Winter as a Runner

It is currently 63 degrees and sunny. I am sitting outside wearing shorts while writing this. This may sound highly unremarkable. If you live in Florida, perhaps this temperature makes you want to put on a parka. If you’re in Texas, the temperature is merely tepid.

Yet after the winter that I’ve dealt with in Des Moines, IA, it feels like I should be swimming (and instantly getting a sunburn). After all, my skin has not seen sunlight in what feels like a long, long, hundred or so days.

I’ve always enjoyed the winter. I think snow is special, and sometimes spectacular. I love looking outside and seeing a sea of wintery white. I love the idea of a hot chocolate by the fire side, and colorful, perfectly wrapped presents stacked underneath a tree (Unless they are from me, as I am incapable of wrapping presents and instead often just leave them in the shopping bag…trust me; this is the preferred alternative to me actually wrapping it).

I look forward to all of these things until December 26th, when the snow should leave kindly, along with Christmas lights on top of people’s houses. Leaving Christmas lights up is a cruel joke, as it momentarily makes me think that the holidays are still upon us. Lights outside after Christmas do not put me in the holiday spirit; they make me feel like I’ve suddenly been transported into the movie Groundhog Day.

Come March, I’m more than ready to get rid of snow. This year has been particularly long. I have continued to run outside throughout the long months, which included a small bout of frostbite in your ear (there is a reason why you shouldn’t run in negative temperatures…especially when you decide that a headband is unimportant), a million “near slips” on the ice, and several actual ones. I am pretty certain that you could fit a piece of paper beneath my vertical, and my horizontal jumping skills are just as horrendous. I’ve suffered from hundreds of wet socks, and several glares from passerby’s of “What in the world are you doing?”

I have always been a clumsy runner. In college, I had to sit out for Cross-Country for a week because I accidentally ran into a flower pot downtown. I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed than when I had to report to the trainer and my coach that I literally could hardly walk as a result of a few flowers.

Yesterday, I ran outside for the first fun time in forever, and. at first, I felt fantastic. It has not been warm for long, so there were not any frightening flowers in sight. I truly felt on top of the world while replacing my winter warpaint with shorts. I also had company, and didn’t feel crazy. I no longer felt like someone’s weird Grandma Betty, who everyone kindly waves to, while also whispering about her behind her back “That lady is so strange. Are you sure, she’s you know, ok?” I ran longer than I have in awhile, and felt like I could continue forever.

Until I got cocky.

I saw a huge puddle, and did not feel the need to show off my spectacular long jumping skills. I ran straight through, without even missing a beat. I think the “We are the Champions” that had just been playing had gotten to my head.

The lyrics did end up to be quite fitting. I had mud on my face, and was a big disgrace.

The puddle was in fact ice, and I fell backward HARD, hitting my head on the concrete. Fortunately, I was fine, besides the bump on my head and the bruise on my ego.

After my fall, I became that girl once more. I had a mile left of my run, and finished it off with my shirt completely soaked, my hair looking as if I had just placed my hand in a light socket.

 

At this moment, I wished for the winter.

Resolutions? 2010 vs. 2014

I am a pack rat. I have difficulty giving up almost anything. Case in point: I contemplated tossing a sparkly, silver headband for several seconds yesterday. I struggled just as intensely with a perfume bottle that is broken. I also contemplated tossing the twenty or so business cards that I accumulated on my journalism trip to New York CIty, which happened in 2008. The fact that I: 1.) Have a job and 2.) Doubt that the majority of these business cards are current and 3.) Had no interest in some of the cards 6 years ago–should say something about my saving savviness.

Although the business card for the assistant editor of “Prevention” magazine may now be in the trash, there is something else that I find actually useful to recycle: Resolutions. Back when I wrote on this more regularly (clearly my posting pledge last year was a supreme success), I was really into resolutions. I was also very into numbers (Apparently, the amount of each resolutions must match the year: ’10, ’11, ’13). However, this year, rather than making up new ones; I’ve decided to revisit the past. 

Here is what I wrote in 2010. The status of where I’m at with each of these resolutions 4 years later is below:

A sidenote. I just found my first pictures of 2010 and the blizzard that happened at the end of 2009. I’m glad that the idea to be blonde was very temporary, and I think that the fact that I received frostbite from running outside in the cold last week shows that I’m just as wise about winter warmth.

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I am horrible at making lists. I love assignment notebooks—unfortunately, I don’t actually use them. I’m great at purchasing, but completely fail at making them purposeful. My assignment notebooks stay blank, and my head gets the burden of recalling the information that a handy spiral would do so much better.

But my head is overworked. I need my head for recalling the “important” information—like random Psychological theories for an exam that I will promptly forget the moment I put down my pencil.

The same goes for goals. I’m always thinking about them, but never write them down. So this year, I’m writing my yearly goals down. Like nearly everyone else who is not Superman/woman, my resolutions are usually short-lived. But perhaps writing it down will make them stick. Here’s my 10 for ’10:

1.) Use an assignment notebook. I spent $10 for an overpriced Drake University assignment notebook that is tattered, but unused. All that it contains is a few birthdays, and the date of an upcoming exam. A date which I put down only because I was bored in class.

2014: I have a brand new 2014 planner. It is untouched…but I think it may happen on this “freeze day” that I’m currently experienced (-40 with the wind chill!)

2.) Cook for other people. I love to cook—for myself, that is. I’m still a bit timid to take on a dinner party, or even a table for two.

2014: My fiancee, Brent, and I DO share cooking! Success!

3.) Drink one caffeine beverage per day. Ok, I’ve already failed at this so let’s go for two.

2014: HA!

4.) Read an average of a book for fun per week by the year end. I kept a Book List for 2009, and I think I read around 34. 52 would be a feat, but I think I can do it.

2014: I really wish this were the case…I do read MANY, MANY pages of student work each week though…so hopefully that counts for something! I’m feeling a serious change come summer.

5.) Be able to do 100 push-ups without stopping. I have no idea whether this is actually achievable, but 100 seems to be my Holy Grail. I’ve started ’10 doing daily push-ups to see how far I can push myself. I’m currently sitting at 25. 100 seems ridiculous, but if “The Biggest Loser” contestants can train and run a marathon, I should be able to train my triceps.

2014: I had a brief period in 2013 where I did P-90x and probably could do this. Now, my arms tremble after 10.

6.) Stop eating when I’m full. I am awful at this. I snack immediately after I finish eating, even though I’m clearly not hungry. Before I know it, I’ve polished off a half a box of Wheat Thins after finishing a complete meal. Terrible for my spending. Even worse for my stomach.

2014: Yeah…definitely not achieved. However, I’m surprisingly no longer a huge fan of Wheat Thins?!

7.) Be able to touch my toes. Sad, I know. I used to be in tumbling, and can no longer touch my toes without grunting. This needs to change, if only so I am not embarrassed when the 8-year olds I teach at The Little Gym are in the straddle splits, and I’m struggling to clutch my calves.

2014: Grunting does not even help me touch my toes now.

8.) Solve every day of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Honestly, this probably won’t happen for years. How am I supposed to know who won the 1957 Stanley Cup, or who was the winner of the 1972 Nobel Peace Prize? Let’s hope my brain adopts a Jack-esque complex.

2014: Ah, I MISS attempting this every day! I used to get a free paper to do daily while at Drake (not that I EVER hid that I was doing that during class). I don’t miss seeing the several blank squares upon “completion”🙂

9.) Land a (real) job. Although I currently have 4 jobs, none of them sound “adultish”—I’m a Children’s Fitness Instructor/Birthday Specialist, Tutor, Nanny, and Freelancer. I wouldn’t mind the “adult” part much, if they actually made money.  Once I graduate, I’d like to have a job where I could jet to Jamacia if I so chose without being immediately bankrupt. A girl can dare to dream.

2014: DONE! I am a teacher, yearbook adviser, and Assistant Cross-Country coach. I couldn’t be happier!

10.) Drink more wine. I know, I know. I should be resolving to drink less, not more. But at least if I switch from wine to beer, I can sound more “adult.” Sure, I’m a nanny, but I drink wine. Clearly, I’m mature.

2014: According to this, I most certainly am now more “adult”🙂

I’m not necessarily resolving to do much different this year. Four years later, several of my goals are the similar. Yet unlike in 2010, I’ve come to the point where I’m not disappointed if these fall short. I am very well-aware of where I could improve (among many others!) and I always strive to be better! However, ultimately, I’m a genuinely positive person who finds joy in simple things.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking while driving and came up with this:

“It’s easy to complain. We fret about people, professions, paychecks, and our inability to be perfect. We get frustrated over the cold and our commutes. We spend time worrying about what others think. Each day, it is simple to be stressed. However, there are so many more things to be grateful for. At the end of the day, it is not about perfection. It is all about perception.”

Perception is my new resolution🙂

 

A posting pledge

In today’s world, “creeping on” people is normal. We have news feeds on Facebook. We can “follow” anyone’s tweets. We feel instant connections to friends, celebrities, and classmates that we have not seen since we were 17. We feel “out of the loop” if we don’t know that a friend of a friend of a friend’s friend who once visited us at college that one time had a baby.

We “know” the name’s of our acquaintances kids, husbands, and jobs. We know what sports team they support. We know what they make for dinner.

Back in the day, the most intrusive you could get was following someone’s Xanga. If you grew up in the early 2000s, you probably remember that gem. It was an online diary, where people posted their thoughts, emotions, and could “connect” with other bloggers. I’m certain several people reaped many benefits from it. However, I just looked up whether it still existed and the top post of the day was “Girl’s on all fours.” Let’s just say these are emotions I’d prefer not to read about…

Instead of posting, I just cautiously creeped. I have never been very stealthy, but I quickly realized a hidden gem to these diaries: There was absolutely no way that anyone could know you visited. No disguise was necessary

The idea of having my own online diary was definitely NOT on my radar back in the day. I did keep a real diary from time to time, but my entries always started out with something like “Hey diary! Long time no see!” or “Guess what, diary? I am on a plane right now!”I also thought wearing my tattered blanket as a dress was the coolest costume ever. There are many things in that statement that say alot about me.

When I was in elementary school, I thought that you ALWAYS had to address your audience…even if you were the only one reading it. In fact, I still think this sometimes, because in the hallway at school I address every person I see by their first name. Obviously, calling someone by their first name is great. However, it gets a bit exhausting when you encounter hundreds of students in a hallway and you say things like “HiHannahLaurenTaylorJohnAnthonyTJ” throughout an entire five-minute passing period.

When I was younger, I was even nervous about divulging anything to my own diary. I never told the diary if I had a crush. In fact, I remember one time I revealed my friend’s crush in my diary and I felt like THAT was going too far and almost tore out that entry.

My younger self would be embarrassed by the fact that I own a blog, and would also probably be a bit ashamed that I am still definitely not cool.

I still find pleasure in things that kids can accomplish.

I still find pleasure in things that kids can accomplish.

However, my younger self would also realize the following: I am still a pack rat, and love holding onto things. There is a reason why I didn’t give up every pair of overalls I owned until I was in college and why I still possess the entire Baby Sitter’s Club series.

Tell me you thought these items were as cool as I did.

Tell me you thought these items were as cool as I did.img-thing

I want to maintain a hold of things, and that’s why I blog.

Everything has moved at a rapid pace. All of a sudden, I’m 25 and teaching teenagers who love to “tweet” and “text”–concepts that were completely foreign to me when I thought white overall shorts were the coolest thing in the universe. I know millions of people that are getting married and having kids. I want to get better at keeping track of all of these memories, and this is a great place to do it.

Here is my attempt to post more on here. It may be daily, or maybe weekly. But I can assure you that it will be far more frequently. I can also assure you that what I promise to divulge far more embarrassing details about myself than anyone else…most of the time.

13 for ’13

I have several quirks that involve numbers. I have to have the volume number of the TV on an even number or a five. If a clock is visible, I cannot go to sleep on an odd number either. (Yes, this really does involve me staring at the clock until it is even). I also love ‘doubles.’ Although it happens twice per day (for a total number of times of 730 most years), I still experience a twinge of excitement whenever I see the clock read ’11:11.’

Because of my quirks involving odd numbers, I’m not quite excited that it is 2013. I enjoyed the fact that it was 2011, because 11 is my favorite number (I know: That statement pretty much discredits my expression of dislike for odd digits). Yet although that I’m not pumped that this year is odd, I am determined to make it the best one yet. My resolutions the past few years haven’t been that fantastic. Like most of America, I’ve been fantastic about maintaining them…until January 3rd.

But this year, I’m determined. I’ve decided to approach resolutions from a different perspective. My resolutions and I are not married, or in a relationship that requires diligent dedication. Rather, my resolutions are similar to a “speed date.” I’m dedicated to “meeting” all of them once. However, that doesn’t mean that I have spend hours upon end with them to see if there’s chemistry. There may be some where I am instantly attracted. Others may be akin to speed dating someone with garlic breath and a tendency to talk two centimeters from your face.
Of course, I won’t consider it cheating if I like more than one.

1.) Send family members and friends cards. E-mail and Facebook are great. However, a “Happy Birthday!” notification on Facebook doesn’t have the same effect as seeing that hand-written, individually selected card in the mail.

2.) Buy the coffee of the person behind me in line. I have a serious caffeine addiction that causes me to spend WAY too much on coffee. I love the idea of surprising someone with a drink at some point.

3.) Give cashiers compliments. Sometimes, cashiers spend a day dealing with dissatisfaction. Giving them a compliment is simple, but can make a difference in their demeanor.

4.) Keep my email (more) organized. The fact that I currently have 10,465 emails in my g-mail should speak for itself.

5.) Learn how to sew. This has been my resolution for the past few years. However, the fact that I STILL asked my grandma over Christmas break to hem a pair of pants for me proves that I have been clearly unsuccessful. I’d prefer not to have the sewing skills of a seven year old.

6.) Go to church ALMOST every week. I’ve recently gotten back into the routine of going to church frequently. I really, really enjoy going. However, I know that certain times things will happen that prevent me from successfully attending each week. I’m going to try my best to make it happen as much as possible.

7.) Learn how to make a fancy dish. I’d like to be able to make something that involves more than three ingredients.

8.) Visit friends and family in different states. I already have a few trips in the works!

9.) Preform random acts of kindness for people that I care about. This could involve many, many things. I’m excited about the possibilities there, and already have some ideas!

10.) Compete in several races. Ok, running is something that I already love doing, so it is sort of an easy “resolution.” However, I plan to push myself in other races this year, like running a Tough Mudder (anyone who has seen me wince while lifting the bar at the gym KNOWS that anything that involves strength is out of my comfort zone).

11.) Go on spontaneous trips. This could involve a week, weekend, a day, or simply an hour. I like the idea of going somewhere without it being planned weeks in advance, which is pretty perfect for me considering that my next resolution is…

12.) Procrastinate less. I get a HUGE thrill out of accomplishing things at the last minute. This can be a HUGE problem. In fact, I am procrastinating doing work for school by writing this post right now.

13.) Just enjoy life. This is so simple, but it encompasses everything else.

What do you resolve to do this year?

Simple things that make me struggle

There are some things that everyone would consider an accomplishment. Completing an iron man. Winning an Olympic medal. Starring in a movie. Receiving a noble prize.

Although achieving any of the above items would be awesome, I’d be satisfied if I successfully completed a few things that are a bit simpler. None of the items will earn me a medal or trophy. In fact, they are items that many toddlers can in fact accomplish with ease.

Staying awake during a movie. Regardless of whether the TV volume is at 100, the actors are screaming, or I’m in a room with twenty people talking, if there is a movie on, there is a 95% chance I’ve fallen asleep. The strange thing about this? I’m typically a terrible sleeper, and it is nearly impossible for me to fall asleep in a car or on a plane. However, if there is a screen, you can guarantee I’ll fall asleep after only a few scenes.

Tying my shoes (without using bunny ears). I completely missed the lesson on how to successfully tie your shoes without looking like you’re three. The thought of a single loop leaves me completely lost. Several people have attempted to teach me this skill, including the 4-8 year olds that I used to coach.

Being able to tell when something is too hot. Package directions almost always give you a “cooling” time. This is an instruction that I completely ignore. While others sip slowly on their Starbucks for hours, I heat up my coffee directly when it comes out of the microwave and gulp it down within minutes. I completely ignore the steam pouring off the cup nearly to the ceiling. Then, I burn the roof of my mouth nearly every time. I have also been known to eat cookies within the second of them coming out of the oven. When soup on the stove top has more bubbles than a bath, I’ve decided it is hot enough.

Knowing how to dress weather-appropriately. When kids are young, they learn the importance of wearing a coat when it is cold. I completely missed that memo. If it is sunny out, my first instinct is to wear shorts. The only time I wear a scarf is when there are several inches of snow. There are far too many times where someone has loaned me their warm items based on my ignorance. Most recently, I wore shorts and a t-shirt to a Cross-Country meet where it was forty degrees. I had to borrow a sweatshirt from a dad and pants from one of the girls. The next week? I was given gloves by another one of the girls after several of them commented “LOONEY! What in the world happened to your hands?!”

Are there some simple skills that you struggle with?

Crazy for Katniss

I get scared more easily than almost anyone you’ve ever met.

I had nightmares about Ursula, the evil, creepy sea lady from The Little Mermaid, when I was little. Actually, I was still scared of her when I hit double digits. To be fair, I still find her frightening.

I’m not scared of spiders even slightly, but her tentacles make me want to stand on top of a washing machine and scream.

I also have a habit of talking through nearly every scary movie. I am not, however, debating the fine points of the plot, but, rather, trying to distract myself from clawing my fingernails into whoever I am sitting next to. Of course, I’ve probably already bitten my fingernails off from fright at this point.

Growing up, I always asked to share a room. I can’t remember where the fear of sleeping alone in a room started, but neither of my sisters enjoyed this much. Let’s just say my sister Stacy often would sleep with two sweatshirts on.

My ability to be easily scared has proved to be surprising recently: I have been reading The Hunger Games and, like much of America, I have gotten completely wrapped up. The premise of the story is brutal. The story takes place a few hundred years from now, during a time where North America is completely obliterated. The Capitol, who is in control, has divided the area into 12 districts (once 13, but District 13 is in ruins) and forces every district to send one boy and girl (called “tributes”) to compete in “The Hunger Games.” The boys and girls (aged from 12-18) are selected based on a lottery system.

Only this is a lottery that no one desires to win.

The Capitol treats “The Hunger Games” as a glorified Olympics. The people in charge stay glued to their TVs and bet on the victor. There is an elaborate opening ceremony, and several prizes for the winner. However, no one dreams of taking part, and the results leave most in agony. The reason? The tributes fight to the death in the event, and only one of the 24 survives.

I love reading nearly anything—I sure would hope so, being an English teacher!—yet let’s just say this book wasn’t on my “must-read” list when I first heard about it. During high school anatomy class, I received an alternative assignment when my class viewed a surgery on a TV during class because I was so squeamish that my teacher was afraid I was going to be sick during class.

Yet I have gotten completely wrapped up in the brutal games. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is a great female heroine. I don’t want to say much more, because the experience is far better simply if you read it. I really hope that the movie does her story justice.

The story has something that everyone can enjoy—even those who typically hate reading.  Even those, who, like me, sometimes cringe when I see dolls because they remind me of Chucky.

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think? 

The strangest products you’ve ever seen

I have always been a sucker for infomercials. I used to be unable to fall asleep when I was younger, and the only thing that could cure me was the sweet lull of ladies named Sally who could somehow sweetly convince you to buy a carton of cat food—even if you didn’t actually own a cat.

Although I’ve purchased a few products from infomercials that I regretted immediately afterward, I enjoyed infomercials mostly for their ridiculousness. Whenever I discover a new strange product, I get a little giddy. I’m not talking “snuggie” strange—I mean products that don’t keep you warm, but rather, make you wonder who in the world would ever purchase this. I recently discovered a few that literally made me laugh out loud. If you stumble upon anyone with any of these items, please contact me. Immediately.

  • I can’t say I’ve ever fantasized about having facial hair. However, if I did, I’d want it to look exactly like this.

  • This could be perhaps be my favorite invention EVER. Who needs friends to laugh with these days when you can simply buy a box of applause?!
  • I enjoy get a bit of sun as much as the next person. However, I can’t say that I’ve ever panicked about my feet being pale. Nor have I imagined spending 3 easy payments of $79 in order to have tanned toes.
  • Who needs jewelry when you can wear wine on your neck?

What are some of the strangest products you’ve ever seen? Have you ever purchased any of these products?