It’s The Little Things


Drawing in progress

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I kept whining about not having an internship? Well, guess who just finished her first two weeks at her shiny new internship? I don’t want to give out too many details, because while I know all my readers are as sane as they are good looking and smart, there may be a few lurking crazies. But what I can tell you is it’s at a non-profit (yea!), unpaid (boo!), and I get to do a little bit of everything (yea!). I think it’s going to be great.

Throughout this whole internship search, I kept running across the quote by Joseph Campbell:

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

I know that should have told me something, but far be it from me to actually pay attention to the signs around me. You know how I live for coincidence? Now you do. Well, in a previous post I told you about how my friend who passed away inspired me to go back to school. When we wouldn’t want to tell customers our real names, we would give them fake ones (I have a tendency to bring out the silly in people). My friend’s fake name is my new bosses real name. It wouldn’t be weird if her name was Mary or Brenda, but it’s something not at all common. Weird, right? Okay, just humor me.

Speaking of inspiring people, whenever I write these posts I’m pretty much writing them for me. I figure if they make me laugh, motivate me, kick me in the drawers, what have you, that they will probably do that for someone else, too. Plus it’s really powerful when you are at a low point to go back and read your own words. But I never think of myself as inspirational. Trust me, if you saw the stack of junk on the coffee table, the sink full of dishes, or the laundry that needs to be put away, the only thing it might inspire you to do is clean your house. So the other day someone sent me a message on My Fitness Pal that said something like, “Your story is so inspirational! I hope to get to where you are someday,” I seriously thought she sent it to the wrong person. It didn’t help that I had just got back from the gym and was sitting on the couch in my underwear eating cheese while watching Dr. Phil (sadly, no part of that is made up, it was super hot and I was hungry).

But it made me think about who we admire and why. We tend to put those we admire on a pedestal and think everything they do should be inspirational. “They way they took out the trash was a triumph of the human spirit!” That’s where the saying, “Don’t meet those you admire” comes in. People rarely act like we expect. I follow artist and author Austin Kleon on Twitter and one day he posted something like, “Is there any great artist who WASN’T a philandering douchebag? #disappointed” I’ve heard rumblings that Ray LaMontagne had a particularly disappointing meeting with his inspiration, Bob Dylan. We have to give each other room to be human and realize that our inspirations, just like us, don’t always have it together. We all fall short of our own expectations at one point or another. But I think we also cannot forget that it’s the small acts of kindness that sometimes mean the most to people. You never know how a smile or hug or some sincere words will effect someone.

Wouldn't this look awesome on a t-shirt?

Wouldn’t this look awesome on a t-shirt?

Okay, so you know how the Mumford & Sons song, “The Cave” has inspired me over and over throughout the last few years? Well, they are having a contest to design a t-shirt for their summer tour. Now, I know as a designer I’m supposed to be all against spec work and blah blah blah, but, hey, MUMFORD & SONS! In addition to getting your design on a shirt, you get $1000 and I am poor so that would be awesome. I was so excited when I first saw this contest, but then I totally forgot about it and had to repurpose a design and format some type quickly. Allegedly voting starts sometime today (5/31) and is open only for a week. You don’t have to register for anything, because it looks like you can only vote using Facebook and Twitter. If you could spare a moment and vote for me once voting opens,  I would so appreciate it. There are some excellent designs and competition is going to be fierce. Vote here

UPDATE! Voting is now open and you can use Facebook, Twitter, or text 9S88MZ to 75572.  


Beth’s Guide to Weight Loss…or Something


I realized I’ve lost 70 pounds. You would think that would be a little hard to miss, but if you’ve read here before then you know I’m not always on speaking terms with obvious. What made it less obvious is that it was slowly over a lot of years and had many stalls and restarts and twists and turns and jumping off one path and on to another…and I’m still not done. I’ve got about 30-40 pounds to go. But slowly is better then never and time is going to pass regardless.

I’ve always been somewhere between chubby and sideshow fat lady (with my Greek genes I’m just glad I’m not the bearded lady) and have tried just about every weight loss plan known to man, both healthy and not so healthy. Really, if you want to know how to lose weight, ask a fat person, because we’ve tried them all- for a few hours at least.

If I could impart one bit of wisdom to those who want to eat healthier or lose weight it would be this:


Most of us are eating way more and way more junk then we realize. When I first started this whole thing, I went to Weight Watchers (which is a great program) and the weeks that I had the biggest losses were weeks that I religiously wrote down every single bite that went in my mouth.

I’ve recently been using My Fitness Pal, which is a website and app that helps you record your exercise and calories/food to achieve your fitness goals. I was only using it to track my exercise and one day thought, “Hmm…I should put my food for a few days just to see.” Dear God! No wonder I haven’t lost any weight lately! Low carb/high protein works best for me and I was hardly getting any protein and my carbs were TWICE what I thought they were. Now I’m trying to kick my 2 a day Kind Bar habit because I was getting a ridiculous amount of carbs from that alone. I guess it shouldn’t be shocking- the good ones are all coated in chocolate. See what I mean about me and obvious not always getting together?

Another little bit of wisdom I wish someone would have told me years ago:

Just because you are working out, don’t expect to lose more weight. 

Maybe it’s just me, but when I exercise my weight loss slows to a crawl. I have no idea why, but it happens to me every single time. But take heart! There is a way to still see some progress without using the scale. Take measurements! Waist, hips, chest, calf, arm and thigh- or any part you are interested in and measure every one or two weeks. Since I’ve started doing the weight machines, I’ve already lost an inch off my waist and a half inch off my hips. Considering I don’t have much of a waist, that is huge for me.

My last little bit of wisdom:

You can only get what you want by moving outside of your comfort zone.

I am so guilty of this and I know I am not alone, because I see it all the time in the gym and life in general. We only go so far and then it’s like we hit an invisible barrier. “Eh…that’s good enough” and stop. Some book I read said something like the most effective leaders are the ones who are comfortable going into the unknown. Because that’s what it’s about really, isn’t it? That fear that we might fail or, God forbid, succeed and then what? Will people cheer us? Or abandon us? Or maybe they’ll expect us to always succeed and what if we can’t live up to our own new standard? So it seems easier to remain where we are. But if you really want something, the only way to get it is to tell those voices to cram it, push forward into that unknown and take it. It’s hard, scary and takes commitment, but if you want it bad enough then that’s what it takes. It is the rare person who is handed everything they want with no work. Besides, you don’t want to be that person, because everyone hates those people and we like you!

Have a great week!

The Gym Is Not Always Torture (But It Sorta Is)

Juvenile-Harrys-Ladder-to-Learning-66I love my gym. Oh, I still hate working out about 75% of the time,  but my gym is non-stop entertainment. It’s as if Wal-Mart had a gym. In general I try to keep my head down, avoid eye contact  and be as completely unassuming as possible. I figure I don’t want to anyone judging me, so I try not to judge anyone else. We’re all there for the same reason, because we want to workout and are poor and/or cheap. But sometimes it’s hard not to notice the, um, “eccentricities” of the other exercisers.

I always wonder if the world is full of weirdos, if I just notice all the weirdos, or if eventually we are all the weirdos. Yesterday when I was using the torture chamber known as the overhead tricep extension machine (seriously, look at this thing, why did I think it was a good idea?) and repeatedly hitting myself in the head with the handles while trying to adjust the weights, I’m pretty sure I was the weirdo. But at least I wasn’t the guy who never uses any equipment, wanders the entire perimeter of the gym (in jeans) over and over while swinging his arms like a windmill on the loose during category 5 hurricane. I can’t take my eyes off him because I keep trying to figure out if there is a pattern to his flailings and he’s on to some new super arm workout that the rest of us haven’t caught on to yet. I don’t know how he hasn’t knocked anyone unconscious.

My gym is divided up into four sections, which I’m guessing is probably the same as most gyms: the cardio area (treadmills, ellipticals, etc.), strength training machines (lat pull, thigh abductor, etc.), free weights (dumbbells, weight benches), and a big open area for things like kettle bells, those big stability bouncy ball things, and whatever other lunacy personal trainers are inflicting on people these days.

Until recently I never ventured out of the cardio area, which has it’s own form of crazy. Like the girl who runs on the treadmill in flip flops, the guy who randomly yells out, “WHOOOOOOO!!!!” on the elliptical machine (and looks like a forgotten member of an 80’s glamrock band), or the guy who cranks the treadmill speed up to 15 mph, lifts himself up on to the side rails and just touches the belt with his tippy toes. Closely related to him is  the 75 year old lady who puts the incline up to 900% (approximately), the speed up to 88 mph (approximately) and then hangs on for dear life like she is going to shoot off through a hole in time and space. I wouldn’t even have noticed her except for the fact that she glares at everyone like we were trying to steal her man. I accidentally made eye contact with her once on the way to the locker room and she gave me such a, “Bitch, what is your problem?” look that I was both horrified and impressed.
I’ve lost over 50 pounds (it’s not as impressive as it sounds, I’m still chunky) and need to firm up. So, I broke out of my cardio comfort zone and into the strength training machine area. This doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but if you’ve been reading here for any length of time, then you know that I am scared of everything new. But I psyched myself up and did it and actually love it (I blame all the blows to the head from the tricep extension machine). I’m an Amazon who puts muscle on fast. In old-timey days, I would have been prized on the farm (my parents could have got 6 cows, a spinning wheel AND a goat in exchange for me) and if I were born on the East Coast or was smart enough to go to an Ivy League school, I’d have been perfect for a rowing team. I guess strength training should have been an obvious fit, but sometimes it takes me and obvious a while to hook up.

In the process of venturing into a new area, there’s a whole other world of odd. Like the man who does one rep on every single machine or the lady who wore a full prairie skirt, poncho, Olivia Newton-John “Let’s Get Physical” headband, and metallic silver high tops on the thigh abductor. By the way, how absolutely awesome a name is “thigh abductor”? It’s like it’s going to steal your flabby thighs and leave nice toned ones in their place, like a super fit Santa from Heaven.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that this strange phenomenon of people sitting on the machines. I don’t mean resting between sets, I mean just sitting there like it’s a loveseat at Costco. If it were only one person I’d think they needed a longer rest, but over the last few days I’ve seen about 6 people, who, unless we are working out at exactly the same pace, are just sitting at the machines, not using them at all. What are they doing? I can only check Facebook and fake text so many times and after about 8 seconds I’m out of things to do between sets.  Nothing that calls itself a “seat” at the gym is comfortable (they all seem to be designed to go up your crack and/or correct spinal alignment), so I can’t imagine sitting there when I don’t have to. There is no view of the TVs or even really anything except other machines.

We can see the free weight area a little, but if there is any spot I try to avoid even looking at, it’s the free weight area or as I call it, “The Yard.” There are a few guys who I am pretty sure honed their physiques at the finest correctional institutions and, based on the faces and noises they make, should add more fiber and water to their diets.  On the rare chance I see a woman over there I think she is either a super tough chick like in a Quentin Tarantino movie and could kick all our asses five ways till Sunday or needs to be rescued and I should secure a safe house. So, barring anymore strength training machine blows to the head or daring rescue attempts, I’ll be staying out of The Yard.