For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 20 of 30. I missed day 19. Poor day 19. There’s a hole in my heart where day 19 should have been.

Y’all read the post from the other day and watched the video, right? Because if you didn’t, the rest of today’s post isn’t going to make much sense, so you should go do that right now.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Really, it won’t take long.

Okay, ready now?

For your further entertainment, a lollipop moment of my own.

The One With The Essay

Let me set the scene: I was in 8th grade, a good student who brown-nosed through school, and in an English class with a teacher who refused to recognize my greatness. I spent most of the year in shock — how could a teacher not like me? No teacher EVER hadn’t like me before! Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t hate me, didn’t yell at me or anything like that … she just wasn’t as over-the-moon happy about every single piece of work that I turned in. The brown-noser in me didn’t like this, not one bit.

And then one day, she gave out The Assignment That Would Change My Life. By this time in the year, I had stopped trying so hard, feeling somewhat beaten down. I learned to show how much I didn’t care in that incredibly subtle, teenager-y way that kids do with the rolled eyes and snarky comments and such. But that was until The Assignment.

The Assignment was to write a descriptive essay based on a picture that we cut out of a magazine. I know — it seems pretty tame as an adult, but as a kid — a kid who just received a thesaurus for Christmas two weeks prior — it was my deliverance in 500 words or less. I rushed home, stole my Mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine, grabbed the scissors, my thesaurus and a glue stick and went to work.

After a few hours of arduous work, my masterpiece was finally complete. I changed pictures 3 times and rewrote it 5 times (and by “rewrote” I mean re-copy since these were the days before computers and I wanted a copy that had no scratch outs on it). I had used so many synonyms that my thesaurus was worn out. The essay was absolutely perfect.

I turned it in and then spent the next 6 days bouncing in between thinking that this was totally going to get me in good with my teacher and thinking that she was going to hate it and crush me. Or worse — she would give me another B+, tell me it was good and I would know for sure that nothing I did would differentiate myself from my peers.

And then, finally, I got it back. I looked at the front; no red marks other than a few checkmarks noting passages she liked. The grade was on the back. I could feel my heart start pounding in my chest as I slowly grabbed the corner of the paper and turned it over, closing my eyes as I did so. The paper settled into place on my desk and I opened one eye into a squint:

“Laura, really good work. You’ve surprised me and you have a lot of potential as a writer if that’s something you want to do. A.”

I opened up b4350431493_390dff81ec_zoth eyes and read it again. What? She liked it?

She liked it. And thought I had potential. Potential that I had never even considered.

And here I am. Not writing professionally, but always keeping at it in other ways. Every once in awhile, I’ll pull out those two sentences from the back of my mind, roll them around, recreate that feeling of wonder when I first read them.

Savor the idea that someone who probably didn’t even realize it, kept me writing. I never did tell her about the effect she had on me. As life goes when you’re in 8th grade, other things happen, time moves fast and ideas of gratitude slip away if they were ever even recognized to begin with. But she made a difference in my life. Changed it for the better. Helped me become who I am today and for her it was probably nothing more than a remark on the back of a descriptive essay.

Funny how that works.

 


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 18 of 30.

 

I’ve got a headache, so I’m taking the easy way out. Here’s one of my very favorite TEDtalks. Every time I watch or listen to it, I am reminded how every single one of us has an impact in so many different ways that we’re not even aware. It’s amazing what a kind word or a moment of attention can do, even when it might seem utterly insignificant to you. What are some of your lollipop moments?


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 17 of 30.

 

Some of the things that I’ve learned over the past year or so in regards to eating:

  1. Hunger is not an emergency. A comparison that I read recently is that it’s akin to feeling tired. Yes, when I start getting tired at night it’s time to start moving towards going to bed, but it’s not like I’m going to pass out in the middle of the kitchen if I don’t do something about it NOW (well, usually not…). Same thing with hunger — it might feel like an immediate need, but sitting with the feeling for 30 to 60 minutes is a good way to check whether or not it’s hunger or something else that’s signaling your brain to stuff your piehole.
  2. Just because it’s mealtime doesn’t mean it’s time to eat. Now, I know that there are many instances where mealtime isn’t all that negotiable — for example, during the week, I eat lunch at 11:30am. Every day. Never changes. Partially because of the schedule of other people eating in the lunchroom, partially because that’s when my group eats lunch and I don’t want to miss the social aspect of it. But other than that? Just because it’s 5:30pm doesn’t mean I have to eat dinner if I’m not hungry. Same with breakfast. Once I realized that my stomach didn’t always run on the same schedule that I had in mind, I started eating more in response to hunger cues than just because it “was time.”
  3. Eating slowly and mindfully = eating less food. How often do you sit in front of the TV and eat? Or eat standing up in the kitchen shoveling in your food? Never? Well, than you live in some sort of fantasy world and I’d appreciate an invitation, please. I do both of those things, though. Oh, and eating while reading. Do that all the time, too. And what happens when you are distracted like that? You eat fast, which doesn’t give your stomach time to get the “I’M FULL STOP FEEDING ME, STUPID!” signal to your brain. And you eat more than you intended because even if your stomach sends that signal, it doesn’t mean you notice it. It’s like driving while talking on the phone — all of a sudden you end up somewhere with no idea how you got there. Except that with food you’ve got crumbs on your shirt and hamburger grease on your face with no idea how it happened.330px-In-N-Out_Burger_cheeseburgers
  4. Eating fewer meals might be a good idea. This one I’m testing out but I think it’s a keeper. There are studies that show that the idea of eating every couple of hours to keep your metabolism stoked isn’t necessarily true — science doesn’t support it. So why go back to 3 meals a day? A few reasons: first, you eat more at each meal and are likely to feel more satiated when you finish and second, eating fewer meals allows you to get hungry in between meals which then allows you to use hunger cues more effectively. When you get hungry, you’ll have the time to wait about an hour to make sure that it’s hunger and not boredom or stress or the delicious smell of your cubicle mate’s snack that makes you think you need to eat (and note that if your cube mate oftentimes eats delicious things in front of you, it wouldn’t be bad form to “accidentally” throw a stapler at him).

That’s where I’m at these days. As always, it’s a work in progress as I tweak details to create a lifestyle where I can eat what I want and still maintain a healthy weight. As I’ve said before, I don’t ever want foods to be off limits — there are no “good” or “bad” foods, it’s all just food — and I never want to feel like I have to restrict because restriction never leads to anything good for me. Well, not unless you consider binging on Oreos or ice cream to be a good thing.

What are some lessons that you’ve learned to help you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full?

 

 


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 16 of 30.

 

It’s been a busy Saturday, and I’ve been thinking on what to post and haven’t really come up with anything motivating or enlightening or even mildly entertaining. There are days like this, you know? I’ve had a good day, ticked several things off my task list, but it’s just a normal, run-of-the-mill Saturday.

Woke up lazily — what a luxury! — Belle going into a full stretch beside me, both of us deciding that it was time to start the day. I bundled up and Belle and I went outside for a quick walk, which is her choice, not mine, necessarily.

Then I did some work and play on the computer for about an hour to wake up my brain since my body was already up. By a little before 9am, I was ready to start moving. Put on my magic carpet ride capris and headed downstairs to the treadmill. The treadmill computer’s workout of the day was a 1.57 mile run around a lake in Slovenia — it wasn’t the mileage I wanted, but I find it so hard to pass up these one-time random courses that come up.

So, I ran with it (heh… I’m punny) and decided to make the workout interesting by abandoning my now tried-and-true run/walk intervals for a straight run. Slow and steady wins the race. Or finishes the rather short lake path. One or the other. But – I did it – no walking involved. Four years ago I would have laughed at this being a big thing for me, but now? I recognize the work that it’s taken me to get to this point. It might not be fast, it might not look pretty, but it’s progress.

After sweating out buckets, I cleaned up and had a little more time, so I dove into the second chapter of Daring Greatly, which is part of next week’s assignment. With Brene’s words bouncing around my brain, I took Belle out for another walk and then fed her. And with that, I was out the door.

Put some much-needed gas in the car and then got a much-more-needed car wash. My pretty black car was white with salt and grit and while it’s still not clean, it at least doesn’t have an all-around crusty coating that seems to get on every piece of clothing I wear. It’s kind of like bike grease in that way; I can’t get near it without it coming off on me.

And now I’m ready to run my errands. A stop at the grocery store to get food for the week, one of those things that I’d rather not do, but I have to anyway. Then a quick checkup at the doctors — another thing I’d rather not do but it goes quickly and without drama. And then I’m on my way home. Turn on the oven and pop a container of pasta in for dinner. Walk Belle. Feed Belle. Read some more, turn on the TV to have the football game on in the background and then start this blog post. See? Nothing too interesting to say, right?

But it’s all about hustle — the ordinary hustle of an ordinary day. I could have done nothing but sit on my butt all day. I could have opted to stay in bed. I didn’t need to adult today. But hustle, I did.

I got this little pocket stone to remind me of my word for the year. It knocks around next to my Fitbit, reminding me where my focus should be. It reminds me that I’m happier when I’m productive. Reminds me that sweat not only makes my skin glow, it makes my soul glow. That overcoming inertia is worth it in so many little and big ways.

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If you are interested in your own pocket stone or other motivational stuff, I bought this at Soul Mantras. I love what I got and many things in her store look amazing, but I don’t know her and I don’t get any kickback from you buying something. This is just a thumbs up from a happy customer.


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 15 of 30.

 

So, I got a late Christmas gift in the mail. Later even than you think, since my initial order was placed about a year and a half ago. I’m a big fan of Kickstarter products — there’s something about investing in something that doesn’t exist yet — I feel like I’m helping someone who’s got an idea that they want to get out into the world — and my gift was a long-awaited Kickstarter investment.

And what did I get? Fancy pants.

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Go see them in action. No, I’m not inviting you to come watch me work out… I don’t think I could take the catcalling. Or the heckling. Just go to the website.

For those who didn’t take my suggestion and go to the website, here’s the Cliffnotes version of the pants — they’re pants with a brain that connects to your phone. There are sensors in the shorts which record which muscles are firing, allowing you to analyze everything from form to workout difficulty.

[tangent: do kids these days even know what “Cliffnotes” are? I imagine Da Interwebz have made Cliffnotes obsolete, right?]

It’s amazing doing squats and deadlifts and see exactly what muscles are firing, how in balance (or imbalanced!) I am and exactly how hard I’m working. Pretty cool stuff, eh? The downside? My trainer can tell when I’m lying to her when I say, “Nope, no more weight – I couldn’t push another pound…”.

I first received them in the late summer, but a few rounds of exchanging for the right size ate up a few months (my problem, not theirs) and the shorts are now an after-Christmas present. And I couldn’t imagine anything more fun! I’ve always enjoyed working legs — I’m weird like that — but now I absolutely can’t wait.

Of course, after my workout today, I might not be doing anything for a few days. Ouch.


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 14 of 30.

 

The Oatmeal is one of my very favorite cartoonists and apparently lives in my head, or maybe he used to and then moved on to greener pastures (Come back, Oatmeal! Come back!), but his comic (shown below) is how I used to feel about running, wholeheartedly and without reservation.

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Click on it and go see it in its full glory (plus you can’t see it all in this screen shot, which I did on purpose). I’m not out to just use his awesome drawings and not give him credit. 

These days, it isn’t quite like the heavens opening and angel choirs singing when I get out there, but just today on the treadmill I had this thought: I’m starting to get the old feeling back. I’m not totally there yet — not running fast, not even running continuously — but I there’s progress. That elusive spark comes around every now and again.

You know what all the really smart people say: “It’s about progress, not perfection.”

And I like feeling like I hang with smart people, so I’m all for it.

So, onward I go. This week was 3 runs for 11 miles and so far I’ve got 2 runs and just under 7 miles done. A longer run on Saturday, for sure, and maybe just an itty bitty run on Friday. I’ve got this.

 


For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 13 of 30.

 

Like, literally.

The other day, after having let laundry pile up for way too long (down to my last pair of undies) (TMI?), I finally got it all into the washer. And then decided that I should go for a run — not the best timing since all my running clothes were busy getting non-stinky.

So, I dug through the drawers and pulled out a pair of capris. To be honest, they didn’t even look all that familiar, but I figured they would do. I worked them up over my hips; they were snug, but that’s what I expect out of compression clothing, ya know? To be fair, they were probably a size too small, but they were on, they weren’t ripping apart at the seams and I had a run that needed to get in the books. Onward.

I got through the first mile and wondered why I hadn’t used these capris in so long. They felt pretty good, holding everything in the place where it was supposed to be held. You know how that is, right?

Then the second mile. Hmm. Was I just getting tired and overly sensitive?

Third mile. Uh oh. Definitely not good. I was becoming way too intimate with a seam that was in exactly the wrong place (let’s just say that it would have been polite and good form for the capris to buy me dinner first). But it’s too late to stop now, right? I mean, I’m mostly done. Just another mile.

Fourth mile. Really, really not good. I finished my run and gingerly stepped off the treadmill, walking like a toddler with a full diaper. I despaired over the fact that between the stairs from the basement to my bedroom were several windows — blinds open — to the viewing public. Damn myself and my insane desire for sunshine!

I finally made it to privacy and got ready for my shower, inspecting the damage. I didn’t draw blood, thank god for that. But the shower? Every little spot of irritation made itself known. It’s not often that the post-workout shower is more painful than the workout itself, but it seems I’m talented that way. Is there anything worse for an athlete than chafing?

If nothing else, it gives new meaning to the phrase “Feel the burn.”

chafe

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No, I’m not talking about the unit of electrical resistance (as surprising as that might be) but rather the “ooooooohm” that goes along with meditation (at least on TV it does).

So – yes – let’s talk meditation for a minute or so. How many of you out there meditate? Everyone? None of you? It’s something that I’m pretty new to and I’m not sure that I do it “right” — if there is, indeed a “right” way to do it — but I am doing it as best as I can. As I’ve mentioned before, I use an app called Headspace that I really like (I have not yet graduated to unguided meditation). Andy, this cool British dude, guides you through the exercises and they have packages of meditations along different themes: relationships, anxiety and confidence to name just a few. In fact, go watch Andy’s TEDtalk. That’s where I first heard him and got introduced to Headspace and haven’t looked back since.

So, what do I get from it? It depends. Some days it’s what I need to unwind from a busy day. Other times it helps me (inadvertently) fall asleep. And then there are the times that it’s the only thing that gets me to release my shoulders so that they aren’t hunched up around my ears.

I’ll say this: it gives me peace. It may be fleeting; it may only be for the 10 or 15 minutes that I’m sitting there, but it’s peace nonetheless and I’ll grab any bit of it that I can get. And sometimes, that peace bleeds into the rest of my day. Meditation #FTW.

If you haven’t tried it, why not? I can hear people saying “oh yea, I bet it’s great but I could never get my brain to quiet down for that long.” Know what? I think just about everyone says that before they start the practice. The best part? Meditation is all about practice, not perfection. It’s noticing your mind wandering and bringing it back, again and again. Meditation can teach you to quiet your mind when you need it to quiet, as well as giving yourself just that bit of space you need to notice the moment around you and be grateful for it.

Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? I’d say that it kind of is magic. And it’s free and doesn’t require any equipment — just 5 or 10 minutes and the desire to sit and be quiet.

Here’s a great short video about meditation to explain it better than I ever could:

 

Meditation 101: A Beginner’s Guide from Gobblynne on Vimeo.

 

 

Today is the beginning of the Brene Brown semester Living Brave and I’m excited and scared and already feeling behind. But – mostly – excited. I fell in love with her work from the moment I saw her viral TEDtalk and have loved everything of hers that I’ve run into since then.

The course is largely based around this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; … who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

This course a mixture of reading (the first part of the semester is reading her book Daring Greatly and the second part focuses on her book Rising Strong), videos to watch, worksheets to fill out and questions to answer. There are also public forums (well, public to the people who signed up for the course) as well as 4 live question and answer sessions with Brene (I feel like we’re on a first name basis now). It’s a cohesive, well thought out program that promises to dig deep as long as I let it.

That’s the hard part, of course, allowing myself — giving myself permission, as pal Brene would say — to really open up and be vulnerable to find my answers. As silly as it sounds, being vulnerable even to myself is a little uncomfortable for me; it’s certainly not something that comes naturally. And after that, I’ll work on taking it one step further and sharing what I’ve learned with friends who have earned the right to hear about it (or, you know, I’ll just post it all on my blog).

If anyone is interested in joining, I’d love to have company on the journey. You can sign up until January 15th and if you use the promotional code FBTRIBE you’ll get 20% off.

And just for kicks, here’s a very short animated video of Empathy vs. Sympathy (voiced by my bestie Brene) that both makes you laugh and nod your head in understanding. Watch it – you’ll be glad you did.

 

After a week of feeling less than 100% and skipping workouts with frightening regularity, I’m back in the game. It’s Sunday, and I could have started off today — I’m finally feeling fairly normal again (whatever “normal” is)  — but like the rest of the world, I figure it’s silly to start on Sunday when I could start on Monday. It’s just a more natural starting point, isn’t it?

But here’s the game plan, beginning tomorrow:

  • 3 runs for a total of 11+ miles
  • 2-3 strength training sessions
  • 7 blog posts (that was the one upside of not feeling well — easier to find time to write!)
  • 3 days of coding
  • SLEEP. In bed 30 minutes before I need to be asleep, and meditate before bed. Need my zzzzz’s!

That’s all. Seems easy enough, right?

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It’s a snow globe!

The priority? Running. I’ve got the Winter Trail Frosty Half and Quarter Marathon (the #WTFhalf … that makes me giggle…) coming up at the end of February and after realizing that the New Year’s Day 5k in snow, ice and cold was a challenge, I can’t imagine that a 6.55 mile run off-road run is going to be anything but a death march. And since I’d like it to be more of a torture trudge and less a death march, a little training will do nothing but help.

Just gotta keep remembering my 2016 word: HUSTLE. Just keep moving, keep going, keep pushing. I don’t always want to train but reaching goals is all about doing things when my inner toddler is throwing a tantrum.