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?

health

Who’s Got Time for Sick Days?

It’s the final days of December which means 1099s, W2s and a million other time-sensitive duties for a roll-your-sleeves-up kinda girl boss who gets shit done daily. All of which causes friction with overlapping sports and holiday break time for the teen. Chaos ensues around scheduling on the home front. Add in a new puppy with training needs and you get a full plate. A very full plate that requires careful planning and execution daily.

That means every minute, every hour and every day is pretty much scheduled, leaving no down time. Enter the flu and strep going around your community and the feeling of “oh no, I’m gonna get sick” eating away at your mind!

Weather changes from below freezing one week to 70 degrees the next. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, and then bone-chilling cold when the sun drops. All perfect backdrops for getting sick. Boy, I sure don’t have time for a set back like being sick.

Getting sick means changing my routine. Missing the gym in the morning or not eating perfectly. When sickness hits so does a case of crankiness, and nobody likes a cranky person around them!

I managed to survive strep thanks to a shot in the buttocks and some antibiotics. I then dodged the flu bullet for now despite a few close to me getting sick.

Packing up the holiday decorations. Restocking the pantry and fridge with healthy eats that are macro-friendly. Getting my goals set for 2020, this year being a big year for many reasons. ‘Tis the season to not be sneezing because there is just to much to be done personally and professionally. Can you relate?

I didn’t even add in the fact that during the holidays you spend extra time with family that can in some ways cause a different kind of stress. Time to get my mind right to tackle 2020 with vim and vigor.

It was not at all fun playing catch up during such a critical time of the year. Let this be a lesson learned to everyone that self-care is very important. Keeping a routine schedule of sleep, healthy eating, good hydration and physical fitness can be a great first defense against the flu as that time of year approaches when germs are airborne. A good winter coat for the climate you are in is a good second defense, along with some vitamin C. And for you clean freaks, don’t forget Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and good old Lysol.

On a side note, I am a big baby and could have had it a whole lot worse this winter but I will plan better next time. Maybe only travel to warm climates in the winter and maybe schedule some days off to have a cushion for the crazy January brings each year. Days off is self-care, right?

On the business side it was a record-breaking year amidst the chaos. I guess it’s true I thrive under pressure. Nasal pressure or board room pressure? I guess it’s all the same. Girl bossin’ and hustlin’ 2020 away.

perspective

Never Say Never

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“I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch every day at work for the last eighteen months,” I told her.

“You mean you eat one thing for a week, then switch to something else?”

“No, I’ve eaten the same thing every single day, week after week after week, 99 percent of the time.”

“Oh, I could NEVER do that!” she responded, in a mix of disbelief and exasperation.

Hm.

Well, I thought, this is a person who appears to be healthy and fit.  Maybe she can eat different things all the time and maintain her health.  Maybe she doesn’t struggle with using food as entertainment / food as comforter / food as problem solver like I do.  If not, good for her.  For me, what has worked with sorting out my nutrition is basically monotony.

I figured out what seems to work and for the most part I stick with it.  Fat-free higher-protein yogurt and coffee with measured creamer for breakfast, chicken Mike Nuggets and protein chips for lunch with lots of infused water. A handful of beef jerky if I am really hungry between meals.  Dinner has a little more flexibility but I prep protein each weekend and choose from there.  If I keep to this all week and don’t go insane over the weekend, my energy, my strength, and the scale number tend to stay in the range where I feel good.  What works for me won’t work for everyone.  Maybe it won’t work for anyone else at all, and that’s fine.  Not a big revelation there, really.

But, what really stayed with me was the word NEVER.

I could NEVER do that.

What would I say I could NEVER do?

There are the nevers I just don’t like.  For example, I could never eat shrimp for breakfast.  I could never own an orange car.  I could never be a school bus driver.  Never is really too strong for all of these…If I had to do any of these things, I would.  But I’d really *really* rather not.  Maybe this is the type of never my friend was mentioning when it comes to my monotonous lunches.

But then I also think about other nevers I have said in the past.  I could *never* do CrossFit.  I could *never* run a half-marathon.  I could *never* weigh under 200 pounds again. All of these nevers have now gone from to-do to ta-da! All of them took effort.  All of them took facing fears.  All of them took questioning myself and the limits I place on me.  These are not just preferences.  They are self-doubts.  Limits.  Roadblocks by choice.

Some of these once-upon-a-time nevers have become among my proudest accomplishments.

As George Addair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

As I think about my goals for 2020, I’m listening for the nevers in my self-talk.  Are my nevers “I don’t wannas?” Are they “I’m scared to try”?  Are they “I’m scared to fail”?  And if they are fears, maybe that’s a sign I need to put them toward the top of my to-do list?

What are your nevers?  And what are they holding you back from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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awareness, featured

The trigger. The seize. The aftermath.

 

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He was clearly upset. Withdrawn. Facing away from us when they finally arrived after going around and around and around again trying to find us. So much effort and time trying to relax at the beach. Environmental conditions created stress. A lot of stress.

The trigger: stress in his environment. Unknown factors lurking. A racing mind.

Recently he had been doing so well with helping and navigating and being responsible in life and on this trip. I know he is growing up and takes such pride in his adult successes… he’s achieving and as he achieves new challenges come. He is growing up.

Miscommunication leads to frustration adding to elevated stress levels. Triggers in his world. Triggers that can spark negative thoughts and emotions that make his mind race. The peace in his brain turns to excitement or sparks.

After staring into the ocean, silent, for a while, I could see he was trying to manage those feelings. Those sparks that agitate him. He finally just turned over and laid down, head down, on the beach blanket. No sunscreen, no words, no nothing. He was trying to settle him. I know that feeling!

Every few minutes he would pick up his head and pound the sand where his face would lay as hard as he could. I figured he was trying to carve out a resting spot for his ears and cheeks. But he was also still working out that ball in his stomach. He probably popped up three times to pound the sand. I offered him our shovel but he didn’t respond. He was in his own space. His own head space. He was battling his inner demons.

A turbulent mind I would explain to most. Filled with why me? Why now? Why in public? What did I do to deserve this life? At one point he got up and went to put his feet in the water then went right back to sleeping, wrapping a shirt around his head. he just laid there silent and still in the sun. One may think this is no big deal.

I see it. I see the challenge. I see the mental burden. I see the chaos lurking. I see the pending explosion. The seize is here. The seize is happening.

It was the sound that hit me first. It was a guttural scream, a groan, a call. A shout. And then he was jumping, lunging, arms out reaching for the closest object or person of comfort.

5-8 seconds seems like a lifetime in this moment. Passers by freeze. Judgment is silent. An eerie feeling is in the air as those close say nothing.

The girl who was sitting next to me in our low beach chair was the support. I knew what was happening and tried to jump in between them. Told him who I was and where he was. I used his name. It’s ok. It’s me. You’re on the beach. You are safe. Put my hand on his arm to try to calm him. He was still confused. He said his ribs were hurting and grabbed his side. That’s when I got scared since I didn’t know what that meant. I got help.

She was in in the water just feet away. Not out too far. I ran out to her and she was calm. She asked me what happened and just coolly walked back to him. She knew it was coming just didn’t know when.

At least she seemed cool compared to my jumpy insides. She called him over about halfway to him. Come get in the water with me. And he did. He went with her and they walked out together and a minute later he dove in the waves. I just watched silently as she cared for him and walked through it with him as she had a million times before. Then they called for boogie boards and I brought them quickly. Then off they went just laughing and swimming and hitting the waves.

When he came in you could tell he was a little quiet. Self conscious. She said he surveyed to see who noticed, who saw his episode. Like he has done many times before. Then the day just wore on. He threw the football and flew a boogie board like a kite and laughed and smiled his special radiant smile.

Did I do anything right? Did I help? His seizures are so different than the ones I had seen in the past. I thought I would help him get to the floor and try to cushion his head and protect him from hurting himself as the seizure ran its course. None of the that happened.

This was quick but violent. I wasn’t prepared. It was unexpected. If I was startled I could only imagine what this felt like for him. I understand he fears the seize daily. The unknown. The perceptions of others in the aftermath.

How would I feel living this way? Would I even want to live this way? I admire this boy for overcoming this challenge and the many challenges he will see in his future. Life isn’t easy. Adding a medical challenge like seizures to your life as you enter adulthood may be one of the toughest hurdles he will have to overcome.

I, like many others, admire this young man. He is so strong and so determined but also so tender and kind. He’s a caring soul. He loves kettle corn and kinder chocolate, he gives amazing hugs and is so generous with family and loved ones. He has also endured so much but never takes advantage. He works above and beyond and without drawing attention to it or complaining. He cares so hard for others, keeps a warrior’s heart while weathering storms in his own brain. New love new admiration. And a new desire to understand and cheer for him in ways that matter.

And then his Mom, who had taught him all of this with courage and resilience and determination. Who fights for him and expects him to become his best self. Uncompromising in her belief in him and advocacy for him.

I’m in awe and amazed constantly and more so now than ever. If you ever come across a family who battles daily with a medical challenge, offer kindness and hope your way.

You never know if it’s a good day or a bad day for them. They are most likely shielding their life struggles like most put a bandaid on a cut. Kindness matters. Never judge unless you can walk a day in that hero’s shoes.

He is my hero. Our hero. He his one tough cookie. Today we celebrate him and where he is going in life. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Seize today.

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celebrations, dare to be different

The Extra Bling

What girl doesn’t like bling?

Well apparently the group I travel with is not willing to settle for one medal when they can get another to earn the bonus bling. What’s next….a 5k the morning after!

Sunday was planned to cheer on two of our group running the 5k before we hit the road for our return leg. And then the next not-so-good idea hatched.

The smarty pants of the group read the fine print. The fine print nobody else read because we all focused on the headline….the Marathon. Nope, she read that if you run the smaller race on day two you get a medal for that race and a bonus medal for accepting the challenge.

None of us registered in advance for that. Most of us were sore. Why on earth would we run a 5k? Well, because we are crazy.

Beth, aka Chick 2, sent the email to verify we could register onsite. One by one we agreed this is a very bad idea but we can do it. It’s only 3 miles. That’s a fun run compared to the day before. We pop the Aleve. We whip out the extra set of running clothes. We hydrate again. We giggle.

We have zero preparedness. We grab a quick bite to eat on the way. I got the last bagel at the shop. It wasn’t my favorite flavor but it was a carb and I needed it for fuel. Let’s face it, I needed rocket fuel.

This is us. A group of fit-ish people spending time together making memories. Pain is only temporary, I said to myself. If my calves hurt when it’s time to run I’ll walk. I’ll just keep moving. Isn’t that what life is about? You keep moving through whatever obstacles get in your way.

Port-o-potty time again. Oh, how I hate port-o-potties. They are one of the nastiest places to go voluntarily. You can not unsee what you see inside of them. You can’t not smell the rancid smell that comes with them when the contents are baking for hours in the hot sun. It’s absolutely foul.

Moving on to the race line. The national anthem plays and there is a sense of calm in the air. One by one we line up. We are moved like cattle through the corral. 5-4-3-2-1 time to get this run done.

One mile complete. That wasn’t so bad. 33% complete. The scenery was amazing. A park setting with beautiful trees. Less spectators but off to the streets we go. Houses rich in history. Roundabouts to run. Corners to turn. Mile two was there before you knew it.

Running back to the park you see some running mates. You hear the cheers from friends. The final stretch ends in the minor league stadium. A grand entrance of sorts.

Crowds of people in the stands cheering as run the edge of the field to the finish line. It’s over. We did it. We earned the bonus medals. We didn’t die. Life will continue.

The irony of this story is the bad idea was actually a great idea. The short run loosened us up for the long car ride home. We ran with friends who cheered us on the day before. We did something spontaneous. We made more memories.

The Bad Idea Club is open for membership. Are you ready to join or will you create your own club with likeminded people?

This post series goes out to my tribe. My tribe of strong friends who push through life with me. Thank you for an amazing great story, awesome memories, and adventures to look forward to.

I added some unexpected medals to my collection this weekend. So glad I have friends to remind me to step out of my comfort zone to conquer what seems impossible in the moment. Reflection is key to development. I am always raising my bar to foster my own personal growth.

This post is the third of a series. Be sure to read about the PJ party and the equation post. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.