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

Posts tagged ‘Learning’

The Liberty of Newness: My Second Endurance Sport

The fun I have had training and growing and surprising myself in the past year has not come without cost. I often feel guilty for not playing the piano more. Real talk – when I started teaching, I wasn’t practicing so much anyhow as I adjusted to having the FT, but it still bugs me. Yeah, I’m all up in the music on the daily, teaching the kiddos, enjoying what I’m doing, but I feel that I am learning things from endurance training that music has been trying to show me for…well, ever. Why am I willing and able to put so much time into something new when music has already done so much for me?


Yup. You see, music and I have been together for damn near 25 years. We’ve had our ups and downs but I know we’ll always be together. But racing? Everything is new and fresh and I get surprised all the time! I am enjoying each new day, but with that comes the fear of my honeymoon ending.

What will that even look like?

I imagine that eventually I will hit a point where I am not progressing as quickly, if at all. Age will bring its challenges, as will injury and life interfering with training. How will I feel about racing then? Will I still love it even though I don’t feel it is being as good to me as it once was?

My mother recently commented that she has never seen me as happy as I am now that racing is in my life, but I know me. It is fulfilling a need to achieve. What happens when that need isn’t being met? Will I run off to the latest thing? Heh – run. Did I do that with music? I don’t think so, simply because I was too ignorant to realize all the ways music benefits me until, ironically, I began racing.

The fact that I am an advanced musician brings with it certain pressure that I am still working to relieve. While with racing, I push myself to achieve and grow, with music I push myself to not only achieve and grow but also be exceptional. Anything less than pristine performance is difficult for me to see as worth having. I know it is highly unlikely that I will attach my self-worth to being an athlete, but music has played such a huge part in my life that when I feel I’m not doing well as a musician, I’m not doing well period.

I guess what’s great about racing is that I allow myself to suck acknowledge my shortcomings without beating myself up because I know I am a beginner. A wise person would apply that lesson to other parts of her life – shouldn’t I acknowledge my shortcomings as a musician and just keep growing and enjoying? One can only hope, pray, and play.


Dear God, Please. Enough with the Neighbors.


INFJ all day! (If you’re not sure why I’m using seemingly random letters and/or are curious about your own personality type, learn more about Myers-Briggs Typology here). I had to smile when 3M, someone with whom I share a lot, sent the above sentiment to me. I tell people often that one of the reasons I work in elementary education is because I am a lot more patient with the foolishness of children than that of people I believe should know better. I spend 10-12 hours a day giving of myself emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, pedagogically – you name it, I’m giving it. It’s hard for me to picture myself in a situation that would make me happier than this but dammit it is tiring. My time away from work is limited, so why would I choose to spend time with people who can’t act?

But they’re everywhere.

On the road. In meetings. At the supermarket. In church. I can’t escape the people. I understand perfectly well that when someone is acting out it usually has nothing to do with me. In fact, when I was in school learning about the fascinating machinations and tendencies of students, one of the topics most discussed was redirection of behavior. If a kid is not doing what s(he) is supposed to, it’s your job to figure out what it is s(he) needs to focus. As a teacher, I delight in helping students get the knowledge they need. But a whole lot of these jokers want me to work off the clock.

Quite frankly, I like to minimize the amount of people with whom I must deal. Whenever I receive a friend request on Facebook, my first thought is – who the hell is this and what does s(he) want from me? I tend to take a guilty until proven innocent approach with people. I’d rather risk missing out on someone amazing, as I figure I have plenty of wonderful people in my life. I’m good, thanks.

But THIS. The preface to the parable of the Good Samaritan:

25 An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”26 Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”27 The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”28 Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”29 But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?” (Luke 10:25-20 CEV)

Clearly, I’m an expert in the Law of Moses, ’cause that’s my feeling, y’all. Who are my neighbors.



Dear Lord, seriously. I am not sure what is worse – knowing that these neighbors need help or that they could help me. We’re so bloody relational and interdependent and I’m not gonna lie, it tires me out. I guess what I’m saying is that as much as the initial sentiment appeals to me, I can’t choose my neighbors. I don’t think I have to purposely be close to people who are trying to bring me down, but maybe I should be more open to the fact that loving my neighbor is the best way for me to grow.

Dammit. I mean, Amen.

She Said Yes! Oh wait, I’m a commitment-phobe. Dammit! Race Report

I can’t write about how this race went before I write about another. Last month at a 10k in Sarasota, I saw her at the finish. “I know that chick! She trains with my boot camp.” I went up to her and said hi and we started talking about running and upcoming plans. Not surprisingly, as my boot camp coach is a professional arm twister, she and I were doing the same race and distance in a month. I hesitated, then I decided to just go for it.

“Can I run it with you? Will you help me PR?”

I told her my 10k time, my previous 8k time, and you guessed it, she said yes! “We’re gonna have to run about a 9:45 min/mile to do it,” she says. “Okay!” I replied cheerily. We parted ways and I skipped off to my car. Birds were chirping and all that cliche crap.

What. Did. I. Just. Do.

If that reaction surprises you, read this. Also, this. If you’re already familiar with my neuroses, please continue.

Not gonna lie – it was nice wondering if I would make it to the finish line of St. Anthony’s. It gave me less time to worry about potentially disappointing someone or looking like a fool. Life > Ego every time. Since that race ended like this,


my ego took center stage.

Race day arrives and now I am nervous for an entirely different reason. I saw her in the parking lot almost as soon as I arrived. “Hi!” We walked together toward our tent where we met about 180 of our closest friends. She asked me if I was excited and I pretended. Y’all already know, hah! I confessed that I was nervous, but she said I would be great. “You don’t know me!” I thought to myself. Onward.

The Start

“Okay God. We’re not racing for that long today – just one leg. Imma need you for about 50 minutes and then – well, Imma need you for other stuff after that but let’s just get through this first. Amen.”

“Joanie.” She brought me out of my intense thought/panic/prayer. “You look nervous.” “I know!” I replied. “I don’t want to disappoint you!” “Me? Forget about me – what about you?” I knew she was right. “Okay. But what happens on the course stays on the course,” I answered.

The Race

I started my watch as I crossed the timing mat. I decided then that I wasn’t going to look at my watch unless it was screaming at me that my heart rate was too high. I trusted her to lead me to my goal. “Joan. You can’t punk out. Just keep her close and you’ll be good.” And keep her close, I did.

Then they came. The hills.

I had done the 5k course of Miles For Moffitt last year but I had not remembered it being quite so hilly. I just remember being 10 pounds lighter than I had been for my first 5k and just prancing through the 3.1 miles to my first PR that wasn’t from a virgin distance. Good times. But daaaaaaaamn I was feeling it today! “Joan you ain’t no punk! It will be over in uh. 3 miles. Then 2 miles. This is just 20 more minutes of your life.” Meanwhile, she’s telling me I’m doing great. We had agreed to walk through the water stops and every time I saw one – even from a distance – I felt relieved. I would take even a *tiny* bit of respite. I wish I were kidding, but I even thought to myself, “if I don’t PR I’m gonna be mad that I can’t blog about it! Keep. Going.”

We arrive at mile 4 and I think okay, almost there. I got ticked off by a volunteer who gave the most lame yay I’ve ever heard in my life. “Your ass is just standing there. Do better,” I thought. Saw the C.W. Young building and my mind drifted briefly to District 13. “I want to win this race! Focus!” “Is that the last turn ahead?” I asked. “It sure is!” She said cheerily. “Then we finish!”

The Finish

Tired as I was, I smiled and tried to look triumphant for the finish line paparazzi. I saw the time on the official race clock and raised a brow. I was unsure of the gap between my gun time as my chip time. We crossed and I gave her a hug. “Did we make it?”

“Not quite,” she replied.

I couldn’t help feeling a *little* bummed. I ran the hardest I could, after all.

But Wait! I ran the hardest I could. The music teacher was already changing her tune when she spoke. “So yeah, I didn’t want to tell you, but that was a really hard race to try to PR on. Not only is it relatively hilly but it starts late, so it is really humid. Plus, the course was a little long.” She showed me her Garmin, and indeed, it was a tad long. Examination of my own showed an even longer distance than hers.

Do I wish I PR’d? It would have been nice. Am I upset? Hell no! I feel great! Real talk? I won before I even started just for asking for help with a goal. I did my best in less than ideal conditions and with less than ideal nutrition (party on, birthday girl). Moreover, it turned out my thankfulness was returned! She told me she would have been tempted to run much more slowly than she could had I not asked her.

I guess I’m saying that the business regarding believing in yourself and taking risks that I spend 50+ hours a week sharing with students is true. Who. Knew. 😉

Thank you, Christine, for a wonderful day! I’m glad you were the first – I hope we can do it again, and I actually mean it! Yay!


IdenTitty (sic) Crisis – On Turning 29

Yaymen! God has blessed me with another year. I’m so excited and thankful that I can’t sleep! My first act of 29 was to register for my first marathon (by the way, check out my race calendar if you want to see what steps – literal and figurative – in faith I’m taking, hah!) and I’m AMPED.

I’ve got to say, though – I’m also a bit bewildered. And a little nervous. You see, this person who treats herself to races, as a birthday present no less, is brand new. When I say that I have a race coming up to anyone I know, s(he) acts like I am saying something super obvious. “Hey Joan, wanna hang out or do you have another race.” Apparently, this has become an integral part of my life. People call me a runner, or even more nuts, a triathlete! This is the girl who, when passing a store in Miami every day for three years called “Swim Bike Run” thought to herself, “oh, that’s nice. Something for everyone.” Even a year ago, when I decided I wanted a GPS watch I said, “there’s no way in hell I’m doing triathlon. Lemme just get the running watch.” Bad call.



My mother jokes that the picture above represents one of my bigger (smaller?) physical changes since I began racing. “Hahaha your chest used to be the first thing that entered the room. Now you all come together.” Thanks for that, Mom. Clearly, things are different and it’s WEIRD. The girls have served as a pretty solid way to pick me out of a lineup and they ran away with – well, me.

It makes sense that those to whom I’ve been close for some time would take note of the changes, and I’m thankful that they are celebrating with me. In contrast, those who have met me recently seem to take note of something entirely different.

“You’re always so happy.”
“You have such a great attitude.”
“Your perspective is so healthy.”


For the 2014 Lenten season, I chose to give up negative self-talk as opposed to something material. This should indicate just how much it was a part of my life as it was quite a struggle for me to give up talking mess about myself. I discovered then just how horrible I was being to myself just 1 day into Lent when I was playing Chopin and having fun. “Why are you enjoying this music? You haven’t earned it!” What the hell?! Who would say that to anyone? I quickly realized that I had to alter my choice of not saying anything negative into being positive, but skeptical Lady J had to find a reason to do so. I came to the conclusion that talking down to myself was indulgent, in that it gave me an excuse not to fully use the gifts with which God has blessed me. If I suck as much as I say, I can’t possibly do the tasks given to me. I was scared of God knows what. Wait, no, I know! Being good enough. By what standard? Uh. That, I truly didn’t know.

Then it hit me. If God gave His son for the world – for me – I must be kind of a big deal. So is everyone else. Best part of a realization like that? Now when I encourage people – loved ones or colleagues or acquaintances – I speak with greater authority. I’ve never been a disingenuous person, but because I now believe the same things for myself, I believe it has more impact. People are taking notice of my positivity and that means the world to me.


While I can’t say I no longer struggle with feelings of inadequacy (I mean, geez, are the girls too small now?), I am loving the path toward inner peace that God is bringing me with added years. I look forward to learning and growing more than I ever have, and for that I hope to eternally show my thankfulness.

I can only conclude that my negativity must have been stored in my chest.

I’m a 5 year old hypocrite. Equally adorable, but still.

Not too long ago, I had playground duty at work. I stationed myself by the hula hoops and observed kindergarteners release some much needed energy. N.B. – anyone who doesn’t believe in original sin has never had playground duty. But I digress. Some of my babies are hooping geniuses. There was one girl having a conversation with another like nothing was revolving around her waist. All of them were begging for attention from me or from each other to watch how awesomely they hooped.

Then came the boy who lives inside my head.

“Hey! Look at me, I’ve almost got it!” Indeed, he was coming close to be able to hula hoop. He just needed some help. “Why don’t you ask one of your friends for help?” I suggested. “That’s okay, I’ve almost got it.” I watched him struggle a few more times, put the hula hoop down, and walk away.

“Damn,” I thought to myself. “What a shame! He’s missing an opportunity to refine a skill in which he’s interested, get closer to some of his friends, or maybe even make new ones. Instead, he’s walking away with his head down, saddened that he can’t hula hoop yet.”

I didn’t think I would see my entire training season summed up in 2 minutes. Way to go, kid.

The groups with which I associate myself (see, not even comfortable saying ‘belong to’) have some really awesome, capable, talented athletes. Some of them even are very kind people probably worth getting to know even better. A great way to grow as an athlete and likely as a person would be to train with them.

Nah. I’d rather train alone, miss out on the bonding opportunity, and improve at a much slower rate than be reminded that EVERYONE I KNOW IS BETTER THAN I AM. I am not a particularly strong swimmer, cyclist, or runner. It kills me to think that I wouldn’t be contributing anything to the group – only sucking up resources and time.

“But Joan! Even if it’s true, which it probably isn’t, you can encourage others in a way only you can do!” Blah blah blah. Someone else can do that too! No lie, I was the last person of both of the above-mentioned groups to finish at the race last weekend. While it was cool to have people cheering for me, I don’t want to be reminded that I’m the slow one. As much as I love hugs, there is a big part of me that would have rather been greeted by silence at the finish line.

Hey, look, it’s a picture of my situation:


Above, you see an illustration of Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Hula fail and I live in the purple. Everyone I know lives in the light green. My tri coach comes to visit me in the center. My decision to train alone is supported by well-researched developmental psychology, y’all.

I know I should do better. I’ll let you know if I do.


Joan’sAugusta70.3TrainingPlan.docx – Protecting My Relationship from Others

As I said in my previous post, fitness and I have a good thing going. I am doing my best to not sabotage it. I think it would be pretty paranoid of me to think that other people want to sabotage it solely for the sake of bringing me down. Quite frankly, I am too much of a cynic to believe that people care about those around them that much.

That being said, I strongly believe that people need to feel that they are living right, whether they are or not. Humans will go to great lengths to justify their choices. Generally, the easiest way to do so is to judge the choices of others. Since the beginning of my journey, I’ve noticed that people who do this fit into one of two categories.


1. People who wish they had the strength to take a risk

Let’s get this out of the way first – I do not think I am better than anyone else. I believe some of the choices I’ve made have put me in a good place. I humbly walk for I know that it is God who empowers me to make good choices for my life. I am fully aware that it is only He who stands between me and all the crap that earthly life has to offer. There is no day that I don’t need His grace to make a single good decision. Full stop.

All right, that’s done. This is America. Damn near everyone is on some diet. When I started my 21 day challenge in January 2013, I was doing my patriotic duty. It’s practically illegal to be an American woman without a body image problem. Fast forward to May 2014 and now I appear to be on the other side of that problem to many. I cannot emphasize appear enough. I’ve maintained that because I’ve been at a healthy weight twice before and gained it back both times, I feel like I’m a big girl who happens to be fit at the moment. More on that later.

I think the heart of this issue is one of belonging. We all have a need to feel that we belong somewhere. I no longer consider myself to be a member of the Women’s Dieting And Complaining About Myself Constantly club. While I know that my company is missed (I am a good time, after all), I know that most negative sentiment comes from the fact that others want to renounce their membership in the WDACAMC. The only way to do it is to be good to yourself – which is really scary if you are not used to doing so. Yeah, people are lazy and it takes real planning to eat right and exercise. I can only speak to my personal experience, but it wasn’t until recently that I believed that I am worth taking care of because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I love myself by taking care of my body and the world is a lot brighter. My circumstance didn’t change. I did. Rock on.

It is much easier for me to identify with people calling me skinny and saying they can’t stand me because I’ve been there. I’ve wondered how people get fit and it seemed like magic. So I’ve got much more patience for type 1 than for this:

2. People who make the right decisions with the wrong motivation, or who think everyone should think like they do

But Lady J, you ask. Who are you to determine whether someone’s motivation is right or wrong? Well, I actually think it’s pretty simple. If you don’t seem to be at peace, there’s likely a good reason for it. Either someone is tormenting you or you are tormenting yourself. My therapist mom says it best – hurt people hurt people.

I think the people who had finished long before I did at St. Anthony’s last week and remarked that I had entirely too much energy fall into this category. Why on earth would you open your mouth and say that someone shouldn’t be smiling so much? Oh, I know! Because you’re a jackass caught off guard by a reaction to which you are not accustomed. I was ready to ask them how their races went and they totally were acting like they didn’t just accomplish something awesome. I get it – if something didn’t go as well as you had hoped, you allow yourself to wallow. But I don’t even know if that’s the case with these jokers because the first thing out of their mouths was “you didn’t work hard enough.” Followed by the obligatory ‘j/k’, of course. I can’t stand when people say jerky stuff and then don’t have the ovaries to stand by it, then attempt to soften it with pretending they were joking. If you’re a jackass learning and growing human being, be yourself.

There are athletes who expect to podium each race. There are athletes who aspire to do so some day. Meanwhile, this girl is pleased to conquer her fears and discover all she is capable of when she trusts God. One would think there is room for all of us – Lord knows I’m only taking up space in the back, hah! Maybe triathlon is like school and it’s more fun in the back? Who knows. All I know is that I value my relationship way too much to be brought down by ignorance.

I’m pleased to say that for once – I’m going to listen to God and protect myself. Make no mistake. My heart is in this.


Joan’sAugusta70.3TrainingPlan.docx – Protecting My Relationship from Myself

The relationship of which I speak is the new one I have with my spirit and body. It happened the way I hear many great romantic relationships occur – spontaneously and intensely, just as I was ready to give up. It has changed my life for the better in a manner that is difficult to miss if you knew me any time prior to January 2013. I have a renewed joy and confidence that once seemed out of reach. Who wouldn’t want to grow in a relationship like that? More races + more distance = more help. I’m no dummy. I asked my tri coach for a plan, and she obliged.

Regret ensues.


Why, you ask? It’s not as though I wasn’t used to swimming, biking, and running. All I had done was meet with her, tell her what I’m doing already, and then she wrote it down with added specifics. However, the more I looked it over, the more I freaked out. I received the plan on a Saturday, the plan was to start on a Monday, and I didn’t actually work out until Wednesday. I was supposed to work out twice and I believe I only worked out once. I had said that I was listening to my tired body, but in retrospect I stressed myself out so much from overthinking the plan that I lost sleep.  I was supposed to upload my training from my Garmin with myConnect. Nope. I was supposed to check in with my coach weekly. Hell no.

I can often be heard telling my students that if they haven’t prepared themselves, I understand why they freak out prior to a performance. St. Anthony’s was looming and I had done maybe – conservatively – half of the workouts she had prescribed for me. Nobody knows better than I do, yet I chose to sabotage myself mentally.

Classic fear of failure, y’all.

Race on April 27. I had my DNF story ready to go for the 28th – “Yeah, I had a plan and a great coach, but I didn’t follow the plan. Maybe next time I’ll have learned my lesson. Damn, damn, damn.” Now I’m on the other side, having completed the race, a bit curious as to what it could have been like had I trusted my training more.

I’m happy to say that I’m not beating myself up. I did show up on race day, finished with the time goal I had hoped for, and that is to be lauded. However, I am annoyed that I allowed my fear of failure to impact my decision making. It’s not as though I get half-priced plans for half-hearted effort. What the hell is failure in this context, anyway? If I had gone as hard as I could and didn’t finish, what would it have meant? Try again next race, no? Which is exactly what I’m doing anyway.

I am happy to say that this week I have completed all my workouts so far and am on track to complete what’s in store for the weekend! I’m less scared of Red Rocket and now have seen that I am a competent swimmer – I just have to do the work to continue improving.

I can’t say that I am rid of my fear of inadequacy. The idea of my best not being enough is simply terrifying. The only thing more terrifying is giving up all I have gained.

149 days to Augusta! Tee hee 🙂 ❤


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