Sprenk’s Favorite Things: Side Pockets

How did Friday get here again already?  How is it almost February?  Sometimes I laugh that after 30 years of dealing with the passing of time, I still get caught up in how fast it always seems to go.  Friday means I get to share a favorite thing with you!

Every so often there’s an innovation to something standard that is so brilliantly simple, you wonder why the hell it took so long for it to catch on.  The main development I’m sharing today is the SIDE POCKET.

Pockets on workout pants have evolved over the years.  Some were just big enough for keys, some on the front elastic band with no zipper, some on the back sacrum area with a zipper (painful for crunch work, and damaging to your phone), eventually they grew bigger to hold music devices and phones, and then finally, someone thought to put a big pocket on the side of the upper leg.

My first pair of pants with this perk were hot pink All the Right Places crop from Lululemon.  I bought them because they were pink, and realized later on my first run in them that this pocket was gold.

This year, my favorite tights for doing circuit workouts in also have a side pocket.  It’s great because I’m working out by myself most of the time and want to have headphones in.  Since I do floor work, I don’t want to smash my phone in my back pocket so I slip it into the side pocket of these tights.  These Tight Stuff tights deserve their own favorite things day I love them so much.

Finally, when I run now, I mostly always choose my full length leggings because they’re the only real cold weather running tights I have with this feature.  Before I owned pants with a lateral pocket, I would just carry my phone in my hand (to avoid the sweaty back pocket).  I never realized how burdensome that is!  It’s so freeing to stick it in that leg pocket and still have the headphones be long enough to reach my ears.

Besides being handy for my phone on runs and during workouts, they’re also at the perfect location for me to just walk around with my hands in my pockets – a joy I didn’t even know existed!

It’s hard now for me to buy pants without this side pocket functionality.  Yoga specific pants would be ok, since I’m not usually needing to carry a phone with me for those, but otherwise, from now on running and studio pants will be filtered by the option of the side pocket or not.

Do you love the side pocket?   How do you do music during your runs and workouts?

Thirty Thursdays: Book List

Here we are again for another 30 before 30 bucket list item.  If this list is proof of anything, it’s proof that I do really well with action items.  I’m certain I won’t get every item checked off this list by August, but I’m also positive that I’ve done more things because of this list than otherwise.  So I made a list within a list.

I wanted to get into the habit of reading for pleasure again.  I completely lost this in graduate school (except when I’d escape to Mexico for Christmas and binge read shelves of books) and never took the time to build the habit back up.

I perused Pinterest and the internet for lists of books people should read before they turn 30, lists of books all women should read, lists of books for young entrepreneurs etc.  And this is the list I came up with:

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. Start with Why
  3. The Beautiful and the Damned
  4. Contents May Have Shifted  X
  5. The Edible Woman
  6. Play it as it Lays
  7. The House of the Spirits
  8. The Awakening
  9. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
  10. Bluets
  11. A Room of One’s Own
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird
  13. Villette
  14. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  15. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
  16. Sharp Objects
  17. The Bluest Eye
  18. Why Not Me
  19. Save Me the Waltz
  20. Bastard Out of Carolina
  21. Love Medicine
  22. The Color Master
  23. I Feel Bad About My Neck
  24. The Age of Grief
  25. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
  26. Tiny Beautiful Things
  27. Friendship
  28. Bad Feminist
  29. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  30. We Should All Be Feminists
  31. Men Explain Things to Me
  32. The Dream of A Common Language X
  33. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  34. The Sun Also Rises
  35. Infinite Jest
  36. Unbearable Lightness of Being
  37. Leaves of Grass
  38. How Should a Person Be
  39. Portrait of a Lady
  40. A People’s History of the United States
  41. The Power of Habit
  42. Total Money Makeover
  43. The $100 Startup
  44. The Traveler’s Gift
  45. Essentialism
  46. Blue Like Jazz
  47. How to Win Friends
  48. Energy Bus
  49. Think and Grow Rich
  50. Bible
  51. All the Single Ladies
  52. Seabiscuit
  53. small great things
  54. The Nest
  55. Hidden Figures
  56. Eleanor and Park

Originally this list was meant to be 30 books long.  But the lists I kept finding for recommendations forced me to continue adding to this one.  I tried to compile a decent mixture of fiction and non-fiction, modern and classical writings, books I’ve read already and completely new ones, and a broad spectrum of topics.  I’ve crossed out the books I’ve completed on this list since making it, and put an X next to ones I’ve tried but couldn’t stay into.

Have you read any of these?  What else would you add to the list for someone to read before they turn 30?

Organized Home: Kitchen Counters

Moving right along this week into the kitchen.  I am so glad that this Organized 365 project called 40 Days: One Whole House didn’t tackle the entire kitchen at once.  Instead, we’re easing in very slowly starting with the kitchen counters.  I listened to the less-than-15-minutes podcast for this topic on a drive out for dinner with Chap and the kids, and was ready to tackle the counters the next day.

In the podcast, she talks about all horizontal surfaces in your home and how they end up becoming holding spaces for all kinds of things.  Keys, papers, bills, extra cups.  It’s so easy to just set things down and leave them there for later.  I’m working hard on making a space for everything, and then returning items to their homes when they’re not being used.

The first task for the kitchen counters was to take everything off of them.  Everything.  Appliances.  Papers.  Grocery bags.  Drying racks.  Bananas.  That part was easy (my dining room table has turned into a lovely holding space for all of my items in purgatory during this project).  Then, her rule is that you can’t return anything to the kitchen until you use it.  You’re supposed to use the whole week to figure this out but I didn’t want to so I started my meal prep for the week and only returned the things I used during that time.

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Purgatory for Stuff

In the podcast, she specifically calls out several things that most people have out on their counters and should maybe reconsider.  The first is a toaster.  I don’t have a toaster but I do have a microwave.  I don’t use it everyday, and I’m not even sure I use it every two days.  I tried to move this to the laundry room shelf but the plugs weren’t compatible so it had to stay in the kitchen.  Next were those porcelain canisters of all the kitchen utensils.  I have one, and I do use it everyday, but the look of it does clutter up the counters and I have plenty of drawer space.  The utensils are now in a drawer close to the stove for easy grabbing.  And the canister moved to the mantle to hold a new snake plant!

I decided to also tackle the fridge space while I was going at the counters.  Taking down expired Save the Dates and old holiday cards.  The only things that went back up were scenery magnets and art of my favorite cities (Memphis and Tulsa).

It was pretty simple for me to decide what to not put back on the counters.  The three big jars of protein powder I hadn’t scooped from in months.  The utensil canister.  A big bowl to hold fruit that’s usually empty.  And it was nice to rearrange a little.   This new layout worked great while I was prepping veggies and meals for the week, and I love that it feels a lot less crowded in here – from the counter space to the fridge!

Need to work on getting those doors to stay shut!  Next week: pantries and leftovers.

Organized House: Front Hall Closet

This morning, I got up and did my workout at home before heading the the studio for the first class!  The ritual is working so far, plus I was just super excited about starting the New Year Fit Camp at StudiOne today.  I need to find ways to have this kind of enthusiasm for every regular day of life.

Y’all I’m pretty proud I’ve made it three weeks in a row of sticking to this organizing the house plan.  And I’m also proud to report that the master closet and the laundry room are still looking neat and tidy and perhaps even more impressively, I haven’t purchased any items of clothing in 2017.  I do have some points expiring at the end of this month so I foresee a purchase, within point limits, in the next week or so.

This week my organizational task was conquering the front hall closet.  I really only have one “house closet”, that’s to say a closet not in a bedroom.  With limited storage space outside of the bedroom, I had some specific objectives for this space.

  • Coats and winter gear
  • The vacuum
  • The carryon suitcase

I stuck to the same plan as the laundry and master closet by taking everything out of the closet first, and then deciding if it was worth putting back in OR sorting into trash and sale piles.  (I’ve decided while I don’t have anyone in that front room, that it’ll be a holding room for an early spring yard sale).

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Everything out first

Coats and winter gear already fit into this closet so it was easy to put them back in in an orderly fashion.  The vacuum and carryon suitcase haven’t fit before and just occupied space in the very narrow hallway.  I don’t like it.  I had piles of old and mismatched Christmas decorations, random sheets of tissue paper and a variety of gift bags (a poor attempt at storing wrapping supplies).  Most of that got trashed.  I hate it, especially the part where I might be able to use it in the future, but better out than in at this point.

This one was a quick project I finished in one evening.  The carryon and vacuum found homes, as well as my big duffel of race shirts ;).  I also had a plastic storage bin that wasn’t really being used so I saved the most practical wrapping supplies and put them all in there.

The best part though, and something I appreciate about younger me, was coming across an old photo box that had prints from high school and college, notes from all kinds of occasions from my parents, roommates and friends.  And my Ireland travel journal that I knew was saved somewhere.  I love saving love notes of all kinds, and even though I’m sure I’m not supposed to keep them (clutter you know), my heart is always so happy when I find them.  So that box stayed.

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Vacuum and suitcase fit now!

I’m feeling good about this focus for the year!  Next week the podcast is about kitchen counters…..seems easy enough!

 

An Evening Ritual

I ran today!  It’s amazing because we’ve been in a constant state of icy/freezing/cold drizzle since mid-week last week.  And Michelle and I still got some of that on our run (wrapped in my robe under a blanket and my feet are still cold!) today but the key was it wasn’t raining when we started.  We went for a good 6 miler on the river and then warmed up on the R Bar patio talking training plans.  We may have wagered a deal that ropes me into another full…..maybe.  Don’t mix a shivering me with a mimosa.

6 miles, 50:03, 8:21 average.  Splits: 8:43, 8:18, 8:14, 8:09, 8:13, 8:27

Confession time.  Last week was a major struggle for me.  We were coming back east from a ski trip in Lake Tahoe and I’m not sure if it was the time change, the couple of days of skiing, lack of sleep on the first few nights back or all the germs of travel but I got knocked down again.   Zero energy.  Not just too-tired-for -workouts low energy, but the so tired I had a headache and nausea tired.  Or maybe the cause was vice versa.  Whatever it was, I was an unproductive sleepy and sick gal for the latter half of the week – making appointments when I could and sleeping all the rest of the time.

I’m feeling much better now after taking it easy Thursday and Friday, and sleeping over 14 hours each of those days.  Things are about to get extremely busy both for my personal running training with upcoming races, my coaching at the studio and some other growing client bases.  It’s all so good, and I want to be alert, focused and energized for all of it.

eveningritual

Bedtime helpers

I’d really like to get back to the days when I would wake up an hour before 6am classes to have some time with myself before my days got crazy.  I miss the quiet morning time, reading, practicing yoga for myself and having a clear mind to think about the flow of the day.  But simply setting the alarm for 5 am hasn’t been working for me.  I just snooze until the very last possible minute.  So, the next logical place to go is the front end of the sleep cycle.

I’m creating an evening ritual, and once I’ve mastered this for two weeks, I’ll start working on the morning ritual.  Every night beginning at 9:30pm I will:

  • Turn off electronics – email, blog, scrolling, texts
  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Brush/floss my teeth
  • White strips
  • Face washing routine – wash, toner, lotions, eye cremes
  • Lotion – legs and hands, this winter dryness is killing my skin!
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Ritual essentials close by.

This should put me in bed at 10pm, where I’m allowed to read until I get tired.  I think it sounds like a pretty good plan.  I think the 9:30pm time could be a challenge since most nights I get home from my last appointment after 8 and I like to cook dinner and do some work on the computer.  I’ll have to be more strategic about what I get done on the screen during the daytime.

Do you have an evening ritual, or you just get in bed when you’re ready?  How  do you fight overwhelming fatigue?

2017: The Year of Less

Happy 2017 friends!  I’m relieved the holidays are over, and even though January 1 is just another day in the year, there’s something about it that gives me energy to get shit done.  This year it even started a day early – all New Year’s Eve Day I spent in my house, alone, cleaning out my closet.  It’s a daunting task to end 2016 with but it felt amazing, and like the final perfect task for an excellent year.

This closet purge was inspired by one of the podcasts I’ve been listening to called Organize 365.  I don’t listen to every episode but the host has a 40 week program that guides you through one organizational task per week.  The idea is to work on it all week, but I’m a procrastinator and like to tackle it all in a tight deadline.  I skip over days that don’t apply to me (like kids’ closets) and have completed two weeks of organizing pieces of the house. I’m going to start sharing each week here so you can follow along too!

The Master Closet

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Before

The first step is to take everything out of the closet.  Since I only have myself to worry about, and a relatively small closet, I tackled my dresser too.  This was the easiest part.  It took me less than five minutes to create a gigantic pile of clothes, shoes, purses and other odds and ends on my bed (put it on the bed – huge motivation to complete the task, unless you want to sleep on the couch.  Which I don’t have right now, so I had to get it done).

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The Pile

The sorting process is next.  This is a little daunting.  The following items get tossed:

  1. It doesn’t fit anymore.  Right now, today.
  2. You don’t feel like a million bucks in it
  3. It’s torn, ripped, stained
  4. You haven’t worn it in the past six months

I struggled at first but then I got on a roll.  Old high school sweatshirts, out.  Torn designer jeans, out.  Bridesmaids dresses, out.  Skirts, never worn, out.  Some of this was really hard, but I just shoved the items into bags and soon they were out of mind.

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Sorted.

Everything else got folded and sorted onto my kitchen table.  Jeans, workout pants, shorts and shirts.  Sweaters, shoes, hanging items, accessories.  My table and bench were covered.  But my closet and drawers were empty and cleaned!  From here, I continued to pare down.  No duplicates went into the closet.  I tried on every pair of jeans and dress that I put back in.  If I didn’t feel great I bagged it.  If it was too big, even though it was my favorite dress, I bagged it.

The struggle came with the race shirts.  SO MANY.  And I never wear them, ever.  So, I decided to keep only the ones from the state races, and any current PRs.  Everything else – bagged.

I had one bag of trashed clothes (torn, stained, unwearable etc), hangers and tattered shoes and two bags of giveaways.  Everything up to this point probably took two and a half hours.

Returning everything to its proper new home was easy.  “Dress” shirts (for me, anything that’s not athletic) went back in the closet in a color coordinated order.  Jeans, shorts, sweatshirts and workout bottoms got arranged on shelves in the closet.  Shoes on the bottom.  Workout tops, bras and shirts into the dresser drawers, sorted by bra, built in bra or just a top.  Workout t-shirts in a separate drawer.  And the race shirts all ended up in a duffle of their own in the hall closet.  Scarves and winter gear moved to the hall closet.  The over the door hanger moved to the bathroom to hold towels and robes.

And just look at the magic….

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After all of this and seeing my pile of clothes on the table, I had a thought: I do not need a single ‘nother item of clothing.  And today, as I write this, I’m resolving to not purchase any additional items of clothing this entire year (excludes new running shoes, clothes bought with Athleta points and a dress for a wedding).  Yep, there it is in writing and now all y’all can hold me to it.

What are y’all working on this year?

 

Project To Love Ourselves

Part of me is quite sad that I’ve taken such a long break from writing on this little blog of mine.  Another part of me feels like I’m still outputting creatively, just in different realms.  On the Studio blog, on Instagram and Facebook.  But I think a bigger part of me really misses coming here daily to write.  I remember way back in Memphis I was posting multiple times per day!  Where did all that free time go?!  I’d like to post more, and I’m going to make an attempt to be more consistent.  Don’t we go through this every year?

I’d be ok with this blog becoming a place where I get to write when I have something worthy to say.  A big topic that I want to elaborate on, rather than a log of my food and training runs.  Maybe I can work back into that.  But, here is what I want to write about today.

I have been considering for years some way to “get involved” and give back.  I’ve looked into volunteering at nursing homes, in after school programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, animal shelters and even hospice.  Nothing ever really jumped out at me as something that I truly felt passionate about and felt was feasible flexibility and time wise for me personally.  Of course I want to help better the world in any way I can, but I also needed it to be something I enjoy doing or I know I wouldn’t last.

Then one day, I saw via an acquaintance’s Instagram (acquaintance is tough.  She is more important than that.  Once upon a time we were close friends, but years and miles and missteps across time just pulled us apart.  But what do we call that?) that she had created this incredible project to send handwritten letters to girls who were struggling in a particular stage of life.

Of course she did.  This gal was a big rock for me in the tumultuous years of high school.  The years when we found our worth in grades, athletic performance and boys.  I still have a photo album of beautifully simple and silly words scrawled on brightly colored scrapbook paper reminding me “we do not wait by the phone for him to call.”  Oh W, how things have come so perfectly true for you!

How brilliant.  How simple.  How powerful.  This project caught my attention because I was lucky enough to be surrounded by powerful letter writing women in my adolescence and even on into young adulthood.  My mama is a wizard with words and I have shoeboxes of letters saved from occasions, some momentous, some trivial like my first homecoming date (which turned into heartbreak eventually), getting into college, rejection from college, more breakups, studying abroad, starting a business, joining a sorority and on and on.  Whether she was proud of me or hurting for me or empathizing or encouraging, or was able to predict inevitable fear and doubt before I even saw it, her words helped me start to believe in myself.

img_4286-jpgI give a grand amount of credit to these letters for making me the strong-willed, stubborn girl today who thinks her way is usually right.  Sure, my stubborn streak can be trouble at times but it is well worth the strong foundation of self-worth and self-love that is cemented within.  I’m willing to take risks and be vulnerable because I know that failure in business or relationships or even running goals doesn’t diminish who I am as a person.  And I owe that to all those letters.

I still have some sealed cards from a different close friend with specific titles on the envelopes – “open when you’re feeling sad”  “open when you don’t know what to do” .  Early and mid-twenties were a weird bitch mix of self-doubt, flopping around for new friends in the city I made all my best girlfriends in after we all leapt our separate ways, dating and doing adult things with no real rules.  Having gentle, positive and encouraging words to read and re-read when I needed them was more than once helpful.  I felt less lonely.  Less helpless.

15385320_1847128965571317_8467625916250713597_oAnd now, I get to give back in the same way that helped shape me.   By writing letters.

I will believe in you, until you believe in yourself!

If you’d like to join in as a letter writer, you can sign up here.  (I’m lookin’ at you mama)15304490_1846385145645699_1298334868843623591_o

 

First photo: Lemongrass Wedding Photography

Second and third: To Love Ourselves