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Spark Meetup - State College Arts Festival! With photos!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

KAKIPOPUP and I finally met this last Sunday, July 17th! She drove over to State College from Indiana, PA, and we met at Wegmans for a sushi lunch before going down to the yearly Arts Festival which is held downtown and on the Penn State campus. It turned out that we have a lot of things in common, not least being that we both love sushi - so the day was off to a great start!

We parked near the campus and walked in - that spark fitness came in handy since I racked up over 20,000 steps on my pedometer on Sunday! We parked next to this very interesting house which dates from 1917 - amazing stonework!

Artists come from all over the USA to exhibit at this festival - it is a juried show - and many items are quite expensive but there are always some lovely things to see and some are even affordable. We were lucky to go on a Sunday since things were not so crowded with people.

I am going to post some photos I took on the previous days just to give you an idea of what the fest is like. We walked in on Allen Street - the location of the kids' favorite place to cool off...

Such fun to watch them getting wet!

There is also a kind of "misting" gizmo which you can walk through to cool off. This gives an idea of what the crowds were like on Saturday - the crowds we missed!

We walked up the center of the campus, along the avenue of elm trees, and just had to have some Penn State Creamery ice cream. There's a lovely rock garden and pool nearby which was the perfect place to enjoy it - and to watch a family of ducks cooling off in their fashion...

We enlisted a young photographer to take our picture so that you would believe we were there...

Kaki is very camera shy, but I fooled her into forgetting that I was taking her photo!

She has a wonderful smile! We enjoyed getting to know each other so much and we found a lot to talk about as well as to laugh about and to observe - the arts fest is a great place for people-watching.

The reggae group Earthtones played for an hour and a half, and we had a great time listening. I did a lot of dancing and Kaki enjoyed watching the kids and the people gathered around. People of all ages were dancing, which was cool - I'm afraid my pictures don't show that too well, though.

Here is the lead singer of the Earthtones - he is wonderful.

And here are the terrific young ladies who really had the reggae moves - they were hot hot hot!

Here they are again, with the guy who dances onstage and always has a wonderful costume as well as a baton that he twirls...

And there was some freelance twirling going on in the audience as well...

When the concert was over, we went back to Allen Street, near the water gizmos, and listened to a contra band called Smash the Windows, and did a little freestyle dancing of our own - fun!

And the perfect way to end the day - with Indian food! I should have taken a photo but it was a little dark in India Pavilion where we went for dinner. We shared two dishes, one of grilled lamb kebabs and the other of salmon with coconut/tamarind sauce. Yum!

It is amazing to discover how very much we have in common - I know we all sense that here on Spark - but when we actually meet, it turns out that there is even more to discover and it's all good. I felt very blessed to be able to spend time with Kaki and turn a virtual friend into a real time friend.

Spark meetups are emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Try it, you'll be glad you did!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Wow, what a great visit you two had. Thank you for sharing!

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CHIPPEE 7/22/2011 8:55PM

    Loved your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful day with us! emoticon emoticon

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CELLO23 7/22/2011 5:58AM

    This looks lovely - glad you had a great time! emoticon emoticon

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KAKIPOPUP 7/21/2011 6:02AM

    I'm so glad your camera worked - none of my pictures came out....I had a great time, too!

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MAMADWARF 7/21/2011 12:31AM

    Thanks for sharing!!! Loved seeing the pics!!!

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CJWORDPLAY 7/20/2011 10:42PM

    Thank you, thank you for taking the pictures and sharing your Spark get-together. I'm happy for you. And what fun! - Makes me wish I had been there with you two. Might I entice you folks to venture out to the NW? How about checking out our Jazz Festival or Bokka Marimba?

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Living moment by in pursuit of a goal

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm moved to think about this by MEZZOANGEL's most recent's actually been on my mind since a good friend committed suicide on May 29th. None of us really understand why he did the sense that we all so deeply valued the moments he spent with us...but we do know that the pain of his moment-to-moment life had become too much for him to bear and that in a moment, he took his own life. He had made plans, goals if you will, of trips to visit his children and he was growing a new kind of vegetable in a cooperative project with one of his neighbor's children...among other things. But those goals did not hold him in life. Hm.

Paula made the very good point that many on this site are it too much to say obsessed?...with their goals for healthy living, weight loss, etc. to the point where, when the goal is attained, there is a sort of exhaustion reaction and a return to old habits. Not to say that goals are bad...but when goals get out of balance with the moment-to-moment joy of living that makes us want to live and gives us the energy to pursue goals in the first place, something is wrong.

I have been alternately goal-obsessed/goal-allergic/goal-conflicte
d for most of my life. As I think back, it began with my dad's often reproaching me and my mother for being "trifling" and "good-for-nothing" because the things we did were not productive enough in his eyes. And they certainly earned no money. My dad had his own struggles with the need to be productive and to support us adequately, and he didn't always bear them gracefully. So from early days I can remember feeling driven to find a way to make money in order to live, and feeling that I would have to be miserable in my work, because none of the things I loved made any money. It didn't make choosing a vocation any easier.

Cut to present day, post-divorce (marriage should never have happened, it was one of those desperate get-away-from-home, can't-support-myself things), nearing end of career as singer/voice teacher/music director. The career I have made required an incredible amount of discipline in order to achieve the goal of being good enough to win employment and respect in my field. I have always been conflicted about that discipline and have in many ways done just enough to achieve the goal, despite my very real interest in music and in singing. It's as though something about the presence of the goal poisons the process.

The first place in my life where this was directly addressed was years ago in yoga class, where I first heard the phrase "goal-oriented" used in a negative sense. My excellent teachers used it to describe the kind of yoga where you aim to imitate the look of the pose, rather than experiencing your body as it approaches the pose, as it relaxes and/or settles into the pose - to whatever degree it and you are capable of the pose. Being oriented toward the goal of the perfect pose robs you of the very process needed to find the pose. Wow.

This concept gradually opened up the process of practicing singing to opposed to the struggle for perfection in singing which created tension and technical problems. Without my journey to let go of goals in this negative sense, I could never have become a good singer. The work of H. Wesley Balk furthered my understanding of this in relation to performance and I was fortunate to find a graduate school where our teachers worked on this principle. Process, not product, was the focus. Every day, every rehearsal, I still find that the key is to focus on the process with awareness, and then the product comes. It may not come immediately, but it comes. Always. And the more joyfully and hopefully we can focus on the process, the better...

The approach of being in the moment has become second-nature to me when it comes to music, but I have had to relearn it when approaching my "goals" of losing weight and becoming more healthy by walking, running, eating differently. I have had to remind myself to do what I need to do in the moment for me and my body, whether or not that gives me the perfect result on the tracker that day or that week. The process has been most successful when I listened to me and gave myself the right to do/eat/exercise the way that felt right for that day.

Support can be found here for this approach - I think of CJ's most recent blog "Celebrating the Joy of Movement" and how she has discovered on her own her own way to dance which is enabling her to enjoy movement, rather than consider movement a "task" or a "goal" and hence something that she has to force herself to do.

I think also of the "Slowest Loser" and of Carolyn, and how she is so patient with herself and gives herself the right to take small steps toward healthier choices, and accepts herself even when she gains weight, but just starts again, knowing that the healthy choice IS the best choice, but you just gotta splurge sometimes and that is OK.

Inspiration comes in many forms. On the days I know I need to make myself run, I think of Esther getting out there no matter how she feels (with so much more going on in her life than I have in mine) - and I am always glad I did. But on the days when I KNOW I need the sofa, I am going to have the sofa and a good book - and the next day, I am glad that I did that too.

Thanks to yoga and to singing (which has been said to be "yoga for the inside of your body" - Stephen Colbert) for helping me rediscover the joys of being in the moment and in my body. Thanks to Spark for helping me connect that to healthier eating and moving. Right now, I have still not attained my ultimate goal of 130 lbs. It does not bother me at all, and I don't really care how long I take to do this, because I am happy, moment to moment, with the way I'm eating and living. Since early this year, I've been consistently 136-139 pounds, and I can see a progression toward healthier habits in my eating and in week-to-week exercise choices. I'm pretty sure that this will continue and grow, since I really love feeling stronger and having more energy. I don't feel my "goal" pressuring is just patiently out there...and I am moving toward it because I truly like the process.

There are lots of other things I want to do in life besides obsess about healthy living - "so many books, so little time" - so many places to go, people to meet and get to know, languages to learn, songs to sing, things to write.

I can do all those things, bit by bit, as long as I listen to my own inner voice and do the next thing that seems right. Truly focusing on the process is the key.

So Paula, you are so right. We each have to find our own way to this for ourselves. We have to encourage ourselves to take time for ourselves so we can feel our feelings about it and think our thoughts and get to the point where action feels right. All that stuff is good.

Have a wonderful day...and cherish each moment which is so precious and may never come again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CELLO23 7/2/2011 8:03AM

    This is a really thoughtful blog, Sara - lots to take in! I so agree about the odd conflict between product and process-oriented thinking.

It's especially interesting in the arts, and if you're brought up to be perfectionist or self-critical you can have a real struggle (sez one who knows :) because goals and competition are encouraged in the school system, yet perfection isn't possible. I imagine it's such a relief to find teachers who are sensitive to enabling a process and not jumping on mistakes.

I had a lightbulb moment lately when I realised that we are conditioned to fear mistakes, rather than recognise them for what they are - the only way to learn! I suspect a lot of people are kept from achieving their full potential by that. (Wish I'd had the lightbulb moment much earlier in life) emoticon emoticon

Ooh - thanks for posting this - has set me off mulling!

Have a lovely weekend! emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 6/22/2011 9:19PM

    WoW! What thought-provoking blog. Thank you for sharing so much of you.


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CELLISTA1 6/20/2011 3:12PM

    I've learned so much about you in this blog and I understand how your friend's suicide provoked such profound thoughts and feelings.

And of course I relate to the singer's challenge: one must be relaxed to sing well! Tension causes all kinds of technical, psychological, and emotional mess.

I don't do well with "goals," yet I still have to remind myself that every small change is adding to my health and well-being.

Thank-you so much for writing.

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 6/20/2011 1:47AM

    Your posts are very thoughtful and expressive of your astute insights.
I would like to offer my condolences on the death of your friend.

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    Good thoughts well expressed.

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CHIPPEE 6/18/2011 2:36PM

    Thank you so much for this blog, Sara. You are really finding balance in your life, something that I am striving for. You have certainly helped me with this blog.

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MAMADWARF 6/18/2011 2:02PM

    Very thoughtful blog, sara and you are right. I think I am lucky because I learned at a very early age (widowed at 19) that life is short and you have to enjoy it! Every day!.
I am grateful that I am able to enjoy this process and I think that is why I have been successful in being dedicatedd to losing wieght. While I have been on vacation, I have over eaten on occasion, I did lots of active things that I had no way of calculating and I probably gained a few pounds. SO what. I had a great time and enjoyecd my life and my friends and my man. I will get back to schedule when I get home becase I feel better when I do but I will not kick my own ass for living my life and I refuse to have regrests...Love ya, sister!

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EXENEC 6/18/2011 1:46PM

  An excellent, inspiring and beautifully thought out post. Thank you.

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5K Playlist for quirky runners age 50 and up!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Today I did W7D1 of the rookie run training for the Spark Virtual 5K. I was surprised that I only cheated once - on the 4th or 5th leg when the run segment had me going up a long hill fairly steep at the end. So I did walk for 1 minute of that run segment... emoticon

But all things considered, not too bad for a 65-year-old! emoticon emoticon

It occurred to me that my playlist was a BIG part of my success. AND that my playlist has a lot of quirky things in it - but also some really fun oldies that work great for running. So I thought I would share. Not always easy to find approximately 4 minute songs that work for running!


The first two are by Abba and you will recognize them!

Now another of my faves, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Canadian folk-rock, from their album Love Over and Over...

These are not available as mp3s - but the album is great. Songs are Son, Sun Shining on the Water (4 mins.) and Move Over Moon (3:11 minutes - I used it for week 6).

Now a real blast from the past. This came for leg 4 or 5 just when I really needed a boost...

And here's another oldie...

A lot of Elton John is either too long or too short for this playlist...but this one's just right!

Here's another quirky choice - Cha Cha Lounge, the cut titled Brazil...

A terrific jazz CD with lots of runnable stuff on it!

Now what about those 1-minute segments? Here's where I get really quirky but it works, because no need for a particular tempo when you're walking.

Bach does very nicely! Check out the shorter tracks. Almost any recording of this will do but this one is available in mp3s...

If you want to get REALLY different, try Samuel Barber's song cycles - I have sung most of these short songs. They're recorded here by Cheryl Studer and Thomas Hampson. Wonderful, and just the right length...

And another...

Folk music does well for shorter cuts - I have a Chieftains song on here, The Arrival of the Wren Boys, and also some cuts from Jay Unger's Civil War recording - When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Kingdom Coming, Angel Band.

So with the aid of these songs to move by, I MOVED MY BUTT! emoticon and here's to all who are running the Virtual 5K! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEENY_BIKINI 4/7/2011 4:44PM


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CELLISTA1 4/4/2011 12:00PM

    I love it!

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CLAUDECF 4/4/2011 10:17AM

    Well done, Sara! emoticon

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SARAWALKS 4/4/2011 9:55AM

    Thanks, Kaki and Victoria!
Well, Kaki, our taste in food isn't far apart either - loved the bean/kielbasa dish, I made it last night! emoticon

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KAKIPOPUP 4/4/2011 4:44AM

    Your taste in music sounds a lot like my taste in music -

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    emoticonVery impressive!

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SARAWALKS 4/3/2011 7:41PM

    Yes, I'll rest tomorrow! It's going to be very rainy here so that will be good.
Thanks, Dewacha! Enjoy the tunes! emoticon

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MEGA_MILES 4/3/2011 7:40PM

    So much for a restful Sunday doing nothing emoticon

Looks like you get to rest tomorrow.

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DEWACHA 4/3/2011 6:52PM

    I love this Sarah - thanks for sharing! I have an Mp3 players with some of the "oldies" on it - and I love them. But was just thinking today... I need to get some more tunes to walk and run with.


And AWWWESOME WITH THE RUNNING! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Here's to the wearin' o' the green!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

And, if you like, some emoticon as well - I am having some delicious Irish soda bread from Wegman's!

They gave away free tastes, with Irish butter and Irish latte - which was pretty good too!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MERRIKATE 4/4/2011 1:32PM

    If ever you want to make your own (stovetop or oven), I've some fab recipes to share -- including one that uses whiskey-soaked currants! It's a quickbread, no yeast needed. Just holler anytime, even next March, and I shall provide.

Of Irish heritage meself, so love the stuff rathah tooooo much.


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    That bread looks good!

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CJWORDPLAY 3/17/2011 6:52PM

    Yum! And the Irish makes it even better, doesn't it! emoticon

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CLAUDECF 3/17/2011 2:38PM

    Looks delicious!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SKINNYPOWELL1 3/17/2011 2:33PM

    Oooh my, that's looks "to die for".

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Running - week 4, day 1 - woot!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just a quick blog here since you know I was thinking this day of running would be...harder...maybe not so great...BUT

It was actually fine! emoticon

I must say that it helped to load up the old iPod with a new playlist, alternating 2 minute songs with 3 minute songs -- but do you know how hard it is to find songs that are close to that length and suitable for running? Anyway, I got close enough for government work...

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And I must say I was happy that my klezmer songs came up after legs 4 and 5 of the run, when I REALLY needed that musical boost! emoticon

Weather was perfect for a run...and although I was more tired than usual at the end, I was not exhausted. So I'm actually looking forward to W4D2!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAKIPOPUP 3/15/2011 5:10AM

    nothing like a good playlist to keep you going - emoticon emoticon

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SARAWALKS 3/14/2011 11:09PM

    CJ, I gotta say klezmer will have you scooching all sorts of things! emoticon
Wonder if this emoticon will multiply...

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CJWORDPLAY 3/14/2011 11:06PM

    Whoa - glad to hear you had a good run. As for me, the Klezmer music would get me moving too. Maybe I could skooch my chair at a good enough clip to qualify???


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SARAWALKS 3/14/2011 11:03PM

    Spark, emoticons are doing strange things, they are multiplying without instruction!
I did NOT mean to put in all those winks and I DID mean to put in more runners - but Spark is not letting me fix it!
emoticon emoticon making like emoticon

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