Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And So it Begins

There's something I need you guys to know about me: I make a big deal out of little things. I remember more "anniversaries" than most people would find normal. I mark occasions that seem meaningless to others, and celebrate them—or at least acknowledge them—in my own way.

This has never been more true than in my running career. (Which started on December 26, 2013, and no, I didn't have to look that date up.) So even though I've been thinking about the marathon and talking about it for more than six months, it is only now that I can officially say it's official.

I'm registered for the City of Oaks Marathon this November. I've put my money on the damn thing; it's for real now. And as of yesterday, I am following a marathon training plan and can say without hesitation, I am training to run my first marathon.

For those who don't know, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Training for the marathon is probably going to be the single most physically challenging experience of my life to date. My daily routine, eating habits, hydrating habits, running recovery, cross-training, and rest time will all change dramatically over the next 18 weeks. I will run more miles in some weeks than I've run in some months. 

In part, I know what to expect. I am friends with marathoners, and have been doing research since the day this thought first entered my head. I've picked people's brains, learned my body, and even gone halfway there three times. I've been preparing for training since mid-May. But this is about to be a whole 'nother kettle of fish, as my mother would say.

Here's my 18-week training plan for the marathon:
Now I know I'm a novice, but I'm going in with a few ground rules I've set for myself:

1. Stick to the training program. I mean, duh, right? This one's obvious. The marathon is a completely different beast than the half, and I need the guidance of this training plan to feel confident—let alone capable—on race day. I will not promise that all runs will be done on these exact days, as I do have weather, work, and a social calendar to factor in. But by Sunday evening, all these weekly prescribed miles need to be run.

2. Take yoga class every week. I do yoga most mornings before work, as you know if you read my Sunday Sweats posts. I take class on Tuesdays, and it's a much different practice than my 10-20 minute pre-work workout. Those short practices are incredibly valuable, but my 75-minute guided practice is where a lot of the healing from my long run happens. Keeping this in the rotation shouldn't be a problem, thankfully.

3. Don't be stupid. I'll be doing the majority of my training in the height of a New Jersey summer. For those of you who have never experienced the Garden State in July, let me brief you: 100º and 85%+ humidity is not a rarity on a July day. Even after sundown the temps can stay in the upper 80s—just last week I set out around 8 p.m. and the temperature was 85º. This will add an extra layer of challenge to the distances I'll be running for the first time in my life. I need to be smart about nutrition, hydration, dress, and recovery.

4. Don't be cocky. I have this bad habit of sometimes comparing myself to other people, like a lot of us do. Sometimes I look at runners like my cohost Tracy and think I can push my body to the places she sends hers. Sometimes, I can. A lot of times, I can't. And pushing myself into a place where I may become injured or overtired or burnt out isn't a part of the training plan. There's a fine line between pushing your mental limits and being an idiot, and I need to get real comfy in that space. We do not have time for a physical setback.

5. Don't stop. I'm going to place an unwinnable bet here at the beginning: I'm going to say "I can't do this" (or some variation) roughly 876 times over the next couple months. Sitting here with a clear head, I know that I can. I also know that it will take every ounce of physical strength I have sometimes, and every ounce of mental strength other times. I know I will want to quit on some of these runs, and I'll convince myself that this was the dumbest idea I've ever had. Who trains for a marathon after a year and a half of running? Apparently, I do. Because I can, no matter how many times over the next 18 weeks I try to convince myself of the opposite.

I can't be clear enough about this: I honestly have no idea how these next 18 weeks are going to look and feel. With my plan and mental preparation, I feel as prepared as I possibly can be, but that says nothing of all the loops I'm about to be thrown for. Here we go, I guess...

Marathoners, what is your best piece of advice for marathon training?
What should I watch out for?
__________________________

As for the rest of you, what are you training for right now? Or how's your current fitness plan going? What are your recent wins/losses? Just because I'm talking marathon doesn't mean all goals of all sizes aren't welcome here. We want to hear about whatever's on your radar! Grab a button and link up below.

And hey, don't forget to hop around to some of the other fantastic bloggers linking up today and say hi, or offer a high five or some words of wisdom or support. Never underestimate the effect a virtual friend's encouragement can have! Let's make this the best fitness community on the blogosphere.  :)
alyssagoesbang

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Sweats 26

June 22–28

This week marks the last one where I'm not "officially" in marathon training—meaning, I'm in marathon mode, but my mileage is still a bit moveable as I'm not yet following my training plan. I'm real big on official and unofficial delineations, if you couldn't yet tell. ;)

Monday: 4.01 mile run (9:58 pace) + free flow (22 minutes)
Whooo, this was a hot one. Even at 8 p.m. with the sun well hidden behind the trees and up-mountain houses. I broke a 10 minute pace by the skin of my teeth, but at least I didn't stop every time my (excessively sweating) body asked me to. #demandmore, right Trace?

I did the smart thing and got my heart really pumping before bed with some challenging poses, because smart. I tackled arm balances, headstand/balance transitions, and holding handstand. It gets longer and stronger every time! (Note: significant difference in my handstand practice when I'm thoroughly warmed up and have inverted previously in the practice—just FYI for anyone working on this too.) :)

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 minutes)
I've mentioned that I prefer traditional vinyasa flow yoga over hot, because I just really have no need to turn the heat up, and I honestly find some hot yogis theorizing (ahem, pontificating) kind of silly (not that I'm judging, I just don't align in that thinking). So I take Donna's non-hot class and still work up plenty of a sweat, because vinyasa ain't easy. Tonight, our small class brought the temp of our huge studio to well over 100 degrees. It was in the 90s outside and SO humid—we were waiting for insane thunderstorms all damn day—and I was literally dripping sweat the whole class. (One at a time, fellas.) I love when people say they don't see any exercise benefit of yoga...

Wednesday: Hatha hip yoga (14 min) + 3 mile run (9:26 pace)
YouTube recommended this yogi for me, so I gave it a try. It wasn't really anything special, but a good pre- or post-run stretch that I'll probably come back to over the next few months as I train.

My pace doesn't show it really, but this felt pretty challenging. I ran a brand new, never-before-touched route, because I'm going to need to expand my routes a bit as I build to the high teens and 20s for those long runs. Maybe not knowing what to expect made it feel more laborious? That, and the fact that I think I ate too close to setting out, because I got a left side stitch like a minute in that lessened a little bit but refused to quit the whole run. Can't win 'em all, but I'm on a good streak *knock on wood* so I'm not complaining.

Thursday: low back & hip yoga (14 min)
This weekend I'm going to spend a LOT of time standing—on hard grass, on asphalt—which means hell for my back if I don't pay attention. I haven't done this particular low back video in a long time, but it's a good one! And I'm trying to beat the potential back pain before it reaches me.

Friday: nada
Real talk, I was going to run 6 miles today before I left for another out-of-town weekend, but I spent too much time celebrating the SCOTUS decision and excitedly shrieking with friends and I ran out of time to run before I had to leave (and my timetable was immovable), and I don't even care. Love won.

Saturday: nope
I walked a good bit yesterday and today, and stood for several hours for both nights of my annual tradition of seeing Dave Matthews Band's two shows this weekend. Buutttt that's about it.

Sunday: nothing
We got drenched during last night's tailgate and concert (we stood in the rain from 3:30 to about 11:30 p.m.) and my body just ached today from the last two nights. Then I had to drive home from Philly. And as I type this it's 7:52 and I just woke up from a nap I accidentally took while watching House of Cards. Tomorrow, the madness begins.


Weekly Totals
Running: 7.01 miles
Yoga: 125 minutes

Don't forget, this Tuesday is the next Training for Tuesday linkup with my amazing cohost Tracy and myself! Get the scoop on it and grab your button here. We can't wait to see your posts!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Minimalish: A 30-day Challenge

Some time ago, in some place in the magical Internet land (I think it was Reddit...), I found a 30-day minimalism challenge. And I've been sitting on this link for a long time, waiting for "the right time" to take the challenge. Lucky for you and for this blog, that time has come!

Over the month of July, I'll be taking one of these items per day on. Now, I'm not exactly a minimalist in as much as I only own 100 things or have a capsule wardrobe or have no decorative elements to my home. But I am "minimalish," I like to put it, in as much as I don't own anything I don't have use for, need, or treasure tremendously. I like to declutter all areas of my life—belongings, wardrobe, cyber world—frequently, but I'm certain there's more I can be doing to get rid of the excess and more deeply appreciate the things I value most.

That's where this challenge comes in.

Now, I know that July has 31 days and this challenge has only 30 items, but a) I don't feel like waiting until September and b) I will be traveling some in July, so at least one day this month will not be conducive to tackling an item on this list.

As well, I'll be doing these out of order, because it's a busy month! I have some of these items already "assigned" to certain days, and other days I will just pick something off the list and attempt to do it that day.

What do I hope to get out of this?

Well, I hope this challenge will help me in my mission of minimalish. The goal of minimalism—for me, and others, but I'll only speak for myself here—is to remove distractions so that the things that are important in life are able to shine. So that I can worry less about things that don't matter and think and ponder more on the things that do.

In this challenge, I hope to just further that personal goal a little bit more, and hopefully find some areas of my life that can be a little bit less cluttered, disjointed, or conflicted.

The 30-day Minimalism Challenge

chart via into-mind.com
  1. Stay offline for one day
  2. Meditate for 15 minutes
  3. Declutter your digital life
  4. No-complaint day
  5. Identify your three to six main priorities
  6. Follow a morning ritual
  7. Streamline your reading list
  8. Learn to enjoy solitude
  9. Downsize your beauty collection
  10. No email or social media until lunch
  11. Evaluate your commitments
  12. Define your goals for the year
  13. Clean out your closet
  14. Take a step toward learning a new skill
  15. Examine your daily habits
  16. Don't buy anything for 24 hours
  17. Practice single-tasking
  18. Unfollow and unfriend
  19. Go for a walk and practice mindfulness
  20. No TV all day, read instead
  21. Journal for 20 minutes
  22. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
  23. Go bare-faced
  24. Practice gratitude
  25. Leave a whole day unplanned
  26. Identify your stress triggers
  27. Clear our your junk drawer
  28. Let go of a goal
  29. Turn off notifications
  30. Evaluate your last five purchases
Before I even start, I can see some that are going to be really challenging (particularly #10...) and some that are kind of already done (#s 5, 6, 8, 13, 22, 28). I'm going to do my best to complete them anyway. It doesn't hurt to give the closet an extra sweep, and check in and make sure I'm not still holding onto goals I don't really have any attachment to anymore. (Side note, I did this a few months ago and hacked four or five goals off my 2015 list, because I had only written them for the sake of filling space, and they didn't actually help my personal intentions. It felt awesome.)

I'll be keeping track, of course, and will update this post after the end of the month. Let's see if this works! 
Does anyone feel like joining me?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

People Don't Change

"People don't change." Agree or disagree?

I often hear people condemn others I or they have known like this: "People don't change." This is usually used to say an addict will always use, a cheater will always cheat, an alcoholic will always drink. A privileged person will never learn compassion, an airhead will never find grounding, a misanthrope will never find kindreds. It's fancified in idioms casually offered in conversation: You can't teach an old dog new tricks. A leopard won't change his spots.

"People don't change." But...of course they do; what a ridiculous thing to say. I have a feeling a lot of people who say this mean either a) someone hasn't changed enough for my liking/I haven't seen change I want to see (probably just not a person for you then—people shouldn't be tofu); or b) I don't have to/shouldn't be expected to change, so just be happy with what I am and don't expect any growth or learning or evolution to take place here.

Of course people change. It's such a thoughtless expression, I think, and one that is just kind of an echo or refrain that the singers spend little (or no) time really considering before proclaiming. It's like saying the mountains don't change.

Hear me out. Over the years, weather, forest fires, floods, and human hikers and campers leave their influence all over the mountain, changing its look, terrain, makeup. Sure, the mountain is still the mountain though. And the person is still the person. But that doesn't mean change isn't taking place, or can't take place, or that we're doomed to remain as we began.

Some things about me that remain unchanged: I was born on March 29, 1989. I am a female. I have parents and siblings; I am the middle one. I am highly sensitive. I am on the short and petite side. I am just slightly more extroverted than introverted. I like to read. I like to write. I like to make people feel good and happy. I feel others' hurt tremendously, and my own much more deeply than I would like.

These things may seem trivial, but they're not. They make me me, the person. They are my mountain.

But there is so, so much else about me that is new. That has changed. That has evolved. That has become part of my current personality over the course of years of influence and experience. That alters the way I talk to people, think about people, regard people. Regard myself. I have changed in mannerisms, how I spend my time. How I spend my money. How I hope to spend my life. The people and influences I spend my time with. How I feel about my path in life, and what I think that path is. My purpose, my intentions, my desires.

All these things change, and by them doing so, I change. Alyssa, the person, the mountain, remains, but the terrain doesn't. I think that's an important point to make, in that it proves that a person is changing rather than becoming a new person. (Is that what people who say "People don't change" mean? Are they really objecting to the fact that a person can't become a brand new one on someone's whim?) I am still some foundational pieces of who I've been for the majority of my 26 years. But without even making a sweeping declaration or facing down the barrel of a gun and realizing a need to change, I did. Because that's what life is. A constant rotation of thoughts, of knowledge, of experiences, that all have the power to alter you deeply and profoundly. Maybe the difference is willingness to give into that power.

I don't hold myself up as the only example. I've seen alcoholics and addicts become sober. I've seen the inverse, too. I've seen absent parents become involved ones. I've seen wrongdoers seek redemption. I've seen cheaters commit for life. I've seen flunkies in grad caps and gowns. I've seen plenty of people change for the better, and for the worse. I've seen people change their minds in important and meaningful ways on important and meaningful issues as they catch up to a level of education and experience they once couldn't fathom.

Life should be marked by a constant series of changes and tweaks, because there's no end-point. Or there shouldn't be. You don't change until you become what you should've been and then call it a day. Think of all the kitchens that would still be filled with mustard-yellow or avocado-green appliances if that were the case! No, you keep changing with the world around you. Or, as the expressions go, you get left behind. And that's an important distinction to make too: People can change. Some people just won't, or are afraid to, or don't know how to. Don't make all people suffer from this criticism because of one person on your journey who refused to participate in this beautiful act of growth.

So can we please stop reducing people to an idiom, or dismissing effort and thought and analysis with a simple, "People don't change"? It's lazy, and it's untrue. And it's a way of allowing yourself to hold onto a grudge that doesn't serve you. It's a way to let yourself off the hook of finding space in your heart to forgive someone, or of hearing an apology or explanation, of looking past something painful to the potential of something better just ahead of it. People can change. And if they're trying to, let them.

And if you really don't believe that people can change, let me ask: Haven't you ever changed, even just once? If you haven't, I really, really recommend it.

_______________________________

This word salad brought to you by some really jumbly thoughts in my head, and a podcast 
I was listening to the other morning—I can't remember which—that held this maxim as truth.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Time For a Check Up

My birthday is at an interesting time of year. Or at least, I've made some significance of it, considering, ya know, it's been my birthday for well over 20 years now. My birthday is March 29. It's a week after the first day of spring, just when the seasons are starting to really transition and the world almost feels like a new place. It's near enough to the start of the calendar year that I can usually measure memories of ages by calendar years, too.

As I've discussed here on the blog before, I don't really make New Years Resolutions—at least, not on January 1. I will always see September and the start of fall as the time for renewal, and that's where I (if ever) make sweeping declarations of promises to change.

I do, however, make yearly goals. (And seasonal goals, and monthly goals, and weekly goals. What can I say, I like writing lists and I like crossing items off them.) And I like to plan ahead for big things in the coming [insert time period here]. And after noticing that 2014 had a very distinct theme for my life—change—I decided to be intentional about that concept in 2015.

As we're halfway through 2015, and a quarter way through my 27th year on earth, I thought it might be a good time to check in on those promises I made for myself as I embarked upon these new-year benchmarks.
For 2015...

I decided that this would be my year of adventure. I had gotten into such a habit of saying I wanted to do this or would love to do that, and never made any actual plans or saw about doing any of it. Of course, I am limited: traveling costs money, and it's not always easy to take time off work when you're a single-person department, and travel companions can be hard to come by.

But I decided I wanted to experience something new, adventurous, exciting, or different every month—that would be my best attempt to push myself into new things and encourage me to commit to some travel plans that have long been pipe dreams.

So how am I doing?

In six months, I've traveled the 15 miles into NYC more times than I can count (I literally live in the perfect place), to Washington, D.C. for the third time in my life and Georgetown for the first, and to West Virginia, to add another state to the list of ones I've visited. I've seen several plays, all for the first time. I've tried new restaurants, met blogger buddies, gone on a yoga retreat, and participated in a once-in-a-lifetime event: Summer Solstice Yoga in Times Square on the first ever International Day of Yoga. I've run races in new places, hosted a houseguest (a feat in my little studio), I've "done" AC, I've skipped a day of work in favor of the beach.

All final plans aren't even in place, but the next six months are filling up quickly. We've got two weekends in Philly, one in Delaware, two in Virginia, two in North Carolina, and hopefully one in Cape Cod all coming down the pike.

So far, every month I've been able to say I've done or seen something new. Not too shabby.

(Also, I hope you know me well enough that I don't have to say this, but I want to anyway: I know many of my friends and peers here in blogland are taking or planning much grander vacations than mine—exploring Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and ever more exotic and amazing places. And I know there are still many who will be lucky to take a long weekend off work even for a staycation this year. I don't mean to make anyone feel bad (or superior) with talks of my modest travels, and I hope you all know I never mean to say, "Look at me! Be impressed by how I'm spending my summer!" I just love sharing my life with you guys. Besides, no one has travel tips and recommendations like bloggers do, so I'm really just hoping to walk away with some free advice ;))

For my 27th year...

I went a step further and actually did as much as indicate specific things I wanted to do following this past birthday. You can call them goals, you can call them bucket list items, you can call them plans. I'm not sure how to categorize these things I wrote about, but let's take a look at how I'm doing:
  • Run a marathon. This is as solidly in progress as it can possibly be at this point. I am registered for a November marathon, am working through the last week of "preparing to prepare," and am starting my official training plan on Monday. This. is. happening. (P.S., don't forget to link up next Tuesday, where we can talk more about our fitness & health goals for this month!)
  • Train to be a yoga teacher. Also registered, also ready and raring to go! I have to wait until the fall to begin training, as that's the first time in 2015 a weekend-only session will be offered (and homegirl just can't take two full days a week off of work). I cannot wait for this!
  • Go to Wanderlust. CHECK! If you missed it, I recapped this incredible experience here. It was everything I wanted it to be and so much more—I'm already looking forward to next year's event!
  • Visit the Pacific Northwest. I may be stalling out on this one. The plan was always to go in September, but depending on the next item (I'll be there momentarily), this may have to table again until 2016. I really don't want to put this trip off for another year—I've been looking forward to planning it since last year or earlier!—but the thing that might prevent me from being able to take it is just more important than it, and I may have to make a decision I don't really want to make. Such is adulthood.
  • Make a big change. I am working—my hardest—on it. Unfortunately, my efforts only count for 50% of this actually happening. I apologize for being vague, but a) I think most of you can figure out what I'm talking about pretty easily and b) I have to for now. 
Three months in and one done, two in progress, two TBD? Not bad, if I do say so.

The thing about goals is that they don't do anything unless you check in on them every now and then. You can't set a goal in January, forget about it til December and then wonder why you didn't accomplish it. I'm as diligent about tracking my goals and to-dos as I am about setting them to begin with. It's served me pretty well, I have to say.

What about you? If you set goals for 2015, how are you doing at the halfway point?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Sweats 25

June 15–21

Monday: too lazy too busy rest
Morning: Out of my apartment at the time I'm usually waking up (early meeting), after a night of no more than 75 consecutive minutes of sleep at a time (thunderstorms + insomnia), so no yoga. Ugh.
Evening: Had to conduct an interview for a piece I'm writing and go grocery shopping and oh by the by it's pouring down rain and supposed to continue all week. Didn't even get around to eating dinner til after 8 p.m., so no run. Sigh. Does 20 minutes of legs up the wall while reading before bed count?

Tuesday: 4 mile run (9:20 pace)
I didn't do yoga in the morning because I planned to take Donna's class tonight, but decided later that I HAD TO RUN today (more on that later) and wanted to take Donna's first class at the new studio (well, a new location of the same studio—we have options, yay!) tomorrow, so no a.m. yoga workout.

It's the time of year where I'll asterisk every run with the current temp/humidity/dew point to put the effort into context. Sure, 78º isn't too bad. But when it's 90% humidity and 71º dew point, even a perfect 55º day would be like slogging through a sand dune. Miles earned are miles earned, and I wouldn't have skipped tonight's for anything.
Wednesday: studio yoga class (75 minutes)
The new location is absolutely beeeautiful. And. AND! Kelly, the YTT (yoga teacher training) instructor who taught and certified my darling Donna, and who will be teaching me come November, took tonight's class! And practiced right next to me! And complimented my practice! It was our first meeting and it was so, so wonderful to finally meet her after emailing back and forth for months. I'm even more amped for YTT now than I was before.

Thursday: high full body free flow (14 minutes)
This morning I awoke to a text from my cousin asking if she's too old (30!) and inflexible to start yoga. You guys know what I said to her. So after excitedly texting about Skype yoga classes and thinking about some sequences that would suit her needs, I free flowed them right away to take video. Perfect rainy morning jolt!

Friday: body flexibility free flow (14 minutes) + 3 mile run (8:58 pace)
I felt like the Tin Man today—possibly thanks to my first visit in a month to my chiropractor last night, which definitely blew my body up. I moved slow but managed to hit some spinal twists, hamstring stretches, and hip and IT band work. I ran right after work—read: under the sun—and still somehow managed a sub-9 pace. The miracle of "only" 81º and 53% humidity, I suppose ;)

Saturday: 6 mile run (9:29 pace)
First three miles of this run were in the rain, about 65º, and it wasn't bad. No rain could ever top RnR, and the coolness felt nice. I decided to run up a grossly steep hill I've never touched before, because I'm a glutton for punishment, plus a few smaller and familiar hills so mile one was 10:06. The rest came in nicely around 9:30, and I somehow pulled off 8:26 for the last mile. It was challenging, but overall my body felt better—and my chest felt WAY better—than on yesterday's run.
Huge thanks to sponsor Athleta for the swag, including this gorgeous (and SO comfy!) mat!
Sunday: Bikram yoga (90 minutes)
If you're not familiar, Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures. (More on Bikram here.) Until today, I was familiar but had never practiced Bikram, but that all changed at Solstice Times Square, on International Yoga Day, with thousands of other adventurous yogis, INCLUDING fellow blogger/Jersey girl/yogi Michael, on the summer solstice. I loved Bikram yoga more than I thought I would (though I'm not trading my Vinyasa in for a Bikram practice just yet ;)), we had absolutely PERFECT first-day-of-summer weather, and all these yogis in unison was a sight to see—and one I won't soon forget.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 13 miles
Yoga: 193 minutes

Reflections

The Marathon
You guys, I don't pretend to have explanations for why my mind works the way it does. Just indulge me...
I've been thinking about it for months. I first blogged about it in January. It had been decided. But on Tuesday, it became a real thing. I registered for the City of Oaks marathon—my first 26.2—on November 1. Yes, this has been "a thing" for a while. But now I've put my money on it. It's official. I'm doing this! In a very ceremonious and typically "us" fashion, Tracy and I registered for our biggest races this year of our lives so far (to say the least) while texting each other things like "OH MY GOD" and "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" and other really mature reactions.

International Yoga Day
This was another really profound experience—right on the heels of Wanderlust, how lucky am I. The U.N. has declared today, the longest day of the year, the International Day of Yoga, honoring what's affectionately called "India's gift to the world." I've done what I can to try to explain here what my asana practice means to me, but I don't think words can really capture it. Being in Times Square for this event (more than a decade old) in the presence of the day's founders, with 18,000 yogis from all walks of life, celebrating solstice and celebrating life by uniting in our yoga practice...it was surreal. And beautiful. And amazing. My heart is so full.
________________________________

Oh and hey, reminder: just over a week until the next chance to link up with Tracy and me (and the rest of this amazing group we've got going on here!) for Training for Tuesday! I know my cohost and I will be writing some pretty, let's say, significant posts this time around. What will you be sharing? We want to hear all about however you're testing yourself, challenging your limits, and crushing those goals. Grab a button and peep the guidelines here and we'll see you on June 30th!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Past Few Days

I've known for a few months now that June was going to be my busiest month of 2015 thus far. Just over halfway into it, it's become even busier and jam-packed than I thought—and I am not complaining! Despite what seems like an endless rain and thunderstorm, the past few weekends have been the most fun and I've had the great pleasure of crossing several items off several goal lists.

I don't generally like weekend recaps (sorry!), but I want to share some "life lately" updates and things that have had me grinning ear-to-ear lately.

You all know I kicked off the month with a weekend road trip to West Virginia (my first time in the state; a check-mark on my goal to visit all 50 states) where I met up with Tracy for two days of Wanderlust (a yoga retreat was on my 2015 goal list too). Read my recap here and Tracy's recap here, in case you missed them.
Snowshoe, West Virginia
It took a bit to get back on schedule upon my return (an immediate beach day certainly didn't help my reemergence into "real life" after the 16-hour round trip drive), and the following weekend was just as busy.
Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Oh, but in between, there was a bit of a scandal around these parts. Update: I emailed the blog author, who then apologized for copying my post (which, I assure you, was blatant) and took it down. Within a few hours, the entire blog and all connected social media accounts were deleted too, and I got another email suggesting that someone was catfished in the process. Not sure what really happened, but thanks to everyone for being supportive and offering your advice and two cents. That was a weird one....

Anyway, then on Friday, two friends and I went into the city to catch Fun Home on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Confession: this is only the second show I've seen on Broadway (the first was Kiss Me Kate, a 50th anniversary gift to my grandparents 15 years ago), despite my closeness to the city and my love for musicals. In case you aren't familiar, Fun Home is an adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel memoir of the same name. And if you aren't familiar with Alison Bechdel, please change that.
Train station life / pre-show drink life / pre-show snapchat life
Something pretty crazy happened to us at the show too. We had purchased cheap seats, because the theater seemed to be pretty small and there didn't look to be a bad one in the house. We were in the last row of the stadium-style, 360-degree theater, about 20 rows up (if I had to guess) from the stage floor. Guess who got upgraded to literally front row center? Like, my friend and I had to pull our legs in because we almost tripped the actors at one point.
No really, that's the stage. Right there.
This was an emotional, beautiful show. Compounded by the fact that it literally just won the Tony award for Best Musical, and we were seeing it during Pride Month, and in such prime seats—we could see every emotion, every expression on the actors' faces during the 100-minute performance—it was really an incredible and special experience. I cried a lot. But I'm a crier, so take that into account.
Selfie game strong
The next day, we were upstate for my coworker's wedding. I've been to and been a part of my share of weddings, and this was probably the most fun time I've had at one. In the company of lovely friends, on an absolutely gorgeous day atop a mountain, with amazing food, unique and quirky details, lawn games, and a DJ who really knows what's up, how could it not be a blast? The wedding was held on a horse farm in Upstate New York, and a pretty good portion of the guests (including the bride and groom, and my friends and I) camped out on the farm/venue grounds afterwards.
Double tree in the middle of cocktail hour because #badyogisdoit
We don't have to talk about how I basically slept all the next day—after the two-hour drive home.

This all just makes me love the place I love even more. My proximity to all sorts of places to do amazing, fun, unique things in and around New Jersey is something I'll never get tired of, and hopefully never take for granted.

What have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Your First Studio Class: Five Tips for New Yogis

Yesterday I was hosted by my dear friend Kristen, who's off galavanting all over Europe like the lucky dog she is. (In all seriousness, I'm green with envy over her amazing trip, but I hope she's having an amazing time!) She let me take over her space to chat about yoga, and I took the opportunity to be obnoxiously sarcastic, write a list, and talk about yoga...three of my favorite things!

In case you missed it, go check it out here! I'll wait.

Welcome back! Now, in case it wasn't painfully obvious, that whole list was completely sarcastic. But for new yogis and wannabe yogis and yogis just stepping out of home practice and into a studio space, I want to really set the record straight. Here's the flipside to yesterday's post, and five tips for yoga students new to studio classes:

(For Real This Time)

1. What to bring: Yoga is a workout. Of course, different types of classes will include different levels of sweat. But it's always a good idea to bring a water bottle to sip on, even if you just need an excuse to take a short break or regain your focus. If you know you sweat quite a bit, feel free to bring a hand towel to dab your face with or keep your hands from sliding around the mat. Besides that, you may see a number of different props in a yoga studio, aside from mats: straps help to be where your hands can't always be when working on flexibility; blocks help bring the ground closer to your body when you can't quite get there; blankets and bolsters may be used in restorative classes to add pressure in meditation or support under the back, knees, shoulders, etc.

A studio will most likely have blocks for students, but if you know you need them and it's your first time at a studio, it doesn't hurt to bring your own. Don't let any of these props intimidate you. There's always a modification if you don't have access to them!

2. Prepare to disconnect: How often throughout your day are you solely and 100% focused (physically) on the thing you are doing? Probably not very often. We multitask while we're working, eating, even driving to and from work. Aside from maybe being in the shower, yoga is the only part of my day where I'm not checking my phone, balancing two things in my hands and ten in my mind, or making a list. Use your class to unplug from the day and be present. This doesn't mean if you can't "clear your mind" (a complete misnomer; ask any yogi!) you're doing something wrong. But even attempting to let go and dismiss thoughts or concerns you don't need while on the mat is a crucial and a great benefit of your practice.

And on top of that, your instructor will (hopefully) give you crucial guidance through each and every pose. He/she will give instructions on pranayama, offer variations you're not sure of, and explain what the purpose is of the pose you're in or moving into. You'll miss so much of the value of your class if you don't let yourself receive every part of it—so get your money's worth!

3. Keep your eyes on your own paper: Don't worry about what anyone else—other than your instructor—is doing. No one is looking at you to judge what you're doing, so no need to do so either. You may be tempted to peek at your neighbor to make sure you understand what the instructor said if you zoned out for a second, but it's generally best to keep your eyes on your own paper. Your neighbors may be doing fuller or lesser expressions of the pose than you are, and that's A-OK. Tune in to what your instructor is saying and demonstrating, and let her/him be the one to correct your alignment or posture if you need a little guidance. That is literally exactly what they are there for. Your classmates are there for their own reasons that you may not and don't need to know.

4. What to wear: Wear comfortable, moveable, form-fitting clothing. You may feel self-conscious walking around in leggings and a skin-tight tank, but a yoga class is not the place to worry about whether or not leggings are pants. The last thing you want during your practice is for all that excess fabric to make you feel overheated, or get in the way of your downward facing dog step-through. Baggy t-shirts and wide-ankle sweatpants are great for lounging on the couch, but they'll be more trouble than they're worth in a yoga class. Keep with tight leggings or cropped pants, a supportive sports bra, and a tank top that will stay put. And you'll be taking class barefoot, so shoes that are easy to slip on and off make for fewer traffic jams outside the studio doors!

5. Stay for the best part: This is the part I find myself talking with yoga beginners about most often. People say frequently that they aren't good at yoga because they can't shut off their minds. Spoiler alert: no one can. That's not a thing. Trying to quiet your mind is really, really challenging, and even if you don't fully get there, the pursuit is rewarding in and of itself. To borrow from my instructor, consider this: You can't stop the thoughts from coming to your mind—not most of the time, at least. But a good guided meditation can bring you to a really relaxing place where you can say to those intrusive thoughts, "I see you, I acknowledge you, but you do not serve me right now or require my attention. I will come back to you later," and let them go for a few minutes. The best part about end-of-class meditation? In a good class, that exchange of energy seems to fill the air, and your neighbors can enhance and elevate your shavasana.

And as much as it can benefit you, you want to be a good classmate. Packing up and heading out while everyone else is trying to enjoy their few minutes of silence and solitude is disruptive and rude. You don't want to cap off your class experience that way. Wait until your teacher brings the class out of shavasana, seal in your practice, and be a courteous student and classmate. You may find in time that the final meditation is your favorite part of class!
___________________________________________

And there you have it! If you're really new to yoga, be sure to check out a few other posts I've shared about how to get the most out of this discipline. Any other questions about what to expect? Ask away in the comments!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Sweats 24

June 8–14

Monday: rest
Today was another day out of my normal routine and my body was way too sore from the weekend of Wanderlusting to try anything fancy. Unless you count like 10 minutes of handstanding on the beach.
Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
Flexibility and strength tonight, because Donna knows the way to my heart.

Wednesday: shoulder yoga (15 min) + 4.67 mile run (9:40 pace)
It occurred to me while scrolling through my "morning yoga" playlist that I haven't done this in ages, and my shoulders could use some love. Dat dolphin pose, doe.

Two things about this run: (1) I ate an entire Chipotle burrito bowl less than an hour before, because I meant to only eat half and then had no self-control, so around mile 2 I started hurtin' pretty bad. (2) I saw two blue jays either fighting or screwing and I'm not sure which BUT I am sure that I almost broke my face because I was watching the blue jays instead of the sidewalk trying to figure out which it was. I planned to go out for 4, but I extended this one a bit to make up for feeling so crappy until I settled in after the 5k mark.

Thursday: hip & hamstring yoga (13 min) + full body flow (41 min)
I'll never not love this yoga video for run days. It's too good!

And then I skipped tonight's 3 mile run to hang out with a friend and didn't regret it until I got on Instagram and saw Tracy's boss lady brick workout post. I only have another two weeks or so that I can get away with this casual attitude before marathon training though, so I'm embracing it.

I did, though, roll my mat back out and jam again. I didn't mean to go for so long, but I was feeling so, so good. I started high with a warrior sequence, wild thing flow, and lizard pose. I flowed into crow and then brought it down for reclined hip openers like happy baby, half happy baby each side, twists, figure four variations, and some good seated hamstring stretches. I have trouble in shavasana at home unless I'm in like a full-on guided meditation, but I stayed in reclined bound angle for several minutes trying to make it work. (If this sounds like gibberish to you, I'll happily explain!)
Tried this pose for the first time thanks to an instagram challenge. It was an interesting one to get into...
Friday: sun sal flow (13 min)
I knew I wouldn't be home until well into the night after I left for work this morning, so I needed something good to get me started for the day. This easy flowy class did it.

Saturday: 3.03 mile run (9:28 pace)
I'm not great at morning runs, but I had a wedding to attend upstate this afternoon so morning run it was. It was a bit laborious through the heat, humidity, and wind (thunderstorms coming?); my chest wasn't really having fun. Hopefully this'll be one of the last "adjustment phase" runs for me and I'll soon be ready for summer training!

Sunday: rest
Guess who overdid it at the wedding and slept very badly on the ground (we were camping; it was intentional!) and couldn't keep her eyes open long enough to run those 6 miles today? This girl. (I don't go hard very often, but when I do, I do it like it's my job.

Weekly Totals
Running: 7.7 miles
Yoga: 157 minutes

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Blog Post

Okay, something weird happened and I want to talk about it. I'm trying not to be melodramatic and I'm certainly not pretending I'm a victim of anything, but I am really, really confused about something.

Let me start from the top.

Sometime near the end of 2013, a young woman named Alyssa decided that she wanted to get back into blogging, a hobby she'd tapped into wayyyy back in 2008. Since that first blog, she'd owned and written a few different ones, had a few different domain names, and had a few different blogging paths. She'd been out of the game for a couple months, and really wanted to try her hand at lifestyle/personal blogging. So she began to plan.

She planned and planned and decided to pull the trigger one day in February 2014. Finally! A home on the Internet again! Some place to put all those ideas and thoughts that had been piling up in her iPhone Notes app and on Post-Its on her desk. A stake in the community that she knew could be such a wonderful place. A way to connect with people with similar ideas and interests and thoughts, even when she was feeling her most lonely. And, on some days, a place to just kind of be silly and write things that no one may care about. But on the best days, a place to share things she really cared about, really believed in, and really wanted to start a conversation about.

So she wrote a post about what her space might look like. (Little did she know, in a few short months she'd co-host a fitness link-up, or scream at the top of her lungs about feminism and birth control, or try to convince the world to start a home yoga practice. But that's neither here nor there.) She called it "Day 1," and sent it out into the universe, unsure of what would really happen next.

What happened, though, was great. She met people she has grown to love, shared stories others found themselves in and related to, and had millions of laughs along the way. No, she didn't amass a thousand followers in her first year, but that's okay. She loves her space, loves her blog friends, and loves blogging as a hobby.

Until one day in June, when the woman named Alyssa returned from a weekend in the mountains and took a look around her Internet space, which appeared to grow a bit while she was offline. (She doesn't remember her Twitter follower count by heart, but she did notice that it looked like it had taken a tiny bit of a leap recently; ditto her Instagram.) She clicked onto a new follower's account, and clicked through the Twitter bio onto the Twitterer's very obviously new blog.

See, Alyssa had spent part of her weekend (which she spent with a blog friend-turned-real life good friend) talking with her friend about how she's always eager to find new blog pals, other people to interact with and share stories with, connect with and welcome into the little circle of pals. And Alyssa remembers when she herself was a new blogger—all five or six times she started from scratch—and is always eager to help someone new feel a bit more welcome to the community with a comment or follow, if she feels so inclined.

She clicked through onto a blog written by a girl who shared a home country with one of her bloggy BFFs and started to read. Only two posts were up, so she went to start at the beginning.

Alyssa might be a bit embarrassed to admit how long it took her to realize this, but after a few blinks and "Wait...."s, she realized that she'd read almost this exact blog post before. Same title and everything. In fact, she'd written it herself. It was this one.

Okay, now that you're caught up, I'm switching back to first person. 

So, someone ripped off my blog post. Blatant, unabashed copying, right down to the title and format.

I'm a little hurt that someone took my words and passed them off as their own, but sadly, I have to say this isn't the first time that's happened to me. Such is life when you're a professional writer in the Internet Age. No matter how you slice it though, something I wrote was very, very, very clearly hijacked by someone who then pretended that they wrote it.

Is it my best post ever? Not even close. Is it the post I am most proud of on this blog? Nope. Does it reveal specific personal details or share the inner-workings of my mind in a profound way? Not at all. But it is something that I wrote, to describe my blog, and it was stolen without credit. And that makes me sad, and it makes me mad.

And it also makes me really, really confused. If you're going to rip off my content, why wouldn't it be a post that gets tons of hits or received a lot of thoughtful comments or shares? Why wouldn't it be one of the posts that you could pretend is reflective of yourself? Why on earth would it be a lame introductory post?

And why, why then, would you direct my attention toward your plagiarism? The person who copied me followed me on Bloglovin, Twitter, and Instagram within 24 hours of posting the stolen content. She also followed friends of mine, other bloggers who I follow and who follow me. She named her post exactly what I had named mine, and shared it several times on the social accounts she was trying to bring my (and others') attention to. What is the benefit here? Where is the logic?

I'm confused more than anything. First of all, why copy content? Why copy MY content—I'm not even a "big" blogger!? Why copy that post? Why attract my attention to it?

I've been back and forth on whether I should share the perpetrating post here, and as of right now I've landed on no. (Although, it wouldn't be hard for you to find it given all the context in this post. Or if you just ask me, because I'm not that good a person.) But I've also taken screenshots of the offending post, just in case. Part of me feels silly for being bothered so much—like I said, it's not one of my really heartfelt posts or anything like that. But it was mine, and it was stolen without credit.

What would you do if you were in my position? I really want to know. I thought about commenting on her post. Emailing her. Calling her out on Twitter. Because honestly, I'm not really sure I'm very bothered by what the "polite thing" to do would be, because... well, she plagiarized me, period. I don't really owe her the privacy I'm giving her, or a nice, polite, "what seems to have happened here?" email. But I'm also not trying to take myself too seriously with this whole blog thing.

Honestly, what would you do?
And if this has ever happened to you, what did you do?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wild & Wonderful Wandering

This weekend I crossed a few things off a few lists. I visited a new state I'd never been to before (West Virginia) and fulfilled a 2015 goal to attend a yoga retreat. My partner in crime Tracy and I headed for the mountains for two days of Wanderlust, a yoga and mindfulness retreat. And it was, in a phrase, life-altering.

(For me, at least. I don't want to speak for Tracy; I'm sure she'll share her own thoughts on the experience at her place. [She did.] But at least I can say we had a great time together AND got to hang out again so soon after RnRDC! Woo!) 
Couldn't have asked for a better yoga buddy than this gal!
Over the course of two days, we took five yoga classes/workshops and one mindful running group run/learning session. (And began making plans for an international 2016 adventure, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)
I mean, hello gorgeous!
A lot of the sessions' lessons reached me in a really profound way, and I feel like I learned so much. I improved my practice, for sure. I learned principles to be a better student of this discipline that I use to shape my mind, body, and whole life. I laughed a lot and even refined my yoga philosophy a bit more. I had some wonderful conversations with a dear friend and met some new and fantastic people I wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths with. I am full of gratitude for this entire experience. 

I don't want to talk to much about the specifics of what Wanderlust gave me, because I don't want to cheapen it. I don't want to take these instructors' words and wisdom and pass them off here as my own. And I don't want to pretend that my experience is like anyone else's was or could be. Listen: Part of yoga, for me, is learning when to reign it in and be comfortable with everything happening internally. Be comfortable not sharing things that are better kept as a gift to myself. There's no need for me to share, oh, I dunno, what I saw with my third eye, or chatter on about how my beliefs make me feel. It's a personal code, and my internalization of my practice does no good to anyone else listening on. 

But I will say this: if you have the opportunity, go to Wanderlust. Go. If you're a beginner, go. If you're just curious, go. If you want to deepen your practice, go. If you want to learn something new, go. If you want to meet new people, go. If you want to become more in tune with your body, go. If you want an adventure, go.
The studio space floors were lined with these alignment markers; each of which had a little mantra on them. I forgot to snap a pic of my first one ("Surrender") but grabbed this one in the Yin class.
If you're curious, here's a quick run-down of the sessions we took and instructors (all travel!) we met:

Upside Down & AroundEric Paskel
Nothing like starting the day with some inversions and arm balances! This workshop was fun and challenging, but I walked away with some really good practice techniques and confidence in flipping myself upside down. The instructor was FABULOUS. He reminded me a lot of my chiropractor, and you all know how much I love him. I really hope to have the opportunity to take class with him again someday. (He'll be at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts—Mecca for American yogis, really—in July, but I may have a conflict sadly!)

Every Breath You TakeGina Caputo
I think Tracy and I were looking forward to this the most since the moment we booked Wanderlust. This was a vinyasa flow class set to—ready?—the music of The Police. It. Was. SO MUCH FUN! DJ Drez really was a master and the whole flow of the class was just amazing. Gina had fabulous energy, was so much fun as a guide and really challenged us. Meanwhile, I'll be adding "Every Breath You Take" to my home flow playlist immediately.

Intro to Mindful RunningElinor Fish
This 2.68-mile run was the most challenging part of the weekend, I think. I didn't account for the added challenge of our mountain elevation, which made running even on the paved path difficult. Once we got into the woods, the soft, earthy trail was lousy with added obstacles. It was a humbling workout, but rewarding, and any time I get to run with Tracy is a good time! Elinor was so warm and welcoming and eager to answer all of our questions, and she shared some great principles and theories I'm eager to carry forward into marathon training. I'm really hoping we have the opportunity to see her again on one of her retreats in 2016.

Yin Yoga: Deep Hip WorkJoe Barnett
I've never taken a Yin class before or even tried it in home practice, so I was really looking forward to this. Oh my goodness you guys. I need to make this at least a monthly treat. After our intense morning and afternoon run, this hip work was absolutely to die for. Over the course of the full 90-minute session, we went through only about four poses, save for childs pose and shavasana as transitional rest postures. Each one repeated on each side and held for several minutes and...I just can't express how good this whole class felt. It also brought me into the best shavasana I had all day, not to mention all week. Such a treat. I'd love to take a class with him again.
Vindalini – Eric Paskel
I was really happy to have another class with Eric, and I've been looking forward to this class for a while. It's a blend of vinyasa, which I practice about 99 percent of the time, and kundalini yoga, which I haven't practiced since college. Kundalini focuses heavily on breathing techniques and I was happy for the refresher. This class was WAY more challenging than I thought it would be, and that was definitely compounded by all of the work we did the day before. In a word, ouch. In another word, yum.

Building a PlaybookSage Rountree
Sage was amazing. I wish I could study under her daily. This class was a workshop for teachers, future teachers, and home practitioners. She broke down some really simple but sweet combinations, offered techniques for sequence-building, gave us time for free-flow, and showed some incredible hip flexor stretches that I loved so much I took pictures of and need to remember to do before and after every run from now until forever. Once I'm certified I really look forward to enriching my classes with her teachings.

For real.
We were supposed to finish off Sunday with a stand-up paddleboard class (SUP yoga!) but... we were literally inside a raincloud, and I don't think the temperature broke 59 degrees. We wanted to end on a high note, so we grabbed some pizza (because in what world is pizza not a high note?) and ventured off the mountain. (Side note, Tracy, I just realized every time we've hung out, we've had copious amounts of pizza. I think this needs to be a thing forever.)
I'm still wearing my Wanderlust bracelets because I want to pretend it isn't over. It was really an amazing weekend, and the perfect way to start off a season of endless adventure. Wanderlust, I will see you again soon.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Sweats 23

June 1–7

Monday: lower back yoga (15 min) + 2 mile run (8:33 pace)
I haven't done one of these low back videos in a while, so it felt really good—especially on a Monday morning before heading back into the rat race. My run was a treat too. I was going to do 3 today and save an easy 2 for later in the week, but after almost skipping the run altogether (rain, 55º, couldn't get outside til 8:15) I went with 2 to get back quickly—busy, busy night. And it felt awesome! I wasn't sure mile two would be sub-9, but I ran these in 8:46 and 8:20. Because marathoners don't wait for the rain to stop, right? (New rainy day manta alert.)

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
I think if I could arrange it, I would have it rain once a week for an hour and a half. And it would be Tuesday evenings during my studio yoga class. It's been raining for three days, and it's a full moon. Donna mirrored the cleansing rain by focusing this class on detoxing twists and it felt so, so good to get bendy and wring out the spine. I noticed some much deeper movement in some poses tonight, and my balance was something to write home about. And oh, that full moon savasana...

Wednesday: hangover yoga (14 min) + 3 mile run (9:13 pace)
I'm not hungover on a Wednesday, chill. I just love the half moon twisting series in this video, and I woke up with a nag in my hip this morning so I decided to get right into it. And it's never a bad time to detox with twists.

On the run front, today is National Running Day! I decided to "celebrate" by adding a very, very steep hill—so steep it's just as hard to run down as it is to go up!—to my usual 3-mile out and back. I felt so happy on this run, even during the most challenging moments. I realized for the first time that, aside from the hip that will always hate me, nothing hurt. Nothing has been hurting. That time off I felt pretty bad for taking was really exactly what I needed. I felt so happy on this run.

Thursday: rest
Just wasn't waking up on time this morning. So it goes.

Friday: rest 
Nothing today, unless you count a total of 9.5 hours in the car as a workout. 

Saturday: lots of yoga (~250 minutes) + 2.68 mile run (11:22 pace)
Today was my and Tracy's first day of Wanderlust, and let's just say we were both ready for bed by 6:30 p.m. I'll be recapping the festival more this week, but today we did about 250 minutes of yoga over three sessions (one workshop, two classes) and a trail run that was, let's suffice it to say, more than we bargained for! But not a single complaint about the whole weekend. (Much more about it later this week!)
Sunday: lots of yoga (~165 minutes)
Today was supposed to include a third class, but getting in the water is out of the question when you're literally inside a raincloud. One tough class to start the day plus one nice, more restorative class to cap off the weekend was the perfect treat to end our Wanderlust weekend.

Weekly Totals:
Yoga: 519 minutes
Running: 7.7 miles

And now, it's time to sleep. Until Tuesday, I think.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

#NowPlaying

Gearing up for a lot of weekend trips out of town and getting ready to run like crazy means lots of playlists are needed. A sampling from my long run, speed run, flow yoga, road trip, and summertime playlists:

Frank Ocean – Super Rich Kids (Why didn't anyone insist I start listening to Frank Ocean, like, a million years ago? You're all fired.)
Coldplay – Oceans
Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune (Debussy is my guy. I'm editing a client novel right now and I can't do it in silence. Apparently piano music is even better editing music for me than Explosions in the Sky.)
Mumford & Sons – The Wolf (I love every song on their latest album, truly, but this one is a standout for me.)
Skrillex & Diplo with Justin Bieber – Where Are U Now (Just stop it with your judging right now. Stop it. IT'S A GOOD SONG, GUYS.)
One Direction – Steal My Girl (And I can't hear this one without picturing Anna Kendrick, and since she's my favorite person alive, that's okay by me.)
Jaymes Young – Dark Star
Chadwick Stokes – I Want You Like a Seatbelt (Another one I owe to Miss Melissa)
DJ Assad & Greg Parys – We Are One (Put this on your running playlist.)
Sage the Gemini & Nick Jonas – Good Thing (Okay, fine. But at least I didn't put "Trap Queen" on this list too. Right?)

Good thing I stopped caring what people have to say about the music I listen to, right?

What's on your playlist these days? 
(I'm taking suggestions for any of the above-mentioned soundtracks!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Not That Brave

I guess it's pretty fair to say I've taken some risks in my life, especially in the last few years. I've bitten the bullet, taken the plunge, peed into the wind. I've been brave in the face of threats, of real potential danger, of adversity. I've tried new things, pushed boundaries, and busted out of my comfort zone.

But there are still some things I am just not brave enough to try. At least, not right now. Like:
Oil pulling. Supposedly, swishing a glob of coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day is the secret to immortality, or something. Or it helps clean your teeth, pull toxins from your body, prevent cavities, clear your sinuses, cure migraines (?! – chronic sufferer here...), keeps you from being all hormoney, and grow back torn-off limbs. I guess it depends who you ask. Anyway, the idea is that when you're done swishing the oil around in your mouth like a chipmunk, you spit it out and it's a filthy, disgusting color that shows you all the ways you just magically healed your body. And I'm here to say that there is no number of proven health benefits that would make me want to do this and not actually gag at just the thought of it. Like I'm doing right now. NEXT.

Read Finnegans Wake. On a less disgusting note, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is alleged to be "the most difficult-to-read book in the English language." It took the author 17 years to write and was published two years before his death, which no doubt was in some way caused by the toll it takes to write a book in basically made-up words. And while I love a challenge and am even working up the nerve to read Infinite Jest—an infamously soul-crushing reading experience—this summer, I just really don't think I'm emotionally stable enough to handle reading a book in a language I know and speak fluently and still have it sound like absolute gibberish.

Compete in a triathlon. I've got the running part down, sorta. But my family likes to joke about how I don't really do all that great on wheels, and it's not exactly undeserved. I'm fine in the car, but I've crashed on more bikes than I can count and there's even been a go-cart accident or five. Technically I know how to ride a bike. I'm just not good at it, and I wouldn't trust myself to put in the training a tri requires. Oh, and getting me in a pool? I don't really even know if it would be fully fair to say I know how to swim. Like, I don't know the "correct way" to do any real strokes. I can get in the water and not drown for hours, but moving swiftly from one place to the next unless a jellyfish is in the vicinity is not happening, and none of it's happening with even the smallest bit of grace. The real challenge here would be battling the sheer embarrassment that's bound to ensue in the first two legs of a triathlon. So I'll leave those to Tracy for now and stick to trying to run a marathon.

Race a Tough Mudder. Speaking of athletic things I'm not brave enough to do, I'm not sure any kind of mud event is in my near future. And honestly, I'm not afraid of the running part or the obstacle part. It's the mud part. And it's not because I don't want to get dirt under my fingernails; I can handle that. It's because there is absolutely no way to convince me that that's just mud in those mud pits. Yes, I'm imagining the worst and now making you think it too. You're welcome.

Go no-poo. When I realized that my hair could survive—oh, even thrive!—without daily washings, my life changed. Pushing my hair-washing schedule to every two, then every three days has been one of the best things for my wallet, punctuality, and sanity. But when I do have to clean my hair, it's going to be with shampoo. Because a) I use natural shampoo, and you can't convince me that dumping the ingredients for a science-class exploding volcano on my scalp is a better alternative to what I use; b) of all the things wrong with my body that I can blame on modernization, my hair/scalp isn't a concern; c) there are way worse things we put on our skin and into our bodies, and it seems a little hypocritical to ditch a personal hygiene product while still consuming sugar; and d) (here's the biggest one) my hair looks like the BP oil spill disaster on day 4, and I don't think anyone in my life loves me enough to overlook that mess for 2-6 weeks while I train my hair to not be an emergency scene without two-three washings per week.

But I'm totally down to go skydiving. Who wants to do it with me??