Chutzpa! (It’s a Fun Word, and I Used It In a Sentence)

Q:  Oh, my dear, neglected blog, will you ever forgive me for temporarily abandoning you?

A: YES ’cause I don’t really give a shit that you’ve been away, but now that you’re back . . . Hey, girl!  Whatcha been up to?


I have the tendency, as a human being, to be what is best described as . . . overzealous.  I have very little free time as it is, and I choose to fill what free time I do have with . . . what is best described as . . . a lot.  In the past few months, I have gained traction at becoming even further behind with responding to pen pal letters.  In fact, I have not written a response letter since April.  I have zero traveling postcards via Postcrossing.  I have not picked up my knitting needles, flute, or guitar.  I have read less books in 2018 than in past years, and I have been writing only half-hearted (Goodreads) reviews, if I write one at all.  My gym time has dwindled, and I have not written, what I would consider a decent blog entry, in months.  Recently (recently as in just a handful of hours ago), I gave myself permission to give up some control.  Let me explain . . .

I love swap-bot; I run several groups, and I host a lot of swaps within said groups.  In addition to those swaps, I also host public swaps.  Without getting too in depth and too involved in the swap-bot jargon, being a founder and a host takes A LOT of work.  Frankly, if it doesn’t take a lot of your time and energy, then you’re probably not doing it right.  There are exceptions, I’m sure, which is why I have written “‘probably’ not doing it right” (or at the very least, not to the best of your ability).  Swap-bot, because I manage many groups and many swaps, and because I take deadlines very seriously, has been taking up the majority of my limited time.  I love devoting time to putting together quality swaps and creating happy mail, sending RAKs, etc., but the constant hosting and management responsibilities is a prime example of my overzealousness.  Note to self: just enjoy swap-bot, Amy, without taking on additional tasks.

I have missed so much all of the other things that provide me with a well-rounded and happy life.  So, I’ve reached out for assistance with hosting and founding my groups.  That is a big step in beginning to enjoy my multitude of hobbies again, albeit not the first one.  I have also decided that I will maintain X number of pen pal relationships.  I do not need 50+ pen pals to deem this a worthwhile hobby.  In fact, much like my IRL relationships, I much prefer to maintain a few very close and meaningful connections over double-digit acquaintances.  I will continue to send postcards via Postcrossing, but it is OKay to have a handful traveling at a time; I do not need to sit and send 25+ in one sitting.  I will continue to organize my favorite postcards into category specific albums, but I no longer feel the need to scan them into Flikr as well.  Overall, I am working on reigning in my overeagerness and proneness to do ev-er-y-thing full boar; moderation is key, even in regards to the undertakings I love and enjoy.

The first step I took to ensure a newfound commitment to creativity and creating . . . I cleaned my “home office” and my craft room.  My, what I also refer to as workspaces, were beyond cluttered.  I found it nearly impossible to focus on anything, let alone follow through with a hobby task (writing, knitting, reading, painting, whatever it may be), with supplies scattered on the floors, piles of stuff scattered about, half started projects stacked upon one another and set aside, etc.  So, during my much needed staycation last week, I got my spaces squared away.  Gone is the anxiety I previously felt when I would tackle these particular cleaning and organizational tasks, attempting to get the job(s) done, all at once.  Now, when I open the door to either of the me time rooms, I feel exhilarated to be in there, ready to sit at my desk to write a letter or a postcard, able to find the extras I want to include in an outgoing swap, and capable of focusing on whatever venture my heart desires.  Speaking of (errr, writing about) other ventures and my heart’s desire . . .

With the (work) gym closed, my training and efforts to workout have taken a downturn.  I am fortunate in that I have a well equipped gym in my attached garage / basement, but I certainly need to work on the discipline aspect of using it.  I have grown so accustomed to busting out an amazing workout before noon, which is ideal for me because the workout is done for the day, and I can devote my post work hours to the other adulting that must be done.  However, there was once a time when I only used my home gym; I was once willing to put myself first, before all else, and I need to tap into that energy again, guilt free.  Although I have not been logging the gym hours that I normally do as of late, snow shoveling and construction on my rental unit have at least kept my stamina on point.

As of yesterday, I am officially registered for 2019’s Maine (half) marathon.  I have also decided that when the application becomes available, I will be applying to be a 2019 race ambassador.  (Here we go with the overzealousness again!).  However, I made my decision to (definitely) apply for the ambassadorship in October, exactly a month from today, actually.  On October 28th, I ran in the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5-Miler in New York City!  Since I was sporting my 2018 Maine Marathon shirt, multiple people approached me and asked about the Maine Marathon.  I was considering applying for an ambassadorship before this date, mainly because I envision myself as a valuable resource in that I can put others at ease.  In anticipation of my first half marathon, I was terrified and nervous and jittery on top of excited and proud.  I’m a classic, “If I can do it, you can too!” example, and I sense that I have the ability to motivate, encourage, and calm others who may be skeptical or hard on themselves.

BUT . . . more about New York City!  For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@idiosyncratic_unicorn), you have likely already seen my gushing post, brimming with pride in myself, as well as excitement at meeting Peter Ciaccia.  Briefly, I was so so so SO very proud of myself for doing this run.  Much like my IG post reads, my delight was mainly because I ran in an out-of-state event.   When I first started entering 5Ks, I never anticipated that I would have the chutzpa to do one alone, let alone in another state.  I also never imagined that I would increase my distance from the 5K, but oh, how I have evolved as a runner!  Running has been so positive for me, not only in regards to my health and physical appearance, but in my overall confidence (not related to body image but related to my shyness).

I have gone from whether or not a friend is running with me as a determining factor for race entry, to participating in whatever the heck race I want to.  When you are as shy, introverted, and introspective as I am, it is daunting to go it alone.  I was also pleased beyond measure because I ran this particular 5-miler in under an hour, walking only to drink water (I’m not coordinated enough to run and drink without choking), and I stopped briefly for a photo with Peter Ciaccia.  Approaching (and taking a picture with) someone I have never met before – also giant strides that required a lot of prowess on my behalf.  SO, it is these experiences that solidified my decision at becoming (or trying to become) a Maine Marathon ambassador.  I think this program will not only benefit me but benefit from me.  For those of you who do not follow my IG, I’ve thrown in some pictures from the NYC Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff at the end.

Suffice it to say, I do suppose that I am on the correct path to eliminating undue stress and anxiety in my daily routine, all the while rediscovering time management and diversity in my efforts.

Cicciarun2run

 

 

 

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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.

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.

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Soul searching is onerous.