Double Dog: A Year of Daily Dares

In which the author examines the possibilities inherent in daring to push oneself beyond socially-imposed boundaries and one's own personally-imposed limitations.

And does some crazy shit!

New Year

New Year’s resolutions are bogus.  They’re easily made, rarely kept and every year it seems we make the same ones.  To lose weight.  To work harder.  To stop smoking.  To achieve our career goals.  To be a better person in general. 

And throughout the year, I’ve made resolutions with myself.  On here.  I’ve dared myself and I’ve failed myself, time and again.  I’ve had the same basic goals for at least eight years.  This past year, I added some that I also failed to achieve. 

I feel like I have failed myself in a lot of ways this year.  I aimed too high when I originally started this blog.  When set the goal to do a dare each day and write about them every day as well, I set a goal that was just not achievable without giving up on other goals that are even more important to me.  I quickly realized that maintaining the momentum of a daily dare and post wouldn’t work. And then, instead of coming up with something reasonably more workable, and being consistent, I allowed myself to get mired in the depression that comes from feeling like you’ve failed yourself.  And it wasn’t just the blog that suffered, it was everything else I cared about as well. 

It’s really easy to be complacent.  To get stuck in a rut.  To make excuses about why we don’t try and then stop setting goals altogether. 

But here’s the one thing that I think is important about New Year’s resolutions and having the “restart” button of January 1st every year:

To keep trying.  To keep striving toward something. 

I’m not going to offer excuses as to why I stopped posting.  I could make any number of excuses—two family deaths in the past month, holidays, work—but the only way to get anywhere in life is to stop making excuses and just do the work we have to do.  I read Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art this past summer, and it really resonated with me.  As Pressfield talks about in the book, we need to identify our resistance, in whatever form it appears (addictions especially) and only then can we get rid of it and make progress toward our goals.

I don’t want to stop daring myself to do things that are difficult, but I also don’t want this blog to take over my entire life to the point that I lose track of the other things I’d like to achieve this year.  So, my New Years resolution is to post at least twice a week.  Two dares a week.  If I’m feeling saucy, maybe I’ll do an extra one, but two a week seems manageable, no matter what else is going on in my life. 

Happy New Year, everyone!  I wish you all the best, and hope that you achieve your goals this year as well. Or at least don’t stop trying.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

One Week Down

Whew.  I finished week one of Couch to 5K.  Who knew that running would make my back hurt?   I looked it up online, and all I could find was info about running causing lower back pain, which is not what mine is.  Mine is my upper back muscles along my spine.  Ouch.

I know I need to get decent running shoes.  My workout shoes are not made for running…they’re really just general gym shoes.  I need some lightweight shoes.

I ran outside a few days ago, and it was beautiful out!  I actually did my intervals running around the block.  It took exactly the 20 minutes of the workout to get around the whole block.  (I live in the country…this isn’t a city block, people!)  It was really nice to be outside in the sun.

I apparently picked the right days to go, as well, because yesterday it was cloudy and gloomy all day.  Today was beautiful and sunny again.  I ran on the lawn this time, thinking that maybe it would cushion the impact better than running on concrete and make my back hurt less tomorrow.  It seemed better.  Also, I need to set up the treadmill, because I know that once my lungs freeze when I breathe in, I’m not going to want to run outside.  I hate the treadmill, though. It’s too damn loud.

I do need to lose five pounds pretty quick because of my fit modeling (i.e. human mannequin, not fashion model) job, so I’ll probably add in an extra day this weekend.  I feel better after I run.

So, new shoes, what to wear outside in the cold, etc…  Any advice for a new runner?

Dare #78: Paint It Black

Today’s Dare: Go Black Friday shopping.

To me, Black Friday has always been the domain of the domestically insane.  A place for people whose lives need the excitement of waiting in the cold with other shopper-lemmings at an ungodly hour in order to cling to a shopping cart full of merchandise that one would probably not ordinarily buy (“but it’s such a deal!”), claw one’s way toward a cheap toaster, and clamor for minimal savings on a television that will be marked down in a few months anyway. Never mind the possible danger of a crazy person pepper spraying you for a video game.

Or being trampled.

If I’m going to be awake at 4am, it better involve 1. a really great night out with friends, 2. a movie that I’m really excited about, or 3. meteor showers.

And no violence.

To further emphasize the pointlessness of Black Friday, I submit this evidence:

Before we left, we were sitting around looking at the Black Friday store flyers.  My aunt leaned over and showed me an ad and asked “Is this a good camera?”  I took out my trusty iPad and looked it up.  “Yes, it has great reviews online…oh, and btw, you can buy it right now, online, for the same price, with no shipping and NO TAX.” 

What would Jesus do?

Well, he definitely wouldn’t trample someone to get the new Call of Duty video game for thirty bucks on sale.  I think he’d take out his credit card and make some purchases while chilling at home.  Then he’d go to bed at a reasonable hour to avoid compromising his immune system and avoid getting that flu everyone’s passing around. 

My sister and I went to Walmart, which meant an earlier start time of 10pm.  We could have done the 4am, somewhere, but I wasn’t about to drive to La Crosse in the middle of the night.  Sparta was far enough, thanks.  The parking lot was CRAZY FULL, and there were two ambulances at the ready (see video in previous post).  Walmart had some deals at 10pm and some at midnight.  I also didn’t have reason to get any of the things that were going on super sale, so we pretty much just went to shop.  I bought my sister some yarn and a crochet hook, because she wanted to make a scarf.  I bought her some cotton balls and a few other small things that she needed.  I got a video game (Raving Rabbids Travel in Time for the Wii).  And towards the end, we both started getting hungry and we broke through the line of people waiting for the midnight deals so we could get to the freezer section and grab a pizza.  It was crazy when we got there, but pretty quiet by the time we left. 

Now I’m thinking we should have gone to La Crosse to the mall.  We could have gotten in a cat fight with someone over the last push-up bra or something.  It would have made a better video.

Dare #78: Go Black Friday Shopping

Running

So, I just did my first twenty minute Couch to 5K session, and whew!  I feel out of shape.  Less than two months ago, I was doing a full musical every night, lots of dancing, running up and down stairs, etc.  Now I’m much more inactive.  Time to change that!

I ran outside.  It’s cold.  And snowy.  And slippery.  So instead of running on pavement, I ran on the lawn and got my pristine white gym tennis shoes good and muddy from gopher-lawn-diggings.  During the running segments, I would run on the grassy area of the lawn (the better to not slip and fall on my ass and break my tailbone again) to and from the house.  The cats sat and watched me from the window, jealous that they couldn’t come outside. 

I’m winded, but gotta keep this up!  Second running date will be Thanksgiving…that will be interesting. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Dare #77: Cold Runnings

Today’s Dare: Become a runner for a week.

My boyfriend has been talking about taking up running.  For quite a while.

So far, he has yet to begin doing it. Instead, he has dared me to become a runner for a week. 

My concerns:

1. I run like a girl and people will laugh at me.

2. I don’t have the right shoes or clothes and will injure myself (especially my very weak old-person left hip) or get overheated or too cold because I don’t know how to dress for running properly.

3. I will get hit by a car.  (I hate treadmills, and there are no sidewalks where I live, so running in broad daylight is a must)

That being said, I’m still going to do this one.  I need to lose more than five pounds before I lose my fit modeling job.  I get measured weekly, and after them cancelling me for five weeks straight, I realized that my measurements had definitely crept up due to lack of physical activity.  Time to fix that!

For this dare, I’m going to do better than a week, though.  I’m co-opting the “Couch to 5K” running plan that my friend told me about.  I think that will be the best way to ease into this and not hurt myself.

Want to try it? See below.

The Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan
Our beginner’s running schedule has helped thousands of new runners get off the couch and onto the roads, running 3 miles in just two months.

  
The Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan


Our beginner’s running schedule has helped thousands of new runners get started.



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Related info:
Try Couch-to-5K® Training Plan Online | Active.Trainer.com

 

By Josh Clark

Too many people have been turned off of running simply by trying to start off too fast. Their bodies rebel, and they wind up miserable, wondering why anyone would possibly want to do this to themselves.

You should ease into your running program gradually. In fact, the beginners’ program we outline here is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.

It’s easy to get impatient, and you may feel tempted to skip ahead in the program, but hold yourself back. Don’t try to do more, even if you feel you can. If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just stretch it out. Don’t feel pressured to continue faster than you’re able. Repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you feel you’re ready.

 
A few minutes each week

Each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness. This program will get you fit. (Runners who do more than this amount are doing it for more than fitness, and before long you might find yourself doing the same as well).

Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don’t worry about how fast you’re going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run.

 
Run for time, or run for distance

There are two ways to follow this program, to measure your runs by time or by distance. Either one works just as well, choose the option that seems easiest for you to keep track of. If you go with the distance option, and you are not using a track to measure the distances, just estimate. It’s not important to have the distances absolutely exact.

Before setting out, make sure to precede each session with a five-minute warmup walk or jog. Be sure to stretch both before and after. Read "Stay Loose" for some suggestions.

Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K ® Program is available for purchase online through Active.Trainer.com. This online version allows you to easily track your progress online, access a host of easy-to-use training tools, receive daily email reminders & more!
Try Couch-to-5K® Training Plan Online | Active.Trainer.com

The schedule
Bookmark this page so that you can easily return to check on your progress.

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3 1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. 2 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. 3 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)

4 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

5 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking. 6 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22 minutes) with no walking. 7 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). 8 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). 9 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). The final workout! Congratulations! Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).



A Hard Month

This month has been depressing for me, and I kinda ended last month on a depressing note, post-wise, so I’ve not been active.

I came back from doing a show five days a week to find my jobs had all slowed down, sat on the couch, gained five pounds, had to get my brakes fixed, hustled to find more work, found some, got busy, and now it’s cold out and my body wants to do nothing except sleep all the time! 

I did read a shit-ton of plays last month, which may have contributed to the physical inactivity that helped me gain five pounds. I will write about the plays very soon, but I need to find the list I was keeping of which plays I read.  After a while, they all started to blend together.

My car is now fixed, and my boyfriend’s mom is repaid, and my jobs have picked up slightly, but my computer is still broken, so my computer access is limited at the moment.

However, it’s time to pick it up again.

I’ve been given some dares that I still need to do.  Quite a few actually:

1. Dance in line at the grocery store.

2. Tell five women that I think they are beautiful.

3. Visit my friend Emily and go to this restaurant she knows of and eat fried cheesecurds, beer and cheese soup…and something else.  She’ll remember.

4. Make a souffle. (Note to self: buy a souffle dish)

5. Have a dinner party where I invite people I’m friends with on Facebook who I don’t know very well but would like to know better. (I really want to do this one!!  But I don’t have a space of my own…hmph.)

6. Take up running for a week. (I am NOT a runner.  In fact, I don’t know of ANYONE who exemplifies the term “runs like a girl” more than me.  I have video footage to prove it.)

7. Polar Bear Plunge!  I’ve always wanted to do this, but have been too scared.  And I keep missing out on some of the more extreme physical endeavors, like the Mud Run and the Warrior Dash (on the list for next year!)  Now as soon as the website starts working again, I’ll sign up…who’s with me?

8. Pull over by the side of the highway, blast my radio and dance! (Thanks, Steve!)

9. Go to an Asian supermarket, get five items I’ve never heard of, look up how to prepare them and then make them.

10. Spend a day dressed up like a man and act like a man.  You know, every time I see a Shakespearean play where a woman pretends to be a man—and there are MANY—I’m always like “Really?  He doesn’t realize that that’s a girl?”  I mean, lots of girls get boobs by the time they’re twelve or thirteen, and I tried wrapping them for a show one time.  Complete and utter failure!  Mine refuse to be contained, apparently.  But, I digress.  Scott would like me to attempt manhood, so I will pick a day when I am not working at the restaurant and get as butch as I can.

11. ????

Carl M. dared me to tazer myself, but until I have evidence that I won’t put myself in the ER or cause permanent physical or mental damage, that one’s not on the list.  I tried to do some internet research on it, and all I found was variations of the same story about a guy who tazered himself. 

Keep throwing options my way, and I’ll be better about at least throwing out there opportunities for dares.  I actually wanted to dare myself to cut my own hair and live with the results for a week.  I was just SO SICK of how gross and ratty my hair had gotten.  Brian said I couldn’t dare myself because it wouldn’t count because I wanted to do it.  I disagreed, because there are lots of things I’d like to do but am afraid to do. Or things I would do, but wouldn’t usually think of.  Like I would like to skydive, but I’m still scared to do it.  But in the end, I didn’t do it, so I guess I chickened out. Boo.  Next time, I’m just going to do it.  Think how fun that video would have been!

Is there something you’d like to dare me to do? To try? To say or wear?

Dare #76: The Fear of Being Left Out/Being Abandoned

Today’s Dare: Every day for a week, write about the things that scare/creep you out the most.

Last one!

You want honesty?  Here’s honesty:  The thing I’m probably most afraid of in life is being left out or being abandoned by people I care about.

I’m not going to try to psychoanalyze my only-child, broken-up parented self.  No point really.  I grew up with both parents, just not together.  And for me, that was normal.  At least it didn’t happen when I was in high school and truly fuck me up like some people.

But somewhere in me is this need to belong.  To be a part of things. To be loved. 

Who doesn’t want to be loved?

In junior high, I had a best friend named Joanna.  I came back from winter break and found she had told everyone that I cussed out her parents (REALLY??  Do you know me?) and that I thought I was better than all of them, and that they shouldn’t let me sit by them at lunch. 

No one to sit with at lunch?  Kiss of death, that. 

45 agonizing minutes of slowly eating your (so-unhealthy-it’s-amazing-that-child-protective-services-haven’t-banned-it-yet) lunch of greasy egg rolls, unnaturally red slushy and Grandma’s chocolate chocolate chip cookies and avoiding eye contact with anyone. 

Freshman year of high school I moved back to Wisconsin from Arizona and made a new best friend who I shall call Christy.  That lasted less than six months.  I showed up at school one day and Christy had written me a letter detailing all of my offenses, and then had most of our group of friends sign it, saying they weren’t my friends any more.  Most of them eventually were my friends again, but Christy spent the rest of our high school career hissing “Rott-en!” every time she and her new friends passed me in the hall.  In her case, it hurt, but I also felt sorry for her.  Christy’s dad was abusive, and this whole incident happened after my friend Jenny and I encouraged her to seek help.  I chalk it up to backlash. 

The years have gone by.  People have gotten more emotionally mature, for the most part.  But I still have this irrational need to feel included.  And an irrational fear of being left behind.

It’s happening again.  Only this time it’s gradual.  And there’s no note.  No explanation.

Just silence.

Dare #75: The Fear of Home

Today’s Dare: Every day for a week, write about the things that scare/creep you out the most.


To be honest, I’m having trouble coming up with things that really scare me.  I’m not squeamish—I can talk about gross things during dinner or anytime and not lose my lunch.  In one particular cast I was in (an all-female cast), we talked about poop and other bodily functions A LOT.  We puppeteers in the cast wore all-brown costumes, so we nicknamed ourselves the Poopeteers, and I made us a big chocolate “poop” cake for our cast party. 

I’ve seen my dad and other male relatives clean enough deer to not mind entrails and rivers of blood.  I grew up being forced to have my picture taken with dead animals, and weaving my way through deer hung up in the garage in order to get to the chest freezer to get ice cream for dessert.  My boyfriend finds this extremely disturbing, but for a whole lot of people who don’t live near a metropolitan area, this is just how things are. 

I’m not afraid of bugs, though I will kill centipedes, mosquitoes, silver fish and a few other disgusting crawly things.  I LOVE spiders, though, and attempt to help them out of the house alive when I can.

I’m not afraid of mice, frogs or snakes.  I will pick up and pet all three if given the opportunity.  When I was seven or eight I petted a 25-foot boa constrictor at the zoo, as my mom watched, cringing, from about fifty feet away.  My aunt runs over snakes with the lawn mower when she has the chance.  I find this barbaric.

I’m not afraid of bats either.  I think they are the cutest.  Plus, they kill mosquitoes so I don’t have to.

I’m not afraid of heights or tight spaces.

I’m not afraid of the dark.

I’m not afraid of viruses and bacteria. 

Have you ever seen the movie The Strangers?  Or The 13th Warrior?  Or read the story in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles titled “The Third Expedition”?

What all of these have in common for me is the feeling that even at home, one cannot ever be entirely safe.

Today’s Fear:  I’m afraid that home is not the safe haven we imagine it to be.

This is completely aside from the fact that, according to the Home Safety Council: 

The home is the second most common location of unintentional fatal injuries in the United States, motor vehicles traveling on the road being the first.

Unintentional home injury fatality statistics

Home invasion shit creeps me out.  Whether it’s aliens posing as your family, serial killing cult members, or one lone crazy dude, I’m not okay with it.

My dad once said to me: "You take a risk leaving the house every day."

This was coming from a family where we were reminded each car trip to have our fingers clear of the door, buckle up, lock the door, etc.  Where my dad didn’t let me wade into the lake past my knees, long past the time where I’d become a proficient swimmer with deep-end privileges at the municipal pool. 

My response to that comment, which I did not say out loud, is this:

With tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, robberies, serial killers, meteors, accidental falls, faulty wiring, lightning, fires and a million other things I can think of, we’re not truly safe anywhere. 

I just try not to think about that most of the time.  Sure, be careful.  Don’t take stupid risks.  But you gotta live your life unafraid, when death could come any time.

Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone!

Dare #74: The Fear of Cancer

Today’s Dare: Every day for a week, write about the things that scare/creep you out the most.

Day #5: I am afraid of getting cancer.

My grandpa had cancer multiple times over four years before dying a slow death of it.

My grandma has beaten cancer twice now.

My cousin got cancer at age 25.

My dad’s cousin didn’t wait for the cancer to kill him.

My dad’s other cousin survived cancer just to die in his sleep later.

At least one of my great-grandparents on my dad’s side died of cancer.

My mom’s sister has terminal cancer right now. 

My boyfriend’s uncle also has cancer.

A friend of mine survived breast cancer last year. 

Everyone I know knows multiple people who have died of or survived cancer.  We are poisoning ourselves, and at this point I’m not sure what can be done about it.  I don’t know if it’s possible to reverse the damage we’ve done.

All the other fears I have are unrealistic in some way.  My odds of finding a dead body are slim.  My odds of encountering an alien?  Also, probably low.  Of getting murdered in a haunted house?  I don’t know that that’s ever happened. 

But cancer is a high probability.  And having watched it happen to those I love, I honestly have to say I’d rather die quickly and unexpectedly than go through the pain and anguish and rather than put my family through that. 

Donate to the American Cancer Society