Friday, January 29, 2016


Since I haven't done much else but Neflix and Chill lately, I thought I'd talk about something I've been Netflixing!

The first time I "got into" Netflix was when I had my shoulder surgery 2 years ago. A good friend from college (Bender, off-spawn of the Mama and Papa Bender), told me I could use his account to keep myself entertained - but the agreement was conditional.

I had to watch all 7 seasons of The West Wing.

I remember when the show ended in 2006 because I had a friend from class who was obsessed with it, and pretty much shedding tears the day of the final season started (weirdo). I wasn't sure I'd ever watch it because I didn't know if it was my "style"...but it turns out I totally don't have a TV show style. Like with every area of my life, I enjoy a little bit of everything!

Well - I watched all 7 seasons, and it only took me about two weeks (that's right, I did nothing but Netflix for ages because even walking hurt). I loved that show - it remains one of my all time favorites. Props to Bender for making me watch it!

Since then, I've watched plenty of shows that have been (and still are popular) - including Mad Men, Parks and Rec, New Girl, Walking Dead...etc. I can't even name them all, and I bet you couldn't name all the stuff you've watched on Netflix either.

When Cam and I started dating and things got surrrious, we always chose a show that we would only watch together. Popular picks are Game of Thrones and Walking Dead since they're still airing, but there were some others too - Parks and Rec, New Girl, and Narcos fall into this list. In other words, they're shows that have already aired and we want to catch up on them on Netflix.

Now...there have also been shows that I've been totally resistant too. I've seen a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory (my mom watches it obsessively, as does half of America) and I can't stand it (she already knows this, but sorry, Mom). I don't think it's funny, and I feel like the fandom stuff (Doctor Who, Star Trek, etc) is wayyyy over done. I tend not to like overly obsessed fandoms anyway, and I don't want to spend my time watching a show where that's what the characters are all into.

/endminirant about BBT

Annnnyways. The Office used to be one of those shows too. When Cam and I finished the last season of Parks and Rec and I was left feeling like all of my friends moved away, he begged me to start watching The Office. My reaction?


But I love him, so I agreed.

I'll say this: It's a good show.

I was wrong to judge it so quickly.

However! The first season felt so torturously awkward that I still had my "meh" feelings, but I loved watching Jim and Pam flirt and decided I was willing to watch just to see what happens with them (spoiler alert: I already know they get married. My mom told me years ago when I said I'd never watch the show).

Cam assured me that the first season is way more awkward than the rest - oh yeah, did I mention he's already watched it and just wants to rewatch it with me? No. Well, it's true. And wanna know something totally bogus?

I'm not allowed to watch episodes without him.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's "our" show to watch "together", but he won't even let me watch the intro without him in the room! He's completely obsessed!

Anyways - the point I'm getting to.

Remember, I like this show! I'm going to keep watching it! But I'm soooooo bugged by the one thing so many people who watch this have said to me. And that is some version of this sentence:

"If you've ever worked in an office you'll love this show because you'll totally be able to relate."

No. Nononononono.

I've worked in an office in Corporate America for nearly two years now, and I totally disagree with this statement. Cam says it's probably because:

  • There aren't enough men in my office (I quashed that one)
  • Well "in the 60s and 70s..." (also quashed because this show takes place within the last 10 years)
  • My company is too big (valid reason)
But overall: I still disagree. Literally half the stuff that happens on this show would get you fired at my company.

Like, let's be honest. This show is a sitcom. It's about funny and quirky (and weird and annoying) people who all work in the same office. And you get those weird people in every office, I get it. That, however, is where the relating bit ends - most of these scenarios are totally bogus.

Cam and I watched the sexual harassment episode last night and there is zero chance in heaven or hell that a guy like Todd Packer would get anywhere near "upper management" at the company I work for.

Also, congrats NBC and creating some of the world's most annoying characters and putting them in a show together. Holy crap, Michael is a terrible manager (I know, I know, that's part of the joke), and if I worked with a guy like Dwight I'd probably get a guard dog for my desk.

I know I shouldn't take it seriously - it is, afterall, just a TV show. And it's not the show that I'm critiquing. No, I am hardcore critiquing the fans!

Ya'll who said this show is anything like a real office?

Ya'll are on some good drugs.

Annnnnd...that's it. That's all I wanted to say!


Currently Reading:
I'd have an audiobook here but I'm waiting on my latest library haul...please bear with me.
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Workout Wrapup (Monday 18th - Sunday 24th) a little more

Before we get started here, I wanna say sorry for the lack of posts lately. Truth is...there's not much going on! I've been thoroughly boring lately, electing to stay at home in my pajamas and go to bed early on the weekends. And, quite frankly, it's something I've needed. I feel like August through December I was sprinting through weeks and weekends with so much to do, and I'm really enjoying spending time at home doing nothing.

So with that out of the way...onwards to describe what little physical activity I did last week!

Each day contains a bit of an update on any extra news from the week, so this isn't just a workout update...but it's mostly about workouts.

Monday, January 18th - During my lunch I decided to climb 34 floors in the stairwell. It was doable, but I was gross and sweaty afterwards. I think I'm gonna have to start rearranging these climbs to after work starting next week :(

After work we hit the pool! It seems I may have been correct about why my Garmin was incorrectly counting my yardage. I had no problems during my swim on Monday even though I stopped it for an extended period of time at one point, but I was much more conscious about my turns and didn't spend too much time lollygagging and switching equipment.

I also love that the 920xt automatically syncs to my phone through Bluetooth. Very convenient!
These stats look pretty encouraging to me for a few reasons. The first is that my average pace is faster than my fastest lap just a few weeks ago. Looks like all that work on my stroke is helping! Next on breathing techniques so I don't keep feeling like I'm gonna pass out!

Also...I didn't only do 1,000 yards. I actually spent about half my time in the pool practicing flip turns. this meant I was swimming 4-8 strokes, turning, swimming another 4 strokes getting frustrated with myself, then starting over. Okay, that makes it sound worse than it was. I had a few really good turns. I'm figuring out where I need to place myself before I tuck into a turn, but I have trouble breathing out my nose when I'm upside down, and the twisting motion of the turn is still a bit awkward for me. But I will say this: I can at least do some semblance of a flip-turn now! Big improvement on when I got in the pool on Monday.

That said, I'm going to have to start fitting in another swim day somewhere, and it will need to be a technical one where I can focus on stroke, breathing, and turns. Always something else, I'll tell ya!

Tuesday, January 19th - Swole Tuesday, if you will. We started with spin (15 minutes) and I worked at a moderate level. My goal is to not kill my legs with running and cycling because I have to work in my stair climbing for the next couple of weeks too. After the spin, we moved on to lifts. Cam keeps forgetting to bring our record book with, so here's what I remember:
  • Bench: 3-3-10 rep at 80-75-65lbs - I PR'd my 3 rep! Cam and I rarely do 1RM (one rep max) lifts, so the 3 rep is where it's at for me. I got the first two up fine, but Cam had to guide the last one. So maybe I should call this a 2RM?
  • Bicep barbell curls: 5-5-10 rep at 45-45-35lbs 
  • Shoulder fly: 5-5-10 rep at 15-15-10lbs
  • Cable Chest fly: 5-5-10 rep at 12-15-10lbs (per side)
  • Lat pull down (close grip): 5-5-10 rep at 85-85-75lbs
Slowly, slowly getting stronger. The numbers go up soooooooo slowly, but after feeling like I've been stuck in the 65-70lb range on bench for so long, I can tell things are getting better!

Wednesday, January 20th

Wednesday is still my rest day (that'll have to change in a few months - more on that later), but I climbed the stairs during lunch. I only went up once - so 22 floors. I spent a lot of time stretching my calves afterwards because they've been feeling really tight lately.

My mom and I also went to another yoga class last night, and it was just what I needed. We had a different teacher this time and the routine focused on a lot of hip opening and I learned a few new poses (who know wide-legged downward dog was a thing?!?). I love that I'm getting more consistent yoga practicing in and I'm beginning to notice the subtle changes I had last year. Less neck/back tightness, fewer's wonderful :)

Now about changing my rest day! On Monday when we were swimming I started talking to a woman at the pool who 'trains for Ironman every other year' (FYI she said that like it was no big deal) and she told me that during the summer there's open water swim followed by a 5k in a town near me. On Wednesdays. So come June I'll rework my schedule and hit that up a few times so I can get some open water swimming in. This actually helps me cross something off my bucket list, so I'm happy with it!

Thursday, January 21st

Thursday was another lift day - we elected to just lift, and didn't do any accompanying cardio (although I did do 22 floors during lunch). It was (mostly) leg day - a 3-3-10 rep of:

  • Deadlift: 3-3-10 of 135-145-100lbs
  • Squat: 3-3-10 of 115-115-90lbs
  • Decline Bench: 3-3-10 of 80-75-65lbs
  • Chest Fly: 5-5-10 of 12-15-10lbs (per side)
  • Back Fly: 5-5-10 of 75-75-55lbs
  • Wide grip lateral pull downs: 5-5-10 of 85-85-70lbs
We both just kinda crashed on the couch after dinner...well deserved, but a terrible, terrible habit!

Friday, January 22nd

I knew that, somewhere in my week, I had to fit in a 44 floor climb. So I did. On Friday. Before work. I did my floors, then took a hippie-shower (or, my favorite term, a "Whore's Bath"), washed my face, and got dressed in the bathroom at work.


That's dedication. Mixed with madness. (PS, if you wanna donate or read about the Hustle there's still plenty of time!)

Friday ended with Hot Yoga at TriBalance with Amy - and my friend Grace from work joined us too! This week's class felt way harder than the first one I went to, and I'm not sure why. It may have been that the poses and flows felt more advanced, but I'll be honest - I cannot coherently remember everything that happens in that very hot room. I'll keep going though, that's for sure!

Saturday and Sunday

I did a whole lot of nothing. I was sore and tired from Friday, and elected to chill out and watch TV for a large majority of the day - although I did get the hamster cages cleaned and the grocery shopping done. On Saturday, Cam came over and we ordered pizza and then Netflixed the final episodes of Parks and Rec. I now feel like all of my friends have moved away :(

Annnnnd...that's it.

Told you it was nothing exciting! And since I have nothing fun coming up soon, if I'm not back this week, have a good one!


Currently Reading:
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

Finished: I is for Innocent (Kinsey Millhone #9) - Sue Grafton
Ahhhhhh I love these books. I don't have a ton to say about this individual book, other than Sue Grafton never disappoints. I love Kinsey Millhone's personality, and Grafton has written a great character. I can't wait to start the next one!

I also finished another book this weekend! In November 2014 my cousin Jennie (the Presidentress) completed a novel for NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month), tentatively called Choosing My Confessions. I've had a copy of it since sometime around December 2014, and until this weekend I'd only gotten about 80 pages in (out of 280ish). It's her book so I don't want to give away too much, but I sat down to read some more at breakfast on Saturday morning and found myself completely engrossed in it. I sat there and read the remaining 200 pages almost without getting up (I'm reasonable and realized the need for tea and/or coffee during the few hours I sat there). I'm not just saying this because my cousin wrote it, but I really, really loved this story. So I'm counting that on my 2016 completed books list, and if it's ever published (self or otherwise) I'll definitely let you all know!

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, January 18, 2016

African Sweet Potato Stew

A few weeks ago my mom and I were looking for a movie to watch while we chillaxed one night, and we settled on Hector and the Search for Happiness. I happen to really like Simon Pegg and we were in the mood for something kind of uplifting but not jokey, so it seemed like a good pick for the evening.

It turned out to be a really, really good movie. Probably one of my all time favorites. I won't give too much away but it's about a psychiatrist named Hector (Simon Pegg) who realizes there's a total void in his life so with his girlfriend Clara's (Rosamund Pike) permission/encouragement, he embarks on a journey around the globe to decipher what makes people happy.

Aptly named film ;)

I wasn't sure what to expect, but as the story evolved it definitely blew away whatever I thought might happen.

At one point in the film he's talking to an Afrian woman whose family has a tradition of meeting at her mother's house once a week for sweet potato stew. She goes on and on about how amazing it is, and Hector ends up going to her mother's house for dinner (and then all hell breaks loose). mom and I share a brainwave. There are certain things that link up in our heads without us knowing, and then one of us says what it was and the other says, "That's weird. I was just thinking about that."

And so it happened with the Sweet Potato Stew.

On Saturday morning right after breakfast my mom started prepping a crock pot dinner, and before I even asked what she was making I already kind of knew the answer. I asked anyways. The answer?

African Sweet Potato Stew.

I'm not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but I was intrigued enough to want to try it. And it was very, very good. I would say it's a bit like lentil stew but sweeter, with a hint of peanut, and not overwhelmed by potatoes.

For those of you wondering, she used this recipe. It required a small amount of prep before going in the crock pot, but after that it was a slow cook and our house smelled ahhhmazing. At my recommendation she used aduki beans (also known as adzuki beans) since the recipe just said "small red beans" - we found these canned at our local Fresh Thyme store.

I don't have a picture of our stew because I'm terrible at photographing my food (and really, stews just look gross to begin with) so instead here's a still from the movie. This is the scene where he meets the sweet potato stew woman and she puts in her two cents regarding people and happiness:

I can't recommend the movie enough and really, you should try out the stew too ;)


Currently Reading:
I is for Innocent (Kinsey Millhone #9) - Sue Grafton
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Workout Wrapup (Monday 11th - Sunday 17th)

Hello, hello, and welcome to another week of workouts. Let's dive in, shall we?!

Monday, January 11th: Monday is officially my new swim day. I did 1500 yards on Monday with a little bit of everything. I did pull drills, kick drills, and plain ol' swimming. I decided to time out 100 yards as well, to see how it's helping.

I normally do my timed drills in the middle of my workout, so this occurred somewhere between 800 and 1000 yards - my 100 yard drill was 2:02. A full 8 seconds improvement from last week! I'm pleased with that time, but I still have lots to work on!

I also decided to start practicing flip turns. I've never done them before, I am not good at them now, but I am willing to try!

I'm also a bit miffed because my 920xt does not seem to be working right. I ended up having to manually count my laps because the watch was definitely shorting me on yardage. By the end of my workout it was easily 400-500 yards behind, which is not really excusable. I've done a bit of reading and it could totally be my fault (for example, not using the rest feature when I stop to put on/take off equipment, not using strong push offs, etc), but Sunday and Monday's yard totals were really off, so I'm not sure. I'll play around with it for a while more and see, but contacting Garmin may be somewhere in my future. If any of you have experience with this, please chime in!!

Tuesday, January 12th: Tuesday is back to being a designated lift day. As I approach training, Tuesdays and Thursdays will begin to include 30 minutes of running or cycling, but yesterday I settled for one mile on the treadmill. My ankle has been a bit sore the last few days (may have been from the flippers on Monday) so one mile seemed like the best idea.

After the run we lifted 10-8-10 rep sets:
  • Bench: 65-65-60
  • Deadlifts: 95-105-95
  • Bicep curls (barbell): 30-30-30
  • Tricep Extensions (dumbbell): 30-30-25
And there you have it. It was tiring, and I was sorrrre from it. My arms are starting to get some good definition and my pecs are looking pretty gewd...just gotta keep at it!

Wednesday, January 13th: Wednesday is a rest day! I met Papa Bender for dinner and ended my evening with some yoga (before I totally crashed on the couch). I blame the bench and deadlifts from Tuesday.

Thursday, January 14th: I had an after-work work thing, so I rushed to the gym to get my pump on before I had to be at the other thing. Though it was a good, quick, pump, I totally forgot to take a picture of our lift log as well, so I'll just leave it at that.

Oh, and I did the stairs. Twenty-two floors and some stretching during lunch! I wanted to fit more in afterwards but ended up working a bit long and didn't have time. *Sigh* I gotta stop letting that happen!

Friday, January 15th: I ended up staying up just a bit too late on Thursday, and boy oh boy did I feel it on Friday. I skipped hot yoga and instead went home and went to bed verrrry early

Saturday, January 16th: Since I skipped Friday yoga, I doubled up on Saturday. I went to both the all-level and beginner yoga at Akasha (which is where I signed up with my mom). I looooove the instructor I had...she's so quirky and fun. I also ran into my high school German teacher's daughter! Small world :) It was a good day!

Sunday, January 17th: Unless pushing the cart at Costco and/or cleaning out my closet count as working out...I did nothing. Yeah, okay, I didn't work out.


In all honesty...
...okay. This week was kind of lame as far as workouts go. I wasn't home for most of the week and it really put my mental game in a funk. I'm looking forward to everything being back to normal this week!

My main goal is to get more stairs in. I really skimped this week and I don't have the option to continue doing that. So yeah.

With that, I bid you adieu. Hopefully next week is a bit more active!


Currently Reading:
I is for Innocent (Kinsey Millhone #9) - Sue Grafton
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

Finished: Changes (The Dresden Files #12) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)

Holy crap (Hell's bells?), this book.

Harry (main character) has encountered some unbelievable and hopeless situations, but this particular tome was ridiculous. The middle portion of the book had me wringing my hands in anxiousness and despair. Jim Butcher has done such an amazing job creating characters and a world that I truly want to be a part of and believe in. I haven't felt this way about a series of books since Harry Potter, and that's saying something huge. I highly, highly recommend this series to anyone looking for thrilling stories, believable characters, and the realistic portrayal of life in shades of gray, rather than the normal portray of good and evil in black and white.

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Hustle Up the Hancock: All you want to know (so far) plus a donation link!

This post has been a long time coming! I did something today (not sayin' what!) that made me realize: It's the middle of January. I need to get this post up. I meant to have it up two weeks ago and didn't (whoops...). The Hustle is on Sunday, February 28th...6 weeks away!

So here goes!

I'll post a link to my donation page here, and again at the end of the post (in case you'd like to be really convinced first ;P). All donations go to the Respiratory Health Association and are tax deductible.

Edit: I've now finished writing the post and that link is everywhere. Sorry. I just really hope you'll consider donating...

The following post has a few sections: Why I decided to Hustle; What I committed when I signed up; and a portion about fundraising. Please feel free to skip around to what you wanna see!

Why Hustle?

This is something that has been on my bucket list for a looooong while.

When I was 15 - the year after my dad died - my mom took my brother and me to England and we went to St Paul's Cathedral for the first time. St Paul's was the first building I ever climbed to the top of - and I did it twice. I forgot to take my camera the first time and the view was amazing, therefore the only rational thing to do was climb up a second time with my camera for pictures. After that, as a naive 16 year old, I got it in my head that I could climb the stairs to the top of any building I so chose. My mom mentioned that people climb to the top of the John Hancock building every year...and that settled it for me. One day, I would do that.

For the record, St Paul's isn't that tall, at 528 steps to the highest tier (although x2 that was 1,056). A few years after St Paul's, I climbed to the top of the Ulm Muenster in Germany with my exchange student group, and that was 761 steps. The Hancock? More than twice Ulm, at 1,632 steps.

Good news for me, both St Paul's and Ulm were done as an untrained, unathletic, poorly hydrated teenager...I may be 12 years older, but I can totally do this!

Signing Up

My company's Wellness Committee sends out a newsletter each month, and about every other month it includes a personal wellness story. This year, one of them was written by an employee who joined the Hustle team to get healthier - and that was how I found out my company has a team. I pondered it for a while and decided: Now's the time. I have this opportunity being handed to me - I don't have to fight for a spot - I should do it.

Registration opened November 1st and I registered right away. I want to put full disclosure out there: My company did not pay for my registration. I paid $50 to register, and made a mandatory $100 donation in order to do this. I'd read all of the registration information two weeks prior to registering and I knew what it would cost me. I decided the cost was a fair one and the charity is one I'm willing to raise money for.

So when you go to my page and see how much I already have raised, I put forth some of that too. I won't ask you to donate without showing that I'll put my money where my mouth is as well!


I figured that the training for this would be, uh, climbing stairs...and I was (mostly) right. The people on my company team started training the first weekend of November, and some of them are already up to a ridiculous number of floors (my friend Travis is up to 44 and said some others in the group are at 176)! I am very, very behind on training because of physical therapy, but I was finally able to start last week.

Before I started training I looked at the training tips from a Hustle news letter. Fleet Feet (they're one of the climb partners) has some awesome training tips. Here are my favorites (my comments are italicized):

  • Experiment with your clothing, shoes, and accessories before the event. There is nothing worse than finding out your lucky shirt chafes you on floor 35. - Solid advice. Very, very solid.
  • Don't get psyched out. Yes 94 flights (or 52 for that matter) on foot is crazy, but why would you be doing it if it weren't? You can do it. I believe in you. (Also somewhere in the first 3rd you'll start to feel like you're drowning. Just put your head down and pull with your arms and you'll be feeling better soon.) - Wow. Thanks for terrifying me!
  • Synthetic or Merino wool socks - Merino is always a good choice, and this statement is a sign that this person can be trusted!
  • Body Glide! - Who doesn't love a little lube...?
  • Cough drops or dissolvable lozenge strips. - I never would have thought of this, but after my first day of training my lungs felt like they were bleeding and I had a very persistent dry cough, so I popped a candy in for my second climb. It made such a huge difference! I bought some all natural lozenges today and I'm excited to test 'em out!
So far, I'm doing 22 floors at a time, and this week I will up that to a number between 34 and 44. Since I am behind on training, I'm also playing with the idea of using a weighted backpack to give me an extra advantage in training. That said...I haven't figured out what to weight it with yet!

It currently takes me 5 minutes to climb 440 stairs. So if I tried it right now, it would probably take me 20ish minutes to make the full climb to the 94th floor of the Hancock.

In addition to stair climbing (on actual stairs, not a machine) I'm continuing my normal routine of weight lifting, swimming, cycling, running, and yoga. Oh yeah, I'm goin' all out for this thing.


You knew this bit was coming! Here's the part where I ask you for money. If you are at all able to support me in my climb, please consider it. I promise I am working hard to succeed! My goal for this event is to raise $500, but I would be so stoked if I could go over that.

Also remember to submit your donation for a matching contribution if your company sponsors such things.

For anyone from Zurich: If you'd like me to track and submit your donation for matching I have no problem doing so, and have done this for multiple events in the past! Donations between $20 and $500 will be matched.

And if you need a little extra prompting to click that link, here's what I have written over on my personal page for the climb:

Thank you for visiting my fundraising page! Your support is appreciated as I participate in the Hustle Up the Hancock. All donations will support the mission of the Respiratory Health Association to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease through research, advocacy, and education.

I'm climbing in honor of my Grandpa who's had COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as long as I can remember. Advancements in research are what's kept him alive and kicking this long (he's almost 85!!), and I'd like him to be around much longer!

In addition, my wonderful boyfriend, Cam, has chronic asthma that was caused by a very serious case of pneumonia he had when he was a toddler, and he was hospitalized again at age 18 for near-fatal pneumonia. Last winter, I watched this strong, healthy man go from perfectly healthy to doctor-ordered nebulizer treatments in just under 12 hours because of the cold, dry air. Every time I put my ear to his chest I hear him wheezing, and it's scary to know that an attack can happen to someone so young and healthy for almost no reason, and with few to no warning signs. It is sobering to know that this is a fear we will live with for the rest of our lives.

Nearly 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma like Cam does, and 24 million have COPD (diagnosed and undiagnosed) like my grandpa. That makes for a lot of worried loved ones out there...

Healthy lungs are vital to healthy lives. Research, advocacy, and education are the efforts we make to ensure everyone has their chance.

And some of us are crazy and climb lots of stairs for it too ;)

And just so I can say it...

I am a person who likes to do things for other people. Sure, there's a personal, warm-fuzzy emotional gain for me from knowing I committed to something in honor of someone else and completed it - I think there are a lot of people who want to hear the fund-raiser admit that. And I do.

But it's also way more personal. Sometimes I want to really, really show someone - through a personal challenge - just how much they mean to me. Just how much everything they've ever done for me or supported me through really, really matters to me. Climbing 94 floors is not easy, and this training takes dedication. I remember my loved ones throughout that, and my love for them is encompassed in the feeling I have when I complete a challenge.

Hopefully I've managed to get it right at some point in this dissertation. I can only hope my sincerity has come across and I've convinced you to throw a few bucks towards this cause to honor the people you love who benefit every day from lung health advocacy and research.

If I have, you can click here to donate.

If you do not have the means (or if I simply haven't convinced you) you can learn more about the RHA's research and advocacy campaigns at those links, and you can learn about asthma and COPD instead. If nothing else, please be educated.

With hope for the future (and love for our lungs!),



Thursday, January 14, 2016

This week. *sigh*

2016 is turning out to be the year of hard knocks for everyone, huh?

First David Bowie.

Then 99.999999999999999999999999% of us DIDN'T win the Powerball.

And now Alan Rickman. Unlike Bowie, who I respect but have no real attachment to - Alan Rickman is someone I really, really admired and loved. I enjoyed his acting before Harry Potter, and then he was cast as Snape - the Head of Slytherin house. The head of my house. And I'll be if he didn't nail every performance on the head.

On top of that, and on note that doesn't include the rest of the world, I'm reading Changes (Dresden Files) and...well the changes are too much for me. Harry (main character) is making insanely wild and out there decisions (even for him) and I'm having trouble coping with the possible ramifications from them. I know, I know, it's just a book, he's a fictional character...yada yada. But I'm worried for this character's soul. Even my escape world is being cruddy to me right now.

I'm also reading the Walking Dead Compendium 3, and Rick's gang is totally stuck in it right now. Wonderful on that end too.


In real life, the week got a bit turned on it's head for me. I haven't been home since about 5:45 on Tuesday morning and won't be until late tomorrow - Friday - night. It's entirely my own fault for how I planned out my evenings this week, and even though I've gotten to spend a lot more time with Cam, I'm a bit exhausted by it all. It's not the same when you don't go home to your own stuff for nights and nights on end. It's making me long for #4 on this list just a bit more.

Ahh, the life of the young and carefree!

I'm 100% joking. It's not really very fun - but that's a discussion for another day.

And to add to the not-so-awesomeness of this week (because you need more of a mopey, suck-fest post from me), I've also noticed that my depression has decided to peak for the season. I swear it happens every year between about January and March, and it always takes me a little while to recognize it. It likes to manifest itself in anger an apathy, so...wooooo to that. I feel like I'm expending a stupid amount of energy trying to regulate my emotions to a reasonable level at the moment.

Actually, this is a fitting topic. The other day I was registering with my insurance company's get-healthy program thing (which you have to do if you want the $300 in rewards you get for being healthy) I had to answer a litany of survey questions as part of the "What's your real age" thing.

**If you're wondering: 27. They told me I'm one WHOLE year younger than fer realz. Or, you know, like 4 weeks younger. Yippee.**

Anyways, this was one of the questions, and it made me want to throw my keyboard at my computer screen:


First of all, the question "Have you ever had depression?" is ridiculous.

The answers make it worse. "Yes, currently" and "I used to"?!??!?!??!??!?!

WTF HEALTH FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As someone who actually has depression and gets to struggle with the mentality it creates day in and day out, this made me livid. Depression doesn't just come and go. It doesn't pop in one day and out the next - NO. That is what it's like to feel sad about something. Depression and "feeling sad" are most certainly not the same thing. You don't get the luxury of being able to say "I used to" have depression. Or "I'm currently depressed". It's a fluid state of existence. It's always there...and sometimes it's worse than other times, and sometimes it doesn't feel quite as bad, but it's always there.

Today is a good example. Today I feel really sad because of Alan Rickman. But the feelings from my depression are mostly separate from that sadness. Sadness touches on my depression, but the depression has me feeling distant and lethargic and moderately apathetic about my "real life". But I do actually feel sad about something.

This question was so poorly phrased that I actually took the survey just so I could tell the company what an insensitive and uneducated question that is to ask especially for a health company. I think I ended it by saying they should be embarrassed. Because they should be.


/endrant (thanks for reading)

On a much happier note: I am keeping strong with my workouts (even if I have been eating crap the last few days), and that seems to be helping a bit. I'm making sure to fit them in, and I feel better about myself for that.

But you'll get to read all about that in a few I won't spoil the surprise here (spoiler alert: there's no real surprise).

And with all that said...I am signing off for the day. I apologize for my boring and mopey post, but I truly felt the need to mark today...because not all days are good or great. Not all days have some fantastic adventure or some accomplishment to share.

Some days are just...days.

And some days are about endings. Today is a day like that, and I feel like it's an important ending to remember.


Currently Reading:
Changes (The Dresden Files #12) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Workout Wrapup (Sunday 3rd - Sunday 10th)

I could start this wrap up from January 1st, but that would mean admitting that I didn't do anything really active on the 1st or the 2nd...whoops. So instead I'll start from Sunday the 3rd, and wrap-ups from here on out should cover Monday through Sunday (if I can keep up).

To entice you - keep reading and you'll find out about how I almost got in a fight at laser tag this weekend :P OOOh drama.

Sunday, January 3rd: Cam and I hit the pool for some laps to get back into the swing of things. This also gave me a chance to try out all of my new swimming equipment! Through the course of my 30 laps (1500 yards) I experimented with fins, training paddles, a kickboard, and a pull bouy. Those are links to the actual items I've purchased, and they're all working great for me so far.

I took the bottom strap off the paddles because I've read that it's better at correcting your stroke if you use it that way. I can tell the fins will take a lot of getting used to - my ankles seem so weak when I put them on, and my legs were burning at the end of my kick laps when I used them.

When I was going nuts buying stuff I also bought one of these swim caps for Cam. A few weeks ago his goggles got tangled in his (long, luscious) hair and I decided it was time for him to get a cap. It was really hard finding a good one based on reviews because he has a big head, but this one works for him!

I also timed a 100-yd drill to see if I've been making any progress on my stroke. Two weeks ago when I started this task my 100-yds took 2:30 (ouch). On Sunday, I clocked it at 2:10. So there is improvement! Woot!

Monday, January 4th: I only had about an hour to fit in a workout on Monday, so I headed to the gym for a treadmill run. I really wanted to hit a mile and to try doing it without walk intervals. I warmed up with 5 minutes on the rowing machine before I hopped on a treadmill, and I got about 5 minutes in to a run before I had to stop and stretch my calves. After stretching my ankle felt much better and was able to make it 1.5 miles before I decided to stop (I didn't want to overdo it). I also did 23 floors on the stair climber (probably won't be doing this just didn't feel adequate for actual stair claim training), and then followed it all with some inch worms and foam rolling. All in all a good, sweaty cardio session!

Tuesday, January 5th: Cam and I were back at the gym for some weight lifting! We started our warm up on the rowing machines, then headed to the weights. Our big lifts for the day were deadlifts and bench press. It was great to be able to deadlift after taking almost three months off. My form was on point, and my weight hasn't dropped much either. My bench press has been a bit of a strugglebus for the last month, but since Cam and I are dedicated to getting back in the weight room it should become less of a struggle as we go.

 January 6th: Having looked at my proposed training schedules, Wednesdays are now my rest day. Since one of my goals for this month (and all through training) is active recovery, I did some easy stretching in the morning to limber up for the day, and some hatha yoga (where you hold poses to get the most out of it) after work.

Thursday, January 7th: I'm very disappointed to say we didn't work out. Not for lack of trying though...Cam and I got to the gym and were in the spin room when I had to call it. I was having terrible stomach cramps and couldn't even stand up straight - nevermind trying to get onto the bike or lift. At the end of it all, a little bit of restorative yoga, laying on the couch, and watching New Girl is what made me feel better. I still had pangs all night, but I could handle them as long as I didn't stand up. I suppose if I missed the workout for this, that's at least a good reason.

Friday, January 8th: I already blogged about this, but I started my afternoon by climbing 22 floors of stairs at my office. I wanted to get a baseline for my Hustle training (now that I'm allowed to train). I'm definitely behind the game as far as training goes, but I can't really help that. I will have to add 10-15 floors every week to be able to complete training for the event. Barring any ankle problems, I'll be doing it! Also, my legs were bouncing SO bad after this! It's been a while since I've had such an energized quad workout :P

AND THEN I went to hot yoga! For about a year now, my friend Amy has been inviting me to go to this class with her, and in December she gave me some two week passes - that's what really sparked the goal for me to incorporate more yoga into my life again. So this Friday I met up with her for my very first class.

I'll admit - I'm totally on board. I'm drinking the kool-aid. Hot yoga is great. I won't necessarily say it's the most I've ever sweat (hello summer training runs in the hot, hot humidness) but I did sweat a lot! The class was a bit of a struggle for me because my legs were so jittery from the stairs and we did a ton of lunges and warrior stances, but I made it through alright!

Saturday, January 9th: Amy may have convinced me to try hot yoga, but (as I mentioned last time) I got my mom to agree to trying a normal yoga class out with me. So on Saturday we went to a beginner class, and I'm soooo glad. I really needed the gentle movement and flow of this class, and the reminder to reconnect with my breath. Because I was tired and sore from Friday's workouts some of the poses were a bit difficult for me to hold, but I did my best (and that's truly what yoga is all about). My mom liked it enough that we both signed up for a membership, and we plan on going together at least twice a week. I am very excited to get to do this with her!

Fighting Words

In the evening Cam and I went laser tagging with our friends. Normally I would count this as a workout because I end up running quickly walking around (since running isn't allowed) so much and hopping up box stairs and I work up a great sweat over two hours - but that didn't happen on Saturday. We love the place we go to (here's my yelp review from when they opened a little over a year ago), but it was actually the least fun I've had laser tagging so far. There were too many people, easily half of them were under the age of 12, most of them were just rushing (no tactical thinking), and SO many of them were cheating - and the ones cheating the most were the teenage girls. I caught one girl (she was about 17) cheating so many times that I finally called her out on it when she tried to re-spawn on our side (she was on the other team) and she literally tried to fight me even though I have about a foot of height on her.

What happened was I pulled up my gun to shoot her in the head (where the sensors are) to kill her after she respawned and when you shoot a light flashes, so it was flashing her in the face (her fault for being on our side!). So this girl then shoved me in the chest, called me a bitch and told me to "stop being such a mom" and it just went on. So I held my hand out to hold her off and told her to calm down and stop cheating and acting like a little kid. When the game was over I went and told the refs because my friend Sarah said I should - turns out they knew exactly who she was. They told me she and her friends were high that night (which explained why the whole hallway smelled like weed...) and that they'd brought liquor in a few weeks before. I also told the owner when we ran into him on our way out - we've been friendly with him since they opened because we were some of the first customers, and I'm pretty sure he decided to ban them from playing there anymore. Good news if they do!

Moral of the story...don't be a whiny little b*tch and cheat at laser tag. It totally ruins it for everyone else.

Sunday, January 10th: The week wrapped up with a return to the cycle and swim. Cam and I hit the spin bikes for 15 minutes, then counted up 25 laps (1250 yards) in the pool. The swim felt really tough for me because my whole body is still sore from yoga...but I must forge on to be in shape for training when it starts!

And there you have it! One week of activities and workouts!


Currently Reading:
Changes (The Dresden Files #12) - Jim Butcher (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

I decided to abandon The 5th Wave. I got more than half way through it and found that I really didn't care about the characters, the alien invasion, nor what the 5th wave would be. I didn't derive joy from reading it: I feel like the characters were very flat, and I found their stories fairly predictable as well. I know it's a YA book, but I expected more.

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Week's Happenings and Thoughts on Atrial Fibrillation

I haven't been up to much this week so there hasn't been a real reason for me to post. But to round up the fun bits of the week:

1: My office has been pooling money for the Illinois Lottery. The lotto pot is up to something ridiculous like $675 million...I'm sure you can tell I really care about this (since I'm so in-the-know), but I've put in some money regardless. Everyone's buying tickets, and it's time to heighten our odds with more tickets as a group! It's fun to have a chance at it, and even more fun to talk about how, if we won, suddenly everyone on our floor would retire on their 2-point-whatever million. I dunno though...I'm not that old, I think I'd get bored being at home all day by myself...and god knows I need the job experience in case I run out of my winnings!

In the last few days though, I've learned that there's a greater chance of a vending machine falling on you and killing you than there is of winning the lottery...but it's fun to dream sometimes! ;)

My greater concern is how the state is gonna pay it! For a while they weren't paying winnings over like $500 because the state is so broke...but apparently $675 mil is okay? I don't actually understand the lottery, so if anyone feels inclined to explain it to me in the comments I'd appreciate it! (I'm too lazy for google, apparently.)

What about you? Would you quit your job and retire if you won a few million in the lottery?

2: I finally decided to start training for The Hustle Up the Hancock. Post coming soon, I promise! It will be in my weekly workout post, but I had some free time this (Friday) afternoon and decided to hop up 20 or so floors of stairs. It took me 4 minutes, and I looked liked this at the end:
That smile is a lie.
Dear sweet Jesus, I hope it gets easier. At least like the first 20-40 floors. It actually reminds me of when I started running and I thought my lungs were bleeding. This is a whole different kind of challenge, people! I'll probably be taking 1 or 2 days out of each week to climb the 20 floors of my office building, and then kicking both the stairs and frequency up to 3-4 times a week in February.

Not daunting at all...

3: I convinced my mom to try yoga! The preface to this is that she has had two A-fib (atrial fibrillation) episodes in the last few years. It's a condition where the "electrial" system of your heart starts sending random signals which make the heart beat erratically: Either too fast, to slow, irregularly, or a combination of them all. Irregular heart beats can be very uncomfortable, but the danger when you're in an A-fib is that blood can pool in the atria (top chambers) of the heart and cause clotting and strokes.

So I started doing some reading, and in the end I strongly recommended yoga to my mom because, simply put, it's good for your cardiovascular system. It can help strengthen the heart as well as the body, but it's low impact as well. Though I've maintained a poor, erratic practice over the last year, I'm aiming to get better and am really excited to join my mom for a few classes each week. There's a studio in my hometown that has a great reputation and is really convenient for my mom (and their pricing is great), so it'll be fun to check out some of their classes.

4: Some thoughts on A-Fib

While I was doing my research about how to help manage A-Fib, I stumbled upon this blog post written by a cardiac electrophysiologist (who is also an athlete) which compares different risk factors for A-Fib. Here are the odd ratios that were observed in the studies he looked at:

The risk of A-Fib is higher for heavy exercisers than it is for those who are sedentary, and only moderately lower than those with sleep apnea. The paragraph following this clip states that the risk for heavy exercisers vs mild-moderate exercisers is FIVE times greater. FIVE TIMES!

This really made me think. A-Fib clearly runs in my family (both my grandpa and mom have it), and I was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat when I was 18 (during my freshman year of college when I was getting too little sleep and drinking too many energy drinks). Given these factors, I'm guessing the odds that I will develop A-Fib are quite high. That said...I really enjoy working out. I like cardio and lifting, and I can only imagine that my quality of life (read: happiness) would decrease without it.

At this point I'm more curious than cautionary though. This study referenced hours of "heavy sport activity" in their study, but does not qualify what this means. Is it strictly related to hours per week, or does the average heart rate during activity factor in as well? Does it pertain more to some activities more than others (such as running versus lifting)? Both will raise your heart rate, but running is generally more sustained than lifting sets. If I go for an easy run five times a week is my risk the same as running "hard" a few times a week, and running easy the rest of the time?

Basically - as you can probably see - this has raised many questions for me. I like exercising and I like challenging myself...but will this have adverse effects later in my life?

It looks like it's time to do more reading ;) And speaking of that...!

One Last Thing

Before I hit "publish" on this bad boy, I wanted to point out that I'm adding something new to my posts. Since I started manically absorbing the Dresden Files and Kinsey Millhone novels, I've wanted to post that I'm reading them and never got around to it. So from now on I'll have a "Currently Reading" section at the very end of every post. When I finish books, I'll also post a blurb with my opinion of whatever it was. I've also added a link to my Goodreads account below in case you're interested in following me there!


Currently Reading:
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey (audiobook)
The Walking Dead: Compendium 3 - Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano (hard copy)

You can find me here on Goodreads!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

December Streak (Days 28-31)

I wanted to share a funny mistake I made that turned out not to be a mistake. In my last post (which I posted on January 3rd) I said there were 364 days left in the year. I was right...but only because this year is a leap year, which I totally didn't realize. I'd written that portion of the post on the 2nd, so I would have been wrong if I'd posted it on the 2nd. Whoops. I just thought it was a funny little catch!

And I totally realized that one thing I left out of my 2016 post was that I want to complete 3 CPCU exams this year. It will not be easy because I'm taking two of the harder tests...but I can try!

But I was right anyways! ;)

Now...on to the last days of the streak!

December 28: Physical Therapy...or not. I shoveled snow! As soon as I left work it became apparent that I would not be going to physical therapy. We had a bit of a snow/ice storm, and the roads were terrible. So I drove to Cam's house and started shoveling right away. I kept at it for about an hour before Cam came home and got the snowblower out. That one hour was hard work - practically an hour of deadlifts and squats!

December 29: I got my stretch on. I ended up rescheduling an appointment for Tuesday after work, and by the time I got home I was ready to do nothing (as is usual). So I did slightly more than nothing and both stretched, and rubbed out my peroneals. They needed it!

December 30: I had my very last PT appointment. It felt a bit anti-climatic (I'm still recovering from the tendinitis), and also bittersweet. I'm going to miss Amy a lot - she had very good news for me at my last appointment though - she's pregnant! She'd shared with me earlier that she was having trouble conceiving and then she miraculously (okay, not really) found out she was pregnant about a week after she told me. She was truly fantastic to work with, and though I have no injury plans for the future, if I happen to need a little Astym in a few months I might just find myself making an appointment...maybe...although I totally have no plans to do that...none at all ;)

Ooh! I also got a really cool t-shirt when I was discharged! Here's the back of it:

They do a good job of it too!
December 31: I did a fat lot of nothing. Nothing but work my thumbs around the WiiU controller. Cam and I were both sick (he more than I) and after work I drove to Cam's to do nothing but nap, play Woolly World, and eat pizza "because New Years". I don't even care - I was congested and tired and I didn't want to move.

Overall: I'm glad I took on this little challenge. I had a few days where I consciously made the decision to nothing, or very little, but I'm not beating myself up about that. Things usually get to a point where resting is just as important as getting your move on, and that's what those days were for me. I leaned towards being more active all month, and I liked keeping myself accountable because some days that was what pushed me to do something, even if it was just to stretch a bit or hold some yoga positions for a few minutes.

And there you have it! Now on to 2016, where I will try to be better about posting workout recaps than I was in 2015! Given how bad I was at it every time I mentioned it last year, it shouldn't be a hard thing to do... (she said sheepisly).


Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 (the shortlist and all the deets too)

Before I update on that jewelry! On Wednesday I got a call from security that my third ring (the one from Hannah) had been found! I am still missing one earring and my PrideZ pin, but all other articles have been returned. I keep saying it, but I am very, very fortunate!

Now on to other things...

I swear people, I do not know what I'll do this week when I have to actually work 5 full days in a row. The last full week I worked was the first week of December, and I feel like that didn't really count. Since then I've had Thursday and/or Friday off each week, and the last two weeks at work felt like blow off days because so many people were out for the holidays. When about 60% of the office is gone it's hard to stay motivated rather than become increasingly jealous ;)

But here we are. Ready to talk about 2016.

I first have to say that 2016 decided to hit me in the gut right away. On January 1st I had about 9 hours of warm, fuzzy New Year feelings, and then it was like "BAM! Try this on for size."

Unfortunately for 2016, I know how to hold my ground and hit back. Sometimes I even throw elbows.

I'm not comfortable saying exactly what happened. It's not immediately life changing, but it was a wake up call that this lovely life I'm living has the ability to change drastically if that's what needs to happen. Always nice to remember.

Thanks, 2016, for slapping me in the face with that one over breakfast. I needed the wake up and reminder.

And now that I've thanked you, I'm going to approach the remaining 364 days of 2016 with this attitude: I'm gonna make you mine.

2016: You will be my year whether you want to be or not.

So there.

I will say though...this feeds right in to what I want to say. I started reflecting on the contents of this post the other day when I was reading a friend's blog. A bit of a preamble: Ellen has known me since before I was born - she and her husband lived down the street from my parents, and she was pregnant (with one of my best friends) at the same time as my mom. She's the first adult I ever considered a friend, and one of the kindest people I've ever known.

In the post I was reading the other day she wrote:

Check out her blog for more insightful posts :)
Her post got me thinking. It's a tableau of synchronicity, really. First, it reminded me of the quote on the wall by the pool at my gym:

And then I looked to my right and saw the planner I asked for on my Christmas list. When I opened it on Christmas I'd forgotten which one I'd asked for, but clearly the fates are aligning to send me a very strong message about 2016:

I love this planner and am so excited to fill it with all sorts of fun things!
Now don't get me wrong. I was overwhelmed with optimism for the first few hours of 2016, and then that reality check put me in my place. I think it's easy to see everything through rose-tinted lenses on January 1st - I sure did.

And then I look at the year ahead. The goals. The unknowns. The What-Ifs. Suddenly it's a bit scarier and that optimism seems incredibly naive.

But the whole point of this little mantra I've unwittingly assumed is that the first step to accomplishing something is that you stop for a second and choose to believe you can do it.

The whole point in saying all of that is that yes, I truly believe all of the things I'm listing below will happen for me - that I will accomplish them - because I believe I can. And I expect it.

So here it is...

My 2016 To Do List

Short list:

  1. Fit in Fitness
    • Write out training plans
    • Lift regularly
    • Active Recovery
      • Bikram Yoga
      • Sarah Beth Yoga
    • Hustle Up the Hancock
    • Virtual Races
    • Keep at it with HRC
    • Volunteer at an Ironman
  2. Consume more books
    • Walking Dead
    • Kinsey Millhone novels
    • The Dresden Files
  3. Travel a Bit
    • Berlin
    • Amsterdam
    • Reykjavik (?)
    • Hannah visits!
  4. Move on with things!
  5. and a round up on Work Things
    • Moving systems
    • Moving Offices
    • Commitment
      • PrideZ
      • Wellness Committee
      • And more!

And now the long version.

Fit in Fitness

This is a no brainer. One thing I managed very successfully in 2015 was becoming much more active. That trend will continue in 2016.

I obviously have things to train for. I'm currently trying to decide between a 16 and 20 week Oly training plan (the difference is that the 20 week plan is basically 4 weeks of "conditioning" to get you ready for training 6 days a week for 16 weeks). That means I'll for sure be training by the end of April. (I'm currently working on establishing/writing out all my training plans for 2016 to make sure I can get everything in adequately.)

But before then, I'd like to get into some good habits in other areas. This definitely means that Cam and I need to get back to lifting regularly. It feels as though we've fallen away from it since I was injured, and I truly believe that lifting will be an integral part of helping me achieve all my goals this year, so I'd like to do more of it. I won't make it a secret that I didn't hit my bench press goal for December (90lb 1RM), but we also didn't commit much time to lifting last month, so that's not surprising.

But along with lifting and the gear-up tri-training I've been doing, I've noticed that my flexibility has decreased a bit. I am fairly awful about stretching (definitely part of my tendinitis issue), and I know I need to get better about stretching and active recovery. Fortunately, I have a friend who gave me some two week passes to the yoga studio she goes to, and she herself goes to Bikram ("hot" yoga) every Friday. I'm making it a goal to meet up with her for her class on Fridays, since Friday has always been a rest day for me, and since the studio is on my way home from work.

But yoga one day a week is a bit of a cop-out as far as practicing goes, so I'm going to try harder to integrate some yoga into my every day life. I'm talking 10-15 minutes a day focusing on whatever needs help. Could be neck/shoulder tension, calf/leg tightness - whatever. It's good for me, it's important injury prevention, and I need it. I'm currently working on Sarah Beth Yoga's #7DayYogaChallenge to help get me into a positive pattern.

And in addition to all of that, this week I officially start training for the Hustle Up the Hancock. I've been using the stairs at work much more frequently the last few weeks (since I was given the go-ahead in PT), and the 5 floors up to my floor are easier now. I'm still worried about how my ankle will fare, but I talked to the guy at the office heading up this venture and there's currently no waitlist, so I can forge ahead with training and keep my spot without worrying about someone else not getting in.

I mentioned this in my last post, but I have a backlog of virtual races to complete from 2015. I signed up for the Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) Marauders' Challenge just before I hurt my ankle, so around mid December I received all of the medals. I still haven't completed any of them, so the medals are sitting near my desk waiting to be earned.

The races are:

  • The Patronus 5k
  • The Dementor's Kiss 5k (can we say Valentine's day race?!)
  • The Voldemort V Miler (5 miles)
  • Weasley's Wizarding Wheezer 5k

In addition, I signed up for Swim Bike Mom's Be Brave, Be Thankful 5k (or any distance) which coincided with Thanksgiving. I (obviously) didn't run on Thanksgiving, but I have the medal sitting here waiting to be earned.

I realize I could just hang them up and use my injury as an excuse for not being able to do them. But that's stupid. I feel like I should earn them. So I will!

And along the way...I plan on doing all the HRC races this year too ;)

And addition to all the other "I'd like to" things I've thrown at you this year and as long as all goes well, I'd like to be a volunteer for an Ironman (I figure this kind of fits into the fitness category). After reading Meredith's IM Louisville recap where she wrote about how awesome the volunteers are and how they can just about make or break it for a racer, I really want to volunteer at an Ironman. I think it will be pretty freaking cool, so why not this year?! I haven't picked one yet - it will come down to other plans (keep reading for that) and the PTO I need to take, but I'm working on it!

Consume Books

Not like, physically consume them. I don't do much physical reading nowadays, but I listen to a ton of audio books. In 2015 I made my way through a number of them, including the first eight of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone novels, eleven of the Dresden Files books, and a handful of other books, including Jurassic Park, a novel I've had my eye on for years, and also some YA literature, non-fiction stuff (I read some lifting books), and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

I'd like to continue the trend in 2016 and keep on listening to stuff. I plan on catching up on both the Kinsey and Dresden series (that's a total of 20 books), and I'm working on The Walking Dead: Compendium Three right now!
It was a Christmas gift, and is already giving me nightmares!
And if by some miracle the Winds of Winter comes out this year, I plan on reading that too!

Travel a bit

This one is a big one. Kind of an announcement, if you will. For Christmas I gave Cam a box with two things in it:

1. A really cute airplane ornament:

and 2: Lonely Planet's guide to Amsterdam:

Go ahead and take a second to connect the dots. I'll wait. *twiddles thumbs*

Yeah, it kind of gives itself away. Cam's Christmas/graduation present is a two week trip to Amsterdam. And Berlin. And possibly Reykjavik. And the best part is two-fold: We will be seeing and traveling with his brother, who is currently in New Zealand, and two of our friends are coming along too! Plans are currently in the works as far as dates go (there's a lot to juggle when five people's schedules are in the mix), so stay tuned because it will be an unfolding story.

A little bit of England will be coming to me too...Hannah will be here in June!

Move Out

Yep, I still live at home. Cam has been waiting to finish school and pay off his car before moving out (he still lives at home too) and those two requirements were met within 5 days of each other last month. The current timeline for moving out is sometime mid summer.

It's been great to not have to pay rent and be able to save money, but I am stoked that I will no longer feel like I'm living in two places. It is the one thing I truly despise about my life right now. This is something I've wanted for quite a while, and I'm glad we're firming up some plants to move on with things and move out!

Stay tuned for more on that too!

Work Changes

This post would not be complete if I didn't mention the big changes coming for my company in 2016. Though our third-quarter results were not great, we have a big move ahead of us!

To say nothing of our planned switch from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook (I feel like it's gonna be a total cluster...): 2016 is the year our new building will be complete, so we'll be moving offices. You can see and read about the new building here, if you'd like. Over the last year, a lot of people who've driven down I-90 have later commented to me about the building. It's size, it's design, it's completion status, etc. Yes, it's big. Yes, the design is weird. Weirder still, it took the executive sponsor like 2 weeks to decide on grass for the roof top (I asked him about it).

There have been events at work, clearing out, organizing, replacing equipment, all sorts - all to get ready for this move. I believe we start moving sometime between June and September, but no one seems to know for sure. Everyone knows what the outside will look like, none of us know what the floor plans are going to be. We have an idea of what our cubes will be like, but no one really knows.

I will say this if I say anything: A lot of thought and planning went into this building, and fortunately, a lot of that thought concerned employee happiness and wellness. Standing desks, walking gardens, more stairs and less elevators, open designing...because, hey! It all increases work productivity ;)

Needless to say...the move will probably be crazy. When it happens, I'll roll with it! It's just gonna add one more interesting element to 2016. So look forward to pictures of that in 2016!

I have some other goals for work in 2016 as well. Some are private for now, but as far as volunteering and "Zurich Commitment" go, I plan on narrowing my focus. I have my office lead position with PrideZ to tend to, and would like to get involved in the Wellness Committee as well. I need to inventory the commitments I had in 2015 and choose what I'd like to continue with in 2016, and what to trim. So that's in my thoughts and considerations, and will be a revolving door for evaluation as necessary as 2016 goes on.

So there you have it.

The plans and expectations for 2016, in a long-winded nutshell.

I'm sure about 30% of this will happen as I want it to. But that's what makes life Life - taking what's thrown at you and coming out on top.

Let's do this, 2016.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! A Farewell to 2015...

First and foremost...Happy New Year!

Cam and I had plans to go to Chicago and see a band last night, but they were all blown to the wind when we both wound up a bit under the weather (him way more than I). We rang in the new year playing WiiU, board games with his parents, and seeing the ball drop for the first time in Chicago (I totally didn't fall asleep and need to be woken up or anything).


I never really planned a post to wrap up 2015 - but quite a bit happened, and I thought I should do something to outline it all.

This is largely a list of links back to previous posts. I've tried to organize it a bit so it's not so random...but if you've been reading all year this is just a bit of a recap! (Also...the formatting is totally off with this post and I'm way too lazy to fix it. Sorry!)

This post is just about 2015...I'll get to 2016 in the next one!


I started doing virtual races. I didn't even know this was a thing until 2015! Sure enough, though.

I ran real races!

We hit the gym!

Physical Therapy


I did some charity stuff.


  • I completed two CPCU tests in 2015! Post 1 Post 2
  • Now on to more in 2016!


Cam and I hit two years!

I mourned a friend.

  • First we found out about Kayla being a hostage, and then the US government confirmed her death. The month of Februrary was enveloped with the emotions of that loss, and they resurfaced with additional news in August. I will always remember Kayla and I keep her picture at my desk to remind me every day to be a little more peaceful, a little more loving, and to have hope that we can change the world by treating each other with respect. Be compassionate, always. I will always miss my friend.

We went to Idaho!

  • It was my first trip there, and I loved it.
  • Post 1Post 2Post 3Post 4
  • We probably will not have PTO time or the means (cash, man) to travel to Idaho in 2016, and I'm pretty bummed :(
Pet Stuff

  • Rico and Benjen both had to be put down, and for the same reason: massive tumor development. I still miss them...they were some of the best hamsters ever.
  • Nigel had surgery to remove a blockage and three feet of intestine after he ate something he shouldn't have. Post 1, Post 2
  • Nigel had testing and surgery to remove what turned out to be a non-malignant tumor on his head.
  • Nigel gave me a heart attack from all of that stress.
  • Seriously, pets are expensive sometimes.
  • Aside from being neurotic and afraid of everything, Stewart is doing fine.
  • Both Dresden and Bärtemius joined the family!

The Garden

Wizarding World

  • Though I never blogged about it, my mom and brother and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a dream come true. We left for Florida one year ago today, and I'm a bit nostalgic now...

I turned 28


2015 was a good year. I cannot say it trumps 2014, which was one of the best years of my life. Meeting Cam and starting down our little path together was tough to top, but this year our relationship just grew and grew. I know 2016 will have even more excitement in store for us (no, not that...just wait until the next post!).

Personally, I grew a lot too. I learned what it means to spend weeks months training for something (the half marathon) day in and day out, and I also learned the kind of heartache that comes with not being able to put that training to use. On top of that, I got a taste of the many emotions that come with injury and rehabilitation. I've already posted a bit about goals for 2016, but I'm proud of myself for being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and trusting that I can heal and do those things still. Races and training were very scary to me prior to this year - now they are totally doable.

I am also very proud of my growing ability to manage my work/life balance, my relationships, and all this crazy training. That ability is composite of many skills, and I'm excited for the opportunity to use them to blow 2016 our of the water.

Like I said...lots to discuss in my 2016 post. Just hang tight and we'll get there soon!


And if you'd like to peruse my most popular posts from 2015, you can check them out here:

Swim Bike Fuel: Reflection on 26 Days - my "review" of Swim Bike Fuel...this post has been viewed almost 900 times. Wow. I hope it helped a few of you make a decision about the program!

Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Running Club, and Department of Mysteries 10k - I continue to love the Hogwarts Running Club and cannot wait for the 2016 races!

*My* Half is not happening...and I am pissed. - To update everyone here: American Express got my money back for me a little less than 30 days after I disputed the charges. I stand by what I said at the end of this post: I will be boycotting all Women Rock and Team Ortho organized events in the future. They handled everything with the Women Rock half absolutely terribly.

Thanksgiving again - Apparently you people like pictures of pies...?

Halloween & The Deconstruction of a Beard - This was one of my favorite posts - when we shaved Cam's beard. I still laugh looking through these pictures!

Happy New Year - and my 2016 be a good one for you.