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Showing posts from 2019

Stop Taking Baby Steps

"Stop taking baby steps through life." - Niles Crane, Frasier

It is fitting that I am ending the year with a Frasier quote (which, by the way, is being pulled from Netflix tomorrow!). But as we close not only this year but this decade, I am reflecting on this very theme of not taking baby steps through life.

I have had friends over the years who hesitantly took baby steps in their journey, and while I would agree that baby steps are better than a total stand still, at some point we have to reach a level of emotional and intellectual maturity where we can take brisk strides.

Babies take baby steps. They are uncertain and unstable on their feet. They wobble. They lack the confidence to take normal strides. So they stumble and fall and sometimes they walk with their hands on the furniture (I am thinking of my baby nephew and wonder when he will grace us with this new delight!). But before long, they are taking solid steps and then even running. I have seen some toddlers take da…

Merry Christmas to You!

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To all of my subscribers and followers - today I wish you the merriest of Christmases. I hope your day is spent in the warmth of family and festivities, with good food as you make good memories!

But if it is not a cheerful day for you, if you are hurting or alone, I share with you this verse from John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I pray that those who are hurting will find comfort in these words.

And to all of you, merry Christmas! I share the lyrics of my favorite Christmas hymn!



Christmas Reflections - Part 3

We probably all remember our first Christmas away from home. I never went away for Christmas before, never a Christmas trip with a friend or sibling. I was always with my family for Christmas no matter what. It wasn't until the first Christmas that I was married that I was away from home.

I married at the end of September in 2006, so by the time Christmas rolled around that year I hadn't really gotten used to being alone. I not only have a fairly big immediate family, but they are a loud group, so it took me a while to get used to so much silence (now I love it!).

Not only had I gotten married, we had moved out west a bit, about 350 miles from my parents and family. We were also a solid 100 miles away from his family, so we were pretty much in total isolation. My husband's job at the time required a lot of holiday work hours so we couldn't typically get away before or on Christmas.

I remember our first Christmas alone together. It was exciting, but also isolating. It w…

Christmas Reflections - Part 2

Eighteen years ago, back in December 2001, I had my last Christmas in my hometown in Canada. We didn't know yet then that it was our last, and we were all engaged in fairly normal activities. My mom was working, my siblings were attending high school or junior high, and I was reaching the end of my first term of college.

I had a benign bone tumor on my left knee that had been there at least since I was a little kid if not forever, but I was on a waiting list to have this removed as I was beginning to experience issues with my knee during physical activity (and if I knew then what I know now, I'd have left it! My knees are both worse!). Because Christmas was looming before us, the hospital got a cancellation and called me to see if I could schedule my surgery for right before Christmas.

One week before Christmas, a very sad and tearful young version of me was wheeled into the operating room. I was truly terrified, less so of the surgery itself but I fear anything that "put…

Christmas Reflections - Part 1

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It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I was thinking about my Christmas memories, some of which are now amusing, some sad, some heartwarming, and I realized for the millionth time how blessed I have been.

I grew up poor. How poor, I probably will never really have any idea. Just today I was discussing with my sister the burdens my parents had at my age that I will never understand. Four children, financial constraints, health issues to contend with from both my dad and siblings, my mom and dad must have been at their wits' end in a way I cannot imagine.

But Christmas time at our house was always very warm, happy and full of light. Even though my parents must have been counting pennies and worrying about how to make it all work, my only memories are thrill, delight and warmth.

I think my earliest Christmas memory must have been when I was three years old, as I recall my infant sister being there. I have zero childhood recollection of believing in Santa Clause, but I have ma…

Be a Blessing Where You Are

I had the pleasure of talking recently to someone who was sharing with me her immediate plans of changing jobs. She is leaving what she currently does in order to go back to being a hair stylist on her own. I am always intrigued and celebrate people making bold changes in their life - especially if there is an entrepreneurial vein to it - and told her I think this is a great idea. She shared that she wants to do it because she feels like she will be better able as a stylist to connect with people one-on-one and make a difference in their lives.

I loved this. It's so nice to hear people talking about what they are doing to give back or help! And I started thinking that if we are not right now in a place where we can be a blessing, we need to make some changes and get into a place where we can be a blessing.

But it's hard to think about a place to be where there is no opportunity whatsoever to be a blessing to others. I can think about the people who make a difference or brighten…

The Peloton Controversy

Social media and "infotainment" news has been lit up recently with the now much maligned recent Peloton television commercial, where a husband buys his wife a Peloton bike for a Christmas gift.

In the commercial, the wife seems shocked but not unhappy to receive the bike, and in the short clip is seen chronicling her fitness journey in a series of videos. At the end of the clip, she shares a video saying that she didn't realize how much this bike would change her.

Both Peloton and the male actor portraying the husband have received a beating by the media over this. It is being labeled "a symbol of patriarchy" and an exhibition of sexism.

Most people who know me know I am the first to have my feathers ruffled when blatant or old fashioned sexism is on display. I can easily swing into soliloquy mode when I think people are misunderstanding true gender equality. I am not a feminist kook by any means, but I believe passionately in true equality and respect for both…

Loving Yourself

Love yourself. People say this all of the time. "You gotta love yourself" or "make a point to love yourself."

To be honest, I have always struggled with this concept. These comments are usually made in some context where it comes across as almost defeatist. Like, "this is who I am and that's just too bad." It seems like it is said most by people who want to give into their weaknesses and vices, stop making progress, stop trying to embrace positive change.

Everyone who knows me knows I have high expectations for myself. Whatever I am or decide to be I want to be a good one, the best, or close to the best. I perpetually put myself outside of my comfort zone to break my own barriers. I hold myself accountable not only to my poor choices, but also to the times when I do not give my best effort. I don't make excuses about "I tried my best" when I know I really didn't. I take care of myself, with physical and mental and emotional care. I c…

Review: Strange Planet - Nathan W. Pyle

I remember when I first discovered Nathan Pyle's Strange Planetcomic on Instagram earlier this year. The humorous encounters within the short comics are great observations about life. These beings, as Pyle calls them, experience life in a way that when we observe it we see it as funny, ridiculous, silly and sweet. These beings indeed live on a strange planet.

I pre-ordered the book as a gift as soon as it went on sale, and sure enough that same person reciprocated and ordered it for me and we exchanged eagerly last month. Despite following the comics on Instagram and Facebook there is new content in the book that has been a delight to view.

The beings communicate in English - but very formal English. They don't state they are getting a sun tan, instead they are getting star damage. They speak in simple, obvious phrases - but not obvious. No one speaks like this, but we say the same things when we are being serious. But stripped down to formal English and simple phrases, the be…

Short Hair, Don't Care?

It sounds funny to write about hair, long or short, it is just hair. But people are funny about hair, especially women - but especially men!

I have cried over one bad hair cut. I was eight years old, and my mom had left (I stop short here of saying the word abandoned) my sister and I with my grandmother for a visit. Juvenile memory recalling events (perhaps exaggerated) but as soon as my mother was on the road my grandma took me for a hair cut, and possibly the worst bowl shaped hair cut of my childhood which was riddled with bad hair cuts. That is how bad it was. There are pictures.

But since then, no matter the cut, I have never cried about it. It is hair, it grows back. I am lucky to not be bald or have a hideously misshapen hairline. I haven't always loved my hair cuts but I have never given them such thought to be upset by them when they are bad.

However, generally I love my hair. I wear my hair very short. I cut it all off to a short bob when I was 30, and then at 33 went ev…

Action, Motivation and Discipline

We are approaching the time of year when people begin making resolutions. I love resolutions! I am goal driven. I love a good list of things to achieve and then start checking them off. Big and small (this is partly why I started using DayZeroProject several years ago!). I make New Year's Resolutions but I also don't wait around until Monday or New Year's Day to make changes. I make them as soon as I realize what I need to do.

People will say "2020 is going to be my best year" and they list off their goals to save money, get fit, pay off debt, get promoted, go back to school - any number of great things that will benefit their lives.

And then the first few weeks of January are a flurry of activity. Getting a machine at the gym is a nightmare in January. By usually by February this has died off almost completely.

People want to be motivated. But motivation doesn't work like that. Motivation is not something most people just wake up everyday and have. If I spen…

Holiday Commercialization, Gift Giving and Shopping Addictions

It is Black Friday, no longer the beginning of the wild craze of the shopping season because the sales started weeks ago, but rather the pinnacle or culmination of all American holiday season commercialization. We are fat off turkey, feeling generous and opening our wallets both in stores and online.

There is no doubt that Christmas has been commercialized - as have all holidays - and the insanity of it can be exciting or overwhelming depending on your outlook. I think it is an unfair burden we place on ourselves when we buy gifts at the expense of increasing our debt burden, in the end that isn't very helpful to anyone. And while I celebrate the spiritual significance of this season, I don't really object to the shopping sprees either, so long as they are financially sound.

I love giving gifts. Giving is not the language of love I most like to be spoken to me, but it is my favorite way to speak love. I love to give, and I love to find surprising and creative ways to show thou…

Grief, Loss and the Holidays

I love the holidays. From about mid November until New Year's Eve I am as festive as it gets. I have decorations up, music playing, my Christmas t-shirts are washed and my Christmas headgear is ready to go. I am done my Christmas shopping every year before Thanksgiving, I am just so excited to pounce into the Christmas season!

However, for many people, the season is less than festive. It is a reminder of grief and loss of loved ones who are no longer around to share. Several people come to my mind that I know really struggle through the Christmas season.

In years past I felt ill equipped to offer any opinion on this because I had no relevant experience. Who was I to weigh in on such a sensitive topic with no background experience?

However, as many of my readers know, about this time three years ago, my father's already poor health began to rapidly decline. The last time I saw him stand up was Thanksgiving of 2016, and he passed away the day after Christmas.

Many of my coworker…

My Favorite Fictional Character Was Always Thankful

We all have fictional characters that we have sort of fallen in love with even though they are not real. That is the whole point of a great movie, book or TV show - to create characters that seem real, that we can connect to personally, that represent something we can identify with on some level.

I can think of tons of characters in fiction that I adore. My favorite is when the creator of the character balances the good and the bad. No one is entirely good and even most bad people have some redeemable quality about them, which is why I love a good villain with a soft spot somewhere!

However, my all time favorite fictional character is one that I feel I have sort of grown up with. I became acquainted with her when I was a child and she was a child and I watched her grow and I feel like as I have grown she has grown with me. This character, of course, is Anne of Green Gables main character, Anne Shirley.

Anne was feisty without ever intending to be. She never wanted attention, but she c…

Moral Obligations in Society

A dear friend and I were having an interesting discussion today about personal accountability, excuse making and societal responsibilities. She and I share a common idea that most people making excuses about their lives do have the wherewithal to make a better choice for themselves and take responsibility for their health, finances, personal relationships, etc. I believe we agree there are some who, through the mistreatment of others, have a more difficult time making positive life changes but even then they should make the changes they are able in order to improve their life.

I made a comment like, "As a libertarian, if people want to piss away their life then that is their right to do so, but I object when their life choices begin to become a burden to others."

My friend disagreed with this, stating that people must do more with their lives than piss them away (these were our literal work choices) and that we have a moral obligation to the world to do more than just be a l…

Sharing Our Gifts

As we edge ever closer to the Christmas season (next week is Thanksgiving, but I have had my tree up for over a week!), we talk about gifts. Giving and receiving gifts is always a huge topic at Christmastime; for some it is a matter of stress and for others it is a source of excitement.

I love giving gifts. Gifting is my favorite way to express love and I think I am fairly creative in some of my gift giving. I like to make people really feel like I thought about them during the process. And as Frasier tells his dad on a funny episode of Frasier, "spontaneous gift giving is one of life's great pleasures!"

However, it is not only physical gifts that we can give to one another. It puts me in mind of the quote below:

"You must believe, deep inside of you, that you were born to do more than survive, make a living and die. You were born created with a gift trapped inside of you; your job is to find that gift and serve it to the world." - Dr. Myles Munroe
I love the ph…

I Like Acting My Age

There is an episode of Frasier where Roz has a visit from her younger cousin. After a few nights of drinking and partying, Roz is tired and looking for a night in. Her cousin accuses Roz of being like an aunt of theirs, implying that Roz has gotten "old." In a chain of funny events, one of the callers on Frasier's radio show complains about not wanting to settle down, even though he is in his late forties.

At this point, Roz chimes in telling the caller to "grow the hell up!"

She then goes on to say, "I'm thirty-eight. And I feel thirty-eight. Now, I know we are all supposed to act like perpetual teenagers these days, but you know what? I like acting my age. I like being a mom. I like having a career. And I like balancing my checkbook. When did it become such a bad thing to be an adult?"

I find that this resonates with me.

Now, it was not three days ago that my husband told me that I am most known for my "excess of whimsy." And I know I …

Exercise as a Celebration

Following on the theme of health and wellness from my last post, I have also been reading and learning more about optimal fitness, how to work and rest the body, build strength, and increase cardiovascular health.

In my reading I came across a piece of advice that I had never thought of before but which actually makes perfect sense. Physical activity or exercise should not be viewed as a punishment we do to ourselves to "atone" for overeating or making "bad" food choices. Exercise should not be viewed as a punishment we inflict upon our bodies.

Exercise is a celebration of what the body can do.

It is perfect and makes sense and I think subconsciously I have lived that advice without really reflecting upon it.

If I have a day where I go out to my favorite restaurant and get queso-wasted at lunch (a rare but wonderful pleasure of mine), how does it serve my body in any way to stress, feel guilty, overdo cardio and deprive myself of my next meal?

It does nothing!

Inst…

Which is Really More Excessive - Tracking Calories or Chronic Overeating

Most people who know me know that I started tracking my calories daily back in August of 2016. I had put on quite a bit of weight that year and to keep a long story short, after being convinced I must have a twenty pound tumor inside of me, after 16 weeks of consistent tracking and staying in a deficit I was down almost thirty pounds. Turns out, the fault was mine!

In the three years since I have kept most of that weight off. This year I gained a few pounds back almost certainly due to sloppy tracking. A bite here, a lick here, a taste there, and I put about seven pounds back on. In the last 5 weeks I have tightened up the process and I am now down 10lbs, easily and without having to work out any more often - in fact, I may actually be logging fewer active minutes a week.

I have been told that it is "excessive" to count calories - that it is a pain in the butt, too time consuming, too difficult, in short just "too much." But the only thing that is really "too …

Day Zero Project Update - This is the Final Countdown!

As anyone who has read some of my previous posts will remember, back in March 2017 I signed up at DayZeroProject to create a "101 Things to do in 1001 Days" list. The mission of this website is to be an "online community for people who love creating lists, setting challenges, and making positive changes in their lives."

If that sums up any person, it is me!

I used this list to serve two ultimate purposes in terms of helping me grow and get out of my comfort zone.

1. I set really challenging goals in some areas that are truly important to me (finishing my master's degree, maintaining and expanding my fitness level, achieving goals within my career and finances) in order to keep me accountable to those ideals and push toward them.
2. I set some fun goals that are sort of out of the box for me to try new things, be lighthearted and expand my horizons (learning new recipes, completing my genealogy, taking a painting class, going to museums and celebrating milestone…

Closing Out a Decade

It is crazy that this didn't occur to me until very recently, but in two months, we are closing out a decade. When we look back we think of the 80's or 90's or 00's nostalgically, remembering the iconic moments in both society and our personal lives that really marked that decade.

As we roll into the 20's, I cannot believe how far I have come in these last ten years (the 10's? It sounds weird). Going into 2010, I had been living in my current house for less than a year, had held my green card for less than a year. I think 2010 or 2011 was when I first joined the gym where I started taking cardio dance and then Body Pump. 2011 was the last time I visited my hometown.

In 2012 I got promoted into my first leadership role. I enrolled in university to finish my bachelor's degree. 2012 was the year we made the final decision not to further pursue efforts to become pregnant and accepted our situation (to which I am very thankful!).

In 2013, I turned 30 and I feel …

In 6 Months From Today

I recently watched a video online from a health coach that reiterated some good advice that my husband has given me over the years. He basically stated that time is going to pass whether you use it wisely or not. We will wake up six months from now and either have made progress or not, but the time will pass either way.

My husband basically said the same thing when I was deciding whether to pursue my master's degree. I said, "But I will be turning 35 before I finish it." And he said, "You'll turn 35 with or without the degree. The time will pass. Do you want it?"

That made it easy.

In six months from today it will be April 25th. Spring will be in full swing. Perhaps by then you'll have had a birthday. A new decade will be upon us. What are your goals?

If you save $250/month for 6 months, you'll have $1500.

If you lose 1 pound a week for 6 months, you'll lose roughly 24 pounds.

They say with proper discipline, certain languages can be learned con…

Why I Love Sports (In General)

It is no secret that people can often be stunningly disappointing. When you think about working in groups at either school or work, you often think about people letting you down, not pulling their weight, not collaborating well, or not finishing in a timely manner.

Not to be a pessimist, but this is simply the experience many of us have faced when working in teams with people.

When I think of people trying to do something in cohesion where chaos ultimately ensues, I can always use two illustrations.

The first is traffic. If there is a car burning on the side of the road, or an accident, or any other situation out of the ordinary, normal people in traffic become erratic, unreliable and unreasonable. The thing you can almost certainly depend on is that someone will take their eyes off what they are doing, get distracted, and cause another accident.

The second example is people lining up for food. I think of work functions, a line forms, becomes disorderly, there is impatience, there is …

Creating a New Normal

I've had this conversation a few times in the last few weeks and felt like it made a good broader discussion. It came up because last month I rejoined Instagram and of course, friends soon started recommending the funny meme pages that I needed to follow.

I won't lie, some of them are pretty funny. But what I realized very quickly is how all of this tries to normalize self destructive behaviors such procrastination, excessive over eating, binge drinking, being late, poor sleep habits, etc.

I saw it mirrored in the behaviors of some people I care about, a friend of mine joking that that he is overweight and yet persists in overeating. A joke as if it is funny that obesity as we age is funny - when he has a family depending on him. Followed up with a funny meme or two, he thinks he has normalized a situation that deep down depresses him.

However, aside from the funny meme pages, I also started following a few highly successful entrepreneurs and a dozen or so incredibly fit indiv…

Review: Downton Abbey Movie (no spoilers)

About a month ago I excitedly pre-ordered my tickets to see the Downton Abbey movie, and last week was the big day. The theater was completely full, which stood out because I cannot remember the last time that theater was totally sold out.
There were women there dressed up with fascinators in their hair, and other women clearly having a girls' night in large groups. My husband and sister went with me, and my husband was one of maybe 5 men in the theater, which always surprises me because the men I know love the show!
I went into the movie with hesitation because the series was so well done that you always worry they will jump the shark, so to speak, in an effort to milk a good thing. However, I also didn't go in cynically, so I was hesitant but hopeful that the movie would be a delight.
Whereas the TV series is like the long unwinding of a great epic novel, where the subplots slowly twist together and you learn about the characters over long periods of time, the movie was more…

Celebrating my Anniversary - 13 Years of Marriage

In the next week, my husband and I will celebrate thirteen years of marriage. I don't feel like it's been an especially long time, but it hasn't been short either. When I think about us both at age twenty-three on our wedding day, and now, I realize that together we have achieved a lot, and overcome a lot, and we have built a household that thrives on laughter and uncontrived happiness.

We've been married thirteen years, but he'd known me for almost 7 years before he contracted himself to me by law (I was 16 when he met me). He knew what he was getting into on our wedding day. The day we got married, I was literally an illegal immigrant in this country, unable to work and no longer eligible for school. As if that already doesn't sound like a great bet to take, he knew everything else too - that I can be an exhibitionist, that I am mischievous as hell, crass, a bad cook and a worse driver. He knew my neatness bordered on pathological, that I was both rebellious …

My Objection to Closing the Door on Healthy Debate

I have been troubled lately by friends and acquaintances who refuse to discuss politics with me - perhaps because I am a "crazy" third party voter, or perhaps because I come to every discussion perfectly equipped with sources and facts - and they yet share things on social media that I find borderline offensive in some ways. But they don't want me to broach the subjects with them, as they believe it will harm our friendship. But somehow they think it will not harm the friendship to post these openly and yet close the door on healthy debate.

I am indeed a "foolish third party voter" - I do indeed "waste" my vote by believing in change, a different track and breaking free of a two party system where I believe the two parties aren't truly that different from one another. However, once long ago, I was a conservative that supported the Republican party, because I believed that party was most aligned with the values of freedom and personal responsibilit…

Myers Briggs Type Indicator - Communicating Better

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At some point during my time in university, as part of my leadership courses, we were asked to take the Myers Briggs (MBTI) test, which asks some questions to determine a little about your personality type, how you communicate, and how you see the world.

This is not a test meant to put people into boxes. It is meant to shed a some light on how we might better communicate with one another after understanding them and ourselves a little better. It's not a road map to our lives; it's a mirror to ourselves and a window to others, allowing for better understanding between people.

There are a few places to take this test online, the official MBTI test is here, which is what I took while in school, or also this one that is a little more engaging and fun!  What you'll surmise quickly is that there are 16 different types and it comes down to four letters.  My type: ISTP (introverted-sensing-thinking-perceiving).


This image helps a bit understanding the different components of how t…

I Was Nearly Killed by a Drunk Driver

It's pretty much common sense to agree people shouldn't drink and drive. Yet, people do and if you pull up your county bookings online (public record) you can find people are getting charged with this everyday.

My family has been wrought with the pain and consequences of this. My mom has buried more than one family member due to someone else on the road driving while intoxicated. And last week, it could have been me she had to bury.
It was Friday evening, it was around 8:30pm and the sun was inching closer to the horizon. I was listening to my music while out for my workout. I was on my normal circuit for five miles, enjoying the evening.
Unexpectedly, a driver coming toward me ran off the road, popped his tire and didn't stop, hit the curb again, popped another tire, and slammed full blast into a light pole, taking the light pole down. The only thing that prevented the pole from crashing into the roof of his vehicle was it got snagged on a power line, which was now dangli…

Gaining Confidence with Age

The past few weeks I have been engaged in some training initiatives for my new role at work. This training has involved a lot of new material and experiences and has required me to interact with tons of people I don't know and from business segments to which I am still pretty unfamiliar. When I got home from work last night, after a long week or learning, interacting and so much socialization, I told my sister that it is hard to imagine myself ten or fifteen years ago having the confidence to do this.
It led into an interesting discussion about confidence increasing with years. I have always been a confident person, even when I have been the underdog, even when I have been openly disparaged for my beliefs or opinions (I think back to a project in my high school economics class were I proposed privatization of health care and education - I was ridiculed). However, I have always been very comfortable in these situations and therefore I was confident.
And that led me to the realizati…