IMG_20160116_150445It’s easy to make New Year’s resolutions: you decide on them, maybe write them down, perhaps even publish them in a blog for the world (or, in my case, tens of people) to see. And then starts the gradual memory loss that’s required so that once December 31st comes around again, you aren’t gun shy to do another round of New Year’s resolutions. It’s like the circle of life — the old resolutions must die so new ones can be born.

Well, I’m all about disrupting stuff (didn’t you know that about me?), so I thought that maybe I’d dust off my 2016 resolutions (it’s the year of HUSTLE, remember?) and see how I’m doing. Just for fun. Because how else am I going to get my kicks during a busy, chaotic work week that has me barely hanging on until Friday?

So here are the targets I set my sights on for the fantastic year of 2016:

Race every race. I signed up for 5 races as of the start of the year, and then the $5 half marathon that I added in February against my better judgment. I’ve completed 3 of the races (NY Day 5k, Winter Trail Frosty and the Chicago Quarter Marathon), have two more that I’m definitely doing (Cinco de Miler and the Tinley Park Duathlon) and then the half marathon which I’m going to bow out of. For the record, I don’t count the half marathon as a black mark against my resolution — really, I signed up because for $5 I figured I might be able to train for it, but if nothing else, I’d get a cool shirt out of it. And, I’m kind of planning on a fall half marathon to take its place. I miss the half marathon distance, but don’t want to do it if I’m going to be stupid and injure myself in the process. TL;DR I’m right on track. Oh, and I owe you two race reports.

Train for every race. I’ll give myself only half credit for this one. I certainly haven’t completely NOT trained, but I don’t know that I’ve followed an actual training plan that would achieve consistent results. I’ve been kind of feeling my way through this, first setting weekly mileage goals, now switching to running certain number of days, and I think I’m getting better. Or at least I’m figuring out how to train in a way that doesn’t leave me so sore from one workout that I can’t do the next. Baby steps, people.

Work through the freecodecamp.com curriculum. Well, they completely overhauled the curriculum at the end of January and so I took a break while they were doing that and then kind of abandoned the project. I need to start back at the beginning, both because I’ve forgotten some of what I’ve learned and also because they added some cool stuff that I want to go back and do. It’s still on my radar, though.

Read less than last year. I’m holding steady with my one book a week average. I’m currently working through a glut of just-arrived requested library books, but after these, I think I’ll slow down again. Not too much, not too little … like Goldilocks, I want it juuuuust right.

Give 100% to Living Brave course. Brene Brown’s course has been all sorts of awesome. I’m learning new things and really taking the time to really examine some of the concepts and how they pertain to me and how they pertain to the rest of the world at large. It’s been eye-opening and sometimes gut-wrenching, but I’m so glad that I’m taking advantage of this opportunity.

SLEEP. I still go in cycles with this — some weeks are gold star sleep weeks and other weeks, perhaps not so much. But I’m very aware of it, to be sure. My biggest problem? Playing a little bit of Candy Crush before bed. It hadn’t been a problem and then the game started giving me this “infinite lives” thing and instead of having to be done after losing 5 lives, I can play for hours. Which is decidedly NOT GOOD. So, I’ve started not even turning it on. Do I miss it? A little, maybe, but I’m guessing that my brain cells aren’t at all bothered by not moving little colored candy pieces around.

Turn off the TV. I am SO moving on this goal! I have an appointment in two weeks for someone to come in and install an antenna in my attic and then cable will be gone! Yay! I’m really looking forward to this, to be honest. I need fewer mindless distractions in my life (see above: Candy Crush) and while I might subscribe to Netflix and Sling TV (maybe perhaps I’m not sure), otherwise I’m thrilled to not even have the option of anything more than OTA stations.

Bring more creativity into my life. I’m definitely writing more than I used to — my January of posting every day was a new record for me, I think — and I’m making more of an effort to seek out and listen to more types of music. I subscribe to a (free) service that’s called “A Song A Day” and it sends me a song recommendation to my Inbox (one song a day, if you didn’t pick that up from the title).

All in all? I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I need to get on the techy geeky learning to code thing, but that’ll take a little doing. I also have some work-related classes and exams that are going to be on the table in another month or so, which will eat up a lot of time and a lot of brain cells (and leave me not wanting to be in front of a computer ever again).

How are your resolutions going? Still making progress? Or are they already forgotten?


 This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week.

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The week started out slowly and ended with a sugar rush. Despite generally getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I find myself dealing with an unrelenting tiredness — it could be anything from the time change (it’s much more difficult to fall asleep early when it stays light later) to Belle conspiring against me and intentionally keeping me from getting a good night’s sleep. Barring those, I figure it could be something physical, so, being the adult that I am, I actually made a doctor’s appointment to get a check up. Sometimes I can adult with the best of them!

The end of the week was awesome, though. Got together with friends to put together 8 meals at a meal prep place; nothing like enjoying the company of people I love AND taking home meals that just need to be popped in the oven. Friday, I had two friends come in to race with me on Saturday and we had a great time catching up and definitely not drinking a bottle of wine since we were racing the next day. We would never do something like that. And then a beautiful day on the lakefront! Chicago Quarter Marathon, in the books!

Easter was the perfect way to round out the week. Dinner with family and more sugar than I’ve had in a long time. My head buzzed like a swarm of bees and then I passed out, drool running down the side of my face.

Goals from last week

  • 15 miles including the Chicago Quarter Marathon — well, I did the race, so 6.55 miles. Other than that, I did some walking this week, but no real running. There were a lot of reasons/excuses, but I won’t bore you with them.
  • Two strength training sessions — BOOM. Done.
  • Track weight — down 0.7 pounds, easing my way out of the evil grasp of hormones
  • On good weather days when I don’t run or strength train, get outside for a walk — I did this on most days, though I missed one, I believe.

Goals for next week

  • Run 4 times for at least 20 minutes.  I’m giving up on mileage goals because sometimes it leads me to do stupid things. I’m no longer doing the half marathon and the idea is to just build up my running base. Running fewer miles more often makes sense to me, since I can recover from those runs much faster, making it so that I don’t have to take as much time off waiting to feel okay.
  • Two strength training sessions, and one will feature some heavy squats
  • Track weight
  • Get out and walk on good weather days.
  • Get all caught up with my online Living Brave course

What’s making me happy this week

Out of town friends! I had two friends come up Friday night to race with me on Saturday and I had the best time hanging out with them. To be honest, that’s one of the big reasons why I continue to do this stuff — the people are top-notch and among the best I’ve ever met. I love having good-influence friends that make me laugh and think and smile and have fun.

All of you parents out there, no worries — this isn’t a post about the songs from Frozen (is that movie still playing on loop like it used to?). Even I try to not be that annoying. Instead, it’s all about the miracle of how I’ve been in my house for 5+ years and I’m not even thinking about moving.

For most people, this would not be a big deal, probably even pretty normal (of course, “normal” doesn’t typically apply to me). But since I started buying houses at age 23, I’ve not lived in one place any longer than 5 years. I usually get the itch right around 4 years to start moving, I deny the overwhelming feeling for a few short months and then with a speed that impresses some and terrifies others (Hi, Mom!), I’ll decide that it’s time and usually within weeks I’ll be signing offers and contracts and all sorts of other real estate type papers. It’s just what I do.

A side note — my family thinks it’s awesome (ridiculous? weird? not at all like any of them?) that I generally keep my vehicles far longer than I ever keep a house.

My reasoning for this is going to sound all ass backwards, this I know, but, it’s my reasoning nonetheless (intentional or not). See, around 4 years I start feeling a little hemmed in, surrounded by the stuff I’ve accumulated since the last move. And my answer to that? Move again so that I once again have to aggressively par down my belongings to a manageable amount of stuff so I don’t have to pay for a dozen movers and 3 semi trucks to get my belongings to the new place.

Perhaps my system has its flaws, but it’s always done a bang up job for me.

Plus, shopping for houses is about the only type of shopping that I actually enjoy. Like, really, really enjoy. I think it’s all hooked to the idea of seeing myself in a new place with a fresh start. In the same way that I love New Year’s resolutions, I love starting with a clean slate in a new home. Another opportunity to organize, to be free of unnecessary belongings; it’s invigorating, to be honest. It’s a new beginning with a deadline that, once the papers are signed, I’m legally bound to meet. What’s not perfect about that?

This time around, though, not only do I love the house that I’m in, but I love the location that I’m at. There’s nothing about the house that I hate and all the changes I envision are things that I can conceivably do without the need for new digs. I’m only 35 easy minutes from work, close to shopping, I have easy access to expressways and family is close by. Really, it couldn’t be too much more ideal. About the only thing that I want is to be closer to mountain bike trails, but even I recognize that I’m being a little nitpicky if I complain about that.

So, now that I’m past the 5 year mark with no plans in sight to move, it’s a little, well, different. I have this weird, almost subconscious feeling of being slowly suffocated. For awhile, I didn’t know what to attribute it to — job? house? life in general? — and then about a month ago it hit me: I wasn’t moving and therefore wasn’t going through my usual 5-year purging process. I’d gotten used to this 5-year renewal cycle — I think it makes me less aware that I sometimes buy too much unnecessary stuff — and without that purge deadline in front of me, the stuff just keeps accumulating. Which means, much to my dread, that I think I need to start Spring Cleaning (oh how that brings up bad memories from childhood! Spending what felt like my entire spring break helping my parents clean the house from top to bottom).

IMG_20160319_095340It’s time to let it go. And I find the process much more difficult as an “in place” process rather than part of this exciting “I’m moving!” process. Harder to start, harder to motivate, harder to finish. But slowly, I’m making a small dent. Books were first — made easier because the last time I moved, I donated 19 boxes of books, leaving me only with 4 more. Boxes for electronics were next — some of the items were in use and would never go back into a box, some of them were already gone, some could be sold. And bit by bit I’m trying to get through the house, looking in all the corners and crevices and drawers where I store things and forget about them.

There’s more to it, though, than just getting rid of stuff that I no longer need. It’s lightening a mental load, too — I never seem to realize that simply owning things, whether I pay attention to them or not, drains a little bit of energy from me. I’ll never be a minimalist (or even have a clean, things-put-away-in-their-place kind of house), but there’s some truth to the idea that cleaning up physical clutter can also reduce mental clutter.

Let’s take it a step further now. Anyone have any mental clutter that they need to eliminate? I know I do. My lizard brain definitely takes up real estate in my head that could be either used for something else or just cleaned out, leaving a blank, fresh page for something new and more helpful.

I think there might be a real benefit in pairing the house spring cleaning with some brain spring cleaning. Both processes create space and freedom — there’s nothing worse than not being able to move forward because off all of the stuff in the way.

Here’s some of the mental clutter that I need to seriously work on before my brain qualifies to be on an episode of Hoarders:

  • Any time I’m out running, I fall into the bad habit of comparing myself to other people. Today, I was racing (using that word loosely here) the Chicago Quarter Marathon and the course was an out-and-back so I saw all the runners faster than me heading to the finish line as I was still making it to the turn around point. A few girls went by and I turned to my angel of a friend who paced me and said, “That used to be me.”  You know what? That doesn’t matter. Even if I’m comparing myself to a past version of myself, it serves no purpose. I might not be fast like that anymore, but I’m also not fighting a daily battle with depression. There’s no comparison to be made. It’s like comparing apples and Mazdas, know what I mean?
  • Self-care and self-compassion isn’t selfish or narcissistic; it’s the only way to be the best Laura that I know how to be. I fight with the voice that tells me that all of the “self dashes” are a waste of time, that my stuff isn’t bad so I should instead concentrate on helping others. How can I help others if I neglect myself?
  • There are times when I have a real issue with feeling overwhelmed by all the things I want to do that I end up doing nothing. My brain realizes that I can’t do it all and then makes the decision to then do absolutely nothing. How screwy is that? (probably as screwy as buying a new house as a method of cleaning and purging?)  As my trainer likes to remind me, something is better than nothing, every damn time. And whether it’s running, writing, reading or anything else I want to do, just because I don’t dedicate hours to it, it’s still worth doing.
  • As I talked about in a previous post, I struggle with feeling worthy, especially when it comes to anything athletic or active. It’s as if being overweight and having a belly automatically makes me incapable of considering myself a runner or a biker or anything that requires stamina or strength. To remind myself:  I run, therefore, I am a runner. I bike, therefore, I am a biker. Being something isn’t a matter of being better than others, it’s just a matter of doing (see the first point about comparison being the thief of joy).

It’s all a process, whether it’s physically packing up books or mentally working to eliminate the thoughts that keep me from moving forward. There will be hills to summit (I live in the Midwest, there are no mountains), but also downhills to speed down with happy, wild abandon.But with some persistence and the determination to rise after falling, I can do it.

Like so many other things, I’ll keep at it. Clearing the house of all the stuff I don’t need is freeing, and plus, a lot of times I find that my unwanted stuff is someone else’s treasure. And when I don’t feel like doing the work — because to me, it is definitely work and not something I want to do — I need to remember how good the results make me feel. Much like training and changing habits, I always feels awesome after I’m done.

Because the end result is worth it — clean house, clean mind. Or some still slightly messy equivalent.

 

 


 This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week.

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So, a bit of a rip in the blogosphere for me — my service provider renewed my domain name but then whispered “just kidding!” and I had no idea. Even though the invoice said $0.00, they didn’t really mean it. And so when yesterday rolled around, they cut me off saying that my domain name hadn’t been renewed. “LIARS!”, I thought uncharitably, remembering the invoice. But then I checked my credit card and no, there hadn’t been a charge. Between them and me, things got screwed up. I’m not particularly happy with them at the moment, but at least it was easy to fix and I’m back up and running. Of course, I probably lost millions of dollars in ad revenue, but hey, what’a a few mil’ between friends, right?

Goals from last week

  • 18 total miles and a 9 mile long run — funny!!  I spent Monday through Wednesday recovering from my 8 mile long run, Thursday and Friday with headaches and other hormonal ailments and had given up by the weekend.
  • Two strength training sessions — done — and my legs session? I’m still sore.
  • Track weight — up only 2 pounds … not bad for the week it was.
  • Post 3 blog posts — it would have been two had my site been up.
  • Read all of my overdue library books before I no longer have a home — I read over 1000 pages over the weekend. Two books that separately were heart-wrenching and together turned me into a sobbing puddle of emotions.

Goals for next week

  • 15 miles including the Chicago Quarter Marathon (a little anticlimactic, but yes, I’m not doing the half marathon next month… more on that later)
  • Two strength training sessions
  • Track weight
  • On good weather days when I don’t run or strength train, get outside for a walk

What’s making me happy this week

One of the books I read this weekend, “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes. It almost has a chick lit vibe to it, but it’s more than that; some of the issues that it delves into are complex and complicated with no easy answers. It’s like the review from the play Cats — “I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me”. I gobbled it down in a day and even though it left me in tears and ambivalent about the ending, I loved it.

In my Living Brave semester course (taught by the wonderful Brene Brown), we’ve finished up with the first book, Daring Greatly, and are now moving on to Rising Strong. But as a part of kind of tying up Daring Greatly, Brene asked us to write our own manifesto, our declaration of who we are and how we want to live our lives.

When first presented with the empty space in which to write my answer, I fumbled and wasn’t sure what to put there. I was running a little behind on the assignment (luckily for me we were on a 2-week Spring break), so I looked at the forums and comments to see what other people were posting, feeling a little like I was cheating, but looking for some direction and inspiration. And what I found there indeed was inspirational: hundreds of students publicly posting their hearts for all to see, beautiful and unique to them.

I didn’t find anyone’s answer that I could copy (dammit!), but it did remind me that everything I needed was within me — I just had to listen, which isn’t always the easiest thing for me. So, I turned off the TV, did my best to ignore the snoring dog, closed all the browser tabs that led to all sorts of wonderful places on the internet and mentally reviewed everything I had learned the course up to that point. There was so much, but it all led to this.

And so I started writing. Haltingly, then more fluidly. It didn’t end up being long — despite my penchant for writing (and over-writing!), I wanted this short and concise, with laser-focus. And then I let it be, let it marinate for awhile. Over the course of another week, I edited it another half dozen times, at least. I’d find myself training or commuting and going over it in the back of my mind. I do my best thinking when I’m not actually thinking, ya know?

This is what I came up with:

I commit to practicing self-compassion and yet pushing myself into and through discomfort to go on to bigger and greater things. I promise myself I’ll risk failures in every arena, for being brave is the only way to learn and grow. I will honor my deep desire to be active, enjoying movement no matter what shape my physical body may be in, and surrounding myself with friends who encourage me and make me excited to move and play. And I vow to make a difference in the world around me by recognizing and calling out the good in others while also modeling courage and vulnerability I want to see in the world.

Perhaps it’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with it — if I were to do nothing except what’s in those sentences above, my life would be rich and fulfilling. Words to live by, right?

Does anyone else out there have a manifesto? If you were to write one, what would it say? Who are you and how do you want to live your life?

 


This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week. Interested in joining me? You, too, can have some public accountability: just go to the accountability spreadsheet and put in your goals for the coming week. The goals can be fitness-related, health-related, work-related or anything else that you care to track. It’s not about competition, it’s just about putting your goals out there and then assessing how you did.

2000px-MW-Icon-CheckMark.svgIt’s  been a longer than planned week. I had been looking forward to a long weekend, having Friday and Monday on the schedule as vacation days, but due to a work event beyond my control, I volunteered to reschedule, since the only pressing thing on my agenda was reading library books so I could stop the $0.10/day late fines from accruing to a point where the library mob squad attempts to repossess my car.

So it was a full week of work — and it was BUSY. And it left me tired, that’s for sure. It wasn’t until Wednesday came around that I even had the energy to get my butt on the treadmill for a run. Not a good thing when I had 17 miles and an 8 mile long run that needed to be fit in before Sunday at midnight came around.

And while work wasn’t stressful in a bad way (meaning, I still was able to come home and not obsess about what I had left behind at the office), it made me very resistant to opening up the computer once I got home. I just didn’t want to stare at a screen any longer, even if it had nothing to do with work. And that’s how I’ve had several intriguiging blog post ideas buzzing around in my head that I haven’t written about yet. I’ve got the seeds of the posts documented, but the only writing I’ve done has been mental. And seeing as how I sometimes have issues with remembering whether I fed the dog dinner (though, granted, she tries to trick me by going back in her crate and looking at me with hungry eyes as if I had forgotten), it’s probably important that I sit down SOON and write out some rough drafts at least. As with many, many other things, it’s on my list of things to do.

Goals from last week

  • 17 total miles — done (18.20 miles, actually, I over-achieved), though it wasn’t pretty. Ended up with one run that really tossed me up and spit me out. Just an easy 4 miles, but with about 1.25 miles to go, nausea and a spinning room finally caused me to take a quick break. I eventually got back on the treadmill and finished the workout off with a slow walk, but I didn’t feel better for another 3 hours. Not cool, running, not cool.
  • 8 mile long run — OOF.  This came the day after I blew up on that 4 miler, so after careful consideration, I decided to approach this as pragmatically as possible. I did the run in 3 segments, took 5-10 minutes in between segments to slurp Gatorade, ratcheted my intervals down to 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking and kept the pace really slow. The result? I got 8 miles in and didn’t completely trash myself doing it. Though my poor legs are sore — hey, I’m still undertrained for this.
  • Two strength training sessions — done, though I was pretty tired from work and didn’t give it as much oomph as I should have.
  • Walk/run at least a mile every day — you know, this should have been easy. In theory it was easy. In my head it was easy. Okay, yea, I missed two days. Sue me.
  • Write 2 blog posts —I’ve got SO many blog post ideas in my head! Just need to, you know, write them down and such. At least there’s today. Batting .500 in the majors would get me big money, you know.
  • Include vegetables in at least two meals a day — hit and miss. Doing better, though.
  • Track weight — down 0.1 pounds! I’m trying not to lose weight too fast you know.

Goals for this week

  • 18 total miles and a 9 mile long run — really no idea how this is going to work. I really do need to re-evaluate whether a late-April half marathon is a good, healthy, sane idea.
  • Two strength training sessions
  • Track weight
  • Post 3 blog posts
  • Read all of my overdue library books before I no longer have a home.

What’s making me happy this week

The start of the NCAA basketball tournament — March Madness is officially here! I really love this time of the year, seeing those kids out there playing their hearts out not for money, but for their teammates and their coaches and their schools and their pride. Not that some of them won’t see a big payday from their performance, but it’s all so much purer at this level. And there’s something about how one loss means the end of your season that creates a tension and excitement that can’t be beat. And if I don’t hit my goals for next week, you’ll know why.

 


This is Accountability Sunday where I look at the past week and how much work I did towards my goals and then set some goals for the coming week. Interested in joining me? You, too, can have some public accountability: just go to the accountability spreadsheet and put in your goals for the coming week. The goals can be fitness-related, health-related, work-related or anything else that you care to track. It’s not about competition, it’s just about putting your goals out there and then assessing how you did.

2000px-MW-Icon-CheckMark.svgMy birthday week! It’s really been a load of fun — remember, you only turn 46 once, so might as well celebrate the heck out of it. And so I did — a birthday dinner, a birthday lunch and two birthday breakfasts, a birthday run and a birthday walk — does it get better than that?

In fact, it does: because March Madness is on the way, I switched my cable plan from basic to one that gives me all the sports. Dangerous, for sure, but fun to have all these channels back again. I promise that I’ll be careful not to overdo my screen time. No fair skipping out on a run or workout of some sort just to watch basketball. Or Friends. Or the weekend NCIS marathon (there are episodes that I haven’t seen yet!).

After the basketball tournament, I think I’m going to cut the cord, as the techie geeks say. Get rid of cable entirely. I can save so much money by just getting an antenna installed and then paying for certain things. Sling TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and all the assorted OTA channels should be more than enough content to keep me going. And with the money I save, I can buy that house in southern Utah that I want.

So, how did I do this week, in between all of the birthday celebrating?

Goals from last week

  • 14 total miles (6 mile long run) — I got 13.59 total miles in, which includes some walking. My 6 mile long run turned into a 5.01 mile long run. Since this was a pseudo rest week, this is all good.
  • Two strength training sessions — only one, but the second would have fallen on my birthday, and we wouldn’t have wanted me to work that hard on my birthday, right?
  • Walk at least a mile every day (running counts for this) — done. BOOM.
  • Write 3 blog posts (aren’t you guys lucky!?) — this is #3! And I’m not sure what happened with my post On Feelings of Inadequacy and Shame, but it got more views than I’ve gotten for just about the rest of the entire blog forever. Like, 8 times more views than my next highest view count and that is awesome and weird at the same time. I’ve never had a big audience — and it’s also not something that I’ve ever worked at — but it’s definitely fun reaching more people. Thanks to all my loyal readers and welcome if you’re a new reader!
  • Celebrate my birthday in style without going (too) overboard — I think I accomplished this. Only one drink throughout it all and only one meal (salad and pizza) that I overate.

Goals for next week

  • 17 total miles (8 mile long run) — OOF.  This is going to be difficult. Going to take planning and — more importantly — sticking to the plan. And that 8 miles is going to hurt. Blarg. I’m not sure I’m ready for this half marathon training.
  • Two strength training sessions — no excuses.
  • Walk/run at least a mile every day — easy enough, right?
  • Write 2 blog posts — I promised you a race report and while you might not exactly be waiting with bated breath, I intend to deliver.
  • Include vegetables in at least two meals a day.
  • Track weight.

What’s making me happy this week

On my birthday, I went out to dinner with my family and roommate to an Italian place by me called Ottimo and it was DELICIOUS. Food that was a little more upscale, a wait staff that was very knowledgeable about the menu and wine list and the motto “Eat like a piggy” to make you feel utterly at home. I had Crusted Parmesan Scallops which were to die for (not literally … death would make enjoyment of the dish far less likely). If you’re in the area, I’d definitely recommend. And on Thursdays it’s $6 martinis!

I now know where I want to get my retirement home:  southern Utah. Whodda thunk those Mormons would be keeping all the beauty to themselves? You’d think they’d be a little more generous, them being all religious and stuff. All I know is that I want a slice of that gorgeous landscape.

It was a super quick trip — not even a full day — but was enough of a taste to make me start thinking about plans to go back this fall to do Zion in the proper way. I flew into Vegas on Thursday night, rented a car and drove an incredibly dark I-10 through Nevada and Arizona en route to my hotel outside the park, and then woke up bright and early to see as much as I could in the limited amount of time I had.

It was a day of missing turns for me; on the way to the park, I thought I knew how to get there, didn’t turn on my GPS and missed my turn and toured a little more of southern Utah than I anticipated. And then once in Zion — this section of the park literally having only two roads in it — I missed a turn again and only realized it once I hit the outer boundary of the park with the little guard shack. If nothing else, I wouldn’t have seen the goats on the road if it weren’t for that detour.

A quick synopsis of my hikes: I did Canyon Overlook Trail, a short hike, less than a mile one way. After a steep but short uphill, it was fairly level as it wound through the rocks and then opened to a majestic view of the canyon below. There were a few slightly exposed areas on the hike, but nothing impossible to navigate for anyone except the most acrophobic.

After that, I finally got myself on the correct road and went to the trail that I intended to hike first thing — Angel’s Landing. Due to my extracurricular wanderings, I didn’t have as much time as I wanted, but I figured I’d give it my best shot. I got up the first part — switchback after switchback, fairly steep in some places, but always paved so traction and footing wasn’t a problem. After that the trail wound through Refrigerator Canyon, so named because it’s narrowness means that it doesn’t get much sun and stays pretty cool. And then — Walter’s Wiggles. Short, steep, brutal switchbacks — about a dozen of them? — that made me want to turn back even though I almost always had the end in view, it was so near.

After those switchbacks, I was on Scout’s Landing, a lovely scenic place to sit and regroup and enjoy a snack. I chit-chatted with some of the folks up there (like the back-of-packers in a race, those who hike are usually a friendly, talkative bunch) and eyed the climb up the Angel’s Landing. There were chains to hold on to, which made it seem more dangerous rather than safer. I noted my depleted energy, the non-hiking shoes on my feet and the time on my watch and decided to leave this for another day. It was a little sad, but I didn’t take much convincing, to be honest. Plus, I had a weekend in Vegas to look forward to and it wouldn’t be as much fun if I was recovering from a broken ankle.

I’m about out of words, but I’ll leave you with some of the photos I took. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so this ends up being like a 10,000 word essay. Not too shabby.

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It was Wednesday night, two days before I was supposed to head down to Indianapolis to help one of my friends celebrate her birthday with a quarter marathon trail run (6.55 miles, for those of you who refuse to math without good reason). I had been back from my Zion/Vegas long weekend for about 3 days, work was beating me up and I was tired. Just plain ol’ tired.

I sat on my couch, in the spot that’s starting to get a little dented in by my butt (I keep trying to sit in other spots, but they just aren’t as perfect as my spot … I feel a little like Sheldon in Big Bang Theory, but not as smart or neurotic) and talked at my roommate.  Most of the conversation wasn’t with her, though, it was a debate that I had with myself. Out loud. Because that’s how I roll. I laid out all the reasons why I couldn’t go to Indy to race. And then countered each reason by rubbing two fingers together, the international symbol for the world’s smallest violin playing a sad song just for me. The violin wasn’t winning this argument, though, not by a long shot.

My roommate, being much wiser (and saner) than me, stood and listened to me argue each side of my debate and after my conversation began to peter out, she told me not to make any decisions; that being tired now didn’t mean I’d be tired on Friday. With that nugget of truth ringing in my ears, I rested my defense and decided to wait until Friday to decide not to go (see how open-minded I was being?).

Thursday night — still tired, still sitting in my spot on the couch — I was doing homework from my Living Brave online class with Brene Brown. One of the lessons talked about how people react to shame: they either move towards it (meaning, they try and people please their way out of the shame), move against it (become defensive and argumentative) or move away from it (disappear and not face it). Clearly, I fall into the latter category — I’m a professional-class Runner and Hider. When I start to get that uncomfortable feeling of not being good enough or whatever enough, I turn tail and actively avoid whatever it is that’s making my stomach all gooey and churny.

One of the exercises had us writing out situations where we might use those three ways of dealing with shame. I got through the first two easily enough (moving toward and moving against, both of which I hardly use) and then froze, fingers poised above the keyboard, as the answer to the “moving away” question popped unbidden into my head: I realized where the “too tired to go to Indy” was coming from. Sure, I was physically tired. When aren’t I? But it was more than that because instead of just yawning and wanting to sleep, I could feel the discomfort that was welling inside me about going.

Huh? Shame was keeping me from going to Indy? My rational brain had told myself that it didn’t matter how fast I was. That I very realistically could hike the course and finish in time. That there was nothing wrong with being slow or even last. My rational brain assured me that the triumph would be in simply completing the course. My rational brain was, well, really rational.

But my lizard brain definitely did not share this rationality; instead, my lizard brain whispered to me that I should be embarrassed for how out of shape I am was. My lizard brain also noted that I would be meeting new people and was that the first impression I wanted to make? And unequivocally, the rest of my brain ignored my rational brain and agreed with my lizard brain. I wasn’t an athlete and certainly not a runner. I wasn’t good enough to go out there, wearing some bodacious capris and acting like I belonged there. And thus — I was too tired to go. Gotta love that logic.

I have to admit that without Brene’s lessons on shame, I don’t think I would have recognized this situation for what it was. I would have just been tired, too tired to go, even the thought of the driving and the running and the driving back too much of a burden to consider. In other words, it would have been like many other times I’ve avoided social situations.

But in this case, I felt the discomfort and I moved right into it. I decided right at that moment that I would go, that I would reward myself with going to bed extra early that night, and immediately I became excited about the trip, like I had been until it got a little too close for comfort. Amazing what a little introspection can do for a person.

Brene often talks about how shame can’t live in the light — that it only thrives in darkness and secrets — which is why I’m talking about it here.  I suspect I’m not the only one who goes through this same thought process and frequently relinquishes victory to their lizard brain. It might not be the same kind of situation, but there’s always something that shame wants to keep us from doing. Our lizard brain tells us it’s protecting us from the big, bad world out there — and that’s so easy to believe! — but if you can find the loose thread and start pulling, you can unravel the entire argument in a heartbeat.

I’d like to say that from now on I’ll always choose the uncomfortable choice, the choice that seems too tiring or like too much work, but I doubt I’m that perfect. What I will do, though, is keep my spidey senses attuned to what might be the real motivation for my decisions and strive to always push myself to do what’s best for me and not just what feels easy.

And so, I went to Indianapolis. I reunited with some wonderful friends, met some awesome new friends and had an absolute blast from start to finish (even including the race, if you can believe it!). And you know what? Just getting to that finish line was triumph enough. No matter how slow or how labored, it was my sweat and heart and drive that got me there. And you know what? I’m a runner. Know why? Because I run. I almost missed out on a spectacular weekend just because I felt like I might not belong. Which is ridiculous, no? I run, therefore I am a runner. Even my lizard brain can understand that.

A postscript: after the weekend was in the books, I was texting with one of those wonderful friends of mine, and she sent me this picture, telling me that she kept it hanging in her cubicle as a reminder. It resonated deeply with me and so I hope she doesn’t mind if I share:

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