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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‘Tis Payne Day!

Those who have been following along may remember that approximately a month ago, I vowed (errr, contemplated) an attempt at the David Payne Memorial Run this year.  Well, the time between that resolution and ‘go time’ has expeditiously dissipated, and it’s now mere hours (about two) until this dream / goal of mine becomes a reality.

In addition to July 23rd being a day of remembrance of my department’s fallen officers, it is a day that I will forever remember as being especially motivating to me.  Five years ago today, I wanted to be them.  When I saw the runners return after pushing their bodies, being torrentially rained on (coincidentally, it’s raining today too), and overcoming overall miserable conditions, I knew that I wanted to join them “one day.”  Well, “one day” is today.  (More about my perspective of said runners in the linked blog entry above).

For this year’s event, the run route has been changed.  The route is now 3.5 miles instead of the usual 7 or 8.  I think the change is an attempt to attract more participants since it’s the 30th anniversary of Payne’s EOW.  I overheard a colleague telling another that, “They’re only running to the park this year.”  “Only” is still 3.5 miles.  *An (insert any distance here) mile run doesn’t sound like a lot when you’re not doing the work.*  I know the route, and it’s a tough one despite the halving of the distance.  Despite a (forced) week off from training, I feel ready to take this on.

My best friend, Callie, will be doing this event with me.  She took the day off from her job to be by my side, and I think it’s partly because she knows how important it is to me.  Five years ago, I was not quite ready to make a lifestyle change, no matter how much like “them” I longed to be.  Fast forward five years, and I’ve come full circle.  I am now fit enough to join this run.  Many of the officers and civilians with whom I work have asked me this morning if I’m running today, and I can confidently say, “I sure am!”  Evidently, my weight loss and training efforts, as well as participation in other events (LETR), have not gone unnoticed.

My eyes brim with (joyful) tears each time I am asked if I’m running today because I’m being recognized . . . as able.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Aversion to April

I may be developing an aversion to the month of April, not the giraffe.  I find giraffes to be particularly delightful.  But I digress . . .

I took April 13th and 14th off from work with the intention of, for lack of better words, getting my shit together.  The getting my shit together umbrella was to include: start running again, get all the housework caught up, catch up on swap-bot swaps, return sendsomething.net mail, catch up on pen pal letters, get the grocery shopping done, etc.  So, what happened?  For the most part, I nailed it!  Thursday the 13th – Easter Sunday I achieved my Fitbit goal each day, the house looked as immaculate as it can during projects season, and I finished the perler portrait I created for my best friend.  I was also a snail mail creating machine.  And then . . . Monday happened . . .  dun dun dun (that is to be read to the tune of ominous music).

During the warmer months, I become far more active.  Therefore, I sweat considerably more.  So, I tried a new facial cleanser that would help combat all the wonderful side effects of sweating heavily.  Well, Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have got nothing on me (this is a Face/Off reference for all of you pop culture gurus).  The purifying cleanser, its accompanying renewing toner, and the repairing lotion caused a severe allergic reaction; my eyes were swollen closed for several days, and it essentially burned my face off.  My face is now as smooth as a brand new baby’s bum, but that is because my original face sloughed off throughout the week.  I missed the entire week of work because not only was I considerably hideous in appearance, my level of discomfort was . . . well, uncomfortable.  Throw in the side effects of a body pumped chock-full of Benadryl and Claritin . . . that was . . . not what I would consider a fantastic experience either.  SO, despite all of my efforts to become and remain physically active and productive, it was short lived.

Today is Sunday the 23rd, and I return to work tomorrow.  I was gung-ho for today because I fully intended to get some raking done and add some miles to my ASICS.  That was until the most recent mishap . . .

Just moments ago, my parents’ boxer, Gracie, got a case of what we have lovingly dubbed “the zoomies.”  Zoomies def: when a boxer runs and runs and runs, at full speed, in circles around you.  It’s what Gracie does, especially during spring, and it is normally quite manageable, but today, she strayed from the circular pattern and tugged so hard on her leash that  I was down before I even knew I was going down.  Nothing on my body is broken, and my face was not harmed, but I do have some lovely parting prizes just for playing.  On my left hand, my palm and pinky and ring fingers are . . . torn open.  My left elbow, right knee, ankles, and toes are scraped and bloody.  The grand prize, however, is my left leg.  From knee to shin is a compilation of scrapes, skinless patches, and bloodiness.  I shall be the proud owner of some bad-ass bruises in a matter of hours.

Now may be an appropriate time to begin concocting a fiblet about a roller derby  match gone awry.  I mean, getting these injuries from one of the gentlest, most loving dogs I have ever known is just the sort of irony that quite accurately depicts what it is like to be me, but let’s be honest . . . it makes for a rather anticlimactic story.  The point of this entire reminiscence with the past week and a half of my life?  No matter how “together” I get myself, and no matter how hard I work toward goals, small and large alike, these sorts of things constantly creep up, or in this case, ZOOM in.  So, I may not end up going running today because . . . well, OW.  But I’m not discouraged.  Once I picked myself up off the pavement and took an inventory of all of my still fully intact bones, I laughed!  I laughed and laughed and laughed . . . because this is what it is like to be me, and after 32 years, it’s better to accept that this is just the way it is and likely always will be.

Life can only knock me down, but it cannot hold me down.  It is up to me to get back up. 🙂

SO, perhaps a slow, gentle walk with my own dog is in the near future.  I can still get out there, I just need to modify my original intentions.  🙂