For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a runner. When I was young, I ran for the pure joy of movement. As a tweener and teenager, I ran after field hockey balls, lacrosse balls, soccer balls and tennis balls. I was decent but no star. Still, I loved playing team sports and continued even after college. In my late 20s and throughout my 30s, running became a “thing” I did. I ran after work, on the weekends and participated in random road races including San Francisco’s famed “Bay to Breakers.”
Between relationships, a long run over the Golden Gate Bridge and back was a good way to fill up an open and empty Saturday.
In my 40s, after I had my children, running morphed from an individual activity into a social event. I joined the “Dirt Girls,” so called because we run trails and do weights, stair repeats, sprints and other fun tortures on trails all over Mt. Tam for an hour and a half Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. I love my fellow Dirt Girls and our relentlessly energetic and fearless leader Lisa Escabar. For 10 years, we’ve been out on the mountain, rain or shine.
Now that I'm (only slightly) past 50, running has taken on even more significance. Today, I run not just for fun and friendship, I'm literally running for my life.The latest in exercise science, as reported over the past year or so in the New York Times Well column, says that running -- or exercise in general -- can slow the impact of aging on both body and brain and keep them healthy and functional. These reports keep me going because I do want a larger hippocampus and a longer life.
Here’s an overview of what running can do for you.
When the New York Times list of 100 notable books of 2013 was announced in December, I was sure that this time I would have read at least one.
Even though I used my Kindle liberally and visited our hometown public library dozens of times to pick up new fiction and non-fiction throughout the year, I was amazed that for the fifth year in a row, I had not read a single title chosen by the New York Times. And I had only heard of two novels on their list: The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s “smartly written Dickensian novel” about a painting smuggled by a young boy and what it means to him, and Jo Baker's Longbourn, which offers a take on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the Bennet family servants.
As in years past, I turned to One Thing New readers and asked them to offer their recommendations for my 2014 reading list. I’ve already added The Goldfinch and Longbourn, which seem like worthy reads. Here are some other suggestions, with a few words from our kind contributors on why they’re worth your time.
Everyone's Reading Bastard by Nick Hornby. This is a Kindle single from the author of About a Boy. It’s a short story, not a novel, and won’t take too long to read. It’s very funny and well-written. Although the protagonist's ex-wife writes a newspaper column, it captures our Facebook age perfectly.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. This is hands-down the best book I read last year. It’s laugh-out-loud funny. Honestly I laughed and laughed and laughed, which I never do! The author is a former writer for the TV show "Arrested Development," so she might know a thing or two about comedic timing. The characters are colorful and there's a whole undercurrent about the private school social scene and the technology subculture that will be especially recognizable to Silicon Valley denizens.
I was walking past my local thrift store last week when a delicate china tea cup and saucer, with an old-fashioned flower pattern, caught my eye. They were probably part of a tea set once, but now they'd ended up alone on a shelf in the window, gathering dust.
I have a friend who is an avid tea drinker and I thought she'd enjoy having the cup and saucer for her desk at work. Sure, the cup holds way less than the ginormous mugs we're used to these days. But I believe she'd appreciate the lovely lines of the porcelain (made in England), and enjoy having a nice cup of tea in such a pretty cup during a hectic day.
So for $1.99, plus tax, I walked out with the tea cup and saucer. I added a box of her favorite tea and for less than $10, I had a pretty thoughtful present for a good friend.
Who says you have to spend a lot of money to be a thoughtful gift giver? Here are 10 ideas for last minute, low-cost holiday gifts that might impress your friends and family -- and spare you some holiday shopping pain.
Holiday stress has it all -- condensed work schedules, the potential for family conflict, and awkward conversations about the feasibility of a fat bearded man fitting down the chimney, escaping the furnace, and delivering toys worldwide.
This year, I got a head start on my online shopping, then shot myself in the foot by agreeing to host a cookie-decorating party. I conceded defeat by telling my mom that the photo book -- her customary gift -- was going to be late this year, then took on an extra work assignment. What am I thinking?
There has to be a better way, so we asked for your best holiday stress-busting, getting-stuff-done, sanity-preserving tips.
1. Make a list, check it twice -- and then cut it in half Take the time to sit down and figure out what you need to do this holiday season. I have no doubt your list will be very, very long. Now, look it over and again and really think about what truly needs to get done. Is this really the year you bake all those cookies from scratch? Or handprint every holiday card? Or really get all those projects at work done before the end of the year? Remember, holidays are supposed to be fun, with time devoted to family and friends. Prioritize your list, cut it in half, and throw out the bottom half.
2. It takes a village In just this past week I've asked a neighbor to take one of my kids to the bus stop and asked my business partner to do work I was supposed to do. You may say this is evidence that my life is falling apart at the seams; I say I averted two near-certain meltdowns in just one week.
Before you know it, the year-end holiday rush will be upon us, ratcheting up our stress levels and reminding us of all the things we won't have time to do.
So that's why it's important to take a break now, enjoying what I like to call no-calorie comfort food for the brain: online videos that make me smile and that I think are worth a few minutes of your time.
Here's what I got, with the length of each video noted:
Welcome to Austenland (2:05): As a Jane Austen fan, I'm ready tto see Keri Russell in Austenland, a movie that asks the question "What separates the casual Jane Austen fan from the aficionado -- the number of many times she's Austen's novels or her consuming love for Mr. Darcy?" Russell plays that aficionado, journeying to the U.K. on vacation to take part in the "world's only immersive Austen experience." The only hitch is that she can only afford the basic package, and ends up cast as an orphan of no fortune with a room in the servants' wing. "I am single," she says, "because apparently the only good men are fictional." I missed it in theaters this summer, but I've been enjoying watching the trailer over and over again. It's headed for DVD soon.