musings on addiction, mental health, and one year free from alcohol

TW // alcohol/food/eating disorders

One year ago today, I did something I’ve done countless times before. I came home from a full day of hiking and swimming, and drinking IPAs on an otherwise empty stomach. I was so thoroughly buzzed when my friend dropped me off at home that I passed out in my recliner right away.

PASSED OUT

About an hour later, I woke up feeling disgusted. Not physically ill the way I’d often get from drinking too much — relatively speaking, I hadn’t even drunk that much — but deeply disappointed in myself. I’d yet again failed to stay within the “moderate drinking” limits I set for myself.

These feelings of shame and self-loathing were familiar. They always followed my inevitable deviation from the strict guidelines I’d set for myself around what, where, with whom, and how much alcohol I was allowed to drink. Sometimes, I could only have wine or beer. Other times, I’d only drink on weekends (even though I observed a self-employment schedule that didn’t acknowledge days off).

This pattern of setting rules, then breaking them, then hating myself for it, was beginning to reveal itself as a vicious, self-destructive spiral.

So, upon awakening from my mid-afternoon nap that day, I declared that I’d had enough. I was going to quit drinking again.

It was “again” because I’d stopped drinking at least three times in the previous two years. I’d stop with a predetermined timeline in mind. The first time, I’d lasted the entire winter season and felt quite proud of myself. Then, I tried to make 2020 my first full year free from alcohol. That one fizzled out the day we went into pandemic lockdown.

So, what was different this time?

I took the first step (side note – a hummingbird just peeped in my window as I wrote this. A sign from the universe that I’m doing good!)

And by taking the first step, I mean I admitted I was powerless over alcohol.

I probably wouldn’t have taken this step without a gentle nudge from my life coach, Cat, who I now realize I subconsciously sought out because I knew she had worked the 12 steps and was more than a decade into sobriety.

During our next session, I recounted my experience and renewed determination to quit drinking.

Cat asked, “how much space does alcohol take up in your mind, Lauren?”

Obsession was the first word that popped up, but I didn’t say it out loud. The word obsession felt accurate. Like thoughts of alcohol consumed me if I wasn’t consuming alcohol. It wasn’t unlike my relationship with food during bouts of disordered eating. In fact, the two experiences are very similar.

As it happens, the more I learn about addiction from gurus like Russell Brand* and Julia Cameron*, the more I see the same basic structure applied to a broad spectrum of obsessive and compulsive behaviors that branch off from the same trunk. For example, my tendency to pick up my phone and open Instagram without conscious awareness of what I’m doing or why feels like reliving a childhood memory of reaching into a bag of BBQ potato chips, shoving them in my mouth, and robotically grabbing for more before the flavor even registers on my taste buds.

But, I’d never thought too much about these patterns before. Primarily because they made me feel uncomfortable, but also because my life wasn’t a total mess. Sure, I drank too much, but not any more than most of my friends. It’s true that I picked fights, puked everywhere, and occasionally showed up to work hungover, but I’d never lost my job, driving privileges, or relationships due to drinking.

I didn’t think I was dysfunctional and I definitely hadn’t hit bottom. Not due to alcoholism, anyway (more on that later).

Admitting that I am an addict brought a sense of freedom. It gave a name to the murky feelings I tried so hard, for so long, to deny. It relieved me of a heavy burden.

It literally was the first step on a well-laid and extensively-traveled path.

After making it one whole year without drinking, I really thought I’d feel different. A sense of accomplishment, maybe? Or like I’d arrived at something.

But today feels more like a beginning than a finish line. It’s like how I felt after my wedding (except not hungover). I had this sense of completion. The planning was finished. The event that had consumed all of my attention was over. But then the sense of commitment to my marriage kicked in and I realized all the congratulations were premature.

I can’t help but think about freedom in the way the narrator from Fight Club expresses it.

I don’t know why this particular scene keeps swirling through my mind, but I imagine it has something to do with letting go. Surrendering. No longer trying to keep up with my friends who don’t have drinking problems. No more striving to be some imagined “better” version of myself. Just me, giving up the chase of perfection and accepting myself as the person I am right now, flaws and all.

No, especially the flaws.

This morning, I journaled about the time I felt I really did hit bottom. When I was 18 or 19 and losing control of my life to manic depressive disorder, my parents gave me a two-week deadline to get straightened out or I’d be moving to a halfway house.

I don’t remember the conversation, exactly. All I remember is sitting down at their kitchen table later that day and hearing a voice in my head say, “It’s not going to get any worse than this, so you might as well start trying.” Whether that was my inner child, my guardian angel, or God talking, I don’t know. But I felt calm, clear, and at peace for the first time in a long time. The struggling, the spiraling, the fear – all of it ceased in that moment.

I was at the bottom. I felt the sturdiness of the rock floor. I took a few deep breaths before picking myself up again, knowing that any action I took would be an improvement on my current situation.

However, that wound never healed properly. I was so eager to move on from that time in my life and never wanted to look back on it.

At the time, I believed that I was the only person who could help me. This belief solidified over the years, deepening a pit of isolation within myself. Outwardly, I became obsessed with showing the world how wrong it was about me. My drive came from the need to prove to myself and others that I was not some broken thing unable to care for herself.

I could go back to school and get the best grades in class. I could be skinnier than everyone, have all the boyfriends, and volunteer while working a full- and part-time job, taking night classes, and training for a marathon.

I could do ALL THOSE THINGS because I was BETTER.

I was better.

I heard it in my mind and from those around me. “I’m so glad you’re better, now.”

No, I wasn’t. I was the same person, presented in more socially acceptable packaging. I was sleep-deprived, starved, and working my skinny little ass off.

I remember my acupuncturist telling me, “You’re like an alcoholic, but with work.”

I was so offended. Why wasn’t she praising me?

Workaholism, internet addiction, and disordered eating are a few other ways in which I avoided feeling angry, lonely, and bored (and maybe even boring). But I found drinking to be one of the fastest and easiest ways to temporarily escape. It was also the most difficult addiction for me to confront.

Back to the present…

In the weeks leading up to this day, I imagined a celebration. I thought I’d write a blog post about all the ways in which my life has become richer and more fulfilling since I stopped drinking (there are so many – better sex, inner peace, more authentic relationahips, etc). Or the ways I cope when I want to drink (Starbursts and prayer, anyone?) But instead, I feel sad and a little bit angry.

Why?

Because I grew up believing that alcoholism was a dirty word. That people with addictions were less-than, lazy, or weak. I grew up hiding the fact that I had a mental health disorder because I felt ashamed. I treated myself so poorly for so many years.

So today, I’m leaning into the power of vulnerability and sharing my story. Because reading and hearing other people’s stories was one of the ways in which I realized I didn’t have to wait until I lost everything to get help. Anyway, I can’t very well claim to be an advocate for the destigmatization of mental health issues without owning my own.

One thing is for sure, I’m dropping the old belief that I could ever recover fully on my own. The older I get, the more I appreciate the love and support that surrounds me.

So, for this year of freedom from alcohol, I want to thank my friends and family. I have boundless gratitude for the sober women in my life, especially Hayley (find yourself a friend who’s a spiritual guru AND a comedian) and for all the resources that exist to help me stay on track.

I’m also grateful for the ways in which society is changing to grow more accepting and inclusive of people with substance use and mental health disorders. Talking about it without shame or judgement really does help.

And with that, I’m off to continue on this endless path of sobriety, one day at a time, carrying the confused young woman pictured below on my shoulders.

I didn’t keep many drunk photos of myself, and here’s why. I think what you see here is the result of stealing pieces of everyone’s clothing, putting them all on, and taking a bathroom mirror pic in a bar somewhere in eastern Washington

* this is an affiliate link. As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a small commission for any purchases you make after clicking this link.

Advertisement

Sha’Carri Richardson through the eyes of a woman who smokes weed, runs, and writes about it

Life is a journey, not a destination, right?

Or is it a marathon and not a sprint?

But what about when a sprinter is destined to represent the United States at the Olympics and her personal choices alter her course?

Of course, I’m talking about Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinting supernova who crushed the 100-meter Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon last month. And if ya don’t already know, Richardson has since been suspended for one month after testing positive for cannabis. The suspension means she won’t compete in the 100-meter Olympic race, and may not participate in the Tokyo Games at all.

**UPDATE** Since publishing this, it’s been declared that Sha’Carri Richardson was not selected for the Olympic relay team

A lot of folks in my little corner of the internet have expressed feelings about this.

To my shock and pleasure, most of the anger I’ve observed is directed at the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), not Richardson herself. I should point out that my corner is inhabited by a large population of successful women in the cannabis industry and runners from all walks of life.

How I feel about Sha’Carri’s suspension

As something of a mouthpiece for female athletes who use cannabis, I feel called to throw my two cents in.

The way I see it, the praise for Richardson’s choice to prioritize self-care over meeting expectations, the call for cannabis’s removal from the USADA’s list of banned substances, and the demand to see her run, anyway — these are signs of progress toward a more compassionate culture.

So much has changed since Steve Prefontaine blazed the track at The University of Oregon. Athletes are under an increasing amount of pressure, not only to perform but to represent an ideal that no human can embody. Who can sprint across a finish line carrying the weight of expectations of an entire nation on her shoulders? Is that even possible?

Then along came Sha’Carri Richardson, with her long nails, lashes, and orange hair. Leaning so hard into her own self-expression, Sha’Carri would stand out even if she wasn’t the fastest woman in America, which, BTW, she still is.

And that’s how I see her, whether she toes any line in Tokyo or not. She’s already left such a deep impression on women’s running, there’s no going back.

With that said, I didn’t joint the rallying call to let her run.

Why?

Because, like it or not, everyone knows cannabis is on the USADA’s list of banned substances. Richardson knew what she was compromising when she decided to use weed. According to interviews, she used cannabis in Oregon, where it’s been legal for years, after learning about her biological mother’s death.

IMHO — legally purchasing a plant-based product that’s been scientifically proven to alleviate anxiety is one of the more responsible things a 21-year old who’s already under enormous amount of pressure can do in that situation!!!

But still, I’m not signing any petitions to let her race in the Tokyo Olympics. That doesn’t mean I won’t cheer her on if she makes it there!

She’s an adult. She made this decision. Now, she’s accepting responsibility for it, and quite gracefully, too!

I think she said it best, herself:

Yes. She’s human, and so are you. I don’t know about you, but if my mom just passed away, I’d prrrrrobably rather do some bong rips and cry than compete in a high-pressure competition on the other side of the world.

No one I pay attention to has condemned Richardson for using cannabis (bless this glorious little bubble in which I live), but I’m sure some people out there are. I assume there’s a whole population who are laying all kinds of shame on this woman…

and the way she’s handling it shows more maturity than I could muster at age 30, much less 21.

On a separate, but related note…

Why is cannabis still on the list of banned substances?

I don’t have the answer and have yet to read anything that provides a satisfactory explanation. (Have you? Do share!)

Last summer, I was interviewed by Women & Weed magazine for an article about cannabis use in female athletes. I remember the journalist asking me if I thought cannabis was a performance enhancing drug. My answer didn’t make the cut, so I’ll share it with you now:

I’m not qualified to say whether it is or it isn’t. (Journalists hate hearing this!) I’m, not a physician, fitness expert, or elite athlete.

I’ve also never showed up to a race high because I feared the opposite — that eating weed would be detrimental to my performance. That I might get lost on the trail or decide to forego the race in favor of watching the clouds go by…

I also never used cannabis the night before a track workout — when I’d meet my friend at 5:30 am and make my body move as fast as it could go — for fear it would slow me down or dull my edge.

What I can say is that I believe using cannabis throughout my training has made me a stronger runner overall. It helped relieve the boredom of flat long runs on rail trails, reduced tissue inflammation, and facilitated the rest and recovery I needed so much, yet struggled to allow myself. I think any athlete can benefit from these effects of cannabis.

So, although I don’t have all the answers — or any — it seems to me that the rules need to change. If there’s no proven performance-enhancing benefit to using cannabis, why not take it off the banned substances list!?

It’s 2021! Years have passed since the powers that were have admitted that the primary purpose of criminalizing marijuana was to imprison Black people! Why is bullshit like this still happening???

Wake up and smell the flowers, people!

Okay, now I need to go run off some anger.

Anyway, in conclusion, Sha’Carri Richardson is a superstar with or without the Tokyo Gold and breaking stupid, antiquated rules is still breaking rules.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please share!

New newsletter before the new year!

Hey friends!

Hope you’re staying safe and merry (as possible) during this very, erm… different holiday season.

I started a self-love newsletter at actpot.substack.com and would love it if you continued to follow me there. I wrote my first post about why I started a new thing at this time. I’m planning a weekly or biweekly drop for now, definitely nothing that’s going to clutter your inbox.

You can also follow me on Twitter (which I rarely use) and Instagram (where I hang out most).

Peace, love, and punk rock always,

Lauren

a few thoughts on anti-racism and how we can do better

There’s so much anger and sadness in the world today, and rightfully so. Up until this point, I’ve been pretty quiet- on my blog, on social media, and online in general. 

Part of that is because I just didn’t know what to say. Honestly, I still don’t.

But I recognize that silence is part of the problem. 

About two weeks ago, George Floyd was killed by a police officer. Another unarmed black man murdered by a system that’s finally being exposed as the inherently white supremicist institution it’s always been. 

It’s disgusting, upsetting, and vile.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Not because it doesn’t deserve attention, but because so many others are covering the issue in greater detail and with more expertise than I have to offer here. If you’re not already doing so, I urge you to educate yourself. 

Watching these videos is a good place to start:

Trevor Noah’s brilliant comments on the social contract
John Oliver on the broken police system

Examining my own role in racism

I’ve never thought of myself as racist. I still don’t. You probably don’t either.

But recent events and the national call for change has triggered an outpouring of personal emotions. 

Coronavirus quarantine combined with witnessing brutal acts of explicit racism have led so many of us to sit with ourselves and examine our own attitudes and beliefs toward race.

This is heavy work.

And it’s so, so important.

If you feel angry, confused, or even depressed, you’re not alone.

The feelings I’m grappling with most are shame and guilt.

I started to express those feelings in my most recent instagram post:

The response to that post helped me realize that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

My greatest sense of guilt is around Ahmaud Arbery’s story. As a runner myself, this one hit especially close to home.

Even though this story was deeply disturbing, I failed to acknowledge it on my blog or on social media. And I feel like I should have. 

I should have confronted the horror that his story exposed instead of turning from it.

Maybe I had a lot of other projects going on at the time, but when I really sit with it, I can see that I made excuses to avoid it.

Because commenting on the topic of racism made me uncomfortable. And the more I sit with that, the more I can see how that was me contributing to this larger problem.

When it comes down to it, I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. 

Because, no matter how open my mind and my heart are, I’ve only ever experienced the world first-hand as a white woman.

I know that there’s a lot I’m missing because of that. There’s a lot I don’t understand.  

But now I see that, even if I do say the wrong thing and get criticized or corrected for it, I can use that as a learning experience.

I’ll admit, I’ve never made it a priority to educate myself about racism. But, now, I’m committed to learning.

I recommend this podcast as a first step in learning about anti-racism

I’m going to leave off here for now.

But I promise to keep doing the work and checking in here.

If you want to keep in touch, please sign up for my email list:

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

PS – I edited my last post on EFT tapping to remove the link to Jenna Kutcher’s podcast. Recent events have brought to light how poorly Jenna has handled race relations in the past and exposed her as a completely un-relatable, out-of-touch, and self-serving person. I no longer follow her accounts or support her work in any way.

Saying no to what no longer serves your highest self is part of personal development. I’m all for the collective change that’s happening right now and looking forward to building a better future.

EFT tapping: a free and easy way you can relieve stress and anxiety without therapy (or breaking anything)

How are you doing? I know I’m not the only one who’s had an extra-tough time staying positive this past week. That’s why I wanted to share this quick blog post about EFT tapping, a free and easy technique I use to combat anxiety, stress, and depression. (I talked about this a bit in my post about staying physically and mentally healthy during quarantine.)

I highly recommend EFT tapping for the following reasons:

  • Instantly reduce stress and feel happier
  • Dissolve anxiety, even in the middle of a panic attack
  • Increase confidence before a race
  • Stop spiraling into depression
  • Improve my focus and clarity

At the risk of sounding kinda woo, I’ve also used tapping to manifest things I want. I could argue that I used tapping to manifest the house I’m sitting in right now, but that story is for another post. Maybe even a book!

Tapping is easy to personalize for your own needs. I learned how to do it from Gala Darling:

Gala takes a twist on the technique. Instead of starting at the inner eyebrow point, Gala begins the tapping sequence on the top of the head. She also uses two hands, in a method she calls “power tapping.”

I just love the sound of power tapping!

With so many of us quarantined due to COVID-19, feelings of uncertainty and isolation can really take a toll on your physical and mental well-being.

This past week has been really tough for me. I’ve been feeling extra lonely since moving to a new place and haven’t yet found any trails I truly love.

While I’m sure my girl gang and my ideal patch of dirt are out there somewhere, my heart really felt their absence.

I started feeling a deep sadness and level of exhaustion that felt all too familiar.

Symptoms of depression. As many of you know, I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for most of my life.

Because I choose not to take medication for them anymore, I’m always on high alert for warning signs.

As soon as I recognized these signs, I stopped and immediately busted out my mental health toolkit. (This is not a literal kit, but a mental collection of resources.)

And what did I do?

  1. Told my husband I was having a rough day and I needed extra care
  2. Texted my best friend to set up a video chat date
  3. Ate some cannabis chocolate
  4. Took a hot shower and tapped on how I felt

Then, I dressed in my cozy robe, curled up in my favorite comfy chair, and watched the season finale of Outlander.

So good!

That was yesterday. Today, I feel 1000% better.

Even if you’ve never experienced clinical depression or any type of mental health condition, you may feel overwhelmed by the crazy environment we’re living in.

Maybe you’re one of the 20 million Americans who lost their job. Maybe you’re working from home and teaching your kids, wondering if you’ll ever have a moment of peace to yourself again?

Maybe you’re like me, and you just made a big move or another life change you’re already adjusting to and the added stress of a global pandemic just feels like too much sometimes.

This is all totally okay and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.

But if you ever wish you could feel better quickly and safely, why not try EFT tapping?

You can start with one of the links I included above, or with this article in healthline.

And if tapping sounds too woo woo for you, or if you’re worried about touching your face, no worries.

I’ve got another trick for you.

This one works best on anxiety.

When I’m feeling anxious or out of control, I ask myself, “Am I safe?”

And then, I look around the room, or wherever I am, and scan for dangers. So far, I haven’t found any.

And then I say, “YES” out loud to affirm that I’m safe.

Sometimes, I tap in the fact that I’m safe, but I usually don’t need to.

I also highly recommend tapping with Brad Yates! His YouTube channel has years of excellent tapping videos and guided visualizations!

I hope these resources help you cope with stress, during the coronavirus pandemic… and beyond!

Let me know if you end up trying it!

Be Well,

XoL

Happy [belated] Earth Day, love bugs!

Last week, our beautiful planet celebrated her 50th Earth Day.

I hope you hugged a tree! If not, there’s still time.

The weather was rough up in Maine, so I didn’t spend Earth Day exploring or adventuring as I would have liked to.

But I did seed several trays of vegetables and herbs for my garden. I also watched Stephen Colbert interview Michael Moore.

This is the first half of the interview

But I was especially moved by the second half of the interview, where Moore refers to the coronavirus as a “coming attraction” for what’s to come if we don’t change.

The second half of the Michael Moore interview

I love how he compares quarantine to a “time out” for humans. This is exactly how I feel about the situation. It’s like Mother Earth has told us to go to our rooms and think about what we’ve done.

And in the meantime, perpetually grey and smog-filled skies are finally turning blue. Wild animals are reclaiming their space. And, the best news of all, the PANDAS ARE GETTIN IT ON!

This is a crazy time. But it’s also an opportunity to learn and grow.

I hope you’re staying safe and healthy out there.

xoL

Happy 420, friends! How cannabis and running have always gone hand in hand (at least in my experience)

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because I’ve got cookies to bake! They’re not pot cookies, but I wish they were!

Whether you celebrate with edibles, Willie Nelson, or not at all, I wanted to wish you all a Happy 4/20.

This date makes me think back on when I first started using cannabis. Oddly enough, it was the same time I started running.

I always associated cannabis with fitness, and not just because of runner’s high! It was clear that ganja had much more to offer than the stereotypical couch lock and rampant munchies.

***Check out my post on how attitudes toward cannabis have changed ever since I “came out” about it***

I was never interested in running or smoking weed until I met my college boyfriend. He was an avid trail runner and high-functioning pothead. He had a career, a healthy diet, and the kind of easygoing charm that mother’s perceive as husband material.

Long story short, he was an example of how I could use cannabis AND have my shit together. At my young and impressionable age, that’s all I knew.

After work, he’d take a hit or two before going out for a run. Then, he’d come home and smoke a bit more while he stretched on the floor.

So, naturally, when I started running shortly after that, it made perfect sense to include weed. It always helped me focus on my form and calm the constant buzzz of my racing thoughts.

Generally, it just made the experience more enjoyable. Now that I write about the health benefits, of cannabis, I know it also contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that promote muscle recovery.

Fast-forward to my ultramarathon career, when I started taking edibles before long runs that were upwards of 20 miles. This type of stoned running helped by not only alleviating nagging pains, but also by quelling mental tedium.

Well, those cookies aren’t going to bake themselves.

I hope you enjoy this day in whatever way suits you best!

PS- I don’t know about you guys, but I find that all this free time in quarantine is really helping me keep my bong clean ;)

clear bong that says boss on it
Finally! A bong with my name on it!

PPS- Have you joined my email list, yet?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

I moved! Plus 7 things you can do to keep your mind and body healthy during the coronavirus pandemic

Wow, so much has changed in the weeks since my last post. I moved to Maine and bought a house! This all happened right as the Covid-19 pandemic was really starting to get crazy. 

me jumping for joy in front of our new home, a small grey cottage with solar panels. my dog is looking through the window
Home Sweet Home

We moved on St. Patrick’s Day, just a couple of days after people started sheltering in place. We loaded up our dogs and our possessions, drove about eight hours, and arrived at our new home just before dark.

In the time since then, my life, my running, and my work have all gone retrograde. I feel like I jumped through a rabbit hole and ended up in a place where nothing is familiar. 

Alice in Wonderland collage featuring Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, a cat, and a flamingo
Image by Ian Burt

Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, I’m sure you can relate.  

Maybe you’re among the many of us wondering what to do when the race you’ve been trining for gets canceled.

My 12-hour race in May was canceled, but I also registered for Burning River 50-miler in July. So far, that one is still on, but I’m just not feeling confident about it.

The move itself paused my training plan for about five days. I found that moving furniture and heavy boxes all day is enough of a workout.

But then, when I tried to start back up again, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to run, what roads were too busy, which trails would be runnable this time of year.

I almost bought a treadmill. I still might.

But that wasn’t all. I would finish a short run feeling exhausted. As if I was carrying the weight of collective dread on my back, getting heavier with every step.

Then, I realized what was wrong. I was trying to go back to “normal” in a time where normal does not exist.

I gave myself a couple of days to sink into it. To process the grief. To comfort my soul and relax my nervous system.

And then, when I was ready, I started thinking about how I could adapt to this strange time.

This is what I’ve been doing to stay sane and fit during quarantine.

1. Virtual energy healing

This is something I’ve been doing long before the coronavirus came along and it’s especially helpful now.

I’ve been a member of Amberlee Rose’s Body Talk healing circle for years now. Body Talk is a healing modality that’s kind of like acupuncture but without the needles. In addition to regular monthly sessions, Amberlee is offering bonus weekly immune tune-ups and grounding sessions right now.

She only opens the circle to new members seasonally, so make sure to join her email list if you’re interested!

I’m also a member of Gala Darling’s Vortex, which is basically an all-you-can-eat buffet of high-vibe goodies. Gala teaches a different tapping modality (I do a lot of tapping to move energy!) It’s called the emotional freedom technique (EFT). She also partners with experts who provide guided hypnotherapy, meditations, and visualizations to help reduce stress and boost your immune system. 

2. Creative restoration

Finally! After listening to just about every creative person I meet rave about the wonders of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I finally started reading it. I’m on week three and am happy to report that I haven’t skipped a day of my morning pages!

If you’re feeling stuck creatively, or just generally longing for something to change in your life, I highly recommend The Artist’s Way. Or, you can use this time to finally read whatever book (or stack of books) you’ve been meaning to get to but never have the time.

Not into reading? Bust out the watercolors, build a lego castle, the possibilities are ENDLESS!

My friend Amber is making beautiful moon phase necklaces out of pennies!

I bought one, obviously!

3. Indoor workouts

As you may know, trail running is the center of my universe, but the move and the lockdown have shaken up my normal workout routine. This is partly due to the lingering winter weather in this area.

We’ve been averaging about one snowstorm per week, the last of which knocked down a power line that laid across our road for several days. 

But it’s also due to the fact that I don’t know where the good trails are and I don’t think right now is the best time to go out exploring on my own.

With the health care system as stressed as it is, avoiding accidents and injuries is especially important. 

On dry days, I run back and forth on the half-mile stretch of dirt road we live on, usually with one to three dogs.

On rainy days, I ride Jason’s bike on the trainer.

Me riding a bike indoors wearing headphones
Cycling indoors can be boring, but a good podcast makes all the difference

I also started rowing regularly and upped my strength routine from three days a week to four. The extra resistance training gives my legs the workout they’re missing due to the absence of mountains. 

Exercising indoors gives you control over your workout regardless of the weather. That means there’s no excuse not to do them!

I was even able to work out every day we didn’t have power. Bonus- doing burpees in my kitchen motivates me to keep the floor squeaky clean… even under the cabinets!!

4. Home projects

There are still plenty of days where the joy of owning a home far outweighs the stress and anxiety of the coronavirus. It’s so exciting to plan and execute home projects!

So far, we’ve built two dog fences and started a fence around the space that will eventually be our garden. Okay, when I say “we” I mean my handy husband, Jason. He did most of the work. In fact, he’s building a shelf as I write this. 

You don’t need to own a home to spruce up your living space! Home projects can be as simple as decluttering your office or buying a new bedspread. 

5. Setting up an email list

YES! My home isn’t the only area getting TLC. I also used this downtime to spruce up my website, adding an email list so you can receive special news and updates in the comfort and convenience of your own inbox.

Enter your email address to join right now!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

6. Getting your skincare routine on lock

Quarantine is the perfect opportunity to experiment with new skincare products. This applies to hair, too. But if you want to experiment with a new hair color, you may have a hard time finding dye

Right now you can pretty much try anything without worrying about whether it’ll force you to wear a bag over your head when you leave the house. No one’s leaving the house without serious head-coverage these days, anyway. 

My skin is so sensitive that just looking at it the wrong way makes it go all red, so I’m always hesitant to try new products. But I purchased the Drunk Elephant Littles set right before we moved and have been so impressed with the results. Plus, it’s fun!

7. Singing and dancing

If you get tired of doing burpees in your kitchen, this one is just as effective at boosting your mood and your blood flow.

One of my favorite things to do is join in on DJ D-Nice’s live Club Quarantine dance parties on Instagram. You might catch Halle Berry or Michelle Obama there, too!

I’ve also found myself singing a lot more ever since an Artist’s Way exercise revealed that I’ve always secretly wished I could sing! This usually happens in the shower or while watching dishes so I don’t have to hear myself.

What are you doing to stay healthy during the pandemic? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave a comment here or shoot me an email.

I miss you and I love you!

Five years after How to Run Stoned- cannabis and ultrarunning are things people talk about, now

Before March 2015, I had been pretty secretive about my cannabis use. Even after moving to California, where it was legal for medical use at the time, I didn’t want my family or employers to know. But that all changed the day Outside Magazine published my first online article, How to Run Stoned.

The whole experience was so thrilling, I still get a goosebump or three thinking about it.

Between this being my first publication outside the local newspaper (and my blog) and the fact that I was announcing my support for cannabis in a very public way, I was a bundle of nerves.

I didn’t know what I was doing as a writer. I didn’t know how the world would respond to the content.

To give you an idea of just how new I was to the world of freelance writing – I didn’t get paid for this piece until six months after it ran, not because Outside is stingy, but because I didn’t know I was supposed to submit an invoice!

Fortunately, the feedback I got from How to Run Stoned was 100% positive. To be honest, I was surprised by the amount of support I got.

At the time, writing about using cannabis while running seemed like a great risk. But it also felt like something I had to do.

I still remember the day this idea struck me. I was drinking my morning coffee and reading the news when an article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye.

This article quotes one of my all-time sheroes, Jenn Shelton, who would become my running coach a couple years down the road.

Me and Jenn Shelton's photocopied face
The only photo I have of Jenn and me together is this photocopy of her face, which she used to write a Buddhist quote on the backside.

There’s something about Jenn that really drives me to take action. More than an inspiration, she moves me to take some of the craziest and most rewarding risks of my life.

And so I let this spark of an idea take hold of me. I immediately sent a text to my friend Matt, who was a travel editor at Outside at the time. He let me know this wouldn’t fit in his department, but urged me to email the fitness editor about it.

In the weeks that passed between the moment I sent that text and the article going live, I was a hot mess. We’re talking heart palpitations, insomnia, nausea, sweating and trembling, and basically preparing for my whole world to end at any minute.

I didn’t even tell anyone about it until it was published.

Thankfully, my world didn’t end. It did, however, expand quite a bit. I had opened up about something a lot of people seemed to relate to but no one else wanted to talk about. Women’s Running reached out to interview me. Burgeoning cannabusinesses sent me free goodies. Life was groovy.

And now, in 2020, it’s not hard to find an athlete willing to speak freely about the benefits of cannabis.

There’s even a whole fitness event series based around cannabis culture

Cannabis isn’t the only part of my life that’s hit the mainstream. Just a few weeks ago, The New York Times published an amazing feature on ultrarunner Jim Walmsley.

Not that I expect ultrarunning to gain major recognition anytime, soon — when I tell people I’m a runner, many still assume I circle a track in bunhuggers for a few miles — but the sport has definitely shed its obscurity.

Or maybe I just exist in a bubble.

Either way, it’s fun to look back and see how things have changed in five years. I’m grateful to have been a small part of it. I’m grateful for the cannabis community and every person who makes an effort to destigmatize this powerful, yet gentle, medicine.

I think it’s really important to talk about the things that have shaped your life, even if you’re not sure how people are going to take it. It’s scary to put yourself out there. But chances are, there’s a whole community of people out there who can totally relate.

I love my community. Thank you for reading!

XoL

*cover photo courtesy of Outside Online

There is no loss, only learning

That’s the mantra I’ve been repeating — silently in my head, out loud to others, to my own reflection in the mirror, and, now, to you. Feel free to quote me in your Insta stories.

But before I go ahead and tell you why, let me wish you a Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! Belalentine’s Day? Why not?

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person, myself. My sweetie is pretty good at surprising me with flowers and delicious treats on a regular basis, which he did when I saw him last week. 

Lauren holding a dozen red roses and box of chocolates
The roses are still going strong but the truffles didn’t last very long :P

This was our first Valentine’s Day apart.

But it wasn’t supposed to be. 

We were supposed to close on our first house on February 13 and spend Valentine’s Day sleeping on an air mattress and freaking out over all the work we needed to do before the house would feel like home.

But then, shit hit the fan. After several weeks of stressing out over a house that never felt quite right and a realtor who couldn’t tell the difference between a septic inspector and cupid’s ass, I finally listened to my intuition. 

I walked away.

And that, my friends, is where the mantra comes in. 

I’m proud of myself for not using the time and money I had already spent as a justification for settling. Sometimes, it’s hard not to resist settling for what’s in front of you when you don’t see a better option YET.

But that’s what faith is, isn’t it?

And it’s always worth it.

In fact… we found a house I absolutely LOVE only hours after terminating the other contract. Hours!

The horrid experience gave me so many valuable lessons so I can do a better job this time around.

But the true golden egg born of this whole fiasco is… I finally registered for a race!

That’s right. If you read my last post, you may recall that I’ve been so focused on moving I haven’t even planned out my 2020 races, yet. 

Well, the stress of dealing with the problem house pushed me over the edge. One night, I found myself pacing back and forth in the Airbnb, fists clenched, when I stopped suddenly and turned to Jason.

“You know what I need to do? I need to train for a race. I need one thing in my world that makes sense.”

Who can relate?

T is why they call it trail therapy.

So, I opened up Ultrasignup.com and registered for a race that really spoke to me, Run Ragged – Last Person Standing

I’ve always wanted to do a race like this, where you see how many loops/miles you can finish in a time period.

I signed up for the 12-hour race, which means I have to complete at least one 3.11ish mile trail loop every hour for 12 hours. That’s at least 37 miles. I think that’s a totally attainable goal even though I haven’t run a 50k since Paiute Meadows last year.

I decided to go with this rather than a 50-mile race because I thought it’d be less pressure. That’s one thing I have enough of right now ;)

The race is May 30, so I’m still figuring out my training plan.

Today, I celebrated. The weather was clear, albeit frigid, so I enjoyed a nice, 8-mile run.

Lauren running on a bridge
I haven’t run longer than 5 miles since before Thanksgiving, so 8 was kind of a big deal!!!

It felt like the first step in a long, exciting journey, and I feel really, really good about it. 

I hope you all did something to celebrate love this weekend. Even better if it was something to treat yourself. 

And if you didn’t, it’s not too late!

Til next time, Love Bunnies

xoL

*cover photo by Julie Jablonski courtesy of flickr