Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger Disaster Remembered

25 years ago today the US Space Program and the people of the United States suffered a major loss when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up 73 seconds after lift-off. 25 years later I still recall with vivid detail watching the launch from the living room couch. I was ten and home sick from school. I cannot remember if I was sick or “sick;” it is perfectly conceivable that I played sick to stay home and watch the launch. This is something my mother would have let me play sick for because I was obsessed with the Space Program, like so many ten year olds. But unlike many ten year olds I was lucky enough to witness the very first Space Shuttle, Columbia, launch on April 12, 1981 when vacationing with my family in Florida. I remembering the earth literally shaking as the shuttle lifted from the ground and rose to the heavens above. I was not even six yet, but remember distinctively thinking to myself “when I grow up, I want to be an astronaut."

Prior to 9/11, “Where were you when the Space Shuttle Challenger Exploded” was like the “Where were you when JFK was shot” for late Gen-Xers. My sisters, who were also sick, and I were eating chicken noodle soup nestled behind our TV trays and glued to the Price Is Right. Our mother turned the TV to CNN right after the first showcase showdown and the Space Shuttle in all its amazing aerodynamic glory sat upon the launch pad ready for liftoff. In unison the three of us counted down with mission control from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6… the rockets firing and the amazing power of lifting something so large off the ground and into the sky. The sky was clear and with each second the Shuttle appeared whiter and whiter against the sky as it ascended into the deeper, darker blue of the atmosphere.

For someone who had witnessed many of the launches, both in person and on TV, I knew every stage of the process; what happened with each throttle, and when the booster rockets departed ways from the aircraft. I was baffled when the ball of fire engulfed the shuttle and mission control was still talking as if everything was okay. It was so obviously not okay. The CNN commentator when silent, everything was so very quiet and eerie and it seemed like forever before the words I will always remember were broadcast from mission control. “Obviously a major malfunction.” I started to cry, as so many people did. We sat glued to the tv for hours, I remember when the news focused on parachuters descending from the sky, hoping it was possible that crew members ejected themselves from the fiery wreck and then saying it was just a rescuer. After a while hope was gone and we were faced with the reality that 7 Americans gave their lives during the mission.

The Challenger explosion had a major impact on the trajectory of my life. Up until that point, I wanted to study science, become an Astronaut, and fly to space. The reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks, my innocence lost. This was no longer a cool job that included space walks, zero-gravity, and funky space suits. This was a dangerous job where people died. It scared me, and it was the first time I ever really thought of and faced my own mortality. Before 11:38 EDT on January 26, 1986 I wanted to be an Astronaut. After that time I didn’t and honestly, still don’t truly know what I want to be when I grow up because no job seems as cool and amazing. I still have a photo of the Challenger crew and sometimes wonder what life would have been like had I not been scared away from my childhood dream job.

I will always remember the exact date of the Challenger disaster not only because it changed my life and desired career path, but because January 28th is my Grandmother’s birthday. Ironically, I will always remember where I was when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry to earth. February 1, 2003 was one of the more difficult days of my life. My Grandmother passed away on January 29th, mere hours after her 91st birthday. A few days later we were driving from her funeral church service to the cemetery to lay her to rest when the news hit the radio of the Columbia disaster. Both these events remind me of my old dream to be an Astronaut, and of my beloved Grandmother. I like to believe Grandma and these American heroes are now amongst the stars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not So Explosive Bombchelle

RIP Explosive Bombchelle, the blog I was barely keeping on life support over the past two years. Explosive Bombchelle started in 2005 because:
“After ten years of writing executive summaries and bulleted powerpoints in corporate America, corroding my ability to creatively express myself through words, I realized it was time to start writing again. This blog is for me, to engage the right side of my brain and utilize all those years dedicated to learning the journalistic craft. This is not a single topic blog focused on one facet of my background or personality, but meant to explore a diverse range of issues and topics covering everything from my love of dogs, my move from the east coast to the mid-west, my inability to sit still, my passion for travel, the art of photography and the decision to be childfree. I sincerely hope you enjoy my contribution to this community of writers.”

It is with some sadness that I lay the moniker Explosive Bombchelle to rest. I stopped writing with any regularity for a variety of reasons like paralyzing writers block and spending more time in the gym and less at the computer. Every January I vowed to kick-start the blog again with limited success. Last week while in the shower (I always do my best thinking in the shower) it dawned on me that I wanted to write, but had creatively backed myself into a corner. By titling the blog Explosive Bombchelle I inadvertently put pressure on myself to be “explosive." I had a flurry of writing ideas but only a few so mind-blowing or scandalous they could land in New York Times. I do have an opinion about almost every topic and am not afraid to share it, but suddenly it felt like the only thing I should write about are those opinions, to get a rise out of people and spark debate. I can be explosive, but I can also be funny, flirty, sad, sardonic, obnoxious, and inquisitive. Rather than crumble under the pressure to focus on one side of my personality, the opinionated instigator and debater, I decided it was time to kill Explosive Bombchelle and resurrect the blog under a new title.

Welcome to “Vagablonde Bombchelle,” a place where I can share some of my thoughts, observations, opinions, images, missives, recipes, reviews, and commentary as I travel the world, and wander through through daily life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quote of the Week

It's hard to live this quote as the thermometer dips below negative double digits, but this is the very night of the year when it's important to embrace our 2010 holiday message:

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy."
-Anton Chekhov

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fit is the new beautiful

It didn’t begin with a single step, it began with 26; the 26 steps that make up the flight of stairs in my office building. Just over 3 years ago I climbed those 26 steps and was out of breath before making it to the second floor. I then marched to the ladies room, locked myself in a stall, and started to cry. Sitting on the toilet and sobbing into cheap, scratchy butt wipe, I mourned previous versions of me who could run miles, skate marathons, and swim for days. I was fat and out of shape... again. It had been years since I liked what my body looked like, but this moment was worse than any dressing-room mirror horror show. It was one thing not to like the looks of my body, but devastating realizing my body couldn’t make it up a set of stairs. 32 year olds with two healthy legs shouldn’t struggle with climbing a lousy 26 steps and I made it my mission to climb those stairs without struggle by my 33rd birthday.

I had sworn off diets; they don’t work. Sure, I lost 40, 50, 60 pounds in the past on diets people swear by, but I always gained the weight back. I vowed to start eating better but focus primarily on exercise as a means to get my stamina back. If I didn’t lose a pound with this plan so be it, this wasn’t about fitting into a smaller size it was to avoid becoming a person who takes the elevator one floor.

At first I did one aerobics class a week; it was all my body could take. As I sucked on an inhaler and downed a gallon of water I would stand in awe of people who went to the gym every day and was in awe of people who did more than one class a day. There were a few people I actually considered admitting to a mental institution because they worked out two hours a day and appeared to enjoy it. Rather than get intimidated by the most in shape people I’ve ever met I reminded myself that I wasn’t looking to win an Olympic medal in aerobics, I just wanted to climb a freaken flight of stairs and not sound like a breathy sex line operator.

Within a couple of months I was going to the gym two days a week, then three, then four. On my 33rd birthday I could do the stairs at work, not with total ease but no one was reaching for the portable defibrillator when I finally made it to my cube. Upon the advice of some friends and trainers I added spin to my routine. I hated every torturous minute I suffered upon that little bike but could tell after a few weeks how my lung capacity had grown. After nearly a year I was spinning twice a week, and on some days when the moon and sun align perfectly I can get through class without feeling like I’m going to die.

This past Sunday I completed my first two-hour spin class at my gym, The Firm in Minneapolis. Those who have spun will appreciate the intensity of 2 hours atop a spin bike, especially at a super high-charged gym with top notch instructors. I stepped into the spin studio with fear and trepidation; I didn’t think I could do it, but I was going to try. I won’t lie, it was one of the most grueling things I’ve ever put my body through and I’ve put this body through a lot. My legs burned, my lungs ached, and my body was drenched in sweat. At the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, hunched over the bike with my muscles screaming mercy, I realized it had been just over three years since I took the first 26 steps to this point. It was 3 years since I sat crying in the ladies bathroom at work because I struggled with a flight of stairs and now I was 15 minutes away from finishing an insane two hour workout. I started to cry, but this time with a smile on my face.

Today, my body can skate, bike, skip, swim, walk, trapeze, rock climb, carry heavy stuff, and even run up those damn steps at work. Losing weight was a nice side-benefit of gaining strength and endurance. My body image and self-esteem has never been better. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days where I obsess over a number on the scale and bad-mouth my thighs; it’s hard not to be critical of ourselves in a world that bombards us with the message that thin is beautiful. The message we need to hear is that beautiful bodies aren’t necessarily the ones that fit in a certain size or grace magazine covers in bikinis, beautiful bodies are strong and healthy enough to take you where you want to go (even if you just want to go up the stairs).

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2011 New Year's Resolutions

Unlike most of the population, I am a New Year’s Resolution person who remembers their resolution well past January 2. This wasn’t always the case. For many years I made the same resolutions with the same poor results. I always vowed to lose twenty pounds or stop biting my nails. 364 days later I’d be celebrating New Year’s Eve with short nails and a big bottom. A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with a wellness coach who exposed my resolutions for what they were; vague, unmanageable, intangible, and unrealistic. My resolutions were admirable, but I kept setting myself up for disaster without the right tools for success.

The tool I was given was the concept of SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 3 years later I’m down over 30 pounds, have visited several new countries, and spend more time with my spouse (admittedly, I still bite my nails). Each goal has to be something I can take action on, measure that action (I’m a check-list/spreadsheet kind of girl myself), and have someone hold me accountable for. Rather than set a goal of losing 20 pounds, I set a goal of losing 10 pounds through exercising X number of days per week, and cutting back on my social drinking. As anyone knows me can attest, I haven’t done very well with any resolution focused on writing more but it’s a new year and time to try once again to become a better person mentally, physically, and emotionally and share the journey with you.

Goals: What do I want to accomplish this year?

  • Career: Attain a new job. This might not happen this year but I need to start taking steps on taking my career to the next place/level.
  • Finance: Become more financially responsible. I’m awful at finances. I have no debt, but I have no savings beyond the retirement stuff I can’t touch. I’m 35 now, time to get my finances in order.
  • Health: Lose 10 Pounds. This is a stretch goal. I’m at the last 10 and understand it will come off slower. It’s also not 100% necessary, I only need to lose 5 to have a “normal” BMI.
  • Health: Practice Preventative Care. Everyone should make this a goal, catching health issues early is the best way to stay healthy and alive.
  • Home: Organize Home. We’ve been in our casa for nearly 6 years and there is still so much to make it run smoother, happier, and be ours.
  • Personal Growth: Keep growing. I like being smarter, having new experiences, being more well-rounded. I think it makes me a better person.
  • Relationship Be a better wife and friend.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions: How I plan on accomplishing my goals.
  1. Update Resume by 3/31/2011 (Completed by 1/15/2011)
  2. Interview for another job by 6/30/2011 (Completed by 1/14/2011- New Job 4/18/2011)
  3. Do not buy anything from China or India in 2011 (rationale: it’s usually cheap shit I don’t need)
  4. Save $4000
  5. Practice an average of four AFDs per week (208 for year)
  6. Workout at least 260 days this year with a minimum of 225 group fitness classes
  7. Spin at least 1.75 times per week (91 for year)
  8. Resistance train (Yoga, CORE, Strength) 2 times per week (104 for year)
  9. Conduct Self Breast Exam one time per month (12 for year)
  10. Have Yearly Medical Exam (Completed 2/17/2011)
  11. Hang Hallway Portraits
  12. Paint Dining Room (current color = gross)
  13. Paint and Organize Garage
  14. Learn Backgammon
  15. Read 12 Books (2 Career Related)
  16. Take 1 Photography Class
  17. Write 12 Full-Length Blog Articles (52 is just way too demanding)
  18. Call Long-Distance Friend 2 times per month (24 for year)
  19. Go on in-town date with Wade one time per month (12 for year)
  20. Romp in the Hay at least twice a week (104 for year) (Been married almost 10 years and must make sure we stay atop each other's priority lists)

2010 Resolutions: I had them, didn't write about them (really bad adhereance to writing resolutions). I worked out, I added a new continent to my passport, I finished painting the interior of the house, I didn't save money, write enough, or sadly, have enough romps in the hay.

2009 Resolutions

2008 Resolution Recap

2007 Resolution Recap

2007 Resolutions