General Adventures

Wabi-Sabi

Earlier this week I came across an article from Mental Floss called "10 Foreign Words We Need in English". It features words from other languages that don't have a word in English that mean the same thing. They're beautiful in their poetic simplicity and the illustrations that go with them are lovely. 

One of my favorites from this list was "wabi-sabi".

Wabi-sabin. Finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death.

Snagged Threads

This summer has been a pretty challenging one for me. Spending the nicests months of the year effectively immobilized while my leg healed was extremely depressing. I had all these high hopes of training outside and making some real progress with parkour, I just launched the local women's parkour meetups, and had finally integrated going to the gym in my schedule. It was a priority, which has always been the struggle for me. After 4 months or so, it's hard for me to think about what's next, but I think that September is my line in the sand and I'm excited to ease back into it. Autumn is in the air and the cool air tells me that winter is coming. Soon the gym will be my sanctuary again and I can't wait! I love connecting with people who do amazing things, it motivates me to keep evolving. 


Earlier this week I went to lunch with my boss and mentor. We occasionally go to Wok in the Park for their lunch special and Vietnamese iced coffee. It's a nice, low key way to check-in about how work is going and just connect on a human level. Mahtab's personality is engaging, her laugh fills a room, and her passion for quality experiences is inspiring. These lunch meetings always give me something to think on and this week was no different. 

When we got back to the office, I wrote down some thoughts about what we talked about and this analogy about people really stuck with me:

People are like colorful threads and the time you spend with them weaves integral details into the tapestry of your life. When those threads get snagged or pulled out, something feels like it’s missing and can’t be retrieved. Our experiences are tied to the people we share them with so when someone leaves your life it can feel like those experiences are lost or invalidated since you can't go back and relive them with someone else. It's painful and your eye keeps going back to that snag because it's just so obviously there. However, it's important to remember those moments are valuable on their own and help paint the greater picture of who you are. The tapestry might not be perfect, few things are. Learning from an experience and letting it educate future decisions is part of figuring out what it means to be human. 

I wanted to write it down so I would have someplace to come back to it again in the future, but I also thought it felt worth sharing because I know I'm not the only one who experiences this.


During our lunch date, we talked about a few other topics that were more work and task management related which I would like to explore in greater detail. Things like not being a slave to constantly checking email, breaking projects into 15 minute long chunks, and using notes to capture quick thoughts that might otherwise distract me. I might report back on those later once I've had a chance to explore them. 

I want to get into the habit of writing more. Even though this summer felt like a pitty party for my leg, I actually did a lot of fun things that I wish I had captured. Whether I keep a personal journal using Day One (which is an awesome app by the way) or share things here on my website, I think writing helps me keep it all in perspective. It's just hard to find the time!

Another Year of Happy

Yesterday was my 27th birthday. I spent Friday evening celebrating with friends at my favorite restaurant, Wok in the Park. After that, we saw Ender's Game for opening night. With over 20 people that came to dinner, I was blown away with the amount of love and awesomeness I have surrounded myself with over the past few years. I think birthdays are a great chance to remind me of the people that have come together to make my life amazing. 

 Como Lake

Como Lake

Live your Legend

On Saturday, my actual birthday, I went to an event called "Live your Legend: Twin Cities" . The best way I can describe it is that it was a meetup of like-minded individuals who wanted to pursue their passions. It was based on some of the theories and practices of Scott Dinsmore (check out his TEDx talk). Having a group that can support, encourage and keep each other accountable seems like a great approach for entrepreneurial thinking.

I got some great feedback on my questions and struggles, along with some books, online resources, and activities that I can use to create goals for my professional development and potentially turn hobbies into something more. When I got home, I created a mind-map of where I am today to help visualize my current priorities. This might become a new tradition for each birthday to capture a snapshot in time every year. The next step is to identify what my priorities are, think about how I spend my time, and create a plan for advancing my goals. The idea of a personal renaissance intrigues me, I can't wait to see where this goes. 

 Life at 27 Mind Map

Life at 27 Mind Map

October Progress Video

And with the beginning of a new month, that means one has just ended. Here is my progress video for October. This video is pretty much all vaults and momentum transfers because I was only able to go to 3 or 4 classes this month thanks to an angry ankle. Fortunately the ankle is better now, so it's time to beat it up again!  

This video really brings my knee issues to my attention. I'm favoring my knees by using my back to absorb landings...which is dumb and useless. Definitely have to work on healing/strengthening my knees.  

The Color Run 2013

Header_Color Run.jpg

This morning I participated in my first Color Run. It was a blast and I'm so glad I got to share the adventure with such wonderful people. I even reunited with an old friend, albeit temporarily as his group started before mine. This thing was marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I thought it delivered. I managed to only nail about 3 people with my hoop on the walk, maybe half a dozen more after we crossed the finish line. I don't think I will ever understand why people can't see brightly colored objects moving in their near vicinity.

There were a few knocks against the run/runners, specifically the sheer amount of litter caused by the color packets and people being inconsiderate jerks about where the trash receptacles were. I also thought that it wasn't a very good run for kids and babies but sure enough there were strollers aplenty. Let's give those developing lungs a good dose of cornstarch to get them working hard!

I'm not really sure what else to say about it. I can't wait to go again next year. Overall I think the run was very well organized and people were obviously having a good time.

Click on the images below to page through the gallery.

Joggers for Julian - Time to Fly

Now that spring is finally here (although someone should tell Minnesota that... seriously, snow?), my office is getting ready for the big Time to Fly event for Children's Cancer Research Fund. This will be the third year in a row that we have participated in the event as Joggers for Julian in memory of Julian Golden. You can read more about Julian's story at JulianGolden.com. Julian is an amazing inspiration, and his legacy burns brightest during this event where we have consistently raised a great deal of money for CCRF. To help me meet my fundraising goal of $250, I would like to offer to paint a portrait of a pet to anyone that donates $50 or more through my donation page.

Here's the deal:

  • Donate $50 or more to the Time to Fly event via my donation page
  • I'll get an email notifying me of the donation
  • I will do a happy dance, sadly there will be no witnesses
  • Within one week of your donation, I will contact you via the email that you provided when you made your donation to discuss the details of your pet portrait and get reference photos

Rules, restrictions and mumbo-jumbo:

  • This offer is limited to pets or animals in general only. Trust me, you don't want me painting your child or your favorite vacation spot.
  • Reference photos must be supplied by you and you must have legal rights to them. Please do not pull an image off of the internet and say you want that painted. That's not nice.
  • Art will be done using the supplies I currently have. I'm not made of money at the moment and don't intend on buying a bunch of new supplies to feed this whim. Check out the list below for available options. You aren't limited to paintings!
  • All pieces will be completed in the year 2013. If you are thinking about making this a gift, I will do my best to work with a deadline. But please tell me in advance.
  • The size of the piece may be limited by the amount of your donation. I'm not going to do an epic three canvas triptych of Fluffy riding into battle for $50. Email me if you want more specific sizing information.
  • I reserve the right to photograph and publish the finished painting, progress photos and/or your pets name on this website. I respect your privacy and will not publish your name or email information.
  • If you are not located in the Twin Cities area, we will need to arrange shipping. All shipping fees to be paid for by recipient.
  • I reserve the right to cap this offer at any time if I get overwhelmed with requests. Although I have my doubts people will be lining up for this. PROVE ME WRONG!
  • This offer ends on June 22nd. All funds must be raised before the Time to Fly event. Paintings will be complete in the year 2013.
  • These rules are subject to change if I think of something else important.

Mediums, supplies and options:

I have A LOT of art supplies. Over the years I've sampled waaaay more techniques than any sane person would bother with.  That being said, you can pick and choose from any of the fun options below. I am notorious for mixing mediums and would love to explore your ideas.

  • Acrylic paint (Canvas sizes available: 8" x 8" or 8" x 10", larger canvas options available for larger donations, email me for details)
  • Chalk pastel
  • Stencils/spray paint
  • Scratchboard (Sizes available: 8" x 8" or 8" x 10")
  • Munny dolls
  • Watercolor
  • Water soluble pencils
  • Charcoal
  • Espresso watercolor
  • Embroidery
  • Digital illustration
  • Decorative paper
  • Watercolor paper
  • Yupo paper 
  • Gloss varnish
  • Spray fixative

[gallery columns="2" ids="1722,1743,1746,1756,1299,353,1744,1745,1770,1777,1778"]

I was inspired to do this by my co-worker, Annette who is having a bake sale to help raise money. If you want some of the most amazing cookies in your life, head over to her site and give more money! If you decide you want cookies AND art, I could be convinced to have your donation to Annette's bake sale count toward your donation for art too. I would need to confirm your donation with Annette before beginning and the balance of your donation would need to be made on my donation page so I can get closer to my goal too!

Learning how to fail

Why are all of my hobbies so abusive? Between Hooping, Krav Maga and parkour, I have no idea where all of these bruises came from!!! Knees, elbows, shins, shoulders... I'm black and blue all over. I realized today that I need to be more careful about baring my arms at client meetings because I either look like I have an unhealthy dependency or issues in the home. After not taking parkour classes for many months, I finally decided to give it another go because Fight or Flight Academy started offering a women's class. When I first started up in the summer, I was struggling with low self-esteem in the regular classes because everyone else was so far beyond my level and the guys naturally didn't have as many issues with upper body strength like I do right now. As much as I dislike the idea of women needing separate classes, I feel like it is exactly what I need to build up my confidence at a more reasonable pace instead of expecting instant results.

Tonight's class was an awesome one for me to reflect on. We focused on learning how to fall and dealing with what happens when you fail at a move. There is so much of that concept that translates well into my life! With any of my hobbies, the most debilitating fear that stops me from progressing is not wanting to fail or "look stupid". This means I don't make the progress I could if I just worked through the failure, learned from it, and moved on. Even though I'm fully aware that failure is part of the learning process, I panic and avoid it at all costs.

That little voice in the back of my mind says, "What if this painting turns out looking like crap and no one likes it? You'll just add it to the pile of half-finished canvases stacked on the floor", Or "Hooping just looks silly, people will think you're crazy. You aren't learning new things fast enough, so clearly you just aren't good enough to really hoop." Or "What if you fall and make a fool of yourself at class tonight? You could get hurt and then where would you be? You don't have the upper body strength or knee mobility to do parkour".

I read a parkour blog post this morning that pushed the exact message I needed to hear:

"Parkour doesn't take strength, parkour makes strength."

That is easy to apply to everything I do. From work to play, if I just get over my fear of not being amazing at something right now and allow myself to experience failure a little more, I will begin to reach my goals over time. I can't expect to be at a high level of expertise until I put in the work to be there.

Reflection

February tends to be a pretty reflective time for me. Around this time, years ago, a series of events happened that made me realize I was not who I wanted to be and I started to make positive changes. It was my personal rock bottom. Looking back on how selfish yet completely timid I was makes me appreciate the things that brought me where I am now. I've been thinking about my past a lot recently and felt the need to acknowledge it somewhere. I don't like who I was, how I treated people or how I let myself be treated. I'm glad the cycle ended there and I learned from the experience. I feel fortunate that I've recently been given the opportunity to rebuild a friendship that was broken during that rough patch. It's helping me make peace with my past and realize that life is too short to hold grudges. A friendship is like any relationship in that it takes effort from both parties to value each other. Although it is a painful process that involves digging into ugly memories, this particular friendship feels worth it.

I'm beyond thankful for so many people in my life and all the opportunities I've encountered. Last year I was offered a promotion at work that pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone and got me to do things I didn't think I was capable of. Now I feel like I've grown into the role pretty darn well and am excited to continue doing so. The mentorship of my coworkers and instructors from college has been life changing.

Chris and I are getting close to our two year anniversary, which shocks me to think about how time has just flown by. He's been my best friend through everything and I can't imagine my life without him. With all the studying he's been doing for his up-coming exam, I'm grateful we live together or I would never see him. I love seeing his dedication in this process though, he's going to kick that actuarial exam's butt in March!

My main hobbies have brought me so much joy as well. Hooping and Krav Maga are getting me to feel more confident in myself, both physically and socially. I'm still such an introvert but these hobbies have such wonderful communities of people that I'm learning to get out of my shell a bit.

As stressed out as I have been over work, family and life in general, I have it pretty good. I'm grateful for it all, even the rough patches which just make the good things shine brighter.

Parkour!

Recently I decided that I needed to start being more active. Hooping has been a fun way to get up and move but it hasn't done a whole lot for my endurance or overall strength. I started toying with the idea of joining a nearby gym or taking a yoga class but nothing sounded like something I would stick with in the long run. I have a tendency to start new workout regimens and get bored after just a few times. Weight lifting, running, even group classes at a gym just end up seeming tedious in the long run. A while ago, a friend told me about a local gym called Fight or Flight Academy which is the first and (as far as I'm aware) only gym in the Midwest that teaches Parkour and Freerunning. If you don't know what these are, watch the video below. Hell, watch it even if you do, it's pretty awesome. Even gives you a nice idea of what the gym looks like.

Go get lost on youtube looking at videos for a while. People are crazy talented and it's an amazing display of what the human body is capable of doing. If you decide to come back to my blog, I'll still be rambling here. If not, I'll understand...

Still here? okay, awesome.

So after tossing the idea around in my head for a week, I decided to just take a class and see what I thought. My first class was last Saturday and apparently that particular day was Obstacle Course day, which is a terrible day for a complete newb to show up. This ended up being to my advantage however because while Mitch taught the main group, Chad gave me the ultimate crash course in the basic concepts of Parkour. We went over jumps, landing, rolls, vaults and wall-grabs. By the end of the 55 minute class. I was exhausted, my arms were shaking and I was having a blast! I had started the class thinking that I wouldn't be able to do much of anything. My knees have always given me crap so I've felt extremely limited in my athletic capabilities. But there I was, doing my best and actually surprising myself.

Fast forward to the next morning...

I woke up and the mere thought of moving hurt. EVERYTHING hurt. My body was taking its sweet sweet vengeance on me for daring to put it through that. Muscles that had been hibernating since I was a little kid were angry that I had the nerve to wake them up. This was just validation that parkour was exactly what I needed. This is a total body workout if ever there was one... 5 days and a massage later, I was ready for another class.

Tonight, I got off work and drove across 169 in time to watch the class before mine do some fancy flips. Honestly, some of these guys make it look so easy... it's not fair. Beginning Parkour class tonight focused on "tic tacs" and "cat to cats" or wall jumps and grabs. I spent an hour throwing myself at a wall and hopefully jumping off of it.

I'll be honest...I sucked. My feet were slipping (because I placed them too low on the wall), and my knees were struggling to push off, I couldn't even lift myself in a successful cat to cat. But I was still having fun. Watching what the more advanced students were doing helped me at least envision the end goal while I kept working on getting the basics down. As much as it sucks to try a move and botch it, I can at least feel myself getting used to the movements. I know I just have to keep at it and eventually my body will get it right. My muscles will strengthen and my joints will react faster. As long as I don't psych myself out with thinking "I'll never be good enough", I will improve. I just always have to remember this moment in time when I couldn't even lift myself up from a cat grab because this is rock bottom, I can only go up from here. and up and up and up. That's the whole point. In a month, I can look back and see improvement. In a year, I might not recognize myself.

 

There was even an added benefit tonight. I got home, still in my workout clothes, still feeling a little giddy about what we worked on and my dog was begging to go outside for a walk. I decided to take him for a run instead, which he was all too excited about. I quickly learned that my dog is a terrible running partner, constantly zig-zagging into my stride or trying to pull me in the direction of a squirrel or goose... little punk is a pent-up menace wrapped in chaos. But my point was, class gave me a reason to get out there and run a little. Even though I absolutely hate running, I have a goal now. Something driving me to improve. Which feels awesome.

The next class I'll be going to is Saturday, looks like we'll be working on vaults. Hopefully my arms will be up for it by then.

If any of this sounds like fun to you, I'd love to get more of my friends going to the class, it's more fun when you have people to joke around with :)

Movin' and Groovin'

It's been a busy few months for me, most of it has involved moving to New Hope. Jungle Cat

Moving Truck

Took that big step with my boyfriend so now we get to pet-sit for one another when the one of us is working. Our schedules are so opposite, so that's basically what this amounts to. Just kidding, kind of...

Jett and Sawyer

Speaking of pets! they're adjusting well. After about a week and a half, one of Chris' cats stopped freaking out at my dog and now they are in the process of learning how to play. Pretty comical considering cat and dog body language is completely different and Fezzik still wants to rip Sawyer's happy little face off any time Sawyer is near. Pretty sure Sawyer can't tell the difference between Inigo and Fezzik.

Inigo and Fezzik

The first night here with the pets, my cat Midnight didn't stop growling from under the bed. He sounded like the little girl from the Exorcist, and I'm pretty sure I would have had twisted nightmares if only I fell asleep. Being an old fart who has lived in the same house for over 10 years, he had trouble changing things up. He's still not a fan of co-habitating with other cats but at least he's eating!

Midnight

Sadly the new place doesn't have a fenced in yard. This makes Sawyer happy because he gets to go for walks 3-4 times a day. I've even decided to pick up running to help him lose a few pounds since I learned that he's about 5 pounds overweight for his breed combo. The neighborhood is really twisty and provides so many options for new paths.  I picked up some new running shoes today to start things out right.

Sawyer's walk-face

In addition to all of the walking, Sawyer and I are back into Agility! He did so well during the last session that we graduated to level 2. He's definitely kicking butt again and we're having so much fun. Great thing to look forward to every week :)

Taking notes

I'll wrap up this almost entirely pet focused post with Fezzik's favorite new lounge place.

Lounge Lizard

I can't avoid working on the TWS Cafe Press designs any more tonight. I just felt the need to rant about all of the excitement lately.