Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dinner Dates

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writers' Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning.  Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

If you could have dinner with five people - dead or alive - who would you choose, and why?

First, I would invite Jesus to my dinner party.  While I am not a religious person, I consider myself tremendously spiritual.  I grew up singing in the church choir, attending church at least twice a month, living my life the way the Church said I should.  However, as I have gotten older, I have realized that there is quite a bit about organized religion with which I do not agree.  Furthermore, there is quite a bit about Christian theology in particular with which I disagree.

That being said, I strongly believe that Jesus was an extraordinary person.  I think He did amazing things 2000 years ago, and I think individuals' belief in Him today leads them to continue to do compassionate deeds.

At my dinner party, I would love to discuss life, philosophy, religion, and spirituality with Jesus.  I believe we would have a wonderful conversation.

Second (and somewhat similarly), I would like to invite the Dalai Lama to my dinner party.  I am a big fan of the philosophies surrounding Buddhism, and I would love to discuss these with the Tibetan leader.  Furthermore (and perhaps more importantly), I greatly admire and respect what the Dalai Lama stands for: upholding human values such as compassion, love, forgiveness, and understanding; and promoting religious harmony, showing that the great religions are much more similar (in that they strive to make individuals better human beings) than they are different.

I would love to pick his brain about what we as individuals can do to make the world a better place.

Third, I would like to invite Robert Kennedy to my dinner party.  When I was preparing to teach a unit on the 1960s to my tenth-grade students several years ago, I asked my mom what I should include.  When she mentioned Bobby Kennedy, she kind of teared up and said that the world would be a different place had Bobby Kennedy been president.  As I researched him, I realized what a truly remarkable man he was, how pivotal he was in the Civil Rights Movement and the quest for social justice.  

Because I am so passionate about creating a gentler, more equal world for everyone - especially the students I see suffering due to issues of race, ethnicity, social class, etc. - I so greatly respect and admire Robert Kennedy.  

I would love to hear his opinion on how things have (or, more interestingly, have not) changed since his assassination.  And I would love to ask him his opinion on what I can do to further help the underserved.

Fourth, I would like to invite my nana (my mom's mom) to my dinner party.  As I have mentioned before, Nana died unexpectedly on New Year's Eve when I was in eighth grade.  Throughout her life, Nana had her share of hardships, but she overcame them and used her strengths to assist others who were struggling with their own circumstances and battling their own demons.

Furthermore, Nana was extremely passionate about making the world a better place.  She cared so deeply about so many things and so many people: the environment, those tormented by mental health issues and substance abuse, women's rights, etc.  And she did everything in her power to help those who needed more assistance than they were receiving, those who could not help themselves.

Finally, Nana was a carefree spirit; I refer to her frequently as the ultimate hippie.  She was a painter and a calligrapher and a sculptor.  She wore earrings down to her shoulders, many of which she beaded herself.  She wore tube tops, sans bras, to our soccer games when she was in her 50s.  She was amazing.

I carry my nana with me every day: the tattoo on my back, the scarf around my neck, the AA coin in my purse, the chain around my neck.  And I know she is with me all the time.  I know she is looking down on me and is proud of me.

But, I miss her.  And I want to hug her.  And I want to talk to her.  And I want to tell her I think she was a phenomenal woman.  And I want her to know how much I love her.

Fifth, I would like to invite my mom to my dinner party.  First, I want my mama to be able to talk to her mama again.  Second, everyone on this list is on here because of my mom's influence on me.  Third, my mommy is my best friend in the whole wide world, and I wouldn't want to experience something this cool without her.

Really, this would be a pretty perfect dinner party if it were just Nana, Mom, and me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writers' Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning.  Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

Today's WEGO post was the English major's dream come true: open a book to a random page and find one sentence about which to write.

Um, okay!

(Thankfully I recently finished Fifty Shades of Grey.  That could've made for an interesting blog post!)

When I signed up for the marathon last year, I realized that I was going to need some major motivation.  Because I love words (obviously), I found that inspiration in books.  As I have continued running, I have found that need for outside motivation is still there, so I continue reading everything and anything about running, whether that be in Runner's World, blogs, or books.
The book that I just started reading is called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami.
For this task, I flipped through some of the first few pages to find something enlightening that I had marked.  One of the first things was this:
Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  Say you're running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can't take it anymore.  The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself.  This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.  (Murakami vii)
This quote hit home with me: I have been training for something for over year.  I don't believe there has been one day in the past 365 where something has not hurt.  First, I had shin splints.  Then came the blisters.  Third came the tendonitis.  Then my right ankle started acting up.  During the marathon, my hamstring was a hot mess.  During this go around, it's started all over: shin splints, blisters, tendonitis.
Regardless of what I do, regardless of how well I train, something is always injured.
And that is frustrating.
But, like Murakami said, this is an unavoidable reality.  The human body - at least my human body - was not built to run endless miles.  It takes a beating day in and day out, so it should be no surprise that my body does not hold up like I would like it to.
However, whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself herself.  I need to keep reminding myself that I am stronger than I think, that my body is capable of more than it seems - but, I need to be realistic and smart about this as well.
Like nearly every other aspect of running, I believe that this quote also transfers, relatively seamlessly, to life.  Often, we face obstacles, things that we think we can never overcome, never get past.  (See last post for evidence.)  Pain is inescapable; suffering is inevitable.  But, due to our fortitude and our resilience, we can push through difficult times, in turn making us stronger individuals.
And like with marathon running, this pretty much sums up a most important aspect of life.
That, my friends, is what I read about when I read about running.  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's a Hard-Knock Life

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writers' Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning.  Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

As an educator, I feel like I should believe that the most important lessons are learned in the classroom.  However, I believe that could not be further from the truth: in my humble opinion, the biggest lessons are learned in life - and oftentimes, the most valuable lessons are learned in times of trial and tribulation.

While I have learned many, many, many lessons the hard way (and while many of you know those because I am a completely open book), there are not many that I would like to disclose to the never-ending, eternal abyss of the World Wide Web.

However, let's talk - cryptically - about some lessons I've learned from boys.

It is no secret that I have had my share of not-so-wonderful relationships.  There are two in particular, however, that have taught me great lessons, pearls of wisdom that I have learned the hard way.

First, be cautious.  

I dated a person who I was sure was "the one."  He was seemingly perfect for me.  (Interestingly, he was also a pathological liar - and thief - who likely transformed himself into someone who was "perfect" for me so that he could get whatever he wanted from me.)  Because I was so in love with him (or, rather, the person I thought he was), I ignored so many warning signs, noticing but failing to do anything about the glaring red flags that kept arising.

Because I was willing to dive in head first - without even putting in a toe to test the water - I was burned.  Badly.  And I will have to live with the effects he had on me for the rest of my life.

Second, be strong and do what is best for you.

While this also applies to the aforementioned relationship and the warnings to which I was blind, it also connects to a previous relationship, one in which I dated someone with a completely different lifestyle and completely different goals than I.

I dated this person for over three years.  We hit major life milestones together, we traveled cross-country together, and we lived together.  There were, however, major issues with which I was not okay.  But, likely because I wanted the fairy tale, perhaps because I thought it would just be "easier," I stayed with him.

In fact, I stayed with him until he broke up with me.

Because I was not strong and because I did not do what was best for me, I allowed myself to be completely and utterly heartbroken when the relationship ended.

Again, I have been dealt some bad hands when it comes to men.  However, these experiences, these seemingly irreparable damages, have taught me another extremely valuable lesson - one that is, perhaps, far greater than the previous two:

There is no use dwelling in the past.  Everything happens for a reason: take the good with the bad, and learn lessons from the mistakes you have made.

Will I forgive and forget those who wronged me?  I will forgive most of what I discussed previously (although there are a few things that have proven nearly impossible for me to pass over), but I won't forget: instead, I will use what I learned to push forward, to better carve out the life I want and the life I deserve.

And you know what?  That leads into perhaps the greatest lesson of all:

Just because you were hurt and lied to by one person, you can't be cynical and distrustful of others: everyone deserves the chance you gave to the first one.

Life is good.  There are good people.  And you will find those good people with positivity, with optimism, and with an open heart.

I choose strength.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fitness Pinned Down

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

As if I don't have enough obsessions on the Internet (stalking friends on Facebook, stalking celebrities on Twitter, stalking bloggers on blogspot and wordpress, etc.), they had to go and invent something to trump 'em all: Pinterest.  Ugh.

Whenever I have a few minutes to spare, I log on to Pinterest and, after judging looking at everything my friends pinned, I search two categories: prints & posters (as many of you know, I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes) and fitness.
Incidentally, when I saw today's WEGO "assignment," I was thrilled: I have to share with you three pins that illustrate my health focus?  Twist my arm!
First, I clicked over to my "yummy" board where I share food that looks delicious and (mostly) nutritious: for example, this mango blueberry quinoa salad.
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I love food, and I have been striving to eat as healthfully as possible.  Resources such as Pinterest help greatly in that endeavor, as I get bored easily with eating the same thing day in and day out.  I am always looking for new recipes and ideas.

Second, I pinned a CrossFit poster from CrossFit 515 box:
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 Again, as most of you know by now, my daily workouts with my colleagues are something that I absolutely love. I'm totally digging the definition I've been developing in my upper body and the feeling of increased strength in my lower body.  As See-Us Run Des Moines gets up and running (literally), doing CrossFit daily is going to become more and more difficult, but I am hoping to maintain some sort of schedule/routine regardless.
Third, I pinned my goal: a picture of an athlete.
My goal through healthy living - eating foods with strong nutritional value, doing cardio and strength training, etc. - is not to walk the runway like Gisele or Heidi, is not to wear a size 00 like Paris and Mary Kate.  My goal through healthy living is to look strong, to look fit, and more importantly, to be healthy.
I love the picture of this woman.  She is absolutely ripped, but she still looks like a woman: she has curves, she has definition, she is beautiful.  And she is that way because she worked hard.  I love it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Daydream Believer

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

dream | drēm | 
a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind during sleep

While some people may opt to fly across the world, meet Ryan Reynolds, or have a 24-hour party on their dream day, I would choose something far more low-key, something I'd do on a normal weekend day.

First, I would sleep in until about 8:00, and then I would call Mags or Kiara and head out the door for a long run.  

Why would I run on my dream day, you ask?  First, it is a great time to have conversation with good friends.  Second, I always, always, always feel better after a run.

After a nice, long shower and a little bit of lounging around, I would go to breakfast with BFF and indulge in enough carbs and grease to more than make up for every calorie lost during the run.

We would then run errands, likely wandering around Super Target for way too long, laughing at our own goofy jokes, and buying scarves and sunglasses and flip-flops that we don't need.

Then, I would somehow get my mom and my sister to Des Moines, and we would head to lunch and go shopping, trying on clothes and shoes, buying new lipgloss and eyeliner, and spritzing on enough designer fragrances to give us headaches.

Eventually, I would head home and relax, likely watching dozing off to a marathon of Law and Order: SVU.  

Finally, I would wake up, and I would end the day with my friends on the Dos Rios patio, eating too much guacamole and drinking too much sangria, before heading to the Simon Estes Amphitheater for a show (Mat Kearney, preferably), watching the sunset over downtown Des Moines.

Thankfully, my dream day - at least portions of it - happens quite often.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Top Ten

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

Today's WEGO post is a Top Ten list: what are ten things you need or love the most?

These types of lists are always difficult for me.  There are a lot of things I can't live without: my family, my friends, my cats, my students.  Do I have to list each individual person separately?  Or can I lump them into categories?

It's so hard.

So, instead of listing the ten people I love the most in this world - because that's what it would be - who loves things more than people?! - I am going to list for you the ten things (by "things" I mean inanimate objects, not living beings of any kind) that I would grab in case my apartment caught on fire.

Because that's not morbid at all.

First, and this should be no surprise if you know me well, I would grab Flopsea and my blankies.  My nana crocheted White Blankie (the white one, duh), and it was the one in which I was carried home from the hospital.  Green Blankie (the one that is equally green and other colors, duh) was made by my parents' friend, and I've had it forever and ever.  Flopsea was in my Easter basket when I was two, so she is the ripe old age of 26.  And since she is so well loved (read: fragile), she has never been washed.  You do the math.

And yes: even at 28 years old, I still sleep with them.

Side note: let me tell you how long it took to pose this picture.  Flopsea was named for her inability to sit up (she just flops).  There was definite staging involved.

Second, I would take my box of treasures.  This wooden box (that my grandma gave to me) sits on my bookshelf in my bedroom, and it holds my most "valued" belongings.  Starting at the top and going clockwise: a necklace that my nana made (or that her brother made) in the 60s; an antique pocket watch in its original German box, courtesy of my grandma (I believe it belonged to her mother's mother); a $2 bill from years ago when my great-grandpa was still alive and would send us those on our birthdays; a filigree necklace from my grandma; the ankh pendant that I found when my nana died (and the inspiration for my first tattoo); my nana's puka shell necklace from the 60s; the satin ribbon that Flopsea was wearing in my Easter basket (it used to be blue!); an amethyst necklace and ring from my grandma; and my nana's flower power pin.

Third, I would take another box of treasures.  (I have a lot of treasures: just ask my mom and my sister, the two people who packed and unpacked my whole house/apartment when I was rendered absolutely useless after a break-up.)

Unlike the other box of treasures, these are my "charms."  First, there is the rosary that my first boyfriend's mom gave to me.  While I am very spiritual, I am not religious; however, whenever I am stressed or anxious or having trouble getting to sleep, I hold the rosary and make it up as I go.  I also have one of my nana's AA coins as a symbol of perseverance and hope.  (I also carry one with me everywhere I go in my wallet.)  There is also a rock that one of my Soul Seekers mentors gave to me from the top of a mountain in Colorado; it was a very emotional night, and this is a symbol of those times, those friends, those memories.  I also have a variety of charms: the angel that says she's guarding me, the shamrock, the cross, and the heart.  There is a nail from when my brother and I went on a mission trip to a reservation in Lame Deer, Montana.  There is a lucky buckeye from my first boyfriend.  There is an angel woodcarving that I received from a teaching mentor.  And there are a slew of German coins from the trip I took with my grandma.

Fourth, I would take my signed copy of The Freedom Writers Diary, as my week in Long Beach was one of the best experiences of my life, and this book embodies my philosophy as an educator and, really, as a human being.  Additionally, there are some heartfelt sentiments from people who are very important to me.

Fifth, I would take my Marilyn.  My brother drew this picture for me when he was 15, and I think it maybe took him a couple of hours to complete.  He is a phenomenal artist, and since he knew how much I loved Marilyn Monroe, he drew her for me.  She has had wall space in every single place I've had since.

Sixth, I would take the grandparent book that my nana completed for me.  My nana was a phenomenal woman who went through a lot in her life and overcame great obstacles.  And, she was pretty much the ultimate hippie.  Sadly, Nana died quite suddenly at the age of 61 - when I was 13 years old.  When I was paging through the book recently, I realized just how alike we really are.  She wrote that the issues most important to her were social justice and women's rights; I have to think she would be indelibly proud of the work I do with my students everyday and the service I give to Planned Parenthood.  She also wrote how she deals with trials and tribulations by "believing there is a sense of ultimate goodness in situations, that all things work out the way they're supposed to."  It is astonishing to me how similar we are.

Similarly, I would bring the book that my dad made for me.  While most of his responses are extremely true, accurate, and heartfelt, there are some that make me laugh out loud.  For example, the two pages below.  The page on the left says, "Do you have any special memories about raking and burning leaves, or mowing the lawn?  My dad's response: "I love the aroma of burning leaves."  The page on the right: "If you ever played in the leaves, tell about it."  Dad's response: "It was kind of hot, but I guess I should have jumped in before we started burning 'em."  It's so Dad.  And I love it.

Eighth, I would bring the afghan that my mom knitted for me.  I have been begging her for an afghan since she made the one that's in the living room in Omaha - two years, maybe?  Imagine how thrilled I was when I opened my present on Christmas Eve and saw this.  Whoa.  While I may have foolishly forgotten my favorite gift in Omaha when I returned to Des Moines (ahh!), I have used it everyday since.  I love it soooooooo much.

Ninth, I would take the scrapbook that my mom made for my high school graduation.  She put hours upon hours upon hours of time and thought into that book, and it shows.  It documents every aspect of my first 18 years of life, and I couldn't ask for something that was done with more love.

Plus, just look at how cute I was!

Similarly, I would bring the cookbook that my mom made.  Again, I cannot begin to fathom the hundreds of hours that went into this treasure.  It is so, so special to have all of our family's favorite recipes in the same place and in my mama's handwriting.  This is by far one of my most cherished and valuable possessions.

While these are all things I could live without and while they are certainly not the most expensive items I own, they are by far the most valuable to me and most definitely the items that I will pass down to future generations.

Because who wouldn't want a 150-year-old bunny?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

This morning I was invited to attend the American Red Cross' annual Heroes of the Heartland breakfast, where one of my own heroes, Cindy Elsbernd, was receiving an award.

I wish someone had told me to hold off on the mascara this morning.

While I know I can't do them justice, let me tell you about some of these heroes:

  • Sergeant Mike McTaggart: not only did he save a woman from a raging house fire by using a city trashcan to enter the nine-foot window, but he also saved three lives in a horrific accident
  • Dr. Rizwan Shah: she discovered that there was no place in Central Iowa to treat children who had been sexually abused, so she created that place and worked her entire career with children who had been abused and neglected
  • Chris Norton: paralyzed by a tackle in a college football game, he was told that he had only a 3% chance of walking or moving; he is still recovering but is now able to stand unassisted
  • Bill Kees: having volunteered countless hours for the American Red Cross, he instilled in his children that "service to humanity is the best work of life"
  • Dave & Cheryl Pence: like Mr. Kees, they have donated innumerable time, service, and money to helping an incalculable number of individuals and have also demonstrated to so many others the importance of outreach
  • Melisa Wissink: after losing her husband in the line of duty and realizing there was no support for her family, she created the Iowa Chapter of COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) to advocate for families in her situation because "a hero gives hope when there is none"
  • Courtney Deardorff: after being trained by the American Red Cross in CPR/First Aid, she put that education to use by performing the Heimlich on a co-worker, saving his life
  • Cindy Elsbernd: founded Iowa Kidstrong (and its branches, Kid Striders and See-Us Run Des Moines) to combat childhood obesity and bring goal-setting, motivation, and determination to at-risk and underserved youth (like you didn't already know)
Each hero was presented to the audience in a beautiful video clip, and, as you can imagine, so many of their stories made me cry.

None, however, made me sob - shoulder shuddering, audible crying, tears and snot flowing - like the last story: the memorial honoree, Jon T. Tumilson.

On August 6, 2011, Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was one of 30 American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice when the Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

I'm sure many of you have seen the photo from his funeral:

Hawkeye, his loyal dog, would not leave his side.

And that is all I can say without the waterworks starting again.

What do you believe the definition of a hero should be?  Who are your heroes?

I believe that a hero is someone who works tirelessly, does everything in their power to make the world a better place for others.  My personal heroes are my parents, who not only give their time and energy and money to others but who - more importantly - have reared three children who are kind and caring and compassionate and who will hopefully perpetuate their parents' principles.  

No resemblance, huh?  :)
But whose coloring did I get?  :)
My professional hero - other than Cindy, who I mentioned above - is Erin Gruwell, a lifelong educator who believed and who has taught countless others to believe that everyone has a story and everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard.  I am indelibly grateful for the impact she has had on my teaching and, more importantly, my students' learning.

Please share your heroes: I love stories.  :)

This Morning...

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

This morning I looked in the mirror and...

...was proud of the person I saw.

Instead of criticizing how her thighs were too big, I thanked those muscular quads that they were able to carry her 13.1 miles despite various injuries.

Instead of rolling her eyes at the missing toenail and the blistered feet, I commended the training she has been doing over the past year and cheered about how far she has come.

Instead of wincing at the cracked callouses on her hands, I applauded her newfound love for weightlifting and hurrahed the number of pull-ups and presses she can do.

Instead of groaning about how her stomach isn't as flat as it used to be, I told her that she is healthy and fit and strong and nourished and a woman.

Instead of whining about the scars on her neck and on her stomach, I reminded her that she is lucky, especially due to her love of the sun.

Instead of grumbling about the scars on her hands and her knees and her elbows, I reviewed with her the adventurous and carefree childhood memories that created those permanent marks.

Instead of critiquing her too-small hands or her too-chubby cheeks, I showed her how she looks exactly like her parents and their parents before them and emphasized just how lucky she is to come from such a strong family.

Instead of complaining about the circles under her eyes, I respected her for waking up early to work with her students and staying up late to make new memories with friends.

Instead of picking apart and analyzing every physical "flaw" that she sees, I encouraged her to be thankful that she is alive, that she is able-bodied, that she is intelligent, that she is compassionate, that she is loved.

And that is what I saw this morning when I looked in the mirror.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Song

For the next 30 days, I will be participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge by blogging about a predetermined topic each morning. Please visit to learn more - and please check back each evening for your regularly scheduled programming.

Today's post for WEGO is all about a theme song for my blog.  While this may sound interesting to some, it sounded much like the haiku post to me.  I believe that songs are poetry, and, as a refresher, I don't do poetry.

What I do do, however, is listen to music.  A lot.  Unless I am running with a student, I am always, always listening to music while I workout.

Since my blog is largely focused on fitness - and since I listen to music while I am participating in fitness activities - I have decided to share with you some of my favorite workout songs.

First, I love pretty much any song by LMFAO.  Party Rock Anthem, Sexy and I Know It, and Shots get me every time.

Second, I'm currently loving Beyonce's Countdown.  That jam makes me move.  Also, it makes me laugh because my best guy friends have the most hilarious choreographed dance to it.

Pretty much every single Girl Talk song ever is on my marathon playlist.  They are all mashups and have a great tempo with which to run: keep moving, keep moving, keep moving.

I think that Nicki Minaj is pretty darn cool, and my favorite song of hers to run to is Super Bass.  I think it might have something to do with Sophia Grace and Rosie, but I don't know...

Young, Wild, and Free by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa is another favorite.  There's just something about Snoop Dogg that gets me every time.  And I love the chorus to this song.

While we're rapping right along, let me mention some other artists that are flooding my playlist: DMX, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Eminem.  Rap is generally fast, which sometimes makes me want to move (relatively) quickly.

And I love me some pop stars: Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and Fergie.  Again, pop is usually upbeat with a fast tempo: sometimes this makes me move faster than a snail.  Other times, well...

Apparently I like listening to gangsta rap and Top 40 hits while gettin' my sweat on.  

And if you're (un)lucky, you can even catch me singing along.