Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gretchen Wieners Fantasy

Other than two finals next week, I have survived my first semester of my PhD. I had a strong start, doubted myself for a few weeks In the middle, and had a strong rest of the semester...until the past week. I allowed myself to be way too stressed out about a quiz, then I didn’t spread my work for this week out very well. I stayed up late working on Sunday and Monday night. Last night after drinking lots of hot tea, my stomach started hurting so badly that I decided to go to bed and sleep off my stomachache. In college, I could pull all nighters running on caffeine and pressure, but I have apparently aged out of that. It’s probably for the better anyway. 

This morning, I ended up going to work late and spending my morning putting last minute edits on a paper and finalizing my statistics project. While I worked, I cooked three Toaster Strudels for myself and pretended that I was Gretchen Wieners, daughter of the inventor of my current favorite breakfast pastry. The pretending didn’t work, and I still had to fulfill my duties as a graduate student. 

In addition to my Toaster Strudel bonanza, I decided after receiving a point off of an assignment (with no comments explaining why) that I deserved to treat myself after class today. I’ve talked about this before, but probably not on this blog: my self care runs the gamut from healthy, active choices like going for a long run and drinking water to destructive yet delicious choices like eating a can of sweetened condensed milk or eating too much fried food. Tonight after class, I picked up Popeye’s chicken for dinner and enjoyed the tenders with fries, a biscuit, and a bourbon and Coke. 

For those keeping score at home, that means that in addition to three Toaster Strudels with icing, I had a Popeye’s meal and a cocktail for sinner. Throw the Clif Bar I had for lunch into the mix, and my ability to make adult decisions like “What counts as a proper meal?” could easily be called into question. Yet as I am sitting on my couch and sipping the last of my cocktail, I can’t help but think the dietary choices I made today can’t make my muscles hurt any more than the healthy long run I did on Saturday, and maybe I have actually found a balance. It’s probably better to do the running self care first and the poor dietary choices self care second. 

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Reflection

Both of my parents were from North Carolina, but my dad's job took them to Georgia, where I grew up. For my childhood, that meant that I didn't have grandparents who made it to my theater productions or sporting events (although athletically, I was nothing to write home about), and on holidays, we traveled. I grew up riding up and down I-20 and I-95 to visit family members for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When I was younger, my family of three traveled together, but when I was older, my grandmother had Alzheimer's and stopped being able to prepare our meals. We started taking two cars for holiday trips, and I often rode with my dad when my mom started going up early to work on holiday meals and other preparations. My dad would pick me up early from school after I had been there long enough to be counted present for the day, and we would hit the road. I learned a lot about road trip strategy from my dad, and we had the chance to talk about a lot of things in life that I still remember. I love my cell phone and spend entirely too much time looking at it, but looking back, I now appreciate the days of long car rides when screen time was playing a GameBoy powered by AA batteries.

When we weren't talking, my dad and I jammed out to a selection of albums we had in our cars. I most clearly remember that when I was really young and we would travel together, our choices were (a) the radio, (b) Michael Jackson's "Thriller," or (c) "Best of Righteous Brothers." Memories of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," "Unchained Melody," and "Georgia on My Mind" playing on the car stereo while we drove through the night. I definitely knew more words to Righteous Brothers songs than the average four-year-old in 1992.

Since Richard has to work on Saturday and I have race plans in Ruston on Saturday, we traveled separately for this year's Thanksgiving road trip. Richard left in the morning while I worked half a day, did some last minute preparations, baked a pie, and tested out my roll recipe. I skipped lunch but snacked on raw pie crust scraps (flour, shortening, and butter...mmm) while I packed and ran around.  By the time I dropped off a key with my friend Ellen, picked up some South Louisiana beer for a friend, and went through the Taco Bell drive-thru for a late lunch, it was 5:00 before I hit the road. Leaving Baton Rouge at 5:00 pm was a stupid idea, and I guess my Taco Bell "late lunch" was really early dinner, but I somehow still managed to make the trip in 4 hours. Victory!

While I drove, I listened to podcasts and caught up with a friend over the phone for the first few hours of the trip. As I got closer to Ruston, my heart ached for familiar road trip rituals, and I wished I could be closer to more family members this holiday season. Unlike I-95 with its billboards and South of the Border lights as a visual reminder that I'm not too far from family, the state highways of Louisiana are dark and little lonely. What I did have, however, was "The Very Best of the Righteous Brothers," on my phone, which is different from "Best of Righteous Brothers" and doesn't have "Georgia on My Mind." Close enough. I belted out the words I remembered and started feeling a little better almost immediately; it's amazing how music can have that effect.

Photo from https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g54204-d1523447-i55251045-South_of_the_Border-Dillon_South_Carolina.html 

I made it to Ruston just before 9:00, and while I wasn't welcomed with the sight of my paternal grandmother in her recliner saying, "Well, y'all made it" or my maternal grandparents sitting in a too-small living room with a crackling fire waiting for us, I was greeted by my best husband, dog, and father-in-law with the same love that I felt in the holidays of my childhood. I've lost several people I loved in my lifetime, but I think I have been fortunate to have gained more than I have lost. This holiday looks different from the last, and last year looked different from ones before that because we lost my grandmother last November. My challenge to myself this holiday season, then, is to stay thankful for the things and people in my life right now, which probably includes anyone who happens to read this.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Day 1

I forgot that today was Day 1 when I came here to write that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I guess it's that way with my blogging challenge. This is my 100th consecutive daily blog post, which means I have completed the challenge I made to myself; perhaps I'll use Day 0 to reflect on the past 100 days. I already have a few other plans brewing. What I came to discuss, though, was how the end of my semester is drawing near, and I can see the end.

As much fun as I have had while working on assignments for school lately (and I say that with no sarcasm), I am starting to wear down with the late nights. Tomorrow, I have a statistics quiz, and after I turn around from that, I'll have a project due the next Tuesday, then the final on December 4. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but this is one long tunnel.

Outside of statistics, I have small edits to make to my Foundations paper (my draft would've earned me 93/100, but I want more!), and I still need to study for my Intro to Scholarship final on December 3.

While I wouldn't say I am overwhelmed by all that's left to do, I could certainly use some extra days in there to rest. I'm looking forward to my race this weekend, and there will be time on Friday (before the race) and Saturday night/Sunday morning (after the race but before I head home to Baton Rouge) to do some of this work, but I wish I could build in a little more time for rest and relaxation. The holiday on Thursday will be wonderful, and I am looking forward to family time, but I wish I had teleportation abilities so I could save on the travel time.

Whew, I'm whiny. As I've said, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but like in a trail race, being able to see the finish line doesn't mean there aren't roots that could still trip me up. I have to keep picking up both feet to avoid the things that could trip me up between now and the end. I have a plan, and in 15 days, my first semester of doctoral classes will be all wrapped up, but I'm sad when I think about the lack of sleep I'll probably experience over those 15 days. I'm going to make myself something caffeinated to drink and keep pushing like my GOTR 5K bandana said. Maybe I need to wear that bandana every day.

I love this free stock photo from Pixabay. There are probably some sneaky roots on that trail.

Something that made today great: Treadmill running at lunch! I climbed 1,447 feet over 4.52 miles.
Time I woke up: 7:53 am

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Day 2

It's tough for me to find much to talk about other than running and school, but today I'm going to try to spice up the running bit and write about my RunBet.  I mentioned that after the quad butt day, I signed up for a few DietBets and a RunBet, and today was the last day of Week 1 of my RunBet. I'm still hanging in there and ran 5 out of 7 days this week for the first time in a while. I don't think I have run that many days in a week since we moved to Baton Rouge. I have five more weeks to go, which hopefully means I'm going to rebuild a healthy habit through this process.

My goal for some of these shorter runs is to work on my speed. Right now, I'm trying to run/walk a sub-10:00 pace as long as I can, run/walk for a bit, and kick the pace back up if I feel like it. Today, I ran/walked 1.7 miles before I needed to slow it down a bit, but even my rest mile was sub-11:00, and I ran an additional .41 miles at 9:22 pace at the end. I'm pretty proud of that considering I only made it 1.6 miles when I tried the same thing on Monday, and I ran 8.5 miles yesterday. I'll continue to try this hopefully a few days a week while I work through my RunBet. I have a 50K on the schedule for November 24, so I'll be tapering and recovering in the days before and after that, but I will figure out something to make all of the pieces work.

Other than running, I spent a chunk of my day doing statistics, but I also took Scooter for a short walk and had breakfast with Tricia before she left for Shreveport and I went to meet my study buddy for some statistics fun. I started feeling sick after lunch, and we were wearing down after a few hours of solving problems, so I went home and rested a bit. Specifically, I was able to make time to attend my friend Donna's virtual baby shower (Google Hangout can be used for so much!) and take a nap.

I'm glad this is a short week, but I'll have plenty to keep me busy while I'm not working.

Something that made today great: I was able to spend about 45 minutes catching up with some old friends at a virtual baby shower. (My sister-friend Donna looks adorable!)
Time I woke up: 7:16 am

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Day 3

After last night's post, how could I write about anything other than the Girls on the Run 5K this morning? Here's a bit of a race report.

First of all, for those keeping score at home, we were expecting a 40% turnout from our team. We achieved 75% of that expected turnout with three of our girls showing up to toe the line, but I think the other coaches and I did a beautiful job making the girls who showed feel special, loved, and glad they came.

Second, what some might not realize is that on LSU home football game days, there aren't extra police officers around to close the roads for a 5K, no matter how awesome your race is. To avoid the road closure issue, the race was on a closed course through Pennington Biomedical Research Center. 

The content of the GOTR 5K was otherwise similar to the one in Shreveport: colored hair spray, bib decorations, an inspiration station, a fun dance warmup, and more. My classmate Becca came out to run the 5K, which was a fun surprise! She and Tricia hung out with my team and me before the race, and we grabbed bandanas on the way to the start since we figured all of the girls had theirs by that point. Tricia's said "Confidence," mine said, "Keep Pushing," and Becca's said "Geaux Big." How could we not be motivated with bandanas like that? (I wore mine when Tricia and I went out for 5.5 additional miles following the race!)

Waiting to start! I loved the bandanas.
We started a little too far back and ended up in the bottleneck that occurred due to a combination of a narrowing trail and a number of people starting to walk within a quarter mile of starting the race. A special challenge was the terrain. There are paved areas at Pennington, but there are some off-road sections that we hadn't trained for during practice. I didn't mind it much as a trail runner, but the average GOTR participant doesn't have the same level of off-road experience that I do. Mix that with emergency swerving around runners who stop on a dime to walk, weaving through race participants, and the usual trying not to trip and fall, and the first mile was quite the adventure. 

We made up some time on the second mile and passed Coach Hannah and Coach Rachael who were running buddies with one of our girls. She absolutely rocked the 5K! Since I wasn't anyone's running buddy, I said I would finish the race first and take some photos at the end. I told her I was going to try to beat her to the line so I could document her big finish, but she didn't want to let me pull ahead. She pushed me for a minute or two, then she let me loose. Tricia and I shaved nearly two minutes off of our time from the first mile. 

Catching up with one of my girls and pounding some pavement with her around mile 2
Tricia and I continued to pick up the pace in our last mile, which is unusual for me since I don't usually run that long without stopping. I guess I am getting stronger. We finished in time to grab medals and water, find a place at the finish line, and catch our breath a bit before our girl and coaches came blazing through looking like the strong people they are.

The big finish!
We cheered in the other runners and had such a good time watching (most of) the girls smile as they approached the finish line. There were some dads out there who were good sports about being running buddies, and some of them even took advantage of the opportunity to wear a tutu for the big race. Another high point was being able to share the camaraderie and support of the running community with so many girls at such a young age. The GOTR 5K was a fun way to spend Saturday morning, and I was glad to be able to enjoy the day with the ones who were able to participate in the event. Even if I'm not able to coach, I hope to be able to make it to the races in future seasons. 

Something that made today great: An all-day reunion with my Work Wife, which included coffee, running, food, tailgating, and a documentary about dogs. What a day!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Day 4

Tomorrow is a big day because it’s the Girls on the Run 5K, which is an amazingly fun event, not just because of the race day festivities and the medals, but more because this is the day that so many girls will show themselves and others that, with practice and preparation, they are capable of conquering big things. I think about my own journey as a runner and am so excited for these girls who are doing what I didn’t do until after college when they are only in 3rd grade. I believe in them, and I believe in Girls on the Run as a program and organization. 

Today at practice, though, only four of our ten girls reported that they were coming to the 5K. I was hurt and took it a little personally. My time is valuable, but I choose to spend a few hours per week with these girls because I think that what we do matters. We’ve practiced for this event for nearly two months, and most of the team isn’t even planning to be there. I wondered why I bother to schedule my work so that I can drive across town to volunteer twice a week when some practices are a struggle just to get the girls to listen and follow instructions. On those days, actually running the laps is an even bigger challenge. Why do I do this? 

When I came home from practice, I vented to Richard about some of my woes. I thought about my parents, who had plenty to give and gave me everything they could to make sure that had more than I ever needed as a child. They always made sure I was where I needed to go and that the details of my life were attended to. Yet as I expressed thankfulness for being born into a family that could give so much, I also saw that some of my girls have parents who give as much as they can, but that doesn’t mean that they can necessarily afford to spend a Saturday morning driving across town to a 5K. Time and money are more precious to some than others. The amount of love for their children is the same, but their resources are not. 

I lamented that my first GOTR team seemed to participate in the program more than some of the girls on my current team have, and Richard looked at me and asked, “But which girls need you more?”

Zing. Ouch. 

We talk at Girls on the Run about how the program is so much more than the running, and it’s really about personal development for girls who are in or are about to be in some difficult years. In my own experience, running has empowered me as a leader, friend, and human, but I also had a strong base for my personal and moral development. These girls are building that base now, and I am fortunate enough to be one vehicle that brings these lessons to their lives. 

The 5K will be fun, and I will celebrate with all of the girls who do cross the start and finish lines tomorrow, but these girls need so much more than the training and experience of a running milestone, even if that achievement carries over to other parts of their lives. Volunteering should never be about me, and today I was reminded in a less than glamorous way that the experience needs to be about the people I serve. If I can equip myself with the attitude of gratitude we talked about in practice a few weeks ago, the happiness I sought from volunteering should follow naturally anyway. 

Photo from http://www.quoteambition.com/gratitude-quotes-grateful-sayings/

Something that made today great: being reunited with my Work Wife!
Time I woke up: 7:53 am 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Day 5

Thursdays are good days because I never have homework due, and the next day is Friday. I especially enjoyed today because I got to eat two delicious meals: Thanksgiving lunch at my office and family dinner at cousin Emily’s. This was not an outstanding day in my pursuit to eliminate my quad butt, but I did offset some damage by going for an awesome run around the LSU lakes with Sandra. In my fantasy world, going for a run would make eating an infinite amount of crawfish etouffee a reasonable action. Instead, at least running keeps me a little healthier. 

In this season of family, friends, and things to be thankful for, I’m so thankful to be surrounded by loved ones and amazing people. I’m heading into Thanksgiving week with a grateful heart. 

Something that made today great: Great 5.4 mile run after work with Sandra!
Time I woke up: 8:36 am

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Day 6

I think my body is taking the cold weather as a sign that the end of the semester is here and I need to start preparing for finals, because I have been in study mode in all of my free time today. I’m probably not sending myself any signals to cotnradict ethos sign either, as I’m hunched over my kitchen table with a book and notepad working long statistics problems. It’s so cold outside that I. Wearing a sweatshirt indoors, and it’s giving me a throwback to days of walking to the library at Mercer in my Christmas sweatsuit to study for finals. Looking back, those were good days, but I know the reality was that the end of the semester was stressful. 

One thing I am proud to report is that among the craziness of the past few weeks, I’m starting to find my balance again. I’m making better choices about how much and what I eat, I’m finding pockets of time to study instead of staying up super late, and I’m getting back into the routine of running more days than I rest each week. Jennie and I tackled four miles at lunch today, and then I did 1.5 miles at Girls on the Run practice. It’s going to be harder to stay motivated if these temperatures continue to drop, but I do have access to a great fitness center when I need to move my workouts inside. Fortunately, I have a few accountability partners and plenty of cute winter running gear that doesn’t get used very often most years. There’s a silver lining! 

Something that made today great: My father in law is visiting, and we had a delicious Italian dinner tonight.
Time I woke up: 7:43 am

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Day 7

Brr, it's cold! I awoke to a Facebook feed full of snow pictures and videos from Shreveport, but alas, Baton Rouge saw no snow, and I went about my day as I typically do, just wearing warmer clothes. Maybe we'll see some snow down here one of these days.

After last week's paper writing frenzy, I'm playing catch up in my statistics class. I submitted my homework that was due tonight with a few hours to spare, then I shifted into watching videos and taking notes, and that is way more exhausting than reading articles and writing papers! I think I'm probably just a little out of practice, but I need to make major strides over the next few days because my Work Wife is coming to visit this weekend, and I don't want our fun to be overshadowed by things I don't understand about correlation and regression. So, I'll push through. But first, I'm going to bundle up and sleep.

It's almost hump day!

Image from https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1725:_Linear_Regression
Something that made today great: A delicious, hot lunch (crawfish etouffee) followed by study time with my classmate Melissa made a cold afternoon much better.
Time I woke up: 8:20

Monday, November 12, 2018

Day 8

It's pretty incredible how much time it can take to reorganize once you let things get out of hand. With respect to most aspects of my life, I'm doing a great job and keeping it together, but I fall short when it comes to keeping a neat home and desk. Tonight, Richard and I spent some time straightening up the front of our house (we'll work on the back tomorrow), and I couldn't believe how much stuff I had allowed to pile up on my desk. I stay on top of paying our bills, but any mail we received in the past few months that needed to be filed ended up in a pile. We also had invoices/receipts for important things like vehicle repairs and maintenance, and it went into the piles. Then, I added stray pieces of statistics homework, stacks of articles to read for classes and/or papers, and random books, and I'm surprised there wasn't an avalanche of desk nonsense at our house. Scooter never went near any of it, but she sure wanted to eat that sponge a few weeks ago. (Speaking of, our dog ate most of a sponge...maybe I don't have other parts of my life as together as I thought.) Tonight, I recycled a bunch of stuff, sorted the papers I needed to keep, and put the articles from my classes in page protectors. Then, I filed all of the articles in chronological order for each class, and my binder looks remarkable. I'm proud of myself and how this won't happen again anytime soon. I'm close enough to the end of the semester that I should be able to keep it organized unless final exam preparations make me crazy. For now, there's a place for everything, and everything is in its place, and I like it.

Speaking of Scooter, I took too long packing the trunk today (purse, laptop/school bag, workout clothes, and a sweater), so Scooter thought she was supposed to ride in the trunk instead of the back seat. She hopped out of the back seat and leapt into the trunk. Here she is telling me to move it because she's ready to go to Camp Bow Wow. (Actually, I think she was yawning, but I like this version better.)

Something that made today great: submitting my critical issue paper and finishing my presentation.
Time I woke up: 7:30 am

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Day 9

The Battleship 12K was the perfect way to spend the morning of my Veterans Day. Most of the course was pretty average, but running into the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park was awesome! There were beautiful flags set up in the park, and all of the participants received small handheld flags to carry for the last bit of the race. Sandra and I joined Elena by the flags in the front of the park to honor her brother who passed last year, which was so special for us. In addition to the serious moments, the event was fun and festive, and Jennie and I ran new PRs and WRs (that's World Records) for the 12K distance. I loved seeing people carrying flags, wearing red, white, and blue, and having a good time together. With so much unrest and bad news recently, it's easy to forget that there are many good people in the world, and lots of good things are happening every day.

Another special thing today is that November 11 is the day I was initiated into my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. I love all of the lines of our Purpose, but one is, "To honor my home, my country, my religious faith," and I think that being initiated on Veterans Day is a special way to combine a day that's important as a sorority woman with a day that's important as an American. To celebrate, Dunkin' Donuts showed up to the finish line in style with boxes and boxes of donuts, and I had two donuts because I love myself and want to be happy, but I did not eat four because I'm trying to cut my quad butt. At the end, there were still plenty of donuts sitting around, and the friendly volunteer let me take a dozen for the road trip home. Some of the haters liked to call us "Alpha Grabba Donut," and my sister Valerie famously said, "They say Alpha Grabba Donut...I say, 'Why not?'" I love this shot Elena took with me holding the donuts in front of the ship. What a fun way to combine Veterans Day with my sorority!

Something that made today great: I had a delicious coffee during my statistics study session
Time I woke up: 6:45 am

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Day 10

I love race season! My second race of the season is tomorrow morning in Mobile, Alabama, and I’ll be joining some fabulous ladies in my first ever 12K. Even better, I’m running with my supervisor, Jennie, in her first (I think) 12K, and it’s going to be cold enough that we should be able to run a good pace. 

As excited as I am for the race, what I have enjoyed as much or more has been the road trip and touristy fun of traveling to Mobile and enjoying friendly time with other women. There was so much laughing, talking, and story swapping on the ride over from Louisiana. We thought we were going to enjoy a nice Mexican dinner at Los Tacos, but we ended up at Hooters after discovering that Los Tacos looked a little too fast-foody for what we were trying to achieve. While there, we watched LSU football, enjoyed wings (I looooove
Hooters wings!) and enjoyed free beverages thanks to an anonymous kind soul. I think the person saw Elena’s Marine gear and wanted to treat a veteran before Veterans Day. We sent them some vintage Marine Corps poker chips as a thank you, then we retreated to our hotel for a fairly calm evening of resting our muscles and relaxing in a hot tub. We are doing the most for this race. 

I’m so glad I finished my papers so I can fully enjoy the fun of traveling, running, and being with good people. I miss my dreamy husband and best dog, but a girls trip after a week of intense paper writing has been good for my soul!

Sign us up for your next “mostly blonde ladies having fun at rest areas” photo shoot! Competitive rates.

Something that made today great: I finished my second paper!
Time I woke up: 5:38 am (woah, baby)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Day 11

Before I write anything else, let me just say that I had a chuckle at my own writing-fatigued, bleary-eyed blog post last night. If you missed it, it might be a good idea to review the few sentences I cranked out before conking out.

I wrote yesterday that I had a bad experience with some pants. Specifically, it was two pairs of pants. The first I put on, sucked in, and looked in the mirror only to realize that I had a case of the quad butt going on. Not only were my pants too tight, but they were so tight that my butt was behaving like water overflowing from boiling pot...not a good look.

So, I decided to put on a more faithful pair of pants. They zipped better and didn't give me the quad butt effect, but it was certainly less than ideal. I was already going to roll into work later than I wanted to (remember that I woke up at 9:41 am yesterday...), so I decided to settle on the second pair of pants and try to keep my bottom concealed under my desk as much as possible.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that part of what created this whole tight pants problem was hiding my bottom under a desk as much as possible. I have been inconsistent with working out, consumed more soda, and eaten more late night snacks than I have in years. In fact, the last time I was at a weight I really liked, I was still living in Natchitoches and working at LSMSA. At least there I had to walk around the building and hit the stairs sometimes; when I moved to Shreveport and started working at Centenary, the decline started to happen. It came to a head yesterday, though.

When Richard and I were engaged, we both participated in DietBets (put down money saying that you'll lose 4% of your weight in 4 weeks, then split the pot with everyone who actually does it), and I was slim, trim, and healthy in my wedding dress. But that's been over three years now. I have told myself and have let others tell me that I still look the same, that my weight gain isn't noticeable because I'm tall, or that it's not that many pounds, but the quad butt encounter with my pants was the final straw. I signed up for a 4% in 4 weeks DietBet and a 10% in 6 months DietBet, then to bolster my commitment, I signed up for a RunBet. I signed up for what looked like the most challenging one, and the longest run is 5 miles. I have to keep the pace under 15 minutes per mile on my runs, which is also not a big deal. What this RunBet requires that I have not been achieving, however, is frequency: I have to get out and run the specified distances five out of seven days per week, and that's the kind of healthy habit I need.

So, I've got some money on the line that says I'm going to eat less, work out, and kick the quad butt to the curb. We'll see how it goes.

Also, I googled "quad butt," "oozing butt," "oozing booty," and "four butt cheeks" trying to find a photo describing my phenomenon. "Tight pants panty line" was the winner, thanks to this blog post about finding the right underwear for yoga.

Something that made today great: I had a fabulous meeting with my advisor! I love meeting with her and talking about the next few years, and today, we worked on my plan of study.
Time I woke up: 7:58 am

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Day 12

I’m a big fan of dresses, and when it gets a little colder outside, I like dresses with leggings. Today, for some unknown reason, I decided to wear pants to work. One pair was so tight that I had to take them off, and the second pair was manageable but certainly not flattering. 

Parking my tail at a desk most of my waking hours, eating a bag of microwave popcorn while writing, and working out less per week have taken a toll on my body, and I am finally going to have to get back on the path of good choices. Apparently, running a marathon by itself doesn’t make one a good or goddess, and I am displeased, but I’m going to do better. More on that tomorrow because I am tired. 

Something that made today great: Treating myself to lunch (pho!) at the Drunken Fish
Time I woke up: 9:41 am. (Late night last night)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Day 13

One way I can tell that I have gotten older is that I don't write nearly as well while tired as I used to.

Actually, I'll amend that. 

I don't caffeinate myself nearly as much when I write these days, and I'm learning why writing while tired wouldn't have worked for me in college. It's because I write silly stuff that I'll have to go back and change later, and when you're writing at the last minute, there's no time for that sort of goofing off.

I wrote more than my fair share of last minute papers in college (though I did write some in advance, too), but as I was getting toward the end of my paper that's due Monday, I realized I was losing steam and being less careful about the things I wrote as placeholders for real section titles. Without further ado, I present selections from the section titles in my critical issue paper draft:

  • Throwing Money at the Problem
  • Many Students Have to Work
  • Pay the Little Bills
  • The Melt Can Suck It
  • Remediation Ain't All That Helpful
  • Colleges Could Stop Spending Money on Excessive Frills

The good news is that the bulk of the work on this paper is done, and I feel like part of the weight has been lifted. After I've slept, I'll reread my paper and work on section titles, then I can rinse and repeat until I submit the paper on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Artistic rendering of me writing papers in college from https://stevenrsouthard.com/caffeine-the-writers-fuel/ 
Something that made today great: Finishing (well, finishing-ish) my critical issue paper! My goal was to only have editing for the weekend, and I am there.
Time I woke up: 7:43 am

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Day 14

Today, I voted as a citizen of Baton Rouge for the first time! As Leslie Knope once said, "Democracy is not unlike a cake. It's layered, delicious, chocolate, and I want some." Your mileage may vary on some of those items, but the important thing to know is that it's a good idea to go vote when you get the chance. Personally, I am going to try to get into the "vote early, vote often" mindset and keep doing my democracy thing. That's all I have to say today, so here's a meme.

Lots of good memes out there today
Something that made today great: I made major progress on my paper! Citations are looking fabulous thanks to Mendeley.
Time I woke up: 8:06 am

Monday, November 5, 2018

Day 15

Sometimes it doesn't seem like it's been all that long since I was in college...but it has been. I'm getting old.

I remember writing papers and using bibme.org to create my bibliographies, and I thought I had arrived. Reference list technology was at its peak, and I was in college at exactly the right time. I could enter a book's ISBN into BibMe, and the website would do the rest. I could paste a URL, and BibMe would find the pieces needed to create a bibliography.

Well, BibMe was cool by 2007-2008 standards, but now there's entire software dedicated to generating reference lists and citations, and it's ridiculously cool. I am glad to be in graduate school at a time when this exists. There are several different programs out there, but I have only tried two. So far, I am really liking Mendeley and its Microsoft Word add-on. I just wrote 2.5 pages of a paper with loads of citations, but instead of typing them out or copying and pasting them, the program did it for me. I just had to click a few things, so my thought process was hardly interrupted. This is legit, and it's only going to get better from here.

It's a good thing I'm so pumped up about writing papers, because I have a lot to do between now and November 27. I am signed up for a 50K on November 24, so that day is pretty much shot as far as paper writing goes. Maybe I'll get it all done before Thanksgiving Break. Hope springs eternal.

Image from https://www.thedutchphdcoach.com/writing/how-do-you-feel-about-writing/

Something that made today great: 2.4 mile walk/run/poop (only a poop for Scooter) with my best dog
Time I woke up: 7:00 am

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Day 16

I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a perfectionist, but I do have some perfectionist tendencies, and it's making the process of writing my paper that's due next week a bit difficult. For my Introduction to Scholarship in Education class, we have to write a paper on a critical issue in our field. The assignment is simple enough, but as I am going through articles to support my paper, I am wondering how I will make it all fit together.

On Tuesday afternoon, I have a writing date with one of my classmates, and I want to have all of my articles read by then. I think I would be much closer to my goal if I would be more discriminating with respect to which articles I print in the first place. Now that it's nearly midnight, I am going to go to bed and figure this out tomorrow...I hope.

Something that made today great: Sleeping in again. Man, I love sleeping in.
Time I woke up: first at 8:15, but then at 10:46. I had planned to go for a run, but we decided to pass on it when we realized heavy rain was on the way.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Day 17

The bus lumbered forward, a familiar route across the beautiful landscapes of the South. I-20 to I-59 to I-12, plus a quick dash on I-10. That’s the way to the Promised Land. Behind the bus, Nick rode comfortably in a special vehicle. He had some business to handle before he put the Crimson Tide up against the Fighting Tigers, and he asked the driver to make a special stop before they rolled into Baton Rouge. 

“You know, they’re right,” he thought to himself, “We really haven’t played anybody.” This game was going to require some extra fuel. Something special. Something fried, for sure, but also something creamy, mayonnaisy, and vegetably. 

It’d been a long time since he held the reins in Tiger Stadium, and leading the Dynasty certainly had its rewards, yet separation from one’s true love might not have been worth the cost of love lost. Football championships are great, for sure, but the players might’ve won those with any coach. Heck, Les Miles could’ve probably led them to a championship. Nick smirked at the absurd thought, passing a slip of paper with GPS coordinates to the driver and attempting to nod off. He needed his rest, he knew that much, but he was too excited for what was to come. How could he possibly sleep with this much excitement and anticipation coursing through his veins?

Finally, they pulled into the forbidden drive thru. Nick felt relieved to be in a more discrete vehicle that the enormous “Roll Tide”-mobiles transporting the team and the rest of the coaching staff. The Alabama license plate wasn’t such a giveaway on a weekend like this. They couldn't know about this, and he couldn’t be seen. 

 “Chicken chicken chicken, which box are you pickin’?” said a bubbly voice on the other end of the speaker. 
“I’d like a box combo. No toast. Extra slaw.” he said, trying to disguise his voice. 
“NICK SABAN?? IS THAT YOU???” The guest was silent on the other end of the speaker. “NICK SABAN WE KNOW THAT’S YOU! NOBODY ELSE ORDERS EXTRA SLAW!!”
Nick sighed. “Yes, it’s me. The team is going to wonder where I am if I don’t make it to the stadium soon. Just get my order ready as fast as possible, please” he urged the employee, “I need this right now. Please.”

The employee honored his request, and at the next window, another crew member shoved a hot box of food out the window in Nick’s direction. “How could be show his face here again?” she wondered to herself. 

In the short trip from the original Raising Cane’s to LSU’s glorious campus, Saban devoured the box combo, wondering if he should have gotten a third order of slaw. It wouldn’t cost much extra, and it was so delicious. Is there anything better in life than this creamy slaw side? Anyone who prefers the carbs of toast to the slaw must be an ignoramus. 

After giving his best pregame speech and riling the team up to take the field, Nick’s mind flashed back to his days at LSU when Death Valley was his home turf. He certainly couldn’t go back now, but that wasn’t stopping his mind from wandering back to the Raising Cane’s. No matter what, that slaw will always be his One Love.

Full of nervous energy—the fate of the SEC West rested on this game—Nick sent a quick text to his driver:

Do you think we can go by Cane’s for more slaw on the way home?

Then, the fireworks went off, and Nick refocused his mind. “It’s Saturday night in Death Valley,” he reminded himself, “and I am the captain of this cruise ship,” he said, knees shaking as he saw Coach O across the field. It was going to be tough to think about footslaw—oops, football—for the next few hours. 

Something that made today great: sleeping in before an afternoon of tailgating
Time I woke up: 11:00-ish. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Day 18

I have so much love (so, so, SO much love) for my undergraduate alma mater, Mercer University. In August, I wrote cards to incoming freshman to welcome them to Mercer and wish them the best in their new journeys. I worked at Centenary College of Louisiana, a super small liberal arts college (and Richard’s alma mater), and there were many things I loved about being there. 

When I was a student at Mercer, we had “Mercer Football: Undefeated Since 1942” shirts because that was the case at that time. I grew up in a house that cared more about college basketball than football, so I didn’t care that my school didn’t have football. I attended a few Georgia Tech games and had a great time at those, but that was it. Choosing a small university was the right path for me for college, and football was nowhere on my radar.

Truthfully, football was nowhere on my radar when I was looking at graduate programs, but I happened to land at the best SEC school ever when the football team is exceeding expectations on the field, and I am all about owning my affiliation with the university. I am drinking the Kool Aid/Party Punch and am ready to spell geaux with an “eaux,” wear purple and gold, and be rowdy for good measure. 

Tomorrow’s LSU vs Alabama game is ESPN’s College Gameday game, and I made sure I wore my LSU cardigan and LSU infinity scarf to get a photo op with the Gameday desk. I was so early that I didn’t even have to wait in line to do it. I should have remembered my monogrammed hair bow. As I asked on Facebook a few weeks ago, one can’t be a bandwagon fan if it’s her school...right?

Anyway, I am looking forward to writing tomorrow’s blog post before we tailgate all day.  Whether we make it inside Death Valley is still TBD, but there will be plenty of fun to be had at the tailgates regardless of what happens with our ticket situation. 

Geaux Tigers .

Something that made today great:
Time I woke up: 6:55 am

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Day 19

What a great Thursday! I was busy and productive at work, and I made myself go to the UREC for some hills on the treadmill before I went home.  I have a 50 mile race in January, and it’s not one of those fast and flat courses that I love to run. This race is going to require significant hill training, and Baton Rouge simply cannot offer me the elevation changes I need to train properly. After missing my PR at Silver Comet, I have regained some of my respect for training. I knew it was necessary the whole time, but I need to be more serious about my goals going forward. So, I hit the treadmill for 1000 feet of elevation change, and I accomplished my goal with a respectable pace. I think I’m going to have to do some long runs on the treadmill, which means long days at the UREC in the next few weeks. But it’ll be worth it. 

Conveniently, one of the GOATS, Preacher, is in Baton Rouge for a conference, and we met up tonight for some brews and chat about trail fun in the coming months. I’m only signed up for races through January, but there are opportunities for ultra racing in Louisiana every month from now until April. I loved catching up, including rehashing some of our favorite moments from Leadville, and I’m even more excited for my running future than I was coming off of the Silver Comet Marathon on Sunday. There is absolutely a snowball effect that comes from talking with other runners, signing up for more races, and looking ahead to the next ridiculous challenge. I’m so glad this running life chose me. 

Tomorrow is Friday, and we are heading into the weekend with excitement about the Alabama game on Saturday. I of course have plenty of reading and preparations to handle for school, but I’ll reserve those for Friday and Sunday. (I think this means we are actually finding a routine here, and I like it.)

If you ate an acai bowl and didn't photograph it, did you really eat an açaí bowl?

Something that made today great: eating an acai bowl and catching up with an LSMSA alumnus in the student union
Time I woke up: 7:16 am

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Day 20

I don't dress up for Halloween every year, but this year I got in my head that I wanted to be Wonder Woman, and I wanted Scooter to have a Wonder Woman costume as well. I had no real reason to want to be Wonder Woman for Halloween--I haven't seen the new movie or even the old cartoons--but for some reason, the thought was stuck in my head. I actually think my interest had more to do with that time Summer dressed up as Wonder Woman in the OC, as I. Love. The. OC. (Note to self: I need to rewatch that episode ASAP.) More times than not, I achieve what I set my mind to, and with the ease of Amazon Prime, I conquered this spooky objective.

Photo from https://twitter.com/theocseries/status/371829272358301696
Anyway, what happened when my costume showed up is that I didn't look as good as Summer OR the photoshopped model on the package when I put the costume on, and I was slightly disappointed by that. I run marathons! I should have a rockin' body for whatever Halloween costume I want! It's not fairrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I wrote earlier this week about how pleased I was when my low expectations were exceeded by the bathrooms at Stuckey's, but I am glad I did not have super high expectations for this costume because there were certainly some differences between the photo and what I received. For one, that skirt isn't even the real skirt that came with the costume. Also, the gauntlets (arm pieces) are totally not tapered like the ones in the picture. Mine are regular old tubes with the same diameter throughout. Finally, the top did not have nearly the same effect on my chest. It wasn't a total bust like some Pinterest fails or horrendous Wish orders gone awry that I've seen on other posts, but I don't think I fooled anyone into thinking I am an actual superhero. For a Halloween costume ordered from the internet, though, I did just fine. Plus, my dog and I matched for Halloween, and that's worth its weight in gold.

Here are some fun photos from our day!

Something that made today great: Taking family Halloween photos
Time I woke up: 7:15 I think. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Day 21

Scooter is fascinated by the contents of our trash can, and I have about had enough of her shenanigans. Today, she spread her mischief to our kitchen counter and turned a sponge into a chew toy. Not cool, pupperoni. Not cool at all. 

A ritual at our house on most weeknights is for Richard and Scooter to go on to bed while I stay up and read or do homework. Usually, Richard and Scooter fall asleep, and Scooter makes a warm spot on the bed for me. Then, when I come to bed, I put Scooter in her crate and have a partially warm place to sleep. On nights when I have done enough school stuff for the day, we all hang out on the bed (which is so much more comfortable now that we have a king size bed) until it’s time for Scooter to go in her crate. 

Tonight, Richard stayed up a little later because he doesn’t have work tomorrow, and I finished my homework a little earlier thanks to being out of class earlier tonight. That meant we got to play on our phones together on the bed. I hugged Scooter and said to Richard, “I love Scooter,” and he turned to me and said, “Yeah, she’s the best, even if she ate a sponge and is going to poop it out soon.”

This is the kind of “I would love ______ even if _____” stuff I would have never imagined saying, but here we are. I guess we will have more of these in the future as our time as dog parents progresses. 

Something that made today great: Five miles around the LSU lakes with Jennie! 
Time I woke up: 8:14 am

Monday, October 29, 2018

Day 22

Since my extended family lives in North Carolina, most of the holidays of my childhood involved a road trip. I learned a lot from those car rides, particularly with my dad, who obsessed over time and got a little thrill when we made a particularly fast stop for food, gas, and the bathroom. As I have been in Louisiana since I graduated from college, I have continued to make my fair share of road trips. On my most legendary trips, I go to the bathroom, get gas, and hit a drive thru on my way out, and that is my only stop between Louisiana and Georgia. I completely blame my dad for this, but it’s also a point of pride. I fear that someday my bladder will no longer be such a steel trap, and my most legendary trips will involved two stops...but that day is not today. 

Family road trips also introduced me to the joys of rest areas by the interstate. It’s hard to beat the convenience of a clean bathroom right off of the interstate (no traffic lights) and a series of drink and snack machines for any non-meal cravings. I particularly enjoy a state welcome center with friendly staff members and hot coffee, although stopping for those amenities cuts into valuable travel time. On the other hand, picking a gas station bathroom can be a crapshoot (no pun intended) if you’re not near a place that is famous for its clean restrooms. (Buc-ee’s, anyone?) 

Today, I selected a Stuckey’s in Mississippi for my gas/bathroom/food stop, and my expectations for the bathroom were not high. I’d been to other Stuckey’s locations before and didn’t remember them being particularly clean or unclean, but the station itself didn’t look modern or fancy. Yet when I opened the bathroom door, it was not the sad single stall situation I expected. In fact, the bathroom was both bigger and cleaner than anticipated, and I was pleased. I took a few moments of my valuable travel time to browse the Stuckey’s brand goodies and left with a box of peanut brittle and a bag of bullseyes, and I wish now that I had bought some fudge. What a surprisingly pleasant stop!

I think I have touched on being surprised when my expectations were exceeded in another blog post, which surprises me a little because I don’t make it my rule in life to aim low. Stuckey’s has long been a part of road trip culture, but its status and services have changed over the years. One blog I read lamented that the true Stuckey’s sold out to a corporation, and what we experience today is not the real deal. (Isn’t that how it always goes?) Nevertheless, I was pleased to find clean bathrooms and good snacks at a Stuckey’s today, and while it takes a little more time than a rest area, it’s worth it for the peanut brittle if nothing else. So, if you’re road tripping and aren’t near a rest area or a Buc-ee’s—or if you just need some fudge, peanut brittle, or a pecan log—go on and give Stuckey’s a try. 

Something that made today great: Being reunited with Richard and Scooter!
Time I woke up: 8:30 am (eastern)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Day 23

For the first time ever, I have been at home to recover from a marathon, and I must say that I think there's something to that whole strategy. I didn't attempt to run today, but my legs feel great for walking and existing, which is not always the case after a big race!

Taking the rest of yesterday pretty easy was a good choice, and there's something to be said for sleeping late (nearly noon, though there was a time difference between Georgia and Louisiana), but it sure was nice to have a big home-cooked lunch and take an extra day off, too. Leah and I did some homework, then my mom and I went to the mall for some light shopping and smoothie drinking. It's possible that I would have the same effects if I was at home but my mom came and cooked a big lunch for me; maybe I will see if I can get my mom to visit so we can test that out some other time. I pretty much take any excuse for a good home-cooked meal that I didn't have to cook myself.

Tomorrow I'll make the journey back to Baton Rouge and jump right back into the class routine, but I am okay with that because it also means I'll be able to see my best husband and our favorite dog. The time away has been good, and I had plenty of fun, but my regular grind isn't so bad either. For that, I am thankful.

Have a great week, friends!

I wanted to post a selfie of my mom and me with our smoothies, but she didn't like how she looked, so here's half of a selfie of my mom and me with our smoothies.

Something that made today great: Drinking mango smoothies with Big Suz in the Mount Berry Square Mall food court
Time I woke up: 11:35 am

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Day 24

Marathon season kicked off for me today at the Silver Comet Marathon in Mableton, Georgia, which happens to take place on the Silver Comet Trail. The trail was absolutely beautiful, and the temperatures were perfect for a late October race. The cutoff advertised for the race was 5.5 hours, which would be a personal record (PR) for me, and one that I have been trying to beat for a little while now. But, today was not that day. (Fortunately, the race director kept the course open for 6 hours.) Every day can't be the best race day, but it does make me appreciate the good days even more. Also, even on race days that aren't the best, it's pretty wonderful to be able to get out and do healthy things like run a marathon on a beautiful trail with a friend and talk about life. Also, I’m proud of my friend Mary Lynn for finishing her first half marathon today!

I was super excited about today's race because I had been missing the camaraderie of running with my friend Catherine, and we were wearing our awesome new running dresses. Unfortunately, after a promising first half, I wore down fast. I went in with a plan for the race, but that was thwarted about a third of the way the through the race when the mile markers disappeared. I expected today's race to be small with little to no crowd support--I have run marathons basically alone before--but I also expected mile markers, and they were not there for me. I didn't realize how motivating it can be to see a sign every mile, but it definitely wasn't good for my mental state to have no confirmation that I was as far along the route as my watch said I was. The course was mostly out-and-back, but when we hit the turnaround, our watches had us around mile 13. When we asked where the heck we were, the volunteers told us we should be around 14.8 miles. 

As it turns out, we had missed a small out-and-back section totaling 1.8 miles. We only had to do it once on the course, so we made it up on the way back, but we were mad about it the whole time. Although there were no mile markers or signs, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by friendly volunteers at the turnaround. I made sure to describe the lack of signage as "bad" whenever I could for the remainder of the race.

Despite the excellent weather and my training at lower heart rates toward the end of my training cycle, my heart rate rose in the second half of the race, and I struggled for a bit. Catherine was a patient and lovely race partner through it all, including when I wanted to walk from miles 18.5-20. (It was a fast walk, though!) 

During the last five miles, when I started doing calculations to estimate our finish time, I came to the realization that we were likely to finish under 5:50 but definitely under six hours. As recently as two years ago during the Marine Corps Marathon, I had not run a marathon under 6:00, and I missed that by more than 11 minutes, due largely to unusual temperatures around Washington DC that weekend. Now, I have run my last few marathons under 6 hours as a normal occurrence. It was humbling to consider the progress I have made in the last few years. If I stick to it (and possibly try a little harder), I will eventually run that 5:30 marathon I have been chasing...and then I'll set a new goal. For now, though, it's good to celebrate my progress in the past few years and enjoy the fact that I can even participate in this incredible sport.

In the end, we finished the marathon under 5:48, making this my third fastest marathon to date. (Also, it's my fastest marathon on a trail, though this was a paved trail.) That's not too shabby! The shirt is super soft, the medal is neat, and the race was generally good other than the unmarked miles and out-and-back section. I would do this race again if I happened to be in the area around race weekend some other year.

Something that made today great: Catching up with Jake after my first race of the season!
Time I woke up: 5:16 am

Friday, October 26, 2018

Day 25

I spent the day with my mom because it was her birthday, and we had a pretty fun day! We had a leisurely morning of drinking coffee and playing on our phones, then we had lunch, went shopping, and went out for dinner. It's nice to be able to celebrate with my best mom over a tasty meal. 

Now, I'm full of good food and ready to take on my race in the morning. I have to be up and on the road early, so I'm going to cut this short because (a) I have little to say and (b) I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow should be a good day for blog writing!

Something that made today great: Rediscovering Kit Kats...they are a pretty delicious candy. I've been a Snickers girl for a while, but Kit Kats are good too. Bring on Halloween!
Time I woke up: 9:23 am (which is 8:23 am central!)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Day 26

I'm not sure I have come out and stated this explicitly on my blog, but in case my interest in having an excellent planner, adoration for office supplies, excitement about doing well in school, and love for knitting weren't obvious indicators...I am a nerd. I am especially interested in business leaders and the way they live their lives. In recent years, I have read Clarence Saunders and the Founding of Piggly Wiggly: The Rise & Fall of a Memphis Maverick and The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: The Amazing Story of How America Lost Its Mind Over a Plush Toy--and the Eccentric Genius Behind It for fun, and I loved both books. Although I don't aspire to follow their trajectories, there is something about businesspeople and their life stories that makes me want to understand their paths. Perhaps I am interested in their leadership styles and want to learn from what they did well while also recognizing some of their choices that could have been better. Leadership is an important component of my field.

Today, that nerdy interest spread over to my podcast listening. When I lived in Natchitoches, I rarely carried my phone on runs, and I didn't listen to music most of the times I went running, either. After I started working at Centenary in July 2016 and had access to a treadmill, however, I decided to start listening to podcasts while I trained, something I do now if I am training on a treadmill or running by myself for more than five miles or so. Then, the podcasts spread to my kitchen and my car.

My car doesn't have an AUX port, but I recently bought a radio adapter for my car, and now it's all podcasts all the time. Today, while I was driving from Louisiana to Georgia, I listened to a couple of different podcasts, including a new one called "Household Name." It's not exactly about the people behind the businesses that are household names--although they are sometimes featured--but being able to learn mostly unknown stories about these companies absolutely drew me in. Some people binge-watch entire seasons of TV shows--and sometimes I do that--but apparently, binge-listening is also a thing. 

Image result for household name podcast
Image from the podcast's website on Stitcher

I listened to most of the episodes that were posted (the podcast has only been going for a few months), and I was fascinated by some of the stories about familiar brands that most people probably have no idea about. "Household Name" tackled the Mattress Firm conspiracy theory (I'm still not sure about Mattress Firm...), visited the last Blockbuster stores in Alaska (and explained why they were able to hang on for a few extra years in Alaska), told the story of Charles Shaw (the man whose name is behind Two Buck Chuck wine from Trader Joe's), and even discussed the sexy origins of TGI Friday's (hint: it hasn't always been a family-friendly chain restaurant). I have a few more episodes to listen to, but I will soon have to wait for one release at a time, and I'm not looking forward to that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other podcasts to listen to, but I will definitely be waiting for the next episode of "Household Name."

Something that made today great: Home-cooked family dinner with my mom and Leah. YUM!
Time I woke up: 5:23 am...then again at 8:32. I really shouldn't have gone back to bed after I took a shower.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Day 27

Here’s something new: a blog post before dinner! 

Today, at Girls on the Run practice, we talked about strategies for dealing with peer pressure. There were several steps involved, and we eventually created hand motions to help the girls remember each step. Before responding, the girls were encouraged to stop and breathe, and we practiced those steps first. One girl, J, was not taking her deep breaths with us, and our staff member from Big Buddy (the after school program) said “Hey J, remember to breathe!”

J quickly responded! “I don’t need to remember. I’m already breathing.”

Well, she wasn’t wrong. I couldn’t help but laugh at her blunt response; not everyone remembers to breathe when faced with a stressful or difficult scenario, especially when they need to respond quickly. 

For our workout, we played a sort of tag game while we ran laps, and let me tell you that chasing third graders will wear you down faster than you realize. Several of the coaches ran in the opposite direction of the team and would tag and freeze the girls. To unfreeze, they had to respond to a scenario we gave them using the steps we talked about and practiced. I thought they hated the game, but they begged to keep playing when we said they could just run. So, we mixed it up and allowed some of the girls to tag the coaches and give scenarios to respond to. (They were almost all about cheating on a test or stealing various items.) The exercise was a success, and I even logged 1.6 miles doing it!

I think it’s fair to say they enjoyed today’s lesson, and I have had a good refresher course for next time my friend tries to get me to steal a candy bar from the store or skip school when we have a test. What a blessing to be reminded of these important lessons myself as I help guide these precious, wonderful girls. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Day 28

I’m not sure I fully agree with the idea that people can be “too blessed to be stressed.” I understand where the statement comes from as far as religion goes, and I do believe that God is faithful, but I think a little bit of stress is natural and can be good for actually appreciating our blessings. At the least, that is what I am telling myself this week, because my week got off to a bit of a rocky start. 

Yesterday was a little rough. I allowed myself to get overwhelmed with school and life, and it was not my greatest day. It wasn’t particularly bad, but I’m so used to having mostly good days that I was caught off guard. It didn’t help that I wasn’t feeling 100% like myself physically, but I did go for a 5 mile run with Jennie before class, and I got my second midterm back only to find out that I crushed it. As quickly as the good feelings and excitement appeared, however, they fled. I came home and was stressed out about my statistics project, which was a big deal last night but is neither here nor there now because I did my best and submitted the project. My stress level changes about as quickly as the weather in Louisiana lately. 

Richard was gone to Ruston for a few days, so we decided to send Scooter to camp/boarding to give me the time I needed to focus on school and prepare for Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday are my longest school days, and no matter how much I do over the weekend or even the week before (which was less than average this weekend), I still end up staying up late to do work on Monday nights. Last night, I was stressed out and at home by myself. I didn’t realize how much I would miss Scooter! She makes life more difficult sometimes (why did she feel the need to chew up several of Wesley’s leftover birthday candles?) but she sure is cute and comforting the majority of the time. 

Today was a better day all around...except maybe that I didn’t run, but it’s okay to rest during race week. I’ve submitted everything that is due this week, my husband and dog are both under the same roof as I am, and I am going to be asleep earlier tonight than I have been lately. I can’t complain about that! Plus, I have family time and race day to look forward to at the end of this week. Life really is so, so good, even if I let myself forget that I am “too blessed to be stressed” sometimes; the key is not forgetting forever. Also, here’s a reminder from a Thoughts of Dog if you had a tough day. 

Something that made today great: Title IX office lunch date for burgers!
Time I woke up: 8:23 am 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Day 29

I have a statistics project that is due tomorrow night, and I was super proud of myself heading into the weekend because I thought I had a great project that I was practically done with before the weekend even started. My first attempt on Thursday night was a little too complicated, so I started over with a simpler project using the same data. Before the football game Saturday, I worked on it, and I was feeling good.

Then, last night, I hit a snag. I thought I'd recovered from it, but when I sat down to work on it tonight, I couldn't recover. So here I am, starting over for the third time. I should have kept the whole thing simple this entire time. Alas.

I'm off to try to get this thing right on the third attempt. Fortunately, I have around a 100% rate of eventually figuring this stuff out...but I don't know how late I can stay up tonight. Maybe I'll have more time to think about a blog post tomorrow.

Cartoon from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/absolutely-maybe/statistical-significance-and-its-part-in-science-downfalls/ 

Something that made today great: I did well on my midterm that was returned to me in class today.
Time I woke up: 7:00?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Day 30

What a great weekend! We had so much fun hosting visitors and participating in LSU homecoming. Other than the football game, some highlights included beating my nephew Jack at Super Mario Kart ("These are potato graphics!" he said, speaking about the 1992 graphics) and acting like whiny middle schoolers after being inspired by this video.  Unfortunately, the weekend does not last forever, and I am now doing my typical Sunday night routine of getting ready for the week's work. I had to pause to make sure I published something on the blog since I've been at this for ten weeks now. Woah, baby.

This will be a short week for work, so my work days will be longer. I'm heading to Georgia on Thursday to celebrate my mom's birthday on Friday, then race day is Saturday! The first marathon of the season is always accompanied by some pre-race jitters, and I'm feeling the excitement for the Silver Comet Marathon already. Like how there's always still a lot of game left in football, however, there's still a lot of week left before I can shift my mind to traveling and running.

I've started a weekly study meeting with one of my classmates (next week we're trying Skype/FaceTime...we will see how that goes) which is really helping me stay on track for working through statistics problems from our book. I am so glad to be more organized and in the groove of things than I was a month ago, because I can tell a difference in how I feel for sure. On Wednesday evening, I will be able to register for my spring and summer classes. I have my spring schedule figured out, but I am still unsure about what I want to take over the summer. 

Here's to a great week for everyone! Let's all make good choices this week.

Whiny middle schooler pose outside of our brunch location, Portobello's, before they left
Something that made today great: Delicious brunch with the family before they headed back to Houston
Time I woke up: 9:10 am

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Day 31

Homecoming was a blast, and I had a wonderful time, but it’s no wonder serious football fans get tired. I had a moderate day as far as parties and celebrations go, and I am ready to get my sleep on.  I can’t imagine how people who eat and party all day before, during, and after a game have enough time to recover and get back to their regular lives within a day or two. Whew. (Then again, maybe being a serious football fan is what people consider their life’s work to be.)

Since I’m tired, I won’t say much, but I will say that I had a great time seeing old friends, cheering on my favorite SEC institution in football, and spending time with my dreamy husband. Also, despite the fact that it rained during the football game this evening, the chance of rain in Death Valley remains as it has always been: NEVER!!! so please stay away with any “I thought it never rained in a Death Valley” comments. 

Something that made today great: I rode a pretend tiger! It had a sign on it that said “At your own risk!” and I rode without falling off.
Time I woke up: 7:56 am

Friday, October 19, 2018

Day 32

Some rad things that made my Friday fabulous, in no particular order:

1. Running 5 miles during lunch with Jennie...
2. ...and ending up on the Parade Ground for LSU’s Fall Fest (food and fun!)
3. Chatting with my statistics professor and receiving confirmation that I am on the right track with my project that is due next week
4. Being gifted tickets for tomorrow’s homecoming game
5. The arrival of our weekend guests 
6. Not getting an awful sunburn while running and going to fall fest (though I did get a little one and must endeavor to do better)
7. Richard and Scooter came to visit me at work!
8. Finding out that there’s another graduate assistant in my building  
9. Learning that Richard passed his board exam, which is awesome! I am so proud of him. 
10. Celebrating Richard’s latest achievement with a lovely little bottle of champagne 
11. Having a pretty tasty cup of coffee this morning
12. Singing and dancing to “Callin’ Baton Rouge” in our ombudsperson’s office while trying to convince her to go to the football game tomorrow (despite my excellent singing and dancing, she declined)
13. Finally trying ice cream from the Dairy Store
14. Having a meal in our dining area with guests for the first time

There’s probably more, but I am tired, and I don’t want to seem like I am bragging. I am, however, proud to report that I had a fabulous day. 

Something that made today great: Having friends and family to do life and celebrate with is pretty wonderful
Time I woke up: 7:32 am

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Day 33

I can say with confidence that I have fewer bad days and ugly moments than the average person. Some of that is probably due to dumb luck, but I attribute much of it to trying really hard to have an attitude of gratitude like we talked about at Girls on the Run practice. That said, nobody is immune to the occasional ugly moment, and I had one that took me by surprise when it happened to me on Sunday. I have debated whether or not to include it on my blog; on one hand, writing a blog was a challenge I started for myself, not for others, but on the other hand, there are a lot of misconceptions about others' lives and how things are going for them based on the content of their social media, and while I don't think anyone envies my lifestyle, I'm not one to broadcast the less desirable events in my life. So, I decided to share because I thought my experience might make someone feel more human.

A little background: Richard and I agreed that after he finished residency, we would leave Shreveport. Specifically, we would go to North Carolina, because that is where most of my family is, and I had been trying to get closer to them since before I even knew Richard. I'd made a plan to earn my Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, mostly because they had the best program in the state, but at least a little smidge because I'd been a Wolfpack fan my whole life, and it'd be cool to have my own degree from there. The backup plan if NCSU didn't work out was to apply to East Carolina University or UNC Wilmington, but we were definitely going to North Carolina.

Last Thanksgiving, Kathy told me she would pay the $50 application fee if I would just apply to LSU, so I went ahead and submitted the application. With some minor tweaks to the personal statement and CV, I made a convincing case that I wanted to be an LSU tiger.

Fast forward a few months, and I left NC State's Recruitment Weekend thinking I just needed to wait for my acceptance letter; the deal was just about sealed, and I was well on my way to achieving a dream that had been in the works for a few years. I had studied for the GRE and done well. My recommendations were clear that I was a good human being who was ready for the program. My personal statement told my story in a clear and convincing way, and I'd had several interviews for assistantships that I would love, no matter where I ended up. Things were going the way they were supposed to go.

But two weeks after Recruitment Weekend, instead of a "Welcome to the Wolfpack!" type of letter, I got a short and not-so-sweet (to me) letter from the Graduate School that said they were unable to offer me admission because the faculty of my program did not recommend me for admission. I lived in a quiet sort of denial for the first 24 hours and only told a few people who were very close to me. Part of me didn't believe it, and most of me didn't want to believe it. But it was the hand I had been dealt.

The next day, I shared the news with the rest of the world, because I had broadcasted my excitement for the future, hopefully at NC State, all over social media, so I figured I had to share the outcome sometime. People were supportive, as expected, but I definitely had an ugly moment that day too. What I remember most vividly is sobbing and howling like a wolf in my car before driving home from work that day. I blew snot all over my raincoat between bouts of loud, ugly cries and floods of tears. It was an ugly moment.

After that day, with the help of plenty of friends and loved ones, I refocused my efforts to try to figure out what in the heck was going to happen next. Richard had been waiting for a destination before he could start applying for jobs, and suddenly I wasn't sure if I even wanted anything to do with the state of North Carolina after this unpleasant incident. I didn't want to fill out more applications, pay more fees, or ask for more letters of recommendation, and I certainly didn't want to tweak my personal statements again. I was crestfallen and had little energy to think about any sort of next steps. I had already signed up to attend LSU's Interview Weekend, which was before deadlines for ECU or UNCW, so I decided to pour my energy into preparing to give LSU my best shot. I was admitted to the program, but I wanted an assistantship to cover the cost of my attendance.

We all know how and where the story ends, of course, but what some people might not know is that I spent a week preparing for interviews, anticipating questions, and listening to songs about Baton Rouge and LSU. Richard's dad loaned me a CD of songs about LSU called "Hey Fighting Tigers," and I played that thing until I knew most of the words to the "Billy Cannon" song.

Anyway, that was a lot of setup to get to my ugly moment, but on Sunday, I was talking with my mom about Christmas plans, and it was starting to seem like nothing was going to fit together between Richard's schedule, and I swear my mouth opened before my brain knew what was saying. I said to my mom,

"I wish I could be around everyone more often. This is just another problem that wouldn't exist if I hadn't failed to get in to NC State." 

My mom stayed quiet on the other end of the line. I think my jaw dropped a little when my brain caught up and I realized what I said. After a successful few months of moving to our wonderful home, getting used to my job, and learning to navigate my classes, the last thing I have felt like is a failure. I regularly tell people how much I love LSU and living in Baton Rouge, and it's all true. I hadn't thought about NC State in months before I said such a horrible, ugly thing about myself. (Okay that was kind of a lie...I did see that NCSU is having a good football season. But I haven't been thinking about their Higher Education Administration program.)

When I worked with the sororities at Centenary, I would tell our potential new members (PNMs) not to share their preference ranks with other people, because it could be awkward if they ended up in their second choice sorority, even if it was meant to be and ended up being the perfect fit. I probably should have heeded my own advice as I went through the graduate school admissions process, but I tend to go all-in on things. I can say for sure that I ended up in the best place for me, and LSU is the perfect fit. I'll share that story with anyone who needs to hear it, although when I was faced with my terrible disappointment, I didn't care to hear about how people's second, third, or even twelfth choice path turned out to be the right thing in the end.

What I wanted to say most with this post, which has now turned in to the saga of my graduate school admission process, is that it's okay to have ugly moments, and it's also okay to let other people see those ugly moments. Perhaps allowing ourselves to share those unpleasant thoughts helps us overcome them so they won't continue to creep in. I certainly haven't let those moments define me. In fact, I am having a particularly awesome week that only looks like it will get better as we cruise into LSU's homecoming weekend and we will be hosting one of my favorite sisters-in-law and two of my favorite nephews. I think I squashed those negative thoughts for now.

Meme courtesy of https://imgflip.com/i/1ezyuc
Something that made today great: I had an ice cream sundae in an edible waffle cone for lunch.
Time I woke up: 7:57 am (nearly 9 hours of sleep last night, too!)