December 2022 Goals

In yesterday’s post, I reflected on what happened in November 2022 and lessons I learned. I also shared the status of the goals I’d set.

Keeping in mind the holiday, I’m not looking to focus on breadth. I’m going for depth instead. So, goals look light, but one of the goals, the YearCompass is where I will be putting most of my energy and where I’ll be going deep.

Here are my goals:

  1. Continue with 5k trail race plan, weight lifting and hiking.
  2. Purchase Vivobarefoot trail running shoes.
  3. Work on the YearCompass so it’s completed before New Year’s Eve.
  4. Film, edit and post one YouTube video this month.
  5. Enjoy the holiday and make it as close to family-drama-free (i.e. in-laws and family of origin) as I possibly can.
  6. Purchase a keyboard and keep on learning piano – a new side interest.

Thoughts and Hopes for December 2022 Goals:

Last month was very overloaded and had things on the list that I was trying to force myself to do that I didn’t really want to do but felt like I had to do. And, of course, I didn’t do what I didn’t want to do.

December 2022 is very Minessententional.

Minimalist, Essential and Intentional=Minessententional:

  • Fewer and more focused goals that go deep on the things that are essential and intentional to me.
  • Focused the things that are most important to me right now which are also the essential things.
  • Moving the dial on fitness and my business/brand with 1 YouTube video, 
  • Going deep on the YearCompass for next year’s goals to say goodbye and reflect on 2022 and plan for what I’d like to accomplish in 2023.
  • Adding in practice and a way to practice for a new side interest that I’m working on (piano). 
  • Need trail shoes for the trail race  I’m running in January and beyond. 
  • Being active and fit during the holiday and beyond. 
  • Maintaining my mental health so that I stay as close to a drama-free Christmas and New Years as I possibly can. For me, that means staying away from triggering family members like in-laws and family of origin.

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Need help with planning and goal setting for December 2022 or for 2023? Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com and let’s have a conversation about goal setting and planning. I’d love to hear from you and help you out in any way I can.

Sarathlete

Why You Should Nurture Other Interests While You’re Indulging Your Main Passion

For years, I had one passion: dance. 

What activities did I nurture on the side when I wasn’t dancing? 

Not much to be honest. Dance was everything to me.

That became a problem when I left the dance world, and all I had left was my day job.

One of the reasons I advocate for nurturing interests on the side is because I remember what it was like to have dance be my world, and when I chose to leave that world due to burnout, I felt oh-so-very lost.

So, what was next for me?

This blog.

I kept on moving. I started running. I did a 5k, half and full marathon one year. The next year I got into triathlons. The year after that was cycling. And the year after that was a year of hot yoga. 

The year after that, I lost touch with movement for many years. I had a very dark period where depression and emotional eating ruled my life. I stopped moving for a while. Eventually I went back to the gym and got into weight lifting and boxing. Then came COVID and a back injury. Then came ACA/12 step and recovery.

Within this time, I got very into personal development in searching for a solution to make myself feel better and trying to figure out why I was so depressed and felt so awful.

During COVID came an interest in orchids and growing other tropical houseplants. I enjoyed this so much I started my own business in May of 2021 called The Rare Plant Haus.

All throughout this time period I tried art classes of different sorts. I kept on moving even when I felt low and didn’t feel like moving my body.

Nurture side interests that you’re curious about while you perform your main passion because when you’re at the top of your craft, burnout your main passion is inevitable. 

It’s not just me saying burnout is inevitable. It’s human nature. It’s the 10 year/10,000 hour rule. At some point in your life, you’re going to want to change course and do something different.

If you wait until burnout occurs, you decide to leave your passion, and you haven’t nurtured anything else on the side, then you’re going to be a beginner and brand new at everything. Being a beginner at everything isn’t a bad thing, but you may not want to be like me and be the beginner at everything at the same time. Learning a LOT of new things at the same time is hard for anyone. It leads to the possibility of feeling like you’re not very good at anything. It’s not a fun way to feel.

If you nurture side interests you have and explore new things that aren’t front and center with your main passion, then you can enjoy being a beginner. You get to learn new things and find out what you like and don’t like about said interest and if you even want to pursue it or not. 

This advice is applicable to anyone, not just athletes. If you don’t nurture any side hobbies, then what happens when you don’t want to work in your field anymore? What other skills do you have to move into a new field? I would say none if you don’t spend time developing your other interests.

All of the things I thought I was bad at simply was because I was a beginner are now some of my main focuses: blogging and writing regularly as part of my business, wanting to live an active life again that does NOT involve dance, when I got back into fitness and movement I wanted to run, bike and swim. I’m not a beginner at any of these things anymore. I may not be great at them yet, but I know I enjoy them and can make a living doing them. These are all things I’m pursuing right now or will be very soon in the future.

What I need to ask myself now is: what’s next? The side things I did from 2011 to 2022 to build new interests are now my main focus. 

What new things am I going to try out and be a total beginner at so that I’ll have new interests when these passions I have now inevitably fade?

I’m aware that burnout will occur for me. I burnt out after 10 years of teaching dance. I burnt out after 12 years in the real estate/title examiner world. Based on my history, with work and athletics, I am asking myself right now, what would I like to do in the future so that I don’t (hopefully) repeat history and burn out with no clue as to what comes next. I don’t want to have to spend a decade developing new main passions because I lose interest in present day interests. 

If I take the time to nurture a new hobby or two now, then I reduce the chances of feeling lost and with a huge time void with nothing to fill said time. 

Burnout happens. You might fall out of love with the thing you enjoy the most. This doesn’t just happen to athletes. Many people start out in life with 9-5 job they enjoy and by the time they hit their 40s or 50s, they’re looking for what is next. Or worse…they get stuck. They stay because they don’t know what else to do.

What’s next for you? Need help figuring it out? Email me at sarathlete@hotmail.com.  Let’s talk it out.

Sarathlete

Picking the Lesser Of Two Evils: Which Would I Rather Do? Fun Interview and Getting-To-Know Me A Little Better

I’ve had this idea bubbling in my head as like a trivia post. It’s a self-interview and gives you a chance to get to know me a little bit better. So I’m going to ask myself a series of questions where I select the lesser of two evils and see which one I pick. 

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Sara, which would you rather do:

  1. Dance on pointe (ballet) or run a marathon?

Run a marathon.

  1. Have Christmas dinner with your parents or your in-laws?

Have Christmas dinner with my parents. 

  1. Go shopping at a crowded mall or or watch a comedy-style opera?

Watch a comedy-style opera

  1. Take ballroom dance lessons from a complete beginner or socialize at a party where I know no one?

Take ballroom dance lessons from a complete beginner.

  1. Attend faith night at the recovery center once a week or drive in Chicago (or any large city) traffic at rush hour every day for a month?

Drive in Chicago traffic at rush hour every day for a month.

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I’ve given myself a selection of two things I don’t enjoy, and I’ve selected the one I can tolerate, put up with, or would rather do over the other. Both options in each questions difficult for me for different reasons, but I have a preference for one or the other if I was presented the choice because I know which one is more tolerable than the other.

Sometimes that’s what we get in life. We can’t do exactly what we want and we have to compromise and pick the lesser of two evils. When life isn’t going your way and you have to make a choice, sometimes you have to pick what you think you can tolerate when neither choice is optimal or enjoyable. You choose based on your preferences and what you can stand.

I’d rather run a marathon than dance on pointe, not because either was easy for me, but running a marathon was easier and far less painful than dancing on pointe ever was.

I’d rather sit through Christmas dinner with my parents because I know that it’ll be a quiet experience vs. my in-laws who are very loud, gossipy, and will pick at me. My parents are quiet and passive aggressive and I can tolerate them over my in-laws any day.

I’d rather sit through a comedy-style opera than go shopping at a crowded mall because I can avoid the crowds that way. Comedy-style operas are my least favorite, but I’d sit through one any day over having to go to a crowded mall.

I’d rather take ballroom dance lessons from someone who knows basically nothing (yes, this is a real thing that happens in studios where the teacher is often one step ahead of their students) than have to socialize at a party with anyone I don’t know. 

I’d rather drive in rush hour Chicago traffic than attend faith night at the recovery center once a week because I don’t want to have god and faith shoved down my throat.

Sarathlete

Gratitude and Depression

In January 2019, I was laid off from my day job. My manager said the company’s intention was to rehire me if their workload picked up again. I had no return-to-work date. Being rehired was not a guarantee. I felt very low.

(Disclosure: While this post contains information about my experience with mental illness, this post is not intended to be medical advice. I am not a licensed, certified or trained medical professional. If you suffer from mental illness, I encourage you to seek help from licensed, certified medical professional.)

In 2004, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder by my doctor. Job losses, for me, trigger depressive episodes. During a depressive episode, negative thoughts arise which impact my behavior. When I’m feeling stable, activities such as getting out of bed and leaving the house every day are easy. Depressive episodes make those activities into hurdles difficult for me to leap over.

But no matter how I’m feeling, I enjoy listening to podcasts. Podcasts encourage my creativity and lift my spirits. After the layoff, I listened to a podcast host speak about the benefits of having a daily gratitude practice and how having a gratitude buddy helps with accountability to the practice. The podcast host was offering to match listeners with an email gratitude buddy with the intention of helping the audience cultivate their own daily gratitude practice. The rules—every day, email your gratitude buddy three things you are grateful for, and the buddy would reciprocate.

My inner voice said, “Sara, you need a gratitude buddy.” I listened to my inner voice.

Now I find that practicing gratitude every night allows me to reflect on the good parts of my day. I cannot be negative with gratitude, so I have to find the positive within the negative.

During low points, like being unemployed, my gratitude lists looked like this:

  • Grateful I got out of bed today.
  • Grateful I left the house today.
  • Grateful I went to the library to read some magazines.

These small acts feel like huge triumphs. I was jumping over previously difficult hurdles.

In March 2019, I received a re-hire offer from my then former employer. I accepted the offer. When I returned to work, my confidence rose and my negative thoughts subsided. My gratitude lists developed and now look more like this:

  • Grateful I got a good workout in at the gym.
  • Grateful I went to the opera with my mom.
  • Grateful I stayed in bed today for a chance to recharge and relax.
  • Grateful for my job.
  • Grateful for my gratitude buddy emailing me every day.

I learned how to shift my perspective from negative thoughts to positive ones while I was going through a bad situation. I continued practicing gratitude during the good times, and that practice developed a daily habit. That daily habit is a new skill I can add to my arsenal to continue living with my depression. Stressful situations have arisen since the layoff, and I keep going with my gratitude practice. I keep showing up and finding the good within the bad.

I take medication for my depression in addition to my gratitude practice. I’ve taken medication much longer than I’ve been practicing gratitude. Medication and gratitude, in my opinion, are not cures for depression. Medication helps my moods stay stable. Gratitude helps me deal with thoughts. My gratitude practice helps me find light when I feel like I’m in darkness and the medication helps me stay in that positive zone. Medication and gratitude are a good combination for me.

If you are reading this, I’d like you to know I’m grateful for you, dear reader! Thank you for reading my blog posts.

You can always connect with me, ask me questions, or tell me about you at sarathlete@hotmail.com. I’d love to connect with you!

Sarathlete

Finding Bliss

I found bliss today.

See…

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Bliss was waiting for me at the Cherry Avenue intersection.

There was beauty every direction I looked today. Recognizing beauty on the same street was as simple as looking left and right and up and down.

So, at the intersection of Bliss and Cherry I saw this massive view of Chicago on one side of me…

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And I saw this bird’s eye view on the other side…

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Bliss led me to beauty. I had to work (not so) hard to find the beauty.

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. And I can say that beyond a shadow of a doubt because I was there!

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Keep your eyes open people! Beauty could be staring you right in the face. And you may not have to look for beauty on Bliss Street! Beauty might be on Cherry Avenue instead!

Namaste,

Sarathlete

Art Kitchen

I’ve always had a fascination with making food smile since I was a little girl. I would take vegetables, fruit, egg yolks or pretty much any food I could get my hands on and find a way to make two eyes, a nose and a smile out of the materials available. I started doing this as a surprise for my mom. Whatever materials she was using to make us a meal were the materials I would use for my kitchen art creations. When my mother wasn’t looking I would assemble the food she was using into a smiling face, leave the room and wait.

I would wait to hear my mom laugh. She would discover my creation and laugh and say, “Oh Sara.” She may have sounded annoyed on the surface, but deep down I know she loved it!

Because I kept creating kitchen art for my mom to make her laugh we decided that this smiling creation needed a name. We decided on Art Kitchen. First name: Art. Last name: Kitchen.

I kept creating various versions of Art Kitchen into adulthood. Thankfully my husband Pete, much like my mother, finds Art Kitchen humorous. The surprise is the kicker. Assembling the ingredients and leaving the room and waiting to hear the person laugh is so satisfying to me. Knowing that I’ve made someone smile and laugh makes me feel good inside!

Here are two pictures of Art Kitchen that I’ve made for my husband over the 10 years we have been together:

Art Kitchen appears as smiling pasta:

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Art Kitchen appears as a smiling peanut butter and jelly sandwich base with carrots topping the bread for the eyes and above the eyes as eyebrows and a bed of potato chips for the smile.

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In my 33 years on this planet I’ve never seen food smile on its own. Nature is a curious thing. Pete cut open a pineapple one day. He called me into the kitchen. The pineapple had its own smiling face! So I decided to dress up nature’s version of Art Kitchen with a hat and body. I had to add my own flourish to nature’s version of Art Kitchen seen below.

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I hope my kitchen art creations made you smile and laugh!

Namaste,

Sarathlete

The Gift of Movement

A wiggle. A waddle. A bob and weave. A hand stand. A walk in the park. A bike ride. A foxtrot. A cartwheel. It doesn’t matter how or where or when but we were made to move.

Dancing and yoga and walking in the city and biking down paths and country roads are the forms of movement I’m most into right now.

I am sarathlete! I’m on the move!

I’m so grateful for the ability to be able to move. I was inspired to write this post today by my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law can barely move. I had lunch with Pete’s side of the family today. My mother-in-law is in her early seventies. She’s so overweight she couldn’t walk from the booth to the front door of the restaurant today without being out of breath and having to sit down before she walked out to the car. Her back hurt. She was out of breath. Want to know why? Because she barely moves. She will tell you that she cannot move. She sits in a chair all day and chooses not to move. Instead of trying to to things for herself my mother-in-law chooses to order her husband around all day having him do simple tasks like getting her food or whatever.

I don’t feel sorry for my mother-in-law. I’m not taking pity or making a judgment of her. This is my observation of her.

Watching my mother-in-law today made me so grateful for the gift of movement. I don’t envy her choice not to move at all. I’m also grateful, as a friend once said, that I still have all of my original factory parts! My mother-in-law was such an inspiration to move that I came home and went on a fast 20 mile bike ride. I pushed myself harder on that ride than I ever have when I’ve ridden in the past. Why? Because I could.

I can move. You can move. The choice to move is up to the individual.

For me movement gives me freedom, provides a means of transportation, gives me a form of emotional and physical expression. Movement fulfills me and helps me sustain my life. Movement makes me joyous.

I hope you choose to move because movement makes like so beautiful and interesting, in my opinion! I love it!

If you choose to move then honor yourself and your movement by moving right now. Get up and do a happy dance. Do tree pose. Go jump in a lake. Make a joyful noise. Why? Because you can. You made your choice. Relish in that fact.

Life is a gift. Live it. Move it. Shake it up a bit! Get out of breath once in a while! We can’t choose to move when we die. So move now and celebrate the wonderfully fabulous gift of life!

Namaste!

Sarathlete

Me after a glorious 4 mile walk in Chicago! So happy!

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Selfies

Selfies have been around for years. Why do you think old fashioned cameras had the timer on them giving you enough time to get yourself into the picture.

I realized why selfies are so important this morning. Selfies are important because they humanize a photo and make it more relatable to people.

For instance, here’s a picture I took on my lunch hour in Chicago:

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To me, it’s a gorgeous shot of downtown Chicago. But to you, my fabulous reader, it’s just another picture of downtown Chicago that I happen to think is gorgeous. But you may not view it that way.

I’ve been practicing taking selfies this week. I’m not the best selfie taker! I’m getting better.

Here was my first attempt on my iPad before I figured out that pressing the button on the tap screen only put my fingers in the way of the camera.

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My husband says I look happy-scared! I was just glad to take the selfie. Even the picture of me looks goofy, in some ways, it’s more fun to look at because there’s a human in the photo. I took this picture at work (when I probably should’ve been working—ssssshhhhhhh don’t tell!!!!!!).

Let’s go back to Chicago and the downtown shot. Here’s a more improved selfie in the same location:

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You can see Chicago in the background. At the same time you also see me. Maybe not my best photo in the world, but there’s still a human in the picture. The human part is cool because it adds another element to the picture called emotion. There’s smiling going on which usually means happiness! That smile is darn right genuine because I was in a location I enjoy and also because I figured out how to take a selfie properly on my iPad! You press the right volume button (the button closest to the ringer on/off button). Aaaahhhhhh that moment when you get it right! What a relief! What a happy moment!

Be happy! Be sad! Be mad! Be whatever you want to be. Take photos and put yourself in them sometimes. The photos are more interesting because you can and other people can connect and relate to them more easily. The photos and selfies reflect you living your life and how you felt at that moment in time. The photo itself becomes its own interesting story!

Namaste,
Sarathlete

Meet the Sawochka-Daltons!

(Check out my “What’s in a Name?” post before you read this. This post will be much clearer if you do.)

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After yesterday’s visit to the Social Security office Pete and I are now legally known as Sara Sawochka-Dalton and Pete Sawochka-Dalton.

My last name change hasn’t taken on too much attention because most people expect a woman will either stay with her maiden name or hyphenate her maiden name with her married name.

But I’ve been fascinated by people’s responses, both negative and positive, to Pete’s last name change.

Pete’s last name change has received the strongest positive response from women (with a few exceptions). Female friends, co-workers and family that we’ve told generally have been in favor of Pete changing his last name to take on my last name in addition to his own. Women have also been the most appreciative of his change. Men’s responses generally have been more ambivalent—they think it’s a bit odd and typically want to know why he bothered.

One exception to the generally favorable response from woman has been Pete’s mother. After our visit to the Social Security office, Pete called his mother to let her know about his new last name. Pete’s mother asked why he did that because men don’t do that—at least she’s never heard of the man hyphenating his last name. Legally, of course, any couple can change their last names the way Pete and I did.

But most don’t, because the idea that a woman should take the man’s last name, but not the reverse, is a tradition in our culture. This tradition comes from the stale, patrilineal belief that upon marriage a woman becomes a part of the man’s family (and even the man’s property in many times and places), so she must change her last name to reflect her new family’s (owner’s) last name. But marriage isn’t a one-way union, and no woman should be considered property of any man (or vice versa) in a day where women and men have equal rights. I’m a member of a two-party union. However, I do not belong to Pete and Pete does not belong to me.

We aren’t the only married couple in the country that has legally done a dual last name change. We won’t be the last. I’ve read stories where the man even takes on the wife’s last name only, with no hyphenation.

I’ve learned that my husband is more of an out-of-the-box thinker than I’ve ever given him credit for. Pete went against the norm to change his last name change. I’m so proud of him! When I presented my idea of both of us changing our names, Pete was open to it. Pete didn’t see any arguments against it.

It takes guts for a man to change his last name. I admire and very much appreciate Pete so much for his decision and willingness to make the change! To me, the change shows that he honors our union as much as I do, and our newly combined last names reflect that honor!

Namaste,

Sara Sawochka-Dalton

“What’s in a Name?”

First of all I’d like to wish my husband, Pete Sawochka, a happy 2nd wedding anniversary in advance. Our anniversary is this Sunday, April 13, 2014!

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My father-in-law and mother-in-law sent us a cute card and a monetary gift for us to put towards our annual trip to Bloomington, Indiana. We received this monetary gift in the form of a check made out to: Pete and Sara Sawochka. Both of us are very appreciative of the gift towards our trip! There is one problem with that check, though.

Legally the “Sara Sawochka” on the check doesn’t exist! And soon the “Pete Sawochka” on the check won’t exist either.

When we got married two years ago my intent was to keep my maiden name—Dalton. After the wedding I decided I should probably adopt my husband’s last name of Sawochka. That’s what most women do after they get married. I told my employer that I wanted a new name plate to read “Sara Sawochka” and I changed my last name on Facebook from Dalton to Sawochka. Legally I did nothing. Two years later I’m still Sara Dalton.

About six months or so ago I finally got the urge to change my last name to something completely different. And not only did I want to change my last name but I wanted my husband to change with me. I asked Pete if he would mind changing his last name as well to reflect the combination of both of our names together. Pete agreed and said he was willing to make the name change as well. My plan was to hyphenate both of our last names to either be Pete and Sara Sawochka-Dalton or Dalton-Sawochka.

Why did I want my husband to change his name to match mine? The reason is that I define marriage as a union of two people’s lives. The two people, in my opinion, can be any gender combination (male–male, female-female or male-female). I believe, as a part of that union of two lives, the names should reflect the legacy of both parties involved.

This is not the traditional way we do things in this country. However this country is changing. With gay marriage becoming legal in more and more states terms such as “maiden name” will become part of the past—even in the traditional marriage of a male and female. Think about it like this—in a marriage between two men there is no “maiden name” to be found. Neither is a maiden!

As a part of the celebration of our 2nd anniversary I’ve finally decided to head to the Social Security Office to make a name change. I even took off Monday 4/14/2014 so I’d have time to do this. Pete and I are still discussing what order the combination of names will go in. The important thing is that we’re going to make the change together to reflect the union of our lives that we made two years ago.

Namaste,
Sara