A Book Release + A Photo Shoot + A Road Trip + A New Career Path = Phew!

Greetings, dear readers! Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but things have been positively positive around here, swelling with new energy like crazy. I have great new things to share! An essay of mine just came out in a book, I took part in a fantastic Day of the Dead photo shoot, I went on a road trip through the U.S. southwest, and I’m starting school again in January for a total change in careers. And that’s not even counting the political changes here in the US. Lots of good going around! Read on for more!

Book Release! Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God

Last summer, I wrote an essay as a submission for an anthology and the book has just been released! It’s called Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection, and you can buy it on Amazon by clicking that link!

I’m part of 51 women, including Joyce Maynard and Christine Bronstein, writing about female friendship and life for an anthology that set out to share only positive stories about women! It has already received glowing reviews from Eve Ensler, Michael Krasny, Katherine Spillar (editor of Ms. Magazine), Peter Coyote, and many, many more.

My essay is about how I assisted a good friend with pre-natal yoga and then with the birth of her daughter, even though I don’t want to have children of my own. It’s about supporting friends and learning what it means to be a great auntie!

The other essays in the book cover everything from cancer and abortion to the challenges and rewards of finding friends later in life ~ the latter being someting I know we are all familiar with.

I do hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book for yourself and for your friends this holiday season, to help share the goodness and the power of positive female connection!

Photo Shoot: Tea Time de Los Muertos

I was honored to take part in a fabulous photo shoot spearheaded by my creative friend Rebecca of My Dirty Dishes and photogaphed by Barbara Jacqueline Photography!

Rebecca’s creative vision was a spooky tea party with Day of the Dead elements, which, if you know me, is one of my favorite holidays and creative visions ever! I’ve been making my own Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) art since I was in high school and was absolutely stoked to help out Rebecca.

With two other models, we spent the day helping everyone pull together this fantastic mis en scène, from tea party to tea party debauchery to ending up in the spooky elevator. It was a blast!

Check out the public photos on the Barbara Jacqueline Photography Facebook page by clicking the photo to your left or by clicking here!

And while you’re at it, check out some of my own Dia de los Muertos art on my Tumblr, Sugar Skull Senoritas and see some older stuff at my website, Spacekitten!

Road Trip: Sedona, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and More

I had the great fortune to take a 10-day road trip through the U.S. southwest and visit a bunch of places I’d never been to before, including Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree ~ all of which were amazing! I saw some old friends and family, some familiar places, and many unfamiliar places that were jaw-droppingly beautiful.

The Grand Canyon was simply amazing. If you are in the U.S. and have a chance to visit, do not pass it up! Seeing ancient stone from the beginnings of our planet up close really puts things in perspective. We are so new to this planet and the planet has so much history! Earth beings, let’s please respect Earth and not screw it up!

Here’s a short slideshow of the trip highlights. Enjoy!

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And Last But Not Least… Back to School for a New Career Path!

So! Many of you know I’ve been writing and editing for many, many years. I’ve also done other things along the way, including teaching yoga, corporate training, and even professional fire dancing. But for the past few years, I’ve been focusing on writing and editing as my career, since that is what I went to grad school for and, well, because I love it. I still do love writing and editing, but I was missing the human element, the face-to-face time, and the service aspect. One of my favorite things in life is helping people feel good! So, after a long decision-making process and TONS of research and soul-searching, I made my decision. Starting in January, I will be going back to school to become a licensed cosmetologist! OMG!

That means that all of this advice I’ve been giving over the last year in my 52 tips? It will all be legit! Haha :-) A lifetime love of all things hair, skin, and makeup will finally be made official. It also means that I will be on a career path that will put me in situations where I get to work one-on-one with people, face-to-face, hands-on, helping people to feel GOOD about themselves!

I truly can’t think of anything better than helping people feel good all day. Who doesn’t love to put a smile on people’s faces? And that’s what hair stylists, makeup artists, and skin care specialists do! It’s also a very creative career, which will allow me to channel my creative (writing) energy in a positive new direction.

Helping people feel good, providing service, being creative, and working one-on-one ~ BRING IT ON!  :-D

Staying Strong & Healthy

On that note, I am exhilarated just writing this post! But with so much going on, I definitely need to stay grounded and healthy. It’s more important than ever that I eat super-healthy and nourishing foods, get regular exercise including running, swimming, yoga, and strength training, and get plenty of sleep, relaxation, and quality time with my honey and our kitties.

As long as I focus, do my best, and take very good care of myself, all wonderful things will continue to bloom.

Tell me, now ~ how are you??

Llewellyn Moon Signs Book + San Francisco Marathon!

Greetings, dear readers! Happy Friday! I have two fun things to share with you today and I hope they make you smile, wherever you are.

The Wipro San Francisco Marathon—done!


The first announcement is that it’s done! I ran a marathon! Holy cow! I DID the San Francisco Marathon this past Sunday ~ success! It’s done, I did it… I done did it. ;-) And I’m more than happy with the way everything went! What a race! My awesome sister came into town for a week with her family, which was a blessing and joy, and a great way to relax before the race, being touristy and hanging out with good family. My race recap is short, folks:

  • 25,000-ish runners—9,000 doing the full marathon, everybody else doing the 1/2 marathon or the 5K
  • Early, early start time: 6am!
  • Hilly, hilly route
  • Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and back
  • Ran through Golden Gate Park, my favorite spot in the city to run :-)
  • Began and ended at the Ferry Building, near the Bay Bridge, a beautiful and scenic waterfront spot

My sis and I ran the entire race (except for short walking at water stations), a fact that makes me proud and yet not surprised. We both trained well for the race and we did it! In the few days since, we have also recovered… at least, for the most part. I’m still a little stiff when I wake up, but yoga helps with that (as always).

In sum, it was an excellent experience, from training through to the end! I’d be interested in possibly doing another marathon, but maybe something…less hilly? Chicago, perhaps! We shall see :-) Stay tuned.

Llewellyn’s 2013 Moon Sign Book—my gardening tip published!

The second announcement is that I am published! In a book! Actually, I’m published in TWO books, one of which will be coming out this fall (more to come on that…) but this first one is a cute little thing that I completely forgot about, and it’s available in stores now! Many moons ago, I answered a call for reader tips on gardening for this book… then never heard anything… until a few days ago, when I received the book in the mail, with my tip in it! It’s just a short blurb, but makes me very happy to see in print :-)

The book is Llewellyn’s 2013 Moon Sign Book, an astrological guide for pagan types and nature lovers, published by the wonderful New Age company, Llewellyn. The company’s online description says:

This essential planning tool can help you choose the best time to do almost anything: buy stock, get married, buy or sell your home, start a new job, travel, have surgery, and much more. With lunar timing tips on planting and harvesting and a guide to companion plants, this book is a gardener’s best friend.

In addition to New and Full Moon forecasts for the year, you’ll find insightful articles on 2013 eclipses and careers, moon goddess energy gardening, preserving your bounty, foraging for food, lunar fertility, and waxing Moon yardwork.

My gardening tip is in there, but I don’t want to give it away ;-) Tap into your lunar / yin / feminine essence and get thyself a Moon Sign book to own! (NOTE: I don’t make any money from this book ~ it’s just a fun little thing!)

Well, I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are. That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend. xo

Race Recap: Mermaid East Bay Run

Quarry Lakes sunrise, pre-race

When I signed up for the Mermaid East Bay Run many moons ago, I planned on doing their debut 18-mile race, called the Sirena18. But when my IT band started acting up a month ago, I knew that would be a poor choice, so I changed my race to the Half Marathon. I have the San Francisco Marathon coming up at the end of July (the full 26.2 miles), and keeping that training on schedule has been most important ~ I figured, if I had to run a shorter race to stay strong and injury-free, then so be it!

So for the last month, I tapered my runs, got a bunch of acupuncture, Qi Gong, and bodywork, reinstated my lower-body strength training, and practiced Yin Yoga to open up my hips. I also topped off my runs at 5 miles max. But on Friday, I got nervous about running a Half. I was sure I could do it, but I was afraid that 13.1 miles might push it too long.

And you know what? Heading into a race with fear is NOT something I ever, ever want to do! I race for fun and for fun only.

So, I decided to switch my race once again and do the 10K instead of the Half. It was a little humbling, but a smart choice :-)

So! The 10K it was!

Warming up in the parking lot

An extra bonus was that my friend Rebecca was going to be running the 5K. Her race started at 9:00 and the 10K started at 8:30, so it was likely that we’d be finishing at exactly the same time… which just sounded fun :-)

I crashed early on Friday, knowing I’d have to get up very early to drive to Fremont (an hour away), so I could change my race without having to wait in some huge line. So I was up at 5:15. Breakfast was a 2-egg omelet with mozzarella and spinach and a cup of coffee. Made it to the park just before 7:00 and had NO trouble at all changing to the 10K. Kudos, Mermaid team!

Rebecca and I met up around 7:30, and spent some time getting photos and browsing (shopping!) the expo. Fortunately, the parking lot was right there, so I was able to go back and forth to my car easily. SO convenient. At 8:15, I took some warm-up laps around the parking lot, then ate two date-and-coconut rolls for pure energy, and joined the crowd to line up. It was fun to have Rebecca there to chat away the nerves before the starting gun!

The stats:

  • Mermaid East Bay Run: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Sirena 18-miler
  • Quarry Lakes Regional Park, Fremont, CA
  • Trail and gravel path running
  • 70+ degrees, cloudless, perfect morning

The race:

  • My official final time was 55:01, a pace of 8:52/mile!
  • The 10K started at 8:30AM, out of the parking lot and around the lake area on a gravel path that eventually turned to trail.
  • I made sure to start off slow, so I could have negative splits ~ that is, so my miles would gradually gain speed instead of the other way around!
  • For the first mile, I focused on warming up and finding a pace I felt comfortable at. I also adjusted to running on the gravel, which was quite a bit rockier than I was expecting. My leg felt fine, as it usually does for the first mile.
  • By the second mile, I had found a rhythm and started to relax, watching the other runners and the scenery. The gravel had thinned out and became much easier to run on. I felt physically comfortable and strong.
  • Around mile 3, we had some nice shade. Runners and walkers from the Half and the Sirena18 were passing on their way back, which made for good people-watching while running.
  • Not much longer after that, we had the turnaround. I’d stopped at three water stations already and decided just one more. I was feeling really happy and the route was mostly flat and speedy.
  • Miles 4-6, I paced behind three women who were running a tempo I enjoyed. Near mile 5, I passed one of them and felt an extra surge of strength. I was also happy to notice that my leg and hip were not bothering me at all, and so I felt comfortable pushing just a little bit faster.
  • Near the mile 6 marker, I passed another one of the 2 pacers, and caught up with the third. At a mile to go, I decided to sprint. I could see the finish line and when I could hear the announcers, I told myself to just push it, that it was almost over, and to just all-out do the fastest I could.
  • Of course, the final portion was uphill! Why do race planners do that?? :-) Nevertheless, I kept at it and pushed nice and hard. I had just rounded the final bend when I heard, “Andrea!” and looked down the hill to see Rebecca making her way toward the finish line, also! It’s amazing how much energy hearing your name can give you. I bolted toward the finish line and crossed it feeling happy! Only a few minutes later, Rebecca crossed it also, and we were done!

Me & Rebecca: Mermaid Athlete Finishers!

Expo and post-race:

  • All racers got an adorable silver finisher’s necklace: a small circle pendant with the Mermaid Series “M” logo on one side and “inspire” on the other. We also got this T-shirt, which fits perfectly and is super-cute, to boot.
  • The expo was great. In classic Mermaid style, they had a photobooth set up, where you could get pictures wearing boas and holding personalized signs. Not only could you print the photos right away, they also had a station set up where you could Facebook and Tweet the photos right away, too!
  • Knowing how much some people like photos, they also had a backdrop set up with “Mermaid Finisher” on it, so you could capture your pride :-)
  • And, of course, they had all the great Mermaid schwag for sale: hoodies, T-shirts, hats, jewelry. Although I knew I’d be getting my finisher’s necklace after the race, I couldn’t help but also buy an adorable “Run” necklace before my run. Sterling silver and will keep me inspired!
  • After stretching it out, Rebecca and I skipped the post-race pancakes and headed into nearby Union City for a super-long, lazy, chowdown at a local greasy spoon called Baldie’s. I think we were there for, like, 3 hours.

Mermaid East Bay Run T-shirt

In sum, I’m very, very happy I decided to do the 10K. I’m confident I could have done the Half, but as I’ve said, at this point in my marathon training, it’s most important to stay fit and strong, and the Half simply would have been too big of a risk. I felt prepared and well-trained for the 10K, which boosted my confidence a lot.

As always with these races, I’m so grateful for my hilly routes around here. It makes the small hills in other parts of the Bay Area seem FLAT. I keep this in mind as I huff and puff through them every week, knowing they are great training grounds. But mostly, I am really grateful for feeling GOOD. I’m grateful that my leg is better and that I have the confidence again to return to adding mileage to my training. And perhaps most important, I’m way less nervous now about the marathon and am back to having excited butterflies, instead!

Race Recap: San Francisco Half Marathon

I’m happy to say my first half marathon was a success! Such a success, in fact, that I didn’t get any pictures! Well, I got two of the gorgeous sunrise. You know a race day bodes well when the sky looks like this at 7 a.m.:

Sunrise over Golden Gate Park

Sunrise over Ocean Beach

I took those two pictures, then left the camera in the car for the entire rest of the race. Bad blogger! Haha. So, in lieu of gorgeous race pics, I’ll sum up in actual words but I’ll keep it short, ’cause I know it’s Monday and your brains might not be 100% awake yet :-)

The stats:

  • Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K
  • 10,000 racers: 6,500 half marathoners and 3,500 5K-ers
  • Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway / Ocean Beach
  • 55 degrees or so and gorgeously sunny

The race:

  • First things first ~ I finished in 1:55:21! Which is way, way faster than I expected, to be honest. I thought I’d come in around the 2:10 mark.
  • The 1/2 marathon and 5K racers all started together, in GG Park.
  • For the first couple of miles, I simply focused on finding good spaces to run in and avoid being trampled.
  • Around mile 3, I got into my groove and started focusing more on my breath, form, and pace.
  • Miles 3-7 were a net downhill and quite easy and zippy. I figure that’s where I got most of my speed!
  • At mile 7, we turned from the park onto the Great Highway, which runs along Ocean Beach, for the remainder of the race.
  • Miles 8-10 were the most difficult, by far. The route itself was still pretty flat and easy, but I was starting to feel tired. I figured I could use a fuel boost, so I ate a Gu but didn’t have any water, which was a bad idea. The gooey stuff stuck to my throat a little, which caused me to slightly panic, thinking, “What if it glues my throat shut and I can’t breathe?” Totally rational, right? I slowed down and walked for about 20 paces until I got some saliva back, and downed a full cup at the next water station. Lesson learned: don’t eat a Gu if you don’t have water on you!
  • At the turnaround at mile 10, I got a new wind. It’s likely the Gu had kicked in, but it’s also because I knew I only had the 3 mile stretch left. From there, the home stretch was flat and fast. I wasn’t sore, but I was eager to finish strong. I kept my mind on my breath and my form, making sure I wasn’t running too fast or too slow. I was pretty sure at that point that I’d finish in under 2 hours, but you still never know, so I just kept plugging along.
  • The final .10-mile stretch back into GG Park was uphill ~ drat! That was definitely a challenge, but as soon as I spotted the finish line, I simply felt relief… and then was stoked to see my final time!


  • The park, of course, was a zoo, with 10,000 participants and friends and family roaming around.
  • I didn’t stop at any of the expo booths, except to pick up my race T, which is a nice dark blue, long-sleeved cotton shirt.
  • No, I was more eager to get back to the beach and meet up with my honey!
  • After a gigantic post-race brunch, we headed home, where I sat on the couch for the rest of the day: repolishing my tired toenails, watching the Super Bowl Madonna, and snacking until I literally fell asleep while still sitting up.

In sum, I feel like I was well-trained and prepared for the race. I’d eaten my regular breakfast of toast with almond butter, a pear, and coffee. Then I ate a (very large) date just before the start, then another at mile 4 and at mile 7. I brought pretzels, too, but didn’t touch them ~ it seemed like the dates were enough sugary fuel for 13.1 miles. I drank water at every water stop except the first two, which seemed to be enough, although I could probably have actually drank more from the cups than I did. But in general, I think I got enough water.

The hills I’ve been running on around here made the ones in the park feel utterly flat. So, as much as I dread them sometimes, I know they are awesome training grounds! The weather couldn’t have been better, nor could the view, and my experience with the race producers (Rhodyco) was nothing but good. I’m looking forward to doing this race again!

Why Sun Salutations are Such a Great Running Warm-up

Sunrise by Kazuyanagae [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons

It’s common knowledge these days that dynamic warm-ups are much better for you than static stretching before running, which can cause more harm than good. Dynamic warm-ups boost your heart rate, actively engage your muscles and open your joints, and get your blood and endorphins flowing!

Many runners, however, tend to focus only on the lower body when warming up by doing lunges, squats, marches, and knee-hugs. Those are a great way to get your legs and hips ready for a run… but what about your core, shoulders, and spine?

That’s where Sun Salutations play a vital role! They warm and energize your entire body, preparing your upper body and core muscles for a run in addition to prepping your lower body.

Tight shoulders, back, chest muscles, and arms can be a detriment to your running, causing other muscles to overcompensate and throwing your body out of whack. Warming up by moving your entire body can bring awareness and stability to those areas you might be neglecting.

Sun Salutations are a series of yoga moves performed in a specific sequence. Each move is done with either an in-breath or an out-breath. They are a complete, dynamic, full-body warm-up that use every muscle in your body while providing the benefits of standing poses, backbends, and inversions. There are a few variations, but here’s an example of a basic Sun Salutation suitable for yoga beginners and runners of all levels.

Simple Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation Sequence via Sivananda

Note: this picture starts the sequence at 9 o’clock and moves clockwise around the circle.

  1. Begin standing upright. Take a deep breath in as you reach your arms up overhead.
  2. As you exhale, fold forward and touch your fingertips to the floor. Bend your knees if you need to.
  3. Inhale as you straighten your spine and look forward (not shown in the image above. See here for pics).
  4. Exhale as you step your right foot back and come into a lunge. Keep your fingertips on the floor. Bring your right knee to the floor if you need to.
  5. Inhale as you step your left foot back also, coming into a plank (the top of a push-up) position.
  6. Exhale as you lower your entire body to the floor. Rest on your belly and un-tuck your toes.
  7. With your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, inhale as you lift your head and chest off the floor.
  8. As you exhale, lift your hips to the ceiling and bring your body into an inverted “V” position. This is Downward-Facing Dog.
  9. Inhale as you step your right foot forward, coming into a lunge like you did before, but on the opposite side.
  10. Exhale as you step your left foot forward, next to your right foot. Touch your fingertips to the floor, bending your knees if you need to.
  11. Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and all the way up overhead, reaching up strongly.
  12. Exhale as you release your arms back to your sides.

Repeat the whole sequence 3-5 times. I guarantee your heart rate will be up by the time you’re finished! Now that you’re feeling warmed-up, have a great run!


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