Reebok Spartan Race: Discounts and Giveaway!

2014_Generic_Promo-Card2_SRM Photos via Spartan Race Media

I’ve got the best deal today!

I’ve been given 1 Free Race Registration to give away and a discount code that everybody can use! Both are good for any Reebok Spartan Race in the continental U.S.

I love the idea of obstacle races and have participated in them myself. I’m not super into running a race just to run, but if I’m running toward something fun, count me in. If you’re going to run a set number of miles, why do it on a boring road? Do it while jumping over fire! Jump over things, climb up things, crawl through things! This sounds way more exciting to me. Plus, you get the added benefits balance, agility, coordination and strength benefits of using your entire body, not just your legs and cardiovascular system (<— the trainer in me can’t help it).

Reebok Spartan Race has 3 different types of races to choose from:

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Sprint: 3+ Miles & 15+ Obstacles

Super: 8+ Miles & 20+ Obstacles

BEAST: 12+ Miles & 25+ Obstacles

Races are happening all over the country! Check it.

You have the opportunity to race one or all of them on October 4th in Ohio.

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If you’d like to go ahead and sign up for any of the races, head over to Spartan.com to register. You can use the code SPARTANBLOGGER to receive %10 off your entry fee! This code is good for any race in the continental U.S.

If you’d like a chance to win a FREE entry, enter the giveaway below. I’ll need your name (duh) and your email address so I can notify you of your win and tell you how to proceed.

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Giveaway ends at 11:59 Sunday, July 27.

Winner will be announced Monday, July 28!

Good luck! AROO!

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Workout Playlist! (Random)

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I’ll be the first to say this playlist is all over the place.

Pick over it, take what you like. Be a BEAST. ; )

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Mondays…

Somebody’s totally having a case of the Mondays… #itsme

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There’s nothing horrible about today so I guess I shouldn’t complain… but I’m going to anyway. You can exit out of this post now if you want… I won’t be offended. My Mondays are usually very productive. There’s always a lot to get done on Monday so I hit the ground running. I’m usually getting home from my weekend travel, getting rolling for the week ahead, and just feeling energized. Today is not that Monday. Today is the stereotypical Monday that everybody loves to complain about. I’m tired. I’m not being productive, I don’t want to do a workout, I can’t even take the nap I just tried to take. I was too drained to go to the ballet class that I’d planned on taking this morning as well. I’m just feeling… blah.

LAME!

So I’m just going to focus on getting through the work I have to get done, then take the dogs for a long walk and hope that reenergizes me. I’m working on lots of things for this week, so stay tuned for a playlist, a giveaway, and some pretty photos. In the meantime, I think it’s time for a little James Taylor Pandora station action and a deep breath.

Happy Monday, everybody. Let’s get through this bitch.

; )

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How I Deal With My Fear of Flying… Constantly

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I LOVE traveling. I hate flying. As somebody who has a fear of flying, having to get on an airplane almost weekly presents a bit of a conundrum. Resulting from a really scary flight in 2006, I’ve been freaked the hell out about flying for years. I guess the real fear isn’t so much in flying as it is crashing… For a while there it got so bad that tears and shaking were a part of almost every flight I took.

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A couple years ago I was able to get a prescription for a very light dose of an anti-anxiety drug, which definitely helped, but I hated having to take something in order to get through a flight. Plus, even though it was an extremely light dose, it made me incredibly drowsy so that wasn’t optimal either, as usually I’m getting off a plane and into a rental car. I needed a solution. I didn’t really have one, other than “just keep flying.” And that actually helped…

The more flights I’ve taken, the more I’ve learned. After a couple hundred or so flights over the past few years, I’ve gotten better. I hardly use my pills anymore, but I still keep them in my travel bag. Although I’m still freaked out by flying, I’ve picked up a few key practices that have helped me get through it, partly because I have to for my job, more so because I want to… because there’s still a lot of this world I haven’t seen yet.

So I’m gonna to pass those along now…

In no particular order, here are my top 7 tips for getting through a fear of flying:

1. Learn about how planes work.

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I read a book by Michael Chricton called, “Airframe.” It was a novel, yes, but all his books are based on scientific facts and are cited up one side and down the other. This book was  about a plane accident and all the issues surrounding it. It explained a lot about the science/physics about aviation and how planes actually work, why they’re built the way they are, etc. It really opened my eyes up about how durable airplanes are. Plus, it was an entertaining read, so it’s worth a go.

I’ve also talked to a few pilots here and there. I’ve sat next to them occasionally on flights and talk to them in the airport while waiting for flights. Once, I had drinks with a couple in the bar one night after we all took the shuttle from the airport to the same hotel. I asked them tons of questions about various scenarios where I can see how the plane would either spontaneously combust, be flipped over by an insane wind gust, or simply fall out of the sky. They assured me that nearly every one of those scenarios was impossible and explained why. They may have thought I was crazy, but they humored me and answered every question I asked.

No matter what the subject, most of our fear comes simply from the unknown. Learning more of the science of flying has helped.

 

2. Fly more often. Seriously.

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I know our initial reaction is to avoid the things we’re scared of, but the best thing to do is face it… unfortunately.

Every flight I took I reminded myself that it would be ok and I would get better at it… And then that damn Alanis Morissette line would go through my head: “He waited his whole damn life, to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought, well isn’t this nice.” And then I’d go back to thinking I was going to die… THANKS, Alanis!

The more I flew though, the more familiar things felt. The more I learned that the sound immediately after take-off wasn’t the engine falling out of the plane,(like I was certain it was), it was merely the sound the landing gear makes as it retracts back up into the plane. The scary sound as you start to descend for landing isn’t the wing about to rip apart from the body of the plane, it’s just the struts extending out to allow the plane to ascend or descend. The other sound that I always thought meant we were going to crash, as it caused an immediate drop in speed, ended up being the landing gear coming down to prep for our arrival. Knowing that these horrific sounds of impending doom were actually just sounds the plane makes as it goes through normal operations makes everything a little easier to endure.

3. Sit towards the front!

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I read an article once about how to survive a plane crash and it said most survivors were ones seated in the back of the plane. So obviously, I sat in the farthest seat I could get (but before the very back row… you only make that mistake once), but it always seemed as though the turbulence was horrid and it was always super loud. I can’t sleep on planes as it is, and the noise back there made it even more unlikely to happen.

Then I learned, from the lovely pilots I chatted up, that the turbulence is felt more the farther back you sit. The closer you are to the front, the easier it feels. Viola! I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just the placebo effect, but either way, sitting at the front feels better. Plus, you get to exit the plane sooner. Double whammy!

4. Close the window!

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If the plane is making a turn and I look out the window and am staring at the ground, I’m thinking the plane is effing SIDEWAYS! There is no way on God’s green earth that we’re not going to crash. How can the plane take that much force?! The wings are gonna snap! The engine’s going to die! “Stop making such a sharp turn, you irresponsible pilot!” Sooooo now I just keep the window shades down. I do this by always booking a window seat, so then I’m in control of it. Out of sight, out of mind, my friends! Most people want an aisle seat anyway, so it works out for everybody: I don’t see anything that makes me freak out, the person next to me doesn’t have to hold my hand. Win win!

5. Distractions, distractions, distractions.

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The more ish I have to distract me, the less I think about the plane crashing and all of us dying a horrific death. I always check the types of planes I’ll be flying in when I book my ticket, since you can do that these days on the website, or on the airline’s phone app. Depending on the airline, sometimes there are rad TVs with shows, movies and music. Sometimes though, there’s absolutely no in-flight entertainment. In those cases, I bring my own distractions: Since I’m self-employed, there’s usually always some work I could be doing, so that can take up a huge portion of my attention. I always have my computer with me, as well as my Kindle. I get a subscription of my favorite magazine, Outside, as well as my fitness publication, IDEA Fitness Journal. I take the mags when they arrive in the mail and immediately place them in my carryon backpack, saved especially for reading while flying. And since they now allow you to have your electronics on during the entire flight (namely takeoff and landing, which are the scariest parts of the flight) I’m totally set up to use my phone or Kindle to think about as many other things as possible!

6. Alcohol.

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I mean, don’t get wasted or anything, but if I don’t have to drive after landing, sometimes I’ll have a drink or two (or three, depending on the length of the flight) and I’m out like a light. Or a little more numb to the turbulence, one of the two.

Keep it classy though! Belligerent people get kicked off planes and put on the no-fly list… And don’t drink alcohol if you’re taking any medication!

7. Think about the statistics.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are an average of 87,000 flights per day, in the United States alone. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and you get just under 32 Million… just in the states! How often do we hear of a major airline crash? Not often. And the most recent ones have been in other countries where the regulations are likely not as strict as they are here. Every time a flight is delayed for a mechanical reason, passengers always complain because they’ll be late. I always silently rejoice that the pilots have caught something that could have just saved our lives. Compared to driving, many more safe flights are happening every day.

If nothing else… close your eyes and focus on your breath. 

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So these are all the little things I think about that have helped me over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “cured” by any means. I still freak out a little when there’s turbulence for more than 10 seconds. I still track all my man-friend’s flights so I know he’s arrived safely. I still re-think decisions to switch flights or fly standby in case I’m putting myself on a flight that’s going to crash, or switching flights that will inherently save me from one the one going to crash… but at least I’m not crying anymore, nor am I all drugged up. Glad game!

I know I can’t control the planes I’m flying on. I can’t control the pilots and their actions either. I also can’t stay on the ground and not travel, so I suck it up and fly. And these things help me out.

Do any of you have a fear of flying? What do you do to curb it?

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100 Happy Days: Days 15-21

The following things made me happy last week!

Day 15: Climbing in the most beautiful places on earth.

In this case: Lake Louise

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Day 16: The rainbow on the way up to Castle Mountain

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Day 17: Waking up early enough to see the sunrise (with my man-friend).

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Day 18: Finishing my first long multi-pitch climb.

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Day 19: Resting… with a view.

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Day 20: From the mountains of Canada to the city streets of Chicago.

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Day 21: The genius that invented THIS.

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Don’t know how long these have been around, but I sure wish they’d existed when I was a kid. Everybody knows the best flavor of any popsicle (or sucker for that matter) is RED.

What’s making you happy these days?

Follow my 100 Happy Days on Instagram: FitwithFlash

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Ha Ling: My first long climb!

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I’ve been climbing since college, but mostly single pitch sport climbing. I’ve done a few multi-pitch climbs with my man-friend, since those are his favorite types of climbs. We’ve done some 2, 4, and 6 pitch climbs, but nothing over that. We didn’t get to climb Brewer’s Buttress Monday, then I got a stomach bug on Tuesday. Wednesday was our last day to climb (as we were going to have his two sons with us for the remainder of the trip). I still felt like ass, but we decided to climb Ha Ling anyway. Ha Ling Peak is an 11 pitch climb that’s fairly easy. It’s rated 5.4 – 5.6 (if you know the Yosemite Decimal climbing System) so it was nice to know I could handle that level since we’d be climbing for a long period of time.

My stomach bug was still hanging around, but I really wanted to do the climb, especially since it was the last chance we could go. The hike up and the first couple pitches were less than enjoyable. Stopping and sitting several times, to keep from puking, was far from my ideal morning… but at least the view was ok.

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Me… not as happy climbing as I usually am:

After doing the first 4 pitches very quickly, and wearing myself out, I wanted to go back down. The thought of doing 7 more pitches feeling like ass was not appealing to me and all I wanted to do was lie down. The thought of quitting though felt much worse… so we kept going, but with the attempt to sit and rest for about 5 minutes after each pitch.

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The great thing about this climb was that all the belay stations were on huge ledges so I could sit and rest. We were stuck behind a couple other teams of people, so it was actually perfect. With a view like this, and some pretty awesome company, breaks don’t suck:

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I started feeling better around pitch 8 so my man-friend decided to capture the moment (me happy):

His fingers in the shot cracked me up. Those GoPros can be tricky…

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Making my way up…

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and up…

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and to the top!

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I’m really glad I finished!

We had an awesome day together, the weather was perfect, and it felt sooo nice to nap afterwards.

Yeeeeeah, bitches!

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And this is just another photo from the Castle Mountain trip two days before. It was on the GoPro with these photos, so I had to throw it in here. Love seats made out of stacked rocks on the mountain ridge are my jam:

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So long, Canada and man-friend! Until next time… xoxo

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Castle Mountain: The Hike, The Hut & The Throne

My man-friend and I planned to do a climb called, “Brewer’s Buttress” while I was visiting this week. It’s located on Castle Mountain. There’s a hut on top of the ridge that you can sleep in, so we planned to hike up Sunday evening, sleep in the hut, then climb all day Monday and hike back out.

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The Hike:

securedownloadThis is the guide for the last two hours of the approach, the faint, red line was the scary section.

This next photo was taken an hour and a half in, at the Lookout Site. I was still in “happy hiker” mode here. Next came freak out, “survivor” mode so my phone stayed in the pack for the duration of the evening.

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This hike isn’t just walking on a trail. NOPE. It’s 3 and a half hours of hiking, scrambling, climbing up STEEP trails and rocks, and hoping you don’t trip and fall off the side of the mountain. You’re on a steep trail for about an hour and a half to the lookout, then it’s a ton of scrambling and climbing for the next two hours. We anchored in to a couple parts and short-roped others. I’m glad I did it and finished  it, but I’m also glad I didn’t die. I could see how that’s easily done on this type of exposed terrain. Ten minutes into this hike, I was already breathing hard and dreading the rest of it. Pretty much everywhere you hike, climb, or ride in the Canadian Rockies is steep as shit. Add to that the elevation (we were going up to 7,800 feet), the several pounds of climbing gear, clothes, and food in my pack, and my lack of long cardio training and I had the perfect recipe for two small asthma-like attacks. I don’t have asthma, but I did get the closing of my airway and the increasing difficulty to breathe, which caused me to get really dizzy and weak… Which is extremely scary when you’re up that high and having to climb up exposed areas. Don’t know if I’ve ever been so fatigued on an approach before…

The Rainbow:

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This rainbow appeared at just the right time… the first time I needed a huge break from the steepness of the hike. I totally needed to stop and breathe (and not retreat back down to the comfort of a lower altitude, like I desperately wanted to). It was nice to see this beautiful site from way up here. It was my motivator for the rest of the climb. There were actually 2 rainbows, but the other one was nearly gone by the time we pulled out the cameras.

The Hut:

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The hut at the plateau of Castle Mountain is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada and costs $40 per person per night. It seems pricey and it’s cramped, but it’s worth it when you don’t have to climb several hours immediately AFTER  hiking up. It’s also great because it comes equipped with cooking gear, utensils, water, toilet paper, etc, so you don’t have to carry all that ish up (along with the other gear). Totally worth it. The hut consists of two bunk beds, spaced about two feet apart. When we arrived, there were already 2 other couples there, so we had to break out the wood sheets from under the beds to bridge across the top and bottom beds of the two bunks. Now 3 people slept along the top row, and 3 along the bottom row. It’s often been said about the hut: “It sleeps 8, but you wouldn’t want to be one of them.” We were a little cramped with 6 people so I can’t imagine 8, unless you were really good buds with the other 7.

The Throne:

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“This unique structure is a credit to the skill, vision and sense of humour of those who created it.” says the Banff Rock Guidebook. And it’s completely true. They’ve made a toilet at the very edge of this 1,000(ish) foot  cliff, so you can look out onto this vast land and admire its beauty… and relieve your bladder, all at the same time. I’ll admit it was a nice switch from having to squat in the woods, hoping that you’re not near poison oak or peeing on your shoes. My man-friend told me about The Throne long before we planned to climb here and I thought it was hilarious. Here’s “The Throne,” the view from the seat, and a photo I’ll probably regret posting on the internet:

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The best peeing view ever:

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Because I was completely drained and feeling awful from the previous night’s hike and the fact that it was raining and freezing at 5am when we were supposed to start our climb, we chose not to do Brewer’s Buttress. I felt like a total weak-ass coming all this way and not doing the climb, but it’s best to listen to your body when you NEED it to work all day long. Brewer’s Buttress has thirteen pitches, which seemed exhausting. That would take most of the day, along with the descent back out. We opted instead to sleep in, chat up our bunkmates in the morning, practice building trad anchors (for me) and work our way down at a leisurely pace, which only took 2.5 hours! It was an eventful couple days, but I’m glad I did it and looking forward to the next trip!

My handsome Alpine Guide on the descent:

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100 Happy Days: Days 8 – 14

Day 8: Free beverages in airline lounges. 

This insanely good Bloody Mary came from the United lounge in the F terminal at ORD.

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Day 9: Lying in the grass. 

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Day 10: Heading back to Canada to visit my man-friend and his sons.

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Day 11: Not checking a bag.

Carrying-on makes everything easier.

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Day 12: Camping where you don’t have cell service. 

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Day 13: The Ghost Wilderness Area

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Day 14: Tourists.

These guys are taking a tour of Lake Louise in a war canoe. I love that people make it a priority to visit other parts of the world. Almost every person you see at Lake Louise is from another country.

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What are you happy about today?

Keep up with my #100HappyDays on Instagram: FitwithFlash

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100 Happy Days: 1-7

I’ve been doing “Things That Are My Jam” and playing the “Glad Game” for most of my life, but I love the idea of 100 Happy Days. You have to take a photo each day of something that makes you happy. You don’t have to think about any thing or anybody else except YOU. What makes you happy may not be what makes others happy and that’s totally effing awesome.

 

Here are my first 7 days.

1. Floppy dog tongues and Bat Dog ears. (Churchill)

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2. When family members are BEASTS together. When people effing go for it. And sweatbands…

for obvious reasons

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3. Sunrises and sunsets in Kentucky… in the summer.

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4. Babies post-bath. (Henry)

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5. Traveling all over creation. (my trip to Austin, TX)

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6. Good dinner, good drinks, and good company.

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7. Far away friends. (Karley and Michael)

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Life sucks sometimes, but you can’t focus on the bad stuff. Finding a reason to be happy every day can sometimes be what carries you through the rough spots. I encourage everybody to take this challenge. You don’t have to do it on social media, but write it on a sticky note at work. Keep a spreadsheet. Write in a wipe-off board at home or at school. Say it out loud! Acknowledge something you’re happy about every day, for 100 days… and hopefully long after.

You can follow my 100 Happy Days on Instagram: FitwithFlash

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Workout Playlist: Music Roulette

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So if you make a lot of workout playlists, you know it can be fun, but it can also be draining. You want to find tunes that are going to get you (or others) pumped up, motivated, and ready to work up a good sweat. You gotta find good stuff, but it gets annoying always buying new music or searching for new tunes. I was on a flight home from working in Texas and needed to make a new playlist. On the plane though, there’s no internet, so searching for new music just wasn’t going to happen. After looking through my iTunes library though I decided since there are 3000+ songs in there, I could make a playlist with the existing material. I did a random swipe down to see if anything good popped up… and got the idea for a playlist game, “Music Roulette.”

How it works: 

I started at the top of my song library and swiped my mouse trackpad once. Wherever in the library it lands, I have to choose one song from that screen. It shows about 25 – 30 songs at a time, depending on how big the window is, so there’s a bit to choose from. Here’s what my screen looked like:

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I chose Beyonce’s “Check On It.”

Next: After you’ve picked your first song, make 2 swipes and choose a song from that screen. Next song, make 3 swipes and so on. Then 4 swipes, then five, etc. An hour long playlist usually consists of about 16 songs, so the swipes will start covering some major ground on your library. When you hit the bottom of your list (if you do) just start swiping the opposite direction. You could change it up and swipe a new direction after each song you pick. These aren’t “rules” necessarily, just what I did today. You do what you want!

Notes: If you’ve got an entire screen of music that absolutely won’t work (e.g. I’ve got 63 of Edith Piaf’s songs, which are amazing, but not for a workout), you get one free scroll either direction!

Once you’ve got an hour’s worth of songs, then you’re free to put them in whichever order you’d like. I chose 14 “workout” songs and 2 slower “cool-down” songs for stretch time.

Here’s the final product of my Music Roulette:

Try it out and see what you come up with.
Happy Monday! No go get after it.
Be A BEAST!
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