The Homestretch Part II

Earlier this week I wrote about the goals I was definitely not going to cross off this year, and now it’s time to talk about the ones I still have time to check off.

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4. Try six new types of massage

I’ll be honest – when I wrote this goal I thought it would be a creative way to sneak in some more self care, and  I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVEN’T DONE THIS YET. In truth, I’ve gone to the same massage therapist for six years and the idea of doing something different feels like I’m cheating on him. I might try something different around the holidays, but cramming in six new massages is…unlikely…

6. Get my flute a professional tune up

Last year, Thor made a flippant comment that I couldn’t play the flute (which is factually untrue). My flute is desperately out of shape and out of tune, and I had this grand plan to get a tune up (which can run a few hundred dollars), practice the shit out of an advanced song, and then blow his mind with my flute skills. At one point, I even thought that I might just bust it out at a party and blow the mind of all my friends. I’m not saying this isn’t going to happen, but it’s looking less and less likely…

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8. Take three art classes

One of the biggest voids in no longer being a classroom teacher is not engaging in drawing/art on a regular basis. I thought that taking a few classes would get me back into a routine, and I’ve identified several online classes that I can take at my own pace. This does NOT mean that I want you to invite me to a wine and paint night. I’m talking REAL art. This one is in the works…

10. Learn how to make a prime rib

I can bake one helluva turkey. I save this savory experience for late December and basically gorge until I want nothing to do with turkey. This year, I’d like to expand my holiday baking into prime rib. Now that we are in our new house with a Wolf Gourmet Convection Oven, it’s time to earmark an afternoon for the task.

11. Have a holiday night at the Crystal Ballroom downtown Portland

Last year, my friend, Kylene, told me that she and her husband have an annual tradition of booking a night at the Crystal Ballroom and having a holiday-themed get-a-way; they go to dinner, do something festive, and enjoy the holiday spirit. I immediately stole this and put it on my bucket list. When I went to book a room, I realized that Thor and I already have “our” place at the Hotel Monaco. We spent our wedding night at HM and also threw a penthouse pizza party on our 10th anniversary. It seemed appropriate to return. Stay tuned.

17. Learn how to make fortune cookies

Ugh – this stupid goal! I failed to check it off in 2016 and thought it was worth a revisit. When my friend, Darcy, recently told me a story about keeping her cookie fortunes, I convinced her to try this with me next month, which will inevitably make it way more fun.

19. Cycle 2000 miles

Ugh – another stupid goal! In reality, I’ve cycled over 1600 miles this year, but at this rate I’ve got to cycle about 70 miles a week in order to make it to 2000 by NYE. I have a feeling that I’ll be living on my Peloton bike during winter break – which is probably a good thing since I’ll have a million fortune cookies to eat.

Basically, what I’m saying is that December is going to be one busy month.

 

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#14 – Create an emergency plan. Check.

Disaster preparedness is always on my mind. Whether I’m in the car, at my desk, or traveling on the road, I always have a few (or many) survival items on hand. Wayyyyy back in 2012, my bucket list included making … Continue reading

The Homestretch Part I

I haven’t posted in several weeks, but prepare for an onslaught of posts related to my final bucket list goals of 2018…and a few bonus items for the fun of it.

This year was a weird one…

In January, you can plan out how you think your year will look, but let’s be honest – that’s not how life works. My list is an educated crapshoot of what I hope to accomplish and if it happens it happens, and if it doesn’t, I’m not going to sweat it too much. In my first couple years of bucket listing, I felt an immense pressure to “check things off the list” but I’ve learned that other experiences/skills/opportunities present themselves and they are also valuable – even if they aren’t on the initial list.

Where I’m at today is an assessment of what I’ve already checked off, what will definitely not happen, and everything else falls in between. Today, I’m going to talk about failure.

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#3 – Hike the Iron Goat Trail. 

After hiking 30 miles of the Forest Park Wildwood trail in 2017, I thought surely more adventurous hiking should be in store for 2018. Somehow I stumbled upon the Iron Goat Trail (located in Washington) and it landed on my list without much thought. As summer approached, I started doing some research and found that either the trail was partially or completely closed due to some intense weather washout (note the warning below).

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Also, the trail is a measly six miles. Clearly, I didn’t do the correct research ahead of time. Lesson learned.

#20 – Enter something new at the state fair.

There’s nothing more fun that submitting my creations to the state fair and then finding out I didn’t win anything. I’ve spent the years throwing my hat in the ring with my marshmallows, the gingerbread house, the infamous dollhouse, the chocolate chip cookies, or the fiercely competitive table setting, all to lose miserably. This year, my eye was on the prize. But August was pretty busy and I just couldn’t get it together. We still still did EVERYTHING ELSE the fair had to offer, so it’s still a win for me.

#21 – Juggle a soccer ball 50 times in a row.

Back in my youth, I could pick up a soccer ball and easily juggle it 50-100 times. I didn’t have a cell phone and the internet was incredibly lame. There wasn’t much else to do. Sadly, today I can crank out 20 on a good day which is a bit embarrassing as a soccer coach. My grand plan was to challenge my soccer team to a juggling contest which would motivate me to get my skills in check, as well as prove to the world that I can still hang. I even bought a limited edition gold Nike Neymar ball.

Guess what? The soccer season ended just as fast as it started, and frankly I was way too busy on the Peloton bike.

I’ve checked off 12 goals so far this year and I’ve got eight more potentially to go – which is A LOT for only seven weeks left in the year (remember what I said about an onslaught of upcoming blog posts?) so there’s no time to have a pity party over things that didn’t happen.

This week, I’ll be focusing on #14 – Create an emergency plan, which seems timely since, well, you know…

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#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.

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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