I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Archive for May, 2014

My Cheeks Hurt.

And it’s not from being in the saddle too bloody long.

I am sure I am not alone when I say that occasionally, there are people whose actions make me want to react like this:


I posted earlier that I am working on not resenting the fact that I need other people not only to thrive but to survive. There’s simply no escaping it. I think the principal reason that my preference is to not deal with people is because I am an extremely sensitive person. When hurt, my sadness often turns to anger. Fine.

But then my anger morphs into unforgiveness. Apparently, Christ takes issue with this:


Okay, God. So what you’re saying is that not only do I need to forgive these clowns, but I also need to LOVE them? Like this:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV)

Like that? But eye for an eye is so much more kickass! Look, Lord, I don’t even need that joker’s eye. Just lemme walk away. Can’t you and I be close without me having to worry about all these LOSERS tryna mess up my flow?

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14, 15 NKJV)

Cold as ice.

Real talk, nothing anyone has ever done to me has nailed me to a cross. #nonSaviorproblems, right? Yeah, I’ve been hurt, but at the moment I have to search my heart pretty hard for any bitterness I’ve been harboring toward anyone. Oh wait, there’s that one chick. The one who is ultimately responsible for every problem I’ve ever had.


See, no one could have ever hurt me had I not allowed him or her to do so. I should have known better. I should have seen it coming. I should have protected myself. But – I didn’t. So any pain I got, I had coming to me. I’m such a bitch.

What if I am my greatest enemy? Moreover, if I’m the one responsible for all my pain, how the hell do I turn the cheek to myself? Do I keep taking more of my mess? I’ve tried to run from myself before – that didn’t end well.

Perhaps this is the reason the command to love our neighbor proceeds the assumed notion that we love ourselves. Indeed, we are stuck with ourselves and must learn to forgive within for mistakes that have repercussions outside ourselves. Just as we may ask those we love to adjust their behavior for our sake, all we can do is the same. Otherwise, what hope is there for the clowns that walk among us?

11:59 PM

I may have to turn in my chick card for this, but unless it’s for working out or lingerie, I really dislike shopping for clothes. “Maybe she only likes shopping for activities for which she displays her mind-blowing physical prowess,” you think to yourself. Alas, this is not the case.

I hate:

1. Going to the rack for something that may catch my eye
2. If I find it, praying that it’s in my size
3. Figuring out what the hell my size may be in a particular clothing line
4. Undressing and seeing all my imperfections in that bloody mirror
5. Inevitably getting it wrong and having to put on my original clothes and try again
6. Seeking someone other than the sales chick for an opinion because she’s just trying to make a living

The list continues. However, none of those is the principal reason that I have been incredibly uncomfortable at the mall in recent months. As I’ve lost weight, I’ve been forced to purchase new clothes a few times. I am happy that I’m healthy, but I am not immune from the idiotic size foolishness. “Smaller is better than bigger.” Is it really? Is an 8 inherently better than a 12? Yeah, smaller Joan is better off than bigger Joan because she’s healthier. Yet I still am panicked when I choose an article of clothing, to the point where I’ll choose something that I think may be too big so I can be relieved instead of disappointed. Unless stores start charging less money because you are paying for less material, ladies, we need to cut this size obsession business out.


But, here I am. The healthiest I have ever been in my adult life. And I’m freaking terrified. Students, parents, friends, family – I keep getting encouraged and praised for my progress and it’s very difficult for me not to view that as pressure. Especially when people ask me for guidance as though I’m someone to look up to. Dammit, this ain’t work, this is life!

It is completely surreal to me that I am doing fit people things. I have become
one of those weirdos who feels like a
slacker when I get in only one workout a day. I once ate poorly fairly regularly – now, when I do I look forward to eating better and thus feeling better. When I happen to be indulging with others, it is often remarked that it is no problem for me because I’m “going to run a billion miles in the morning.” I hear that and I think, “this is not good fuel for that billion mile run but I want it anyway!” A reply like that generally would cause eyes to glaze over, so I leave it alone. I am – so not used to being this person. This life is so wonderful and liberating but it feels like a fairy tale. We are often told that all good things must come to an end and I can’t help but wonder when my carriage is going to turn back into a pumpkin. No mind that as soon as I typed “pumpkin,” I thought that I should work pumpkin seeds into my regular diet. This feels way too good to be true.

The fitting room is a much too tangible reminder of all I have gained and am at risk of losing. But what can I do? Maybe a move to a nudist colony is in order.

Too Young For This Kind of Memory Loss: On Performance

I’d like to start this post by saying that I have a long history of kicking ass and taking names. I’ve been an overachiever for quite some time. Academically, musically, and hey, just look at me.


So why is that I am so afraid of failure when I all I do is win.

This is no little thing, y’all. Every time I have a race. Every time I speak in front of adults. Every time I have a performance of my own. Multiply that exponentially when my babies have a performance. I flip the hell out like the sky is going to bloody fall if anything goes wrong. It doesn’t even have to be in the context of a performance – for instance, let’s say I am in the middle of teaching a lesson and I am demonstrating a piece for a student and I make a mistake. You know what my first thought is? “Omg the parent is going to think I am a horrible teacher because I Missed. A. Note.”

Crazy Lady J. You’re forgetting who is in charge. And it ain’t you.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:1-11 NASB)

This God you serve, Joan. He does Big Things. You’re worried about notes, a fall, a misspoken word. None of this is even trouble as David describes. But He still cares. Why else would my life be so blessed?

I hope and pray that as I grow, I will learn to stop striving and finally KNOW that God is God. I am a champ only in Him.


No, wait, it is all about me.

So, all my talk about thinking about others was crap. My bad.

I have a piano student (I’ll call her Faith) that I’ve been concerned about for a while now. She and her best friend were born 2 days apart and have known each other their whole lives. I’ve been privileged to teach them both but saw quickly that the besty was – and still is – progressing much faster. I’ve worried that Faith would see and hear how much more advanced the besty is and become discouraged or jealous. Moreover, parents love to compare notes (see what I just did there?) and all I want is for everyone to live and grow harmoniously (I just did it again!).

I make a concerted (okay, I’ll stop – probably) effort to not make mention of any other student during my private lessons for this reason. Everyone is on his or her own path, and I want to ensure that my babies are focused on their own growth and no one else’s. I want them to hear each other play so they hone keen listening skills and can appreciate and uplift each other, but I’ve had a teacher or two directly compare me to another student and I found it devastating. If I’m doing my best – what else can I do?

There are many virtues I’ve taken from music and applied to endurance sports. Persistence. Courage. Humility. However, a stark difference occurred to me as I was in the middle of the race, talking to myself as I normally do. I started to say something to myself that I often say to myself as I am practicing the piano.

“Joan. You don’t have to go so fast. It’s not like this is a…shit.”

There actually is a first place. Aaaaaaand you get it by being the fastest. How – different.

I wish I could say that it didn’t bother me that I am the slowest person in either of my peer groups. No matter that I’ve been racing for about 5 minutes. It still sucks to feel like the loser. It frightens me to think that one day this won’t be the case and I could be one of those people who thinks, “Thank God I’m not the slow one anymore!” Gross. I would rather come in last forever than relish in the fact that I am not the slowest. Aim higher, people.

How does one deal with this? Recognizing and appreciating that there are people who are better while simultaneously recognizing and appreciating your own strength?

I’ve got to shut them out.

Not completely, of course. I still want to cheer them on and celebrate their victories. But I am on my ass about this all the time. “Self, did you do your best?” “Yes.” “Then STFU and celebrate victory.” See, I didn’t even say YOUR victory. Victory. Full stop.

It is important to me that I progress. What a relief for an overachiever like me that I have NO FREAKING CLUE at what rate I am “supposed” to progress. Thank God I’ve got a wise triathlon coach who doesn’t compare me to her other clients and allows me to grow at my own pace. All I can see is the next stroke/revolution/step in front of me. And I make it and take it. Like a freaking champ.

My baby Faith is also a freaking champ. I’ve had to help her through a couple of moments where she wasn’t doing her best because she wasn’t sure it was good enough. I know she hears the besty and part of her wonders why she is not where she is even though they started at the same time. No matter. She’ll never be as good as she can be if she’s not putting in the time. Now, Faith is progressing more quickly – not because of being motivated by the besty, but because she sees how well she can do when she applies herself fully.

Me too, Faith. Me too.



I Am A Huge Nerd: Race Epilogue

This is the score of the music in my head during the swim. The tabla is the sound of my arms hitting the water, tee hee! I prefer the words to be unpitched, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that in Sibelius. Feel free to use this yourself, but I want full credit!

Swim Song 525

After Careful Analysis of the Data, I’ve Decided to be Giddy. Race Report, Part II

The Swim

I had been watching all of the waves previous to mine, so I knew what was up. The athletes were hanging out by the first buoy until the loud guy shouted at them to go. It had been similar at St. Anthony’s. I could do that. The pink caps were called into the water and off I went. Sadly, I made the assumption that they were standing while waiting. Everyone looked so calm, right? How could they be treading? Come on, Joanie. You can tread. Don’t panic.


Guess that means I should start swimming.

I remembered what had been so effective in my previous race – don’t think about the whole distance. God is going to get me from buoy to buoy. The lake was so clear and the water felt so warm! Almost immediately I found myself having fun. I got into the rhythm of my strokes. I never realized that when my arm hits the water that it’s got a nice bass to it! I started adding words to the beat. Right, left. Right, left. I love to swim and Jesus loves me. Oh look, a buoy! Still feeling like a champ. Don’t forget to kick GUUUUURL don’t forget to kick! Note to Coachie: I’ve got to do better with swimming straight. Someone forgot to put the lines in the water AGAIN. A lifeguard (or three) caught my attention when I was a bit off course. No matter!

The water was so clear that I could see my arm underneath it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something really strange looking. “What the hell is that?!” Oh. Bubbles from when my arm hit the water. Chill out, Joan. I was feeling so great that being among other athletes didn’t make me panic. I was actually bummed when I saw the last buoy. Time to go get Red Rocket!

Composing songs really makes the swim go faster.

Composing really makes the swim go faster.

The Bike 

I haven’t had any falls since September and I’m still leery every time I get on that bloody bike. The thing I love about races is that I won’t allow myself to look like the punk that I feel like. Normally, I’ll wait a second before I start to pedal. Not today, dammit! Off onto the speedway I went for the lap around the track before I went out onto the rest of the course. Knowing that I was on a speedway pushed me to go faster. “Don’t be an idiot, Joan. You kinda have 24 miles to go.” But I felt so good! I was trying to decide whether or not I would take a break to hydrate and eat as I had my previous race. Meh, I’ll deal with that at the turn around, I thought. Let’s just GO!

This course was so beautiful. In stark contrast to St. Anthony’s, it was mostly rural. I saw very few cars on the whole ride. “Hay trabajo aqui, (there is work here)” a sign read. “Estoy trabajando en mi bici ahora mismo! (I am working on my bike right now!)” I shouted. Tee hee. I noted that as I got passed, people were NOT saying “on your left.” Sigh. Manners. I reminded myself I was in Miami. I shouldn’t expect manners. :-p I still dutifully gave warning as I passed fellow athletes. I’m classy.

Let me tell you, I have never had so much fun on my bike as I did during this race. I don’t know what elements were in place but I need to make sure it happens again. I didn’t stop the whole time and just listened to my body. I thanked God for all the beauty around me. Apparently, nature found me beautiful as well, as a few bugs went straight for the girls. A butterfly decided to sit between them for a few moments. “GET THE F OUT OF HERE!” I yelled. Off it went. I got this.

As the speedway came into view, I knew it was almost time to run. I had forgotten that I had to do another lap before I got into transition. Someone “kindly” shouted out that I’ll never make it if I keep spinning like that. I narrowed my eyes but knew he was right. Then I passed him. Heh. And then – it happened.

I got that same feeling I get when I run. That high. That tingle all over my body. I didn’t know that was possible on my bike! Especially after 28 miles! Winning! All right, Red Rocket, great job – time to get my running shoes!

Red Rocket and I were One.

Red Rocket and I were One.

The Run

After quickly getting water, I was off running. Aaaaand it was about 11 AM in South Florida. A *tad* hot. I was soon regretting not having stopped on the bike – maybe I was just hungry. Maaaaan I had thought that running was my thaaaang. I felt like I wanted to do anything BUT run. What a switch, eh? After all that swimming and biking business, running just seems like a tease. The finish line was like, right there. “Nanny, nanny, boo, boo!” said the run course. “You can’t catch me!” said the finish line. “Imma get it!” I thought. “Eventually.”

I… I think I need to do longer bricks. Or fix my brain. That 6.6 miles was just…it took for bloody ever. I walked a lot more than I had intended. I begged God to help change my brain. “We were having such a good time! What happened? Heeeellllp!” I grabbed ice water from the aid station. Someone next to me said, “It really helps when you put ice in your chest. It keeps you cool.” I grinned and filed it away. I saw the Jamaican triathlete on the course, walking. I waved. She said “Go Jamaican! I’ve got 40 years on you – you better kick my ass!” I laughed and went a bit faster. I turned and saw cars on the speedway. “You p***ies* and your MOTORS and EQUIPMENT! You should try a REAL sport!” I shouted. Mile 2 passes. Dear Lord, it’s only been 2 miles? I tried to look for distractions. Nature. Cute boys. Anything. This run would just NOT end.

I tried my swim strategy. Get to the next aid station. Don’t think of everything ahead of you. It just – it wasn’t the same, man. I would get water and start to walk and ran when I got tired of everything going by so slowly. Two girls were shouting “U-turn, you betta U-turn!” Halfway through. Only about 7,000 steps to go. Someone next to me said, “This is a f***ing death march.” Thanks a lot, man. Way to put the Funeral March in my head. I love Chopin as much as the next triathlete but Sonata Op. 35 No. 2 (III) isn’t the best way to get TURNTUP. I pressed on.

I got ice water again and remembered what that dude had said. The good athlete said, “nothing new on race day!” The tired athlete said, “what the hell, how much worse could it get?” I dumped the ice into my Tri top. It felt pretty good, but that wasn’t the best part. The girls were making music! Caveat – they only made music when I ran. Dammit, I guess I better run. I named my new instrument the tetamaracas. Don’t tell me that’s not brilliant. Saw the Jamaican again and she yelled, “You’ve got a great rhythm! Don’t stop!” Heh. It really was a great rhythm. It amused me enough to make me smile.

I refilled my instrument at the next stop. The speedway was in sight again. I took note of the words “Champions Club.” “That’s my club!” I shouted. “THAT’S WHERE I’M GOING!” Come on, God. Every step brought me closer. I was finally back inside for the last lap on the speedway before the finish. I looked desperately for the chute and finally it was before my eyes. I heard my amazing parents cheering for me. I looked to the sky, smiled, and pointed to where credit is due.

Another one in the books!

Another one in the books!

Why am I not sponsored yet? Beginning Triathlete Problems: Race Report, Part I

The Finish

After I had gotten my medal and water, I walked over to the board to check my time.


Only 2 minutes less than St. Anthony’s.

“But Lady J,” you ask. “Doesn’t that mean you got a PR? Why aren’t you TURNTUP?”

Here’s the thing. There were two distances – the half-iron and the international. My swim was significantly shorter in this race – by 500m. The half-iron athletes swam two laps and the international athletes swam one. My swim pace was slightly faster than previously, but that had to mean that I had regressed on land. A LOT.

I give myself this – I am proud to say that my first reaction wasn’t to say that triathlon isn’t for me. I was thinking, “Okay, gotta regroup, gotta spend more time on my feet, perhaps I wasn’t mentally prepared for the run. If that doesn’t work, then I quit.” LOL!

However, it wasn’t the time alone that I allowed to screw with my head. I am pretty in tune with my body and know when I am feeling great and can push more or when I need to slow down in order to survive. I thought I had been doing well on the bike course but it actually took me 8 minutes longer than it had at St. Anthony’s! What the hell?! I had been looking forward to triumphant blogging and Facebook posts and I didn’t earn them. Anger. Depression.

I must give shoutouts to 3M, The Running Mentor, and Coachie. I trust them enough to allow them to listen to me moan about how the sky is falling, and they were encouraging me to put things into perspective. “The humidity!” “The course!” “Your body!” It’s not a one to one comparison, apparently. “Are you proud of me?” I sheepishly asked. Of course they said yes, but you’d have to be a complete asshole not to say yes. Come on. I KNOW that finishing is winning but I just was not feeling it.

Then I got the email.


LOOK! The bike course was 4 miles longer than standard! And the run was a bit longer too! Soooooo my bike pace was actually faster than it had been a month ago over a longer distance. CHAAAAAAAMP! And the run was long in the blazing sun. How could I be mad. Tee hee.

Next goal: really internalizing that even if the distances had been the same, or shorter, I still had reason to smile at the finish line. Timeline: before I’m dead.


The Perils of Privilege: Why holidays are a BFD

I’ve always found the response of “first world problems” to any seemingly trivial complaint to be problematic. While its intent may be to remind the complainant of his/her blessings, the implication is that once you reach a certain level of privilege that you don’t have real problems any longer. Moreover, I think the response gives an excuse to the respondent to be dismissive. Why, especially if a friend is telling you s(he) is struggling with something, would you essentially say “Hey. You’re stupid for even thinking you have a problem.”? The issue is either legitimate OR if the complainant truly has a problem with seeing how blessed s(he) is, perhaps you could restore them in a way that is less abrasive.


If The Lord knows something that appears as inconsequential as the number of hairs on our head, surely we can do a better job of listening to each other’s struggles.

I say this to say I believe that first world problems are very serious ones. Not the problems themselves, necessarily, but what having them means. As I am teaching the babies patriotic songs, we discuss the reason we sing them and the sacrifices that those who have served have made so that we can freely discuss anything. The first day we sing them, everyone is generally well-behaved and respectful.
The babies get it – people have done things for them so that they could be there. They appreciate being able to sing and play and learn. The next time I see them, someone is invariably distracted or goofing off. I’ve got to remind them again – don’t forget why you are able to be here! They tighten up quickly.

Without exception – the older the students get, the more reminders I have to give.

I don’t think this is a coincidence. The more experience that we have with privilege, the more we tend to take for granted. That is a big ass problem. It has to do with more than honoring our amazing military. Upon their shoulders stand parents, teachers, and who knows who else that enable all of us to live lives that most people in the world could not even imagine. In a strange twist, too often we are caught up in creating and living that life we forget why it is that we’re able to do anything.

I wish we didn’t need holidays for those reminders. We really should live every day remembering the sacrifices of others. It is because increase in privilege does not mean decrease in fragility and fallibility that we must make special effort to honor our heroes.

Happy Memorial Day!

So, like, it’s not all about me. Pre-Race Report

This morning, transition closed at 6:50 but my wave didn’t start until 8:09. Because I had decided that I wasn’t going to huddle in a corner for over an hour, I went to go cheer on the half-iron athletes as they started and came out of the water to go back in for their second lap.

I. Was. Shocked.

Some had questions. Some looked tired. Some were going the wrong direction. They were like, imperfect. Good thing I had a cowbell! And – this is important. I did NOT tell them good job. “You’re doing it! Keep going!” Way less “aww you look like a loser. Try not to die out there.”

It is really quite remarkable how easily I was able to connect with complete strangers simply because they were doing something that I do. Let me tell you, I rang the hell out of that cowbell for them. I screamed with real investment for people that may not even know I was cheering for them and will likely never see again.

Why is it that it is easier for me to do this with strangers than acquaintances?

Well, I’ve already answered that here. Today served as a reminder that perhaps I should give more love to those around me who are striving to do their best. Even when my fragile, overachieving ego is threatened. Even when it seems ridiculous that people who are better than I am struggle with the same things. I suppose that REAL love requires RISK. Dammit.

I’d like to say that I likely would not have come to that conclusion had I not been racing without company today. Just putting that out there.

My turn!


Aside: There was a lady wearing a top that read “Jamaica Cycling” so of course, I had to stop her and get the deets. It was her 350th triathlon. Apparently, she’s the only Jamaican representing the US on its…whatever, the people who get to represent the US in triathlon. Would love if someone could explain how that happens! #kthanks She is a triathlon coach in Fort Lauderdale. She’ll come up in my race report.

The New Normal?

Welp. I got my race packet. Scoped out the course. Ran and swam a bit. Also, breaking news – my swim wave was pushed forward so I have 61 minutes to complete my swim instead of 35. I must confess, though I am relieved that I don’t have to (read: shouldn’t) worry about finishing on time, I am a little bummed. :-p Come on, God, I need to keep my blog juicy and that story would have been awesome. Alas, it is not mine to tell – probably. We’ll see for sure tomorrow. 🙂

All this – not fearing for my life or wondering what is going to go wrong. It’s WEIRD. I am NOT comfortable being comfortable. At the expo today I didn’t even feel out of place. What the hell is wrong with me? This will be triathlon number four, and the kind of panic that I’ve grown accustomed to kept me company for my first three. Now it’s just me and God, I guess. Could it be that I can expect to have fun and do well tomorrow? Without being ridiculously nervous? But that wouldn’t be



I be like Tevye with my anxiety, y’all.

I’m thankful that tomorrow, I am able to be brave in a brand new way. God’s been doing this faithfulness thing a long time. He’s been surprising me with joy. Maybe it’s time I stopped being surprised. Tomorrow – I am going to smile at the shore. It…is…gulp. Well, maybe I’m not ready to say it’s going to be a good day. But I’m excited to eat afterward! There’s going to be an afterward!

Baby steps.


Tag Cloud