Gym Etiquette

First off, let me say I’m not perfect at the gym, but I’m trying to be better. Perhaps having the accountability of this blog will help me be more conscious while I’m working out. Secondly, a lot of these issues stem from some of my pet peeves.


1) RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS (or other equipment)

If you’re too lazy to re-rack your weights then you shouldn’t be working with the weights to begin with. The old rule: leave things better than you found them holds true at the gym. My mom’s trainer says that getting your weights out & putting them away should be part of your workout routine – think about those little extra calories your burning (or muscle fibers you’re ripping – in a good way) while carrying your weights (or other pieces of equipment such as handles, bars, balls, mats, bands, etc…) back to where they go. PS: THE FLOOR IS NOT WHERE THEY GO – EVER! Hello, trip hazard!!!


Rule of thumb – take your headphones out & hold them at arms length away. If you can still hear them (even in the slightest) they are too loud. I don’t want to hear the bass coming out of your super awesome low-end headphones, and that grandma working out nearby really doesn’t. Plus, YOU may want to still be able to hear that bass when you are as old as that grandma, so turn it down. For our sakes & yours!


If you like do to do 3 sets of 10 on one piece of equipment with rests between each set AT LEAST get up between sets! Let other people “work in” around you. Or better yet, keep your heart rate up & pick 2+ exercises and go back and forth between them without resting. This allows others to work in around you & will ultimately give you a better workout. Double win! I generally do a circuit of 3 – 4 exercises (with one being more cardio like mountain climbers, high knees, jumping jacks, etc…) and it almost always works out – until that loaf decides to sit & wait between sets on the equipment I was using!


Some gyms are nice enough to provide towels. There are usually 3 types of towels a gym may provide:
A) Full size towels – These are for showers, saunas, steam rooms, pools, hot tubs, ONLY. In a nut shell, these are for full body drying off or wrapping around (please use one in steam rooms/saunas!). These ARE NOT for bringing with you to the workout center to wipe sweat off your brow – see B for that!
B) Hand size towels – These are generally the size that you have by your bathroom sink. THESE are what you bring to the workout center to wipe the sweat off your brow. Does your gym not provide them (or tend to run out often like mine)? Then pack an extra one or two in your gym bag just in case (I cut an old towel into 4 which worked out great). Also, don’t use your sweaty towel to wipe off equipment – see C for that!
C) Machine towels – These are generally kept at each machine with a spray bottle of disinfectant/deodorizer. USE THEM! Especially during flu season or if you got a machine really sweaty from dripping on it. Some gyms may have paper towel dispensers & spray bottles. It’s okay to use the paper towel over again on the equipment your using. And it’s better for the environment.
Side note: Sometimes if the gym doesn’t have B towels but has the C towels you can ask someone working there for an extra C towel to use for B purposes. Just make sure you get it to someone who can make sure it gets washed before it’s back to being used for C. But if you truly rely on B towels, pack your own!


There you are, lifting an insane amount of weight, which is super intimidating already, AND you have a look on your face like you want to punch someone. The gym can be a great place to meet friends or find a great workout buddy, but no one wants to get to know someone who looks like they have anger issues. So smile when crossing paths or asking if you can “work in” on a machine. It goes a long way. (PS: I’m still trying to be better at this one).

NOTICE: Most of these etiquette tips help not only your fellow gym rats, but usually have benefits for you, too!

Eventually I will post some things for your own health & safety (mostly, your neck/back) so if you are a gym rat like me, pay attention for that future blog – probably about proper form or something like that. And I’m sure I will think of more etiquette topics to share.


On being late

I overheard a mom talking to her daughter as they were walking along the sidewalk in New York City. The girl was dilly dallying – climbing up on steps & touching every railing – essentially turning the walk into an exercise in gymnastics. She was probably around 3 or 4 years old. As I was about to pass the two, the mom looks at her & says, “How do you think Matilda will feel if you are late?”

Perhaps this is how Matilda is feeling? Bored. Annoyed. Impatient. Restless.

Perhaps this is how Matilda is feeling? Bored. Annoyed. Impatient. Restless.

This simple statement got me thinking: so many times when I’m running late I am so caught up in all the things that made/are making me late that I often don’t take in to account the person or people I’m late to meet.
Sure, we offer a curt sorry when we finally get to them & possibly explain the reason(s) we are late, but do we really take in to account their actual feelings? And are we truly sorry?


I hate it when I’m late, and in the past that tended to be often, but I’m really trying to be more mindful of my time management so it doesn’t happen as much. Sure, there will be things out of my control, no matter how good I was with my time, that happens!


Now want to talk to all those “creatives” or “artists” who use their lifestyle or personality type as an excuse. I’m sorry, but it’s not an excuse. And no, we shouldn’t just anticipate or expect you to be late.
For all of you people who have waited for one of these & told them, when they arrived late, that it’s okay, why? It probably isn’t! Your probably frustrated (or like me, I tend to get bored or awkward in the waiting).


Time is valuable, people!

• You need to value other’s time & work harder, despite your vocation or personality type, to be more punctual. How would it make _____ feel that you are late? Truly?!
• And if you were the one waiting, stop pretending that it was/is okay! No more buying the excuses. Let them know how it feels! We need to stop letting it be socially acceptable that they are late & hopefully they will start to understand and get better at time management.
And, yes, I am giving all who read this permission to call me on it! Let me know how it makes you feel.


Let’s have faith that they can better, that we can get better, that I can get better.


How would (Matilda)* feel if you are late?

*Insert name(s) here

Using My Passion & Skillsets in the Mission Field

*Note: Click on the images to see them larger!*

The Hands & Feel Children's Village in Jacmel, Haiti.

The Hands & Feel Children’s Village in Jacmel, Haiti.

I’ve only been on one mission trip before this year. I was 11 years old & I went with my parents to distribute Bibles to the schools in Russia. I enjoyed my time, especially getting to know some of the local kids. Since then, though, I haven’t ever felt a pull to go on mission trips.

The thing is, I have a small handful of things I am passionate about.
I also have a small handful of skill sets.

It’s really hard for me to get excited or “gung ho” about something if it isn’t connected to one of my passions.
And if I can’t use my skillsets then I tend to get very frustrated.

A distorted, yet beautiful panoramic on the jagged cliffs near Cows Cove.

A distorted, yet beautiful panoramic on the jagged cliffs near Cows Cove.

With what I know about mission trips, I never really saw an alignment with my passions or use for my skillsets, so the draw, or “call,” was never really there.

But then God called me to go to Haiti this year. I was nervous about going, thinking I was going to have to really struggle to have a good attitude. Thankfully I went with a great group & got to serve at the amazing Hands & Feet Children’s Village (H&F). Having a good attitude was not a struggle! With that one, small worry behind me I could enjoy my trip.

Being on the ground in the mission field put me in a great spot to see some areas of missions I was not aware of. Areas where my passions & skill sets could possibly intersect!


The beautiful beach where we got to swimming at midway through our trip.

One of my passions is the environment. I drive a hybrid, use canvas shopping bags, have all CFL light bulbs, recycle & take many other measures in my life to help make sure that the earth & it’s resources, are around for a long time!

Many missionary organizations, including H&F, rely on generators & other alternative power sources since the local power isn’t always consistent. But, with rising fuel costs, generators can be expensive to run. And other options aren’t always affordable.

A panoramic view from the roof of one of the village's buildings, showing some of the solar panels.

A panoramic view from the roof of one of the village’s buildings, showing some of the solar panels.

Thankfully, H&F has been able to acquire some solar panels, but they still do rely heavily on their generators. It was mentioned in a conversation with one of the leaders that they would like to get more solar panels. The mention of solar, being very environmentally friendly, got me intrigued & excited. My wheels started turning trying to think of ways to get more solar panels to H&F and to other organizations!

I talked further with the leader & she told me about a non-profit organization that does help get solar to missions & humanitarian organizations – which is how they were able to get their current solar panels.

And then I feel that it is no coincidence that I randomly started getting Forbes magazine & then decided to grab one to take on the trip for airplane reading. While flipping through the pages only one thing really applied to me. It was an ad for a hybrid generator that can cut costs of running a generator 60-80%! Now, I not only wanted to get more solar panels for H&F, but also these generators.

One of my skillsets is connecting people & I think I can find a way to connect this company with H&F (and possibly other future missions/non-profits) and find ways to raise the funds (i.e.: crowdfunding/fundraising) to do it!

I’m excited & would love to see many missions, humanitarian organizations & non-profits working a little greener AND in the process, saving some green $ which they could put to use in other ways in their organizations!

And how cool would it be if the next time I headed to H&F I was bringing a new hybrid generator and/or some more solar panels!

On the last full day in Haiti we enjoyed a rigorous but gorgeous hike up the mountain!

On the last full day in Haiti we enjoyed a rigorous but gorgeous hike up the mountain!

My Week w/o Meat

First off, I survived!!! As did a few cows, pigs, chickens, and/or turkeys ;) Well, I’m sure I had no affect on their population, but I do know that I did, in fact, survive!


Secondly, I wasn’t all that hungry like I thought I would be! My theory is that I was getting a lot more variety in nutrients so my body wasn’t craving as much nourishment. I will admit that I wasn’t working out quite as much during this week as I usually do, so I’m not sure if that affected my diminished hunger.

Third off, I created some new favorite meals:

1)    Trader Joe’s veggie burger, a thick, grilled slice of red onion, and an avocado spread (guacamole without cilantro, onion, or tomato/salsa), on a piece of whole grain bread with carrots & green beans on side.

2)    Quinoa fried rice: Red onions & carrots cut up small & stir fried in a bit of sesame oil with some crushed garlic (cook until onions are translucent). Add cooked peas &/or edamame, and a couple cups of cooked quinoa. Douse with soy sauce! This is vegetarian & can be gluten free if you choose your soy sauce well. I would add a side of broccoli, too.

Fourth, and most amazing, I didn’t really miss or crave meat that much at all!

Fifth, I attended TWO potlucks in this time & although some of the meat dishes looked tempting, I resisted! Go me! I did bring some quinoa fried rice, which I loaded up on!

Lastly, I think I want to do this on the regular. When I get back to a life with a semi-stable schedule I’d like to do something like go meat-free the first week of the month. I know some people do meatless Mondays or a variation, but I actually enjoyed the whole week.

And no, I will never go full vegetarian. NOT A CHANCE!

My last meal before starting this week was a steak & my first meal of meat after was Sesame Beef at my favorite Chinese restaurant in SoCal: City Wok. So not just meat, but BEEF! Yum! I love meat WAY too much to go vegetarian!

My Week w/o Television

So, I decided to go a week without TV (including Hulu & other formats). For some, this may seem like no big thing, but for me, it’s tough. I live alone & TV is a great way for me to fill the silence. Plus, I love a good story & can easily get wrapped up into the serialized adventures of some of my favorite characters.



Amazingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I planned on reading more, but it’s hard to read while I get things done, like cooking, cleaning, updating my finances, etc… (which is what I do while watching TV) so I put on the Mockingjay audiobook. I “read” the first two audiobooks during long driving sprees while moving & travelling. I was looking for a time to break into the third & final installment of this trilogy before the next movie comes out.

I think the hardest time for me was during my workouts. I like to catch up on TV shows on my phone while trudging away on the treadmill. But thankfully I can also enjoy some revved up jams while sweating away! The time didn’t pass quite as quickly, but it passed all the same!

The weekend was the hardest & I kind of caved & watched some movies. In all fairness, I did say no TV, as in television shows, so a few movies over the course of a weekend is no big thing. I got things I needed to get done done & just wanted to unwind a little bit.


I’m sure there will be many more TV-free seasons ahead in life, but for now I’m just proud of myself for completing one week. Go me! ;)

Haiti, Faith, Hands & Feet

In 2011 my friend Callie moved to Haiti, and to raise some money she had an art sale. Some of her visual artist friends donated pieces of artwork. One such piece was a photo with some seagulls flying in the sunset over the ocean. I was drawn to this piece because it reminded me of the album art for Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane. I bought the framed photo & told Callie that I would set it as a reminder for me to pray for her.

On Saturday February 15, 2014 I was lying in bed praying. I saw the photo on my wall & decided to pray for her. While I was praying for her & Haiti I felt the Lord whisper in my ear that I needed to go to Haiti. (X number 1*)

The next day, at church, there was an announcement in the bulletin that they still needed specifically WOMEN to go on the upcoming summer trip to Haiti (X number 2*).

*During the sermon the pastor came to explain how he & his wife felt called to start a church. They were walking in the neighborhood where the church is currently located & considering an option to go be the creative arts pastor at a large church in another city. As they pondered & prayed about where they should be they looked up in the sky they saw two white strips of clouds left by two passing planes that made an X in the sky. My pastor’s wife saw it as a sign & exclaimed “X marks the spot!” They continued to talk & pray about it and when they looked up again there were then three X’s.

I put the bulletin on my table next to where I often sit & work on my computer. I stared at it for a few days before finally emailing the trip leader. She emailed me back a few days later & then a week later we finally talked on the phone. She gave me a lot of information & answered a lot of questions. The date was February 25. She needed to know as soon as possible if I was coming or not, so I told her I would sleep on it & then let her the know the next day.

I was reading my devotional that night called Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith (2011). The days entry was about fears & treasures – so nothing to do with Haiti, but at the end of the 3rd paragraph he wrote, “I’ve seen dads & moms drink away enough money in a couple of years to have built two orphanes in Haiti and educated their kids and grandkids for a couple of decades,” (p. 70). I just new then that was all I needed! (X number 3*).

The next day I confirmed with Cora that there was still time for me to sign-up to go & after she said yes, I paid my deposit and it was set! I will be joining a team of about 10 from my church and another 20 people to go to Jacmel to serve with Hands & Feet in their construction of an orphanage.

SIDE NOTE: Much can be said about God’s timing in this post, but the thing that amazes me the most & puts me in awe of God is that at least 3 years ago (or more) when Scotty Smith was writing his devotional prayer book, God knew that on Feb. 25 of this year I would be wrestling with this decision & this casual, slightly unrelated mention of building orphanages in Haiti was put into the book. This was the 3rd X in the sky. God is awesome!

FINANCES: The trip is not free, and I am not the most financially stable person yet. So if anyone would like to help contribute to my trip, please feel free to email me at & I can provide you with ways to donate (all donations are tax deductible).

Here’s a video from the 2013 trip: