Running (September Lessons)

09055-10-30The first shoes I ever did serious training in. For my first race in 2014 and my first half marathon in 2015. 

It’s back to half marathon training. I have this crazy goal of possibly running 3 half marathons in2018 (in the first year of my 30’s). I’m already signed up for 2 – the Disney World Half Marathon and the Yosemite Half Marathon. Here are some of the things I’m learning while running:

1. Comparing yourself to other is pointless. 
Like running, as well as in life – comparing yourself to others does no good. When I first started running back in 2014 I was worried about running faster than others. But it didn’t make me a better runner, it made me a worse one. I was so in my head that I wouldn’t run well. When I ignored how others were doing and just focused on myself, I ran better! Same in life, comparing yourself to others only makes you feel worse about yourself, you don’t improve yourself.

2. Quitting is not an option
The worst feeling for me is that wall when I feel like I want to give up. But when you’re running outside in the streets you can’t quit. At some point it’s literally impossible to quit. Even if you stop running and start walking you have to walk the same distance back the you just came. I was thinking about that in our world right now that seems so messed up, and how when we hit a wall in fighting against injustice – we just want to quit. We want to give up and stop. But at some point – we can’t quit anymore. More and more each day we are surrounded by terrible things – an orange idiot who can’t stop tweeting, natural disasters we can’t control, selfish people who don’t care about the world around them – but we are in this world surrounded by all of it. As people of privilege, we can’t quit just because things are hard. Things have been hard for so many people long before we even knew the world was bad. I try to remember this as I’m running, in pain, not wanting to finish, but knowing that there is both great relief and great pride in knowing you got up and showed up ready to work.

3. Listen to your body and take care of yourself 
This past week I haven’t been running at all because I’ve been sick. I hate being sick because I can’t do things. I can’t be Wonder Woman or Super Girl and sickness just proves I’m not invincible. So as much as I wanted to run, I had to stay at home and rest. A lot of times I attempt to “do it all” but my body needs things like food, rest, sleep, alone time, time with friends, Jesus, etc. If we are constantly on the go, trying to get work done, and never listening to our bodies when it says stop then we can do it serious damage.

When running there is literally no way to fail. I mean if you’re in the Olympics if you come in 4th you won’t get a medal (but that’s stupid – honestly all marathon runners in the Olympics should get a participation medal and the winners should get an additional gold/silver/bronze medal) but you still win if you finish. You only fail if you quit. I think of the times in our life when we are so afraid of failing, but in reality the main way to “fail” – is to give up.

4. Find someone who inspires you and encourages you 
My runner inspiration is my friend Robyn – she KILLED IT at her latest half marathon race and it’s what got me into running half marathons. She inspires me to be a better runner because her awesome performance made me realize I wanted to get back into running after a six month break. In your life you also need people who inspire you to be a better person. Of course Robyn is that type of person who also inspires to be a better person. Having people like that in your life is important because community is important. It’s important to have friends in your life who inspire you to be better than you are. Even if you don’t know them personally – to have people in your life/in your running journey who push you be better is so important.

5. I honestly run to eat more carbs 
Yep. True story. Nothing more to say about this

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Look Around (August Lessons)

At the end of August I finally saw Hamilton so my lessons this month are colored with the glow of one who has seen such genius and wonder on stage…

hamilton-logo-826x620

1) Hamilton is SO up to the hype. 
I  was nervous, afraid, and worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations but honestly it was all I could imagine and more. I’ve been obsessed with the soundtrack for over a year now and when the show came to LA I didn’t think I’d get to see it. But a miracle came through and we got tickets! It was an amazing show, worth seeing multiple times, and it’s so amazing. Worth all the hype about it.

2) Are we lucky to be living now? 
“Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now. History is happening…” That lyric (among many others) have swirling around in my head. But these days I’m honestly wondering if that’s true for us. I used to think so – with so opportunities, technology – I mean we live in the same time as Lin Manuel himself so how can we not be luck? But our country feels as if it’s falling apart, or perhaps it wasn’t as together as I thought. With Nazis and white supremacists are marching in the street, hurricanes are barreling their way through Texas, and it feels as if injustice reigns. So what are we to do in this time?

3) We resist. We fight. We take a stand again injustice
If Hamilton has taught me anything it’s that the world is complicated and messy but the more we fight with one another, the more we look at people and see enemies rather than neighbors, the more we force definitions like “citizen vs. illegal” or “American vs. immigrant” the less likely we are able to see each other’s humanity. For those like myself who could hide in our privilege and chose not to engage – saying things like “that doesn’t affect me” or “that’s not really my problem” or even “I don’t like to get political.” It’s not about being political but it’s about looking around and having our eyes open to injustice. This is the call for those in privilege to look around and see the humanity of everyone around us first.

 

It’s Just Too Hot (July Lessons)

July went by quickly. I felt like I was in a whirlwind of fundraising, wedding attending, and trying to stay out of the heat. I think it’s too hot for any kind of reflection so this month will be short. I’m sure there are deep lessons from what happened in the month and maybe they’ll come out in August but here are the things I’m thinking about this month:

  • Three weddings in a month sounds fun but is exhausting.
  • The best adventures are often the last minute ones
  • Getting tweeted at by anyone from the High School Musical franchise is actually totally awesome.
  • Summer heat = little sleep
  • Seriously, it’s too hot.
  • How much can I run the AC in a day?
  • It’s worth it to pay for the extra leg room on an airplane
  • Bagel sandwiches are the best breakfast food
  • Game of Thrones is really good.
  • WTF is happening on Game of Thrones?
  • DRAGONS!!!! Gurrrl… you be a dragon!
  • How can I get myself a dragon?

Wonder Woman (June Lessons)

Every month I’ve reflect on the things I learned. As June flew by there seemed to be a recurring theme – Wonder Woman. Not only did I see the movie multiple times but the movie itself stuck with me. Here are the things I learned from Wonder Woman, Amazon, and badass – Diana Prince.

(obviously there will be spoilers, but just go see the movie already). 

1. Ignore those who tell you “it” is impossible.
WONDER WOMANSteve Trevor: This is no man’s land, Diana! It means no man can cross it, alright? This battalion has been here for nearly a year and they’ve barely gained an inch. All right? Because on the other side there are a bunch of Germans pointing machine guns at every square inch of this place. This is not something you can cross. It’s not possible.
Diana Prince: So… what? So we do nothing?
Steve Trevor: No, we are doing something! We are! We just… we can’t save everyone in this war. This is not what we came here to do.
Diana Prince: No. But it’s what I’m going to do.

Whatever “it” may be – someone is going to try to tell you that you can’t do it. Graduate from college, raise a family, get a promotion, write a novel, run a marathon, be healthy, or get through trench of Germans shooting machine guns at you.

From the moment Diana steps into the world outside Themyscira, she has person after person telling her she can’t. She can’t dress like that, she can’t carry a sword in public, she can’t save the world. But when Diana enters “No Man’s Land” she proves that she is no man and she is done with the bull crap of people telling her she can’t. She know she can and so she pulls herself out of the trench and goes straight into the heart of the impossible.

There will always be someone who tells you that “it” is impossible. They may have good motives, wanting to protect your life or your emotions or your heart – they want you to set realistic expectations for yourself. But sometimes you gotta ignore them, steps out that of that trench and kick some ass.

2. Fight for those who cannot defend for themselves.
3099272-screen+shot+2016-07-23+at+2.27.01+pm.png
Diana Prince: I can not stand by while innocent lives are lost!

Our world is exceptionally broken. Just turn on the news and you’ll see images of violence, war, police brutality, racism, injustice, and more. There are so many people who are unable to defend themselves because they are deemed too young, because people refuse to listen to them, because they’ve been pushed to the margins of society. They are the people that we – especially as Christians – have been called to defend. We’ve been called to call out oppression, to fight against injustice, to be advocates for the refugee, the homeless, the helpless, the broken and beaten, the orphan and widow, and those who are  the least. We cannot stand by while innocent lives are taken.

This is difficult because in our world too many innocent lives are being taken daily. From refugees, to police brutality, to the fact that Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water – there are innocent people who need someone that the powers at be will listen to to help defend them. Not that we should embrace white savior mentality (actually far from it). We should use any power and privilege given to us for good, to be advocates, to listen, and to call out instead of using power and privilege for self promotion, success, and to get a leg up.

3. Silence is just a powerful weapon as hatred: 
wwmovie_25.jpgQueen Hippolyta: You know that if you choose to leave, you may never return.
Diana Prince: Who will I be if I stay?

Steve Trevor: My father told me once, he said, “If you see something wrong happening in the world, you can either do nothing, or you can do something”. And I already tried nothing.

We often mistake tweets, sharing articles on Facebook, thinking good thoughts, and even prayer for action. (side note: Prayer is powerful – and it makes a huge difference. I’m not talking about the the constant, crying out to the Lord, passionate prayer. I’m talking about the half-hearted I’ll give you five minutes of my time prayer). We learn and learn but never act.

We sometimes mistake listening and silence. We need to listen to the experiences of the marginalized. Those of us in positions of power and privilege must be quiet and listen to the stories of our brothers and sisters who are in the margins and in the minority. But we are in our places of power and privilege – we must speak out and act against oppression. We must call out the things that wrong and seek to make them right. If we stay silent in the midst of oppression then we can do just as much as if we were the oppressors because we let oppression continue.

4. We chose to be light or darkness 
WONDER WOMANDiana Prince: I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat.

The world isn’t always so black and white. Each of us has light and dark in us. We can be totally selfless, caring, and loving moment but then be selfish, ignorant, and hatful the next. We each chose to listen to the light and dark in ourselves. Some times its clear cut, some times its not. With Wonder Woman set in the midst of World War I – we see that that some things are not clear cut good vs. evil. Some things really are.

At the end of the movie Diana is given a choice to kill Dr. Poison, who planned to release the newly developed mustard gas straight into England. But Diana, knowing this woman probably deserves to die, spares her life. Was it just to let her go? Would it be just to kill someone who was so evil? When we acknowledge the fact we have both light and dark, we may just learn how to steer more towards the light. I think our danger is never acknowleding the darkness in us, because one day it may creep in without us knowing (and haven’t most superhero movies taught us that at someone point? – see Captain America Civil War).

5. Lastly, glasses do not erase you who you are and we can all still tell.
WonderWomanMovieGlasses4Etta Candy: Really, specs? Suddenly she’s not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?

Thank you Etta for pointing out that putting glasses on Wonder Woman  is still just as beautiful and amazing with the glasses. Superman/Clark Kent I’m looking at you. How people don’t recognize you is crazy.

Books of 2017

Each year since 2012 I’ve kept tracked of the books I’ve read. You can see the past five years of books I’ve read starting with 2012, 201320142015, and 2016.

2017 has been the year for audiobooks and biographies. After a slightly disappointing start (where I only read one book from January to April) I decided to borrow audio books from the Los Angeles Public Library. Since then I’ve been on a reading spree. So here are the book I’ve read or listened to this year (and note all except the first were from April on).

Pages I’ve read in 2017 so far: 7,924
Pages I’ve read since 2012: 29,163 (as of Dec. 2016)

  1. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee (272 pages)
  2. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling (240 pages)
  3. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (280 pages)
  4. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (288 pages)
  5. Soar by Joan Bauer (304 pages)
  6. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fischer (163 pages)
  7. Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown (64 pages)
  8. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (32 pages)
  9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (329 pages)
  10. William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher (172 pages)
  11. Legend by Marie Lu (305 pages)
  12. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (731 pages)
  13. Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (336 pages)
  14. Prodigy by Marie Lu (371 pages)
  15. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (275 pages)
  16. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (291 pages)
  17. I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (327 pages)
  18. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles (208 pages)
  19. Girl Walks Into a Bar… Comedy, Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch (248 pages)
  20. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All The Wrong People by Nadia Bolz Webber (224 pages)
  21. The Goldfinch by Donna Tart (771 pages)
  22. Champion by Marie Lu (369 pages)
  23. Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen (109 pages)
  24. A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth (240 pages)
  25. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coats (152 pages)
  26. Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk (144 pages)
  27. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae (224 pages)
  28. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (304 pages)
  29. The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman (151 pages)

Stories: May Lessons

1) Our individual understanding of the world is limited. So we must widen it at every opportunity.  
This month I read I Am Malala. It’s a story of a young girl in Pakistan who spoke out against the Taliban for her right to go to school. As I read her account of how the Taliban treated women in her country (and when I read Persepolis graphic novel) I realized how much we in the US don’t understand things that happen in other countries. We need to be immersing ourselves in the stories of others unlike us (whether that be a young girl from Swat Valley in Pakistan or an black man in the US) – the stories of people frequently silenced – so we have a greater understanding of people, their cultures, their experiences.

2) My experience isn’t the only true experience  
I think this relates to the above lesson. It’s easy for each person to think only their experience is true but that is a very limited view of reality. What I experience is different than women of color, than white men, than men of color. Just because I can’t understand someone else’s experience, doesn’t give me any right to say their story is invalid. Listening is so important because it teaches us to hear the stories of others.

3) I’m very proud to have an education and every girl deserves to have one. 
Living in America, being white, coming from a middle class family – I’ve had a lot of privilege in education. But I believe it is the right of every child to receive an education. The more we are education in math and science the more we can think rationally, solve problems, and invent new things. The more we are educated in history and literature the more we can understand other people’s stories, we listen to others, we think critically, we asks questions. The more we are educated in arts the more we learn to express ourselves, to be creative, to think outside the box, to form friendships, to take risks, to be brave and put yourself out there. I am a better human because of my education and I know now how many girls who are denied them because of their country’s laws, how many young people in poverty are denied them because of a system they didn’t get in, how many immigrants are denied them because of in ability to do well by those who don’t speak our language. This month I’ve felt reaffirmed in my desire and hope to see all those who want to get an education, receive one.

So what can we do? Educate yourself. Here are 3 great books to read about women, poverty, and education. I’ve got a whole blog post I’m working on with more resources that expand a wider area of social justice.

Other ways you can get involved: check out Let Girls Learn, an organization that promote’s education for girls.

Never Say Never

When I ran my first half marathon about two years ago I was pretty sure the last time I would ever do a distance that long. It was hard, it was challenging. Here I am at mile 13 and I may be smiling but I really want to die.

Half Marathon 19

After that I stuck to 5k and 10k distance. A 5k had become easy (ish) – which honestly i thought I would never say in my lifetime and 10k was challenging but I could still walk the next day. I do like the medals that come with a race.

But for my 30th birthday I’ve decided to run another half marathon. At Disney World in Florida! I felt it was time for another challenge in my life and apparently I’m just a bit crazy to still think this is a good idea.

Running Disney races is always fun for me because you get to run through Disneyland (well this one will be at Disney World). My ultimate hope is to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in Fall of 2018 too because then I’d get a fancy “coast to coast” medal where you run a Disney race on each coast. As you can tell – I’ll run for a shinny object.

Here’s to a year of “badassary” and running – having something new and exciting to look forward to for my 30th birthday instead of dreading getting older. Instead of focusing of where my life isn’t or where it should be – I’m taking risks and doing challenges, stepping further into who I am and seeing what comes along the way.

Never say never – you may think you can run a half marathon or write a book or climb a mountain or get that master’s degree or do something equally awesome but you probably can with a ton of work, a good friends to keep you from quitting, a good therapist where you complain about why you started this crazy thing, and something shinny to look forward to at the end.

 

 

Now I just need an awesome hashtag for the Instagram posts.