Archive | December, 2013

Good things to come in 2014

31 Dec

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions.  I think it’s important to spend the entire year thinking about how to be a better person and how to improve oneself.  That being said, it’s inevitable that at this time of year, I start thinking about what I can do differently in the coming year.

This year, I want to (or maybe need to) really focus on being thankful for all of the amazing things in my life.  Wanting a baby so badly makes it sometimes hard to see all the good that I have been blessed with.  I was thinking the other day how ready I was for 2013 to be gone and 2014 to start, then I realized that 2013 was actually a really great year for me (minus my failing ovaries).  I got an awesome new job teaching something I love to kids who are absolutely amazing.  Plus I make more money, which is not super important except that it’s allowing us to pay down debt (and get closer to a house on the water and early retirement) so much faster, and that’s a really amazing and empowering feeling.   #TrailsRoc took off in ways that none of us could have foreseen, and we met so many amazing people who I feel so fortunate to call friends.  I ran another marathon (and half and 5k, among other races), and while it didn’t go exactly as planned, I still PR-ed and had an absolute blast.  I cut up my wedding dress, which is one of the boldest things I think I’ve ever done (I just thought of it because I’m looking at my Christmas tree skirt).   There were just so many good things to happen in 2013.  It was a really good year.  I am a really lucky person.

gratitude

So with that realization in mind, there are a few things I would like to do this year.

1.  Gratitude jar:  I’ve seen this idea on pinterest, and I think it’s adorable.  Throughout the year, when something good happens, or a good memory is made, you write it down and put it in a jar.  On December 31st, you empty the jar and reread all the good stuff that happened.  I’m torn between doing that and making a gratitude journal, but the idea is the same–to really focus on all of the good things as they are happening and have a way to look back at them, especially if things are not going the way I want them to…

I love everything about this idea...

I love everything about this idea…

2.  52 influential people:  I read a blog this morning with this idea and I love it.  I will be making a list of 52 influential people and writing one letter a week to those people.  I said that I wanted to write more actual letters in the coming year–it’s always cool to get mail from people who are not bill collecting.  So this combines writing letters with an actual purpose.  I am surrounded by so many amazing, beautiful people, and it seems like a no-brainer to write letters thanking them for being a part of my life and making me who I am.

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3.  More bike riding/cross training:  I’m not a huge fan of exercise.  If it weren’t for all of the amazing people I’ve met through running, I might not do it anymore. Ha.  In any event, I know that ONLY running is tough–it can cause a lot of injuries, and I don’t want that.  Also, we bought a trainer AND mountain bikes, so I really need to use them both.  So in 2014, my goals are 1.5 hours of biking a week (which is not much, but I figure in the winter, that’s about all I’m going to want to do–after about 30 minutes on the trainer, I am ready to be done–which may have something to do with the trainer being a tad too big for my midget legs, making it not the most comfortable experience).  In any event, I figure adding 1.5 hours of biking a week to my running will only have positive effects.  In addition, I need to do at least 1 day of strength training a week.  Again, this seems very small, but I really hate doing it, and I get into good grooves, but then fall out of them.  So this year, I’m trying to make sure that I stay in a good groove, even if that groove is only a once a week groove.  Oh and I would like to be able to do a chin up by the end of 2014.  I’m pretty close to it now, but it would be cool to actually be able to.  And a pull up wouldn’t suck either.

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you can’t tell in the picture, but i am actually terrified after almost falling off my bike when i hit a small stone. this year, i will learn to be a more confident rider.

4.  52 books this year.  I love to read.  There is something very satisfying to me to open up a book and finish it on the same day–reading all night long.  I love losing myself in a good plot, falling in love with characters.  During the school year, I don’t read as much, but on vacations, I can get through a lot.  Case in point, in the past week, I’ve already read 1.5 books.  So 1 book a year this year.   🙂

So that’s it.  My plan for a really, really, amazingly fantastic, spectacular 2014.  I am ready to celebrate the end of a good year with some of our closest running friends tonight and literally run into the new year, excited and ready for all of the good things that I know are coming my (our) way this year!

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a very Grinchy Christmas…and a hopeful 2014

31 Dec

I feel like I need to apologize to everyone who I was in contact with in the past month or so.  I have been a disaster.  I knew it was happening, but I felt like I was on the outside looking in, unable to control what I was doing or how I was feeling.

 

About a week or two before Christmas, I got myself into a funk and couldn’t snap out of it.  “I must stop this Christmas from coming…but how?”  The Grinch’s line played in my head.  I did my best to put on a smile and suck it up–I am a firm believer that when you feel sad, you get sadder, and it spirals downward from there.  So I put up our Christmas trees, made cookies (we won’t talk about how long it took me to actually frost them), wrapped Eric’s presents and made a Christmas countdown to un-Grinchify him.  I really tried.  I pretended.   We had some fun times, don’t get me wrong, but this Christmas had a pervasive air of blah for me.

 

Growing up in a big family  on a kid farm, there were ALWAYS kids around at Christmastime.  I have linked kids and Christmas in my head, and this year that became evident as I braced to face another holiday childless and found myself sinking into a pretty deep depression.  When I first started to get sad, I told myself to knock it off, that we’ve done this already a bunch so I should be used to it.  But when I took the time to actually reflect, I realized why this year hit me so much harder.  Our first year trying, we were only a couple of months in.  No big deal, we’ve got this.  Year two, I was upset, but also still in denial that we were going to need medical interventions.  I had just recently started Met, which was supposed to fix me (according to my 1st dr, the new one said she didn’t know why they would ever have told me that).  So I was still mostly optimistic.  Last year, we were actually taking a much-needed break from all of the trying.  Mentally, I had become a basket case, so we took a break starting in November, I trained for and ran a marathon (forced penance for my body’s refusal to do what it should) and promptly went off the pill in May.  We spent the spring/summer undergoing various tests that took way longer than they should have and were supposed to increase our odds without actually medicating me, but that never happened.  I was confident when I started on actual medical treatments in the fall that we would be telling our families we were finally pregnant by Christmas at the latest.  In my head, I had not thought of anything beyond Christmas because in my head I didn’t need to.  So finding myself here and unpregnant and seemingly no closer to being pregnant was pretty devastating.

 

So Christmas sucked a little bit.  I had taken another round of fake hormones that did not do anything to my ovaries, but did make me bloaty, bitchy and break-outy (the 3 b’s haha).  I found out at Christmas that it hadn’t worked.  Not cool.  I moped, I was bitchy, I laid around all day, I sobbed in the shower a lot, I researched my issues, and on one occassion almost didn’t make it to a run because I had a meltdown and ended up in bed sobbing instead of changing into my running clothes like I had gone upstairs to do.  To be fair, I felt much better after that cry.

 

I woke up this morning, though, and I was ready to get home and start getting back to normal.  Ready to clean the house (about time), ready to make dinner again (we won’t talk about the serious lack of nutrition that’s been going on in our house recently), and ready to start exercising again (we’ll see how that goes when it’s single-digit temperatures this week).  The important thing is that for the first time in a long time now, I’ve felt a little more like myself.  A little more like I’m living my life and not watching it from the outside.  That’s not to say that I’m not still sad, too.  Just that I am feeling a little better about things, and it’s nice to feel even a little more ok about life.  I think part of that may be that I know that this cycle is most definitely not going to work, so I can breath again until I start my next cycle.  I mean, there’s still a small chance this one could work, but I’m not holding out hope anymore. 

 

I have a 50k training plan ready to go, starting with a run tomorrow with friends.  We are revisiting vegetarisnism at home (but not worrying about it if we are out for dinner or out at friends’ houses), which means trying some new recipes, which is exciting to me.  We are going on a snowshoeing trip in the winter, camping so Eric can report for Trail Runner Magazine for Cayuga Trails 50s, hopefully camping on our island again, possibly taking a cross-country road trip, if not cross-country, then maybe a tour of the east coast, celebrating 5 very eventful years of marriage, watching #TrailsRoc grow even more than it already has (if that’s possible ha), I am turning dirty 30 (complete with a bounce house–unless i am pregnant, in which case we’ll have to postpone the bounce house a bit ha), and maybe running either an ultra or another marathon…  Tomorrow, we are running into 2014.  I’m ready.  2014 is going to be a great year, I can feel it.

blackfish

23 Dec

Deciding to give up cable was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  We have a Netflix subscription instead, and we are able to watch some really great movies that we would otherwise not see–a lot of them documentaries, because we are giant nerds (ok that’s probably actually just me haha). 

 

Today, Eric asked me if I wanted to watch Blackfish, a documentary about Sea World and the Orca that killed its trainer. 

 

Growing up, I was fascinated by sea animals, particularly whales and dolphins.  My family went to zoos and aquariums all over the east coast growing up, we had a subscription to Zoobooks and I was obsessed.  I wrote about dolphins, watched movies about them, read books about them.  I.  LOVED.  Them.  In third grade, we had to do a research project about a career we wanted to do, and I naturally researched marine biology.  I even went to the aquarium to talk to a trainer there as part of my research.  It was amazing. 

 

I think my real fascination with this was dolphins and whales (and other sea life) is that I am allergic to everything.  All I wanted as a kid was a kitten.  I had stuffed cats and dogs covering my entire bed.  They were my “pets” because it was all I could have.  So I think some of my obsession was that these would be animals that I could touch/play with/be friends with and not get really sick. 

 

As I grew older, I realized that a career in marine biology would probably mean moving far away from Western New York and my family.  I wanted no part of that, and so the dream of marine biology went by the wayside. 

 

Watching this movie makes me grateful for the waning enthusiasm for marine biology.  I would HIGHLY recommend the movie–it’s fascinating to see how they capture the whales, the way the whales attack each other, and of course what eventually happened with the whale and trainer at Sea World (and actually another place, too). 

 

This is a struggle that I have with zoos and aquariums, and even having pet animals.  At what point is taking a wild animal out of its natural environment, penning it into a too-small enclosure, and training it to behave the way WE want it to behave going too far?  On the one hand, I can see the point that people can learn about the animals and want to help with conservation efforts when they can see these animals close up.  But on the other hand, why do we need to see them close up to know they are worth saving, that we should take care of the environment, that we should value all life, no matter what type of life it is…

 

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about animals and the way we treat them.  I think we are going to make another go at transitioning back into vegetarianism after the holidays are over.  This movie doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with eating meat, but at the same time, the way we treat animals whether it’s when we’re killing them for food or keeping them for entertainment, really sucks.  There’s a huge part of me that if/when we have kids wants to take them to zoos and aquariums, just like I grew up, to learn about animals and nature.  But there’s another part of me that isn’t sure that morally zoos and aquariums are something I should support….

comparison, competition and why i am actively DIS-engaging

16 Dec

I’ve been drafting and editing and rewriting this blog post for about 2 weeks now.  Yesterday, watching the race, I was so excited to be around all the adrenaline and excitement that comes from racing and competing.  So I think it’s a timely post to talk about my battle with comparison and competition.  It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now…

 

I should preface this by explaining a bit about my childhood.  I was in the G/T program (aka nerd class) in my school.  I think it’s important to know because I spent most of my childhood comparing myself to other students and competing to be the best.  This behavior was encouraged in some ways by our teachers–they wanted us to be the best and work really hard.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you take a Type-A personality and put her in that kind of environment, it can get a little out of control.  I spent hours at night on homework, stressed over grade-school projects and cried many tears over “bad” tests (not a 90 or better?  not an excuse.).  As a Type-A personality, being in this class for my entire school career just helped to over-develop some unhealthy habits relating to comparing myself to others and competing unnecessarily.   Don’t get me wrong–there was a lot of good that came out of my early schooling:  a great work ethic, a TON of knowledge, some friendships that taught me a lot, and grades that allowed me to go to a private college for almost nothing AND do amazingly well in both college and grad school (not to mention my career and life in general).

Anyway, I have a competitive streak, and I attribute it mostly to my schooling.  I don’t think it has anything to do with wanting to “win,” necessarily.  It has to do with wanting to be comparatively better than someone else.  And the problem with wanting to be comparatively better is that you can’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself–it’s just not fair to either of the two being compared otherwise.  Different people have different strengths, different weaknesses, different priorities…  The other problem with comparison is that if you fail to be the better one, it’s very easy to just give up and throw in the towel.

comparison

All this thinking about comparison started because of the recent media buzz about women posting pictures of their bodies post-pregnancy.  I had a million thoughts with each one of the stories.  They ranged from “good for her for getting into that kind of shape” to “Who takes a picture of herself in her underwear and posts it on a public twitter account?” to “If you put a picture of yourself  in your underwear out there on the internet, you should expect to get some criticism.”

But then I thought about it some more.  And I realized how ridiculous it is to say that you should expect public criticism based on how you look.  It’s a ridiculousness born out of societal demands and expectations.  And comparisons.

The truth is, no matter what your body looks like as a woman, you’re going to be criticized by someone.  You’re too skinny, too muscular, too fat.  You’re too tall, too short.   All of these things are “too” in relation to someone else or some other fictional standard that society creates and then pushes on us.

competition

What I’ve seen is that many women, regardless of their body, love to tear apart other women.  They wait for the opportunity to do it clothed in self-righteousness (“my priority is my kid, not my body”) or defensiveness (“i am lucky i even had a baby so i wear my stretch marks with pride”), and another woman posting a picture of herself in her underwear is that perfect opportunity.  A chance to be snarky and bitchy.  And I personally think that snarkiness is born out of comparison.  I see an incredibly fit woman and I get pissed that I don’t look like that, so I find something mean to say about her.  Because one part of my life doesn’t live up to hers, I find a way that I think I am superior, and I latch onto that.  At least, this is what I imagine is happening to most women who commented negatively about the women posting these pictures.  And this same process is what leads us to criticize about other things, too.

I started writing this blog a couple of weeks ago now, and since then I’ve been paying more attention, I’ve had a startling realization.  I’ve caught myself every day comparing myself to people.  Suffixes like “er” and “est” are a frequent part of my vocabulary.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s unhealthy.  I am over it.

So I am working really hard to actively disengage from this type of thinking and behavior.  The only person I should be comparing myself to and competing with is myself–I want to spend every day becoming a better version of myself.   I guess this doesn’t just go for these body image issues, either.   In every facet of my life, I am over it.  Teaching, being a wife, a sister, a daughter, daughter-in-law, friend, co-worker, cook, runner… So this coming year, I am trying to be more cognizant of my personal competitive streak and trying to reign it in (except when it comes to competing with myself.  If I’m not pregnant this spring, an ultra WILL happen).  Because in the end, all that really matters is that I am healthy and happy and making others’ lives better.

competition 2

excuses

8 Dec

I am so sick of people and their poor excuses for poor decisions.  Rather than just be straight and say we were too lazy or too tired or too busy with other stuff, we look for reasons to legitimize poor choices.  It’s lame.

I just read this article about how eating healthy costs an extra $550 a year.

This is just one more excuse for making poor health choices.  “I’m too poor to be healthy.”  The thing is, I’d be willing to bet it’s not a valid excuse for MOST people.

These same people who are too “poor” to afford fresh veggies and fruits have cable, iPhones, get their hair and nails done, go out to eat or buy a cup of coffee every morning on their way to work, and get new sneakers every month or two.  You are not too poor to eat healthy–you are making poor choices with how to spend your time and money.  That is no one’s fault but your own.

Our society is becoming one where it is acceptable to make excuses and feel sorry for yourself.  Rather than admit that choosing healthier food options is difficult, that preparing food every day can be a pain in the ass, that some nights you just don’t care enough to cook healthy food, that french fries from mcdonalds are just so damn good you can’t stop eating them (ok maybe those are just my reasons?)…rather than do any of that, we say we’re too poor.  It costs too much.  The reality is, eating healthy doesn’t cost too much.  It just requires some planning and preparation that we don’t feel like doing.

Last week, we were supposed to eat unprocessed foods as part of a new nutritional challenge Eric came up with to clean things up pre-Christmas.  The truth is, some nights, I don’t feel like cooking a healthy meal.  That has nothing to do with our financial situation.  That has to do with me coming home from work tired, hungry and unwilling to put any time/effort into making a meal for us.   A bag of chips tastes better some nights, and is far more convenient.  I can run into Wegmans and buy chips and eat them immediately or I can buy chicken and have to go home and prepare it before I can eat.  The chip companies (and other processed food companies) have also engineered tastes to be addictive.  There’s a reason processed foods taste so good–science.  Watch any documentary on processed food.  It’s fascinating, really, to see the research and development that goes into making fake food.

 

I guess my point is that there are a lot of factors working against us (Americans as a whole), but poverty is NOT typically one of them.  I hate that we have become a society that makes excuses rather than just being honest with ourselves and others when we make a poor food choice.  Eating healthy takes forethought, planning and preparation, but it is completely doable…if you WANT to.

injuries are lame…

3 Dec

All last week, every run I did, I rolled my ankles.  I was just thankful that my first cut back week of the new training plan coincided with the first major snowfall.  I really dislike winter running when there is a lot of snow on the trails.  I am not very sure-footed regularly, so add snow/ice and I am done for.  None of the ankle rolling I did was particularly painful or bad last week.  Even on Sunday, running at Powder Mills Park, I never really felt any major pain in my ankle.  When I finished my hour and a half trek, my hip flexors were more sore than anything.  I also noticed some soreness around my ankles/outer calves, but figured it was just all the stabilizer muscles complaining about the snow.

rolling ankles like it was my job...

rolling ankles like it was my job…

but i couldn't stop...look at how beautiful this is!!!

but i couldn’t stop…look at how beautiful this is!!!

Last night, everything felt ok again except my left ankle/calf.  When I rolled over this morning, the first thing I felt was my ankle area.  Not cool.  It’s been very sore all day.  There’s no swelling, though, which I take as a great sign that this is a minor injury.  I’ve iced 3 times now, stretched and drew the alphabet with my toes every chance I could get during the day and massaged gently.  It’s feeling a little better, but I’m so nervous that I really messed something up.  The last time I had this type of feeling, I was sidelined for 6 months doing PT for my hip.  I don’t want 6 more months of that.  I CAN’T do 6 months of that.  I will go insane.  Back then I wasn’t a runner yet.  Now running is such a major part of my identity that I can’t imagine not running…

Injuries are lame.  On the plus side, it has forced Eric (who is also injured and should be taking time off–hint, hint) and I to make a move we’ve been thinking about for a while.  Buying a trainer bike for the basement!  I am not a bike lover–I’m not very confident when on the roads (or trails).  But on a trainer, I don’t have to worry about crashing into anything or braking.  Which is pretty cool.  So I’m going to work on getting used to to biking.  This bike’s seat doesn’t quite go down far enough for me (midget legs), plus I’m just not used to sitting on that kind of seat.  Tonight I rode for 20 minutes.  My plan is to ride every morning to get used to it, especially if I’m taking a little running break to let my ankle heal up…While I’m excited about trying out this bike trainer business, I am SUPER hopeful that the bike will just be a means of cross training and NOT the only thing that I am able to do without pain…

bike