Thursday, January 27, 2011

New stuff! Plus, running like hell

How about a list for a change?
  • Last weekend, I edited and added some pages to this here bloggy blog: About, Writing, Contact and Favorite blogs. I've been wanting to do this for a while and it was so great to finally do it! Ahh, accomplishment! ("Accomplishment" looks like lying in bed in your pajamas until 1:30 on a Saturday, by the way.) I recommend Favorite blogs as the most exciting new page. Be careful, though — some of those blogs are like crack.
  • After lying in bed in my pajamas until 1:30 on a Saturday, I went for a 6-mile run. This is the farthest I've ever run at once, and it was part of a 5K training plan I'm doing to help me run a new personal record at my next race. This weekend calls for a 7-miler — woo-hoo! (Don't ask me why I'm running 7 miles to train for a 3-mile race. Ask Hal Higdon.)
  • Speaking of running, I started recording my runs on and added a widget to the right-hand column of this blog that tracks how many miles I've run so far in 2011. I'm up to 44 miles as of today! I don't think I've run 44 miles in... all the other years of my life combined. Crazy.
  • This weekend, I'm getting a new laptop! This upgrade is so long overdue. My breaking point was last week when Safari closed all my windows for no reason, and then took 5 minutes to reopen one simple page. Also, this old laptop will be useless for uploading/editing the high-quality photos I'll be taking on my new camera...
  • ...which I'll be getting next weekend (or sometime soon thereafter). I wrote in October that I would buy myself a digital SLR camera for Valentine's Day. It's happening, baby. I'm so excited.
  • Speaking of photography, Aaron started a photography blog and has already published some stunning images. Check out what he did with incense and some strobe lights here, this great portrait of our coworker here, and a super-cool photo and story here about how he got a brand-new, custom-built bicycle for free from a kind stranger. I know he has tons of great photos in his archives, so I'm excited to see what he'll put up next.
The next time I blog, I'll be typing on my new laptop and possibly uploading photos from my new camera! Until then, take care... and maybe procrastinate a bunch engage in new life experiences with some of my favorite blogs.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My favorite photos

These are a few of my favorite photos that I've taken over the years. Each of them comes with a great memory, which is just one of many things I love about photography. Click any photo to make it bigger. Enjoy!

October 2005. I was studying by Drumheller Fountain as a freshman at UW (quite possibly the one and only time I studied), and I took a picture of the lovely water.

Then a very cute father/son team wandered along, and I started creeping on them.

The father helped his son onto the edge of the fountain...

...and they walked along hand-in-hand amongst beams of sunlight. This was such a sweet moment.

October 2007. I carved this "Viva Slouse" pumpkin as a tribute to the house I lived in during junior year of college. I took this photo on Halloween night in front of said house, and it came out nice 'n' creepy.

November 2007. The adventure-loving person I was with decided to take a little dip into Snoqualmie Falls. Did I mention it was November?

February 2008. One of my favorites simply because I was there... in the press box. I hear that guy on the right has done quite well for himself since then.

June 2008. I was lying on my stomach in the sunshine at Gasworks Park, reading The Best American Essays 2007 (don't be too jealous), when I looked up and saw this. I felt like a hobbit in the Shire.
August 2008. My dad, brother and I spent a long weekend on Lopez Island in the San Juans. I haven't seen such consistently stunning sunsets anywhere else.

September 2009. My mom had just finished harvesting the last of the produce from her garden. She fought over this chair with another woman at a garage sale (and won).

October 2009. I love fall colors, and this tree in my mom's front yard rocks every year. The sun had just come out after a rainstorm here.

I'm less than a month away from getting my new, big-girl camera, so there will be many more favorite photos to come very soon. Woo-hoo!


Monday, January 17, 2011

On Perfectionism and Failure

Last week, I read something that was so applicable to my personality that I was like, "Whoa."

From Get Rich Slowly:
If I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all. That was my attitude, and it stopped me from getting back on the proverbial horse too many times to count ...
The all-or-nothing mindset is one of five characteristics of perfectionists that contribute to underachievement, according to research published by Gifted Child Today. (The other four are procrastination, fear of failure, paralyzed perfectionism, and workaholism.)
Sometimes perfectionism is cast in a positive light ... But I think perfectionism is harmful, and it sucks the fun out of life. The all-or-nothing mentality paralyzes you.
I am all too familiar with that paralyzed feeling. I've written about how I've let fear and self-doubt keep me from having great adventures in the past, and about how I'm working on becoming more of a doer. I didn't realize that those feelings had a lot to do with perfectionism. See: all-or-nothing mindset; fear of failure; paralyzed perfectionism. Whoa.

A great example of this happens to be a fun story about how I almost didn't graduate high school. Yeah, you read that right.

My entire academic career leading up to senior year, I had never gotten any final grade lower than a B. Then I got a D-minus in ceramics the very last semester of high school. CERAMICS, people.

We were supposed to complete eight ceramics projects. By the time the school year was nearly over, I had only completed four because I worked on each one with painstaking care, trying to craft them into museum-worthy pieces. Four out of eight = 50% = a failing grade. Luckily, the teacher let me stay after school to complete one last project, thus earning my D-minus, thus earning the right to walk at graduation.

My perfectionism almost prevented me from graduating high school. Little-known fact. The ironic part was that even though I put so much effort into each project, that was the exact reason why I nearly failed the class. Rather than striving for perfect work (in a medium I knew nothing about), I could have settled for good work and finished high school in a less traumatizing manner.

J.D. Roth likes to say, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." So true. I'm still intimidated by photography because I still don't understand how all the camera settings work or how to take photos as well as Aaron can. (He's been shooting for years, has owned something like 20 cameras, studied in college, worked with a wedding photographer, won photography contests, etc. I've held a digital SLR camera for two afternoons of my life.)

It's irrational, but I still feel self-conscious because I'm not great at it yet. Any shots I come up with were blindly taken without any thought put into the camera settings. But I have to remember that I'm out there doing it, great or not, and I'll eventually get to where I want to be if I put the work in.

The same is true with running... eating well... saving money... and other things I put on my list of goals for 2011. I won't be perfect at training, eating or budgeting all of the time. Some days (or weeks), not even most of the time. I'm a terrible procrastinator (one of the characteristics of perfectionism listed above — who knew?), and that hinders my drive to do things.

But if I let one bad, fearful, self-conscious moment get me down and make me quit trying to achieve something, I'll have failed much worse than if I had given it my all and failed anyway.

I like the philosophy of Ben's brother, Jed, who is a high-school football coach: "Win today." If you had a crappy day yesterday, fine. Win today. You'll never get anywhere if you use any failure as an excuse to give up completely. Take whatever goal you're working on one day at a time, and try to win each day. That's it.

I also like Chris Guillebeau's take on what it means to be brave:
My belief about fear and courage is that all of us are scared of all kinds of things, so the wrong approach is to pretend to be fearless. Instead, acknowledge your fears, but proceed anyway.
I also think there is a link between what we are afraid of and what we really want to do. The choice to bridge this gap is where bravery comes from.
I am afraid of failing. (I'm also afraid of spiders and clowns, but I have no desire to bridge those gaps.)

However, I've found that the more I try, the less I fail. The big, scary idea of "failure" is becoming less of something that I'll experience if I try something and am not good at it, and more of what I'll experience if I don't try my best to push through the things that will keep me from succeeding.

I'll fail if I dream of running a marathon, but procrastinate so much that I don't train for it. I'll fail if I let my all-or-nothing attitude give up on my budget because I didn't manage my money perfectly this month. I'll fail if I let myself be paralyzed by self-consciousness and quit taking photos.

I'll leave these reminders here for when I feel like I'm losing my grip on the things I really want to achieve:

Stop thinking about what you want to do and start doing it. 
Take it one day at a time. 
Forget about yesterday. 
Forgive yourself for whatever you did or didn't do.
Then go for the run.
Save the money.
Take the photo.
It's OK if it's not perfect.
Just win today. 
Then win again tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Four days into the year...

...and I've already succeeded and failed at a few of my 2011 goals:

- Eat less dairy (cheese in moderation, especially)
- Do more outdoor activities (like hiking)

I'll let you guess which one was a success and which one was a failure.

Hint: I am not posting photos of the failure.

Double hint: The failure came in the form of a 1-lb. block from Costco. Sigh.

All photos by me, except the ones that are of me, which are by Aaron.

All post processing, cropping and other awesomeness by Aaron.

Both cameras... Aaron's.

Hmm. Now I feel quite useless!

What can I say? I do words. I'll keep working on the pictures.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

1/1/11 in photos, plus 2011 goals

The Resolution Run 5K and Polar Bear Dive...

Fish and chips and beer at Paddy Coyne's...

Aaron doing something I cannot do in front of a random apartment building...

Not pictured: a delicious nap, a ridiculously cheesy grilled cheese sandwich, watching Easy A and watching episodes from the first season of Dexter.

A solid first day of the year.

As for the rest of the year...

Devon's 2011 Goals


- Run a sub 27:00 5K — 2/12/11
- Run the Warrior Dash — 7/16/11
- Run a 10K (Bellevue 10K) — 4/17/11
- Run a 15K (Seattle's Best 15K) — 5/21/11
- Run a half marathon (Seattle Rock 'n' Roll) — 6/25/11
- Run a marathon (Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll) — 12/4/11


- Develop a regular posting schedule for this blog (3x a week; M/W/F?) — Ongoing attempt!
- Be honest — Ongoing
- Be myself — Ongoing

Finances (i.e. the thing I've gotten lazy with lately)

- Write a budget before each payday (twice a month) — Didn't do this!
- Go back to using cash for discretionary spending — Nope
- Save bonuses, as well as a portion of each paycheckstarted automatic savings account 7/1/11
- Have one year's worth of salary in savings by the end of 2011YES! Allowed me to quit my job 11/30/11


- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per weeknight — HA! I was terrible with this
- Eat more fruits/vegetables/whole grains — I did well with fruits/veggies and AVOIDED grains for stomach reasons
- Eat less dairy (cheese in moderation, especially) — Success
- Eat even less meat (I hardly eat it anyway) — I ate MORE meat (still not much) for protein during marathon training
- Find and stick to half-marathon and marathon training programs — Very successful!
- Do more outdoor activities (like hiking) — I hiked, biked, skydived, learned to surf, swam and ran my little heart out


- Go skydiving again — 3/2/11 on the North Shore of Oahu
- Learn how to wakeboard — Nope
- Go rock climbing (even just at REI) — Nope
- Have coffee with Nicole Brodeur — I emailed her and she agreed, but I failed to follow up. Oops.
- Visit New York City10/7-10/10
- Have regular lunch/dinner dates with my dad — Not as many as I would have liked!
- Buy a digital SLR camera and use it — 2/9/11
- Buy a new laptop — 1/29/11

That's all I could come up with for now. It'll be nice to revisit this list and be able to cross things off, or check back on it when I'm in a rut and see what I need to work on achieving.

Speaking of crossing things off... here's my completed (and very short) 2010 list of goals:

1. Pay off my credit card by my birthday.
2. Pay off my student loan by July 1 (actually July 16).
3. Move out of my mom's house by the end of January 2011 with no debt and more than $10,000 in the bank.

The final portion that I just crossed off the list — in bold — was moving out of my mom's house. I moved into a townhouse with two of my great friends on December 26. I love it so far, and I'm so glad I was able to start 2011 out on my own.

2010 was the year of getting my finances straight and becoming independent. 2011 will be about maintaining and adding to what I achieved financially in 2010, plus tackling new athletic challenges, embarking on more adventures, embracing new hobbies and overall becoming a healthier person.

Bring it on.

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