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Showing posts from 2016

2017 plans (and planners)!

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So, one thing that has really come out of 2016 for me (aside from powerlifting) is my newfound obsession with planners and planner decorating. I used to just keep all my future events on my calendar app, but I found I had a burning desire to reconnect with writing things longhand (I used to keep datebooks and journals as a kid/teen), so after going through many unsatisfactory planners (that I ended up recycling), I bought myself a classic/medium-sized Happy Planner last spring on a whim (I had a coupon) and then fell headfirst into the world of stickers, washi tape, and memory planning. Suddenly, keeping a planner wasn't just about writing dates and grocery lists - it was also beautiful, fun, and crafty.

And then this summer I discovered bullet journalling, and that was another game changer. I discovered an artistic side of myself that I didn't think existed, as I learned brush lettering and got more into doodling. I also got back into journalling longhand - I've tried on…

Recap: Deadlifts for Doernbecher 2016

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What a day!

It's been a strange couple of weeks, as we've been hit by snow and ice, and it's the first time I've ever really had to deal with that. (Because, you know, I'm Californian.) This morning, I headed out in 28-degree weather (very slowly!) and made my way over to my gym for Deadlifts for Doernbecher. I was already pretty nervous about competing, and then with the added stress of driving conditions that I'm not used to, I was feeling a little shaky when I finally pulled up.

GAINZ and losses

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At the end of October, I posted that I was going to make a concerted effort to lose weight for very specific reasons. It's been a full thirty days, so I thought I'd update you on that.

What I didn't say specifically last time was that I was going to do a Whole30 for the month of November. If you're a longtime follower of my blog, you probably know that I personally feel at my best when I'm following the Paleo diet, and despite what everyone else in real life or on the Internet says, it works for me and I like it, and that's that. (I don't care how you eat. Don't concern yourself with what I eat.)

I am bringing it up, however, because sometimes people just want to know what it is I'm doing. I'm not going to sit here and extoll its virtues or whatever - for one thing, I've done that on my blog before, as have many other bloggers. I'm not here to sell you on it. Like I said, it works for me, and I like it. It might not work for other peopl…

Grateful

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This year, for the first time, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on our own, with just the three of us. I've grown up surrounded by my huuuuuuge family on either side (and, eventually, Jimmy's large extended family as well), so this is quite a change for us, but I'm grateful that we are here and that we have each other.

I don't have to cite examples to prove that times are difficult right now, for so many people, in so many different ways. It seems indulgent, maybe, to try to find the joy in our daily existence. But it's what I find myself being drawn back to, again and again. To quote author John Green, "The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy." If you're lucky enough to have joy in your life, especially daily, then it would be foolish not to hang onto that. Be grateful that you have it, you know?

I've been doing a little Daily Gratitude journal for the month of November, and it consists of a different question each day about something we&#…

In for a penny, in for 400+ pounds

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I have just submitted my entry for Deadlifts for Doernbecher, an unsanctioned charity deadlift competition to benefit Doernbecher Children's Hospital hosted by my new gym, Savage Strength Conditioning.

While I have been struggling lately to establish a steady gym routine, I do think that, at least, I'm doing okay on deadlifts, even if I feel like my squat strength is slow to come back. (I don't know - I could be totally wrong about my squats and just expecting too much of myself. I get in my own head a lot. I am my own worst critic.) Deadlifts have always been my best/favorite lift, and just like I did a year ago, I feel like this is the best way to ease into competing. I feel a little out of my element (because I'm new not just to the area, but to competitive powerlifting in general, relatively) so I'm a big fan of taking baby steps here. I know I've competed in a deadlift-only division before, as well as a full meet too, but I am still nerrrrrrrrrvoussssssss…

The thing about teaching

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I clicked on this HuffPost article that one of my former coworkers shared, and FB immediately showed me two more, shown above.

There are tons, TONS, of articles about teacher stress and things that need to change so that we (as well as our students) can thrive, but what the heck is being done about it??? Are there higher-ups listening? Or are we just shouting into the void?

I'm not even teaching right now, but I am frequently having stress dreams about going back to teaching next year. And I actually love teaching - I love sharing my love of literature, I love forming connections with my students, and this may surprise many, but I actually really enjoy working with teenagers. (Yeah, it can be difficult, but they are an amazing, dynamic age group, and many of the teens I've known outshine many adults with their insight and their compassion.)

But I feel a little paralyzed whenever I think about the life I'll be going back to. As much as I feel like, in my heart, I AM a …

Words carry weight... but so do I.

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I've decided that I'm going to try to lose weight.

And I kind of already hate myself for SAYING that - my history of weight loss (or lack thereof) and my relationship with my body and my self-esteem while I'm undergoing that process has always been fraught. But the whole point of this blog post is not just to announce my intentions for accountability, but to also lay out a sort of manifesto for this weight-loss journey that I'm about to embark on.

It is very, very difficult to make that decision in a vacuum in our current society. And what I mean is that I can tell myself that all my reasons for wanting to lose weight this time have nothing to do with aesthetics or being "beautiful" or arriving at a more socially-desirable bodyweight (which is true), but it's always going to be there, lurking in the back of my mind. And moreover, it's always going to be lurking out there - in society, which as a whole only seems to approve of fat people if they are t…

I made a blanket with jumbo yarn!

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Oh hey, a knitting post!

I'm about to go into a detail-intensive discussion of the making of this blanket, as well as some tips if you're thinking about making one (or even buying one) yourself, so if you're interested in that, read on. If not, here's your tl;dr.

Pattern:Wonderful Big Stitch Throw

Materials:Red Heart Boutique Irresistible in Grey; 47" circular needles in size 50 (25mm)

Quick notes: I used 9 balls of yarn. Finished dimensions ended up at about 48" square. My gauge was about ~3.25 stitches x 4 rows (4" square) in stockinette stitch. It took me about two days of knitting really intensely.


I'm willing to wait for it

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So, last night I went in for my very first workout with Savage Strength Conditioning, which is about 35 minutes away from my house. I've been in contact with Jeron, the owner/coach, for the last year or so, since I knew I wanted to continue training after our move.

It was awesome, and different. I'm not going to do a whole compare/contrast thing between gyms, but I will comment on one thing: I joined Savage as a part of their competitive powerlifting crew, so not only was everyone there last night also a powerlifter, but they aren't merely casual lifters either. These guys and gals are into it, and they're exactly the sort of people I need to push me forward.

I love my old gym, and I miss them terribly, but one thing that was difficult is that powerlifters, particularly competitive ones, were few and far in between. And there were many times when it was literally just me powerlifting, and everyone else was doing the planned workout. (Gabe, my PL partner in crime, work…

Busy nothings

“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”
- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Wow! Where have I been?

The short answer to that is, "Absolutely nowhere." I've been busy, but I also have been doing nothing, which makes absolutely no sense.

Perhaps a more accurate explanation would be that I've been busy doing things that no one else would consider important. I'm not working and I'm not working out (yet - looking forward to going back to powerlifting next month!), but my daughter has started school, and I'm still trying to figure out what I want out of this new life, and that takes time and energy. Even though I have decided to take this giant pause in my life, the world is still spinning around me, and I have to make sure that I don't allow myself to spin off into nothingness.

As I've said previously, I feel a little aimless right now. I am someone who NEEDS to keep busy, even if it stresses me out to the max, because without all the routines …

Idyllic or just idle?

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I'm feeling antsy.

I told myself that this would be a good time to take time off, to let the dust settle and then figure out what I want to do with myself (whether that involves teaching or not), but the truth is, I have a very hard time sitting still.

I know that I have in the past overloaded myself to the point of stress tears and exhaustion, but in truth, I feel much better being overly busy.

Case in point: I am much more prone to bouts of depression when I'm injured/sick and can't work out or even leave the house. It was so hard for me to work full days and then show up at the gym or derby practice (or wake up early the next morning for a run), but if I'm being honest, that's when I was the least unhappy. I may have been exhausted beyond belief, but at least I felt like I was DOING something. I felt like I had some sort of purpose to my day.

At this point, we haven't even been here a month yet. We still have lots of unpacking and cleanup to do, and yes, I …

Happy Esther Day from the Pacific Northwest!

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Happy Esther Day!!!


Esther Day, in honor of a young woman named Esther Earl, is a day to celebrate love - specifically, the non-platonic (read: non-Valentine's Day) love between you and your friends and family. I'm going to be honest and say that I always forget to celebrate Esther Day (because it's the day after my daughter's birthday, and I'm usually super pre-occupied with that), but I wanted to make a special point of celebrating it this year because we just moved from California to Oregon a week ago and now I am hundreds of miles away from the people I love whom I've been spending time with on a regular basis. 
Things have been hectic (which is why I haven't posted in a while), but I wanted to take the time to tell my friends and family back at home how much I love them and miss them. There's a lot that I love about being up here, but obviously there are things that I miss about the Bay Area, the biggest thing being my squad - my MANY squads, of peo…

Looking ahead and looking behind

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I know, it's been a while since I've posted!

Still here, still alive. I can't even claim to be too busy, since I'm on summer break right now, and if you're friends with me on social media, I've definitely been posting there. I guess I've been preoccupied? by a lot of other things.

So what have I been up to? At the time of my last post, I was in the middle of jury duty, and it was kind of an intense criminal case. Then I developed an eye infection and a really bad cold. And then I got better and went to Disneyland with two of my dear friends, a grown-ups only trip (since my trips over recent years have always been with Jolie). I've been reading and writing and knitting and sleeping and thinking a lot about the current state of the world and listening to Hamilton.

And now? We're two weeks away from moving. TWO WEEKS.

Am I excited? Totally. Am I nervous? Yup, definitely. Am I daunted by the sheer amount of THINGS that need to be packed up/thrown out/g…

Let me tell you about Jimmy.

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I talk about a lot of aspects of my life, but one thing I generally refrain from talking about much is my long-time relationship with my boyfriend/the father of my child, Jimmy. Mostly, it's to respect his privacy. He's a very private person, even more so than I am, and I know he would not appreciate my sharing every little detail of our relationship on the Internet. But it's Father's Day, and I have let many Father's Days pass without talking about this person who has been central to my life for so long, so I'm going to do that now.

Race recap: See Jane Run 5k in Alameda

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For some reason, I thought I had already done this blog post, and it turned out I hadn't :)
This is probably going to be my last race for a while, as I get ready to move and then get settled in at our new place. And appropriately, it was a leisurely, fun walk along the bay with my daughter.


What does it mean to matter?

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Hank Green, again, voicing the thoughts that I needed to hear most, right when I really needed to hear them. 
I would be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I'm no longer going to teach is that my Impostor's Syndrome gets pretty crippling, and more often than not over the span of my teaching career, I've generally felt like I'm not making difference, I'm not effective, I'm not ENOUGH. That I really suck at this job, and that I don't deserve to be here, and that anyone could do my job a hundred times better than I could. 
I'm not perfect - no teacher is! - and while I have had exhilarating, triumphant moments throughout my career, I have also found that the flipside is, this job has a million and one ways to break your heart. This indefinite hiatus that I'm taking is for me to patch over the cracks and figure out if I'm strong enough to handle more in the future.
I'm always surprised more than anything else, then, when students…

The end of an era, and an uncertain future

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It's the last week of the school year.

It's my last week at MHS, and it's also possibly my last week of teaching, period.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of bittersweet feelings about this. I've been here for ten years (eleven, if you include my student teaching year), so of course this place, this job, has changed me immeasurably. I've grown a lot since the first day I showed up here, and the friendships I've made over the years run deep. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in these walls, good and bad. I have always wanted to move to Portland, but there was always a reason to stay; I'm not saying those reasons don't exist anymore, but if I keep waiting until I'm perfectly ready, it'll probably never happen. (And as much as I love my job, I'm not super keen about being stuck in this particular town for the rest of my life.)

It's hard to walk away, but it's made easier by the fact that I have something amazing that I'm walki…

Romance novels, and why the personal is, in fact, political

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I know this isn't my book blog, but bear with me here. I want to talk about romance novels.

I like them. I read them a lot. Not so much with the corsets and men riding horses, but just contemporary, new adult romances, because they're fun, sexy escapism, and they're quick to read. (We all have our things, I guess.)

Maybe it's because I tend to seek out the free/cheap ones instead of casting my net farther and wider, but I had a very obvious realization this morning about romance novels...

Race recap: the runDisney 2016 Pixie Dust Challenge

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This year marks the 5th anniversary of the runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon, and in addition, it will be my last Disney race for a long time (since it's not so easy to drive down to Anaheim from Portland), so of course, I had to make it EPIC - I decided to run the Pixie Dust Challenge. (And Jolie did the kids' race, of course.)

Basically, the challenge is to run the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, totalling 19.3 miles in one weekend. I've done this before, but I was in much better shape then, and I didn't have knee pain plaguing me every step of the way, so I knew this was going to be a true challenge just to finish.

I haven't been training at all, except for some 4-6 mile runs/walks on the weekends. It's amazing how, when you get out of the habit of running regularly, it becomes difficult to reintroduce it back into your life. I had intended to train for this while I was training for my powerlifting meet, but of course, my knee proved to b…

Teacher Appreciation Day

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It's Teacher Appreciation Day, and since I am one myself, I want to take the time to express my appreciation for my colleagues.
Teaching is never easy, but my ten years have been made signicantly easier by the fact that I work with an amazing group of individuals amongst the MHS faculty and staff, most especially my English department. I have been blessed with autonomy, strong leaders, and a caring, nurturing environment where I get the support that I need.

As I am leaving soon, not just MHS but possibly also the profession of teaching, I didn't want to go without letting all my colleagues know what a pleasure it has been to work with them for this past decade.

Darbysmart DIY box!

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I haven't blogged about crafting in AGES. Mainly, I haven't been doing much of it - I knitted a few small things for the holidays as I typically do, but otherwise, my room has basically been a WIP graveyard.

I heard about the Darbysmart Mystery DIY box from some roundup of cool subscription boxes. For about $20 a month, they send you the materials to complete a craft project! It's something different every month. I used their introductory signup code (which made it half-priced) to give it a try - my daughter really likes crafting with me, so I thought we'd check it out together.

Dear Beyonce: I was wrong about you, and I'm sorry.

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I was an ignorant, elitist brat when I was younger, in my teens and early 20s. I believed in female empowerment, but I was slut-shamey and judgmental of other girls' clothing choices. I called myself the "white Asian," because I was all about the things that white people liked. I would often joke that I was actually half-Asian, with my inside half being white. I definitely wasn't AZN or gangsta, and I will admit it: I bought into the whole stereotype of those cultures being thuggish and uneducated. If I indulged in hip hop or R&B, I would do so "ironically."

Look, I'm just gonna say it, because it shouldn't surprise anyone: I was racist. Let's just call it what it is. Those thoughts and behaviors are racist. I don't remember if I identified as feminist or not, but my actions and beliefs were definitely problematic. I look back at my younger self and cringe.

What does this have to do with Beyonce?

Spring brings new beginnings

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Sorry for the radio silence! I haven't been up to much lately, including hitting the gym - I've been feeling sick, so mostly I've been trying to lay low (lie low?).

I did, however, have spring break this past week, so we packed up my car and drove a bunch of things to our soon-to-be home in Oregon. We basically just wanted to chill out, get house stuff done, and acclimate to our new place before our big final move in July. We drove up on Monday, and drove home on Friday.

What can I say? It's beautiful up there. It's an entirely different mood and atmosphere from that of the Silicon Valley, and even though we spent a good portion of our week assembling endless amounts of Ikea furniture, I still felt relaxed and at peace. Granted, it was spring break, so I could do whatever I felt like, at my leisure, instead of worrying about getting up for a full day of work every day, but even when I have days off at home here in California, I always feel really antsy. I think I …

Onward, ho!

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How do I follow up last weekend? There's really nothing that can top that. I have to apologize to all my friends on social media if I keep talking about last week's meet - I'm still on a high from it, and it was such a fabulous moment in my life, that I'm going to hang onto it as long as I can.

But what next? Well, my next big event on my radar is the 2016 Tinkerbell half marathon... but I'm not JUST doing the half marathon, I'm doing the Pixie Dust Challenge, which also means that I'm doing the 10k the day before the half marathon. 19.3 miles in two days. I've done it before, but I was in better shape then.

To be honest, I'm nervous about this too. I've done dozens of half marathons before, but this will be my first - and only - big race since my most recent knee injuries, and it will be my last Disney race for the forseeable future, so I'm feeling extra pressed to be in shape for this race. And so far, I haven't been able to train for…

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite:
Norcal Powerlifting Regionals, March 20, 2016

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I wasn't just nervous going into this meet - I was stressed. As I'm sure you could tell from my previous posts, especially my most recent one (where I mentioned that I was crying in my car), it's been a really long, grueling journey getting through the months of training leading up to this meet: it was the hardest I've ever trained in the history of my training, which meant that I was constantly feeling the effects of it - soreness and aching to keep me up at night, back spasms, hobbling everywhere I went. And my bench press is my weakest lift, so I was legitimately worried that I would bomb out and disqualify myself and not get to move on to the deadlift, and I feel like I've been struggling with this lift every step of the way (probably because I hate doing upper body work).

And then about two weeks before the big day, I injured my already-bad knee not during a workout, but walking around my house on tired legs - I took a sloppy step, there was a sharp pop behin…

"Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear."

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I had a really rough day yesterday, emotionally, and then I happened to see these tweets today, and the last one especially so perfectly encapsulated what I went through.

It starts with small thoughts that are nothing out of the ordinary, but then it just piles on, and the weight that each one adds to my mental state grows exponentially - I'm stressed out lately because of my knee injury not healing fast enough and my competition coming up. I'm also feeling a general sense of "battle fatigue" because you know how I feel about racism and sexism, and I feel like, with social media and this being an election year and everything, there are just a lot of disgusting headlines. These have been battering at me in recent weeks.

Then add my stress and guilt about moving to Oregon and particularly about leaving teaching, which I was feeling pretty strongly after sitting through my department meeting which was particularly focused on some stuff that is happening for next year (…

Leave the couch potatoes out of it

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<--- This slogan right here -

It's thrown around a lot. I fairly confident that whoever originally said it, as well as whoever has shared it since, was operating from good intentions and was trying to be encouraging to us slowpoke runners. I'm sure even I've said something like it a time or two.

But what I've come to realize is that... we're throwing the couch potatoes under the bus, and that doesn't sit right with me.

I get it - we want to reward effort. Especially effort from beautiful, athletic people. And if you're not beautiful and athletic, you will at least get rewarded for trying to be beautiful and athletic. Or something like that. Society only seems to be okay with fat people if they're trying not to be fat anymore.

I know this sounds funny coming from someone who has essentially turned into a gym rat, but I'd like to introduce the radical notion that it's actually okay to be on the couch. It's okay to decide that you don't…

Accio BEASTMODE!

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I have just over two weeks left until my meet, and I'm really starting to feel it. Literally - I've been training harder for this than I've ever trained before, and I feel like all the extra work is taking its toll on my muscles, because I'm constantly achy and tight. But I am trusting the process, and I'm doing the best I can, even if it means that I have to modify/scale sometimes.

As much as I've been griping about how tired I am, I am actually quite proud of the work I've been doing, and this is probably the longest stretch of consistent gym attendance I've had in a while. For fun, here are some highlights from recent weeks of training:

180lbs of fun on a sled! T-minus 18 days. #powerlifting #conditioning #fitness #girlswholift #girlswhopowerlift #liftlikeagirlchallenge #training #beastmode #anchoredsc #anchoredscpowerliftingcrew @anchoredsc A video posted by Thu (@acciobeastmode) on Mar 2, 2016 at 6:46pm PST

Last set of 4x7 squats at 315/325/335/345…

Normal?

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I've been thinking about this a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not normal sometimes.
I spend a lot of time on social media, and I see a lot of pictures and things that my friends post - vacation photos, engagement photos, pet photos, wedding photos, child photos. And don't get me wrong - I love seeing them. I love seeing what's going on in my friends' lives, and since I'm not always comfortable just striking up a conversation, their posts make it easy for me to stay updated without, you know, the actual talking part. So please understand, I am not judging their lives.

Rather, I'm judging myself. Because sometimes I look at their photos, and I know that, while I'm very happy for them, it turns out that I have zero interest in some of these things for myself.

For example, while I have nothing against the idea of marriage or weddings and I'm happy for all my married friends, I have absolutely zero interest in getting married myself, and…