Friday, 29 February 2008

Bad hair, too much make up and neon clothes... how I miss the 80s!

I have noticed that today is turning into an 80s day – from the music I’m listening to at work to some stuff I’ve seen online to the emails I’ve received, lots of things today have something to do with the 80s.

1985 was a long time ago, over 20 years, but somehow events from this year and the rest of the 80s have shaped my life in different ways, subtle ways. I started (and finished) High School in the 80s and this was a time when I grew up, took more responsibility for my life and made some amazing discoveries about myself. For example, I decided to join the Drama department – even though I’d never really done anything like this before. I just heard that the cast parties were awesome so there I was… I ended up spending the rest of my academic life in theatres and surrounded by actors and dancers. I gained a new perspective on musicals and it led to a love of the live theatre that survives to this day.

I also noticed that most of my friends are people I met during these days – and if I met them later, it was usually because they were introduced to me by someone I met in High School! I have a handful of friends from elementary school but the guys I miss the most and would most like to spend some time with now are mainly guys and gals I met in the era of Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful.

Movies will never be like the movies were in the 80s. I have far too many favorites to mention as it was the decade when I was more movies than at any other time. I particularly liked all those teen movies that seemed abundant at the time and still have a very soft spot for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club and anything that had a top-selling soundtrack.

The music is of course another big 80s thing, as I suspect is the case with most people my age. Sometimes all it takes is just one song and POOF! I’m back in a particular party or something. These old songs were certainly the soundtrack of my life and I loved and lost to the beat of many, many unforgettable songs.

Speaking of loving and losing, it was during the 80s that I started having “proper” boyfriends and when I discovered that some boys are better kissers than others. I’m not saying any names! But it was a time when I sort of found out that I liked being in a couple and led to me pretty much having a boyfriend ALL the time. I just couldn’t stay single! Sometimes I’d even move on to the “next” boyfriend before having the decency to tell the current boyfriend that he was history… I didn’t always get the boy, though – and these years included my deepest heartaches whenever the object of my affections didn’t even know I was alive.

All this pain and heartache brought out the writer in me. Now, I’d always kept diaries and journals, as I’ve mentioned before, but during these years I really, really wrote it all down: my loves, my hates, my feelings, my angst and my agony. I was of course a teenager but I doubt that many teenagers document their emotions as well as I did – I have around 20 notebooks and journals filled with the product of all this emotion! I also wrote stacks of poems (usually about boys that didn’t love me back) and imagined myself as some sort of author in the future. Guess that’s why I keep a blog these days!

When the decade was over I was in college and doing some real growing up. I still loved the theatre, I hung out with my bestest friends and was a serial monogamist. But the carefree, exciting and whirlwind rollercoaster that was my late teens was sort of coming to a close along with the decade. The 90s for me were all about finding my path and following it and brought the biggest changes of my life: working in Florida, getting married and moving to the UK. But the 80s shall remain for me the decade when I started living and finding out who I was.

I really miss those days!

Monday, 25 February 2008

More marathon layouts... part two

Here are a few more layouts from my marathon album...

As I mentioned before, I tried to bring the sunrise colors into my album as I progressed through the course so here is a great example:

We're getting close to the Magic Kingdom and the excitement is high - and so are the colors.

What a great race... sure, there are more prestigious marathons but how many let you see Woody and Jack Sparrow?

The whole album does have a lot of journaling because I actually don't have that many photos (I carried a disposable so only had 26 shots that had to last the whole race). Besides there are a lot of thoughts and emotions I want to remember and this layout is a good example. I knew that The Wall was out there somewhere around mile 20 and it was also a possibly quite boring part of the course - with a long out and back on a straight road. In the end I didn't meet any 'walls' and the out and back was quite interesting so I wanted to be able to recall this.

Ahh, finally in The Studios and our final park... I kept the colors really bright for this section as the sun was blazing above and emotions were running really, really high.

Meanwhile, my boys were getting a little bored, especially Samuel. I was slowing down because I was hot and tired and I guess he was too, so David let him take some photos. He took the weird photo on the left of the yellow cone as viewed from above!

Don't let the smile fool you - I was exhausted and didn't really need to go all the way around World Showcase now as I just wanted to finish. So Aladdin and Jasmine gave me a great excuse to stop and catch my breath!

It's always hard for me to do a good job on layouts that matter the most so I'm not sure I did justice to this one below - the finish is a VERY important part of the race of course!

Another all-journaling layout trying to capture some of the emotion of the end of the race... and also trying to make up for the fact that my official medal photo has gone AWOL : (

I haven't yet finished but I'm practically there. I am really quite proud of the album but that's probably because this whole marathon thing has been absolutely special for me, and I want to make sure that I capture all that emotion.
Plus I still have a lot of stash to use!

More marathon layouts...

There is a reason I don't upload my layouts to galleries more often - it's pure laziness. I do so many of them at once that then I would spend lots of time photographing, cropping, uploading, writing descriptions, etc.

But I am pretty proud of how this marathon album is turning out so I've made the special effort to share some more layouts with you!

The first three are about some of the more interesting places I ran while training over 2007 - Holland, Florida, London, Paris among others.

As part of the training I also ran in Milton Keynes, of course, as that is where I live. I even ran in our local half marathon as part of training. It was a low point in training as I struggled so much with the half marathon that I thought I could never do a full. I nearly quit at this point...

...But of course I didn't and eventually marathon weekend was here! This is more of a pocket than a layout but I wanted somewhere to hold all those precious documents.

Collecting my number - I had been confident up until the point when I saw so many people at the Expo! I wanted to include those memories in the layout and made sure there was lots of journaling.

Race Day! It was very dark when the race started and of course got brighter as the sun came up. I wanted to sort of mirror that with my album so the first few layouts are mainly dark colors and they get brighter as I progress along the course.

Notice how the sun is coming out in the photo and the layout colors are a bit more pinkish...

To be continued...

Sunday, 24 February 2008

This marathon thing has me obsessed - witness now my scrapbook pages about it!

Pretty much since I came back from Florida I started working on layouts for my WDW marathon album. I think I spent a lot of those long training runs planning layouts in my head for such an album, even though I really didn't know then what photos I would have or what products I would use!

Here's a small sample of the layouts I've done so far (all 9x9):

I love this layout below - I think it shows that this was one of my favorite parts of the race!

The layout below is all about 'Sharpie signs' which were little signs placed along the course on one of the most boring parts of the race. These signs ranged from funny to interesting to make-you-think signs. I wanted to convey on the layout that miles 13 to 16 were really all about the Sharpie signs as there wasn't anything else to look at.

Most of the album so far has been put together using a few elements: Bazzill or DCWV cardstock (cut down to 9x9), Christina Cole, Scenic Route and DCWV papers, journaling block stamps by Autumn Leaves, letter and number stamps also by Autumn leaves, MM wordfetti (sports), Sandylion marathon stickers and Heidi Swapp ghost letters. Oh, and a lot of journaling in my own handwriting and using my trusty Zig pens!

If you want to see more of my layouts (marathon ones and others) visit My Gallery.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Even though I always hand in my assignments early, it doesn't mean I breeze through them!

A month ago I started my OU course Networked Living and so far it's been both enjoyable and educational. It is my second course so distance learning isn't a totally new experience for me, but it is my first level one course (the previous was a short course, 10 weeks only) and it goes on until sometime in September.

The past few days I've been working on my first tutor-marked assignment (TMA) and while it's been a pleasure to return to the world of lessons and homework, it has also been a little bit of a shock. I think the way education works here in the UK is different from what I am used to in Mexico and I struggle with concepts such as word counts which I've never really had to deal with back in my student days.

But I think I've done a good job on my first TMA and I've now completed it and submitted it too: nearly a week early! I am not sure when I get my results but I'm hoping for a good one... that is one thing that hasn't changed since my days as a full time student: I always complete tests before anyone else and expect nothing but perfection from myself. I didn't always achieve top marks but I nearly always aimed for those so why should I expect any different now? Besides, the fact that I handed things in early doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't struggle. I just was very, very good at knowing what I know and what I don't and was never good at sitting there waiting for divine inspiration. Either I know it or I don't and no amount of staring at the ceiling is going to make me know what I clearly don't.

Ah, how I miss those days... where the worst thing that could happen was that I failed a test!

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on how I do on my TMA. In the meantime, I shall move ahead and start Block two. I do like the structure of learning and the satisfaction at receiving a good grade... let's hope it really is a good one this time.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Spring cleaning

The past weekend was nice and sunny around here and it all looked so nice. It sure was nice to look out the window and see the sun rather than the clouds that had been hanging around for a while now. The only downside of all that glorious sunshine is that it highlighted all the dust inside my house!

Contrary to popular belief I don't love cleaning - I just like the house to be clean. If I could I would let someone else do it but as that's not an option, I had to spend a lot of time dusting and cleaning last weekend. It was hard work but in the end I was quite proud of my very tidy lounge and dining room (I also cleaned upstairs but I'd lost a lot of enthusiasm by then so the results were not quite so stunning). Thing is, I know I'll have to do it all over again next weekend... yuck.

Why can't someone invent a self-cleaning house? I know that there are already robots that can do the vacuuming or mow the lawn but that is not helpful when I have to dust all the flat surfaces, clean the bathrooms, scrub the sinks, dust the blinds, etc. I suppose I could get a cleaner but I know that I wouldn't like the level of cleaning demonstrated (even if it was perfect I know that I would think that I could do it better) so I just roll up my sleeves and get stuck in.

At least I end up with a pretty clean house. But that's no way to spend a lovely sunny weekend!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Marathon reflections - a month on

A month ago I completed the WDW marathon. In that time I’ve had a chance to reflect on this experience, so what have I learned?

  • All that training was definitely worth it – I remember thinking this at about 19 or 20 miles, while I was still going and knew I would finish. All those endless loops, treadmill sessions, cold days… all SO worth it on the day.
  • Marathons are hard work but they can be fun and also very inspiring. I was expecting the atmosphere at WDW to be a little more competitive but I felt more camaraderie than competition. Well, at least way back where I started.
  • All during my training I was scared of being swept or of being last. Neither happened, I’m happy to say. I didn’t even SEE the sweepers or the back of the pack!

  • Music was a huge influence on my mood and motivation. I knew this from training but on the day it was great to have my MP3 on me but also to turn it off sometimes and enjoy the music from marching bands or speakers around the course. The right song at the right time gave me more of a boost than energy gels or drinks.

  • Having said that, I was glad I was carrying my energy gels. I credit them (and my training and pace) with the fact that I never hit any walls. Sure, I was tired at the end but not hopelessly so.

  • That slight slope down on the bridge between the Dolphin hotel and the Yacht Club is EVIL when you’ve been running for over 6 hours. I thought downhill running would be easy but NO!

  • It’s amazing what a well-phrased encouragement will do to my mood. There were lots of people out there shouting but I somehow remember someone saying “you’re not first but you’re not last!” That stayed with me until the end of the race and certainly helped my morale.

  • Speaking of encouragement, I loved it when people said my name. It’s almost as if they knew me and really wanted me to go on, to know that I was nearly there…

  • …but sometimes it was weird. I remember someone shouting “you’re nearly there” and we’d only done about 9 miles by then. Whatever did she mean?? Nearly there WHERE?

  • I love my running shoes. I had absolutely no blister issues, no black nails, nothing. I think my shoes are the best and worth every penny I paid for them.
  • I love World Showcase in Epcot and have walked around it many, many times. After the marathon and having to run the last two or so miles around it, I think I may never see it the same way again. These last bits on the course were the worst for me and I really struggled.

  • The moment I finished and got my medal is all a blur. I was so very tired but also incredibly proud but I don’t think it actually hit me until a few hours later: I was a marathoner!

  • I would definitely do that again. After all, 6.57 should be an easy time to beat if I don’t stop to take so many photos and actually run a little faster!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Like the desert misses the rain

I wasn’t able to go for a run yesterday or today, because of various (boring) reasons. And surprisingly to me – I actually miss it.

A year ago when I started running and training for the marathon, a missed day was at most, annoying, because it meant that I didn’t “tick the box” as it were, for that day’s scheduled program. I wasn’t so much irritated because I didn’t go running but more that I wouldn’t be able to fill my log in with some additional distance and time.

Flash forward to now and even though I’m not actually training for anything difficult (a 5k isn’t difficult is it?) I have had to find myself a new runner’s log because I need the focus. I found it weird to complete runs, no matter how short, and not be recording them somewhere.

But weirdest of all is that my annoyance at missed runs isn’t because I didn’t fill out the log but because I missed out on a run. I am now missing the actual run as opposed to missing the act of ticking a box or filling my log.

I miss running.

How weird is that? I am the girl that HATES running. The one that can’t run more than 5 minutes without gasping for breath. The one that think that running is something that should be done only when chased.

When did I begin to (dare I say it) like it? I actually DON’T enjoy the actual moment I’m out there, struggling and tired. I don’t like feeling like I should be doing so much better but at the moment this is all I can manage. So how can I miss all of that? I’ve always said that my favourite part of the run is when I stop and I still think that’s true. But at some level, somewhere, I am beginning to grow a certain fondness for getting my kit on and going for a run.

Maybe those endorphins are finally beginning to hit!

Monday, 4 February 2008

I take around 100 photos a month - and even more if I'm on vacation!

(I’m warning my four readers – I’ll be getting on my soapbox again and ranting about single photo layouts!)

WHAT is the big idea with these one-photo layouts taking over the (scrapbooking) world? I do go on and on about this but it really does irritate me that they are everywhere. Case in point: in my latest UK scrapbooking magazine, which shall remain nameless, I counted 19 layouts in their reader’s gallery yet only TWO had more than one photo on them. And out of those two, one had a large photo and several other photos so tiny that they are really more embellishments than photos.

What’s going on?

I am starting to believe that the industry, fuelled by the media, is trying to propagate the idea that single-photo layouts are the way to go. This means that it takes scrapbookers a lot longer to work through those mountains of photos, using a lot more paper and stash along the way which means more shopping which of course means more revenue for the scrapbooking industry!

I am not a really artistic scrapbooker and mainly want to get the story and the photos down for posterity. But I do look enviously around at other scrappers that manage to put together simply stunning layouts that are more like works of art… but somehow a part of me thinks that single-photo layouts are easier to put together in an artistic way. One large photo leaves a lot of space for embellishments and of course, that all-important white space that balances things out. So, for me at least, single photo layouts are sort of like cheating.

It is harder to create a layout with three or more photos that still looks balanced and artistic and trendy. I have few layouts that have only one photo and generally these tend to look a LOT nicer than my multi-photo scrapping efforts! But if I scrap one photo at a time I will never catch up (and my photo mountain is more of a molehill) and I find it very difficult to tell a story with just one photo, even if I support it with lots of journaling.

I do think that special photos deserve a place of their own but a whole album of single-photo layouts? I just can’t do that, I would feel that I was writing a story using only nouns and leaving out all the adjectives and adverbs. In fact, most of my layouts are double spreads because I tend to use around 8 to 10 photos per event!

When I finished reading my UK scrapping magazine and it dawned on me that most of the layouts featured include only one photo I felt strange, almost as if the magazine had left me down. Where are the layouts made “in the real world”? I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with this magazine for quite a while (not just because of its love for single-photo layouts) and I found that I was annoyed enough to actually cancel my subscription. Which I did, the very next day.

I feel that magazines – in all areas, not just scrapbooking – need to have the right balance between aspirational and realistic. So I had to face the facts that it wasn’t pleasurable any more and I had to cancel my subscription. I’m sure they won’t miss me either as there are plenty of scrappers out there that seem to love those blasted single-photo layouts!


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