Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy 2017! I'm moving soon!

It's hard to believe that another year has passed. We often talk about how time seems to go by faster the older we get, and it's absolutely true. Every year seems to go faster and faster. Logically it makes sense. The more years we've lived, the smaller the percentage of your life a year is. The net result can be that your life feels like it's just passing you by. I've had this experience for a few years. The good news is that this can also be used to our benefit. For one, bad times never really seem to last that long. When experiencing challenges, we know that change is going to come. Of course the flip-side of that is that the good times don't necessarily last that long either. But this is what life is really about, i.e. dealing with inevitable change and adapting to make the most of it.

The other huge benefit to time seemingly going faster is that we learn to not take it for granted. It's easy to get caught up in work, in minutia, in wasting our lives away. By not taking life for granted, we can focus on what's important. I know that in my own life I have often focused too much on little details. In the last two years, I focused almost entirely on work and on building a business. This has been on purpose, as I have a mission. However it's been really unbalanced, and I have consequently felt the results of such imbalance. Reminding myself of how quickly life passes by and how precious it is leads me to realize that I need to work less and have more time for other things in my life. I often joke about how much I work, which really is around 70 hours a week. But the truth is that it isn't funny. In working so much, I not only use up a lot of my time right now but I also could be shortening my life. I'm ready to change that.

There are a lot of changes I have planned for this year, but I only want to focus on one here. I am moving to a new place next month! A comfortable living space always been important to me. As an introvert, this is where I recharge, where I get away from the world when I need to think. And of course, it's where I spend time with my cats, where I prepare meals, and where I sleep. What I've found is that when I don't feel grounded at home, I tend to experience chaos in my life.

For the last few years, my living situation has been less than ideal. For a year I lived in what can only appropriately be called a slumlord situation. I rented a tiny house in a neighborhood that was very nice and centrally located; the house, however, was a dump and the landlord was slow to fix anything and many things were not fixed despite the rent being ridiculously high. It had mold and was falling apart. I experienced severe depression when I was there and couldn't wait to move. Sadly, two of my elderly cats died while we were living there, and I was beginning to wonder if  the conditions there played a role.  I was completely broke. My life was a wreck.

As soon as I could, I got out of there. I moved back into an apartment for the first time in over two decades. This is where I am today. I've been living here for a little over two years. It's not a terrible place, but I don't like it. I've never really liked apartment life because I need privacy, and there is little of that when living surrounded by other people on all sides. I find myself dealing with noise, people smoking when I walk outside my apartment, constant intrusions by apartment personnel, and parking issues. I do realize that I'm lucky to have a decent place to live and know many people are not so fortunate.  It is worlds better than the previous place. Still, it is not ideal, and I believe in aiming for something better. My situation has changed from when I first moved in, and I can afford to go somewhere more in line with what I need to be happy.  So, that is what I'm doing.

In February, I will be moving to a bungalow in Hyde Park.  It was built in 1940, which seems to be my favorite year for houses. I'm super excited about this!  The location is better than I could have ever expected, and the house is completely redone and amazing.  It is literally just a few feet away from one of my favorite restaurants. I have wanted to live in this neighborhood as long as I can remember, but somehow I never found a place that worked for me.  The house has a super sweet sun room in the back, which the cats are going to love, and an amazing deck and backyard.  The space is perfect for me, and I am looking forward to living there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Recommitting myself to this blog

My life has changed drastically since I last posted to this blog. I've never been a regular blogger, however I'm going to change that now. I plan on blogging regularly on a number of topics. I have a lot to say, and I believe that it's important that I get it out there.  Get ready!

So what's new?

What isn't new? Seriously, so many things my life changed that it almost doesn't make sense to talk about most of them, because you're going to figure them out through the context of what I write and my life will continue to change and evolve. I will say this, my daily personal life is very different today, and my work life is completely different and insane. I work about 70 hours a week between Rabbit Food Grocery and my day job, mostly my day job right now, but also a lot of after-hours work for Rabbit Food Grocery. I try to take one day off for a week, but I usually end up doing some kind of work on that day. My goal is to reduce the amount of time that I work. I don't want to be less productive, but I want to be more efficient and to have more time for leisure in my life. Right now I don't have that; honestly it just seems like a luxury. But I'm working on that. ;-)

I've learned a lot over the last several years, especially from running a business but also from being down on my luck for a good part of that time. 2013 to 2014 were perhaps the most difficult years of my life. I won't go into too much detail right now, but let's just say that my life felt like a cesspool in some respects.  I felt like I had no control and was being swallowed up by my circumstances. I returned to school during this time with the intention of continuing on to an advanced degree to eventually pursue a career in academia. Instead I completed the requirements for a second bachelors degree in religious studies and enjoyed learning some new things. But, I was depressed and broke and found it hard to concentrate on what I was learning to the extent that was necessary.  I couldn't continue down that road and also have Rabbit Food Grocery, so I made a choice.  I won't rule out an academic future, but it may not be for a while.  I think I would be satisfied with taking classes and also learning on my own without the academic career.  A lot of politics involved in that right now, and the jobs are rarer.  I can learn/teach outside of that setting with a lot of the same benefits. And I can do it while pursuing other goals and while still having an income.

Being broke is never fun, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you're in your 40s. At least it did for me. The truth is what things mean has everything to do with our own perspective. There are many penniless people around the world who are happy and fulfilled because other areas of their lives are working for them and the financial aspect is less important. In the United States and in Austin specifically, that's a bit more difficult. Here we have tremendous costs just to be able to live and survive. Most of us have to work to be able to pay our bills without even considering what it is to have leisure in our lives. Either we have rent or mortgage. Even if we own our house with no mortgage, we still have property taxes. We decide what things mean or we let others decide what they mean but there are some real challenges when our resources become limited. In any case, for me being broke in my 40s made me feel like a tremendous loser. It isn't really fair to beat yourself up for that, because it can happen to anyone; but that's part of the programming that we have in our culture.  I had to get over it to start moving forward again.  I'll talk about that more in a different post, but suffice it to say that you have to change your mental/emotional state if you want to change your life.  This can be challenging when the circumstances still suck, but it's really the only way to change them.  So the good news is that I'm in a much better situation now financially. I'm still paying some debts but I am not broke, and that is huge.

There are a lot of things I'm working on right now. My life is about to undergo some big changes this coming year. And I want to document that, so this blog seems like a natural choice. 2017 will be a big year for me in many ways. Stay tuned and find out how!

And if you can, please go support us at Rabbit Food Grocery either by going online at or visiting the store at 2210 S. 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704!  Right now, I make no money from this, basically I am just trying to grow it and any money made goes to expenses or to expansion.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running Inside

We've been busy the last three weeks with RFG, trying to balance building our inventory while selling as much as we can.  Sales have been good, steadily building up as people hear about us or see us at our delivery spots.  There's so much to learn, and it seems like getting out there and doing this is the best way to get a quick education.  I think we are going to experience tremendous growth this year, and both of us are really excited about it.  

Through it all, I have managed to keep up with my average 5 miles per day despite not making it to my running group for all the workouts.  I won't lie that some days it has been difficult to find the time, and often I find myself going to the gym late at night just to get 5 miles on the elliptical machine.  Last night I was headed to the gym when Jessica suggested that maybe I should just try running inside so that I could avoid the trip to the gym on a night when people might be out drinking and driving (Super Bowl Sunday).  I initially pooh-poohed the idea, but then we worked it out together.  

We measured the main pathway from the front door to the back door at 40 feet.  At 80 feet per lap, 330 of them worked out to five miles exactly.  With a clicker in hand to count my laps and headphones on listening to old Metallica, I ran the entire five miles in the house!  It took me a little longer than running the same distance outside, and I'm hurting some today.  I suspect that that it has to do with the constant turning.  All those turns surely helped me to work some muscles that I don't normally engage, so I'm glad about that.  I did try to turn evenly on both sides of my body by changing directions halfway through.  It was exciting to find another way to get my run in.  It reminded me of some of the unique ways that imprisoned people have used to exercise in small areas, though they certainly wouldn't have the luxury of a clicker, music, or a straight 40 feet. I could see incorporating inside running when running outside is not an option and I can't go to the gym.  I wouldn't want to do it every day though.

In looking at RunKeeper, it's exciting to see how many more miles I covered in January than in December.  My overall miles in December were 75.9 with 24.6 of those as running miles.  In January, I covered 171.4 miles, which included 84.7 running miles!  I likely won't ever see this kind of increase again, so I'm enjoying thinking about it.  It's a real turning point in my running, and I feel like there's no going back.

Exercise Log:
1/18: Walking (3.99 miles); Running group - short loop + small hill training (2.46 miles - distance includes some of the drills); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 3).  Total Miles for the day: 6.45
1/19: Elliptical (5.45 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4).  Total Miles for the day: 5.45
1/20: Running (5.06 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5).  Total Miles for the day: 5.06
1/21: Walking (5.30 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6). Total Miles for the day: 5.30
1/22: Elliptical (5.13 miles); TotalGym Ab Crunch workout.  Total Miles for the day: 5.13
1/23: Walking (5.06 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1).  Total Miles for the day: 5.06
1/24: Elliptical (5.01 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 2).  Total Miles for the day: 5.01
1/25: Running group (5.06 miles + drills under Mopac bridge); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 3).  Total Miles for the day: 5.06
1/26: Elliptical (5.32 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4).  Total Miles for the day: 5.32
1/27: Walking (5.41 miles).  Total Miles for the day: 5.41
1/28: Running (5.05 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5).  Total Miles for the day: 5.05
1/29: Running (5.06 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6).  Total Miles for the day: 5.06
1/30: Running group @ TSD (4.98 miles - distance includes the drills); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1).  Total Miles for the day: 4.98 (averaged with previous day: 5.02)
1/31: Elliptical (5.53 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 2).  Total Miles for the day: 5.53
2/1: Walking (5.11 miles); Running group - short loop (2.02 miles) + small hill training; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 3).  Total Miles for the day: 7.13
2/2: Walking (4.67 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4).  Total Miles for the day: 4.67 (averaged with previous day: 5.90)
2/3: Elliptical (5.37 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5).  Total Miles for the day: 5.37
2/4: Running (5.00 miles).  Total Miles for the day: 5.00
2/5: Running inside (5.00 miles or 330 laps of 80 ft); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6).  Total Miles for the day: 5.00

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rabbit Food Grocery is open for business!

We did it! Jessica and I launched the web version of our all-vegan grocery store Rabbit Food Grocery. Our ultimate goal is to have a brick-and-mortar store, but we're starting with an online store with free delivery to select locations in Austin.  We're very excited about it and can't wait to see it grow and evolve.  Jessica did all of the difficult, frustrating work of creating the website, and I'm really proud of her.  We're both excited about working with some really cool vendors to bring more unique vegan items to Austin and to the online marketplace.  Read more about this initial phase here, then please go make a purchase at Rabbit Food Grocery.  We can really use your support!

Our friend Molly had some nice things to say about RFG in a recent blog post on her famous vegan blog Lone Star Plate.  Thanks, Molly!

Life is extremely busy with our full-time jobs, Texas VegFest, a house full of furry animals, lots of exercise and reading, and now RFG.  We love it!!!

Exercise Log:
1/11: Walking (4.34 miles); Running group (2.62 miles) + hill training drills @ 7th St; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 3).  Total Miles for the day: 6.96
1/12: Walking (5.47 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4).  Total Miles for the day: 5.47
1/13: Running (5.93 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5).  Total Miles for the day: 5.93
1/14: Elliptical (5.46 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6).  Total Miles for the day: 5.46
1/15: Elliptical (5.25 miles); TotalGym Ab Crunch workout.  Total Miles for the day: 5.25
1/16: Running group (2.37 miles) + drills @ TSD; Running after group (3.00 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1).  Total Miles for the day: 5.37 
1/17: Elliptical (4.93 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 2).  Total Miles for the day: 4.93 (averaged with previous day: 5.15)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 Miles/Day = Good

My goal to average five miles per day of running, walking, etc. has been going well.  I actually am finding that I am running more of the miles than I expected.  Running is so much more efficient, and I often choose it over walking to get the miles in within a reasonable period of time.  I'm a busy guy and walking five miles takes almost 50% longer.   I do want to have days where I don't run for recovery purposes.  Interestingly enough, though, it seems that I'm adapting to running more miles more often.  I do feel a little more tender in some muscles after running, but the tenderness seems to mostly go away after a good night's sleep.  

My inspiration for my goal was the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.  Recently I listened to the audiobook version of his nonfiction book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  (I highly recommend it!)  I listened to it mostly while hiking and walking, and it really made me think about how running fits into my life and how I'd like to adapt my running.  

Murakami talks about how important distance running has been to him and how it has helped him to be a stronger novelist (more endurance).  He's been running everyday since the early 1980s and didn't start running until he was 33.  In the time period covered in the book (mostly 2006 - 2007), he talks about how he recently made a goal to run an average of six miles a day and how this goal had a big impact on his running and his body.  This is from someone who had already been running for over 20 years!  Of course, that got me thinking about how a similar goal could impact a novice runner such as myself.

A few highlights from the book and what they mean to me:

- Crying/screaming muscles will eventually stop making a fuss when they understand through repetition and perseverance that a certain amount of work (in my case, my new distance of five miles) is expected of them.  Also, how taking time off makes them scream again.  I had been running three days a week most weeks with days in between running, and my muscles always hurt when I ran.  Now I'm training them to work daily and they still hurt sometimes, but I think that it's a different, more bearable pain.  Also, I do have more moments of pleasurable running.  It'll be interesting to see how things change after a few months of working them every day.

- Murakami runs for distance, not speed.  I'm a pretty slow runner, and I enjoy running more after I've been going for a couple of miles.  In my running group, we mostly do short runs (~ 2.5 miles or so).  This was pretty much all the running I was doing before.  Now, I am running on my own in addition to what I do in the group.  When I run on my own, I don't try to go fast.  I just run for the distance.  This seems to be working for me.  However, I don't want to quit the group.  The group is good because I get training that focuses on different areas (speed, hills, form), and I am starting to see that as a supplement to my running rather than as my actual running.  I don't know if I will eventually become a long-distance runner, but I would like to work my way up gradually to greater distances.  This year, my only goal so far is to continue my average five miles per day and to do the Capitol 10K.  I may add more goals to my running later, but for now that's it.  I have no plans to do a marathon this year, though I would eventually like to complete one.

- Running longer distances makes your body adapt so that it can handle these distances better.  It changes your body.  After just 10 days, I'm noticing that it has really has amped up fat loss.  That's good.  Even though I have seen tremendous changes from following Dr. Fuhrman's dietary recommendations and exercising regularly, it's nice to see that accelerate even more.  While all of this is ultimately about health and feeling great, it's still nice to see my love handles start to shrink away a little more quickly.

- Running makes you stronger and that carries over into other areas of your life.  I'm sure that Jessica gets sick of hearing me talk about running, but she has also said that I have become a more positive person since I started running.  I do feel stronger, like I'm capable of doing more.  

Murakami doesn't proselytize about running since he thinks it may not be for everyone, but he shares his own experience for what it's worth knowing that some may gain from it.  In doing so, he definitely motivated me to think about my running and my goals.  This is a book I will listen to again, and I'm sure that I will gain more insights from doing so.

Exercise Log:
1/3: Running (5.03 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 2).  Total Miles for the day: 5.03
1/4: Walking (4.11 miles); Running group (2.48 miles) + hill training drills @ 7th St; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 3).  Total Miles for the day: 6.59
1/5: Walking (5.45 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4).  Total Miles for the day: 5.45
1/6: Walking (2.51 miles); Running (5.08 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5).  Total Miles for the day: 7.59
1/7: Running group (5.04 miles - ran some of this on my own after training) + drills + circuits @ Clark Field; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6).  Total Miles for the day: 5.04
1/8: Running (5.23 miles); TotalGym Ab training.  Total Miles for the day: 5.23
1/9: Running (5.01 miles); Running group (1.84 miles) + drills @ TSD; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1).  Total Miles for the day: 6.85
1/10: Running (3.69 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 2).  Total Miles for the day: 3.69 (averaged with previous day = 5.27 per day)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

RunKeeper Accuracy and a Deer on my Walk

Yesterday, I was walking one of my normal routes near my house and heard some rustling as I passed over a bridge on Bluff Springs (Southeast Austin).  When I looked down, I saw a deer!  It's not the first time I've seen deer in this area, but it was still very cool.  It's one of things I enjoy about walking in that area.  I snapped a few pics with my phone before she took off.  See if you can spot her in the one below:

After she ran off, I walked to what I believe is the 1.5 mile point and checked RunKeeper since I was trying to walk an even 3 miles.  It had me as having walked 2.72 miles!  This is the first time I've ever noticed a discrepancy like this.  I stopped, restarted my phone and the app, then walked back.  I kept checking it on the way back and it was fine up until one point when it seemed to lose the GPS signal a few times.  Then, the distance shot up some.  When I checked RunKeeper, the maps had me on my regular course but also had me in some areas I never went.  I removed the maps and edited the distance to 1.5 miles for each leg.  It's a bit frustrating because I really need it to be accurate so that I can measure my distance and achieve my goal.  I read their FAQs and they had some recommendations on how to improve accuracy.  I downloaded an update and made sure all the settings were right.  Later I ran a couple of miles with my running group and it was accurate.  Since that walk was the first time that I've noticed any issues with the distance, I'm hoping it was just a one-time occurrence.  In any case, I'll be keeping my eyes on the maps after runs/walks, since those seem the best way to determine if I am being properly tracked.

Exercise Log:
1/2: 3 miles walking; Running group (2.37 miles) + drills @ TSD; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1).  Total Miles for the day: 5.37

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

What a year 2011 was, with lots of challenges, changes, and personal growth!  As stressful as this year has been, I feel like I've grown more this year than I have in a long time. I am exiting the year in a much better place than I was when it started.  I turned 40 in April, and as cliche as it sounds, it really has felt like "life begins at 40."  I don't know if that number really has an impact, though it's completely possible that on some subtle level it has, but I do know that I changed my path for the better in a lot of ways.  It definitely feels like it's the beginning of a new phase of my life.  I want to keep the momentum going into 2012, and so I've set some new goals for this year.  You can call them resolutions if you'd like, but I don't want to treat them the same way that most people treat their resolutions.  I want these to mean something.  I want them to continue to evolve and develop throughout the year.  They are not static goals that I drop in two weeks.  They are a road map for where I want to go in 2012.

A few highlights and lowlights in 2011:
- Jessica's injury + 3 surgeries, which were stressful and difficult but brought us closer together and gave us more perspective.
- Job changes and moving to 100% working from home.
- Becoming completely dissatisfied with my physical fitness and health and making a total change in how I eat (from junk-food vegan to healthy "nutritarian" vegan) and beginning a vigorous exercise regimen.
- Resolving some long-standing financial issues.
- Getting a new Kindle Fire!
- Changing my mindset to healthier one in many ways.
- Taking some initial steps with my partner Jessica to start Austin's first all-vegan grocery.  (Note: The store will be open this year!)
- A healthier year for all of our animals.
- Helping some with the upcoming Texas VegFest.

I'm not going to list all of my goals/resolutions here, but I will share one of my physical fitness goals for the year.  I've decided that I want to average 5 miles a day of running/walking/hiking/elliptical.  I'm allowing myself to carry over from one day to the next to average five miles per day, but I am only averaging over two days and have to do at least two miles every day.  Some examples:

Day 1 @ 8 miles + Day 2 @ 2 miles is acceptable.
Day 1 @ 3 miles + Day 2 @ 3 miles + Day 3 @ 9 miles is not acceptable, as this leaves me under the average for two days combined.
Day 1 @ 10 miles + Day 2 @ 0 miles is unacceptable, because I am supposed to do at least 2 miles every day.

Giving myself the flexibility to run or walk/hike or even use the elliptical machine for the mileage will allow me to avoid both excuses and injuries.  RunKeeper is my friend, as it has been since I started to use it in November.  If you'd like to add me to your RunKeeper Street Team and see my activity maps to see where I go when I run or walk, please feel free to do so:

Exercise Log (from memory + RunKeeper):
12/15:  TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Days 2 & 3)
12/16:  Walking (4.21 miles)
12/17:  TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Days 4 & 5)
12/18:  TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6)
12/19:  Walking (3.17 miles) - sick
12/20:  0 - sick
12/21:  0 - sick
12/22:  Walking (3.08 miles)
12/23:  0
12/24:  0
12/25:  0
12/26:  Running group (1.95 miles) + drills @ TSD; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 1)
12/27:  Running (3.0 miles)
12/28:  Running group (2.60 miles) + hill training drills @ 7th St; TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Days 2 & 3)
12/29: TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 4)
12/30: Hiking (3.17 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 5)
12/31: Hiking (6.07 miles)
01/01: Running (5.55 miles); TotalGym John Carleo 6-day training (Day 6)