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Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of “Yet”

Could this be you crossing the finish line? (Photo courtesy of free Microsoft Word clip-art)
Could this be you crossing the finish line? (Photo courtesy of free Microsoft Word clip-art)

Yesterday, was very special.  I hung out with my best friend, helping her do some shopping for her mother who is in the beginning stages of dementia.  She’s the same age that my mother would be if she were still living. I haven’t shopped for a mother (other than myself) for 30 years, and it was difficult to hold back tears while watching her mom’s face beam with delight as she put away her new supplies.

There are some things that are “nevers.”  I will never, in this life, care for my elderly mother. I will never brush her hair, never buy her new clothes, and never get beaten at Gin Rummy by her again. Never.

Please don’t think that I use the example of my mother morbidly, or to make anyone sad, myself included.  I use this example to illustrate the monumental gravity of the word never. Anyone who’s lost a loved one knows that death equals some weighty and permanent nevers.

After, visiting with my friend’s mom for a few hours, I headed to the gym to get the rest of my day’s 10,000 steps in.  The padded track is on the second floor where the exercise studios are located.  As I walked on the inner “slow lane,”  I couldn’t help but notice the runners gracefully sprinting past me in the outer “fast lane.”  Their well honed muscles, their fluid movements, and their oneness with the track, made me yearn to be like them.  As I passed the classrooms, I saw people dizzily spinning at speeds that I couldn’t imagine reaching.  I watch a core class doing TRX Training  that looked virtually impossible.  I spied men and women in an X-treme Aerobics class moving with a pace and steps that seemed unreachable.  Then I found myself thinking a dreadful thought–one that I’ve work so hard to shut out of my mind’s recesses; “I could NEVER do that!”  I didn’t just think it once; I had a never for every activity on that second floor. In fact, I walked and entire lap lost in my own personal Neverland!

Luckily, I mindfully “checked myself before I wrecked myself!”  The next lap, I changed my way of thinking.  “I can’t do that yet, ” I thought, as a runner flew by me.  “I can’t do that, yet,” I mused, as I passed some impressive, suspended push-ups happening in the TRX class.  “I can’t do that yet,” I said, as I glided by the sweaty spinners.  “I can’t do that yet,” I inwardly smiled, as I shuffled past the lithe aerobic dancers.

“YET” is a power word.  It’s imbued with hopefulness and magnificent things to come.  It implies future successes, the meeting of goals, and the crossing of finish lines.  On this rainy Wednesday, in my corner of the world, I implore you to change your weighty, dead-end, final nevers to glorious, hopeful, anticipating YETS!

What exercise goals are you working on?  What will you be able to do physically in the future?  Tell me about it! 🙂

 

blogging, Building self-confidence, Friday Fixes, Friendship, learning, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays, Writing

Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Believing in Yourself

 “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

                                                                ~Henry Ford

When my daughter was in 6th grade, I was a fortunate to be picked to chaperone her, a handful of students, chosen to participate in a team-building and leadership academy located near Washington, DC.  

Throughout the day, the children were placed in various groups and given mental and physical tasks to complete, having to rely solely on the abilities and instincts of one another.  The final challenge was a 15 foot (4.6 m) smooth, vertical wall that they were assigned to scale in five minutes with only the aid of another student.  Both children had to reach the top of the wall within that time frame. I watched, hopefully, while several groups tried a similar technique of boosting their partner to the top and afterwards attempting climb the un-notched wall to their waiting teammate’s outreached hands.  Their efforts were fruitless.

My daughter was paired with her friend Emma, a girl she had known since babyhood. Neither of them were particularly athletic, or tall; just your average 11 year-olds.  They began much the same as the other groups, with Emma’s feet on top of my daughter’s shoulders. When Emma grasped the top edge of the wall, my daughter grabbed her feet and helped to push her to the top.  With her friend at the pinnacle, my daughter confidently walked about 20 feet away from the wall as Emma secured her legs on the top and reached out. Then, they locked eyes and my daughter began running.  In a moment I’ll never forget, my daughter ran to the wall, scaled two-thirds of it in that same running motion, clasped Emma’s hands, and in one swift motion was pulled to the top, never breaking eye-contact with her friend.  It was one of those millions of times when I wished that I’d been filming her.  Their actions looked superhero-ish and miraculous. It was as if two little girls, for a few brief moments, had been blessed with superhuman powers.

After a myriad of high-fives and congratulations from classmates, my daughter finally reached me.

” That was amazing! How on Earth did you do it?” was my first response.

  “I just knew I could. I saw myself at the top and ran,”  she replied.

Fifteen years have passed since my daughter’s Matrix-like climb.  She’s been through many changes and challenges since then. Life has continually and  generously handed her its share of natural ups and downs.  When things get tough, I never fail to remind her that she’s a wall climber from way back. I tell her that she has the amazing ability to focus and run swiftly past her doubts and fears. The pinnacle is always there for those who believe they can reach itWe all have a little bit of superhero in us–the trick is believing that it’s there!

******When in life have you amazed yourself?  Tell me about it in the comments below!


Don’t forget to stay tuned for Friday Fixes, where I’ll be discussing some of the things I’ve learned about building self-confidence through my Lifestyle Education Classes!

blogging, learning, love, problem solving, setting goals, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays, Writing

Wisdom Wednesday: The Power of Self-Talk

What do you say to yourself when you look into the mirror? Picasso's "Girl Before Mirror" (Photo by me)
What do you say to yourself when you look into the mirror?
Picasso’s “Girl Before Mirror” (Photo by me)

This post begins with a difficult admission.  I used to be a mean girl. Years ago,  I would speak horribly to someone who I was supposed to be nurturing, loving, and building up.  Nearly everyday, I’d utter phrases that hurt. Sometimes I’d mutter under my breath,”Your hair looks terrible!”  On other occasions, I’d whisper,”Your skin is awful!”  And sometimes, when I was feeling particularly hateful, I’d say loud enough for everyone to hear,”If you weren’t so fat, you’d have clothing that fits!”  I didn’t say these things to my children, or my friends. I said them to myself and I didn’t think they were bothering anyone but me. After all, I spent the majority of my day building up others.  As a teacher, I used only positive words in my classroom.  As a mom, I never missed an opportunity to tell my daughters how wonderful I knew they were.

Then one day, I was school shopping with my, then 10 year-old, daughter. In the middle of trying on new pants, she looked in the mirror and blurted out, “These jeans make me look fat!”   She certainly wasn’t overweight and I asked her why she would say that about herself.  “You say it when you look in the mirror, Mom.”  Her reply hit me like a ton of bricks.  I did say that to myself, and more.

After an apologetic discussion and heartfelt assurance of her perfect size and beauty, I promised to stop speaking harshly to myself.  This was not an easy task.  I’d suffered from poor self-esteem most of my life and after my divorce, my self-worth plummeted even further. I’d formed deeply ingrained, negative self-talk behaviors that felt too hard to break, but I certainly didn’t want to be a bad example to my children and I was tired of feeling bad about myself.

I couldn’t afford counseling at the time, but I had read that it takes 30 days of consistent practice to break most habits.  I decided that for the next 30 days anytime a negative thought about my appearance entered my mind that I would counter it, out loud, with a positive statement about myself.  This was difficult, because it often felt like I was lying to myself.  My head would tell me, “Ugh! You look rough today!” but my voice would sing, “You look beautiful.  I love you!  I feel good about myself!” 

Over and over, day after day, I kept up with my experiment.  Oftentimes, my young daughters would catch me praising myself and giggle.  I would then remind them of their beauty, inside and out. Soon, I began to hear them complimenting themselves, and each other, laced with happy laughter,  in the mornings before school.

Sixteen years later, I still have my same routine.  My adult kids will still giggle when they walk in on me finishing up my makeup and saying, “Damn, I look good today!”  They know I’m not a raging narcissist, but they also know that I now believe my words to be true. In the midst of caring for, and about others, I care about myself, too.

 

What are you saying to yourself? Have you ever broken a negative habit?  How did you do it?

 

***If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.******   (I could really use a few posts. :))

 

blogging, learning, New York City, setting goals, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays, Writing

Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Slowing Down

The "Hugo" clock   Taken at MOMA (Photo by me)
The “Hugo” clock
Taken at MOMA
(Photo by me)

This week’s Wisdom Wednesday post is a message/ lecture/reminder to myself as well as the rest of my readers.  Normally my Wednesday post is written well ahead of time and scheduled for 7:00 AM EST every Wednesday morning.  As you can see, It’s a couple of hours late.  Being tardy isn’t like me. My kids used to get annoyed that I was always 20-30 minutes early for every appointment or event, but now, as adults, they’re the exact same way.  Actually, there are only two reasons that I would ever be late for something.  The first reason would be my untimely death (sorry to be morbid); the second, would be that I’ve completely over-extended myself. Fortunately, this late post is the result of the second.

Jam-packing too much into life has always been a problem of mine. Oddly, it’s not from lacking the ability to say “no” if someone is attempting to take advantage of my time; I worked that dilemma out in my 20s.  My over-extension has more to do with my high energy level, my general exuberance for life and the joy that I get from being with, and helping out, others. I love to have things to look forward to. I like my days to be full of activities and productivity. This may stem from the work ethic my parents taught me, or from watching their lives end too early and concluding, first-hand, that life truly is short, so cram in all you can.

I realize that being on-the-go and enjoying life  isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing I need to manage it better. Time has a way of zooming by when you’re closing down Target with a friend, or staying up hours past bedtime drinking decaf tea and chatting with your adult daughter.  Every weekend doesn’t need to be filled with home improvement chores, or activities and social events (often ones that I’ve created).  Sometimes the person I need to say “no” to most often is myself.  Busily enjoying the moment is fabulous, but so is rest and reflection.  Time management isn’t about being early for everything; it’s about finding a balance so that you’re able to live peacefully.

Are you a master at managing your time?  If so, please share your secrets in the comments below.  🙂

***If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.******   (I could really use a few posts. :))

Appreciation, blogging, enjoying family, food and family celebrations, love, marriage, Thankfulness, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesday: The Wisdom of Appreciation

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This week’s Wisdom Wednesday post is happily brought to you by me!  I’ve had such a busy week that I wasn’t quite certain what to write about. Then my husband came home from work in a slightly grumpy mood last night, and I had to remind him of all of the things that I appreciate about our home and our life together.

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images6XXWIJABMy husband works in one of the wealthiest counties in the country.  Every morning,as he winds his way to his office, he passes rolling horse farms, polo fields, and sprawling multi-million dollar homes.  Every evening, as he makes his way home, he departs the majesty of wealth and enters back into the dingier world of middle and lower class mediocrity.  He pulls his sensibly priced commuter car into garage-less  driveway and walks up three unadorned steps to our front door where I usually greet him with a hug and kiss.  The house he enters smells of dinner cooking and fresh laundry. It’s warmly lit and comfortably decorated  One cat is sleeping on a chair by the front door and the other is curled in his seat as if keeping it warm for his arrival.

Sometimes his day has been good, while other times it’s been filled with a strife that only dealing with the entitled public can bring.  It’s on those days that he apologizes for our small house and our crowded life.  It’s those days that he insists that I should be living in a house big enough to get lost in; with a pool and a fireplace, and a bathroom for every kid.  I reject his apology and deny my desire for the extras that my wealthier counterparts a few dozen miles away may have.  I’ve lived in far smaller places without heat, functioning appliances, or even the smallest patch of yard to call my own.  I’ve lived without a working car, enough food in my refrigerator, and without enough money to  buy a new coat when my old one was falling apart and the winds were howling.  Worst of all, I’ve lived without the very  thing that my 1,100 square foot home encapsulates; love, family,and security.

I remind my husband that I say a prayer of appreciation every time I load my dishwasher, or do a load of laundry. I remind him that when icy winds blow that our little place stays warm and snug.  I remind him that I brim with delight when I sit on the backyard swing with the sun in my face and my toes in the grass. I remind him of the birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones that we’ve  shared under our tiny roof.  And finally, I remind him that this is the place that I wait for him to come home to me in.  I don’t need bigger, better, fancier, or more elegant; I appreciate the home I have, and the life and love that I have in it!

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What are you most appreciative of? 

***** Attention Blogging Friends! If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.  *****************

blogging, Guest post, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesday: Perspectives on Wisdom

PhotoFunia Badges Regular 2014-02-25 10 01 49

Today’s Wisdom Wednesday post is brought to you by Amelia from snapshotsofawanderingheart.  Amelia is a young blogger who describes herself as “caught in that tenuous age in my life right between the endless possibilities of youth and the realities of adulthood.”  What an exciting place to be!  I think it’s equally exciting to  share Amelia’s perspective on wisdom!

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Wisdom is:

To me, wisdom means choice. I’m not implying that if you make bad choices, you are unwise, or if you are unwise that you always make bad decisions.

Wisdom is knowing what life to choose. What mindset to apply to all of your life.

Wisdom is having the foresight to choose not prosperity, but contentment. It is the ability to find happiness in every situation, because life is a series of rises and plummets. It seems no matter how high you get, the next fall is of equal or greater horror.

Oddly, it is fun to be miserable. Happiness can only entertain people for so long, before we start looking for something to feel sorry for ourselves about.

Only with wisdom can we see that and overcome it. To choose to be happy despite the circumstances and despite the selfish pleasure to be found in it.

To find the kind of life you want and then daily dedicate yourself to it. Not to pick a job or a house or a car but more than that. To choose what kind of person you want to be and stand with it. That will kill self-consciousness.

To choose the person you want to be with and not falter. To never give up on that person. To never let foolishness inspire petty arguments. To decide to never stop putting the other person first. To not take the easy way out. But to choose to honor the forever pledge. That will inspire love.

To choose to be happy with your status and your job and your future. No matter what they are. Not to prevent growth but to conquer discontent.

In one of its many facets, wisdom is finding the courage to just live and be happy.

If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences. 

blogging, Guest post, learning, love, memories, problem solving, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesday: Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

PhotoFunia Cookies Writing Regular 2014-02-25 10 00 53

I’m thrilled to announce that today’s Wisdom Wednesday is courtesy of the lovely Elaine from Foodbod.   Even though I’ve been living on Optifast for the past eight weeks, I can’t help but sneak over to Elaine’s place to take a gaze at the delicious vegetarian dishes that she creates.  Elaine’s blog exudes her excitement about life, as well as her healthy relationship with food.  While I LOVE her food posts, I think it’s extra special when she veers out of the kitchen and writes about her life.  Her Wisdom Wednesday post is a wonderful example.

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‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’; ‘a stitch in time save nine’; ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’…there’s endless sayings that we hear every day, and often without knowing what they truly mean, or believing them even if we do!

‘Every cloud has a silver lining’…we hear this every time something goes wrong or upsets us, it gets pedaled out in amongst the pleasantries that people say in times of sadness or disappointment, as much because they dint know what else to say, whilst we try to understand what has happened and why, and at the time, we don’t always want hear it!!! There are probably many times that it’s been said when it has seemed like absolute rubbish, how can it possibly be the case that something good will come out of whatever bad has occurred?!

But I’m here to tell you, that good things can come out of bad; amazing, wonderful things can be the result of the most painful, heartbreaking occurrences. It can happen. It’s happened to me several times.

In the last few years, the most wonderful things have occurred in my life; each one as a direct result of the most awful things happening. In the last four and a half years I’ve lost my Dad, my Grandmother, been burgled twice, been very ill, watched my beautiful best friend, Caroline, die of a swift, vicious, rare form of cancer, and lost my lovely, most faithful friend, Nog, my dog.

Some of these things have obviouslphotoy been more heart wrenching than others, each one being upsetting in it’s own way; when we were burgled, I was so angry, I wanted to lock my world up completely and not let anyone near it; when Caroline died I was so heartbroken that I never felt that I would ever be happy again; I felt like no one in the world should ever smile again, ever; and that if I did smile, I really shouldn’t. When Nog died, I cried and cried for days wandering around my empty quiet house, hearing his footsteps everywhere.

And in the midst of these despairs, if anyone had told me ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ I would quite happily have punched them!! What a stupid thing to say! Or think! How could that possibly be the case?! Nothing was ever, ever going to be better!

But it was, every time. In the case of losing Nog, my Mum jumped on a plane from Abu Dhabi and came and spent a week with me, just being here.  A wonderful week of doing nothing but being together; such a gift. When we were burgled the second time, the bike that was stolen was replaced with one that I could actually ride and now I love cycling through the countryside every day. I literally smile as I cycle, even up the hills!

And when Caroline died, I made the decision to do what she now couldn’t: I made the decision to stay at home and be a Mum. Lots of things fell into perspective when she died and I made it my mission not to let her death pass without it creating change and meaning in my life; I closed my business and I dedicated my life to my husband and son and our home. And it was the best thing I have ever done. Our family has thrived on the change.

I’m not suggesting that if you are in the midst of a painful situation that it’s okay, I know it isn’t, and I know how much you are hurting. I know you feel like you will never want to smile again. All I can say is that I try to tell my son that whatever feels horrible right now, won’t feel that way forever and it might even have a silver lining.

Time will tell…

If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.