#23 – Find a new job. Check.

I’ll admit that this post is a bit of click-bait.

You’re like, “What?! You have a new job?!” to which I must respond, not exactly.

In the last two years, my freewheeling-do-what-I-want lifestyle has been supplanted by a host of very demanding responsibilities. Some of which are tough but rewarding opportunities at work, but mostly it’s been the ever pressing job of caretaking for my father. I’ve learned that when people ask what the responsibilities of taking care of my dad are, it’s easier to smile, shrug and say, “Oh, just a lot.” If I tell the truth (the doctors, the lawyers, the advocates, the pharmacists, the concerned friends, the nurses, the paperwork, the bills…), peoples’ facial expressions betray that they wished they had never asked.

ALL THE WHILE, my job with the school district is continually on a “Will it exist next year?” plan. I actually don’t mind this lack of vision or continuity, but in January my team was explicitly told we would be job-hunting come spring (hence goal #23 – Find a new job). We were completely shocked in March when we were renewed, amidst a host of layoffs and shuffling. In fact, I was disappointed because I had so many irons in the fire for new positions.

I took this as a sign to relax for the summer; I traveled a small amount for my other job as a consultant, but mostly spent a lot of time on my Peloton bike.

But Concordia called me in August and somewhat pleaded that I teach a night class that I’ve never taught before, two nights a week, four hours each, starting in five days. My heart stopped beating for a second, and then I accepted.

Everyone I knew seemed openly annoyed with me. You already have too much going on. You do this to yourself. You need to say no. And I get it from an outsider’s view. I do have too much going on, and I do do this to myself. You’re all correct! But what an outsider might not see is the vast ennui I experience in my day job. The passion is not there, and it is very difficult to coach others to be their best selves when I’m not feeling my best self.

Teaching at Concordia is the one place I find actual joy in work. It’s challenging on my own terms and it let’s me practice a lot of skills that I use elsewhere. I make connections with future teachers, and I get to tell stories all night long. There aren’t staff meetings or reply-all emails, just full autonomy for me to go in and do what I do best: teach.

Last night, we wrapped up the term, and I don’t regret it a bit. As it was a class that I had never taught, and it offered me the distinct challenge of designing and implementing something new, I’m going to officially count it as “Find a new job” and cross this one off the list.

That being said, I’m proclaiming that something has to give in my day job so don’t be surprised if this goal resurfaces in 2019.

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1034 miles down, 966 miles to go

Let me tell you, if I didn’t already have thighs of steels, I do now. My goal of cycling 2000 miles by the end of the year has realistically ended up being about more than sheer mileage. On my new Peloton bike, those miles are, on average, 20 mph at a minimum of 40% incline (usually much more). Not country strolls for me.

In fact, I’m honestly wondering if addiction might be the right word to describe my new Peloton experience lifestyle. In my pre-purchase research, I read many cultish reviews where riders wrote things like, “I just can’t stop!”, “I love this bike so much and it’s all I think about!” and I was like, Whoa guys – slow down; it’s an exercise bike. But I won’t lie: it’s all I think about, and I just can’t stop.

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Not only am I “high-fiving” total strangers on the leaderboard during my sessions, I’m following them, and trying to crack celebrity Peloton handles so I can potentially challenge Matthew McConaughey or P Diddy on a ride.

In the first 30 days of having Peloton at home, I’ve cycled 268 miles. Compared to my monthly stats between January and June, that’s 233% more miles than average, which is a good thing since my goal of cycling all 200 miles by December 31st was seriously lagging.

Next week we officially get back to the grind of the school year, and for once I’m optimistic that my workout schedule will hold steady. I already see my trainer before work twice a week so I’ll just need to come home and pedal out the stress.

With there being 20 weeks left in 2018, I’ll need to ride at least 48 miles a week to complete my goal so don’t hold the intervention just yet. But if you see me starting to wear full Peloton brand clothing and cycling shoes into the coffee shop, please stop me.

The Nerdiest Post I Shall Ever Write

More than half the year has gone by, and my annual bucket list goals are far from where they should be. We’ve had much happen this year, very good and very bad, and while some of those life occurrences could be why I haven’t invested in my goals, that would be mostly a lie. But guys, different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.

And while most men would rather die a hard truth than face it, in truth, I’ve been deeply invested in a whole other world…or should I say, realm. In fact, this post will contain many easter eggs for my good friends who are already in the know.

In April 2017, I decided to re-read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series (better known as Game of Thrones for the plebs). It would be a great undertaking, and I didn’t want to rush through, but take my time and enjoy my very own trip down the King’s Road. And while I have zero expectation for the final books to ever be published (no hard feelings, GRRM!), I wanted to be truly refreshed for the final season on HBO next year, for minds are like swords; the old ones go to rust.

Little did I know just how deep this pastime would become; my poor friend, Kerrie, was subject to daily texts of questions, theories, and gifs. We even decided to write down predictions for the end of the show and bury them in a time capsule (read about it here: Bury a Time Capsule). But how naive I was to bury my predictions when I was midway through book three! There were still thousands of pages I had yet to dissect.

Over spring break, I decided to start rewatching the HBO series while finishing the last book concurrently. It made our very long flights to Europe highly entertaining, and while I was incredibly nit-picky when the show first came out (“That didn’t happen in the books!”), I found a new joy from analyzing quotes and symbolism in the show, furthering my predictions.

But that’s not it, oh-no. While reading the books and watching the show, I also decided to listen to the concurrent podcast episodes of BingeMode.

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At times, I spent time on Reddit, confirming my theories for characters, storylines, or just digging into the vast history of Westeros. Many times I heard the words, “You’re in too deep,” from both my husband, Thor, and Kerrie. Is madness so far from wisdom? After all, don’t people read the Bible over and over and over again? Dissecting stories? Looking for something between the lines? A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.

This week, I completed my journey. I read more than 4,200 pages, watched 70 hours of the show, and listened to 70 hours of the podcast. My resume is such that I’m ready to head to the Citadel and transcribe ancient scrolls. The great thing about reading is that it broadens your life.

At this point, I would venture to say that I know more about ASOIAF than anyone I know personally (sans Kerrie, who has also done her homework) and it’s my own special world with special (internet) friends. Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.

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But what will I do will all this free time, now that I am done? This question has been creeping for the last month.

Lucky for me, there are still many excerpts and readings from the next book, The Winds of Winter, that are out there on the inter web. *SPOILER ALERT* that book is never going to get published. My theory? Fans got viscious (really – GRRM got death threats) and he threw in the towel to work on other projects. Maybe Misery was on cable one weekend and he got scared that someone was going to hobble him and force him to rewrite The Red Wedding in a snowy cabin.

But guys, having parsed over every word of the books – I’m telling you, it’s all in there. You just have to look.

I won’t tell you my theory about Tyrion’s real parentage. I won’t tell you my theory about Arya’s ending. I won’t tell you my theory about Brienne and Jaime. Ok yes, I will. They are so going to seal the deal. (But trust me, there’s more).

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Something tells me I’m not really finished, that there’s more work to do. But as the main feat is over, I can look back to completing some items from my bucket list  (which is the real purpose of this post LOL). Be on the lookout about my new Peloton bike, an upcoming trip to Portugal, and a moonlit hike.

Until then, night gathers and my watch begins; it shall not end until my death.

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#15 – Design and build my own home gym. Check.

Friends keep texting me, “Are you caught up on Handmaid’s Tale?” “Have you seen the latest Westworld?” “Are there any more episodes of the Roseanne reboot?” “Have you watched that new show _______?”

No dudes, things have been a bit…busy.

I’ve officially been getting dressed out of moving boxes going on seven weeks, and tomorrow is the last day of school. Yet somehow between moving, working, and currying my dad to appointments, I’ve also managed to build the foundation of my new home gym in our garage.

I’m not joking when I say we are getting dressed out of boxes – we literally have no furniture for our clothing. You would think that is priority #1, but buying a bonfire for the back patio and picking out exercise equipment is more fun.

First, I enlisted my friend, Kerrie, to help me paint the garage walls (they were pretty gnarly) a basic beige. Then I did my research on gym flooring, which is considerably more expensive than I anticipated. After reading many, many online reviews and getting feedback from the trainers at my gym, I settled on interlocking square tiles, which were equally (or even less) expensive as buying used scraps on Craigslist.

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But just plain black tiles sounded boring, and maybe not versatile enough for all of the activities I have planned. I also opted for a swatch of turf tiles…the picture of the guy with the tractor tire basically sold me.

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Truly, 2018 is a great year. I was able to cross-reference prices and shop multiple vendors, order everything on Friday and have it delivered on Tuesday. What a world we live in.

Of course, the plan was the spend the following weekend installing said flooring, but by the next afternoon the boxes were calling to me. It was also important that I install them all myself – while I know Thor would help me, this is my project. Spoiler alert: the tiles didn’t fit perfectly together (especially when I laid down the turf), but with a little trimming here and jamming there, I had a finished product. The whole floor process took me about four hours, which is also equivalent to eight listenings of the new Kanye album.

Let’s remember the old:

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And now the new:

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Our bevy of Nike posters also found their home. We don’t have a single picture hanging in the house, mind you, just the garage.

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Finally, we can move onto the fun part – the equipment. I’ll be picking up a spin bike soon, and Thor will be installing some boxing stuff and my TRX. As I’m officially broke, things like a weight bench or weights will have to come later. Guess I’ll be lifting the cats for reps.

Got any exercise equipment that you want to get rid of? Let me know. Have an Arnold Schwarzenegger poster you want taken off your hands? Send it my way.

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#7 – Learn to split firewood. Check.

Years ago, one of my colleagues kept talking about how he wanted abs like Chris Hemsworth. I happened across a “Thor” workout in a fitness magazine and left it on his desk and he proceeded to spend a whole weekend working on his “Thor abs”. Sadly, I can’t seem to find this workout online today, but it had A LOT of woodchopping to prepare for the constant hammer throw downs.

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It seems like pretty much every guy I know has chopped some firewood in their life, and I’ve never been given that opportunity. Despite my hearty “let-me-try” attitude, my upbringing was still sexist enough to deny me the opportunity to find my calling in the ESPN Lumberjack games. This is Oregon, aren’t we supposed to be born with an axe in our hand? SandyPracticalAmazondolphin-max-1mb.gif

As “Learn to split firewood” landed on my 2018 Bucket List, my personal trainer helped me prepare for the real thing. Every week, we would practice with a sledgehammer and a tractor tire, and he would graciously hold back his amusement as I muddled my way through the wood chop motions. Maybe it comes naturally to some, but not me.

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But over time, the muscle memory set-in and my endurance improved. It was time for the real thing…and who better to take me ACTUAL woodchopping than my husband, Thor.

We settled on his sister’s house, which is more like a suburban amusement camp than a regular house. Their property spans into a natural wooded-setting, complete with a fire pit and zip line. The family gathered around and gave me several pointers, and then proceeded to watch me fruitlessly hack at a piece of wood. But eventually, I got over the fear of blinding splinters or accidentally hacking off my leg.

Here’s my proof:

Unfortunately, the only thing sore today are my hands so I don’t think I’ll be rocking “Thor abs” anytime soon, but it was definitely still a workout. Chopping wood is deceptively hard, IMHO.

Want to see how the real-life Thor chops wood?

My new home gym

It’s finally the moment I’ve been waiting for: time to design and build my own home gym.

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Although we are not yet sleeping in our new house (soon, people, soon) we are 60% moved in and the big ticket projects are mostly completed (minus that pesky sewer line). I’ve been patient for as long as possible, and now I’m ready to get rolling on designing a own gym in our 441 square foot detached garage.

Why even do this? Isn’t the garage for cars? A lawn mower? Tools? Probably, but for years I’ve felt prisoner to gyms that had weird hours, annoying membership rates, and people hogging the equipment. I’m an only child and I don’t want to share (just kidding, please come work out with me when it’s all said and done).

Having had a membership at many different gyms (including the Nike HQ Campus) and experienced the variety of hotel gyms, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, What am I looking for in a gym? When I work on the road, the hotel gym is one of the key elements that I look for while booking a room (a delicious breakfast is number one).

Through my research of planning a home gym, I’ve found that it’s a lot like playing The Sims. Here’s your empty space – what would you like to put there? With the countless pictures, Pinterest boards, and 3D room sketchers dedicated to this process, all those hours playing The Sims and Animal Crossing are really starting to pay off!

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But seriously though, what pictures are my inspiration?

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I’ve decided that Step One will be deciding on wall color and flooring. While I’m going for cost-effective, I’m of the mind that this will be my happy place, and I don’t want to just slap something down because I found it on Craigslist.

Also, based on the dreamy pictures – lighting seems a subtle but important detail. And I’ll need a good sound bluetooth speaker or sound system. Details details details.

I’ll start with the basics at the end of the month, but my goal is to really spend the summer putting it all together so that I have a solid workout space for the upcoming school year.

Oh, and did I mention my plan for the basement?

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Just kidding. Thor gets the basement. But I’ve gently requested a “karaoke corner” so maybe he will indulge me someday.