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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who I am, what I stand for, and why I am willing to wait.

Who I am is based on all of the amazing things I have chosen to do with my life.

I have taken on so many mountains and conquered so many battles that sometimes I forget what it took to get me here. It took patience and perseverance, love and attention, drive and motivation, and most importantly it took me. I am the key in all of it. I use my positive attitude and my big heart to get myself to the end line and that is what sets me apart.
If I give up on who I am at any point-then I am not going to get what I need from life. If I lose sight of where I have been and don’t stay true to me then the future I have created for myself will dissolve. This is something I have already experienced with the time I spent with my ex-husband. I don’t blame him for all of the bad things in that relationship-I think we both went in it expecting different results I was just the one who decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend to be someone I am not.
One of the main light-bulbs that went on (when my sub-conscious was preparing me for the changes that were going to take place) was when I realized my future was nothing like I had planned. Now, when you are married, your future changes. It has someone else in it and so their dreams come in to play too. It can almost be fun trying to fit together the futures of two people when starting a marriage. The problem was we didn’t do that. Our future became something dark and shadowed, something sad and pitiful, something neither of us wanted. That was when the bright, positive flame that formerly was me lit up inside and decided she wasn’t ready to be put out yet.
Today I had a miniature version of this happen again. When it comes to relationships, I don’t think I or anyone else has to worry that I will give up who I am for someone else. I understand the meaning of compromise and I am more than willing to put it to use-for the right person, but you better believe I will not sacrifice myself for someone who is not worth it (more on this later).
I think my biggest weakness now is not love (everyone’s weakness is love-if you don’t think you are weak to love you are completely naive or in denial or both). My weakness is my passion-interpreting. I am not a workaholic, I will not sacrifice myself for my career... or will I? Let’s go back to the beginning shall we… what it has taken for me to get where I am: Patience, perseverance, love, attention, drive, motivation, positivity, and a big heart. This week I gave up a few of those things because I was feeling pressured. Of COURSE I want the results from my NIC test, I have already told you how incredibly important this test is to me and my future.  But I let the need for the pay raise, the need for validation, and the need to please others out weigh the things that are most important to me. Deep down in my soul I know I am a great interpreter. I am a pioneer in my field, one day I will inspire others to interpret and to find what is most important to them and work as hard as they can for it but never give up on who they are. That is the key; I can never give up on who I am.
So to close this part of this entry:
I would like to thank you for all of your positive vibes and prayers and whatever you are putting into this. Having a little piece of all of you working toward this common goal is remarkable and, to be honest, it has humbled me to know just how many people my heart has touched and how many hearts touch mine daily. Thank you all for that. However, I am willing to wait-I hope you are too. I was told at the beginning of all of this that the NIC results CAN TAKE up to 180 days. 21 weeks. I am 1/3 of the way there, and I promise that as soon as I know, you will all be informed but until that day, our positive vibes shan't cease and we shall patiently wait, heart to heart across the globe. Thank you all for your love and support on this one. I can’t express my gratitude quite enough.
The second portion of this entry is to clear up something else:
From before: “I understand the meaning of compromise and I am more than willing to put it to use-for the right person, but you better believe I will not sacrifice myself for someone who is not worth it (more on this later).”
The time is now:
I am single. I have dated a couple of guys since being single. I started considering myself single around mid-June of 2010. Before that my heart wasn’t willing to love again, and I knew I needed the time to heal from my marriage and to solidify who I really am before bringing someone new into the mix. All of the “relationships” I have had since then have been short lived for one reason only-I will not settle for less than I deserve and if I witness a red flag or 2 in the first week it is not worth considering. (This is my opinion, you can choose to disagree-that is your right)
The first person I dated was for a day-ish? He and I have been friends for a long time, he thought there might be something there, and I thought there might be something there. I quickly realized there wasn’t and to spare further heartbreak ended it within 24hours. (Sometimes it takes reality to set in before I can make the decision) I hurt his feelings, he still cares for me-and I still love him-he is one of my best friends no matter how unbearably annoying he can be, we are friends! He was a GREAT person to trust and I am glad I did. I still trust him with my life.
The second person I dated was for a bit longer than that. We met through a mutual friend and hit it off like two peas in a pod. We talked for hours quite easily and it was swell. We dated for over a week and then a few things happened and I realized it wasn’t going to work. A lot of the qualities I felt he was missing were also qualities that were missing with guy number one. Unfortunately, they both fit the “GREAT FRIEND-no way in hell relationship” category. This guy has since moved. We are still friends-despite people thinking we shouldn’t be. There are things that happened that suck, and there are things that happened that rock! I care very dearly for this person and I wish them the best in their future, but it doesn’t include me in any way other than friendship.
Guy number three had me twitter pated, as many of you know. He was apparently everything I wanted and more. Or everything I thought I wanted. Luckily I can spot an alcoholic from a mile away, and when someone says rude things when they are drunk my forgiveness is short lived. Even though he was remarkable, he was done. One week. He was a bad kisser too. We are not friends. He chose to not be my friend afterwards. I think that is probably a good choice.
I am going to have boyfriends. I am going to date. The next guy I meet may but probably won’t be the next guy I marry. This is the way it works people. I have a feeling that our generation is too keen on not being single. We don’t want to be alone therefore we cling to any semblance of a relationship, any glimmer of hope that exists between us and another human being and are willing to ignore the rest. I am not willing to ignore the rest. I made a list (I know some of you won’t agree with this concept) of all of the things I need in my mate. Nothing on the list is physical, it is all mental emotional and spiritual qualities that I need from my partner. When I meet a guy they go up against the list. In order to even be considered to progress in a relationship they MUST pass with at least an 85% (B). Guy one and two have a 62% (GREAT friendship material), guy three has a 58%... I promise I will not sacrifice who I am for someone who is not healthy: spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically-not to mention financially…
Don’t hold it against me if I get all excited about a guy and then the next week he is curbside. That is the way this works. I know it is hard to remember when you were where I am. Or maybe you didn’t ever do it this way. This is the way I have to do it.

NOW… That is all I have for today J if you read this entire thing, I am incredibly impressed! I know it was very long.
Thank you for loving me for who I am. I love you for who you are as well. I will never lie to you, I will never be someone I am not, and I hope you treat me with the same respect. Thank you all.
Much love and gratitude,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The NIC and what it means to me...

I decided to post this because I know I will never have this exact feeling again and it is crucial that I document what it feels like because one day in the future I might not remember, it is important to never forget.

The NIC test is the basic holy grail of the last 4 years of my life. It is everything I have worked for and toward and will open up paths to me that I don’t even know exist yet. I might be seemingly over-dramatizing this but if you consider what being an interpreter means to me, then maybe you can get the idea. Nearly every step I have taken and every decision I have made since choosing to be a sign language interpreter has led me to this very moment. Granted, I am human and have made mistakes, that is why that sentence began with NEARLY instead of EVERY. I worried about the little things in life for much of my college experience because I forgot the main outcome, the end result. Now, with it sitting in front of my face almost mockingly I have a hard time ignoring it. It is impossible.

The National Interpreter Certification Test was created by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and National Association for the Deaf. It is supposed to be a gauge of an interpreter’s ability not only in the skill of interpreting but also in their knowledge and practicality when presented with ethical dilemmas. The first portion of the test was the written examination which I passed in January. It was a hard test, yes but it was based merely on book knowledge meaning even a person with no interest in becoming an interpreter, if they studied hard enough, could pass it. Now it is almost exactly 9 months later (I passed 1/28/2010) and I am awaiting the results of the second portion of the test.

The second portion is known as the Performance Exam which is broken down into two parts. Performance-one’s ability to actually interpret (video scenarios) using some back ground information and a bit of knowledge of clientele. Raters take into account one’s ability to match the affect of both the consumers and to balance the weight of the situation as if it were a standard assignment. There are 5 scenarios in which this occurs. The second part is the ethical/interview portion in which the interpreter chooses a deaf person from a group and that person signs 5 ethical situations. The interpreter is expected to use resources to respond to these scenarios (as outlined by the RID/NAD matrix) and respond (using sign language but not necessarily ASL) within the given 5 minute period of time. This portion of the test-cannot be taken and passed by just anyone.

The test video is then sent to RID where they make 3 copies and send them to 3 different raters: one Deaf, one interpreter, and one hearing (with no sign language skills). These raters then take (up to 180 days) their time to rate the interpreter in several categories (which I can’t recall at the moment entirely) including affect, production, reception and ethical things. They send their results back to RID who compiles the results and sends them to the test taker via email.

The levels of certification are: Not certified (not having passed the test), NIC-Certified (a great feat), NIC-Advanced (even greater), and NIC-Master (the greatest of all). There are some interpreters (typically ones who struggle with jealousy and competitive issues) who believe that this testing is not entirely fair and that some people are given the wrong certification. I can’t entirely disagree, I think that because everyone is being rated by different raters there is some form of variation, but this is the closest we have come to a standardized certification test and I am grateful for that much.

I took my test on July 31, 2010 at 1230pm CST. The night before my test I had the funniest nightmare known to man:

In my dream I woke up and got ready to go (in all black of course) and went to take the test. I got there and went in to the bathroom before the test and saw that I had mistakenly put on a tie dye t shirt and plaid pants… I asked the test giver if I could go home and change but she said no. She sent me to the thrift store (in the basement-which doesn’t exist). I went down and it was a rock-t-shirt thrift store and I purchased an Iron Maiden T shirt which I flipped inside out for my test. It was 5 dollars. I was told I would get my results on the 5th.

That was my night mare LOL

I was doing fine, waiting. I am a very patient person by nature and can typically endure waiting for long periods of time. But then my boss came to me and informed me that someone else had gotten their results already and they took the test after me… I was shocked and anxious. Then a week later, after I called to see where my results were, two of my co-workers who took the test WEEKS after me got their results as well. (One passed, one didn’t) I am no incapable of waiting any longer. I contacted RID several times to no avail so finally I emailed them. I was told through email that my final rater still hadn’t sent in my results but was planning to do my rating this weekend so I should have my results Monday, if I don’t have them by Monday evening to contact them again and they will expedite the process more.

My stomach is turning constantly. I barely slept a wink last week which put me in an odd mood all together. I am now trying to find new and interesting ways to distract myself.

I have several people-hearing and deaf alike-telling me they are sure I passed. Interpreters are a bit less sure they try to stay positive but they understand the frustration. I know I have the skills, but since taking the test I have improved. And since taking the test I have learned a new way to handle the important ethical part of the test.

I don’t know what the results will be. I would love to be more confident and be sure that I passed but I don’t think anyone is ever sure. I can only say that I want this more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life. For me it is a matter of knowing who I am and where I am as an interpreter. I have worked so hard until now, and I want to continue forging new paths for myself. I love what I do with every fiber of my being. I don’t know anyone who is as passionate about anything as I am about interpreting, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just know that for some it is a job or even a career… for me it is everything.

When I lift my hands my eyes light up with a burning hunger and joy. With every assignment, long or short, good or bad, intense or mediocre I love every minute. Every time I lay my head down at night I am entirely satisfied with who I am and what I do… but there is that longing for my certification. The Legal Documentation that proves I am what I am. This is the last interpreter-related decision that is being made for me. I get to choose what specialty I want and if and when I go back to school. I get to choose where I live and for how long. I get to choose from here. But first I need my NIC. That validation. I can’t express to you how anxious and excited I am for tomorrow. Please think positive thoughts for me.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day Weekend and Primal Challenge 2010

Well this post isn't going to be long because like in this blog I am behind in pretty much everything this week but I don't want to get behind here because I know there are some people who only follow me through Blogspot.

This weekend was fantastic. I visited my family in Rapid City and we hiked through the hills both Saturday and Sunday, went to Sturgis, Deadwood, and Mount Rushmore. It was really quite the trip. How about a photo or two?

My brother and I at Sylvan Lake

Me atop a rock-also at Sylvan Lake

A beautiful view at Bismarck Lake
My family with said view

That's good for now. The rest can be seen on my facebook.

Also for my birthday my family contributed to help me purchase my new barefoot-simulating shoes known as Vibram Five Fingers. These shoes are boosted quite often on Mark's Daily Apple (Primal Website) and are very amazing. I have enjoyed nearly every minute of wearing mine. The space between my toes is still trying to get used to them, but with time I am certain it will be perfectly fine... I wear them pretty much from the moment I arrive home from work to the moment I go to bed.

I really do love them quite a lot.

Other than that Labor Day weekend was delightful. We had some delicious food, typically picnic style. We turned my favorite pasta salad into a pasta-less salad by making it with spaghetti squash and vegetables. Here is a photo:

It was incredible! (with Ham and Deviled eggs)

So that about wraps up the Labor Day portion of this entry.

The next portion of this entry is about something I hold near and dear to my heart. Primal Challenge 2010

A 30-day challenge which will help people (who are interested in getting healthier) reach their goals, whatever they may be. It doesn't matter if you start on day one (Sept 7th) or mid-way... you can still be entered to win one of many prizes totaling $10,000.00 in value, not to mention feeling healthier and getting back to your primal roots. :)

As part of this challenge I am doing interpretations of the entries that Mark Sisson makes via video and also plan to do a weekly or twice-weekly update on how the challenge is working for me and what portions of the challenge have been posted so far in more detail. My hopes are to be able to provide these videos in ASL and then voice interpret them so I don't have to type everything and you don't have to read it. :)

I do have some personal goals regarding the challenge. These goals are focused on the 10 laws of primal living and I hope to be able to do them successfully throughout. After being so behind from the weekend I feel like I am starting a few days behind, but Mark makes it pointedly clear it doesn't matter WHEN you start, it only matters THAT you start.

Some of my goals:

1. Eat 90% primal (its nearly impossible for me to get 100 because I am poor and have to cut corners)
2. Say no to eating out because (Refer to number 1)
3. Lights/Technology OFF at 930pm (when not working) and candles on from 930-1030(bedtime) wake up and get up at 630 am to have a bright day.
4. Eat more often (I struggle because I am single and get bored with food easily)
5. Go barefoot as much as possible (or VFFs) (I am pretty good at this)
6. Keep CrossFitting
7. Walk more often
8. Cook and eat at least one recipe from PB Cookbook every week (I bought it i should use it...)
9. Play
10. Have a kickin' Grokfest... AND win a cow! (More on this later)

I do have some goals as far as weight loss and fat loss but they are pretty much the same as my major goals... I am glad to be hovering at the 199-201 mark right now *basks in glory* I will be happy when I get to 175 as well but... I know it takes time and I have time.

The first thing I did for my Primal Challenge is interpreted Mark's intro video... I hope you are able to watch it and enjoy...

Click here to watch my video!

For now my primal and non-primal friends... That is all. I hope you are having a marvelous week. I hope to post again this weekend so I feel more caught up!

Thanks for supporting what I do and who I am. I love you all for it!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

PrimalTerp VLOG First Entry

Hello Everyone!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!!!

Here is the deal. I have decided to add another thing to my docket (I hope you don't mind). My passion for interpreting is more than obvious, and my love and passion for health and Primal living is also quite apparent. So what I have decided to do is combine the two loves. This video will explain: (If you are not an ASL user there is an English translation below the video)

PrimalTerp Intro Video  (I can't figure out how to imbed a video yet, I will get there sorry.)


My name is Amanda Leisten and this is my vlog called “Primalterp”.

You may be wondering what PrimalTerp even means. Well Primal is a newer way of living focused on health I will explain more later. Terp is short for interpreter, which is what I am!

The reason I decided to make this Vlog is because with my recent extreme changes in health my friends, Deaf and hearing alike, would approach me asking about my weight loss and very apparent healthier happier disposition. I would tell them about Primal Blueprint. Primal Blueprint (which I will explain more in depth later) is really focused on health, and becoming the best you can become. When I told them this I noticed my Deaf friends had never had any exposure to this concept. Many hearing people at least have had some exposure through primal discussions on National Public Radio (NPR) and such. Whereas Deaf people have no exposure to the radio and I personally don’t know ANY deaf people who are primal.

These events led me to the decision to help expose and educate deaf people using this vlog and the book “The Primal Blueprint”. I plan to use this tool to explain the primal lifestylace more in-depth.

Now before I start the vlog I think it is a good idea to go ahead and introduce myself. I already told you my name is Amanda. I am from the state of South Dakota (SD) but I wasn’t born here. I was actually born in Denver, Colorado and that is where I grew up. When I was 15 my parents separated and my mom wanted to move back to Rapid City (Western SD) which is where she grew up. So we moved, and I really hated it. I missed my friends and family back in CO, it is my home. So I decided to graduate high school early. In order to do that I had to take a foreign language class at night, and so I took ASL, when I was 15. I ended up taking 4 ASL classes before graduating HS. Then I moved to college (in Eastern SD) and for 2 years focused on music education. I realized quickly that wasn’t my specialty, it was a great hobby but my passion in fact was interpreting.

With interpreting I am so fascinated by the signing, linguistics, culture and a variety of other things that really get my fire going. There was a new interpreter training program that recently had opened in Sioux Falls (Eastern SD) which is where I am. I completed a 4 year program in 2010 and got my degree and now I work as a full time interpreter. I absolutely LOVE interpreting. It is my passion and fascination, you might even call it an obsession. I am currently working as an interpreter but I am a strong advocate for more opportunities for Deaf people across America. For example Netflix doesn’t have captioning on their videos and I am one of the people working to change that, and aid in that process. Also many times there are cool videos on Youtube or other places without captioning and I would love to start interpreting those as well.

Another passion of mine is health, especially since I learned about the Primal Blueprint from a good friend of mine who is also an interpreter. She has gone from a size 14-6 through PB, and looks great. She taught me about PB in February (just recently). In February I was 261 lbs… no actually I was 240lbs and today I am 199 which means I have lost 41 lbs since Feb but I have lost 62 lbs overall since last Aug. So either way, she taught me about primal blueprint and I became obsessed and so now I think it is a great time to share it with all of you guys.

About PB itself, it is a book written by a guy named Mark Sisson and he is just a regular guy who has decided, through studying and learning, that it might be better to mirror the way people used to live 10,000 years ago. Our ancestors were really quite a bit healthier back then and Mark thought it would be a good idea to make this possible in modern day. So really PB is kind of about following the ways of the cavemen. For example: not eating processed foods, eating when hungry, not eating when not hungry, sleep if you are tired, play and have fun. There are plenty of rules which I will get into later.

Here is the book… This is Mark. And my plan for this vlog is to be able to summarize all of the chapters in this book as well as incorporate my experiences as well as my other friend’s experiences. There are some friends I have from Mark’s website:, on the forum, which I have had the pleasure of chatting with. One friend I have was diagnosed with diabetes and then became primal and the Drs told him he no longer had diabetes the symptoms aren’t there. There are some people whose families are riddled with cancer and they are healthy because of primal blueprint. It has helped people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and plenty of other health conditions. Also obviously weight loss is a huge contributor.

I really just want to be able to share as much as possible with you guys and if you have any questions comments or concerns please let me know. Feel free to check out my blog as well: Another great link is Mark’s site: That might be enough for now… and check out my youtube, username: Primalterp go ahead and get a hold of me there as well. Once again feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments let me know.

Good Luck! I look forward to seeing you again. I hope you enjoyed watching. I hope with this vlog you are able to become healthier and happier from here on with these tools. Its your life and you have the control, You can change yourself. WONDERFUL! Thank you again!

Thank you for watching!!! There are going to be MANY more installments of this same concept. I hope to be able to share it with as many ASL users as possible to expose them to this wonderful concept that has changed my entire life. Another thing I hope to do is be able to interpret informational and educational videos, primal and otherwise.--One step at a time--

Thanks again for all of your support. I am considering doing a spoken English video to go along with each ASL video, any thoughts? If you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them with me!
Take care and be safe!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Week Three by the Skin of my Teeth

This week was certainly a test of my positivity and ability to accept that not every week will be a great week. I have been really struggling financially this month because of having to replace all four tires, two breaks and two routers on my car in one fell swoop. I am grateful that my financial management to this point helped enough that it didn’t break me and I was still able to pay all of my bills on time. Which is always the goal right? The only issue is that I have had zero flexibility and that is hard for me considering it is my birthday month and I wanted to be able to treat myself… maybe it was a sign. These financial woes definitely showed throughout the week because it led to a bit of a spat with my mom on two occasions and a bit of a spat with myself almost daily. I know that starting this weekend things will start falling back to where they need to be but it is never easy to handle bumps and bruises and this month has proven to be one of those move mountains types of months. To add fuel to the fire I also got a call from another collector who I hadn’t heard from in ages and had no idea where the account was located. At this point the balance on the account is nearly three times the size of the original purchase price. I know that with a positive attitude and gazelle intensity I can conquer this too.

As far as health and fitness are concerned it was another test to my capability to accept things not going my way. Crossfit is still fantastic, I love it thoroughly and this week was a balanced week-a yin yang situation. Monday was tough. I took my friend because she was having a rough day and when I went I felt like things weren’t coming as naturally as they typically do and I got frustrated. I felt that my form was all wrong and the coach who was available had no time for me (which is reasonable considering there are 20 other people there). I left feeling sore in all the wrong ways and upset. I was definitely a bit sensitive just because it was the first day I didn’t leave on cloud nine so I emailed my box owner and he calmed the frustration right out of me. I was back at it on Wednesday with as much or more rigor. I was stoked to be back at the gym and it was an interesting day. The challenge was to do 2 rounds of 12(beg), 18(int) or 24(adv) reps of Dead lifts, wall balls, box jumps, ring push-ups, wall balls, box jumps, and kb swings. I did the beginner level at 12 reps and set a goal for myself to finish before ANYONE else (beginners or otherwise). I finished at 13:45 well before anyone else including the other beginners. I felt like a winner. I AM A WINNER!

Eating primally this week was pretty standard. I really just didn't eat much at all. I am going to have to start keeping track of what I eat for the challenge so I really should get on that. Primal living is being made just a tinge easier by my new friend on the Marks Daily Apple Forum. He goes by TAWFUNGUY and is officially my "Primal Boyfriend" as suggested by his wife. LOL. He is an inspiration to so many people in just 24 days of being primal, he was even commended by Mark Sisson himself! At this point he is counting down his time to a loincloth which he will wear hopefully in a year or less... I told him I might join him in a coconut bikini, nothing lights the fire quite like a visual goal! The two of us have become a mutual support system and the tribe is growing and definitely becoming fierce. I really am grateful that someone has been able to be a bit of a supporter to me. His positive vibes and mine coincide very well and hopefully my primal positivity will turn into primal inspiration.

On that note I have decided that it is time for me to start making an impact. I was approached by three different Deaf people (and even a few hearing people) in the last two weeks regarding my recent weight loss and health changes. This led me to decide that maybe a useful tool for not only the expansion of health knowledge for Deafies across America but also for my own personal motivation, might be to make a vlog (Video-Blog) pertaining to Primal Blueprint and all the health benefits therein. I would say you can probably expect the first installment of this vlog to come around in the next few days, and then I plan to make several starting there.

On the positive lifestyle note-I think it might be useful for me to buy the book “The Secret” and start again on that path. I do have the daily calendar for the book and have considered making a journal from it on my own time. I need to find the time to do what is right for me.

My goals starting now:

1. To get back into a healthy routine with bedtime and wake time

2. To continue to follow the PB way of eating and living including fun and play

3. To spread the word of primal health to Deaf people locally and possibly beyond

4. To start living more positively and relaxed again. Not every day needs to be filled with things to do-Stop doing start being.

5. Keep working toward my health and fitness goals of size 10 and 175 lbs

This week has been kind of trying emotionally as well. I think a huge part of that is this is the first birthday I won’t be able to spend doing what I want to do without a question. I work, which I love, but that means that I can’t go out on a limb and just act goofy on my birthday. It also means the crown is out, for the first time in 9 years. I will find a time and place to wear it.

I do want to touch on that a bit, just because there has been something kind of bothering me about it. This week I have been posting videos and comments related to my birthday on Facebook. It isn’t really surprising to most people who know me because I tend to celebrate long and hard for my birthday. My aunt did make a comment saying that I am the only person she knows who advertises for my birthday, so I thought I would address this with a bit of an explanation:

My birthday falls on August 31 which is a great day I must say. The interesting thing about it is it is a cut off birthday so I was always the youngest in school. The other interesting thing about my birthDATE in particular is the fact that it tends to fall in the first or second week of school. To most people this is not a big deal, but as a kid growing up it is a HUGE deal. For most kid’s birthdays (At least during the 90s) we would get to bring treats to school and our friends would bring presents and in middle school lockers got decorated and balloons were brought, the whole nine yards. Well, if your birthday falls in the first two weeks, the teacher doesn’t really remember and friends NEVER remember and so my locker went undecorated and my treats went unappreciated. Now, the year I started high school at Littleton my birthday was the third day of school. I decided that I would wear a crown. I was new in the district so no one there knew me anyway, and they would never guess it was my birthday so I would give them a hint. It worked. I got a couple more happy birthdays than normal and I was satisfied.

College came, first day of college was my 17th birthday, I wore the crown along with a shirt that read “today is my birthday! Say happy birthday to me!” and it worked! Not only that but that day happened to be the day I met my current best friend Tove. She and I had a mutual friend and to this day she will tell you “How can I forget?! You were wearing braided pigtails and a crown and a tshirt that said it was your birthday!” –If nothing else, it earned me a great friend!

I choose not to live in a world where people don’t tell me happy birthday. If that means I have to act like a selfish little girl and advertise for my birthday for a week in advance and wear a crown, then so be it. Nowadays with Facebook there is no need to tell anyone it is your birthday, Facebook will do that for you. I understand that it seems childish and honestly for 358 days of the year I am more than willing to act my age or older, but the week of my birthday is the week I get to throw that caution to the wind and be the center of attention. I hope you don’t mind.

For now that is all. I hope to be able to bring you more inspiring posts in the near future. My vlogs will be up and running shortly and I will be sure to keep this blog apprised.

Thanks for reading. Have an excellent week!

Share a smile today! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Health and Happiness-Week Two

Well, CrossFit kicked my butt again. On Monday we did these squat things that made me sore for two days, and then of course Wednesday we worked on something else to make me sore, Friday we did Fight Gone Bad again (we are trying to raise money and awareness for the livestrong foundation and a couple others... the 5th annual CF Fight Gone Bad.)
Wednesday was cool because a guy at my box helped me work on my Snatch form... Pretty soon the world will know me as Manda-Master of the Snatch... until then at least I have good form. :) The box owner here in SF is so incredibly supportive and seems actually impressed with my form. Seems to think that my days as a CrossFitter will be long and strong (which is exactly what I am shooting for).
As far as food and primal living go... I have been having a rough summer. In my opinion summer time is much harder than the holidays. At least during the holidays there are yummy things like turkey and ham everywhere you turn. During the summer it is all the ice cream and chips and salsa that get me! So I made a deal with myself that I will stop being such a cheater, I think it is really taking its toll on me. I have decided to do 90-100% primal until Sept 18th when my local CrossFit is having a Paleo contest for 7 weeks.
The contest includes:
Pay in 30 bucks to live 7 weeks paleo. Must submit weekly food journals on Google Docs. must take 3 (side, front, back) before pics within 3 days of the starting day, and 3 after pics within 3 days of the ending day. There will be weekly (Saturday) meetings about Paleo living which are free to people who are participating. WINNER GETS?: The pot! well half the pot, there is a male and female winner. The winners also receive one month UNLIMITED CrossFit membership (5 classes/week if you want).
Really I am in this for a few reasons:
1. get my act together again before the cold months of doom come around
2. I really want that free month membership-that would rock
3. Look like a million dollars that much sooner
4. Prove to myself that I can do it.
5. I wanna wear a size 10 by October 31st and I know I can... Or maybe by October 11 which is my ex and my 2 year anniversary-that'll show him ;)
The sooner I get where I wanna be the sooner I am there. I have accepted that I am a PBer for life. I have accepted also that I will be a CrossFitter for life and these things make me happy! I know that my "goals" are a bit less structured than most, but I will know it when I get there... and when I am there I will get my Grok tattoo and celebrate! :)
I am 3 lbs away from my first major goal. I would like to be under 200 lbs by my birthday next Tuesday. It will happen.
My next major goals are: size 12 pants and 175 lbs... I will let you know when I get there :)
Keep on grokin' on!

Baby Step One: Save 1000 Dollars for an Emergency Fund

So another aspect of healthy living that I mentioned I wanted to incorporate on this blog is financial health. As much as I am a hippie I am also a strong supporter of Dave Ramsey and what he has to offer. I wish that money were easy to control, then I wouldn't have to worry about my finances or where things affected my budget, but if money were easy to control we would all be millionaires.
Before I get started on explaining my personal financial situation along with going through the 16 CD'S of Financial Peace University (FPU) and what that means, I want to have a bit of a disclaimer. I think Dave Ramsey has the right formula. I even think he has his head and heart in the right place. I personally am not religious so the preachy parts of his lectures are a bit much for me... I am also not conservative in very many ways-So he and I disagree there. However, one thing we do agree on is that money is just a thing, it is the person who has the money who is in control of what happens and how it affects themselves and others. Also, DR is a HUGE supporter of donating money (He is specifically supportive of donating to one's church, my specifications are a bit less religious) I truly believe that in order to get money, you must give money.
NOW onwards. When I graduated from High School I had NO CREDIT (zero as in not negative not positive, just nothing) then I applied for student loans and because my mom earns more than most moms in the state of South Dakota, I lost out. I needed a Co-signer and my Aunt was the only person willing, and so we went from there. A year later I agreed to have my first credit card. The banker told me it would help me build positive credit (and it could have, had I used it properly). My mom had always told me to stay away from Credit Cards (mostly due to her own personal experiences). By the age of 50 my mom had filed for bankruptcy twice, this October will be the end of the 7 year period on her second one. I am changing my family tree.
During the time I was in college I had my credit card which I managed well until the day I wanted to go see my long distance boyfriend at the time. I bought the tickets, told my mom to stick it and flew to Arkansas. Months later he moved up to live with me and we instantly combined our finances. I thought I loved him and knew I would marry him (I wouldn't give up until I did) therefore it just made sense. When I was with him he learned the magic of student loan flexing. By this time I was in college at a MUCH more expensive school with MUCH larger loans... and stretched them a bit further for "living expenses" In the time that we were together my ex and I financed 5 different things for over 15000 dollars. ALL IN MY NAME (pre-marriage)... In the last year I have been working very hard to elevate some of that debt. There is still a lot existing and my student loan payments are staring me dead in the eyeballs... (starting in December I am looking at roughly 600 dollars a month for minimum student loan payments...)  I refuse to sacrifice any more of my life to this. I know that in order to live like no one else I must first live like no one else-But I am choosing not to eliminate the 100/mo for crossfit as well as the "expensive" foods for primal living-My health is not going to be one of the sacrifices I make. In total I have 103,500 in debt... I hope to god that I can get it paid off in 7 years. At some point I would like a new-er car. At some point I would like to travel and go back to school, without the loans.
Dave Ramsey's role: My friend Katie Peterson and her husband Eric pulled themselves out of TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars of debt in 2 years. They only have a mortgage now. Katie and I spent a significant amount of required time together this spring and that is when I learned about DR and what he did for them, and what he can do for me. Katie loaned me the 16 CD'S of Financial Peace University, the class that she and her husband teach. I am going over them again. This spring I read his remarkable book TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER which is a must have on my books to live by list.
Now we are at The First Baby Step:
Saving for 1000 emergency  fund (500 if you earn less than 26000 a year). I recently had to replace 4 tires on my car along with regular maintenance, breaks and routers... I am back at 0... Welcome to my climb. Starting next pay check I will be saving form my 1000 dollar emergency fund. November is quickly approaching and I have a large debt I NEED to pay off by then... I have other debts in the red looking me in the eye. But without an emergency fund, Murphy comes knocking.
I am selling a sleep number bed my ex and I financed if anyone is interested ;) ... that money will go toward this fund. I hope that soon I will be celebrating the first baby step and moving on to the scary-huge Debt Snowball!
wish me luck!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Manda's "Do Anything" List

Recent events have lead me to realize there are so many things I would love to do in my lifetime. I am sure this is a common notion, otherwise movies like "The Bucketlist" wouldn't exist. However, I just can't accept the thought of not being able to accomplish everything on my list. I figured I would actually make one, and post it, and I hope that one day I can mark everything off as "done". I truly believe life is too short to not enjoy...

Travel the world
Road trip the United States (and Canada)
*Swim* in a lake in the mountains with a waterfall (I can invision it... )
Wear barefoot-like or no shoes for the rest of my life
See the whale migration
See the turtle migration
See the salmon migration
Visit the panda sanctuary
Get my PhD
Go to the interpreting program at Juliard
Interpret for someone famous
Lead a girl scout troop
Be a mom
Start a/work at a CrossFit
inspire someone to be healthier
inspire someone to be an interpreter
inspire someone to be a mom
live in a pretty cottage/cabin
go somewhere fun specifically for a concert
get married on the cliffs of Mohr
grow 50%+ of my own food
live off the grid for a while
own a VW bug
Tattos: Pangel, Grok/Live like no one else, cladaugh, beloved, (Jamie)
See an opera at THE Opera House in Austrailia
Hang glide
sky dive
get out of debt
teach an ASL class for parents
have a motorcycle
motorcycle through another country
go to the burning man festival
become an AOW at CFSF
be NIC-Master level
have home births
train another dog
go to a super bowl
go to a world sport event
attend Primal Con
interpret a large event (like BIG)

FIT LIST: (my list of things I wanna do when I physically can)

Ice scate
run a marathon
martial arts
win a contest of a physical nature

There is probably more to be added, so stay tuned. Since my divorce I have learned how crucial it is that we don't lose sight of who we are and what our goals are. Sometimes I feel that becoming a professional and working so hard to get to the level that I am at has made me surpass all of those young adult adventures I could have had. And then I remember one thing: Age is a number... it's all a state of mind!
:) Hang Tough!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First week of CrossFit

One week of CrossFit is officially down the hatch and I must say that I loved every moment of it. Even when I was in shock by how much work I was putting in, or when I felt like I was going to throw up because I was pushing myself so hard... I was still completely happy.

First I figured I should take some pictures of my first day so I have something to compare to down the road, right? So these pics are from August 5th which was the day I did my Baseline (which I will tell you more about in a minute):

(please ignore the mess lol) I am shocked just looking at these photos how different I am from when I started living primal 6 months ago. It makes me extraordinarily excited to see what may come in 6 months of CF and PL... I can't imagine.

So I attend a box here in Sioux Falls called: (Surprisingly enough) CrossFit Sioux Falls. They are extraordinary and push and pull so hard but have built an extremely reputable community of CFers and even Paleos (The sibling of primal). I might venture to say that CrossFit is most worth the money, time and energy needed due to the remarkable community that is there. That is, of course, coming from me: a person who thrives on the energy of others.

If I were to go to a gym and just have to motivate myself while looking at everyone else doing what they do then walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes might be the most horrifying way to spend a half hour of my day. And if you were to try and sell to me 30-60 minutes 3 times per week surrounded by ripped and sculpted bodies of a variety of backgrounds... doing remarkable things I can hardly fathom and enjoying myself... I may offer you a one way ticket to my personal hell. However, the simple additive of compassion and camaraderie which is available at CFSF... is all it takes to make it a paradise. A hot, humid, muggy, smelly, loud, energetic, motivating utopia.

I have always wanted to be a person who enjoys working out to some extent, and I think the wanton desire for this comes from the utter lack of athleticism I have experienced my entire life. Never once have I felt like I fit in at gym class or sporting events. I have always been content in being the non-athletic Leisten. The one who took the music path instead. I was raised to believe that genetically it just isn't a part of who I am, but I always WANTED it so badly. I wanted to be like my cousin Nicole who loves to work out and enjoys the energy of sports. I wanted to be like my brother Brett and run for miles without a second thought. We all want what we can't have. But I have never been one to accept can't as an option. I much more well known for my determination to break boundaries.

More on my past is to come in this blog, for now, I will focus back on the first week at CrossFit.


To find a baseline we did 500 meters rows, 40 squats 30 push ups 30 sit ups and 20 pull-ups (If I remember correctly) Some of these ambitious goals were adjusted for my lack of experience for the time being. For example: I did jumping pull ups and used my knees for my push ups. However, I did complete the task in 10:56 minutes... and celebrated and smiled just knowing that I did something physical and completed it. This baseline will be used and tested several times in my life with CrossFit, the next time will be in 90 days. I seriously cannot wait to see what progress I have made by then.

DAY 1:

I was in a beginners/intermediate WOD class with several other CFers this day. The work out was incredibly intense... we ran and then had to do a series of box jumps, sit ups, kettle bell swings and something else I can't remember... It was hard. However, I did get through two full rounds. In the end  I was proud and patted myself on the back. I was stoked too because everyone said it was hard, so it made me feel like less of a wuss. Also the coach for the day said he was shocked to see me smiling, they'll get used to it I'm sure. I remember feeling like I was going to die, right at the get go. I felt super sick to my stomach but I feel like I may have pushed my first run a bit harder than I could handle which had a ripple effect on the rest of the day. Either way, I did it. And i felt amazing! :)

Day 2:

Another day in the Beg/Int class and people are super supportive and encouraging. Without that I wouldn't ever come back. We did work on muscle ups today and then did rounds of double-unders, aspen rings, and something where we had to push ourselves up using muscles I haven't ever seen before. Really today was inspiring knowing that one day I will have some serious upper body strength. My entire life I resigned myself to the understanding that upper body strength was not an option for me... thanks CF for telling me I am wrong. :)

DAY 3:

Fight Gone Badd... that crap is hard! 15 minutes of 1 minute reps of rowing, box-jumps, push-pulls, sumos and wall balls... and then a min of rest-- three rounds with a partner to count reps. It was exhausting, I pushed hard and surely grunted several times... but point is, I did it. I really enjoyed partner work because there is constantly someone encouraging with me. I am not sure what it is like with other partners but AL and I worked well together and I really enjoyed that. Also knowing that even in a regular class I can be pushed the same way is great. I absolutely love this place! :)

This week has been excellent. I seriously can't wait to see where this place takes me I am certain the results will be great. Since staring primal living I have had an interesting experience and had to, several times, defend my choices to people I love (more on this later). It is really quite relieving to find a group of people who are willing to listen and sometimes even completely agree with the beliefs I have about health and fitness. Also, the owner of CFSF (Chris Mello) has been so encouraging. Every time he introduces me to someone he tells them I am primal/paleo and then tells them I am crazy about CrossFit and bring a great energy to the box. Which makes me feel like a million bucks and keeps me coming back for more! :) 

For now, this is it. I will leave you with my 3 main goals for CrossFit:

1. Gain enough upper body strength to do pull ups without a second thought.
2. Be able to do any physical activity I set my mind to without hesitation.
3. Build a network and community of people who understand and respect me for my beliefs on nutrition and physical health.


Hope you enjoyed my first week at CrossFit as much as I did!


Thursday, August 12, 2010


I am starting this blog as a way to document the unique life I lead. I have several other blogs which tend to turn into journals, vent-fests etc but really what I love to read online are the blogs of successful people who took their lives into their own hands. So I decided that mimicry is the simplest form of flattery and therefore the creation of my new blog.

Let me give you some background info:

I am 22 years old, for another two and a half weeks at least. I grew up in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado in the average American family. My brother has always been athletic and extraordinarily fit, and I have always been into music. My dad was larger as is most of his family so when I started gaining weight as a child and the "it's just baby fat" excuse didn't work any longer, the "it's in your genes" excuse took its place. I have been overweight since I was at least 10 years old if not younger and it has always been a concern to my friends and family but never really to myself. When it comes to health and nutrition I never thought I had options and then when options were made available I just never wanted to do it. Typically weight loss for me would be 5 lbs and then regaining that and more, just to try to appease my mom who wanted nothing but the best for me. My story is like that of so many others in this world, and I feel bad for feeling cynical about it at all. I grew up in a great family, we had our issues and they got worse as I got older, but at least I had people who cared.

My breaking point happened after a 5 year relationship and 9 month marriage to a man who treated me with less respect than I deserved. I gained over 40 lbs in the 3 years we lived together and he convinced me he just loved to watch me eat and be happy, so I ate, and ate and ate. The day I finally left him I was devastated and my self-esteem was at an all time low. Until I finally realized I was the one who was choosing to make it that way. July 4th of 2009 a photo was taken of me at Elitch Gardens in Colorado. I am bursting at the seams in my clothes, my eyes look sad and I look like I can barely hold myself up. When I saw this photo I realized I was no longer me on the inside or the outside. This photograph changed my life for the better.

As far as health is concerned I am a strong supporter of the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. I think it is important to remember that we have only been consuming processed foods like grains and sugars for a bit over a thousand years... which is nothing in retrospect. I have been Primal for 6 months now and have lost almost 40 lbs (totaling 60 since the pic that changed my life) but have not been doing much for exercise. The Primal lifestyle also advocates for the gym CrossFit, and as of this week I am officially a member. In this blog I hope to document milestones with both Primal living and being a member of CrossFit.

Primal and CrossFit are huge components in my life which are very influential in the decisions I make on the day to day, however, there are other abnormalities in the way I handle my life which I would love to share. Many people my age have no idea about finances due to the fact that we haven't had to worry about it yet. Most people I know are just getting their first student loan bills in the mail and trying to figure out how to balance that and living expenses on a fresh-from-college salary. I hope to share on this blog some of the major financial milestones I experience. When it comes to finances I have found that the program established by Dave Ramsey is the most affective for me personally. I will share with you some of those exciting new endeavors as I take them on myself.

Lastly, something I hold near and dear to my heart is the power of positive thinking. On this blog I hope to share some of my favorite positive quotes, meditation guides, ways to look on the bright side, and ways to think ahead to a better and brighter future. I truly believe that half of the reason why I got to where I am today is because I am a positive thinker. It plays into my determination so well that failure tends to not be an option, and when I stumble I find a way to get back on top.

I hope you find this blog informative. For me it is more about having a full documentation of my experiences in this new life I am living. This year I have taken on so much, the primal lifestyle, CrossFit, total money makeover, focusing more on positive thought, as well as my first year in my career as an American sign language interpreter. These are all important components in my life, and I know in the future I will be grateful for having kept a running blog regarding them.

Thanks for reading.