Un-stucking the Rut

Un-stucking the Rut

I never thought I would say this…

But after weight training for almost 30 years, I AM FINISHED.

I hate it.

For those readers who have followed me for quite some time, this is probably shocking news.

Training with weights has been an important part of my life, and it has helped me to reach a number of personal goals.  But recently, I got fed up; disenchanted with what I was doing; and I realized that it was time to move on.

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Decision Paralysis

Decision Paralysis

Buying toothpaste is hard. I mean, there’s Crest, Aquafresh, Colgate, Tom’s Natural Crap-Tasting Paste….
And then there’s tartar control, whitening, fluoride-injected, plaque-fighting, breath-blasting, and on and on and on!

On top of that, price is also a consideration. Does this “value pack” really have any sort of value, or is it just a sales gimmick? Or what about the coupon pasted to the front of the carton, urging cost-conscious shoppers to, “Save Now!”

A trip to your local, big-box variety store’s toothpaste section will likely span an entire wall and six racks of shelves. This kind of experience leaves me glaze-eyed and full of anxiety.  Which one should I pick? Oh my god, what if I pick the wrong one?!?! What if it doesn’t leave my mouth clean or kill gingivitis? What if when I smile, friends and strangers alike see mounds of gross plaque stuck between my teeth??? What if my teeth aren’t glistening?!?

Prozac, anyone?!?

I have Decision Paralysis. 

Deciding between a seemingly unlimited number of choices for even the dumbest of things like toothpaste brings me anxiety. 

So imagine the complexity of starting an online business. 

This is my current project. And while I have a really good handle on the service I’m going to offer, I have ZERO website-building savvy. And I kinda need a website to build my business. 

And so I asked around a little.  Should I build the site with Weebly? After all, Weebly was founded by a couple of Penn State grads. I should support the cause, right?!? Or maybe WordPress? And if WordPress, wordpress.org or WordPress.com?  Yes, there is a difference. A big one. Should I use Kajabi? Thinkific? Iy-yi-yi…I don’t know!

Sound foreign? Join the club!

Then there’s this thing called a domain name. Well where do I get one of those, and what is it, and why do I need it? And I should get a private or shared SSL certificate. Huh? And make sure my site is “SEO”. Say what?!?

A host. 

A server. 

Wait. Am I managing a restaurant?!?

What is all this crap?!?

So I asked Google. 

Googs provided some answers, but then more decisions had to be made. 

Turns out that there are multiple providers of the aforementioned “thingees”. GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Hostgator, Bluehost. And of course, this stuff that I don’t really understand but really need doesn’t come without a price, so then cost comparisons had to be made. 

And when I’d had enough of my own Decision Paralysis, I threw my hands up in the air, and surrendered to the possibility that whatever I choose, I might make a mistake. 

I might choose incorrectly. 

My site, my business might suck. 

It could go horribly wrong. 

But it could also go terrifically right. 

It might offer me the financial freedom I have craved in order to get out from under a boatload of paper grading that I must endure in my primary work. 

It might offer me the opportunity to travel. 

And to be a bonafide “business woman”, not that there’s anything wrong with being a “professor,” but I just want to spread my career wings. 

You see, the danger of Decision Paralysis is that sometimes, we can get so bogged down with comparing choices that we completely forget to–or put off– decide (deciding). To choose. 

To face the fear of failure, and just plow through it anyway, and to just have faith that it will all work out for the best. 

So I picked GoDaddy. My site’s domain name and managed WordPress.org platform and SSL certificate and globbity glob gibberish boombah is “all-inclusive” with my GoDaddy subscription. Or something like that. I don’t really know. But I’m about to find out. 

Buying toothpaste is hard. 

But not as hard as having to replace a mouthful of teeth if I’d never bought the toothpaste in the first place. 

Happy Babies and Flying Pigeons

Pfft,  yoga.  I’m NOT doing yoga.  I’m not doing all that stretchy crap and “om shit.”  And those women who take yoga? Ew.  Not me.  They’re into all that organic stuff and Buddha and Lululemon and they only drink Voss water and they will NEVER want to associate with someone like ME!

I’ve been a gym rat since I was 15.  My high school basketball coach got my teammates and I started on a weight training program back in the 80s, which was kind of revolutionary for back then.  I started on Nautilus equipment for a time and then eventually moved to free weights (Big Girl Toys!).  But I was hooked from that first workout.

Over the years, I got more set in my weighted ways, and I got more and more engrossed in lifting, challenging myself to move heavy weights that most women (and most men, probably) even half my age couldn’t move.

My ego started to take over as I became more fixated on the poundage that I could lift rather than how my body felt or how it responded to the weights I was lifting.

Over time, I was finding that my body, especially my back and hips, were incredibly achy.  At just over 40 years old, I was having a hard time getting out of bed.

But this continued for quite some time.  I’d ignore the pain and just pound the weights.

Until I couldn’t anymore. 

In the PYP Studio, readying to get my Zen on!
 A friend dragged my ass to yoga one day.

Yes, yoga.

At first, I resisted, thinking all of the aforementioned.

And now?

OMG!

I attend a restorative yoga class taught by Kerry Bestwick at PYP Studio.

Talk about disspelling every single myth I believed about yoga.

First of all, it’s not “om-y.”  I don’t sit there, humming and praying to the spirits or gods or whatever.

Restorative yoga is more about, well, restoration.  Yes, it’s stretchy, but it focuses on lengthening my achy body parts.  When I leave there, I feel like I’ve given myself a massage.

Second of all, “these women” ARE just like me.  They each have a story– some of them a very painful one.  Maybe some prefer organic foods and some wear Lululemon, but so what?  I’ll eat organic foods, I’m just not attached to them.  And I’m a Nike and UnderArmor whore, so what’s the difference? Maybe one costs more than the other, but who cares? I’m still a label freak.  Maybe not one of my finer qualities, but hey– we all have our vices.  And I’ve not seen a single bottle of Voss.  Instead, everyone, just like me, brings in their plastic RubberMaid bottle that they probably found on sale, just like me, at the grocery store.

And yes, “these women” associate with the little old likes of me.  In fact, after a few months’ hiatus, a number of women– and the teachers– were so welcoming when I’d returned.  Many remember my name and have asked how I am doing.  They show an interest.

Not only have the myths been dispelled but the benefits I have acquired have been insurmountable.  The poses have even helped with my lifting, as my hips have loosened, thus improving my ability to squat and deadlift.

But perhaps even overshadowing ALL of that is how yoga has impacted my mind.  Kerry is an exceptional “therapist” as yoga instructor.  When she puts us through the poses, she talks to us.  I’m sure there’s some yoga word to describe what she’s doing, but in my terminology, she simply offers a healing sermon or lecture or talk.  I don’t even know what to call it, actually.  But she calms me down.  She helps me to stop, breathe, and remember that all I can control is my breath.  She helps me to focus, to see the bigger picture, to not get so fixated on the minutiae of daily life. Her practice has been integral to my own healing– both physically and mentally.

I still don’t know what an “asana” is, and I don’t know who the Yoga Gods are, and I always thought my Third Eye was Blind (hehehe), but I do know this: change is good.  It’s good to challenge your preconceived notions.  It’s good to keep an open mind about things you don’t understand. I can still hit the weights, but adding yoga is just as strengthening. 

Namaste.

Five Simple Strategies: #4 One Small Step

At the beginning of every new year, Americans put tremendous pressure on themselves to set resolutions.  One of the top resolutions is “I’m going to lose weight!”  And we start out in full blast mode, and we get going, and all of the sudden…we fizzle out.

Why?

I think it’s because we start “too big.”  The goal of “losing weight’ encompasses so much.  Not only is there exercise to consider, but there’s diet too.  And time management– how am I going to figure out how to get a workout in during the day?  And what gym am I going to join?  Is a gym even right for me?  What will I wear?  What will others think of me?

And if you’re anything like me, you probably start to overthink the answers to all of those questions, and that thinking becomes paralyzing, and you end up doing nothing–fizzling out– because you grow frustrated.

Guess what– you’re normal.

Continue reading “Five Simple Strategies: #4 One Small Step”

When the Wind Blows Up, Just Stay– Lessons from the Luna Moth

How in the world did that vine end up clear over there on that deck spindle, I wondered as I neared the sliding doors leading out onto the deck.

Wait.  What the fuck is that?!?!

Upon closer inspection, I grew fearful.  A large, terrifying-looking bug had attached itself to the deck and I was frightened, somewhat for myself, but more so for Bella (my Rottweiler) who had joined me.  Scared that she might get bit by whatever this magnificent creature was, I sent her back inside while I continued to investigate.  What is this, I wondered.

I posted the picture to Facebook and asked that very question.  Soon, I would come to learn that it was a Luna Moth.  A born researcher, I then turned to all things Google to find out whether or not this was something to be scared of…and what I found out was astonishing, surreal, and symbolic and poignant…

“In spiritual terms, they signify rebirth and new beginnings. Because they gravitate towards light in the darkness of the night, the lunar moth are seen as a symbol of spiritual transformation, of heightened awareness, and a striving towards truth.”

Say what?!?!

And so I returned back to the deck to observe this gift of nature.  I sat, wrote, and cried while watching how it clung to that railing…and here’s what I wrote…

I want to touch it, but I wouldn’t dare.  Not yet, anyway, for this creature is far too stunning to disturb and risk its flying away.  its antennae, like feathers of a down pillow, its back like a fluffy bird, its wings spread wide, with their appearance drawing such a resemblance to the vines growing in the flower box just above it.  Those thin wings, so delicate, paper-like even, like a sheet of vellum even, they flutter when I draw closer, as though this creature is frightened or nerved, just as was I upon first discovery.  This moth is a creature of the night, yet here she stays, in broad daylight.  She just STAYS, clinging to this rail.  Its markings seem painted, in perfect symmetry.  I draw my finger to her delicate wings and she spreads them further, revealing another set of markings that are just as fantastic as the others. I tenderly touch her furry back and delicate wings, and while my touch is foreign to her, she flutters and STAYS.  Surely she is not comfortable with my human touch.  Surely between my touch and the bright light of day, she must feel outside her element.  And yet, she STAYS.  The wind picks up and blows under her wings, revealing her long, graceful body.  And against that breeze, she clings to that rail; she does not allow that wind to carry her away or cause her to fall.  She STAYS.  I shall not disturb this magnificent creature. It is not my job.  Who am I to step in and interfere with what this moth needs to do and where she wants to be.  My job is to simply observe this remarkable beauty, to record it, and to remember that when the wind draws up, to just cling; to be steadfast; and to STAY.
Thank you, Kerry, you teach me this every Wednesday.  And I see it– the importance of staying, even when the wind draws up.

Getting Back on the Proverbial "Horse"

I’ve been thinking about this blog all day long…

Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about it for much longer than that….I’ve been thinking about it ever since I stopped posting to it.  It just so happens that today, I really got the writing itch. I’ve got things to say, and it’s time to start saying them again– for the sake of my sanity, for the sake of my continued growth.

It’s been a month since I’d stopped blogging.  And I’d stopped for several reasons.  One was that some of the things I was writing were being misinterpreted by some loved ones and it was causing them further grief and anguish. Another reason was that so many things–good and bad– were happening in my life, and I didn’t know how to write about them.  I had severe writer’s block.  I probably needed the time off.

But this post is my re-entry.  I’ve written about my grief, and I’ve shared my pain.  And so many of you have responded to that grief and have helped me as I heal.  I am grateful for that.  So very grateful.  But I wish to share my triumphs, my celebrations too.  I have fought– so very hard– to not allow being a “widow” be the thing that defines my very existence.  It is only a part of my story.  A very painful part of my story.  But just a part.  It is one that I continue to embrace, do not ignore, do not push under the rug.  But it cannot be the thing that affects every decision I make in this new life.  And so it will not.

Here’s what I’ve been up to in the past month…

Pre-judging.
I cried when I walked off stage.

I made it to the competition stage!  It was an exceptionally stressful peak week.  Some things had fallen apart in  my personal life and that caused an enormous amount of unwanted stress.  Stress during peak week is the equivalent of holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger, which is to say, it’s not good.  As a result, I hit the stage with a body that was great by “normal” standards, but holding water and too soft according to bodybuilding standards.  Nevertheless, I pursued.  The day was long, hard, and not without tears– many tears.  But I’d made it.  Even brought home a trophy.  But more importantly– I succeeded because I’d made it to that stage.  I saw it through.

A week later, I vacationed in California.  This was the first vacation that I’d taken in over ten years!  It was also my first airplane trip.  Yes, that’s right– this old girl had never been on an airplane.  Including connecting flights, I’ve now been on four!  Best part about flying– take-off.  I LOVE the speed!  I giggled, like a little girl, on all four take-offs coz the speed was breathtaking!  Imagine if an airplane could be like a convertible and you could feel the wind zip through your hair while speeding up for take-off.  How awesome would THAT be?!?!  (remember– with a convertible, the roof goes back up; I’d expect the roof of the aircraft to go back up as we would rise further and further into the sky.  DUH!!! LOL!)

The beautiful skyline that is Santa Monica.
Off in the distance– the famous Santa Monica Pier.

I saw LA, Santa Monica, Venice, Malibu, Hollywood, and San Diego.  The West Coast is the most stunning place I’ve ever been.  I was surrounded by God’s great beauty.  A drive to Malibu featured some of California’s most awesome terrain, as the highway from Santa Monica leading into Malibu featured the Pacific Ocean to my left and an assortment of hilly mountains with million dollar homes nestled within them to my right.

Rodeo Drive–
the most intimidating place on Earth!

And while in California, for the first time in seven months, I felt “normal.”  There was no stress.  There was nothing to think about.  All I had to do was just live, live in the moment, and be grateful for my environment as well as my company.

Which brings me to the next most relevant “development” in my life– “my company.” I met someone.  And he is kind and gentle and understanding and he “gets me.”  And perhaps, more importantly, I am happy.  I think I deserve that.

There is no timeline for grief.  There is only one person’s journey.  There is only one way that is “right” for the person on that journey.  I am learning to accept that, without apologizing for who I am becoming or explaining what I am doing.  I cannot live anyone else’s grief journey; that is solely the responsibility of the person experiencing that grief.  This blog is about my story.  It always has been.  And that should not change; it will not change; and I make no apology for that either.

I am coming into a new normal.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten.  It doesn’t mean I’m “fixed.”  But I am learning a lot about who I was, who I am, and who I want to become.  And I am so happy that one day, several months ago, I chose life.  Against all odds, I chose to get out of bed and to make something of my life.

After all, isn’t that what we’re all here for anyway?