Friday, July 31, 2020

Saying Goodbye

Over the last couple weeks, I've gotten to say goodbye to my friends here in Florida. The local ones, at least.

I was hesitant to have a big "going away" party, partly because of Covid and partly because I hate being the center of attention. It worked out nicely, then, that the pandemic made large gatherings impossible. Instead, I was treated to two small, outdoor get-togethers that left me feeling loved and appreciated. I need to give myself more credit - it seems people actually like me and will miss me!

Not pictured: my gracious host.

First, Stacey hosted a small dinner for me at her place. We all sat outside on her patio and chatted for hours over sushi and wine. Jenn and Jess couldn't make it, but my other closest friends were there. It felt wonderful to just sit and talk with some of my favorite people!

I had told Stacey how uncomfortable I was with being the center of attention, so the gathering was very low-key and casual. It was perfect.

Then a week later, my principal asked me if I'd feel comfortable coming to an outdoor, socially-distanced luncheon with our team. Although the gift-opening was a little more intense, the atmosphere was super laid back and comfortable. I felt so lucky to be acknowledged in this way.

I had been thinking of getting a necklace very much like the one they gave me, so it was perfect. Also, I am stocked up with tons of gluten free snacks for the road now!
It's silly. You're probably thinking, You've worked there 11 years, of course people are going to say a proper goodbye! But the truth is, I have it in my head that I'm not going to be missed. I feel like...have I really made an impact on anyone here? Do they care about me the way I care about them? Do they think of me when I'm away, or is it "out of sight, out of mind"?

I'm going to miss my other Musketurtles!

I know these thoughts stem from my difficult childhood move to Florida; these low-pressure get-togethers, thrown in my honor and without my asking, have finally soothed the emotional wounds I've been unconsciously dealing with for all these years.

Flashback to my going away party in summer '99.
I feel properly spoiled and loved, now, and maybe I can admit I deserve to be celebrated.
Yes, that is a decorated and signed toilet seat...truly the most unique gift I've ever received!
I'm going to miss my work family so much, and I'm going to miss my friends. I'm so grateful for social media, and I hope in time this pandemic gets under control and I can have some visitors up in Seattle. This feels a little bit like a do-over, a chance to leave the right way. I'm excited for what comes next.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Finding Myself through The Great British Bake Off

In these times of staying indoors for the good of humanity, I know I'm not the only one who's found myself delving into parts of Netflix that never interested me before. After years of hearing how watch-worthy The Great British Bake Off is (mostly from my mom), I finally fell down the rabbit hole.
I've always enjoyed cooking shows, although I tend to gravitate away from competition-based shows because they stress me out. But, the GBBO has a completely different feeling about it. The challenges are pretty straightforward as far as expectations go - there are no surprise ingredients or last-minute twists in the instructions, like we see in American cooking shows. The bakers are competitive but respectful of each other; you can tell they want each other to succeed. Most of them seem to compete the way non-professional runners do: against themselves and their own limitations.
This show is so wholesome. The contestants offer each other help when they can.
While the judges are honest and blunt in their criticism, they aren't cruel or dramatic. They've also mastered the sandwich-theory of delivering feedback, couching negative or constructive comments between two genuine compliments. As someone who has always feared criticism, watching hours of its delivery and acceptance has started to change something in my brain.

This show has been a relaxing background to my continued isolation, but as I've been watching I realized there's actually something to be learned from the show outside of how to bake the perfect genoise.

Life Lessons I've Learned from The Great British Bake Off
  • Have confidence in what you know, and don't be ashamed of what you don't. Be open to learning.
  • Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they're not perfect. 
  • There's a lot to be said for personal taste - you can't please everyone.
  • Try new things; test the limits of your comfort zone.
  • Don't be afraid of criticism or take it personally; take it at face value and grow from it.
  • Having a bad day or delivering a bad product doesn't make you a bad or unlikeable person.
  • Don't be afraid to take risks; put yourself out there.
  • Have confidence in what you know, and don't be ashamed of what you don't. Be open to learning.
  • Don't hate your competition - forge friendships and learn from each other. You're in this together!
  • No matter how dire things look, never throw it all in the bin. Never give up. 
  • Don't hate your competition - forge friendships and learn from each other. You're in this together!
  • Being a master of one skill will only get you so far; branch out, learn new trades, and keep adding tools to your toolbox.
  • Mistakes happen. Pick your battles - sometimes you can let them go, and sometimes you need a redo.
  • Don't panic - improvise.
  • If you're going to do something, do it. Give it your all.
  • No matter how dire things look, never throw it all in the bin. Never give up.
                        We've all heard these pithy words of wisdom before; they're not revolutionary or anything. But here's what got me: it's rather like the writing advice "show, don't tell". I've now seen example after example of how people actually implement these life lessons to follow their dreams, and it's incredibly motivating!

                        I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, because I'm facing some huge life changes right now, and lots of what I'm reading talks about being unafraid to be your authentic self. I haven't been afraid to be myself in ages (thank goodness we don't stay teenagers forever!), but I'm beginning to realize that I've spent so much time repeating a pattern in daily life that I've lost touch with who I really am. Who is my authentic self these days? Working long hours in an emotionally taxing career completely sapped any motivation for self-reflection.
                        With a big move on the horizon, now is the perfect time for reinvention.
                        People who've known me since childhood would describe me as creative...a writer, a dreamer. I feel a bit disconnected from that part of myself, even though it's how I still see myself. It seems silly, but as I've been watching GBBO and seeing these bakers follow a dream and put themselves out there, I've felt that part of myself wake up a little bit.

                        There's a tedious journey from realization to actualization, but I'm feeling a little more aware of my wants and dreams, and I'm excited about starting fresh. Outside expectations and messaging still cloud my head every day, but it's becoming a little easier to push past it and focus on what I want.

                        Now that I've seen how it's done, I just need to put it into practice.


                        Friday, July 10, 2020

                        10 Years Later

                        The other night, after the lights were out but midnight thoughts were keeping me awake, I found myself reflecting on marriage.

                        When Matt and I got married, I knew about the "honeymoon stage", and that the love I had for him would evolve. I thought, having been together five years before we got married, maybe that wouldn't happen to us.
                        Matt and Ali dancing on our wedding day.
                        I was wrong. Things have changed; they've gotten better. Over the last decade, Matt and I have dealt with typical ups and downs, and we've truly learned how to communicate, how to support each other, and how to truly be partners. We were pretty young when we got married, by today's standards. When I look back on who we were when our marriage began, I can't believe we were ever those people. I am grateful that as we've changed, we've always grown in the same direction.

                        Whether it was taking up sports (neither of us were athletes when we got married) or getting more educated on and involved in politics, our values have always aligned. We are on the same side.

                        Above all, I didn't know, back then, to look forward to how comfortable things would become. Not in a "settling" kind of way; in a I-really-can-just-be-myself-and-you-might-laugh-but-I-know-you'll-support-me way. 

                        In a grateful-to-have-you-in-my-corner-and-never-doubt-it way.

                        In a home-actually-is-wherever-you-are way. 
                        10 years later, Matt and Ali dancing at a friend's wedding. They gaze lovingly into each other's eyes.
                        I feel wholly content every day I'm with him, and that feeling of total satisfaction is just...everything.

                        I'm looking forward to where our life together takes us next, and to a time when we can actually get out of the house to celebrate 10 years how we've always wanted to...maybe before year 11 comes around.


                        Wednesday, July 1, 2020

                        Chloe Ting 2 Week Challenge - Week 2 (Results)

                        I started week two feeling a little discouraged. Despite feeling stronger and generally in better health since starting, I guess I was secretly hoping to see some ab lines by Day 8. Instead I looked the same and my left wrist is killing me.
                        Screenshot of videos for days 8 and 9 of the challenge
                        Day 8: I had to adjust some of the planks so I could do them on my elbows to save my wrist, which was really hurting when I had to twist it or adjust balance (like during Corkscrews). Still, I got through all three videos today without stopping, sweat a ton, and felt wobbly afterward, so I know I still got a quality workout in.

                        Day 9: This was the last active rest day of the program, and I needed it! My wrist was glad for a break. Matt and I went for a short run that ended up not exactly being restful. The humidity was super high and there was no breeze. Of course, the minute we finished it started to rain.
                        Ali and Matt standing in a parking lot, smiling after a hard run
                        Day 10: My wrist felt marginally better but I was feeling pretty exhausted from the previous night's run. I almost flip-flopped this day with Day 11 to make it easier, but ended up finding the energy to get all four videos done. I changed some of the exercises to take it easy on my wrist. All those Army Planks, though!

                        Day 11: I was relieved to only have two videos today. We've had workers on the roof, which means my sleep has been badly interrupted and I've been waking up with headaches. These two videos felt easy to pound out after Day 10's four. Results-wise, I feel stronger and tighter everyday, but visually there's not much change.

                        Screenshot of workout videos for days 10 and 11
                        Day 12: This was the first day I didn't want to do the videos. I overslept and wanted to eat right away, so then I had to wait until I digested to workout. I did them around 4pm and felt...bored. The workouts were getting redundant. I turned on Dexter to watch while I worked out, and that helped a bit! 

                        Day 13: Watching TV really provided the perfect distraction for finishing this challenge, which I was beginning to find dull. I was still working up a major sweat during the workouts, but was not really feeling the same kind of muscular impact (read: soreness) I was during the first week. At this point, I was looking forward to being done so I could change things up.
                        Photo of text reading: "flat stomachs really need to stop being a thing people expect from others like...what the fuck do you mean I need a flat stomach when I have 7 meters of intestine in me"
                        This came across my Instagram feed this week and kind of reset my thinking, too. My hope in undertaking this challenge was to have fun and get motivated, not physical results. By Day 13, I was over it, and perspective is important. I will always come back to working out for mental and physical health, not looks.
                        Day 14: After taking my "after" pics, I just couldn't be bothered to do this workout. I was so burned out from this challenge! But today wasn't a failure, nor is it quitting. This routine has given me a sense of accomplishment, but I am ready to return to running as my primary workout.

                        It's funny to me that I can run the exact same route dozens of times in a row and not get sick of it, but 14 days of these videos - in various orders, all of which incorporate 19+ different exercises - just got boring for me! This is why running has always been my preferred workout and the only one I stick with longterm: it's the only thing that doesn't lose its edge.

                        As for physical results, I don't see much difference. I didn't lose any weight or notice a change in my muscle definition. When I flex really hard I can maybe see a few more lines in my abs. I intend to do the lower body workout once or twice a week to continue building strength for running.

                        Anyway, here are my before/after pics. I think the change is most noticeable in the side-view, both in my stomach and my thighs.
                        Face-forward side-by-side photos of Ali Flexing, showing minimal changes in her ab definition
                        Back-view of side-by-side photos of Ali
                        Side-view side-by-side photos of Ali
                        So, not bad for 14-days' worth of work, but like I expected all along - no miracles here. I will say I definitely feel stronger and my posture feels a bit taller these days. I'll incorporate some of these videos into my weekly routine, but at this point...I'm really ready to run again. It may not give me abs of steel, but it makes my heart and head happy, and that's worth more to me.


                        Tuesday, June 23, 2020

                        Chloe Ting 2 Week Challenge - Week One

                        Summer weather and Covid spikes in Florida have kept me inside for a week straight. I decided it was time to commit to some at-home workouts. I found Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge via a Try Guy's video where they tried a few different YouTube workouts and decided to give it a...try.
                        Screenshot of the 5 YouTube videos for Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge Workout
                        I started on a Wednesday rather than wait for a new week to start. I had Matt take some "before" photos, but I won't be posting those until after the full 14 days, if at all. At this point I'm halfway through. I wish I had remembered to take my measurements before I started.

                        My issue with programs like this is that they can create a false hope for getting a perfectly sculpted body in a really short time, which is unrealistic. Chloe talks about that in other videos and on her website, and she's super encouraging to everyone, no matter their results at the end. Because I lost weight last summer and kept it off, I think my body could potentially reflect some change in a short time, but I don't expect miracles.

                        I haven't been purposefully changing my diet while doing this challenge, but as always happens when I'm consistently working out, my appetite has changed naturally, so I'm snacking less, eating more fruit, and drinking more water. I am still doing intermittent fasting, so I complete the daily workout before I eat, first thing after I wake up.
                        Screenshot of videos for days 1 and 2 of the challenge
                        I did not do the optional video on Day 2.
                        Day 1: My body didn't know what hit it. Not only have I not been running much, but I'm also barely moving, seeing as it's officially summer break. My heart-rate skyrocketed during these first two videos and I really had to take a lot of breaks. It was discouraging. I am always kind of amazed that I can go for a two-mile run in 80% humidity and my heart-rate stays pretty tame, but five minutes of planks has me shaking.

                        Day 2: Despite being a little sore, Day 2 was much easier. I think my mind and body were just already in a better place with more realistic expectations about the workout. I enjoyed the workout.
                        Screenshot of videos for days 3 and 4 of the challenge
                        Day 3: OW. My hip flexors were super sore upon waking, and they stayed sore and weak through most of the day's four videos. Exercises like In-and-Outs and leg raises seem to work my groin more than my abs, and I'm just not very strong there. I felt super accomplished for completing all four videos.

                        Day 4: I nearly skipped a video today, but since tomorrow is a rest day, I dug deep and got it done. I noticed upon waking that my stomach already seemed tighter than it has been. Not super muscular/defined, but just a little flatter. My wrists hurt pretty badly from all the plank work, which is unusual for me. Perhaps it's because I'm doing these workouts on carpet. I'll try setting my yoga mat up on tile for Day 6!
                        Ali standing on the sidewalk with her hands on her hips, smiling. There is grass and trees behind her. She is wearing a black long-line sports bra and black spandex shorts.
                        I actually felt physically very strong on this run! I don't have any visible muscle definition yet but I definitely feel stronger.
                        Day 5: Active rest day. Matt and I found a nearby neighborhood that's still in the process of being built. It's much quieter and less populated than our current place, so I felt much more comfortable running there. I ran two very slow miles; I was surprised by how good I felt on the run despite being so sore! My hips and hip flexors felt great, but I'm definitely not acclimated to summer weather and humidity right now.
                        Day 6: Despite running in the evening and working out the following morning, I still felt really fresh and capable for Day 6. I moved my yoga mat to a tiled part of the condo and it did make a difference on my wrists and ankles. The workouts seem easier (I know what to anticipate, I'm taking shorter breaks, and completing more sets in the time limit), but I'm still working up a major sweat and struggling in certain areas.

                        Day 7: I felt more tired at the start today, but was able to complete all the videos with minimal rest. I feel like a noodle! While I haven't seen any obvious improvements aesthetically yet, I definitely feel stronger and generally just "better" than I have in awhile!

                        At this point, I am thinking a lot about how I wish the program used the lower body and core/arm workouts more frequently, but I like that there are only a few videos that you cycle through. It's just predictable enough without getting boring.
                        A selfie of Ali sitting on a blue yoga mat, smiling
                        I'm ready to tackle the second week!


                        Friday, June 12, 2020

                        Some Big News

                        The last quarter of this school year was like nothing I've ever experienced. The main factor being this global pandemic, of course.

                        Spring break began on March 13; originally, I was supposed to be in LA for the ASCD conference at that time, but we decided to cancel. We left school that Friday with an extremely rough set of instructions for if our return to school after spring break was delayed.

                        Obviously, we never returned to school.
                        New work-from-home attire: PJ bottoms all day.
                        Remote crisis schooling was...something else. I was impressed daily by my teachers and their flexibility, innovation, creativity, and grace under pressure. This was a hard way to end the year; despite kind of enjoying being isolated at home with Matt, I wasn't immune to the fear and concern circulating because of Covid-19. As an asthmatic with an autoimmune disease, I'll admit my paranoia was (and still is) heightened.
                        Jenn, me, and Jess standing outside with masks on for 8th grade graduation
                        I cannot imagine working in an office without these ladies.
                        The entire graduation team under blue and red balloons
                        8th grade graduation just wasn't the same!
                        On top of all this, Matt and I had listed our house for sale just a week or so before Florida schools shut down. We were under contract just as the Stay at Home issue was ordered. We had to deal with inspectors and realtors, packing and moving, and finding a new place to live while being constantly vigilant to avoid contamination.
                        can of lysol wipes and a note reading "welcome! we encourage you to take a Clorox wipe to use when touching door handles, light switches, etc. Thank you!"
                        House hunting was made doubly difficult because we had some very specific guidelines: we wanted a short-term lease, three months max.

                        That brings me to the real piece of news; if you read my last post, you'll know where this is heading.
                        me and Matt in the car, wearing masks, with our signed title transfer document
                        Matt and I have officially decided to move to Seattle. Our lease is up at the end of July; we'll make a short stop in Sarasota to see our parents, and then we'll start our cross-country drive.

                        Why Seattle? For years, Scott and Robby had planned to move out there, and our interest was piqued as long ago as 2016. Back in 2018, we took a two-week vacation out there for their wedding. The moment I stepped off the plane, I felt totally and completely at home. It was a feeling of belonging I have only ever experienced in Beachwood - my childhood home - and Edinburgh. 
                        photo of me and Matt in front of the Seattle Space Needle
                        We went back in December 2018 to make sure we liked Seattle winters. No complaints!
                        This is a scary time to choose to make such a big move, but with everything going on right now, we want to be in Seattle more than ever. Yes, even with Covid. Yes, even with the protests. We just don't want to wait any longer.

                        Details still need to be ironed out, but it feels freeing to have a plan and to have made a decision. It feels right. We've been yearning for this for years. It feels good to finally make it a reality.
                        me at my desk at work, everything packed up to leave
                        I can't believe I'm leaving this office and the best office-mates ever!
                        Leaving will be bittersweet. I've been at my school for 11 years! The friends I've made here are truly family, and when I think of leaving them it physically hurts. 
                        Me, Stacey, and Elizabeth sitting on yoga mats in Elizabeth's classroom
                        My work besties have been there for me through so much!
                        We've tackled some major life events here. My parents, siblings, and Steph's sweet little family live here. Matt's parents live here. Not being able to have a big goodbye bash with everyone together is making this exponentially more difficult.

                        But we're as ready as we'll ever be, and time waits for no one.

                        It'll be tough, but it'll be worth it.

                        Our next adventure awaits!


                        (In case it needs to be said, we support the protests and are doing our part. Black lives matter.)

                        Friday, May 1, 2020

                        On the Horizon

                        It's hard to look to the future right now because so many things are uncertain, but Matt and I have been working toward something for awhile and our first major step is complete, so I feel the need to share.

                        We've sold our house.
                        We signed the closing docs in our car. If this isn't peak 2020, I don't know what is.
                        If you've been reading here for awhile, you know we bought our first house in the summer of 2014. Our plan was to do what we called a "slow flip"; our timeline was four years but it ended up being six.
                        Our biggest overhaul was the kitchen. In the intervening years, we've also repainted the inside and outside and spruced up the landscaping just a bit. After Hurricane Irma, we got a new roof.
                        We celebrated New Years and birthdays in this house. We buried Archie there and set up a little memorial for him. This is where we celebrated my promotion, half a dozen wedding anniversaries, and quite a few Passovers. This was a good first home filled with memories.

                        But it's time to move on.
                        Our last photo, taken on moving day.
                        This was a scary time to plan a move. We listed the house in early March, right before Coronavirus really impacted our area of the country. The house went under contract barely a week later. So, we were dealing with showings, realtors, appraisers, etc, while also dealing with finding a place to rent, all while avoiding people and the outside world as much as possible. During this time, school went fully remote and I was working from home full-time. (I still am.)

                        Things have been stressful, to say the least.

                        One of the biggest hurdles was finding a short-term rental because...well, the future doesn't stop for a pandemic. Our goal before COVID-19 was to move to Seattle; this had been a dream of ours for a couple years. Things were delayed, mostly by Irma, but now that the house has sold, the possibility is back on the table. If things fall into place, we will make the move this summer.

                        Luckily, we were able to find a place where a short-term/month-to-month lease was an option, so we have officially moved in and bought ourselves three months to figure things out.

                        Now that the sale of our house has closed and we've moved out, I feel less stressed. I can finally look ahead with anticipation rather than anxiety. Things are still uncertain, but in a this-is-an-adventure sort of way instead of a wtf-are-we-doing way.

                        As things settle down, I hope to go for my first run in three weeks, scope out some job options, complete the school year as successfully as possible given the circumstances, and stay healthy doing it. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe, too.


                        Tuesday, April 7, 2020

                        Making that Dalgona Coffee Stuff with Drip Coffee

                        Isolation really brings out the domesticity in people, doesn't it? I guess there's something to be said for boredom and creativity.

                        I've been seeing Dalgona Coffee all over the internet, as I'm sure you all have as well. Given that we're taking isolation really seriously, I refuse to go out and buy instant coffee when I usually make drip. It seems like a waste of money just to experiment with a coffee I'll rarely drink - I prefer mine black.

                        But Matt likes cold, sweet coffee and after seeing my friend Kim post her results, I was intrigued. She sent me an article that covers making this frothy coffee with regular drip, so I figured I'd test this method.
                        I whipped this for about 13 minutes at the highest speed.
                        From the article, I knew the whipping process would take twice as long and the coffee wouldn't get nearly as stiff as with instant. The first round I tried, I used 2 tbsp each coffee and sugar. The volume wasn't quite enough in the stand mixer and the result was thick but runny.
                        As you can see, frothy but not thick. I'm using oat milk here.
                        I made a second batch using 3 tbsp coffee and sugar, and this batch aerated much better; the whisk attachment on the stand mixer had a little more to work with!
                        You can tell this one clung to the sides of the bowl and the whisk more.
                        Second batch (left) vs. first batch (rested)
                        The result was the texture of thick cream - like a melted ice cream instead of a mousse. Think melty marshmallow. It definitely wasn't runny anymore and stuck to the spoon, especially after some refrigeration. The flavor was incredibly sweet and not very coffee-y because I hadn't bothered to make my coffee stronger than usual. Next time I want to play with this recipe, I'll make a small pot of very concentrated coffee and go from there.
                        The second batch was still pourable, but left a thick layer behind on the spoon. I think melted marshmallow is the best texture comparison.
                        This was yummy, simple, and fun. It makes plenty of leftovers, which I've refrigerated for use over the next couple days. I also stuck some in the freezer to see if would make a coffee granita of sorts. (The outcome was more like a super soft and sweet ice cream.)
                        Frozen Dalgona
                        If you're bored and looking for something fun to make at home, this is a treat, but I'll stick to my black coffee in the morning.


                        Wednesday, April 1, 2020

                        A New Era of Running

                        Toward the end of 2019, I was beginning to wonder where my head was at. I had thought that by the time I was two years post-op, I would be ready to train for a big race again. But there I was, torn: I wanted to want to run another marathon, but I didn't actually want to.

                        Any time I tried to set a training schedule or increase my mileage, I felt resistant to my own plans and goals. My heart just wasn't in it, and I couldn't figure out why.

                        I nearly found that motivation in January 2020, but then the flu killed it. I barely got around to training for Gasparilla, and while I enjoyed that race and the accomplishment I felt after each long run, I didn't really enjoy the training itself.

                        I told Nicole on her podcast that I was in a weird spot with my running. I intended to grapple with this feeling and figure out what I wanted this spring.

                        And then COVID-19 made its way stateside and everything went pear-shaped.

                        Suddenly, I was working from home. Suddenly, I was dealing with the mental exhaustion of worrying about my friends and family constantly. Suddenly, the only time I could get out of the house was for a run.

                        Faced with isolation, anxiety, fear, constant other-thinking, and an uncertain future, I finally found peace in my running. I have literally no desire to build distance and stamina, no desire to work on speed. And I finally feel like that's acceptable.

                        In the evenings, my brain feels tired and overwrought. I step out into my backyard and cover the same two or three miles. The familiarity is easy. My brain can rest. My legs do the work. The push and pull of air into my lungs is reassuring.

                        As long as I can run, I know I'm healthy. I know I'm making it through another day.

                        Right now, running is a solace. That's all it is. It's a wonderful, freeing thing, to run without purpose, to run for such a basic reason and such pure need. It feels so simple.

                        When I see others out there, we give each other a wide berth and wave. There is a feeling of camaraderie in the space between us.

                        Today, Governor DeSantis finally called for a stay-home order for Floridians. It begins Thursday at midnight. Schools are closed until at least April 30, probably longer. I know this is far from over.

                        I have never felt so grateful for running in my life; it is life-affirming and absolutely keeping me functional. Stripped down to its most basic self, running is exactly what I need, and I finally feel like I can just enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it.


                        Tuesday, March 24, 2020

                        Fit2Run "Keep Running Stay Healthy" Virtual Races

                        I wasn't registered for any spring races when the news of cancellations started coming in, so I wasn't personally upset by the news. I was a little surprised when the big names canceled, and I felt for my friends who had trained for races that got called, but I didn't really have a stake in the game.

                        With spring races looking more and more unlikely and cabin fever setting in, virtual races are making a comeback. I've run a few; they never get me super motivated to race (I tend to run them for their cause more than anything else), but when you're stuck inside and working from home, any excuse to get out the door is a good one.
                        This is still shocking to me - hearing of this postponement was the moment I realized how serious Covid-19 is.
                        I am really lucky that I live where I do. Around 7:15 each night, the golf course ranger comes by and picks up the flag in our backyard (we live right behind a green), and that's when I know the course is closed. That gives me about 40 minutes to venture out and get some exercise in.

                        We're social distancing and avoiding the world, so fresh air and movement are more important than ever.
                        I was excited when Matt sent me information about Fit2Run's Keep Running Stay Healthy race options. This week, you can select pretty much any distance to run and be part of a fun, free, virtual event.
                        There is also a "pick your own distance" option.
                        The races are free but there are still a variety of perks, including coupons, medals, and the chance to win running gear. I created a team (Surf 'n Turf back at it!) for me and Matt, then got out there Tuesday and completed a 5k.
                        Still glad I went!
                        The nice thing about virtual races is that if you don't like your first result, you can try again. I got some pretty bad side stitches early on and had to take a couple walk breaks, so I may stow this run and go again later this week. (And maybe someday I'll learn that a bowl of cereal before a run is a bad idea, even given two hours to digest.)
                        If you're looking for some motivation or a way to change up your daily exercise, sign up! Given what's going on in the world, I think a virtual race is a great way to get yourself out the door and give your mind something else to think about for awhile.


                        Tuesday, March 17, 2020

                        Spring Break and Beyond

                        As a lifelong hypochondriac and anxious person, you can bet that I am taking "social distancing" seriously. This week I'm on break, and next week we are moving to "distance learning" for our students. While classroom teachers will be working from home, I will probably be expected to be one of a handful of people on campus.

                        As of this afternoon, Florida schools are closed until at least April 15, so I don't need to worry about that particular issue at this moment. Phew!

                        This whole thing honestly makes me really nervous. When I had the regular old flu in January, I could hardly breathe and needed medical intervention (in the form of a Solumedrol shot, nothing extreme). I am really worried about the impact Covid-19 could have on me because of my asthma.

                        As things are changing daily as far as quarantines and lockdowns go, I'm not going to think too hard on that quite yet. For now, I have canceled the one outing I had planned for break -- Flamingo Yoga at the Wonder Gardens -- and am instead spending my time indoors and avoiding people.
                        I made my last grocery trip earlier today and even our "weird" vegan foods were running low. The shelves were completely bare of eggs, potatoes, fruits, soap, medication, paper products, and bread. This concerns me. There are people who can't afford to stock up. And really, who knows when grocery stores will get their next shipments in of some of this stuff?

                        I'm mostly spending my days catching up on YouTube, trash TV, and reading, and I'm still going on solo runs and doing some at-home workouts. Have I mentioned I've been playing the Sims, too, because why not?
                        Part of my current reading list.

                        I'm also trying, desperately, not to online shop myself into bankruptcy while eating all the food I just bought.

                        Basically, I am used to staying in the house and avoiding people, so right now I feel pretty okay about it. We'll see how I feel next week when work resumes.

                        I hope you are all staying calm, making smart decisions, and thinking of others. We need social solidarity (at a distance) more than ever right now.


                        Thursday, March 12, 2020

                        My Story on Run This World with Nicole DeBoom

                        Trigger Warning: General discussion of depression, self-harm, and disordered eating.

                        It's been awhile since I've written anything about my history with self-harm, and it's probably been even longer since I've just come out and said it so bluntly: I have a history with self-harm.

                        I'd say, too, that I have a present with self-harm, in the sense that I sometimes still think about it. Like I told Nicole when she interviewed me for her podcast, I liken self-harm to being an addict. My grandpa, an ex-smoker, once told me he didn't consider himself a recovered smoker; he considered himself a smoker who hadn't lit up in 40 years. To me, self-harm feels very much the same.
                        I've buried the lede a bit there, but give me a second.

                        It has been nearly 15 years since I last hurt myself. It's been about 11 since I engaged in dangerous disordered eating habits. But those things will always be a part of me. They played a role in making me who I am - which is a person who has overcome those things and feels stronger and more confident for having done so.

                        I wanted to speak with honesty and sincerity, and I hope I have. I hope my story sheds some light on what depression can look like for young women (or at least, for this young woman) and on how finding a healthy, joyful coping mechanism can be truly life-saving.

                        Trigger Warning: Nicole reached out to me with the specific hopes of talking about my experience with depression, self-harm, and disordered eating, and for a little over an hour, that's exactly what we did. I never go into gruesome detail, speaking instead in euphemisms and generalities, but if you're not in a place to listen to that kind of subject matter, definitely skip this episode of the podcast.

                        If you listen, I hope you'll be open-minded and understanding. It was hard to put myself out there in this way, although Nicole was such a wonderful host that the conversation really felt natural from the start. The topic is hard, though. Revisiting that dark mindset is hard. Sharing this part of myself makes me feel vulnerable, but it also makes me feel powerful.

                        I went through this. It's a part of me. I'm still here, and I'm stronger than ever.

                        If you'd like to listen, here is the the Sound Cloud link. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

                        You can also read Nicole's blog and listen to the podcast on the Skirt Sports website.

                        Click for the full article.
                        I feel lucky that I am here to share this story. If any of this resonates, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone.

                        If you're struggling with depression, this link will take you to a variety of helplines.

                        Finally, I'd like to thank Nicole for giving me this opportunity to share, for wanting to hear my story, and for being such an amazing listener.