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5 Days of Gratitude: Day #3

Wow, 3 days into the 5-Day Gratitude Challenge and I’m feeling SO GREAT!  On Day 3 of my challenge, I find myself most grateful for the little things — life’s small pleasures. 

These days it’s:

warm summer days

giving/receiving an unsolicited compliment

iced coffees

mid-day naps

hearing your favorite song on the radio

singing in the car

making a new friend

being able to have quality “me” time

nice, long showers

seeing old friends

On the last point, I find myself also incredibly grateful to be able to connect with three old friends from FreeWheel — Max, Filip and Dustin — in town on business, visiting from New York and San Francisco.  Having lunch, laughing, connecting, sharing stories, it was as if no time had passed.  I walked away from our time together with my face hurting from smiling so much.  Such a great feeling — again, right up there with one of the simple pleasures in life.  Face muscle strain.

Ahhh… happiness abounds.  I might have to extend this challenge past just 5 days.  I mean, why stop at 5?

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5 Days of Gratitude: Day #2

Today is Day 2 of my 5-Day Gratitude Challenge and in looking back on the day, I find myself most thankful for having a sense of humor in what could otherwise be construed as a terribly embarrassing predicament.

Here’s the back story:

I was asked to sub the 6:30pm Flywheel Bellevue class for my friend, Dana, and while en route to the studio, I noticed that I had the makings of a dime-sized hole near the crotch of my relatively new Fabletics tights.  Great.  I figured it couldn’t get much bigger and so I proceeded to prepare for class like I normally would.

Though in taking to the stage a few minutes before class began, I looked down to see that my once dime-sized hole had expanded to the size of, oh, I don’t know… my fist.  Mind you, this was now a fist-sized hole INCHES from my crotch and I had to teach a class of roughly a dozen people in less than 10mins.  I immediately switched into a different top that had a longer torso, thinking I could let it drape over my ladyparts while I taught, or that I could improvise during class and strategically let my towel hang over my leg to cover up my ever-expanding hole.  Nobigdeal.

Class began, so of course I made sure that the instructor spotlight was good and dimmed.  No one seemed to notice my upper inner-thigh hole.  “Phew, I might just be able to make this work!” I remember thinking to myself, my thigh now feeling a bit raw from rubbing up against the bike saddle minutes into the ride.  Though once class ended and it came time to dismount from our bikes and begin our stretching routine, I increasingly became more nervous that my hole had expanded to the size of a small Frisbee and that I would be exposed, pun very much intended.

At this point I figured, “Alright, Katie — time to come clean” and like a good Catholic school girl at confession, I informed my class that I had “a secret that I’ve been wrestling with telling them all through class” and proceeded to reveal my crotch hole predicament.  Laughs ensued and in that moment I realized that something like this could happen to anyone.  For my students, my hope in telling them of my issue was that it would make me more real in their eyes — more human and more authentic.  An aspect of my classes that I always try to incorporate is my lighthearted personality, so sharing my crotch hole story in a light, poke-fun-at-myself manner fell perfectly in line with any other joke I would tell in one of my regular classes.

Yes, it was embarrassing, I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t.  But I walk away from this experience feeling happy and grateful that I could laugh off something that would for most other people be incredibly mortifying.  Maybe I didn’t need to share my crotch hole story.  Maybe I could’ve just let it go and pretended that my wardrobe malfunction was actually an intentional Ke$ha-inspired look?  But I decided to err on the side of authenticity and have no regrets about it.

5 Days of Gratitude: Day #1

Perusing my Facebook news feed tonight, I stumbled upon a friend’s post, proclaiming that today was “Day 1” of a “5-Day Gratitude Challenge”. He then went off to list the things he is most grateful for today, committing to posting new items as his status update each day over the next 5 days.

How inspiring! So what am I going to do? Well of course I’m going to pirate this idea for myself, obviously.

In all seriousness, I find that in times of difficulty, identifying the elements in your life that you’re most appreciative of can do amazing, uplifting things for the soul. Then again, even if you’re not suffering from a particularly challenging time, connecting with the blessings in your life is an activity that each of us should do with enough frequency that we don’t forget all the riches we benefit from. Embracing an attitude of gratitude brings joy and can heighten our consciousness, making us better friends, partners and stewards of bliss on this earth.

And so, today, I hereby commit to acknowledging the blessings that I’m most appreciative of in my life each day over the next 5 days in the hopes that this will broaden my perspective and serve to remind me of what’s really important in life.

Here it goes….

Today, I find myself most thankful for my body’s physical abilities. Often times we take for granted our health and mobility until we’re suddenly stricken by illness or injury and are limited to what we could once physically accomplish without issue. I am grateful that my body enables me to move with relative ease, allowing me to teach my Flywheel classes this weekend without experiencing any physical pain. Millions of people live each day with chronic pain, which is linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem issues, and substance abuse. I count myself so incredibly fortunate that my body gives me the freedom to move with minimal disruption, allowing me to participate in the things that I love with vigor and grace. In return for my body’s abundance, I must respect her, listen to her, and give her rest and proper nourishment when she needs it. This translates directly to getting enough sleep, seeking massage, and fueling my body with the nutrients that will replenish me. Body, I am thankful for you, girl!

Secondly and earning equal praise, I am thankful for having so many positive, uplifting, wonderful people in my life. This extends to my boyfriend and partner in crime, our mutual friends, my colleagues, fellow instructors and students at Flywheel, my SF and Seattle friends, along with each new person I am fortunate enough to cross paths and connect with each day. I’m grateful that I don’t have any one particular person dragging me down, making me feel less than, or that I’m not good enough. I’m fortunate to be able to surround myself around like-minded, positive, glass-is-MORE-THAN-half-full people who make each day rewarding and inspiring. I try not to take this for granted, for this is certainly not the case for some people who are engulfed by individuals who only bring other people down into their own world of hurt and misery. Not me, my friends. If you’re reading this, know that I’m grateful for YOU!

Okay. Day 1, done. Phew. That felt good. I’m looking forward to identifying tomorrow’s list of blessings and sharing them with you. Life is good and is full of abundance

Acknowledging When You’re in a Rut and Owning Your Outcome

[Deep breath, Katie.  The time has finally come for you to stop putting this off.  You’re doing this, okay?]

Today is July 15th, 2014 and I am [finally] owning up to being stuck in a rut.  I can’t really pinpoint the precise trigger, but I do know who the primary culprit is — my job.
I rejoined Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager a little over 18 months ago and in that time I’ve seen a tremendous amount of change and transition.  [Not that change and transition is out of the ordinary for any large company or division of a large company, but the particular division that I’m in has suffered from operating under so much ambiguity and uncertainty for so long now, that morale feels like it’s at an all-time low.]  In 18 months, I’ve had 3 managers and have been through 2 major re-orgs.  Add to that, rumors have been mounting that the biggest round of layoffs in Microsoft’s history is swiftly approaching.  As a result, a collective disengagement has grown within my group that will prove to be difficult, if not impossible, to pull out of.
My problem is also rooted in the fact that I don’t believe in the products that I’m supporting.  [Talk about the ultimate marketer’s dilemma!]  What makes this situation particularly challenging for me is that, by nature, I’m a deeply passionate person [a full-fledged Scorpio] who thrills in being able to rally behind a cause, a mission, an ideology, or a product that I wholeheartedly support and sharing that enthusiasm with others.  My inability to be a loyal evangelist for the products that I am assigned to market and endorse, coupled with the declining temperature of my department and impending layoffs, I feel much like a car on an empty highway that’s just run out of gas. I’m completely lacking in motivation and at times don’t recognize myself at work.  Even in my personal life, I feel stuck creatively.  I used to journal and blog frequently, and create things with my hands, always with fresh, new ideas, inspired by people and my environment.  Now I find myself completely lacking energy for these things, preferring instead to shut out the world, keeping my office door closed all day, avoiding engaging unnecessarily with any of my colleagues, leaving the office early whenever I can, finding opportunities to sleep in the middle of the day.  [By all accounts, I sound depressed!]
The good news is, I feel like I’m on a path to getting myself out of this rut.  Here’s what I’ve come to accept:
1) I cannot stress over the things I am incapable of changing or controlling.  If I happen to be impacted by the layoffs, this will be a decision that I cannot change or control but can only come to accept.  The inner hippie in me strongly believes that everything in this life happens for a reason and, more importantly, when it should… when we are truly ready to take on change, learn a new lesson, or leave something behind.  I’ve come to welcome whatever change is on the horizon and feel strongly that should I be let go this week, this is the universe opening up an opportunity for me to leave a situation that I have already acknowledged as toxic.  I find tremendous peace in the words of the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

2) Regardless of what happens, I know in my heart that Microsoft is no longer the right fit for me.  Knowing that I’m a deeply passionate, creative person, one who revels in sharing my enthusiasm for the things I love, I cannot stay in a role or in an environment where I feel stifled. It’s like being stuck in a smoke-filled room and I can’t breathe.  For me, it’s about recognizing that life is short and every additional minute I spend doing something that I don’t believe in is a minute wasted and can never get back.  The silver lining to all of this is that I am fortunate to have another gig outside of my day job that I am so completely engrossed in and inspired by.  When Flywheel entered my life last summer, it was truly a serendipitous event.  I literally overheard two coworkers talking about a new cycling studio that had just opened up down the street, so I immediately took to the interwebs and discovered Flywheel.  In that very moment, my life was forever changed for the positive.  I started going to classes and was instantly hooked. I sung their praises to coworkers and friends and intentionally carved out time in my calendar everyday that was dedicated to Flywheel and Flywheel alone.  I forged connections with my favorite instructors, the Flywheel staff and with other regular riders.  And when auditions came about for new instructors, I raised my hand, went out on a limb and tried out, and to my delight, was selected to go through 7 weeks of intense training.  I’ve been teaching now for the last 6 months and have found the experience to be fulfilling, rewarding, challenging, invigorating and just overwhelmingly positive — a complete contrast to my life at Microsoft.  Identifying where my passions truly lie while acknowledging the areas in my life where I might be “faking it” has been a sobering experience.  And while it’s scary to think about leaving a job that’s financially stable, in the end, if my heart’s not in it, then I’m wasting my talent and wasting my time.
3) Opening yourself up to life’s possibilities can have the power to change the course of your life and broaden your perspective.  Don’t you find that when you say, “yes” or “why not?”, amazing things can happen?  There have been times when I have dreaded an upcoming social engagement or put off taking on a new project due to my fear of the perceived pain involved.  Yet, when the thing actually arrives, I’ve often found myself looking back and saying, “well that wasn’t so bad. What was I so afraid of?”  Creating a space where you’re willing and open to accepting life’s invitations that come your way can open doors for you that would otherwise remain closed.  I’m consciously taking tomorrow’s news as one that will shine a light on what possibilities exist for me outside of the walls of Microsoft.  I’m opening myself up to the signs, messages and people in my life who can help me make the transition to getting out of my rut and on to living out my calling.
4) Acknowledging that I can’t get out of this rut alone.  Simply put, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes we just can’t go at it alone — and that’s okay!  Sometimes we need to turn to our friends and family for advice.  Other times we need to call upon the aid of an unbiased third party or a professional coach who is more equipped to help identify our trouble spots than we would be if we attempted to tackle our issues single-handedly.  Starting in early August, I will begin working with a coach to help me formulate a plan that will enable me to start actively living my life’s purpose and unearth how I can leverage my passions around health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and teaching into a new career path.  I’m excited to work with someone who’s had successes with other people in similar situations and while I’m excited to ultimately emerge from my rut, I’m looking forward to going through the process and embracing all of the learnings that will inevitably ensue along this path.
Yes, I’m most definitely in a rut, and it’s been terribly difficult for me to admit that.  But the good news is, I know there’s a way out.  Sure it might take some time for me to rally, rely on my friends, on a coach and on the signs of the universe to point me in the right direction, but I’m ready.  Stay tuned!  Exciting things are in store, I’m sure of it.

“The difference between a dream and a reality….”

“…is just doing it.” — Cheeming Boey

I start tonight’s post by referencing a quote used in the closing remarks of my last post, which is dated March 7th.  Today is July 21st.  4 1/2 months.  How quickly things can change in a relatively short lapse of time.

In the time between now and then, a few non-insignificant things have transpired in my life, namely:

#1: I attended my 3rd consecutive Coachella Music Festival, which was, by no stretch of the imagination not incredible.  Au contraire, it was amazing, as Coachella proves to be for all of her patrons, both those returning year over year and those who are gracing her lush green polo fields for the very first time. However, when comparing my 3rd time in Indio against my inaugural visit in 2010 and my return in 2011, I’ll admit that a bit of the magic that I was looking forward to was lost, perhaps in part because I can no longer be considered a Coachella newbie but am now a bonafide veteran.  Perhaps some of the luster gets lost when one does any one thing for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc times?  I don’t really know.  What I do know is that I have a ticket to 2013 and I’m committed to feeling the freshness of the weekend as if I’m gazing upon the grounds and experiencing the festival for the first time.  At least I’ll be keeping this top of mind this next time around, we’ll see what actually happens.

#2: I ventured off to the beaches [and humidity] in Thailand with Megan for a sunny [yet very brief] respite and in 6.5 days managed to hit up 4 cities: Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Railay and Bangkok.  Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely lovely.  But could I have used a few more days lazily lounging on the sandy shores of Krabi? Yes, absolutely.  Will I be back? Oh 100% I will.

#3: I completed my 2nd AIDS LifeCycle ride, traversing the 545mi between San Francisco and Los Angeles on my bike in 7 days — and promptly signed up to do it all over again upon successfully crossing the finish line.  Am I nuts?  Yes.  Team Mary was back in full force, this year showing up at opening ceremonies as more than double our size from last year and I have every confidence in the world that our return in 2013 will be just as amazing if not moreso [if that’s even possible].  All I can say is that it’s 11 months away and I can’t wait.

….and probably most paramount…

#4: A week ago today I left my job at FreeWheel and have temporarily relocated to Florence, Italy.  You heard me correctly.  I left my job and promptly left the country, taking up residence in a cute little flat in the heart of Florence’s Santa Croce neighborhood alongside of my best friend, Megan Gordon.  We’re doing something we’ve always wanted to do. That is, we’re living abroad, taking a bit of a sabbatical from our 9-to-5 gigs in the states and are just… being. Living. Traveling. Relaxing. Savoring all of life’s small treats. Not living on a timetable. Not setting an alarm. Finishing books we’ve been meaning to read for ages. See places we’ve never been to but have always wanted to visit. Drinking great wine. Making conversation with strangers.  It’s fabulous.  We arrived on Tuesday, July 17th and don’t have plans to return to San Francisco until mid-August [though that’s still up in the air at this point].  This is completely unchartered territory for the both of us, but we figure why not? You’re given one life to live so why not make the most of it?

Which is why I started tonight’s post by referencing a quote from the video I posted of Boey where he states, “the difference between a dream and a reality is just doing it. Don’t wait. Just go for it.”

So, that’s what we’re doing. We’re going for it.  More posts will soon follow, but so far, so good!  Life in Italia is wonderful, relaxing, beautiful.  In fact, at 5 days in, it’s challenging to think of what life will be like once we return to the states.

But I won’t think about that just yet….

It’s been awhile…

Damn. 3 months into the new year, and I have no posts to show for.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

What have I become?!  I guess this is just a testament to how crazy.busy.fast.chaotic.whirlwindish the new year has been.  [Note to self: I should probably stop referring to it as “the new year” now that we’re in the middle of the first week of March and daylight savings is this weekend. March, people. March. Jeebs. This year is going to fly by, I know it.]

Anywho, a quick assessment of my posting tendencies would suggest that I’m not one who tends to write about things un-thoughtfully.  So, the other excuse I have for not posting anything is that I really haven’t been inspired to write about anything in particular. [This is mostly true. One could also argue that I just haven’t actually made the time.]

Well, that all changed for me this morning when I randomly stumbled upon the following video. While the whole thing is just so freakin’ cool, I couldn’t help but be so incredibly inspired by the 2nd half of the clip. How simply Boey articulates something that I’ve been thinking about myself for… gosh… well, for a really long time now.

 

 

I think each of us is a dreamer like Boey is. Yet, not all of us are able to muster up the courage to follow such a dream — and without a back-up plan, for that matter. Or as we get older, we get more settled into our routines and more deeply rooted in our responsibilities.  For some, this includes the obvious things like responsibility at your job, to your spouse and your children, and financial responsibilities like paying your car payment or your mortgage.  For others, this also includes the fear of missing out on what you’d potentially be leaving behind by making such a significant leap into the unknown. I think I’m someone who falls into the second bucket, for when I think about packing up and traveling the world and embracing my inner wanderlust, I think about all the lovely amenities I’d temporarily forfeit in San Francisco. Things like having Golden Gate Park within walking distance of my apartment, being able to see my friends at the drop of a dime, access to great music shows and fancy dinners, stuff like that.

Then again, when I daydream of all the amazing treasures that the world has in store, stuff that I don’t even know about yet, well… I waffle back and forth. A lot. And then there’s the whole argument of “it’s just not the right time”. Well, to Boey’s point, if not now, when? 

I hope anyone who reads this and sees Boey’s video can take a step back and ask themself, what have I always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet? And why haven’t I?  This is an exercise I’m actively putting myself through, posing to myself some tough questions that I feel I’m on the precipice of answering.

Using Boey’s words, I’m pushing myself to fully embrace his statement that “the difference between a dream and a reality is just doing it. Don’t wait. Just go for it.”

Here’s hoping that I can just go for it, and soon.

Katie Carroll, v3.0 | Goals for the next decade

Well, it’s here!  I’m 30-years-old!  Today. 30. 30-years-old.  Today is my birthday. My 30th birthday. A huge milestone.  A time to reflect on the last 30 years and plan for the next 10, 20, 30 — and beyond.

Inspired by my last post, where I captured some of the greater highlights of my 20s, I feel it necessary to project what I’d like to set out to achieve in my 30s.  There have certainly been some things that I’ve been mulling over for quite awhile and I think it’s about time that I officially commit myself to accomplishing them now that I’m a bona fide adult.  Here it goes:

  1. Finish a marathon in under 4hrs
  2. Complete a triathlon
  3. Travel to Italy, France, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland
  4. Get certified to teach yoga
  5. Learn to ski/snowboard
  6. Take piano lessons
  7. Finish my t-shirt quilt [a long-term project I’ve been postponing forever]
  8. Bolster my personal savings [actual details reserved for Katie and her financial adviser]

I think that’s about it for now.  I intend to revisit this post and add to the list when other long-term goals present themselves, but I wanted to get these first few up and publicly posted so as to hold myself accountable.

Here we go!  Wish me good luck!  Today is day #1 for the next 10yrs [well, assuming the world doesn’t end in 2012].

***Disclaimer: please note that none of the aforementioned goals include having babies, securing a man/getting married, or obtaining a mortgage.  Not to say that these things are completely off the table.  I just don’t feel that I should be working hard to cross those things off of a goal-oriented list when, to me, whether they happen or not is entirely up to fate and in the chance that they don’t happen, I don’t want to feel disappointed.***

 

I’m turning 30, people

This day has finally come.

Tonight marks my last night as a twenty-something and in many ways, I find it strangely satisfying.  After attending yoga earlier today and mentioning to Elizabeth that my 30th birthday is tomorrow, she remarked “you’ve had a really good decade, Katie”.  It occurred to me then that she was right; what a great perspective to have on the eve of the next decade of my life.  Of course this totally warrants a blog post, where I felt it only fitting to list the highlights of the last decade.  Indulge me for a moment:

Highlights of my 20s:

  • Graduating from college in 4yrs
  • Moving to San Francisco [and subsequently setting up my adult life here]
  • Gaining financial freedom [paying off my car, student loans and credit card, setting up my 401K, etc]
  • Completing 5 marathons and 8 half marathons [9 after tomorrow’s race]
  • Discovering a love for Bikram yoga
  • Participating in the 10th annual AIDS LifeCycle Ride [535mi on my bike in 7 days]
  • Embarking on several international trips [UK, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Mexico]
  • Working for a start-up company, a company relatively fresh out of start-up mode, and a well-established Fortune 500 company
  • Embracing my love for music [read: more concerts than I can count, music festivals Coachella, Ultra, Outside Lands, Treasure Island, Electric Zoo]
  • Falling in love, being okay with being vulnerable, and mending a broken heart
  • Making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and supporting friends progress through new chapters of their lives [think: marriage, children, relocating across the country or to another country, going back to school, going through a significant break-up, starting new careers, etc]

I’m sure there are some other highlights that I might be by-passing, but these are the ones that stand out as most prominent for me tonight.  I look at this list and my heart swells with pride, for as great as my 20s were, I know that my 30s will have many more great things in store.  Thanks for the memories, 20s. You were fabulous.