Monday, October 31, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Pixies, Hill Repeats and The Lactose Intolerant

Happy Halloween, everyone! Can you even believe the first day of November is tomorrow?? Another busy weekend come and gone! It started out innocently enough and then things accelerated to a fever pitch through Sunday. [Do you like how I worked in that baseball reference? And how about Eddie Vedder at the world series last night??] #fangirl

I was working on my hill repeats on Friday, because the wicked switchback and subsequent climb at mile 11 of my half marathon is going to suck be incredibly challenging.  I thought it would be fun to use the timer on my phone and get an action shot to share on Instagram. It didn't go very well.

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Here are some of the outtakes from my hill repeats.
I'm not entirely sure what was going on in the bottom left photo since the hill was in the opposite direction, but...okay? I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get a photo, and ended up running twice as much as I had planned. 

Friday night was spent with my best girlfriend. She originally invited Boydoll to see the Pixies with her, but he had a pep rally at the rival high school's football game. I generously offered to step in for him and take one for the team. I'm a giver like that. 

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I'm not sure about the 'majestic' part,
but it is an intimate little theater.
Two things worth mentioning about our pre-game strategy: 
  1. I wore adorable boots that are really only intended for wearing in brief intervals that involve lots of sitting. #fail
  2. The mocha that I ordered with almond milk had been accidentally prepared with regular milk instead. I should have know better when it tasted creamy, but there was just too much going on. THANKS A LOT, STARBUCKSSigned, A Lactose Intolerant Patron.
We had dinner before the show, and got in line at 6pm for general admission. Shortly after 7pm, we were the first of about 20 people in the door and we rushed for the rail above the main floor. My best girl doesn't play, people -- she had a plan. We had a perfect unobstructed view of the stage, and we were well out of moshing range. #winning

The opening band came on around 8:30, which was also right around the time my feet fell off and the milk lactose began to wreak havoc on my stomach. I was seriously questioning whether I was going to be able to stay. Somehow, I white-knuckled through the next hour and a half. Four words: It was worth it.  

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Such an incredible show! #pixies
The following day required Mr. Doll and I to divide and conquer. He took Boydoll to a jazz event a few hours north, and I headed south to attend family day at our daughter's university. My attempts at cloning have proved fruitless.

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Fresh out of the shower and into dress clothes for the jazz festival.
My boy looked so handsome! (Pay no attention to the photo bomber...)
I brought the boys dogs to visit their beloved girl, and we went for a hike in the hills above the university. It was very muggy...but still a gorgeous afternoon. We enjoyed lunch afterwards at The Lazy Dog. It was an especially sweet visit on Saturday. My daughter seemed happy and relaxed, and I loved catching up with her. I'm so grateful she's not going to school out of state. It would be more than my heart could bear, I think. 
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This one has my heart.
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Views for days and my crazy dog.
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Yummy lunch with my girl and the Browns. Riley approved!
I spent most of Sunday puttering around the house and hydrating for my 12 mile run today. It's my last long run before my half marathon in thirteen days. [gulp!] We got a little bit of rain on Sunday and it was HEAVEN. Things are already really tough from the 5-year drought, so we gotta get some rain this winter - please and thank you!

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Finally some rain!! 

Thank you to Erin for hosting Weekend Snapshots and Katie at Healthy Diva Life for their weekly link-ups! 

Do you have any Halloween plans for tonight? We're kind of missing it all because we have concert plans with my FIL. I'm really excited to see him, even if it means that I don't get to pass out candy. The littlest first-time trick or treaters are my favorite because they're just so blown away by the whole process, 'Knock on a door and get free candy?? SIGN ME UP NOW.' 

I did dress up as Hermione Granger in my spin class last Thursday. I always host a giveaway during my class closest to a holiday, and the members love it. I'm not sure how any of that went down without any pictures to show for it. It was a bit of a challenge working out wearing a dress shirt and tie, but still great fun nonetheless. Will you be passing out candy tonight? Do you get a lot of trick or treaters?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

TOL #6 Weight Loss: It's Not You, It's Me

Things are gonna get real, k? For this edition of Thinking Out Loud, I'm going to be frank about body image and my struggles with being 30 pounds overweight. I know, I know. Stop the presses: a middle-aged woman is going to talk about food and weight loss.


There are weekly nutrition and weight loss facts posted at the gym where I work. One fact that I read several years ago has stayed with me since: the average person gains tens pounds with each decade. I was like '10 pounds every 10 years? That's not a big deal." Well. That happens to be the exact trajectory I'm following...and I'm not happy about it one bit.

Jennifer Lawrence is my spirit animal.

When I was a little girl into and into my early 20s, I had a very fast metabolism. I was rail thin and self conscious, and I had to drink protein shakes to maintain my weight. I ate poorly and had no sense of good nutrition or proper portions.

I weighed around 135 pounds when I was 25, and was 'skinnyfat'; I was in terrible shape with poor eating habits. I joined a gym and started really getting into fitness and nutrition, and my weight dropped down to 123 pounds. It was the least I have weighed as an adult, but I was physically in the best shape of my life.

I got pregnant with our daughter a few years later, and then had our son four years after that. By this time, I was in my early 30s and took up running. I fell in love with it, and I was able to lose the baby weight I had gained with my son within about 6 months. I started entering 5k and 10k races, and ran my first half marathon. Shortly afterwards, I began training for a full marathon. I was 36 years old, and I had started working for the Y as a spinning instructor. I picked up three classes, and I was offered a job at second gym. I became certified as a personal trainer and had a dozen clients.

Working in the fitness industry made me aware of my own nutrition. Some bad habits had started creeping in, and I made the decision to give up sugar. It was starting to feel like sugar had been running my life, similar to when I was doing drugs or drinking. Even despite cutting sugar out of my diet and working out 5-6 days a week, I began slowly gaining weight and was experiencing intense fatigue. My doctor ordered a blood panel, and we discovered that I had thyroid issues. Unless I'm eating clean, my weight quickly pops up.

Pretty much on point. 

The funny thing is that I don't feel overweight. In my mind, I look slender. It's like some bizarre reverse form of dysmorphia. Maybe that's just called denial? I'm always unpleasantly surprised at how heavy I look when I see photographs of myself. And I'll tell you, it's a total serving of humble pie to have slowly put on 30 pounds and work as a fitness instructor. Here's the important part, though; it's not worth disparaging myself over. The person who is bothered by my weight gain most is me.

It makes zero sense to compare my fitness journey
to someone else's. 

I've never really done a timeline in this matter and looked at my history with food and my weight before. It's certainly been cathartic. I'm getting back to the basics of what works for me: small frequent meals that include protein, keeping track of my food and drinking lots of water, and avoid watching TV or mindlessly looking at my phone while I'm eating. Thank you to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting her weekly linkup. It always gets me motivated and thinking about writing!

What are some of the things that have contributed to your successes in weight loss or maintaining fitness?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekend Snapshots And What I'll Never Live Down

Another weekend come and gone. What do you think about that, Monday? Yeah. Pretty much me, too. 

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The bird is the word, Monday.
This weekend was broken up into three parts: Friday night football game, marching band competition, and my nephew's birthday party. 

Friday was the 50th anniversary of my son's high school, which is my alma mater as well. There was much hoopla around this historic milestone, including a parade of past homecoming kings and queens, and the high school Hall of Fame inductees. The football team played a rival high school, and we lost by one point. Even for someone who knows so little about football, the game was a total nail-biter.

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May the odds be ever in our favor! 
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My boy at pep rally! He was also flipped upside down and
played the quads, but I missed it. [sad face]
When I recounted the game to my husband, I instead of saying field goal, I accidentally said field 'gold'. I know squat about football, but even I know they're not called a 'field gold'. I just misspoke, but I will never hear the end of it. Mr. Doll said, 'I'm totally telling my brother that you called it a field gold.' *sigh*

Earlier in the day, I went stopped by the 'funk zone' to buy a birthday gift for my nephew at the new skate shop that recently opened there. I couldn't resist taking a few photos of doorways along the alley. I haven't been inside the surf museum, but this might be worth exploring some day!

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Surfboard museum: Funk Zone is funky fun!
We headed down south, and I'll share a little inside joke that you may or may not find funny. There are about a dozen car dealerships along a stretch of the freeway. In the middle of them is this tiny casino, which makes zero sense to me. Maybe they think that someone will win big, and then run next door and buy a car? One day when we were driving by I announced, 'You know what I don't understand? Why would they put a casino right in the middle of all those car dealerships??' My family found this hilarious. Now if the boys are on their way to LA, I always receive a text of a blurry photo with the caption, 'YOU KNOW WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND?? 

In terms of never dropping it never, I made things worse by suggesting that we should stop in and at least see what kinds of gaming they offered in such a small establishment: Slots and roulette? Blackjack or craps? It's a total mystery.

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Players Casino: Get lucky, buy a car.

Southern California doesn't typically see fall weather until early November, so it was crazy hot in LA. It was a gorgeous day, though. The marching band's field show included a new second movement at this competition, which I loved.

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The weather was beautiful on Saturday at the
marching band competition.
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Looking sharp!
My son quickly changed out of his uniform, and then we headed out to my nephew's birthday party after the field show. We surprised everyone by stopping off and picking up Girldoll from her university.

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Family is the best.
We likely won't get see my niece and nephew again until Christmas Eve, when we gather for our huge Swedish feast. Everyone is growing so quickly that it's always special to spend time together. I flipping love these kids so much!

And finally, I had to share a bit of random that I saw at the grocery store: I had thought it was a carving at first, but now I'm of the mind that some crazy mold was used on the pumpkin while it was still growing. It was very cool...but this bugger was $60. Thanks, but no thanks!

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I was startled.
Thank you Katie and Erin for the weekend link-ups! Any unique Halloween decorations where you live? Tell me about it in the comments. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

TOL #5 50,000 Words, But Who's Counting?

Thank you to Amanda for hosting her weekly Thursdays Are For Thinking Out Loud linkup! Week five -- I can't believe I've been writing this column for over a month! -- of linking to her blog will all over the place: I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking. 

Somebody better feed my monkey mind a banana, already! Here’s what’s been on my mind:

Coffee. I recently gave up coffee (sacrilege, right??). Until the last several years, I never drank coffee regularly. I have always liked the flavor of coffee but never really had the habit. In the last three years, I’ve relied on caffeine to get through the day because I’m wiped out so much of the time. I’m not really sure what to attribute the exhaustion to: iron absorption and/or thyroid issues, peri-menopause, not enough Z’s, etc. Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess. 

When we were in Kauai over the summer, I was snobby about the coffee (also sacrilege..who doesn't like Kona coffee??) at the timeshare we were staying at, so I didn’t drink any the week we were there. I kept getting headaches that ibuprofen couldn't touch, until I realized it was caffeine withdrawal. When we came home, I started back up with my coffee habit. I don’t really know why it took me so long to see it, but there is a direct correlation between my caffeine consumption and my anxiety level; the more caffeine I have, the more anxious I am. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Aside from an occasional soda, I have stopped drinking caffeine entirely. I feel so much better!

Prisma. This app is AMAZING. I feel like I’ve shared this before, but I’ll go into a little more depth here: I decided to make edits of the photos I took during our trip to Kauai, and mount them on note cards to sell. Although I’m hardly a professional photographer (I don’t even own a real camera), I like to think that I have an eye for composition. Plus, phones take such incredible pictures nowadays. I’m really excited about my new business venture! Here’s a sample edit from a photograph I took at the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge:

I love this edit! It gives me the feels.
I have a dozen different photographs (and magnets) with a variety of edits for each. I am going to sell them at a few craft boutiques next month to raise money for an upcoming adventure. [...which is a segue into next item...]

Japan. This will be it's own blog post, but yes. I am going to Japan in 2018! The working plan is to run an event there, but I'll have to see how realistic that is. Mostly, it's to celebrate a milestone birthday and to see MONKEYS (with my best friend, obviously).

Photo credit:
NaNoWriMo. I have to be insane, but I'm considering doing this again. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym (although it's not really an acronym since there is the second...and even a third...letter included), it stands for National Novel Writer's Month.

50,000 words in 30 days. ::wipes brow::
My submissions from 2012 & 2013
After participating in 2012 and 2013, it's taken me three years to even consider wanting to do it again. With a goal of 50,000 words in thirty days, it is one of the gnarliest things I have done as a writer. However, there are some phenomenal resources that come with participating, and it was a great way to gain novel writing experience. The jury is still out as to whether I have the stamina for this endeavor, but the badges on my blog from three and four years ago are looking sad and outdated.

Veteran's Day Half Marathon. This event is fast approaching and although I'm woefully undertrained -- the wicked switchback at mile 11 can SUCK IT -- I am really looking forward to it. One of my longest and dearest friends (who I ran Bay to Breakers with) is running the half marathon with me. I'm so excited to see her! Running the race together is just half the fun; we're going to see Temple of the Dog at the Forum the following day. Yesssssssss!  

And that's a wrap. 

Edited to add: I wrote this on Wednesday and thought I had set it to publish yesterday. Whoops! 

Any big trips planned for you in the next year (vacation, business, other)? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend Snapshots - Friday Night Lights And Staying Classy

Hey, howdy hey! Thank you to Healthy Diva Life and  Her Heartland Soul  for hosting their weekend linkups, as always. I can't believe that another weekend has come and gone. This should sum things up nicely:

I had planned to work on making note cards from our Kauai vacation photos to sell at craft boutiques in November and December, as well as laying contact paper in the kids' bathroom cabinets. I also had my 8 mike run on tap for Sunday. None of it happened. ::shrug::

Friday night was spent helping push equipment on the football field for my son's marching band halftime show. It was a good football game, a great show and a beautiful evening:

Watching my son perform is always fun, but it was especially raucous in the stands last Friday night. The fans were decked out in school colors, with about 50 students and football players sporting pink for October's Breast Cancer Awareness. The band played great, and the drum line worked the students up into an appropriate frenzy. 

Saturday was a quiet day spent doing weekend chores at home and puttering around the house. I got to spend the afternoon visiting with my bestest friend. No photos to show from her visit, but she does make a cameo in one of about 20 of these gems (from a certain phone-hacking boy):

Later was dishes, laundry, and cookie baking for a drum line party. The sugar cookies came out sort of biscuit-like, so I tried sprinkling cinnamon on them to create a snickerdoodle hybrid. I still wasn't satisfied, so I ended up dipping them in melted chocolate. It wasn't my best result...but teenage boys aren't too picky and the plate came back empty. 

Sunday morning I squeezed in a short run, and then met a friend for coffee and a meeting. It was an hour well spent. 

Always classy ✌🏼️

We picked up turkey burgers after Boydoll's jazz combo rehearsal and enjoyed dinner together. It was a nice way to close out a good weekend. 

What does a typical Sunday dinner at your house consist of? Takeout, large family dinner,'s all good! 

Leave a comment below and dish it 😋

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TOL #4 Alfred Hitchcock Called. He Wants His Birds Back

Thank you to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting Thinking Out Loud Thursday! Here's a sampling of my random ramblings:

1. That's So Raven. I was waiting at a stoplight on Tuesday after dropping my son off at school, and I heard an unnerving tapping sound coming from the roof of my car. I pulled back the panel to look out of my sunroof...and there was a crow walking around the roof of my car! WTH?? It's hardly like we live in a small rural town; this was a major intersection. I had a tiny freakout, and I still have no idea what the crow was doing up there.  

2. Pollywog love. Our favorite pet store specializes in reptiles and amphibians. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and this is where I bought Gizmo. I was there last Friday picking up dog food, and they had a giant display of tadpoles for sale. It reminded me of that hilarious scene in the animated movie Flushed Away, where The Toad (brilliantly voiced by Ian McKellan) grosses out his henchmen with jars of hundreds of his tadpole offspring. Still one of my favorite movies to this day...

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Evil frog The Toad
Seeing those jars of tadpoles made me nostalgic for the carefree days of summer when my kids were younger and we would hunt for pollywogs in the creeks. After we raised them into frogs, we would return them to the same creek we had found them in.

Well. These were no tiny tree frog pollywogs. 

The huge bullfrog-sized tadpoles were actually baby Pacman frogs. These suckers are BIG. The adult female frog in the pet shop was the size of an enormous flapjack. Although I'm typically not squeamish, the notion of feeding a juvenile rat to a frog is more than I can bear. 
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Albino horned frog aka Pac-Man Frog

3. Currently listening to. Walls by Kings of Leon, and Be Your Love by Bishop Briggs. #allthefeels

4. Foodie Finds. I'm obsessed with Halo Top protein ice cream. I heard about it first on Instagram, and finally came across some in limited flavors (lemon cake, birthday cake and chocolate) at a grocery store. I could easily eat a pint of Birthday Cake. I can't wait to try other flavors! 

I'm in love and I don't care
who knows it!
That's all I got this week. Feel free to share your favorite animated movie or leave a comment with a new favorite song you're obsessed with. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Marching Band, Gizmo and What Couldn't Be Photographed

I'm trying to be gracious about it being Monday again, but it's not easy. Thank you to Erin at Her Heartland Soul and to Katie at Healthy Diva Life for hosting linkup links!

If you've been following along, then you know that I spoke at a 12-Step meeting on Friday night. It wasn't my best effort, but it also wasn't my worst. I kept remembering little details afterwards that I usually share to add more context and give my talk some continuity. It felt pretty rusty, which I could attribute to the fact that I haven't been the main speaker at a meeting for about 4 years. Also, my 19-year old daughter (!!!) was in the audience. I was so honored that she came home from college for the night to hear my talk. I don't have any photos to share, obviously, because it's important to protect the privacy of people in a meeting. People kind of freak if you start taking photos of the room with your phone.
This was one of the busier weekends on record, partly because I spent 12 hours on Saturday at Boydoll's marching band competition in Simi Valley. And despite the long day and the heat, I say this with all sincerity: this is the good stuff. 

My boy is second from the front.
Warming up before their competition at Royal High School
Taking the field with their show, 'Behind The Walls'
It's the good stuff, partly because I know how quickly these last few years with our son at home will pass by -- but also because there are few things better than watching my kids do what they love. People who don't know my son will ask if he plays a sport, and I always reply that he's a musician; marching band and drumline are his sport. It is enormously demanding physically with long hours spent rehearsing. All of which paid off at their competition, big time!   

Winners! They won  first in their division,
plus award for best auxiliary and best drumline. 
I'm not really sure where I pulled off the stamina, but Mr. Doll and I went to the beach with the dogs late Sunday morning. I love beachcombing, and collecting sea glass is one of my favorite pastimes. I have had terrible luck finding any glass lately, but a friend tells me that it can be pretty seasonal. I think hunting after a storm is the way to go, maybe? 

Slim beachcombing pickings.
Any beach day with our dogs includes bathing them as well, especially for our younger dog. He will roll at least dozen times until he is completely coated in sand. I didn't get any bathtime photos since I had my hands full, but I do have a Boomerang (that isn't loading) of an incredulous Spooky. She just can't believe any of it.

'Get over yourselves.'
As if bathing two large dogs wasn't enough, I also cleaned Gizmo's cage. Although I don't know the sex, I think Gizmo might be a girl. Chameleons have been a fantasy pet of mine for about 10 years, and I find them absolutely fascinating to watch. I got Gizmo three months ago. She is a rudis chameleon and her breed is considered to be more of a decorative pet. Overhandling can stress them out, which leads to refusing food and hiding.

Gizmo, meet my readers!
Although I prefer the plant in the photo above for her screened terrarium, it wasn't thriving and the leaves had trouble supporting Gizmo's weight. I replaced it with the original ficus that came in her enclosure. Admittedly, it has a better variety of branch sizes to keep her adorable mitten-shaped feet healthy.

Camoflage is the name of the 
chameleon game. Can you spot Gizmo? 

Do you have critters? If not, what would be your fantasy pet? 

Friday, October 7, 2016

#AwareWithPink Friday Five

In solidarity of Breast Cancer Awareness month, here are five ways that I stay #AwareWithPink:

1. Educate myself: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women and it accounts for 29% of newly diagnosed cancers. 

2. Celebrate life: It is easy to get bogged down in the rat race. I make a conscious effort to tell my nearest and dearest how much I love them. I also spent time geeking out over stuff that brings me joy (writing, playing with my dogs, hanging out with my teenagers, and enjoying the company of my awesome husband).

These two keep me young. 

3. Self care: I exercise 5-6 times a week, schedule regular mammograms, focus on the 80/20 rule of eating healthfully most of the time but still enjoying treats, and make efforts to minimize my stress. 

hands in for breast cancer

4. Be inspired: Three women who regularly attend my spinning class have been diagnosed with breast cancer over the ten years I have taught at the Y. Despite fatigue and hair loss, these women continued to come to spin class weekly. That beats any excuse I have about being too tired to work out!

5. Share the messageAs a fitness professional, I am an influencer in healthy lifestyle choices. It's an honor to advocate for #breastcancerawareness. This post was sponsored by Aftershokz in an effort to spread awareness about their new Pink Trekz headphones, in partnership with Bright Pink to spread awareness about breast cancer. All opinions and words are my own. I appreciate all of the brands that support the Sweat Pink community.

#AfterShokz is an incredible company with an equally amazing product: wireless headphones that conduct sound through audio technology without obsucring the ear canal. They are donating 25% of all Trekz Titanium Pink proceeds to Bright Pink, which is an organization that focuses on saving women's lives from breast and ovarian cancer. 

Trekz Titanium Pink

Thursday, October 6, 2016

TOL #3 Autocorrect Poetry

Thank you to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting her weekly link up. It's been a fun way to discover new blogs and hear what's on the mind of my peers. Thinking Out Loud is a weekly celebration of quirks and randomness. Here's some Thursday random straight my fingers: 

1. Crockpots. Do you use a crockpot? The lid broke to our old one, so I have been using my Dutch oven for the things I ordinarily would have made in the crock pot. This would be fine, except that I'm not a fan for using our oven during the summer when it's already a thousand degrees inside the house. After 4 months without a crock pot, I picked one up on my Costco run last weekend. 

Tuesday night I used our new crock pot and made chili. It was culinary heaven! I was going to share a photo of it here, but pictures of chili (and stews/soups in general) all photograph pretty much the same. Besides, I'm a huge fan of toppings when it comes to chili, so all you can really see is avocado and cilantro. 

2. Auto-correct game. A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday:

Have you tried this?? It sounded like a fun little distraction, and my first attempt read like a little cliffhanger to an obscure story. Here is mine:
I'm not a fan but my daughter and daughter have a lot more than a few days of being able
...being able to what?! 

It reads like an essay prompt, and I wanted to expand it on to discover what happened. Apparently, friends who owned Samsung phones noticed that somehow the software caught on to the game because their 20 auto-correct words were coming out as fully-formed positive affirmations. 

I tried it a second time and the mood of the poem was a bit snarkier:
I'm glad I didn't want you back to my house so you could get me to a new one you
...rapscallion? (Just spitballing. I doubt I've ever called anyone 'rapscallion' in my life.) 

3. Public Speaking. This doesn't happen very often, but occasionally I'm asked to speak about my recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism. Tomorrow night will be such an occasion. I'll be talking in a general way about what my life of addiction was like, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, and what my life in recovery is like today. 

It's an honor and a privilege to share my story, but I'll be honest: I'm nervous to speak so frankly in front of a room full of 200 people. Although I have been that I seem poised and relaxed when speaking from a podium, I liken it to a swimming duck; it may be floating quietly...but underneath the surface of the water, it's legs are paddling furiously. Wish me luck! 

Comment below with your auto-correct poetry, or any wisdom or helpful tips regarding public speaking.