Nicole In A Nutshell

August 11, 2013

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly

Filed under: Blog News,It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 2:58 am

The other day, as I looked down the barrel of 35, I knew big things were on the horizon. The first thing I did was, unsurprisingly, flip out. The second thing I did was get over it, take the bull by the balls, and start doing things to make my future brighter. First baby step: add some fresh blood to the running playlist.

Anyone who knows me knows how huge a role music plays in my life. It’s only recently that I’ve realized how much it impacts EVERYTHING. Obviously, going to shows is my happy place. This is not news. But life does happen off-tour, and we have to find a way to make the best of it until the next. Music is the most consistent and pervasive element in my daily life. It wakes me up, it’s the first thing I deal with in the car, it keeps me company when I’m on the move (be it on the road or in the gym), it soothes me to sleep. It makes me smile, it makes me cry, it makes me think. So, given the fact that biggest ticket item on the “big things horizon” list (the NYC Marathon, which is indisputably número uno) involves a whole lot of time in which to listen to tunes, things haven’t been as brutal as they could. That being said, I’ve been training my ass off, and (shockingly!) keep very particular records and notes for every run. As I looked over splits the other day, I literally saw with my own eyes how much music impacts a run. As soon as I got home, I took to Spotify to infuse some fresh blood into my already awesomely eclectic playlist.

When I went out tonight for my longest run yet (since my last half marathon, which took place last April (yikes!)), one of the first songs that came on totally knocked me out. At first, I said to myself “why did you put this on here?” It took mere seconds to realize that holy shit, this is a powerful moment. I didn’t even make the connection when I tapped the song into the playlist, but it spoke to me on the trail tonight in a way I was completely unprepared for but totally in love with once it went down.

I pondered and pushed throughout the remainder of that 10 miles and decided that although I love me some tweeting, sometimes 140 characters just ain’t enough. This was a shareable moment and an interactive topic, one of so many I hope to write and talk about in bringing this blog back from the almost-dead.

What does music mean to you? I’ve already (barely) touched on where I stand, and I love hearing stories about how it moves others. When I run, it literally moves me. Here are a few reasons why (drawn from the aforementioned badass playlist):

“Olympic Fanfare” – Boston Pops
http://open.spotify.com/track/4Pb6k4u8M8k442e2LzJk5q

Cheesy starter? You bet. I’m OBSESSED with the Olympics. Seriously. Like, “will watch synchronized swimming” obsessed. Will I ever be an Olympic athlete? Never say never. Let’s err on the side of caution and say “unlikely.” Either way, this flashes me back to every medal ceremony I’ve teared up at, every NBC Sports human interest story that’s given me chills, every shot or story of a competitor who legitimately understands the enormity of their experience and does more with it than s/he ever could have expected. I think about that against what I’m doing now. This is my Olympics. For now…

“Touch Of Grey” – Grateful Dead
http://open.spotify.com/track/5YzzWlWfAVNvtduNDHKhHc

When the going gets tough, the hippie tough get going. I’m a multifaceted person to the extreme, and I wear a ton of different hats. All of my hats miss Jerry. This is one of the easiest examples of the intersection of my first truly soulful musical influence and the experience of training for something I could have never dreamed of for most of my life. It’s a lot to process. It’s also awesome. Good pace, but more importantly, it boils down to “Shit happens, but whatever – you got this.” I’ll take it.

“Enter Sandman” – Metallica
http://open.spotify.com/track/1hKdDCpiI9mqz1jVHRKG0E

Any real Yankee fan (or let’s face it, real baseball fan) knows that this is THE CLOSER. No exceptions. To me, it goes beyond. Every fan has memories of special people and special experiences at the rink, ballpark, whatever. This brings me back to the old Yankee Stadium, where I went to countless games with my dad. We had some of our best times in “The House That Ruth Built.” All of the bullshit would melt away, at least for a few hours, when the sea of pinstripes emerged on that field. I learned a lot of lessons at those games with my dad. One: ice cream tastes better when eaten from a little plastic helmet. It’s science, and I dare you to prove me otherwise. Two: parents are human. It’s sometimes hard to remember, but it’s something you don’t want to forget. Three: I had the best dad ever. I miss him every day. His spirit is with me on this journey, and that gets me through.

“2001” – Phish
http://open.spotify.com/track/1GhOiBrglutzTd9dc3V6ZX

Been through a LOT with The Phish From Vermont, and they have brought me, above all, tremendous joy. To the surprise of no one, they occupy a few spots on the playlist (but not nearly as many as one might think). Right here is a musical manifestation of “hold on, here it comes.” I can’t explain it better than that, but it’s the perfect soundtrack to significant and positive life changes. I feel like I’m breaking through something, in a great way, every time I hear it while hitting the trail.

“Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
http://open.spotify.com/track/4HlTpTQBXBfzAKntqP00ee

I’m embarrassed to say that this is a recent add. How the UVM Women’s Hockey “taking the ice” song didn’t make it on the list until now is something that will forever remain a mystery. What’s important is that it’s on there now, and it’s not going anywhere. Hockey has played a significant and often tumultuous role in my life. This track makes me reflect on that, let the bad shit motivate me, and look forward to the cross-training I’ll get in the net as soon as I have some free time for pickup.

“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley
http://open.spotify.com/track/26JRni5Lqiyd9GNnlaz6DI

Sometimes a song’s pace is less important than its message, which is especially true during the rough moments of a run. This one is fairly obvious in that regard, but it has a more personal meaning to me. When I had surgery in October 2010, this was the very last song I heard before I went under (actually, it was the B-side, which is an amazing version – just not the one I run with). All of the doctors and nurses loved it and were totally jamming out. I knew I’d be fine, and I drifted off content, knowing my life would be forever changed when I awoke.

“Girl On Fire” – Alicia Keys
http://open.spotify.com/track/3XyMPyuWwHcGMvXeJY6Qt0

It was a toss-up, and “Brand New Me” gets an honorable mention, but circle wins the square on this one. I know things don’t change overnight, but I’m making strides and in so doing, I’m kicking ass and taking names. I’d rather focus on the drive behind the brand new me and keeping that fire burning. However, writing this all down has me thinking: perhaps a mash-up is in order (“This Brand New Me Is On Fire”?!?)…

“Till I Collapse” – Eminem
http://open.spotify.com/track/4xkOaSrkexMciUUogZKVTS

26.2 miles. Duh.

“Praise You” – Fatboy Slim
http://open.spotify.com/track/21RDsw7wzUJNl2FbWTgEfJ

The song that spawned this post and the resurrection of this blog. As I set out on my run tonight, knowing it would be my toughest in recent history, I spent the first few minutes mentally preparing. I decided not to dick around with skipping songs and instead focus on form, keeping the abs tight, yada yada yada. After two songs, this little ditty popped up on the shuffle. I thought back to a few days ago, when I brought it and a bunch of other songs into the fold. I thought, “I must have been in a very Fatboy Slim mood because is this really a running song?” Dumb question. Half of my songs aren’t “running songs.” I took a second to listen to the lyrics and slammed into a wall of “wow” – it was totally unreal. For the very first time in my life, I immediately thought of my body as something to praise. The strange part was that it felt natural. I realize now that that’s not strange – it’s fucking amazing. This body and I have been through a lot together. I’ve never given it enough credit. I’ve always seen it as a huge burden to overcome rather than something to be thankful for. But, in that flash, I appreciated it for hanging in there during the really dark days, and basically saying, “it’s ok – we got this.” I’ve been really bad to it, and it is forgiving me by recognizing what it is training for and doing what it takes to get there. Although we don’t always get along, I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff that I can do to make our relationship a bit more symbiotic. So, thank you, body, for pushing when I’m over it. In return, I will start drinking more water (and on a bigger picture scale, I will quit my nasty soda habit). Thank you, body, for letting me know that I can do this by getting stronger every day. In return, I promise to improve the quality of everything I put into you…because you deserve it. Thank you, body, for seeing no limits. In return, I pledge to listen to you more and respond the right way.

The full playlist is here – feel free to pick through and trade recommendations. Let’s talk.
http://open.spotify.com/user/suzysneurologist/playlist/6juLTEPZfNvTcbsaPD2UDQ

Happy running. Happy living. Till next time…

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February 2, 2012

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Filed under: It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:21 pm

…than a) myself just yesterday, and b) the skinny bitch on the next treadmill over who kept glancing at my screen with the side-eye. More mileage, quicker pace, no lame-ass break for walking: I think it’s safe to say that I OWNED her. And for anyone who says that my first half isn’t really a race, that’s horseshit. LIFE is a competition. I might not lead the pack (OK, I most definitely will not lead the pack), but I’m gonna push it like Salt ‘n Pepa. There are lots of reasons for my taking on this challenge, but I really dig the idea of doing what was, not so long ago, the unthinkable, and there’s no other legit way to do the previously unthinkable than to go 100% BALLS OUT.

 

January 25, 2012

Mission #1 Accomplished!!!

Filed under: It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 9:38 pm

Unlike one moronic Dubya, I can say with both accuracy and humility: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I am so happy to report that I have not only reached but exceeded my fundraising goal, which means it’s time to bump it up! My challenge is your challenge 😉

Seriously though, I want to thank everyone who has donated (and anyone who plans to do so). I am incredibly touched and moved by your support and can’t wait to make y’all proud!!!

January 18, 2012

Happy New Year, Happy New You (& Me)!!!

Filed under: Blog News,It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Sporty Spice — by Nicole @ 10:15 pm

Hope everyone’s new year has started off well and that things are just chugging right along. My big news isn’t news to most at this point, but it bears repeating because it is HUGE: I’m officially running the NYC 2012 Half Marathon as a member of Team Fox. More info is available on my personal page at: http://www2.michaeljfox.org/site/TR/Sponsored/TeamFox?px=1005032&pg=personal&fr_id=1081

Training is going well so far, but the challenges have just begun. I’ve also decided, with the nudging, education and encouragement of my BFF, to go Paleo (translation: eat like a caveperson). For those who are unfamiliar, here’s a good jumping off resource: http://www.marksdailyapple.com

The juxtaposition of these two undertakings is a challenge unto itself, so things might get a little cranky and/or crazy around these parts. My hope is that it doesn’t last long, as I am really excited about what the next few months have in store. I’m going to try and blog as much as possible to keep myself honest and accountable (yeah, yeah…you’ve heard it all before) so feel free to call me out if I fall off the face of the blogosphere.

Welcome to my journey…glad to have you along for the ride.

P.S. Anyone who wants to join in the fun is welcome to run/train with me anytime. Hit me up!!!

February 10, 2009

Bidness update

Filed under: It's All About Me,On A Serious Note..,Shopping,Steals and Deals — by Nicole @ 9:18 pm

I am actively searching out new personal shopping/styling clients. I have a lot of angst right now (personal stuff that needs not be dealt with in this here forum) and my knack for retaill therapy could be your gain! Please have a look at the following and pass it on to interested friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and anyone else you deem in need of my services:

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/crs/1029783130.html

Thanks for the support, y’all!!!

January 20, 2009

Nina Simone put it best

Filed under: Issues In The News,On A Serious Note.. — by Nicole @ 10:02 pm

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
Its a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good…

It’s a new America!!! Happy Inauguration Day!!!

November 19, 2008

Miss me?

Filed under: On A Serious Note.. — by Nicole @ 9:51 pm

There hasn’t been much to blog about on my end lately, but I’m back. I have to say from the start that this isn’t going to be a happy post.

I take the opportunity to volunteer for every pro bono project that comes my way. I feel that it’s important, not only because it does a lot of people a lot of good, but that it breaks up the monotony of my otherwise boring and repetitive work life. My most recent project involves assisting Holocaust survivors in filling out applications for reparations from a German government program. We’re helping out people who lived and worked in the ghettos before being deported to concentration camps or elsewhere. It’s clearly an emotionally draining yet fascinating project, and I have become passionate about it. I’ve only been speaking with these people for a few days, but every survivor I speak to has such a moving story that it has sunk in really deep rather quickly.

My last call of the day was with an 86 year old Polish man. From the second he answered the phone, I could tell that it was going to be an incredible conversation. It was. He had lived in one of the largest ghettos in Poland as a teenager, and was shipped off to several concentration camps after the ghetto was liquidated. He told me about what he saw, what he experienced, what he felt. He told me about how while digging graves for the bodies of his fellow prisoners, a Nazi put a pistol to the head of a three year old girl playing in the sand, pulled the trigger, and forced my client to undress and bury her. He told me about how he was forced to dig graves, bury corpses, only to to be told that the graves weren’t deep enough, forced to dig the bodies back up and create a shallower pit. He told me about the death march he was forced to take. Did he have me in tears? You bet your ass he did.

I though about this man the whole way home. I thought about blogging the experience, but I didn’t want to get all depressy. Then, upon arriving at home, I’ll be damned if the next DVR’d 90210 episode on the list wasn’t the one where Andrea Zuckerman’s grandmother was a survivor of Buchenwald and the kids have to deal with that in the context of the arrival of a Holocaust denier on campus. I took it as a sign.

Yes, the dude on BH was fictitious, but it’s amazing that there really are lunatics out there (like Ahmadinejad) who still refuse to acknowledge that this happened. You simply can’t make this shit up. Millions of people aren’t collectively crafty enough to conspiriatorally invent such similar, horrific experiences. Obviously these denial maniacs are in the minority, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

The scary part of this is that it’s not all that distant in our past, but it’s still happening. I hope that the change we needed (and got, thank Jeebus) makes a much more concerted effort than this past douchebag administration has to stop the genocide in Darfur. If we can wage a bullshit war over oil, we can definitely step in to help resolve a genocide. We can also take the courageous step that FDR didn’t when he failed to help the Jews upon learning of Hitler’s machinations. Believe it or not, we can restore respect around the world, the respect reflected by my survivor client in the final minutes of our discussion:

CLIENT: Are you religious?

ME: No, sir.

CLIENT: I wasn’t either. You know how they are waiting for the Messiah, the Jews?

ME: Yes, sir.

CLIENT: For me, the Messiah came On May 6, 1945. The Messiah was in those American soldiers. A few more weeks, and I would have been dead.

At the risk of turning this into something about me, I have to say that all of this does make me want to put things in perspective. All of the bullshit that I constantly bitch about seems so trivial next to the monumental difficulties and horrors these people have lived through. I can’t tell you how many times throughout our conversation my client asked me, “Can you imagine?” No sir, I really cannot.

Most evenings, I get annoyed if I don’t get a seat on the train. Today, as I stood there and looked around for a non-existent seat, the first thing that came to my mind was, “At least this train isn’t taking me to a death camp.” I’m still waiting for the chills to subside…

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