Category Archives: Life

I’m an Author! OMG!!!

Holy cow!! This happened!!!  Check that off the bucket list!

This book as been in the planning stages since 2013.  I’m glad I didn’t write it back then.  The period from 2015 to 2017 was intense with respect to staying on track and struggling with the mental game.  There were lessons to be learned and my ego needed to be beat up a bit to learn them.

My perspective on how to sustain a “fit life” is more balanced now.  I tried to get all of that into this book so it will become a handbook for “how not to quit” along with some practical tips about eating and such.

When I finished teaching in June, I made a plan to write this book in 30 days.  Took a few weeks longer.  But hey!  It’s up now!  Yay!!!

My inner math nerd did my very best to go live with the book on Amazon on August 18 at 8:18 am.  Yes.  That’s 8/18/18 at 8:18 am (if you write your dates like we do here in the states).  Hahahaha!

While I wait for Amazon to set up the “Inside this Book” feature, I thought I’d share the intro with you here.  These are images of the actual pages in the book.  (Pause the slideshow to read.  Maybe increase the zoom on browser, too.)

 

 

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I’d like to thank my husband, Paul, for helping me with the cover.  (If you remember – there was a banner behind me on stage with a picture of a guy in board shorts. Check out Paul’s self-imposed 77-day boot camp adventure here.)

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Next step – get the Kindle version up.  That shouldn’t take long.  Just need to check on the formatting to make sure it looks good as an ebook.

Eventually – Audible.  That may take a bit longer.  I learned I can do that as a self-publishing author.   Yay!   I want to narrate and edit it myself, so I need to watch some tutorials about how to do that.

If you want to purchase the paperback book on Amazon, you’ll get it speedy quick!

If you want a signed copy, that will take longer because you’re getting that from me.  I’m waiting for my copies to arrive, then I’ll write in your copy, then mail it off.  Limited supplies on that option, so click here.  If you get a order form, there are still some left!

When the copies I ordered arrived, I will be randomly drawing a name or two from the mailing list and sending off a free copy.  If you’re not on my mailing list but would like to be, you can join us over here.

If you would like me to be your Accountability Coach or Nutrition Consultant, click here for more information.

 

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Filed under Books, Faith, Life, Nutrition, Organization Tips, Weight Loss, Workouts

It’s Getting Real Now

41 days left as a public teacher.

Making progress through the checklist towards retirement…

  • Turned in my resignation letter.

  • Met with rep at Human Relations. (A lovely young woman named Caitlyn.  Grateful for the chance to meet her!)

  • Putting together the paperwork for the state retirement system.  (More complicated than it should be.)

  • Signed my school district’s Letter of Intent yesterday, but this time, for the first and only time, I had to choose the “I reject employment…” option.

That “I reject…” declaration threw me for a loop and triggered a little spike in cortisol that lasted for another 8 hours.


I’m excited and thrilled to take the risk to work for myself.  But I’m also nervous, praying, a little scared – all the feels.  This is a major life change.  


Our state striped away a lot of retirement benefits almost 10 years ago.  Even though I’m retiring early, I wouldn’t get much more if I stayed longer.  


So my last day with classes is June 11.  Teachers have an extra day on June 12.  My teaching contract is split over 12 months, so that is done at the end of July.


I’ve been working steadily since last fall to set up my online math tutoring business, www.OnlineGeometryTutor.com.  I’m not known online as a math teacher, so I knew creating content for that would take time.


Still working on the details of the online fitness service I want to offer. 


From my own experiences with this health transformation and talking to a lot of people about their struggles, frustrations, and *most importantly* the obstacles that prevent them from sticking with the plan, 
I know there is a need for something more than a plan on a spreadsheet.


There is a need for something more than just being told or shown what to do.  


Even me, working with one of the best bodybuilding coaches in the industry,  with his scary-smart programming, with my determination, work-ethic, and the experience of five competitions –
it’s still hard


Life happens for all of us, but life is also different for some of us. 


It’s a bit of a different challenge when you’re a middle-aged adult with adult responsibilities.


It’s a slightly different challenge when there are people counting on you who might not be able (or willing) to accept that your self-care is just as important as the role you play in their lives.


People assume that the thing they are missing is some character trait.  Maybe.  Maybe not. 
 What if it is something I can teach?  What if it’s something you know but just need support to bring it to the surface?


I’m in “plan mode” now until I’m done with the day job.  My first priority are the kiddos in my classes now.  And then I need to pack up my teacher life and turn in keys.


And then probably have a bit of a cry, take some time to decompress, and enjoy the backyard patio my husband is fixing up for “retirement” as I write this post.


If you’re on my
mailing list, I promise – you will be first to know when I have something to offer!

***

Training is progressing, but it makes for a boring blog post.  I think I’m max testing next week.  THAT should be interesting!  I’ve been growing.  🙂

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Filed under Life, Teaching

Building Phase Update

Hi!

The grind continues!  My job as a bodybuilder right now is to get bigger and stronger.  This isn’t the glamorous part – but this is the most important part.

 

The first few months after my last competition were all about recovery and healing.  Most people don’t really think about weight loss as “tissue loss”, but that’s exactly what happens.  Fat is tissue.  But so is everything else – muscle, tendons, ligaments, bones, organs…all tissues that may be damaged a little by a long bout of dieting.

 

Many bodybuilders get hurt in the months after a competition season because they don’t give themselves time and calories to recover.

 

However, I gained more weight than I was supposed to.  I’m about 40 lbs over stage right now.  I know there are “hard-core-I-stay-lean” competitors reading this right now who might be judging my process, so it is hard for me to admit that I lost control a little.  And as a former fat person, I’ve got mixed feelings about that.   I’m a little embarrassed.

 

I remind myself that I was cutting hard for the better part of two years and I’ve been “in control” for nine years.  I needed time to replace all kinds of tissue and I NEEDED a psychological break from the nutrition precision.  It was also important to be able to relax and enjoy the holidays and my birthday with my husband.  

 

That said – some of that 40 lbs is muscle.  🙂

 

No idea how much and I don’t really want to check just yet.  I’m enjoying my psychological break from caring.

 

So my data has to be based on what I see, how I feel, and gym performance.

 

My calculated bench press PR jumped up 20 lbs in 8 weeks!  I think I mentioned that before.  Still getting stronger.  Not testing again for about a month.

 

All upper body is growing.  Back is growing.  Glutes are growing.  Quads – I don’t know.  Been having some issues with knee pain, so I’ve been careful with my leg work.  I’m not injured – I think it’s the beginning of arthritis.  I’m 56 and have been lifting for almost 8 years, so I expected the joints to age a bit.

 

Started a mini cut this week just because I’m not comfortable being this heavy.  Clothes don’t fit and I don’t have a lot of endurance.  Weight isn’t great for the knees and feet, either.  The plan is to cut what I can until mid-June.  Over the next year, it’s important that I spend most of the time NOT in a calorie deficit. 

 

I am in the body-building phase for about another year.  Next competition season will be 2020.  Not sure which shows.  Just know I don’t want to compete next year.   Big plans for 2018-2019, though!

 


In other news...

Still working every day on building my new online tutoring business.  I’ve been making a lot of progress with website improvements, content creation, and social media marketing.  The learning curve is steep.  It’s also a bit weird to be an “unknown” in the world for the thing I’ve been doing for over 20 years.  Need to create an “online presence” as the business coaches say.

Regardless, I’m a good teacher and I enjoy teaching math to teenagers – which is a niche.  When I’m working with kids online, it is amazingly fun.  A…MAY…ZING!!

I’m really excited to be able to do this thing I enjoy in private practice – to focus on teaching and doing it on my own terms. 

(Schools do the best they can under some less-than-optimal conditions, so I don’t want to sound like I’m biting the hand that feeds me.  Over time, my philosophy about math instruction has changed.  I truly believe big classes are NOT the best way for teens to learn math.  Until schools can find a way to individualize, parents need to learn about the new options that are out there.  I know it was eye-opening for me!)    

 

Just in case you might be interested, a second business, one that is fitness-related, is in the works and should be ready to be launched by the end of the year.    

And there is that book I was supposed to write a couple years ago…


And then there’s this…

I spent a few months volunteering time to train a woman involved with the Rise and Grind program at my gym.  This program helps women recovering from addiction with regular exercise and nutrition.

 

For those of us who used the same approach to transform our own lives, this just makes sense.  But it’s so much more important considering the battle they wage – they aren’t just trying to get healthier – they are tearing away from dysfunction and recreating their lives.  The courage it takes to do that is impressive.  Remember how it felt to walk into a gym the first time?  Intimidating, right?  Now imagine what it must be like for one of these women.  It was humbling for me to participate as little as I did.  

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Please consider treating yourself to one of their t-shirts or hoodies.  I love mine!  The fabric is light and soft.  The logo is badass!

Contact Grant Denton (modeling his program’s new hoodies below) directly by visiting the Facebook page, @RiseandGrindReno.  If you do, will you do me a favor and let them know I sent you?  I’d like the Rise and Grind ladies to feel the LMS love and support – like HUGE bear hug!   Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Life, Teaching

Oh Hey – It’s My Birthday Again!

Eight minutes from the exact time I started writing this post, I will precisely be 55 years old.  I always miss my mom on my birthday.

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Me and Mom

Took some progress pictures today.  I’m not competing until July, and based on how this prep has been going, it highly likely that my conditioning will be better than it was the last time I competed.  I’m humbled and grateful that I’m able to do this considering I didn’t become any kind of athlete until later in life.   I’ve become less comfortable sharing my progress pictures for many reasons.  But this blog started when I started this new life, so I also think it’s important to document where I’m at now.

Today’s pictures compared to October when I started this prep…

Oct 2016 - Started Prep

Oct 2016 – Started Prep

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10-8-16-back

 

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Can’t lie.  I’m a bit freaked out about this birthday.  I remember being younger thinking that being 55 would be close to retirement – which I might be, but haven’t really decided on that yet. (2/16/17 edit – at the end of this day, I’m leaning towards “sooner rather than later” on that retirement thing.  Love, love, love the kids. It will never be anything about them that pushes me out.) Digging what I’m doing as a teacher right now and I passionately believe it’s a better way for humans to learn mathematics.  I’d like to hang in until I work out the bugs and evolve it.

55 is also a big one because my mother died when she was 56.  Intellectually, I think I’ve done enough to alter my own path, health-wise, to live longer than my mom did, but she died of a brain aneurysm.  We don’t know if that was a hereditary condition or a consequence of her smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress.

Did I say I am grateful?  I woke up today extremely grateful to be here.

My husband created most of the gifts he gave me.  Aren’t they amazing?  His time and the little things he included in these paintings (he used his thumb print to color the heart with the tree) made these the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received.

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Hubby had to work today, but I took the day off.  I needed to renew my driver’s license since it expired today.  Took my little girl pup with me.  We stopped at a local duck pond for a short walk on the way home.  Poor thing has been cooped up in the house.  Weather here hasn’t been conducive for walks.  I also have a nagging issue with my left ankle and foot.  Nothing serious, but long dog walks aggravate it.

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Started a new training phase this week.  It’s a very different split than what I’ve ever done before.  Coach has me doing full body four days a week for a month with a bit lighter loads.  It’s probably going to be good.  The first week will be bumpy because I need to adjust my habits.  My little gym doesn’t have everything I need, so I have to travel to another one for that one thing I do need on that one day – the logistics need to be worked out.   He also incorporated the use of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exersion) to determine the loads I use.  It’s an uncomfortable adjustment for me to make.  I mentally rehearse my lifts the night before.   When I don’t have an actual load given on the spreadsheet, I ruminate on it a bit – and that’s not relaxing at all.  It’s probably just difficult for me right now because I’m working so much and I’ve been dieting for 123 days.  I’m not mentally flexible right now.

It was a memorably wonderful birthday.  And I will have a carb hangover tomorrow.   It’s all good – I’m leg pressing in the morning.  I’ll turn it all into muscle.  😉

(I didn’t eat all of this candy today. Milk Duds are gone.  And there was a heart-shaped pizza. And a big slice of cheesecake.  This won’t be my last refeed, but it could be my last REFEED until July.)

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Contest Prep, Life

2017 Prep Update: Day 100

Day 100 was last Sunday.


An interesting, unsettling, and maybe a bit impulsive decision was made on Day 100…

Facebook deactivation.

I know – so what?  Who cares? (Is it ego to wonder if anyone noticed?  Probably.  Is it ego to write about it?  Definitely.)  It’s not a statement about social media – I’m obviously still involved since I’m writing this blog post.   I had to find a work-around to keep the Lifting My Spirits page up and plan to keep posting there. Thought about taking a hiatus from that page, too, but it has a purpose and the people who comment there are amazing. They inspire me.

I think I’ve been getting ready for this for some time.  Had a privacy violation a couple years ago that bled into real life.  I stopped accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know and have been posting less.  I’ve been more careful.  I’ve “unliked” or “unfollowed” pages that posted things that yanked my chain.  Deactivating for a time could be the next step in that process.

I like how it has forced some changes in my head the last couple of days.  It’s quiet in here.   I love my job, love the kids, but I am an introvert and working with full classes of teenagers all day drains me a bit.  I’m working about 55 hours a week, training, and I’m working on earning some CEU credits I need to renew my teaching license next year.   My plate is always too full.  (Figuratively, not literally.)  I started paying attention to things I did away from work that recharged my batteries and what cause my brain to spin.  I deactivated Instagram last year.  It took a few days to get out of that habit, but it felt good to share less.  I’ve been on Facebook a lot longer and this feels like I just fell off the planet.  It’s going to be a hard habit to break, but a good thing for me to have less external input in my day.

It’s hard, though.  I don’t want to lose touch with people, so I need to make a new habit to stay in contact.  Learned that Messenger still works and that’s a relief.  Fits my personality better to have private conversations, anyway.  This may be a temporary decision – when my prep is done and I have a little less on my figurative plate and more on my real one, I’ll probably activate it.  It does feel weird.  How did we do this before??  We didn’t even have email growing up.  Were we just…quiet?  The fact that it feels like I’m in withdrawal just confirms that it’s a good thing for me to do.

Whatever…what about bodybuilding??

Training went well this last week.  Got a PR on leg extension this morning.  Coming off the deload week, my loads were scheduled to increase.  Hamstring feels better, but the ankle below it is still tight.  Seems like the hamstring healing up might be pulling on everything below it.  I plan to do more stretching in that area.

Less walking needs to happen since my feet are feeling beat up.  We have a 20-year old recumbent bike at home.  Most years, it was out in the patio.  It’s weathered and a bit beat up.  This adorable puppy has used a pedal as a chew toy when she was working through separation anxiety.  It still pedals, so it’s all good.  Jump on there for a bit on days when my normal activity was low.  We’ve had many of those days here the last few weeks thanks to some winter weather.

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Oh, and weight is still dropping, but not fast.  Much more scale bouncing these days, which is expected.  So far, over the last 100 days I’ve lost about 12 pounds, give or take a daily bounce.  Stage weight goal is in another 13 pounds.  If I make it, this stage will be 4 lbs lighter than last one.  It probably won’t be easy to get there, but it’s part of the game.  The reverse diet out of this one will be just as hard.

So that’s my update for Day 100.

Recap…

  • Training is good.
  • I’m now a hermit.

 

 

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Filed under Contest Prep, Life

Transforming Into an Athlete in the Second Part of Life

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The first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  I’m now 54.

Some people say my age is an irrelevant point about me as an athlete, but they are wrong.  It’s extremely relevant.   I was a fully formed adult with scars and strengths from living life before I decided to live a completely different way.  And my decision impacted a lot of people who thought they knew who I was before I decided to be someone else.  I’m still working on making sense of all this.  Something yanked my chain this last week and I need to write to figure out what I think about things.  Sorry – I need to be a bit cryptic about it because it’s private.  But I believe humans have similar responses to things, even if details are different.

Please forgive me for veering into the past for a moment.   If what I’m going to say later is going to make any sense, I need share parts of my personal history.  I don’t feel comfortable doing that, because I don’t want to give the impression that I think my life has been difficult.  It’s just been a “life”.  But these things are a bit relevant to why I think what I think as I keep transforming into an athlete in the second half of my life…

  • My scoliosis was diagnosed early in high school and I was pulled from all sports. I was told to be “careful” for the rest of my life.  Between the ages of 17 and 24, I had at least two episodes when my back would freeze up and I could not move for about a week.  I remember my mother pushing me around in a wheel-chair at the hospital to get x-rays.   I believed all the adults who told me I was fragile.
  • In my 20’s, I got a job at a gym as a receptionist. That’s when I first saw female bodybuilders in magazines.  They were about my age, but they looked so strong – not fragile.  I wanted that, but I was intimidated by it for a couple of really good reasons.  1) I have scoliosis and shouldn’t lift, and 2) women aren’t supposed to look like that – guys didn’t like it.  I didn’t question those beliefs at the time.  I accepted them and set other goals for my life.
  • My mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 and I was 28.  I was the family member who was tasked with the decision to remove her from life support.  I watched her die.  I know some of you have had to do that, too.  It’s not exactly like how they show it in movies or on Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I decided to get a degree in mathematics and teach math because I was intimidated by it. That was when I began to do battle with my fears.  The time span from my first day of college to my graduation with a degree in mathematics was 16 years.  Mom died during this time and I lost my job because I needed to take a leave of absence to handle my mother’s affairs out of town.  Once I could get back to work, I had as many as three part-time jobs to support myself and still have a schedule flexible enough to attend school during the day when the classes I needed were offered.  This was the first time I set a scary goal and achieved it.
  • For the last 20 years, I’ve taught math to teenagers, ages 15-18. Takes a little courage to show up and do that every day.   Not many adults would want to attempt to manage a room of 30+ teenagers.  Fewer can handle it when a whole bunch of them are anxious about what you are asking them to do.  Math teachers are in short-supply these days.  Burn out is high.  Many students believe they will fail before they try, so they won’t try.  They will do a lot of other things to avoid trying.  While teaching geometry, I teach a lot of other things, too.

And that brings me back to my first point – the first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  All of these other things happened years prior to that.

To decide to become a female bodybuilder at that point in my life, I had to challenge and beat down a lot of my own thoughts about what women can do, what a person with scoliosis can do, what a busy teacher can find time to do, and what a post-menopausal woman can accomplish in bodybuilding.  I’m not saying my journey has been harder than someone else’s, because I know it hasn’t been.  There is no comparison to what others have had to deal with to just get through another day.  I have not had to survive trauma.

That said, I’ve still accomplished enough hard stuff to feel like I can do more.  It’s my journey.   I’ve already lived a life and I’m still in the mix.  My ego tells me that I should be respected for that, but I can’t control what others say or think.  (Yeah, something happened a couple days ago. I was hurt by it, but I learned something useful.)  I remind myself what I’ve done to get here.  My ego wants to puff up – that’s what others do, right?  But that’s not going to help me do anything except become an asshole.  I don’t need to defend my thoughts.

I am sensitive.  I am scared.  I am brave.  I reflect.  I learn. I overthink.  I lose my focus sometimes, but I get it back.  I tell my ego to shut the hell up.  She just wants to generate negative thoughts that feed uncertainty about whether I will ever have tangible success as an athlete.  I may always be a novelty act in public, she tells me.  Ageism is alive and well, we all know that.  Is that my only obstacle?  Of course not.  But it’s there.  I can’t get younger, but I can improve.  I may always be switched to the outside of the youngest, most novice bodybuilder in the line.  If I’m a better bodybuilder than I was the last time I showed up, I guess that’s going to be enough.  My voice may shake when I say “my journey on my terms“, but I’m still saying it.  I’m still insisting on it.

“Why bother?”  I ask myself almost every day.  Almost every day, I quit.  And then I recommit to what I’m doing as an athlete.  The last year has been difficult.  I may not be able to break this cycle until after I compete again.  That last competition experience needs to be replaced by a new one before I’m going to get closure on what happened that day.  Simply getting on stage again will be a win because I will be able to put away two years of trying to make sense of what will now be called the “2015 WTF Happened? Blesson”.

And then I touch a barbell and I happily battle gravity.  I get a little bit of clarity when I’m at the gym.  Lifting still fixes me.  I love to train.  That’s why I bother.   Everything else is just distracting noise, whether it’s external or internal.

 

 

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Filed under Competing, Life, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

Binging On Audio Books

A year ago today was the day before my most recent competition and my nerves were off the charts.  I was unpleasant to be around.  I ended up having an EPIC anxiety attack that evening, sat in the bathroom of the hotel, texting my coach who calmed me down a little.  The next day, I had the most humiliating public experience I’ve had in my life.  You know that nightmare where you go to school in your underwear?  Yeah.  That.  To say my ego was dented and damaged – well that’s accurate.  I’ve spend the last year trying to sort things out.  If I were a normal person, I’d probably walk away from this sport.  But I’m not normal.  I’m stubborn.  And I love this sport.  What happened was a little bit shitty, yes, but it shouldn’t have rocked me like that.  Something about it kicked every single insecurity I’ve got like a gut shot.  No – more like drilling a tooth before you’re numb.  I did not see it coming.

After a few years of investing in my physical health and discovering that competitive bodybuilding added value to my life, I came home from that show wondering if I had it in me to ever step on stage again.  A long time ago, I promised myself to never let fear define me, or rather, never let fear stop me from doing something I wanted to do.  Unless I break that promise, I have to do this work now, too.  I might blog about the things I’m learning and how I will apply them, but I’m not sure yet if that’s something I want to share publicly.  A big part of my work is to disengage my ego and just do the work.  Haven’t really reconciled how to share that process in public yet.

However, the list of books I’ve devoured might have some value for others.  All audio.  I don’t have time to read, but while I’m grading, walking, or driving, I listen and learn.

Here is a list of the audio books in my Audible library that I have found the most enlightening.  “Enlightening” in the sense that I enjoy uncomfortable self-reflection and forced psychological growth.  Putting introspection on Beast Mode, I guess.  Hahahahaha!  They are in order of how I listened to them.  In some way, each book led me to the next.  Some I’ve listened to a few a couple of times.  I revisit parts when it seems I need a refresher on that particular lesson.  Each time I listen, I pick up something new.

Almost all have had an impact on my teaching, too.  I think that’s what has hooked me the most.  While following my own instincts about what I want to learn personally, I’ve enriched my practice as a teacher of teenagers.  I had a conversation with someone once who said he thought we were all stuck at 17 on the inside forever.  That might be true.

The last book, “The Ego is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday, has been the most beneficial in addressing my competition experience, but I don’t know if I was ready to hear it until after I had listened to the others.  It also wasn’t published until last month, so it wasn’t available.  It’s probably that “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” thing, huh?

I’m grateful for the lessons in all of these books.   I got something from each.  (It’s a bit overwhelming to see the list together – this isn’t even all of them.  Just the best ones.  And there were a few fiction books in the mix over the last year, too.  Brain needed a break every so often.)

Pictures are linked back to Audible descriptions for each book.  Just click…

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Filed under Competing, Life, Teaching