Category Archives: motivation

The Elusive Muse

It’s rare. These pockets of time in between always having something to do and somewhere to be. It is 10 minutes, 20 at the most and i have forgotten how to just….be. To stop looking at my phone for emails that aren’t really to me. To stop flipping through the endless stream on FB, insta, pinterest….

So, in one of those rare moments today, I forced myself to sit, isolated, for those 15 minutes. I listened. I heard water rushing down from a fountain. I heard snippets of people mid conversation as they walked by. A dog barking,  the rumble of engines from a nearby street.

download (1)It is beautiful there in my own silence and I can’t believe I had forgotten this place where i used to visit all the time. Not a physical place….but a place in my mind where I could exist and daydream and let myself write. Those are my best moments as a writer. Not forced, but inspired.

It’s been a long time since I really felt like a writer and I miss it like an old friend who I could share all my deepest, darkest secrets with who drifted away because I just didn’t keep in touch. I own that. It’s like losing your singing voice. A few weeks ago at church, we sang a hymn that I actually knew (which seems to rare as all the songs are different!) and I was feeling extra confident and trying my best to sing. But my range isn’t where it used to be, I’m out of practice. And that’s how it feels with writing, like I’m out of practice.

I know I romanticize my writing experience in college. I was in creative writing courses and I was constantly in writing mode. Those moments of sunshine out in the quad and having my notepad handy to capture any creative thought feels so far away. I often want to dig through all those old boxes of writing and re-read those stories and poems, the creative nonfiction I wrote because I remember it being so good. And yet, I don’t – because I don’t want to read it and realize it was…just okay.

Maybe I need a new muse. Maybe I need to start getting to the point faster. Maybe I just need to write whether it turns out great or not and be okay with that.

be-writingThat’s a start.

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Remembering the “Me” in Mother

I am not sure what the magic number is, but I was just far enough away from vivid memories of a newborn and those daily struggles as a new mother to be open to the possibility of trying for baby #2. I’d see others having babies and it made me miss those tiny fingers and toes. I wanted to smell that new baby smell and relive that bond that only a mom and baby can experience.

We were fortunate to get pregnant again within a reasonable time frame…and here I am, 29 weeks later feeling a bit terrified of this tiny life growing inside me. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to meet our baby girl in May. It is what I wanted. But as the final trimester is now in play…things are starting to feel a lot more real. Unlike my first pregnancy where I spent my time imagining what was in store for me – now, I don’t have to imagine. I know. I think that is why I am pretty much terrified of what’s next. I think back to the first few months with Daxton and I remember it was hard. It was beautiful and perfect and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. How in the world will I survive that same experience on top of having a 3 year old?

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head about my ability to be the type of mom I want to be to both my kids. I think about being the type of wife I want to be when I have 2 kids. And I think about the type of daughter, sister, aunt and friend I want to be when my life takes this new twist in just a few months. Man, it feels overwhelming.

Then I reflect for a moment. I take a few deep breaths and I realize I forgot to think about someone pretty important in all this thinking. Me. How will I be good and kind to myself when I have 2 kids? I forgot to ask myself this really important question in the midst of preparing for meeting my first child. And I’ve spent the last 3 years not figuring it out totally, and that makes me sad. It makes my husband sad.

So i’m going to try to be mindful this time. I’m going to be nicer to myself. I’m going to be more willing to ask for help and believe it’s not a sign of weakness on my side. I’m not going to torture myself if breastfeeding doesn’t work out like I want it to. I am going to make time for myself to do things I enjoy and love – like seeing my friends and making plans even if it’s a little inconvenient or hard to get ready for with 2 kids. I’m going to rely on my husband to take care of things when I can’t and trust that someone else can be in charge of washing the bottles correctly or pairing the tiny socks and finding the right drawers to put away the laundry correctly.

3f4ffe4ac23adcc5f25a322df290998dI realize the hardest part of being a mom for me is tangled up in my need to love my family fiercely and my inability to extend that same type of love and compassion to myself. And that makes everything harder. Self created hardship, I know.  So my goal is to keep loving fiercely and add myself to the list of people I want to be thoughtful of during this next season of my life.

Being a mom is about being willing to put someone else before your own needs. I don’t expect anything different this time around, I know my life, my hopes, my dreams will all be wrapped around a tiny little finger.  I know my daughter will be the next love of my life and my heart may burst. But I must make more room, my heart has to grow even bigger this time – because I have to find room for me again despite how hard it will be.

Sometimes we forget that there is a “me” in mother. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I choose to believe it is because we need that reminder. Because I’m not “the best me” when I’m not extending the same kindess and love to myself that I am offering everyone else. To be a better mother (and all of those other things I want to do be good at), I’m not overlooking me this time.

I have to believe my kids will thank me one day. My kids will always come first, I think that is in the DNA of being a mother…but I have decided I deserve a place on the list, too. This new chapter of my life is going to be really hard. I’m going to be really tired. But it will be full of love, and it’s not just going to be about loving my children but remembering to love me, too.

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Beyond the Thank You

First off, I have to admit that finding time and creative energy to blog weekly has been a challenge for me. I guess that is part of the intention though, to push myself. So here I am…week 3. Thank you to those who have reached out to tell me you are glad I’m blogging again…blogging can sometimes feel like talking to an empty room. So, thank you for making me feel heard. It makes a big difference to me!

Okay, that actually segways into my intended topic nicely today. On with it, as they say…

When is the last time you thanked someone? Not just a quick, “Hey, thanks!” or the generic thank you note we end up writing after we recieve gifts (unless you are the rare amazing gift thank you card writer, I know maybe 1 person in this category!).  I’m talking about a real sincere and specific thank you.

It’s been awhile for me too, so don’t feel bad if this has you thinking and coming up short.

Let me back up for a minute. I had the fun experience this past week to go back in time to my last job and participate as an employer at a student career fair alongside a few of my colleagues. It felt strange to be on the “other side” – but I fell into step with my old colleagues right away, laughing and joking and catching up with things happening. They are family like that – you don’t have to talk everyday to feel connected.

Anyway, after a long day of standing and chatting up students and alumni about my company, I was so ready to sit down (p.s. cute shoes + pregnancy isn’t a match)! As I was finishing up my meal, a young lady with a familiar face tapped me on the shoulder.

“Dre? I’m not sure you’d remember me, but I’m (insert name here) and I was one of your ACAD babies.” (read: she took a freshman 101 course that I taught).

Me: “Oh wow! Your face was familiar but I wasn’t sure since you were here as an employer how I might know you! How are you?”

Her: “I’m great! Actually, that is why I wanted to come and talk to you. I never had a chance to thank you. The whole reason I’m here today recruiting for my company is because of you.”

She went on to tell me that as a result of her being in my freshman 101 course, she came to see me later in her college life to help with a resume. Then I helped her with a resume to get an internship. The internship turned into a full time job where she is happily employed now that she has graduated.

Of course, all of this was so great to hear. There is nothing that makes a career development professional more pleased than to hear  someone is happily pursuing a career they love because you helped in some way. But during her story she said something that really stood out to me:

“I figured that you might not always get to hear the success stories of the people you help, and I’m so appreciative of the time you spent with me. It really helped me get to where I am today. Thank you.”

She’s right. It’s so rare in life to get the end of any story. We play a minor role in a lot of peoples lives, and often we are in a different place by the time the story of that person plays out. We don’t know the impact we have on someone through our actions, our words, our referrals, by just offering a friendly smile on a crap day.

But that’s why it’s so important we take this whole “thank you” thing more seriously. My heart grew about 3 sizes when she shared her success with me. It made me feel so good that I had a positive impact on someones career, even if it was just helping her get on track with a resume and internship.

downloadHow hard would it be for us all to take time to reach out to someone who made a difference in our life? Did you ever tell someone  what they said made a difference? Maybe it wasn’t a life altering thing, but maybe someone’s well timed joke or delivery of baked goods was just what you needed when you felt like giving up.

I am going to take time to be more sincere with my thank you’s. I won’t overlook the power of good manners, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to sincerely appreciate someone when they have made a difference in my day, and even more so – if they’ve made a difference in my life.

I challenge you to do the same.

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The Give and Take

My last post was almost 2 years ago on this site. I’ve decided to try a “come back” here promising a weekly blog. More on that in a sec…

There is too much that has happened to capture in a catch up blog, so here’s the deal – I’ll fill you in as we go. Here’s what is important for today and this first blog back in the sattle…

Our family at my son's 2nd birthday party!

Our family at my son’s 2nd birthday party!

My family has recently started attending a church. We moved to “the suburbs” last year and with our little guy on the brink of turning 3 and another one on the way, I really wanted to get back into a church community. We really like where we are going now, but haven’t officially joined yet. It’s a Presbyterian Church which is a bit different from my husband’s Catholic school upbringing and my Southern Baptist world. But it’s a place where I can see my family growing as part of the community and that it important. Our minister sends out a weekly email blog of sorts with some food for thought. This past week, she talked about Lent and her ideas about what she was going to do and it got me thinking.

I have often played around with the “Lent” thing…but it was not part of what we did growing up so this is the first year that I’m surrounded by a church community who participates. I’ll be honest that my freshman year of college, I thought the rapture was upon us as everyone around me had this “mark” on their forward and no one else seemed to be noticing but me. After a miniature freak out, my more cultured friends told me it was Ash Wednesday. Whew, what a relief.

Anyway, I’ve been pondering on what I want to do for Lent this year…and something my minister said struck a chord with me. She talked about how Lent doesn’t have to be just giving up something, it could be adding something to your life as well. I’d never considered that as an option….

After about a  week of thinking about it, I’ve come up with my Lent plan and my focus is on what I’m adding, not taking away. I’ve thought about 3 different buckets in my life I’ve been neglecting:  Spirit, Mental, Physical and aligned my Lent commitments under each of them. Often times I’ve only focused on the physical side and while its good….I am hoping to get in on some of that reap what you sow “stuff” 🙂

Spirit: A daily dose of God via an app called Daily Bible Devotion (free)

I don’t know if I’ll love the app, so I give myself permission to change to a different daily devotion if I don’t dig this one. But the bigger purpose is to not limit my interactions with God to just the weekends during church or when its good timing for me. I want to work on keeping Him in my thoughts on the regular and I hope working on this will lead to me feeling more connected to His plan and purpose in my life. So we’ll try it during Lent and see what happens.

1a7991081f279607a3b477f48d26cb0dMental: Challenging myself to write on a weekly basis

So the mental component is….well, you are looking at it. Getting back to blogging is something I have really wanted to do for awhile. I love to write and the sense of community, but often have trouble finding time to make it happen. Commiting to a weekly blog with some food for thoughts (okay, and maybe a picture of food every now and again because who doesn’t love that?) is a great mental challenge that will hopefully reconnect me to some of that “old me” stuff that I really loved (and miss). Let’s be honest, you – dear reader, benefit from the this challenge the most, am I right?!

Physical: Pass the water

So this is the one area where I’m trying to cut out something. Being pregnant and all, I already have to cut out a lot of stuff but I have still been indulging in the occasional soda. I just can’t seem to kick the habit even though I’ve done it before. So now it’s time to pull the plug and focus on more water, tea, limited coffee and of course, milkshakes. 🙂 I do drink a lot of water already, I just get bored really easy…so I need to get over myself and do this already. Lent seems like a good time to make this committment.

So it’s a lot that I’m taking on…but I’m hoping the recommitment to my spirtual life and working on incorporating writing into my life again will be good for me all around. Putting things in writing is a great way to stay committed to your goals – no matter what type of goal you are making.

What goals are you currently working toward or are you giving up or adding something during Lent?

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Just like riding a bike

Family bike ride. :)

Family bike ride. 🙂

I can’t really remember when I started riding road bikes. It happened as a natural extension of my relationship with my husband since he is so into bike riding. Perhaps it was my brief relationship with triathlon’s that sparked my interest in bike riding again.

Growing up – I was constantly on my bike, blazing through my neighborhood with no fear. In the evenings, all the neighborhood kids would ride their bikes in a circle at the dead end on my street just because we didn’t have anything else better to do but it just seemed to feel like the right place to be.

Back then, wearing a helmet to ride your bike wasn’t a thing. So some of the crazy stunts I pulled, or just some of the stupid mistakes I made on my bike could have ended up a lot worse than they were. Usually I walked (okay LIMPED) away with skinned up and bloody legs or arms, only to be right back in the saddle the next day. I loved my bike.

I loved the feeling of the wind whipping through my hair, I loved how fast I could go and the feeling of your stomach dropping as you went for it down the steepest hill you could find. It was like freedom to me.

As I aged out of the “it’s cool to ride your bike” thing, I forgot about my bike. I think my parents gave it away to my cousin – I really have no clue. I think I also forgot how much fun I had on a bike until I revisited the idea as an adult.

And even then, I approached “bike riding” with so much more caution as an adult. Everything seemed harder and more complicated. The hills seemed scary, the idea of riding without a helmet absolutely ludicrous. What happened to that bike riding fool I was so many years ago?

I eventually found my grove again on the bike. I found friends who also liked to ride their bikes, and while we didn’t ever meet to ride in circles in my neighborhood – we did meet up to ride several mile loops that led absolutely no where. Biking became “exercise.” I enjoyed it, but I always felt like it was so much harder than I remembered.

When I got pregnant, my doctor banned me from road riding. I haven’t set foot on a bike in over a year. Last night, my husband aired up my bike tires and brought my bike upstairs for me. I pulled my helmet, gloves, special shoes and sunglasses out of a bag that hadn’t been opened in a long time. It was like seeing a good friend whom you’ve lost touch with – and while you are excited to see them, it’s weird at first no matter what.

I was terrified all over again. How do I change gears? Will I remember how to clip in and out – what if I fall and make my knee hurt even more? I didn’t want to go for a ride anymore, it seemed too hard.

I did it anyway.

My husband offered to come outside to help me get started – but I refused. I needed to just do this on my own. If I was going to fall, I wanted it to be on my own so I could just get back up again, shrug it off and not have to tell anyone about it in the first place.

That first down up stroke was the most nerve wracking. It was like committing to something all over again. It took me awhile to get my left foot clipped in. I got my feet squared away and started working with the gears, trying to remember how to do this, praying I wouldn’t screw things up and cause my chain to pop off (I seemed to always manage to do this to my bike before).

I only rode my bike for about 20 minutes. I avoided the big hills and kept it in an easy gear. My knee hurt. My posture was all wrong. I felt out of breath. But I did it.

And maybe this weekend I’ll do it again. And maybe the time after that I’ll tackle that hill in our neighborhood without throwing on the brakes. I have to get back to that person.

I know I’m looking for myself again. Waiting, wanting to see that girl fly down the hill, wind blowing her hair, eyes wide and a scared but excited grin on her face. I need to find her. I’m searching at the end of every street.

 

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Fighting My Way Back to You

Over the weekend, I made a decision. Screw waiting to “feel better” – I’m just going to go for it. I keep waiting for my knees to not hurt, to feel like they used to…but what if that NEVER happens? What if I always have knee pain from now on? Does that give me a good enough excuse to just not work out? Absolutely not.

I have always struggled with some different forms of pain during my working out years – foot pain, knee pain (of a different sort), back/neck pain…I’ve been through a lot of different scenarios – but I never let it stop me from working out. I realize this weekend that I may never be the same person I was pre-pregnancy again – my body will forever be different because having a child changes you. And instead of mourning that loss of who I was before, I have to start getting to know this new person. The new Dre. And if that means starting at square one again and building my way back toward regular exercise, then so be it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks.

And despite having some new types of pain and limitations – I can still work out. It just may look and feel different than it did before. I think a big part of this process was just not wanting to accept that I needed to start over, and what that would feel like. Being totally out of shape was something I could fortunately say I hadn’t experienced in awhile. Despite still having weight to lose before I got pregnant, I still considered myself to be more on the in shape side of things. I had great endurance and strength and I felt like my energy level was in a good place. When I got blood work done and my metabolism tested – everything pointed in a good direction.

But after almost a year of just being out of synch with that part of myself, it just felt like a long journey to start again. And I think that first step was the hardest one for me to take. But I decided to just jump back in and see how things went. So last night, I re-entered our make shift work out room, dug out one of my turbo instructor dvds and pressed play. I determined I would do 30 minutes of turbo and just modify it to avoid the jumping/high impact stuff as I knew my knees wouldn’t like that.

My joints screamed a little as I did my double bob and jab knees. My hamstrings screeched a little during those front and back push kicks. My shoulders and arms complained about the 4 crosses and triples to the left. But, man – my heart sang. It felt good to lose myself a little bit – or maybe it felt good to FIND my old self again. To put back on her shoes, to listen to her music – I found myself signaling the imaginary participants behind me to punch right. I found myself smiling as my heart rate climbed, and even though I couldn’t jump, I could still reach high and practice good form. It felt good, even if I felt different.

My workout was bittersweet. I was pleased with myself in just following through, and being able to do 30 minutes without stopping. But it was hard because I know that the old me would have had a lot more pep in her step and would have been able to do more. I know I’m on the way back to that part of myself, and I realize that it’s not going to look or feel the same for me in a lot of ways. But not trying isn’t an option. That is not a good enough excuse.

Becoming a parent involves a lot of sacrifices, but it also means that you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of someone else. And I won’t let myself forget that.

I’m setting small goals for myself – 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week. I plan to do it after Daxton goes to bed around 8. I can carve out 30 minutes of my day three times a week. And maybe 30 minutes a week will turn into more, or maybe 3x a week will turn into everyday. Who knows, I just know that life is going to go on whether I participate or not, so it’s time to take matters into my own hands and try to figure out who this new version of me will be.

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Life Lemons & Making Lemonade

 

It’s been 9 weeks since I had major surgery. I’m feeling a lot better in terms of the incision healing. My swelling is gone, and if you were to see me out and about – you probably wouldn’t guess that I just had a baby you would probably just think I needed to lose some weight.

Over the last 5-6 years, even though I’ve always been technically overweight, I still was muscular and athletic. I was strong and always felt like I was “working on it.” I felt capable of trying new workouts, even if I wasn’t always the best in the class. I had more energy, my metabolism was off the charts.

I miss that person desperately. It feels like I’ve lost my dearest friend and I look at myself in the mirror and I’m not sure I really recognize this person I’ve become. I know that I birthed a child and that no one expects me to just snap back immediately to that person I was a year ago. But for me, it’s tough. I got the green light to work out moderately again at my postpartum check up around week 6. I was so excited to try and start incorporating some exercise again. And it was like the evil villain heard the news and decided to snatch my joy. I woke up  soon after with incredible pain in my knees. It hurt to walk, it hurt to move my knee joint, it hurt to go up/down stairs, it hurt to try and kneel or squat (try giving your baby a bath without kneeling/squatting!). Everything hurt. I thought it would pass – it was just some crazy after effect of the relaxin hormone/chemical (not sure what it is exactly) in my body passing through. *sigh*

But here we are, starting on week 10 and I’m still in a lot of pain. I’ve tried massage and chiropractor, I’ve tried ignoring it, I’ve tried walking more, walking less. I’ve tried stretching, heating pad, icing it – elevating my legs, I’ve tried monster size ibuprofen. I have an appointment with an acupuncturist scheduled. I’m out of ideas. I’ve heard from some others in the same boat as me, but it seems like no one has any cures other than just time. And I guess I’m impatient, I feel like knee pain impacts everything else. You sort of need your knees to do almost anything active..particularly when I’m taking care of my baby all day long in a house with 2 sets of stairs.

So I complain about this only to tell you that if I can’t really exercise right now, I can’t use that as an excuse to spiral out of control. I have to control the things I CAN control and wait for my body to fully recover from pregnancy and surgery, even if it is taking way longer than I imagined to just be able to walk without pain.

July Detox!

So my hubby and I are doing a bit of a detox this month. I’m not going on a diet – don’t worry – I know that is unsafe while breastfeeding. But I can do something about what I’m putting in my body. We are cutting out all fast food and working toward no processed foods. I think these are hard to avoid 100% of the time, but we are going to try to be at 90% unprocessed this month. If i buy something that is in a package – I can at least pick items that are as natural as possible. I can totally do that!

We are going to reduce our eat out meals – 1 lunch/1 dinner out during the week and I know we will have to work hard to get our weekend eating out adventures under control, but we can do it. When I do eat out, I can make better choices.

And at the end of this month – I know I will feel better because I’ll be DOING something about my health instead of just waiting to feel better to get started.

Life isn’t always how you plan it, and having a baby has big a big lesson in “control” and how much I don’t have control over a lot of things in my life like my schedule! But that doesn’t mean I should throw away everything I’ve worked for over the years – I just need to find comfort in the things I can control and rock it.

I’m not putting a weight loss goal on this monthly detox – because I’ve lost about 35 pounds already and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to lose the last 10 until I stop breastfeeding. But if I do – then great! But my goals are to feel better, and to feel like I’m doing SOMETHING about my health since I can’t exercise like I want to yet.

I’m feeling very “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” right now. So I’m just going to go with it and see what happens!

 

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