A lot of things are happening right now. At work, I’ve been joking that I should change my email signature to “The Fixer” as I’ve been assigned to some of our biggest crisis schools, which is seriously time consuming. (Sidenote: … Continue reading

Full Catastrophe Living

I only made it officially through one book in February (which is an all time low for me), but one powerful book is better than two or three crappy ones, right?

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It all started when my colleague was complaining about her new-age instructor for an education leadership class. Apparently his love for dream-catchers and meditation was his answer to being a great principal. The more I asked about him, the more I grimaced at the thought of sitting through the class – but I was still curious about the “required reading.” One of the texts was by John Kabat-Zinn, and through a bit of surface level Googling, I impulsively purchased one of his other books, Full Catastrophe Living.

What’s it about? Here’s what the back of the book says:

“Stress. It can sap our energy, undermine  our health if we let it, even shorten our lives. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, disconnection and disease. Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this classic, groundbreaking work—which gave rise to a whole new field in medicine and psychology—shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches derived from meditation and yoga to counteract stress, establish greater balance of body and mind, and stimulate well-being and healing. By engaging in these mindfulness practices and integrating them into your life from moment to moment and from day to day, you can learn to manage chronic pain, promote optimal healing, reduce anxiety and feelings of panic, and improve the overall quality of your life, relationships, and social networks.”

First off, I read anything like this with a grain of salt. However, the traditional medical treatments when I blew out my knee seemed very limited – one time the doctor even held up his hands and said, “I don’t know what to do with that,” when I described a horrific pain in my foot after knee surgery. But chiropractic and naturopathic treatments have worked in slow, steady increments (in fact, my chiropractor fixed my foot with a simple touch later that day). Admittedly, the acupuncture that required wrapping my knee in chainmail and tin foil was dubious, but I feel generally fantastic since prolotherapy.

You see, I’m just not the kind of person who wants to just take a pill. There’s got to be another way.

During Full Catastrophe Living, I found myself saying out loud, “Yes! That’s me! I understand what you’re talking about!” Although I’m not dealing with terminal illness or the tragedy of losing a spouse, I do feel daily aches and pains that I know are related to stress.

But also – my mind keeps me up at night. Whether it’s the burden of being a public educator, or I’ve just spent too much time on Reddit reading about MK Ultra, I wake up at night with too much going on in my brain. Donald Trump isn’t helping.

giphy.gif I already use my Headspace app regularly, but that feels a bit surface level. What I appreciate about Full Catastrophe Living is that it goes into the research of mindfulness and meditation, as well as gives a lot of practical strategies.

If anyone can relate to thinking that this is all ridiculous fluff, I can. A few years ago, I laughed in my naturopath’s face when she suggested I meditate. It wasn’t until I worked for a raging bully and was considering a medical leave that I thought, Maybe I need to give that meditation thing a try. I even mediated in secret because I was so embarrassed – and now here I am blogging about self-help books, for all the world to see.

“Catastrophe” to John Kabat-Zinn does not mean disaster, it just means that we have all these things going on in life – and learning how to manage them in a mindful way can make people realize that the things that feel overwhelming can actually be rewarding. For instance, people complain about work, but many people who are chronically ill or incapable of working would give anything to have a job. It’s a matter of perspective.

If you think mediation is boring or you don’t have time, they say “That’s ok,” and give 30 second strategies. If you have been meditating for awhile, it gives more advanced strategies (of which I am so far from being able to do).

As many people know, the stress of dealing with my dad’s house has been paramount in my life right now, but I’m working on experiencing the catastrophe rather than fighting against it. Speaking of which, the house goes on the market in three weeks.

 

1,000 Burpees

Is there a single year that I haven’t blogged about burpees? I highly doubt it. They are my most favorite, albeit torturous, exercise.

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A couple years back, I almost hit my goal of doing a burpee mile (I think did something like .75 and stopped to spare my ailing knee). And friends of mine know that I’ve forced them into monthly Burpee Challenges, but this year I’m taking it to a new level: I want to do 100 burpees in one set, with no stopping.

Yeah, I kind of just barfed a little bit, too.

I hold the burpee on the exercise pedestal – it’s intense; it’s whole body; it’s the thing that makes everyone go, “Make it stop!” You know me, I like a challenge.

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On February 1st, I decided that I would do 50 burpees everyday for 50 days (ending with my trip to Europe for spring break). Today is February 22nd, and I’ve “eaten the frog” everyday (minus one day where I moved furniture and shampooed carpets for 10 hours). 50 burpees x 20 days = 1,000 burpees so far.

There was a time where I could crank out 30 burpees easy, and often did 100 – 200 within a workout. Sadly, I’ve fallen off the burpee wagon as of late, and now that I’m back to square one, I average 20-25 before I have to stop. I have a looooong way to go before I can master 100 without stopping.

But now that I’ve been cranking them out on the regular, 100 doesn’t sound too hard. My biggest question is whether I will still be doing burpees in my top floor AirBnB in Paris. Excusez-moi, je faisais juste mon burpees.

Do you also love burpees? Do you hate them but know they are good for you? Have you never tried but would like to? Here’s my VERY FAVORITE resource for getting those burpees into my workouts:

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/01/27/the-burpee-the-one-exercise-to-rule-them-all/

How many can you do…?

Current Reality: UGH

I haven’t posted in awhile, mostly because my life has been very un-fun as of late. My final bucket list goal of 2017 is to sell my dad’s house, which I haven’t discussed on the internet AT ALL…but here goes…

Back in October, we somewhat abruptly moved my dad into a fancy retirement home – which is incredibly convenient because it’s essentially in our backyard, but he was only 68 years old, it was a lot sooner than anticipated. In a nutshell, his memory is declining quickly, and the fact that he lived across the river in Vancouver might as well have meant he lived in another country (the traffic is beyond heinous at all times).

To be clear, I have ZERO siblings. Nada. Everything falls on me. The finances, the logistics of moving, the pharmacy runs…and of course, the selling of his home. Another thing to be clear about: we are a childless couple, living in a condo, with professional jobs and demanding hours because we like this lifestyle. Suddenly throwing my father’s house into my lap has been very challenging, to say the least. Like I said, I have zero siblings.

At first, I thought, This will take me 30 days; I’ll clean it out, find a realtor, and it will be done. That was in October. Today, there is still furniture in the house and I only just met a realtor last week. First off, THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF. Second off, THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF. I laugh when people say, “Have you thought about donating things?” Yeah, DUH. I’ve had so many people in that house taking things for free, it’s bordering on inappropriate.

Then we got a dumpster and filled that sucker full of general household junk. And I finagled a few friends to take on free furniture for themselves and anyone they know. I was really starting to find a groove and see a light at the end of the tunnel…

…until last week when the finished basement flooded…and someone broke in and stole the televisions…and now the house smells like mildew…Gimme a break! I’ve spent my weekends and evenings chipping away at each task, knowing that eventually this will not be my life. Please, please tell me this will not be my life for much longer.

You see why I haven’t blogged about this until now? I can just dump it all into one succinct post and then once the house is sold, I’ll let you know. Until then, who needs an old couch? A bookshelf perhaps? Maybe a glass patio table? or a roll top desk?

On a highnote, we are going to Europe in a month so I’ll be back to posting pictures of the torture museum in Amsterdam and French pastries…JUST YOU WAIT.

#6 – Get Season Tickets to the Portland Thorns. Check.

Huh – well that was easy.

Yesterday a sales rep from the Portland Thorns called me and 10 minutes later, I was an official season ticket holder of the Portland Thorns soccer team.

I could go on and on as to why I’m a huge supporter of the Portland Thorns women’s soccer team, as opposed to the Portland Timbers, the men’s soccer team. While we do have a couple of the top MLS ranked players on the Timbers, I believe the caliber of the female team far exceeds that of the men’s.

*Ahem…Tobin Heath…highly decorated in the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, and considered possibly the best player by the US Soccer Federation…ahem*

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But there are so many other great players on the Portland Thorns – Christine Sinclair, Amandine Henry…the list goes on.

Ok – so the quality of the soccer will be awesome. What else?

How about the fact that female soccer players are HIDEOUSLY UNDERPAID? We are always hearing about the out-of-control salaries for men’s professional sports teams, but to see world-class internationally recognized soccer players, you would expect their salaries to be competitive, right? Here’s an excerpt from a recent article on NWSL salaries in The Oregonian:

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That’s right. According to the inter web, Tobin Heath, the most skilled player, has a salary of $45,000. That’s less than I make, just sayin. And the Thorns are the league’s most successful team so how unfair can the salaries of less popular teams be? Shudder to think.

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Thus being a season ticket holder is more than just being a fan of soccer (my favorite sport), it’s about supporting women’s soccer and women’s sports overall. I know a lot of people hold season tickets (or buy single tickets) to the Portland Timbers, but my argument is that the Thorns deserve way more action in terms of fan attendance and visibility.

The official season schedule is set to come out in the next couple weeks so I have to wait until April to actually see a game, but in the meantime I will be encouraging my fellow Portlandians to consider the implications of only supporting men’s soccer (and sports, in general).

Oh, and where are my seats? Down by the goal line in 122.

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The 2017 Calendar

Haven’t made a bucket list for the year, but wish you had? January isn’t even over. Why not just grab a napkin, set a time for 5 minutes, and jot down a bunch of things you’d like to learn, see, try, or challenge yourself on? I usually start with a big list of around 35-40 items and trim it down to 20-25. The first step really is just putting the pen to the paper.

Once you’ve gotten that far, then what? (Hint: ball up the napkin and toss it out isn’t the answer).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about setting goals, it’s that you’ve got to have a pretty specific plan to achieve them, no matter how big or small they are. Every year I set 20+ goals and so I sketch out a calendar of when I hope to check each goal off. I can’t leave them all hanging and expect to do them in December – that’s just irresponsible.

Except that today as I sat down to make my 2017 bucket list calendar, I realized that I don’t think I ever made one for 2016 – which might explain why last year was my least successful year (the three jobs and a nightmare boss might have had something to do with it, too). I think I got a little cocky last year and thought, I’ve done this enough that I don’t need a calendar…it’s in my head. It’s not that goals got forgotten exactly, but without a plan, I didn’t set staggered deadlines.

January of 2016 was an ugly time. When I think back to my daily life, a big grey cloud was hanging over me. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to find a better working environment, but that cloud muddled my enthusiasm for my personal life, too. This year, I have zero excuses. Everything is coming up Deacon lately, and I’m ready to attack my loftiest bucket list yet.

Here’s my calendar:

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The colors represent loose categories.
Orange = exercise/fitness
Blue = food & drink
Red = buying or selling
Green = all the crazy-pants miscellaneous

Notice that burpees come up twice, mostly because I feel like June might be too busy, or maybe I would rather do some birthday burpees in September. Collecting shark teeth on Topsail Island and getting a tattoo with a former student are also not listed because they require some planning with other people.

 

Sometimes putting things on paper (or publishing it on a blog) is a little scary; the thing you wrote becomes official. My first step was to publish my 2017 list, and now that list is calendared out and it’s time to start rolling for real.