Celebrating Questiversary

I can’t comprehend how it’s possible; it’s already been five years ago tonight that my epic team, The Aquanauts, won Cotopaxi’s Questival Las Vegas.

You can read all about our 24 hour adventure of a lifetime here. No other experience in my life provided 24 continuous hours of adventure, empowerment, teamwork, travel, enthusiasm, humor, adrenaline, urgency, determination, laughter, creativity, strategy, ingenuity, perseverance, positive energy and FUN! It was my first high-speed trek to San Diego and Tijuana hahaha!

Looking back, Questival was one of the craziest things I’ve done, but I’m nothing but grateful I said yes. This was the beginning of a string of events that bolstered my confidence in knowing I could do literally ANYTHING! It was an awakening, a knowing that I should listen to my heart and say yes to EVERYTHING I want to do before I wake up one day and realize it’s too late. It helped me realize if I can dream it, I can do it!

This picture is oh so precious to me. It was a moment my magical cousin and I knew so many great things were about to happen and Questival was just the beginning! So I wish my soul sister a very Happy Questiversary. I can’t wait to see what the next leg of our lifelong adventure holds as we both put our Best Foot Forward!

It’s All About the Climb

Friends, it feels like an eternity since my last blog post. Just before Christmas, I turned onto a new section of trail along my continuous journey toward wellness. Here’s the humbling photo depicting that starting point…is what it is.

It was a restart of the same holistic weight loss program I slayed back in 2012-13, so this re-entry was kind of like the 2.0 version…who knew that shortly it would become a more challenging master course? I’m older, more beat up and my horomones are vying for complete control, even more reason to hit reset, right? It was well past time to regain focus and I was so, so ready to ignite and set flame to this leg of my journey. See, I’m still dreaming and working toward a healthier me, but extenuating circumstances and that darn voice within immediatly started saying I’d never reach it. It all but extinguished my fire.

Mere days in, so many new struggles attempted to knock me down, that I began likening my situation to Miley Cyrus’ song “The Climb.” It was uncanny how aligned this road was becoming with that song!

I suddenly became support person for my brother that landed in the hospital with an appendix so outraged, they couldn’t remove it yet.

Every time I’ve been in that hospital, I’ve felt literally trapped. Time and energy are consumed in mass quantities and there’s nothing left but exhaustion. My big bro was discharged Christmas Eve night and that’s when the uphill battle really began for both of us.

I did all the little things I could to fit workouts and good nutrition between my everyday family stuff, work and my brother’s check-ins at the hospital. But as the song suggests, “always gonna be an uphill battle,” and this one felt like it was trying to knock me down. At this time, my mom was wintering solo in Arizona with unmistakable signs of dementia. I seriously felt lost with no direction…which way to turn? With my bro out of commission and no other siblings to share the load, it was clear to me at this point, I couldn’t allow this all to take me down…I had to keep on trying to find time for me. I kept my head held as high as I could even though I felt like crying my eyes out at most inopportune moments/places like the gym, work, social gatherings, etc.

I reminded myself I had to be strong and keep pushing on. But at the same time, I had to grant myself some major grace knowing sometimes, in my endeavors, I’m gonna have to lose. At the moment, it felt like my weight loss endeavors were smothered.

An upcoming short vacation I had planned, before all hell broke loose, had me questioning which way to turn. I didn’t want to lose this one. I had others I was responsible for to consider, and many people giving me opinions. In the end, I set all my ducks in a row, trusted my gut and decided that little getaway was what I needed most. And that afforded me some much needed time with my husband as well as a meetup with my faraway soul sister.

The respite was exactly what I needed to recharge so I could come back to everyone and everything stronger and ready to face whatever came next. And am I glad I did, because I got thrown right back in the hot seat, or plane seat to Arizona; it was time to bring my mom home so I could help her instead of just worry about what I couldn’t do for her from afar.

Knowing it was perhaps the last time I would be in the area, I had some unfinished business that seemed all too appropriate. Picacho Peak was a nearby mountain I had meant to hike/climb everytime I was down there, so it seemed to be now or never at this juncture of the sojourn. I felt like I had something to prove to myself. I did my homework to know this was going to be an uphill battle as in a difficult, strenuous metaphor for what was going on in my life.

Though parts of it were downright dangerous, I reminded myself it just wasn’t about how fast I got there. I was simply determined to tackle those chances I’m taking, the struggles I’m facing. Sadly, in my heart, I knew I was going to be climbing tougher, more terrifying challenges in the future with my mom’s declining health.

Though stretches of Hunter’s Trail/Picacho Peak were the hardest, sketchiest thing I’ve ever done, I know it doesn’t compare to what my heart will be going through in the near future, I just have to keep pushing on. I have to keep moving, climbing, and keep the faith as Miley urges.

At my own pace, in a body that’s proven its strength again and again, with plenty of what sustains me (water, fuel, faith)…well, I knew I could do it. And I stayed up there long enough to remind myself…there will always be another mountain that I’m always gonna wanna make move. And I should listen to those desires within because stretching myself, taking important time for me…these are going to be the game changers for my soul.

I figured as much effort as I put in, I needed a little reminder of what I had just accomplished…love that hat! I’ll be sure to wear it on days I need to dig extra deep. And with that, it was time to pack my mom’s things up and bring her home.

No sooner did I get her home and settled as best as I could in this frozen trundra, it was time for someone to finally get rid of an appendix!

Friends, if you’ve managed to read this far, know I appreciate you for listening. All of us are on this forward journey of life with our loved ones. We can be oh so grateful when life is calm and uneventful. But I invite you to take the inevitable struggles in stride, because it’s not about what’s waiting on the other side of these mountains. Just keep moving, keep climbing, (take care of yourself the best you can throughout) and keep the faith. These challenges with our loved ones, they are the moments we will remember most because it’s all about the climb!

Moving Toward a Greater Good

I know I’ve been really quiet lately, Friends; it’s that time of year for me, I guess. Readers who have been with me for a while know I’ve been struggling for the past six years coming to terms with my dad’s death. Each year as October rolls around, although another year has passed, I find myself feeling that same familiar sting.

 

Remember, I was very much Daddy’s little girl, his continuous shadow here on earth until his very last night.

I’ve been spinning my wheels…in a holding pattern unable to move forward for a while now. So, recently, I did some tough work with my health coach. It was sort of disguised as a weight loss sort of session, but this woman is so gifted at peeling away the layers, tearing clear down to the heart of the matter so effortlessly. I’ve been working with her for the past 5 1/2 years throughout my weight loss journey and beyond.

Much of my struggle keeps coming back to grief and loss. So we did some pretty intense work on it recently. I’m finally coming to terms with the belief that although I grieve for what I lost, I know that a greater good will follow.

Thankfully, my husband and I have been involved in a challenge Walktober through his employer’s wellness program. It is a simple step challenge from Oct 2-Nov 12. I’m grateful I had a goal for this time of year, something to calm my October inner storm. Here’s what happened with that…

I put out an all call for walking buddies and grabbed this bull of a challenge by the horns. Here’s a little proof of the consistency a goal/challenge can afford. I got the job done EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It really helped to have company, gave me someone to catch up with, someone else to think about. Because on the days I was alone, it felt a whole bunch more somber, like this…

So I continued turning over that notion of a greater good following this immense loss I’ve experienced. And I know that can mean a million different things. But something happened, something so unexpected, something far too coincidental to be random, which made that idea crystal clear in my mind.

On the anniversary of my dad’s death a few weeks back, one of my dearest friends lost her mom. And on the anniversary of my dad’s funeral, we came together in Omaha to celebrate her life. The morning of her funeral I took some time to continue work on my step challenge in a most profound way.  The reality of what happened began to sink in.

I was simply astonished. Leave it to God to do something so unique, so healing through someone else’s loss.

This friend has walked supportively beside me throughout my journey (even on this challenge!!!), and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to do the same while observing those tough dates together from now on. Something I think I may have needed but didn’t realize. A greater good?!? Well, maybe that’s not exactly what my health coach meant, but I can’t ignore a sign of this magnitude.

Just as in years past, as October turns to November and the focus shifts, the lump in my throat loosens, the tenseness melts away and I can breathe deeply once again.

I’m so glad I had a challenge to keep me moving forward. I have four more days to go…who wants to walk?

I must admit, with all those miles behind me, I can hardly wait to do anything other than walking!

 

Five Years of Climbing!

Fantastic feelings surrounded me when a fun little memory popped up in my Facebook feed this morning, a priceless reminder of what I embarked upon five years ago this week…

At a glance, I barely remember that lady. But when I pause to recall what it felt like to exist in that body, so many feelings flood back. I see that smile and know it was merely a facade. I was suffering within, physically, mentally, emotionally.

I think back to the continuous hard work and dedication necessary to be where I am today and don’t regret one single day of those five years it took to get healthy.

I liken my transformation to climbing a mountain. It was a giagantic undertaking, one which couldn’t be achieved quickly. Looking up, this task seemed unsurmountable from the trailhead. But, with clear goals, a keen sense of direction and a fire deep within, I put one foot in front of the other over and over again. I encountered many obstacles along the way, but did my best to navigate each of them with focus. I climbed.

Some moments I put forth more effort than others. Often times I gained a lot of ground, others I stumbled. Still others, I fell flat on my face. The true gift in this journey was grace. When the going got tough, I forgave. I picked myself up, brushed off the dirt and realigned my mind with my body and soul. I climbed on.

Sometimes I could see the top of that mountain clearly, others I couldn’t make it out at all. Thank goodness, I knew in my heart it was up there just waiting for me! So I continued climbing.

On the toughest of trials, I stopped to look down, to consider giving up, turning back. But I knew I’d never be happy if I quit…never forgive myself. So I kept climbing.

 My favorite part of the adventure was never being alone. So many wonderful people jumped in to join me for sections of the ascent, and that made ALL the difference.

Reaching the top was a precious gift of an extraordinary view. A fresh new awakening of immense affirmation. As I peered down to where it began, I remember those crushing feelings of heaviness within. Each step upward a bit lighter, a little easier until I reached that summit where I breathed deep, that fresh mountain air, and knew in my heart…I DID IT!

NSV…Look What I Can Finally Do!

I was eager for my training session today…hopeful to finally put weight on the bar for my press. I’ve only recently started pressing the naked 45 pound bar and today was the day to increase. I admit, when I saw how small the weights were, my first instinct was to be embarrassed at how pathetic it must have looked to the heavy lifters around me.

Shame on me for going that direction! It quickly dawned on me how significant this was; in that moment, my perspective shifted to gratitude.

Although there is just no flattering angle for today’s NSV…this non-scale victory is so important! I don’t know if you can even see those weights on that bar, but I am pressing 55 pounds. Today I am especially grateful for the ability to lift anything considering it has taken me three years (post car accident) to work up to this following broken ribs/sternum and the chiropractor putting shoulder, neck and collarbone stuff back where it all belongs. It feels downright awesome to be fully functional again. ALIVE!

Friends, have you struggled to finally achieve something you’ve been spinning your wheels to accomplish? Instead of beating yourself up about how long it has taken, grant yourself a moment of grace. Look back at barriers you’ve had to overcome in order to be where you are right now, then consider it a NSV to celebrate! A shift in perspective may be exactly what you need to embrace where you are right now; it’s just one more way to put your Best Foot Forward.

Nothing is Impossible

Friends, it’s very hard for me to believe what blessings this past year has brought my way. Exactly one year ago this morning, I was in Honolulu starting a marathon…A MARATHON! I admit, if you had told me two years ago I’d run one, I would have told you, “Impossible!”

I’d only just begun running the year before, and never imagined in a million years I would run 26.2 miles. In one day. For fun. Yet I found myself meeting up with Rhonda and Matt, complete strangers at that time, to do exactly that!

honolulu-start

Just a few short years before, this concept was impossible. Unthinkable! Because at 246 pounds, the first few miles would’ve surely induced cardiac arrest!

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But having lost the weight, adopted healthy eating habits, a love of fitness and a wellbeing in my soul, I allowed myself to think crazy thoughts. And when certain thoughts just couldn’t be ignored, I set goals. Little by little those goals became realized dreams I never even knew I had a few short years ago.

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It took everything I had to give that day, but I knew all along it was there.

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And when it was done, I was able to say what I never thought I could…I was a Marathoner!

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And better yet, with continued determination, the astounding generosity of others, despite injuries, health setbacks and mental blocks…these further impossibilities became realities:

  • Carlsbad Half Marathon, Carlsbad, CA (January)
  • Donna’s Half Marathon, Jacksonville, FL (February)
  • San Diego Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (March)
  • Beginner’s Luck Half Marathon, Henderson, NV (April)
  • La Jolla Half Marathon, La Jolla, CA (April)
  • Rockin’ Robin Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Med City Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon, Mammoth Lakes, CA (June)
  • Bubble Run 5K, Madison, WI (June)
  • Mini Iron Man, Many Point, MN (June)
  • MN Nuthouse 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (July)
  • RAGBRAI 420 miler, IA (July)
  • Ragnar Great River, WI/MN (August)
  • America’s Finest City Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (August)
  • Med City Fall Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (September)
  • Mankato Half Marathon, Mankato, MN (October)
  • Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, DC (October)
  • Rock’n’Roll 5K and Half Marathon, Las Vegas, NV (November)
  • Silver Lake Walk with Friends Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (December)

And to think it all started a year ago today; all of it seemingly impossible, yet…

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Friends, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to…ANYTHING! Believe in yourself, your hopes, dreams and ambitions. Set multiple short and long-term goals to get yourself there. Tell yourself I’M POSSIBLE and put your Best Foot Forward; there’s no telling where we can take ourselves if we remember NOTHING is impossible!