Back to the Beginning

This year, I had several physical/fitness goals in my bucket list, which are usually my favorite items to check off. Traditionally, they require a lot of training, and while some were solidly checked off (run a mile in less than 6:30), others ended up being depressing fails (10 pull-ups in one set). You win some, you lose some, right?

As I review my fitness goals for this year – it occurs to me that I’m way off. Way way way off. In the spring, I was devoted to my burpees, mixing them into my workouts and doing 50 every night before bed. I was up to 52 in one set, albeit breathless and near barfing. But I kept getting sick and somehow the busyness of work took over, and now I can’t even remember the last time I did a burpee.

Granted, I did check off the 30-mile hike last weekend, and that was a big one, but I should have predicted that the other fitness goals would be a struggle. Why? When I wrote them down, they didn’t excite me. There was no enthusiasm. The mindset behind achieving them was more compliant than engaged. Thus I spent little to no time on them.

But there’s still 2.5 months left in the year, right? I could easily train for them? Maybe.

However, right now there is one major factor: I’m working too much. It’s getting in the way of all parts of my life. Some people have trouble saying no to loved ones, or to donuts. I have trouble saying no to more job opportunities. (And donuts).

The bright-side is that I’ve been working out with a fantastic new trainer for about two months, and that alone is a win for me. Twice a week, I’m pushing a sled with 150lb load and deadlifting more than my forearms can handle, all before the workday. So really, I have almost zero guilt about not training for my bucket list fitness goals.

ALSO, a much, much more important factoid is that it’s been 12 months since I’ve had an injury. I’ve almost been too afraid to say anything or I might jinx the universe. This is HUUUUUUGE. Momentus. How am I celebrating? By plopping down a fat chunk of change on an experienced trainer.

As I officially have 2.5 months left in the year, I’ve decided that I’m going to re-up my intent on my fitness goals. It’s almost as if I’m starting from scratch.Back to the burpees, back to planking, back to dragging bags of sand. And less to working.

I’ve said it publicly, so here I go.


Why I Won’t Say “No”

Right now, I’m doing that thing that everyone is doing this time of year: microanalysis of all the things I did wrong in 2016 and thinking about how to get myself right. Eating better, exercising more, saving money…how many of you packed a healthy lunch from home today? Hmmmmm??? Yeah, I thought so.

When it comes to my bucket list, I have a firm rule that doing less of something has no place on my goal list. I’ve been googling “Bucket Lists” for final inspiration and so many of them say, “No sugar for 30 days,” or “Only cash for 30 days” or “No phone for a day” and on and on. Sure, I get it; these are definitely habits that can improve one’s quality of life. Frankly, I’m on that no sugar kick right now (although going without my phone sounds like torture) – no judgment on cutting out cupcakes.

However, for me a bucket list is about doing more, not less. (Even years back when this blog was about couponing, my goal was to indulge more on less money).

The idea behind my goals is that it pushes me to try, learn, or see something new; to challenge myself to something fun or nearly impossible. To say, “This year, I’m going to deprive myself of a lot of things and it’s going to be awesome” sounds ridiculous -right? You can’t break a habit without replacing it with something more worthwhile – it just doesn’t work.

Don’t believe me? Read this book.


I’m not trying to bag on anyone’s healthy lifestyle goals, I’m just saying that it’s likely that you’ll be miserable on day six because you haven’t had a cheeseburger or you’re sore from your new spin class or you already screwed up and bought pair of designer shoes. HOWEVER, you can deflect that misery if you also create for a goal that coincides with something you’re truly looking forward to.

I feel like we say no to things all day (at least I do). It’s reallyREALLY hard to have willpower when you’re constantly thinking about the things you can’t have or can’t do. Where is the fun in that? I don’t know about you, but I’m not here to say I didn’t do things in life; I’m here to do all the things.

Well, maybe not everything. I have no interest in learning the bagpipes. You get what I mean.

Today I spent some time looking at my goals from years past, and I can see a real evolution – they are getting bigger, more wordly, more weird (ok, they’ve always been weird).

So if you’re reading, I suggest that while you go easy on the chocolate, you also think about what you can do to enrich your life. It might make those heroin-like sugar withdrawal symptoms less painful.

(Also, if you’re kicking the sugar, I found this graphic that you can try. From experience, it won’t help you at all. You will still feel like you want to crawl in a hole and die at the end of the week. Stick with it – you’ll feel stronger in the end).


Tomorrow – I’ll publish my 2017 list. Probably.

The failures of 2016

Do you know that I have now been bucket list blogging for five full years? And as of today, I have checked off 84 goals (and I’ll add a couple more by the end of the year). But before I take my standing ovation, I’m going to talk about this year’s failures.

Every January, when I publish my list, a lot of thinking goes into each item. Is it realistically doable? Is it going to be fun enough? Do I have enough time? And while there is a certain level of expected failure, this year had more than usual.

For instance, I never got a swim coach and obviously didn’t meet my swim goal of 1-mile in under 30 minutes. Last year, as my knee was continuing to bug me, I had grandiose plans of becoming a swimmer. When I’m on the spin bike at Nike, I’m overlooking their olympic-size pool, watching the swimmers…but the idea of changing into a suit combined being all wet and cold afterwards was too complicated for me. I love running because you only need a pair of shoes and some headphones – it’s easy, and there are few excuses.

So ok, swimming is OUT.

Let’s talk about fishing. Ooooohhhhhhh lost dreams. I knew that catching a fish with my bare hands was ridiculous, and I’ve not given up on this one, but with ice fishing I’ve had trouble identifying a lake frozen enough in the Pacific Northwest. We are a warm, mild climate and despite our recent snow storms, even the lakes on Mt Hood are not frozen like the ones I see on Youtube in Minnesota. We don’t ice skate or play hockey on our lakes over here. So it’s not to say ice fishing won’t happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.

How about my Friday the 13th tattoo? Did you know that in Portland, where tattoo shops line every corner, you can walk into a shop on any Friday the 13th and get a tattoo for something like $30. This year, I was super excited to get a spontaneously cheap tattoo but it happened to fall on the same day that I returned from a week-long Outdoor School with 30 middle school students. REGARDLESS, I jumped in the shower the minute I got home and started calling shops…but by lunch time their slots for the whole day were already filled up.

Also, after two years, I’ve given up on the piano. I just don’t have the time. Nor do I particularly feel the pull to spend a night on Sauvie’s Island. If someone wants to rent a yurt with me next year, let me know.

As for the “grow a mini-garden”, it sounded all well and good in January when I was expected a summer of leisure, tending to my tomatoes. Then I ended up teaching two classes at the university and couldn’t even remember to water my potted plants. NEXT!

Failure is inevitably part of any goal. If it’s not challenging, or doesn’t have risk of failure, it’s not a good enough goal. I can accept that this year almost 30% of my goals didn’t get crossed off, either because of circumstances or just sheer laziness, but the good news is that there is the other 60% of cool things I did do. Hel-lo, I ran in Barcelona! I took a ferry to a Hawaiian island! I paddle boarded in the Mediterranean! I ran a race with inmates at the state prison! It was a wild year.

These failures are important to reflect on as I’m finalizing my 2017 list…I ask myself, Is it fun enough? Do I have enough time? Is it realistic? And the cycle repeats itself.

So tell me – what else should I try to do? What are your goals?

#1 – Learn to dribble and shoot a basketball. Check.

Out of all the goals I had this year, shooting a basketball seemed the most intimidating. Coming in at five foot zero, that net is so far away. And let’s be real, my arm-sport game is pretty weak. Although I did learn to throw a ball better last year, it’s far from a bragging right.

The first time Thor took me to the basketball court was embarrassing to say the least. He started modeling how to shoot a basket and I was like, “No back it up – how do I even hold a basketball?” but with a few sessions of practice, I was getting the hang of it.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<PAUSE FOR A MOMENT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Question: Why do I even care about shooting a basketball?

After watching so much NBA with the men of my life, I repeatedly failed to understand how anyone could miss a free throw. Isn’t that what they are paid MILLION$ of dollars for? And everyone is lined up on the side, you can take your time – what is so hard about a free throw?!

For Example:

And people would explain to me that there is so much more to basketball, and blah blah blah. But seriously, isn’t a free throw basically FREE?! (My head is still exploding over this).

Answer: If I want to talk shit about free throws, I should be able to make them myself.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<RESUME PREVIOUS PROGRAMMING>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Now that Beaverton built a fancy new school in my backyard, I can practice free throws all I want. Thor has shown me the ropes, but I need to demonstrate mastery independently; in the teacher world, we call this gradual release of responsibility. I believe my learning target is, “I can dribble a basketball and shoot free throws at 80% accuracy.” Sound fair?

I’ve been practicing a lot on my own, and consistently I am able to sink (is that the right term?) eight out of ten baskets. AND I can demonstrate from multiple points of entry on the court (all the PE teachers around the world right now should be taking note that differentiating for proficiency isn’t hard at all!). I can even adjust for wind interference. Whaaaaaaaaat. I said it: wind.

Here we go, not exactly the most exciting video – but you get the idea:

And just in time for the new basketball season, here are some big fails. (Ugh – so many Blazers featured in here…)

#4 – Get my name on a Pioneer Square brick. Check. Sort of.

Last year I was hanging out with my friend, Jennie, and she mentioned that her husband had bought her a “brick” at Pioneer Square. She said they sent her a brick map and she could go hunt for her particular brick downtown. It was a random, offhand conversation, but I made note that I wanted my own brick. I don’t really have a good reason; I just want one.

Pioneer Square (for those who don’t live in Portland) is a center area downtown – a union of sorts. Sometimes they have small festivals (i.e. the Italian Festival or the Holiday Ale Fest), and sometimes it’s just full of hippies and occupiers and people waiting for the Max.


The thing is that I didn’t really do my research on getting a brick. I found the website to buy it back in January and then figured I would just do at some point. When I went to officially purchase my brick in June, I realized I had missed a May 2016 cut off. I still put in my order, and then got a letter in the mail that said my brick will be installed next summer…in 2017.

Whatever! The order is officially in.

The brick cost $100, and not only will it display my name, but I also had 18 characters (including spaces) to write something. Let me tell you, 18 characters is REALLY short. Every time I had something good, it was one or two characters too long. For instance, “Dude, where’s my brick?” and “0 to 100 real quick” were too long.

So what did I pick? Well, I’m not telling, yet. But you can probably guess where it comes from…telephone-busy.gif