Answering the Question-Where will I take this?

So. Many. Words.

So.  Many.  Thoughts.

Every day my mind is filled with words.  Words that I would like to share.  My thoughts about the world around me and the adventures I experience.  My thoughts about the little things that delight my heart and the difficult things that make me grow.  And thoughts about the state of our Mental Health and Judicial system.

I have spent the past couple of months trying to figure out where I want to take this blog.  And I have questioned just what I am doing here with this blog.  Lots of questions, yet no answers came, until this past couple of weeks.

Things have settled down in my life.  I am finding my footing.  The equilibrium is returning, and I feel like we are getting back to somewhat normal.

My son is doing well.  Getting help and finding his way through the challenges he faces.  It has been two years since his last arrest and there is light at the end of that very long tunnel.  Finally.

There are still challenges we face and that he faces.  Questions we are seeking the answers to.  How will he support himself?  Where will he move to when he finally has the means and the freedom to choose?  How can I keep working toward reform in our mental health system and in our judicial system?

We will get those answers.  And work through the challenges.  And I will continue to learn and grow in my life and look for ways to step outside my comfort zone.

So, back to the mess in my head…. Those words….. those thoughts.  And the question, where do I want to take this blog?  What do I want to focus on?

I want to continue to share our experiences as we continue this journey with mental health issues, addiction and the judicial system, because it is all a part of my life and I still believe reform needs to happen, stigma needs to change, and compassion needs to be found.  As I work through my advocacy I will share what I am learning and how things are changing.  But I also want to get back to why I originally started this blog.  I want to continue to take leaps…. Leaps of trust… leaps of faith and see where they take me.  So, I will be writing about the adventures my husband and I take, the things I learn as I step outside that comfort zone and how I grow as a person…all the reasons I started this blog.

So, I took a leap last week and stepped outside my comfort zone and started a second blog.  I know, what was I thinking?  This new blog (Perfectly Imperfect Journey) will focus solely on my weight loss and weight maintenance journey.  It will be for accountability for me.  And it is an extension of the weekly note I wrote and sent to the members who attended my meetings.  All my future healthy living, weight loss and exercise thoughts and experiences will now be found on my second blog which you can find here.

I must have lost my mind!  But the changes I have made in my personal and work life, have led me to here.  I have more time because I am focusing on taking care of me. And I eliminated some very unnecessary stress that was weighing me down.  Getting rid of the stress in my life, the stress that I could eliminate, was extremely freeing… and energizing!  All leaving me with more time to enjoy the moment… lunches with friends, hikes, walks, dinners out, reading books, writing, scrap-booking, organizing and so much more.

I am so excited to see where this life takes me and where both of my blogs take me…. The journeys, the lessons, the growth!

I hope you will continue to come along with me….

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Worth every bite!

I went to a Weight Watchers meeting yesterday morning and the topic was about knowing the difference between internal and external hunger.  And how planning to eat at regular times can help us to combat that external hunger, the hunger cued by environment, our senses and our emotions.  Keeping from getting too physically hungry can help us to not give in to the external hunger….sometimes.

So, after my meeting I planned my day and made sure I had healthy food to eat.  I had been sick for the past week and  a half, only able to eat plain toast, saltines and bananas.  Now I was able to finally add back in some real food, careful in my choices.

Until…… this happened.

Cue the external hunger!  Big time!

I was reading a local paper when I happened upon the ad for this newly opened cookie business, just up the road from us…..I shared it with my husband and after checking the website we ordered.  Why wouldn’t we?  They were offering free delivery and the cookies would be warm when delivered.

This was a perfect example of external hunger taking over!

Was I truly hungry?  NO!

I had already eaten dinner, just 45 minutes prior.  It was getting late and I hate to go to bed after eating… but Wow!  These cookies looked amazing!  Especially the smores cookie.  And did I mention, they would be delivered warm!!

Still……

It was late, so I told my husband I would save the cookie for tomorrow.

But….external hunger doesn’t let go and give up that easily!

And when the cookies arrived and I smelled them….well, I just HAD to have one.

So, I did.  I ate the entire huge smores cookie.  OMG!  It was amazing!  Delicious!  Heaven!

Darn that external hunger!

Before my journey with Weight Watchers, I would have given up, the guilt weighing me down.  Not so kind words would have run through my head and I would have eaten more.

But I have learned many things on my journey, with one of the most important being to be kind to myself.

I ate a cookie, albeit a GIANT cookie.  A gooey, decadent cookie! And I am sure it was more than my daily points budget. Heck it may have even been more than the weekly extra points budget I have.

But it is okay!

I have tracked this week.  I have had extra points each day.  I have not used any of my weekly overdraft points budget.  I CAN fit this into my plan, my life and it works!

One splurge does not negate all the positive strides this week.

So, I ate a cookie!  It is not the end of the world.  It does not mean I failed.  The great thing about Weight Watchers and this lifestyle I live is that I CAN have what I CHOOSE.  That is so empowering!  I get to CHOOSE what I spend that budget on.  I get to CHOOSE what I eat.  I. Get. To. Choose.

Yes, sometimes my choices are cued by external hunger rather than physical hunger.  But it still works.  Will I never eat a cookie?  Will I never have steak?   Will I never go out to eat?  Will I never slip up? NO.  I get to live my life, make my choices and still can become the healthiest version of me!  It is about living my life.  It is about avoiding deprivation.  It is about eating to be healthy the way that I will eat for the rest of my life!

Yes, external hunger won out last night.  So what?  I did not fail.

That cookie was worth it. Every. Single. Bite!

Here is to living my life, my way.  Becoming the best and healthiest version of me, one choice at a time, one step at a time, and one leap at a time!

Mom

40 years today.  (I wrote about losing her here in my blog)

40 years of living, exploring, finishing school, graduating, going on to college, marrying, becoming a mom twice, traveling the world with my best friend, the ups the downs, the trials and tribulations…. all the times I wished my mom was here.

40 years without her now.

And I still miss her every day, missing her more during those times we all just “want our mom” (like now while I am sick) and talking to her through the good times, knowing she is watching and smiling and laughing with me!

Thank you mom, for loving me!

Thank you for telling me that you picked me, making me feel loved and special when the kids at school teased me about being adopted.

Thank you for showing me how strong a woman can be, showing me that despite being alone to raise your girls, giving up was never an option.

Thank you for showing me how to respect myself and how to be strong when the world knocks you down.

Thank you for teaching me to think for myself and to form my own opinions and then letting me talk with you about them, never making me feel that my thoughts were not important.

Thank you for comforting me when I was sad, and for calming my fears.  I still can feel your arms around me when I really need you, even now, 40 years later.

Thank you, mom, for making me go to Sunday School, giving me a foundation in faith.

Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love was by loving me no matter how unlovable I was, and yes, I was a handful at times.

Thank you, for being my mom!  (Our mom!)

I miss you every day!  I love you!  And I will see you again one day!

 

Circle of Inspiration

Yesterday morning I completed another 5k, the She Power 5k.

20190128_152212_hdr copyI had signed up for this 5k back in July 2018.  A while ago.  I had done this race in February and loved the race and the medal, so I knew I wanted to do it again.  And the medal this year was beautiful!  Who doesn’t want the bling from a race, isn’t that why we do it?  Well I also signed up with the intention that this was going to be a PR for me.  My fastest 5k race was in January 2009, 10 years ago.  I was 10 years younger and 20 lbs lighter and had trained for a couple of months.  6 months was plenty of time to get ready to make this 5k a Personal Best.  Sometimes the greatest intentions don’t always work out…..

I did not prepare for this race other than a couple of walks here and there and a 5k in November that told me I was REALLY out of shape…. But I still had time.

Everything was pretty much stacked against me for yesterday’s She Power 5k… no training, extra weight, my husband wouldn’t be able to be beside me and encourage and motivate me along the way…. Yes, things were stacked against me.  And thoughts did enter my mind that maybe I would just walk and set a goal for next year, putting off my goal for a future date.  The problem with that is that the future date usually doesn’t arrive.

Yes, circumstances, lack of preparedness and my thoughts were threatening to keep me from this 5k, until….

My Circle of Inspiration.

We all have a Circle of Inspiration, made up of friends, family, co-workers, strangers we meet or see on TV or read about, individuals who walk into our lives for a moment and so many more.  Many individuals form our circle, inspiring us along the way.  And we find inspiration and give inspiration within this circle.  The great thing about a circle is it has no end; the inspiration is all around us.  What a wondrous thing to be able to find inspiration in so many ways, from so many different individuals.

I have a wonderful and wide-spread Circle of Inspiration I can draw from.  And it is in this circle that I find the strength to fight on, to work harder, to keep going when all I want to do is quit.  Whether it is about just getting through my day, getting out of bed, stepping outside my comfort zone, continuing my journey of health, facing hard things in life or crossing a finish line when I don’t think I can, inspiration is there.  My husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my extended family, my friends, the strangers I have met and so many others inspire me to just do it, to take the leap and fly!

20190127_073024 copySo, with everything against me, what made the difference for me yesterday morning was these ladies, part of my Circle of Inspiration.  Some had done a 5k before and for some of them this was their first.  And they inspired me on my journey.

When I worked as a WW Coach (formerly known as a Weight Watcher Leader) I had the privilege of getting to know many individuals who inspired me every day, every week.  These women met in meetings I led.  And I was blessed these past couple of years to have been a part of their journey.  I have laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated with them, and commiserated with them.  And I have had the privilege of getting to know their individual stories.

Each of these women came to this race yesterday for their own reasons and with their own goals, inspiring each other along the way.  That Circle of Inspiration.  Some struggled with physical limitations, and some faced mindset challenges, yet each of them was willing to set aside the challenges that could have kept them from walking this 5k and instead they chose to step outside their comfort zones.  I have often said that stepping outside that comfort zone is where our greatest growth happens, and these ladies were proving that to be true.  Having the privilege of knowing their personal stories gave me the strength to show up and to cross that start line.  And they gave me the courage to push myself beyond what was comfortable so that I could finish strong.

We gathered before the race and lined up at the start together.  When it was time to go, we went at our own paces.  Each of us had our own personal goal we wanted to reach.  And that was scary for some of us, maybe for all of us.  But because of this Circle of Inspiration, because of the support we found in each other, we were able to push forward.  One-step-at-a-time, literally!

I was inspired by all of them, whether it was their first race or one of many…. I was inspired by their enthusiasm and excitement at completing a race.  I was inspired by their determination to push past the physical barriers that had kept them from even 20190128_152234_hdr copydreaming of doing a 5k race, those physical barriers that at one time kept them from even walking around a block, let alone 3.1 miles.  I was inspired by how they changed a mindset from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “Yes! I can”.  I was inspired by the support and encouragement they showed each other.  I was inspired by those who conquered their fear and were willing to do this race with little preparation. I was inspired by seeing the empowerment that comes from believing in oneself.  I was inspired by the resolve to finish faster than the last one.  I was inspired by their faces, the joy, the pride after finishing this race. I was inspired by the courage shown to finish a race despite a fall and injury, and not just finish it, but finish strong, something I am not sure I could have done.

To say that these ladies inspire me is an understatement.  Each one of them is an inspiration and I am so very blessed to know them and be encouraged by them!

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Congratulations, my friends! You thought you could and you did!

We all finished this race yesterday morning, proud of each other and proud of ourselves.  We each met or exceeded our personal goals.  And yes, we are ready to do it again!

I know that without these ladies I would have still done this race, but I am not sure how hard I would have pushed myself without my Circle of Inspiration, those who inspire me every day in my life and these ladies who gave me the strength and courage to push myself faster and to see what I was capable of.

I didn’t finish with a PR, but I finished faster than the She Power 5k 1 year ago and faster than the 5k I did in November.  I walked and I ran, knowing these ladies were somewhere amid the sea of women and they were pushing themselves too.

I was just 3 ½ minutes slower than my fastest race 10 years ago……imagine what I can do with a little inspiration, a little training, and being a little healthier….  Next year will be my year, I have no doubt!

With a vast and far reaching Circle of Inspiration, WE CAN…. I CAN …do anything!!

The Power in one word

Why?

A question.

A word.

There is a lot of power in that one little word.

Last week I led my last workshop for Weight Watchers, having resigned my position last month.  One last meeting and the topic was on our why.  That word.  Why.

I did a lot of thinking about that 3-letter word as I prepared for my last workshop.  Why do we do anything?  Why don’t we?  Why do we start or stop something?  How can getting in touch with our why help? 

I wrote about finding my why last year (here) after realizing that my “why” was missing and that was part of what was holding me back.  And now I had an opportunity to delve deeper into the why, the reason for what we all were doing on this journey to get to a healthier us.  And deeper into the power of that one little word.

You see, the why…that reason, is what fuels us.  It gives us the energy, the fuel we need to achieve what we have set out to do.  Our why gets us to our goals. 

And the why is different than the goal.  The goal is what I strive for, my focus.  But my why, well that is the whole reason for doing it, for working toward that goal. 

And it hit me when I was preparing for that last workshop that a missing “why” is what makes New Year’s resolutions not work, at least for me.  I have written and shared that I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions anymore because they just don’t work for me.  I am not good at them.  And now I realize why they don’t work for me.  That word was missing. 

New Years Resolutions were always the same—set them on New Years eve for the New Year.  Lose Weight.  Get Healthy.  Exercise.  And I set them for many years.  Because that is what one does for New Years.  I just did it. 

But why?  Why did I set those resolutions?  What reason would fuel me?  I set those resolutions without a reason, without the personal why that made them my own.  The reason that meant something to me. 

Setting a goal needs to be one that means something to me.  One that is mine and not a goal someone else sets for me.  And then I need to ask myself why?  Why this goal?  What does this look like for me, in my life?  Why do I want this? 

Our why is the fuel we need to move forward toward our goals.  And setting a goal without a “why” is like driving a car on empty.  Yes, we can get a few more miles down the road when the fuel light comes on, warning us we are about out of fuel.  And then we stop.  Our travel ends.  Our progression stalls.  We don’t get anywhere without more fuel.

That is what our why does for us.  That is what my why does for me.  My why is my fuel.  Without it, I am not going far.  And I won’t reach my goal.  And sometimes I lose sight of my why and need to remind myself the reason I keep doing what I am doing, the reason I want to reach certain goals I have set for myself.  When we have the fuel we need, the gas in our tanks, the why for doing this, well then, we can achieve anything we set out to achieve. 

I can reach any dream or goal I set as long as I know why!

There is a lot of power in that one little word… why.  What are your goals?  What is your why? 

The Unknown Bucket List Item

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that you never knew was a bucket list item… not until you have an opportunity to do it, then realization hits…. THIS is a bucket list item.

In years past when the National Anthem was performed prior to kick-off of a football game, I would watch and wonder what it would be like to be one of those on the field holding up the HUGE American flag, the super flag. 

I NEVER thought an opportunity would present itself and I would ACTUALLY be one of those people, on the field before the game kicked off, holding up a football field sized flag while someone sang the National Anthem.

New Year’s Day 2019, my husband and I were among the over 200 volunteers to do just that at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. 

It was a few weeks earlier, that my husband had received an email offering him the chance to volunteer to hold the “super” flag at the Fiesta Bowl here in Arizona.  He told me about the email and asked what I thought, would I want to do it with him? 

He had to ask? 

Of course, I would do it with him. 

Luckily, he could bring guests.  So, he applied to hold the flag and added me as his guest.

A few weeks later, he got the email that we were chosen to hold the American Flag.  Yes!!  That was going to be cool!  The anticipation grew as the day got closer.

More emails followed giving us more details.  It would be an early morning on New Years Day with us needing to be at the stadium to practice by 8 am. 

Finally, January 1st arrived, and we were up very early and on the road by 6:40 am to make sure we would arrive in time for the practice.  It was a COLD morning for Arizona, with temps in the 30’s and we were layered up and had our gloves and hand-warmers. 

We arrived at the field along with the others there for the practice and of course, the many who would be tailgating before the game. 

I was so excited!  This was going to be great!  A bucket-list item that I didn’t know was a bucket-list item, until now. 

Once we all were gathered on the practice field, the instructions began. 

There is a lot more that goes into holding the American Flag on the football field than I ever imagined.  It wasn’t just show up, hold the flag and then you are done.  Nope!

The process and roles were explained.  We would practice on the practice field, then we would line up and walk together down into the “pit” and process through security.  Then we would line up again in the pit, remove the rolled up flag from the van and hold it until it was time to move inside.  Once inside we would be staged near the entrance to the field…still holding the rolled up flag.  Then we would walk out onto the field with the flag and would have a few minutes when we would be able to take pictures while carrying and holding the rolled up flag.  And then, finally, it would be “showtime” and we would then quickly leave the field and take the flag back outside to load it into the van.  A lot more than I thought went into it. 

Once directions were given we were then divided up into our roles…. Holders, Runners, Pullers, Side people.  My husband and I chose to be holders, at the top of the flag where we would hold the flag tight while the pullers would pull it open, covering the field.  That also meant we would be carrying and holding the rolled up flag for about 45 minutes.  No setting it down to rest our weary arms.  This super flag was HEAVY (around 2000 lbs!). 

When I heard how long we would be holding he flag, I had a fleeting moment where I thought, what if?  What if I CAN”T hold it?  What if I can’t carry my share of the load?  No way!  This sounds really difficult.  But that was only a fleeting thought!  I knew I would be able to do it!  If only because it was that unknown bucket list item, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.

I have always been a patriotic girl, from a very young age.  And the flag has always held a very emotional meaning for me.  So, this was an opportunity I would not let pass by.  I was going to do this no matter how difficult or how heavy!  What an honor to be on that football field, holding this American Flag, while listening to the Star-Spangled Banner being sung.  And to do it standing next to my husband was the icing on the cake.  I was getting pretty emotional standing there waiting to enter onto the field.

Then it was time! 

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We carried that flag out onto the field and stood holding it while the LSU Marching band finished their pre-game performance and left the field.  There were a couple more presentations and then a moment to honor our military.  And then it was time.  They introduced the National Anthem performer, Retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Wilson….

The first note sounded and off went the pullers.  I held tight to my end of the flag, raising it up to keep it from touching the field and holding it as the pullers stretched the flag across the field.  The runners ran in between us and under the flag, their job was to keep the flag from touching the ground. 

Fiesta Bowl 2019 Super Flag
Fiesta Bowl 2019 Super Flag

The emotions ran through me.  My pride swelled.  This was my country, my National Anthem and my flag.  Wow!  I cannot even describe all that I was feeling standing there, tightly holding this super flag.

This was AMAZING! 

And then it was over, and we quickly moved toward the middle of the flag, pulling and gathering this beautiful flag against us, until we met the pullers in the middle.  My arms ached.  We were almost done.  We carried the gathered and rolled up flag, quickly off the field and back outside to the pit, where we would load it into the van. 

And then we were done.

Opportunities come to us, expected and unexpected.  I could have said no.  It was New Year’s Day and I had lots of things that needed to be done.  It would be an early morning and we would have to drive a while to get there.  I could have said no, and let my husband go alone. 

But I said yes.  Sometimes things happen and we don’t realize just how much it will mean to us or that it is a bucket list item until that opportunity is presented. 

THIS was one of those events.  A bucket-list item I never knew was a bucket list item.

Sometimes we just have to take the leap…. Say yes and enjoy!  Oh, the riches those opportunities bring! 

Taking the Leap into 2019

It is that time of year again. Time to reflect. Time to learn from the past year. Time to look toward the new year with anticipation.

As I look back over 2018, I am filled with peace. It has been a while since I have felt this amount of peace at the end of a year. But after the past couple of years, well, this feels really nice.

This past year has brought more good than bad. My family is doing better this year than the last couple of years.

My son is finally getting real, effective help. He has a team supporting him. And we are no longer alone in the fight for our son. A huge burden was lifted when that realization happened right before Thanksgiving. We are no longer fighting this fight alone…. There are others fighting too. My son is happier. He is more present. He is more a part of our family than he has been in a while. And we are not forcing him to be! We are better today, at the end of 2018 than we were at the end of 2017. What a difference a year can make!

We started the year with a trip to Disney World and my first 10k race. We traveled to see our youngest son and daughter-in-law. We explored more of Arizona. We went to movies. I supported my husband as he planned and then completed one of his bucket list items—hiking the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in one day and the bonus was our youngest son and daughter-in-law hiking it with him. We had visitors. We hosted Christmas events. We had a backyard oasis created and I spent lots of time in our new pool. And I reconnected last month with a long-lost dear friend, a sweet unexpected gift this past year.

2018 found us rediscovering “us”. And leaving the stress behind.

As I sit her reflecting on the past year, I am not only at peace, but I am enjoying the memories, the lessons learned and the personal growth that occurred this past year.

And I am ready to leap into 2019.

I am excited for what this next year holds for me and for my family.

As I have said in the past, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, because they just don’t work for me… I am not good at them. So instead I commit to new things, new ways of thinking and mantras. The past couple of years have involved pushing past my fears and embracing adventure. I have spent the past couple of years saying yes and pushing myself to discover what I am capable of. And it has worked. Most of the time, anyway.

So, as I look toward the new year, I am excited. 2019 is going to be a year of discovery, growth, taking chances, trying new things and change.

Change has always scared me. Change has always been uncomfortable. So, I want to embrace change and use it in this New Year to help me to grow, to rediscover or maybe to redefine who I am and what I am capable of. I know I am stronger than I thought I was and that was proven the past few years. But now I want to know what more I am capable of and what my next adventure, next calling is.

And that is what 2019 will be about for me.

I am starting this new journey with a change in the first weeks of January. I am making a change that has been a difficult decision for me but once I made it, I found a sense of calm. After 10 years, the last 4 years here in Arizona, I have decided to resign from my job with Weight Watchers (now known simply as WW) and yes, I have already let my boss and managers know that I am stepping down from my job as a Wellness Coach. I have loved helping others on their own journey to health and weight loss. And I will miss my weekly workshops. I will miss my teams. I will miss those I helped. And I will miss those I was inspired by each and every week. But it is time for me to move on and to take care of me. Time for me to focus on my family and myself. Time for me to step outside that comfort zone and make a change.

2019 is still 2 days away, but it is already getting off to a fresh new start.

And I am ready.

I am taking the leap….. let’s see where that leap takes me!