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Showing posts from 2020

1000 Days From Today

In 1000 days from today, I will turn 40 years old.

I mark the 1000 days because of the Day Zero project goals I always set which are "101 Things to do in 10001 Days" and just how fast those 1001 days always seem to fly by! How much your life can change in 1001 days, especially for the good if you put in the effort.

I am not sure how I should feel - there is always so much drama around turning 40. But I feel challenged, intrigued, and totally empowered that I will reach 40 in the best possible shape of my life, in a good situation, ready to dominate my forties with the same enthusiasm and determination in which I have so far conquered my thirties.

It also causes me to reflect on how great my thirties have been, and how despite how great my twenties were, my thirties were better. If the trend continues, my forties will be amazing.

Age is just a number, and that is not just a cliche. It is truly just the anniversary of how many physical revolutions your body has made around the su…

How My Traditional Father Raised A Strong, Modern Daughter

When I was six years old my dad started teaching me how to play chess. He had this really large, vintage chess set which I have since inherited. We would play fairly regularly, but my dad never let me win. He gave me a book to read to learn to play chess, an adult's guide on chess. And I read it. I would organize pieces on the board as I read to mimic different moves and strategies that I saw in the book.We would play and I would lose but I kept learning. And eventually, finally, one day I won. Not the hollow victory of him letting me win, but I really won.
And that day, I learned a little about earning respect.
My dad was a bit older than some of my friends' parents were. My dad was born in 1946, and his parents were older when they had him - they were born in 1904 and 1905. My dad was raised by an extremely old fashioned, French Canadian woman. And my dad was the baby of the family. I think it's safe to say my dad was catered to growing up.
My dad held a lot of very traditi…

Where It All Began

I recently started sharing my poetry on social media. This is something I have long resisted for several reasons, one of which is the very prosaic reality of plagiarism and the fear of having my work stolen. Beyond that, I have a deep sense of "impostor syndrome." Regardless of the fact that I started writing poetry over 25 years ago, and that I have written nearly 700 poems, and that I am well educated in the sphere of classical poetry, I feel that I do not belong. In a world where modern poetry can be dark and disjointed, mine is often light and hopeful. It is a ridiculous feeling to feel like a fraud in a community where I should be viewed as competent but I have always shied away from calling myself a poet.

However, I want to share where it all began, something maybe most people don't know. When I was ten years old, my mom gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables. To this point, I was not much of a reader. I have a mild form of dyslexia which made reading tedious for me…

I'm Not Anti-Mask, I Am Anti-Government

We are going to have to make some assumptions regarding my next statements because I am not sure anyone knows what is valid or true, or to what extent, when it comes to the COVID-19 virus.
Presumably, this virus is transmitted through droplets, like many viruses, and can enter the body through the nose, mouth, eyes, etc. It is possible that it exists on surfaces, but evidence varies on for how long. Exposure to these droplets or contaminated surfaces could cause infection, leading to illness from the virus.
Hence, many cities, counties and states are requiring people to wear a mask while in public places. In Texas, in all counties with more than 20 confirmed cases, people are required to wear a mask.
The efficacy of masks is debated but here is the common understanding. My mask protects you, your mask protects me. If I am unmasked, and you are masked, and I walk past you and sneeze, those droplets then can enter your body - even if the mask is 100% effective - through your eyes or ears, …

Statues

As we witness change within this country, I am mystified (and a little horrified) by furies erupting over what to me are not huge matters. If we are going to be a country where all people are seen as equal under the law, some of the changes seem to me to be very pragmatic.
I would say that if Colorado State University (where I achieved both my bachelor's and master's degrees) decided to put up a statue in my likeness, I would see this as a great honor. A celebration of my life's achievements.
We now have scenarios around the country where statues of Confederate heroes are coming down. And we have many people very upset about this. I can only view this through my own lens but let's imagine a different scenario for a moment:
Imagine you are a Jew. And imagine everyday you must attend a school or a courthouse or a public square and erected there is a statue of Hitler. A man who desired your extinction. How would you feel?
So some may argue, "but the Civil War was not onl…

Learning to Rest

Learning to rest. I think this is a valuable lesson to learn no matter what your pursuit. This benefited while getting my degrees, during my career, in fitness - in really anything I have done that required intense perseverance.
For me, a perfectionist in many ways, I struggled with this for a time. I can pursue a goal relentlessly to the point where I chase that perfect momentum and refuse to break. This is a recipe for burnout.
A perfect example for me was being in grad school when my dad passed away. He died on December 26th and I was due to start my next class on January 9th. I found I did not have the focus or the energy by then to pick right back up. So I took 8 weeks off and then went back. When I resumed classes, I felt energized and a lot more confident that I could manage the pace.
I did have a little trepidation that a break would lead to me just quitting altogether, but that didn't happen. I got my rest, and then returned to my goals with renewed vigor and was able to pus…

Responsible For What is Mine

People seem to live life like everything is the Superbowl. There are two teams and for better or worse, you pick a side. We just saw this with the COVID situation. Half my social media was full of people saying it was a joke, don't be fooled by this hoax, and if you wear a mask you're a sheep and a fool. The other half were people truly scared for their health and saying things like, "I hope you like your pedicure, it'll look great in your casket" - almost as if they hoped everyone who went out of their homes would become ill.
Most issues are more complex than this. Why can we not be both concerned about our health AND our freedoms being revoked? Why can I not social distance AND enjoy my life?
It is now the same with the fallout of the George Floyd situation. And I have deliberated and prayed hard about the position that I take and the words that I will choose when I speak and write about this because it is such a serious, delicate and complex issue.
I support any …

What the World Needs Now is Love

I hate to seem cheesy and steal the line from the song, but it's true: what the world needs now is love.
Like millions, I was disgusted and heartbroken this week to see the senseless killing of George Floyd. In fact, images of the act leave me feeling completely sick to my stomach every time I think of it.
I'm not just sick because it's cop on civilian violence. I am not just sick because it's racial violence. I am sick because that any human can do this to someone - and others watch without interfering! - is just a heartbreaking representation of humanity. There is no humanity in it.
This violence then just led to further violence and unhelpful behavior and so the cycle continues.
But then I went on social media and saw my friend Lisa had shared a fundraiser for her local non-profit organization, and I saw the good that is being done to help others, and it just struck me as so beautiful.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do t…

But She Was So Young!

I refer back, as always, to an episode of Frasier where due to a mix up at the hospital, it is briefly reported that he has died. Frasier is in shock as he sees his death reported on the news. It causes him to reflect on all of the things he has never done in his life, and people begin reminding him that not only is he not dead, he is still so young and can achieve all his goals still.
I was chatting with my sister this weekend about my upcoming birthday - I turn 37 next week. I said it is hard to believe I am 37 when in fact I feel about 15 most of the time (minus the arthritis and acid reflux!). She mentioned Marilyn Monroe and I said, "Wow, I will be older than she ever was."
My sister's response was, "In that case, you've had such a short life!"
That is how we talk about Marilyn Monroe and others like her that pass away far too young. We always say, "Oh no, she was so young!" So much life left, so much left undone.
I feel like I am getting to the …

Sleep as a Discipline

When it comes to health and wellness I think sleep is highly underrated. Not just for physical wellness but almost even more so for mental health. When I hear people say things like, "Oh, I can totally function on only four hours of sleep" I roll my eyes exactly the same as the idiots who say, "Oh, no I totally drive better when I am drunk."

Why is sleep important? Well, I am not a medical expert but the clinical studies exist that demonstrate that sleep is important for memory and productivity, fitness and athletic recovery, managing appetite, improving social and emotional intelligence, reducing diseases associated with inflammation, improving mental health and decreasing the risk of depression - and the list could go on.

My mission here is not to convince you that sleep is important because hopefully you already recognize that it is. I am here to share some tips on becoming a disciplined sleeper so that you can reap the benefits of a healthy sleep routine.

The m…

Being Real With Mom

As it is Mother's Day, I am reminded of a funny Frasier moment (of course!) where Frasier walks in on Roz while she talks to her mother on the phone. She is candidly discussing her sex life and then as she hangs up she says, "okay, bye Mom!" Frasier is shocked that Roz would be so candid with her mother, and then turns jealous when he realizes his relationship with his father lacks that same authenticity and openness.

I am grateful that I have a candid relationship with my mom. Not long ago, someone responded in surprise when they realized my mom follows me on Instagram and can see all my posts (which implies they are more shocking than they are!). Of course my mom can see my posts. She's a grown woman, and not only that but a hippie from way back. Pretty sure I cannot shock her!

But truthfully, it's ridiculous to feel like I need to make my mom think I am some perfect, angelic kid like I tried to do when I was twelve. I am almost thirty-seven years old. I hope I…

Re-Entering Society

This week, the Governor of Texas (along with many other states) announced that they will honor the April 30th expiration of last month's "stay-at-home" order - permitting certain businesses to begin reopening with the hope that through several phases, life will return to normal.

As a libertarian, this pleases me. It alarms me the vast overreach the government so easily presumed to take during this crisis. It alarms me how easily Americans handed over their rights. It alarms me how many so-called freedom loving people found ways to justify the government over reach.

As a concerned citizen, I do worry about the health and well-being of myself, my family and everyone else. I read that in Dallas County yesterday's death count included a teenager. That is sad and scary. There is certainly a dangerous component to this virus where even young people are at risk.

But people throw around statistics to validate their side of the story. Those fear mongering throw around huge nu…

One More For The Road

I thought given the fact that I just finished my 6th (holy crap, seriously, 6th?!) week of isolation, I needed to write about something a little lighter!

I met my first boyfriend at a skating rink where I used to figure skate poorly and play hockey a little bit better (I was a goalie, less skating is required!). I was young and he was a little bit older. I knew him for a full year before we started "flirting" - such as it is when you are young - and I remember when I first met him thinking how cute he was with his blonde hair that curled just a bit over his forehead. And yet years later when we parted ways, looking back, somehow all of it seems less cute to me!

I don't think back on him with wistfulness or any regrets but rather with a very thankful heart that my first foray into the romantic was with such a kind, respectful and sweet person. There is no doubt, my first boyfriend set the tone for future men in my life, and set an expectation for me that men would be kind…

Something to Look Forward To

The saying goes that the secret to being happy is having something to do, something to look forward to and someone to love. While simplistic, I find this mostly to be true for me as when I am occupied my hands and my mind keep from being idle. And it's true that loving someone is the greatest pleasure you can have. But lately, it's that last one that we struggle with, as everything in the world seems put on hold right now.

I almost regret that I will never have grandchildren, so that in years to come I could sit with them and tell them about the Great Quarantine of 2020 - when somehow in a synchronized effort, everyone everywhere agreed we need to all stay home. Where we couldn't even get a haircut, couldn't see our family members, and where the store shelves remained bare of many essentials. Where we looked in curiosity and disgust at those going out without masks in the more affected areas. Even writing this, it blows my mind that this is the situation.

But as I sit …

Quarantine Reflections: Did I Already Have This?

I am living that quarantine life with the rest of most North Americans right now, watching from my window as spring descends upon us and the government is closing down all of the city parks. But as we now see the stories of the people coming out the other side of this dreaded corona virus, I think back to a funny story from February.

It was right before Valentine's Day. I was in a Verizon store with my husband getting us new phones as my commission check had just come in and I had been so excited to upgrade to a Samsung Note 10+ (which, by the way, is awesome).

It was a cold day and I distinctly remember regretting that I had to wear a jacket because, as I said to my husband, "under this big jacket you cannot see the definition in my arms." I had been working out hard and seeing progress.

But while we were waiting for the Verizon guy to go retrieve our phone cases from the back I looked at my husband very seriously and said, "I haven't been totally honest with y…

Coping in Quarantine

By now nearly all of us are experiencing some level of restriction in our lives due to the corona virus. Some states are recommending people stay at home as much as possible, whereas others have very strict rules in place about going out in public. Here in north Texas, our "shelter in place" restrictions have been extended until May 20th. That was hard news to hear.

However, this is the situation and I can get frustrated or I can choose to find ways to make this manageable for me, not only so I don't lose my mind but so these 2+ months of my life are not wasted. I don't want to zone out in front of the TV for the duration of this and come out with nothing to show for it.

So, I wanted to share some of the things I am doing to ensure that my life in quarantine is as meaningful as possible.

The first thing is that I am waking up to work at a normal time for me, which is between 5 and 6am. I wake up, have my breakfast, wash and dry my hair and style it and while I don…

Shelter in Place

It is weird being told to stay home.

Even though I am an introvert with a work from home job who enjoys time alone, being told to stay home weighs on me heavily. My gym is closed so I cannot go there. Almost all recreation is shut down. They are discouraging people even from going to the park for exercise if "social distancing" cannot be maintained.

I joked that once this is all over, I am going to become an extrovert. I believe I will have achieved all of the isolation I can take for one life and I can consider my introverted side completely fulfilled!

My personal feelings about this aside (and not just including the virus itself but also the implications to our freedoms and to the economy), I have made some interesting observations about people and society in watching this unfold.

First, the number of people - and in some cases so eloquently expressed - about how maybe this can be a really good thing for us. Learning to slow down, appreciate each other, be charitable, spen…

The Impact of Those Who Encourage Others Without Reservation

I would not be where I am in my career without my mother. No other person has invested themselves into my success the way that she has. Her encouragement, feedback, tough love, pep talks and faith in my abilities has absolutely gotten me where I am today. For everything I have achieved she deserves a little of that credit.

(I'd add here that my mother's general influence on my life has been significant. She is an amazing leader, a workhorse, a powerhouse of energy, a beacon of integrity, and has set a tremendous example for me in so many ways by just watching her. However, she personal investment in my career as an encouraging force has only added to all of the above.)

I would not have achieved what I did in my academic endeavors without that teacher from my old high school in Edmonton. She took me aside and took a personal interest in me and told me not only that she could help me overcome my struggles in math but turn me into a confident student. She invested time and encour…

The Day I Changed My Attitude

Back when I was twenty-two years old, I was going through a tough time.

I was at that time truthfully an illegal resident of this country. My visa had expired and I had no pretext for extending it. Because of this, I was permitted neither to work nor finish my degree. I was engaged to my husband who I saw only once every six weeks and spoke to sometimes for less than thirty minutes a day. I was doing every odd job imaginable to make ends meet from cleaning homes and businesses, to nannying children to pet sitting and taking care of the elderly. Seven days a week, I never took a break, I had no option but to take every opportunity that came along.

And not all of those opportunities were pleasant. Once, as a housekeeper, I cleaned human shit out of the shower and picked up used tampons off the floor. I well know the lack of disrespect people have for the cleaning lady! I've completely gutted out the houses of people who had died or needed to move, organized estate sales, painted hou…

How I Define Success in My Life

I've written before about the "great adventure" of my childhood, where my parents quit their jobs, rented out the house and bought a second hand motor home and for eighteen months we traveled extensively throughout North America. I was four years old when we left and turned six just after we arrived back home in Canada.

During this impressionable time of my life, when many other kids are in pre-K and kindergarten, I was living a wild gypsy adventure. I remember chasing the waves in Oregon with my dad at night. I remember the Arizona sunsets. I learned to ride my first bike alongside the Rio Grande river in Texas. And yes, my parents were teaching me the fundamentals of education, I was learning to read, but I was learning so much more than that.

Even now, over thirty years later, I am left with a lesson from that experience in my life that will always stick with me and that is that success and happiness look different to everyone.

It's easy to look at society and thi…

Twenty Years Ago Today...

Every love story starts somewhere, some particular moment in time when a decision is made or an event occurs that determines the course of life. For my husband and I, that moment happened twenty years ago today.
I almost wouldn't have marked the day. I had been sitting in my high school computer lab and sent an email, and he replied. It all started with my sister, who had been teasing me with pen pal ads of guys all over Texas that were a total mismatch for me but then she sent my husband's and said, "no, seriously, this guy is perfect for you."
And a series of email exchanges turned into friendship, and then infatuation and then in love, and now, twenty years later, thirteen years of marriage under our belts.
Some weeks after our first email exchange I noted his name into my diary and that is when I mentioned the date, that "on March 6, 2000" I had started emailing this really nice guy. That is the only reason I know the date.
Over the upcoming months, it …

My Second Hand Clothing Secret

Twice in the last two weeks I have somehow ended up in conversations with Uber drivers about how I buy all my clothes second hand. Sometimes new with tags, but at steeply discounted prices. This has been a huge cost savings to me while permitting me to have seriously one of the largest personal wardrobes you can imagine (I could wear a different outfit everyday for a year...at least!).

I buy almost all of my clothes on eBay. Anything that is "safe" to buy and wash second hand I try to find used rather than pay retail price. My favorite eBay buy are sheath dresses for work. I have tons of them (no less than 40) and I paid a fraction of retail.

Almost all of my workout clothes, brand names like Under Armour leggings and Victoria's Secret sports bras, many in absolutely brand new condition, bought second hand and for much less the cost.

Jeans - every single pair of jeans I own I bought second hand. I am hard on jeans (on the rare occasion that I wear them), and I hate spend…

Why Do You Want to be So Strong?

I have been asked this question a lot recently in regards to my fitness goals/strength training: why do you want to be so strong?

To be honest, the first time it was asked I thought it was such a poor question that I struggled even to answer. What do you mean why? Why wouldn't I? Then I realized my response was as weak as the question, and didn't illustrate anything about my purpose or my passion. So instead I said:

I want to be as strong on the outside as I am on the inside.

That is empowering to me. I have accomplished difficult things and endured difficult things through much the same process as I have with weight lifting - perseverance, patience, consistency and discipline. From coping with grief to getting a masters degree to publishing a book, I have used these qualities to build strength to accomplish and overcome.

I know that I am someone people call on when they have a crisis or urgent need because I am capable, poised and competent. I am strong, on the inside.

I want…

Gymtimidation

I feel sort of vulnerable writing about this. I don't have a ton of insecurities, and I focus on overcoming my insecurities, especially the ones that are just inside my head. However, I have had people make comments recently and over the years on this topic.

People say, "I am scared to go to the gym." Some are scared because they are overweight and afraid of being judged. Some are scared because they don't know how to use equipment or what to do. Some are scared people will speak to them. Some are scared people will not speak to them. The reasons are pretty diverse.

My answer is pretty much consistent: no one is going to get on your case or judge you at the gym, and if they do, they are the one with the issue. Don't let it stop you from doing what you want.

However, my response is somewhat rooted in my own personal current and ongoing sense of gymtimidation. Yes, I have had gym memberships for most of the last 18 years. I have been to hundreds, maybe over a thous…

Attracting The Types of People You're Attracted To!

Now that I am the nearing middle aged married woman of so many years (please insert a laugh in your mind at this point, because I am certain no one sees me this way), I have friends confide in me what they are looking for in a mate themselves. Men and women both, I am the safe, conversational, direct married matron who holds nothing back!

I am laughing again, by the way.

My mom, who has now been widowed several years and is available, has said the men she encounters are similar to the ones who ask me for advice.

Invariably, these men are all looking for similar things in women: fit, attractive, strong work ethic, independent, kind and driven.

And women, what do they want? Pretty much something similar. There are always variables. But no one ever says, "I want a mediocre, somewhat lazy, unhealthy and unfit person who is desperate and has nothing interesting to say." Seriously.

And then I take a deep breath, try to refrain from lifting and eyebrow and I say, "and what do …

Fitness as a Whole

I was thinking recently, as everyone is perusing their New Year's Resolutions, about how fitness needs to be more than just what we do in the gym.

According to Oxford's definition, fitness encompasses the word health. I do not believe fitness is just summed up in our gym performance.

I do believe physical exercise is extremely important, of course. Our bodies are meant to be moving. I think walking, just moderate paced, medium length walks are so beneficial. I always feel better somehow if I can sneak in a few miles for a walk during the day.

But there are other important factors - equally or more important - to our fitness than just what we do in the gym. Call it health, wellness, fitness or self-care, when we approach a healthy lifestyle we need to consider the following as well:

Nutrition
Eating a healthy diet is probably more impactful than anything in regards to our health, especially in terms of achieving and maintaining health weight and body composition. Weight loss can…

Math is Beautiful

One of my favorite movies is The Imitation Game - a  somewhat fictionalized drama based on the true story of mathematician Alan Turing during WWII. It is a fascinating story, very intense and very sad, and for a movie about a group of nerdy mathematicians, it was very exciting. It delves into the earlier days of modern computing - and demonstrates how amazing math is!

Many of you know already about my high school math struggles and about the amazing teacher who changed my life in the most incredible way. If you don't, please give this woman her credit by reading this story because her commitment to me is worth sharing.

Needless to say, that woman changed me possibly in one of the most meaningful ways I have ever been changed. If I can make that impact on one person in my life, I will be so pleased.

So I know better than most what it is to look at math in two ways. First, to see it as a mystery, a nuisance, a waste of time, a personal Waterloo. But then to realize it's beauty a…