Author Archives: Erica House

Distracted Driving: Would You Crash Over a Text Message?

July 17th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (1 Comments)


Last week marked the one year anniversary of my cousin Blaire’s death.

Blaire

While the details will never be known for sure, she was killed after crashing her car and she had been texting with her boyfriend while driving upset that night. She somehow flipped her car and was partially ejected from the vehicle. My Aunt and Uncle went to bed Wednesday night after Blaire cooked them dinner and were woken up Thursday morning by the police telling them they found her body on the side of the road.

Her dog, that was in the car with her, stayed with her by her side the entire night. She was 24 years old. Unfortunately, distracted driving may have played a part in her death. What’s even worse is that despite knowing this I still text and drive sometimes. It’s inexcusable. I hate that I do it, and I’ve cut way back on it, but if I’m being 100% honest (and when am I not on here?) it still happens.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with a problem. The “Decide to Drive” campaign has some scary statistics. According to a survey released in 2013 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 660,000 drivers on the roads of America at any given moment of the day who are engaging in texting, tweeting, making phone calls, or otherwise using technology in a way that distracts them from driving.

Whatever cute text I was going to send Travis, whatever question my Mom asked me, and whatever I thought was SO funny I had to put on Twitter immediately can wait. I love my life. Really, really love it. To think that I am jeopardizing it for something so trivial is sickening. It’s just not worth it.

wreck-less-checklistI am going to stop driving distracted and encourage all of those people that I love, and every person who is reading it, to do the same.

Sincere thank you to the Auto Alliance, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the “Decide to Drive” campaign for working to stop distracted driving.

What’s one way you can resist the temptation to drive distracted? 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Running as a Couple: Highs & Lows and 5 Tips To Make it Work

July 17th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (38 Comments)

So, I’m dating this guy I really like.

2014-07-06 10.29.20

And together we sometimes do this thing I really like.

Double Bridge

You’d think that if I could combine the two things I really like into one activity that it would be awesome all the time, right?

No.

Wrong. Actually, so wrong that I snapped at Travis for the very first time on our run together Sunday.

Awwww.

A bit of history on us. Travis has been running for a few years, so he’s been at it longer than I have, but he’s never been competitive about it or trained specifically for anything other then Army PT tests. I’ve been running for two years and from the beginning I wanted to run all the races and be the best I could be. I’ve been busting my butt trying to get faster. My first 5k race was 31 minutes, and my most recent was 25:30. I took my half marathon time down from 2:21 to 2:10, and now I’m working on marathon #3 and hoping to get the 4:30 finish I trained for last year.

Travis just ran his first half marathon, for fun, with zero formal training (I think we did an 8 mile run together the weekend before) and finished in 1:52.

SERIOUSLY?

Back to my first snap-attack. We’ve been running together almost since we started dating a few months ago. My everyday pace is about a 10:30 and Travis can comfortable run under 9 minute miles. So, he’s been slowing down to stay with me and I’ve been pushing it a bit so I feel like I’m not holding him back as much (even though he constantly reminds me that he doesn’t care about pace.) This past weekend I had two really, really difficult runs. I did my first trail run on Saturday and it tore up my legs. Not to mention it’s usually 85 degrees out and 90% humidity by 6 a.m. so trying to maintain anything under an 11 minute pace is virtually impossible for me, even with the stops I take after 3-4 miles now. Travis is starting to see how hard I am on myself. It is SO frustrating not to be able to make my body do what I want it to, especially when I was just able to run certain paces with no problems a few months ago in cooler weather.

I’m huffing, puffing, and genuinely feeling like if I don’t take a walk break I may die, and Travis is literally skipping around and chewing gum.

There’s a part of me that wants to trip him (love you honey.)

He can see how frustrated I’m getting and tries to tell me to relax (no helping.) Or, he’ll try to be nice and motivate me saying I’m doing a great job (I don’t want to hear it.) It’s basically a lose-lose situation for the poor guy. He tries to preach to me about ‘intuitive running’ which is his idea that he runs fast when he feels like it, and runs slower when his body tells him to take a break. I don’t operate like that. I like plans, and goal paces, and schedules I can stick to.

So, after a rough run Saturday we go out for a 5 miler on Sunday. He says something to me, jokingly, as I’ve stopped again and am kind of hating my life. I don’t even remember what he said but before I could even think about it I gave him a swift, “eff you” and ran off. Since he’s so damn fast he caught up to me in no time and couldn’t believe I didn’t see how clearly he was being sarcastic with whatever he said. Looking back my judgement was obviously clouded by the death heat rays and trying not to vomit. I realized then that if we wanted to continue running together we’d have to formulate a new plan.

Tips For Running With Your Significant Other

1. Don’t do it. I’m kind of serious. Unless you both are going into it with the same positive attitude and viewing it as a time to just have fun and hang out togeher then skip the run and go for a walk or hike instead.

2. Let go of the resentment. Travis is naturally faster than I am, for many reasons. He’s a guy (sorry ladies but they are faster in general, look at Boston qualifying times to see the differences in gender!) He’s been running longer than I have. He’s just – faster. It can be depressing to constantly be running 5 feet behind someone. But, it’s depressing only because I let it get to me. I have to let it go. I can’t look at him and get frustrated with my own legs because they can’t move faster. In a way I need to pretend like I’m out there on my own again and just run for me.

3. Plan to run together, separately. If Travis decides to really train for a race he’ll have to stick to a different pace schedule then me. In that case we would start our runs together, but break apart and know when/where we will meet up again. Finding an area with a nice loop would be perfect for this. There is a park by Travis’s house that he loves to run at where we could run our own paces but constantly pass each other.

4. My tempo runs will be his everyday runs. On the rare occasion where we run together during the week we can plan for my tempo runs to be his everyday or recovery runs. Often when we do weekday runs I’ll chug along at my 10:30 pace and every 5-10 minutes he’ll sprint ahead about .10 miles and back to me so he’s getting more of a workout in. He did that last weekend on our run so I ended with 8 miles at a 10:52 pace and he did 8 miles in about 10:15.

5. It can be amazing. I know I’ve been pretty negative toward it but running with Travis has been incredible. It’s great to be dating someone who gets my desire to go to bed by 10 so I can wake up early and run. He doesn’t mind waking up at 5 a.m. with me on a Saturday, my ugly runners feet, or my constant talk of 400′s and training plans. I love being able to share a huge part of my life with him. He’s reminding me that running should be fun, and I shouldn’t beat myself up over arbitrary paces as long as I’m doing my best.

Further Reading:

Can Love and Running Coexist? by Runners World

Training/Running with Your Spouse Great insights in this Runner’s World Forum

How to Run with our Spouse by Another Mother Runner (the pace chart is SPOT ON.)

Have you ever ran with your significant other?
If you have any tips/advice please share!

Surviving my 20′s: Being Broke Does Not Make You Broken

July 16th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (66 Comments)

When I tell people I can’t afford to do something they often don’t know how to respond to me.

Last week was a rough one financially for me. This summer has already been tight thanks to one of the schools I teach for canceling one of my classes the day before it was supposed to start. So, that cut my already lower Summer income by 1/3 until September. When I planned the trip to Savannah it was under the assumption I’d be teaching 3 classes versus 2 so I knew that was going to put me into the red for July. Well, when it rains it pours! In the span of two weeks I had the following expenses come up:

  • I found out my internet bill will be double now since the lower rate my Mom negotiated was going back to normal
  • My thyroid perscription went up in cost
  • I had to go to the clinic for this mysterious shingles/unknown rash issue
  • One of my paychecks was half of what it normally is due to weird pay dates
  • I had to reorder contacts, and EVERYTHING expensive I use ran out at the same time so that was a $75 Target trip
  • Salem had to go to the Vets, which cost $125

Needless to say I’m extremely thankful I have a small amount put away in savings so I’ll be okay, but it’s getting tight. I have no problem saying I can’t afford things as I don’t tie monetary success or stability with self-worth. I think that’s why there is such a stigma to being ‘broke’. Broke is another term I try not to use because I find it offensive. I’m not broken, I just don’t have a lot of money!

I’m pretty good with money now and I owe it all to my parents for teaching me financial literacy from a very early age. I remember in elementary school when we got our allowance we divided it up into three jars; long term savings, short term savings and spending money. What 10 year old kid does that? It was a very cool way to see money ‘grow’ in our savings jar, and I don’t think we stuck to doing that for very long but it clearly made an impression on me.

When I was fresh out of college I lived alone and was making $14.50 an hour (with a Masters degree and the debt that goes alone with it.) One of the best bits of financial advice my Mom gave me then was ‘buy the best you can afford.’ Implied in that statement is to only buy things you can pay for on the spot (credit cards are evil if not used correctly) and after years of buying the cheapest option available, only to have to continually replace it, I finally wised up and listened to her.

My parents struggled financially when I was younger. My Dad was a graduate student when my brother and I were born and Mom stayed at home with us. Mom’s told me stories about how bad it was for a few years when we were very young. Of course I don’t remember any of the stress and all I have are wonderful memories of my childhood! Since Mom stayed at home with us we were always doing fun arts and crafts, or playing outside. We made weekly trips to the library and I lived for the weekend when we would go to the movie rental store and I could pick out a $1 rental. When we lived in Kentucky we went camping all the time and once we moved to Florida almost every weekend was spent at the beach. You don’t need a lot of money to have a great time!

First snow

Being goofy

An inflatable mattress acted as my bed for a while, and as you can see my room was pretty sparse!

My BedAfter putting up with grad school poverty for a while my parents made the unfortunate decision to start using credit cards. I remember Mom charging all of our back-to-school clothing shopping trips, and over the years they ended up in pretty bad credit card debt. Around high school Mom decided enough was enough and began paying off the cards and Dad’s student loan payments finally ended.

Over time Mom became pretty hard core about money. She’s also kind of obsessed with the 1940′s and her laundry room is decorated with old War posters that say things like “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” My parents had such a rough time with money when they were younger I knew she wanted me to try and avoid the same struggles. I texted her yesterday as I was writing this and asked her for her #1 piece of financial advice. All she wrote back was one word.

Save.

I’m able to live pretty comfortably off of my sporadic teacher & blog income because I adhere to the financial principles I was raised with. I only buy things I need, not things I want. I buy the best I can afford. I try to save some of every paycheck. I only pay people to do things I can’t do myself (hence never having a pedicure in my life and having my car washed by someone else once.) Basically, I live within my means and I don’t use hard work/stress/bad days as an excuse to ‘treat’ myself to something that I’ll just have guilt over later if I can’t pay it off.

Even though I can be a bit of a tightwad I save so that I can spend on what really matters to me. I love traveling, eating healthy food is a huge part of my monthly budget, and I have an obscene amount of books. I still spend but I try to invest my money in experiences over things. I figure when the time comes to look back over my life that’s one investment I’ll always be happy I made.

 State-Farm-Logo (1)Like a good neighbor State Farm is there.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.

What are your favorite financial tips?
Did your parents teach you about saving or spending wisely?