Monday, June 28, 2010

The Camper Life for ME! Turkey Week 1

I can’t believe I’ve already been at camp one week! We are having an absolute blast and time is flying! The kids at this camp are so incredible. They come from all different backgrounds, speak multiple languages, have lived in multiple countries and they have their own unique sub-culture that I am fascinated by! I feel like they have so much to teach this small town Oklahoma girl!

My girls, 11-12th graders, are so much fun. They have been sharing their hearts and lives with me this past week during Bible study and cabin time and I just love seeing God work in their young, but bold hearts. It’s truly refreshing to be reminded of pure, young, untainted love for God. I’ve been able to share my heart and life with them as well, giving them comfort and wisdom from my life experiences thus far. I’ve also been able to have some deep conversations with a girl who is really seeking and desiring God’s presence and I ask that you join me in praying for her over the next week that God would do a great work in her heart and life!

The longer I’m here, the more I feel that in some way, I am meant to be a lifelong camper. I have seen God and felt His strong presence so much each day. I love being removed normal life and being thrust into daily worship, scripture, fun, games, nature, relationships with other god-fearing men and women and oh, did I mention fun?!?

That’s right, here at Olive Grove they sure know how to have a good time! I see why kids have been coming back year after year!

Wednesday night we hiked up to the Eternal Flames. They are naturally occurring methane gas fires that are on top of a mountain that have been burning since prehistoric times! They were so incredible – talk about God’s wondrous creation! We did our nightly talk and worship on top of the mountains and treated the kids to American s’mores (they don’t have marshmallows in Turkey)!

Thursday I went hiking with the youth through the mountains to a cove in the sea where there’s a huge jumping rock and we jumped off the rock and then swam back to camp! I was WIPED after that! Always look forward to SIESTA time each day! And last night the counselors were treated to a birthday bash complete with Turkish versions of American snacks (i.e., Taco and Olive flavored Doritios and Pop Keks – like Hostess cupcakes, peanut butter – I’ve been DYING without this, and Nutella!) We were some pretty happy campers, lol! We topped off the night with a hedgehog sighting and a midnight beach stroll to see the sea turtles lay eggs.

Friday was the trip down to Olympos where there are beautiful beaches and an ancient pirate castle ruins. We took the kids hiking and then found another HUGE jumping rock!

God is certainly alive and moving here. Saturday some of the campers left and a new batch arrived (some stay 2 weeks). I cherish every moment of each day here. And honestly can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Sunday we took the kids out on a boat trip on the Mediterranean Sea. We rented 4 huge boats and cruised to different swimming and jumping and cave exploring sites and spent the whole day on the water. Funny story…right after getting on the boat, I took my backpack off and it fell off the boat into the sea!!! I was obviously freaked out b/c there were a few cameras in there! However, miraculously, my backpack floated on it’s back and the only things that got wet were the towels and a book. But the funniest part was when it went overboard, so did I! I didn’t fall in, but I heaved my body over and made people hold onto my ankles while I stretched down the length of the boat to retrieve it – could have just jumped in and made it easier on myself, lol! But everyone got a good laugh, so I guess it was all worth it!

I ask you to join me in praying for each of the children to experience God personally before leaving camp and that we counselors and kids have energy for another action packed week. Also, an update on Joel (my friend's son) – he woke up from his coma last week and is talking and doing well. Not sure now of long-term effects, but this is a huge answered prayer!!! Thanks for tagging along on this incredible journey.

PS. A few things I’ve learned:
Togs = swimsuit (New Zealand)
Jandals = flip flops (New Zealand)
¼ tea to ¾ water for Turkish Cay (chai)
Turks don’t use ice ☹
It’s totally normal to eat ice cream every day!
Peanut butter (my fave food) is a rarity, but I found some!
I can float and swim forever in the Mediterranean - gotta love salty water!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cirali Turkey...It Begins!

Merhaba (Hello)!

I'm writing you from a pansiyon (hotel) in the beautiful village of Cirali, Turkey! It's been a fun 3 days at camp so far and I'm really loving the people here. There are counselors from America, Germany, New Zealand and Turkey and most are living abroad. We've spent our days learning about the TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and what to expect the next few weeks and planning our activities and Bible studies. It's been such a joy to learn from so many people and cultures. We've also taken full advantage of the GORGEOUS Mediterranean Sea right at our fingertips. I truly feel this place could be the most beautiful place I've ever been. It looks like a cross between New Zealand and Africa! There are lemon, mulberry, and apricot trees right outside our door. The stone/pebble beaches are incredible...if anyone needs IKEA esque rocks for their bathroom let me know, haha!

I will be working with the High School students during my time here. I'm so excited for the students to arrive tomorrow. My responsibilities include: leading daily Bible study devotions, team-building games/exercises, waterfront monitoring and leading hiking as an (Expert Explorer) with some other counselors. We were able to take our first mountain hike yesterday and the views were breathtaking! Today we went sea kayaking around the shore line to find other possible about a workout! Hiking in the heat and humidity and sun in addition to some strong waves on the kayak left us all pretty tired...Gotta rest up tonight before the kiddos arrive! (BTW, it's an 8 hour time difference)

All our meals are traditional Turkish meals cooked by the families who own the camp grounds we are staying on. They also have my favorite Magnum ice cream bars that I discovered the last time I was in Turkey (we NEED these in the states!). They are wonderful! I have so much to report and so little time... So this is all for now, but I'll be keeping you posted as to what unfolds!

Also, please be praying for one of my co-counselor's sons. His name is Joel and he was electrocuted yesterday while at school and is now in a coma. She had to leave immediately to be with him. We are praying that he wake from the coma soon and have no long-term affects from this!

Thanks for going on this journey with me! Can't wait to share how God works in us and the kids over the next 2 weeks!

Much love! Here is a pi (not mine) of where I'm at!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just Touched Down in London Town!

The first leg of my cross-world trek is under my belt and it feels good...well as good as 9 hours of tossing and turning, a good seat-mate, and a warm airplane croissant can leave you feeling.

My seat-mate, Nick was a swell guy who shared my passion for traveling and writing and carpe-dieming, so that couldn't have gone better.

I'm spending a good part of the day in Heathrow Airport, which by Airport standards is pretty much the Cadillac, so I'm not too upset. The only bummer is the pound conversion kills the wallet. My venti Starbucks was considerably smaller than the US size (imagine that) and still cost $5, a whole dollar more than my usual fix.

Also, I didn't have time to make my Sephora run for makeup before leaving the states, so I found myself in the duty-free shop this am purchasing $40 Bobby Brown foundation - redic! Oh could I say no, when she took me from sham to glam?!? I was looking pretty rough after the all night flight and she worked magic! Lol!

I love traveling... in case you didn't notice...not just for the experiences, but for the people watching too. There's always loads of funny things you get to witness! For instance, in the bathroom at the airport this am, I got to witness a lady curling her eyelashes with a spoon. No joke, she pulled out a silver spoon from her purse and started going to town on her eyelashes as i tried to stare inconspicously, haha! Crazy...
Another surprise in London was realizing that that there's no free wifi at the airport. I had to throwdown 9 pounds for a days' usage. Boo.

Well, that's the update! Off to Istanbul!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Tarahmura Miracle Diet: Secrets of a Noncancerous Culture

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
In yesterday's blog I reviewed the Tarahumara's running secret: Bare Foot Running, and how we can follow in their footsteps. Today I'm going to focus on the diet of this noncancerous culture as described in Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run.

The Tarahumara eating plan is really quite simple.  Lunch and dinner is based upon fruit, beans, yams, whole grains, and vegetables and breakfast is often a salad. You may be thinking "Where's the meat?" and rightfully so....we all know how all-important protein is to muscle recovery, especially for athletes. Have you ever heard of pinole? According to Wiki, "Pinole is a Mexican Spanish word for a coarse flour made from ground toasted maize (corn) kernels, often in a mixture with a variety of herbs and ground seeds, which can be eaten by itself or be used as the base for a beverage." It also happens to be a staple of the Tarahumara diet, as well as, "an incomplete protein, but combined with beans, it is more nutritious than a T-bone steak." Well how about that! I always knew that Mexican food was healthy for me (and I should eat it for every meal, haha). Furthermore, you won't see these mighty runners fly by with a power protein bar in hand or guzzling Gatorade, but you will catch them taking swigs from their pinole jugs. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition the Tarahumara diet exceeds the UN recommended daily protein intake by more than 50%!

Apparently, phenols (natural plant chemicals that combat disease and boost the immune system) are one of the key weapons in the Tarahumara disease fighting artillery. "When Cornell University researchers did a comparison analysis of wheat, oat, corn, and rice to which had the highest quantity of phenols, corn was the hands down winner. And because it's low-fat, whole-grain food, pinole can slash your risk of diabetes and a host of digestive-system cancers - in fact all cancers!" How??? "According to Dr. Robert Weinberg, a professor of cancer research at MIT, and discoverer of the first tumor-suppressor gene, one in every seven cancer deaths is caused by excess body fat. The math is stark: cut the fat, and cut your cancer risk. Change your lifestyle, and you can reduce your risk of cancer by 60-70%." And if that's not convincing enough, when the American Cancer Society compared lean and heavy people in 2003, heavier men and women were far more likely to die from at least ten different kinds of cancer. SCARY! the facts, but how do we apply it??? How do we go cancer-free the Tarahumara way?
Step 1: Eat less.
Step 2: Eat better. 

The first is pretty self-explanatory. The second comes with some guidance. "Dr. Weinberg says we need to build our diets around fruit and vegetables instead of red meat and processed carbs. The most compelling evidence comes from watching cancer cells fight for their own survival: when cancer tumors are removed by surgery, they are 300% more likely to grow back in patients with a 'traditional Western diet' than they are in patients who eat lots of fruit and veggies, according to a 2007 report by The Journal of the American Medical Association. Why? Because stray cells left behind after surgery seem to be stimulated by animal proteins. Remove those from your diet, and those tumors may never appear in the first place." 

That's a pretty convincing statistic! By no means am I trying to push a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle of which I don't even adhere. Just sharing the facts. However, it does make me stop and think now when I choose to eat meat and animal products, and I've started limiting meat in my diet to only a few days a week. Lucky for me, my fave food happens to be Mexican (thank you Lord) so going sans meat usually isn't too tough here in ATX! I am a sucker for falling-off-the-bone BBQ, though so it's just become a less regular indulgence. :)

In the past year I've also made a concerted effort to get more "phenols" by the way of adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet. If you're like me, you may find it hard to get the recommended 7-13 servings, buying produce with great intentions only to have it rot in the fridge days later. My solution: Juice Plus+! It's a totally organic, natural way to get a variety of 17 fruits and veggies in your diet daily in a convenient, portable capsule or gummie! I still try and eat as many fruits and veggies as possible (ate a whole cantaloupe by myself in the past 2 days, lol), but know that my body will run best and regenerate best with more than I can do on my own!

So, here's to keeping it simple...the Tarahumara way!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Born to Run. Really?

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenYou could have had me fooled! With 5 knee surgeries under my belt by age 26, running is the farthest thing that I feel "born to do". Which is precisely why I devoured the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall when my friend Austen shared it with me. I'll admit, I was pretty leery on the concept that humans were made to run. Don't get me wrong, I was an avid runner in college easily logging 30-40 miles per week and successfully completing both the OKC and Austin half marathons (best time 1:42) and walking the OKC marathon (time 5:48). However, like most of you, I joined the ranks of the injured and abused. With my 5th knee surgery on the horizon in 2009,  I sweetly kissed running goodbye (or so I thought).

In his book McDougall, explains, "Every year anywhere from 65 to 80 percent of all runners suffer an injury. That's nearly every runner, every single year. No matter who you are, no matter how you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same. " That's encouraging right?

Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard University answers, "A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently plaguing us are actually caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate, give us knee problems. Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet, and had much lower incidence of knee injuries." So, running shoe companies are to blame?

McDougall takes a close look at the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, who can run hundreds of miles without rest and enjoy it, as well as some of the elite ultra marathoners in the country in order to extract the secrets of being Born To Run. He ultimately comes up with three painful truths:
  1. The Best Shoes Are The Worst - "Runners wearing top-of-the-line shoes are 123% more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes, according to a study led by Bernard Marti, M.D." The Tarahumara run hundreds of miles through the canyons in thin flimsy leather sandals.
  2. Feet like a Good Beating - "In the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Dr. Bates and colleagues reported that as shoes wore down and their cushioning thinned, runners gained more foot control." In essence your feet respond to what you put em in. More cushion = more pounding = more injuries. Less cushion = less pounding (your foot compensates) = less injuries. 
  3. Human Beings Are Designed To Run Without Shoes - "Putting your feet in shoes is similar to putting them in a plaster cast, says Dr. Hartmann, Ph.D (trainer for the world's finest distance runners).  If I put your leg in plaster, we'll find 40-60% atrophy of the musculature within 6 weeks. Something similar happens to your feet when they're encased in shoes." Feet live for a  fight and thrive under pressure; let them laze around, and they'll collapse. Work them out and they'll arc up like a rainbow. 
So what's the answer for those of us who's tender feet can't handle tip-toeing over pebbles on the beach? Vibram Five Fingers! I just got my new pair in last night and have been wearing them around all day!

These little beauties are my new hope to burst back into the running scene (as soon as the Dr. gives me the green light). I am going to test them out this summer during my mission trip at the camp I'll be working at. For the first time traveling I will not be packing my bulky running shoes, whoo hoo! These shoes are super versatile for all types of sports and should be the perfect match for my active lifestyle!

All in all, the theory that God made us with all we need to run just makes sense to me. All we have to do is look at the elegant, fit, happy Tarahumara to see that foam and gel and lots of cush aren't the keys - if they were why do we still get injured??? Give this book a read, try em out and let me know what you think! Time to fly...

Tomorrow I'll review the Tarahumara diet and the eating secrets they hold to staying healthy!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dip/Stick or Dipstick? You decide!

"The old saying is wrong - winners do quit, and quitters do win." - Seth Godin

Ironic, right? Intriguing? Absolutely!

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)I just finished Seth Godin's newest NYT besteller book, the dip, and haven't shut up about it since. Why? Because it's such a simple, clear message that has the potential to shake you (and me) from your slumber and propel you to become the "best in the world". Sounds lofty, eh? Well, it is, and that's the point. The principles outlined in this book depict what it takes to go from Good to Great . Not at all a new concept as this same topic has been addressed by Jim Collins and others. However, Godin, subscribing to the mantra "less is more," finds a way to rivet readers in less than 100 pages through simple charts and relevant case study examples.

What's so BIG about this little book?
- It teaches you when to QUIT and when to STICK.
- It helps you identify if you are in a dead-end Cul-de-sac, a march to your death Cliff or a life-giving Dip. (see illustrations below)

In the past year I unknowingly found myself in a Cul-de-sac of my own. I had a great job, a great life in Chicago, yet my dreams and aspirations for my future were being suppressed in my present frenzied state. I had been at the same job at an ad agency for 3 years and started realizing that I didn't love my job and the thought of spending years upon years of my prime doing it made me shutter. I also realized that the amazing city I lived in wasn't where I could see myself living long-term and the encroaching desire to leave only became more pressing with time. In my own way, I started to see that the hype and excitement of this long sought-after career/city dissipate. It was at this point that I had to ask myself the same questions Godin uses in his book: "Is the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe I'm in a Dip-a temporary setback that will get better if I keep pushing. But maybe it's really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard I try." Tough call!

Should I quit, call my situation a Cul-de-sac and move on? Risking security, comfort and a steady paycheck in the midst of a recession with soaring unemployment rates?

Should I stick, suck it up and keep giving my all for what I hoped would someday be fulfillment? Keeping my 9-5 and the pay and benefits? Risking a chance to pursue my dreams, break the mold and see if I have what it takes?

According to Godin:
"Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you'll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps. Either they fail to stick out the Dip-they get to the moment of truth and then give up-or they never even find the right Dip to conquer."

Ultimately, I wanted to be a winner, so I quit. Now fastforward 6 months and I'm living in my dream city, Austin, Tx, working from home with my Juice Plus+ business -something I'm truly passionate about, and about to go on a month long mission trip to Turkey. Only to return to an awesome opportunity to do marketing consulting for a global sustainability solutions company! Alas, I'm in a new Dip - one worth the fight!

I thank God daily for giving me the courage and conviction to follow my dreams. To take a leap of faith, follow my heart and His will and embrace the blessings that ensue.