On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog

1 Comment

Today: All kinds of Olympic inspiration.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Ever have one of those weeks where…

You stay up too late watching the Olympics (even though you’d seen the spoiler alerts and knew, sadly, that the flying squirrel would fall of the beam), have trouble waking up the next morning, spend too much time playing “spin around, tiny man” with you dog and not enough time picking out a reasonable outfit, forget to eat breakfast, fail to pack a good lunch and snacks, get stopped by every single Greenpeace volunteer in Boston on your way to find something half-edible and fully vegetarian, accidentally write clear across your chest in black pen when editing a report, somehow get a bruised toe during your soccer game, feel cranky and say something (hilarious, but) rude to the other team’s goalie, forget that you tucked your wallet under the driver’s side floor mat and search endlessly for it, get home way past your bedtime, and, forgetting how the day started… you turn on the Olympics again?  Maybe?  Minus the being rude part?

[Image source]

Regardless of the fact that the Olympics have kept me up late (which reminds me, I need to delete the NBC Olympics app.  It’s the ultimate spoil sport.), they provide no shortage of inspiration.  And I’m not just talking about the Olympians’ physiques, though, um… two words: beach volleyball.   The people, the stories, inside those bodies is what really gets me.  (If that sounded creepy, this was not my intention.) I don’t know about you, but that VISA commercial featuring US track athlete Lopez Lamong has me welling up every, single time.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about running, mostly because I’ve spent a lot of time… well… running over the past few years.  In the weeks after the 2011 New York City Marathon, as I pathetically limped from here to there, unable to get out for a run, I was reminded that– for me– running is a luxury.  It’s a privilege.  It’s something I do because I have free time, safe streets, comfortable sneaks, and someone to look after my dog.  When have I ever run out of true necessity?  When have I ever run to survive?

If you’re interested in learning more about the so-called “Lost Boys of Sudan,” I highly recommend reading God Grew Tired of Us (A Memoir), by John Bul Dau with Michael S. Sweeney.  Have tissues at the ready.  It’s crushing and uplifting all at once.

There are so many other inspiring stories to come out of the Olympics, a few favorites:


One of my favorite images, so far, though has been one of sheer joy.  Certainly something worth staying up late for.

[Image source]

Yes, Robert Harting.  Yes, yes, yes.

Also On Tap for Today:


What is your favorite Olympic story so far?

1 Comment

Today: Two giant hearts.

Jim Dine's Two Big Black Hearts (and one complete weirdo)

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was scrolling through my While 29 list the other day and realized I’d better get cracking.  My 29th year is almost half over, after all.  With warm, sunny days upon us, I’m in a more adventurous mood.  I think my hibernation period might be over (until next winter).  I hopped over to the deCordova‘s website to check their hours this morning, as the museum was one of my “to visits,” and saw that Bank of America was sponsoring free admission this weekend through their Museum on Us program.  The program runs the first full weekend of each month.  Perhaps a fraction of my bank fees are doing some good, rather than padding some rich old man’s pocket?

I love things that cost… free… and I’ve been wanting to check out the deCordova since my quirky drawing professor had an installation there.  That was 2004.  I’ve been busy, but not that busy.  Needless to say, my professor’s installation is long gone, but it was well worth the visit, regardless.  Side bar: My sister and I took that drawing class together.  She was an eager freshman, and I was a hungover senior.  By some miracle of creativity, an all-nighter before my final critique and a mountain of BS, I got an A.

Back to the deCordova.  We arrived just before 11 and had no wait at the drive-through admission booth.  We flashed our BOA cards, were given maps, and headed to the main parking lot.  We visited the museum itself first, and then wandered the grounds.

The museum and sculpture park are tucked around the corner from the center of Lincoln.  The juxtaposition of old farm homes and looming, modern sculpture is quite fun.  A few of my favorite sights:

Mirror image sculptures inside and outside the museum

The rooftop terrace

My favorite piece, John Wilson's Eternal Presence

Exploring Ron Rudnicki's Rain Gates

Rick Brown's Butterfly Effect

Douglas Kornfeld's Ozymandias (and my boyfriendias)

A chipmunk enjoys Alfred Duca's Pegasus

I took quite a few pictures, so if you’re interested in checking out the rest, hop on over to Facebook. The deCordova provided the perfect escape from the city, and a great chance to wake up my brain a bit.  I picked up a set of watercolor pencils on a whim last week, and am now itching to crack open a fresh sketchpad.

Maybe I could teach my own drawing class?  A sketchball teaches sketching… it has a nice ring to it.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite museum to visit?  Are you a fan of modern art?


Today: Like a fine wine.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] There is still time to enter the Stages of Beauty giveaway, ladies …and gentlemen who might want to win a fabulous line of skincare products for a lady in their life.  I will accept entries until 7PM Boston-time (I don’t fully grasp the whole time zone thing) and post the winner tomorrow morning.


I am having so much fun reading your responses to the question What do you love most about your age?, and wanted to share some of your answers.  We really are like fine wine it would seem, gettin’ better and better with age.

Cheers to getting older and more and more awesome.

[Photo source]

From your responses:

The Twenties

  • What I love about my age is that I’m old enough to realize that things I worried about when I was younger don’t really matter, but I’m young enough to still change, learn, and grow.
  • I’m fearless.  I feel like my whole life is ahead of me and I’m unstoppable.
  • Life is getting better and better with age.
  • I look forward to the adventures and “unknowns” ahead.
  • During my twenties, I can put aside external pressures and just do what I love.
  • I’ve grown and experienced so much in my twenties: discovering love, traveling and doing what makes me happy.
  • I love the time to find myself, find stability in work, love and self-confidence.
  • I’m returning to my love of writing and learning to be more confident.

The Thirties

  • In lots of ways I don’t think MY life really began until my 30′s and I started to think about and pursue what I wanted instead of what I thought I was supposed to want.
  • Now that I’m in my 30s, I feel like I get more respect than I did in my 20s (and god forbid, before that).
  • Instead of worrying about what’s the ‘right’ way or ‘right’ path I am pursuing my interests and doing what I like.
  • I feel wiser and cooler than ever.
  • I feel free and am happy with who and where I am in my life.
  • I’m closer to finding myself.

The Forties

  • I’m more confident and content in my personal life.
  • What do I love about my age?  I love everything!
  • I feel more confident than I ever have.
  • I don’t care as much about what other people think and I am having more fun than ever with my children.

The Fifties

  • My relationship with my sisters and my daughter developed into strong friendships during this time. In my 50′s those friendships have grown even more deep. I find I do things differently now than I would or could have any other period in my life.
  • 50+ is the new 40!

I think Karen sums it up so well.  She said, “With age comes wisdom, confidence and knowing what is most important in your life.”  Thank you all for sharing these thoughtful, inspiring answers.  I’ll do my best to update this throughout the day.

Please be sure to enter the giveaway, if you haven’t already, by visiting this post.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Drinks with the girl next door.  Literally.
  • Make iPad wielding Nick download this app and read to me every night.
  • Write back to my new middle schooler penpal 🙂

What’s On Tap for your weekend?


Today: 26.2 miles of smiles… Part II.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] If you like to do things in order (you’re probably one of those people who reads the directions), and you’re wondering what happened to the first 20 miles, feel free to start with Part I. Or maybe you just want to dive in, you wild thing, you.

Here we go again. I’m guessing I misjudged my mileage in Part I, because I seem to have omitted the Animal Kingdom entirely.  Maybe I was high.  You know, with runner’s high?  Or maybe I just can’t handle simple math.  To make up for my error, here’s a photo of me, awkwardly posing with Chip and Dale.

10 points if you know which one is which.

The route through the Animal Kingdom was shady (in a good way), and offered a welcomed break from the heat.  Our little Southie team planned to visit that park the following day– marathon finishers got free admission, so it was nice to get a preview.  I even got to see some live monkeys!

What an unhelpful photo. The monkey's in the center-right.

Soon we were back on the road.  As I neared Mile 21, a bit of panic set it.  Our training plan maxed out at 20 miles, so I was entering uncharted territory.  Would I hit the proverbial wall?  Would I die, you know, like that fabled Greek soldier, the second I crossed the finish line?  I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  Mostly because I didn’t study the course map very well.

Disney has a way of making even physical pain look cute!

Whoever said that Disney is the happiest place on Earth was clearly unfamiliar with Miles 20 and 21 of the Walt Disney World Marathon, an out-and-back stretch of highway.  I had no idea how far out I’d have to run before the hairpin turnaround, and considered laying down on the pavement so I could be trampled and henceforth have a legitimate excuse to seek medical attention.  But there were people watching.  And I think that sort of behavior is general frowned upon.  So I kept running, and I kept smiling (like a maniacal freak person).

Sarge from Toy Story and Elizabeth from Weirdo Story.

Nearing Mile 22, we climbed an on-ramp and I was once again thankful to have been training in our hilly neighborhood.  Sarge from Toy Story was yelling to runners, “Climb that hill, civilians!  Double-time it!”  It was nice to see that I wasn’t the only person on the course wearing makeup.  There was no line, so I took a mini-hill break for a photo.

I worried that I had begun hallucinating when an accordion band, people jumping on a trampoline, and a woman holding an owl started popping up along the side of the road.  Scrolling through my digicam, there seems to be no photographic evidence of any of these… so maybe I was hallucinating.  Can anyone confirm or deny?

I  barely used my iPod at all, listening only to a bit of Michael Jackson during the long stretches of highway.  Shortly after stalking Sarge however, there were speakers along the road playing “Sweet Caroline” over and over and over.  I love the Red Sox (and Neil Diamond, sort of) as much as the next girl, but this was a bit much.  I tried to drown Neil out with my own music, and subsequently went deaf for a minute or two.

I’m sorry, did you say something?

This photo is surely a Code Orange on the Spandex Terror Index.

Mile 23 brought us through Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  While standing in line for the photo above, a woman asked me who I was running for.  She was running for her son.  I could feel the tide of emotion rising and wondered if I’d be able to keep it together for the last few miles.  Then I was distracted by a group of tourists taking a bunch of pictures of me, standing in line…  That didn’t strike me as odd until just now.

New York City, Florida.

The route  took us through the behind-the-scenes and costuming areas, which was rather cool.  I knew my friends Kristine and Christie, who ran the half marathon the day before (wahoo!), were planning to be in the park, so I kept an eye out as I came around each corner and tried to look as alive and well as possible.

These half-marathoners are fully awesome.

Shortly before exiting Hollywood Studios, an older woman called out, “Thank you, Elizabeth” in a voice that rang out above all the others.  Later, my teammate Amy would mention that same woman– she was thanking every Team member as they passed her.  I burst into tears.  Fortunately, there was a little narrow curve that took us behind a building before the next cheering section, providing just enough time to catch my breath and stabilize (a little).  Though I was still running, albeit at the speed of an injured slug, and my body felt strong, at this point I was emotionally exhausted.

As I rounded the corner, a TNT coach whom I had seen earlier on in the course called out, “Great to see you still smiling, Elizabeth!” and I couldn’t help but laugh.  I was ready to be done.  I exited Hollywood Studios and worried that I had run right past Kristine and Christie.  And then I saw them, about a quarter mile away, standing on a bench.  I started waving frantically and suddenly had the energy to sprint up to them.  Man Women, that was exactly what I needed.  Thank you!

So close... yet so necessary to document.

I spent the last two miles in the proverbial zone.  I remember running along the Boardwalk and through Epcot, but it was pretty much a blur.  As much as I felt like I had been running forever, it was hard to believe I was nearly done.  I stopped to have my photo taken at Mile 26, which in retrospect seems basically demented.  Why stop now?  I could hear the crowds cheering, but um… I sort of didn’t want it to be over.


South Boston Victory Tour 2011.

After a quick right hand turn, the finish line was before me.  There were people clapping and yelling, a Gospel choir singing, and… it was over.  Before I knew it, there was a medal around my neck and an over-sized piece of tinfoil being wrapped around my shoulders.  I am a marathoner.  I got to the finish line, with a lot of help from my friends.

A few final (um… until I start talking about this again) thoughts on the experience:

  • The marathon is a gift you give yourself. Like most experiences in life, you get out of it what you put into it… but I hobbled away from the marathon feeling like I had hit the jackpot.  I learned a lot about myself during those hours on my feet, and over the course of our training.  I proved to myself that I can do something pretty incredible.   I overcame physical weakness with emotional strength I didn’t know I had.  And on top of that, I had a really, really good time (as in experience, not clock time… obvi).
  • The marathon is a gift your fellow runners give you.  Unlike 5k or 10k races, people actually talk to one another during a marathon.  The “we’re all in this together” spirit is pretty unbelievable.  My marathon experience feels sort of like a quilt of people sewn together.  It boasts patches of Endorphin Dude, TNT runners from chapters across the country, and a leukemia survivor from Long Island that I was blessed to run alongside for a quarter mile or so.  These people gave me laughter, inspiration, and courage.
  • Running a marathon is hard. That’s sort of the point. There were moments that broke my heart, and miles that nearly broke my legs.  There were times when I wanted to quit, and felt so sick that I worried I would have to quit.  But nothing– nothing– can compare to the overwhelming joy I felt when being thanked by a spectator, encouraged by a coach or fellow runner, and having a big, fat medal draped around my neck.  I did it.  And if I can do it, you can too.

I am so thankful for all the kind words, and I appreciate your letting me share this experience.  And I am sorry for the Spandex photos.  Very, very sorry.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your big goal for 2011?  I need a new challenge to take on. 🙂



Today: 26.2 miles of smiles… Part I.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Here it is, folks.  The post you’ve all one or two people have been waiting for.  I thought about naming this post How to Run a Marathon with IBS, or A port-a-potty marathon with some running breaks gingerly thrown in for fun…. but I don’t want to be a party pooper.  Get it?  Sorry.  Despite my stomach’s best efforts to run me off course, I can proudly say, I am a marathoner.  I ran 26.2 miles and, yes, I smiled the whole way… to the point that fellow runners probably wanted to physically harm me.  I just couldn’t help it.  I had the time of my life.

Up close and personal. At 3 AM.

At 2:2o on Sunday morning our alarm went off.   After getting dressed and sweeping on a coat of mascara (for the cameras, hellooooo), I set out to accomplish something that still seemed impossible.  Me?  Run a marathon?  Even after months of training, blood, sweat and a few tears,  we shuffled to the starting corrals in the pitch black of the (very) early morning.  I still wasn’t convinced I’d be crossing the finish line.

This is what a bunch of strangers look like in the dark.

I had a well thought out race plan, a loose goal time, and enough Lady Gaga to launch the Spanish Armada.  I had Gu.  I had Chapstick.  I had throwaway clothing and a fully charged camera battery.  Once Nick and I were herded into our separate corrals, I was left to my own pathetic devices.  Should I go hide in the woods?  Maybe I should take a little nap?  I chatted with a woman who hadn’t trained.  I felt terrified for her, more terrified than I did for myself.  Before I knew it, fireworks were booming overhead and we were moving.

Boom, boom, pow.

The first 4 miles flew by.  I used to think that anyone who said “the miles flew by” was a liar, an a-hole, or a robot.  Or all three.  Turns out, it can really happen.  Cool!   I found our South Boston Team in Training teammates Amy and Bryan and we passed a little time making animal noises.  I don’t really know why, but I know it sure was enjoyable.  This was right around the time I got my first glimpse of Endorphin Dude, my favorite costumed runner on the course.  As people called out to him, he made superhero noises and threw imaginary endorphins their way, calling, “Here are some endorphins for Mile 20… take these endorphins with you for miles 17-25,” and so on.  Plus, he had a really cool Jimmy Neutron hairdo.  I wanted to hug him.  But I needed to keep running.

When you see a sign welcoming you to one of the parks, it means you have to run roughly 3 miles before you get anywhere close to that park. That's why most people drive. Or take the monorail.

Mile 4.5 ish took us through Epcot.  It was still dark and cold, but my throwaway fleece was getting to be a bit much.  I discarded it (to be picked up and donated by race volunteers later) below the giant golf ball thing… and thought about running back for it when I got cold again a few miles later.  “Mad props for starting your year off with a marathon, Elizabeth,” a race volunteer yelled.  My face already ached from smiling and I was barely a 1/5 of the way done.


I passed one of the first medical tents at Mile 5, and though I had already hit up the port-o-potties, like, 5 thousand times, I was thankful to not need any sort of real medical attention.  A fellow runner, however, went screaming into the tent like her shorts were on fire, yelling, “I’m fine!  I just need to get this toenail out of my sock.”  There was a collective vomit-in-our-mouth noise from the pack as we continued on.  I kept thinking, what we are doing is caaaa-razy.  At Mile 6, we looped over the highway, and around and down an off ramp, passing over and then under fellow runners.  It was incredible to see the trail of runners going on, literally, for miles.

This is what strangers look like at daybreak.

Miles 7-10 were rather uneventful, though there were plenty of bands, cheerleaders, DJs and Disney characters to break up the long stretch of road.  I chatted with fellow Team in Training runners and kept a slow, even pace.  I was surprised at how strong and calm I felt.  A TNT (because they couldn’t really use the abbreviation t..i..t..) coach from Southern Florida joined me around Mile 9 for a few minutes.  He broke down the next few miles for me, and gave me a good idea of what to expect.  On the opposite side of the road, runners were tackling the stretch between the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom.  This would be one of the most difficult stretches, the coach told me.  Having a better sense of what was ahead kept me focused on conserving mental and physical energy.  He also told me his wife, a fellow coach, grew up not far from my hometown, and that she’s be on the course near Mile 18.  I cannot say enough about how incredible the on-course support is from Team in Training.  This is something I truly did not expect, and it so positively impacted my marathon experience.

The DJ on the bridge was not taking requests.

By Mile 10, I could see Space Mountain and Cinderella’s Castle as we took on a slight hill (nothing compared to the hills of South Boston, but an incline nevertheless).  There was a huge turnout of spectators as I entered the Magic Kingdom alongside a few runners from the TNT Gateway Chapter. I stopped on Main Street to have my photo taken with one of the many race volunteers in green jackets.

I am the female Guy Smiley.

My pace was far enough off my goal at this point that I knew I had a choice:  try and make up for “lost time” (and potentially kill myself trying), or commit to enjoying every, single minute of it (even the many, many minutes spent in line for the bathroom).  If the following pictures are any indication, I chose the latter.  My goal shifted from numbers to moments. I was going to savor each and every one.  And I was going to finish this marathon.  At this point, I just knew it.  And I think I just invented my new running mantra:

The moments matter more than the minutes.

That’s a keeper.  I should totally be a life coach.  For other people.  It’s not working out so great for myself.

Awkward pose #47 of the day.

Between Miles 10 and 11, I posed for photos with Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters, Prince Charming, and the castle.  I thought about posing with the Mad Hatter, but he creeped me out, so I sped on.  And by sped on, I mean I moved… but with very little speed.

Miles 11 through 16 were sort of boring, which is probably a good thing.  My legs still felt strong, but I wasn’t sure how long this would last.  There were still plenty of characters, water stops and entertainment along the way, but with no park or landmark in sight to focus on, these miles were a battle onto themselves, as fear and doubt seemed to be running alongside me.  And then there was the battle against the fumes coming from the waste treatment plant.  What I thought were Animal Kingdom smells turned out to be coming from Disney’s underbelly.  They don’t list that feature on the race pamphlet, that’s for sure.

Peter Pan kept saying "Hello there" in a creepy voice into my ear. I was scared. And nervous.

As we approached the Animal Kingdom at Mile 17 or so, I stopped for pictures with the crew from Peter Pan.  I figured my brother Christopher would get a kick out of seeing Smee… and me.   Miles 18 through 20 was another stretch of highway, including a few hills at the overpasses.  With the sun blazing down at this point, I was started to feel a bit nauseous and overheated.  And slightly cranky.  I may have entered what John Bingham referred to as the “Bite Me Zone” at our Team in Training Inspiration Dinner.  And then I saw this.

Cue the chills.

Kevin was running his World Record 116th marathon.  And he is mobility impaired.  How’s that for a kick in the Spandex?  I made sure to congratulate him, but only after wiping the tears from my eyes and the snot from my pointy little nose.  This is what it’s all about.

For the rest of the course, whenever doubt or fear crept in, I thought about why I was running.  Finishing the marathon would mark a tremendous personal achievement, but um… it’s not just about me.

It's about our heroes, too.

That paradigm shift was all I needed to exit the “Bite Me Zone” and re-enter the obnoxiously smiling zone.  That’s where I stayed… and that’s where I remain.  I’ll give you Miles 21 through 26.2 (or, according to my Garmin, 27.4….) soon.  There’s really no cliff hanger, since I already tooted my own horn about finishing, but I promise to bestow upon you some of the cheesiest photos of all time and regale you will stories of nearly needing to crawl into the bag check tent, while mumbling something about a gospel choir and Cool Ranch Doritos.

Update: Pop some popcorn and Read Part II here.

Also On Tap for Today:

When are you signing up for your first/next marathon? Come on… you knoooow you want to….  Is there anything you’re dying to know about running 26.2?

1 Comment

Today: High heels and the Hall of Fame.

Inspiration often comes from surprising places.  Take these shoes, for example.  You call them ugly, I call them… unexpected.

Photo source: thisnext.com

They’re half a size too big, but they were on sale for under $40.00 (that’s less than $20 a shoe!…) and in a sea of black pumps, they called out to me.  I paid the adoption fee, and took them home to their new closet.  Where they sat for six months, alongside a pair of equally neglected leopard pattern pony hair heels.

I had a big meeting to attend yesterday and hemmed and hawed over what to wear.  Hmm, which black on black combination will I break out today?  My work wardrobe is nothing if not uninspired during these hazy, hot, and humid days of summer.  And then I saw these babies peeking out from the recesses of my look-in (it’s like a walk-in, but different) and heard their Siren song once more.  They brightened up my outfit and my attitude.  Double whammy!

I marched to my meeting with confidence.  And I tried to play it cool when, inevitably, one of the heels became lodged between two cobblestones.  I can always count on Boston sidewalks to keep my ego in check.

Speaking of egos, the 2010 class was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame on Saturday night.  Nick was watching for Emmit Smith, and I was half-paying attention, half-reading Marie Claire.  When Floyd Little took the stage, however, I became captivated.  This was a man destined to stand before a microphone.  I was delighted to find the full text of his speech online, as his words were truly inspiring.

Here is an excerpt:

There’s no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final sports chapter in my life. This is obviously the highest honor any football player can garner. I stand here today celebrating my athletic life journey, and I understand significant. Everything else pales in comparison. Every player wakes up wishing to have this honor. I encourage you all to continue to dream for this moment. I have been favored by God and by those who have had a say in what happens to me.

But the road was not always so easy and clear. I remember being a strong but angry young man in school. I used my strength in ways that became my weakness. After being kicked out of school, I had reached an impasse in my life. Everything was done. My hopes were shattered and done. And then I had a vision from my late father that came to me and said, Floyd, I’ve chosen you to take my place, to do what I could not do, and to finish what I could not finish.

I came to myself. With the help of those who saw the good in me, I was re-enrolled back in school with determination. Not only did I become the president of my class, but I started my journey as a leader in everything that I did, and I never looked back.

Because of those that encouraged me in those early years, I am here today. So I want to encourage you, every student, every athlete, every person who will hear my voice, don’t listen to the naysayer. I had plenty of those. Don’t listen to those that will judge you for your rough edges. Don’t focus on your weakness so you won’t become a victim. Find the goodness in you that says, Yes, I can be a good student. Yes, I can be a good son and daughter. Yes, I can be a positive role model. Yes, I can, because the good in you is better than the worst in most. The choice is yours. Be the best that you can be.

I truly believe that none of us is anything until the least of us is something.
The great writer James Baldwin said, Naked I came into this world and naked I shall leave. We are bound to leave everything we accomplished in this lifetime behind, passing it on. So leave a legacy that you and your family can be proud.

I’ve given you the best that I’ve got. And I’m a better person for it. Thank you for being here with me and for me. I thank God for His favor today, and may God bless us all. Thank you so much.

Amazing, right?  Admit it, you kind of like the shoes, too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s inspiring you these days?