Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 plans (and planners)!

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 and off throughout my adult years to keep a journal, but it never stuck. I think maybe I always felt like I didn't have anything important to write in a journal. I know, I know - this obviously hasn't stopped me from blogging, but it's very easy (and cheap) to post throwaway musings on the internet, whereas taking the time to put pen to paper (especially in an expensive notebook like a Moleskine or a Leuchtturm) feels a lot more significant somehow. BUT... bullet journalling, in which I filled my notebook equally with deeply personal thoughts and daily "To Do" lists, with beautiful lettering as well as messy scribbles, taught me that no details are too small, because it's my life, and the day-to-day minutiae is what forms a person's life, just as much as the big events.

Scenes from my current bullet journal, in my dot-grid Leuchtturm 
For 2017, I couldn't decide which planning style I wanted to stick with, so I kind of decided to DO ALL THE THINGS, and this is how I found myself with five planners in my system:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Recap: Deadlifts for Doernbecher 2016

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.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

GAINZ and losses

Left: Before - 209lbs, 44" bust, 43" waist
Right: After - 198lbs, 41" bust, 40" waist
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 people, and they might not like it, so you do you. I'm not here to debate Paleo's efficacy for anyone other myself.

I'm also bringing it up because making lasting changes in the name of health/fitness/happiness is a common struggle that many people face, regardless of whatever way of eating you follow, and so, I feel like you could probably relate to that even if you have a completely different eating philosophy from me. I had a good 30 days - I felt like a strict "reset" was in order, not to clear out toxins or whatever, but to retrain my brain and how I think about food. I feel like the most important thing I got out of this month was how to diligently meal plan (especially since I'm responsible for feeding my family as well) and how to handle the temptation to eat everything around me just because it's there, and other hurdles. (I traveled this month, and we also had Thanksgiving.)

I also spent a lot of time reflecting on just what I want out of my general everyday diet. I've learned that my body is happiest when I'm following the strict Whole30 guidelines, but my soul is happiest when I get to have a little pho, cheese, and dark chocolate. I've learned that as much as I LIKE Skittles, cheddar bay biscuits, and Coke, I can definitely live without them (and indeed, thrive).

I know a lot of people would balk at doing the Whole30 after looking at its guidelines, but having now done it three separate times, I have to say that those 30 days are actually the easiest part. Does it feel torturous at times? Sure. But it's easy because it's very cut-and-dried. NO these things, and YES these things. The decisions are already made for you, and you just have to follow through.

It's this part, the part that comes after, that is harder. How much do I loosen up my rules? How do I know I won't totally go off the rails and eat that entire 20-piece holiday caramel sampler I saw at Trader Joe's? HOW MUCH CHEESE IS TOO MUCH CHEESE????

On the plus side, having been through this before, I at least have some sense of what I can reintroduce to my diet without throwing myself completely off. (Cheese on my eggs? Cool. A tall glass of straight-up milk? Not so much - it makes me feel icky even when I have been consistently consuming other dairy products.) This sounds obvious, of course, but it all comes down to figuring out where "moderation" and "reasonable indulgence" lies for me. It's my birthday next week, and if I really want some cake, I should have some cake. And in return, I should enjoy the experience and NOT feel the slightest bit bad about it. But... I should also NOT eat half the entire cake in two days. I should NOT eat cake every day - not because eating cake every day is a morally bad decision, but because if I want my body to perform optimally, then I just can't do that. One of the hardest concepts for me (and probably anyone) to internalize is that there are no "good" foods and "bad" foods, from a moral standpoint. There are foods that work for you, and foods that don't agree with you so well, and it's up to you how you strike that balance, because every body is different. Having seen how my body functions without certain food groups compared to how it functions with them, I can say that I don't have any food allergies, but some food groups in larger amounts (or even in certain forms) do not agree with my body as well as other food groups. It doesn't mean I can't eat cake ever; it means that I should be more judicious about my consumption of it.

(So, to reiterate - I'm not judging anyone who eats cake every day. I'm saying that my body wouldn't be able to handle that, and since I have specific athletic goals I'm trying to meet, I should be mostly sticking to foods that work for me.)

So, as you can see from my photo above, I had some success this month. I'm down about 10-11 pounds (I wasn't very scientific about weighing myself in terms of clothes/shoes/time of day), and I've lost a few inches all over. I am happy about this, because again, I have specific reasons for wanting to lose weight, neither of which have to do with my appearance or self-worth. I don't care if I look "better" or not; in fact, I don't think I look all that different. (I do have a bit more muscle definition in my upper body and thighs, which is cool, but that wasn't the point of losing weight.)

I can feel a difference, though: I haven't really tried to run yet, but my knee is feeling better when I squat. If you'll recall, I was in a lot of pain leading up to my competition last March, and while I did manage to hit all my attempts, in the weeks afterward, I could barely front-squat 80lbs without pain. However, this past week, I managed to get up to 335lbs for my third set of backsquats with no pain, so that's a huge victory for me! The combination of more consistent work plus a little less weight on my frame, plus the improvement of the inflammation (or whatever) in my knee, really made a difference. This is the most important result of all for me, far more important than looking "hotter."

And of course, there were other things that improved, that weren't weight-related at all:
  • I have been far less sore after my workouts, despite the increasing intensity.
  • I've been tracking various illnesses/symptoms in my bullet journal, and November had far fewer headaches and stomachaches than previous months.
  • I sleep more soundly (and it's easier for me to fall asleep/wake up).
  • Despite the major drop in temperature all of a sudden this month, I have not gotten sick. (I've been hovering on the edge of feeling sick a little bit, but I haven't actually gotten sick. *knock on wood*)
So I'm feeling good about myself lately, and I am motivated to keep working on maintaining order in my food choices and habits (and of course, showing up to the gym as consistently as possible). I'm not going to do a check-in like this every month, but I did want to give some sort of follow-up to my previous post and let you know that all is well on that front. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016


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're grateful for. And I love how it's very specific - "What scent are you grateful for?" "What ability are you grateful for?" "What season are you grateful for?" - because it forces me to thinking about little things that I truly am grateful for, things that I would've overlooked otherwise. (It asks about big things too.)

I think it's easy to get lost in the bleakness of the world and to forget to find the beauty. I'm not saying that we should ignore the ugly stuff. (On the contrary, I think there are a lot of battles to be fought, and they definitely need to be fought.) I just think that, if we lose sight of what it is we love so much about the world, big and small, it makes the fight that much more difficult.

So, this Thanksgiving, here's to the little things:

Here's to the random rainbows I see in the sky (because it rains a lot here).

To the smell of spices cooking in my kitchen.

To the sound of Jimmy's heartbeat when I lay my head against his chest.

To the smell of Jolie's skin when I kiss her awake in the morning.

To the punny riddles that my coach writes on the workout board every week.

Here's to the feel of alpaca yarn sliding through my fingers. Here's to family game night. Here's to having multiple fandoms and hobbies, and people to share them with. Here's to living within 20 minutes of at least three different bookstores. Here's to the sound of breathing in the middle of the night that reminds me I'm not alone in the dark. Here's to PUMPKIN EVERYTHING during the fall, and peppermint hot chocolate during the winter.

I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you're able to find more than a little joy in your day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

In for a penny, in for 400+ pounds

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 nerrrrrrrrrvousssssssss even just thinking about competing.

I am excited, because this is why I signed up to train with Team Savage - so that I could compete and see how far I can go in this sport. After two years at Anchored, I know enough about the basics of lifting that I could figure out some workouts on my own at any ol' commercial gym, just enough to stay in shape. But that's not what I want - I would never be happy with "just enough." I want to pursue the horizons. I have to at least TRY to see what I'm fully capable of. I was never great at derby or distance running (though I love them both and have a great passion for both), but I could be great at powerlifting, and I owe it to myself to find out just how far I can go.

So yeah. I'm in. December 17th. LET'S GO.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The thing about teaching

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 teacher (despite the things I've done wrongly or badly in the past), thinking about the workload makes me panic. And actually, it's not really the workload itself I'm afraid of, but the guilt from knowing that no matter what I or any other teacher does day in and day out, it will never be enough. It's the everyday feeling of guilt and inadequacy that breaks me.

There were moments where I felt "on," where I felt like I did something well. But there were certainly never entire days where I felt that way, and there will never be a point where I feel like I've "got it." I mean, certainly for any career path, there's no way to have really mastered everything there is to know, but is there a job out there where you don't spend most of your days feeling like you're just barely keeping your head above water? Because that's what I would like. I wish I could teach, and on any given day, my status would be "managing," instead of "OMG I'M SO BEHIND ON EVERYTHING."

Granted, I have a lot of personal reasons why it was hard for me to stay afloat, some of which are beyond my control, and some of which are of my own doing. I will admit that; I will own that. There are lots of things I should've done better, and if/when I go back to teaching, those are on my list of things to improve. But the proliferation of articles about teacher stress and burnout tells me that no matter how many things are my fault, there is still a baseline commonality between all teachers that tells me that it's not totally me either. That we're all exhausted, that we ALL need a change, but that we love what we do enough to put ourselves through it anyway.

So my question is, ARE things going to change? Is anyone paying attention to these articles aside from those of us who share them on social media? Or do we beat on, boats against the current, treading water amongst the riptides of our paperwork and our emotions, hoping that the waves don't overtake us?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Words carry weight... but so do I.

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 trying really hard not to be fat anymore.

In truth, this attempt at losing weight isn't at all about being "hot." I am not getting a jump start on a "bikini body." I have two very specific reasons for wanting to lose weight, and believe it or not, they have zero to do with appearance:

1) I want to drop a weight class for powerlifting competitions, and I don't want to do it through tricks or dehydration. I want to lose that weight for the long-term, not just for one event at a time. (For those of you who don't know, being in a lower weight class but lifting heavier makes you more competitive.)

2) This is the more important reason - I really effing miss running. I really do. I know some of you think I'm crazy, but I'm seeing so many friends training for marathons right now, and it fills me with such sad longing. I don't know if I will ever specifically run marathons again, but hell, I want to try. I want to put myself in the best position I can do that, and therefore, I need to drop some of this extra weight I've put on to lessen the impact on my knee.

When I try to remember the last time I was really happy with my body, it was two years ago when I was training for the California International Marathon - not because of how I looked, but because I was firing on all cylinders, and I felt efficient and powerful. I was doing what I loved, and I felt unstoppable. I was running consistently, sleeping well, hydrating a lot, and eating what I felt was the optimal diet for me, and I felt awesome. And... I was lighter than I am now.

But then after the marathon, I eased up on my intensity in all those areas, and also got sick (just the usual bad winter illness), which led to a huge drop in activity and a lax approach to food. A few months and about twenty pounds later, when I started trying to run again, my knee felt like hell, and it hasn't been the same since. And the rest, as you know, is history.

So here I am now. For the most part, I've been resisting the option of losing weight, because it's such a Pandora's Box for me. Like I said, there's no way you can make that decision in a vacuum and say that it's entirely uninfluenced by society's constant, constant battering ram of beauty standards. (Even I appreciated the WORLD of clothing options that were open to me twenty pounds ago that seem to be closed now.) I mean, I'm actually embarrassed and a little ashamed to even want to lose weight, because I feel like I'm admitting defeat and giving in to the pressure, even though this really isn't about trying to improve my looks. I know I'm doing this for my own reasons, and the fact that I have my own reasons makes my choice at least slightly feminist, but the truth is my choice is upholding the status quo, and I feel bad about that.

Am I reinforcing weight-based oppression by admitting that I want to lose weight? I mean, this wouldn't be the first (or last) time I've made a decision for myself that upholds the status quo (hello, I keep a makeup blog), but the fact that my own personal experiences with past weight-loss endeavors have been full of self-loathing and an obsessive need to conform to societal beauty standards seriously makes me question whether I'm capable of actually doing this without reopening those wounds. In essence, can I make this decision to lose weight in a vacuum, if I will it hard enough? If I keep telling myself and everyone else that I'm losing weight for different reasons, are those words going to be enough to fight back against our fat-shaming culture? Or is that which we call a rose by any other name still going to make us gag by coming on too strong?

Maybe I'm overcomplicating things. I have a tendency to do that.

But on the other hand, I also notice the "Hey, you look great!" comments that pop up in profusion when someone posts a picture after some weight loss has occurred, whether it was intentional or not ("I'm sorry you had the stomach flu, but it was a good way to lose 8 pounds, amirite?"). And I notice the profound lack of such comments when the pounds come back, as if only thinness deserves praise or even attention. (Like, if you're telling me I look great when I'm thinner, does that imply that I don't also look great when I'm fatter?)

And this is the sort of thing that makes me even the slightest bit hesitant about any concerted effort at weight loss on my part, because even though I know in my heart that I'm doing it in the name of athletic prowess and efficiency, it's not going to change the fact that the positive feedback I might get will be related to appearance. I don't want to be told "Hey, you look great!" if the reason for that compliment is weight loss. Weight loss is one of the possible outcomes of adjusting your diet and physical activity. If I'm going to be complimented, let it not be for my looks. Or if it has to be for my looks, then at least choose something that I'm directly responsible for, like my eyeshadow application or my sartorial choices.

So I've been at war with myself about this, ever since the ortho I saw a year ago suggested weight loss as one possible option for alleviating my knee issues. But honestly, it's an avenue that I need to explore. And I'm going to do it the "right" way - cleaning up my diet, increasing my workouts (especially by throwing in some non-impact cardio like swimming), and continuing to lift heavy. No magic pills, no body wraps, no weight-loss shakes or teas - I'm looking for the total opposite of a quick fix. My ultimate endgame is athletic badassery and to return to a sport that I love, and I can only achieve that by being the best I can be, not necessarily the smallest. I'm not happy that my decision upholds the societal status quo, but... maybe there's a way I can keep fighting the good fight. Maybe if I don't call it weight loss. I don't know. I don't know if there's any way I can frame it such that the words and my body can carry less weight without somehow adding to the collective weight on society's (especially women's) shoulders. But I'm going to try. If I can't do it with words, then I will do it through action.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I made a blanket with jumbo yarn!

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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I'm willing to wait for it

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, works out earlier in the day.) And it's fine, because I'm not the most social person anyway, but sometimes I just felt alone in my journey. I'm not saying that people weren't wonderfully supportive and kind, because they absolutely were and I love them to pieces for it; I'm saying that I often wished for a crew (or even a buddy!) who was doing the same thing I was - someone with whom to share the journey and the experiences.

So now I've got one. And I'm nervous as hell because I desperately don't want to let them down. (And I also don't want to let down everyone who's rooting for me at home either.)

I had a lot of fears going into last night, about disappointing Jeron and Team Savage, about disappointing everyone at Anchored, and especially about disappointing myself. I haven't worked out since July, and even before I left, I was showing up only sporadically anyway. I've spent the last two months in such a funk because my life has been in this suspended state for so long where I was ready for normalcy (craving it!) but I was not ready to definitely head in one direction or another. I wasn't ready to join Savage until now because we've been trying to get our life settled, and I think the lack of physical activity really took its toll on me mentally - I've been feeling depressed, restless, even physically ill. Nothing about my life right now resembles what it used to be, and again, I know I should count my blessings that I have been given the opportunity to take a breather, but like I've been saying, I am not a person who handles "rest" very well.

So anyway - my fears. In addition to my mental funk, I have been dealing my fears as well. I've spent the last few years watching two sports that I love (derby and running) eliminate themselves from my life as options, and then I experienced tremendous difficulty with my knee in the two weeks leading up to my competition in March. I would be lying if there wasn't a voice in my head that constantly asks, "What if you can't do this anymore either? What if this thing is over before it even starts? What if you never match your PRs ever again, let alone exceed them? What if you have already reached the end of the line?"

And I feel pressure now (self-applied pressure) to measure up. I've set this bar for myself, and I am desperate to hurl myself over it. I mean, I'm smart enough to know that I need to take my time getting back to my old level of fitness, but there is an undercurrent of urgency to live up to my numbers and to make people proud, to create a space for myself in this sport and prove that I belong there. In a way, it feels worse now to know what I'm capable of, as opposed to being a wide-eyed newbie who was just good at following instructions: now I'm invested; I have something at stake. And the expectations I've placed on myself are a double-edged sword.

But I need to trust the process, and I need to trust my body. Being betrayed by another person is a difficult thing, but what about when it's your own body that betrays you? How do you rebuild that trust?

I need to believe that my strength will return. But I need to learn patience. I need to learn how to wait for it. I've waited this long to move to Oregon; I've waited this long to finally join Savage and start working out again; I can wait for my body to catch up too.

It felt good to lift. I'm happy to be back. I can't wait to see what the future holds for me in this sport.

Monday, September 19, 2016

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 and time schedules and responsibilities, I feel absolutely adrift. And I'm a little isolated here - I have Portland-area friends, but in truth, I'm not ready to be social yet. (I haven't even worn makeup in the last three weeks, if that gives you an idea of how not-myself I've been lately.) I've left the house mostly just to run errands, and otherwise, I'm just inside all the time. I know, it's not healthy, but my inertia has completely changed.

But like I said, I'm "busy" too - just, not busy doing anything of consequence. I'm trying to take advantage of this opportunity I've been blessed with to finally get to the things I've always wished I had more time to do.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Idyllic or just idle?

For me, actually "nothing" is quite impossible
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 should go do that. But this whole "being unemployed" thing does not sit well with me. I know that any normal year, I would be at school right now (literally, right now - I'd be on campus at this particular second), wishing that it was still summer. Except that this year, I technically AM still having summer, but I can't shake this nagging feeling that I should be doing something.

I'm not complaining that I have nothing to do. I have LOTS to do, and I'm not bored. It's more like, nothing that I AM doing right now is satisfying my need to "serve a purpose," if that makes any sense. I've lived my adult life with this relentless need to fill up my calendar and push forward, and at the moment, I don't have any goals or endgames in mind, so my planner pages and my days feel a little empty.

I'm sure I sound like a jerk, and that there are a lot of people who would trade places with me in a heartbeat so that they can have a chance to relax and do nothing. I don't know what to say, other than I apologize for being a jerk, but I am profoundly unable to relax and do nothing, at least, for extended periods of time.

I'm even terrible at vacationing. My parents like to take relaxing tropical vacations fairly often, and I haven't joined them since I was a teenager, because after the first day, I get restless. Actually, it doesn't even take a full day - after about 15 minutes of sitting in a lounge chair, I have to get up and go walk around or explore or something. (And also, I don't like hot weather or direct sunlight.)

When I think back to any trips I've taken in the last five years, they've all been centered around athletic events or they have been to busy places like Disneyland. Even when I've come up to Portland over the last few years, I've had to jam-pack my days or else I would start to feel antsy. As much as I've complained about needing a breather, I honestly don't know how to sit down and breathe.

This is a rough space for me to be navigating right now. I'm uncertain of my future professionally and even athletically, and not having the pressure of work or training for an event is actually more pressure than having them.

So why don't I just find a job then? Why don't I find something to train for and start doing it? Believe me, I've been having fits of panicked job-searching. But I'm also trying to remind myself that I haven't even been here a month yet. We still have boxes to unpack. Jolie hasn't started school yet. I should take a damn breather and slooooooooow down. I know logically that I should treat this time as the blessing and the privilege that it is and take full advantage of the fact that I can take time off, but it's hard to change who I am, someone who has kept herself REALLY busy for the last decade, who has suddenly found herself in a whole new life.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy Esther Day from the Pacific Northwest!

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 people I know and love from work, from derby, from running, from powerlifting, from all the schools I have attended in my life, and of course, my family. 

I love you. I love you. I LOVE YOU. I unabashedly, unashamedly love you, from the very depths of my heart. 

I don't know who I would be without you. I don't know WHERE I would be without you. I am the luckiest person in the world to have such an amazing squad of friends, colleagues, and family. 

I have spent the last few weeks visiting people and saying goodbyes (to the best of my ability - I'm sorry that I couldn't see everyone!), and it never fails to astound me how many people are just... IN my life, who show up for me, who are there for me. Y'all are amazing, and you inspire me, and I LOVE YOU, and even though I'm far away, I'm going to try my best to be there for you too.

I love you, and I miss you, and I hope that I will get to see you again before long. Thank you for being a friend.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Looking ahead and looking behind

Source unknown
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/given away? ABSOLUTELY. I've been thinking about this in abstract for the past year, and now it's time to actually put things in motion. It's GO time.

At this point, I feel like what I'm looking forward to even more than Oregon itself is just finally taking the step forward. I feel like I've been living on the cusp for this past year (especially this past month), where things have to be halted and put on hold. A lot of things are up in the air for me right now, and lately I feel like I'm standing at the starting line for race, perpetually waiting for the gun to go off, but it just hasn't yet. Like, I've been holding my breath and waiting for an entire year.

Well, I only have two weeks more to wait, I suppose.

I've been trying to say my goodbyes and wrap up my business. Like, June was full of an onslaught of medical appointments, squeezed in before my work-covered insurance ran out. I'm trying to see as many friends as I can, visit as many of my favorite spots as I can, and just generally soak in California-ness before I go.

One thing I haven't been doing enough of is lifting. (Seriously, I apologize if you started following my blog or social media because of my lifting videos, and then got... nothing.) After my competition in March, I went straight into running because of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in May (and not doing much of either since), and this is pretty typical of the inner pushing and pulling that I feel, between these two sports, between past and future, etc.

The more I try to get back into the running, the more I've realized that I really am just not capable of it right now - not until I lose some weight to alleviate the impact on knee, not until I've fully internalized the fact that I just can't do high mileage runs anymore. I would love to be that person who says "Screw medical advice!!!" and actually proves them wrong, and maybe I actually CAN do that, but I can't do that and ALSO expect to be able to squat heavy. Right now, I HAVE to choose.

And I've decided that I'm going to choose lifting. Even if I do get around to losing weight, the truth is that my running trajectory has been capped - there's only so far I can go at this point (literally and figuratively), with the damage I've done to my knee. I'm never going to run a faster marathon (or even run another one, period). I'm probably never going to complete an ultra. I know I could try to improve my 5k and 10k times, but to be honest, those are not distances I'm interested in dedicating myself to. There's nothing wrong with them, and certainly there are AMAZING elite runners who stick to 5k and 10k races, but for some reason, my heart has always belonged to longer distances. It's just what I love.

But powerlifting... it's still new to me, and I feel like the sky is the limit. I don't feel like I've done nearly everything that I'm capable of in powerlifting, and it's exciting to think of how far I can go. I have this crazy idea in my head that I could compete at USAPL Nationals someday. (And maybe it's not such a crazy idea, because I think my last meet total, if I had done it at a sanctioned meet, would qualify me NOW.) Just to GO and compete would be such an amazing accomplishment, and I really think that I can do this.

Looking ahead, of course, I have already found a powerlifting gym near-ish to our new home that already trains lots of competitive lifters, so all I need to do is, you know, GO...

But we still have two more weeks. And so, I'm still holding my breath. Waiting.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let me tell you about Jimmy.

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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Race recap: See Jane Run 5k in Alameda

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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

What does it mean to matter?

Watch the full vlog here. It's worth it.

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 tell me that I did, in fact, matter. In the past couple of weeks, I've had quite a number of students drop by to tell me that they will miss me, to tell me how I've impacted their lives and how they were really glad to have been in my class at some point in their high school career. 

It blew me away every single time.

Like I said, I'm not perfect. I didn't always do things well, but I can promise that I was always well-intentioned. Some students I got along with horribly, while others ended up becoming my friends. I'm never going to be one of those teachers who gets a book deal and a Hallmark Channel biopic, but I can confidently look back and say that I've changed some kids' perspectives on important things. Or at the very least, I helped some kids find books/films/other media that they now love, that they wouldn't have sought out on their own. 

These are not huge things that will change the course of human history. In the grand scheme of things, my ten years of teaching high school English will not matter to the universe. _I_ will not matter to the universe. 

But to the many students (and adults!) I've cared about and interacted with over the years, I like to think that I've mattered. And this is what I will hold on to as I figure out the next part of my life, whether that involves returning to the classroom or not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The end of an era, and an uncertain future

(Design source unknown)
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 walking toward. I'm not just leaving my hometown, but also my long-time career. I'm walking away from a very comfortable, familiar life towards an uncertain future, and while it's scary (thank god I have safety nets), it's also exciting, because it's full of possibility.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not often struck with moments of profound sadness at the steps I'm about to take. While I have spent this past year cataloguing things that I will NOT miss about my job (item #1- stacks and stacks of essays to grade), there are also many, many things that I will miss. And especially in recent days, now that the school year is drawing to a close for what is potentially the last time for me, I am reminded that not only has my life been not that bad, it has actually been pretty awesome.

I've gotten to share some of my favorite books and films with my students, and watched them open up their minds and blossom. I've forged bonds with some of them that have lasted beyond their high school years, and I've gotten to see them grow into amazing young adults. The teachers I work with are some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever met. I have a fair amount of autonomy and control over what I teach in my own classroom, and even through the roughest of times, I've felt confident that my union and my district are taking care of us - not all teachers can say that. MHS has a community of teachers who really fight for each other, and if I'm being absolutely honest, I couldn't have asked for a better place to start out as a teacher. In fact, one could say that I've been spoiled being here.

I'm not going to lie, I've shed many tears this year (mostly in private) about everything that I'm leaving. I've lost sleep thinking about the impending goodbyes. I've been struck dumb by the outpouring of caring that I've received from people who I didn't realize cared about me that much. I've had almost an entire year to mentally prepare myself, but I don't think that time has made it any easier, actually.

And I haven't even begun to discuss all of the non-job-related things I will miss about living here in the Bay Area, namely, the fact that my whole entire life is here, from my family and friends to my favorite running trail and my gym. (And this also doesn't even touch the surface of what Jimmy and Jolie are leaving behind too.)

But at the same time, I've never felt more ready to go. I could offer many reasons why I would prefer to live in Portland instead of the Bay Area and why I would like to, if not quit teaching altogether, then at least take a year off and explore other interests. But to be honest, those reasons and those desires have always been there; it is only now that I've felt ready to make that leap.

One more week. I think I'm ready.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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

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...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Race recap: the runDisney 2016 Pixie Dust Challenge

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 be a major obstacle, and then after that was over, I was injured/sick/just plain busy, so I didn't even run enough to properly train for a 5k, let alone a 19.3-mile weekend.

Well. Que sera, sera.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Day

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.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Darbysmart DIY box!

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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

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

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?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring brings new beginnings

The Oregon sky, from my backyard
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 have a lot of hobbies and activities down here because I have a hard time settling down. I constantly feel like I need to be on the move, going somewhere or taking care of something.

This was my first trip to Portland in a while where I barely left the house (except to get food, or to haul furniture), and it was really nice. It was kinda like a stay-cation, except we did technically go on a trip, but otherwise, it was mellow and we have awesome couches for lounging around, and with the additional furniture we assembled this time, we started to get a clearer vision for our new home. And you know what? I like what I see. The pieces of the puzzle that is the rest of my life are starting to come together.

My new reading corner. Now I just need to bring my books!
I have six more weeks of school left, and roughly the same amount of time left after that before we say goodbye to California for good. It's stressful to move, and it's hard to leave loved ones and familiar places behind, but it's also exciting because it's a chance to reset and start anew.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Onward, ho!

Credit: runDisney
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 it because I've been focusing so much on training for my meet, and that itself was riddled with knee issues.

What now? I only have enough time left to really make sure that I train the distance. Trust me, I'm not planning any PRs this time. I just want to finish on time. I've gone into half marathons with far lower levels of fitness, but the one thing I can't fake is the toll the distance takes. Literally, whenever I haven't trained the distance, the bones in my feet will start hurting by mile 9 or 10, even if I'm just walking, without even trying to run. At this point, I need to prioritize the distance, and just make sure that I go a fast enough pace to finish on time. No heroics - just FINISH. That means I need to be hitting that mileage no matter how long it takes, whether I have to walk, tiptoe, or crawl.


This might very well be the end of my long-distance running "career." Depending on how this goes, I might have to strike half marathons from my list as well, and just focus on getting good at 5k's and 10k's. But for now... I have this one LAST big goal, and I'm determined to see it through.

Send me your good vibes, you guys. I need my knee to hold out just a few weeks more.

Faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Monday, March 21, 2016

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

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 behind my knee cap, and it hasn't been the same since. I couldn't really bend my knee for days, and I couldn't even do full air squats (bodyweight squats, no barbell) until a few days before the meet. Considering how my planned opening attempt for my backsquat was over 400 pounds, to say that I was nervous would be understating it by quite a bit. I mean, yeah, I was crying after my workout on Wednesday. Visions danced in my head of my knee giving out on the platform, plates crashing down around me, my limbs askew. (I know that wouldn't actually happen, because there are spotters, but I have an overly dramatic imagination, which often works to my disadvantage.)

I wasn't just nervous. I wasn't just stressed, even. I was actually afraid - afraid I would either fail or I would hurt myself severely. Afraid I would let down everyone who has been supporting me and believing in me. Afraid I would let myself down, knowing that (due to other life things) I won't get another chance to do this for a while. The voice in my own head is always the meanest and the most severe.

I was in pretty bad shape, mentally and physically. I wasn't going to quit or anything, but I was seriously considering adjusting my numbers down or dropping to just push/pull (bench and deadlift, no squat). BUT... I knew I would never be happy with myself for it. Even if it would've been the right decision medically, could you be happy settling for less when you know that you're truly capable of more? I could accept it as necessary, but I could never be happy about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

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 (when I won't be here). Don't get me wrong - moving is still happening, and overall, I'm more excited than anything, but it's hard to shake the guilt of being The One Who Leaves, even though I know that it's the best decision for myself and my family.

But that particular voice in my head won't stop whispering "You quitter," and there's another voice in my head that whispers back, "Well, you were never really that good at teaching anyway. Everyone is better off without you." And keep in mind, as they duke it out inside my head, there are still the first two things stressing me out, the first two voices telling me "There's probably something seriously wrong with your knee, and even if you're fine to lift on Sunday - which MIGHT NOT HAPPEN - maybe whatever you did last week did some PERMANENT DAMAGE!" and also "This world is full of horrible people, and it's all going to hell anyway!" *cue evil laughter*

So I already was in a somber mood by the time I got to the gym, and then I barely made it through my bench press set - even though I know logically that 90% of your max for any MORE than 1 rep is a lot to handle, I still beat myself up for not being able to complete the set, and I was exhausted, and my 90% deadlifts felt way heavier than 90%, and I couldn't do anything else listed for the workout because of my knee.

Oh, and I had started my lady times yesterday too, so... there's that. I mean, on the plus side, it started a few days in advance of my competition, but on the down side, it means I'm definitely not pregnant, and that is something I am hoping to be in the near future. Even now would've cool, universe.

I just... I cried in my car on the way home from the gym. Hell, I cried in the parking lot, walking to my car, and then cried in my car on the way home from the gym.

Damn.I am a MESS.

I know logically that I will be fine no matter what, and that in the end, things will all work out for the best, but once you're sucked into that spiral of bad feelings, it is really hard to stop that onslaught of despair and panic.

Who knows why this happens? Exhaustion? Hormones? Every now and then, things reach a breaking point, and the pot boils over, and then after that... numbness.

I'm still waiting for the numbness. Because after the numbness comes clarity, and I could use some of that for sure.

But for right now? Mess. A big spirally whirlygig of mess.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Leave the couch potatoes out of it

<--- 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 like running or lifting or yoga and to just not do it. It's okay to prioritize other ways of managing your health, or to prioritize other things period.

Maybe you work three jobs, and it's all you can do to make sure your family eats well and still get 6 hours of sleep. Maybe your job already requires intense physical labor and your joints ache when you get home every day and you're downing anti-inflammatories like candy. Maybe you have a chronic illness that keeps you from exercising. Maybe you have been berated/bullied for your weight your entire life, to the point that you have intense anxiety about being seen exercising and the idea of setting foot in a gym or out on the sidewalk scares you to the point of tears. Maybe you are what society calls "lazy" and you're perfectly okay with that.

The point is, it's your body. It's your body, and therefore it's none of my business, and therefore I'm not going to throw you under the bus just to make myself feel better about being a slow runner. I'm not inherently better than someone else just because I go to the gym. My life doesn't hold more value or meaning just because my goals and deeds are athletic.

Because you know what? I was somebody on a couch once. Hell, I'm STILL somebody on a couch much of the time (and if I'm not on a couch, I'm often wishing that I am). I've spent so many years of my life internalizing that BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER message, that these days when I'm actually forced to be "on the couch" (due to injury), I beat myself up for it severely. And it kinda sucks, because clearly, I'm injured and I should be healing, but instead, I'm feeling depressed about "doing nothing."

So, again, I understand the point of the message and what its intent was, but sometimes you can't just consider intent - you have to consider impact too. And whether intended or not, using people who just don't have the means or the inclination to prioritize exercise as your own personal motivation... it just doesn't seem very nice to me. Each and every one of us moves through this world with our own baggage, our own set of obstacles, and to quote the great Atticus Finch, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

So, I beg you, find your mojo some other way - maybe look to athletes who are at a level that you hope to reach; maybe look at your own numbers; maybe just walk around yelling BEASTMODE. I don't know. Just maybe... leave the couch potatoes out of it?

Thursday, March 3, 2016


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:

I'm excited, I'm sore, I'm nervous... This is my first full meet, and it's also going to be my last one in California, since I don't think I will be able to fit in another one before we move, and then who knows what will be going on in my life for a while? So while any number I throw up there will be great, I know deep in my heart that I won't be satisfied unless I meet my goals, because it'll be a long time before I have another chance to try. So the pressure is on, even if I'm the only one applying it.

T-minus 17 days...

Saturday, February 20, 2016


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 I definitely never, ever want to have a wedding. I look at other people's wedding and engagement photos, and I appreciate their happiness and their beauty, but aside from that? I feel no pull of longing for that myself.

I'm an introvert and a homebody, and even just being at a dinner party means that, when I get home, I will be holing up in my room alone for the rest of the evening. Forget ever hosting a party myself, unless I make sure there's a quiet corner for me to hide myself in.

I used to want to have a slim figure and a six-pack, but now the idea of trying to lose weight holds zero interest for me anymore. Even the 10 pounds or so that I would need to lose to drop down to the next weight class below me just makes me shrug my shoulders. I'm never going to have a "desirable" body type. I'm not a "hot girl," and I'm okay with that, because there's no point in turning heads anyway if most of the time, I'm like, "Don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me."

I suppose this is how other people feel when they talk about not wanting kids. I have actually always wanted lots of kids, but then again, am I a normal mom? I see how the other kids - and their parents - look at me when I show up to pick up my child from school. Kids that I don't know know that I'm Jolie's mom, with the multi-colored hair, tattoos, and muscles.

I'm not insecure about myself, but I do sometimes wonder how I ended up the way I did, hardwired to want certain things and not to want other things, especially if mostly everyone else I know wants or doesn't want the opposite. I wonder why I apparently ended up not normal.

I understand that conformity is overrated. I get that. I also get that social media is a curated look into other people's lives, and that maybe every single person I know thinks of themselves as at least a little bit weird.

But I can't help wishing that I was normal sometimes, you know? My life would be so much easier. I would fit in better, talk to people more easily. Maybe if I wanted the same things/cared about the same movies and tv shows/listened to Adele/could more easily ignore problematic kyriarchal media, then I wouldn't walk around feeling like, "ME, I'm a weird one. I have ISSUES."

But then I just wouldn't be me, I guess. I would not be living authentically. And I'm not saying that everyone else is not being authentic - I just feel like my authentic choices somehow ended up completely different from most other people's authentic choices. And I understand logically that that's okay, but... I still feel the unease of being different.

So, again, while I'm not insecure about it, exactly, I do struggle with it. The more I know about other people's lives, the more I realize that my life doesn't seem to measure up quite the same way. And I worry about myself because of that. But I'm also deathly afraid of not being my authentic self, whatever that means, so what's a girl to do? Obviously, I will keep on keepin' on, but... is there anything that eases this feeling? Will I someday be 80 years old and still feeling like I'm not normal?