My Brain Says…but My Heart Says…!

One of my challenges from My Bucket List is to write a Business Plan for a Company I’ve Been Thinking About (#280). While I have not actually written a business plan for 214 Fitness, a mobile fitness company I started with my husband; I have had quite a few other challenges in getting its operation running smoothly.

I know that I am supposed to be using empowering words. Words that make me feel like a Rock Star! At least, Tanya Aliza stresses this in her Welcome to Unlimited Fan Page Profits! training. I am taking her training to learn how to set up a Face Book Fan Page for 214 Fitness. (I guess, I can mark off Take An Online Course To Better Myself (#272). Anyway, I have been working on this training for months. I have been working on a website for months. I have been working on brochures for months. Nothing seems to be coming together for me when it comes to setting up a profitable fitness business. It seems I have exceeded my creative mental capacity to design anything remotely pleasing to the eye or attractive enough to entice someone to sign on as a client.

Yesterday, my emotions got the best of me. I was feeling like a failure in the business arena, a failure as a wife-which goes in line of my failure as an athlete, a failure at financial independence, a failure at my full-time “real” job! Ultimately, I was feeling like a failure of LIFE

Being Challenged In Life Is Inevitable, Being Defeated Is Optional. – Roger Crawford

All I could think about was my inability to get this business running and make it successful. I have one client that I have had for seven months. I had another that was really inconsistent and rarely showed for training sessions. I had another that signed a contract and backed out at the last minute. All I get are excuses! Too many to list. Then I thought about my own inconsistencies: inadequate planning, taking on too much other task, helping others instead of focusing on my business and my own fitness, getting side tracked with home, life, social events. These are all valid excuses that makes this whole business adventure not seem worth the time of day. People offer to help but never come around to it.

The fact is my own insecurities get in the way.  I was never designed to be a great athlete…or athlete at all; for that matter. Hell, I didn’t even know there was  a such thing as organized recreational sports until I had children. I thought sports were only played for school teams. Maybe I did know but never realized it was a thing. I tried Track my Junior year in high school. I was awful! I was FAT! I had no skill. I certainly could not run! Ultimately, I was an embarrassed myself and the team! Who was I to think I could ever be part of a team? I had a coach (not surprising that I can’t remember her name) that didn’t really care if I was there or not. She witnessed my inabilities and rather than “coach” me to be good at something, she threw me in on the shot-put. By the way, I couldn’t throw either. I have never had upper body strength! I still cannot do a pull up; even if you put a gun to my head! When she didn’t have enough runners for an event, she threw me on the roster at the last minute. I did not know the difference between a 400 meter and 800 meter track run. There was no one-on-one coaching to help me improve or talks about how I could get better or what I needed to do to fix my weight to make it easier. What do you think I did to overcome this embarrassment? I did something even more embarrassing. Ridiculous actually! I started smoking so I would have an excuse not to join the team my senior year. I had smoked off and on since I was seven years old and it just seemed like the thing to do to cope with everything wrong in my life. However, it became one of the reasons I wanted to open 214 Fitness. I wanted an avenue for young teens and adults to get the training they needed to succeed in whatever sport they wanted to participate in. I want them to be able to choose a different outlet to cope with life and not turn to tobacco products, drugs, or alcohol.  I wanted to be the mentor and the motivator to help them become the best “THEM”!

Lately, I feel I can’t even do that for myself. I feel like I am suffocating most days; watching myself move forward while I am planted in one place. How can I truly help someone else? As least that is what the brain is saying…the heart says “You care way too much to give up on a dream. There are way too many people that need your help!” The brain tells me, “It’s embarrassing for your husband to weigh less than you.” My heart is telling me, “You are fine! You look great! You are beautiful inside and out!” Sometimes, it’s hard to truly feel what the heart is telling you. I have battled weight issues my entire life. I have dealt with name calling, sounds made as I walk down the passageway at school, notes left on lockers. Sadly, that stuff does not stop when you become an adult. I dealt with the same scenarios and some worse while I was stationed in the military. Those memories are why I fought so hard to lose weight when I was stationed in Puerto Rico. It seemed everyone around me was thin and beautiful. I just wanted to be thin and beautiful too. I married and got pregnant; well I got pregnant then got married. After our son was born we went to visit my husband’s family in Texas. His mother was thin and his sister was thinner. I felt like an over-inflated baboon around them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I never heard anything but kind words from them. I am fortunate to be a part of such an amazing, giving, and supportive family. But it did not stop me from feeling fat and insecure. That pressure did motivate me to lose weight. When I joined the military I was roughly 165 pounds. Probably more! I worked out morning, noon, and night. I watched every morsel of food I ate, counted every calorie. I dropped to 114 pounds. I felt so alive. I had so much energy. I loved myself. For the first time in my life, I really did love myself!

Recently, I had talked with my mother and she described her weight loss. She isn’t even trying to lose weight; it’s just happening. Just what I needed to hear at a time I am processing my “fat” talks. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for her efforts (and a little worried that she is losing too much weight). But…I am instantly frustrated! Here I am fighting my entire body’s system to lose weight I have gained since retirement. I am fighting hypothyroidism that doesn’t want to correct itself. I am fighting my mental anguish over the lack of energy and motivation to do anything. I get nowhere. My brain says, “You’re a personal trainer! How can you expect people to want you to train them. You don’t even look like a trainer?!” I feel like I should be on a Fat-Farm! All I want is to look good, feel good, have energy to get through the day without an energy drink or a nap or two, or sometimes three. I want to feel strong and conditioned. What I really want is that feeling of love and happiness I had for myself in Puerto Rico. I felt amazing, energetic, unstoppable. I miss that feeling! But I can’t get it back.

I also have to assess there are things that I am not doing right to get where I need to be. Consistent training and nutrition! Yes, even personal trainers can get off track! I know that my workout routines have been greatly inconsistent since I have been battling pharyngitis, bronchitis, and allergies since Memorial Day. Then there was the high heart rate during runs that concerned my husband enough to insist I get my heart check out before starting to train again. While most of the symptoms are gone; the cough wants to become a permanent inhabitant of my body and my heart turned out to be extremely healthy (as I had told him). I am finally starting to be more consistent in training sessions. I hired a coach to help me get back on track. Dennis Welch of the Dennis Welch Endurance Project. I met Dennis when he lived here in Virginia. We ran in the same running group. Once that group broke off, he started his own. I was training for a marathon with another group and would see the workouts he would do at a local park. He was very intimidating…reminded me of my husband when he would do his workouts. Their concepts were very similar. Anyways, Dennis’ training sessions are brutal! I feel like I can’t even get through a quarter of the workout. I used to get frustrated when I would review them. I would think, “There is no way in hell I can do this! I don’t have that kind of strength or stamina. I am starting completely over. It has been years since I trained for a running event. How does he expect me to do all this within these limitations?” But every time, I go out I have to try to match the plan. That’s the perfectionist in me. Even if I know, It is way beyond my current ability I have to try!

For instance, on my Monday run (Aug 19), the plan as written was:

  • 20:00 warmup of tire pull or easy run, then
  • 10 x 800m at MRP in minutes and seconds, with equal rest recovery jog or walk between as needed.
  • So, to execute, let’s say that your MRP is equivalent to a 3 hour marathon, which would be 3:00:00. So you would then make the hour into minutes and the minutes into seconds. So in this case, you’d run your 800s in 3 minutes. If your MRP is equivalent to a 4 hour marathon, then you’d run your 800s in 4 minutes.

I could not even do a quarter of what was on the plan; partly due to family and schedule commitments. My 20 minute warmup ended at 15 minutes. My 800 meters at Marathon Race Pace (MRP) followed by an 800 meter recovery run/walk between sets was a disaster! Ultimately, I was to complete 800 meters in 5 minutes, jog or walk 800 meters in 5 minutes for 10 sets. I felt pretty good with the first 800 meters but the second set became a run/walk. I ended it at the second set because it was like I was pushing a bulldozer around the track. I felt defeated! So many emotions became too overwhelming to continue. I felt like I lost myself over these past few years and I can’t find me. In fact, during my workout, I could see a vision of me running in the distance ahead, the physical me is steadily dropping back until the vision of me is no longer visible. Now, I have left myself behind! I’m no where in sight. I don’t know where I went. I’m struggling to keep up! It’s all just too fast! Frustration, confusion, feeling lost. Those are the words I feel. Unaccomplished, unsuccessful, failure plague my inner being. I feel myself trying to claw myself out of a hole. The darkness is too great. I can’t see ahead!

Remember, I said that I was inconsistent in training and lacked nutritional value. I believe the nutritional value is the key to these emotions spiraling downward. These feelings stem from not being able to perform at a level I once was at. I can barely push this 159.6 pound body to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. When I finally jump out of bed at 5:15, I quickly throw on some clothes (that I did not take the time to lay out the night before), use the bathroom, get a drink of water, take my morning Synthroid for the hypothyroidism, and rush out the door no later than 5:24. Yes, it is just that specific! There is no time for breakfast in this scene! Plus, I have to wait 30 minutes before I can eat. Notice too, that I did not grab a lunchbox. So let’s continue…Leaving any later than 5:24 , I play hell getting a parking spot in the designated parking lot at work. I reach the parking lot by 5:45 most mornings in order to get a parking spot. If I find my timeline is off while driving, I rush as fast as I can to get back on schedule. I finally make it to the parking lot and it gives me time for a short nap before heading into work at 6:20. Still no breakfast. If I get so hungry that I start to shake, I will visit the Rusty Anchor for some breakfast. Nothing in that joint is healthy; unless you consider scrambled eggs with egg shells healthy. Lunchtime…takes way too long to arrive. All I want is to head to my car for another nap. Finally, 11:30 arrives and I head to my car for that short nap I had been waiting all morning for. Forget food! Sleep is way more important. Unfortunately, thirty minutes is never long enough. The alarm goes off at 11:59 and I head back to work. The afternoon drags on forever! Finally, 2:50pm and it’s time to leave the office for the day. I either visit a personal training client or head home. The choices then become workout, clean my much neglected house, or Uber my husband and friend to our next social engagement. It is usually a brewery, a concert, or a local restaurant. Sometimes, it’s all three. It never stops! Oftentimes, my husband will ask me if I ate anything that day. Of course, I lie and say yes so I avoid a confrontation. When he was deployed, my sons were his spies to make sure I ate. I have this aversion to food in the sence that I don’t like to take time to eat. It takes too much time when there are so many other things I need to do.

Honestly, I feel like I sabotage myself. My physical fitness, my weight, everything! I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t deserve to look and feel sexy. Maybe all those school kids were right, my father,…maybe…I’m just fat! Maybe that’s my destiny. Maybe, I had fooled myself all those years ago thinking I was anything of an athlete; a runner. Maybe the strides I made to get better was just a fluke. I wasn’t really supposed to be able to run 9:30 minute miles. Maybe, I wasn’t really supposed to run multiple half marathons, two full marathons, or even a 50K Ultra marathon. Actually, Dennis says there are some people that have not business running. Maybe, I’m one of them! After all, with all the training I put in, I still wasn’t running very fast. At least, that is what my brain wants me to think! My heart tells me that I was destined to be great! I was destined to influence, motivate, and encourage all those people that are just like me in their struggles. People are watching you even when you don’t know they are watching. People are imitating you, even when you are at your worst. People need other people to inspire to be like. Ok, maybe that is only me admiring the abilities of other and wanting to do the same! 

This week, I decided to make a change. Changes are never easy. I set my alarm at 4:30 so I can do a little strength training or maybe some yoga before getting dressed for work…I have not been successful at this yet. Just like Dennis’ workouts, I will keep trying until I get them right. I did manage to take time to hang out with my husband. Really hang out. We ran together…ok, we were in the same park running; just not side by side. We had dinner together…YES, I COOKED! We even watched some TV shows together. It made me realize just how much I missed hanging out with him and working out with him. That was a good win to this change process! Life takes on so much of us that sometimes we forget what is truly important. Sometimes, we let others dictate how we spend our time and we forget to take time for ourselves. Sometimes, we let the opinion of others dictate how we should feel about ourselves. We are all different. We all have different struggles. We all have those mental images of perfection we must battle. We are all perfectly beautiful in our own way. God made us all different for a reason. We are unique. Embrace what makes you unique!  

Success Is Due To Our Stretching To The Challenges Of Life. Failure Comes When We Shrink From Them. – John C. Maxwell

Words, Words, more words…

I have been reading a book that explains how to become a better writer. The book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Hardy, details what it takes to…well, the title explains it all. Yes, I am probably one of the few remaining nerds that still find satisfaction in rummaging through the library bookshelves to find the perfect book. I had to hurry out the door when the librarian told me I could check out 30 books at one time! Admittedly, I have checked out this book once before. Hence, as you will notice in the coming sentences, I never finished it. I think I even had to pay a late fee.

In any case, this particular book says I should write at least 30 minutes a day. It does not matter what the subject is, how the words are formed, or even if it just makes sense (or non-sense in my case). The idea is to write. Get the words out of your head and onto paper. It also says, “Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.” The reason I have had such a hard time writing this year is exactly this reason! I felt words had abandoned me. It was no longer fun or witty; it felt like a job – a boring, everyday mundane job. I am sure most of you can relate because you probably have, well, a boring and mundane job! After all, not everyone can live their dream or even work their dream! I was dealing with this whole writing issue on top of the fiasco with the bathroom remodeling I told you about last month. If you forgot about that whole mess of a life, you should reach back to this story here, Some Challenges Are Not Planned. If there is any story that made me look and feel stupid, it was this one. Talk about putting your trust in people and having it trampled on – along with stealing your money! I do not think anything can make a human feel more stupid that that! 

Anyways, I have been practicing that concept of writing 30 minutes a day but what I wrote is not what I wanted to post. It goes back the above statement where your writing makes you seem humdrum and boring. I felt it was dry, brittle; kind of like the limbs on my lime tree right now. That is not my vision for this blog. I need a little more spice in my life and my reading.

Now, here it is, two days before the end of the month and I still have nothing to post. I reached out to some friends…ok, so it was only two friends, but who’s counting…about what I should write. No offense, Karen and Christine, but you are my wing-ladies and really my only sources of creativity at this point in life. Christine thought I should write about “Balancing Life”. Perfect idea since I have a huge disability with this! A.N.D. since I have not completed any Bucket List items this year, my sources are rather limited. Even though, I still have a gift certificate Christine got me for Christmas to drive a racecar on the Richmond racetrack. Umm, I need to mark that on the non-existent calendar I have for all things fun and adventurous.

Well, that was two days ago and still nothing to post! Yesterday, I spent the majority of my time in bed, with a horrible cough that made my insides feel like they were going to explode and a headache that made my head feel like it was on fire. After all, I have been battling bronchitis since Memorial Day! Should I mention that I was also up all night with these symptoms and a dog that was having pretty much the same kind of night?! It did not take much convincing to call my boss and tell him I would not be at work. 

Anyways, Christine’s ideas sounded like a good one; until I sat down to write. I will put that topic on hold for another day when words do not want to reveal themselves. Today, it is all about Words, words, and more WORDS! Today is really the last day of the month though!

What do you consider makes a good story? How do you write a good story? Where do your ideas come from? Do you really look at the present and past tense of a sentence, the preparatory and non-preparatory statements, or the conjunctions of a word? I learned all those things in Middle School but do not dare ask me to recall what all those things are today. I was good at recognizing them but age has taken hold and my memory does not serve me well. I think my brain freed up space for the less important things in life: cooking, cleaning, and managing a full time job and other people’s schedules. You know the drill ~ at least any adult should. I was excited when I read Chapter 3’s title, Shed High School Rules! Then I realized it was really talking about the paragraph structure and not necessarily the sentence structure. Guess there is going to be a lot of Googling in my future!

Wait! I just discovered Microsoft has this thing called Smart Lookup. If you’ve been reading my blog then you already know I’m computer illiterate. Honestly, I don’t know how my boss puts up with me…I the ability to crash Microsoft Excel better than any test dummy in a fake car. Sometimes, I crash it on every click of the mouse button! Anyways, if you turn on Smart Lookup and right-click on a word (literally), it will find things on the internet related to your “word”! This is how I discovered that Wikipedia defines morphology as “the study of word formation and structure.” You would think I was dissecting something as if I were actually in a science lab! Wow! There’s even a movie called “The Words” with actors and actresses I’ve never heard. Ok, before I continue down this rabbit hole, let’s just get to the point…not sure that I really had one but…

The point is…WORDS! Everybody has them! They may not sound the same from person to person. You know this first hand if you’ve ever said something that someone totally misconstrued what you said. They may not look the same when written on paper. Honestly, how many languages are there? I can barely speak proper English let alone trying to speak another. They may not have the same affect (or is it effect?) for each and every one of us.

Words provide different feelings for different people; whether spoken, unspoken, or written. Think about it! The word love when spoken may leave you feeling happy. When it’s displayed through an action, for instance a hug, may leave you feeling warm and cozy inside. Then when it’s in writing, may put you in tears; much like that fancy Romance novel you’ve been reading. At times, words may leave us speechless. Other times, we say more than we should. Remember that last argument with your spouse or significant other? Yeah, we’ve all been there, I’m sure! The point is, we all have words. It’s the way we use them that truly makes an impact on our audience. Ann also tells us “you’ve got to choose words well – and write with economy and style and honest empathy…”. Afterall, everybody has feelings…ok, maybe not, but Everybody Writes!

December – Merry and Bright

This December was probably the hardest year for me to get into the spirit of Christmas. For some reason, it seemed more stressful than most. I don’t know why that is. I love Christmas and the spirit around it. It is not about receiving gifts or even the giving of gifts. It is about watching the faces of loved ones when they open their gifts. It’s about experiencing their excitement and potentially making their wishes come true! I try to choose the perfect gift for each recipient. I think about their personalities, their interests and hobbies, and something they would love but would not spend the money on for themselves. I like to be unique but I also like it to represent our relationship. This year, I was at a complete blank. Enough talk about the gifts. It was the second week of December before we ever ventured out to get a tree. Let’s talk about the tree…

THE TREE. For me, the Christmas season only begins once we have a tree. Every year, I set the goal to find the biggest, fattest, most luscious tree on the lot. Every year, we go right after Thanksgiving. I try to choose a day that is cold but not too cold, a little wet but not pouring, and festive. We always go to the same place…every year! It’s a tradition. Tree picking day, is a festivity for me. I bake cookies with the boys, serve hot chocolate or eggnog with a little rum, and play Christmas music as we decorate the tree. At least, that’s how I remember when the boys were younger. Now, they are grown men and haven’t been home for those events in a few years.

Unfortunately, because I was having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season, I waited…and waited…and waited. Maybe it was hard because of how special they used to be and now I just don’t have that. I tried to share it with my nieces and a few of my friends children but I don’t think they were really into the idea of decorating a tree or maybe it was me that just wasn’t into it! The day came when we just had to get one no matter what. Both they boys were home, we had my husband’s cousin join us and even my son’s friend. The day was set to be perfect; except it was a little warm. We made our way to the tree farm. When we arrived the lot was almost bare. The trees were short and scrawny. I was extremely disappointed but I’m sure my husband was extremely happy.

You see, we joke every year about how I have no perception of size and matter. Usually, the tree does not fit in the house and Wes has to spend at least an hour cutting it down enough to get through the door and then more time trimming it so it will fit in the designated corner. TREEZILLA is what my sons call my trees. So not to have a Treezilla this year was kind of disheartening. The last one was thrown in the back yard and took years to deteriorate. I think I ended up throwing it in a fire pit.

After we got the tree, I had to decide what I was going to serve for dinner on Christmas Eve. I always do dinner Christmas Eve so that we can enjoy Christmas Day without too much hassle. Christmas Day is about enjoying each others company and leftovers from the night before. So what was I going to serve? Every year in October, my husband starts with the suggestion of serving a goose! This year he even had the boys chime in and then friend after friend would agree. No! NO! and NOO! At one point, he wanted to get two ducks and a goose so he could set them on the table and say DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE! So let’s talk about the dinner…

THE DINNER. I did surprise my husband with serving a goose. Not the ducks, just goose and ham. Of course, he was at the store when I picked it out. Darn the luck when I got to the register and realized it was going to cost me $70. It was too late to change my mind. He was with me. I just couldn’t endure seeing the disappointment on his face. So the night before Christmas Eve, I started preps. I knew the goose and ham were going to take a lot of attention so I prepared the green bean casserole and cheesy potatoes. I started the mashed potatoes too! Yep, those poor mashed potatoes~they didn’t have a chance from the start.

Originally, I was going to have Karen make them. I had already put her on cookie duty because I suck at baking. (Yes, we talked about baking cookies early while decorating the tree…those were store bought. I just put them in the oven with hopes of not burning them.) I told her I would go ahead and prepare them (mashed potatoes, that is, not cookies) so all I had to do was throw them in the oven just before the goose and ham were done. Well, apparently, I had too many irons in the fire because my mashed potatoes turned into paste. PASTE! I threw away 10 pounds of PASTE! It was late at night. I was frustrated and tired. But I had to go to the store for another 10 pounds of potatoes. I really wanted to scream! Why was it so important to do them the night before? They don’t take much time to make. I could have and should have waited. Before heading out, I was talking with Karen on the phone and told her my dilemma…so she offered to make them for me-even though she doesn’t like to cook. She likes to bake. I was so thankful at that very moment! I had dogs under my feet every where I turned, my feet hurt from standing all day, and I felt alone in this endeavor. Asking for help was out of the question. It’s always a disaster when I allow anyone in my kitchen to help. Christmas Day, when everyone gathered, I realized that I forgot to make the dinner rolls, I didn’t make the homemade cranberry sauce, and my sister-in-law brought green bean casserole instead of stuffing. All of my children’s friends were cancelling at the last minute. I had all this food! Food for about 30 people. It seemed to be a disaster. So I put on my happy face so we could enjoyed dinner. The goose, however, tasted like beef. I really wasn’t that bad. My brother-in-law just arrived home from Japan the day before, my sons were home, my sister-in-law and nieces were there. My friend, Karen and her boys came over! It could not have been any merrier for me. It was truly about spending time with family and friends.

NEW TRADITION. This year, I decided to start a new tradition. We would incorporate games right after dinner. Instead of sitting around a tv and watching movies or staring endlessly at each other, we would play games in which there would be prizes. The first game was a wrapped gift. I bought two gifts and included gift cards in them. I wrapped them and wrapped them. Apparently not good enough because neither one made it around the table a full turn. So the objective was for the person holding the gift to put on a Santa hat and oven mitts and try to unwrap the gift before the person next to them could roll doubles with two dice. Once doubles were rolled the gift and dice moved to the next person to repeat the process. Then we played Bingo. Once someone called “bingo” they could still continue to play but were not eligible for a prize. Each player received a gift for winning. This year was a gift card to a Taco Bell or Starbucks and small Visa card. Each gift was round $30 each. There was just enough gifts for each person to receive one. I believe everyone enjoyed the inauguration of the new tradition. Now, I have to decide what gifts will be for next year. Suggestions, please!

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON. Once, I reset my mind and took all the pressure off myself to make everything perfect, everything was just that…PERFECT! I was able to witness the smile and glistening of my husband’s eyes when he realized a TV was being delivered for his game room. It was the only gift I could come up with that he would never expect. I watched the excitement of my nieces as they opened their gifts, especially since they thought I was going to make them wait until Christmas Day! Both my sister-in-laws seemed to love their gifts as well. My brother-in-laws were equally pleased. But it’s not about the gifts that made it so special. I enjoyed time spent with family and friends. I am fortunate to have loved ones around that wants to join us in celebrating such a wonderful time of year. To me, there is nothing more special that sharing moments with family and friends!

I hope you had yourself a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

October – Unconventional Challenge

My Bucket List Challenge for October is a little unconventional but it definitely touched on my comfort zone. The month was filled with excitement, new prospects, uncertainty, and celebration. I made the decision to journey down a new path in employment. I left the comforts of my previous employer to take on a mission with a new company. Any one that knows me, knows how extremely difficult this was. I don’t like change! It’s not easy for me to adjust to new environments. Learning new people is an extreme task all on its own. 

This journey to employment change actually started in February. I told only a handful of people. I was even reluctant to tell my husband. What if the deal fell through? I didn’t want to seem like a failure.  Eventually, I had to look at it in a different manner. Not failure but a new opportunity! I had to realize that some change, as scary as it may be, is actually good. In fact, it could be rewarding. The new prospective company had sought me out through LinkedIn where my resume is posted. Obviously, if a company that only knew me through a computer based software saw something in me, I had to start believing in myself. I knew I had to make a change. I wanted to make a change. My old job was slowly killing me; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I was becoming someone that was truly not of my character. I was growing increasingly unhappy, bitter, and even sometimes, downright mean spirited. 

Yet, I was afraid to jump into another “contract” company because let’s face it…no matter what anyone tells you, “the grass is NOT always greener” on the other side of the fence.  I agreed to move forward as if I were going to take this position to give myself time to figure out what “I” wanted. More importantly, what I “NEEDED”! I attended a mandatory course and started the onboarding procedures. May rolls around and I had been skipped over for this hiring phase. I wasn’t upset as I knew there were four people in line for the position and two were unemployed. I’d like to assume it went to those that “needed” the job. I figured it just meant it wasn’t my time to leave my present company. After all, I loved the company I was working for. My supervisors were very supportive. The company has great benefits. The managers are eager to help in any way possible but even they have limits.  While I was allowed to participate in certain company programs, it had to be outside company time, any courses for job development was outside company time, there was no compensation for attending job development education events or courses. Therefore, I stopped doing those extra things that set me apart. Well, honestly, that came after my second payroll reduction. I had taken two huge pay reductions in a matter of six months. I didn’t see any point in paying money out of my own pocket when they weren’t even meeting the area average for the job I was doing. Again, I really loved the company but there were aspects to the job and “other” associates of the job that I could no longer subject myself to. I knew I was capable of so much more than the “associates” gave me credit for. There was room for process improvement but only a select few wanted to improve the process. 

September is in full churn and I was contacted again about accepting a position at a new company. Yes, the one from the previous inquiry. After much discussion with my husband; the going back and forth, the what-ifs, and the maybes, I decided to move forward. I knew there was something more for me. I knew there was a job that would lead me to “employment happiness” and I wasn’t going to find it unless I stepped outside my comfort zone, set aside my loyalty concepts, and jumped with faith two feet forward. While in the midst of accepting a position at this new company, I was interviewed by another very promising company. This really gave me an ego boost…to think there were two companies that wanted to hire me at the same time! Turns out, they were merging together to become one so I don’t know if it really counts. It’s now October, and the day finally comes where I give my notice. You can really tell your worth in the eyes of others when they have to bid on your services. My present company didn’t even try to come close to the mark! They didn’t even try to meet my original starting wage. Worse yet, after explaining all the complications with the position I held, even if I had stayed, nothing would have changed. 

Change is sometimes good! It allows you to open up to better opportunities and self-growth. It challenges you to experience life. After all, life is going to happen so we might as well join in on the fun. I have enjoyed this change. I, at one point, would cry all the way to work and dread getting out of my car because I really could not deal with the mundane environment and the negativity that filled the air on a constant basis. Now, I have to be at work much earlier than I am used to but I get off earlier too. I work with some pretty amazing people; supportive, informative, and charismatic. My car is no longer filled with tears of dread in the morning but an excitement to find out what the new day has ahead. How long will this feeling last? I ask myself that but I am going just to live in the moment. Enjoy the experience while I can and be happy with the change!

End the end, if this position goes away, if the contract is not renewed…I can feel confident that I have the ability to take another promising employment opportunity with another company! I no longer have to the fear of what I would do if I lost my job. I can just enjoy the fact that I have a job and can always find another if necessary!

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” –Confucius

The Wave Crashers Return

Emily and I had our second surfing lesson with VA Surf Sessions. Wes couldn’t join us on this adventure so my friend, Christine, joined us as a new “Wave Crasher”.

Last Sunday, I did not apply any sunscreen to protect against the rays. The backs of my legs were really burnt by the end of the day. To avoid a repeat of that day, I had Christine spray the backs of my legs with 50 spf sunscreen. We were provided a rash guard shirt for the lesson. After filling out the required paperwork, we chose our boards and sat in the sand to listen to the brief.

This weeks lesson consisted of seven participants. I was a little concerned that there were so many people as I was under the impression that there were four surfers to a lesson. Our instructor for this lesson is Charles. He has 13 years surfing experience. He took us through this rather entertaining introduction and repeats surfing terminology similar to last weeks lesson. He was a rather funny guy and very entertaining. He had an assistant, Josh. Josh is 18 years old and only has one year experience. I explained to Charles that my niece was very nervous about surfing. Therefore, I was a little apprehensive when he sent her off with Josh for a little one-on-one experience.


Unlike last weeks lesson, we all sat on the beach while one group went out to surf. We rotated throughout the two-hour lesson. I felt this method did not provide adequate time for getting comfortable with the water or to help Emily get over her fears.

On our second ride out, I passed Emily to Charles so that she could use his expertise to get comfortable and hopefully have an enjoyable ride. As they make their way out, Christine is already on her way with Josh. I, on the other hand, struggled to get past the break. I kept crashing into the shore line. The waves on this particular day was tumultuous or so it seemed. It must have been a comedic sight because the dads along the beach were laughing at my every attempt to get past the break. Finally, I am past the break! That took forever. I decide that this is going to be the wave. Okay, maybe not this one! Well, not that one either. But the next one. Yep, that was it! I finally rode my first wave! It was awesome! Exhilarating! Exciting!

There were two young boys that were part of our group. Tyler, from St. Louis, Missouri and Maxwell from Norfolk, Virginia. The boys were amazing. They took to the waves like experts. I talked extensive with Tyler and he began to tell me all about his four year old niece that surfs really good. Four years Old! I can’t even stand up on the surfboard. I can only imagine that she was his inspiration for learning how to surf. Unfortunately, he tells me there are no waves to surf where he is from. I hope he continues this adventure. It would be an awesome experience to be able to share this sport with his niece as they grow through the years. I wish I would have had a video or more pictures of the two young boys to share with you. It was great to see them try surfing for their first time.

Also apart of our group was Kim and Leslie. One of them came all the way from California to visit the other. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which one. I really enjoyed talking with the two of them. Like myself, they seemed to struggle with the waves. It was obvious they were having fun with their experience. I even surprised them by take a few videos for them to share their experience.

Before I knew it the session was over. I was feeling a little disappointed because I did not get the experience or time on the surf that I was really hoping for. On the other hand, Charles provided some insight that helped me to ride my first wave. It was a nice experience but I really wanted more time.

The next day, I woke up with this horrible rash on the back of my legs. I could only guess it was from the sunscreen. After a few days, I decided to go to medical to have it evaluated. The doctor was stumped and had no clue to what it could be. She prescribed some steroids with hopes it would take care of the issue. Luckily, it did and I did not have to see a dermatologist but it is odd that it was caused by a sunscreen that is suppose to protect you from the elements. I am so thankful to be past that misery!

I feel so fortunate to be able to share this experience with my husband and friends. I feel especial important that my niece wants to join me on this journey. I am so grateful for the time we spend together. After all, she is a teenage and most want to spend their time with friends and doing things that friends want to do. God has truly blessed me!

“There are so many different elements to surfing. Small waves, big waves, long boards, short boards. This makes it a sport you can share with people. It’s not just a solitary thing – it’s become a family thing, too. It’s about exercising and passing something on from father to son, and from mother to daughter.”
~Kelly Slater

Wave Crashers and Surf Rider

July’s adventure was all about water sports. Surfing, to be specific! I think I may have found my new addiction. The best part is, I get to share this adventure with my niece, Emily. I feel like the luckiest aunt in the world.

I have been trying to find ways in which I can connect with my nieces and nephew. They have lived apart from my husband and I almost their whole lives. Yet, I still look for things that we can share together.

For Emily, it is our desire to be adventurous. We both want to learn to surf. We both want to learn to scuba dive. We both want to go tubing and climb mountains and hiking! She is only 13 and is willing to experience all these things with her Aunt Dee.

We took our first surf lesson together with VA Surf Sessions in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I was really calm leading up to the day of our lesson. As the time approached for the lesson to begin, I was getting butterflies in my stomach. I soon realized that Emily, too, had those same butterflies. She was really nervous but excited. I was really excited that she had joined Wes and I on this adventure.

I have always admired the ocean, the waves crashing to shore, the smell of the salt water. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and grew to love the feel of the ocean breeze. Standing there on the Virginia Beach shoreline, known as Croatan, memories flooded my brain. I envisioned myself riding those waves like the surfers do in the movies. I quickly learned, it does not happen like it is portrayed in the movies.

Our instructor was Bryson. He was extremely knowledgeable. He had been surfing since he was 8 years old. He has an opportunity to go to Africa and teach surfing once the season turns cold here. That’s an awesome experience for such a young man. Anyways, he went through all the steps of describing the waves, the rip currents and what to do if you get caught in one, and practicing how to land on the board.

It’s time to hit the waves! We get out pass the breaks and take turns riding the waves. Getting past the breaks was our first challenge. I soon realized that I needed to add more shoulder and arm workouts to my routine. I was amazed at how fast I fatigued just paddling out for the first wave event.

First up is John, an addition to our group. There are typically four people to a group. John does really well but I can’t remember if he rode his first wave. Wes is up to take his turn on the wave. He, too, does really well. After a few attempts he is up and riding like a professional. He is our “Surf Rider”! As much as I admire Wes, he annoys me with his ability to accomplish things so effortlessly. I wonder if his skateboard days has anything to do with his ability to surf so easily.

Emily’s turn! She attempts to stand up but soon falls off the board. She tries again. She is able to get on the board in a squat style attempt but not really able to stand up. I can see fear in her face as she tumbles, like a tumbleweed, to shore with waves crashing down on her. I saw her go under a wave and felt a panic inside me. She surfaces and I see she is okay. I worried that it would scare her away from trying again. We talked a little about how important it is to keep trying; to get over the fear so it doesn’t entrap your being. Even with her fear, she decided to go out and try it again. I was so proud of her for not letting fear take over!

Now, it’s my turn! Bryson pushes me off with the wave and I miss my opportunity. I try again, and again, and again. Each attempt was much the same as the last. I felt frustration creep up inside me but was determined not to let that take over the fun I was having. It is a new experience and I was determined to enjoy it to its fullest! I never really did stand up to ride a wave. The waves seemed moderate but they were difficult to ride. Like Emily, I did more tumbling and crashing into the shore line than actual surfing.

Well, the fact that Emily and I were never able to stand up and catch a wave did not detract from the extremely fun day we had. It was a blast! We laughed off the day with naming ourselves, “Wave Crashers” and headed for lunch at Waffle House and indulged ourselves with my first taste of Sweet Frog ice cream before heading home.

We ended our day of adventures with an agreement that we would get out to try another surfing lesson together!

“Surfing big waves is not an extreme sport to me. I fall off, tumble down, and come up. My heart’s racing because I’m thinking I almost drowned, and I thank God I can breathe again, but I always think, ‘What am I hitting?’ Water.”
Paul Walker

Vitamix: Natural Facial Mask

I have this extreme love for my Vitamix Professional series 750. I know that seems strange to some. I do love it more than any other appliance in my house. In fact, it is the most used (and some days the only used) appliance in my house. The recipes that can be created with the Vitamix are endless. You can make smoothies, frozen desserts, confection sugar. It can make HOT soup. Yes, that is right! HOT soup! Anyone that knows my affinity for soup will understand my excitement that comes with this feature. It can also clean itself! How many appliances do you have that can clean itself? I will get more into how that happens later on.

Before I get into the review of this recipe, you should probably have a little back story! It starts with how I have battled rosacea for many years now. This is partly my fault. I never really take good care of my skin; face or otherwise. I am always the one to go out in the sun without sunscreen. I never drink enough water…EVER! In fact, I get up just in time to throw some water on my face, brush my teeth, and run out the door for work with a cup of coffee in hand…by this time I am usually at the point where there is no way I am going to make it on time. The other half of this story is that I also battle hypothyroidism. That alone can leave your skin dry, often cracked, and flaky. I refer to this as “dandruff of the face”! Disgusting, isn’t it?

I was searching for some new recipes to try and found this recipe by Vitamix.  The website states, “with banana, plain yogurt and avocado, this all-natural facial mask will tighten pores and firm skin”. It consisted of three ingredients: 1 banana, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and 1 avocado. I broke the banana in half and put it in first. I added the plain yogurt. Finally, I cut the avocado in half. Set the seed to the side and took the avocado out of the peeling. I put this in the blender. The recipe indicates to blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is met. I found that I had to do this several times to get the smoothness that I wanted. I must give a warning that this recipe makes about one pint of product.

Now that all the blending is done; it is time to lather it on my face. I put a good lather on and let it set until it was completely dry. Thank goodness my husband and sons were not home. Can you imagine the comments that I would have received walking around with green goop on my face? Being comic book junkies, I would probably have been deemed the female version on the “Hulk”. Because I lathered it on thicker in some areas, it took a little while try. I recommend staring with a thin layer if you are short on time. Luckily for me the weather was not conducive to being outside so I was stuck cleaning my bedroom. Otherwise, I would not have taken this much time to let it dry. I’m just being honest! I hate being indoors. It is a waste of a perfect day to enjoy what God created for us.

Anyways, the facial has dried and it is time to removed. I must add that I could really feel the mask pull and tighten on my face. It was an odd but pleasant feeling. In the removal process, I decided to use an loofah type washcloth. I used this because my skin was extremely dry and needed to release some of the dead skin. It had an exfoliating effect. I only dampened the cloth, used the rough side to remove the mask. I felt a difference right away. My skin felt really soft. I then took the cloth side and finished removing the leftover product. I was amazed at how my skin felt on just one application. Later on, at bedtime, I felt some of the dryness return.

Now, I do not take one application as an indicator of its powers. I like to try products several times before throwing in the towel. I have used this product three times and each time my face feels better. I still have the blotchy redness created by the rosacea so I am looking for something that will help in that area. I can not put the fault of that on this product as it is designed to tighten and firm the skin. I tried this for the dryness because I felt the avocado would provide the moisturizing affect I was looking for.

A few things I think the recipe card should have provided:

1. It should indicate approximately how much the recipes makes. The amount I made out of this recipe would last me months. Unfortunately, it will not last in the refrigerator that long.

2. Speaking of refrigeration time. How long does it last in the refrigerator? I put it in a pint mason jar and used my FoodSaver to vacuum as much of the air out possible. I hope this helps it to last a little longer.

3. List other uses for the product. This is essentially food that can be used as a facial cleaner. Can I use the left overs in food products? For example, in oatmeal, adding some granola, etc. By the way, I made sure to set aside the portion I was using for my face so as not to contaminate the rest of the product with skin cells of sorts.

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe and what results you achieved from it. Share some of your favorite recipes and I will give them a try as well.

Happy blending,

D.

June – Mandatory Family Fun Day

The day started with a deep conversation with a dear friend. Her struggles really hit my heart.  I wish there was something I could do to help her through this season of trials in her life. She is by far my greatest friend. She was there for me when I had absolutely no one else. She nurtured me through my own family struggles as a teenager. I watched her and her family. The bond they had made me envious. I wanted the same bond with a family that I knew I would never have. Her family showed me that it was possible to have a close family relationship. Her example is what helped me develop the bond with my own sons. I love her with all my heart and will be forever grateful of the example of a friend that she has been to me. Still, I am lost…I don’t know how I can help her. She now struggles with family relationships, heart disease, and issues I am unfamiliar with. How can I help her?!

After our talk this morning, my own family hit the road to Richmond, Virginia where we spent the day whitewater rafting with Karen and her family. Is it strange that I feel guilty for this trip after my previous conversation? I had to make a mandatory fun day because if I did not, I would not have been able to spend time with my sons. Their plan was to sit around the house and play video games all weekend.

The traffic was horrendous on the way there. Stop and go…for absolutely no reason. It seemed as if we were never going to make it there. There is nothing worse than sitting in a car with Wes driving and his frustration is at its peak. I knew I should have drove. At least then I could pull over and empty my bladder without listening to complaints and comments. Instead, I just sat quite, waiting until I couldn’t hold it any longer. Fortunately, he had to go before I ever said anything.

We arrive to the site a little early so we meet Karen and her crew at McDonald’s because it was literally right across the street from Riverside Outfitters. Not having much to eat before we got on the road, I wasn’t going to complain. It is not my choice of a good lunch but beggars can’t be choosy.

We finally reached the time to check-in and get our briefing. I am so excited by this point. I just knew it was going to be a great day on the water. I was looking forward to having something exciting and different to do. The day proved to be just that!

It was an awesome ride. We rode the Level I and II rapids because we had a very small 11 year old with us. We had a quick dip in the river and threw water balls at each other. Our tour guide was awesome! I am sure he thought we were a crazy bunch. I had Karen pick up a disposal waterproof camera for me and all the guys laughed at my archaic device. They acted like it came from another dimension. I actually thought it was pretty cool to have a tool blast back from the past. Kids today just don’t know what they are missing out on!

The trip was over and we headed to a restaurant called “Galley“. Unique for anyone that served on a ship of any kind. The food was good. The restrooms had piping for the toilet paper and paper towels. It also helped brace up the stalls. I definitely recommend stopping in there and checking it out.

Luckily, the trip home was pretty uneventful. We took a different route and seemed to be home in no time. I really enjoyed my day on the water and spending time with family and friends! There is nothing more I would rather be doing!

Stay tuned for my next post about Riverside Outfitters. They have a ton. more opportunities for me explore nature and peak my adventure side…whitewater rafting level 5 rapids, mountain climbing, kayaking level 5 rapids….the list goes on!

The Not-So-Scary Ferris Wheel

May’s Challenge…Ride a Ferris Wheel (#301). My husband and I were about to drive through the Downtown tunnel in Norfolk, Virginia when he noticed this huge Ferris Wheel across the way. You know it must be huge for him to see it as he is literally blind in one eye and limited vision in the other.

I looked up the information for the Ferris Wheel. It is operated by SkyStar. It is a nearly 15 stories high; equaling almost 137 feet high. This would peak my fear meter for sure because I can’t even climb onto the roof of my house to remove the growing pine trees from the gutters. I also found out that it is not called a “ferris wheel” rather an “observation wheel”. What is the difference between the two? You tell me. For the sake of my blog, it will be called a Ferris Wheel because that is what I envisioned I would be riding!

I thought this would be the perfect May Challenge. I have never ridden in a Ferris Wheel. All day, I envisioned us on this Ferris Wheel. I was going to ride this huge Ferris Wheel and it was going to be extremely scary.  It was going to go around fast and there was wind and people were screaming.

Okay, so maybe that only happens in the movies! What actually happened?! It was enclosed! What Ferris Wheel is enclosed? How can you get the feel of the wind? Where is the romantic vibe you get when you are with the one you love (or for some, the one you dream of being with)? Maybe that is why it is called an “Observation” Wheel!

There was no wind to provide the fear factor and it was slow…almost to a crawl. Even in the movies there was a little wind. There was cotton candy. There was hand holding and kissing! There was none of that! Well, maybe there would have been some kissing had my 20 year old son not been in the cart with us. I’m sure it would not have been pleasant for him to watch his parents make out.

I think I was most afraid when we were buying the tickets. I did not get that frightening feeling I thought I would have. Although, the price of those tickets was pretty frightening. It was not romantic by any means. It was rather disappointing.

I critiqued my ride to my husband whom laughed at me with a chuckle. I am sure he was thinking that I watch way too many movies. It was evident that he had been on a few Ferris Wheels because he told me they are not designed to go fast and there usually is no wind.

This definitely taught me that not all challenges have to be scary. It opened up a whole other aspect to my Life List Challenge. Now instead of fearing that all my challenges will be frightening…I am open to the prospect that they will be more fun and relaxing without all the fear!

Failed attempts but still trying

April was a hard month to endure! After the passing of Mr. Bascums, it seemed so hard to get back on track and in the swing of things. I had several failed attempts at achieving goals on my Life List. The first. Triathlon. Amidst all the chaos, I missed a swim lesson and then my instructor was out for a week due to a school field trip. Once she returned, she discovered the pool was closed for a few weeks for maintenance. This put a huge damper on my Triathlon training. I was already feeling that I had put too much stress on myself to try and compete in this after only seven weeks of training. After all, I was starting from scratch as an athlete swimmer. I have no idea what I was thinking. I decided in the end to defer the triathlon until I was more comfortable in the water.

“You can only control what you can control. I had to remember that, and once I got back in the race, I was able to regain focus and finish strong.”~Gwen Jorgensen

You know, I almost drowned as a child. It was a gorgeous day out. My parents decided to take us to a nearby lake. I always enjoyed going there. There were few times we actually did things as a family. This was one of them. We had a picnic lunch and mom let us go back into the water. She was standing on the edge of the water. I was watching her the whole time. My dad was high up in a tree, drinking a beer, as he prepares to swing down into the lake. I slightly stepped off the ledge. I bobbing up and down. Each time trying to gain my footing. I couldn’t find the edge of shore. Each time I come up, I see my mom watching me. I don’t think she realized what was going on. I think she thought I was playing. Before I knew it, as I bob up one last time, I see my dad dive down into the water. I go under and feel him swoop me up out of the water. He was so mad that he had to toss that beer into the water but grateful that I was okay. You would have thought that day would have prompted them to teach me to swim…I am still learning!

The second failed attempt was my Tour de Cure 100 mile ride. I just wasn’t feeling myself. You see…I suffer from Anxiety Disease. Yes, it is actually a disease. One that has taken me many years to accept and come to terms with. I tried to tell myself that it was all in my head. There was nothing wrong with me. I had to suck it up and keep on moving. I read a book, Anxiety Disease, by David Sheehan to fully understand that I am not alone. There are many people out there that suffer from the same symptoms as I. I did not want to believe it. I thought it was all in my head. I thought I was making these symptoms, these feelings up. I even called myself a drama queen. What I really wanted was the constant feeling of suffocation to go away. To be relieved of the constant, irrating yawning to disappear. The unbearable lump in my throat to dissipate. I wanted to be able to sleep at night and feel rested when I woke in the morning. I wanted energy; to feel invincible as I did a few years ago. This book helped me, not only to see that there are others out there that suffers as I do, but showed me how the disease could progress into something much worse if I did not take care of the problem. It illustrated a lady that would sit in the hospital for hours at a time just in case her symptoms occurred, one could not leave the chair placed in her room, another would have panic attacks every time she went out to dinner with her boyfriend and his friends. I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted to live. Reluctantly, but now accepting my fate, I called my doctor for an anxiety prescription.

The Anxiety Disease by David V. Sheehan, M.D.

On the day of the ride, I decided I would drop down to the 65 mile ride instead of a the 100. As I am riding, my breathing becomes labored, my chest begins to hurt. I’m starting to have a panic attack; with each pedal stroke leading closer and closer to an onset. I mentally talk myself through the episode. I really just wanted to be alone, to ride my ride in peace. As a Team Portsmouth Team rider, we leave no one behind. Therefore, the ride lead stayed back and talked me through to the first rest area at mile 15. I must mention that I was riding on a flat tire those 15 miles, even after completing the ride checklist the night before. By the time we reached the rest area, I was exhausted. I decided at that point, I would drop to the 35 mile ride. I thought the ride was never going to end. I beat myself up for dropping down two race levels but I knew it was for the best. I think it would have been more embarrassing to have someone have to escort me off the course.

I look at this as a great learning experience; an opportunity for growth. I must admit it was very hard to tell my husband and children that I did not complete the ride as planned. We are a “never quit” family but there are times when we need to consider our health more than I our dedication and promise to others.

I am so thankful to all that donated to this cause. I did not reach my minimal donation goal. In total, it was $315 of the $2500 goal. I believe in part was not having sponsorship connections or proper promotion techniques. There were many lessons learned from this event that can only set me up for success for next years event!

Team Portsmouth Tour de Cure 2018
Dee Butler (L) and Jackie Elliot (R) preparing for the Tour de Cure 2018 65 mile ride.