This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True

Good morning, and TGIF!

While listening to this week’s IIN module, I heard phenomenal quote from Iyanla Vanzant: 

You’re not tested where you’re strong – you’re tested where you’re weak. 

Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the  #beTRUEtoYOU challenge hosted by Powercakes’ bloggess, Casey — so I figure this combination of events was meant to tell me something.

beTRUEtoYOU-800

Why? Well, my weak points have always been trusting myself and being true to myself.  

First, the issue of trusting myself and my instincts: I spent years convinced that “listen to your heart” was actually code for “Be impulsive, be reckless, and feel free to do stupid stuff that you’ll regret for the rest of your life because you didn’t bother to think it through.” I’d seen so many people do life-alteringly harebrained, ridiculous stuff under the guise of allegedly “following their heart” that as far as I was concerned, the heart was an agent of poor decision making and self-destruction. And I had no intention of going down that path. 

I decided that I shouldn’t listen to my heart, ever, under any circumstance. If my instincts or heart ever spoke up, I planned to at least relentlessly question them, if not ignore them entirely. In either case, my plan was to totally disregard their messages. My brain and critical thinking skills were to rule above all. 

As it turns out, this approach has actually made me miserable on more than one occasion.  

In each of those cases, my gut and my intuition knew that something was off and that I was getting myself into a bad situation, but I always came up with logical explanations for why that feeling was wrong.  Reasons why I could disregard my instincts and carry on.  Reasons why I shouldn’t trust my gut.  Reasons why it was totally fine to explain away the “This isn’t a good idea” voice in the back of my head.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
This, of course, has never worked out in my favor.  Not even once.

It also leads directly to weak point numero dos: the fact that I’ve struggled mightily to be true to myself.  Being true to myself requires trusting myself, trusting my instincts, and listening to my heart. Without having that foundation in place, nothing built on top of it will stand.

#trust


It took some exquisitely painful experiences for me to learn that I can, and must, trust my instincts and listen to my heart. In each of those experiences, my heart had known all along what was right, but my brain had shut it down in favor of a supposedly logical explanation.

Those experiences were miserable, but they’ve taught me the importance of trusting myself and being true to myself — and the areas of my life where I’ve done that have improved dramatically.  I’m now able to do this much more readily and easily than ever before, but I realized today that I haven’t applied that principle across the board.  

The piecemeal approach hasn’t been deliberate, but rather by default.
Trust your instinct

I’m a big believer in the importance of being fully engaged in an effort to overcome a default behavior, so I’m publicly committing to applying the whole-of-life approach to trusting my instincts and being true to myself.

To help with this effort, I’m doing two things: first, I’m creating what is, for me at least, the ultimate rebuttal against my brain’s efforts to discredit and undermine my instincts.  

It’s based on the two pictures below – it’s powerful evidence to know that two of the most brilliant people who have ever lived believe firmly in the importance of honoring and trusting one’s instincts. 
  
Always trust your instinct! 

... trust your instincts ...

The other thing I’m doing is finding quotes that really resonate with me and adding them to my art journal, since I like being able to keep everything in there as a one-stop shop for inspiration and encouragement. Some of the keepers are scattered throughout this post, and I love them – here’s to the wise folks who spoke/wrote these words!

lao tzu

And, of course, there’s always this gem (one of my favorite parts of Clueless):




Snooty girl: It’s just as Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true!”
Cher: Hamlet didn’t say that. 
Snooty girl: Um, I think I remember Shakespeare accurately.
Cher: Um, I think I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that. That Polonius guy did.

If prior experience is any indication, trusting myself, listening to my instincts and my heart, and being true to myself — across every area of my life, not just a handful of situations — will be a tremendous change for the better.

Thankful Thursday: Warmth and Inspiration

Happy Thursday, everyone!  As always, I’m super excited about the impending weekend.  We’ve got some good plans on tap for Saturday and Sunday, including a buddy run with one of my dear amigas, a party on Saturday night, an art journaling get-together on Sunday, and, hopefully…Christmas decorating!  (Insert happy dance here.)


I have a big ol’ list of gratitude for this week’s Thankful Thursday, hosted by the always-lovely Jessie from Jessie Loves to Run:


1) I met with the friend of a friend who used to work in an office that deals with global women’s issues, and it was both incredibly helpful and incredibly encouraging to talk with her. I know my transition into that line of work isn’t going to happen immediately, but I feel great about moving forward and learning about new ways to get involved.

2) Speaking of new ways to get involved, I’m incredibly excited to have applied to be a community ambassador for the Half the Sky Movement. Half the Sky, by Nick Kristof and his wife Cheryl WuDunn, is hands-down one of the best books I’ve ever read. They followed up the national best-seller book (it’s amazing, and I highly recommend reading it) with a documentary that was aired last month on PBS, and they recently launched the community ambassador program to help spread the word about global women’s issues.  I have ideas for this that I’m really, really excited about, and I’m happy to have found a way to contribute to their work!



3) I know I wrote about this yesterday (and I apologize for beating a dead horse here), but I’m ridiculously thankful for my new coat. Every morning when I walk to work, I find myself positively brimming with happiness over how awesome it is – no joke. I normally don’t like winter because I’m cold all the time anyways (whenever I’m at home I can usually be found in heavy sweats and thick socks, wrapped up in a comforter, and generally looking like a Siberian refugee), but this makes the plummeting temperatures much easier to bear.


4) I’m thankful that I’m getting rolling with my idea for an interview series – I sent out emails to a few friends this week, and my lifelong bestie, Susie, has kindly agreed to be my first interviewee.  Wahoo!  Stay tuned for the first installment of the Women who Inspire interview series!


5) On a more mundane note, I’m thankful for tea. This isn’t exactly ground-shaking, I know, but still: I love the taste of a good cup of chai or a freshly-brewed mug of pomegranate green tea, and I love the comforting feel of a warm mug in my paws.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Thursday, and thanks to Jessie for hosting this lovely little gratitude get-together!

WIAW: Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Happy Wednesday!

It was a chilly day here in DC, but I have a new acquisition that helps me fear no cold front:

Behold the puffy awesomeness

This jacket is the bomb diggity, y’all.  Whenever I’ve worn it, I’ve been incredibly impressed by how warm and cozy it is – so basically, it’s the best $70 investment ever (thank you, Burlington Coat Factory).  Imagine one of those sub-zero, all weather sleeping bags…and now imagine wrapping yourself up in one of those while venturing out into the cold.  Yeah, it’s like that. 

Lurve.

While it’d obviously be a bad idea to wear this to the gym in the mornings, I at least have my trusty hoodies to keep me warm during my first few minutes of cardio.  Speaking of which, today’s workout consisted of 35 minutes on the elliptical (I have an IIN lecture by Iyanla Vanzant to finish, and I’ve loved every second of it) followed by 10 minutes of lifting, plus my daily plank and lunges for Girls Gone Sporty’s LungeForLeftovers.

I love my morning workouts, even though there are days (like today) when I’m slow to wake up. I love how I feel after a good workout: it sets the tone for my day, and work is a lot easier to handle when my brain is awash in exercise-induced endorphins!

Speaking of work, I’m fairly stoked for the fact that it’s Wednesday – this means the weekend is approaching fast!  (*Does happy dance*)  It also means it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday – the loveliest cyber-potluck on the ‘webz, it’s hosted by the equally lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons.

Peas and Crayons

Upon rolling out of bed, I had my beloved cup of java – but this time, I drank it out of the super cute holiday-ish mug I just picked up from Crate & Barrell (I get inordinately excited about stuff like this, and I freaking LOVE this mug):

I had my usual post-workout kale, Greek yogurt, and fruit smoothie:

Lunch and snacks consisted of salad (not pictured here) with chickpeas and turkey, another Larabar Uber (add it to the “stuff I effing adore” list) and, basically, a metric ton of fruit:

Dinner was Italian herb and balsamic vinegar roasted chicken with steamed broccoli (and a bit of low-fat cheddar on top — deliciousness ensues!).

Hope everyone had a fabulous Wednesday, and here’s to the rest of the week going by as quickly as possible!

I Can Haz Idea?

Good morning! I’m working on my second cup of java (thank you, Newman’s organic vanilla caramel deliciousness) and getting ready for my morning date with the gym on this cold, rainy, and generally gross Tuesday morning.

The word of the day is “Ewwwwwwww.”

After my strength sessions on Sunday and Monday, the ol’ muscles need a bit of a break — so I have 45 minutes of cardio on tap for today. Depending on how many people are in the gym and which machines are taken, my plan is to hit up the elliptical for 25 minutes, the treadmill for 10 (I’m now busting out 8.5 minute miles, which is a HUGE PR for me — they’re hard, but I can do ’em!), and the bike for another 10.

My iPad filled with IIN material is all fired up and ready to go (I listen to my IIN lectures while I’m at the gym, and I love it), and I’m just waiting for the caffeine to do its job so I can no longer feel like an extra on The Walking Dead.

Get! In! Mah! Bloodstream!

While I’m waiting, though, I’m going to flesh out an idea that I had recently — an idea that I’m really, really excited about.

You see, I find that inspiration strikes at incredibly random times: mid-shampoo, at the end of a boring meeting, while stuck on the train…you name it, and if it’s totally random, chances are good that it’s a situation in which I’ve had flashes of inspiration.

The other day while at the gym, I suddenly thought of a passage from a book I just read, and…shazam! Inspiration!

Fact: this book is awesome.

There’s a portion of Dare, Dream, Do by Whitney Johnson in which she talks about interviewing people we admire, and it really struck a chord with me for two reasons: first, when I think back to the job I loved most in the last 15 years, it was unquestionably the two summers I spent as a writer for a college alumni magazine.  I remember thinking to myself (at least once a day, if not more) “This is amazing! I get to talk to cool people, interview them, and then write about it. I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” As it turns out, socializing and writing are two of my favorite things.

Secondly, I realized a few months ago that I’ve tended to internalize the messages and ideas that I’m exposed to — so when I’m surrounded by pessimistic and negative messages, my inner monologue mirrors those concepts. Once I realized this, I decided to take concrete steps to surround myself with positive ideas, people, and messages.  I shamelessly subscribed to happy, inspirational podcasts, and I brazenly bought books that focus on staying positive throughout major life changes.

 Positive attracts Positive ...

When I read the passage of Dare, Dream, Do that talks about interviews, I realized: in an effort to surround myself with positive things, I want to interview people I know who’ve taken risks in order to follow their dreams, pursue their passions, or be relentlessly true to themselves.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that the interviewees don’t have to be big-name, famous people — to the contrary, they can be regular people just like the rest of us.

Then I realized that I already have a substantial list of friends who would fit perfectly into these categories. I have friends who’ve left secure but unfulfilling careers in order to pursue career paths they love, friends who’ve worked well into the wee hours of the night writing the book they’d always dreamed of, friends who’ve left safe but unhappy relationships because they valued their health and happiness too much to stay with a guy who brings them down.

Naturally, these are folks who’re perfect candidates!

So, my plan for this week is to start reaching out to those friends to see if they’d be willing to chat with me about the process of pursuing their dreams — the challenges, the high points, the whole enchilada.  I’m really excited about the possibility of doing this, so keep your fingers crossed that people say yes! 🙂

With all that being said, I hope everyone has a fabulous Tuesday!

Monday Musings

Side note before I even begin: I’d like to acknowledge that I brazenly stole the title for this post from the lovely Caitlin over at ChasingChels.  If you haven’t read her blog, I highly recommend it – homegirl is whip-smart and wise beyond her years! But anyways, I digress before I’ve even started…

It’s Monday night, which means…the hardest part of the week is now over! I have to admit: Mondays are tough business around here. Getting up and going to work after a long weekend is always a bajillion times harder than normal.

Our Thanksgiving was a huge success: we cooked up a storm (no joke, I was up at 0530 to start cooking so that the oven would be free later for the bird), and although we wound up with waaaaaaay more food than we needed, it was all delicious.  All our guests went home with goodie bags full of leftovers, but we still spent the weekend drowning in leftover madness.

As it turns out, all that rich food didn’t fare so well with the estomago. I didn’t eat much rich food, but I think my stomach has gotten used to all the fresh, low-fat foods that have become the mainstay of my diet since joining Weight Watchers — and the combination of a little bit of dark meat plus a bit of butter-laden pie was enough to send it careening into serious misery.

I wound up spending the better part of Friday and Saturday convalescing on the couch, sipping kombucha and chicken broth in an attempt to placate my very angry insides. Lesson learned: high-fat foods and I don’t mix. At all.

Once I recovered my ability to tolerate solid foods, I hit the ground running on my grand Thanksgiving recovery plans: lots of veggies and quality time in the gym.  This was my view this morning while getting my sweat on:

IMAG0024.jpg

I followed it up with a green smoothie:

IMAG0026.jpg

Having exercised and had myself some kale, I’m happy to report that I’m doing much better and am back to feeling like myself again. 🙂

And, with that, a quick November Challenge update: my challenges for the bulk of the weekend focused on reaching out to friends who I haven’t talked to in a while.  I tend to have paroxysms of guilt over my awful communication skills, and I usually spend months beating myself up before reluctantly calling my friends to confess my sins.

This time, though, I decided I was going to a) stop punishing myself, and b) get over the “Omigod, they’re totally going to hate me for failing to stay in touch” fear and just do it already.
So, I first called one of my dearest friends whom I haven’t spoken to in ages.  And whaddya know, she wasn’t upset at all — to the contrary, she was really happy to hear from me, and it was wonderful to chat with her.
I also sent a long-overdue note of congratulations to my old college boyfriend, who got engaged earlier this year.  He and I dated 10 years ago (which now seems like a different lifetime) but we’ve periodically stayed in touch since we broke up.  
I felt awful about having taken such a ridiculously long time to congratulate him, especially since he was pretty quick to congratulate me when Brandon and I got engaged.  So I wrote him an email, apologized for being absurdly late in sending my well-wishes, and let him know that I wish him and his fiancee all the best — and now I feel much better.
I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving and that any lingering case of the Mondays has abated!

WIAW: Wednesday is the New Friday, Y’all!

Happy de-facto Friday!  In case you couldn’t tell, I’m just a smudge excited about the impending 4-day weekend.  I have a busy day at work to get through before the fun can begin, but as my dad used to tell me  whenever I was halfway through final exams and starting to run out of steam, you gotta keep your eyes on the prize.

(Side note: speaking of final exams, can we please talk about the HUGE relief of never having to deal with those heinous things ever again?  I’ve been out of grad school for over 4 years now, but I still breathe a behemoth sigh of relief whenever I think about the lack of final exams in my life.)

But I digress.

Anyways, Wednesday may be the new Friday (for this week, at least…although I really think all weeks should be like this), but it’s still, y’know, Wednesday — which means it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday!  WIAW is a happy little cyber-potluck hosted by Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, and it’s always fabulous.


We’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of our DC-area friends tomorrow, so I spent the better part of last night in a cleaning frenzy.  This meant I didn’t get to bed until later than I’d hoped, so I was extra sleepy this morning.  That is, until I had a huge cup of coffee.  There’s going to be a moment of spastic, rapturous, caffeine-induced euphoria in 5…4…3…2…

Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not want. It keepeth me from lying down in green pastures and sleeping through the day: it leadeth me beside the coffee machine. It restoreth my soul: it leadeth me in the paths of wakefulness for its name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of fatigue, I will fear no faceplanting into my breakfast: for thou art with me; thy coffee and thy tea they comfort me.

Capitalizing on the caffeine high, I hit the gym and did 30 minutes of cardio plus 15 minutes of circuit training that covered lower body, abs, and upper body exercises.  I also did my LungeforLeftovers for the awesome folks at Girls Gone Sporty, and a 1-minute plank for Plank-a-Day.

I followed this up with my usual fruit n’ kale smoothie (I know, I know: my breakfasts have no variety whatsoever):

Snacks for the day included a Larabar Uber, which I freaking adore, a banana, a pear, an apple, and some celery and hummus.

Lunch consisted of a huge salad topped with balsamic-herb chicken, red onion, grapes, and some Italian vinaigrette:

Dinner was a bit of an improvisation: I’d intended to make crock pot chicken tacos, but I’d apparently added too much broth to the ol’ crock pot while the chicken was cooking.  D’oh!  Upon realizing that I’d inadvertently made crock pot chicken taco soup, I decided to just roll with it and turn it into a legit soup dish.  I added black beans and sauteed peppers and onions, and I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be delish!

I hope everyone has a fabulous Wednesday — have a safe and happy almost-Thanksgiving!

Tuesday is the new Wednesday

Happy de-facto Wednesday for all those who are working this week!  I tell you what, I really like this motif of a three-day workweek.  I vote that we amend the workweek and carry on like this indefinitely.


Who’s with me?
Despite it being a short week, I’m dragging like woah today.  I slept like the dead last night, and yet I was still totally wiped out this morning.  Not even a big cup of coffee was able to fully revive me.  
I dragged myself to the gym, and I felt like someone had attached lead weights to all my limbs.  I had originally planned to run after my usual stint on the elliptical, but after 30 minutes I knew that running wasn’t in the cards for me.  I opted for the bike instead, but after about 10 minutes I started to feel queasy — so at that point, I knew I needed to call it quits.
Breakfast and a hot shower helped the queasy feeling go away, but I still feel totally exhausted.  This is the only thing standing between me and a George Kostanza-esque nap underneath my desk at work:
IMAG0023.jpg
When I get really tired, I also tend to feel like I’m in a bit of a funk.  I don’t like giving in to the bad mood, though, since I know that once I do that I start to wallow — and then the sneaky hate spiral starts.  And I don’t want to go there!
So instead, I decided to come up with a list of things I’m excited about.  By focusing on the things that are going well and the things that make me happy, I’ll hopefully be able to re-route my thought pattern and circumvent that snarly, surly feeling that usually acts as fatigue’s partner in crime.
1) PVBody: I have a weakness for workout clothes.  I routinely salivate over Lululemon clothes (and probably look more than a bit creepy when I practically break my neck staring in their store window whenever I walk by), but they’re waaaaaaay outside my price range.  I can only afford the options available at Target or Marshall’s, and gawd help the other customers when I roll up in either of their sportswear sections.  
Yesterday, though, I got an email about PVBody – a service that sells high-end workout merchandise for 60% off the normal price.  Basically, you take a style profile quiz that helps the good people at PuraVit get a sense of your style preferences and clothing needs — and then you get a personalized outfit (including a top and a bottom) delivered each month for $40.  $40 for Lululemon stuff?  Yes, please.  I signed up faster than a 12-year-old girl buying a ticket for the latest Twilight movie, and I’m eagerly awaiting my first outfit.
2) Lunch with an old friend: I ran into a friend from my years as a Presidential Manangement Fellow on my way in to work today, and we’re going to have lunch this afternoon in order to catch up.  She’s awesome, and I’m excited to hang out with her!
3) This week’s module for my Integrative Nutrition course looks awesome!  It’s all about women’s health, which is something I’m really interested in, and I’m excited to learn more about it.  As a side note, I can’t believe my year at IIN is drawing to a close.  This year has been amazing, inspiring, and life-changing in so many ways, and I’m incredibly glad that I signed up for this course.
4) We heard back about the apartment, and we’re in!  Hooray for our new place!  Now we just have to figure out what our move-in date will be, and then we’re set. 🙂
Hope everyone has a fabulous Tuesday!

Monday Musings + Staying on Track Through the Holidays

Happy first day of a short week!  I find that Mondays are a lot easier to manage when I know that, 48 hours from now, we’ll be counting down to a long weekend.  


I think we can all agree that there should be a lot more 3-day work weeks, yes? 🙂

I’m especially excited because Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  When a holiday combines food and football, I’m guaranteed to be a happy cowgirl!
 +    = 
We have a tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for all our friends in DC who can’t go home to our families for Turkey Day, and we love it. If we can’t be with our families, we can at least have an awesome time with our friends!  Preparations for the big day are in full swing: I’ve pre-made the homemade cranberry sauce, Brandon is getting the turkey ready for its luxurious brine bath, and I’m ready to cook up a storm.

The only difficulty with Thanksgiving and the holidays is the same difficulty that most people face: staying on track with healthy eating and fitness.

This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas since I lost 20 pounds, and I want to be sure I don’t gain any of it back. I didn’t work hard to lose it just to have all my effort be blown over the course of 6 weeks, so this morning I decided to create a game plan for staying on track throughout the holidays.

My plan of attack hinges on paying close attention to what I eat and adhering to my workout schedule. 


First and foremost, I need to be vigilant about tracking my daily points in my Weight Watchers app. Since I really hit my stride with WW, I was able to relax a bit on point tracking, since I knew the points value of almost all my food choices.  

The holidays, however, are a whole different ballgame: I’m not normally presented with a glut of candy, pie, or desserts, and I don’t know how to fit them into my points allocation. So, I’m going to be really careful. 

By tracking all my points, I’ll know how to make room for a slice of pie or a glass of eggnog.  And if I don’t have room for it, then I simply don’t have room for it: while I’m all in favor of an indulgence now and then, I need to plan for it in advance (as opposed to just going for broke and trying to make up for it later).

We can still hang out this year, gorgeous. I just have to plan ahead.
Secondly, between holiday parties, Christmas prep, and general merriment, it can be easy to slack off on my morning dates with the gym. I normally do whatever workout I feel like going for in the morning: whether it’s cardio, running, strength training, or some combination thereof, I usually just wing it. 

For the next 6 weeks, though, I need to strategize my workouts in order to maximize the amount of time I have in the gym.  

For this week, my workout schedule is as follows:

Monday: 45 minutes of cardio (elliptical + bike)
Tuesday: 30 minutes of cardio (elliptical) + 15 minutes running (9 min/mile pace)
Wednesday: 25 minutes of cardio (elliptical) + 20 minutes strength circuit training
Thursday: Outdoor run – 4 miles
Friday: 45 minutes of cardio (elliptical + bike)
Saturday: 25 minutes of cardio + 20 minutes of strength circuit training

If all goes according to plan, I’ll avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain and be in just as good of shape on January 1 as I am now!

Oy, What a Weekend!

That just about sums it up: oy, what a weekend! 

It all started with a flat tire on Friday night.  When we got out of the car in our building’s garage, we both noticed a loud hissing sound. 

It was coming from the front left tire.

Which, as we soon discovered, had a huge hole in it.

Friday night R&R fail.

Fact: on a monstrous SUV, a tire change isn’t a small process.  It’s actually really hard to do.  It involves me wedging myself in the small space between the ground and the truck’s undercarriage in order to get the jack in the right place.  It involves Brandon fighting with the tire wrench.  It involves lots of swearing.

90 minutes later, it was 10 p.m., the truck had a new and functional tire, and we were both wiped out.

Saturday morning featured an ill-fated attempt to make toast, which wound up with me slicing through my finger with a butter knife while trying to pry apart two pieces of frozen GF bread.  A butter knife!  It bled like crazy, which was actually kind of comical: when I saw that there was blood all over the kitchen sink, my first thought was Ooooh, this looks like it could be the set of a Food Network Halloween special gone horribly awry.

What can I say?  I have a demented sense of humor.

Who knew this thing could do so much damage?

I then spent the day helping a friend move into her new and fabulous bachelorette pad — so by the time Saturday night rolled around, I was toast.  I fell asleep before 10 and slept until 7:30, and still had to take a nap this afternoon.

The good news?  We’re 90% of the way towards getting the apartment we want!

After a long, drawn out, and fraught process of apartment hunting, the perfect place fell into our lap on Thursday morning.  I’m so, so effing excited about this place!  It’s in a building we love, in a nice neighborhood (which, thankfully, is in a much less frat-tastic part of town), it’s super nice, and — get this — it’s cheaper than the place we live in now.  This is what happens when you leave the uber-trendy part of town: apparently your money goes a lot further.

And it has a fantastic kitchen.  I’m talking uh-maay-zing (especially compared to the kitchen in the apartment we’re living in now, which basically looks like the 1970’s threw up all over it).  I can’t wait to cook in this glorious space:

It has an island! Squee!

We just have to wait for our application to be formally approved, and then we’re golden.  Once that’s done, the only task will be waiting the 2 months until we move in — not that I’ll be counting the days or anything (I’ll totally be counting the days).

I figure we have Christmas season to look forward to, followed by our vacation to Texas for the New Year, so hopefully that’ll make time move a bit faster.

A brief November Challenge update before I return to the land of nod: over the course of the last three days, I applied to be an ambassador for three different organizations that I really, really like: Girls Gone Sporty, Sweat Pink, and Greatist. They all take different, yet in my mind, totally complimentary, approaches to fitness, healthy living, and wellness — and they’re all awesome.

It was kind of intimidating for me to apply to these ambassadorships, simply because whenever I apply to, well, anything at all, I assume I’m going to get rejected.  Then I get all nervous and start talking myself out of applying, only to wish I’d taken the risk once the opportunity has passed.

So I decided that when it comes to these organizations, I want to be part of the work they’re doing — and it’s worth taking the risk to apply.  Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed and wait!

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend — now for some rest before starting the (mercifully short) workweek. 🙂

Thankful Thursday + November Challenge Update

Happy Thursday!  I hope everyone’s day is going well – can you believe it’s exactly one week until Thanksgiving?  I, for one, am totally amazed by this – I think time really does go faster with each passing year.

My November Challenge update goes hand-in-hand with Thankful Thursday, which is hosted by the lovely Jessie from Jessie Loves to Run – so this might be a bit convoluted, but bear with me.
My most recent November Challenge task was to have an honest conversation with my boss about my career plans. I’ve long been interested in transitioning out of the national security field and into global women’s issues, and last week I decided that it’s time to take action on trying to make that switch.
The thing that really compelled me to take action was the realization that my job stress is negatively affecting my health — and it can only get worse from here.  
I have Celiac disease, which in and of itself isn’t a huge problem.  However, Celiac patients are automatically at high risk for other autoimmune diseases like Chron’s, colitis, MS, and lupus…all of which are things I’d rather never experience.
My health has been on the slide during the last year or so: my stomachaches are more severe and more frequent (despite having identified and eliminated my food allergies), I get more migraines than I ever have before, and I often wake up feeling like I got run over by a truck in my sleep.  There are days when my whole body inexplicably aches — bones, muscles, and even my internal organs hurt.  And that ain’t good.
I know the cause of all this has been job stress. I also know that chronic stress further increases my risk of getting other autoimmune diseases.  And I don’t want to go there.
I realized while visiting my old roommate last weekend that if I’m going to be healthy, I need to reduce my chronic stress.  
And if I’m going to reduce my overall stress levels, I need to make the switch from the high-stress, uber-urgent, hair-on-fire-all-the-time field of national security into a realm of international relations that I feel excited about and edified by: global women’s issues.
Before sending out feelers for job opportunities, though, I felt that I needed to tell my boss what’s going on. While I know this would normally be career suicide, I feel my boss deserves better than to have me sneaking around behind his back and trying to make a covert career change, only to blindside him once it’s a done deal.
But, as you can imagine, such honest conversations with one’s supervisor are more than a little bit intimidating, especially since people routinely get fired for being so transparent.
I decided it was worth the risk, though. I went into my boss’s office, shut the door, took a deep breath, and dove in.
I explained the whole situation with my health, my long-standing interest in global women’s issues, and my desire to work towards making this transition.  I explained that I don’t anticipate anything happening soon, but that I wanted to be honest and above-board with him so that he wouldn’t be blindsided when I do make this change.  I told him that I felt he deserves better than to have me furtively sneaking around and that I respect him too much to start doing all this behind his back.
He obviously wasn’t pleased (I’d be seriously freaked out if he were happy at the thought of me leaving), but he understood my logic and was really, really nice about the whole thing. Although it was unnerving to be so honest, I’m really glad I did it.
That said, I think you could probably hear my sigh of relief in Timbuktu when I left his office.
This brings me to my Thankful Thursday list:
1) Obviously, I’m really, really, incredibly thankful that the conversation went as well as it did, and it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.
2) My friend’s baby is out of the hospital and is thriving at home — what relief that is!  
3) I’m thankful for my little brother, Mike, whose 22nd birthday will be this Sunday. I can’t believe he’s turning 22 — the day he was born was one of the best days of my life, and I remember it like it was yesterday. 
I’d wanted a sibling more than anything for years. In fact, when I was really little I used to carry my dolls around and pretend that I was helping take care of an imaginary younger sibling.  I was almost 10 years old when Mike was adopted at birth, and it was an amazing and wonderful experience.  
When we found out that his birth mother (whom we love and keep in touch with) had chosen us as his family, I jumped up and down, shrieked at the top of my lungs, and danced around the house for hours. I love that kid more than I can put into words, and I’m incredibly grateful that I get to be his sister!
Me and Mike at my college graduation, back when *I* was 22oy, how time flies!
4) Hopefully I won’t jinx it by being thankful in advance, but we’re probably going to sign the lease for a new apartment tonight…and I’m absurdly excited about it. 
The hunt for a new apartment has been long, drawn out, and fraught. I was only able to find one building that meets our needs, and we loved it there when we visited.  The catch?  They didn’t have anything available in the timeframe that we’re looking to move.
I emailed them yesterday, and lo and behold, the perfect place for us had just opened up.  And, even better, it’s slightly cheaper than we’d anticipated. We won’t move until January, but this place basically fell into our laps, and I already love it.  Hooray!
With all that being said — and oy vey, this was a long post — I hope you’re having a phenomenal Thursday!