500 Thoughts

hans-peter-gauster-252751-unsplashSometimes the inside of my brain feels like this photo here → 

I seriously have about 500 thoughts running through my head tonight, these being the first few:

  1. At least three blog ideas (actually way more) where I simply need to find the time to write
  2. The packing and prepping for my daughter’s first dance competition of the season, tomorrow, which involves a weekend away and a desperate need to pack healthy snacks so I don’t feel like loser mom for not properly feeding my artist-athlete with a nut allergy
  3. Wondering how our powder room remodel is going, why our front porch is still torn up from some foundation work that needed to be done months ago, and why both of these things are taking longer than expected
  4. Why I hear a clicking noise inside Roxanne (my relatively new Jeep) and whether that’s just marginally annoying and I can live with it or if it’s actually something bigger I need to get looked at
  5. How to “market” myself better professionally internally or externally should it be warranted, and why this is getting more important than ever before
  6. Whether I should be posting/blogging/whatever on LinkedIn and what I should write about if so
  7. Whether I should be posting/blogging/whatever on Yammer which is our internal social media tool at work to “market” myself better professionally with my colleagues
  8. Music I want our little family of five to make for Christmas (a really “out there” idea even they don’t even know I want to do this year but we have the equipment and our own studio to pull it off)
  9. What Christmas gifts and donations are needed for
    • Immediate family
    • Extended family
    • Colleagues, Secret Santa and charitable donations at work
    • Teachers, friends, and charitable donations for our three school kids
    • Church charitable donations
    • Other coaches and teachers for our three kids and
    • Anyone else I’ve forgotten, because yes, there are years I have forgotten and I feel horrible about it
  10. When the shopping for all of the above needs to be done, when I’ll have time to wrap it all and deliver it
  11. How much anxiety I feel about going to CrossFit tomorrow because I have missed quite a bit this last month due to travel
  12. When in the world we’re gonna get a tree or see Santa, and both of those need to happen sooner than later
  13. Whether we will EVER get Christmas lights hung on our house but that depends on when the front porch slab is returned to its proper position and the yellow tape over our front yard is removed so the people hanging lights don’t fall into a foundation hole 8 feet deep
  14. When in the world the front slab of our porch is gonna get returned to its proper position so that UPS and Fedex can deliver packages to our front door, which is gonna happen a lot this month
  15. When I’m gonna get around to cleaning the house, because even though I actually hired someone to help us earlier this year (because, uh, duh: see all the above), she fired US for being slobs, telling us she is not our maid, even though “maid” is literally part of the name of her business: go figure on that one
  16. When I should start planning our trips for 2019, because planning is half the fun for me
  17. When I can start making the small health and behavior changes I learned about after reading The Blue Zones and taking the quiz mentioned in the book, because I have the potential to live healthfully to age 97 if I do
  18. Whether I have enough money saved for retirement to live until 97 (and I think we all know the answer to that one)
  19. Will any of my kids be in a position to take care of me or want to while I live to 97
  20. When in December I can invite every cool woman I know to my house for good wine, delicious food, and laughter
  21. Wait: when are the kids’ Christmas concerts?
  22. Oh shoot: I have no more vacation this year
  23. Whether my oldest understands how to use a planning calendar to stay on top of his assignments and goals
  24. Why am I worried about anything when I’m healthy, we’re happy, and we have everything we need when so many people don’t.
Pretty sure I need a glass of wine.

CrossFit Journal of a Fitness Flunkie

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion since I started CrossFit July 30 of this year, 8 weeks ago. This self-proclaimed Fitness Flunkie is on her way to becoming…wait for it….a Fitness Phenom!

If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve written a couple of posts about the experience so far – right before my first class (Gym Class Jitters), and then again after the very first week (CrossFit New You Review). But neither of those entries really give you a feel for what the journey has been like so far. My Facebook friends know, though.

Yeah, yeah….I know it’s only been eight weeks. Let me take you along for the ride, courtesy of some posts I made at the time.

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July 30 – Day 1 Under my belt. Please send love and support as I sure as heck need it.

PS – CLEARLY this pic was taken before I did anything, given the complete and total absence of sweat. You know my face would glisten within seconds of hearing the word “burpee”.


August 1 – Day 2 of CrossFit New You Challenge and guess what I discovered? I got this!


August 3 – Day 3, and can I tell you I’m loving CrossFit so far? Got my freak on today with burpees, DASL style (those would be my initials which serendipitously spell “dazzle”) , which, for the uninitiated, isn’t anything all that dazzling but it works for me for now!

Michelle is a total bad a$$ coach, teammate Jessica is a goddess, and this chick right here is a freaking queen for getting through it and Week 1.

I got this.


August 13 – Started Week 3, aka Day 7 of 18, in the CrossFit New You Challenge. Practiced our first Olympic lift today, the Hang Power Clean. My cousin was right about the steep (whoa is it steep!) learning curve but as a group we did pretty good tonight. I gotta work on the hip thrust and the “scarecrow” position which requires a bit more strength from the deltoids than I have but I’m completely envious of my coach’s arms so …. #goals. Worked with a 35# bar which was respectable!

I can’t believe how much fun I’m having. Now I laugh that I once thought this was so radical. It’s actually empowering. I feel strong and it feels like I’m getting stronger each day.

Lost 4.5 pounds in two weeks too. That might be because I’m actually tracking calories and trying to target a certain number. I am usually 200 over every day but clearly it must be less than I had been taking in when I didn’t track at all. So…. #bonus.

Drinking tons more water too. Not quite at my target level but easily doubled or tripled what I had been drinking before.

I ❤️ us: my New You Challenge teammates and coach. CrossFit is easily one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.


August 15 – Hear ye, hear ye: I hereby declare August 15 “Bada$$ Beast Mode Day” since I killed it morning, afternoon and night.

Ok, normally I don’t go on about this kinda stuff, but today was flat-out awesome and I just have to share!

Morning: presented to our board of directors on our enterprise risk management program which I run. Killed it. Had our VP of strategy tell me that I exuded fantastic executive presence and confidence, in full command of my subject material and at complete ease answering their questions. Flying high after the whole thing was done. 

Afternoon: prepared a presentation for my coworkers intended to be education and my analysis of 60 privacy laws that we are subject to and my recommendation for how we improve our privacy program and consumer marketing as a result of that analysis, all the while protecting the constituents who count on us to do so. Killed it.

Night: today at CrossFit Day #8, I dead lifted 75 pounds roughly 30 times, jumped rope 160 times, ran 400m, and did some bicep/tricep work…forget what they’re called but I was spent when it was done. Another half pound gone. Better than three weeks ago when I wished I was doing something like this, bettering myself and getting stronger. Killed it.

Beast mode. August 15. Carry on.


August 20 – CrossFit Day 10: today was a tough one for me mentally. We didn’t do an enormous amount of cardio but enough. Man, I hate cardio. My lungs feel like they’re no bigger than a zip-lock snack bag. Why is that? Why has it ALWAYS been like that for me? Will it ever improve? Seems like the answer is a flat no.

We did some weight lifting which was challenging but fun. At least I felt like I could do it. I can feel the muscles in my arms getting stronger.

Not gonna lie: today was the first day in three weeks I didn’t want to go. I’m feeling demoralized about it getting harder. And tell me how one day of eating birthday cake magically added five pounds back on my frame overnight? That ticks me off.

Still, I went. And I got through it. We all did. Here’s to another day.


August 24 – I just finished Week 4 of 6 in the CrossFit New You Challenge. 12 workouts in, at this point. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I never once considered myself an athlete. I am the furthest thing from it. Kinda like how I’m a creative soul trapped inside of an accountant by education…I have capabilities that go unused on a daily basis.

maria-fernanda-gonzalez-461523-unsplashOne of the most surprising things is how I’ve been remarkably upbeat about attending class. There were two days out of the last four weeks I just didn’t want to do this. Not that bad! I’m basically starting from ground zero but to have only two down days this entire time? Put a notch in the win column.


August 29 – You guys: today was pretty challenging. I don’t even remember my workout time. 32 minutes and some odd seconds? Whatever.

At some point toward the end of the burpees, I started to tear up for the first time in this whole challenge, five+ weeks in. 

Coach Michelle was concerned that I wanted to quit, but that wasn’t it. It was more me thinking about how I WANT THIS SO BAD. I want to be fit and strong and flexible. No more excuses. No more “window shopping wishes”.

It’s so hard right now when your body fights everything you ask of it, but at least I can do it. At least I’m healthy and able enough to give this a go. I finished every bit of this workout today.

Ok, so I modified the box jumps. Sure, my bar work isn’t 100% to form, what with my tiny little hands trying to hold all this body weight upright, but I did it.

#dirty30 #goals #newyouchallenge


September 6 – If you had told 10 yo me that 51 yo me would not only hang from a bar AND pay money to do it, she wouldn’t have believed you. She might have cried.

If you had told 21 yo me that it was a chin-up bar and not one that serves beer, she wouldn’t believe it either. But instead of crying, she’d cheer!


September 10 – 😔 You guys… As you know I’ve been hitting the gym for 6 weeks now. I can tell I’m making progress but I don’t SEE it yet and it’s getting me down. Yes, I know it’s only six weeks. Yes, I know it took nearly 20 years of high stress to put it on as I had no outlet for dealing with endless life changes. Yes, I know I have tons of support on this journey, but I’m feeling so crappy right now.

I’m crazy anxious to see progress, a lot of progress, because um, gym photos of me are not the most flattering thing ever and it looks like those will be posted on a fairly routine basis. 😳 Sure, I could untag myself but you guys see me looking like this every day so what’s the point of that?

Really, I monumentally struggle with my looks when I try to clean up and look nice, but to be all red-faced, sweaty, saggy, and uh….LARGE is not fun. I’m embarrassed by my size. I am really embarrassed. I am trying to channel that anger and embarrassment and disappointment in myself into motivation to change. I just don’t know if I can really pull this off, ya know?

What’s needed is a lifetime of sustained effort, and that’s hard to imagine. I’ve never done this before other than a crash diet thing 20 years ago which was not healthy. And the funny thing is I looked fine back then. Being too fat was simply something one of my many bad boyfriends made me feel at the time, but it’s something I’ve carried with me ever since. Kinda like a dagger stuck in my heart…

This is so hard, and I’m so discouraged, but maybe facing this head on with full transparency is what will help. I don’t know. Just feeling pretty weepy right about now.

But, I’m not quitting… I will not quit! That thought hasn’t crossed my mind, at any point so far. I don’t think it will. I don’t think the past six weeks were a total loss, and I know miracles don’t happen in that short of a period of time. Just uuuugh. I want to fast forward a few weeks, or reverse several years.

Sigh….

I am trying my darnedest to apply the determination that I easily apply to every other part of my life to this.

51 is a tough age. It isn’t going to get easier. Hormones are gonna start wrecking things for me pretty soon (TMI? LOL) It drives me crazy when people complain about how old they are or feel. I don’t ever want to complain about that. I am just grateful I am relatively healthy and can do this. I’m determined to do this even though I’ve never been an athlete.

I truly didn’t expect miracles in just six weeks. Logically I know I’m in a pretty good place. Emotionally? Well…yeah. How I wish I had done this a few years ago but that just wouldn’t have been possible. My kids are relatively self-sufficient only now. This is what I get for having two of my three kids in my 40s…not exactly the plan early on in life but they are my world, and I will do everything in my power to be here when they are young adults.

I love the my gym family. They are a huge blessing at a time when I really need it because it is so hard to be a cheerleader for me! I am wracked with self-doubt, all the time. I don’t have these conversations like that with anyone but my husband, and then he tries to cheer me up but I completely ignore every word he says. For a brief moment years ago, I had my act together, and then it all came apart and I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since. I hate surviving. Thriving is where I like to live but it’s been a long, long time since I knew that feeling. I don’t even remember the number of times I have admitted, “It all comes down to diet and exercise…The answer to *everything*: diet and exercise.” Countless conversations like that! Get the diet and exercise right for the body and suddenly the other things mind and soul will fall into place too. I’ve been trying to slam the “soul” puzzle piece into a place where it just doesn’t fit. And the mind piece of the puzzle? Well, I’ve lost that one. Lol

I do know my insides are thanking me. It kills me: I totally know the intellectual side of the argument for working out but vanity is talking and taking over at the moment.

And to think I have a daughter! I am trying to be a good role model for her. Then again, she’s a bit of a role model for me with her dancing… And I know this whole thing is far more about health versus looks but dang it, I want to look and feel good about myself again.

CrossFit will be a tougher haul when it comes to weight loss, but I am on this journey for health, flexibility, and strength reasons too. The social aspects of CrossFit are a HUGE bonus I didn’t expect at all. I thought it was a decent possibility at this particular gym (it sure looked like people loved it) but it’s over the top awesome.

I do feel good about my ability to stick with it this time…I just need to get over an immediate hump. The first photo where I don’t look like I have for years will be an incredible win. Then again, two people at work said something to me this week, so apparently I’m finally moving the needle.

Nevertheless, my “why” is bigger than physical look alone. I’m impressed with friends who have made changes of their own, taking charge and going after EXACTLY what they want and getting it. They are such a huge inspiration and I thank them for sharing their victories along the way.

No way am I giving up. I’m very fortunate to be relatively healthy such that I can pull this off. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am, even as I think about people I know dealing with cancer or diabetes diagnoses and other very serious health issues.

I am proud I gave this a go as it was THE most radical thing I could think of. Can’t play it safe any longer. Life is too short for that. And yes, I’m getting a lot of “shocked and awed” responses when I mention I started CrossFit. It is pretty radical but it’s also way more doable that I ever imagined. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can.

I do feel different, and I’ve had a few of the most crazy productive days at work over the last month..tackling stuff that is intricate – complex – and I feel like I’m killing it. It’s been a long time since I felt that way professionally, so I take that as a NSV (non-scale victory).

I try hard not to compare myself with others. I’m a pretty different kinda chick so that isn’t a meaningful comparison, for starters. I have adhered to the belief that I compete with no one but myself, which is why living the way I have up until this has been particularly tough for me. I was better than my current physical condition many yesterdays ago.

September 24 – Today marks eight weeks I’ve been giving this a go. And you know what? The workouts are starting to get easier. I can’t believe it. I threw more weight on the barbell and I don’t think it was enough. I was almost able to get full depth in my back squat! Wha????  

That’s CRAZY. All this in eight, short weeks? While I still can’t do a full-fledged pull-up, I can mimic the motion and I can do 15 at a time with a small break in between. It doesn’t kill my hands either. Am I actually getting stronger? This is absolutely crazy.

I love it. I’m down almost 10 pounds and people at church who only see me once a week are starting to comment on my progress. I appreciate the outpouring of encouragement. And I can’t wait to go back.

bruno-nascimento-149663-unsplashIt’s almost to the point where three days a week isn’t enough for me. I can’t wait for 6am Wednesday morning for my next class.

Wha???? Did I say that? I’m not even a morning person.

#bonus #onmyway #staytuned

 

Photo credits: kettlebell – Maria Fernanda Gonzalez and shoes – Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash.com

 

2018 Check-in

charles-deluvio-651962-unsplashRight around the start of the year I wrote about my intentions for 2018.  Blink your eyes, and somehow it’s already June! Gretchen Rubin is credited with saying,

“The days are long but the years are short.”

Although she was talking about child-raising, I suspect this is a truth we all come to realize with time. Don’t ask me where the days go, but I can tell you this: they will zoom past us whether or not we pay attention, whether or not we live deliberately.

That said, I have always tried to live deliberately. And the universe laughs at me because I think I do, but you learn a few life lessons along the way that show you how you haven’t been doing that. Life events with life-long repercussions have a way of shocking you out of complacency. That’s life events, plural.

GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT. It doesn’t get hand-delivered to you because you’re entitled to it…it doesn’t happen because you’re a nice person or whatever. It always involves effort. Often times more than you want to give, or more than you think you should have to give. It’s the universe’s way of testing you to see how bad you want it.

Trust me: don’t tempt the universe on this. Don’t tell yourself, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” You’re being too passive. And sometimes the doors of opportunity shut permanently. The point is, I would coach every single soul to embrace and enjoy as much of life as you can. Most times – most times – you get one chance. You get other chances if you’re damn lucky. Most of us aren’t that lucky. Again: GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT.

Sooooo easy to say. Much harder to do!

So now’s as good a time as any to take stock of how well I’m faring with respect to my intentions. My rationale is that just enough time has passed that, if you were serious about your intentions, some real progress may have occurred and you can celebrate and double down on your efforts. And if you weren’t really serious, then you have a chance to reaffirm your intentions. There’s plenty of bulk left to the year, if you’re one to align your personal clock to the calendar, to reach your goals.

It also gives you good opportunity to determine whether the goals you set for yourself still resonate with you or even better, decide if there’s something new that has tugged at your heartstrings.

Yep, as good a time as any to check in.

My three big themes this year were breathe, nest, and connect. I’m feeling pretty good about them today.


tim-goedhart-334149-unsplashBreathe – this was my shorthand for focusing on health, everything and anything health-related including those things to help manage stress a little better. Good news to report: I have lots of positive momentum here.

For starters I write in a gratitude journal every day, where I pick out three things big or small to be thankful for. Frankly it’s become really easy to do. We practice this with the kids too…we ask them to name four things they are grateful for every time we hold our weekly family meeting and it’s likewise become very easy for them to rattle them off, even if all they do is thank someone else in the family for something. I hope this is a habit that sticks with them forever.

So while it’s easy to come up with things I’m grateful for, what I really wish was for a way to block negative thoughts from entering my head in the first place or a way to release them in some kind of effective way. I totally get that’s what meditation is supposed to do for you, and it’s true that meditation has helped. I am now able to immediately identify when a thought is negative…it’s just the volume of those thoughts is astounding!

I still spend entirely too much time dwelling on negative thoughts, especially heartbreaking things from the past I simply cannot change. It’s like I’m kidding myself into thinking that if I dwell on something long enough, I’ll recognize when I face a similar crossroads so I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

Time and perspective has shown me that you don’t always know when you’re at a crossroads and faced with a choice or a decision point. Sometimes I just want to go back in time and make different choices, and well, needless to say that’s not an option.

Wasn’t it Einstein who explained in his relativity theory that time is a construct that is relative to us being on this planet? And wasn’t it Donald Neale Walsch who said that everything that has ever happened, and ever will happen, including right now is all happening NOW (a certain way of explaining time from God’s perspective) and this explains why we have deja vu moments, because we have already lived out certain scenarios? Maybe just maybe me dwelling on things from the past make sense because then IS now as is tomorrow.

Eh….I’m not a very good part-time philosopher, am I? Now I’m just making excuses for behavior that isn’t all that productive. Even still, that’s a bump on the road of breathing….maybe a permanent speed bump but still a bump.

Slowly but surely I am changing the way I eat to something that resembles a bit more paleo. Everything and anything processed and sweet isn’t appealing, period. I drink far more water now. I’ve cut the soda, drink decaffeinated tea and I often skip the added sweeteners. Even those days when you just can’t pull together a meal for the kids in between all their functions and you make the quick McDonald’s run? I can’t eat the food anymore. It’s always gross. It’s never worth it.

I’ve started walking almost daily and I’m trying to stand at my desk versus sitting since sitting is the new smoking. I’ve picked up yoga again and feel myself getting stronger. It feels like I gave myself a massage when I do yoga. It simply feels fantastic to move.

The good news is I can’t go back to my old habits. The needed shift has happened.

Over the last several months I have had a standard nighttime routine that prepares me for bed, a little ritual where I properly cleanse and nourish my skin. Being blessed with good skin forever, it wasn’t something I took much time to bother with but now I’m older and know I need a boost. It’s working…my skin is glowing and I even think some the fine lines and wrinkles are a little less pronounced.

So while that’s all good, the whole nighttime skin care routine has become this ritual that helps me in other ways. The process is long and short enough to put me into sleep mode somewhat quickly. Don’t all the parenting books talk about rituals like that with your kids to signal a shift in their body? Why wouldn’t we do the same?

I have taken to reading real books before I nod off, or if I really must check my devices, I use “night shift”, a cool feature that blocks the blue light. And for a few months now, I have successfully powered down all the electronic devices in the room and make my husband do the same so we both sleep without the electromagnetic radiation. I even sometimes diffuse essential oils. It’s made a huge difference. I feel well rested in the morning and my eyes pop open around 5:30 or 6am, no problem. I can’t tell you what a huge win this has been for the quality of my sleep.

Granted my focus on health and success with it could be a combination of many things moving in the right direction, like the deliberate combination of vitamins I take each morning to supplement my diet, but I am well rested with plenty of energy to get through the day. It’s become easy. When in the world did all of this suddenly click to become easy?

I’ve even cut back on unnecessary purchases like new clothes. You may ask what this has to do with breathing, but this is just another form of stress management. Who needs the drain on finances, not to mention the bustle of shopping and returns, etc. when you go overboard? It’s so easy to go overboard.

I love fashion, it’s true, but I have a wardrobe I’m relatively happy with. I’m really just trying to save money for when I actually need new, smaller clothes. I have a vision for myself which involves me being lithe and strong. Once upon a time I used to be a tiny girl, but whatever strength I thought I had in me was in my head, not in my muscles! This will change. I can feel it.

Every password I’ve created this year has had something to do with health…and I made one of those My Intent bracelets with “Choose Health” as the mantra. It’s working.  I’m pointing everything I am toward my own personal, health-focused north star.

If you can’t tell, I can dissect the goal to “breathe” and the focus on health 1000 different ways. It’s only taken me half a century to figure that stuff out but…I’m a late bloomer on certain things.

And just to punctuate the conversation, I actually sat down the other evening to watch the final game of the NBA playoff. The Cleveland Cavaliers were playing, we live in the Cleveland metro area, and even though I had a feeling the Warriors were going to sweep the championship, it still felt like the right thing to support the team. I almost never watch TV otherwise.

But there it was: a commercial for a local assisted-living facility. It was supposed to be a happy, uplifting spot featuring these senior citizens enjoying themselves where they lived, listening to someone play piano, playing board games, and whatever. All I saw were frail old grannies and it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: I don’t want that for my future. I don’t want to be frail, hunched over, living in a tiny bedroom of a place with a bunch of people I don’t know when I’m in my elder years. Uh, no. I want to be Ernestine Shepherd…

I even have a fitness journal that I started writing in every day. It forces me to dissect my excuses, identify my role models, plan how I want to move through the day, and examine what I appreciate about the journey. It was such a tiny change to adopt but now I’m hooked. It was the accountability partner I needed.


landon-martin-269065-unsplashNest – No kidding, I finished remodeling our laundry room last month and the strangest thing has happened since then: I now have a ton of free time on my hands. Let me explain: it wasn’t like I spent every spare moment of my day for the last five years working on that room. But mentally? I was thinking about it constantly. So now that it’s done, is that why I feel I have a ton of free time?

This weird phenomenon started in May which is usually a month of total overload, “mayhem” some of us moms call it with all of the end-of-school events and birthdays for two of my kids. Once that laundry room was put together, I suddenly had what felt like hours available to me in the evenings to dedicate to the day’s activities.  I am struggling to understand how my evening and weekend hours stretch out before me and feel as though they pass at half the pace they used to.

It’s possible that all this happened because I have stopped watching the news. No lie, I’d come downstairs each morning and my husband would have “Morning Joe” broadcasting on the TV…every single day another outrageous story would emerge from the White House and the anchors would dissect every last angle. I told him it had to stop. It consistently washed a wave of anxiety over me every single morning to start my day. I have become so infuriated, I’ve actually become numb. I just can’t listen to outrage day after day. Was that it? Is this why so much calm has overtaken me? I like to be informed as much as the next guy and I admire my husband’s interest in politics – I’ve even become more attuned to what is happening than even he is at this point – but I also think we have a right to serenity in the home.

Or all this free time – which can be channeled into home improvement, or nesting – is it now available to me because the mental or physical chaos of an unfinished laundry room is past? I don’t get it. But now that the laundry room is fully functional not to mention CUTE, I’m operating like a well oiled machine.

I wanted to plant flowers for our front porch. Boom! It was done within the space of an hour including shopping for what I wanted and cleanup. I wanted to re-stain our family room cabinets and mantel. Boom! Done. What in the world has happened?

This is encouraging. You see I do have a whole backlog of home projects to work on, much, much smaller items than tackling the laundry room, and while I haven’t made a dent in them, I know I’ll get to them. Our house will be cozy and beautiful and functional like I want it to be. I love home renovation and decoration…I love returning things to their former beauty, or sprinkling beauty in spaces that weren’t, until the magic happens. I miss the time I used to spend on home renovation. The good news is I have seven more months of the year to make good on the remaining goals here. But no matter how much or how little I get done at this point? It’s all good.


pavan-trikutam-1660-unsplashConnect – Although writing this blog and reading more substantive books are smaller steps I’m taking to strengthen my connection to people and spirit, my biggest goal here was to connect far more on a social level with people whose company I enjoy. To be honest, this has been really difficult for me as I battle some social anxiety demons on a regular basis.

But I’ve made good on my efforts. That list of 20+ of the most important people in my life, people that have been huge, positive influences, has been drawn up and I started reaching out to the ones at the top of the list, the ones I have had the least contact with over the years. I’m only about 25% through the list, working my way down to the folks I talk to or see relatively more frequently, but I’m making progress. I am blown away by how emotionally satisfying it has been to go through this process even if the results aren’t always what I envisioned. Most of the time, the results are better than I expected.

It has been downright frightening to conduct this outreach, for fear of it being awkward after all these years. I wondered whether my efforts were silly and fruitless. I wrote to one of my friends and just poured my heart out to her. I heard from her in response. We’ve traded voicemails so far and while her message back to me was short, it seems like she received the letter favorably. We haven’t had a chance to chat as she’s in the midst of a major move and job change, and it may be several weeks before we do. I don’t know if she quite understands just how much I bared my soul in that note, or if our friendship will ever be reinstated to the status it once had, but the fact is I did it: I stuck my neck out, I was vulnerable and just told her what was in my heart….how much I admire and love her, how I wish I had been there for her when she needed a friend the most, how I will always cherish her, and I’ll miss her now that she’s moved.

We’ve hosted a couple of picnics at our house over the last month too. I used to throw parties a few times a year – the more people the merrier – but I haven’t been as open to having people at the house. For years the kids were small, I couldn’t keep up with the housekeeping, our entire home was a toy box, and I was too exhausted to play hostess. It’s gotten better. The nesting has been a deliberate attempt to make our home look a little more put together and elegant, the way I always wanted it to be, and the breathing has restored my energy levels to enable more connecting.

One of the picnics was a neighborhood picnic – I traversed the neighborhood with an invitation to 30 houses and we ended up hosting nine families. Our neighborhood is a little bit older and many of the people have lived here for 30-40 years and their kids have grown and moved on. Some of the houses are turning with a few younger families here and there. Even still, many of the neighbors didn’t know each other. Everyone was so appreciative of the opportunity to gather and break bread. One elderly couple was THRILLED to be invited over. They were charming and gracious and lovely, lovely people. It warms my heart that we played our part to foster a sense of community.

Don’t we all need a stronger sense of community? Yes. Yes, we do.

It’s been heartwarming in every sense to see positive things come out of my efforts to connect. It makes me wonder why I was scared to do it. It seems so silly now. But I’ll tell you this:

I’ve learned, over and over again, that some of the things you want most in life live on the other side of your fear.


Now that it is mid-way through the year, I have to admit I haven’t given a ton of thought to course corrections. If anything, it’s time to step on the accelerator for each of my big goals. I like what I’ve done and the plans I set out. It’s simply time to ramp it up.  I can’t say I went into the year wanting to be Ernestine, but I do now. I have a visual to latch onto.

nathan-dumlao-592018-unsplashIf there was one thing I would add to my list without fear of losing my focus, maybe it would be Create. The artist in me is screaming to create. Maybe that means more singing, writing, hosting gatherings that foster connection, painting, decorating… I don’t know how it will manifest itself, but you’ll hear about it here.

What about you? Did you set goals for yourself and have you checked in? Did this post give you something to think about? It’s never too late to start.

Here’s to the dreamers and go-getters…

 

Photo credits from Unsplash.com, in order of appearance: Charles Deluvio, Tim Goedhart, Landon Martin, Pavan Trikutam, and Nathan Dumlao.

 

 

#3 Reboot My Face, Body & Overall Health

To continue the series on my 2017 resolutions, I will address #3, the “reboot”. This is huge. This something I’ve been in denial about for several years, and put on the back burner for just as many. Talk about layers to unravel. Where do I even begin to dissect this one?

I’ve been working on  for 26 years so I know a thing or two about rebooting. The good ol’ Ctrl-Alt-Del. Too many tabs open, programs hanging endlessly, and sometimes the dreaded blue screen of death? Just reboot and start fresh. That seemed the appropriate thing to do when it comes to the physical aspect of me.

Do I take pride in my appearance? Yes. Do I try to look my best? Yes. Should I look my best for the professional role I’m in? Absolutely!

Do I? Eh.

See, I am not a frou-frou, high heels, perfectly-manicured-nails kinda chick. I have gone years in a row with bad haircuts as I struggled to find someone who knew what to do with my goofy hair. I’m not an athlete. I don’t naturally love sports, running, swimming, or any of that. And nutrition is not something that was well understood in my house growing up, nor did I think for the longest time that it was something I had to pay any attention to. I figured that my strengths were in all sorts of other places, so for sure, nutrition didn’t have to be something for me to master.

Man, I have been wrong on all counts.

We really are body, mind, and soul, and it doesn’t make help to focus exclusively on the latter two without caring for the chassis that holds them both for now. It is essential to focus on the body just as much.

Starting at the top, not to mention the fact that if you’re like me, you stare in the mirror to start your every day, I took a good, hard look at my skin. For most of my life, I never had to do much to take care of it. It was always pretty good, and I inherited some killer genes from mom. But it starts to show when you do virtually nothing after 50 years.

I guess you could say that problems arose around my first pregnancy when I started dealing with rosacea. Who knows if it was due to hormonal changes or just an accumulation of bad habits, but that’s when I first noticed the mild flair ups. It’s been a battle trying to calm it down. I finally resorted to wearing foundation to cover it up and it took me a few years to find something that I liked.

A coworker of mine was selling Rodan + Fields, which I had never heard of until about a year ago, and I wasn’t interested at first. I politely turned her down more than a few times. But man, I would see her at work and her face was GLOWING. I mean, absolutely radiant. And she’d tell me she wasn’t wearing anything but eye makeup. Huh.

And there’d be days I’d be too lazy to wipe off my eye makeup at the end of the night. I’d roll outta bed in the morning with my crazy short hair pointing in every direction and lo and behold! It was like Keith Richards was staring back at me in the mirror. Dang. Yep, maybe it was time to “up” the old beauty routine.

Fast forward: not only do I use it, I’m selling it now. I’m just starting out but this stuff is the real deal. And being that I was never really the girlie girl type, I figure it can’t hurt for me to invest in the one good beauty asset I have always had. And if this gives me a way to connect with other women in a way that makes them feel good in their own skin, or even helps them with a side hustle, then I figure I’m meeting a couple of my goals.  Check it out: https://dlouie.myrandf.com.

A little over a year ago I finally took the plunge and got Invisalign braces and I’m into the final stretch…I may be done with the process in December. Couple all that with the new shorter haircut and going back to my original brunette, and I’m making over everything on the outside above the neck. This is very out of character for me. I’ve been all about everything on the inside of my head, not the outside. Still, I’m feeling good about these changes and happy with the overall effect.

patrick-hendry-45138Now working on the old bod, has been tougher, a life long challenge, actually. All year I’ve been reading a ton about health, controlling my stress through mediation and walking, boosting my immune system, taking supplements to replenish where I’m deficient so I get heal my adrenals, get my energy levels back up, slowly getting back into yoga, cutting back on my caffeine, trying but failing to reduce my sugar intake, and looking into the very promising ketogenic way of eating. Maybe more on keto in another post another time.

See, I could count on getting fairly sick every single year, my immune system was so low, and the stress of my job only made it worse. I pretended like I could handle it but my body was showing the world otherwise. Life is gym class: I wish I had realized that when I was small and learned to embrace movement and health right away. I mistakenly believed that, ok, good nutrition and physical movement just happened to be the things I didn’t do well. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses, and the fact that I haven’t mastered healthy living just happened to be my weakness. No biggie. 50 years later, this faulty way of thinking is catching up to me, and frankly, I want to be healthy, strong, and vital (to borrow a phrase from my friend Dr. Vonda Wright) well into my senior years.

Did I accomplish all I wanted to do with this resolution? No. This is likely a repeat candidate for 2018 but maybe with a slightly narrower focus to increase the chances of success. Still, I look back at what I set out to change this year, and I am pleased with the progress made.