Life's high notes

Writing playlist. I can't live without music. Since I was little, I've listened to or played music every day. But each day is different, so its playlist follows its structure, not some proscribed outline. The songs I choose are picked based on my rules, which are eerily similar to those for playing music in a public place.

  1. Gauge the mood. No one wants to hear hyper Latin pop if they're just hanging out. Likewise, the same music has its place during runs and workouts, but not many other places.
  2. Be mindful. If you're by yourself, pay attention to how the music affects you. Listen to the music that sets the tone for the rest of your day. After all, you don't want to be the only spacy emo kid at the disco or that twitchy overcaffeinated jock at the symphony. Don't be that guy.
  3. Make dedicated playlists. Appropriating specific songs for specific occasions heightens their significance to that activity. Assign songs to activities and don't let them cross over.
  4. Being sad is OK. Happiness is a constant choice, but the world can be overwhelming. Choose happiness, but take time to experience your other emotions. If you need a musical boost to lift or deepen your mood, pick your songs accordingly.
  5. Do it and dig it. Trashy rap aficionado? Get your daily dose of humor at Snacks n Shit. Classical junkie? Rock out with your Bach out. Time is too precious to listen to music you dislike. There's no reason to make yourself unhappy.

Meanwhile, in my living room

Hey look! My exercise buddy and person! Today, I didn't want to write. I want to curl up in a blanket and stare at my bedroom's ceiling tiles, not confront all of the deadlines looming right after Thanksgiving. Despite the funk, I'm up and about.

Days like this are the reason that I exercise. Even just 15 minutes of yoga or running or lifting weights has the almost magical ability to get me back to emotionally level within a few hours. This week, my schedule is riddled with deadlines and bartending shifts. Between the seven remaining deadlines and quite a few hours behind the bar, I'm seeking out all the things I can do instead of knocking out deadlines early.

The problem is that fitness won't wait. If I put it off, my mood suffers, but if I commit to it, I'm diverting precious energy with the knowledge my energy levels will eventually increase exponentially. It may sound like lip service to the proven research on science, but it's true. Though I want to melt into the couch, I won't.

In my years on this planet, I've experienced the ups and downs that come with living fully. The sadness and joy and love and craziness that accompany it are natural parts. These emotions are vital to being human. They're also so powerful that they can control the path of life, but exercise can help to regulate them.

Even if a short yoga session only serves as a quick mental break, the time spent will be well worth it. As a science, tech and writing nerd, my brain is usually stuck in high gear, and running or lifting slow my thoughts just enough to keep me sane. So, if you need me, I'm unplugging for the next 45 minutes before I go in to Octane.

Running (and singing) in the rain

photo (2)Last Sunday's three miler was my first run in the rain. Coupled with temperate temperatures, the rain added an element of whimsy and fun to my long run. Watch out, world. I've just uncovered a socially acceptable way to play in the rain as an adult. On a more serious note, I got lucky. The sun set around the two mile mark, and despite the wet and my clumsiness, I didn't fall or twist a joint or run into any long-hanging branches. My steps were sure, and I was still comfortable afterwards. Adam and I had started our respective runs at the same time, and I finished shortly after he did.

I also ran the last mile too fast. The rain made me feel unstoppable and a little giddy, so I went a little faster. It also reminded me that I don't suck at running and that even longer runs can be pleasant. After two weeks of plodding through fairly uncomfortable bouts with exercise, it was really refreshing to feel comfortable and confident in my physical abilities.

As a result, I've had a pretty good week for running so far, but I want to stay positive. I'm also going to start gradually adding in weight training again to make sure that my entire body gets stronger, not just my legs. If it follows the pattern it has in the past, it should also help relax my shoulders and upper back -- areas where I carry most of my stress.

For the first time in a while, I'm excited and actively planning to exercise. My calendar is filling up with reminders to exercise and the distance or workout that I need to complete. It's also starting to feel like more of a reward for doing good work with writing and bartending rather than an obligation, and for that, I couldn't be happier.

Today's title is a play on "Singing in the Rain." Since I often sing and dance along to my music while I run, I thought it was only appropriate.