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Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

When I was younger – think, about 7 years old or so – I remember taking an acting workshop. Nothing fancy, just a short class one summer at the local community center, most likely. (Mama can fill in the details.)

The point is, I remember one exercise where we had to come up with a character. We had to decide the age, sex, career, mannerisms, etc. of this persona that we were going to portray. When the teachers (who were probably in their early 20s) came around and asked me about my character, I told them, “I’m a middle-aged woman.

So about how old do you think that is?” one of them asked me.

Oh, you know, 30,” I responded, nonchalantly.

I don’t remember the teachers’ reactions, but I have to imagine that it was either a laugh, a groan, or somewhere in between.

I’ve thought about that character exercise a lot in the past few months, for one very specific reason. And that’s because today, according to my younger self, I have officially become middle-aged.

And I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I loved my 20s – a lot of good things happened. But, as with any decade, there were also a number of shitty things, too – things that I’m not sad to leave behind.

I’ve never really been one for dwelling on the past. I do love old stories, and can get nostalgic with the best of them, but more often than not, I focus on what’s ahead.

So in that spirit, I decided it was time for the birthday list to make a comeback – a little 30 for 30 of the non-ESPN variety.

It’s an ambitious list, but it’s worth a shot. I just hope my newly middle-aged body is able to keep up.

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Buzzfeed has now managed to create a quiz for everything.

Not only can you find out what city you’re supposed to live in or what career path you should follow (that quiz was actually more helpful than my high school guidance counselor), but you can also find out what characters you are – everything from Scandal to Biblical heroines.

abigail

I got Abigail. Who I’ve hardly heard of.

And, on an even more timely note, there’s also a quiz to tell you what you should give up for Lent. Because these kinds of decisions are just so hard to make on your own.

I’m a sucker for quizzes and gross generalizations, but even I think that maybe Buzzfeed is going a little bit too far.

That said, I took the Lent quiz (because once again I’ve left my Lenten decision until the last minute) and discovered that Buzzfeed thinks I should give up television.

According to the quiz:

No one pops more culture than you. You’re a trendsetter when it comes to taste, but this Lent is an awesome opportunity to open up to some new challenges. Turn off the telly and put yourself out there!

Let me stop you right there. This result is about as wrong as when you told me I was Olivia Pope. (I wish.)

Olivia-Pope

As if I could wear that much white and not spill on it

I don’t think trendsetters go to bed at 9pm or spend their weekends at home, in the suburbs, reading Jack Reacher novels. (For that matter, neither does Olivia Pope.)

And all this culture that I’m popping – does that include watching Jeopardy and NCIS? Because, if that’s the case, maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m a pop culture maven.

It’s far more likely, though, that these quiz results are skewed – or just not very scientific in the first place. Shocking, I know, but I’m not sure how my favorite fruit is going to predict what I should give up for 40 days.

Which means that, once again, I have to make this decision on my own. And, once again, I will likely vote to give up nothing.

My Lent give-ups have run the gamut in the past, from TV to gossiping to cursing to chocolate to diet coke to alcohol. The diet coke ban has become permanent, the alcohol has been on hold for the past 8 months, and, at the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, don’t even think about taking away my chocolate when I’m four weeks out from having a baby.

So this year, like last year, I will focus on giving. Obviously, I won’t be going to Nepal again, but I will focus on the activities that I’m already involved in – giving my time and my attention and support to causes that I love.

That’s not to say I’ll never give up something tangible again. And there might come a time that I need a hiatus from TV. But for right now, this focus on giving is the best way for me to celebrate the season.

Take that, Buzzfeed.

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After one week of my new hour-plus commute, I can safely say that it’s not as terrible as I thought it’d be.

It’s long, yes, but seamless. Everything runs on time, and everyone is used to their routine.

Also, there’s order, and it’s wonderful.

I know that sounds like a weird thing to praise, but let me explain.

If you’ve ever taken a bus in DC, especially during prime commuting hours, you know that it’s pretty much chaos.

People mill around the stop until the bus pulls up, and then everyone crowds around the door, ready to push other commuters out of the way. And it’s nearly impossible for riders to exit the bus (even though it’s in the best interest of those trying to claw their way on), with everyone hemmed in around the open door.

Basically, it’s not a fun way to start your morning. Or end your day.

At my new bus stop, though, things are different. There is no chaos. There is no pushing. There is no trampling.

There is just a beautiful, calm line of people, waiting patiently to board the bus.

You read that right. I’m excited about a line. A simple queue. Simple, and yet so welcome after years of fighting to get one foot on the steps of the bus before the driver can close the doors.

It might take me over an hour to get to work now, but my day no long starts with shoving, cutting people off, or chaos.

And it’s totally worth it.

Thanks, suburbia.

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This may be the first Lenten season I can remember that I’m not actively giving something up.

I thought about it. I reflected on past years, giving up swearing, M&Ms, diet coke, and alcohol – all of which were both challenging and rewarding.

I thought about giving up something food-related again…and then realized that we’ll be in Nepal in two weeks, where I won’t be eating any of my regular foods anyway.

I considered giving up TV or social media…but again, it would really just be for the two weeks before we leave. We won’t be watching TV or obsessively scanning Facebook in Nepal.

I toyed with giving up other things, but kept coming back to the same conclusion: it would really only be my choice for two weeks, and then it would become a necessity for my current living situation.

So this year, I’m giving up giving up.

This year, I’ll spend two weeks reflecting on the Lenten season while in my comfort zone, and the final four weeks will be spent halfway around the world.

I can only imagine that the time in Nepal will teach me more about the true meaning of the season than a lack of diet coke or alcohol ever did. And maybe it will be the start of a new tradition.

Maybe instead of giving up, I’ll just start giving.

And this year will be the first step.

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Last week, with Lent just around the corner (today), BNF and I were discussing last year’s sacrifice: Diet Coke.

You’re not going to do that again, right?” he asked me. Absolutely not. It was a literal headache for me, and I’m sure I wasn’t too pleasant for him to deal with.

But that still left the Lent options wide open for this year.

What about cheese?” I suggested.

Why are you punishing yourself?!”

The point is fair. I do love cheese. But I also haven’t been eating a whole lot of it while on Weight Watchers, so it seems silly to deliberately give it up.

And then…”How about alcohol?”

BNF suggested it, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t think that I’d take him seriously.

I wasn’t sure about it either at first.

My first thought was whether or not I actually still drink enough for it to be considered a sacrifice. Let’s be honest, I may be 26, but I don’t go out like a 26-year-old. Frankly, I rarely go out at all.

And then one recent happy hour with friends happened and I realized that just because I don’t go out often, doesn’t mean I don’t go out (too) hard. And that this particular Lenten sacrifice is probably long overdue.

Side note: Not true. I did briefly consider the fact that Lent falls over St. Patrick’s Day, I just decided that it’s one holiday I’m willing to miss out on.

I half-assed it once in college. I gave up beer for the 40 days, but ended up playing beirut (and other drinking games) with jungle juice. That didn’t turn out well for anyone.

So this year, I’m all in. No alcohol until Easter (April 8th).

I’ll still go out (as often as I do now), but I suspect that my tab will be lower and my memories less hazy for the next month and a half.

And that? Not such a bad tradeoff.

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Black Friday used to be a noble tradition.

You would scour the circulars leading up to Thanksgiving so you had a game plan. Play the odds and plan a route. Forget Risk (which I never played); Black Friday could be its very own strategic board game.

Getting out the door by 4am was a challenge. You had to really want it. Because, sure, the easy option would be to sleep off Thanksgiving dinner, but if you wanted to be a hero, you got your butt up early and were back in time for brunch.

(And maybe you left your bags in the car so your dad wouldn’t see exactly how much money you’d actually saved by buying so much on sale.)

Regardless, these were the rules of engagement.

And now the rules have changed.

It’s like a whole new world out there. I thought it was crazy two years ago, when stores opened at midnight. Only a couple hours to digest all that turkey? And what about all the wine that’s still in my system? Now we need to plan a DD for Black Friday?

I didn’t love it, but I did it.

This year? I refuse to participate.

Black Friday now officially starts on Thursday – on Thanksgiving, with several stores opening at 10pm. It’s too much.

There’s a piece in the LA Times that quotes a retail industry analyst: “Retailers recognize the importance of being convenient, and one of those conveniences is opening earlier so people don’t have to wait in line at 4 in the morning in the cold.

Here’s some advice: don’t be a baby. And bring some gloves.

The waiting, the freezing, the pushing, the getting separated from your mother and lost in Circuit City surrounded by crazy people just so you can get your brother a flash drive that he never uses – that’s all part of the Black Friday charm. It’s part of the challenge, part of the thrill.

And so, in protest (that I’m so sure will be noticed), I’ll sit this one out. It was a good run. Black Friday has been good to me. And it’s been a hell of a bonding time with Mama.

But I refuse to play by these new rules.

Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart.*

*And everyone else who changed the game.

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Leading up to Sunday, I told myself that Philly should be a fun marathon. No pressure. I’d already PR’ed twice, and I really just wanted to enjoy the run. That was my intention.

Photo Credit: Mama

But then, around miles 8 through 10, I realized that I was keeping a fairly steady average pace of just under 10:00. And I started wondering if I could keep that up for the entire race.

Photo Credit: Mama

The short answer is no. I couldn’t. I kept it up until about miles 20 to 21, and then I hit the wall. The weather was great; the course was beautiful (albeit, hilly); the spectators were loud; and the signs were creative. But my body knew that it was almost done for the year and it decided that it wanted to be done NOW.

So I pushed. I talked to myself. I sang out loud a little bit. I promised my body that we’d be done in just a few more songs.

Around mile 24, I wanted to cry, because every inch of my body was in pain, but I couldn’t. There was simply no moisture left.

Around mile 25, I turned off my music and let myself be propelled by the cheering.

And as I crossed the finish line, I acknowledged that the pushing was worth it, as I saw my third PR in three attempts.

Official time: 4:26:34

Once I’d finished my bottle of water, I did cry. But they were very happy, very exhausted, very proud, and very relieved (that I don’t have to do this again for a long time) tears.

Philly’s tag line was “Best:Time of Your Life.” And it was.

Literally.

Photo Credit: Harry

*Before the race started, BNF saw a guy with a sign that said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re a 13.1.” As the sign guy saw him appreciate it and saw BNF’s marathon bib, he told him, “You’re a 26.2!”

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