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

Posts tagged ‘Growth’

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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How Joanie got her groove back

It’s Saturday and I skipped my weigh-in. First skip of 2018. Rut roh.

I was recently having a venting fest with a good friend and she was lamenting that it was difficult for her to get motivated to take healthful steps in her life. I opined that I think momentum often brings about motivation and not the reverse and am currently experiencing that phenomenon myself. You know whose fault it is? My Grandma. And husband. And the school district.

1. Grandma’s birthday party

Cake.

2. Wedding anniversary

Meat.

3. Spring Break

I suppose that the term “Spring Break” isn’t short for “Spring Break from your meal plan” but it may as well be, amirite?

Understanding the problem here is key, y’all –

There. Is. No. Problem.

It is tempting to view these things as interruptions, but all of them are wonderful. Celebrating my Grandma’s long life (and may God bless her with many more!), my short (thus far) marriage, and an entirely too short break from y’alls children are all blessings. However, with the break in my routine has come a break in my momentum. Without the momentum, it is difficult to adjust my vision to see all the good things happening, and thus I become unmotivated. Even after only a week, getting back into my groove feels like a heavy lift.

I am proud of myself. I ran yesterday and have a work out planned for today. I’m at a conference and I have brought meals with me. I promise to report my weight next Saturday because I want to monitor my progress wholly. I don’t expect any loss until the end of the month because of where I am in my cycle, but I am determined to love myself and celebrate making good choices for my body.

My not always steady beat is groovy again. Thanks be to God.

I put the “A**” in Assessment

Part of my job description includes recording grades for students. I must say – love to assess, hate to record. It’s just a mark of progress at a point in time and doesn’t define a person’s ability. I hate to think that I have students who see grades less than an A and think to themselves, “Meh, music isn’t for me.” That’s not even taking their parents into consideration, who may see grades and start to close doors for their children. Ugh.

My disdain for recording applies to my personal life as well. While I understand that stepping on the scale doesn’t define me, I find that I, too, am tempted to think, “Meh, healthful living isn’t for me.” Nevertheless, she is persisting…

I shall proceed to grade myself in 3 parts, like I do my students – the strict assessment based on data, a comment on my progress, and a citizenship grade.

1. Grade: A

I have lost 18 pounds in 9 weeks. I have done so with the help of portion controlled meals. My running feels much easier than it did and my clothes are fitting more comfortably. It is difficult to argue with such obvious results.

2. Comments

My attitude is heavily dependent on my perception of my progress. Going from 175 pounds to 172 pounds means I had a wonderful week. Staying at 172 means I had a terrible week and I do not look forward to assessing my progress in the same way. I hate that the 172 pound person is attractive in the mirror only if I am making weight loss progress. While it is positive that my self-perception isn’t based on a particular number, progress is not linear and such extreme fluctuations in how I see myself can’t be healthy.

3. Citizenship: Satisfactory

I can be that person who will bring down the room if I don’t feel I am doing well. This week, for instance, since I didn’t lose any weight I have not been putting in the same effort with my exercise and eating – despite having an amazing race just 10 days ago. It is quite a challenge to be a good citizen with such a myopic perspective.

The capstone of next quarter will be another 5k, in which I hope to be 12 pounds lighter and be considerably more flexible. I wish I knew how to detach my perception from however my week went. Hopefully I will have better comments for next time!

The Happiest Place on Earth: Race Report

Yesterday rocked.

I was accompanied by Mom and Dad. Mom was racing too and cussing me the whole way to the start line. “Why am I up? It’s cold. I should be sleeping. This is crazy.” It was actually a bit colder than I was expecting, but it was supposed to be ideal by the time the race started. We got our packets, used the lovely portable toilets, I ate my pre-race navel and lined up at the starting line.

My playlist was set. 31:30. Too ambitious? Maybe. I was just feeling so optimistic! Garmin was on, but I didn’t want to stress myself out by staring at my watch, so I told myself I would turn it on but I would not look at it during the race. I wanted to see where my training had put me in my natural state – pushing, yes, but not killing myself. The hype man started the countdown from 10, and then the horn sounded. Tears came to my eyes once more. What is more beautiful than a chance to start again? I swallowed and made my way to the timing mat.

Two songs into my playlist, I saw the 1st mile marker. My body was feeling good. I pointed to the sky and asked for help for the next 2.1. I made another turn on this familiar Orlando course and saw a sign on a church. “Jesus Loves You,” it read in neon lights. I smiled as I continued running past the first water stop. I hadn’t been drinking water during any of my training runs and didn’t want to lose any momentum. Three more songs pass, as does the 2nd mile marker. I had done an amazing job on my playlist – the words and beat were helping me push forward. I saw a lady from Venezuela whose shirt read “God is with you” on its back – incidentally, near another water stop. Living Water, heh. “Gracias por tu camisa!” I yelled, thanking her for her shirt.

Two songs to go. Two turns to go. I am doing it. I was so happy to be running and feeling strong. One song to go. One turn to go. Final turn made. Finish line in sight. Aaaaand the first song comes on again. Blast you, point 1. I chuckled and found another gear as I crossed the finish line.

Mom had told me to come back for her, which I did, after I brought a snack to Dad, of course. I caught her on the home stretch. “Ready to run to the finish?!” “I will – at the stop sign.” That’s my Mom, ever the rebel. Gonna hit the gas at the stop sign. We went for it as I ducked to the left of the timing mats. I met with her on the other side of the chute. “Where are the race results?” said the woman who had been complaining to me all morning.

I had shaved 00:02:10 off my 5k time from November and Mom was a minute faster than a month ago! I was most pleased because my pace had been incredibly steady – each of my miles was within 20 seconds of the other. Boom. Mom commented that I looked like I just had had a facial. Nope. This is the glow that can only come from the happiest place on earth. A place of sweat, faith, strength, and growth. I want to stay here as long as I can. ❤️

Faith on the Run: Pre-Race Report

I have a 5k tomorrow! While I am confident I can complete the distance, I don’t know how I will feel while doing it or how my time will be.

This feeling is absolutely exhilarating.

2018 has been a year to reset thus far. I am humbled to have been able to find a rhythm with work and working out by using a meal planning service. I am finally making visible progress with my trainer and working out on my own in the mornings again. I know that this could change at any time, but while I have this I know it is something to be cherished. I started Couch to 5k again and completed 7 of the 8 weeks, and have only ‘come up short’ because my trainer suggested that I rest my ankle this week because I will not really progress prior to the race.

I am most happy because this year feels very much like the beginning of my running journey in 2013. At the time, I started with a pair of old sneakers in my closet and nothing but my app – no Garmin, no fancy shoes fitted for my running gait – I was just a girl who only ran after ice cream trucks and away from large dogs trying to lose weight. I have worked hard to simply do my best and not obsess over beating previous times and/or intervals, and am blessed to report that upon looking at the data, I appear to be improving without driving myself nuts.

I love that the anticipation of each training run has inspired both excitement and apprehension. The ability to put one foot in front of the other is a gift to be celebrated. Only the Lord knows how much longer I will have not just the ability to run, but to improve. I want so much to be a good steward of my blessings.

God built us to move forward, both literally and spiritually toward Him. The last 32.5 years have been a bit of a zig zag pattern for me, but tomorrow, I get to lace up and enjoy another new beginning, and Lord willing, another triumphant finish.

Coachie on Crack

There was more to this conversation, but this is the part that got my attention – 

Me: Why am I slower than I used to be?! 

Coachie: Blah blah insert reasonable scientific answer oh and you’re a year older…sorry! 

I want to make sure I’m understanding correctly. My age is supposed to have some effect on my physical output? No. Way. 

Up to this point, I had been pretty excited for my birthday. I even have a countdown on my phone! I am thankful for the life with which God has blessed me. My twenties have been a big deal – I’ve finished my formal schooling, started my career, become slightly less insecure, am becoming more physically fit, and finally get to stop kissing frogs. I am starting to see just how blessed I am. Bring on the years, baby. Then Coachie drops this bombshell on me. “You’re another year older…sorry!” Black isn’t supposed to crack at ALL, much less so early (Lord willing!) on life’s timeline. I’m confused. 

I went to my computer and started looking at pictures of myself from my early twenties. “My word,” I thought to myself. “I DO have cracks!” I look in the mirror and see lines that weren’t once there, not to mention a gray or two that has appeared since 2005. “I’ve been thinking to myself that I just keep getting better and here’s all this…aging. Yikes.” 

If I am being honest with myself, I still believe that’s the case. I AM getting better. The cracks in my black are evidence that growth always comes with a cost, whether it be time, money, or gray hair. I suppose I could have stayed inside away from the sun, or not taken the risks I have. My life is that much richer because of my choices. 

That being said – I have since upped my moisturizer game. 



Lady J, You are (registered for) an Ironman!

266 days to figure out why the hell I signed up for this business. Probably should know before I get to the starting line. This list should grow often.

1. I’m not disciplined enough to stay healthy without a goal that doesn’t terrify me. Two years ago, the idea of losing 10 pounds and doing a 5k did the trick. Clearly I’ve had to up the meds.

2. I’m not promised anything in the future. I’ve got my health right now. May as well go big with it.

3. I’ve witnessed how it’s made other people around me stronger.

4. I get to grow with and toward some really amazing people.

5. Some annoying people will test me and that will help me become stronger as well.

6. I am curious to see how good of a swimmer, cyclist, and runner live in me. By following Coachie’s plan I will get to see all of those things.

7. I will have to ask for so much help. Anything that forces me to my knees is good for my proud ass.

8. I can eat a lot of food!

9. I am told I am stronger than I think.

10. It is highly likely that in 2016 my focus will change from becoming an Ironman to becoming an Ironmom. That’s pretty much the realest ish ever.

11. I am not usually a quitter.

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Thanksgiving, Day 5

This music teacher is loath to toot her own horn, but looking over past entries in my blog reveals that I am pretty thankful throughout the year! I am using some of today’s post to highlight people about whom I’ve previously written. These people regularly challenge me to be the best Lady J I can be. Consider this somewhat of a “greatest hits” kind of entry. 🙂

1. Zoe. That is, Zoe Jane Volkswagen. You don’t realize the stress you put your car under until you try to make your legs/bicycle do the same thing.

2. Red FREAKING Rocket.

3. Regularity. I won’t elaborate.

4. The Sexiest Ironman Ever.

5. Proactiv Plus. My skin is so clear now; it seriously has been a Godsend! I don’t break out like I’m 15 anymore.

6. Give the patience and excellence in coaching award to this chick. Now.

7. My stupid battery life on my stupid phone. Legit first world problem here, but waiting until my contract is up to upgrade is proving to be a serious lesson in patience. Clearly, it’s a lesson I must need.

8. This woman is all up in my life and thus my blog. For reals.

9. My not so great eyesight. I remember when I was at piano camp in high school and we had communal bathrooms – I could take my glasses off and it’s like the germs weren’t even there!

10. Nothing less than a 10 for Lady J. Heh.

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Permission Granted

Every Triathlete Ever: OMG, it’s so hard; this is so much work. I’m miserable right now. You should totally do this. It’s great.

Um, what?

I can’t be the only person who has noticed this. When E.T.E. is asked why I should, like, totally do this (this being sign up for X or Y race), typically the response involves his or her addiction to racing. “I just love it, Joan.” Of course, having chosen to do it more than once, I’ve experienced the thoughtfulness of E.T.E. as I panic and question my decision. However, not one of them warned me of what would happen after my first half-ironman.

The afterglow.

Don’t misunderstand. Any fool could reason that life after a big event would feel calmer. I knew my training load would be lighter, despite having two races left in my season. Time in the pool and on the road feels easier now that I’ve experienced what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. What I was NOT expecting was to be a more forgiving person in the classroom.

I realize that things probably should feel different for me this year, in that I’m no longer quite a rookie at work. I am noticing drastic changes for the better. The way I talk to my students is different. I am much more calm in general, and it takes a lot more for me to become upset by anything that happens at work, really. I had thought that I was already judicious with choosing my battles, but now I am seeing that some situations aren’t even battles. When a student is flipping out about playing a. stupid. note, I handle it much more sensitively.

I must admit that I feel more than a little foolish about this change. I am an experienced musician and have no shortage of empathy for my students as they deal with performance anxiety. Why, then, have I been such a (relative) bitch to them in years previous? I believe the reason is twofold:

1. I have had the opportunity to see their growth despite my imperfection.

One of the many reasons I love being a specialist is that I am privileged to work with my students for several years. There are times I have looked through and executed my lesson plans and thought to myself – shit. Did I teach anyone anything? Now I am able to see students who used to look at me like I have two heads use musical terms with ease and play confidently. Children who once were completely unenthused about playing by themselves eagerly raise their hand to show me what they can do. While I don’t take all the credit, I think it’s fair for me to take some when what they do is pretty solid. They quote things that I have said that make it seem like they have paid attention to me throughout the years despite all the errors I’ve made along the way.

2. I have had the opportunity to see my growth despite my imperfection.

From the department of the bleeding obvious – I’ve always been imperfect. I’ve always made progress nonetheless. However, I have been a musician for so long that the process has often taken place without my being aware of it. The difference between the person who starts something at 4 and the one who starts something at 27 is stark. Only a complete dumbass My head would have to be buried under the sand for me not to be aware of the risks I’ve taken in the last 22 months; I’ve signed more “if you die it’s your own damn fault” waivers than I can count.

It took me 7:35:58 to finish 70.3 miles. Were there things that could have gone better? Of course. Did I do my absolute best? Totes. Are most people faster than I am? Am I black? I know I have a lot of room to grow, not because I’m black and therefore inherently meant to participate in endurance sports but because I know my best can get better. I’m giving myself permission to enjoy where I am right now, despite all of my flaws.

How gracious of me to allow myself to be human, whether I’m in the classroom, on the race course, or anywhere else. I’m welcome.

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Warning: Triathlon can make it go soft.

Your heart, that is. What else would I be talking about?

All right, kids. It’s been a week since I registered for this madness, and I am quickly realizing that my life is very different than it was just a year ago.

“But Lady J,” you retort. “You were sexy as hell last October, even before you did your first triathlon. What are you talking about?” Well. Who am I to fight an argument like that? *blushes* I’ve got to tell y’all, though – the eyes through which I admire myself in the mirror see life in a new way.

Life can be more than a bit torturous for an introverted perfectionist. Already, my tendency is to share myself fairly selectively. Add to that my feeling that the more people know me the less they’ll want to do with me – quite frankly, it’s a wonder that I open up to anyone. Probably because all humans need connection with one another. Whatevs.

Since triathlon has come into my life, I am finding that I resent that need less and less. What is training but dealing with imperfection? Race day is simply imperfection management. I have learned that excellence and imperfection are not mutually exclusive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that because my definition of success is changing, I am slowly becoming more comfortable sharing with others.

As I think of just how intense my training will have to be as I approach my first Ironman, I find myself looking forward not to race day itself but to the path that will take me there. I am excited to dig deep and see more of what I am made. The real shocking part is that I am also excited to get to know people who are currently in my life even better. Not only that, it doesn’t scare me to ask for help as it once did. I know I am going to meet a lot of new people and it doesn’t even make me roll my eyes to think about it. What’s that about?!

I think my favorite part of my mellowing is what I see happening in my professional life. I find that a kinder, gentler Lady J is more sensitive to the needs of my students. It is easier for me to see the good in their efforts to make music, even when it sounds absolutely horrific. The words that it takes to convince someone to try something new are coming more naturally to me. My babies are becoming less tense because I am starting to recognize that it is normal for them not to understand something right away, to stumble, and then get it if they keep showing up.

“Lady J,” you say in disbelief. “You teach music. Shouldn’t you know better than anyone that practice is needed to become proficient at anything?” Dammit. You’re right again. And I have always maintained with my students that I don’t expect them to be perfect – only to try their best. I am realizing I have secretly been hoping that they would get it right on the first try because their imperfection is a reflection of my imperfection. The more they play imperfectly, the more I have to deal with my own inadequacies as musician and teacher. Twisted, I know. Now, I am able to celebrate their progress with much more than a sigh of relief. “Thank God I don’t completely suck,” I would think. No, no, NO! “Thank God you stuck with it and can reap the rewards of your hard work.”

So, um, yeah. Lord willing, becoming an Ironman is gonna be pretty sweet. The road and relationships I build along the way are going to be even sweeter. Hugs for everyone!

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