author moments

Symbols

Meaning is hidden everywhere. Places. Signs. Memories. That little park you pass on the way to work every day is the place where someone proposed. It is also the place where some friends had a huge fight. It’s the place where a kid broke her arm and ended up in a cast. Maybe it’s even the place someone first learned to drive, smoke pot, who knows. Countless scenes in countless stories have taken place there. All in the little park you pass each day without thinking.

Meaning, symbols, roadblocks are everywhere. We stumble over the hearts and sometimes heartaches of others without even knowing it.

Music is potent for memories with me. I grew up singing and listening to tunes all the time. Paul Simon, the Statler Brothers, and Dolly Parton on my parents’ 8-track tape deck in our conversion van. Show tunes and standards I belted out with our player piano in the basement. And then the love songs I would pine over each night, wishing in vain someone would dedicate something to me. It took decades for me to listen to the music of Chicago without bristling or quickly switching it off. Even today, there are songs I may never listen to again. Places I may never go. Overly sensitive? Perhaps. After all, it is just a place, a song, who cares?

Maybe I’m just too much. I willingly embrace being labeled sentimental. Someone watching closely may see the quick shadow roll across my face when that potent memory pops up. Most will miss it.

Just part of what makes me me.

For some people, cardinals are a special symbol. A reminder or even a visit from someone departed and dear. A symbol more purposeful than just happenstance…a place you used to go, a song you used to sing to. This is more of a sign. For me, it’s ladybugs. They always pop up at the most unlikely times. They bring me back to myself. A reassurance. A reminder.

Recently, someone new in my life called me ladybug as a nickname. And it stuck. Sometimes when she says it, it makes me smile, sometimes tear up, sometimes just makes me hold my breath an extra beat. She could never have known that ladybugs are so special for me. Just a sign that she has some role to play, a scene to share. A hand reaching out of the day-to-day doldrums to remind me of the bigger picture.

What it all means.

fitness and nutrition

Streaks

I had a goal. It was a goal I didn’t even set for myself until I was well into working on it. Maybe 200 days into it, I guess, I realized I was within striking distance. A long streak. An unexpected one. And then I wondered, is it even possible? Thinkable? An entire year?

It kept coming closer. 65 days. 30 days. 2 more weeks. And finally, just last week, I reached it. A buzz on my watch on Friday afternoon. And a smile that only I knew the cause for.

To think, I started this in the throes of Corona. Way back when we had no idea what was going on or how long it would last. Gyms shut down. Stay at home orders. Working from home most days. What could I do?

I couldn’t do much, but I could MOVE. And move I did.

Some running, some walking, some hiking, some biking, some farming, some CrossFit, too many burpees and not enough yoga. Every day different. But it was at least 710 calories worth of movement for 365 straight days. No misses. No changing the calories, either. There were a handful of days (maybe 30) when I didn’t complete an official workout, but most days I did. Even still, accumulating calories means moving throughout the day. Hard to do when your work is mostly on zoom.

Were there days I didn’t want to? Sure. Days when I was doing burpees at 9:30 pm to get over that finish line? Yes, there were a few of those too. Some days were easier than others. Every day is another day to move and be successful.

I also know I’ve had a fair amount of luck. I haven’t been sick or injured this year, which means fewer excuses and obstacles. I’ve been able to choose myself, and choose I have, every day.

Consistency is key, as many people I admire and emulate say. I have been consistent. It has shored up my mental well being as much as my physical health. Most days I’ve taken a whack at the stress monster before the sun even dreams of coming up. On the many days this past year when I felt like life was out of control, I could at least control this.

A thankful post. The streak keeps going. Who knows for how long? Every day is an opportunity. To breathe, to move, to live.

friendship

The Athletic Supporter

Sometimes I come along for the ride. Someone asks me to be there when they have a big day. When they’re competing.

For this enneagram 2, a helper at heart, this is music to my ears. I live for these moments! Put me in, coach! Some might ask, what do you do all day at CrossFit competition if you’re not competing? Why spend weekends sitting in sweltering lacrosse tents at far flung venues? What do you do with all the down time? Why are you there?

Lots of reasons, really. Here’s just a few.

I’m there to cheer. I’m there to take photos of moments big and small. To capture the day so you can see how amazing you are.

To be a clothes hanger for wardrobe shedding right before the big moment, to carry the bandaids and tylenol, to bring the good snacks and the right color gatorade, to apply the oils to aching muscles.

To provide chairs and blankets and hats. Or sunscreen and water and sunglasses, depending on the season. And umbrellas, always umbrellas.

I am a holder of phones, a fetcher of things from the car when you don’t want to get up from your seat. I am the scouter of porta-potties, or just going along for moral support. I am the counterbalance for quad stretches.

I am the bringer of cupcakes for birthdays or Galentine’s day or just because you like cupcakes. Or bagels. Or whatever you like. I am the maker of signs and shaker of pom poms when the need arises. I am a surprise engineer.

Need scissors? No problem. Sanitizer? Got it. Extra socks or tank top or leggings? Check, check, and check. Plates, spoons, knives, paper towels, Everything but the Bagel on cucumbers? Of course!

Sometimes I am screaming, to be that voice of encouragement you hear above the voice in your head. Sometimes I am wrapping you up in a blanket, hugging you and walking you around in the parking lot as your body temperature and heart rate come down. Sometimes I’m just here to listen to what it was like for you, in that moment. What went wrong, what felt good. The lucky sounding board for all of it.

I’m there for the podium pictures and the postgame meal. For the high fives and the hell yeahs.

Still, some of the most important parts of my day are spent in silence, just witnessing your efforts and achievements. Seeing any moments of doubt and staring at you until you look over and see me, telling you with my eyes, you got this. I believe in you. Being a part of it is amazing. Sharing in the memories, the “team mom” as someone recently said. To be a part of supporting someone I care for deeply. This is my purpose.

author moments, featured

Gratitude and Goodbye, 2020

Despite all the crappiness of 2020, I had a decent year. I learned a ton. I adventured some. I said hello to new friends. I watched as some friendships faded with COVID. I traveled a little stateside. I tried many new things. I hit some goals. I mapped out some new goals. Overall, a successful year in the books.

I am also grateful for my opportunity to write. From journals to picture books to blog posts and beyond. I truly get to enjoy my creative side in many ways through words, pictures and experiences. Many may dream of this life. Few will take the less traveled path. For me it’s part of the journey. 

The learning experience. The sharing of life’s ups and downs and all that is hidden in between. Sharing my lens view with the world from my digital device. Leaving a time capsule for my future grandkids. 

Chipping away at the 1095 Days project that has so much depth the cutting room floor will literally be covered. Years in the making amidst a pandemic of all odd things. So many twists and turns. Editing will not be for the weak at heart.

Thank you to all who follow this blog. Click through to our website. Like our posts. Share our stories. You are our inspiration. From a tiny town in small town USA to a high-tech suburb in Germany. You are appreciated. To all those new countries we reached this year, thank you for popping in to our virtual world.

I may not make it to your home country but hope you visit our site often. We can be virtual pals. It’s the cool thing of 2020. You never know what post is part of our bigger book projects or how we will flip a switch and cover some new topic you were not expecting. Some stories are about adventuring. Some hit on tough life paths. Some hit on the life of a parent. Some even cover emotional states. We offer depth. We over variety. We offer inspiration.

Our site is free to our readers. No ads. No big frills. Just 2 chicks writing their way. Today. Tomorrow. Into the future we go. Just like that. Keep following. A goal every year is to reach a larger audience. We continue down that path because of you. Just one forward. Just one repost. That’s all it takes to multiply our readership. Help us make 2021 a big reader year and share our stories if they touch you in a special way.

*The list of countries above is not all inclusive. However, it’s a snapshot of some of areas of growth in 2020. With travel restrictions limiting international travel it is great to know we virtually put our mark on at least some readers abroad. 

Wishing everyone a happy, sane and safe 2021.

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.