You Can Color Me Rad Anytime You Want

Do y'all remember back in March when I made a grand proclamation about running a 5k? I was excited, I was motivated, and I had a plan. 

I didn't stick to my plan at all, however. I trained a grand total of 8 times between March 20th, 2013 and July 6th, 2013, and the week leading up the race I was nervous as hell. I went so far as carb-loading the night before, until it was kindly pointed out to me that its entirely unnecessary for one person to consume that much pasta for a 5K. In reflection, it really did give me a ton of energy for my 8:40am start time--although that could have been a combination of nerves and the Red Bulls they were giving me too. 

I'm about as competitive as it gets, which sounds like a good thing. Problem is, I'm competitive with myself more than anyone else. There is always this little voice in my head that's telling me that I can't do something, that it's too hard, that I should just quit. But then this bigger voice takes over, and it shouts at me in an angry voice that I have to keep going. I have to finish. I can't give up. 

I thought that voice was going to kill me. Every time I would stop to walk, that voice would berate me over and over again. I would walk just long enough to stop the lung-crushing pain in my chest, and then I'd be off again. By the finish line, I was more trotting than running. 

I finished my first 5K in just under 40 minutes--almost 6 minutes longer than some of my pals that actually run. But it was exhilarating to know that I finished, that I ran my heart out, and that I had a ton of fun doing something that I used to loathe. 

Before I left the starting line, the crazy guy with the megaphone told all of us first time runners that the Color Me Rad is a gateway drug, and that we'd be hooked. 

Yup. 



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"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham


I have tried using the Couch to 5k plan a couple of times before, and I always failed miserably, so you might be surprised to find out that just over two weeks ago a few of my friends and I signed up to run the Color Me Rad 5k in Edmonton in July {on my birthday!}. 

I have never run a 5k. I have never been able to run for longer than a few minutes without feeling as if my lungs were going to explode. Also? I have always hated running. Based on this information, it would seem that my decision was rash and not entirely well thought-out. That reaction is probably about 75% true, so I'm not offended if you thought it. 

I have a plan, however, and it mostly revolves around the concepts of "trying hard", "not giving up", and "publishing my progress so that the shame of telling the world that I failed propels me to succeed". I'm using MyFitnessPal to track my daily activity as well as what I am eating, and I'm planning on blogging about my progress too--sorry in advance if you do not find this remotely interesting!  

So far, I am running in 2 minute increments with only 1 minute of walking and I can get almost all of the way through the P90X YogaX workout. I started off my running a little bit too ambitious, so I had to take the weekend off to recover--conveniently, this is when I was introduced to MFP, so don't judge me if you look at my log and don't find any running on there--but my calves are back to normal and I'm planning on starting again tonight. 

So far, I feel like I am succeeding. July 6th is coming up awfully fast, though. 

Have you ever trained for a race? Do you have any tips for a newbie? 


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sometimes I stamp my feet in a jealous rage

Image via LucyArg on weheartit.com 

Travel envy is a total bummer to have. Out of all of the different online envies that you can develop, for me travel envy is the absolute worst. I don't get blog envy, and rarely do I experience fashion or design envy. But travel envy...she is a cruel mistress. I want to be excited for people when they get to go on weekend getaways to fantastic places, but mostly I just get grumpy. 

Canada is a difficult country to travel in. There are so many amazing places to visit, but it's just so expensive.    The country is absolutely massive, so to get anywhere outside of 'weekend road trip' range you have to fly, but Canada doesn't have any low-cost airlines. Heck even Peru has three separate low-cost carriers operating domestic flights, but Canada has yet to jump on that bandwagon. A return ticket from Edmonton to Vancouver (a little over an hours' flight time) is usually $500; yet you can fly the same distance from London to Amsterdam for £65 all in--roughly $100 Canadian. 

So when I read about people dashing off to Paris or Rome or Hobart or the Whitsundays for a relaxing weekend away--and on a very modest budget, no less--I get a little grumpy. And more than just a little envious. It's something that I'm working on because obviously it is entirely ridiculous for something so small to turn me into a scowling child, however it doesn't change the fact that I come down with a nasty case of travel envy.

This is incredibly inconvenient for me, because the majority of the blogs that I read are focused on travel. Perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment. 


Well, That Escalated Quickly

Every few months, I get this insatiable itch to change something

At first I'll feed this need with small changes: 
a new hair color 
a few blog tweaks 
a new ringtone for my phone. 

I can't count the shadows to keep myself safe; 
 the itch will always catch up with me
just like the vashta nerada will always catch up with those in the shadows.

The night started out innocently enough; 
I was just going to change my navigation bar. 
I had created a new one a few weeks ago, 
and from the second that I installed it I absolutely hated it. 
I've been mulling it over for weeks, 
and finally I decided to get up off my rump and change it. 

Well.

Before I could get to the nav bar, I stared at my font choices. 
The font (Origin Light) that I once loved so much was now making my eye twitch. 
It was decided.
I needed to change my fonts. 

But.

You can't just change your font willy-nilly. 
You have to take your time. 
The font that you choose is an integral part of your design; 
it helps form the basis for your brand. 

DOWNLOAD ALL THE FONTS!

And then...

I sorted through all of my new fonts. 
Some had to be ruled out because they didn't have the ability to type the umlaut in my blog title. 
(the dots on top of the a in rakas kesä is an umlaut.)

So...

I typed.
I switched between fonts. 
I wrote down about thirty font names, 
and I slowly eliminated them
one by one. 

Finally, I was down to two fonts. 
I can work with two. 

So off I went, 
creating a new navigation bar. 
Once that was finished I had another revelation:
my blog header no longer matched. 
Neither did my buttons. 
You know.
The buttons that are everywhere? 

So off I went, 
creating a new header. 
New buttons. 
A new list of sidebar links 
(although the links? Not working at the moment. Fury.) {UPDATE: fixed!}
The new links lead to new widget titles. 

Finally, I had it all installed. 
And boy, did it look pretty. 

I've kept the amazing welcome image that Chelsea created for me earlier this year because it just cannot be topped.

But the rest?

The rest was all painstakingly created by me. 

Did I stop there?

After triumphantly overhauling my entire blog design in one night
did I turn off my laptop and crawl into bed? 

No. 

Because suddenly
I had motivation. 

That 'work with me' page that I've been avoiding finishing for so long? 
I HAD TO FINISH IT. 

The Great Design Beast took over
and I just kept going. 
Creating, 
changing, 
trashing, 
mapping, 
installing. 

When my (Vancouver) best friend texted me to ask why the hell I wasn't asleep yet
I finally looked at the clock. 
Five hours. 
I had spent five consecutive hours 
making all of these changes, 
pausing only to plug my laptop in when it told me to plug in or I'd lose everything. 

This is my random, 
weird, 
rambling 
not-poem 
about that time that I compulsively re-designed my blog 
instead of sleeping. 

Better make it five and a half hours, since I also decided to blog.

Don't judge me. 

I Have Not Been Exterminated By Daleks, But Thanks For Asking


Props to my bloggy friends that noticed my lack of posting this week and subsequently emailed me to make sure that I hadn't been : eaten by a lion, mauled by a bear, lost in a blizzard, or exterminated by Daleks. You guys rock, FYI. 

Lately, I feel like I've been fighting this epic battle against life in general. And lately? I feel like life is winning. Most of the battle is not for the Internet (sorry!), but I still feel the need to vent. As proof of my continued existence, and as explanation for my absence, I give you the following rants:

  1. What in the actual hell, everybody in the universe that zips their files?! I don't want to pay for WinZip, and my "evaluation trial" is over, so now I can't unzip all of the beautiful fonts that I've found, or ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU PEOPLE SO NICELY SHARED WITH ME IN A ZIP FILE. I hate you, WinZip. Also: free large ad space to whomever can set me up with a free unzipping software.
  2. Why does it take all damn day for an iPad to charge? The amount of anger that I feel towards zombie Steve jobs when my iPad battery goes below 20% is irrational but completely understandable. Did that sentence even make sense?
  3. What is with this relationship segmentation that the world is obsessed with? I'm not married, so I can't hang with married people because it's weird to be the only not married person in the room. But I can't hang with singles, because I'm not on the hunt for a hookup and/or it's awkward being the only couple in a group of singles. So basically I'm destined to hang out with cats, because they don't care what my relationship status is as long as I have food.
  4. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT I CAN'T RANT ABOUT ON THE INTERNET SO INSTEAD I'M GOING TO USE LARGE BOLD CAPS FOR THIS RUN ON SENTENCE TO EXPRESS MY EXTREME FRUSTRATION WITH ALL OF THE THINGS.
  5. I bought new tights last night. Really awesome black tights that had a subtle cheetah print on them. They were amazing, let me tell you. And then I put them on this morning, and there was a small hole in the knee. No big deal, it's tiny. By the time I got to work they had a huge run in them and I had to throw them out. Thanks for selling sub-par products, Winners. I thought that my legs would be covered with tights today, so I did a half-assed job shaving my legs this morning. Moral of this story? Always shave your legs nicely. Always. 

What has been driving you crazy lately?

Office Dialogue

It is entirely normal to walk into our office and find yourself in the middle of a random conversation. Topically we are all over the map, because we like to keep things interesting. A conversation about documentaries turned into the below exchange. 



*Note: My co-workers are well aware of my neurosis regarding organization and categorization, and they love me for it. Or in spite of it. Either way, they accept me which is why they are so wonderful.*



Me: I loved Shark Week! National Geographic Channel had 24/7 shark shows for the whole week, it was so much better than Discovery Channel. 

(Co-workers stare blankly at me. This is a normal reaction in the course of a conversation with me, I have found.)

Me: Great White sharks were my favourite animal growing up. 

Co-worker #1: (laughing) This explains so much about who you are!

Co-worker #2: I like giraffes. 

Me: Oh me too! That's my favourite land-based animal. 

Co-worker #1: (laughter) Of course you have a division between favourite land- and water-based animals. 

Co-worker #2: (laughter) I'm happy with just giraffes.

Me: (slightly embarrassed) Technically, the giraffe is my favourite Sub-Saharan animal....

Co-workers: (so much laughter)



And with that, a new office meme was born: #ConversationsWithAshley


What is your favourite animal?
(Feel free to include categories and sub-categories. This is a judgement-free zone!)

Life, or Something Like It


Source unknown; found on Pinterest

I am a bit neurotic. I am a compulsive planner. I am obsessively organized, and it will bug me incessantly if I somehow mess it up. Failure is not an option for me, so when I do fail at something I am incredibly hard on myself. Leave me alone for too long in a quiet room, and I will start to go crazy. I constantly overbook myself, because I don't enjoy having nothing to do. In fact, I thrive on action-packed or stressful situations. Or, rather, I will get overwhelmed and cry, but as soon as my cry is over I will thrive. 

If you know me in real life, you will know that these are not startling revelations. 

It isn't always easy to live in harmony with my quirks; instead, I often feel as though I am battling against them. I am uncomfortable with change {if it is sprung on me}, so it tends to make me {more than} a little bit hard to live around. 

I had a plan for my life. I had set goals and deadlines, as well as establishing check-points to ensure that I was on track in order to live up to my plan. Instead of changing the deadline, I would alter the method that I would use to reach my goals. Everything was incrementally mapped out, the way one would lay out the route for a marathon. 

Are you surprised to hear that my life has not gone according to my plan? You shouldn't be. I'm not even that surprised, if I'm completely honest with myself. But that doesn't mean that it is easy to give up The Plan. It means forgiving yourself for not meeting your goals, for taking turns in life that you didn't ever expect yourself to take. It's about letting go of the constant that you had to rely on that is no longer even a remote possibility.

We all have a plan, whether we admit it or not. Those vague ideas that flit around in your head of when you want to get married, have kids, buy a house, or even what job you want to do: those are all part of your plan. Mine was detailed; methodically laid out in a logical sequence complete with concrete deadlines. 

I did not make those deadlines. It's extremely difficult for me to reconcile the fact that I failed, and even harder for me to accept that I have had to change my timeline so drastically from what I had originally envisioned for myself.

The next time I'm having a hard time accepting that my life didn't go according to my plan, remember that I'm happy. I'm so happy with so many aspects of my life that it can be overwhelming at times--but that doesn't stop me from lamenting what I see as failures. 

Are you hard on yourself about anything?

Judgement Day is Upon Me, or The Story of How I Ended Up Reading 50 Shades of Grey

I'm going to blame it on my flu-addled brain, because I refuse to contemplate any alternative. 

Last Thursday I got dressed and made the 45 minute drive from Boyfriend's house to work, stopping three times to puke along the way. Each hot flash, with it's accompanying pool of sweat, was followed by intense bouts of cold. Not the "oh, the A/C is too high" kind of cold; no, this was the "I'm standing naked in the Arctic, my teeth are chattering and my lips are turning blue" cold. 

Boyfriend was smart; he just stayed in bed sick after a long night of being flu-y. He was also smart enough to bring his laptop home with him the day before, while I left mine at work to avoid the inevitable whining over how ridiculously large and heavy it is. From the moment that I put my pants on, I knew that I would end up grabbing the damn thing and immediately returning to that wonderful king-sized bed for a day of sleep. 

Upon arriving at the office I made the executive decision to brush my teeth because ugh; this is a decision that I would come to regret immediately. Lesson learned: the flavor of Crest activates my gag reflex when sick. I stumbled to my desk, fell into my chair, and held on for dear life. The spins are the very worst part of being sick.

It was at this point when I wondered if driving home would actually be the best choice; I work in a hotel, for Pete's sake {sidebar: who is Pete?}. I was moments away from convincing my boss to let me borrow a room until check-in when my phone rang. I scooped up my computer, jammed it into my bag, and walked into my bosses office to announce my leave. 

I sat in my car with my head in my hands for a good ten minutes before I became the master of those damn spins and felt like I could safely navigate home. I knew that I needed Gravol as soon as possible, so I stopped at my mom's house on the way. Moms make everything better, right? 

Well, she tried. She gave me a book that I've been waiting to read (win!), and naturally I left with about six Tupperware containers of leftovers and healthy foods (slightly mean since I couldn't keep anything down, but in the end win because yum fresh fruit), but she had no Gravol. I sighed, and accepted that I would just have to stop at the drug store as well. 

Shoppers Drug Mart, I just can't quit you. It's one of those stores that I should never visit unsupervised or while carrying a debit or credit card. My arms were loaded down with lemon and ginger tea (that didn't actually settle my stomach and tasted horrible), the new Cosmo (because I accidentally bought last month's issue on Tuesday), arrowroot cookies (what? They help my tummy!), fast-acting Gravol (my sickness savior), and NeoCitron for my pounding headache. Somehow, lost in that haul of goodies, was a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. 

I will admit that I have been reading Lorraine's amazing (and snarky) chapter-by-chapter recaps of the horribleness of this book. I knew that I would be cringing and yelling at the book constantly, yet a small part of me was curious. Surely she was exaggerating about murmurs and incongruent descriptions of facial expressions for the sake of comedy? How could a book sell an infinite number of copies and actually be that bad?

Well, ok. I've read the Twilight series, so I knew that a book could be written by a fourth grader and still sell millions of copies. But surely the world wouldn't allow this to happen for a second time? My poor sleep-deprived, flu-stricken brain rationalized faster than I thought possible (or, more likely, just didn't think about it at all) and allowed me to pick it up. 

Lovelies, I was so very wrong. So very, very naive. 

When I read Twilight, the run-on sentences and four-page long descriptions of Edward's facial expression (Coles Notes: it's blank, entirely perfect, and he has beautiful hazel eyes) would transform me into a crazy woman. This time I wanted to be proactive and avoid as much rage as possible, so I planned to keep a highlighter and a pen nearby--the idea being that I could make corrections as I went. Somehow, this makes more sense to me than to just not read a poorly-written book

Guys, the first hundred pages are basically all pink or otherwise written on. 

this was me throughout the book

Because a John Cleese/Monty Python gif is always appropriate. Also I've been hoarding this for weeks since I found it and needed an excuse to use it. Maybe subconsciously this is why I bought the damn book? 

As if buying the book, and then actually starting to read it, wasn't enough to kill any self-respect that I had, I've found that I cannot put the godforsaken thing down. I crawled into bed last night at a reasonable ten o'clock, only to tear my eyes away from it at one in the morning. ONE. 

In my very professional, I-took-Psych 101-so-I'm-a-therapist opinion, this is similar to the weird fascination that we have we driving slowly past a car accident or watching Teen Mom. It's horrible, and we hate ourselves for it, yet we continue to subject ourselves to it. 

The lowest point of this whole experience was asking my co-worker if I can borrow book two. What, at least I don't have to pay for it!

What's the very worst book that you've ever read?

Movin' On Up...with a professional, not made in Paint design!


I have been wanting a new design for rakas kesä for a while now. I have been scouring the blogosphere looking for the person that could not only create what I had in my mind, but that could also put up with my crazy. Somehow, I stumbled across Chelsea. I don't remember who's blog led me to her, but good grief am I glad that I ended up there!

 

One week and 29 emails later, she has made my bloggy dreams come true (possible slight exaggeration, as my real bloggy dream would be to have Wil Wheaton guest post for me). But she managed to take my incoherent ramblings of "I like girly but don't make it girly" and a comment about not wearing pants at work and somehow turn it into exactly what I had envisioned

That, my friends, is talent.

#TT: Antarctica, Shackleton & Penguins.

travel tuesdays

I do not work for G Adventures, and I am not being compensated in any way for this post. I have always loved the company; in the past I have sent many clients on trips with them and every single person came back raving about how amazing they are, so I feel confident recommending them to pretty much everyone.

Everyone has a travel dream, and they all vary widely based on who you talk to. My mom is very content to spend her annual summer vacation on a floatie in the Okanagan Valley in B.C, for example. I, however, did not receive the same want for simplicity. I have much more complicated travel dreams--spin a globe, randomly jab a finger on a location, and that will be one of the many places that I want to travel. I could spend every day of the rest of my life wandering the world, and I still won't see everything on my list. This is one of the downsides of working in travel--you see amazing vacations to so many places that your must-travel list continues to grow, even if you cross places off your list as you go. 

I do have that one travel dream, though. That one trip that I would take as my final, never-leaving-Edmonton-again trip. The end-all, be-all experience that could never be topped, no matter how hard you try. For me, that trip of all trips would be Antarctica. More specifically, my dream trip is Spirit of Shackleton, a trip that is offered exclusively by G Adventures

Just looking at this itinerary makes me itchy to go...
I have read pretty much every biography about Ernest Shackleton, as well as seeing the IMAX movie more times than I can count. His journey has always fascinated me, and the idea of actually retracing his steps (safely, of course!) just blows my mind. The only way I could get more excited to retrace the steps of an explorer would be to put me on the Enterprise so that I could relive all seven seasons of The Next Generation, but I'm fairly confident that this will not be possible in my lifetime. So Shackleton it is! 

There are a few things that make me nervous about this trip. I don't get seasick but it takes a long time for me to get my "sea legs", so I would be covered in bruises from falling by the time we actually got to the Falkland Islands. Also, that's a long time to be staying in a cabin on an expedition ship--even if you spring for the Category 5 Double. The last obstacle is quite obviously the price: a cool $17,000CAD for the tour (in the cheap Category 1 cabin, ew), including optional kayaking, Canada Goose jacket, and camping on the Antarctic peninsula--before flights, pre-tour activities (I couldn't go to Ushuaia without staying for a few days, and when you're that close to Patagonia how do you pass up hiking Torres del Paine??). That is the double price, too, so I'd have to find someone just as crazy as I am to go with, lest I want to spend the additional $10,000CAD for my own room. 

So, this is a pipe-dream for me, clearly. But it is one that I will dream of until either the day that I go or the day that I die, whichever happens first. 

Where do you dream of traveling to?