Random Happenings

A lot has been going on in my life lately (mostly resulting from things done during July: The Month of No Fear), so much that I'm behind in writing about it. Recent life experiences have given me about 200+ ideas for blog posts that I want to write. Along with the big things, there have also been a lot of little random happenings that I wanted to share with the world. Please enjoy the following randomness.

1. An Encounter with a Friendly, Generous Stranger at the Honda Dealership.

Jessica and I took the Civic in for an, er, slightly overdue oil change. As we were sitting in the waiting room at the Honda dealership, a tall, quite rotund, older gentleman in a blue Honda polo and khakis approached us.

"Would you two ladies like some watermelon while you're waiting? We just cut up a big one back in the breakroom."

Growing up, my mom told me about ten thousand times to refuse offers from strangers, especially strange men, especially strange men offering food. And normally, I'd be too shy to say "yes" because it seems rude to take free food from other people in the first place, who are probably only asking to be nice and don't really want to share their things. But it was around lunch time, and the man seemed so jovial and friendly and sincere. At his insistence, we accepted his offer, and he waddled away and disappeared behind the counter. He returned in a couple of minutes, smiling brightly, with two giant pieces of fresh, cold watermelon, complete with forks, napkins, and even salt (because apparently, some people salt their watermelons). He showed us to some tables in the lobby and left us alone to enjoy the melon. Not once did he try to sell us a new car!

His attitude and his free watermelon made my day.

2. The Ultimate Doctor Who Experience.

This summer, I've successfully hooked my sister on Doctor Who. We started with episode one, "Rose", and now, five seasons later, we've made it to the Matt Smith era. My favorite. Yay! I found some Jammie Dodgers at Publix in the British section of the international foods aisle (I love Publix!). The Eleventh Doctor has a thing for Jammie Dodgers, so I felt it was necessary for a proper viewing party. I fixed a nice cup of tea in my London mug and sat down to watch the next episode. Tada! (Also note Jessica's pink dotted pajama pants on the left side of the photo; pajama pants are also a necessity).

3. Anniston Runners Club Merchandise.

The Anniston Runners Club, which I crazily joined in July, had a booth set up at the packet pick-up for Woodstock. They had all sorts of cool merchandise for sale at clearance prices. I thought I could really motivate myself by getting a shirt with their logo on it; nobody wants to halfway workout while sporting the ARC logo across their chest. But alas, they were sold out of everything in my size. Except for socks. 

So I got the socks. I can always use more socks, anyway. And these are some pretty professional-looking ones!

I also got a 5K sticker to put on my car. I felt I had earned it after running most of Woodstock this time.

4. Weird Kitty Needs a Name.

The precious little kitty my sister brought home from work back in May is enjoying being a housecat, and apparently she likes to watch TV. She's grown a whole lot since we first adopted her, and thankfully, she seems to be showing signs of mental growth as well. It's about time. The cat is kind of insane. She was really sweet and calm at first, but the bigger she grew, the crazier she became. She darts around, leaps into the air for no apparent reason, races around the house and flies into walls, chases her own tail, eats cantaloupe, likes to sit on top of the cat food bag, and goes sliding across the hardwood floor kind of like this:

Yet after all that personality, she still doesn't have a name!!! It's been over three months since we got her, and she's still "The Cat". Nothing seems to fit. Any ideas???

5. A No-Heat Curl Technique that Actually Works!

I found this online:

Usually, these things are big failures, but I thought I'd try it anyway. I used three socks and slept in it overnight. This was what I got the next morning:

Immediately after removing the socks
Twisted with a hair clip.
Messy curls, yet curly for sure!
The results were even better than what I get with a curling iron, so I was really impressed. I will definitely try it again, maybe with more socks. And I need to figure out how to make the curls be at the top of the hair also, because as you can see, it only curled the bottom half. Still, really easy and effective!

Woodstock 2013

This time last year, I posted an entry about my very first race, the Woodstock 5K in Anniston. I was so immensely proud of myself for doing something so unlike Old Jennifer. Woodstock was the race that started it all; from that day, I was hooked. 

Since then, I've lost 30 pounds. I've been jogging three days a week consistently over the past twelve months, so my endurance and speed have improved drastically. I couldn't wait to give Woodstock another try. I couldn't wait to see my personal progress measured objectively in photographs and chip times, as well as subjectively through my own actual experience on and after the course. 

So, unsurprisingly, here are some side by side comparison photos!

Before the race:

After the race:

On the course, I felt so much more energy and stamina than last year. I could feel the difference in my lighter weight. I got winded a few times, but I never started wheezing. I didn't walk with jogging breaks, I jogged with walking breaks, and very few of them. Only about four times did I stop to catch my breath, and when I did, it only took a few seconds, then it was back to jogging. 

Last year, when I ran across the finish line, I nearly collapsed. I saw sparkling lights and stars. I felt my stomach churning, threatening to empty itself in the middle of the crowd. We had to leave quickly so I could sit down and recover. 

Not this year! Yeah, the finish line dizziness came again, but it only lasted a few seconds, then I was feeling awesome! I experienced no nausea. In fact, I was hungry enough to eat the free food.

That's when I met a personal goal of mine. It's a Woodstock tradition for the local Waffle House restaurant to set up a tent with a griddle, where they fry up free hashbrowns for the runners. I wanted some last year, but I was just too sick. But guess what???

I ATE FREE HASHBROWNS! Smothered and covered with onions and cheese. They were the best darn hashbrowns I'd ever eaten! I guess it says a lot about me that my proudest moment of race day was probably eating the hashbrowns...

I was also glad that Anna got to do the race this time. She's heard me talk about Woodstock over and over again throughout the past year, and I was excited for her to join in on the good times. She looked super cute in her pigtails and "Run" shirt!

And Jessica did the race again this year! She really impressed me, too. She ran the first mile nonstop, a first for her. I was pretty far behind her during that first mile, just watching her, totally astounded and proud of her determination. She was looking adorable as well! And fit!

So, the final rundown?

Last year's finishing time- 46:23.
This year's- 35:59. 

It didn't set or even meet a personal record, but that's well over 11 minutes faster than last year, with an average of less than 12 minutes per mile.

Last year's rankings: 
In my age group of 20-24: #51 of 54
Overall: #1118

This year's rankings:
In my age group of 20-24: #20 of 36
Overall: #685

That's a ridiculous jump in rankings! I mean, I'm clearly not gonna win any medals with numbers like that, but wow! As far as beating myself, I really did it! And that is all that matters.

Here's a great, very appropriate quote to end this post:

Goodbye, Month of No Fear; Hello, August!

I approached a weeping angel. Even took a picture. (Doctor Who fans will understand this fear.)
Sorry I disappeared for a while. After seeing that top photo, my fellow Whovians might assume I got zapped back to 1934, back before laptops and internet and Life is For Living. Sometimes, I wish that were the case. But I've just been too busy to write.

And, well, perhaps a little embarrassed.

The Month of No Fear made me realize something about myself: fears and anxieties turn me to food. Facing a fear each day seemed like a really cool, inspiring, adventurous idea that could only propel me forward. I've been hiding in my shell for too long, and I wanted to venture outward. But I had no idea that shifting my focus from weight loss to wild, fearless pursuits would kill my weight loss efforts. I have been dreading sharing this, but here goes.

In the month of July, I gained 9 pounds. 

Most of my anxiety came from joining that blasted dating site. I went from talking to no one to getting messages from multiple guys each day. I messaged back. Then the prospect of meeting in person came up. I freaked out. Started questioning everything. Why did I join a dating site? Why did I let social and familial expectations talk me into something like this, when I'm not even sure I'm ready to date?

I ended up blocking I don't know how many guys. I was actually starting to lose sleep over them. However, I am still talking to one. We exchanged e-mail addresses, and now we talk outside of the dating site. And we might have set up a lunch meeting for next week. (GASP!) Please say a prayer for me. I'm truly terrified.

I never heard back from the UCP Telethon coordinator I e-mailed about performing. But in other frightening musical pursuits, I did film another cover, and I uploaded it to YouTube. I'll face yet another fear and post it here:

I went to an intimidatingly cool music store in Birmingham. Alone. I bought a new capo and a windscreen for my mic so I could start recording songs again. (And I recorded 3 new mp3s!)

I spent two nights in a supposedly haunted hotel in Mobile, Alabama. The Malaga Inn. So beautiful and charming and really quite magical. I felt like I'd gone back in time. (Didn't see or hear any spirits, though.)

I went to church by myself again on a hair day so bad I almost stayed home. Instead of pulling my uncontrollable thick hair into a big, bushy, Hermione Granger-ish ponytail like always, I ignored the hateful, critical voice in my head, found some courage, and went au nautrale. Sounds lame, but I've never done that before. I have stayed home because of bad hair days in the past. (I guess I'll use any excuse to avoid social contact.)

That's about all I can think of. Thanks to eHarmony, the latter part of July ending up turning into an anxiety-ridden early life crisis. I want to dedicate an entire post to the details of that experience, but I can't seem to organize my thoughts well enough. There's still so many doubts and uncertainties when it comes to dating and my future marriage and just my future in general. More on that to come, I'm sure.

So yeah. I wound up back in the 190's. I've since lost 4 of those 9 gained pounds, and I was back to 187 at my last weigh-in. I'm starting to get back on track (for the ZILLIONTH time). But that's why I'm calling August The Month of Rededication. I have to refocus on the things that are currently very important in my life, the things that I've let get out of hand lately:

1) My ever-struggling relationship with God.

More specifically, talking to Him. I had gotten into the habit of using a prayer journal each day, but I let it go over the summer. It's time to pick that back up and focus on praying for specific people and situations again.

2) Weight loss.

Obviously. The year is halfway gone, and I keep moving backwards. I could and should reach my goal weight this year. I have to keep trying. It's back to basics on this one.

3) Money.

After May: The Month of No Spending, my finances were perfect and stress-free. June went well, too. Then in July, I realized that getting out and doing things costs money. I ran my credit card bill up again, despite the fact that one of the goals for 2013 is to use the credit card for emergencies only. So. It's gonna have to be back to May's rules for me.

Rededication. Recommitment. Refocusing. That's what August is going to be about. Here's my rules (which I have posted in my room to remind me):

*#10 is referring to the random, spur-of-the-moment trips I make to Birmingham to get out of my annoying hometown for a while. These trips are nice, but they waste money and gas and really serve no purpose, since in the end, I still have to come home and I usually end up even sadder than when I left. So. When the urge to go on one of these excursions hits, I have to do one of the local 5K routes.

I hate that I'm going to have to start counting calories again, but that's how I've lost weight successfully in the past. That's how I lost the first 50 pounds. Then I got cocky. I started thinking I had memorized how many calories were in just about anything, plus I began thinking I didn't need to do cardio every day as long as I ran three times a week. And that's when the weight loss stopped. So. Counting calories and adding in extra cardio.

Well, that's it for now. What have you guys been up to over the last few weeks? Do any of you have any goals for August?