Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Measuring a Year, Part 4: Favorite Blog Posts

I don't have a wide readership, but that's not really the point of my Little Pink Blog. I mostly just enjoy the exercise of writing my thoughts, and it's rather nice to have documentation of things I've done, thoughts I've thought, etc. Every once in a while, I like to go back and look at older posts. It's amazing what I've forgotten about, even in the space of a year.

In 2014, my blogging was lighter than it's been in other years--I'm just busy, I suppose. But I've written some posts I'm quite proud of, and here are some of them.

We Are Teachers

In January, I wrote this somewhat disjointed post about teaching, and how I hope to be one day what Mr. Gaesser, my high school music teacher, was to me.


In which I grapple with seeing older pictures of myself and feeling like they must be someone else. Weight loss is weird, ya'll.

This Happened

There's not much writing to this post; I posted it in the middle of the night while on choir tour. But it still makes me giggle.

10K Finisher

I never dreamed I'd run my first 10K this year, let alone my first half. Here's the post detailing hte 10K, in April. I'd run another in July, as part of my increasing mileage training, getting ready for the Urban Cow in October.


Sometimes, I have to give myself permission to love my body, flaws and all.


I made my response to the huge conversation that took place regarding women and how we navigate the world.

Something Weird, Something Awesome

It's amazing what can happen when you force teenagers to admit that they are awesome--even if it's just for getting out of bed and facing the world that day.

Ten Years of Meg

I celebrated the 10th Blog-oversary of the Little Pink Blog in July, and it was fun to go through my pictures and see how far I've come since that very first post.

A Letter To Myself, Ten Years Ago

Perhaps the best post I wrote this year--I wrote it a good few months in advance of publishing it, on the ten-year anniversary of leaving for England. It actually makes me tear up to read it. What adventures I've had, and how much I've grown up, since then!

The Body Project: Thunder Thighs

I have Thunder Thighs...who says that has to be a bad thing?

Holy Cow!

Well, of course I have to feature my race recap for my very first half marathon!

And last but not least...


A funny little post about nudity.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Measuring a Year, Part 3: Favorite Pictures

My iPhone has taken over most of my picture-taking anymore, but I did manage to get the Canon out and about this year. Here are a few of my favorite honest-to-goodness photographs from the year--NOT taken with a phone.

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island, San Diego.

This beach on Coronado Island was awesome. No idea why the sand does that.

I loved Balboa park in San Diego. This staircase was particularly photogenic.

Mission San Diego at dusk.

This was totally Summer's idea (of course I ran with it).

Beautiful hibiscus at Mission San Diego.

The front facade of Mission San Diego.

Mission San Luis Rey

Arches make for great pictures.

More arches--this time Mission San Juan de Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano had the most gorgeous gardens.

Redondo Beach Pier

Surfers in Newport Beach, California.

An anxious choir teacher takes a moment to breathe in the ocean air on Choir
Tour at Newport Beach Pier.

Paradise Pier at Disney's California Adventure.

Disney performers are the best--this actress saw me lift my camera, paused,
and gave me that big cheesy grin for my photo. Cute!

This statue can actually bring tears to my eyes.

Disneyland's famous castle.

Emerald Brigade building their pyramids.

Lake Tahoe

A damaged monarch near Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe

Dad giving a Veteran's Day speech.

Mom and Dad. I love this one.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Measuring a Year, Part 2: Intentions for 2014

I don't really make New Year's Resolutions; rather, I set intentions for the year. They seem more doable than resolutions.

This year, I set four:
  1. Continue my forward progress with running. Run a race every month, work towards that sub-thirty 5K, bee more consistent in finding time to run on weekdays.
  2. Work on my professional development as a choir teacher. Attend conferences and read more on vocal development.
  3. Improve some lapsed eating habits.
  4. Go on more adventures. Make an effort to go on more day trips, and try new activities.
So, how'd I do? Let's take a look.


I almost ran a race every month. I missed January due to lack of good races in the area, but ran two in February and one in March. I ran my first 10K in April, threw up on the track of the Large Suburban High School in May, and ran in June (5K) and July (a 5K and a 10K), as well.

I missed my scheduled August race because I was sick that weekend, and I didn't race in September because I was, by then, up to my eyeballs in training...for a half marathon.

When I set my racing intention way back in January, I had no idea I would run a 10K, let alone a half marathon. A half! The 10K seemed a huge accomplishment in itself, but when I decided to go for 13.1, my running life took a huge turn. At first, it seemed a vague, "I'll run it in 2015" kind of goal, but then I recalled October's Urban Cow. I wanted that cowbell, so I signed up, and I started spending my Sundays running. I bought a hydration belt and a lot of Gu Chomps. 

And in October, I got my cowbell.

I did not race in November or this month. Life got a little crazy so my running has taken a bit of a back burner. However, I did register for my next half--the Shamrock'n in March. I'll start really training in January. Running still feels pretty good, and I'm excited to get back to it in earnest.

The verdict: I totally met this one. I may not have run 12 races, but I very definitely continued my forward progress. The longest I've run without walking is 8 miles, which I could not do a year ago. I ran most of a 13.1-mile race. While sometimes I miss some weekday runs because of my crazy job (which I love), I've kept up the weekend running and I have started running treadmill sprints a couple times a week again recently.

Professional Development

I did attend one conference, but it was more for making connections and running into old friends than anything else. There weren't a lot of great offerings for choir teachers, and I ended up leaving a day early.

I've done a little bit of reading here and there, and I joined American Choral Directors Association. A goal I had for my observations this year was to learn more about the male voice change, and I've read some great articles on that and bought a book that should prove to be really helpful in the coming semester.

The best thing I've done, though, is go observe a couple of local high school choir directors, to get ideas and insight. It was great to make some local connections and see what they do that is different (or similar) to what I do--and to take those ideas back to my own classroom. Even my boss noted that I'm taking what I've seen and observed and using it too good effect. As she's not one to throw out the "good jobs" very often, I was so pleased that she noticed!

The verdict: Met this one. There's always more I can do, and I hope to attend a really great ACDA workshop in July this year. Experience is also a great teacher. It's amazing what I come up with on the fly sometimes that just works.

Eating Habits

Meh. I have my ups and downs. Right now I'm writing this in the middle of the holiday season, so I don't really want to talk about how I'm eating. But for the most part, I've done okay this year. Periods of extreme busyness tend to present a challenge if I don't plan ahead.

The verdict: Met, mostly. Once I stop eating all the chocolate people have gifted me (not to mention the Starbucks cards), and start training for the Shamrock'n, I'll be on the right track.


You know what? It's really hard to make a lot of day trips. Weekends are for resting, laundry, and running anymore. But I did manage some adventures, and trying new things, this year.

For starters, I finally saw San Diego. I grew up in this state, have spent the vast majority of my life here, and didn't manage to make it to San Diego until I was 35. It was worth the long drive. It's a lovely city, with a lot to do.

There were a few trips to San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and, of course, one mad whirlwind of a weekend in Anaheim with my choir. Three days in Fresno for the music ed conference. A weekend in Chico for the Alumni Band Concert.

I tried new things--distance running, for a start, but also kick-boxing, which I loved. I wish I had more time for that, but for now, my workout routine works for me, and the focus really needs to be on my running and strength.

The verdict: Met. I mean, when you teach all week and Saturday is the only time you have to clean your bathroom and wash the mountain of laundry...and then Sunday is Run Day, well, you just don't have a lot of time to go places.

So...I did pretty well. As for my intentions for 2015, those are coming.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Measuring a Year, Part 1: Moments of 2014

It's time for my annual end-of-year blog musings. Part 1 brings us the moments of 2014, in pictures and words.

A Moment of Welcome

I spent New Year's in San Diego with Summer, my first trip that lovely part of California. On New Year's Day, we drove north towards Los Angeles, stopping for the required sunset pictures somewhere near Huntington Beach. I welcomed 2014 going on an adventure with a dear friend, visiting California missions, and putting toes in sand. Not a bad way to start things off.

The sunset was a bit hazy, but the colors were beautiful nonetheless. Southern California beaches are never empty, and this one was no exception. Surfers caught the last waves of the day, and a boat sailed in front of the setting sun on the horizon. Summer and I breathed in the ocean air and rejoiced in some brief, quiet beach time.

A Moment of Being the Student Again

Why do I teach? A lot of reasons, but mostly because I want to make a difference.

In late January, I stopped by the Folsom Jazz Festival to see my colleague's jazz band play, and my alma mater, as well. While there, I walked down a hallway and ran into The Man, himself: Mr. Gaesser. I idolized that man in high school--we all did. He's an amazing music teacher. I still get impressed reactions when I tell people I was one of his jazz kids.

Running a huge jazz festival is a lot of work, so Gaesser was a busy man--but when he saw me, he did a double-take (the last time he'd seen me, I was about 90 pounds heavier), before his face split into a wide grin.

"Hey," he said, opening his arms wide for a bear hug. We could only speak for a minute, but I know he was happy to hear that I was loving my new job.

The next day, on Facebook, he sent me a simple that meant a lot. I have already had the opportunity to tell a former student I'm proud of her (she's a nurse now). I hope to have many more.

A Moment of Ducky Hilarity

I think there are some people who don't really understand the duck. That's okay, it makes me happy, and in the end, that's all that matters. It certainly doesn't hurt anyone.

When I took my choir to Anaheim in March, I was excited and nervous about the trip, and happy to go to Disneyland...and did I mention nervous? I took my small rubber duck along, and told my friends, "Cali is sooo excited to meet Donald Duck. That's his idol."

Five minutes after walking into Disneyland, I saw Donald himself. While my choir kids ran off towards food and rides, I got in line to get my picture taken. When it was my turn, I held up my intrepid little traveling duck, and explained to Donald and his handler that I have a lucky rubber ducky. I expected laughs. What I never expected was that Donald would grab Cali Swimmy out of my hand and wave his (her) arms around in excitement, or that such an adorable picture would come out of it. And I certainly never expected that his handler would suggest a close-up of Donald with my little duck on his bill, while I stood there giggling helplessly and remembering just why I love Disneyland.

Thank you, Donald and Handler. The whole trip was pretty awesome, but you playing along with a nervous teacher's silliness made it that much more fun. I have these pictures in a frame in my office.

A Moment of Perspective

In July, I ran a 5K that benefits a local Alzheimer's charity. As you cross the finish line, a local radio guy, Big Jim Hall, announces your name, which is a bit of a thrill. Last year, in the same race, I set a PR (and threw up in a garbage can). This year, not so much. I crossed the finish line at about 36 minutes, and promptly took this selfie.

A few minutes later, Big Jim Hall announced another finisher, but not just a name. This man was running in his own honor--a recent Alzheimer's diagnosis had changed his life forever.

My finishing time forgotten, I turned around to watch this guy jog across the finish line, and remembered exactly why I was there. It's not about time--it's about health, and wellness.

A Moment of Pride

My experiences teaching in Antioch took a long time for me to get over. But the Large Suburban High School has been a much better experience, and I'm a different Meg than I was in 2006, in so many ways.

When I attended the awards ceremony at the music festival in Anaheim, my only real hope was that we had maintained the silver rating this particular choir was used to. And we did!

That plaque has my name on it. I'm the director who accomplished that with a tiny group--and I started to really believe, that night, that I could do even more. We will, at some point, get gold.

It takes a lot of reminding, but the longer I work at the LSHS, the more I believe. It's an incredible feeling.

A Moment to Put Pride Aside

My last couple of years in the Chico Music Department were stressful. I was young--so young. And I left the school angry about some things, with a chip in my shoulder that has gradually filled in as I've earned some maturity and wisdom with age. In February, I ran into a couple of former professors at the California Music Education conference. They remembered me, and greeted me warmly with hugs, wanting to know what I'd been up to.

I realized something that day: these guys were never out to "get" me. The department had some growing to do, but so did I. It's nice to watch the water flow under the bridge.

So in August, when my annual invitation for the Alumni Band arrived, instead of saying, "Hell no" and tossing it in the trash, I gave it a second look. Then I wrote a check and made a hotel reservation.

In October, I hauled my trusty Buffet to Chico, and wandered into the PAC with it. For the first time in 14 years, my Buffet and I made music on a Chico stage...and it was so much fun. Pride has its time and place...but I'm glad I set it aside this time.

A Speechless Moment

I had no words to properly caption this picture on Instagram, so I simply tapped out, "No words" on my iPhone and sent it to Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps my speechless state was due to being out of breath, or exhaustion. Mostly, it was just sheer disbelief that I can now call myself a half marathon finisher. It's a pretty awesome club to be in.

Running a half was not easy for me, and there were good portions of the race in which I questioned my sanity and vowed I'd never do this again. (I'm already signed up for my second. What can I say? Runners are weird.)

When I ran across the finish line of the Urban Cow Half, just under the three-hour mark, I had my eyes on my prize--the coveted finisher's cowbell. That cowbell represents months of training, but also more than that. It represents years of believing I couldn't run, being trampled into the ground one mile at a time. It represents everything I've become since starting on this crazy and amazing journey to better health.

A Moment of Self-Care

Over the last few years, I've grown accustomed to dealing with anxiety organically--that is, with exercise and a decent diet. This fall, that became harder, so when I woke up on Friday with pink eye, missed a doctor's appointment for it, and promptly burst into inconsolable tears in a Kaiser parking lot after running away from a receptionist trying to help me, I realized that it was time to practice some self-care.

I spent that weekend at home, resting. Saturday consisted of watching a cheesy movie, reading, and sitting around in my pajamas (after one quick trip to the pharmacy for eye drops). The following week, I spoke to my primary care physician, who put me back on the low dose of anti-anxiety meds I took years ago in Antioch. Circumstances are different now--for the better--but sometimes, we all need a little bit of extra help coping with the things that make us anxious (for me, a massive and unfounded fear of failure).

A Sweet Moment

This semester, I took on a piano lab class. It was a fun class--though chatty and sometimes needing to be hollered at to be quiet so others could hear themselves play, my group was, overall, a respectful and fun-loving group of kids who seemed to enjoy making music.

We had our crowding issues (31 kids, 30 pianos, some not always working properly), but for the most part, the class went along pretty smoothly. On the 17th of December, we had our end-of-semester recital. A ton of parents showed up to proudly watch their kids show off what they'd learned. From the brand-new musicians playing "Deck the Hall" to the 11-year pianist whose hands were all over the keyboard, everyone was impressive, and I was so proud.

On the day of our final, I received this note from one of the kids, and it quickly made it's way into my Smile File, a folder in my file drawer where I keep the little things that remind me what I love about this job. It's nice to know my love of music came through to these kids, and made their time in Piano Lab that much better.

What a year! Another busy, busy year. I like it that way. Let's just see what 2015 brings, shall we?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Week in Instagram (Week #109)

I have, quite simply, been too lazy to blog this week, because I've been thoroughly enjoying the holiday week.


Seen after my run--disgusting, but oddly fascinating.

First day of Winter.


The lowest amount I've paid for nearly a full tank of gas (I have
a 12.5-gallon tank) in a long, long time.

Blurry, but when Millie sees me, I don't get much chance
for picture-taking before she's up and wanting a cuddle.

Glorious sunset.

California Girl, California Sunset

Hot buttered rum, Mom's fruitcake, and the best Christmas
show EVER.

"You're going for a run on your break? *sniff* You're weird."

Five miles! My longest run since the Urban Cow.

The bird blends in.

A lot of standing water from the recent rains. 

It is truly beautiful here.

Died my hair a slightly darker brown for winter.

Sparkling wine...

...and cheese. BLISS.

Butternut squash mac and cheese, and also great company:
Meghan and The Roz. 

At our table. I giggled.

After the gym--yes, on Christmas Eve--I got down to business.

Tea and a truffle. Life is good.

"How many of those pressies are for ME?"

Our annual Meg-'n-Mill selfie.

Mom's prime rib was superb.

The whole dinner was superb.

"This pressie smells good!!" 

"What could it be, Millie?"
"I dunno, Duckie. Let's open it. It has our names on it."

Duckie can't hold her nip.

We watched about 15 minutes of the Grumpy Cat movie before
giving up. 

Yes, I ran on Christmas. Three miles. In a Santa hat.

Then I made a huge mess.

We had a full turkey dinner at Vern and Claire's. They're
long-time friends of Mom and Dad, and I like them very much.
Claire's cousins were there, and they are lovely women, too.

Vern, getting down to business.

We nearly broke the table.

Millie and one of the new toys.

The Last Truffle.

A half marathon training plan.

So, here we go. Ten weeks 'til the Shamrock'n Half.

A special Caturday collage.

I set off early, stopping outside of Dixon for gas.

Then I met Summer in Fairfield, and we spent a few hours
in Wine Country.

St. Helena, California

Mexican food for lunch.

Browsing the shops.

I was very good and did not buy anything at Woodhouse.

Tree-lined highway.

The vines are sleeping for the winter.

Calistoga, California.

Wine bottles as decorations.