The Future is Female: In Memory of Phyllis and Ruby

I had spent the previous evening in Seattle at the bedside of a woman who had worked tirelessly to provide for her family. As the monitors showed her vital signs declining, her children gathered close by. The moment the monitor signaled her departure, I could feel my husband gasp and hold his breath for what felt like an eternity.

I came home from class on Monday to the news that another woman I knew had passed away. She had been battling the same demons I had. As with all friends I lose, I immediately think if there was anything I could’ve done to prevent what had happened. The grief ripples through our mutual groups of friends.

In our final communications, between myself and Phyllis and myself and Ruby, we’ve all shared a bit of ourselves. Phyllis and I spoke about our last moments – not quite sure how we came to that topic, but nonetheless we did. I had said that if I were to pass away that day, that I would have been satisfied with how I lived my life. Later that evening I was put in a life/death situation (if you read my blog or know me, I was almost hit by a car that evening in Seattle). She reached out to me the next day. With Ruby, we emailed back and forth a bit. I penned an article for her blog on PTSD and depression, but I feel that I wrote it more for her than anyone else. We exchanged more emails and messages on occasion before I heard the news from my friend on Monday evening.

I posit that the future is female, not only because of the political climate but in the fact that women have had to fight an unfair fight their entire lives: having to put on brave faces; working 150% harder than anyone else to be shown the same consideration; dealing with unfair scrutiny and bias. Phyllis and Ruby in particular embodied genuine strength in their silent determination and perseverance.

Returning from Seattle on Monday evening, I sat in a WeWork conference room in LoHi as I watched my design students present their final projects. It was nine weeks in the making. Out of the 11 students, 10 of them were female. 90% of them were spending their evenings and weekends advancing their careers. These women too were persevering throughout all odds…working against a system that was’t built for them, breaking into a male-dominated field, and so forth.

I could only hope that I had done my duty and channeled my inner Phyllis/Ruby to help them along their journey.

Phyllis Hulslander
Ruby Pipes

 

When the unthinkable happens

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived with the motto memento mori etched at the back of my head where it meets my neck. I traced the letters from Andy Warhol’s various illustrations — someone who was rebellious and poked fun at conventional living. The placement of my tattoo is particularly symbolic in that this idea is something that I keep in the back of my mind every day.

Memento mori and Andy Warhol come together in an interesting way. Memento mori is a statement that literally translates to “remember that you have to die,” which is a phrase that helps one reflect on personal mortality and what it means in regards to vanity, earthly life, and the transient nature of the people and things that surround us. One of my favorite quotes by Andy Warhol is, “Sometimes the little times you don’t think are anything while they’re happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life.” These two elements came together in a natural way for me, and as the idea hit me, I ditched class to work on the design of the tattoo during the daytime and had it etched into my skin later that evening.

On Saturday, one of my esteemed colleagues lost his life on a major Seattle freeway to a young 20 year old man who decided that his phone was more important than anyone else’s safety or life. Granted, maybe he was getting a very important message or call, or perhaps he had just learned some very bad news and was distracted. It is worthless to speculate the what-could-have-beens, but regardless of that young man’s circumstances, he should’ve prioritized life over whatever communications were coming his way.

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As a human being in general, we have a certain amount of responsibilities to ourselves and other people to not put them in harms way. I give this young man the benefit of the doubt that whatever he was distracted by was important enough to him that he needed to take his eyes off the road. Given the outcome, I hope that he would’ve done things differently.

Not a lot of good can come from someone’s death in such a tragic way. However, I hope this lesson reverberates with this particular young man, his family, and his extended circle of friends. I hope that this is a lesson that others will learn from, so that my friend’s death was not in vain.

With regards to Sohel Ahuja, I met him in 2012 when I first considered moving to Seattle to work at Amazon. During my interview, he grilled me on how I would work on improving the team’s current product suite. When I was eventually hired, Sohel helped me feel at home, often swinging by my desk to reminisce about In-N-Out and the now-defunct Chano’s Mexican Food joint right outside of USC. Over happy hour, he oftentimes recounted the story of how he and his wife met. I’ve probably heard that story a dozen times. Every time he told that story, it was as if he was falling in love with her all over again. He also had a penchant for appletinis (of which the team relentlessly made fun of him) and whirlyball (something that became an annual team tradition).

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On a small design project, he and I tag-teamed on a few different tasks as our other engineers were busy launching another product. He was earnestly learning from our senior managers what it meant to truly lead a team. Learning as you go, you make a lot of mistakes, but then again, who’s perfect anyways? His efforts did not go unnoticed because no matter what he worked on, he never half-assed anything. Even if he weren’t 100% perfect at what he did, he gave 100% of himself to it. That was the Sohel I knew first-hand.

In early 2014, I had made the difficult decision to transition to another team at Amazon. Sohel took some time out of his insane work schedule to write out an 8-point bullet list that outlined all the reasons why I should stay. The first four were about my career as a designer and how I was a valued person on my team. The last four were, “5. The team really likes you. 6. Steve really likes you. 7. Katie really likes you. 8. I really like you.” I still ended up transferring out but would run into him every once in awhile around South Lake Union. We would quickly exchange pleasantries but dash off to another meeting. Such is life at Amazon.

Sohel played a supporting role during a huge phase of my life. He and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things, and eventually my focus (and reporting structure) was moved over to other people and projects. However, it is was the little ways in which he participated during this phase of my life that stays with me. He left us in the most tragic of ways, but I’ll try to remember the ways in which he genuinely tried to make someone feel like a part of the family.

Rewarding Good Behavior

I might be a very strange female, but I loathe shopping. I hate the process of having to fight for parking, deal with traffic, deal with salespeople…but there’s one thing I will never hate shopping for and that is training gear!

As a form of self congratulations for a job well done on my self-paced olympic triathlon the other day, I’ve decided to begin the process of stocking up on my winter running garb. That’s right, I went shopping! I think I did quite well, given that there were definitely a few needs on my list:

My Splurge – Winter Running Essentials

1) Replacement running shoes (Brooks Vapor, my current go-to shoes)
2) New waterproof running shoes (Brooks Ghost GTX, trying them for the first time)
3) An iPhone Boost Case, so that I don’t lose battery power while tracking my runs >13+ miles
4) Replacement 24-pack of GU gels
5) 2 long sleeved running shirts (Nike Dri-Fit)
6) 1 long sleeved running base layer (Asics)
7) 6 pairs of replacement Saucony running socks (I’ve been using the same 6 pairs for a year and a half now…)
8) A Nike tee, for funsies

Chances are, I’ll be able to use a lot of these pieces for work too…hooray for layering in a casual office environment!

Also, a few weeks ago, I bought myself a little something to remind me of the journeys I’ve taken — once in Athens, Greece, and once in my hometown, Los Angeles. It will also be a journey I will be taking in a few months, again for Dress for Success.

My 26.2

It is the momentary splurges like these that reminds me how important it is to reward your own effort. The journey itself is the reward, but it never helps to have some swag to go along with it!

What type of things do you get for yourself when you reach a goal?

I Need A Change In Perspective

So I just wrapped up an 11-miler and, to be honest, I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps.

A week or so ago I registered for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Las Vegas. I registered for the full marathon knowing well that there was a 4:30 time limit and as much as I want to make that cut-off, I probably won’t be able to.

I’m not being a naysayer, but after today’s 11-miler and doing a quick review of all of my lifetime long runs (greater than 10 miles), I’d have to say that I’m completely underprepared to keep a 10:30 min/mile pace. For some runners that’s slow. For me, I’m afraid, that’s a bit out of my league. Especially if I have to keep up that pace for all 26 miles.

My fastest pace was during the Rock ‘n Roll LA Half Marathon last year — a whopping 10:37 pace. Even that would be too slow for me to complete the Vegas Marathon with the cutoff.

Some people are born with the biomechanics to run fast. Others, like me, have to work at it. I find myself at the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to physical/brute ability. What I have going for me is mental strength, willpower, and stubbornness.

I guess with the more running you do, you get faster. It’s only natural. I’ve only been running for a little over a year and I can’t really expect to be as fast as the people who have dedicated most of their lives to the sport. We all have to put in our time. Same goes with swimming and biking. I haven’t logged nearly enough double-digit runs to be able to demand such a pace for my body.

In addition to the faux pressure of the RnRLV, there’s also the looming 140.6. You know, that someday goal that my blog is titled after.

An Ironman also has time cutoffs – the swim, bike, and run have to be completed within certain timeframes in order for you to finish by the 17th hour. If I maxed out on my swim and bike time, that’d only leave me with 4 hours or so to finish the last portion of it (the marathon). A 4-hour marathon?! I can’t even begin to think of how I could achieve that. A 4-hour marathon also pales in comparison to a 17-hour Ironman. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but let’s be honest here…From a realistic standpoint, I should probably downgrade to the RnR Las Vegas half marathon (the same race I ran last year), find another marathon to run in 2013, and either work really hard next year to put the appropriate time in to training for an Ironman/ultra-distance triathlon before deciding which race — if any — to run.

Come to think of it, I might be better suited to just doing the 140.6 miles on my own (well, with friends/family support) rather than doing an actual paid race. That’d be kind of fun. Recruit a swimmer friend to do 2.4 miles with me in the pool. Find someone (or a couple of someones) who want to go on a 112 mile bike ride. Then find a few runners who want to split a 26.2. It’ll be like a friends and family relay, except they will be relaying and I will be doing the whole distance.

The distance alone feels insurmountable, but the time cutoff makes it feel impossible. (I’m still talking about the 140.6 here) So yes, maybe I’m thinking way too far ahead and setting my expectations so high has caused me to feel some disappointment.

Anyways, as for my long run today, I spent it exploring the Burke Gilman trail nearby. It’s quite a lengthy trail that is well paved and maintained. Pedestrians and bikers share it so I try to keep as far right as possible so I don’t get in the way. I started the run with a lot of pain in my right leg — my right calf had a knot, my hip flexors were in quite a bit of pain, and I have some lingering soreness about halfway down my mid/inner thigh. I think it might’ve been from my recent bike training session…maybe the bike is not as good as a fit (something I’ve long suspected) or maybe poor posture but it hurts a lot. It was hurting a bit on the run and I stopped to stretch and massage it a little. I tried not to look at my pace too much and tried to just focus on the experience but for some reason, a lot of negativity just kept flowing through my head. I couldn’t get into a rhythm or focus on anything and felt like I was all over the place. I came back home glad that I had finished but in a pretty dumpy mood nonetheless. To top it off I had no food at home, so after I showered and soaked I was starving and cranky. I ended up driving to the market to pick up some ready-made goodies and chowed down when I got home. Right now I’m just blogging and icing…icing with some frozen salmon. I wish I had an ice pack or at least a bag of frozen veggies but I guess frozen salmon will do.

Any tips on rejiggering my perspective would be greatly appreciated.

Getting Settled In, New Training Plan, First Week

So after being on the road quite a bit, I finally made it to my home destination, Seattle!

I live in an area called Eastlake…it’s the eastern side of Lake Union. My office is in South Lake Union, which is only a mile walk. 1.2 miles to be exact. Right now I have to lug around two laptops so I sometimes take the bus since my backpack is so heavy. I appreciate being able to log extra miles in my RunKeeper but they sure come at a price!

Prior to leaving LA and going on vacation in Las Vegas for a week, I was on a slight green smoothie kick for about a week or so. On vacation I didn’t do much damage either. I didn’t exercise much outside of walking around the Vegas strip and making rounds at the buffets. (We only went to a few…that’s pretty good for a seven day trip, okay?)

I also made a complete rookie move…I moved in to my apartment half a day before I started my new job. Total rookie mistake. One week later I feel a bit more settled in. I’ve gotten some running in (made it 25% to my 100 mile goal!), kept up with my half marathon class, managed to do well at work, and unpacked most of my boxes. I have a tendency to take on too much at once, so I’m really trying to scale back right now. Instead of jumping straight into marathon or triathlon training, I decided that just running and some weight training was going to cut it for now. I’d like to focus more on my eating habits, too.

This week I’m introducing some circuit training back into my routine. I signed up for a boot camp class on Groupon (it was only $20 for 20 sessions) and I report in three times a week between 6:30am and 7am. That’ll sure whip my butt into shape! Or at least I hope. It’s so early that I don’t really have the whole I’ll-be-late-to-work crutch that most people pull. I guess the only way to sabotage my efforts would be to stay too late in the office in the evenings.

On the nutrition front…aside from the pain of having gobbled down a cheese quesadilla on Friday and packing pasta three of the five days last week for lunch, I think this coming week will be much better. I did all of my shopping beforehand and I have tons of good food ready for the week ahead: mean green juice ingredients (kale, spinach, cucumbers, apples, ginger, lemon, celery), salmon, salad ingredients, cereal, soy milk, eggs. I’m trying to keep my kitchen as “clean” as possible. Aside from the pasta that I can’t/won’t throw away I don’t have any rice or bread at my place.

As I’m easing back into training, blogging, and working full-time, I hope I’ll be able to keep up with all of my plans! I hope to finish out the half marathon class and run the Rock ‘n Roll LA 2012 with a strong time. I hope to make it through all 20 sessions of the boot camp between now and Labor Day weekend. I also have quite the race schedule planned so it’ll be interesting to see how I keep up with it!

Hired by Amazon, Moving to Seattle, Learning Ruby/Rails, And Other Good Things

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated here!

As you may have noticed, my running is a bit off. Well, it’s like, super off. It’s so off that I’m sleeping with my running gear on so that when I get up tomorrow morning it’s the first thing I do! I’ve only logged 5 runs and 2 bike rides this month…eek. I guess with races off my plate, along with my heightened stress level, it’s taken a forever-backburner.

Despite the lack of training and increase in working, there’s been a number of great things that have been happening in my life — which all have admittedly sidelined me from my usual strict training regimen.

  1. Awhile back I was accepted to Bloc, an 8-week Ruby on Rails intensive. For those of you who are not in the tech world, it’s a web development course. I’m in week three (??) and so far it’s kicking my butt, in a good way of course. I’m so used to things in technology coming easy to me. This feels foreign, strange, weird, and difficult…all of the things that make a great journey (and a hard time)! If you want to read about my day-to-day experiences at Bloc, go for it.
  2. I’ve been picking up a lot of steam with my freelance clients. Had a lot of interesting projects that were interested in my work…some I took on, a lot I had to turn away just based on my unavailability.
  3. My boyfriend finally met my parents!
  4. One of my BFFs graduated nursing school.
  5. My boyfriend’s startup raised their second round of funding! (Hip hip hooray!)
  6. And last, but not least…I got a job offer. I got a job offer when I wasn’t even looking for a job.  It makes me feel like I might actually be doing something right. More on that below!

The gig requires a move to Seattle…a city I’ve visited once (now twice, since I had to fly up for my interview). It’s with Amazon and I get to do what I already do — application UX/UI. The last year or so has been both difficult and amazing at the same time — I’ve never hit so many plateaus and peaks in succession as I did in the last 12 months. (I went from having my own business to working full-time to getting laid off to going to massage therapy school to having only $100 to my name to closing more freelance clients than I could handle to getting offered a full-time job.) I think this relocation will be great to help re-energize me in general. It’ll keep me plugged in to a major powerhouse — a Web 1.0 property! — while challenging me immensely. (That’s an understatement.) I look forward to the adventure and all of the trials and tribulations I will face in a new, strange city.

I am so excited that I’ve already mapped out what I hope my new life will look like:

  • I’ll get back into training regularly. I’ll be moving to Seattle in the summer, which will lend itself nicely to outdoor training. However, come fall, winter, and spring, the rain will rain and won’t stop. I’m hoping to get an apartment in a complex with a fitness center OR to get a great 1 bedroom and buy a bike trainer…and figure out a way to get my running in. I’m looking for apartments within walking distance from work, but also big enough that when I have visitors that I’ll have a private room to myself.
  • I’d like to try some other things outside of event training to stay in shape…maybe a dance class, or crossfit. Something without an event payoff. I’m not sure if I’ll stay motivated but it might be nice to just try it for a month and see how I like it.
  • There’s a women’s Ruby meetup group that I’d like to join…they help women of all levels learn OOP, Ruby, and Rails. I think I could benefit from the female camaraderie. Tech is so heavily influenced by males. Really, I spend most of my time with guys. That’s fine and all, but sometimes the intentions are not as innocent as I’m led to believe…I’d like to steer clear of that as much as possible in this new city.

So far, that’s it. I’m trying not to plan too much. I want my life to be so loosely planned that anything else that ends up happening is just gravy. Work out. Go to work. Code like crazy during my free time. Repeat. My boyfriend’s schedule is loosening up a bit so he may be spending some time in Seattle (fingers crossed!) and shuttling up and down the coast. Since the weather is so crappy I won’t want to be hanging around anywhere anyways. Conditions are perfect for learning and introversion! I mean, if I’m not doing something that scares me, I’m not doing this right….right?

 

Temporary Lulls Are Just That…Temporary

This post sings a bit of a different tune. It’s more about the lulls in energy or drive that hit me in my daily life, be it work related, training related, or personally related.

It seems more so than ever I am aware that my life really is a series of unbalanced scales. I have a finite amount of hours and energy each day I bring to a project, to school, or to a training session. Sometimes when things in my life don’t seem to be in balance, it throws off the entire equation and I just shut down for awhile. Sometimes that while can last a few hours to a few weeks. And, every so often, I try to take a step back and really examine what I’m doing. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5 job, my projects last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. It’s nice and refreshing to be able to reframe my viewpoint so regularly. In fact, it is a luxury that I quite dearly missed in the spurts I committed to working full-time the few times in my adult life.

Lately I’ve been juggling more design work than school work. Just a few months ago, I was immersed full time in school work. What happened? Did I get bored or am I just coming up against a temporary lull? As you may already know, my interests oscillate between tech/design and health/fitness. One started off as a hobby and became a career, and sometimes it seems like I’m trying to redo that entire cycle over again in a completely different field.

I like to think of these temporary lulls as good practice for the Ironman. 17 hours is a long time to slug away at something. There will be some times when I don’t feel like swimming another yard, biking another mile, or running another step. It is in these temporary lulls that build character and grit. It is in trying times that you learn that the best things in life are the things you earn — education, leadership, strength. The things in life that are worth having are worth working for. Some have to work tirelessly before they see the fruits of their labor. Some people will never reach their end goals, but the journey is so consuming and well worth the investment that it is, in of itself, the reward.

It is in these quiet times I spend alone that I learn the most about myself and the people around me. A little bit of quiet observation unfolds a great deal of analysis of my past and present. I can’t predict the future but I can stack the odds. I can make plans for the future without sacrificing my appreciation of the present. I can honor the past by living fully in the present. I can (try to) learn to let go of the people and events in the past that burns inside of me.

I think the one thing I’ve learned the most in my adult life is how little I actually know. It’s kind of scary. I don’t have enough time on this earth for all of the books I want to read, the languages I want to learn, the places I want to visit, the startups I want to work with, the people I want to meet, the races I want to run. A lot of people at my age (and younger) feel invincible and on top of the world. I feel the exact opposite. I have so much to learn and so little time to execute it in. And, even though one of my goals is to complete an Ironman triathlon, I know that I have a lot of training ahead and a lot of life lessons to learn along the way.

I guess one place where I can start is…how the heck do I work all of the gears on my bike? That’s a pretty actionable first step, right?

I'm 28 and I Don't Know What I'm Doing With My Life…Still

Happy Tuesday, folks!

I’ve gotten a flurry of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ love for my birthday last week. Thanks again for your outpouring of love and support, especially all I’ve gone through this last year. It means the world to me.

So, on to the title of my post. Pretty loaded, huh? Well, it’s the honest truth. I think people have a tendency to frame the conversation — meaning that they want to express to people the version of themselves they want people to view them as. Perhaps not as genuine or honest, but it’s their only way to communicate their (somewhat) true selves. One of my friends (both online and IRL) has a priceless Twitter bio which sums it up perfectly: “Let’s be honest. I’m a nobody. But I’m working hard to change that.” There’s an element of truth to that for all of us, but I also suppose it depends on how you define yourself.

Historically I’ve always defined myself by my career — what I planned to do with my life, what I studied, what I’m working on. There’s an element of predictability and truth to that. You are what you spend your time thinking about, right? I design and design, mostly fatiguing my mind and interest on it until I find something to distract me long enough until I stumble upon something that will inspire me to pick up the pixels again. And so the process repeats. However, let’s get some facts straight here — as of last week, I’ve pretty much been doing the same thing, over and over (in different ways) for 15 years. If my personal philosophy holds true — that you shouldn’t do something for more than 10 years — then I’m approximately 5 years overdue for a major career change. However, in my attempt to change my career I’ve faced a number of “signs,” if you will, that keep bringing me back into the design sphere.

Let’s start with my reiki studies. Reiki is the study and practice of energy healing. In one of my texts, a short passage caught my eye.

If you a have a talent to help people and you choose not to, then you are stealing from yourself by denying your gift.

I stopped after reading that passage and thought about it long and hard. Was I really stealing from myself by denying this gift I have of design? Am I even helping people with my design work? I’ve come across a handful of scumbags in my design career. I’ve come across people who have told me to my face that I don’t have any real skill in design. On the other hand I’ve had plenty of happy clients, projects deployed, and work on display for the world.

Then I thought about what I’d rather be doing. Wait, let me rephrase that. Is there something I’d rather be doing? Design is difficult and taxing. It’s a problem that won’t go away. Will I be fulfilled by hacking away at the problems presented to me forever and ever? Maybe…maybe not. My focus as of late has turned to healthcare, wanting to get back to patient care. It takes a lot of time to retrain for a new career, especially in medicine. I’ll need a pretty lengthy runway and I will probably still need to design to survive. Will it be the best use of my time? Will I be able to affect the change I seek through this different medium, or am I just spinning my wheels?

Some of you are probably wondering what has caused this change in tune (again). There’s been a few things.

One, I’ve been removed from most of my friends and family and spending time solo. Wait a minute. I spend most of my time alone in my own head.

Two, I attended the LAUNCH Conference on some complimentary Broke Startup Founder tickets and met some amazing people that inspired me. I met a couple of other broke startup founders who were doing amazing things. I some incredibly smart people that were going to change the world. I saw one of my heroes and froze and then lamented that I never got a chance to shake his hand. I spent most of my time there live-casting the startups as they were pitching but also keeping a pulse on the general attitude of those around me.

Third, the projects that are availing themselves to me are inspiring. I’m a bit superstitious so technically everything is in stealth mode and I won’t tell you about them…mainly for fear that they’ll go away once I talk about them. (Weird, I know.)

Fourth, it’s always so difficult explaining to my parents what exactly it is that I do. Social media? UX design? Mobile apps? Where’s the money? I don’t know, mom and dad…but it’s there somewhere.

Fifth, I’ve had somewhat of a new lease on life. A few years ago I had a bit of a cancer scare. After a couple years of refining the way I live my life and the things I eat, as well as the way I’m taking care of myself, I’m proud to say that all suspicious traces of whatever was in my system is completely gone. I got the lab reports back in February. I like to think of it as “free and clear.”

So yes, you can say that I’m 28 and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life…still. I’m certainly farther along now than when I was 18 but sometimes I’m not so sure. When I was 18 I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I wanted to change the world. I stopped at nothing to make enough money to send myself to college. I explored different majors, internships, and even schools. I sought to meet as many people as I could. I spent more time in nature. I’m 28 and, to some extent, doing the same thing — except now I’ve dropped out of grad school (too boring), dabbling in other potential part-time endeavors (massage therapy school), working on other startup ideas (never-ending), and working for other startups (on-going). The projects won’t stop coming (THANK GOODNESS) but certainly I wouldn’t be getting offers for projects if I didn’t bring some sort of value to the table, right? The design community is this never-ending cesspool of disgustingly amazing talent and utter mediocrity. You’re kind of one or the other.

Maybe my self-projections were right. Maybe I was never meant to work for someone else. Maybe I’m doomed to a life of permalancing and chasing the next big idea in my sketchbook. I suppose if that’s the worst that can happen to me, then it can’t possibly be that bad.

Happy Runniversary to Me!

It’s my runniversary, y’all! I think it was last February 2nd or 3rd that I made the decision to begin running and I haven’t looked back since.

Based on the cobwebs in my RunKeeper profile and blog, you might’ve thought that I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. To the theories or speculation of my disappearance, I can confirm that it’s partially true.

I’ve been immersing myself in a certified massage therapy program here in Los Angeles. It’s been a pretty good program — I get around 15 hours of anatomy, pathology, and ethics lectures a week, which is coupled with about 20 or so hours of instructional massage therapy classes. The first day of class I got a wonderful massage during class! I’ve been trying to stay on the other side of the sheets for the most part, but when I notice myself feeling a bit run down I swap with my classmates and get an awesome trade massage.

I’ve really enjoyed the program so far. There is a 500-hour requirement for certification from the national certification board, meaning that I need to finish this program (166 hours of anatomy, 168 hours of massage, 166 hours of internship) in order to sit for the exam. Once I pass the exam, I will be certified to practice anywhere in the United States. It’ll be a nice gateway into my next academic step since I’ve been researching MAOM/DC programs here in LA. (MAOM = Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, DC = Doctor of Chiropractic) I haven’t quite settled in on any specific schools yet but I have a few open houses I’m attending these next few months, so we’ll see.

As for training…yeah, I really need to get back into it. I’ve been booking design projects, jugging the massage internship, and going to school about 40 hours a week. There literally is no time for training. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say they have no time to work out — when they are committed to something that physically and mentally takes their time for 80 hours a week.

For now, I want to execute a manageable plan to run 3 times a week, using Kara Goucher’s rule of thumb: 1 easy run, 1 hard run, 1 long run. I think that I get bogged down by the fact that I can’t meet my mileage now that I don’t have enough time, but I really should just focus myself on getting out the door. I have my long runs scheduled on Saturdays with the charity team, so no big deal there. The problem is getting out the door for the other two runs during the week…and fundraising. (I still have about $550 to go!)

Stress galore, but it’s all worth it! (I think.) In the  meantime, I submitted a small blurb to Nike Running and here’s what they sent back. Enjoy!

Staying Busy During The First Week of 2012

This first week of the new year is surely a sign of things to come.

I started my first week of massage therapy school and it was pretty intense. The day after Christmas, I drove over to Redondo Beach and enrolled at Alta Massage College. This week I clocked 21.5 hours of classroom instruction and that includes a day off. Next week I’ll probably be closer to around 30 hours, and the week or two after that I look forward to starting my internship! So far the program is better than expected. On the first day I spoke to Dr. Davis, the anatomy, physiology, and pathology teacher there, and told her about my plans to eventually segue into personal training and oriental medicine. Since that initial introduction I’ve felt that she’s pushed me a lot harder than the other students to answer questions during class and she seems to expect me to ask a lot too. Most of the time her lectures jog my memories of anatomy class (I’ve taken two in ten years) and my short stint in nursing school. In the first week I studied more reiki (I started my reiki studies right before the end of the year) and pregnancy massage. So far the instruction I’ve received has been well worth the money…I am happy I followed my doctor’s guidance and am now on this track.

Tomorrow morning I have an interview to become a personal trainer apprentice of sorts…I’ll still have to study towards certification, but I’ll actually get a chance to work directly with a gym for this. I’m super excited and hope things go well tomorrow, but it’s really more of an initial meet-and-greet to see if we’re a good fit. Fingers crossed! The company is based out of San Diego/OC but is opening up a studio here in west LA. I think it’d be a great thing to do in addition to massage therapy, but if it doesn’t work out I’ll still get to concentrate solely on massage therapy. Either way I think it’s a win-win situation.

Also hosted the first charity group run of the year! I had a 13.1 miler scheduled but I ended up running around 9.3 miles. Still not bad. I spent the afternoon getting my apartment tidy and my fridge stocked for the upcoming week. I did so much traveling at the end of last year — San Francisco, Europe, San Diego, my parents’ house, my boyfriend’s house — that I rarely got to pack and unpack. My stuff was piling up and it was pretty out of control! I’ve tamed it down a bit but still need to get rid of some books so I’ll figure something out. I also stock piled the fridge so that I’d be able to cook at home and pack all of my food for school so that I could save on costs. Finances are a bit slim right now since I’m really dead-set on not taking on any work unrelated to health and wellness, so I have to make the little bit that I do have go a long way.

I spent the month of December pretty lost and depressed, but January feels different. I feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction. I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants instead of just coasting on cruise-control. I jotted down a ton of to-do lists at the beginning of December and without actively realizing it, I’ve pretty much put them all into motion or completed them. It feels good to feel like you’re on track, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. For now my training has taken a bit of a backseat, but with my schedule now almost set for the next few months I’ll be able to pencil in my swimming, biking, and running. Looking forward to getting back into a routine, even if it is short-lived!

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