Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hiking and Taylor Swift don't mix

My husband and I went to St. Lucia at the beginning of December for our honeymoon. FINALLY, after being married for almost 6 months, we got to live it up and relax to the max. The highlight of our trip was hiking up Le Gros Piton, one of St. Lucia's famous peaks. We were mostly terrified about this hike because everything we read warned that it was very strenuous and not to hike if you had heart problems, asthma, a hangnail, abandonment issues, etc.

However, hiking that mountain was the only "activity" we had planned, besides sleeping in, sleeping on the beach, drinking on the beach, and drinking in bed. So we paid our deposit, packed up our water bottles and headed for the hike.

The hike was beautiful but VERY challenging. We were sweating, it was humid, and our guide was scaling that mountain like he does it twice a day. BECAUSE SOMETIMES HE CLIMBS 2,000 FT ABOVE SEA LEVEL TWICE IN ONE DAY.

Not shown: sweat, mud, and BO

After two and a half hours of uphill climbing and crawling, we made it to the top. As I'm taking in the beautiful scenery and a sense of accomplishment, I hear a familiar sound. Am I hallucinating? Am I not a mountain, but actually dancing in my seat to Taylor Swift while driving along the PA turnpike? No, I am definitely on the top of a beautiful, serene mountain and another hiker is blasting "Love Story" from her phone.

To be clear, I love Taylor Swift as much as the next happily married 31-year old woman (What? Not her demographic?), but even I have my limits. And my limit is when I am actively trying to enjoy nature, I do not need to listen to Tay-Tay to escape. I have already escaped. I am in a foreign country, surrounded by people I don't know, seeing sights I've not seen before. Mission accomplished.

OK, I thought, no big deal. This chick and her boyfriend will start hiking before us and then hopefully we will be far enough behind that I won't be able to hear these catchy tunes and instead I will again be lost in the sound of the wind and rustling of leaves.  Unfortunately, we could hear the songs (from just about every TS album) until we reached the summit (another two hours).

I guess God was punishing me for making my husband listen to Taylor Swift on the long rides to Ohio. Lesson learned!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rejection, failure, etc. etc. and so forth

Every other day, week, month I receive another rejection. Another endeavor destroyed. How do you keep trying? How do you accept rejection with a smile and open arms and day "I love you, Rejection, because I will learn from you"?

I am someone who takes failure personally, who expects more of myself, who is never satisfied with progress. Only satisfied with definitive results.

I won't give up just yet, though. Hopefully I grow some thicker skin in the process.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Waking Up Early for the Oversleeper

Sorry for the lack of posts. I was in California last week to visit my future in-laws and my fiance has been recovering from a cold. We definitely got to relax while in California, but I still feel like I am running on fumes. I'm hoping it's just an extended bout of jet lag and I'll be back on track soon.

One of my favorite parts about visiting the west coast is waking up early. Because California is three hours behind DC, I easily wake up at or before 6 AM, which is nearly impossible for me otherwise. Since I usually telework when I'm there, I start working at 6:30 or 7 AM and finish work by 3:45 or 4 PM.

Waking up early is... whatever. For me sleeping longer is always ideal. BUT finishing work by 4 PM? That is the dream.

I've been trying to keep up with my early-rising habits now that I'm in DC, but what can I say? I'm a work in progress. If you are a night owl trying to become an early bird like me, these have worked for me and might work for you:

  1. Get an insane alarm clock - I bought this Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels a few years ago and it is the only way you will wake me up. It sounds like fire and police sirens are going off and an alien landed his ship in your room. I can't tell you how many times I thought someone was breaking into my room because of this alarm. It may not be the most relaxing way to wake up, but you will be awake, I promise.
  2. Solve some puzzles immediately - When I don't want to feel my heart jumping out of my chest, I use the I Can't Wake Up app. The alarm won't stop ringing until you solve the assigned puzzles. You can choose what kinds of puzzle you want to do: memory game, math problems, re-write random letters, etc. You can also choose to scan the barcode of an item (maybe a gallon of milk in the fridge), but I never do this because what if you ran out of milk!? This app is great because I can't mindlessly hit snooze over and over again. I will say though that I have gotten so good at doing the puzzles that I can do them while half awake and then I just go back to sleep again.
  3. Let your needy dog sleep in your bed - There's no snooze button on your dog, unfortunately. The minute my alarm goes off, my dog Lorraine knows that breakfast is just around the corner and I need to get out of bed so she can eat it. She licks my face nonstop and lies on top of me until the only way I will breathe again is if I get out of bed. I let her sleep in the bed when I absolutely have to wake up early, but I never sleep well with her in it. I imagine this strategy works the same if you have children.
Where's breakfast?

So there you have it! How do you trick yourself into waking up early?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hello again… and 2015 Goals

Uh oh… it's been way too long since I've posted. I have lots of reasons, but really, only one or two are acceptable:
  • I stopped running for over a month after developing posterior tibial tendonitis and the beginnings of plantar fasciitis;
  • I auditioned for an improv team and was not accepted - cue disappointment and self-doubt;
  • I became an aunt;
  • I moved in with my boyfriend;
  • And I got engaged!
As you can imagine, from July and onward, life has been pretty hectic. 2014 was a big year for me and 2015 promises to be at least as big. 

I came up with a few goals for 2015 which will hopefully keep me from losing myself in wedding planning. Here they are:
  1. Complete one knit or crocheted project each month: I have recently rediscovered my love of knitting and crocheting and I don't want to lose it again. Knitting is not definitely like riding a bike – after 2 years of no knitting, I completely forgot how to make the simplest of stitches and had to relearn nearly everything. But it is so calming and so gratifying to create something with your hands.
    I made a dogbot! (Pattern from Crobots: 20 Amigurumi Robots to Make)
  2. Run a marathon: I really wanted to do this in 2014, but ankle injuries kept me from running at all during July and August. After some PT, I am ready to tackle this goal, although I am honestly very nervous about hurting myself again. More on this when I decide on which races to run (so far I'm thinking the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon).
  3. Have zero goals for improv: I'm at a point with improv where I just want to have fun and not stress about it. I'll still try to push myself and play with new people, but that is it. I've got too many other things to stress about!
  4. Blog at least three times a week: Clearly I let this blog go and I am committed to never letting that happen again. Be prepared for some pretty crappy posts because I am blogging no matter how little I have to say! And… uhh… I'll start this goal next week…
I think these goals are pretty doable! How about you – any 2015 goals?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Weekly Improv Challenge: Listening

As I mentioned early in the life of this blog, I try to give myself goals for each improv class. I keep it simple – initiate at least 3 scenes, for example. Setting goals helps me to be mentally prepared before class and gives me a framework to think about my performance after.

My goal for this class was to listen to my scene partner(s). In improv this means basically the same thing as it does in life – focus on what the person in front of you is saying and don't get lost in your own thoughts, planning what you're going to say next. Have you had a conversation with someone you know isn't really listening? They're thinking about how they can one-up you, or say the most comforting thing, or provide the best advice. They end up missing your point because they're so caught up in their contribution. Inside and outside of improv, there is always room for improvement when it comes to listening to each other.

Monday's improv class was so much fun. In the previous class we had focused on finding the game of the scene – which basically means finding what's funny or strange in a scene and using it to find even funnier or strange ideas. In this class we further focused on finding the game and practiced more scene work. We did a short form game where we interviewed an audience member (in this case, a fellow classmate) about a day in their life, starting from when they first wake up. We did these in 3 groups and each run was amazing. Personally I felt it was easier to do these scenes because I knew what scene came next and I knew details about each character.

But back to listening! My focus on listening made it easier to get out of my head. I wasn't trying to direct the scene where I thought it should go, which lately I think I might be doing. I listened and reacted to my partner's suggestions. For example, in one scene we had an angry, elitist teacher and three students. As one of the students, I wasn't sure what to do or if I should do anything. The teacher was ranting about how students don't appreciate history and we are all cheats and so on. I decided to raise my hand and ask if the info from these rants would be on the final. He said, yes, everything he was saying was important. I stuck with my decision to make this a game and raised my hand two more times as his rants became more ridiculous. I think listening helped me to get the rhythm of the scene and I was able to repeat minor details of his rant when asking if they would be on the final. 

All in all, I feel pretty great about improv these days. I'm getting better, feeling more relaxed, and finally having fun. No more stressing out.

Monday, July 7, 2014

To Run or Not to Run

Lately my running has been less than stellar. Since the Cleveland half, I honestly have had few pain-free runs, particularly in my right foot. Sometimes my arches hurt. Sometime it's my ankle. Lately it's my Achilles (but only during the last mile or cool down).

I've been taking it easy, so I hoped it would get better. My runs have been no more than 3 miles since the half and I rarely have been running two days in a row. But the problem isn't going away. This past Thursday my foot hurt so much from my Wednesday run that I bought a new pair of shoes. The Nike Frees I bought in April have always felt so tight that I don't even tighten the shoelaces. I just tie the laces as loosely as possible while still keeping the shoes on my feet. I was convinced they were the culprit. So on Thursday I bought the Saucony Kinvara 5. I love them so much. I've run in them twice and they are my new best friends, except at the end of a run when my Achilles starts acting the fool.

Why? Why do I feel great until the very end of a run? Am I tensing up without realizing it and screwing up my gait? Is 2.5 miles simply the breaking point for my right foot?

I'm very frustrated but also somewhat calm because at this point in my running life I know I can overcome an injury if I'm patient. I have had issues with my IT band, quad, groin, and so on, and they've always gone away when I address them. It still sucks though.

It especially sucks now because I wanted to run the Richmond Marathon in November. I decided after the Cleveland half that I was ready for the big leagues, but now I'm too scared to commit. When you sign up for your first marathon, you should at least be able to run 3 miles without feeling like your foot is stabbing itself. I mean, am I being too cautious?

I've decided I'll give it another week of rest. I'll do yoga which will hopefully strengthen and stretch my calves and I'll dabble in the elliptical if it doesn't hurt. If by next Monday my foot is still crying like a baby, I won't sign up for any races. I may even reluctantly see a doctor. 

Have you ever had issues with pain in the arches and/or Achilles? What worked for you? I need all the advice I can get!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let’s Have Fun Again

These past few days have been a blur.

I went out of town to see family; had an audition; dealt with disappointment; second-guessed myself; took care of myself; prematurely celebrated the end of a project; and then more family. I'm exhausted and have an even busier week ahead of me (new improv class, book club, and improv practice group), but I feel like I've made it through the busy peak. 

I am spending the rest of the summer getting back on track with my health and mindfulness. Going out of town every weekend is exhausting and I tend to discard my healthy routine. I tend to sleep less, eat more, and my apartment is a disaster.

I mentioned that I had an audition. Without going into detail, I will say that it has left me in a weird place about improv. My confidence is dwindling and I'm questioning if I want to continue at all. After the audition, I seriously considered writing a post entitled "This blog is no longer about improv." I am trying to be optimistic, to take things as they come, and not be competitive (even with myself), but at what point do you cut your losses and acknowledge that something is causing more stress than happiness in your life? But is that giving up?

I really don't know. My plan for the next few weeks at least is to take a step back and try to have fun with improv. No more worrying about what my teachers or classmates or friends think. No more overanalyzing every scene. Additionally, I want to focus on all the things that make me happy: walking my dog, cooking, meditating, exploring new places, and watching really crappy TV (<3 Royal Pains). My life is more than one hobby, right?