Happier

Things that make me happy?  Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Things that make me happy? Hiking, dog smiles, and dog hugs!

Have you heard about Happier?  It’s a social media website that focuses on positivity – not a bunch of ads, political rants, or inflammatory comments.  Like any other social media site, you can create a profile, and then post about moments that make you happy.  You can also read happy moments shared by other users and “smile” at them (as opposed to Facebook “likes”).

I joined a few months ago, and I love it.  I definitely don’t use it as often as I would like, but I’m trying to change that.  When I’m stressed, a dose of positivity from other people can really help.  Plus, research has shown that focusing on small happy moments instead of chasing after an ideal of happiness can actually improve overall mood and life satisfaction.

I’m not affiliated with the site at all – I just love the idea of focusing on positive thoughts.  One of my favorite features of the site (and the iPhone app) is that it reminds me to be grateful for the little things.  Since I’m feeling so busy/overwhelmed right now, taking a few minutes each day to use the app gives me just the pick-me-up that I need!  Check it out!

Prioritizing

She keeps an eye on me!

She keeps an eye on me!

Continuing on my thoughts about having realistic expectations for myself…

I’ve realized that I can’t do it all (at least not within the confines of my current commitments)!  I suppose we all come to this realization at some point, but I’ve spent a lot of time working on work-life balance over the past few years, so I’m a bit frustrated that things have gotten SO unbalanced again.  This frustration is not conducive to productivity – if anything, it leads to more stress and I find myself in that vicious spiral where I can’t seem to get anything done.

So, instead of stressing about this, I need to break things down and figure out the best way to maximize my time.  School and work are obviously top priorities, so those commitments have to pretty much stay as they are.  I also need to keep sleep and exercise as a priority.  However, instead of trying to drastically improve strength or speed, I think I should focus instead on maintaining my strength and building my running endurance.

Of equal importance (though certainly less tangible) is my family time, both with Jeb and with my parents/sisters/niece.  The time passes so quickly and I sometimes forget (during my marathon homework sessions) how much time has passed since I spent time with my family.  I’m much better about this with Jeb than anyone else, but that might be largely because he lives with me! 🙂

Then, I have to allow some time to enjoy life and recharge my brain.  As hard as it is to find the time, I’ve learned that I actually am more productive if I’ve set aside time to take a complete break.  This downtime includes time with my dogs (which has the added benefit of being motivating on its own – I feel a responsibility to make them happy and, in doing so, I get a little recharge).

So, in general, my priorities are school/work, family, sleep, REALISTIC workouts, and downtime (with dogs).  Now, I just have to figure out how to fit all of that into a 24-hour day!

On being realistic…

Yes, I know it's winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

Yes, I know it’s winter right now, but this shot reminds me of a fun and relaxing day before my life got nutty!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a WEE bit busy (read: overwhelmed) right now.  As much as I’ve tried juggling everything, I think it is time to reassess and re-prioritize before I return to school.  In an ideal world, I would like to continue to do well in school and at work, lift 3x a week, run 3x a week, sleep 7-8 hours/night, and still have time for photography and cooking/finding new recipes.  Clearly, this is unrealistic.  

Obviously, I will continue to do well at school and work – these are non-negotiable, and will set me up for future happiness.  Lifting and running should be happening – for both my mental and physical health, though maybe the intense programs that I’ve been trying to follow are a bit much right now.  My schedule makes it tough to get out for a run, especially since I’m not home during daylight hours.  Plus, I need some downtime to give my brain a rest!  Normally, running or lifting can help with this, but it’s not cutting the mustard right now… 🙂

So, what to do?  It’s hard to not feel frustrated and ineffectual when I can’t seem to fit everything into my schedule.  I worry that I’m sabotaging something, and don’t want to look back on this time of my life and feel like I’ve wasted opportunities.

Being realistic about my time and capabilities is really hard.  But, so is overcommitting and feeling completely overwhelmed.  I’m on break this week, and plan to use this time as an opportunity to start to figure this out… (and to recharge!)

Stay tuned…

Meet Fiona

DSC_7076

This is Fiona!  We adopted her from a local animal shelter.  Since she was about 7 months old and kind of quiet, no one at the shelter seemed to notice her (everyone was focused on the bouncing puppies!).  One look in those big, brown eyes, though, and I couldn’t leave without her!  Duke loves her (and is so much happier now – he had a hard time when we lost Wendy), and she is settling in nicely.  She’s roughly 60 pounds, but thinks she’s small – in fact, she’s curled up on my lap at this very moment.

She’s definitely the right dog for us, and at the right time.  Sometimes I feel guilty about how attached I’ve become, since I had to lose Wendy to find Fiona, but I’m learning to separate the two (especially since I was equally attached to Wendy).  Fiona is attached to me too – when I come home at night, she sticks to me like glue.  If I stand still, she sits on my feet!

I hope to teach Fiona to go running with me.  So far, she’s been pretty nervous to even go for walks, so I’ve been taking things pretty slow.  She had a rough puppyhood in Puerto Rico (she’s a Sato!), so she can be a little timid and jumpy.  Now that we’ve had her a few months, her confidence is improving so I hope to get her out on the roads with me once spring arrives!

 

MIA

Wow – it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Time sure flies!  Things have been busy, but good (mostly).  Updates:

  • I’m super busy.  I’m in an intense graduate program, and adjusting to its pace (and a long commute) took awhile.  I finally feel like I have a handle on it, though I’m still swamped all the time!
  • I thought I had kind of figured out work-life balance when I was at my last job, but it turns out that I will have to keep working on that one.  I suppose a certain amount of it is the nature of the beast, but I have had to rely on Jeb like never before!
  • My strength workouts have been going well.  I hit some big PRs over the summer when I was getting good nutrition and sleep, but I backed off a bit once school started back up.  I hit 225# on both my squat and deadlift!
  • My running has not been going as well.  It did at first – I was in a good routine and enjoying my workouts.  But then, in early October, we lost our sweet Wendy.  It was devastating to both of us and, since she was my running partner, I kind of lost all the enjoyment I normally found with our runs together.  It seemed like every spot on every run holds some sort of memory after 3 years of running together, and I couldn’t seem to get through a workout without breaking down in tears.  I significantly backed off the running after that, but I’m starting to get into it again.
  • We have a new dog!  Fiona is a Sato (and some kind of Shepherd mix), and so sweet!  I’m hoping to get her out running with me this spring, though she is very timid so it will be slow and steady progress until she gets comfortable.
  • I’m running the Nike Half in DC (in April!).  I thought it would help me get on track with running.  It did, and then I got a raging bronchitis for 6 weeks and lost all my training.  Gulp.

I missed National Running Day! (and other random thoughts)

What kind of running blogger misses National Running Day?  Whoops!  When I planned my workout schedule for the week, I had a full rest day scheduled for yesterday, which means NO running.  I did go for a walk and did some stretching, so that counts, right?

I’ve been really enjoying my cross-training lately.  I’m following the program in “Strong Curves” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Hart Davis.  The program itself is great.  It focuses on glutes/hamstrings, and is challenging and fun.  Plus, it includes a lot of the work I have to do to keep my piriformis healthy (i.e. avoid injury).  To be honest, the book itself is just ok – the research is good, and it does give a basic overview of muscle development, etc.  I found the tone of the writing to be a bit off-putting (chauvinistic, maybe? – definitely generalizing what he thinks women want).  However, the book is worth picking up simply for the program and the exercise descriptions/photos.

I’ve been dragging a bit lately.  Lots on my mind (that I can’t write about here).  Suffice to say that I am working through it, and choosing self-care (like insane baking and tough workouts) to pull myself back up.

We made grilled pizza the other day.  It was amazing.  Yes, I know that “amazing” seems to be the most overused word lately, but I feel like the pizza we made was what Bertucci’s hopes to be.  I’ll post some pics later this week.

 

 

Keeping it Simple

I’m keeping it simple.  After following a pretty strict training plan for the last 6+ months, I needed a break.  The structured training was great for recovery from my injury, and gave me great confidence with my running progress.  However, since I don’t have any races scheduled, I’m taking it easy.

I’m lifting pretty hard, so I’m taking it easy on the roads.  Over the years I’ve learned that I have to listen to my body – the times when I haven’t is when I’ve gotten injured.  Wendy and I are enjoying our runs, and they are restorative and fun.  It’s nice to not stress about times or distance.

But, my little sister is running the Rock and Roll Half in Providence in September… and I’m starting to get the itch…  we will see what happens…