health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.

 

 

 

 

perspective, working women

The Value of Time

This year I will most likely talk about time and its value many times and in many ways on this blog.

It may sound odd but every time I turn around an obstacle could arise because of time in general or how our most precious commodity (time) is spent thus making us have limited time or maybe it’s the perception of less time vs. the reality of time.

To keep the focus I purchased a new clock for my office. It’s a cool clock made up of words that illuminate in five-minute intervals. Thank you Sharper Image for offering cool gadgets.

5 minutes past the hour, 15 minutes past the hour and so on. The illumination is eye- catching and is a great conversation starter.

The clock is also a great visual reminder of time, my need to write (words), and my need to evaluate my time continually to insure I am on track with all that I do.

Today’s thought spurred after I read an article on the time limitations of males vs. females. It was interesting but as I reflected I sighed and said hmmm I can relate.

I can relate to the roles women are depicted in. The wife, the mother, the corporate executive, the cook, the laundress, and so on. Now some households have a male counterpart who contributes or pulls a fair load but “moms” end up as the go-to for many things, people and so on despite having to work these days.

Just random food for thought here. Until next time, please use your time wisely and make you a priority at least one hour a day. I know you will thank me if you schedule you time one hour a day.

You could read a book. You could research something on the internet. You could get your nails done. You could do many things in an hour. Try it!
And a special thanks to Dove chocolate for the time traveler reminder!

dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?

perspective

Soaking Up the Rays

It seems like it’s been raining for days and days. The days turn into weeks. The yard is muddy. There are puddles in the distance from every window.

Rain, rain go away. Come back another day. The childhood song plays in my head over and over again. The dog doesn’t want to go outside to play. The sky is grey. The wind is howling. The days seem long.

Is it napping season? Well, it seems like nap time comes with the rain days. Can the weather really impact your day? I think so. And when it rains over and over again the rut seems to get bigger.

Finally the sun peeks through the clouds. A small glimmer of hope. The grass starts to dry. The wind dies down. The dog gets to play in the yard. Stress level is down. Energy is abundant. I sit on the back porch to soak up the rays of sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Another childhood song full of memories pops into my head. The squirrels are running through the trees, rattling the branches. The puppy is attempting to chase endlessly. The birds are chirping away.

How today that song has so much meaning. My dad is ill. He is in the hospital. As I soak up the rays sunbathing I find the song soothing. I reflect on the memories of the good times. I feel the warmth of the sun. I feel the companionship of my dog as she lay along side me.

It’s not a spring day. Rather it’s a winter day in which I was able to feel the warmth during stressful times or worry. The weather indeed impacted my day, my mood, my environment. I’m soaking it all in.

Porch sitting. Sun bathing. Relaxing and reflecting. 1 hour today. No technology. Just a break from the ordinary. It wasn’t planned. It was whimsical. It became magical.

The sunshine made my day. The heat gave me reminders. The calmness that came with it all was heavenly. Sometimes we just need to slow our roll and enjoy life’s little gifts.

As my dear friend would say:

Looks like you enjoyed a sweet slice of life today. Or maybe it would be you found the magic in the mundane today. No wait, I think it’s the effervescence in everyday that came to light.

Enjoy today. Take a deep breath. You never know when it will be your last.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?

 

 

 

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.

IMG_3922

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