Harry Potter and the Strength Inside

Such a wonderful weekend! After work on Friday, I got moving in the kitchen to chop up some salads for dinner for me and my sister. Once we were done eating and chilling for awhile, the family (minus my brother-in-law who was on a hiking trip) went out for some ice cream on a perfect summer evening. I’m loving the purple cow frozen yogurt, which is black raspberry base with dark and white chocolate chips.

The next morning, I was back at it for work, and when I got home, it was nice to relax by the pool. Later that afternoon, my sister and I headed into town to get our tattoos. I’ve been wanting to commemorate my weight loss journey for awhile, and I finally found the perfect encapsulation!

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Strength is a reminder of what I’ve done, yet it is does not describe the end result so much as the path I had to take, the choices I had to make, and the ideology I possessed in order to keep going. The supremely cool part about it is that it’s written in my own cursive! Now whenever I’m running or lifting weights, or need strength in any other little or big task, I can just sneak a glimpse and move forward!

Up next, Lauren and I had a celebration to attend. Not only is July 31st the birthday of the greatest writer who ever lived, JK Rowling, and her creation, Harry Potter, but there was a midnight release of the next chapter of the Harry Potter legacy. The Cursed Child is in play form, which I wish desperately I could see in London, and it was fantastic. JK Rowling asked fans who saw the show not to spoil it and fans who were waiting eagerly to see or read not to seek spoilers, and I listened. Don’t mess with the queen! I read it in under three hours, crying, laughing, and reminiscing. A real blessing.

Here are some highlights of the midnight release at Barnes and Noble:

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Such a treat to wake up on Sunday morning, make an amazing breakfast, and read this spectacular play!

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After reading, I got down to Sunday chore business. First, a four mile run and a one mile walk that I crushed- thank Dumbledore for no humidity! Next, a little vacuuming action, some meal prep for the busy work days ahead, laundry washed and folded, and blog posts to write!

An awesome Sunday!

Some Thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I have so much to say and don’t know how to say it. Other times, I have nothing to say and I still don’t know how to say it. I have not been a good blogger of late, but my fingers are itching to type and my mind is itching to expel some sort of nonsense into meaning.

It’s officially summertime. Warm, humid, buggy. The sun is shining. The air is fresh. There is so much to look forward to and so much that frightens me, but it’s all exciting in its own right. In time, maybe that last statement will make sense.

On my run today, my legs were aching. I’ve felt a little uninspired by my workouts lately, which I fixed with an updated exercise plan that I’m excited to use, but today it was soreness plain and simple. It was hot, but not in an uncomfortable way and things started out well enough. I knew it was going to be a struggle when my legs were shot running downhill. I allowed myself to walk when I needed and to run when I could. I completed five miles overall, probably 70-30 running-walking and I felt my strongest near the end. Had the pain been unbearable or damaging, I would have stopped, but I think it was more that I needed to stretch out my legs. I started my workout with some Yoga and core action and the first day of my squat challenge, which shouldn’t have left me so sore.

When I got home, I fixed myself a salad with leftover chicken and the rest of the macaroni and cheese on the side, while I played another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am seriously obsessed. It got to the point where I needed a shower desperately and once I finished, I planned to hole myself up in my air conditioned room to do some writing, particularly a special speech I will be making very soon. Too soon for comfort. This speech happens to be the one I’ll be making at my sister and her fiancee’s wedding and because it is one of the most important things I’ll write/say, it’s proving to be difficult. When you try too hard to be poignant and poetic, it’s turns out cliche and crappy.

I’m working on it.

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic of late in a lot of ways. Before I opened up this document, I found a binder of all of these pictures my former kindergarten students made for me and it made me miss them and sad that they are no longer a prevalent part of my life, nor am I in their’s. I mean, they are going to be third graders, which just seems impossible. Next to it, I found a binder full of old papers and stories I wrote in college and my senior year of high school. I don’t miss high school so much and as much as I loved college, I was definitely ready to be done when I graduated, but it’s that realization that those times existed and you can never return to them. Everything is always romanticized once it’s in the past, but there has to be some merit to that feeling.

I know I need to make more of an effort to blog. Despite my best efforts, I am a creature of habit, and I feel like these past few weeks have been passing in a bit of a fog. I’m not so much in a funk as I’m feeling overwhelmed and things like blogging fall to the wayside. I also have felt uninspired by posting just what I’ve been eating and what exercises I’ve been doing and so I stopped. We live in a world where it’s too easy to share your opinion, but difficult to find the best words to express it.

I guess the best way to describe my mantra of these next few weeks/months/lifetime, is not to forget that while you’re living your life, appreciate the things that are currently happening. I find myself clinging onto the past and thinking about the future. I don’t want to be blurred.

Tomorrow is a new day, but I still have today to claim. <Poetic and poignant or cliche and crappy?>

A Moment and then Movement

Before I begin this week’s Workout Wednesday, I want to take a moment and tell you that today would have been my Nana’s 90th birthday. We lost her thirteen years ago earlier this month and I still miss her dearly. No doubt she is celebrating with a drink and her sisters up in Heaven. My family speculates that she is where I get my penchant for celebrities, parties, and conspiracy theories. There really was no one quite like her and I am grateful for the eleven years I did have with her, reading People Magazine over her shoulder, trying to learn how to write the letter A with her frustrated because I kept writing it upside down, watching her try to get off the moving log ride at Storyland in time then having to go again because she couldn’t and then again when her horse in the merry go ride stopped at the highest point, and the time she had to swat the ants off my ass when I sat in a pile, laughing and muttering obscenities under her breath. Everything she did, she did with a smile, gentle care, and with a touch of sarcasm, which are other facets I hope I get from her. She was one of the strongest, most selfless, and most loving people that I have had the pleasure of knowing, and so it is with bittersweet emotions that I say, Happy Birthday.

Now to take a more judging stance, at the gym, I just witnessed a man stack the barbell with a ton of weight, do two reps, wait five minutes in between each set and only do that three times. He struggled through them and didn’t even complete them fully, which makes me question what his intention is.

When weight lifting, I’ve read many different accounts, and I myself feel as though it is important to push yourself, but only to a point. You want to be able to get through a number of reps, rest, and do a couple of sets of each move. If you put on too much weight and can’t do the moves properly or fully you will hurt yourself and/or make very little improvement. To each their own, I suppose.

From what I’ve read, if you can’t do a move at a certain weight at least five times in a row properly, then it’s too much weight. It just gets me when people feel as though exercise is about killing yourself, when what you really want to do is improve. Working out and pushing your body is so important, but not to the extent of your health!

This past week, I played kickball and found out that I’m actually pretty clumsy. As I was running to first base, I almost tripped over myself (the ball was caught in the air anyways) and then I stumbled trying to field as well. I did make one pretty good catch and was feeling pretty good about my abilities until of course I was running to second on a play and remembered my fateful fall. I am glad to say I have made a full recovery and there has been no pain in the past week!

The next day, I did some strength training and a quick elliptical workout. Since my college roommate was visiting for the weekend, on Saturday, all we did was walk around, which is acceptable, but I was raring to go on Sunday.

That day, I did another strength and elliptical workout, along with some core exercises. I’ve been trying to increase my plank, and I am now up to about a minute and fifteen to a minute and thirty, though I feel like last week I was doing two full minutes. I think that this is partly because instead of only planking once, I include them in my core circuit so in the end, I’m actually doing more time spread out.

Monday, I was loving the fall air and went out for a run after a long walk with the dog. I came back and did some body strength and core moves, including some Yoga.

The next day, I went to the gym and did a few moves with the medicine ball, including my hated burpees. This move is the pits, but I included a quick ball lift and throw down to make it even more fun (sarcasm noted). At the end, I did some box jumps and jump rope before heading down to the pool to swim laps. It feels as though it takes a long time to swim a mile, and maybe it is, but I have been getting faster. Only 43.5 minutes this time around and I was huffing and heaving by the end of it. I completed my day with an even longer walk with the dog, which left me feeling a bit parched.

Today, I went through another strength workout. To change it up a bit, I incorporated eight moves using heavy weights and performed them in five sets of ten reps and then did eight body strength moves in four sets of twelve reps. I was feeling nice and sweaty, but strong, after and went out for a quick two mile run to try and improve my speed. My legs were feeling tired, but I’m definitely seeing an improvement! I topped it off with a mile walk to recover.

The biggest issue I’ve been dealing with these week are respiratory problems that seem to be correlated to my allergies. I have always suffered through spring, but never summer or fall before this past year. An allergy pill will usually help, but I needed to switch products because during random parts of the day and night, my lungs felt as though there were pressure on them and at times I was wheezing. I can handle to disgusting nose dripping because I can just blow it away, but the constricted breathing is scary. Luckily, they did not happen at times during my workout, and I never would have exercised in that moment, so it leads me to believe that it’s not anything more serious than allergies. With a new brand, I have been feeling improvements. Let’s hope there won’t be any allergies in winter at least! I want to eat apples again!

A Little Bit Of Mushiness Never Hurt Anyone

On this would be Rave Review Tuesday, I have little to offer in that department since I am finishing my re-read of Harry Potter and my assumption is you will soon be tired of me talking about it. Perhaps next week, when I am officially done (for now), I will offer my perspective on the series. For now however, I haven’t seen or read anything new in awhile.

I will say that I must be getting older because I had no idea what “bae” meant until less than an hour ago. The bad part about this is that I thought I knew and I was wrong, which is just embarrassing. I thought it was another term for “beau” or lover, but in fact it means, “before anything else.” I mean, who even comes up with that? My cousin Michael had to tell me.

On a more serious note, to something that connects but does not necessarily seem to, I am realizing that it has now been 13 years since my grandfather has passed. Since graduating high school, I would say that time has appeared to be moving at a much faster clip than I realized before, but perhaps I’ve just done more in my life in these past years. Maybe I have a better understanding of how precious time is. However, it seems odd that the summer of 2001 could have been that long ago. It strikes me that I have lived a longer life without him than I did with him.

I’ve always believed that it borders on unfair that, if we are among the lucky ones to even get them at this point, we have our grandparents with us in our younger years. It is a blessing and a curse because we need them in our formative years, to love and influence us. But we also need them as we get older, to guide us and support us in a way that no other person can. I lost my grandfather when I was 11 years old, but I wish more than anything I had him now, because I was far too young to appreciate him.

Grandparents should be cherished, and this is something I wish to impress upon my own children one day. I love hearing stories that my father, uncles, or grandma tell me more about the person my grandpa was. I know that he loved Pepsi, and even though I don’t drink soda, whenever I see a blue can, I smile and think of him. I know that he worked hard for his large family every day of his life, despite the struggles and hardships bestowed upon him. I know that he loved my grandma and his family very much and I was among them.

Not a day passes that I don’t wonder what he might think of me now. I mourn for him and for the memories that, however revered, are no longer as strong after so long. I mourn also for the questions I never asked, for the hugs I didn’t get to give, and for the wisdom I could have learned from him had I had the capacity and understanding to sit down and really listen.

I would never go as far as to say these moments and those memories are wasted on the youth, because that wouldn’t be fair. But I do try to live my life with a little more purpose, an open mind, and a curiosity that stretches towards the ones I love and what makes them, them.

We all have our life stories. These stories are all fraught with obstacles and pain, but love and imagination so brilliant that even if not able to be shared with the world, are shared with the people closest to us. That is far more important than how many reads I get on this blog that aren’t my family members and friends who I’ve pressured into reading, or how many Twitter followers I try to accumulate with my witticisms.

Over the past year especially, I feel as though I have reconnected, or maybe strengthened is the better term, my relationships with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Family is important, essential to the building block who a person is, and I am incredibly lucky to say that I have a wonderful family. Every single one of them, immediate or extended, are remarkable people.

At the risk of sounding mushy, I will say that the anniversary of my grandpa’s death has brought much perspective and reflection upon this past year, as well as the last 13 we’ve lived without him.

I just want to say that I miss him and for me, my best way of coping is to express myself through writing. If you can do one thing today, tomorrow, or for the rest of your life, hug someone, anyone, and everyone who you love and sit with them, listen, and learn who they are, what they have to say, and in turn, share yourself.

Okay, so that’s two things.

I no longer want to be missing the moments I didn’t have because I will be sure now to make them happen.

RIP Grandpa. You are very much missed.