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2019 Life Update
Happy December! It would seem the Fiscal Year of Caroline runs November to October because my Year of Fitness has come to an end, and my new year's theme, The Year of Creativity, is already in full swing!
In this newsletter:
The Year of Fitness & Lessons Learned
Announcing the Year of Creativity
The Year of Fitness
It started with a few sticky-notes as a way to discover the city, and grew into a monster bucket list! Over the past year, I:
joined an Open Water Swim Club
raced 3 Sprint triathlons (1/2 mi swim, 15 mi bike, 5k run)
competed in a 30-mile bike race
started running/biking to work for my commute
started volunteering as a scuba diver at the SF aquarium in the shark tank
competed in a 1-mi sprint relay
raced my 1st 5k (a bit out of order, yes I know)
joined a Triathlon Club
raced my 1st duathlon (1.7mi swim, 10k run)
raced my 1st Olympic triathlon (1 mi swim, 25 mi bike, 10k run)
I marked each milestone with an image from the day, the date, and the accomplishment. Check it out below!
(Animation moving too quickly and you want all the details? You can also go to my Year of Fitness page on my website to see each image.)
Whew, who would've thought I'd do all those things! As I look back, I learned a few key lessons:
1) Start Small
Follow the trail where ever it may go.
My original goal was simple: attend an open water group swim in San Francisco Bay. I had done it once in Hong Kong - where I cut myself on the shark nets, swam head-first into a dead fish, and was woefully less fit than my fellow swimmers - and for some reason, I wanted to experience that again, but in colder water.
That simple goal of swimming in the bay once evolved into joining a swim club (The South End) that prides itself on not wearing a wetsuit in 58F water temperatures, joining a triathlon club (Golden Gate Tri Club) that likes to bike up mountains at 6am before work, and ballooning out excessively to other bucket list items from there. And look where it led:
~ Last October, I swam a mile for the first time. In May, I swam over two miles.
~ Before this year, the farthest I had ever run was 4 miles in college... unintentionally. I had gotten lost. (Nothing like a cold Boston evening setting in to motivate you to get home). Last month, I ran a half marathon without stopping!
~ A year ago, I didn't even own a bike, and now... well, I'm still a terrible biker, ha! But I biked a 30-mile bike race, even though my butt hurt and I thought my legs were going to fall off.
~ One scuba trip last year evolved into getting certified for advanced open water, wrecks, nitrox, and dry suit. On my first dive, the dive master asked, "when was your last dive?" "...Four years ago." Now I volunteer twice a month at the aquarium and feed the sharks! My sister Mary Patton and I also successfully organized an 8-person dive trip to Honduras this November. Can you believe people trusted me enough to follow me to a different country (and allow me to force them to wear mermaid pants)??
P.S. If you want to join the next scuba adventure, let me know!
My takeaway is, just start! Remove the obstacles (excuses) and rent that wetsuit! Who knows what crazy hobby it will evolve into.
2) Learn as You Go
How often do we get the opportunity to learn something new? To leave our domains of proficiency and put ourselves into a position of being a beginner again? For the last year, I've put myself into situations where I am far from being the most skilled in the room, and it's been embarrassing... I mean, freeing. Okay, maybe both.
~ A few months after buying my bike, I took it to Sports Basement with a flat tire, worried that I had broken it somehow. "What's wrong with my bike, what did I do?" The guy smiled patiently and told me, "you have to put air in your tires." To his credit, he didn't laugh.
~ At a track workout with the triathlon club, they split us up by asking, "what's your 10k time?" My answer was, "I have no idea, I've never run that far."
~ At a 6am group bike ride up Hawk Hill, the group leader asked, "what's your training regimen for your upcoming race?" My answer: "sometimes I bike, sometimes I run, sometimes I swim."
Only by showing up was I able to learn. Don't self-opt out from that discomfort! Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
3) Get Good at Being Bad
This might sound odd, but this past year, I've gotten really good at being bad .. well, I was already bad at things, so more like I got much better at being okay with being bad.
My favorite example of this was my first Olympic triathlon in September. I swam the first leg really fast, gaining a good lead, sucked on the bike portion, where all of those same people zipped back past me, and was slogging it out in the 10k. In true Caroline fashion, I had only run a 10k twice before this race, so my legs were like, what the hell is going on here.
This older woman in a Golden Gate Triathlon tri suit (my tri club) was running close to me. Our paces were similar and we kept passing each other. ( I run a 10 minute mile and a 10k is 6 miles, so we were passing each other a lot.) With two miles left, she caught back up to me and huffed out, "let's finish this together." We raced in the rest of the way together.
At the finish line, we high-fived. I was ecstatic I had finished, but slightly bummed that I didn't beat this older woman. She checked her watch and exclaimed, "wow, 3 hours, 16 minutes, amazing!"
I replied, looking down at my own watch, "3 hours, 16 minutes? Don't you mean 3 hours, 26 minutes?"
She laughed and replied, "oh honey, I don't think you realize how old I am. I was in the 40+ wave, the wave ten minutes after you!"
....Ego be damned, that 40+ lady got me over the finish line faster than I would've done it alone!
At my swim club, there's a handball court. I used to play racquetball and tennis with my dad so I felt I could pick it up easily. I loitered by the court until an older guy, maybe 55?, offered to teach me.
After a long session, I was dripping sweat, hands swollen. I felt great - handball championships here I come.
The guy turned to me and said, "we should play more often. I pulled my groin so my doctor told me I'm not allowed to work out, but this.... this works."
All I'm saying is, compete with yourself, not with others. Don't let your ego get in the way of a good time!
The Year of Creativity
So what's next? And, you might ask with a suspicious lift of your eyebrow, if your Year of Creativity started in November, why are you only updating us now?
Well, my friends, I've been writing away for the month of November! I successfully wrote a 200+ page novel for National Novel Writing Month. Every time my fingers twitched in desire to finish this newsletter, I forced myself back to the writing grindstone. So here we are now, delayed but satisfied with the results. A book has been born!
I'm giving it some space to sit and age (fester?) until I revisit it again in January for some revisions. And then we shall see where this book may go!
What's the book about? A young adult dystopian novel set in a post-global warming flooded world. I know, shocker. I wrote about the ocean...
1,667 words every day! My record: 5,000 words in a single day
But wait, there's more! In November, I sang with my acapella group in front of 200+ people at Techapella, which is exactly what it sounds like - a bunch of tech nerds singing acapella.
I can't tell you yet where the Year of Creativity will lead, but if its anything like this past year, I'm sure I'll find some exciting trails to follow, and some great opportunities to royally mess up.
Guess What, I Have a Job!
I don't talk about work much, but for those of you who have been asking, "did you quit your job and work at the aquarium? Are you now a marine biologist?" (Girl can dream.) The answer is no. I still work at LinkedIn! In fact, I:
was promoted this past January
have been managing a team of two since May
won the Cross-Functional MVP Award at our annual Sales Kickoff in July in front of 600+ of my LinkedIn Learning peers
P.S. This gold jacket is given as award within Linkedin Learning. The gold jacket in the above acapella photos is from Amazon. So, yes, I have two shiny gold jackets.
The project I've been working on for the past 2.5 years winds down in January, so stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on my next new project!
Things I'm Loving
Such an easy way to stay in touch! (And you know I love that!) Snag a few photos from your well-organized Google Photos, add a short note, and voila - a thoughtful postcard on its way. No stamps or envelopes needed.
One-Touch to Inbox Zero [article]
Yes, we've all heard of the mythical Inbox Zero and nod in enthusiastic agreement at the concept, but this article has practical, implementable workflows for processing the noise and clutter in your life.
So many great tips for reducing interruptions from your smartphone. My biggest discovery? The swipe keyboard, where I can type rapidly with just one finger!
The Pomodoro Method
A recommended writing approach I used during National Novel Writing Month was 3x30x10: 3 sets of 30 minutes of writing (no interruptions!) followed by a 10 minute break.
The Pomodoro Method is very similar: 25 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by a five minute break, then repeat. I'd heard of Pomodoro before and was like yea, yea, you just focus for a while then take a break, no big deal. But by golly, it works. My writing slots always became anything-but-writing slots.. suddenly every household chore was tackled, every family member received a friendly phone call, I found every small task to hop on instead of writing.
With these dedicated time slots, I would twitch to check my phone or open my email, but I wouldn't let myself... it's only 30 minutes, stay focused, Caroline. By the end of the slot, I gave myself my break, and then went straight back into it.
Okay, I'm all out of updates finally! Happy 2019.
Love to you all,
P.S. I send this newsletter out monthly at most (current trend is quarterly). If you do not want to receive it, unsubscribe below and I will not re-add you.
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