Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to have a Day of Excellence

A couple of weeks ago, my roomie and I decided to create a day encompassing everything we felt necessary in making a day excellent. It seems there’s this notion floating out there, likely released to the world through the media via chick flicks, chick books, and anything doing with chicks, that if a woman wants to make a day truly excellent, it requires  a stack of goopy and clichéd films, buckets of ice cream, and fuzzy pink slippers. Ironic side note; 98% of media execs from all major networks are men. Just sayin… that’s where this “chicks do this” culture comes from. Uh-huh.

Based on this notion, I’ve found myself suggesting to other chicks, “hey… lets put on pink slippers, plunk ourselves in front of the TV, and scarf buckets of Ben and Jerry’s all day! Doesn’t that sound great?!?”

Well actually, no it doesn’t. It never really has. Why have I let this cultural notion of "chick days" destroy my ability to truly have a day of excellence filled with all of those things that make me feel good? Being fat and lazy - does not make me feel good. That is not a good day to me! The days I find most excellent have a few elements that don’t have anything to do with Mr. Ben and certainly not Jerry. The days I find most excellent are usually productive, involve some sort of work out so I can feel good about myself, good food (thus the workout), and good company. But then again I’ve never been a very true to form representation of anything culturally “chick” (as opposed to chique – which clearly ;)) so I may have lost some of you at “it doesn’t include Ben and Jerry.”

For those of you still left, I’d like to present to you a day of excellence contrived and planned (because any excellent day must have a plan) by the roomie and I.


Presented in 6 phases
Phase #1: Rise and Shine
6:00am. We were awake and beginning my first round of BikramYoga. This goes against “chick” culture because with any day of luxury and excellence, it’s assumed you’ll want to sleep in until all hours of the noon-day. Not us. Though there are mornings where my feet feel ensconced in cement shoes, I actually really enjoy mornings. Therefore, to begin the day early was a perfect star to this day of excellence. HENCE - 6am Bikram Yoga follow by a good swim. (aside: have any of you done Bikram Yoga? Okay... so.... okay. I'm the least flexible person you know. I guarantee it. Your dad is more flexible than I am. Your dead great granny (dead or alive) is more flexible than I am. Also, I sweat. I don't glow like a lot of women do (or claim...psh) I full out sweat. Buckets! When I workout. So couple that with my inflexbility and you have quite the pathetic production via Bikram Yoga. Would I do it again? YES! It was GREAT! Despite the fact I looked like I'd jumped in a swimming pool in the end, I did feel a little taller. Hot dog!)

Phase #2: Food Stuffs Part A
After our invigorating morning, we proceeded to ready ourselves and then headed over to the Wild Grape for Brunch by 10:00am. Two reasons why this choice was awesome: 1) I love breakfast food all times of day and 2) I'd never been to the Wild Grape (on South Temple; between E and F street). Hurray for new things! Also, I’m already loving this day simply because I got up, did Yoga and swimming, got showered and ready, and am sitting down to Brunch and it’s only 10:00am! Effective use of time just makes me all giggles inside. I had the Grape's Benedict (placed upon sweet sweet porous fluffed corn bread) and roomie had the Black Forest Omelet. Couple that with some peppermint tea and you have two very fat and happy ladies. Wait! Not fat! We worked OUT! Back pat for me... back pat for roomie.

Phase #3:  The Chickiest Part of our Day - Mani's and Pedi's
Next on our day of excellence was, of course, manicures and pedicures at Mid-City Salon. And if there’s one thing better than mani’s and pedi’s, it’s having a Groupon for said services.  You best believe there was bubble gum pink and sparkly purple involved in this particular venture. I guess we are truly chicks at heart. 

Phase #4:  Matinee
There’s not anything I enjoy more than a matinee. I have always enjoyed going to the movies, but a matinee is something particularly magical. It’s cheaper and it’s in the middle of the day. I feel the matinee symbolizes true balance in life. If you can take time out of the middle of your day once in awhile and just sit for two hours, working through a Junior sized bag of popcorn and soda, and be entertained, I consider your life a success.  Yep. That’s all it takes.  And might I emphasis the JUNIOR size bags of popcorn. America is obese and I for one, blame our exorbitant portion sizes (and individual choice but that's another blog post for another day... a rant type of day). In fact, I find the term “portion size” a bit of an oxymoron in the US of A because the troughs people snarf through morning noon and night is anything but portioned. This goes for the tubs of popcorn and vats of soda sold for 50 gold dabloons and your daughters virginity at movie theaters. However, the Junior size of soda and popcorn, likely meant for toothless babes with a bright futures as a 9 year olds with Type 2 diabetes, suits me perfectly. I’d go so far as to say… it’s portioned. Wha?!?!?

Matinee… we saw Chronicle and I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t heard much about the film or because I had no expectations OR because I had mentally prepared myself for some painful endeavor like The Vow, or all of the above, but I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Go to.

Phase #5:  House Cleaning and Food Stuffs Part B
After the matinees, roomie and I went home and cleaned our house in preparation for a ladies dinner we were preparing for that night. Going out to eat is probably one of my favorite things to do; and it’s not just about the food. It’s enjoying the company of friends among other people who are also enjoying the company of friends over great food and conversation. But as much as I like going out, I like cooking dinner for company even more. And I say company because that’s what old(er) people call it when other people are coming, “we’ve got company coming”, and thus I’d like to keep the term alive. Honey, get dressed, we have company coming. Dearest, please don't use the term "douschery" in front of our company. 

When our ladies arrived for our ladies dinner for ladies (in the non-ladies of the night sense… erp), we had displayed for them a food setting of epic proportions!

Let’s just say, we don’t do things half-assed.  Ever.

Phase #6: The Cool Down
After stuffing ourselves silly, we proceeded to pour more beverage, light a fire in the fireplace (where else?), and watch one of my all time favorite chick flicks, all be it favorite movies ever: Return to Me.  What better way to end such an excellent day of excellence, nay, indulgence and frivolity! than with 110 minutes of David Duchovny. I ask you!

That night, tucking ourselves in at a reasonable 11:00pm, roomie and I congratulated ourselves on a day well planned and well executed. In fact, we vowed that we should plan such a day at least once a month simply because we enjoyed ourselves so thoroughly in every way. This day, for me, was a recipe for success from start to finish. We did everything in a day that I find not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also productive and efficient. Two things I highly value in my excellent days.

How about you? What does your day of excellent look like? And if you say pink slippers, a stack of chick flicks, and Ben and Jerry’s, I won’t judge you. Truly. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taking the Plunge... then the bike... then the run

Well I did it! I said I would and I did. So that in an of itself is cause to celebrate. So in addition to the applause for my follow-through, I signed up for the San Rafael Sprint Triathlon. Below I have illustrated the process I went through to finally commit to this goal. You may have to use your imagination a little bit and for that I apologize. I know we're not used to having to employ our own creative devices to stories that could easily be turned into a big screen, special-effected, blockbuster. Thus, I ask you to bear with me.

Or cat with me...

For I am the cat in this scenario.

That's a pretty decent representation of the face I made. Slightly freaked out though pleased with myself.

Then as it inevitably does, reality started to set in this week. I run. I mean, I run for exercise and have done some small races and one big race (Wasatch Back Relay) and generally feel more than comfortable facing a 5k as part of the Sprint Triathlon. In fact, I even glanced at the Olympic Triathlon simply because I run a 5K every time I go to the gym. I wanted to push myself and a 10K seemed more to the task. Then, of course, there's the biking which I also feel very equipped to handle. I've biked significant distances and don't feel the biking, with a little greasing of the old joints and a new road bike vs. my heavy mountain bike, would be a big barrier for me. I could easily truck out 15 miles. Again, considering the Olympic distance of 30 miles, I thought hmmmm - I bet I could do that - even with the promise of a 10k promptly following - I bet I could do it. Perhaps I should push myself and just plunge into the full out Olympic Triathlon! I HAVE SUPER POWERS! I COMMAND THE UNIVERSE! BOW TO ME ELEMENTS!!!

It's the swim, folks. It's the swim that crushed my delusions of grandure. Naturally I took swimming lessons for several years, but now as I look back... they were more like "not drowning" lessons and I'm happy to say, I've not ever drowned! I think that flawless record can speak for itself. Well... I THOUGHT it could speak for itself. The sprint distance is a 1/2 mile swim. As I measure distances purely in football fields and track laps, I thought, "Oh yeah, I could swim two laps around a track. Hell! I could swim freaking 4 track laps!" So this week my roomie, an avid Triathlon participant, introduced me to swimming... as in not the opposite of drowning. 

The below illustration indicates my experience... after swimming.... oh... 200 yards (like... barely 1 lap... with vast breaks in between... in a calm, serene pool).

THUS, I exercised my common sense and signed up for the Sprint Triathlon after being significantly humbled by my swimming experience. I will tell you, I look like a legitimate swimmer with my TYR swim suit, goggles, and cap. Next on the list, fins. For the love of all that is holy FINS! I went again last night... and lets just say... its a good thing the Triathlon is in July. There are 3 lanes at my gym swim hole and naturally, there was some punk-ass hot shot swimmer next to me lapping me like he was Michael Phelps swimming for his 10th gold medal! Loser. But I will do it! So help me, the swim will not  hold me back from being a Sprint Triathlete come July! I am also very happy that this Triathlon is in my hometown because you best believe I will be going down there in June and practicing in THEE official lake. It's all about connections.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Now that there's no dog, I'm scared of everything

Yeeeeeah. There's no dog. And by no I mean gone and by dog I mean Zooey. What??! Well, she wasn't ever MY dog, was she? I was merely a steward of an animal that wasn't mine in any way. Sure, she had bits of my heart, but that's the extent of my dog investment. That and the tears I shed as she merrily jumped into the car of her new owners.

That said...

Zooey is gone but she's in a much better place... and I'm not alluding to doggy heaven because that would be sick. I'm alluding to a nice couple with a big house with a big yard that houses another dog as well as the knowledge that one half of this couple happens to have extensive pet care experience via PetSmart. We've also been told that at least one half of this couple is around all day. I'm positive this combination is exactly what Zooey needs. I'm positive she jumped in that Corolla and never looked back. We, on the other hand, may take a week or two.

However, THAT'S not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to point out how I live in a very old house on the borders of a sketchy neighborhood and now instead of blaming the weird noises coming from the back of the house on the dog, I have to accept it may be the robbing/creeper/raper/murdering/zombie/disgruntled ghost I always imagined might enjoy a very old house with very creaky floors.

Perhaps a heavy footed cat is in order.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Lazy Period is at an End

When I finished my MA degree in August, I vowed that the first thing I would do was nothing. And I am happy to say – that’s exactly what I’ve been doing ever since. Now don’t get me wrong. I still went to work, worked out sometimes, ate food, and slept. I also watched Season’s 1-7 of the X-Files (seasons 8-9 are crap), read a few books, meandered around the house, went to some movies, and enjoyed the holidays. Anytime I started to feel like I should do something more; develop a talent or find a hobby, the little withered school imp in the back of my head would rasp “noooo…. Laaaaazy period…. Stiiillll… more Mulder…” It honestly didn’t take much coaxing to extend my lazy period through the end of the year.

But the end of the year has come and gone and it’s time I started being useful again. Don’t worry; it’s not like I’m begrudgingly dragging my sorry arse off the couch to finally accomplish something like laundry or organizing my shoes. It’s because I’ve rested the good rest and now want to contribute in a more meaningful way to life. It’s important to contribute. I think a lot of things can count as “contributing” so long as it doesn’t involve long periods of inactivity, slumping, and starting season 1-7 of the X-Files over again. Which I’m not. Just so you know. I'm a Downton Abbey girl now! Oh snap.

I also noticed throughout my lazy period that I finally had the ability and brain capacity to consider doing things, and even some stuff. During the undergrad, I was poor and busy. Between undergrad and grad school, I was poor and drifting. During grad school I wasn’t AS poor but way more busy. What I’m saying is, the brain power and emotional contributions of expanding outside the realm of papers and bills was all I’ve been ensconced with for the past 10 years of my life. Dash some personal distractions and barriers in there and focusing on anything else but keeping my head above water seemed ludicrous. It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You can’t focus on the next level until you’ve achieved the one below it. Picture!

I’d say in those ten years I had vacillated between safety needs and social needs... heck... sometimes between physiological needs (I was a squatter there for awhile) and safety needs. I’d like now to move on and vacillate between social needs and esteem. Not that I have low self-esteem. I think I’m hilarious and consistently  adequate to awesome. I think that’s intended to be more broadly termed; say, self improvement and progression rather than “I like myself”. Being confident in your ability to press forward and to accomplish worthy goals is more to the point in my mind. Eh? EH?!

Better Picture!!

SO!! All of those darker, busier, emtionalier (erp) things behind me… regular adult job securely in hand… I am ready to end the lazy period and start using my brain for things that I want to do because I want to do them. I’m ready for the next level!

Here’s how it’s to be done. Now listen, these are baby steps. Much like my resolutions were on lack luster side of ambitious, I must ease into this new level on my way to self-actualization if I am to not feel overwhelmed and drop into one of those lower levels again. What I’m saying is, I never over-achieve, rather, regularly achieve. I’m okay with this.

Everyone has the “thing” that they do. Ya know? There are the crafty ones, the creative ones, the cooking ones, the jump roping ones, etc.  I tried to think of the activities that I truly enjoy and would like to become better at and the most obvious one was physical health. I like to eat well, work out, and enjoy playing sports and sweating. Therefore, as part one to the end of the Lazy Period I am not only going to continue my workout regime – but increase upon it towards a goal. What is that goal?

Half Marathon.

No really. REALLY! I have the time, the energy, and the mental capacity to wrap my head around a half marathon so I’m going to do it. I’ve considered the Salt Lake Half and I know that’s probably something that needs to be decided on sooner rather than later. Here’s my issue with the Salt Lake Half. It’s in April. Which is soon. And not that I don’t have time to train, because I do, but I LOATHE running in the inversion and the cold. LOATHE it I tell you! However, in training for the SLC half running outside in the cold and yuck is inevitable. So there’s that. THUS, I’m looking for a half that’s later in the summer. I’ve considered the Timpanogos Half as it’s in July. I've also heard good things about Bryce Canyon Half.  I need to do more research, but if any of you runners out there know of a good half for a beginning half-marathoner that falls between June-October… holla at yer gurl. Haaaay.

I’d also like to attempt a sprint Triathlon.

My roommate also happens to be Wonder Woman (right?) and does Triathlons. Well, there’s a Triathlon being held in ye olde Emery County (my origins) and I’d like to give it a whirl. I can run. I can bike. I…. need to work on the swim. I know how to swim… I just don’t know how to breath properly nor have I ever done swimming for exercise/set distances. SO! Luckily having Wonder Woman as my roomie, I’ve coerced her into teaching me how to swim properly. Then! THEN! I shall sign up for the San Rafael sprint Triathlon! Go me! GO!

Next, I have decided not to eat like a disgusting person anymore. Mainly, I have a capacity for cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and all things chocolate that is likely responsible for the constant layer of chub spread over my belly. No good. Therefore, not only have I set a goal to kick refined sugar to the curb, the roomie and I (Wonder Woman… still) took our jiggly arses to Costco this week and stalked up on all type of produce and deliciousness. But it does not stop there. We then proceeded to plan out our meals this entire week. Here we are at Thursday and I am VERY pleased to announce, we’ve stuck with our food plans quite well. However, as the weekend approaches with its promise of social gatherings that involve all things evil and delicious, I must screw my courage to the sticking place and press forth! It will take stamina! It will take heart! The weekend will NOT destroy MY attempts at thwarting what I’ve now dubbed the “Andrea Fatty Girl” phase. Bring. It. On!

The last bit of ending of the lazy period attempts I’d like to share with you involves crafts. Wait, WHAT?!?! We’ve already talked about this. I’ve never been one to craft and for years I figured it was because the thought of spending hours to make or modify something when I could go to the store and buy it seemed irrational and downright ridiculous. Turns out, that wasn’t it at all. It was because I didn’t have the creative energy to spare on that delicate all be it self-satisfying hobby known as crafting. Who knew it gave one such a sense of pride? Accomplishment! Nay, self-aggrandizement! WHO KNEW! All you crafters out there knew. Psh. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

Thus in honor of “the craft” I present to YOU! Mittens.

First, you'll want to find an old sweater of your own and/or find one at  the DI. I found this one at the DI.
You should then outline the mitten, making it about 2 inches "bigger" than you might otherwise think. That way, if you mess up it's easy to fix; i.e. make smaller.

I recommend sewing the mittens before cutting them out. It makes the whole process easier and less risky. Sew around your outline, then cut them out. Turn them inside out and VOILA! Easy as pie. I added the buttons from the sweater onto the mittens on my own. I must say, I'm rather proud of myself.

You will also notice I’ve taken pictures of something I’ve done. What the?! Who am I? A picture taker now? Right? RIGHT?!?! Finally ending my lazy period turns out to be one of the better decisions I’ve ever made. Suddenly, I’m a crafter who wants to run Triathlons and take pictures of crap! I have a feeling, this transformation is only just the beginning. Stay. Tuned. I will be self-actualized before you know it!