Life Lessons

Life LessonsToday I learned the secret to living a happy life – from my 8 year old. To say she’s a creative child would be a gross understatement. The kid comes up with some stuff! I’m actually fortunate enough to learn from both my girls pretty regularly. Funny how you can learn life lessons from people who haven’t been living it nearly as long as you.

When I went into her room this morning, several pieces of paper were taped above her bed. (That’s what that photo is above.) They weren’t there yesterday and I honestly have no idea when she did it. There are also other labels taped all throughout her room. Some have the names of her babies above where her babies lie. She has a piece of paper taped to the wall above some dirty clothes she doesn’t want to throw in the hamper that says “play clothes”. (See? Creative!)

The words taped above her bed though, really hit a chord with me. I think if we can apply an 8-year-old’s rules to our regular daily living we’d get through life a lot happier and less stressed.

Sing ~ Have Fun ~ Story Time ~ Nap ~ Work Hard, Be Smart ~ Don’t Bully

1. Sing! Sing like no one is listening (or watching). If your favorite song comes on the radio, belt it out. Sing regular stuff too. Dinner will be a lot more fun if you sing to your family when it’s ready. At the very least, they’ll come running to witness what they think must certainly be your nervous break down.

2. Have fun! No, really. Let go. Are you afraid of looking silly? Why? I skip through parking lots with my kids. So does my husband. Yeah, we get some crazy looks, but not nearly as many “looks” as we get big, honking smiles. People GET it. And if someone thinks you’re silly for having fun? Well poo poo on them! This is your life to live. Live it like you mean it!

3. Story Time! Relax. Take a break. Step out of reality once in a while. It’s okay to get lost in a good book or even a TV show now and then. We shouldn’t have to be “on” all the time.

4. Nap! Oh, this might be my favorite. There just isn’t much better than a good nap, not that I get them that often. Even if you don’t get to take naps, be rested. Burning your candle at both ends will backfire eventually. It’s not worth it.

5. Work Hard, Be Smart! Good work ethic and a job well done is a life well lived.

6. Don’t Bully. This applies not only to others, but to yourself as well. If friends, families, co-workers, even complete strangers deserve to be treated with respect why don’t you? Would you walk up to a complete stranger and tell them their butt looks big? Nah. So, don’t bully yourself either.

I’m digging these rules. I think the 8-year-old nailed it.

Advertisements

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

sleeping

sleeping (Photo credit: riebschlager)

I’m tired. I’m not talking sleepy here – I mean like bone tired exhausted. A couple of weeks ago my computer crashed. Not like a little crash where you can press down the power button for a few seconds and get it to at least come back up. I’m talking full on super crash where only a black screen pops up and some fancy code words appear that translate roughly into “You.Are.Screwed.” One of my responsibilities at my real job is the bookkeeping. All of 2012 was completely lost.

Before you ask me why I didn’t back it up and I have to poke you in the eye, I will tell you that I did back it up. I had backed it up regularly on flash drives. Apparently there were some corrupt files and blah blah. Long story short, I’ve spent the last few weeks recreating my 2012 books. (Thank the Lord everything else was saved.) This means lots and lots of hours in front of my computer doing mindless data entry. It is necessary, but excruciatingly exhausting. I’m still working on it and hope to have it done in the next two weeks or so. (I have also subscribed to online back ups. This girl learns quick!)

I’ve let this be a(nother!) excuse for not working out. Now, don’t get me wrong, if I wasn’t at my office or driving my kids somewhere, I was diligently at my computer entering all the info. See what I said there, though? I made sure I took care of things at the office. I made sure I took care of getting my kids to their activities. I didn’t take little breaks for myself.

None.

I would look at my little calendar hanging in my bathroom where I log my workouts and think, “well, it’s not as bad as it looks. After all, I have been really busy with work.” mmmm hmmmm…. I’ll try to remember how “busy” I was when my pants don’t fit. Oh wait, they don’t fit!

busy

If you’re in a rut where you’re taking care of everything BUT yourself, I want you to know you’re not alone. It’s human nature to give all we’ve got and at the end of the day there’s nothing left for us. Being committed to yourself can be difficult to keep, but it’s as important, if not more than all the other commitments we have. Is it time for you to re-evaluate and take a little time for yourself?

busier

I Don't Know How She Does It

photo credit: nancycooklin.wordpress.com

Well, she doesn’t. Didn’t you read the book? Granted, I read this book probably ten years ago when it first came out so my memory of the details may be a little sketchy. And I didn’t see the movie because I was certain it would suck. The gist of it is this – this woman is a successful corporate type who appears to have it all. Perfect family, marriage, career, etc. Everyone wonders “how she does it”. The truth is, she doesn’t. Her marriage is falling apart. She suffers from major mommy guilt which also affects her ability to do her job as well as she could. Sound familiar?

I have personally been told, “I don’t know how YOU do it.” I kind of look around and wonder who the hell they are talking to. When I realize it’s actually me, I’m like, “huh?” How I do what? Apparently by appearances I seem to have it somewhat together. I have happy, healthy kids. I have a good marriage. I have a job I kick ass at. I have this blog which I try to write on somewhat regularly. And I have a facebook page that has a respectable number of likes. Well, I should start preparing my Oscar speech now because while I am more grateful for those things than you can imagine, they do not define me as “having it together”.

My kids rock. I wonder daily if I’m effing them up. My husband is a saint (mostly). He’s a far better spouse than I am. My job? Well, I do kick ass at that. But sometimes I could probably do better. Couldn’t we all? My blog and facebook page? Honestly, they stress me out. When I post something, I hover. I wait to see if anyone will read or like it. Or comment. If there’s any comment that isn’t absolutely glowing I freak out and take it completely personally. It feels like a kick in the gut and I think I’m not cut out for this. I’m not cut out for any type of feedback other than “I’m awesome”. Which is really stupid and I know that. Duh.

This idea of perfection – where the hell did THAT come from? I hate it. I hate comparing myself to others but can’t seem to stop. “Oh, SHE dyed four dozen Easter eggs with her kids, huh? Damn, I didn’t even make dessert.” “Oh, look at HER abs.” Have you ever walked into a birthday party and it looked like something out of a magazine? Yeah, we throw pizza and water guns at my kids and pray no one gets hurt. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and suddenly yours felt like it was someone’s first apartment? I’m not super mom. I’m not a trophy wife. I’m not a paid writer. I’m not perfect.

I’m embracing my imperfections. I’m not doing it very well, but I AM working on it. If I miss a school function because it slipped my mind, it’s okay. My kids still know I love them. If I skip a workout because I’d rather be on the couch, well, that’s okay (once in a while). I’m working on finding the balance that works for me. The huge list of responsibilities I have mean that I won’t be great at all of them all the time. Maybe I will remember that my kid is getting an award, but the whites have been in the washing machine for three days now. Maybe I will hit the gym five days this week, but I totally forgot to post something super inspirational on facebook.

Perfection is impossible. I’m working really  hard on living that truth. What are you working on?

Uh Oh! Are You A Bully?

photo credit: comingsoon.netPerhaps I’m just hyper-aware of bullying right now because my baby will be entering middle school soon. But it seems evertime I turn around I’m hearing, reading, or watching a story about kids being bullied and in some extreme cases even killing themselves over it.

These kids are bullied for so many stupid things. They are different, they are gay, they are small, or big, they are too fat or too skinny, they believe in Jesus, or they don’t. Whatever it is these bullies decide is “wrong” with them, these victims are relentlessly reminded of it. Oh and it’s not just at school anymore. It’s on facebook, twitter, blogs, wherever. These kids can’t escape it. There’s no safe haven for them.

In some cases the parents figure out what’s going on and step in and something gets done about it. I suspect we don’t hear much about those cases. It’s the cases where these kids keep it all bottled up inside. Or the parents’ plea for help falls on deaf ears at the schools. Perhaps even the schools’ hands are tied. For whatever reason, these kids find this bullying so completely unbearable they just can’t possibly live with it anymore.

It’s not just kids, of course. I read an article the other day that a German model living in the UK committed suicide. It is suspected it may have had to do with on-line trolls bashing her for her appearance. A model!

Think about how you talk to yourself. Let me write that again. THINK.ABOUT.HOW.YOU.TALK.TO.YOURSELF. Are you a bully? Do you look in the mirror and curse yourself for your appearance. Do you say disparaging things to yourself because of cellulite? Do you have a bad day because of a number on a scale? Do you call yourself fat? Worthless?

Don’t be a bully. Be kind to yourself. The victims of bullies are tortured. It changes how they feel about themselves. Maybe they didn’t know they had a big nose. But for the rest of their life that’s all they’ll think about in regard to their appearance. Why would you do that to yourself? Imagine if your son, daughter, brother, sister, or friend came home and said someone made rude remarks about their appearance. Imagine if you were standing in line at the grocery store and some bitch behind you told you that your ass was huge. Um, really? No, it’s time to put a stop to this. It’s time to stop bullying.

Getting Fat – Part 4 – My "AHA" Moment

AHA!

If you remember, I was super hot and thin when I met my husband (why yes, the description of myself does get better and better with each part of my story). Then we decided to have a baby. And then another. So here we are in a new home, in a new state, starting a new life. We have no family or friends here. We have a three year old and an infant and we settle into that. We go to work, come home, worship our babies until their bedtime and then fall into exhausted lumps on the couch. Welcome to our 30s. The only thing we were missing was a white picket fence.

Sure, there’s talk of getting in shape. There were even a couple hundred dollars thrown in the general direction of a gym we never went to (again). We just didn’t want that worse than we wanted to lay around on the couch and talk about how fat and tired we were. We were settling. And we really enabled each other with this. I would tell him I was really okay with the way I looked (even though I’m sure I wasn’t deep down) as long as I could keep doing what I was doing. I was willing to trade the drive thru meals for bigger pants, as long as they didn’t get any bigger. My husband would say the same to me. And we would confirm to each other that of course we loved the other just the way we were.

In August 2006 we went back home for vacation. We saw my family and his. We also saw a lot of friends. Some who we had seen fairly recently and some who we hadn’t seen in years. I was shocked to see a lot of these people had also “settled” into their lives. I could see myself in them. They were working parents and just as exhausted as we were. The bigger pants they were wearing was the price they paid, that we all paid, for the life we were “living”. The life where work and kids take over and there’s no time for anything else. The time in your life where you put yourself on the back burner because everything else requires so much attention. These babies aren’t going to take care of themselves! And babies spit up a lot so there’s tons of little laundry. I realized I was more worried about creating a perfect life than I was about enjoying it. That included taking care of myself. Don’t get me wrong. I was NOT judging any of these people. As I said, I saw a reflection of myself in them. I had no room to judge anyone. We were the same.

We also saw some people who looked absolutely amazing. They were also working parents and living their lives, but they fit in taking care of themselves. THAT was when I decided I wanted to change my reflection. I wanted to change what was staring back at me. Oh, sure! I had said that one hundred bazillion times before. But this time? This time is serious! I’m going to do this. I didn’t want to look the way I did anymore. I was no longer willing to accept double digit clothing for an eggroll at the drive thru.  I vowed then and there I would make a change. I didn’t want until “tomorrow”. I didn’t say, “oh, I’ve already screwed today up, I’ll start Monday”. None of that. I decided that moment I would start making better decisions. Seeing myself in those I knew while seeing what I could still be, THAT was my aha moment.

Wait! The Pool Opens When?

backyard swimming pool

Image via Wikipedia

Memorial Day is 19 weeks away. Why is this important? That’s the weekend our pool opens. Every year we join a pool in our community. We’ve been members for four or five years now and it’s pretty fantastic. We’ve made some really awesome friends there, as have our daughters. Both girls are on the pool’s swim team.

And it opens in 19 weeks. Sounds like a long time doesn’t it? Keep telling yourself that!

Opening weekend is like back to school. You see tons of people you haven’t seen all fall, winter, and spring. (Okay, that’s back to school in reverse.) Of course everyone is checking everybody else out. Who lost weight. Who lost a husband. Who got boobs. Who got fat. There have been some amazing transformations. I want to be a transformation. Except not the bad kind.

Every year I sit there and wish I would  have worked out harder. I had all frigging year! Will there ever be a time when I take off my cover up and be like, “yeah baby, check me out”! (Okay, I would seriously never say that, but you know what I mean.) Things could be a little tighter, firmer, sculpted, etc. So THIS year, I’m going to bust my ass and make this happen. I will have NO regrets on opening day.

The irony of this statement, is that right now I’m in bit of a slump. (I haven’t worked out in 8 days.) The kind of slump where you say, “oh, you’ve got 19 weeks. That’s a LONG time. You’ll be fine.” Except fine isn’t going to rock that bikini. I don’t mean just looking good in it. Looking thin is not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about cut! It’s time to hit the weights. Hard. Get back into a consistent routine. I keep thinking I need a goal. Well, this is going to be it. Time for a (an even more) kick ass bikini body. No more regrets. No more coulda woulda shoulda. Let’s take responsibility for our health and appearance. Time to stop wishing and start doing. The time is now. NOW! Who’s with me?

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

makeavisionboard.com

If you follow my facebook page you know vision boards have been on my mind lately. As someone who is totally motivated by visual cues, I can’t believe I’ve never done one before! A few people posted theirs on the facebook wall and they were fantastic! So, I started thinking about what mine would look like. Of course fitness, nutrition, family, simplicity…the usual. But if I dig deeper, what would be on there? What do I want to do outside of what I’m already doing, if anything? I’ve mentioned that I love my “day job” so I’m good there. What do I want to do with my personal trainer certification? It’s up for renewal in March. Have I learned enough to satisfy my curiosity? If I do renew it, do I want to get more into the fitness industry? I’ve stuck my toe in the water and felt overwhelmed enough to give up some clients and slow down on my facebook page (I even have facebook-free weekends). So, now what?

Does that mean I don’t have a vision for myself? I hope that isn’t the case. I’m sure these questions are all just a part of starting my vision. If I don’t think about where I want to be in a year, five years, or ten years then how could I possibly map it out on a vision board?

Here’s what I think it comes down to. We settle. We get caught up in the day to day and forget all about how exciting it was to be a kid and wonder what life would be like when we got older. Our mind was full of hopes and dreams and plans. Absolutely nothing was out of reach. Now, our minds are more likely full of carpool, work, dinner, household chores and trying to fit in some time for ourselves.

 I am truly happy where I am. But the whole point of a vision board, in my mind at least, is the potential. MY potential. Am I right where I’m supposed to be or could I be doing more? Not more as in “running myself ragged” more, but more as in my “calling” if there even is such a thing. If I sit down and really, selfishly look at what I enjoy and what I’m good at what would happen? Would things change? Would it be something so amazing I would shift other things around to make room for it? Is there something I could be doing every day that I would be so passionate about I wouldn’t even be able to sleep because of excitement? How do I know if I never even try?

Do you have a vision board? Did it turn out the way you expected or did you learn somethinng new about yourself? Feel free to share photos of your vision board on the facebook page. I would LOVE to see them!

I’m definitely making one. Who knows what will end up on there! Heck, after writing this I’m not even sure I know what I want to be when I grow up anymore. The possibilities are endless!

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. — Marsha Norman

The Weekend I Gave Up Facebook

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

I am obsessive. There, I said it. That line I’ve written “when I do something I go all in”? What that translates into is “when I do something I am totally, completely obsessed with it”. I live, eat, and breathe that “thing”. Whatever my “thing” of the moment is. It usually doesn’t take long until I move on to a new thing. Being obsessive is exhausting, after all.

My latest obsession, fitness, has outlasted all others because there are so many different facets to be obsessed with. First, I found the Couch to 5K. So, I read everything there was to read about running, shoes, clothes, safety, gait, training methods, etc. Then I moved on to food, learning what each food and macronutrient did to or for my body. What super foods were. If it were a hoax. Foods to speed up my metabolism. Foods that slow it down. Next up was fitness, learning how different exercises effected the muscles. What type of training was most effective; cardio, strength, both, HIIT, group classes, etc. I got certified as a trainer, I started a facebook page, I started this blog. See what I mean? Obsessed.

Then I hit a wall. I was doing too much; spreading myself too thin. I was spending more time on the computer than I was with my family. It was no longer fun. What the hell? It’s not like I’m getting paid for this. I write because I love to. I do the facebook page because it seems to inspire people. But, if I’m writing out of obligation, you aren’t getting a genuine representation of me. When I’m facebooking out of obligation, you aren’t getting the right kind of support. I have a desire to help people so obviously I don’t want to stop. But something’s got to give. What’s an obsessed person to do?

I’ll tell you what this obsessed person did. I gave up facebook. For three days. It was uncomfortable at first. Facebook is like my pacifier. I go to it if I’m bored, need a distraction, sitting at a stop light too long, near a computer…you get the idea. I would pick up my phone out of habit. I would sit at the computer and start logging in before I even realized what I was doing. But, I stopped myself. I didn’t peek or cheat. After the first day, I was less curious about what was happening and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. By the third day, it was complete relief that I didn’t have that constant itch to check it. In fact, I was supposed to go back on Facebook on Monday. When I logged in I quickly decided I had other things I should be doing and just logged right back off. I felt relaxed. Whatever was happening around me (in actual real life), I was a part of. When absolutely nothing was happening, I was a part of that too. There are times when I need nothing to be happening.

I did get on facebook today. Heck, someone even said they missed me on the fitness page (woo hoo, thanks!!). But, I realized the expectations I’ve set for myself are only expected by me. I’m pretty sure no one logs on facebook specifically to see what I’m doing. I seriously doubt anyone skipped a workout because I didn’t offer any “motivation”. (Well, except for maybe one person, but let’s be honest Aimee, that was just your excuse.) I’m also pretty sure my daughter appreciated having my undivided attention instead of me half listening, half looking at the computer while she’s trying to show me the latest dance move she’s created.

So, what’s the moral of the story? There’s life away from your computer screen (or phone). I promise you if something major happens, you’ll find out about it. (Although I did find out my brother got married on facebook, but my sis-in-law was calling me right as I read it.) That particular obsession, or distraction as it really became, was causing me grief. I was losing way too much time on the computer over something that really wasn’t that entertaining. Is it fun to go on? Sure, sometimes. But is it necessary to stalk my own posts to see if everyone else thinks I’m as funny as I do? Nope. If the only place I’m funny (or have friends) is behind a computer screen, I’ve got problems.

What distraction can you give up, or spend less time on, that would enable you to do more things that matter?

Time Waits for No One

My family has had a digital camera for seven years. That means for the past seven years not many photos have been printed out. Instead, they have been downloaded online and we’ll occasionally pull up the website and take a look at them. For the last week or so, I’ve taken on the task of downloading all seven years’ worth of memories to a back up drive. (I know, can you believe I didn’t have this backed up until now?! DUH!) Almost seven thousand photos.

It’s an easy enough task. In fact, I have it running in the background while I go about my daily activity.  Every once in a while I’ll click over to make sure the photos are still downloading and it shows what photo is currently copying. Since there are seven thousand of them, obviously I don’t remember every one that was taken. When I look at them, my heart smiles and breaks at the same time. I see my now 10 year old daughter at her pre-K graduation. Her smiling little girl face that has now turned into that of a young lady. I knew even then that she’d be a model student, and she hasn’t disappointed. Then flashes up a photo of my seven year old as a baby with her fat little bald head and slobber everywhere, but with the same enormous blue eyes. She now has platinum blonde, curly hair that’s all the way to her butt (she stills slobbers some, but you didn’t hear it from me). The progression of Christmas photos with the huge differences in each girl from year to year are amazing. The transition of both from baby, to toddler, to little girl, to big girl, to pre-teen….just wow!

I’m sure most parents can relate when I say “it feels like just yesterday”. I feel old just saying that, but it’s so stinking true. I look at my girls now and I can’t believe how big they already are and I sure as hell can’t imagine them getting bigger. I know they will, but I sure don’t want them to. I want to freeze them right where they are. (Minus the eye rolls and attitudes, thank you very much.)

I hear people say, “I’m going to start tomorrow” when it comes to reaching their goals. Glancing through these photos has reminded me just how fast time goes by. You may say you’ll do something tomorrow, but then what if something else comes up? (I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but something will always come up.) Don’t fall into this trap. If you’re going to start something, the time is NOW. Time won’t wait for you. The next thing you know it’s seven years later and you are the only one around you who is still the same.

Keep Calm & Carry On

English: British World War II motivational pos...

Image via Wikipedia

What a difference a week makes. This time last week (and the week before that, and the week before that…) I was seriously struggling with my mojo. I didn’t feel like working out. I didn’t care if I ate crappy. And in large quantities. None of it mattered. If you read yesterday’s post, you know it was in part because I had allowed myself to be completely overwhelmed with life. I had just really taken on more than I could handle and the only person I had to blame for that was myself.

I now feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders by just letting go of the pressure I put on myself to be everybody’s everything.  I’ve worked out for the last 3 days in a row. I’ve been sore the past two days. (Gosh how I missed that feeling.) I’ve eaten reasonably. And I’ve realized the only expectations for perfection come from myself, not anyone else.

I realize by only posting positive, happy, (hopefully) motivational stuff, I’m presenting an inaccurate picture of myself. One that might seem unrelatable. Well believe me, I’m relatable (sometimes more than I’d care to admit). I struggle with the same things many of you do. On the other hand, I love to research fitness and nutrition stuff and enjoy posting about it or writing posts of motivation when the idea hits me. So if you’re a regular reader, prepare yourself because it’s about to get real up in here. If you’re new to my blog. Welcome. My message for today is no one has magic mojo. We all work for it and we all struggle with it. But when the mojo hits, it’s definitely MAGIC! So, keep calm and carry on.