{August 31, 2012}   I Like It Dirty!

The truth is out—I like it dirty. And that’s a revelation even to me.

One of the first things I did when I embarked on my 47 and fearless project in April was to sign up for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in August. It combined two things way outside my comfort zone: running a 5K (I’m not a fan of exercise and have not run any distance since high school) and abandoning my girlie ways to get muddy and messy.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a 5K obstacle course just for women. Lucky for me, entrants don’t need to be athletes to participate. All obstacles are optional and the race is not timed or competitive. As it says on the organization’s web site, the event is all about “camaraderie, fun and shared challenges.”

If the names of the obstacles don’t have you laughing—H2OMG water pit, Utopian Tubes tunnel crawl, PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff) mud crawl—the names of some of the teams will.

Dirty was the name of the game for many, such as Mudders and Daughters, 50 Shades of Dirty, Mudlicious, Dirty MILFs (Moms Inspiring Lifetime Fitness) and Flirty, Dirty and a Little Nerdy,

A portion of each entrant’s registration fee is donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, so many teams were clearly thinking pink when they chose names and uniforms. Teams included Bosom Buddies, Save Second Base, Tutus for Tatas, Breast Friends, Muddy Melons, Hotties for Hooters and Boobs and Boas.

Our team represented Gallery of Gourdgeous (“like” us on Facebook!), a breast cancer awareness page I created last October. My husband grows pumpkins as a hobby, so the page uses pumpkins, gourds and other squash in an irreverent way to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms. Fittingly, we called our team the Gourdian Angels and wore angel wings, orange diva gloves, silly striped socks, tutus and tank tops (artwork designed by my talented friend Mike) that read “Protect Your Pumpkins!”

When the day of the race dawned, it was easy to calculate how my race prep had been divided: 99 percent uniform creation and acquisition and 1 percent athletic training (meaning, I thought about training…even Googled training for a 5K…but never advanced past the thinking stage.) So, if I was going to fail miserably, at least I was going to look good doing it!

More than 8,000 women turned out that Sunday for the second day of the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Our team included Jen, a sassy soul sister I met when our oldest children were in preschool; Kris, a talented athlete, great friend and post-college roommate; Jane, a beautiful elementary school mate I hadn’t seen in 30+ years; Lisa, my artistic sister-in-law and supportive companion in my 47 and fearless project; and Lisa’s cousin Pam, who I met that day.

Our team, all first-timers at this event, was made up of three runners and three non-runners. Being one of the non-runners, I was nervous that I’d hold our team back.  But it was the perfect balance. The runners motivated the non-runners when we’d have preferred to walk; the non-runners kept the runners from becoming too competitive. Before the race, we vowed to get as dirty as possible and to leave no team member behind. We succeeded at both and had a fabulous time doing it!

There was a freedom in knowing nobody was going to finish the run with clean clothes. We scooped up mud and smeared it under our eyes (to reduce glare, of course.) We jumped in mud puddles, sang and danced to the music blared on the course, cheered on other teams and posed for photographers. We tried every obstacle—climbing a cargo net, high-stepping it through tires, crawling through a mud pit—and succeeded. We revelled in getting dirty, slinging mud at one another, but at the same time helping one another through slippery spots.

It was an hour and 10 minutes of exhilarating, laugh-out-loud fun before we reached the finish line. We held hands as we approached it, our uniforms dripping and our shoes squishing, until one of us slipped and took most of us down. Then we laughed some more.

During the race, I got mud in one of my contacts and couldn’t see for a moment. I got a mouthful of mud near the finish line. My husband and boys wouldn’t get near me for a congratulatory hug after the race. And I was fine with all of that. I felt such a great energy from our group and great sense of accomplishment personally. Like I told Kris, if I’d known exercise could be so much fun, I’d do it more than once every 10 years!

It was the most fun I’ve had in months and is the highlight of my 47 and fearless project so far. I’m not the only who feels that way: three of us have already signed up for next year’s event!

Now I have about six months left—and 28 “firsts” to go—to top this experience. What should I do? Send me your ideas!


I love the idea of having a bucket list for each year, rather than one big list that has no specific deadline. (OK, it does have a deadline–your death. But who has that on their calendar?)

Check out this yearly list by Bucket List Publications. I like that the author acknowledges things that are already in the works and going to happen (deliver her baby daughter) as well things that are simple to do if she makes them happen (see a sunrise, visit a new state).

Read more here: What’s Left for Your 2012 Bucket List?.

Now what are you waiting for???  Make a list and then make it happen!

{August 16, 2012}   Taking a Chance on Belly Dance

Have you ever clicked with a person when you first met and felt like you had known him or her for years? Or tried a sport or activity that came so naturally that you felt you were born to do it?

My first experience with belly dancing was…nothing like that. In fact, quite the opposite.

Most (all?) types of dance require qualities I don’t possess, such as flexibility, rhythm, balance, coordination…must I go on? In fact, I’ve spent most of my life avoiding activities that call for those skills.

So taking a belly dance class is way outside my comfort zone. Fortunately for me, I had a fun partner in my crime against dance. My friend Tammy Kolbe agreed to take the class with me through a local Park & Rec department. It was just an hour a week for six weeks…how hard could it be?

I knew it was going to be a challenge during the first class when our instructor, Suzy Swearingen of Spirit Filled Dancer, demonstrated the proper posture. Feet together, knees slightly bent, pelvis tucked, shoulders back, head lifted…

Wait up! You lost me at “tucked!”

By the time I was properly positioned, I could barely think about moving. And then Suzy went on to demonstrate pelvic circles, hip slides and snake arms among other movements. What had I gotten myself into?

Suzy cheered on all of her students, who ranged in age from teens to sixties. She kept us going with her positive comments and helpful guidance. It’s a good thing I have the ability to laugh at myself, or I wouldn’t have returned.

At the end of the second class, Tammy and I were sweating from the workout. Tammy is musically inclined and graceful to boot, so she’s a natural at dancing despite having back problems.

By the time the sixth class arrived, we had been taught shimmies, arm undulations, hip lifts, belly pops (don’t ask), and much more. I could follow some of the steps…sort of.

As if trying belly dance was not enough outside my comfort zone, I’m really pushing myself by including this unedited video of a follow-along dance we performed at our last class. A perfectionist at heart, I’m uncomfortable showing it (I just watched it a second time…change that to really embarrassed) because it’s proof that I’m not very good at belly dancing, or apparently, following along.

But I am good at following through, so I’m happy to add this to my Countdown to 47 List. And as a bonus, I have two cool coin scarves to show for my efforts. Maybe I’ll sign up for another belly dance class after all.


{August 15, 2012}   Dying to Tie-Dye

Though I recall tie-dying shirts when I was a kid, I’m pretty sure my mom did most—if not all—of the work. So I’ve been looking for an opportunity to bring out the tie-dye kit I’d purchased months ago.

When my friend Tina and her daughters planned to visit to spend a few hours in the pool, I asked her to bring along some white shirts so we could tie-dye together.

The kit we used contained a package of soda ash, three squirt bottles with dye, rubber bands and gloves.

While the kids splashed in the pool, we soaked the shirts in a gallon of water mixed with soda ash fixer, which helps the dyes bond with the clothing fibers.

When the kids were ready for a break from swimming, we squeezed out the shirts and spread them out on the glass patio table.

Sophie and Jamie wanted stripes, so they folded their shirts accordion-style before wrapping rubber bands every few inches around them. Phoebe and Dylan wanted sunbursts, so they grabbed the middle of their shirts, formed the shirts into cones and then wrapped the cones with rubber bands.

I wanted spirals, so I swirled my shirt from the center and then wrapped three rubber bands around it to create wedges. Tina skipped rubber bands altogether and just scrunched her shirt.

Next, we used the squirt bottles of red, yellow and blue dye to color our shirts—in patterns or at random. It was messy, but fun! (Note to self: those gloves were in the kit for a reason; use them.)

Then we placed each shirt in a plastic bag to allow the colors to penetrate. The directions suggest leaving the shirts in the bags from 4 to 24 hours. A longer time results in more intense color.

Removing the rubber bands to reveal the final design was the best part! We were happy with the wild, colorful results and will definitely try this again!

Want to know more about my 47 and fearless project? Check out my first post here.

{August 15, 2012}   Hands-On History Lesson

It’s not that I haven’t been trying new things for my 47 and fearless project recently. It’s that I’ve been lax in blogging about them. So I’m going to remedy that by writing about several of them this week. (You’ve been warned.)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I spent an afternoon with our boys at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin. Although it opened in 1976 and my mom even worked there as a costumed interpreter for a time, I’d never been to this amazing outdoor museum.

According to its web site: “Old World Wisconsin’s historic farm and village buildings comprise the world’s largest museum dedicated to the history of rural life. … The museum’s more than 60 historic structures range from ethnic farmsteads with furnished houses and rural outbuildings to a crossroads village with its traditional small-town institutions.”

We arrived on a gorgeous summer day and were lucky to catch the first few innings of a vintage baseball game between the Eagle Diamonds, based on the 1860s Waukesha Diamonds team, and the Lemont Quarrymen from Illinois.

Vintage baseball recreates “the styles, speech, rules and terminology of the 1860s game. It’s not only a competitive game, but also a re-enactment of baseball life, similar to an American Civil War re-enactment.”

Players don’t wear gloves to catch the balls, and after the ball is hit, it can bounce once and be caught to be considered an out.

The home team had a rough first inning, but turned it around in the second inning with more than a dozen runs. Though we didn’t stay until the end, the Diamonds were victorious, winning 31-7.

From there, we explored many of the farms and homes on the nearly 600-acre site. The boys had a great time learning children’s games–including a hoop tossing game called “graces”—at the Crossroads Village and trying their hand at splitting wood and making wooden shingles at the Koepsell Farm in the German area.

We also watched a blacksmith demonstrate his craft, learned how sheep’s wool is spun into yarn, explored a one-room school house, took a peek at different farm animals, used a hand-grinder to grind grain, and toured homes, farms and thriving gardens.

It was a great hands-on way to learn history, and Dylan declared the whole day “awesome!” I can’t argue with that!

{August 6, 2012}   Learn a New “F” Word

frolf [frawlf] frolfed, frolf·ing

1. Verb: To vomit due to ingestion of grande amounts of fromage; French slang

2. Noun: A holistic manipulation of the frenulum (membrane connecting the inside of the lip to the gum) to relieve chronic musculoskeletal pain and stress; orig. Ida Pauline Rolf (1896–1979)

3. Noun: A sport in which plastic discs (Frisbees) are thrown into baskets, usually 9 or 18 in succession, situated at various distances over a course having natural or artificial obstacles, the object being to get the disc into each basket in as few throws as possible

When my friend Angela learned about my 47 and fearless project, she asked, “Have you ever been frolfing?”

I believe my response was something like, “What the heck is frolfing? Oh, it doesn’t matter. I’ll go.”

Unlike the first two definitions listed above, the third is not a product of my imagination. Frolf is Frisbee golf, or disc golf, as the Professional Disc Golf Association prefers to call it.

My boys and I recently met Angela at Miniwaukan Park in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, for our first frolf outing.

There are many cool things about disc golf. Among them: It’s fun. It’s cheap. It’s easy. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes me, too. But I digress…

There are many nuances to frolf, but for a beginner, it’s simple: Aim the Frisbee at the “Pole Hole” (elevated metal basket) and throw it. That’s it.

Yes, it’s helpful to perfect your grip, vary your footwork (run-up) to maximize distance, use different throw styles (Tomahawk), learn the lingo, etc. But those things are not necessary to have a good time.

Angela is a fabulous coach and helped us navigate the course while she offered suggestions in a low-pressure way.

We didn’t keep score as we progressed through the nine holes, and we completed them in little over an hour. Jamie, 5, had fun until he tired around the 7th hole. Dylan, 8, said the outing was “awesome!” And I thought it was a beautiful morning spent outside with great company. We got some exercise, had fun and didn’t break the bank. (We bought two discs ahead of time at $9 each; there is no fee at most disc golf courses.)

Added bonus: I didn’t need to eat a lot of cheese (though as a Wisconsinite, that is an activity I enjoy.)

Have you ever been frolfing? Or do you have suggestions for other activities I should try? Let me know!

et cetera