Category Archives: My Life

7 Things I Learned from My Year of Training

“Let me start by saying I hated running, and I wasn’t good at it.”
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I started out running a few 5K’s these last couple of years and they were fun, but I wanted to accomplish something more. Last year I was sitting on the couch feeling like crap due to a night of drinking and eating when I turned on the TV and started watching the Broad Street Run (one of the oldest & largest races in Philly). I was amazed by the energy and excitement of everyone out there, actually so amazed that I decided I was going to do it. Why not? 10 miles – no big deal. Actually I knew it WAS A BIG DEAL – for me.

There were a couple of reasons I signed up. First, I wanted to see the city – mindfully. I’ve traveled down Broad St many times, rushing to class at Temple, going out for dinner and drinks, or hanging at a friend’s place. But usually that was flying down this major artery into the city trying to make every green light all while bypassing neighborhoods and dismissing all of the historic richness and hidden treasures of the city. My second reason was to accomplish something great, running 10 miles with 40,000 people through the City of Brotherly Love. So I gave myself one year to train and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Give yourself time/Go at your own pace

I started out barely running a quarter mile before I was out of breath, taking my inhaler and walking for the next half minute. I knew I had time so I took it one day, one step at a time. At first it hurt, my breathing, my calves, my shins, it was painful some days but the pain passed quickly after the run. I read up on tips to see if it was normal and slowly pushed forward. Don’t compare!  Just go at your pace, you’ll get there and there’s plenty of advice out there if you need it.

2. You can push further than you think

For a while I was doing about a mile and a half and then would stop to walk, then run again. It seemed like I couldn’t push further than that mile, until one day I did. You can do it, you just have to push a little. BUT make sure sure it’s little by little. You can’t go from running 1 mile to 5 or you may get hurt, slowly increase distance. And remember it’s ok to walk too, but breaking the mental barrier is huge. And for me I noticed once I got past the first 2.5 miles it seemed a little easier, I settled into my pace. For me I know that the first 1.5 is harder than the 4th or 5th. Take notice each step of the way.

3. Cut down/out bad habits

About 6 months into my training, I hit a plateau and most of my issues were around breathing. I knew what I had to do! The day I signed up for the race I quit smoking. I was a one-a-day smoker but still a smoker. Quitting helped me add more distance onto my runs and after 1 week I noticed a huge difference in breathing and endurance. Another change I made was to drink more water. I was still having calf pain so I tried to be more conscious of water intake as well as less alcohol consumption when training for those long  weekend runs.

4. You will have cheerleaders but not everyone is team YOU

This one is interesting because I was feeling good about my progress and dedication, and some people are with you on that. But you’ll have others who mock it and they may be joking but there’s truth behind every joke. Some people would poke fun, make comments or snarky remarks, but I just brushed it off. There is always a green eye in the crowd just remember you’re doing it for you.

5. The pain DOES go away

It seemed like forever – months, but the shin and calf pain does go away. Just make sure you have rest days and keep it up.

6. You will feel better

For the longest time, I hated the run but loved the feeling after I ran, so much so that I felt bad on days I didn’t run. My initial goal was to complete the race not to lose weight but during training I lost a little. However losing weight or not overall I felt better and that’s what keeps me going – even now.

7. You gain freedom

This one came towards the end. It was like an epiphany. The last couple of weeks in training, I actually started to enjoy running and it was at this same time, and maybe had something to do with it, but I felt a sense of freedom. Working out or going for a run was my time. I stepped out the door, put my headphones in and it was just me, myself and I.

 

Children Do Not Define You – You Do

I recently saw a facebook post from someone I know that said, “before I was a mom, life had no meaning”. My first thought was “I feel sad for this person!”

Having children is amazing, but children do not define you as a person. It’s important to maintain a sense of self. Your life.

There is so much meaning in life, and sometimes finding meaning or happiness can be difficult, but if you say children are the only thing that gives you meaning, what happens when they grow up, create their own life and leave the nest?

Does that mean your life will have no meaning again? Does that mean people who choose not to have children have no meaning?

Now, I know this was a personal remark for the person that posted it. I’m not judging and I haven’t walked in her shoes.  Life can be really hard and maybe having children is where she found the most joy and stability. But I couldn’t help and feel sad because life has so much meaning, more than you know at times. You may not see it, or feel it, but the people you spend time with do. Think about it, when you go to a funeral everyone is sad, they talk about the impact this person had on their life, the memories, the good times, the meaning they brought to each individual.

I’ve always believed that people come into your life for a reason, whether it be for a short while or years of friendship, positive or negative, you learn from them, you grow, you change, you come into your own. We are always evolving. When you’re a teenager, you do the some of same things as your friends, you want everyone to like you, but then as you get a little older and know what you want and who you are, you stop giving a shit about what others think or what’s considered “in”. Your experiences cultivate your growth.

This comment really intrigued me, it made me think about my own life.

As a mother of two children, whom I love dearly and put most of my energy towards at this point in my life, I don’t believe they are what defines me as a total person. Yes they gave me new meaning, and yes life revolves around them now because they are young, but that will change. They are a part of me and bring me joy, laughter, pride, stress and a vision of being a kid again. But my life has other meaning too – being a wife, a daughter, a friend, a colleague, a listener, a teacher, an inspiration.

I make sure that I have time for me, to do what I love. My husband and I make sure we have time for us. I’d love to do mission work later in life when my kids are grown. Since I am not able to now, I’m a blood donor – that “means” something to me. Doing something good for mankind and for someone else that means life or death.  I enjoy thinking of the memories we built before our children and I believe that is what helps us teach them, and share with them some pretty amazing things. What you put into life, is what you get out.

Before kids, I went to college, traveled, hung out with friends, shopped – I did whatever I wanted when I wanted. After I had kids, I still do all those things I enjoy (but now shopping is food shopping) and maybe a little differently. I chose my path and that is what makes me – ME. I continue to grow and learn each day. The old things I did then are less important and new things are more important, and this cycle will continue through my whole life.

Life goes through a series of phases pretty much with each decade, according to the people I talk to (20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s etc…) If you have kids they will be a big part of your life, but they will become independent individuals and begin their own journey. I recently heard someone give this advice “enjoy your spouse, make them happy, because that’s who you’re with when the kids are gone”.

If you don’t have a significant other, than it’s you. Love yourself, do what makes you happy. Children are a part of you, but they don’t define you, if anything, you have helped to define the beginning of their life.

New Year New Things (To Try)

We’re a couple of weeks into the new year and I’m still compiling a list of what I would like to accomplish this year. I figure I will write them down here, and then next year look back and check off what I did do and what I can repeat for the following year. So here it is:

Photo Manipulation based on a quote of finding yourself vs. creating yourself

1. De-clutter / Organize (this is a repeat one and will be next year)

This goes from emails, clothes, kids toys, anything in the home that is collecting dust. I feel like this one is and should be ongoing because it not only takes time but you constantly have a shift of out with the old and in with the new!

2. Brew my own Hard Cider – I love cider and a case of it is pretty expensive, I want to try to brew my own and see how it measures up to the ones I buy. Just for fun and for spirit!

3. Drop those few extra pounds + gain more energy – This is a typical one and hopefully I will stick with it

4. Save Save Save – It’s hard to save and pay off bills but I started doing it last year and although it was a small amount, it really made me feel good. It’s nice to see that you have some money at the end of the month when you’re working day after day, week after week. This was one I struggled with before because I thought oh it should go towards the credit card or a bill etc…but in reality that little extra is not making a huge difference to those bills but after months of saving, it becomes a big chunk of change that can make a difference somewhere and improve your happiness (at least it did mine)

5. Run 2 5K’s – I’ve been running about one a yr so why not up it to two?!

6. Knit – Maybe a scarf of something, but just to learn it and try once! Maybe I’ll like it and develop a new hobby.

7. Become more fluent in Spanish

Local Music Festival

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The last two weeks I took my kids to a local music festival. Last week was bluegrass, folk – not really my type of music but I had a great time. The first band’s set was a godly and short, then the next band came on, it was classic rock mixed with original songs that had more of a Lumineers flare. The kids had free popsicles, I had a beer, and then went out and danced with my daughter. All she talked about for the rest of the night and the next day was how much fun she had (the boy – not so much).

The best part, my daughter is very shy about dancing in front of people, I’ve told her the cliche over and over “dance like no one is watching” and that night she did. I was proud, we were the only ones out there and before I knew it, about 4 other young girls came out and started to dance.

wpid-20140819_201510.jpgThis week we went back with some friends. It was the last music festival for the summer. The music was jazz and blues – (Amen). Again we had a great time, and danced. The kids ran around without a care in the world, other kids were riding scooters and it felt like a celebration of the last days of summer before school – it pretty much was.

There’s something very uplifting about good music. Even if I’m melancholy, when I’m outside and there’s music playing, I forget about all that negative puissance. My mind and body quickly fill with positive energy – bobbing my head, dancing, singing along, tapping my foot and LAUGHING!

These are the memories I want to have forever. Next summer, I’m going to look out for more of these concerts in the park!

The Road

The Road
by Jen Burns

There once was this road
I don’t know where it was leading me to
But I kept going straight
Because I felt it was right.

Every day on the road I’d see beauty – trees, animals, flowers
Then one day, I got tired of the same straight road
I was comfortable with that road
But something was missing.

So I turned
I was afraid
I was courageous
I was free.

I found obstacles
I found determination
I found fulfillment
I found me.

(dedicated to my friend who is taking the turn)

Money Can Take a Backseat

When You’re Stressed

Ask yourself “What’s Most Important to Me?”

Today I came into work a little stressed out and depressed about finances. It’s a big month for us, extra bills yada yada.  Anyway, as I’m stressing I’m trying to tell myself “hey you’ll figure it out, everything will be fine” and I know this but as a human being, I stress.

During my lunch break or the 10 min I take to eat lunch at my desk, I started checking my facebook and I saw a post from an old friend from grade school. There was a picture of a girl, whom I remember, and a heartfelt message with a condolence about how great of person she was and how she will be missed. She was young, 38 to be exact, and the the hashtag said fuckcancer.

My heart sunk. For I didn’t know this girl since say 6th-7th grade, but as soon as I saw the picture, I immediately flashed back to the school bus, the Catholic school we went to, and her family. I just keep thinking how sad and how young she was. 38! My brother just turned 38 yesterday. It’s a scary thing to think that could be any of us. I feel so sad for the family and her husband.

This isn’t the 1st person I know who has been diagnosed and passed from cancer at the young age of 30(something).

After reading and looking at all the pictures people posted of her life, I instantly stopped caring about my stupid financial stress. Because that’s what it is stupid and trivial. The people in your life – family, friends, and all the relationships you have are what’s really important. The rest of of it will fall into place. The little things we stress over will be gone in time. But the people we have lost will only forever be a memory. Even though some people say time will heal, it doesn’t. They will always be missed, and you just hope one day you come to peace with it.

As for my trivial issue, I got back to my work and saw an email that we will be getting an increase in wages and retroactive pay reflecting this increase. It’s like I said, it all works out.

But for them, the loss is only the beginning of a long road ahead. May they find peace.

 

The Design Process for Everyday Life

Taking the Design Process and Applying it to Everyday Life

I recently had a phone interview for a job that I really, really wanted. It’s known to be the Google of the East Coast. I haven’t had an interview in about two years and I’ve never had a phone interview. I didn’t know what to expect. It was with an in-house recruiter, not someone from the team whom I would be working with, or the creative director.

I know now, to expect it to be more of an introduction – less scary. Questions focused on my background, their background etc. Unfortunately, the interview stopped there, either I answered a question in a way that was not to the liking, or I didn’t have the right “field degree”, or maybe my portfolio was not up to par with others. Anyway, that is not going to stop me from pushing forward.

One of the questions stood out to me, “how would I describe my design process?” I think this question I might have slipped up on, and honestly, it’s not completely my fault. Every company works differently, and develops their own road map and ways to get there. We did follow this design process BUT some of the initial decisions [Identify the problem] [Design Constraints] were made before it hit my hands. Hence, me answering in the way that I did.

After I hung up the phone, I decided to do some research and then the ah-ha moment. This is it, the design process, maybe why I had so much rework at my old position.

Here is a flow chart of the basic design process. There’s different variations, but basically the flow is the same. And this is the process that you can use in your everyday life to maximize success and reach your goals. Everything is a work in progress.

(image via colemandesigngroup)

Think about it

“8-step process to succeed in hitting your goal”:

  1. Identify the goal. (Specific)What you want to achieve.
  2. Identify the the constraints/challenges and measures.
  3. Develop possible solutions (lists).
  4. Select the best possible solutions.
  5. Create a conceptual plan.
  6. Evaluate your solution (Did the plan meet the measures? Overcome the challenges and take you further towards reaching the goal?)
  7. Communicate with yourself and others.
  8. Refine your goal or plan. Are you closer? Are their changes to to be made to achieve your goal.

This process will not only allow you to see the big picture and guide you through, but will help you measure success along the way and solve some challenges you might be facing.

Hitting your goals gives you a spiritual lift – you find your happy place.

Steps to Live in the Moment

 Quiet your mind and listen to yourself at the deepest level possible. Then trust that what you hear reflects wisdom beyond your conscious mind. – Jason Kurtz
(image via Alice Wessendorf SkyBluePink)

Some days – most days – I feel like life is a mad rush. I’m just going through the motions to get stuff done. I wake up, feed the kids, pack lunches, stretch,  get ready for work, drop the kids off, go to work, make dinner, do homework…ok you get the point.

I find myself so focused on the next “to do” that I don’t live in the present, it just slips by. Before I know it, the day is over, then the week and so on. It’s like being stuck on a Ferris wheel  going ’round and ’round – you want to get off because your bored, and there’s more to see at the fair.

You need to soak it all in, do everything you can before the fair closes.  You rush to the next ride, see another attraction, win the big prize at the game booth. Meanwhile you’re snapping a bunch of pictures to capture these memories forever, because there’s so much going on in the moment.  The next thing you know the night is over. In the blink of an eye, it’s all just a memory.

Want to live a more mindful life? I sure do.  Here are some steps to follow that will allow us to seize the moment – carpe diem.

Eight steps to live in the moment.

1. Focus on the now. Do tasks slowly and deliberately.

2. Stop looking for other people’s approval to determine your own achievements and success.

3.  Put space between things. Don’t schedule things close together this will allow you to take more time on each task.

4. Stop worrying about the future, focus on the present

5. Stop over thinking. You can’t change what happened yesterday by reliving it today.

6. Pay attention to the small things – especially the little things that make you happy.

7. Perform random acts of kindness. This is really about living in the moment.

8. Stop explaining or justifying your actions to yourself or others.

AND SMILE 🙂

A Simple Life – Microwave-Free

ImageOne of my resolutions this year was to declutter my life.

I started the first week with email. As an email marketer at my previous job, I signed up for everything. I would get about 200 emails a day, most of it was used for competitive research and most of it was also CRAP!

Anyway, now that I am in a new position, I can recapture my precious morning time doing other things (like blogging) rather than skimming through and deleting senseless emails full of advertisements that promise to make me smell better, look better, or get the lowest price today – even though another great offer will appear in two days.

After the digital cleansing, I moved over to the domestic cleansing – the house. As you know, I’m sure, house work is never done. I donated a few bags to Purple Heart but I still have a long way to go. I feel like it’s a revolving door, as you move more junk out, shit comes right back in (especially with kids). Little by little, I will get there, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Then the unexpected happens. Our microwave, which is only a couple of years old, suddenly broke. It’s been a week and I really haven’t missed it. Actually last week, due to the snow storm, we had a couple of families stay with us for a few days and no one really noticed!

So last night, I moved it out of the kitchen, reclaimed my counter space, looked at it a few minutes and decided…what the hell, let’s do without!

I asked my 8 year old son what he thought, and he couldn’t care less. My 6 year old daughter gave the same reaction. Then I asked my husband, “hey, you want to try an experiment? Let’s go microwave-free!” And surprisingly, he was on board right away, his exact words, “sure, you don’t need a microwave, it’s just a convenience.”

Yes nailed it!

It’s now been a week and the transition was easy. I remember in the 80’s when my parents first got one, we were “totally siked!” But as I got older, I’ve always had some weird feeling about microwaves, they just seemed unnatural – something about the radiation part.

Before I decided to go sans micro – I did some research and internal thinking. As it turns out, we are not regular users. Besides popcorn, very few frozen veggies, and heating up leftovers, we rarely used it.

Here are some tips I came across for making this transition, and most of these, I was already doing.

  • Buy fresh foods
  • Thaw meats in a pot of cold water
  • Reheat leftovers in the oven
  • Stove-top popcorn
  • Store food in frig to oven containers
  • Buy a kettle (I use my keurig and love it)

As far as cooking and baking, I’ve always used my oven and in the winter it doubles as an extra heater!

I’m excited about our lifestyle change, stove-top popcorn and fresh tasting leftovers – hell yeah!

What I’m curious about is the reaction we’re going to get from people. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot of “why?” and “how?” But it’s a decision we made – maybe less convenient – but simple!

How Will You Live Your Dash?

People will remember you by what you did, not by what you had.

How many times times have you gone to a funeral and during the eulogy, people talk about the amount of money that the deceased made, or the big boat docked at their million dollar shore home, or even the fancy car they drove every day?

None.

When you go to funerals, people talk about who you were, and the qualities you possessed that made them feel close to you. They talk about what you did to help them and to help others. They talk about how good you made people feel and how your energy could light up a room.

I went to a few funerals last year and two of them really stood out to me. The sermons were almost identical. The meaning behind the words were so powerful, at least for me.

Each of these sermons, the ministers talked about “the dash”. When I say the dash, I mean the gravestone dash. Every gravestone has the date you were born “-” and the date you die.

That dash represents Your Life.

When you pass, the people closest to you and those whose lives you touched, are the ones who know what that dash represents. What that little line is worth. And they will remember you by: your qualities, your adventures, and most importantly your actions.

The minister said, “when was the last time you saw a hearse with a U-haul attached to it?” It was meant to make everyone giggle, but a powerful message lies behind it.

I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day and long-term goals, that I don’t stop and enjoy what is right in front of me. I need to remind myself to be happy with who I am and what I have already achieved.

All of the material things you collect along the way, work hard to attain — is just stuff. And when you pass on, all that stuff gets left behind, and it doesn’t matter anymore. Unfortunately, in some cases, all that stuff creates turmoil in families. It breeds deceit, greed, envy and tears people apart.

But having all this stuff, is the pressure of our culture. There’s a burning desire to consume more, and compete to have nice things, a good job, a nice house, more stuff, giving us a false sense of status, whether it be to “fit in” or “be superior”. This stuff gives us a sense of security – but for what?

We lose focus on what it all means in the end.

To live a full life.

To be kind.

To help others.

To make a difference.

Money can buy you a lot of things, but it can’t buy you a new reputation when you’re gone.

Actions speak louder than words.

Those who knew you and loved you, keep your legacy alive.

They talk about “your dash” and the reflection it made on “their dash”.

Here is the poem, The Dash, if you are interested in reading it.
The message is beautiful as well as powerful.