Goals of Remembrance Past

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As I was assessing my lackluster progress on this year’s goals, I went back and checked my previous year’s “bucket lists” and realized that some of those goals from almost three years ago are impacting my life today. And that I could even cross a couple of the “didn’t happen” ones from previous years off. Today we take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of my the goals of 2012 and 2013.

 

Ohhhhh 2012. You were a difficult year, and I’m glad we have parted ways. We spent most of the time on crutches and experimenting with various forms of glucosamine supplements. But we had our good times, too…

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1. GUNS: Although my goal of learning to properly shoot a handgun was more that I was hoping to start shooting at a range on a regular basis, I did get to shoot at the FBI range this spring with real FBI instructors. I think if my goal was to simply learn how to shoot properly, then I could technically cross this one off now.

2. PODCASTING: Holy crap! I can’t believe that I didn’t even know how to make an mp3 of a podcast just a few years ago! This summer I presented how to actually make a podcast at a conference. I believe the technical term would be, “The student has surpassed the teacher.”

8: SNOWSHOEING: Hey, I actually own snowshoes now, and I’m already plotting this winter’s outings. You like that?

10. DOLLHOUSE: It was my first venture with submitting a craft to the state fair…but it certainly wasn’t the last. My dollhouse furniture is currently on display at the 2014 state fair AT THIS VERY MOMENT. (And no, I won’t be attempting to go pick it up.)

21. BINGO: Dudes! Did I tell you I won a whopping $125 at bingo the other night?! While the bowling team was not near the fun I had hoped, bingo has become a favorite pastime for not just myself, but many of my other nerdy friends.

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Moving on to 2013…I had a year of bucket listing under my belt. My goals got even weirder, and I had even more fun.

 

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13. CAKE: The four-layered rainbow cake is now my party specialty. I’ve made several for my students (who always oooohhhh and ahhhhhh one a slice comes out), and I’ve experimented with different types of filling and frosting. Perhaps it should be next year’s state fair submission.

15: WORKSHOPS: Wow, this one still has me speechless. Was it really only a year and half ago that I was hoping to get more opportunities to teach teachers? Because this summer I spent a week working with Corwin on a new, amazing team to lead PD around the country. 

17 & 22: ADMIN/JOB: The funny thing is, I have no desire to be a principal anymore. Yeah, I got my license and I worked REALLY hard for it (like harder than anyone I personally know because I had a completely manipulative and toxic mentor), being on Corwin team is the perfect fit. An up-to-date post on this whole thing is coming soon…

23. ACADEMY: I never could have guessed that the Sheriff’s Citizen Academy would have led me to the FBI Citizen Academy, where I’m now and official alum and I’m hoping to visit Quantico next summer. In addition, I just signed up to be the snack-master for the current sheriff’s academy recruits.

 

Of course there are other things that I didn’t mention. I’m still running and doing push ups and making marshmallows and even dabbling in the stock market. Whether you’ve slacked on your goals for 1 week or 1 year, just because it didn’t happen like you wanted it to in your head doesn’t mean it can never happen. Some of my goals changed over time, but the point is that several really evolved organically into something bigger.

Get out there. Get those goals.

Books of August

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Oh the last month of summer. The last month I can read a book by the pool.

I have to say that making the goal of reading three books a month seems not that challenging, but at the same time it is. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to read, and some are legitimate…but having this goal has often made me pose the question, “Read or play video games?” “Read or watch TV?” “Read or troll the internet?” And thus I choose the former, but I know that if it wasn’t my goal to read, I would just indulge in more screen time (of which I get plenty).

Here’s what I read by the pool this month.

51CezGFihILMy Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer – As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the weird, violent, cannibalistic elements of fairy tales, and since I’m a big Angela Carter fan, this book has been on my “to read” list for awhile. But, overall, this book was just too damned long for me. There were some stories that I would love to read again, and others that I couldn’t stand, and maybe I would have enjoyed the last few stories more if the book itself wasn’t so overwhelming. Instead of rag on aspects I didn’t like, I will just tell you a few of my favorites and if you’re a fan of fantasy and adult fairy tale literature, I hope that you check out at least one. Of course I liked several more, but these are my top four:

“A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin” by Kevin Brockmeier

“The Mermaid in the Tree” by Timothy Schaffert (my favorite of the whole book)

“Catskin” by Kelly Link

“Pleasure Boating in Lituya Bay” by Jim Shepard

mzi.jeamasis.225x225-75 The Power of Storytelling by Jim Holtje – I am a big fan of personalizing presentations, and telling stories is a key way to get people to not only remember you and your message, but make them believe in your message. This book is more tailored to those in the business world, than someone like myself in education, but nonetheless I wanted to get a better grasp of how to effectively choose and tell my stories. Unfortunately, I got bored too easily. I felt like the stories were too surface level, and while I did dog-ear a few for later reference, overall they weren’t very memorable. In addition, the book didn’t really help me develop my own stories, but suggests that you use these CEOs’ stories when you give a presentation. Um yeah, no thanks; I don’t exactly what to reference the CEO of Dow Chemical when I’m trying to motivate and inspire people. I give it a “meh.”

 

UnknownKing Rat by James Clavell – This is officially the 20th summer in a row I have read this book. I almost feel like there should be some special limited edition print just for me, like “Lindsay’s 20th anniversary edition.” I’m not sure why this books speaks to me so much, but perhaps it’s my own personal fantasy in some sadistic way. There are no women characters, but a slew of POWS held in Singapore during WWII by the Japanese, and I find their relationships intriguing, entertaining, and complicated. Every time I read the book, I feel like I’m unraveling a new clue, and if you saw my recent post about planning my funeral, you know that I want the final passage to be read at my wake. 

There was a movie made in 1967 (which I have seen), but I think when you know a book so well it’s sort of impossible to pare it down to 120 minutes. That being said, I think HBO should option this one as a series and let me be a lead story consultant.

 

Top 5 Tips to Making Homemade Marshmallows

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With the deadline to submit state fair entries just a couple days away, I spent my afternoon making homemade marshmallows for one of my entries. Last year, I submitted marshmallows on a whim (having never made them before) and realized mine were far smaller than my competition. This year, I focused less on cute little round ones, and went for thick and fluffy squares. 

Last year, I also bemoaned the fact that at the last minute I scrapped my intention of submitting mexican mocha flavored marshmallows for just standard white vanilla. They were all good, but I didn’t trust my gut. Today, I made two batches: mexican mocha and lemon meringue. They’re both really good…but the chocolate is undeniably my winner.

If you’ve never made marshmallows, it’s actually pretty easy. The toughest part is the mess (cornstarch and powdered sugar disaster!), but I’ve come up with a few tricks to minimize the pain.

First off, I’ve tried a few different recipes over the last year, and the golden winner is from A Beautiful Mess. Alton Brown from the Food Network has one that seems popular, but the result was far less fluffy than the ABM’s recipe:

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Here are my tips for marshmallows:

1. Cover your working surface with foil, and do everything there. It makes clean up significantly easier.
IMG_27382. Use a sifter to dust your pans with cornstarch and powdered sugar. Rather than clumps on the bottom of your marshmallows, you’ll get a fine dusting. Dust the top after you pour in the fluff, too.

IMG_27393. To make chocolate marshmallows, I added 3 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder during the last minute of mixing. You can also add a couple drops of extract (like cinnamon or peppermint) if you want to really take it to the next level.

4. You don’t need to wait overnight, but you do need to wait at least 4-5 hours. I made the mistake in the past of thinking they were set and they ended up not turning out very well. Today I put them aside and took a catnap.

IMG_27405. Once the marshmallow is set, ease the whole thing out carefully with a butter knife and onto a big cutting board. I’ve tried cutting them individually out of the pan and it SUCKS. Also, don’t use the pizza cutter. Or scissors. Those failed repeatedly. A big sharp knife is best.

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And the moment of truth? Making a s’more over the stove with just the chocolate marshmallow. SO GOOD. I’m not sure if my marshmallows are really worth a blue ribbon, but they are a huge step above last year’s entry.

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#2: Throw a Summer Beach Bonfire Party. Check.

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Ok, I’ll admit this one was really easy. It’s not exactly the physical and mental fortitude of a burpee mile, or the long term dedication and commitment of getting a new job, but it’s something I wanted to do – so there!

Last summer over Labor Day weekend, a few friends and I thought we would venture out to Sauvie Island and have a bonfire. Technically, you’re not supposed to be there after dark, or have a fire, so we were a little nervous. But if you ever go to the island’s beach, you’ll see plenty of evidence that others have had nighttime fires. And back in the fall when we were in the midst of our Sheriff’s Citizen Academy, we asked one of the deputies if they cared about river fires, and the looked at us with a raised eyebrow and said, “Uh, we have better things to do.” Thus, with a little more planning, I figured I could finish out the summer with my best buds.

For those not totally familiar with Sauvie Island, it’s pretty much all farmland and wildlife preserve. 

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The first thing people ask me when I tell them that I like get my bronze on at island’s beach is, “Do you go to the naked beach…??” To which I reply, “Yessss…but fully clothed.” It’s true. A very large section of the beach is “clothing optional” and you’ll see people out playing beach volleyball and bocce ball and partying on their boats completely au natural. Clothing, no clothing, or a little bit in between – it’s your choice; like my friend, David, who dons his speedo. Welcome to Portland.

Several weeks ago I invited some friends to join me, toasting one of the last days of summer (yeah, I know summer technically goes till late September, but for those of us in education, it ends when the school year begins). The weather was perfect and we had the entire beach to ourselves. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire (built by my eagle scout husband, Thor), kicked back a few beers, and did our thing. 

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IMG_2726In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m someone who like seasonal traditions, so hopefully this becomes an annual outing. 

Don’t be sad! Summer’s not over yet! You, too, can still do a bonfire of your own! Here was our checklist for guaranteed fun:

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My Four Rules to Goal Setting and Goal Achieving

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Tonight I suffered a dollhouse fail, but then also a dollhouse success, once again reminding me that sometimes I just have to do things the way I see it in my head.

I spent the last couple days researching tried and true ways of assembling a dollhouse-sized bookshelf with foam core, cute paper, and some decoupage. Typically, I don’t have a lot of patience for measuring things just right or being anal retentive about directions (not just in crafting, but in LIFE). This means sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. After spending an inordinate amount of hours measuring the correct pieces, decoupaging some faux-wood scrapbooking paper on the each piece, and then assembling them, this was the result:

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OMG it’s hideous. I said to my husband, “It looks like something that got put out on the curb with a free sign in dollhouse land.” After throwing it aside, I thought I was done for the night. But as I was putting away some of my scraps, I found myself just cutting some basic rectangles out of the foam core and experimenting with the extra pieces. Pretty soon, I had made two basic tables that I think look actually presentable. Then I moved onto a couple chairs.

None of these pieces used a template, and I’m the first to admit that there are many imperfections in size, but frankly that’s the way I do things. Then I glossed over the miniatures I made last week with some clear nail polish (thanks to the suggestion of a friend) and here’s my current result.

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My fair submissions are all due in a week and while I’m still fretting about the size of my marshmallows or the texture of my banana bread, at least I have the “dollhouse furniture” category ready for action.

What’s my moral of the story?

1. Take a risk. 

When I signed up to submit dollhouse furniture for judging at the state fair, I had never really made dollhouse furniture before. It’s a little nerve wracking to submit something for judging, and some of the things I’ve seen displayed at the fair are pretty amazing – but some of them are pretty awful, too (once we witnessed a submission in the cake decorating category that spelled birthday in “Happy Birthday” wrong – ouch!). 

2. Make it public.

It’s not always easy to put yourself on display, but without giving myself a deadline, telling my friends, and publishing it here, I know for a fact I would never have made anything. Sure, the idea would float around my mind (as it has been for over a decade), but that’s all. Whether it’s training for a half marathon, finding a new job, or making banana bread, I’m a huge proponent of telling people about your goals. 

3. Make it measurable.

Friends and family have gotten into the habit of asking me, “What’s your current goal?” when they see me (hence rule #2). If I were to say, “Run more,” or “Lose some weight,” that’s not very specific. Some people run seven days a week, some run zero. What does “more” or “some” mean? There’s no guesswork in whether I hit my target. 

4. Have more small goals than big goals.

For me, this is the most crucial rule. Personally, I’ve got to have small successes that give me momentum for the tougher challenges. My list has evolved over the last few years, but I’ve definitely learned that I need a few goals that I can complete in just one day, or one week. If you’ve only got these big over-arching goals, it can feel near impossible. I’ve mentioned before that I once read if you complete 20 goals a year, that can add up to 200 in a decade – things add up!

We are 2/3 of the way through 2014. What goals did you make for yourself this year, and have you checked any of them off? How did you decide on these goals? Are they still important?

How to make a dollhouse chair…sort of…

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This whole time that I’ve planned to make dollhouse furniture for the state fair, I’ve felt a little unmotivated. That is until yesterday, when I was at the craft store and found some leather leopard pieces. I knew what I had to do.

I immediately came home and got to work on two armchairs. Admittedly, they are pretty amateur. I’m not big on reading directions when it comes to anything. Typically, I’ll read a variety of directions and then do my own thing. I found a tutorial on making an upholstered chair, where you use foam core and batting (right here); I glanced at the pictures, and then just started cutting.

Materials: foam core, batting, tacky glue, pen, measuring stick, exact-o knife, fabric.

The foam core is a great way to provide quick and easy structure. The batting was also pretty easy to just glue on.

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Actually upholstering the chair was a different story. I began to realize why directions are probably important as I was puzzling pieces of the leather together. The first chair took me over an hour, the second took less than 15 minutes. There’s my learning curve.

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But hey, I made them. That’s the hardest part. I’m going to tweak them later today, and maybe shoot for a couch and a bookshelf. 

 

#5 – Plan my funeral. Check.

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Did you know that I’m going to live until I’m 107 years old? Well, that’s my goal at least. Having been born in 1980, I figure some MASSIVE changes will be made by 2080. I want to be lucid enough to comprehend it all, so I’m giving myself seven additional years as a buffer. 

How does one get to 107 years old? First off, I know genetics play a big role. My grandma just turned 88 and she’s extremely lively. She lives alone, manages a neighboring tenant, still drives, and I honestly think if you got her mad enough, she could win in a bar fight. So genetics? Check.

Then I’ve also spent a lot of time on the Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator. Last year, it said I would live to 92, but after tweaking a few lifestyle habits, this year I’m up to 97 (giving up coffee just isn’t worth an additional six months of living). I exercise (vigorously) six times a week, I eat mostly vegetarian and fish, I floss my teeth, and so on. So lifestyle? Check.

In addition, many of you know that I am keenly aware of the many natural and man-made disasters that may befall us. I spend inordinate amounts of time (awake and in dreams) planning for earthquakes, tsunamis, plane crashes. I know a lot of these situations are sheer luck at the moment of disaster, but statistically surviving afterwards is about preparation and know-how. 

But I am also aware (as my fatalistic friend, Jim, recently reminded me) that sometimes shit just happens. Translation: I need to have my funeral planned out now). I already wrote a beginning post, You are Invited to Party Over My Grave, and today I’m going to wrap it up.

How does one plan a funeral? Well, the nerd in me found a handy checklist on the interweb: Funeral Planning Checklist. I encourage everyone to at least take a look and maybe jot some of the important stuff on a notepad – you never know!

Without much ado, here are my answers to the checklist (I realize some people might be thinking, “This chick is freaking morbid.” You’re right; but I’m also prepared).

General Preparations

THE OBITUARY – I learned from my stepfather who worked at the newspaper, a good obit photo needs to really focus in on your FACE. Ones where you’re grouped with a bunch of people will just make you look pixelated. At the moment, I think this should be my obit photo.

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JUST KIDDING! But seriously, please pick something flattering. Also, you know those funny obits that go viral? Well, I don’t need anything that exciting, but I would like something with character; something people will laugh at. Feel free to include all of my eccentric interests…and don’t forget to say that I’m survived by my cats.

DONATIONS – Being an animal lover, I would like any donations to be given either to The Oregon Humane Society, or the Oregon Zoo. (I have always dreamed of having a brick or a bench or something at the zoo with my name on it).

FUNERAL HOME - Beings that I don’t subscribe to any religions, you can pretty much pick anything that’s easy. 

Funeral Home Services

MY REMAINS - Ok, so this is hard. A big part of me wants to go six feet under in a head-to-toe leopard outfit, but I have read way too many horror stories of people being exhumed and scientific evidence shows they woke up. Cremation sounds like a quick and dirty process (no pun intended). I don’t really care what you put my ashes in, but if it had a cat on it, that would be pretty cool.
SERVICE - We already know the music, but where’s the party going to happen? Well, it depends on the time of year. If it’s summer, do something indoors and then go have a beach bonfire in my honor (hey! if you could spread my ashes at the same time! that would be two birds with one stone!); if it’s the winter, you know it’s got to be something holiday themed – like Timberline Lodge. Make sure you serve gingerbread cookies and peppermint schnapps.
VIEWING - Before I’m cremated, I don’t really want anyone to look at me – unless they really want to. But no public viewing. 
FLORAL ARRANGEMENT - I think it would be a little funeral-zilla to be picky about flowers. Go with whatever is easiest. If you’re like, “It would be a lot easier if she just picked!” then go with yellow and pink roses.
PHOTOGRAPH - Again, something flattering, please.
RELIGIOUS ITEMS - Let’s be very clear here. I am not religious. No religious items or prayers or hymns at my service. 

CLOTHING - Well, I already said that I don’t want to be viewed, but I think my husband, Thor, should pick a dress (sorry, dude). 
LITERATURE TO READ - I have read King Rat by James Clavell every summer since I was 14. Please read the passage from the last page of the book that starts, “His eyes looked at the things of the past…” until it the last line, “And then, in his turn, he looked back no more.” 
MEMORIAL REGISTER – Ok I literally had to google what this is. Skip it! And all the stupid stationary. I really don’t want it.

Participants

OFFICIATOR - Ummm, your choice?
Family member or friend to perform the eulogy – One time my friend, Frances, told me a story about a eulogy that had to do with a guy that said, “I’d rather have a hot dog and a big girl than a big dog and a hot girl,” or something like that. It was really funny. Frances, would it be too much to ask for you to tell a hilarious story? Perhaps one of our first meetings at The Know?
Family member or friend to read scripture or literature – Up for grabs! Who wants it?!

Burial or cremation plot – I think you have to get a permit to spread someone’s ashes, right? Well,  I’m not sure where I want my ashes spread. Maybe somewhere in Hawaii, or on the University of Kansas (lol).

ONE FINAL REQUEST – I like the idea of someone visiting me. I won’t be having children, and I know eventually over time, I will be forgotten. So instead, I want to arrange paying a random stranger $100 a year to visit the spot of my ashes on any day they choose, until they themselves cannot perform this duty or the money set aside for this dries up. 

And there it is, folks. My final wishes. Let’s hope I have another 73 years before we need them.

 

Classic movie of August

When I set the goal of watching one classic movie a month for 2014, I didn’t have much of a plan…no specific list of movies, no specific venue. Just me and some random classic movies.

This last weekend, the NW Film Center was playing one of my all time favorites, The 400 Blows. Though I haven’t seen this movie in a good ten years, I think about it frequently in my role as a teacher. Not to go on a tangent, but the education system treats adolescent boys like, well, shit. They are punished far more often for doing things that are developmentally appropriate. We force them to sit at desks for painful amounts of time and then get upset when they fidget or blurt out impulsively – even though that is exactly what they should be doing at that age.

Of course, I like to think that I never do anything like that in my own classroom, but frankly it’s very hard when systemically those are the cultural norms (i.e. getting a directive to not take my students out to recess). We wonder as a society why school shootings are so rampant, but I have yet to hear anyone talk about how we are raising a culture of boys who feel a lack of identity or connection to society because we are always freaking picking on them (you heard it here first, people!).

But I digress.

The_400_Blows_50The 400 Blows – Francois Truffaut (1959): Antoine Doinel is a 12 year-old boy in Paris, imprisoned by everyone and everything in his life. Of course, the film doesn’t come across that literal, but it doesn’t take long to see how Antoine’s life at home and at school is completely oppressive. In their cramped apartment, his parents pick at his every move; at school, his teacher is just short of a prison warden. Not to say Antoine’s an angel; he screws around at school and swipes things at home, but you get the sense it’s out of self-preservation rather than defection. His real joy comes from the freedom of skipping school and playing outside with his friends, though we all know his happiness is fleeting. I remember full classes in film school devoted to the tracking shot at the end, where Antoine escapes to the ocean – a juxtaposition from the way Truffaut sets up the iron bars of city living. We don’t know the outcome of his life, but we get a hint that his spirit is far from broken.

Gearing up for the fair

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The Oregon State Fair is less than a month away and it’s time to get cracking on my submissions. This year I’m taking a plunge and submitting three different entries: marshmallows, vegan bread, and dollhouse furniture. 

Last year, I tried my hand at marshmallows and later realized mine were far too small compared to the competition, so this year is a do-over of sorts. Next, I am unearthing a pretty bomb recipe for vegan banana bread (perfected when my husband, Thor, was actually vegan). And last, I’ve always wanted to try to make my own dollhouse furniture, and submitting an entry for the fair gives me an actual deadline to do so.

Over the last two days, I’ve been poring over articles and pictures online about making dollhouse items. I’m not a fancy wood worker or metalsmith, and 98% of my crafting tools are sitting in the cabinets of my classroom – but I bought some polymer clay and have just been experimenting at my dining room table. Yesterday, I enlisted my friend, Courtney, to come play with the clay and give me some feedback. Here’s what I’ve made so far.

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Making this crap is time consuming, and mentally exhausting, but it’s a good start. Also, another friend told me last night that I can experiment with clear nail polish to make them shiny and I hope to try that tonight. I’m hoping to make a couple chairs and a table by next week. It’s a process…

If you like baking or crafting, I highly recommend submitting something to the state fair. It really doesn’t matter how amateur you are – everything gets displayed. All you have to do is go to the fair website, fill out the submission form, and then drop your stuff off on the designated date. It doesn’t cost anything to submit, just the fair admission to go see it on display.

Of course, I have a lot of free time in the summer to mess around with recipes and make crafty stuff, but as someone who likes to go to the fair anyway, it makes the experience even more fun. 

Halfway to the Burpee Mile

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Are there any specific rules to the burpee mile? I’m not even sure where I first heard about it. Youtube has a slew Crossfit groups recording their “mile” on video but they all do it a little bit differently. I also found some “rules” on a Crossfit site – here they are:

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And while I had trouble finding a universal set of rules, I did find this nice graphic:

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I’m not doing my burpee mile for anything but me, thus I think I should establish my own rules. Also, after blowing out my knee (almost 3 years ago!), I’ve learned to really listen to my body. It’s NOT worth hurting myself (or having a miserable case of DOMS). This is why I have slotted “Do a Burpee Mile” into the BONUS GOALS category. It may or may not be possible.

That being said, yesterday I completed a solid burpee half-mile and I feel no tinge of soreness or injury (though I did take one hell of a nap afterwards). I had slow one mile jog to the track, did 1/4 burpee mile, ran a little more to loosen up my legs, and did the other 1/4, with a jog/walk cool down. Yeah, my legs were a little jello-y at the end.

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Many people have asked, “How many burpees are IN the burpee mile?” So yesterday I counted about 230 in a quarter mile. Multiply that by two and I did almost 500 burpees. Holy crap! However, my strategy is very different than any Crossfit site I’ve seen. I chunk my burpees in tens and take a quick rest in between each set, whether I think I need it or not. I also don’t add a push-up because I just don’t wanna.

Gloves are imperative.

Water is imperative.

Proper shoes are imperative.

Patience is imperative.

I was really, REALLY bored by the end of the first 1/4. I’m wondering how these Crossfit people manage that part of it. Maybe because they are together in a group? Even running on a treadmill is more interesting because at least you have television to watch. I think that will be the toughest part, should I complete an entire mile.

I would appreciate creative suggestions on how to breakup the boredom!

 

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