The New 30 Before 30

On December 3rd, 2015, I will turn 30-years-old.

A long time ago, about when I was in the midst of my quarter-life crisis, I thought I was running out of time, butting up against a deadline to finish so many significant things before seeing the last digit of my age reset to “0.” (For further readings on this topic, please feel free to browse the archives from 2008 through about 2013.)

Oh, Past Ardith. You’re adorable.

Time changes things. In my case, I’ve loosened up those timelines. The anxiety of not living up to outsiders’ preconceived notions of what I needed to have done and when is greatly diminished. I feel less frantic and more calm. I’m still future-oriented, but in a different way.

When I was 23, though, I took some sort of advice I read somewhere and made a “bucket list” for my twenties, the “30 Before 30” list. It had some wishes, many involving travel, and my original list expected me to be married somewhere between the ages of 28 and 30.

Ohh, Past Ardith. Seriously so cute.

Life–as it tends to do–happened, though. I went back to school. I dated (“dated?”) boys who were perfectly wrong for me. I moved cities. I met new people. I read new things. I wrote more. I wrote less. I traveled places. I accumulated more debt. I failed repeatedly at budgeting. I finally found a budgeting tool that worked. I changed jobs. I changed industries. I changed lives. I found my mode of fitness. I met someone amazing. I grew new relationships and maintained old ones.

Somewhere along the line, the deadline for my 30 Before 30 was extended. Some of the projects lost their luster or immediateness. Somewhere along the line, I relaxed, and started to truly enjoy the ride.

I never gave up on my original 30 Before 30 list. I just came to terms with the fact that there’s not really anything on there that won’t be more beautiful if/when it happens in its own time.

Here’s the list as it stood as of its last revision.

Now, with 30 actually looming, I feel like removing the completed items and striking out items that don’t hold the same weight as they did when I crafted this list at the age of 23.

2. Visit the Italian town my Italian ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)
3. Visit Australia and New Zealand
4. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i
5. Learn to swim
6. Learn to ride a bike
8. Learn more Spanish and Tagalog 
9. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines
12. Travel to the Oregon Coast again
13. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
16. Visit Iceland*
30. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away*

These are the hopes and wishes I would like to keep. Don’t laugh too hard at #5 and #6, please. But also keep in mind that they’ve been on the list for over seven years now, so some laughter is appropriate.

I had an extra item that, arguably, was the most important to me when I revised my list a few years ago:

“31. Meet someone amazing and give the relationship 100%.”

Happy to say that one is still in-progress, because giving a relationship 100% isn’t a one-time thing.

*And guess what? #16 and #30 are currently happening right now, with the subject of #31 also along for the ride.

And there you have it. I’ve culled the list a bit and kept the things I want to do someday. No deadline. It feels better that way.

Naturally, there’s more that could be added. Pay off debts. Read and write more. Travel to many more places (poor John knows this–every day elicits at least two new, “Ooh! We have to go there!” comments from me). Continue my fitness journey. Things like that, along with other hopes and dreams that I’d like to keep closer to the heart now, instead of pasting them across the blogosphere.

Living life as if it’s just one big “To Do” list doesn’t seem genuine for me, and I look forward to this next decade and beyond.

I share this all, too, because it feels so trivial to worry about “getting older” when the globe seems to be on the verge of another world war. The vitriol towards so many and the unthinkable acts of violence around the world are too much for me to process, and I am just one unremarkable human who doesn’t know where to start other than within. All I can do is live and love and get behind those who speak up for the beliefs which resonate with mine. 

I am on the verge of 30, and I have led a life of relative comfort and privilege. As such, I led a life plagued by feelings of inadequacy in the realms of romance, finance, looks, fitness, and adventure. I am more than okay with leaving those feelings behind, associated with the “20-something” version of myself.

I hope that as I continue to grow, that I find balance in my personal endeavors and that of doing good. I hope that these worldly adventures continue to widen my perspective. And I hope that I have learned to be resilient enough that my feelings don’t hamper my ability to actually take action in the areas where I think it matters. That goes for myself, my community, and the issues that know no borders.

Here’s to turning 30, to making meaning, to living love, to seeing the world, and to (hopefully) becoming wiser.

   
    
    
   

Checked Baggage

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to CrossFit has always been, “Listen to your body.” My next piece of advice in all that I do has always been, “Leave your ego at the door.”

Well, it turns out, I really have to do both things this month, and I swear to all that is holy that it is the most frustrating, infuriating, and humbling process.

After two years of making steady progress in my fitness abilities despite coming to the table with a boatload of chronic injuries, I managed to piss off my left shoulder. I pulled too hard in some drill (a drill! a skill-building, strength-building drill!), and for three days, my arm felt just a bit more sore than usual. Then I noticed the pronounced asymmetry in strength in a behind-the-neck press. I forced myself to go light and not push like normal in that particular lift, and then I rested my shoulder for a few days. I tried to to do a workout like normal near the end of the week, and the next day, my arm was so sore and so tired, I had to use my other arm to move my left!

I scheduled a doctor’s visit for several weeks out, finally resigning that it was time to get a PT referral and have an expert tell me exactly what I damaged fifteen years ago in junior high PE.

Since scheduling the appointment, my shoulder has improved quite a bit through stretching and rest and backing off on weight. Most movements don’t even bother me, just like normal, but now I’m wary of tweaking it again. I’ve always been wary of tweaking it, which is why I suppose I’m so frustrated with this set-back; I’ve done almost everything possible to build my foundations (or so I thought) to avoid something like this.

Beyond that, I’ve found that double-unders cause my shin splints to flare up. Usually, I can mitigate the situation with proper taping and footwear, but for some reason, last night, I could barely do fifty double-unders before having to call it quits. I was pissed and found myself close to tears on a run, only the second time I’ve felt like crying during a workout (which is surprising, considering my slow attainment of skills and chronic injuries for which I compensate).

On top of these things, I’ve gotten very stubborn about fixing my shoddy technique in my Olympic lifts. I’ve achieved some great numbers in my clean, but with a shaky technical foundation. If I want to get where I want to be, it’s going to take stepping back a few notches to unlearn some bad habits.

And on top of that, I’m keen to fix my technical and foundation in a lot of other skills. There are a decent set of skills where I felt like I adequately mastered the progressions, but in actuality, I was tired of the modified or scaled version–especially because other people have been advancing more quickly, relative to their starting the sport.

This flies in the face of what I actually believe and know to be beneficial.

So now what?

I recognize my challenges, but I’m re-committing to tackling the underlying weaknesses in the foundation. Yes, I have progressed. Yes, I have gotten stronger. But at the same time, I’ve been compensating for injuries I never properly rehabilitated. I’ve been compensating for holes in my skill sets. And I’ve gotten by, utilizing my strengths in very particular areas.

But you know me–it’s not enough. I want more. And to get more, it means re-examining my goals, readjusting my necessary work, and basically being the over-analytic “trends-towards-perfectionism,” “how does this fit into the big picture?” scholar I am.

If I want to get stronger, master more skills, get faster, and all that good stuff, I need to check myself and do the work I need to do, put in the time, practice smart, and listen to my body. No over-training, but no skipping the foundational work that will help my shoulder and my ankles. No getting grumpy and giving up because I don’t like the standards I’ve set for myself. Instead, it’s lots of organization, tracking, goal-setting, time frame-setting, dedication, and work–oh, and remembering to learn from the experience, reflect on the experience, and find joy even in the suck.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and productive 2015.

…And maybe some one-armed clean and jerks.

Look at This ENFJ

You all are probably aware that I am an extrovert (or extravert). I am fascinated with personality types and profiles, and I found myself searching for a share-worthy profile of an ENFJ.

I took the personality test again to confirm. My Judging/Perceiving scores always come back borderline. Historically, “J” wins out on the tests, but usually only by a few points. I lean towards “J” because I like goal-setting and I like having a framework. Within that framework, I find freedom and spontaneity. I have been taught that more demonstrated responsibility leads to greater flexibility.

Furthermore…
“[ENFJs] expect the best not just from themselves, but from others as well, and may find themselves disappointed when others are not as genuine in their intentions as the ENFJ.”

So, if you’ve ever wanted to more about me from an outside point-of-view read on.

As You Are

The one who wants to be with you never lets you forget how special you are. They tell you via text message (in full sentences that don’t even need emoticons), flowers, candy, skywriter and actual in-person words — because they know how important it is to be in the presence of love, to be wrapped up in it, to feel it next to you holding you and never letting go.”

The One Who Wants to Be With You

I am being very patient. I am exhausted from trying and failing and picking myself up. I am only tough because I have been broken so many times before, and what you see externally is a lot of scar tissue. Deep down is a girl with so many feelings, so much to offer, so much possibility.

He’s out there, I think. The one with whom all of these things and more ring true for me. It’s a two-way street I’m looking for; I keep ending up on one-ways and dead ends.

Open your eyes and look for me; I’ve lost my way. I need you to take me by the hand and basically… run.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

In response to a week that seems to be laced with tragedy, heartbreak, and downright scary moments, I’ve been spending time counting my blessings, reflecting on the good that I still see every day in my world. It’s not a surprise that I look inward before looking outward, and as we’ve been encouraged to combat evil with goodness, I think it’s time to share some of my favorite things about my exercise in existence.

These are a few of my favorite things:
* Phone calls from my best friends for absolutely no reason
* The songs birds sing early in the morning
* When two dogs are visibly overjoyed to meet each other in passing
* Getting the feels for a guy (yes, really)
* …And the little skip in my heartbeat when I see his name pop up on my phone’s screen
* …And realizing that, even at 27, dealing with crushes never gets easier
* Booking plane tickets because no matter the trouble faced in securing that flight and that rate, I know I’m going on an adventure
* Speaking of planes–watching planes take off and land
* Having conversations with students who may have found themselves in academic trouble but are returning to school–and when I ask them about their goals and dreams, they almost make me cry because it’s so sincere
* When I’m at my parents’ house and I get my hands on old photo albums–especially my baby albums
* Text messages from my mom
* Hugs
* Knowing that I have been born into one of the absolute best and most unique families out there
* The feeling I get when I’ve finally completed a research paper or conference proposal, and I know my topic and the research and my writing are all solid, and I just know it’s the best paper/proposal I’ve ever composed
* The exclamations from my coach, teammates, and myself that occur when I hit a new skill or PR at the gym
* Sitting down at the piano with old sheet music and reading through the pieces
* Dancing
* Home-cooked meals
* A perfectly-crafted whisk(e)y ginger
* Sunsets
* Sunrises
* Waking up in a new city
* Hand-written letters
* Memories that are so good that I can’t help smiling and/or laughing at the recollection
* Trying my hardest to live a life of purpose and value because the time I have here is not infinite

Pigeon Point

Stay safe. Reach out. And go forth and do good.

You Don’t Know Anything, So Stop Listening to Yourself

You Don’t Know Anything, So Stop Listening to Yourself via HelloGiggles.com.

Listen to your gut. Fight your instinct.

I’ve been sitting on this post for months upon months upon months. It just sat there with a link to the article. It’s been in the back of my mind since making that scary leap from graduate school to the Real World v.2.0.

“Your instincts are trained habits that you created somewhere along the way. And they are usually just what you’re comfortable with. And some of us are comfortable being unhappy, being taken advantage of, being walked all over, ignored, overlooked, under respected, being made to settle. Your gut tells you the truth, it tells you when something is off. It tells you what no one else will.”

There was a lot of that, carried over from goodness knows how many years of the same old bad habits. I’m trying to break that now. I’ve been doing so much to challenge myself, to step out of this comfort zone, and to make a stand for the person I want to be and the life I want to have.

Being intentional in my goals towards a fitter, healthier self has helped a lot. CrossFit still makes me anxious day after day (or WOD after WOD, I should say), but I still go. Even if my gains aren’t phenomenal like a lot of my friends’, it’s still personal progress. It’s still my victory.

Stepping outside of the comfort zone in advising pushes me to be a better professional–and to have more of an impact on my students’ lives. It’s not easy for me to ask those follow-up questions of, “What could you have done to be more successful this quarter?” and “How will what’s happened this quarter affect your next quarter here?” and so forth. But when I do, I see the wheels turning. I see those reflective pieces start to come together for my students. And I see again why it is what I do matters, and why I simply do what I do.

Being new-ish to a city is tough. It has its own challenges, but I am still making that transition happen. Interestingly enough, my instinct is to move on to the next place quickly. But I think this time, I’m going to stay. Since college, I haven’t lived in one city for more than two years. In fact, I haven’t made it two full years in one place since leaving Bellingham. As I’ve said before, I think I’m ready to put down some roots in Portland.

And that scares me to no end.

I need to try this, though. I need to give myself this chance to stabilize. It will give me the chance to establish a real home again, to become a part of a community, and to keep on this pattern of growth. Growth doesn’t have to mean running from place to place. It doesn’t mean I have to give up that love of travel and exploration, either.

You bet these next few years will be full of mini-breakdowns and embarrassments. (Heck, I hit myself in the face multiple times on my exceedingly low-rep WOD today–however, I completed the workout at the prescribed weight, so I’m going to take that as a victory. [That’s part of the new philosophy moving forward–unless I know the prescribed weight is physically dangerous to me, I will attempt it, even if it means I’m slow and I’m dead-last each time.])

And that’s all okay. Instinct says it’s not, but I’ve got that gut feeling that things will be just fine.

Happy Friday, everyone.

I can see everything from here.