Wonder

Nope. It’s not Halloween, but I am dressing up.

It’s superhero day at the gym where I work and I went as Wonder Woman!

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I do love a good costume/halloween/dress up day as evidenced by the lengths I will go to for a laugh! Exhibits A, B, and C:

As I slipped on my bright blue lycra and golden glitter headband, I marveled at just how much fitness has brought to my life. I have met some extraordinary people that I otherwise would never have crossed paths with. That in and of itself is pretty dang awesome. The costume fun is a great side benefit!

I’ve contemplated the paths not taken many times and always wind up feeling humbled, overwhelmed, and in awe by the fact that I GET to do what I love and help others find the fun in fitness. What a tremendous gift it is to be able to do what you love.

With that said, I went, taught a fun Tacky Tuesday Spin class (showtunes and soundtracks), but was the ONLY ONE who came in a superhero costume.

Go figure.

I have impulsive tendencies, I admit. When I commit – I’m all in. Why adopt 1 small dog when you can have a traveling circus of 3? Why stick a toe in the water when you can jump in cannonball style? If you’re going to have a crazy costume – own that. Rock it and ride that bike like you stole it – blue tutu and all! Ha!

Why not, indeed.

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I See You

The gym is such a weird, wonderful place. It is a prime location for spectacular people watching opportunities. Working in the gym affords me more time than most to observe, and of course work with, all types of people.

I want you to know I see you.

I see you putting in the time. I see you watching, picking up new things, learning how to do this exercise thing. You’ve been really working. Stick with it. Your consistency will pay off.

Even when it’s hard and it would be easier to just skip it. When you can easily just get lost in the day-to-day busy, or the phone, the family, the computer, or your work. Don’t quit.

Do. Not. Quit.

While you may not see it now, you are making progress. You are starting to realize that those negative voices are not speaking the truth. Keep fighting back. That voice that whispers, “It’s too hard…” and “What’s the use?” will be proven wrong. It’s not too hard. You can do hard things. You’ve done hard before. You’ve survived.

And you will again.

Ask yourself, do you ever regret moving your body? Have you ever gone home and thought, “Well, that was a waste of time. I don’t think I’ll do that again.” No, you haven’t. While not every workout has been Earth shattering, you always feel better when you get moving. You know this. Keep going forward. Progress. Not perfection.

I see you.

I see you contemplating. You have a fork in the road. Don’t opt for the easy way. In the long run, it’s not easy at all. It’s not easy to not have mobility. It’s not easy feeling uncomfortable in your own body. It isn’t easy to have zero energy to get through the day. Easy isn’t easy.

Do the work. You have the tools. Seek out information. Trust your intuition. Learn. Keep moving forward. Don’t quit. Do. Not. Quit.

I see you.

And you are worth it.

All the Feels

One day I decided to apply for a job and chase a dream.

Scratch that. I procrastinated for 2 years because I was scared of failing. I stuck a toe in the water, but got my teeth kicked in. A year later, I carried around an application in my car for a week waiting. Waiting for confidence, the right moment, or whatever. I was just plain scared. I don’t “look” like a trainer. I’m not 20 and a size 2. But I filled out that application.

While filling it out, one of the fitness directors came over to chat with me. He took a chance on a stay at home mom with a dream. Shortly after I started teaching spin classes again, I was hired as a personal trainer. Had it not been for this initial conversation, among many other circumstances leading up to it, I would probably still be waiting. Waiting for confidence, waiting to feel like I’d “earned” the right to chase this dream.

Now I’m over a year in, and as the minions are closing out this year of school, I am stepping away from the personal training and will be continuing with only the group training. I still get to do work I love, but I will have more time for my family. It is certainly a bittersweet transition as I look back on this year and these wonderful people I am lucky enough to work with everyday.

Clients have lost weight and they’ve indeed gotten stronger. But it’s the non-scale victories that give me goosebumps, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, and feel all the feels.

“I took down my daughter while wrestling. She got up and said, ‘Wow mom! You’re strong!'”

Transforming from “I’m not comfortable in a bathing suit” to “Look at me. Who cares? I don’t care. I work.”

Going from: “I’m nervous about trying out for the team. What if I’m not good enough?” to “Coach singled me out and said, ‘Do it like her – she’s the hardest worker here!'” grinning as she relays what coach said  because she moved through the fear of the unknown and did something scary, and is excelling at it.

Chatting at the end of a spin class about how so much of fitness is not about the physical. Letting new people know that, “it’s hard at first, but keep coming back. It’s the sitting in the mental stuff and working through it. Clearing out the can’t and bringing in the CAN.” I got to watch as others spoke up about what fitness has done for them, what it means to them.

Being texted pictures with the caption: “I bought a new swimsuit and I feel amazing in it! Thank you!”

Being shown pictures with ear to ear grins instead of hiding behind the camera, or behind other people.

“Oh! I love that TRX. I can’t wait to tell my husband what I did today! That was so hard. But I did it!” – 65 year old client.

Laughing with clients when they say they hate me as they smile at me and roll their eyes. (But yet they keep coming back…)

“I can’t believe I made it through that class! You never make it easy. You tell me what I need to hear, even if I don’t like it at the time.”

“I’m signing up for my first 5k. I can’t wait!”

“I haven’t done a headstand in forever! It’s kind of scary to be upside down,” she said giggling. “But I did it!”

“I’m off of blood pressure and diabetes meds! All gone!”

“I almost walked out. It was so tough. But when you said, ‘We aren’t quitters in this room’ I knew I could do it. Thank you! I’m so glad I stuck it out!”

“It took me 12 weeks, but I can now stand up every time you do and keep up in spin! I leave here floating!”

“Can I get in an extra session with you this week? This is SO fun!”

“I just feel so good. Not only do I feel better, my clothes fit better, but I realize how bad I felt before. Four months ago, I was such a different person. And the person I am today was screaming to get out.”

Being a witness to the deep stuff that tends to happen – the hard stuff. Being thanked for doing my job. A job that enables me to witness courage, to witness determination, to witness stomping fear in the face. Being humbled by the stories of these amazingly strong people. “Today I was able to take off my own shirt without help, I’m getting stronger and my balance is better,” a client (who happens to be recovering from an accident that has her in a wheelchair) told me.

“I have hope again.”

These are just a few of the things I will never, ever forget.

I’ve been told, “I hear you in my head when I’m working out now. Ugh!”

I remember saying that to my trainer. (I still hear her screaming at me “DON’T QUIT! QUIT QUITTING ON YOURSELF!” You can check out her awesome self at DumBell Fitness!)

I know well those voices that propel us further when we just want to give up. I’m humbled and beyond grateful for the opportunity to be that voice for others, if only for this season. While my voice may be stuck in their heads, their strength, their tenacity, and their willingness to learn will forever be in mine.

Here’s to the next chapter!

Here’s What I Want You to Know….A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Sweet Girl,

You will be 5 in just a few short days! The time goes by so fast (and slow simultaneously) I know that I’m going to blink and you are going to be asking me for the car keys. *Shudder* While it may be awhile for some of these, there are some nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on to you. Life stuff, girl stuff, love stuff – a bunch of stuff. Growing up is hard. Here is my advice for just some of it…

Make up

Right now you are far more interested in dirt, keeping up with your brother and showing me how strong you are. You are starting to express yourself in more sparkles, pink, tutus, and purple. There will no doubt come a day when you want to wear makeup to go along with your creative outfits. Understand that no matter what other people do, when it comes to make up – do your own thing. Less is more. Trust me. Unless you are in the school play on a stage, you don’t have to cake it on. Use make up to enhance, not mask.  You are beautiful just as you are. You don’t need makeup before you engage the world. Even if I wasn’t your mother, I would think you are beautiful without it. Seriously. As cliche as it sounds, true beauty will shine outward from within. Make up doesn’t make you. You make you.

Watch this (when you are old enough to handle a sprinkling of language):

Fitness

Find something that you love and do it. Regularly. I don’t care if you don’t like the same things I do. You’re you. Find what you are passionate about. Soccer? Gymnastics? Yoga? Softball? Do what you love, not what you think your father or I want you to do. Finish what you start. If you decide you want to run track, but decide you don’t like it after 3 days – sorry. You need to finish that season. You don’t have to do it again, but we finish what we start. Even when it’s hard. Sometimes it takes a while to fall in love with an activity.

Those Girls

You know the ones. The girls that are always perfectly put together, they have the greatest style that appears effortless.  Their lives seem amazing compared to yours. Trust me, that’s not the case. They have their own insecurities, worries and problems just like everyone else. Don’t try so hard to be cool that you stop being yourself. Popularity wanes. It’s fickle. If you have to compromise what you believe is right to gain approval – they aren’t worth it. They aren’t worth YOU.

Listen to this song:

Crying

Like me, you are a deep feeler. Things affect you. There is nothing wrong with that. If you need a good cry to feel better – do it. Tears are cathartic. Have your moment. It is far easier to cry when you need to, than to bottle up your feelings and not deal with stuff. Even when it’s painful. The only way is through the pain. Learn to sit in the uncomfortable. It will be okay.

Significant Others

They say that 90% of your happiness or misery is a result of who you choose to spend your life with. I agree. You can go through the roughest of times, but clinging to each other while life is chaotic can be what gets you through to calmer waters. You may not be besties with your spouse, but you should like them as people. You should want to spend time with them, even if you aren’t doing anything special. The romance and infatuation of the beginning of any relationship will fade over time. When the adrenaline of falling in love subsides, be sure there is a relationship to nurture when that happens.

Choose someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Do not stand for anything less. Like Maya Angelou says, “When people show you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Look for someone who makes you laugh. Laughter will see you through all kinds of things.

Don’t buy into the lie that you have to be with someone to “be complete”. No one will complete you. You complete you. There is no one true soul mate. There are people with whom you will be more compatible than others. When you choose someone – choose that person over and over again every day. Love is a verb.

Motherhood

If you choose to have kids, you’ll have so many ideas of what you want to do and how you’ll do things. Things you swear you’d NEVER do, things that you think you would ALWAYS do. Be wary of the always and never statements. I’ve found I’ve had to eat my words on more than one occasion for all the times I swore “I would never….”. Trust your instincts, even if it doesn’t feel like you have them. You do.

You will make mistakes. Lots of them. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. No parent is perfect. It’s okay. When you mess up, ‘fess up. Apologize. Make it right.

Listen to your children. Hear them. Don’t be so busy that you miss them growing up. You will have far more distractions than I did growing up. I feel like it will be even more challenging for your children to keep the distractions at bay long enough to grasp the really good things in life. I will not tell you to “enjoy every moment”, because truthfully, some moments just bite. They do. But you will get through them. Your kids will grow you in all sorts of ways you never thought possible. And you will know the meaning of unconditional love. You’ll think you know before, but when you hold that child, your child in your arms – you will feel the depth of love that you have never felt before.

Tattoos

Not until you’re 18. Don’t get one just because. The longer you wait the better. Make it mean something.

Work

When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, think in your mind, “What do I want to do?” Your occupation is not who you are. It doesn’t define you. When trying to figure out what you want to do for work, ask yourself the following:

What am I passionate about?

How can I use what I’m passionate about to help others?

Is there a way to make a living doing this?

What you think you want to do at 18 will undoubtedly be different than 28. And perhaps even 38. Your interests will change. What ever lights your fire and sparks your passion may change. That’s okay. Most likely there will be a common thread among your interests. Be enthusiastic, optimistic and courageous. If it’s a little scary – that’s often a good sign. Whatever you choose – when you do it, it shouldn’t feel like work. It’s a livelihood.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for you!

I love you and always will.

Happy (almost) 5th Birthday!

On Confidence

In the latest WordPress prompt, they ask us if we are good at what we do, and what would we like to be better at. I find it coincidental* that this subject pops up right when I’ve been discussing the subject of fear and confidence with a few different friends lately. Usually when things like this pop up in various areas, it’s time to write about it!

*Note: I do not believe in coincidences in general. Most of the time, I think circumstances can come together to either push us into where we need to be going, or pull us out of where we have no business being!

Confidence. Ugh. Even the word tends to illicit the response of “fake it ’till you make it!” As I have been reflecting on my last experiences in teaching fitness classes, I definitely lacked confidence. I was trying to fake it, but I was intimidated. Intimidated by the instructor I was taking over for, as well as the experienced gym members who let me know they had “been through a few instructors and weeded out the ones they didn’t like”. Yeah. Awesome. While that class wasn’t necessarily what anyone would call successful, there were lessons o’plenty! Even hard, gut-wrenching experiences shape us for other opportunities down the road, despite our inability to foresee them. (My current gig has been the exact opposite, wonderfully!)

When we are young, everyone asks us “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Who the heck knows? When you have no life experience – how are you supposed to know what you’d like to do or try? I think better questions would be:

“What lights your fire?”
“What do you think you are good at?”
“What can you contribute to your community?”

When I was 5 I wanted to be a performer. An actress, a dancer, a singer – give me a stage! Unfortunately, anyone who has heard me knows I am unable to carry a tune. Growing older, other talents and passions came and went. As a teenager and young adult, the common thread in every job/career I have worked is teaching. I am a teacher by nature. My mother is a teacher by nature. As parents, we are teachers. I love it. I loved that lightbulb moment when while peer-tutoring math in high school, the student lit up when she finally grasped that algebra concept. Easing a new hire into the ropes of her new job – when it was plain she was nervous, then years later offers thanks for making her look up answers herself, so she now knows how to manage and lead her own staff. It’s magic when that happens. Helping other people learn to help themselves. Enter the vehicle of fitness and getting my own health on track – and voila!

Discussing the possibility of running a marathon, a friend recently expressed the desire, but lacks the guarantee of possibility. I know she can. I have no doubt. But, like many of us before any new distance or challenge, we doubt ourselves. We get in our heads about whether it’s possible, instead of making plans to succeed. Why do we do that? We ALL do it. The thought of running another one scares me, too. What if I do worse? Or don’t finish? What if….what if….what if…..?

But what if you kill it?! Wouldn’t it be better to try and stumble, then to always wonder what if? Who might you inspire in the process?

While I would like to say that confidence has come with the knowledge of knowing my skill set, and just like that – life is suddenly perfect. it’s just not the case. It doesn’t work that way. I was TERRIFIED of leading my own bootcamp. Would I be any good? Would anyone show up? Would they do the work? Some dear friends who were more than supportive of my efforts and gave me a little confidence to try. And a little more confidence came. Some set backs, some getting in my own way, distractions, and life. Two steps forward, 1 step back, but persisting anyway. What I’ve found through the process is 2 things:

1.) Confidence comes only when I take a scary first step.

2.) Slow and steady wins the race. I may not have hit all the goals in the time frames I wanted to, but it is coming together, just as it should. Sometimes patience really is a virtue, dang it!

2015 in our world is the year of scary. Scary, exhilarating, confidence-enducing – ACTION. Instead of saying, “I’m planning on…” or “I’m going to….” or “Someday….” It’s now.

Right now.

What scares you, but secretly excites you?!

Go do it!

(Even if you’re terrified!)

Back to Real Life

Sigh.

I had a feeling this would happen. I just didn’t expect it so soon. Sitting in the airport, drinking a lovely cup of coffee I am missing my my family something fierce. I can’t wait to get back to them, to our home, and our life.

It has been a fun weekend, awesome to catch up with and meet new friends, and a much-needed reset button for me. Everyone needs a break, if anything just to step back and gain some perspective.

There’s a story that goes something like if everyone stood in a circle and put their troubles, worries and problems in a pile and trade it for someone else’s, virtually everyone takes their own right back. Perhaps it’s familiarity – we’d rather keep what we have and what we know.

I highly doubt it is reciprocal, but spending time with my single friend affords me to peek into a life I might have lived. It’s fun to wonder what I would be doing and where I might have lived given different circumstances.

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While it’s fun to travel, living out of suitcases on an on-going basis holds no appeal to me. Being in a city, eating late dinners in bustling restaurants, adult conversations and evening cocktails was a blast. But for my everyday, I really love watching a show, cuddling with my kids (or chasing them), and spending quiet evenings (after the kids go to bed) with my husband. Hotel fitness centers get the job done, but I much prefer a trail off the beaten path to get my sweat on. Having access to museums, restaurants, spas and quality shopping are wonderful, but I just don’t think I am built for a life lived in a city. After a while it feels like I can’t breathe. It just gets too people-y out.

I love a place where I can look at the stars in the evening. I love having access to the ocean. I love running in a wide open space, on a trail in the woods, or hiking in the mountains. I like being outside in a space not man made.

I cherish my dear friend and always smile as I ask her about her life, her work and her travels. It’s always fun and exciting to hear about her adventures and her take on random “talent”. I can appreciate how hard she works. After my mind wanders in that direction, playing “What If?” for a while, I find myself immediately in that circle grabbing my life right back.

Big Dreams

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Dreams are scary.

Especially the big ones.

The ones you know in your gut are the right ones, but the how-to seems just out of reach. Or really far out of reach. I’ve heard it said that you have to figure out what you love to do, then figure out how to make a living at it. Then it will never seem like work. I know I never want to punch a clock and do a j.o.b. that I’m not passionate about.

I became a stay at home parent so I could parent my children, be here for all the littles and bigs, and do the whole mom thing the way I wanted. As I look out over the next 10 years, I am asking myself what it is I want to do and how to lay that foundation now. Plus, my husband keeps threatening to “put me back to work” when he retires, so I better get busy planning!

It’s a big dream that a few short years ago, I would have laughed at as it wouldn’t have even been on my radar at the time. Sometimes I think dreams work like that.

I’m dreaming big, and it’s exciting.

And absolutely terrifying!

What are your big-sort-of-scary-dreams?