Setting (and kicking) Goals

This past week I read a great book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. It’s a fun little read about how focusing on small changes in your daily life can bring you more fulfillment.

The book allowed me to indulge in a little self-examination, and I rediscovered that I am quite a happy person. In fact, when the Pixar movie Inside Out was first released, my colleagues at the time came to the quick conclusion that in my brain, Joy would be the one calling the shots. This was humbling and lovely to hear – that not only am I a joyful person on the inside, but it radiates to those around me.

While I would love to dedicate myself to my own Happiness Project, with my due date only 11 days away it looms a little too large for me. Instead I thought up a list of some great goals I’d like to set for myself in both the long and short term.

There will be others, but I think these are a great start for me going forward. As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I’m most looking forward to postpartum is the opportunity to reclaim my default setting as a highly goal-oriented woman.

In no particular order, here are some of my focuses for the near and distant future.

  •  Continue flossing daily – This may sound like a small thing, but I’ve been flossing everyday since my last dental appointment in January. I’ve NEVER been able to maintain this habit for more than a week or so, and it feels great to have finally mastered it. Here’s hoping I can keep it up!
  • Exercise six days per week – I understand the importance of a rest day, so six days a week seems more manageable than seven. I accept that postpartum this will be very gentle to start, but eventually I can’t wait to get back into running and Pilates, and I’m even obsessed by the idea of taking up climbing.
  • Keep a food log/cut down the sweets to once a day – Pregnancy has amped up my sweet tooth to a whole new level. I’d rather indulge in something small once a day than keep up the bottomless pit type sugar habit I’ve got going now. I’m not pressuring myself to achieve this goal too quickly, but I know keeping a food log will help.
  • Teach Pilates regularly – Even if it’s just filling in at a studio once a month, I want to get to a point where I’m teaching often, not just sporadically like I am now.
  • Donate blood – I’ll have to wait the standard 9 months after giving birth, but this is my favorite charitable activity. I am a blood type that is in high demand and I would like to become a regular donor, rather than waiting for them to call me when there is a shortage.
  • Run a 10km, half-marathon and marathon again – These fall in the longterm category for sure. I used to love racing before I was knocked back with injury in early 2015. I’m going to take it incredibly slow after giving birth, but in the next couple of years I want to become a regular racer again. Half-marathon is my favorite distance, but I’d like to challenge myself to do another full (though hopefully on a course that’s less hilly this time).
  • Monthly purge of clutter – This won’t be hard as I absolutely LOVE purging our house of clutter. Making it a monthly activity will give me a great buzz and keep our home feeling tranquil.
  • Read for pleasure everyday – I do this anyway for the most part, but with a baby on the way I know it will be a challenge to prioritize “me time.”
  • Take on a sports trainer role for a local sports club – As a physiotherapy student it’s crucial I start getting some real world experience. I’m not putting a deadline on this, especially as I adjust to motherhood, but I want to keep it front of mind as a goal to achieve sometime in the next year.
  • Meditate weekly – I have tried and failed many times to adopt meditation as a regular practice. I do like it and recognize the benefits, but it is hard for me to commit. By making it a weekly rather than daily activity, I hope it’ll be an easier habit to keep.
  • Listen to music everyday – I tried and failed to listen to an album a day for a month last year. It was a great goal, and I would like to continue devoting time to entire albums rather than just songs or playlists, but a good start is just making music a part of my daily routine, whether as an activity on its own, or while cooking or working out. It makes me so happy and in our current world, which is so saturated in stimulation, something as simple as listening to music can get lost in all of our other distractions. When I was a teenager I had music playing in my room at all times. I miss that!

General immeasurable goals I’d like to keep in mind include – maintaining a positive attitude, avoiding complaining, gossip and nagging, keeping up with friends and family, making time for creativity such as writing and knitting and minimizing the time I spend on social media. I want to focus on being present in my own life.

I’m sure there are more goals I’ll be adding to this list, but for now I’m excited to have something concrete and in writing to keep me accountable moving forward.

If you’ve got some goals you’re working on I’d love to hear about them!

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The Road to Marathon

A few weeks ago, I made the big decision to pursue Perth’s City to Surf marathon as my fitness goal of the year.  I quit soccer and other sporting commitments so this can have my total focus.  I’ve been in pre-training for the last few weeks, and I’ll be starting the official Hal Higdon novice program in a couple more.

What I have learned so far is that running a marathon isn’t a decision you make just once; it’s one you make again and again.  You have to recommit every time you set your alarm for 5:15am and again when that buzzer goes off and you’re tired and all you want to do is sleep.  When you wake up ten minutes early, you start to bargain with yourself, trying to rationalize an excuse to put off the run until evening.  You have to strategically set out your clothes the night before, and charge your ipod.

This week, I am also starting to add some light cross and strength training to focus on my weaker muscles.  Even the specific rest days are all part of the bigger picture.  I think about this goal all the time and what more (or less) I could be doing to help myself achieve it.

This past weekend I ran a free 5k race in East Perth.  The Claisebrook Cove parkrun takes place every Saturday morning at 8 with the help of very enthusiastic volunteers.  Some of my friends have been doing it for weeks now, but this was my first one.

The last bend before the uphill finish. Dying of heat!
The last bend before the uphill finish. Dying of heat!

I’ve been reading books about running to pump myself up and learn what I need to know.  For now I’m taking a break from that and letting my body be my guide.  I’ve also got a training schedule and motivational post-its taped to the wall next to our bed.  Matt is being incredibly supportive.

Last Sunday was my 27th birthday.  I got up early in the morning to go down to the beach to support my good friend Thuy in her first triathlon.  I am so proud of how she did.  Teri and I took heaps of photos to capture the moment for our tri friends.

Post race photo with our little champ!
Post race photo with our little champ!

I’m keen to start doing triathlons in the next few years, but this year is all about the marathon.  I don’t even own a bicycle…yet.

Today I got new running shoes and they are gorgeous and I am bursting with excitement.  Maria is coming over later to help me break them in through a nice social walk.  I also looked at bikes and am in love with a purple beauty.  Need to save a few pennies before I can go back for her.  Sigh.

“The Happiest 5k on the Planet”

Today I was lucky enough to participate in The Color Run!  As far as I know, the originally American event is making its first tour of Australia and Perth got a piece of the action this morning.  I was lucky to have signed up early, because the event ended up completely sold out! I started the morning early by heading to my friend Thuy’s where a small group of us took photos and pumped ourselves up for the fun morning ahead.

Me and Thuy getting ready
Me and Thuy getting ready
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Thuy and Michelle prepping
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run
Michelle, me and Thuy before the Color Run

We caught the bus and headed down to Langley park in the CBD with thousands of others.  It was great to see people running around in crazy outfits and identical Color Run gear.

I'm all ready to go!
I’m all ready to go!
Teri, Thuy and I "before"
Teri, Thuy and I “before”
Treble Clefs!
Treble Clefs!

In the end there was a group of about 10 of us sticking together as best we could.  Thuy, our other mates and I skipped, danced, jumped, jogged, walked and occasionally ran our way through the 5k course.  At every k, enthusiastic volunteers shook bottles of colorful powder at us.  After the first k (the color blue), we quickly realized we’d need to run right up to the Color Run crew as we went to ensure maximum color coverage.

My loves :D
My loves :D

All in all it was a fantastic morning.  We had a blast and it went by way too quickly.  At the end of the race we were given a bag of color powder each to be thrown in a group colorfest at the stage at the end of Langley Park.  They counted down until we all threw our dust in the sky together.  Thousands of us gathered and it was a beautiful five seconds of color flying up into the sky, before cascading down upon us in a cloud of deep red, green and pink.  The vibrant haze it created was breathtaking both figuratively and literally.  (It’s quite hard to see or breathe when standing in a giant fog of color dust.)

Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Michelle and Thuy (fairies!)
Thuy and I waiting for the bus
Thuy and I waiting for the bus

After catching the bus back to Thuy’s, I hustled home to show Matt how much fun I’d had.  He took this lovely picture for me before I commenced a very long scrub session in the shower.  There are still traces of the dust between my toes and on my neck and elbows.  I kinda like it there…

The Color Run Effect
The Color Run Effect

Check out The Color Run to see when it storms into a town near you!  (Mpls peeps, it’s coming this summer, don’t miss it!!)

New Year, New Goals

Hello 2013!

I know it’s been ages since I last graced the internet with my thoughts and opinions (though perhaps only to the sound of crickets), but now I’m back with a new set of goals and hopefully a better outlook on life.

It’s a big year for Matt and I as we are now ENGAGED!  We have so much to plan and so much to save this year, that I’ve decided my focuses for 2013 are saving heaps and (not-so-surprisingly) devoting myself to fitness.

Exercise is basically my obsession, so that shouldn’t be too hard, but saving is a huge struggle for me.  Matt is trying to help me get started since he is an excellent saver.  I have condensed my two thoughts into easy sentences, which I will be posting to the bathroom mirror:

Sweat Once a Day                  Only If It’s Free

Lululemon, which is one of my favorite companies, encourages people to “sweat once a day” and I am adopting this as my mantra.  Even on recovery days, I will try to go for walks or do yoga or pilates, just to keep up with a new routine of fitness everyday, no excuses.

Only if it’s free applies to time I spend with my friends.  Apart from the occasional event requiring me to dole out a bit of cash, I’m trying to keep my catch-ups to taking walks, going for runs, having tea at home or other general activities where I can spend time with loved ones without breaking the bank.

I encourage others to join me in “Sweat Once a Day” and see how long it takes you to feel better and have more energy in your daily life.  #sweatonceaday for those on Twitter.  Let’s see how this goes…

Absentee, But Not Alone

For the second presidential election in a row, I am living abroad.  Last time I was up all night in France watching coverage and awaiting the results.  This year I have been much more casual.  (This is mostly due to the fact that The Colbert Report isn’t available free online outside the U.S. this time around, and paying attention isn’t as fun anymore.)  At about 1pm today, friends started messaging me and people were coming up to me at work (total strangers mostly) and fist-pumping with phrases like “four more years!” and “OBAMA!”  I didn’t know so many people were aware of my Americanness.  Usually people assume I’m Canadian “to be polite.”

I’m not writing this post to share my opinions about the election.  My main reason for saying anything at all is that I want to share the love that Australians have for America today.  Between gay marriage being legalized in Maine and Maryland, and an internationally respected politician being reelected, it seems people around my new country are celebrating.  (P.S. I am so proud of the wins for gay rights today!  Go America!)

My Facebook is full of celebratory statuses from my Aussie mates.  It’s pretty cool that people get so into the politics of another country.  At home the country is divided 50/50, so it’s amazing to see people of all ages and backgrounds here on the same page.  I have to say that foreigners often have a harsh opinion of America and Americans, but I find that since Obama has been president (or more accurately since Bush STOPPED being president) people abroad have a greater respect for our great nation.  I know it’s not the only thing that matters, but it makes being an American abroad a little bit easier.

Here are some statuses from Aussies for your entertainment:

“four more years.”

“Maryland approves same sex marriage, Colorado legalises marijuana, and OBAMA has another 4 years!”

“Obama!! :D”

“So nice of Obama to speak about me in his acceptance speech. Love you too Baracky.” (from another Michelle)

“To see the look on Bill O’Reilly’s hateful, squinty face. Go Obama!”

“God bless America and god bless Obama!! I love this kind hearted soul!!! U def had my vote best public speaker everrrrr!!”

“Phew! The world dodged a bullet”

“OBAMA!!!!”

Much like in my country, people in Australia are split about 50/50 in political affiliation.  Makes it that much cooler that everyone who has commented or approached me today has been really positive.  They love Barack over here.  My French students did as well.  While in the US it’s a bit rude to ask “who did you vote for?” everyone both during this election and the last one was dying to know.  It’s like they wish they could vote for my president as well and want to live vicariously.

But I digress.  Mostly I just wanted to say it feels amazing to be a citizen of the world today, because that is what I have become in the last 4 years.  I love my life’s journey and wouldn’t change it for anything.

Music and Moving

Hello world!

It’s been awhile since my last post announcing 5 ways.  I’ve got some drafts in the works, just need to get the appropriate photos to go along.  I thought I’d write a quick update to explain why I’ve been too busy!

This past weekend was pretty crazy.  I had Friday afternoon post-work bevvies with Matt’s work mates, which was really nice.  I hadn’t met most of them before, so it was cool to put faces to names.  Lovely people, I’m glad he’s got such a great group working with him.

Saturday was the beginning of our friend Hannah moving in.  As of Monday she finally felt like she had everything in order.  It’s funny because her room already smells like her! (Though I suppose all her stuff in there probably has something to do with it).

Sunday The Treble Clefs (my a cappella group) had their very first busking experience.  Busking is when you perform in the street for coins.  It’s a great tradition in Perth, and down in Fremantle you don’t even need a license to do it!  We had a blast and were very well-received by the crowd.  Kids especially seemed to love us.

At the very end of the hour-long “gig,” an interesting fellow insisted we do backup for a song of his.  We reluctantly agreed, but it got a little weird afterward when he was begging for our contact details.  We made him quite a bit of change for just one song, so I suppose it was sort of a good deed.  He looked like Argus Filch from the Harry Potter movies.  I joked to the girls afterward that he was probably struggling to make it as a muggle.

Last big piece of news is that my soccer team won our league this year! I cannot believe I haven’t mentioned that yet.  Our last game was the last weekend in September and we had the club wind-up afterward.  Trophy night is coming up soon, but we already went to a presentation day a couple weekends ago.  I am so proud of the whole team and what we were able to accomplish this year!  Here’s a few photos from the wind-up:

Reblog: I’m Starting to Wear Lipstick

Okay so this isn’t EXACTLY a reblog, but it’s inspired by a post from a friend of mine, so I need to give credit where it’s due.  Plus it’s a great entry, so other people should read it!

My dear friend and college roommate wrote this over a year ago, but I stumbled across it the other day: I’m Starting to Wear Lipstick.  It was really bizarre to me to be reading this because I myself had been tempted lately to start playing more with makeup.  Matt loves when I look natural, and for the most part I prefer it as well, but sometimes when I go to parties I like to mix it up with a bit of lippy and some eye shadow.

Kat was the first person to show me that makeup can be fun.  I’m not even embarrassed to admit we used to plunk down in front of her full-length mirror and just raid our makeup kits and experiment.

Yesterday I put on lipstick before heading out to work.  It was a subtle color and though it was noticeable I was wearing it, I didn’t think it was much of a change.  I also put on eyeliner.  Normally I just throw on a bit of mascara and I’m out the door.  Everyone commented.  All my coworkers asked where I was going after work; all the customers the same.  Matt says I just have a face where even a little makeup is really noticeable.  Funny experiment really, but I’m not sure I’d repeat it for work.

I started thinking a lot about Kat over the weekend because I’ve started catching up on Pretty Little Liars again.  It’s a very girly, very dramatic mystery show, and I can’t get enough!  The girls on the show are all dressed to the nines including full makeup, loud jewelry and heels everyday.

Now I’m not even sure Kat watches PLL, but she and her sisters resemble the character of Aria (Lucy Hale) a scary amount (third one from the left).  I always think of her immediately when Lucy comes on screen.  Whenever I watch this show, it makes me want to throw on a pair of heels and just ENJOY being female.  I realize this is totally unrealistic, but I can’t help it!

I got my temporary residency a little over a week ago and it’s completely thrilling.  When we get back from America I’ll start applying for a grown-up job.  When I think about our upcoming trip, I can’t help but squeal with excitement knowing I can soon stock up on smart feminine clothing for my new professional life.  I think I have problems…