Friday, May 30, 2014

Jenn's Jams I

A lot of times I get asked about new music, or where I got my music, or how I know all the words to a song...
...anyway, I figured instead of people asking me where I get my workout music, or what they should pregame to, or "What is that song you played in the car the other day?!" I'd start sharing Jenn's Jams, one playlist at a time.


Here's a playlist I made up for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). HIIT is one of my favorite ways to get my heart rate up (and down) and the sweat dripping down my face. Jumping jacks, squat jumps, jump lunges, hop planks, mountain climbers, jumping rope, skater jumps...yes, I could keep going. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and what makes you stronger improves your VO2 max, improves your heart recovery rate, gives you explosive energy in your workouts, and strengthens those fast-twitch muscles that are so important.

My advice to you: take a listen to the playlist. Figure out where in the songs you want to change your workout. Make it fun and make it unique - add in squats, lunges, planks, shoulder presses, anything that's going to slow your heart rate down and make you work. Write it down. And then HOP TO IT!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

on grief, on time, on fear

The first time I experienced panic over time slipping past me.

I was a junior in high school, a stupid sixteen-year-old who had aspirations, angst, and acne. I didn't fit in but I didn't want to; being part of the "in" crowd was something I wasn't meant to do. So instead, I wrote, and daydreamed, and had thoughts bigger than myself and the world I lived in.

I sat in my pre-calculus class, watching the leaves fall off the trees in the neighbor's yard across the parking lot, and felt a shift in my being that jolted me to the realization: I wouldn't be in this moment ever again.

What should have been a fleeting moment turned into a full-fledged panic; how could my classmates be so calm and composed knowing what time we were wasting in that class, in our lives? All the stop signs and traffic lights and waiting in supermarkets - for what?

I went home and cried into my homework for my inability to control what I did with most of my time, and I sunk into a sadness that only words could fix.

I have shed tears on many occasions, more so for the loss of time than anything. I cried when I left my high school, the place that shaped me only in the sense that I knew exactly what I never wanted to be when I exited its doors. Then again, I still didn't know what I wanted to be, but I went to a college that taught me that I was only being entrepreneurial through the other fields of my life -- I had always done things my way, anyway, and that was the entrepreneurial path to success.

And yet.

Doing things my own way has led me to a bevy of successes and even more failures, to many risks taken but even more missed opportunities. From the abroad program deadline I missed to the flight I boarded to visit someone I hadn't stopped caring about in six years but hadn't spoken to in just as long. Tears have been shed on all occasions, for the loss of time, for the "would have, could have, should have", for the pang of regret that I felt in my stomach, twisting and turning its way up my throat and settling as an ethereal pit of anxiety.

I have spent my life grieving for a life I have been too afraid to live all along.

Fear manifests itself in so many ways. Fear of failure, of bankruptcy, of broken hearts - it has stopped me dead in my tracks. Fear of death, I've discovered, is the worst of all.

Grief, when mingled with fear of death, produces a more potent cocktail than any combination of alcohol and drugs I could think to mix.

And yet.

I have been living with grief and the mingling fear of death for almost a year now, when I ran through the streets of Boston and ran towards my family, towards smoke, towards the unknown where bombs went off near my family.

And yet.

I have been living with grief and the mingling fear of death, the flashbacks waking me up in the middle of the night, the dreams that insinuate had I not been a selfish person and chose to run a marathon that my family wouldn't have been endangered. The thoughts that plague my mind, that had I not encouraged my sisters and a fiancee to participate as well, that this chain of events would not have affected my family as strongly.

And yet.

I have been living with grief and the mingling fear of death every day that I am the finger on the trigger of the gun. I am the one who set the chain of events with my family involved in motion. I am responsible for starting the snowball that led to my mother wiping someone else's blood off her coat, that led to my father being more withdrawn, that led to my sisters and I becoming anxious, frightened individuals who cherish each moment but are riddled with remorse for experiencing joy with running when the event and activity have caused others so much pain.

I have been living with grief and the mingling fear of death, its cold grip like a vice around my heart, tightening its icy hand around my throat and strangling any sense of calm out of me. I live with this every day now. Some days I can push the feeling aside, but there are days where the remorse covers me in an ashy, dull blanket that I cannot sluice, no matter what I try.

And yet.

I run. I run and I cannot feel because I do not want to. I run the streets of the city I call my home, that I brag to others about. I run through Kenmore Square and see friends of family members waving me over, grabbing my hands, keeping me from collapsing when it registers with me: my worst nightmares, the anxiety that plagued me all run - it's all coming true. I feel myself running faster, 6-minute-miles, the adrenaline coursing through my veins, the visions in my head of seeing my mother falling, my father being struck with shrapnel. I knew they were there and I knew they had been affected. I just didn't know how, and I wouldn't know until I reunited with them later that day. I see myself turning to see more friends, collapsing, wailing, panicking. I turn right on Hereford and realize this is farther than I made it last year, left on Boylston.

I see a park and others marvel in its beauty; I think of sitting in a lawn chair outside the park, gripping my mothers hand, waiting for my sister's arrival. I think of shivering from hunger, cold, exhaustion, and sheer panic, wondering where my father went to get the car and will he make it back alive. I no longer see a park. I see a strip of land where reunions happened in the face of terrorism.

And yet.

I stop in my tracks. Ten feet away lies the beloved ending point. The true ending point, not the one dictated by cowards and religious radicals. Ten feet, an agonizing lifetime of grief, fear, and the hopelessness of time stretches out before me. Mingling with my tears.

And yet I cannot make myself cross the finish line.

Not yet.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

food for thought, i

you must learn to separate the people who are criticizing you for the good of yourself

and the people who criticize you to validate their self-worth.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

on disrespect.

it seems like there's an infinite amount of ways to be disrespectful. racial slurs, slut shaming, name calling... everywhere you turn these days there seems to be a new way to be disrespectful to one another.

what about all the times that we disrespect ourselves?

----------
today i stood in front of the mirror in my bathroom after i turned the shower on and stared at my naked body until the mirror steamed up from the hot water. it was probably one of the most wasteful things i've done in a while, and i'm not talking about letting the water run.

instead of embracing myself for being a healthy 24 year old woman i chose to nitpick and be ashamed of who i am and what i look like.

what ran through my head? you may ask. well, it went a little something like this:

fatyouarefatthereisfateverywhereyourskinlooksterribleyourfaceisasymmetricalyouarefatlookatyourthighswhyisntyourstomachflatyourarmsareflabbyyourbuttlooksawfulyourhairisfrizzyyouarefatyouarefatyouarefatyouare
----------

and in this moment i chose to disrespect myself.

not only did i disrespect myself but i disrespected all those who got me to the person i am today. the doctors that saved my life, the parents that fed me well and kept me in my strict dietary guidelines when i had allergies, the sisters that encouraged me to eat as a kid and who molded me by being the best role models i could ask for. the boyfriend who i struggle to make eye contact with when he tells me i'm beautiful and that i shouldn't be ashamed of how i look. those who care i disregarded their love, their willingness to help. i take them, their words, their actions for granted.

you see, then, that the struggle with my self esteem and self worth exists, and it's been a struggle i've dealt with for a long time. being bullied, being "different"...it stuck with me in the most painful way possible. but now that i've recognized the amount of disrespect that i've allowed to manifest itself in my life, how do i get out of the hole i've dug?

patience.
self-love.
respect.
a changed perspective.

these are things i need to work on one at a time and in due time they will all fall into place together. tackling one bad habit at a time is easier than trying to bear hug several habits and feel like things are out of control.

patience - to realize that fitness isn't an overnight change, that there are other things in life that will feel like a marathon, to realize that success isn't one large feat, but multiple little feats accomplished regularly.

self-love - to understand that life is a series of events and fluctuations, and that my body and my mood and my circumstances will all change as a result of these series of events. to embrace the changes that come with said events.

respect - to give my body the nourishment it deserves. to let myself run free if i choose to do so. to let myself stretch and laugh and cry if i want to. to understand that i can and will be emotional, and that i should listen to those around me who want what's best for me. to take care of myself and to take care of those i care about. to not take others' concern for granted.

a changed perspective - to become the person that i want to be. to figure who that person is, and to embrace the journey that will lead to who i'll become.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

whoops

My New Years Resolution was to blog more.
Well, it's 20 days later and what have I done? Nothing.

Sorry about that.

My life as of late hasn't been that exciting with the exception of me being in the thick of marathon training at this point. I ran ~12 miles yesterday and 11.6 on Sunday because I've been wanting to switch my long run day so I really upped my mileage this week. Needless to say, I took two ice baths this week.

You may think I'm crazy for getting in a bathtub with 20 pounds of ice floating in freezing water. I kind of am a little crazy... but at least I wasn't in the water as long as Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. 20 minutes tops in the tub. I'm that loony person that gets in wearing two pairs of compression pants, socks, a winter hat, and a sweatshirt. Sunday I brought a mug of coffee in with me to keep me warm and happy - yesterday I just took my Kindle in and was extra careful not to drop it. (One of these posts will end up with me freaking because I short circuited my Kindle in the tub.)

When you're at work 9 hours a day and your commute's at least 45 minutes in each direction, it makes it hard to... well, it makes it hard to have a life. But no worries - I'm planning several trips and am going to start working out in the morning before work (THE HORROR) so I can do more things after work...like learn how to brew my own beer.

I will be blogging more. Way more. I have a life to live/chronicle and I'd love to share my adventures with you all. I'm always looking for inspiration and I hope that you all (whoever you are) can inspire me to be a better, way more awesome person.

Well, let's get to it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

on perseverance.

Perseverance is a difficult thing to hold onto. 

One word: duh. (Does "duh" count as a word? It's my blog, it counts.)

The dictionary tells me that perseverance is: "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state,etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement."

Lately, I've been looking for jobs. And by lately, I mean... for the last fourteen months*, I've been looking for a job. I'll set the scene for y'all: I graduated with a business degree in 2011 and ended up as a secretary for an insurance company in Boston a month after I received by diploma. 

Hey, whatever, it was a job...was what I told myself. 
Hey, not a big deal, this will be temporary...was what I told myself.
Hey, I've got student loans up the wazoo, this will be fine for the time being...was what I told myself.

I'm still pretty surprised at my ability to convince myself it was all going to be okay. After all, I'm the kind of person that doesn't settle (in fact, I abhor settling) and yet this was what I was doing with the first job I was offered post-graduation. So for the last fourteen months after I signed my contract, I looked for jobs.

and looked.
and looked.
and interviewed.
and looked.

You get the idea. It was a constant grind - of making it through two-plus rounds of interviews, of shaking hands, of ironing suits, of investigating executives and companies online. Some interviews I failed miserably after discovering I was in over my head. Some weren't in my field of interest, and some jobs I was enthusiastic about I either didn't hear from the company ever again or was told "we went with someone with more experience".

Or, as one VP told me, "always the bridesmaid, never the bride, huh?"

I could have stayed stagnant, could have stayed mildly complacent in the job I was in - just invoicing, billing, filing, not really doing things of density. But no - I wanted more, something I woke up to, Monday to Friday, eagerly anticipating the challenges that lay before me for the day. So I kept applying.

I can't say that I wasn't discouraged after several denials - and they all made sense. If you have two people that interview well, have the same aspirations and similar personalities... but one has three years of experience and the other is a recent graduate? Well, you get the idea. Shocking, breaking news: this economy sucks.

There's been a lot of tears, a lot of unanswered questions, and far too many stress pimples, but as of last Friday, I was offered a position as an undisclosed company's Assistant Marketing Manager, nearly 45 miles each way from my home. The job entails social media, blogging, increasing customer awareness, and brand repositioning. I don't know which one is better: that I now have my "big break" into brand management, or that tomorrow I get to put my two weeks notice in to a job I haven't loved since the get-go.

Moral of the story: don't give up. Are you unhappy with the way things are going? You may falter, you may fail, but the only way that you'll actually succeed is if you never, ever give up.

Perseverance, my friends. It did a lot for me; what can it do for you?

*For the sake of making longer stories shorter, I cut out both semesters of my senior year of college that I spent looking for jobs that I could start post-grad. My job search that I'm referring to here is entirely post-diploma.

Friday, July 27, 2012

obligatory first post

Hi there, reader.

I'd tell you what you should expect here, but I honestly can't tell you what you can expect. Here, I hope you'll find everything you're looking for: recipes, beer reviews, my adventures, reflections on life, and lessons learned along the way.

So, a little about me:

I'm a 22 year old living just outside of Boston, trying to figure out what I want from life (job, relationships, friendships, etc). It's a big, messy world out there, and I'm just trying to make sense of it.

Welcome, and buckle up; from what I've witnessed so far, life isn't always a smooth ride, but it's a crazy, awesome one.