Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Death by Deck - The Short Post

It's Month End, which means the phrase, "I can't; I have to work," is a common saying around my house lately. 12 hour days long into the wee hours of the morning aren't rare during the last week or so of every... single...month...without fail.

 So, while I'd like to make this beautifully long, painfully sincerely, and deeply candid...


I can't; I have to work.

So ya'll are just getting the WOD (that's 'Work Out of the Day for those not familiar with crossfit lingo) that I made up.

 I'm hence forth calling my Death by Deck work out.

 I hit my work out - 16 minutes of as many rounds as possible of the following:
50 unbroken jump rope skips
15 sit ups
5 Burpees

I got through 5 and 2/3rds before the alarm went off and time was up. The jump rope was not kind today... either that, or it's a sign that my fine motor skills aren't quite back to full force after knocking myself silly last week...
Whatever the excuse reason, I didn't meet my goal of at least 7 rounds.
 So I had to endure the (self-imposed) punishment.

2x 1-minute planks with 20 seconds rest in between.

By this point, I had sweat dripping off my face (damn you planks) and I was ready to just lay there for a while.

Alas, time was awasting! Time to nail my feet back to my desk.

At least it was a beautiful evening for Death by Deck!
Now, back to a nap  work!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Badge of Badassery Comes in Purple!

If you haven't been following my blogs for years, you may not remember this mountain bike excursion I took with GreenGuy. I think it was around 2008 (correct me if I'm wrong on this one).

My bike and the road ahead!  Saddly, she was stolen a year or so later and I've yet to replace her, but it's only a matter of time.
We were both learing how to use the gears on our bikes, so it was a challening, winding ride up a good sized hill. (Living in Washington State has redifined a 'mountain' or a 'hill' for me. This was in my hometown of Escondido, California.) To my shame, I wasn't confident enough in my skills or my strength at the time and ended up walking a bit of it.
GreenGuy and I at the top
 We came across some pretty nice people, and, well, how often do you see an entire active bee hive hanging out in the some of the outcroppings of rocks?!  I was mesmorized and got closer and closer and closer to snap a few photos.

This is about where GreenGuy said, "Well, we know who's not allergic to bees!" True, I have no allergy to bee stings (that I'm aware of... come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure I've ever been stung...), but it wasn't until later I learned that hives like this (exposed to the elements) are often hallmarks of Africanized Bees... which can be very bad news when pissed off (and killer bees are pretty easily pissed off).  Had I known, I may have opted to keep my distance, but then I would have missed the experience of being a breath away from fresh wildflower honeycomb (which smells as delicous as it it sounds).
Sometimes ignorance of a thing keeps fear at bay...
   The view from the top of the hillside was pretty awesome. 

Then it was time for the fun part - downhill! And that's where I ate it... big time.


I flew over my handle bars and ended up flipping my bike completely (remember when I said we were headed downhill). I landed HARD, but luckily, my biking gloves took most of the abuse, but it was my chin that helped break my fall. Amazingly enough, no broken bones or chipped teeth! I finished the ride, but boy, did I feel that one for a while afterwards!

It really does amaze me how my body still bounces back, even as I duck into my mid-30's.
And yes, I'm still as graceless as ever when it comes to bumps and bruises.

My current antics (falling while trying to do an unassisted handstand) landed me in the ER for the first time EVER for myself. It took probably the better part of an hour for me to convince them that I was trying to do an unassisted handstand in my living room, and figured the mango wood coffee table was far enough away.

Well, it wasn't, and I went head first into it when I failed at the handstand. It was similiar to this fall. My hands were already on the ground. Then the chin hit. Then my forehead hit the table leg at about the hairline, and then the back of the head hit the table leg. Finally, the inside of the right knee came crashing down on top of the table.

I wish I had video taped it.. I swear it would have been a youtube sensation.

The next day, nausea set in, and confusion and mood swings were rearing their ugly heads, so I dashed off to the ER. Long story short, it turns out I'm so bruised up from my training, I had to convince 2 nurses, the MD and a social worker that I wasn't being beaten at home despite the fact that I didn't even mention my bruises. I went in for my head injury. The whole line of questioning caught me by surprise (and added to my confusion). My Sailor would never raise a hand to me (and God better help the man who tries because he'll need divine intervention to save his sorry arse from me), and, to top it off - he's out Finding Nemo anyway.  Apperantly, handstands aren't something 30-something year old women regularly attempt...Though they should be, damn it.
I'm sure it looked suspicious that I can explain every single bruise on my body as inflicted by 'feats of badassery'.

I'm still convinced I can figure out how to do an unassisted handstand, but I'm taking a break from that particular movement for now. At least until the Strongman Competition is over and my concussion is solidly healed. After all, if 10 year old me can do it, why can't 33 year old me?

In the mean time, I'm really enjoing my training as I get ready for the Strongman Competition this August.
Right forearm - Atlas Lifts
Right Wrist - Farmer's Walks and Dumbbell Deadlifts

Right Knee - Unassisted Handstand Fail

Right upper arm - Atlas Lifts
Left wrist - Farmer's Walks and Dumbbell deadlifts
Left upper arm - Atlas lifts

Lucky for me, purple is my favorite color.

The thing I love most about these things - I didn't get them sitting around like a bump on a log. They are just new footnotes on my road to badassery.

Just no poking the bruises... please.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Post that will Make you Hate Me AKA Photos Of My Home Gym

This week, working out has been a little extra essential. It flushes out Cortisol (stress hormones) that are pretty much raging. It's Month End at work, which means more pressure, more stress. My Sailor is out Finding Nemo, which is an odd mixture of dread, reliefe, and responsibility. The situation with the roommate is still up in the air. He might move out in 4 weeks. He might stay longer. We'll see.

So with all of that going on, working out helps me stay sane and relatively level headed.

And this week has been a great week to get outside and work out at my 'home gym' (which currently includes a speed rope and a yoga mat... amazing how much you can do with that).

Tuesday's self-imposed work out was as many rounds as possible in 16 minutes of -

50 Jump rope skips unbroken...
15 sit ups....
5 Burpees

I managed to get about 7 1/3rd rounds done. Probably could have done 8 rounds done if it wasn't for wrestling with my Ipod for a bit.

Wednesday's work outs had me rowing sprints (750 meters in just over 3 minutes, 500 meters in about 2 minutes and 07 seconds, and 200 meters in about 58 seconds), and lifting some serious weight (4 rounds of 175lbs Deadlifts x3, 30lbs Bulgarian Split Squats x 10, Sit ups x 10). It was one of those work outs will I willed myself (successfully) not to throw up. After a short lunch meeting with a friend, I hit the grocery store, and the wall hit me. I was absolutely exhuasted. Thanks to my work out, though, I slept amazingly well last night...and woke up sore in places I wasn't sure I had.

Today, I've been sitting on my large yoga ball at work as I plan out my work and play schedule for the next week.  Today is supposed to be my 'rest' day, but I'm antsy and can barely sit still... Odin feels the same way, so I'm seeing an extra long walk in our future (at the very least).

One consistant thing I keep hearing is, "I wish I had your dedication." That's not to toot my own horn - because I don't think what I'm experiencing is extraordinary in any way. Some people use music as their outlet - and I still sing while I work out or around the house or the occasional kareoke night. Some people play video games... we all have an outlet.

The only 'dedication' involved was deciding that this one is going to be mine.

Lucky for me, it works.

I've already 'reaped the benefits' of being lazy, down on myself, and a huge complainer. I've already been there, done that. I already know that sugar might make me temporarily feel better, but won't actually 'fix' anything. I've already wished I could wake up and look like fill-in-celebrity-female-here.

Now, the only female celebrity I'd like to have the body of is Beyonce (seriously - have you SEEN those thighs?! AMAZING!), but the truth is, even if I DID have 'that' body, I'd still find SOMETHING to work on. We are our own worst critics.  Even now, my goals keep changing. First, I wanted to finish a 5k. DONE!

Now, I want to finish a StrongMan Competition. (August 24th! It's less than a MONTH away!)

My thinking has changed. Now, instead of NEEDING to see 170's on a scale, I think it would be pretty neat to see myself doing 100lb bench press (I'm 25 lbs away from this at last check). I think it would be pretty neat to see myself doing an unassisted handstand and/or pull up.

And I think it would be pretty cool to see my book in print.

Ah, goals... Yup, I have a lot to look forward to this summer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tools in the Back Pocket and Flowers on the Table.

(For any new military families out there - this post is for you.)
"One of the most painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving others too much, and forgetting that you are special too. When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters? When was the last time someone told you that you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel happy when you’re there? When was the last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?" - Source

I've been told that I'm pretty independent, have a good head on my shoulders, etc... Feet on the ground with my head in the clouds just enough to keep life interesting. I hope that's true. Those are all great compliments.

Truth is, I just have a great set of tools in my back pocket. Different people in my life, through good and bad experiences, have helped me craft them.

Some are borrowed from bits of wisdom from the most obvious sources (i.e. my family, religious up-bringing, friends...). Most were forged from moments were I was given the choice - be miserable, or find a way to be happy. 

Given those 2 very clear options, picking myself up by my muddy ole' bootstraps seemed the only real option. So, broken heart, bruised ego and all, I figured out this simple truth:

 "No one can give you what you're not willing to provide for yourself."

Not health, not self-esteem, not hope, and certainly not happiness. People can add to all of those things (and occasionally wound them), but they can't define those things. And if you can't give them to yourself, how can you give something you don't have to someone else?

Learning to carry my own sunshine with me has probably been the most useful tool. And if I don't feel 'sunny', well, I'm worth buying a little bit of it.

Funny (Completely True) Story:

I was having a down-day during one of My Sailor's early deployments. I got out of the house and took myself grocery shopping at one of my favorite markets - Tacoma Boys. It usually offered a lot of local meats and produce, and it gave me a reason to get the heck out of dodge.

Lucky for me, there was this beautiful bouquet of flowers for sale.
Without thinking twice, I grabbed them.

I had the clerk ring up all my groceries on my account, but the flowers on My Sailor's.

Later that night, I emailed him and said, "Thank you for the flowers! They are beautiful!" I then explained who 'he' bought me flowers.

At first, he was shocked. You see, for those not in the military world, there is no 'pre-deployment time off'. No 'vacation' days to get ready. Months worth of conversations are suddenly squeezed into very tight time frames. Extra shopping, packing, etc, is all done in the hours that would usually be spent unwinding after a long day's work. As far ast the Navy is concerned, it's very much 'business as usual'. There is no time to pre-order flowers and gifts for arrival at home during deployment. There is  no time for handwritten love letters to be hidden around the house. Birthdays, anniversaries, and major holidays often go nearly completely unrecognized out of necessity. There are simply too many to attempt to 'make up' for, so we've naturally just celebrated them whereever we were with whomever we're with. (For example, last year My Sailor didn't get to shop for Christmas for anyone. In fact, come to think of it, we haven't shopped for Christmas gifts for each other in a few years now. Well, last year I had time, so he got something, but he felt aweful that he didn't have time to get me anything. And, well, you know we stink at Thanksgiving  in general- and if you don't please, by all means, relish our shame and read about it here.)

Buying myself flowers on his account wasn't an attempt at being passive aggressive. (Seriously... who has time for that kind of BS anyway?!) It was about me getting what I needed. A little romance and completely frivolous, momentary peace of mind. When no one else could give it to me - it's a gift I could give myself.

Okay, so it's not EXACTLY like an unexpected gift spontaneously showing up on your doorstep. But it had the flavor of what I needed.

Friday wasn't much different.

My Sailor had expected to be home between 5-7pm - in time enough to grab a quick dinner out and a movie before an early bed time. I started (foolishly) looking forward to it just a tiny bit. He was 'sure' he'd get out just about on time. Maybe 8pm at the latest...

Well, 5pm came and went.

So did 6pm.

And 7pm...

By 8:30pm I was starving and still had no word. (No, they can't call when they are running late.)

By 8:45pm, I gave up on going out to dinner with him, got myself all dolled up and headed out to a favorite local haunt for a glass of wine and spinach salad.

Around 9:15pm, I left the eatery and checked movie times. The film I was interested in didn't start until 10:30pm, so I had lots of time. Slightly  Disappointed by the way my evening was turning out, I decided to head to a local gourmet market to pick up a few things.

That's where I spotted these beauties.
I love exotically colored roses. Any other kind of rose, while always appreciated, is just 'okay'. Bicolored roses (that aren't pink) are awesome. Next to purple orchids, they are my favorite flowers.

This was the last bouquet.
I didn't think twice about grabbing them for myself. I had to stop by the house before going to the movie anyway, so I had time to properly vase them before heading off to my movie. (Since it was passing My Sailor's usual bedtime, I had given up hope of meeting up with him at this point.)

So I bought myself a $15 smile.

Sure, I could have spent that money on something else - something we  needed. But taking care of me is  taking care of us. He counts on me being able to take care of myself when he's not around. It helps eleviate his worry to know that I'm going to be okay, whatever comes. He knows I can reason things out, find a resourceful solution, and won't sit on my hands crying "Woe is me." Looking out for us as a team means that I pull my weight. It means that I look out for my heart when he, well, can't. It's one mistake I learned from in my past. So one of the tools I always keep in my back pocket is called "Resourcefulness." It's a handy tool to have around, no matter the situation.
(For the record, I also trust that he can do the same.)

As for the movie - he eventually made it back home before the movie started, so I skipped it (for now). But The Conjurering is probably in my future tomorrow!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Flipping the Script

Today started out to be a real pain in the neck. It started at about 1:30am and kicked into high gear around 3:30am.

Yes, me and the familiar 'Witching Hour'.

Ironically enough, for some reason, if I'm still awake by 3:30am, the creative side of my brain won't shut off. If I'm not pacing around a darkened room with a pen and paper, I'm tossing and turning in bed for hours, going over and over and over some poetry, song, or imagined story line.

This morning was no exception. I should have just gotten up, dragged out a notebook, and started working. I kept going over and over the way Silent and Ashta met, and how to put it truthfully to paper (as 'truthfully' as you can put the meeting of 2 fictional characters...). Silent was a huge part of Ashta's story - in fact, I'd go so far as to say I can't tell her story without him. (For those unfamiliar with my fiction, click here for a very rough taste. I've since edited, added more characters, and flushed out the storyline a bit, to soon include Ashta's story.)

Maybe it's a sign that I need a break from the hard hitting reality that is my dad's book, and the pressures of work and, well, Navy life. I always found a great escape in a good story.

After that restless night/morning, I seriously had to drag my butt out to bed. Breakfast and laundry folding happened fairly simaltaneously and was quickly followed by a stumble into the shower and work. Work followed into a lunch break of more housework, spending a few hours with My Sailor, before getting back to work.. until about midnight. Hopefully tonight won't be full of tossing and turning.

It was easy to let the stresses of the day really get under my skin.

Funny how that all disappeared after a short conversation with My Sailor. I was bemoaning the fact that he won't be around this weekend (an odd position to be in- to want to vent to your partner while simaltaneously not wanting to make them feel guilty for something they have zero control over), so I simply let him know that his sister would be coming over at some point on Saturday. I think the conversation went something like this.

Me - "I'm not sure when they are coming over. It doesn't really matter. It'll just be me and all I'll be doing is either working or working on the fence. As long as they call before they get on the ferry, I'll have time to shower."

My Sailor - "My wife is a badass."

Me - "You just completely made my day."

My Sailor - "I mean, you lift more than a lot of guys I know, and you want to build a fence in your spare time?!"

Me - "I never was afraid to play in the dirt."

Xtreme Mud Run, October 2012

Yeah... Right there... that made my day.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Race Race

Very little of my life is 'traditional'. I grew up aiming for the stars, being the 'good kid', but I know deep down, I was ment to get married in a colored gown at a jazz club, with my husband wearing a Star Wars pin on his suit, enjoying a chocolate covered chocolate cake (it was seriously awesome - and not nearly as deathly rich as it sounds), substituting the ring exchange for a hand blessing, and without a single flower in sight.

So when I bring up the topic of "adoption", it doesn't really surprise anyone who's known me for about 20 minutes that it would be my 1st choice in building a family. When I mention that I'm 'open to any ethnicity', that sometimes surprises people.

 Maybe it's because of the high profile case that just closed this past week and is plastered all over social media, but I've been quietly challenged on my views of race lately.
So it made me think about it...

Trainer Guy is proudly Scottish, accent and all. (Trust me, it makes me crack a smile every time he says "badassery". It doesn't quite have the same ring to it in my plain old 'Californianated' English.)  His skin tone isn't too far from my Hienz 57 muddled blood line but his culture has it's own charm, to be sure.

My cousin has 10 kids - 3 which are scientifically related to her, and 7 that aren't. 2 are chinese (as in directly adopted from China) and are working on speaking English. The others, while American, came in a variety of shades, from a variety of backgrounds. They all have 1 thing in common though. They are kids that need love - and found it.

Left to Right -Brother, Dad, Mom, Me, and My Sailor
For me, my parents were both 'caucasian'. My dad was largely German and Swedish in descent. My mother is Irish. Though born and raised in the US of A, she is still very much irish. From the red hair, to the sun-burn-in-bright-light-skin, to the firey personality, she's Irish through and through.
 The only one of My Sailor's friend's able to attend our wedding was his friend playfully nicknamed The Korean (by his friends). He was adopted from Korea by an American family. His fun-loving energy is uncontainable.
Sistah' Girl has been a friend of mine for years and, yes, our skin tones are similiar, but she's beautifully Italian. From her (sometimes) refined palette, to her passionate spirit and vocal personality, she's all Italian through and through.

My previous roommate in California was Latino, though he fought the stereotypes in every way possible as he forged ahead in the music industry. His work ethic was clear as he's now created a lucrative business as a DJ for himself.

My current roommate is Japanese American. Spending his early years growing up in Japan has given him firm roots in the Japanese culture, and has resulted in some great dishes making their way into our kitchen. Traditional Soba is pretty much a weekly staple.

Believe it or not, I'm one of the American Genetic Minorities. So is My Sailor. Natural blond hair and blue eyes occur in about one in ten people in the US.  They are considered gene mutations.  I'm some bit French, some bit native californian, and many bits European. I know I also have some black cuture of some sort in my background - the scarring disorder I have is specific to Africans. I actually once met a Scottish folk singer who looked striking like me too.
Go Figure.

My Sailor is largely Czech, and of course, there is some French nobility in there somewhere.

So - all that said, do I believe in being 'color blind'?

Quite honestly, I did.

According to The Human Genome Project, "DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity." 
 I wanted to say, "It doesn't matter where your roots are. We're all human. We're all in need of food, shelter, kinship, water, etc."

And, yes, that's true, I realize that something else is true too.

Science doesn't know everything.

While there may not be significant DNA evidence, DNA doesn't dictate culture. The roots we identify with are important.

So, yes, though I don't particularly care what colors our family turns out to be, I do look forward to exploring other cultures and making them a well rounded part of our lives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Kinds of Awesome

From Pig to Powerful
 Remember this post where I explained the ugly side of Endo, but also celebrated hitting a 10 minute mile indoors on the track? Well, that mile was broken up in 2 segments, with a work out in between.

Yesterday I hit a brand new milestone. I proved my 5k time was possible! I hit just over a 9 minute mile! I'm pretty excited about that. Honestly, I was ecstatic with 10 minute miles. To be in the single digits... it just kinda blows my mind. That shaved off about a minute in about a month! I know I can't expect leaps and bounds every month, but that was definately a boost!

I'm trying to nail down some plans for the weekend. So far, all I know is there will be a picnic. I'm pretty excited about it, but I'm keeping those expectations tempered, since My Sailor's schedule...well, let's just say the weather is more predictable.

With that said, I gotta give a shout out to My Sailor. He has offered to help for just about anything. From opening doors to helping carry the smallest things, I appreciate it. It's not easy, with both of us (especially him) on the brink of exhaustion. It's always a comfort to see that, when the going gets tough, my safety net is still here, even when he's not 'here' most of the time.

So that's your little blurb for the day. Good night blogosphere.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

PROGRESS!!!! And 'Rest' Day?

Happy Ready-For-The-Race Face!

 Finishing face!
Yesterday I ran my first 5k in 2 years, and my first color run ever. It was fun, but I'm not sure if I'd do a color run again. I liked the fact that every mile they had a color station, but I think I would rather have run through paint than the colored powder they throw on you. Chalking powder and breathing in order to run really don't go well together. So that took a while to get used to BUT I made it! And I made great time! 34minutes! A new personal record (could have probably shaved 2 minutes off, if I hadn't been stuck walking due to people jams in the beginning too). I couldn't believe it when I looked at my timer.

BUT I was VERY happy with my time! It just goes to show that all that training is paying off (in ways that don't involve shoving around heavy bags of river rocks).

Today is my "rest day" from working out. However, 'rest' is very loosely defined around this house. The dogs let me get about 7 hours of sleep (disturbed by My Sailor leaving around 4:30am - he got to 'sleep in' too).  Then it was up early, cranking some classical Disney music while I did dishes and made Protein Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast (delicious!) and sat down with a cup of tea for a few minutes to edit the pictures before I start the day. What's on the to-do list today? Housework (dusting vaccuming - a daily thing with Odin shedding, laundry, dishes, bathroom cleaning), yard work (namely poop scooping, lawn mowing, weed killing, mulch and stone laying in the yard), and replacing the mail box pole again (which involves digging up the 10lbs of concrete I laid earlier this week, removing the mail box from the pole, attaching it to a new, adequately high pole, and laying concrete again to get said pole in the ground while using rocks for added reinforcement). Needless to say I've got my 'rest' day work cut out for me. Sometimes, I'm grateful for the long hours of summertime sunshine up here. I can work outdoors until 8 or 9pm before the light starts to give out.

I decided today would be a good day to take some new progress pictures. I can feel the progress I've been making, but sometimes it's not that easy to see changes when you look at yourself in the mirror every day.

My self-esteem used to live and die by the scale and my clothing size. Even when I was at my lightest, I still was a size 14/16 in most pants - the same size I am now. They just fit a little better/differently depending on my size. It takes a LONG time for me to really change clothing sizes. I was going to use a tape measure to measure my progress, but I realized with weight lifting, that's probably not a great measurement. In some places, I could be 'bigger', but that could just mean 'stronger' not flabbier.

These photos are proving incredibly helpful in gauging my progress in a visual way. (Of course, the thicker weights on the end of my bar when I lift is an excellent gauge too.) The fact that I've gone this long without illness or injury is pretty awesome, and I'm inclined to believe that it means I'm hitting the right balance of training, sleeping, and working. Not to mention, the stress relief from working out hard has become an essential part of my life now.

Here's the crazy thing - as you look at these, remember, I'm actually 5-7lbs HEAVIER on average now than I was in December.

So, without further ado, here they are!

December, March, May, and July

December, March, May, July     

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Functional Muscles - A photo heavy blog

There is a lot of talk about 'functional muscle' in strength training. I mean, doing sit ups until the cows come home is great, but what do sit ups do for you other than get you one step closer to that fashionably flat belly? Well, building your core gives you better posture, better stamina for most activities, and help with stability and overall balance. AND they make your waist smaller. Handy, huh?

So, yes, I can dead lift over 200 pounds but what does all this gym time give me other than well-earned bragging rights?

Sure, races and recreational events are fun, but there are some really handy things about building this kind of muscle. Yes, handier than enjoying arms that stop waving when I want them to, rather than when the flab decides it's done.

It's no secret that My Sailor's schedule is packed, leaving him too exhausted on his days off to do much other than fold laundry, brush the Odin, and catch up on some video games. So when things come up that can't wait, it's my job.

Yesterday, our mail box officially died.
The previous owners had kept it alive as long as possible, propping it up with rocks to keep it alive once the post rotted out from under it... but when the mail man delivered mail yesterday, it fell over (not for the first time) and broke.

Doh! I had bought 10lbs of concrete and a bucket to mix it all in, in an attempt to save it. My Sailor wanted to help on his day off, so I was waiting. Well, this week he had the weekend off, then no day off, and last night he said he has Friday off, but, ya know, the safest course of action is just to take charge and do things myself, rather than try and wait for the random day off for him to do it. Sure, it's not 'fair', but whoever said life (and any long term familial relationship) was 'fair' was nuts. Sometimes ya just gotta step up.

Things wait when they can, but this could no longer wait. My Sailor propped it back up last night, but it was indeed unusable.

So this morning I got up, made breakfast, and headed to the hardware store to buy a new mail box, .5 cubic feet of river rock, and a couple of shovels to tackle the job.

In case you're wondering, a bag of .5 cubic feet of river rock weighs 50lbs. I had to look this up, it wasn't printed anywhere on the bag.

When I picked up the bag from the shelf, it tore a little bit and was a little heavier than I expected, but I got it into the cart with only the tiniest bit of difficulty.

The guy ringing up the bag didn't lift it or move it to get it out of the cart. I moved it into the back seat of the car without a problem. I carried it from the car, across the driveway, to the mail box without a problem.

I pulled the mail box up, carried it away, a few feet away, and noticed that the rest of the old concrete and pieces of the post was still in there. So I grabbed a shovel and dug it all up, and pulled out the old concrete to start from scratch.

Once I used about 10-15 handfuls from the bag, I did a little squat (learned it in the gym), and was able to easily lift it into my arms, stand, carry it to the shed, and put it down.

In thinking about it, it was pretty close to a really awkward power clean.

Mission accomplished.

However, it wasn't only functional muscle (or a mail box) that I was building.

I was building heart too.

See, today was 'one of those days' where I would have LOVED to have pulled the covers over my head and ignored the day. You know, one of those days when the to-do list seems unconquerable and you want someone else to appear and magically put all the effort required for the day so I don't have to.

But it's funny how a simple thing (like this minor home improvement) works to lift the spirits. Not only did I discover that my muscle is going to be REALLY useful on my fence building project, but I got to start my work day feeling pretty accomplished. It got me thinking, "Ya know, this fence isn't going to be impossible to build myself." I was seriously thinking of hiring a contractor to do the work, but ya know what? I got this. Little by little, every day this summer for an hour or two, I think I can get this done.

I was building the guts to get up and get at it. It was just one step at a time. Sure, the dishes need to be done, 8-9 hours need to be done, the yard needs to be cleaned up (2 dogs, 1 pooper scooper), and my car needs to be taken into the shop for some new tires. Putting up the mail box reminded me that I don't need to do everything all at once. I got one project done. Now on to the next! 8-9 hrs of work! Sure, it's gonna be a late night for me, but it'll be productive!

Just like I didn't build the physical muscles overnight, sometimes ya gotta work out the other functional muscles in life too. Ya know, like the heart.

That's something Clydas has figured out already... check out his doggy yoga -

Clydas found my yoga mat I used for my lunch break work out on Tuesday afternoon.

Would this 'Salutation to the Sun' or 'Downward Dog'?
 Maybe both?

 ***EDITED after mail delivery: Apparently my mail box is 4 inches too low... I guess I'll be starting from scratch and flexing those muscles again this weekend!***

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Elephant, A Babe, and a few Good Books - Aka What I've been reading lately

No, that's not me. I don't own, nor did I take this photo. I just found it. Cute, huh?
If you're reading this blog, you have to have a healthy sense of humor. If there's one thing I'm constantly challenging myself on, it's getting over the whole "fear of failure" thing. EVERYONE has it. But the funny thing is, we're not born that way. Kids are known to do all sorts of crazy things. In the gym is the easiest, most obvious place for me to stare that down.

I'm working up to doing a full on handstand. I can do wall walks and slowly walk my hands closer to the wall, inch by inch. But I want to be able to kick over my head (using the wall for support) to do a handstand. I know I CAN. The strength is definately there. The balance is there, but the confidence, frankly isn't yet.

But boy did I have fun trying yesterday! Folks were running the indoor track and giving me a momentary pause... "What if I fall and someone sees?" I don't believe in banishing such thoughts. I let the mental dialouge continue. So I channeled my inner therapist.
"What IF someone you don't know and may never meet again sees you fall trying something new?"
"Well, then I'll be a little embarassed. But if I was actually hurt, I'm sure they'd stop and help. If I wasn't actually hurt, I'm sure they'd just keep going and tell someone else about this crazy chick at the gym banging her butt or shoulder into the wall. I'd get up and keep trying.""And what would be so bad about that?""Nothing.""And what if you don't fall? What if you make it?""Then someone will be there to see it! That would be pretty cool." "Are you ready now?" "Yeah, let's try it."You get the picture. Problem solved.
I don't believe I look like an elephant doing most of my work outs (and even if I did, elephants are pretty much my favorite land walking animals, so I wouldn't exactly be offended - they are SUPER strong after all). I don't really believe I look like an elephant at all, but it's really funny how, when you get a good sweat going on, you feel suddenly super fit!
Taken with my new Galaxy cell phone
Now back to what I've been reading lately.....

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - I was warned that this book is good, but slow to start. I haven't seen the movie yet. It'll be on my To-Do list as soon as My Sailor goes underway again. While he's interested in seeing it, whenever the oppurtunity arises, he's routinely turned it down. It's not a big deal, but now that I've read the book, I'm interested to see the movie (which was supposed to be visually specatcular). Usually books are 'better' than movies. After all, your imagination doesn't have a budget. Though the studio that made Life of Pi the movie is now defunct, I hear this was definately their final blaze of glory. Is it worth a read? Sure! The first 100 pages or so read very much like a coming-of-age story all its own. While they are essential in seeing how the character sees the world.  Does it deserve the acclaim it's gotten? Only because the ending reveals the tenuous connection between 'civiled' man and 'wild' animals. If it had ended any differently, it would just have been a great adventure story, of which there are hundreds.

The Real Dad Rules by Dan Pearce - I originally got this book as a gift to My Sailor once he completed his portion of the adoption paperwork. Well, since that portion is put off until at least the end of the year, I decided to see what Dan has to say. Dan isn't a doctor. He won't overwhelm you with loads of stats and case studies. He is his own case study. A father who adopted with his first wife, has been divorced twice, and started a blog. The blog turned into the world's most popular Dad blog. (Yes, I follow his blog, Single Dad Laughing he provides a lot of real world feelings for Dads. He's relatable, funny, and caring. In reading this book about this dad's journey, I feel like I'm getting a little bit of insight into what fatherhood might have felt like for my own dad. Now, each person's journey is unique, so I know Dan's experience (especially as a single adoptive dad) isn't the same as my dad. But there are certain peices of fatherhood that, as a woman, I've never considered. It's eye opening in that, and I know I'll be quoting him in my own book.

Protecting The Gift by Gavin DeBecker - Written by one of America's leading experts on predicting violent behavior. While I'm not sure what his exact credentials are, I was turned on to this book by a Facebook buddy of mine. While, yes, it's geared toward parenting, there are a lot of universal concepts in this book that can apply to anyone. The gist of the book is about trusting your gut, developing healthy instincts, and listening to yourself. Not in a logical brain way (like talking myself out of the fear of failure), but in the way that keeps you safe - you and your loved ones. For example, have you ever felt anything is "off" about someone, but not been able to actually prove it - only to be proven right later? This book isn't about how to teach your kids to be nice; but it is to teach your kids to be honest and open with their feelings, and teaching people (parents) to follow your gut. It's engaging, even for someone like me who sees parenthood as more of a "maybe" than a "sure thing" every day. (Don't get me wrong - I'd love it to be a 'sure thing'! I'd be heartbroken if My Sailor wasn't entirely on board, but it is what it is - an issue that shouldn't be forced on anyone.)

And that's what's on my bookshelf right now!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Time - Bailing Out and Sticking It

A Spring sunset from my run. Summer, it's your turn.
No doubt my mom will have some amazing pictures from our hike at Fort Worden for me to share later, but this week, a few things happened that are completely blogworthy.

It's going to be a very busy summer. I have a 5k coming up in about a week.

Our roommate is moving out, which means it's perfect timing to get the carpets cleaned by a pro, sing around the house at the top of my lungs and not worry about bothering anyone, and have all of my model gal-pals over for underwear-clad overnighters! (Yes, that last bit was supposed to be funny. Don't come rushing to my house with binocculars hoping to sneak a peek. We don't actually do that.)
With the credit card debt out of the way (yeah!) and the weather taking a turn for the better, I'll be doing some landscaping every spare second I have.
And I've been using my down time (I know, 'what down time?!') to get some further reading.  Now, there will be a blog post coming up about what I've been reading, but this isn't that post. Tune in later this week for that one.

Oh yeah, and they put up Dad's memorial plaque in time for the 4th of July.

As busy as this summer is becoming, it's already made some of it's themes known. Or rather, it's reminded me of some of the life lessons I haven't been implementing lately.

For example, last week, I had to full on bail out of a lift. Twice.
I eventually accomplished it, but I realized that sometimes, when your start is just a little bit off, you need to bail out for a while, fix it, and start over.

My job is really at that point. While I appreciate the ability to work from home, I haven't seen a raise in nearly 5 years. Morale is at an all-time low, and that's a large part of it. Let's face it; I'm not doing anyone any favors by 'toughing it out' anymore. In the beginning, I was willing to stick it out and see where the economy went, but as the company is growing and, well, I had to move to a state without a state-income tax to see any changes in my pay, I think it's safe to say it's that time.

Time for a new frontier. With the credit card debt out of the way, I can more confidently look into other day-job coding work, while I devote more time and energy to finding paying writing gigs.

While I'm not leaving one job until I find another I'm satisfied with, it feels good to take steps in the right direction.

In other news, I shamefully admit that I haven't added to Dad's book in a while. Far too long, as that headstone reminds me. You see, when I look at that headstone, it's a nice recognition of family history, but for me, Dad isn't 'there'. Oh, sure, I'm not in denial. I know his body is there.But he's no more 'there' than I am in my shows sitting downstairs. There are some dead cells in there, but I'm barefoot in my office loft.

Yes, I still get choked up when I think of a few of the moments of his last week - but that 'choked up' doesn't revolve around Dad necessarily. I mean, yes, I miss him painfully all the time. I'm still relieved that he's no longer battling cancer. I'm relieved that there are no more people coming to say goodbye. I'm proud of the way Dad handled those encounters. I'm proud of the way he loved us, his kids, no matter what the genetics card said. I'm grateful to have had him in my life. That doesn't change. The things that bring tears to my eyes are the heroics I see all the time from my mother and my brother. I'm well aquinted with being alone, but Mom isn't, and she's braving new frontiers. My brother's heart is showing more and more, and, knowing our history, that is nothing short of heroic as far as I'm concerned. It takes a lot of courage to be honestly emotional. So, sure, I miss Dad like crazy, but that's all the more reason to get back to the pad and get some serious writing done. Get those memories and moments down. 

I still have a goal to get it finished by the end of the year - and hopefully - printed. While I'm all for technology, there is something about the weight of a real book in the hands that seems more appropriate for this project.

So, while my day-job situation may be changing (5 years and no raise... I'm in the market for a new adventure on that front - hopefully something less stressful that will give me more time to write and find paying writing gigs), this I'm not bailing on.

I may still be working on kicking up over my head to get my wall handstand just right, but...

This is one landing I'm sticking.

July 4th, 2013, Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Irrational Fear of Barbed Wire

Maybe it's not so irrational. I mean, nothing says "STAY OUT" like a property surrounded with barbed or razor wire. Isn't that why prisons are lousy with it?

I'm not sure if I had a bad experience with the stuff as a child or what, but nothing gives me a serious case of the willies like barbed wire or razor wire. Even in movies, where it's most likely not even very pointy, I still get a serious shiver down my spine.

That said, I recently got an invitation to do the Warrior Dash in Washington this year. Lucky for me, I don't have to say "no" because I have another race (that's cheaper and closer) on the same day, so it's a 'schedule conflict' that has me not registering for this race... it's not the fact that they have one of these:



If you read my blog faithfully (ye brave, ye few), you know that facing down fear and anxiety is an important part of my adult life.

Is this a fear really worth facing down? I mean, I can stand next to a barbed wire fence without completely losing my wits. I can see razor wire and not panic. It's not that bad... as long as I'm not super up close with it and forced to, ya know, climb under/over it...

Maybe next year, Warrior Dash. Next year...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Simplifying, Finding Friends, and Thumbtacks.

This week I was able to make some giant leaps in getting our financial house in order. Since My Sailor's job entails leaving at a moment's notice, I really wanted to simplify things as much as possible. It was completely selfish. I'll have one less thing to think about when we get that fateful phone call. Simplifying our finances is helping out a bunch, especially as our roomie is (possibly)preparing to move out this month. I didn't want the loss of rent to impact our lives too much. (We might not be getting another roommate soon - if we opt to get another one at all.) Setting up automated payments from the correct accounts so I don't have to worry about doing the bank account shuffle a couple times a month has been a huge help.

Gained peace of mind and nickels and dimes. Both add up to awesome.

I've also been simplifing my schedule. It's really helpful for me to keep a calendar. When I first started in the arts (music and theater), I couldn't be expected to be anywhere on time. Well, about a decade ago, I realized what a lousy way that is to live - constantly rushing, never considered reliable, etc. So I started keeping a calendar. It's proven to be really helpful. If I write something down by hand, there is some sort of extra commitment or investment there, whether it's "trash day" or my work schedule. Some folks have noted how committed I am to work outs and training and things like that. In fact, working out seems to have the most marks on my calendar- see all the orange ones?

Yes, I have a unicorn calendar. Ya know why? Because I couldn't find a Disney one I liked. Yes, I'm 5.  

The funny thing is, now that I'm J 2.0 - the more responsible version, I clearly notice how so many others in my circle, well, aren't. I mean, things come up and we all duck out of things last minute, but the sheer amount of times it seems to happen to me is down right astounding! In fact, it's happened so often, I should probably think it's something about me. I mean, we all come across circumstances when we have to cancel or change plans at the last minute. We're all late sometimes. It's part of being human, and, in general, completely forgivable. Recently I stumbled across Single Dad Laughing's Blog and was reminded that to get friends, be one. The rest will work itself out.

Sometimes the pace of life just runs away with us.
"You know what... It's a fair question. Let's do this. Let's put a pin in it! Boop! Pin in, there you go. Now let's that hang there a bit and then we'll address that, when we've thought things through. Okay, good enough for everybody? Smiles all around? Let's get out of here. Come on!" - Bolt, 2008

My Sailor and I are far from immune.

We're putting a pin in some of the bigger discussions around the house right now.

We're discussing the possibility of further construction, international travel, and the whole family planning peice.

 But not right now.

With My Sailor's schedule, it's nearly impossible to tackle big topics that require input from both of us. My Sailor gets about 10 hours at home every day. Those aren't "waking hours". That includes sleeping time, getting ready for work, meal time, and down time - so it realistically turns into only about 2-3 hours of 'waking hours' a night.

He doesn't get weekends.
He has 1 day off per week most of the time, and a lot of that is spent sleeping, running errands, and squeezing in some fun. Days off don't include late nights - even a day off must end early enough for him to get sleep so he can be up around 3am to get to work on time the next day.

That means that anything that involves really serious discussion that can wait - does.

Should we get an estimate for the construction?  Let's decide in the fall.

Should we foster or go international or go private for our adoption? Should we just foster? hould we even have kids at all?! Maybe we'll just be great aunts and uncles, and babysitters for friends? Should I just get rid of my problematic girlie parts all together? Let's talk about it in the fall. Maybe the schedule will loosen up and give us a better idea of what makes sense for us. 'Cuase I have ZERO desire to be over 35 and just figuring this stuff out. Hell, by my age, my mom was working on her master's degree, working full time, raising my brother and I who were over 10! I'm still working on turing writing into something profitable.

What are we doing for our next vacation? When should we take it?  Let's talk about it in the fall, when we know what our money looks like. If we decide to do construction on the house, we should probably save our dough...

I won't lie... it's a damn good thing I'm pretty independent. My Sailor actually enjoys being part of our family dynamic and he participates completely whenever he's available. When he's not though, I have a network of friends and family members I can call for support, the smarts to know how to get the positive endorphines burning, and the courage to ask for help when I need it.

But sometimes, ya know, I hate that damn bulletin board.