mind·ful·ness

Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment,[1] which can be trained by meditational practices that are described in detail in the Buddhist tradition.

-Wikipedia

This week, I’m focusing on slowing down and practicing mindfulness. I’m trying to focus on the moment, and make decisions that will yield better long term results. After struggling so long with my body image, health, and morals- I’ve decided to try this approach to help me focus on my goals. Some specific things I’ll be implementing:

  • Meditation – I would love to be able to afford (time and money) to take a Transcendental Meditation class, but for now I am just practicing Mindful Meditation. I even downloaded a free app (called 10% Happier) to help me stay on track with this.
  • Running – As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m getting back into running. I’m just starting to get back into a schedule, but I really have to stick with it so I can run the Seattle Half Marathon in November (it will be my 4th year in a row!).
  • Eating Better – Raw til 4. If you haven’t heard of this lovely movement, I highly recommend you check it out. The general idea is to eat only raw fruits and veggies during the day, and to eat a cooked meal for dinner. Of course, it’s still all vegan- but it helps cut out the junk food.
  • One thing a day – This is not a new concept by any means, but I am trying to accomplish one adult task every day (and now that I’ve typed that out, I really feel like child that needs help managing my life). Some examples of these tasks include applying to get back into college, calling and making that dentist appointment I’ve been putting off, and cleaning my car. It’s just about as thrilling as it sounds, but it helps keep me on track and cuts out unnecessary stress.

I’m sure I’ll fail a million more times, but for now I am just focusing on trying to be better each day. And with that I’ll wrap up this post with a song that I’ve been digging lately. I really love music, so I think I’ll start including a song with every post. The one for this week is a wonderfully sad cover of ‘Time to Move on’ (originally by Tom Petty) by Hi Ho Silver Oh.


Thanks for reading.

-M

mind·ful·ness

Where did the last 7 months go?

Hello. Yes, I’m alive. And still a total asshole (in case you had any doubts).

The last 7 months have been full of weird and new things. In May, I got a job back in Pullman at Washington State University (my alma mater). After searching for several months, I finally landed this job after a 5 hour interview that included a 30 minute presentation. I totally wound myself for the whole thing, but I still managed to woo them enough to get the position.

After getting the offer, I put in my notice at Kennewick School District and moved back to the Palouse. I was sad to leave the school district behind, but happy to make the giant leap back to WSU.

My whole reason for moving back to Pullman was to go back to school and get a B.S. in Zoology. The other huge advantage in this situation is that I get a tuition discount as a WSU employee. I’ll probably start classes next spring or summer.

The down side to this was moving and leaving behind my fiance and dog. They are still in Pasco, and John is continuing to look for job opportunities in Pullman. We see each other a day or two most weeks, but it’s been difficult with his wacky schedule (he has Thursday/Friday off). I’m hoping he can find something soon so that we can go back to living together again and annoying the shit out of each other every day.

Now enough about my personal life- back to business:

  • Veganism. This is still a work in progress for me. Not happy about it, but still pushing myself to get better.
  • Running. I’m actually just starting my new training plan for the Seattle Half in November TODAY! I miss running a lot, and I’m excited to get back into the swing of things.

That’s all for now. I promise to start updating at least once a week again.

Thanks for reading.

-M

Where did the last 7 months go?

Death, death and more death

This last month has been a doozy. Two weekends ago, I went to my great-grandmother’s funeral, and last weekend I attended my uncle’s funeral. Also last weekend, one of my childhood dogs had to be put to sleep.

I wasn’t particularly close with either my great-grandma or my uncle, but it was still pretty emotionally taxing. My great-grandma’s funeral was Catholic and very weird. She was a sweet lady with a heart of gold, but she also was heavily involved with the Catholic church her whole life (hence the Catholic funeral). Personally, I’m not religious at all- but I totally respect her wishes to have her funeral that way. But with the open casket, and the holy water, and the chanting and singing… it all seemed a bit silly to me. Her passing was sad, but she lived a long life, and she was ready to move on from this life.

My uncle’s funeral, on the other hand, was much more of an emotional situation for me. The funeral came more than a month after his death, as my grandma tried to allow time for some relatives to make it from out of town. His death was a slow and painful one from cancer, and it took a toll on a lot of people in my family. I’ll remember my uncle as a ‘no bullshit’ guy that loved to tell dirty jokes. He was funny, and he made people laugh- including me. That being said, we were never extremely close, but he did know that I loved him when he passed.

For his funeral, I had prepared a slideshow of pictures, which everyone seemed to enjoy. It was nice to be able to help my grandma out with this, since she organized the whole funeral. The slideshow and speeches made me sad and tear up, but the real downer was fighting with my mom all weekend (and yes, this is the same weekend my dog was put down).

We hardly ever fight, but this was a mean one that left me with a hell of a headache from crying all day Saturday. I won’t go into details, but things are better now. It’s a bit of a superficial make up though because I know if we talked about it again we would just end up fighting some more.

Anyways, all of this makes for an exhausting first month of 2015. I’m a pretty depressed and cynical person as it is, so when death overwhelms my life it doesn’t do a whole lot of good. I start thinking about everyone I love, and how they will die someday- and then I quickly shove the thought out of my mind. I try and soothe myself with the bullshit response of “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.

On top of all of this happening in my personal life, I recently binge listened to the podcast Serial. It’s a spin-off of NPR’s ‘This American Life’ podcast that revisits a 1998 murder case that still has a bunch of unanswered questions. If you haven’t listened to this yet, you should start it immediately. I started it Thursday afternoon, and by end of the day Friday I was finished (there are 12 episodes ranging from around 30 – 60 minutes). If you have already listened to it, let me know what you thought of it, and any of your theories. I’ve been lurking on the serial podcast subreddit like crazy trying to solve the case myself!

As you probably would have guessed, my vegan diet has had a few bumps during the last few weeks. I’ve cheated and made some ’emotional eating decisions’… not that I’m justifying my actions, just explaining them. But I’m trying not to make myself feel like too much shit about it. I’ve noticed that if I do the ‘hate myself for being such a fat fucking loser’ thing too much, then I just drag myself down even further. My convoluted reasoning soon turns into “Well if I’m such a fat fucking loser, then I think I’m permitted to eat more of this shitty food!”.

Instead, I’ve been encouraging myself to start fresh each day and get back to the routine I was in. I also need to remember the animals, since my biggest reason for going vegan is to stop contributing to animal death and suffering. I keep threatening to make myself watch ‘Earthlings‘ if I don’t shape up again. (In case you don’t know, Earthlings is a pretty graphic documentary about industrialized farming, and basically how humans in general are just assholes to animals.)

So that’s where I’m at with life right now. Navigating death in my personal life, enjoying a podcast about murder in my spare time, and threatening myself with graphic vegan documentaries on top of all that.

As morbid as it all sounds, it kind of makes me laugh sometimes. I’ve learned that having a dark sense of humor can actually carry you through the bad times, even though you feel like you’ll be going to hell eventually with all of the shitty jokes your mind is making up.

So with my shitty dark humor, veganism, running and cats- I SAY “ONWARD”. I am certain that February will be a much better month than January. After all, I still have 11 months left of 2015 to ‘get my shit together’.

Death, death and more death

One Week as a Vegan

It’s been exactly one week since I made the leap to veganism! I have to say that it’s been challenging at times, but with animal lives on the line, it’s easy to keep motivated. I’m probably going to come across as very arrogant and dramatic when I say this, but in all seriousness, it’s been a life changing experience.

First home cooked vegan meal - the alphabet soup from 'Isa does it'
First home cooked vegan meal – the alphabet soup from ‘Isa does it’

It’s made me reevaluate a lot of my lifestyle habits that I had never considered before. It’s just weird living in the moment while I’m recognizing, “Things are changing. They will probably never go back to being the same again.” In my life, these moments have managed to stick with me in a way that not much else has. My first love, adopting my first pet, starting to run…. These are a few of these special moments that come to mind. When I was younger, I had no idea that these moments were significant while I was living them. As I’ve grown older though, I’ve found that I’m getting better at recognizing them and really taking them in.

It’s been a very meta experience to say the least. I’ve also had moments where I’ve felt really small and useless, where I start to question what kind of difference I’m really making in the long run. BUT- then I remember, I do that with everything. I STILL do it with running, but at the end of the day I remember that I love it, and if it makes me a happier, better person, then why not?

I’ll admit that while I’ve switched to a vegan ‘diet’, I still need to be eating a lot healthier. Oreos are vegan, but they should probably not be considered an acceptable snack while I’m marathon training (if I say it enough times, maybe I will quit eating them). So my goal this week is to write out a general food schedule for me to follow. Also, I’m going to try the ‘no eating after 6 p.m.’ thing. I’ve heard really great things about it, and I think it’s an easy way to cut back on the unnecessary calories.

Along with my running schedule, I’ve also decided that I should be doing other basic exercises to keep my core strong and prevent injuries. I found this great little 30-day challenge that includes push-ups, squats, sit-ups, crunches, leg raises and planks. It covered all of the basic exercises I wanted to start doing, so I thought I would give it a shot! A big thank you to Run, Hemingway, Run for putting it together!

On a more exciting note, my live-in relationship courting mate (read as Fiance) also did the amazing thing of buying us a new 58″ TV along with the new Call of Duty, AND a new Xbox One. He is a sweet boy and I think I’ll be keeping him around.

So that’s been my week. Lots of changes, challenges, and life-affirming ‘COME TO JESUS’ moments so far. During this time, I keep telling myself that it’s a process, and not an overnight change.

One Week as a Vegan

New Year; New Me

Another new year is upon me, and for the life of me I’m really hoping this is the one where I begin to get my shit together.

My first snapchat of 2015, and of course it has a cat in it.
My first snapchat of 2015, and of course it has a cat in it.

Today is the day that I officially start my new vegan diet, and with it comes a lot of lasts and a lot of firsts. Last night I went out with a bang and had Velveeta macaroni and cheese for dinner with Oreos and milk for desert.

I imagine that the next few days will be especially challenging as I enjoy my last few hours with processed sugar still in my system. It might as well be heroine because the sugar withdrawals are enough to make me rob my own mother. For now though, I’ll keep my will power strong and try to imagine how fantastic my body will look after a few months of eating like a healthy adult.

My running is also picking back up. I had planned to run a few miles last week, but I only did one mile on the elliptical. This week, I really need to get my feet back on the road though. I picked a more challenging marathon training program and I need to get my mileage back up before that officially starts (find my program here). It includes some pace work, and I have two 20 mile runs rather than just one (like my beginner program). I’m sure I’ll hate myself in a couple of months for the longer midweek runs- but I know that it will do a better job of preparing me to meet my goals.

A great side effect from starting to run again are the endorphins. I really need that happy juice in my life, and I can really tell when I take a month off of running. I honestly don’t know how I survived with my depression before I started running. Not only are the endorphins great, but it really boosts my confidence knowing that I can run long distances. It’s a weird thing to be proud of, but I take what I can get.

Another small goal on the back burner this year is changing my career. A totally small and insignificant goal that is completely doable. But seriously, this last year has been kind of a downer- and I think I’ve figured out why: I really don’t like my career at all. I love the idea of it, and when I picked it in college- it seemed reasonable. I love communications and graphic design, but the fiery passion for the job has kind of morphed into a wet noodle. This realization has forced me to reevaluate my 5-year plan completely. I want to go back to school and get my degree in Zoology or Wildlife Biology and work with animals. Preferably in a shelter or sanctuary. To get back school, I need to find another job first and then relocate. I’m hoping to get a job at the college I go back to so that I get discounted credits, but if push comes to shove, I may just have to shell out the extra moolah so that I can get my degree sometime in the next century.

So those are my plans for 2015. I’m hoping that it’s a big year for me and that by this time next year, I’m saying, “Wow. I sure did get my shit together in 2015.”

What are some of your goals for the new year?

New Year; New Me

Life is hard & other epiphanies

I don’t know what it is about the holiday season, but every year around this time, my depression starts to rear it’s ugly head.

If I had to guess why that is, I would probably say that it’s me being disappointed with another year of accomplishing nothing meaningful.

That’s not to say that I don’t have anything to be grateful for. I have a good job, supportive family and friends, a small zoo of loving animals, and my health. Honestly, my depression makes me feel more like an asshole because it makes me look like I’m being selfish and ungrateful. And while I can’t really prove that I’m not selfish and ungrateful through this blog post, at the very least I can say that I am self-aware. 

At the risk of sounding even more selfish, I would say that my depression is more about me than anyone else in my life- or rather- my disappointment in myself.

As a fun little ‘get to know Megan by a her list of insecurities and disappointments’ game, I’ve created a list of my insecurities and disappointments:

  • I avoid mirrors as much as possible, and when I do catch a glimpse of my lumpy potato body, I get sad and say mean things to myself. My mental conversation with myself usually goes something like this:

    Me: Oh wow, we really need to do something about that.
    Self: Yes, but that involves self restraint- and not eating like a child left alone in a candy store.
    Me: Self restraint? I’m an adult- and I am totally capable of eating and behaving like one.
    Self: Great. Let’s start tomorrow.
    Me: Ooooh….. yeah. Tomorrow’s not looking great. I was planning on getting pizza.
    Self: I rest my case.

  • I run slower than some people walk half/full marathons. Is it really even considered running if I am going that slow?
  • I am a people-pleaser and I have to have everyone like me. It’s a ridiculous goal, and pretty much unattainable in every way imaginable. However, even though I know this, I still think that if I can’t get every person I meet to like me- that I am a giant, totally uncool, and unattractive loser. To illustrate this, I’ve drawn a self portrait of me begging people to like me:
    potato-girl
  • I bite my nails and it’s gross and weird.
  • My hair is at this awkward state of ‘kind of long, but not really long enough to be considered ‘long”. Plus I hardly ever style it, because what’s the point of styling my hair when it sits on top of a potato body?
  • I try desperately hard to be funny, and usually I’m only funny when I’m unintentionally being an idiot. Humor is my main coping mechanism, and I’m not even good at it.
  • I get really emotional over dumb and/or insignificant things. Like the other day, I started crying when I was holding my cat because I started to think about how short their lives really are. Who even does that? Only me.
  • I’m kind of a mean person. Not always, but when I get into a mood I tend to lash out at the people who are closest to me. This is includes significant others, and close friends. As I’ve become more aware of my shit-headedness, I try and apologize for it as much as I can. And yes, I’m aware that it makes no sense to be a shithead and a people-pleaser. What can I say? I’m an enigma.

I could probably continue, but since I want people to continue to read my blog- I’ll stop there. Maybe by listing out all of these flaws, I’m more likely to work on them. I promise I’m not trying to have a pity party, just more or a less a vent session.

I’m hoping that with the upcoming year, I will continue to work on myself and my happiness. I’ll always be imperfect, and I’ll always have things about myself that I’m unhappy with. I’m just hoping to change the things that are within my control, and to try and be a better person along the way.

And on that happier note, happy holidays everyone. I know that I’m not the only one that struggles with this time of year, so please do not feel that you are alone. I like to think that we are all alone together, sharing the continuing set of struggles that is life.

Life is hard & other epiphanies

I bleed, I sweat, and I definitely swear

So I thought it would be good for me to start writing again. Like running, I find writing therapeutic- and god knows I need all the therapy I can get.

At this point in the blog, no one is reading. So I’m just going to ramble until I feel better, but hopefully as I write more, my posts will gain more of an expected format for me to follow.

Anyway, I’ll talk about running first. I am not a runner. When I say I’m not a runner, I mean I’m not really a natural runner. I was an athlete in high school, but I really hated running. So much so, in fact, that I quit soccer and took up volleyball instead. My relationship with running now is a healthy balance of “WOW ENDORPHINS” and “I’d rather be stabbed in the face than run another mile in below freezing weather”. It’s a bit of a roller coaster, but for the last two years, I haven’t been able to hate running enough to quit it. On my good days, I’m able to admit I’m fond of it- but on my bad days (where my legs feel like tree trunks), it takes some serious mental pep-talking to get my ass out of the house.

So far, I’ve run four half-marathons and one full marathon. I’ve found the HM’s to be pretty pleasant to train for, and complete. They’re not too time consuming, but they keep me running enough to keep my body fat at the manageable level of “slightly noticeable muffin top”- which is always better than the alternative (LORD HAVE MERCY WHY IS THAT HUMAN SIZED MUFFIN WALKING AROUND?!?!).

My full marathon on the other hand, was a bitch and a half. It pushed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was incredibly time consuming to keep up with the training, and it tested me in ways I never even imagined. My boobs got smaller, my legs got thicker, and I chafed in places that I didn’t even know existed (shout out to body glide for solving that problem).

After finishing my full marathon, I was tired, sore, and a little bit of a basket case in general. But I also knew that I would do another one. So for now, my limit is one marathon per year, with a couple HM’s thrown in for fun.

For my next half marathon, and full marathon- I’d really love to work on my time. Right now, I’m embarrassingly slow (10-11 minute miles). I’m a really competitive person, so it’s hard for me to see myself being so terrible at something. At the same time though, I try and remind myself that even if I’m slow, I’m still finishing.

Through the holiday season, I’m taking a couple weeks off running (I just completed a HM on Sunday), and focusing on changing my diet (great timing, right?). In January, I’ll pick it back up and get back to a schedule.

This was during the last mile of my marathon. I look just about as miserable as I felt.
This was during the last mile of my marathon. I look just about as miserable as I felt.

Even though I pretty much NEVER follow through with them, I’ve already started a new year’s resolution list.

  • Complete a half-marathon in less than 2 hours
  • Complete a full marathon in less than 5 hours
  • Go vegan!

That’s it so far, but I feel like they are doable. I’m even toying with the idea of going vegan before the end of the year, but I also don’t want to set myself up for failure (baked goods will be the death of me).

But anyway, that’s all the rambling I have for now. If you’re wondering about the direction of this blog, don’t worry so am I. If I had to guess, it will probably be a lot of posts about running, cats, and me trying to not be such a terrible person.

I bleed, I sweat, and I definitely swear