Hanging up my cape

ImageWhat do you do when almost everything about your life changes within a couple months? You live through it.

Some days you feel like a zombie. Others, you feel like an over-emotional lunatic. Sometimes you’re angry all day. And sometimes, you feel clear-headed, grateful for all that you have, serene, despite how crazy things are. But no matter what, you just keep going. Because if you stop, you may never get up again.

This post is me continuing on. It’s been six months since I blogged. But I have a good reason. Or 20. The in-a-nutshell, whirlwind version: my husband was offered a relocation package to Charlotte, N.C., we spent the summer preparing, we moved in August, his grandmother passed away in mid-August, we went back to Connecticut for a few days, we fell into a lot of sudden responsibilities (my husband is the executor of her will), we came back to Charlotte, his mother passed away in early September, we went back to Connecticut for a week, and now we’re back in Charlotte. Throw into that mix my working full-time remotely while trying to find a new job, getting settled in a new place – oh and thinking about trying to get pregnant.

I’m mentally exhausted. Grieving. Shell-shocked. Excited. Freaking overwhelmed. But I’m still going.

Last week, I was beating myself up a little for not being my typical 100 percent self. I struggled to focus on work. I only made it to the gym once. I hadn’t blogged in six months. The refrigerator needed to be cleaned. The to-do list hadn’t been touched in a few days. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Then, on Friday, I went to a local marketing agency for an informational interview. And as I heard myself talking about my many accomplishments, I was reminded of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am today. Talking to a friend later, she commented on how much I’d already settled into Charlotte and how, of everyone she knows, she would be the least concerned about me moving anywhere and finding my place.

They were little, but much-needed, reminders that I’m tough – that, no matter what, I’ll be okay. If that means having an off day or an off week, then that’s what I need.

As of yesterday, I’ve decided to go against my nature. Rather than try to be an overachieving Superwoman, I’m going to listen to myself. If I need a run to clear my head, I’m lacing up my sneakers. If I’m feeling run-down, I’m grabbing a pillow and blanket. If my head is spinning, I’m going to empty it into my journal.

Today, I had an Orange is the New Black mini-marathon (If you haven’t yet, check it out. Seriously awesome). I’m about to pick up my long-forgotten book and dig into it again. Every inch of my body feels confused and twitchy, because it’s not used to this type of relaxation. But my brain is telling me this is what I need. Sorry, refrigerator. You’ll have to wait another day.

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My love-hate relationship

This is not how I look on the treadmill. I'm the one you can't see, in the corner, red-faced and scowling.

This is not how I look on the treadmill. I’m the one you can’t see, in the corner, red-faced and scowling. Photo: 10k-running.com

One of my favorite bloggers, Ali of Ali on the Run, wrote a great post yesterday about the runner’s euphoria she recently experienced, attributing it to her bare, sans-tracking-device wrists. As someone currently in training for a seven-mile race – and a total type A who pushes myself to improve with every run – I can relate.

It’s been cold here in Connecticut, so I’ve been resigned to the treadmill, watching my intervals sloooooowly tick by as I huff and puff in the humid, over-heated gym. I’ve tried everything – magazines, audio books, music, watching TV (and combinations of these) – in an attempt to make it more enjoyable. But those harsh green numbers stare back at me, judging me, telling me I’m going too slow or my pace still hasn’t improved or that I’m clearly off today because I feel like I’ve run for an hour and it’s only been 10 minutes.

And don’t get me started on my neighboring treadmill runners, who jump on, kick the pace up to eight miles an hour (or more!) and sprint out an hour-long run without breaking a sweat. It’s a good thing they are focused, or else they’d see my red, sweaty face giving them the evil eye.

I completely admit that most days, I hate running – unless I’m outside. Those outdoor runs are what fuel the dreadful indoor ones.

Forecasters are claiming the weather will be a balmy 50 degrees this weekend. I so hope they’re right, because my Saturday and Sunday morning plans consist of outdoor runs around the nearby lake. I love these runs. I feel like a kid again, running without a care in the world as I take in the water, the friendly walkers and fellow runners, their cute dogs and the random duck or two (can spring ducklings be any cuter?). Sure, I wear my stopwatch/pedometer, but it’s not staring me in the face. In fact, I don’t look at it until after my run, just to benchmark my progress.

Those days, when I can clear my head and just observe my surroundings, I love running.

Which do you prefer – treadmills or the open road? And if you are a treadmill runner, any advice for making them less mentally anguishing is greatly appreciated!

My smaller 2013 un-resolutions

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Photo: Oriental Trading

Happy early New Year, everyone! Being highly superstitious, I never wish a happy early anything – heck, I won’t even change my calendar until the new month or year arrives. But I’m soooo ready to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013 with open arms.

This year has been tough. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that main challenges included the passing of a grandmother, the unexpected – nay, completely blindsiding – passing of my cousin and the murder of a childhood friend. Dealing with so much, along with adjusting to my promotion at work, meant less running, minimal writing and, ultimately, more stress and sad days and a nice 20-pound weight gain.

Needless to say, I didn’t achieve most of my un-resolutions for the year:

1. Run a half-marathon.

Um, nope. But I did begin yoga again after a year-long hiatus and have fallen back in love with it.

2. Officially change my name (this may be tougher than running a half-marathon from what I hear!).

Check!

3. Take a creative writing class.

Sadly, this went on the backburner.

4. Eliminate my debt (my current payment plan will allow for this).

I’m two months away, then I’m throwing the biggest party for myself EVER.

5. Build up my savings account (I have a particular number in mind).

In progress, but not quite where I hoped it’d be.

In my ongoing quest for better balance, I’ve set some smaller goals for myself for 2013:

  1. Run a 10K
  2. Get my shoulder stand to a point where I’m calmly breathing while holding the pose (versus flailing my legs around as I try to stay up)
  3. Finally take that writing class, even if it’s just a one-day workshop, to kick start my creative writing
  4. Give myself 10 minutes when I get home from work each day to reconnect with my husband and review the day, giving him my undivided attention
  5. Learn to cook three new meals without filling the kitchen with smoke, yelling for my husband to help in a panic or giving up and ordering takeout
  6. Continue to build my savings account
  7. Remind myself every day of all I have to be grateful for
  8. Think “I should” less and “I could” more

Like last year, these are goals I’m excited to work toward rather than resolutions I feel like I have to (or should!) make. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2013. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. After all, it’s an odd-numbered year (they are always good ones!).

Why you gotta check yourself before you wreck yourself*

This summer was tough. I lost two women very close to me. And while the initial sting and pain of their loss has eased up a bit, fall has been an insanely busy time at the office. Trying to balance my unwieldy workload with fun-packed weekends has resulted in sheer exhaustion – and a serious loss of balance. I feel drained, like I’m in a Frida Kahlo painting, bleeding out everywhere.

On top of the run-down feeling, I was beginning to get unexplicably angry and sad. Becoming annoyed with co-workers and short with my husband. Noticing I was becoming more critical of myself and my work, along with letting my Type A-ness get out of control when it came to cleaning (I clean when stressed).

Needless to say, this past weekend was a time to check myself. Okay, to be honest, I didn’t plan to check myself; I crashed. I napped on Saturday afternoon in my PJs and zoned out like a zombie, watching football all day Sunday.

The good part? I remembered why it’s so important to give yourself time to just be – time to forget deadlines, tuck the to-do list away, catch up on some reading, take a yoga class or go for a run and get back in tune with myself.

Inspired by my two days of relaxing, I turned a critical eye to my calendar and began moving back plans, spacing them out a bit so that I can build in “check yourself” weekends between busy ones. I made sure I got to the gym a few times this week, and carved out time to blog (hence, this post). I’m already feeling lighter and back to my usual self, rather than the crazed maniac I was becoming.

Can you relate? Do you have to check yourself, or have you mastered balance? I’m always looking for tips!

*Ice Cube is so wise!

My married life begins

Rex, sleeping in front of the Christmas tree. I should take relaxation lessons from him!

Merry belated Christmas, all. I hope your holiday was as wonderful as mine. Mine consisted of two days of family, doggies, delicious food, vino, a new shoe cabinet (my husband fully supports my shoe addiction) and – most importantly – my husband himself.

Since returning from our honeymoon, our lives have been a whirlwind. First, there was Thanksgiving, then the need to buy a new car, followed by a much earlier second dog adoption than expected, capped off with the holiday rush. All great things, but we’ve been two ships passing in the night – not the happily ever after I hoped for.

As we drove home from our last holiday destination last night, I mentioned to Brendan that I felt like we could finally start our new life together, now that the holidays were over. As always, he knew exactly what I meant without my having to explain. He’d been thinking the same thing (I swear he put a chip in my brain when we started dating so that he could read my thoughts. We often say the same things at the same time. It’s freaky.).

I’m looking forward to getting back to running and yoga (I ate enough this holiday week to feed a small country), writing and laughing with the husband and puppies. Those small things are truly gifts to me every day.

When Rex met Penelope

First car ride together.

I’ve fallen in love with someone else. She’s a 16-pound pug named Penelope that my husband and I just rescued, and she’s the sweetest little thing. She looks up at me with her Ewok-like eyes, and my heart melts. More importantly, she’s fit into our family seamlessly, like someone had already decided she was meant for us and was just waiting for the right time!

Our other dog, Rex, who has been the center of our universe since he arrived via plane from Iowa at eight weeks old, is taking it all in. He doesn’t quite know what to make of this wriggling, hyper, furry little girl who demands our attention and has smacked him across the face a few times for getting too close to her and thus jeopardizing the attention she’s getting from us. In short, he’s been force-fed a huge helping of humble pie. But he’s adjusting. We all are.

What’s amazing is how reminders of my need for balance continue to emerge. I have to make sure to give equal attention to both dogs to make sure they both know how much they’re loved. And I need to remember to do the same for myself.

Lately, work has been winning in the battle for my attention. Rather than training for a half-marathon, I’ve been crashing on my couch and watching the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime marathon, holiday shopping via the Internet (thank God for technology) and calling it a night by 10 p.m. Not exactly how I want to live my life.

My goal in the next two weeks: get myself back on track – and on the treadmill!

June Cleaver? Um, no.

Photo: flickr.com/photos/evilerin/

Before you read the title of this blog, roll your eyes, declare this yet another example of how women are screwing themselves in their quest for equality and leave, let me explain. Baking in high heels is a serious balancing act in a few ways – it’s balancing home life and career, it’s multi-tasking, and it’s trying to do something that’s freakin’ difficult (and uncomfortable – I suspect June Cleaver had some nasty callouses on her feet from her high-heeled-housekeeping shenanigans).

I’m doing all of the above, as my husband pointed out to me the other night. I was in the four-inch heels I’d worn to work, running around the kitchen, making tartlets for Thanksgiving the following day (I love to bake, hate to cook). “Look at you, baking in heels,” he chuckled. And the blog name I’d been trying to come up with for a while presented itself. I’m constantly, metaphorically baking in high heels.

Some background on me:

In April 2010, I got engaged to the love of my life. A few months later, once my eyes re-adjusted after staring at my ring non-stop, I had a thought: getting married really means I’m an adult now. But an adult takes care of herself and does what’s best for her, right? If that’s the case, I’d say I’m a preteen or a teenager, at best.

In all material ways, I take care of myself. But in the spiritual and mental ways, I often put others first. I’m a grade-A people pleaser. I’ll often overwork myself in the office or take on too much in my personal life, often foregoing what I really need – a good workout, time to read a book or do something else I enjoy, a good conversation with a friend.

I had committed my life to my fiancé. And he deserves a happy, healthy wife who takes care of herself physically and emotionally. And, more importantly, I deserve those things. So I began making some major changes and detailed my journey in becoming a “real adult” and heading toward the aisle in my previous blog, Pre-Aisle Adventures.

Now, I’m blissfully wed and trying to learn how to balance my relationship with my career, friendships, writing, running and overall continued evolution. And I’m chronicling my adventures in this new blog.

From learning how to manage a shared budget and navigating name change paperwork to training for a half-marathon and juggling a heavy workload at the office, my plate is full, which means this blog will be, too! I hope you’ll subscribe and tag along on my adventures.