See Ya, 2011!

One last post before I hit the road…

Hope you are all having (or will have later tonight) a wonderful New Years!

This year I accomplished a lot. Starting with a small, short personal challenge to run for 21 days, it has blossomed into a newfound passion that has bled into every aspect of my life. My friends, family, and you have watched me transform from a sedentary blogger to what I am today, and for that, I’m thankful.

It was a busy year — In my RunKeeper I posted 333 activities, 1,414 miles, and 130,800 calories burned. That’s major since the prior 12 months I posted probably less than 20 miles.

Next year, I am looking forward to the following:

  • Racing in the 2012 Honda LA Marathon and leading all of my teammates to the finish line
  • Racing in my first 70.3 in November
  • Becoming an ACE Certified Personal Trainer
  • Becoming a CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
  • Becoming an Usui Reiki Practicioner
  • Becoming a health and wellness professional to help others live healthier, happier, and more wholesome lives
Thankfully, all of the work that needs to be done has already been started. 2012 — let’s do this!!!
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My Christmas Wish List for 2011

A lot of people talk about the things they want for Christmas. Nothing’s wrong with wanting stuff for Christmas, I suppose. However, what people usually don’t talk about are some of the more obvious needs of the people around them for the holidays.

For me, Christmas is more like Thanksgiving…it’s more of a time to reflect on all of the year’s changes. It’s also a time to give thanks and to pay it forward. So, my Christmas wish list is rather short —

  1. I want everyone I know to donate at least $10 to my Dress for Success fundraiser. Everyone who donates from me will receive a wonderful thank-you gift in the mail. (Just make sure to send me your mailing address.)
  2. If you aren’t doing something you love, I hope you vow to change it in 2012. Your life is too short (and precious) to waste it on something you aren’t passionate about.
That pretty much concludes it. If you get me a physical gift without actually donating to my cause, I might cry a little. On the inside.

Tis The Season For Personal Pivots

Every once in awhile I find myself back at where I started…albeit I’m usually in a better position, but still, nonetheless, back at where I started.

As some of you may know, when I began my running back in February, I was running my own design and marketing business. Since then I’ve had a few clients and took on a full-time job and thus giving up grad school and my businesses. Unfortunately with startup life comes a lot of risk-taking, and I had confidence that things would work out. Unfortunately they aren’t and now I find myself a teensy bit more vulnerable than I’d like. This has resulted in a few choice words and snide remarks at people who are trying to help — here’s looking at you, Shant — but also just generally being a bit more humble and conservative than usual.

Every so often we get on our high horse — whether it’s in our heads or publicly — but it’s important to know that what goes up must come down. While I have a pretty clear definitive plan on my next steps, they are still scary nonetheless.

My plans include:

  1. Wrapping up my graduate degree at Golden Gate University. I have about a year left of full-time study before getting my masters.
  2. Taking my ACE Fitness studying more seriously. If health and wellness is something I am serious about switching into, I really need to know the material and get my act together.
  3. Hunting down part-time/contractor opportunities. I want to be as focused as possible on studying so that when it comes time to flip the switch again — go from student to worker — I can do so with a clear mind and a sharpened toolset.
  4. Looking at new places to live. I really love my little apartment and neighborhood but I wonder if there isn’t a better spot that’s better suited for me. There are a few places close by that are cheaper but larger, but I’ll have to do a cost/benefit analysis to figure out if it’s worth considering.
  5. Get my money ducks in line. A little easier said than done since I hate thinking about money but apparently it’s a necessary evil at this stage in my life.
  6. Seriously train for my 70.3. I’m going to put together a training calendar, based on the aggregate of what’s available online, and use my personal training studying to my advantage. If I begin this month that’ll give me 11 months — nearly 40+ weeks — to get half-Ironman ready.
  7. Continue fundraising for Dress for Success. I’ve let that go to the wayside a bit since I’ve been busy with the full-time job but now’s a great time to pick that pack up!
  8. Build great content for my ‘Ironwoman in Training’ blog. I’d love to continue writing posts, but I’d like to invite guest bloggers, host live video chats, and just get more involved in the running community online.
I’m trying not to get too down on myself. These last few months I’ve certainly learned a lot about time management and have taken great leaps and strides in my professional career. I’m sure some of you are also underemployed/unemployed/funemployed. How are you all holding up? Have you been able to make more time for fitness and exercise? How does unemployment effect your health and wellness?
I suppose if you’re still happy employed, you should consider donating a little something to my Dress for Success LA Marathon fundraiser!

Race Recap: The Athens Classic Marathon

Lets do this Memento style: start with the ending and then go from the beginning.

The giant marble stadium was overwhelming. As I neared it on the last of my energy reserves, I tried to pick up the pace but it was just unbearable. But, as my right foot landed on the soft track, I was somehow lifted by a spirit outside of me and began running towards the finish line. As I crossed the timing mat and archway I couldn’t help but think about the incredible journey I had just been on, both mentally and physically.

The morning of the marathon started as most other race mornings. I slept fitfully, waking up ten times in five hours. Most of my dreams were about the marathon, making mistakes, forgetting things, etc. I woke up sometime after 2:30am and couldn’t go back to bed so I began preparing for the race. I pulled on my running skirt, tech tank, arm warmers, socks. After that I began piling on the layers: long sleeved shirts, sweaters, scarves, anything that would shield me from the cold. I pulled my hair into a mid-ponytail, alternating between headbands before settling on the skinny one. (The other one I had was already immortalized in another race photo.)

I turned on my phone and called my boyfriend. We had said that we’d video chat before I left for the race since I wouldn’t be broadcasting my run live. A few quick exchanges were made and then I was off.

At five in the morning, the city of Athens is unseemingly quiet. The entire city was asleep. I neared the ticketing machines since I had misplaced my 7 day metro pass. As I fumbled with my 50 euro bill in between different machines that lacked change, I began to get worried that I might miss my shuttle to the city of Marathon. As I began punching buttons out of frustration, a kind British gentleman offered to pay the 2 euros or so for me since he was on his way to the marathon too.

We boarded the shuttle together among the hundreds of other runners. We talked about running, triathlons, work, traveling, global crises, the age skew in the shuttle. Eventually the conversation dwindled down to silence as we kept going on this windy road to Marathon. I muttered something about how far we had driven and he referenced something about not training enough for hills. The windshield wipers were clearing a thin layer of water from the morning’s drizzle and the driver kept pressing on.

We reached the stadium of Marathon and headed towards shelter. On our way there, I noted the rather large number of portapotties. As we tried to make headway, the wind was resisting us. Volunteers were passing out large plastic bags to help keep us warm. By the time we reached the waiting room, we made our way to the corner to take advantage of the body heat and to eat some breakfast.

I can never handle solid food before a race so I broke open some Clif gel blocks. We chatted a bit more when I asked him for some first timer tips. All he gave me was, “Don’t start off too fast.” Point taken. He asked me about some of the apps I had worked on at work so I pulled them up on my phone. Soon enough the girl next to us began joining in on the conversation. She was training for an ultramarathon and was currently working at the US embassy in England. The three of us eventually made our way to drop off our gear bags. In between trying to stay warm, we moved between different locations, eventually finding a nice hideaway with about a hundred other runners behind the torch.

We made it to our starting block. I marveled at the sheer numbers of the race. Next to me were two runners from California as well: San Francisco and San Diego. I thought back to the two other runners I had met at the Acropolis a few days before, Alexander from Ukraine and Andrew from the Philippines. They called the waves one by one, and before I knew it we were off.

The first few kilometers I had to get used to the fact that they were indeed going by kilometers. The marathon course is 26.2 miles, but when converted into metric measurements, it comes out to something more like 42.195 kilometers. Mile markers come less frequently than kilometer markers naturally, so it was important to do math on the go. As we circled the tomb of Marathon at around 5k, I was feeling good since the hard part was over…or so I thought.

As we entered small cities and villages, crowds were cheering us on. People of all ages were clapping, handing out olive branches, and taking photos. I saw a few warriors running in costume, some old, some young, some barefoot. Some power walkers were older than runners. Some looked like they were in agonizing pain and some looked lost in the moment.

There’s this thing I do when I run. I think of my swimming and my biking. When I swim, to help me count my laps, I think of the lap number and try to remember what happened to me when I was that old. I begin thinking of the people that entered my life and what I was doing. By the time I pass 27 I begin projecting into the future. So, naturally, I started down that rabbit hole. I began thinking of everything and everyone I had met and experience that led me up to this moment. I thought of all the good things that had happened to me. I thought of all the friends I had made over the years. I thought of all the times I was sad. I thought about the continuous abuse I had suffered at the hands of my brother 20 years ago and the violence I endured 10 years ago. I thought back to a time when I preferred to end it all, I thought of the time I felt like the people I loved most were turning their backs on me, and I started tearing up…and somewhere before the 20 kilometer mark I snapped out of it. Somewhere in my mind I had recounted events and people up to around age 23 or 24, and then things began looking up.

I thought about art school and my art school friends. I thought about how my parents finally came around during that time. I thought about how I began understanding the world a little differently after studying nursing and anthropology. I thought about how excited I was to begin working at the ad agency full time. I remembered how much I wanted to design for mobile. I remember getting filmed for my university, gushing about how much I wanted to start my own design business and travel the world with it. I began thinking of my friends, old and new. I thought of my supportive boyfriend, my gassy cat, the guy who sold me my running shoes. I thought of all the kind people I had met on this marathon and triathlon journey and about what cause I wanted to fundraise for when I begin my 70.3 training.

As the kilometers ticked off one by one, I was getting increasingly sore and tired. I thought of my fundraising efforts and all the women who needed the help of Dress for Success to transition from welfare to work. As the run got harder and harder — theres a 13 mile hill climb, if you didn’t know — I thought of those mornings where Shant would lead a run on his bike and I would try to keep up. I played that game a bit in my head. When I ran out, I switched it to my first 6 mile run around Lady Bird lake with my friend Barce. When that was over, I began thinking of my group training runs with my friends at work, who always managed to head out for a post-work jaunt around the neighborhood with me. I can remember days where I felt like slacking but everyone got me out of the door.

Somewhere along kilometer 35, it became quiet in my head. I had finally emptied it of all thought and ideas. It was just silence for awhile. I was actively ignoring the music blaring in my ears. I had passed a beautiful Greek countryside with rolling hills and small villages. I passed a small industrial area and now was in the suburbs. The buildings began getting closer together and the rain and wind became significantly stronger. I pulled out the plastic bag I had neatly tied away at kilometer 5. My fingers were tingling, my legs were numb, and I was shivering. Thinking it was dehydration I took some sips out of my hydration pack and concluded that it was really because I was cold. Running in 40 degree weather with wind chill, drizzling rain, and California summer weather running gear will do that to you.

At around kilometer 39 or 40, I was met with a foil blanket from a nice emergency guard who had lauded my accomplishment thus far. As he wrapped the shiny blanket around me, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Now, go finish the race you started.” I was finally in downtown Athens and it looked similar to the morning after a rainstorm in Bangkok. The roads were closed, and people were on the sidelines clapping their hands and yelling “Bravo!”. To my recollection, the only other person to have ever said that to me in that way was Shant’s mother.

I neared a familiar sight, the Syntagma Square and the House of Parliament. I ran under the first inflatable arch right after kilometer 42. I tried to pick up the pace as I saw the next arch and was only able to pull off a small trot. As I passed the second metal arch, what came into view was absolutely beautiful: the giant Panathenaikon Stadium, in full marble, in full glory. By that time, I could feel the pain leaving my body — if only temporarily — as I sped up to a run. Volunteers were cheering us on and as I crossed the finish line, I could not believe the journey I had just gone on. My energy was spent, I was shivering, but I finished the marathon with a smile on my face. After months of planning and training, it was all I could ask for.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Back sometime in April I had made a conscious decision to put my 30-day-turned-60-day challenge to good use and to give myself some long term goals that were a little less about vanity and a little more about substance.

That was seven months ago. I cant relieve the transformation that I have undergone in such a short period of time. Although many parts of my life remain constant, the more important things have changed. Instead of spending all of my brainpower on things like work (admittedly very important), I began spending time with scene very important, someone who had been neglected for a very long time…myself. My times I argued with myself, pushed mueslis self, belittled myself, and perhaps even surprised myself.

Running has given me yet another lens to view the world. Before I started training for the marathon and triathlon, it seemed as though most things were out of control. Most of the time, I was reactionary to external stimuli. I had a lassaize faire attitude with my business, my startup, my pursuit of higher education, and my relationships.

Ελληνικά: Ολυμπιακοί Αγώνες 1896, Η είσοδος το...
Panathinaiko Stadium, Athens Classic Marathon Finish

I have to say that I am somewhat of a different person now. Im a bit more compassionate and empathetic of the struggles people go through in their daily life. I am constantly surprised by the depth of human emotions and motivation. I learn new things about my friends and family in little ways everyday. I can step outside of my ego and learn to take feedback for what it is.

When I started training, I made a pact with myself that I would take things slowly. I would carefully plan out my training schedule and races so that I could maximize my efforts while always seeing a constant improvement in performance. I understand that things wont always be that way, but you have to start somewhere. For me it started at a small 5K, progressed to 10Ks, and then to half marathons. At many points I questioned my motivations and my ability, but all I really wanted to do was prove to myself that I could commit to something and see it all the way through, no matter what it took.

In a few days I will get my chance to celebrate this transformation and achievement in Athens. I never thought I would be here today, typing up a blog on a plane ride across the world to finally see this goal all the way through. I hope that in achieving my goals I can gently motivate others to approach their aspirations with the same level of commitment and gusto!

The Big Day Is Finally Here

After months of preparation, the big day is finally here! The LA Triathlon starts in less than 12 hours. OY!

I’m incredibly nervous but mostly excited. I think I finally have all of my effects in order — wetsuit, trisuit, arm warmers, racing belt, bike (and all the things that come with it), helmet, shoes, towel, tools — and now I can finally relax for the evening.

The last time I ran a benchmark race was the 5K in March. Everything in between has been pretty fun, but mostly filler. I’ve been nervous about those other races before, but the anxiety I feel tonight is similarly reminiscent of that first 5K. I suspect I won’t feel this way again until Athens, which will be a mess all in itself…and I’ll be in a different country to boot.

After sitting through the course and newbie briefings at the expo today, I feel a lot more comfortable and I think I’m just ready to go have a good time. I’m excited that the LA Triathlon is my first. I love the city I was born and raised in and would not want to share this first experience with any other in the world!

In keeping with tradition, whenever I cross off a bucket list race or milestone, I register for another one…so I think I will wrap up my dinner and do exactly that. See you at the finish line!

When Your Best Effort Doesn't Seem Good Enough

I’m typing this as I sit on two bags of frozen vegetables.

This morning, I woke up a little bit on the late side. I had been looking forward to my long run (15 miles) for days now, since the half marathon last Sunday. Things were looking rosy after I took a bit of time off from running to ice my legs and recover.

I took three days off and started running/walking again:

  • Wednesday evening: 5.14 miles. Most of it was walking…I think I might’ve only ran about one or one and a half miles of the whole five. The rest of it was walking and it was with a friend. Energy: low. Morale: high. Pace: slower than usual. Felt: good.
  • Thursday morning: 2.84 miles. Most of it was running at a faster pace than usual. I got up early with Shant and did a quick tour around the neighborhood. Energy: high. Morale: high. Pace: faster than usual. Felt: good.
  • Saturday afternoon: 3.65 miles. All of it was walking along the Venice boardwalk after my LA Marathon/Roadrunners kickoff event. Energy: medium. Morale: high. Pace: slow. Felt: good.

Today I walked/ran a cumulative 10.04 miles. I decided to mix up my route a bit and took the route backwards to downtown instead of to the beach. I wanted to run to downtown, through it, and then back to my apartment. It looked great on paper and the distance was perfect for my training schedule, so I prepped for it. Shant was still here and wanted to come along for the 15 miles so he laced up his shoes and prepped his bike and we were on our way.

I made a point to stretch thoroughly and slowly, warm up, and go at a really slow pace. I was in it today for the distance, not the time. I made it to about four or five miles out before I started feeling that nagging uncomfortable feeling again in my right thigh. It comes on gradually. One foot in front of the other for a block or two and suddenly something gets tight. It then increasingly gets more and more difficult to put that opposing foot farther in front of you. After awhile it seemed as though I had to stop for a stretching break at every light. I tried not to look at my RunKeeper to check out my pace but had I known that I was pulling a 15-minute mile (my usual is between 11-13 minutes) I would’ve known earlier that something was wrong.

I took Beverly all the way down to the bridge before Beaudry. I had to cut around the side streets since the sidewalk abruptly ended. Most of the trek was uphill all the way to the Disney Concert Hall and then it was downhill to Olive and Broadway. I took a right at Broadway and pulled out my phone so that I could text Shant to see where he was. (He bikes a block or two ahead since he goes at a faster pace on his bike.) He was at the next intersection, but by the time I got there, I was already in pretty bad shape. Tearing up, I told him that my leg was hurting again and that I wasn’t sure what to do. We were a long ways from home and I didn’t bring my wallet, but he did. (Thank goodness!) We stumbled upon Grand Central Market and went in to find a place to sit and thankfully, came across a Chinese masseuse.

Shant ran off to find an ATM so that I could get a few minutes in. The masseuse definitely knew what he was doing. By the time I was done I had nearly cried three or four times but it felt much more relaxed. I felt that at least I could walk the 7 or so miles back to get the distance in. Shant had somehow finagled a cheap merchant to give him a bag of ice so that I could rest for a half hour before we headed back. He did a good job at trying to cheer me up as I sat there moping.

We decided that it was time to head out so we went back onto Broadway and took a right on Sixth Street. The street narrows a bit so we headed to Wilshire and began heading home. I tried to jog a bit but only made it a few miles until I had to stop again. My right leg was throbbing again but now my left leg was tensing up. Things weren’t looking too hot and even walking was getting unbearable, so I flagged Shant down and we hopped a bus back home. The bus dropped us about a mile out, so we took a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood to get back home. As soon as I got there, he prepped the shower and bathtub for an ice bath. During my bath I was flipping through one of my old Runner’s World magazines and came across a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe and we decided to make it for dinner. It was delicious!

Despite a fairly good end to a pretty crappy day, I can’t remember the last time a 10-miler felt…unaccomplished. With the rate I’m going, I’m trying really hard to make sure I’m in good enough shape to make it to Athens, but doubt has really began to creep in. I’ll need to re-evaluate my training schedule between now and November to make sure that I can hit my targets and that I can finish safely and without injury. Now’s probably a good time to double-down on my acupuncture visits, massage appointments, and sleep/school/work schedule. At my peak I was running 40 miles a week. Now at 20 I feel like I’m slacking off and accomplishing nothing.

I’m also starting to debate whether or not I should skip the LA Triathlon this year so that I can just focus on my marathon training. It’s a shame — I’ve really been looking forward to it. It’s only 14 days away but I wonder if I can do a lot more damage by pushing myself through a multi-sport race. You could argue that I could take the event slow, but I know myself and I know that I’ll want to push as hard as I can. I’m asking myself a lot of questions…

  1. Would I regret not doing the LA Triathlon? Probably.
  2. Will it exacerbate my injuries? Most likely.
  3. Would I prefer the LA Triathlon over the Athens Marathon? I’m not sure. The LA Triathlon is here at home so there’s less stress. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I wanted to do it in a big way…so this is it.

So now, I’m sitting on two bags of ice, polishing off a glass of wine, and thinking about the next couple of months and what it looks like. My LA Marathon training group starts next week. It’s definitely going to effect my training to have to run double-duty until November. (Group training on Saturdays and then long runs on Sundays.) It’s been more than a week since I’ve hit the pool or a bike. The triathlon is 14 days away and I haven’t made a decision yet but it’s weighing heavily on my mind. I need to make a decision — is the LA Triathlon more important than the Athens Marathon? If I had to choose, which one would I pick?

Beginning Ocean Swimming Is Not As Scary As Previously Imagined

After a lot of reticence and procrastinating, I finally attended my first ever open water swimming clinic. I have pretty much been terrified of the water since I started training for the LA Triathlon and since it’s coming down to crunch time, I started doing my research about a month ago.

I was unsuccessful at cajoling some of my friends to join me in an open water swim, since they were unavailable. I met someone at a running store who recommended an open swim training group but it turned out to be incredibly expensive (over $100 a session). Lastly, I went onto Meetup and luckily I came across the Beginning Ocean Swimmers clinic. Sessions were only $10 a pop and they had clinics nearby that introduced newbies like me to the ocean. I RSVPd and I was in.

When I’m super nervous about something, I do two things: I eat (a LOT) and, if it’s an appointment, I leave/arrive obscenely early for it. So, bright and early on this Sunday morning, I loaded up my brand spanking new wetsuit and gear out to Seal Beach to meet with the group. I was so nervous and scared when I first arrived at the beach since I was the only one there. I found a secret hidden nook in the parking lot (yeah, they exist) and tugged on my new wetsuit. I had put on my wetsuit for the first time that morning, and since it took me so long, I wanted to save myself the embarrassment of feeling slow again later in front of the group while getting dressed (and again while swimming)…so, I dodged that bullet by getting dressed early.

When I arrived, I was the only one wearing a wetsuit (totally noob move). Plus, I awkwardly didn’t talk to anybody and cracked open some trail mix and begin munching away (reference above nervous tendency). The instructor arrived, cool as a cucumber, and reminded me a lot of Jeff Bridge’s character in The Big Lebowski…except without the hair. Cool!

He briefed us on the conditions and coached a bit on what to look for when getting in and out of the water. Before I knew it we were lining up to swim out and in a few times. The first swim out there was scary. I waited for most of the pack to go before heading in to the water. In an effort to make it through the clinic I tried not to expend too much energy, thus taking the swim in a really calm, relaxing, and slow manner. It could have been compared to the swimming version of a Sunday stroll, which I guess at that time it was exactly that.

The first few times I tried to swim out I was greeted with breaking waves. Luckily, no saltwater was snorted yet. I eventually made it out to what felt like the middle of the ocean but about 50 yards from the Seal Beach Pier. We caught our breath and waded around a bit. I was surprised at how I was holding up, given that I hadn’t done much pool training. Whenever I get really tired in the pool I have a tendency to just stop swimming and stand up in the pool, or hang on to the side, but in the ocean none of that exists. All I could do was wade it out…and that I did.

The instructor then had us swim back to land and repeat the exercises a few times. Before I knew it things were looking rosy. I was actually keeping up with the pack and was swimming. I suppose what was scary to me before was the depth of the water. When swimming though, it’s easy to forget how deep the water actually gets, since you’re always swimming near the surface of the water. For all I knew the floor was right underneath me…but at the time, it didn’t matter. I was in the moment.

It then came time for us to swim parallel to the beach, from one lifeguard tower to the next. This was more of a long haul for me. After all the outs and ins, I was beginning to feel taxed. My stroke weakened and got rather sloppy (it had been progressively gotten sloppier over the course of the morning) and I was feeling out of breath. Something I learned from a friend who once completed an Olympic-distance triathlon was that since there were no limits to the swim strokes you could use, the backstroke was completely acceptable. I rolled over and paddled as much as I could without expending too much extra energy and when I caught my breath, I rolled over and continued swimming. I knew that if I spent too much time on my back that eventually a wave would crash over me and that I’d get saltwater inside my nose, mouth, eyes, etc., so I really had to keep it to a minimum.

The swim back to home base was the most difficult. By the time I was a few minutes in I was already pretty much tapped out. I slowed down considerably and strayed pretty far from the group. The idea was to swim back in to shore in the L formation in which we came in, but I ended up doing some sort of cut around that ended up being the same distance to begin with.

By the end we all met up at our original starting point. Everyone seemed very accomplished and the newbies (like me!) were getting all of the attention. It felt nice to finally overcome something that I had previously deemed incredibly scary! By the time I got to my car I was super elated that I couldn’t wait until the next swim clinic. I’m hoping to catch some ocean swimming sessions (either solo or with a partner) quite a few times before the BIG DAY.

When we were all done, I was incredibly thirsty. I drank and drank and drank but my thirst was insatiable. I couldn’t figure if it was because of my perceived exertion or if it was because of all the saltwater that I probably ingested! All in all I had a great time, I felt accomplished, and I can honestly say that I can’t wait to do it again.

In retrospect, it was such an amazing experience. Being around other triathletes and people who have trained in the water was incredibly inspirational. Being in the middle of the water with no land underneath my feet, surrounded by people who were sort of like me was great. It was like my own little place on earth that no one could touch. And, even though I was surrounded by other people in wet suits, it still felt like one-on-one time with nature. I was finally opening myself up to what the Earth has to offer…and it felt great.

Accepting Change and Moving On

Happiness is really a choice. Change? Not so much.

Change hits me really hard. For some reason I’m just really uncomfortable with it. Many times…rather, most of the time, change is really for the better. I’ve had quite a few things that brought along a lot of change…graduating college, moving out, ending relationships, leaving projects, ending tenures, starting/failing/re-starting grad school. The list can go on and on.

I think what bothers me most about change is that sometimes I feel like I could have done something better. Sometimes I wish I would’ve spent my time differently. Sometimes I wish I had focused a little more. Maybe if I had done something a little differently, the entire experience would have been better, worse, or otherwise different. It’s a classic case of analysis paralysis. Let me be the first person to tell you, if no one else has already, that change is hard and that I understand. Just know that everything happens for a reason. I’ve personally gone through a lot of change this month and it’s been one rollercoaster after another, but I can honestly say that things will work themselves out.

The reason why I take the concept of change so hard is that I personally see change as an end to something. Changing jobs or roles in life, moving on from dead weight, and growing all involve some sort of transformation. If I could just learn to flip a switch and see it as a beginning I think it’d be a lot easier on me. Change is a new beginning. You can wipe your slate (relatively) clean and transform. It’s a necessary step to reincarnation…so embrace it.

Some things I’ve done to accept change and move on:

  • Talk it out. Sometimes it helps to have a cathartic session with another person who is willing to listen.
  • Reflect on your experience and remember the good things. What made your experience enriching? What did you get out of it?
  • Get excited about what’s next. Now that you’re in a state of change, you have been handed a wild card from life. You are completely in control of your next move. Call the shots and take charge.
  • Give it time. Most people will go through the five steps of grieving (denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). It’s totally normal and no matter is too small that it needs to go ignored.
  • Do something to honor your feelings. Allow yourself to feel the way you do. This isn’t the time to deny or deprive. Do something nice for yourself…you deserve it.
  • When you’re ready to make a decision, don’t look back. Keep looking forward and move towards the future.

What else do you recommend?

There Comes a Point in Every Person's Life…

A few days ago I was faced with the mentality of my former self.

I came across a moment where I was comparing myself to someone who I couldn’t compare to. It wasn’t an impossible, out of reach type of comparison. Okay, actually, yes it was. My immature self a few years ago would have made the mistake of feeling down on herself because she didn’t look a certain way, have a particular body type, didn’t dress like the other girls. I was always a little bit different, a tad more pragmatic than most, and a little (okay, vehemently) opinionated against all things fashionable and not quite functional. So, when I wanted to knock down my self esteem a few inches, all I did was turn to compare myself to someone who I couldn’t compare to. It was “apples to oranges” as some would say.

What helped me snap out of this girl funk?

After thinking about it for a few days, I came to the conclusion that I am essentially happy with the person I’ve become. It’s kind of like the butterfly effect: If anything about me were different, everything would be different.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. For example, the presence or absence of a butterfly flapping its wings could lead to creation or absence of a hurricane.

I wouldn’t have the same friends or the same interests. I wouldn’t be in the positions I am now. I might not have my own business. I wouldn’t be training for a triathlon or marathon. I wouldn’t be busy trying to convince other people to go running with me and digitally pestering them with my RunKeeper status updates. I wouldn’t be so flaky over the phone and that wouldn’t result in such glorious reunions when they do take place. The people that I trust with my life wouldn’t be there for me. Essentially, if I weren’t the person I am today, I would be a completely different person, living under different circumstances, with different friends and a different outlook on life.

I’d rather be me any day.