Monday, July 25, 2016

The Couch to 5K Finish Line!

If there's one thing I wish I'd done on this Couch to 5K journey, it's keep a journal. I ran my last program run this morning...30 minutes in the pre-dawn. I was stoked for this run because it's the last official one. Is it my last run? Ha! No. Not at all. Now I'm on to improving my 5K, and there's a lot of improvement left to do.

While the program is built to last nine weeks, I stretched it out to 16. I can think over the months and remember the trends in my abilities and moods, but I wish I still had the specifics. One thing is for sure...this has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life.

I wanted this morning's run to be great. Maybe set a new pace record or really crush it. In truth, it was a damn hard run. I didn't sleep well last night, and I started a strength training regimen yesterday that left my legs tired and spent.

But I did it anyway, even though it was hard, I was tired, and I didn't want to get out of bed at 5 a.m. I missed my goal pace by a minute, but it was a hard run, and it's OK. You have to get through the sucky ones to get to the really good ones. And when did I ever think I'd be able to run 30 minutes straight? When I was in high school that was out of the question for me. Now, at 35, I'm game.

Running has given me some key things.

  • Confidence. Doing new things and doing them well takes a lot of time, devotion, and perseverance. Sometimes the improvements are only incremental, but they are valuable and worthwhile all the same. I've done this, and I can do much more. 
  • Courage. I've been courageous in some ways...when it comes to pushing through the hard stuff for my family, for instance. I haven't been very courageous about trying new things. The fear of looking silly or failing gets in the way. Running has drastically lessened my fear of embarrassment and...let's face it...pain. 
  • Control. A greater handle on my health, the ability to make wiser food choices, decreased anxiety, and the mental strength to push myself toward the next goal. 
I'm just so happy. I'm so, so proud, and I'm not afraid to say that out loud. I'M SO PROUD! I can run. 


There's no way you could possibly know how much your kind words of encouragement here--on Twitter, Instagram, via email, all over--have kept me going. Thank you, thank you. It's still a long road ahead, but I'm excited for it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Currently \\ Reading and Doing

Right This Minute | David and I just caught up on some house cleaning. We've been following Apartment Therapy's How to Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days. This little project started when I decided I wanted to check out zone cleaning, and Kelly sent me the link. We have a habit of letting most of our cleaning (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc.) wait until the weekend, which actually leaves a lot of random, deeper cleaning tasks out in the cold. I'll probably do a whole post on this because I find the mundane details of home life fascinating. I love knowing how other people handle this stuff, so let me know if that's something that weirdly interests you too.

Feeling | Good! Friday I spent all day at a very swanky mall in Dallas with girlfriends. I hadn't seen them in quite a while--we worked together at my old job--so it was fun to hang out all day, eat sushi, and enjoy happy hour. I was fairly exhausted yesterday, so it was a sluggish Saturday of not doing anything really.

Reading | YES! Big news, eh? I'm finally reading The Fireman by Joe Hill for #Firemanalong. I was waiting on my library copy, and it took forever to arrive. I quickly knocked off 50 pages of it on Thursday, so I'll probably try to dive back into it tonight.

I'm also getting into Toil and Trouble, a series of six comics by Mairghread Scott and Kelly and Nichole Matthews. It's a re-imagining of Macbeth with some seriously badass witches at the helm.

Finally, I'm listening to Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I started this on my Wednesday night work commute this past week, and it's love! Jahren's writing is so eloquent, and her voice is so soothing. I love the way she explains her science in layman's terms. Looking forward to listening more this week while I'm working out and driving.

Listening | Besides Lab Girl, I'm into podcasts, always. This past week was an especially good episode of Lore titled "The Mountain" about explorers and their sometimes-tragic ends. I don't recommend listening when you're out running before dawn. In a part of town with iffy streetlights.

Watching | I've been getting caught up on some BookTube viewing, but besides that, mostly watching Chopped during meals.

Loving | My new Lush purchases! I grabbed a Rose Jam scented "bubbleroon"--a bubble bar that looks like a cute, sparkly, pink macaron.

Hating | Shootings. I don't even have the energy to go into it today.

Eating | Veggies! While I haven't been as consistent as I'd like, I am making a concerted effort to make sure about 3/4 of my food is veggies and fruit. Having that ratio in mind really helps me, and so does summer produce from our neighbors. This week I'm going to make these lentil-stuffed zucchini boats. 

Anticipating | My next trip to the pool. So hot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When I Say Nothing At All: Cancer, Intention, Voice

I'm reading the first book I've read in a long time. It's the first book that has reached inside and grabbed me by the heartstrings in even longer. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice, by Terry Tempest Williams, is a book about just that. Finding one's voice. Or choosing silence as that is also powerful. Williams' mother, part of a large Mormon family and bound by her culture to journal, leaves her daughter shelves of empty pages. Williams' book is about figuring out why, mulling over the blankness her mother left, and using her own voice. Also, the inherent meaning in speaking or not. This is a book of perspective. A book that demands attention. That unfolds in fifty-four chapters...vignettes built on the author's life, of figuring things out over time.

I was having a small existential crisis on Twitter this morning before I remembered I had a hematology appointment and had things to do today other than sit at my computer and navel-gaze. I ran out the door, was only 10 minutes late (a victory), and I left my phone in my purse in favor of reading and thinking in the quiet. The appointment ended with finding out that six months after the fact...after a transfusion and 17 iron infusions...I am still healthy. I've found a way to control my anemia. It's also the same office where one of my best friends is doing her chemotherapy treatments.

So much to do and think.

Tonight I have my second class of the summer term, so I'm planning for that. I'm going over last term's class notes, reviewing the university's pre-built lecture material, and printing off copies of  "Learning to Read" by Malcolm X for our discussion. I'm also emailing a student--a Dallas police officer--who lost close friends in last week's shootings. This week he will miss class for funerals.

There are bigger problems than my navel. There are also bigger victories. Like my son inching steadily toward his summer reading goal, working hard to make gains before first grade starts. It's a partnership and understanding we have that we will do this thing together. It's our first real conversation about trying your best...about working harder than you think you can. He's three hours away from a pool party and BBQ to celebrate. We will do this.

Tweeted by Nnedi Okorafor.  
The world has always had a way of handing me the right lesson, the right comfort, the right demands, at the right time. When Women Were Birds issues a challenge that echoes the one issued by Williams' mother: what is your voice? Will you speak or be silent? What is a woman's voice?

I'm not sure what I have to say just now. A lot and nothing. I'm trying to be kind to myself and ride this out for a while to see what's at the center of this feeling. I do know I want to write more and write less. That is, for the things I post here or elsewhere to be substantive, to serve a purpose, not to be thrown away.

I've issued the call, so now I have to answer it myself. I want to use my voice more strategically. I want to do more.

Image credit.
Right now, for instance, I'm fundraising for St. Baldrick's Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds childhood cancer research. In truth, the donation is already large and quite a surprise. I commented on one of Amanda's Facebook posts that I wanted to shave my head for charity--she did it four years ago--and the opportunity for a large donation presented itself...right then and there. Suddenly, in five minutes, I was planning to build on this large donation, and the end goal will be a hair-free me.

It's a small price to pay to be able to funnel $1,200-$1,500 to St. Baldrick's...such a very worthy organization. I haven't talked about it on my blog because it hasn't felt just right, but like I mentioned up above, one of my best and most respective friends is doing treatment for breast cancer. We've been to some doctor visits together, a chemo treatment. We've had a lot of long lunches and good talks. I am truly blessed to be on her team and to see her strength. We're excited to be hair-free together. There will be pictures and video.

While $1,200 is amazing and already delivered to St. Baldrick's, I don't want to stop before August 2, the day I'll shave my head. If you or someone you love has been touched by cancer, please take the time to give a dollar, two, maybe five or ten? I know what it means to be financially's just a side effect of leaving my job...but I gave a little of my own, and I'm humbled to speak for this cause and give what I can.

It's all about voice. The things we speak and the things we leave in silence. Rather than worrying about this blog and myself as a blogger one more second, rather than contemplating shouldas or couldas or expectations or best practices, I'm just letting it be. I'm attending to the people I and online. There will be plenty of words. Heartfelt, always. But there will be silences, and there is meaning and the utmost priority in those, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer Favorites: Outdoors, Makeup, and Stuff

I need a fun post; how about you? Here are a few things I'm loving right now because...summer.

Since we've taken up kayaking, David and I are both using the No Limits Waterproof Phone Cases we bought from Academy. I had my doubts about these actually being waterproof, but they really work. There are several levels of "locking" mechanisms to keep the water out, and you can still use your touch screen and take pictures through the case. Best part? They were only $6.99.

I am in looooove with my Lane Bryant Livi Active Molded Underwire Sport Bras! You'll have to follow the link to those because, as it turns out, I'm not a very good bra photographer. I have two of these, and they are life changing. I've actually abandoned my regular bras for these because they're so comfy, and I don't mind the edges peeking out from under summer tanks. They look a little pricy at $44ish a pop, but for a really quality sport bra with lots of control, that's pretty average. If you're still not sold, Lane Bryant has regular buy one, get one 1/2 off sales and significant coupons. I managed to get two of these, three pairs of workout pants, and two workout tops for the cost of one bra with a sale plus a $25 off $75 coupon a while back. 

I'm all about skincare, and I have extremely dry skin, so even summer is about staying hydrated for me. After I've showered and washed my face after my workout in the mornings, I like to cleanse with my Clean and Clear face wash for sensitive skin, and a couple of times a week I'll slather on the Peter Thomas Roth Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask. This is a really light, clear-on-the-face gel formula that feels fresh and cooling. It only stays on for five minutes or so and then give it a rinse. It makes my skin feel so good.

I got this mask in a Sephora Favorites Quench Your Skin set (no longer available but they usually have similar sets online), and while I haven't decided if I'll purchase a full size, I did look it up and it costs $52 for 5oz. That really is a fairly spectacular deal since a little of this product goes a long way. I'm pretty sure it would take the better part of a year or more of regular use to use a full 5oz.

I don't wear makeup nearly as much as I used to because I don't leave the house as often since I work from home. I still love makeup, for sure, but I don't feel compelled to put it on every day when I'm hanging out at home. However, I do wear makeup most nights that I teach, and I have a new favorite foundation combination.

I like my It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ cream with SPF 50, but it's a touch too light for me right now. I've been mixing a half pump with a half pump of the Too Faced Born This Way foundation in the "nude" shade on the back of my hand. I dot it onto my face and blend it in with a damp sponge, and it gives the most gorgeous, natural medium coverage. It looks really healthy and fresh for summer. No cakey heaviness here.

When I first started using Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, which seems to be a beauty fave on YouTube, I really didn't get the hype, but this summer has turned my opinion around. This is a plain lip balm with SPF 15, and the $24 price tag is steep for a lip balm (note: I'm using a sample tube that came with a Sephora order). Why do I enjoy it now? It has good staying power, I love the citrus scent, and it doesn't put a taste of sunscreen in my mouth. It has really come in handy while spending time outside in the blistering Texas heat. My lips would stay chapped, parched, and flaky without this stuff. I've also tried thRosé version which is lightly tinted and like it, too.

Images by Freepik