Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Inventory

This year was a very unconventional Christmas for me. I did some Christmas baking and gave plates to friends and coworkers. That means that loved ones in Glendora didn't get a plate.

My parents came up here, so I got to spend some time with them. We hung out at my grandma's on Wednesday night. I went with my dad to Mo Bettah and Swig (mom stayed at grandma's to see the twins) on Thursday night. I went to PF Chang's and the Harry Potter Symphony with my dad on Friday. Dad and I went to Smashburger and saw Fantastic Beasts on Saturday (mom was running errands), and I helped mom prepare a little bit for dinner. I helped cook for Christmas dinner on Sunday. I Face Timed two of my brothers for opening their gifts, and got to talk to the other one on the phone. We hung out and went bowling on Monday. They left on Tuesday and got home on Wednesday. It was a short and good trip, I think, for everyone.

Every year I make a list of what I got. And every year I explain that it's not because I'm materialistic. For whatever reason, I like to make lists. I make to-do lists. I make lists of places I've been or want to go. I make lists of restaurants that are close by. I even make lists of gifts I gave to people (the past few years of Christmas are all in one notepad). I just make lists. It's who I am I guess.

So here goes!

From boss 1: a Megaplex gift card
From boss 2: a Starbucks gift card
From Pam, a coworker: black gloves and a story
From Jeff, a coworker: a Bath & Body Works gift card
From Greg, a coworker: a family card
From Claire, my tenant: a red velvet Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtlet

From Brittney F: a cute necklace, Swig gift card, and stove top potpourri
From Allyn: a homemade cookie mix and recipe in a Mason jar
From Jon & Kjarinda: mini coconut banana bread loaf
From Raytch: a cake pop maker and all the necessary utensils (measuring cups, etc.), Ritter macaroon bar, and clotted cream and jam!
From Patrick: Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool on Blu-Ray, Abbey Road on vinyl, See's nuts & chews box, valance clips (couldn't find the right ones anywhere), bamboo cutting boards, glowing arm bands for running, extra wide headbands for workouts

From grandpa Gabe: card and money
From grandpa Mike: card and money
From grandma Carrie: card and Cinemark gift card
From Carmen: a card
From parents: money, lava lamp Bluetooth speaker, candy, nail polishes, a magnification pocket mirror, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, pumpkin candle, naughty/nice list pads, In-N-Out gift card
From Jared: a Harry Potter sweater. It is amazing. A. Mazing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

My 2016 Christmas Letter

My mom used to do annual updates on our family—things we did, new and exciting things on the horizon, talents we had developed, that kind of thing. If I wrote a Christmas letter (if people actually wanted to read that much about me), this is what I’d say.

While a lot of people have said 2016 was rough, I feel it’s all in how you look at it. I also tend to go day by day, or even on a weekly scale. I find that once in a while, like maybe four times a year, I’ll say, “It’s been a rough week,” or “this week has been a doozy.” Some years there’s been enough bad, especially toward the end, where it does sort of taint the feeling of the year.

But this was not that year. This was a good year. It was mostly because I decided to make it that way.

This year was my first full year in my condo, and I didn’t have anything major break or need repair. It's been an adventure with five different tenants in a year and four months. 

This year I read lots of personal development books and have dabbled off and on in running health challenge groups via Facebook. I loved providing support in helping people achieve their goals. I accomplished my own goal in running my third half marathon in May. 

This year in January, I started an online course to become a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. 

This year in May, I bought a plane ticket to England. I skipped down the hall at school and told everyone. 

This year on May 28, I became a certified personal trainer. I didn’t think I’d make it; I stink at anatomy, and the test was hard. But good things happen to those who work for it.

This year in June, I started working as a personal trainer at the gym I’ve gone to for the past 6.5 years. It was a cool experience, but short lived. I voluntarily resigned in December because I couldn’t meet sales expectations. Still, I got some good experience and gained the courage to train people on my own in the future.



This year on July 1, I started a new position as executive secretary for a local durable medical equipment company called Alpine Home Medical. I work for great men and with great people. I feel blessed. The schedule has been a big adjustment for me. I still get up at 6am, but it’s to work out instead of to go to work. Getting done at 5pm leaves you with a lot less time to do what you need and love to do. 

This year in September, I went skydiving with my uncle (who’s 9 months older than me). It wasn’t what I expected, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. Mind you, that is mostly due to discomfort and not due to fear. I wasn’t afraid.



This year in November, I spent 10 awesome days in the U.K.—seven in England, 2 in Scotland, 1 in Dublin. I was able to bring my best friend along as my tour guide. It was beautiful and amazing and all the things a first foreign trip should be. 



This year in December, I learned how to wash my hair less (and embrace the dirtiness). I stayed in Utah instead of going home for Christmas. My parents came up to Utah. I took my dad to the Utah Symphony for the live performance of the Harry Potter music, accompanying the first film. It was beautiful. 


This year, I learned a lot about what I’m capable of. This year, I re-learned that I can be happy. I can do the things that I enjoy, and I can accomplish the goals that I set. I can live fearlessly. I’ve learned the importance of self-love. My faith has been tested, but I think I’m back on the right track and am learning to trust my Creator to lead the way.

This year, I changed. I grew. And that’s really all it takes to make it a good year.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Those I Left Behind

A lot of people ask me if I miss teaching.

I don’t think much about it right when they ask. My answer comes almost instantly and without restraint: no.

I don’t miss being told all the ways I’m failing. I don’t miss not being told thank you. I don’t miss lesson planning on Sundays and being told my class was boring. I don’t miss making seating charts. I don’t miss grading essays. I don’t miss the excuses from parents. I don’t miss lies from students. I don’t miss the teacher “trainings.” I don’t miss the early mornings. I don’t miss testing. I don’t miss bad attitudes. I don’t miss teenage drama. I don’t miss seeing teens making out, and I don’t miss hearing them swear. I don’t miss the bells or the drills. I don’t miss trying to convince them that reading and writing are important in “real life” but also in their personal lives. I don’t miss the noise. I don’t miss the rude and disrespectful ones.

Here are some things I do miss, though: Vacations. Seeing a student work really hard. Hearing a student tell me that s/he didn’t used to like English, but now they love it. Hearing the occasional ‘thank you’ or ‘this is my favorite class!’ Laughing at the many ridiculous things students would do or say, sometimes not until after they left class. Reading the occasional intelligent thought. Watching them perform at talent shows. Asking kids hard life questions and making them really uncomfortable. Pushing kids to think. Having kids laugh at my nerdy jokes. Making them laugh during Faculty Follies. Getting some sweet and thoughtful cards and gifts. Showing kids that their lives really aren’t that hard (read: Holocaust). Witnessing them realize that some books are good. Trying to show them that they’ll just have to work harder at some things, but they’ll get there.

One of the biggest things I miss, though? The community.

I had dessert with some teacher friends last night. I miss the feeling that these people knew exactly what I dealt with every single day. Teaching was hard. But at least everyone around me felt the same way. There was an unmatched support system between teachers. A knowing nod. A sympathetic glance. A supportive sounding board. Equal frustration. Just that comforting feeling that you were not alone in the battle of every class period, every day, every week for 40 weeks. We linked arms and marched forward in strength to the battlefield of the classroom, picking each other up when we fell. And that is one of the greatest parts of teaching that they don’t tell you when you go to school.

That’s the part that they don’t tell you you’ll miss when you leave: the friends you won’t find anywhere else.


My heart is with those of you in the field that I so readily abandoned. You are doing a great work. Just know you’ve got someone in the stands cheering you on. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We Love Us

To the lady who judged my family: we’re all broken.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, where to start… what to say… I’ll ask this first: Have you ever made mistakes?

Well, unless you’re Jesus, who I don’t think bothers reading my blog, you probably HAVE, in fact, made mistakes. And I’m probably safe in assuming you’ve made a lot of them.

Yet somehow there’s room in your world to cast judgment on others? On my family?

I know a lot of good families. I mean the parents have done right raising the kids, and the kids are all best friends. I know families who do everything together, even deep into adulthood. I know churchgoing families.

I also know a lot of broken families. I mean where the parents have made more than their fair share of mistakes, and some family members won’t even talk to other family members. There’s been hurt and betrayal and all kinds of sad things. I know families afflicted by addiction.

I’ll tell you one thing I don’t know: I don’t know of any perfect families. No. All families have issues, some graver than others, some smaller. Some families just manage to hide their issues better than others. And that’s fine; to each its own.

Every family has a story. Every family is a work in progress (or regress), and that’s because families consist of individuals making their own choices, however they may be affected by their parents or siblings. And I don’t know of any perfect individuals.

Families are a funny thing. You are closer to these people than anyone else. They know you like no one else does. And yet you can go months without seeing each other or talking. And still, you feel this deep bond and connection with them that knows no boundaries. How is that possible? I have only limited spiritual ideas on the topic, but I do know that it’s something that applies to my family.

I have a mom and a dad. They’re not perfect people. They got married. And they created four imperfect little people. And we have great, imperfect relationships with each other. You know what else we have? Perfect love for each other. I mean, OK, maybe we don’t all know how to express it the best way. There have been fights and violence and unimaginable things. But no matter how my family has torn itself apart, one thing we have always had is love.

Now, you can say anything you want about my family. You can say we’re dysfunctional. You can say we are just a bunch of addicts. You can lump us into these categories if you want to. But you aren’t in it, and so you don’t know us.

You don’t know how my mom took us to the doctor, gave us medicine, put Vick’s on our chest and throat, and checked on us in the night. You don’t know her kind heart for others behind her obstinate front.

You don’t know how many risks my dad took in work to provide, the dreams he gave up, or the worries he has for his kids. You don’t know his longsuffering and protectiveness behind his stern face.

You don’t know the immense musical talent of my oldest brother, his ability to listen and validate you, and make you feel like the most important person in the world. You don’t know his charisma that’s hidden behind his pain.

You don’t know the individuality of my second brother, who creates in his own ways and has a desire to be better, who freely offers words of admiration. You don’t know the care he has because of the words he doesn’t say.

You don’t know the sensitivity of my baby brother, whose intelligence and stubbornness is unrivaled by anyone else in my family. You don’t know the physical affection he freely gives because he doesn’t know you yet.

You don’t know me, my ambition, my work ethic, or my intense desire for all of these amazing people to find balance and happiness.

And wow, we are all broken. But we are not the family that hides its issues. Everyone can see, sometimes even the neighbors. We also don’t hide our love; we share it with each other readily and verbally and often. And even though you've judged us, we'd share our love with you too.

Yeah, you can always count on something going wrong between us. We’re all broken, after all. We’ve all made mistakes.

But so are you. So have you.

And if you really knew my family, well, I don’t think you could help but love us. Because we love us.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Sweaty Battles


I can still see my grandpa, brown skin, white hair, dark wash fitted jeans, leaning calmly against the end of the family room couch, newspaper in hand. I’d come in, and he’d have some bit of knowledge or instruction to give me. It was sometimes about how I needed to read the newspaper. Other times he’d tell me an inappropriate joke (e.g. What is the German word for a bra? A keepemfromfloppem). And a lot of the time it was some bit of information about health (read: vegetables, exercise, etc.). But one that he reiterated at least three times in my early youth was regarding aluminum zirconium, a main ingredient in most antiperspirants. “You'll get Alzheimer’s!” he insisted.

Being the sweaty little girl that I was, this limited my options immensely. I checked all the ingredients of deodorants at the store. It appeared that those without the dangerous aluminum were ineffective for me. And so, I gave up and stuck with Secret for most of my life.

I’ve battled with sweat and body odor for as long as I can remember. No matter the season or temperature, I sweat. It’s cold out? I sweat. It’s hot? I sweat. Nervous or stressed? I sweat. Antiperspirants didn’t do much against the forces of my sweat glands. In fact, it just made me smell like sweaty powder. AND it ruined all my clothes. There’s either a perma-crust in the armpits of my clothes, a perma-stink, or a yellowish (or brownish) perma-stain. Cute, right? Oh well. That’s the life of a sweaty monster.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014, when one of my good friends stayed at my apartment for a month and insisted that I switch to regular deodorant. She said it would take a little while to transition, that I might need to apply more than once per day, but it would all be fine.




Folks, it’s been a battle for over two years as every deodorant I have tried has simply been unable to do the job. I mean, if armpits were armies, mine would be the biggest and strongest army. For real. Nothing worked.

I made a special trip to Whole Foods and paid an outrageous amount for this stuff.



It just made me smell like sweaty flowers. I was unimpressed and gave it a whole week.

I tried good old Tom’s of Maine, too!



Tom’s wasn’t strong enough for me. I don’t think I gave it very long either.

For a while I stuck with this one below that I actually found at Wal-Mart. I even purchased it more than once, when I ran out.


It’s unscented and liquid. And it was OK. I didn’t smell too bad after a day, but definitely had to reapply. It was nice because it wasn’t too expensive, and I could get it at Wal-Mart. No specialty stores or online orders. I would use this again if I ran out of my current deodorant.

I ordered this from Vitacost, more than likely, but I can’t remember. I just remember it being too dry. It didn’t go on well and didn’t make me feel protected in any way, shape, or form.


Last December I tried this stuff.


It took forever to dry. I smelled fine on the first day but still got very sweaty. By the morning of day two, I smelled like a boys’ locker room with a hint of sweet lavender. Heaven help anyone around me after a morning workout (I’m sorry). This is what I have used for the past 9 months or so since I ordered it, and I’m not sure how, since I definitely had to apply it about twice a day.

I have realized in this battle against my pits that polyester is my sworn enemy. It absorbs and amplifies every smell my body can put out. Unfortunately, my red personal trainer shirts at 24 Hour Fitness are, you guessed it, 100% polyester. And in the summer, this hasn’t been the best situation, especially when I have only two shirts and am at the gym about four nights a week. Since I do laundry on Saturdays, I had to find an environmentally friendly solution for my stinky shirts in the middle of the week (the lavender roll on stuff was not doing the trick, even after a thorough washing and reapplication). So I did what all Internet-age people do: I Googled it. I made a simple mixture of water and baking soda, turned my shirts inside out, and scrubbed the mixture into the sleeves with a toothbrush. Then I let it air dry. This worked! But seriously? Why is this my life?

Do you people understand the extent of my plight of stink? When you’re manually de-odorizing your shirts with baking soda water? Does anyone else do this? Well, I did it all throughout June, July, and August, making a considerable baking soda mess on my black counters each time.

Finally, on a random mid-week grocery store trip after work a few weeks ago, I decided to see what the men’s deodorant selection held in store. Over two years of desperation led me to this moment. I know Old Spice has a wide variety of deodorant (non-antiperspirant), and as good as it smells, I associate it with my grandpa. And no wonder he wore it. It doesn’t have aluminum zirconium. I had the original Old Spice in hand when I spotted something on the bottom shelf. Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant.



You see this picture? This is the image of B.O. Salvation. This beautiful orange capped stick of the sweat gods has saved my life. Or my nose. And other people’s noses, if we’re being honest. Everyone in my life should write a thank you note to Arm & Hammer for saving you all from my stench! Except if I’m wearing polyester. Then I still reek.

You guys, after over a day of sweat, I would gladly let you sniff under my arms. I really would. It isn’t an overpowering fragrance (it was the first day or two). It actually somehow acts as an antiperspirant, because I’m sweating MUCH less with this stuff than any of my roll-on or other deodorants. Even better: It’s an average to cheap price, and it’s available anywhere!


It has been a long road wrought with unyielding perspiration and insurmountable odor. But thanks to Arm & Hammer, my armpits and I have won this battle. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Went Skydiving

Oh hey guys. I’m alive. And a lot has changed, and yet life feels pretty calm and steady, with a few exceptions.

Brief recap:

I started as a personal trainer at my gym in Murray back in June. Right now it’s just eating up my evenings and my sanity. So I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

On July 1 I started my position at Alpine. About a week or two ago, I fully took over my predecessor’s role. She still is around and helps me with a lot of stuff, but I’ve really tried to step in confidently and make this desk my own.

With the double paychecks in July and August, I decided to have a little fun. I bought myself a Living Social deal to go skydiving in Moab. I bought myself a ukulele. I bought my mom a laptop. I’ve eaten at lots of good restaurants. And of course I saved plenty (you know me).

So this past weekend, I went skydiving with my uncle Bry down in Moab. Yes, he is really my uncle. He is 9 months older than me.

We booked a stay at Motel 6 in Green River, about 30 minutes from our skydiving location. I did that via Priceline. Wow, guys. Never again. Never. Again.

I booked a double bed non-smoking room. They didn’t even confirm the type of room when they charged me for it, so that was super professional. We got to the room, which had a handicapped parking stall in front of it, and that made me a little leery. We got inside, and lo and behold, there was ONE bed, a wood floor, and it smelled like an ash tray.

I tried my best to keep my cool as I went back to the desk to tell them there was a mistake. But they threw up their hands and blamed it on the booking site, claiming those sites just do whatever they want. Um, no, pretty sure you just gave up the rooms to other people that day. They had no vacancy, and neither did any other motel in the area. I asked if I could get any money back, and he said he’d be happy to do that. He then proceeded to give me a full refund, which apparently meant that I was giving up the room. Again, um, no. That’s not what I said. I said I didn’t want to pay $141 for a room that is half the size of what I booked. He told me they’re all the same price, which is just bonkers. They had no roll away beds or cots. And he said he’d look for extra blankets and pillows for us. They never arrived. Cool, thanks.

Guys, this motel was absolutely lovely. The light switch for the bathroom was on the outside of the bathroom (?!). The door barely cleared the entertainment stand when opened. The entertainment stand had some of the finish/lining peeled off. There were poorly repaired holes on the wall near the toilet where a railing had once been. The sink in the bathroom was a corner one, for those who need wheelchair access. I don’t need wheelchair access, however, so the lack of counter space was an obstacle for me. No shampoo or conditioner was provided, only two small bars of soap—good thing I brought my own!






video


In the shower (no bath, it was a wheelchair friendly shower), there was no soap dish on which to set the bar of soap. Sooooo I had to put it on the rolling chair, which I assume many naked butts have sat on, so that was pretty disconcerting. The water pressure in the shower was pitiful, probably because it was a handheld shower head. Since the entire bathroom was handicapped accessible and tiled, it was super echoey, which meant that anyone outside the bathroom could hear any mildly loud emissions occurring within (sorry, Bry). One of my favorite things about the room is that since it was in the corner of the building, we could hear everyone’s luggage banging down the stairs early in the morning—very pleasant. And the finisher is that my clothes smelled like smoke when I arrived home on Saturday night.

We had dinner at a place nearby called Tamarisk. I had chicken fingers. I felt super grown up.



Since I was curled up super tight all night, my back hurt the next morning. In spite of that, I ran 5 miles in that Podunk little town. On my run I saw lots of camp chairs on the sidewalk and realized that there was probably going to be a parade because “Melon Days” was going on there in Green River. I got back and got ready and waited an hour for my uncle to get ready. An hour! I don’t understand why dudes take so long. Especially him! He has 1/4 the hair on his head that I do, and didn’t have to do his makeup or dry his hair. We finally left and went to get him some coffee and almost didn’t make it out before the parade was supposed to start. Then we headed to Arches.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Arches National Park. I wish we had more time to spend there, but we had only about 1.5 hours. We took some pictures of the balancing rock, and headed to Delicate Arch. I didn’t expect the hike to be so intense. I was dripping sweat! Dripping! We took some pictures for honestly about five minutes, and had to turn back around to head to skydive. Still, it was beautiful, and I’d love to go back and really spend some time.









As for skydiving… It wasn’t what I thought it would be. I kind of expected like 30-60 minutes of formal training and working with my tandem partner in terms of what to do and what to expect, and maybe a small plane with seats. But no. We got there, they handed us clipboards of waivers to sign, didn’t explain any of it, and put on this ghetto old video explaining the risks we were assuming by jumping.




We arrived and had to call to be let in. We waited for several minutes before a girl with dreadlocks came out to get us. We went into her office, bought our pictures, videos, and USB in advance, and redeemed our vouchers. She didn’t give us any explanations or training either. She told us we would have about a half hour before we got into the air. Nope. It was over an hour.

There were porch swings and lawn chairs strewn about, and a big cooling fan blowing. The atmosphere was almost too casual. The language of the workers was less than appropriate. And there was tension between the owner and one of the jump masters. The owner called us over to put on our harnesses. He was super abrasive (but funny) and told us that people had complained that they hadn’t received enough training, and that they couldn’t breathe up there. So he was “trying to provide more training.” Are you ready for it?: In order to breathe, put your head back, breathe through your nose, or scream, and when they tap your shoulder twice, spread your arms out. That was our training. He asked if I wanted a jump suit; they required goggles and gloves, no helmet or suit. I passed on the onesie.


When our jump masters came over to meet us, my partner introduced himself to Bry, thinking he was jumping with him. He shook his hand and seemed enthusiastic. He realized a couple of minutes later that he was jumping with me. But he didn’t shake my hand. Instead, he tightened my harness, and thought it would be funny to lift me up in the air by my harness. Hilarious. I hope you felt big and powerful and manly, jerk.

He took video of us in front of the plane, but I couldn’t hear what he asked (for my name), so I look like a goofy idiot in the beginning of the video. He didn’t prepare me at all for what he’d say or ask, and didn’t tell me when he would take video. Some preparation would’ve been nice.



The plane was super tiny and cramped and old. There was electrical tape around the windows, which made me nervous. Bry and his partner Kirill had to get in first, because I was going to jump first. The entire way up was pretty miserable for me. I had to sit in a constant Pilates C position. I couldn’t lean back or put my hands down. I couldn’t lean forward because of the harness. It was terrible. My partner took video again in the plane about halfway up, but again I only caught about half of what he said (you can see that in the video as I lean back to ask what he had said).



He “trained” me a little more on the plane. He told me that when the door opened, I needed to put both of my feet on the step. He said, “In the air, push your hips out, and bring your feet back to your butt like a scorpion,” and “when I tap your shoulder, spread your arms out.”

And that was it.

That was my training.

So you’ll pardon my frustration and anger when my partner spent the rest of the time repeating himself and yelling at me because I didn’t understand what he was wanting me to do, or didn’t do it the way he wanted it done.

But wait, back to the plane. The ride up didn’t make me anxious or nervous. Since they were all so cavalier about it, and hadn’t built up any excitement or trained me at all, I had pretty much lost my enthusiasm. I felt very detached from the situation (contrary to what I express in the video). Once he opened the door of the plane, shiz got real. I let out a little scream almost due to protocol, in an attempt to get hyped about what was about to happen—putting on an act of sorts. It just felt surreal. I didn’t feel scared or resistant to jumping out at all. My heart wasn’t beating fast. I really didn’t feel much of anything.




Since the wind was coming up so fast, it was kind of hard to process what was happening. I didn’t look around much or enjoy the view (it just looked like brown desert). I was focused on pushing my hips down and feet back like he said. I was also trying to keep my mouth closed so I could breathe, per the owner’s instructions. My partner had the video going, so I smiled and hoped I didn’t look horrible. It happened really fast, almost too fast for me to process it or enjoy it.




My eyes watered intensely. Like full on tears streamed across my face. He took off my goggles partway down.

The part that I strongly disliked was the end. He released the parachute, and intended to have me steer it. So he told me three times to take the handles. It took me a second to figure out what handles he was talking about, so repeating it three times only made me feel stupid. I took the handles from him. He told me to pull down on the left side. It basically made us spiral around in circles. He then told me to, “Let up.” So I started slowly letting up. While doing so, he says, “Let up, let UP!” full on yelling at me. Sorry, guy, you didn’t tell me we’d be doing this, and you didn’t tell me to let up quickly. I don’t know what the F is going to happen if I let up quickly on a parachute! It’s not like I do this 15 times a day. He then did the same thing in wanting me to transfer the handles back to him. He said, “Let go of the handles, let go of the handles, let GO of the handles.” OH MY GOSH OK SO SORRY I’M NOT DOING THIS TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS THAT YOU DIDN’T COMMUNICATE IN ADVANCE. Freaking a-hole.



He (more patiently) explained how we would land. I needed to lift my knees into 90 degrees, and keep my knees together. Then I needed to straighten my legs in front of me. I was making moaning sounds from this point forward due to nausea as we swayed back and forth making our way down. I was so anxious to land because I was so uncomfortable. The parachute was lifting up on me, but the earth was pulling down on me, making the harness just dig into my thighs as I tried my hardest to keep my legs together as my stomach was churning. I was so, so uncomfortable, and so sick. His yelling and this part of the jump ruined the whole thing for me.

At the last second, he again yelled at me three times to stand up. “Stand up, stand up, STAND UP!” Then I guess the parachute landed a little funny, so he needed me to walk around to the left, but that’s not what he said. He said, “Move over here.” Oh hey, I don’t know if you know this, but you’re behind me, and I don’t know where you’re pointing to. Try directions, douchebag. Left and right are very useful. Thankfully, the only roughness of the landing was on my ankle, which I feel twinge time and again, but it’s fine. I ran two miles on it this morning.


He took more video at the end and asked, “So what’d you think!?” As I was utterly nauseated from the parachute portion, and as he had made me feel like a complete idiot at the end, I wanted to say, “I want to puke, and you were a jerk, that’s what I think.” So I fumbled around for a word I hadn’t used in the video yet, which was “insane.” And really, it wasn’t insane. I didn’t feel excited at all, and didn’t have that awesome adrenaline rush everyone talks about. Then he made out like he was so nice and fun, and thanked me for coming to Canyonlands, made me high five and fist bump him even though he had been treating me like shiz for the past 30 minutes.

As soon as he turned off the video, my face reflected my true feelings. I frowned for the next 30 minutes as I made my way back to the hangar and literally tried not to vomit.


video


In all, not the experience I had hoped for. I feel bad because so many people were asking how it went and were looking forward to hearing me say how amazing it was. But it wasn’t. It was uncomfortable and stressful. I don’t do well being yelled at. Here's the video if you want to watch it. 

I tried not to talk about how much I disliked it because Bry really enjoyed it. He’s much more laid back than I am, and either he listens better, or his partner was just nicer and more patient. Anyway, I didn’t want to complain to him too much. I felt sick, and he could see that.

I spent all day yesterday (Sunday) stressed because I hadn’t done laundry, cleaned, or grocery shopped as I normally do on Saturdays. I also stressed as I debated about looking at my pictures and videos, afraid they would reflect the thoughts and feelings I had inside. I finally got the courage to look at them at around 9 PM last night. I am super pleased with how it all looks on video—it looks like I had a fantastic time. I wish I felt the same way about it inside.

Since I know you’re wondering: No, I don’t think I’d do it again. If I did, it’d definitely have to be somewhere close by, and cheap, since now I know what to expect, and it’s not that awesome. I’d way rather go on roller coasters, to be honest. Those don’t hurt my thighs, nauseate me, or yell at me.

I’m sad to look at it as $128 (plus $10 tip), $85 for pics/vid/USB, $141 for that motel, and $25 for gas, plus $15 for dinner, and whatever else for water bottles and snacks… Over $400 for an experience I’m basically just able to say I did. (Technically gas and motel was split with my uncle, but still, you get my point). So there it is. Skydiving: I did it.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy Birthday, Harry!

I’ve always been an overly realistic person. Don’t worry, I’ve heard all the jokes about how realists are actually pessimists. But I can honestly say I’ve been a pretty grounded person my whole life. I have a weak imagination and am not a big dreamer. While I always enjoyed reading as a child, I can say I had an affinity for non-fiction books, especially memoirs and autobiographies (I still do!). So although I was in the Harry Potter generation, I wasn’t really a part of the mania.

It wasn’t until I saw the first movie when I was about 15 years old that I fell in love. I fell in love with the story, with the characters, and with the idea that such a world could exist. Even more so—that the idea could exist in somebody’s mind! The author was brilliant. She had opened up a whole new part of my mind. A spell to retrieve something quickly, to make something float, or to repair something? An invisibility cloak? Flying on brooms? Wizarding school? Pet owls that deliver mail? I'm in!



I loved and enjoyed all of the movies. It wasn’t until after the release of the fifth movie that I decided it was time to buckle down and read the books that everyone had already been loving for years, behind the times or not, it had to be done. I read all seven books in about six weeks, which is extremely fast for me. My depth of love for the characters increased exponentially. I sobbed and sobbed in many parts—genuinely heartbroken for the characters (the friends!) I cared so deeply about. I sat in awe of how the author had tied so many things together, seemingly subtle little things that ended up being terribly profound and important. How did she keep track of everything? How did I miss all these connections?

I read an article in my teaching grammar class about the brilliance of the language used in the Harry Potter books. All of her spells and many of the names of people and places had Latin roots. My admiration only increased as I noted the extreme care and thoughtfulness she put into her language—into every element of her books. I stood and stand in awe as somebody who wishes her mind naturally created and explored those places.

I’ve started to re-read the series. I am in the middle of book three, but I don’t own it, and my Overdrive checkout expired. I've been meaning to buy a used copy. The boxed set has been on my Amazon wish list for a long time. I've pre-ordered the Cursed Child and am waiting for it to arrive.

One of the best gifts I ever got was from some friends after my surgery: all the movies on Blu-Ray!



I could talk forever and ever about the characters in the book—about their development and the sacrifices they make for Harry and others, and about the development of the plot over so many pages, about the themes, about the depth and planning.

Among other things, these movies, especially the first one, are a major part of my family. We bond over movies, and especially over Harry Potter. Our love for the movies and for each other runs deep.



Now, I would never claim to be a serious “Potterhead” or whatever they’re called. Having only read the books once through, many years late, my Potter knowledge pales in comparison to many other people I know. I wouldn’t dare play a game of Quidditch (unless it was on a board). I barely figured out which house I fit into (Ravenclaw).

What I do know is that these books, the characters, the stories, the themes, have brought so much light and happiness into my life. They awakened a part of my mind that I really hadn’t accessed, an imagination I didn’t know I possessed, and an appreciation for fantasy and magic that I never had before. These books and the characters and stories within have emotionally affected me more deeply than probably any others that I’ve read. One day I plan on reading these books at bedtime if I ever get the chance to have children. They will know and love the magical world their whole lives because of it.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Four Days at 24

I got through my first week as a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. For my own sake, I need to be better about writing things down. I only journal about once per week (which is better than I used to do!), and I really wish I remembered more things. Therefore, a blog post is the answer.

I was supposed to start on Monday morning, but my employee number didn’t come through soon enough. So I went to Body Pump class and used up my final real summer day doing other things.

Tuesday, I didn’t get to go to Body Combat. I started doing trainings on the computer which involved videos and slide shows of sorts, and were followed by quizzes. My manager said that he encourages me every day I’m there to meet five new people. I took that challenge head on. I felt super nervous but realized everybody else sees me as official with my red shirt, and that they wouldn't be able to tell that I was nervous. So I put on my confident face and ran up to the group room before class and met some people. A guy named Dave had complimented my shirt the week before. He said I was the first trainer who introduced myself. He said he’s in sales and thinks it’s a shame that no trainers have ever introduced themselves, because most people would be too intimidated to approach them. So he said I’m already off to a great start. I met his wife Shelly, and a few others that day. The teacher, Victoria, said I could make an announcement if I wanted. But I had no idea what to announce, so I passed. This day I got a new shirt, did all the paperwork and stuff, got a name tag, and everything that made me official. 



That day I worked from 8-1, then 3:30 to 5:30 or so. I had a reception that night for a friend in Draper. And went to dessert at The Chocolate with a friend.

Wednesday was another longish day. I worked from 8 to noon and about 4:00-6:30. I actually met five people that day and made an announcement for a free session before class. So grateful Kim let me do that. I shadowed two other trainers that day including Mike and Dawn. It was really cool to watch them and see their clients work so hard. I also got a good lecture/advice session from one of the area directors. He told me to access people’s a-ha moment and their why, tell them to visualize what the end result would look like compared to now, and to always ask for the sale or you’ll never get it. He said it took him eight years to figure that out. He was a red personality and came on a little strong, but I wrote down his advice and appreciate his good intentions. That night I had Wingers and Cold Stone.

Thursday I got to go to a pop pilates class at the Taylorsville club in my manager’s place. It was OK. I mean it was fun, but not strenuous enough for me. I wished I had gotten up earlier to run beforehand. That day I worked until about noon, and came back again at 4. My manager had me stand up at the front for the final part of my day to try and get some health and fitness consultation (HFC) appointments. That’s the free initial session where we talk about goals and take measurements and try to get more sessions in the book. I asked four people and got two appointments. That night I got to watch SYTYCD with Kristen and Julie.

Friday I worked from 8-12. I went over HFCs with my manager, and then did the 4Q training on the computer for the final three hours. I clocked out at noon for the day. It was so nice to have a summer afternoon. I went to dinner and watched a movie with Rachel. We ate In-N-Out and watched Zoolander 2. I tried to make a general plan for my Saturday HFC. He confirmed via text that he would be there.

Saturday, I got up super early to run four miles before my first HFC. I got ready and went over there, and by 10:30 my client still wasn’t there. My manager told me that most of those appointments are no-shows, but that was still annoying. Because he confirmed by text that he’d come!

So here’s a summary…

Good
·         Relaxed schedule – It’s cool coming and going kind of whenever.
·         Break mid-day – Having a long break is nice.
·         Meeting people – It’s fun to be social and put names to faces I already know.
·         Getting out of my comfort zone – I can do hard things!
·         Helping others – Knowing that I really could get people results and am in a place to do so is so cool and exciting.
·         Organized training – It’s nice having a binder and having clear expectations.
·         Love the environment – It’s cool seeing people come in and take care of themselves.
·         Cool coworkers – Most of them have been really friendly and helpful.

Bad
·         Relaxed schedule – Never being told a firm schedule for the week really sucked. I like to have a plan.
·         Break mid-day – Having 2-3 hours in between is kind of hard because I spend a lot of time going to and from the club, and can’t get a lot done in that chunk of time.
·         Having a no-show even after I spent time planning and confirming
·         It takes a while to get there, longer than I feel like it should
·         Early mornings were hard after having a couple weeks off of teaching
·         I haven’t been able to go to my summer group classes, and that’s been really sad for me
·         Polyester shirts. I use deodorant (not anti-perspirant), and polyester makes me reek. So embarrassing. 
·         Boring training – seriously, especially the stuff I did on Friday was so, so boring. 

Overall I am excited for this opportunity to learn, get out of my comfort zone, and help people improve their lives. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Forever Falling Short

When you stop writing regularly, it’s hard to know where to start. I have lived in my condo for about 10 months now, and I haven’t even written about the process of buying it, cleaning it, moving in, fixing it up, or any of that stuff. And buying your first home is sort of, you know, a milestone?

I guess right now I need to write because I have a lot to be grateful for. Last Monday, I got a job at 24 Hour Fitness—doing a practice initial session with the fitness manager, and then interviewing with the club manager. My background check went through on Friday, and my employee number came through today. So I finally get to start tomorrow.

Last Wednesday, June 8 at 10 AM, I had a finalist interview with the CEO, President, and CFO of a local company. They had told me they were trying to build up a pool of final candidates. I thought there were at least a few people in the running. But later that day, I received a call offering me the position as executive assistant to these three gentlemen. I excitedly accepted the offer. It will be a great job--one where I get to put my best skills to use, and where teenage hormones are not a part of my day.

That night, on my “On This Day” memories in Facebook, I saw that I had been offered the job at Thomas Jefferson Junior High on the same day six years prior. That was a really cool full circle moment.

I went in on June 9 to resign my position at Jefferson.

I worked really hard on my resume for the position I received. I completely recreated it from scratch per my cousin’s suggestion.

I also worked really hard on my personal training certification since January, and consider it a huge blessing that I passed the test.

I’ve worked really hard in general to chase after the things I want.

I’ve felt beyond blessed lately as I look at all of these things falling into place—all of these changes that I’ve worked toward and wanted so badly so that I could leave the classroom confidently. I am so grateful for how everything has worked out.

And then…
- I make another mistake after having worked really hard to make everything right.
- I almost hit someone on the road on 900 east today in trying to get over to the right lane (I checked my mirror and honestly didn’t see her—complete accident—thankfully she saw me)

and that got me into a downward spiral of guilt, and then…
- I think about the things I’ve said, especially about others, either jokingly or in frustration, and how those things don’t line up with the person I want to be.
- I think about the motorcyclist in front of me last week who flipped me off, even though I hadn’t meant to do anything to upset him. I still am not sure why he was so mad, but I feel bad still.
- I think about the guy in the crosswalk six months ago who I didn’t see in the dark who yelled the F word at me. I honestly didn’t see him.
- I think of the grape tomatoes that spilled all over near the checkout stand at Smith’s, and how I should’ve stayed to clean them up because the cashier was so, so busy (I apologized the next time I saw him, by the way).
- I think of the people who I may have disappointed or hurt or frustrated unintentionally.
- I think of the things I get frustrated with in others (particularly roommates) and how at one point I didn’t know the things I know now (I put a chicken carcass in the kitchen trash instead of taking it to the dumpster and stunk up the apartment—duh, Janae!).

And it goes on and on and on—back to things I still feel bad about that I did as a teenager.

One thing I think is strongly relevant to this internal dialogue is that I consider myself to be an extremely considerate person. So when I do things that are inconsiderate or that have inconvenienced or hurt others, I feel horribly guilty. For example, I see people on the road who are about to miss their turn. Rather than continuing forward and turning around somewhere else, they decide to stop traffic so they can get over to make that last-second turn. The fact that this person has now inconvenienced a lot of people rather than figuring out another way to solve the problem just blows my mind.

There are some downsides to my conscientiousness.
1. I get extremely frustrated by and impatient with others who are not as considerate. I can’t imagine making other people suffer for my own errors. So then I make jokes or comments about their idiocy or how they’ve annoyed me. Then I feel like a jerk later. Like now.
2. When I make mistakes that put someone out in some way, even by total accident, I feel awful about them for days, weeks, months, and years (see the list above).

I am not sure what to do about the guilt that I feel about things that happened years ago. Does anyone have tips for the chronically guilty? I want counseling to be free.

All I know is that today I feel kind of worthless, and very undeserving of all of the good things that have been happening in my life. It’s like I get all of these blessings and then turn around and be an idiot again, and it feels a little like slapping my Father in Heaven in the face. And I feel like some kind of fraud for all of the good things people might think of me—like I’ve deceived or tricked people in some way, to think I’m better than I really am. Like if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me or respect me.

The logical part of my mind tells me that I am trying. I am trying really hard. And I will always come up short because I am human. I have worth, even when I make mistakes. I remind myself that Heavenly Father rewards effort. But the other part of me is winning today—the part that says I am undeserving, and I can be so much better, do so much better.

So which side wins? The side I feed. I need to tell myself that I am the person I want to be. I am a kind person, a generous person, a person with integrity, a person who inspires and leads—and then I will become those things. With a little effort and a lot of grace, I will become those things.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Flexible Dieting Part 1: 7 Breakfast Ideas

I have a lot of friends trying out flexible dieting right now. Since I've been doing this for over a year, I've become pretty good at hitting certain macro goals, especially for each meal. It's been on my heart to make people's lives easier with the things it took me a long time to learn.

I plan on making this a three part series, with my favorite breakfasts, lunches or snacks, and dinners.

I am NOT a meal prepper. I chose flexible dieting because I don't want to eat brown rice, chicken, and broccoli from Tupperware every day, thankyouverymuch. I do minimal work ahead of time because I like to have variety (and simplicity) in my meals. These meals work for my lifestyle and the amount of time I have to prepare. I've compiled this list to help those who might want to add some variety to their meals and keep them within a certain range of macronutrients.

A few disclaimers/tips/notes:
- I try to spread my protein throughout the day via meals and snacks, as I've read that the body can only use and process so much protein at a time.
- If I want bacon in the morning, I put it on a foiled pan in a cold oven, set it to 400 degrees, and set the timer for 20+ minutes. It's done by the time I'm ready to eat.
- I make overnight oats the night before
- I rarely make biggest loser pancakes but thoroughly enjoy them
- I have a collection of protein pancake recipes (many of them using Kodiak protein packed mix)
- This is not a complete or thorough list of everything I eat for breakfast (I enjoy McDonald's egg white delight with a half a protein shake, or a bacon & gouda from Starbucks with a protein shake from time to time)
- Sometimes I opt for lower carb breakfasts to save my carbs for later
- I've tried to estimate colored container counts for the 21 Day Fix

Without further ado, here is a list of 7 of my frequently eaten breakfasts, complete with calorie and macro counts. I sure hope this helps somebody! If it does, please comment. This was kind of a lot of work and don't want to bother if it helps nobody.

Egg Sandwich
1 thinwich
1 egg
6 tbsp egg whites
1 slice cheese (American or Swiss)
2-3 slices Canadian Bacon (Jones Dairy Farm)
320 cal: 23C/12F/32P
(1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 red)

Overnight Oats
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 scoop protein powder
½ cup almond milk
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
Stevia to taste
Add additional toppings/mix-ins the next morning.
I like chocolate chips, coconut, or nuts for fat and staying power.
270 cal: 24C/4F/34P
(1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 red)

Shakeology
½ cup egg whites
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup water
Ice cubes
1 scoop Shakeology (chocolate or Café Latte)
½ - 1 tbsp peanut butter
327 cal: 22C/12F/33P
(1 yellow, 1 red, 1 blue or 2 orange)

Biggest Loser Pancakes
6 egg whites
1 cup rolled oats, dry
1 cup cottage cheese
2 tsp stevia
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
(makes 10-12 pancakes, ¼ cup batter is 1 pancake)
I use Walden Farms syrup if I don’t want more carbs.
Add fat via butter or coconut oil.
For half the recipe:
321 cal: 28C/5F/34P
(1 yellow, 1 red, 1 orange)

Mixed Breakfast 1
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
Stevia
130 grams strawberry slices
1 egg
6 tbsp egg whites
2 slices center cut bacon
278 cal: 15C/9F/32P
(1/2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 red)

Mixed Breakfast 2
Dannon Oikos Triple Zero yogurt (strawberry or coconut cream)
1.5 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup egg whites
237 cal: 17C/5F/28P
(add fruit for more carbs or an egg for more fat)
(1/2 yellow, 1 red, 1 orange)

Mixed Breakfast 3
1 cup almond milk
1 scoop whey protein
1 raised, frosted donut
340 cal: 28C/13F/28P
(1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 red)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Yes You Can

As a teenager, and even a young adult, I remember walking by or driving by runners or other athletes on the road and telling myself I'd never be like that. "That's just not who I am. I'm just not athletic. I could never do that." Not to mention that I hated running. The dreaded mile in junior high and high school. The bane of my existence. Ugh.

Obviously things have changed. I've worked out regularly, frequently, and consistently for about five years now. It blew my mind a few years ago when a doctor called me "athletic."

Now that I'm training for my third half marathon, and after I've lost some weight, I have accepted that maybe I am athletic. And that is in complete conflict with my self-image even 7 or 8 years ago. But in the time that I've changed my lifestyle and come to love and adore and obsess over all things fitness, I've noticed a lot of people with the same mentality as I had.

May I submit these quotes for your careful consideration.





As I train for races, here's a common conversation I engage in...

Person: So you're training for a race? How long is it?
Me: 13.1 miles.
Person: Oh my gosh. I could never do that.

This frustrates me for a couple of reasons. One reason, and I know this isn't something they intend to do, is that it implies that this has been an easy feat for me. Like I woke up and was able to run 13.1 miles. People, let's be real. I train my butt off for this, for 10 to 12 weeks. I get blisters and soreness and chafing for this. I sweat buckets for this. I fight the wind and weather for this. I work hard for this. I remember when I struggled to run a mile, and was happy if it was under 12 minutes. That was just five years ago. How did I get to this point? One foot in front of the other, one day after the next, one mile at a time. And you could do it too.

The other reason I get frustrated is mostly out of sadness for the limiting thoughts we tell ourselves and believe. It's because every time I hear someone say, "I could never do that," I hear a young and overweight Janae who never thought herself capable of being physically fit. I don't care how old you are, how overweight you are, how out of shape you are, how injured you are, or how busy you think you are. It is never too late to make changes. YOUR BODY IS AMAZING and can do AMAZING things, if you let it and if you treat it right.

This woman inspired me big time when I read about her a long time ago. She finished a marathon at 92 years old!

This guy inspired me years ago. Try not to cry.


This guy inspired me when I saw his video just a few months ago. No really, try not to cry.


If anyone had an excuse not to go for it, not to accomplish things, these people had them. 92 years old? Disabled? Overweight? But they don't use them.

And neither do I. I am five feet tall. I have a thyroid problem. I have endometriosis. I've battled my weight for most of my life. I teach junior high all day (and it's exhausting!). I could come up with lots of reasons not to do things. But what it came down to was, I wanted to run a half marathon. I found a plan. And I did it. I believed I could, so I did.

So really? Is it that you "could never do that"? Be honest with yourself. Maybe it's just that you don't want to. Maybe it's not a priority. And that's fine. But don't put limitations on yourself. YOU are capable. You COULD do that, and you could probably do it better than me! I know it because I did it. Those people up there did it. And if we did it, so can you.