Tuesday, February 26, 2013

the one where i pretend to have a real blog...

This is the view out my front door as of 20 minutes ago.
Snow, snow and more snow.
Hey there fellow snowbunnies...also know as everyone in Southeastern Wisconsin. Tonight the lessons with my voice students were cancelled (boo...sad face) but it gave me some much needed downtime at home. Now the responsible Andrea would have done her dishes, cleaned her bedroom and put all her laundry away. I'm not quite sure where she was tonight...

After I managed to make my way home through everyone who apparently had never driven in snow before (apparently I didn't get the memo that it was "pretend you're from Arizona" day today), stop at the grocery store because of COURSE I didn't have any food in the house, and park somewhat remotely close to my parking spot in the back of my building...I locked the door, threw on some sweats, hit up HBO GO for a movie and crawled onto the couch with the old computer and iPhone. For those of you who don't know, I have a little computer nerd in me. I don't know much...just enough to be dangerous. And it was blog night.

Obviously I didn't spend the entire night working on a blog post...but I did spend it watching a movie and totally revamping the look of my blog. I'm certainly not done, but I like where it's headed. I made the picture in the header...that took a little bit of time. (Thank you Pixelmator.) I also redid the layout...the size of the columns...took out some putzy editing things...and changed some font colors around. It was looking a little too much like Halloween for my taste. Not so much into the oranges...so we changed to greens and grays. I'm still not satisfied with the middle background color and the post header background colors. But I have to leave something for another day. Plus I want to learn how to make my own header backgrounds for posts. #nerdalert

Hope y'all stayed nice and toasty warm tonight...early morning workout tomorrow (and no I don't mean digging my car out of the depths of snow which gma car is currently hiding underneath, though that will definitely happen before I can hit the tanning bed...er...gym.) Props to the kind sir who made sure the outside of gma car was squeaky clean before the snow came! =) Why exactly my car is "gma car" will have to wait until next time.

Until then...be happy. =)

Monday, February 25, 2013

the one where i try to be brave...

One of the great things about writing a blog is that whatever you’re thinking or feeling on any given day becomes fodder for your listening audience, whoever that may be. It’s almost like a form of therapy and the world is your therapist. Gone is the need to carry your thoughts, you can pawn them off on unsuspecting strangers! =)

In the past I’ve written about fun things, insignificant things, tough things, important things, etc. I always try to be honest (as honest as you can be online without giving away significant personal information and attracting all kinds of creeps and strangers and yet still connect with your reader of whom you usually know nothing about). I feel like when people speak honestly, that is the time where you really are able to have a connection, even if it is over the digital airwaves. Why are the “embarrassing story” columns among the first read in magazines? Because on some level we’re always looking to connect with others. It’s real. It’s what actually happens. And for a brief moment, suddenly we’re not alone in the big, bad world. It’s human nature. Why is solitary confinement such a torture? Have you ever seen Castaway? We crave interaction with others.

(Tangent: Isn’t it interesting to see how technology has affected how we interact with others and how we assign emotion to certain actions without witnessing the intent behind it? i.e. If someone doesn’t respond to a text message right away…they are mad, or angry, or upset. People who flippantly post rude and inappropriate comments online because there’s no ramification that follows.  My grandma asked me to get a book for her…I wanted to let her know I found it and my first reaction was to shoot her an email and let her know…not pick up the phone and talk to her. {Side note: Neither of my grandmas have email.} One of the things that I always tell my younger sister is 1) Never say anything online or in a text that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and 2) If you have something really important to talk about with someone, make the time to sit down with them…or at least pick up the phone so you can hear their voice…but I digress.)

But I don’t want to talk about human interaction today…be it in person or digitally. What I want to share with all of you is something that I struggle with…something that is hard for me to talk about because I’m self-conscious about it…and is something that I’m continuing to work on. My weight.

Crazy how I didn’t even want to type those words just now. But for anyone who’s struggling and working on something in their life…you’re not alone. So allow me to share the past, where I am now, and my plan moving forward.

Weight was something that I personally struggled with all the way back to grade school. I remember when I was in 8th grade, five foot nothin’, and I bought a size 6 pair of pants for our class trip to Washington DC. And I felt fat. Looking back I wish I could give my 14 year old self a hug and tell me how beautiful I actually was. But when you feel like you’re fat it really doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. And so I took that mentality with me to high school. I had always been a tomboy…playing sports was inside of me. But when I got cut from volleyball my freshman year I was devastated. It was my favorite thing…I LOVED volleyball. And I had to basically reinvent myself. So I got involved in music and became involved in lots of different activities…choir, band, newspaper, photography, art, etc. And I took a long hiatus from athletics. Couple that with all the awkward changes that come from turning from a girl to a woman…and let’s just say I was never happy with how I looked in high school.

An aerial shot of my little school.
College came and I started to make some changes. I started running (really…what else was there to do in New Ulm, MN?) and it became my respite from the tiny college campus community that I was isolated to. (350 miles away from home and no car…if I didn’t run I didn’t ever go anywhere.) In the winters I would hit the elliptical in the Fitness Center (so thankful for those soccer boys with the hot legs that worked out  there…which consequently offered incentive for me to brave the -40 degree windchills that stood between my dorm room and the Fitness Center). Slowly but surely I started to drop the lbs and feel better about myself and more confident. My senior year of college I decided to try out for soccer. Not only did I make the team, I made the TRAVELING team. After an 8 year hiatus from the sport, I was pumped. When I was playing soccer was probably the best shape of my LIFE (even though I still felt like I should lose another 10 pounds). 

And then…the great lawn mower injury of 2006 happened. I sprained my ankle getting off of a lawn mower (pausing for a moment of judgment from my listening audience…I’m a klutz, what can I say?) and thus began a year-long process of rehab, surgery, and more rehab. One year later I got the ok to start running again. The next week I injured my knee. I don’t even remember what or how I did it…at some point people as accident prone as I am just remember that you sucked at life and hurt yourself yet again. Then I was in a situation so stressful that my body refused to lose the weight I’d gained, despite my allegiance to the gym and good dieting.

Two years ago, after basically re-building my life, some of my co-workers and I realized that we were fat. =) Crazy to put it that bluntly, right? We had all the excuses in the world…we sit at our jobs…we’re too busy gigging out…eating healthy is too expensive…fast food is just that, fast…and then? We decided to stop making excuses. We were all competitive people…so what better way to support each other than with a weight loss challenge. I finished first for the woman and third overall. And then I trailed off for a while. Then last year there was a group of us who trained for a triathlon and other various races. Fighting through more injuries (hip flexor and crappy knees this time) I finished my first sprint triathlon, my first 10k, my first 15k, and a handful of 5ks. And then last winter hit…and I got lazy once again. 

In January I made my theme for this year (no resolutions for this girl) “Be Happy.” I thought about what I needed to change in order to be more happy. And one of them is work on how I feel about myself. So I started to set some goals…

Pull Chain Pale Ale...
in case you were wondering. =)
     1)      Train and complete five races.
- Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon (June)
- Triing for Children Olympic Triathlon (July)
- Brewers Mini Marathon (September)
- Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure (September)
- Lakefront Discovery Run (October…this one ends with beer at the Milwaukee Alehouse!)
     2)      Stop looking at the scale. The number on the scale doesn’t define who you are. It is just a number. Focus more on how you feel about yourself and whether or not you are making healthy choices for your diet, exercise, and life. (Anyone who knows me KNOWS that this is driving me nuts…I love to try and control things. Instead I measure inches…I think that’s a better reflection of losing fat and strengthening muscle. I haven’t looked at a scale since January 1…)

3)      Stop making excuses. A wise man once told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. It’s about prioritizing. Save the $5 you would have spent on McDonald’s and put that into your groceries fund. Spring for a couple green peppers instead…or fresh fruit…or yogurt. Yes, I can sit on my couch and watch that episode of Girls…or I could grab my iPad and watch it on the stationary bike. Do I get the Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s or a scoop of raspberry sherbet from my freezer at home that I got on one of our many midnight grocery store runs. =) And if I’m not making time to work out because I’m tired…then it’s time to start getting more sleep and fueling my body with FUEL and not junk!
4)      Give yourself a break. You don’t need to work out all the time. Just create a routine and it will become a habit. You don’t have to eat 100% healthy ALL the time either. It’s better to let yourself get a small Shamrock shake every now and then. Then when you do decide to have a treat…it’s something special and you don’t overreact like you’re having water for the first time in the Sahara and order the largest size possible. Control.

So here I am…a work in progress. Training for a couple tris and my first half marathon. I’ve been working on a “base” for about a month to get back into it and avoid injury. I’m aware of what I’m putting into my body and why I’m doing it. (Last night the what was 2 Spotted Cows and the why was because they were delicious and I enjoy relaxing with my best friend over a couple cold ones...I am a Wisconsin girl after all.) This weekend I jumped into it a little more hardcore. I swam and biked this Saturday and ran outside (first time in 3 months) and played volleyball yesterday. I woke up this morning feeling sore and craving some serious stretching. But I already feel better about myself. It’s about stopping the excuses and taking the first step.

Thanks for reading today, this was a hard one to write. Consider this my encouragement to all of you to challenge yourself to overcome the obstacles that you face in your life. 

I sort of feel like I’m winding up an episode of Mr. Rogers right now. He always made you feel really good at the end of each episode. I'll let him wrap this one up for me, so until next time…

Saturday, February 23, 2013

the one with how it's supposed to be...

My life wasn't supposed to be this way.

We were supposed to work out.

I was supposed to get that job.

I wasn't supposed to get lost along the way.

I had a plan.

It shouldn't be this hard.

Why can't it be easy for me...like everyone else.

It's easy to think that way, isn't it? I look back over the last ten years of my life (gosh, that makes me sound old) and life certainly didn't go the way I thought it would go...the way it did. The way it went, despite my plans and my expectations. Ten years ago my "plans" were very different. I thought I was going to meet someone in college. I'd get a great high school choir director job. I'd get married and have kids...but not before I was single and fabulous with a thriving career. And when I say fabulous...I mean call me Carrie Bradshaw stuck in Minnesota. I remember having conversations with my friends our freshman year in Centennial (dorms...how did we ever survive living in a closet??) about how we wanted to have kids right away so we were "young moms." As if have kids in our 30's was something so unimaginable. We were going to be different. We were going to change the world. We knew more than the other 18/19 year olds before us, and we were more mature that those 18/19 years olds yet to come.

How little we knew.

Resigning my first teaching position after a year wasn't in the plan. Starting grad school wasn't in the plan. Working six jobs at once wasn't in the plan. Leaving my PC brain behind and becoming an Apple wasn't in the plan. Working for a music publisher wasn't in the plan. Not teaching wasn't in the plan. Moving back home at 24 wasn't in the plan. Sometimes when your "plan" is so flushed down the toilet that there is literally nothing remaining, you have to start a new plan. And sometimes you flush the idea of a "plan" down the toilet and just let life happen.

Apparently my "forever running" toilet at home got the memo.

For someone who LOVES to make lists and plan, letting go of control is really hard. Sometimes I think that when we we try to avoid the hurt that comes uncontrollably into our lives.

One control freak to another...no amount of control can stop a heartbreak. And I'm hear to tell you that sometimes...the control is what causes the hurt and heartache. Life isn't something that we plan out...it's something that happens. And sometimes the best things happen when we least expect them.

Stop trying to control the plan.

When it comes to life...
Choose your choices. Stand firm in the decisions you make. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes to run we have to fall and scrape our knees a couple times. We have to fall down. We have to bleed. We have to hurt. We have to feel.The scars define us. They make us grow as individuals. They encourage us to make different choices the next time. They make us into who we will be. Break out of the box. Jump outside of your comfort zone. Try a path you haven't walked down before. Run, jump, skip, hop, spring, crab walk....TRY.

...when it comes to relationships...

...when the pieces fall into the right places it will be the most confusing clarity you've ever had because it WON'T be anything like you've ever experienced and all the other loves of your life will fall by the wayside. Nothing else will compare to this experience. And it's going to be scary. Hell, it's going to be terrifying. But don't let the fear of the new and the unknown get in the way of what you know in your heart to be worth the risk. Be vulnerable. Let in that person your scared of losing. If they're meant to be there...you won't lose them. If you do lose them...they were never going to be yours to begin with. The possibility of losing them is a pittance in comparison to what you will gain. Stop. Stop making excuses. Take the first step of the rest of your life. Let go of the plan. Live. And as always...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

the one with the rant...

Dear readers...please forgive me for the rant I'm about to go on.

I was just reading through my Facebook newfeeds when saw this picture--->>
Let me say this first. I have the utmost respect for moms and the job that they do. I saw my mom as a working mom and also as a stay at home mom. I helped with my lil sister who is 10 years my younger. So I've done the late nights, the pooping catastrophes, the puking catastrophes, and a host of other things that moms deal with on a day to day basis. They are awesome hard-working individuals that have one of the noblest of jobs.

Before I begin the ranting portion of this post, I want to say that I've content in my life. Do I have things to improve upon? Yes. Do I have opportunities that I hope to have in the future that I don't currently have? Yes. But there are some days where I get frustrated. In the world I come from being 29 means you've gone to college, met someone, gotten engaged, gotten married, and have at least one, if not two kids by this point. In my circle of friends from college, I think that I'm the only single one left, and almost everyone got married immediately out of college. And a lot of times, I feel left behind. I feel un-included in activities because people feel that I'm going to feel awkward hanging out with a bunch of couples. When in reality, the hurt of not being included usually vastly outweighs the awkwardness of a bunch of couples talking about this that and whatnot. 

Don't get me wrong, I have a great group of friends that I've met since college. Single. Married. Mothers. Fathers. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins. Gay. Straight. Black. Brown. White. Athletes. Musicians. Dancers. Sports Enthusiasts. Best friends. Girlfriends. Manfriends. Etc. I'm seriously in love with my crazy diverse group of friends that I've somehow managed to collect since moving to Milwaukee. 

All that being said...

I wish more people would understand that we all have our daily struggles, no matter who we are. (This would be the ranting portion of the blog...you've been warned...) One of the most frustrating things I hear from people is "It must be so nice to be single, you have all that time to yourself!" Sigh. Yes, time to myself to do all the cooking, all the dishes, all the grocery shopping, all the laundry, all the vacuuming, all the dusting, all the ironing, all the toilet plunging, all the soap scum scrubbing, all the scheduling, all the budgeting, all the errands, all the bills. On the nights where you hear the freaky noises coming from outside in the middle of the night you have to ask yourself how mad your friend is really going to be if you call them at 2 o'clock in the morning when you're freaking out. That when you take a vacation it's because you've worked your ass off at work, hoarding your minimal vacation time, and when you get to the beach in Florida, you're still returning emails to your boss and putting out fires with your customers. That sick days aren't fun to begin with, but they're even less fun when there's no one there to help you get to the couch, or change the Friends DVD when you finish a season, or run to the store for Gatorade and Sprite. (Thank you to the wonderful people in my life that have done this for me in the past.) That some days you wish you could come home and somehow your dishes might have magically gotten clean while you were at work because if you don't do them, they will just grow crusty layer after crusty layer.
And then there are what I call the "Single Slap Statements."
- So why are you single?
I'm single because I want to be with someone that is a good fit for me, and I for him. And because so many (not all, but some) married people I know complain about not having any passion in their relationship, never going out on dates, lack of a sex life, argue in front of me all the time, make their kids the only thing they have in common, or got married because "well, it was either that or break up." To those of you couples that march to the beat of your own drum, make time for each other in the midst of life's craziness, make life about living and not just getting through the day and support me in the decisions that I make (despite being single...)...I applaud and thank you. You give me hope.
- Have you ever tried online dating?
Yes. Been there done that. How comfortable are you with floating personal information out to strangers? That's what I thought.
- Don't worry, the timing just isn't right.
Thank you for the reassurance. But the timing for my life is just right. Just because a man isn't involved doesn't mean that my life isn't going the way it should be going.
- You should try going to the grocery store. I hear lots of people meet there.
The last time I went to the grocery store in search of a man I ran into a tranny. Seriously. Now...any spiciness that I'm looking for at the grocery store comes from the peppers.
- Have you tried a Brewers game? Or singles night at the ballpark?
I went to 27 Brewers games last year.
- Being a mom after 30...well it just gets riskier.
30 is terrifying enough. I know I'm getting older. No reminders necessary.
- I totally understand...my husband was out of town for three days last week.
While I can appreciate that being without someone there who is normally there...three days is very different than everyday.

SO. People. We all have our struggles. We all have different lives. Let's stop disrespecting other people's lives just because they are different from our own and appreciate and embrace our diversity and celebrate it. How boring would life be if we were all the same?

Ok. Rant over. Happy Wednesday. No more ranting tomorrow. Be happy. 


Friday, February 1, 2013

the one with a stranger in a bar...

Last night my head was pounding, my stomach was screaming for food, I was exhausted from a 14 ½ hour workday, and the last thing that I wanted to do was socialize with anyone. I crashed on my couch for a couple hours before going to pick up a friend from work. After a quick cat nap I jumped in my car (I should mention it was about 6 degrees last night without the windchill) and headed to my destination. I walked into the place, kept my eyes to the floor, and took a seat away from everyone there, just hoping that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

I eventually was coaxed out of my box of unfriendliness to the end of the bar, introductions were made and I started talking to a guy who I could tell had something on his mind. Long story short, he has a really intense job where he deals with life and death situations on a day to day basis. He started to talk and I found myself thinking “Andrea, right now you need to stop feeling bad for yourself and this guy needs you to just need to shut up and listen.” And so I did. I learned about him, his family, his job, and the tragedy that struck him personally about three days ago.

I’m always amazed at the honesty with which young people speak. Little kids will tell you anything from how their poop looked that morning to the innocence of adults’ personal matters that are said with such bluntness you almost choke on your coffee. Some people think that we lose that disclosure ability and label it “socially inappropriate” as we get older. I tend to think people are people no matter how small, and maybe the older we get…the more we like to hear ourselves talk…and we don’t take enough time to just shut up and listen.

And so I did. I sat and listened. Which anyone who knows me and my bubbly personality, isn’t always easy to do. And I’ll admit, I was a little distracted by his resemble to Roberto from The Bachelor with his cute dimples and chin. But the rawness of the hurt in his eyes and the honesty with which he spoke was even more beautiful. Towards the end of our conversation (or listening session as it may be) he looked at me and alluded to the fact that he was impressed that I was able to list and understand problems in the context of the grand scheme of life…what was really important. That he didn’t expect some random sitting next to him in a bar to see the big picture but also be able to offer the support and understanding that he so desperately needed.

When he left I told him how much I enjoyed talking with him and I hoped we could again sometime. I don’t know if we ever will. I don’t even know if I’ll ever see him again someday. And as I got up to leave myself my head still hurt so badly that I wanted to cry (which I did end up doing about an hour later)…my stomach was now cursing me for the Jack’s sausage and mushroom pizza that I thought was a good idea at midnight…and I was still exhausted. But my struggles that day? Yes…they were struggles. They were my struggles. But in the grand scheme of things…a little blip on the radar. 10 years from now I probably won’t remember the pizza I ate too late. Or the headache that plagued me for 18 hours. But I hope that I remember the conversation I had…that one night…with that one guy…and that I can always remember to shut up and listen.