Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Parks and Rec, Daniel. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. The characters are genuine, the humor is funny without being offensive, and somehow the story is both hilarious and deeply moving. I am not exaggerating when I say that watching this show has changed my life. This show taught me how to love myself and how to love the people around me.

It also gave me a new role model. When I grow up, I want to be just like Leslie Knope.

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Leslie Knope is a wonderful woman who spends her energy trying to make the world a better place for the people around her. She’s kind, she’s supportive, she’s ambitious, and she’s always excited about her next adventure.

I know I’ll never be exactly like Leslie because I don’t have an endless reservoir of bubbliness inside me and I’m definitely not assertive enough to be a leader. But I can be generous and ambitious in my own way.

Recently, I’ve been planning out elaborate parties and making things for the people around me just because. I’ve been crocheting afghans, planning surprise parties, and buying tiny gifts for my friends because I want to see them smile. While I’m still nowhere near Leslie’s level of generosity in the show, I feel like she would be proud of me because instead of focusing on myself, I’m thinking of the people in my life. I’m showing them that I care about them without being ashamed of my love.

I’m also continuing to push myself to try new things every day. I know that I can sometimes get complacent, especially now that I have my degree and a comfortable job. It’s so easy to lose focus sometimes or forget that there are still things to work for. So everyday I remind myself that Leslie never lost focus. Everything she did, she did to reach a goal and that’s how I want to live my life.

As you know, I’m training for a half marathon right now. Lots of people have wished me luck. Others have asked me why I would do this to myself. I’m doing this because I want to be able to say I ran a half marathon. That’s it, that’s the reason I’m working so hard. Sometimes people won’t understand why you’re working for something and Leslie Knope taught me that, despite what they say, you keep going. Don’t give up.

tenorOf course, Leslie does have her faults. Except, instead of being ashamed of her faults she embraces them. Instead of stubbornly ignoring her flaws, she understands that sometimes she needs help and she reaches out to her loved ones for it rather than pretending she’s perfect. Leslie can be controlling, anxious, obsessive, and self-centered, but none of these things make her an unlovable person because she works every day to make sure they don’t define her.

Damn. Talk about #goals, am I right?

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect. I rarely challenge myself because I’m afraid of failing and I never talk about my fears with the people around me because that would mean I’m flawed. For a majority of my life, I’ve equated being flawed with being unlovable.

giphy1Watching Parks and Rec helped me realize that wasn’t the case. Seeing Leslie Knope struggle with her own flaws and still succeed helped me realize that I can still be a good person without being perfect 100 percent of the time.

Basically, what I learned from Leslie Knope is that sometimes it’s better to be remembered as a fun, generous person rather than a perfect human being who can do no wrong. I want my friends and family to think of me and smile or be inspired or just feel warm and fuzzy rather than remember how skilled or smart I am.

When I grow up, I want to be Leslie Knope.

-EMS

 

My Slow Descent into Bro-dom

I have some very, very bad news to share with you today, Daniel. Something terrible has happened to me and I just realized the gravity of the situation earlier this week. I don’t know how this happened, but it has, and it’s time for me to admit it to the world. I must also say farewell to my spare cash and spare time.

This week, I realized I am slowly becoming athletic.

I know you must be very shocked. How could this have happened? I was so careful!

As a child, I took all the necessary precautions to avoid this horrible fate. I cheated on the mile tests in gym class, I waived all of my physical education requirements in high school, and I even went so far as to avoid the outdoors as much as possible.

But I caught it. I caught athleticism and now there’s no turning back.

I just realized my fate this week, but looking back this really started after college. I was looking for new hobbies to fill the void that school had left in my life and I foolishly decided to sign up for a 5k run. After I crossed that finish line, I placed myself on a very slippery slope to being a true bro.

Over the years, my urge to be athletic has come and gone. I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, 12ks, and regretfully one sprint triathlon, but up until this past month it had been very casual. I was a jogger at best, nothing more.

Well last month I ran a 5k and at the end I was given a flyer for a half marathon in October. I don’t know what came over me! Suddenly, I had signed up for it! I had plugged a half marathon into my new Nike training app!

I was training for a half marathon.

*cue dramatic music*

It got even worse this week. This week I ran 3.75 miles as part of my training program and afterwards I felt very tired and sore. I decided something had to be done, so I went to my friend who has been afflicted with bro-dom for some time now and asked for advice. She suggested looking into protein supplements.

Instead of scoffing and telling her I didn’t need anything like that, I agreed. I went out a bought a blender bottle. I’ve purchased samples of protein powder in multiple flavors. I have done a ton of research into runner supplements and the proper way to recover from a long run.

This was the final nail in my coffin, Daniel. I am officially an athlete. I am officially a bro.

Soon things will begin to change. The transformation into a true bro will start. I will start wearing snap-backs and baggy tank tops that show off my arms. I will start lifting weights and planning out my week based on what part of my body I need to work on. I will never again be able to skip leg day.

Let my story be a cautionary tale to all. Never exercise, never go outside, never let a protein shake touch your lips otherwise you will fall victim to the same fate I have. My spare time and spare cash are gone, devoured by my affliction. I will spend my days chasing that next endorphin high and the perfect running form.

There’s no hope for me now, Daniel. All I ask is that you think of me while you’re enjoying a nice movie or video game from the comfort of your own home. While you’re relaxing, I’ll be out there somewhere sampling new athletic supplements and buying fancy runners’ socks.

What a terrible, terrible fate.

-EMS

 

My War Paint

Have you ever been so caught up in your crochet project and horror movie marathon that you forgot you had a blog post to write? Or is that just me? Pretty sure it’s just me.

Anyway, I’ve been torn about what I wanted to write about this week. I want to write about runner’s high and how I’ve FINALLY started truly experiencing it. This week I found myself actually looking forward to my speed run because the feeling after pushing yourself to your limit is fantastic.

I also wanted to write about make-up. I’ve recently slipped down the beauty tutorial hole on YouTube and have been obsessing over stupidly expensive products. It’s strange how much I like make up considering I was such a tomboy when I was younger.

I asked you what I should write about, Daniel. You said I should combine the topics and write about make-up highs. I asked you what that meant and you had no idea.

Well, I’m here to figure out what that means.

When I wake up in the morning, I more often than not feel like crap. I am not a morning person at all. It takes me at least three alarms to find the motivation to get out of bed and I usually spend at least five minutes contemplating calling in sick so I can continue to sleep. I never do, but it’s something that goes through my head every morning.

So how exactly do I shake this crappy feeling before I get on the bus and head to work. I can’t spend the entire day feeling like crap and expect to get anything done, right? Well, that’s where clothes and make up come in.

Now, I feel like most people have the misconception that women wear make up to hide behind it. That we feel like we HAVE to wear it every day or we’ll be considered ugly and worthless. While that might be unfortunately true for some women, for me make up in a hobby rather than a necessity. At this point in my life, I can go out with or without make up and not feel self conscious. It took me a while to get here, but I’m glad I am.

When I wake up in the morning and feel like death warmed over, finding the perfect outfit and doing my make up is relaxing. Basically my make up routine in the morning is five minutes to myself. A time when I can completely focus on myself, my energy, and my mind. What persona do I want to wear today? What color is going to make me smile when I look in the mirror? Those are the questions that go through my head.

I feel like if I had to define the term make up high, it would be this: The feeling of satisfaction one gets are spending time pampering themselves. It’s very similar to the high people experience after doing their nails or getting their hair done or taking a warm bath. It’s a pick-me-up. When I look in the mirror and my lipstick is bright and my eyes look fierce, I feel like I can take on anything. I feel ready to face the world.

Let’s be honest, make up is my motherfucking war paint. I put bright red lipstick and black mascara on when I need to get shit done. I’m leveling up and every morning and I get to decide what form I present to the world and, let’s be honest, this isn’t even my final form.

Well here’s my post. Sorry it went up late and it’s a bit short. I’m also sorry to see you getting so existential, Daniel. Maybe you need some war paint?

-EMS

Running, Meditation, and Being Antisocial

I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying muay thai! Finding an exercise that you enjoy is so important. Exercise can feel like such a chore, so finding an exercise routine that’s fun makes it so much easier to stay active and healthy.

For me, my exercise of choice is running, which is very surprising considering how much I loathed running when I was a kid. I did everything I possibly could to get out of running.

I don’t know if you remember middle school P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class. I understood that it was incorporated into our education to keep us active and healthy, but the actual activities they made us do were awful. We did the pacer test, which is literally running back and forth across the gym to these timed beeps, and the mile test, which was literally us running a path around the school. These activities were boring and I was often sub par at them. As a straight-A student, getting a C on anything was absolutely devastating. No wonder I avoided gym like the plague.

In high school, I managed to get out of gym because I was in the marching band, which at Evergreen was considered a sport. I loved marching band! The activities we did like running and push-ups and marching drills had a purpose. I actually had the opportunity to engage my mind and was never given a failing grade. Marching band was infinitely better than P.E. Unfortunately, the time commitment and unavoidable drama in the marching band was what kept me from pursuing it in college. I wanted to focus on my studies and my writing, so marching band was the first thing to go. I barely exercised at all while in college and never went running. I just wasn’t motivated to go out of my way to exercise.

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Me right before my first 5k

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to give running another go. If you remember my very first post on Seven Degrees of Smudde, Acting on Impulse, I talked about how I decided to sign up for a 5k randomly. Everyone at the animal shelter I was volunteering at was talking about the race and lots of my friends on Facebook were talking about running 5ks and marathons and obstacle courses. I was feeling a little lost after graduating from college so I decided to give it a go.

One day I just started running. I ran everywhere. I ran the track at the gym, I ran the walking paths at the park, I ran the mini-track at the local elementary school. I ran in the sun, I ran in the rain, I ran at night. It became an obsession and I often felt guilty if I skipped a day.  I needed to be ready for my first 5k.

Well the 5k came and went and I still felt the need to run. Running had become an addiction. I needed to do it to feel healthy and productive. If I went too long without running, I would start to feeling groggy and weighed down. I just wouldn’t feel like myself. 

Nowadays, I try to run at least two times a week and go to the gym at least three times a week. I’ve noticed that running can do a number on your knees and ankles so I try to break up my running with other exercises, like the stair stepper or jumping jacks.

I know why I like running so much. Just like you with your muay thai, my runs are my time to get away from the world and focus 100 percent on my body. It helps me clear my head and prepare to tackle big projects, at work or at home. I can also do it at my own pace now and I’m not graded for my abilities, like I was in school. That makes running so much less stressful.

I also like running because running is one of the few activities that I can do completely by myself without seeming weird. People don’t bother me while I’m running.

Let me break it down for you.

If I go to a movie by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I go to dinner by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I sit down on the bus and open my book, people still think it’s okay to talk to me. Same goes for writing at work.

But, when you see someone running with their headphones in, you know not to bother them. They’re doing something important, something impressive, and they should be left alone. If you interrupt them they might lose their pace. No one seems to think that about reading or being by yourself. It’s only while I’m running that people aren’t bothered when I don’t stop to say hello or make small talk.

Call me anti-social, but I also like having a time during the day when I know no one will bother me. Running, to me, is the purest form of me time. A time when I can completely ignore other people, give them the cold shoulder even, and I won’t offend anyone. It’s nice to have that time set aside. It’s nice to know that I can give in to my loner tendencies during my run and no one will start talking behind my back about how rude I am.

I absolutely love running. It’s one of my favorite things.

-EMS

My Quarter Life Crisis

I am a firm believer that brevity is the soul of wit. Most of my writing is short, sweet, and to the point. However, last week’s was a little too short even in my opinion because I didn’t write anything. Technically, I did end up writing something, but I completely missed the deadline therefore I will accept my punishment. I will use my wit to slay brevity and write a post that is 1,800 words or more.

Here we go.

Happy Birthday to Me

To write a long piece you have to pick a big topic and the biggest topic on my mind right now is my age. I turned 25 on Tuesday and have been joking with my coworkers for the last month that I have to gear up for my “quarter life crisis.” Of course it’s silly to think that I was going to have some type of crisis after turning 25. Nothing would change. I would feel exactly the same as I did when I was 24 and even if I was suddenly hit with this gut feeling that something needed to change, I’m young enough that it wouldn’t be entirely impossible. Quarter life crisis, what a silly idea!

Then my birthday actually came around and maybe it wasn’t such a silly idea anymore.

I wouldn’t call it a “crisis” by any means. I didn’t panic or feel trapped or scared, but I did realize that maybe it was time to start thinking about what I wanted to change in my life and where I wanted to go. It was the same level of consideration one would give to a New Year’s resolution, so don’t think I’m about to go out, buy a speed boat, and start dating people ten years younger than me. I don’t have the money for a speed boat and dating 15 year olds isn’t the best idea.

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, I think it was a combination of turning 25 and my newfound obsession with social media celebrity, Big Cat Derek, that prompted this change. Big Cat Derek is the operations manager for the Center for Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) down in Texas and he regularly posts photos and videos of the tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, and bob cats that live at the Center. In one of his videos he was asked what his New Year’s resolution was and he said something along the lines of “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If I want to change something about myself, I just do it.”

His attitude about life is just one of the many reasons I am so obsessed with his social media accounts. That and the adorable noises big cats make.

Big Cat Derek’s statement, coupled with my already existing thoughts about turning 25, spurred me to really start thinking about my goals over the next year. Like I said, this is far from a crisis though so maybe a better way to describe this would be my “Year-Long Birthday Celebration.”

Let’s kick off my 25th year on this planet right.

The Plan

I’m a project manager at heart and by trade. Despite the fact my working title is science writer, I actually do a lot more than writing. I manage websites, coordinate meetings with clients, help plan events, and more. To do so much you need to be organized, which means you need a plan.

I love making plans. I adore spreadsheets, checklists, white boards, and anything else that helps you keep your thoughts in order. So of course I had to make a plan for my Year-Long Birthday Celebration.

The first step in making a plan is identifying your goals. More often than not goals aren’t measurable or actually tangible, they’re more abstract ideas that you would like to make a reality.

My goals for my 25th year are:

Be happier.

I like to think of myself as a happy person. I have a job I love, I’m happily married, I have friends I adore, and I’m financially stable. When I say I want to be happier, what I mean is be happier day-to-day. I want to easily bounce back from stressful days at work, arguments with my husband, or hard financial decisions. Carrying that stuff around with me for days can be exhausting and it’s time to change.

Be healthier.

I would not consider myself a healthy person. Yes, I run three times a week, but there’s more to being healthy than just exercise. I run, but I also skip meals, drink too much coffee, stay up too late, and go to work despite feeling sick. This is something I definitely need to work on and it will help me achieve goal one. Being happy means being healthy.

Be more ambitious.

Ever since I graduated from college I haven’t been as ambitious as I used to be. I kicked ass during my last semester of college, handling a full course load, working part-time, interning with the university communications department, and helping lead an on-campus club. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive and that you can challenge yourself without killing yourself. I want to be more ambitious this coming year, but not at the expense of goals one or two. I’ll need to work on that.

So there’s my motto for the coming year: Be happier. Be healthier. Be more ambitious.

Now, after you figure out your goals next is your actual tactics. Tactics are the measurable parts of your plan, the tangible accomplishments. I can measure my happiness or my ambition, but I can measure the steps I take to get there.

The question is, what steps should I take? I guess it all depends on what makes me happy, healthy, and ambitious.

The Things that Make Me Happy

Lots of things make me happy: reading, writing, crocheting, baking, running. playing video games, and more. However, what I want to focus on is being a happier person in general, not just how to make myself happy for an hour or two. So I have to think bigger, broader. I have to think of things like:

Stop relying on others for the things you want.

Like I said in my post about how being selfish can be selfless, sometimes you have to put yourself first. You can’t be happy if you give all of your happiness to other people. I can talk the talk when it comes to being selfish, but I just can’t seem to walk the walk. What I want to work on this year is doing more things for myself instead of waiting for people to give me things, if that makes sense. To put it in super simple terms if I want some candy, I’m going to go buy myself some candy instead of waiting for someone to decide I deserve candy. I need to start treating myself like I want to be treated.

Be more positive about my life.

It’s okay to complain about your life. If anyone ever tries to tell you to stop complaining or tries to make you feel bad by saying other people have it worse than you, you tell that person to go fuck themselves. Everyone has problems and they all suck. On the other hand being down about your life all the time can be draining and keep you from enjoying the good moments. I want to be a happier person overall so over the next year I’m going to be more mindful of how often I complain. Happier thoughts mean a happier person.

Spoil my friends and family more.

I’ve always been a giver. I like to spoil people and make them feel appreciated, but in the last few years I’ve kind of let that habit slide a bit. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own life and miss birthdays or anniversaries or just forget to show someone you care once in awhile. So I’ve decided over the next year I’m going to be more proactive about making the special people in my life feel special.

The Things that Make Me Healthier

Most people when they come up with the idea to be healthier immediately jump to exercising. I, however, already exercise on a fairly regular basis, so what can I do to be healthier? Maybe things like:

Drink more water during the day and less coffee.

Being dehydrated sucks and it makes functioning throughout the day difficult. Time to start drinking more water.

Go to bed earlier.

I haven’t had a regular bedtime since elementary school and I miss it. I want to feel well rested again.

Eat healthier and more often.

I need to stop skipping meals and eat healthier meals when I do eat. Having a donut for breakfast is okay once in awhile, but man I fall back on that option more than I care to admit.

Expand your exercise routine.

I like to run, but there’s more to the exercising world than running. I want to start lifting weights and trying different types of cardio and now’s the time to start exploring.

The Things that Make Me More Ambitious

As I said earlier being busy doesn’t equal being ambitious. Being ambitious means challenging yourself to go farther and believing that there are better things out there for you, you just have to keep looking. I want to be more ambitious about my career, about my health, and about my life in general. So to feel more ambitious I am going to:

Set running goals for myself.

Right now I can run about 5 miles without stopping. I’d like to continue to push myself and see how far I can go. Who knows, maybe there’s a marathon in my future.

Craft more.

Making things, whether it be crochet, origami, or painting, is a surefire way to feel more productive and maybe spur your creative juices.

Less time online, more time reading.

I waste way too much time on Facebook, Reddit, and Tumblr. I’d like to read more and all the time I waste on the internet would be better spent finishing my reading list.

Try more baking recipes.

I used to hate baking when I was younger. Now that I’m older I find baking to be relaxing and very productive. It falls into the same category as crafting more. It just makes you feel productive.

Look for more avenues to continue my education.

As I said I’m happy with my job, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more out there for me. There are so many doors left for me to open and one way to begin opening doors is to continue my education. And there’s no better time to start than now. I don’t have any children and I work for a university that will give me a tuition discount. Better get on this now before it’s too late!

So there you go, those are my goals for my 25th year on this planet. I’ve spent a quarter of a century on this planet and would like to make some changes now before I’m halfway through this century and actually have a midlife crisis. It’s hard to suddenly realize you want things to change if you’ve been addressing your wants all along. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a Year-Long Birthday Celebration plan every year. Then again, I don’t need to use my birthday as an excuse to make changes so maybe this plan with turn into a living document that changes and updates with me. My own personal constitution.

Wow! Where in the world did my train of thought go? See? This is why I enjoy brief posts, this one turned into a ramble pretty quickly. I started out beautiful a poetic and ended up blabbering about baking an exercise. But there you go Daniel, I used my wit to slay brevity and ended up well over the requested 1,800.

Enjoy reading this 2,000 word post.

-EMS

Acting on Impulse

I’ve never thought of myself as an impulsive person.

When I was a younger I was always very organized and very meticulous about how I used my time. I always had to have at least a week to study for a test and started assignments as soon as I got them. I planned out how many pages I would need to read to finish a book by a certain day and I always had my next book lined up. I was dependent on my planner.

In a way I took pride in being level-headed. People said I was responsible and dependable, which are good traits to have. Right?

Maybe, maybe not.

After I graduated from college my life became a little scattered. I’d spent more than 15 years of my life in school and I was used to it. No more homework, no more studying, no more classes. What was I supposed to do with all this free time?

Right after college I began volunteering at the local animal shelter. I helped with the shelter’s fundraisers, including the shelter’s annual 5k walk/run. I remember I was at the shelter, sitting at my desk and listening to the other volunteers talk about walking at the event. Someone asked me if I was going to register and walk.

I said no. I was going to run.

I was never a runner. I’ve always avoided running as much as I possibly could. I have no idea what came over me that made me decide to run a 5k. I was acting on impulse. Now I run three times a week and have done five more 5ks.

If I had stuck to my “responsible” behavior, I wouldn’t have even considered a 5k unless I had a year or two to train. I couldn’t just do something, I need to prepare. But you know what, if I had waited I probably would’ve never done it and I would have never discovered the joys of running.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that sometimes being “responsible and dependent” is a terrible, terrible thing. Sometimes you just need to act on your impulse.

Today my life is back in one piece. I’m still responsible and dependable, but I listen to the little impulsive voice in the back of my head. Sometimes it has terrible ideas. Sometimes it has awesome ideas.

Some recent ideas it’s had include doing a triathlon, getting a new tattoo, and starting this blog with my brother.

I have no idea where this blog is going to go. Hell, I have no idea how this post is even going to end and that’s wonderful. Sometimes it’s okay not to plan things out completely. Sometimes you just have to do it and don’t waste time worrying.

Sometimes impulse is the way to go.

– EMS