tempeh Maple Bacon sandwiches, my new favorite quick lunch

In general I don't like tempeh. I've tried it numerous times and the only time I liked it was when I tried a sandwich with tempeh bacon. So I decided to try Tofurky's Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh. You just saute the slices in oil for 2-4 minutes for deliciousness. Add some vegenaise on toasted bread and it's done (or add some tomato and lettuce for added measure).

I like it so much I made it for lunch 3 times this week. Then I quickly went to whole foods to buy another package. Mmmm.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Shindagin hiking/camping weekend

My husband, Busu (our dog) and I traveled up north to Ithaca, NY. We went hiking then camped in Shindagin national forest. I was a little nervous about carrying a pack for a long period of time but luckily it was not too bad. The hike was beautiful. Busu, our Italian Greyhound/Whippet/Jack Russell dog loved every minute of it. Shindagin allows dogs to be off the leash so she was running up all the hills looking back encouraging us to keep up.

We had cold burritos for lunch. Then heated up some Smart Dogs for dinner over the fire my husband brilliantly made.

It was a cool experience to go to bed and wake up with the sun. Getting up at 5:30 am to all the lovely bird singing and the spring water in the background.

Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

dogs bring joy

My husband and I met up with a friend at Prospect Park this weekend. We brought Busu, our Whippet/Italian Greyhound/Jack Russel Terrier dog with us.

Busu is like a child magnet.....I think kids can sense that Busu loves everyone who crosses her path and wants to play with/lick everyone. Numerous times babies/kids walked right up to her and starting petting her etc. The two kids in the picture wanted to play and run with her. So we let them. They played with Busu for 30 minutes while we watched. It was a very adorable moment.