Developing Good Habits

You are a sure thing! Do you look in the mirror and believe that about yourself? Take the opportunity this summer to believe this. I’ll be right there with you working on it as well.

Missing yesterday’s post made me realize that I need to commit to writing in order to develop a healthy habit. I’ve been a little wishy washy on the day and times during which I write, so I’ll make a commitment. I’m going to write at least four times a week, including three weekday posts and one weekend post. Free wifi is available almost everywhere if I’m ever away from home, so I have no excuse to not keep this up! The tricky thing about habits, at least in my experience, is that good habits are hard to develop and easy to break while bad habits are easy to develop and hard to break. I always get really excited about the beginning of a new hobby or activity. I keep that momentum for a little bit, and once it peters out, I find that my motivation to continue dissipates as well. The times where I’ve been able to keep up with a hobby are when I am part of something that is beyond me, like doing ballroom dancing in college or concert band in high school.  Sure, there are those days when I was lazy and skipped a few scales at the beginning of a clarinet lesson, but overall, I kept playing for years. I developed friendships from those activities that in turn helped me stay motivated, too.  I think the push to change has to come internally. But we can absolutely take advantage of outside influences to keep us motivated when we lose it ourselves. It’s a relationship. You figure out what works best for you, and that might be different week to week, mood to mood. So, I’m going to use your viewership as an outside influence to help motivate me to write. You’re probably trying to tackle something this summer, too. Feel free to lean on me to help you achieve your goals! It’s a symbiotic relationship. The individual pursuit of happiness makes all of society better. I’m a firm believer in this and happy to discuss more in the comments if you agree or disagree!

Another thing I’m realizing with writing is that I struggled to write yesterday because I’m still finding my voice and what I want to write about. I actually wrote a blog post about puns. I haven’t posted it yet because it’s not my strength! I know developing quick-wit is going to ultimately help me achieve personal and professional goals, so I need to keep at it. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good for me 🙂

That’s been the major theme of my workouts with my trainer, too. Today, he made me perform leg step-ups which challenged my balance and stability. I lack core strength, so I was bad at it. However, when he makes me do this again next week, I’ll be a little bit better, be able to do a few more reps. The improvement will make me want to continue, and I’ll get another little motivation boost to keep going back.

I don’t think I’ll be tackling a new activity each week this summer because there is a purpose to each activity I’m trying out. In some cases, I hope to develop long-term hobbies, and other activities are stepping stones to a higher goal. My overall theme is going to be developing habits and the work that goes into them. Supposedly, medium-intensity habits take approximately 21 days to develop. I’ll begin tracking that for working out and eating healthy.

I did finally hear back from the horse stable, and I have a lesson scheduled for tomorrow! I’ll be able to fulfill promises of writing about horseback riding and punning by the end of the week. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

References: Brian Tracy’s Blog, Lifehack blog

Sports Commentary: The Cubs blew out the Cleveland Indians yesterday 17-0. WHATTT??

Congratulations, Blackhawks!

We are the champions, my friends!  And we’ll keep on fighting ’till the end. Ooooh.  

I’ll admit that I only recently became a hockey fan in 2010 (yes, there is a correlation with a certain team winning their third most recent Stanley Cup that year…), so I’m still getting used to the concept of a winning team from Chicago.  We’ve got da Bears who haven’t won since 1986, da Cubs who haven’t won in God knows how long (1908, I believe?), and the White Sox, who don’t count as a Chicago team in my book (most recently won 2005). So, you can see that while there is another Chicago team that has won in the past decade, I don’t even get to benefit from that. Winning feels good 🙂 I think we could ride that train a little longer!  Isn’t the whole point of my summer vacation to feel like a winner again anyways? Yes.

On the track to becoming a winner, you usually run into a few road bumps. I am experiencing that this week with scheduling my horseback riding lesson! I bought a Groupon for a local Madison stable about a month ago, and they haven’t returned my call yet. I also had difficulty finding blogs for new riders, which I guess makes sense. A lot of the blogs were focused on postpartum riding and getting back into the swing of things (getting back on the horse, if you will). I really like that people are writing about continuing their hobbies even after they start a family. It’s just not something that I relate to yet! I think I’ll try watching some Youtube videos tomorrow for some tips and hopefully I’ll get in a lesson before I’m at the dude ranch next week. Time to saddle up.

In the meantime I’m working on my endurance with BarreAmped classes, yoga, and personal training. I signed up for a 40 class challenge through September at my yoga studio Dragonfly Hot Yoga. Are you doing challenges of your own this summer?

The other goal I set for myself this week was to start being punny! If you know me even a little bit, you know that I’m very gullible, which doesn’t play well for me with puns. This is a huge mental exercise for me! A buddy of mine told me about a monthly event called Pundemonium in Madison, which basically is a contest for creating puns on the spot. I’m going to check it out in July and maybe try it in August.

True stories from my life where I attempted to be punny in the past month:

When your boyfriend visits Alcatraz but sends you a cryptic text that “he got sent to prison,” how do you respond?

A) You con believe it

B) You felon love with him!

C) It’s about damn time someone caught him.

D) Wait. He’s not joking. Go bail him out.

When your boyfriend decides to untie your shoes at the Cubs game, how do you respond?

A) You are knot one of my favorite people.

B) Lace your fingers into his and smile mischievously.

C) Knock him on the head. Come on, dude!

Got any other punny answers?

Clearly my boyfriend and friends are funnier than I am! I’m probably going to be referencing them a lot in this blog! 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ll get a little more information on how to ride a horse and how to practice more puns. Tonight, I’m going to trivia, so I imagine I’ll have a story or two to tell from that!

Hey Chicago, Whaddyasay?

Novel Attitude: The Cubs are going to win today?!?

Weekly Goals: Go horseback riding, be punny

Congratulations flowers from a friend!
Good luck flowers from a friend!

My first weekend of summer break started even better than I could have hoped. My dad treated the family to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. To be honest, I think the last time I saw the Cubs win at Wrigley was when I was still in college.  In fact the last time any member of my family saw the Cubs win was at least four years ago, so we entered this game with very low expectations. Not to mention that the Blackhawks were playing game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals at the same time, so our minds were all preoccupied with that game anyways. The Cubs have a lot going for them this year with several new rookies and young players who actually can hit and throw the ball. It’s a nice change from the backyard T-ball-quality games to which I have become accustomed since 2008.

Around the fifth inning, a massive thunderstorm hit Wrigley which delayed the game for two and a half hours. Typically when there’s a rain delay, all the fans crowd the interior of Wrigley, and the congestion alone makes you want to leave early. By some miracle, we happened to be in the first row that was completely protected by the overhang and stayed in our seats. Then, the Friendly Confines treated us to live Stanley Cup action on the brand new jumbo-trons! I honestly cannot think of a cooler way to watch the Chicago Blackhawks on TV than to be surrounded by thousands of Chicago fans collectively screaming to Chelsea Dagger every time we watch the ‘Hawks score on two massive high-quality TVs where we all have our own seats and beer is aplenty. I haven’t been to United Center yet to watch the ‘Hawks, and I imagine it’s a similar atmosphere. After watching the Blackhawks take the series lead, the thunderstorm passed, and the Cubs resumed their game. Going into the rain delay, the Cubs led 3-1. Pessimists that my family are , we all expected the Cubs to figure out a way to lose (except good ol’ Dad). Instead, two of the best youngsters on the Cubs ended up winning the game for us in the bottom of the ninth! So, we were treated to a multi-sport double-header at the family baseball outing where two Chicago teams won in the same night. Best.Cubs.Game.Ever.

Cubs win! Cubs win!
Cubs win! Cubs win!

My friends and family support sets me on a great path to have a strong start to summer break in my first full week. Each week, I want to try a new activity and blog about my preparation and outcomes. I’ll also continue writing about my ongoing activities (like personal training, yoga, and weight loss tactics) and may begin some longer term goal preparation mid-summer as well. This week, I will complete two new activities – a horseback riding lesson and punniness. My family is going on a dude ranch trip in two weeks, and I’ve rode a horse once in the last decade. I figured I’d get a practice lesson in to refresh my memory. Ideally, this gets me a little over my horsey nerves before I spend four days straight of riding! The second goal of being punny is in preparation for a long-term goal – to go to an open mic night and perform stand-up comedy. Madison has a great improv and comedy presence, and I want to start taking advantage of this! If you have any ideas on other fun, creative, scary activities I can try this summer, please comment below!

As a tease, some other plans I have in the works in order of scariness: weight loss, sky diving, stand-up comedy, bike riding, scuba diving, and buying artwork. I rank these in terms of “scariness” because that’s been my biggest de-motivator to accomplishing these in the past. I’m guessing that a lot of you can relate to this. Have you ever let fear prevent you from trying something out in the first place? For some of these goals, like sky diving, simply having the courage to jump out of the plane will be considered successful. For others, like weight loss, I want to see a physical and emotional change by the end of the summer. I’ve never sustained any weight loss in the past, and it’s held me back from wanting to try out a lot of different activities before. No more. I don’t need to lose weight to accomplish anything I want, but I also don’t need to stay at an unhealthy weight simply because I have since gaining the Freshman 15. I’m going to beat both of these negative attitudes this summer. What a novel idea!

Puppy Therapy

Angel and me
Angel and me!
Ellie and me!
Ellie and me!
Kratos and me. Kratos is older playmate of Ellie and looks like a demon here!
Kratos and me. Kratos is older playmate of Ellie and looks like a demon here!
Ellie, Kratos, and me
Ellie, Kratos, and me
Instant love!  Ellie and Kratos got along so well! It was adorable.
Instant love! Ellie and Kratos got along so well! It was adorable.
The Teddy Bear
The Teddy Bear

Today was my official last day. I made it up the stairs; I packed my office; and I left. As I left my building on my way to the exit interview, I passed by several conference rooms with meetings occurring. I saw my fellow coworkers whom I grow close to the past four years continuing their positive impact in the healthcare technology world, and I continued walking by headed back down The Abyss. I realized everything and everyone is as they should be, and that was a comforting thought. After my exit interview, I felt pretty solemn, sad, and, to be honest, a little disappointed. I didn’t hit the five year mark, but I still made a mark. I know I influenced my coworkers and my clients in a good way, and we’re all a little better for having known each other. We all grew a little bit. I don’t want to look back on my time here with any negative thoughts, so I won’t let that disappointment grow. I left when I needed to leave, and it’s okay if I need to remind myself of that every now and then. Just because I don’t know what I’m doing now doesn’t mean I should have stayed.

I’ve mentioned before my fear of being stagnant and lazy during my time off. I don’t think I started that way. I updated my resume, applied to a job, and then met up with an old colleague for some networking and beer. Okay, so maybe I took a nap in between resume-ing and beer, but I don’t fault myself for that! 😉 It’s scary being back in the job hunt, but I feel great about the prospects. Something will work out.

My ex-colleague and I stayed at her new house because it was raining all day and ruined plans to go to the Terrace. She has a ten month old chocolate lab puppy, and that dog had energy for days! He *literally* played catch for an hour and a half in the downpour! He’d bring the ball back each time and shake his fur off spraying mud everywhere! He was so proud of himself. I’m so glad I got to play with a puppy because there is no better therapy than puppy therapy.

Over the weekend, I visited my grandparents and best friend in Sarasota. My friend and her mom both got new puppies with whom I also got to play! I knew this was going to be my last week which would bring on a lot of mixed emotions, so I cherished those moments playing with the little bundles of energy. My best friend got a golden retriever puppy named Ellie, and her mom got a cavachon puppy named Sophie (I’m sure I have that wrong.  It’s a mix between a cavalier spaniel and a bichon, and she looks like a teddy bear!) Within four days, Ellie already knew how to sit and shake! I posted some pictures above; I just can’t resist!

This week I’m dog-sitting for Angel, the sweetest sheltie in the world. She’s only 11 pounds and also will play catch with a mini tennis ball for long periods of time. She also has a tendency to wake me up at 6 in the morning because she decides it’s time to get up. Come on, Angel, don’t you know I don’t have to wake up early anymore??

Moral of this story is that if you have a dog and live near me and need a dog-sitter, I’m probably willing and able 🙂 Comment below!

Climbing Up the Abyss

For my last week at work, my division moved into a new, unfinished building where the elevators don’t work. It’s actually a nice circular ending to my time here because I feel exactly like a new hire again. No idea where my office is located and no idea where I am in relation to anywhere else. On my first day August 1, 2011**, my mentor found me wondering the basement halls of a building with lost puppy dog eyes. She had to rescue me, while laughing, by guiding me up the stairs to my office in the adjoining building. This story should surprise none of you that know me and have seen me navigate in the wrong direction while using GPS. So, I felt rather similarly to little, new hire Kimmy while driving into work on Monday. After driving around for 20 minutes trying to find the new underground parking garage location for a garage that is aptly called “The Abyss”, I finally mosey my way down to the third level for available parking. Then, I walk toward the stairs, dreading every moment.

Usually, I’m not opposed to taking the stairs, especially as I’ve been trying to jumpstart my fitness routine. One of my big goals during funemployment is to become healthy emotionally and physically. For me, my emotional and physical healths are closely tied to one another. When I feel well physically, it usually means I feel well emotionally. About three years ago, I purchased a 40 training session package. I still have 25 sessions remaining, so you can see I did a really great job of using those. I decided I’d start working out with a trainer again three times a week in the mornings until the sessions run out. This way, I get some solid physical activity in, and I’m forced out of bed in the morning. Without work, I could easily sleep till 11am, and then I would have wasted a morning.

I do have concerns about my ability to monitor my laziness and procrastination during my time off. If I don’t feel like I have enough will power right now to do this on my own, then I’m going to build in checks that nudge me in the correct direction. (Spoiler alert – I don’t feel like I have enough will power to do this on my own!) Now, I could easily come back home and take a nap until noon after these sessions, or sit on my couch and watch TV, but I’ve decided to add another check. And this one is a big one for me. I have not set up my cable or internet since moving into my new apartment in April. I really haven’t been home enough due to work travel for it to be a huge issue yet. My conclusion is that I do need wifi, and I don’t need cable. Come fall and football season, I may add in a cable membership, but for now, not having cable will be one fewer distractions from me being productive. There are a million other ways I can find to waste my time, but I’m going to have to hold myself accountable at some point. These two seem like the most proactive approaches.

Let’s get back to those stairs. Mind you, from the parking level to my office there are about 5 large floors of stairs to climb. Monday, my trainer had me do some all around exercises, including a lot of squats. Today, he asked me if I wanted to do a leg day. Not excitedly, I agreed to this. If I thought my buttocks and quads were sore the last two days, then I was wrong. I practically had to crawl up all those flights of stairs, and I’m pretty sure I would have tumbled going down if I didn’t death grip the railing! My last day tomorrow will probably be even worse since soreness seems to always hit the next day! If you see me very awkwardly on a staircase tomorrow, now you know.

I have to say I surprised myself during the workout, despite my legs deciding to stop working afterward. It’s really helpful having someone guide you through the exercises and have an eye for form. I’ve worked out plenty of times on my own with weights, but I’ve always struggled with pushing myself hard enough both with weights and with stamina. This new trainer has done a really good job of understanding my current physical level and pushing me a bit beyond what I think I’m capable. I’m happy to transfer my work ethic from actual work to exercise because it’s still adding to my long-term success. I may not look pretty doing it, but I feel pretty dang good afterward.


**EDIT: Several of my good friends recommended I get a “proofer” because I got this date wrong! I started on August 1, 2011. 🙂

Destination Somewhere

I’m grinning from ear to ear as I step off the plane.  This is one of the last trips I’ll ever take for my current company, and I can breathe a sigh of relief, sadness, terror, excitement, and calmness. I’m practically skipping my way to the rental car when I open the trunk, bend down to grab my bag, and realize I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO GRAB MY BAG! This same trip would also include me locking the keys inside the trunk of a locked car and getting in line for the wrong layover flight (Detroit, Minneapolis, seriously, who can keep track??). Those are stories for another day.

Today, I’m about to embark on a very scary journey that has no end in sight. I don’t have the future planned. Seriously. On one hand, I’m panicking because I haven’t not known my future plans since, well, ever, and on the other hand, I’m thinking it’s about damn time I feel unbalanced and shaken. How the hell am I supposed to grow up if I keep landing with my feet firmly planted in, well, in certainty, I suppose? I’ve practically always known what I was working toward. I can remember as early as second grade when my dad took the entire family to the Northwestern Wildcats Citrus Bowl game that I was destined to be a Wildcat. When I finished up at NU, I had secured the job at my current company five months before I even graduated. And I continued at that company for nearly four years. Four years that were fantastic and probably allowed me to grow more as a person, worker, student, and friend in that short amount of time than the entirety of my schooling career. But there was always something off. I never quite felt like this was the right job. I had goals to stay for at least five years, but earlier this year I had this nagging thought growing inside of me. I realized I was growing weary of my purpose, and it was having a negative impact on my life.  So, I quit. I quit with no game plan except to figure out a game plan.

I still have goals, and I still want to work hard. I consider this funemployment to be an active investment in myself. I want to explore my interests and develop hobbies. I hated that for a lot of the past 8 years, I would work hard, procrastinate, work really hard, watch TV, eat flaming hot cheetoes, and drink a lot of wine. It means I have a tendency toward laziness, but I want to overcome this. I always have, and now is my time to not sit on my ass. (Wine will still be encouraged.)

The first step toward exploring interests for me is creating this blog. I used to write all of the time, and I lost that knack a while ago. I’d like to find it again. I want to define my own success, and I want to be as successful as possible. I don’t know what that means right now, but I bet I’ll explore that while writing. That’s my honest answer. There are a lot of indefinites, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that! I basically get to start from scratch here.

My hope for this blog is that while I rediscover my passions and try out things that I’ve been too scared of failing at before, that maybe you’ll be inspired to try out something new or something forgotten, too. My hope is that together we grow a little stronger in our will power and determination and ability to say “fuck you, failure.” If I’m going to fail, then I should fail big.

Pursuit of Happiness