Showing Up

I’ve run away a lot in my life. I avoid social situations where I don’t have control. I like my routines, my boxes and things a certain way. My brain has a way it wants things done. When things are not that way, I have an internal battle where I convince myself not to run away.

On the surface, I seem very social, easy-going and up for most things. On a deeper level, it takes a lot of work to get me there. I’m not saying I would rather be a shy mouse in the corner, but I don’t branch out very often. I don’t do many social situations after 6PM. I make sure I give myself enough time for 8 hours of sleep.

I don’t go to bars, I don’t drink much. I like to have dinner at home. I like to get up early and go to bed early. I like to take my time.

Then, I started to build relationships and have friends. I have a huge family unit I love being a part of. Though these people drive me crazy sometimes and push me out of my Zen zone, I would not trade them for that comfort.

The second half of 2017 looked a lot different than the first half. The first half I needed to get away from Ithaca, from friends and from what I was used to. Essentially, I ran away from that comfort, but I also ran away from the responsibility that comes with forming relationships. I had a reason not to show up. I lived further away after all. Sorry, no can do. Bridal shower? Sorry, gotta work. Christmas? Hmm, I actually can’t make that. No I wasn’t mad at anyone, but I was in my comfort zone, alone, doing what I knew. I was content living that way.

In the second half of 2017, things started to change. I met Michael, Eric, Sheila and Lisa from TrailsRoc and they made me a part of their family. I started to work with my friend and running coach Mike, which forced me to be accountable with training and what I was doing. I started to crave people who liked me for me. Even crazier, I missed my family because they became people who I could talk to, lean on and laugh with. Rather than loving them because they are blood, I loved them because I love them. They make me feel whole.

Making these relationships, running a few crazy races and job circumstances led me back to Ithaca, to living with people and running with guidance. I was overjoyed to move back, but I had changed and so did my need for control.

Having relationships means showing up. It means being where you say you’ll be. It means being honest. I no longer felt “bad” for saying “yes I’ll be there but I have a run first.” In the past, I felt like I was doing something wrong or I didn’t care enough. Granted, if it was important, I skip said run, but building a new relationship with my family meant that they also understood who I was. They understand I run and doing that before I help my mom at her store or work with my dad doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it means that my priorities make running first (early before they are awake or opening up shop) and then I am more productive, happier and we get more done.

Showing up means being present, not worrying about other things that “need” to get done. Showing up means connecting when we can, but also not expecting an answer super fast because we all have things we want to do. Showing up for me meant loosening my vegan dietary preferences. Showing up meant loosening my need for control. Showing up reminded me that I don’t need to be alone and that if I do make plans one day instead of have a day to myself, the world doesn’t end, I still get my stuff done and I usually feel even more invigorated afterwards.

Showing up means not living a life online. Showing up means just being there.

Showing up is hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s worth it.

2017 taught me how to show up. No turning back now 🙂

Van Life Currently December 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s up with my van.

I had a good trip to JFK in late November I’ve been working on it slow and steady. The inside was already converted and had the electric done, so the hardest parts were taken care of.

What I realized after JFK was that the bed in it, while very comfortable and big, was not going to be very functional for van living. The van was converted as a vacation, road trip vehicle, and it’s perfect for that. I had other plans. After looking online and at other resources for a week or two, I narrowed down what I wanted: a bed parallel to the van, with a fold up table and two storage compartments underneath. You can find the design I went with here.

Before I worked on the bed, I wanted to get solar panels installed. Luckily, this time coincided with my birthday, so my gifts from family for both my birthday and Christmas helped me pay for the panels. These will come in handy when I do not have access to electricity.

My schedule is tight, something I’ll talk about in a future post, so making time to work on it was a priority on my days off. Thankfully, it’s my dad’s slow season on the farm, and he offered to help. Selfishly, part of working on the van is a way to spend more time with my dad. Of course, I am not transitioning to van life because of this, but it is a huge benefit. There aren’t many crossovers in our lives, so this is special.

A few weeks ago I drew up a rough build plan and my dad got wood and screws from his farm supplier. I am very lucky that my dad is a farmer and therefore has the tools I needed to build. I realize not as many people have this option, so it is harder to get work done.

I must preface this by saying, we did not remove the old bed. I had it removed and taken to the reuse center when I got the solar panels installed from HiWay HiFi. I also got Reflectix (window insulation) done as well. I measured the area I wanted the bed to be and fit it into the layout of the van. After that, it was cutting, remeasuring and reworking my plans as we went using my dads knowledge and also just what worked better for my van. We had to get different hinges and add a few reinforcements here and there, but largely, I’m happy with what we got.

The mattress I will be using also folds up into a chair. I have yet decided whether I will add another piece of plywood to increase the surface area of the table. It also needs some sanding, but it’s in my van and cozy.

I have not slept on it yet, as we finished it yesterday. I am also now able to put in shelves and storage now that the major piece of hardware is in.

A few questions I’ve gotten:

How will I keep warm?

Electric hook up and solar panel electricity at night, Mr. Buddy propane heater. Friends houses if we get a bad storm.

How will I cook?

Coleman stove. But mostly I will eat from work. I benefit from food service, a work perk is free food that would get tossed. I consider that benefit better than a pay increase at times.

How will I use the bathroom/shower/laundry?

I work at a 24 hour gym, giving me ample showering and laundry facilities. I have jobs that provide me with help making van life more manageable. I am also not doing this without support. My community is great and a lot of friends have offered amenities if I need them. I am lucky.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got, any questions, send them my way!

Working For Family

I have always been of the opinion that working for or with family is a recipe for disaster. Family can be great, but the line that needs to be drawn between employee and relative is an uncomfortable necessity that gets shoved under the rug.

How do you ask for compensation from someone who raised you?

How do you professionally discipline your offspring for being late?

How do you drawn the line between what is appropriate to talk about at home versus work?

Well, I know what doesn’t work, and I know what has been working for my mom and I so far. This past summer when I moved back to Ithaca, I wanted to help my mom out more often with her business. Female entrepreneurs face huge barriers and I believe supporting them can only help women as a whole. Also, she’s my mom and I was her biggest advocate when she started.

I had some reservations when we began, because I know what it looks like when family businesses do not work. I worked at a diner owned by a big Greek family and all they did was yell at each other. I’ve also seen how complicated relationships have gotten in our family farm. If roles are undefined and “I’ll help you out” is kept vague, confusion, mistrust and resentment begin to surface.

Here is what my mom and I have done:

I work on the days she does not.

On days we work together, I work half days.

It’s her business, so I do what she wants unless she asks my opinion.

My compensation is my monthly cell phone bill.

We do not discuss our past problems.

Those are the explicitly stated things. I also have some other practices I personally use which helps me manage anxiety and worthiness.

Her frustrations are about her, not me.

Do not offer advice.

Redirect negative conversations.

Constantly praise how things look (this is fashion).

Ask her opinion even if I don’t want it and say I’ll consider it.

Always say “I’ll try” and “I’ll do my best”.

This is not a perfect system but it has taught me how to handle this shift in family roles. The hardest part is not taking on her frustrations or her problems. Yes, she’s my mother and I love her and I will always listen. I think she likes having me come the most because I will talk and listen to her. However, if she is having a bad week or something like that, I constantly remind myself that these are not my burdens. I will pray for her to get through them, but I will not allow myself to worry about them longer than the time I am with her.

In my time at IIN, I learned how to listen to others, offer constructive comments, and not allow myself to attach my self worth to the outcome. I can only do the best I can and work hard, I cannot tie my soul to every job I do. That ends up crushing me. While working for family, I remember and believe that I will always be loved and cared for regardless if I worked for my mom, finished a task or not.

Have you worked for your family? How did you manage the shift in relationships?

Willpower in work and running

I think we all struggle with willpower in one area or another. For some, it might be addiction, to perfection, to drugs, to spending money. For me, I sometimes lack the willpower to finish something.

When it gets really boring in the last hour of work.

When I don’t want to think through a cohesive blog post.

When I don’t allow my body to appropriately recover from a run.

These are all sources where I lack willpower.

When it comes to running, I usually can muster the grit to get out there are start. Then it becomes the best part of my day. However, I sometimes don’t close the deal. I don’t get enough rest. I may run too much. I don’t eat the best foods or foam roll enough. I don’t finish the job.

At work, during this time of year it gets slower and towards the end of the shift I find myself getting antsy. I find myself thinking about all the other things I could be doing or if I should go home early. It is quite a conundrum because I want to make money, but I also have other things I could do instead (work on my van, bike, other jobs etc.)

Blogging, well, sometimes I just don’t have a conclusion to write and don’t want to think about it.

I’ve been reading The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal and it has empowered me to actually try to fix these issues. Whenever I get antsy at work, I stop, breathe deeply and think WILLPOWER. Seriously that’s what I do. I think remind myself of the money, and that the other things I think I could be doing will get done later. Doing this has also encouraged me to start using Google Calendar, where I allot time for those other things. This makes me believe I will do them and won’t forget. When I get antsy, I pray. I pray for a calm mind to get through the boring and tell myself that being bored is a skill. I need to be able to be bored.

When it comes to running, I put confidence in the people guiding me. I do what they say. They think, I listen and block out the part of me that thinks it’s not enough. I consciously find times to rest. I have built foam rolling into my day. Again, I block out time for it, not an obscure “I’ll foam roll tonight.” I do my best not to overthink food, but get enough in. I try, but I do not obsess. I pray that all things work for my body and I thank God for that.

In conclusion, my willpower will grow as I continue to be mindful of what I am doing, decreasing my multi-tasking, assuring myself I’ll get things done, or I won’t and most times that’s ok, and praying.