Grandpa Bears (or Our Thanksgiving Surprise)

When my grandpa passed away, my grandma immediately wanted us to remove his things from their apartment. I totally understood why she wanted us to do that and most of his things were either easy enough to get rid of or someone was going to take to their house (like his computer so we could get all important things off of it). But when we were in his closet, we weren’t 100% what we wanted to do with all of his clothes.

Some of the things we set aside for various family members to keep, but most of it was going to be donated to a charity. While I liked the idea of donating his clothes, I thought it might be nice to keep some of it for us to remember him by. My grandpa had some epic and colorful sweaters and didn’t want to donate those.

Grandpa Sweaters

Then I remembered seeing on a website at some point that people turn baby clothes into bears to have as keepsakes from when their kids were little. I figured if you could do that with baby clothes, we could do that with my grandpa’s clothes too. My mom and dad decided to help with the plan, and only my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Steve knew about it as well.

So I did some searching online and found several people who make memory bears. But the person who made the ones that looked best to me and my mom was Paula of Paula’s Bears. She totally understood that we had multiple sweaters and wanted to create mix and match patchwork bears. So everyone would have the same sweaters on their bear, but all the bears would look a little different. I also had some of my grandpa’s ties and Paula said we could use those for the hands and feet.

Paula was undertaking a big project for us, but fortunately we got her the sweaters and ties in April and we didn’t need the bears back until October. I had asked Paula if she could take pictures of the bears as they were being worked on because I knew we’d all love to see the process of making them.

Sweater PatternBuilding The Sweater

She cut each sweater into a bear and then mixed and matched the pieces. So each bear had a part of every sweater on it. Some had the same sweater in the same spot, but they were all a bit different.



Every time I got an update from Paula, I passed it on to my parents and we were all shocked and amazed at how the bears looked. We had no idea how they would look when they were in bear form, but Paula did such a great job making them all look perfect.

The bears were shipped to my parents house (my mom added various fraternity pins, boy scout things, and my grandpa’s dog tags to each bear to make them even more unique) and when they got the bears out of the box and lined up, we joked that we created a bear army.

Bear Army

We made enough bears for one for each single person or one for a couple to share (as an example, I get a bear but my parents will share a bear). I know that I will treasure this bear for forever and I hope that the rest of the family feels the same way about them.

Having Paula make these bears for us is such a nice way to remember someone by that doesn’t feel morbid or weird to keep in your house. I’m not totally sure where my bear will live in my house, but I know I’ll find the perfect spot for him.

If any of you are looking to have a memory or keepsake bear made, I highly recommend using Paula for them. She took so much care in making sure each bear was perfect and those touches really made all the difference. I know that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday and I really encourage you all to participate in that. Small businesses are sometimes just someone working out of their home and they can make the item you are buying even more special.

I know that having Paula was the perfect person to make these bears for my family and I’m so happy that I found her online. I know that for any future projects similar to the bears, I will be going back to her immediately. I’ve been wanting to tell you all about Paula and the bears for months, but I had to keep it a secret so that we could surprise the family. I’m glad that I can finally share her with you now!

What I’m Thankful For (or Happy Thanksgiving!)

I hope that you all are spending Thanksgiving exactly how you want to be. Whether that is with your actual family, with your chosen family, or just hanging out by yourself.

I’m with my family in San Diego right now celebrating but I just want to share with you all what I am thankful for this year.

First of all, I’m very thankful for my family and the fact that I get to be with so many of them today. We are celebrating with 4 generations of the family (plus the dog) and we are only missing a few people who couldn’t make it. We all live crazy lives so it’s a miracle that we can all get together as a family once a year. I’m glad that I have this tradition in my life.

Beyond being thankful for my family in general, I’m so thankful for my parents. We’ve had our fights from time to time, but almost all of the time our relationship is unconditional love. I didn’t realize how lucky I am to have that until an adult when I learned that many people I know didn’t have the same relationship with their parents. I know that they don’t get why I don’t have a “real job”, but they try to understand my passion and they support it.

I’m also super thankful for my friends. So many of my friends have become my family over the years and I don’t know what I would do without them. When I’m having a bad day, they remind me why things are really good in the world. When I need to rant about something stupid, they are there to listen. And when I need to celebrate even the tiniest thing, they are celebrating as much as I am. I try so hard to be as good of a friend to all of my friends as they are to me, but they are all so awesome that I’m not always sure that I can compare.

I’m grateful for my day jobs. Both my day jobs are from referrals and for the most part they are both exactly what I need. I could use a bit more flexibility in one of my jobs, but it hasn’t really caused an issue for me lately. But to be able to work from home and pretty much make enough to get by is such a luxury that I know that many of my actor friends don’t have. So I’m grateful that the friends who got me these jobs considered me when they knew of the job openings.

I’m thankful for my acting class. It’s been tough to get back into improv classes, but each week things are getting better and better for me. I’m feeling more comfortable and like I’m doing the right thing at the right moment for me. I’m still trying to plan out what the future will bring as far as more classes go. But each week I’m leaning more and more toward taking the next level of classes. I’ll just have to see what my schedule looks like in the new year and what my money situation is like.

Finally, I’m thankful for the communities that I’ve been welcomed into or that I’ve created. I’ve had an acting related community around me for a while. But now I have a blogging community and a workout community that I can turn to for support and advice. Those have been so invaluable to me and I know that within those communities I’ve made some lifelong friends.

I’ll do my Thanksgiving recap next week on here. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing with you all the big gift that my immediate family will be presenting to my extended family at Thanksgiving dinner tonight!

Scripted Jewelry (or My Mom’s Hanukkah Present)

I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’m pretty good at giving gifts to people. I listen to what people say off-hand throughout the year and use that as inspiration for birthday and holiday gifts. And most of the time, the gift is a hit!

Most of my awesome gifts have been things I’ve gotten my dad. He’s much easier to shop for, so I can figure out something he’ll love pretty quickly. In the past, I’ve gotten him an iPod, a gym bag (that has a lifetime warranty and he’s had replaced twice since), a ski bag, and a chair made out of old skis. This year for Hanukkah, my dad got TRX straps from me, but I gave them to him back in April since I figured he’d want them.

My mom is much tougher to shop for. She always says that she doesn’t need anything and even when my dad does spy work for me we sometimes can’t figure out what to get her. I had an idea for a gift that didn’t end up panning out, so I was stuck a bit ago with no idea what to get my mom.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I got her and I matching bracelets with the word “positivity” on them. We both have loved them, but since they are made with an elastic they have stretched out. I’ve gotten us replacements before, but I was thinking that maybe a stronger piece of jewelry would be the right Hanukkah gift.

I did lots of random searches and couldn’t find what I wanted. But I had stumbled across the ScriptedJewelry page on Etsy and realized that this could be the perfect gift. I decided to make my mom a piece of jewelry for her to remember my grandpa by.

I did need a lot of help with this project. I actually don’t have any handwriting of my grandpa’s in my house. Everything I got from him was typed or my grandma wrote it. So I initially asked my dad for help, but he wasn’t able to find any handwriting samples either. I asked my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Steve for help next, and they found a letter that my grandpa typed to them on their honeymoon, but he signed it “Dad” at the bottom. So that was perfect to start with!

I realized that I would have to get my mom involved because we knew that she had old letters of my grandpa. So I lied to her and said that I wanted to do something for Thanksgiving and needed some of my grandpa’s old letters. I’m glad she didn’t ask me too many questions about it because I have no idea what I would have told her. But she had a couple of letters that my grandpa wrote his parents during WWII and she scanned those in and sent them to me. At the bottom of one letter, he had signed it “all my love, Bob”, so I was going to take the “all my love,” part of it.

I had reached out to the woman behind ScriptedJewelry, Caroline, and she said that they could combine the two handwriting samples and make something really beautiful for my mom. Of course, I had to figure out what type of jewelry to make for her. So I told my mom that I was working on her Hanukkah present and that she was not allowed to ask me questions but had to answer questions from me. I managed to find out that she would want a teardrop necklace in gold.

A couple of weeks later, the necklace was at my house and I’m so amazed by how wonderful it looks!


You can really see how the handwriting matches the necklace in this picture that Caroline took for me (it’s so much better than my iPhone photos!).

Necklace with Handwriting

As I’m writing this, I haven’t given my mom the necklace yet. But by the time you are reading this, she has gotten it and hopefully she loves it!

The cutoff for Christmas present for ScriptedJewelry is December 1st, so I know that it might be too late for some of you to order from her for Christmas. But I highly encourage you all to make something to remember a loved one by. She can also turn artwork from kids into jewelry if you don’t want something with handwriting on it.

I’m so lucky that my random searching online led me to ScriptedJewelry and that I was able to have my family help me in making what should be one of the best gifts I’ve gotten for my mom ever.

Thanksgiving Meal Prep (or Hopefully Everything Tastes Great)

Soon, I’ll be heading down to San Diego to be with my family for Thanksgiving. It’s probably going to be a long drive (a combination of holiday and rush hour traffic), but I’ve got lots of podcasts to keep me company while I’m making the drive.

My mom is making pretty much everything for Thanksgiving this year (technically my family is hosting it at the house we are renting in San Diego), but I really wanted to help out. I know that my mom works hard to get everything done, so if I can do a little of that work for her I know that she’ll have some extra time to be with everyone.

I first offered to make the feta, pine nut, sun-dried tomato dip that I made last year. I know that it’s a pretty easy recipe and that everyone seemed to like it when I made it last year (although I personally think that my mom makes it better than I could ever do). I also said that I’d make the blueberry banana bread since everyone likes that too and it can be breakfast for a couple of days. Then I thought about what else I could make in advance that my family might like. And I decided to make the black bean dip that I love for veggies. I’ve personally been adding salsa to the dip to make it a bit spicy, but it’s doesn’t last as long that way (maybe it’s too watery?) so I made it the normal way.

The only time I’d have before driving down to make all the food was on Sunday, so I made that my cooking day (even though only one thing actually has to be cooked). The first thing I got done was the blueberry banana bread since I figured I could do the dips while it was in the oven. It’s simple enough to make and within about 10 minutes I had that recipe done and in the oven to bake.

Next I worked on the black bean dip. Again, it’s super easy to put it together. I think the most time consuming task was to drain and rinse the beans. I got that done and in a disposable Tupperware container to bring with me.

Then I ran into a big of a snafu. I only have one food processor bowl and both of the dips needed to be made in the food processor. I had washed the bowls for the bread and the food processor after finishing the bean dip, but I used my kitchen towels to dry the bowls (not sure why I did that but I did). So I couldn’t really dry my food processor. So I took a break while that dried and then about an hour later got started on the feta dip.

I’m hoping that the feta dip turned out ok. It seemed more difficult than last year to make. The food processor didn’t want to process it. I had to start and stop several times and try to mash things down myself. I finally got it to look the way I feel it should look (it’s a bit smoother than I like it to be), and it seemed to taste ok to me. It has a few days for the flavors to meld together. Hopefully it just gets better with time.

I know that making 3 things for Thanksgiving is much less than most people have to make. But for someone who has been struggling to make more things from scratch, making 3 things from scratch in one day is a lot! But I think that it all looks pretty good to me!

Thanksgiving Food

Hopefully when my family gets to eat them that they enjoy them! I’ll have to let you all know how it goes when I do my Thanksgiving recaps next week!

The next few days of posts will be written before Thanksgiving, so they won’t totally be Thanksgiving related. But I want to share with you all what I’m thankful for this year, the gift that I had made for my mom that she will be getting tonight, and what my mom, dad, and I worked on to give to everyone in my family this year for Thanksgiving.

Fitting In My Workouts (or Planning For The End Of The Year)

I had a reality check this past week when I was seeing how many workouts I had done so far in 2015. While I was on track for a long time to hit my workout goal, only doing 3 workouts in a week for a while due to my calf injury plus missing a week of workouts when I was sick really messed up my plan.

So before this past week started, I planned out some workouts in the app that I’ve been using to track my classes. I got it figured out for the rest of the year how I can hit my goal.

Workout planning

It’s not that crazy of a plan, but of course the next day I realized that my plan wasn’t going to work the way I wanted it to, so I’m thinking things through a bit more. But it helped me realize that I do need to push it a bit the next few weeks and my goal is going to be a stretch but it’s totally realistic.

My plan for this past week was originally to do 5 workouts and then do 2 7am workouts this week before leaving for Thanksgiving. Due to scheduling issues, I wasn’t able to do my 5 workouts and I’ve moved my workouts around this week too. But as long as I add in another workout in December I should be ok.

This past week, I worked out Sunday/Monday/Wednesday/Friday. I’m glad I changed my plans from working out 5 times because these workouts were pretty intense.

2 days only had 2 blocks each. That means that I spent pretty much 30 minutes on the treadmill straight and then did 30 minutes on the floor without a block. And I did that twice. It’s been a while since we have had workouts that didn’t switch between blocks. It’s nice to have that challenge, but when we switch between blocks it feels better on my hips and it makes the time go by faster for me. But I know I need to push myself and having these long blocks gives me that chance (but I’m glad that this doesn’t happen more often).

With those long block days, my floor work suffered a bit. I was pretty exhausted so I didn’t push myself as much as I could (or should) with the weights. But I’m still using heavier weights than I was at the beginning of the year.

While my weight work wasn’t as good as I know it can be, I had a big improvement in my pushups. Pushups have always been hit or miss with me. Sometimes they do hurt my hips. And ever since I tore my calf I had to stop doing them on my toes because that strained my muscle too much. So instead of trying to get back on my toes I’ve been focusing my form when I do pushups on my knees. And I’m getting some good muscle fatigue now while I’m doing modified pushups. And I even was able to do pushups with the bosu ball as part of ultimate burpees. That made me pretty happy.

My treadmill work is still a struggle too. It’s both a physical and a mental struggle. I do have my pain from time to time, but I’m also terrified that my calf still isn’t fully healed and if I push it too much I’ll injure myself again. So I’m trying to be easy on myself and not stress out that I’m still not where I thought I’d be. I’m hoping that I can increase my treadmill speed at the beginning of the new year, but I’m not going to hurt myself over that goal.

This week is going to be a short workout week for me due to Thanksgiving, but I’ll be getting my 3 workouts in for sure (including my new tradition of a workout on Thanksgiving morning)!

Making Strides In Class (or Relaxing And Having Fun)

My improv class this week went really well. In fact, I think this might have been the best class I’ve had so far. I’m still on the fence about moving on to the next level of improv, but like I said before I’m focusing on how much I can get out of the class I’m in.

I had a few moments in class where I either didn’t hear things correctly or said something off that threw the scene or game that we were doing, but none of those moments were big screw-ups like I’ve had before. It’s not that I wasn’t listening before, but my focus in the past was to unlearn “bad” habits from my other improv training. And when I’ve been doing that it’s hard to focus on the game at hand. So I stopped trying to ignore and unlearn what I’ve learned in the past and I used it in class.

And that actually paid off! I’m not sure why I was so scared of doing that before. I know that I didn’t want to feel like a show-off or do something so weird that the teacher wondered why I did it. But that fear had really set me back and I think prevented me from performing to the best of my ability in the previous weeks. This past week, I had some really great scenes and I felt like I got more positive notes from the teacher than critiques.

I do feel a bit like a show-off at times or that I’m commanding the scene and I’m really working on that. I’m trying not to overshadow my fellow actors if it feels like the scene is going that way. It can be tough because sometimes I can feel that the other person might be struggling and I just want to help them. But helping them can also prevent them from having their fair time. And when only a few people out of the group get to do something special (we used a few personal monologues this past week to help inspire scenes), I’m not always trying to take a turn.

It’s a fine balance I’m trying to find between performing to the best of my abilities and hogging a scene. I know I’m not the best person in class, but I also know that I’m a bit of an aggressive performer. I’ve had to learn in the past to be fearless and to just go with it. But sometimes that can seem like I’m trying to show-off or steal the spotlight from someone else.

I think it was easier for me in the past because with the first improv troupe I performed with, we all kind of came into the class at the same level. We had dabbed in improv, but none of us have really taken a class. In my class now, there are some people who have never taken a class before and there are people who have done years of improv training (I’m kind of in the middle). It also might have been easier in the past because I was either working with a group doing short form improv (which are the quick fun game) or working alone doing an improv interview when I was in Kip’s class.

Now, we are doing longer scenes and there isn’t a gimmick to the game. It’s just trying to be as truthful to the scene as possible. I think that this is better for my acting career than learning the games that I’ve done before, but it’s not easy. It’s hard to stay based in reality when you have no idea what is coming up next (or if you get a super weird suggestion). But I’m really enjoying the challenge and I think having fun in the class is the most important thing.

Focusing On The Happy (or What Will Be Good At Thanksgiving)

After talking about how stressed out I’m getting about getting everything done before Thanksgiving, I decided to take a step back and focus on the good things that will be happening next week. I think I realized that I need to focus on the good after reflecting on my happiness checklist yesterday. I’ve realized that happiness and good things haven’t been as much of a focus as it should be and I wanted to remedy that.

Obviously, we are all trying to remember that last Thanksgiving was pretty epic and will likely be impossible to top. It wasn’t just that almost the entire family was there at one time, but we had amazing weather and everyone seemed to have a great time. We have the same rental house this year as we did last year, but since my grandpa won’t be there (and a few other family members will be missing due to scheduling issues), it won’t be the same even if we have the amazing weather again.

I’m really excited to see my family. So many family visits lately have been a bit on the sad side, so it will be nice to have a family gathering that should be happier. There are a couple of things that have been planned for Thanksgiving (that I can’t share yet because they are surprises) that may bring a bit of a somber mood, but I think we are all focused on making our family holiday a happy thing.

I’m super excited to give my mom her Hanukkah gift. I’ll be sharing what I got her next week (again, I can’t ruin the surprise), but I think that she’s going to be shocked by what I got and I think she will love it. And I can’t wait to give my dad his birthday present because I think it’s something that he’ll be so happy to have but never would have bought for himself.

I can’t wait to see my cousin’s kids and do some face painting on them. I bought a big face paint kit this year and I think it will be a bit crazy when my cousins and I start painting their faces. We can get more creative than we’ve been in the past, but we can get over the top as well. But I know that when the kids have their faces painted and they are showing the designs off to everyone that the entire family should be smiling. I think everyone has gotten a kick out of this weird tradition that I started by accident.

And of course, I can’t wait to see the dog! It’s been a while since I’ve seen him and he’s gotten so much bigger! I’ll be working with him on a trick or two and my parents have been telling me how much better he’s gotten with his obedience training. The other day Tucker was at the dog park and tore up his skin from a bush. My parents didn’t realize he was hurt at first because he didn’t cry, limp, or show any signs of being injured. But once they saw it they took him to the vet to get it checked out (we might be a bit overly cautious because of what happened with Chaucer). The vet said it needed to be cleaned and stitched up so that was done. And instead of putting Tucker in the cone of shame, the vet recommended putting Tucker in a shirt so he can’t lick at his stitches.

Tucker in a shirt

I think he looks so silly and cute at the same time! I don’t know if he will still need to be wearing a shirt next week (his stitches don’t come out until after Thanksgiving), but he will look cute whether he’s clothed or naked. Tucker is officially now our dog with the most scars. And they’ve all been very minor injuries that Tucker doesn’t even notice. That dog either doesn’t have a ton of pain receptors or he is so distracted when he’s playing that he ignores any pain he has. But all his scars have fun stories and he seems to not mind visiting the vet (I don’t know if he loves being in the shirt).

And of course, the food and company are things to look forward to next week. I’ll be in San Diego for about 3 days so I’ll have a lot of time to hang out (even if I do have to work the day before and the day after Thanksgiving). No matter what happens over Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful that I have the chance to spend time with 4 generations of my family and be surrounded by people who I love and who love me. I know that that is a luxury that not everyone has and I need to be grateful that I do have that.

Checking In With Myself (or I Need To Find New Things That Make Me Happy)

Even though I think my therapist is shocked that I’m continuing to do this, I’m maintaining my daily happiness checklist. I’ve been doing this for a while now and I’m actually really glad that it’s a part of my routine. It’s good for me to reflect back on my day and make sure that I’m doing things for myself and not just because I have to.

The only thing that I’m able to check off every single day is reading. Reading makes me so incredibly happy and I could easily spend hours every day reading. But since that isn’t a reality most days, I make sure that I get to read for at least a little while before I go to bed. I can’t remember the last day that I had where I didn’t read even for a little bit. It was probably at least 5 or 6 years ago. The only thing that makes me sad about reading is when I finish a book series that I love so much and I know that there aren’t going to be any more books. But fortunately I have a very wide range of tastes when it comes to books so I’m always able to find something to read next that excites me (but I’m happy to get any book recommendations that you all have).

Reading is the only thing that gets checked off every day, but there are a couple of things that are checked off almost every day. Going to Orangetheory or working out in another way is checked off more often than it isn’t. And blogging is checked off usually at least 5 out 7 days in the week. I’m glad that I know that almost every day I’m guaranteed to have 3 things on my checklist checked off. I think 3 or 4 things out of 10 is the lowest I’ve ever been on my checklist.

I’m finally getting more checks in my acting column. Going to class once a week counts (and I count going to the shows I have to see for class as well). Getting my headshots count. And of course, auditions count but those aren’t as common and are not controllable by me. I want to focus on getting more checks in that column, but I know that that is only going to happen if it is things that I control. That is one of the things that is pushing me toward going to the next level in my improv class.

The rest of my column are super sporadic. I have a Disneyland/Outing column, but with my schedule lately there haven’t been a lot of outings. I’ll be making at least one Disneyland trip next month (I’m hoping for 2) and I know that when my schedule is calmer that I can focus on planning more fun things.

Having a meal out (another column) is another one that is pretty low on checks. I think this goes hand in hand with the lack of outings (and a lack of money). This one will get some more checks in it soon with Thanksgiving, but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this column after I see my therapist next month.

I know that the reason my therapist had me do this list originally was to make sure that I did things that make me happy every day. But the more times I do the list, the more I’m realizing that maybe the things that I thought make me happy aren’t right. Or maybe I need to focus on different ones that fit in my circumstances better. I know that going out for dinner makes me happy, but that’s not something that would happen too often even if my money situation was different.

I’m really starting to question what makes me happy in life and if I have enough things that make me happy in my life. Maybe I need to find more happiness and that’s something that is lacking in my world. It’s weird to think that I thought that I’ve been happy when in reality I might not have been. I’m not depressed, but I might have been fooling myself with how happy I’ve been.

I’m not going to change up my checklist in the middle of it. I see my therapist is a little over a month and the checklist will remain the same until I see him. After I see him, that’s when I create the new checklist that will have the right number of days before my next appointment (usually either 60 days or 90 days later). I think reevaluating things every other month or so it’s too bad and I’m sure lots of people could benefit from doing so. Since I feel forced into it by my therapist calling it “homework”, I don’t ignore what the checklist is telling me.

I’m sure this post seems a bit like I’m rambling on. It’s a weird feeling to think that you don’t know what makes you happy and that the things you thought made you happy don’t. I’ve got a month to think about what I do in life that makes me happy and then I’ll create the checklist that will take me into the new year and hopefully I can make 2016 the happiest year that I’ve had so far.

A Bit Over-Scheduled (or Starting To Stress Out)

For the past few weeks, my schedule has been pretty crazy. Every weekend is filled with something (sometimes something fun and sometimes lots of working at some of the day jobs). A few weeks ago, I realized that my next day off without having something on my schedule like work, class, or hosting an out-of-town friend would be Thanksgiving. I’m not used to not having a day every so often to just relax and do what I want to do. Right now, every day has something important and on a specific schedule. And that freaked me out a bit.

Now that my Thanksgiving trip is about a week away, I’m still extremely busy and I’m starting to worry about how I will get everything done before I head down to San Diego to be with my family.

I have to work while I’m in San Diego (I work the day before and the day after Thanksgiving) so I need to make sure I pack all of my work stuff. That ends up being very last minute because I will be driving down to San Diego right after a work shift next week. So I need to wait to pack everything I need until I’m logged out of my shift. But I’m starting to work on a work related packing list so I don’t forget anything.

I also have a few food things I need to make and bring down to Thanksgiving. I won’t have time to make them until after my class on Monday next week (that alone is stressing me out), but I’m starting on my shopping lists now and I’m hoping that I can get the ingredients this week so everything is ready for me to go Monday afternoon.

I also have gifts for a couple of people. I have a Hanukkah gift for my mom (I’ll write about that next week because it’s an awesome gift that I think you all might love), a Hanukkah gift for Ross and Krystle, and a birthday gift for my Dad (he got his Hanukkah gift back in April because I knew he’d want it as soon as possible). I’ve also got face paint for my cousin’s kids (it’s tradition) and I’m still thinking about bringing something else to maybe help decorate the house. Fortunately, all the gifts are all wrapped and in a bag with the face paint. It’s ready to go in my car but again it’s something else to have to remember to pack.

And of course, I have to start thinking about what clothes I want to bring with me. I’ll be doing another Thanksgiving morning workout with some of my family so there’s that checklist too (can you tell that I’m checklist obsessed right now?).

With all that I have to do plus lots of work do to for my day jobs, I know that when Thanksgiving day comes and I have the day off to spend with my family I will be very grateful. I’m trying not to get overwhelmed by everything I have to do, but that’s just who I am. The checklists are helping me because I can see exactly what I’m planning on bringing and when I’m packing up my car and I make sure that I don’t forget anything.

I am very happy that I can drive to Thanksgiving and don’t have to worry about flying because I can bring a lot more stuff and it’s easier to pack my car with several random small bags instead of trying to make sure everything fits into airline regulations. At least that’s one thing I don’t have to stress about.

Peak Performance Week (or Pushing Myself To The Max)

It’s been a crazy few weeks at Orangetheory lately! First there was Hell Week. Then there was Recovery Week (which didn’t feel like a recovery but more like a normal week). And this past week was Peak Performance Week.

We had a Peak Performance Week back at the beginning of the summer, and I had a pretty great time with it. I got some PRs, challenged myself, and felt like I had set some good benchmarks to try to beat. Not all of the challenges were the same as the beginning of the summer, but it’s nice to have something to compare to. Especially when that last time it was right before I tore my calf muscle. I was able to see how close to fully recovered I am.

Monday’s challenge was a 10 minute run/walk for distance. The goal for all the runners was to get at least a mile done in 10 minutes. So technically the goal for me as a power walker was to get half a mile done. I know I can do half a mile in 10 minutes, so I set my own goal of trying to get to .6 miles in 10 minutes.

I did most of the work at 6% incline and as much as I wanted to increase my speed, my hips and calf weren’t having it. So while I didn’t get to my personal goal, I think I did pretty great.

10 minute distance

Wednesday’s challenge was something that I was really looking forward to. It was the 1 mile challenge. When I did this over the summer, I had a PR with my mile. While that was amazing, it was very disappointing for me how I wasn’t able to translate that mile time into my 5K (and yes, I know that the PR was pre-injury and the race was post-injury). I knew that my mile time wasn’t going to be a PR. But I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do better than I did at my race.

I spent most of my mile alternating between 3.4 and 3.5 miles and hour. In the last minute, I bumped up the speed as much as I could. And when I was done, I was so happy with myself.

1 mile time

This is about 30 seconds slower than my mile PR (which isn’t that much) and about 50 seconds faster than my mile time from race day. I needed this boost because I had still been feeling a bit low from my race. I know that somehow I could have done better, but I’m not sure what I would have had to do. So showing myself on the treadmill that I’m not as far back from fully recovered as I thought really made me feel great.

Friday was a pretty exciting day for me. First of all, it was my 150th workout of 2015! That’s amazing to me! Also, Friday’s challenge was the 2000 meter row. I’ve had so much rowing lately that I knew I could do some great work on this challenge. My PR for my 1000 meter row is 4:58.9, so my goal for my 2000 meter row was anything under 10 minutes.

Since I knew the row would totally take it out of me, I chose to do that first instead of the treadmill like I usually do. I set my rower to count down from 2000 meters (it would also stop the clock once I reached that distance) and tried to not look at the screen. I counted the strokes in my head as a distraction and once people next to me were finishing I knew I must be getting close. I rowed as hard and fast as I ever had for those last 100 meters and when the clock stopped, I almost couldn’t believe my time.

2000 meter row

I was a little more than 16 seconds faster than my goal time! And since distance rows are a weakness of mine, to be able to do this was amazing! The only downside was that after the row we had to go on the treadmill and my hip gave me one of the electric shocks I get from time to time and my calf muscle was feeling like it was pulling and tearing. So I got off the treadmill and did the rest of my cardio on the bike. I wasn’t happy to be on the bike, but I needed to do that to keep my body from being in pain and damaging itself.

Overall, I would consider this Peak Performance Week a huge victory for me. While not everything was a PR, I proved to myself that while I’m still recovering I’m getting closer and closer to where I was pre-injury.