ALL THE SINGLE LADIES

 

This can now be found at, drumroll please. . .

To All The Single Ladies: 10 Tips for Dating in Your 30s.

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DOIN’ IT RIGHT

This week I finished up the Spring semester at both colleges at which I am lucky enough to get to share my knowledge about reading strategies, the fine science of navigating the maze that is a college textbook, English vocabulary, and, well, life in general. It has been my pleasure and privilege to facilitate the growth and learning of each and every mind that has taken seat in my lectures.

Teaching at the collegiate level, I gotta say, is so.much.fun. Not only do I get to use large quantities of sarcasm, wit, and profanity (well placed, and appropriately dropped, of course), I have found that the potential level of impact I have is much more profound than I had expected. What I’m doing makes a difference- a memorable one- and not just because I threw out a few hip hop lyrics into the mix a time or two (play to your audience people).

My students are adults and while there will be many professors they forget, there will also be many they remember. I sincerely hope that I am one of the latter.

To that end, when it came time to choose a novel for study, I selected a book that I felt would support their overall learning experience and lives. I chose “Drive,” by Daniel Pink, which is a book about human motivation and what, well, drives us to do what we do. In response to the reading I asked students to work through a series of exercises related to the book and the toolkit it contains and consider what it was they felt to be their current reality, their priorities, their goals, and their motivation.

As a final project- students were to summarize this new understanding of their purpose in one sentence, their sentence. A statement that says who they are, what they represent, or who they want to be.

I could not be more pleased with the results. Honestly. My heart is swelled with pride, my eyes brimming with tears, my inner wannabe cheerleader is shaking her pom-poms saying “yes you CAN!”

Take the next four and half minutes, would you please, and see what they created. Share it. Spread it. Make your own and share that. Ask yourself, “what’s my sentence?”

Click HERE to view.

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PIMP MY STRIDE

Yesterday I ran the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco, in a tutu, tired as hell, but happier than happy to be surrounded by over 40,000 fellow endorphin junkies (liberal interpretation suggested. . .). I decided, against better advice, to actually run the event, just this once, just so I could have that experience. There is also a small possibility that pride/competitiveness/ over-achieving habits came into factor here, but let’s stick with the former rationalization, shall we?

I had a great time, it was by far the coolest run I’ve ever done, hands down. The frenetic energy of sidewalks stacked ten deep for the entire course carried me through all 7.4 miles (well, that and my beats, #hiphopsavedmylife). Let me just say, this race is serious training ground for measuring reaction- in addition to getting smacked in the head by a few flying tortillas I also saw so much naked old man ass that it actually lost its shock factor. Yeah. Go ahead and try to get that image out of your head now. You’re welcome.

As usually happens on a run though, at some point, my mind wanders.  After a few miles of avoiding contact highs, mid-street dance parties, and near collisions with photo opps of amazingly costumed participants (not me- I totally failed to represent), and I finally caught up the “real runners” in the group. This of course, led to an internal monologue of snarky commentary about runners. We really are a different breed. I mean, c’mon, we run. . . for fun. As in, propel ourselves in a forward(ish) motion, joints and muscle pain be dammed, on purpose, and regularly. It takes a special kind of crazy to love this shit.

So yeah, call me crazy. This is hardly news to me.  But it might be for you. Consider, for example, the following examples of running cultural norms:

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE : RESIDENT KNOWLEDGE BANK

1. What the question “are you gonna run, run, or just like, run?” means.

2. Goo. Yes it’s disgusting. Yes, we eat it anyway. No, I don’t really want to know what’s in it. Radioactive supernatural carbohydrate complexes, probably. And preservatives.

3. IT band pain. One can easily swap out “IT band” for “hip” “knees” “low back” or any other major joint, ligament or part of the spine that begins its slow deterioration well before your AARP membership benefits become available.

4. Shin splints. Meaning: a) time for new shoes, b) treadmill work, or c) bad decisions in terrain, training, footwear, or in general.

5. The term “splits” –  not the kind those bendy people can do.

6. Hill training. This is also known as finding your lactic acid threshold. The colloquial reference mid the actual act of hill training, however, is actually “stupid,” or occasionally, “FTS.”

7. $200 shoes, purchased at least twice a year and worn for ONLY one purpose.

8. The expression “Cotton is Rotten.” The reason for lycra, spandex and polyester has thus been identified. Unless you like smelling like a men’s locker room and having yellow armpits. Then keep it up there, Mother Earth.

9. “Wicking fabric.”  Essential for anyone who is not a run stripper, like me, in which case this word only matters for winter run attire (occasionally), shorts, or tights.

10. “Chafing.” Chip Wilson can take his thigh gap and suck it take it straight to the runway, ‘cuz that’s the only place that genetic mutation is found. Enough said.

11. Beer. Not just a reason to run, but as a legitimate recovery drink. Google it. The internet says it’s true. So it is.

12. “It’s only five miles.” Yes, “only.” When you regularly run 30+ miles a week five miles is really just not a big deal. Perspective is everything.

13. Taper week. Best.Week.Ever.

14. Rest Day. What’s that? #notinmyvocabulary.

15. Heavy Medal(s). Yeah, no not Def Leapord. Equally reeking of ego inflation, however.

16. Race bibs. They’re not just for fast babies.

17. Race Rookies. You can spot them because they are usually wearing the race shirt. Like for that actual event. From the same year. . .

18. Rungry. Term for the state of mind found in the last third or so of your run.  Brain is flooded with little thought clouds of hamburgers. And pizza. And maybe even doughnuts. And DEFINITELY peanut butter.

19.  Short term memory issues. “I am never doing this agai…, hey wait, is that a discount code for the next one? Let’s sign up!”

20. “Events” listed as a legit item in your monthly budget for necessities. Right after “food,” and just before “fuel.”

Still don’t get it? Don’t worry, you will. Somehow, someway, someday, the rhythm is gonna get you.

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BLUCK YOU

When my son was really young, say from about age 18 months to three or so, he had a favorite word, unique as his personality, and dropped more frequently than names on the red carpet. He would say it when he disliked his food. He would say it when I asked him to do something. He would say it when he was tired, hungry, mad, crabby or otherwise dissatisfied.

“BLUCK!”  He would shriek. “BLUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKK!”

An adverbial variation occasionally included “blucky,” (okay, more like “BUH-LUCK-EEEEEEEE”) but no matter the form, it was enunciated with such profound intonation that you practically felt it. Like a big blob of green blobby bluck, right there, smack in the face- “BLLLLLLLUCK!” Translation? “This is total bullshit and I don’t want it.”

Well this charming onomatopoeia, as it were, is a word that we’ve kept in our family vocabulary since; we use it for special occasions, when we really mean it. Like um, now.

This week- you get a big “BLUCK” from me. Yep. That’s right “BLUCK YOU” week.

Why? Well, this seems to have been my Mental Toughness Test Week. My “how much more can you take before you snap at someone, Michelle?” “how ‘chill’ are you this morning, cranky pants?” “just how far will you push yourself, big stuff?” week.

Must have just been that time, again. Thanks Universe. Things were really going too smoothly there. Appreciate it.

As a point of reference, consider things like this scenario:

It’s Mother’s Day and we are at my friends house for a dinner gathering celebrating us mamas. Things are going quite well until my darling son decides to a) play freeze tag in the house and then, b) NOT stop to open the screen door before going outside, but rather just go ahead and run right through it. Yes, that’s correct. He ran right through the damn thing, ripping it from its frame and landing with a rather loud thud on the front porch. Wasn’t that a lovely mess to clean up, on both a metaphorical, and quite literal, level. We are clearly the best dinner guests ever.

And then this:

Tuesday morning. I’m trying to work. Kids are trying to kill each other. Standard protocol really. Finally, at 8:51, nine minutes before school starts and after asking three hundred and thirty seven times for them to put their shoes on I start “raising” my voice, like… to the level that the neighbors three four houses down can probably hear me. My daughter yells back at me (duh, like I didn’t know that was going to happen) and I retort, at full volume “I’M THE ONLY ONE ALLOWED TO YELL IN THIS HOUSE!” This is followed by some red cheeks (mine), total silence for three seconds, and a few snickers (not mine…). Way.to.go.Mom.

The rest of the week was similar. I almost lost my cool, recovered, and hit repeat. And so it continued. Over. And over. And over. No wonder I’m so tired.

The good news? It’s almost over. The better news? So far everyone is still alive…

Actually, the best news really was the recovery. The benefit of working through your shit is you recognize the kind of manure in which you’re standing and can reflect on how you might avoid stepping in the same crap next time. Each time I failed, I learned, I shifted my energy and my attitude, and I grew. And, bonus points- I articulated that to my kids.

This week was actually a pretty good lesson in learning to reset.

So good, in fact, it even crept up in our evening prayers. Each night we pray for three things- one thing we are grateful for, one thing we’d like help with, and one thing with which we’d like to help someone else. This week, there was a whole lot of time and energy given to part two. It was a regular house of mirrors up in here, what with all the self-reflection going down in this casa. In fact, I even overheard my daughter say at one point, “well I know what I’M going to be praying about tonight.”

Wow. So um, I guess this whole learning to hold it down, let it go, and be a better person nonsense is working. PHEW.

How do I know?

In the smiles I get when I apologize. In the hugs I get after the tears of frustration are wiped when homework time is over. When my almost nine year old still blows me a kiss when she walks into her school even though we quarrelled on the way there.

I know when I hear my six year old ask for God’s help in learning to slow his body down, and when he thanks Him for the “the opportunity to spend fun time with my Mommy, my sister and my friends.” When I read my Mother’s Day poem (see below), and know, no matter what, my kids know I love them.

I know I’m making progress, that even though this is hard, that even though I fail, that a lot of things in life are  “blucky,” it’s worth the effort.  I am reminded when a friend reaches out and says “thanks for being there when I was struggling; I appreciate you.” I feel it when I push through my fatigue and reach new levels of fitness. When I labor through a difficult practice and am rewarded with pure light and bliss in the aftermath. There is no challenge without reward and no benefit without a cost. Balance. Flow. Give and take. Lows, but also highs.

 

So, in carrying those lessons and reminders forward,  here’s hoping for a “bluck-less” weekend ahead, for us all. Fall if you must, but keep your eyes, and your perspective, always looking at what’s right there in front of you.

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LOVE AFFAIR

I recently recognized something in my life- I am having a love affair- and it’s starting to show. Like, all the time. Gasp.

CTFD; it’s not a man. Sheesh.

I know this really messes with your perception of an English Professor here, being so out of character and all, but competing (narrowly) with six packs, tattoos and smiles, the flutters of my heart, as it happens, are set off with words.

My name is Michelle, and I am a linguaphile.

Ah, words. Beautiful, lovely language, diction, locution, articulation, phraseology. How lucky are we humans, honestly, to have the gift of expression? So amazing.  However, this is not an article about the power of words. Been there, done that; read it here, or here, or even here. This is about a particular kind of discourse, the best kind, IMNSHO, actually. Don’t know what that means? Keep reading. One more minute ‘till enlightenment.

My affection extends across a broad categorical spectrum of jargon for the most part, but I am most notably fond of profanity (only when placed strategically into well crafted grammatically complex utterances, of course), any all all things witty, snarky, or otherwise satirically sound, and the vast vernacular collection I like to call “shit I just made up, borrowed, or improved upon.”

This menagerie includes a few blended words, like “shitittude” and “framily.” But by and large, it includes quasi-words. Word wannabes. Not like graphemes, morphemes phonemes, or other dissectable linguistic fodder, I’m talking acronyms here people.   Expressions that are made from the first letters of other words, you know, in the name of efficiency and good humor, and probably also, in an effort to remain in the “cool kids” club.

So, I have gotten into a habit (that I enjoy, and I’m um, kind of, sort of not inclined to end this quirky obsession) of dropping them. Like all the time. In pretty much any setting.  This is rarely a problem, since I am obviously a professional comedian and everyone knows what exactly to what I’m referring when I toss one out on the table. Oh wait. Nope. Not true. Negative. None of those last few statements are accurate.

Thus, with the intention of providing a) a good laugh, b) clarification, c) the potential for understanding the cryptic messages on your child’s media device or your facebook feed (don’t even pretend you’ve have googled at least one this month), and of course d) content with which to use in jest (of me, obviously), here is:

SOS: SARCASTIC ORATION SHORTCUTS
Acronyms you hate to love
ACRONYM
MOST LIKELY MEANS
BUT COULD ALSO INDICATE
BRB Be Right Back I’m enforcing taking a phone time out but I’ll respond sometime in the nearish future.
CFO Chill (the) Fuck Out Seriously? Relax. Be quiet.Shh.
CTFD Calm The Fuck Down Calmly Try (to) Face (your) Decisions
DIATH Dammit All To Hell I am frustrated but trying to not use the “F” word
DUI-Y Driving Under (the) Influence of Yoga I’m hungry. And sweaty. And thirsty. And tired. Wait, where am I going?
FOMO Fear Of Missing Out Everyone is doing something more fun than me right now
FYA Fuck You Autocorrect Siri!! Quit saying things I didn’t nintendo
IMNSHO In My Not So Humble Opinion I own this shit
ISO In Search Of A virtual cry for help. Or, I want something and I want to leverage my resources to get it.
MOTY Mother Of The Year I am already saving for my kids therapy bills
NBD No Big Deal Passive aggressiveness expressed in three little letters
NGH Not Gonna Happen Who are we kidding here?
NSFW Not Safe For Work Watch this somewhere where smiling is allowed and “offensive” is interpreted liberally
NFW No Fucking Way Complete Disbelief. Shocking news.
NSS No Shit Sherlock Thanks, Captain Obvious. I hope you draw your weapon faster than your conclusions.
NVE Near Vomit Experience I found my “edge,” probably while working out…
PITA Pain In The Ass Time and energy sucker
ROB Rationalizing Own Bullshit Making excuses sound like legit explanations
RT Real Talk No bullshitting. #truestory
SAAM Swing And A Miss That was clearly a) out of your scope, b) over your head, c) played to the wrong crowd, or, possibly, d)poorly executed
TIA Thanks In Advance Please excuse the lack of manners about to happen and/or my request for your time and energy in solving my problems. I’m warning you, in advance, so no fair getting offended.
TWD Total World Domination It’s go time. Optimization starts now.
WOD Workout Of (the) Day Willing Opportunity (for) Death.
WTF What The Fuck a) I refuse to take accountability for the current reality b) I am confused, c) I don’t know how else to respond to your ridiculous story, d) I am in shock, e) she’s wearing what?, f) he said that?, g) what just happened? or h) I’m cranky. Don’t talk to me.
YP Your Problem As in, not mine. Deal with your own shitstorm.

 

That’s the list, for now. Have a good one you’d like to add? Shoot it to me, comment below or start a viral thread of shares, I mean, um, tweet it or something.

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TAKE OVER THE WORLD

“I can’t do this.”
“I’m too tired.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m just not in the mood.”
“I don’t like it.”
“It’s not fun.”
“It’s boring.”
“It’s too hard.”
“I’m sore.”

What do all of those have in common? Well, besides all being things I have said at least once in the last two years, they are all . . . drumroll please. . . excuses. Plain and simple. Excuses; for why you shouldn’t do something. What kind of something? Most likely something that is good for you, but requires effort, and more than you perceive yourself as “having” right now.

The keyword in that statement, however, is “perceive.” As in point of view. As in not lasting. As in changeable. As in . . . not permanent.

You picking up what I’m throwing down here? It’s the perception of your strength that determines your effort. Your conscious choice in determining your energy and commitment. Your reaction to a challenge.

Yep. It’s a choice. And you get to make it, all day, every day. There’s that Accountability Act again. Shit.

Twice last week I did something even when I realllllyyyyy didn’t want to, and both times it turned out great. Like, super great. I went in heavy and left light. I started tired and left on top of the world. I FIXED it.

This is serious progress people. This is the “now that” reward that the Universe is throwing my way. Work hard, win big. Like my post from earlier this week illustrated, you get what you put into it.

There is something incredibly powerful about pushing through your pain, past your self imposed limitations and not quitting even when it gets hard.  Turns out, on the other side of the shaking is something good. Something amazing. Growth. Strength. Peace. Happiness. Zen. Ommmmmm.

My yoga instructors often remind the class (usually a good 60 seconds into chair pose, as it happens), that :

“Your brain quits way before your body does.”

They are SO right. Our bodies will cooperate. They are much stronger than we think they are. Again, another keyword- “think.”

If you think you’re strong, you are. If you believe you can hold the pose, you can.  It is our mind that controls the body and our breath that calms the mind. Control your breath, control your mind. Control your mind and your potential is unlimited. Total World Domination baby.

What happens when you get uncomfortable? Do you quit? Why? When? Who really decided it was time to quit- your legs, or your brain?

So what if your thighs are burning. Feel the fire. So your abs are shaking? Yes, and . . .? Deal with it. Breathe. Hold it. Focus. I promise you, on the other side is bliss. Barring legitimate injury, there’s nothing stopping you, but you. Listen to your body, but with conviction and authenticity.

Decide- do you want to stop because it’s hard, or do you want to stop because you’ve given 100%? That distinction is tremendous. When you think you’ve gone as far as you can go, see what happens if you go a little bit farther. These are the boundaries worth pushing.

Ready to get started? Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. When you are sore you have an abundance of lactic acid built up and it makes you feel sluggish and weak. The solution is to get moving and break it up. Use a foam roller, a mobility ball, or a perspective changer (also known as an inversion pose) and push past it. For me this usually requires about 10 minutes or so of work, so somewhere in mile two, near the end of my warm-up or just after the vinyasa portion of yoga begins. This means that as long as I stay committed to those first ten minutes, the rest will take care of itself. Do not let being tired stop you from forward motion. Move as slowly as you’d like, but move.

2. When you feel discomfort, such as a muscle cramp or tightness, become an observer. Don’t fight it. Don’t resist it or ignore it. Simply notice it. Where does it hurt? What kinds of sensation do you feel? Notice and acknowledge them, then let them go. Breathe in energy, send it there, and keep moving forward. Sidenote- sincere pain, such as that that physically limits your ability to move or puts you at risk of injury is no joke. Be respectful of that and stop before it becomes debilitating.

3. Although it seems counterintuitive, expending energy produces energy. Same philosophy as with money- sometimes you spend it to make it. Likewise with energy, you can “fake it ‘till you make it.” As I pointed out above, you will probably feel tired for about ten minutes, but as the blood starts to move through your body your energy levels will spike, your level of alertness will increase, your mobility will improve and your overall experience will be enhanced.

4.  Think less about how far or how much you have left, but instead on how far you have come. Draw your strength from what you have already accomplished, and not on what remains. Set yourself up for success, be your own cheerleader. Personally, I’m a “counter” in most exercise settings. I count my breaths, my reps or my miles completed, and not the ones left to be done. This small practice affords me some peace of mind, some comfort, and also, some small intrinsic reward.

5. Speaking of mindset- visualize to materialize. See yourself at the end. Bring forward memories of the peace you feel at completion in the past and the light at the end of the tunnel that you know is just ahead. Remember how amazing your body is going to feel, and begin to feel it. The colloquially referenced and coveted “Runners High” is not a myth; our bodies really are flooded with endorphins as a result of exercise. Remember that, leverage your resources, and work for it. In the end, it’s all going to be worth it.
So, to get a little old school on ya’ :

“Yes you can, yes you will, yes you did.”

Mr.T

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SUPERSTAR

“It’s not swagger, I’m just sore.”

This is my motto today. Put the signal out and call the dark night please, cuz,  holy workout Batman, this girl’s about to go down for the count.

Just kidding. Mostly.

Yes, I am tired. Yes, I am sore. But whatever, I love it. No pain, no gain, tear it down to build it up, face the struggle to lie in ease, stand in the rain to appreciate the sunshine and other metaphorical cliches.

But seriously.

It’s true. And it’s time to own it. Friends, please note, your blame-thanking days are coming to an end, and quickly.  Yes, blame-thanking. This is like blame shifting, only in a grateful way, as in being passive aggressively thankful for an experience without acknowledging your own role and participation in it.

For example, this morning I went to an hour of CrossFit and did an incredibly intense WOD.  WOD, by the way, could mean “Workout Of (the) Day.” It can also mean “Wanton Opposition (to) Death;” depends entirely on your point of view. Anyhow, post my close encounter with the Grim Reaper, I went home, ate, and went directly to yoga, you know for rebirth and shit. Only um, it’s hot, power vinyasa yoga, not yin yoga. For an hour. In 95 degrees. So. . . ow. ow and more ow.

Now, I could “blame” my coach for working us so hard. I could “blame” my yoga instructor for “making” us do navasana (boat pose) sit-ups with a block until my abs were shaking. My muscles could “thank” them for developing strength and tone. This all could happen. Actually, in the past, it has happened.

But, the truth is, they provided suggestions, I chose to follow them. I chose to do the workouts. I chose to push my body to its limit, both times. No one can do that but me. They can’t “make” me do anything; I choose to do what I do. Thus, the only person I can “blame” is myself. The person I should be thanking, is my body, for being so strong, and my soul, for guiding me through it.

The physical state I am in is not anyone’s “fault,” nor responsibility.  It is a series of conscious, active choices that got me here. This is not to say I’m not grateful and thankful for my coaches and instructors- they rock. Their amazing programming and support allows me to maximize my potential; their guidance, wisdom and encouragement helps me to grow as an athlete and as a person. However, at the end of the day, it’s my own brain, my own two feet, my own heart that does the work. They serve as a catalyst for growth and I take it from there. They serve as my inspiration to be better than I was yesterday, every day, and the only person in charge of the reaction after that, is me. I am my own fuel.

Want to be better? Want to grow? Want to find happiness? Get out of your own damn way. Take ownership of your life and your choices. In the words of Byron Katie :

“Just keep coming home to yourself. You are the one you’ve been waiting for.”

 

Like this post? Post it, tweet it, pin it, google it, trip on it, or otherwise spread the social love people.Really, really, like it? Subscribe to my feed and get posts delivered in your inbox.Can’t get enough? Stalk me: @CFOLikeaMother, Facebook or Pinterest