One small step

crossfit-534615_1920It’s amazing how one small decision can lead to so many changes. Five years ago, I made an appointment at the gym near my work. As an introvert and overall quiet person, I was pretty nervous (I share a few introvert tips here that helped me get used to the gym environment). So I listened to their spiel, signed up for a membership, and agreed to pay for three discounted personal training sessions. Unfortunately, unless you buy their expensive training packages, you’re pretty much on your own after that.

It took me six months to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried the circuit training machines. I ran on treadmills and rode exercise bikes. I attended a few group classes and attempted yoga. It was okay but I didn’t love it. Then I started picking up heavy weight. I loved it and finally knew I wanted to get stronger. Within a couple of months of switching my routine over, I started noticing positive changes.

My brother obtained his personal training certification around this time. So he created a workout program based on my strength goals. He coached my form and gave me feedback. He was also able to work around my old injuries and strengthen my weaknesses. With his help, I grew capable of moving a lot more weight.

As I increased in strength, my confidence grew. I wasn’t as timid. I started standing a bit straighter (it’s still a work in progress). I felt more confident in speaking my mind and asserting myself. I became more comfortable with myself and around others.

I was motivated to improve other areas of my life too. I’ve worked on maintaining a schedule so I can get to bed earlier. I’m working on drinking more water. I cook all my meals from scratch and try to choose healthier food options. Most recently I started taking ballroom and latin dance classes. Dance class has helped to boost my confidence even more. And it all began with a single appointment at the gym. Below is one of my favourite quotes on fitness.

Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit, fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you.

Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or for the newly divorced, fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today.

There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax; fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are.

-Thomas Plummer

What activities do you enjoy?

My samba experience

people-2601101_1920Last week I wrote about starting a new dance class. So I thought I’d share a quick follow up.

I had no idea what to expect in my first samba class. I wore my usual ballroom attire: dance shoes and business casual. But I soon learned I had made a terrible mistake. Everyone in the studio was clad in yoga pants and running shoes. Oh well, I thought, this is fine.

I started chatting with a lady I had met the previous week. Both of us were taking samba for the first time. Then I discovered something else. Despite advertising “continuous registration”, the class officially began five weeks ago. This meant we were both five weeks behind everyone else. This was a bit intimidating but I figured I’d try my best. Our instructor was encouraging but told us to “try to keep up”. This was easier said than done.

We started the class with a warm up and I immediately knew I was out of my league. The instructor led us through various movements. I attempted to imitate him by twisting and contorting my body in ways it had never moved before. I was a sweaty mess before we even started the routine.

After the warm up, our instructor went over the routine step by step. He also added a few new steps at the end. This was great. I was starting to remember the steps and pick up a little technique. Then we did the routine at 80 percent speed. That was more challenging. I missed a bunch of steps but I thought I did an admirable job of keeping up. Then we ran through the routine at normal speed. It was intense (look up samba music and you’ll see how fast it is). I think I managed to move in the right direction most of the time but my footwork was a mess.

But despite the chaos, I’m looking forward to this week’s class. I know that with time and lots of practice, even I can feel comfortable and confident in this new dance.

What are your plans this week?

15 introvert-friendly things to do

sunset-691654_1920I love long weekends! We have one coming up and I’ll be spending a few days with my family. Long weekends are great because of the extra time you can spend doing whatever you’d like. I wanted to share 15 introvert-friendly things to do on a long weekend (or any weekend for that matter). Perfect for going solo (or with someone you like spending time with).

1. Go to a park and wander.
Find a nearby park and go for a long walk. Follow the path and see where it goes, explore, bring snacks for a small picnic, sit and meditate, etc.

2. Movie night.
Have a movie night or Netflix session at home. Make popcorn and snacks and spend the evening getting lost in another world for a few hours.

3. Make a recipe.
Find a recipe for something you’ve always wanted to make, then make everything from scratch. A long weekend is the perfect time to try out new things. Pair your creation with a nice glass of wine (or whatever you like).

4. Spend time planning.
I love planning. It helps me get all the ideas flying around my head on paper so I’m not constantly thinking about them. Use the extra time to sit down and plan out your next week or month’s activities. Or work out your next month’s budget. It helps get you organized and reduces stress.

5. Practice your photography.
Head outdoors and snap photos from different angles. Or stay indoors, play with lighting, and see if you can perfect your food photography. Feel free to get inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest if you need ideas.

6. Be creative.
We’ve all got projects sitting around collecting dust. Take advantage of the extra time and finish up that painting, crochet, video, or sewing project.

7. Get active.
Spend time getting in some exercise and enjoying the endorphins that come as a result. Go for a run or a bike ride. Follow a yoga video or body weight workout on YouTube. You’ll feel great and it’ll give you more energy.

8. Coffee date.
Head to your favourite coffee (or tea) place and order your favourite drink. Spend some time alone with a book, or with your favourite person.

9. Check out the arts.
Find out when local plays, musicals, or free concerts are happening and check them out. They’re usually a lot more low key than busy festivals. But if you like festivals, go for it, just keep an eye on your energy.

10. Read a book.
What better way to spend your extra time than catching up on your reading? If its a particularly beautiful day you can even take it outside.

11. Work on blog ideas.
I love looking up different ideas for blogging, doing research, and writing up drafts for possible posts. It gets me excited for blogging and gives me extra writing practice.

12. Take a long bath.
There’s nothing more relaxing for me than soaking in a hot bath. Bubbles or bath bombs are optional but lots of fun. If you’re not a bath person, a nice hot shower also does the trick.

13. Connect with others.
Long weekends are the perfect time to connect with those who are important to you. Whether you get together in person, or share a phone or video call, furthering personal connections is one of the best uses of extra time.

14. Learn a new language.
You can find lots of online resources for learning a new language. There are tons of free apps, websites, and podcasts to get both written and conversational instruction. Go out and educate yourself 🙂

15. Nothing.
Feel like doing nothing? That’s a perfectly valid way to spend your weekend. Just make sure you take care of yourself too.

What do you like to do?

3 blogging tips

typewriter-801921_1920My blog is nearly three years old, I can hardly believe it. But the whole reason I’ve made it this far is because of you! I really appreciate all the support I’ve received through the years. Whether you’ve followed my blog, like and comment on my posts, or just stop by every once in a while, thank you.  It really means a lot.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Write about what you love.
We all write for different reasons. I wanted to connect with other introverts and highly sensitive people (and anyone who stops by). I also wanted to share my experiences and lessons in the hopes that I could make someone else’s journey a bit easier. Some write as a way to process their thoughts and feelings. Some write to share their expertise. When you write about things you love, or that are close to you, your sincerity shines through. Writing then becomes enjoyable, rather than an obligation.

2. Connect with others.
I started writing to connect with others. To know that I’m not alone in my experiences is incredibly encouraging. To gain the wisdom of those who have figured out things I’m still struggling with has been so valuable. I’ve been completely blown away by the warmth of the community here and I’m grateful for all the connections I’ve gained. As an introvert, being able to connect with people online, without the overwhelm of in-person interaction, is pretty awesome.

3. Have fun.
Blogging should be enjoyable. Have fun with it. Experiment with different kinds of posts and figure out what you like writing. Try out personal posts, short stories, opinion pieces, quotes, pictures, tag posts, etc. Write the things you want to write. Not the things you think other people want to read.

Any other tips to share?

an introvert & karaoke

singer-1047531_1920.jpgI have a confession to make: I love karaoke. Yes, I’m introverted. Yes, I hate being the centre of attention. Yes, I get extremely self conscious when speaking and singing in front of others. But despite all this, karaoke is something I really enjoy (disclaimer, I’ve never done karaoke in a bar, I prefer the ‘karaoke boxes’ you can rent for a couple of hours).

My first karaoke experience took place when I was 16. I was attending an appreciation dinner for the volunteers of a local convention. We enjoyed a delicious Korean BBQ meal at a little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant. Once we were finished, we headed upstairs to the karaoke room. Although I knew a few people, the majority were strangers. Despite this, I still felt comfortable enough to sing “Phantom of the Opera” along to the prerecorded track.

My karaoke experiences continued from there. My high school friends were big fans of karaoke and we’d often spend Sunday afternoons singing and dancing along to our favourite Japanese and Korean songs (usually butchering the lyrics horribly). After graduation, all my friends went to the same university while I went to another. Despite this, we’d still get together occasionally to sing karaoke, relax, and catch up. I think my fondness for karaoke comes from the good memories I shared with my friends.

However, as an introvert, two things need to be in place for me to enjoy the experience. Firstly, I need to be in an environment where I feel comfortable and accepted. Secondly, stepping out of my comfort zone is very draining, so I need to store up energy beforehand.

Here are a couple of tips. If you don’t feel comfortable singing solo, convince 1-2 others to join you. It’s a lot of fun and you aren’t the only one in the spotlight. Also don’t feel obligated to stand up and perform your song. Sing sitting down if you’re more comfortable. Take small steps and don’t compare yourself to those who seem more comfortable 🙂

Have you tried karaoke?

Conquering the Spartan Race

spartan raceIf you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve probably noticed several Spartan Race mentions scattered throughout my posts. I recently completed the Spartan Race Sprint and it was amazing. So you’ll have to bear with one more post on the subject (at least for this year).

The Spartan Race, for those who may not know, is a race filled with mud and obstacles. Our team of four chose the Spartan Sprint: ours was 6.3 km (just under 4 miles) in length with 22 obstacles.

The beauty of the Spartan Race is that you can help your teammates (there were only two obstacles you’re expressly not allowed to assist on). There were many challenges I wouldn’t have been able to conquer on my own. But with help, we all made it through.

Here’s a short recap of the race and some of the obstacles we came across:

The race began with a lengthy run through trails that threaded through the trees and across fields. We faced 5, 6, and 7 foot walls. I made it over the first two no problem but needed a boost for the third one. The ‘Hobie Hop’ required us to navigate a small course wearing a tight band around our knees or ankles. You had to circumvent the obstacles by hopping around or through them.

It wouldn’t be the Spartan Race without lots of mud, so we slipped and slid in ‘Rolling Mud’. You had to climb a small hill, slide into a mud pit, then pull yourself out. Repeat several times.

We conquered a 30 foot climbing wall, flipped tires, navigated monkey bars, and manoeuvred along a set of metal ‘parallel bars’. This last obstacle proved too difficult and I earned 30 penalty burpees (if you fail to conquer an obstacle on the first try, you can only continue after completing 30 burpees.)

My personal favourites were the ‘Horizontal Wall Traverse’ and the ‘Barbed Wire Crawl’. The first was a wall with pieces of wood for hand and foot grips positioned along the top and bottom of the wall. You had to move from one side to the other using only the grips. The second was exactly what it sounded like. We pulled ourselves along the ground beneath a stretch of barbed wire. It was super muddy but this actually made it easier to slide ourselves along. Everyone ended up with mud up to their necks from this one.

We climbed a cargo net 30 feet high, attempted a rope climb (I earned another 30 burpees for this one) and finished the event with the ‘Fire Jump’. We then picked up our medals and finisher t-shirts.

One of our friends had come to cheer us on and was waiting with hot coffee, we were extra happy to see her. We washed up, grabbed more coffee, and chatted excitedly about the various obstacles on our drive back.

So how was the Spartan Race for an introvert? Honestly not as bad I thought it would be. While the festival grounds were crowded, I was mentally prepared for it. While all the racers were crammed together at the start, the crowd thinned out within the first kilometre as the faster runners broke away and the slower ones dropped back. I would definitely recommend scheduling in alone time before and after the race (as with any social activity) but it was completely doable.

Have you ever tried an obstacle race or wanted to?

A busy, relaxing weekend

BBQ

This past weekend was both busy and relaxing. Monday was Victoria Day, a federal holiday in Canada. As a result, I enjoyed a lovely long weekend at home with my family. I headed down on Friday night and spent the remainder of the weekend there. Friday night and Saturday were fairly normal, then Sunday happened.

Sunday was a crazy, good busy, kind of day. We had a BBQ planned with lots of family and friends attending. I arrived at the location at 9:30 am to help with set-up and food prep. The food and fun lasted all day and we didn’t finish cleaning up until around 6:30 pm. We pretty much ate and talked the entire time! But the fun didn’t stop there. Directly after the BBQ, I headed to a friend’s house for a few hours of Mario Kart and card games. I think I finally got back around 10:30 pm and pretty much passed out. It was a really enjoyable day and I’m happy I went, but I was pretty done by the end of the night.

Monday was the complete opposite of the previous day. It was the most laid back and relaxed I’ve been in a long time. I slept in, which was awesome, and spent the majority of the day relaxing with my family. Since I wasn’t at home, I didn’t have my to-do list haunting me. Several games of cribbage were had, along with snacks and tea. Totally my kind of day. I also fit a workout in which never fails to lift my mood. I eventually drove back home but even that was fairly relaxing and non-stressful.

My weekend was an interesting mix of busy and quiet. I got to spend quality time with friends and family which made it all worth it. There are still times where I wish I had more energy. I still dream about having enough energy to throw myself into everything with reckless abandon (without burning out). But I’ll never be that person and that’s okay. I know that I have a finite amount of energy each day and I have a fairly good grasp on my physical and mental limits. As a result, I can take that into consideration when planning things. Being introverted is definitely challenging, especially when you want to do all the things, but that’s who I am. And if I can’t accept my own nature, how can I expect others to do the same?

How was your weekend?

Image credit: “BBQ” by Harvey Jiang is licensed under CC by 2.0

The week of recovery

photographyLast weekend was as crazy as I expected. It was a lot of fun and I got to spend time with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. It was also really draining. By Saturday night I was totally done and I still had two days to go. Sunday wasn’t too bad. I arrived a bit later than most and ended up ducking out early. I even enjoyed a few rounds of Pictionary before I left. Being able to leave early helped stave off complete overwhelm. However, despite a small break on Monday, bowling later that day wasn’t great. I was irritable and tired, not a good combination.

I’ve been using the remainder of this week to catch up on sleep and quiet time. While I love and appreciate being introverted, I often yearn for more energy. The events of this weekend really made me think. I still need to say ‘no’ more often. I’m still aiming to please people more than I’m looking after myself. It was really eye-opening. I’ve come a long way, but often default to saying ‘yes’ more than I’d like.

There were still lots of high points though. My ‘take photos and avoid too much socialization’ plan worked wonderfully. Taking pictures really made the busy events more tolerable. I also got to hone my skills and try new things. On Saturday, I laid claim to a little newborn and got to carry her around for most of the evening. It was a lovely distraction. Showing up later, and leaving early, were also good moves. I’ll definitely consider these ideas for future events. I’m almost back to 100%, but if you need me right now, I’ll be hiding under this comfy blanket with a cup of tea 🙂

How do you deal with social obligations?

Image credit: “Photographer 222” by Dave Crosby is licensed under CC by 2.0

Blogger Recognition Award

bloggerrecognitionawardThank you once again to Warrior Freya for this nomination. Its so encouraging to know that others enjoy what I write. I really appreciate it and it motivates me to keep on writing. If I hadn’t been nominated by Warrior Freya, I would have nominated her as well 😉

The Rules:

Post an image of the award
Thank your nominator
Nominate 15 blogs
Comment on the blogs so they know of their nomination
Write a brief description about your blog
Write 1-2 pieces of advice for a new blogger
Provide a link to the original BRA post

A brief description of my blog:

A twenty-something blogger shares her experiences of being introverted and highly sensitive and the things she’s learned along the way.

I initially started blogging so I could connect with others who were also introverted and highly sensitive. To express myself creatively and in an accepting environment. To gain catharsis by writing about things that frustrated me. To try to make sense of what is going on in my world. I wanted to write about the things that I’ve learned and record it somewhere other than in my memory.

Advice for a new blogger:

1. Write about something you love or are passionate about. Your passion and emotion about the subject will inspire you to create and share interesting posts. Or if you want to use your blog to record things that happen in your life, that’s awesome too.

2. Get involved in the community. The people I have met online through blogging are amazing. This community is incredible and being able to connect with people is probably the only reason I’m still blogging right now. Best ways to get involved are to read blogs, comment on other blogs, and reply to comments on your own blog 🙂

Some lovely blogs I’ve nominated:

Authentically Aurora
Scrubs and Stuff
Ben’s Bitter Blog
Salvageable
INFJ Ramblings
AS I PLEASE
The Mad Plant
New York Insomniac
InsanityBytes
desk nest shelf
the hidden voice
Creating your life journey
Peace With My Life
Silently Outspoken
Poetry, photos and musings oh my!

As always, please don’t feel obligated to accept  if you don’t want to. Just know how much I enjoy and appreciate your posts 🙂