Thursday, December 15, 2016
One of my favorite races, the Walt Disney World Marathon is next month. If you're heading to Disney to run the most magical race on earth you will need to pack. Here are my 11 tips on packing for a running vacation.
The time has come for me to pack my bags for Disney!! (insert massive, nervous energy squee here). The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is almost upon us. I’m thrilled to be going back to the parks.
But I’m also nervous because this will hurt. The marathon distance isn’t easy, folks. And, let’s face it, I could have trained better. I always feel like I could have done more when I'm looking down the barrel of a major event like this. It will hurt. But it will also be blissful, gleeful, exciting, and fun. My hubby, Handsome Jack, always says that Disney has the unique ability to transport you back in time to when magic was real and anything was possible. I tend to agree.
Disney World is a magical place. And running races at Disney is unlike any other race experience: it’s spectacular and overwhelming and easy to get swept up in the excitement. Getting swept up in the excitement can be great when you are three miles into a 26.2 mile marathon. But getting away in the fantasy of it all can be detrimental to your race vacation experience if you don’t plan properly. So this year I decided to plan my packing list. I did the same when I headed to RWA to ensure I didn't forget anything and the planning really helped. So hopefully my lessons learned will be useful to you.
Eleven Tips for Packing for a RunDisney Vacation:
1. Carry your running gear on the plane with you – don’t check the bag that includes your running clothes and race gear. Sure, you could buy all new race gear at the expo if you absolutely had to but you DO NOT want to be in that position. When I fly for non-running trips I general pack in a small carryon bag and a backpack. That’s it. But for a RunDisney trip I carry on my backpack and my gym bag. Inside my gym bag I carry body glide, number belts, extra safety pins, and hair ties in addition to my standard running gear of sports bras, leggings, and shirts.
2. Doing more than one race? Bring more than one pair of shoes – Handsome Jack and I learned this the hard way in 2013 when we did the Goofy Challenge. When Marathon day rolled around our shoes were still moist from the day before. Nothing terrible. But it was uncomfortable. And blister inducing. This year, with the Dopey Challenge we are definitely bringing two pairs of shoes.
3. Bring hand sanitizer and EmergenC – in 2013 Handsome Jack and I got the flu during the WDW Marathon Weekend. We started feeling bad the day of the Half. We spent most of the day, after the race, in our rooms, asleep. About 2/3rds of the way through the Marathon we knew something was off. We were more than tired. We were sick. WDW is a magical place but it can also be a festering pit of germs. Be prepared. Get your flu shot. Bring hand sanitizer to use between regular hand washing. And bring your vitamins or Airborne or EmergenC. Bring it and use it.
4. Bring Ziploc baggies, BioFreeze, and Ace Bandages – I don’t know why I didn’t think about this sooner, but your hotel will surely have an ice machine. Use it. Fill those baggies and wrap them onto sore spots with the Ace bandages. You’ll feel better, faster, with application of ice. There will also be ice available at the end of the longer races (Half and Full) which I always take advantage of. But for in-room icing you can’t go wrong with zip lock baggies.
5. Bring food. Food is your friend – I’m a huge fan of staying on property and using the Disney Meal Plans. We love going to the very nice restaurants WDW has to offer but running makes you HUNGRY, or as some like to say, Rungry. You may not like the snacks available in your resort. You may not want to shake up your diet a few days before a big race. Either way, it’s best to bring some simple food with you. I like to bring jerky, walnuts, almonds, and instant oatmeal. Just remember, like with most race related advice, stay away from anything new on or near race day. This is not the Disney trip where you test if the human body can sustain on nothing but Dolewhips.
6. Don’t forget trash bags and tube socks – okay, this one sounds strange, I know, but stay with me. The starts to the WDW races are usually a bit of a hike from where the buses drop you off. That means a shivery, early morning hike to the race start is in your future. To stay warm, consider bringing trash bags. Rip a hole for your head and suddenly your sporting something Mugatu might put in his Derelicte campaign (any Zoolander fans out there? Anyone?). Tube socks are simple, cheap ways to keep your fingers warm.
7. Oh, and don’t forget your water bottle – this seems like a no brainer. You can carry on an empty water bottle. I love my big 64 ounce bottle. And you can bring water into the parks. It’s important to stay hydrated.
8. Costumes elements and the equally important Costume repair kits – this is my first year running a Disney race in costume (and I will be doing 4 races). If costumes are important to you don’t risk checking them. Carry them on in your carryon. But if you don’t have room (like me) then you’ll need to check them. The costumes required a lot of prep work and now that they are done, I needed to make sure every costume was packed with all its pieces. To do this, I laid out each costume and all of its parts, then rolled each element (to save space) and packed them together in one bag I plan to check. Next, I gathered items that I thought would be handy in making in-room costume repairs: glue gun, glue sticks, sewing kit, etc.
9. Staying on property? Don’t forget your Magic Bands – again, seems like a no brainer but I nearly forgot ours. We left ours out on the kitchen counter thinking we couldn’t possibly forget them if they were sitting there…..uh, yeah. We almost did. So I shoved our Magic Bands into my carryon. Done.
10. K.I.S.S. clothes for the rest of the trip – running comfortably is always a priority for me, so much so that on running vacations my running gear takes up a lot of packing space. We still have fun - We try to go at least one park every day during a runDisney vacation. But the clothes I pack for the days in the park fall into the KISS category (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I bring outfit elements that I can easily wear more than once (given they stay relatively clean) and only one pair of comfortable shoes (two max, if space will allow) and a pair of flipflops. Granted, this is harder if you have any fancy plans that involve dressing up. Since it can be warm in FL, even in January, I also pack a bathing suit.
And one more for good measure:
11. Bring Ibuprofen and Imodium AD – these are optional, I suppose, but come in handy. I take the Ibuprofen after a race to help with aches and pains. You can buy it on property at some kiosks but it’s pricy. And the Imodium is helpful if you want to prevent going number two while on the go. If you’re running for time you might not want to take a potty break. I’m not running for time this year so I don’t know if I will use it or not. But I’m bringing it, just in case.
That’s my packing plan. I hope it helps you prepare for your running vacation. Enjoy those magical miles.
Monday, November 21, 2016
It's Thanksgiving week, which, in the wild world of law school means I'm studying all week.
Just wanted to wish you well before I fall into my inevitable carb coma.
Have a terrific Turkey Day with friends and family~
And if you are running a Turkey Trot - good luck and stay warm!
Just wanted to wish you well before I fall into my inevitable carb coma.
Have a terrific Turkey Day with friends and family~
And if you are running a Turkey Trot - good luck and stay warm!
Thursday, November 17, 2016
It's that time of year - the time where we go crazy for deals. If you're going shopping (either at a brick and mortar or online) don't forget to support your favorite authors.
In today’s brave new world of publishing it can be easy to pit indie pub against trad pub in a real, Katniss-vs-The Capital sort of way (can you tell I just saw Mockingjay Pt1? LOL). And although that can be fun, I’m not sure it's entirely accurate.
I think it can be easy to believe Authors, especially those with fancy, trad published books at your local book store (be it big or small) as just another cog in the wheel of big business. After all, they got an advance(maybe), they get royalties (possibly), they have a big 5 house backing them and doing their marketing and publicity….right?
No. Not right. Not all the time, anyway. Not even most of the time.
Authors are a small business of one. Yes, even those who contract with a big 5 publishing house to make their book. Still a business of one.
If the Author chooses to hire an agent (that’s right, I said the author chooses to hire the agent) then great, business of two. It’s the Author’s revenue that supports the Agent (and don’t get me wrong, Agents, from what I can tell, are worth every penny). If the Author chooses to hire an editor in addition to the agent, now you have a business of three. It goes on and on from there.
The author is the creator of the product. Everyone else is contracted by the author to represent, polish, fabricate, sell, or market that product the author created. And more often than not the Author is spending their own money on some or all of these services (marketing, editing, publicity, travel, you name it, they spend on it).
Authors are CEO’s of their own business (and sometimes more than that – sometimes they are CEO, COO, VP of Marketing and Distribution, etc. etc.) The publishers, whether indie or trad, are vendors hired by the Author to produce the book. That’s how I like to think of it anyway.
Somewhere along the way we stopped seeing authors as entrepreneurs and shifted into seeing them as something…else.
Well, not all of us. Chuck Wendig has been calling himself an author/entrepreneur for a good long while. *tips hat to Mr. Wendig* If I had a beard I would scratch it in your honor, good sir.
I say all of this as a reminder that this weekend, after the turkey has been devoured by you and your family, and you’ve pulled yourself out of bed at an unholy hour to go shopping , we shouldn’t forget to support an Author.
Buy a book. Any book.
Indie pub’d? Great. Buy it.
Trad pub’d from a local bookstore? Still great.
eBook? Awesome. Buy it.
Online bookstore? Still great.
Because with each and every purchase some of that money is flowing back to the author. The small business at the heart of it all.
Can't afford to buy a book? Consider supporting an author another way.
This weekend, get out there and support an Author.
Want more about Author as entrepreneur? Check out these posts:
Supporting Small Business
Self Publishing Truism Bingo by Chuck Wendig
Check The Box: Do You Want To Be Your Own Publisher, Yes Or No? - by Chuck Wendig
Thursday, October 20, 2016
National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner and as you're prepping for the annual write-a-thon you may want to consider character. As in, what makes a strong character. Because it's the strong characters that really stick with us.
Below are some thoughts on strong characters and what it takes to write one.
I’ve seen some posts recently about what it takes to craft a strong character. Specifically, strong female characters. Probably the best stated post about this subject comes from Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds. (Go ahead and read his post, then come back here).
What I love about Chuck’s strong character theory is that the key is agency. Strong characters have to have it. Don't know what agency is? Check out his post Just What The Humping Heck Is Character Agency Anyway.
I agree that agency is vitally important in the characters we build. Stories are flat without characters who can enact change in their world. We mortals can relate to characters in stories who have doubt or fear but we look up to characters who choose to act in spite of that fear and doubt. It’s the action that makes a hero.
For me, what makes a character ‘strong’ is their decision to act. It’s what the character faces and chooses to overcome that makes them strong. At least for me.
Some of my favorite ‘strong’ characters in TV:
· Mindy from The Mindy Project – Sure it’s a comedy but Mindy chooses to move forward and chase the things that are important to her (even the silly things). Her choice to follow her dreams is what makes her strong.
· Felicity from Arrow – I’m always drawn to ‘normal’ people in ‘super hero’ shows/movies because their ‘normalness’ makes their choice to act more powerful. Felicity is that powerful normalness. The quiet hero.
· Tara from Sons of Anarchy – She faces horrible circumstances and what she does with those circumstances makes her strong. She's not strong all the time, which I think makes her more interesting. Example, Season 1 Tara would never have said 'I don't need a boy to handle my shit.' She has growth throughout the story which makes her one strong cookie.
· Daryl, Maggie, Glen, and many more from the Walking Dead – I love this show (even though I haven't kept up on the last season). There are so many different strengths to see in this show it's impossible to pick just one fave (but if you made me pick I'd choose Daryl, of course).
Some of my favorite ‘strong’ characters in recent reads:
· Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – a Romance!! Yes, characters in romance novels can be strong. Lola is strong. She chooses to follow her heart – even when that choice means pain.
· Maggie from the International School series by Chanel Cleeton – Maggie travels oversees for school and chooses to have the time of her life. Her choices lead her into some challenging and steamy situations.
· Ava from the After the Rain by Renee Carlino – Ava is haunted by personal tragedies but she chooses to grow and live. It's her choice to bravely love herself again that makes her a strong character.
· Anna from the Sweet trilogy by Wendy Higgins – She faces enormous pressure (internal and external) from both sides (evil and good) and what she chooses to do in the face of that pressure is what makes her strong.
Those characters stand out as 'strong' for me. What do you think?
How would you define a ‘strong’ character? Share your favorite strong characters from books/tv/film here.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
You've done it - you've survived your first few classes of law school. If you are like me you're probably teeming with thoughts about the experience. Well, you are not alone.
I wrote this when I was still in the heat of the semester while everything was fresh. As scary as it seems, you are not alone.
Here are my first impressions about law school.
I’ve endured a little over a month’s worth of 1L hell and have had the opportunity to form my first impressions of law school. And, let's be honest, what’s the point of having a blog if I’m not going to word-vomit my personal reflections into the world from time to time (or all the time…as it were *cough* *cough*). So on with the vomiting, er, I mean opining. Here are my 5 first impressions about law school:
1. Back to school - If you're like me and you are going back to school to study law after working for a few years the stupidity of school might be challenging. And when I say the stupidity of school let me be clear - universities and colleges can do stupid stuff. The people you encounter (likely students employed by various departments of the school) lack any professionalism and customer service skill (I'm talking about you, Bookstore Lady. You know who you are.) You pay money for the privilege of being treated like crap....it's school. That won’t change because it's 'grad' school or 'professional' or 'law' school. Try to take the stupidity with a grain of salt and roll with the punches.
2. The work – Law school is a boatload of brain-busting work. It's hard. I read cases in undergrad and it wasn't as hard as this. I've read SCOTUS opinions, in full, online, that weren’t as hard as this. The cases are dense, the legal scholarship is dense, and sometimes the stuff you learn flies in the face of what you spent a life time learning (two spaces after a period? WTF do you think this is, 1945? Come on now.) It's supposed to be hard. Expect it to be hard and you’ll be in the right mindset.
3. Classrooms Aren’t As Scary As You’ve Heard - you've probably heard law school teachers are different. You’ve probably heard people say the professors use the Socratic Method to teach, whatever that means, and they like to crush students into puddles of tears. Well, those people aren't wrong....but they aren't right either (who ever 'they' are. Stupid rumor mongers). Teachers, from what I can tell, don’t want to see you cry or freak out. The Socratic Method, for the most part, means the teachers ask questions of the class instead of lecturing. Here's an example:
Prof: "If you enter into an agreement with your friend to rob a bank is that a binding contract?"
Another student raises their hand: "Because there was no consideration or exchange."
Prof: "Okay, let's say you and your friend enter into an agreement where if you help him rob a bank he will pay you 50% of the take. Is that a binding contract?"
Student: "Yes. Because there is a promise of a consideration or an exchange."
Prof: "Is it?"
Different student: "Yes, it's a future promise so it's a binding executory contract."
Prof: "Are you sure?"
Different student: "No. It's not a binding contract."
Prof: "Good. Why?"
Student: "Because it's an agreement to do something illegal. The illegal nature of the activity voids the contract."
Or something like that.
Not so scary, is it?
The key to surviving this method is doing the homework. Shocker, I know~! You must do the homework. And if you mess up your reading (because you got the assignments confused, or a flying monkey ate your Torts book or otherwise converted your chattels, tell your professor before class. I’ve witnessed someone flounder through a cold call who didn’t do the reading and it was painful. After the Prof drilled them for questions (and helped them out a time or two) she asked if they did the reading. The student said he didn’t do the reading for this week because he read next week’s cases by mistake. The professor replied, “Next time tell me so I don’t call on you.”
She could have said this:
The lesson is that painful, embarrassing crap could have been avoided had the kid just let the professor know they had made a mistake (or done the reading).
4. Get comfortable being average – You are a high achiever, right? That’s why you got into law school in the first place. Maybe you were top of your class in undergrad. Maybe you have a Phd in some mind-blowingly complex STEM subject. Maybe you kick the LSAT’s butt until it begged for mercy. You are smart so give yourself a pat on the back. Now look around you. Everyone in your law school is smart too. Yep, that’s right. Out in the wilds of the world you may have been a special snowflake of brilliance but in here, in law school, you are average. You will not get straight A’s. You won’t. You can’t get straight A', actually, because the forced curve in the 1L courses basically prevents it (or makes it nearly impossible to get an A). Get comfortable being average (easier said than done for us high-achieving folks, amirite?). Chances are good you will not be top of your class. Chances are good you will not be top 10% of your class. That doesn’t mean you don’t try – try hard, do the work, etc. All I mean is you need to get snuggly with the idea that you may not be top of your class and that’s okay. I’m only a month in and have already witnessed a handful of freak-outs over this very issue. Being average is relative and being average in law school isn’t (or shouldn’t be) an insult.
5.1. The people - oh my lawd, the people of law school! I had to break this observation into two points because it seems that everyone in law school falls into one of two categories: A*holes and non-A*holes. Let’s talk about the former first. There is a dark, sinister minority of students in law school who can make life painful. Of course I’m talking about the A*hole student. In law school they are called gunners. The stereotypical gunner is someone who works to sabotage their classmates but that is actually not the most common gunner. Mostly, gunners in the part-time evening classes are just douchey. They argue for the sake of arguing. They get stuck on syntax instead of the theory. They essentially believe they know more about the law than the professor. When they get called out for their behavior they backtrack and swear that they weren't being a douche. They love to hear themselves talk so they constantly volunteer during class but not in meaningful ways (.....I think I dated a gunner once....*swallows back the vomit*).Even having two of these gunners in a class can make for painful discussions. So call them gunners or call them douchebags....they exist and you need to be ready.
5.2. The people, cont. – The good news is there will be no shortage of nice, non-A*hole people at law school. And, here again, I think I benefit from going to school as a part-time night student because my classes are mostly filled with working adults. My classmates, for the most part, are mature enough to not get swept up in the gossiping BS. These cool, non-A*hole students are helpful and encouraging and funny. They are the light in the darkness so-to-speak. These non-A*hole students will become your friends and together you will survive this. Gotta love the non-A*holes of the world. And aside from the occasional douche your classes will be filled with non-A*hole people who are smart. Some will be smarter than you (see getting comfortable with being average above). Some will get the material faster than you. Who cares? You'll get through it. Do the work. Talk to folks, make friends, and ask for help often (before it's too late). Its school and you've done it before. You'll survive this too. At least that's my plan.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
And so it begins: law school. Traditionally, law school begins in August every year. Although I've been through this before, I'm still a 1L. I'm a part-time student which means I haven't accumulated enough credits to be a true 2L. So, in solidarity with my 1L brethren, I offer these insights on what to do during your first semester.
When my study group and I were wrapping up our first semester of law school we reflected back on what we wish we would have done to make the semester a little less stressful.
School is hard enough without making it harder by missing opportunities. Effective and efficient management of school work is the name of the game.
So, for those of you crazy enough to attempt the JD degree, here are the 5 tips from my study group on how to effectively prepare for exams:
1. Do your reading. This should go without saying but I said it so I’m going to talk about it. Being prepared is a big deal in law school. It’s considered unprofessional to show up without having done the reading. Read your cases. Brief your cases. Some upperclassmen may tell you not to ‘waste’ time with briefing but to them I say “back off you crazy, lazy, gunning b*stards.” Briefing is a substantial study tool and a helpful skill to develop. Don’t sell yourself short. You got here – now do the work.
2. Start outlining earlier! If your school is anything like mine, then they will have this super nice Academic Success Program. The program involves students presenting on tips and tricks for succeeding in law school. One of the tips they offered was to wait to outline until November (about a month before exams). The theory was that you, as a new law student, wouldn't really understand how the rules fit together so your outline wouldn't make sense. But, I'm telling you, start as soon as possible. And when I say start, I mean, grab the table of contents for your case book and compare it to your syllabus. Write up a rough outline of subjects using those two resources as a guide. Do it before classes start if you can. And then, each week, type your class notes under the applicable section heading. This will help you tremendously when exams are looming over you.
3. Type your notes each week. Some of my professors didn't allow laptops in class which meant taking notes by hand. This didn't bother me because the act of writing something down always seemed to cement it in my mind. However, outlines are typed. And outlining is easier and faster if your notes are typed. Just don't do what most of my study group did - don't let your notes pile up. It's overwhelming and you don't need anything else overwhelming on your plate.
4. Run hypos sooner. When you get close to exams you'll likely want to run hypos. This means finding a study aid (like E&E's) and reading their hypothetical questions and noodling out your best guess of an answer. We did this for hours and hours on end before exams. But we all agreed it would have helped us tremendously if we had tackled hypos each week. Learn something new in Contracts? Run a corresponding hypo to make sure you understand the material. The exercises help you recall the concepts and keep the materials fresh.
5. Meet with your study group sooner. We all agreed we wish we would have started meeting sooner. Meet each week. Meet whenever. But meet sooner than you think you need to. Meet and discuss what was covered in class. Meet and talk through your questions. Meet and work on your collaborative outline. Do whatever. But meet. Meeting helped us stay accountable and kept us on track.
Hope these tips help. Have additional tips? Share them here.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
It's that time of year! The time of year when new 0L's law students begin stressing obsessively about becoming 1L's. (They don't call it 1L Hell for nothin'). Ah, I remember those days. It seems like a lifetime ago.
I wrote this post after wrapping up my first semester exams. I had some perspective at this point and could reflect on what you should do before you even step foot in the building. Take your freedom seriously, because it's about to end. Embrace your last bit of summer.
I'm done with my first semester of 1Lhell. Which means I'm sleeping as much as humanly possible and trying to have fun (you know, that three letter word that was so familiar BEFORE school). So I thought I'd take a moment to reflect over the beginning of it all. If you are starting law school in the future maybe these things will come in handy.
Here are my top 9 things to do before starting law school:
1. Talk to everyone! Tell everyone who will listen that you are going to law school. I mean, don’t be a jerk about it but get the word out. Who knows, someone may know someone who is an attorney and *boom* instant network connection. Networking is a constant in the professional world. For those who haven’t worked in a career before this will come as a shock. For those of you (like me) who are pursuing law as a second (or third) career you know networking starts now. Heck, maybe it started yesterday. Just get to it and don’t worry about sounding silly. You’re a 1L – no one expects you to know everything.
2. Get a good, light weight, laptop. This cannot be understated. You will already have about a billion pounds worth of books to lug around. Who wants to lug around a 5 million pound 17 in’ laptop? No one. *insert aint no one got time for that meme* I use a Microsoft Surface (pro 2) and I love it. Some people will tell you to get a Mac – I’m not a super Mac fan but if that’s what floats your boat then, by all means, float your boat.
3. Get your job sitch figured out – you don’t need any extra stress. Set expectations early with your employer that you will need flexibility in order to make school work.
4. Get your home sitch figured out – home is essential. It’s where you unwind. It’s where you relax. It’s where you spend your time when you aren’t at work or at the library. So start talking to your SO’s or family now. Set expectations with them early and often. This is going to be a HUGE change and they need to be on board. They are your partners in this endeavor. You need their support.
5. Have as much fun as possible – this is your last moment of freedom before you commit to a grueling lifestyle of hard work. Take this moment to celebrate EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Celebrate getting into school. Celebrate the fact that it’s Thursday. Just be sure you are enjoying life because when things get hard you’ll want happy memories to see you through.
6. Visit family – you may not be able to travel for every holiday anymore. Sure, you have Thanksgiving week off from class but it’s also the last week before finals. You’ll want that time to study. So maybe that means spending turkey day at home instead of with the fam. Plan now for how you will spend your holidays and set those expectations. You’ll feel a lot less stress if you take care of it now. Not to mention the total awesome feeling you’ll get from spending time with your loved ones.
7. Get your personal medical issues in order – I was getting headaches as I studied for the LSAT. I had Lasik about 10 yrs ago and knew it was guaranteed so I made time to visit with the eye doc and find out what was causing my headaches. The issue was nothing that could be corrected with a repeat procedure so it was determined that I needed glasses. Better that I got those glasses before school as opposed to suffering through and then getting them in the middle of first semester. This applies to mental health issues as well. I’m glad I didn’t wait until the semester started to discuss my mental health with my provider. This is serious stuff. You need to take it seriously.
8. Plan to protect your time – a lot of people will tell you that just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you need to give up on the things that you love. If you’re like me and you enjoy running and fitness then schedule time in your day to work out. It’s not enough to schedule the time. You need to protect that time like a momma bear protects her cubs. Luckily for me I’ve learned this skill because I love to write and writing is a task that can get easily run over by the rest of life. Now, this is easier said than done. For example, I regularly miss my workouts and have had to drop writing sessions completely for a while. But it’s not because I didn’t try. I did. I am. And I’m adapting my schedule to what will work.
9. Sleep. Sleeeeeeeeep. For the love of god sleep. You will likely run on less sleep than you thought possible once school gets underway. So make sure you aren’t going into it already operating at a deficit.
Hope these tips help you as you get ready to start your law school journey.
Have you been through 1Lhell? What did you wish you could have done before the semester started? Share here.