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What I Learned When I Shook the President’s Hand

Oh, the President and I go way back. Waaay back.

By that I mean to Friday, May 20th at approximately 11:47am.

Oh, and by “President” I mean the President of Costa Rico, not the President of the United States.

And also by “go”, I mean I shook his hand and promptly fashioned him a sandwich when he blessed our humble local Bakehouse with his lunch-time needs after giving an important lecture at Kansas State University. That was a gosh darn beautiful sandwich if I ever made one, I can assure you of that.

This was a seriously cool moment for me. I mean, it’s the elected ruler of a whole friggin country whose hand I found clutching my own feeble phalanges and giving them a poorly-returned wiggle.

I hold politicians in a higher regard than celebrities, mostly because I have a foundational, John-Oliver-based understanding of how intensely difficult it is to be an elected leader of a country. You have to get everybody to like you (whether by actually being a stellar individual or by coercion, it’s nevertheless a challenge) and then you actually have to do good things for your country. With the amount of mass public outrage targeted against every single government ever created, it’s not a walk in the park, and it isn’t immediately rewarding. Mostly because I might be the only person within a 20 mile radius who thinks politicians are cooler than celebrities.

Also I recently started watching House of Cards and so I’m all hyped on politics.

An essential matter of humanity was reinforced for me the day that President Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rico strolled in and out of our cozy, espresso-wafting Bakehouse. For your further disappointment over the misleading title of this post, it didn’t actually have much to do with the President himself.

It was this: the greatest gift you can ever give an excited person is to let them be excited.

My coworkers are a collection of the most magical Enlightened people, all of whom I consider myself blessed to not only work with but even know in the first place. I love them all quite dearly. But they are also humans, and so sometimes, as one might be able to predict, we aren’t perfect in attending to each other.

The first co-barista to come clock in for a shift after the President left was immediately excited.

WHUT” she thundered, whipping around to try and glimpse a chiseled, secret-service backside. “THAT’S INSANE!”

I was feeling rather encouraged by this remark, and together we shared a wonderful moment of mutual excitement over the gracing of pseudo-royalty. She let me be excited, and even was excited with me, which made me all the more excited! So much excitement! I felt that my hype was justified and the experience was made all the more cooler.

The second co-barista to clock in came around half an hour after the President left. When I announced the grand news, he raised his eyebrows and admonished, “Dude! That’s awesome!” and then proceeded to let me impart upon him my plans for commemorating this event for all eternity by perhaps purchasing a large, over-priced plaque from Hobby Lobby. I could tell that he wasn’t personally ecstatic by the appearance of the President, but he did such a wonderful job at letting me be excited, and it again made the event so much cooler.

Then the third co-barista came to clock in.

I’m still hyped up by this point. So hyped, that I shriek “Hey! Guess who came in just an hour ago!”

“Who?”

“The freaking President of Costa Rico!!! I made him a sandwich!”

…..crickets. Crickets, folks.

“So? Did he grant you citizenship to Costa Rico or something?”

Whut.

Then this barista proceeds to spend the next five minutes telling me why he doesn’t care and why he doesn’t think it’s such a big deal.

And all the hype, and the feelings of justification over being excited, all of that died just a tad. I began to feel overdramatic and immature. The occurrence of the President started to feel just the tiniest bit trivial and exaggerated. Even if my co-barista had been kidding or was being sarcastic–which he really wasn’t–that excitement of mine would have still died a bit.

He didn’t let me be excited. He tore it down. And the most frustrating part about that was the fact that it would have been so easy for him to not do that. Just let me have my excitement. Give me a cordial nod, maybe a “sweet!” in acknowledgement and be on your way. Yeah, maybe I’m being a bit over-bearing. But I would personally rather live in a world where people are too excited about life than constantly where everyone is underwhelmed.

So I really did learn something by the President’s appearance on Friday. It’s that when someone is excited about something–unless it’s like, meth, or something that should probably be probed into further–let them be excited. Actually, maybe it’s more simple than that. Just don’t be a tool.  Don’t let them know that you think their excitement isn’t exciting to you at all.

There is so much in this world that is dark and passionless; there are so many, many things that happen daily to make us lose faith in humanity. We need the little wins; we need little bouts of excitement in our lives. And we have to foster those bouts in each other and in ourselves. We have to do our part to make each other’s lives suck just a little less.

 

This post is dedicated to you, President Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rico, for being a baller President, a firm hand-shaker and a connoisseur of delicious café sandwiches, of which I complement your taste.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

 

“I think you would find people who find that government salaries are enough, because they’re not there to make money, they’re there to serve the country.”

-Luis Guillermo Solis

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Simplicity is Beautiful: People > Stuff

Do you ever get in those intense cleaning moods, where you’re fed up with the amount of clutter in your space and all you want to do is hose it all in gasoline, light a match and scream, “Let it burrrrrrrrrn!” with wild frenzy?

My mother and I both got in that mood, and tore through our piles of unnecessary materials from 9:30 until midnight last night (no fire, though, although it was tempting).

Consequently, I have a mountain of clothes, wall décor, extra bedding and the like piled in my car to try and sell  today. Anyone who happens to currently glance in the windows of my car are probably assuming that my parents kicked me out of the house and I had to take my little-girl jewelry box and Bambi pillow cases to the road.

Even though it took work to go through everything–specifically picking through some sentimental pieces that I deemed unable to enhance my life happiness–and it will take work to even get rid of the loads, I feel….so much lighter. There is something insurmountably satisfying about only having things that make you happy and that enhance your life. You get to look around you and think to yourself, “All this stuff, and nothing more, is 100% worth my time”. Unnecessary materials stress me out. They bog me down. Having an excess of stuff makes me feel committed to materialism, or at least unable to just pack up and go to wherever the heck fire I want.

It makes choosing what to wear in the morning loads easier, because everything I have I both like and wear.

It makes my mind clearer; my physical environment is an indication of my psyche, so if it’s clear then my mind has a standing chance.

It makes me happy to give it to people who want it more than I (and not going to lie here, it makes me even a bit happier to sell it to those people who want it and will use it, because then it’s more of a win-win).

I am also someone who tires so easily of monotony; I thrive with change. I love the idea of tossing everything out, and then with the income, ushering in a new palate of options.

It can be hard to declutter properly, unfortunately. There will always be the little voice saying, “If you gain a bit of weight, you’re going to want this, because it’ll fit”; “If you ever find a good pair of white shorts, this top would go with them perfectly”; “what happens when you get your own apartment? You’re going to need this then!”; “If you give this away, you’re essentially tossing away your relationship with your Aunt”; “Josie, these letters and birthday cards are memories, I know you haven’t read them in many, many years, but maybe one day you’ll want to”.

You gotta ignore that little guy. If in the future you need something, you can go get it. If tossing away the previous year’s birthday cards is going to hinder your relationship with your relatives, then maybe you need to get to work in the relational department.

I believe honestly that it comes down to fear. Most things really do. It’s hard to declutter completely, because we’re afraid to “toss away memories” or we’re afraid that we won’t be able to obtain something like it ever again.

So maybe it’s not the decluttering of space that is so satisfying, although that’s a big part of it. Maybe the satisfaction manifests itself in overcoming fear.

Friends, simplicity is so rewarding. So beautiful. The less we are tied to the materials, the more we can be tied to each other. To the things that last. To the things that will actually bring us through the good-ol’-reliable-tough-times. Yeah, I can keep this sweater that my grandmother knitted for me when I was in the 2nd grade, because maybe if I have a tough day at college, I’m going to want to look at it and be reminded of her crafty hands. But knowing myself, I’m going to most likely find more comfort out of calling her and having a conversation. Or going to one of my best friends for a hug and a word of comfort.

People will always be greater, far greater than things. It would be good if we started treating each other to that effect.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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What’s Your Secret to Loving the Run?

Valid question. If you’ve gone through the public school system as a child, you’ve most likely been conditioned to view running as a punishment, something that people who are in their right state of mind don’t enjoy. There are so many benefits to running, and it’s pretty easily agreed upon that the more one enjoys the activity, the easier it is.

But here it is. The two things that got me into long distance running and made me enjoy it.

1). Signing up for a half marathon and finding a training plan.

2). Podcasts.

 

Signing up for a tangible and most-definitely-going-to-happen race gave me a deeper and more founded motivation. I wasn’t pushing myself farther and faster just to look good or to feel healthy, I was doing it because I imagined the pain and embarrassment I would feel if I didn’t train and showed up to race anyways.

We are motivated by two things: pleasure and pain. The fact that we understand and accept this gives us a leg up because we can use it. In order to motivate ourselves, we apply pleasure and pain. I visualized the pain that would be associated with not training and running a longer distance than my body was ready for, and that motivated me. I visualized the pleasure that breakfast would yield after a long run, and the pleasure after running a longer distance than I had ever run before.

And having a plan gave me purpose. It wasn’t “what do I feel like running today?”. If it had been, I would have never run hill repeats or speed intervals or tempo runs. You are never going to feel like it. That’s what makes discipline so hard. It’s about acknowledging weakness and then manipulating circumstances to make succumbing to weakness not such a desirable temptation.

 

Podcasts

This one gets it’s own heading, because it’s a defining feature of my run. Listening to music during a run is grand, but for me, having a run that is divided into 3-5 minute increments is too mentally taxing.

With podcasts, 30 minutes go by at a time without me even glancing at a watch or knowing how long I’ve gone.

I love learning, and injecting knowledge as much and in as much bulk as possible. The world is filled with things that I’m passionate about and people who more knowledgeable than I, so being able to multitask during a run—exercising in while also learning about the way the world works—increases my love of running tenfold. There are experts on almost everything one can be passionate about, and experts put forth a plethora of material.

Here are the podcasts that I oscillate amongst during a run, organized into topics:

 

 Podcasts Primarily about Running:

  1. No Meat Athlete

Matt Frazier is a vegan ultrarunner with insurmountable knowledge over training techniques, nutrition, race day tips, pretty much everything a runner who is interested in either racing or running endurance-length distances could be curious about. Especially if one is interested in how to do this on a plant-based diet.

Each episode pertains to a specific subject; protein sources for vegan athletes, how to stick to a training plan during the holidays, tips for a first time marathoner, etc.

His style is anti-preachy, too. He doesn’t come across as if he “knows all the answers”, but merely portrays his information as things that have worked well for him.

 

  1. Trail Talk –

Trail Talk is hosted by the “Rock Creek Runner” Doug Hay, who is the co-host for the No Meat Athlete podcast radio with Matt Frazier. Doug Hay is a ultrarunner who is passionate about trails and getting out in nature. He presents his podcast as a podcast on trail running techniques and knowledge, and “it just so happens he’s also plant-based”.

All of his episodes range from 6-15 minutes, just “bite-sized” tips and techniques for specific topics.

 

  1. The Runner’s World Show –

What I love about the RW Show is the outline of each episode. Runner’s World is so esteemed and has so many resources available to it, that each episode is well-developed and features a plethora of really big-name runners. The knowledge is insane, and it’s presented in a relatable way, as if, in some magical running kingdom, you are on the same level as Ryan Hall, and the two of you can have a casual conversation about adoption processes in Africa. And also how to run the fastest American marathon.

Also they did this really stellar episode featuring the man who wrote First Ladies of Running about influential and motivational women runners. That always gets my woman-power blood pumping.

  1. The Rich Roll Podcast –

What draws me the most to the Rich Roll Podcast is the nature of Rich Roll himself; he’s such a relatable human. That’s mainly it. He’s really, really human. He’s humble, not calling attention to how crazy his endurance and athletic ability is, but rather fixating on the discipline he had to develop to get that ability and the trials that humbled him along the way.

It’s one of the most beautiful things in the world when a person discovers his or her life purpose and then pursues it to entirety. Rich Roll is passionate about mindfulness and being in touch with those around us and our environment, and his life goal is to help others find the same peace and relief and beauty that he has.

Podcasts that Offer Inspirational Perspective on Life:

 

  1. TED Radio Hour –

“The TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing new inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections.”

What got me through the last 5 miles of my hilly second half marathon race was the podcast on “Endurance”. These speakers completed insurmountable endurance feats; I can run a couple miles.

  1. On Being –

Krista Tippett (I honestly thought her last name was “Tidbitt” for the longest time) is a wonderful, soothing explorer on the immensity of our lives. She probes the deeper and big questions of meaning and takes it to experts, such as scientists, theologians, artists, and teachers.

I come away from this podcast with my soul refreshed and a new perspective from “Why is the World So Beautiful?” to “Music and the Ritual of Performance”.

  1. 10% Happier with Dan Harris –

Dan Harris is the author of “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”, and continues his bestselling book further in this podcast. He explores the fundamental questions of: “Can you be an ambitious person and still strive for enlightenment (whatever that means?)” with super smart people. It’s golden.

 

  1. Vegetarian Zen –

A peaceful, non-judgmental place to find information on vegetarianism, veganism, juicing, exercise, motivation and green living. They feature tips, healthy recipes, product reviews, etc.

My personal favorite was the episode dedicated to Coffee!

 

 

Miscellaneous:

 

  1. The Nerdist –

These guys are the intersection of “casual” and “laid-back”; they bring in people more famous than themselves and have a (sometimes explicit) conversation about whatever the heck they feel like talking about.

My favorite episode was when they chilled with Daniel Radcliffe, because Daniel Radcliffe has this super authentic giggly-laugh that bubbles up whenever he thinks something is funny, which is all the time. So happy people having a funny conversation caressed my ears during a long tempo run one Wednesday morning, which I can still remember as one of the most pleasant runs I have been on.

 

  1. Myths and Legends –

This is more than for just English majors; anyone who grew up loving fairytales and bedtime stories would love this. It’s like fairytales and bedtime stories for adults, that you’ve never heard of before.

The host is exceptionally thorough in researching all accounts of a tale in order to produce the most authentic legend as possible.

 

  1. Profile –

These episodes are 15 minute insights into a character of an influential, figure-making news headline. The producers, again, do an exceptionally-thorough job at researching each character fully.

Personal favorites include the episode on Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, as well as on Meb Keflezighi.

  1. Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin –

Same kind of deal as Profile and even as The Nerdist (although much more serious). Alec Baldwin, with his soothing man-voice, discusses the lives of really interesting celebrities. My absolute favorite was the interview with Julie Andrews, as well as his talk with Jimmy Fallon.

 

  1. Stuff You Should Know –

I personally love “random fact” stories, and these two do an excellent job at pulling random, overlooked stories and researching them thoroughly. Personal favorites: “The Time the Nazis Invaded Florida”, “The Duality of Caffeine”, and “How Vestigal Organs Work”.

 

While this is currently an exhaustive list of the podcasts that I regularly listen to, it probably will be outdated by this time next week.

Do you have any podcasts you are dedicated to? Do you have a “secret” to what has made you love running? Comment below!

 

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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On Why I Love Running: Part Two

If you are wondering to yourself, “Hmm, Self, why is it Part Two?”, I would like to invite you to take this question to the next level and seek out to read “On Why I love Running Part 1”, because I genuinely believe it will answer your question.

Ah, the sweet beauty of empowerment.

But for a brief recap of “On Why I love Running: Part 1”: Essentially, I expound upon the factors that introduced me to competitive running (I believe this is what it can be called?) and then I explain how I got burnt out on running, and it became a chore. This Part 2 is my reintroduction to the art of running with a new passion and a new perspective.


 

I am fascinated with the mind. If I’m being honest with you, I’m particularly fascinated with my mind. I seek to understand why it operates the way it does and I enjoy putting pressure on these subconscious proceedings. One of the most stress-relieving activities is simple observation; why does that thought pop up when I encounter this? Do I have to think that way? What would happen if I purposefully directed my thoughts different? Could I establish change in this way?

This interest in the mind serves a runner well, primarily because long distance running is roughly made up of (and just an estimate, here) 100000000% mental toughness and 3% physical exertion.

Since beginning my freshman year of college, I have seized every opportunity I can to test my mental capacity. I have seen too much benefit reaped from these opportunities to pass them up. So that’s a little background on where I started; i.e., with a degree (however minute and underdeveloped) of mental toughness.

Alright, to business.

 

October 18th, 2015

My mother—a true Adventure Queen of the Nile—found a young, adventure couple who were looking for joiners on a two-day biking exploration. Kansas had recently completed a “Rails to Trails” project which consists of turning old railway track into a trail for bikers, runners, and overall nature partakers. The young couple–we’ll call them Stephan and Liz for anonymity’s sake—wanted to drop a car off at one end of the trail, drive to the other end, bike all day Saturday, camp Saturday night, and then bike all day Sunday. In order to fulfill the “other car” requirement, my mother and I joined.

Stephan and Liz are some of the coolest people. They both obtained biology degrees from Notre Dame and have spent many-a summer in Alaska and Canada doing field research. They are both vegans and extreme-adventurers. Example: Stephan’s class got out early one day on Friday. What did he do? Found an good deal on a flight to Costa Rica, put a pair of extra underwear and a CLIF bar in a backpack, and spent the weekend solo-hiking through Costa Rica. The pair of them hitchhiked to California and couch-surfed on weekend, the only money being spent on a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. These two are the real deal.

Liz is a yoga instructor, and most importantly, a half-marathoner.

An all-day-two-day biking adventure is a really grand opportunity to get to know someone really well, in case you were wondering (date suggestion?). So I got the opportunity to really meet Liz and Stephan on a pretty deep level. Being very interested in yoga, travel, and veganism, I instantly respected the duo and wanted to be very much like them.

So Liz started telling me about running, and specifically half-marathons.

She told me how blissful the distance can be. Races shorter than a half-marathon—1 mile, 5k, 10k—are all about speed and sustainability. You run these races to prove to other people that you are faster than them, essentially.

But a half-marathon, she said, is the beginning of the distances that you run for purely yourself. You compete against your own capacity, physical and mental. It’s rooted in intrinsic motivation.

And if you read my other blog posts, you know how the phrase “intrinisic motivation” really makes me perk up.

I had never heard anyone talk about running this way. I always assumed that people ran because they were either a). like me, and part of a running team that they felt pressured to be on or b). trying to lose weight.

But the way that Liz talked about running…the beauty in the opportunity to be so raw in movement and to enter a different part of the mind. To feel what it’s like to be in a different headspace. The capacity to learn from the movement. To feel the instinct. To feel improvement, not for anyone else’s benefit but yourself. And then to take this sense of completeness and be able to meet the needs of other’s much more effectively once your own needs are met.

Pretty powerful stuff, yeah?

I didn’t make any decisions immediately, but rather reflected upon that perspective and passion and let it ruminate up in my noggin for a while.

Now fast forward a tad.

 

November 8, 2015

My father—an excellent endurance cyclist, truly excellent—and I did the Emporia Veteran’s Day Duathalon, a race featuring a 5k run followed by a 40 mile gravel bike ride, all to be completed in under 4 hours.

Oh man.

It was so blissfully enjoyable. I can’t stress it enough, I love competing. I love race day, all the feels, all the excitement, all the cortisol. The fight-or-flight just before the start. And I especially love endurance competitions. Because it doesn’t matter who is faster than you, it only matters that you get the job done. It’s pure Josie vs. Mind, my absolute favorite.

I especially enjoyed the run, even though it was not the endurance portion of the race. I enjoyed this feeling of raw instinct, of an almost separation from society. When I run, I don’t feel like I’m an American. This might be strange, but I don’t feel like I’m part of anything other than humanity. I feel connected on such a broad level.

The race went well, I finished in the top-whatever and despite having a less-than extravagant bike to pedal through the gravel, I finished comfortably under 4 hours.

 

As soon as I was done, three things immediately crossed my mind:

  1. I wonder what would be the fastest way to get ahold of some peanut butter?
  2. I’m pretty sure the man who finished first is significantly more than twice my age and perhaps 100 pounds heavier.
  3. When can I race again?

I was hooked.

As much as I loved cycling, it was the running portion that really gripped my attention, as well as the fully-ruminated thoughts upon Liz and I’s conversation on running. So I decided to sign up for a half-marathon.

 

February 6th, 2016

Olathe Chocolate Rush Half-Marathon. What better to showcase my half-marathoning debut than with a race devoted to chocolate? It was a good choice. The timing allowed me 12 weeks of training, and I stuck very devotedly—and very excitedly—to a Hal Hidgeon intermediate 12-week training plan.

They tell you that for your first half-marathon, you should just run to finish, not even worry about time. I mean, this really is some pretty solid advice.

But I’m too competitive to adhere to it, honestly. Why just run to finish when I could run to achieve something more? It wasn’t enough for me just to have the goal of finishing. My ultimate goal was to run sub 2:00, which would mean averaging ~9:00 mile pace.

I ran 1:38, maintaining an average of 7:34/mile.

Now, my training up til then had not been particularly speed focused. I was not running intervals at “race pace”, I was not incorporating sprints and surges. I don’t even think I had run a 5 mile training run at 7:34.

This just proved to me that we are so much more capable than we think.

“When your brain says you are done, you’re only 40% done.”

David Goggins, retired Navy SEAL

It’s true, it’s so true. If you compete long enough against your mental fatigue, you can find so much more.

People advised me to “start small, with a 5k race building up”

People advised me to “really pace yourself”

People advised me to “make sure you run with water and food, that’s a long distance!”

People advised me to “take one day off per mile you raced in order to recuperate fully”.

I don’t believe that running is something you have to play safe.

I believe it’s wise to observe your body and respect limitations, such as gradual increase in mileage per week. It’s important to remember that your body needs fuel and proper nutrition. It’s important to allow time for your body to recover, physically.

But what do you learn by playing it safe?

In no area of our lives do we become stronger by “playing it safe”. Running isn’t any different. I welcome the challenge, the opportunity to see what I’m made of, to expand my mental fatigue, to strengthen my mental capacity.

Tomorrow morning I’ll run my second half-marathon. I’m excited to see what areas I have improved in (hopefully form, I’ve been stressing that hard in training) and what areas still need work.


 

Stay tuned for Part 3! I will disclose the compilation of resources that have aided my love for running, what I love to listen to during a good run, as well as how I fuel during long runs and my strategies for fast and effective recovery.

Comment below on the ways that running (or other disciplines) has had an impact in your life, or what it fulfills in you. As much as I love to share, I am more so infinitely curious!

 

 

 

Peace & Blessings,

Josie

 

 

 

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On Why I Love Running: Part 1

Recently, I have gotten super into running memoirs (ask anybody that I have forced into conversation within the last two weeks, they’ll tell you), especially those that feature plant-based endurance athletes. Reading these memoirs have had unsurmountable effect on my psyche; reading about how others are so incredibly passionate about the things that I am also incredibly passionate about swells my heart with inspiration, motivation, and the validation that I am profoundly passionate indeed over what I think I am.

And that’s comforting, you know?

In honor of how these memoirs have made me feel, I would like to put forth a version of my own running memoir, in hopes that it inspires, motives, and validates.

Because this is a longer post, I have split it into three parts. The first part is how I was introduced into running and also how I began to develop endurance. The second part will be my reintroduction to running. The third part will be a compilation of all the resources that I utilize in which I have developed a passion and a love affair for running; essentially, how I officially fell in love with running.

Act One: The Beginning

Scene 1: Josie enters middle school.

In this scene, Josie decides that she wants to invest in her middle school (she is the daughter of the tourism manager of the city, of course she was raised to do this). Her best friend from elementary school signed up for the cross country team, in order to keep in shape during the off seasons of soccer. So what did Josie do? She decided that it would be a grand idea to join her friend, not only getting to spend more time with her but also making new friends within her team and being a part of her school.

Scene 2: Josie gets “good”?

Here, Josie begins to realize that she has a knack for working hard, and finds that essentially, that’s what cross country is about; the work you put into it. The farther the distance, the less talent you actually need. So Josie gets fully into cross country, falling in love with her teammates and the team aspect of the sport that also enables her to not be dependent upon others to perform the sport. Consequently, Josie began to get good; like real good. Like middle school girl competition level good, so obviously that means a lot.

 But in all seriousness, Josie begins to place in her meets, and beat her times, and becomes an overall good runner. The better one is—measured relative to those around her—the more fun the thing becomes. Josie falls in love with improving and running is the perfect catalyst.

 Scene 3: Josie joins the track team

Josie enjoyed her newfound hobby so much, that she decides to join the track team, distance specifically (there was this brief love affair with hurdles, but Josie quickly realizes her seemingly innate inability to do these well).

Here, Josie falls even more in love with the 800m race. Specifically because other people seem to fear this two-lapper, and Josie enjoys feeding off other’s dislike of something. And also because Josie develops a strategy that enables her to win, and win often. Like first place win.

What Josie does is take off well and hard, and merge in directly behind the leader. For the next 600m, Josie hangs on to the heels of the leader, focused almost entirely on those heels, not even dipping into her own mental pain or fatigue, but only allowing herself to concentrate on the runner in front of her. Then, at the last 200m, Josie pulls ahead of the leader, who is by now so absorbed in her own pain and fatigue that she in unable to retain the same speed as Josie.

Scene 4: Josie joins the summer track team

Inspired by success, Josie finds the Manhattan Track Club, a summer track club that coincidently meets only a mile away from her house each weekday morning at 9am. Josie joins, and finds herself qualifying for the Junior Olympics in Des Moines Iowa to run the 800m, the 4×800, and for some unbeknownst error, the hurdles. Josie does well in these events (obviously excluding the hurdles, but she had fun here, so that’s a win, right?)

Scene 5: The Peak

Josie enjoys success in 8th grade, but unfortunately begins to realize that she might have peaked already, because suddenly, she isn’t improving and doing as well as she was previously. She still enjoys the sport and still places in meets and competitions, but it seems that the rest of her teammates are catching up and then exceeding Josie in talent. Which frustrates Josie a tad.

Josie joins the Manhattan Track Club again during that summer, but is less dedicated to it in exchange for volunteering at a bible camp during the summer. So consequently, she does not put forth the effort needed to qualify for the Junior Olympics.

 

Act Two: Running becomes a chore

Scene 1: High School Running career

Josie joins the high school cross country team, not fully because she loves running, but more because she knows that she will regret it if she doesn’t. Josie is more into the sport for the enjoyment of the team, she prefers practice to meets, and while she places well in most junior varsity meets, she is not by any means an exceptionally gifted member of the team.

 Track goes about the same, Josie is fully reconciled in the idea that she peaked in middle school.

 No summer track club; volunteering at the bible camp all summer.

 The fall of her sophomore year, Josie again joins the cross country team. It’s just “meh”.

Scene 2: The Best thing that happened in high school

In this scene, Josie and a few friends form an intramural basketball team the winter of her sophomore year. Josie proceeds to bloody rip the ACL from her femur completely. Josie then is obviously unable to join the track team for obvious reasons.

 Josie then begins to weekly participate in physical therapy and absolutely falls in love with it. Partly because PT features circuit workouts, not just pure running and running drills, partly because she commands the sole and full attention of her PT “coaches”, as she did not in high school cross country. And also partly because she discovers cycling (she cannot run on an ACL injury). And also partly because she attends PT with the elderly crowd, and she can outperform them, which is a confidence boost.

 Josie is “good at PT”. She is extremely dedicated to it, exercising her muscles and developing strength even outside of schedule sessions. She sees results; instead of the typical 9 month healing time for an ACL reconstruction, it only takes her 4 months before she can fully remove the brace and be “normal” again.

 Josie passes on running, and begins to cycle and do circuits almost exclusively.

 

Act 3: Cycling and the development of endurance

Scene 1: 4 years of base building

For the next three years, Josie utilizes the stationary bike stand to cycle for about 20-30 minutes and then do circuit workouts about 5 days a week or whenever her brother and his friends aren’t over at the house. When Josie begins college and discovers the university rec center, she increases this to cycling for 65 minutes with following circuits.

 Because Josie spent a significant amount of time in “zone 2” (longer, slower workouts that remain below the anerobic threshold), she did what she now realizes as “base building”. Namely, training her body to be efficient with fat-burning. This means that her body began to become efficient at relying on fat storage to find calories for exercise instead of needing the constant intake of glucose in carbohydrates to power her. This is the foundation for endurance. A body that is efficient at fat-burning is a body that can “go” for a long time without needing to be rested and refueled.

 The main way to build base is by doing long, slow exercises that do not exceed the anaerobic threshold. Namely, if one wakes up sore the next morning, that means that they did exceed this threshold and the muscles produced a residue of lactic acid, which then correlates to the muscle fatigue. So that’s not what one wants if they want to increase endurance capabilities.

 

 

Alright. This was part one, my beginning story. Hang in there, team, it gets better. Part Two will feature my reintroduction to running, and part three will feature a full compilation of the resources I have found and the strategies that I maintain that have made me fall in love with running.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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The Trick to Discipline and Goal Setting

I am the first to admit I am not the most disciplined person to ever walk to Earth. There are so, so many areas that I need to improve upon in my life, I don’t even know where to begin. But there are a couple of things in my life that look a lot like discipline, and that I am proud to place in the realm of discipline. Such things include:

  •  Waking up pre-sunrise to immediately run far and fast.
  • Running hill repeats or a speed interval workout, with no one telling me how far to go or how many reps I should do, but yet sticking to a predetermined amount, no matter how difficult it becomes.
  • Eating primarily a plant-based diet and forgoing pleasure-inducing food items such as junk and fast food.

I believe it to be part of the human nature to set lofty goals; lofty almost unattainable goals. As a species, we are seeking the thrills of improvement. It’s unsatisfying to stay stagnate, even if our stagnation is rooted in something positive, like a well-balanced exercise regime or diet.

My personal goals for improvement resonate under the blanket of “have more discipline” and specifically include the following:

  • Eat less peanut butter. (I am ashamed to admit this, but often, all I want to do is attack a jar of organic, fresh-pressed peanut butter with a spoon and go to town. Sometimes this is exactly what I do. I like to tell myself that it is my primary protein and caloric source, but it’s me “not having discipline”.)
  • Get on Facebook less.
  • Stop objectifying customers and/or judging them on what kinds of coffee-esque drinks they order for me to make.
  • Eat less bread. (Mostly because this makes me feel sluggish and lethargic, not not not because I am “anti-carbohydrates”. Carbohydrates should be the bulk of our diets, unless one is absolutely not about movement or activity. Although I firmly believe that vegetables and fruits are a greater source of carbohydrates than breads, starches, and potatoes. But another day.)

Do you see a theme to these goals? They are centered on “what not to do”.

Folks, this is setting goals up for complete failure.

It’s like when people decide they “won’t eat after 8pm”. What happens? The only thing they think about after 8pm is food.

When we focus on the negative aspects, the “can’t do”s and the “shouldn’ts” or the “do less of”, our brain doesn’t fully comprehend subconsciously the “can’t” part of it and instead focuses on what comes after. Don’t eat peanut butter by the spoonful? Brain translation: [eat peanut butter by the spoonful!!!!]

And then inevitably I get frustrated by failure and give up.

So here is a new perspective on achieving goals and obtaining discipline.

Introducing: tricking yourself.

Instead of saying, “I am going to eat less peanut butter and obtain more discipline”, instead say, “for a snack today, I am going to eat these fresh cut apple slices”. There isn’t anything inherently stated about peanut butter, but nevertheless, you have achieved your goal of eating less peanut butter.

Instead of saying, “Today I am going to get on Facebook less”, transform that to “During those brief moments of awkwardness between classes and I pull out my phone, I am going to click on Josie’s blog and read an article”. Your brain isn’t enthralled by suggestions of Facebook, and you achieve your goal.

Oftentimes, in order to achieve discipline in a certain area, you must replace the negative behavior and then focus on what you have replaced it with.

Steps Toward Achieving Goals:

So here are some briefly outline steps toward achieving goals and getting better at discipline:

  1. Identify the negative behavior that you would like to change [example: judge customers less on their drink orders]
  2. Identify the times that you most struggle with this [when I hear the door bell ping open, or when the customer comes up to the counter and sighs wearily]
  3. Come up with ideas of positive behaviors to replace the negative behavior with [as soon as I hear the door open, I am going to think of one thing I am grateful for. As soon as the customer walks up to the counter, I am going to take the time to notice something that I like about the customer.]
  4. Remind yourself of your positive behavior substitute. [ask a co-worker to do it with me so that it will stick].

The more times you can switch something negative to a positive, the more likely you are to succeed at it and also succeed better, faster, and easier. When I do hill repeats, I don’t think “Ugh, I’ve got 10 more of these to go”, I think, “I’ve already done 2, and I feel like I just started!” or “I’ve already done 2, I only have 5 more sets to go! That’s nothing!”

When I wake up early in the morning, I don’t allow myself to think “gotta get this over with”. I think, sometimes very loudly, “YEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHH I LOVE RUNNNNING!!!” (Is it bad to start the morning with a lie? No, I think not.)

I think that’s how discipline is obtained. Choosing to see positives and replace negatives with pleasing substitutes that are easier to entertain.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Don’t Put Me in The Box

“Many men go fishing all their lives, without knowing it’s not the fish they are after.”

–Henry David Thoreau

If you know me at all–if you have ever overhead a conversation I have had–you will be familiar with my obsession of The Box.

I abhor, absolutely loathe everything that The Box represents. Perhaps that’s subliminally the reason why I am vegan, I believe so strongly that nothing should be contained in a box.

There is one misconception about The Box that I would like to expand upon;

It’s not a “comfort zone”

I understand the Comfort Zone, absolutely no problems there. I am good friends with my personal Comfort Zone, we share a lot of kicks and giggles; there is unquestionably nothing wrong with a Comfort Zone. It’s part of what makes us human.

The Box is not a Comfort Zone, don’t equate the two. There are key aspects of The Box that render it ineligible from functioning as a Comfort Zone:

Your Role and Your Choice in the Matter

We are able to put ourselves in our own zones of comfort; we make the choices here. Do I want to put forth effort into stretching my bubble of comfort? Do I want to perhaps retract the volume of my zone a bit to pursue structure? How do I operate within my Comfort Zone? How do I feel when I go outside of the boundaries?

The Box is something that we don’t have much control over. Others place us in The Box; they categorize us, they trap us within the confines of societal normatives. There is nothing individual about a Box. Indeed, there cannot be. Those who place us within the Box do not know everything there is to know about us, they don’t understand the way that we personally interact with our world or the thoughts that we struggle to either suppress or express.

The Box is literally containing. Once inside a Box, we are faced with suspicion and frustration when we attempt to operate outside of the code of The Box. We are objectified. We cease to become agents. We begin to let others dictate our rules; those very same people who do not know us like we know us.

How To Avoid Getting Put in The Box

If The Box is so frustratingly restrictive and objectifying, how do we avoid letting others place ourselves in one? There are so many preexisting Boxes available to be placed into; The Health Nut, The Studier, The Partier, The Diva, The Slob….how do we avoid the labels?

Definitively and firmly decide to not be placed in a Box. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to objectify someone without their consent. Refuse to be treated as an object or as a standard. Oftentimes we accept our labels, and we almost strive to fulfill them. We want to be The Partier, so we refuse to let people see us studying, in accordance with the true Partier label. We want to be The Health Nut, so we refuse to let others see us eat junk food.  It can be comfortable to be categorized, so that we don’t have to think for ourselves or make decisions. Should I eat this or should I eat that? Well, this is what people in my category would do, so I guess that’s what I’ll do, too.

But don’t mistake this for the Comfort Zone; you don’t have control, here. You aren’t the decision maker. It’s not about what you personally are comfortable with, it’s about what other’s have determined that you should be comfortable with. It’s a false blanket of objectified security.

Don’t worry about conforming to labels, and don’t even worry about constantly defying labels. Seek introspection; ask yourself what you want; treat yourself as the agent of change and decision that you are. Ask yourself how you are designed, individually, to interact with your world, and recognize the potential lost when you neglect that unique way that you work.

How to Avoid Putting Others in the Box

I put people in The Box, too. It’s awful, and I hate it, but I find myself often seeking to categorize those I interact with so that I can understand them. I think that’s why the first question we ask when we meet new college friends is “What’s your major?”.

“Oh, you’re a Business Major?” Now I know you are only interested in making money.

Oh, you’re an Art Major?” Now I know you don’t really like to learn.

“Oh, you’re a Psychology Major?” Now I know you would be a good person to tell all my problems too.

This is unbelievably selfish. We don’t want to spend the time to figure out the individual, we want a quick and broad understanding of someone so that we can understand them. I think we lack the awareness that it truly takes years and years and thousands of conversations to ever understand anyone. We are constant works in progress, how can we be understood, even fully by ourselves?

So to avoid this unfortunate habit of boxing people categorically, recognize when the drive to categorize someone arises, and then swallow it. Ask individualistic questions. If you want to understand someone, it’s going to take work.

I recognize how much work this takes, and it can be a daunting task. So if you are unable to fully devote the time necessary in order to understand someone, that’s okay, really. Accepting that you probably won’t ever understand someone is infinitely better than placing them quickly in The Box, and it’s the most selfless step you could take.

Next time you meet a new college friend, dodge the inclination to ask them what their major is. Ask them, instead, what kind of town they grew up in. What kind of family they have. Are they introverted or extraverted.

 

Little steps.

I’m not The Vegan. I’m not The Blogger. I’m not The Girl With The Box Obsession. I’m not The Girl Who Takes Everything Too Personally.

 

I’m Josie.

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The Horizontal Line Approach

I am a planner. I do well with structure, but for the sake of spontaneity. I strongly dislike routine, but I depend upon a routine to be in place in order that I can disrupt it. I love to know my options, I feel comfort upon the dependency of others.

Above all, I love to “earn things”. I feel so much satisfaction in going for a long run and then slowly savoring a peanut-butter-oatmeal  breakfast, or working all day at some dirt-infused job, only to come in, sunburned and slightly blistered, to a wonderful, majestic bubble bath with some Miles Davis serenading me from the background. I am a big fan of the rewards of delayed gratification.

This is what they tell you to work towards, isn’t it? Becoming obsessed with delayed gratification.

“Sonny!” they shout at you. “Sonny, no no no, learn to work before you learn to eat” as they swipe the toast right out of your freshly washed hands and thrust a dirty shovel toward you.

“Oh, child,” muses the wise. “Child, true satisfaction comes after true trial”.

Girl, you will eat your vegetables before you have your dessert.”

Learning to appreciate and chase after delayed gratification has transformed both me as a person and my life as an entity. I have become someone who values discipline and hard work, and am afraid of neither in the pursuit of my goals and dreams.

However, this has come with a price.

I have this newfound tendency to look at each day like a vertical line; a never-ending summit to reach some expectation that will yield disappointment, because it isn’t as exciting and special as I imagined. Allow me to explain.

Table 1

Verticle Line Day

 

 

 

START: a good, hard run

|

Go to classes to learn

|

Eat a delicious, well deserved lunch

|

Do homework

|

Hang with residents

|

Eat a delicious well deserved dinner

|

Read, homework, relax

|

Get ready for bed

|

Go to sleep

|

END: Repeat

I run so that I can eat a delicious breakfast so that I can pay attention during class (and so that the learning process is as relatively pain-free as possible) so that I can eat a well deserved lunch so that I can think about my homework and learn some more so that I can finish and be with residents so that I can eat a well deserved dinner so that I can have options so that I can get ready for bed at whatever time I want so that I can go to sleep, so that I can…repeat?

Do you see? It’s this never ending “so that” attached with every part of my day, leading up to the great finale of…repeat. I’m not truly enjoying any of my activities, instead I am mindlessly waiting until that activity is done, because my primary motivator for the activity is to progress to the next one.

This model renders it close to impossible to maintain the moment and to appreciate each aspect of the day for what it is worth. And yet, while I know this and am fully aware of this, I am nevertheless often trapped in this mindset. And with this mindset, I have no other option but to be inevitably disappointed, because there isn’t anything satisfying in simply” repeating”.

If you find that you are like me in this aspect, and that you struggle with maintaining the moment, I propose for both you and I that we train ourselves to look at the day from the horizontal line approach.

(I’m going to go ahead and casually copyright that now, so that if one day I lost all hope of obtaining the career I desire, I can fall back on inspirational novels and write a non-fiction. I think it would look something like the following:)

The Horizontal Line Apprach

Table 2

Horizontal Line Day

Enjoy Run Enjoy breakfast Enjoy learning Enjoy lunch Do homework Enjoy time with Residents Enjoy dinner

 

Relax and/or be productive Get ready for bed

In this way, I am able to separate and individualize each moment of my day. The purpose of my run ceases to become for a better breakfast, likewise the motivation for hanging out with my beautiful residents and friends and doing homework ceases to become “in order to eat a better dinner”.

Above all, the “height” of my day ceases entirely to become repeat, deeming it a much, much less disappointing day where I truly lived in each moment each activity.

Steps To Achieve this Perspective

I’m a visualizer, so it helps for me to write out the plan for the day literally in a horizontal fashion. Planners, with good reason, give the day vertically, so I simply turn it to the horizontal and write my day likewise, the time of day being the x-axis.

Being mindful also helps. Recognizing when the urge to not be present in each moment arises, and then talking yourself down. Describe to yourself the current moment, and pay special attention to it. Don’t neglect the current moment for the next, instead, treat it as a child. Give it the attention it deserves.

Delayed gratification is a marvelous, beautiful thing. It has the ability to open one up to a myriad of newfound satisfaction with life, because truly the struggles of life are what make the pleasures so great. However. Allowing delayed gratification to rule and shape your day could lead to an inability to be in the present; one begins to always look forward to some reward or some event, and miss out on the moments that shape us.

Above all, don’t let your plans for the day dictate your actual day; spontaneity is what wiggles into our concrete and unyielding lives and makes us the playful humans that we are.

 

 

Let me know if you have any other tricks or perspectives shift that have helped you with the dilemma of staying present in the moment, I would love to hear about them!

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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What Surrealism Teaches Me

I am a self-proclaimed “hopeless Surrealist”.

Wut.

This reaction is okay, I understand completely. Surrealism isn’t a widely-recognized term. Unless you’re an avid art major or have seen a work of Salvador Dali, it’s hard to put together the term with a piece.

So here it is, my reasons for my fascination with Surrealism.

 

sur·re·al·ism

səˈrēəˌlizəm/

noun

  1. a 20th-century avant-garde movement in art and literature that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind, for example by the irrational juxtaposition of images.

 

I love that “irrational” is included in the definition. If I could say that I strive after one thing in life, it is to be irrational. Not dramatic, not someone who exaggerates. Simply not always logical or reasonable. Adventure  doesn’t happen with rationalism.

Surrealism, for me, takes life and shakes it out a bit. It shakes it free from stereotypes, from labels, from categorizations. It wrinkles the projected smoothness of racism and sexism and capitalism. It calls Life out on it’s inability to actually be organized, to actually meet expectations, to actually be figured out.

Surrealism is a moment, it’s infiltrated with curiosity. It catches one off guard, it rubs–sometimes painfully–against the comfort zone, against any and all previous knowledge and understanding. It can go without saying, because it is completely personalized.

We are individuals.

 

Okay, that’s a tad oxymoronic.

You are you. I am me. You and I are both individuals. We should interact with life in this manner, we should appreciate our uniqueness and our variety. This is surrealism to me. It is the encouragement to stop taking Life so seriously, to accept that Life only follows the rules we heap unnecessarily upon it.

So the next time you feel caged within categories or labels or expectations or rules…muse upon some Surrealism art.

 

Irrational juxtaposition can be beautiful.

 

A release of the creative potential of the unconscious mind. 

 

 

 

Peace & Blessings,

Josie

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The Mind During a Long Run

“People ask me constantly, ‘Now, what do you think about during those long runs of yours? How do you not get bored?'”

Note the use of quotations. This is something that I think most–if not all– runners say to both each other and to non-runners. I find myself expressing this often as well. The actual truth of the matter is that very few people ask me this. Runners simply lead themselves to believe that people are fascinated by what goes on in the mind during a run, but in actuality, few people care.

My mind most likely fascinates myself more than it fascinates others.

But in case any of you are curious–actually curious, not just politely curious–about what could go on in a mind during a run, this is for you. Mostly because I was pondering this very question for myself, and during my Saturday morning long run, tried to be as observant over what passed through my thoughts as possible. So here is a condensed look at the goldenness that is my mind during a 14.6 mile run this past Saturday:

Time Context Thought
-00:15 Alarm goes off; 6:43. Urghhuh
-00:14 This really isn’t even that early.
-00:08 Eating the pre-run Fig Newton and drinking water. Off-brand Fig Newtons (or shall I say, Fig Bars) are actually quite terrible. Note to self: splurge a little when it comes to the Newtons next time.

New favorite to add to the list of “Favorites”:

My favorite song to listen to when I’m eating Fig Newtons: Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love

-00:06 Putting on shoes Man, my two toenails are getting really black, there. I’m conflicted, because I’m so very proud of earning them, but I acknowledge how socially unacceptable this pride is.
-00:01 Going officially out the door Okay, okay. Start “Gone Girl” audiobook, check. Start “Map My Fitness” app, check. Lezzz doo thus!
00:01

0.2 mi

Crossing the first street Why is it that every time I cross a stress, there is inevitably a car?!
00:02

0.4 mi

Upon coming to the first stoplight Yay! The stoplight is very rarely red, this signifies it’ll be a grand run!
00:09

1.2 mi

On the Linear Trail, developed a rhythm Okay, Jos. You know that once you reach 5 miles, you can literally run forever*. You’ve already gone 1.2, which is almost to 2.5 which is just shy of 5 miles when you can run forever. Dude, you’re doing so well!

*this is a lie that I tell myself, but I’ve told myself this for so long, that it’s actually become somewhat factual.

00:15

~2 mi

Such a beautiful, gorgeous morning.
00:30

~4 mi

Hey! Look’e’there! Just 1 mile until 5.Dude, a mile is nothing!*

*That’s a lie. A mile can be a significant distance.

 00:45

~6 mi

Just passed a guy walking with headphones in;

Apparently scared the daylights out of him.

Bro. Sorry that I couldn’t wheeze out a louder “on your left!” to combat the pumping Drake that is harvesting your brain through your headphones right now. No need to get angry.
1:00

~7.4 mi

Turn around point: ingestion of a GU Espresso Love Gel I don’t understand why anyone would want to run with another person. First of all, I feel like the beauty of a run is getting to escape reality and expectations and one gets the sole opportunity to control everything around them; direction, pace, time, etc. Not so when worrying about keeping pace and time with someone.

 

Secondly, I would not have very many friends if people witnessed the way that I attempt to consume gels while running after 7 miles. For reals, more of it is plastered on my left cheek and mangled in my hair than actually makes it into my mouth.

1:15

~9.4 mi

Unexciting part in Gone Girl. Man. What should I have for breakfast? I do love oatmeal. But this is a friggen’ long run, maybe I should treat myself more.
1:30

~11.1 mi

I could run forevvvvver!
1:31

~11.2 mi

Lies. I could not run forever.
1:40

~12.2 mi

I wonder what my blog post should be about. Maybe about what I think during a long run. Oh gosh, that would be a terribly boring blog post. Most of my thoughts are thought for me, that’s the point of a podcast.
1:47

~13.11mi

Officially longest distance I have run to date. Ayyy! This is the longest I have ever run, and I feel good! I wonder if my toenails are going toofficially  fall off after this.
1:49

~13. 60mi

Okay, the excitement is a bit wearing off. I’m ready for some peanut butter and oatmeal.
1:52

~14.4mi

House is in sight. Yayayaya! Breakfast is coming soon!
1:55

~14.6mi

Through the backyard door. Whoopholla. That was fun.

 

So if you didn’t think that was exciting, then I don’t trust your judgment of what is.

Just kidding.

Most of what goes on in my mind during a run is a lie. I convince myself that if I reach this distance, I can go forever! Or hey, you’re at .6 miles, which is almost 1.2 miles, which is just a step below 2.5 miles which is halfway to 5 miles, which is the point where you can run forever! It’s also a lot of telling myself how much fun I am having, how well I am doing, how much I am enjoying the day. The more I repeat these things to myself, the more I tell myself, “Why yes, I do love hills! Give me allllll the hills!” the more it actually comes to happen.

See, running is so much more than a physical exertion. It’s a mental game. I fully believe that anyone can be a runner, regardless of most medical history, most physical abilities. It’s all born from the mind. If one can convince themselves that they are having actual fun during a run, than that’s when that person becomes a runner.

Life often is a mental game.

 

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

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Don’t Accept Exceptions

Goal setting is important. We should invest in a future that features a better version of ourselves, and goals are the host for such a vision.

This is not to say that I believe the only way to accomplish such a happy future is to make lists upon lists of goals, categorized chronologically, with specific and in-depth instructions on how to go about achieving said goal: I respect that some–okay, most–people don’t operate that way. But the goals should be at least explicitly understood if one really wants to achieve them. Even a goal as simple as making the bed every morning or as ambitious as planning to run an endurance race.

Let me tell you one of the things that absolutely kills a goal: like, wiggles in and drives the screwdriver right into the heart of the goal. It’s a sneaky devil, it’ll spring up on you before you are aware of what is happening.

Exceptions.

Say your goal is to make the bed every morning. Your vision is that you would like to de-clutter your physical environment, so that your headspace can be clearer. You believe that the simple act of making the bed every morning will not only decongest one section of the physical environment, but hopefully will also kick start motivation to de-clutter more throughout the day.

You’re diligent. Every morning, you roll out of bed, you take the effort to grab all the pillows and throw them on the ground, and you pull taunt the covers. You reach down, grab the pillows, and shove them back in place. While this doesn’t take a whole bucket of effort, it does take some and the effort it takes is further dramatized by the earliness of the morning.

You’ve been good at doing it each morning, and you’re pretty proud of your one-month-anniversary that just rolled around. But oh no! Guess what happens. A Monday. A particularly rough Monday. You got to sleep late last night and tossed and turned all, thereby rendering you a less-than well-rested individual with less-than beautiful bedhead and no aptitude for doing squat. The only effort you want to exert in morning is the effort it takes to go to the bathroom and knock back some coffee. So you decide that, despite your resolution to make the bed, just this once it’s going to be okay if you skip it.

There really isn’t anything inherently wrong with not making the bed that morning. It doesn’t signal you as a lazy, undisciplined individual who isn’t able to stick to anything. It doesn’t imply future and impending doom for the rest of the day. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with letting the bed go unmade for a day.

But making an exception subconsciously deteriorates the part of your brain that houses discipline. It says to your brain, “resilience has exceptions”. And how much easier will it be to let the bed go unmade the next time you had a less-than perfect morning? It happened already once, what’s the harm in letting it happen again? There weren’t immediate consequences the first time, it’ll be fine a second time. Three times isn’t really that much more than two, and four isn’t that drastic of a step from three.

See the pattern?

Forcing ourselves to stick with goals when we “aren’t in the mood” creates and strengthens resilience. Honestly, “not being in the mood” is the most important time to stick with a goal, because that’s where the real magic happens. I have learned to almost* look forward to the parts of my running where it really begins to hurt, or were I lose interest in the moment, because I have found rather immediate gain in resilience when I push through this.

*(please note the use of the word “almost”)

So if I can offer you any advice at all in goal planning, it is simply to press through the “pain” and the moments where you “aren’t in the mood”; exceptions rarely just happen once. Pause, acknowledge the conscious urgings to make an exception, evaluate future gains that will occur if you persevere through this moment and resist the urges to make exceptions.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

“To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No Exceptions.

-William James

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Musings upon Moment

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne


 

Alright. Real moment here.

Time terrifies me.

The idea that someday, if God wills it, I will be rendered incapable of doing the activities that I love independent of assistance, such as running or exploring, because of time is an idea that stalks me. It’s an shaggy, oversized lab-dog, bred to remind me to not stop running. The mangy canine growls in my ears constantly, telling me: “Bark! Bark bark bark!” (which roughly translates to, “Enjoy it while it lasts, because it won’t last forever!”).

I don’t mean any disrespect to our elderly, or those who are unable to fully perform the tasks they were once able to without help. I honor you, and I support you.

It’s this; that I spend so much time thinking about the future, while simultaneously trying to hold the past, that I miss out on the present. I miss moments.

What would our lives be like if we stopped thinking about the future? If we let go of the past, and stopped trying for control?

Every time I spend 5 minutes planning out my day tomorrow, every time I spend 5 minutes reflecting on my favorite moments of yesterday….those are 5 minutes that I don’t spend in the present. That’s huge. Can you imagine how much time we spend thinking about either the future or the past? Can you imagine what it would be like to live an actual 24-hour day?

No wonder we spend so much effort exclaiming, “Wow! Time really seems to be flying!” It’s like when I accidentally forget to start my GPS running app until after I’ve gone half a mile, and then suddenly the quirky British lady who narrates my run every kilometer informs me that currently I’m maintaining a 2:40 min/mile pace.

As much as I like to pretend that I could kick some serious butt running the mile in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this summer, it’s simply because I didn’t press the Start Workout button until after I had started.

That’s what we do with the Moment, too. We rush into the present without pressing the Start Time button; namely, we don’t take an active role in being fully present.

Here are what I believe to be two of the biggest obstacles that keep us from our Moment:

1. Media

The major player in rooting us in our past is the presence of so many pictures. Pictures can draw us away from King Present into the seductive clutches of Lady Nostalgia. They have the ability to say, “Look at how much fun you were having! Do you remember this? Oh, if only things were like this now. You two used to be such great friends. Remember when you were still dating that toxic boyfriend? Sure, he cheated on you, but see how happy you look here!”

I hope that you are reading between the lines in order to see what I am truly conveying.

Down with all Pictures!! Let’s go Fahrenheit 451 on their glossy pixelated butts!

 

Kidding.

 

Pictures can be a beautiful thing. They have the ability to surround us with comfort and remind us of our connections to things outside of ourselves. They give us the opportunity to travel when we could otherwise not afford either the money or the time. The past is important in helping us understand who we are in the present, and pictures can be an aide.

But they also, if we let them consume us, have the ability to suck us back in time and not allot escape. They have the ability to trap us into comparisons with others, and a cycle of discontentment.

2. Over-Planning

I include the word “over” because the planning part of the dynamic should not be inherently frowned upon. Much like the pictures. It’s the practice of over-indulgence that can be so toxic and function as a barrier from the Moment.

Planning is grand, goal setting is stellar; these are two things that I would function poorly without and both are a cause of great comfort for me. It’s beneficial to have structure in one’s life, and planning and goal-setting is one outlet for establishing a grounded structure.

But I find myself getting so wrapped up in it all. I engage in this cycle of simply “looking forward” to the next thing. This Spring Break. The summer. Next year when I study in Austria. The year after that when I get to student teach. The year after that when I go to grad school. When I finally get to thru-hike the Appalachian trail. When I get to be married and have dogs. I mean kids.

You see?

All of these things take me from my Moment. They render me discontent with how things are right now. I’m not able to appreciate fully what I have at the Moment because of the impossibly high standards I am comparing it against.


 

So what are some practical ways that we can practice immersing ourselves in the Moment?

I am a proud journal-er. I have a beautiful, dusky un-lined Moleskine journal that I write in every morning in order for my brain to meet the world in a non-confrontational space. One way that I can practice appreciating  the Moment is by starting each entry with “Today is Monday, March 14th. That is the day that I am in right now, and the day that I will return to after this entry”. This declaration of my intention to return to the Moment gives me space to travel away from it. Because it helps my state of mind and being to process the events of the previous day and to goal-set for the future. Ultimately I must return to the present, and by stating my intention it becomes much easier.

I believe also taking time to describe the Moment is beneficial. When you find yourself becoming distracted with thoughts of either the future or the past, take the intentional, mindful time to describe your surroundings. What things do you hear right now?What are some smells? What are your thoughts? What’s your favorite part about right now? Call yourself out on your inability to remain in the present. Keep yourself accountable. Find the balance between past and too-much-past, and future and way-too-much-future.

 

Take heart. The Moment is here and real, and waiting for you. You don’t need to stay in your Past, you are the reincarnate of your Past. You take it with you, there’s no need to cling to it. Your future is going to come inevitably, however prepared you are for it.

 

Press Start Time when you start the Moment; don’t wait until you’ve already begun.

 

 

Trust me, it’ll just render you hopelessly confused about why you’ve suddenly gotten so fast.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie