Thursday, April 30, 2015

Yes, Of Course I Am

I remember when I realized I was a feminist. I am completely genuine in saying that; I actually remember the day. It was an "Aha! moment," one thing that happened that made me realize that that "f-word," the one I'd artfully dodged for years because "I don't do labels," did in fact apply to me.

It was back in 2012. I was a bit over a year out of college and in my first real-world, using-my-degree office job. My desk was situated near that of the office manager/customer service manager/executive assistant/etc. who was a sweet, smart girl named Sam. Sam had degrees in women's studies and political science. Sam was not afraid to call herself a feminist.

Sam and I were often the only people around for each other to chat with, and we could practically whisper from one desk to the other. We spoke a lot. We spoke about things that happened in the world while we sat sheltered from it behind our desks. We were both news junkies and admitted progressives, and we both got breaking news alerts sent to our phones and Twitter feeds.

It would usually go something like this: *news alert comes in, something regarding the right's latest attack on female autonomy* "JEEZ, ARE THEY SERIOUS?" *hyperspeed conversation about all the problems with this ensues.*

So anyway, after several of these chats, Sam sent a tweet out into the universe. Believe me, I tried to hunt it down, but it's pretty buried back there. Anyway, it said something to the effect of this: "When you find our your new coworker is a feminist too [some expression of excitement, maybe an emoji?]."

At first I recoiled. And then I thought about it.
Yes, of course I am a feminist. Why would I be afraid to say that? I'm not afraid to label myself a woman, a writer, a Jersey Girl, a daughter. What's the flaw in the word "feminist" that has me hesitant to embrace it? It's a descriptor of me as much as the other things. It's a term that encapsulates my worldview, my sympathies, and my passion for social justice. Wearing it proudly encourages others to do so too—like Sam just did for me. And the more people who identify with the word, the closer we get to an equal society where we're all pursuing a fair and just experience for all.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I educate myself on feminist issues for fun. I'm kept awake at night in fear for the women with poor resources in rural Middle America who are having their rights and autonomy stolen right out from under them. I fear the future we're leaving to our daughters, and that fear is part of what makes me believe I may never have daughters or sons.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I believe men and women are of equal merit to society. I believe they are intellectual equals. I believe they are equally deserving of success, respect, opportunity, and kindness without consideration of their assigned or assumed gender.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I know that I am capable of contributions that, while they may differ in content, are equal in value to the contributions of my male counterpart. I know that my worth does not lie in my appearance or my relationship status. I know that I am whole and worthwhile as I am, without the definition of a male in my life, be that my father or a husband.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I understand, sadly, that centuries of deference to male-centric issues and judgments have given an unfair advantage to men of a certain status, and that women of my generation and of those that will come after me will continue the work to reduce the habitual nature of sexism and misogyny that infects various aspects of our modern culture. I know that thousands of women have gotten us this far, and that we—male and female feminists invested in this struggle—owe it to them, ourselves, and future generations to continue pursuing across-the-board equality.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I see a sickening trend of slut-shaming that feeds rape culture and prevents women and particularly young girls from having certain contributions valued because of aesthetics and other qualities that are elevated in importance by those who choose to judge them unfairly. I see that the victim-blaming culture we live in is born out of disdain for women and has infected psyches of those who lead the pack, perhaps beyond repair. I see the damage that this does to young women and young men.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I know that certain attitudes that collide with the feminist movement are as harmful to males as they are to females. I know that feminism helps us all. I know that feminism accepts young men as more than sex-crazed piles of hormones who lose their humanity at the sight of a bra strap, and instead encourages them to be their best, most respectable, most respectful selves. I know that the lack of feminism reduces men to animals and women to their prey. I know not all women are good and not all men are rapists. But I know there are rape apologists among both genders, and I know there is no excuse for that.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I know my gender is doing extraordinary things left and right. I know we are breaking free of the need for male approval and rewriting rules in the work force, in the home, in politics and government, in education and academia, in thought leadership, in the arts, in STEM. I know my gender is shattering new glass ceilings every day. I know my gender is earning more, contributing more, and demanding more. I am proud to be a woman in the age of Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Dodai Stewart, Jessica Valenti, Amy Poehler, Kathryn Bigelow, Oprah Winfrey, and too many more people of note to name here.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I have seen that for every stride these women and their peers make, there is someone ready to call them sluts, whores, bitches, or worse. For every victory toward equality, there are a thousand verbal lashings including threats of stalking and rape. There is a woman who doesn't understand the millions who need other women to speak up for them, because their ability to speak for themselves has been stolen. There is a man who wants to and attempts to silence her by any means necessary. There is a generation of lawmakers working around the clock to literally turn it back decades and steal away rights and protections they don't understand my gender's need for. There is nearly an entire governmental party working to reduce these women and the entire rest of their gender to nothing more significant than a bug crawling across the road. For every step forward, there's another step to be taken still.

Yes, of course I am a feminist. I don't let casual sexism and mindless misogyny slide. I call people out on their harmful comments, because I can't not. I speak up for women and men who I see are afraid to speak up for themselves. I don't tolerate being treated badly or unfairly because of my gender. I won't let my friends do so either. I educate when I can, and share my beliefs to increase awareness of what the "f-word" really means. I know embracing the word, whether you're male or female, can only do good for the future of the world. Sometimes, I'm pushy. But I'm not pushy because I'm a feminist and not all feminists are pushy. (I'm pushy about everyone giving yoga a try and New Jersey being the best state too.) I'm pushy because I'm pushy, and I'm loud about feminism...can we afford to be quiet?

Yes, of course I am a feminist. Why wouldn't I be?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just Like That

It's been a strange couple of weeks. Since RnR, pretty much nothing has gone according to plan.

March 16–22: 2 runs, 5.26 miles • Learned my shoes were shot and would have my foot seriously injured if I didn't hang them up.
March 23-29: 0 runs, 0 miles • No shoes to run in as I waited for the store to receive my new pair, plus recovery time was needed.
March 30–April 5: 1 run, 2.18 miles • Finally got the shoes! But a weekend trip prevented much running.
April 6–12: 3 runs, 11.03 miles • This is where our story begins.

Let me walk you through a bit of a crazy person's (that's me) thought process: Just a few weeks til Superhero Half! I need to get the mileage in. I missed three weeks of scheduled runs. I need to make up those miles. Or I can just pick my training plan back up where it's supposed to be, ignoring the missed three weeks. That'll be fine. I can go from 0 miles per week to 15 and it totally won't hurt at all. I'll be fine. I need to do this anyway. Or else I won't be able to run Superhero.

For those of you who aren't runners or racers or insane like me, let me sum it all up for you: I WAS WRONG.

As I talked about in some of my Sunday Sweats posts (which I won't rehash here; you're welcome), this excessive boost of mileage that goes against every runners' rule, in conjunction with my chiropractor waking the beast that lives in my right hip, could only add up to frustratingly awful long runs that had to be cut short, pain, a compensatory injury and...more pain.

Somewhere along the way I forgot about one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my first few months of running: Slow progress is still progress. Slow progress is healthy, sustainable progress.

It was during a hopeful 8-miler that had to become 5 miles two weekends ago that it clicked in me. I shed tears over this run; I convinced myself I had no right to even think about a marathon this year; I believed my running career might have peaked. (I'm an idiot, btw.) And then I got home and looked at my spreadsheet and saw, in black and white, what the problem was. I saw what I should have seen a week before. (I have to also thank Tracy for saying the magic words that helped me realize it: "tired legs.") I can't make up missed weeks. I have to run from the place I am in.

And just like that, I rewrote my training plan. I acknowledged that, hey, I'm a bit behind and I have to adjust. I stopped trying to force my body to unsafe places and settled for pushing my limits. Because shit happens. Training plans get derailed. This year I've made huge strides in being more flexible, more adaptable, more okay with not having every detail of my life planned out on paper. (Why it took months for me to fully apply it to my workouts, I don't know.)

And the amazing thing is this: Once that part clicked in my mind, everything else better. I forgave myself for missed miles and allowed myself to alter my plan to fit my body's current space. And do you know what happened next? I had a great week of running.
Friday's speed workout // Sunday's long run
Some lessons, I've come to realize, need to be learned the hard way. This is exceptionally true for me, in all facets of my life. In this instance, it took weeks of pain, of frustration, of beating myself up (You can't miss runs! You're not good enough to skip weeks of your training. You can risk injury to get the miles in. You need to get stronger; you're not doing enough. You're not working hard enough. You haven't earned rest yet.) about situations I truly couldn't control for me to let go, and let my mind adapt to meet my circumstances.

Shit happens. You roll with the punches. You adapt, and you let go of what you can't control, and you do your best. And along with putting the miles in, treating my body right, and literally working my ass off, learning and accepting this has been one of the most important parts of my running journey.


What are you training for? What lessons are you teaching yourself this month? Grab a button, link up below and share your goals, your stories, your wins, and your woes. Whatever it is you're training for, we're here for you!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Sweats 17

I rewrote my training plan from here until the Superhero Half on May 17. I had to take three weeks off/very easy recently, and I thought I could make up for that missed mileage in the weeks that followed. Turns out, upping mileage by 100%, 80%, and 33% weekly is a great way to have terrible long runs and hate your body from the hips down. Ten percent weekly increase is ideal, they say, but I capped my increase at 20% for the next couple of weeks (my personal rule is usually 25% and will be from here on out), so there are some weird numbers here.

Monday: lower body yoga (12 min) + 3.1 mile run (9:35 pace)
Cold, dreary, rainy Monday morning. I didn't want to do anything, but I'm glad I did this quick yoga video. It's a good hard for my hips which are getting 100% of my attention until...they don't need it anymore. And it being Marathon Monday and all, of course today was a run day. These miles actually felt really, really good, thanks in no small part to a half hour of legs up the wall and foam rolling.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min) + handstand practice (15 min)
YOU. GUYS. I have no words for this class. It was amazing. (Okay, I guess do have words. But trust me, they're inadequate.) My ass was sufficiently kicked in the first half hour. Donna just BROUGHT. IT. tonight. Luckily, so did I. Fun balances, great leg work, and plenty of time for backbends and inversions. And it's always nice to have Donna's hug and kiss of approval after class.

I was flying so high I continued to fly when I got home, until I realized I'm supposed to be taking it easy on my wrist after I did something weird to it last week. But regardless, I'm getting closer to handstand again. (I almost had it a few months ago, then I got distracted by other goals and stopped making time to practice.) Got some okay hang time taking myself off the wall, but I've got a ways to go.

Wednesday: lower back yoga (15 min) + 3 mile run (9:38 pace)
All the inversion work yesterday left my back a little tuned up. I love this video, especially in the morning because it's not really a sweat, but a nice way to come into each part of the body first thing and stretch out the kinks from sleep.

These miles felt weightless. Oh man. For the first time in a few runs, no—NO—hip pain! My pace doesn't reflect how easy this run felt because I was straight into heavy wind for the whole second half, but I was running like I love to run. I so needed these miles after my last two long run disasters.
Thursday: flexibility flow (12 min)
I like this video a lot, and picked it because I want to be sure I'm giving my legs the love they need as I increase mileage as the next start line draws nearer. Nothing feels like a good hammy stretch, ya know?

Today was 42 degrees. In April. At the end of April. No, I'm not running in 42-degree weather at the end of April. I've had enough, and I don't run so that I can be miserable. They shut off the heat in my building already too, so warming up isn't even an easy feat afterward. Moved today's miles because I'm just done being cold.

Friday: lower back yoga (16 min) + 2 mile run (8:34 pace) + arm balance practice (30 min)
It's actually a miracle I got up at all for this. It's freezing here—it literally went down to freezing last night; hi, it's APRIL!—and with no heat getting up was a real challenge. I paused this video ~13 minutes to throw in a headstand.

I only had 2 miles on the schedule for today, so I figured I'd make the most of them. You guys, I worked for that time. It was so windy and 45*—still not okay for late April! But I worked my ass off and nothing hurt and I am so pumped over these miles (8:45, 8:22). Probably couldn't have done it for another 30 seconds let alone another mile, but baby steps.

And then I celebrated by working on my newfound arm balance abilities (see below).

Saturday: free flow yoga (32 min)
I tried something different today. I made a playlist with a whole bunch of different songs I'm listening to a lot lately (from Alabama Shakes to Dixie Chicks to Dashboard Confessional to Jay-Z & Kanye...) and free flowed according to what each tune made me want to do. I ended up working a few standing balance postures (standing head to knee, warrior 3, standing split), some seated flexibility work, worked on the tripod headstand/crow/back again transition, and more arm balance work. And it was so much fun. This has been a great yoga week!

Sunday: 8 mile run (9:49 pace)
Finally. FINALLY. I finally got this long run to happen. More on why this was different than my last two attempts on Tuesday! (Are you linking up? Details below!)

Weekly Totals:
Running: • 16.12 miles
Yoga: 8 • 207 minutes
+ That pesky plantar fasciitis is creeping back into my heels and feet after upping mileage much too quickly, so I have that to contend with again. At least I know how to address it and am acting on it before it gets so bad I can barely walk, like it was last summer. Silver linings.

+ If we ever hit 80 degrees again I'll probably pass out from the shock of it. Tired of being cold and wet. Didn't I say this last week too?

+ My YTT (yoga teacher training) instructor Kelly informed me that my paperwork was received and I'm ready to go. Let the countdown to YTT begin! (28 weeks, in case  you were curious.)

+ So happy the hip pain showed itself out by Wednesday. That run was so, so crucial to getting through the rest of the week.

+ I don't know how to say this without sounding gloaty, but I'll just lay it out there: I'd pretty much given up on arm balances beyond crow (above); I just didn't think I could hit them. But I couldn't sleep Thursday night so I got out of bed and practiced and. Well. I can hit them! They need serious work, but here's my starting point for the three I'm working on now:
Sorry the pictures are barely legible, but I swear I'm balancing in the top two where you can't see! I need a full-time yoga photographer :P  (poses clockwise from top left: fallen angel / running man / eight angle)

+ I'm so happy with my runs this week. All of them are peaks. My pain levels (or lack thereof), my paces, my finally getting the long run to work. I needed this week so badly and I'm so, so, so grateful I finally got it. I'm back!



Don't forget to link up with Tracy and me THIS WEEK for April's Training for Tuesday! Honestly, I cannot believe it's time to link up again—wasn't it just the last week of March, like, yesterday? Anyway, if you're new, catch the details here. Can't wait to see what you're working toward this month!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Answer Me This

I pride myself on generally having a pretty good grasp on the world around me. I'm no genius—at least, I'm pretty sure I'm not, though I've never had an IQ test so let's not totally count it out. Though I did have to ask someone where Toronto was in the last four years, so I'm probably not a genius—but I'm hyper-aware. I'm well-read. I research for fun. I'm a good citizen of the Internet and spend more time in Wikipedia holes than any person should. Knowledge and me, we have a thing going on.

But no matter how hard I try to grasp them, certain topics just illude me and I fear they always will.

Things I Genuinely Do Not Understand

Why I was followed to work by a police officer. On Wednesday, a cop who turned left onto the road after I turned right promptly adhered his front bumper to my rear bumper and followed me—not just followed me; tailgated me—the entire way to work. I didn't speed or illegally turn once beforehand, or for the 10-minute duration of our little trip together. But there he was, what, waiting for me to speed I guess? In case I'm that big an idiot? And oh, by the by, my office is on town limits. You go past it, you're not in the town the officer was from anymore. So yeah, he was following me and my clean *knock on wood* driving record the entire way...for what reason? I'm only annoyed because there's no reason for it. Go find other people who are probably *actually* speeding down that massive hill in a 25 MPH zone that you turned off to follow me to work and give me a heart attack for breakfast.

The weather in NJ lately. Yesterday morning when I climbed into the Jeep to go to work around 9 a.m., guess what Sirius told me the outside temperature was. Guess! You'll never guess. 41 degrees. This Saturday it was 82 and I started (prematurely, apparently) bitching to Tracy about how running in daylight will be miserable until fall. JAY KAY I guess.

Why people still go to tanning beds. It's 2015. Are people still unclear on the facts here? You're literally paying for increased odds of skin cancer. If you're going to insist on tanning, at least don't PAY for it. Because now you're dumb and broke. And poisoning your skin. At very least, go outside under the *real* sun. And put on sunblock, please. Listen, fake tanning products have come a looong way. St. Tropez, right? Or just embrace your natural skin and thank your lucky stars you won't look 80 when you're 40. Just a thought.

Blogger's CAPTCHA obsession. Blogger. Stop trying to make CAPTCHA happen. It's not going to happen. And I'll thank you kindly to stop deciding for us bloggers that you want us to have it. (Is it bugging you on my blog? Please tell me and I'll make it stop.)

Why you wouldn't link up. I mean, duh, why would you want to miss out on the best monthly linkup around? Of course this is my very subtle way of reminding you that this Tuesday is the last of the month, and time again to link up your training goals, hopes, motivations, successes and sob stories with Tracy and me for Training for Tuesday! Peep the details here, grab a button below, and we'll see you next week.


That's gonna do it for me til Sunday. What are you up to this weekend? Wherever you are I hope it's springy and beautiful and your weekend is lovely.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Notes From Your Editor

As an editor and writer, I have to admit: Sometimes I have a lot of trouble turning off my editing eye when reading for pleasure. I leave mental red pen all over pretty much anything I read. And sometimes verbal red pen, unless I know it'll just be obnoxious. (Sometimes it does come off as obnoxious, but I'm just a geek who's trying to be helpful, I swear.)

I know most people don't have a background in formal or professional writing, and that's fine—it's a bitch of an industry, and I don't blame the world at large for not taking grammar and linguistics classes for funsies. But as a concerned citizen of the Internet (with an unhealthy attachment to the OED and AP Stylebook, I must add), I want to arm you with some mighty, mighty word-based knowledge, straight from your friendly, neighborhood editor.

Here are some hopefully helpful and only minimally obnoxious comments on some of the grammar and usage slips I see the most all over the Internet, along with some tricks to help you remember them:

A lot is two words. Think of it like this: Two words are a lot more than one word. Or think of it like this: "lot" is a word. You are identifying one singular lot when you're using the term "a lot." You wouldn't write "acoffee" to describe your Starbucks run, or "ashirt" when detailing your last Target haul.

A while and awhile are two different terms. "A while" refers to one while, basically the same way "a lot" refers to one lot. You would use "awhile" when the one word takes the place of three: "for a while."
Example: A while ago, we waited awhile for the right to vote. (Please don't ever write this sentence, because it's bad. But the usage of "a while" and "awhile" are correct.) See how if you take out awhile and use "for a while" instead it still says the same thing? When in doubt, sub it out.

Affect and effect are complicated, yes. In fact, it was only in the last few years that I developed a useful system for myself to remember when to use which. And it's dumb, but it works for me—and I am actually terrible with parts of speech—so maybe it'll work for you:
Affect is an action (How will this affect me?) and both words start with "a." Sub-it-out Test: Can you use "impact" also/instead? (How will this impact me?) If so, you want the a-word.
Effect is a consequence, and there are a whole bunch of e's in both effect and consequence. Sub it out: What are the consequences of this decision? What are the effects of this decision? When it doubt, sub it out.

When you're moving onto something without any further fanfare, you mean to say without further ado, not "adieu." Adieu means goodbye in Middle English. The play is called Much Ado About Nothing, and it's about a big old fuss being made out of bedfellows. Not people saying goodbye for no reason.

Internet is capitalized, as is World Wide Web (an accepted and in some cases preferred term, believe it or not), no matter how dubious it seems in 2015.
UPDATE: As of the latest AP Stylebook in spring 2016, this is no longer true. Hooray!

You offer a person all due respect; when you say "all do respect," it should be followed by something that all people respect. This expression is meant to convey you're giving the recipient the respect he or she is owed, or due.

And when you're singing a little ditty, it's a tune or song. A blog post, unless set to music and sung in rhythm, is not a ditty. "Ditty" is not just any old little thing. And it's definitely not a diddy. He's a rapper. Or he was before he started making clothes I guess.
Puff Daddy Puffy P.Diddy Diddy is disappointed by incorrect grammar.
(image via)
Any others that trip you up? I have tons of dumb memory devices for confusing terms and spellings right here in my pocket, if you're interested...

(P.S., please know that I was super hesitant to post this because I'm terrified it comes off really pedantic and snotty. Not my intention. I just like words a whole lot, because I guess I just don't have that much else going on in my life.)

The Blonder Side of Life

Monday, April 20, 2015

Twenty Months

In 20 months, I've had two birthdays. I went (un)willingly from an early-twenty-something to a mid-twenty-something, and—depending on who you ask—then to a late-twenty-something. I've aged out of my post-grad years into my career. I've stopped answering questions about what type of work I want to do and instead explain what I do. I've received two pay raises and job description redesigns.

In 20 months, I've become estranged from a family member. I've shifted my perspective on my relationship with another. I've come to realize which people will always see me, my identity, in relation to them—so-and-so's daughter, such-and-such's niece—and which ones respect my independence, my autonomy.

In 20 months, I've become more deeply committed to my yoga practice than I have ever been in my life. I may even be more committed to my practice than I've been committed to anything, ever. I've stretched my body and my mind past real and imaginary boundaries. I've entered a season of life that involves frequent meditation, and as such, reframed my frame of mind.

In 20 months, I've run hundreds of miles. I've run four 5k races and two half marathons. I've purchased four pairs of running shoes and a GPS watch. I've begun a collection of race bibs and medals. I've woken up early on Saturday mornings to beat the sun to the asphalt. I've braved the dark and the ice and run through a Polar Vortex; I've braved the humidity and the scorching sun to run through a North Atlantic summer.

In 20 months, I've dated a few men. I've fought dirty, and learned to fight fair. I've spoken up and shut up in the right moments—though, of course, not every time. I've felt starry-eyed and flutter-bellied, and I've imagined moments set 10, 20 years in the future and then deemed them impossible. I've fallen and stumbled and tripped and caught my balance again, and returned to spaces where I feel like I'm teetering on some jagged edge.

In 20 months, I've been broken-hearted and I've mended. I've found wholeness, I've found stillness, I've found peace, and I've found thrill. I've found each by myself, from myself, though not without the assists of those I'm lucky enough to have love from.

But even in 20 months, I haven't managed to keep my heartbeat from picking up the pace when I hear your name. And even the last 20 months of learning how to live a life you aren't a part of couldn't have prepared me for how happy I felt to welcome you back in.

You have a beard, fuller now than I'd ever seen it. You're right, my hair is longer, too. My body is different, and yours looks quite strange to me too. My address is different, and so is yours. My mailbox bears only one name now; now your's bears two. You've aged, and so have I. I laugh more now, but you seem to laugh less. I don't have to be concerned about that now, but if you ever knew me at all, you know I do. You wear Nikes still, and I do now. You still look perfect in a black tee shirt; I hope my staring didn't show like yours.

Even 20 months is not enough to make us miss a beat. Do you rememb— I do; did you ever— I did, it reminded me of— Hey, if we knew then— How different would it— Why don't we— I like your new place— Isn't it— It's perf— Like you even...— Like I know what's perfect for you? You look great. So do you. It's great to see you.

Even 20 months isn't enough to fade my smile at the sight of you, or yours—so it seems.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Sweats 16

Monday: flexibility free flow (10 min)
Oddly, I couldn't get YouTube to play a thing this morning, so after a few useless clicks I just decided to free flow. A couple sun salutations led into some lunging poses and happy baby variations for this beautiful spring Monday!

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
To say today was a terrible day wouldn't even remotely do it justice. I had an awful day at work, the kind where I was dashing out the door at 4:59 and wishing 9 a.m. wouldn't come so soon. The only bright spot in my day was looking forward to class with Donna. And it was a delicious class, exactly what I needed. A true full body flow with add-ons in each sequence building up to better challenges. I felt serious improvement in myself in a few poses and had a really good shavasana, which I desperately needed. Thank frog there are some things in this life you can rely on. For me, one of those few things is my mat.

Wednesday: yoga for runners (17 min) + 3.11 mile run (9:38 pace)
I love this video from Erin's first 30-day challenge and I feel like I haven't done it in a while. My quads were aching for a good stretch and they got it, which is always nice the morning of a run day.

I wasn't supposed to see my chiro today, but I asked his opinion on running/stretching and this right hip pain before I gear up for another shot at 8 miles this weekend. I've entered an area of extreme caution after convincing myself that I might inadvertently end my running career if I just run/stretch through the pain. He brought me in and agreed that our last session shook something loose and told me to back off the deep hip stretches but gave me the green light to run if I promised to go easy. This run was mild, and even though I "felt" my hip for most of it, I wouldn't describe it as pained. Praise be to the good stim machine.

At the end of the day though, it was all for Boston—and all those incredible, inspiring, awesome (in the truest sense of the word) athletes, past, present, & future.

Thursday: yoga for IT bands (15 min) + 4 mile run (9:48 pace)
IT band yoga felt right after yesterday, following doc's orders. I'll take it easy on the hip for a little while, but the right IT band is carrying all the stress. This felt good and prepped me for today's chiro appointment and run.

I left that chiro appointment with kinesio tape on both knees and alllll over my right hip with instructions to report back. After running with all that on, I felt a lot lighter in my right side for the first 3 miles. I didn't have the speed I would have liked, but I was into the wind for the majority of this weird, uneven loop (oops, miscalculated!) and all over the uphills.

Friday: yoga for hangovers (16 min)
Not hungover; I just like the half moon sequence in this flow. Paused the video after the second side to take a headstand for 10 breaths, then took the child's pose option and continued with the rest. This is a nice, gentle but active wake-up call video.

Saturday: 5.59 mile run (10:11 pace)
Walk/ran these miles because, I dunno, I just didn't feel good. Again. My weekends have been tough for running lately. I need a good one to boost my confidence I think. But I also need to not ignore that I'm upping my mileage by wayyyy more than 10% weekly and my legs are telling me what they think about that today. Also, lesson learned: No pants until fall.

Sunday: rest
I just wanted to rest a bit today. A lot of walking is on the agenda for this afternoon and I've been stretching out my hips and IT bands kind of 24/7 so I don't feel bad about skipping out on a formal yoga practice today.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 3 // 12.7 miles
Yoga: 5 // 133 minutes

+ I'm upset I couldn't get the miles that I had planned this week, but after coming home and looking at my spreadsheet and realizing I was being an idiot trying to increase mileage 33% in a week and not have my legs hate me, I'm okay with it.

+ Some hip pain, to be expected after the recent chiro work that, in his words, "pissed it [my hip] off." Hopefully it's part of the process of moving through it.

+ Some great yoga work this week.

+ Nothing ever wrong with two chiro appointments in one week :)

+ The anniversaries of the Boston Bombings and the Virginia Tech massacre—they're not peaks, let me finish—remind me of how insanely and dubiously lucky I am to be alive, well, and able to run. Just knowing and realizing that good fortune is enough to feel happy and grateful even when my workouts aren't perfect. They're still a gift, each and every one.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No Fear

Certain people just inspire you time and time again. For me, those people are often those whose work or talent I admire. One such person is Judy Blume.

Some months ago, I wrote this post in which I talked about things I used to be but am not anymore. I tossed in there that that very statement—"I used to be ___ but I'm not anymore" is straight from the Original Queen Bee of YA Literature, Ms. Blume herself. (In Just As Long As We're Together, Stephanie is given a school assignment in which she has to write about what she used to be but isn't anymore. She chose the word "optimist" to fill in the blank.) All this is just to say, I have to give credit where credit is due.

I've been having a challenging week. One thing I tend to do when life gets challenging—at least, in the way it has been this week—is look back on how I got here... how I used to be... what's different about my life from how I thought it would look at [insert age here]. At 26, I can pretty confidently say no younger version of me thought my life would look like this today.

Which isn't to say it's taken a bad turn; it hasn't. It's just changed. In more ways than I ever could have anticipated. I like to believe at my core I'm still made up of the same things I was at 6 and 16: An ENFJ. An Aries. An HSP. Stubborn as the day is long, lazy when the right mood strikes, hell on wheels when the wrong one does. Silly when I don't think anyone's watching, funny if you're listening carefully enough, and committed 1,000% to something if I'm committed at all.

But then again, there are a lot of (more) things I used to be that I'm not anymore.
in love with my job. After nearly three years here, the bloom is off the rose. To be fair, my job now is nothing like it was three years ago, two years ago, or even last year. People who ask me today "How's work?" who haven't asked in years are usually a little surprised by the change in my tune. But that's okay; like all things in life, this is a season.

obsessed with the number on my scale. I currently have no idea how much I weigh, and that's the way it'll stay. I suppose in a way the obsession has just shifted from seeing certain digits to seeing no digits at all. But I know that I am happier when there's no option for me to tie my health, fitness, wellness, or worth to any series of numbers—how much I weigh, my BMI, what I can lift, how many calories I've consumed, and so on. Today, the only numbers that weigh on my mind and factor into my life are the miles my strong, capable body can run, and minutes of yoga it can do. It's much better this way.

afraid to throw things away. If something was given to me as a gift, I felt obligated to keep it forever, regardless of how I felt about the item or the giver. If I owned an object that was tied to a memory, no matter how deeply engrained that memory was to me even without that object, I felt obligated to keep it forever. But somewhere along the way I've realized that things aren't love, and memories don't live in clothes or knick-knacks. Love and memories of the things that are important to me live within me, or on the pages of my journals or in the depths of my writings here. I don't need a dust-collecting source of clutter that carries the weight of obligation to remember the best day of my life, or a scrap of paper to hear those songs in my head over and over again. I can let go now.

sure of what I wanted from my career. I was going to be an English teacher. I was going to be a teacher who wrote during the summers. I was going to be a sports reporter. I was going to be a Features editor. I was going to be a columnist. I was going to be an education and curriculum writer. I was going to write books.... Today, I am an education writer and event coordinator, a freelance writer, a magazine editor, and a literary editor. I have no idea what I'm going to be, or what I'm even going to want to be, a year from now.

terrified to not have a plan. And what I just said in the last item? Used to wake me up in cold sweats in the middle of the night. If I didn't have a plan, what could I possibly do to make sure that my life wasn't spiraling downward? If I wasn't working toward the next phase in the plan, how did I know I was making any progress or doing anything worth anything in my life at all? But what I've learned is that my plans have done little but give me something to panic over when I wanted to change them. If I couldn't or decided not to stick to the plan, for perfectly valid reasons, I would freak and break down. Right now, I'm moving forward. My life is good. I spend my time wisely, I seek to better myself as I can, and I am productive. I don't need a plan to tell me I'm doing okay anymore. And while I don't know where I'm going yet, I'm (finally) open to whatever paths open up and reveal themselves to me. Finally, I'm open.

And it took writing this post for me to realize I used to be afraid of a lot that I'm not afraid of anymore.

What were you once that you aren't anymore?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Confessions of a Babbling Yogi

Here's the thing about yoga—or, at least about *my* yoga: You're not always going to nail it 100%. And by "it," I mean the stereotypical yogic mindset, attitude, inner peace, and yadda yadda yadda. No matter what yoga is or is supposed to be or is to you, the fact remains that the practitioner is human, and humans sometimes slip up. Miss the mark. Fall on their literal and figurative faces.
+ Driving to class last night, I saw that there was a car accident at the intersection just up the hill from my studio. This held up traffic a bit, it being a busy four-way intersection. I had left especially early, as I tend to get to the studio about 15 minutes before class starts to scope out my spot and begin loosening up. When Donna came in and said we'd wait a couple extra minutes (beyond our scheduled start time!) for the yogis who might have been caught in that traffic, I did not feel very zen. I did not feel very compassionate for the people involved in the accident or tied up in the fallout. I was a pouty, grumbly, selfish yogi who just wanted to get the hell started already. How kind of me, right?

+ Every class, the yogis in the class after mine show up 10-20 minutes early—despite the fact that there's nowhere for them to go except the studio we are still occupying—and stand outside the thin glass doors and chit chat right over our shavasana. I can't tell you how frustrated this makes me. How can you be a regular practitioner of yoga and be so unaware of the intrusion you're casting over an entire class of people who are trying to find some quiet? It's a miracle if I can push past my frustration with them and surrender even a teeny tiny bit into quiet. Mostly I just want to yell at them and throw shade to each one whose path I cross on the way out. Namaste.

+ I caught up with an old friend a few nights ago and, well, let me just paint the picture: He's tall, broad, and a member of the military. Guy's in excellent shape—he can literally bench press me and he can run 3 miles faster than I can run 2. But the second he said he had some low back pain, you better believe I got down on the floor and started showing him how to do cat/cows, spinal twists, low bridges, and sphinx pose. Because fixes everything.

+ When he scoffed at me for it, I scoffed right back. And when he told me the next day he'd dreamt about cat/cow stretches, I felt mighty and wise and just a littttttle bit gloaty. Because yoga fixes everything.

+ After almost every studio class—but never after home practice, oddly enough—I crave ice cream or a milkshake. ONLY after class does this craving strike. I have no explanations.

I'm linking these confessions up with the delightfully different (and freshly 25—go wish her a happy belated birthday!) Melissa, and joining in on the awesome Kelsey's Secret Blogger Club.

What do you have to own up to today?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Unpopular Opinion Alert

I'm an active Redditor—and by active, I mean I have an account so that I can subscribe to specific subreddits and occasionally upvote something for visibility or support (usually in /r/TwoXChromosomes and /r/Self) but never, ever, ever post or comment anything of my own—and one of my favorite time-killing subs is /r/AdviceAnimals. Aka, Reddit's Gold Mine. There used to be a meme seen often around there, the Unpopular Opinion Puffin. It was banned some months ago, because as you surely know, people on the Internet can be idiots. In its stead, I've decided it's my responsibility to make sure there is no shortage of unpopular opinions to be found on the Internet. YOU ARE ALL WELCOME.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted the unpopular opinion that raisins are the most important part of trail mix. AND I TOTALLY STAND BY IT. Here are a few more, because I feel like getting into an Internet fight today or something I guess?:

You know what? I'd actually really like there to be another Sex and the City movie. The second one was a disgrace, but screw it. I'll take a trilogy.

Exclaiming apathy toward politics and world news isn't impressive. I get it, you're far too sensitive (I'm an HSP, to not feel depressed every time you watch the news and it's just such an awful world out there so why would you subject yourself to such devastating things when you can't do anything about them? Right...except that if you live your life with your head in the sand, don't be surprised (I'm especially looking at women in the U.S. here...) when they take away your rights right before your blinded eyes and strip away the things your peers and ancestors fought for and little by little your inactivity in political processes (voting! based on important issues you've researched yourself!) sends us right back into the dark ages.

Hiring managers, I know you are busy people and get tons of applicants for every job. But if you have someone take the time to come in and interview, the very, very, very least you should do is provide some minimal sort of follow-up, especially if they take the time to do so after the fact. A simple two-line rejection email is polite. Radio silence should be an arrest-able offense.

If you're a parent and insist that your childfree or unmarried friends can't possibly understand your life, it's going to be your fault when you don't have any friends left because you don't keep even a small patch of room open in your life for those people who love you and who you used to care about.

Related shouldn't have been cancelled.

Every time I'm invited to a baby or bridal shower, I lean more toward throwing myself a shower every time I complete a milestone in my life. Expect your invitations when I earn a promotion, run a full marathon, and remove myself from a toxic relationship. Those choices count and are important too.

If you think there's something wrong with me because I don't like getting drunk, I think there's something wrong with you. For clarity: I have no complaint about you indulging—not my chair, not my problem. But if you think I'm a freak because I cap my cocktails at two or three, I'm not the one with the issue.

Product and medical testing should be conducted on death-row or life-sentence inmates. Not animals.

I don't care if your blog posts have pictures
if there's no purposeful picture to illustrate the story. I'd much rather a thoughtful, well-written, relatable post over a photo-dump or a blog post with a random photo jammed in there any day.
But I know a lot of you demand pictures, so here you go. (I lost.)

Spring is better than summer.

What are the unpopular opinions you want to get off your chest? Are you with me on any of these?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Sweats 15

Monday: yoga for hips (11 min) + 3.01 mile run (9:43 pace)
Are you shocked? Yoga for these hips and hams and IT bands is the name of my game. This is a slow, gentle practice—perfect for getting back into the groove on a Monday morning.
I'm trying to learn from last week and taking it easy on my body this week, so I only have 3 runs lined up. I wasn't super fast today, but it was windy both ways so I'm not mad about it. Just glad I finally had some beautiful (66*! Sunny!) running weather to enjoy.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
There were a LOT of beginners—like, brand new to yoga, never ever done it before beginners—in class tonight (yogi friends hesitant to try a studio class, let that encourage you please!) so Donna took it pretty slow and left out some of the challenging poses and the inversion. I appreciate that I have the background in yoga that lets me take a posture into a fuller expression (with Donna's nod of approval) if she leads the class just to a simpler expression, and totally understand that she tones it down so as not to tempt people to try a pose they aren't ready for where they can injure themselves. So it was a milder class, but still a good sweat.

Wednesday: hip & hamstring free flow (30 min)
Last week I promised Kay I would make her a video demonstrating some stretches that would help her get closer to a split, so I finally made some time and recorded that for her. It ended up being 18 minutes probably didn't need to be, but I'm annoying so it was. After I finished recording I took it down a bit and went into more restorative (read: I finally shut up and got quiet for 10 minutes) stretches and tossed in some twists to decompress the spine. I love to free flow sometimes and just kind of let my body lead my mind.

Thursday: low back yoga (16 min)
I paused this one around 11 minutes or so (after left leg, before down dog) to throw in a tripod headstand and childs pose. My basket headstand game is strong, but because I don't really love tripod headstand, I don't do it much, and I am wobbly whenever I do take the shot in class. It's sneaky, subtle core work and I hate core work, so headstands need to come back into my daily practice methinks.

I should have run today; I was "supposed" to. But I am just so, so damn tired of being cold and wet and miserably uncomfortable. Tell me how a high of 41* in mid-April makes sense? I just can't anymore. Spring, please. Please. Anyway, forecast says 65* tomorrow, and running in the rain in 65* just makes a lot more sense to me than running in the rain in 41*.

Friday: ab yoga (12 min) + 3.01 mile run (9:36 pace) + free flow yoga (10 min)
There's not a whole lot you could say I'm lazy about, but core/ab work is one thing you can. But if I want to go upside down, I kinda gotta. Easy abs for lazy people? Thank you, Erin!

This run felt more like a swim, so damp and heavy was the air. It's rained all week and all day and I was racing against the thundershowers. My legs felt amazing, but I feel a little bit out of shape cardiovascularly-speaking. Chalk that up to too much time away—not that it could have been helped the last few weeks—and move on, because I know I can fix that. Hopefully my paces next week reflect that.

I cooled off with a 10-minute free flow to really get into this right hip, which I'm trying to give some more TLC to after my recent discovery. Good thing my dinner companion was running late tonight too.

Saturday: full-body free flow & handstand practice (40 minutes)
I was all over the mat today—hip openers, dancing warrior series, leg work, holding planks, a long headstand, and an even longer reclined bound angle. I started feeling froggy and did some handstand work, which just basically proved the need for me to strengthen my arms and core. It was a fun practice though, and I managed to come off the wall in handstand for a couple seconds a few times. Progress.

Sunday: 5.01 mile run (10:16 pace)
OH. MY. FROG. You guys, it's finally spring here! Absolutely perfect running weather. Broke out the short sleeves and capris *sunglasses emoji* *thumbs up emoji* and really broke in my new shoes, which I am still adoring.

As for this actual run...five hilly, windy, chest-hurty, walk/run miles that were supposed to be 8 forced me to this conclusion: I'm out of shape and dearly paying for three weeks of little/no running. I took an early turn and cut it short because I didn't want to hate this run, and I have plenty of time to make up the miles as I work back to where I want to be and where I know I can be. It helps to know it's likely just because of so much time off. Other plus: My legs felt awesome :)

Weekly Totals:
Running: 3 // 11.03 miles
Yoga: 7 // 194 minutes

*FYI, I do strength workouts too, but with little rhyme or reason. Push-ups here, curls there, holding planks every now and then. I just don't count it here because I wouldn't know where to start or how to calculate it, and it's minimal compared to what I do share in these posts. (I only do the arm work for the handstands.)

+ The rain during the week was frustrating, but that was just a general life pit.

+ I wish I could have pulled out the other 3 miles today, as it was supposed to be my first long run since RnR. But I know why it didn't happen, and I'm okay with it.

+ My front split—which I had up until I was 18 without an ounce of effort, thanks to starting ballet practically in utero, and then lost when I got lazy in college—is SO CLOSE. I'm only about an inch off the ground now, and closing in on flush to the ground. Almost there!

+ This was my first week of substantial running at all since the whole injury and shoe fiascos. Feels good to be back in action.

+ It finally feels like spring. Runners tan, I'm coming atcha.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Solo Style

I read a New York Time article the other day (it was from 2012, because I'm super quick on the uptake) about how, basically, living alone makes you weird.

I've been living alone since September; prior to that I shared my apartment with roommates and prior to that, I lived with my family. I fully maintain that I was weird well before I had a mailbox with just one name on it, but as I was sitting around re-watching Sex and the City via stolen HBOGO (thanks, Mom) last night, I realized...
I haven't sat on my couch in weeks.

Maybe it was the combination of the NYT article and the landmark episode of SATC where Carrie and the girls share their SSB—secret single behaviors—but it got me to thinking about mine.

Friends will tell you that I do a lot of weird stuff in their company—get on the floor and start stretching or doing yoga in the middle of dead-serious conversations without a trace of irony, inspect and adjust clothing or my hair or makeup in plain view until every bit of my OCD-riddled personality is satisfied, run a Swiffer duster over every inch of hardwood while chatting.

Its true that I have very little shame. There's not a lot I do in private that I'm afraid to do in at least semi-public. And it's also true that I love, love living alone. I rarely feel lonely and I've embraced my SSB. But I have to admit, sometimes I find myself in some kind of a questionable scenario, almost definitely the result of my solo-habitation.

+ I don't really sit on my couch. I sit on a blanket (two shoutouts for Mom today; she made both the blankets in the above picture) and lean against it and create a little nest on the floor. I did not stage this photo one bit; I stood up to put my weights away and chuckled to myself when I turned around and saw this scene. So yeah, own a couch. Use it as a backrest.

+ I take and retake Snapchats a zillion times. Mostly because Jessi always sends me super cute ones and I feel the need to reciprocate in prettiness, and when I'm at home alone after work it's rarely a pretty sight. I'm either sweating, just got done sweating, or am about to head out to sweat. Sure, my place is small, but there's really no reason for me to go from one end of it to the other just to get a mediocre Snap.

+ Also on the mobile front, sometimes I check my Instagram and accidentally end up scrolling back through my own pictures to 2013 and wondering if the "real intention" of the photo comes across to the people who've seen it. I'm insane, you can say it.

+ When I'm feeling froggy and start practicing handstands, I have laughing fits and end up laying on the floor laughing cackling out loud TO MYSELF.

+ Sometimes I realize that 45 minutes to an hour have passed with me standing/kneeling/laying in a position I only intended to be in for 30 seconds—to read a post on reddit, to answer a blog comment, to check the next day's weather—and then got sucked into for any number of unnecessary reasons.

+ I graze on the weirdest shit. A pickle. Ten minutes later, a hard-boiled egg. Fifteen minutes later, a handful of trail mix. Half an hour later, a scoop of peanut butter and a cup of tea. Then a Sourball.

Okay, I can't be the only one. What do the rest of you ladies do when no one's around to call you a weirdo?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Right About Now

Guess what: I'm not going to talk about running in today's post! Or at least not a lot. Not after this intro. Because you probably got enough of that last week. (Unless you're Tracy.) Instead, here's a bit of a non-running life update, because it's been a while...

Reading // Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I haven't been consumed by this yet, but I haven't had much time to read so I'm not very far in. I'm enjoying it and hoping to get really sucked in this week.

Writing // cover letters.

Listening to // We Have Concerns and Hard Out Here by Lily Allen, literally on repeat multiple times a day. How did I only just hear of this song this weekend? It's anthem status.

Watching // Going Clear, the HBO documentary about Scientology that was recently released. I didn't know most of what the docu discussed before viewing, I watched it a few days ago and I'm still thinking about some of what I saw.

Wanting // the weather to be as beautiful as it was Monday (hit 69 degrees! brilliantly sunny!) all week, rather than rainy and cold (again...) like they're forecasting. Spring weather, why have you forsaken us?

Loving // the return of baseball and the boys in blue.

Anticipating // everything.

Practicing // my arm balances in yoga, because my triceps are waving back at me and that's just not going to work for me. Time to tighten up.
Learning // that I'm kinda boring, by the looks of this post. I swear, things are happening over in my corner of the world. But yeah, seems like on paper, I'm kinda boring. I guess I'm okay with that.

What are you up to?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Reluctant Reader's Book List

I love books. I know I'm not alone in that, so I'm not going to pretend that's some great, big, bold claim. But I know there are also plenty out there who have just never really enjoyed reading. And I have to be honest...that breaks my heart. (I'll leave it to Kristen to explain what's so good about the damn things anyway.)

I've been a reader pretty much my whole life, but there always arise periods of time where I just can't settle into a book. Usually this is when work is overwhelming or when I'm feeling really out of touch with myself. When I feel like I need to be brought back into the ring, I can rely on a few favorite titles to remind me of why I love so few things in this life more than settling in with a book.
Here are some of my favorite books that will reach out to even the most reluctant reader and give her a page to call home:

The Jessica Darling Series — There isn't a girl or woman alive who won't find a piece of herself in these novels. Whether Jess is your spirit animal (she has been mine since I first met her when I was 13, but I'll share) or you find yourself in just a few of her ideas or you wish you had a BFF like her or you know you're such a Hope, reading these books is like spending the day in the comfort of a well-worn in friendship. Megan McCafferty writes your witty, snarky, clever, and surprisingly sensitive BFF or alter ego just as you would. And with five novels in the original series, plus two (soon-to-be three) in the prequel series, and an additional short story, your Jess fix will take a while to run out.

Bossypants & Yes Please — Yes, these are two separate and completely distinct titles, but having read both (and having spent the last decade wishing I was this duo's third BFF), I think they work well when read closely to one another. Both are clearly written in the genius and hilarious voices of their authors, both of whom you need only glimpse to admire. They spin the tales we thought we knew with raw and emotional honesty while striking every funny note they possibly can. These memoirs will leave you inspired and hungry, yet satisfied and secure within yourself.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower — If you're a Millennial (or a person who associates with any of them on social media, I'd wager), you've likely heard more lines quoted from this book than you realize. (And in that moment I swear we were infinite.) Its unique (for its genre, for the time—1999) epistolary style serves to sort of mask the narrator, a device that works so well when speaking to a YA audience. But make no mistake: Simply because it's heralded as a YA beacon (and it so is) doesn't mean there isn't something in here for all-grown-up Millennials today. Read it.

My Sister's Keeper — I doubt a lifestyle blogger exists who hasn't heard of Jodi Picoult. Her books are downright incredible, not to mention numerous, and I think everyone I know who enjoys reading has read at least one of hers. My Sister's Keeper is the first one I read and, though not my favorite of all the titles to choose from, it's still wonderful and an easy segue into Jodi's style. You will cry, by the way. Oh and whatever you do, don't watch the Cameron Diaz film "adaptation."

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass — You know the story—right? But maybe not as well as you think. It's a story we've seen reimagined time and time again, but that's part of the fun, I think, of reading the original work. You'll be surprised and delighted (and at points shocked and awed) at the details that inspire characters that you've come to find beloved, and find yourself down a rabbit hole yourself. It's not a child's tale. It's a tale for the ages, and a story for the readers, thinkers, wonderers and dreamers.

Less Than Zero — I'll be straight-up with you: This is not a "feel-good story" or an uplifting read. It's depressing and mind-bending and trippy and scary, in some ways. (Not "boo" scary, but like...existentially scary.) BUT. I think Bret Easton Ellis is a genius, and if you are a fan of American Psycho or The Rules of Attraction, you will too, since he wrote the books that would become those screenplays. The narrative is gripping in its drama, and though you never really catch a moment to settle down, you can disappear here. (Let me know if you get that shameless pun after you read it.)

On the Road — The ultimate for the wanderlusters, the idealists, the admirers of the beats. One of my favorite, favorite, favorite passages of all time (and the only customized bit of information about me on my FB and blogger profiles from, like, five years ago?) is from this text: "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like a fabulous yellow Roman Candle exploding like spiders across the stars..." The story of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise (and Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs, if you prefer) and the Beats will make you yearn for life in a way you haven't before.

Go Ask Alice — It's not an easy read. But it's enthralling. And if nothing else, you'll need to read something uplifting and cheery to pull you out of the emotional pit you'll have spiraled down into by the time you finish reading this, so it'll set you on a reading kick. Okay, that doesn't sound like a glowing review. But each time I've read this book, it's taken me less than two days because it's just too real, raw, and emotional to put away. If this book doesn't make you feel every single bit of what it feels to be human, I don't know what does.

It would be great if I weren't leaving you on such a bummer note, wouldn't it? But I don't want to over-promise. These are titles I truly, truly believe will enthrall even a reluctant reader. And as we're approaching sitting-in-the-sun weather (at least I seriously hope we are...), there's no better time to create—or fall back into—the habit.

What are the books you find yourself recommending to friends? I can always use more recommendations so please share! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Sweats 14

Monday: restorative free flow (20 min)
I slept wayyyy in this morning and took a nap after work. I slept horribly Sunday night—sleep just didn't wanna come find me—and today dragged thanks to it. I managed about 20 minutes of restorative postures before bed...mostly because I didn't have to come up from a reclined position much at all. It's a Monday for sure.

Of course, still no running shoes, but I wouldn't have used them today anyway if I had them. Just really, really hoping they come into my shop in the next few days or I'll have to go elsewhere looking for them.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
OOOOOH GIRL. I love Donna. Smaller class showed up today, so she gave pleeeenty of options for more advanced/challenging poses and I had a field day. Crow > tripod headstand, wild thing/flip dog, bird of paradise, eagle, and a niiiice long camel before the final inversion option. She does such a great job at bringing the class to a positive place for all levels. My coworker M came with me again, and she's new to yoga, and had a great and challenging practice of her own, even leaving out the advanced options. This is how much fun a yoga class should be. (This is how much fun I hope the classes I teach will be, once I get there!)
And my shoes finally arrived today *heart-eye emoji* but no miles were run yet. Not sure timing and daylight will allow me to run tomorrow either, but this week I will be back on the road. Praise!

Wednesday: morning full body flow (20 min)
Happy April 1! Detoxing twists, hip openers and a nice shavasana to start off this new month, courtesy of my fave yogi. (P.S., Erin's running another 21-day Instagram yoga pose challenge! @badyogi if you want to get in on this. Follow me at @alyssagoesbang to see my postures.)

Thursday: hip & hamstring yoga (13 min) + 2.18 mile run
Background: I've had bad knees my whole life. In 2012, I finally had x-rays taken and doc said there's nothing wrong. (Which just meant, apparently, no tumors or fractures.) After 13 months with my chiropractor showing me I actually can live pain-free, I'm done having bad knees. I got the images from 2012 and we looked them over last night...and it basically looks like my legs are built "wrong." My femurs and tibias don't align correctly on my knees, and my right IT band is a disaster zone.

So the shin pain I've always talked about? My various hip flexor issues over the last year? My coming-and-going IT band pain? All make sense after deconstructing the bone alignment. My chiro went Graston on my knees and quads, stimmed my IT bands (literally until my butt was twitching), and basically poked around my outer hips until he found the trigger points. My right side is much worse than my left and I've got some soreness to show for it. This morning, in half cow face my right knee was about 6 inches above my left, whereas I got left side about 4 inches closer. But, it's all a precursor to progress.
In the best news of the week, I finally ran! (Don't tell my chiro, he told me to "give it a couple days" until my body calms. Yeah right, buddy, it was 60 degrees today!) Put a few miles on my new Zealots and just felt so happy to be running, to be out under the warm sun today. My feet felt good, my legs felt good. Life is good.

Friday: rest
I've slept like hell all week. Last night included. No a.m. yoga today—my eyes didn't want to open. Had intentions to run after work, but I needed a nap more. Plus, my chiro's aggressive hip/quad/knee work really caught up to me today, and I was moving like Frankenstein, so I heeded his advice to let my body calm. Besides some patches of yoga stretches here and there between work and hitting the road for a weekend adventure, today was kind of a wash.

Saturday & Sunday: rest
Well. I was in Atlantic City all weekend (where no healthy choices are ever made), and then frantically rushing out the door to my aunt's house for Easter festivities as soon as we got home this morning and showered, so not a whole lot of sweating happened. I got some stretches in yesterday and today, but not enough for me to be satisfied calling it a yoga practice. Miles will hopefully resume tomorrow: every inch of my right leg from hip to knee went absolutely haywire yesterday, so I guess I should have taken doctor's orders before running the other day. Live and learn.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 1 // 2.18 miles
Yoga: 4 // 128 minutes

I'm glad I finally asked my chiro to take a look at these images. This was just kind of the last thing left to deconstruct—the last real "problem area" that hasn't seen any improvement. I'm really lucky to have such a great doc who's willing to go the extra mile for me and really pull me apart to put me back together the right way. So it comes down to this: I'm not going to stop running (I got teary at the brief, fleeting thought), but if I don't stay on top of this with chiro work and/or PT, that decision isn't going to be up to me anymore after another couple of training cycles. The Graston work helped my knees tremendously, but that's a short-term solution.

In running reflections, all I got is this: *hands praising emoji* x 100 that I'm able to run again.

I should probably be more unsettled by those three rest days in a row, but a) we walked a good few miles yesterday, so that's something, and b) it was a really fun weekend, and I needed it. So there.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Good Year

In case you haven't heard, which must mean you haven't been around my blog or Twitter or Instagram in a week or so, because I haven't shut up about it because I talk about my birthday for much longer than actually appropriate, this past Sunday was my birthday. I turned 26. I am now basically 30, according to my boss.

I stopped getting depressed about my birthday a few years ago, but I definitely got freaked out about turning 25. (Then I went ahead and turned 25 and all was good, but that's neither here nor there.) I must admit, I had...weirdness about turning 26. I wasn't freaked out (and I didn't have a whole "omg I'm 26 and single my clock is ticking babies marriage omg" episode, luckily) but I did have a weird moment of acknowledging that, yes, I'm closer to 30 than I am to 20.

That's not a bad thing. But it is a thing. I've almost spent more years as a college graduate than I did as a college student. I have a savings account and an IRA and political leanings and a voting record. I get up early on Saturday mornings to clean my apartment and eat a well-balanced breakfast. I donate to charity and check my credit score. All marks of adulthood, by most navel-gazing Millennials-with-blogs' standards. (Make no mistake, I firmly understand my own membership of this group.)

But I'm not really having an "Oh, I guess I'm an adult now" thing. Because those things I've just mentioned? They didn't just start on Monday; I've been at this "adulting" thing for a while. I've kind of never not felt like an adult. I take care of myself and I always have.

I think what's different about this year, this birthday, is that it's much more conceivable now that the rest of the world also sees me as an adult. By that I mostly mean my grandparents and potential job interviewers. And that's kind of an awesome feeling. If nothing else, it offers me a simple defense when those who do so launch into a condescending tirade about my not knowing anything about anything. I've been a member of the Real World long enough to know a thing or two about a thing or two, and maybe now at 26 some other people will start to trust me on that too. And yet, there'll always be someone dismissing anyone even a minute younger than them as "full of piss and vinegar" or casting some other disparaging judgment.

But enough about this tangent I didn't mean to get on. I did have a point, I swear.
So, 25 was the best year of my twenties so far. But I'm not here to rest on my laurels—as I've made bold claim to already. This year, 26, is going to be just as positive and filled with wonderful things as last year. I'm committed to keeping this good thing going. Here's how it's gonna go down:

I will run a marathon. Old me would have been grossly hesitant to write this so surely. Last year, my mind was made up about an October half marathon (my first!) as early as June, and it still took me until September to register and make it official. But 26-year-old Me is ready to yell it from the rooftops: This year I'll run 26.2 miles. I'll take these legs from 0 to marathon in less than two years. Holy. Moly.

I will train to be a yoga teacher. Finally, after years of wanting to and months of trying to figure out if I was ready to commit, I am. My program doesn't begin till the fall, but this year I will start my journey toward yoga teaching credentials. This won't lead to a full-time career change, as it's super hard to make a living just off teaching classes. But we can talk details once I'm through the program. It's a five-month training, consisting of full-day classes once a week. (Other programs are much shorter, if you have the benefit of, ya know, not having to work during the week.) I'm already thinking of a blog series about it—would you be interested?

I will go to Wanderlust Yoga Festival. I first heard of Wanderlust last year, and have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to attend to come around. I haven’t made any purchases or reservations yet, but I’m going. This will be my first immersion yoga retreat, and it will be amazing. Some of my favorite yogis, the slacklining pair of awesome behind the Yoga Slackers Instagram account, will be there, along with some other high-fallutin yogis and meditation leaders and musicians. I. can. not. wait.

I will make a trip to the Pacific Northwest. This is the only one that still has a trace of tentativeness, but for reasons that I'm not sure will even exist. So if all goes right, I will finally get my Jersey Girl rear end to Seattle and Portland (clear off the couch, Jessi!) this year, to see two cities I’ve wanted to experience for oh so very long.

I will make a big change. It's coming. It's in the air. Yes, I talked quite a bit the other day about growing, not changing, but...there's still one thing left in my life that needs, let's say, freshening. I don’t know when it will come, but it will. I don’t know what exactly it will look like, but it will look good. Something big and beautiful is in the air. Hello, gorgeous.

What's your favorite memory from when you were 26? Any words of wisdom?
And what are you looking forward to in this year of your life?