Squeeze a Little More Juice Out of That Lemon…

Last year at raise time, my office manager brought everyone into a large room and told the entire law firm that our raises weren’t going to be very large at that time because we’d had to comply with the same governmental regulations that the banks were forced to comply with. This meant even more bullet-proof glass, fancy new doors and key fobs, and a new vault had to be installed among other things in order to comply and keep our customers. On the downside he told us that our raises wouldn’t be as great as we might have expected them to be despite all of our hard work. Then he mentioned that our workload was down too (bottom line the owner wasn’t making as much money and spending more money than he wanted to) so we could expect to see that reflected in our raises as well.

But then the real kick in the teeth came…

He told us that we should be more efficient and that somehow we should try and figure out a way to squeeze a little more juice out of each lemon.

My thoughts as applicable to this situation were, “screw you.” No one really wants to be told that their raise for the year was being slashed because the company wasn’t making enough money and then be told to figure out how to work a little harder and be more efficient for less. That’s just bad presentation skills in my opinion. It’s not very motivating at all when put that way.

However, my manager did have a good point.

There are ways to be more efficient and get what you want done in less time. Maybe the workplace is one of them and maybe it’s not.

I do like to apply this principle to my training for marathons and triathlons. I really feel that more isn’t always better. When I’m tired I do not perform as well and my workouts aren’t as effective. I have a much better training session when I’m fresh and my body isn’t beaten up from doing multiple training sessions. In other words, I take a rest day or even two if I’m really sore from a tough workout. I adjust my workout schedule and don’t beat myself up if I don’t make everything I planned to do that week. I’ve found by spending a little bit less time training when I’m tired actually increases the quality of the workouts I do have because I have more energy when I do workout. I feel replenished before the workout and don’t dread it. I feel successful during the workout because it went well. I feel accomplished after the workout because I’ve made progress towards my racing goal. It’s a win-win situation. Efficiency can come in the form of quality instead of quantity.

Another place I like to apply this principle to is my work/social/home calendar. I like to be balanced. Balance is efficiency to me. If I’ve gotten good rest, worked an 8 hour day, done my workout and have spent some time with my new husband and my dogs then it’s been a good day. I’m more efficient because I’m coming from a happier and better balanced place. When I put in long hours at the office I get very stressed out. If I workout too long outside then I may be sore or tired afterwards and all I will want to do is rest. Or if I stay home on the couch all day and watch tv or am around Pete and the dogs too much, I go crazy. I need a balanced life. When I lead a balanced life I’m more efficient because I’m happy!

The last place I’ll let you explore with me is applying this principle to nutrition. I’m a vegan as most of you know. I do not believe in eating meat or any kind of animal byproducts. I believe that meat and dairy weren’t meant to be processed by the human body. My digestion is better and as a result I feel better. Digestion also affects my training. Last year while training for Chicago I never felt good after a run. I felt like last night’s dinner was still rumbling around inside me on my 16 mile long run. Now…if it goes in one end then it definintely comes out the other a LOT sooner. That’s a great thing. For me, by choosing not to eat meat and dairy my body is more efficient and happy and I am happier and more efficient as a result.

Squeezing a little more juice out of a lemon, or working in a more efficient manner, gets you more of what you want in less time and you’ll be happier over all. Now who would argue with that?

Sara Sawochka

The Power of Focus

Have you ever felt completely distracted by something? Have you ever had to bring your mind back to the here and now and focus on what you’re doing?

Focus is something I have a hard time with. I’m easily distracted by things going on around me. I’ve always had to force myself to pay attention in school, at work, when I’m grocery shopping. If I don’t force myself to focus then I become the opposite of a moth to a flame.

When I used to teach in a crowded dance studio, there were lots of teachers and students on the floor with private lessons going on all at one time. With people moving across the floor, music blaring and conversations being had, I remember really having to focus my attention on just my students because I could so easily lose my concentration on the task at hand.

This isn’t something I’m proud of but it is something I’ve gotten good at. The ability to focus helped me to finish a triathlon, Leon’s Triathlon in Hammond, IN, in particular, where I completely felt like a fish out of water. When I did Leon’s I had done two indoor sprint triathlons prior to that race. I’d never done an open water lake swim. I’d never swam 1500 meters. I’d never worn a wetsuit. My biking distances were close to 25 miles so I felt ok there but I’d never been in a race with that many tri-specific bikes whirring by me. I’d also never run 6.2 miles after biking 25 miles. There were so many new things I accomplished that day.

I completed the race and nearly finished last but I really had to do to get through the race was focus. My mantra throughout the whole race was “Here and Now”. Anytime I started to panic in the water because I couldn’t see the buoys I would tell myself “Focus on the here and now Sara.” Whenever the fancy tri bikes would fly past me on the bike course I would tell myself and they were on lap 2 and I was only on lap 1 I would mentally repeat my mantra “here and now” and it brought me back to focus. On the run when the sun was beating down on my back and during the last three miles it was me and one other person on the course I told myself “here and now.”

It was a good mantra for me. That was a really hard race for me so I didn’t push myself physically as hard as I probably could because I wanted to enjoy the experience. The race for me was more of a mental race than a physical race.

Was I under-prepared for the race? Probably. However, I had such good mental focus I was really able to pull through and finish the race with a smile.

The next time you find your mind wandering or think that something is tough and you can’t do it or if you feel like you’re a fish out of water just tell yourself “Here and Now” and you will find that your focus will come back to the present and you can finish the task at hand.

Sara Sawochka

Finally Married

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We finally got married. After 8 years of being together, we finally tied the knot. In an odd way we work differently now. We work more as one versus what’s best for Sara and what’s best for Pete. I never saw myself as a girl that would ever get married but I’ve come to the conclusion that marriage is cool. It’s hard work. You have to dig deep. And at the end of the day it’s totally worth it if you find someone you love.

And you know the coolest part? We got married for free at an Adult Prom on Friday the 13th. It was uniquely me!

What makes you uniquely you?

Sara Sawochka

Where’ve You Been?

I took a break from blogging for a bit. To catch you up on what I’ve been up to here’s my top 10 list of where Sara’s been:

1. I got married on Friday the 13th of April.

2. I decided to change my last name from Dalton to Sawochka. I didn’t want any bad memories linked to my former last name.

3. I’ve been competing in triathlons. I’ve done four so far—three sprint distances and one Olympic distance.

4. I went on my honeymoon to Colorado with my new husband.

5. I’ve signed up and started training for the Disney marathon with Pete. We are up to 4.5 miles on the long runs. The longest run we do together will be 28 miles. We are planning to run past the marathon distance so that psychologically we know we can do the 26.2 miles on race day.

6. I’ve been working my vegan ways on Pete. I make a smoothie every morning with cocoa powder, ice, berries, bananas, chia seeds and coconut milk and offer him some and he always takes me up on it. We’ve also been able to agree on a cooked meal every week—stir fries have been awesome for us. Pete has a hand-hammered cast iron wok that has been setting around collecting dust so I’ve decided to put it to good use. We use tofu instead of chicken or beef and lots of veggies with some kind of noodle and we have dinner for two for the week. Two out of three meals for Pete are vegan. I’m so happy with that!

7. I’m still a mouthy vegan. People tell me how sorry they are that I’m a vegan and I’ll tell them that it’s their loss, not mine.

8. I’ve convinced someone else to do triathlons next season! Pete has decided to join me in Sprint distances next season. He has been to all four of my races taking pictures and can tell you everything you want to know about triathlons even though he hasn’t done one yet. It just goes to show you can learn a lot from watching and also gain a lot of desire to want to pursue something too by watching it too.

9. I’ve discovered that I really like racing! Last year I spent all summer training and did one race. This year I’ve done 4 triathlons so far and 1 trail running race and have decided that I like including the racing as part of my training. When I train for my first half Ironman next year I plan to include several sprint and Olympic distance races along the way. Just training is flat out boring. It’s fun to be where the action is.

10. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’m not happy at my current job and I’m trying to figure out what a good career path would be. Foreclosing on people’s homes in a petty office environment just isn’t where I want to be anymore. I’m ready to grow and move on.

I’ve done a lot of growing and learning and changing in the last few months. I’ve had some exciting times (like my wedding and honeymoon) and also some humbling experiences (like finishing nearly last at Leon’s Olympic Distance triathlon) but I’m still here and I’m still going and trying and at the end of the day I know I did my best and have given it all I’ve got. And that’s what really matters most!

Sara