Letting Go...Embracing Change...

Living the Life I Dream

Twenty-Four for Forty-Eight

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Twenty-Four for Forty-Eight

In honor of my forty-eighth birthday, here’s a list of twenty-four things you probably don’t know about me. Yes, it’s a bit self-indulgent. I hope it’s not too boring. I would LOVE it if you would leave at least one fact about yourself that most people don’t know in the comments below. Consider it your birthday gift to me.

1. See Seven States…I have lived in seven different states: Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, California, and Georgia, and one foreign country: Japan.

2. Love At First Sight…The first artist I fell in love with was Vincent Van Gogh. I was six. His self-portrait sans ear hung over the blackboard in my first grade classroom. I would stare at it anytime I wasn’t trying to sound out words or learning to add and subtract.

3. Veni, Vidi, Vici…I majored in Art History in college and minored in psychology. I blame VanGogh.

4. Four…My favorite number is four. I also like forty-four (two fours in one number) and sixteen (four times four).

5. What?…My father’s childhood nickname for me was “snake.” He called my brother “frog.” He dubbed my nieces “moose” and “goose.” I think “moose” and I got the best nicknames.

6. It’s a Family Tradition…My nicknames for my children are “prince,” princess,” and “doodle-bug.” My husband is “honey-bunny.’ The dogs are dubbed “the bone,” “goose,” and “fleo.” The new dog is the “fox.”

7. I Wear Black on the Outside…I wear black a lot. I also prefer dresses to just about any other type of clothing and wear them as often as I can. I don’t wear prints that much, especially big ones. Big prints make my head look small. It’s really creepy.

8. Random Facts…I was born in the Chinese year of the snake and my element is water. I’m a Pisces. My spirit animal is the wolf. I feel led by the bear. I have no idea what any of this really means.

9.  My Soft Place to Land…I met my husband in August of 1988. He told me he loved me on September 11, 1988, he asked me to marry him on October 11, 1988, and we got married on November 11, 1988. We are celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary this year.

10. Blooming Bravery…My favorite flower is the daffodil. There are two reasons for this. One: they bloom right around my birthday in early March. Two: I think they are extremely brave to venture out when the weather is still so unpredictable.

11. Jackpot…I once dreamed that I won $160 million in the lottery. My husband has bought a lottery ticket just about every week since. We haven’t won. Maybe, I should buy the next ticket.

12. Oh, No. Not again!…To the eternal embarrassment of my children, I cry in art museums. They beg me not to and I promise I won’t and then I turn the corner and I’m standing in front of the work of one of my hero’s and the tears flow. It’s really a problem.

13. Biggest Fail …I’ve never been to Europe to see all the art I studied. I find this eternally grievous. When I finally go, I plan to visit all the amazing works I love. I’m sure I will cry, a lot.

14. Talk to Me…I love nothing better than a good story. I read constantly but prefer to sit and listen to yarns as they are being spun.

15. ROOOOOXAAAANE….When my kids were little and would start getting whiney in a store, I would belt out the song “Roxanne” by the Police at the top of my lungs. I wouldn’t stop singing until they started behaving. After the first couple of times, I rarely got past the first word before I had the compliance I needed to finish my shopping with three well-behaved children in tow.

16. Mama Mia!…When I was in grade school, I lived in Kingston, NY in a neighborhood that was populated by first and second generation Roman Catholic Italians. My parents were non-practicing protestants from the South. Our new neighbors didn’t care. We were completely and lovingly embraced in spite of our funny accents and different views. It was a great place to be a kid and I have wonderful memories of those years and the amazing families who loved us.

17. My Brush…I talked to both Isaac Asimov and Ralph Nader on the phone. Isaac was lovely and extremely kind. Ralph was to the point and asked me a lot of questions.

18. I’m Not Shy…I’m an introvert. What this means is that I need to spend some time alone everyday to recharge. It also means I’m not big on small talk and will choose to remain quiet unless I can add something meaningful to the conversation.

19.“Let the Wild Rumpus Start!”…My favorite books are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupéry, and A Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis.

20. No Pain, No Gain…I delivered all three of my children without the benefit of an epidural. The idea of not being able to move the entire lower part of my body freaked me out way more than the idea of labor pain.

21. I Left My Heart…While there are things about the East Coast I adore (luke-warm water beaches, forests, Atlanta, and New York City), I really love California and miss living there.

22. Hope It NEVER happens…If my husband ever leaves me for a younger woman and I’m thrown back out into the world of being single and some gentleman comes calling with the intention of wooing me, I will ask him the following questions: 1. Are you currently married? 2. Who did you vote for in 2008? 3. What is your primary source of news? 4. Are you a cat or a dog person or neither? 5. What do you think happens to us when we die? I think every single person should have thier own set of questions. It would save a lot of time and heartache.

23. Keep Moving…I love nothing better than taking a long walk or long run. Doesn’t matter where (city street or wooded trail). As long as I’m moving forward, I’m happy.

24. Past Lives…I have no way of knowing if the whole past life thing is true or not, but if it is, I’m pretty sure I spent most of mine in England as a dude.

Now it’s your turn…please, tell me something that I probably don’t know about you in the comments below. You can use a pseudonym if you’re feeling shy.

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“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

I realized sometime last summer that I have a bit of a block (understatement of the year) when it comes to articulating my dreams for my future. Sometimes it’s a matter of clarity. Other times it’s a matter of feeling worthy of what I want. Either way, I was stumbling in circles with no nerve when it came to stating them out loud.

As you know, I write. I share my experiences on this website. On my own, I jot down thoughts and feelings and ideas that are for me alone. Writing gives shape and clarity to what I’m currently going through. When I tried to use writing to project what I wanted to happen in my future, it just didn’t work. It felt contrived at best and like flat out fantasy at worst. I felt extremely disconnected from the process.

In other attempts to map out my future, I’ve talked to close friends and trusted advisors. In all these cases, they were nothing less than loving and supportive. It didn’t matter. I just felt stifled and stupid as I shared various ideas.

As summer turned to fall, I began to think about vision boards (also known as dream or action boards). Yes, I know the concept has been around forever. Like you, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how amazing and insightful they are. My friend Holly wrote about the ones she made (sadly, she’s taken her amazing website down), so I called her up and asked her to explain just how this vision board thing worked.

Holly said she had made vision boards around various “themes” such as her career aspirations or particular experiences she wanted to have. She also had a vision board that was random unrelated items that would make her life better such as having a maid or getting a new car.

At the time, the “theme” idea was too scary for me to even attempt. However, the idea of having a maid was appealing, so I printed out a photo of a maid and pasted it on a piece of poster board. For the next few months, anytime I would think of something I wanted I would print and paste it on my board.

Even though I had been pasting down random pictures of maids and Venice and elephants for the past few months, I still felt a lot of resistance. I realized that I could continue to circle the drain on this whole articulating my future thing or I could just be brave. I decided to be brave.

As 2012 drew to an end, a couple of close friends of mine and I acknowledged the value we garnered from time spent together. We made a vow that we would nurture the friendship by hanging out at least once a month for a meal and some type of planned activity. Without thinking, I agreed to host January and suggested we all make vision boards. My friends liked the idea. It was set.

Now that I was on the stick for creating a successful event, I got serious about the whole vision board thing. I read a few articles on the internet. I gathered up magazines (thanks to everyone who donated), bought supplies, planned the menu, and thought a lot about how to make this vision board idea work. I decided that I really needed to delve in deep, so I purchased a oversized sketch book to have multiple pages to paste the images I chose.

Since one of my goals for this year is generating more income, I decided this would be the theme of my first vision page. While my friends cut out images and words that had meaning to them, I cut out numbers and dollar signs and pictures that represented how it would feel to make more money. I dutifully pasted them on a page of my vision book.

As we worked, we shared words and quotes with each other and talked about how different photos made us feel. At the end of the night, we all felt like we had barely gotten started. Calendars were checked, families consulted, and a date was set for a second vision session the following week.

Everyone came away from the experience feeling like it was time well spent. Both Pam and Jennifer decided to choose images that resonated strongly with them and to allow time to reveal what each of their boards mean. I stuck to my themes. After filling several pages with income images, I’ve moved on to other themed pages such as family, friends, fitness, fun. Since that night, my vision book sits on my desk and every now and then when I have the inclination, I attach a few more images.

I’ve heard stories of people sticking a photo of Oprah on their boards only to find themselves on her show or of pasting a particular house on the board and finding themselves living in it long after the board had been forgotten. I’m open to having that kind of thing happen to me as well. It makes me very careful about what I choose to paste.

The larger benefit for me though has been in stating what I want my future to look like. I may not be able to say it or write it but I’m finding that as a clip and stick, form and shape and clarity are coming into my life. It’s bringing up various long buried feelings which gives me the opportunity to address them as they surface. My vision book is also giving me focus and informing the decisions I make in my everyday life. I find I spend more time working towards those things I’m thoughtfully pasting down. I also feel a lot less apologetic for wanting what I want.

If you’ve made a vision board, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Please leave a comment below. If you’re interested in making a vision board, I’ve included a few links to get you started.

Martha Beck, the queen of vision boards.

Pam Slim’s take on vision boards.

A step by step guide from Christine Kane.

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Impatiently Plodding Forward

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Impatiently Plodding Forward

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius

When I run a 5k the first mile is always easy. The excitement of the start, the mass of people around me, the promise of what I hope will be a good race, propels me forward. All I have to do is control the pace that first mile, so I have enough energy to finish strong.

Somewhere between miles one and two, things get bad. Body parts start to hurt and my ego’s like, “dude, why don’t you pull over, grab a latte, and stop this nonsense.” I have to work hard just to keep my body moving.

Around mile two, what I’ve dubbed my crazy gene takes control. At this point, it would take a pack of rabid ninjas to get me to quit running. Pain, discomfort, and all feelings of stopping rapidly recede as I train my focus on dragging myself across the finish line, no matter what.

Since starting this goal setting thing, I know the key to making it work is keeping my ego in check. Even though I’ve kept a goal list to keep myself on track, I decided a two month review to get a big picture overview of my progress was in order. Chris Guillebeau, does an annual review where he asks himself two questions:

          What went well this year?
          What did not go well this year?

I really like Chris’ questions, so using them here goes….

What has gone well so far this year?

Generating income is going well. I have a J-O-B working with people I really like and respect. I show up five days a week, six hours a day, and two times monthly they deposit money in my checking account. This makes me happy.

Paying off debt and building our savings back up is also going well. Even with the holidays, a costly repair to the van, and some significant pet expenses, we’ve been able to whittle down some of those pesky bills.

I went on a week long silent retreat. It was a much needed time of rest and reflection.

While strength training is kicking my butt, it is going well. I’ve stuck to a schedule of two work outs per week.

I made spending time with family and friends a priority and have spent focused time with my spouse, kids, and close friends. When someone asks for my attention, I do my best to give it.

Instead of going it alone, I’ve reached out to others for advice and help. It’s making a big difference.

What is not going well so far this year?

Sleep is not going well. I got horribly off schedule over the holidays and am still struggling to get enough rest each night. The net of this is that I’m tired during the day which of course effects everything else I’m doing.

Writing is not going well. Yes, I’ve continued to post weekly essays on my website, but very little other writing is getting done.

In spite of my overall fitness efforts, I’m not making progress as quickly as I want and this disappoints me.

Several side projects I’m working on are not progressing. My J-O-B and lack of sleep are hindering my ability to focus and get things done in my limited free time. Conflicting schedules makes it difficult to meet with people. This frustrates me to no end.

Self-care is not going well. I’m tired. I’m busy. Taking care of myself often gets shifted to the back burner.

For the next two months…

I’m remaining focused on generating income, paying bills, and socking away more savings.

I plan to continue to work with this wonky sleep issue. I’ve started drinking chamomile tea at night and am using a Blue-Lite in the morning in the hopes that this will help. In the meantime, I will be easy with myself.

I’m going to continue to write and post weekly on this site but will put other writing projects on hold for the short term.

I’m adding one weekly strength training session, three weekly stretching sessions, and increasing my daily cardio.

I’m making work on my “side” projects a priority and will focus my extra time and attention on them.

I’m choosing one self-care/stress relief routine from my tool-box and am implementing it daily.

Moving Forward

In the past, I would set goals for myself. Sadly, after a couple of weeks my goals would get shuffled around and lost in the busyness of day to day living. I’m trying to avoid that this time by talking to my accountability partner, writing down and tracking what I’m doing, reflecting on what has happened, and retooling as needed.

I’m impatient. I often feel like I’m not making any progress. Since asking myself these questions, I can see the tiny gains I’ve made and feel a teeny bit better. I just have to push through this middle part and make it to mile two and hope that the crazy gene kicks in before the ninjas show up. Then I’ll be ok to the finish.

What goals are you working on this year and what strategies do you use to stay on track? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share in the comments below. If you’re feeling shy you know you can, pm me.

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Healthy Living Isn’t Enough

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Healthy Living Isn’t Enough

I didn’t like what I saw, I knew I wouldn’t. When I started on this quest to be healthier, I threw out the scale, literally. I turned my head at the doctor’s office. I really didn’t want to know. I had made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t worry about my weight. I would just worry about being as healthy as I could.

Over these past two plus years, I have made so many changes. I eat eight or more servings of fruits and veggies daily. I gave up Coke Zero and eat a lot less junk and fast food. I work out more consistently running, walking, and using weights. I buy organic whenever I can and have green juice or a smoothie every single day. I put lemon in my water and cinnamon in my decaf. I stretch and take my vitamins. I have eliminated almost all of the dairy and gluten from my diet. Oh, and I drink so much water, all of it filtered, of course.

I’m glad I’ve made these changes. I feel better. I have more energy. I ran a half marathon, for heaven’s sake. It hasn’t all been for nothing. Still with all these positive changes, I didn’t feel like I was loosing weight. My jeans were a bit tighter, so I bought a new scale, stepped on, and learned that after two plus years of healthy living I had actually gained weight. I’m pretty sure it’s not muscle weight. Frustrating.

I know I’m “older.” I know it’s harder for us “older” ladies to drop weight. I get that. I don’t really have a lot of weight to loose. In the grand scheme of things, if I stayed this weight for the rest of my life I would be fine. Really, I would. It’s just that I don’t want to be fine, I want to power into the second half of my life fit and energetic. I have stuff to do.

As all these thoughts swirled in my head, I realized that if I wanted to really get fit I’d have to stop playing around. Being healthy is great and good and I need to commend myself for all the hard work I’ve done over the past couple of years. But being fit, really fit? That obviously was going to take a whole other level of commitment.

I’ve read a plethora of books on health, diet, and fitness. I’ve spent way too much time trolling fitness sites. I’ve experimented. I had to admit that in spite of my efforts, I was missing something. I needed help. So, when a former work colleague, Mary Weaver, offered an online program titled Take Off Twenty Pounds, I decided to give it a try. She promised to offer tips specifically for the over forty set, a group of which I’m a part.

I had confidence that if anyone could cut through the clutter, it was Mary. Back in the day, when I was a punky college kid eating Krispy Kremes and drinking Coke like it was water, Mary was hitting the gym and tweaking her diet as she prepared for fitness competitions. Over the years, while I was having babies and praying for a decent nights sleep, Mary was earning certifications and coaching others to achieve the fitness results she had achieved.

As I worked through her materials, I learned that many of the changes I had made were spot on. According to Mary, for the most part, I was on the right track. As I further contemplated my situation; however,  in light of what Mary was teaching me, I finally came to a sad, sad conclusion.

If I feel anxious, I eat a handful of baby carrots. Whenever I’m stressed out, it’s almonds. If I want to avoid that stack of paperwork, I’ll have a sliced apple and nut butter instead.  Whenever I’m feeling a little sad or blue, a banana will ease my pain. If I’m irritated, aggravated, frustrated, then grapes will make it better. I had no choice but to admit the truth of the matter which is I’m eating my feelings.

According to Mary, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie and even though the calories I’m consuming come mostly from good healthy choices, at the end of the day, it’s just too many. So while I’ve been amping up my energy and bathing my cells in antioxidants, I’ve also been packing on pounds that I just don’t need. Sigh.

Having to admit this sucks, but the only way we can fix ANY problem is to open up our mouths and say what’s wrong, what’s bothering us, and what needs to be fixed…OUT loud. Sure, I could be coy and cute. I could blame my hormones or lack of sleep and some people would buy it hook, line, and sinker.  I could put on a billowy dress and sashay around the room and tell jokes to prevent people from counting my rolls of chub, but masking and distracting doesn’t make the problem go away.

If I learned anything in the past two years it’s this: ignore a problem and it’s just gets bigger (like my tush). Call a problem out, draw attention to it, and eventually people will stop ignoring and doing something to make it go away. Evil only grows and lurks in dark corners, shine a light on evil and it will wither and die.

The good news is that thanks to Mary’s program and a little soul searching on my part, I’m choosing to shine the light on the real problem: emotional eating. In the meantime, I’ll continue to eat healthy and work out and drink lots of water. I’ll implement of few additional weight loss strategies Mary suggests. Mostly, the next time I want to shove down my feelings by eating them, I’ll shine a the light on them  instead. I know the drill and  I’m not afraid.

Check out what I’ve affectionally dubbed Mary’s Chub-O-Meter for a sobering wake-up call. It’s a calculator developed by the US Navy to determine your lean to fat body mass. 


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