Stress. It’s a thing.

Alternate title: My therapist gave me an A

It’s not unusual to be hard on oneself, right?

I’m fairly open about the fact that I check in with a therapist every now and then.  I kind of think everyone would benefit from some insight into themselves from an outside source.  Today, I was struggling that I’m wasting time – not a new theme for me.  Claire tells me I’m so impatient.  I do live with a sense of urgency that can lead to anxiety.  Awareness is the first step, right?  I told the good Doctor that here we are, near the end of summer, and what did I do?  I’m haven’t finished Infinite Jest, I haven’t run regularly, the basement could be more organized (I finally bought the shelves!)… I could go on.

Good Doctor tells me I’m being too hard on myself and I needed to list all the things that I did accomplish in the last 60 days.  Work/professional stuff is going so well lately – OD Conference, the case study for the chapter in the OD book with Mr. Head of the Largest Change Mgmt Research Company, I was selected for as a member of the New Chapter formation committee for ACMP (Assoc of Change Mgmt Professionals) and the potential re-org at work that may lead to something bigger and better.  I worked on the house, maintained Sarah’s Farm (home of the Farm Fresh vegetables), bought a new car, settled into some new social scenarios, stopped binge eating (yeah – that was becoming a problem) and have reintroduced some exercise into my life.

The thing she said that had the biggest impact on me was a simple validation that there are a lot of stressful situations I’m in right now.  Still being new to Columbus, lack of social/family structure, lack of the relationship I was counting on here, buying a house, buying a car, repaying student loans, getting a new job in a new field… these things are hard.  They take time to get through.  She mentioned the actual stressful life factors test is the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.  Out of curiosity, and because who doesn’t love an assessment, I searched for the scale and took it.  If you’re curious, the link has an easy graphic where you click what applies and it adds it up for you.  Or, here is the scale:

Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale

Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale

Go ahead – add ‘em up.

Would you like to know my score?  Of course you would!  Why else have you read this far… 508.  Five Hundred and Eight.  And these are just listing the things that have happened in the last year!!  Here’s what the scoring on that is…

Scoring The Life Change Index
The body is a finely timed instrument that does not like surprises. Any sudden change
stimuli which affects the body, or the reordering of important routines that the body
become used to, can cause needless stress, throwing your whole physical being into

The following chart will give you some idea of how to informally score yourself on Social
Readjustment Scale. Since being healthy is the optimum state you want to achieve, being
sick is the state of being you most want to avoid.

Life Change Units Likelihood Of Illness In Near Future
300+ about 80 percent
150-299 about 50 percent
less than 150 about 30 percent

Really?!?! An 80% increase in the likelihood of a stress related illness in the near future?!  This explains the insomnia and general moodiness perhaps.  

So.  Stress.  Validation.

In the spirit of immediately trying to combat the stress, I joined some co-workers at a concert tonight.  One of our bosses has a brother who is the bass player in the band Walk the Moon.  They are a fun, poppy, alternative band and all from Columbus and Cincinnati – so, Ohio grown.  They are most known for their song, Anna Sun:

Tonight they played one of their new songs, Shut Up and Dance With Me.  Loved it!  Technically, it’s not released yet (on their album coming soon!!) but I did find it on You Tube.  (Audio Only)

Sadly, knowing the sister of the bass player did not get us backstage or anything.

Sadly, knowing the sister of the bass player did not get us backstage or anything.

A great time with some catchy tunes and two beers – just enough to make me feel like dancing.

A conversation that happened today – played out in skit style on the blog

First – meet the players:

There's me

There’s me

There's my boss

There’s my boss

There is the head of the top Change Management research and methodology company

There is the head of the top Change Management research and methodology company

And there is this book: Practicing Organization Development, 3rd Edition

And there is this book: Practicing Organization Development, 3rd Edition

Now that you’re familiar, let me set the scene.  It’s 10am.  I am just finishing a meeting to discuss actual numbers of end users for project implementation (fyi – it’s twice what I thought) when the phone rings…

my boss: Hey Sarah.  It’s me, your boss.

me: Hey boss.

my boss: I just got a phone call from Mr. Head of the top Change Mgmt research and methodology company.  He asked if I knew anyone who might want to collaborate on a book chapter he’s writing for an OD textbook on change management.  Is it okay if I give him your name?

me: Umm, heck freaking yeah.  Please pass my name on to him.

my boss: Great.  He’d like us to help write the case study and I think you’re the best partner.  You should be getting an invite from him.

me: I got this.

End Scene.

I may have paraphrased some, but you get the idea, right?

My boss recommended me to this super important guy in the change management world (we all have our industry rock stars) to help test the model/framework he’s introducing in the chapter of an OD textbook that my OD Master’s program used!  If this all works out, I cannot wait to send that email to some professors.  “Oh, by the way, I’m listed as a collaborator in this text book now.”  In addition, he wants to collaborate on the case study and use my current Nationwide program as the example.  Now – this is all preliminary and maybe it goes nowhere.  But in my inbox right this second is the abstract and outline for the method he’s writing.  I’m supposed to review it.  No problem, Mr. Head of the top Change Mgmt research and methodology company.  No problem.

Did I not just write on this very blog last night how I want to start writing, want to pursue being published.  Holy cow, Universe!  You rule all!  I made space and the space was filled.  And in no small way.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

It’s been a while since I thought about the book that was so important to me for several years: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Today one of the passages from the book came back to me:

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”

It’s not so much the not letting go of the man part that struck me today, although certainly relevant right now, it was the if you clear out the space you’re using to obsess, you open a spot and the universe rushes in to fill it.  I’m overwhelmed by this opportunity this morning.  I’m reminded that I have the power to survive.  On a change management webinar last week, someone introduced the topic of resiliency and how they were using this resiliency assessment when they hired new change practitioners.  Because above all else, a change professional should be able to handle change.  I’ve been thinking about it since I heard of the assessment and haven’t gotten my hands on it yet – but how resilient am I?  I’ve spent two months being mostly numb and living in a hermitage that is my house.  So plans changed, so some one didn’t love me as much as I loved them… look at all the other stuff that’s out there waiting for me.

And Universe – if you’re still listening as intently as you were last night – I’d like you to send a Ted Mosby my way…I’ll be here…contributing to a chapter in an OD textbook.


All better.

I nearly named this post “…and calm returns.”  When it dawned on me I already had a post titled that exact same thing.  And you know what it was about?  The exact same thing I’m going to write about here.  Some may choose to see this as me in a destructive pattern.  I choose to see it proof I got through this scenario a couple years ago and I can get through it again.  It’s almost laughable how similar this week has been to a week back in November 2011.

First – some advice for future Sarah…STOP TRYING TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR EXES!

I mean, at least give it some time.  I have a warped sense of friends with exes.  I had a long time friendship with my on again/off again boyfriend Brad.  And I count my ex husband as one of my best friends. (Hey buddy!)  Both of those relationships didn’t come about over night and both of those took work from both parties to get to a friendship state of mind.  I miss D.  I valued him as a friend and classmate before we dated.  But I’m going to have to accept that relationship doesn’t just come back.  (I do wish I realized that before the great texting mistake of this past Sunday night – but whatevs.  I’ve always wanted a restraining order against me.)  (KIDDING!)

To settle myself down after the break up breakdown this past weekend I made a “pick me up playlist”, went for a run, and talked to my friendly neighborhood shrink (who actually thinks my super grief over the break up may be more related to latent super grief about my dad dying, but that’s this whole other Oedipal spiral I’m not particularly buying into.  I digress….).  I started to feel better.  Tonight I spent the day at a conference where people discussed ideas and asked for my input.  Awesome.  I then got a glass of wine on the best patio in town (mine, naturally) and pulled out a book: Organization Development: A data-driven approach to organizational change.  That’s right.  Part of my problem is that I needed something to fill the space in my life where the relationship was.  Well, I want to present at ACMP or OD conferences in the next couple of years.  The department head of my OD master’s program told me BGSU was working towards a PhD program in OD in the next couple of years and told me not to consider going somewhere else until I saw what they were doing.  In order to pursue those endeavors, having some work published would be helpful.  So, I guess it’s time to think about what kind of work I want to research, where I think I can influence.  This is really exciting to me.  I get all lit up talking about small group effectiveness and organizational behavior.  I’ve really missed school and these topics, so time to get back to it in some way.

The thing about returning to this place, the post break up crazy space, is that looking back to late 2011 and wondering how I was ever going to get through it is awesome from the other side.  Um, not only did I get through it, I left that space in my dust!  2012 and 2013 have been my best years yet.  2014 is starting off a little rough, but I’m more hopeful this evening.  I’ve got 6 months left and no idea what happens tomorrow.  (Well, I mean, I know I get up, bring the pork roast that is in my crock pot overnight to work for our Halfway Mark Potluck for the big program I work on, drive back downtown for an Ops Review and then go to Jazzercise – but you get my drift.)  I can now see all the space and time as an opportunity to do anything else.  And if (hopefully, when) D and I can be friends, that will be great because he makes a good paper editor and I’ll need someone to read my drafts to check for punctuation mistakes.  (Because obviously I overuse parentheses…and ellipsis.)

I like to think I get so wound up and crazy because I’m so passionate about the people in my life.  If I felt lukewarm, this wouldn’t be an issue.  It’s best I just embrace the crazy because I’m not giving up the passionate side of me.  It’s my best side.

crazy Sarah


Does all change equal growth?

Ahh, my favorite time to write… after I’m exhausted.

Last night I got sucked into reading my own blog.  (Insert vanity/narcissism jokes here)  I was looking for something from a couple of years ago and then just kept reading.  I read most of Fall 2012.  It was a really exciting time for me.  My first half marathon and working with Team in Training and grad school in full swing, I felt good and was constantly achieving things I didn’t know I could do, didn’t know I wanted to do and I was really happy.

2013 was a big year.  I was laid off, found a new (awesome!) job, moved to a new place, finished the masters, pursued the relationship, traveled to Mexico and Canada…

We’re here at the halfway point of 2014.  And I don’t know what to make of it yet.  Perhaps it’s coming off a couple of big years that makes this one feel tame by comparison.  It dawned on me one morning a couple of months ago – I didn’t feel like I was growing.  I was making changes… bought the house, still figuring out the new job and city… but you can only say you’re “new” to a place for so long.  And I reached the year mark of living in Columbus and working at Nationwide.  This is where I live.  And what am I doing with that?  What am I learning?  What am I doing with my time?  I don’t think I equate making these changes with growing.  If I were to tell someone about me right now it would be limited to my job and what I do.

There’s a bit in The Fault in Our Stars where Gus asks Hazel her “story” and she responds with her cancer diagnosis and history.  Gus responds, with “No, not your cancer story – your story”.  It’s that idea – what’s beneath our obvious story?  Who else am I besides a NW employee?

I need a new goal.  The house redecorating is nice, but not really a goal.  Not something I would tell someone trying to get to know me.  What’s my story?  What am I working towards?  I need it to be something more than working towards watching all of the tv series that Netflix offers.

I did apply for a spot on an Association of Change Management Professionals committee.  It would be good for me and for NW to have a member on that team.  I need something bigger than me, outside of this house.  I thought it was this life I was working towards with the ex, alas, not the case.  So, what’s my story?  How do I make myself interesting again?  How do I make each day feel fulfilled?  How do I get back to the version of me that had something to talk about?

Where were we…


I ran the Enchanted 10K...

I ran the Enchanted 10K… get this medal.

…to get this medal.


The next day ran the Princess Half…


to get these medals.

to get these medals.


Culminating in completion of the Glass Slipper Challenge AND the coveted Coast to Coast medal.

Culminating in completion of the Glass Slipper Challenge AND the coveted Coast to Coast medal.

Tink 1/2 plus Princess 1/2 = Coast to Coast!

Tink 1/2 plus Princess 1/2 = Coast to Coast!

Was it worth the stress fracture in my right foot that led to walking around in one of those sexy boots for 6 weeks…Yup.

This sister had this baby girl!  My niece Avery is so adorable.

This sister had this baby girl! My niece Avery is so adorable.

Further proof that she is the cutest darn thing.

Further proof that she is the cutest darn thing.


I bought this house in Columbus, OH.


And am slowly getting around to decorating it so it feels like I’m not living in someone else’s house.


I still love to take picture of my tabby cats.


And I met Mr. Belding WEARING my Bayside Tigers t-shirt.


And that brings us to June 1. Single (perpetually, it seems), still learning this new city, and eating far too much ice cream.  I can’t find a cupcake I’m crazy about here, but ice cream – we’ve got that in spades.  A picture of me in front of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams even went on the Christmas card last year.  And, a picture of me and Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is right here…

People say we could be sisters.  And by people, I mean actual people, not just me.  :)

People say we could be sisters. And by people, I mean actual people, not just me. :)

After the moving, the new job, the buying a house, the moving again, all the weekends away (for runs, weddings, trips to see adorable baby niece, staying at the now ex-boyfriends house, visiting the newly engaged friends…) I’m looking forward to the Summer of Sarah.  I’ve got plans for 30 days of NO travel (starting June 9th when I get back from going back to STL for another trip to see adorable baby niece AND see other sister who just got engaged) and may even stretch it into 45.  I have plans for another Whole 30 during those 30 days and look forward to posting and connecting with that community again.  I have plans to start creating routines here and planting herbs (a 2nd round of herbs – the transplanted ones did not take, starting from seed this time) and sitting on my patio reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  I’m going to do a photo a day on Instagram in June.  And one way or another I’m going to do 30 days of Jillians 30 Day Shred.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it past Day 12…Day 7… Okay – Day 4!  Sheesh!

In countless performance reviews, business meetings, client plans I’ve told people to think about what they want to start doing, stop doing and continue doing.  I’m going to :

Start: going out to explore Columbus, even if it’s by myself

Stop: comparing myself to others.  The recent engagement/baby boom taking place around me is causing some anxiety and I have this mildly intimidating co-worker that has led to second guessing.  No more!  I don’t even want babies.

Continue: paying my bills.  Friday night when I was most of the way through a bottle of red on my patio while reading This is Where I Leave You on as it was getting dark and my mind was wandering to this plan… this seemed very clever and funny to me.  Like this common-sense adult thing was something I needed to plan for.  It’s far less amusing now, but still a good idea and I’m sticking with it.

Cheers to a whole new year

happy new yearI do set resolutions (or goals or plans or whatever you would like to call them) every new year.  Some years they are a list of tasks (like making my bed every day) and some years they are broader, like last year’s plan to just believe it was going to be a the best year ever.  I read last year’s New Year’s post this morning.  I had almost forgotten how optimistic and blindly determined that it was going to be awesome.  And the thing is, it was.  I believed in school, took  a chance that a job offer in another state was the right one, believed Doug was just the man for me and waited for him to believe it too.  2013 was a really beautiful year for me and I go into 2014 wanting very little.  I am going to continue the idea of picking a word to prescribe the fate of the new year.  This year it is HEALTH.

health2This isn’t a resolution to be a lower number on a scale, which have dictated years of my resolutions.  This is about overall health, and in some unexpected places.  I have two overall Health goals and then some monthly task goals…

Overall Health

It’s about Financial Health.  It’s time for this gal to get her money stuff together.  I created a budget, set up a tracking system, and am working on the mindset that I don’t need to buy my loved ones off just so they know I love them.

It’s about Mental Health.  This one is embarrassing and personal – and something I’ve said before, which is really why it’s embarrassing.  My friend Claire once told me I’d struggle staying on the “crazy pill”, aka Zoloft, my whole life.  That I’d stop and restart taking it for years.  Eventually I would learn I just need to stay with it.  I thought I’ve been there before – but still spent some significant chunks of 2013 self diagnosing.  That’s done.  I’m a better person on the pills and on them I will stay.

In 2013 I also learned that you can’t throw everything at a wall and expect it to stick.  I read the book The Happiness Project last year and was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s year long plan broken out into monthly tasks.  I remember wanting to implement her plan, but needed to find a way to personalize it and not just take her initiatives.  I was struck with the idea to explore different aspects of healthy living through 2014 in different month long chunks.  Each month will have a fitness focus, a habit focus and a soul (creative & spiritual) focus.  I’ve started sketching out what the year holds…

wpid-1388105222906.jpgThe fitness column is a specific workout type activity that I want to try, want to get back to, etc.  For example, I’ve wanted to try spinning, so one month I’ll take a couple classes a week and try it out.  Jan and Feb are pre-destined to be running focused because of the 10K/Half Marathons at Disney.

The habit column picks up a healthy habit: flossing!  moisturizing!  1 hr of tv a night!

The Soul column is a strange catch all for creative and spiritual undertakings.  I want to go to Yoga, take another calligraphy class and take pretty pictures of food again.

Most of the rows aren’t in market yet.  I have post-its with ideas and want to keep the plans kind of fluid.  I would hate to commit to Spinning classes in March only to find out the group class schedule doesn’t match up with my work schedule or something.  So, I’ll have to firm some things up as the year goes on, but I also think that’s the right way to do it.  Setting a plan in stone on January 1 may not be the best way to keep this plan up all year.  Hard to plan for a whole year.  Something it’s taken years for me to be able to say.

healthSo, this is how we begin 2014 -

Fitness: Running – preparing for the Tink 10K and Half in just a couple weeks!

Habit: Moisturize.  That may sound funny, but I’m not getting any younger and I have so much lotion around the house.  I get super dry skin in the winter.  This was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of general 2014 resolutions in December.

Soul: Nourish self with real food.  I completed the Whole30 in November and never felt better.  Confident, energetic, rested…that’s why this went in the Soul column.  I’d like to start the year by making sure I can reach that inner Sarah stuff and I can’t if I’m mad about what I’m eating or feeling gross.  I can’t say that I’m starting the Whole30 strictly again right now because I haven’t come up with great pre-race or during race running substitutions for whole wheat tortillas, gatorade or Swedish fish candy.  So, 98% of the time I’ll be eating that way.  (Had an awesome thyme braised beef stew with mashed cauliflower tonight for dinner, courtesy of Well Fed 2!)

Be healthy, be happy, be you.

Happy 2014 blog-land.





25 does not equal 30

Remember when I was updating you on my Whole30 progress…and then how I stopped updating you on my Whole30 progress?

Well, that’s because that’s just what happened…I made it to day 25 and felt amazing.  I was headed back to St. Louis for the weekend and throwing myself a little graduation dinner party.  I got home early on Friday, went for a run in a favorite park, went to Whole Foods and got a Whole30 compliant lunch and then couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do at dinner.  Would I have a glass of wine to celebrate?  Champagne?  Cheese?  Dessert?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

I caved.  Gave myself permission to celebrate at dinner.  And it was just that easy to never get back on the horse.  And I’m back to feeling kind of blech.

There was a warning on the Whole9 Life blog about this.  They refer to it as Day 28 syndrome, isn’t 28 days as good as 30?  They say NO.  They write that 30 days is the commitment you make to yourself.  And when you don’t keep commitments to yourself, you’re telling yourself that it’s okay that others don’t keep their commitments to you.

This is my new half marathon challenge.  That was a commitment I made to Team in Training.  My sense of responsibility is always so much stronger when I’ve made a promise to someone else.  This is a problem, actually.  Starting tomorrow the clock starts on a full Whole30.  I owe it to myself.


In other news…how cute is this pic of D and I from a wedding we went to last weekend…

Doug & Sarah photo booth