[Destination]: Home…from vacation

This past week was spent just a few short hours from our home to celebrate the marriage of my brother-in-law.  It was a truly great time with some truly great people.  We got to spend the entire week at a little retreat in the woods (well, a wooded area of Mechanicsburg anyway), and we felt like we were able to just “get away” for a few days.  While we still had the rush of getting ready for the wedding and packing as much into 7 days with our West Coast family as we could, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

It’s amazing what can be revealed to you once you take a moment to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.  It’s in those quiet, albeit chaotic, moments that you realize just what you might be missing or what you really do need in your life.

Lessons learned during this vacation:

1. Slow down.  Life is not to be rushed through, and it also does not bend to my rules.  No matter how much planning you put into a day, something will always go differently than you expect.  Roll with it.  Enjoy it.  Watch your kids (and yourself) grow from it.  And don’t stress about the fact that things change in an instant.  Control what you can, but be ok with what comes your way.

2. Family is of utmost importance.  Ok, so I already knew this one.  I know it enough that I often tell my DH how much I miss his brothers who are now all out West.  Their families are growing, our family is growing, and my girls often ask if we can invite their aunts, uncles and cousins to their birthday parties.  It breaks my heart.  So, we will make it a priority to do what we can to get out there and visit.  Because life is all about your family and it needs to be a priority no matter what.

3. Live life simply.  Learn about what you need and what you can do without.  The simpler life is, the happier you will be.  Clean out your stuff, cut down on your bills, really take the time to think about whether you need that bigger house or more expensive car.  You’d be so surprised about what you can live without and what you really can get by with.  As an example, I know our lives have gotten so much better and more meaningful through simply turning off our cable.  It saves us some money each month, and we’re “forced” to spend more time as a family, connecting, bonding, and just plain talking to each other.

I’m so thankful for the time that we’ve gotten to spend with family over the past week.  Now, it’s time for us to unpack, decompress, and get back to our normal routine.  That routine will certainly be changing.  I think the girls have really like a more “relaxed” mommy over the past week.  My biggest hint was yesterday, on our way home, my oldest daughter Keira kept telling me she loves me.  Over and over again I got to hear those beautiful words from her.  I asked her this morning why she kept telling me that (not that I was complaining) and she said, “because I just love you”.  That’s certainly good enough for me.Image

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[Destination]: Clean Laundry

I still have intentions of doing some sort of organizing today; however, if I don’t get to it, I’m not too concerned.  An impromptu pillow fight that started out between my husband and the girls and then turned to just me and my four-year-old was just the medicine that was called for today.  It reminded me that, while it’s important to keep your home clean and only have what you need, it’s more important to have a pillow fight with your kids.  We laughed, ran into each other, stole each others’ pillows, and had a great time.  Our hair was a mess and we couldn’t stop smiling.  I’ll take that joy any day.

I know it sounds weird, but while I’m decluttering and removing the excess from my life, I’m slowly finding that I’m able to enjoy all life does have to offer even more.  In a recent post of mine, I listed a few physical and emotional things that clutter and excess can actually cause you if you don’t get a handle on it.  Depression, anxiety, weight gain, and a serious depreciation in our quality of life have all hit me pretty hard in the past.  I just never realized how much damage they were actually doing at the time.  I used to sit and think that this was just the way that I was.  Maybe depression and anxiety were just a large part of who I was.  

Just over the past five days, I’ve found that this is definitely not the case.  When I’ve said that I breathe a little easier now, I mean it.  I have more control over my life than I’ve ever felt that I have.  And it’s the little things like doing a load of laundry every day (and folding and putting it away), and straightening up and putting things back where they belong that has brought peace to my otherwise chaotic-feeling life.  Every donation bag I put into the back of my van provides a little more satisfaction of where my life is and where it’s going.  Clear thoughts, clearer vision, and happiness in the blessings I’ve been given…that’s the direction of this destination.  And I’m moving closer every single day.

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[Destination]: Truth

So, you might be wondering where I’ve been.  Yes, it’s been awhile.  I’ve actually been wallowing in self-pity, eating my sorrows, and loathing my actions.  Yes, we all hit rock bottom, and I’m here to be honest with you.  I’m very good at saying things are “hunky dorry”.  I know all the rules, the tricks, the ins and outs about losing weight or meeting goals.  But I have struggled to put them into practice.  I am human.  I’m not telling you this for sympathy, empathy or cuddles to make me feel better.  Trust me, I’ve been getting the “you can do it” and “you’re going to be fine” speeches for a long time now.  I want so badly to be perfect.

I read a blog recently from Proverbs 31 Ministry about “overcoming perfectionism“, and it was like I was reading about every aspect of my life.  The author, Rachel Olsen, talks about the fear of failure, mistakes, and disapproval.  She mentions the “all-or-nothing mentality” that plagues perfectionists day in and day out, and the fact that perfectionists feel as though success comes so easily to everyone around them.  Man, talk about a slap in the face…but one that was spot on…one that was necessary.

I have goals.  Goals that are lofty, yet attainable.  Goals that could change my life.  Goals that would make me so proud to achieve.  As I set out to accomplish these goals, all to often I find myself becoming the victim of “I can’t”.  It’s not going perfectly?  Give up, Michelle.  Other people are telling you that you can’t do it?  Then you probably can’t do it.  But, you know what?  I have to change that perfectionist thinking and be ok with just me.  I’m not perfect and never was made to be perfect.  I’m going to fail at things; that’s the only way I’m going to learn.  I need to change my perspective here.

I’ve recently read a book called Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  In it she discusses the truth that we, as humans, were made to crave; however, we were made to crave and seek out God our creator.  Overindulging, whether by eating, drinking, sex, drugs, whatever, is our way of showing externally that we need to fix something internally.  I’m always on the lookout for the quick fix.  I want the magic pill or diet that will make me lose 50 lbs overnight.  How easy would that be!  Pop that pill, go to sleep, and by morning you have the body you’ve always dreamed of.  Except, that body, either the one you go to sleep with or the one you wake up with, is the only one we’ve got.  It was made to be a temple, a spiritual dwelling place for nothing other than God.  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 6:19-20.  I’ll tell you now, I have not been doing this!  But the more you persevere, the more God hears your prayers, and the more He sends those little signs that He is in your every day.

I’ve got a long way to go.  After talking with my husband last night, we agreed to start tracking our food to be more mindful of what we’re eating.  I’m continuing my daily conversations with God, and I’m trying a new tactic – growing from the inside out.  Because, I’ll tell you what.  I’ve had it with my exterior reflecting the shabby interior.  There’s so much more to this heart than I let show.  Get ready world.  Here I come!Image

[Destination]: A New Me

I’m tired.  It’s really tough to keep picking yourself up after a brawl, but it’s even worse when the only opponent in the room is…you.  Why do I beat myself up?  Because even as I sit here, I focus on the wrong things.  I focus on the things that are not going the way I want them to in my life.  I focus on the things that I wish were different, the things that I want to change but feel helpless to change, and the things that are temporary.  But wishing only gets you so far.  And that feeling of helplessness?  Well, I’m not helpless.  And even this body I cannot take into eternity.  So it’s time to suck it up and start caring.  It’s time to start seeing myself as I see my children: as a precious and wondrous gift from God.  I am not a mistake.  I was put on this earth to do great things…so it’s time to start doing them.

First stop on this never-ending track of self-actualization is living the life that I pray my children will live as they grow older: one of health, vitality, service and love.  If I want others to live their lives that way, I darn well better start loving myself enough to live my life to the fullest.  One way is to stop beating myself up physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I am making a public pledge today to get my health back.  For the next 4 weeks, I pledge to ask myself these two questions before I eat any food: 1. Will this food nourish/fuel me?; and 2. Will I enjoy this food?  And, I will answer those questions truthfully.  I also pledge to make the following actions on a daily basis: 1. eat a large salad once a day; 2. eat 2-3 fresh fruits daily; 3. eat 1 oz. of nuts daily; and 4. eat at least one large serving of steamed green vegetables per day.  Before I sit at the table to eat any snack or meal, I will drink one large glass of water and decide whether I am truly hungry.

Maybe this sounds superficial or selfish, but the way I see it is that if I love the people in my life enough to want health for them, then I need to live it out instead of just preaching it.  So that’s my pledge.  I will renew this pledge every four weeks.  I will add, subtract, modify and re-evaluate the words of this pledge as needed.  2013 will be my healthiest year yet…and I’m going to show the world that I love it by living as an example of the values I hold dear.  It may be a little early to make a New Years Resolution, but it’s never too early to start living life the way it was intended.  And I can’t wait to get started.

Many blessings throughout this holiday season, and I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

[Destination]: Change

It’s my birthday today.  It’s not only my birthday; it’s my 30TH BIRTHDAY.  That time when you go from those roaring 20s (and mine were) to the dirty 30s.  And mine will be dirty, mainly because I have small children.  I’m not sure if it’s because this year is such a milestone, or if it’s because I’ve just been focused on it the past few weeks, but I’m realizing that it’s time for a change.

A change?  What on earth does that mean?  Looking back on my life, I’ve realized all too recently that I’ve been living for everyone else.  I’ve been making goals that I think everyone else will approve of, or I’ve tried to take friends’ dreams and make them my own, or I’ve made decisions based on what everyone else will think of me.  Too bad for everyone else…I’m changing my tune.  I’ve changed my focus inward because, let’s be honest, you can’t change anything until you’ve fixed up the inside.  What good is a great-looking car if the engine is all jacked up?  I’ve realized over the past few days that the more I try to change my outside appearance, the more frustrated I get and the more unpleasant I am to be around.  And, darnit, the harder it is to actually change!  We can all put on a good show when we need to, but who really wants to be around someone who’s just faking it through life?

My husband and I were having a conversation over the recent $550 million PowerBall lottery.  He had purchased a ticket (or several, I’m not really sure), and we were talking about what each of us would do with the money if we ever won (as I’m sure many people were doing).  I mentioned some additional certifications I would like to get, and my husband just rolled his eyes and laughed.  He likes to refer to me as the professional student, and I know exactly why.  I’ve recently gotten certified as a personal trainer and a running coach.  I have yet used either of them to their full potential, one of them not really at all.  And why you might ask?  Because I’m scared.  I look in the mirror and think to myself, I’m not ready for this.  I don’t look the part.  I have no real experience and am too inexperienced in both things to actually coach other people on how to run or do a proper bicep curl.  All the other personal trainers out there are better equipped to do this job.  If someone were to come to me for help, I’d screw up.  I don’t know enough.  And those are just a few of the things I feel I can put down on paper.  I used to be a manager at a corporation.  I knew what I was doing, and I was confident enough to teach other people in the industry how to do the job.  I had no problem getting up in front of a crowd and lecturing on best practices and trends.  Now, I feel as though I know nothing, and fear has been stopping me from moving forward.  It has stopped me for too long, not only in my career, but in my life.  No more.

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I’m taking a new outlook on life, my relationships, and myself.  I’m moving myself closer to the edge, and I’m going to make that leap.  If I fail, then I will learn.  If I succeed, then I will know that I can do it and will move to the next challenge.  But this journey has got to start in my heart, on the inside.  I’m not going to change anything if I don’t accept my self and my gifts as God has given them to me.  I am no longer going to hold back, put off or save anything that would add happiness and joy to my life and to those lives that surround me.  I’m done waiting for my life to begin…I’m done postponing my life until I “look or feel the part.”  No one is better equipped or prepared to live my life than me.  So here’s to a year full of failing, learning, growing, and loving.  I can’t wait to see what happens!

I hope you start living your best life right now.

[Destination]: 2013

So, I would say we are officially in the Christmas season.  And, I must say, I am loving it!  We have our house mostly decorated, I have Christmas music playing constantly on Pandora, and we will probably burn out the lights on the Christmas tree by December 1st.  We even had our first snowfall of the season yesterday.  Oh what fun it is!

With this time of year usually comes a bout of depression for me, for whatever reason (I have yet to figure out why), and I can proudly announce that it has already come and gone – hopefully for good this season!  So what am I to do with my new attitude and happiness?  Prepare for 2013 of course!  I have a couple of things to do on my fitness bucket list, things that I feel I need to start working on now in order to be ready for them come next year.  

One of those things is to PR in the sprint distance triathlon.  Last year I completed two.  I’d also like to complete an Olympic distance tri, but I have to see how the racing budget looks in order to make that one happen.  The first step toward accomplishing this goal was to get my butt back in the pool.  I figured out that I have not been swimming since my last triathlon last year…in July! At least I can say it felt good to be back in the pool.  And I’m not one to say that because I am NOT a strong swimmer.  But that is one spot I can seriously improve on, so it was back in the water this morning to start building a base.

It wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t anything fantastic, but it wasn’t bad.  I might actually start liking it, but that’s going to take some time.  I did a few drills, some laps, and then decided I was done.  It was probably about a 40 minute swim all tolled.  Much better than when I started swimming last year considering I didn’t have to stop after one lap, and I knew the difference between a length of the pool and a full lap.  (Yes, I made that mistake last year of counting “laps” by lengths of the pool.  Man, I thought I was the bomb!)

I’m hoping to keep improving in the swim section, and maybe I’ll even be good someday.  Tomorrow, I’m hopping on my bike trainer since there’s still snow on the ground.  Tonight, I’m doing some cross-training.  I’m excited to say that I’m having fun.  It’s exciting to start working toward a goal when you have a bunch of time before the actual training begins.  It’s also kind of neat to do things without feeling like I HAVE to.  I know I do have to just for maintaining fitness and losing weight…and feeling good about myself…but sometimes you just don’t WANT to.  I do. I do want to because I enjoy it.  That is a huge reason that needs to be in everyone’s “Why I Exercise” list.  I really love the challenge of bettering myself, of beating my last PR, and of striving to beat others in my field.  I know the last goal might never happen, but it’s something to work towards.

Who knows…maybe 2013 will be my rockstar year.  Or maybe it will just be another year to catapult me to the next level.  Either way, I’m excited to start thinking about those goals and working towards them.

Cheers!

[Destination]: Marathon

Yesterday, I completed my first marathon.  Ever.  It was the hardest thing I’ve done since childbirth.  It challenged not only my physical being but my mental and emotional will as well.  And, boy, was it a challenge!  It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  And I’m proud to say that I did it.

I joined Weight Watchers (for the third time, mind you) about 2 weeks ago after constantly struggling with losing some of this last baby weight…that’s now two years old!  I’ve succeeded before on the program, so I wanted to get back to meetings and have the in-your-face support that I’ve gotten before.  This is where the “It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny” comes from.  It’s so true!  And this program is all about choices…perfect place for me to learn this.  This morning when I went to my weigh-in, I was excited to see another lb gone.  Not as much as I had hoped for considering my marathon feat yesterday, but excited nonetheless.  However, the meeting’s leader has not been too impressed with my performance over the past few weeks.  He feels that I should have had a big week the first week (traditionally this is the case with new/returning members).  I’m not denying that I “should have”…if I had followed the plan appropriately.  After I told him this morning that I lost a pound and that I ran a marathon yesterday, guess what his response was.  “If I had a run a marathon, I would, well, I’d be dead, but I would have lost more than one pound.”  This really struck a nerve with me.  I get that not everyone understands running or even running for such long distances as a marathon or many of the endurance events out there.  But, seriously?  You’re judging me NEGATIVELY based on a weight loss after such a hard effort?  Do you know what 5 HOURS of straight running (and a little bit of walking) will do to your body?  I was HUNGRY!  I had a light breakfast, no lunch, and nothing but energy gels and gummies all day.  I wanted to puke when I crossed that finish line.  What a buzz-kill this guy was.

I have been struggling with balance in my life lately.  I’ve been trying to figure out my goals, my purpose, and what I wanted to be doing at this point in my life.  I realized today that I can’t do it all at the same time.  My marathon training was intense and stressful for me over the past two months.  I put my body through a lot of crap lately, but my focus was on finishing that marathon.  That was the goal that needed to be in my head for the past few months (year, if I’m really honest).  So weight loss was completely secondary in my list of personal goals.  I haven’t been honest with myself, and it’s caused a lot more anxiety and tension in my life than there needs to be.  When you’re putting your body through the rigors of training for an endurance event, it’s hard to know how much to put back into your body as fuel – for a newbie like myself at least.  I’m doing this on my own.  There’s no one looking at what I’m eating and telling me that I’m fueling too much or too little.  It’s totally guesswork at this point.

So now that the marathon is checked off my list of “To-Dos” before my 30th birthday, it’s onto the next thing.  And now my Weight Watchers leader can get on my case.  Because now it’s time to focus on losing the weight for an even faster year next year.  I have had some amazing accomplishments this past year as my good friend Stacey pointed out to me yesterday.  I’ve PR’d in my 5k, 10k and Half-Marathon distances.  I completed an Adventure Race, and I’ve become a triathlete.  I’ve taken on the job of Mom 24/7 (which is an extremely difficult job and an incredibly tough change to make!).  And I’ve completed a MARATHON, darnit!  

This has all taught me to take one thing at a time.  I will deal with it as it comes and as I’m ready to deal with it.  Goals need your undivided attention.  You start thinking about all the other things you want to accomplish in life, and suddenly, it all starts breaking down in front of you.  You start breaking down and giving up.  One day at a time; one step at a time.  I’m ready…bring it on.