Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Album Review: Mary J. Blige The London Sessions #TheLondonSessions #O2O


If you were of some kind of age in the '90s, then you are intimately familiar with that melodic and enchanting voice filled with so much heartache and pain that oozed soulful hip hop. Mary J. Blige personified that era perfectly as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. She remained true to her roots. To this day, her tracks Real Love and pretty much anything from What's the 411? is iconic, classic and music for now. 

When I was given the opportunity to review her album by One 2 One Network, I jumped at the chance. Are you kidding me? Mary J. Blige has once again confounded expectations and ventured into new musical territory by crossing the Atlantic to collaborate with some of this decade’s most celebrated UK musical talent – including Disclosure, Eg White, Emile Sandé, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, SAM ROMANS and Sam Smith – and recorded a new studio album, The London SessionsThis extraordinary new collection will be released December 2 on Capitol Records. 

With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Mary J Blige is a global superstar. And in ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base – responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums. I am among those fans. 



I have given the album a thorough listening a few times. I can't listen to the lyrics for some of those songs without feeling an overwhelming sense of melancholy, but the beats, the groove, her voice, all of those things combined get me going. Dancing to the beat, I find myself singing along. I can definitely foresee many of these tracks being remixed to play at clubs around the world. 

Off the bat, Therapy is a reminder of been there, done that in relationships where you hit the tipping point of where you need to leave because neither of you are doing anything about making the relationship better. However, it still hurts when you are gone. If you've ever suffered a broken heart from that kind of relationship, then you know what I'm talking about. That first song also reminded me of how her lyrics are always tough, but optimistic, too. They are like an internal dialog of feeling worthless, but then a reminder to pick yourself and keep going. That's why I like her music. Then there is Right Now, a groovy beat of self-empowerment, not taking the bad any longer. Finally, with Whole Damn Year there is reflection of a relationship gone bad, but then surviving the heartache. 

Overall, I enjoyed this album. I have it playing while sitting in traffic, singing along to her, because let's face it, she has a good voice and I can feel like I'm singing along with her. This  is quite a change from constantly singing Let it Go with my girls. Singing grown up music makes me feel more like an adult and helps the commute go faster. The album releases on December 2 and you can find it on iTunes : http://bit.ly/MJBLondon and  Amazon:  http://bit.ly/MJBLS or view some of the videos on her YouTube page


Online presence located here: 
* iTunes: http://bit.ly/MJBLondon
  
* Amazon: 
 http://bit.ly/MJBLS
 
*Official Mary J Blige Websitewww.maryjblige.com
Twitter @maryjblige
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/maryjblige  
* YouTube - http://bit.ly/MJBVIDEO   

Track Listing1. Therapy
2. Doubt
3. Not Loving You
4. When You're Gone
5. Right Now
6. My Loving
7.Long Hard Look
8. Whole Damn Year
9 .Nobody But You
10. Pick Me Up
11. Follow
12. Worth My Time

**** I participated in the Mary J Blige The London Sessions album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own. ****

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Party Shortcuts for the Busy Working Mom (Fashion, Hair, Makeup)

It is the holiday season, so I have quite a few events to attend: black tie, dressy denim, holiday festive, and a handful of cocktail soirees. I like getting dressed up and I LOVE socializing. I don’t have a whole lot of time, so I need to maximize it the best way possible. Here are three of my go-to’s for working women/moms. 

FASHION

Last week kicked off the party season for me, starting on Thursday with a charity cocktail mixer, attire is Birthday Denim. I put on a cocktail dress that I had on hand (purchased on EBAY AFTER renting it from Rent the Runway, because I loved it that much) and paired it with my Lucchese boots, because why not? I live in Texas and it actually worked out. On  Saturday, I attended a bonafide Ball—The Dallas Margarita Ball, where you can’t ever be overdressed. I’ve talked about Rent the Runway before, but I wanted to revisit it again, for those of you who may have recently had a need to rent a dress.
Rent the Runway is the premier online destination for access to your dream closet. With a revolving roster of over 200 top designers of the season's hottest dresses and accessories, Rent the Runway is designer fashion delivered to your doorstep for all of life's occasions for just a fraction of the price!
I don’t like is having to wear the same things over and over, nor do I want to spend a whole lot of time shopping, attempting to pair something that fits within my budget and looks right on me. This isn’t to say that I don’t have such pieces of clothing, because I do. However, I’d rather spend my money on my corporate everyday wear. RTR carries sizes 0 to 16, from daytime wear to black tie. You can also rent accessories or buy foundation garments from them.

I searched for a while for the dress that I wanted to wear to the ball. The more glam and  sparkle, the better. I’ve attended this event before and being in Dallas, there are no limits to what you will see. For me personally, I wanted something understated, which would accentuate my best features, and be comfortable enough to dance the night away. Chic and elegant are what I came up with and I felt these dresses would pair nicely with accessories I currently own.
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Halston Heritage and Robert Rodriguez for the win! Why two dresses? Well,  a gal likes to have a choice and when they arrived, I was gonna go with the one that felt the most comfortable. At the price point for rental, it was still CHEAPER than committing to a gown. I was gleefully happy until I received notification that both of my dress choices had been damaged beyond repair and they would not be available. UGH! Here is where I have to rave on the customer service of Rent the Runway! Rather than stopping with their condolences, they invited me to select my top 5 choices at any of their price points for my original rental price! WOW! WOW! WOW!
While they still had plenty of selection to choose from, there weren’t AS MANY choices as I would have wanted. I sent my my selections and these are the two that they sent me:
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Badgley Mischka and ML Monique Lhuillier for round two! These dresses may seem polar opposites to one another. One screams va-va-voom siren and the other states conservative charm. Both of these gowns satisfy the two sides of my Gemini nature. I was able to rent them at my original rental price, so the price is DEFINITELY right! When they arrived, the zipper on the black and white gown was damaged so badly that I couldn’t wear it. The red gown was shorter than I wanted it to be (who looks at feet anyway?). I contacted Customer Service immediately and they sent another gown out to me overnight. It was larger at the top and not very flattering, so I took my chances with the Badgley Mischka. I had a pair of black opera gloves I wanted to wear with it, but sadly, one glove is missing and I have a strange feeling it is mixed in somewhere in the dress up trunk of my darling girls. The shorter gown paid off, because I had to walk through rain and some puddles to get to my destination and didn’t have to worry about my dress dragging. Score!
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To make up for the lack of fit, they gave me a discount code off a future rental, which made me very happy. My next rental from them will likely be a sparkly cocktail dress. I’ve not yet settled on which one, so I won’t share here. I have about 6 in my queue that I’m considering. In any case, if you have a formal event (wedding), a cocktail party or you just want something nice to wear on a night out, then I would recommend Rent the Runway. Click my referral link to start browsing. I think you get 20% off the first time you rent! Yaaay!

HAIR

I have a LOT of hair. When I give myself a blow out, it is usually a two day process for it to look how I want it to look. I spend almost an hour blowing it out the night before, then will spend another half an hour the next day (after it has settled down) curling it or running a flat iron through it. If there is any modicum of humidity outside, my hair gets excited from the moisture and frizzes up. It isn’t a good look, not to mention, I’m angry for all of the time that was wasted in attempted to calm my mane. That isn’t to say I don’t love my hair because I do! I love, love, love, love my hair!

With that said, I go to The Drybar for blowouts. I have been going to them for several years now. What I love most about my visits to The Drybar is that no matter which location, there is consistency. The styles remain the same, they are very true to their branding, and it is a treat for me. My styles are never compromised with the humidity and will hold strong for about 4 days. My girls both know when I’ve gone for a blow-out not only because my hair looks awesome, but also because of how it smells…and it smells so good! Cost of a blowout is $40 + tip (they encourage $10). Case in point, my hair above was blown-out on Thursday before my Birthday Denim event and it held up until Sunday evening when I washed it. Here it is Sunday morning after I woke up from a night of dancing and walking in the rain.:

MAKE-UP 

I am a vaseline, eyeliner kind of gal. I own all of that other stuff, but I don’t use it regularly. I’m trying to get more into my mascara and lipsticks. As I get older, my moisturizers are key, but small beauty tricks can go a long way. Curling my lashes and brushing on a bit of mascara really opens my eyes. A complimentary lip color really works a dazzling smile, too!

I am very lucky to be related to the best make-up artist ever (in my opinion), but he lives in Southern California. While it is no big deal to hop onto a Hangout, he hasn’t yet figured out how to make product magically appear through the screen. So for me, when I need something immediately, I pop my head into Sephora and opt for a free 15 minute beauty tutorial consultation. There isn’t an obligation to buy, but often when I’m going in, I know I will be purchasing a product. If you are a noob like me, you will need someone to teach you how to best use what you purchased, and their artists know their stuff! Are you gonna spend more than $50? Then sign up for the total beauty make-over, complimentary with $50 or more purchase. It is for 45 minutes and they will work your whole face!

Recently, I went in and bought some new items that I’ve fallen in love with: Marc Jacobs Beauty Gel Crayon, Hourglass Femme Rouge Velvet Creme in Icon, and Make Up For Ever’s Blending Brush. I used to be a loyal Urban Decay gal when it came to my liners, but at the end of the day it still smeared and gave me the look of bruised eyes more often than not. I’ve been in search of a great red lip color and so far Hourglass has satisfied. It has no nasty fillers and doesn’t dry out my lips. And the blending brush because holy wow does it make a difference. I never knew. After my session, I had tips on how to make up my face for future events!
Tips that I learned from my quick beauty tutorial:
  1. Johnson and Johnsons baby wash will clean my brushes just as good as fancy brush cleaner, just be sure to lay the brush flat to dry.
  2. Urban Decay’s primer is key before applying make-up.
  3. Apply moisturizer, primer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, then concealer. <---I’ve been doing it wrong forever, no wonder I looked like a clown.
***************
So that’s it. Those are three things that have helped me. I realized that not all of these things will work for everyone. Budgets, time constraints, etc can get in the way. Rent the Runway is not a common thing that I use. Plus, I always try to find a discount code to apply before placing my order. I realize that there aren’t Drybars in every city. Most salons  can do blow-outs for less and odds are, they can give you what you are looking for. Sephora will actively encourage you to try their products without committing to purchasing. I would highly encourage you to do that before you invest in something that you probably won’t need. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

While I’m still sore from smiling and running…

I did it! I had the wildest and most amazing marathon retirement party ever! But first, let me start with this…

I didn’t make my goal time. I aimed for a 4:40 finish. I trained for it, even left some cushioning in my training for a 4:45 minute finish. I ran in temperatures over 100 degrees. I ran in wind. I ran in rain. I trained in the Texas summer heat. I cross trained through Camp Gladiator and followed Coach Sara’s plan each week. I tapered like I was supposed to. I sought chiropractic relief. I altered my hydration and diet, too. In my training, I gained back the confidence to run a 10mm pace for a half marathon. I had the confidence to run a 10:30-11mm pace WITH HILLS. I lost weight and shook off a large chunk of depression.

I didn’t make my goal time. My finish was 5:10:51, a full 11 minutes slower than 7 years ago for my other time of running this.

BUT…

I did it! This race was EVERYTHING I needed from a final race. It was brutal! Why? The conditions were low 40s with 20-30 mph winds. The winds were so high that they didn’t even allow the handcycles to start in Staten Island, cutting off the Verrazano Bridge entirely for them. I opted to walk that bridge, braving the masses, but staying on the side out of harms way, or so I thought. I was pelted with discarded gloves, water bottles, makeshift windbreakers from garbage bags, a race bib (!), a fuel belt, and sweat shirts. I fought against the wind to get this image:

See those white caps. See those clouds? Brrr…(my lungs started wheezing moments after snapping this. Inside I cursed them and said, Not today!)

And we fought through that wind, running against it for about 20 of those miles, and then we were faced with uphill, no sun, tired legs. Before that, though…

I caught those unicorns I’d been chasing for a while!

I sat in that huddle of people to stay warm before the race. Robin Hood, you guys continue to touch my soul!

I stood in my corral waiting for that BOOM of the cannon and Frank Sinatra to belt out “New York, New York” while we ran past.

I nervously chatted with a local gal, a gal from Atlanta, and 3 women from Argyle, Texas! Wow!

I humbly wore the discarded Dunkin Donuts fleece hat that I had to cut a hole out of the top so my hair would fit.

At mile 13 I took a selfie in the sun!

At mile 15.5 I knew I was still plenty strong.

At mile 19.5 I took another selfie in the sun.

My face hurt from smiling so much! I ran strong! I ran my race. I ran with so many strangers cheering me along the way. I ran while my loved ones cheered me on both in person and through social media. I ran for all of them and for myself. The race was what I needed. It was a metaphor, a true test of determination, strength, endurance, and will. I didn’t really hit a wall. My lungs did feel like they wanted to collapse at one point. I lost feeling of my 3rd toe on my left foot around mile 8. At mile 9-10, I ran alongside my Teej! I saw her and nearly knocked her down because I was so happy to see her. I cried and cried, and squeezed so tightly. She ran in the crowd next to me, and when she hit her street, she hollered “Go!” and I went. At mile 11, I saw my Beloved!! He’d landed and made it to me. At mile 13 I messaged my beautiful friend on bedrest, who was cheering me on, texting me messages of support along the way! I hopped on social media at mile 15-16. I saw a few more familiar faces and beautiful souls at mile 17-19! At mile 20, Robin Hood’s block party erupted in cheers when they saw my shirt! I felt like such a celebrity! I had a pinched nerve in my right shoulder starting at mile 21. But I kept right on pushing. I ran to the Asian drummers beat. I high fived one of the rappers who was performing. I high fived as many kids as I could along the way. I held hands with a gal who was running to honor her mother at mile 23---she’d died on October 28th from cancer. I hugged a Swiss guy whose legs were giving out. I was going so fast, I missed My Michael at mile 24, but I saw my Beloved again at mile 24.5.  I put my phone away after that and focused on finishing. I happily ran under the foliage of My park, Central Park. We emerged out of park a bit after 25 and I saw the GM building…Maverick! I’ve walked MANY times to Columbus Circle, time to pick up the pace! (Screw you, lungs, stop sucking air, we have a race to finish!) I spotted people to try to reach and pass and I did. When I hit mile 26, I shouted BRING IT! and took off at an accelerated pace for that last quarter mile. I passed so many people and felt so light. When I crossed, I didn’t cry in my photos. I just beamed with the biggest smile. That was it.

I did it! 5 hours, 10 minutes, and 51 seconds of happy…happy that isn’t artificial, genuine happiness from achievement and support from more than 200 people! All 200+ of you that know me directly who reached out….

THANK YOU, MERCI, GRACIAS, DOMO ARI GATO, DANKE, GAMSAHBNIDA, GRAZIE!!!

The lady who handed me my medal, she was an older woman, and I just stared at her, and asked her for a hug. And she hugged me tightly like my abuela, and told me that she was so proud of me! Thank you strange lady! Thank you for being proud of me and giving me such a hug! And then I sobbed. Big, fat, joyful tears of happiness and sense of accomplishment.

The trek to my room was a journey all by itself. But I got to see my Beloved again before he headed out to the airport. I was able to laugh and recover with My Michael and Gen at a tea place. I was able to talk about the journey with my running friends and hosts after they returned themselves. The next day, I was tight, but I walked around my park for a while capturing engagement photos (yes, I had an engagement photo shoot and it was amazing!!). I had some amazing food, I had a blowout, and then I came home.

I’m tight, but not overly sore. Only my toe is really hurting, but I feel fine. It was a great retirement and the perfect way to say goodbye to my final endurance run. And now, I pass on the torch to everyone else who is able to do so! I will cheer them on!

Coach Sara…you helped me earn every single bit of this race! THANK YOU! Coach Mark, our time so far has been brief, but you helped me, too! Running friends, thank you for pushing me, even when you didn’t know you were. Mom, thank you for throwing me in the deep end and telling me to swim. Daddy, thank you for never slowing down when we raced! Thank you NYC for showing up, like you always do. I know I can make it anywhere!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014 TCS NYC Marathon Miles Dedication

religion: a particular system of faith and worship

To me, running is a type of religion. Not because I’m worshipping the god of running, but because rather it is a system of faith and worship. I am wholly present in my mind, my acts intentional, my faith LOUD—within me.
So while I run, it should come as no surprise that I often find myself meditating, holding tightly onto mantras I chant to myself, I’ll pray the rosary, but where I find the absolute BEST peace is when I consider and pray for others. With that in mind, these are my miles dedications.

1. My mother – The first mile is the most exciting mile. It requires the highest climb, with the freshest legs, and the most enthusiasm that you will have to control to make it through the rest of the race. Wings to fly, legs to run…Mom, I remember all of the times you were in my peripheral vision, cheering me, championing me, willing me to strive to be the best I could possibly be. Hurt back, push through. Fall down, pick yourself and keep moving forward. Crying, wipe your tears and smile. This is a race of endurance and motherhood is such a race.

2. Sister – For all of my childhood, I chased you. Literally and figuratively, I chased you to become more like you. When you pushed me away, it hurt, but it taught me that I needed to be my own person—and whomever that was, you would be there to support me, regardless of my choice. This mile, is an easy mile, through a Brooklyn neighborhood that I know you would enjoy visiting.

3. Brother – Because there was a time not long ago that you didn’t think you could run a 5K, and just a short while ago, I turned around to find you, insisting that I NEEDED to cross that line with you. Not because I didn’t think you could do it, but because I wanted to grin from ear to ear and witness you crossing! All of those times you cheered for me and watched me succeed, I needed to be there for a big moment for you. This mile, we run together, not racing, just running on a cool morning while the sun kisses our cheeks. Turn up that Milky Chance Stolen Dance and let’s find our groove.

4.  Tesla – You will be 4 next year, even though you want to say you are 4 this year. You were the 4th member of my family. Your tiny spirit brings so much joy to everyone who meets you. You are so unabashedly stubborn and are so completely focused on your goals , it is something that I try to remember for myself.Baby, Mommy loves you and can’t wait for you to see the new medal to add to the collection!

5. My Brooklyn Beauties – Gen, Mali, Teej, I’ll be looking for you. Each of you inspire me in so very many different ways. All of you are so very strong, both emotionally and physically, I’m running your burough’s streets!

6.  Marisabelle – For you I learned what it meant to be a mother. Because of you, I try my hardest to be the very best mother you need me to be. You show me grace, you show me patience, you have given the the opportunity of wonder…and when I feel like my legs are heavy, I’ll remember your little voice, goading me: “Let’s race, Mommy! I can be fast like you!” Yes, baby, you compliment me by saying you are fast like me. You are already faster than me—and I love it!

7. Internet Friends – I was afforded in real life friendships with you and am able to maintain our friendship online. This means you Camille from Twitter, who shares a similar humor as I do. This also means you Makita, who has a beautiful and vulnerable strength I’ve not seen before—because of you, I am stronger in my actions and more purposeful.

8. For Diego, Kittens, & Unicorns – Diego went on a few of my early training runs with me, fumbling through each step until we figured it out. Your time with us was brief, but your tender spirit lives on. Kittens because well, I’m not allergic to them yet and they are so soft and adorable, and just want to curl up to be loved. Unicorns because they are fabulous and awesome!

9. For my Primo, Simon – Nine rhymes with wine and well, I know you love it! Simon, your wit, your but gusting laughter, and the wine….oh so much wine! I know if you were in town, you’d be cheering for me, throwing water balloons filled with some kind of libation at me, singing Fuego fuego…

10. My Min-Min – You’ve not questioned my sanity for wanting to do this. Instead, you’ve reached out to me to be sure we remain connected in spite of me running all of the miles all of the time. Whether you are there waiting for me at the end of the race with jello shots ready to share a hearty carb-load meal, you are there for me. Even now, I know you will be shouting from where ever you are enjoying Sunday Funday.

11. Margie – Adelante y orgullo: I only barely understood the definition of those words when I first chewed on them. Now, I understand them more. I can’t hardly get the words out to write more because the emotion just flows straight from my heart and out of my eyes. Happy tears of joy and gratitude. I’m so, so, so grateful for you!! I give thanks for your life, for your willingness to fight and continue to fight, every day.

12. Shannon – What a pleasure it was to find you at mile 12 during the Plano Balloon Festival Half. I was struggling, but with you, I was able to push through that final mile. Your exercise posts keep me accountable and remind me to not lazy around.

13. My Happy Half Marathoners – Each of you, declaring publicly which races you would run and peer pressure would kick in and I’d sign up. Mostly to ensure I’d hit my training run milestones, but even more so to be with you all. I didn’t and don’t want to miss any time I get with y’all. For the laughs, the grunts, the aches, the tears, the hugs, the encouraging words, the hilarity of so many things…thank you Dina, Meighan, Alison, Gail, Bonnie, and Danika. A great big heartfelt and SHOUTING dedication to Coach Sara, who has pushed me all along the way, encouraged me, and come up with creative solutions for any obstacle I threw at her!

14. Dan – I had no idea how much my life would change just by meeting you. My heart is more open, my eyes more open, my spirit willing to experience almost anything, entering the adventure with joy and enthusiasm. Just the way you live is a great example of how I want to live. I’m so glad you are not only my friend, but a mentor as well.

15. My extended family – I’m grateful for all of the strong aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, in-laws. Each of you have sent me words of encouragement! They mean so much to me. I consider the women in my life and how life will throw them a curve, and they just shrug their shoulders and deal. it’s how they are. When my Uncle Mutt gave me the biggest hug after a run and how he looked at me, I felt his pride and I was humbled. He reminded me of my previous life as an athlete in college and I remembered that she was still inside of me. My Aunt Frances cheering me on, giving me support, too! Thank you!

16. My Primo Phillip – Because this was the number of miles we walked that day in August while we cheered Don on. If I could have that much fun walking 16 miles in one of my most favorite cities, then I know I could run another 10 as long as I remembered the adventure we shared. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing that day with me!

17. Carol – Your presence helped my training become possible. Otherwise, it would’ve been a greater challenge attempting to push the girls and log my miles. Your life changed dramatically at 17 and since then, you’ve persevered and thrived. I hope you see it that way because so many admire you, as I do. Thank you for all you did and all you do!

18. My Einstein’s Crew – Especially the Saturday morning gals! Renee for the distractions and laughter and Marisa for that last quarter mile sprint to finish strong! Fist bump!

19. My Inner Circle – You all know who you are. We may not see one another often. Sometimes it is in the parking log of a Dry Cleaner, on the phone on my way to the doctor office, for a quick bite to eat, when our kiddos play dress up, when I watch your daughter play volleyball, when we paint together, when we go camping, when we go cruising, when we meet for wine night, when we celebrate our kid’s birthdays…regardless, you are my family. For the big moments, you all are there! This one is for you!

20. Nina Dani – You never let a little thing like sleep or asthma or money get in the way of a good time. You are so giving and humble, for those traits and so many others, we chose you to be our daughter’s godmother. For believing in me, and telling me to shake off the haters.

21. My Beloved – You arrive at noon and will race to find me at some point along the way. Each training race, you have helped me recover by allowing for some quiet rest. During our training runs. you run ahead of me, letting me chase you, forcing me to be better. You believe in my dreams and champion me. You push me to find amazing and are there right by my side when I discover it. Thank you for this adventure!

22. My Michael – New York!! You are there now and it is near this mile you will find me. I love you and I can’t wait to see your face and laugh. I know there will be a great many more trips out to see you in the future, too! I already love the memories we’ve created there, so far.

23. Ada – Because Bianca Fight Never Dies, because running is stupid and why would any one want to do something like that outside when you can be crushing balls in the air conditioning, because people are idiot drivers who merge in the fast lane only to go slower than the speed limit, because of Whataburger taquitos, because of acorns on the ground, because “I’m like a bird,” because of cherries, because of tears of joy and tears of ache, because I am whole all over again when you hug me. This one is for you!

24. Lindsey – My Bish, my friend, even though you think I’ve lost my mind in doing this, you know that it was gone a longer time before that! I may be doing a type of zombie-like run at this point. I will endeavor to champion my inner zombie, made evident by your crew.

25. My Mavericks – Their financial and emotional support has been overwhelming and, as always, humbling. I have raised nearly $7,000 (and counting) for Robin Hood, largely because of their support. Amazing! When I turn the corner by the NY office, I will smile proudly and fondly knowing so many of my colleagues are cheering me on!

26. Daddy – The race is won by running. I will not give up. In the thundering echoes of the roaring crowd, I will hear your voice. I will keep going and know that THIS race…Life, I don’t give up. Even when I feel down, I am a VALENCIANO, I lift my chin, I look it square in the eye and say, “Bring it!”

.2. Me…that last quarter mile is for me. A celebration of what I’ve achieved and a moment of definition, of closure, and gleeful gratitude to my body. Thank you self, for this. You had many doubts if you could do it, but still you managed to get there.

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