Alex in Transit(ion)

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Mind over Body

I can’t tell you how many times this week I’ve asked myself if signing up for the Mohawk Hudson Marathon was a good decision or not. I am sticking with it. I will be at the starting line no matter what but holy schnikes Batman, marathon training is no joke. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like having a very committed relationship. I was all set for doing a 5 mile run today. Then I started getting knee pain, which is nothing new. My knees have always been pretty shot but as I cleared my first mile in 9:26 min, I started getting pain in my right Achilles tendon. I stopped and stretched a little, which probably looked all sorts of ridiculous since I was right next to my neighbors who were probably wondering why I was breaking into yoga poses on the side of the road. However, since getting into running, yoga, and cycling, I’ve really learned to embrace my athletic eccentricities. Sometimes a girl’s gotta stretch!

But yeah. I finished my second mile and I knew I couldn’t do anything more than that when I felt pain in my right Achilles tendon. I thought of my marathon in October and wondered if I’d even make it 5 miles into the race with all of these injuries. I started out this morning with tightness in my left groin and yoga really helped. What I have noticed is that running right after a hot yoga session is the best- I do not feel injured afterwards. Yet now, the challenge is that there isn’t going to be a hot yoga class right before my marathon (although if there was, I would wake up at 4:00 AM for that without one doubt), so I guess there’s only one thing and one thing only left to do:

See a sports medicine doctor. As much as I love asking the running community about tips about how to keep me injury free, now that I have awesome health insurance, it’s time to take advantage of it. I have the spirit, I have the mindset, and I just need the body to match.

It’s been a week since I’ve purchased my Garmin. I am absolutely in love. To any runner who is on the fence about getting one, my advice is to bite the price bullet and do it. I decided to get a Forerunner 10. While I did want a heart rate monitor, it wasn’t in my budget to put down $300 for a watch. My favorite thing about it is that it’s a great motivator to me and I like it better than the Nike+ app because it doesn’t eat my data plan and I hate fumbling around with a phone during a race.

I”m good with running equipment right now. I’m thinking about a hydration belt but I’m not married to the idea just yet because I like the feeling of earning your water break. I think if there’s anything I need to invest in, it’s probably two awesome sports bras (the search isn’t over yet) and a foam roller. I don’t know, I’ve stopped looking at athletic wear as a fashion show. It’s very easy to fall into that trap with yoga, but I’ve come to realize who cares what I wear, as long as it looks good and wicks my sweat, who cares?

Life after grad school has been amazing. I’m honestly reveling in all of this free time. Words can’t even describe the joy I have now that I’m finally able to read for pleasure again. I thought I would express more that that for describing this feeling but I guess these are all the words I have for now.


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bah bah, bah bah, this is the sound of settling.

I should be doing the finishing touches on my thesis but all work and no play makes a very sad Alex. To know that freedom is so close is just unbelievable. I’m really pumped to finally settle into my life. For so long, it’s seemed like I’ve been racing from one finish line to the next, like campaigning or grad school. A few months ago, my friend mentioned that I’ve been moving at a fast, but very unsustainable pace and what I need, more than anything, is some true rest and relaxation. My friends from Jersey and I are planning a shore day and it sounds like absolute heaven and we’re all going out on Friday to celebrate my gradubirthday so I can’t wait.

My stress fracture is getting better! I’m on week 5 of 8 of rehab. Swimming has been amazing, and I’ve hit the point where I can jump without any pain. Jumping sounds risky, but it’s not. A friend was concerned I’m hurting myself but before attempting a stressful activity, it’s important to know your body. If I was feeling pain this morning, I wouldn’t jump and wouldn’t recommend jumping. I’m preparing my foot to run again, in which I will be putting 4x my body weight on my feet with each strike I make. I need to ensure that we’re making progress. This is the advice I’m following: http://blog.run.com/blog/training/ask-the-pt-how-do-i-recover-from-a-stress-fracture/

It is a little frustrating not being able to run on these gorgeous days but I keep reminding myself that I’d rather be healthy than injured. If I’m feeling slight to very little pain now, I’m doing something right. It no longer hurts when I walk. The only time I feel pain is when I do certain yoga moves, like three legged dog for an extended period of time. But I can flex with my feet and execute a grabbing motion without pain, so yay! We’re getting there.

This morning, I woke up with a splitting sinus headache. It’s one of those where you feel like someone kicked you in the stomach. Yet, I found it was a great time to reflect and I realized that I’m exactly where I want to be. However, I do need to keep my ambition in check. When I take too much on at once, I am not staying true to myself or the cause I seek to help. On Tuesday, Newark’s having a mayoral election and I felt a little guilty about not campaigning for Shavar Jeffries. Then I realized that it was almost impossible to balance my work and grad school schedule at the same time, why am I even entertaining adding another responsibility? The lesson I’ve learned is just because you have the drive to do everything, doesn’t mean you should. It’s very hard for me to accept because in my heart, I am someone who wants to do good and help others, but if I’m burning myself out, what is being accomplished?

I’ve thought about getting a car. When my friend and I went out to Montclair a couple of weeks ago, I definitely see how much easier it is to get around Jersey with one but for right now, I don’t see the need. I would barely use it. I think I would get one when I’m ready to start a family but even then, I’d like to see if future husband and I could share a car. Idealistically, I’d like to live in a neighborhood like Albany’s New Scotland area or where my cousins live in downtown Saratoga in which there is a vibrant neighborhood where you can walk to the parks, events, and supermarkets, but is still gorgeous and family friendly. But of course, you need an open mind when it comes to having a family, because it’s not about you, it’s about your children,  so if I had to get a car, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

A lot of people ask me if I will ever return upstate. It would absolutely be a dream to live in Saratoga or Albany proper. My official stance is that I want to be in a place that offers me the ability to advance a career in public transportation and sustainability efforts. It’s what I moved to New Jersey for. I also want to be with an agency that cares about my career aspirations while giving me the time to focus on my family.

You’ve probably seen me throw the ‘”f”,”c”, and “h” words around a lot. In the past, I hesitated about writing about this but the truth is, I feel like I’ve finally reached the place in which I’m confident in my career path and education, which is a great feeling because it’s something that I never realized before. For so long, it’s been “when I get my master’s, when I get my first real job, when I’m not moving once every 6 months.” It’s here now. While I’m still going to live out the late 20’s dream haha, I do want to settle down sometime in the next few years. I’m still going to have fun and date around because that’s the only way of figuring out if there’s a future with someone. Yet if I find someone that clicks who feels mutually about me, I’m not going to wallow and say “oh, I need to play the field more.” I’m done with that. I’m done with boys who can’t figure out if they want me in their life or not. With that said, I’m no longer sympathetic to those sorts of situations because I’ve realized that when two people click, they don’t play the game of “are we on or off?” It’s exhausting. I’m also not going to settle because life is too short to not be with the right partner. I’ve had the pleasure of dating some really nice guys but just because a relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean they’re not good people. It just didn’t work and the best thing to do is wish them bliss. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people throw this quote from 500 Days of Summer, and I’ve found it to resonate: “People change. Feelings change. It doesn’t mean that the love once shared wasn’t true or real. It simply means that sometimes when people grow, they grow apart.”

Direction feels good. It feels really good.


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Being present with a stress fracture, volunteering with NYRR, and my new race schedule.

One of the yogic philosophies is to “be present,” which is meant to teach us to live in the moment. I find myself reflecting back to this lesson every time I stretch out my right foot. The good thing is, when I stepped into the shower yesterday morning, I noticed that the pain was starting to dull. Immediately, my heart exclaimed, “I’m healing! If it’s like this on Monday, I’ll totally be able to race on Sunday!” Then reality sunk in. If this is a stress fracture, I’m out of commission for at least a couple of weeks. I’ll be lucky if I get to race with NYRR on May 11th.

On Easter Sunday, I was certain that I needed to see a doctor but now that it’s feeling better, I guess I’m on the way to recovery. Yoga has been helping a lot. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t want to damage the metatarsal any further, but I do not feel pain in most poses, including Downward Facing Dog. This has only reinforced to me that I will not run without dong a yoga warm up for at least 20 minutes. I guess that’s the best thing about learning your mistakes. Sometimes they hurt so bad, you’ll try to avoid making them again.

I decided that I’m not going to miss race day. I’m still going to pick up my bib and my shirt. The only thing is that I won’t be running. Instead, I signed up to volunteer with NYRR as a Course Marshal in which I get to direct the runners to stay within their lanes and encourage them on the race. I’m really pumped because I love seeing the course marshals when I run and here’s my turn to be one! Also, this will satisfy my volunteer requirement for entry in the 2015 NYC Marathon as part of NYRR’s 9 Races + 1 Volunteer Event program. During the course of this injury, I was so disappointed that I’d be missing out on the energy of the NYRR community if I sat this race out but that’s what volunteering is for! In fact, I’ll get to know what goes on behind the race and meet some new people, so it’s all good. Ah, I know it may sound weird, but I really thrive off of experiences where I get to help out others and I have the biggest smile on my face about Sunday. (Edit: I decided not to do this. Not because I didn’t want to but it’s become apparent that I need to be a shut in until graduation and get my assignments in. Real life awaits in a few weeks. I’ll probably post about how I’m learning that I can’t do it all even though I feel like I can.)

Now that I’m faced with the possibility of missing out on two runs, here is my updated NYRR race schedule so I can keep my eye on completing 9+1.

Races:

1. Run for the Parks 4M 4/06: Done

2. Japan Run 4M 5/11: Depends how I’m feeling

3. Oakley Women’s Mini 10k 6/14

4. LGBT Pride Run 5M 6/28

5. Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4M 7/12

6. New York Giants 5k Run of Champions 7/20 (and you get to run in MetLife Stadium!)

7. Percy Sutton Harlem 5k 8/23

8. TCS NYC Marathon Tune Up 18M 9/14 (this will be good since I’m training for Mohawk-Hudson in October)

9. Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon 10/05 (this is also going to be good since showtime for Mohawk-Hudson is the following weekend)

10. Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off 5M 10/26

11. Race to Deliver 4M 11/23

12. Jingle Bell Jog 4M 12/06 (I hear this race is a blast)

13. NYRR Midnight Run 4M 12/31 (this isn’t a marathon qualifier but this year I went my studio’s New Year’s Eve hot yoga class and got to ring in the new year with my fellow yogis, I think it would be awesome to switch it up and spend it with a bunch of runners.)

The cool thing about this list is that I’m not going to stop at running 9 NYRR events. I really love being apart of this club and I want to get out with them as much as possible. And of course, there is volunteering at the 2014 NYC Marathon! I can’t even contain my excitement about how pumped I am for this. It is going to be soooo sick being part of that experience, especially since it will be right after I run Mohawk-Hudson. Plus, who doesn’t want to be in Staten Island at 2:30AM?

I’ve got a ton of reasons to rest this right foot. Yet, it looks like I have an academic race of my own and that’s to get all of my assignments done so I can graduate! Until next time, here’s a line from Wilco that I feel is appropriate about this situation: “take all the good with the bad, make something that no one else has.”

 

 


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Silver Linings Playbook: In which life doesn’t go the way you planned, and it’s perfectly alright.

I think the best inspiration for me to get all of my papers done by the first week of May is that the sooner that they are finished, the sooner I’ll be able to have my nights completely free so I can start working out like I used to. I am sidelined (still) because of my 5th metatarsal injury. It’s very frustrating because I want so badly to strap on my new shoes and run, especially since I have a race next Sunday, but I know that there’s no such thing as “no pain, no gain.” Haha, my friends keep joking around with me, saying “athletes play injured all of the time.” I know better than that though; if I run, this won’t heal, and if I’m not healed, I can’t run. I’m still doing swimming and yoga and it’s been helping. I wish I had time to ride my bicycle but Newark isn’t very bike friendly and there isn’t time in my schedule to go from Newark to Hoboken or the city to ride double digit miles like I’d want to.  I’m just crossing my fingers that I will be able to kick this in time for the race. If I’m still in pain, as much as it sucks to miss out, I won’t run it.

I guess sacrifice makes us stronger, and that’s what I keep reminding myself. Recently, I found out that I just got promoted which is awesome. I’m absolutely thrilled because I love GIS analysis and working with data. I can’t wait to graduate so I can move on from academics and truly focus on learning code and learn more best cartographic practices so I can become more of an asset. But of course, there’s a cost to everything and these next couple of weeks are going to be a little expensive. $114 for my cap and gown, $798 is due on April 28th for my last tuition payment. By May 17th, I need to satisfy paying my Rutgers health insurance balance, which currently is $600. Normally, my health insurance would be put into my tuition payment plan but for some reason the University didn’t factor that cost in when the plan was drawn up and in late March, I found out there was a financial hold on my account. Thankfully, the University isn’t putting extra hold charges because they realize it was their mistake but when you’re only pulling in barely a grand every two weeks, while paying all of these expenses, it’s not easy. I had to tell my friend that I planned to live with that given my current financial situation that I can’t live with her because I don’t have enough to front security, a broker fee, and rent. Originally, I was planning to use my tax refund to cover most of the apartment expenses but now that money is being used so I can meet my current situation. Thankfully, I was able to find a great apartment on Craigslist that has reasonable rent and security, and I think my new roommate and I are going to get along awesome, so I guess there’s a silver lining to everything, even when your plans don’t work out the way you thought they would. I just can’t wait until the middle of May where I will able to take a deep breath and know that the struggles I’m currently facing will be non-existent because my promotion will be official. I also realize that even though I feel like I’m being squeezed, in the the grand scheme of things, I’m not in a bad spot. Things could be a lot worse. Besides, I’m not above eating peanut butter and jelly. Believe it or not, it’s one of the best things a runner can eat and it’s even better on some good bread.

The way I see it, in a few weeks, it’s all going to be a memory, and I’ll be waking up with New York City right outside my window. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that; it all feels very promising. Yet I’ve seen that even when things don’t align the way you want them to, even if it takes days or years, it all ends up working out.

 

 

 

 


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I <3 Running Stores That Allow Dogs.

In my last post I said that I would wait to get new sneakers until later within the week. I’m dog sitting at my friend’s place in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do is go around her neighborhood in DUMBO. But my most favorite thing turned into the most painful thing because the only shoes I packed with me are my Converse All Stars and my Vibram Bikilas. Before I went out, I tried doing some yoga but it was too painful and realized that sitting and supine poses are on the agenda until I heal up. I thought that the Converse would be a good sneaker to walk in but I was so wrong.  I wrapped an ACE bandage around my foot and put my Vibrams back on because my foot liked the compressed feeling.

I looked at the dog, who wanted to play, and I realized that if I’m going to make it through this weekend, I’m going to need better shoes. I searched for “best running store in NYC” and found New York Running Company. All the reviews on Yelp seemed solid and I liked how they make you run on a treadmill until they find your perfect shoe. I didn’t want to leave the dog alone so I called the Columbus Circle location and asked if they allowed dogs in the store and they said yes! I put Zoey in her carrier and off we went!

When I got to New York Running Company, I met with Stephanie who was absolutely enamored with Zoey and was so helpful. She brought me to the treadmill, analyzed my gait, and said that I overpronate when I run and I need a more stable shoe to correct my gait. I did not know what she meant by overpronation but apparently, when I run, my ankle rolls 15 degrees inward to meet the ground and most of the work comes from the big toe to push off. Now this is a problem most commonly found with people with low arches or flat feet. I have high arches. I feel the reason why I developed an overpronated gait is because Vibrams encourage a midfoot strike. When I strike with my midfoot, my ankles roll inward, and boom: overpronation. This can’t be corrected with my Vibrams.

Stephanie suggested that I should run in stability shoes and brought out the Brooks Ravenna, another model of Brooks that I don’t remember, and the ASICS Kayano 20. I always heard such great things about Brooks and was excited to try on a pair. I really liked running in the Ravenna because the top of the shoe promoted a rolling motion which made it really easy to push off but the deal breaker with both of the Brooks models was that the ankle felt too loose. I tried on the ASICS Kayano 20’s and was sold. While it doesn’t have the rolling motion the Brooks Ravenna has, it is a stable and responsive shoe. To help correct my gait, Stephanie fitted me with an Orange Superfeet insole for high arches. Holy wow. Where have these been all 26 years and 11 months of my life? The shoes and insoles cost $197 but I got a discount from being a New York Road Runners (NYRR) member. It was expensive, especially since I’m still on my intern salary, but I’d rather pay money now to avoid a doctor’s visit later. Stephanie told me about her marathon training class that she’s teaching in the summer. I mentioned to her that I’m going to give myself a GPS watch for my birthday and while she recommended Garmin, she also told me to check out the DCRainmaker blog, which reviews all the GPS watches. I asked her how important having a good heart rate monitor is because my co-worker raves about his. She said that it’s a great feature to have because based on your heart rate, you can see if you are healthy or sick, and it can determine if you should take a rest day. She recommended for me to have a training journal and I really like that idea. I already keep track of my workouts on MapMyRun but I’m thinking about making a public GoogleDoc spreadsheet where I can log my stuff and integrate it within the blog. All in all, I highly recommend the New York Running Company. I dig the community, they allow dogs, and you walk out with some solid kicks. If you go there, make sure you ask for Stephanie because she is so great. I feel like that’s something that Jimmy Fallon would say.

Since I had Zoey girl with me, it was time for the ultimate test. I may be injured,  but it’s no reason why the dog can’t enjoy a stroll in Central Park. It was such a gorgeous day and Zoey is such social butterfly so she gave a lot of people front paw hugs and made new dog buddies. This was my second time in Central Park and I saw this huge rock that seemed like it was something out of The Lion King . Zoey and I raced towards it but then realized that it is no place for dogs because of all of the broken glass in the crevices so we chilled out in a sunny part of the grass while we enjoyed our $3 bottle of water because the water fountains weren’t turned on yet. I brought a silicone collapsible bowl with us for her to drink out of. I can’t get over how handy those are. The pain that I experienced was still there but nowhere near to how excruciating it was earlier in the day.

As for my Vibrams, I’m still going to wear them, but only casually. It”s disappointing because being a minimalist runner was something that I took a lot of pride in but I’m not going to injure myself and risk losing out in competing for my first marathon. I don’t regret the journey because I really enjoy wearing Vibrams because of how comfortable and flexible  they are.

Even though I have a pair of running shoes that I’m dying to try out, I’m sticking to swimming this week. I think I’ll go to yoga on Wednesday because I should be healed up by then and Donna Scro of Garden State Yoga is absolutely fantastic. I am going to miss her classes when I move to Hoboken. Thankfully, there is a branch of GSY in Hobo so I don’t have to worry about switching studios. I still will go to Bloomfield because there are some classes, like Yin Yoga and Meditation and Restorative, that aren’t offered at Hoboken, and the teachers are that amazing that I don’t mind having to travel a little bit for class. I’ll go out for my first run on next Saturday. I feel that will be enough time to heal up.

kicks

 

 


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Vibrams and Foot Pain

The tops of my feet have hurt like crazy for the last couple of days. The last time I experienced pain like this was when I was beginning to transition to running with Vibram Five Fingers.

I will say that I think it’s partially my fault because it’s been weeks since I’ve been to yoga and I haven’t been keeping up with a home practice because I’ve been getting over a cold and grad school has taken over my life. I’m used to going to yoga at least 4 or 5 times a week and maybe this is my feet’s way of telling me that my body needs my practice.  I also haven’t stretched my feet as well as I should because I thought my feet were adjusted to minimalist running. This is going to make me sound like such an awful runner but even when I haven’t stretched like I should, I’ve never experienced pain like this.

I’ve been running with Vibram Five Fingers since 2012 but I am thinking that if I’m going to be marathon training,  maybe I do need a regular pair of running shoes for the days when my feet aren’t feeling up to the Vibrams. I think I’m going to pay a visit to Fleet Feet and see what’s the best option for my feet. I hear that they are great; apparently they analyze your gait to see which running shoe is best for you. If there’s anything I’m realizing is that marathon training isn’t a solitary exercise (no pun intended). It takes so much input from others to help educate and motivate you to help build the endurance to run the race and make sure you’re not injuring yourself.

Even though my mind wants to push myself to run, I know it’s not a good idea. I’m going to do some yoga and walk around in my Vibrams after my practice. Maybe on Sunday I’ll feel up to running.


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Marathon Training: Coaches, GPS Watches, and Realizing My Schedule

To qualify for the Boston Marathon, you need to run at a feeder marathon with a finishing time of 3 hours and 35 minutes. That means for 26.2 miles, I have to keep a pace of 8 minutes and 21 seconds. This isn’t going to be easy. I looked at last year’s results for the Mohawk- Hudson River Marathon, which I’m running in October to qualify for Boston, and only 163 out of 939 runners were able to finish the race in 3 hours and 35 minutes. While that is intimidating, they wouldn’t recommend the time if it wasn’t possible. People do it and I want to be one of those people who do. However, I am taking into account that 3:35 isn’t going to be achieved by running non stop. This may be tmi, but what happens if I need to go to the bathroom? Do I just pull a Forrest Gump when he said “if I needed to go, I went?” Haha, there’s so many mysteries.

Last night, I saw on NYRR’s Facebook that Summer Sanders, who is a former Olympian but I know her as the host of Nickelodeon’s Figure It Out, wrote an article about tips on how to train for a marathon and she spoke highly of NYRR’s Virtual Coach program. It’s $175 but I think it’s worth it, especially after consulting one of my friends who runs NCAA cross country, who also recommended me to find a coach. The program looks really cool, I can e-mail the coach whenever I want about my training program which is great because I’m going into this headfirst and am going to need all the help I can get to qualify.

I’m also going to need a GPS watch. For so long I thought I could do without one but I’m seeing that if I’m going to get that 8:21 pace, I need to know where I stand during my training. That looks like it can set me back between $125-150. My friend and I always joke about how we got into running because we thought it was so cheap but we were so wrong. I’m also looking into hydration belts because even though there will be water tables during the race, there won’t be when I’m training, so I need to make sure that I’m doing this safe because I’ve never been a fan of passing out. On the bright side, I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I have my 6 month grace period for student loans so I guess I should spend while I can.

I realize my plan to run 3 marathons in a little over a year is really ambitious but the way I see it, the Mohawk-Hudson one is the only marathon (so far) that I’m going to be nuts about keeping my pace. If I do qualify for Boston, I don’t need to worry about what time I finish at because I’ll have guaranteed entry for the NYC Marathon through the 9 races, volunteer staff at 1 race program. The running schedule doesn’t intimidate me because after I graduate, I’m going to have a huge void in my life because I’m not used to having free time. I got hired on the Obama campaign in March 2012, where I was working 7 days a week and usually long into the night. Immediately after the election, I finished a two and a half year grad school program in a year and a half. I wonder if committing to run a marathon is my way of filling up my time and the funny thing is I didn’t realize that until just now.


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My first Marathon in the 518.

This is going to mean a lot to me in so many ways. I’ve never trained for anything like this before but I’m excited for the challenge. I was kind of disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t qualify for the NYC Marathon this year because, through NYRR, I need to complete 9 races and staff one as a volunteer in 2014. Honestly, I see there’s a reason for that and it’s actually really fun planning which races I want to run and I’m itching to volunteer with a race because even though I’ve only done one race with them, I love the enthusiasm behind the organization and I’d like to be a part of it.

After my race, I thought about the Boston Marathon, which takes place every April, and is about 6 and 1/2 months earlier than the NYC Marathon. While I’ve always heard great things, I’ve never been to Boston and I think this would be one incredible way to see the city. Unlike the NYC Marathon, where all I have to do is complete the 9 races and volunteer at 1 event, I actually need to qualify with a time below 3 hours and 35 minutes. I looked at the top races and I found that there was in the Capital Region. When I found out, I laughed because I lived there for so long and had no idea that this event took place. Then I smiled because I saw the route is my beloved Mohawk-Hudson Bike/Hike Trail. I used to ride almost every day when I lived there. It’s where I developed my love for transportation planning.This is where my first marathon is meant to happen. Plus, I get to see my dearest friends for a weekend. I don’t get to hang out with them that often, so this is going to be so legit.

Now all there is to do is to train. I’m going to follow this marathon training schedule because it integrates yoga with it. I’m going to try my best to follow through with the practice. The best thing is that I live in the NYC Metro area and there isn’t a shortage of dedicated running trails. I also need to figure out how to eat for this thing. Luckily for me, I really like peanut butter!

Things are falling together. There are a lot of thoughts to expand upon but until I can sort them all out, what I can confidently say is that I believe I am where I need to be and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than here.


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Goodbye Darth Vader.

I can’t remember the last time I took a legitimate sick day from work. Maybe when I got my wisdom teeth out in 2012? Even though so much of me is saying to myself, “you know, you can sort of breath right now without sounding like a Darth Vader wannabe,” I am letting myself rest. I’m still trying to figure out if skipping class is something I should do or not but wow. It feels so good to finally relax. My yoga teacher was talking about that the other week. She said how she was always on and when she was feeling sick, she was fighting it and continuing on with her routine, which is what I was doing last week. It then became apparent to her, as it did to me, that it’s time to accept the fact that you’re sick. You may hate every single moment of your sinuses flaring up, wondering how the human body can become such a vehicle for disease, how you’re missing yoga, how you can’t train for your race next weekend, and you can’t focus on your homework.

But it’s what happening at the moment. And it may be inconvenient, but then you get to today, and you’re not reaching out for the tissues every two seconds. You’re starting to find the strength to clean up your room, which currently feels like it’s overrun with germs. And that homework? Well, it’s going to be done as soon as you clean your room. Sometimes you just have to get through the bad things to finally get to the good again.

 


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embracing 3.06

Yesterday, I went out to dinner with a good friend from college. She and I haven’t had the chance to hang out in ages because I’ve been so busy with school. She asked me how I handled it all and I put my head in between my arms and cowered, “I like to get A’s.” Some of my academic colleagues and friends have questioned why I’m striving so hard to keep a 3.95 and it’s for a few reasons.

1. I’m paying approximately 20 grand a year for this degree. What is the use of spending all of that money if I’m not getting something out of it? Especially in this world, where information is so instant, people will call you out immediately if you can’t fire back with a good explanation. That not only weathers your credibility, but the credibility of your program.

2. I’m considering going to back to school to get a Master’s in Information Systems and even though the MPA opens doors for me to be hired by companies that will pay for me to go back to school, I really would like to get a nice scholarship. I found out from one of my friends that the reason why he didn’t have his employer pay for his master’s is because if he would be required to pay taxes on it and instead, chose to fund it himself. Even with knowing that, I still would like to take the tuition remission route because if I can get a scholarship to cut a good chunk of that, then I won’t have to pay a lot back come tax time.

3. I’m not going to lie. I got a 3.06 for undergrad. It’s not because I slacked off, instead, it was a result of spreading myself so thin. I was involved in so many extracurriculars, which included executive board positions, and wasn’t mature enough to find the balance between my leadership positions and academics. It wasn’t until I interned in DC that I figured out how to strike the balance. Even though the GPA is low, I don’t regret one moment because the leadership experience I received got me to where I am now in which I balance a 40 hour internship combined with 12 credits a semester, volunteering in Newark, and yeah…that whole having a life thing.

The three times (ooh, another set of threes)  I’ve been embarrassed about my undergraduate GPA was when a political science professor cornered me and sarcastically said in front of the whole class, “and you wanted to be in Pi Sigma Alpha,” which is the political science honor society. I was really mad at the professor at the time for calling me out like that but now I see where he/she was coming from. In the beginning of the semester, I was on fire but towards the middle, I was putting off studying to get used to the campus that I just transferred to, and at the time, making new friends and getting myself involved in new clubs seemed more important than my grades. The professor saw my academic potential go down, knew I was capable of more, and wanted to give me a strong wake up call.

The second time was during graduation and they were announcing the graduates who received all academic honors. While I received departmental honors in my philosophy program, right after the ceremony my father asked me, “why wasn’t your name called? I expected it to be called.” That stung. My father financially supported me through my undergrad and like I said, even though my way worked out in the end, at that moment, I felt like I disappointed him. That’s actually the biggest reason why I strove so hard to succeed in graduate school. I will be receiving full academic honors from Rutgers and when my name is called, I’m not going to feel one ounce of self pride. I’m serious about that. I honestly did it all to make my family proud of me. Even though I did the work, if it wasn’t for my mother and father placing such a precedence on my education, I wouldn’t be here. I know that sounds weird but in the Italian culture we honor the sacrifices of the family before we acknowledge the individual’s.

The third time was applying to graduate school. I ended up getting accepted into all of the schools I wanted to get into but I cringed each time I wrote “3.06” on the applications. I wrote my essays about how my professional experience matured me and I felt that number did not serve as an indicator of my future success in a graduate program.

3.06 will follow me for the rest of my life but it doesn’t define me. It shut some doors but opened others. 3.95 doesn’t define me either, even though I’m happy to have it. They’re just part of the journey, each achieved for their own separate set of reasons. My education professor said that we shouldn’t be satisfied with receiving an education. We should claim our education. I intend on doing just that.a

Wow, that got deep. Probably need to lighten the mood somehow. He or she has such big paws!

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