Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rhythm of My Days, Part 2

(Continued from yesterday) 

If I had $500 that I had to spend on fun, how would I spend it?

$500!?!  On fun?!?  If it was for the family - K really loves amusement parks so maybe we would go to Hershey or go down to Busch Gardens for a day and maybe stay overnight in a hotel?  For B and me, a weekend away with a nice dinner and some fun activities.  If it was $500 to spend just on me?  Gosh I don’t know.  A mani/pedi definitely.  A massage?  I’ve never had one and I’m not sure I’d like it.  A Fitbit and TRX trainer.  Does buying exercise equipment for fun make me weird(er)?

Who are the five most important people in my life? Do I wish I could see more of them?

K, B, my mom and dad, my sister.  Yes to all.

Do I like to listen to experts, or do I prefer to figure things out for myself?

Listening and then figuring out for myself.

Does paying with cash make spending money seem more “real” to me than using a credit card?

Yes.  Credit cards are evil.

Am I motivated by the thought of winning or losing a bet?

Not really.

Do I embrace the rules or flout them?

Usually embrace.

Would I be happy to see my children have the life I’ve had, more or less?

Tough one.  There are many things about my life I would be happy to see in K’s  - happy memories with my family from childhood, the opportunity to travel a little, a man who loves her unconditionally, the joy of becoming a mother and raising a child, etc.  There are many, many things that I do not wish on her - decades of depression, struggle with an ED, anxiety so bad that I was afraid to try or do anything until I was in my 30s, regrets for the things I didn’t do because I was too scared.  I don’t wish any of that on her.   But the rest of it?  Even with the struggles and hard-to-me times, life is worth living. 
To Be Continued....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Rhythm of My Days, Part 1

A few months ago I came across an interesting series of questions to help one take stock of one's life, etc.  I am a sucker for those sorts of things, so of course I started working on it and never got to finish it.  I will endeavor to complete the entire long list in stages over the coming weeks.  Feel free to do your own and share it with me (all two of you).

Would I rather be ten minutes late or ten minutes early?

Definitely 10 minutes early.  I hate being late.  I think it is rude when other people are late and it seems to show a disregard for other people and a disrespect for their time.

What errands do I regularly do? How many times each week?

Very few, actually.  Usually grocery shopping once a week, although B has been doing it lately b/c of work/swim schedules.  Occasionally I’ll make a trip to Target or Walmart once a week and usually a trip to the library to get and return books.

How much control do I have over my time: what time I get up, go to work, go home, go to the gym, leisure time?

I guess the short answer is “complete.”  I like to complain about and curse my schedule, but it really is my choice, isn’t it?  I choose to get up early to work out before work rather than give up family time to do it at another time or skip it altogether.  I choose to start and end work early to avoid the traffic on 422 as much as possible.  I choose to work 8 hour days instead of 9 or 10 hour days so that I can coach swimming and have an extra hour with my family.  I choose to coach swimming.  All of the things I hate about my schedule are my choice.  And yet…there are times when I feel trapped by my obligations and the unrelenting nature of the schedule.  But I am truly blessed.  I only have 1 kid who is only involved in 2 non-school activities (piano and swim).  I have a job that lets me be super flexible with my schedule – working at home when I need to, approving time off when I ask for it.  I am making a conscious effort this year to workout primarily on work at home days and weekends so that I can sleep an extra 45 minutes on days I work in the office (3:45am, woohoo!) and hopefully end up slightly less exhausted at the end of the week.  We shall see how that works as the year progresses.

How much time do I spend commuting or taking other people to activities?

Commute – 7 hours over 3 days.

Taking K to swim – 3 hours, plus time on deck.

Would I like to spend more time with friends, or by myself?

In general, I really prefer my alone time.  I am an introvert.  After periods of time where I am around people – especially large quantities of people – and interacting on a high level (example – coaching or giving training or having a ton of meetings in one day), I kind of crash, beat myself up for every interaction that I don’t think went as well as it needed to, and need to regroup. I don’t have many close relationships, and it is a chicken-egg thing as to whether I don’t have them because I am just not good at them or I am not good at them because I don’t have them.  People don’t seek me out for companionship and friendship.  I don’t know why that is but I do wonder if it is because I am a terrible person, a bad friend, or just not likable?  Or is it because I am so introverted that I just don’t throw myself out there all that much.  I am also fiercely protective of the little down time I have and pretty choosy about what will make me give up time with my family (or a good book or some sleep). 

One of my anti-resolutions this year was to stop wasting time trying to get the attention of people who just can’t be bothered putting the same effort/energy into a relationship.  People who don’t answer texts or e-mails, people who don’t ever invite me to do anything, people who really couldn’t care-less.  Of course, recent and not-so-recent efforts to increase and encourage relationships with people have failed miserably leading me right back to that thought that a relationship with me is just not worth anyone’s time. 

So…the upshot of that is that I do treasure my alone time.  But, I get even less time with the very few friends than I do actually have so I would like to add some friend time as busy schedules allow. Or some dedicated Brian time since he is truly my very best friend. 

At what time of day do I feel energized? When do I drag?

Although I drag majorly when I get up in the morning, once I walk the dogs and get moving, I have the most energy in the AM.  I am dragging mid-afternoon and then evening. 

Do I like racing from one activity to another, or do I prefer unhurried transitions?

Unhurried although that is kind of rare. 

What activities take up my time but aren’t particularly useful or stimulating?

Facebook.  Game apps. 

Do I want to spend more time outside?

Yes!  I am sick of being indoors.  January sucks.  I have been making an effort to get outside when it is light out.  I also ordered a few supplements which I hope will help with the tiredness and general January slump.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Scanning through the current top sellers on Amazon, there is a clear New Year trend – weight loss and diet books.  The same thing happens every year.  Not only are there a huge crop of new diets and new weight loss books that release right at the end of the year each year, but there is a resurgence of the favorites from the prior year.  In the top 20 new releases, there are 7 diet/exercise/health books.  Seven!  Another 4 in the next 20.  Plus another 6 or 7 rounding out the top 100.  That’s not including the “better your life” books that aren’t necessarily diet or health related.
So, I’ve decided to write my own diet and exercise book for the end of 2015 – the working title is, “Burn More Calories Then You Eat” or alternately, “Get Off Your Ass and Eat Less.”  The concept is pretty simple, as you might imagine.  I have the first chapter written already too if you care to read it:
“If you really want to lose weight, burn more calories than you eat.  The end.” 
What do you think?
I am all for people making positive changes and doing things to better their health.  I admit, it annoys me a teensy, tiny bit when a newbies come to the gym each January and February.  I don’t get annoyed because they are there, per se, quite the opposite, but do get annoyed because those short-timers are more inclined to be there just taking up space, looking pretty, and drinking their lattes or engaging in poor gym etiquette such as hogging lanes or machines, not wiping things down, talking on the phone, etc. (see also, zombie walkers).  Truthfully, I am always really glad to see people there – working towards a goal and trying to get healthy whether they have failed in the past or have just decided to try.  That is one of the reasons I want to become a personal trainer – not only to help my swimmers, but also because I think that everyone can and should enjoy exercise, can and should get stronger, and can and should get healthier.  But it involves a commitment and it isn’t going to happen by just showing up for a couple of weeks or making the change only about that hour you are in the gym each week. 
Speaking of changes at the gym – this morning there was no hot water.  None. Not even a drop of luke- warm.  It was C*O*L*D!  And of course, I was naked and running late by the time I realized my much needed shower wasn’t going to actually warm up enough for me to get in it.  So I washed my hair by leaning in as much as possible and trying to keep the water off my skin and then by soaping up and splashing water on to rinse off the soap rather than jumping under the spray.  I honestly didn’t want to die of a heart attack by standing under the spray so I probably smell a little off today.  Because I had washed my hair upside down and not rinsed it really well it was hard to get a comb through it at all and it is slightly gummy today as well.  It took me until about 30 minutes after I arrived in my office and was huddled in front of my space heater drinking coffee to warm up fully. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

20 Tips for a Positive Year - 2015, from Jon Gordon

From Jon Gordon's Blog

1. Stay Positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. Take a morning walk of gratitude. I call it a "Thank You Walk." It will create a fertile mind ready for success.
3. Make your first meal the biggest and your last meal the smallest. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
4. Zoom Focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: "What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?" Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.
5. Talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Instead of listening to your complaints, fears and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with the words and encouragement you need to keep moving forward.
6. Choose faith instead of fear. Faith turns adversities and dead-ends into detours to a better outcome than you thought possible.
7. Don’t chase dollars or success. Decide to make a difference and build meaningful relationships and success will find you.
8. Get more sleep. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.
9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in your purpose, people and the positive present moment.
10. Build your life and career with the 3 greatest success strategies of all. Love, Serve and Care.
11. Every day focus on your purpose. Remember why you do what you do. We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.
12. Remember there’s no such thing as an overnight success. There’s no substitute for hard work.
13. Believe that everything happens for a reason and expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.
14. Implement the No Complaining Rule. If you are complaining, you’re not leading.
15. Read more books than you did in 2014. I happen to know of a few good ones. : )
16. Don’t seek happiness. Instead decide to live with passion and purpose and happiness will find you.
17. Focus on "Get to" vs "Have to." Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift not an obligation.
18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:
I am thankful for __________.
Today I accomplished____________.
19. Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.
20. Enjoy the ride. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Confessions of a gym snob, 1/1/2015

Some things I have observed at the gym.

Both of my gyms are filled with Zombie Walkers.  Can someone tell me what benefit it is for people to walk on the treadmill HOLDING ON with both hands extended in front of them?  How is this increasing your fitness?  If you have the belt so fast or the angle so high that you can't keep up unless you hold on, it is too much for you.  Slow down.  Move your arms.  If you wouldn't walk outside like a frigging zombie, don't do it on the treadmill.  You look like an idiot.  Seriously.

Using your shirt as a kleenex is gross.  Last month I ran a the Y next to a man - another swim parent - who was apparently so congested that he could not go more than 3 minutes without blowing his nose.  In his shirt.  Yes.  I said his shirt.  In public.  On the treadmill.  His shirt.  It was....gross.  Now, I freely admit that when I run outside in colder weather, I often have to use my sweatshirt sleeve to keep the snot from running down my chin and dripping onto my shoes.  But other than the 2 people who read this blog, no one actually is aware of me doing that.  It may be quibbling over details, but I maintain that there is a BIG difference between wiping one's runny nose a couple of times on one's sleeve while running outside and blowing one's nose repeatedly in one's shirt in public on the treadmill. 

If you work at the gym, that apparently gives you the right to hog all the weights.  When I workout on Saturday mornings at the Y there are a couple of people who take every weight under 15# and pile the dumbbells in front of them while they do their 30 minute upper body routine.  Never mind if anyone else wants to lift, they don't share.  Ever. 

Grunting extra loud and swearing help you lift heavier weights.  It is usually the meat heads at both gyms who do both although Molds is FAR FAR worse than the Y for this.  I'm all for a strong exhale on the exertion, but let's all try not to act like we are cows giving birth.  Also, it is possible to carry on a conversation about an entire variety of topics without using the F word repeatedly.

Swimsuits are optional in the hot tub and the probability of people wearing them is a direct inverse of their age and fitness level.  Use your imagination on that one.  However, I did break the mold on this the other day and had an impromptu soak in the hot tub in my personal undergarments b/c I did not bring a suit with me.  This same inverse relationship also applies to how likely you are to prance about the locker room in the all together vs. slinking about in a towel.  I guess when you are 65 and saggy you want to flaunt the fact that you are there at all?  I just wrap the towel tighter and avert my eyes. 

My flip flops will probably kill me before too long.  I hydroplane while walking on a regular basis - in the shower, on the tile, walking out of the pool area, etc.  So far I have only hurt myself once and that was just a popped blood vessel in my ankle and some hair ripped out of my head (was removing my pony tail at the time).  It is only a matter of time before I crack my head open though.  I just hope I don't fall in the shower at Molds  b/c it hasn't been cleaned in, I'm not kidding, WAY more than a month and it is scary.

If you don't need a shower when you are done working out, you didn't actually work out.  There are so many women who come in with makeup on and hair done, wearing their cute little matchy-matchy leggings and tank tops.  Sometimes they even drink their coffee while they work out.  And they leave the gym looking as nice as when they came.  Huh.  How's that work?  Even when I run in 35 degree whether, I end up sweating and red faced.  Occasionally, I can get through a lifting workout and skip the immediate shower, but that isn't because I don't need one but rather because I want to do something fun like color my hair, or pick up dog poop in the yard, or walk the dogs first.  I don't wear cute outfits either.  I wear shorts and old-tshirts that eventually will smell so bad that they will have to be thrown out.  Really, I look and smell like a homeless person (or K's favorite word, a hobo) when I workout.  And I don't care.

Rowing is fun.  I can spend an entire half hour rowing down an imaginary river and not really notice the time. 

Wearing a US Master's Swimming cap and swimming more than 2 laps consecutively makes the bouncers think you are training for something important.  Never mind that those 2 laps took you 40 seconds and you only swim 2x a week max.  It looks impressive to the uninformed.  If only.

Running on a treadmill sucks.  I hate it and my joints hate it.

Welcome 2015

I am basically just cutting and pasting a lot from last year.  Pathetic.  I am pathetic.  I have a much more detailed list which I will not make public.

Physical - Move 1,500 miles this year - by land or by sea or by elliptical. I managed over 1800 miles again last year with only 103 miles in the pool.  I honestly thought I had far exceeded 2013’s mileage, but I was five miles short!  How did that happen?  I feel like I put in SOOO many more miles on land.  For 2015 I’m going to keep my goal at 1500 again with at least 100 miles swimming but have a secret goal of 120 miles in the pool.   

A second physical goal is to take a new class every month.  This may be tough b/c of schedule (and the fact that new classes aren’t always offered at times that I am not working or coaching) but I want to try.

A third goal is to work up to 100 push-ups.

Attitude - Work on finding things to be grateful for and record them as often as possible. I’d like to say I’ll do it every day but I don’t think that is realistic. I have a calendar that I try and write 2 or 3 things in every day and that has helped, though for the month of December I got in my usual pre-Christmas/end of the year funk and only made entries about 5 times all month.

Financial – We paid off two major debts this year but had to take on a second car payment when B’s truck died.   So, it was basically a wash.  In 2015 we will continue saving in our emergency fund and "cash stash." Braces are essentially paid off (yay!) so the coaching and officiating money is all going into the “new car” account so we won’t be caught on our heels next time a car dies.

Career – Same as last year.  And the year before that.  I’m still putting in time at my real job and right now am not at all satisfied.   I know it is all mental and I need to adjust my attitude.  I was doing pretty well at that until last month when I got scolded for doing my job.  Seriously?  Scolded?  Sometimes I feel like the rules change and my job description changes based on how it makes other people feel and that is hard to take.   I am enjoying coaching again for the most part, which is good, but I am not going to do summer league this year.  USS, yes, but Berks, no way.

Volunteerism – Same as last year. We do nothing volunteer related as a family and need to find a way to change that.

Family – Epic fail on this one last year.  Goal for 2015 - Spend more intentional time with my family rather than just coasting through our days.   It is too easy to just watch TV and read on the couch together rather than playing games or going for a walk.

Health – Continue to find a way to manage my migraines.  Figure out why I am always so exhausted.

Faith – Find a local church.   This got tabled again last year.   I also want to finish reading through the Bible again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

As if it never happened.

We are back from vacation and, unfortunately, it is as if it never actually happened.  I had to head into the office on that Monday for a deposition and it just made the entire week seem extra long.  Vacation was fantastic though.  Hopefully you go our postcards – the house, if you didn’t realize, was the one we stay in every year, and the beach is our little area in Garden City, SC.  It is about 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach, as the crow flies.   This is the 8th summer we have gone down with my parents and shared a house in the same complex.   We really love it there – it is mostly quiet, we have easy access to the beach ½ block away, a pool, ducks, turles, and fish in the waterway off the porch, and a great ice cream place about a mile away.  It is a mile from the pier with all the arcades and games and whatnot which is close enough to make it easy to visit, but far enough away that it isn’t crazy where we are.

We left Saturday at 4am, expecting to be there by about 3pm, with stops for breakfast and lunch.   Instead we hit rain and stop and go (mostly stop) traffic in VA and NC and it was almost 5:30pm before we go there.  It was, by far, the longest our trip has ever been to get there and we were all ready to punch someone in the face.  We unloaded the car, scarfed down some sandwiches, and headed down to the beach.  It was overcast and dreary and the waves were pretty choppy but we got in and chilled out a little before it started to rain again. 

We have been blessed for the last several years to have “beach friends” who meet us there.  We met S and her two girls, born in Vietnam, 5 summers ago.  The oldest daughter, Me is the same age as K and her sister, Mi is a few years younger.  Me and K became fast friends and spent that week together.  S and I exchanged info and kept in very sporadic touch (Christmas, etc.).  Our schedules didn’t mesh the following summer but the last three summers, they have been there for at least part of the same week as us so the girls have gotten to spend time together.  It is very, very cool and we are so thankful that they try to arrange their trips around ours (we are always there the same week).  The girls e-mail and facetime and I hope that as they get older, they continue to stay close.  This year they had to leave on Wednesday b/c of back to school night, but they sill had 3 full days together.

Sunday the weather was still dreary and overcast, but we got down to the beach early and got a few good hours in before the rain started back up.  In the afternoon, it rained off and on, but we were still down on the beach for most of it.  At least K and I were.  Monday was a bit better weather wise, but the storms of the previous days had stirred up jelly fish and all of us got stung.  B. got hit first – on this elbow and the back of his knee.  K got a few little stings on her arm, and then the next day I got a tentacle wrapped around my right arm.  It was pretty attractive.  B and I still have a few spots where you can see the stings, but they have otherwise healed.  I have been stung before, but never like this!  It honestly felt like someone had lit my arm on fire.  I finally got it unwrapped and all the tentacles off and then sprayed it with vinegar and buried it in sand.  I was very angry with the ocean for the rest of the afternoon and didn’t go back in.

Wednesday and for the rest of the week, the weather was PERFECT!  We had fantastic waves Wednesday morning – perfect for body surfing and I spent a couple of hour riding the waves in and then running out.  By the afternoon, every little muscle in my body was sore, but it was worth it! 

When we are vacation, we don’t do much besides hang out on the beach and go out for ice cream, though this year we did more than typical so that K could spend time with Me and Mi.  B and I got to go up to the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach the one night and walked and walked and enjoyed the sunset.  We hit the road for home Saturday Am – going out to breakfast at the same place at 6am and then heading north.  It only took us 10.5 hours to get home, including 2 quick stops.  I have to owe some of that to racing my dad – they took a different route out of Garden City and we refused to stop until we got to the merger point ahead of them.  That gave us 4.5 hours of driving before we even thought about stopping!  After that, we just drove.  My parents did the trip in 2 days since my mom can’t drive yet with her broken arm.  We were home by dinner time. 
The doggies were very happy to see us – Toby had been quite concerned and had chewed his belly raw while we were gone.  But the dogs and cats were alive, and other than being stuffy, the house was in good shape.  B had picked up E. the week before to pet and house sit, and that seemed to work out very well for everyone.
But…now it is back to normal and the countdown to vacation is reset (50 more weeks, but who is counting?)