Stop the Scroll

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may see that I am a master at self-care. If I ever have an opportunity to wait for some thing, like an appointment, or my car to be serviced, or any time most people sit and scroll, I head off for a long walk to care for my mind, body and spirit. I didn’t used to be a practitioner of radical self-care, but it is a way of life for me now.

Have you ever noticed a waiting room and the head down, phone in hand, glued to the screen daze most people have? Sadly, so many people choose that versus a brisk walk with fresh air and sunflowers.

Stop the scroll. Move your body. Pay attention. Be grateful.

If you’re struggling with self-care and glued to your phone, I challenge you to put your phone down and go for a walk and pay attention to the real things that surround you like trees and birds and wildflowers and clouds. You might just find a clear mind and a better spirit. Plus, the benefit to your body of walking.

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Dedication and Release

Last fall I started to increase my daily steps from an average of 18,000 (ish) a day to above 20,000. By mid spring and early summer I was hitting more like 25,000 steps a DAY walking. Many days l topped 30,00 steps and sometimes that was multiple days in a row.

I sustained that number for nearly 10 months and I am realizing a couple things by walking that many steps per day.

1) it takes on average 2.5 hours a day of deliberate walking to sustain that amount. I love walking probably more than anyone but giving up over two hours a day of my work and family life to reach that goal has been a lot.

2) I feel the same whether I walk 15,000 steps or 23,000. My body literally feels the same. Is more always better?

3) I let several balls drop these last 10 months. Some of them needed to be dropped but others have felt the impact of me not having that extra hour to give. I try to work while I walk—listen to podcasts, plan lessons, write blogs posts but the truth is while I am excellent at multitasking, is multitasking excellent for me?

4) Other areas of my life have been left dry because of my lack of attention to them while I have focused on steps. Meal prep, social connection, down time to name a few. It’s basically really hard to work full time, commute hours at a time and still find 2-4 hours a day to walk two to four hours a day that and strength train multiple times a week.

I was planning to finish this year with the same tenacity but my heart is saying to let it go. My body has trimmed up and toned up. I am leaner than I have ever been in my adult life. But, it’s time to celebrate ten months of incredible dedication and now, stop. Breathe. Let it go. Release the grip. Walk when I want to walk. Unroll a yoga mat instead. Read a book. Sit.

I am so proud of my body. So proud of all she has overcome. I will never take for granted a mile or a even a step again.

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Choosing Life

Every morning each of us is faced with a choice—focus on the things that are challenging or focus on life.

I choose LIFE. I choose to notice the colors I see. I choose to listen to the birds that fly in and out of the yard. I choose to feel the aliveness in my body—even if that aliveness is pain. I choose to get up and live LIFE.

I choose to embrace all aspects of my experience each day and not to dwell on the parts of being human that are tough.

Pain sucks.

But I am alive, determined, magnificent, and so amazingly grateful for this life.

What do you choose?

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When I Am Among the Trees

This morning’s schedule change allowed me to have a long walk along a tree lined creek. I am certainly most grateful on these unexpected days where I have time to connect and be with myself and nature. Days like today are just one of the many benefits of being self employed. There certainly are some downsides to being your own boss, but time to get outside is a huge bonus! As I spent time watching hawks fly and bunnies hop, I found myself reciting this favorite poem of mine. Trees and time to commune with them often is something that is a must for me. I feel more connected, more energized and way more alive.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

~Mary Oliver

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Loving Myself

We all think we know what love is and what the definition is, but I resonate the most with how Brené Brown defines love–

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get, it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

For the first 30 years of my life I thought I knew what love was and that I was living as an example of love—dependable, reliable, giving, and selfless. I’ve come to now see that what I was really offering was anything but that. I was clueless, unaware, oblivious and at times, destructive.

Not to others.

To myself.

Back when I was young, married and raising three people I was completely asleep when it came to self love. I have come to realize now however that I simply did not like who I was, so loving me was not even close to being on my radar. It is clear now that when you love yourself, you take actions that care for yourself.

Back then I had no awareness that the fast food I was consuming and the sedentary life I was living was contributing to my very large body. I never connected that the heaviness I was in my body was a direct link to the heaviness in my emotions. And then I realized that being an amazing mom wasn’t enough love. There was someone that love wasn’t shown.

Not to myself.

When I began to what I like to refer to as “wake up” and get healthy, I started to like me. I was finding dark shadows that were lurking in my heart that were asking to be let out. The beginning to many things that were literally weighing me down. I forgave others and accepted my circumstances. I began to care for me.

The logistics in which I lost weight are simple–I changed my habits. Recognizing what wasn’t working and learning to make a very conscious decision to change it was my new way.

Some of my strategies were:

  • Eating meals on small plates
  • Chewing gum while I cooked
  • Teaching others to do their dishes
  • Putting trigger foods out of sight
  • Making sure my walking shoes were always with me
  • Changing routines to avoid mindless eating (taking long baths, going for a walk, learning to garden)

You see these simple changes were to avoid be being unconscious. This influenced snacking, portions, and sedentary lifestyle choices. Many of these changes still remain part of my life.

By swapping out the mindless munching on snacks for bubble baths or a short walk, my mind was beginning to see the value in me. It is extraordinary what happens to a person’s soul when time is spent consistently alone on a walk. The changes that occurred both on the inside and outside were amazing.

I began noticing myself.

I have spent a decade and a half living like these habits; mindful eating and multiple daily walks. I even became a yoga and meditation teacher. Basically transformed myself from an angry obese woman to a healthy and happy woman.

A vibrant life was mine.

Then I got injured.

For the last seven years I have dealt with healing from four orthopedic surgeries and learning to live with chronic pain. This body that I had worked so hard to become healthy began to defile me. It was as if she was rebelling against this lifestyle of health and fitness.

Feelings of deep sadness came.

While I have maintained a healthy weight for over 20 years, I have struggled with trusting my body. The multiple diagnoses felt at times like a betrayal. In truth, I spent a solid 10 adult years living on double cheeseburgers, fries and chicken nuggets without a stitch of pain or health issues.

How did I begin to develop inflammatory issues when I was now living my best life? My body’s ability to climb mountains, race bicycles, practice endless hours of yoga, walk miles and miles each day was endless..

And yet, my body was struggling.

I have since learned to accept what is. Learning to continue on living an extraordinary happy and healthy life despite pain.Making daily choices around movement vs sitting. Or ice cream vs a single bite of dark chocolate. And binging on stupid tv vs a long bubble bath. I’ve been extremely happy with the self love I have discovered by nurturing myself.

Loving myself.

The game changed about six months ago when I stumbled onto a strength training program. I was completely content with my body and it’s strength and flexibility-and my size- but was intrigued by this idea of committing to something new.

Questions of worthiness immediately rose to the surface. The excuses were miles long. (I can’t do that because of my hip, that will hurt my ankle, I don’t need to do burpees, I don’t have enough weights, my body is “good enough”).

Deep down I knew that all of that internal dialogue didn’t sound much like loving myself. And I knew it.

So I began October 1st. A brand new love affair with myself. And like any new love there have bumps along the way—days I doubted myself and had some pretty bad words spoken, days I wanted to give up and go back to the inner narrative that I was “good enough”.

Those challenging days of the early love affair with my 51 year old self are gone. Now, I am in complete awe of what I have been able to do and overcome. I am happily shocked at the human body and it’s ability to transform. No longer held back by the story of age or injury, instead I am madly loving my ability and what I have achieved.

Amazing how much healing can happen when you say yes to YOU.

Whether it is food choices, walking, yoga, mindfulness or even getting down with lifting weights learning to love myself has been a journey I am so grateful for.

I have found trust in myself. And isn’t trust a much needed part of love?

This new love affair is destined to last a long, long time and I couldn’t be happier.