Thursday, May 13, 2021

Spring Has Sprung in KC (Finally!)

 Happy Spring everyone! 

Kansas City in the Spring! OH, how I love you! (Source)

It's the middle of May, and the temperatures are finally climbing into the 50's - 70's, something that makes me smile when I wake up with the sun pouring through the blinds and the birds singing outside. It's been a long, bitterly cold winter, but I've been able to be back on my bike for about a month and a half now, give or take. Making it though a winter here really makes me appreciate how amazing the good weather in the late Spring, Summer, and Fall really are! 

Kansas City, 2019 (Source)

I'm excited to analyze my training and set new goals- goals that now include being outside! Of all the goals I set for myself, the goal to write more hasn't really happened, nor has upping my running mileage. To be honest, after Connor passed last Spring I've had very little motivation to do either. It's been difficult coming to terms with what happened, and I've realized that I can't push myself to feel a certain way in a self-prescribed time frame. I'm just going to have to feel what I feel, and work things out in my own time. Connor was such a good person, a good influence, and made such a positive impact on my life that I'll always carry his memory and the things he taught me along, however, I can't help but think how much he would have liked to see 2021, and I wish harder than anything that something could have changed his mind. I miss my friend. If you or someone you know is battling depression or having a tough time, it's OK to not be okay, and it's OK to talk about it. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You're not alone. Please talk to someone. 

During the winter several things did happen. In January, just to get out of the house, my boyfriend and I donned our masks and went to Whiskers Cat Café, like we do every now and then, to play with the kitties. I fell in love with one in particular, a little 5 month old, white with faint cream polka-dots, blue eyed kitty with a chocolate tail and masked face (I later learned that he is a Snowshoe). They were having trouble finding a home for him and his best friend, a 1 year old, green-eyed tuxedo (Tina Belcher, aptly named) who was terrified and never came out of the back room. They had been surrendered from a multi-pet home in Missouri to the Joplin Humane Society, where they remained for months, until they were transferred to Whiskers. Everyone was interested in the tiny kittens, so no one wanted them. They mentioned that the Snowshoe (Yoshi) never goes up to anyone, and he held eye contact and went straight up to me. We went home, tossed it around, and decided to go for it! We outfitted the house with a cat tree, toys, and the usual necessities, and two weeks later they were ours. I'm a firm believer that pets pick their owners, and rescuing seemed to us like the better choice. While this seemed like something out of the blue, getting a cat was something we were planning on, just not for a year or two. They've been with us 5 months now and they are the most loving, kind cats. 

Meet Tina Belcher. And yes, they have their own custom couch. 😂

This is Yoshi (and he will tell you- he LOVES to chat!)

The second thing that happened is that we started in on a fun, custom made cruiser. I don't race cruiser right now, and don't really have a strong plan to, since traveling with one bike is SO much easier, but this bike will be ridden anywhere and everywhere around here! You never know though, a race or two may be in its' future, lol! It's a long term project, and has just been sent to paint. I'm so excited to see it all together, but it may be a few more months until it is. Patience is definitely key, since I'm inwardly jumping up and down at the prospect of riding it. 

Speaking of riding and BMX, this is now my second year of assisting a local track with social media. Throughout the winter I came up with several campaigns, which included reaching out to different BMX racing professionals throughout the U.S., as well as to local racers, gathering information, photos, required sponsor tags, etc., and creating unique, interesting posts with the help of my friend and fellow board member, Mike, for some cool graphics. This helped us increase traffic and engagement throughout the winter months when the track was closed, but it also provided racing and training tips and featured local riders to the BMX community. I had a blast doing it! Our metrics are up, our page is interesting, and overall it's been a good experience. The challenging aspect to my being asked to volunteer with social media actually came in the form of the newest board member. He doesn't see the value in it, and constantly disparages me and my hard work. Despite his ongoing unsolicited efforts and digs, I try my hardest to be pleasant and professional when I need to interact with him. After all, he may be going through his own battles and just doesn't know any better. In my experience, people who react negatively toward others for no reason are looking for ways to feel better about themselves, so it's really about them. They typically aren't very happy either, so I have a certain amount of empathy for him. I am glad that the riders and the members in charge love it, and it makes me happy that I can help the track out! 😀

Raytown BMX (Source)

Now, let's talk (a little) more about goals. 

Circling back up to earlier, one more goal I have is to cut out eating so much junk food and eat healthier. This is a goal that is ongoing, and requires multiple trips back onto the wagon. I can't help it, I love Skittles! Well, my friend Trisha is amazing- she lifts weights like a beast, mountain bikes all over in Texas, and has a clean diet to boot! She basically rocks. Recently, after I asked her a little about her lifting and diet, she suggested an app called My Fitness Pal, which is free to download. You can give it your goals, input what you eat (no lying, lol), as well as your activities, and it will help keep you on track. I can't wait to try it out, so thank you so much Trisha!! 

Check out My Fitness Pal if you need a little extra help with keeping track of your diet!

I am going to give this healthy diet goal a good effort. I can't promise that I won't eat a cheat meal now and then, but I plan to pick right on up and keep trying. After all, by July it should be warm enough here to go for a swim, and eating healthy will help me feel more confident when I need to wear a swimsuit. Not to mention, it's just a good thing all around. I hope everyone is having an awesome Spring so far. 

Repeat after me, everything doesn't need to be perfect for something to still be enjoyed. 

Until next time! 👋😎

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Living in the Arctic Tundra That KC Has Become

Happy Hump Day guys!!! 

I have my puffy coat, my USABMX beanie, and being from Texas, sometimes snow is pretty cool. I'll never admit it though.

It's been awhile since I've written anything, and one of my goals in 2021 is to write more here. For a while, it's been tough to write. Some events in the past year took away my drive and excitement, and for a while I didn't want to write about anything. In fact, I think I preferred, like a lot of people, to not have to look back on last year at all. Good things did happen though, and little by little I've begun coming to terms with the negatives. Even though Covid and the resulting issues slowed my travels down to pretty much only BMX racing, I've had a blast with it and have been making my own fun at home (hello, ice-dying!). We also adopted two kitties from the shelter, and they're so much fun to play with and be around! 

Meet Yoshi, our little polka dot Snowshoe kitty.

Yoshi and Tina (Belcher).
They are a bonded pair and are related (we think big sis little bro).
Adopting instead of shopping was the best decision! (Nothing against the other, though.)

I have mixed feelings about leaving 2020, because that means leaving some friends behind. They'll never experience 2021, and that gets to me. I think about it on the treadmill a lot; it's a tough thought to get  through, and an even tougher one to cement in writing. No matter what though, I try hard to do things that would make them proud, so in effect, maybe I am carrying a part of them into 2021 with me. I miss you everyday, Conor.

As always, winter in the beautiful Midwest is the usual mess of frozen tundra most days, this time including Oklahoma and Texas, which has been mind-blowing. Wearing two pairs of tights, including all the other needed layers, only to go outside and feel your face tighten, then lose all feeling, isn't something I like. In fact, I've always disliked it enough to get in the car and head to the gym for my off-season workouts. I used to fight it, but you know what? I'm OK with it. Having a treadmill this year has helped with my motivation levels, and I've been running nearly everyday on it, taking classes and running virtual races. I feel stronger, not to mention happy that I can look at the beautiful snow while not floundering around in it.


What my kitty tries to do and why we have to put him upstairs when it's treadmill time, lol! 

Speaking of the cold, we were all set to go to the Sooner Nationals last weekend, but ended up cancelling when the temperatures dropped so low I felt uncomfortable getting there (close to 0), and I am SO glad I did. I will also mention that due to the cold, I felt there was no way to socially distance like we normally try to do, and after seeing photos of the area and stands, only about half the people were even wearing a mask. There are plenty of warmer nationals coming up, so this girl is going to wait it out! Good riding to friends and teammates who went. I’m so proud of your hard racing!

As for KC, I've got my fingers crossed that we get some not freezing temps soon, and I can't wait for Spring. Until then, I'll be getting ready. 


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Being Your Own Best Advocate

 2020 is now nearing an end, and I'm pretty sure most of us are happy to see it go. After losing several friends, including a very close one, I found myself unable to do much of anything for a while, including writing. I needed to use that time to process everything (still processing in fact), regroup, and start over. I also had to learn to set boundaries with others, and focus on myself. I've always been avoidant on self focus; in my mind I tied that up with narcissism, which is the very opposite of how I want to run my life. I've known my share of narcissists, and once I figured it out I couldn't run away fast enough. However, when I took the time to understand the importance of self-advocacy and care, I no longer lumped it in with narcissism, and began to think of it as laying a healthy foundation for improvement. After all, can't we help others more when we, ourselves, have a healthy foundation/boundaries/outlook? 


I had a conversation with a friend a while back, and she gave me the best advice. She told me that you have to be your own best advocate, in sports, in your career, and in life in general. "No one will be a better advocate for yourself than you.", she told me. The first time I began to fully practice self-advocacy was almost two years ago, when I began a lengthy job search out-of-state. In short, I had to sell myself. I had to believe that what I brought to the table was worthy, and I had to not be shy in asking for what I felt I deserved (NOT to be mistaken for arrogance or cockiness). In the end, that advocacy and confidence paid off. 

While I haven't been face to face with it in sports, I recognize it as something that eventually has to be done. Self-advocacy includes being true to yourself. Do you know what you're looking for in a team? They're all very different. Don't be shy in saying no and waiting for the right fit. Do you want to represent or use a certain brand? Find a team that allows this, or kindly pass. Do you want a smaller or a larger team? Do you want a forced "family" type feel, or are you happier with more space and individuality? Keep true to that, and if, along the way, you learn that something isn't for you, learn from it and look for something different next season. Self-advocacy starts with understanding your own wants and needs, and how you can best help others. When I started back with BMX, I had no idea what I was looking for, team support included. As I progress, I learn more and more about what I ultimately want, and will be pursuing that as well. 


Years back, a man once told me, "I wanted to go to college, but someone told me I wouldn't be good at it, so I didn't go." During our discussion I told him that I never let anyone dictate what I can and can't do with my life, and I've heard it all. He looked surprised, like this was something he hadn't thought of. He never once thought to question that or push on with his goals. He let someone else dictate his life and regretted it years later. You know yourself better than anyone else, so why would you listen to anyone tell you what you and and can't do? Go for what you want. You don't have the experience? Find a way to get it. Consider the source of any advice and decide for yourself weather to take it or not. 

Being your own advocate definitely isn't the easiest thing to accomplish, but since the returns on it are in your own best interest, it's a worthy goal. If you're afraid to ask for what you want, you'll never get it. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Trick or Treat! A.K.A., I’ll Just Buy Myself Some Skittles

 Who else is excited for Halloween!!?? 🎃 Because THIS girl is! 😎 I don't have plans for this day, really I'm just super excited to pull on my favorite (uh..and only!) llama onesie (complete with llama face on the hood) and hang around the house (and maybe the car wash) in it all day! Aside from being a LITTLE stir-crazy with this cold spell we're having (a.k.a. winter), getting to wear a llama onesie and possibly eat some skittles seems like an OK day, that and I stopped dressing up as "sexy" everything after college. Let's see, in college I was a sexy maid, sexy sailor, sexy Belle (from Beauty and the Beast), and sexy Dutch girl, to name a few. I also had frat parties, house parties, and clubs to go to all the time. Those were fun, but for one, it's way too cold for that here, and two, onesies are WAY more comfortable. Plus, if you're not going to a party, what's the point of hanging around in a sexy anything costume? No, thank you. The llama costume is definitely pretty awesome though, and I like it a lot. Here's the llama onesie in all its glory from last Halloween. Yes, I am a costume repeat offender, lol. 

The second-annual no drama llama Halloween.

Sailor costume at a sorority/fraternity Halloween party.

If you ain’t first...

I don't think I'll ever get used to the Midwest winters, especially since I love going outside year round, but I AM learning how to effectively layer, and that has been a life saver many times over here. Growing up in Houston meant that layering consisted of a hoodie over a long sleeved t shirt, so there was a lot to learn. 

Being stuck in the house means that it is always super clean, the dishes are always washed and the laundry is always done, so huge benefit there. I also really love our house, so keeping it clean rarely feels like a chore. Recently, my mom got in a cleaning mood as well, and she told me to expect a pod delivered to our driveway with some of my stuff I didn't have room for in my move. I'm a bit nervous since we have to find room in the house to put said stuff, and we just got everything how we like it, including the gym. Unnecessary clutter is something I despise more than sour cream, so putting everything away might take a while. I am excited to pull out my custom made birthday dress though, a silver sequined tube top dress with a pink tutu bottom to it. It’s buried in a box of old clothes somewhere. What can I say? I know how to ring in a birthday with style. 💅🎈🎉

January’s in Houston were (and still are) unpredictable. Sometimes you can go out to celebrate and it’s 80 degrees.

Today's my day off- training, not work- and while I should probably learn to embrace a day off here or there, it drives me crazy. When I get to program in a virtual run on the treadmill or do a class on the bike or with weights upstairs, it wears me out and gets me out of my head. 2020, combined with this newly colder weather, has made me feel more stir crazy than ever before, and I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark when I say that many of you probably feel the same way. 

Today's outfit...well, not the whole outfit, just the best part of it (jeans are boring).

Working out aside, I've been reading a lot more, and have discovered some really good books. My taste in literature is all over the place, so poetry by Pablo Neruda might come right before Glamorama, or vice versa. It's been fun. Currently I'm reading How to Murder Your Life, an autobiography by ex-Conde Nast beauty editor Cat Marnell. Cat isn't the most likeable woman in this book, and while the thought of being friends with her (non sober) in real life would have me running for the hills, I love how candid and unapologetic she is regarding her addiction to drugs and alcohol, starting in high school and remaining like that for years to come. If you're looking for an interesting read, this is definitely one. A Man Called Ove surprised me as well, but that was a hard one to read since it deals with thoughts of suicide, and my year has been affected by that pretty strongly already. The book was so good though, that I read it all the way to the end and would give this one two big thumbs up! 


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

It's Fall, Ya'll!

It's officially fall. Time for pumpkin carving, pumpkin seed roasting, sunflower-field visiting, spraying the house with whatever pumpkin-something scented room spray I have left, throwing up the three pieces of orange-ish decor I own, justifying eating pie and digging out all those cute jackets and long sleeves that have been patiently waiting in their cubby holes since last year. Fall also means it's only 2 months until Grands, the biggest BMX national of the year, and continuing to train hard. I'm super excited for this season, because that means that 2020 is coming to a close, and it also means that I get to see how all my hard work will end up coming together. I'm also excited to continue my 2021 race year with the SSquared National team!

I miss the Texas bluebonnet fields, but fields full of sunflowers work just fine. 😀🌻

My last BMX national before the Grands is coming up this weekend in Omaha, NE. I raced this Monday at Raytown, banging bars and falling in the rhythm section in the 1st round, but qualifying out in the second round and getting 3rd in the main. I also went to my usual practice at Blue Springs on Tuesday, but my normally chill practice was packed with riders, most likely also getting ready for Omaha. It was good, but I'll take my much less packed practice any day with the Tuesday regulars, and it should go back to that hopefully soon! 

Practice a few weeks ago at Blue Springs BMX.

Our annual meeting is coming up (virtually this year), so fall is also the busiest time of the year work-wise. Last year's meeting was in NYC, and even with all the long days, it was a blast! Meeting prep and execution is always hard work, but with this year being virtual, a lot of new challenges come to the fore. I enjoy challenges; they give me new experiences and new tools to work with next time, including new stress-management techniques! 

Last year in NYC for work. They were just starting to get the big Christmas tree ready to go up.

Times Square didn't disappoint. 

A little window shopping at Kate Spade. I love her quirky stuff!

Yuan and I checking out some of the city after work.

Speaking of stress, running almost daily has helped A LOT with that; it allows me to get out of my head for 30 mins. to an hour each day, and allows me to think through anything bothering me. More times than not, I can come up with a new idea, etc. by the end of the run. Running has been a passion of mine for over 5 years now, and despite having had a toxic, overly-competitive person in my life that almost took away my love for it, I'm glad to say that I was able to get that love back for this sport, and plan to continue enjoying it for the long-haul. Never let anyone take away the love you have for something. Especially if you were doing it first. Like Wayne and Garth would say, "Ssshhhaaa!".

I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to be spending some much needed time outside, enjoying that amazing 80's, sunny weather! Time to get outside after work and take my tired butt for a walk. Happy hump-day guys! 😀

Even the sunflowers at Grinter's Farm are cool. 😎🌻

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Changing Teams...Sort Of, and Learning to Jump!

 Well, here it is, already October. I'm not sure quite how we got here, since 2020 has seemed long, daunting and very draining at times. I'm not saying that nothing good has happened, but after losing 3 friends and having members of my family catch the Coronavirus, all thanks to an (ex)employee who refused to stay home when he was sick with it...let's just say it's been a long year. Good things have happened though, and even with all the division going on, I have seen people coming together in the most remarkable ways, and it has made my heavy heart happy. 

Visiting Grinter Farms a few weekends back.
That was SO much fun! #localadventure

I've been running up a (lower mileage) storm on our treadmill very consistently, and the virtual routes and classes have made running on it so much fun! I actually WANT to run on a treadmill, and that would have NOT been me a few years ago. I'm also feeing more confident on hills and changing terrain, which is pretty cool. I also got moved up by my team, SSquared, from the Missouri team to the National team, and I'm so thankful and excited for the opportunity! SSquared has been really great to us, and has made me feel at home here. 
Ignore the under-eye bags, I woke up way too early, but I am SUPER excited about my new jersey!

Gotta keep at it. Practicing at Raytown BMX, photo by Camden's Photography

I have also set my sights on feeling more comfortable in the air when I'm on my bike, so have been working on jumping a few small tabletops lately. Some of the guys at the track have really helped me out with tips and tricks, and for that I can't thank them enough! 

Between running, riding and a work schedule that is filling as I write, Yuan and I have been making time to have a date night here and there, as well as some local social distancing adventures. Last Friday I was so tired, and I took the day off from racing. We ended up venturing downtown, through the Power and Light district and into the BRGR Bar for a date night. That area was where the action was that night; right when we were leaving and turning the corner a BLM protest turned left and headed down the street we came from. 

Yuan and our awesome date night. 💕
Hanging out at Power and Light before eating...

Gotta love a restaurant with a view! 

Some downtown sights

On the work front I'm happy to say that I've been LOVING my job lately, and I'm learning so much doing the work that I do (marketing & communications). Since my chosen career path can include a very broad scope of choices, deciding on a career trajectory has been a bit of a hit and miss sometimes, but all that hard work has ultimately has led me to something I truly love. Working from home has also become my preference, and having several large windows next to my work-space to open during the day doesn't hurt either, lol! I work more when I'm at home, but am totally fine with that when I can eat a home cooked meal for lunch everyday! Or a snowcone. Later gators! 

#treatyoself. I never get tired of Parks & Rec sayings....😋😀

Thursday, September 3, 2020

HOW is Summer Almost Over!?

 Summer is coming to a close in what is officially the longest year on record for so many, and I'm getting a little sad about it. It may have to do with the fact that I abhor winter and love the sand and sun, but to a point it feels like I'm officially leaving behind those I've lost this year. I will forever miss and cherish all of the conversations with Conor, and wish he was still with us, and missing Brent Sterriker, too. I hope Brent knows the oil slick wheels he built those few years ago STILL get me stopped around the track by riders asking who built them. The last time this happened was a week ago! Striker Wheels forever, friend. ✌ Despite the heaviness, I'm trying my hardest to enjoy every bit of what's left by being as active as I can and making the time to connect with friends and loved ones. Obviously I can't contact everyone all the time, but since contact/communication is a two way street and we're all busy, I'm happy to cut myself some slack there. One thing we've been missing this summer has been access to a pool or a beach and snow cones. We decided to fix one of those things recently by getting a snow cone machine, lol! It arrived yesterday and was making delicious, sugar-free snow cones immediately! 😀 (I think we'll be adding a bit of sugar next time though!) Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting on the patio, soaking up the sun and enjoying some snowy fluffy sugary ice. 

I have also officially begun to build my mileage back up, and couldn't be happier about that! I'm taking it slowly and being smart about things (a.k.a. not building up too fast), but with 4 miles on the treadmill yesterday and a virtual Houston 5k today with my friends back home, I'm well on my way to long distance happiness. I don't have any race in mind yet, but it will be nice for now just to get back in half marathon shape, and weight! 🙈😬 Having this treadmill has been fun - actually a LOT more fun than a treadmill should ever be. It came with a free year of iFit, and we have been using it nonstop lately. iFit has trainer run workouts, and you have the option of allowing the trainer to control your speed and incline/decline on the machine or setting your own speed and incline/decline while following the class. You can also draw a running map anywhere in the world, (not sure about North Korea yet though) and you can run and watch a Google Maps street view go by. On these you set your own speed but the incline/decline will follow the map. The iFit program makes the miles zoom by, and it's also been so much fun trying out new routes. 

I bet you've never run the Golden Gate Bridge into oncoming traffic before lol! Still trying to get the hang of route-mapping. 

Oddly enough, when I ran this route in real life, there was still water in this exact area.

Despite so much loss this year, there have been some positive things as well. I went into 2020 with one bike, and thanks to a surplus of extra parts and finding a bad ass powder-coater/bike restorer in the area (thanks Groody Bros.!), I will be leaving 2020 with two bikes! I also managed to earn NINE national wins this year, and I'm very proud of that accomplishment. 

My 1st trip to South Dakota and I got to pick up three "firsts"!

On a different note, and something I've been thinking about lately...

A while back, I was in the process of re-writing my resume for the millionth time in preparation for a job search out of state, and I was complaining to a good friend of mine after our run about how I didn't get any help and no one seemed to care. I was feeling a bit hopeless and had begun feeling sorry for myself. She looked me dead in the eye and gave me some of the best advice I've gotten to this day. "No one will hand you anything, and they don't have time to care because they're too busy worrying about themselves. If you want something, YOU do the work and get yourself there." I'm forever thankful for her advice to this day, and I put it into practice any chance I got (starting with educating myself on resume writing and interviewing techniques). That advice is true, honest, and something I live by to this day, in many aspects of my life. 

It's okay to ask for help, but be open to taking advice and know that if someone takes time out of their busy day to help you, be thankful, ready to work, and don't waste their time. I once had an ex co-worker who needed resume help, and I offered to help her. I very quickly realized that she was fully expecting me to do it for her, and didn't want to expend the time to even try to lay it out (or spell check, for that matter); that's when I very smartly peaced-out. If you're waiting for anyone to hand you anything without YOU putting in the hard work to get there, you'll be waiting a loooong time. Anyways, thank you again for the advice *Tiff! 

*Tiffany's awesome. Everyone needs a friend like Tiffany. 👍 Catch you guys (or YA'LL in Texas-talk) later. 💖

How some of 2020 is making me (and I'm guessing you guys, too) feel lately. Just throw in a talking caterpillar and a Cheshire cat!