Wednesday, March 6, 2013


There are only 45 more days until the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. As of today, I have officially been training for 32 days. I am worried that I am not doing enough or running enough in order to be ready for the race. I just read this yesterday, on the Salt Lake City Marathon website:

"we ask that our runners maintain a maximum 13 minute 45 second per mile pace. The finishing time at this pace is 3 hours. Should you fall below this pace, you may be asked to continue the run on the sidewalk adjacent to our course."

OMG! What if I am the guy they move to sidewalk. I think this is my worst fear. 

I have been religiously following a training schedule. Only running when I am supposed to. And running the distance that I need to run each day. I need to have faith that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. 

I've been letting myself get easily discouraged though. Especially when I see other runners outside or at the gym. I instantly start comparing myself to them, thinking they are somehow better. I do not have a runners body. I do not have long runners legs. I am not lean like a runner. And I don't have the endurance of a marathon runner. Therefore, I think, I am not a runner.

Yet... on the other hand... I found out the hard way what "Jogger's Nipples" are. I have also learned that while short running-shorts are comfortable and look sexy, chaffing inner thighs are no fun. (Has anyone ever used "Body Glide"?)  I've had 4 blisters from trying to break in new shoes. My shins are so tender that even wearing pants can send me through the roof. And I hear that black toe nails are a badge of honor for runners, so I am looking forward to that ailment surfacing soon. So let's question the thought, "I am not a runner!" Is it true? Hell no! If I get to suffer like a runner, then by damn I get to call myself a runner!

In the coarse of only 4 1/2 weeks, I have tripled the distance that I used to be able to run. Which will now need to double in order for me to make it through a half marathon. But I know I can do it. This is the first time that I have ever, in my entire life, trained for anything athletic. My brother was the son who played all the sports. I was the son that enjoyed the quieter things in life, like painting and drawing.... and NOT running. I have opened myself up to a completely new side of life that I have never experienced. And it feels pretty damn amazing. This blog entry is my reminder to stop self doubting and remember...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pain is Temporary, Quitting is Forever

Last April, I went for a run outside. I only expected to run to the park which was just down the street. Possibly jog around the park once or twice and then head back home. I had forgotten that particular Saturday was the day of the Salt Lake City Marathon. My first thought was if I should even run on the street. I certainly didn't want to be in anyone's way. If I kept to the side, I figured it would be okay. As I ran down the street, I began passing the marathoners left and right. On lookers on either side of the street were even cheering me on. Granted the marathoners had already been running for several miles and they were more than likely pacing themselves. I felt a huge rush by being able to easily pass each one of these seasoned athletes! It is silly of me to have thought that I was actually "winning" them. I look back and feel pretty lame for even running on the same street. However, the experience pushed me to run further than I ever had before. When I mentioned this story to other people , I also said, "Maybe I will actually run as a participant in next years marathon?" This experience also inspired me to run my first half marathon.

Today, I have officially been training for the Salt Lake Half Marathon for almost five weeks. And more than just training my body for this race, my mind has gone through a rigorous training course of it's own. I had no idea that there was so much to the sport of running. There are so many do's and don't s. Do push yourself, but don't over do it. Keep your heart rate up, but don't let it get to high or you will poop out. Warm up before your run but don't stretch before your run. Get your weekly runs in but don't for get to cross train too. Eat this not that. Sleep exactly 7 hours, plus an extra minute for every mile you run that week. Tie your shoes tight at the top but loose at the bottom. Run on even numbered days unless its a Tuesday or Thursday, and only if the sun is out, and birds are flying in a South-Western direction and only if you are wearing red shoes.... or something like that.

Then there are the lessons I am teaching myself through this process. In the beginning of my training, I would beat my self up for not being able to run faster than my last run. Or I would discourage myself if I saw someone else at the gym running harder, faster or longer. I would curse at the runners who dared run outside at 10 o'clock at night in less than 30 degree weather. My belief was that MY best would never be good enough. I tried convincing myself that I was NOT a runner. Thank god I never once gave up. And I won't. This has become to important for me. I realized that I am already faster than the fat bastard still sitting on the couch. I may not be the best or the fastest.....yet. And as long as I continue to run, I can call myself a RUNNER! 

I've wanted to start writing and blogging again. Mostly so I can document this experience. (It's been over 625 days since my last blog, yikes!) Somehow I got it into my head that I couldn't start blogging until I had a Mantra. I needed a theme to inspire me to continue through this exciting new chapter of my life. For the past 2-3 weeks I have been reflecting on all the things that matter most to me. Who or what are the things that are going to be able to push me through and keep me on track! A few words came to mind. The "Present", ""Potential", and "Maximize". "Maximize my Present Potential". ehh, doesn't really have a good flow to it... And then, just the other night, while watching Biggest Loser. I heard it. A Mantra that felt just right for me. Gina, one of the Biggest Loser contestants, while competing in a challenge, began whispering something to her self. You couldn't really hear her, so there were subtitles to show what she was saying.

 I love this mantra. "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever". (originally from Lance Armstrong). This Mantra has already begun working for me. I've been able to push through those last, tough, strenuous 10 minutes of my runs. I've continued my run even when the aches and pains increase and consume my mind. And most of all, I continue to remind myself that this is the first time in my entire life that I have ever attempted to train for anything. I am not going to quit. I know that I will be in 7th-heaven after completing my first half marathon. Reaching a personal goal has never been this important. So here is to the many many more miles to go and hopefully many many more blogs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Following the Heart

What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do? 

I have watched my loved ones die. I have had my heart broken a dozen times. And I took a Bikram Yoga class for eight consecutive days in a row. Yet nothing has been as hard as trying to follow my own heart. In my last post I said I would try as hard as I could to allow my head to rest and to listen to my heart just a little more for the sake of finding more time to do the things I really want to do. Well, trying to tell my head to chill-out has been as hard as telling a cranky three year old its nap time.

In the process of letting the head go and following my heart I have learned these three things so far:
 1. The Heart doesn't lie. And the Head can be a back stabbing son of a bitch! 
 How often do we allow ourselves to let our minds wonder and create stories about false realities. I do this all the time. We all do. We are human and we are supposed to. But there comes a time when you really need to put the mind in its place. Everyday, I tell myself I should loose weight, I should get botox, I should have a cleaner house. Man, I really let my head have a way with me that brings nothing but disappointment, hurt and heartache. Several years ago I had an amazing experience and awakening. I met a wonderful person named Byron Katie. She teaches what she calls, "the Work". The Work is a is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the fear and suffering in the world. Experience the happiness of undoing those thoughts through The Work, and allow your mind to return to its true, awakened, peaceful, creative nature.

 2. The Head will tell you what you should DO. And the Heart tries to tell you what you should BE!
   Basically, I feel myself really wanting to get out of my head and into the world. There is progress. Be it ever so slight. However, this is extremely hard for me not to try to plan every second of the day. I'm a planner! Literally, this is what I do for work. And I am damn good at it too.

 3. The Head loves to repeat the same things. And the Heart lives for adventure and excitement. 

This last weekend, Jason and I went out with the friends to a bar after a dinner party. I had to give my head two hours notice that we were going to the bar and that we should let go and have fun. It is a total process for me to do this. Even at the bar, I allowed myself a half hour to get into the groove before I started to feel myself relaxing and enjoying the moment. It was only a matter of time before my head started telling me that we should be prepared to leave in 20 minutes so that we could get good rest before having to wake up at 8:00 am to meet Jason's family for breakfast. I know there is a difference between being responsible and being to uptight. I think I am still learning the difference.

The following are a few ideas I've come up with that will hopefully close the door to my mind and let my heart come out and play:
  1. I will allow my friends to make more plans for hanging out with little or no input from me. I will try to go with the flow a bit more.
  2. Jason and I just booked our summer vacation to Kauai. Now that the airfare, hotel and transportation have been taken care of, I will not plan anything else. No itineraries. No agendas. No to-do lists.
  3. Adventure Bowl! There is another great Blog out there called, "100 Days in Bed". Basically after a horrible year of death's, break ups and loosing a job, "Adventure Girl", decided it's time to live life to the fullest. One of Adventure Girl's best practices is her Adventure Bowl, 100 Days In Bed
. I will start my own Adventure! And I will share my ideas in the next post. I would love if anyone wanted to share any ideas for the adventure bowl in the comments below.
The quest continues to follow my heart... 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In the beginning... again...

I have been writing "Salt in the City" for over a year now. Sometimes frequently, sometimes sporadically. But always from the heart! I began my blog on April 9th 2010 by saying, "In the beginning, there was light"... and it seemed as though the entire last year has been about freeing myself from my own darkness and reveling in the light of others. A pretty good year! Today, I'd like to begin the next year of blogging with a new theme...

In the beginning... there was an idea! 

Much like these five blank canvases, I feel as if I have great potential for being creative and expressive. To be something greater than I am. And that's why this year has got to be about my time, my thoughts, my inspirations, and my passions. Compared to last years total of three paintings completed. This year is looking hopeful with two paintings finished and five more in the works.

What this all boils down to is this.....personal time management. And how I must completely suck at it! One the other hand, maybe its something that I excel at. I mean, I literally have every precious second of everyday planned. From the second I open my eyes in the morning I can calculate the time to get up, shower, iron and be to work. Where I can then gauge my work and determine how much time I will need to complete all tasks. After the work day, I most frequently block my time for Jason, the friends, or the occasional family get together. What I fail to consider within my own daily agenda is the time for me to relax, unwind, release, create and simply just be.

I have fallen into a ritual of tasks and activities that I continue to accomplish on a daily basis. Everyday the same. And while there is always a high level of achievement. There is seldom a sense of satisfaction of doing what I really want to do.

I have also caught myself starting huge tasks that don't allow me the "Me-Time". Taking an extended time to complete them. And thinking about the next big thing that "has to be done" before I complete the task I have already begun. Again, still not doing the things I want and feel like I need to do. I distract myself. For the last 7-8 weekends I have spent a majority of my time painting walls and floors, fixing closets, ripping up carpet, arranging and re-arranging furniture, blah blah blah! And I always tell myself,  "there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After we complete this task THEN we can relax and create". But I always stop myself from the things I want with additional ideas of "what has to be done next". I also think that if I complain about all the things I have to do to everyone, then I will get more help and sympathy. Sometimes it works. But mostly, I find that other people are doing what THEY think and want to do. My problems really shouldn't be theirs too.However, if you'd like to help, call me direct to schedule a time!

I think the secret is this... really listening to your heart. I know it is telling me what it wants. The head and thoughts are the hearts interrupter. I am challenging myself to listen a little harder to the heart. Thus, allowing my head to rest. Geez, it all sounds so nice saying it aloud. "Listen to my heart and allow my head to rest!" It's almost like a mini vacation. For the next week I will make every effort to relax the mind and allow my heart to lead... I invite anyone to post a comment about following their heart and how they find the time to do what they really want. The more insight the better.

Next blog, Heart: "Free at last, free at last, thank god I'm free at last". Head: "Zzzzz!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Painting, Wine, and Shoes

It finally happened. After 9 months I finally picked up a paintbrush! The result? Two paintings in two days. I've had a lot of inspiration lately... The first painting was inspired by my dear new friend Kristen in Australia. The gurl is a shoe-hoard! She recently cleaned out her car and found 8 pairs of shoes that she had completely forgotten about.

So a painting for a fabulous pair of shoes seemed appropriate for her. I called the painting, "A Pair Never to Wear". The painting has now made its way across the world to Melbourne, Australia. It is the furthest Andrew original to date. I'M INTERNATIONAL!!!!!

The second painting was inspired by my Boss Don. Don celebrated his birthday last week. I knew the painting would need to be truly original, elegant and fun. I was somewhat nervous about attempting to paint something for him and his house. His house is like a gallery already. Creating something to compete for wall space in his house was a challenge. Again, the result was picture perfect. Not only did Don love the painting, but he had it framed and hung within a day or two of receiving it. I was very flattered that he was so quick to find a home for the painting!

Next on the painting agenda... I have 6 paintings to crank out. Five of which I offered to the first five people that responded to a facebook post. And the paintings couldn't go to 5 more deserving and random friends. Melanie Hardman, a neighbor from the first house I lived in, someone I have know my entire life. Stefanie Peacock, my boy friend Jason's cousin. Rachel Sharwell, a friend I have worked with, several years ago and again currently. Kristen Johnson, a friend of a friend who has become a dear friend. And my brother, Larry, whom I haven't painted for since I was in High School. The 6th painting has been a long time coming. a life long friend has yet to receive an Andrew Benson original. I'm not sure why it has taken so long. Not the right time? Not the right ideas? Who knows. So... I am opening my mind to the universe for divine inspiration to create a work of art that will be both beautiful and also show the sincere love, devotion and appreciation I have for this friend...

Six paintings by the end of the month? possible? Here's hoping!

Monday, January 31, 2011

How Big is Your World?

There are over 7,081,572,900 people in this world. And every single individual on this planet shares at least one thing in common. It's an ability we all have. The ability to change or affect another person's destiny. At any random moment you could cross paths with someone that will forever change your life or theirs. Whether by chance or by fate, you are bound to have your life transformed because of the actions of another.

I am also a total believer in Synchronicity. Synchronicity is an occurrence of multiple events, not determined or planned before hand, and end up having a meaningful impact. For example, my bff Tiffany used to bug me to download a Game-app on my iphone. Took me awhile, but I finally downloaded Words with friends. Basically, Words with Friends is a scrabble game that can be played from a phone with anyone with the same application. The game also allows you to play randomly against an anonymous player. I guessed that the random person would be somewhat local, or at least within a 3,000 mile radius. Really I had no idea how far a player could be selected. A few months ago I started playing against, "Kit-B". I assumed "Kit-B" to be female and to live within the States. After a few games "Kit-B" started sending a few messages through our game.

Mostly, messages like, "Hey nice game!" or, "Hope you have a nice day!" Extremely polite gaming-conversation considering most of the messages sent from other players consisted of death threats or catchy phrases like, "Yo mama's so fat she's on both sides of the family!" or my favorite from "Juke1919", "eat dirt, turd bag!" Anyhow, "Kit-B" was a breath of fresh air and I could tell that she would probably be interested in furthering our "Words" relationship. I took it to the next level and asked where she was from. I was utterly shocked when I saw her reply.... AUSTRALIA! Forget about a 600,000lb. 747 gliding through the air. Or taking an organ and transplanting it into another person. How the hell is it possible for me to instantly play scrabble with someone on the other side of the planet? My world got a little smaller. On a daily basis I look forward to the next update from "Kit-B" a.k.a. Kristen B.. Seriously, the girl has me in stitches on a daily basis. Lately, our conversations have been about flying midgets, ex-boyfriends, and the dramas of eating and drinking less. There is also talk of meeting up in Vegas in June! My new "Words"-friend has become a permanent fixture in my life. Not only do I call my own mother everyday, but I now have to check in with my favorite Aussie. A day is not complete without a few messages exchanged.

So, how big is your world? Just how open and receptive are you to new friends?

My "Word" friend has reminded me how small the world can be. And how connected we really are. I think what the world needs now is a little, "Words with Friends".

Friday, November 19, 2010

Salt in the City back in the game!

I haven't posted in well over a month. I have a million excuses why I haven't posted. But the truth is I have been hitting the creative snooze button for way to long. Being able to be creative in any aspect does more than nourish my soul. It calms my mind. It lightens my spirit. And it is the best way for me to connect with those that I love.

So why haven't I posted, painted, written, or even sketched a doodle if I know this is what keeps me going? Depression?. Maybe. Lack of drive? Yeah, probably. No time. Most definitely. And a horrible excuse. Why wouldn't anyone make their passion a priority? Especially if they know that it fuels their fire.

Several weeks ago I was discussing with friends my lack of urgency in the creative realm and in the same breath I was complaining about feeling down and having no energy. DUH!!!! I wasn't feeding myself. I wasn't allowing myself to gorge on paint brushes and sketch pads.  

So for the next few posts I am changing "Salt in the City" to "Sketch in the City". Time to dust of the creative brain and showcase a few projects. These first few sketches are from the past summer and from two nights ago. Thanks for letting me share, like you had a choice!