Category Archives: challenge

A Year to Remember

As you may recall, I kept myself pretty busy during December. After crafting holiday sweaters, making stockings, holiday shopping for both the family I “adopted” and my own family, and doing a few small crafts for The Boy’s family, I ran out of time (and effort) to do something for my coworkers. It’s not that I don’t value them as much, but I figured seeing almost all of my holiday sweaters was gift enough, at least for the time being.

However, over my short holiday break, I put together a gift for each of them. Knowing that they’d be getting the gift after both Christmas and New Years, I wanted to make sure my gift wasn’t too holiday specific and semi-practical.

What I ended up making for each of them is a 2014 memory jar, or a jar in which you collect memories throughout the year and then on New Year’s Eve you look through your memories to remember all the little things that made the year great. This concept is all over Pinterest, and I’ve always wanted to do it myself, but have never gotten around to it because I didn’t have a cute jar to collect these memories in. Thus, I figured if I removed the obstacle that prevented me from starting, I could probably get others to do it as well.

Using jars, wired ribbon, one garland, twine, and some hot glue, these are the jars I crafted for my wonderful coworkers.

all-jars

As one might suspect, the ones with flowers were for the ladies.

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ladies-4

ladies-1

ladies-3

With the flower jars going to the ladies, the non-flower jars went to the guys. And no, your eyes are not mistaken, the jars for the guys are smaller because I figured they were less likely to buy into the concept. But, just as the jars for the ladies were, each guy jar was unique too.

guys-3

guys-2

guys-1

Overall, these jars were really well received. In fact, my coworkers liked them a lot more than I anticipated, expressing to me their intent to collect memories throughout the year. Most of my coworkers have kept their jar at work simply because seeing it on their desk is a consistent reminder to contribute memories as they happen; and, several of them have since added memories to their jars. It could be like many new year resolutions in that their interest in the idea fades, but if nothing else, many of them will have at least a small handful of memories to look back on.

Here’s to 2014 being a memorable year!

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Back in action!

After a few months of inactivity on my blog, I am happy to announce that I am back in action! As my final semester of school (ever!) wraps up, I have started to run, scooter, craft, read, and enjoy my free time again.

While I’ve kept myself busy with many things these past few months, the biggest time suck my  largest accomplishment was the completion of my professional project for my master’s degree. Unlike most of my academic peers, who work on their projects over the course of a year, I did mine in a matter of three months (while still working, coaching lots of volleyball, and maintaining some degree of a social life).

Due to my non-traditional and very compact project timeline, my project committee initially expressed serious concern that I would not be able to finish a full-fledged, degree-cumulative professional project in one semester, which would thereby prolong my graduation. However, my committee obviously does not know how I operate, because if someone doubts me, I am more determined to prove that person wrong than to accomplish the actual task at hand. Plus under no circumstances was I willing to delay my graduation. So, with significant support from my friends, family and co-workers (a special shout out to two co-workers who edited the 100+ page document for me), I cranked it out. And, I must said, it is a masterpiece. Seriously, my project committee thoroughly complimented my final project—and in my head, I thought to myself, “And you doubted me. Ha. Chumps.” (I hope they aren’t reading this!)

Anyway, it turned out to be a really interesting project. For those of you that are curious about the topic, here’s my abstract:

Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is a statewide network designed to connect, empower and retain young Nebraskans. Due to the geographic spread of its members, the CYN network functions as a virtual community—a group of people who primarily interact through electronic means. With CYN approaching a period of organizational transition, this project is a social and community plan for CYN. The project describes the network, summarizes the key issues facing the network, and recommends strategies to minimize issues and strengthen the network. More specifically, the plan addresses how CYN can evolve so as to ensure the sustainability and continued success of the network. As the basis for developing alternatives and a recommendation for CYN to move forward, this project synthesizes the findings of three independent but related endeavors. First, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of current research relevant to virtual communities, with an emphasis on the attributes and sustainability factors of virtual communities. Second, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of a recent social network analysis performed on the CYN network by an outside firm. Third, this project summarizes and discusses the implications of a two-part, virtual facilitated model building exercise that was conducted with the network’s steering committee. After completion of the three project endeavors, there was thoughtful synthesis and reflection regarding the project, complete with recommendations for the CYN network. This final document was prepared with the intent to help the current CYN network leadership explore the best alternatives and options for CYN as it moves forward, as well as to identify how the network can remain relevant and beneficial to its members.

And for the few that are interested in reading it, or perhaps just perusing it because of its length, you are welcome to read the full document.

While the experience of completing a professional project was good for me, I am glad it is behind me. In fact, as of Friday I’ve been officially done with school, or at least the work part of it. The only thing I have left is picking up my diploma.

After enjoying my first homework-free weekend, I really cannot put in words how great it feels to be done with schoolwork. Not only do I not have to devote chunks of my limited free time to completing silly assignments, I am also free of the guilt that comes along with choosing a social or personal activity over homework. Also (and true to my Gebhart name) I get to read for fun. In fact, that’s how I spent my free time this past weekend. And, it was amazing, especially since the weather was nice and I got to read outside on Saturday (not Sunday though, because Saturday resulted in a small sunburn, whoops..).

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend and I actually feel rested and ready for the week. I think I can get used to these relaxing weekends. 🙂

As a side note, and a teaser for future blog posts, during the flurry of my project, my employer gave me my own office at work, which I, of course, felt obligated to decorate creatively. Dakota Lizzie already revealed it, but I’ll actually blog about it soon. And, as my project came to an end, I completed two craft projects that I am super proud of: the first was a t-shirt quilt for a friend and the second was a end-of-the-year volleyball gift for my 13-year-old team. So, keep an eye out for blog updates on those!

Day 31: Gave Up

Miles, IOU’d: 2.4
Miles to date: 77.6

This might be a personal low for me — I gave up on Janathon, on the last day.

Why did I give up? Two reasons: first, it was, once again, freezing cold out; and second, I woke up with a headache that very well might have been a migraine. Remembering the lesson I learned the hard way, I knew better than to run with a headache, And, since I believed my headache stemmed from my back over compensating for elderly-like hips, I decided running on sore hips would only make my headache worse. So, I skipped the morning run and decided if  my headache subsided by lunch, I would attempt to at least walk my 2.4 miles.

So off to work I went, where I proceeded to spend all day with my office lights off because the light only made my headache worse. I tried stretching, but when I tipped my head forward to stretch my neck out, it fell like a spider web of daggers in my back. After feeling this crippling pain, I decided I had to do something about this and I started looking up chiropractors.

I’ve never been to a chiropractor before, and being my father’s daughter, I’m a bit skeptical of them. However, when I can’t wear pants without sharp pains in my hip and if I can’t look down without feeling like I’m laying on a bed of nails, I figured it was a least worth a try.

Choosing a place that takes walk-ins, I made my way to the chiropractor after work. On my way there, I told myself to give chiropractics a chance — I’d wait until after the adjustment to confirm or deny my skepticism.

The chiropractor was a nice guy, and he walked me through the process before he did anything. After identifying more than a handful of “needed adjustments” and an out of line pelvis, the adjustment began…

I can honestly say I never want to hear that much cracking and popping come out of my back ever again, and I seriously almost soiled myself when he adjusted my neck. Perhaps it was the proximity of the cracking and popping to my ear, but after hearing the adjustment of my neck, I thought to myself, “am I alive?” because it sounded exactly like an assassin’s neck snap.

While I am not sold on the cracking of my neck and back, I actually enjoyed the adjustment of my pelvis. Immediately after he adjusted it, I felt some relief. How long that will last (and whether it was healthy or not) has yet to be determined. However, being pleased with the relief (temporary as it might be) I did decide to do one visit a week for a month (and for a very reasonable price). I can’t say I’m completely on board the chiropractic train, but I’m willing to give it an honest try.

Even though the chiropractor “cleared” me for exercise, and even encouraged it, I still opted to not run today. I’ll still be active today and in the near future, but until it warms up, I am cutting back on the running. My hips really cannot take it in such cold weather.

So, while I’m disappointed in my last minute decision to give up, I am also really proud of myself for not only listening to my body, but also preventing further injury/damage. Those of you that know me, already know this, but for me to cave in and finally visit a chiropractor says a lot about the level of pain I was in, not to mention the fact that I set aside a personal goal. That’s not me, at all. But, I knew it was in my best interest.

Plus, even though I didn’t complete Janathon and I lost the my friendly wager with Caryn, I have a lot to be proud of…

  1. ran 29 out of the 31 days of January. Personally, I find this impressive because I was relatively sedentary in December.
  2. Every run was OUTSIDE. I doubt many other Janathon participants can say that everyone of their workouts was outside. I can. All but two days, I braved January weather.
  3. All together, I covered 77.6 miles on foot. This is probably farther than some people will go all year — and I’m happy to report that most of these miles were running, not walking.

Congratulations to Caryn for winning the wager. It was a close race in the end, but my hips forced me to gracefully bow out. I look forward to celebrating with you over sushi happy hour (at my expense, of course).

Also, great work to all the Janathon participants, regardless of whether or not you finished the challenge.

I’m glad I did Janathon, but I’ll be taking it easy for the next few days; and, I am pretty sure, I won’t be attempting it next year.


Nine Inch Nails – Gave Up

Day 30: Running In Place

Miles, run: .5
Miles, walked: 2.25
Miles to date: 77.6

Today was a bad day for Janathon because it put the nail in my coffin. As of yesterday’s totals, the friendly wager between Caryn and I was close — Caryn was leading me by just one quarter of a mile. Seeing these totals, I thought this would be an interesting race to the finish line. But then, the snow hit…

This morning, I woke up to half a foot of snow. Being born and raised in South Dakota, snow has never really phased me much and it still doesn’t, except when I have to run in it. Knowing it would be a rough run with sore hips and a snow-covered trail, I bundled up and braved the 21 (feeling like 4) degree air.

Like I expected (and quite understandably), the trails had yet to cleared.

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And, also as I expected there weren’t very many foot prints of early-morning runners that I could follow. In fact there was only one set of foot tracks, and I’m convinced a giant left them because my stride was barley half that of the tracks. I am also convinced these tracks were left by a giant because running through half a foot of snow is like doing high knees for an extended period of time — and no one except a giant could have that large of a stride in that deep of snow. Seriously, I was in over my ankles and struggling to get foot clearance.

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Due to the difficulty of running in the snow, I only accomplished one half of a mile, which was really disappointing to my hope to chip away at the five miles left between me and my Janathon goal of 80 miles. Anyway, I gave into Mother Nature’s cruel hand and went on my day.

Unfortunately, today was the day my hips officially decided they’ve had enough. Standing while coaching on Sunday, 8 miles on Monday and 5 miles on Tuesday left my hips vulnerable, but the cold air from today pushed me over the edge. It started with sharp, shooting pains in my left hip (which was particularly concerning since my right hip is the problem one), and it continued on throughout the day. It hurts to walk. It hurts to stand. It hurts to sit. It hurts to wear a belt.

Bound and determined, however, to meet my personal goal, I braved the cold once again for a walk over the noon hour. It was still cold. It was still windy. It was still slick out. And my hips worsened with every step. But, I am 2.25 miles closer to my 80-mile mark. Only, 2.4 miles to go — but the question is, can my hips do 2.4 miles tomorrow?!

Right now, I feel like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t because I can give one final push and beat Caryn but cause my body a lot of pain or I can meet my personal goal of 80 miles and lose the bet.

Given that I signed up for Janathon for myself, and the wager with Caryn was just extra incentive, I’m going to be good to myself. I’m going to hit my 80 miles (even if I have to crawl) and call it good. I would love to win our friendly wager, but I would also like to be able to walk on February 1…

10 Years – Running In Place

Day 29: Take a walk

Miles: 5
Miles to date: 74.85

After an 8-mile day yesterday, I decided to be nice to my body and take a walk. Mostly for the sake of time, but also to work out any built up lactic acid, I ran about 2 of the 5 miles.

Interestingly enough, I also came across a sight I’d never seen before: a visually-impaired man, equipped with a white walking stick, was out running. This was particularly inspiring to me for two reasons. First, I was running near an elementary school that, just recently, dedicated a walking/running track to a little guy named Thatcher. Second, here was a man who can barely see, still pursuing ordinary things that many of us take for granted. More often than not, I gripe and moan about having to run and exercise, but I often forget, at least I can. Just yesterday I mentioned that the fog was nice because I couldn’t see how far I needed to go/how slow I was running — and here is this guy, who probably runs in some sort of fog everyday. I bet he would love to be able to see where he is running, even if just for one day. This man, whoever he is, slapped me across the face, metaphorically, that is. He reminded me that I need to appreciate what I, too often, take for granted.

With a new-found appreciation for running, I was enjoying my walk/run. However, this was not the case for Pandora, which was having a rough morning finding the “right” songs for the station I was listening to. Like the other day, I was listening to a station seeded with “Work Out” by J Cole and “Criminal” by Britney Spears. (Please, don’t judge my taste in music on this station. I created this station to embrace genres different than the ones I tend to gravitate toward.) Despite these seeds and my liking of tracks by Fabulous, Baby Bash, Wiz Khalifa and Gym Class Heroes — all of which are more rappy and slow jammy — Pandora kept trying to play Adele. I love Adele, but after listening to “Cookie Jar” by Gym Class Heroes or “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa, an Adele song is like Switchfoot doing the encore at an Eminem concert. It just doesn’t fit. And, looking back at my “thumbed down” tracks on this station, I gave Adele a thumbs down, three times this morning. Why oh why did Pandora think Adele fit in this genre? I’m not sure, but I think I’m going to have to edit this station and better “seed it,” if you will.

Passion Pit – Take A Walk

Day 28: Million Miles

Miles, run #1: 3.5
Miles, walked over lunch hour: 1.5
Miles, run #2: 3.0
Miles to date: 69.85

Today was a big day for making up mileage. It started with a 3.5 mile run in the morning, a brisk 1.5 mile walk over the noon hour, and a 3 mile run after work. I can already tell I am going sore tomorrow, but I enjoyed most of my miles. Knowing it was going to be a long day of running, I felt music would be in my best interest, and I will say, running to the beat of music really helped me today.

The other thing working in my favor today was the dense fog. Seriously, it was really foggy. During my morning run, the fog lightened some, but it was a different story during my post-work run. Towards the end of my post-work run, I could only see, oh, about 50 meters ahead of me. Running through a wooded area, the fog increased the creepy factor, but not being able to see landmarks ahead of me actually helped me focus on things other than my pace.

Anyway, with today’s big mileage accomplishment, I am only 3 days and 10.15 miles away from my personal 80 mile goal. Realistically, 10.15 miles is completely do-able, but right now, I feel like it’s a million miles.

Fuel – Million Miles

Day 27: a relaxing night

Miles: .25 mile

Having coached a volleyball tournament today (we won the silver division, if you care) and with it being cloudy and dreary out, I had little motivation to run today – so I took it easy.

While I know this decision doesn’t help me in my 80-mile goal or in my mileage competition with Caryn, my body and brain are appreciative. I love coaching volleyball and I’ve got a great group of 13 year olds, but tournaments take a lot out of a coach. A night of relaxation was needed.

Tomorrow, though, I begin making up for lost mileage…

Day 26: Work out

Miles: 5
Miles to date: 61.6

Today I actually listened to music during my run — well part of my run because my phone died halfway through —  and I really enjoyed it. Normally, I run with nothing but my house key (which you may remember from my locked-out fiasco), but today I made an exception because I was semi-expecting a call from my older sister.

As I awaited a phone call, and until my battery died, I listened to Pandora. The station I ran to (seeded by the song below) gave me an interesting line up of songs, perhaps most notable was T-Pain’s “I’m In Love With A Stripper.” I’ve never been a huge fan of this song, but I actually enjoyed it because I haven’t heard it for so long. And, for some reason, it reminds me of my AP Lit & Comp class in high school. I know how strange that sounds, but I’m thinking it was someone’s ringtone that went off in class one day. Regardless, the song got me thinking of high school, which made for some interesting running thoughts.

Also, on my way I crossed paths with another runner who was also listening to music on her phone. How am I sure of this? She wasn’t using headphones and had the music playing out of her phone’s speakers. Then I thought to myself — why don’t I don’t I do that?! Part of the reason I don’t run with music is because I HATE wearing headphones when I run. The earbud movements annoys me, the cord drives me nuts and I’m too lazy to carry anything (and too cheap to buy an arm band). However, I wondered if this is proper etiquette. For awhile, I thought this was a little rude, but in the end, this runner only “disturbed” me for a minute at the most as we cross paths, so I don’t think it’s really an issue.

Bottom line, I think I’m going to run with music for the next few days. Perhaps, I might even leave the headphones at home…

J Cole – Work Out

Day 25: Out of my head

Miles: 3
Miles to date: 56.6

Against my better judgement and contrary to common sense, I set off on my run today with a headache. And, let me tell you, I am now paying for my poor decision.

Today it is gorgeous out, which is hard to believe given how cold it was yesterday, but hey, I live in Nebraska… Anyway, today it is gorgeous so I thought to myself, today is the perfect day to make up some mileage that I missed out on yesterday. So, with a small, dull pain above my right eye, I set off on my run.

Not even two minutes later, my small, dull headache became a throbbing, eye-closing headache. But, two minutes into my run, I told myself, you’ve already committed, so keep going.

In the end I went 3 miles. All but the first quarter of a mile was painful, and I’m kind of kicking myself for doing that. However, since I’ve been home, I’ve been drinking plenty of water (because I think the headache all stemmed from being dehydrated) and taking it easy. Unfortunately  Fridays are my day to work on my graduate project and my headache is not allowing me to be very productive. But, I guess that’s what I get for not listening to my body this morning.

Puddle of Mudd – Out Of My Head

You know what else? Puddle of Mudd does little to help a headache.

Day 24: So cold

Miles: 0
Miles to date: 53.6

Today I decided it was too cold to run. When I woke up, it was only 5 degrees out — and it felt colder than that. Due to the cold and my busy morning, I reasoned that it’d be best to run after work, if it warmed up. Then after work came and it was so cold I opted to ran to my car, only to find my gas light on. So, as I filled up my tank (only half because it was so cold), I jumped in place to keep my blood moving.

When I got home, I decided, it was not in my best interest. My lungs wouldn’t be able to take it. My joints would be incredibly achy. And I would be incredibly grumpy. Therefore, I decided a big pot of chili and a night inside a warm house would be best.

Aside from the running to and from my car today, I didn’t run today. However, I did jump while pumping gas and I will be doing some core workouts as I watch The West Wing on Netflix tonight (thus, fulfilling the requirements of Janathon). I’m disappointed I’m forgoing my run everyday goal but it is seriously far too cold out to go running outdoors.

Breaking Benjamin – So Cold