Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas #1

Only 4 more days until we're homeward bound for the holidays.
My boyfriend and I decided that since we're traveling for the holidays, it didn't make much sense to pack our presents to each other in our suitcases and lug them 700 miles to open them up, only to pack them back up and return with them (little did I realize my gift wouldn't have fit in his suitcase anyway!) We decided to do our own little mini Christmas here with each other before we head up to the PNW for the actual holidays.
So Saturday, the 15th we had our own little Christmas holiday. We opened presents in our pajamas, played our new game of Monopoly (one of my gifts to him) and watched Home Alone 1,2 & 3...(although I tried to warn him that the 3rd one wasn't worth watching). We also watched my absolute most favorite Christmas movie, the original cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
In between our movie marathon and game playing we went to Christmas Tree Lane, in Alameda.
 Armed with layers of warmth and a thermos of homemade hot chocolate we walked up and down the street filled with Christmas lights, music, people, and holiday cheer!
J had never been to any place like this that he could remember so it was fun to be able to do something like this together. Plus, I'm game for any and everything Christmas related!
So lets get back to these presents I was talking about. We opened the ones that were wrapped. J told me that one of my gifts would be arriving in the mail in a few days, so I only had 1 to open. The one I did open was the awesome singing bird clock I wanted that sings a different bird song each hour, on the hour. I wanted to hear the clock and we needed batteries for it to work. J said "I think maybe there are some in the office" so I went in search of batteries. I walk into the office and SURPRISE! A shiny red bicycle appears!
J had of course tricked me saying my other gift was "in the mail" and had this beauty stashed down in the garage (which is his man-cave woodshop and I never go down there). Tricky man he is. This gift was a group effort made possible by J, his dad, my mom, and my brother-in-law.
This gift is in part because J wants me to ride with him, but also because of my knee injury and my difficulties with running, they all wanted me to have a way to exercise without doing more damage to my knee. Although I don't want to give up running, this is quite a lovely way to get outside as well :)
So today, despite a forecast for rain... we were determined to ride.
My first bike ride in over a year and my very first time on a road bike. 10 miles later and my butt is sore, my legs feel a bit like jello, and my knee is well aware it was used today. It sure felt great to be outside, riding with J. Him being such an avid rider, I've definitely wanted to get a bike and be able to share his love for them. Granted, I am not anywhere near up to his level, nor will I ever be...but it was still nice to ride along side him for awhile :)

After all of this, it feels like Christmas is over. Then I remember that in 4 days, we get to board a plane and see all our loved ones up north and begin the actual, crazy, huge, loud, fun, amazing Christmas festivities awaiting us up there!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas past, present, and future

It's the Christmas season.
It never fails, no matter what, to be my absolute most favorite time of the year.
I don't know when it all started, but over the years I've morphed into the BIGGEST Christmas crazy person I know.
Christmas has always been a favorite of mine...but as I get older, it becomes more and more for me.
Obviously, as a child the presents were a major element for me.
But even then, it was always more. It was about believing in something, about bringing family together, about the magic of Christmas.

I remember one year I think it was '92 or '93, I was being greedy and wanted to know what I was getting. I went under the tree and carefully unwrapped all the presents with my name on them, peaked to see what I was getting, and then ever so carefully wrapped them back neatly. That was by far, one of the most disappointing Christmases. There was no element of surprise, there was no wonder or anticipation. I knew the things I wanted that I already had, and the things I didn't even like.. now I had to open them and pretend I didn't totally hate them. That was the last year I ever peaked at anything and from then on I've made it a point to stay in the dark about any gifts, even when people try to tell me or give me hints. 
I'm actually surprised none of my 5 older siblings ever tried to burst my bubble about Santa.
I suppose even if they had tried, I wouldn't have allowed it any way. I believed for a long, long time. Right up until that moment in '95 where I came down the stairs Christmas morning and saw my dad filling our stockings.I remember rushing back up stairs and hiding in bed with my eyes shut tight, trying to erase the horror of what I'd just witnessed. I was crushed. The magic was gone! You'd think that would have ruined Christmas for me for years.
Then there was the first Christmas after my parents divorced. The 1st year of many "double Christmases" to come. Anyone coming from a divorced family knows the politics involved, the negotiating, the bribes, the guilt, the time management, the double gifting, the fighting and bickering. It was a lot for a 13 year old to handle. It put a damper on what Christmas had always been for me, I felt the tug-of-war that I'd feel for...well for the rest of my life. I still deal with this tug-of-war, although as an adult it's slightly easier to manage. That Christmas was the first time we'd changed our "traditions". For 13 years of my life we'd celebrated the same way, and suddenly it was all changing. It felt like something had been stolen from me.
If only then I'd know the changes of Christmas traditions would continue throughout the years.
There was the 1st Christmas after my cousin who'd been my best friend growing up and my partner in crime for everything had converted to a religion that did not celebrate holidays. So many of my holiday traditions involved specifically her. I mourned the loss of her for many Christmases to come and still find I miss her most near Christmas time. I can still see her, but these visits no longer include so many of the memories we made year after year.
In '07, it was the first year after the horrible events that lead up to my family dividing in two. For my entire life, we'd always went to my Grandparents house on Christmas Eve. Even after their passings, we still went to the same house, and celebrated with our huge, loud, fun family. We never broke tradition, ever. That is, until a select few of us upset the herd, we spoke out against another family member and aided in him being put in prison for over a decade. This marked the first Christmas we were not welcome at  my grandparents house and were not allowed to participate in the traditions we'd spent our whole lives taking part in. That marked the first year of attempting to build new traditions. It's been a rough adjustment for all of us. Each year is a bit different, still trying to figure out what the new traditions entail. My dad has done his best to make it special for us all, despite the large elephant in the room that I often feel responsible for.
In '10, I thought I'd be coming home for the holidays to see my family and the man who'd promised to marry me. Just before Thanksgiving that year, he gave me the news that he had other plans. He'd broken up with me and a few weeks before Christmas, I'd learn he had gotten back together with his ex. This was heartbreaking and lead to the most difficult holiday season I'd faced yet. He'd robbed me of the magic, my ability to believe it something bigger, and that Christmas I merely went through the motions of the holidays, but wasn't present at all. I'd lost all hope for everything and Christmas was no exception.

Despite all the heartbreak and disappointment of Christmases past, there were so many other years where my memories will forever live in my heart. I don't think I could ever turn my back in Christmas, no matter how close I came in the past. The toughest lesson to learn in life is that change is inevitable, and traditions will be broken. This allows for new traditions, new additions, and new memories to be made and Christmas is no exception here either.

This Christmas won't be like others, but in some ways it will be exactly the same. I won't be able to spend it with everyone I'd like to, it won't go as planned, but I am able to spend it with some wonderful people, I do have a very special man who survived the holidays with my family last year and actually wants to return again. I also get to be a part of some lovely little kiddos Christmas memories, that they can look back at when they're my age and remember as fondly as I do mine.
The years I was so wrapped up in what Christmas should be or how it used to be or who should have been there I wasn't being fair to all those that were there, and continue to be there. I wasn't being fair to my niece and nephews whose Christmas memories I am a part of. My new years resolution this year was the focus on what I can do instead of worrying about what I can't do..and again, Christmas isn't an exception here. I can't change the past, I can't control the future but I CAN enjoy the holidays with my family and do my best to make it memorable for us all.
 Although it's been said, many times, many ways... Merry Christmas to you :)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Days of being thankful

November, being the month that houses Thanksgiving, is a time to remember what we're thankful for.
 It can be so easy to go through every day without realizing all the little (and big!) things that we have in our lives, both material and intangible. We get so caught up in our daily rituals, our responsibilities, our own minds that we forget to take a moment to really look around at what all we are blessed with.
This year, I took part in a "30 Days of Being Thankful"type of thing. I'm not sure if there is an actual name for it or not, so that is what I'll call it. I noticed on November 1st people on Facebook claiming "Day 1" or "Nov 1st" and thought...that sounds like a wonderful thing to do!
So I set out to complete 30 days worth of being thankful and to my surprise, some days were quite a challenge. It can be difficult to find the good in a day that feels like it's up against you.
I must say this was such an awesome quest for me, I found it really humbling and enriching. Some days my thanks were silly, some days material things, others people or events in my life. Each day gave me a new opportunity to shine light on an area of my life I'm thankful I have/earned/deserve/have been given. I decided to document them all here because I think it's pretty great to see them all in 1 place.
 
Day 1: I'm thankful for the house we rent, that J has made a home.

Day 2: I'm thankful for Dustin's timing on sending me random little things, unknowingly right when I need a laugh.Thanks Squash. :)

Day 3: I'm thankful for Netflix since it is currently allowing us to watch the entire series of The Wonder Years.

Day 4: I'm thankful for my wife for being in my life for 19 years and never giving up on me; despite distance, egos, changes, and mistakes.

Nov 5: Today I'm thankful for the kindness of strangers, and in East Oakland, no less. Thank you to the man who helped me at the gas station.

Day 6: Despite having done so last week via mail, today I am thankful, as a woman, for my right to vote. Oh and also for being able to get an absentee ballot and vote in my home state!

Day 7: I'm thankful for sleep because I really needed it, and was able to get a lot of it. woo! Although, I still need more.

Day 8: I'm thankful that despite all the drowning, I've managed to stay afloat in grad school thus far.

Day 9: I'm thankful I have a best friend with such awesome style that I'm still getting compliments on clothes she gave away to me like 2 years ago (and am still wearing too!)

Day 10: I'm thankful for my older brother, Troy. Although he's not my only brother, he is the one who has given me the most "older brother" memories, including all the ones where he tortures you, picks on you, makes you cry. There's also a whole lot more that include good advice, games, funny jokes, great memories, and big hugs and even bigger laughs. Love you Troylet.

Day 11: I'm thankful for those who have served and continue to serve. For all the ones I know well and hold dear to my heart, and for those I'll never meet. Happy Veterans Day ♥

Day 12: I'm thankful I have the ability to run, even with all the complications and setbacks of my injury, I'm still capable of running.

Day 13: I'm thankful to have friends I consider family, and family I consider friends.

Day 14: I'm thankful that, despite initial disappointments and rejection during 1st year, I ended up in the research group I'm in because it has proven to be a pretty great fit for me :)

Day 15: I'm thankful J is skilled enough to keep my car alive for as long as possible, because we really need it to keep living.

Day 16: I'm thankful for Chinese food delivery. It's a rarity in this house, but some days, I just really don't want to cook, or think.

Day 17: I'm finding it difficult to find something to be thankful for in the midst of all the stress...but I guess I'm thankful that I am good at baking, because as of lately, its all I've been any good at.
Day 18: I'm thankful this quarter is almost over. I don't think I can take much more. Just a few more days.

Day 19: I'm thankful for those around me that help me out to make my life a little easier, like Freda turning in my paper for me today so I didn't have to drive 85 miles just to turn it in, and for J for always taking out the trash and cleaning up (daily!) the cat poo from the strays that have decided our driveway is a litter box. It's these kinds of things that keep me from going totally insane, and for that I am oh-so-thankful!

Day 20: I'm thankful that my team pulled through (it was down to the final hour!) and we were able to submit to APA!! Here's to hoping we get accepted! :D

Day 21: I'm thankful for surprises in the mail. They really are just the best thing ever :) Especially when they're from people you love ♥

Day 22: I'm thankful I get to be an Auntie and a Godmother. My nephews, my niece and my goddaughters fill my heart with so much love I never even knew possible. I'm thankful for their parents for bringing them into this world and for allowing me the privilege of being in their lives. ♥ I love and miss all these little kiddos, even though some of them aren't very little anymore.

Day 23: I'm thankful for technology that allows me to joke with my nephew via text who is 700 miles away, and talk with my niece about what the tooth fairy brought her, even though I'm 2 states away.

Day 24: I'm thankful for how much joy I get from anything Christmas related, it makes this time of year unbelievably wonderful for me...currently watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and having pumpkin pie ice cream :D

Day 25: I'm thankful for lazy Sundays.

Day 26: I'm thankful I've been able to travel as much as I have in my life so far and been able to experience other cities, states, and other countries...and I hope to continue to do so, if grad school will allow it.

Day 27: I'm thankful for family visitors. J's dad is here until Saturday!

Day 28: I'm thankful for my dad and everything he has taught and continues to teach me and all he does for those he loves. Today also happens to be his birthday...so Happy Birthday Dad. Love you. ♥

Day 29: I'm thankful for my mom. She's helped teach me what it means to be a successful woman in this world, and that's no easy job ;)

Day 30: I'm thankful for my family, all of them. My family who made so many of my childhood memories unforgettable, and my family who have stood by me in my most difficult struggles. I could not be where I am today without all of them. I am so lucky to be a part of such a large, supportive, loving, laughter-filled family.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Failure or Success: Where do I stand?

It's that time again, where I feel like I'm failing miserably at everything.
Some things, I genuinely am failing at, of course not completely, but to a certain extent.

Take my writing: I update on  9/30, claiming I need to make an actual effort at writing, and here I am not posting again until 11/4.
Therefore, when it comes to writing, I am actually failing.

Grad school: This has a way of making me feel like I am always failing, no matter how productive or accomplished I am being, because there will forever and always be more that I should be doing.
There is always another paper I need to be writing, another article I need to be reading, another topic I should be researching, more data I need to be analyzing. Even when I check off every single thing off my list for that week/month/quarter...there is another list that has yet to be written (which is just another thing  I need to do!) with requirements that need to be done that just haven't made it to paper yet but are floating in my head.
There is no real way to ever feel as though I'm not failing when it comes to school, it's a losing battle that way.

My running: I've got an injury, so at least I've got somewhat of an excuse, but even the idea of having an excuse as to why it is ok to fail, makes me feel like I'm failing. I've been actively working on doing the stretches given to me by the doctor, I actually completed the 3 full weeks of doing them 3 times per day and started testing out my knee by running (very, very small runs) a few times a week, but even then I start out with 3 tiny runs per week, then the next week I fall off the mark and don't run at all, and then the next week I run 1 or 2 times or I "forget" to do my stretches (which are now down to just once a day, since the 2x per day is no longer necessary). That isn't going to help my injury and I know that, so what the hell am I doing?
I'm not totally failing at my running, but I'm not doing much succeeding there either.

My self-care: I'm not a disheveled mess. I still manage to shower daily and do my hair and make-up too. So, I'm not failing in that area, but I'm not going above and beyond in it either. I definitely am doing the bare minimum to not be totally ashamed of myself, and I realize that my bare minimum is actually a lot more than a lot of people's extra fancy but I'm not focused on what others are doing that I'm not, I'm more focused on what I normally do that I'm no longer doing. I take pride in myself, or at least I used to. I don't think this is even something that those on the outside would even notice the difference, but I do... and really, that is what concerns me, not what others see but what  I see.
So the jury is still out on this area, but again... I wouldn't call any of it a success.

My relationship: I never know how much of this area I am to blame solely, since it takes two here but I suppose when something is amiss, it does not matter who is at fault, since both parties suffer. We're both so damn stressed out all the time and frustrated with our own careers/goals/set backs its hard to find the time to actually enjoy each other because by the time there is any free space for that, one of us is always preoccupied with some frustration we've got going on in the background we're not really present anyway. I think we both need to learn to press pause. I think this comes with time, with patience, with age, with dedication.
We're better at it than I think we used to be, but I think it's a long process couples take years to accomplish, and really...we've only been living together for going on 4 months so I think maybe I'll call this a half-success ;)

All in all, I am not pleased with my performance. If this were a review, I'd be getting a C- here. I'm not a complete waste of space, but improvement is most definitely required if productivity and success are the desired outcomes.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Running Update:16 months in and now an IT Band strain

I've been horrible lately about writing.
It's not that I don't have things I'd like to sit down and write about, and it's not totally about the time in which it takes, because I do have some down time in my crazy schedule. I'm not sure what it is.
Perhaps I should make an actual effort, carve out some time for it. I bet it would actually benefit my sanity a bit (isn't that part of the reason I began this in the first place?!)
So Sept. 19th I did something monumental.
I went to the doctor for problems I was having.
I cannot remember the last time I went to the doctor, let alone used the time effectively to address concerns I was having.
I'm turning into such a grown up.
My main concern was, in fact, my knee.
 I haven't been able to run in almost a month and it's been killing me.
I've noticed a lot of changes that I'm not happy about. My weight is one, but also, just my overall well being. As much as I hate running, I've realized I hate NOT running, much more.
So I went to the doctor for the pain I've been experiencing since July (After the craft dash)
Turns out I have an IT band strain, or iliotibial band syndrome
It's apparently a common injury for runners. Ya hear that Ma'? I've got myself a real athletic injury!! 
Never thought I'd see the day!
Any way, so I find this out and so I'm curious and nervous to hear what that means for me.
My doctor gave me some stretches to do 3 times a day for 3 weeks.
It was a print out that I actually also found online IT Band stretches and strengthening exercises 
from Runningtimes.com.
The Doc said if in 3 weeks I'm not seeing improvement, that the next step will be physical therapy.
So, I'm about a week and a half in and...... I'm in more pain!
I'm not sure if that is part of the process or not.
I was thinking it could be, because I'm stretching out a strain, so maybe it gets worse before it gets better? The doctor didn't explain that to me.
She told me after about a week of the stretches that I could try running and see how it feels. Obviously I am to run less than I normally would, she said about half my usual run.
I haven't tried it yet, because of the whole pain actually worse now thing.
The next step is to actually get out there and do it.
This next step, quite naturally, makes me a bit nervous.
I guess I'll never know, until I try.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Office Dress Code: and other lies they tell you

Two weeks of training completed.
Tuesday I'll see my first clients at a practicum  site completely unrelated to my school.
It's not as though the client's I saw through my school's clinic were not real.
They were people, with real, chronic, serious issues.
The practicum itself, however, was not so real.
It had ridiculous expectations, limitations, rules and requirements that I am quickly finding out...have nothing to do with how things work in actual organizations.
What I will say, is that my school clinic over-prepared me...which I suppose is much better than the reverse of that.
It over-prepared my ideas about therapy sessions, dress code requirements, procedures, paperwork, etc.
The dress code alone is one of the things I find the most comical. at my school clinic there were so many restrictions, fabric and length requirements and overall appearance rules...and then I get to my new site, where people are wearing denim and sneakers and I'm damn near in a pants suit.  
I am quite surprised how at ease I actually feel about this new practicum of mine.
There are quite a number of reasons it should scare me and I should be incredibly worried:
  • It is working with substance abuse issues
  • It is at a methadone clinic
  • There is an element of mandated treatment (which gives you quite a bit of resistance from clients)
  • I'm going from my prior caseload of 2 clients to (currently) 6 but that number will be 10-15 within the next month.
Despite all of that, I am surprisingly calm about it all. I mean, don't get me wrong. I am not completely calm, there definitely exists a level of anxiety and worry, but it is what I would call a "healthy" or "appropriate" amount given the circumstances.
Mostly I am just excited to be getting more experience and to get into the swing of things. I know there are elements such as paper work and assessments that will need to be done that will be tedious and overwhelming, but for now I'm more or less looking forward to it.
My school's clinic felt like there was so many limitations it was hard to actually accomplish much.
This new site, from what I can tell so far, is much more open and flexible in terms of giving me the reins and allowing me to make treatment decisions.
I suppose had I not gone through everything I did with my school clinic, I would not be so ready and willing to make all those decisions that have now been placed on my lap though.
It just feels good to be taking the next step.
It feels like I'm actually out in the real world, working toward something bigger than myself and my school.

I'm actually curious to see how I react to this experience of working at a methadone clinic.
I'm sure there are going to be many stressful times ahead, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it impacts me, in what ways I end up growing as a clinician and as a person in general.

Although, I haven't seen a client there yet, so this could all go out the window once that occurs and I realize what I'm actually in for!
For now, I will just remain optimistic about this experience and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow in any way that it may allow me to.

Monday, August 6, 2012

When to nurse it and when to push it?

Wow, how life can just take over and leave no room for anything enjoyable...like writing.
Over a month with no post, despite having much to say.. I suppose that is how it always goes. If you've actually got something to say, it's probably because you're out experiencing life and not sitting in front of your computer, waiting for an idea to strike.
On July 14th, 2012 I participated in my first race.
Ok, so that isn't entirely true. I volunteered for a race, and was the last leg of the run to ensure no runner was left behind.
Did I mention yet that this race involved numerous stops where a beer is had before going on to the next?
So it isn't the most prestigious race in the running world, but it sure was fun!
It was the 4th annual Craft Dash in North Portland. My boyfriend was also volunteering and that is how I got to know about it. It was 6K, although with all the stopping it wasn't exactly a full on race.
I did, however, manage to injure my knee AGAIN!
Today was actually my first run since that day.
The day after the Craft Dash my boyfriend and I had to pack up a 16' Penske truck with all his belongings and drive 12 hours down to the bay area.

 The days following were packing and unpacking, lots of heavy lifting and stairs too.
Needless to say, my injured knee went from bad to worse. 
I've started up with my knee exercises again, which I never should have stopped but it's so easy to forget to do them when my knee isn't in agony.
I also took it easy for awhile and just started going for walks in the last week to see how it's doing.
I went running today, despite knowing it wasn't my brightest of ideas but being driven by feeling lethargic and well, chubby.
I barely got half way into my run and knew it was a horrible choice, and then made an even worse choice: to continue.
That's the thing about an injury. How do you know when to nurse it, and when to push it?
Today, I definitely should have nursed it but of course I pushed it.
I'm not a very patient person, and injuries require a LOT of patience. Hopefully I haven't set myself back too far and can go again before too long. Perhaps for now, despite my resentment toward it..I'll nurse my knee a bit more and stick to walking.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guys in their 20's

Guys in their 20's are all just little lost souls.
Well, that is perhaps putting it much too harshly, but not entirely.
I'm at the age where my mid twenties are gone and my early 20's are barely recognizable and it has me contemplating things more and more. 

I'm making very general statements, based off my interactions throughout the years with males in their 20's. I'm talking boyfriends, friends, relatives, etc. All of them are included in this. 
Our 20's are a time of growth and exploration. This decade is spent learning how to be an adult, what it means to be a man or and woman, what kind of person we want to be, and the direction we want to go.
Our 20's are a time where we just begin to discover who we are, what our values are, and where our morals stand. 

In legal terms, the day you turn 18 is the day you are an adult.
The day you turn 20 you're officially no longer a teenager, and the day you turn 21...you have arrived!
Only to realize that your adult life has barely even began. (although, not all actually realize this, but it is true).
I'm not saying women are not a little lost in their 20's as well, but I think the process begins a bit sooner for them so by the time they are in their 20's, while there is still much exploration and contemplation, I think it's just....different. I've discussed it somewhat before and I'm sure I will explore it more as I continue on my journey, but now I'm just completely off topic. 

Males in their 20's. For some reason, and it never fails, they all go through a process of mourning the loss of their boyhood friends. Not an actual loss, but more so a symbolic loss. There is a time, usually in their early 20's where their friends start to have serious girlfriends and stop partying/drinking/partaking in the silly debauchery as often as they once did. Initially, the first to stray from the herd is ostracized. The other guys all harp on him for being "whipped" and letting a girl "control him". Then one by one they start to find partners and pair off and realize their friend with the girlfriend wasn't being an asshole, he was being in love and there is actually a difference. Some of them take much, much longer to realize this than others, some get it right away. There is a mourning process though, that they go through when they realize "it's never going to be the same as it used to be". 

During their 20's, guys are attempting to figure out who they are as a man, and no longer a boy. This is a hard process because there is a struggle between their urge to explore and experience and their feelings of necessity to be a family man, a father, a husband.  This inner struggle is different for all of them, some have much larger urges pulling them one way or the other, making the decisions they face a bit easier, but they all experience it. In your 20's, you see around you half of the people you know exploring other countries, vacationing, experiencing, enjoying the outside world. Then there is the other half that are getting married, starting businesses, buying homes, building a life on the inside

So this inner struggle, become materialized on the outside where there is living proof surrounding them that there are other paths to take. Guys in their 20's are still trying to decide who they are, which determines the paths taken. There is pressure to choose a path from the surrounding examples mixed with the internal questions and urges leaving guys in their 20's at a standstill. This leads to a lot of disappointment, confusion and heartbreak for those around them. 

This happens because that guy in his 20's makes promises and commitments (in relationships, friendships, career, family) based on what only a portion of him is sure he wants. Meanwhile, the other part of him is making choices that clash with the initial decisions leaving him and those around him confused and unsure. 

I haven't made it to my 30's just yet or had much interactions with males in that age bracket, so I'm not sure what happens after their 20's. What I do know, is that there is no male in his 20's who has it all figured out. As I said before, their 20's is a time for exploration of who they are and will become and what kind of man they will be. Although, being on the sidelines watching it all unfold (whether it is your boyfriend, friend, brother, son, etc) can be a little heartbreaking. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Running: 1 year and 2 months in: The newest goal: 100 miles for 2012

I've now been running for over a year. My first post was on May 3rd, 2011 where I had spoke about starting up my running on May 1st, 2011.
It is now June 22nd, 2012.
It has been a long, grueling, horrid process to become a runner.
I thought since it's been awhile, I'd track my latest progress from my Running App on my phone:

Stats: 6/22/12
  • Time: 19:30 min
  • Distance: 1.71 miles
  • Average pace: 11:24min/mile
  • Average Speed: 5.26mph
Now, while that is still far from excellence... I'd just like to compare it to my posting on October 10th, 2011...5 months in to running when I first got the iMapMyRun app I stated back in October that I'd use these stats as a "starting point":

Stats: 10/10/11

  • Time: 20 min
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Average pace: 13:40min/mile
  • Average Speed: 4.38mph
Hmmm... Taking a look at that, I'd say there are some major improvements in 8 months time. They are small, but they are improvements nonetheless.

Also, I came up with this ridiculous idea with the help of my best friend, DCal, that I would set a goal last month of running 100 miles in the year 2012. It was May and I was almost to 40 miles of running since January and DCal said "I bet you could double that and do 80 by the end of the year" and of course, my idiotic brain said "I bet I could do 100!!" and so there it began, this idea that I would complete 100 miles in 2012. 
The month of May due to sickness and vacations, I completed a lousy 3.87 miles. That alone was a sure fire way to lose my bet with myself.
Then comes June. I credit this to a combination of Finals+comp exams, the stress of having to find a new place to live, the increase in celebratory drinks & food because of birthdays and the school year ending and to my wonderful pal Scotty who had the nerve to (drunkenly) tell me that I had a belly...but it's June 22nd and I've already ran 19 miles this month!
I'm just a few miles shy of 60 miles and it's not even July.
Now, I'm sure that once classes and practicum start back up, I won't have as much time to run and will probably barely make my goal of 100 miles for 2012..but at the rate I'm currently going, I'll have that goal met before the years end no problem.
I'm hoping to keep up my motivation and continue with what I'm doing but only time will tell.
As for now, I'll just go ahead and be proud of myself.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthdays

Last Tuesday was my birthday.
We went out the weekend before to celebrate. One of my closest friends, Rob, was in town visiting his sister so we were able to go out for my birthday and he even came and met up with all of my grad school friends, which was nice to have a little piece of home with me.
The weekend celebration with school friends was slightly awkward. It was a joint birthday with a guy from my program, but a lot of people who went did not realize this and thought it was only for him, so that was embarrassing for me when it came to toasts and splitting up the check, I was left out of that.
My actual birthday consisted of a morning run, an afternoon meeting with a professor, a 45 minute phone call with Comcast that involved 6 transfers, tears and verbal obscenities. I watched some TV in sweats for the remainder of the afternoon. I did, however, receive some lovely gifts in the mail that day:
In the evening, I was taken out to dinner by some lovely ladies. The server even brought me a piece of cake with a candle it in, which was nice. I also was given a few gifts there.
All in all, it was a vast improvement from my awful birthday last year. I still cried on my birthday, but at least it wasn't from feeling alone and completely forgotten on my birthday. It was because the people at Comcast were being assholes. Completely different story.
I wish I could have been with my family. Birthday's just are not the same without them. Phone calls and cards in the mail are nice, but nothing beats family hugs and quality time.
Turning 28 did not have the same tough blow that turning 27 did. 27 meant the official end of my "mid-twenties". 27 means the entrance into your "late-twenties" and I think I definitely felt that last year. Turning 28, I'm still in my late-twenties and therefore there was no major transition. I can't really even grasp the whole 28 thing anyway I don't think at this point.
I wonder if birthdays will ever feel real? I'm guessing not if they haven't up to this point. What is a birthday anyway? Sometimes it just feels like a reminder that time is continuing on, and you're not where you thought you'd be/want to be/feel you should be and you haven't done what you set out to or lived enough or experienced enough.
That is an entirely too pessimistic attitude for it, I know. I should be looking at it as a celebration for everything I was able to accomplish, be it big, small or otherwise. To say anyone hasn't done enough in one year is discrediting everything that has been done.

This time last year:
I had just starting out running
I was about to finish my 1st year of grad school
I had been in a long distance relationship for only a few months
I was coming out of a horrible, dark place in life
I had never conducted therapy or seen a client
I was unemployed

And here I am, 1 year later:
I've been running for a year (still sucking at it, but still running  nevertheless)
I'm about to finish up my 2nd year of grad school
I have been in a long distance relationship for over a year and he is moving down here this summer and we took a vacation to another country together!
I'm seeing the light, I have goals and the future looks more hopeful than it did one year ago.
I have finished up my first practicum and preparing to start my second one and have now conducted therapy and seen clients
I have held a job for a year now.

So although things didn't pan out the way I'd hoped in some areas, and I'd wished things had gone differently or that I'd done more... I cannot discredit that which I have been able to accomplish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mexico Vacation

What I find interesting, is that the quarter during this year where I actually have some free time and I'm not ripping my hair out from constant stress, is the quarter I'm blogging considerably less.
Isn't that odd, how we do that? The busier we are, the more we're able to actually get done, where as when left with some idle time, less is accomplished.
I suppose I need this time because once next year hits, wowwie am I going to be in for a shocker.
In terms of practicum, the largest client load I've ever carried was 2 at one time.
My 3rd year placement supervisor told me in the interview I will have a client load of 10.
Holy hell. How on earth am I going to juggle 10 people's lives and problems, plus my own?
If I've learned anything in grad school, it's that they keep piling it on, and I keep finding a way to get it done, despite consistently feeling like I'm going to topple over and implode.
I just got back this weekend from a 5 day vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
 I didn't realize it initially but it was my first legitimate vacation sans parents or other people who know the area/language/place better than me.
It was also my first time out of the country where I was the "leader" in the sense that the reservations were in my name and also my boyfriend knows next to no Spanish and was relying on me for that part of it.
It was a little overwhelming, but overall it was a lovely trip.
This was also our first vacation together that did not include one of us visiting the other. 
Now back to working at the coffee shop, classes, research group and planning for the move. I feel rejuvenated and motivated now though, which is a nice feeling :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

My 1st Poster Presentation

Saturday marked another big day for me.
April 28th, 2012 I presented my very first poster at my very first conference.
I presented as first author at the Western Psychological Association (WPA) conference.


Up until I did so, I did not honestly think much of it. I mean, I knew that it was important in the sense that being first author is not something to come by easily. Depending on your research adviser, you could go your entire graduate career without ever being first author on anything. Granted, this is just a poster, and not a paper or an article or anything, but it is still worth something.
I didn't think much of it until, when it was time to set up, we were walking in to the room and my adviser turns to me and says, "Hey... Congratulations!" and I awkwardly laughed and thanked him, but then I realized... this is something to be congratulated about. I have put a lot of work into this, and now I get some recognition, some end result of pay off for all my time and effort.
We didn't have too many people ask questions, but those that did were surprisingly interested in it. I myself was not that interested in the topic, so for me I was shocked other people actually found it interesting enough to ask further questions. Most people at poster sessions just sort of skim over it quickly when passing by, some may even stop in front of your poster to read further, but not too many people ask questions unless it is something they're interested in.
I've never thought of myself as a "researcher". I mean I barely passed Stats last year, it's just never been my strong suit.
But there I was, with another member discussing future research topics we could explore before we even presented our current data. Granted, we are motivated by external forces, i.e: APA convention is in Hawaii next year :) but regardless, we were actually getting semi-excited about possible research ideas.
No matter the reason, I never thought I'd be excited about research.
It's amazing what the right mentor can inspire you to do.
I have my annual student evaluation with my adviser tomorrow. Initially I wasn't looking forward to it, but I actually feel like I've accomplished something this year. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Big news. Big changes.

So yesterday was the big Notification Day for practicum placement for our 3rd year of graduate school.
I had already been rejected from all but 1 site (or just not even given the time of day, no rejection, no contact whatsoever) so I knew there was only 1 possible phone call I would be getting, and even when I awoke yesterday,  I was still unsure of what my answer to the offer would be should I get one.
The way that notification day works (is awful, actually) is that beginning at 8:30am sites will be calling students to offer them a placement. As a student you must be available to take a phone call, because if you miss it, they do not call you back, they just go on to the next student in line and offer it to them. You also are only allowed to accept 1 offer, and if a site calls you that is lower on your list, you are able to put their offer "on hold" for 1 hour while you attempt to contact the site you really want to determine if they are going to make you an offer.
For people like me who only had one possible option that might call, it made the decision a little easier because I did not have to weigh my options between sites, I just had to decide if  I would take the offer from the one site, if given, or if I would opt out and take my chances at clearing house.
Clearing House... now that is a whole other story. Clearing House is basically when, after all the sites make their offers, those who still have openings, students who did not get offers or did not choose to take an offer get to look at the available sites and reapply all over again. It's like round 2 of a grueling process.
So my dilemma was that I had only 1 shot at 1 possible offer at a site that, while I did apply to it, it was one of my last choices. It was not working with a population that I wanted to work with, it had a number of reasons why I felt it wasn't a good fit for me, but there were also some things that I did like about it.
The night before I attempted to write out a "Pros and Cons" list to try and determine what choice I should make. I went back and forth about different things in my mind but in the end went to bed unsure of the decision.
The was a big decision to make because I would be committing myself for 1 year to a program, my future choices will be impacted by this decision as it determines the type of population I'll be working with, the amount of hours, etc. It also has an impact on a whole other area of my life completely unrelated to my career. My boyfriend will be moving down here this summer. The location of my practicum site would determine the location in which we would reside. I applied to a number of places spread out across the Bay Area and was left with one possibility of a site in Oakland, or taking a gamble on clearing house and ending up either much closer or much further away that I am now.

Yesterday morning I awoke at 8am, I wanted to make sure I had coffee in my system before possibly having to make any life altering decisions. As I sat there trying to inhale the caffeine, I still was unsure of whether or not my phone would ring, and if it did, what I would say.
I decided to pass the time on Facebook and checking my email while I waited. That was a horrible, terrible mistake. I watched the clock pass minute by minute, as soon as 8:30am struck people were posting on Facebook about "feelings of relief", "getting my #1 choice!" and "getting a placement", meanwhile I sat there, still half asleep, sweating with worry and staring at my silent phone. I found myself begging it to ring, so as to avoid feeling like a complete failure, all the while afraid for it to make a sound because that would mean I would actually have to make a decision and it wouldn't just be the universe deciding for me and forcing me into clearing house because I did not get any offers. I couldn't decide what was worse.
As the minutes dragged on, more and more people were congratulating one another, professing their excitement and relief, meanwhile people like me sat there staring at silence.
It felt like eternity, when in actuality, it was 9:01am when my phone rang with a "private number" calling. I saw the words, I heard the sound and still I thought "what are you going to say?" I didn't have time to read over my pros and cons list again to try and come to a conclusion quickly because if I missed this call, I'd miss any possibility.
I answered, it was the 1 site I still had a shot with calling to offer my a placement. Without hesitation, I accepted.
Immediately after I felt nauseous and regretted the decision.Stuck on the fact that other people were getting placed at their first choices, while I was stuck accepting an offer with my 7th (out of 8) choice.
I think I'm much too hard on myself though. Graduate school is all about rejection, disappointment, and fighting a losing battle to keep your head above water.
This is just yet another test of "how bad do you want it" and I've just got to pay my dues and prove I deserve a shot at it.
So with this practicum placement, comes the other big news: I'll be moving to Oakland.
I've lived in Mountain View now for almost 2 years, which has been nice, pretty dull and plain place to live but it has done the job for what I've needed it to be for me during these first years of graduate school.
Now though, with my boyfriend moving down here and us starting our life out together, it's time to move on from the security of Mountain View, and branch out to an adventure in Oakland. I actually have a pretty good feeling about this. Although the majority of my friends from school will be staying in this area and I won't see them as much, I'll have my boyfriend, and a place to actually call home and I think that might just be even better. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There's always time for dinner, especially when it involves potatoes!

I've been in kind of a rut in terms of food.
It's finals time, so I am just sort of shoveling down whatever will make the growling in my stomach go away as I'm racing from here to there or writing/studying for hours upon hours.
It is so easy around this time to lose sight of what is really important, my health. I don't get as much sleep, I don't eat as well, my stress levels are heightened, I'm not running as much... it all sort of gets put on the back burner.
Today, nodding off in the library after an 8 hour day of brain power I decided it was time to head home.
I went grocery shopping not too long ago with the thought of "if I have good food in my apartment, I'm more likely to eat it."
This is true, except it takes time to make most of it, so I've been surviving off the grab-and-go foods I bought.
I decided that tonight that needed to change. Since I didn't have class tonight like I normally do, I was home earlier than usual and actually had the time to make a good dinner.
So I've got the time, I've got some good potential in terms of ingredients, but I am at a loss as to what to cook!
I decided to wing it and came up with a pretty great recipe and decided it's worth documenting for later.

Ingredients:
Red potatoes (the amount is flexible and will depend on how many people you're serving/how much leftovers you want and how big of a dish you're using)
Garlic Salt -to taste
Pepper -to taste
Butter (or butter substitute) - 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons
Vegetable broth -3/4 cup
 Parmesan cheese (as topping)


Preheat the oven for 375 degrees.
  • Slice the red potatoes as thin or thick as you like, keeping in mind that the thicker they are, the longer it may take.
  • Layer them laying flat on the bottom of the baking dish (any old over-safe baking dish will do and again, size depends on how much you plan to make)
  • Season with garlic salt and pepper (or whatever seasonings you prefer on potatoes)
  • Repeat the last 2 steps: (layer potatoes & season)
  • Until you've used up your potatoes. (I had 2 layers in mine)
  • Next top with the butter. (just drop it on top, it will melt)
  • Lastly add the vegetable broth
Put the dish into the oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Stir the contents in the dish, then keep it in for another 5 min or so.
Next, Cover the dish with foil and keep in the over for about 15 or so minutes longer until more of the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
(These times may differ depending on the oven, so just be aware of that)

This is how they looked when I removed them from the oven. There is still a fair amount of liquid in the pan, and that is fine.
Put them on a plate and top with some Parmesan cheese.


 Now they're ready to eat!
I paired mine with chicken and green beans, which were all delicious together, but they would be a good side for really any dish you'd normally eat potatoes with :)

I will most definitely be making these again. It was a pretty no-fuss dish, once you get them sliced and into the dish its just a matter of waiting for the oven to do it's thing.
If I can do it with my "grad-school" brain (that is what my peers and I have labeled all the lame mistakes we make in our daily functioning because our brains have turned to mush from all the studying/reading/writing) anyone can do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

At home banana-avocado hair mask. Beauty on a grad school budget :)

Something I came across recently is the idea of at-home hair masks.
I have dreadfully damaged hair due mostly in part to the massive amount of heat styling I do.
I can't help it, this curly/wavy sometimes flat-sometimes frizzy mess needs to be controlled.
I exert control via heat products and lots and lots of hair spray ;)
That being said, my hair is in dire need of some tender loving care.
A key factor in my hair not receiving the love it needs is because that love....cost $$ !
And this broke grad student doesn't have a whole lot of that.
So I'm drawn to the at-home idea of do-it-yourself hair lovin.
I looked for some hints online as to good products to use and came across a number of different choices.
I decided to go what was already in my kitchen.

Ingredients for at-home hair mask:
1 Banana
1 Avocado
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Helpful hints:
  • Depending on your hair length, you may only need 1/2 banana and 1/2 avocado but I have longer hair, so I used the entire banana and avocado.
  • I found it helpful to use a banana and avocado that are pretty ripe..makes them much, much easier to mash.
  • So, if you have some sort of blender or food processor I would VERY MUCH recommend using this as the banana needs to be fairly liquified. I did not have these tools, however, so I just did my best to really mash the banana up as much as I could.  What tends to happen is you will be left with bits of banana in your hair after if it is not mashed up or blended well enough. Just a thought. I survived this though, with only a few bits to pick out later.

Steps:
  1. Mash banana (either very, very well by hand or in a processor or blender) until smooth (although, again if this is by hand..there is a limit to how smooth it will actually get)
  2.  Next mash the avocado in with the banana
  3.  Add in the egg, mix well
  4.  Add the olive oil
  5.  Apply to dry hair. Leave on for 20-30 min (I went the full time, my hair really needs it!) 
  6.  Rinse with cool water
  7. Shampoo with your regular shampoo, you may want to repeat to make sure you got everything out. 
Your hair will honestly look and feel and smell so amazing! I even got compliments on how good my hair looked the next day.

The only thing I did not take into account, was my mild allergic reaction I get to bananas. They make my throat itchy. It's never been enough to warrant a stoppage on consumption, just a tiny annoyance..but I enjoy them so I just endure it and it's never caused a major problem.
What resulted from this mask is that it made my skin incredibly itchy. Much like it does to my throat, but now it was my head and then when I rinsed my hair in the shower...my skin.
So, allergies are something to consider.
Although, it had such great results on my hair.. I would likely do this again and just endure the itch :) Pain is beauty, right?
The banana could easily be left out of this also and just the avocado, egg and olive oil would be really great for your hair (or leave out the avocado if they aren't in season where you live) I like in California so we're spoiled in that way that they're always around.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running Update: 10 months in, 2 miles finally accomplished.

Yesterday marked an important day for me.
For the first time in my life, I ran 2 miles!
I know compared to the rest of the "runners" out there, this is chump change...
but for me it was a first in a lifetime thing.
2 MILES.
That means I'm only ONE mile away from marking a 5K off my bucket list.
I started running 10 months ago. I set off in May, beginning with intervals of walking/running at which time 5 minutes of running and I felt like I may collapse.
Now of course, this 2 miles I did yesterday was not race and I most definitely did not run them at any sort of quick pace. I ran them at my pace.
My average pace yesterday was: 12:25 min/mile.
I've been having knee pain still, despite the knee exercises I've been doing on my off days so I wasn't sure if I should even run yesterday.
But sometimes you just get fed up with all the things that hold you back. I know that pain is not something to mess with. I've been really careful with my knee as to avoid major injury, but sometimes...the excuses, no matter how valid just get in the way of making progress.
After looking over my progress since I got the MapmyRun app for my phone in October the other night, I realized I was consistently doing 1.5 miles about 3 times per week before my knee pain started.
Now I was doing only 1 mile about 1 or 2 times per week.
I decided that needed to change.  
So I set off yesterday originally just planning on doing my 1.5 miles again.
But something made me keep going. Something inside me said that 1.5 just wasn't going to cut it.
Although I endured some problems with my lungs and knees and had a killer ache in my side, I finished the 2 miles.
2 miles isn't much for most people, but its 5,280 feet closer to my goal of a 5K...and It's also proof that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I. AM. A. RUNNER.

If my running habit and graduate school (and frankly, my past dating history if we're being honest) are any indication of my behavior, I am in fact a masochist.

I'm never going to be a great runner. It is quite likely I will always struggle with running with my lungs and my knee problems. I will probably never run a marathon, and maybe never even a 10K.
I will never be a fast runner. I will likely never win a race against anyone other than 4th graders (and even then, they have the stamina and energy to beat me).
I may never develop an awesome form while running and will probably always resemble a wounded animal trying to scurry away from its predator.
I've come to terms with the fact that running is not a strength of mine, but a rather enormous weakness...and yet, I keep doing it.
It's similar to graduate school in that, no matter what tactic I use, what strategy I come up with... I continuously feel like I am falling short. I constantly feel like I'm up against odds that are far too great to ever actually succeed and yet... I'll  wake up and do it all again tomorrow. That must be the masochist in me.

There are moments, however, that shine a little light. Just enough to give me a glimmer of hope that maybe I'm not failing outright.
 "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Thomas Edison.
 I watched a movie last night that quoted Mr. Edison, One Week. Although I've heard the quote numerous times, I'd never actually listened.

When you're running, and you pass another person running sometimes they give you a nod or a wave. It is a small gesture, if you're too into what you're doing you may even miss it.
It is a gesture that says "I get it." it says "I respect what you're doing" because they are doing the same thing. This person who gives me this small gesture does not know whether I'm running a 7 mile route or just around the block. This person does not know if I've won any races, done any marathons or if this is my first time running in years. The fact is, this person does not care. This person does not see what I have done or what I will do...they only see what I am doing. Running. Regardless of all the things that I think it takes, to this person, and to the world I am a runner.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mid-Quarter Blues.

It's that mid point in the quarter. I'm literally dragging my physical body around going through the motions meanwhile my mind has ceased to cooperate for a little over a week now.
I'm absolutely and completely exhausted. Physically, emotionally and sure as hell mentally.
I know I will make it out of this sluggish funk, I do every quarter, I eventually become re-energized just enough to power through the last half of the quarter, only to be bombarded by another and another and the cycle continues.  I just have to wait it out, wait for the day I wake up and can actually function semi-properly.
Please come soon. I am quickly dissolving into a pile of pathetic.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running Update: 9 months=set backs and reroutes

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with this knee pain.
Maybe it's just that I'm too impatient, but I'd say, in terms of this running business, I've done a pretty damn good job and taking it sllloooowwww and being patient about my progress.
Back in November, when I attempted to increase my mile time, (or rather, decrease) was when the knee pain made its majorly unwelcomed appearance. I took my time, I took it easy, I didn't push it. Fast forward to January, after giving my knees a break, I started back up again, but this time slow and steady, running less distance and at a slower pace to get my legs back into the groove.
Come February, I decide my 1 mile runs weren't cutting it anymore (since I was consistently doing 1.5 miles pre knee pain) So Saturday I decided since I needed to deposit a check and my bank isn't too far from my apt that I'll run there and back.
So I do this, and I do ok actually. I determine that the distance totals 1.5 miles. I feel pretty good about the fact that I'm able to do 1.5 miles again.
That is until about 20 minutes after my run, when the pain has returned.
I took a month running 2-3 times per week of running a slow  mile...and then the one time I do a SLOW 1.5 miles my knee just can't bare it.
I'd call bullshit, but it's my own knee and I can't seem to escape it.
So in light of this new found frustration, I've turned to the internet since it helped me get this running thing going in the first place (good shoes to get, interval programs to increase running, etc) and I have come up with what I hope will be the end to this godawful pain.
Strengthening Weak Knees is a video I came across that was originally from MadeFitTV.
Now this girl is a chatty one, but she has some good things to say.
I'm now officially implementing these knee strengthening exercises into my weekly routine.
There will be 2-3 times a week I run, and on the days I'm not running I will do these exercises to hopefully get some strength built up in those damn knees of mine.
I am determined not to quit.
I started running in May 2011... it is now Feb 2012 and I am still at it. Granted, I haven't made much progress, but again, I can't compare myself to what "normal people" are capable of.
I just have to keep reminding myself that I CAN RUN A CONSISTENT MILE!!
That is progress. That is something that no matter how small it may seem to others or on the grand scale of running...it is something I've never been able to do until last year in my almost 3 decades on this planet...therefore I will muffle the sounds of that little voice that tells me to quit, that tells me I'm not good enough and that I am pathetic.
I will shove a running sock right in the mouth of that voice that tells me my puny mile pales in comparison to the rest of the running world and press on.
Of course I'd love it if I were able to be running 3 miles a day, or hell even 3 miles even once a week!
But I'm not there yet, and maybe I'll never be.
Where I am at, is 1 mile further than I was in May.
I refuse to give up, because I give up on everything else that I can't master.
Running will not be on that list.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

With just one click of a button

On this day, 1 year ago I did something I don't ordinarily do.
I accepted a friend request from a male I'd never met before on Facebook.
Little did I know that would change my entire outlook on myself, on the future, and on life in general.

This time last year, I was in a bad place. I was absolutely heartbroken after having been dumped by the man I thought I was going to spend my life with and marry. The one I'd been in love with since I was 16 and thought I had finally, finally gotten it right with him.
Him breaking up with me crushed my soul in a way I wasn't even aware was possible. I felt lower than any low I'd ever experienced before, and with the things I've endured in life... that is a pretty low down low.
I was failing classes, drinking heavily and having thoughts that were quite detrimental to my psyche (to put it lightly).
I was in a place where I could not see a light at the end. I did not see a way out of the darkness.
This sounds overly dramatic, but it is honestly putting it lightly.

So back to this friend request. I'm in the state of mind/heart/soul that I just previously described and I get a random, out of the blue request from someone I'm positive I've never met. We have one friend in common, so before I do anything I shoot her a text asking what this guy's story is.
Once given the ok that this guy isn't half bad, I proceed and send a message asking if we'd met before.
This turned into a conversation, which lead to an accept of the request, which lead to a phone number exchange which eventually lead to an in person meet up when I am back home for a visit.


Fast forward to one year later and here I am. Not only still in contact with this fellow, but happily in a relationship with him, experiencing holidays, vacations, events etc with him on my arm.Passing classes, drinking only in moderation and able to see there is a bright light at the end.

If one year ago you would have told me this is where I'd be...I'd have probably been too drunk to hear you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Little Mister

Today is an exciting day for my family.
We've welcomed yet another baby into our lives.
He is without a name, so I've just been referring to him as Little Mister. 7lbs 14oz of human life.
This is not the first time I've become an aunt. He is my 5th nephew and I have 1 niece. My siblings sure know how to procreate ;)
This is also not the first time I've missed out on my niece/nephews being born. In fact, I've missed each one of their births. Some I was just too young to know what was going on (I believe I was only 11 when my first nephew was born) or I was being a foolish rebellious teen and ran away from home the night my 2nd nephew was born (something I still hate my 16 year old self for) and the others I was away at school.
My 4th nephew was actually born during my graduation week from undergrad.
And now Little Mister gets added to the list of nephews I did not get to welcome into the world.
Now I realize there isn't actually anything I could do, even if I were there. It's not like I would be in the room or aiding in any way.
I would, however, be able to drop by the hospital and take photos with him, so that when he's older I can say "yep, see there I was".
I can't say that for any of them.
Thankfully, I was present for both of my goddaughter's births. I actually watched them being born and was a part of the process. This is vital to me now, because I feel like I miss out on so much of their lives now.

I know I can't be everything to everyone... but these little kiddos pull on my heart strings like I never believed possible and it pains me that they don't know me as well as they should, that I miss out on birthdays and milestones and especially the hilarity in every day moments.

Happy day of birth Little Mister. Hopefully you'll have a name soon enough, and I'll get to meet you sometime in the (very) near future.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pleasant Activities

In my program, we have weekly supervision for our practicum at the clinic. This means we meet for 1 hour of individual supervision and 2 hours per week  for group supervision. Group is a time to talk about cases, get feedback from peers about complications, questions, concerns or frustrations we're encountering as student therapists. This is also a time for us to get some didactic training and learn skills to implement in therapy.
So in my group supervision today, we were assigned a task.
"Pleasant Activities" is a tool we sometimes use in cognitive-behavioral therapy for clients.
Our supervisor thought that:
A. Since practicum applications are due in the next few weeks and we all seemed pretty worthless and exhausted it would be a good idea to get us doing things we enjoy
and B. That it's always helpful as therapists if we partake in the activities ourselves so we know what we're asking our clients to do.
So for this week, we are to come up with a list of 10 pleasant activities, and track the activities we partake in during the say, and a mood score at the end of the day. 0 being horrible to 10 being wonderful..(pretty much).
These activities can be anything we take pleasure in. These can be bigger things that take a fair amount of time, or even small things that take only minutes.
Now, since these are things that I theoretically should be able to accomplish over the next week (while I'm tracking) I left off the impossible such as: sex, going on a date, cuddling, etc since having a long distance relationship makes all of those things unattainable for the next 7 (but actually more like 25) days. I also left off things that I know I will not be able to do in the next week, such as: take a vacation, go bowling, etc.
So after much debate (in my own mind, of course) I have developed my 10 pleasant activities and they are as follows (and in no particular order):

1. "Rocking out" (singing loudly) in my car while driving
2. Baking
3. Cooking
4. What I have deemed as the "Running Aftermath" (since I absolutely LOATHE the feeling before/during/after running, and find ZERO enjoyment in that aspect.... but have found that I tend to have more energy and better days overall on the days I run, I am calling this the "Running Aftermath" and that, I do find pleasant).
5. Pooping 
6. Reading for pleasure (so, nothing school related!)
7. Watching my weekly shows on TV, and not catching up online later (so getting to watch Gossip Girl, Glee, New Girl, etc when they actually air)
8. Dancing
9. Organizing: room/clothes/shelves/etc
10. Planning Vacations

What I have come to realize about my list is that none of them (aside from #7) are sedentary, or without purpose. All the activities I've listed are active, in terms of achieving something, producing something or accomplishing something.
I do not have anything on here that would be deemed as "relaxing" ....although reading could be, but aside from that (and even then, depending on what I'm reading, I'm still learning/absorbing). There is no mention on this list of 'sitting in a park', 'meditating', 'taking a bath', or 'relaxation breathing'.
I'm much too high strung for that I think. Which is ironic, maybe?
When I'm stressed out, it is usually involving feeling pressed for time, rushed, on a budget/limit/time constraint of sorts, so the thought of 'taking a break' to do something relaxing, actually just stresses me out more.
I think I have a need to feel like I'm being productive 24 hours of every day.
Maybe that is why my dreams are always so intense and vivid and I remember them in their entirety. Even when I'm sleeping, my brain feels like it has to be processing information on full speed.
If I am stressed out, I want to have the feeling of being able to complete/produce/accomplish in order to feel worth something. Hence the baking/cooking/organizing/planning items on my list.
Although, I'm not sure which category "rocking out" really falls under. Certainly not "relaxing" or "sedentary".
And for those who caught #5... I deem that as highly productive. Staying regular is a part of the body working, producing and accomplishing ;)

*Edit: So, about a half an hour after I wrote this post, I started to think about the activities I'd listed. I came to the realization that none of my activities involve other people, or being outside of my apartment for that matter (aside from "rocking out")
That kind of make me a little bit sad, I think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Birthday Surprises

So this weekend, despite all the insanity that is graduate school, was my boyfriend's birthday.
Thankfully, I managed to put all school things related on hold for the few days he was here.
Actually, that is not entirely correct.
My school decided a month or so ago, that we would have a mandatory Saturday class.
Only 1 per month so it wasn't a total drag, except...you guessed it. That Saturday class would fall on my boyfriend's birthday weekend visit. Despite that, I had hoped to make it as wonderful as possible.
As a surprise, I took him to see a musician he really likes.
regardless of his countless questions and probings, I actually managed to keep it a secret until we showed up to the location of the show, and he saw the guy on stage.
The 3rd time I ever hung out with my boyfriend, I was actually supposed to meet him to watch Craig Carothers at the Kennedy School in Portland. I showed up late, and missed the show. This was in February 2011. It just so happened that Craig was playing in a city about 10 minutes from my place down here in the Bay Area on the weekend my boyfriend was in town for his birthday.
Almost a year later, and we get to see Craig Carothers play together. It was an awesome show, and Craig is really an awesome guy. He came and talked to us a number of different times during breaks, etc. He spent time talking with a lot of his fans which I feel like is rare to see in performers nowadays .

I also surprised my boyfriend with a cake I baked and other little various things.. He is not a big fan of cake. He mentioned once that he carrot cake is the only cake he does like. So of course, I searched for a recipe and tweaked it slightly to accommodate for my liking and made homemade frosting to accompany it.
Now, other than my 5th grade frosting skills and glitter writing, it turned out pretty good for my first attempt.
Overall, I think he was pretty surprised and I know he was very thankful.
I feel like it was a sucessful birthday weekend.
The only problem (besides the fact that my boyfriend was only in town for about 3 days) is that now, all that school work I placed on hold for those few days, is coming crashing down on me.
So much to do, and not enough energy to do any of it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Smash Book really does seem like a smashing idea.

                                                      (Video taken from YouTube)
I've never heard of one of these. It is called a Smash Book.
I think this is something I will need to be obtaining. It's everything I've always done, but a book that has convenient supplies to go with it that make it all go together in organized chaos, which is how everything in my life tends to be...so it's only fitting.
I already have a little notebook that I write down little quotes/thoughts to remember/ etc.
I had one in High School and I absolutely cherish it. Now, if I had one of these.. I could make use of all those papers etc that I refuse to throw away, but remain in the bottom of drawers and stuffed in between books waiting indefinitely for a home.
This is on my *someday* list, you know when I have extra money to spare... so maybe 10 years from now :/

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Running: remember that?

Yeah, I don't either.
It's been 2 months since I last went on a run.
There were a multitude of things that seemed to get in the way of it.
  • I was having problems with my left knee, it was pretty bad to the point where I was icing it multiple times a day so that scared me a bit and I didn't want to do anything to damage it further.
  • It is also winter, and even in California...it gets to be 38-45 degrees in the morning and that is hard to run in that type of weather (at least for me, I know there are crazy folks who do it)
  • And breaks.. I was up in WA/OR for a good chunk of that time. I am fine with running up there, expect that the mornings there are 25-30 degrees and that is for sure entirely too cold to run in (although, again...I saw many crazy folks who do it) I think if I were up there constantly, and I was running regularly I would get used to the gradual drop in temperature but coming from here those 10-15 degrees difference are a big difference.
Regardless, despite all my excuses, however valid they may be.. they are just that. Excuses.
Today, I went running for the first time in 2 months.
Now, remember here, when I say "running" I mean my "pathetic excuse for a jog" which is close to running as I am capable of at this point.
I remembered today how much I really hate running.
So to recap:
Back in November, I was averaging 1.5 miles about 2-3 times a week. I had a pretty consistent pace around 13 min/mile. I had just began to work on decreasing my min/mile aiming at a 10 minute mile. (Remember these are goals for myself, not for the average person, since the average person does not seem to have any trouble running a 10 min mile in the first place).
Since I had not run in two months, I was worried about what I was capable of, how I would do, how my knee would feel, etc.
-I debated just doing a walk. I used to walk a lot and can walk for miles. I enjoy walking, but since I've started running, and know that I am now capable of more than just walking, it makes me feel like I am not doing all I could do...if that even makes any sense?
-Then I thought maybe I'd do some of the run/walk intervals I started out with to get into running in the first place. Those are helpful and don't cause too many problems for me.
-Then I decided... I just need to run.
(this all happened will laying in bed this morning, reluctant to get up)

I took up running when I was in a really bad, horrible place in my life and needed a way out that was not the other methods of self-abuse I had developed. Running is my own form of self-harm (because I absolutely despise it) that is a positive alternative to the things I was doing. I refuse to let running be one of the many things I randomly decide to take up and then abandon because I lose faith in my ability to succeed.
I have to just keep running. No matter how slow I am going, no matter how many people around me are doing it better, doing it more often, and going further... I can't give up. I owe it to myself on so many levels to keep going.

So today, January 14th 2012: I ran 1 mile/12:50min. 
Now all in all, this isn't that great. nothing to write home about.
What is does tell me, is that despite taking a 2 month hiatus, I am still capable of running a mile.
The first time I ever ran a mile in my entire life (almost 30 years here on this planet) was in summer of 2011.
6 months ago I ran my first mile ever, and here I am 6 months later...with a 2 month break...and I still did it.
Today, I will be proud of myself.
Proud of the very small accomplishment on the grand scale of accomplishments.
I can still run a mile.
I just have to keep running.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perpetually 10 minutes late

Just like that... I'm back into the thick of it.
As the end of my first week back at school comes to a close...I'm absolutely, incredibly, without a doubt...EXHAUSTED.
It's unbelievable how much a person can actually cram into one day.
Gone are the days where the only thing on the agenda was school, or just a shift at work.
My days are jam packed from the time I open my eyes until I am finally able to sit down and take a breath 12 hours later...only to wake up and do a laundry list of other things the next day, even though I still haven't finished everything I was supposed to the day before.
I go from class, to seeing a client, to working on research,  reading articles, then going to a night class, or its hours of research responsibilities, to seeing a client, to seeing another client, to more research, to an appointment, then back for research meeting  and remembering at 7:15pm that you have paperwork that must be completed before 8pm or a practicum fair in San Fransisco in the morning then back down to the south bay to work a closing shift.
I don't know how it's possible, but I seem to forget at the beginning of each quarter how much school takes over your life, your time, your sleep, your mind, your sanity.
Each quarter I spend the first 2 weeks drowning in my responsibilities until I eventually, manage to construct a temporary floatation device that seems to hold up just long enough for me to survive finals but seems to deteriorate and is no where to be found come the next quarter.
I am a planner, I prefer to come prepared, on time and ready for what life has for me.
Graduate school makes this damn near impossible...and the first few weeks of the quarter, this yearning to be prepared and to be able to plan is an absolutely unattainable desire.
I just need to settle into this new schedule. I've some how managed to set myself up for an excruciatingly difficult quarter. My responsibilities are swallowing me whole.
Every moment of every day feels like I'm the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
Where I got this photo
"I'm late, I'm late...for absolutely every possible thing I'm supposed to be doing today!"
I got back from the PNW on Tuesday afternoon, it's Friday evening. I've yet to unpack, I bought only a few survival items from the grocery store in order to avoid starving, my papers from last quarter and this quarter are on every shelf, stuffed in every space near my desk in complete disarray. 
Thank my lucky stars I have tomorrow off from EVERYTHING!
I will be spending probably 8 of the hours reading for classes/preparing for practicum/research duties...
but for the other hours I am awake and not glued to my computer.. I plan to do laundry, maybe unpack, and certainly try and get my life a little more organized.
And for sanity purposes... I should see which of my favorite shows started up again with new episodes and give my brain a rest and catch up on some of those online ;)
Hmm.. that sure sounds like a lot to cram into one "free" Saturday. Some of those things will have to wait. Most likely the unpacking.