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But It’s Daylight and It’s Today

If you are in the market for some wholesome life motivation, I highly recommend checking out The Happy Pears YouTube channel. These Irish twins are fostering a movement for wholesome living in Ireland, down to the bare bones of feeding your body with things that makes it happy from a neurotransmitter level. They spend their days leading 4:30am sunrise dips in the Irish Sea, creating vlogs on sustainable living featuring my heroes such as Rich Roll and Julie Platt, and hosting whole foods cooking sessions that show how easy it is to eat a plant-based diet and the pleasure of Nature’s candy.

Best, and perhaps most importantly, the videos they create are so full of happiness and joy. It’s goes deeper than just a naturally optimistic personality, the lifestyle they live yields this kind of joy.

After a long, early run this morning and making my way to one of my favorite coffee shops for a brunch of toasted, flakey Veggie and Feta Quiche with a steaming cup of Columbia coffee, I settled in to watch a couple of their videos.

I was in a contented state of mind, stemming from a combination of a much needed off-day from work, a paycheck reaffirming the need for a day off, and a long run tucked under the belt. I have projects in mind for the day but no timetable or commitments, which suits my very flakey commitment-abhorring self.

Today, to put it in culturally idiomatically terms, this world is my oyster.

In one of The Happy Pear videos, Stephan Flynn casually uttered a phrase that resonated with my soul and gave me the shivers. It was the point in the video after they had led a dawn swim session and were powering through recording hours of podcast material. Still smiling, still full of joy despite being awake for ions longer than the people they had to interact with, Flynn said:

“But it’s daylight and it’s today”.

Whew. I got the shivers simply typing that.

It’s daylight and it’s today…

It’s so beautiful; this phrase captures the essence of living a motivated life that is full of the pursuit of passion and full of hope. It’s a less cliché and more personalized version of the idiomatic “make the most out of every moment”, but essentially reiterates the principle of purpose-driven life.

After listen to the Irish-accent-laden phrase reverberate a couple times in the depths of my soul, I suddenly sat up and thought to myself, “This would make a stellar tattoo!” This was very quickly shut down by the rational side of Josie, who then reminded the sporatic “live in the moment” side of Josie of the silliness of this quote during those 12 or so hours in which it is not, in fact daylight. Also, spontaneous Josie, what would Mother say.

I often wake up pre-dawn in order to go out for a run, not so much because I am pressed for time or am trying to beat the morning traffic, but more so because there’s something about breathing air that has just began to wake up that brings stillness to my ever-rushed mind. There’s something about witnessing the sleepy stumbling of rabbits and the stretching of squirrels, preparing for a day of darting into traffic and scaring the soul out of pedestrians and park-frequenters.  In these moments I am part of the process.

An unfortunate side-effect to this preference for early mornings is that by the time the run is complete and breakfast is over, it’s 9:30, I’ve been awake for 4 hours, and I am suddenly extremely sleepy.

Mid-morning naps are so temptingly easy when one doesn’t have to work for a couple more hours. But it really is a waste of time, because it’s daylight and it is today. The world is open to me, how dare I frivolously splurge my time on slumber!

Not only does this phrase give me motivation to pursue what makes me happy as long as it is daylight and it is today, it also gives me reassurance of rest. Honestly, it can be exhausting to continually feel obligated to “make the most” out of everything. Sometimes I just want to lay down and prop my feet on the wall, let the blood drain from my ankles, and read The Lost World by Michael Crichton, letting my mind wander from thoughts of progressive rationality and musings on the status of humanity to thinking about why the stupid dinosaur hunters think they can go against a raptor unprepared and live.

With the mindset of it being daylight and it being today, there is promise that once the sun goes down and the day begins to set, there ceases to be an obligation to make every moment be extremely worthwhile.

Beauty exists in juxtaposition, and this phrase captures that beauty on a implied level.

Don’t waste your daylight; don’t let your day be dictated by impulses such as sleep or laziness. But find rest in knowing that those things will come, too.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

 

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An “Open Letter” To The Person Who Honked At Me During A Run

I hate rant-y posts. They make me feel uncomfortable, as if the blogger were a seven-headed, scimitar-wielding, morning-breath Dragon Demon coming up against a voiceless butterfly. It’s not a fair fight. The blogger gets to say whatever the heck fire they want, without any challenge or without any feedback. Who wants to read that?

On that note, I prefer to refer to how this post is attempting to come across as as more “instructional” than “rant-y”.

Today has been a wonderful, beautiful, blissful day. For some reason, loving Mother Nature decided to penetrate the horrid Kansas humidity with a high-70’s, breezy kind of day. Making the absolute most out of this anomaly, I strapped on Ann the Trusty Trail Shoe, loaded The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window and Disappeared, and powered out the door for a Friday morning long run. I decided to just run how my body wanted me to run, respecting the sore spots in my joints from my last Friday night trail half marathon and being aware at the autonomic processes taking place through my body. This is a wonderful way to run, it has the tendency to transport me to an almost different reality.

The stretch between my house and the trails runs along a pretty busy street, but I’m almost entirely oblivious of the enormous amounts of cars whipping past me (in a safe way, don’t worry Mother). I don’t feel self-conscious, I don’t feel as if there were pitying, sweat-free eyes tumbling over my slightly-sweaty, running self. I’m listening to a British man narrate a story about a crotchety old man named Alan, of course I have better things to do than worry about what I look like.

My bangs are slicked back in a sweat-plaster to my forehead, my blue-and-pink bird bandana has slipped down my head a tad, my cheeks are over-glowing with the exhilaration of exercise. But I really could care less, because imaging how I look is the least of my occupation.

I’m in the zone.

So yeah, I’m plugging away on this wonderful breezy run, listening to tales of geriatric mastery of Swedish con artists. I hit mile 10 and come back to the home stretch from the trails to my house. I’m still in the zone; smelling the breeze wafting scents of rose and baking bread, matching my heart beat with my stride, concentrating on my form and challenging my arms to be as parallel as possible. I’m driving the thigh, I’m relaxing my shoulders, I’m lengthening my stride and increasing stride turn-over for a last mile surge.

When what do you know.

Some crazy kid honks at me.

I’m sure this car, traveling much too fast for me to catch the identity of the honker, contains a person of immense love to me. It’s probably some one who I love and respect, maybe even my best friend in the entire world. But it doesn’t really matter who it was, because the only thing I felt was intense and severe hatred for this honker. It scares the daylights out of me, I lose my rhythm, my stride goes to crap, and I miss the part in my audiobook whereupon Alan and Jonas open the suitcase and reveal the contents of the swanky drug dealer.

It wasn’t that I was in the way, or doing anything stupid. I was running with concentrated form on the sidewalk, the pedestrian safe zone. They simply recognized me and then…what? Wanted me to recognize them, stop my run, start running after them in order that we could have a nice lovely chat about the weather and the tide charts?

I can be a “touchy” runner, I have accepted this. This is a combination of a). being in a zone and being so disinclined to being interrupted from said zone b). being a tad hungry, because I run on an empty stomach before a meal and c). because running makes one uncomfortable, that’s the point of running, and therefore my needs are never being met when I’m running. I’m sweating, I’m usually thirsty, I’m usually hungry, I usually need to slam my legs up a wall and let the blood drain from my ankles…the point of running is to get to this state of discomfort.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to smile at other runners or acknowledge the cyclists that politely race past me. I am a polite runner. But I still reserve the right to get frustrated when I have to stop every 1/3 of a mile at a stoplight, or when a car pulls waaaaay over the crosswalk to wait for the parallel car to pass, such to make me have to step off the sidewalk and pass behind the car. I’m in the zone, and I love the zone and I cherish the zone. And it makes me really frustrated to be ripped out of the zone so carelessly.

What did honking even do? I am not at this fancy cocktail party, where I will get subconsciously upset if someone I know doesn’t acknowledge that they don’t know me. I am running. I don’t care that I know you. I can say hi to you in a better situation.

I apologize for the undercutting rants (they might have been more surfaced than how I envisioned this going). I hope you can sympathize with my frustration over being out of the zone. But much more so than simple empathy, I hope that this was instructional. If I weren’t a runner, I probably wouldn’t know that honking could be so bothersome. It wouldn’t have been something I would think about if I hadn’t been on the receiving end of the honk.

I don’t hate the honker for his or her (the identity still remains unclear) ignorance over my abhorrence of honking. I hate that it happened, but I don’t hate the person. Heck, it is probably some super jolly pal of mine who might be reading this post right now, feeling like the scum of the earth because they just wanted to offer a friendly wave.

Look, dear beloved anonymous honker, I don’t hate you. I don’t understand you, but I definitely don’t hate you. You are a wonderful, good-hearted, well-meaning human being. I’m just in the zone. Please, please, please, please, if you have any respect for me or any love at all, please refrain from honking the living daylights out of every part of my soul next time we pass shoe to tire.

Unless I’m doing something unknowingly stupid, the horn is not my friend even if you are.

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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The Greatest Gift You Can Give

Alright, so it might not be the greatest gift you can give someone…I mean, birth, salvation, a new puppy, a copy of Fight Club on Blu-Ray…those are probably greater gifts. But there is something that ranks pretty closely.

Before I give you the answer, let me show you how I arrived at this conclusion and dangle you through this post. Sorry, friend.

As a highly-analytically-minded individual, I often enjoy shouting “WHY WHY WHY” at myself whenever I observe something troubling or unsettling in my mind, or simply whenever I feel like there is a better, deeper answer.

I was at the bank the other day trying to wire EUR 550 from my account to the account of the place I will be living in Austria. Because the phrase “wire euros from dollars internationally” don’t seem to resonate with any part of me, I ended up having to go to the bank three times after failed wires, additional wiring fees, and unreadable accounts.

The wire wasn’t going through, and to my absolute horror, no one was able to tell me why.

 “Hmm…well, the numbers are all correct, it really should be working”

“Yeah, we checked the numbers, it’s all here. It should have worked.”

“Well, there is one spelling mistake, maybe that’s what happened. The numbers were correct. Should have worked.”

 Well, dearest new-bank-friends, it obviously didn’t work no matter how correct the numbers were. I don’t think one spelling mistake will make it all appear. So I got really frustrated, especially after the second time.

Coming home in sloppy tears, I sat down to observe the feelings that were raging beneath my not-so-composed face. Was I sobbing because I was just frustrated it didn’t work? Was it because I was stressed that the deadline is in 9 days to get this transferred? Was I angry because I didn’t want to pay the additional fees that result when things fail and I have to resend things? Is it that money means that much to me? Was I anxious because I didn’t want to be a burden to my Austrian landlords and have this stigma of “inadequate American fool” attached to me before they met me?

After a couple more bouts of shouting “WHY WHY WHY” at myself, I arrived at the conclusion that It was because I didn’t feel as if I were being taken serious. This was not just the bank’s fault, or the billions of people I was emailing in order to figure out the problem, although I didn’t feel as if they were taking me very serious. It was that I wasn’t taking me serious.

My self-talk went something like this:

 “Josie, you aren’t old enough to know how to do this.”

“Josie, this is wayyyy over your head, you don’t know anything about finance.”

“Josie, you’re not a professional, how could you argue with these people?”

“Josie, you shouldn’t bother your Austrian landlords, they have enough on their plate to deal with Americans who can’t figure things out.”

 It wasn’t that I was tearing myself down, I wasn’t hating on myself or despising myself, I was simply being what I thought was “truthful about the situation on hand”. But it was me not taking me serious. I had been subconsciously treating myself like a poser, so that’s how I felt.

And I realized something; one of my main motivators in my life is to be taken serious. And one of the greatest gifts someone can give me personally is to take me serious. On the same note, the greatest insult someone can pay me is to make me feel small and insignifcant and not taken seriously.

So much feeds into this. I don’t get frustrated when things don’t work; I get frustrated when people don’t take my problems at face value, when they make me feel as if I were inadequate.

I used to think that all I wanted in life was to be independent. Why do I sometimes feel claustrophobic in the house I share with my parents? Why do I sometimes take it out on them? My parents operate on a laissez-faire parenting style now that I am in college. They let me be independent, they don’t make me check in with them, they don’t tell me what to do (besides the dishes, which I can respect). I have independence, but yet I still sometimes feel frustration and I sometimes feel restless.

“WHY WHY WHY”

It’s because living with my parents while my friends live on their own in their own apartments that they spend hideous amounts of paychecks on rent for, if I’m not careful and mindful, it can make me treat myself like a poser. It can make me say, “Jos, you’re still a kid”. And that makes me antsy.

The desire for independence is a mask; I don’t think that it is the fundamentally core motivator for anyone, I don’t see people wanting, desiring whole-heartedly to be entirely left to their own devices and to only rely upon themselves all the time. I see people who, yeah, want to be able to make their own decisions and live their life without being dependent upon others, but more want it to be believed that they can do this if they wanted to.

So here it is, what you’ve waited for since you first laid eyes on the title of this post; ranking just behind giving someone Fight Club or the gift of life is the gift of taking someone serious.

I think that’s why “playing pretend” and “playing house” is such an appealing past time for kiddos. We all want to be treated with respect, we all want to be treated as if we can do life if we want to, on our own terms. We want to be believed in. But we want to stop telling ourselves we’re just playing.

So I have to be really cautious, and you should too. Because I know, I really know how devastating it can be to deny someone this. To wave someone off as being too needy, or too emotional, or too dependent.

Don’t do this to people. Especially don’t do this to yourself.

You and I are both adequate for this activity of being human.

 

(also I got the EUR 550 wired to Austria [insert heel-click here])

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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Prep + Priority = You Can Do Anything

“Over-Preparation + Prioritization = You Can Do Anythingsums up this entire post, so if you have anything better to be doing with your time–feeding the cat, swatting the mosquito off your arm, returning your books to the library–I recommend you go ahead and take one more final glance at the title of this article, feel encouraged, and then proceed onwards to accomplishing your tasks.

But if it is a lazy summer Friday for you, with nothing better to do than pitter through my somewhat lengthy musings on humanity, dear reader, I say read on.

There is a weird phenomenon that occurs in my life that I have recently been made aware of. The day sometimes tends to go better for me when I work a double shift at the Bakehouse, say 10am-8pm, then when I have a normal shift, a 1pm-8pm. A 5 mile run sometimes is monstrously more difficult and taxing than a 13 mile run. Reading a long, long Ken Follet Pillars of the Earth-esque novel tends to go a lot faster than the 150 paged Death with Interruptions book that I am reading currently*.

[*attempting with difficulty to read currently]

What? Why is this? Mentally, clearing tables that customers should have cleared themselves* and refilling the napkin dispenser because people tend to take massively unnecessary amounts of napkins when they really just need one is easier to do for 7 hours than for 10.

[*#it’sacoffeeshop #IAMNOTYOURWAITRESS]

Physically, a 13 mile run is more difficult than it’s impish cousin, the 5 mile jog.  Intellectually, it’s going to be harder to digest hundreds of more pages of complex plot.

So why is the day better, the run easier, the reading shorter?

I’ve come to believe it’s because of the amount of priority I am putting on the task.

When I have to work a double shift, I go to bed earlier. I make sure to have a reward waiting for myself at the end of the shift, a delicious dinner or long, bubbly bath with an episode of Game of Thrones and my Moonlight Forrest candle powering away next to me, which illuminates the bubbles in this glorious scent of washed pine. I am mentally prepared, I have the expectation that the day is going to be a long one.

When I have my long run waiting for me for the next morning, I eat a higher-carb, nutritionally dense dinner. I do yoga circuits and roll out before bed, making sure that I’m as loose and stretched out as possible. I download all the podcasts or audiobooks I need for the 2 hours that I will be engaged with nature and my ‘buds.

When I check out a 900+ paged book from the library with the stubborn desire of finishing the novel within a satisfactory amount of time, I make sure to mentally set apart large chunks of time in the upcoming weeks to attack it. When I sit down at these chunks of time, I have a fresh brewed pot of French-pressed coffee keeping me company and my feet snuggled into a mountain of pillows.

This phenomenon of the harder thing is easier occurs for two possible reasons:

1). I am mentally over-prepared for the arduousness of the task, therefore it is easier than expected.

2). I am prioritizing the task.

Therefore, I have devised a simple yet profoundly effective formula for you, dear reader, on the nature of accomplishing great and mighty things:

Monstrous amounts of over-preparation + prioritization = unbelievable success on overwhelmingly lofty goals.

I never, ever thought that I could run half marathons and enjoy it at the same time, despite being a runner since middle school. I mean, heck, I remember when we went from racing the 1 mile in 7th grade to the 2 miler in 8th grade, and that was a huge deal.

But then suddenly, I made running a priority in my life. I read books on running, listened to podcasts on running, watched videos of running. And I personally overprepared, too; I followed training plans until they became too easy and generalized, and then I devised my own to see how much I could push myself. I over-prepared as much, as much as possible. Why stop at 6 hill repeats, when I could go just one more? Why stop at 10 repeats, when I could do just one more? Because of this marriage of priority with over-preparation, I really, truly enjoy running 13.1+ miles, and I am able to run them relatively fast*

[*I once was given $50 for winning the female half marathon in Leavenworth, KS. I think this qualifies me to be a professional half-marathoner**]

[**I have just been informed that this is not true in any sense of the phrasing.]

I am going to spend a year of my life living on my own in Austria, taking German classes and managing my own finances. Despite the insurmountable uncertainties, I decided it’s something I wanted to do, so I have been over-preparing myself as much as possible in order to accomplish this seemingly lofty goal of studying abroad in a foreign, other-language-speaking country. I independently filled out all the necessary forms before the due dates, obtained permits and visas and passports and checks and all the whatnot. I enrolled in German classes and German programs and the like. I wired money, and rewired money when that all failed; I contacted the necessary people and found the necessary tickets. This is not serving to brag about how independent I am, namely showing  how I have been over-preparing for full independency next year by practice.

And I prioritize. I am committed to learning German, because it’s going to make my year much better. After a shift at work, I sit down and work on German for 30 minutes. Before bed, I again work on German. And while I am doing this, my phone is put away, the music is off, the distractions are limited.

Over-prep + prioritization = you can do anything.

Do you want to be a yoga instructor? Do you want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail? Do you want to write a novel? Do you want to become more socially aware? Do you want to become a better reader? Find what you want, the sole thing that you want this present season of your life to embody. Search for what you want, and then apply the two principles to it.

If you prioritize it for long enough, put enough pressure and stress and make it so important to your life, then you have such a chance of success.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

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It Takes Discipline to Skip a Run

I hate rest days.

My rest days usually fall on Saturday after my Friday morning long run. It works well as I have to work most of Saturday, so going for a run isn’t very feasible anyways. Even though I’m not just lying on the couch eating Kale Chips and watching Game of Thrones, I still feel…unaccomplished. Lazy. And when those feelings arise, I tend to lose touch with myself fully, I become slightly disconnected. When this happens, I eat more than I’m hungry for, sleep more than is productive, have less energy than I usually do. It’s because going for a run is my chance to connect with myself and tune in, and then those good practices and habits fall into place afterwards.

There is definitely a correlation between going for a really hard, challenging run and having a kick-butt day for me. One can get into all of the “rise in neurotransmitters” or “metabolic producing hormones” (which I just made up) or “anti-inertiatic diplomacy” (again, made up), but it can just be summed up in the like: most times you gotta suffer a bit to ball a lot.

You are welcome to use that if you want, it’s public domain here.

So, as a general rule, if there is an opportunity to go for a run I am going to take it, because I know how wonderful it feels afterwards. Because I have shown myself and told myself and reinforced for myself the rewards of discipline.

Discipline looks like making yourself go for a run after work when it’s 100000% Kansan humidity despite having steamed milk chunked on your elbows from pouring lattes all day, right?

Discipline is saying no to hanging out with your friends after work because you have your long run scheduled for the next morning, right?

Discipline is denying yourself a third helping of campfire s’mores because you know that it’ll just slow you down for the next day, right?

…not no, but definitely not always.

During my last long run, after much musing (because there’s not a whole lot else to do) I realized something important: in a way, it can take  discipline to say no to running after a long shift. It can take discipline to hang out with your friends until the wee hours of the morning when you know that you have a long run in the morning. Not sure that discipline really applies alllll that much to the s’mores example, but the basic principle is still present.

It is  acknowledging the consequences of an action and then making an informed decision that will benefit you in someway, whether it be the harder choice to make or not, that the practice of discipline enforces.

It actually can take discipline to not go for a run after work. Let me explain:

I have found that the more time I take off between each run, the harder the next run will be. A Monday run will be much, much easier if I also have run on Sunday. But I also know that my body is unfortunately not infallible, and it needs rest and recovery. Ultimately, if I run every single day, it’s going to decrease my pace times and my performance simply because my body needs time off to rebuild.

I know that by taking this run off, the next one will be harder. I have acknowledged the consequences of my actions and have concluded that it will benefit me more to take a rest day because my body will be able to rebuild even though my next run will be a bit sluggish.

The morning long run will be easier if I go to bed earlier. For me, the “easy way” is simply saying no to my pals and hitting the hay early. But by going through with hanging out with my buddies, I acknowledge that I’m going to have to work a bit harder in the morning. But I am also going to improve my social intelligence and happiness levels. It is more important to me to have strong friendships than a really easy morning long run. So I guess discipline also revolves around prioritization.

I think there are many, many possible outlooks for discipline. This pressure on what it really means to be disciplined is not an excuse, however. I can’t tell myself, “Oh, I’m going to skip this run for the third day in a row because I’m disciplining myself to hang out with my friends”; I’m more posing the idea that one shouldn’t beat oneself up for “not having discipline”, because discipline can be found in a variety of things.

 

  1. Acknowledge the consequences of the action and also what it takes to choose either option

  2. Select which option houses the most benefit, whether that choice be the “easier” or “harder” to make

 

And finally:

3. Stop beating yourself up because discipline is not everything.

Maybe this entire post is heresy and I’ve got it all wrong. But I love placing pressure on societal norms and perspectives, so here ya go.

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie

 

 

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The Daunting Art of Meditation

 

If you are interested in much of the literature and podcasts that I am, you’ve probably been bombarded with the idea of how beneficial and absolutely necessary meditation is to a well-balanced life.

This is overwhelming.

I  understand that meditation helps one to connect with onesself and the surrounding world , but the idea of spending 20-40 minutes in quiet, contemplative form is not entirely realistic. I mean, heck, that’s the ideal time for a Powernap. Priorities.

I am an efficient person. Wait, let me rephrase this. I try my absolute hardest to be an efficient person. Since I am unable to multitask well, I have to skimp on things that waste too much time. So therefore, sitting still and simply “checking in” is not an alluring concept for me. And maybe this applies to you, too.

I listened to The Rich Roll Podcast episode from October 22 on my long run this past Friday, and often as it happens, Rich and Julie were discussing the power and need of meditation. The way in which it was being described made me realize something;

Meditation is individual. That’s the whole point.

Therefore, it extends past the traditional idea of sitting still for upwards of an hour concentrating all focus on inhaling and exhaling. Because that’s not attending to the individual.

The point of meditation is to check in with yourself, spend some time exploring your physical, emotional, mental, and intellectual psyches, see the state of the subconscious and conscious in your mind. Yes, for some people, this can only be explored upon a strict and unrelenting practice of observing the breath and visualizing the body in solitude and quiet. But for some, this can be achieved in different, more manageable, more appealing ways.

I realized on my run this week that I already have a meditation practice.

Every morning immediately following breakfast while I still have a steaming mug of dark roast, French press coffee entertaining my focus, I read a chapter in my Bible and then pull out my Moleskine journal. I spend upwards of 20 minutes writing about my previous day, what I’m grateful for, what went well yesterday, the upcoming day’s events, my goals, my disciplines, what makes me happy, people to pray for, my own prayers, etc. When I have to open at the coffee shop I work at, I don’t get to do this practice, and I have experienced a significant consequence of omitting this routine.

This is my individual form of mediation. I check in with my physical self–how did the morning run go? What upcoming races am I excited for? Am I ready for them?

I check in with my emotional self. Am I angry at anyone? Am I frustrated with anyone? Why am I experiencing the things I am experiencing? Have I experience closure with those who are leaving? How am I dealing with this?

I check in with my mental self. Am I feeling stressed about anything? How am I dealing with this stress? What do I need to do to manage this?

I check in with my intellectual self. What am I  curious about? What do I want to learn more about? What do I need to explore more thoroughly? How do I become better?

Don’t be scared by “mediation”; it’s not about conforming to one specific practice, or adjusting your own practice to mirror something else. It’s entirely about you. It’s about your personal ability to connect with yourself and what’s around you. So get excited, because it can be journaling, swinging, sitting still, laying down, jumping rope…the possibilities are endless.

A couple of exceptions:

I have found that meditation does not work at it’s peak when one attempts to multitask. For instance, “meditative running” does not = meditation. You are unable to tap into your mental, emotional, and intellectual states because you are almost entirely consumed with feedback coming from the physical state.

Meditative eating does not = meditation. You miss out on the full pleasure of food because you are attempting to tap into too many other states, and not simply enjoying the sensation of the food you are eating.

 

Peace and Blessings,

Josie


Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.

-Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

 

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We Respect Those Who Respect Us

“We are sun and moon, dear friend; we are sea and land. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is: each the other’s opposite and complement.” 

–Hermann Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund

 

This week was spent in musing over why it is that there are some people who are just easy to respect and why there are those who make respecting them so tantalizingly difficult.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to envision that one person who, no matter your personal mood at the time of the  encounter, will automatically command your full attention and your full respect. For myself, there is one wonderful coworker that I will go out of my way in order to make sure her needs are met; I will stay later, will work harder, simply to make sure that she has an easier time with things.

On the other hand I have a coworker who I don’t try to make things harder for, but I don’t jump to exert much more effort than absolutely necessary regarding his personal sanity.

Neither of these instances have much to do with me, really. I don’t want to go out of my way to serve one coworker because I’m a good person. And I don’t spend extra time and effort not serving another because I’m lazy or malicious.

No, my treatment of my coworkers stems from more than simply how good of a person I am; it dives into how respected I feel by the coworker. Because honestly, it’s quite easy to respect those who respect us.

The coworker who I would go out of my way for would–and does, quite often–go out of her way for me. She stays later, works harder, suffers more simply so that I don’t have to. This level of respect inspires me to search ways to return the favor.

So friends, I would like to offer you Humanity’s Musing of the Week:

If I respect those who respect me, than this implies others will respect me if I respect them. So how do people want to be respected?

For all I know, my difficult coworker could be trying his hardest to show me respect. He could be exerting exponential efforts to respect me in his own way; the point is, that however that way might be (or might not be), it isn’t how I personally receive respect. So it doesn’t actually count.

I don’t feel respected when others put me in a box. When others try to “figure me out” and then cage me into categories of identification. I don’t want to be “The Vegan” or “The Feminist” or “The RA”, because those boxes disable me from independence. It most often happens that I don’t get to personally set the definitions of each box, they come pre-established.

Example: I consider myself to be a runner. My description of this category is a part of life that helps me escape from reality; being a runner enables me to lose myself in an inspiring and challenging podcast, to see more of the world at a faster pace, to isolate my tendency to control with an activity that allows me to do such.

Often I feel that the label of a runner brings implications of weight loss, or that one wants a toned body as fast as possible. That running isn’t enjoyable, it’s not meant to bring joy, it’s simply a means to a thinner me. Thus, when some categorize me as a “runner”, I know they don’t understand exactly what it means to me to be a runner. Because of such, I feel caged within the category, my individual reasons for loving running are slightly compressed. I don’t feel respected when people categorize me. Instead of being boxed as a runner, I would feel much more respected–if absolutely needed to be put into a category–by being “one who runs”. It seems picky; it seems perhaps a bit “too technical”. But, hey, it’s how I feel respect; I get to be however technical I want.

This is because my version of respect includes allowing me to function independently of other’s expectations and of societal norms. I feel respected when others allow me to be whatever Josie I am in the mood to be without making me feel as if I were some sort of dramatic anomaly instead of the constant work in progress that I actually am. Some make me feel as if I need to settle in order to allow them to effectively keep me in categories.

But I acknowledge that this kind of respect is not universal.

Not everyone wants to be left to this kind of independence; there are some that function so much better when they have the guidance and structure from others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it doesn’t make one needy or dependent. They simply interact with the world differently.

Some feel respected when they are categorized because it shows them that they are respected enough to belong to a group.

Some feel respected when others encourage them to “go out of their comfort zones”; I personally feel disrespected when others don’t allow my “no to be a no”.

Some feel respected when they are called out on things, because it shows them that you are listening.

Some feel respected when others ask to share their burdens; others feel disrespect, because they assume that you don’t deem them capable of handling such a burden alone.

What’s the point?

It kind of seems as if there is no way to please anyone, doesn’t it?

Not at all, friends! Can you imagine how boring life would be, if we all liked to be treated the same way? There would be no individuality! Part of the fun comes from observing and figuring out how others individually like to be respected, and then applying that upon them.

Challenge:

 

Today, tomorrow, this month, the rest of your life; whatever time period you would like to set for yourself: try to remember that people want to be respected in the way that they feel respect. They don’t want to be respected in the way that you feel respect.

Therefore this takes awareness and observation. Respecting someone takes more than introspection, it goes beyond knowing yourself to knowing others.

Find, maybe through trial and error, maybe simply through asking them, how someone feels respect.

Once you make someone feel respected–and they feel as if you took the time to understand respect from their perspective–then they will almost certainly extend the same courtesy toward you.

 

And what a beautiful world in which we would live if this were the cycle of humanity.

 

 

Peace & Blessings,

Josie

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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