Don’t Just Stand There Smiling….Laugh

Two weeks left..

Until figure competition….

I like to spice things up every now and again. Today, instead of chicken, I had fish. I went to the gym in the afternoon rather than going tonight. I’m going back to my old roots by getting a little wild and crazy, but instead of bottles versus shots, it’s chicken versus fish. And fish wins.  All kidding aside, I feel pretty damn fabulous. I don’t know if it’s the coffee, the workout, or just the excitement that is mounting inside of me for the show in two weeks, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t given myself a whole lot of time to dwell on anything. And that’s kind of a big deal for me right now. I feel like I should have a cape draped over my shoulders and maybe a sword too. Yea. I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.  Also, I’m not as nervous or anxious as I was last year leading up to the show.  It’s weird.  Extremely weird. But I’ll take it.

 I’ve also taken notice of how Dunkin Donuts has been good to me these past couple of days. Usually, I get all twisted inside from too much caffeine, but so far I’m feeling pretty good. No crazy bug-eyed, heart racing caffeine; just enough to make shit happen. 

 Yesterday I was reminded once again to just stay away from people who want to stifle your growth and smother you with shit loads of negativity; their negativity. And I gotta say; it can be extremely draining. It’s like take my cape off, leave me stark naked, kind of draining. I’m like all happy and scaling the walls and someone just comes along and piles heaps and heaps of shit on me. Um…thanks? Being around negative people can be like realizing during a mud run that you have your head and hands covered in dog shit not mud.  Major buzzkill. Major.

 Some days, I feel like I’m ready to go find a cape and twirl around or something like that. I’m all like, la lala la la…Mary fricken Poppins, wishing to share my happiness and excitement, but not really having anyone who is on call for me to share it with, which may or may have not been a good thing, after all, not everyone is picking up flowers, twirling around in an unusually happy-go-lucky kind of mood.  I mean, I have days like that too; days where I feel like an old dirty sock rescued from the next load of laundry, and people are jolly and cheerful, it can be sickening. So, you see, I completely understand. However, it’s different when it’s you. And yesterday, that’s what happened. I was beside myself with excitement, and ultimately found myself mingling with a bit of negativity. Just like that. Boom. Someone turned the damn lights out. I was like the moles in the whack-a-mole game. Hit pretty hard.

 Next thing you know, I was sitting at home with my cape crumpled into a tight little ball.

 A few shots of flaxseed oil and some good ol’ home cooked chicken and brown rice, I was back at it.  I’m pretty sure my mood was also influenced by the stripper shoes that I had to put on my feet to practice posing for the umpteenth time. 

Stripper shoes can make you feel amazing. Even if they don’t come with a pole. They almost make me want to just lift weights or do cardio in them. They’re just that incredible. Don’t judge me. Those are the only shoes that I’ve had on my feet that don’t require me to break a sweat. Scratch that. Posing makes me sweat. That shit is the hardest part. Some may say the diet, but no, it’s definitely the posing for me. When you practice, you should get in the habit of smiling, but I’m sorry, I feel that if I were to smile while posing, I would just be mocking myself. The poses are awkward for me, and I’m not really that graceful. I’ve improved since the last show, but I’m just not quite ready to smile and say cheese just yet. Trust me, when there’s not a mirror in front of me, and my teeth are slickened with Vaseline, I’ll smile. I’ll become someone else and let her do all the smiling.  Again. Don’t judge me. Besides, I think my fake smile looks unnatural; like I should have a crown and a pageant contest wave. It’s not really that convincing. Hmmm…maybe that’s the part I should be working on. Last year, my lips were so dry, I felt like I was scraping them off my teeth every time I smiled. I didn’t know about the Vaseline trick until later. That and to laugh.

When I did the photo shoot in Las Vegas, I was told to laugh;

 1. It would bring out my abs more AND

2. It would make me look super happy…?

 So, I did what any normal person would do. I drank a bottle of red wine and I laughed. A lot.

 Blow out all of the air through your mouth, laugh, and BAM!  

 I use that trick, minus the red wine, in all of my photos too; but mainly to just look super happy.  The person standing next to me in the picture or taking the picture probably thinks I’m a weirdo, but it works. And you do what works. I think a fake smile gives the appearance that you may have had some botox done; the expression is all in the smile, but the eyes are empty. Not to mention, a fake smile and little water just dries out your mouth, which makes you feel like you need to call for the Jaws of Life just to pry your lips off of your teeth. So Vaseline it’ll be. I can live with that. I could put the Vaseline on now and practice posing, but I’m not that into Vaseline as a daily supplement.

 So coffee, stripper shoes, figure competition suits, fish, and chicken..…yep that’s what gets me through my day. Besides all of that, I guess if you invest your heart into something as much as you do your head, you can pretty much expect to ride off into the sunset on your black stallion; cape and all.

Beast Mode. Power:On

My last couple workouts have been officially labeled as “panic attack” workouts. They go a little something like this:

 I workout, moving from exercise to exercise with very little rest in between, my heart starts to pound, and I feel as though I’m about to throw up. I’m working hard, and I’m not going to back off. I continue. My muscles are being trained to failure, I say to myself,

“one more rep” fighting with the bully inside of me trying to get me to back down. My blood is pumping, I feel it through my veins, I’m sucking in oxygen, maximizing all of my energy into pushing out one last rep. I keep pushing, waiting for the climax; the rush of simple euphoria. I feel every bit of oxygen crash and erupt with every rep; my body pushes harder and harder. I let go. I am finished. Sweat thickens and beads; it starts to brush past my eyebrows, misses my eye and continues on down my cheek and rolls off my chin. I continue. Next set. I don’t stop. Heat emerges within my muscles, fire erupts, my body pushes; my mind pushes back. It tells me to stop; it wants me to stop. But I can’t. I have to get to the point where my mind lets go; I have to keep pushing. I have to let my mind know my body can do all the work; I have to let my body take over. With every rep, I feel the muscle contract. It feels good. It feels powerful and controlled. Yet, somehow I begin to panic.

 My heart beat has become louder;  like it’s going to burst. “I’m fine.” I try to reassure myself, but I can’t take my mind off of the cold, clammy feeling that has suddenly numbed my skin.  Again.  “I’m fine,”  I pick up the weight and lift. My mind shifts as I start to turn my focus on the lift of the exercise.  I complete the set and put the weight down. I look at the clock and wait for the next set to begin. Again. It happens. The blood in my veins start to feel like slivers of ice; frozen.

 “Oh my God, Oh my God, something is wrong with me” I dread what comes next.

“Everything is blurry. Why is everything blurry. Is it my contacts? Would if it’s that medication. I remember reading the side effects. Shit. My head hurts, I feel dizzy, my throat feels like it’s locked …I can’t swallow…I can’t breathe…Shit. Would if something is seriously wrong with me?!!

  Panic mode.

 I pull back. No. Beast mode.

 I have one last set to do. One more set. I can handle it. Focus. Breathe. I can do this, I’m not losing it. Not this time.

 I wrap my hands around the cold iron dumbbell and I feel a sudden surge; like an electric shock. Confident; fearless; I let the weight dig into my muscles and just like that. I am standing there, weight in my hands; barely over my head; controlled, calculated. I am ready. I see a person that resembles me in the mirror. I look away. That can’t be me, quickly, my mind relapses. I power the weight above my head. Damn it. That is me.

That is me.

Fight Anxiety and Panic Attacks

I have a headache. Why won’t it go away? I just want to sleep. I’m not getting enough sleep. I can’t fall asleep. I can’t stay asleep. My brain feels foggy during the day. When I wake up, I don’t ever feel like I’m waking up. Instead, I feel like I have a major hangover and I can’t go back to sleep. At night, my mind runs freely. The ideas flow and my imagination escapes. I have a headache. My skin starts to tingle and feel cold, my heart races, my mind reacts to the discomfort that I feel from the headache. Unfortunately, it overreacts. It goes into overdrive and I blackout.

Not a lot of people understand panic attacks. I find that it falls into the category of “mental patient” and that bothers me. I often use the hashtag, “panicattacks” on Instagram, but if you happen to get a chance to look at the photos correlating with that particular hashtag, you will find sadness, despair, suicidal photos and thoughts, darkness and self destruction. There isn’t anything really positive. And that saddens me. I almost feel like anxiety and panic attacks have been, by default, shoved into this category of walking zombies that self mutilate themselves and pop pills, forever see darkness and never see any light. That’s what I fear; feeling ashamed for suffering for something that can be debilitating if you only use it to be a victim rather than be a fighter. Having a panic attack. Check. Suffering from Depression. Check. Insecurity. Check. Anxiety. Check. Approved. Hashtag, “PanicAttacks” Check.

No. It’s not all darkness, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

You’re basically at war with your mind and you have to fight like hell. Fight to the death to win and tell your mind to shut up and sit down. It’s like a bad night of drinking followed by a hangover. You black out. You don’t know what’s happening and you are confused. You react impulsively; you think you’re saying one thing, but you’re mind is racing. You don’t know what you are saying. You feel dizzy; like you’re going to vomit. Heart is pounding, ugh you drank too much. But no. Wait. You don’t have a drink in your hand, you aren’t drinking, and you don’t have a hangover. No. You are having a panic attack.

The only way to prevent getting sick or having a hangover is to not drink (or not drink to extreme). The only difference with drinking alcohol and suffering a panic attack is that when you drink, you are willing to lose control; you actually want to numb your mind, slur like you just had Novocain for shits and giggles, and be able to refer to your jerky movements on the dance floor, top of the bar, table…the list goes on…as well, dancing. Nothing matters. Everything goes. That’s the spirit. Way to go! Woohoo! (I compare drinking and panic attacks because they are two things that hit close to home for me.)

If you suffer from anxiety, you get irritated, agitated, annoyed, you’re like not only a member of the P.M.S. clan, but also the President-type deal. The smallest things can make you tense. Once you tense up; that’s it; it over. Back off Midol. This is now serious shit.

I am writing this to tell you what works for me. It is not a fool-proof plan. It’s what works for me for the past four years. I keep saying two out loud, but it really is four. It just feels like I’ve learned so much about myself in such a short amount of time. But believe me, it certainly hasn’t been fun. I don’t care what they say, (time flies when you’re having fun). That’s a lie.

At first, I was directed by my doctor to do breathing techniques in the morning as well as tension building exercises. You know, squeeze all of your muscles, breathe in this way, breathe out this way, blah, blah, blah. Do yoga. I got it. All of it. My personality was missing out of this lovely “one size fits all” program. I am impatient. I love instant gratification. I gave up on things because I was always comparing myself to other people; their experiences, their success stories. I wanted that. All of it. When I graduated from college, I wanted 20 years of experience in one day. . Yes. That’s my definition of instant gratification.
I admired people who had careers, who had a background; who had experience. I didn’t think what I accomplished was ever good enough. I was unsure of myself. Still am. Not going to lie.

But I have found what works for me, and maybe it may help you…

Maybe it can help you, if you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or “mark the all of the above box” or check other.

First you have to admit who you are. You have to accept your personality; are you introverted, extroverted? What keeps your clock ticking? Who are you? Don’t you try to change to be a different person; if you’re a shy, quiet person, don’t feel that you have to try to be a social butterfly. However, if you want to try to work towards that; by all means, go for it. You will actually feel and notice over time, small changes in your personality; you will grow and evolve.

Don’t be afraid to analyze yourself. Be truthful with who you are. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. It’s okay to admit who you are as a person; who you truly feel you are deep down inside. Again, when you lie about who you are, even to yourself, you are allowing anxiety to defeat you. You’re mind is in control. Other people are in control. Things are in control. When you express yourself openly, even if you’re just saying it out loud to yourself, you can start to determine the relationship between who you are and why you are anxious, depressed or having panic attacks.

I remember when I first started having these panic attacks, the doctor would tell me I’m, “tightly wound”. Another doctor advised me that I should set boundaries and limit myself to people who may cause tension or stress in my life. Sounded like a good plan, however, reevaluating it, just made me feel like I was giving in and allowing anxiety to become who I am. And it’s not. It’s a part of me; it makes up a percentage of who I am, but I am not going to be standing in a room full of people with a name tag that reads, “anxiety” on it any time soon. Also, I decided for myself that I would be catering to this anxiety by letting it take control of the steering wheel. I’m not a back seat kind of girl. The more I let those words ring in my ears, limit yourself, have boundaries, it sounded more and more like I was being encouraged to avoid and isolate rather than to fight, and keep fighting. I was not going to let myself be taken advantage of by panic attacks and anxiety. To me, that sounded more like a slippery slope; kind of like opening up a bottle of alcohol, lighting a cigarette and then passing out from being so drunk that the house catches on fire.

I can recall the first time I experience a panic attack. And the second one. And the third. Until it became so debilitating that I couldn’t even allow myself to go to sleep. I was on night duty; alert, alarmed, armed and waiting for the next panic attack. I was always thinking about it. I couldn’t stand it. It was like I couldn’t step away from my reflection without it going into panic mode. The first time I had one; it freaked me out. I thought I was dying. I jumped out of bed, head spinning, heart pounding, mind racing, and I couldn’t stop shaking. I thought I was just suffering from low blood sugar levels (I was into that diet of eating once per day), so I started cramming white bread in my mouth and an entire bottle of orange juice down my throat. I sat on the couch; my shaking had decreased, and looking back I think I was able to myself down because I took my mind off of it by identifying it as a problem (the low blood sugar thought) and quickly racing to solve it by cramming a bunch of shit down my throat. However, I had already called the ambulance and they were there poking my finger to check my blood glucose levels which were, oddly enough, extremely low. I was asked if I was diabetic. No. Pretty sure I wasn’t. I carried on the next five months, life as usual, not changing a damn thing, going to bed fine, sleeping fine, until. Well, then it happened again. I followed the same thing I did the first time around, but the symptoms weren’t decreasing they were erupting inside of my mind. First, I was worried. This is the second time” I remember thinking. “Would’ve if there is something really wrong?” Again. Ambulance came and this time they told me, “you’re having a panic attack” and after that, I allowed myself to slowly mold myself into a victim of anxiety. Nope. I didn’t fight. I didn’t think I could. My doctor wrote me a couple of prescriptions and off I went into the darkness.

Reflecting on that first moment, tells me how strong we are to fight to solve a problem, once we “think” (in this case) we know what it is. We are born to fight for survival. Our bodies are made to be strong and powerful, which is what panic and anxiety is. Fight or Flight. Fight for survival. Irrational thoughts; irrational fears etc.

I like to think that we were created with built in survival kits.

Unfortunately, the thing with panic attacks is that once we are diagnosed; once we are categorized and pushed into the group that “has panic attacks and anxiety” we start nurturing it; helping it grow…laRGER. We actually wait around for it, water it, (so to speak), and we allow everything to revolve around it. And soon enough, we become our own tornado. We become destructible and powerful; damaging to ourselves and our loved ones. And that’s the hardest part. Identifying that you suffer from panic attacks, pushing yourself into that group of hashtags, (if you will), and we succumb to them.

Instead, we need to identify it, and not let it become our way of being identified.

More truth? Everyday is a struggle. Why? Because it’s annoying. It’s exhausting. There are days where you want to be like, “screw this shit”, but you know what? I remember my dad; he gave me more proof how strong our bodies are once we get the mind to hop aboard. You see, from the time my father was 18 years old to the time he died in August 2005, at 52 years old, he had suffered multiple heart attacks, 2 kidney transplants, skin cancer, more than one open heart bypass surgery followed with staph infections, other various health problems, until he died of liver cancer. But when he died; he died proudly and with dignity.

He lived life not fearing the next day but anticipating the next day. He definitely made sure not to leave one stone unturned. He was a fighter. He fought to the death.

My mother? She was a fighter too. Still is. She battled alcoholism for a majority of her life and has been sober for 11 years. She did it on her own. So I know; I have proof. I have evidence that our bodies our capable of extremes. When someone says, “it’s all in your head,” I used to get offended, but now? Now, I say, “yes, it is all in my head.” Because ultimately, it is how you choose to deal with it. My parents taught me that. The past four years have taught me that.

Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks have taught me that you can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you react and respond.

I am fighting that. Every. Single. Day.

And I will never, ever give up.

Without pride and dignity. I will not give up.

You really have to train your brain. For every negative thought that invades your mind, you have to force your mind come up with a positive thought to offset the negative.

Set up small goals with yourself so that you have something to look forward to. If you have something to look forward to, you can get yourself out of the darkness a lot sooner; like a cloudy day, but when the clouds suddenly open up, instead of rain, comes the sun.

The more you talk about it in a more positive way, the more likely you will be able to identify and push out those negative thoughts when they start to creep in. For example, rather than say, “you gave me anxiety, or that gives me anxiety” recognize that as a fear, and force your mind to overcome that fear. Anxiety and panic for me, is not having control. When you stop telling yourself that people or things give you anxiety, you will slowly regain control as opposed to feeling inferior to people or things. Ask yourself, why do they give you anxiety? Again, it goes back to your personality. Maybe your personality clashes with theirs or maybe you like things done a certain way….But remember, no one or no thing could give you anxiety or cause you a panic attack unless you let it.

Discover positive interests, brainstorm. For instance, what’s your favorite music? What do you find yourself doing most of the time or what do you find yourself wishing that you could do most of the time? Make a list of your interests, hobbies, favorites and people you like. Most of the time the people who we are attracted to, possess qualities that we would love to have ourselves or we are already alike in a lot of ways, we just haven’t found the ground that will just open up and shout, “you are worthy to walk on me!”

Find something you can be passionate about; something that will challenge you physically, emotionally or mentally; or all three…

Set small goals. Behaviors that you can help change the way you think and listen.

Discover who you are based on your interests; what you’re good at; passionate about, write your goal down and put it somewhere you can look at it. Find out what steps you need to do to reach that goal. Be on the look out for motivational quotes/sayings that you can relate to. Keep it light and positive. No dark quotes. No quotes about anxiety that enable you to allow yourself to keep victimizing yourself. I believe we tend to grab onto quotes that we identify with, (again we are more than anxiety and panic; we are stronger than those things and we have many facets), that say, look I have this problem so yea, accept me for my problem. End of story. It’s okay to like the quote, but when you read that every single day, you risk victimizing yourself. In other words, you risk pulling yourself back into the darkness, where you find comfort in the misery that you have been convinced is completely you. All you. It’s not. Trust me. You’re more than that. We all are.

Find someone who inspires you, positively; finding someone who is a positive influence, someone who makes you feel good about yourself; whether it’s a celebrity, a friend, family member, sports enthusiast, or other individual, will help you heal and allow yourself to become who you want to be and allow you to set goals. They will most likely be honest people, someone you can relate to. A lot of people spend time criticizing and bashing others; but really they are fighting through the pain of what they are convinced are unrealistic goals or expectations that they could never reach. If it makes you feel that way, then those aren’t the people you should be following; that is not who you are and that is okay. No one else is judging you, but you at that moment. Find what works for you. And maybe one day, if it interests you, you’ll have the power to go after that so-called unrealistic goal or expectation.

It’s important to find someone who inspires you; someone you could go back to when you’re feeling down and feel like you’re losing your way because along the way you will have to fight everyday, some more than others, and if have someone that you feel generates a ton of positivity, you could always refer back to that person if you find that your compass starts to taper off the map.

Don’t seek validation from others but yourself. This is hard to do, especially in this technological era we live in. Social networking sites look out!

If you receive negative feedback, expect it. Embrace it. That person may be suffering just like you. You don’t know their story. Ask if they want your help, find ways to help others rather than lashing out. You never know; you just might be the inspiration that someone else needs; someone’s bright spot in their darkness.

Most importantly, don’t ever think that taking medication is a sign of weakness. Medication is a sign that you want to fight; that you’re not willing to give up. They say “crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of trying to be strong for too long.” Same rule applies.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I eat healthy, I workout, I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs, yet I still have panic attacks; I still have anxiety, my mind and body are just that powerful, and as I said, it’s a contstant battle…

Anything is possible. Just keep fighting. Believe in yourself. Accept yourself. And Be yourself.

 

Running for Power and Purpose

 I’m not a runner. The only time I enjoy running is when I don’t really think about it. For example, I like to run with my kids when we’re playing, “who can make it to the car first”, which actually happens quite often. But I’m not really thinking about it. I mean, my heart starts pounding, my breathing becomes deeper, the gust of air felt from my body thrusting itself forward is felt, but it’s more about trying to see who can get to the car first. I usually win. Simply, because I have the car keys and the rule is, that to be declared the winner, you have to be in the car first.  

 FYI, I have a car that does not have automatic locks. I guess that is just one of the perks of owning a car with manual locks.  

To run is to have to make a commitment and to make it happen. It requires distance and miles. It requires moving farther and farther away from the starting point, and I really don’t have a lot of time for that. I know people who actually like to run for miles, endurance, speed, and some people just like it to clear their mind. But I actually have discovered that my mind usually turns off around mile numero uno. It turns into me sounding like the annoying little voice in the backseat on a long car ride wondering, “are we there yet?”

There are people who create running playlists and listen to it while they run. I’ve tried that. I end up getting tangled in the cord somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes into the run. Alright, I’m stretching the truth, maybe more like 5 or 10 foot strikes against the pavement. Or even worse; the ear buds don’t stay in, and then the Ipod gets turned off and just ends up in my pocket anyway.    

 Still, it has to be done. I like to keep it short though. No long distances. Tonight I went to the high school track to run. I swear whenever my mind starts to think about running, my body just melts. I was just lying on the couch, relaxing with the phone in my hand, checking my Instagram account, and my mind was literally screaming at me to get up and just go for a run. My body, on the other hand, literally, feels like it is pleading with me; protesting by going limp with just the thought of running. I was just going to do a cardio workout at home, but my mind, apparently, had other plans for me. Apparently, it felt this relentless desire to go outside and run. Odd.  I do have to admit, however, I was feeling pretty pathetic just lying on the couch thinking about doing cardio. Not just that though, it is those damn evil hormones that are getting to me again. My husband is lucky he is visiting his family in St. Martin so he doesn’t have to deal with the wrath of these devious little sidekicks. Ha.

All day long, in the back of my mind, I kept having glimpses of me running down my street or around the highschool track. But before I engaged into some sweat, fat burning work, I decided I should satisfy my cravings by buying my daughter a slice of chocolate cheesecake and my son a double chocolate cookie.

Look, I teach them about balance. I don’t want them to be afraid of food for cripes sake. Anyway, I couldn’t choose which one I’d rather have, so I bought both, and they ate them. They were really good too. I’m just guessing. It was a treat. They enjoyed it, and so did I.  As least I’m assuming that based on the chocolate covered stains that hid my son’s lips and teeth. Mmmm….Chocolate…

 And then reality caught up and hit me in the head…

Once at the high school track; the wind and cool air spent the first few minutes reminding me of how freezing it was outside. It had the feeling of a cool winter day; as though I was going to look up at the sky and catch a snow flake in my eye. I started cursing at myself for forgetting to bring a hat. But, it really wouldn’t have made any sense to drive all the way back home for my hat, since I had already driven to the track, which made me feel silly in the first place. I mean, I just drove right down the street to run around in a giant circle; kind of like a dog chasing its tail.

 I stepped onto the track; made sure my shoes were tied, gave in to the cool air and started with a light walk. I couldn’t help but watch two teenage boys on the field, kicking a soccer ball back and forth to each other, laughing, and enjoying the cool night breeze. I continued my walk once around the track and turned it into a light jog. As I ran, still aware of the teenagers kicking the ball back and forth to each other, my body and mind started to connect. At that point, I couldn’t stop running. I started to run extremely fast until my legs burned, and then I would jog, then run again. This type of cardio, I could handle. Sprinting.

 I lost track of time. There was no music. No cords or ear buds; and as usual, my mind went numb. I focused on my running technique, my force, and speed; time. The lights flickered on as it got a bit darker, and I had suddenly realized that the teenagers were no longer there, I quickly wondered how long they had been gone. Still, I kept moving; feeling every bit of tension in my body dissipating. I finished up with eighty side squats and fifty high knees followed by fifty knee kicks. I could have kept going, but it was extremely dark at that point, the street lamps provided the only light at that point, and the only thing I saw was my shadow. Besides, there was a trail of kid’s voices running alongside the school building and underneath the bleachers, so I figured that it was best to go home.

Tomorrow is another cardio day, and I know that my body will still plead with me not to go, but my body and mind will thank me once I am done. I just have to focus and stay in tune with each muscle in my body as it contracts. There’s no other feeling like being able to feel the energy from my muscles as they work to thrust my body forward; in competition with no one else but myself. Doing cardio doesn’t always have to be about long distance or length of time. If you don’t have time, you could still give it all you got in 15-20 minutes. Just be willing to push yourself as hard and don’t be afraid to let every muscle contract in your body, and let the tension fade.

Music or none at all; it’s your choice. Always.

How To Grab Willpower by the Balls

Maybe you have a couple pounds to lose, or even a couple pounds to gain. Maybe you have a goal weight or an ideal body image in your mind. You know what you want, but do you want it bad enough? At first, you will be presented with choices, and from time to time, you will feel a sense of “divide and conquer”; while your body is capable of a lot, your mind will scream at you over and over again trying to defeat you. Your mind will literally try to take control over your body. It will divide and conquer but only if you let it.  

 Willpower is reaching deep within and pulling the last bit of strength you have to make shit happen. Willpower is stronger than you, but not having it will not make you a weak person because it only emphasizes the ability to make a choice. It illustrates how badly you want something, but it doesn’t mean that you are desperate; it only means that you understand the right to choose and understand the cost of what it takes to get what you want and where you need to be. This in no way allows you to step on others to get to where you need to be, it means that you realize that people are willing to step on you and you choose to fight back.

 Willpower creeps up and sometimes brings an entire army to fight against you. You are constantly at odds with willpower whenever you make the choice to become better, do better, live better and be different. The last bit of strength that is hidden deep inside of you does not come easy. You have to be prepared to fight it every single minute. It will try to tear you apart and make you fall down, if you let your guard down. You have to always be mindful that it’s there; lurking and waiting for you to stop to make the choice that you no longer seek the ultimate goal. You begin to think of what you’re doing as a sacrifice.

 The first soldier of willpower in getting to unlock the final bit of strength that you have is Choice.  In order to determine the goal, first you have to fight against the choices that are presented to you. You have to decide what you want and go for it. In order to do so, you will have to defeat another soldier; and that soldier is Sacrifice.

 Once you have made the choice to achieve your goal, you will feel a temporary sense of determination. Your pace is strong, your grip is strong; you are strong. However, you now notice that there are two soldiers standing there, side by side, close enough to be one. Your strength feels threatened. You begin to question your judgment; question your goal; your choice (s).  

 You start to think of it more as an obstacle rather than a goal. You lose focus. And when you lose focus, you lose sight of the goal. So you start to wonder why you are doing this. You will begin to think of how it will affect other people. Your family. Your friends. Your social life. Your personal life.  You start to slow down, quiver even. You panic. You feel uncomfortable. So you stagger. And your mind starts to race with all of the other choices that you can have. How much happier you will be. Because right now you feel miserable. And it’s not worth it. One by one, the soldiers are closing in around you. Right now you think, what is my goal?  Your fears resurface and you react with a fight or flight response. You act quickly, nervously. You’re falling back. It doesn’t matter because now you are in a battle with a reflection of yourself. You start to think that you like yourself just the way you are. You tell yourself, you don’t have to do this. In other words, you start to rationalize choices and soon willpower is winning the battle. After all, it’s you versus willpower, which is a huge army. But you’re not becoming weaker. Because, after all, there are just too many soldiers to fight against, and you are an army of one.

 So you slow down even more. You start to fall back, become more and more distant. Fade away. And no one, no one is there to help you get back up. To fight. You have to do this yourself,  Suddenly you realize that you have to make the first and only move. YOU want it and YOU deserve it because YOU are strong. You are powerful. In fact, you are more powerful than willpower. But you must never look away. You must always be conscientious. You must always know it’s worth it. Worth every single second. Because that’s just how powerful you are. That last bit of strength is worth fighting for; it will make you feel unstoppable. It will give you perseverance. And with that, you can make willpower quiver. But you must always be prepared to make it quiver because it will test you endlessly. You will often stagger with confidence; compare yourself with others, and feel weak. It doesn’t give up. Only you can give up. Only you are presented with choices. And you are the only one who can make the right one.

I want you to make willpower your bitch.

 

 

What Will Happen if you Didn’t Live Life In the Moment?

Can you think of anything? I can…

You can make healthier choices so that you can continue to enjoy all the things that you love, and all of the moments that lie ahead of you..

You can find a balance so that you can wake up and not feel that any time has been wasted; like you’re spending everyday recovering from the night before with a really BAD hangover. You know when you wish that you can forget what happened, or just wish that you already did…You know kinda like that bruise on your leg that you don’t remember how it got there because you had one too many drinks, or the soreness that you feel in your legs from dancing all night long? And then, suddenly, you slowly put the pieces together, and it finally all makes sense. Temporarily. And then just like that, you get zapped back into reality. It hurts. You hurt. You know you had a damn good time, but you are feeling like shit now. You probably should just lie down. Oh wait, here comes your responsibilities. Oh and….LIFE. 

Life is one big hangover. Metaphorically speaking, of course. (Hey, I’ve been there, done that. This one time, I was at a pig roast…oh wait that’s not for this blog..sorry hehe)

Seriously though, that’s how you’re going to feel as you get older.  You’ll be at the bar with a tear in your beer because you’re lonely for your dear (Hank Williams-just changed it up a bit). You’ll have one drink and have to call it a night. And not just because you’ve aged; no it’ll be because you won’t have the mobility, balance, or strength to get down low, or hop up there and shake ‘it’ one more time. Metaphorically. The Point? If you learn how to balance, you could still have a damn good time.

And no. Dancing and drinking isn’t considered cardio. Trust me on this one.

But seriously, you know all of those moments where you sit and reflect on the times that you were able to pull an all-nighter? I’ve had those conversations before. Oh God, I used to be able to stay up all night long, and still go to work the next day. And function too. Remember that? (Or are you there now?)

Whether it was partying, studying, or just talking, whatever it was, you were still able to manage work, school and anything else without batting an eyelid. Today, you feel so tired, so plugged in and overcharged; overused, that the energy just seems to keep going in and out of you, and if you lose even just an hour of sleep, you can’t seem to keep your eyelids open with even the good ole’ clothespin.  Oh… getting older sucks. But staking claim in my pride by striving to continue to learn how to balance family, educate myself, study to become a personal trainer, teach my kids about respect in this crazy technologically advanced, hypersensitive world that we live in, improve or maintain my strength and all means to maintain functionality as I get older, makes me feel ageless. Sure, I’ve pulled the “I feel old” card, but that’s because I’m a parent (and that’s also another story).  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So….I’m often asked, why do I eat like this all of the time. Why do I carry a cooler to a place where there is food readily available?  What the hell am I doing??? People want to know why I’m doing this. Seriously!! People are concerned that may not be living my life to its fullest. (Okay, I admit, I might also be projecting here.)  No. no, I’m pretty sure I’m not! I have had to overcome that along the way, and I still get stares and sneers, but it’s been a journey that has not let me down. At least not yet anyway.

I really, honestly, truly, sincerely think that exercising and selecting healthy choices is underestimated. Sure you got that run on the treadmill where you’re clinging to the rails for dear life, heaving and pouring sweat..you’re bod’s just crying and you hover down lower and lower until you don’t feel anything, and that’s only because the machine has taken over now, but then you go in your fancy little workout wear and go to get some Mickey D’s. Oh yea. I saw you there. I know it. You went there.  Or maybe it’s not Mickey D’s, it’s those leftovers from that tasty little diner down the street from you. Hell, it could even be from that extremely expensive, four-star restaurant. I don’t care. It’s got sodium, calories, all sort of sneak shit up in there. Trying to say, oh it’s only less than 500 calories…oh please..don’t even get me started with that.

I know people who think, “you only live once” I mean come on, they even coined a catchy abbreviation (yolo anyone?) that’s been tossed into song lyrics, tshirts, and out of the mouths of many. (Oh Yea. I did that. I just threw a little modern day slang in there for ya.) Anyhoo, I often hear people say things like, “I could never eat like that”,  “I could never look like that” or “I could never do what you do” Oh stop it. (Blushing) Seriously though, you’d be so damned surprised at what the body is capable of doing once the mind catches up. And that’s the part that’s all up to you. Sure, you don’t have to have a flat stomach, and you can have some jiggle when you wiggle, but making healthier choices isn’t all about aesthetics. Diet and exercise, is the key to give you strength for the moments when you need to get things done, in a shorter period of time, but can’t pull off an all-nighter. It is the answer that will allow you to continue being able to do what you’re doing at this very moment.

It’s no secret that we have no choice but to age. Sure, as it has been proven, we can pay money to achieve a younger, more youthful appearance, but regardless of how much money you throw into looking younger, it’s not going to assist you in getting in and out of car, walking up a flight of stairs, playing with your kids/grandkids, you know, as you get older? It is funny, because as we get older, the rest of the world doesn’t adapt, it becomes newer, more modern and often sleek, and we are pushed into having to adapt to all of it; as quickly as possible too. We allow our food choices to fall by the wayside; to accommodate a much more leisurely and sedentary lifestyle; one that relies on technology, driving our kids to and from sports all while riding in a car, sitting and watching them play. Face it. We are sold on cheap food and it has to be fast.

However, I am a fan of the microwave. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

So….yes. There is so much more to do; to learn, in such a shorter period of time, but it requires very little energy. We don’t need to exercise because we’re not really moving. Face it. We’re not really doing anything that requires good cardiovascular conditioning, you know, things that get our blood pumping, hearts climbing, and we’re more than likely not lifting anything heavy, well beyond a baby. At least not NOW. And yes, I am extremely proud of your attempt and effort to get a little exercise, even if it was just draping over the machine. You still did it. You still had the thought.

Unfortunately, it’s really not the thought that counts. Not this time.

 So as you’re reflecting and realizing that you can’t stay up like you used to, or you feel some aches and pains, or you can’t hold or play with your kids/grandkids like you used to, can’t seem to open that damn jar of pickles without needing someone else to “loosen it up” for you…it’s time to start exercising. Truth is; we overindulge ourselves with food, good times, work, and there is absolutely NO balance. You eat the high calorie, high sodium, high fat diets, and are only compensated with diseases, illness, that eventually make you unhappy and possibly depressed about your appearance. But, still, you go to work, drive your kids to and from their afterschool activities, sometimes even on the weekends, and then,

Have lunch with an old friend,

Have dinner with an old friend

Go out to eat with someone you just met

Eat to support a good cause

Eat to raise money for a good cause

Buy and eat candy for a good cause

And it goes on and on and on….(okay so I just got a little Avett Brothers tune in my head)

The wheels of the car are still moving, but you are at a standstill.

And you may not even realize it.

All that partying and drinking; the cheap; quick and easy food, the social engagements you have to tend to, is not going to help you in the long haul. Your health isn’t going to keep up with you, if you don’t encourage it to. And if you say that you can’t eat like that, look like that, well then just picture what your going to look like in a nursing home when you can’t walk, or even feed yourself. While we all may live once, you also have the option to choose how your going to age; if you don’t start making better choices, you better at least start choosing which nursing home you’re going to.  Make it a good one too. And sure, even if you make better choices as regards to your health, you probably still won’t be able to pull an all-nighter. But you know what? Sleep is part of the equation as well.  That wasn’t always the best plan of action either.

I agree that you work your ass off, and deserve to have a kick ass time; a little “me” time. Hope you have a pension plan in place for when you retire to pay for that  nursing home.  How much are you spending on medications and doctor visits now? A vacation’s worth? Geez. I’m beginning to sound like a health insurance company or something. Or maybe, you’ll have to pay for some staff members to come to your house when you’re unable accomplish even the simplest task? Your kids aren’t going to mow that lawn for you. Doubtful. I mean, I would, but I’m not your kid. Don’t be mad.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to still be able to soak up the sunscreen on a beautiful blue beach with my husband and cooler packed with plenty of healthy food right next to us, and the only thing I’m going to be fighting are the waves rolling in the ocean, but at least I’ll have the leg and calf muscles to walk through all of that sand.

When you lose strength in the body, you also lose strength in the mind. No joke.

Stream of Consciousness

 

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Isn’t it funny how much people change? And in a matter of time, you can resolve to be this horrible, rotten person, but just be so damn beautiful and valuable and not even realize it? We all have been there. Come on. I know I’m not the only one. You know where you’ve done some things in your past, hell, maybe even yesterday, that you weren’t so proud of. That you’re ashamed of even. Things that you question why you made that decision or took that path, only to figure out that you have no real clue, so maybe you were hopeless all along. Or maybe you want to blame it on someone, make someone else carry the weight of that burden, but to no avail, you don’t feel better about yourself. In fact, you just feel worse. It doesn’t matter how you try to justify it, you still feel like crap about it. Is that guilt? Or is that just a path of self destruction that you had no idea you were on, you know because no one was waving any red flags at you along the way. And just like that, you’ve realized how you just kept making one bad decision after another, until you’ve woven together this long thread of insanity. And now you absolutely can’t stand who you have become. You try to move on, but why are those red flags waving at you now? Where were they before? What the hell? Why are you even here?   

 Which brings me to this:

 I had an interesting conversation today with a good friend of mine. I’ve known her since High school, and as expected, time moves whether you want it to or not. We have our families now, marriage, kids, and we live in different states, so we don’t get to see each other (in fact, the last time I saw her was about four years ago, give or take?) Anyway,   we seldom, if at all, have a chance to talk to one another on the phone. Luckily, for technology we are able to stay connected to each other through pictures, a quick hello via instant message, or a comment here and there on a Facebook post. We do, however, talk on the phone, but as I said, life’s quick pace and our own interests more than often leave limited time to actually sit and chat for any length of time.

 Today, however, I was fortunate to have some time, in fact, we both were. We were able to catch up and get a chance to see how time has changed our life; simply because with each passing day, every years that flies by, we’ve grown up a little bit more whether we wanted to or not. And our mindset now, our conversations, are based on experiences and the limited chances we get to reflect on who we are and what made us that way. Well, the word guilt came up. At first, the we, okay I, tossed the word back and forth, because regardless of knowing each other for about twenty years, we have had different experiences, and I guess that includes, having a different perspective of what exactly ‘guilt’ is; whether or not guilt drives us to do certain things; how, if at all, does it challenge us.

 Do we feel guilty and then act out in an aggressive manner?

 Or do we just ‘hate’ the things that we have done and therefore, hate who we’ve become, which in turn, causes us to react on impulse?

 Is guilt and hate for our past the same?

 If we don’t like who we’ve become, then we think we don’t deserve anything better? Or is it that we know that we deserve better, but don’t deserve going after it? Is that guilt?

 However, she was making sense, and I was making sense, we held different opinions, and remember, I said limited time. We could have gone on all night. She claiming that it was because we do things in our past, which causes us to feel ‘shitty’ about ourselves. It sunk in after the fourth or fifth time she said it, and so I retracted my opinion on the term, ‘guilt’, and decided that her perspective carried a bit of weight to it, and maybe there was something else at work, driving us to wrongfully imprison our souls and make us act out.  But now, I sit here and think about it further. What if it is guilt that drives us to do certain things?  Can’t guilt drive us to do better; be better? It doesn’t always have to lead to negative consequences, right?  Claiming that you don’t like yourself, or that you feel shitty about yourself, can be coined as guilt; can’t it? Or maybe she had a point. Maybe guilt and “hating yourself because of things you may have done” are, in fact, completely different. Or maybe, guilt is the right term, but feelings and pain are so loaded to most; they don’t want to attach an abstract meaning to it.

 Defining someone’s behaviors or feelings for them, can be received pretty poorly. Hell, I can even admit to that. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said or heard, “I/You don’t understand how I feel”.  But truthfully, it is pretty simple. Stop living in the past.  And as I write that, quotes of how everyone has a past, pop up in my mind. If you feel stuck in a place that you don’t really want to be, ask yourself? Why are you there? What is one thing that I can do, or have done that made me different from that person who I was yesterday? Five minutes ago? Maybe you look at your child and validate your reason for being here. Or you just talked to an old friend, like I did and had a meaningful, thoughtful conversation. Or maybe just happen to catch a quick glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize that you are somebody’s everything. You are someone to somebody; someone who doesn’t know your past; doesn’t even care.  Or how about just stop and listen to your heart beat, and let that be enough to validate your reason for being here.  Why should you let your past hold you back and eat you up inside to make you feel like shit about yourself? I’m not preaching about perfection. I am far from that neck of the woods, I’ve done some things I’m not so proud of myself, and I too, think about that on a daily basis.  I wake up with that shit every single day and feel that twinge of hatred for myself, or I hear someone else’s success story, and get an extra dose of insecurity, feeling of worthlessness, self-hatred, and/or depression. You name it. I’m right there with you. I fight those battles in my damn head every single day, but I keep going; I keep fighting. Challenging myself to reclaim my sanity; to be stronger, clearer, better. I go to the gym, bust my ass, and breathe so heavily that my skin starts to cry and I fog up that ole’  rear view mirror. 

 However way you want to describe it; whether or not you agree with the use of the word, “guilt” (Hell, I’ve even had people get offended when I’ve used the word, “regret”),  but those are all abstract words, they don’t really define your soul; your existence; and they shouldn’t determine which direction you should take, or the choices that you make for a better tomorrow, or a better five minutes. We are made up of many facets, not just our past. If you look back, you’ll see, more often than not, the choices that you’ve made simultaneously have caused a response from you. Stop giving away a part of who you could be right now for the person who nestles down deep inside of you. For that person who once was.

 If you could do all the crazy shit and make it through all of that while still breathing, then you have a reason to be here; stop taking that away from yourself. I tell myself that every single night before I close my eyes. 

Boston Marathon: We Will Keep On Running

Motivational-Quote-about-Tragedy

In a world where we are surrounded by tragedy, inspiration emerges; hope and perseverance are tightly woven together, and anger motivates us to come together as a nation to try to repair what is constantly being torn and shattered.

When tragedy strikes, rather than stand frozen in a state of despair, we move like soldiers; willing to suit up and move to the front of the battle line.

I sit aghast over the tragic events that occurred in Boston yesterday, but while the tragedy directly happened in Boston, it had a deafening and profound impact on our faith, hope, and strength as a nation. Through all of it, as we grasp hands and cling to one another tightly through an unsecure network of technology; the Internet, we are forced into this dismal oblivion where the feeling to escape is between bleak and murky, yet surreal, yet a cold, bone chilling necessity.

There are families; victims; marathon runners, suffering battle wounds; scars that cut deeply into our nation. I want to drive there, press rewind, feel their strength and give them some of my own; I wonder; I wonder if I could be that brave; that strong. My heart cries with each beat. I am happy to be alive. One. Two. Three. My heart. I can feel it. Beating like a drum, marching to the front of the battle line; I am ready. I feel instinctively angry. Fearful. Saddened….

An array of courage summons me. Maybe it’s the sound of the feet racing against the pavement, taking the runners through each mile. Maybe it’s the confusion on their faces, but the feet that never stopped running. Or when the runners heard the sound and began to run, not towards the finish line, but towards the tragedy, towards the unknown; when it turned into people running to find, help and/or embrace loved ones, strangers, rather than people running for a time; for accolades.

I look down and see my legs; my feet, and they evoke images of people I’ve never met, runners I’ve never met, their faces strickened with fear and panic grasping at their wounds or shaking in immense shock for the absence of what was. I want to run there. It seems too senseless to drive. I sit quietly for a moment, and wonder if I could. I mean, run, from Upstate New York, 266 miles.  I close my eyes and imagine running freely among trees, blue skies, rain, and thunder. Roads tainted with holes, cracks, and dirt. Running against the unknown; running to finish their race, their purpose. I open my eyes and I’m aware of the innocence I feel from being so far from where it actually happened, and then I wonder if they realize that their purpose has not changed; it has only shifted slightly.

I mourn for the 8 year old boy, his family, and the spectators who gathered to show support for those who participated. They are all victims, regardless of miles, or purpose, we are, without a doubt, all victims.

In another, tragic, desperate attempt to quiet us all; to make us live in fear and abandon one another, we come together and unite, and I can say, at least, that I am humbled.

All you need is love…love…love

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy….” ~The Beatles Lennon/McCartney

I have been out of work for four long years. It didn’t start out that way, however. I was supposed to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree, find an amazing career and quit my job as a student loan customer call center representative; a job that I had managed to hold down for 11 years since I started at the ripe age of twenty.

Well….I got the degree.

It actually makes me anxious and uncomfortable when someone asks what I do for a living; I stutter and close my eyes and force the words out, “stay at home mom”.  Okay, so I don’t necessarily close my eyes, but I sure wish I could and not have to answer that question. For the longest time I said I was a student, but then that got old, and I knew I had to let go of that crutch and move on.

To be honest, my children are 10 and 16, and because they attend school, I’ve never really considered myself to be a “stay at home mom” and some may agree with me. In fact, I remember just last week, I was asked, “…And what do you with your life” Yes. Just like that. And I got flustered. I got butterflies. I stumbled over the words; why do people have to be defined based on what they are doing in life? Okay, so I know that it’s usually just a piece to a conversation puzzle, but I just find it irrelevant.

“I’m a stay at home mom”. Ugh. Even when the words stumbled off my tongue, I wanted them to roll into the ice water I was holding and freeze.  But it happened. It was too late. I said it. However, I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to say next, “..And how old are your kids?” Okay, so it could be a reasonable follow up question to get me to open up and share; engage in a conversation, but her eyes weren’t very warm or inviting. No. They were judgmental, and took on a life of their own. I felt like she wanted to know how old my kids are so she could secretly determine if I met the conditions to be a stay at home mom. Sure enough, after I provided the ages to my children, she pierced her words with judgment a little harder, and said, “oh well, I guess they are hard to manage at that age…” Alrighty then. I had to laugh. I later made a mental note to just tell people that I am…oh never mind….

I know that not everyone has the luxury of staying at home, raising their children and taking care of the house, but when I am home, seeing the love my my kids have for me is validation enough. Also, I am thankful that I have been given the chance to be able to stay home with my kids for the past few years, simply because it has provided me with an insight to my children’s lives like I’ve never had before.

Currently, I’m slowly emerging into a new journey, a new path; trying to spread my wings and help people lose weight, get in shape and eat healthy.  I can’t help but sense the absence that my kids, especially my ten year old son, feel when I cannot just watch television on the couch, or listen to every single one of his funny stories, or latest creation; ALL OF THE TIME.  I also miss the quiet, long conversations my daughter and I used to have out of the blue, (you know when we’re not yelling at each other). It saddens me at times, but I always go to bed and remind myself that I need to grab it back somehow, make time for them, and never let go of quality moments, no matter how old they get, or how busy life gets.  I know I’m not far away, but all of the undivided attention that I was once able to provide to my children is slowly shifting.  However, with all that is going on, I am also beginning to appreciate my role as a ‘stay at home mom’ a lot more, and am also starting to realize that, that role, whether the kids are in school or not, should not be devalued at any cost.

When my son and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Celebrity Apprentice (he loves that show), he proudly says,

“Mommy, you inspire me”

It’s moments like that. Words like that. They fill my heart with solace; taking any doubt, harsh words, or judgments that anyone may have cast upon me, away.

My response? “Well, you inspire me too!” and he says, “No, really mom, you inspire me,” and proceeded with some of the reasons why, making me realize how much he has been paying attention to me; how much time we have been spending together, and how much of an impact I’ve had on his life by being at home these past four years.

I did leave him speechless and confused a bit when I responded, “Well, you inspire me to inspire you.”  He didn’t know how to handle that one!

While my daughter may not be so vocal, I know she is supportive and understands, simply because of her actions. Not all the time, but she’s a teenager! And believe me; she sure does act every bit the part!

My family is like an old house; filled with memories, open to new ones, shakes and rattles here and there, but can usually weather just about anything. I always try to remind myself that that clouds are always temporary, a broken window can always be fixed, and a door can always be opened or closed. Once the foundation is solid, nothing can tear it down.

With them, I am provided with experiences, moments, the courage to persevere, the desire to live with passion, and most of all unconditional love.

Hiking at Piseco Lake, NY

Outdoor winter activity is not something I enjoy. Often I wonder how I ended up in the wrong state. I was born here, but I’ve lived in states where the winter months weren’t as severe. Sometimes, I feel like I was born in the wrong state. Is there a term for that? Like Trans-state? I don’t know. Could be a word, I guess.  Anyway, when my sister announced that she was going to go hiking and asked if I could go, I reluctantly agreed. Mainly due to the fact that,

a) It was last minute &

b) she had told me there would be snow

Ugh. The older I get, the more I need routine, schedules, and to plan ahead. And why would I want to travel to a place that has snow? I’m trying to welcome the spring-like weather that is slowly making its way in, and now I’m going to go play in the snow?!!? Fiiiiiinnnnnee. I will go.  It will be an experience, I thought. I’ll try something different! Besides, my kids seemed to be excited to go, and I could get some cardio in, so off we went!

Here we go...

Here we go…

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We stopped to climb a up some huge boulder to take a picture,

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My sister, Kim

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Our Fearless Leader hehe

Once you get going, and allow yourself to take it all in and relax, the scenery is quite beautiful! Snow was covering the ground; fighting with the mud and water that was trying to wash it away. Branches and rocks hid behind ice and more snow. A trickle of water quietly streamed over the sharp edges of the plated rocks. The branches stood naked; unmoved by the chill in the air.

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Winter can seem gloomy, the sun sets much earlier thus turning the clear sky blank with only a dark shadow stretching out above, but there winter stood, on the mountain, during our hike, breathing against the earth, unnerved, pure and peaceful. The sun brushed our skin lightly as we steadily hiked upward, pushing ourselves farther and farther to the top, anticipating our reward. Emerging at the top, the sun snuck away, allowing us to capture the beauty that engulfed us; a sheet of pure white touching the horizon gently and peacefully.

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And we all made it!

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YAY!!!

My niece, Madeline, didn’t put socks on, so she had to use my sister’s gloves as socks…

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Don’t let that serious look fool you! She’s just being funny!

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And what goes up, must come down, RIGHT? Ugh….going down took sledding to a whole new level.  We were slipping and sliding, trudging through the sticky mud, trying not to break our neck on the glassy ice, and trying to avoid accidental falls into large holes of water. Yea, I was quickly reminded of how quickly things change from all different levels and views.

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Down we go!

Overall, it was a good day, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the gym for some weight lifting! That’s just where my heart is right now!