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

Archive for January, 2019

Well Done, Miss

January 31. Just like that. Here are some key stats:

  • Weight lost: 0 pounds
  • Miles run: 54.2
  • Races run: 1
  • Days practiced: I don’t know, but I played well in a recital, so enough for now

This begs the question – how well am I resisting?

I. The temptation to overeat

I am breaking even. I will confess that I regret weighing myself a few days ago and seeing that, in that I was a bit less motivated to run. Naturally, everything is fitting the same way, but you know, sometimes you just hope to step on the scale and see a miracle. 🙂

II. Nonlinear progress

Although the scale is not budging, I can’t be mad because I’ve been eating whatever and it has been delicious. That being said, I am seeing my resting heart rate come down and I am getting better sleep, so the running is not a waste. I’ve got do to better in February, though, because I’ve got a 10 miler with The Mentor coming up and I already have no hope of keeping up so I’d rather not have negative hope and extra weight.

III. Comparing Myself to Others

I’m especially impressed with myself because I went to a recital and heard some really talented teachers, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Playing the piano can be fun and I think I have a specific calling, so for today, I’m secure. I know someone else could be doing it, but I don’t see anyone else around doing it for right now, and here I am, living life, so I may as well make the best of it.

IV. Allowing the evil one to steal my joy

This past week, I have been looking for any reason to laugh. At myself, with my colleagues and friends, at anything. I’m just ready for a good time even though nothing is really different. When I am happy, the key is to allow it even though I suspect in a week or two I will feel as though the world is ending.

V. Minimizing my accomplishments

I guess 1 through 4 aren’t too bad.

VI. Not prioritizing my time. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to play this past month and that I am on track to complete my 1019 km in 2019! It has been tricky but I’ve been making it work. However, I know that I have to be feeling positive to feel like it is worth it. I was extremely tempted to skip my running for the week because my weight hadn’t moved, but I reminded myself to not minimize my accomplishments, which helps me to prioritize my time.

Onto February:

  1. Weight loss: 5-7 pounds
  2. Miles run: at least 54
  3. Races run: 2
  4. Days practiced: whatever I need to be able to play through the first movement of Florence Price’s Piano Sonata.

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Can My Cycle Be Broken?

My life is fantastic. Until about 10 days ago, it was unbearable.

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I know all women experience some degree of mood swings, but I am starting to think that feeling like I have amounted to nothing and should just give up for half of the year is a problem, to say the least. It is January 27 and I am on track with my running goals and just played successfully in a recital. I just had a student at work sing with the All-State Elementary Chorus, and generally my students seem to be learning and enjoying music. However, depending on what day of the month it is, my life seems to be falling apart.

I have been getting good sleep and regular exercise. I can’t say that I remember it being quite so dramatic when I was at a lower weight. I don’t care to go on a lower carbohydrate diet, but I keep reading that it would be good for PCOS, which I was diagnosed with 15 years ago. I know I have a tendency toward anxiety and depression. I don’t want my running to slow (it’s slow enough as it is) because I’m not having so many carbs. What are my next steps? Nutritionist? Therapist? I feel like if I could have the feeling I feel on the 3rd day of my period all month long, I would be the most productive person in the world. It is difficult to enjoy being happy when I know that I am going to wish for the rapture by the 10th of each month. Like I said two weeks ago, I have no choice but to push forward.

 

‘Επαιξα και εχω νίκησα. Recital Report, Part II

I played and I have won. Heh.

I was expecting to go first because I am – let’s just say, new, but I was wrong. I was second, hah! There was a quartet who played twice in the program so I was the first soloist. I still think I was practically right 😉

I walked onto the stage and adjusted the bench. I thought about putting down the music stand but I didn’t feel like messing with it, so I left it up though I played from memory. I started with my first chord and felt relieved that the piano felt decent. No other instrumentalist has to gamble the way we do! I felt my feet shaking as I was pedaling, but I just took deep breaths and did my best to tell the story. I moved my body to the music I was making and it felt very natural.

On Bended Knees is a slower piece, and I have found over the years that those types of slower tempo pieces are my favorite to play. I felt the same way when I performed in 2014 and I can report confidently that there is no change! While I may not have to worry about my fingers running away or getting tripped up, I do I have to work to stay in the moment mentally – not letting myself think too far ahead. Enjoying every melodic and harmonic moment was key. Key. Heh!

There had been a part as the middle of the piece comes to an end where I had been having some memory trouble, and it happens to be one of my favorite moments of the piece. I had thinking that I wanted this moment to be absolutely perfect as I played, and guess what. It was! I smiled as I relished the chord before continuing. I wanted Burleigh’s lush harmonies to fill the room and I couldn’t have done better. The piece was coming to a climax when I heard a child cry out. “Shut that kid up!” I thought to myself. “This is my time!” The kid was shut up, and I was able to reach the pianissimo ending without interruption 🙂

I got up and was met with a thankful audience. I bowed and returned my seat, where I was able to enjoy the rest of the concert and relax. I am in a group of some talented teachers! It was nice to meet musicians and exchange compliments and respect. It makes me want to play more and more! I hope I make it happen!

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Concert Black: Recital Report, Part I

I am playing in a recital today!

It is the first time I have played publicly since my recital four and a half years ago.  The local association of piano teachers of which I am a part organizes a recital for teachers each year and a few months ago I was feeling brave and so I did a dumb thing – I registered 🙂 On an emotional scale where 10 is “Whee, I can’t wait to play for everyone!” and 1 is “I want to hide under the covers with Bear,” I am registering at a respectable 6. I am currently under the dryer at my hairstylist and after I get my nails and waxing done, perhaps I could peak at an 8.

This recital has special meaning for me because it is the first time I will be performing a piano piece by an African-American composer, which sounds insane coming from a grown ass African-American pianist, but here we are. And thank God for that. I am playing On Bended Knees, the 5th piece of 6 from a set called From the Southland by H.T. Burleigh (1866-1949). I was supposed to play 2 of the 6 but – life. I didn’t practice enough to feel sufficiently confident playing it. I am looking forward to practicing more to put the whole set together with other amazing works by these often overlooked composers.

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I must confess – I was bitter when I got the reminder email from the concert organizers.

Attire: Concert Black.

Like I said, I’m grown! How are you going to tell me what to wear? We are all piano teachers who regularly enter their students in recitals and who likely have grown up doing this very thing themselves. I can only surmise that they didn’t want the new one *me* looking flashy as hell. Maybe they know me without knowing me, because I would have found something really bright to wear. I’m feeling bold and proud and I love when my outfits match. But let’s be real – what’s bolder and prouder than a black pianist playing black music in a room whose ethnic composition is likely to mirror the Republican National Convention?

I am not sure if many in the room will recognize the Negro Spiritual upon which On Bended Knees is based, but I believe it is a melody that evocative of all of the pain of my people as well as the hope that has been carried and passed on. Everyone has experienced pain and hope, and it is my hope that I will be able to express these feelings successfully today. When I think about how the closest I will be to slavery is my student loan debt, and of the privilege I have to share black history on stage today, I feel incredibly thankful. It won’t be perfect, especially since note perfect is not how I roll, but I am in the perfect position to imperfectly tell our story.

Concert Black. All day, every day.

 

Nevertheless, She Pertitsted.

You don’t have to tell me. Sic, I know.

It turns out that I didn’t have to do 16 miles last week, but *just* 14. That being said, it still had been a long time since I had done that kind of mileage. I did my speedwork on Tuesday and an easy run on Wednesday. By that point I had 8 miles to go.

I really don’t prefer working out in the evening, but it has been very cold in the mornings so I had been faithfully working them into my day. I got home from work on Friday and allowed myself to rest a bit before embarking on my tempo. I was making my way through my warm up, feeling kind of blah about it, lamenting about how slow and sad I am. As soon as the tempo portion of the work out started, my girls started barking. I had been thinking earlier in the week that it was time to replace my bras and my run had confirmed my thoughts. I had worked out for about one mile and decided to abandon it – I’m not going to put my girls bouncing through already speedwork.

Saturday was family day, but I still fully intended to complete my run in the evening. We stopped at the mall, where Adonis and Lil One patiently waited as I tried on bra after bra, trying to find the right size and style. The only thing I knew I needed was MAXIMUM SUPPORT. I left with 2 new sports bras after jumping around the dressing room and planned to go running after a nap.

I walked for 1/10 of a mile and then picked up the pace. I knew two steps into the run that this bra, too, was failing my girls. I stormed back up the stairs and ripped it off, went back to the mall to return them and to the running store to try another bra. One day remained in the week and I had 7 miles to go. My longest run so far in my training cycle had been 4 miles, so I had a decision to make. Do I break my streak and play it conservative or do I jump to 7 in order to meet my mileage goal?

I decided that I would feel like a loser if I didn’t get my 7 miles done somehow on Sunday. I knew breaking it up into a 4 miler and a 3 miler would make it less likely that it would get done, so I just buckled down for 7 miles in the morning. I walked the first 1/10 of each mile and actually did better in terms of my pace than I had on my 4 miler the previous week. The bra I had purchased from the running store allowed me to focus on my running and not the girls. My pertitstence (sic) had paid off.

There are 17 miles on this week’s agenda. I am planning to complete them on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I need to keep focusing on good sleep and training and then decide to care about my diet – PMS and my ensuing period tends to make me indifferent but I cannot continue to allow it because that kinda means I’m indifferent about my diet for half of my life.

Pray for me!

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In The Beginning Was The Word.

*looks up*

Forgive me, Lord, if I end up blaspheming in this post. I’m thinking really hard about what I write here. If I’m wrong about anything, please show me. Thanks for inspiring others to invent delete and backspace.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

Beginnings are a big deal. Not that you can’t have a great ending without a great beginning, but oh man, getting the beginning right often makes things that much easier. It is my duty as a Christian to constantly keep the Life-giver at the forefront of my thoughts. As 2019 has started, I am already finding myself overwhelmed and defeated, although I shared in my last post that I have no objective reason to feel this way. The thing about life is that you can have a great day but then you go to sleep, knowing that you have to set yourself up to have another great day. If tomorrow itself is not guaranteed, surely a great tomorrow is far from certain.

So what can I do to not throw in the towel on January 14? Resist.

I’ve chosen resist as my word of the year because I have found that when I choose not to resist, it is when I get into trouble. I must resist –

  • the temptation to overeat.
  • believing that progress is always linear.
  • comparing myself to others.
  • allowing the evil one to steal my joy.
  • minimizing my accomplishments.
  • not prioritizing my time.

I can only make one good decision at a time. When I pray the Lord’s prayer, I ask for my daily bread – not weekly, not yearly. While I can plan for the future, I cannot know what it holds. I want to honor God with my body. I want to serve others with my gifts, even though I feel so much of the time that I don’t have very much to offer. He can use anyone, even lil Joanie, to accomplish His will, and I definitely don’t want to be in the way.

This week, I have 16 miles on the calendar. It has been well over a year since I have run 16 miles in one week and I am terrified. I wasn’t too pleased with how slow my long run was on Saturday, but I am choosing to remind myself that practice for the big day isn’t always going to be pleasurable. I imagine that it’s quite normal for a workout to feel like WORK. It’s not even trying to pretend to be something else.

God is my light. I must resist succumbing to the darkness that has already been conquered. The war is won.

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Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

Out of Options

Would you believe January is practically halfway done? Like so many of us, I started the year with high hopes. Where am I now, you wonder?

I’ve lost a pound and have run 19.5 miles. I’m right on track to meet my goal of 1019 km in 2019. I just finished attending a professional development conference where I had a student accepted to an exclusive ensemble, reconnected with old friends, and learned things that I can immediately share with my students upon return to work. Coronation day was this week and I can actually chew on both sides of my mouth again.

I wish I could say I am happy.

I have this nagging feeling that I am not living up to my potential. I feel stagnated and like everyone else is moving forward except me. I look upon all my education and the faith my parents have had in me to achieve great things and I can’t escape the feeling that I am blowing it majorly. And you know what the worst part is? As miserable as this feeling is, I really don’t feel like working to change any of the circumstance I can. It just sounds like too much work. So not only am I failing, but I’m lazy on top of it.

That begs the question – why am I bothering with anything? I don’t feel I have any viable alternative. As long as I am living, I have to try to be healthy and do my best for those around me, even if it doesn’t amount to much. I don’t want to be a complete waste of space. As long as I wake up, I need to show up. It’s this morbid curiosity that keeps me going – perhaps it will be different one of these days.

What an Adventurous Woman: Race Report

Last night, I had a really hard time getting to sleep. I had wanted to be winding down by 8 and asleep around 9:30 for a 4:30 am wake up, but I didn’t make it into bed until 10 pm and I was rolling around until after midnight as I questioned why I paid good money to do this. I woke up, made coffee, scrambled eggs and breadsticks and got in the car for my lonely, hour and a half ride – I couldn’t convince Adonis or Mom to come with me, so I brought Bear. 33, don’t care.

There was practically zero traffic on either interstate for me to contend with. I was thankful that though I didn’t get an ideal amount of sleep, I was not feeling tired. The entirety of the ride was dark, but I pumped myself up with an excellent playlist. As I arrived in Venice, the sun was coming up and I started to remember some of what I’ve loved about becoming a runner. I would have no other reason to be in a part of Florida I never see if it weren’t for a race.

After getting my race packet, I wandered out to the pier where I saw some men fishing. I pounded my fist, wishing I had thought to twist Adonis’s arm because he could be fishing while I ran, but it was probably just as well. He has a lot of business to schlep with – fishing gear reminds me of triathlon. I asked the gentlemen what was out there. “Nothing!” they replied, half kidding. A lady wandered up to one of the men and said that she had exchanged her race shirt for a larger size because it was ugly and now he could use it for fishing, hah! I didn’t comment but I had been thinking that upon my return home Adonis would see my shirt and try to steal it for the same reason. I was amused to see a household with a similar dynamic – one fisherman, one running woman. She and I started walking back toward the starting line and talking.

I soon learned that FW (fishing wife) likes doing all kinds of events in this part of Florida. She lives nearby and was telling me about different running and biking events and which ones had the best breakfasts and goody bags – clearly a woman after my own heart. I revealed that I did not live close by and wasn’t too familiar with the area, although I have done a few races down here in the past. “You came down here by yourself? What an adventurous woman,” she replied.

√ Blog post title. Boom.

I love how God works. I am sure she just wanted someone to pass time with before the race started, and I had had no plan as to how I was going to spend the time. I probably would have ended up spinning my wheels, being nervous for no good reason, but FW really helped me relax as I listened to her share and got some advice on longevity in running. “Listen to your body. Celery. Potatoes.” Can’t argue with that! It is funny to me that she said that, because I think of myself as a rather conservative person, reluctant to take what I perceive as unnecessary risks. When I make up my mind to do something, I just do it.

Before I knew it, it was time to start. FW started slightly ahead of me, but I caught up to her as she slowed. She said she wasn’t feeling so great and insisted I go ahead. I could have run with her, but I wanted to see what my body would do. This marks the first time in a good while that I have completed a training cycle with a goal race and I needed to see how it worked out. Sadly, red tide made a bit of the otherwise beautiful course smelly. I decided not to look at my watch at anytime, but simply committed to only walking when I stopped for water. I only wanted to do what I thought my body could – I’m conservative, remember? 😉

Shortly after mile 2, I saw the finish line in the distance. I was both hopeful and confused. As I approached, a volunteer informed me that I needed to take a loop around the lake before going to the finish. I remembered that FW had told me about the loop but I still found myself irrationally angry by the cooch tease of coming so close to the line but yet so far! Man, I was tired, but I knew I had more in me. One step came after the other and lo and behold, I was privileged to make the FINAL final turn toward the finish.

After getting much needed water, I went back toward the finish to see how FW had done. Turns out her medication was troubling her breathing! That’s the last time she’ll take that, she said! Runners are the best. Running is the best. 2 minutes and 20 seconds off of my last 5k 4 months ago. Let’s see what my next adventure holds!

Nineteen: Killing a Queen

I’ve always been really proud of my teeth. Each time I go to the dentist, I come back with a clean report. “Still in the no cavity club! 33 years running!” I use an electric toothbrush, I floss like a champ, and thankfully I have never had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Queen of Dental Hygiene, if you will. I am sure you can imagine my chagrin when a few weeks ago, I was chewing and the left side of my mouth was hurting. I called the dentist as soon as I was able. I had figured that my lifelong run in the no cavity club was coming to a close, but I was wrong.

I would need a crown.

Apparently, crowns are quite common, but because I’ve had such a stellar record, I’ve never paid attention to different kinds of dental work. My dentist had the nerve to tell me that sometimes these things just happen to people as they get older.

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

What an awful thing to say to someone. Not only am I going to need to shell out an unplanned sizable amount of my paycheck, but apparently I am aging as well? All this flossing and fluoride and technology is not preventing this? What is the bloody point?!

I spent the week before my appointment to get my temporary crown fearing what the procedure would be like. I didn’t anticipate feeling any physical pain, but I was very depressed about needing dental work. I sat in the chair, feeling like a drama queen as I asked the dentist one last time. “Are you absolutely sure that I need to do this?” He assured me that he thought this was the best path forward to prevent an eventual root canal and that there was evidence that I had somehow fractured my tooth. Yikes. He anesthetized me and I waited as I felt my mouth get tingly. Out came his drill and I found myself wishing I were under general anesthesia simply to escape my thoughts. I watched the particles of my tooth being sanded away and all I could think to myself was that this was the beginning of the end. My journey from ashes to ashes and dust to dust was starting with the number nineteen – my sad little molar that I thought was gonna make it with me to the finish line.

As we wrapped up, the hygienist left me with important instructions, noting that I would have the temporary in for three weeks instead of the normal two. Favor your right side. No hard or sticky foods. I remarked that this would be a Christmas miracle, indeed – eating less over the holidays. On the drive home, I thought to myself, maybe this is why people have children – in a futile attempt to try to counter our march toward death. Granted, we can’t stop it, but it is nice to have someone around who (Lord willing!) is a bit further away from it. Someone with all of their unmodified, natural teeth. Makes you think.

What else can I say? At least the queen has a crown now…

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What Happened?

I wish I knew where 2018 went.

After I posted about not being very happy thus far in 2019 (despite having worked out every day, hah!), it dawned on me that I had not updated my race calendar since the middle of 2016! My goodness, I wonder what could have happened in the middle of 2016 that changed things…

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Oh yeahhh, Adonis!

I went through my Garmin app to see my activities so I could properly document them and wouldn’t you know it – there is a correlation between the amount of miles I ran and how long I’ve been married.

2016: Ran 125 times for a total of 595.87 miles

2017: Ran 117 times for a total of 345.4 miles

2018: Ran 93 times for a total of 240.38 miles.

I’m not trying to say that my running less is my husband’s fault. I’m a pretty articulate woman and if I wanted to say that, I would just come out and say it. What I will say is that I’ve done a piss poor job of taking care of myself since we’ve gotten married. My Garmin was out of commission because of a bad strap and I waited several months to replace it – hardly the watch’s fault! I didn’t have any injuries, though I did struggle with some respiratory foolishness between April and June and then again between November and December. Does this mean I don’t care about running as much as I once did?

I don’t think so.

Take a look at my calendar from last year. I only did 6 races but I traveled quite a bit and made it a point to do a race in each place that I went. I would have run in Jamaica again but the race fell on my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I wish I didn’t feel like I have to be closer to perfect in order to manage my new schedule and put running in it more consistently, but if I am not eating and sleeping well, it is difficult for me to see how I can meet my goals.

It still makes me tear up to toe the starting line. It still is a thrill to cross a finish line. It isn’t quite as much fun if I am not putting the time into train, and that’s something that I must change. I got an email today where I was challenged to run 1019 KM in 2019 and dammit I am going to do it. In fact – if I make it 1/4 of the way by the end of March, I get to buy myself a fancy new Garmin. My body and my heart are kind of tired but I can’t give up. I’m too young and I’m still kind of cute.

Come on, God. Let’s go again.

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