dare to be different

A Fahn Suhthun Lady

(A follow up to the recent post, Redneck Sweetheart. Check it out!)

I was born in Jawja.

Lived here all my lahf.

Except for that ill-advised detouah to Ohio for a few years round college time. They made fun of me for walking too slow in that infernal endless snow and saying y’all when I shoulda said, ahem, “you guys” all nasal or something else inelegant like that. Suhthun ladies roll sweet and slow off the tongue.

Before I go on, let me translate some of this for y’all, lest you find my Suhthun accent a distraction.

I don’t have a hoop skirt. Sweet tea is not my thing but there is no other soda (pop!?!?) than a Coke. I’m still a Suhthun lady through and through.

I blush at the mention of unmentionables. I am steely and will give you the side eye while saying “bless your haht.” I fan myself when I am flustered. Well I nevah would be so vulgah!

I am polite and don’t show up to a gathering empty-handed. To knock at a door without a casserole or even a simple mason jar filled with fresh picked blooms? Why my dear mother, rest her soul, would have been simply mortified!

I’m not all lace and doilies, mind you. I am gracious and refined at times, but will dig my hands in the dirt and grime. Just be sure I have a proper apron and brimmed hat. My fair Suhthun complexion demands protection from our hahsh climate.

I will bring you a snack when you’re hungry, refreshment when you’re pahched. I can quote the Bible, Flannery O’Connor, and Dolly Parton in the same afternoon chat. I am as well read as my farmily is well fed.

Many times I smile when I am angered. I’ve mastered the gentle art of holding my tongue when others try to ruffle my ruffles. Howevah, do not test my resolve. Do not mistake my quiet for ignorance or lack of passion. Do not confuse my kindness with any sort of weakness. I’m wise enough to realize most irritants are not worth my energy. But poking the bear too many times will bring her roaring to life. On that you can depend.

I will raise my voice at the right time. What comes out of these cultured and cultivated lips will surprise you. I don’t share my sharp and critical mind with just anyone, but if you earn yourself a piece of that mind with your vahl behaviah, well, bless your haht.

Back to minding my own business in my own hospitable way. Smiling politely. With a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Don’t cross me.

healthy hacks

Rising Rituals

Win the morning, win the day, to paraphrase author and entrepreneur Tim Ferris.

Life these days has me early to bed, early to rise.

Right now, a good morning starts the night before. I lay my clothes out for whatever the day may bring. If I am going to the gym, I pack my gym bag and work clothes and put them in my car. One less thing to worry about in the wee hours.

Coffee maker starts brewing at 4:15 am.

I start the day by preparing my coffee and lighting a candle. Something that smells good. The warm light is comforting and for some reason just adds to the quiet sense of this as my personal time and gift to myself.

Then I read for about 5-10 minutes. I just finished Obstacle is the Way and started Stillness is the Key. Then, I grab my 5 Second Journal. This journal was recently recommended to me by a friend. I jot my way through my daily schedule and morning thoughts. Probably the most helpful part is writing down the main project for my day. I am generally pretty scatterbrained and can get through a day without even touching the most important thing. Forcing myself to choose a priority helps me think ahead to getting that done. I also benefit from the hour-by-hour breakdown of the day as a bird’s eye view of what is ahead.

After reading, writing, candle, and coffee, the day may take one of two paths. I may have time for a quick errand or two…empty the dishwasher, pay a bill, or I might do some more extensive writing. If I am working out at home that day, I start my home workout.

By the time I really start moving, I feel productive. I feel relatively calm, centered, and directed. The day is going in the right direction. I blow my candle out and off I go!

My biggest challenge is staying off my phone throughout this process. Some days this is easier than others. I know I need to use my time productively and generally my phone scrolling is sort of mindless. I can also quickly lose 20 minutes and not know what happened. So I try to keep it to paper and pencil as much as possible.

My morning routine for the past few months. It wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me. Sometimes this is the only time I have to myself all day. While I love and appreciate people, getting my mind right and having some time to just think and greet the day myself is helpful for finding my footing in this hectic and unsteady world. What do you do to start your day off right?

awareness

Listen Again

Sometimes KT writes a line that really sticks with me. To be clear, many of her posts make me think differently and many prompt me to make a change in how I approach life or how I act. This is a little different…here’s my take on her recent post about listening and what a gift it is.

Here’s the line (and I encourage you to read the whole post): Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human.

Being a more intentional listener found its way into my goals this year. A series of conversations made me realize that I don’t sincerely listen to people as often as I should. I reflected on the fact that although people ask me all the time “how are you?” and I answer, I don’t often ask them how they are. I’m often so caught up in what I’m doing I don’t even look up. I may make a brief comment but not much else.

What am I telling people as I just let them walk by? I don’t look them in the eye. Sometimes I don’t look up from what I am doing. Sometimes I probably seem annoyed at the interruption.

I’ve been trying to reverse since since it caught my attention. When I think about it, I take the time to put down what I am doing and ask the person how they are. And then follow up with another question.

What I have noticed is that more people than I realized are hungry to share. Excited to connect. They want to tell me a bit about how they are.

I thought I was a decent listener. Now I see that I need work. The invitations to listen are everywhere. How many have I blown off because I didn’t make time or was just too into what I was doing to notice them? From my friends, my co-workers, members of my family?

Among the other unfolding lessons, the pandemic has taught me that people matter more than pretty much anything else. We can’t replace people or the opportunities we have to share with them. I have missed many, but I am committed to doing better moving forward.

I’m also on the lookout for the people who are dropping out of sight. Who haven’t I heard from in a while? Different schedules and limited opportunities to be out and about make those happenstance meetings less frequent. Who is telling me through their silence that they may need a friend? Who can I text to check in with? Who can I lift up with a funny post, a quote, a kind word? Who can I (re)start a conversation with? As KT often says, hope is free.

The motto of the StoryCorps podcast is: listening is an act of love. Who can I love today by listening to them? Who can you?

challenges

The 2020 Ta-Da List

2020 was a year that upheaved many goals. Maybe it was the rules changing about where we can go and what we can do. Maybe it was shifting priorities from getting out and going to just hunkering down and staying safe. Maybe it was self-imposed or created limits of mental exhaustion and the like.

Whatever the reason, 2020 pulled the rug out from our runway of dreams. The universe laughed at our plans. Goals had to shift. Travel, work, adventure, all kinds of things had to pivot.

I looked back at my goals and in a conventional sense, I didn’t meet them. I’m not giving myself a pass because life got hard. It is what it is. But, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to make a little “Ta-Da!” list, which reminds me that despite my 2020 challenges, things still got done.

  • I maintained my fitness regimen, moving my body pretty much daily. Most of the time this meant working out at home or in the gym, but I also started hiking more often and put many miles on my bike.
  • I took a more active role in my personal finances, learning how to move money around and make it work.
  • I partnered with trusted friends to purchase the property for 3Splitz Farm. We navigated the first stages of planning and implementing the vision for our rustic paradise.
  • I started a new business of my own.
  • I established a 501(c) and led that organization through a successful first year.
  • I bought a new car.
  • I read lots of books.
  • I parented my kids through a trying and confusing time in their lives.
  • I maintained several of my health priorities: eat well, drink well, connect.
  • I lifted up my friends and loved ones to lighten their mental loads.

2020 wasn’t what I expected, and 2021 won’t be either. Some of these accomplishments weren’t on my radar at all this time last year. This has all informed how I am thinking of my goals this year. Leave a little more room to move, to play, to grow.

I had to stop myself from writing the “shadow truths” about each of these goals. For most of these bullet points, there is something I could have written as a “but…” But ta-da lists shouldn’t come with qualifications. These are what they are, and many are a start. Several appear in my goals for 2021, to enhance, improve, and expand.

What’s on your ta-da list for 2020?

challenges

Turning 50

A group of my fitness friends and I are building our engines. In addition to CrossFit and extra cardio, this crazy group of ladies throws in challenges here and there just to keep it fun and interesting.

Chick 1 got the honor of throwing October’s challenge at us. And it was a doozy.

“Pick a day. Any day. Hop on the bike erg and ride for as long as you can without breaking. Also for socktober you need to wear crazy socks while doing it and document your duration here with video or photo proof. Ready set go!”

Of course being my PhD self I had to ask questions. Is this for time or distance or both? (Honestly, did it really matter?)

I wanted a marathon distance at least. Had to find a day when I could get to the bike erg at the gym for at least two hours, just to be safe. Finally, a night when I had a 7:00 pm meeting not too far from the gym. I get out of work around 4, so that should be just enough.

Preparation: Pack my bike shorts for extra padding. This would be an endurance challenge for my mind, my legs, and for other body parts, too! (If you’ve spent much time on a bike, you know what I mean.) Take Tylenol a couple of hours before. And stop drinking water at noon or so, to be sure my bladder doesn’t shorten my ride! Checked the gym schedule to be sure the bike wasn’t in the workout – whew!

I raced to the gym on the appointed day. I packed things to read, things to do, my AirPods, and so on. Walked in and thankfully the bikes were empty. I was there before any afternoon classes so I got setup, got my tunes going, went to the bathroom one last time, and off I went.

I just went steady most of the first hour. Saw the 4:30 class come and go. I did some video editing one-handed for my daughter’s college recruiting. Read some old articles on my phone. Just kept pedaling. When the second hour started I couldn’t really focus on anything else anymore. My brain just couldn’t do it. So it became just pedal pedal pedal. 42,195 meters – just gotta keep pedaling!

I did take a photos at milestones, like 20 miles. This was to keep things interesting because honestly, riding on the erg for long periods bores me. I’d rather ride my road bike and go places. I also started to worry that the monitor battery would crap out and I’d be stuck with no proof.

After nearly two hours, I hit the marathon distance. And as I had hoped, I still had a little time and I still had life in my legs. So I did what a crazy person does, I kept going. It’s less than 8,000 meters to 50k. Why not try?

I pushed when there really wasn’t much push in my muscles. I just hunkered down and kept going. Watching the number click, click, click over. Praying the monitor kept working! Watching the minutes tick, tick, tick by. Hoping I’d get done in time!

Finally, I got to the last 500 meters. I was going to do it! Video in hand, I taped the monitor so I could see it click over to 50,000. I was going to take selfies and celebrate next to that big number. 300…200…100…and…ready for my close up…but instead….

Apparently no one is crazy enough to bike 50,000 meters, because after 49,999 the monitor starts back over at 1. 1!

I burst out laughing.

What else can I do but laugh? Sure, I didn’t get my photo opp. That doesn’t change the crazy effort or what I know I completed. Just means it’s time for something new.

Sometimes you work your butt off to get to a goal, then get there only to find out someone moved your cheese. Or that goal wasn’t that big of a deal anyway. Or actually, there’s another goal over the horizon. Victory party sure, but keep it short lived. Start over. Get racing. It’s a never-ending process of challenge and improvement. Maybe this is what turning 50 will be like, too. You get there and look around just to say, what’s next? Every finish line is really a start line.

So I waddled off the erg, packed my things and got to my meeting. Chick 1 gave me groovy Nerds socks as my challenge prize. Bring on November. New goals, new challenges and a great group of friends to conquer them with.