Running is a lot like life

I recently started reading a book by a local runner appropriately named The Incomplete Book of Running by Peter Sagal. Even within the first chapter, I saw that this book wasn’t just about running. It’s way more, and running is way more than just running.

You have good days and bad days in running. Some days, the weather’s perfect and so is your pace. You feel like you could run forever and a day. Your feet feel like they’re running on clouds and there’s a stupid smile pasted on your face. These are the days we look forward to and hope for.

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But then there are the bad days. The weather is cold, wet or dreary. Your feet feel like they’re weighing you down. You can barely look ahead let alone up and above the dreaded horizon. Each step is felt and you count them until your last step. You have to push yourself every step of the way, and don’t even think about your pace because that’s a lost cause. If it’s bad enough, you might even consider quitting running for good.

And these days don’t just apply to running for fun, but also race days. You can train and prepare and get to the start line on race day only for everything to fall apart between the start and finish line. Now think about life. Life is the same way. We have good days and bad days. We train and prepare hard for certain things. And sometimes, hopefully usually, we are successful. But nothing is guaranteed. We may fail, but it’s up to us to get back up and dust ourselves off.

You may not finish that marathon, or you might have a terrible running day or streak of days. Or maybe even weeks, months, years. But those running shoes will be waiting for you to lace them up and try, try again.

What keeps you going?

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My two cents on today’s news

The news and social media have been full of politics lately. Usually Trump-related but this morning I watched a video where a group of young kids wearing “Make America Great Again” hats stood and mocked a Native American as he sang a song of unity while steadily beating his drum. If you somehow missed this headline, you can read the story here.

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I couldn’t help but start crying as the kid stood in Nathan Phillip’s face with a smirk across his face. My heart broke for the indigenous people, the veterans who have fought so long and so hard just for unity and peace. As these Trump supporters were chanting “Build that wall,” I feel like they are the ones who should be on the outside of that wall they want so much. If you think about it, Nathan and his ancestors were here first. Out of anyone, they should be the ones wanting to kick everyone else out. But instead, they march for peace and unity. They’re singing songs urging participants to “be strong” against the ravages of colonialism that include police brutality, poor access to health care and the ill effects of climate change on reservations.

Watch the video and see that the kids don’t allow Nathan to move and taunt him the entire time. Nathan said he felt the spirit was talking through him. He didn’t back down and he didn’t stop even in the face of fear.

The saddest part of this story is that those kids were there on a field trip for school. They were there to support the pro-choice movement March for Life. What they’re supposed to be standing up for: life, and yet here they are saying build a wall and kick people out of our nation.

I don’t know about you, but when did only certain lives matter? And if that were the case, why not be pro-choice. In that regard, you could choose who lives and who dies. Which would avoid the need for the wall in the first place.

And I grew up catholic. Actually, I grew up Pro-Life and had this March of Life been about 20 years ago, I would’ve loved to had been there marching for life. But never would you have caught me anywhere near what these kids did. Being pro life means that you value every life, no matter their race, gender, background, or family. Growing up I was taught to love everyone. I had friends from many different nationalities, and aspired to learn as much as I could about other cultures and traditions as I could.

What do you think about this video?

And I’ll conclude with this quote from Nathan that I agree with:

“That energy could be turned into feeding the people, cleaning up our communities and figuring out what else we can do,” Phillips said. “We need the young people to be doing that instead of saying, ‘These guys are our enemies.’ ”

My bucket list

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There are some things in life that are always evolving and changing. One of those things for me has been my bucket list. I’ve put things on this list, checked some things off it, and feel like it’s always a work in progress. What do I want to do next type of thing. Without further ado..

  • Go skydiving (again)
  • Visit Taiwan with Joyce
  • Visit Australia and New Zealand (find the hobbits)
  • Visit Egypt/pyramids
  • Help those in need in my local community
  • Help those in need overseas – thinking Africa but open to where-ever God leads me.
  • Run a sub 5 hour marathon.
  • Run another destination race.
  • See the northern lights
  • Visit Machu Picchu.
  • Attend Comic Con.
  • Visit London, Greece, France and Spain.
  • Learn a martial art (continue my Kung Fu or find something new)
  • Learn how to meditate.
  • Learn how to practice mindfulness.
  • Fall in love.
  • Have a destination wedding.
  • Become a mom.
  • Buy a brand new car.
  • Start and own a business.
  • Work for myself.
  • Achieve financial freedom.
  • Drive Route 66
  • Go ziplining.
  • Kayak with whales
  • Run the New York Marathon
  • Go skinny dipping.
  • Volunteer abroad.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  • Meet Gwen Stefani
  • See Gwen perform again, either solo or with No Doubt

What are your bucket list items?

What I want to be when I grow up

Growing up, I had big dreams. At first, I wanted to be a teacher. But in middle school I realized I didn’t like kids/students and actually really loved animals. From that point on, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But not any vet, one who owned her own practice and saved every animal she possibly could. It wasn’t a lavish life, one where maybe I’d have to work hard but I figured all that hard work would pay off. I would own my own business and not have to answer to anyone.

Years later, reality hits. It started in High School when my counselor put in my head that I wasn’t smart enough (i.e. grades not good enough) to get into Veterinary School. This was Freshman year, years before even applying to college let alone vet school. But I was determined. My B-average was just that… B average. I studied hard and even took an Advanced Placement class and test. I had a rocky senior year and had to write the letter of my life to still go to University of Illinois, but they let me attend and 4 years later I walked away with my degree, along with that solid B average GPA.

Guess my counselor was right, not a single veterinary school out of the 5 I applied to even considered me for an interview. Yet I persisted. I moved back home and enrolled in some classes at the local community college in order to try and get my very average 3.0 GPA up a little. And I applied to 13 schools instead of only 5. This time around I was invited to two interviews, and placed on two wait-lists. After not being chosen, I decided to enroll in Grad School to once again hopefully increase my GPA.

Working full-time as a Veterinary Assistant and attending school full-time was very interesting. After years of long days full of sick animals, classes, and creating and writing a thesis, reality hit. I no longer had the same passion and dream to be a veterinarian. So now what?

Over the past 5 years, I’ve dabbled in so many different career fields but they all have a common theme: I love helping others. Whether that’s helping people with their computer, school subject, ACT, SAT, beloved pet, fitness goals, laboratory equipment, gym equipment, or anything else. As long as I’m helping someone else, I’m happy. I didn’t need a Master’s degree to realize this, but it appears like I needed to venture away from my long-time dream to discover just who I want to be when I grow up.

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I want to be a helper. But even more than that, I want to create an asset where I’m in control, helping people and being paid for it. You’re either helping build someone else’s asset or your building your own. While I enjoy what I do, at the end of the day I’m still answering to someone else. I want to be free when I grow up: have financial freedom and be happy in what I do everyday.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This day in history

Did you know that on this day in 1970, Elvis Presley’s single “Suspicious Minds” hit #1 in the U.K.?

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Who cares, right? Well my mom was a HUGE fan of Elvis Presley so she definitely cared, especially back in the 70s. And she came to mind recently. I actually dreamed about her and Will Smith last night. I know, random. But Will and I were just chilling and I was telling him how much my mom loved him. He was the nicest celebrity ever, and really interesting to talk to. But also really relaxed.

I don’t even know if my mom loved Will Smith as much as I do. Growing up with the Fresh Prince, maybe he is my Elvis Presley. Except he didn’t die so young like Elvis did, thankfully. They weren’t really similar but for some reason my mind mushed them together last night in my dreams.

So to Elvis and my mom! And Will Smith who hopefully will live forever. Because he’s just awesome. 🙂

Love yourself challenge

Simple post today. I challenge you to post up your favorite recent picture of yourself and write down a snippet of what you love about yourself. Try to find a picture from the last year or so. Can be a physical attribute or something in relation to your personality. Try to write the first thing that comes to mind and embrace it. Then comment here or on social media with the link to your post.

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I love this picture because it’s artsy, but also because it shows that hard work pays off. I love my legs, arms and shoulders. I work hard on them and loving the results.

Now post up your picture! 🙂

A hair above the rest

Growing up, I was cute but cuteness only went so far in school. I had my parent’s genetics to deal with. Some things you just can’t control, like crooked teeth or bad eyesight. I was born blind but my parents didn’t notice until I was in Kindergarten. I blame that on my smartness, I just faked it till I made it, or at least until I could no longer make it. Like when my mom asked me what time it was and I admitted that I couldn’t read the clock. Glasses it is!

Just looking at my dad, you could tell my teeth were doomed after seeing that I got his flat brown hair and poo-colored eyes. Braces were inevitable, but even metal mouth and extra large glasses were bearable compared to… my hair.

My hair was an oil pit. Especially once I entered middle school. It was that type of hair that literally would hit 24 hours after washing and turn into grease city. I’m talking did you pour a bottle of olive oil on your head and expect to make friends? Quite the opposite happened. I got made fun of all the time. To the point where my lazy 7th grader self was forced to wash my hair every day or suffer the consequences.

It was 50/50. And a part of me kept thinking maybe I could train my hair to last longer than 24 hours. Ain’t nobody got time to be washing and drying long stringy brown hair everyday. As I got older, I ended up caving in and washing as often as possible, sometimes twice a day. Throughout high school and college, I struggled to try and extend my hair life beyond the 24 hours it typically lasted. Even with advice from wiser women who would go DAYS, and I mean like 3-5 days without washing their hair, I still struggled. I finally discovered dry shampoo, but even that only gave me another day or two. At least I was improving, but it just wasn’t enough.

It likely didn’t help that I lived an active lifestyle full of jogging, martial arts, and other forms of torturous cardio/strength training activities. As recent as a few months ago, I was working out 5-6 times a week and still ended up washing my hair every 2-3 days. Still too often, and my hair still wasn’t at it’s prime since I was going through dry shampoo like water.

PicsArt_01-15-03.10.38.jpgThat’s when I discovered Monat. My friend gave me a bunch of samples and I put it to the test. From the first wash, my hair was beautiful for 4 days. On the 4th day, my lazy bum self used dry shampoo and made it to day 5. Not only did it look good, it felt and smelled even better. If I had a boyfriend, no doubt he would have his nose in my hair. But instead I just couldn’t stop touching my hair. I was beyond excited and actually looked forward to washing my hair again. Because of how long my hair went, the samples lasted me weeks. Which is unheard of. I was sold after going to a Monat hair washing and brunch event, where they transformed my hair in just one washing. While the shampoo isn’t the cheapest, it easily lasts 3-4 months if not longer. I purchased my first bottle back in November and have barely made a dent. I expect it to last yet another 3 months from now.PicsArt_01-15-03.16.08.jpg

And trust me, I’ve spent the same amount if not more on shampoo that lasted half that time. And normally I don’t spoil myself. Actually, I’m still sometimes in that college-kid mindset where the idea of spending any money on myself outside of food and gas is instantly rejected. But I will say that the dollars spent on Monat were well worth it. Every week, when I wash my hair once or maybe twice, I feel a change in my hair for the better. I get excited when I see other people’s hair improving as well. And the stories are endless. But don’t just take it from me, give it a shot. We all wash our hair anyways, why not try a sample and see if it’s for you?

Never split the difference

As a step in improving myself, I recently read a book about negotiation and confrontation written by Chris Voss, FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator. At first you might think what does FBI negotiation have anything to do with life? Actually, it applies to so many situations it’s not even funny. For example, when negotiating your salary with your employer or interviewer. Actually, someone used this book to increase his salary from 150k to over 300k! Once I heard that, I sat down and read this book. If someone could double their salary just from reading this book, what else could be gained from it?

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From reading about different techniques to different types of negotiators, I learned that there’s a lot to learn about making a deal. And at the end of the day, the biggest lesson I pulled from this book is to listen to your counterpart and relate to them. Even if it’s as little as sharing that you went to the same school or have the same interest/hobby. I’ve always known that building rapport is important in sales and life, but this humanizes you within a negotiation. It helps you no longer look like a shark trying to take all their money.

I also learned key tactics to drop an extreme anchor and move towards your goal in decreasing increments. I.e. say you want to keep your rent the same despite an increase, or even decrease it slightly. You’re currently paying $1000 but your landlord wants to increase it to $1200 with the lease renewal. After doing your market research, you see that $1200 is on the high end of the rent range in your area. While you could find another place at $1000, you love your current place and would rather not move. After careful budgeting calculations, you find that you could afford $1050 a month tops. But you’d rather pay less.

When sitting down with your landlord, be sure to say no without saying no. And start with saying how great the place is, how wonderful they are, and how you’ve always paid rent on time. After getting that out of the way, tell them that while you’d love to stay, the new rent doesn’t fit in your budget and is high for the market. While you could easily find another place for less, you’d rather not leave such a great building and location. Drop an extreme anchor: after thorough research and looking at your budget, you can only afford $900. Wait for a response. Usually they will say no way but counter with something, hopefully lower than $1200. If they come in at your goal of $1050, don’t get too excited. You could negotiate lower still. Say something that while that is a better price, it’s still putting you in a bind. You can even pull out some paper or your phone and say you’re figuring out just how much you can afford. Using exact amounts makes it seem like you really are counting every penny. Come back with I can afford exactly $985.35. Something very exact makes it seem like you really did calculate the amount. You may be able to negotiate your rent to be even lower than what you’re currently paying!

When negotiating salary, it’s best to let the employer make the initial offer. This way you know what range they’re thinking. A lot of us are too eager to give a range, but your employer may be thinking even higher than the amount you’re thinking. If they come in lower than what you’re thinking, you will have had done your research for the job. Usually Glassdoor and/or Google are good resources to see a range of what your position should pay. If you’re aiming for the top of the range, still give a range. Be sure to be ok with getting paid at the bottom of your range. I.e. you want to make a minimum of 150k, put your range as 150-175k or something similar.

I definitely plan on utilizing these skills in my life. I’m facing a situation in my job where I have to negotiate salary, becoming a permanent employee, and maternity leave all in one. Normally I’d be worried, but feel more confident and prepared thanks to this book. My journey’s no where near done, actually it’s just starting. But I love good books that push me further.

Do you have any books you’ve read and recommend?

Process of writing from the heart

Lately I’ve had so many compliments and questions in regards to my writings. A big question I received recently was how long have I been blogging? And my answer was that I’ve been writing almost my entire life. I even had a diary in elementary school! But to be completely honest, it took a long time to write from the heart. And ever since, my posts have become more relatable and easier to read.

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But the process of writing from the heart isn’t one I take lightly. I do thorough research before sharing just whatever’s on my mind. While it is enticing to just write what’s on my mind, I also want to make sure I don’t put my readers to sleep. So before sharing a particular post in regards to a certain topic, I do my research. I enjoy reading books, other blog posts, and articles that are related to the topic. This way I learn what works and what doesn’t work. Was what I read engaging and interesting? Or did it put me to sleep? Also, how many comments and shares is it getting?

Trending topics are easy to find and write about, but sometimes I like to push myself to write about a less-talked about topic. When doing so, I am sure to read a little more and take a little extra time to do my research. I’m old-school and will hit up my local library to check out books related to the topic. I also will do a few google searches to see if I can find blogs or news articles related to the topic, even if the articles are a few years old. When applying what I read and learn to my writings, I’m sure to update them to make the topics more current and interesting for my readers.

While writing from the heart may not be for everyone, I’ve found that it’s brought a lot more traffic to my personal blog than any other type of post. But I’m not here for the traffic. Instead, I’m here to share my stories and help others in need. At the end of the day, even if I only help one person I feel like my goal is being accomplished.

What’s your process when it comes to writing? I’m always looking to improve, so share away.

Dating and the reason I’m taking a break

“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
― Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City

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To channel Candace, I leaped head-first into the dating scene after the divorce in 2017 with the idea that I could find someone worthy and willing to be my boyfriend. See as it had been 7+ years since I was last in the dating scene, I was oh-so-wrong. The closest I got was a guy too emotionally devolved to ever come close to being in a healthy relationship let alone healthy enough being alone. After dealing with him for several months, I finally let go and decided to move on in early 2018.

But my luck in dating has been non-existent. While I’ve had fun, I can tell you that every guy I liked in 2018 ended up ghosting me or rejecting me. And the best date of the entire year? Let me tell you about it.

There was this guy, a regular at the gym where I was working. From the moment I saw him, I thought he was cute. Tall, muscular, and luscious hair. But it wasn’t until we talked and I learned that he was from a town most people wouldn’t know but that I was all too familiar with it that we connected. Several weeks later, I gather up the guts to finally ask for his digits. We agree to go out for coffee on a Saturday afternoon. We meet and talk for several hours, until the coffee shop closes and kicks us out. I head home to walk my dog, but can’t get him off my mind. I somehow convince him to meet up with me again, later on that night for a drink. We meet and have some margaritas, and then head back to his place which just so happens to be within walking distance. When we get there, he shows me around and puts a record on after showing me his collection. He’s an old soul and somehow his points increase.

His room-mate comes home and makes a joke about interrupting something sexual, and the guy laughs and closes the door. But then things get serious, and he tells me that he has to be honest with me. Despite having an amazing day, he’s not looking for anything serious or to even date right now. Despite this not being what I wanted to hear, I was glad for his honesty. And had no regrets, since it was by far one of the best days I had in a long while.

And at least he didn’t ghost me. We’re actually still friends. It’s pretty awesome actually. He’s pretty awesome, and I’m glad I met him. But I’m going to take it as a sign, 2018 wasn’t the year for me to find the right guy, and to start off 2019 I decided to take a break from the dating scene. Deleted all the dating apps (ok I was only on one) and successfully ignoring all the dingbats asking me out. What’s it about pregnant chicks and guys wanting to date them? Is that a thing?

Anyways, so far 2019 has been way better. Feels like a weight lifted off my chest. And I know when the timing’s right, the right guy for me will walk into my life. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my time spent with my real soulmates: my girlfriends. 🙂