Saturday, May 12, 2018

Digital bullet journalling?

For some basics on bullet journalling, please check out my previous blog post on the subject.

So, bullet journalling is a huge, HUGE thing, with the draw being that it's an adaptable system--people can make their bujos however they want to, however it works for them. It's highly customizable, ranging from minimalistic and functional to fabulous, intricate works of art in their own right. (And I should say, "Bullet Journal" is technically its own brand, so every company that wants "in" on bullet journalling has had to call their products "bullet planners" or whatever, but it's basically all the same.)

However, the main commonality between all bujos everywhere has been the fact that it is a pen-and-paper thing. "The analog system for the digital age," proclaims the official website. So what happens when you take your bujo and make it digital???

Digital planning has been picking up steam, apparently, but it appeared on MY radar when one of the biggest bullet journal names in the game, Kara from Boho Berry, announced that she was going to try out digital planning (and start offering one of her own for purchase on her Etsy shop).

At first I was like, "Whaaaaaaaaat! NOTHING BEATS PEN AND PAPER. What is even the difference between digital planning and using my Calendar app on my iPhone?"

Narrator: There is actually quite a difference.

I continued to watch Kara's videos on digital planning, and when Boho Berry digital planners launched a week or so ago, I decided to pick one up for myself (which is to say, I downloaded it) and give it a try.

Before we start though:

  • I have only been playing around with my Boho Berry digital planner. I haven't tried anyone else's. I know they are out there. But I chose this one because I'm a fan of Kara's brand and her art style/aesthetic. Other digital planners might offer different features. Specifically, I bought the undated version with weekly spreads, so I can reuse it next year if I want to.
  • Basically, this blog post might read like one long advertisement for Boho Berry, which I guess it is, but also, I want to give credit where it's due, because I know she put a lot of work into these planners (and continues to do so, since she's always taking feedback and working on new things, and she is apparently answering questions CONSTANTLY in the Boho Berry Digital Planners Facebook group). 
  • If you watch Kara's videos on Youtube, you will see that she uses a large iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. I, however, am using an iPad Air 2 with an amPen stylus. It still works beautifully, although due to the difference in equipment and artistic ability, my planner definitely doesn't look as pretty as hers :)
  • It's hard to share what's in your planner without sharing your personal business, so I'm asking you not to judge me on my business. kthanks.
Alright, so... the digital planner that I'm using is essentially a PDF file with links in it, and in order to use it, you need to have an app that can annotate PDF files. So in addition to buying the planner, I had to download a new app. I'm using the recommended GoodNotes (Android users have been encouraged to check out Xodo, I think?), but I don't even mind because this app pretty much blows my mind with all the neat stuff it can do. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here's the front page of the planner:


The tabs are clickable (as are all the social media icons, which will take you to Boho Berry pages). If you click on one of the monthly tabs on the side, it will take you to a monthly view:


So, remember how I was like, How is digital planning EVEN different from using my Calendar app on my iPhone??? Well, this is how. Instead of clicking on things and typing info into an app, I get to handwrite on the screen. Yep, that's MY ugly scrawl right there. The actual physical act of writing things down is still there. It's just that instead of writing with paper and pen, I'm writing with a stylus on a screen. But it is definitely not the same as typing. 

In addition, I can still use stickers to decorate my planner! Those cherry blossoms above? Those were actually free Boho Berry downloads. Here they are in my digital sticker book (which came with my purchase of the planner):


You use the lasso tool to select the sticker you want, copy it, and then just paste it into your planner. As a fanatic of stickers and washi tape, I love the idea that I can collect a ton and actually use them as many times as I want to. (Since, you know, once you use a sticker, it's not typically reusable.) Also, thanks to additional (but free!) apps like Vectornator and Magic Eraser, I can turn basically any image into a digital sticker for my digital planner, including words/labels. It's entirely possible I've spent more time making stickers for my planner than actually using my planner =P Also, thanks to the ability to resize, I can use stickers however I want, as long as the image resolution holds up.

Okay, so back to the monthly spread:

Thu needs more sleep
Boho Berry's particular layout has a small tracker on the side, which I love. I originally saw her do this in her paper bujo and replicated it in my own notebook, and I found that I used it a lot more than when I had my tracker on a separate page from my monthly spread, because in my planner, the pages that I look at the most are my monthly spread and my weekly spread. Everything else, I kinda forget to look at sometimes. 

I could easily use Vectornator to type up everything I want (in whatever font I want) and paste it in, but I like writing in all my dates and events. (I am grateful not to have to draw the actual calendar and tracker though!) Again, I'm not using an Apple Pencil, so my stylus/iPad interaction is not super precise, but my handwriting on screen looks halfway decent if I zoom in. And that's a neat thing about digital planning: most dot grid notebooks have 5mm spacing, and they will ALWAYS be 5mm spacing because you can't zoom in on a piece of paper; at best, you can just get a finer-point pen. But as someone with typically LARGE handwriting anyway, being able to zoom in makes life easier and makes my writing tidier.

This particular planner is set up so that, to get to the weekly spreads, I could either "turn the page," or I could click on the upper left corner of each Monday box to jump to that particular week. (By the way, I HAVE heard that Kara is working on Sunday-start planners for those of you who prefer Sunday starts.) So, for example, if you click on where I wrote the 7 above for May 7th, it will take you to that particular week.

I didn't screenshot my entire week for you, but I did want to show you the same two days in my Leuchtturm vs. my digital planner:



I've been double-planning just to see how it goes: I'm still primarily sticking to my notebook, and then I'm writing the same stuff in my digital planner. The layouts are the same--8 quarter-page boxes over a two-page spread--except that in my notebook, I made the first box my "Notes" box (with the seven days of the week following), whereas Kara started the spread immediately with Monday and made the last box the blank one. In the digital planner, the days of the week were already written in, and then I had to go in and write the dates themselves. (If you buy the dated planner, the dates are already there.)

You can see that it's still a dot grid page (with roughly the same amount of rows/columns per page as a Leuchtturm), and although the aesthetic is spiral-bound, you obviously don't have any coils in your way when you write on the left side. I decided to make a "sticker" of the things I track daily using Vectornator and Kara's Berry Bubble font:


So I can just copy-paste that part into each day of the week, instead of writing it by hand seven times. That's nice :) What's also pretty cool is that, if you're a super-perfectionist, GoodNotes has a Shape Detector tool, so when you're making, say, a bunch of checklist boxes, it will make your boxes (and triangles, and circles, and lines) more "perfect." (I'm NOT a super-perfectionist, but it's nice to have that ability.)

And of course, if I kind of just mess up or change my daily plans completely, I can use the "undo" option, the erase tool, or even the "clear page" option, and re-do/start fresh. Which you can't really do on paper. (I mean, yes, you can use pencils or erasable pens, but that can only take you so far.)

Okay, so what with all the cool new features and capabilities that digital planning offers, why stick to a notebook for your planning needs???
  • I happen to be a fountain pen fan, and as cool as I imagine an Apple Pencil to be, it's not the same as writing with a fountain pen. Pen-and-paper is an experience; clicking colors on a screen is not the same as changing the ink in your pen. And thus far, I don't think iPads can replicate the effects of sheening/shimmering ink :) I mean, what IS the hex code to match J. Herbin's Emerald of Chivor???
  • Okay, but what if you are not a fountain pen fan? First of all, you're wrong. Just kidding =P But really, there is a slight learning curve with getting used to GoodNotes (or whatever app you're using), and writing with a stylus on a screen, and sometimes it's just darn faster to flip to the appropriate page and scribble things down on paper than it is to unlock your iPad, find the page you want, and then zoom in, and make sure that the pen tool is selected, etc. etc. I imagine that as you adjust, it'll be a faster process, but for now, I'm just a lot more efficient with pen and paper than stylus and screen.
  • You never have to recharge a notebook. I like having my notebook open on my desk so I can glance at it while I'm working. I either have to constantly turn my iPad back on, or I could set it so it NEVER turns off, and just completely drain my battery :) On the other hand, you can use your notebook in the dark, so... tradeoffs.
  • Physical permanence. You can definitely set your GoodNotes to back up your planner on iCloud so you don't lose your information, but is that quite the same has having a lovely row of archived notebooks? On the other hand, maybe you're limited in space and you can't have piles of notebooks everywhere. Or, you know, you can grab an iPad if your house is burning down, but you might struggle to grab a ton of notebooks off your shelf.
Honestly, this is a lot like the eReader vs. physical books debate. There are pluses and minuses for both, and as someone who loves books as well as my Kindle, and has room for both things in my life, I'm kinda feeling the same way about digital planning. (Though, if I eventually get an Apple Pencil and compatible iPad, that may tip the scales in favor of digital.) Even if I switch to digital planning, I'm still going to sketch, do calligraphy, and journal in a notebook, mainly because I don't want things THAT personal getting backed up on iCloud but also because I just cannot see myself ever giving up pen and paper. But this is definitely an exciting new option, one I'm happy to spend some time exploring :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Help me explore PDX!

Despite having lived here over a year and a half, I haven't spent much time exploring the PDX area. I know I've been visiting here on and off for years, and I know I went to COLLEGE here, but things change, and places go away, and new places spring up in their place, so even areas I used to visit aren't quite the same anymore anyway.

So, I am making it a goal of mine to spend more time getting to know this beautiful, amazing area I live in, and I wouldn't mind your help!

Because I'm a planner/journalling junkie, and I have most recently been working out of a (gorgeous!) Chic Sparrow traveler's notebook system, I've decided to start a notebook insert specifically for the purpose of cataloguing the various places I've been to in the Portland area (plus, keeping a list of places I want to visit).

This is sort of like my own personal Yelp notebook. I want to make note of stuff like available parking or general notes about directions to get there (like, do I HAVE to take four different freeways?) and if it's a food place, what's good on the menu? Do I get free stuff for my birthday (*cough* Pip's Donuts *cough*)? Are there other cool things nearby? Do they host events? And just other general cool stuff like that. Stores. Restaurants. Neighborhoods. Book stores. Craft stores.

I don't want info I can look up on Yelp, I want info from people in the know.

So yeah. Got any suggestions? Especially uniquely-Portland places (or the surrounding area) and or places that pertain to my interests. (Example: Collage!)

PS-- Yes, I'm well aware of Powell's. I also visit Salt & Straw and Blue Star Donuts whenever I'm near one. I've been to Pip's once and Pine State Biscuits once.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Official meet results were posted, and I'm having some feelings

I’ve been having a rough training week so far, since we’ve switched into a faster/high-rep phase, and I’m still stuck on heavier/slower mode (story of my life, lol) but I wanted to share this because 1) it cheers me up, and 2) it reminds me why I need to tough this out: because even though I did really well, I still have more to work for.

Rankings are based on Wilks scores
Official meet results were posted (in yellow/white above), which means YAY I’M OFFICIAL!!!! Which was ultimately my main goal in the first place (show up, survive the day).

And also, I’m now listed on openpowerlifting.org, which is a really cool site if you like looking at numbers and rankings. As of this morning, I’m 127th among all USPA Raw female lifters (the skinny middle part of the picture), and I’m in the top ten for my weight class (bottom part of the picture) 😁 Like, in the entire country.

I’m FLOORED. I am not being falsely modest, I swear. I kid you not, that I was not sporty growing up. (People who have known me/followed me for a while, you know this.) I have always been larger, slower, and reluctant. No one would have ever looked at me when I was younger and said “She could be pretty good at SOME sport.” I mean, some people might look at me NOW and not think that about me, because they still think that "fit" and "athletic" are indicated by a certain aesthetic (e.g., not fat), particularly if you're a woman, and I'm pretty sure that I do not "look like" an athlete.

But hey, the numbers are there. Like, officially there :)

This whole thing--training, the meet, the attention I've gotten, the sponsorship--has been a huge whirlwind for me, and I'm still not quite sure how to process all of it. I mean, aside from JUST KEEP DOING THE WORK. I'm not lying when I say that when I train, I just kind of keep my head down and go through my workout. I don't know anything about the WORLD of powerlifting as a sport; I only know how to do the movements. Until now, I had no idea where I ranked among other powerlifters, because yeah, I know my numbers are high, but following people like Stefi Cohen, Gina Aversa, Kim Walford, etc., on Instagram has a way of making me feel like my numbers aren't really all that special in comparison. (And yeah, I've talked about this whole comparison effect before, a lot.)

So, yeah, I don't like to spend a whole lot of time thinking about where I am in comparison to other people, and when someone says to me, "I don't think you realize how strong you are," I'm like, "I really don't! I just show up and do my thing!" and maybe it's better that way, because it keeps me grounded. In the end, it doesn't matter where my results place me, but it DOES matter whether I can honestly say that I tried my best and that I put in the work. It DOES matter whether I've shown respect to my fellow lifters and gratitude to my coaches, the officials, and the volunteers. What matters is what I continue to do on a consistent basis, not what I did that one time.

But just for a minute, let me revel in the fact that this nerdy, awkward fat girl found a sport that she likes and that she is good at :) I'm sure the numbers will change with every meet that gets recorded. I will be bumped up or down or whatever, I'm sure. But for now, I will enjoy this and use it as motivation to keep on keepin' on. This week back has been rough for me, and I've spent all week doubting myself (picture me comically tearing my hair out, like, What is wroooooong with me??), but seeing this motivates me, because it shows me that these hard days, these workouts that focus on the things I suck at... they have a purpose. They have an effect. And that effect is illustrated pretty clearly in those numbers. I need to do the things I'm bad at, so I can get better at the things I'm good at.

So yeah, things are going to be hard for me, for a while. But I just need to keep reminding myself...


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I'm a Muscle & Mirth athlete!

Hey friends and fam!

Since I last blogged, exciting developments have taken place that I've discussed on my social media, but not officially here, so here goes: I have signed on with athlete apparel brand Muscle & Mirth as a brand ambassador!

We've been talking for the past couple of months, and I've been getting to know them as a brand (and getting to know the owners and other Team M&M athletes), and I really like what they stand for. I like the message they put forth, and the designs they create, and I feel like we mesh well. I am excited and proud to represent their brand.

One of the awesome things about being a member of Team M&M is that I get to design a shirt to be sold through their website, so I am beyonnnnnnnd thrilled to share with you all my shirt!!

As I shared on Instagram: as an athlete, a woman, an educator, a human being living in this world, it is a core value of mine to do all I can to build others up, rather than tear people down. Instead of criticizing (not to be confused with critiquing), instead of making people feel awful, instead of zeroing in on flaws and weaknesses, let's uplift. Let's empower. Let's bring out the best in each other, instead of letting out the worst in ourselves. Let's help each other get stronger, together.

So, I'm not going to get all sales-y on you constantly, but if you feel so inclined to pick up one of my shirts (or any of the awesome shirts M&M makes), please head over to their website and be sure to use my code "acciobeastmode" to let them know I sent you :)

My shirts are available in ladies sizing in dark gray (above) or in unisex sizing in red:


Thanks for reading, and thank you to Muscle & Mirth for taking me on!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Meet recap: USPA Drug-Tested Oregon Outlaw Open in Sisters, OR (April 7, 2018)

One of my favorite quotes is the following from Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass:
“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
There's even a bracelet I wear every day with that first sentence stamped on it. I look at these words constantly, and I love their message but I've never really, truly internalized them and fit them into the context of my own life.

That is, until several weeks ago, when my coach Jeron had a heart-to-heart with me via text about training for this meet. It's no secret that I struggle with even just showing up and making training a priority. I was supposed to start training in early January, but I had a difficult time getting things rolling (because of illness/motivation/time/whatever--you know me, it's always something, right?), and I finally managed to build up some momentum, but I was worried about being behind on training because of what I'd already missed, and what sort of numbers I could still manage to hit at this meet.

Anyway, he told me to stop worrying about numbers and to just trust the process. "If you can put in the work consistently, like, just show up and complete your workouts, you will be unstoppable."

And I took that to heart. I stared at his words on my phone, and I stared at the words on the metal bracelet on my wrist, and I swore in that moment to make training consistently a priority. I made an effort to let go of whatever fear I might have been carrying in the back of my mind, and I decided that I would indeed give it everything I had in the time I had left, and see where that would take me. I wanted to see if I could rattle the stars.

And I gave it my all, for sure. Barring a few accessory sets here and there (that I had to skip because I ripped my hand open), I did everything he planned for me, not giving up or taking shortcuts, even when all I wanted to do was go home and lie on the floor. I stopped letting myself make excuses, and I just showed up, and once I was there, I took as long as I had to to finish every single thing on the list.

At some point, a switch flipped in my head, and That Voice stopped saying "Uh, I don't know if I can make it today," and started saying,"But I don't WANT to skip today!" And lo and behold, I became the type of person who arranges to train while on vacation during Spring Break :D (Is that what being an athlete is?)

Also, worth noting, I decided not to try to drop weight to make it into the 198-lb class, even though I'm pretty close. I figured I could still make a decent showing in SHW (Super Heavyweight), and I just did not need one more thing to stress about. It was enough to train, to keep myself healthy, and to get myself to the platform in once piece.

And yeah, I was nervous. I think I must have a nervous temperament in general, but even thinking about the meet was keeping me awake at night. It wasn't until we got to our peak week and I hit a 475 back squat that I really saw, like, actual real proof that everything I was doing was working. I trusted the process, and it was paying off big time.

But of course, I had to be able to do it where it REALLY counted--on the official platform, in front of the official judges, to be recorded as official results.

Yep, HERE
And here we are. I've been a MESS this past week. I was a mess at the meet. People always tell me I look so calm when I lift (and between lifts), but internally, I'm a swirling maelstrom of stress and emotions. My heart rate is like, sky high, and I'm struggling to breathe because I need to slow it down and also because sitting in a chair with a stiff leather belt cinched around my middle is not particularly comfortable, and my brain is going over all of the stupid ways I could tragically eff this up for myself after all of the hard work I've put into it.

This was not my first EVER meet, but it's my first USPA meet, so in addition to personal goals (PRs, recording an official total, PERIOD), I've had it in my head that I'd like to try to break some records. The drug-tested division of USPA is relatively new, so I have a chance to get my name in there. So that was an added Thing On My Mind. And I'd be lying if I said that earning a medal wasn't also a Thing On My Mind. I tried to remind myself that stuff like that is useless to worry about anyway, because it's beyond my control who else shows up to compete and how well they perform, but, you know, in the famous words of Helen Keller, "One cannot consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." Go big or go home, right? Worry worry worry. Stress stress stress.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of people had been telling me they couldn't wait to see how I would do (in a nice way), and so all these high expectations were just pinging around inside me, the weight of them pressing on my insides. I was literally very close to crying while sitting there waiting for my first squat, not because of fear or panic, but because I really needed to just release some emotion, and yelling or running laps would sap too much energy. (I think I didn't let myself because I didn't want to freak anyone out.)

But aside from what was happening inside my head, things were good, actually. I felt prepared. And aside from lack of sleep, I felt healthy. If you recall, for my first-ever meet two years ago, I was struggling with so much knee pain going into it, and I was worried that would happen again (as if my knee had some sort of weight limit), but peak week put me at ease about that for sure, because that big squat was perfectly pain-free. My torn callus had healed, so I was good to go for deadlifts. Physically, I am the strongest I have ever been, even if mentally and emotionally I was... not so much.

Also, I was there among teammates (from both gyms that I train with--more about that later), and I basically trust Jeron with my life at this point, so I knew I would be taken care of. I just needed to keep doing what I've been doing all along: LIFT THE BAR. Repeat 8 more times. Trust the process. Trust my gear. Trust my training. Trust myself.

Here's how it went:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shake the table.

Alea iacta est. The die is cast.

The phrase goes back to when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and marched on Rome. It was a moment, he meant, from which there was no going back.

The die had been cast, he said, and no power of man could prevent it from landing where it would. A roll of the dice is unpredictable, unstoppable.

We have cast our die as well. We have chosen our tactics, we have chosen our champions, and now we go to battle. But the die is still in the air. I do not believe what we do here today is predetermined and cannot be changed.

There is a moment just after the die is cast and before it lands upon the gaming table in which the smallest breeze may change its course—the way it rolls and where it comes to rest.

That is what we must do today. We must give our all to ensure that when the die does come to rest, it favors us.

None of us are perfect. But we have the opportunity to determine our fates day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, with the choices we make and the actions we take.

The die is cast. But today we will shake the table upon which it lands.

(Text adapted from the novel Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pen and Ink

(Originally posted to the Goulet Nation Facebook group)

I woke up this morning after a melancholy sort of dream, and the first thing I did was reach for my notebook and a pen and start writing about it, since I didn't want to bother the person I normally talk to about the subject matter of my dream. (Not getting into it. Complicated and emotional.)

And I realized how much getting into fountain pens has changed my relationship with journalling.

I used to write in journals a lot as a kid/young adult (kids keeping diaries, that sort of thing, and also, this was pre-Internet), but that tapered off and I started getting into blogging. But blogging for me is not the same as journalling, because of course, I don't want to share EVERY single thought with the entire Internet. So it's like, either I share with EVERYONE, or I share with no one.

About a year ago, I started getting really into Bullet Journalling, and that brought me back to my pen-and-paper habit, and I was more so into the planning aspect, but at the same time, I did like lettering and doodling.

But... and I feel like this is fairly common?... I still had this hang-up about notebooks. Like, I LOVE the possibilities of a blank notebook, but I often feel like anything I could possibly say (as well as my sometimes messy handwriting) "sullies" the page somehow. Like, I think of all the beautiful handwritten letters and journals of historical figures saying profound things, and I'm like, "No way can I do that!" and so I get writer's block when it comes to beautiful notebooks and journals. I love to buy notebooks, but I totally freeze up when it's time to write in them.

So, I have a couple Leuchtturms that I started to set up for bullet journalling, but then decided not to, and so they've been sitting on my shelf, "ruined" because they are no longer "perfect." I decided this year to take one and just use it as a scribble book--I'm really into brush lettering, and sometimes it just helps to have pages where I can practice words or do ink swatches or whatever. (And I like the dot grid and smoothness of the paper. It's my favorite paper.) If the book is already "ruined," it's no big deal if I just keep doing random scribbles and messes, right?

And then I started getting into fountain pens, so now that I have a bunch, I'm just constantly practicing with the flex nibs, drawing lines, etc. Just doing whatever. Writing down notes and quotes. Just ANYTHING, to play with my pens and ink.

Lo and behold, writing down "just anything" started to turn into writing down my thoughts and feelings at the moment. And this messy, random, ink-stained scribble book has become my journal, and I have found that I can never leave home without it.

And I know this would NOT have happened if I had selected a pristine notebook and been like, "I AM GOING TO START JOURNALLING NOW." Because I've tried that so many times, and I feel like I couldn't live up to the weight of my expectations.

But this messy-AF notebook has become my lifeline. And I really think that it was me getting into fountain pens that brought journalling back into my life.

All this to say, Thank you, Goulet Pens and Goulet Nation, for giving me back something that my life was missing. Thanks for reading if you made it this far <3



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brick by brick

We're into the final push towards the Oregon Outlaw Open, and I can definitely say that I'm feeling anxious and amped up while at the same time feeling completely exhausted.

It's been a while since I've trained THIS much and this hard. I'm the first to admit that one of my flaws is lack of discipline and consistency, and that's something I've worked particularly hard at this time around--just showing up and doing the entire workout. (I also have no special love for accessory work, you should know.) Like, I know it doesn't look like much on the surface, but for me, internally, it's been hard making sure that I prioritize my training so that no matter what, I'm going in and giving my best effort three days a week.

When I initially signed up for this meet in December, I recall very specifically telling Jeron (my coach) not to let me bail, because last year I signed up for a meet and just couldn't stick to training, and I didn't want that to happen this time. I know myself--I'm great at making plans, but not as good at seeing them through. And because he's, like, the best coach ever, he didn't let me bail, and called me out (in a supportive, encouraging way!) when I really needed it, and that talk made a big difference to me, because from that point on, I showed up and did everything.

Ergo, the weekly grind of lifting. Putting in the work. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it really IS a grind (but the people I lift with are awesome and I enjoy their company, so it doesn't feel so bad). In between workouts, I'm trying to sleep enough, eat better, hydrate more. Day by day. Brick by brick.

It's not any one day of training that will make or break my meet performance. It's the foundation I create, the habits I build, that will determine success or failure. That's my major take-away from this training cycle--a PR would be nice; a record would be great; a WIN would be spectacular. But the small victories count too--in the last week or so, I've had bad physical health days, and I've had bad mental health days, and I think it really means something that I showed up anyway. In the past, I would let myself off the hook and stay home for the slightest discomfort, instead of finding a way to make it work. Last week, I was sitting around feeling really sad and unmotivated and tired, and it would've been so easy for me just to stay home and wallow, but I got up and went anyway. I didn't even give myself the option to stay; I just went.

Yesterday, I had a wicked sinus headache going on and off throughout the day, and all I wanted to do was take a nap, but Mondays are my busiest work day, and I had barely any time to breathe before I had to pack up and head to the gym. I was feeling pretty rotten, but I went anyway. NO QUESTION. And I did this:


And yeah, in between singles, I was sitting there massaging the bridge of my nose. My lifts felt great, but in between, I was trying not to hurl. But seeing some payoff for the work I've been putting in really helped a lot. I'm still nervous and anxious, but dammit, I'm EXCITED. And I'm proud, not just because I hit a really big number, but because I know all the exhaustion and time spent is paying off in a very tangible way and because if I can get through all this training, then I think I will come out of this mentally stronger too.

Two and a half more weeks to go. No rest for the weary.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

In a world of my own

I keep wishing it could be that way
Because my world would be a wonderland
When Jolie was much younger, and devouring every Disney movie she could, I used to sing the White Rabbit's song from Alice in Wonderland to her to make her laugh. You know, "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!"? That one.

Unfortunately, the White Rabbit's refrain has ended up being more like my life story at times--I feel like I am constantly rushing from one thing to the next (usually late), without a moment to "say hello, GOODBYE!" because I just have too much to do. I mean, adulting sucks.

I recently mused on Facebook that I wish I didn't have to work, not because I want to just sit around and do nothing (although, there are definitely times when that's a great idea), but because there's so much that I want to do and learn in my life. Unfortunately, time and money are always constraints--I have to work to make money, but then I don't have time to really pursue the things that excite my curiosity, because I have to prioritize work. I mean, the closest I get is my summer vacation, when I at least have some time to recharge, but what teacher ever really turns off teacher mode? I always ended up spending at least half my summer lesson planning, attending seminars, and just generally keeping an eye out for ideas and resources I could share with my students. It's never REALLY a break, you have to understand.

What would I do, if I had all my time to myself and money were no object? Besides improving upon my current hobbies (powerlifting, knitting, brush lettering, reading, etc.):

  • I've always really wanted to learn how to sew my own clothes. Sure, I knew how to use a sewing machine once, but it was such a learning curve for me that I'm not sure when I'd be ready to jump into it again. And as any artist or crafter knows, building up your stash of supplies and materials is important.
  • I'm not literate in Vietnamese. In fact, I can barely even speak much of it now, since my chances to use it are few and far between. I want to fully become bi-literate. (Is that a word?) 
  • And once I've reached some sort of fluency in my home language, I want to learn other languages too. (Can you imagine how exponentially my library would increase once I start getting into foreign-language books???? *hearteyes*)
  • I've started getting really into drawing and painting (and general mixed media art) lately, and I want to get better at it. I would love to take classes. I would love to just spend more time making art, no matter how bad it is. I've started keeping an art journal, and the time that I spend sketching and painting just makes me super happy. PS--I've also really gotten into fountain pens, so I've been hand-writing like, basically everything. 
  • I don't know if I will ever be able to run again, but I'd like to at least get back to walking. And it's not like I can't do that now, but again, other things always seem to take priority, and before I know it, another day has passed without me even touching my treadmill.
  • There are so many places in Portland alone, let alone the entire Pacific Northwest, let alone the entire WORLD, that I've never visited. I mean, god, the various places to eat, just by themselves, would take days and days :)
  • Speaking of food, I would love to do cooking and baking classes. There's a place called Collective Kitchen near me that has awesome classes (including a knife skills class) that I am looking into, but again... time. And money.
  • I would actually like to see my friends! I have a hard enough time as it is, handling person-to-person interaction (because I am horribly awkward), but that's why I need more of it, right? 
  • I have recently gotten into archery (I've gone shooting a couple times), and I really enjoy it! 
  • Also, just... blogging more. Not going for months between blog posts :)
So yeah, this is just a short list of whatever I could come up with off the top of my head at the moment, but wouldn't it be great if we could use our time to pursue our passions and push ourselves to our full intellectual, creative, and physical potentials, instead of being stressed out to the max by our jobs and worrying about how we'll survive? Wouldn't it be great not to need an alarm clock in the morning? Wouldn't it be wonderful to wield the full force of our own time and our own choices to try to put some good back into this world instead of having to push that off because we have to handle our own needs first? 

What would YOU do?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Resolutions: Getting healthy

Usually when people talk about getting healthy as a new year's resolution, they're talking about picking up some healthy habits and (most especially) losing weight. I mean, why not? New year, new you, right? It's the ultimate time to start fresh.

I too am trying to "get healthy" this year, though my plans come from a slightly different source of motivation.

Looking back on the first half of my 30s, I can really only describe my health as "unpredictable." I mean, on the one hand, in the last five years I've had my gallbladder removed; I've injured my knee and developed osteoarthritis; I've lost a pregnancy and, as a result, a fallopian tube; and most recently, I had a surprise anaphylactic reaction that brought me to the emergency room. Not to mention all the times I've just been sick for weeks with a sore throat or a bad cold, as in, just a couple weeks ago, for New Year's. Talk about failing your resolution right out the gate :P

On the other hand, I ran a faster marathon at age 32 than I did at 29; I am within spitting distance of deadlifting 500 pounds; and I am more comfortable in my old, saggy, fatty, stretch-marked body now than I ever was when I was a spry and 30 pounds lighter in my early-20s.

I am stronger inside and out, but I don't know if I would call myself healthy. I constantly feel unwell--certain foods make my mouth and throat itchy, my eyes irritated, and my nose runny; other foods make my stomach hurt so badly that I am either curled up in fetal position or I'm running to the restroom over and over; and a sudden change in weather conditions (in any season) wreaks havoc on my sinuses and leaves my head feeling so hurty and dizzy that it's all I can do to swallow a handful of Tylenol and then sleep the afternoon away.

I am tired of feeling unwell. Hence, my new year's resolution.

While I don't fault anyone for wanting to lose weight (well, that's a discussion for another time... I have opinions about that), I really, truly would give up the possibility of never being skinny EVER if it meant that I could feel well. Like, I would give up that dream (which stopped being a dream years ago, honestly) as well as my entire lipstick collection if it meant that I could live out my days not feeling sick. If I could change anything about my body, it would not be to lose 50 pounds, but to just NOT. Be. Sick.

And while, no, I don't think my health problems are weight-related, I do think some of them are diet-related, and therefore, I'm trying to be more careful and selective about what I eat. The foods that I think are making me sick? I avoid them most of the time. (No, I still haven't been to see an allergist, and that's another thing on my list of things to do--go do ALL my various medical appointments soon.) I'm logging my meals not to count calories, but so that I have a record of what I've eaten in case I experience any symptoms. I'm trying to hydrate more, sleep more. I'm taking a multi-vitamin. I will at some point look into joint supplements and Vitamin D pills and stuff like that. All while still training and trying to make gainz.

If this is how my body is going to be, then I need to take better care of it. And that starts now.

I hope your journey to health is going well too <3