Friday, February 27, 2015

Ladders

Beware. Wordy, motivational type post ahead.

Last week something really struck a nerve with me. I hate using the word "unfair" because it sounds so sophomoric, but something really, really unfair happened to my friend. I'm not going to go into it because it's not my story to tell, but it got me thinking.

To vaguely describe the circumstance - she bore the brunt of someone else's bad judgment. It can be argued that this other person was trying to save face for herself - acting blameless in a situation where she definitely needs to take responsibility.

And in the midst of all this I went to get my coffee, and in the cafe there's a sign with this quote:




This quote. It led me to reflect on some stuff that happened during college, and reminded me that I never, ever want people to think of me as a "ladder climber". I don't want to be that person who steps all over other people to get where I think I want to be. I always joke by saying "I don't care enough about anything to __________," but I really don't care enough about anything to walk all over other people to get there. And I feel like most people who have been walked on at some point in their lives can relate.

Let's take the college example. I helped start a group on campus with another girl - we knew each other from class and that was our common ground. Over the two-or-so years that we interacted with oneanother, I grew to really dislike her. There are people who still call us "friends" I certainly don't, and never really did, consider her a friend...but whatever...the things that go on when no is looking, eh? Friends should be on equal footing with one another. If someone feels the need to voice their superiority to you - however cloaked it may be - that person is likely not your friend.

Anyways - I think a bit of perceived competition caused her to see me as a threat, and before I knew it I was getting angry calls from her at 8 or 9 am yelling at me for having not done some innocuous task. Or for not doing something that I couldn't do. For example, our school had rules about booking rooms, and if you didn't have a certain title you couldn't do it - she was the group president (that's another story) so she had to do the room booking. Yet cue an early call about how I'm useless and not pulling my weight and how she has to do everything! There were some other examples, but I definitely got told that I slacked off and provided nothing useful to the group, regardless of what I did.

All because we applied for the same scholarship (which, ps, neither of us got) and she (I think) saw me as a threat. It wasn't until the scholarship that she became outwardly hostile toward me, and actively started putting me down. It sucked, but at the same time I realized I could have a say. We were on a peer-level, and one day, as she was bellowing at me through the phone while I was trying to get ready for class, I realized I could stop her in her tracks. I said, "S, I don't have time for this bullshit," and hung up on her. That was the last time she called to bitch me out about anything. The cold-shoulder behavior continued, but I found the hilarity in it. She saw me as a threat, and decided to bring out her claws. I decided to ignore her put-downs and focus on what I had done well, as well as the humor in her attempts to shame me.



Indeed, I find that the best solution when being walked on is not to lash out, but to get a good chuckle at how serious other people are about their lives and ambitions. It doesn't mean you shouldn't have ambitions, but it begs the question: How swept up in all your own stuff do you have to be to not see if you are hurting or distressing people around you with how you're approaching those ambitions?

That's wordy. I just mean...is your life so important that you need to harm those around you? Are you so insecure that you must make others feel bad about themselves?

Now, none of this means "take it lying down." You should absolutely, 100% stand up for yourself. That's what I did the day I hung up on Miss Moody. It was what I did when I showed her the paperwork that said (paraphrasing) "President or Treasurer must book rooms." I just countered her claims of laziness with proof of what I'd been doing, which she, in turn, had been ignoring.

Make noise, and make yourself heard.



Listen to this cat! Though finnicky creatures they may be. (Although let's be honest, a positive reaction - as opposed to talking down to and blaming the other party - is best. But they should still know they share blame, even if you never explicitly say so.)

Depending on the situation, standing up for yourself may be hard work, and it may be time consuming (I know it has been for my friend), but it's important work as well. If you say something it's out there - now let's say that person decides to walk on or place the blame for their inaction or failure on someone else. Well...you once said something. And now they've said something. The effect may not be instantaneous, and you will probably never get an apology from the person who walked all over you, but one day it will come back to them.


I really have been going on for quite a while now. But I guess my main message is have your ambitions - be creative and cunning and try to achieve them. But be cognizant of the effect it is having on the people around you.

Because if you're at the top and no one under you likes you, you're probably not going to have a very fun time up there.

(Also boys and men, etc. You get it.)
Peace out, everyone! Hopefully you'll hear from me again this weekend!

x


Thursday, February 26, 2015

8801

Check that out! Got over 8800 steps on a workday! I'm pretty excited. Now it's off to bed.

Goodnight, blog world!

x

A weekend away and gadgetry!

I am longingly daydreaming of summer time bike rides with Cam. Just thinking about cruising down a sunny bike path, wind whipping through my helmet, stopping for lunch at a path-side restaurant (completely neglecting the heat that comes with summer, but oh well...)...

...oh the day dreams. One day - soon!!! - I'll do that and have pictures to share with you. But for now, Chicagoland remains snowy cold - though no longer below zero bitter! I even had the pleasure of brushing my car off at 5:45 this morning.

And instead of a bike ride, Cam and I are planning to Polar Plunge this Sunday.

Yeah, don't ask. I don't even know why I signed us up. But we've raised a tidy sum (over $300!), so that's good news! Link here if you'd like to donate :)

I have also suffered through my second illness this season. I suppose I've lucked out quite a bit over the last few years and haven't had to deal with all the germs an office brings, but this year I've been twice-blessed.

Last week Cam thought he was getting sick (surprise, he did) and was wonderful enough to share his cold with me. By the time weekend came we were both nasally sounding and coughing up lots of pleasant junk from our lungs. Unfortunately this illness collided with our plans for a weekend away with our friends - but since such fun comes only once a year (so far) we both rallied through it and had an awesome time.

Overall, it was a great weekend filled with friends, fun, and food (homemade pizza, buffalo chicken dip, amazing BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, and enough junk food to last a year...just to name a few things). And let's not forget the libations. There were libations like we were in a Dionysian cult. We almost slept through Saturday night (due to a much needed but poorly timed nap session) - but the night ended well into the morning, as we were up playing Catch Phrase! until almost 4:30. It made for a difficult Sunday, but no regrets at all.

And on top of all that...I know last week I promised to share about the running gadget I got. I was hoping to have a chance to really use it over the weekend, but because I was sick I wasn't going to go for a run on the icy roads of Wisconsin. What is it, you ask?

A Garmin Forerunner 15!
(stock photo from John Lewis)
This is the same model I got - the "Large" blue version. If you know me (or read my post about the shoes) you know that I'm all about the blue.

I haven't had nearly enough time to test out all the functions. As a matter of fact, I've only actually been wearing it for about a week now. I purchased both the heart rate monitor and the footpod along with the watch, and I'm glad I did. Though I haven't had a chance to try out the GPS functions, my run on the treadmill on Tuesday allowed me to try out the heart rate monitor and footpod for an indoor workout, and it was great. That said, I'm having trouble getting the unit to connect to my computer at the moment (I haven't tried my real computer yet, just my work comp and netbook...no luck) so I'll hold off on a more detailed post until I can put up a screen shot.

Thus far, my favorite aspect of the watch is the step counter. It's pretty accurate (I've counted 200 or so steps around the office a few times and watched the unit update accurately) and I love seeing my step count increase throughout the day. Kind of. At work, not so much, but any other time it's awesome!

The watch comes with a pre-set goal (it was something like 7500 when I first unboxed it) and that goal adjusts based on whether or not you met the previous day's goal.

I'll be honest, I haven't come anywhere near the Garmin's step goal on the days I've been at work (and haven't run). Over the weekend I blew past the 7k-something goal with ease, and when I ran on Tuesday it put my count over 12,000, but on work days it really hugs tight to the 4500 mark. So reaching the step goal each day is definitely something I need to work on. My company does a step challenge in the summer, and I really want to participate, but I also want to start getting used to the extra steps sooner, rather than later.

And lo and behold - I'm reading blogs today and Lindsay at Happy Herbivore has created a 100,000 Steps Challenge for March. Awesome. That's that signed up for!

So anyways, about this "watch". I'll just go with the step thing since I haven't had a chance to do a proper outdoor run using the GPS. It sets a goal for you each day for steps. When I first got it the goal was around 7500 (as mentioned). My goal for today is slightly less than that:



And if you don't get your steps in (at least 200 an hour)? It gets mad:


I've been sitting down too long! Hazards of eating lunch at your desk, I guess.

Brb guys.


Woot, lunch time walking. I wanted to make sure I was half way past Garmin's goal for today. But for the step challenge, I'd like to get 10k in a day. Given that I'm struggling to get 7k on non-workout workdays, I feel like this is an adequate challenge.

So that's the step challenge and goals for it. I told Cam about it to because his job is basically walking around all day, and I think it'll be a fun little competition for us to have (even though I'm sure he'll smoke me in it). I also have a surprise for him...and I should have it by Sunday (just in time!).

Alright, I'm off. I've got a busy weekend ahead, but there should be some pictures from the Polar Plunge for me to put up sometime after Sunday. And I'll try for an outdoor run sometime soon so I can report back on all these fun Forerunner 15 functions! And mayyyybe (if I remember!) I'll post a pic-a-day of my step goal before I head to bed each night. Try and keep me accountable or whatever...

;)

x


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dust.

I haven't kept it a secret that I am no longer religious, but I think Ash Wednesday is a good time for secular reflection as well.

The message is important regardless of what you believe. Ash Wednesday leads into Lent, a season of reflection, penance, and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an important thing - knowing when you need to grant it, and when you need to ask for it. And asking for forgiveness can be difficult and humbling, but also important.

Every Ash Wednesday I repeat the following phrase to myself as a reminder that my life will one day end and the material things I gained will mean nothing. It is a reminder to make my imprint on this world a positive one:



-C

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New shoos!

Everything seems to be a multi-stop journey lately! Even these new shoes!





A little over a week ago Cam and I headed over to New Balance to pick up new running shoes (sorely needed for both of us!). I've been wearing New Balance shoes for ages - they seem to be the only shoes that are really good for me because I have wide feet with high arches. As for Cam, New Balance meets the criteria of actually selling his shoe size (16 or something). Yay for weird sized feet.

We also had a coupon that was weather based. 10% off your order for the coupon, 15% if it was below freezing, 20% if it was below 0. We planned our trip for the coldest day of the week and lucked out - the "feels like" was -2. Score! 20% off, and we bought tek socks too, so we saved like $65 in the end.

Anyways...in the picture of my new shoes above, you can also see my old shoes:




I have no idea how many miles I put on them in the last one and a half-ish years, but I've used them for way more than just running. They used to be the shoes I wore to work to do massage, I wore them for running, and they were my out-and-about gym shoes as well.

My old shoes were 860s, but this time when we went to NB, since we wanted shoes specifically for running, both of us did the free gait analysis. I've had some issues with my left knee bothering me while seated (never while running, though sometimes right after) and I really wondered if maybe my footwear choices (mostly flats at work) were contributing to this problem.

The gait analysis (done on a treadmill without shoes on) showed that my left foot pronated much more than my right while running. I tried both the 860s and 1260s, and the 1260s felt way more supportive and comfortable. I hopped back on the treadmill in the store for a few minutes and running in the 1260s felt way better than the 860s. I could feel the difference it made in my stride all the way up my leg.

The only problem is that the only 1260s they had in-store were pink.

And I hate pink. Really, really, really hate it. For me, not having pink is a serious thing.

So I ordered the blue ones, and we went on our merry way, with assurances that my shoes would be in within a week.

I got a call two days later that they were in, and didn't have a chance to pick them up for a few more days. I didn't get to run in them until this past Thursday - I had 2 miles on the schedule, which seemed like a good distance to start breaking in some new shoes, and I had my old ones with me in case I needed to change.

I finished my run - note: I actually ran 2 miles straight, which has not happened for a loooooooong time!!! Yay!!!) - and my left quads felt really crampy and sore. I was kind of sad, because my feet felt fine. But I stretched, felt okay, and finished an upper body weight workout with Cam. As I was coming out of the locker room after our workout (with my old shoes on my feet to wear into the slushy parking lot) I looked down at the shoes in my hand and realized I was not holding 1260s. I was holding 860s.

The wrong shoes.

When I picked them up initially, the girl brought them out and opened the box and they looked like the 1260s on the shelf (blue and purple) and my order form was in the box. It hadn't actually occurred to me to check the number on the shoes! I checked my receipt, which definitely said I'd paid for 1260s (fyi, the price difference before discount and tax is like $40). And I'd already run 2 miles. Whoops.

But I called New Balance and they were great - they just told me to bring them in and exchanged them, no hassles.

So I had my first run in the 1260s yesterday. It was 2.5 miles - intervals of walk .1 miles, run .9 miles twice, walked .1, then I ran from 2.1 to 2.6.

Holy wow, shoes make a difference. Even though the run was longer, I had no issues with my knee or quads at all. My legs were super tired yesterday and the run felt "hard" but nothing hurt. And yesterday was also leg day. But today...nothing hurts! So it looks like the shoes may have been the trick!

I'm one happy camper. I also ordered another long-considered running toy today. I've been a little back and forth on it because it was a bit of an investment, but I'm excited to get it and try it out next weekend (after which point I will reveal what it is)! Next weekend should be interesting...I really hope it's not super cold again, because I'm going away to a cabin with friends and I really don't want to have to forgo a run because of the weather. I will run outside in 20 degree weather, but if it goes below that I nope out for the treadmill.

But...I will cross the bridge when I come to it (which is my general approach with the weather).

Alright, off I go! Hope everyone had a good weekend :)

-C

Friday, February 13, 2015

What can I do?

This will probably be my last post about Kayla. I started this blog for many reasons, and one of them was to keep people up to date with my life, and to provide insight into things I'm up to. Though she has been at the forefront of my mind for the last week, I have no doubt Kayla would probably already be uncomfortable with having two posts up about her, but I want people to know who she was.

Not what happened to her, not how she died - but the kind of person she was.

When STAND set up the fund for Kayla one of our members approached MTV about writing an article to help gain momentum. Because I was friends with Kayla, when they asked to talk to someone, I stepped forward.

The people at MTV have been fantastic, and so respectful. All of us at STAND want to spread a message about who Kayla was, and to the answer the question "What can I do?"

This is a link to the article. I hope it helps people understand how amazing Kayla was, and answers the question so many people are asking about what they can do to honor her.

In peace,

Christina

x

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Crazy

Everything is nuts right now.

Nothing about this week has been normal. But I wanted to take a second to put this up. If you have heard about Kayla, if you have been moved by her story, please consider donating to this fund.

Indiegogo fund for Kayla J Mueller, organized by STAND

Kayla and I met during college as part of STAND, a student-led genocide prevention organization. I've helped set up this fund and can personally vouch for our intentions, and that the money will go to a good place. All donations will be given to Kayla's parents to be deposited in a fund they are establishing in Kayla's memory to aid Syrian refugees.

Anything, large or small, is so welcome. 

And if you have been moved by Kayla's story, if you feel the need to do something and you want to know what to do...just be good. Be kind and compassionate. Learn, and use that knowledge to love and help people. Those are the things Kayla would want.

Peace,

Christina

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kayla

On Friday I learned that a friend of mine from college, Kayla Mueller, had been a hostage of the terrorist organization ISIS for the past 18 months.

Today, her death was confirmed by US officials.

I do not know what to say right now, other than I will miss her, and I hope I can embody even a fraction of the compassion and selflessness she possessed.

The following is the White House statement about her death.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Statement by the President on the Death of Kayla Jean Mueller

It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller.  On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family – her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family – and all of those who loved Kayla dearly.  At this time of unimaginable suffering, the country shares in their grief.
Kayla dedicated her life to helping others in need at home and around the world.  In Prescott, Arizona, she volunteered at a women’s shelter and worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic.  She worked with humanitarian organizations in India, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, compelled by her desire to serve others.  Eventually, her path took her to Turkey, where she helped provide comfort and support to Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes during the war.  Kayla’s compassion and dedication to assisting those in need shows us that even amongst unconscionable evil, the essential decency of humanity can live on.
Kayla represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world.  She said:  “Here we are.  Free to speak out without fear of being killed, blessed to be protected by the same law we are subjected to, free to see our families as we please, free to cross borders and free to disagree.  We have many people to thank for these freedoms and I see it as an injustice not to use them to their fullest.”
Kayla Mueller used these freedoms she so cherished to improve the lives of others.  In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world.  She has been taken from us, but her legacy endures, inspiring all those who fight, each in their own way, for what is just and what is decent.  No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death.
ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla.  On this day, we take comfort in the fact that the future belongs not to those who destroy, but rather to the irrepressible force of human goodness that Kayla Mueller shall forever represent.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Oh, February.

February is a notoriously bad month for me. And this one is keeping up the trend.

To spare you all too much negativity, I knew going in that it would be a bad month. It feels like thing after thing is happening just to remind me how sucky February is.

Friday was actually a really, really good day. I've been working on a little project for the last few months and on Friday had a meeting with the head of HR (for North America) at my company to basically ask for the green light to go ahead with future plans, and he gave it to us. It was a great feeling, although there is still much work ahead.

And then right as I was leaving work I received some truly terrible news about a friend. It's not something I'm really ready to talk about, but suffice it to say that it is the kind of news you don't ever want to get about anyone you know.

It put a damper on the weekend, and really subdued me. Part of me feels numb to everything. It's not something I ever thought I would have to work through emotionally, and I'm not sure how to.

So I spent a majority of yesterday knitting. I needed to do something productive and creative, so I picked up some yarn, and some needles, and went to it. For hours and hours and hours, I knit. It is a project with intention, and feeling, and need. There are so many emotions going into this one project, that I'm not sure what will happen when I finish, or what I'll do with it.

But I don't have to decide that yet, and I'm not going to.

Here's hoping this week is in any way better than last.

x

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend recap

We're not New York, but boy did we get snow this weekend! And lots of other stuff happened too! Or at least I did lots of stuff.

First things first - my Diet Bet ended on Saturday! I was up super early (5:45!) to weigh in because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get it verified since I was going to a party that night. So at 5:45 I hopped on the scale, and it was down a whopping 9.6lbs from my weigh-in weight. I needed to lose 7.1 lbs, so it's pretty clear I beat my Diet Bet! I still have no idea how the payout works, but I should be getting my $25 "bet" back, plus a cut of the pot. From the game page it looks like  80-85% of people met their goal, but I have no idea what the final results are. Here are my pictures from the game though, if you're interested:





Check out my awesome new workout clothes on the right, too! Working out 5 days a week meant I needed some more. And I actually mean needed. I also discovered I get a bit chilly when we're lifting weights, so that long sleeve shirt (though admittedly adorable) was also necessary...in both white and gray. New clothes and -10 lbs aside, I won't lie: I'm glad the Diet Bet is over. It was definitely a challenge! I started calorie counting using Lose It! after the first week, which was a really good idea, and I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I met (and exceeded) my goal. But in order to guarantee I would lose the weight I needed to lose, I had to put the "per week" loss goal to 2 lbs, and though that's enough calories to get through a day, I don't feel it's sustainable because there was pretty much no wiggle room. I had enough that I could still have a piece of candy (Riesens!) after lunch and dinner, but there wasn't "budget" enough for much else. Even after I hit my goal on Tuesday I kept the same calorie budget on Lose It! because I really wanted to make sure I hit the goal. That's another reason I got up so early on Saturday - I wanted to be able to change things around on Lose It! and get a new calorie budget.

Which is what I did! As soon as I got the email saying my weight was verified, I went on Lose It! and changed my goal so I can (hopefully) see some steady weight loss until June. I was surprised when I saw that changing my goal from 2 lbs a week to 1.5 lbs gave me an additional 300 calories to eat (my total budget is now just under 1500 calories a day). Figuring in 5-6 days of workouts (either running or strength/cross training which 'earn' me 300-600 calories that I use for pre and post workout fueling) that budget is more than do-able.

So after I changed calorie goals...I made cupcakes! Okay, that's a lie. I made the cupcakes on Friday because they were the only thing I had all the ingredients for, and I actually frosted them Saturday morning. I made them for a friend's party Saturday night - I'd agreed to make some other stuff, but was too lazy to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work on Friday.

So with the cupcakes out of the way, I piled my dogs in the car and went out to run errands. I'm glad I went when I did, because my mom went out a bit later and said the traffic was ridiculous. I stopped at three stores then made my way to finish up the rest of my cooking, and fit in a run. So I whipped up some quinoa for a black bean-quinoa salad, set it aside to cool, and went for my run.

Remember that planner I keep talking about? Well I sat down with the planner and Hal Higdon's 5k (novice) training schedule, and put the runs in my planner.




It looks pretty blank right now, but that'll fill up. By the end of last week I'd written a ton of stuff in there. I would have put that picture up, but I was crocheting a gift for a friend who reads this and I don't want to give it away.

But I digress...you can see where I've put my runs in! I don't have it written in there (yet) but Tuesday is leg/back day, and Thursday is upper body/arms day. Saturday is a workout day too, but it's do-what-we-want day. So I scheduled my runs accordingly (keeping those longer runs away from leg day, haha).

Saturday's schedule had a 2.5 mile run written in it's little box, so I mapped out an out-and-back route, laced up my shoes and leashed up my Nigel:




and off we went. As I started running I realized it was really good I went out for the run because we were predicted to get bucket loads of snow between Saturday and Sunday, and when I was out the sidewalks were pretty clear. I only had to run on the roads a few times (which I don't normally do if I have a dog with me). And since it was my first run outside in a while, I ran at an easy pace for 8 minutes, and then walked for 1, but did my next two runs for 10 minutes with 1 minute walking in between. I finished the 2.5 miles in just over 30 minutes, and I have to say I was pretty tired at the end. I know that will get better though!

But - I had no time for tiredness! I made lunch, took a shower, and finished up with the quinoa salad and then made mini shortcakes (and sliced 2 lbs of strawberries) for mini strawberry shortcake. Then I cleaned the kitchen - no easy feat! My mom had made dinner for PADS (enough chop suey for 50 people) and it was a bit of a tip. But I got it done, headed off for the party, and had a great time!

Now, all the while at the party people kept wondering how bad the snow was getting. I didn't leave until almost midnight (first one there, last to leave, woohoo!) but the roads in the city were totally fine. I'd decided to head for Cam's instead of home, and I was really glad I did. By the time I got to the suburbs the toll-way was getting kind of crappy. It was like snow plows suddenly disappeared. Then when I got off the toll way, it was a slip-and-slide the rest of the way.

When I left my house I was pretty sure the snow was supposed to stop by like 9 or 10 am on Sunday, so I didn't pack stuff for work (Cam lives 10 minutes from my office). Well, let me tell you people, it didn't stop. We shoveled at 11am, then Cam and his dad went out again at 4 and 10:30:


My boyfriend, ladies and gents...11 am, snow plowing in shorts. But don't worry, he put on snowpants the second and third times he went out.
I'd planned on leaving at 4:30 because I needed clothes for work - and so I left at 4:30. I got to the nearest main road and decided I would rather go to Target and buy clothes for work. When I got there I called Cam and asked him to come get me (yay for his Jeep with all wheel drive), got the clothes I needed, and then Cam and I decided we should drop my car off at work in the parking garage before heading back to his house. There was a good 6 inches of snow in the parking garage when we got there:




Don't get me wrong, there were cleared out spots about 1/2 way down the aisle...but it was weird to see this!

It also made me really glad that I decided to stay at Cam's last night. I hunkered down on the couch and got a bit of knitting done, and as soon as I post this I'm cozying up on the couch and working on it again, because my company has late-start today so I don't have to be at work for another 3 hours! Yay!


x