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How to Grow a Muscle and Other Motivational Tools

So I just finished my workout with Jillian for today, and I’m writing this post while still sitting in a puddle of my own sweat because I’m suddenly, inexplicably motivated.  And these days motivation seems hard to come by, so I grab it when I can.

You know how it is when life just doesn’t seem to be going the direction you want, so you find yourself in a bit of a slump, and it gets harder and harder to pull yourself out of the slump over time?  To use an over-used analogy, it’s like quicksand.  The harder you struggle, the deeper you get, and eventually you just want to give up.  Lethargy becomes second nature.  Even the idea of picking a recipe for dinner and going to the grocery store for the ingredients seems like too much work, because didn’t I just do that two days ago?  And what’s the point if it’s just going to be the same thing, day after day?

If you’ve never known that feeling, then I envy you.  Truly.  But if you have, I’m here to tell you that you can’t let it hold you down.  In fact, all you can do is keep struggling against the quicksand, and eventually you’ll see progress.*

*Actually that’s not true – if you’re literally stuck in quicksand, I’ve heard you shouldn’t struggle because you will get pulled under.  So wow… what a f*cked up analogy.

For the time-being, I’m doing little things that have started improving my opinion of my own self-worth.

1.  This blog.  Sure, it’s mostly just a bunch of introspective rambling and random recipes and an overall log of some (but definitely not all) of my most notable life experiences, but it’s my blog.  It’s my thing that I do when I need an outlet.  Some people journal, some people play guitar, some people paint.  I blog.

Photo source:  Me

2.  Found a job.  Okay, so waiting tables at a bar isn’t exactly the dream job I hoped I might find when I quit the cubicle all those months ago.  But in a way, at least for right now, it fits my personality so much better.  No one looks at me funny when I randomly start singing, because I’m just singing with the night’s performer and everyone else is doing the same thing.  And I’m no longer getting strange looks for taking running leaps down the hallway or pretending I’m on an escalator behind someone’s cubicle glass, because I don’t have excess energy to expend at this job and therefore don’t act quite so entirely nutty.  I’m always moving.

So while I still do aspire to do something more meaningful to me, this definitely works for now.

Photo source

3.  Working out.  This isn’t a New Year’s resolution for me.  In fact, you know my resolution is to be worthy of a holiday letter, so working out really has nothing to do with it.  (Unless I end up saving someone’s life by lifting an SUV off of someone who’s crushed underneath it because I’ve been working out and am now obviously strong enough to walk around town lifting SUVs off of people.  Now that would be letter-worthy.)

I’ve never been one of those people who gets a high from working out.  In fact, it usually leaves me feeling sweaty and exhausted and there’s only one type of scenario I can think of that leaves me in the same condition and I feel really good afterwards instead of tired and disgusting.  And working out with Jillian Michaels ain’t it.

But I do it because I know it’s good for me.  Like flossing and not consuming a diet exclusively comprised of cheese.  And today, after I was finished, I noticed an actual muscle!

And yes, I took a picture.

And yes, I’m about to show it to you.

So don’t laugh.

For me, this is BIG.

Woohoo!  Maybe this is the workout high people are talking about – that point where you finally notice some progress.

So right now I’m feeling pretty good.  I wrote a blog post, I grew a muscle, and I might make a little money tonight.  Motivation is creeping back into my life.  And I wanted you to know, even though my posts have been a bit emo as of late, that I’m not just sitting here, all pitiful and lethargic day after day.  (Well I’m literally sitting here now, in a puddle of my own sweat, no less, but my point is that I’m not just a couch-drooling zombie.)

What I want to know is, what do you do to pull yourself out of it when you’re feeling a little slumpy?

V is for Validation

Okay, it’s that time.

What time?

You know what time.  Resolution time.

This year I’m keeping it simple.  None of this “I’m going to read 587 best-selling novels, earn a 43% pay increase (which in my case wouldn’t actually be that difficult at this point), and have a body like Jillian Michaels by the end of the year” bullshit.

Nope.  My resolution is to make myself worthy of mention in my mom’s 2011 holiday letter.  And not just a quickie single-line nod to the fact that I’m still alive, either.  I want an actual, unskimmable, entire blurb – or maybe even a paragraph – the kind filled with an unmistakable tone of pride on the part of the writer – about a positive aspect of my life.

An accomplishment.

This is not because I want notoriety or depend on my mom’s holiday letter for validation about my life.  I want to do something for me.  I want to not feel like I’m failing.  And okay, maybe I do need to see it in the letter for validation.

The proof of the fact that I need to pick things up came when I realized the only mention of me in my mother’s 946-word holiday letter email – the one she sent to all of her friends and family – is right after she announced that one of her (practically) step daughters is pregnant and it’s the best thing ever except that it’s not because my mom and Ed are not actually married and I guess that means she won’t “officially” be a grandmother because in order for that to happen, one of the children she bore from her womb and whose butts she lovingly wiped and whose noses she lovingly sucked free of boogers with one of those booger-sucking devices would need to have his or her own child and lovingly wipe its butt and suck boogers from its nose.  In other words, I would need to get pregnant.  Or my unmarried (but totally awesome) little sister.  Or my unmarried (but totally awesome) older brother.  Except he’s gay so there’s even less chance that he’ll get pregnant.  AND he’s a guy so actually there’s zero chance he’ll get pregnant.

So what was I saying?

Oh yeah.  I know that I need to work on accomplishing something because the only mention of me in my mom’s letter is how she’s keeping her fingers crossed that I’ll give her a grandbaby one day, but her guess is that Ed’s other daughter will be next.  That’s it.  And it’s justified because I really did not do anything worth mentioning in 2010.  Except the Costa Rica thing.  That was kinda cool.

And for the record, Ed’s daughters really are great.  They’re really nice people and they do things like… you know… visit Ed and my mom.  So they have that going.  And they want to have babies.

I suppose I wouldn’t have to actually get pregnant to earn a more notable mention in the holiday letter.  Which is good, because I have no intention of doing that any time soon.  Finding a job – especially a job that means something – would probably do the trick.  Or maybe if I make an important discovery or save someone’s life or become the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest wearing nothing but my Uggs and a smile.

And now enough of this emo crap, am I right?  This will be a year of happiness.

So while I’ll admit that I might have lost some of my earlier resolve over the holidays by distracting myself with red wine and peanut butter balls, rest assured that I’m back in the game.  The résumé update starts January 1st.  Possibly the 2nd if I’m too hung over on the 1st.  But you get the idea.

What are some of your New Year resolutions?

*Disclaimer: I am NOT blaming my mom for my lack of mention in her letter about HER year! I’m simply using it as a testament to the fact that this year I need to do… more.

Serenity NOW!

Even a jobless drain on decent working-class society like me requires some sort of daily diversion to keep myself from turning feral or buying every infomercial product ever made, including the weird ones that run on the late-night foreign public access channels where I’m never entirely sure whether I’m buying a set of knives or the somewhat frightened-looking underage model holding them.

Although if an indentured child-bride came as a bonus gift with purchase, then maybe we could talk.  ‘Cause those small hands could be really useful when cleaning under the fridge.

Kidding, of course.  That would be wrong.

Delightfully handy, but wrong.

And since I’m already caught up on all the TV shows I’d missed while in Costa Rica (**Spoiler Alert**:  Pam and Jim have a baby now and Michael’s still a moron; Phil’s still clueless, Claire’s still a shrew and their kids are still completely disposable characters; Neil Patrick Harris is still playing a womanizer despite the fact that there’s no one left on Earth who doesn’t know he’s gay in real life; Dexter’s still a serial killer, minus one naggy wife; Peg Bundy’s still in that show where we’re not supposed to think of her as Peg Bundy and Ron Pearlman still looks like a caveman) I figure I should use all this free time to work on bettering myself as a person.  You know, become a kinder, gentler Erin.

Make fun of me and I will go nuts all over your ass like a rabid spider monkey.

Ahem.  Where was I?

Ah, yes.  As I was saying:  The first step in this quest has been to start taking yoga classes two to three times a week.

Considering the fact that (a) as a general rule of thumb, I generally tend to avoid things I suck at and (b) I’m about as flexible as a Popsicle stick, this is huge news, people.  Like, Go Tell It On the Mountain kind of news.

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t compare my taking a yoga class to the birth of Jesus, but still.  Epic.

So far, I’ve been going for about two weeks and the overall experience has been at times peaceful, at times uncomfortable, at times energizing, but always humiliating.

Apart from the whole issue of trying not to fart–which, believe me, is a serious exercise in discipline that warrants an entire post of its own (but I’ll spare you… for now)–I’m doing the Downward Dog and Boat and Triangle and all these other innocuous-named poses that do not, in my opinion, even come close to accurately describing the unholy torture my tendons are about to undergo.

I guarantee you that every single one of these people in this photo is trying not to fart.

And I’m doing this weekdays at noon at the local city gym, which means I’m surrounded by a roomful of 60-year-olds with bum knees and hip replacements and bursitis (not that I have any clue what that is, but it sounds pretty gross and contagious) who are positively spanking me in the flexibility department.

And I’m not proud to admit that, sometimes, while I’m struggling frustratedly through yet another pose that Grandma Blue Hair next to me is just nailing, I get the urge to flip out all Frank Costanza-style and start shrieking, “You know what, smug old people?  You can take your inner peace and years of practice and shove it up your bony, freakishly limber asses!”

But I don’t, of course.

Because this is the new kinder, gentler Erin.

So I just knock over all their walkers and then run like hell.

Namaste, suckers.

Great Expectations

So my soon-to-be ex co-worker Stacy (remember her?) recently brought my attention to this little article.

Before I go into my analysis, I just want to say that I’m proud of the fact that we have male and female readers.  Even though Erin and I are a couple of chicks, I like to think we’re throwing something out there for everyone.  So please don’t take the following rant as guy-bashing.  It’s not.  I love guys.  Some of my favorite people are guys.  Truly.

What follows is stupid-article bashing.  And while I don’t think Erin and I intend to frequently use this blog as a forum for debate, I’d love to get your take at the end – male or female.  Just don’t be too mean.  Oh, and please excuse my overzealous use of quotation marks.


First, I’d just like to say how much I love the fact that Fox News decided to write an article called, “Romantic Comedies Can Damage Your Relationship, Study Says” and then file it in the “Sexual Health” section of its website.  Now I don’t tend to frequent the Fox News website, but if I did, I think I would head on over to the “Sexual Health” section to look for articles about how often I should get a mammogram, or how to get rid of the crabs that happened in Vegas but did not, in fact, stay in Vegas as promised.

What I would not expect to find is a whiny fluff piece about how romantic comedies (aka. “rom-coms”) are horrible for relationships because they provide a “warm and fuzzy feeling [that] can adversely influence our [womens’] view of real relationships.”


So are they saying our view relationships should be cold and abrasive?

I’m already confused.

Dr. Gabrielle Morrissey, director of the so-called study and apparently a “relationship expert” states, “It seems our love of rom-coms is turning us into a nation of ‘happy-ever-after addicts’.”

What’s this, Dr. Morrissey?  We shouldn’t hope for happiness in our relationships?  And if we do, then they must not be real?  Then why are we wasting our time with them?  If we didn’t expect relationships to be happy, we’d probably never seek them out.  Picture it: women wandering listlessly through the streets looking for a bit of chocolate or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while men casually stroll by asking them to step into an alleyway every now-and-then.

Never expecting happiness in a relationship?  Sounds pretty miserable to me.

The article explains that the study shows these rom-coms lead women to have unrealistic expectations of their partners – outrageous things like wanting their partners to buy them flowers or get down on one knee to propose.

Okay, Fox.  I totally could’ve bought your argument if the study showed women were suddenly expecting their men to learn guitar, write them a love song, and serenade them in a courtyard in front of a bunch of strangers ala “A Lot Like Love.”  (Great rom-com, by the way.)

But chiding women for expecting a couple of nice gestures along the way?  Are these seriously high expectations?  Come on.  We don’t need to watch romantic comedies to want our partners to do something nice for us.  Geez, I’d hate to think what would happen if women asked men to swallow.

Suddenly a little boom box action isn’t looking so tough, is it?

In all fairness, Dr. Morrissey goes on to state, “Real relationships take work, and true love requires more than fireworks.”  Really.  Because it took an “expert” to tell us that.  Of course relationships take work.  Maybe work like… I don’t know… thoughtful gestures?  But wait.  They already said those were unrealistic expectations.

The thing that irks me most of all is her use of the term “true love”.  It seems to me that someone who believes “real” relationships should not be “warm and fuzzy” has no business using a term as goopy as “true love”.

That phrase is a little much even for me, and I’m a known sucker for romantic comedies.


There is a key argument missing from this entire story.  So, in order to make sure Fox can stay on top of its whole “fair and balanced” motto, I’ve decided to write the second half:

Forget how rom-coms will make us silly, impressionable, doe-eyed women unrealistically expect our horrendously lazy and selfish bastardly man-children to occasionally buy us flowers or get down on one knee while proposing.  The nerve.

Most women understand what’s realistic and what is not.

Unrealistic expectation?  Probably.

Unrealistic expectation?  I hope not.

And in this day-and-age, this works too:

But the other argument this study didn’t reveal is the unrealistic expectations these movies give men about women.  Here are just a few:

  • We don’t sleep in our makeup.
  • If we do, we don’t wake up with it still looking as fresh and perfect as it did when we first applied it.  Instead, it would be smeared all over our face and our pillow.  Oh, and our hair doesn’t curl itself in the middle of the night.
  • We don’t discuss men while sitting around together in our bras and panties.  (And if we did, we certainly wouldn’t tell you about it.)
  • Sometimes we fart.
  • We’re not going to freak out if you talk to us like grown-ups.  Avoiding confrontation isn’t “cute” or “charming” and in the end, lying about something is going to tick us off way more than you telling us you just want a night out with the guys.
  • Many of us talk about sex more often than we talk about relationships.
  • We have hair.  Hair that social norms require us to shave, wax, chemically burn, or pull out by the roots much more thoroughly and frequently than you.  It’s a pain, and sometimes we’re going to get a little lazy.
  • I can’t think of a single one of us who would mistake you-know-what for hair gel.  And if you run across a woman who does, you might want to run the other way.

So that’s that.  Guys, just because we’re out there watching these movies doesn’t mean we expect our relationships to be full of grand public gestures of your undying adoration.  But do we appreciate thoughtful gifts or kind words?  Sure, probably as much as you!

Relationships are work and they do require open communication.  And to that effect, maybe the rom-coms are on to something.  I think most men and women understand that.  Problems arise when we get lazy and start taking our partners for granted – when we stop doing nice things for each other just because we don’t want to take the time, spend the money, do the work.

I am certainly not a relationship expert.  The hubs could attest to that.  But some things are pretty straightforward.

The bottom line? Guys, no matter how many romantic comedies we watch, women won’t expect you to base-jump off the top of the Empire State Building to prove your love – as long as you don’t expect us to wake up in the morning with fresh breath and flawless eyeliner.

And that, my friends, is compromise.

Monday Poem

A Poem, inspired by my current surroundings. 

From stock.xchng (click photo for link)


My cube is cold, 

My coffee’s old, 

But that is life – 

Or so I’m told. 

Unrest, it grows. 

My mind, it knows. 

A windowless world – 

It really blows. 

How’s that for a rainy Monday?  

Don’t worry, I’m working on some solutions to my boredom, which I will share as they (hopefully) come to fruition.