Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Things are looking up!

The year that just ended has been such a busy one. I have been juggling two kids in different schools, two jobs (one online and one at a local junior college) and my own classes that I am taking at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. This on top of my own ongoing health and life goals that I struggle to keep on track and work on. We are all works in progress, after all, and so my attention is pulled to work on myself from time to time too!

Now that we are in a new year, I can reflect on where I have been and where I see myself going. My IIN experience is half over now and I'm certified to begin seeing clients and helping people find a path to wellness! :) I am still employed by both jobs, even though I had hoped to drop one by now. However, we rely on that income still, so I plug on. My children are amazing as ever and really growing by leaps and bounds in so many ways. I enjoy my time with them and feel so blessed to get to spend as much time with them as I do.

This past year was actually a very tough one with my eldest. She has proven to be a challenge when it comes to behavior. She isn't a bad kid, but she has chosen over and over again to ignore what we tell her and make bad choices. We have gone quite a few rounds with her and I really have been sad about how hard it seemed and how frustrating it has been for both of myself and my husband. We repeated ourselves so many times and worked so hard to get through to her. We have given to her in rewards and taken away in punishments. We have tried so many different things to make a change in her and in our relationship and it never seemed to make any difference. Until recently.

In the past few weeks, finally, there seemed to be a crack in the armor. I cannot tell for certain what did the trick, but I think it had to do with the time we spent together over break. I think it had to do with spending time with other people over break and the comparisons she was able to make during that time. I think maybe she started to realize that she DOES have it good? Maybe things just finally started to make sense? Maybe she reached a different point of maturation? WHATEVER it is I am thankful and appreciative for it. I have tried to reward her good behavior and articulate my happiness to her here and there so she knows her efforts are not unnoticed.

If this continues in 2013, this may prove to be the best year EVER. If not, then I guess parenting isn't over at age eight, huh? ;)

This year I have so much I hope to accomplish. I turn 40 by the tenth month of the year and so it is a big year for me personally. When people turn 30 it is usually a big marker in their life and a time for reflection, but that birthday was but a blip on the radar to me. I have a feeling 40 will hit me harder because so much more in my life seems to matter now and I am far more passionate about the people and things in my life right now. I feel like I have accomplished a lot recently in working toward some important goals but I also feel like I am at the beginning of a new adventure.

Things are just beginning! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Taking a Breath

The past few weeks have been a new normal for me and I have taken a break from my normal gym routine to refocus. I have been trying to get caught up with school while trying to keep up with the kiddies and add some new things into my routine.

As previously mentioned, yoga has made its way into rotation and I have to say I am really fond of it thus far. I have gone three times in the past couple of weeks and although I was beat up pretty bad after the first class, I have been exposed to very different classes since that first outing two weeks ago. The first class was intense and focused on core. Needless to say, for a newbie, it was a bit much. While I was able to DO all the movements and exercises, I found that the aftermath was a very painful reality. For several days I hobbled around and did lots of follow-up stretching, trying to regain my normal range of motion. The second yoga class couldn't have been more different, focusing on de-stressing. It was very quiet and calm with simple movements and much more meditation. The last class I attended happened last night and was somewhere in the middle. It was hatha yoga, and focused more on flexibility, breathing, calming, and holding poses. It wasn't bad.

I am surprised by how much I enjoy yoga thus far. Although I had a hunch that it was something I needed and could benefit from, I wasn't sure if I would actually LIKE the classes. What I seem to like most is that it is a quiet space where my mind goes silent. Not often, do we stay in a space for any length of time with a relatively calm/still mind. This is hard to accomplish and most of our time is busied with activity, screen time, beeps and buzzes and typing and other "background noises" that are less in the background than we think. I for one, have a hard time falling asleep some nights because of a busied and anxious mind. I worry, I make lists, and I think through ideas and plans.

Yoga has been a great way to give my brain a mini-vacation, and I had no idea I would enjoy it as much as I have. I anticipated enjoying the physical nature of it all, and that part couldn't be more true. I enjoy the soreness and the stretching. I enjoy the difficulty level and that I feel challenged. I like that I'm adding something that doesn't come natural to me to my routine, because that gives me a chance to learn something new and teach this aging body some new tricks. The mind aspect of it all, however, is very different from any other exercise activity I have participated in and THAT has been a wonderful surprise.

What I am shocked by, however, is the fact that I have yet to get over my anxiety about going. I am not sure what the basis of that is but I am a little bit scared every time I go into that room. Being a creature of habit, I guess I am worried about doing things "wrong" or being uncomfortable with my own body among strangers or maybe it is just the fact that that first class was so difficult. I do feel comfortable there quite quickly after arriving, but that initial GETTING there and going in is still not coming easily. In time, I hope.

While I wait for that to happen, I am trying to take some of what I am learning in yoga into my every day life. I need to take time to breathe. I need to focus more on the moment and avoid getting so caught up in the babbling of my mind and anxiety that it causes me daily. I can get things that need to get done and those things that do not get done will be there tomorrow. I won't always get to do things how I want nor can I accomplish everything alone. Also, in order to accomplish something extra, something else may have to be dropped along the way.

Halloween was a good example this year. I made the girls' costumes for the first time this year, but we didn't carve a pumpkin. The kids didn't mention it and although that is my ALL TIME FAVORITE Halloween activity, it didn't happen this year. I was sad about it, but my time was spent preparing for visitors and sewing and embellishing costumes, in addition to my regular obligations. It was a very busy time and somewhat stressful, but it was still a good Halloween and I got a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction with creating the costumes the girls wore.

I also made a conscious effort to take time to keep the activity "fun" for me. I took time to plan a bit from step to step and took breaks and tried to keep it from being a chore. After all, I love to sew, even though I am still a novice and have to trouble shoot things I don't fully understand from time to time. Machine issues or figuring out how to make something look the way I want it to look without really knowing how to do it, can be a challenge when you have a limited knowledge of things! I got through it by being creative and taking time to walk away.

Taking a breath and refocusing seems to be something that has been missing from my life for a long time. I have become more and more aware of this in the past few months, which is why I ended up in the yoga classes. I had heard about benefits with yoga related to eliminating stress from the body and I knew I had a lot of pent up anxiety in me. I also knew that after exercising for two years, stretching and flexibility work was missing from my routine. I had wanted to start for a long time, but I was fearful of the change and the unknown.

I am taking and will continue to take baby steps that move me away from the fear and toward the embrace of change. Thank goodness for my new found understanding of my body's needs and small bursts of confidence that eek out more and more and help me tackle challenges.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No time and too much to do

Yoga'd Sunday and JUST TODAY am I starting to feel human again. WOW that took a toll and hit me hard. That actually, in my mind, means my body desperately needed it and needs to continue. I plan on trying to incorporate it once a week for now, and hopefully twice a week soon when my schedule opens up.

Things are so crammed in my schedule right now that I am having a hard time finding days/times I can do things for me since I have so many other obligations. It is frustrating to be juggling so many things and to still have to leave so many things I'd like to do undone. There are only so many hours in a day, however, and so for now, a taste of this and that will have to suffice.

Yoga, I know I want to do more of because it is challenging and I want to feel it become easier for me. With resistance training, it is much the same. It hurts me, but I start to feel it become easier, and I know my body is becoming more fit. That is exhilarating to me. I have never been a physically active or strong person, so feeling yourself start to become LESS out of shape is actually quite exciting! You feel stronger and more powerful somehow. That is a good feeling.

But smaller things have been left undone lately as well. Cooking on some days of the week is sacrificed so I can grade, or get in a little family time, or head somewhere to run errands. Time is just at a shortage lately. And I knew things would get busier this year with going to school and my little one being busier, but it is still something that is taxing me in ways I hadn't anticipated.

For example, some of the knee issues I have been having, I have connected to my driving! Our town is very spread out and I am driving more these days than ever with the girls in different parts of town and some places I have to get to in still another area of town. I drive a huge triangle of space and then back over it some days. I started noticing I felt worse while driving. Yay. MORE physical issues. The most surprising part is that it came from driving, which I hadn't anticipated would cause me any issues.

As tonight is a work night for me, I would have loved to have dinner waiting for my husband so that he wouldn't have to worry about cooking, but I never got around to it. I have just a few minutes of "free time" now, and so I'm posting this to purge some of the guilt. :) Maybe not the best use of time, but I have to get it out and here is a good a place as any!

Another source of guilt is that my children are costume-less as of now. There is a parade on Friday, so my little (okay, not so little) hiney is going to have to get in gear tomorrow and buy/make an outfit for my eldest child so she isn't a social pariah at school! She wants to be an angel so I will make the robe/dress part and buy the rest, I think. I am not up to making the entire thing, although it seems easy enough. I hope I find something that works tomorrow after I get them on their way.

So yes, things are hectic. Life is very busy but it is all for great reasons, when I think about it. I am blessed with two sweet and smart and adorable girls who keep me active and a fantastic husband who loves to do things with us on our busy weekends. My body is a work in progress which keeps me going to the gym or looking for activities but it serves me well for my purposes and I am trying to make it better and stronger. I am thankful that I was able to find and get enrolled in classes that are helping to inform me in ways to help my family become healthier and happier.

Focusing on all I have and am and can do and be is helpful to keep me centered and to put things in perspective. It can help me forgive myself too, when I feel like I am falling short (which can be often).

I need to practice this more often!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time flies when I'm having SO MUCH FUN!

I have been gone a while but it is only because I am so busy these days with living life, learning, shuttling people around, and my jobs.

Since I was last here, we enjoyed our trip to Vegas which was wonderful in many ways. I started a new semester of my classes and both girls are very busy in their new activities and grades/schools. Life is really moving fast and so much is happening.

I am also now three months into my fantastic program over at Integrative Nutrition. I am loving the lectures and the readings and the assignments! When can people studying usually say THAT? I love everything we do and hate when I don't have time to fit it in when I want to fit it into my day. I haven't perfected the balance of all our activities and work and family time yet, but I am hopeful that I will get it down soon.

Since I lost wrote, I also celebrated my 39th birthday. That is the first time I have written it out like that and WOW I am getting up there, huh? Strange how time flies. I don't feel a day over 31!!! ;) Honestly, I am probably physically doing better now that I was just a decade or so ago. Only in the last two years I have finally really begun to understand about "health" and make large strides toward achieving it for myself (and my family).

Along those lines, I am so glad that I am on this path to become a health coach. I do have my doubts at times when I see myself in the mirror and DO NOT see the picture of health, but I also know I have a great ability to listen and hear people and love helping people. People talk to me and share with me and I am a problem solver. I also LOVE sharing information about health and nutrition.

One good thing about being on my own path to wellness is that I think it makes me sensitive to the issues that people may be dealing with in hesitating to start their own journey. I was those people not too long ago. I did drive through with great regularity and enjoyed my junk foods and diet sodas. I am glad I am free of most of those vices now, but the trip has been a bumpy one and I may never be completely free of those things! It is an ongoing trek that doesn't have an "end point". Every day is a new set of challenges and getting through each day is always a new and happy success!

So even though I have doubts about not LOOKING the part, I know I am cut out for this work and that I am a great teacher, supporter, friend, counselor, and assistant and I know I will help many to start on journeys to improve their health. Each path is different, but all roads lead to a better quality of life and a happier, healthier body that can do and handle more.

Until the day I start to inspire others, I have to inspire my own ass out of the bed tomorrow. Yoga happened today (for the first time) and Yoga won. Tomorrow starts another week of taking and bringing and lots of gas being guzzled by my little car. I will also have a performance to attend where my big girl is a background singer and plays an instrument with the other kids. She didn't want a big part because she swears she has stage fright. Is that even real when you have never been on a stage or had to perform? Where did she even hear of that?

My goals this week are to stay on top of my lectures and hopefully increase my activity with working out as I've had some issues and have been seeing a chiropractor in hopes of finding some ways to build up strength and have less discomfort. I plan to hit up yoga a second time and make an effort to tame that wench. Here is hoping I survive the week! :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Little Dinner and Dancing and Back to Reality!

I last mentioned my upcoming high school reunion. It took place this last weekend over three days and the two days I attended proved to be interesting affairs. I didn't mingle tons, as I was the same way 20 years ago, but I did connect with some great people and get to spend face time with them--a rare thing for me. I do have texting, and Facebook and phone calls with some, but face time around a table and with some music and drinks is not a thing that happens often for me. For that reason, it was a great time and I enjoyed it.

There were a few "best parts" but one of them was putting on the size Large reunion shirt to find it fit--nicely! What a thrill that was! :) Another favorite time was getting our groove on on the dance floor. Dancing with my husband is a rare treat, that has only happened three times in our marriage. IT WAS WELL WORTH all costs involved for that thrill. :) But just having a night without the kids was a biggie too! :)

Wouldn't you agree that these pictures say everything? THEY make the trip and money and time spent worth it all. The kids loved the pictures too.

I did miss a few very important people who I would have enjoyed having there, but you get what you get and your happy with it, right? This is what I got and I was very happy, all things considered.

What awaited me in the hotel room --when I was in no condition to read, much less read CRITICALLY--was ungraded work to get done by that night. :) I tried beforehand and failed to get caught up and that night I was able to do VERY little so I was late with my grades. I hate that, but it happens and since this is a once in 20 year event, I guess it was okay. I did get up the next morning and opted out of pool time with the family to get all squared away with my job. Having a job that follows you everywhere is a blessing--and a curse. :(

One not-so-small victory was that my eating (and drinking) wasn't COMPLETELY off plan AND I did my first hotel work out on this trip! The equipment sucked and some of it was broken, but I did hop on the stationary bike and do some intervals. Got gooood and sweaty too! I was glad I did it--after the fact--because it showed me that it could be done. I have never traveled and purposely hit the gym while on a leisure trip. I am hoping I can continue this on the next trip I take!

Aside from our weekend trip, there have been a few things rattling around in my head that I want to share, but it is late and the bed is calling. It has been for almost an hour and I've been ignoring it. With an upcoming trip to sin city (my first time), I am trying to chip away at things that may make traveling with work/school easier. It means some late nights for now, but I will be back with those topics hopefully before I leave!

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Being a Student Again and Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Today I started my coursework for Integrative Nutrition. It was fun to listen to the information, view the videos and complete some of the worksheets. It is starting with what you wish to gain from the program and what brought you there. It asks questions about where you see yourself in a week, in a month, in a year, in five years, in ten or twenty years. These are questions that I had never really contemplated before.

Thinking about the future like that, in regard to my career, my children, and other aspects of my life made me focus on what I want and hope to achieve out of life. A lot of it hinges on making something (new) of myself and finding happiness in the career I looking to enter.

I am a bit nervous, if I lay all the cards on the table here, because I have never been independently employed and I cannot imagine running a business. I sometimes doubt myself, but I am hoping that my passion for helping people find their way to a healthier lifestyle will trump any self-doubt I have. The idea of helping someone to lose weight, sleep better, go organic, navigate the grocery store in an effort to eat fewer processed foods, start to feet their kids more healthily, or improve his/her cholesterol, is something that makes me happy.

All in all, it is an exciting time to be ME. Things are so much in flux right now. I feel like maybe I am coming to this late, but I finally GET how important my body is and how I have mistreated it for so long. I really see the value in doing things that seemed ridiculous before. I also feel like I REALLY belong somewhere that I am not currently. I worked so hard to get to where I am, but I also feel like I have been walking in circles for a long time and just not happy. I feel professionally frustrated and plain tired. And I stand--here--on the verge of huge change!

Speaking of exciting changes, just today, a friend talked me into going to my 20 year high school reunion. Twenty years? Surely it hasn't been that long, right? It has. I am older than I want to be, but the alternative is no good! Growing old has its advantages. I was fairly antisocial in high school so I'm going for different reasons. I want to hang with my good buddy, but I also want to just see where I came from, to some degree. We are all very different people who came from slightly similar backgrounds and ended up in various places. I know some people are exactly where they want to be and others are like me, works-in-progress. :) Maybe it will be more fun than I anticipate. I have NO expectations, so I'm hoping to be happily surprised by a great time. Stranger things have happened, right?

It is 20 years since I went away to college to "find myself" (and many other things in the process). I think its a little funny that here I am, 20 years later, still doing the same thing! I'm pretty sure this time I got it, but who knows. Maybe in another 20 I will be reinventing myself again. Hey, if it works for Madonna, I guess I'm in good company!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

T-minus.... nothing! :)

"The time has come" --Ricky Ricardo (That only means something to you, and maybe evoked a small grin, if you are a Lucy fan. If not, then I sound like a big dork.)

D-day is here. Today (Monday) is the first day of the rest of my life.

Okay, okay, I'm a bit dramatic--and cliche. Sorry. Everyday is the first day of the rest of my life, but TODAY marks a new beginning! Today is the day my IIN classes begin! :) I cannot believe this day is finally here. I spent part of the past week reading and preparing with the starter materials provided for me, and in that time, I got good and hyped for what is to come.

I have been reading posts by other students and getting to know a bit about the type of people who are there to study. We actually are so different in backgrounds and experiences, but beyond that are quite similar. We all seem to have the same desire to change our lives and the lives of those around us through health. We want to achieve happiness through healthy endeavors. The kinds of aspirations people have are so different as some come from health backgrounds and others, like me, come from all other walks of life. Some are educators like myself and some come from marketing or business backgrounds. Some are business owners and others are moms who have been out of the workplace for some time. There are people in their 60s and kids who are barely out of high school. It is proving to be an interesting bunch and I think that will help to create a very dynamic learning environment.

The most exciting thing for me has been the brief preview of topics to be covered in the next year. Some of the subjects seem as if they will help to make me a better person overall, improving my personal habits and teaching me so much about becoming a better, happier person. Some of it is science based nutrition and other stuff is based in holistic health. Some of it has to do with the business aspects of becoming a health coach and other subjects focus on creating a balance in your personal life. It is all quite valuable and some of it is very new to me.

The only big problem I foresee is figuring out how to survive the fall. School starts for the 7yo first, then me, then my 3yo will begin her program. The idea of juggling drop offs and pick ups and grading and teaching (at two institutions for multiple classes) AND doing the course work I am now signed on to complete is starting to worry me. Starting this trek toward my new career is non-negotiable, but the rest of it will be tricky. Some compromises will need to be made and hopefully they don't require me to just suck it up and never sleep again! :)

In the meantime, I am having a GREAT and healthy week. I feel awesome, like I am busting through some big barriers mentally because I am enjoying my gym visits more than ever and really starting to feel strong. I feel in synch with my body in a way I haven't felt in a long time (if ever). I hear it asking me to slow down or being tolerant of me pushing it and feel stronger for the efforts I have made at the gym. It has been great lately and this makes me feel happy and accomplished. When your body feels good and exercise is falling into place, it makes it so much easier to eat well. Something about one area going well that makes other things fall into place. Sadly, the opposite can be true too, so its dangerous when I stay away from the gym for too long or let my eating habits slip.

I have to say, though, the focus I have had lately on eating cleanly has made a big difference in my attitude and in what I'm willing to put into my mouth. I still want the things I have always had, but I'm less likely to reach for them now that I'm stricter about limiting sugar, limiting processed foods, limiting chemicals (like artificial sweeteners) and avoiding non-organic foods. I am SO FAR from being perfect but I make strides to be a cleaner eater and it seems to be helping.

I hope loose ends fall into place as the summer starts to wind down, but for now I plan to enjoy what is left and work hard to accomplish as much as I can during this "off" time. That means working out hard, doing well with my eating now that there are fewer distractions, and studying hard to learn and enjoy school as much as I can. I even have new plants waiting to go into the ground and the promise of a fall harvest of tomatoes in my backyard. What an exciting prospect that I hadn't previously known was possible.

I am still teaching and juggling things all summer long but it is the calm before the storm in many ways; it is the beginning of being a student again, so there is a lot to appreciate about this moment in time.