balance

Life being Lifey

Life is being extra lifey these days. War, weather, mental stresses, financial hardships, on and on and on. It’s everywhere. My work life, my personal life, family friends colleagues acquaintances are all full of it. People are messy in their best times. Now, their messiness is more like a shambles that spills out and spreads all over.

Assume people will get sick, have issues and set backs and not be able to execute. Assume extra tasks, jobs, and responsibilities are coming as a result of the balls that others will drop. It’s just how things are right now. How can I thrive, survive, persist, stay sane in light of these times?

Here’s how I am hanging on for this bumpy ride:

Eat well. There are certain things I don’t farm out to anyone. Nutrition is number one. I own every step of that process from planning it to shopping for it to cooking it to packing it up. I don’t like being off plan and I don’t always make great decisions when it’s left to the last minute, whatever I can get my hands on. I know that eating well makes me feel better and do better. End of story.

Exercise first thing in the morning. The only possible exception is Sundays. Exercise helps me manage stress and gives me a sense of accomplishment and strength right off the bat. Extra boost if I see my friends and get the social sweat aspect of life first thing as well, but this isn’t always possible. Movement always is!

Stay ahead on things, knowing curveballs are coming. Busy season is about to kick up. When I have an idle moment, I try to think about what task I can push one step (or more steps) forward. Throw the laundry in. Clean something. Stock the pantry with two instead of one. Hopefully, when deadlines come or something is needed, I am ready instead of behind the eight ball trying to juggle and patch things together. Being ahead on what I can eases my stress.

Sundays. Sundays are my reset and ready-for-the-week day. I try to protect this if at all possible. It is often the only day I start with an extended coffee time at home. I write. I pull out clothes for the week. I make lists. I try really hard not to drive anywhere further away than 10-15 minutes unless it is a soul-serving adventure. Looking ahead on the calendar, keeping Sundays “sacred” will get harder and harder as fall’s busy-ness kicks in. Even as I write this, my Saturday and Sunday has flipped for this weekend. But I still try to keep one day with fewer commitments. Go-go-go all the time wears me out.

Notice nature. Get out and immerse myself in nature as often as possible, even for a few minutes a day. Flower farming has been amazing for this. I have a couple of hours a week in our field, just cutting flowers, watching bees and butterflies, soaking up the fresh air. I keep our flowers with me at work and home so I see them many times a day. They always make me take a small mental pause and smile.

What could I add? I need to write more often. I need to stretch. I need to meditate. These fall too low on the to-do list right now and I know each of them would help. This paragraph is a challenge to myself!

These last few weeks have been a lot, at times bordering on “too much, I can’t handle it, get me out of here.” There have been times I’ve considered drinking alcohol, which I don’t do. I’ve considered massive carb-and-cheese-laden meals of things I don’t typically eat. These things float through my mind, I notice them, then remind myself what works for me.

“Self care” has been a buzzword over the last couple of years. It comes with these challenging times. Life being lifey just beats many of us down and we need to take care of ourselves. I am a firm believer that you can’t pour from an empty cup, meaning you have to keep yourself cared for before you can care for others. Self care looks different for everyone. For some, it means doing whatever you want, regardless of the craving and what it costs. For me, self care does not mean self indulgence. Sometimes it means reminding myself what my goals are and what makes me feel healthy. A cocktail isn’t self care for me. Or a piece of chocolate cake. Might feel good for a moment, but then I’m left dealing with the fallout from my own impulsiveness.

In the end, I can only try to control my own decisions, my time, and my attention. I have to redirect myself when the decisions others make upset me. Boundaries are ok to set and adhere to. I only have to explain myself to those select few people who warrant it. But for most people, “no” can absolutely be a complete sentence.

healthy hacks

Healthy Hack: Travel Edition

The 2 Chicks have been on the road a lot this summer. So much joy, so much adventure, the occasional stress.

I’ve shared my favorite tips for experiencing local flavors and activities. Here’s another quick tip for life on the go that has saved me stress this summer.

And so, without further ado, here’s my fab tip:

Have a separate set of toiletries. And not just travel sizes.

Extra skin care, hair stuff, deodorant, makeup, brush, toothbrush, sunscreen…All. Of. It.

I actually discovered this hack during last school year. With all the stress and shuffling of schedules, I often went straight from the gym to work. My gym bag grew from just having a very basic set of skin care to the full assembly over time. All summer long, I’ve either taken my gym bag (with toiletries and my gym clothes / shoes packed), or grabbed the toiletries to put in a larger packed bag.

There’s nothing really magical about it, I guess. Still, it has saved me so much time in remembering all the odds and ends I need on every excursion and adventure this summer. If you don’t have any spares to start with, be on the lookout for coupons and deals. (Some might happen shortly when college students head back to school.) I also stockpile stuff from Clinique free gift offers.

Once you’ve got your set, you’re good to go!

Hope this helps at least some of you with that inevitable travel stress (or the pain of forgetting your toothbrush!)

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Have Fitness, Will Travel

“It’s okay to live a life others don’t understand.” -Jenna Woginrich

The older I get, the more that quote rings true. Today’s example: Time away from home. Vacation, business trip, whatever it is. Many use this as a break from their regular exercise routine. Not this girl.

With fitness, consistency is the name of my game. I rarely go a day without intentional exercise. Some might scoff at this. But, I know I am happiest when I get it done, first thing in the morning if possible. It improves my stress level and mental outlook immensely. Those things need to be on point whether I am home or not…(even vacation travel is stressful!)

How do I make this happen? First, I pack exercise shoes. For a recent road trip, I packed CrossFit shoes, running shoes, and hiking shoes. Second, plan for some equipment if possible. On this stretch, I knew I had several nights in hotels with fitness centers. I packed a 25# dumbbell for other days. That’s about all I needed. The rest could be improvised.

Fast forward to my first night on the road. Reliable Hampton Inn. Saturday morning. Up early for coffee and a quick sweat before my daughter’s lacrosse games.

Walk to the hotel fitness center only to find it is closed for COVID. But the sign on the door says we can get in to the LA Fitness next door. Score, since I have my swimsuit and need to train for a triathlon anyway. Until….LA Fitness doesn’t open until 8:00 am on Saturday and we need to leave for the field by 7:30. What to do…go back to bed? Pout? Nope. Open up the Compass trunk and grab a dumbbell, start a timer, and away I go.

Pulled up a “travel” workout from Street Parking that I hadn’t done before. Pushups on pavement or overgrown grass were a no go. So, elevated pushups against a light post would do. Goblet squats with the dumbbell and some taps against the curb. Got sweaty. Got my heart rate up. Did something. Forty-five minutes later, I am good. The next morning, another parking lot workout with hang power snatches and some air squats. Is it perfect? Nope. But I moved and made myself a priority. Mission accomplished.

The rest of the week was a hodge podge. 5 bike miles to a local coffee shop, then back. Kayaking, running, and a couple of actual hotel workouts with pretty nice equipment to boot. Moved every day and felt much better than I would have otherwise.

Would this work for everyone? Surely not. But making my health a daily priority through movement is one of the ways I honor and love myself. Although some in the hotel lobby or parking lot might raise an eyebrow when they see me, perhaps there are others who feel inspired or encouraged to do what others may not. No matter what, I’m doing what feels best in my own skin.

mental health

Unplugged

I recently took three days and unplugged a bit. I put up the three laptops I use and let them go. Microsoft could go do their updates and it wouldn’t halt my productivity. 

Unless a building was burning down, anything on those computers could wait a few days. I am happy to report no fires arose and I was able to minimize my technical needs.

The good news is I survived. I didn’t have any visible scratches or lost revenue when I unplugged. I delegated a bit and I enjoyed a different view of my surroundings. I engaged with new faces. I opted outside even if the weather was not cooperating. I just enjoyed the limited technology.

I didn’t actually put up my phone which means I was still some what connected but that’s a next step and the first step is always the hardest. I did need my phone for purposes such as maps, tickets, touchless payments and so on but that only confirmed how much society revolves around technology. 

Our eyes need a break now and again. On the flip side of the break I am glad I had my phone to capture memories and photos of the beautiful scenery I was in the midst of.

For this unplugged episode I focused on limiting the distractions on the work front. Minimizing the stress. Putting off til tomorrow. Others may choose to be plugged in 24/7 but that doesn’t mean I need to be on always. I can break away. I have a choice.

I got into a few books during this time as well. I gathered thoughts. I generally learned a few new tidbits. I enjoyed a walk or two. I even got swarmed/serenaded by cicadas. The cicadas I could do without though!

Just out there living my life and telling everyone about it. Cheers to all of you near and far.
Today’s post is a virtual shout out to those who read our blog from the great state of Maryland. I enjoyed my taste of the area while passing through.

fitness and nutrition, perspective

Open to Growth

Last week I wrote about making a second attempt at 21.1 in the CrossFit Open. I was tired Monday morning but I told somebody special I would do the workout again with them. We both improved but many lessons were learned.

One lesson was I did better. I improved. I put in the work. I took my time where I needed to. It wasn’t about being the first to finish. It was about endurance for me. The climb on that wall. Over and over. It was a mental and physical challenge.

I needed to do this for me because in other compartments of life there are struggles. Those who take my mental energy without looking beyond themselves. It’s weird how my CrossFit workouts that hit that breaking point lead me to revelations outside in other aspects of life. When you dig deep, you are in a special kind of mindset.

Keeping with this story, my workout bud was struggling with a movement. She opted to halt her own progress by throwing in the towel a little early. She had enough. She wasn’t feeling like she put forth her best effort. She improved. She did amazing given her experience yet the improvement wasn’t enough for her in the moment. Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. One can also easily display their frustrations outwardly on others around them which happened with this person. The dirty looks. The sour attitude. The pouty face. The isolation. It was all there. Front and center.

Taking this story to the outside world. Today it’s a door slam. Tomorrow it’s a hole in a wall. The next day it’s hurtful words. It’s always best to learn how to keep emotions in check. One can learn this at any age. The sooner you master your mindset and emotions the better.

Patience. Resilience. Balance. Strength. These words all come to mind when I want to shake someone and say yes you did great. Maybe not your personal best or what you were going for but it’s more than many. Nobody ever gets better if they don’t try. She tried which was a step toward growth. She didn’t see it herself. In moments like this other must help the person see their value when they can’t see it themselves.

We should never compare ourselves to others. We all have our own journey. Take pride in your progress and efforts. They will never be the same as the person to you.

It’s open season. Lots of raw emotions flair up day to day. Sometimes it’s my emotions other days it’s those around me. It’s part of the process. The community. We all support each other in successes and failures.