I was thinking today about this post I’m about to write. And about how my blog is called Preppy Runner, but how I don’t often blog about running any more.
But yet about how running and fitness are so key to my happiness, my soul, my identity. How my face lights up the most when I talk about running, and about how fitness has the power to change your life, how it changed mine. I’m studying for the NASM exam, and that’s been on my mind a lot lately.
(That’s all, just a musing.)
Last week, I said I was embarking on an apartment refresh. I had a really scary panic attack last week, to the point that I almost went to the ER, before calling my doctor and realizing it was just a terrible case of anxiety. (My fave grief author has an upcoming book about grief + anxiety that can not come out soon enough!) Once I took a Klonopin and calmed down, my best friend thrust me into organizing and redecorating my apartment, and my therapist suggested the same thing the next day. I actually moved into my apartment two years ago today, and…obviously a lot has happened in those two years, so I didn’t really decorate much/as much I would have liked to.
And so, I’ve spent a lot of the past week organizing and decorating…and it’s been really fun.
I’m really missing sunny California after last week! It’s been cold and rainy in NYC…and in my heart.
Depression and grief are so incredibly frustrating in that I’m doing everything I can that I know of to help: meds, therapy, exercise, eating well, journaling, etc etc etc…but it just feels like it doesn’t matter and I’ll feel this way forever. Even writing that out, I know that’s not true, but it’s hard to not feel that way often, to be honest.
Before I tell you more about LA, two random questions:
1. Any home refresh tips? Or ideas? 🙂 I’m trying to brighten/freshen up my apartment to make it feel a bit cheerier and to change my surroundings a bit. I moved in here almost two years ago, so save for those four months my mom was in remission, I don’t have many positive memories associated with the physicality of my apartment.
2. Related-ish: any ideas of fun activities or things I can do to disrupt my routine a bit? Hobbies I should take up?
But back to sunny California…
I have some flexibility in my schedule right now, so I decided to tack a few days in LA onto my Sonoma trip. I have a lot of friends in LA now, and it brought me so much peace the last time I was there, I thought it was worth a return trip.
It’s no secret that travel has been a balm to my soul since losing my mom. (In fact, I even wrote an article on grief travel, or a griefcation, as I call it.)
But California’s been particularly good to my soul.
So, facing both my 35th birthday and my first birthday without my mom all in one…I got the hell out of NYC and flew to California with friends.
I love wine (and lamp), so we started the trip in Sonoma. I’d been there for a friend’s wedding almost five years ago now (time is weird, guys, I don’t get how that was five years ago), and I fell in love. Off to wine country it was!
We didn’t get up to wine country until after 1, and so we went straight for a lovely lunch at Farmstead in St. Helena…
Before the big event of the day: a tasting at Domaine Carneros, thanks to my dear friend Blake who knows everyone and got us hooked up!
If you follow me on Instagram stories (or read my last post), you know I have been in a dark place the past few weeks or so.
To be incredibly honest, I felt really hopeless about my current station in life and didn’t see it getting better. I can usually dig deep and see some light; I saw none. Where things *should* have been light, I could only see darkness, and that made me even more frustrated.
For example, we had a Junior League wellness day and there was an incredibly inspiring panel of female wellness entrepreneurs. This should have been my JAM. And it was, sort of. I sat there in awe of these badass women…but immediately went to feeling frustrated I haven’t accomplished more in my own life. One negative thought led to another, and I found myself sitting on my couch an hour later sobbing with my shades down, wrapped in my favorite blanket. I felt like I was dropping the ball on…everything because I couldn’t motivate.
I was feeling so many physical signs too: fatigue, headaches, jaw pain from grinding my teeth, poor digestion.
Finally, frustrated, I made an appointment with my doctor. “You’ve been talking about not feeling [your own level of] functional since before your mom died. You don’t need to feel this way.” And so we made a med change. I hope I don’t have to take an additional med forever, but if it keeps these feelings of...
If I’m being super honest, negative thoughts are something I really struggle with (thank you anxiety and depression!) and am actively trying SUPER hard to work on, especially in the face of 2017 being an incredibly tough year. And it spirals REAL quick. (Here’s an awesome PDF on what they are and how to begin to fight them.)
When I am stressed and overwhelmed (hi, right now), these thoughts come on fast and furious. Like, to the point a few of my good friends have noticed basically to the minute when this happens, and I shut down.
I follow this coach, Susi, online, and bought one of her trainings or memberships a while back, and am in a Facebook group (so many Facebook groups, I’m in…) about mindset journaling. So woo woo, I know…but man if this shit doesn’t work.
I had an interview last week for a gig, and I was TERRIFIED and telling myself all kinds of stories about why I shouldn’t get it. I remembered Susi’s mindset journaling, and Ali’s been doing some mantra stuff on IG on her stories — and I thought about the marathon affirmations Jess told me to do when I was freaking the F out about the race.
(Now obviously this doesn’t work if you’re not also prepared, but…)
I wrote down, “I have the experience and the expertise.” I wrote down all the reasons I could, not all the reasons I couldn’t....
Let’s call this a wine catch-up, shall we? I’m drinking my fave, La Crema Chardonnay, what about you?
If I’m being honest, this week was incredibly tough. I did Christmas with my dad last week, and while I was grateful for him, and gifts, and life, it was so painful doing this after having been through the holiday season. It was so painful to not have my mom there. Then, I had a conversation with a friend about some mom stuff she was going through. I really thought I was as at peace with my mom dying as I could have been when I lost her; this chat brought up a lot of the stuff I wish I’d worked on more in my relationship with her. (Nothing major, honestly/thankfully, just ways that I wish I had handled my end better. That low kind of compounded some of the struggles I’m having as I make my way down my new career path and am just feeling very uncertain about life in general.
After every marathon, my mom bought me a marathon necklace from Erica Sara. At the time, they were special because they were a physical commemoration of an accomplishment. Now, those six necklaces my mom bought me are treasured memories of her watching on the sidelines as my #1 cheerleader, and special memories. She and Erica used to talk every holiday season about just how my...
I made it to 2018!!! For most of 2017, it really didn’t feel like that would ever happen, but here we are 🙂
I’m going to write a few more posts on my trip (for real, I think I always say this and never actually do…but, I am putting a renewed focus on my blog as part of better focusing on what brings me happiness and fulfillment this year) in the coming weeks, but I wanted to say hi and share a few pics. Let me know if there’s anything specifically you’d like to hear more about!
We were in Rio de Janeiro for New Year’s and flew out on New Year’s Day on 6:45am after dancing on Copacabana Beach (yeah, that was a fun flight.) This is a real picture — the sky was legit that pink with the fireworks. We laughed, we danced, and I can’t think of a better way to end a terrible year. And yes, I was excited for an excuse to buy a white Lilly dress.
Peru was my favorite part of the trip, and it’s not just because of the llamas, though that doesn’t hurt.
Though it was actually sunny here…Peru reminded me a bit of Ireland: verdant, lush and moody. We stayed in the town of Ollantaytambo, one of the last remaining Inca cities, and SUCH a cute...
I’m not going to lie, traveling has me totally thrown off with dates. I’m not complaining, I just keep thinking it’s the first week of January when it’s almost the third! Time is weird.
So that means that this goals post is coming to you later than most other bloggers’ but it’s also given me time to think through what my goals are.
I love the idea of a guiding word or two for your year — and I’ve arrived on gentle and focus.
Gentle: I’m so hard on myself in a lot of ways. Watching my mom get diagnosed and die of cancer (in addition to all the other crap that happened to me in 2017) was obviously a lot on me emotionally, so I’m trying really hard to be gentle with myself.
Focus: After spending basically two straight years worrying about and then/now grieving over my mom, I let a lot of my own goals fall to the wayside. I know I can be a little gerbil-like, though — I have so many things I want to do!! — so I am attempting to focus down to a few.
1. Get my personal trainer certification.
Omg, I’m sick of me saying this too — I’ve been saying it for years. But I finally have the test scheduled for late February. I just need to sit my ass down and study, and luckily my BFF is a physical therapy professor, so she’s going to help...
I’ve written ad nauseam about how hard 2017 was for me (and I will likely continue to write about grief in 2018, though I hope it feels less painful then.) But you know what, in spite of all that, I actually had some awesome highlights, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
#1. Australia + New Zealand
Right from the start of 2017, it was about looking for light amidst the dark. My mom had a major emergency surgery in late December last year, and she came home only four days before I was scheduled to leave for Australia. But with her blessing and her doctor’s, I still went on my trip to Australia and New Zealand, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s a trip I’ll never forget.
Once I came back from Australia, my mom continued to get more sick instead of better. I wanted to do something totally different and silly for my birthday rather than “hey let’s just meet at some random bar” (though I also did that the night before, which was perfect), so I went to Foxwoods Casino to see one of my fave comedians, Iliza Shlesinger. YOU GUYS, the people watching there was amazing.
SANTA’S WORKSHOP — KEEP OUT, read the sign on her kitchen office door, from November 1 on.
Of course I peeked, and of course she admonished me, but I had to know what kind of Very Important Christmas Activities were going on in there, and OK, fine, what gifts she was hiding from me.
As I got older, I knew that peeking really would ruin my Christmas, that the surprise is half the fun.
“Theodora, I need your list,” is the refrain I heard from November on.
Christmas was big in both of my parents’ families, so it became big in our little family of three too.
All my parents ever wanted was a child, so once they adopted me and their dreams came true, all they wanted to do was keep me happy. In turn, I was beyond grateful for their love and just wanted them to be happy.
Several Christmases, my mom tried so hard to give us the perfect Christmas that she literally made herself sick, coming down with pneumonia from exhausting herself to the point that her immune system couldn’t handle the germs she encountered during her days of wandering the mall looking for that perfect gift.
Every Christmas, just before Christmas, she asked what my perfect gift would be. The question made me uncomfortable, because it never was about the presents. OK, fine, the first 22 years, it was totally about the presents. But once I started...
Literally every single time I take a yoga class, I think “I should do this more.”
My energy levels have been pretty low this month. Call it grief and low-level dread of the holidays, call it depression, call it too many cookies and wine (jk there is no such thing), call it a mild Vitamin D deficiency, but I really just want to spend a ton of time in bed.
I know I always feel better when I work out, so I’ve been trying my best to stick to working out — while also being gentle with myself and honoring my body and mind.
So some days, that looks like Orangetheory; some days that looks like 10 minutes of a Daily Burn video at home; some days that looks like a good yoga class.
I love the soulful and mindful — I do yoga 80% for my mind, and 20% to get a good stretch in.
Feeling particularly lethargic on Saturday, I knew I needed to do something. But also that it needed to be really close to my apartment if I was actually going to go. I didn’t have it in me to get on the subway there and back and spend an extra hour to and from.
A little search on Classpass, and I found Yogamaya, which I somehow never realized was around the corner from me? And they have a Yoga for Athletes class? Where have...
This post is sponsored by Epson, but all opinions are mine.
I really love toys.
I mean, I’m 34 going on 4, so this makes sense. But I love trying out gear, so I was fascinated when I heard Epson was launching a running watch, I was intrigued. Epson…like, the printer? Are they 3D printed watches? (As it turns out, Epson is owned by the same company that owns Seiko.)
To be honest, for the past few years, I’ve mostly relied on my Apple Watch for my running. I haven’t been training for any time goal, so just knowing the overall distance and pace has been all I needed.
But as I attempt to channel my grief and the strength I’ve gained in this past year into running hard and fast (and often!), I need something a bit more than that super-simple interface.
Hey, remember when I used to write about running and fitness more?
Yeah, me too. Ah, yes, back when life was more simple and running and fitness were a novelty, not something that I now depend on for my sanity.
Well, I have found the perfect way to channel and combine my grief and my running.
Well, Teal got charity bibs for the NYC Half this year, and I’m proud to be raising money for them and have another race, another goal, on the horizon.
I’ve been doing Orangetheory again, and I’m really excited to see how all of this torture speed work pays off.
I would love to dream big and say I’m gunning for a new PR, but I’ll have to see how much running fitness I can recover in the next 3.5 months. It’s been a while since I’ve even gone sub-2, so I know that is at least my solid B goal, no matter what.
Do you have any big running goals right now?
Yesterday was a hard day.
Yesterday was a great day.
I’m thankful that the two can co-exist a bit better than they could a few months ago.
I woke up yesterday giddy with excitement for having all of my favorite women in the same place, and I went off to the gym to burn off some of the anxiety about throwing the *perfect* party.
I ran my heart out on the treadmill and left endorphin-wasted and happy and sweaty.
But then, alone again in my apartment, I felt so alone in the world. I thought about the time my mom had come to my cookie swap three years ago, and the other times I’d called her to tell her excitedly about how well it had gone playing hostess, proud of her teaching me to entertain and open up my home (or fave gym, same thing) to the people I loved.
And I spent hours that I should have been cleaning and prepping sobbing and on the phone with my aunt and a dear friend who lost her parents young.
The other guests were set to come over at 2, but my gem of a BFF came over at 12:30 to help me finish the party prep.
I’m not sure we had enough cheese?
Llamas and cookies?
Sitting in a cozy little gallery in Brooklyn yesterday, I found a piece of myself I hadn’t realized I was missing.
I’ve had this blog for almost nine years.
I have a journalism degree.
Yet I have a hard time calling myself a writer the way I have a hard time calling myself an athlete, despite the fact I have now run seven marathons and more than 30 halfs.
At this massive crossroads in my life, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and attempting to find that sweet spot of what makes me happy and can make me money.
My brain feels like it’s going in a million directions at once, but I keep coming back to two things: I want to help people, and I want to use my voice.
My voice and my words are what I have.
And yesterday sitting in this gallery, I felt more alive, more ~present~ than I have in a long time.
I’m in a NYC Motherless Daughters Facebook group, and they hosted a grief writing workshop.
I wrote about my pain.
I felt my pain.
And I felt support from strangers united by the grief that usually feels so cold and isolating.
I discovered things I didn’t know I was feeling; tears silently ran down my face as I listened to these other women share their stories of loss and wondered how they read my mind.
I left and walked out into the bright mid-day sun feeling energized and sad all at the same time. Feeling supported and alone at...
Did you also buy a ton of crap this weekend?
No, me neither…
I’ll admit that most of my shopping was for me, but hey, it’s stuff that makes me happy…so…mental health? (Can I submit these receipts to my insurance?)
Here’s a few of my fun purchases. And to new readers…I am all about the Christmas season so this is essentially a Christmas blog until January. Consider yourselves warned.Old Navy (which is currently doing 50% off EVERYTHING)
Sparkly Workout Pants — why yes, I did wear these to OTF today and chicked the dude on the treadmill next to me, thank you for asking.
Llama jammies — definitely not wearing these right now…
Llama socks — also not wearing these right now…Christmas Decorations
I decorated my tree yesterday!!! So pro tip for New Yorkers (with a little extra room in your budget, tbh, because this isn’t quite the most budget-friendly but was worth it for me): NYC Trees will deliver and set up your tree — and also include the skirt and stand. I had a crappy experience with tree delivery and putting it up myself last year, so this was worth it for me this year.
Last year, my college roomie Jen helped me shop/decorate my tree. (I am like a child shopping for Christmas ornaments, so I need a little adult supervision here to stick to a vision.) We decided on red + silver as a base with the sentimental ornaments...
Well, I made it through my first Thanksgiving without my mom — obviously not without a gazillion tears, but I made it.
What helped: a combination of old traditions + new. It would be foolish to pretend all is the same. I took care of my own soul, and I spent time with family.
I spent Wednesday night with friends seeing the Macy’s parade balloons being blown up, with a stop in Columbus Circle on my way there to see one of my fave Christmas spots in the city. I’ve always loved the view from the second floor of the Time Warner Center, but especially around Christmas. Last year, it took on a new meaning as I found myself drawn there, as I made my way, feeling lost, back downtown to my apartment after my mom had a major surgery at Columbia. This view, these stars, bring me a certain amount of peace for reasons I can’t explain.
Then, so long as I was in the city on Thanksgiving morning, I went to Orangetheory for an ass-kicking. I’d woken up sad and anxious, and to distract myself from that for an hour was priceless.
My BFF Meg wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving, so she came to NJ with me for Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t have scripted better how helpful it was to have...
I’m not going to mince words: this was the shittiest year of my life. Losing my mom, my job, my dog (he’s alive but the super long story short is he got kicked out of my building and now lives with a friend’s mom in Georgia) and, oh yeah, let’s throw a breakup in there because why not? That. all. sucks. really. hard.
And if I said that I’m not feeling pretty depressed pretty often, that’d be a lie. I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can at least hide it or push it to the side when I’m with people…but I’m having a pretty hard time.
With all of that being said: I do still have a lot to be thankful for.
I wrote two years ago how thankful I was for my mom and that her prognosis was good. I never thought I’d be writing two years later about her death, because I never thought she’d die that soon from ovarian cancer. It still feels like I’m talking about someone else. Because I can’t possibly be talking about my mom not being here, right? She was so strong and stubborn and healthy before she got sick, and thankfully my parents were able to afford the best care for her…and it still didn’t matter.
But, as people sometimes remind me — I had 34 great years with her. I got so much love and beautiful memories in those 34 years —...
As a housekeeping note, I’ve extended the giveaway on my last post until 9PM 11/17.
I survived my first solo vacation.
It was everything I expected.
It was nothing I expected.
I found power not in getting on a plane alone to fly 3000 miles away to a country where I knew nobody; I found that strength in driving on the other side of the road. Alone. At night.
I found power switching hotels when the AirBnB I’d booked sort of on a whim didn’t work out for my goals (…of being able to walk to a pub.)
I found power not having a plan and allowing the days to take me where they may (no easy feat for a crazy New Yorker.)
When that meant returning to the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day (even though I’d already been there two days earlier), I honored that.
When that same visit brought me to my knees in tears from beauty and grief, I honored that.
I spent a good amount of time enjoying my own company and curiosity, and I spent time frustrated with my own company, spiraling and reflecting on what I didn’t have in my life.
But I let that spiral pass, as they may. And it did.
(Also, in a totally last minute decision, I realized I should probably bring some sort of raincoat...
Still, every single time I run a marathon, I can’t believe that I actually did it.
HOW did I cross the finish line of my seventh last weekend?
The older I’ve gotten, the more value I’ve put on recovery — because I love running and the joy it’s added to my life, so I want to be able to do it as long as possible.
When I was younger, I used to be more hardcore and take ice baths…but I just can’t hang like that any more and prefer the coziness of a warm/hot bath. (Apparently I’m right on trend; a recent study found that heat is more helpful than ice on muscles. SWEET.)3. THE STICK
I know, this thing looks like a torture device…and it sort of is. But man, does it help get into muscles to relieve restricted blood flow so that your muscles can grow and repair. And it feels a little easier to roll this over my muscles rather than putting all of my weight on top of a foam roller. It’s also awesome for traveling.
AND! You can win...