Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sexy Unicorn's story continues in 14 photos

In April 2013 I told about my first year of "Sexy Unicorn" using 16 photos. The post ended with my finishing the half marathon (just barely I had an incredibly high fever that sucked the life force out of me, but I did it). My story didn't end there and so much of it is no longer focused around weight loss but on taking risks, exploring, nurturing my strengths, and accepting (but always challenging) my short comings. I keep saying it and I mean it: Comfort Zones aren't set for life. Challenge them.

Strength. For a while this past year I worked with personal trainer Kevin Purvis. I loved working with the ropes and reminding myself just how strong I am. Also, Kevin let me throw heavy objects around... Always a favorite activity of mine. No matter what happens I cannot let myself ever forget again just how physically and mentally strong I am.

I was terrified to perform with one of my favorite guys Greg Shapiro. I used to work at a comedy club he performed at (Boom Chicago) and would watch from the balcony too scared to even try and perform myself. However, when asked to do the show I sucked it up and agreed to do it. I have no regrets about it and have to remind myself to play it cool whenever I get recognized from it. And the only person who thought I shouldn't be allowed to perform in the same show as someone I respect was me. I can perform with anybody.

I helped plant the Andersonville location for Urban Village Church, and used to be a name tag dictator by heading up hospitality and greeting. On Memorial Day weekend I got to serve my church in a way I had long desired to, I co-preached with my dear friend Matt Richards. Now my church knows all about my youth spent going on architecture tours, my vulnerabilities, and my take on the Christian life. Also, I will end a sermon by playing the music of Swedish pop star Robyn.

Hula Hooping!!! I have always wanted to do it, but never seemed to have the body for it. What a blast to be able to hula hoop around my newly found hips.

Yes, I woke up at 3am and realized I wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep. So, what else could I do but bike to Indiana to see the sunrise and still make it back for work at 9:30? So, that's what I did.

I kinda zone out on my bike and on one day when I was meaning to have a quick ride, it turned into 140 mile adventure. I only realized I had gone long past my original goal when I saw signs for Kenosha and thought, "yes, but Kenosha is in Wisconsin.... Oh..."

Trying to blend being a fabulously grown up woman with my inherent Tom Boyness sometimes is awkward. However, it's 100% me.

Biking from Urbana Illinois back up to Chicago with Lily (the girl who sold me my the bike that would change my life) was quite the adventure. Ending up in the middle of no where in a real biker bar hang out and being unconditionally welcomed. Reminder that even if on sight you don't belong it doesn't mean people won't welcome you in with open arms.

The extender belt. I stole this from an airplane 10 years ago on a flight to London. In September I had my first flight since losing over 100 lbs. I was a bit panicked... What if I still don't fit in the seats?!!!! I went back and forth about whether to take my security blanket of an extender belt and last minute opted to leave it. I was fine. I fit! Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look the same, nothing has really changed and than I sat in an airplane seat with some extra left over on my seat belt and I knew things had changed.

I ran a marathon! No that's not right. I RAN A MARATHON!!!! That's better. I finished it too. A month before hand I pulled my glute and could barely stand or walk. I ended up doing my last month of training all by bicycle and yoga. And some how I pulled it off. I finished a marathon and it was wonderful, so much love from the city I love. Accomplishing the goal that had set all my life changes in motion.

Yes, confident enough in myself to perform in a gold skin tight jump suit.

Random decision to attend a Computrainer race (specifically because I was promised free beer) with Lily has now lead to me joining a new cycling team BFF Racing. I am so excited to have teammates and competition again.

Posted this photo as a joke because this dress always emphasizes my "line backer shoulders" Then I really looked at the photo and thought for the 1st time: ya know Carol I wouldn't automatically see a "big girl" or a "fat chick" if I saw you. So, why do you still automatically assume that's what others see?
Really time to start looking in the mirror differently.

I have had an on and off again relationship with yoga. When I first attempted it my stomach was so big I couldn't even do resting poses. My body hurt and ached all the time but I did nothing to fix it because doing something would remind me how far I had to go. I still have a long way to go with all my goals, but now when I focus on my body and health it is also a nice reminder of just how far I have come.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cycling for Girls

Around 90% of girls ride bicycles. The numbers are drastically lower for women with only about 30% of women reporting having ridden a bicycle with any regularity in the past 10 years. We need to get girls riding their bikes, and to continue to ride their bikes in to adulthood. A bicycle provides girls with a tool to adventure and independence. Also, we have seen the adverse affects of a stationary lifestyle; and a bicycle is a great way to off set this current trend. I will be riding from Austin,Texas to Miami Florida in February and March. Along the way I will be working with Girl Scout troops where they can earn a special cycling badge. I didn't want to have to ask for help with funding this journey but finances change and people keep asking if they can help. So, here it is. A small little donation button and any little bit can help. I need to order the badges this week and that'll cost a couple hundred dollars alone. This is an exciting journey in which I hope to engage with girls and get them out riding or inspired to take some action in the safety of the riders in their town. When I say my bicycle saved my life I am not joking. I had lost control of my life and was unhappy and unable to see a way to turn things around. Those long slow bike rides gave me my first opportunities to truly decompress, to explore my beautiful city, and to get in exercise without even realizing it. The bicycle is a beautiful machine. One that isn't exclusive to any gender, income group, or age. So, even if you can't go ride a bike for a while (most of you have bigger commitments than I do) than maybe you can join in this adventure with a small donation. I love you all and truly appreciate all your support and encouragement.