When “No” Means “Yes”

saying yes and no

Multitasking can be a good thing when it comes to accomplishing smaller or simpler objectives.  But for those grand dreams that linger on your mind whether you’re in your office or your shower or your bed?  Those bad boys require intense focus if you have any prayer of accomplishing them.

They require you to be all in.

It’s pretty damn impossible to be all in with more than one thing at a time…

And the kicker is that if you try to go all in for two or more goals at once, you’ll almost always end up greatly diminishing your chances of success with any of them.

Trying for a 30 minute marathon PR and 75lb front squat PR in the same training season?

Doing your medical residency and making your way through law school at the same time?

Traveling through Europe and paying off your student loans as quickly as possible?

All admirable things to which to aspire…

But definitely not a recipe for success.

The best recipe for success has only one ingredient: 100% focus and effort poured into that goal until it’s done well.

And that will mean saying “no” to a lot of things.  Invariably, some of those things will be really awesome.  Sometimes, the only reason to say “no” will be that something could detract a small percentage of your focus and effort from your greatest goal.

The one to which you’re saying “yes.”

When you know the end goal you are pursuing, saying “no” becomes an act of freedom.  It may cost you many good things, but it allows you to say “yes” to those things which are even greater.

Going all in is a sacrifice and a risk, and an ongoing one, at that.  It requires passing on great opportunities you may never again have.

But it also means you might find success beyond your wildest dreams.

So the question is…do you know what you are saying “yes” to?

It Hurts, Sometimes.

It hurts, sometimes, this living we do.  The being born and the growing up and the heartbreaking and the lovemaking and the saying “goodbye” and the saying “I do” and the dying and the living.

It hurts.

Sometimes it really fucking hurts.

And in the real world, we wash that hurt off with some Jack on the rocks and blow it off with a few puffs of Marlboro or Mary Jay.

We wring out that hurt in the beds of lovers or strangers or whores, and we try to prune that hurt out of our lives with the sliding of credit cards.

But the plastic can’t cut deep enough, the sex can’t last long enough, and there’s not a substance in the world strong enough to make that hurt stay gone.

(We’re fucked.)

desperate

And for people of faith, we walk into a church and we sing songs (that maybe drive us crazy because the music is just so bad) and we shake hands and smile and pretend that this all makes the hurt feel better.

You know? maybe, sometimes, it helps.

But then we walk out of church and it hurts all over again.

The being born and the growing up and the heartbreaking and the lovemaking and the saying “goodbye” and the saying “I do” and the dying and the living.

Church can’t make that hurt stay gone.

(Really, we are so, so fucked.)

And maybe that’s why we get goosebumps when we read about a certain Man from a few centuries ago.  Because this Man understood that life hurts. This world hurts.  And we are all so royally fucked.

He got it.

He got it.

And not just that, but He lived it and He felt it and He hurt with us.  Because He hurt for us.  Because He knew that we were fucked and nothing we could do – on a barstool or a motel bed or a church pew – would be enough to make that hurt stay gone.

There was something He could do, though.

By taking the hurt on Himself, He could make it stay gone.

For good.

And so He did.

The Son of God put on human skin and lived with the people who were hurting.  The more fucked up they were, the more love He seemed to have for them.  And He loved them so much He did what they never would have done, even if they could.

He took the hurt.

He took the sadness and the shame and the sin.  He took those secret sorrows, the ones so deeply buried that no one knows them but you and your tearsoaked pillows.  He took the hidden hurts, the ones whose roots burrow down past your Sunday smile to the very bottom of your being.  He took them all.

He took the hurt – all of it.

He took it on Himself, and He took it to the cross.

And it hurt.

More than we can understand – it hurt.

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.”

He breathed and He lived and He hurt and He died for us.  Because He loves us as a father loves his children.  And there is nothing that grieves the Father quite like His children hurting.

So He did the one thing in all of earth and eternity that could make the hurt go away for good:

He took it to the grave with Himself.

The hurt stayed gone, but He came back.

That tomb is empty.

Our hearts are full.

The King is risen.

Life will still have its share of pain on this side of heaven.  We shouldn’t kid ourselves, and He doesn’t ask it of us.

“For in this world you will have trouble…”

We will feel it alright.  This world is – for now – haunted by the enemy, bitter that the King claimed His kingdom.  Bitter that he cannot have us. Bitter that the tomb is empty.

Bitter that the Healer took on the hurt of the world, and He won.

“…but take heart. I have overcome the world.”

And He alone is enough to make the hurt stay gone.

Hurt may haunt us until He comes again, but it cannot have us.

Do you hear me? It cannot have us.

Because Christ came and He died and He rose.

The King is alive and on His throne.

(We were fucked, but now we’re free.)

hope sunset

Oh death, where is your victory?

Oh death, where is your sting?

He is risen, indeed.

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


References:

Matthew 27:46
John 16:33
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Life Without Hashtags

Yesterday I scrolled through facebook, twitter, and Instagram for the first time in forty days.  I’d given up social media (aside from blogging) for Lent this year, and it was harder than I’d expected.  The old saying may be true – “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” And sometimes what you’ve got is a crutch, and it’s only when it’s gone that you realize how much it’s holding you back.

social media 2

Or, you know, how much you’re holding yourself back.

(Because no one is forcing you to get on Instagram and look through photos of all your friends’ lunches/boyfriends/workouts/sunsets/coffee/dogs/#whatevs.)

Getting back on social media was weird.  It made me reflect on the time I’d spent away from social media, and how those days had been different.  How I’d been different…and how I want to be different going forward.

It’s funny how much can change in forty days.

Everyone and their Uncle Horace got engaged/pregnant/hitched. (Not necessarily at the same time.)

Ok, so the obvious disclaimer is that I’m currently in that stage of life where everyone decides to mate and procreate.  So there’s good percentage of people I’m friends with/following on social media who are in that age group and getting on with that leavin’-n-cleavin’ and fruitful-n-multiplyin’ business.

But you get desensitized, I think, when you see shiny rings and white dresses and belly bumps and squishy little alien faces (those are the babies, just to clarify) on social media every day.  When you take a break and come back, it feels like you just walked into a fertility clinic or something and you suddenly want to swallow a whole pack of birth control pills.

afterbirth

Because there’s something in the water, and this uterus is not looking to open for business right now.

And here’s the kicker…

I really don’t care about most of them.

Family and close friends who happen to be geographically distant? I care, and I actually want to see your heavily edited engagement pictures and photos of your slimy little newborns.

The other 90% of yall?  Yeah, I just don’t care.

Like, good for you (really!) for getting hitched or having a baby or moving to Belgium, but let’s be real about it.  I won’t be buying you a wedding gift or going to your baby shower and God knows I’m not going to help you move, so I’ll give you a congratulatory “like” if I’m feeling particularly magnanimous and we’ll move along with our otherwise unconnected lives.

Maybe this sounds harsh, but it’s easy to feel like you’re “missing out” by not staying up to date on the major life events of everyone and their Uncle Horace (or maybe that’s just part of having gone to a small private school).

funny engagement parody

Spoiler alert: You’re not missing out if you don’t care.  (And let’s be honest – most of us don’t, not that much.)

People are so much less likable when they overshare.

Suffice to say, there are a lot of people that I like more when I don’t have to see their feelings broadcast on social media.

And yes, I realize the irony of this statement, as my Irish temper, passionate opinions, and tendency to run my mouth, do not make me likely to be voted “Miss Congeniality.”  I believe “feisty,” “spicy,” and “inappropriate” are the most common descriptors used.

But you know what? It’s still true.

I put a lot out there on social media.

I can’t begin to count the number of times someone would say something hilarious or I’d embarrass myself and I would have the urge to post about it on social media.  It was almost instinctive.

Not sure what this says about my social skills, but I cope with life by laughing at it and trying to get everyone to do the same.  I mean, I had the idea to start this blog after I broke a hammock by sitting on it, because the reaction to that story on facebook made me realize that maybe embarrassing shenanigans are relatable or something and people would read that kind of thing.

And maybe they are, and maybe they do.

(I mean…yall are reading this, so there’s that.)

But my life just as amusing – and often more enjoyable – when I worry less about sharing the best moments on the internet and more about making the people I’m seeing face to face pee their pants laughing.

Plus, I could use that mental energy to work on not breaking hammocks anymore.

You get sh*t done when you don’t have the distraction of social media.

Self-explanatory.  The routine used to be wake up…turn off alarm…turn on a light…sit on bedroom floor where phone was charging and scroll through Instagram until I was awake enough to think that I could handle walking to the kitchen for coffee.  (Pathetic.  But seriously, it was my daily routine.) With Instagram, twitter, and facebook deleted from my phone, it was almost easy to wake up before dawn and jump right into making coffee, reading my Bible, and getting on with my day.

And during all times of day, I was so much more productive when I was online.  No more rabbit trails clicking through links that people have shared.  If I read something on the internet, it was because I had intentionally looked it up or someone had sent it specifically to me via email.

I read more books.  I practiced guitar a little more often than usual (although still not enough, sadly).  I did more yoga.  I talked on the phone more.  I drank more coffee (this had nothing to do with my social media fast). I got more sh*t done.  And it felt mother-lovin’ fantastic.

Life looks better without hashtags and filters.

Giving up social media meant giving up a form of affirmation.  I’m a fairly confident dame, but I won’t deny that seeing little “like” notifications adding up can be a confidence booster…especially if you’re having a rough day/week/season.  It’s easy to be persuaded to like yourself more when you see that other people like you, too.

(But that’s probably the same phenomenon that turned Kanye into the douchenozzle he is, so….yeah.  Not the best habit to feed.)

Forty days without social media meant forty days of living life without hashtags, without “likes,” without the ability to compare myself and my life to strangers and acquaintances on isntagram and facebook and twitter.

Social media buttons

It meant when I had good news, I had to decide who I wanted to tell and make time to share with them.  I couldn’t just broadcast it with a clever hashtag and watch the congratulatory sentiments pour in from my invisible internet friends.  When I was feeling crappy, I couldn’t just post something witty or cutesy and distract myself by garnering “likes” and appreciative comments.  I had to wrestle with whatever situations or feelings I faced and find a way to improve them.  It meant being intentional about my relationships and actively making an effort to stay in touch with friends and be involved in their lives…

Not like a “Omg I saw your facebook post about your new job! Congrats!! #workinggirl” comment.

I mean a real live phone call/text. “Hey, so did you get that job you were interviewing for? Well, congrats! I’ve got to buy you a beer to celebrate…how about this Thursday?”

Kind of weird.  But a lot of good.

Not sure where I’m going with this.  At this point I’m rambling, and that usually ends badly because my internet rambles have fewer boundaries than the California border.  So I guess I’ll leave yall with this:

Taking time off from social media taught me that life is better without the distraction of social media. So much so that the only app I’ve reinstalled on my phone is Instagram.  I’m not saying I won’t be back on facebook and twitter, but I plan to be very intentional about limiting my time there.  Social media is a great tool that allows us to reach out to the outside world any time we want…but that doesn’t mean that the world needs to be able to get ahold of you every moment of the day.  There are far too many adventures to be had and too much living to be enjoyed to spend my days attached to my phone.

I’d like to challenge yall to think about taking a break – even just for a week – to see what life is like without hashtags and “likes.”  Hell, even just delete one social media app off your phone and see how that impacts you.  You might find yourself happier with fewer hashtags.

But no matter what…please don’t ever share things like this on social media.  I will un-friend your ass so fast.

awkward maternity photo

Discuss:

How often do you use social media?

Do you find that it enhances or detracts from your life most of the time?

Have you ever thought about taking a break from it?

 

“Down and Dirty” 20 Minute Cardio Blast

Sometimes, you just want to get sweaty, you know? Maybe you’re in a rush, or maybe you need to let off some steam, or maybe you’re an endorphin-addict looking for a quick fix…but whatever the case, this workout’s got you covered.

In sweat.

Covered in sweat.

In the best way possible.

Maybe not the best way, but my parents read this so….

It’s exactly what the name says – down and dirty.

No equipment necessary besides that sexy body of yours.

Really, all you need is a little bit of space and the cajones to push yourself for 20 minutes…

…and I know yall have totally got those cajones.

So go on with your bad self and get down and dirty!

Down and Dirty Cardio Blast

If you’re up for an extra challenge, throw in this 10 minute core workout and a few pushups and pull ups afterwards.  In 45 minutes or less (water breaks included!) you’ll have a full-body workout!

So sack up, get down, and report back on how it goes!*

Discuss:

Favorite bodyweight exercise?

Go-to “get sweaty fast” workout?

*Oh yeah…and don’t forget to pin/tweet/share this workout if you love it/me/getting sweaty! (Not necessarily all together.  Because that could get weird.)

Front Porch Friday 4: Bathing Suits and Body Glitter

Let’s just get the awkward confessions out of the way.

Today it was over 80° out and so naturally I sought shelter from the heat wave within the sweet, air-conditioned embrace of Target.  It was there that I found myself sinking to a new low – purchasing swimwear from the children’s section.

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dressing room lighting + undone hair + last year’s tan lines….mmmm, baby.

Sure it’s got a little bit of a Flinstone-vibe going, but for less than half the price of something from the adult section, I’ll take it.  One bright side of the obesity crisis is that they make kid’s swimsuits in sizes up to XL…and that XL happens to fit a grown-ass woman. Perks of having a short torso and no boobs!

(Sorry to all my male relatives who just read that.)

Ok, onto less awkward talk…

Hold on to your horses, folks.  What I say next might shock you.

I’m kind of sort of a little bit maybe starting to like running.

Now, I’m not saying I love it.  I’m not saying I get excited before each run.  I’m definitely not saying I’m good at it.

But I’m getting better at not hating it.  So that has to count for something, because I never in a million years thought that would happen.

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Unfortunately my knees don’t agree.  They feel like hell right now.  I’d post an audio clip of the crunching you hear when I squat down, but the sound would make you gag and I don’t want to do that to yall.  It sucks because A) I really value having fully functional knees and B) I was just almost kind of starting to enjoy this strange activity that’s rumored to be good for your health or something like that.

Speaking of being a mess…my left posterior tib is flaring up again – that’s what you get for hiking up the mileage on flat feet – and I’ve got something that I can’t figure out going on with my shoulder (all I know is it feels like bad. news. bears.)…pretty much I’m falling apart.  It’s not cute.

In spite of my crumbling physical state, I still manage to make time for the important things in life.

Like drinking.

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One of my favorite aunts was in town this weekend, and she took me out to one of the wine bars in town for a drink and girl talk.  I told the bartender I like coffee black [ok, sometimes] and my whiskey straight, and he suggested  the tempranillo.  It was my first time trying it, and it was dark and a bit spicy and a lot delightful. Instant fan over here.

Then bartender Kevin started doling out relationship advice…which was a little weird but turned out to be surprisingly solid advice. So you know, I got wine and girl time and free life coaching.  Not bad for a Sunday night.

Another highlight from the week?  When my father told me, “If you need to make money, why not try dancing?”

No joke.

I was flabbergasted.  First of all, if you’ve seen me dance, you know it’s something from which I could only make money if the audience were completely hammered, blind, or paying me to stop flailing.

man bunny pole dancing

But you know what? Even though it ain’t pretty, I can’t stop.  When the right song comes on (Bruno Mars and Macklemore, I’m holding yall personally responsible), I am absolutely compelled to get my groove on.  I mean, I nearly got pulled over by a cop this week because I was dancing my ass off so hard while driving one afternoon.

I may or may not have been under the influence of about 4 cups of coffee by that point.

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These little suckers are my kryptonite. And even more so now that the packaging has been redesigned. So cute I could just drink it up. Oh wait…

(Actually, I still kind of wish he would have pulled me over because…well, men in uniform.  Need I say more?)

Seriously, it’s a sickness.  But the only cure is more cowbell dancing.

So, in other fun news that doesn’t involve semi-clothed selfies, alcohol, or officers of the law (what a combo), I’ve got my first official grad school interview coming up on Monday.  When I got the call the day after applying, I was shocked, but sometimes these things fall together better than we can plan them.  Mildly scared and mostly excited.

And just to tease yall, I’ve got to confess that I’m very excited about an upcoming partnership involving the blog.  The cat’s got to stay in the bag for now, but I’ll be sharing details as soon as they’re all ironed out.

Oh, and PS: turns out my Dad was actually saying “If your knees keep your from running, why not try dancing?”

So he was basically suggesting jazzercise.  I should probably be more offended, but mostly I’m relieved he wasn’t telling me to buy fishnet stockings, body glitter, and a one way ticket to Vegas.

Snowball Theory

Dave Ramsey, the financial expert, has this plan for getting out of debt called the snowball method.

Snow ball

In short, he suggests paying off your smallest debt first, then the next smallest, and so on until you are debt free. Other folks in finance might suggest different approaches, perhaps first targeting the debt with the greatest principal or greatest interest rate.  But no matter how crazy it may sound, the snowball method works.  People are using it, along with other financial strategies, to get rid of their debts and find financial freedom.

The best thing about the snowball method, though, is that it’s not limited to your checkbook.  The behavior modification of tackling the smallest part of a challenge first works because it builds habits, confidence, and momentum.  

2 beliefs of successful people

So in essence, “snowball theory” can be applied to anything.

Anything.

Your career. Your health. Your relationships. Your hobbies. Your goals. Your education. Your crazy wild bucket list dreams.

By looking at any endeavor through the lens of snowball theory, you can figure out your end goal, which gives you a direction.  And you can find an area for your starting focus – something small…something immediate…something that, for whatever challenge it presents, is something you can tackle.

Maybe you’re a casual athlete who dreams of someday running a marathon…and you start by going for a jog each weekend.

Maybe you’ve decided you’re ready for new job…and you start by making a list of prospects and updating your resumé.

Maybe you need to lose 50 pounds and you know you’ve been eating poorly for years…and you start by eating a big salad for lunch every day.

Maybe you’re sick of not really having a handle on your budget…and you start by tracking all your spending for a week.

Maybe you want to stop dating losers and find out what it’s like to date good men…and you start by deleting your Tinder account.

Nike’s been simplifying the message for decades.

just do it nike

Sure, it’s definitely an option to “Just do it.”  You could just do it: go out and try to run 26.2 miles on a whim, quit your day job to become a yoga teacher, start a strict Paleo diet, cut all discretionary spending from your budget, and/or sign up for a year’s membership to eHarmony.  And some people might find great success that way.

But the odds are low.

(Especially if you do all of the above at once.  And if you do that, you might be going through a midlife crisis…in which case you’ve got much bigger fish to fry, babe.)

I see snowball theory as being the love child of Nike and What About Bob.  

baby steps what about bob

Somewhere in between “Just do it,” and “Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps…” we find a sweet spot.

There has to be a balance between method and madness, planning and passion.  Ambition and drive and dreams are all wonderful things to have, and they can get you far.  But those qualities are best balanced with a healthy dose of focus and reality.  Going balls to the wall always means you’ll eventually hit the wall.

But the odds of making it through one run per week, or tracking your spending, or eating a salad each day, or sprucing up your resume?

Those are good odds.  Damn good odds.

take the first step - MLK jr.

And odds are that you’ll feel pretty damn good when you’ve curb-stomped that little inaugural snowball goal.

And when you’re feeling pretty damn good about that first step, you might decide to tackle another small step.

Three days of running each week.  Daily salads and no more sodas.  Tinder’s gone, and now you actually start giving your number to the nice guys once in awhile.  Going on an interview or two.  Setting some spending goals for one month.

And before you know it, you’ll be building habits that support your long term goals.  You’ll see results from the work you’ve put in, and you’ll feel damn good, and you’ll have momentum working in your favor.

In other words, you’re on a roll.

Sometimes all the doing just needs a little direction to go along with it.  

And sooner or later, that little snowball rolled right on into an avalanche.

An avalanche of ass-kicking. 

I guess the only question left is…

do you wanna build a snowman

Front Porch Friday 3: Hustlin’ Like a Frat Boy

Pour yourself a drink – sweet tea, anybody? – and let’s talk about this week…

I’ll be sipping on a little off-menu barista special I call “The Creamsicle.”

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Half green tea, half valencia orange juice, lots of extra ice (I ask for a cup size bigger), and 1-2 scoops vanilla bean powder.  A splash of coconut milk – thanks Uncle Howie! – on top is highly encouraged.  Peeeer pressuuuure.

Spoiler alert: it tastes like an orange creamsicle popsicle.  Cue all the childhood nostalgia.  One sip and I’m ready to run through the backyard sprinklers in my birthday suit.  So just try it already, would ya?

Let’s get down to business.  Oh wait, that’s what I’ve been doing all…week…long.  I don’t know about yall, but this week flew by.  Even though plenty of big life-changing career-altering decisions are still up in the air, everything is broken down into primary objectives and action steps.  So many lists, so many tasks, so many checkmarks.  It is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I really would tell you this if we were sitting on my porch swing drinking sweet tea.  My lack of social awareness knows no bounds in cyberspace or real life.  Just ask my friends.)

The point is, I’ve been getting a lot done.

I sold my car, which was exciting.

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He was my first, and he’d been a significant part of my life since I was 19, but our relationship was tumultuous and I’d known for a long time that we needed to cut ties.  So finally me and Mr. Craigslist made it happen.  Of course, now I have to shell out for a new car…Hopefully a sexy 90’s pickup.  (What can I say? I like ’em older and a little rough around the edges. Cars, I mean.  Not men.  Well ok fine. Both.)

In the meantime, I’ve been borrowing my parents’ old minivan.  Let me tell you, it’s really hard to pick up hotties when you’re driving the swagger wagon.

Warm weather seems to make me do pinterest-y things (remember last year’s redneck crop top?).  And by “pinterest-y” I mean I scrolled through pinterest for 30 seconds, grabbed a pair of scissors and a plain tee-shirt, turned on Gossip Girl reruns and started slicing away while waiting for a business call.  To my surprise, it turned out to be semi-wearable.

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Pinterest: success. Posing: fail.

Of course, there are still some kinks to work out.  Like how I wore my newly sliced-n-diced shirt when I stopped by work that afternoon, and my coworker greeted me with, “Oh, hey! I’m not wearing a bra, either!” 

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Starbucks in hand because I have THAT much of a problem. #basic

But at least now I know to stay away from air conditioned rooms when I wear it.  #knowledgeispower

Speaking of putting it all out there, this week I’ve been hustling like never before.  There are a few personal projects I’m working on, but most of this is in the professional realm.  I’m shy by nature, but when it comes to jobs/school, I’m more ballsy than a frat boy on his 6th vodka red bull.  My usual M.O. is to keep calling/emailing/dropping by unannounced until I get an offer or get told to go away.  Charming? Maybe not.  Effective? Yes.

(Unlike the frat boy.)

19march 2015 (1)You may not be the best, but you can choose to be the most persistent.  And while it won’t always get you the “yes,” it’s opened more doors for me than any other approach.

Of course, that life advice is coming from someone who has a college degree and still gets the urge to run naked through the sprinklers.

So, you know, there’s that.

PS…thanks to Marilyn for featuring my post on “50 Shades of Fitness” for her blog post on the pornification of fitness. She’s got some great input, so check it out!

“Wham, Bam, Thank Y’ Ma’am” (A 10 Minute Core Circuit)

By now we all know – or I hope most of us do, at least – that abs are not a marker of great health/hotness/value-as-a-human-in-general.  They’re nice to look at, nice to touch, and nice to use as a tool for lapping up chocolate sauce  doing tequila shots  getting likes on instagram  improving your ability to move your upper and lower extremities with coordination.

(And really, ab workouts and/or core training are not going to spot reduce anything, because life doesn’t work that way.  It’s low bodyfat that results in muscle definition, not hours spent doing sit ups.)

That being said, having a strong core is an important part of overall fitness.  But doing hundreds of crunches is boring, not to mention ineffective if the goal is to work your whole midsection.

Solution: Quick circuit-style core training that keeps your brain engaged and your muscles singing – or, you know, weeping – the whole time.  I like doing this little ditty to warm up before a full-body workout, or tacking it on after a run or conditioning session.   And unlike most core workouts, this one has actually made me sore the next day.

Wham, bam, thank y’ ma’am.

Wham Bam Thank Ya Maam Core Circuit

If you need clarification on any of these movements, here are links to video demonstrations:

You might be surprised how difficult 10 minutes of core work can be.  I mean that in a good way obviously.  A painful kind of good way.  Yall trackin’?

Or, you know, you might breeze through this, in which case you’re a studmuffin who is making me look bad, and we should probably reevaluate our relationship.

Just kidding. I won’t judge yall for being stronger than me.

Resent you, though? Ehhh, probably.  “Jussst a little bit.”

If you like this workout, be a doll and share it, would you?
Tweet it, pin it, email it to you great aunt Gertrude, print it out and hang it on your fridge in a not-at-all-like-a-creepy-stalker kind of way…whatever cranks your tractor.

Front Porch Friday 2: Food, Friends, and Folk Music

The past couple years around this time, I’ve gone through phases where I decide that I simply have to give up coffee, cold turkey…Usually for health reasons and/or general masochism.

How I feel about Tinder.  Also how I feel about the wifi at Peet's. It blows more than a sperm whale.  (That was a terrible way to phrase it.  But I'm committed. No going back. And now I'm cutting myself off. Ugh. #rainman)

Needless to say, these phases usually last about three days.  (What can I say, I like my coffee the way I like my men – strong, straight, and the kind that give me goosebumps.)  This year, I’m older, wiser, and more codependent committed to my caffeine habit than ever.  Me and Mr. Coffee are in it for the long haul.

Anyway, if we were sitting on my front porch, I’d probably be going on and on about the new tap house I visited last night.  The Hop House was a new-to-me place that one of my best friends from college told me we had to try, so we celebrated Thirsty Thursday the right way:

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I got the Black Flag – an American stout – which was delightfully dark, strong, and just a weeee bit cocoa-y.

Beers, fried things, and lots of laughs.  It’s the way to go.

Can we talk about the crispy brussels sprouts we split?  I kid you not, one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten so far this year.  Pretty sure the tables around us thought I was speaking in tongues, because I get pretty…vocal…when my food is good.

And yall? This food was good.  Unlike my return to hot yoga earlier this week, this food was not weird-in-a-good-way.  It was good-in-a-really-greasy-good-way, just as bar food should be.

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I might tell you I’ve been feeling very grateful for my friends and siblings this week. More so than usual, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to have people who will listen to you talk like a crazy person, give (good) advice, challenge you, and make you laugh…often at yourself…

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…or at them, if they’re so inclined. Because I’m convinced laughter is tied with exercise for being the best medicine.

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If you were still sitting on my front porch after I’d yammered on about how much I love cruciferous vegetables and my friends and yoga (in that order, too, if we’re being honest), you’d be a saint.  Then you’d probably hear me singing this song, which I’ve had stuck in my head all week.

 

This song, yall.

So the original is from Peter, Paul, and Mary, and it’s just not my jam.  Not at all.  But This version of “Five Hundred Miles” from J.T., Carey Mulligan, and Stark Sands (from Inside Llewyn Davis) is pretty close to what some might call “perfection.”

Something about those voices and sad strings playing together…it makes me homesick – and for what, I’m not sure – but in the sweetest way.  It’s longing and hope and goodbye and what if, all in one beautiful bittersweet bundle of chords and harmonies.  That probably makes no sense anywhere but this creative corner of my soul, so to put it more simply…it makes a person feel things.

After a day of listening to the above song on loop and singing it under my breath whenever I wasn’t talking to someone, I decided to record a few lines of it.  You know, just to see if this music-school-dropout’s still got “it.” (“It” is a very relative concept here.) About two lines in, I apparently breathed a little too enthusiastically and started aspirating on my own spit.

While recording myself.

I’d say cut me off a piece of humble pie, but after that episode, I figure I’d probably choke on it.

And no, I don’t still have “it.”  Maybe I never did, but that’s beside the point.

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And with that, I’m signing off.  It’s Friday, and it’s five o-clock somewhere…yall know what to do.

Hot Yoga: A Play-by-Play

This morning I took my first hot yoga class in…

[momentary pause while I try to calculate how long it’s actually been.  Ok, make that a long pause, because I got my B.A. in English, and it’s not like I’m actually good at math.]

…holy mackeral.  Two years.  It’s been about 24 months since I took a hot yoga class.  Back then, I was still in college.  Back then, I was still straightening my hair.  Back then, I was still a naive little child-woman who thought she’d get a full time job straight out of school, that paying bills would be a piece of cake, and that dating after college would be a grand adventure.

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Chipmunks ain’t got nothin’ on those cheeks.

(So far, I’m 1 for 3 on that.  And since I have to work part time at Starbucks and break out in a cold sweat when people mention “student loans,” I’ll let you figure out which one I got right.)

Two years…Yeah, that could explain a lot.

Anyway, back to yoga.  After two years, it was an interesting reintroduction to studio practice.  Challenging in some ways, and almost natural in others.  Weird, but mostly a good weird (like a lot of things have been lately).

In case you’re thinking about trying yoga, or if you’ve been there/done that/want to commiserate…here’s a play-by-play.

04:30 – Wake up.  Check phone, see time…still have 30 minutes until I need to get up, but I’m feeling almost wide awake.  Checking my new messages doesn’t help me get back to sleep, just FYI.

05:00 – Oh hey, I actually did fall back asleep.  Get up, change into yoga-y clothes, pat myself on the back for remembering to shave my legs and give myself a pedicure the day before.

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#hobbitfeet

05:15 – Brush teeth, braid hair, try to avoid eye contact with myself in the mirror.  A naked face this early in the morning is something else…praying they dim the lights in yoga class.

05:35 – Arrive with 10 minutes to spare.  I sign a waiver, present my free pass, and am instructed to turn my phone all the way off and leave my sandals in the lobby.  Hear deep breathing coming from behind the door to the main studio.  Someone needs to get homeboy an oxygen tank before he starts asphyxiating.

what's updog funny meme

05:45 – Set up my mat towards the back, as close as possible to the window.  Observe the interesting variety of granola-types, suburban moms, and random middle aged men…and the Buddha statues and elephant paintings (or maybe that’s a Hindu deity? I couldn’t tell you one way or another), which are in a little cluster up front.  This naturally inspires an internal debate over whether I’ll be able to pull off the crop top + harem pants combo this summer.  (My love handles vote “NO.”)

05:47 – The teacher starts class by saying he knows there is one new person in the class, and asks who that is.  I raise my hand sheepishly, like I’m a Portland native admitting to driving a Dodge Ram.  Thankfully, the teacher comes over to welcome me and is super hospitable.  This is what they call “good vibes,” right?

05:50 – Class starts. It’s warm in the studio but not hot, I’m feeling somewhat confident, and my deodorant seems to be working.  Yasss.

hot yoga smells funny

06:00 – Things start picking up…and heating up.  I’m feeling toasty, but enjoying the class.  Practicing yoga at home has definitely been a game changer.

06:15 – OMG. Between the vinyasa-ing and endless Warrior II/Cresent Lunge flows, I warmed up.  And so did all 40 other folks in class. By now it’s hot and it’s humid as all get out.  I may as well be doing downward-dog in the bayous of Louisiana.

so hot omg wtf

06:17 – Nearly kick the girl next to me during transitions.  I probably should have hired a lawyer before trying something that requires so much coordination and athleticism, both of which I clearly lack.

06:20 – Panicking.  It’s so dang humid.  My lungs feel claustrophobic.  Wonder if this is a symptom of asthma?  Maybe that doctor I saw in high school was right when he said I had exercise-induced asthma.  If I shimmy across the room and slide out right now, will anyone notice??

06:22 – Look around and realize everyone else is sweating like a mofo, too, and feel a lot better about myself.  Try not to think about how I’m breathing in the sweat of everyone else in the room.  And why didn’t I bring a water bottle???

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06:25 – The teacher guy tells us to hit it in child’s pose for a minute.  Hell yeah, buddy.  I can rock child’s pose like nobody’s business.  Also, a good chance to practice breathing without wheezing.

06:30 – Back on our feet doing some Utkatasana (chair pose) and thanks to my massive legs, I can do this portion without wanting to die.  Which, judging by the sound of my classmates’ heavy breathing, is exactly what they want to do right now.

06:32 – Seriously, what’s with the breathing? I know that yoga’s about “finding your breath” (um hi, it’s in my lungs, where I like it) and weird stuff like that…but do yall have to be so loud about it? It’s like taking a class with Sandra Bullock’s character from Gravity. 

06:37 – Ok, now even my shins are sweating.  It’s like once I decided I was going to embrace the heat (rather than army-crawl out the back door, which is a very legitimate option I’d been considering 25 minutes ago), my body decided to cope by trying to make me look like Britney in her “Slave 4 U” video.  Except unlike Britney Spears circa 2001, this is not at all sexy and I have way less backup dancers.

not sexy hot yoga

06:38 – Realize I do have something on old-school-Britney…I can sing badly without autotune.  Suck it, Brit-brit.

06:40 – Realize that mentally competing with Britney Spears is not only pathetic, but probably the opposite of what you’re supposed to do in yoga class.  Oops.   Om?

06:42 – The lights are now completely off, and we’re all supposed to be in frog pose.  Naturally, I have to have the teacher come show me how this amphibian-inspired contortion works.  He’s all up in my personal bubble, and I’m basically sitting on my neighbor’s mat (because nearly giving her a roundhouse to the spleen wasn’t enough) so he won’t end up in my lap.

06:43 – Frog pose is…weird.  And in this case, not good weird.  Like “50 Shades” weird, which is about all I can say about this because my relatives read this blog. But suffice to say, it’s probably worse for my poor neighbor, who’s got a lovely view of my bum. (Definitely rethinking the little shorts I wore to class. Thank God the lights are off.)

hot yoga sight regret

06:48 – We’re thankfully finished with froggy time, and now we’re savasana-ing ourselves silly.  The assisting teacher comes over with some lavender-scented lotion/goo and starts massaging my temples.  I’d forgotten about this end-of-class ritual, but I’m all about it. Normally I’m not big on strangers touching me, but you get a free pass to get up in my bubble space anytime you bring smelly-good-stuff.   Namaste indeed….Namastay-right-here-and-enjoy-the-free-massage.

06:50 – At last, this shindig is done.  We sit up and do one final “ommm” (well, they do. The mouth-breathing is weird enough for me.).  Wonder if they would have let me take the class if they knew I’m a practicing conservative.  Oh well, doesn’t matter – time to blow this popsicle stand.

06:52 – To my surprise, neighbor girl starts chatting with me as we’re rolling up our mats. Glad she’s not holding frog pose against me.  And look at me, making new friends before 07:00! For us introverts, that’s an achievement.

07:00 – Arrive at Starbucks to return someone else’s apron that I accidentally took home…and to grab a quad espresso on ice. (Thanks James and Lex!)  Because you have to hydrate after yoga class, you know?

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07:10 – Get home, dump some protein powder and almond milk into my espresso, and drink my protein shake like the yoga-doing lady-bro that I apparently am.  Sure, it’s got enough caffeine to put down a small horse, but I can handle it.  After all, I just survived hot yoga.

come at me bro yoga

And there you have it.  More details than you ever wanted to know about what goes down in hot yoga.  I probably won’t get a membership at the studio (I just checked and the pricing doesn’t really jive with the whole student-loans-and-being-poor-and-possibly-having-more-student-loans-after-grad-school thing), but I could see myself dropping in once in awhile when I need a good stretch/mental challenge.

At the very least, I’ll keep wearing yoga pants.  Those suckers get me.

Your turn to share!
Best, worst, or most memorable hot yoga experience?  
Anyone else get nostalgic when you think about pre-2007 Britney?