Riding the Waves
February 9, 2018 (originally published August 7, 2017)
Let's face it- life is one choppy ride.
Think about it- if there were surefire paths to making lots of money, finding the person or career of your dreams, or living to the age of 100 in perfect health, wouldn't everyone be taking them? Sure, there are steps you can take and behaviors to adopt that can improve your chances- but there are no guarantees.
Every decision we make entails risk. No exceptions. Even the decision to do nothing- under the guise of security and comfort in the known- puts you at risk of being left behind when everything and everyone else moves forward.
No matter how much we plan and prepare, there will always be situations that take us by surprise and knock our feet from underneath us.
So what do we do when our best-laid plans go awry? What do we do when our future is uncertain? What do we do when it seems like life is completely out of our control?!
Friends, I have been there! Heck, I still go there! But if I may, I'd like to share a visualization exercise called Ride The Wave that I created (although I'm probably not the first). This was inspired by my amazing therapist, who introduced me to the analogy of the wave and emotion. As a person who hates to cry, and who was routinely criticized for displaying negative emotions, I have always tended to squash these emotions with distractions and busy-ness. This "permission" to feel them was an important step for me.
Ride The Wave Visualization. Find a safe place, then acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings of sadness, fear, anger, frustration, despair. Feel them build and swell up inside you, like a wave in the ocean. Just when you feel like it's going to swallow you, take a deep breath and ride it out. Cry, scream, curse, break something, whatever you feel you need to do. Then...let it go. Let it crash. Visualize the wave melting back into the sea, and breathe. You are safe. You are grounded. You are real, and raw, and beautiful.
“No emotion, any more than a wave, can long retain its own individual form.”
~Henry Ward Beecher
Snow Day Workout!
Can't get out because of the weather? Don't let that make you skip your workout! This fast-paced, no-equipment routine takes about 10 minutes and can be repeated as many times as you like, or done several times throughout the day. Great for travel, too- it can easily be done in a hotel room!
My Personal Story
December 29, 2017
My personal journey to health and fitness began as an overweight child, many years ago. My parents moved our family from the city to the country after my youngest brother was born, and while there were a couple of boys who lived relatively nearby for my brothers to play with, there were NO girls. In addition, I had to give up my beloved dance classes because the studio was too far away. As a result, I took comfort in books and food. By the time I reached middle school, I was 10 pounds overweight- which is quite a bit on a small-framed, 11 year old girl. I was starting to get teased and picked on. Several of my friends pulled away and disassociated themselves from me. And it hurt- A LOT. So I hid. And ate more. Because food was my best friend. It was always there for me, and always made me feel better- in the moment, anyway.
The turning point came for me in the 8th grade, when I decided that I wanted to be a cheerleader once I reached high school. I remember my mother bought me two workout albums- yes, they were vinyl record albums that came with posters illustrating the moves (which tells you how long ago this was)! One was led by gymnast Cathy Rigby; the other by aerobics queen Joanie Greggains. I also began walking- then jogging. I found a diet plan in Redbook magazine that was touted by actresses Bonnie Franklin (One Day at a Time) and Joyce DeWitt (Three’s Company), both of whom became significantly thinner and fitter during their television tenures. And while I didn’t follow the strict diet to the letter, I followed it enough to produce noticeable changes in myself. And before I knew it, I was shaking my pom-poms on the sidelines of every football and basketball game throughout high school! It also awakened a passion in me for health and fitness.
Five years later, after finishing college and having my daughter, I stumbled upon a classified ad in the newspaper for a preparation course on how to become a nationally-certified aerobics instructor. Naturally this piqued my interest, so I took the course, passed the certification exam, and became an official AFAA-certified Aerobics Instructor! I taught classes for five years before deciding to take the next step and become a Personal Trainer. Since then, I have worked with individuals from many walks of life, with various goals. I have helped obese people lose weight and gain their health and energy. I have worked with “average” folks who were not satisfied to settle for “average.” I have trained athletes to improve their strength, movement and mindset, allowing them to GREATLY improve their game. I have even helped post-rehab patients regain their strength, mobility, and confidence after suffering from serious injuries.
Today I hold numerous fitness certifications, as well as a bachelors degree in Health Promotion from Appalachian State University, which I earned while taking care of my preschool-aged son (he is now 11). I am also a certified Lifestyle Coach for the YMCA’s Weight Management and Diabetes Prevention Programs. The world of health and fitness is always evolving, and it is imperative to stay current on the latest research and trends. That excites me! Motivational speaker Tony Robbins frequently talks about the principle of CANEI, or Constant And Never Ending Improvement- and how it is necessary to live your best life, for the rest of your life! Amen to that!
Don’t get me wrong- life is still a struggle sometimes! I still have to consciously work on my body, mind and spirit every day of my life- and sometimes I have slips, just like everyone else! But most of the time I feel like I am winning the battle overall, and I know you can too!
Leaning Into 2018 With Gratitude!
December 28, 2017
I don’t know about you, but 2017 was like a roller coaster for me. There were so many changes in such a short time- some of my own choosing, some not. Many people came into my life, and others left- some unexpectedly. I took risks and pursued new opportunities- some worked out, some didn’t.
And for all of it, I am grateful. Yes, even the hard stuff.
You see, it’s easy to be grateful for the things that make us happy and feel good- family and loved ones, good friends, a comfortable home, work we enjoy, the usual things people say they are grateful for when asked. It’s decidedly harder to be grateful for the failures, disappointments, lessons and losses in life. But you see, it’s through the tough stuff that we can learn to be stronger. We can be more resilient and confident. It makes us realize what is really important to us in our lives, and makes us appreciate those things more than ever. And that, my friends, brings greater joy.
Of course this is easier said than done. It’s awfully hard to think about how grateful we are for a crappy mood or situation when we’re smack-dab in the middle of it. Revisiting the roller coaster analogy: how does it feel as you are making the first big ascent of the ride? Exciting? Scary? A little of both? It’s kind of the same when you are taking on something new, not really knowing what lies on the other side. And as you crest over and descend, you may feel exhilerated or terrified- either way, it takes your breath away. Then, the ride becomes relatively smooth again for a while, until the next big climb and precarious drop. Life is kind of like that. And every time we endure hardship, we can choose gratitude, knowing that this too shall pass. And when you get to the other side, you can really enjoy the ride!
Happy New Year!
The Final 2 Tips For Living Your Best Life!
October 30, 2017
9. TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR APPEARANCE!
Okay, before you all accuse me of being shallow, just think about it:
Would you go to work, or on a date, or to an important appointment or interview without showering, grooming, and dressing your best for the situation? Of course not! Why is that?
Sure, you want to impress others, but don’t you also feel more confident and powerful when you know you look your best? Do you find that you stand a little taller, walk a little faster, smile more often? I know I do! So why limit that feeling to certain times and situations?
This goes for more casual situations as well! I’m not suggesting you go to the gym in perfectly coiffed hair and full makeup, but I’m willing to bet that neatly combed hair, a clean face, and coordinating activewear can actually help you get a better workout than if you went in an old T-shirt and sweatpants with bedhead. It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the CONFIDENCE!!!
10. LOVE YOURSELF FIRST!
So many of us are conditioned to put the needs, wants, and desires of others ahead of our own, only taking care of ourselves after doing so for everyone else. Whether it’s the children, significant other, boss, colleagues, friends, family, neighbors, whomever- we feel compelled to make sure we are meeting their needs (and expectations) first and foremost. And by the time we’re done with all that, we are so dog-tired that all we want to do is collapse on the couch and stare at a screen…
It’s often been said that you cannot give your best to others when you are not your best self. While true, the problem with that logic is that it still implies that the needs of others should always supersede your own- and that is simply not the case!
YOUR OWN NEEDS, WANTS, AND DESIRES MATTER!
Famed NBA coach Pat Riley once said, “Don’t let anyone else tell you what you want!” Award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson stated, “You can’t give another human the responsibility of your happiness. It all starts with you.” NO ONE knows your needs, wants, and desires as well as you do, and NO ONE can meet them as well as YOU can!
So go ahead and treat yourself to an exquisite dinner for one. Light some candles, pour some champagne and soak in a hot bubble bath. Buy yourself a piece of jewelry, fabulous new outfit, or gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Sign up for that class in art, music, gourmet cooking, ballroom dancing, underwater basket-weaving, whatever. Learn a foreign language. Adopt a puppy. Or kitten. Or child. Book that vacation you’ve always dreamed about. Or that mission trip.
Don’t wait for “someday” or “someone”- do what makes you happy, do it for yourself, and do it TODAY!
Tips #7 and #8 For Living Your Best Life!
October 23, 2017
7. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT!
The past is over and the future is not guaranteed- all we really have is the PRESENT!
After the financial crisis of 2007, financial guru Suze Orman offered distressed investors the following advice: “Don’t think about what you had; focus on what you have.”
These sage words do not only apply to finances! No matter what you have lost- be it a relationship, fitness level, or something more tangible like money or possessions- dwelling on the past will never bring them back! Learn from the past, but don’t live in it!
Conversely, being overly concerned with the future robs you of living life to the fullest today! Typically, future-dwellers are either constantly worried about what bad things might happen, or always fantasizing about plans and possibilities- at the expense of enjoying who and where we are right now. Stop worrying about or waiting for “someday” and make the most of today!
And when it comes to your goals and dreams for the future, take some action today– even a small one- that moves you in the direction of realizing them! DO IT NOW!
8. SPEAK YOUR TRUTH!
To quote entrepreneur/NBA wife Adrian Bosch, “Don’t miss out on your moments of happiness because you’re worried about what others think!”
Realizing your happiness means being true to yourself. Very likely, speaking and living your truth will mean disappointing people who had other ideas and plans for you. That is precisely why so many people- especially women- feel compelled to live an uninspired, unfulfilling life. Our own dreams and aspirations take a back seat to meeting the needs and expectations of others.
The desire to serve and nurture is a wonderful gift, and a degree of selflessness is admirable. However, withholding your words and suppressing your needs for the sake of appeasing others is not only unhealthy, but it is dishonest. Let that sink in. How does it feel?
Speaking your truth can be scary, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before. Invariably, there will be people- some of them close to you- who are put off, offended, or don’t take you seriously. Some of these people will come around eventually, but some probably won’t. However, there will be people who support you wholeheartedly, and be proud of you for finally finding your voice- and your TRUTH. Surround yourself with these people! Remember their words of encouragement whenever the urge to suppress your voice comes back.
“A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”
-Pioneer Girls Leaders’ Handbook
Tips For Living Your Best Life: Numbers 3 and 4
October 9, 2017
If you checked out my blog last week, you saw numbers 1 and 2 of my “10 Tips to Living Your Best Life!” As promised, here are tips number 3 and 4…stay tuned for tips 5 and 6 coming soon!
3. BE A BLESSING- AND ALLOW OTHERS TO BLESS YOU!
One of the best ways to get over yourself is to focus on helping others. It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, or major sacrifice on your part! A simple phone call, greeting card, or invitation to lunch will let those people in your life know that you are thinking of them, and it will make their day! When you are out and about, you can make a stranger’s day with a warm smile, sincere compliment, or offer to buy their coffee in the Starbucks line!
Conversely, when others want to bless you, accept it graciously and gratefully with a heartfelt “Thank you!” You know how good it feels to know that you’ve made someone else’s day; give them the opportunity to get that feeling by doing something for you!
4. NAME IT AND CLAIM IT!
Whether you call it God, The Creator, Higher Power, The Universe, or whatever, know that He/She/It is on your side, and wants to fulfill your heart’s truest desires! Think about it- to put those desires in your heart without intention of manifesting them would be just plain cruel, and I don’t believe that is the nature of God.
So don’t be afraid to NAME IT AND CLAIM IT! Pray, meditate, or just shout out to the universe exactly what it is you want for your life, then consider it done and act as if it is already yours!
Is this a guarantee that you will get it? Of course not- God is not a genie in a bottle. BUT… just know that if this desire is in line with your true heart and life’s purpose, it WILL come to pass! God’s delays are not His denials! On the other hand, it may just be that He has something even better planned for you, greater than you even imagined! HAVE FAITH…AND TRUST!!!
10 Tips For Living Your Best Life: Numbers 1 and 2
October 2, 2017
It has been a very eventful past few weeks for me, with lots of different projects going on, pulling me in many directions at home, at the Y, and with YPB-LKN. I know so many of you out there can relate! Between kids and school, sports and activities, work and family, volunteer and personal endeavors, the list goes on and on.
It was with this in mind that I created my newest e-booklet, “10 Tips for Living Your Best Life.” The strategies are simple and “do-able” enough to get started on right away! Over the next week or so I will be sharing some of the tips in this blog post. For starters, here are Tips #1 and 2. It is in these times that it is more important than ever to carve time out to take care of ourselves! Remember, we cannot give what we do not have!
1. GET MOVING!
I am amazed by how exercise can almost always lift my spirits, even on the darkest days! Whether it’s a brisk walk or run, bike ride, lap swim, or pumping iron, the endorphins generated by moderate to intense physical activity will lighten your heart and mind within 20 minutes- I promise! Make it a personal goal to move at least 40-60 minutes every day!
2. BE QUIET AND STILL
In contrast to number 1, it is also important to take time to stop moving!
Our society is so obsessed with what is regarded as “the glorification of busy.” That is to say, people are constantly going, doing, and pursuing something, to the point that we as a society are chronically exhausted- and we wear it as a badge of honor! It’s time to stop the madness! Spend your time, energy, and focus on what is truly important, and then take time to RELAX, RECHARGE, and REGENERATE! This means getting enough sleep regularly and consistently- and while everyone is different in regard to their optimal amount of sleep, the standard 8 hours is a good place to try and start. This means every night- not 5 or 6 hours during the week then using the weekends to “catch up!” Create an environment conducive to sleep: the room should be dark, cool, and quiet, with clean, comfortable bedding. And no TV or electronics!
Additionally, take 10-20 minutes each day in meditation, prayer, or just quiet stillness. Turn off your phone, TV, computer, and go somewhere peaceful and comfortable, where there are no distractions. If you can do this more than once, so much the better! You will be amazed how much more refreshed you will feel-give it a try!