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 Vol. 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 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?