A New Love Affair

I ran on the treadmill again today. My husband bought me “real” running shoes last week, and I am amazed at the difference it’s made for my running attempts! No bleeding or blistered toes! I feel so great! (Except for the chafed thighs – TMI, I know. I even have the Body Glide stuff, but forgot to use it…sigh…)

I hated running as a kid. I sucked at basketball because of the running part! I could shoot baskets, but I hated the running back and forth to get to the stupid hoop. I think I could have been a star baseball player except for the running the bases part. Hell, a woman my mom’s age (we played on a team together) CAUGHT up to me by the time we hit home plate when she hit the ball and I was on 1st…I was 17 at the time)! Sad, very sad.

I’m not fast. I don’t go very far (10 KM is my furthest). But each time, I love it more. This morning, I pushed myself to go faster than I normally do. Last weekend, it was a push to go further. Sweat pours down my my face and my heart pounds. And I run. The music plays. And I run. I stare at the blank screen in front of me, lost in my thoughts. Lost in my breathing, lost in the music. And I run some more.

I remembered the woman from 5 years ago. The one that was 20 lbs heavier than this one. The one that couldn’t even walk a km or up the stairs without running out of breath. The one that hated everything about herself. My words were cruel and mean. A look in the mirror was met with a glare and disgust. My thoughts were full of resentment and anger. All. The. Time.

Then…a thought…a small voice…a change…a decision. I decided to ask my best friend to walk with me. Walk in the 2 day, 60 KM Weekend to End Breast Cancer. That was April 2007 when we decided to do something. That first training walk had us short of breath, wondering what the hell were we thinking. But…there were two of us and we needed a change. The small voice begged me for something more. And so we walked. Two other friends joined us and the voice grew stronger.

Those first steps were so much more than training. They were the steps towards something so much bigger. My children’s support shirts say, “My Mom Walks to Save Lives”. It was my own life that I was saving. I had no idea how close I was to the edge. How my hatred had consumed the woman inside me. How it had poisoned my life. How I was dying inside.

Since then, I’ve walked many, many more KM’s. I’ve ridden my bike even more KM’s than that. I’ve pushed myself to try new things that get my heart pounding and my muscles working – even dancing! It is a part of my life. A part of me. It is not something I do “to lose weight”. It is something I do to live. And now I run.

I feel the strength in my legs and my arms. I bound up the stairs. I smile when the doctor comments about the strength of my heart. I enjoy a vitality that I had as a kid. I have energy to be with my kids.

I look in that mirror and see what my husband sees. My eyes see the difference. The voice in my head is less hurtful; is more tender. My thoughts are of all the blessings in my life. I am proud of the challenges I put on my body and it does not fail me. I accept the times that it does. I accept the little bit of “muffin top” that is still there. I admire the stretch marks that are proof of my struggles because I work to overcome them. I smile at the “crow’s feet” around my eyes because I have laughed often and long. I admire the strength in my arms as I am able to hold my children; those children look to me as an example of a life worth living.

My New Love Affair? It is not the running or the riding or the working out. It is not even my children or my husband or my friends.

It is ME. The woman I have become and who is still yet to be.

This is one of the songs from my Running Playlist. “Choose Your Race…And then you RUN”

 

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10 Simple Things

I was inspired while reading this post this morning from My Super Charged Life – 52 Not So Shocking Ways to Change Your Mood – I had a huge smile on my face. I’m on the right track!!

I made some decisions last night (and today) about what I’m going to say Yes to and what I’m saying No to! It is so very liberating!!

I thought I’d point out some of the things on my list that I’ve done to demonstrate what ANYONE can do to change your mood! Most of these are on the 52 List!

  1. Go for a run/walk/jiggle/anything that gets your body moving! It is the BEST therapy, I’m serious!
  2. Shovel snow – remarkably, this actually is very peaceful in the snowy quiet. My brain turns off and I just breathe in that fresh air
  3. Watch a movie that you love – alone or with someone. It’s a distraction as you can be immersed in the story.
  4. Snuggle into the covers and read a book. I LOVE that! The housework can wait!
  5. Play Lego – I was having a ROTTEN day on Sunday. As soon as I said, “screw it!” and sat down with the kids and played Lego for hours, everything else just went away!
  6. Listen – listen to your friend, your spouse, your kids, anyone that is dying to talk to you. Don’t advise, just listen. That is hard for me to do – but when I do it, man, it sure feels good!
  7. Star-gazing – we went star gazing the other night with my daughter’s class. We were all fascinated and learned something new! I can’t wait until summer and we go camping – it’s a new thing I want to learn more of
  8. Laugh. Really laugh. And be silly. Who really cares who’s watching? Like they have nothing better to do than make fun of you and your laugh! Whatever!!
  9. Eat your favorite food – in moderation of course, but really, is it so very terrible to eat something you really, really love? No guilt either people!
  10. Do something you love to do…for me, writing lifts me up. I don’t understand why I keep letting life get in the way and I don’t do it enough. It brings me such happiness….
  11. and a bonus thing – stick your tongue out and look like a dork! My annoying Enzo is on to something here….

Enzo....

What are some of the things you do?

Minimalist Musings

One of my Go-als! for this year is to continue moving forward with becoming more Minimalist. I’ve never really described what that means to me and where I hope to go with it. I thought I’d share that in this post.

I just finished reading a wonderful (and free!) e-book from Faith over at Minimalist at Home (formerly Minimalist Mom) that describes what Minimalism is in an easily understandable way – download and read it – it’s simple, short and sweet! Thanks Faith!

Anyway, I was inspired to write down what Minimalism means to me.

  1. Less stuff – buying fewer things has been the biggest change. Of course, we’ve also “purged” TONS of clothes, toys, kitchen things etc over the year. I used to think I’d just buy containers and “organize” the stuff and that would be better. Yeah, I just had more containers to trip over and reorganize because they’d be emptied. That wasn’t working!
  2. Less work – this has meant STOP bringing work home with me! This has meant less time ranting and raving, less stress and more time doing the work that I really love doing!
  3. Less emails – funny, I actually get A LOT of emails, but I do not let them pile up – my work email had ZERO emails in my inbox when I left for holidays! I kept that up pretty much all year. It means that I am more focused on the ones that matter and literally ignore the ones that don’t.
  4. Less “running errands” – I am shocked how much I DON”T run errands anymore now that I rarely drive anywhere. It has been inconvenient at times, but it certainly has set the priorities of what little “TO-DO’s” really have to get “done”. It has meant being creative in scheduling and birthday gifts and what we participate in.
  5. Less driving has meant more exercise for me. I’ve been a little lazy in the past month due to colder weather, but I did put a lot of miles on my bike and my feet before it got cold and will be hitting the streets again while it’s warmer!
  6. Less scheduling – we are not scheduled in very many things any more – we all “do” less and are not suffering, that’s for sure! There was a time that my daughter did more than 15 hours per week of dance for one example! It was crazy! We were all stressed from the running around. We’ve prioritized into what we REALLY want to do!
  7. Less TV, dishwasher, piles of laundry etc – watching less TV means I read and talk more (though I am on the computer/iPhone a lot still), using the dishwasher less means I’m talking to whoever is helping me, less clothes is less laundry and it’s done regularly so it never piles up anymore – weird! (but awesome!)
  8. Less yelling and freaking out! – it’s amazing how much having less stuff to trip over, less of a schedule to keep and less yelling and more asking nicely has created a much more relaxed house! I’ve noticed that the less I yell, the more they respond and pitch in and the better I feel even when they don’t.

In 2011, I plan on continuing with this process:

  1. More Master Bedroom “Room” – One of the ideas that Faith had before Christmas was completely EMPTYING the bedroom and re-evaluating what got put back. Bruce and I are really excited about that! We’re thinking about getting down to one closet and one dresser for the two of us to share. This means that the second can hold seasonal items and extra blankets. I have tried so many times to turn our bedroom into more of a sanctuary and “retreat”, but so often it ends up being the “dumping ground” – that is my main goal for 2011!
  2. More Time with Hubby – we started official “Date Nights” after our trip to Vegas – we’re continuing with those. This means less time with kids and friends on those nights, but I think we deserve at least two special one-on-one alone times per month! Hopefully, once per week!
  3. More Time with Kids & Family & Friends – I will say “No” to many “commitments” – I will set priorities and do only those things that are priority. This will free up quality time that I will be able to spend with the ones I care about. Sure, there are things that I normally volunteer for, but, it’s time for someone else to step up and take my place. I will let them.
  4. More Exercise Time for Me – I will spend less time at work during my lunch hours and get my butt back to the gym! I fell back into my habit of missing my noon hour workouts to “catch-up” at my desk. No longer!
  5. More Real, Productive Time – when I sit down to work, it will be focused on ONE thing at a time. No more “multi-tasking” at work! Email will only be answered at certain times of the day. I will not be interrupted unless there is an emergency. I will schedule my time and some may not like it, but my workflow has GOT to change! When I sit down to work on a quilt or my business or my writing; I will NOT be tweeting, facebooking, texting, getting distracted in general! FOCUS girl!
  6. More Priority – everything that I buy, do, eat or read, I will be in the moment and THINK first. Do I really need this item? What will I be getting rid of or miss out on if I do that? If I eat this, how will I feel after? Do I need to read one more blog post or book? Everything will be evaluated for it’s TRUE priority in my life.

Those are some of the specifics in my Minimalist Go-als! for the year. I would love to hear what you think of the idea of “Minimalism”!

What do you think? Are there areas in your life that you’re trying to do “more” with “less”? How do you “cut-back”? How does your family feel about this idea? What did you think of Faith’s e-book? (Be sure to let her know!) 🙂 Share in the comments!

How NOT to Get Sick

This morning for some reason, I made a mental note how I’ve not been sick much over the past year. Come to think of it, my family hasn’t been sick much either, thankfully. Some colds here and there, but that’s about it. At least not enough to actually remember being sick. Including the common cold. I wondered about that and thought I’d share some observations.

  1. I started My Happiness Project almost a year ago – Happier = Healthier?
  2. I ramped up my workouts over the past year; I’m in the best shape that I’ve EVER been – Stronger Person = Stronger Immune System?
  3. I don’t clean with a lot of chemicals (and I don’t clean much at all! 😉 ) – Less Chemicals, Less Irritants = Healthier House?
  4. I am a hand-washing guru (I used to be a Med.Lab.Tech.) and refuse to use hand sanitizer – Cleaner Hands = Less Sickness?
  5. I eat a much better diet – Garbage OUT = Good Stuff In?
  6. I don’t get flu shots nor take a bunch of “stuff” (aka – Chemicals) – Let My System Do the Work = Strong System?
  7. I drink more vodka – Alcohol is a sanitizer = No bugs live here!? (Just kidding!!! I don’t drink that much!!)

I did have a head cold a couple weeks ago. That just happened to coincide with me being very negative, depressed, not working out and overall not “NEW” self! Interesting! What’s also interesting about that cold was that I took a couple days off right away and got better in a matter of days instead of the weeks it always took me before.

A couple assumptions about me though:

  1. I grew up on a farm, drinking milk straight from the cow and veggies with the dirt still on them – I have a pretty strong immune system in general
  2. My kids are older now so we’ve been through pretty much most of the early childhood sicknesses
  3. I am not near as stressed out as I used to be which has been proven to make people healthier in general
  4. I have never kept a “super-clean” house, so my family has a pretty tough immune system anyway 🙂
  5. We have some pretty good genes in my family – not much for overall illnesses in general – thanks to God for that

Now, this is just observations in my family and myself. I am not a doctor or anything like that at all. Do what YOU think is best for you and your family.

However, I do think that there is some truth to having a healthier lifestyle and being better able to fight off sickness. That can be proven by the stats.

Anyway, these are things I think about while on my days off! LOL! The life of leisure! I could get used to this! <GRIN> Ooooo! And a song to share (of course!) from one of my favorite Canadian Country artists!

 

The Old Tree House

*** this is a repost of one of my favorite (and most popular) posts. It was originally posted here on October 14th when I had first started being more serious about my blogging. I thought my new readers might like to read some of my “old” stuff 😉

Hanging out with my siblings and my dad on Saturday got me thinking about “the good ol’ days”! I couldn’t wait to grow up and get away from the small town life and away from my annoying family. Boy, was I excited to graduate! I was the oldest as well, so was always feeling “hard done by” because I had to do everything! I’m sure you can hear me now, whining and complaining.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG9XfJxMY8A

Like the girl in the video, I couldn’t wait to turn 18. To be “free”. What I didn’t know was just how hard it was to be a grown up. I miss the simplicity of life back then. I knew where I was going and what I was going to do! My biggest worry was if I was going to be allowed to go out with my friends on Friday night. I had a part time job and growing up on a farm, I knew how to work hard. I always had money and time on my hands.

I miss hanging out with those “annoying” siblings! The great times we had. Waking up on Christmas morning; way too early – even when we were teenagers! It was so early that we weren’t allowed to wake up our parents yet, so the standing rule was to sneak downstairs to my room where we’d play board games for hours and try to guess what was in those presents upstairs! We’d giggle oh so quietly and have such fun playing, never fighting! I’ll bet that my parents knew darn well that we were up, but they were letting us have that time together because it was more important than giving us trouble for being awake too early.

We spent hours playing out in the trees. So many adventures and imaginary games we would play. We built many different “forts”. Each one better than the last from our own imaginations. We must have hauled yards and yards of boards and nailed a million nails. I always wondered why Dad let us do that.

the old treehouse

He probably could have found a better use for all those boards, but he knew what was important. He knew the life lessons we would get from building those tree houses.

It was important for us to learn to work as a team. We had to work together to build our tree house creations. We had to listen to each other’s ideas and let everyone have a say. Each of us contributed as equals.

We had to care about each other. My littlest sister fell out of one of the tree houses we built and got hurt one day. Not badly, but enough. I don’t remember getting into trouble, but I do remember that the incident caused us to plan to make the next one a little safer. Four walls and the door in the floor so that it was harder for someone to fall out. We learned to think about someone besides ourselves.

A big one: We learned from our mistakes. Each tree house we built was a vast improvement from the last. We remembered what we’d done wrong and didn’t repeat it for the next project. The last tree house we built (shown in the picture) was the best one yet. It still stands (though is a little scary now!) and our kids think we were amazing to have built that by ourselves!

Dad didn’t tell us what we’d done wrong, he’d let us learn it for ourselves. He knew that it was important to let us experience it. To let us make mistakes. He could have told us, he could have done it better for us. We learned to pass that on to our own children. All four of us let our children experience life and make mistakes and learn from them rather than doing it for them. A valuable lesson learned.

Most of all, we got to be together and be outdoors. We weren’t sitting in our own little worlds, separate from each other. We weren’t stuck indoors, our noses in a book (though we did like to do that!). We were outside living, rather than reading about it. We got to know our brother and sisters as the great people they are rather than some strangers we lived with for 18 years.

That was the most important lesson learned – we are part of a family and part of each other. We can do great things when we are there for each other.

That is what that old tree house taught us.

Some Truths

I talk about myself a lot on this blog. I try to inspire myself by writing about ways I’m trying to improve. If I inspire someone else along the way, that makes me very happy.

I read a post the other day from Corbett Barr 33 Things I Never Told You (or How to Reintroduce Yourself and Kick Your Watered Down Self in the Ass that he basically reveals quite a few personal truths about himself and calls us to task about being ourself in our writing. It was a good example of just letting go.

Sometimes, I think my posts are too “mushy”, too much sunshine and roses. That isn’t my intention. I want to use my experiences and thoughts to help lift us out of the muck and mire of the every day.

Even me stating that “I think my posts are too ‘mushy’…makes me realize that I am worrying about what others think! Of course I do. I try not too. I talk about being yourself on this blog all the time. But sometimes, it’s not easy.

So, in this post, I want to list some of the ways that I DON”T follow my own advice. Just in case you were thinking that I’m supermom! 😉 (uh,huh, whatever!)

  1. I still have days where I worry that “nobody likes me”. Seriously. How lame!
  2. I buy a chocolate bar when I go grocery shopping and eat it before anyone sees me! Healthy, huh? Same goes for chips and dip sometimes!
  3. I sometimes have VIVID daydreams of terrible things happening to my children and it scares the hell out of me. Why does that happen?
  4. I really think that I will strangle someone if I don’t have my morning coffee. No joke.
  5. I sometimes wish I could just run away and be by myself, away from everything and everyone
  6. I worry that I drink too much. Last Friday, I didn’t drink anything and the cravings were horrible. What does that mean?
  7. I had a lot of scholarships for university and I literally partied it all away. I am very ashamed of that and I know I disappointed many.
  8. I check Facebook and Twitter a lot at work. I’m on the computer waaaayyyy too much. I’m working on that though. It has affected my kids, and that’s not a good thing.
  9. My husband and I have been in serious financial trouble TWICE and have had to have our parents help us out – yeah, that’s embarrassing and not very grown up.
  10. I have held a lot of resentment towards my husband about that and other things. My resentment has caused a lot of problems between us. But, we’re working on that too.
  11. I am sometimes overwhelmed and anxious about all the things I want/have to do (mostly because I have over-extended myself). It is so crippling that I bury myself in a book, computer game or the tv to run away from it. This can sometimes last days until someone or something kicks my ass.
  12. I once had a night when I was so drunk that I don’t remember most of what happened, but I’m pretty sure that I let some guy take advantage of me. That scared the HELL out of me because I totally knew better and bad shit could have happened. I am not proud of that and pray and talk to my teenager about the dangers of that kind of thing. I am terrified that the same thing will happen to my daughter.
  13. I still get jealous of my sisters and their marriages because they don’t have to work; they get to be the moms that I think I should be for my children. I often believe that they are better moms than me because they are home with them. I have worked full time since they were babies and I resent that sometimes.
  14. I really, really am terrified of bats. The summer we went to Nelson, I completely freaked out one morning when I was on the deck by myself and the bats were coming back to roost in the space JUST ABOVE MY HEAD! I panicked actually. Thank God no one saw me.
  15. I am really scared sometimes that I will be stuck in a job that I don’t care about anymore. That I won’t be able to do what I really love because I’m just not good enough. I wonder if it will ever happen and I’ll be free of the “day job”.
  16. I am ashamed of myself for not being thankful for all that I have. There are days where I wish for this and that instead of seeing all that I have been given.

Anyway, there’s just some of the things that show you my imperfections. My truths that Ronna inspires me to think about.

Just to be ME

There is something else I’ve learned on my Happiness Project in recent months: that is that I am allowed to just be me!

I don’t have to apologize, I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. I can just be Shawna. The boring, weird, sensitive, prim, proper me. Well, those are words that I’ve been referred to as, but I don’t necessarily think I am.

I read a post at Motherese last week about how whether our views of movies change over time. I had commented how I don’t like certain kinds of movies. Violent or overly gory/scary shows, particularly those that involve violence against women or children, upset  me. I have learned that I don’t have to watch that stuff. If my husband wants to watch that kind of movie, fine, but I can choose to leave the room and do something else. I don’t have to apologize for not wanting to see it.

I listen to music that uplifts me and inspires me. It might be classical, it might be a country song, it might be a rock ballad, and yes, it might even be Miley Cyrus. Lyrics are very important to me – it is poetry put to music. I don’t like listening to songs that scream at me or upset me because of the language they use in the lyrics. Again, I don’t have to listen to it! I can change the song. And I don’t have to apologize. I don’t make other people listen to it, that’s why I have an iPod. I might post those kinds of songs here on my blog, but again, you don’t have to listen nor do you have to agree with me.

I write a lot of “sappy” posts. I talk about love and feelings a lot. I read blogs from amazing women (and some men) that inspire me. Blogs that help me explore my faith and beliefs. Blogs that empower women and make me feel good to be one. Many of these posts, I share with everyone on my Facebook wall. In fact, I try to share a lot of positive messages on my wall. I don’t have to apologize for these either. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t even have to read them. But it is my right to do it. My right to try to spread a little light around. It does no harm.

When people say or do things that I find offensive, I can tolerate it for a little while, but then I just leave the room or talk to someone else. I don’t usually say anything to that person/people because I try to avoid confrontation. Plus, it’s my opinion, and my issue, so I don’t want to force that on anyone else.

Lately, I been finding that I don’t want to even  be around those kind of people. And I think that’s my right as well. If I don’t want to listen to chauvinistic or racial slurs, you know what, I don’t have to! If the conversation is offensive to me, I don’t have to participate in it! I don’t even have to listen to it. If I don’t want to be around people that talk like that, I don’t have to! I can choose!

I read a post this week from Bindu about the joy of the unfriend button. Music to my ears. If a relationship does not bring me joy or uplift me or support me, why do I think I need that relationship? If being around that person drains me or makes me sad or even hurts me, why do I continue with it? I shouldn’t have to.

And so, I choose to be around those people that want to know the real me. People that understand me or at least try to. People that give, not just take. People that lift me up and support me in my crazy adventures and ideas. People that I can lean on, but that know they can lean on me too.

People that understand that I don’t like to watch those movies. That I listen to sappy music, that I believe in God and exploring my faith and life, that I don’t enjoy conversations that leave a bad taste in my mouth or hurt my feelings. That I have feelings. Very strong ones.

I will surround myself with people that love me, that listen to me, that support me, that inspire me.

I have the right to just be ME.