The Healing Power of Tears

Last month my family did, arguably, one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We put our 11-year-old dog, Abby, down.

Abby

After two unsuccessful ACL surgeries, she could barely walk, and a recent diagnosis of oral cancer made it difficult for her to even eat her food. Unfortunately, it was her time.

When my dad informed my sister and I, back in April, that Abby didn’t have much longer, my natural reaction was pretty typical. I cried. The next several weeks were rough.

I cried a lot.

I cried at work. I cried while driving (In my defense, Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me” was the trigger. The instrumental in the beginning? Beautiful.). I cried at my cousin’s dance recital. I cried on a run. I cried during dinner with my best friend. I was essentially an emotional basket case. I’d be lying if I didn’t sheepishly admit to feeling kind of pathetic about my ongoing waterworks display.

I mean, she was just a dog, right? Wrong. Seriously, ask my parents. This is how they’d rank their favorite children: Abby, followed (not closely) by either my brother, sister or I, with the order depending on the time or day.

I never understood the emotional turmoil the loss of a pet could cause until it was my own.

And, I must say, all that crying made me learn something: Tears truly have a healing property, unlike any other.

When you cry, you feel vulnerable, relieved, and usually, a sense of closure.

So now, I’m ordering – yes, ordering – you to do something strange and seemingly counter-intuitive next time you’re feeling sad, stressed or overwhelmed. I’m ordering you to “cry it out” like a champ. Don’t be bashful about it, either. You can cry any time, any place. I can’t guarantee that you won’t look like a fool when you’re balling your eyes out on the stair-master at the gym, but I can guarantee that you will feel a-helluva-lot better afterward.

If you’re aren’t good at crying on command, don’t worry, I have unsolicited advice on this topic. If I need a good cry, these are my go-tos:

  • Pop in a movie. No, it doesn’t need to be The Notebook, A Walk to Remember or My Girl; however, yes, those usually get the job done. It can be something slightly atypical like Father of the Bride or Rudy (when Rudy finally gets accepted into Notre Dame, I choke up every time. Don’t act like you don’t, too.). Pick your poison.
  • Pair said movie with wine. (No explanation needed).
  • Listen to a sad song (think Butterfly Kisses or Christmas Shoes).
  • Let all of your emotions bottle up, until you inevitably explode. (This probably isn’t healthy, but often times, it works.)
  • Chop onions. (This is a last resort.)

What are you’re go-tos when you need a good cry?

The Best State of Mind

Happiness – it’s a state of mind I post about quite often.

But, it’s critical to overall health. While it’s not possible to be happy all day, every day, it is possible to actively pursue happiness. Plus, it’s infectious – and it’s probably the best thing to be infected with. No?

At the risk of going all Dr. Phil on you, here are a few of my suggestions for being happy.

  1. Count your blessings. Yes, literally. Count them in your head. Jot them in a journal. Email them. Keep an ongoing list. “Write” one thing you are thankful for each day. Look at your collection of blessings when you’re feeling sad.
  2. Choose who you spend your time with wisely. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you want to be pessimistic and sad 24-7, then hang out with a Debbie Downer. If you want to rule the world one day, hang out with people who are ambitious and hardworking. Just don’t hang out with Amanda Bynes. Seriously. Don’t.
  3. Set goals – both small and lofty. Set measurable, realistic goals that are a bit easier to achieve – I call these “confidence boosters” – and then, set “shoot for the stars” goals. Just don’t get complacent. It’s a dangerous state of mind.
  4. Listen to your favorite jams. Download some new tunes, bring Now 5 (classic) out of the storage closet, or YouTube some pump-up songs if you’re too cheap to dole out $1.25 on iTunes (I usually fall into the last category). Then, proceed to listen to said song at a volume that’s slightly less than “deafening,” and either wave your limbs recklessly, or sing at the top of your lungs. If you’re taking the “limb flailing” route and you’re operating a vehicle, make sure said vehicle is either parked, or set your cruise control. Safety first, people. Safety first.
  5. Envision yourself being successful. Believe in yourself. If you’re having trouble garnering confidence, then write out an action plan.
  6. Take a break. It’s okay to be selfish and take an hour or so each day for yourself. And, if this hour involves vegging out on the couch watching a re-run of Full House, that’s okay. <– Nope. Never done that.
  7. Avoid being jealous. Jealousy is kind of like leather pants – few people wear it well (the one exception is uncle Jesse from Full House). Be happy for others. Your time will come, and when it does, they will be happy for you, too.

Question: How do you get happy?

Play-by-Play of Half-Marathon Thoughts

It’s been a while since my last post. I just haven’t really felt motivated to write or creatively inclined, which, in my case, typically leads to lackluster content.

Fortunately (?), today my sister and I ran in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon, which means I finally have some semi-interesting material to work with (please ignore the fact that I ended a sentence with a preposition). And, since my blog originally centered around running/marathon training, finally updating today just makes sense.

On that note, I’ve decided to write up a play-by-play of my sister and I’s combined thought process before and during our run.

6:20 a.m. - My mom graciously drops Kels and I off downtown, about a block away from Paul Brown Stadium, which is very close to the starting line. The race starts in 10 minutes. We’re very, very punctual.

6:25 a.m. - We enter a huge mass of people who are packed like sardines between the stadium and the Cincinnati Bengal’s practice field.

6:27 a.m. - I turn to a random lady standing next to my sister and ask, “Are we in the starting line corral?” She reassures me that we are. Phew! (This probably makes me sound like a moron, but, in my defense…yeah, I’m not gonna bother trying to defend that.)

6:30 a.m. - The gun sounds.

6:49 a.m. - Kels and I cross the starting line.

7:10 a.m. - Hmmm. Maybe the second “sleep-inducing” beer I drank last night at 10:30 p.m. wasn’t the greatest idea.

7:20 a.m. - Kels spies a “hottie” and suggests we follow him. Shortly after, she realized she knew who he was and that he’s four years younger than she. Awkwaaaaard.

7:40 a.m. - We see our mom in the crowd. She doesn’t see us. We start yelling “mom!! MOM!!”

7:41 a.m. - I have an epiphany and realize there are many “moms” in the crowd. I yell her first name and we catch her attention. Success!

7:45 a.m. - We see a man wearing, in my opinion, possibly the most interesting costume ever:

toothbrush

I can only assume he’s a dentist.

7:47 a.m. - I text the photo to an ongoing message chain my family established in mid-February. (I was running fast. Clearly.)

7:49 a.m. - The course goes from “kind of” hilly to “almost completely vertical.” I immediately YouTube Taylor Swift’s “22” and kick myself for not having it on my playlist in the first place.

7:53 a.m. – We’re still running up that d%&* hill. We both drop a few choice words that aren’t exactly PG. Sorry mom.

8:20 a.m. - We spot our uncle Jerry, who we affectionately call “uncle Buck”, in the crowd. He tells us there is Tito’s at the finish line. This gave us the extra push we needed. You can judge us. Just don’t ask.

8:30 a.m. - I genuinely hope no one snaps a photograph of me. I don’t know what I look like – and I’d rather keep it that way.

8:41 a.m. - A large van along the course starts blaring Rihanna’s “We Found Love”. Kels squeals with excitement. On a related note, that was, hands-down, the most enthusiasm I witnessed from her during the entire 13.1 miles.

8:53 a.m. - We’re in the home stretch. Thank God.

8:54 a.m. - I wonder, Why isn’t the finish line getting any closer?

8:55 a.m. - Kels wonders, Why isn’t the finish line getting any closer? Are we on a treadmill? Am I dreaming nightmar’ing? Is this what hell is like? Must.start.praying.the.Rosary.

8:56 a.m. - I suggest we sprint the last tenth of a mile.

8:57 a.m. - I think I’m sprinting. This is likely what I looked like:

phoebe-buffay-o

(only much, much slower)

8:58 a.m. - We cross the finish line. Halle-freaking-lu-jah.

9:03 a.m. - We collect food from every single vendor.

9:04 a.m. - We get our photo taken with a Flying Pig backdrop. Unfortunately, during the photo, we are holding (double-fisting) every single food item we collected from every single vendor.

9:10 a.m. - We’re thankful that we’re finished and chalk the morning up as a win.

Have you run a race lately? Did you experience a similar roller coaster of emotions?

Come On Get Happy

First off, I want to give a shout-out to a very loyal reader of Sarah’s Doodles: Joanne. Joanne, thank you so much for reading! I’m not sure how much my parents are paying you, but I can’t imagine that it’s much. =]

Think Happy, Tweet Happy?
A few weeks ago I read an article referencing a study conducted by the University of Vermont. This study, which analyzed million of geotagged tweets, determined that twitter users express happiness more often when they travel further away from home.

While the study is obviously not 100 percent accurate, with a few exceptions, most people would probably agree that results were hardly Earth-shattering.

Hiking up mountains along the West coast as you injest breath-taking scenery – and non-polluted air? Yep, your happy-o-meter is likely to rise. Lounging on a sun-soaked beach, sipping margaritas, hundreds of miles from home? If you’re not grinning ear-to-ear, then you’re probably related to the grinch – or your luagge got lost on the flight.

Travel is often synonymous with rest and rehabilitation, but unfortunately, vacation days are limited and it’s just not realistic to jet set every other week. However, there are a few other ways to boost your happiness that are less expensive and more convenient.

#1: Re-arrange. Whether it’s re-arranging your bedroom, your office, or your schedule, give it a try for a small-scale pick-me-up. It could create just enough “newness” to give you the stimulant you need. It could be as simple as hanging a photograph, or as extensive as re-decorating a room entirely.

#2: Get “loco”…locally. Your city has tons of restaurants, parks and unique entertainment venues you’ve never tried…you just don’t know it yet. Call your friends, do a simple Google search or eavesdrop next time you’re waiting in line for (decaf) coffee. R&R isn’t always a plane ride away, it’s usually right next door.

#3: Get more face time with your friends. In my not-so-humble opinion, friends are supposed to make you happy. It’s their job. If they aren’t doing that, your parents obviously aren’t paying them enough. First, request negotiate a reasonable raise with your parental unit. Then, after your parental unit enacts said raise, do something, for lack of a better word, “fun” with your friends. Go to a movie, grab dinner at a restaurant with an enjoyable ambiance, or try a paint bar.

#4: Go on a mini trip. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t need to be far. It just needs to be with good company. If that good company if yourself, then so be it. LivingSocial and Groupon often promote deals for inexpensive weekend get-aways. Visit friends or family you haven’t seen in a while. They might even let you crash for free!

What is your favorite way to get happy?

 

8 Ways to Make Your Life Easier

Like most people, I’m always on on the hunt for any opportunity to press the easy button. If something will cut out a car ride, save me a few dollars, or allow me to sleep in for 10 extra minutes, consider me sold. If it will “earn” me a free meal, sign me up.

Now, while, I’m still waiting for someone to invent teleportation, and I’m not rich enough to hire a personal shopper, I did manage to scrounge up a few ways to make your life, arguably, a little easier.

1. The mobile deposit app. This app allows users to deposit checks from virtually any location simply by photographing the front and back of an endorsed check. This, my friends, is the definition of a game changer. I can’t believe it took me almost two years to discover that my bank offers this service.

2. Knowing target’s mark-down schedule. As if I needed another reason to enter Target and impulse purchase approximately 382 items I don’t need, a little Pinterest stalking led me to learn that Target has a mark-down schedule:

  • MONDAY: Kids’ clothing, stationery (office supplies, gift wrap), and electronics.
  • TUESDAY: Women’s clothing and domestics
  • WEDNESDAY: Mens’ clothing, toys, health and beauty
  • THURSDAY: Lingerie, shoes, housewares
  • FRIDAY: cosmetics

*If the price ends in “8,” it will be marked down again. If it ends in a “4,” it’s the lowest it will be. (via Jacqueline Burgess)

3. Using clothing hangers as shoe hangers.

clothing hangers2(source)

4. Following your favorite brands on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribing to their e-newsletters. The benefit? It’s the best way to get the scoop on upcoming deals, promotions and prizes. I’ve gotten free burritos, free (decaf) coffee, and ice cream, thanks to my social media stalking skills.

5. Freezing bananas. Did you know bananas can help fight depression and anemia, lower blood pressure, prevent ulcers, and soothe heartburn? Yeah, me neither – until about five minutes ago. Instead of letting your bananas perish, stick ‘em in the freezer and pull them out the next time you want banana bread or a smoothie.

5. This.

lifehack(source)

6. Keeping non-perishable emergency snacks in your purse or your office. Aim for snacks containing a relatively high amount of protein (trail mix, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanut butter crackers and nut butter).

7. Throwing spare exercise apparel or accessories in your car – if you’re in to that sort of thing. Items may include: gym shoes, a sports bra, socks, ear buds, a water bottle, iPod carrying case, a t-shirt and shorts.

8. Photographing where you parked. I always do this. But, I’m a nerd. I lose my car almost every single time I park in a garage. Let’s just say, I’m incredibly thankful for the panic button. For the past year or so, I’ve been photographing signs near my parking location, as well as any nearby landmarks, and it’s helped minimize anxiety and “panic” attacks immensely.

What would you add to the list? Enlighten me!

11 Ways to Make the Most of Your Weekend

Weekends are just a little more than 48 hours in length, and unfortunately, we spend a substantial chunk of them in an unconscious state. Can you say buzz kill? <– I’ve really been driving that phrase into the ground lately.

Now, even though I wholeheartedly recognize the value of quality sleep, I feel pressured to make the weekend hours I do spend awake, extra enjoyable. While the word “enjoyable” is subjective, here are a few suggestions for making the most of your weekends.

Disclaimer: If you have kids, the following list might not be applicable. Sorry in advance. However, If you are accountable to, basically, just yourself, these tips might be beneficial.

1. If possible, don’t set an alarm clock. While I realize this sounds absolutely hypocritical, I genuinely believe there is a nugget of wisdom behind this notion. Alarm clocks are the work of the devil. Plus, they’re annoying. A loud, unsuspecting, incessant beeping or buzzing noise just isn’t the ideal way to start your day.

2. Do try to hit the hay at a reasonable hour on Friday and Saturday nights, so you naturally wake up early enough to enjoy your morning, with the added bonus of feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day.

3. Stay off Facebook. <– Why am I so bad at this?

4. Do make an effort to get outside and breathe in some fresh air, especially if it’s warm and sunny. Natural vitamin D for the win! Bonus points if you enjoy it by going on a walk, hiking at a local park or drinking a beer outdoors – preferably on a porch or patio, instead of a street, which can lead to open container violations, depending on where you live.

5. On a related note, if you live in a city where you are allowed to drink in the street, then do it! You only live once, unless you’re a cat. In case you were curious, cities that do allow boozing in the street are:

  • Savannah, GA
  • Butte, MT
  • Memphis, TN
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Fredericksburg, TX
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Las Vegas, NV

6. Don’t sit on the couch watching an awful chick flick that’s playing on the Oxygen channel, for obvious reasons. However, if it’s Dirty Dancing or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, go ahead and watch.

7. If you do indulge in an awful awesome chick flick, don’t publicly announce that you’re doing so on social media sites. Lesson learned. Just kidding. Learning from your mistakes is for the birds.

8. Do one chore that you’ve been procrastinating on for days. Then, during the week, take the time you would normally spend grocery shopping, running a few loads of laundry, or (insert name of a monotonous, time-sucking activity here) and grab coffee with a friend, drink a beer on a patio (or in the street if you live in one of the aforementioned cities), go for a long walk, or watch Modern Family.

9. Pick up a that book you’ve been “dying” to read.

10. Take number nine a step further and spend a half-hour actually reading said book.

11.  Once Sunday rolls around, take some time to meditate, think or relax. Get in the zone – the “danger zone,” if you’d like. Clear your head. Relish a state of nothingness. Then, write down a list of goals for the week ahead.

What would you add?

How to Wing a Half-Marathon

People who sign up for road races typically fall into one of two categories: those who train and those who don’t.

I, for better or for worse have fallen into both of these categories. My sister (cough), likely for the worse, currently falls into the latter.

kramer(source)

At my urging, she signed up for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon in early February. Now, two months later, the race is a mere 32 days away. Long story short, she’s starting to sweat – from nerves and anxiety, not from doing any actual, ahem, running.

Instead of starting a last-minute training regimen, she’s decided to take the low road (note: opposite of “the high road”) and asked me to write a blog post about how to wing a half-marathon.

Here’s what I came up with (*Disclaimer: Not all of these apply to my sister):

1. Register for the race early with a promotional discount code. Heck, if you’re not even gonna train for this bad boy, you’re certainly not gonna overpay. You signed up. That’s what really matters (keep repeating this in your head).

2. Purchase a pair of really cute running shoes (bonus points if they’re overpriced). Then, proceed to stare at them for two months. For the record, my sister’s new kicks are adorable. They’re bright purple and don’t have a spec of dirt on them. I can vouch. I saw ‘em last weekend.

3. Download a logical, full-proof training plan. Realize that it does in fact recommend running.

zoey(source)

Cringe. Then, promptly proceed to “lose it.” Or, chuck it out the window. Or, shove it down a shredder. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just get rid of it. My sister didn’t even download a training plan or shred it. She’s pretty much slacking on this whole half-marathon thing from every angle. Kudos, sis!

4. Purchase a cute, new running outfit, you know, so you’re motivated to train, obviously. Wear it everywhere except for a gym, running track or trail, fitness class, etc…

5. Create a Pinterest account with the sole intention of pinning and re-pinning fitness inspiration boards like it’s your job. Bonus points if your Pinterest account automatically populates your Facebook page. Double bonus points if your Pinterest username strikes an eerily similar resemblance to one of the following: 2cute4u, runnergal4lyfe, catchmeifUcan, etc…(you get the picture).

6. Realize that the race is just more than one month away. Feverishly begin googling “how to wing a half-marathon.” Ignore the fact that google prompts, “Did you mean: Ways to win a half-marathon?” Damn you google. Damn you.

Ignore all blogs in which the author “strongly advises against this.” This will leave you with, roughly, two blogs in your favor.

cam(source)

7. Dry your tears. Indulge in a little retail therapy…for more cute running duds, of course.

Question: Have you ever “winged” a race? I have, and it’s a miracle I didn’t get injured.