Much Needed Me Time

I almost didn’t go this morning…..I have so much to do for work and around the house and things to get ready for what we will face, what my son will face these next few weeks. Lots to do, so how could I be selfish and take a little time for me?

But I went anyway.

I realized that I have not left the house these past couple of weeks, other than to go to work, to go grocery shopping or to go to court with my son. I have not done anything just for me……

And not taking care of me, leaves me drained and unable to take care of others.

These past couple of weeks have been tough and emotionally draining, leaving me with little left for anything else.

So, I did something for me today. Something that would help me reenergize my body and my soul and yes, even my heart.

I went to the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning.

Alone.

I needed the time to escape my life, to see beauty and to breathe.

And I did!

I find peace and serenity when I visit the Zoo and the Botanical Garden. I walk at my pace, stop and view what I want and sometimes just sit in the quiet. Today I did all of that. I find real joy in watching the animals, finding unexpected flowers and walking through the garden.

And though I found joy in my time at both the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning, I also found that some of the joy was hidden under the shadow of this current storm.

And under that shadow I did find some peace……rejuvenating my soul a little……

I needed this morning.

I needed to find me again, amidst the wreckage left by the storm.

I needed to just…..breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

Anchors

When thinking about Anchors, one usually conjures up images of anchors used by ships and boats to keep them from drifting in the current of the river, sea, bay, etc. Those anchors keep them from moving……forward, sideways or backwards. I grew up with a dad who loved boating. We would take his boat out in the summers for days, sometimes weeks, exploring the Washington and Canadian islands. And we used the anchor to keep us in place in quiet inlets, near isolated islands that we would row our dingy too so we could explore them. The anchor kept us from drifting and kept us safely in protected areas…..safe from rough open waters, and safe from getting lost at sea while sleeping the night away.

Yes, anchors were necessary.

And anchors in our personal lives are just as necessary.

I spent this past week leading my Weight Watchers members in discussions about our “whys” and about anchors.

An anchor is something that grounds us to our “why”, our motivation. An anchor is a reminder of where we want to go, how far we have come, the things we have accomplished and what is important to us. An anchor can be a strong motivator.

Anchors come in many forms…..Things we can see, touch, feel, smell…..Things that we say to ourselves…..The people in our lives……Things we visualize in our minds. These anchors are important in reminding us just how much we CAN do, HAVE done and what we WILL do.

I shared in my meetings some of the anchors that I used on my journey to reach my goal weight and some anchors I still use to keep me from going back to where I started, going back to my before….something that I could easily do if I did not have the tools, skills, motivation and anchors that keep me grounded to, or anchored to, why I started this journey, what I have learned and where I want to be in the future.

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During my weight loss journey, my anchors kept me moving forward, especially after I discovered the POWER that an anchor has in keeping me motivated. My first REAL anchor on this journey with Weight Watchers was given to me by my leader—a popsicle stick to remind me to “Stick to it”. THAT popsicle stick was instrumental in leading me to my “aha” moment…the moment that changed the course of my journey….when I realized that I didn’t think I was worth the effort. And that realization led to another anchor—a phrase said every morning while looking in the mirror….”I am Worth It”. Both of those anchors play a role in my life today.

Other anchors came into play throughout my journey to my goal weight—my Weight Watcher “bling”—kept where I can see it and bling that I continue to add to today as I continue attending meetings as a member, a reminder of how far I have come. And my before picture…..a POWERFUL reminder of just how far I have come, physically and mentally. After reaching my goal, a special necklace given to me by my husband many years earlier, became a strong, emotional anchor….I had never been able to wear the necklace….I was far too big…….and then I put it on. It FIT. It was perfect! I cried……tears of joy, pride and tears for the girl who had been so lost before. This necklace still inspires me and motivates me.

I have anchors that remind this once exercise phobic girl, that I CAN accomplish an activity goal—my 5K medal from my first Disney World 5k race, a strong reminder of the HUGE sense of accomplishment and the incredible PRIDE in doing so. And a Half-Marathon medal that I have not yet earned, that is kept safely set aside as a reminder of the commitment I made to my family and to myself and that I WILL accomplish this goal and EARN this medal when I am healthy enough to do so.

And this week as I talked, listened to the members and reflected on my motivation and anchors, I realized just how important it was for me to continue to set goals, to challenge myself and to remember why I started this journey in the first place. Sometimes we forget why. Sometimes we lose our motivation. Sometimes we think that since we have reached our goal we are done…..but we are not. This is a lifelong journey and one that needs anchors.

I also found this week while contemplating and getting back in touch with my anchors that mine are not just about my journey with Weight Watchers. I have powerful anchors that remind me of what is important in my life, that remind me joy can be found even in the darkest moments….something that keeps me going and keeps me finding the pleasures in this life. Anchors that remind me that I have the strength to get through anything thrown at me……even when I doubt. And anchors that remind me how important my family, my friends and my faith are in sustaining me and bringing me joy.

A bracelet I wear often to remind me of my faith and family…….two bracelets too remind me to never give up and that anything is possible…..necklaces that remind me of hope and that I am worth it……t-shirts with positive, uplifting phrases, bought to inspire my exercise and worn to inspire my day and remind me just how strong I am…..a framed phrase on the wall to reminds me to trust my faith and to hold onto God’s hand when I am feeling weak…..a stone etched with my favorite bible verse reminding me that I CAN do anything, as long as I do it with God by my side…..Instagram photos taken by a dear friend and given to me, remind me of the beauty in the world around me and remind me to appreciate what is here, in this moment right now. There is always something beautiful!……..photos of my family to remind me just how very blessed I am to love them and be loved by them…….. and so many more reminders…anchors.

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Anchors that keep me grounded and connected to what is REALLY important to me and anchors that keep me grounded and connected to my support, my faith, my family and to just how much I CAN accomplish in this life.

Anchors give me the courage to take the leap and help me to just breathe when I am facing challenges.

 

A Promise of a New Day

I am a west coast girl. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.

We have lived all over the United States—the Midwest, the northern tier, the south, the east coast, the southwest and the west coast. No matter where we lived, my heart was always out west.

Being a west coast girl, I have always preferred sunsets to the sunrises. And everywhere we have lived and visited, I have watched the sun set. The sky is beautiful as the sun sets on my day, reminding me of the beauty in the world even on the days that were difficult. The sunset was a reminder that I survived the day.

I have seen the sunset over the Aegean Sea, over Europe, over the English Channel from France, and all over the U.S. But my favorite place to see the sun set is over the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing more calming for me than to sit on a beach and watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean, disappearing in a fiery horizon. I LOVE the sunset on the west coast!

When we lived on the east coast and would visit the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, I would rise before the sun and walk the beach as it rose above the water. The sunrise was beautiful and the morning alone on the beach was so serene. But….I still preferred my sunsets and missed the west coast.

I guess I just wasn’t ready for what the sunrise would come to represent for me.

Now, living here in Arizona, I get to see spectacular, colorful sunsets. The blue sky is painted in shades of reds and purple as the sun disappears on the horizon.

But the sunrises are just as spectacular.

And I am discovering that I LOVE the sunrise.

I am up early, often on my way to work when the sun awakens and the glow of the sun illuminates the sky in hues of yellow, orange and red.

The sunrise has come to represent a promise of a new day…..a chance for change……a promise that today is going to be better. And that is what I need.

The sunrise brings a smile to my face and more importantly it brings hope to my heart.

This longtime, west coast girl who preferred sunsets to sunrises is falling in love with the morning sunrise….the beauty and peace found in the promise of a new day and the hope that it brings.

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Watching the sun rise gives me a moment when I can step back and just breathe.

I Took the Leap, Kept Breathing and I Made It!

I made it!

Today is my 52nd birthday and I am so relieved to have reached this milestone birthday.

A year ago, on my 51st birthday, I woke holding my breath, dreading the year. This morning I woke, thrilled and excited to celebrate my birthday.

I made it to the birthday my mom did not get to see. I miss her every day and today I know she is celebrating with me. Mom made such a big deal over our birthdays, always making the day extra special.

Today I am celebrating my birthday and so much more.

This year has truly been a year of taking the leap and just breathing. And in the process I have experienced things my mother only dreamed about, gone to places I have dreamed about and met people who have truly enriched my life. I have traveled roads I never imagined nor wanted to…..journeys that showed me just how strong I can be.

This year has been a journey of discovery, of really trusting and letting go.

And as I look forward to this next year, I am excited for all that it will bring. I am going to continue to live in the moment, challenge myself and yes, step outside my comfort zone.

Each day, week and month from this moment forward is one my mother didn’t get to experience. And I am going to enjoy each minute……the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult, the joyful and the sad, and those times that challenge me to step outside that box and push myself just a little more…….while sharing all of these life moments with mom.

And I am going to continue to take the leap and just breathe!

My First Half Marathon, it’s About More Than the Distance

The morning had finally arrived….the morning I was supposed to complete my first half marathon.

But life happened…….detours occurred……..and life stepped in the way in unexpected ways to keep me from starting and thus completing my first half marathon.

This past week I had to make a difficult decision about the race. 3 weeks ago, on my long training walk, the arch of my foot “popped” at mile 7. I was in immense pain and completing the 1.87 miles of that walk was difficult and long. But I made it home…….I really had no choice in the matter since I was 1.87 miles from home. My doctor ordered an x-ray, which showed that there was no fracture, so I took it easy on my foot. I rested, iced and taped my foot, hoping that something would make it better.

But nothing seemed to help.

After long conversations with my husband, I knew I needed to make a decision or risk a serious, long-term injury to my foot.

But my heart was not ready to do what my head knew I should do.

You see, the half marathon was about more than 13.1 miles. It was about more than crossing the finish line and receiving a medal.

Over the course of this past year, the half marathon became a symbol for me……a symbol of all that I have experienced this year………of the all the moments where I stepped outside my comfort zone…….of all the moments that I had to be stronger than I thought I could ever be…….of all that I cried about, laughed about and prayed about……..of all that I survived this year……..of all that I overcame and the personal growth that resulted………about all of those “life” moments that my mother never had the chance to experience…….and crossing the finish line of the half marathon would prove I was alive, that I survived and that I am thriving.

So, for me, not completing the half marathon was not a choice. I NEEDED to complete this race. And having to make the decision was ripping my heart out. EVERY time that I thought about not racing had my tears flowing. The emotions were hard to get past and the emotions were what I was basing my decision on………

Until……..

The day we left for Florida, walking through the airport, the pain shooting through my foot…..I knew then that I would not be able to complete the 13.1 miles. I could hardly walk to my gate. So, I made the decision while sitting in the airport that I would be there to support my husband and soon–to-be daughter-in-law, while they ran the half marathon and I would be there to support my son and his fiancé’s sister as they ran the full marathon. I was sad. I felt that I had given in to defeat.

But then my husband asked me what I had accomplished this year and what my mother would say to me. I have come a long way this year…..I stepped outside my comfort zone a number of times and I said “yes” more than I said “no” to experiences that sometimes brought fear to me and tested me. And this year I discovered just how strong I can be. I also had a HUGE shift in my mindset when it comes to exercise. This year I saw my son get engaged, something my mother never got to do. And I went Wedding Dress shopping, something mom and I looked forward to when I grew up. I LIVED this year instead of just existing and I learned to take better care of me. My mom would be so proud of me and of all the changes I have made and how I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So, I was not going to walk the half marathon that I had committed to almost a year ago. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t do it. And as I picked up my race bib and t-shirt from the expo, with tears in my eyes, I told my husband that I WILL complete this half marathon when my foot heals and then he could give me my shirt. I wouldn’t have my medal, so the race shirt would be my reward……..

And then mother nature stepped in and in a twist, the half marathon was canceled because of lightening. This meant that all of those registered to run the half marathon would get their medals at the expo. And my husband and I spent time this morning when he should have been running and I should have been supporting him, at the expo.

When the young lady handed me my medal she sweetly asked if I wanted to wear it and I said “No thanks, I am not wearing it until I finish my 13.1 miles, when I will have earned it.”

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And finish it, I WILL! And mom will be right there smiling proudly.

Look Mom, we made it!

It was July 1996 and we were on a road trip from South Dakota to Massachusetts, via a route that took us south to North Carolina and then up the east coast to our destination—my husband’s parents in Massachusetts.

On our way up the east coast, we stopped in Washington DC. This was my first time on the east coast and my first time in our Nation’s capital. I was in the 7th grade, when I first had an opportunity to travel to Washington DC as part of our school trip for spring break. My mom was a working single mom and couldn’t afford the entire trip, but she really wanted me to go so she called my dad, who had not been paying child support for years and asked him to pay half of the cost and she would cover the other half. My dad said no. And I could see the pain in mom’s eyes as she told me I would not be able to go. It was okay, I understood and I let it go.

I never thought I would make it there. And then I did as part of our trip across the U.S. for our move to Turkey.

As I walked the National Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, in the pouring rain from a tropical storm that followed us up the coast and soaked to the bone, I talked to mom. “Look mom, I’m here….I finally made it!” I know mom was with me that day, smiling and thrilled that I finally made it to one of my “bucket list” places.

Yesterday was THAT kind of day. As my year started on my 51st birthday, I was dreading this year……and scared I wouldn’t live longer than my mom or that I would miss out on all that she had missed. So my husband, my rock and biggest supporter, made plans for us to attend the Rose Parade in Pasadena. He knew the parade was one of the things that my mom and I had dreamed of attending together. What better time to do it than the year I found myself holding my breath….a celebration of not just surviving but thriving this year.

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So, on New Year’s Day, with tickets in hand we drove to Pasadena. I was thrilled and excited. A bucket list item….a HUGE bucket list item was about to be realized and I knew mom was with me.

Yesterday, before the sun was up, we left our hotel room for the parade. It was exhilarating! We parked and with thousands of others, we headed to our viewing spot….in the stands with reserved seats. And we waited for the parade to start, talking with others as the bleachers filled in. The excitement was contagious.

And just before the parade started the seats next to me filled in…….well two of the seats did. The seat next to me was EMPTY…..this was my mom’s seat.

And I felt her sitting there next to me……bouncing to the beat of the marching bands as they played in front of our stands……..oohing and aahing over the floats, amazed at the size and beauty of them. And I could feel her joy at seeing this parade in person……just like we had dreamed of doing.

Yes, mom was there with me….and I whispered to her, “Look mom, we made it! We are here!”

So Long 2016…Welcome 2017!

2016 started with me holding my breath……and as the year went on I found myself experiencing things I had not imagined—

2016 became the year for—

–stepping outside my comfort zone and not allowing fear to hold me back.

–opening up to others outside our family, leaving me feeling vulnerable and exposed….yet being open and sharing the struggles we have faced this year has been rewarding….we are not alone and talking about mental illnesses and addiction is how we start to change the stigma and the broken system.

–discovering just how strong I am when I really need to be.

–learning about myself, through the struggles as well as those times I stepped outside my comfort zone, and discovering just where those long-held fears came from.

–growth, personally……this I am so thankful for.

–finding hope when the world seemed hopeless….when my world was filled with fear, sadness and even anger. Hope is what kept us going. Hope is what gets us out of bed when we just want to hide from the world.

–Taking the leap, breathing and trusting!

I am ready to say “good-bye” to 2016. Saying “good-bye” means I am almost through the year of holding my breath…..almost to my 52nd birthday, the one my mother never got to celebrate. Yes, I am ready to move into the new year.

And as I move into 2017, I am hopeful…..hopeful for the future, hopeful for my family and hopeful that this will be our happiest year yet! No matter what happens, I will always have hope!

I am excited for what 2017 has in store for me and for my family…..there will be celebrations and a wedding, one that I am very much looking forward to! There will be adventures and travels. There will be joy and struggles, I am sure. And there will be more self-growth and discoveries as I continue my journey to be the best version of “me” that I can be!

As I welcome 2017, I am starting the new year off strong……checking some items off my bucket list, stepping outside my comfort zone and challenging myself and celebrating my birthday in the most magical place on earth!

So long 2016—thanks for the many lessons and the memories!

Hello 2017—Let’s get this New Year started!