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Another Reason I Love my Job

While I was getting my master’s degree in counseling, I asked my professor, “Is it ever appropriate to do counseling barefoot?” (I was a gymnast for 17 years. I think better when I’m in bare feet.)

“Only if you work at outdoor school,” he replied.

I guess I’m lucky that I changed careers to become a lawyer.

Typical Day at the Office

Typical Day at the Office

First (and Last) Trail Race

Last weekend, I did my first – and last – trail race.

This is my friend Kolby doing the same race I didn't finish. - still smiling at Mile 11.

This is my friend Kolby doing the same race I didn’t finish – still smiling at Mile 11.

To date, I’ve completed five half marathons (road races), and I was looking for something different to change it up a bit. Plus, one of my personal goals is to get more dirty, so the idea of running along dirt trails and through streams seemed like something I’d enjoy. Years ago, I did the Phoenix Summit Challenge – seven mountains in one day – so I have some experience doing speed work on trails. I figured this would be more of the same, just a little bit faster.

I was wrong.

I signed up for the Xterra Black Canyon trail race – a half marathon just north of Phoenix. The finish line is right next to the Rock Springs Café, one of the most popular pie shops in Arizona. We parked at the finish line and buses drove us into the desert to the starting line. I was excited to tackle this new challenge, but that excitement vanished in the first mile when I rolled my ankle.

I knew it the moment it happened. There weren’t any pops or snaps; I felt the ligaments in my right ankle stretch like a rubber band pulled to its limits. I kept running, hoping the pain would dissipate in a few minutes. That hope turned into anger with every step as the pain persisted. There were only four aid stations in this race. Thankfully the first one was at Mile 2. As I rested for a few minutes, I told the volunteer I was injured. He told me they could get me out and that there was another jeep at the next aid station.

I didn’t want to end my race at Mile 2. I got up before dawn and drove an hour to do a trail race, damn it!

Knowing that the next aid station was only 2 miles away, I pushed on – sometimes walking, sometimes jogging. I was so pissed – angry that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race and angry that I was injured. I warned the runners around me, “I’m going to scream. I promise it’s not about you.” And I proceeded to scream and curse for the next 2 miles whenever my frustration bubbled over.

My ankle hurt with each step. Despite the pain, I considered finishing the race. Then, I remembered something Rocky told me years ago. He reminded me not to kill myself while I was training when the goal was a bigger event. This was supposed to be a fun race, and I had other things on the horizon where I needed my foot to work. So, at the next aid station, I dropped out of the race and hitched a ride back to the finish line with the volunteers. By the way, riding on a bumpy road with a swollen ankle is not fun either.

I have no intention of doing another trail race. It’s too bad I don’t like trail races – everyone I know who does them, loves them. I’ll stick to running on the road and hiking in the mountains – once my ankle heals.

It’s been a week since the injury, and I can walk again, but my ankle still hurts. I hope I’ll be pain-free and running again in another week.

Paying it Forward to the Hounds

I adopted Rosie from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue in 2012. Having this dog completely changed my life. I am beyond grateful to this rescue organization for saving her. Now we’re paying it forward to other hounds.

Rosie and I at the AZBHR Picnic 2014

Ruth and Rosie at the AZBHR Picnic – October 2014

Before they rescued her, Rosie was in rough shape. She had neglectful owners who didn’t notice that she had growths in her mouth that had to be surgically removed. I doubt they ever trimmed her nails because they got so long they curled under and were digging into the pads of her paws. Somewhere along the way, someone or something took a notch out of one of her floppy ears. How could anyone treat this dog so badly?

The Rescue got her out of that situation, provided the medical care she needed, and placed her with a foster family who showered her with love. I remember the day of our meet and greet. I took one look at Rosie and thought, “We’re done. That’s my dog.” It was love at first sight.

The Arizona Basset Hound Rescue cares for and places dozens of dogs every year. They even have “Angel Hounds” that are on adoptable due to medical reasons or other issues, but that the Rescue places with a foster family and cares for them for the rest of their lives.

Pirate Pup - March 2015

Pirate Pup – March 2015

I’m so grateful to this organization for taking care of Rosie, and I feel lucky that I haven’t had to flinch any time she’s needed medical attention. She’s been a bit of million dollar dog with a getting valley fever in 2013 and then glaucoma last year. I’m fortunate to be in a position that I can provide for all of her needs.  I feel that it’s the least we can do to help this Rescue care for other dogs in the same way.

Rosie and I will be walking with the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue in the Phoenix St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 12th to raise money for this organization. The rescue calls this event Waddle O’ the Green. This name is perfect because basset hounds’ spines are so long that their butts sway back and forth when they walk. One of Rosie’s nicknames is “Waddles.” We are well on our way to reaching our fundraising goal, and we would love it if everybody in our extended circle of loved ones could contribute to this cause.

Rosie has brought so much joy to my and other people’s lives. I feel this is the least we can do to pay it forward to the next hound that needs rescuing.

Spring Cleaning – Decluttering Paper Again

As a minimalist, I think I’ve done a good job of eliminating the stuff from my life that doesn’t add any value to it. Instead, I try to surround myself with things that make me more efficient and comfortable and I put more energy towards experiences than acquiring tangible stuff. However, my Achilles heel when it comes to being a minimalist, is paper clutter.

Buried Again by projectbamboo from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Buried Again by projectbamboo from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

There is a lot of paper in my life. I admit I kill lots of trees because I have to write down ideas in order to process them, and I’m that person who prints off stuff at work and writes notes on it by hand. It’s just how I work best. I understand it. I accept it. But it also generates a lot of paper clutter around me. And one of the things that makes me more anxious and less clearheaded, is having a cluttered workspace and a cluttered home. So then all my paper clutter ends up in piles  around the house and the office, and it takes me months to deal with it. I also have to deal with other paper clutter like receipts I have to save for tax purposes and business cards I get at events. I have systems for dealing with these things, but I suck at implementing them on an ongoing basis.

I’ve done a minimalism project before around my paper clutter – I challenge myself to deal with every new piece of paper in my life within 24 hours. This time, for the month of March, I am going to use The Minimalism Game, invented by The Minimalists, to deal with the paper clutter in my home.

The game is very simple and lasts one month. On the first day, you eliminate one item. On the second day you eliminate 2 items. Whatever day you are on, that’s how many things you have to eliminate from your life, so on the 31st, I will have to eliminate 31 items. The amount you have to remove each day is manageable (especially since I’ll be minimizing paper), but in aggregate, it has a big impact. If I follow the rules of the game, I will eliminate 496 items of paper during the month of March. (If I run out of paper to declutter (yay me!) I’ll move on to decluttering my inboxes.)

I have 2 caveats for myself in regards to playing The Minimalism Game:

  1. The game does not apply to new paper entering my life. At the end of each day, I have to have a net loss based on however many items I have to eliminate that day. So if I get 5 pieces of mail on the first day, I have to eliminate 6 items to have a net loss of 1 for the day.
  2. I am allowed to work ahead. The goal is to eliminate 496 items over the course of the month. If I get on a role and eliminate 50 items on day 1, I only have to eliminate 446 more items during the rest of the month. This particularly makes sense for me because I will be traveling for a few days in March. I need to be able to work ahead were play catch up as needed, but I hope, for the most part, that I’m all eliminating paper clutter almost every day. The game is merely a guide.

You are welcome to play The Minimalism Game with me. It’s a great way to get started with minimalism if you want to decrease the excess clutter in your life. My goal isn’t just to make my house look cleaner, but also help me feel less anxious and more creative as a result of having a space that is more conducive for my needs.

Getting to Fuck It

Sometimes the best thing I can do is say, “Fuck it.”

Phil - Monument Valley by Jared Eberhardt from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Phil – Monument Valley by Jared Eberhardt from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

“Fuck it” may be the ultimate statement of commitment, saying “I’m in” or “I’m out” while blocking all other thoughts. It is a statement of acceptance – wholeheartedly embracing a course of action and its consequences.

“Fuck it” is best used in situations where there’s no going back. As a person who struggles with indecisiveness, getting to “fuck it” is an effective goal for me. Honoring this makes it easier to block the mental and actual chatter around me and within my head. I used “fuck it” when I went skydiving, when I made the decision to go to law school, and when I went to my first flash mob when all my friends bailed on me. (“Fuck it” can also be used to make really bad decisions like getting wasted and putting my fingers down my throat to make myself throw up.)

When I was a first-year law student, I wrote Seven Layers of Academic Hell. The seventh layer is “Fuck it.” Here, “fuck it” doesn’t mean I didn’t care about doing well in school. It meant I didn’t care about law school stress and other distractions. My mind got very quiet and I could focus on learning what I had to in order to properly articulate my understanding of the course material for the final exam. “Fuck it” can be a Zen-like state.

“Fuck it” makes life more simple. As an aspiring minimalist, I embrace “fuck it.” To me, saying “fuck it” means releasing the superfluous mental garbage, mentally locking in to the one thing that needs to be done, and following it through.

Getting to “fuck it” is simple, and not always easy. It often takes courage and the willingness to be uncomfortable in the process. But when I’m in a situation that requires me to say “fuck it,” making the commitment is less painful than mulling over the pros and cons. “Fuck it” takes me out of agonizing contemplation and into action.

Once I get to “fuck it,” there’s only one direction to go – forward.

Sober Morning Rave

I can officially cross “Go to a sober morning rave” off my bucket list!

Laser Lights and Balloons

Laser Lights and Balloons

Last Friday, my friends and I went to Wake Up Call – an all-ages rave hosted by Walter Productions, before heading to work. It was so bizarre to drive across town just after dawn to go dance, but it was so much fun!

We started just after 6:30 and we danced until 8:00 AM in a warehouse with a DJ, laser lights, balloons, confetti, and hula hoops. There was also coffee and snacks to help us wake up and keep us going. I really didn’t know what to expect, having never been to any type of rave before. After I walked in, I put a glow bracelet on one wrist and a flashing light-up ring on my other hand, let one of the hosts draw on my arm with some type of face paint marker, and I was ready to go.

Groovin'

Groovin’

Ever since I heard that sober morning raves were a thing, I wanted to go to one. And I needed it this week. I have been working at my ass off on client work with lots of late nights and early mornings. Even though I was exhausted, I was so happy to get my groove on. I was mostly in my own little world for that 90 minutes, moving to the music, doing whatever felt like the right thing to do in the moment. For that 90 minutes, everything else got to slip away.

I was pretty zoned out – except for when I was dancing on the giant VW bug. Then I had to make sure I didn’t fall off.

What a great way to end a long week. I was tired going into the dance, and exhausted coming out, but it was worth it. Apparently, they are going to do this again next month if you want to go.

My Friends Are Awesome

My Friends Are Awesome

Many thanks to Walter Productions, DJ Ascension, and everyone who came out and danced.

Photo credits: Liesl Pimentel

I Want to Outsource my Life

I want to outsource my life. Last year, my life was crazy busy because I was dealing with heart issues and traveling so much. This year, I’m crazy busy with client work, being an adjunct professor for ASU Law, and a few other projects. I have had to cut way back on my commitments – I just don’t have the bandwidth to take on anything else. Even on the weekend, I don’t have much down time. I spend my “days off” running errands, writing blog posts, working out, volunteering with Ignite Phoenix, and making a little time to see friends.

I love everything that I get to work on, but I have no time or energy to spare.

This is How I Feel Most Days -- Too Much To Do - Photo by Ben Ammon

This is How I Feel Most Days — Too Much To Do – Photo by Ben Ammon

If I could outsource sleeping, I would.
If there was a way to go 24-48 hours without sleeping and still being able to function, I would, but I can’t.

Since I can’t outsource sleeping, I want to be more efficient about how I use my waking hours. And I think that means I need to take some tasks off my plate, because when I have too much to do, I get flustered and distracted easily.

I started to think about what I can outsource in my life. One of my friends buys a lot of everyday items on Amazon.  At first, I laughed at him, now I am starting to understand where he was coming from. The fewer stores I have to go to, and the fewer mundane errands that I have to run, the better. I went on to Amazon tonight and I started doing searches for products that I would be interested in having delivered to my doorstep – like dog food and moisturizer. The prices appear to be comparable or cheaper than local stores.

I also went to the REI website and bought my next pair of insoles for my running shoes. It’s only a 20-minute trip to get them at the local store, but that’s at least 20 minutes I just got back into my life. And with free delivery, I’ve spent the same amount.

It feels little weird to think that my shampoo and Rosie’s dog treats are going to come in the mail, but if doing this means I get to feel more calm, rested, and focused, I’m in.

(Footnote: Shopping locally is important to me, and I do the majority of my shopping at my locally owned grocery store. Most of the things I’m considering buying online are things I’d get from big box stores.)

My Dog Stinks

Rosie StickThis is my dog Rosie.

We go for walks every day.

She likes to rub her head on stuff.

It makes her happy.

I let her do it as long it’s not poop.

There’s one plant Rosie loves to rub her head on.

This plant smells so bad.

It makes her head smells bad.

Then we go back in the house.

And she gets that smelly plant smell on her bedding and the carpet.

But she’s happy, so I let her get away with it.

My dog stinks.

Arizona Independents: Declare a Party for the Presidential Primary

I am a registered Independent – but not for long.

Registered Independents are the largest group of registered voters in Arizona – 35% of eligible votes the last time I checked. By our sheer numbers, we have a lot of influence – but we can’t exert that influence in the Presidential Primary unless we register as a member of a political party.

Image by DonkeyHotey from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Image by DonkeyHotey from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

That’s the rule. I didn’t make it.

Our Presidential Primary is on March 22nd, so that means we have until February 22nd to register with the party whose primary we want to vote in. It’s easy to change your party affiliation on the Service Arizona website.

I’m pretty sure I know which party I’m going to declare for the primary election. It’s too bad that only 4 states will have had primary elections prior to the Arizona registration deadline. For this election, I’ve been mulling over whether it would be better to vote for a candidate I want or against a candidate I don’t want. (I still wish Jon Stewart was running for President. Perhaps he’ll launch a campaign as a write-in candidate late in the game.)

There has yet to be a political party that doesn’t done something that is a major turn-off for me. When pollsters call and ask which party I’m for affiliated with, I usually say, “None of them. They all suck.” If they follow up with a question about whether I’m more conservative or liberal, I like to respond with, “I’m sane.”

Despite my distaste with members of every political party, I’m a big believer and advocate of the idea that you have to vote to maintain your bitching rights. If you want to bitch about the candidates for President, you have to vote in the primary. If you don’t vote, shut up.

I will declare a party for the Presidential Primary in Arizona and then change back to being an Independent once the primary election is over. I don’t have to be affiliated with a party for any other votes in Arizona.

Going Dairy-Free

Last week, my friend and I saw a documentary about puppy mills called Dog by Dog. It’s expected to be on Netflix later this year, and no, it’s not an extended sad SCPA commercial. The filmmakers showed the reality and prevalence of puppy mills and how many pet store puppies are from puppy mills. (Hat tip to Phoenix for requiring all pet store dogs to come from shelters.)

This film made me angry about how cruel people can be to animals but also hopeful because people are taking action to stop these horrific acts and educate others about these dogs and the lives the pups and their parents lead.

Friendly Moo Cow by  Phil and Pam Gradwell (Creative Commons License)

Friendly Moo Cow by Phil and Pam Gradwell (Creative Commons License)

This film made me re-evaluate my beliefs about animals. I became mostly vegetarian last year because I’m opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals. (I have no problem with eating an animal that was humanely raised and slaughtered or hunted in the wild.) My goal is to be compliant at least 95% of the time. If I’m against the inhumane treatment of animals, then that should apply to animals who are used for food products too – like eggs and milk. You can find eggs from humanely raised chickens, but dairy is a different issue.

I have yet to find a dairy supplier that I trust to be cruelty-free. One article I read said it doesn’t exist. Until then, I’m going to be dairy-free once I finish all the dairy products in my home. In thinking about a dairy-free life, I was immediately faced with some important questions:

  1. What am I going to put in my coffee?
  2. How will I get enough calcium?
  3. What will I use instead of butter on veggies?
  4. What about ice cream?

Thankfully, I have a handful of friends who don’t eat dairy and a bariatric surgeon friend who answer my random food questions:

  1. Almond milk and/or coconut creamer. Terry suggested cold-brew coffee, but that’s too bitter for me. I need my “cream” and sugar. For now, I’m mixing cream and almond milk to ease the transition.
  2. Almond milk has a high calcium content, as do many vegetables.
  3. One friend suggested Earth Balance; another suggested a coconut-based product.
  4. A friend suggested coconut milk ice cream. I tried some strawberry coconut milk ice cream this weekend – not bad, besides being hard as a brick when you first take it out of the freezer. I’m curious to try vanilla. And there’s always sorbet.

I should be mostly dairy-free by the end of the month, once I finish the cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, butter, and cream in the house. It will be a shift, but a good one. I’m looking forward to having more cereal in the morning instead of cottage cheese with fruit. I think the hardest thing will be adjust to a new way of drinking coffee. Almond milk is tasty, but it doesn’t have the creaminess of half and half.