New Shoes – Duh

April 9th, 2014 at 12:12 am

Before deciding to do my 30 mile bike race on a ridiculously heavy bike, I had been trying to get back to running three times a week like I was when I was training for the half. Every time I started though, outside or on a treadmill, I started to get achey – sometimes in my feet, sometimes my knee…well, most times in my knee. Unsurprising. I couldn’t believe it was OVER 6 months later, and I still couldn’t even get through 2 miles without pain.

Then my superhero/personal trainer mom came to visit, took one look at my shoes and scoffed – “Your treads are gone. You just need new shoes.” Duh. I had forgotten the first (well, maybe not the first, but certainly one of the top 10) rules of running. Have pain? Buy new shoes.

So I did – I finally traded in my beautiful pink Nike’s that carried me 13.1 miles to a triumphant (and painful) half finish, through runs up and down the East River in New York and through my final 11 mile long-run through Central Park last May for new bright orange Nike’s that will carry me? Who the hell knows where, but somewhere!* Today, they carried me to the treadmill at Equinox where I finally ran 2 miles (TWO WHOLE MILES! Golly Gee!) without pain! Yay new shoes!

Today’s Workout: 2 miles on the Treadmill, 3 sets of Single-Leg Russian Deadlifts, 2 sets of clamshells, and 2 sets of crunches. Foam Rolling/Stretching.

**I my shoes at this awesome little running store in Marina Del Rey where they took one look at my old shoes, watched me run on a treadmill, and found me perfect new shoes.

(NOTE: I’m in the process of potentially turning this blog into a fitness blog! Let’s see how this goes…you can check out my new About page to get some background!) 

Yoga, Guided Nap, or CRAZY TIME WARP?!

April 9th, 2014 at 12:08 am

About two months ago, I accompanied my friend Laura to a Restorative Yoga class in Santa Monica. We actually made kind of a picturesque night of it – we walked a long the beach, took obligatory pictures of the sunset, then headed into what was billed as a relaxing class for anyone who might be injured or who might like stretching for over an hour.

I dressed, as I normally did for yoga, in a sports bra, yoga top, hair tied back tightly to stay out of my face when sweat inevitably drips down it while holding plank for ungodly periods of time. I soon realized this was all unnecessary. Apparently, in restorative yoga, you don’t get off the floor. You just use various bolsters, blocks, and blankets to have glorified nap time in poses that “open you up” aka poses that don’t hurt because you hold them for actual ever.

Except it doesn’t feel like forever. It feels like you hold them for normal amounts of time. Then like five poses in, you are in shavasana and are done and walking out saying, “Wow! That didn’t feel at all like an hour!” Then your friend Laura looks at you and says, “Amanda, that was an hour an a half…” and then you make a face that surely looks like fake surprise, because you only did like five poses! It was like, laying on the bolster kind of upright, super supported pigeon, legs up a wall, then over! That was an hour and a half!?

And that is when I first experienced the time warp that is restorative yoga.

I didn’t go back for a while, but after yesterday’s bike ride of endless quad pain, I decided to try the Restorative class at Equinox to help console my body. Like everything else at Equinox, I thought this might be a more intensive restorative yoga. After all, it said it was for beginners and people with injuries, so surely there might be at least one down dog, since that is normal yoga and beginners need to learn that, right? I again pulled my hair back, and again, half way through the class (well…I thought it was like at the beginning of class, but who the hell knows. TIME WAS STANDING STILL AND MOVING AT WARP SPEED ALL AT ONCE AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG I HAD MY HAIR UP, OK?) I pulled my hair out, because I literally laid on my back for an hour and a half.

This time, I thought since I knew the time warp was possible, I would be more aware. I would try to figure out how long I was in each pose. I would breathe and secretly count. And I thought I did. Then, again, like five poses in – seriously, we started in shavasana, then did some twists, some supported bridges, and some legs up the wall –  it was over! Again! I swore it had been MAYBE half an hour and AN ACTUAL FULL HOUR AND A HALF HAD GONE BY. I don’t know why this phenomenon freaks me out so much. Maybe this is why people like meditating so much. I feel super light and free after the class, but it only takes five minutes for me to start analyzing how long i think I was actually in each pose and if that number adds up to an hour and a half and then the high is gone.

Maybe next time I’ll just give into it completely – despite the terrifying time jumping nature of the class, my legs felt magically much better afterwards, so the name is fairly correct.

Today’s Workout: Restorative and Meditative Yoga (1 hour and 15 minutes….that felt like 6).

(NOTE: I’m in the process of potentially turning this blog into a fitness blog! Let’s see how this goes…you can check out my new About page to get some background!) 

A 30 Mile Ride on a Terribly Heavy Bike

April 9th, 2014 at 12:05 am

About six months ago, I decided that if I wasn’t going to run all the time, I should probably do something else that didn’t make my knees want to physically part with my body. I thought biking sounded like as good a thing as any – I could still be outside. I could still do it without having to get myself to a gym. Seems pretty much like running.

Six months ago I thought a lot about this but did nothing but vaguely mention my idea to my manager at work.

About a month ago, my manager, who biked a century last summer (that’s 100 miles…), sent out some rides she had found for April that we should look into. Two were 60 miles. This felt like…a bit of a stretch for a month’s training. We settled on a 30 mile ride in Redlands. My general thought was, I could totally bike 30 miles! I did a half! I CAN DO ANYTHING! I AM BASICALLY A SUPER PERSON! (Note: this may have been an unwise stance to take.)

I did some training – mainly leisurely biking to the beach and “riding” 20 miles on a bike at the gym, which only took about an hour, which felt…suspicious. My main concern was getting a nicer bike to do the ride on, because nothing is worse in fitness than feeling like you don’t belong in a group of people who do the fitness activity that YOU want to do but know very little about.  I currently have a hybrid bike, which is basically a glorified beach cruiser with gears. I did not want to throw down a thousand dollars to buy a fancy bike for a sport I didn’t even know if I liked yet, so that was out. Then I’ll rent a bike! I thought triumphantly!

Catch! Fancy bikes also have fancy pedals you have to clip into, which is tricky if you haven’t done it before. After several awkward trips to bike stores, which reinforced my notion that nothing is worse than feeling like you know nothing about the sport you are new to in a store specializing in the sport you are new to, I learned that to rent a bike, I would need to get pedals for my bike (at least $40) to practice clipping into with, and of course, cycling shoes to practice with (about $100) and then thrown down another $100 to actually rent the bike on the day of the race. So I finally asked, “How bad would it really be to just do 30 miles on the bike I have?” Because I like the limited amount of money I have, and I realized not only am I not willing to spend thousands of dollars, I’m not even really ready to spend tens of dollars on an unknown sport. This felt like a solid monetary decision.

This continued to feel like a solid decision when I showed up to the ride day in Redlands (aka the MOST ADORABLE FREAKIN TOWN IN SOCAL!) and saw people with mountain bikes! Mountain bikes! Hah! I was definitely better off than these people!

Until I realized they were there to do the 10 mile race…and everyone doing the 30 mile ride I was signed up for had fancy road bikes, fancy cycling shoes, and very fancy looking biking outfits. I was on my hybrid bike with my cushy seat and a tech shirt from a 4 mile run. Worst fear realized? Pretty much…

And that was before I got through the first half mile feeling solid only to turn and begin up the literally FIVE MILES OF UPHILL CLIMBS that began this 30 mile ride. Two miles in,  a couple on a tandem bike passed me on the steepest hill of all time. Five miles in, as my manager waited for me at the top of yet another ridiculous climb (she also has a fancy bike), my legs felt like they were actually on fire. 15 miles in, my manager waited for me at the top of the umteenth hill with a group of people who noted I was working “pretty hard with a bike that heavy.” I AM AWARE EXPERIENCED BIKERS. I BASICALLY HAVE NO LEGS AT THIS POINT.

But then, we hit a couple of triumphant downhills and got to a rest top where there were puppies. (The race was benefiting an animal shelter). Finally, the finish felt really close, and I actually got to ride alongside my manager for more than a mile, and we chatted enough for me to forget the pain. After three long hours of biking, we made it to the finish where there were more puppies and a t-shirt. A solid reward.

And I foam rolled my quads for a painful 30 minutes later that day, I remembered a lesson I learned in running that I should’ve transferred to biking but somehow did not – that even when your worst fears are, in fact, realized in new fitness excursions, they usually aren’t as bad as you think they’ll be. Most people at races and rides could care less about you and your bike (except for maybe my parents who do judge people who wear the official race t-shirt to the race, although they won’t admit it) or your gear or anything about you (unless maybe you get in their way or trip them or something…) Mostly, they care about themselves and about the experience, and that is what I cared about in the end. I biked 30 miles on a crazy heavy bike, and I did it! Now I know that biking is a thing I could do once I come into about $1000, so I never have to ride my hybrid bike up a hill again.

(NOTE: I’m in the process of potentially turning this blog into a fitness blog! Let’s see how this goes…you can check out my new About page to get some background!) 

The Greatness and Gratitude Situation

October 13th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

So the ladies of Elevate have declared out last theme of the year to be Greatness and Gratitude – this year, I’ve already made gratitude a huge part of my life, taking time (almost) every night to write down good things that happened and things I’m grateful for that day, but I still find myself feeling intense social media envy pretty often- envious of other people’s brunches, beautiful haircuts, exciting adventures, fast races, and general seeming life amazingness, so Molly, in her wisdom, challenged me to do something about it – to work to create a beautiful life for myself that, if I saw it on social media, I would be jealous of – if all I see are the highlights from everyone else’s exciting life, why couldn’t I see the highlights in my own in the same way? Sounds odd, but I think, pretty genius.

So I’ve been trying to keep up my gratitude practice of writing down what I am grateful for each night, but I’m also trying to document those things on instagram, both to help me see what is great about my life and to keep up my creative practice! (I’m also trying to get back into some sort of photography groove…taking my actual camera out more often is also part of this.) This has not only made me reflect on the great and exciting things that I do but it has also made me DO more exciting things and notice and celebrate them as they are happening.

It has made me stop at a restaurant to really think about how amazing the pumpkin grilled cheese I’m eating is or how adorable the menus are. It has made me look at an afternoon of reading for work and think “Hey – why not do my work-out now to bike to the beach and read there rather than staying in all day then going to the gym at night?” It has made me going on more adventures – hiking, and paddle boarding, and baseball games and pumpkin patching- and really treasure how lucky I am to get to do those things.

So now, I present to you, my pretty great week (well, a little more than a week, as I started this post a couple days ago…) in the hopes that this will continue on in a series, not to brag, but to remind myself that I do live a pretty great life sometimes.

The day I bought all of the pumpkin things at Trader Joe’s:

(Note: This led to me eating pumpkin granola with pumpkin spice coffee for breakfast and pumpkin mac and cheese for lunch AND dinner for a number of days.)

Pumpkin Everything

The time I woke up and decided to go to to the beach to read just because (and the two more times I’ve done this since):

October Beach Day

The time I got (ridiculously delicious) Mexican food (from a truck) with two wonderful former co-workers and some amazing former students:

Mexican Food

The many times I’ve recently going Stand-Up Paddleboarding and only fell in once!

Paddleboarding

The dinners I’ve gotten with friends including this one with cheesy, bacony tater tots and cauliflower gratin:

Father's Office

The time I got to welcome fall by being a make-shift bartender of Pumpkin Ale at my good friend’s birthday:

Beer Tap!

My weekend adventure to the pumpkin patch: (There is clearly a fall theme here…)

pumpkin patch

These salted brown butter rice krispy treats I made that were freakishly delicious:

rice krispy treats

The Fitness Goals Situation

October 1st, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I guess it was expected that I would have a bit of a fitness slump post half-marathon. I moved across the country. I worked an intensive job for five weeks that left little time for fitness. Plus, there was that whole I-could-barely-run-the-last-two-miles-of-the-half-marathon-because-of-intense-knee-pain-in-both-my-knees situation that left me without the actual ability to run for a while.

I also knew it would be hard to get back into a fitness routine without the luxury of grad school living where my earliest commitment of the day was at noon, and even that was only two days a week.

Somehow knowing all of this, I was somehow still beating myself up when, after two months of being back in LA, I was struggling to work out even twice a week and still unable to run because of my ridiculous knees.

After a couple of weeks of beating myself up, I had, as per usual, a wonderful call with Molly during which she made me cheer for myself for working out three times that week, instead of beating myself up for not working out five times a week like I had been doing regularly in my cushy grad school existence. This got me to start thinking first about perspective – realizing that I don’t need to be perfect to stay in shape. Working out three times is certainly better than working out no times, and even though its been two months, its only been two months! I am still adjusting to this whole being-back-in-the-working-world thing.

Second, I started to really think about WHY I had been successful in New York, It wasn’t just my abundance of time that got me up to get to 8AM yoga even when I didn’t want to; it was because I had a schedule, and I had a reason – if I didn’t work out regularly, I would be royally screwed come May 30th when I needed to get my body to move for 2 and a half hours.

I realized I also needed more of a concrete reason to motivate me to use the time I do have (which is enough to do at least something with). I have time in the morning. I have time on the weekends, and I need a reason to go even when I don’t want to or when I’m tired. I needed to make working out feel not like a choice again.

While all that was swirling in my brain, Molly also challenged us to get in touch with our core desired feelings, or the deep seeded reasons we do the things we do or the things we yearn for. You can figure them out by stating what you want and why you want it in the form of: I want —– so that —–. For instance, I want to run a half marathon so that I prove that I can. I want to prove that I can so that I feel strong. I want to feel strong so that… When you can’t say “so that” anymore, you’ve gotten to the core feeling. The yearning.  Feeling strong, I realized, it one of the things I yearn for.

All of this lead me to where I am now.

First, I do think I want to set new goals – I am attempting to go to the doctor to figure out my knee to be able to run a 10K in January. I’m contemplating signing up for a bike race if my knees remain dicey or even a short Spartan race to help push me to keep doing full body strength training. I’m also toying with the idea of committing to doing yoga teacher training in 2014 to keep encouraging myself to go to yoga. As a step in the direction of accountability, I joined a personal training gym on a trial basis where they give you a work out plan and free personal training when you sign up, and for my first week, its worked! I worked out four times last week, plus I went hiking and stand-up paddleboarding (which is my new favorite awesome LA thing.) It’ll be interesting to see if this gym is enough or if I do end up needing to thrown down some cash for a race.

On the other hand, I’m also trying to investigate this yearnings business, to keep reminding myself that working out and being healthy and strong is an end in and off itself. I get a rush out of lifting heavier weights than I thought I could (25 pound rows today!) or from going for a long bike ride, not just from competing in a race, so why do I need the race? I don’t really have an answer for that yet, except that I am trying, while I work out, to soak in the badass feelings I get when I finally nail a hard a pose in yoga or do 10 more push-ups than I thought I could. Perhaps I’ll think of a new concrete goal soon, but maybe my goal can just be to fulfill this yearning as much as possible and see where that takes me.

The Triumphant Return Situation (Sort Of…Well, There’s a Poem, so…)

September 29th, 2013 at 8:04 pm

balloons

“The season for longing is over -
stop saying you can’t
or its hard,
or there’s no place for me.

Get clear on what you want and make it happen
And if you can’t make it happen,
Know it will come, and it will happen in time
When it needs to.

Soak in the wonderfulness of now
Because it will never be again
And even when you get all the things you want,
There will be parts of now
That you will long to go back to.

Accept that you already have and deserve a great life,
But that there is so much more waiting to happen,
And it will.
The season for longing is over
And the season for doing is now.

Write plans, hold yourself to goals
And step into your greatness
Because it is already inside of you.
But don’t fail to recognize the beauty in getting there,
The invaluable experiences you are getting along the way
To what you think you really want.

And remember, that being great doesn’t mean living easy.
There will still be hard days, messy moments,
And imperfect mornings when you may not want to get up
But that doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
It just means you are alive, and life is hard,
And even the people you think have it all together
Have messiness too.

So stop longing and start doing.
Write. Photograph. Read. Eat. Dance. Race. Share.
Do all the things you envy other people for doing.
Put yourself out there because
Despite what it sometimes feels like
You do have time. Start to use it.
Start doing.”

- Written as an exercise for my work with Stratejoy, inspired by “What To Do the First Morning the Sun Comes Back” by by Roseann Lloyd, and shared here as my foray back into blogging in my effort to keep starting to do (if that makes sense). So…let’s do this thing.

The Missing a Yoga Class Situation

March 6th, 2013 at 10:10 pm

On Friday, I was going to write a post about how kick-ass I’ve been feeling as I’ve ramped up my training for the Run to Remember Half Marathon I’m running in May.

For almost a month now, I’ve been running three times a week (at least four miles), heading to my new New York happy place, Yoga Vida, twice a week, and doing strength training once a week. In just that short amount of time, I’ve shaved a minute off my running pace, increased my daily milage from 3.9 miles to about almost 5 miles, and felt my arms get stronger and my flexibility increase with every push up in strength training and forward fold in yoga. I’ve been riding high on the awesomeness of setting a goal, making a plan, and following through on it every day. I even did a little self congratulatory dance to Ke$ha in my room Monday after squeezing in a run between an all day conference and my class that night. I looked in the mirror and for the first time, I thought, “Hey, I kind of look like a runner!”

Then yesterday happened. Well, it really started Sunday night when I couldn’t sleep. I did that thing where I laid in bed form 11:30 until 2:45am going back and forth from trying to meditate or count my breaths to giving up and getting on the internet to research summer classes one more time. I knew this lack of sleep would come back to bite me, though it didn’t on Monday. Monday, through my super long day, I somehow felt great, but then my alarm went off on Tuesday, waking me at 6:45am to get up for my regular 8am yoga class, and I just could. not. get. up. I tried. I really did. I thought through how much work I had to do that day and how if I didn’t go to the 8am class, I wouldn’t be able to go later. I thought about how I was breaking my work-out streak and how I would feel better if I went. I talked through all the usual stuff that eventually gets me out of bed, but that four hours of sleep I got on Sunday left me almost dead, so I stayed in bed. And I missed my first work out in three weeks. And I hated myself.

All day, I could not stop beating myself up. I even stopped doing the mountain of work I had to do mid-day and did some yoga in my room for 20 minutes hoping to alleviate the guilt, but it only made me madder at myself for not going. I felt like I had let myself down. I had ruined my streak. I had been riding so high; I should’ve know there would be an inevitable fall. Plus, I just felt crappy. My legs hurt. I felt lethargic, and I had that sad look of still being in my pajamas at 2pm.

Today, I woke up feeling equally gross, but my guilt laden mind would not let me skip another work-out. I got myself up (late) and managed to drag myself (through some RIDICULOUS wind! Damn you endless NY winter!) to the gym, and made it through 42 minutes of my planned 58 minute run…and it was awful. I felt tired and sore and never got into any sort of rhythm with the run, and I had to end early since I would’ve been late for work if I kept going. (Also, I may have collapsed had I kept going…)

On my walk home, I called my mom, as I always seem to do post-run to debrief how my training is going. I told her how terrible I felt about the last two days, how I’d been doing so well and was now…well not doing so well, how I feared that this was going to become a slide into me not training like I’ve been training, and as always, she pulled me back to reality.

She reminded me that I need to celebrate the fact that on Monday AND today, it would have been crazy easy to say, “Not today! Running would be too hard!” and stayed home and eaten a bag of goldfish while watching The Daily Show. But I didn’t. I went running.

And I need to remember that one yoga session does not make or break a half marathon training plan. Yes, I need to not make this a regular habit, but missing one class does not a pattern make. It means I didn’t get enough sleep one night, and I need to make sure that doesn’t happen regularly.

And I need to give myself a break. Seriously. I waver back and forth on this, because it was my unrelenting guilt yesterday that got me out of the house today to go running even though I felt kind of horrible, BUT there has got to be a way I can make this a positive, a way that I can keep myself going even when I’m tired that doesn’t involve beating myself up for slipping up and feeling terrible.

I don’t quite know HOW this will work out yet, but hopefully, I will figure it out soon, or else it is going to be a long way until May. And now I’m off to bed so I can get up for yoga tomorrow. Hopefully.

The Feminist Rant Situation

February 26th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I am a raging feminist and social justice advocate.

There. Now that’s out there. As that will pretty much inform everything I’m about to say.

How did I get to be this way?

Well, I think it was through a series of related events starting with growing up Jewish and living for a time in the South. Now, I’m not saying that being a Jew in the South is the same as say, being Black or Latino in America, but I did start to develop empathy for anyone who has to constantly feel like an “other” in a sea of people who have no idea what that feels like or that there is a whole sea of people who feel differently from them that even exists.

It continued when I started working for Teach for America. Part of TFA’s mission is to change the prevailing ideology about low-income children and children of color – mainly the idea many people wrongly have that they are unable to achieve at the levels of white, middle class or high income children – and to do that, TFA enlists corps members and alumni to be what they call stewards of the movement. We are urged to share our experiences with the masses to help show people what all students are capabele of doing when given equity of opportunity, despite the bleak and frankly racist and bigoted picture that is often painted of low-income children.

My ideology grew more intense when my sister prodded me to start reading feminist literature. Books like Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism and The Purity Myth put into words trends and feelings I’d always seen and felt but never had the words to express. It opened my eyes to the norming of misogyny in our culture that we so often just accept as truth or the way things are. This led me to read a variety of feminist blogs on a daily basis and to me reading up on social justice issues of all kinds. I just finished reading The New Jim Crow, which exposes the insane and horrifying way our criminal justice system systematically targets young black men, labels them criminals, makes it impossible for them to make a living or fend for themselves, and then chides them for being irresponsible.

It is extremely difficult to see the things I have seen in my life and to have read the things I have read without becoming a raging feminist and social justice advocate.

It is also just really really difficult to live in our country today and be those two things. For a whole lot of reasons.

First, it makes you feel like everything is the worst all the time. The more I read about Republicans lambasting the “takers” who want to “live off the state,” the more I feel like I’m fighting an impossible battle. The more I hear stories like this week’s This American Life about Harper High School and the tragedies these kids need to live through just to get to school in the morning, where their teachers are barely provided enough resources for them to get the support they need to deal, the angrier and less hopeful I become about how much change is really possible. The more I read about how intractable poverty is, just how hard it is to pull yourself up, despite our national myth that its totally possible if you just work hard enough, the more I mourn for those trapped in our country. The more I read about women needlessly dying or having blunt objects shoved into their bodies because a bunch of government officials, who are most likely men, don’t trust them enough to make decisions about their own bodies, the more I wonder how anything will change. And, most of all, the more I see people in my life or on the internet play it off like these things aren’t a big deal, like they are the victim because they can’t say anything they want, or like somehow their freedoms are being violated because they can’t force other people to live by their personal morality, like we somehow have double standards because privileged groups can’t make jokes about historically oppressed groups, I just want to scream that everything and everyone is the actual worst.

This leads to the second challenge – Its hard not to just be angry all the time. That is why my sister, Stephanie, and I constantly have conversations that just turn into us yelling at each other all the things we wish we could yell at the world.

“Dear white men, you are not actually oppressed when you don’t get to make sexists jokes about women! Dear Rich Republicans, poor people are not lazy. They are living in a cycle of poverty that you never had to battle your way out of on your way to making millions! Dear Internet Commenters everywhere, attack women for their words or their thoughts. Not the way they look!”

This brings me to my final challenge, and the one that led me to writing this post. It is really hard not to blow up like this at people in my life or online every single day. These beliefs that I have developed are such a huge part of me and of my value system, that when someone flippantly informed me that I’d probably be teaching behind a bullet proof window when I got into my school upon learning I had accepted my offer from Teach for America, (yes, that was a real thing that happened…), it was SO hard to not scream at that person that she was pretty much saying my students were going to be so messed up, they were going to SHOOT AT ME in the middle of class. (Please note: my students did give me hugs, buy me Steelers salt and pepper shakers, and are now getting into college….)

It becomes hard to not get into a twitter battle with someone who responds to my excitement over the mention universal preschool in the State of the Union with a comment about how lazy parents are the real problem, when I have never in my life met a parent who did not work their ass off when it came to their child, making sure they were doing everything they knew to do to better their child’s situation.

It becomes hard to not go off on a rant about how incredibly offensive (and frankly, unfunny and completely uncreative) I found Seth McFarlane’s Oscar hosting stint to every single person who says “Come on? What did you expect!? Its just jokes!” Yeah, jokes that perpetuate ideas about the importance of female beauty above all else told in a room of professionals in an industry that to this day is dominated by men and to a television audience of millions. Jokes like that have an affect and matter, and honestly, were exactly what I expected from somehow who writes Family Guy, which is why I was annoyed by his hosting in the first place.

These things and these ideas and our perpetuating them MATTER, and I firmly believe that with every fiber of my being, but I often hold my tongue. I suppress my rage and my full rants, because I don’t want to be the person who is constantly bringing down every conversation with serious discussions about how this is all super serious business that we need to take super seriously.

But its becoming harder and harder. Like I said, this stuff matters, because the things we say, the things we find funny, and the beliefs we hold about other people affect the choices we make individually and as a society, and nothing is going to change if I just sit here silently and let people make racist, sexists, close-minded remarks about groups of people I am either a part of or have worked with intimately through my career. I want things to change. I want us to actually accept and celebrate people’s differences instead of just claiming we do so that we can all feel good about everyone being “equal” without really examining what that means or doing what it would actually take to make that true. I want us to realize that it really is harder for some people to succeed in our country, so that we can work to help even the playing field instead of arguing that the people in power, who have historically been in power, are somehow getting an unfair deal just because they can’t say whatever they want, when really, they don’t want to be forced to examine their privilege because it makes them uncomfortable.

I know this post is super long and super ranty, but it was a long time coming. I’m tired of only saying these things to my sister and sometimes to my mom when she feels like listening. I want to say the things that I feel, the things that I know matter, to anyone who will listen, because we need to open our eyes to the way our society is – who it favors, who it oppresses, and why – not just the way we desperately want it to be.

I hope, if you feel the same way, you will join me in going on many much needed rants about the problems in our country and how we can actually start to address them.

The Gratitude Journaling Situation

February 19th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

One of my biggest goals for the first part of 2013 was to start a gratitude journal. I’d come across the idea in The Happiness Project, Flourish, and all over Pinterst – although those were more cutsey ideas than just writing down some good things in a journal.

All the resereach on positive psychology and happiness found that when people took time out of their day to express gratitude for the good things that had happened or to reflect on three good things that happened that day and why they happened, they were happier people.

After the hot mess of last year during which I spent a lot of time focused on what wasn’t going right and what I was not at all grateful for, this practice seemed really appealing.

I started on Janurary 1st, super gung ho. I wrote about how I’d had a great time ringing in the New Year on top of my friend Liz’s apartment building watching fireworks and drinking champagne. I wrote about the lovely lunch I had with Jillian and Steph…then I didn’t write for like three weeks. Changing habits is hard, yo.

Then the Elevate retreat happened, and I finally got my butt in gear. I added journaling to my daily to do list, (Sidenote: Wunderlist is the greatest thing to happen to my life this year.) and something clicked. After just two days of journaling, it became the thing I most looked forward to at the end of the day. Some days, I couldn’t write fast enough, there were so many things I wanted to jot down. Some days, it was a little harder to think of more than two or three things that went well, but really, having two or three things to be grateful for in a day isn’t bad at all. Plus it has been a great daily way to reognize myself for meeting my other goals, since I have a designatied time to essentially celebrate myself.

And do I feel happier? Its only been three weeks, but I really think I do. Maybe I’m just convinced I do because I want it to work, but even if that’s the case, it still means I’m happier! I think that taking the time to actually commit to paper things that are good in my life, even if they are small, even if they repeat every few days, (which, again, I count myself lucky to consider every phone call I have with my mother to be a thing I’m grateful for…), and even if its only one or two things, reminds me that I am living a pretty damn good life and that to spend my time sulking about the things I’m still working through is not how I want to spend my time.

I want to spend my time celebrating how great it was to have brunch with my Uncles, to get myself to the gym for six days in a row, to see Warm Bodies instead of sitting inside facebooking, to talk to Jillian or my sister on the phone, to get a fancy dinner and to meet new people, and those are the things I’ll be happy I wrote down to remember later when maybe things aren’t going so well. For now, though, things are looking up.

Unresolved Sexual Tension and Feminism on TV!

February 19th, 2013 at 2:14 pm

It only took a month and a half, but now, here’s the 2nd episode of the Super Cool Party People Podcast!

In this episode, we discuss unresolved sexual tension on some of our favorite TV shows, including our most recent obsession, Nick and Jess on New Girl. We then move on to dissect the feminist appeal of The Mindy Project, and finally, we end with our newest segment, Ahhh!/Uggghhh with things we are loving and hating this week.

And now for some links to things we talked about on the show, in case you feel like wasting the next four hours of your life learning more about things that are interesting to us:

Recap of The Mindy Project with every possible nod to romantic comedies pointed out.

New Girl Kiss!

Jezebel Article on a super pretty, super smart girl

Japanese Boy and his adorable French Bulldog

NYTimes Article on our national myth of equal opportunity

Some general horror film theory stuff: One / Two

Rebuttals to the annoying thing (Heritage Foundation study) Steph’s FB friend posted: One / Two

Ken Levin’s blog post on The Mindy Project