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The Standing Desk and Getting 10K Steps at Work

July 23, 2014

Over the last month, just about every aspect of my life has been altered in some fashion. I moved to a new city, a new bedroom, with new roommates. I am the new girl (one of many) in my singles ward, with two new callings and all new people to meet (so far, they are wonderful and far too athletic). I got a new (to me) car, a new commute and a new monthly budget for gas (hint: its lower!). New running routes and a decided lack of new running partners. My job also moved to said new city and new building. Most importantly, my work gave me a new convertible standing desk. (The word new is starting to look weird now … New. New. New. See? Weird.)

Now, with everything in my life being so new, it has been difficult to adjust and find a new normal. I’ve been understandably stressed and miraculously only had one panic attack of uncontrollable sobbing and . Usually I carry stress in my lower back. But not anymore! I have had a standing desk for all of eight days and after only two days my low back pain is gone. I’ve had low back pain caused by stress and laziness for about ten years so this is kind of a big deal. And the best part? I’m only standing about an hour and a half daily, spread out into three chunks throughout the day.

Having a desk job is hard on your body. Everyone knows this so I won’t go into detail about how sitting is killing you. But I will say that I am so very grateful that I was given a standing desk. Its amazing how much better my whole body feels, like dropping the giant bag of rocks you didn’t know you were carrying.

Another new things in my life is my FitBit Ultra. Like many of my possessions, I bought it second at a bargain and it has been working great as the previous owner never really used it. And now that I’ve become part of the FitBit madness and the 10K Steps a Day Program at my work, I have a new goal: to get 10K steps just at work. And so far, I’ve done it twice. Next week, I’m going to try to make it the whole week.

I have been walking on my morning and afternoon breaks regularly for a few years now but it wasn’t nearly enough to reach 10K steps in 8 hours. Cue the standing desk! I have found a way of “walking” at my desk by trying to imitate the motion of walking while keeping the balls of my feet on the ground. That’s the best way I can explain it. Anyway, I can get about 100 steps per minute while at my desk. So I only have to “walk” at my desk for about an hour a day (spread out, of course) to reach my 10K steps a day at work. It takes a bit of disciple and I can’t do all of my tasks while bouncing at my desk but there is enough mindless work that this is very possible to do every day.

So here’s to walking to Mordor, ten thousand steps at a time.

The Ugly Cry

March 26, 2014

Just discovered this magical gem today. An entire tumblr dedicated to Claire Danes Cry Face.

"I just… I just wish we could spend all of our time on this storyline, and not the dumb one where the kids killed some random lady. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS THE ONLY STORYLINE THAT MATTERS?"

I’ve always found a strange reassurance in Claire Danes’s unpretty cry face. Perhaps because I feel our faces look very similar when we cry. She is the one who always comes to mind when I try to think of hollywood stars that cry like real people. The scrunched chin, twitching, snot running, etc. So check out this tumblr for a bit of fun or have yourself a good cry in great company.

Shame: Let It Go

March 19, 2014

just let it goIt’s been about four months since Disney’s Frozen was released in theaters. And I assume that most people have had the chance to see it by now or they have at least heard the song “Let It Go,” gorgeously sung by Idina Menzel. She has such a unique gift to emote through music and I credit her with half the popularity of this song.

If you didn’t have much of a reaction to the movie itself, I am guessing you had a strong reaction of some kind to this song. Whether that reaction was “I love this song!” or “Disney has a hidden agenda!,” I bet your reaction was one of strong emotion. If you are like me, you silently cried and you weren’t sure why.

I’ve always been an emotional person. I cry when talking about anything too personal, spiritual or uncomfortable. And its ugly crying. The snot dripping out of your nose, voice clutching crying that you can’t stop. And my whole body shook as I cried in the theater listening to “Let It Go” for the first time in theaters. And I continued to cry the next dozen times I listened to it in my car.

Why was I having such an emotional reaction to this song? I have been thinking about this for four months now. And it took me this long to put a name to what I was receiving a release from when listening to this song. It was shame. Specifically shame for having depression.

As many of you know, I have battled depression for almost half of my life. And to this day I feel ashamed. That shame is not always from having depression but shame that I can’t just get over it, shame that I can’t be the perfect Wonder Woman my society and culture demands that I should be, with perfectly manicured nails and never breaking a sweat over anything. Shame that I can’t fix it and be done. Shame because my depression has no end.

It is important to point out that shame is different from guilt. Guilt is actually a healthy thing at time. It makes you feel bad when you break your sister’s favorite CD or lie to your parents. To quote one of my favorite TedTalk speakers Brene Brown, “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.””

When we feel guilt, we can change our behavior and it goes away. When we feel shame, it isn’t that easy because it is focused on a part of who we are.

So even though I manage my depression very well through my behavior, I still feel shame for having it at all. For having to make the effort to deal with it, to never let it out of my sight because it might gang up on me in an alley if I let my guard down for even a second.
So when Elsa began to sing (and even now as I type this) I cried because she was telling me to let go of my shame. She was telling me that it was okay and that she felt it too:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

For me personally this song was about my shame for depression. But the song writers were clever enough to make the song universal. Shame for being fat. Shame for being gay. Shame for being religious. Shame for having an addiction. Shame for being a nerd. Shame for being yourself. And when you decide to accept yourself as worthwhile, the storm of society’s judgement will rage on. Loving yourself is not an easy thing and the world might tell you loving yourself is wrong because you are wrong. But you can outlast the storm if you have love (something else Frozen taught us).

I will forever be indebted to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez for writing this song. If you haven’t read about them, they are parents to two little girls and wrote Let It Go for them. I began writing this essay just hours before the Oscar’s and I was touched by their acceptance speech for best original song as it confirmed my understanding of this song and what it means to them and hopefully to every little girl who has been singing it on repeat for months now.

We live in a world where the expectations are ridiculous and impossible for girls (and women) to achieve; a world that is almost guaranteed to make beautiful, wonderful, unique girls who once loved themselves suddenly feel that they don’t deserve that love from themselves or others anymore. Because they are ashamed of who they are and for not being able to live up to the standards of the world.

And if there is one thing I know with absolute certainty it is that everyone in this world deserves love, from themselves and from others. And Frozen did a wonderful job showing that love can mend a broken heart. Don’t let fear or shame stop you from being awesome. Just be you.

So to everyone who has criticized this movie and especially this song, stop it. This song has helped me to find greater love for myself than almost any psychology book or therapist ever has. Just let it go.

NaNoWriMo 2013: I’m Finally Back

December 13, 2013

This year was my third NaNoWriMo and it confirmed that NaNo will be a life-long tradition.


NaNo noveling has helped shape my writing life in ways I never expected.  In 2010, NaNo helped me to finish my first novel (first draft anyway) which was a revelation and a wake up call. I was a finisher for the first time since I outgrew fan fiction. In 2011, I learned how to continue to plot as I made discoveries about my characters along the way. I also worked out some personal issues with that novel which really helped to heal my heart and free my writing from old cobwebbed shadows. And 2012 was skipped due to my third successive move in five months at the beginning of November. My writing this last year has suffered and I know it is due to not pushing my boundaries with NaNoWriMo. Never again.

So I entered this year’s NaNoWriMo with low expectations, finally writing my old “great golden idea” from high school, which I was certain would be a throw away novel just like every NaNo novel has been. Even so, this November gave me much more than could have expected. For the first time, I wasn’t scrambling for plot to fill up the last ten thousand words, instead passing 50K before the plot had ended, finishing NaNo’s word goal a day early (miracle of miracles!). I’ve learned a lot about my process and how to handle pressure. I wrote scenes that might be usable in later drafts (completely unheard of as I write terribly messy discovery drafts). And some of the writing was actually good. I wasn’t planning to revise, as I use NaNo as more of an experimental period than anything. But this story took hold of me and is demanding a rewrite. Possibly a musical but most definitely a rewrite.

Most importantly of all, I’ve found confidence when facing the blank page. Even now, my stomach bunches in tight knots in the hour leading up to writing time every day. But the physical signs of anxiety I feel are no longer overwhelming. I doubt they will ever go away completely but now I can at least get them to sit in the corner quietly while I get my work done. I have momentum for the first time in forever. My writing well is full of inspiration, ideas and hope so bright I can almost imagine away the frigid temperatures outside. Almost.

I owe a lot of my success this November to all my writing friends that took the journey with me. They were fierce competition this year, most of them beating me to the finish line, but straggling behind them still pulled me forward. And to the rest of my friends and acquaintances who commented and liked my status updates on Facebook, it meant the world to me. Thank you for letting me ignore you in November. I’m finally back.

Let the Games Begin!

November 1, 2013

Let the Games Begin!

Happy November 1st to all the writer’s out there!

Shiny Day: Stuff You Missed in History Class

October 2, 2013

I work a desk job that is more often than not, repetitive and boring. To cope with this, I listen to several podcasts during the week to distract my brain. I’ve already mention some of my favorite writing podcasts (I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses) but I haven’t really talked about any others so here I go!

stuffStuff You Missed in History Class is a fabulous podcast with two hosts who have extensively researched a person, event, building, or other item of interest and condensed the information into a fun and informative 30 minute podcast.

The best thing about this podcast is the introduction to bits of history I didn’t even know I was missing. In school, I never did well in histroy as I have no memory for dates and names. But every once in a while a bit of history intriques me and I would study on my own. This podcast does that for me as well as introducing me to things I might never have thought interesting enough to research on my own.

I think this is a beneficial podcast for anyone who has a bit of writer’s block. I’ve learned so many interesting things, quite a few tidbits that pertain to my current WIP and future novels. Not to mention how inspiring the stories are. I’ve always said, you have to have something to write about to be a writer and this podcast will give you tons of ideas.

Some of the more recent ‘casts I loved are Pluto: The Demoted Dwarf Planet, The Flannan isles Disappearance, and Who was the real Robin Hood? The podcast posts twice weekly and has been going since the beginning of 2008 so there is plenty to listen to.

The Four Stages of Competence: Writer Edition

September 6, 2013

While listening to I Should Be Writing the other day, Noel Birch’s Four Levels of Competence were explained. Not only was this new to me, it helped me to distinguish the skill levels of many writers I have met. I have applied the Four Levels to writing for your enjoyment.

Level One: Unconscious Incompetence

You’re terrible. Really terrible. You’re so terrible you don’t even know how terrible you are. You have TALENT and therefore don’t need hard work, skill or ability. Often, this writer thinks they are the next J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, etc. and brings up their novel in every conversation imaginable. This is not always the case but we’ve all met these people on the bus or at a writing conference. You cannot help this person. Yet.

“The only reason I’m not published is that I haven’t finished anything yet.”

– That One Guy who was trying to impress me at LTUE 2010

Level Two: Conscious Incompetence

You realize how terrible you are. This may be followed by feeling overwhelmed or hopeless. You now recognize the value of hard work, skill and ability as well as how much there is to learn. This is where many give up because they recognize their mistakes. But mistakes are your friends. Keep going.

“I’ve killed it. Oh! Everything I touch gets ruined.” – Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas Special

Level Three: Conscious Competence

You have worked hard, practiced and now have some writing ability. You are still breaking the beast of writing into smaller steps. you still make mistakes but now have the ability to fix them. With great concentration and a lot of time, you can write something worth reading. You are on the path of learning.

“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” – Dory, Finding Nemo

Level Four: Unconscious Competence

You have internalized all that writing knowledge and can now compose with ease. Sometimes you can even write while doing other tasks or in the midst of distractions. Writing is second nature.

You are Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman or similar.

I love this breakdown. I’ve started to analyze all sorts of trades in my life with this system. I am definitely at level four when it comes to knitting. I can knit while doing almost anything and have yet to find a pattern I cannot master.

When it comes to writing, I think I’m at level three. I can write more easily than I used to but I have yet to practice certain skills, like doing line edits on the 12th draft of a novel or writing a sequel. I often panic myself back to level two. So I guess I hover.

But I wonder how many professional writers would rate themselves at level four. Can you ever truly reach level four as a writer? I feel like there is always more to learn. From all the writers I’ve met, I’ve observed the best ones to be humble enough to admit they don’t know it all. Emerson put it best:

Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar?
It is this : Every man I meet is my master
in some point, and in that I learn of him.

Wednesday is now Shiny-Day

August 28, 2013

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what kind of blog posts I love most to read. I’ve always tried to write interesting things but there is a variety I feel like I’ve really never focused on before: product reviews.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am thrifty and hate spending money to experiment with products that I don’t know if I’ll like or not. Which is why I always search out reviews online. Makeup, clothes, cleaning products, books, you name it.

So from henceforth, Wednesdays will be known as Shinydays (this being a reference to that fact that a lot of things I love are shiny as well as the term “Shiny!” from Firefly.)


As I am never consistent, I don’t think I will post every Shiny-day but when I do have something I want to share with you, I will post it here.

Today’s Shiny thing is e.l.f.’s Healthy Glow Bronzer


I’ve always used blush but I had never tried a bronzer until a few months ago. I am still a little intimidated by the idea of putting something so dark on my skin as I am super pale. So for an everyday, fool-proof, sun-kissed glow I use e.l.f.’s Healthy Glow Bronzer in Warm Tan.

I put this on my cheeks, nose, chin and forehead just around the edges (draw a number three on each side of your face with the brush). It looks more like gold than what I think of as a bronzer. It is so sheer it would be really hard to put on too much. I load up my kabuki brush twice for my whole face. I love that it doesn’t make me look fake-tanned (my pale neck and chest would be a dead giveaway that I belong to the tribe of the pale people) and it goes well with every blush I have.

Super simple way to get a bit of extra glow and for $1 at Target, you might as well give it a shot. I use mine daily and it usually lasts about 3-4 months.

Stay Shiny!

Hello Again

August 23, 2013

So its been a few months since I’ve blogged. Nothing new really. I am terrible at being consistent. So here’s something awesome I want to share. I just got back from Austenland and it was fabulous! The best part about this movie is Jenniffer Coolidge and her many ad libbed lines. And for those who are not Austen fans, don’t worry. You don’t need to know anything about Austen or even like Austen to love this movie. It is a piece of awesome.


What is Fat? What is Thin?

April 27, 2013

I’ve been considering writing about this question for quite some time but today I had an interaction that worked like a catalyst, making it impossible for me to not write about this.

I complimented a woman larger than me on her adorable striped maxi dress and asked her where she got it as I have been looking for something similar. She informed me that it was from a plus sized store. I guess I must have looked sad because the next thing she said was “Oh sorry. I guess you’ll just have to be tall and thin instead.” The conversation ended there because we were leaving anyway but I felt like I had been stung. And the sting took me back as far as 6th grade.

Now, I do not know this woman. We both had had a long day at a conference which can make anyone cranky. And I genuinely loved her dress and thought she looked good in it. I could be reading way too much into this passing comment but I’m going to delve anyway.

I am constantly told by girls larger than me that I am “so” skinny. Girls smaller than me compliment my body by saying I am very proportionate or I dress well. Sometimes they completely ignore my width and bemoan how they wish they were tall. This is kind but what I think they know as well as I do that I could be thinner than I am and still be “proportionate.” And being tall can suck just as much as being short, just sayin’. They are simply different.

Now, let me give you some information to help this conversation. In my closet I currently wear pants and dresses that range from size 10-14 and tops anywhere from Medium to Extra Large. I am a 38DD, stand tall at 5’11”, have an hour-glass figure, wear size 11 shoes and weigh in at 192 pounds.

So am I fat?

This is a serious question. I only mention these things because when most people hear my pant size they say “But you’re so thin!” I keep hearing size 14 tossed around as the average woman in America today. And according to that “statistic,” America is fat. Therefore, by that definition, I am fat. I was told by my doctor that I should consider losing some weight because my BMI was too high and that was more than ten pounds ago. My body fat tested at 33% in January which is just above so-called “normal” ranges.

To friends and family reading this, I am not having a personal crisis so don’t buy me chocolates or email me articles from Beauty Redefined. I just want to have a discussion from my personal experiences and my complete frustration with how girls see themselves, including me.

Being as tall and as well-endowed as I am (not to mention my hormone imbalances), I am always going to be a “larger” size. I will never ever fit into a size 0 without a scary surgery, massive photo shopping or going through an intense period of starvation during the zombie apocalypse (you know it’s coming). My boobs will never shrink unless I discontinue the hormones I take to keep my body from causing me crippling pain. I constantly have trouble finding jeans, dresses and shirts that cover me because I am taller than average.

But am I fat?

For me, the answer is yes. And the answer is yes not because of what number or letter is on the tags of my clothing. And my answer is yes even though I get compliments on how gorgeous I am. It is because I know I would be the first to die in the Hunger Games. Seriously, I know you’ve seen this floating around:


Now, there are those whose weight/size is skewed because of various reasons beyond anyone’s control (medication, drug use, hormonal changes, emotional problems, genetics, lifelong habits, a medical condition, etc.). Believe it or not, there are those who struggle to put on weight and keep the weight they have (my brother for example).

Not everyone’s situation is a simple matter of diet and exercise. But I have become very well acquainted with my body in the last 26 years, even more so the last two years and I know that for me, it is that simple. I look better now as a size 12 than I ever did in high school as a size 8 because I dress better (Thanks Stacy and Clinton!).

The fact is, I am perfectly happy with the size I am. I have a fantastic wardrobe and would hate to have to start over again because I got down to whatever size is “normal.” There is no universal normal. There is only normal for you.

I am more concerned with the abilities of my body as far as strength and stamina. I’d even be happy to go up a size or two if it meant I could do a pull up because …

I have never been able to do a pull up in my life. Not a single one. This year (after learning my fat percentage and weight recommendations from my doctor) I decided to take up yoga and body weight training to increase my muscle mass and overall fitness. After four months of work, I can do two pull ups with 100 lbs of my body weight, which is more than half way there. To me, this is incredible. I am that much closer to being able to scramble up that tree like Katniss and save myself from the less able climbers below.

I am on the journey to being Fit, not Fat. I don’t know that there is a specific finish line to cross that boldly separates Fat from Fit. Because really, there isn’t a number that is the opposite of Fat. Fit is the opposite of Fat. And Thin is just a shape, like Amazonian, Curvacious, Pear, Hourglass, etc.

I wrote this post more for me than for you dear reader. I still have days where I see a picture of myself and think I look fat (like last week). I still have anxiety and worries about how the world looks at me for various reasons. This is simply because I am human and I mingle with humans on a daily basis (Time Lords on the weekend only). I’m writing this because I recognize that this behavior is destructive to my happiness.

I leave you with the hope that this discussion will continue in your living room, cubicle and gym between the two of you who read this blog (you probably know each other by now). We are all too hard on ourselves a majority of the time when it comes to our looks. I have gained ten pounds since the beginning of this year but I feel better than I ever have, mentally and physically. Working towards Fit makes me happy, body and soul. If your happiness comes from a number, on the scale or in your pants, I hope you will reconsider just what you think happiness is. I think your abilities in every aspect of life will make you more happy than comparing your “number” to someone else’s. Thank you.