author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

perspective

Skinny

Words have power. For good or for bad, they are powerful.

Throughout our lives words pick up nuances.  Some might say they carry baggage. Words are weighted down with history, and these can be different from person to person. It reminds me of deciding on a name for a child, looking through the books and lists…  Names evoke memories of the Jacobs, the Maxes, the Jennifers I once knew.  Some leave a bad taste simply because of the scowl across the playground one boy gave me in second grade, or the girl who taunted me in seventh.

With that in mind, I’ll share a word that has pulled the rug from under me for a while now. A word I never thought I’d hear anyone say about me.  A word that, as an adult, I honestly never wanted to hear.

Skinny.

But now I hear it pretty often. It jars me when someone says it.  Could be just me, but it never comes across as a compliment. It carries a reproach. Maybe it’s the words that often come before it:  too skinny, so skinny.  They always sound like it’s something extreme.  Like I’ve gone too far.

You’re starting to get too skinny, Beth.

When are you going to stop?  When are you at your goal?

You’re so skinny.  Do you eat anything?

(Reminder, I want to say…you are speaking to a person who has weighed more than 300 pounds.)

In high school, even college and beyond, I used to look at the skinny girls with envy.  I longed to be them.  I didn’t think about healthy or unhealthy.  I just knew skinny was a good thing to be.  It’s what people liked and wanted. Skinny meant pretty.  Desirable.  Choose-able.  Worthy.

Now, when someone says I am skinny, it makes me think I am slight.  I am weak.  I am a pushover. In my mind, I’ve traded my fat for muscle, not just a lower number on the scale. I work hard for how I look, and I choose it in many different ways every day.  I’d like to think what I’ve lost in fat I’ve also gained in confidence, but words like skinny set me back on my heels.

I’d rather hear someone say she is so lean.  She is so strong.  So fit.  So healthy.  Skinny, in my mind, doesn’t cover any of those things.

Stepping back, I think about the people saying these words.  Do they mean to hurt my feelings? Do they know the word stings?  Probably not. Are some speaking out of concern? Do they worry for my health?  Maybe. Are they speaking out of jealousy, as some close to me have suggested?  Perhaps.  For all I know, some may see it as a compliment, but I don’t hear it that way.  Such is the way of words.  Sometimes what we mean gets lost in translation, even when we think we are speaking the same language.

In the end, it doesn’t matter much.  I have learned in recent years that I can’t control other people’s actions, including what they say.  I can only control my reaction to them.  So I feel the sting, step back, then let it go and move on.

I’m the one who has to live in my body for as long as it lasts.  There are a handful of trusted people that I listen to in earnest. Their thoughts matter to me and I take them seriously.  Everyone else may either be speaking from their own agenda or may not know me well enough to have an informed opinion. So, they are taken with a grain of salt and the benefit of the doubt.

And I can watch my own words more carefully when it comes to the bodies, minds, and health of others.  How do I know what others are going through?  How can I keep from stinging them, wherever they may be on their path?  Words have a power.  Speak carefully.  Speak generously.  Ask questions.  Watch my mouth as much as I can. Who knows how often I hurt people with my words without even meaning to?

You can imagine my smile when I opened this gift from my daughter at Christmas.  She has seen me at my heaviest.  She has seen me do the work transform myself mentally and physically.  She took such care to make personal gifts for so many in our family.  She texted me about a month ago to ask me for a photo of my first tattoo.  She chose one word for me, and it is one that makes me proud, and makes me want to keep going.

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Choose your words to build people up, to make them feel brave.  Capable.  Strong.

adventure

Relax Was All She Typed

RELAX!

The one word received by text before I left the country for vacation in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. “Relax”

 How that word sat with me on the plane ride to my destination and beyond. Relax. 

How does a high strung, fast moving girl really relax? Is it possible? The questions that ran through my mind. The soul searching that would happen over the next few days as I figured out if I am capable of relaxing and what relaxing really feels like.

Routine went out the window first thing. No up early to workout. This was a first change of routine in over 4 years. Is this relaxing or was I stressed because I was breaking my routine? I did a shoulder shrug to myself repeatedly when I thought about this change.  Instead of working out hard core, I opted for a casual walk to a quaint little bakery kiosk where I was greeted by a bubbly island girl each morning. A creature of habit, I ordered the same thing each day. A plain but buttery croissant and a jug of orange juice. Both of these are not normal items I would have in the morning or in general but this week was about doing things differently. I was choosing to select differently while on vacation. Maybe not the best choice for balancing carbs / fats / proteins, but for this vacation break I was not worrying about what time I was eating and so on. Just like I wasn’t worried about writing on my blog. I was “checked” out on island time.

Island time is interesting. Everything moves slowly. People are extra bubbly and social. It was easy for me to go to bed early and sleep late each day. I had nowhere to rush to. No deadlines to meet. No bosses to answer to.  I enjoyed the sunsets, the spectacular views, the fresh smells and the people of the island I was on. I had no reason to stress over technology, business or life. There was no rushing to sports practice, no to do list, no deadlines to meet, no bosses to answer to. It seemed there were smiles everywhere. Workers smiled and greeted you at every interaction. Guests were cordial even if there was a language barrier. Island life is definitely slow. It seems to take 2-3 hours for a meal. Food is fresh, service is slow but pleasant, atmosphere is always “happy.”

At last a relaxing time of do something, nothing or whatever strikes my fancy. I snorkeled, enjoyed fish and shipwrecks in the waters below, ate many varieties of food, tasted a new drink called “ting,” rode a horse in the ocean, enjoyed a massage, and met many friendly faces. A few notable friends are described below:

New York – A sweet and sassy woman from NY whom I shared giggles with on my snorkeling trip but then found out she stayed at my resort. We bumped into each other multiple times making us new friends. 

Nix – A bus driver that was a bit quirky. He didn’t smile much and had a long face. He said the word “WOW” a lot. His quirkiness was memorable and his driving skills were interesting to say the least.

The New Zealanders – An older couple I met on a tour. A whole day spent with strangers who had a funny accent but enjoyed learning about our cultures as much as we did theirs. They arrived by cruise ship, us by plane. A chance encounter but one that left many memories. I especially enjoyed eating lunch with these new friends while we learned so much about our different countries. Again, a chance encounter that was very insightful.

John – A taxi cab driver turned tour guide. He picked us up in town at random for a ride back to the resort. He shared his cooler of drinks and gave us his card for his side hustle (tour guide). We booked a tour with the kind gentleman and spent another full day learning about the island from him. His charm, his humor, and his knowledge was a big part of our trip memories.

The cookie man – There is a cookie man and he works in a cheese shop. It may sound weird but he serves the freshest almond paste cookies at the cheese shop when you check out. These cookies were so amazing we went back for more a few days later. He was all out but he offered to make a special batch the next day. We couldn’t wait. We went back out of our way to meet the cookie man at the cheese shop to buy tons of cookies to bring home for our families. Do you think any actually made it home?

AJ – The jeweler, the joker, the hard worker. The friendliest jeweler in town. Oh, how he added to my memories this week. AJ was another chance encounter. I met a wonderful older lady on my plane ride to the island. She had been visiting this island for years and mentioned I should visit AJ should I desire any jewelry this trip. Of course I had to check out AJ and see what all the hype was about.

As you can see from the post above, I relaxed and enjoyed my island vacation, but more importantly I met new people. The kind souls that made my memories will be forever cherished. Some I will never see again, while others I hope to see sometime in the future should I make it back to this island. I never set out to meet new people nor did I have a specific goal in mind for my trip. In the end I had a great time and have an awesome memory book of the time spent on St. Maartin.

My travel time was just right. Enough time to enjoy the relaxing life yet not too long to miss out on all that requires my time on the daily on the home front. I am thankful for many things after this week. Too many to list. As thanksgiving has recently past, I will just say I am thankful for the “relax” text as it set The tone for my week. Thank you, Kim, for the one word text! I appreciate you.

My vacation time was spent on the friendly island of St. Maarten. I spent most of my time on the Dutch side, however I did visit the French side as well as visit Anguilla and Prickly Pear on the British side. I highly recommend travel to St. Maarten and I encourage you to fly a big airline vs. a discount airline. If you make it there be sure to visit the beach by the airport to watch the planes land. It is definitely an experience.

I am leaving you with a few snapshots of my trip. It is my hope that you find some peace in the tranquil pictures. They are meant to spur thought of relaxation and happiness.

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adventure, balance, Teddie Aspen

Neglected

Neglected is the word that comes to mind when I think of this blog site in the last 30 days.

As I shake my head in disappointment, I actually remind myself that I was busy making memories and just didn’t have a free moment to share the glimpses of these memories with the world. A temporary state of course, which means I will most likely be posting repeatedly in the coming weeks and months to ensure this blog moves into an elevated status instead of a neglected status.

This blog isn’t always about life but sometimes it is. Life for me is good, but hectic. The holidays are upon us which add chaos to any family, but I definitely had a busy six weeks or so full of personal and professional travel. Stay tuned for updates via the blog.

On top of the above, I welcomed the cutest little bundle of joy to my family. Not a baby, well maybe a baby. My baby. The cutest little Golden Doodle puppy who answers to the fabulous name of Teddie Aspen. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I am going to leave you with a few of my favorite pics of Teddie. I am warning you I will probably post many, many more through the year as I document training and other puppy stuff under the Teddie Aspen header.

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fitness and nutrition, hustle

I Felt the Drop…

It was crushing to say the least when I saw the 20.2 CrossFit Open workout. I felt the drop in the pit of my stomach immediately. If that wasn’t enough, I felt the drop again after my first attempt.

Double unders and toes-to-bars were listed as two of the three movements in 20.2. Both are hated movements by me and I got them both in one workout. How will I ever move past the mental mountain I created for myself?

It started with my normal Friday workout attempt accompanied by hundreds of failures. Not joking!

It took 20 seconds to complete 4 35-pound dumbbell thrusters and then I had 19 minutes plus to keep going. I only needed to get 6 toes to bar to move on. Well I got one toe, one shoe lace, and many feet above the bar but I couldn’t actually get my toes, shoes or any part thereof to hit the bar in unison to count a single rep per the Open standards. Talk about defeat. My hands hurt. My shoulder were fatigued. My lats were achy.

I was a bit ornery for a few hours after. To take my mind off of my poor performance, I watched some videos on strategies. I did some stretches. I thought about if I would try a second attempt. And luckily I had a Jell-O shot with friends that day so my mind maybe forgot about by failures briefly.

I had a weekend away from technology and the gym so I was able to recover and reset my mind. Fast forward to Monday. A redo is a thought but not a definite yes. Let’s see how my body feels in the morning. Met my buddy David at the box and he was going to do the workout again so I decided to give it a go along side him hoping to springboard off his momentum.

It worked. I got my six toes to bar one by one. They weren’t pretty and they were not strung together. Rather it took me 12 minutes to get them. What that meant was I got to proceed to the next movement which was double unders. Which guess what? I couldn’t do those either. Sigh.

Lord help me! I practiced some calming methods that I read about on the internet. I found a focal point and jumped in what seemed like slow motion. It somehow worked.

Lo and behold, I got one double under. Then 2 in a row. Three in a row. Back to one. Up again to 2. Somehow I made it to 24 and that was a personal best. Something to celebrate. I had many whip marks to go along with all the added attempts but who doesn’t appreciate battle scars?

Round 1 was complete. I chipped away at my mental mountain. I completed four more dumbbell reps which were easy for me. Then back it was to toes-to-bar. Can I get a few more?

My minutes were dwindling but every rep counts. I completed 5 more toes to bar. 43 total reps which isn’t a lot but but it was a lot to me. Another RX WOD for this girl.

I felt I was setup to fail by Mr. Castro. I didn’t let failure stand in my way. I fought back with pure devotion, strength and tenacity. I conquered my battle and set my personal bests.

This is what the Open is for me each year. It’s is a way to show my strengths, my weaknesses and my depth as an athlete. My ego hurt a bit this week. My ranking dropped significantly but I still have three more weeks of workouts to battle my way back up in the ranks.

I hope this story shares a level of me with you that some may never see. Some may choose not to see. But for me it showcases the lows and highs. Life is full of ups and downs just like sports. These examples or experiences are part of who I am. Nobody is perfect. What one shares online is optional. You can choose your filter. This story is raw and real. It’s authentic.

This is my Open book. My CrossFit Open story book. Year after year I write and I document my progress, my emotions, my highs, my lows, and my motivation.

One day somebody will be inspired by what they read. Until then, I will keep writing and working hard. I am in the Open. I am 47 and somewhat fit. I enjoy my Open challenges with friends in my gym community. Come on in and see what the fun is all about. You can find a CrossFit box in your area.

#intheopen
#crossfitmom
#fitisthenewfab
#hwpo
#kt247
#1095days

featured, friendship

They Get Me!

My close friends get me.

They get me at my best but they appreciate me at my worst. And no matter what, they are ready to support me when the sky is falling or when the sun is shining.

That’s how lucky I am. In the past 7 days, I was on the verge of meltdowns for various reasons and each time I wavered I found a pick-me-up. I connected with a friend who knew just what I needed without me saying what I needed. Heck I might not have even known what I need myself. The point is they knew.

Today it was a bad hair day. Call me crazy but it was. My hair felt like a mop or dead weight on my head. A toupee of sorts. Just dead weight. I called my friend/hairstylist and she just knew I needed her services stat. “Drop what you’re doing and come now,” she said. I did just that! In a blink of an eye I was in the car to her shop and wow what a difference she made in my day.

Changing my scenery, even if for a brief moment, was a game changer for my mood and my attitude. A little snip snip. A little conversation. Some giggles and it was time to conquer the rest of the day. Today I celebrate my pal Kim. Her swift action made my day. She was a mood changer in a big way. #moodswings

There is no doubt about it. If you feel good about you, one is unstoppable. Today my hair was my Kryponite. Not sure If it could have been my threat of giving myself a haircut that made her react as she did, but no matter what I’m glad she was there when I needed her. She said exactly what I needed to hear. Change your environment now.

At another time, I needed to blow off some steam after a long and stressful
day. Not my normal workout time but I needed to get my fitness in. Because my mood and time was off I didn’t feel like working out in a class. I was interested more in solitude. Less people, more one-on-one time with myself and what I need to do to push through the day.

My fitness plays a role in releasing stress of my day. If my schedule is off and I missed my fitness regimen I may just shift my mood to bitterness or edgy at times without even noticing.

She didn’t know my plan for the day. She didn’t know the stress of my day. She didn’t know what I still needed to accomplish after hours that was time sensitive. We all can have peaks and valleys in our work load but this day was like a hurricane of sorts. Little did I know when I bumped into another pal she would make a positive shift in my day.

It started when she opted to run with me at the gym. An hour run to nowhere to be exact. She didn’t need to but she kept me company. We shared smiles. We gasped for air together. We challenged each other a bit. We people watched a little. We giggled. During that time there were no worries in my world. I just wasn’t thinking about my to-do list or the ignorant people I dealt with that day.

Unexpected timing and connections happen. Sometimes those unexpected plans end up being amongst the most treasured memories you can make. For today I am thankful for my friend Milags, her time and her ability to giggle on demand.

In this pic we might have even been having some competition on the air runners. I wonder who was going faster? It didn’t matter because the picture clarifies our happiness of just being side by side.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. You never know when you will find a special friend. When you find a quality friend, let them into your world. They may not stay forever, but you can have fun making memories while they are present.

Remember friends may come and go in your life but when they come and make an impact, let them know. Friends are part of your journey. Some stay longer than others but they all play a role at some point. Kindness matters.

And last but not least, there is a virtual toast to my gal pal and writing partner Chick 2. There isn’t a day or week that goes by when we don’t connect to work on a project, plan a surprise or figure out how to balance our hectic and weird life on the daily. Her balance and kindness are always present and we make for a dynamic duo in all adventures we pursue.

In the past week, Beth was my listener friend. The friend that didn’t pass judgment or act as a Negative Nelly when she could have. She let her calmness lighten the load of the world’s woes. Maybe it’s the PhD in her or maybe it’s her tender heart. Either way I choose to celebrate her. Cheers to my pal Beth.

And to those I didn’t specifically name in this post, I adore you all. My relationships are valued whether near or far. Every relationship has a story and each story has a part in my past, present and future. Each of you play a role in making my stories and adventures fun and desirable.

When my friends say “that sounds like a bad idea. What time should I be there?” That’s dedication to my crazy. I couldn’t forget to mention this tidbit as it’s such an important one. I have many friends who are willing to test their limits and adventure on whim most days. Some even conquer fears with me. Mainly the fear of the unknown. The best part is we get to do it together. The adventures are sometimes big while others are small. When you read this you know who you are. There are many of you in my life that add to my crazy and adventure willingly with me. Thank you!

You make my day, my week, my month. These adventures matter. They matter because they keep my life moving and changing. My balance is about shifting, juggling, adventuring all of which represent growth in my world. Thank you to all my friends who help me grow each week.

Until I write about you or others in my future blogs, help me celebrate the Three Musketeers above and my unnamed adventurer friendships who impact my my mood, my productivity, my week and without question my attitude.

Friends matter. The friends that matter most value you in good times and bad.

#friendship101 #besties #1095days

fitness and nutrition, hustle

Getting My Butt in Gear

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Just a few more days until half marathon time. It’s all about fine tuning and staying as injury-free as possible.

As I make my packing list, here are the most important things I’ll be sporting.

My new AirPods with my “run run run” playlist is probably my most important accessory. A birthday splurge.  I am all about the tunes while I’m running to keep me motivated (and distracted)…I’m lost without music.   I’ve been adding and scrubbing songs for months now.  From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Miranda Lambert, Elton John to Maren Morris, Madonna to Stevie Wonder and everything in between…I think I have about 7 hours of music on my playlist.  Hopefully I’m a little quicker than that!

Paired with my Apple Watch, another birthday gift that I’ve quickly grown fond of.  I love how it connects me to other members of my running group and keeps track of my mileage and pace.  I’m still figuring out all that it can do, but I’m enjoying it so far.

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I’ll admit, I’m building my outfit around the shorts.  I have tried several different brands, but I’m going with one of my pairs of Constantly Varied Gear shorts.  I am a 5″ inseam girl.  I love the comfort of them and don’t forget another key element – POCKETS!

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But which pair to wear?  I thought I would wear my colorful unicorns or mermaids, with my Sunday Runday tank top from Miles and Pace.  But, then I feel pretty unstoppable in my Thunderstruck pair with my Strong Like Bull tank.  No matter which pair, it will be CVG shorts, a tank top, and a coordinating V Sport Bra.  (In a recent update, my thighs  started leaning out in the last month, so it will be a size down plain black pair of CVGs!)

Finally, I have a little belt that I bought years ago from amazon to carry along the essentials – ID, gels, pain reliever.  It has been with me since my very first Peachtree Road Race 4 years ago. Wouldn’t feel like a long race without it.

What a difference from that day four years ago, July 2015. I’ve covered many miles since then.  I’ve shed many pounds and even some bad habits along the way.  I’ve picked up some new ways of thinking (and ok, a few wrinkles).  One thing is sure…it is a long haul, and one I still work at every day.    I don’t really believe in “before and after” shots, but there are definitely differences along the path that are worth reflecting on.

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I have made many changes between now and then.  But I still feel the excitement in this picture…this is a girl getting ready to take on the Peachtree Road Race 10K for the first time!  She is nervous, excited, and joyful all at once.

Here I am again in October 2019, facing something new with a tangle of criss-crossed feelings. The day is nearly here! So exciting! Can’t wait for this time with my running group, finally reaching the start line, when we can make our goals happen.  Pictures, giggles, and fun to follow.  And then, what will the next goal be?