Posts Tagged ‘oregon’

Gaining Strength: One Year Later

January 4, 2015

stephflex
Exactly one year ago I signed up for my first ever Olympic weightlifting meet, having NEVER done anything beyond traditional lifts. I learned the basics in three weeks and at the meet, successfully completed both the snatch and the clean & jerk. I lifted the lightest weights at the meet, but I was hooked. I documented that whole process last year in a four part series, starting here: The Strength to be Strong.

Since then, I’ve continued training both Olympic lifts and in general strength and conditioning. I’ve now competed in two unsanctioned Oly meets, and one sanctioned one, where I proudly sported our team singlet. Let me tell you, I would have NEVER expected that to happen in my life– owning a singlet OR posting pictures of me wearing one online OR lifting weights in front of a crowd while wearing one.

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A new C&J PR set in competition: 48kg!

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If it isn’t obvious by now, I love weightlifting. I seriously appreciated it before this year, but it has now become such a mainstay in my life (4 days a week on average), which meant a lot during a fairly crazy year. A busy new work schedule (including one 33-days-of-work-in-a-row stint, and domestic and international work trips) would have normally deterred me from maintaining a regimen, but it honestly kept me sane. Focusing on physical work allowed me to take a mental break from everything else more times than I can count this year, and I am so, so thankful for that. Also? I swear that lifting weights in the hotel gym after flying to China erased my jet lag. That and I super impressed the Chinese businessmen by being the only female in there, and the only one throwing around any significant amount of weight.

Not only did I gain sanity and mental peace through weightlifting, but the community that I’ve joined at Industrial Strength Gym has made working out a social appointment I am more than happy to keep. The support, the camaraderie, the friendly competition, and just a giant room full of smiling faces make it one of my favorite places in the world right now. I see these people more than any of my other friends or any of our families, so liking them makes an hour in the gym a breeze.

Vickie (my "bartner") and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs.

Vickie (my “bartner”) and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs. Bitch, you’re going down!

As a result of this love and commitment, I am the strongest and most confident and comfortable with my body and myself than I have ever been. The large thighs I used to loathe are something I am proud to sport now. Nothing but slimming black yoga pants? Fuck that, give me a crazy ass pattern and let’s get wild. My ass is actually gaining a good curve, rather than just being a wide and flat white girl’s ass. And I have guns! With shadows of triceps! Some shirts don’t fit them anymore! What?! And I’m so okay with this!

No longer am I concerned with getting smaller. I just want to get stronger. As women we’ve had the messages of “take up less space,” “be smaller,” “shrink yourself,” and “don’t be an inconvenience” drilled into our brains from an early age. To shirk that and gladly acknowledge my strength and appear muscular is one of the most refreshing and liberating things I’ve experienced as an adult. Plus that feeling of denying someone’s help when they’re concerned your bag of groceries or that box you’re moving is too heavy, and showing them you’re more than capable of doing it yourself is, admittedly, amazing. I blew my grandparents’ minds when I moved a massive old TV for them on my own.

So, on the year anniversary of signing up for my first Olympic weightlifting meet, I signed up for my first powerlifting competition. Squat, deadlift, and overhead push press are the three lifts I’m competing in. Again, I know I’m not the strongest person out there. Not by a long shot. But having that goal to work toward is incredibly inspiring and I am more than stoked. Plus I’ve learned that it’s not about who lifts the most out of everyone, but just out of the people that had the guts to sign up that day. I could place last in my division, I could place first, I could place somewhere in the middle. I’m totally cool with any of those outcomes. To me, it’s all about the journey and seeing how far I come by the end of that day.

My husband and I are beginning our annual Whole30 on Monday the 5th (after some seriously fun food and drink indulgences over the holidays), and I plan on extending that until the powerlifting meet near the end of February. Not only that, I recently took a GEMS test to determine what foods work best with me on a lifelong genetic level (learn more about that here). Beyond the normal Whole30 guidelines I’ll be cutting out bacon, sausage, fermented foods, shellfish, dried fruit, and a few others. I’ve heard from people who’ve taken the test and eliminated their respectively appropriate foods that their health, well being, and even gym performance have improved significantly, so now it the perfect time to test that out. I signed up for a weight class that is right around where I usually hover, so this will be the first time I’ll have to monitor my weight, which should be interesting. The big takeaway from that though is not associating that number with an emotion, which I’ve gotten much better about during 2014. After all, it’s just a damn number.

I received a lot of great feedback from people regarding last year’s Strength series posts, as I’ve previously mentioned. I don’t plan on fully continuing that again this time around, but keep an eye out for updates on my training process and how the competition turns out. I’m so excited for it. 🙂

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Living Alone

November 15, 2013

This oh-so Portland article about professional cuddlers and the need for human touch reminded me of the five and a half years I spent living on my own in my old little country house. I’d already been thinking about that time considerably, as I’m transitioning between tenants in my home there; as a result I’ve spent a number of hours within those walls doing menial repairs and reflecting upon the place where I’d spent so many hours, days, weeks, and months by myself.

I don’t recall being lonely, per se. But during those years, every now and again, I’d come to these stark realizations that I was, capital letters, ALONE.

One blustery winter I spent considerable time putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. I even topped it with a handmade, red foil-covered letter ‘S’ to take place of the star or angel I didn’t have amongst my mostly hand-me-down ornaments. It was lovely, in my eyes. One of the first things I’d do when I got home from work was turn on the tree’s lights. Only after Christmas and New Years, when I was taking the tree down, did I realize that no one else besides me had seen it in person. That seemed so wrong for the holiday. It retroactively almost rendered the tree– and thusly my effort– pointless.

Another time when visiting a friend they reached out and touched my arm. While I kept my cool on the outside, inside I surprisingly thrilled at the touch– only at that moment did I realize that it hadn’t happened in so long. I’m not sure how long it had been since my last tactile human interaction, but it had been enough to register with me in that moment, and only upon receiving the touch of another person did I recognize its absence.

When I first moved out of that house, trading up the country life for a much more fitting one in Portland, it was really tough to rent out that personal space. The house had truly become an extension of myself. When I trotted prospective tenants through it, seeing their eyes judging the chipped paint along the trim, its steep old staircase, or tiny kitchen, it felt like they were simultaneously judging me. As someone who has always intensely cared about what others thought of her, this was more than tough. In fact my first and only panic attack I’ve ever had was right before my future in-laws came to the house to help me spruce it up before renting it out. The whole point of their visit was to find what was wrong and fix it. It was horrifying.

Only then did I realize that through all the time I’d spent in that house, alone, painting walls and cooking meals and paying bills and cuddling with cats and hosting dates and scaring away raccoons, I was living within this larger version of me. The bathroom I painted hot pink. The sun porch where I drank my coffee. The creaky third step. The drafty second floor. The leopard print carpet. The crooked kitchen cupboards. It was all me.

I’ve now been out of that house for almost three years, and that connection and sense of external identity are almost gone. Now I consider it more of a nuisance, a physical space that’s holding me back. I notice its faults more readily and oddly are more compelled to fix them. In its place is a great sense of home I’ve established with my husband, with whom I cuddle, hug, kiss, headbutt, pinch, grab, smack, and poke so often it’s ridiculous. It’s such a stark contrast to those solitary years in the country. I think if you plopped one day’s worth of the physical contact I have now to that of those years, the side-by-side difference would be dizzying. Obviously the more recent living and interactive conditions are the ideal, but I don’t look upon my years of living alone as a negative time. If anything, it helped lay the foundation for the independence I enjoy now within my marriage and cohabitation with my husband. There’s a small sense of accomplishment in that I know I can be alone, and be content while being alone.

Breakin’ it on Down

April 23, 2012

This past weekend was a sunny whirlwind of activity. From wine bars and strip clubs to family dinners and lunch with friends, a wedding, a makeover, baby nephew jostling and gardening in rare 80 degree April heat, I’m left exhausted on this Monday morning. Here’s a breakdown:

Plants planted: gladiolas, ranunculus, poppies, sunflowers, and freesia in a new garden bed I made around where we had buried Rose the chicken. In the veggie garden (now with our homemade compost mixed in, thanks to Sean) I planted purple pole beans. Other vegetable seed plantings were abandoned due to late-in-the-day exhaustion and justified wariness of sunburn.

Number of former sorority sisters seen at my college roommate’s wedding: ten

Number of strippers seen at Union Jacks: we lost count. Twenty? Twenty five? There were enough lingering about to make the place seem more like a brothel than a strip club. Also, one bit me. I worried about potential hepatitis contraction.

Number of glasses of champagne/sparkling wine consumed throughout the day on Saturday: five. Maybe six. Between my wedding hair and makeup trial at my mom’s (attended by my sister, grandmother, future mother-in-law and nephew) and the aforementioned wedding that night, I fulfilled my imaginary month’s champagne quota easily.

Number of couples that have broken up since we sent out our save the date announcements (as of this weekend), addressed to them as a couple: five

Number of insect stings: one

Number of times I kissed my nephew before he and my sister went back to Canada this morning: too many to count

Bonus wedding hair and makeup photos! The makeup is perfect; I think it will be exactly like this on the big day 4 months from now. The hair wasn’t nearly as big as I am shooting for, and we’re going to have another hair trial in the near future to achieve my ideal giant-Brigitte-Bardot-updo look.

I'm still wearing those false eyelashes today at work. Monday glam!

I also purposefully timed the hair and makeup trial to be the day of my friend’s wedding so I could at least have an already made up face for the occasion. Since the hair didn’t turn out as I plan it will on the wedding, I just kept that in and threw on a dress for the occasion.

Both the makeup and hair held up wonderfully through a warm day of eating, drinking and dancing.

Side note: I definitely had bright yellow vinyl pumps I thrifted to match that belt.

Another side note regarding tinyfication: while I’m (again) roughly still the same weight as I was back in January (when I last tried on my wedding dress), putting it on with hair, makeup and veil on Saturday revealed that I will definitely have to take it in before August 25th.  Timeline shows I have 2 more months or so to get smaller before stopping entirely and maintaining weight for the sake of dress alterations. I have photos of from the entire look this past weekend, but am not making those public for the sake of surprise. Also, Sean will read this and he would be so pissed if he accidentally saw me in my dress ahead of time. It’s adorable. HI, DEAR!

Adventure Weekends

March 27, 2012

We took Friday off of work and left the confines of the city, drove over and through the mountains, and ended up in the high desert of central Oregon at the spectacular Smith Rock for a weekend of hiking, rock climbing, bouldering, scrambling, exploring, and camping. It was much fun. So much so that our friend Mike captured it on film. View below!

It was so great we determined we need more adventure weekends like this in our lives. And it increased my love for Oregon and the northwest tenfold.

Summer Fun in the Northwest

August 26, 2011

While the east coast has had to endure record setting heat waves, earthquakes, floods and now hurricane season, the biggest complaint we’ve had on the west coast this summer has been that our summer hasn’t been hot enough. I’m not saying I wasn’t one of those (and still am), but in comparison to other regions of the nation, we’re getting off easy. All we have the The Big One lurking over our shoulder, and man, I ain’t giving that dude a second thought.

Despite the feeling that we’ve been gipped months and months of hot, sunny weather, I’ve somehow managed to cram in a lot of diverse, sunny fun in the past few weeks.

 

I brewed beer for the first time with other beer loving ladies…

That's me, gloved up, straining the malt grains for our LOLA Hibiscus IPA

 

We drove into the middle of nowhere for the fantastic, intimate and scenic Schoolhouse Rock festival.

View as we were leaving, the historic schoolhouse on the left, Mt. Hood in the background.

 

I gave Diego a mullet.

This is me trying to not let his hair blow into my mouth. Diego, waking and sobering up the next morning: "I have a MULLET??!! A guy that looks like me should not have a MULLET!!"

 

We hosted our first barbeque at the new place for the 4th of July.

Not included in this photo: bocce ball tournaments, Osama Bin Laden fireworks, barbecue grill

 

We got two new chickens and were completely surprised with a beauty of a chicken coop from my dad’s girlfriend Bobbie.

Nora, the scatterbrained Polish crested hen, and Nimbly, the bullyer who loves to be held Araucana

Adorable primary colors!

 

I made a men’s size 3XL white t-shirt into a disposable dress at a friend’s “Dirty Thirty” birthday party. The messy foods brought by the horde expectedly evolved into a big ol’ food fight.

And that's defintiely a can of OG Four Loko.

 

We got engaged.

 

Sean and I walked with in the Oregon Brewers Festival Parade together for the first time, followed up by a drunk day at the fest. For me with was a day of work (rough, eh?), for him it was a vacation day taken to drink beer and sleep under trees along Portland’s waterfront park.

Another day in the office.

SLEEPY BOY!

 

We brought our families together for an awesome evening of dinner at drinks at our wedding venue. (pssst: now 364 days away)

View to the east from the gorgeous grounds where we're gittin' hitched.

 

Strippers did a really shitty job washing my car.

At least it benefited the Humane Society. And it was strippers washing my car.

 

I embarked upon my first mountain backpacking trip with my dad and stepsister up the 10,040′ Middle Sister mountain.

We took over 300 photos over the 3 days of this trip. It was *that* scenic and fun.

The crew at base camp before we schlepped back on our heavy packs and headed downhill.

 

I attended my first kickboxing fights.

Sean's teammate on the left, in the Impact JJ trunks, handily won that fight.

 

We also had our engagement party at Sean’s folks’ lovely home, attended many BBQs and gave up (read: never started) watering our lawn. I also got way into hot yoga, started eating a mostly paleo diet (minus the occasional beer, because dammit it’s my job) and am down some lbs in an attempt to lose 30 before I turn 30 next summer (which coincides nicely with getting married).

What’s next? Well today I won two tickets for tonight’s Decemberists, Okkervil River and AgesandAges show at McMenamin’s Edgefield, so that was a spur of the moment awesomeness. The weather is brilliant for an outdoor concert, too. Tomorrow we’re screening the UFC fights on a projector screen in our backyard while barbecuing with a group of friends. Next weekend we’re heading up to Seattle for the Bumbershoot music and arts festival. My annual frolicking in the hops fields for work is coming up, as is a family and friend sojourn up Mt. Hood for a weekend in the historic Cloud Cap cabin.

In other words, despite few days in the 90s or higher, I don’t think I have much to gripe about.

Summer Vacation Rainy Days

July 17, 2011

While the northwest has had neither the sunniest nor the warmest spring and summer, this weekend’s bout of rainy weather reminds me of a slightly welcome rainy day midst a hot summer vacation.

For a few summers when I was younger we used to spend two week stretches on a family cabin on an island off of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Multiple groups of family and friends would converge upon the rustic abode and we’d have giant cookouts, excursions along the nearby beaches, clam digging, oyster gathering, fishing and snorkling off of my uncle’s boat… it was wonderful. Us kids would spend all day outside making up games, establishing forts, hot gluing googly eyes on shells, sleeping in the giant canvas teepee our grandfather built. By the end of the vacation our skin would be brown and hair bleached near white from the sun. I’ve never had naturally lighter hair than I did then.

When the occasional rainy day would strike, we’d pile into the living room, sort through the boxes of VHS tapes and go through major movie marathons. No chores, no bills, no obligations, no guilt about a lack of productivity, no worries. It was so simple but seems absolutely blissful in retrospect.

With today’s dreary weather and no social commitments, I’m trying to reconnect with that simplicity. No guilt about not working out. Old school grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch. No thinking about the work week or bills. Movies, blankets, reading (okay, wedding planning), occasionally donning a raincoat and hanging out with our two new chickens outside.

It’s just great.

Done Got B’trothed.

July 15, 2011

That’s right! I am now an engaged lady.

Promised to an occasionally grizzled dude.

(us a week before the proposal)

Who, despite me being fairly sure he was going to propose at the coffee shop where we had our first date mere days before my birthday, managed to surprise me with a whole group of family and friends, smiling, laughing, clapping and waving handmade signs across the street.

Since I said yes (there really wasn’t much doubt), he declared it a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

We've had jokes rooted in this sign and other 9/11-based politics since our first date. Yep, we decided "This might be going somewhere!" when we shared our first politically incorrect joke.

And I declared it a smashing success because he bought my dream ring, a vintage number I had found months prior.

MY PRECIOUS.

Oh, and because I’m marrying the guy I love to bits.
Bits, I tell you!

"Show the ring!" "How am I supposed to hold it up without looking ridiculous?" Apparently not like you're going to backhand the camera.

So that’s some news, I guess. 🙂

On Chickens, Death and Dahlias

June 24, 2011

In relation to my last post, I finally bought plants from someone on Craigslist. Tubers for 5 different types of gorgeous dahlias for only $2 each.  I ordered 2 of each, and in a stunning moment of math skills, gave the woman only $10 in front of her adorable family in their lovely home as they were cooking dinner. I don’t think she noticed until after I left, and I only realized it an hour later. Ridden with guilt I emailed her the next day, apologizing profusely, she thanked me for my honesty and I mailed her the other $10.

Also, we sadly lost one of our chickens a couple weeks ago. Sean was home for a week on bereavement leave after his beloved grandfather passed away (obviously, a much, much sadder event than losing a chicken, and a whole other story that isn’t much of mine to tell), and had just battled a horrendous bout of traffic while running errands on the other side of the city. He came home, looked outside, and there was Rose, our friendliest and most social chicken who loved to be petted, tipped over on her back, feet in the air, dead. Considering he’s had to deal with only one pet death in his life, and he was already pretty emotionally stressed, he was very bummed.

I was bummed too, and even more so when I had to call our landlord, who had owned Rose for 2 years before we had her. She was pretty upset, but after I explained the situation (her cluck had been raspy a week or two leading up to her untimely demise, but her activity level was absolutely normal and peppy, and we did everything we could), she understood.

Then… Then!

She wanted me to pluck memorial feathers off of Rose. You know, the chicken that’s been dead in a bag for 24 hours.  I mean, I felt bad so of course I did it, and afterward I didn’t feel as bad for her loss anymore because THAT WAS VERY, VERY DIFFICULT. In retrospect, pliers would have been handy, but damn, 5 feathers was all I could muster, both physically and emotionally. Who plucks or skins a deceased pet? Props to generations of people who’ve plucked many a chicken for the sake of sustenance. Sweet chicken jesus.

Holy Cannoli

February 16, 2011

Where have I been the last few weeks? Mired deep in the financially, emotionally and legally daunting chores of adulthood, all spurred by love.

  • Searching for a place for Sean and I to move to in Portland, finding that place, loving that place, planning for that place, then promptly losing that place.
  • Madly advertising my house for rent, then madly prepping my house for showings. Crash courses in landlord dealings such as applicant screenings, tenant handbooks, landlord responsibilities and the risks in putting myself way out there legally.
  • Searching again for a place to live in Portland. Constant emailing homeowners and property managers, juggling showing schedules and cancellations in Portland when I live 90 miles away.
  • Trying once again to sell my old car by the end of the month so that I can continue to comfortably pay for my new one.
  • All while my pregnant sister could pop any day. Once we get that expectant phone call, my mom and I are dropping everything and hauling ass up to British Columbia for the birth of my nephew.

It’s straight up madness.

I’d like to take a moment and thank Google and all of its amazing services (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Maps, Search) that I could not live without during all of these processes. Also Craigslist. Organization maximization!

I’d also like to take a moment and direct you to the barf-inducingly adorable “Housing Wanted” ad I posted on Craigslist. I’ve had one good response from it, but have benefited from linking it in my introductory emails to potential landlords about how awesome we are. Because it’s true.

Stats Catching Dreams

January 24, 2011

I am constantly flabbergasted by how many people come to my blog after doing Google searches for dreamcatchers. I wish the stats could tell me how many of those searches were done ironically. If it’s not “dreamcatcher” it’s “dreamcatcher wolf” which has to be 87% ironic. Beacuse… really?

I should note here though that I have a modest collection of nerdy animal shirts. One muscle tee with FIVE (damn!) howling wolves, one with rad fuckin’ cobras, and one (that’s a little too big to be worn in public so it serves as part of my ironic pajama collection… Snuggie pending) with a big ol’ mountain lion on it.

wolf tee

On the left, the night Sean and I met in 2008, cobra shirt in action. On the right, us camping. He later tore off the sleeves to his tee to make it more "authentic".

I should also note my sister and I have somewhat inexplicably started the trend of gifting each other coffee mugs with wolves on them. They become instant favorites, and she about flipped her shit with happiness when I gave her a late Christmas present of a ceramic travel mug featuring three howling wolves on it. I bought it at a truck stop, naturally.