Things Not Done – A Story of Progress.

I’m pretty good at getting stuff done.  Most of the time?  Sometimes?  I’m also very good at not doing things.

Two days ago I was feeling quite pleased with the things that were done on my project list.  So pleased that I had to make a new project list.  On a separate daily list I wrote down “make new project list.” Which I did get to check off, even though it meant I didn’t actually get any work done on the big project list.

In doing this, I saw I had two years of photos of my giant whiteboard project lists.  I saw how many things I didn’t do, either at all or on the original timeframe.   Normally this makes me desperately despondent.  I’d be crushed under the impossible weight of undone tasks.  Or I might decide that “None of it really matters. It’s hopeless so why even try?”  Then pretend to be content spending the day in bed.

But not this time!  I am defiant in the face of the zillion things still not done!  Gosh dang it all, some things did get done.  There has been progress.

Will and I are starting our own education business!  Our launch party is this January 19th. There will be more announcements and information coming soon.  They’re on the list.

In the meanwhile I thought I’d share the two year story of how we got here with some of the lists of things not done (and some stuff that did).

January 2016, Will and I had both been at our jobs for over 5 years and we were not happy.  Things had not panned out the way we had planned.  We needed to turn the ship around and change course.  I only had the vaguest notion that once upon a time, I had my own program coaching youth and it was awesome.  I wanted to do it again.  Only better.

April 2016
Will got me a giant whiteboard for my birthday.  Nothing says “I love you” like quality office supplies.

At that time I didn’t know what I didn’t know about business.  I was simply trying to find out what there was to learn and do. img_1266-1

May 2016
Nine things on this whiteboard never happened.
Eight of these things did get done, just one whole year after they were scheduled.

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It also got used for other types of planning…
Will and his brother Pete were  sketching mountaineering rope set ups.
My additions were on the right 😉

June, July, August 2016
None of those six projects got done during those months.
None of those ten business names stuck.
None of the six mission statements stuck.
I did make the last three payments from my ER visit from 2015.
All five of the value words have stuck.
One out of eight taglines stuck.

September, October, November, December 2016
There is no picture of what projects were on the board, but I can be pretty certain they didn’t happen either.  Instead, I dumped all my energy and time into applying for Bush Fellowship, which I didn’t get.
The whiteboard photo was a sketch of a full day youth workshop.
This project also did not get done.  Although it is not forgotten and it will be coming back to the board in February 2018!

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January 2017
Something got done!  We have a name.  Zest Ed.  Like phys ed, community ed, special ed… it’s our own brand of  education.   It will revolve around our personal love of athletics and wilderness travel.  As well as our values we came up with in June of craftsmanship, mindfulness, synergy, grit, and play.
We still don’t have a logo.

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February, March, April, May, June 2017
I turned 35 and felt like I’d been stuck spinning my wheels in adulthood for the last 10 years.  Things not done:

  • Having adult professional careers.
  • Having real savings, retirement, or health care.
  • Owning our own home.
  • Starting a family.

I sketched adult athletic education workshops.  We made that happen twice.
I searched for and applied for jobs.  That didn’t work out.
I did go to the intro series of classes at Women Venture.

July, August, September, 2017
Sixteen things still not done. But screw it because, OMG thirteen things did get done! Four more were in progress.  Oh, and I graduated from the Women Venture class.

October, November, December 2017
Fourteen things still not done.  But I was giddy with the ten things that did get done and the four more in progress.
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January 2018!
A fresh new board.   A new chance to not get things done, and in that process get shit done.

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Lemon Pepper Pasta

How to write a heartfelt announcement – Step one: Don’t.
Decide to post another “recipe” again.

Step two:  Procrastinate.
Spend two hours reading.  Then spend two hours on flexibility training (aka rolling around on the floor listening to podcasts).  Then spend another couple hours cleaning.  Clean even the things that I’ve procrastinated cleaning (the microwave, the sink drain etc) All good things to do right?
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Succumbing to writing another food post is just another reminder that I haven’t written the things I’ve been meaning to write.  Even the fun things about my athletic training haven’t been written.  I blame my overloaded phone which is unable to take any new video of my handstand or dance progress.   That would at least be easer to write about than my career updates.  Which should be super fun to write about but instead is just paralyzing.

So now that I have procrastinated and rationalized, have another food post.

Lemon Pepper Pasta
It was totally delicious, fresh, and exactly what was needed in the midst of cream and sugar and holiday indulgences.
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Broccoli Pesto

It’s that time of year again.  When it’s dark a lot.  Which means unless I go to great effort my food pictures look terrible.  So I present a bit of summer in the winter.  I made this in the bright heat of summer but it’s a great winter meal.  A summery pasta dish made with easy winter vegetables.

Broccoli pesto with roasted cauliflower and little sausages.
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Identities – Part Two

I am half Chinese and half Danish/Scandinavian.   Most of my life I have considered myself to be just 100% Minnesotan.  It was easier to focus on the white part of my heritage and to be “colorblind” even to myself.  Then thirteen months ago it finally hit me  that I was a Woman of Color.

In the last year I have felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

After over a decade of personal bike journey I’m also claiming the identity of Biker.  My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

As a biker I can be doing nothing wrong.  I can be doing everything right.  Yet I must constantly be on alert for my safety.  Sometimes it’s people who actively don’t want bikers in their way.  More often it’s just because I’m invisible to them.  And then there are times when well meaning people end up putting me more at risk.  This is a problem on both an individual and systemic level.

A driver can do the entirely wrong thing, nearly kill me, and then be so angry at me as if I should apologize.  First they threatened me with their car.  Then I’m threatened by their anger.  Sometimes it’s because they actually hate bikers or are just hateful in general.  More often it’s because they were startled-scared and their reaction was self-righteous defense.

I’m not going to stop biking on streets.  But it would be nice to feel safer.  It might never be 100% safe (nothing is) but it would be nice to feel more secure in my right to the space.  It would be nice if the system didn’t feel set up against me (and it’s so much bigger than bike lanes).

Everyone has an opinion.   Not all bikers have the same experiences or are the same kind of biker.  Many people never or rarely bike and defend car-centric rights and use of space.  Many bikers want different things to make their experiences better.  But all the bikers I’ve met can be thankful to live here because it could be worse and believe it could be better.

Now read this again.  Replace biker with Person of Color and driver or car with white privilege.   I think this is what many have been saying about their experience as a Person of Color.

Maybe there is part of your identity that might help you better see the experience of others.  This was mine.

(Identities Part One is where I discovered that I’m Asian) 

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Identities – Part One

In this last year there are two identities that I’ve learned to claim.   Biker, and Woman of Color.

I don’t just bike.  I am a Biker.  It doesn’t matter what kind of bike, or how fast I am, or how far I bike.  Just as you don’t have to have done a marathon to be a Runner.  You don’t have to have art in a museum to be an Artist.  You don’t have to ovulate to be a Woman.  I can claim the identity of a Biker just because it’s one of the many things that I am.

I have been aware of my journey as a Biker far longer than I’ve been aware of myself as a POC (Person of Color).  I knew to check the “Asian” box, but it didn’t mean anything to me.  I think I didn’t want it to.  If given the option, I’d check both the “White” and “Asian” boxes because I wanted to feel more white.   It felt easier, less confusing, more comfortable.

Thirteen months ago I had an epiphany.   For the zillionth time in my life I had been referred to as a “Person of Color” and for the first time in my 34 years my brain said:

“HOLY SHIT.  That means ME.”  I saw this cartoon lightbulb pop up over me.
“I AM A WOMAN OF COLOR.  fuck.  this is news to me.  I HAD NO IDEA.”

Weird right?  I told my husband.
He said “I know.”
In my head “You knew?”  How did you know?  Who told you?”

I’ve been telling friends as if I’m coming out of the gay closet and the response I get is,
“Yeah.  I knew.  Of course you’re Asian.”
“Well I didn’t know.”

I still had to figure out what to do with this information.

In my heart I felt that because I didn’t have a “black” experience or hadn’t felt deeply oppressed or that I felt privileged that I wasn’t POC enough.

It took time, and conversations, and education.   I came to understand that I can have both negative and positive experiences associated with my mixed race.  I came to understand that there is both pride and shame in the history of every culture.  No individual or culture is 100% perfect or evil.  There have always been angels amidst atrocities.  Perpetrators of atrocities usually love someone or something.

And so I do not have to feel 100% about anything.  I can have felt the effect of bias or racism for myself or ancestors and still own my privilege.  I do not have to be full of pride or full of shame.  Discovering the injustices done to Asian Americans doesn’t have to compare to the injustices done to anyone else.  It is not a competition.  Owning the terrible things done by my white heritage doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Scandinavian or American traditions.

I’ve felt the tide of racial tensions rising in this country.  I realize now that I’ve had opinions and reactions that were biased, selfish, or simply ignorant.

My experience as a bike commuter is helping me see the experience of others.

Next week, Identities – Part Two

 

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Corn Curry Chicken Wild Rice Stew

I made a curry thing that doesn’t look like barf! It’s all due to Will’s fancy new camera. I’m sure in bad lighting it could still look unappetizing.  Let’s not dare it to.

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Will and I are about to celebrate five years of marriage and our epic 250 miles of paddle and portage honeymoon adventure with far too little time in the BWCA.

In the meanwhile I leave you with this wonderfully autumn “recipe” in which everything is a guess and you should make it your own. Continue reading

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Traditions, Triathlons, and Homes

Traditions are nice.  They are comforting when life feels chaotic.  It’s reassuring to repeat things.  Traditions are a reminder of what we feel is valuable to set aside time for.  The holidays are nice, but I’m really liking the athletic traditions I’ve been creating.

Velocikitty Snuggles celebrated our one year anniversary at the Square Lake Triathlon.  Which makes it a tradition now.  A really silly goofy wonderful tradition.

We had gotten way more into it last year. We had t-shirts, tattoos, special toenails… Dinosaur everything!

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This year we’ve both been been focused on different life projects.  We’d hardly seen each other all summer.  But we still painted our toes, and we had our dinosaur transition towels, and we passed ‘lil T (the squishy green guy) as our relay baton.

We got one pre-race selfie (pictured right) with ‘lil T and Rexy Roo (the plush dino backpack).

Despite minimal training, we did very well.  img_2962We placed 1st in our all women relay division and second among all relays.  I was surprised and pleased with my swim and run paces.

Traditions can also be a reminder of where we come from.   Swimming and running are deeply a part of my past.  Even when I’ve neglected them they feel like home.  Swimming and running welcome me back so easily.

While I’ve been trying new hard things (like flexibility and dance) and trying not to get frustrated with what feels like impossibly slow progress (I still can’t balance in a handstand) This race was a reminder of the depth of my roots in swimming and running.  People might be so frustrated at seemingly how easily I might run or swim with such minimal training.  But it comes from decades of experience.  It comes from years of dedication and effort and progress.

I have to remember I am an infant in the world of gymnastic and dance movement.  When I see images and videos of people who do amazing, mind-blowing, gorgeous feats of strength-flexility-control, I have to remember that we come from different athletic homes.  I am welcome in this new home, but it will feel awkward and foreign and that’s ok.  I do not have to be “good” at something for it to be valuable and meaningful to me.

Still, it’s nice to come home.  It’s nice to repeat traditions I know so well.  It’s nice to be in a community I feel so comfortable with.  I don’t have to look around wondering if I’m doing the right thing or in the right place.  It’s nice to feel effortlessly competent.   It gives me the strength and confidence to keep pursuing the new hard things.

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2017 Square Lake Triathlon 

So much love to all my athletic families.

As I wrote this I couldn’t help but think of the experiences of immigrants, of marginalized people, and anyone who feels they don’t belong.  I hope we can all reflect on personal experiences that might give us insight into the experiences that are not our own.  

 

 

 

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