Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Whether I know you in person or not, I am proud of you, even if only for trying.  I concentrate on being supportive, motivating, and encouraging to others, as well as genuinely happy for others’ accomplishments.  I was once so very guilty of comparing myself with others, and I strive today to not do so.  This is not to suggest that I never engage in this comparative behavior, because I do, and that is clear in many of my other written ramblings, but it is something that I continually work to correct in myself.  Comparison is a damaging habit, not only to your own well-being, but it can also potentially leave a ding in the contentment of the other individual (the victim of your analogy).  Until recently, just yesterday in fact, I was unaware that I was the object of comparison; when this tidbit came to light, it irked me, and here is why . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat with wonder, distressed that I was not going to provide further explanation?)

Yesterday, a woman with whom I work, I will call her C, had just returned from a walk outside at about the same time that I was making my way back to my office from my Monday gym session.  (Word on the street is, you should never skip a Monday.  Challenge accepted; I ran 7 miles.  BOOM!).  C happily reported that she was already at her 10,000 steps for the day, and Leola stated that she (C) and Miss Amy are putting her (Leola) to shame (I’m “Miss Amy,” btw).  C proceeded to state that I likely get 20,000 steps a day, and Leola reiterated that we are working on two different journeys and reminded her that I am training for a half marathon.  C then indicated that it is easy for me because I am 20 years younger than she is, and that is what annoyed me.

Why undermine my drive, my hard work, and my commitment?  On days that I get 20,000 steps, it’s because I push myself and then I push myself harder and then I push myself just a little bit more.  Do not diminish another’s progress in order to build yourself up.  If you are unhappy with 10,000 steps, then push yourself to take more steps.  If you feel unfulfilled with your work in the day, then do more work.  I may be 20 years younger than C, but there was once a day when running 7 miles seemed like merely a pipe dream.  Several years ago, I was still 20 years younger than C, and running even .25 miles nonstop was an immense accomplishment.  Although I was left feeling unfulfilled with that .25 after a while, I did not compare myself with someone who could run longer, nor did I encapsulate their abilities: he’s younger than I am, she has more time than I do, he has a more natural athletic ability, and so on and so forth.  The excuses for not performing as well as somebody else are endless, but it should not matter how you perform compared with another.  There is a lot of truth to the quip, “Compete with yourself, not with others.”

So, since 2015-ish, I have been counting calories, going to the gym, running, running, running, and running some more, drinking more water, working on my food related choices and behaviors, pushing myself . . . In other words, I work damn hard, so. damn. hard.  So, I do not take kindly to my weight loss or my step count being credited to my age.  I can only assume that C is not happy with where she is at, but that did not give her an appropriate cause to minimize me, more specifically, where I am at in my own journey.  For the record, there is an 80-ish year old man (that is 50+ years older than I am) who absolutely smokes me every year at the Safe Voices 5K.  So, you see, C, MY age has little to do with YOUR performance.

I am well aware that soul searching is burdensome and that it is painful to be truthful, particularly when we feel that we are falling short and have to admit to ourselves that yeah, this one is on me.  I sat on this encounter all of yesterday afternoon and evening before writing it up this morning; I thought it of the utmost importance to analyze why this bothered me so.  Why am I so sensitive to this remark?  Am I justified in my feels?  What I’ve concluded is that . . . I am justified to feel any sort of way that I want to about it.  My feelings are my own, and they are valid whether someone else “gets” them or not.  However, I usually do make sure that my perspectives aren’t fueled by hanger, and in this case, they most definitely were not.  I was (am) sensitive to her remark for exactly the reasons that I outlined: I work hard, and I did not appreciate my hard work being surmised that it is easy because I am 33.

So, I urge one and all to just . . . STOP.  Stop comparing yourself with others for any reason . . . whether it’s a number on the scale, a distance you’ve run, the size of your residence, the make and model of your car, your marital status, your parental status, the brand of your clothes, your level of education . . . just STOP.  Instead, engage in self-reflection, and keep it just that: SELF-reflection.  When I began to self-reflect as a means to counteract my nature to compare, compare, compare, I learned several key points, and here they are . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat thinking that I was not going to share them with you?)

  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • I am exactly where I am meant to be, and I have two options while I am here:
    • a) be happy where I am while I work on bettering my situation and / or myself
    • b) be miserable.  *The latter will assist me in the accomplishment of . . . being miserable.
  • Sometimes, someone else just wants it more.
  • A lot of work remains ahead of me.
    • Although I fully understand that when I compare myself with others, I am allowing my joy to be thieved, I have yet to learn how to keep others from pirating my joy.

 

*Note(s):

  • I referred to C as such because her first name begins with a C; this letter selection was not to imply derogatory name calling.
  • Most days, I do not achieve 20,000 steps.  So, C’s comparison is based solely on her own assumption.
  • Larceny is a Part 1 crime.
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Goals: JDD / FISHMO

WARNING: There will be naughty words; they will be in the FISHMO portion of this entry.  Where that will end up being, I do not know, but you’ve been warned!

Beach to Beacon.  Beach to mother effing Beacon.  (That’s not where it gets naughty, BTW) . . . or should I say BTB?  Haaayyyyooooooo.  So, Beach to Beacon is kind of a big deal.  (I stole some info. from one of the utmost reliable interweb resources (Wikipedia), and it’s below should you want to read about it).

The Beach to Beacon 10K is a 10-kilometer (6.2 mi) road running event that takes place along the coastline of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It begins at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park.

Starting out as mainly a local event, athletes from all over the U.S. and various parts of the world now participate in the annual event, including some world-class distance runners, including Olympic Marathon Silver medalists Catherine Ndereba and Meb Keflezighi, as well as Chicago Marathon winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. It was founded by U.S. women’s marathon runner Joan Benoit Samuelson, who in 1984, won the first ever women’s Olympic marathon. 1998 was the first year that the event was held and over 3000 runners participated in the race. The event was sponsored by then People’s Heritage Bank, which changed parent companies. Now the event is formally known as the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k. 

Beach to Beacon now draws approximately 6,000 runners from all across the nation.  Actually, runners from all around the world travel to Maine for this race.  I could be wrong, but I am fairly certain that 2018’s event sold out in approximately 45 minutes.  45 minutes to sell 4,000ish spots!  (Cape Elizabeth residents are permitted to register the day before B2B opens for all, and some of the 6,000ish spots are saved for a lottery).  You’re lucky!  You know why you’re lucky?  Because you kinda sorta know someone who got a spot.  Yeah, ME!

So, B2B, according to their official website, is in 3 days, 15 hours, and 5 minutes at the time of this writing (13:06hrs on 07/31/2018).  I am filled with various feels . . .

First, I am proud.  I am proud because I am trying something completely and utterly out of my comfort zone.  I’ve run a 10K before but not one so official.  I have to travel to a congested, touristy area that I have never been to before, and the crowd alone will be enough to send my anxiety into overdrive.  6,000+ runners, oodles volunteers, and gaggles of spectators.  That’s a lot of people, and at about an ounce of anxiety per person, yeah, that’s quite a bit of anxiousness all bottled up inside of me.

Second, I’m nervous.  It is going to be humid as humid can be on Saturday, and I am one who struggles with heat and especially humidity.  I was (somewhat) accepting of this weather factoid until the comfort of my personal hydration system was ripped from my tightly clenched phalanges.  I have no doubt that there are water stations along the 10K, but the fact remains that one of my comforts has been taken from me and is now null and void.

Third, I’m self-doubtful.  From my perspective, I see 5,999 badass runners, and then there’s me.  This is just my self-doubt kicking in, and as we know from many, many entries back, these are thoughts I entertain before any event that I do, big or small.

Fourth, I’m (already) tired.  In order to be at one of the shuttle bus stations by 0600hrs, I need to leave my house by 0400hrs.  To leave by 0400hrs, I need to wake up between 0230 and 0300hrs.  However, this is the present-time Amy who isn’t all hopped up on the day-of excitement and adrenaline.  I know when my alarm trills bright (or lack thereof) and early on Saturday, I will wake up without much effort – I always do.

Lastly, I’m determined!  When the self-doubt creeps in, when the threat of heat stroke enters my brain, when I feel pre-tired, I simply do one thing to combat it all . . . I remember.

I remember all of the years that I felt:

  • not ready
  • not good enough
  • too slow
  • too big
  • too scared
  • too nervous
  • too anxious

Most of all, I remember how I felt last year, at this time, when I watched the news and saw all of the runners at the start line.  I remember watching the piece about the twenty-three year old runner who collapsed, due to heat stroke, right before the finish line and another runner picked him up and helped him finish.  I remember how disappointed I was in myself that I didn’t even . . . TRY.

So, despite how unprepared I feel right now, how hot, sweaty, sore, and tired I will be, I am going to try.  Doing just that puts me leaps and bounds ahead of where I was at, mentally and physically, in August of 2017.  I have already given myself permission to walk a few steps if / as I need to.  I’m not in it the win it; honestly, I never do an event with the intent to place.  I have very, very basic goals:

  • just don’t die (JDD)
  • just finish
  • think FISHMO

Ahh, the FISHMO . . .

The FISHMO state of mind:

Fuck it!  Shit happens, move on.

And as long as I simply try . . . it doesn’t get much more FISHMO than that.

. . . 3 days, 18 hours, 4 minutes.

 

Book Review: Full Tilt

On occasion, I will take the time to write a book review on my Goodreads account, but what better way  to share my thoughts, opinions, cheers, and jeers (especially with those you do not follow me on Goodreads) than via the additional inclusion of my reviews within my blog?  Mind you, I love reading.  However, I read for pleasure and to ride the high of the pure joy reading delivers to my life.  My reviews will never be an analysis of the plot, subplot, etc.  I will not be the one to point out those so subtle metaphors that make you later say to yourself, “Ohhhhh, NOW I get it!”  I’m an analyst by profession, and in my personal life, I’m a textbook over-thinker and analyzer; reading allows me to escape those traits and be anything but.  SO, my reviews are not deep, they are not profound, but they’re (possibly?) entertaining.

So, without further adieu . . . 


 

full-tilt-9781416997481_hr.jpg

I bought this book for $1.00 at a thrift store based on its cover and its relatively small size alone. Sometimes, I enjoy what appears to be a, what I call a “burner” book or a “palate cleanser” book. These books are typically a quick read between the book I’ve finished and the next one on my I really, really, REALLY want to read list. *I know I’ve explained this in many of my reviews, but if you’re just tuning in and / or don’t regularly follow my thoughts and / or opinions, I figured I’d define it again; apologies to anyone this seems repetitious to.*

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The writing style alone had me hooked nearly immediately. Admittedly, at first I was suspect because the main character / narrator is a 16YO boy, and I did think to myself ‘what kid speaks like this!?’ The answer came pretty quickly on, and I appreciated the author’s awareness that yeah, some people will get hung up on this kid’s dialogue and thought process. Essentially, Blake is super smart and of the intellectual type; at 16YOA, he has the opportunity to attend Columbia on a scholarship; he’s no dumb dumb! So, after this tidbit of info., the dialogue made sense, and all was right again in my reading nook / world.

I loved the plot line of the carnival rides being extracted from the characters’ deepest fears, thus forcing them (the fears) to be faced and conquered. It’s essentially a plight of “do or die” / “fight or flight” at its finest. SO, for reals, don’t judge a book by its cover. I don’t know if I am so inclined to intentionally seek out more of this author’s books, but if they were gifted to me or I stumbled upon another in a thrift store find, I think I’d give it a (tilt-a)-whirl. See what I did there!?

Look At Me, I’m Sandra B.*

*Sung to the tune of Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee, the catchy Stockard Channing ditty from 1978’s Grease.*

However, the Sandra who I know and am fond of, Sandra B., is likely not “lousy with virginity” considering that she has five adult children and several grandbabies, but I digress . . .

Sandra B., who I have now known for nearly five years, is a woman I not only respect and appreciate, but I admire her and aspire to be like her in one particular way.  Sandy is the epitome of the expression:

fountain

Sandy is a REAL runner!  <~~BTW, this is not me downplaying my abilities, but I am describing her this way to provide some insight into my perspective and image of her.  Sandy has been running for years and years and years; a “leisurely” eight-ish miles is how she begins most days, and I doubt she even breaks a sweat, tbh.  As seasoned and capable a runner as she is, from day one, Sandra B. has been one of my supporters.  When running 1/4 mile non stop was an accomplishment, when I finished my first 5k, even though I walked most of it, and when I did my first Torch Run and had to ride part of the way in the struggle bus, Sandy was supportive, encouraging, and motivating.  When I entered my first Dempsey Challenge 10K in 2016, I kept pace with Sandy and her sister for the first mile or so, and I use the term “kept pace with” loosely; when they finished long before me, they waited for me at the finish line.  When Sandy and I went running in the park together a few times last summer, during breaks, and the heat was so oppressive that I had to walk, she never once made me feel bad about myself, nor did she make me feel like I was holding her back.

Sandy is a force to be reckoned with as far as fitness and athleticism, but in addition to this, she is truly a model of empowerment.  I wish to and strive to be that person to others.  I doubt that Sandy envisions herself in the same manner that I visualize her, but I hypothesize that nobody sees themselves from the viewpoint of others.

Last week, while in my office, I overheard a colleague say that she didn’t want to go for a walk outside because it was torrentially raining.  I stuck my head out from my doorway and told her that I was going to go downstairs and use the gym if she wanted to join me.  She exclaimed, “No way!” and indicated that she can’t keep up with me; as of late, she’s been pushing herself harder and harder to get her 10k steps in before she goes home for the day, and I always give her an attaboy for her efforts.

Just this week, I received an email from my best friend, Callie, that reads, “You are the only reason I have been pushing myself.  If not for you, I would have been much lazier this summer 🙂 Glad to have you beside me :)!”

Holy shit!  I’m someone’s Sandy!

But Am I For Really Real?

A fleeting thought as I sit at my desk . . .

If I update my blog while I’m working, am I technically being paid to blog?  If so, does this make me a “real” blogger?

I have the tendency to downplay every. single. thing. I do or am involved in, whether it’s professionally, athletically, or even pertaining to my hobbies.  I delineate a “real” blogger as an individual who is either paid to write or has a large following.  I consider and describe myself as an amateur blogger, which is accurate because:

noun

  1. a person who engages in a pursuit [ . . . ] on an unpaid basis.

adjective

  1. engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional.

 

However, does being a dilettante in a given element make the dabbler or their participation any less “real” in comparison with those who have garnered more experience?

When I am recognized for working at the police department, I am often asked if I’m an officer, and my response is typically, “I’m just a crime analyst.”  When I have spoken fondly of a colleague who is a fellow long distance runner, I have, on more than one occasion, stated, “But Sandy’s a real runner.”

I have a habit of devaluing myself; it is a behavior that I regularly exhibit, but I have recently begun to notice just how prominent this trait is.  During an afternoon stroll with Leola, a co-worker who I have befriended over the years, I discussed with her exactly what I have drafted above.  “That’s a character flaw.  You don’t have many, but that’s one of them.  You can quote me in your blog.”

So, today marks the day that I attempt to alter the impression of myself I have left on . . . ME.  I’m a real blogger.  I’m a real runner.  I’m not just anything.  I’m real because I’m present, I’m trying, I’m doing.

download

 

Soul searching is onerous.

Mainely A Stereotype

I reside in a small town.  Not only do I live in a small town, I live in THE stereotypical small town.  Think: Mayberry combined with Cheers (yeah, the bar) ’cause my residential township is quaint, peaceful, and the locals know everybody’s name (exception: seasonal tourists, but many of the locals are nosy / social so they know the tourists’ names too!).  So, for the sake of my privacy, all the while giving my home a name, I shall refer to this quaint land of familiarity as Cheersberry . . .  or Maycheers . . .  or . . .  ORRRRR . . . I will use these interchangeably.

I have various run routes established.  There’s one route that I like to do either very early in the morning or later in the evening because 1.5 miles in, I reach a very small beach, and to witness the sunrise or sunset there is breathtakingly beautiful.  Plus, there’s the added bonus that if it’s a wicked hot day, one can jump in the lake for a little swim!  The picture I have does not depict the rise or set of the sun, but it’s still a glorious view, even at midday.  Also along this route are fellow Cheersberry residents who have become familiar with me and will oftentimes whoop words of encouragement or offer me water.  The Friends on the 4th 5K is mapped along “downtown,” but there is a portion of the run that is residential; many people sit on their lawns to cheer and lightly spray runners with their garden hoses – this is my favorite!  The garden hose incidence is less frequent during one of my “regular” runs, one that isn’t a big to-do / event, which makes it even more special if it should so happen, and once in a while, it does.  Small town livin’ is the tops!  . . . at least for eight months of the year.

Narrows

Summer is now in full swing, and the tourists have come from near and far!  Adding to the small town stereotype, the locals are not always so fond of the tourists, and by this, I mean I am not so fond of the tourists.  The environment changes when the out-of-towners flock to Maycheers in gaggles.  Just last week, I was pushed around and rudely cut in front of at the farm stand, and all of the commotion was caused by non locals.  When running, the out of state cars do not move over to share the road; in the last few days alone, my Radin and I have had several close calls with vehicular modes of transportation.

Yearly, I am prepared for the sudden change in environment at the grocery store and other shopping venues.  What is typically a friendly and patient setting becomes a climate of superiority and brouhaha.  When it’s the off-season, patrons of the grocery store chatter with one another as they wait in line, say “excuse me” if they need to reach something that is in another’s personal space, and offer to help those who may need helping.  Now?  Now, it’s a free for all.  Overall, the from-awayers are impatient, crashing their shopping carts into others because they’re ceaselessly using their cell phones, they loudly insinuate and make certain that we, the townies, are aware that their vacation time is valuable and that they cannot be bothered to wait, and the number of people that aggressively invade personal space is utterly galling.  My intent is not to generalize because I am certain that there are just as many delightful vacationers in our area, but I’m just indicating that the poor behavior is noticed.  I can adjust to the sudden influx of strong personalities, but what I tend to have difficulty acclimating to are nightly fireworks and unleashed dogs.

I love fireworks, but I much prefer them when they are appropriate.

  • Q: So, when are they appropriate?
  • A: Holidays such as the 4th of July or New Year’s, and on Friday or Saturday nights should the desire be to launch the works of fire just for the pure sake of doing so.

I wish beyond all measure that my town ordinance did not change, that fireworks were still banned and illegal.  The nightly fireworks wreak havoc for the wildlife, not to mention the pets who are terrified of the loud noises and riddled with anxiety over the ruckus.  *I am not a parent, other than fur babies, but I imagine that it is exceedingly arduous for those with babies, toddlers, and young children.*  The late night annoyances are also not appreciated by those of us who get up at 0400.  I understand that many of the temporary residents are on vacation, and I acknowledge that they should enjoy their vacation time, their relaxation time but not at the expense of those who live here full-time, year-round.  Cheerberry is not The City That Never Sleeps; we sleep . . . or at least, we used to.  I’m not requesting that the fireworks and drunken carousing cease altogether, I just ask for the commotion to wrap up at a sensible time.

Finally, leash your dogs!  How do I know that the offenders of the leash laws are out-of-towners’ dogs?  Just like with the humans, the locals, especially those of us who are actively outside and running about the town, have familiarly with the local yokel puppers.  Sunday evening, I took Radin for a long walk.  *Radin and I are not able to run together because we are equally clumsy and end up in calamitous, though comical, conundrums.  So, when Radin accompanies me, it’s for the slower paced meanderings.*  About a mile from home, during our return expedition, an unleashed dog bolted toward us.  I have no doubt that this dog was friendly, but my Radin and I were recently attacked by an unleashed, not-so-friendly dog, in our own yard.  It is fair to assert that Radin and I are now a little suspicious and mistrustful of foreign dogs that come darting at us.  Stranger danger is real, folks!  I should note that Radin does not get along remarkably well with other dogs as a rule, and because I know this about him, he is always harnessed, leashed, and kept close to me.

During our aforementioned adventure, I pulled Radin close to me and commanded him to stand between my legs.  Because my thighs are much stronger than my arms, I know that I can hold him still and protect him that way.  (Hey, I’ve been credited with saving his life during our attack, so I know that I could (and would) do so again).  We began to simultaneously walk backwards, taking slow and steady steps, but the dog continued to dart toward us.  To my horror, the unleashed dog scampered into the road and into oncoming traffic.  Now, I don’t want problems to arise between this dog and my own, but I also don’t want to see harm befall this visiting dog.  I’m typically the person pulling over and rescuing dogs (and cats and turtles and whatever else I find in the road that needs an assist).  Meanwhile, drivers are annoyed because traffic is slow going – Radin and I were nearly hit by two or three vehicles that refused to move over!  Out of approximately seven passing motorists, only one man stopped to help us.  Coincidentally, the other six vehicles had out of state and out of country (Canada) registration plates, respectively.  The man who stopped to help me, he was a Mainer.  Summer folks, enjoy your stay in Vacationland, but please, consider the residents of your interim abode.

. . . I don’t want to be the stereotypical, vacationist hating, country bumpkin so please, do your part in not turning me into a stereotype . . . just sayin’.

Venom of the Greenery Variety

Before deciding upon Venom of the Greenery Variety as a title, I was also contemplating Bitch of an Itch.  Each are accurate.

I was born and raised in Maine, and I have never lived in another state.  Other than a brief stint of city living, I’ve lived the majority of my 33 years in small towns, enjoying the quiet and beauty of country living.  I’m not so country that I own dairy cows, nor do I drive a dusty and rusty pickup truck stereotypically depicted in most cowboy-esque twangy country tunes.  However, I do live rurally, surrounded by nature and woodland creatures; it is abnormal to not see deer or turkeys in the yard, and just last night, there was a fox hanging out under one of my ancient and ginormous oak trees.

It is most surprising then, that for the first time in 33.5 years of life, I’ve recently encountered my very first bout with poison ivy or poison oak or poison sumac; whatever it is, it’s poisonous.  What began as a dot on my neck Thursday, became a line by Friday. On Monday morning, I was peppered in it: neck, chest, arms, legs, wrists, and hands.  Now, just because I live near the woods does not imply that I spend a lot of time in the boscage.  In fact, this is the summer that I have devoted to spending more time out of doors with the purpose of becoming more accustomed to the heat and humidity, and also because I find most aspects of nature to be beautiful, and I miss out on much of that allurement by spending the majority of my time inside.

Though I have spent more time outside this summer, I know for certain that I have not traipsed through the venomous greenery.  So, just how did I get the ivy of the poison variety?  Radin.  Radin gave me poison ivy; it is the only feasible explanation.  Oh, how I do wish my unfortunate tale has an exciting backstory, but alas, it does not.  I got poison ivy from my dog.  However, in all of its lackluster, the true story maintains that I’m “that person.”

I’m “that person” who, if it’s going to happen to someone, it’s going to happen to me.  Over the course of the last year or so, I have been dealt an absurd hand of cards:

  • An allergic reaction to facial cleanser that resulted in my eyes being swollen closed for the better part of a week or more.
  • A tumble on the pavement when my parents’ boxer, Gracie, caught a bout of the zoomies.
    • Q: What was in it for me?
    • A: Battered and bruised bones and scrapes and skinless patches.
  • A freak and unprecedented fainting spell whereby I hit my noggin and was left with a concussion, which I still face symptoms from to this day.
  • And now, bitchin’ itchin’.

Probably the most disappointing, other than the itch and pain and overall frustration, is that I had to opt out of the 4th of July 5K I had been so looking forward to running – I had such an awesome red, white, and blue tutu picked out for the event!  However, the rational Amy concluded that the 98 degree weather, coupled with the humidity and my streaming, salty sweat (A+ for alliteration!), would make me feel even worse and allow the rash to spread even more.  I’m almost finished with my Prednisone, and the poison laced patches are now dry so I think I can start to exercise vigorously again.

I have not had a decent run or workout since last Thursday, and while lying in bed, doped up on Benadryl, I remembered that the David Payne Memorial Run (7.2 miles) is July 23rd, and Beach to Beacon (10K) is August 4th.  I am now in full blown panic mode as it’s my modus operandi to doubt my ability, especially when I’ve been forced to slow down in my training.

It’s amazing the havoc a single week down-and-out can wreak on one’s confidence.