Life Lately: February 2023

Caleb

Caleb is very into holidays now and enjoyed swapping cards with his friends for “Valentimes Day” this week. And of course he loved getting candy.

He is so grown up, especially when there’s a baby to compare him to. Last weekend he pulled his hamper into the laundry room and started throwing his clothes in the washer.

Loves

  • Doing things by himself
  • Trucks and cars
  • Apples & Donuts
  • Making pizza (eating pepperonis)
  • Horseplay / Dinosaur play
  • Kicking the ball outside
  • Daniel
  • Reading stories at night
  • Talking about what we’re going to do tomorrow

Hates

  • Being asked if he has to use the bathroom
  • Vegetables
  • The end of his bedtime routine

Daniel

I can’t believe he’s nearly 6 months old! Daniel continues to be the chillest dude around, even though he’s been almost constantly sick since he started daycare.

As much as he and Caleb love each other, life would be a lot less stressful if I could put him in a protective bubble from his chaotic brother.

Loves

  • Milk
  • Spitting up milk
  • Wiggling (we don’t call him Wiggle Man Dan for nothing)
  • Rolling onto his tummy
  • Crinkle books, rattles, & a plastic Slinky
  • Splashing in the bath
  • Caleb
  • Anyone who will give him attention

Hates

  • Snot suckers
  • Eye ointment
  • Purees
  • Not being carried around and included in everything

Me

I miss running the way you miss an old friend. It’s hard to find the time, and when I do have time, it’s not like I have the fitness to take advantage of it. But I know having small children is a short season of life, and it won’t be like this forever.

Caleb has been my indoor track and field watching buddy. There’s usually coverage from 4-6pm on Saturdays which works out perfectly for him to get up from his nap, grab a Picky Bar for a snack, and sit on the couch with me to watch some races. He can usually pay attention for 30-45 minutes before wanting to do something else and is always excited to hear the bell lap.

I’m almost done with Good for a Girl but the announcement that Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas are getting divorced really put a damper on my reading. I had just gotten to the part where she met him and knew he was her future husband, and I felt so sad to continue reading their story after that.

I have mixed feelings on the book. I really like the inside information into contracts for professional runners, especially for women. And I know Fleshman’s goal is to shine a light on the harm of disordered eating in female athletes, but sometimes it felt like she presented it in a resentful way, as if the athlete was cheating, like how others talk about super shoes. That’s kind of insensitive, right?

Anyway, I should finish this weekend and then will probably go back to fiction for a while.

A Year of Grief

A year ago was the worst day of my life. My dad died.

On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a year. I can’t believe it’s been that long. On the other hand, so much has happened. I had an entire pregnancy and baby between now and then!

I’ve learned a lot about grief over the last year and expect it will be something I continue to learn about for the rest of my life.

Grief ebbs and flows. There are a lot of water analogies with grief: waves crashing over you…the ability to drown in only 2 inches of water…etc.

I didn’t realize how universal some grief feelings are until I experienced it myself and then recognized those same thoughts expressed by others. My favorite is the disbelief at the audacity of the rest of the world to keep spinning. I can remember driving around Cleveland, running various errands for the funeral, and thinking, “How can all of these people be going about their everyday lives as if nothing has changed? Everything changed for me! My dad died.”

Speaking of the funeral, my aunt put it best. Planning a funeral is essentially all the same pieces of planning a wedding except you only have a couple of days to do it, and you’re so sad the whole time.

Another feeling that is difficult to understand until you experience it is, “It hurts when your person dies. But that still doesn’t prepare you for the pain of their staying dead.”

I got that one from Twitter.

And it’s funny because it makes no sense. If you think logically, you know that death is permanent. For the rest of your time on Earth, that person is gone. But grief isn’t logical. Because the past tense sentence:

“My dad died.”

I have sort of accepted. I understand that he died. I get it.

But the present tense sentence:

“My dad is dead.” or “My dad is gone.”

That’s really hard.

It’s hard because sometimes you forget, and the reminder punches you in the gut. A friend from high school wrote to tell me that he ended up with my dad’s old road bike, and my first thought was that I needed to text Dad to tell him that. Sucker punch. Can’t text him. I forgot.

I still dream about him sometimes. My most recent one was him at my house, and he just started doing the dishes. I went up to him to say thank you, and he just sort of shrugged. That’s who my dad was – the guy who would start cleaning up without any sort of expectation of thanks or praise. It’s just what he’d do.

For now, I’m thankful for those dreams, and I’m thankful for the hope of seeing him again after this life ends. Until then, I gain comfort from a number of things – family, friends, memories, and this verse:

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden.

The One with Decreasing Rest

It was the Monday of Conference Week, November 2008, and it was our last workout on the cinders before race day on Saturday.

We knew the schedule said 12×400, but there was a twist we learned when Paul was giving us the paces and the rest intervals.

After the first quarter, we would have 2:00 rest. After the second quarter, we would have 1:50 rest. And so on. You were allowed to go over your goal time by 1 second only once, and if you went over it again after that, you had to stop. It was a game of attrition.

If you made it through all 12 quarters, you took your 10 seconds rest and started running again, this time running as many laps as you could on pace until you fell off. The challenge was set!

Usually we would run workouts all together, both the men’s and women’s teams, but the mechanics of this workout proved it necessary to keep one pace group on the cinders at a time. There were 2 pace groups for each team, so we had 4 workouts to get through before everyone was done.

I was a college freshman, fiercely competitive and eager to earn my spot on the trip to Nationals with a good finish at Conference on Saturday. I was itching to make it to the 13th quarter and beyond. But a workout like this begins with patience.

We came through the first rep in a smooth 88. Two whole minutes of rest felt lavish.

Second rep in 89, and the rest is still feeling excessive.

Reps 3-7 were all 89s as well, but after rep 7, we were down to just 1 minute rest. It’s feeling a bit shorter now, like the time is slipping away before I’m ready to start again.

I managed another 89 for rep 8 but am really feeling it now. There was only 50 seconds of rest before I’m expected at the line again.

Rep 9 feels like the end. I’m going to be over pace. I know it. I manage to fight my way back down the home stretch to come in under the wire at 90.

But I’m spent. I’m still gasping for breath at the end of our 40 seconds of rest when the 10th rep starts with, “Runners set….GO!”

I push off from the line, but there’s nothing left. My legs are a pool of lactic acid, and the pace group runs away from me. I trudged along the back stretch, around the final curve, and finally made it down the home stretch to cross the line in 1:43 – 13 seconds over pace. 10 reps in, and I was out of the game.

And while that sounds like a disappointing ending, it’s actually not the point of this story at all. Because when I think of this workout, I don’t remember how many reps I made it through (I had to look it up in my log). I think about what a special day it was for our team.

You see, typically, practice started at 4pm, and we were done by 6-6:30pm. But that is when we ran workouts concurrently. Since we ran as 4 distinct groups, and since the ladies went first, the last group of guys didn’t start their workout until 6:30pm.

To make things more interesting, the day before had been “fall back” for Daylight Savings time. So not only had this group been waiting about 2 hours to do their workout (and cheering on the other groups), they were getting started in the dark.

There are no lights at cinders, so we had to improvise. Four people drove their cars onto the field and pointed their headlights into the 4 corners of the track to light the way for the runners. Those of us who enjoyed the cheers earlier repaid the favor by yelling just as loud for the last group to take on the challenge of the decreasing rest.

At the end of the workout, our whole team had been at practice for over 3 hours. I don’t think a single person left. And that’s what I remember about this workout. I remember the headlights and the late dinner and the realization of the lengths this group would go to in order to support each other.

And I don’t remember if we did or not, but this seems like the type of practice we would have ended with a, “RAGE!”

Bruised + Dark Blue Mashup

I was listening to Jack’s Mannequin today and thought “Bruised” and “Dark Blue” would make a good mashup. They’re both sort of sad songs, so I enjoyed piecing together a new, wistful story. Plus, bruises are sometimes dark blue.

I’ve got my things, I’m good to go
You met me at the terminal

I don’t, don’t know
What you could possibly expect
Under this condition-so
I’ll wait, I’ll wait

Just one more plane ride and it’s done

Slow down
This night’s a perfect shade of
Dark blue, dark blue

Sometimes perfection can be
It can be perfect hell, perfect, well

Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?

I swear I didn’t mean for it to feel like this
Like every inch of me is bruised, bruised

Well I’m here with you
I said the world could be burning
‘Til there’s nothing but

All I hear is what’s playing through the in-flight radio

Tell me how anybody thinks
Under this condition

And don’t fly fast
Oh pilot, can you help me?
Can you make this last?

And it was me and you

And hours pass, and hours pass, yeah, yeah

There was nothing we could do
It was dark blue

Racehorse Camp

It all started with a quote.

You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey. But you can make a fast donkey.

Coach Jim Perkins

Inspired by this quote, rising high school junior Jake Smith started a tradition known as Donkey Camp – a few days of camping at Unicoi State Park with lots of miles to contribute to summer training for cross country season.

Coming into the WCHS cross country team as a freshman in the fall of 2004, I was quickly introduced not only to the quote but also to the boys’ team who adopted it as their own.

Not to be outdone, my teammate Bea (a junior) and I wanted to do something similar for the girls’ team the next summer, so we got to planning. And what better name for our rival camp than Racehorse Camp?

Planning a camp as a 15-year old (17 for Bea) did come with some difficulties, though. Neither of us had credit cards, so Bea had to drive to Unicoi and write them a check for the campsite deposit, and I took on the task of calling all of the rising ninth graders who expressed interested at the cross country meeting at the end of the school year. I had more than one interesting conversation with a parent who wanted to know if any adults would be there…to which the answer was…no.

But we made it happen! July 25-27, 2005 was 3 days of camping, running at Unicoi, jumping off the bridge at Bottoms Rd (back when it was well-kept secret), and a drive up to Sliding Rock at Wildcat Creek. Our last day of camp concluded with an out and back run in Panorama, Bea’s subdivision that was insanely hilly, and then kayaking down the Chattahoochee from her backyard. We only had 4 attendees (including me and Bea), but all things considered, it was a success!

Racehorse camp took a hiatus in summer 2006 since we had a team cross country camp organized by our coaches but came back in summer 2007 for June 25-27. Now that I was 17 and could drive, it was much easier. Bea was off in college, but my teammate Brooke ran the camp with me. And we had 6 attendees!

We ran at Unicoi, played in the water at Sliding Rock, and concluded our camp with a long run at the Chattahoochee on Poplar Stump Road.

We also just so happened to have our camp at the same time as Donkey Camp this summer, so one of our activities was a game of Ultimate frisbee in the lake against the boys’ team. We got shirts that said “Water Ultimate Frisbee Champions” on them if that gives you a clue which team won.

And there were absolutely no shenanigans or pranks that we played on their campsite.

Sadly I don’t think Donkey Camp or Racehorse Camp are traditions that lived on for WCXC, but I’m proud of my part in bringing the girls’ team into the fold…kind of like how I designed the She Piece for Wacky Day…but that’s another story.

Thoughts on evermore

I like it. It doesn’t have the “I love the new sound” shock factor that folklore had since they sound so similar, but it’s a good continuation of that sound.

willow

The start of the album immediately sounds like folklore.

Predicting it now: we’re going to see “I come back stronger than a 90s trend.” in a bunch of Instagram captions.

champagne problems

Sounds like “New Year’s Day.”

’tis the damn season

This song reminds me so much of a quote from The Shipping Room Podcast where one of the hosts very casually said, “Yeah, it’s like when you come home from college for Thanksgiving, and you sleep with your ex-boyfriend.” I can’t relate to that sentiment, but I can relate to the feelings of nostalgia that happen when I go home for the holidays.

To me this song is that “what if” train of thought you can get lost in when thinking of all the alternative universes of what your life could look like if you had stayed in your hometown.

tolerate it

Track 5 is supposed to be the heavy/meaningful song on TSwift albums according to what I heard on a podcast.

“If it’s all in my head, tell me now” is a relatable line for the desperate feeling of wanting someone else to quash the insecurity you’re feeling.

no body, no crime

This is Taylor’s Goodbye Earl. And if you search “Goodbye Earl” on Twitter, you will find a lot of people saying that!

She’s always been a good storyteller, and this song is a great example of that. A technically dark story that is just ridiculous enough to be funny.

evermore

I really like this song. It’s a solid bookend to the album while also bringing it back to the title.

Two Years at Praxis!

Today marks my 2-year anniversary at Praxis! Here are some notable moments of the last year:

Salesforce still kicks my butt

Salesforce is my greatest love and also my greatest source of frustration at times. I’ve been using it long enough to at times be overly confident in my vision for a new process, only to realize my mistake after I test what I’ve built out.

For instance, I recently learned that an object has a ~1.6 million character limit on text area fields. The default character limit on a long text area field is 32,678, so if you create too many fields set at the default, you’ll hit the limit! And have to go back and edit the character limit on all of those fields. Also, 32,000 characters is INSANELY long.

Another new discovery is the Salesforce Optimizer. I ran this and the report let me know that we were at 130% of our data storage limit! Data storage costs money, so this is something I needed to address. I looked into what made up our data storage and saw we had about 350,000 tasks!

We use tasks to track emails, both personal and automated ones, but those aren’t things we need a forever record of, so I went about pulling reports to delete old tasks. I deleted about 15,000 tasks before I realized 15,000 at a time wasn’t fast enough and wasn’t really making a dent in our storage problem. I ran a report on all tasks and only found…9,000 remaining? Where are the other 300,000+?!

Thankfully, Salesforce is so widely used that you can type your problem into Google and find the answer. From Googling, I learned that Salesforce archives tasks 365 days after they’re closed, meaning they aren’t reportable, butĀ still counts them toward your storage limit! Tricksy little hobbitses.

I used the data loader to export all tasks (including archived ones!)…and then I crashed the export because it was too large. I tried cancelling the export when it was 50,000 or 100,000 into the export, and that worked well enough. Then I was able to filter by non-deleted tasks and get even more of them cleaned up.

Now I have a quarterly calendar reminder set up to delete old tasks, so I won’t have this unpleasant surprise in the future!

New application process

I revamped the application process with my coworker Chuck, and it was a huge project! To read about the finished product, check out this post. To give the TL;DR version of what went into building this:

  • A new Salesforce object record type & page layout
  • 55 new fields
  • 5 forms with Salesforce mapping
  • 15 new Salesforce workflows
  • 44 new emails
  • 4 outbound messages

Plus all of the work Chuck did in building an entire subdomain and all of the coding that goes into advancing people through the process.

February Retreat

The team got together in February where we spent a few days at a beach house working together and mapping out our StoryBrand. We also took some group photos and this is my favorite of the outtakes:

A Lesson in Marketing

We were without a marketing manager for most of the year, and I took my turn managing the department over the summer. Marketing is nowhere near my strong suit, but I did learn a lot, and I enjoyed the data analysis aspect of the role. I also managed our first (to my knowledge) direct mail campaign, which is an entirely new language compared to digital marketing.

Event & Conference Travel

I ran two Homeschool Career Day events, and we experimented with attending high school and/or homeschool conferences over the summer. I went to Austin and Virginia and San Diego and Minneapolis as well as some local conferences here in Atlanta. I even had a breakout session at some of them where I spoke about the advantages homeschool teens have as well as projects teens can start today to set them apart in the job hunt.

FEEcon Social

I love that FEEcon is here in Atlanta because so many staff, participants, and alumni come to me! It was fun to see everyone at the conference and then gather for a social at the end. We had some new Praxis swag to debut as well!

The Team has Grown!

I think at this time last year there were 10-11 employees, and now we’re up to 14! I even hired my first apprentice last month and am enjoying experiencing the apprenticeship program from the business partner perspective.

Praxis HQ

Praxis has an office now! It was fun to visit in September and help break in the new ping pong table. I can’t wait to go back next month for the first annual Praxis Christmas Party!

It’s been a great second year, and I already know year three is going to be even better/crazier. Onward!

Things I Miss

8-mile Mondays

Track Tuesdays

Morning crew Wednesdays

Strength double Thursdays

Recovery Fridays

Long Run Saturdays

Weight sessions Sundays

The nervousness of racing

A finishing kick

The track

Settling into the clip of a tempo run

Sweating so much during a long run that you can wring out your socks

Summer afternoon doubles

The tingly, satisfied tired after some heavy squats and deadlifts

Calculating lap splits ahead of a workout

Stressing about a workout

Waking up anxious for a workout

Finishing fast in a workout

Writing out post-workout splits

Writing a novel for a log entry

Exploring trails because it doesn’t matter if you get lost – you’ve got a lot of miles to run

The smell of a rubber track on a hot and humid morning

Lacing up flats

“One more ’til one more”

Pushing through another interval when your legs are already shaking

Lactic acid

Being tired

Sleeping like a rock

Planning races/training months in advance

Thinking about a marathon

Talking about running

Talking about racing

Meeting other people to run

Doing workouts

Being in shape

Feeling committed

Eating a giant bowl of ice cream on Saturday night

Splitting my watch

Adding up miles

Running without thinking

Training

Pinning a number on a singlet

…just to name a few

And if you made it this far, read this: What Happens When We Take a Break from Running?

It’s Never Been Easier to Find a Lost Pet

I love cats. Anyone who knows me well probably rolled their eyes at that sentence.

A small stray cat showed up on my back deck a few weeks ago, but I only got glimpses since she would immediately run away if either of us went outside. After seeing her for nearly a week, I broke down and put a plate of food outside. Then it only took a day of feeding her for her to tentatively approach me for some chin scratches. I promptly named her Molly.

When I was able to get close enough to her, I took her photo and posted on the app Nextdoor to see if she was missing from a nearby home. While no one on the app claimed her, a few comments gave me new information. First, that she was a “tortie siamese” and second, it introduced me to Pawboost.

Pawboost is a site for you to post about lost or found pets. It automatically makes a flyer for you and shares posts to nearby shelters and social media groups. I made a Pawboost flyer for Molly and searched the Lost pet section but didn’t find any matches.

I was convinced Molly was 6-12 months old due to her petite figure. My 11-pound fluff ball Venus is neither trim nor obese, but she looked like a giant compared to maybe-5-pound Molly. Obviously some of that was from being a stray and not having a consistent source of food, but it also led me to believe she was a younger cat.

I made a vet appointment for her thinking I would have to rehome her, therefore it would be good to know if she had any diseases or heaven forbid if she was pregnant. Cats can get pregnant as young as 4 months old!

I also asked the vet to check for a microchip, and she had one. I was thrilled! I also learned that this “adolescent” cat was nearly 10 years old! She was clear of disease and got a new rabies vaccine, and I went home with the name, phone number, and address of the owner.

Unfortunately, the number was out of service and the address was from Birmingham, Alabama. I wasn’t deterred, though, since I pride myself on being an expert Googler.

Zillow.com was my first stop. I searched the Birmingham address and found the public record of the sale in 2011 matched the name of the owner I had. Unfortunately it was a for sale by owner, so there was no real estate agent or company involved that I could contact.

Then I turned to Facebook. I found a number of women with that name and sent them messages. I wasn’t too hopeful about this since these messages would end up in their “Message request” folders that they probably wouldn’t see.

I also searched white pages, searched the phone number, phone number plus name, etc. There are plenty of website that offer to give you a “full report” on someone and make you jump through 17 hoops and have a “progress bar” on each page telling you how close it is to being ready only to ask for $20 at the end.

Public records was the best bet. I was able to find the woman I was looking for and a list of her “possible relatives.” One of the women I found on Facebook had a daughter that matched a name on that list, so I thought it might be her.

Then I posted in a Lost and Found pet group on Facebook with the full amount of information I had – the name of the owner, the cat’s name, the fact that the contact information was out of date, and that she previously came from Birmingham. This proved to be the most helpful since the people in these groups are highly motivated and awesome. One of the women was able to get her friend request accepted by the daughter who said the cat had been missing for nearly 7 months!

Armed with the knowledge that I had the correct person, I again messaged the owner and searched the company she worked for. I found her website and sent an email to both her and her husband. The phone number listed for her was the one that was out of service, and Josh told me it wasn’t acceptable to call her husband at 8:15 am on a Saturday morning, so I waited until 10:30 to give him a call.

Success! After some phone tag and texting, I reached the daughter – it was actually her cat – and we met up. The best part: the cat’s name is Mollie!

On the way to meet her owner!

The power of the internet is real, and there are lost & found pet groups all over the place with stories of pets being lost even longer than Mollie. It doesn’t hurt to get your pet microchipped as well. It definitely convinced me!

 

TIL: Spring Phenomena are a Hoax

Facebook’s “On this Day” has been an entertaining and nostalgicĀ feature that I enjoy. Today’s post was educational, though!

This is from 2012 at my apartment. I have no memory of this, but I thought it might be fun to repost it with something silly like #notamuggle since the new Fantastic Beasts trailer has Harry Potter on my mind. First I decided to check the comments.

Well isn’t that cool! Since the spring equinox is just a few days away (hence the “on this day”), I decided to try it and was excited that it worked after just a few attempts!

My mind jumped ahead to how this would be a cool blog post. I wrote one about the winter solstice, so a post on cool things about the spring equinox would be a nice follow up.

I decided to do a little research first and found out…this isn’t true at all! Brooms (or eggs) standing up have nothing to do with the spring equinox or planetary alignment or anything like that. You can stand up a broom any day of the year.

So this is now a different blog than I planned. Instead of telling everyone how the spring equinox can allow you to do phenomenal things, I am dispelling the myth. Thanks, Google!