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3 posts from April 2009

April 23, 2009

Runners, take your marks


During my days with the AP, I was lucky enough to travel to a lot of places and cover a lot of events. But without fail, this was always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s Drake Relays week, and while I work in a different capacity now — getting quotes from athletes as part of the media operation — I’ll be there for every day of the competition, just like always. The thing about the Relays is you don’t have to be a track fan to enjoy it.  The most sophisticated flower garden can’t match all the colors in the uniforms — and sometimes shoes — that you see on the track. The stadium is abuzz with activity. While races are being run, pole vaulters are doing their thing on the east side, long jumpers are sailing into the sand on the west side,  high jumpers are arching over the bar at the south end and throwers are heaving a javelin or discus north of the track. It doesn’t look like anyone’s in charge, but it all goes off without a hitch and on time, too. Watching people who are so skilled at what they do is fun and let’s face it, track athletes are in great shape, so they look good. OK, shot putters aren’t so sleek, but many are easy-going free spirits who enjoy putting on a show. One of them, Reese Hoffa, took a victory lap holding one of those turkey drumsticks sold outside the stadium. How can that not bring on a smile? Besides, when the weather is like it’s going to be this weekend, the Relays is a great excuse to get outside, soak up some sun and be part of an event.

Below: The first Drake Relays "event" of the week was the beautiful bulldog contest on Monday. Rocky, shown here with his "trainers" (his owners) Deanna and Bill Rubis, was among the 50 contestants. Another 50 bulldogs had be turned away, so maybe next year Drake will require qualifying times because getting stubby-legged dogs to parade takes a while.

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Stroke of Genius

Quieting my mind for sleep always requires a bedtime book, and it’s typically a memoir or novel so I can fall into someone else’s story (real or otherwise). This week’s book is “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who had a stroke at age 37 (spend an incredible 19 minutes with her at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229). The brilliant, highly analytical, hard-driving woman found euphoria, peace and wellbeing in the loving, in-the-moment presence of the right side of her brain. She even refers to these nirvana times as being in her “right mind.” In the 10 years spent painstaking redeveloping her brain circuitry and a healthy balance of her right and left hemispheres, Jill made conscious choices not to forge “automatic” pathways to the not-so-admired, ego-centered left-brain portions of one’s character—judging, mental obsessing, aggression, verbal abuse of self and others, etc. Jill’s experience taught her that she can choose to “step to the right” when she finds herself reacting to a situation with negative self-talk, a real waste of anyone’s time and energy. I realize that for many years I’ve been trying to “forge new pathways to my right hemisphere,” though I’ve never identified my actions in such a manner. Today I created a new visual: putting my left hemisphere on a yoga break and installing new file cabinets in the right. How blessed I am to skip the stroke and the decade of recovery. Will now keep vigilant watch on my brain’s automatic responses and my ability to build new pathways of choice.


Let the blog begin

Yes, new media for old journalists has arrived for hip dinosaurs like the Schoffners. So while we can still step into the changing media mainstream without walkers or wheelchairs, we’re taking the leap. Blogging is now part of our repertoire. It’s not new to Chuck. Following his retirement from the Associated Press, Chuck wrote a sports blog as a freelancer for the Des Moines Register for two years. I’m betting his posts will focus on sports (so let’s see if he surprises us). I expect to expound on multiple topics since my professional life interests are all over the board. Count on reading about my efforts to embrace social media, writing (of course), what’s happening in the world of women business ownership in central Iowa, and efforts to choose a healthy attitude of gratitude in the midst of chaos. We promise not to get personal and share stories of aching knees or photos or our grandchildren (you’re lucky…we don’t have any, grandchildren that is).