Update on 24 Before 24

Well friends, it's been another year. My 24th birthday has come and passed, so it's high time to actually recap how I fared against my list of things to try / experience / do from this past year. Without further ado, the list:

#1. Take a burlesque class
After years of trying things ranging from boxing to pole dancing because they sounded like fun, burlesque was the next thing on the list of random fascinations to dive into. Why burlesque? Primarily because it embodies the traits of a dangerous woman: confidence in one's skin, sass, mastery of the rather rare art of seduction, and the power to engage, create a moment, and then walk away (which, quite frankly, is something I suck at).   

While I technically gave myself a year to take a class, actually doing it was something I'd been saving for Autumn as a bit of a capstone to 23. The unfortunate part of saving it for Autumn and not looking into class schedules ahead of time? Realizing the only classes offered were weekdays when I would be traveling for work.

Nice planning, Lisa.

#2. Try the tasting menu with wine pairings at La Belle Vie
After saving up to treat someone to a no-expense-spared / half of my monthly rent night out at a fancy-pants restaurant, the only person I could imagine experiencing it was was my Mom. In honor of her Birthday, we wined, we dined, and we didn't take a single picture of the 8 course meal. All in all, the experience of treating my Momma to incredible food and an evening about her after years of her putting up with me was worth every penny.

#3. Run a non-obstacle trail race
This is one of the few things on my list that I'm genuinely sad about not accomplishing. Trail running is at the top of the list of things that make me feel most alive, so I put this on my list as a way to trail run more, make new friends, and get into a subculture I've been dying to become a part of. Unfortunately, most trail races are in the summer...and I spent my summer weekdays working long hours in North Carolina and my summer weekends traveling. All of this said, I don't regret my decisions to travel, so I'm looking at this list item as something to make happen this year.

#4. Create a signature meal that can be put together by memory in under one hour
Doubly done. Winter means scrambled tofu, braised kale, and ume plum vinegar-roasted portabello mushrooms; summer entails avocado and frisse-stuffed smoked salmon paired with an heirloom tomato salad. More importantly, both can be on the table under 30 minutes and all my stomach can say is yuummmmmmm.

#5. Join a church
Joining a church was something that I thought would be pretty straightforward when I originally put it on this list, but as time passed, it was interesting to see it become one of the more difficult things to accomplish. For a bit of context, a church I grew up in split apart during perhaps the most formative years of my religious education, and while I didn't really realize how it affected me at the time (mainly because 8th grade is painful in general), the lingering church issues surfaced this year. As a result, I realized that I needed more time to work through these...for lack of a better word, fears, before feeling ready to invest in a church community at the level that I'd like to do so again. 

#6. Sing in public (bar karaoke doesn’t count)
Lesson learned from this one: be careful about the fun facts you put in work training bios or you may end up singing the National Anthem in front of your entire promotion training class. With no warning or warm up. And classically, the week you have a cold.

#7. Learn to meditate
The app "headspace" is a wonderful thing. 90 minute hot yoga classes are as well.

#8. Cull my closet down to essential pieces that make me excited each time I see them
When you look at your closet, it's really incredible how much stuff you actually own. Between the random free t-shirts you accumulate, the dresses that look so cute on the hanger but never as good on your own frame, and the general clutter picked up over the years, it was time to spend some time on killing the things I didn't LOVE (in all caps) so that I could make more use of the things that I did.

A day of evaluating and 3 donation bags later, I had a much happier closet.

3 months after that original culling, I feel the need to do it again. I'm kind of digging this new seasonal itch. 

#9. Go on a solo camping trip
Similar to running a trail race, I saved this one for summer and then wasn't in town to actually do it. Good one.

#10. Log 30 training miles in a week 
Hahahahahaha. It's bad that many times this year, my weekly average was 1/10th of this. That said, I was still able to get down to the leanest I've ever been without running bigger miles, so my knees may ultimately thank me for not following through on this one.

#11. Run a sub-seven minute mile
The feasibility of pulling this off might have been high because I pulled off a 7:54 mile for the 10th mile of a 10 mile race this October. That said, actually running a sub-7 mile remains untested because I spent most of my training time this year investing in boxing conditioning instead of running speed. While learning more about boxing was so so worth it, I am kicking myself a bit for not giving this a go.

#12. Sleep in a treehouse
This happened in April while visiting a girlfriend in Guatemala:
And yes, sleeping in a treehouse was just as delightful as you'd expect it to be.

#13. Do 100 pushups in a row
Attempting and failing to follow a "100 push-ups" training plan happened about 7 times this year. The good news: there is an app for this and since I'm currently on orders to not run for a bit, push-ups might be a great "push yourself until exhaustion as a twisted way to restore sanity" substitute. 

#14. Run a destination race
With winter moving in on MN, a race in a non-frostbite area of the country sounded fantastic. Turns out that the Big Sur Half Marathon is just what the doctor ordered - it started and ended in Monterey, CA, ran up the gorgeous California coast line, had fantastic mile markers, and also happened to be 20 mins away from my Grandma's house. Add in an extra day off of work, a girlfriend for a fantastic trip & running buddy, 70* weather, and a chance to spoil my Grandma rotten and you have the recipe for a great weekend.
One perk of delaying this post for a while is that I got to run this race again this year, which now makes the race / trip / long weekend is officially a tradition.

See you in 2015, Big Sur Half Marathon!

#15. Hit 16% body fat. Note: this is different from BMIToday's starting mark: 17.9%
Of anything on my list, this is the one that makes me the proudest. There are three main drivers of this pride, with the first being that I was able to accomplish it when I could have used any number of excellent excuses for not making this happen. This year was no small feat between working 80 hour weeks to having the Polar Vortex be a thing (- 40 + windchill = no outdoor activities) and constantly being on the road, yet despite all of these things, this one didn't end up as an excuse.

The second part is that the percentage - 15.6% - means that I weigh 142ish lbs on any given day, which is a good 20+ over what conventional society would generally consider "being lean" or "in shape" or "beautiful." Despite this, my body fat percentage puts me within "competitive athlete" status for women and is something that reminds me that I'm muscly and strong every time that I enter my weight into a treadmill or on a form. 

Finally, the last aspect of this is that I achieved it by learning to actually listen to my body rather than by trying to control it. Instead of following a strict diet and workout plan, I gave my body what it wanted. If I was stressed, I'd hit the gym because I found that worked better for me than any other form of decompression. If I wanted a killer donut from an amazing donut shop in town, I drove across town to get that donut (or two) and learned to eat them without an ounce of guilt. I ate salads because I craved salads, drank wine because I loved wine, traded my car for my bike in the summer, and started boxing more and doing more yoga because I loved they way they made me feel. While this may sound overly flowery, I really learned how to do things because of the way they felt rather than the way I thought I should do things....and it turned out that for me, listening to what my body wanted made it a lot easier to love my body as-is as well as to become the strongest, leanest, and healthiest I've ever been.

#16. Try a 7-day juice feast
Still intriguing. Still hella expensive. With more overhead than I've ever had in my life (car payments, living alone, etc), this wasn't in the financial cards for this year.

#17. Read “The Speed of Trust”
A few years ago, a girlfriend and I started swapping books as a way to keep in touch with each other from across the country as well as to get both of us to read more for pleasure. The Speed of Trust was one if the books she lent me...and then it sat on my bookshelf for over a year. When I finally read it, it changed how I thought about trust, what trust actually meant, and the affect that trust (or lack of it) can have on your relationships. Needless to say, when I get into management, this book will be required reading for all of my employees.

#18. Learn how to play the Daylights’ “Weapons” on the guitar
Favorite song + instrument sitting in my apartments that I need to learn? Sounds like a perfect match. That is, it was a perfect match until I broke a guitar string while attempting to learn how to play said song, haven't yet had a chance to take the guitar in to be restrung, and, as a newb, don't know how to do the basic things on my own like change a guitar string. 


#19. Go on a weekend getaway with a love interest
The way this one happened was quite unexpected, in part because I originally chose the destination because it was the hometown of a different potential love interest. Life, however, had other plans and intervened, a new fellow swept me off my feet, and magic ensued. Think chasing each other through crowded streets, sneaking into open rooms in the capital building at night, a first kiss on a rooftop while onlookers cheered, and missing elevators because neither of us wanted to say goodbye magical. It was pretty much a romcom in real life…and like a rom com, in ended as quickly as it began.

#20. Hike the John Muir Trail
Due to scheduling and permitting, see you in August of 2015!

#21. See a parade at the Air Force Academy
Unlike what one would see on the 4th of July, a military parade looks like a lot of marching, squadron-synchronized movements, and standing at attention as a way to display discipline, precision, and military prowess. The fact that it was for my little sister's graduation from the Air Force Academy made it even more impressive to see in real life. 

#22. Revamp my thesis research for publication
During my undergrad, I spent my last year and a half working on a thesis entitled, "The Culture of Problem Solving: How Problem Solving Methodologies Compare Between American and Asian University Students," which stemmed from curiosity discovered while studying abroad about if there was a cultural component to how we think about / structure problems. Researching, writing, and following through in general on a year and some-long project was the hardest thing I did in school, so actually finishing it and then having the resulting thesis generate buzz within the global studies offices was really rewarding. Then I graduated, didn't touch the thesis at all over that summer, began work, and the rest is history...so with grad school on the horizon, working to actually get back in the academic mindset, revisit the thesis, and (potentially) contribute to literature sounded like a lot of fun. All of this said, while I did start initial conversations about what it would take and what journals I should pursue with former professors and thesis mentors, I ended deciding to invest time and energy elsewhere this year. Door is open though, so this may be something I'll continue working on this year.

#23. Publish a piece of non-academic writing
Similar to #22, life went in a different direction this year, so while this was something that sounded like a good challenge / way to push myself at the time, it ultimately became something that I chose to deprioritize in favor of other things. 

#24. Create the habit of daily prayer, writing, and yoga
Prayer and yoga are easy enough to picture and do, but creating the daily habit of writing took a bit more structure. After struggling with this for the first part of the goal year, I started using the “monthly” section of a daily planner containing a line for each day of the year around April to document a snapshot from the day. This low-pressure way to build the writing habit by filling one line and not overthinking what I was writing turned into a really fun collection of memories, misadventures, and lessons learned. For your amusement, here are a few of them:
  • 2-am work night. Worst "easy week" ever 
  • Night walks are cute. Talking about your penis piercing on a first date is not 
  • Playing on the monkey bars for 5 minutes resulted in blisters. This is problematic 
  • Got promoted. Still cried at the office 
  • Mechanical bulls leave very awkward bruises 
  • Barefoot walk of shame to the lobby after locking myself out of my hotel room 
  • Flight delay = excuse for champagne

And with this, we've reached the end of the list. Viva la 24!