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I’ve been struggling lately, and when that happens my first reaction is to be really hard on myself. Which leads to me feeling generally inadequate; then questioning what I’m doing and why I’m so hard on myself;  and then finally telling myself that I should be hard on myself because that’s the only way I’ll get better. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Now I’m thinking that this cycle is pointless (and the result of too much overthinking). While it’s great to evaluate yourself and make improvements based on those evaluations, sometimes you just have to back up and be thankful, and give yourself permission to be okay with where you are now.

So today, I’m not thinking about where I should be. I’m being thankful for where I am now. Hope you are too. xo

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The windows are open, the breeze is stirring, and the anxiously-anticipated summer is creeping into my household. Being that it’s the first summer in three years that I’m not sidetracked by schoolwork, I thought I’d take a quick break from the scheduled Asia-recap programming to share my summer to-do list.

  • Have a picnic (Crossed off today, above, in the field outside a local high school. I felt like I was 16 again!)
  • Go paddle boarding
  • Eat at a food truck
  • Listen to this album on repeat
  • Eat dinner in my backyard at least once a week
  • Catch a fish
  • Eat tomato sandwiches with tomatoes from my garden (thanks to this wonderful woman, of course!)
  • Take bike rides outside
  • Dance at an outdoor concert
  • Take evening walks with my husband
  • Watch this documentary and read this book
  • And, as always, lie on the beach as much as possible

What’s on your to-do list this summer? xo

 

Months of determination and days of stomach-knotted nerves take time to come undone. When I crossed the start line Saturday, the emotions were welling up inside of me. Just the sight of my Dad’s proud smile, all the way across a corral full of people, was enough to put tears in my eyes. There was so much anticipation, so much build-up, so much shock and pride and hope at what was to come that I feared I wouldn’t have the focus to take on the task at hand. I had to mentally separate myself from the emotion of the marathon in order to take on the physical part of it.

It probably seems silly, feeling that emotional about a race. But for me, it wasn’t just a race but the culmination of a goal 15 years in the making, from when I took the first steps away from being someone who feared running and started to make my way into someone who found refuge in it. Sometime around age 17 I wrote a list of life goals in my journal and hesitated to include the marathon, because I didn’t think it was attainable. I wrote it down anyway, and kept it in the back of my mind in the subsequent decade as I abandoned and returned to running time and time again.

The beginnings of resolve finally crept into my head this fall, with twinges and pangs that said the time is now. I still didn’t trust that I could do it, but I printed out the training program anyway and left it on my desk at work. I told Scott and he, mercifully, was game for the challenge. A few weeks later, and another friend had signed up for the ride. Now there were people to answer to. We had found ourselves a team.

For four and a half months, there were early mornings and late evenings and Saturdays spent with our soles on the road. There was chafing and foam rolling and begrudging rain checks for Friday happy hours. But mostly, there was a camaraderie on our team that made it all seem doable. When it comes down to it, meeting any goal is as simple as breaking that goal down into steps, and then making a decision each day to take the steps to get you there. While it certainly isn’t always easy to take those steps, it’s a lot easier—and even fun—when others are taking them with you. When I was scared for a long run I’d think of it as a long outside catch-up with friends, and then it didn’t seem so scary.

18 weeks go by fast. Suddenly I was standing in my corral line and my parents were there with signs and omigosh, it was really happening. The 13-year-old girl who was among the slowest at field hockey tryouts was about to run a marathon. It took me until mile 4 or 5 to calm down my emotions and get into a rhythm that, along with the hearty spectators and our awesome support team, carried me until mile 25. Then I realized I was really going to make it. Pride swelled, tears came and I started to lose my breath. I was by myself at that point and just wanted to let those emotions go, but I knew I had to keep them in check if I wanted to maintain my pace. I took deep breaths and calmed those emotions again. I forced everything back and crossed the finish line.

Three days later, those emotions are starting to resurface. But now instead of pushing them away I’m sitting with them, reveling them, and enjoying the thrill of accomplishing a lifelong goal.

I could tell you about my nerves, but then I’d just get more nervous. So instead I’m reading this and trying to visualize victory. Wish me luck!!

I know, I know, it isn’t Shalane Flanagan. I’m surprised too. But while it may seem strange to have a piece of ambiguous plastic as a best friend, let me assure you that it’s not what you think. It’s not an extremely large piece of packing material (although I do see the resemblance). It’s also not, as some people have suggested, the stray part from a piece of Ikea furniture, although now that I think of it, there does always seems to be one of those…or at least there is when I’m putting the furniture together.

My new best friend is formally known as a foam roller. You roll your calves/hamstrings/hips/back on it after a workout for a deep (though awkwardly maneuvered) massage that loosens stiff muscles. It feels like screaming hell while you’re doing it, but gives you awesome relief afterward.

So maybe it’s not so much my best friend as my best frenemy. One that I plan on seeing every day until March 17.

This summer, I finished the course work for my MBA and applied for graduation, checking the “does not want to attend graduation ceremonies” since I knew it was months away.  Last month I accepted a new position at a company I’d long admired, doing work that sounds very exciting and a little bit daunting.

Today I learned that the graduation ceremonies for my program are this Sunday. I start my new job on Monday. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is, and I think it’s telling me that my decision to move on was the right one. I sure hope so.

Here’s to a new year and new adventures. xo

Many people start a fitness program as a personal resolution. I was blackmailed. During my sophomore year of high school my older sister (and ride home from school) decided to join the Cross Country team and begged me to do it with her. She said she wanted company but I think she just wanted to make sure she wasn’t the slowest one on the team. I flat-out refused but only held strong for a few weeks, at which point I decided that running had to be better than taking the bus home. I was wrong.

It was miserable those first few weeks. Our coach would give us a route and then set up water stations at a few points in the middle, but my sister and I were always so slow that he’d moved to the next station before we got there. It ended up being just me and her running on our own, struggling to make it during the route around town and then pushing it when we got close to school so the boys’ soccer team would see us at our fastest. Then we’d hop in her Pontiac Sunbird and curse running the whole ride home. If we weren’t so competitive with each other I think we both would’ve quit.

Last week I signed up for my first marathon. It’s been a goal of mine ever since I finished that first Cross Country season and realized what my body could do with regular training. I know the next four months will be a lot of hard work, and I’m nervous about overstressing a body that has been so good to me through so many different exercises (yoga! spinning! half marathons! TRX!) over the past 15 years. But beneath the unavoidable trepidations, I’m mostly just excited to pursue this lifelong goal and see once again how far my body can take me. And I’m thrilled to have my awesome husband and great friend Lisa joining me for the ride. xo

Take a look at the little number that I picked up today! I can’t decide whether I should put it in a hot pink glitter frame or hang it on the wall with a neon sign flashing above it. Or both.

One thing that I plan on doing more now that I’m done with school is read. I still read for fun while I was in school (it helped me decompress better than watching TV), but I gravitated more to fiction books to counteract all the chapters of dry finance and management reading was assigned to me (ugh, if I have to read another management book ever again it will be too soon!). Now that my assigned reading days are over I’ve set a goal for myself to read one non-fiction book for every fiction book I devour. It’ll be my little way of making sure that I keep learning and growing, and that I stay in the habit of studying (albeit at a much more relaxed pace) past graduation. I’m hoping to share a few of my favorite things from every book here, as a way to keep track of my goal.

First up is The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy.  My parents are huge fans of Conroy and have been recommending his books for years! I finally heeded their advice and took The Water is Wide with me when I went to Mexico. I’ve been a believer ever since.

Here are my favorite gems from Lords

I chose my professors at the Institute with discrimination and care, on the basis of their legend in the Corps or the passion and neurosis they brought to the lectern, not on the subject they taught. Early on, I had discovered that I would rather take “Principles of Business Management” taught by an excellent teacher than suffer through “Shakespeare’s Tragedies,” a subject I normally would have enjoyed, with a mediocre one. Nothing bored me more than flaccid, humorless academicians punishing their students with limpid melancholy lectures while they polished up their deadly little monographs on vital subjects like “The Nose Hair of Grendel.”

A great teacher is my adversary, my conqueror, commissioned to chastise me. He leaves me tame and grateful for the new language he has purloined from other kings whose granaries are filled and whose libraries are famous. He tells me that teaching is the art of theft: of knowing what to steal and from whom.

Bad teachers do not touch me; the great ones never leave me. They ride with me during all my days, and I pass on to others what they have imparted to me. I exchange their handy gifts with strangers on trains, and I pretend the gifts are mine. I steal from the great teachers. And the truly wonderful thing about them is they would applaud my theft, laugh at the thought of it, realizing they had taught me their larcenous skills well.

 

You had to decide what was estimable and precious in your life and set out to find it. The objects you valued defined you.

 

What have you been reading lately? If you have any recommendations for fiction or non-fiction books that I should read next, I’d love to hear. xo

A photo of me.

About me

Hi, I'm Pam. I'm a runner, reader and recent MBA grad living in Baltimore with my husband. I work in PR, but I spend my off-hours writing here about my life, which mostly revolves around family, friends, fashion and fitness. Sometimes I throw in the occasional food photo just to make sure you're paying attention.

Contact

For questions or freelance opportunities, contact me at theinspirationfiles {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to hear from you!

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