Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Want to Know How Out of Shape I Am?

So tonight I went to run.  It's a little cold for my liking so I decided to go run the treadmill at the gym.  It's a good thing.  The ground keeps going under my feet which makes the lazy in me keep going. Especially when I accidentally did the wrong day on my C25K app.  You heard me... wrong day. 

What does that mean?  That means instead of running my 60 second / 90 second intervals, I was running 90 seconds and walking 120 seconds.  Okay, okay.  For any normal, physically able person, this should not have been any big feat.  And okay, so I only had one day left of week 1's running, but still, it had become familiar, easy, comfortable.  (Ok, it wasn't comfortable by a long shot, but it was a heck of a lot more comfortable than an extra 30 seconds here and there!  Yes, I suck, rather literally  - as in sucking air - at running.)

But you know what, I put one foot in front of the other enough times to complete that run, running every bit of the run time and walking at 3.5 for the walk time (this is a brisk walk, folks, brisk, I mean, considering I just birthed two children.  Be aware, I will use this excuse until my kids are grown.  I can hear me now, "Abs?  I don't have abs?  I just had a baby, oh what, it can't be any longer than 20 years ago!") 

Anyway - why do I share with you my humiliation?  My admitting that to literally run a half mile (in interval format) I was completely spent and pushing myself like mad?  My admitting that I ran on {gasp} a 5 on the treadmill... I know, I know.  My admitting that I almost decided to quit right there?  "Why?" you ask?

I'll tell you why.


Friends, if I can do this... if I do accomplish this... there is not one excuse you can use.  Granted, I have all of my limbs and what not - but I won't doubt to see myself passed by a man minus a leg at the big 'race' this year.  Seriously, I'm that out of shape.  But you know what, I have my limbs, and if I ever lost them, I'd be mad I didn't run a half marathon when I was "good and able", so, I'm going to do this.

I'm going to do this.

I'm going to do this. 



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Be the Stream

Occasionally you find a rare gem on facebook... do you like the two time words I used there?  Occasionally and rare?  Sure, they go together.  Anyway - today I found one of those on a friend's status update.  It read:

In the battle between the stream and the stone, the stream wins, not by strength but by unrelenting perseverance. 

 I won't lie, I've had a major problem with perseverance in my life.  From the time I was young I was kind of a wanderer.  I've come to accept that this is much how I am by nature.  God has made me this way, but it sure makes life hard sometimes.  Here are some examples:

  • I did well at school because everything went from test to test to test to test.  Finals were hard for me in high school, and I always aced them, but it was because, even though there was a great deal of information to retain, there was an end in sight.  
  • I started and quit more hobbies in my life than most kids.  Dance. Check.  Tumbling.  Check.  Softball.  Check.  I wanted to be a 'natural' at something, and if I didn't perfect it from square one, count me out. 
  • I was a poet long before I was any other kind of writer.  Poetry was easy.  I could sit down in one attempt and finish a poem and find it perfect (enough for me anyway) when it was over.  Instant gratification, I guess you could say.  But really, I just didn't have to trust myself to come back to it.  
  • I start going to the gym. 
  • I start new routines with the kids. 
  • I start writing a new book. 
  • Yada yada yada yada. 
 If I were a {real} runner, I'd be a sprinter, not a marathon {or half marathon} runner.  I don't know perseverance.  Not in a way that's seemed real to me.  

I think the undercurrent is, if I have to vest a lot into something, only to not succeed, I've only wasted a whole lot of time.  And that all comes down to self esteem.  The stream knows, somehow, that it will win in the end... and somehow I've got to be the stream.  

Unrelenting perseverance... I need to go run. 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Return of the Nemesis

Once upon the time there was a girl, not me, of course, another girl, who due to embarrassment would appreciate remaining anonymous.  Anyway.  This girl was courting a dear boy who enjoyed riding bicycles, so, since she'd hocked hers for a few extra dollars years prior, he took her bicycle shopping and bought her a new shiny two wheeled traveling machine.  He packed the 'his and her' traveling machines into the back of the trusty pick-up and we, ah, I mean they, set out on their first ride. 

Now it happened to be a right windy day in the beginning of March and just as our anonymous girl was riding to climb one small, but devilishly steep, hill, her pedals went 'round and 'round, her legs pumped faster and faster, and that there bicycle contraption, well, it didn't even budge, didn't move as much as two inches up that hill.  It was much like those cartoons on the tele box, where the little critter is walking forward yet somehow moving backwards, going just as hard as he may. 


Defeated, she moved the bicycle slowly to the edge of the road and dejectedly asked the dear boy to fetch the pick up before she died.  Moments later he arrived, lugged the bicycle contraption into the bed of the truck and helped the girl into the cab.  She couldn't walk or breathe the rest of the day.

Did I mention in the story that the crazy girl now aspires to run a half marathon?  Did I also mention that North Texas was flat out windy today, and that girl, well her little legs were pushing about as hard as they could, pumping off that concrete, leaves hitting her right smack in the face?  'Cause that's how it was.  I swear the wind was just 'a laughin'.  Hoopin', really, remembering the days before when it did indeed defeat said girl. 

But not today friends.  With every heave of her chest for oxygen, every concrete step taken, she finished that run today, and then gracefully collapsed on her couch after her five minute cool down walk, where her muscles and ligaments and other anatomical things turned to rubber bands... very tight rubber bands that make it difficult to straighten my legs. 

Why did I do this again? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's a Good Thing I've Decided to Train for Training

My mantra on running has always been that if I'm not being chased, or at the very least a ball or purpose involved, you may as well forget it.  I'll be honest; I loathe running.  I don't know, there's something about my heart feeling like it's going to burst out of my chest, getting dizzy and having to heave for air that just isn't appealing to me.  (Good thing I decided to make running one of my tangible goals, huh?)

So - I think you all can assume that I've done little in the running department in my life.  Thus, I decided rather than jump right into the training that gets me in shape and running a half marathon in twenty weeks, maybe I should make myself, at least somewhat, a runner going into it.  I decided to do the couch to 5k program to ease my body into this new transition.

So last night I went and ran day two of week one and the entire time I'm thinking to myself, "Ok, running, Alicia?  Really!?"  But I told myself, "One day closer to my first goal.  Finishing today allows me to continue tomorrow," and I kept on running.  I felt a little bit like Forrest Gump.

While training for the training, I'm doing some preparing for the training as well.  A new friend of mine let me borrow a book that has some good pointers in it, I've chatted up a couple people who have accomplished such a feat, and I'm beginning to get a good idea of things I need to do to prepare myself (ahem, besides running, that is). 

The first thing requires buying a pair of good running shoes.  It was during this revelation that I realized how unprepared and ignorant I really am. 

Apparently you can expect to spend around $100 (or more) on 'good running shoes', which do, of course, come from an actual running store, where they do, indeed, 'fit your foot', which, apparently, consists of more than trying a shoe on, taking three steps and saying, "Yep, these fit." 

Like I said, I have a lot to learn, so it's a good thing I'm running right now to get my body ready to run.  I'll need some time to save some money for the shoes and make the commitment that comes with owning $100 running shoes, meant for, well, running. 

So I'm stocking up on ibuprofen, purchasing some 'running clothes' here and there, and thinking about a medal hanging around my neck at the end of this thing, a half year from now... oh geesh, what have I got myself into?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Backstory

So I'm setting off on a journey this year.  It has taken me to the middle of January to resolve not to make resolutions.  For where I am, at 27 years old (for the first time in my life I've had to literally calculate my age, sources tell me that is because I'm old, but I keep having to calculate it because I feel like I should be older, anywho) I need something more concrete than a resolution. 

I don't need to be 90 on my way to Jesus and thinking back say to myself, "Wow, I'm so glad I aspired to spend more time with family, lose ten pounds, and read a book a month over the course of 2012."  No, I doubt it'll be like that at all. 

In fact, at this point in life I fear that at 90 I'll look back and wonder why, when I was so able, had my entire life in front of me, that I was too paralyzed with fear to do anything.  Hello confession, because that is what this blog entry is going to be.  You may want to hold on to your seats... or get some popcorn, whichever you prefer. 

Let's go back, say, 20 years or so.  (Ok, that does make me feel old.)  An average seven year old has rational fears (if any are, say, rational): the dark, being shaving creamed at a sleepover, falling off the top bunk, you know, seven year old fear type things. 

Me?  Not so much.  Maybe it was too much Law and Order or Walker Texas Ranger with my parents, but I feared about burglars and rapists being outside my window.  I'm not kidding. 

Need a break for that popcorn yet?  Just checking. 

I would walk the playground at school, and if a helicopter flew over, I'd fear something happened to one of my parents and they were airflighting them out.  Again, not kidding.  These fears seem even more ridiculous to me seeing them in print, but I'm being honest, remember?

Although those were some of the most extreme, they weren't the ones that paralyzed me.  At some point in my life I was able to cope that there were some things I had no control over.  If someone wanted to break into our house and rape me as a seven year old, he'd probably succeed.  If something was going to happen to one of my parents, there wasn't much I could do to stop it.  And so, if I couldn't have control over these situations, I began to try to control the other fears in my life.  Generically, I'd define these as the fear of failure, social inadequacy, and just not measuring up in general. 

I've had migraine headaches since I could remember, but they really took off when I started kindergarten.  (Tragic, right?)  Oddly enough, that is when my expectations for myself took off as well.  I needed accolades from my parents.  If I wasn't getting accolades, I wasn't succeeding.  My entire life I did great at school.  I figured out in first grade when my neighbor and I started a neighborhood newspaper that I had a knack for writing.  I clung to that like a life preserver.  Aside from my task oriented, good works life, I was extremely shy, and though I did have friends, it was hard for me to feel like anyone would ever like me, so my shyness stemmed from fear, fear that I'd be disliked, fear that I'd be made fun of.  And I've carried this with me for a long, long time. 

Through middle school I was losing my shyness.  I had my first, um, permanent boyfriend (you can't call it a 'real' boyfriend because, let's face it, we spoke literally about 10 times in two years) when I was in 5th and 6th grade.  It was very innocent, very 5th and 6th gradish (at the time anyway, I don't even want to think about an average 5th / 6th grade relationship now), but a small part of my shyness began shaking lose.  I desperately needed companionship of others, and up until this point, I was basically close friends with very few and acquaintances with those who could use me at appropriate times.  Maybe my self - esteem was increasing, to at least be out of the negative, or maybe I was just tired of being lonely.

It was a slow incline after that, but somewhere I realized I was decent at school and the pressure wasn't near as great as it once was.  The migraines slowly started tapering, a welcome finding since I'd literally had them every day of my life for years.  I grew a small group of close friends, but as soon as anyone got too close, I moved on.  At any notice that I'd disappointed anyone I tucked and ran.  I didn't like conflict, didn't want people to think poorly of me, and didn't have the self esteem to think that a friendship with me was worth fighting for.  For this reason, I had a lot of different friends, people I cared genuinely about, but people that I didn't allow to see the flaws that I carried, the places I didn't measure up.  Believe it or not, in 8th grade I was voted the friendliest girl in my class of 100 or so.  I think it largely has to do with this reason. 

High school was an interesting turning point in my life.  I was more into friendships and social scenes, allowing myself to get closer to a few individuals than I'd ever allowed myself before.  It felt good to have friends, to have people who cared about me, a very select few even in spite of myself.  Though I enjoyed friendships with several, I can probably count on one hand the number of people who really... really know me after high school.  Maybe both hands, but I'd definitely have fingers left over.   I was so... average... that the fear was overwhelming that I wouldn't fit in, couldn't perform, yada yada yada. 

I'm 27 years old, and I've carried this with me my entire life.  Some of the biggest fights I've been in with my husband revolve around my own fears and inadaquecies.  A trip to the gym, at one point, turned into a knock down, drag out.  He's often joked (though not really) that in a world of 'glass half fulls and empties," I don't even have a glass.  And he's right.  I don't even have a friggin' glass. 

I'm 27 years old with regrets.  Regrets that I never let people in.  Regrets that I didn't try things outside of my comfort zone.  Regrets that my mentality, though only now finally verbalized, has always been, "I'd rather think that I have a chance at doing something than fail and remove all doubt."  I have regrets that my self esteem is so poor that I've missed out on people in my life who could have grown me and cared for me.  I regret feeling as if I've had nothing to offer in return.  I mean, it's regretful that of all of the people I've known in my life, few know me vulnerably.  It occurs to me every time I need someone to talk to, to confide in, and the list in my head immediately narrows to the individuals that I've let into my life in that capacity, and then narrows again to those whom I've actually had contact with in the last ten years. 

But you know what - here's where the 90 year old woman sits.  I refuse to have this regret as my old wrinkly self 60 years from now.  I refuse to allow my fears of inadequacy to keep me from who I really am.  I want to be able to dream with the possibility of fulfilling it!  I want to be able to tangibly see the fears I've overcome. 

It doesn't mean I'm not going to be scared as all get out (edited).  Because, you know, I am.  I'm scared to let my guard down.  I mean, I want to write a book and have a publisher want it, but my fear of being unwanted is so strong that I've always used the excuse, "I don't have time to write a book for nothing to happen with it."  I have a fear of almost any athletic endeavor because, well, you don't have to know me well at all to know that me and athletics aren't exactly bff's.  I hate going in restaurants alone, I hate going to a new place alone, I hate feeling like I have nothing to offer the world, and I'm done with it. 

So this year is not a year for resolutions, this year is the year I take ownership of the life I never really had.  This year is the year that I erase the boring, calculated, predictable future from my slate, and fill in with risks, failures and successes, successes I may not ever know if I don't conquer this fear that has paralyzed me my entire life.  NO, this year isn't a resolution, this year will revolutionize who I will become from here on out.  Not that the real 'vulnerable' me will change, but maybe she will gain some confidence, maybe she'll be more trusting, maybe she'll appreciate who she is. 

And so - this is the backstory - the novel to get it all going, but for the rest of the year on this blog, not that I won't be sharing about my kids and family and what not, but you'll be seeing a lot of my journey, a lot of heeding opportunities to do things I wouldn't have before and the obstacles I have to overcome to get there. 

I realize that this encompasses a lot of possibilities, but two are inevitable... the only two - ahem - goals I've set for myself this year are two that will allow me to tangibly and physically see my fears being overcome:
  1. Run a half marathon:  What it accomplishes (besides losing that extra baby weight): makes me have to work hard and stick with something.  It's a long process of overcoming the fear of failing, I'll have to face it, literally, every single day of my life for around 20 weeks of training, at the end I have only to push through it (without dying, of course) to see that I've overcome my own stereotype and perception of myself as an athlete and a competitor.  (Not that I'll be winning any gold medals, I don't care if I finish last, as long as I finish, but let's face it, in my history, my biggest competitor is me.)
  2. Write a book and see it through to completion, and then pray my little heart out that something happens with it.  Don't get me wrong, if I finish it, that's an accomplishment, but let's be honest, the entire reason I blog is because I see it useless to write something that someone else can't enjoy, learn from, or understand.  Others don't see it that way, I do.  So part of achieving this goal means going through all of the motions to submit to a publishing company.  If I'm rejected, that is beyond my control, but having tried I know that I at least made the effort.  (And maybe next years goal will be to write again, despite it.)  
So - welcome to my journey.  I hope I can entertain you, but I also hope that you use my own pain and struggles to overcome those in your own world.  Part of my realization of the fear I carry has come from seeing so many others carry it themselves, and though they are often different, their results are often the same.  Feel free to comment on any of my blogs outlining any of your own struggles or successes, even if they are in no way inter-related, because one thing I've come to notice is that inspiration doesn't have to come from a source similar to your own, inspiration just comes from people overcoming obstacles... even if the biggest obstacle is themselves.

That's it for my first novel.  Maybe writing that book will be easier than I thought ;)

Until next time (sooner rather than later) -

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Reading... Writing... and Fallin' Apart at the Seams

I'm stinking it up on blog writing this year.  You want to know what I've been doing?  Well, here it is in no particular order:

{Reading} - Dear Hubby (and every other person I know who contributed to my birthday cash this year) bought me a Kindle Fire.  In one month (quite literally, I received it on December 14th) I've read: Water for Elephants, Twilight (twice), New Moon (1 1/2 times, I skipped chapters 3 - 16 the second time around - ahem), Eclipse (twice), Breaking Dawn (twice), the entire trilogy of The Hunger Games, and I've started The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.  I also read about 10 chapters of some book called something like "The Red Suit Diaries" and got bored and gave up on it.  Like I said... I've been reading.

{Rekindling my love for writing} - By, uhhh, not writing.  You know, not blogging.  I've wanted to write a book - a real book... one that people would read - all my life.  So I've been daydreaming about characters, plot and climax far too much.

{Starting a work - out regimen} - Because, let's face it:  This girl still has ten or more pounds to lose, and I'm not doing any good wishing it away.

And mostly:

{Basically falling apart at the seams} - Like.  For real.  Of course I'm not going overly in depth with anything online - but it's been a rough go, to say the least.  When a whole load of responsibilities was ripped away (with Christmas being over and family being gone), I immediately realized that I'm overwhelmed, with life in general.  There's a lot of work and a lot of 'rehab' to do to repair what I've let crack into my being... but realizing it is the first step, right?  Right. 

So - if I'm neglecting you, it's because my priorities have to shift to help myself, to help my family... and though I won't desert you completely... the blog sometimes has to take a back seat. 

Who knows, maybe I'll have a book to show for it someday... I'd love that.

Until next time...