Breaking the Monotony: Weekly Goals

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I finished college in December and have started a full-time job.  I have more free time now than when I was in school, but the routine of going to work, coming home, knitting or doing some other craft in front of the TV, going to bed, and waking up to do it all again has started to get a little samey and depressing.  I kept thinking that I needed to do something to mix things up, but I hadn’t done anything.  Finally, I decided to set myself goals each week to help me do different things on some days.

This week, I chose goals that focus on self-improvement.  I finished physical therapy for my feet last week, but they gave me a program to continue on my own, so my first goal is to go to the gym twice this week to do my PT exercises.  It’s easy to replace my twice-a-week 7am PT appointments with twice-a-week 7am gym appointments, but it’s equally easy to be lazy and not go, so that’s why I set that goal.  I knocked the first session out this morning before work.

My second goal is to practice JavaScript a total of two hours over the course of the week.  Honestly, I hate JavaScript, but it is an important front-end web development technology, so I want to get better at it.  Who knows–maybe if I get good at it, I will like it.  I haven’t done any JS work yet this week, unless you count opening my book and not reading it.  I may wait until the weekend and do an hour each weekend day.

Lastly, I wanted to make plans to hang out with one friend this week.  I’m not good at putting effort into a social life, but I do want to cultivate friendships!  It’s much easier when I am running, but since I can’t just go to a weekly group run to socialize, I need to be proactive about doing other things.  A friend of mine is moving today, so I will be helping her after work.  Socialization goal, check!

I’ve already thought of some other things I want to do and have written them down as goals for next week.  I am liking this weekly goals idea because not only does it help me break up the monotony of my days, but it also helps me plan out the things I want to get done and helps me feel less overwhelmed by the things I need to do.  I have been telling myself forever that I need to plan a budget, but now I have it down as a goal for next week, so it will actually get done AND I will feel super accomplished about it.  There’s something fulfilling about checking an item off a list.

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Life Update – Busy Weeks, Fun Weekends

I have been silent on my blog since my last post about not running almost a month ago.  I have been very busy with my final semester and searching for a job for after graduation.  It’s true what they say about the job search being a full-time job in itself.  I have been attending career fairs and career mixers, sending out my resume to every opportunity, networking, studying for interviews… oh and midterms are coming up this week and next for that school thing!

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely even noticed the time pass in terms of how long I have been off.  It was just the other night that I was lying in bed and realized it had actually been five weeks since my last run.  That’s enough time off for some stress fractures, and I didn’t even realize it had been that long!  So, as you can imagine, I haven’t been too torn up about not running.  It certainly helps to be so busy during the week that I don’t even have time to think about running.

Where my weeks have been filled with work, school, and looking for work for after school, I have been able to fill my weekends with wonderful experiences. The weekend before last, Matt and I went camping in St. Ignace and visited Mackinac Island, which is something we had talked about doing all summer.  We had a mild summery weekend, so we planned the trip on a whim the day before leaving. 🙂

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Our campsite after packing up to leave on Sunday.

Me in a rock formation

I don’t remember what this rock formation was called, but here I am inside it.

Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints.

I liked this sign at the entrance to a wetland board path.

Under the Mackinac Bridge

Our ferry ride back to the mainland stopped us under the Mackinac Bridge for pictures.

Last week Saturday, I went to a WordPress conference called WordCamp Ann Arbor.  It was for work, but I really wanted to go and had a lot of fun.

WordCamp swag

WordCamp swag.

On Sunday of last week, I biked out to the cider mill with some friends.

Cider Mill ride!

Cider Mill ride!

This Saturday, I went on a breakfast bike ride to (and back home from) the Dexter bakery, where I had a huge and hugely sweet apple fritter.  As you can see, I’ve been reliably cross training about once a week. 😛

Bicycle Dexter poster

Poster in the bakery

Matt’s birthday was last weekend, so I bought us two tickets to last night’s Michigan v. Penn State football game.  It was an “Under the Lights” game and the atmosphere was incredible.  Our team (Michigan) won and it was very fun to watch.

Matt and I wearing light-up glasses.

They gave us light-up glasses.

Lights during the half-time show

The Michigan Marching Band’s halftime show.

Fun was had!

Fun was had!

My proofs came in the mail for my senior pictures!  Oh, and I cut my hair short.

"Hi, I'm professional."

“Hi, I’m professional.”

"But also fun."

“But also fun.”

Finally, because I should probably update you on my injury… I have been attending physical therapy twice a week and my foot improved drastically after the first week.  Since then, improvement has slowed, but, this past Friday, my physical therapist cleared me to try running ten minutes twice a week, with the stipulation that I ice after, warm up, and cool down.  So, on Friday evening, I stretched, walked for five minutes, ran for ten minutes, probably didn’t stop smiling the whole time, and then walked another six minutes home.  My feet felt GREAT during the run, but they were extra sore after.  They hurt quite a bit on Saturday, and I was worried standing for so long at the game would make them even worse.  However, I woke up this morning with virtually no pain.  It’s confusing and I am of course going to wait until at least tomorrow (Monday) to try running again, but I’m excited to be making progress. 🙂

Quick-Fire Week

I made a really good choice this afternoon when I decided to buy a coffee at work.  I was falling asleep, but now I’m not, and I’m also feeling very optimistic.  I may also be a little hyper, which is making me want to blog, but not put too much effort into writing a well-articulated post.

So, a quick-fire approach to recapping my recent life:

  • I went to a yoga class on Thursday with my friend Katie.  It was a lot of fun and felt really good.  It was my first time ever doing yoga in a studio.  I want to see if I can make it again this week.
  • I did the ice bucket challenge after my brother nominated me:
  • Matt and I spent the weekend with his parents, originally for the Crim, but then we hung out longer and had a fun time.
  • I attempted to run the 10-mile at the Crim on Saturday morning, despite the hip issues I had been dealing with.  By mile two, my hip was starting to get tight, and before the six-mile mark, it was pretty much shot.  I walked the majority of the final 4.5 miles after hanging out with course volunteers for 10-20 minutes.  I finished in two and a half hours and I was pretty bored walking because all the walkers around me had friends to chat with, but I was by myself.  Regardless, I covered the distance, so that is something to be proud of, even though it could have gone a million times better and I could be a million times healthier.
  • On Sunday afternoon, we went shopping at an outlet mall and I managed to get a pair of shoes, plus six pairs of no-show socks, for $32!
  • My final semester of college starts in a week, so I have been preparing for the job-hunting process.  It’s both exciting and stressful, but mostly exciting.
  • My bike is finished being repaired, so I get to pick it up tomorrow after work and I will get to ride it when we go up north this weekend. 🙂
  • Matt and I are seeing the series 8 premier of Doctor Who, “Deep Breath,” in a theater tonight!

Have you been up to anything exciting?  Do tell!

Hiking Pinckney

Matt and I had originally planned to head up to Mackinac Island this past Sunday.  Long story short, our bikes weren’t ready in time, so we opted to save a little money and find something to do locally, instead.

After attempting to fix his bike.

After attempting to fix his bike on Thursday night.

My friend Becca, ultrarunner extraordinaire, likes running trails at the Pinckney Rec Area.  I texted her on Saturday afternoon asking if the park was good for hiking.  She said it absolutely was, so Matt and I made plans to spend Sunday there, instead.

I didn’t get back from my mom’s house until pretty late on Saturday, so Matt and I went to the grocery store around 11pm to get some things to bring for a picnic on Sunday.  The store at that time of night was pretty empty, which was kind of cool.  We grabbed some corned beef, swiss cheese, and rye bread for sandwiches, along with premade macaroni and potato salads, raspberries, and blackberries.  Then we had fun picking out insulated lunch boxes in the back-to-school section.  In other words, he chose something right away and I spent a long time worrying that I would somehow choose the “wrong” one.

On Sunday morning, we slept in till close to 10 o’clock.  We had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast before heading out around noon.  It was a half hour drive to the park through as country as it gets in southeast Michigan.  When we arrived, there was no wait for park entry.  I just bought my state park pass (which is now good until my license plate tabs expire next year!) and we were on our way.  Parking was a piece of cake and we got out on the trails right away.  We left our phones in the car, so I didn’t get any pictures.  I just wanted to enjoy the hike and not worry about technology. 🙂

We started off on a three-mile foot-traffic-only loop.  We didn’t see anyone else the whole time, until the very end when we were exiting the trail and someone else was entering it.  For the most part, the trail was just wide enough for two people to walk side by side.  It had plenty of hills and, to me, it almost felt like we were out in the wilderness.  I believe I actually said, “This is Pure Michigan.”  The hike reminded Matt of going to cross country camp in high school, so we had a very interesting conversation about that.  I wish I had had the experience of cross country in high school, but what’s done is done, and I had many other unique opportunities. 🙂

After that first loop, which took about an hour, we went back to the car to use bug spray (we forgot for the first trail and the flies were eating me alive) and to grab our lunches.  We found a nice picnic table up on a hill in the shade by the lake.  The lake area was pretty crowded, so plenty of people-watching opportunities abounded!  My favorite was the little girl carrying a raft as big as she was on her head.

After lunch, we went back out onto another trail, this one about five miles long and partially open to mountain bikers.  We saw a lot more people this time, mostly runners and mountain bikers.  Everyone was very friendly, and luckily the trail was usually just wide enough for us to get out of the way.  Just when we were starting to get annoyed by the mountain bikers, we stopped seeing any.  I do think it’s really cool to watch them do what they do, but it can be a little frightening to be a hiker on a trail where they are moving quickly.

The second trail was even hillier than the first, or maybe my legs were just more tired.  No matter what, I loved the challenge, and it felt so good to be out there.  However, by the end, after 8+ miles of hiking, along with walking to and from the car multiple times, I was more than ready to go home.  We stopped at a gas station so I could get a donut and Matt could get a slurpee.  Then we drove to Matt’s house where I relaxed for maybe half an hour before getting hungry again.  I went home, made dinner, and fell asleep at 8:30pm.

All in all, it was an amazing day, and I would love to do it again.  There’s nothing quite like that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day after challenging myself.

Milford Memories

On Saturday, I drove over to my mom’s apartment, where I met up with her and her friend to go to the Milford Memories art fair.  I had a really bad knot in my glute and/or a really sore right leg from my run the previous day, so I was honestly worried I would be doing more waddling than walking, but thankfully the slow walking up and down the art fair served to loosen it up. 🙂

I took $40 out of the ATM on the way over, with the intention of using up to $20 of it at the art fair.  I saw a few things early on that interested me, but all were out of my price range.  I especially liked the Michigan-shaped cutting boards I saw.  We ended up coming across a tent selling needle felting crafts.  They had many ornaments of all kinds of different animals, as well as sheep made from wood and sheep’s wool, and sheepskin mittens and gloves.  The sheepskin mittens were selling like hotcakes and I probably should have been practical and taken a look at those, BUT two little sheep caught my eye and I just had to have them both.

Growing up, whenever my family went to art fairs, my brother and I would try to find “the pewter guy,” an artist who sold pewter figurines.  Our favorites were his medieval characters.  I looked for him at the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year, but did not find him.  Lo and behold, after I made my purchase at the needle felting tent, I continued down the street and the VERY NEXT BOOTH was the pewter guy, Heekin Pewter.  I got SO EXCITED and probably sounded like I was eight years old when I pointed it out to my mom.  Of course I had to buy more pewter.  I took forever, so my mom and her friend kept going and I took my sweet time.

I thought about buying a pewter elephant or a skeleton warrior, then I considered buying the war mammoth with its removable dwarf, and of course I eyed the castle towers.  I ended up opting for a skeleton warrior and a goblin archer, since they remind me of Skyrim… proud fantasy geek right here.  My Skyrim character is an orc that I specialized in archery and the skeleton reminded me of a draugr, a common undead enemy in Skyrim that is in pretty much every dungeon.  (I haven’t played Skyrim in a long time and never beat the main questline because I got burned out putting soooo many hours into various side quests, but I still love it!)

My purchases

My purchases

After the pewter tent, we walked around some more, looking for a leather bracelet for my mom and potential pet photography clients for her friend (if you live in Michigan and want high-quality photos of your pet, let me know and I’ll put you in contact).  We stopped for ice cream and I had a scoop of strawberry in a waffle cone–heaven in the heat!

Once we got back to my mom’s place, her friend headed home, my mom and I had some leftovers for dinner, and then we went to my mom’s storage unit so I could go through the few boxes I had remaining there.  For the most part, I took everything back to my apartment, but I did throw away a few things after having a good laugh at them.  Here are some of them. 🙂

A horrible crocheted chicken stuffed with newspaper.  I think this was the first amigurumi (crocheted stuffed animal) I ever made.

A horrible crocheted chicken stuffed with newspaper. I think this was the first amigurumi (crocheted stuffed animal) I ever made.

"The Cheesers"

“The Cheesers”

My brother and I sometimes made our own Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Here we have the "Noodle Guardian."

My brother and I sometimes made our own Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Here we have the “Noodle Guardian.”

One of my old butt pads from when I used to figure skate.

One of my old butt pads from when I used to figure skate.

Butt pad.

Butt pad, side view.

I also found the rest of my glass figure and pewter collections in the storage unit.  When I got back to Ann Arbor that night, I set up little displays on my dresser and desk.  I need to find a better way to display them all because this is going to make dusting obnoxious, but for now, this will work.

Giant loving sheep and their flock?

Giant loving sheep and their flock.

MOAR CUTE

MOAR CUTE

I would like to grow this battle scene.

I would like to grow this battle scene.

I was going to write about Sunday as well, but that will have to wait for another post.  Hiking Pinkney, coming soon to readers near you. 🙂

My Life Feels Full: Last Week’s Adventures

The only way I can describe last week is “full.”  My heart and mind (and stomach, hah!) felt full.  It is unusual for me to do anything other than running and relaxing at home on weekdays after work.  I usually try to go out of my way to plan something to do on one weekend day, just so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my weekend by sitting around.  However, this past week, I had something going on every day.  While it made the week feel long, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I always had something to look forward to, and even when those things were errands, I still somehow managed to enjoy them.

On Monday, I got to leave work for a few hours in the afternoon to take my road test.  I finally became a licensed driver at age 21!  I already wrote about that experience here.  Matt and I celebrated with burgers and beer at a restaurant near campus after work. 🙂

Tuesday was pretty uneventful, EXCEPT I had a meeting before work with someone I may be doing some freelance web development for.  I got to drive there on my own AND it was in a part of Ann Arbor I rarely go to, so it was actually pretty exciting.  Especially the part about being able to drive there on my own.

I also got free barbecue for lunch on Tuesday.  Alternatively, I got paid to eat barbecue, since I got it on a work “field trip” to a power plant 100th anniversary celebration. 🙂

IMG_2756

There is a local Meetup group here that does several group run events every week.  I have been wanting to go for a few weeks, but until last week, I hadn’t gone.  On Wednesday, I went to their Wednesday Social Run.  It is at a park I have to drive to because I’m not interested in adding four miles onto their route right now, so I hadn’t been able to go until last week.  Funny enough, it turns out their route passes right by my apartment, as in we run right across the street from it.  Theoretically, I could do the second half of the route on my own to run to the park, then do the first half with the group and return home, but that kind of defeats the whole SOCIAL part!

The Meetup event description says, “4 to 8 miles, depending on your interest,” so I had thought there might be multiple groups doing different distances, or that there would be route options.  However, there ended up being just one route that everyone did, which happened to be 6.3 miles.  Of course, that is squarely in the 4-8 mile range and would normally be fine, but having not run at all the previous two weeks, it was a little rough.  Maybe more than a little.  I was sore for two days after the run.  Two days!  I had fun though and I’m looking forward to going again this week.

Since it was my first time going, I just had to go out with some of the group after.  I had eaten pizza for lunch that day, but when they decided on a pizza place for dinner, I still wanted to go to hang out and make friends, so I had pizza again and it was delicious. 🙂  Hashtag no regrets.  Well maybe ONE regret.  Drinking even one beer after a 6-mile run and having not eaten in 5-6 hours was not one of my better ideas.  I started feeling it halfway through.  Oops.  (I’m not someone who likes to get drunk.  Nor tipsy/buzzed.  At all.)

By the time I got home around 9, it was time to go to sleep because I had a doctor’s appointment at 7:50am the next day before work.  This, like Tuesday’s meeting, was another one of those banal things made exciting by the fact that I could drive to it on my own.  On the way to work afterwards, I was able to stop by a coffee shop I had wanted to visit ever since it opened last year, but hadn’t because it’s not within walking distance and I guess I never really wanted to bike there.  It was nice and the manager knew my mom when I mentioned her. 🙂

After dinner, one of my friends came over to visit before she moves out of state in two weeks to start veterinary school.  We decided to go to a nearby open-air bar to try a drink she wanted to get before leaving.  It’s called Constant Buzz (strawberry smoothie, piña colada, rum, tequila, vodka, gin) and only comes in a 50-oz size, so I invited Matt and we split it three ways.  (Here’s a funny blog post by a Michigan grad about the bar and this drink, by the way.)  It was delicious.  Then, some older ladies gave us the remainder of their sangria after we took a picture for them on their way out.  Also delicious!  (This time I did not get buzzed.  The body is a funny thing.)

Yummy drink

Yummy drink

Silly faces drink

Silly faces drink

Friday was the day I had been looking forward to all week.  Matt and I had made plans for our siblings to come visit.  We all went to dinner at a make-your-own “Italian” place, then spent an hour or two walking around downtown and showing them the university campus.  I hadn’t seen my brother in a long time, so it was really great to hang out.

Siiiibs.

Shiny Happy People

On Saturday, I was feeling achy and sluggish.  When I didn’t feel better after a couple hours of relaxing, I decided to go for a short run (only my second of the week) to see if it would help.  I felt much better during the run, but it wasn’t until Matt and I got a late lunch at Jimmy John’s that I felt close to 100%.  While we were at lunch, Matt’s parents texted him asking if we wanted to come over for dinner.  I didn’t think I would even want dinner, but we didn’t go until late and I ended up being pretty hungry.  We went to an Irish pub in downtown Flint and it was extremely delicious.  The portions were huge and none of us could finish, so I got to take home some leftovers, which I ate for dinner last night. 🙂  With how much I ate out last week and how many times I had leftovers, I didn’t have to cook at all last week…

Finally, on Sunday, Matt and I headed up to Frankenmuth (a historic German town) for an all-you-can-eat German-style chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn.  We ate almost nothing all day (he had a brownie and I had a bowl of cereal and some grapes) in preparation to stuff our faces. xD  This post has gotten very long (I told you last week was full!!), so I will leave you with some pictures from our time spent walking around Frankenmuth while our food digested.

IMG_2789

I thought this mouse/cheese statue was funny.

I thought this mouse/cheese statue was funny.

From "Tiny Town" outside Bavarian Inn.

From “Tiny Town” outside Bavarian Inn.

More Tiny Town

More Tiny Town

Still more Tiny Town.

Still more Tiny Town.

The Covered Bridge and someone handsome.

The Covered Bridge and someone handsome.

More Covered Bridge. :)

More Covered Bridge. 🙂

I Got My Driver’s License!

My world just got infinitely bigger because yesterday, at 21 years old, I got my first driver’s license!!  I took driver’s ed in high school but just never wanted to drive and I didn’t want my license.  A couple years ago, I got an adult permit, but never really practiced and it expired without a licensing attempt.  This spring, I got a second permit.  I also bought a car at the same time so I would have something to practice with.  I drove lots of places with Matt as my required Licensed Adult and I finally took my road test yesterday afternoon!!  I passed and immediately went to the Secretary of State to get my license.  I now have a little piece of paper that says I can drive and the license card will arrive in the mail in seven to ten days!

As you can tell, I’m very excited about this.  After going to the Secretary of State, I dropped Matt off at work, drove to my work, and paid to park, just because I wanted to drive there. xD  After work, I picked Matt up from work and drove us to my place so we could walk downtown to celebrate with burgers and beer. 😀  Then I dropped him off at his house and I felt so cool saying, “I just got back from dropping Matt off at his house.”

This morning, I had a 9am meeting before work that Matt was going to drive me to, but since I got my license yesterday, I got to drive to it myself!  And it was so fun!  I never enjoyed driving that much before, but now that I have my license, I feel so FREEEE because I am not limited to places I can walk or bus to.  I was thinking about driving to one of my favorite parks after work today, but it is supposed to rain, so I will probably save that for another day.

When I passed my test, the test administrator gave me a keychain that is a bottle opener, a flashlight, and a tape measure.  Just one more thing to be excited about!

This little guy is on my car keys now.

This little guy is on my car keys now.