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Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 28: Now and Then

Don't really know if you can see the difference, but on the left is a picture taken at lunch with coworkers as I celebrated my 46th birthday yesterday.  On the right is exactly one year ago, at lunch, with the same coworkers.  That day, December 28, 2010, was "the last supper", or the last time I allowed myself a free-for-all piggout for any meal.  Here's the blog post from that day:

December 28, 2010 Blog Entry

There is about an 80 pound difference between the two pictures.  And that's surely not the only difference!

I am a much more confident me.  I feel like I have so many more goals than I used to have.  I have many more things I want to accomplish or experience in life. I'm no longer one to really just sit on the sidelines and watch life.  I want to jump in there and participate whenever possible!

In a way it's made me look closer at the poor choices that got me so far away from my dreams and goals (from decades ago.)  And That's OKAY.  You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right?

Anyway, here's another before/after.  The before was the first week of January when I was waiting to get my laser hair removal (eeks.)  The after was taken yesterday.

Sometimes, I just can't believe either is really me.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Day, Another Trainer

So.  Rambo informed me last night that he gave notice and will be gone in less than two weeks, leaving me floundering around waiting for a new trainer.  AGAIN. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

You know, you KNOWWWWWWW in life, I do not mind making the hard choices.  I do not mind finding the inner strength to get up and do something.  I do not mind sucking it up and doing whatever it takes to get something started.

What I DO mind very much is having to KEEP doing it over and over like freaking Groundhog Day (a la Bill Murray.)

For instance, I needed a new roof for quite a while.  It took a while before I got in a place to be able to deal with getting quotes, checking references, and just DEALING with the whole schmeal.  I hate it in general, but it felt amaZing to (1) pick a contractor, (2) get a date for the installation and (3) know I was getting everything brand new.

What happened then was what I am talking about.  They did a horrendous job.  I had to complain, they came back, did another horrendous job.  I had to get a home inspector out to verify that they, in fact, did a horrendous job, then they came back a third time. ARGGGGGGGGGGGG.

I had a remote starter put in my car.  It took some jockeying to get a good date where nothing else was going on, but I finally had it installed.  It felt amazing to have made and kept the appointment.  Too bad the &*^%&*%! thing doesn't work when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.  So now I have to deal with it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Those are the things that will drive me to utter distraction, that make me crazy.  It was bad enough having to get up the wherewithall to deal with it once, but having to KEEP addressing it...ughhhhhhhhhh.

So here we are going on trainer number 4.  Ugh.   Weight, height, fat composition, goals, blah blah blah.  What a freaking waste of my time!  It's bad enough getting up the gumption to GO to the gym, to deal with all the paperwork of contracting for a trainer, but really?  Every two weeks I end up with no trainer anyway.  I do really want to scream, but to whom?  I don't even get the advantage of coming home to bytch to a spouse about the unfairness of the planet. 

Nope, it's "suck it up, buttercup" as usual.  Oh.  Wait.  But I have all of YOU to whine to, and that does not go unnoticed.  Thank you very much.  Now, if you could draw me a nice hot bath and arrange for a deep massage to get rid of the stress of it all, I'd really appreciate it.

In the meantime, I have half a mind to start acting like I don't NEED a trainer.  I'm not sure, though, where the other half of my mind is, so I don't want to be too hasty.....

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Evolution of "Healthy"

What is "healthy" to you?  What does being healthy look like?  What does it feel like?  What does eating healthy mean?  For me, there has been a slow learning process - an evolution.

When I first started making healthier choices it was pretty basic.  Drink more water.  Then incorporate some extra vegetables in my day (alongside the Big Mac of course.)  Over time the items in my refrigerator and pantry have completely changed.

Where once there was white bread, white rice, potatoes, crackers and other processed carbs, there is now whole grain wraps (which I don't eat often), brown rice, sweet potatoes, organic whole grain crackers (which I also don't eat often.)  Where there was Lean Cuisine processed meals or other frozen dinners there is now fresh meats and vegetables.  The whole milk is replaced with organic lowfat milk.  And if there is an organic version of a food, I strive to get that rather than the chemical-laden versions.

There are almost no sodas in the house (except for company) and snacks are usually plain almonds, string cheese, cottage cheese, carrots, celery, organic peanut butter and the occasional organic dark chocolate square.

The point I'm trying to make is that none of this just happened.  It has taken a few years of substituting one item for another until it became a habit, and then tackling another item.

That's how it goes with all of these healthy lifestyle changes.  I have become more active slowly over time. I started working out once a week, then twice, then three I work out a minimum of 5 days a week (because it FEELS so good to me to do that!)  When I started I could barely walk from the car to a store without being winded.  Now I park as far away as possible, take the stairs when possible, and get out and ride my bike when time permits.  (Note: I didn't own a bike a couple of years ago; it's all part of the evolution.)

Here's the takeaway: Becoming healthy is multifaceted and it doesn't happen overnight.  Make ONE "Next Right Choice" today.  Maybe commit to drinking more water for a week.  Perhaps you can vow to add apples to your daily food intake.  Just do SOMETHING that is a choice in the direction of better health, then do it until it becomes habit.  Once that is mastered, make one more healthy next right choice.

Before you know it, you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of where you are now.  Just one next right choice.  What'll it be?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reaching Out

"Trouble is part of your life.  If you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough."  -Dinah Shore

For the majority of my life, I have operated in a very specific modus operandi.  It went like this:

  • Live life the best I could, mostly alone (I did a lot of my living inside myself)
  • When the really bad stuff hit, go deeper inside myself and dig really deep, trying to pull myself back out
  • Once the bulk of the problems had past, let people who cared about me know that it happened (usually a sugar-coated "no big deal" version) and that I solved it, and that they wouldn't need to worry about me.
  • Rinse. Repeat.

I just could not reach out for help when life was hard, or when I was overwhelmed under the weight of all I had to do.  Dr. Phil has a phrase: (I'm not a big Dr. Phil fan, but I love this phrase)  "How's that working for you?"  Well, it wasn't working very well at all.

When you are in a big hole, the last thing you should probably be doing is grabbing a shovel and digging.  You're only making the hole bigger!  Instead, sometimes you need reach out, ask for help and let someone reach down and help pull you out.

It's taken me a long time to realize this and be okay with it.

I think I've figured out why I did this (and still tend to lean this way.)  I think my self esteem was so low I was petrified to show weakness or vulnerability.  I didn't want to be judged as being bad, or stupid, or incompetent, or needy, or.... (you get the point.)  I was a rock; I was an island.  (And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries, right?)

The past few years, however, I have come to understand so much more about life and how I fit into it all.  For starters, the only person really judging me as harshly as I thought was ME.  Another thing I am learning is that when I completely shut down and blocked people out of my life (sometimes for years while I struggled  to become "acceptable"), I was being very selfish and focused on my own needs.  I wasn't allowing them to show up for me and love me perhaps the way they wanted to.  I kept them at arm's length.

Well, things are a lot different now.  If I need help, I ask for it.  If I'm having a bad day or week or phase, I reach out and let my friends know.  If I'm overwhelmed with all my responsibilities (single family home owner and single parent with a commute and full time job can get a tad overwhelming), I call in the troops.  I have an organizer, someone to mow the lawn, a landscaper to weed the garden.  Whatever it takes to get back on top of things.  Whereas I may have felt in the past there was something wrong with me for not being able to do it all, today I realize, NO ONE is designed to perfectly do it all!

Anyway, in this fitness quest I am finding the same thing.  I have reached out to those who know so much more about fitness and health than I do and am drawing on their experiences to help increase my own understanding and awareness.  And I have a trainer because at this point in my life, that's what I need.  Without having to figure it all out on my own and from scratch, I am moving forward at a really good pace.

My thought for the day:  If you need help, ask for it.  If you don't know how to do something, ask someone.  If you are sinking under the weight of your responsibilities, get help.  If you don't reach out, you are going to make life needlessly harder.  I know.  It's how I rolled for decades.  ♥

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beyond My Limits

I was a dreamer in high school.  I believed in the power of goals.  I believed I could accomplish anything I set my mind to do.  I believed there were no limits to my potential.

Then, life happened.

Two weeks after marrying my first husband and moving out of state with him, he grabbed my shoulders and shook me so hard I thought he was going to break my neck.  That single violent act changed everything.  The physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse ensued and over time I began to doubt everything that was me.  Which in turn set off a slew of choices that took me farther from becoming that girl who could do anything.  Life imposed huge limits / limitations on me, and I let it.

Well, that's all changed now, hasn't it?

I realize I have imposed limits to all I can do, all I can be, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I am working hard on establishing several new goals for my life in all of those areas.  And once I make them, I want to stretch them just a little....just past where I THINK the limit is...and see where that leads me.

Last night my trainer pushed me (lunges and squats with kettlebells) beyond what I thought was possible.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to shout "I can't!"  I wanted to give up.  Instead, I dug deeper, focused through the pain, and took huge, deep, "girl on a mission" breaths.  And I finished what he laid out for me to do...and pushed way past what I thought were my limits.

What are your limits?  Where do you set the bar?  Are you living up to it?  Pushing past it?

One thing I am learning....if left completely on my own, I don't necessarily feel like pushing past any limits (who doesn't like their little comfort zone, right?)  So I am surrounding myself with people who see in me what I can't see (yet)...who believe in me and who can help me set and reach higher goals.  And you know what?  It's working.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Extractly What I Needed!

I have found an amazing way to spice up my days in the "new me" world I now live in.

EXTRACTS!  Ohhhhh the flavor they have brought into my otherwise dull world!

There are two huge staples in my daily diet:  plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage 0% usually), and coffee.  I love them both and I like them plain just fine.

However, one day, after cutting an apple up into the yogurt, I thought how vanilla yogurt is sometimes a nice treat.  I had some vanilla extract on hand so I gave it a try.  It wasn't really all that tasty, but I liked the idea of adding some kind of flavor.

The next time I went grocery shopping I saw a "French Vanilla Blend".  THAT was amazing in the yogurt and I used it for several days.  On the next trip I got orange extract.  Oh my!  Orange extract into the plain yogurt with raspberries?  Divine! (and I don't add sugar, just a drop of the extract.) I've now got banana, raspberry, strawberry and  more!

I added a few drops of peppermint into my coffee and it was really good (a little drop goes a long way here.) I have also added raspberry and french vanilla.  What an easy, calorie free way to add some extra flavor to perk things up a bit!

When it doubt, experiment, I say.  Sometimes it really pays off and could be just what you need to add a little zest to your meals!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Different Slant

So my trainer, I'll call him "Rambo" for today, had this great idea to show me all the ab machines last Saturday.  It was awesome.  So awesome that as late as Tuesday night I still couldn't use my muscles to turn over in bed because it hurt so badly. 

Ok, that was an exaggeration.  For starters, I actually asked for an ab workout.  (I may as well have asked to stand and be punched directly into the stomach repeatedly!)  Oh, and the whole not-able-to-turn-over-in-bed thing only lasted until Monday morning.  (That isn't an exaggeration even a little! I didn't even want to eat for two days.)

All was going great during this 30 minute ab marathon until we hit the dreaded "incline slant ab crunch board thingamajiggy."  This is a device that was taken off the list of interrogation tactics for suspected terrorists because it was deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment.

It is the first device at Golds Gym that has (temporarily) beaten me.  I couldn't even do one of these things with good form or as high as Rambo wanted me to go.  I am spitting mad.  So I'm going to do what any self-respecting stubborn hard-headed woman would do.

I'm going to buy a home version of this slant board torture device and practice, practice, practice and I will MASTER IT.  Bring it, ab board...You're Going DOWN!

I WILL post an update to this when I can do at least 10 of these in PERFECT form.  Oh yes, I will.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking Through

This has been a MAJOR week for me so far, and it's only Tuesday!

I have repeatedly put up barriers to my own success in the past.  I have created obstacles that didn't need to be there.  I built walls.  I have found excuses.  I have self-sabotaged.

Please don't think this is arrogant, but I think part of the reason I have put up these barriers is because I really have believed deep down that I'm capable of big things, and somehow I embraced the concept that I was unworthy of success.  I felt I needed to shrink in order to fit in and be liked.  I couldn't handle the thought of being more successful than others in my family.  I didn't know HOW to be a true success.  Failure, that I knew how to do with grace and style.  Give me a hard circumstance and I could turn it into something good.  Give me hardship and I could light a path out of it and lead others out with me.

But success?  Egads, what does THAT look like?  I have had so much potential in so many areas of my life that I let slip away.

In the past, I created and ran three businesses.  All three enjoyed some degree of success and had much bigger potential.  One was a partnership and I didn't get anything in writing.  I arrived at the office one day to learn it had been sold by my partner.  The other two, however, were sole proprietorships and both fully supported me.  Here in Maryland, my business supported me, a deadbeat husband and his failing business, our home, a secretary's full time salary, and a fairly plush office space.  When it imploded I had just secured investors and was about to go national and even market via television.

I'd like to blame my ex entirely for the downfall of the business, but that wouldn't be truthful.  I made a series of choices and if I am honest with myself, I knowingly chose failure OVER certain succeess.  That was a hard sentence to write.

Well, I am certain now that I want success.  I am succeeding in my fitness goals.  I am succeeding in interpersonal relationships.  I want to make choices that will allow me to move forward into the light where I think I should have always been.  Not the spotlight.  Carly's Light.  No more hiding in the shadows.

I will talk more about these goals down the road, but I want to end with my favorite Marianne Williamson poem (often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela) It speaks to my heart:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us. 

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. 

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us. 

It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.


Monday, December 5, 2011


Art by Don Michael Jr.
I think we are all brought into this world completely mask-free.  Then life starts to happen to us.  Before long we learn that we do not live up to others' expectations.  I'm pretty sure I used to think it was great fun pooping in my pants and I can imagine being ashamed, scared, confused and mortified that my parents didn't share in my joy.  I must have learned that I wasn't measuring up, and wouldn't measure up, until I started doing what was expected of me, saying what was expected of me, and being what I was expected to be.

So maybe in order to integrate and conform, we learned to wear our "good girl" mask or our "nice young man" mask from our earliest purposeful actions.  This seems like it would be true of all humans to some degree, right?

For some of us, though, I think some things happened very early in our lives that took our mask-wearing to a different level.  For me, I was molested between the ages of 8 and 10 (give or take).  The masks became my protection.  I wore a mask pretending that I was okay.  I wore a mask at school of "over achiever."  To compensate, and to feel "okay" I think I worked hard to get school accolades.  I wore a mask at home (I didn't want to worry my parents or cause problems, so I kept quiet about it.)  I went to church every week and felt like a fraud when I was told what a good girl I was.  I knew the real truth about what was going on, so I wore a "good girl" mask.

In high school, I was often the funny one.  The jokester that kept people smiling and laughing.  Sometimes, though, that was a mask.  Sometimes I was goofing around and making people laugh and simultaneously crying on the inside, hiding (masking) my hurt. Better to make the joke and laugh first than to be laughed at?  I don't know, it was a good defensive mask at the time.

In dating, I felt who I was deep down was damaged goods.  I couldn't just be "me" because "me" was getting buried further and further down as I started living externally (being who I thought someone else wanted me to be to help hide the real me.)  So I wore a girlfriend mask, and later, a wife mask.

I think my weight piled on as another form of mask.  It was a protective layer where you could not see "me" through it, but I could see you, just like a mask.  It kept me at arm's length from people.  It let me hide inside my seclusion where it was safe.  Or so I thought.

I'm not saying I had a horrible life, that I never lived authentically, or that my entire world revolved around external validation.  But I had so many freaking masks, my authentic, scared self was buried most of the time and I didn't even know it at the time.  Not fully.

I have worked very hard over the past 7 years since becoming single to figure out who is underneath all those layers of defenses.  I have worked hard to reveal who I am (even to myself), one mask at a time as I have shed them.  The closer I get to living without ANY masks, the more I am able and excited to shed the weight, also.

Part of this might be age, as well.  I am finally in a place where I do not apologize for being who I am.  I like who I am.  I embrace my imperfections in a way I never did before.  And one of my greatest goals is to live out loud, completely true to who I am, inside and out.

My emotions are ahead of the physical at the moment.  My heart has been set free to just be who I am.  And I am excited for the day when my body no longer wears a mask, either.  Then I will be completely whole again.

If I could pass anything along to folks today, it would be to strive to get rid of your masks.  You were made perfectly imperfect, made to be exactly who you are, without apology.  You are good, good enough, and those masks, though they once may have protected you, are probably not serving you well anymore.  Try to find out any place where you are not being true to yourself, to your heart, and fix it.  The freedom is amazing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Are Succeeding!

Did you know that right now, this very minute, you are 100% absolutely, totally succeeding?  Ralph Marston has a wonderful perspective on this:

In each and every moment, you are successful at doing something. You take action, and that action successfully brings a result. 
Success is not really something you must strive to create, for you are always making it happen. What's important is defining and intending the success you do create so that it is a positive force in your world. 

Many people are successful at just barely getting by. Others are successful at bringing pain and dismay into their lives. 

Yet the very same skills that succeed at creating mediocrity and despair, can also be used to create rich fulfillment. What's needed is not so much a change in effort as a change in focus. 

You truly deserve a great and wonderful life, and you have everything necessary to experience that life. Keep your thoughts focused on your most meaningful desires, and your actions will align with those thoughts. 

You're always succeeding at something. Choose now to make it something great. 

-- Ralph Marston

Think about it!  You can be successful at procrastinating.  Are you being successful at avoiding something you have to do?  Maybe you are being 100% successful at overeating to avoid feelings of loneliness.  Or you are 100% successful at creating a barrier of fat between you and the world in order to keep yourself insulated and protected from hurt.  Are you successfully suppressing your hopes and dreams because it hurts too much to think about them and not act on them?

I love this whole quote so much.  You are already totally successful.  We all are.  We are succeeding at what we are choosing.

So once we change our mindset and PURPOSEFULLY decide WHAT to succeed at, it can start to happen.  It doesn't have to be all at once.  How about you succeed at allowing yourself to dream?  Allow yourself to envision what kinds of goals you want to have!

Then make a plan, and start moving in that direction.

It's amazing when you realize it all comes down to your own choices, and remember, choosing to NOT make decisions (and let life just happen to you) IS a choice that you may be successfully living, also.

Think.  Dream.  Plan.  Decide.  CHOOSE~

God, life is GOOD.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just One Choice

So my food has been pretty sloppy lately.  A 10 day span without a personal trainer, a feasting holiday and a crazy schedule, combined with some high level stress and I've got a perfect storm for excuse-making.

In reality, I have two choices:  Make good choices, or make excuses.  And the whole motto of my world is supposed to be about making the next right choice, not the next right friggen excuse, right?  RIGHT!

I have a long distance workout buddy now who is even more motivated than I am and a heck of a lot more self-disciplined than I am.  As a fitness bud, to increase my likelihood of success and to help get me back in the right mindset, I have agreed to take pics of everything I eat today and picture message it over to my friend for accountabililty.

It's AMAZING how just ONE next RIGHT choice leads to an entirely different perspective.  By simply sending off a pic of my apple this morning, I got a little excited.  Sending over the pic of the oatmeal was downright empowering.
That one decision (to send food pics) set an entire series of next right choices into motion today.  And that one single act COMPLETELY altered the trajectory from a probable path of sloppy eating and then self flaggelation to clean eating and pride instead.

Cool, huh?

Make one good choice today.  It doesn't matter what it is.  Do it because you want to feel better.  Do it because you want to look better.  Do it because you want to be better.  Do it because you're worth it.  Do it because you want to prove you can.  Do it because the alternative is having a bad day when all it might take to turn your entire day around is JUST. ONE. CHOICE.

Just do it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Scale Tale

Once upon a time, I hated scales.  In fact, I avoided them for years at a time!  Why on earth, when I wasn't ready to do anything about it (and really, probably couldn't do anything about it at the time), would I want the details of how bad it was?  Heck no!  I was the queen of denial and I didn't even OWN a scale until last year.

Then there came a point when the reality smacked me in the face.  You can't fix what you don't acknowledge.  Sort of like this:

Then I started doing what I call scale gymnastics.  That's where you figure out the absolute best way to stand on the scale to yield the lowest possible number.  Instead of standing directly on it, if I could shift my weight a little to the right, and turn my right foot on a slight angle, while putting the tippy toes of my left foot up against the window where the numbers were, the number would always be less!  YAY!  So on weeks where I didn't eat right, or exercise well, it was no big problem.  I could just do some scale gymnastics and VOILA, I lost a pound!  woohoo!!

Now, I'm at peace with the scale.  If I do my part, the scale reflects my next right choices.  If I have an off week, or month, well, the scale is just reporting the consequence of those choices, too.  It's all good.  I guess because I accept that there will be good days/weeks/months and sometimes not-so-good ones, the scale is no longer something to avoid.

And just to toot my own horn a's down 5 pounds from last week.  I really feel like (and know) I'm back on track and moving forward again.  YAY!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Core Strength

"The turning point in the process of growing up
is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt."

Max Lerner

"Core Strength" is all the buzz these days. What I'm learning in the world of fitness, it's all about strengthening the core of the human body - the abs and back muscles that are so deep they attach to the spine and pelvis. It is the foundation from which all other movement occurs; it is the physical center of a person's body. When the core is strong, everything else works much better, easier, with less effort or struggle.

Before I could get to a place where I could even consider working on my core physical strength, I had to first examine my core emotional and spiritual strength.

The Emotional Core

My emotional core was severely damaged at a very young age due to some life trauma.

I spent a lifetime feeling "less than" everyone else. I wasn't good, I wasn't good enough. At my core was shame. I couldn't seem to do or be enough to satisfy my inner longing to be accepted and loved. I looked outside for external validation for everything from how smart I was, to how I looked, to how funny I was, to the kind of job I had. I needed someone outside of myself to tell me I was okay, and sadly, even if they did tell me that, at my core, I did not believe them.

The core belief that I was "less than" led me to accept "less than" in my marriage(s). It led me to accept "less than" my dreams. It led me to accept "less than" living up to the potential I was created to reach. Fortunately for me, a friend came into my life that helped debunk those core beliefs.

She loved me. She didn't love me IF I looked, acted, behaved, performed a certain way. She didn't love me despite all my inherent badness (that I thought I had.) She didn't love me IF I loved her back a certain way. She didn't love me conditionally IF I met her needs, jumped through hoops, and met some certain standard. She just loved me and said, "I love who you are. Period. It has nothing to do with any choice you have ever made or will ever make on any given day." And somehow that reached deep into the core of my being and broke something loose. I believed her.

That one conversation opened up the floodgates to another area in my life.

The Spiritual Core

I was raised Catholic. I still love many of the traditions of Catholicism and although I no longer call myself Catholic, there is a tremendous respect I have for the religion. However, at least in my case, I never really understood the concepts of "grace" or "mercy" fully. To me, the message I received was that all humans are bad, miserable failures, there's not a thing we can do about it, but we better keep trying. When we screw up, we must do penance, repent, and try hard to not do it again, only to know deep down we are miserable sinners who are going to fail. But have no fear, despite our inherent badness, God loves us anyway.

Whether intentional or not, or whether my own mind played a part in the interpretation, that is the basic message I spent my life believing.

Now, after understanding the grace and mercy of a friend, I began to understand God's grace and God's mercy. Through the love of a friend, I suddenly realized that right now, today, exactly where I am, regardless of anything I did or said or that happened to me yesterday, I am perfectly loved. I realized that all these imperfections are part of the perfect plan! I had a clean slate. Yesterday was really, truly gone and there was no need whatsoever to worry about it. Today, I am good, good enough, and there was absolutely no reason to carry around all that shame. There's a song I love that expresses it so well:

The Next Right Choice - MY Core

Slowly, over the past few years, I have been moving toward an incredible new life. New thoughts, new patterns of behaving, new friends, a new house, a new town. I even got a new job. It feels like the past is very far behind me now.

But what else is true is that the core of shame is not entirely gone. It hangs around, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to jump in and take over my thoughts and feelings.

Through some trial and error, however, I have come to understand that it is entirely within my power to keep it at bay and to keep myself moving forward into the life I have always wanted. And it all comes down to making the "Next Right Choice" today.

  • For today, I choose to walk by faith, because for me, that is what works. Because when I am plugged in to my spiritual self, I am stronger. My core is filled with hope, strength, life and light.

  • For today, I choose to try to eat healthy. Because when my core food choices are healthy, it creates a foundation from which my mind makes better choices and on which my body can function with more energy.

  • For today, I choose to get moving. I work the abs, the back, the legs, the arms, and the heart. Because when at my core there is a stronger body, I can move better throughout the day. I have energy to keep going and do all those things I want to do. I can carry myself out into the world, explore it, and participate in it...fully.


If you ask me, core strength is pretty darned important! I encourage everyone to examine their core beliefs about themselves, their core beliefs about their spiritual lives, and to act consistently with what rings true for you. Living authentically, being true to who you are, and not letting the world rob you of your THAT is Core Strength!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


From August through October the biggest problem I faced was a complete lack of motivation. I lost focus after the family and high school reunions and didn't really have any big goals to focus on.

In turn, I slowly stopped exercising, stopped blogging, got incredibly messy with my food choices, and started to get depressed.    Slipping off into isolation made it worse. A little cause-and-effect action there? Yeah, I'd say so.

So now it appears that I have my mojo back.  I want to stop and look at what it took to get it back, and think about how I'm going to KEEP it going.

To get back on track, I had to admit how bad it was.  I had to come to grips with the reality that not only had I not lost a single pound since June, I had actually gained 18 pounds.  (That's right, 18.)  That hurt.  Even as I looked at the scale, I kept saying "wow, I gained a couple of pounds."  I didn't do the math.  It was 18 pounds.

Then I had to forgive myself and say it's okay, at least it wasn't like previous attempts where I'd fall off the program and keep on gaining until I'd gained it all back and then some.  I caught it in time for it to just be a slip and not a full blown relapse into the old patterns.  (This forgiving myself and accepting that life happens is HUGE in overcoming a roadblock.  Remembering I can hop back on track at any point of any day and leave the past behind me is critical.  I can't move freely into tomorrow if I'm trying to drag yesterday in with me!)

Next, I had to end the isolation.  One fact of my life is that I lack the motivation to consistently push myself physically without some sort of accountability.   Blogging helps tremendously.  Putting this all out there publicly most certainly keeps me accountable to someone besides myself.

I got a trainer - someone knowledgeable who can make sure I work out all the muscle groups and not just the parts that feel good, that I like best, or where I'm strongest.  This is someone who's going to say, "keep going, you have one more minute" when I feel like saying "that's ALL I can do."  This is someone who says, "You can do one more" when I say I want to quit.  And I'm just stubborn enough to prove him right.  :-)

I got a workout partner.  I meet my friend at the gym on trainer days and we work out for 30 minutes before I meet with the trainer (so far I'm doing some cardio and warmups during that time.)  Then on days when I don't meet with the trainer, we meet either at the gym or at my home to work abs, core, and practice techniques.

These things so far have picked me back up and got me moving again.

What's going to KEEP me going forward and motivated?  Here are some thoughts, let's see how they pan out:

  1. Focus on how far I've come, not how far I have to go.  There's still a long journey ahead and that gets so flipping depressing sometimes.  If I instead look at where I started in this journey, and all I have overcome to get where I am, I get a little energized to help tackle today.
  2. Focus on today.  I don't have to worry about all of this week, next week, next month.  If I do the "next right choice" JUST for today (am I doing cardio? weights? toning?  Ok...then just do it) it's easily managed.
  3. Find a goal and reward system that works.  On weight watchers they give silly little stars on your profile when you lose 5 lbs. or reach some other preset milestone.  That doesn't motivate me.  Buying myself a new outfit when I reach a new size down DOES motivate me.  Thinking about losing another dress size motivates me.  And thinking about seeing folks next spring when I'm unrecognizable motivates me.  So I need to make travel plans for the spring and show off what will be the new me, right?  I think I'm going to start Googling for where I shall travel next year.  That will motivate me.
  4. Music motivates me.  I need to create good playlists to take with me to the gym.  While I LOVE my Avett Brothers, I need new playlists that keep it fresh and can be changed depending on types of workouts or the mood I'm in.  That will give me something to work on when I'm not at the gym, but still thinking about my good choices.  And to say I love music is an understatement.  Discovering new bands is a favorite pastime!
  5. "Just Do It."  Nike got it right.  No matter what, I need to JUST. Do. It.  I have never left the gym or gotten off the treadmill saying "man, I wish I didn't work out today."  Duh.  I ALWAYS am glad I did it and (and this is the most important part) I LOVE HOW I FEEL WHEN I DO IT.  I have to focus on the fact that "Just Doing It" FEELS BETTER than not doing it!
So I'm going to tag this post with "Motivation" and come find it when I'm lacking motivation.  I have to tell you, my trainer keeps trying to motivate me saying "Just think of the bikini this summer."  LOL It makes me laugh on the inside.  I'm 45 and have never worn a bikini, have no desire to wear one, and am pretty sure no one else would want me to. 

 I'll need to work with him to come up without something that is truly motivating.  Something like... "Think of the CRUISE you're going to treat yourself with when you reach your goal......"


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Pick Things Up, I Put Them Down

Well, I've done it. I've dragged my plateau'd derriere over to Gold's Gym, and gotten myself a trainer named Danny.

When you're making these life goals, and if you really want them badly enough, then:

1. You're going to set yourself up to SUCCEED, and
2. You're going to do whatever it takes to make it work.

When I first signed up, Golds, via Compel Fitness, signed me up with a young trainer who had issues with being on time, which morphed into issues with showing up at all. I was upset, there was no one else available in the time slots I needed and I was about to demand a refund when they suggested there may be another trainer in the pipeline.

I held on and decided I was worth figuring all this out. I simply cannot motivate myself without a trainer. I do not know why. I'm a smart girl. I want this...the fitness...the weight loss....BAD! And yet, given the choice between sitting on my arse watching X Factor or watching it while on the treadmill, I choose being a couch cushion warmer. So folks like me need to pay to be told to move. So be it. It is what it is.

I'll tell you about my new trainer. HE ROCKS. He gets me! He knows I'm motivated and knows we're in this together. On days that we don't meet, he has written instructions on what I should be doing. He asks me questions like "Is there anything you need to confess?" hahaha (like the Chocolate Cake I made last weekend. Shhhhhhhh.)

He's killing me already, and I love it. LOVE. IT.

Yesterday he had me doing arm exercises to a point where I was literally shaking. He said, "That's want to work to the point of failure." I busted out laughing and said, "then we may as well just call it a day, I'm already there!" :-) He actually meant you have to overwork the muscle until IT fails/tears...but you know, I'm a smart allack...

Anyway, I'm on the move. I'm feeling like I'm really back on track. The food is good (clean, accounted for, healthy), and I'm doing some form of exercise every day (even if it's just stretching some days). I have an awesome workout partner (my ex's other ex, but that's a whole 'nuther story hehe) and we're really committed.

I used to think a gym was filled with mostly guys like this youtube video:

But that's just not so.  There's just a bunch of people doing the best they can to either get in shape, or stay in shape.  So if they are 110 pounds and too thin, or 330 pounds and overweight, it doesn't matter.  They share the same goal.  And I noticed most people are too busy doing their own thing to worry about the gal with the thunder thighs next to them (me hehe).

So for the next 6 months, me and Gold's will be getting up close and personal.  And I'll have to come back and tell you more about my trainer.  Maybe he won't mind a picture (so he and I can do before/afters for this phase of my Carly Project!)

~Carly ♥

If you are getting this in email, you won't be able to see the youtube video so you'll have to come to the site to see it (link is down at the bottom.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Universal Sucking

This funk of mine just doesn't want to go away. Mind you, the best thing I can DO to get OUT of a funk, is to GET UP, and GET OUT, and MOVE, and take ACTION and leave the funk behind.

Still, there's absolutely no point in experiencing a funk if I can't over-analyze it and then broadcast my funk findings, right? :-)

Whilst sitting around in this funk yesterday (eating, not exercising, have a right jolly old pity party, complete with nostalgic music to make me homesick for a past I can never go home to, you know, greatly enhancing the funk drama), I found myself feeling like I got the short end of life's stick in so many ways.

Poor me; no man has ever loved me. (I can assure you the two men, who claimed to, did not, in fact, actually love me. Love doesn't brutalize. Just saying.) Anyway....Poor me, I've been doing life alone for 7 years with no family in the state. Poor me, I have a long commute. Poor me, being a single mom everything lands on my shoulders alone and it's so much responsibility. Poor me, my house is a 1947 home that needs everything replaced. Poor get the idea.

I tried to make myself cry. I put on Linda Ronstadt's "Somewhere Out There" and then laughed at the Youtube video. What a dorky haircut and cheesy song (I like cheesy though.)

Then I Googled poetry for sad, lonely, loneliness, aloneness, being alone, blah blah blah. I thought most of the poetry I was reading kind of stunk and it didn't make me cry, either. (Mind you, when I wasn't TRYING to cry, several tear ducts opened wide up and released some tears...well I needed that in order to clean out those ducts...I tend to hold tears in for months at a time.)

Right. So then I somehow got thinking, "This sucks." You know, all of it. It just sucks. Being human. Doing life. Going through all the motions. Making choices, hitting brick walls, backing up, making other choices, hitting more brick walls, rinse, repeat.

Then I asked myself "Who DOESN'T it suck for?"

Hmmmmm. Now THAT was a good question that started to turn my day around. I thought...

Well, it sucks for black people having to overcome SO MUCH hatred. It sucks for immigrants trying to come here and find a better life, leaving their families behind. It sucks for women, not making as much as men and having SO MUCH responsibility. It sucks for men, always having to "be strong" in stereotypical he-man fashion. It sucks for Native Americans. I mean, come on, we invaded their land, killed whole populations, and took over like we owned the place. And then took ownership! It sucks for people with learning and physical disabilities. It sucks for poor people with not enough to eat. It sucks for rich people who can't handle because someone always did everything for them. It sucks for famous people who can never go out on the street without being recognized. It sucks for Obama having half the globe hate you. It sucks worse for Bush having 3/4 of the globe hate you. That was a sobering even sucks to be President sometimes.

And it occurred to me, that this entire planet, the cold, hard world, is filled with Universal Sucking.

And our job is to do what we can to make it less sucky, one little choice at a time. And that first choice can be in how we choose to look at things. Hopeful, or hopeless. That's really what it all comes down to for me at any given moment.

Today? Today I am hopeful. I am hopeful that having all these goals means something. I am hopeful that forging ahead, making myself be strong, forcing myself to keep going in a forward motion....will impact my son and he will incorporate these lessons into his toolbox for life.

Maybe there isn't really Universal Sucking. Maybe there is Universal humanity and we get to choose if it sucks or not. I like that a lot. (Of course, I already knew it. Sometimes I need to be reminded of the same things DAILY. That's why affirmations work so well!)

So there. Funk Day is over and it apparently wasn't a total waste of time! Yay!

Friday, October 28, 2011

MIA Update

I'd like to apologize for being missing in action for so long.  I had been at a stand still for so long, and even though I have ideas rattling around in my brain all the time for my blog, I haven't felt like blogging.  In fact, I've almost dreaded it.

You see, I love to share the good stuff.  When I'm kicking butt, moving right along, making great headway in life it seems like life is so sun-shiney and good.that I can radiate rainbows from my derriere,   Who wouldn't want to share all that energy and positivity?

On the other hand, when I'm being what I deem "mediocre", I slip silently away hoping to not be seen or heard, wanting to fade into the woodwork.  I do not like BEING blah, so I really don't like TALKING about being blah.  Still, BLAH is a part of the human condition and I need to share the whole process, not just the bits and pieces that make me look best. :)

For now, I'll post a couple of new before/after pics.  I have been back on track for a little while now and am just about the same weight I was in June.  I consider that a victory considering in the past I'd gain back everything I lost and then some.  This time it's different.  This time nothing is going to keep me from living the life I can have - being healthy, fit, and happy.

I have a lot to say...about personal trainers, about making worthy realistic goals, and next right choices.

Blogging is a next right choice, even if it seems like a chore lately. What it does is keep me accountable, and for some reason, people like me...we need that. :-)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grocery Tip #3

My local neighborhood grocery store went out of business on the 4th of July and I have been trying different stores trying to find my new "home" store.  I went to two different Shoppers Food Warehouses, an International store down the road, a Food Lion and a Safeway.  None felt like "home.

I went recently to Giant Foods, however, and was pretty blown away. The first thing of note was that hey have an optional hand-carried scanner that can you can take with you in the grocery store.  You grab some bags, your "wand" and head out.

As you find things you want, you scan them into the device and then put them in your grocery bag.  If you have produce or salad bar, there are scales everywhere.  You press a button to indicate which item you are buying and it prints out a label with bar code which you can scan and then stick on the item.  So entirely cool!

Down side:  It can be a little cumbersome and it can feel a little time consuming as you weigh produce or scan and bag as you go.

Up side: Because you are really taking your time and thinking about each purchase, you are really considering if you want the item or not.  Also, you get a running total as you go, which makes you completely aware of how it's adding up.  Best part?  Sail right through the check-out (self checkout) because you just point your scanner at a barcode, it reads the info from your handheld device, you pay and leave.  The scanning and bagging's already done!  Love it.

I ordinarily spend over $200 at the grocery store.  (I know - that sounds so bad but healthy isn't cheap!!!)  But at Giant I spent only $129 and got most of what I needed, without a bunch of stuff I didn't need!  If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it.

Giant Foods had a great variety of everything I was looking for.  There were a lot of organics mixed in with everything else as well as an entire long natural, whole foods and/or organic aisle.  I was pretty impressed.

They also have the peapod service where you can order online and get the groceries delivered right to your door.  I've done that in the past - their produce was always very fresh and good (compared to Safeway delivery.  I swear Safeway hand picked everything that was about to go bad or that the public wouldn't buy and stuffed it into the delivery orders.  Ack!)

So if I was rating with a star system, 1 star being "bad" and 5 stars being "great," Giant would get 4.5 stars from me.  It's VERY consumer-friendly, affordable (wait, there are no groceries that are affordable these days), good quality and the store was impeccably clean.  Yay Giant!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Chill Is In The Air

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.  
                                                              ~Stanley Horowitz

This is the first day that really feels like autumn. I LOVE IT. It's 58 degrees and there is a dry, crisp feel in the air. A perfect day for snuggling up with a soft blanket and a good book or movie. Too bad I've been working all day! But the season is young and I've got big plans for this fall!

I cooked chicken yesterday in the crock pot. It was SO good this time. Just onions on the bottom, chicken stuffed with a halved lemon, no additional liquid, and roasting on low for 5-6 hours. Mmmmmm fall off the bone goodness. There was quite a bit left over.

This morning I decided to use the leftover chicken for soup. Too bad I didn't think of it yesterday before I threw out all that stock! Still, I've so seldom made soup I didn't even really know what to do. So I did what any self respecting slug would do and just made it up as I went along rather than Googling for a recipe. :-)

I put in just the leftover chicken, shredded, about 6 cups of organic chicken stock, a 16 oz. bag of frozen vegetables, two handfuls of tri-colored pasta twists and salt and pepper. It cooked for hours in the crock pot. The pasta fell apart but that only made it extra thick which I happened to like.

Mmmm, mmmm, good! (Wait, that's already taken. Shoot. How about "yum?")

I'm so proud of myself. I cook almost everything from scratch these days and it's healthy, mostly organic, and tastier than all the highly processed stuff. There was a time when I could barely get myself to the grocery store and most of the basket was precooked, frozen dinners, highly processed microwavable things.

I want to come back and blog a little about the process from there to here. It wasn't a direct line. It was definitely a zig-zagged line and it required fixing a lot of other things along the way. And of course, there's still much work to do on Project Carly. :-)

Enjoy your fall weekend! Back to work for me....with soup in the ready!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Push up O'Clock

Yesterday I started back on the road to a fitter, healthier me.  The detour wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  When I got on the scale, it was 254.  I thought it was going to be much higher. Whew.  Still, that set me back to mid-June before all my travels and vacations and that's a little sad.  I have to remember that any time I have derailed in the past, it set me back decades.  So this is most definitely progress.

The key components to my getting on track have to include:

  • Eating healthy, whole, and whenever possible, organic foods
  • Eating appropriate quantities of foods
  • Reducing or eliminating processed foods
  • Doing some form of aerobic workout (treadmill, biking, etc.)
  • Doing some weight training
  • Doing some toning exercises
My food is pretty much in check and I've gotten back into recording what I eat on my Weight Watchers tracker.  Accountability like that is important for someone like me who can delude herself rather easily.  I have not started the aerobics.  I keep having a panicky "I MUST do this" or "I HAVE to" feeling, which somehow paralyzes me.  I'll work through that, but in the meantime, at least some toning and resistance exercise is occurring.  

This exercise is in the form of "Push-up O'Clock."

At the top of every hour, all my coworkers and I get together and do just a couple minutes of some form of exercise, such as:
  • As many push-ups as we can
  • As many sit-ups as we can
  • Push-ups against the wall
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Crunches
  • Anything else someone comes up with
We did this all day yesterday, and after just one little day I have somehow managed to make every part of my body a little bit sore.  I'm GLAD!  This actually feels good and is a reminder that I'm doing something good for my body.  Yay!

I'm going to continue the push-up o'clocks and enjoy the results (my shoulders will start to be sculpted again...doing various kinds of push-ups are awesome for the shoulders!)  

I may have to alter the schedule a little though.  Because 3:00 p.m. has been my choco'clock for months.  I grab a square or two of 72% or greater dark chocolate and a cup of coffee as my daily reward for all my healthy choices. And if I'm going to get back into the swing of things, I'm not willing to give up the rewards.  So after a moment of consideration, I have decided choco'clock will be at 3:30 pm.  Done and done.

Grab folks at your office and get them doing push-up o'clock with you!  I bet they'll love it and you'll get pretty quick rewards.  If you try it, let me know!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Abandonment, Someday and Me.

I think we all have fears of abandonment to some degree.  We may have even experienced some form of abandonment:  a life partner leaving us, a parent passing away, having a best friend stop liking us and then fade into silence are all examples of abandonment and it's not a fun process to go through.

However, I think the worst type of abandonment I have ever had to deal with is when I have walked out on myself.  The times I have abandoned my own dreams, turned my back on my goals, and allowed myself to slip into the "someday" mentality.  You know what I'm talking about.  You're not fully alive and not fully embracing today because you're waiting for that elusive "someday" to arrive: 

  • I'm going to lose weight someday.
  • I'm going to work on my education someday.
  • Someday I'd like to write a book.

There are also derivative variants of "someday," like:

  • One of these days I'm going to start exercising again.
  • After summer I'm going to start jogging again.
  • Next month I want to......

They are all vague, impossible-to-pin-down times that aren't assigned an actual start date and therefore can keep getting pushed further and further away.

That's where my whole "makeover" went since June.  "After this trip" "After this vacation"  "After I deal with this funeral" "One of these days I'm going to get back on the plan."

Well, skaroo that.  I have "someday'ed" myself right up the scale.  I can't tell you how much I have gained, because I was putting off getting on the scale until 'someday' when I was back on track! 

This morning, I woke up with one thought screaming in my head:
  • Today, I got up and made a fantastic green smoothie with spinach and greek yogurt and fresh fruits.
  • Today, I have been doing "pushup o'clock" or "lunge oclock" all day at work.  Every hour, on the hour, I have been moving and squatting and lunging.  And I will continue to do that at the top of each hour...all
  • Today, I am having a dark leafy green salad with salmon for lunch and if I get hungry later today, I am having some organic oatmeal with raisins.
  • Today, when I get home, I am facing my fears and getting on the scale.  You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right?
  • And NO MATTER WHAT, today I am getting my arse back on that treadmill.
I'm not going to abandon myself, my dreams, my goals.  I matter.  I'm worth the effort.  This isn't a dress rehearsal.  We can't live in "someday" or even "tomorrow."  All we have is today, and I want to live it.

Who's with me?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall Cleaning

It's September 2, 2011 and I have a confession.

I haven't worked out, at all, not even once, since about July 20th.  That's nearly 8 weeks.  Egads, that's bad!

My weight loss is at an absolute standstill.

I have started back "clean eating" again.  I'm tracking everything I eat on Weight Watcher's online tracking tool, I'm making sure I eat plenty of dark leafy green veggies.  I'm going super low on the grains and minding my portions.  After just a few days back on my game, I can feel a noticable difference.  My son could tell you I'm less of a bee-otch also.  That's a fact.


I have to start moving again.  I hopped up on the treadmill just to get reacquainted with it and work my way back.  I didn't actually use the treadmill.  I just stood on it barefooted and kind of groped at the buttons and handles and such.  It felt like a start.  I keep saying "if I could only just do 10 minutes today, I'd be happy" or "I'm going to do 10 minutes today, no matter what."  And then.....I do not do it.

In fairness to me (it's my blog, I get to be fair to me!) we're in the midst of all-new schedules and adjusting to that.  I used to get up at 5, eat protein, drink coffee, wake up, do laundry if I needed it that day, then start exercising at 5:45 until 7 am.  Then I'd shower, get ready for work, drop my son off at elementary school by 8:30 and head to my work.

Now?  He gets dropped off at 6:55 a.m. at the latest for middle school.  I have lost a full 90 minutes of my morning!  AND I'm taking a college class that requires 2 to 3 hours per day of reading/participating online, etc.  Frankly, I'm drowning under the weight of things at the moment.

Ironically, I know that if I start exercising regularly, I will have more energy and clarity for dealing with everything.  Such a catch 22.  But as I discovered with the eating...I can come back around and psychoanalyze the "whys" later.  For now, I just need to take action and do it.  I'll report back as a comment on this post when I actually get up on that treadmill and walk!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Water The Weeds?

It doesn't take an expert gardener to realize that my garden is just a wee bit overgrown and could use some major weeding.

I've been gone most of the summer and with what little time resources I have, I've been doing other trivial things - like paying bills, cooking, cleaning, school shopping, working, etc. I don't feel terribly badly about it, but looking at the flower beds, something kind of profound hit me.

All summer the sprinkler was set to water everything in the back all at once.  It was the easiest way to make sure everything got wet.  And of course, "everything" included the weeds.  Look at 'em.  They're thriving as they choke out my flowers.  Heck you can barely even see the flowers as the weeds are totally taking over.

And as I looked at how the weeds were thriving, it occurred to me:  Don't Water The Weeds!

What grows?  That which you invest your time in, pay attention to, nurture, and nourish.  Hmmmm.

I have limited time, money, energy and stamina.  I need to focus my limited resources where they are going to make the best possible impact in my life, and in my son's life.  I need to take a look at where I am putting my time, money and energy.  Am I mindlessly "watering the weeds?"  Heck yeah!

I'm not saying that every minute of every day needs to be spent on task, working toward a specific goal.  But I can demonstrate whole days that blew by me whilst Googling and learning all about interesting yet  useless information, or flinging angry birds across the screen, or hitting refresh 100 times to see if someone responded to my fascinating facebook post.  In other words, I have been, at times, watering the weeds.

The same can be said of relationships.  Am I watering and feeding the healthy ones?  I'm not sure that I am.  I know for certain I have invested some of my limited time and resources on relationships that do not add to my life, do not nourish me, and do not bring me closer to peace, happiness or a better place.  And instead of letting them go, I think that by adding enough water they'll stop being weeds and turn into flowers.  I'm not a botanist, but I don't think it scientifically works that way.

Well, moving forward, I want to be more aware of how I am spending my time, my finances, my energy and my heart.  I want to do a little more weeding and make better choices in my Life's Garden. I want to kind of map it out.  See what I have, what I should take care of, what I need to weed out, and become more aware of how I'm spending my resources.  That leads right into planning and goal setting, which I will save for another day.  For today, I'm going to just be mindful of how I am spending my time and money, because you can't fix what you don't acknowledge and you can't acknowledge what you don't even allow yourself to see!

And what I see is the makings of a beautiful garden, if I pay attention to what I'm doing!  :-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Behind The Scenes

"People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved."

     ~Anne Sullivan

Not that long ago, a reader sent me an email letting me know I was inspiring him in a couple of areas.  (Thank you for that feedback - I really do love hearing that!)  After a couple of exchanges, the person seemed shocked to learn that I work full time and have a 45 minute commute each way.  His comment was something like "whoa - you do all this - write the blog, work out, take care of a son, run the household, pay the bills, take care of the house, etc. AND you work a full time job?  Seriously?  I had NO idea!"  He went on to say he was even more impressed.

The whole exchange really got me thinking.

What DO people know about me?  What DO they see?  What about the folks who knew me in high school but skipped over the whole adult years until recently?  What about those who saw me walk through some pretty torturous periods in my life - the "all time low" times?  What do THEY see when they look at me, my progress, my journey?

I know for certain there are some people who look my way and think "well, easy for HER.  She's got it together and has the kind of personality that is organized enough to do all of that."  What they don't see is what it took to get this far, and the sometimes halting, debilitating, painful steps I still sometimes need to take to get to the next leg of the journey.  And believe me, there are many of THOSE steps!

I really want to come back around to this topic over the next couple of weeks.  But for right now, I'm in the middle of climbing out of one of those painful, halting, debilitating places and have to focus on just the basics:  Food, shelter, job.  What are the minimum requirements moving forward immediately to get me to higher ground?

  1. What I eat must be "clean" and nutritious.  I have been eating so much junk and you really ARE what you eat.  I have felt horrid, depressed and unable to make good "next right" choices.  So I have to commit to eating choices that I know will offer nutrients, vitamins, energy and a positive impact on me.  So far today, so good. 
  2. I have to get moving.  Even if I just commit to 10 minutes on the treadmill, I will feel better instantly.  I know this.  Yet I have resisted since I got back from all my travels.  I can't ignore this anymore.  Just 10 minutes between now and bedtime tonight.  No matter what.
  3. If 1 and 2 above are in place, I will have much more clarity to focus on the rest of the "musts."  I have many "musts" that have to be taken care of:  Of course, my job must stay a priority.  I am also enrolled in college and the classes aren't going to care the this whole hurricane business derailed me or debilitated me.  They are going to care that my homework is done and I am participating.  So this is a MUST, no matter what.  And the whole mothering, cooking, carpooling, pta stuff looms overhead.  I'll just need to look each night at what MUST be done the next day, keep it simple, make a list, do it, and keep moving.
I think I'm moving in the right direct again after a slight derailing.  At least my MIND is moving in the right direction today.  I really do believe that if I do #1 and #2 above well, the rest of me will follow quite aptly again.  It's all related.  And it starts with recommitting to the belief that I'm worth the effort.

I want people reading this to see, and to know, that not all the steps are easy.  Not all the choices are easy.  walking the walk is infinitely harder than talking the talk.  Life knocks me over.  Dealing with the hurricane on the heels of a whirlwind of travel and being out of my routines knocked me on my butt.

I read a quote today (don't know who to attribute it to) that speaks to this whole blog today:

"Circumstances don't make you, they reveal you. How you respond to the life God offers you is what makes you."

 It all comes down to choices.  I'd like to choose wisely. If I eat healthy and exercise, I seem to make MUCH wiser choices.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath (Hurricane Irene)

Warning:  This might end up being a really long blog entry as I feel like I'm working through many mixed feelings.

Like the entire east coast of the US, I just experienced hurricane Irene - the warnings leading up to the storm, the advance preparation, the storm itself and the 'aftermath.'    I can't go in to work today as our phones are out and we're teleworking.  And I'm finding myself having a strong delayed reaction to the past several days.

To help organize my thoughts, I'm going to break them into 3 sections:

  • The Storm
  • The Background
  • The Aftermath

The Storm

Hurricane Irene rolling in Friday night at mi casa
I spent a lot of time before the storm hit researching about it.  I googled and found the Maryland emergency management site.  I watched the Weather Channel 24/7.  All reports showed that the storm of our lifetime was coming.  Maryland Emergency Management stated that everyone east of Frederick, MD should put plywood on their windows, and do all the other preparations.

I am a single mom with my nearest relatives several states away.  That makes me solely responsible for the welfare of me and my son, as well as my home.

Yes, I taped the windows.
I own a 1947 house with a roof that already leaks.  Ironically I had an appointment Saturday as Irene was rolling in to get a price on a new roof.  I have several large trees around the house.  I bought 14 gallons of water.  I had dry ice and block ice in the cooler anticipating the widespread power outages. I bought plenty of non perishable foods as well as fruits/veggies that are 'ready to eat.'  I made sure the propane tanks were turned off.  I bought rope and tied down the grill and patio furniture.  I taped all the windows.  I made sure we both had showers Saturday afternoon and then filled the tub with water in case it would be needed for flushing.  I made sure all the laundry was caught up.  I went to several stores in order to get D batteries (as they were sold out almost everywhere.)  I got an extra charge pack for charging a cell phone if the electricity went out.  I made sure all our electronics were charged.  And that candles and a lighter were nearby and easily accessible.  I had sleeping bags and a "go bag" ready in case a tree fell through the roof and we had to go quickly.

I don't remember everything  I did, but I spent two solid days getting ready.  I went to bed Saturday night, exhausted, knowing two things:  (1) The brunt of the storm was about to hit overnight and (2) I had done everything humanly possible - the outcome was out of my hands.

Two houses down from me.  That's gonna leave a mark.
The storm came and went.  My roof did not leak.  A big branch the size of a tree fell in my yard (no harm done at all).  There were big trees nearby that did fall (one on a poor guy's van).  Of course, there's widespread power outages in the area but our house was fine. Yesterday (Sunday) I spent the day cleaning up the yard and undoing a lot of the earlier prep (taking down the tape, etc.)


The Background

Many of you don't know me, or didn't know me over the past few years. You didn't see where I started, what it took to get me to this point in my life.  I left a volatile, emotionally and verbally abusive marriage as a crushed human being in early 2005. I got a protective order in early 2006 as he continued to escalate despite the separation, and the divorce became final in May 2006.  During that time, the thought of simply going grocery shopping, coming home, putting the groceries away....that whole process....was at times overwhelming.  There were times when I'd have to break a task like cleaning the kitchen down into tiny baby steps in order to not feel overwhelmed and paralyzed.  Major clinical depression, a little post-traumatic stress and a whole lot of responsibility sometimes knocked me to my knees for days even weeks at a time.  Little things like just doing dishes or taking down the Christmas tree could derail me emotionally (really.)

Over the years, I have used the "baby steps" approach to tackling almost everything in my life - my career, my finances, my parenting, my housekeeping, my smoking, and my weight.  One little topic at a time I have been becoming stronger, more competent, more able to roll with life's punches and keep moving forward.

So when the whole hurricane warning thing came up, I was thankfully in a position to be able to deal with it alone without it overwhelming me or knocking me over,  I had the financial resources to buy what I needed.  I had the personal time available to take a day off and work on the preparations.  My house was already pretty clean/organized, so all my focus was on safety things.  My body and mind switched into "high alert" and I just did all that needed to be done (in my opinion....others felt I may have gone overboard on my preparations, but I would rather be prepared and not need it than the other way around) like "Rabbit" from Winnie the Pooh "Must keep the schedule, must keep working."

So Friday and Saturday was non-stop preparation. Sunday was assessing the aftermath, cleaning up the yard, and realizing we'd dodged quite a bullet here, followed by watching what was happening as the storm approached my friends and family from New Jersey to Maine.  (One cousin in Mass. had a tree fall on her house and electric wires on her car, my elderly parents were and still are without power in Maine and I was worried all night that they could get flooded, etc.)

The Aftermath

Today, I have been hit with overwhelming emotions from it all.  Maybe part of it is that the adrenaline that kept me going stopped being necessary and has drained away.  Maybe the intensity of watching The Weather Channel and following (with great stress) what was happening to my friends and relatives as the storm went up the coast has dissipated.   Maybe it's my overwhelming sense of isolation and "aloneness" in times like these that's hitting me.  Or just pure relief?  Or some combination of all of the above (most likely.)

Regardless, I have been out of control eating today. One minute I'm sad or angry about nothing in particular.  The unseen enemy?  Or frustrated to no reason - or alternately....feeling empty, too.  It's just a strange combination of ups and downs and it's ticking me off.

I have gotten into ridiculous amounts of carbs which no doubt are making me feel much worse.  I also have thought about going out and buying cigarettes!  Of course, I'm NOT going to do that (I'm on day 666 of my quit!).  But the thoughts did cross my mind.  It gets to me that when my emotions soar like this it's ME I feel like subconsiously destroying.  What's up with that?

Anyway, I'm fine.  I normally don't share days like today.  The thought of strangers reading this doesn't bother me at all.  I feel like I'm just showing the reality of my inner life.  The thought of my own mom reading this, or friends/relatives/coworkers makes me feel vulnerable and like putting put a big notice:  Please do NOT call me and ask if I'm okay or I'll scream!  

I don't ordinarily share ANYTHING when I'm in the midst of it.  I'm WAY more comfortable fixing it, getting over it, dealing with it, etc. and THEN talking about it in the past tense,  It's just how I roll.


I'm human.  Life isn't always easy.  No matter how positive and rah rah I get, sometimes life can just be hard and there are times that require a lot from us, and though we rise to the challenges, sometimes, we need a soft landing afterwards.  I don't really have that soft landing (I'm still here, still responsible, still have to figure out how to get the tree outta my back yard, still have to be the breadwinner etc.) and I want a soft landing dammit.  So I'm landing in soft carbs.

I need to have a better plan.  Like landing on a soft treadmill.  Which I haven't been on in 2 months. blog topic?  
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