52 Fridays…Who Lifts You Higher?

Friends, these Fridays seem to come faster every week! So, you know what time it is…

Take some time to get cozy this weekend with your journal and beverage. Take a few deep breaths and find your calm. Now think about those around you, your family and friends, and consider this…

Do they lift you? Do you lift them? Put some effort into taking a closer look at your relationships. Observe what you notice, then pause with gratitude for those you hold dear.

 

40 Bags in 40 Days

Friends, I completed the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge last year with great success. What is it, you may ask? Today marks the beginning of Lent, and in observance of those 40 days of preparation, I’m choosing to spend a few minutes each day from now until Easter filling a daily garbage or grocery bag with items from around the house…those things that sit, unused. Here’s my bag from today…

It was quick and simple to do, as I’d already set some things aside to donate before even considering that I ought to participate in this challenge once again. Today’s bag holds a sweatshirt, 3 dress shirts, a couple tshirts, a sweater, two workout tops, 2 sets of patio glasswear, a set of formal dining napkins, a toy I made a while back, a few books, a skein of yarn and a few unmentionable odds and ends.

Friends, I didn’t even scratch the surface! But I remember what great progress I made on last year’s clutter and know it will happen again. And that’s a very good thing, because we recently found out a family member will be moving in with us this summer while she completes her college internship throughout the next school year. This is the perfect opportunity for me to let it all go in preparation!

I intend to take this challenge a step further, just as I did last year. Upon filling a bag each day, I will then drive it to Goodwill on my way to my gym just down the street…see where I’m going with this…can you say ACCOUNTABILITY?!?

I remember noticing throughout last year’s challenge how things began to feel lighter, airier. And, what a great way to get a jump on spring cleaning because even though I just returned from Florida yesterday…I have cabin fever lol!

Friends, feel free to join me in this gradual purge of stuff; decluttering is quite cathartic! And one more way to put our Best Foot Forward. With 39 bags left to go, I’m off to get a jump on that next one!

 

52 Fridays…Wherever You Go…

Happy 52 Fridays, Friends! Grab that journal, your pen and a cup of coziness! This week’s journaling adventure finds me here, in the beauty and warmth of Florida…

It’s easy to just be in a place this soulful. And that really got me thinking about the locations and life circumstances where it’s not quite as simple. This is something I’m doing some work with in my own life and thought it might speak to others too. So consider how you deal in every situation…

Take these wise words from Confucius…try them on for size. Turn them over in your mind and heart and explore within…is this how you roll? If not, is it how you want to? Turn to a fresh page in that journal of yours and enter the adventure of you.

 

Boobs, If You Love Them, Check Them!

Friends, I’m traveling to Jacksonville, Florida this evening on a mission…

Two years ago this weekend, I came together with some childhood friends to participate in a half marathon among other things. It was a great opportunity to catch up with one another and we had plenty of time to do that because we walked every last step of that 13.1 miles together.

This was a great event right there on the streets along beautiful Jacksonville Beach. The weekend was created in 2008 by a three-time breast cancer survivor, Donna. It has become the wildly popular and successful annual Donna Marathon Weekend to FINISH breast cancer.

Back in 2016, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really there to support breast cancer, I was there to share a good time with friends…

As we worked our way along the course, there was a party on every corner! There were lots of posters with boobie humor, and many spectators came dressed for the occasion…like this boob-loving ape!

It was easy for someone like me who was not personally touched by breast cancer to miss the point; I simply viewed the finish line as a fun accomplishment…

But for some reason, my attitude changed. As I looked through the photos from that weekend, they spoke to me…especially the one with the ape. It suddenly occurred to me, I was LONG overdue for a mammogram. And I’m sure glad it did, because as soon as I returned from Jacksonville, I scheduled an appointment.

When one mammogram became another, then an ultrasound, and a biopsy, I slowly began to gain a wider understanding of what that weekend was all about. I was really lucky, though, Friends, my biopsy came back benign. But because the tumor was precancerous, my team wanted that thing out…and that’s when it started getting very real for me. A lumpectomy was my next hurdle.

I’d been working with a health coach prior to (and during) all of this, and I was in a really good place. Rather than fearing the worst throughout the process, I kept my thoughts in check. I kept reassuring myself, and everyone worried for me, that this was nothing until it was something. And at that point, it was still nothing.

Again, Friends, I was very lucky. Blessed, rather. My post-op pathology also came back clean. AMEN!

You’d better believe I made my annual appointment the very moment I could for the following year, where something else turned up, but was much less than last year.

This was all fresh on my mind as I decided to do Donna’s half again this year, as I registered for the event months back, and as I packed this morning. So much so, I called radiology to schedule my appointment for this year before I left for the airport. I’m not due to go back until May, but you’d better believe I will be there and every year from now on!

I look forward to this weekend. I’ve learned my lesson and I know this half will be less about the laughs and ALL about the gratitude!

 

52 Fridays…Exist or Live?

It’s already here again, Friends; Happy Friday! Reserve a few quiet moments for yourself, grab that journal, get cozy and let’s reflect on 52 Fridays-Week 5!

Lately, when I observe myself doing something, I measure it against our quote for this week. In doing so, I know if that action/behavior serves me or not.

Take some time to really look at your current life. If you find yourself merely existing, is that all you hope for? What would it take for you to live? I mean wholeheartedly, deliberately living on and with purpose?

Or maybe you are already living but still desire more?

Let the thoughts and ideas come and simply allow them to pour across your page. You might be surprised by what emerges. Study it. Try it on for size. How does it feel? Is it what you want?

Friends, it all boils down to this…do we want to take life as it comes or go forth with intention?

February Focus…Show Yourself Some Love

Happy February, Friends! It’s a new month, one which places a pretty heavy emphasis on LOVE! It can be so easy to love others far more than we love ourselves.

Well, I’m ready for a new focus; how about you? I chose to work on something I haven’t always been very good at…self-love! Or, in other words, self-care.

In the years leading up to my weight loss, I didn’t often put much thought or effort into my own preventative health or wellbeing, and a direct result was misery.

Fast forward to today…I am so stinking happy these days! Know why? I feel fantastic because I take great care of my body. It feels incredible to be healthy! How’s that for transformation?

Friends, let’s spend February examining what our bodies need. What check-ups or exams are you due (or overdue) for? Let’s take the next 28 days to get things scheduled and happening! Of course, while we’re at it, if you are responsible for loved ones, get them up-to-date too!

Have you gotten your flu shot yet this year? Yes, it’s late in the season, but if you have not done this yet, what are you waiting for? The flu is a SCARY BEAST this year and getting vaccinated not only protects you, but many others as well!

I’ll admit, I’ve been the biggest procrastinator when it comes to my vision appointments, but I came to a simple no-brainer this year when my eyes gave me some issues…eyes are a gift! And just like anything else, without proper care, I could lose that gift…in, well, the blink of an eye! I got myself there this week so I can mark that off my list too!

I don’t have a fun picture to share regarding teeth, but when’s the last time you’ve seen your dentist? Teeth are another one of those gifts, and I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to chew my food for the rest of my life! That’s why I get in for a visit every six months. That, and my biannual visits with my dental hygienist are some of the best therapy sessions of the year! See you in July, Wendy!

And let’s not forget annual physicals. Are you proactive about yearly exams? Or are you one that waits until you have symptoms to be seen? And if you are regularly seen, do you actually follow your doctor’s advice? To fully benefit from these exams, arrive with a list of questions/concerns. Be honest and open with your physician…tell him/her what’s going on. Don’t be embarrassed, be frank about anything you are dealing with.

In the past, I put off routine mammograms and that came back to bite me far worse than that machine ever could. Procrastination can lead down a scary path I’m not willing to hike again, believe me! Ladies, I can’t say this enough…if you are 40 or older and don’t already, get that mammogram appointment on your calendars!

If money is a factor holding you back from preventative care, look into community resources that are in place to help. Many areas have free or a sliding fee scale to help make health care affordable. So get in there for these important appointments…no excuses. YOU are WORTH IT!!!

These above are merely some basic, mindful ways to embrace health. Dive deeper if you find relief through therapy, health coaching, massage, acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic treatment, etc. And NEVER underestimate the benefits of proper nutrition and physical activity!

Yesterday, I took time to do something I’ve found paramount in the past for optimal performance. I visited Joan, my phycial therapist for a current foot/shoe assessment. Many places will do this consult FREE, just call and ask! A properly fitting/performing shoe can make a world of difference! How’s that for taking a step in the right direction?!?

Let’s spend some time this month thinking about what preventative ways we can care for ourselves. Make those appointments, Friends. Show yourselves the LOVE! It’s one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Stronger Than Ever!

Friends, I began my day the same way I always do. I reached for my very broken-in copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I’ve read this daily bit of encouragement for many years now. It’s uncanny just how closely each excerpt resembles what I encounter throughout any given day…the perfect dosage of exactly what I need! Some days are downright intense with resonance and realization. Today’s entry was an extreme example; one I was not expecting! It was Jesus telling me he is my strength and my shield, not to wonder what is on the road ahead, or waste energy worrying…when I’m afraid, I should remember he is my shield. And the big kicker…”My Presence watches over you continually, protecting you from both known and unknown dangers.”

The strong reverberation echoed clear to my soul; I remembered why this passage struck me so. Today is an odd anniversary for me. Four years ago tonight, that protection was perfectly demonstrated…

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while recall how Eric and I got up close and personal with a pickup truck, and you might remember the evidence of some heavenly protection buffering the impact…

If you missed this part of my journey, you can catch up with a post from 2016 and 2017 that demonstrate how my healing has ventured far beyond the physical!

I’ve made some great progress in how I remember January 31, 2014. I know I must have read the same Jesus Calling passage that morning, I just never expected to be on the receiving end of such immense protection that evening. As I read it again this morning, I understand more and more what that night was all about. My perspective has continued to shift from the challenges and struggles that night imparted toward what profound gifts were bestowed…blessings of survival, gratitude, a fresh new journey toward more strength than I ever thought I could embody, a deep appreciation for a good samaritan and rockstar paramedics (my son will officially be one in May). Yeah, thinking about it now hits me straight in the feels all over again!

Another gift I’ve been granted from that evening is the return visit of chronic pain each time the clouds bring forth a new storm. I can seriously forecast the weather with it! I no longer associate this pain with self-pity; my fresher perspective reminds me that pain is proof that I’m still here and I have important work to do!

Friends, if you are struggling with something tough right now, I’m really sorry! But I encourage you to look at what the bigger picture is telling you. Can you adopt a wider, more positive perspective on what is actually going on?

I keep coming back to this quote I swiped off Facebook. I was not ready to understand its truth the first weeks, months, years following that night of trauma, but it makes perfect sense to me now.

Thanks for having our backs and helping me be prove this true, JC!

 

10 Ways to Win Your Week

Friends, I spent some time looking at the week before me…it’s a busy one. But I’m looking ahead for very good reason; I’m setting an intention, right now (as always), to be mindful of my time in order to win my week. Because when I do, I feel like this…

See, if I don’t gaze forward in awareness of upcoming events and possible triggers, the week will likely have its way with me, leaving unwanted consequences in its trail. By taking a peek at my upcoming week and making a plan of attack, I’ve already decided to win my week. Here are 10 ways I plan to do just that…

1. Set yourself up for success in the kitchen. If that means running to the store today, do it! Ensure that you have plentiful healthy food options that are ready for those on-the-go times throughout the week when you’d ordinarily make less than stellar choices. Keep some snacks handy throughout your day so you don’t even have to think…just refuel. If you want to take it a step further, purge all the junk that’s lurking in your cupboards!

2. Schedule your workouts. Look at your planner and place your workouts within. You will be far more likely to follow through if you’ve already made a plan of action. I promise!

3.  Invite company to the fun. If you’ve decided to try a new class, take a break or lunchtime walk, attempt a new hike or adventure, or are just doing the same-old same-old take a friend along. It will feel less like a chore and more like a party with a family member, co-worker or bestie. Better yet, this person may turn out to be the best darn accountability buddy you’ve ever had.

4. Hydrate! Even though it’s winter and you may feel like you need it less…drink that water! Shoot for the recommended 64 ounces per day.

5. Make sleep a priority. Sometimes we have to get protective of our time to accomplish this, but you are worth it! Sleep goes way beyond just feeling rested…there are all kinds of important benefits/restoration a good night’s sleep provides your body. And did you know, the National Sleep Foundation recommends adults between 18-64 years of age get 7-9 hours of sleep per night? Work on it!

6. Do what you love! Carve out a bit of time each day doing something you love. Whether that’s reading, crafting, gardening, playing a game, catching the latest episode of your inspiring podcast or simply meditating…do it!

7. Plan something to look forward to. Whether it’s setting a goal, registering for an event or planning a datenight, getaway or trip, put something on the calendar and make it happen. Without something to work toward, train for or eagerly await, we can feel stuck simply going through life’s daily motions.

8. Defend your time. Are you one of those people that says yes to all those extra commitments, only to find yourself feeling bogged down, trapped and overwhelmed? The magic word here is NO! Use it, mean it and don’t forget saying no to other people means saying yes to your wellbeing.

9. Don’t forget self care! This is also known as me-time. It is not selfish to do something kind for yourself, it’s necessary. Take time for a calming massage, soothing bath, facial, pedicure or nap. Take care of you! I challenge you to take it a step further and put ME-DAY on your calendar for an entire day each month and treat yo self. You will be amazed at how this enhances the rest of your month!

10. Look at the bright side. It’s there, within every situation, so look for and find the bright side in everything rather than dwelling on the negative. It might be tough at first, but you will find that silver lining if you take the opportunity to look. This is a most meaningful step toward a lifetime rich in gratitude.

This may seem like a lot to juggle, but the good news is it’s not rocket science. Start small in embracing these 10 practices; soon they will become second nature. Friends, have a great week and reach for the WIN!

52 Fridays…Get The Weight Off Your Shoulders

Happy Friday, Friends! It’s that time once again…

Grab your journal, pen, calming beverage, (maybe fuzzy socks?!?) and ease into that comfy chair.

Today I’m exploring all that stuff I still carry around. That baggage that weighs us down. Do you know what it is for you? It makes not only climbing, but mere moving a difficult chore. Is this any way to go through life?

Put a name to each of these weights. Take a deep breath in as you read one at a time. And with each exhale, one by one, LET. THEM. GO!

It may be far easier said than done; I know, I’d been carrying the weight of the world on my tired shoulders for years, but the sooner we release that heaviness, the quicker we can begin a pretty phenomenal ascent up toward a lighter, happier life.

Spend some time with this today, tomorrow, this weekend. Find those things you can breathe into, to see if you can let something go.

Our 52 Fridays quote really says it all…

Let’s all find a way to just climb.

The New Year So Far…

We are already into the fourth week of January, Friends! Did you make any resolutions this year? Set any intentions? A goal or two? If so, how’s it going?

Did you know that by the end of January, roughly 58% of resolutioners have already quit? Aware of this statistic, I chose to do something different this year. Instead of resolving to change myself in some way, I took a whole new approach. I began with what I already know about myself…

I’m sick and tired of numbers…the one on the scale, all those I add up as I tally calories throughout the day, those associated with how many minutes of activity I accrue, the total calories burned, total steps taken within a day, mileage distances of workouts, my heart rate, yada, yada, yada. Often, I get so wrapped up in the numbers of it all, I forget to enjoy what’s really going on.

I also know when I rely on only a few modes of activity to accomplish my weekly fitness needs, the same old foods to nourish my body, my adult activity/food ADHD has me so bored I’m about ready to quit.

But I’m no quitter!

So I set an intention this year to look less at the numbers and more mindfully at the heart of what I’m doing. Simply stated, I’m changing things up, trying new things…LOTS of new things. Here’s what January looked like in that respect.

I stopped talking about all the recipes I’ve been meaning to try, and started actually trying them. Like this Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili recipe from skinnytaste. Even the leftovers were the bomb!

My husband and I enjoyed that one so much we decided to take another of skinnytaste’s recipes one step further…we spent datenight in…a glass of wine while preparing this…

Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers…another skinnytaste hit! Add a salad, some candlelight and the rest of the wine and it resulted in one of my favorite dates ever!

I’ve been using Great Lakes Gelatin products in my coffee for months to promote joint support and mobility. I thought I’d take it a fun step further by experimenting with a tried and true recipe…my cranberry baked oatmeal has new-added benefits!

This try new things intention was certainly not limited to the kitchen. There are still many classes and activities I have yet to try that have been speaking to me for quite some time. It seems all I had to do was keep my eyes open for signs. I followed one to this blacklight ride at my gym.

With such a change of atmosphere, I forgot I was at the cycling studio; it felt like the party of the year in there! That got me thinking, what else have I been missing out on? Next, I found my way to a Cardio Jam class that had me stumbling all over myself, but got a sensational cardio burn. And while we’re talking about fire, I took a Pilates Mat Core class that kept my core ignited for days!

The more new I tried, the more I knew I was onto something! I continued to watch for signs and found myself registered for a session of intro classes on the Pilates Reformer. This has been a class I’ve been pretty intimidated to try for quite a while, so I figured it was time!

This past year I acquired a pair of cross country skis fresh from the universe (I love when that happens)! The conditions were perfect last week, so it was time…

And just the other day I spotted one more sign for a class I knew was meant for me. I mean, why wouldn’t I try blindfold yoga?

This phenomenal instructor reminded me I have a lifetime of lessons to catch up on if I’ll simply turn my gaze inward.

So there you have it, my first three weeks of January. Rather than preparing to ditch a resolution, I’m hot on the trail of continuing full steam ahead with an intention I LOVE…my sampler of sorts. I can’t wait to see what the months ahead manifest!

Friends, I hope you are making progress on your goals, intentions, and yes, even those resolutions. I’d love to hear about how it’s going! Leave a comment below if you’d be willing to share. Also, if you have any recommendations or suggestions of what you think I should try this year, drop those ideas below too! Remember, nearly nothing is too crazy!

Keeping it fresh, changing it up…another extraordinary way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!