Continued: Locked Out, in the Woods

Driving 101 North.

Driving 101 North.

I swore loudly into the serene surroundings. “Don’t lock the key in the car” and the sound of the locks swishing shut seemed to echo through the trees. I picked up a large, jagged rock from the dusty ground. It weighed heavy in my arms and I fumbled to get a good grip. Starring hard at the red Prius, I willed the window to break by itself. On one hand, I wanted to break the window and the option seemed strangely appealing. On the other, I had no interest in breaking the window to my brother’s car, had absolutely no desire to be in the situation I found myself in. How to proceed?

I focused on the high corner of the rear passenger window, opposite the drivers side. I knew exactly where I wanted the rock to cleanly break through. Maybe if I threw the rock hard enough, it would make a perfect hole for my arm. HAHA! Since closing the locked door on myself, I had burst into several bouts of laughter. “This is ridiculous!” I thought or even said out loud. What a joke.

Moments on 101.

Moments on 101.

Even considering throwing the rock caused my hands to shake a bit. I stood a few feet away from the car, lifted the rock above my head and squeezed my eyeballs shut as I heaved the heavy thing at the window. Not smart. It’s best to look at what you are aiming at. I missed my target by over a foot and put a pretty dent into the passenger side door. Shocked dismay, followed by more swearing and laughing, erupted from my being and was quickly absorbed by the hot dusty air. “This is bullshit” I told myself.

Realizing that breaking car windows is not my strong suit and that this was not the time or the place to practice, I chose to revisit option A. The original plan: walk the rest of the way to Leonard Lake and use the landline to call a lock smith. My sister and friends would be at the house and hopefully they could offer some guidance and support. If nothing else, there was a beer or a whiskey I could use to numb the feeling of stupidity that was washing over me.

A moment at the lake.

A moment at the lake.

I flip-flopped down the road, swinging my arms slightly and kicking pebbles. Who knew how far it was to Leonard Lake. Hopefully not more than 5 miles. I tried to keep my head up and enjoy the scenery, light streaming through branches, the occasional stream gurgling near by. It wasn’t long before I heard the rumble of tires on the dirt and saw a large white van driving slowly towards me. As it approached, they gave a little honk that sounded like a cat-call whistle. My low-cut, flowery mini dress would evoke this kind of attention, but I knew from the strange honk and decor on the dash that friends had arrived.

I leaned into the rolled down window, smiling broadly “You have no idea what’s happened” I said to the crew inside. The Miss Lonely Hearts, a sweet-strummin’ band from Santa Cruz, filled the vehicle, hung over and happy. I relayed my adventure, admitting all the ridiculousness that had unfolded back at the Prius. They hooped and hollered, shaking their heads, asking questions and saying “Sorry Girl”. They offered me a ride back to my car to see if they could help. I jumped into the back of the van  with the band’s singer by my side. “What do you want to do?” he asked. “Get drunk” I yelled and he handed me a bottle of whiskey from the cooler at his feet. I thought better of it as we rolled back in the direction of my car.

I was drowning in indecision, waffling about what to do. The Miss Lonely Hearts picked their way about the scene. Pulling on car door handles, poking around to find the key themselves, and admiring the dent in the car door. Half the band was in favor of breaking the window, the other half shook their heads, “I wouldn’t do it”. We played with the idea of producing a music video. They would set up and jam out while someone smashed the rear window with the crow bar they had handy. It would be a YouTube sensation! This I could get on board with.

Being in the presence of others, I felt more grounded. I resided to being a mature adult and agreed to a ride back to the main house at Leonard Lake to call a lock smith. Only a few hours later, a giant yellow tow truck would plow through the forest. I would meet the scruffy, rotund driver and he would take about 60 seconds to unlock the car and run my credit card $145 for the job. It should have cost me more, but let’s be honest – the flowery dress and a sense of humor probably got me a discount. This is the state of the world. So it goes.

Scene of the crime. Oops.

Scene of the crime. Oops.

I thanked the tow truck driver and in an incredibly anti climactic moment, I got into the car and drove back towards the lake. It was an OK Sunday.

The patio: Leonard Lake Reserve.

The patio: Leonard Lake Reserve.

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Glass Half…

Things.

Things.

By the time you read this, I will have been on vacation for a week. Thank God. So desperately needed. Someone recently shared this on Facebook:

‘A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.’

Remember to put the glass down.”

Bam. There it is. This little story sums up how I feel about a lot of things in my life lately. It’s a refreshing reminder that we have to watch our thought patterns so we don’t go too far down a dark and lonely path. It’s also frightening because I recognize how many stresses I have a death grip on. I am hoping that the week of beautiful unscheduled freedom I am about to experience (will have by the time you read this) will help hit the reset button. Or at very least, give me some new perspective.

Happy Labor Day!

To read.

To read.

Peeing in the Woods

Road Trip

Road Trip

My last post was “Why I am Unsuccessful,” where I described recognizing failure and moving on. I have another story I would like to share. It described another way in which I was unsuccessful this month and how I dealt with the situation. It will give a more complete picture of how my weekend went and how I handle stress. For better or for worse.

I struggled with the decision to drive the 3 hours to Leonard Lake Reserve on Sunday for my friends wedding party. Let’s be honest, I struggle with most decisions. In this particular case, the ceremony had already been held and I knew that a large group of gleeful hung over ladies and gentlemen, many of whom I did not know, awaited me at the Lake. Receiving this post from Danielle LaPorte’s blog, pushed me over the edge. Fine, I would commit, I would make the drive. If nothing else, it would be a mini-grand adventure by myself. Road trip!

I work up at 5:30am in Palo Alto, drove to my house in San Francisco to change and then jumped on the 101 going North. It is a beautiful thing to leave the foggy parts of the Bay Area. California’s landscape always blows me away and it’s a treat to wind over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the rainbow tunnel and into Marin’s sunnier parts. Cruising through wine country, I stopped in Healdsburg at Flying Goat Coffee for a break. I typed away on my computer at their counter while sipping a chai, feeling for a moment that this might be what it’s like to be a location independent writer on vacation. The trip was already worth it, watching the fog fall away to golden California hills and a bright blue sky.

The directions were simple enough, I made a left off the 101 onto Reeves Canyon Road and began the 12 miles of bumpy dirt road. Yay mini adventure! I have traveled a few dirt roads in the middle of no where by myself. I haven’t traveled so many that I don’t think twice about it. There is a different air about these things, as I strike out on my own.

I took the long solo drive as an opportunity to listen to some podcasts. Srini Rao from BlogcastFM and Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA accompanied me on my journey, and their voices didn’t fade as I veered off the main road and into the quiet forest of Redwood Valley. It was early enough that I felt relaxed about timing, imagining that I would stop somewhere along the way to take a dip in a stream or nap or read on a patch of grass if I found an inspiring spot. I rolled over baby bridges, through shadowy patches, and kicked up plenty of dust behind me. Eventually all the bumps in the road got to my bladder, as was I tanked up on water and coffee. I pulled over near a random gate and decided it was time for a pee and stretch break.

I stepped out of the car and breathed in the warm oak smell. I love the dry heat here. I pulled off my jean shorts and slipped into a flowery dress, changing into something a bit more festive. I picked a strategic spot in the bushes, held up my dress and peed in the woods. Ah! Satisfaction. The sun streamed through the tree branches, I could hear birds singing, and here I was, alone in the woods.

Leonard Lake Reserve

Leonard Lake Reserve

I plopped back into the drivers seat, imagining that the lake was waiting for me. I was ready for a swim. I sat for a minute, glancing around me. My dress has no pockets and I was empty handed. Oh yes, the key! It was in my jean shorts somewhere in the chaos of the back seat. I stepped out, allowing the door to swing shut, and reached for the rear door handle. I pulled. Nothing happened.

Shit.

This can’t be happening.

I pulled again. The door did not open. I frantically pulled on the front door. It was undoubtably locked. I pulled anyway. No. No. No! The plays over and over in my head, holding my hands up, scanning the seat around me, “where is the key?” I ask myself sitting in the front seat. I open the door with my left hand, that damn stupid lock button right beneath the door handle! Why do they put that there!? WHY!? As I opened the door, the weight of the side of my hand went down on the lock button and in one brief moment, everything seemed to change. There I stood, in the middle of the beautiful, calm woods, in a flowery dress and flip flops.

There was no cell phone reception for 6 miles, and I didn’t have my phone on me, so that was out. I was in the middle of the woods with nothing. I panicked briefly, my breathing became rapid and shallow. I paced back and forth and put my hands on my head again, covering my face. “Of course this is happening!” I thought, ready to cry. Should I cry? Do I laugh? What is happening right now? I pulled on the car door several more times and peered through the windows, attempting a sighting of the key. Not that it would have made any difference. Maybe I dropped it on the ground while I was peeing? I scoured the premises, finding nothing.

Now, apparently with most Prius keys, they advertise that you can’t lock yourself out because there is a proximity mechanism that detects the key. My brother’s Prius key happens to be broken. As he handed me this key, he joked “Don’t lock yourself out!” You literally need manually to take the metal key out of the electric part and physically unlock the door to get it. Then you put the key back together and put it in the ignition port. This is another broken record that played over and over in my head as I tried to figure out what to do. The key is in the car. There is no unlocking the car.

I came to the conclusion that I had 2 choices. I could walk the rest of the way to Leonard Lake and use the land line (!!) to call a locksmith and see how much it would cost for them to find me out here. Or I could break one of the rear windows and merrily continue on my way. My roommate had recently had her car broken into and she told me it costed less than $200 to have the window fixed. The way I did the math, breaking the window might be the cheaper and easier solution. That minus the time and stress of having to get the car fixed. Damn.

Highway 101

Highway 101

To Be Continued…

Why I am Unsuccessful

Take me as I am!

Take me as I am!

Allow me to put my cards on the table. I never signed up for the Get It Done in 30 challenge. I thought I did, so it wasn’t a complete lie, but it didn’t happen. I was under the impression that I had signed up for their trial run and that I would be part of an experimental group. Well, that was not the case. I realized that I had signed up for notifications and that trials had already happened. I decided that I did not want to pay the $97 or however many dollars it was to participate for August. “Go it alone!” I said. Again. I can tell you right now, I am failing miserably. I doubt I have lost a single pound (probably gained a few after the drinking this weekend), but the lack of a scale and benchmarks are clear signs that I’m not managing or measuring anything! I’ve had several intense conversations about weight and the psychology behind our bodies, but we all know that talk doesn’t make shit happen. I told myself that I would be strict Paleo this month. Can you hear me laughing? If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how much I love to quote Stevo: “We are all Paleo, BUT…” I’m a big butt. I have had my Paleo days this month, but it’s been a pretty weak attempt. The Get It Done in 30 is a great idea because it sets you up with one focus and a support buddy. Trying to accomplish a goal motivated largely by guilt and shame, and accomplish it alone, seems foolish. Fail. Epic fail.

Stevo's Nutrition Talk at San Francisco CrossFit.

Stevo’s Nutrition Talk at San Francisco CrossFit.

So far, I’ve been unsuccessful because I lied, I didn’t do what I said I would, I didn’t ask for support, and I didn’t measure anything.

This weekend, I watched a video on Marie Farleo’s blog. It is an interview with Steven Pressfield of Turning Pro. The take away is fairly simple, if you are passionate about something, treat it as though you are a professional. If you are serious about something and are committed to improving yourself in that arena then treat it with the same amount of respect and dedication you would your career. The example the author uses is a friend who was determined to become a better golf player. Apparently, she was truly awful. Instead of giving up, she bought herself a nice golf outfit, fancy shoes, some golf clubs and scheduled regular lessons. Dedicated to the cause, she announced that she was going to treat golf as though she were a professional. With consistent practice she worked her way to becoming a skilled golfer.

Yea, pick that shit up, Yo.

Yea, pick that shit up, Yo.

I would like to start applying this mindset more thoroughly to areas in my own life. It’s a process and I like the idea of growing into this attitude. Specifically, I feel that this has been happening naturally in regards to my writing. Since last September, I have become more dedicated to writing posts at specific times and have treated it as homework and a scheduled activity rather than something that will happen whenever. I even invested in a new computer earlier this year. I have spent many mornings getting up at 5:30am to make sure that I have at least 20 minutes of writing time before going to work. I’ve experimented with posting to this blog once or twice a week. I’ve researched different blog planning tools and have organized writing files on Google Drive. I am learning about social media and blog management tools. On top of that, I am receiving regular emails from some of my favorite blogs and podcasts to keep me in the loop of what is happening in the blogging world. I am hoping that by writing regularly and creating a consistent posting schedule, I will step more into the professional mindset of being a writer.

I tend to see the glass half full, however, I am using this post to illustrate how to recognize failure or where you are falling short and not give up entirely. I have been unsuccessful in behaving like a pro in regards to my blog by not posting yesterday (Monday). For August I told myself I would post twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays. Yesterday came and went. My excuse? I am exhausted. I spent Sunday in Ukiah with some friends after their wedding. This involved going to bed at 1am followed by a 5am wake up time and a 3 hour drive. After work I could barely think straight, so I crawled into bed and passed out at 8. Then I woke up at 2am to pee and haven’t been able to fall back asleep since. FAIL. So here I am, trying to catch up on writing and post some shit before another day passes and I feel even worse. Perhaps the early wake up is a blessing in disguise? Nothing like the wee hours of the morning to get things done.

Leonard Lake Reserve

Leonard Lake Reserve

If I had of acted like a pro, I would have gotten myself to a cafe with free wifi yesterday evening and posted to the blog, come hell or high water. In my mind, professionals don’t dwell on “I don’t feel like it” for very long. I am honestly OK with all the choices I made this weekend, despite exhaustion and crabbiness. I want to be real with myself and recognize where and when I succeed versus when I don’t. There are several goals now that I am certain will not be accomplished by my birthday. I would like to think that opens up the opportunity to focus on one thing and hopefully that one thing makes me feel awesome. Today, that one thing is writing this and publishing it right here.

Why I am Unsuccessful

Why I am Unsuccessful: Early Morning Session

Face2Face

Corners and light.

Corners and light.

One reason I love living in San Francisco is that it is such a hub. People travel through and come to visit this stunning city all the time. It makes me feel connected to the world on a global and on a personal level. Having lived in a fair number of cities, it is so nice to hear from friends I haven’t seen in years and to be able to meet them for a coffee, join them for dinner, or host them at my house when they come to San Francisco.

Meeting up with my good friend, Hannah, who I met at Parsons in New York City (<– blast from the past with some art photos!) was a reminder of how time and space can be irrelevant. With people of your tribe, sometimes the days that turn into years and the distance of thousands of miles can not take away from the comfort you feel around someone. I love this feeling.

Catching up face to face is priceless. Getting straight into the meaty parts of our lives we shared first hand accounts of love affairs, adventures abroad, apartment fires, kickstarter campaigns, jobs, art and future dreams. It brought me straight into the present moment. After a long day of project lists and general overwhelm, I found myself right where I needed to be. This is the fabric of life: food, warm bodies, and talk.

View of San Francisco taken on Eddy Street.

View of San Francisco taken on Eddy Street.

 

Managing What You Measure

Elephant <3

Elephant ❤

In my post, Pick One Thing, I wrote about the importance of focusing on one thing in order to accomplish it. I picked focusing on my diet and shedding some pounds since this is such a challenge for me. Have I mentioned how much I hate bringing this up? I’m in physical agony typing these words. I hate writing about weight, dieting, and my own body issues. It may be because so often these topics turn into trash talking and a self-hate fest, rather than a productive practice where I take care of myself. Mad props to my friend, Vicky, for expressing this so clearly in her own article, Unpopular Opinion: Please Shut Up About Your Body Issues.

The truth is: I don’t want to write about weight or losing weight or Paleo. However, because I chose it as my focus for August, I feel that it is the most relevant to write about for a number of reasons. First, it is so hard for me and I am so uncomfortable doing so, that it seems reason enough for me to explore it. Second, I have such a difficult time sticking to any kind of diet or making even an inch of progress. This brings me to point three, which is that this goal unveils all kinds of other larger issues such as asking for help, managing what you measure, motivation versus inspiration, and sticking to your guns even when shit gets tough.

Whew. This is taking a lot out of me.

Uhhh...

Uhhh…

I have spent the entire weekend making exceptions to Paleo and as a result am feeling congested and tired. The beer after work yesterday went straight to my head (but was soooo delicious). I picked up a book the other night called What You Can Change… and What You Can’t* The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement. NERD ALERT! It is one of many psychology/self-help books I own. Judge Away! There is a chapter titled Dieting: A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind that basically says that dieting is bullshit because you can lose a ton of weight on just about any diet, but ultimately you will gain it all back, even if it takes a few years.

This is where I begin to feel totally depressed, hopeless, and like I am totally wasting my time. I give up on this goal all the time because I want it to be natural and easy, but it is the opposite. For me, being meticulous and calculated about food is stress-inducing and endlessly annoying and sad. Thank God for Leo Babauta. Reading this stupid self-help book chapter made me feel pathetic, but Leo crept into my mind and I thought of his awesome post, The Obstacle is the Path.

Cue the French accent: “Aha! A Challenge!

A girl who knows how to work.

A girl who knows how to work.

And then it begins… Things get rough and you cope out? Seriously? I thought you were tough?  You think anyone can do this? Persistence and consistency win. Always. One day at a time. You want long term change? This shit ain’t magic, it’s one foot in front of another. Just like biking across the fucking country. It’s not all down hill sailing, wind in your hair and cupcakes. It’s hard work. You spend twice the amount of time on the uphill, a quarter amount of time on the down. One hill after another in 100 degree weather with humidity. It’s falling off your bike, it’s vomiting in someone’s yard, it’s riding 100 miles for 3 days in a row, it’s having the sorest ass you’ve ever had and getting back on the saddle. You want results? Put in the work and make yourself sweat. Sit there and cry if you have to. Write about how difficult it is. Feel bad for yourself, but know that it won’t help in the long term.

Where does this leave me? I am working on making my goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R. and really getting into the nitty-gritty of the Evaluate/Revising part of the equation.

❤ ❤ ❤

Adult Problems: Managing Relationships

A fantastic breakfast joint in L.A.

A fantastic breakfast joint in L.A.

I listen to Jan as she describes a typical week of her life, working during the day and then spending the evenings with friends, usually one on one. The lack of a significant other allows her to dedicate ample time to various friends with whom she enjoys solo dinners and activities as it gives them the opportunity to bond more quickly than in group settings. Though Jan loves having a widely developed friend circle, she feels pressure to balance her time carefully. With three or more evenings a week committed to friends, Jan rarely spends time doing things for herself. Where does all the time go? Plus, with an ever widening network, it feels like she needs to be spending even more time maintaining those relationships.

It is a fascinating thing, growing up, growing older, becoming an adult and adopting all the complications of modern life in the process. More than anything, the above situation makes me feel like I am not a kid anymore. You start juggling jobs and friends and laundry and, wait, don’t forget sleep… Realizing if I don’t schedule a date with someone means that I don’t see them messes with my head. What the hell happened to long summer days of playing in the street, running into someone at 7-11, slurpee in hand, and then splashing around in the pool for the next three hours? And what about getting sunburned in the park while drinking champagne, practicing handstands, followed by a nap around 4pm? What is life without spontaneity and unplanned time? Who signed up for this? Not me.

Road trips are great forced bonding time. Get off your phone and enjoy each others company for 8 hours.

Road trips are great forced bonding time. Get off your phone and enjoy each others company for 8 hours.

It’s an increasingly common struggle. How do we maintain our relationships? And how do we prioritize them to know which ones need to be maintained? What about our own emotional needs? And many of us are single! Don’t get me started on couples, especially couples with kids (I could write extensively about how my brother and his young family have given me a new appreciation for my parents having 4 kids before they were 35).

Listening to Jan talk about the joys and challenges of choosing how to spend her time, I could feel pressure building in my chest. I wanted to cut in, interrupt her, shout out “Stop!” Let’s stop. Let’s slow down. We are an important part of our equation. I’ll be the first to tell you that I am going to preach selfishness and taking care of yourself because this is what I am trying to learn right now. How can we take care of others if we aren’t taking care of ourselves? The great part is that sometimes taking care of ourselves means slowing down and having dinners with people. Knowing your boundaries and when you have to take time to yourself is key.

One of my 12 commandments is: If you can’t get out of it, get into it. When I can’t get into something (a party, a date, a social situation, a project, a book), then I back the fuck out. There’s no point in suffering through something if you have the power to change it and do something different. However, if you can’t get out of it, you better buck up and make the best of the situation. Chances are, you will learn something.

Highway 101

Highway 101

Living a Value Driven Life

End of July 2013... MobilityWOD Tent at the CrossFit Games.

End of July 2013… MobilityWOD Tent at the CrossFit Games. Enjoying coconuts in the heat!

It is August 2013 and I have worked more in the last 12 months of my life than ever before. I have also moved three times and had five different jobs (often multiple at the same time). While my motivation levels have plummeted, my mind continues to race at high speed. I may not be inspired to act on many of my thoughts, but I can’t help asking “What’s next? How can I do this better? Is this what I really want?

I’ve been attempting to cut myself off from streams of input (blogs, podcasts, magazines, email, conferences) that will simply feed the incessant chatter in my head and increase the anxiety about not having “figured it out” yet. I am trying to say no more to information and opportunities that do not serve me, so that I can yes more to healing activities that allow me to process everything that has happened this year.

In August 2012 I was still at the Marin Headlands Hostel and about to go to Burning Man for the first time. Fast forward 8 weeks, I was working at the hostel, Lululemon, and Biergarten. For some reason I thought it was necessary to have multiple jobs to live in San Francisco. Note to self: if you can get by with less hours and just one job, DO THAT. I wrapped up working at the hostel in November, and soon began working at Suppenkuche (in addition to Lululemon and Biergarten). I continued to juggle these three jobs until February 2013. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

In March I worked 18 – 20 hours a week. That was incredible. A breath of fresh air after holding my face in a murky mud puddle. Not pretty. I was working less, but had also finagled a part time work-trade with San Francisco CrossFit in order to continue my membership at the gym. March quickly turned into April and there was yet another job opportunity that I could not pass up. As soon as I heard about the Office Manager position at San Francisco CrossFit, I knew I had to pounce. So I did. By mid April, I was hired on to the San Francisco CrossFit Team and have never been more proud to accept a paid position.

Between April and July, I toggled between work modes and ran a tight ship. There was little room for error between two double shifts and a 6 day work week. Though my social life has suffered, I’ve met amazing new people, planned a bachelorette party, and accomplished several of my 27×27. In the past 4 weeks, I’ve worked one job, been out of town every weekend, and come face to face with the truth of being a total workaholic.

Working with good people is the only way to do things.

Working with good people is the only way to do things.

I won’t shut up about it. Sometimes it feels like all I do is talk about work and how much and all the time and complain complain complain. I was on the phone with my sister, explaining yet again why I wasn’t available to hang out. Work work work. “I work soooooo much, this is crazy.” There was a short pause. “So why do you do it?” She asked. “I don’t know! I’m sick. I’m totally sick. I suppose I am just not suffering enough. Otherwise, it would be different already” was my reply.

I believe this to be true. In situations where we are the ones in control, we must often suffer severely before we are moved to make significant changes. I am still completely perplexed as to why I kept saying yes to more work. I’m confounded as to why I still have 2 jobs and no vacation planned. Even during the 2 weekends I was away, on non-work related trips, I returned drained and exhausted rather than rejuvenated. How is this possible? Oh, sweet suffering, reveal my limits and let me know personal responsibility. It is a strange and wondrous thing to realize how out of line you are with your own values. Wake up call! This is not how you want to live your life.

If you’ve made it this far, you may be asking “Why does this story matter?” I’m impressed if you’ve read to this point because this is a total “Dear Diary” post. But let me tell you! Perhaps you’ve read this far and thought “Shit, I totally do that too.” Or “I feel this way sometimes,  but how do I know that I’m not in line with my values?” Realizing that we are not living the life we want to live is the first step to acknowledging we are not living in accordance with our values. Do you say one thing and do another? This is a pretty good sign that you are confused about your values and not living in line with them. For example, if I tell you that my friends and family are my priority, but I work all the time and never see them, then you can tell me that I’m full of shit. Actions speak louder than words.

Priorities: It's hard to choose between so many beautiful things.

Priorities: It’s hard to choose between so many beautiful things.

I am using my story about the past year as an example of a wake up call. It is not glamorous, it’s actually down right painful. It brutally sucks. But now that I can see how gross and distorted my decision making process has been, it is opening up space for action! This is exciting! This is a learning opportunity to avoid repeating mistakes in the future. Once we see what motivated us to make the decisions we did, we can look at how they do not align with how we want to live our lives. Or maybe they DO – it’s helpful to recognize how we set ourselves up for success so we can recreate it. Most importantly you have to choose one action that will help you live your values on a daily basis. Here are some examples.

Wake up call! I am not in line with these values:

  • Family and friends
  • Free time to be creative
  • Health

Reflection

  • Realizing I don’t need 3 jobs to survive in SF
  • Recognizing that it was my choice to work the extent of my contract and to stick around
  • Coming to terms with the fact that staying for the community can be enough for a while, that I want to be busy to distract myself from other crap, and because it makes me feel useful.
  • Admitting I am feeling unhealthy and miserable

Action!

  • Quitting
  • Cutting back hours
  • Taking a month to work very little
  • Setting aside time to do important things with friends and family
  • Taking a sick day
  • Reflecting, talking, and writing about my process
  • Asking for help: my family helped me move, my friends have gone out of their way to visit me at work, they have been forgiving and supportive when I have been tired and M.I.A.
Me me me: portrait with Doctor Zhivago poster, my namesake.

Me me me: portrait with Doctor Zhivago poster, my namesake.

My next steps are going to involve a few things from the action list above. First off, I need to cut back my work hours. My work week is not dialed in enough to feel sane. I need to plan a vacation just for me. This is extremely important psychologically. If I can give myself one piece of advice, I say this “If you are feeling burnt out and temporarily insane, it is time to be SELFISH. Do something completely indulgent for yourself that feels special and is in line with your core desired feelings 100%”. Important side note: do NOT allow yourself to feel guilty about this. If you feel guilty, as punishment, tack on another day of vacation.

Clap your hands if you’re workin’ too hard.

Working just right: my first paid work trip!

Working just right: my first paid work trip!

Pick One Thing: August 2013

Rock and Roll Baby: Good Mail Day @DKNGstudios

Rock and Roll Baby: Good Mail Day @DKNGstudios

Writing is going absolutely terrible this week. I blame the lack of sleep. I arrived back in San Francisco from LA (CrossFit Games 2013) at 4:30AM after driving through the night. It completely screwed my sleep schedule and has left me a little cross-eyed. That being said, it’s the lack of planning and commitment on my end that is really holding me back. I have written multiple paragraphs about the definition of strength (somewhat in line with the theme of the Games), but can’t bring myself to post it. It feels like trying on a dress that doesn’t fit right and not wanting to go into the hallway of the dressing room to look in the mirror. I hate that feeling.

But where did this blog start anyway? I am defaulting to writing about the goals that I have left before my birthday, in order to sort out where I need to focus in the next 60 days. Though I may not have written about each specifically, it has become a goal of mine to write more consistently and publish these rants and raves as a way of getting my voice out into the world. So with 60 days left, I have a list of 8 things that are important to me that I am going to attempt to accomplish:

  1. Visit Friends in WA

  2. Go Surfing

  3. Time my Handstand

  4. Get a massage.

  5. Take a Vacation.

  6. Lose 10 lbs. Explore your ideal weight.

  7. Purge your Crap.

  8. Blog your 27 X 27.

I am a strong believer in the rule of 1. I should pick 1 thing to focus on at a time. That’s it. If I choose more than one thing, my rate of success will plummet drastically. The beauty of a few of these things is that if I attempt it once, I can cross it off the list: get a massage, go surfing, and time my handstand. The other items take more planning and daily practice. As I mentioned in my last post, this August I am focusing on my diet to lose weight. For support in accomplishing this goal, I have signed up for the Get It Done In 30 Challenge with Maneesh Sethi and James Swanick and I am planning a Paleo Challenge with a friend at San Francisco CrossFit (interested? Details coming soon)!

Though I could easily write on and on about all the components of this goal and the others, I’m leaving it at that. Focus. Simplicity. August: Diet/lose weight. If more happens, awesome, if not, c’est la vie. Tomorrow is August 1st and I am already overwhelmed. August 2013, here we go.

Ready or not, sucker.

Ready or not, sucker.

Own Up, Buttercup.

Dirt Roads in Taos

Dirt Roads in Taos

We were making the long drive from Taos to Santa Fe. Owen was driving me to the airport. After 3 months living in New Mexico, I was jetting back to San Francisco for a job interview. We pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a high end grocery store. Stepping out of the car, the blinding sunshine made me squint. The automatic doors opened in front of us and we flip flopped into the air conditioned space. Owen and I wandered the aisles, distracted by our own banter. He even began relaying another story about his Grandma, which I knew at this point, always made him emotional. This is something I loved about Owen. We stood in front of refrigerators filled with milk as Owen reminisced about his sweet Grandmother and how she raised him, tears welling up in his eyes, but keeping a neutral face. There we stood, precious, love-soaked tears and a moment long-gone recalled under florescent lights on top of linoleum. I hugged and kissed him then before taking his hand as we continued on our stroll.

I was seeking something sweet. I was craving a chocolate filled croissant or raspberry muffin. Some delicious, buttery baked-good to put in my belly. Perhaps I was trying to fill the void in my gut, the one that felt that everything created over the last 3 months was coming to an end. The space somewhere between my stomach and my diaphragm that knew better than my brain whether it was excited or scared, but I couldn’t tell the difference. I wanted something warm and comforting in that space. Fill the void, fill the void, give me something. Owen and I had discussed, at length, the ultimate termination of our relationship – or the fact that commitment and definition did not exist between us. The vast expanse seemed to swell. But it was all an illusion, an interpretation to which I was experiencing an emotional response. Ah, sweet human existence. And here we were, spending some of our last intimate moments together at a grocery store somewhere in the middle of New Mexico.

Studio Earthship after a snow storm. October 2011.

Studio Earthship after a snow dusting. October 2011.

Owen was obsessed with CrossFit. He showed me videos of Miranda and other CrossFit babes, he talked to me about nutrition and Paleo, and gave me workouts to do. He showed me burpees, and timed us as we raced to 100 on his cool, mud-tile floor. Owen loved CrossFit and shared it with everyone around him. In his small Earthship studio he had set up a pull-up rig and weightlifting station. He would wrangle people to come over and program a WOD for them. We would do sit-ups and pull-ups inside, then bound out the door to run through the desert, leaping over prickly bushes and side stepping rocks.

I remember one time Owen even did this barefoot. We were working out with a heavy set friend of his who was visiting from Guatemala. Marco, a big strong bear of a man, who let his beer belly grow along with his beard. I outpaced him on the burprees and now we all jogged alongside each other over the cracked earth out on the mesa. As Owen practically hovered over the earth like a gazelle, I focused on regulating my breathing, and Marco thundered forward beside me. Owen put us both to shame with no shoes, gracefully springing over the bramble and natural debris. Marco undoubtedly felt competitive, and attempting his own launch over a bush, caught his foot and took a nose dive into the ground. “Are you OK!?” I asked, “Yea, you hurt Buddy?” said Owen. Marco scrambled up and dusted himself off. “Only my dignity” he replied and we all howled as we plodded onwards.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

Earthship and desert. 2011.

At the store we contemplated snacks for the remainder of our ride. I expressed interest in something glutenous and sugary, while Paul held a juice in his hand. He criticized my non-paleo choice and I promptly got upset and walked away. Jumping into the air, his skinny limbs pursued me. “I’m sorry! What did I say!? I’m just so excited about making healthy choices!!!” He practically yelled. Despite my upset, I laugh cried at this declaration. It was hard to hold anything against him in this moment, because I knew it was true. Owen was simply stoked about making healthy choices, God Damnit.

I often think of this story and think about the honesty behind Owen’s statement: I’m excited about making healthy choices. This is the place that change comes from. You want to lose weight? You want to get up earlier? You want to run a race? You want to write a book? Oh yea? Prove it.

How badly do you want it? Do you really want it or do you just dream about it materializing in front of you? As you train yourself to get excited about making the choices that will actually get you one step closer to your goal, that’s when change begins. The challenge and the beauty is that you don’t have to be excited about those choices right away, but if you want it bad enough, you can learn it. As I sat down to write today, I was not motivated to write about my experience in New Mexico with Owen. I was inspired to tell the story and knew I was because it’s the only thing that occurred to me when I asked myself “If I could write about anything today, what would it be?” Resistance stared back at me. “Just start, Bitch” is what I said to her.

Click-clacking away and 20 minutes later I had almost completed the story. The timer went off on my phone, but I wasn’t finished! Gah! I turned the alarm off and continued writing, determined to get to this point. This point, right here, where I tell you that it’s up to us. Only we ever make ourselves obese, ignorant, and mean. Own up, Buttercup. You are more powerful than you believe.

Sunset NM.

Sunset NM.