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One of the positive aspects that Mike and I look forward to the most when being single again is to able to devote more time & energy to our personal creative projects. I remember when I met Mike in 2006, one of the first things I confessed to him was that sometimes I lose focus on my creative drive when entering a relationship. We’ve both pushed some of our ambition to the wayside while putting that energy into making “us” work. Maybe that isn’t the way it has to be, but for our case, it was.
While on the way out-of-town yesterday to a baby shower with some of my coworkers, one of them asked a very interesting question – What would you do/be in life if you had to do it all over again? We all went around and gave our answers… but my immediate thought was that my life isn’t over, and I can still be whatever I want to be. My answer in the car was to be a professional athlete, but that’s not the only one. I want to write a book, I want to make a feature film, I want to compete in Ironmans around the world, I want to learn Italian, I want to experience everything I possibly can before the day I leave this earth. I want to live in a bigger city. I want to have a taste of the good life. I want to help the less fortunate. My interests are very broad and overwhelming to most, but for me they are exciting and the reasons for living.
While trying to sleep in this morning, which wasn’t happening, I felt this tremendous urge to write about my future creative projects today as my blog entry. So, I got my tired a** out of bed to do just that (despite the fact that I babysat my niece until the wee hours of the morning last night).
I’m just going to name a list off that I’d like to do in the near future, then talk about each one individually.
1. My book – The Jen West Quest
2. Writing a feature film
3. Sponsorship for my Ironman races (I’ll explain why this is “creative” later)
4. Ghost Ghirls
#1. – My book – The Jen West Quest. This is first and foremost on my list of things to do. While I am not an expert in the process, my goal is to have something strong on paper to be able to sell by early/mid summer. I don’t expect to be finished, but I hope to have something that I can present to people in the industry by then.
#2. – Writing a feature film. You know I used to be so passionate about filmmaking, but it’s something that has faded with time. No matter what happens with this interest, I have three strong story ideas waiting for me if I ever want to pursue one of them. The first one is about Louise Wooster, a prostitute/madam Birmingham native who was the self-proclaimed lover of John Wilkes Booth when he shot Lincoln. Her story is amazingly dramatic & sad, and it deserves to be told. My second concept is to tell the story of Nellie Bly, a female journalist in the mid/late 1800′s who faked insanity in order to study a mental institution from within. I’m surprised no one has done anything with her story yet because it’s so courageous & inspiring. The third idea is to do a modern-day Helen Keller story about a deaf & blind child who learns how to communicate. While doing so, the beauty of a world with no sight & sound is expressed in a whole new way. Honestly, this would be the easiest film to make since it isn’t a period piece and funding could be secured to help raise awareness for this type of condition. But no matter what happens, making a film is a full-time commitment and one that I would take very seriously if I ever decided to jump in.
#3. – Sponsorship for my Ironman races. I’ve already decided that if I am lucky enough to get a slot through the Ironman Kona lottery, then I am going to pursue sponsorships. I listed this as a creative project because I would have to market myself in an attractive way and think outside of the box since I’m not a professional athlete. I would become a product in a sense, which is a whole new way to look at myself in the Ironman world. It would be every exciting and fun to take this on!
#4. – Last but not least, Ghost Ghirls. It’s important to remember that this isn’t meant to be a career or major time suck in any way… it’s primarily just a hobby and something I’d like to do. We are pushing back our webisodes until this summer when we all have a little more time to dedicate to it. It’s turned out to be a little more complicated and time-consuming than we originally planned, but it will be worth it in the end. First and foremost, it needs to be FUN!!
So that’s that for my creative project standings. I am really looking forward to what the future has in store, and my dreams are bigger than ever!
I have been freaking out about my weight & eating habits of late. The scale has been swinging up a little more than usual which never fails to give me a minor panic attack. Fluctuations don’t usually bother me as much, but lately I’ve been eating more sugar than usual while at work. I recognize old patterns creeping back of knowing where certain foods are and being sneaky about eating. If I want to have a chocolate, that’s OK… I don’t need to hide it under a napkin until I get back to my office and eat it faster than I can enjoy it. I told a coworker about this recent problem last night, and she is going to help talk me down when the cravings hit. I’ve got to get back into the habit of NOT relying on simple sugars to bring my mood up fast because it’s nearly impossible to maintain that high without eating more crap. You’ve got to stop the vicious cycle before it starts. This has only been happening for the past week or so, but I want to stop before it snowballs.
Something to consider – my slight weight gain could be from muscle. While I don’t usually buy-in to the idea that it’s OK to gain weight under any circumstances, I’m willing to entertain the thought just this one time. My upper body has gained tremendous strength over the past month or so, and I can see & feel muscles that have never been visible before. I also think that I’ve done a good job of maintaining my leg strength while being injured. So, yes, it could be possible that my weight would be a little higher because of new muscle development. At least I will choose to believe that to make myself feel better.
One last thing that was brought to my attention in the past 48 hours – that I may have been overtraining before I hurt my knee. I’m going to have to disagree on that one. I built up my workload gradually over a long period of time, and my workouts are always carefully planned in accordance with a race. I know a lot of people think less is more, and I also think there is something to that. However, it is all relative to what the end goal is. There are other people who train much, much more than me for the same race. My current knee injury was from a specific movement that triggered an injury from the past – a deep squat. I should have known better, but you can bet your socks that I won’t repeat that mistake twice. It’s not that squats are bad, it is just that I have to be extra careful of those kinds of movements. As far as overtraining goes, even though I feel strongly that it wasn’t a factor I will still keep that thought in the back of my mind. I guess you can never be too careful. All I know is that I get lots of sleep, eat well, and have virtually none of the other symptoms that come along with overtraining.
On another note – they tore down the scary old house across the street yesterday!! It’s always been an eyesore, but in some strange way I really liked how spooky it was. We even shot our Ghost Ghirls photos there a few weeks ago not knowing that it was doomed to be torn down. While I missed the demolition yesterday, Mike said that a huge crowd gathered to watch as it was being torn down. Bittersweet I guess.
What a week. I’ve got to learn how to deal with stress better… between birthday festivities, a very busy week at work, knee therapy, and our first Ghost Ghirls shoot, there wasn’t a point where I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all that was happening around me. I got so overwhelmed in fact, that yesterday when I woke up it was hard to breathe.
All this boils down to vulnerability. Sometimes I don’t deal with exposure well, and I’m left craving some serious alone time. Putting yourself out there with the either the opportunity for success or failure is a thrilling high most of the time, but when you fail… it sometimes hurts twice as much.
Is my heart still hurting from my missed marathon last Sunday? Maybe. It has been so frustrating to not be able to run or do high intensity exercise. While I am learning how to get a good workout from deep water running, it doesn’t quite feel the same. I desperately want to go for a run in this amazing 70-degree weather we are having… it is literally calling my name. Maybe I just need some sunshine. After my pool workout today maybe I’ll go and lay in a park somewhere for a little bit. I need to remember that my knee will be better in the next week or two, and I’ll be back out there in no time!
When I find myself down like this, one of the only comforting thoughts is to envision myself crossing the New Orleans Half Ironman finish line in late April. I swear, racing is like crack. Food used to fill that void for me, but now I rely heavily on exercise to give me joy and fulfillment. I just want to get out there, sweat it out, and prove to myself that I CAN DO IT. It’s validation like no other. I need it.
Ghost Ghirls went pretty well last night, though we figured out pretty quickly that we need more ghost hunting equipment & devices. We also need scarier places to visit. While visiting happy ghosts sounds like fun in theory, in our first experience they weren’t very communicative. Luckily the history of our first location is pretty fascinating and we will be able to carry the webisode purely based on that. I guess I wasn’t expecting such a learning curve, but now that we’ve experienced our first outing it only makes sense with so many variables involved. Because of this, we will have to push back our “season premiere” to April 1st, but I promise it will be worth the wait!
Today I am going to visit my 92-year-old grandmother West who is very sick in the hospital. She is an amazing lady who had 7 sons and created LOTS of beautiful artwork in her lifetime. My mom and dad named me after her – Jennifer Louise West, her first name being Louise. I have over 20 cousins on that side of the family alone! Anyway, I am feeling a little down about that as well because looks like we might lose her pretty soon. She is ready to go though, she has been waiting over 20 years to be reunited with her husband Howard who died when I was in the 5th grade. She also lost two of her sons over the years and I know she can’t wait to see them again, too. She is a beautiful woman with the most amazing skin & smile. I can’t wait to hug her neck today and spend some time with her. It will be bittersweet.
After visiting with her today, I want to go camp out in a coffee shop and work on my book. I am feeling very open & transparent at the moment, which works really well for writing. I got some great advice from some of you the last time I posted about my book, so I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom with me! I hope your Sunday is beautiful. Love to you all.
The Ghost Ghirls blog is LIVE!!! One step closer to another 2011 resolution coming true. You can view the blog by clicking here, or you can “like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the project. It’s going to be FUN!!
If one thing is for sure – people feel very strongly one way or the other about ghosts. I’ve come to realize this over the past week or so, especially when ouija boards come up in the conversation. I am a firm believer in energies and spirits sometimes hanging around after death, especially if they are lost or confused. But there are other people who feel very strongly that this isn’t the case. Either way, we plan to have some fun while learning one way or the other!! We are going on two Ghost Ghirl hunts tonight – the first one is a “happy” spirit living in a well-known historical house here in Birmingham, Alabama. The second spirit is not-so-nice, and we are pretty nervous about that encounter. We are only going to spend about 3 hours tops in each location for this first night out. We will also build our ghost equipment as we go… so tonight we are relying heavily on traditional devices. Our mission isn’t to “prove” without a doubt that a site is haunted… instead we are seeking to communicate and learn a little history along the way, while having a lot of fun. It’s a dream come true… Halloween 365 days a year!!! :D
On another note, my physical therapy is going really great. My therapists probably think I’m nuts b/c I get so excited about random things like sending electric shock waves through my leg. :) They actually think that I did tear my meniscus, but it is still fixable without surgery. Everyone is very confident that I should be able to compete in the New Orleans Half Ironman in late April with no problems. I am still so glad that I sought out a doctor’s advice and am treating it appropriately… otherwise, who knows what I would have done to my knee in the future! Probably would have gone on to damage it permanently.
I am feeling super restless not being able to run or bike. Swimming is so inconvenient, but I am sticking with the program and keeping up with my endurance and strength that way. The PTs said it would be OK to start swimming without the pool float between my legs as long as I don’t feel any pain. YAY!! That is great news. :)
Well, I’m off to prepare for tonight’s Ghost Ghirls outing. Hope you have a great Saturday!
Random Friday note: I am so lucky to have such amazing friends (new & old), coworkers, and family. I am surrounded by love and support at any given moment. I hope I equally give back to you what I’ve received!
I’m at a loss for words this morning… probably b/c there is just so much going through my head! I’m having lunch today with two race buddies (Stephen & Chez) and we are going to pick-up our race packets while we are out. I might die of excitement. Seriously, my heart is about to explode from anticipation for my first ever marathon on Sunday!!!
We had our first Ghost Ghirls production meeting last night at our house! Clarissa Weaver, Chez Knox and myself officially make up the core Ghost Ghirls team. The concept for the web series will be female ghost hunters seeking out and trying to communicate with female spirits. We shoot at our first location next Saturday night (details will be kept secret until after filming for safety reasons) and the first webisode will go live on March 1st. We are doing our first Ghost Ghirls photo shoot in the morning, and the blog should be live within the next week. We plan to do 4-5 webisodes in 2011 unless there is a demand for more. The main thing we talked about last night was how to be different from the rest of the ghost hunting teams out there. We hope to not take ourselves too seriously while still respecting the deceased and accomplishing our mission to communicate. Plus it should be really, really funny.
Some pretty cool things have been happening behind-the-scenes over the past few days in regards to my sports goals for 2011! I will share the details in the next few weeks once everything is set in stone, but looks like I am going to have some major training & sports nutrition support for my Ironman this August. Ahhhhh!!!! My goal of becoming an age grouper might not be totally out of grasp after all. Seriously… if I reach that kind of level in triathlon, I may have reached the peak of happiness!! It’s pretty amazing to know that it’s a real possibility.
Speaking of goals & dreams, I have another one I’d like to share that’s been under wraps for a year or two now. I am pretty obsessed with Triathlete Magazine’s annual swimsuit issue that comes out in June (I believe). Well, each year they have an online contest where athletes can compete to be a model in this very issue! They always do the shoot in some exotic location and the models also participate in a local triathlon while there. You can view the Miss Triathlete for 2010 by clicking here. Maybe 2011 or 2012 is calling my name??? It will be fun to try if nothing else!
I have some Ghost Ghirls & book updates to share with you guys for tomorrow’s post. As for right now, I need to scram… about to head out for my 21 mile long run! Wish me luck!
Wow, taking a Friday off is the way to go!! I camped out at a local coffee shop and enjoyed the time off to myself by replying to comments & posts from the day before. It took about 6 hours to respond to everyone!! Thanks again for taking the time to write me, I really appreciate every single one of you.
There are a few more questions that I would like to answer in addition to the ones from yesterday:
How tall are you? You seem pretty lean for 145.
I am 5’10″, so that makes a pretty big difference! I currently have a BMI of 20.8.
How much do you exercise?
This is a really great question. I have always been very active, but I took a month off from exercise when I started Carb Lovers because I really wanted to focus on my diet. After a few weeks in, I started to slowly incorporate running back into my weekly schedule. Now, I am training for my first marathon in just a few weeks! I also plan to complete my first Ironman distance this August.
What do you eat on a typical day?
While I was still losing my 47 pounds, I counted my calories every day on MyPlate (LiveStrong.com) and followed Carb Lovers exactly. Now that I am in a maintenance phase, I am much less restrictive. I only count my calories Monday – Friday, but I still follow Carb Lovers pretty closely… because it really is a way of life. I eat a high fiber cereal in the mornings with 1% milk, then usually an Amy’s Vegetarian Whole Meal for lunch, and dinner can range anywhere from a baked potato w/ greek yogurt & 2% cheddar or a big yummy salad with black beans & avocado. For snacks I like to stick with TLC’s oatmeal raisin cookies or corn tortilla chips.
My plans for today are pretty glorious! I’m going to head to the local coffee shop again to do some planning & work on my book and Ghost Ghirls. Then later on I’m going to get a 60 minute bike workout in along with a strength session. Tomorrow is my 21 mile long run, and Vero & Brandi will be joining me for the first 10 miles. I’m a little nervous about it since I missed last weekend’s long run due to being sick, but I’m sure I will be OK. While we are on the topic of exercise, I have to speak the praises of doing push-ups. I used to hate, hate, HATE doing them… and now that I can actually do about 40, I adore them! My upper body has changed so much just from that alone. So cool!!! Now, drop and give me 20!
We had a really wonderful evening last night at Vero’s Naked Art Gallery for the monthly 3rd Friday in Forest Park! Mostly because I discovered Sneaters… these freakin’ adorable little stuffed animals made from recycled sweaters by artist Colleen Casey of Atlanta. I now have one of my very own!!!! Maybe my Sneater can be the new mascot for The Jen West Quest! I’m thinking that’s a pretty fantastic plan…
Happy New Year!!!!!!!
New Year’s Eve was all I had hoped it would be – a nice semi-relaxed evening with my husband & friends! We had a few people over for a casual wine & cheese gathering from 7-9, then we headed off to Bottega for a nice dinner with a group of about 10 people. We were the only ones left in the restaurant at the stroke of midnight, which was really fun. We were all too tired to go dancing after that, so Mike and I went home and crashed. It was perfect!
As you will see from the photos, my hair style changed about three times over the course of the evening. I first attempted a very Snooky-like hairdo that one of my friends did not approve of at all. So, in the middle of the party at our house I let him redo my hair in front of everyone. He put my bangs back down for a very dramatic look. That was great and all until it started poking me in the eyes in the middle of dinner, so I redid it a third time while at the restaurant. Good times.
We had some AWESOME developments with Ghost Ghirls last night while talking over wine & cheese… and it’s going to be a pretty hysterical project. More to come on that very soon, it’s not going to disappoint. Looks like we will do our first webisode at the end of January.
2011 Quest #6: I resolve to blog everyday of 2011.
You are probably thinking… big deal, you already do this! Well, it is very important for me to continue with my blogging efforts because it has truly changed my life. I hope some of you out there consider starting one for yourself, it is a great way to have goal accountability and it also serves as a pretty awesome journal. It doesn’t matter if your writing skills aren’t what you’d like them to be or if you don’t know a whole lot about how a blog works. You will learn and get better as time goes by. My blog started out very different from the way it is now, it was very grassroots and I could barely figure out how to make a post. Give it a shot… you might just surprise yourself!
2010 Flashback #6: Starting The Jen West Quest.
When my husband Mike suggested that I post a weekly photo of myself in a bikini on the internet for the world to see as a way to lose weight, I thought he was nuts. It ended up being a genius idea though and made my weight-loss experience very unique. It also helped me accept myself the way I was, even before one pound was even shed. Looking back on that first post makes me smile, because I had no idea then what an impact it was going to have on my daily life. I am now a blogger, and I LOVE IT.