Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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Birthday Workouts (or Just Having A Good Week Of Workouts)

This past week of workouts was my birthday workouts! Since I usually have a birthday week, it only makes sense to have a birthday week of workouts. I didn’t have any expectations going into my week of workouts since I’ve had some really great running weeks and some really bad running weeks lately and I didn’t want to have something in my head that I wasn’t able to get done.

Monday was another 2 group class (instead of the 3G the it is supposed to be now) and it was a power workout. I was actually pretty excited since I know that power days are usually the best ones for me to work on running (and I wanted to run to burn off the calories I’d eat at Truxton’s later that day). In the 30 minutes on the treadmill, there were 13 all outs. It was pretty crazy!

There were 3 treadmill blocks and all of them started with a push pace which I ran. Then we had all out pace intervals with walking recovery in-between. The first block was 1 minute intervals, the second block was 45 second intervals, and the last block was 30 second intervals. I did the first block with my speed at 5mph and the second and third block with my speed at 5.5mph. I know I could have gone faster, but I’m really working hard at not burning myself out because I’m wondering if that is what has been causing the off weeks I’ve been having lately.

The floor on Monday also had 3 blocks. The first block had skaters, ground to press squats, row with weights, and a 100 meter row. I was pretty happy with my skaters because I was able to keep my back foot up the entire time (something that I still struggle with). With the 100 meter row, we were supposed to do both timed rows and counting the number of pulls. For the timed row, I did it in 18.1 seconds, which isn’t the best I’ve done but also isn’t that bad. And for my number of pulls, I got it down to 8 which beat my goal which was 9. The next block was lunges, ab twists, sit ups, and a 150 meter row. I only got to the timed row and did it in 28.6 seconds. And the last block was 200 meter rows (I didn’t focus on my time) and squats between each row set. Considering that this was my last workout as a 33-year-old, I was pretty happy about it!

Wednesday was a birthday workout! I was hoping that I’d have some friends with me in class, but it’s not easy for my friends to meet me at the time I go so I was on my own for the workout. But that was fine because the studio manager, Adam, decided to take that class and made sure that he pulled the treadmill card for my favorite treadmill and he took the treadmill next to me! And it was as if the universe was working in my favor because my birthday workout was a run/row!

It was also a strength day which means running on inclines, but I was determined to see what I could do. Usually a run/row is for the entire block and you go at your own pace. This time, there were 3 blocks and we repeated what we could in each block during that time. And then we switched with the floor between blocks. So I figured that since we would be switching I would try to run on the inclines. The first block started with a 400 meter row (which went down by 100 meters each time) followed by a .2 mile run. The run started at 2% and each round went up 1%. I was able to run the entire thing and even made it back to the treadmill to start the .2 miles at 3% incline. The next block was a 300 meter row (each round went down 50 meters) with a .15 mile run starting at 3% (each round went up 1%). Again, I was able to run it all but I only did the run once before time was called. And the last block was a 200 meter row (it stayed the same) with .1 miles at 4% incline. And I ran it all but only made it one round on the treadmill. Even though I didn’t do a ton of running, I ran all of it and did it at inclines which is a pretty awesome accomplishment for me.

The floor work was also 3 blocks and each block was a bit tough in the beginning since I was still catching my breath from the run/row. The first block was shoulder work, rowing with weights, lunges and abs. The second block was squats, flys with weights, and plank work. And the last block was all tricep work.

I would have to say that this was a pretty successful birthday workout. I’m glad that I spent my birthday at Orangetheory since it is such a huge part of my life now! And I think they were pretty happy to have me there that day too!

Friday was a power day (again, super happy because I could work on my running!). This time, everything on the treadmill was 30 second intervals. We had 5 blocks and the first 4 blocks all had the same pattern. Each block was 30 second push paces with 30 second base paces and the last minute of each block was a 30 second push to a 30 second all out. The first block was 5 minutes and each block got a minute shorter. The very last block was a slightly different pattern but the same concept with push to all outs with walking and more all out paces.

I was able to run all of my pushes at 4.5mph and all of my all outs at 5mph. I tried to do my base pace at my new faster base pace but I could only do that for a bit of the first block. All the running made me need to have a walking base pace that I’m comfortable with. But to me, being able to run as much as possible was more important than to work on my increased base pace. I’m glad that all the intervals were only 30 seconds because running was a bit tough for me that day. I was dealing with some nausea and I’m still experimenting with that time on a workout day it’s best for me to take anti-nausea medications.

The floor work was the same block pattern with the first 4 blocks being one minute shorter than the other. The 4 minute block and the 2 minute block were both rowing with the same intervals as the treadmill. The goal was when doing the 2 minute row to get at least half of what you got in the 4 minute row. In the 4 minute row I did 850 meters and in the 2 minute row I did 460 meters so I’m pretty proud of myself. With the other 3 blocks, we had a mix of squats, burpees, plank work, and biceps.

I felt like I had done a lot of great running work during the week and I was not expecting to be able to do much running on Saturday. But then I found out it was going to be a 15 minutes for distance challenge and I knew I needed to run. But there was no way I could work on running for the entire 15 minutes so I decided to follow the intervals that we were given.

It was a mix of endurance, strength, and power in the workout so the treadmill started with a 3 minute push pace. After that, we started to do push paces at inclines and I was able to run those as well. And the end of the treadmill block was 30 second intervals that were similar to Friday’s workout. And as always, we ended with an all out pace. I know that if I had run the entire 15 minutes I would have gone farther, but I’m pretty happy with the distance that I got to at the end of the cardio block.

Next I moved to the floor where we had one longer block and one short block. In the longer block, we had single leg deadlifts, squats, weighted swings, and strap work. Single leg deadlifts are a tough one for me since I don’t really have the ability to balance on one leg for that long right now. So I balance by holding onto the weight bench with one hand and then doing the single leg work. It is so much harder than regular deadlifts, so I know that I need to keep doing them to get stronger. I have no clue if I’ll ever be able to do single leg stuff without assistance, but I know the only way to find out will be to keep doing the work and trying. And the short floor block was situps and plank work for 3 minutes.

And I ended on the rower starting with a 3 minute row for distance. My goal was 650 meters and I wanted to scream in frustration when I got to 649 at the end of the 3 minutes. It was so annoying to be so close! After that, we had squats and more rowing. I didn’t go too hard in my rowing because I knew we’d be ended with another 3 minutes for distance and I wanted to beat 649 meters. The last 3 minutes for distance was a push, base, push, all out pattern similar to the treadmill and I really tried to do pushes and bases on the rower. It’s not easy for me to do that all the time because I’d rather be steady, but I wanted to see the difference compared to the 3 minute row I did at the beginning of the row block. I think my stubbornness paid off because I was able to get to 668 meters this time!

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty epic birthday workout week. I wasn’t expecting to do a lot of great running and somehow I did have that. And because I think I took it a bit easier than I could have done, hopefully this week of workouts won’t suffer from what I did the last week. I want to get over this one good week one bad week pattern and just have more consistent weeks. Hopefully that will happen for me soon!

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Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrĂ©e and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).

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Happy Birthday To Me (or I Can’t Wait To See What 34 Will Be Like)

It’s my birthday! You all know that birthdays are a big deal to me so I’m pretty happy that it’s my birthday today! Although I am working multiple jobs (most likely I’ll be working all 3 of my jobs today) so today won’t be too much birthday celebration. But I still enjoy all the phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages I get even if I have to look at them between customers at work.

Birthdays are always so awesome for me, but this year seems even more amazing. And that’s because 33 ended up being such a great year for me. If you had asked me when I turned 33 if I thought it was going to be so amazing, I wouldn’t have guessed it would have turned out the way it did. And a few months after my birthday last year, I started to have what felt like a horrible streak of bad luck.

I had the discovery of the tumors in my liver and then my car breaking down multiple times, spending money to fix it, only to have my car die on me. I also had issues with my eating disorder and some other personal things happen that made me feel like my luck was just awful and good things weren’t going to come my way. I didn’t want to feel so negative about my life, but it was hard to ignore the feeling that things were just going horribly for me and I didn’t know how or when that would change. But then things turned around so much starting with my tumors shrinking!

I still don’t know what changed my luck, but I’m so glad that it did. It’s not that I’ve always been unlucky, but I feel like my luck is better now that it ever has been in my life. And I feel like the good luck is allowing other good things to come into my life and I don’t want that to stop. I’m trying to not worry too much that my good luck is going to run out because I know it can end at any time. But I’m working hard to enjoy it while I can since things are just so much fun right now for me!

And if when I turned 33 I had no clue how awesome my year was going to be, I’m thinking that 34 will be even more incredible since I’m getting off to a good start. There are so many things that I’m looking forward to this year already and I know that things will continue to be added to that list. I’m so grateful that things in my life seem to be going so much better for me and I have hope that it will continue to be this way. I know that there may be some tough stuff this year, but I’m trying to stay optimistic about things this year.

I’m not trying to stress about my liver and the scan that I’ll be having this fall. If my tumors have grown, I’ll have surgery and that will be fine. I don’t want surgery, but I think I’m in a much better head space now to have surgery than I would have been if I had it in April. And I’ve got some stresses at work right now that I really can’t control. I’m just working on getting through it and dealing with things as they come. Hopefully things will turn out my way, but I also know that I’m doing everything I can to make that happen and I can’t worry about it any more.

Today isn’t going to be the most exciting day for me, but that’s ok. I knew having my birthday on a Wednesday meant that I would have to plan celebrating on other days. I’ve already done some birthday fun and I’ve got more coming up this weekend. But today will be a relatively normal Wednesday for me. But to know that I’m working hard, going to the gym, and doing stuff that makes me happy is all I could really want for a birthday.

I’m actually kind of excited to think about what my blog post will be like 1 year from today. I hope that being 34 will be just as great as being 33 has been for me. But again, I have no clue what my future holds and there is no way for me to predict it. I just hope that I continue to have fun and that whatever happens makes me happy and makes my life even more amazing!

Election Campaigning (or Being A Captain And Getting Out There)

We are officially in the middle of SAG-AFTRA election season! This election season has been very different from the last time I ran as a delegate. But just because it’s different doesn’t make it worse or more stressful. I’m taking on additional responsibilities and that is making me so happy! But there are other things that are making this a unique election season.

The first thing that has made it different is that while we are doing our officer/board/delegate election, we also have a contract vote. I’m writing this before we know the result of the contract vote so I don’t know the outcome yet. But to be out campaigning for 2 different elections has been interesting. The contract vote is done online (unless you request a paper ballot) and the election has to be on a paper ballot. So many people I’ve talked to thought the paper ballot was for the online election and tossed it out because they voted online. I’m glad I talked to them so they could request a new ballot. And then there are the people who have told me they have voted but they only voted for one thing.

I’m hoping that the contract passes because I think it is a move in the right direction for us as a union and by the time you are reading this we will know what happened. My fear is that it won’t pass and that we will have to strike. If we strike, all work will be shut down and it may take time to get things back up and running again. And when there is a strike, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will gain anything extra in the contract. So I’m hopeful that it will pass (or I guess I should say has passed) and that we can move on from this first election.

And I’ve gotten much more involved this year in the officer/board/delegate election. I’ve been trying to be more active in reminding my union friends to vote and it makes me so happy when I get text messages from people showing that I’m the first bubble they filled in.

Our voter turnout was very low 2 years ago and I’m making an effort to try to get the word out so more people will vote. I know that some people think it doesn’t matter (like how they feel about a presidential election), but it really does. 2 years ago, the difference between getting elected or not was sometimes 2 or 3 votes. So literally every vote counts.

I’ve already written about attending the Union Working event (although that is a non-partisan group so that was a one time only campaign thing), but there have been other in person opportunities I’ve been taking to get the word out about the vote and my slate. I’ve done the campaigning at the Film Society screenings before when I was running 2 years ago, and I’m doing them again this year. This is such a wonderful opportunity to talk to members who may not usually vote or don’t have an idea of what each slate represents. They get campaign material in the mail, but it’s so much better to talk to someone one on one.

I normally just go to the campaign events and help out, but this year I was asked to be a captain at some of the screenings! That was a big honor for me because I still feel like a newbie at all this, but this shows that the slate knows how hard I’ve been working to help everyone. Being the captain isn’t too tough of a job, but I did have to get the flyers to provide to everyone else volunteering and just make sure that things were running smoothly. Fortunately everyone is familiar with the rules we have to follow and the shifts that I was captain went really well.

And finally, if you follow me on social media you know that I’ve been getting the word out that way too. Tweeting about the election is important and I’ve been recycling a tweet I used 2 years ago. Since the election is right after my birthday, I say that the slate is my birthday wish list and that that’s what I want people to get me.

I know that not everyone I know is a member of SAG-AFTRA, but I use what I can to get people to pay attention. And saying that it’s for my birthday seems to get people to notice. So I’m fine taking advantage of the timing and hopefully that will get me and my slate a few extra votes (again, every single vote counts!).

Ballots for this election are due in a few weeks so I know I’ll be busy campaigning more this election season. I’m hopeful that I’ll be elected again, but I know it’s not a guarantee. But I’m doing everything I can now so I don’t look back and wish I had done more if I’m not elected.

If you are a SAG-AFTRA member, please vote! And yes, I do want you to vote for me and the rest of the Unite for Strength slate, but to me I really just want to encourage people to vote no matter what. If you don’t vote, you are not taking the opportunity to decide who the leadership of the union is. The leadership will help guide the union over the next 2 years and you shouldn’t ignore the chance to have your voice heard.

It’s Like I’m Back At The Beginning (or Muscle Memory Is Weird)

I started my new temporary gig for my old job this week. It’s kind of weird doing this job but I’m so grateful for it. It is commission only so there’s no guarantee that I will make money, but I’m hopeful that I’ll make some sales and it will be extra money that can be used for paying down my debt.

I’m so lucky that this is yet another job that I can do from home. I think originally this was supposed to be something I did from the office, but because I’m working so few hours each day and I’m doing split shifts it wouldn’t make sense if I had to commute back and forth twice a day. But to know that they are letting me work from home is a sign that they remember me from when I worked before and that they trust me.

Even though I’m not going into the office, it’s so crazy how much this reminds me of my old job. I worked for this company when I started this blog. It’s almost creepy how much this job is like my old one. There are plenty of differences and it’s nice being able to work from home, but it still feels so much the same. And it’s crazy to think that it’s been quite a few years since I had worked there and that’s where I was when I started this. I’m not the same person I was back then, but it still has a weird deja vu quality to it and I’m trying to remind myself I’m not the same.

When I started the job, it took a few calls to get back into the groove of making telesales calls. This is different from what I was trying to sell before (back then it was memberships and tickets and now it’s tickets to a one night only gala) and I’m not as familiar with the theater as I was when I worked there before. I don’t need to know about the season since I’m only working for this gala, but I probably should be doing some research so I’m not totally uninformed. And it is still a bit nerve-racking because I haven’t made a sale yet. But I’m sure I will and once I make a sale I’ll feel so much better about this all.

But the weirdest thing for me is how quickly everything came back to me. I haven’t worked in telesales in several years yet I seem to remember everything. We used to code our leads based on if we got a hold of them or what they said. We had different abbreviations and ways of sorting things so we could stay on top of everything. That was necessarily since there were 5 of us making calls and we didn’t want to call someone back who already said they weren’t interested.

But I’m working on my own and can code and organize things however I want. But even from the very first call, it was an automatic response to code my lead the way I used to. I didn’t even think about it before doing it. It was like my body was on autopilot and I didn’t have to do anything to remember. And I even remembered all the various codes we used (I had to use 5 of them on my first day back).

I know that I remember so much from past jobs, but it’s never been like this. I remember so much from when I was a tour guide at WB, but I couldn’t give a tour again. I just remember lots of random facts and stories. I’ve even gotten a bit lost and turned around on the lot when I’ve been there more recently even though that never would have happened when I worked there. And I still remember lots of weird stuff from when I worked in credit card disputes, but I couldn’t probably win a dispute if I tried from the corporate side now (I can still win probably from the customer side).

But to have everything come back to me immediately was just mind-boggling to me. I even texted my old boss to tell him how I was doing this work again and how everything came back to me without me needing to think about anything. He said that muscle memory is a weird thing and I agree. But then I also joked that this information has been taking up space in my brain that could probably be used for more important stuff.

Since this job is only about 6 weeks, I’m probably not going to try to change anything. It’s nice that I don’t have to worry too much about remembering how to do anything and there’s no reason for me to try to do things differently. When I was doing this before, I made lots of sales. All I can hope for is to do the same with this so that I can make enough money to balance out that I will not be getting hourly pay (which was an option for half of the commission rate). It’s only the first week and I can’t be too worried since I know that sometimes it takes time to get the ball rolling on sales.

Even though it feels like it was years ago, I probably need to still remember that I won’t be able to be back to where I was at the end of my time with that job at the beginning of this job. I need to build up my momentum and soon enough it will feel even more like old times.

So Many Birthdays and Anniversaries! (or A Month Of Celebrating And Remembering)

August is a pretty amazing month for me. Obviously it’s amazing since it’s my birthday month and I usually have lots of birthday celebrations. I think the birthday month thing started because growing up I wasn’t always able to celebrate my birthday on my birthday. When I was in school I would be out-of-town a lot on my birthday. I spent multiple years at summer camp on my birthday so I’d celebrate at camp and then have my birthday party when I got back home toward the end of the month. So I think it’s just a continuation of that when I have a birthday month now.

It also is such a full month of other celebrations so it naturally feels like I can continue my celebrations as well. I don’t want to steal the thunder at someone else’s birthday, but if I’m at a birthday party in August and it comes up that I just had a birthday usually people will say happy birthday to me as well. That doesn’t always happen, but it has happened a lot. And because I have so many different friend groups and we are all so busy, having multiple birthday celebrations seems required.

And it’s not just me that we celebrate toward the beginning of this month. In my birthday week we have my parents’ anniversary, my cousin’s birthday, a friend’s birthday, my birthday twin’s birthday, and my acting coach’s birthday. All of those things take place within 5 days. It’s a lot and it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s especially overwhelming when I have to get cards for everyone. I write down each person and what they are celebrating so I don’t forget anyone. And I usually mail all the cards off at the same time to make things as easy for me as possible.

I love getting to celebrate the people in my life. It’s so fun getting to do that and I love picking out the perfect present for people. And I know I’ve talked about this before, but this is also a bit of a tough time for me. My friend and my acting coach have both passed away in the past few years. I don’t get to celebrate them anymore the same way I used to and it can put a bit of a damper on everything. I miss all the birthday jokes we had together because of the back to back birthdays. And it’s not the same without those stupid jokes.

I try to not be sad about not getting to celebrate them anymore. I’m trying to focus on the happy memories I had with them and to celebrate their lives on their birthday. It’s still weird and I’m still getting used to it. I don’t know if it will ever feel normal that they are gone. And there are still times I forgot that either of them passed away. I will have something happen to me and my first thought is to call one of them. I can’t seem to erase their contact information from my phone so it’s still in there. And just as I’m about to look up their number I remember and stop. Fortunately it’s not that way on their birthdays, but it’s still a bit heartbreaking when it happens.

It does take me by surprise when it hits me this hard each year that they have passed away. I keep thinking that I won’t remember or that it won’t affect me. But it’s still a hole in my heart and I can’t forget about it. But that’s probably just a sign of how much I loved them and how important they were to my life. I know that both my friend and my acting coach changed my life for the better and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without one or both of them in my life. And I’d like to think that if they were still around that they would be proud of me.

There is so much I feel like I’m celebrating this year on my birthday. I wish that I had everyone I love who usually celebrates around the same time as me still alive and able to celebrate too. But this is the reality of life and I know that while things might keep getting easier it will never completely go away. I will always remember that I’m not able to celebrate them the same way, but hopefully I’ll be able to focus on celebrating all the fun that I did have with them while they were still alive and can make their birthdays a positive and happy day for me.

Union Unity (or Giving A Candidate Speech)

I’ve been doing much better with being more involved in the acting world. It is election season and that is pretty exciting. Election season gets me super involved with the community and it’s very exciting for me to get to see the changes that people have been making in the union. And I’ve become more active in the Union Working group. I did miss a meeting due to work, but the most recent meeting was this past week and it was a pretty special meeting.

Union Working is a non-partisan group because the goal is the bring the union together so we can be stronger and unified. But with election season they decided to allow all the candidates who wanted to attend the meeting to give a quick speech so we could share our platform. When I heard about that, I assumed that they meant just the officer and board candidates so I didn’t think too much about it. And when I got to the meeting I was very excited to see how many people were there!

There were a lot of people who are a part of my slate as well as lots of candidates from the other slate or who are running as independents. And while we are not all on the same slate, it is really great to see everyone coming together to try to make the union the best it can be.

The guest for the meeting was a casting director and it was so much fun getting to hear him speak. I actually had met him for the first time my last year of college in a class where we got to learn about the business of acting. I remember the lessons I learned when I met him and I still use those in auditions now. So it was fun to get to see him again and reintroduce myself to him.

After the guest, it was time for the candidate speeches. And then I realized that everyone running in the election would get to give a speech, including me. I had nothing prepared, but I figured I’d try to speak from the heart and not stress too much about it. But before it was my turn, I got to listen to so many amazing (and prepared) speeches. I loved the dedication to the union that Gabrielle Carteris shared and I’m so excited that she’s running for SAG-AFTRA president on the slate I’m a part of.

And before I knew it, it was my turn to go up and speak. I’m not a huge fan of speaking in front of a large crowd. When you act, it’s a smaller crew and you are usually not aware of things. Plus, you aren’t being yourself. But getting up in front of everyone to say why I want to be a delegate is a bit scary.

What I ended up saying was how I consider myself extremely lucky. When I was ready to join the union, I had the guidance from people who I’ve met through The Actors’ Network and through Inside Acting to help guide me on what I should do as a new member. And I got to be a part of Unite for Strength and met more amazing people who have encouraged me to get involved and who have educated me on so many union issues. I only want to pay it forward and being a delegate is the perfect way to do that.

I know I flubbed my words (I couldn’t remember the phrase “pay it forward” and kept saying weird variations of it), but I think everyone knew I spoke from the heart and that I was just being honest. And I bet a lot of people were also very nervous about what they were going to say so they might have been distracted. No matter what, I’m glad I got up to speak and that it seems like my 1 minute speech went over well.

Everyone who was a candidate at the meeting who wanted to speak had the chance to. And since the group is non-partisan they did have a few rules about things we could and couldn’t say in our speeches. Mainly the rule was that the speeches were supposed to be why we wanted to be elected and this was not a time for personal attacks. And I’m glad that with the exception of one person everyone followed that rule. Election season can get a bit harsh and I would rather see people campaigning on why they want to be elected and not why others should not.

After the meeting, most people went to a bar to hang out and have fun. It was nice to have a fun night out with so many friends and just have some good social time. It was meant to also be a time for people to meet the various candidates, but most of us were just enjoying having drinks and catching up on life. I couldn’t stay too late since I had early work the next morning, but I feel like I was there long enough to have fun and not feel like I was missing out.

I’m so glad that I’ve decided to be a part of Union Working. They really are a wonderful and positive group who are working so hard to better the union no matter what slate people may be associated with. And while at the meeting, they were selling Union Working hats so I got one. This way, I can show off my Union Working pride when I’m out and about!

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My August Challenge (or Being Selfish To Be Happy)

Another month is here! I can’t believe July is over and it’s already my birthday month! And as always, a new month brings the recap of my last month’s challenge and announcing what my challenge will be this month.

Last month, I wanted to work on practicing more mindful breathing. More specifically, I set a reminder to work on breathing and staying calm at 2 of the times that I commonly feel like I want to binge eat. This was a challenge idea I got from therapy and I was curious to see how it would go for me. Doing things like this have been tough for me in the past because I get super focused and forget to do it. Or I get distracted by something else and forget. But having a reminder on my phone does help since I have to dismiss it to make it go away.

While I didn’t always do the 10 slow breaths that I planned on doing, this still was a successful challenge to me. If I was feeling like I wanted to binge, this alarm stopped me and made me think. It didn’t always stop it, but at least I was not in the trance that I’m used to being in when having an episode. I was more aware and even if I didn’t always make the right choice I knew it was my choice. Because this gave me so much more awareness, I will be doing this beyond just last month’s challenge. I think that the benefits will continue each month that I do it and it is a helpful thing for me to have.

But doing challenges beyond the month that they are for brings me to this month’s challenge. I really struggled to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve added so much to my days between my happiness checklist and all the monthly challenges that I’ve continued to do. I’ve continued almost all the monthly challenges beyond the month that I did them for and that’s a lot of stuff for me to remember to do.

So this month’s challenge isn’t necessarily something I will be doing every day but instead something that I want to have as a focus for the month in general. I want to focus on figuring out what makes me happy and what I want to continue to do. I have to do so much out of obligation or responsibility and I want to make sure all the stuff I add to my life are for fun and not because I feel like I have to because I’ve been doing that for a while.

On my happiness checklist, most things are things that I want to keep on there. They do make me happy and when I haven’t done something for a while I’m reminded to do so. But the ones I’m thinking about taking off are the ones that I do every day and I don’t have to focus on doing. This mainly is about reading and eating disorder recovery research every day. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t read at least a little bit. I read every single night before bed and I read a lot in my down time too. And I do recovery research every day because I read 10 pages of a recovery book every day. While these things make me happy, I think maybe I should add 2 other things to my list that I don’t do every day so I can challenge myself to keep focusing on my happiness.

And with my monthly challenges, most of the time I want to continue doing them when the month is over. But I’ve been noticing that some things are either stressing me out or I’m not doing them. I need to start removing those reminders from my phone so they don’t remind me that I’m not doing something. It can make me mad when I get a reminder to do something that I know I won’t do. But my idea of wanting to try to be perfect has prevented me from just deleting those reminders. I’m going to go through them this month and figure out what I want to keep, what I want to delete, and what I might want to add.

And when I’m figuring out what I want to edit and add, I have to work on being very honest with myself and not worrying about not being perfect or caring what other people think. That’s not easy for me, but that’s why this is a good challenge for me. It’s my birthday month and I want to make this an amazing month! And I think focusing on exactly what makes me happy is the perfect way to make the month the best it can be!

Back Into The Running Groove (or Feeling Really Great About My Workouts)

This past week wasn’t my best week of workouts, but it was exactly what I needed to do. I’ve been feeling a bit down about my running progress lately and how often I’ve had to power walk instead of run. And having a not-so-great Peak Performance Week really brought me down. I tried to not let it get to me, but it really was making me feel like a bit of a failure in my workouts. Fortunately, I was able to do some stuff this week that really helped me feel like I am strong again and that I’m just in a plateau and not losing progress.

Monday’s workout was a 3G one and it was a power day. Not only was it a power day (which are normally my best running days), it was a switch day so I wasn’t on the treadmill for very long at once. Each section of the room had 3 blocks (so 9 blocks total) and I was able to start on the treadmill like I like to. Each treadmill block started with a 90 second push pace followed 30 second all out intervals. I was able to run all the push and all out paces without struggling too much. It felt really great and freeing to be running like that again. I never knew that I could miss running, but clearly I had been.

On the rower, we had the same pattern as the treadmill with the 90 second push pace followed by 30 second all out intervals. I didn’t do any spectacular rowing, but that wasn’t really my focus during the workout. I do my best rowing when we have a timed or distance event that I can work toward. This time, I was just focused on trying to row the entire time I was on the rower and not how far I was going or how high my wattage was.

And on the floor, we had a nice mix of things. Everything that we did was 7 reps and that helped to make things easy. We had squat swings, mountain climbers, lunges with hops, squat jacks, and roll outs. We also had pike to knee tucks on the ab dolly. Those are extremely tough for me to do because I still struggle with doing knee tucks with my toes on the ab dolly. But it’s almost too easy for me now to do them on my knees. It’s tough that I can’t find a good middle ground, but for now I’m doing what I can on my toes before switching to my knees. This time, I only could do 1 pike on my toes before I had to stop. So I did double the knee tucks to make up for it.

Wednesday’s workout was an endurance day where we didn’t switch between blocks. Those are the toughest ones for me for running, but I had extra motivation to try my best in that workout. Whitney used to be one of my regular coaches, but she doesn’t coach at the times I go to now. The last time I saw her was when we ran into each other at Disneyland. So when I got to class and realized that Whitney was coaching, I was super excited! I love all my coaches and I’m always sad when I don’t get to see someone regularly. So this was a special treat and motivated me to push myself harder.

The treadmill was 3 blocks and they were pretty tough for me. The first block started with a 4 minute progressive push pace where you are supposed to increase your pace every minute. I was able to go from 4.5mph to 4.6mph after the first minute, but I couldn’t go any faster after that. But to do 4 minutes of running is good for me since I haven’t really done that in a while. After the long push, we had a long base pace followed by a short push to all out pace. The next block had a shorter first push pace but a longer second push pace. And the last block had an even shorter first push pace and a longer push pace leading up to the all out. It was a lot of running, but again it felt really great to do it.

The floor was one long block that took up the second half of class. It was a mix of weights, strap work, body weight work, and rowing. For weights, we did lateral raises and squat rows. For straps we had high rows and chest presses. For body weight work we had push ups and running men. And for rowing we started with 400 meter rows that went up by 200 meters each time. It was tough because it felt like some of the work we did back to back was using the same muscles (squat rows to rows on the straps and chest presses to push ups), but I managed to make it through 2 full rounds. The goal was to do 3 full rounds, but I didn’t quite make it back to the rower for the last round.

And of course, since it’s a rare treat to have Whitney as my coach we had to get a selfie together after class. I was so gross and sweaty, but I still had a smile on my face from an awesome workout!

Friday’s workout was a run/row day. I was pretty excited for a run/row since I had been making so many improvements with my running. And this was going to be a challenge for me. The running segments were longer than they usually are for run/row days. The first round was .75 miles and the second round was .5 miles. I kept my speed stable at 4.5mph and was able to run the entire distance both times! It wasn’t easy to do .75 miles but I felt so accomplished once I finished it. And while I only made it half way through the run/row assignment (the rows I did were 250 meters and 500 meters), I think getting the running done as a full run was worth the extra time it took me.

The floor had 3 blocks and they were a good variety of things. The first block was all body weight work with squats, pop jacks, and sit ups. The second block was all weight work and we were encouraged to try to use the same weight for all the exercises. We had rows, squats, shoulder presses, deadlifts, and lunges. The weight I used was a challenge for most things, but it was too light for the deadlifts. I probably should have switched my weights up for that, but I was more focused on getting through the rounds and not how easy the weights were for that move. And the last block was a core blast that had knee tucks, leg lifts, and crunches.

And I was able to do a Saturday workout too! And the running theme continued this week (it’s like Orangetheory knew I needed a running focused week) with the 3G workout I had. The treadmill block was a 12 minutes for distance run. I know that in the past I could run for 12 minutes without stopping, but I wasn’t sure that was going to happen this time. I was very tired from not sleeping that well the night before and I was tired from the workout the day before.

My plan was to keep the speed at 4.5mph and go as long as I could run before needing to take a walking break. Ideally, I would have been able to run the entire thing but I was realistic and didn’t push myself to the point that I was hurting. I managed to run for about 4 minutes before I had to go down to a walk. My plan then was to walk for about 3 or 4 minutes and then start running again. But after my walking break I tried to run again and my body wasn’t able to do it. I did end up running for the last minute of the 12 minute run, but it was disappointing that I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to. Still, my distance wasn’t too bad considering how much walking I did.

Next I went to the rowers where we started with an 800 meter row followed by squats. Then the row went down to 600 meters and more squats. I had just started the 400 meter row when time was called to switch. I didn’t do any spectacular times on my row, but just like earlier in the week my focus was really more on just rowing without stopping and not going fast. And on the floor we had squats, tricep work on the straps, plank work, and toe reaches. It was a hard block but I tried to only take breaks in-between exercises and not in the middle of a set.

I thought that the class was only going to have one rotation around the room, but there was one more short rotation after that. Everything was 2 minutes long. On the treadmill it was a push to all out pace and I had to walk it. The rower was also a push to all out pace. And the floor was skaters and plank jacks. It was a tough workout, but when it was done I was pretty happy that I had another running day where I was pushing myself.

This was exactly the week that I needed in my workouts. It pushed me harder than I had been pushed before and it reminded me what I am able to do with running. I’ve been underestimating myself and letting my mind control what my body can do. But obviously I’m stronger than that and this past week proved that to me again.