Bold but Senseless

WP_20130802_104-1A few years ago, my first boyfriend came to Vermont and we met for coffee. I hadn’t seen him in maybe 15 years? And I was worried.

There was this nagging feeling I had, not that either of us weren’t mature enough to have a cup of coffee together as adults, but about something I did to him back in the day.

Or didn’t do.

Basically communicate effectively at the end.

As an adult, I think back to the former me, and still shake my head in disbelief. I was such an awful person back then. That I could ever treat anyone with such disrespect.  But when I brought this up over coffee, so many years later, he laughed it off and said something to the effect of:

“We can’t be held responsible for what we did when we were like 20, 21….I mean really…we all did really senseless things back then”.

I was so relieved after all these years, and have thought about that sentiment often since, letting myself off the hook for quite a few dumb choices while repeating these words to myself.

I do however think back to that time in my 20s, and I may not have had much sense but I was fearless.

I moved from location to location following my career. I lived alone.

I explored new cities and towns when I traveled, all by myself.

I had no qualms about going into a restaurant by myself. Drinking wine by myself. Going to the movies by myself.  It wasn’t easy at the time, but when I forced myself, in the end, I was empowered by it.

My last state move, to Vermont, was no different. After the first few weeks of crying, wondering how I could make such a crazy mistake, thinking I could adapt to life in the country, I finally settled on a 3-bedroom house just for me. I need to be happy, right? Nesting is good.

When I was first learning to love the nature-girl life, I embraced it on my own.

I went for hikes in the woods.

Said yes to learning weird hobbies from new friends: foraging, running on river rocks, fishing, cruising around in the evening looking for critter sightings…

Once I learned what people around here did for fun, I went for it. I would run from river rock to river rock without worry, up and down my favorite spot along the Big Branch in Mount Tabor and go out looking for wild mushrooms deep in the woods.

And going solo? Never worried about it.

Last night, I was reminded of the younger, bold but senseless me , when I was on the phone with my husband, who is traveling this week. We were talking about what activities Brett and I had on the agenda for the week. I really want to go mushroom hunting; because there should be a ton of chanterelle mushrooms in the woods, but am not really used to going on my own anymore.

I asked my husband, “do you think it’s safe for us to go up to our favorite spot in the National Forest, alone?”

My husband sounded startled. “of course, it should be”, he said “why wouldn’t it be?”

I hung up the phone and wondered, when did I turn into that person who hesitates?

Who stops, and misses out, because she is scared?

There was one incidence, after I had lived in Manchester for a few years. There was a snowmobile trail from one side road near my house that opened up to the woods, eventually bringing you out over a walking bridge, that came out onto another side road. One day as I was walking from one side of the bridge to the next, I heard voices. Hiding behind a tree, I slowly took a few more steps, and then a few more, until I could see what was up.

Two stringy-haired guys, in their 20s perhaps, were taking tree branches and slamming them down on the windshield of an old beat up muscle car they had dumped there. Crushed beer cans surrounded them.  I turned around immediately and ran all the way home.

I suppose this could have been when I started rethinking solo walks deep in the woods as I never went over the bridge again after that.

Who knows who could be lurking around?

What if I wasn’t able to turn around?

What if they saw me?

What if? What if? What if?

All these thoughts in my head; I never used to worry like this.

I never needed to rely on someone else to do what I wanted to do.

But as a woman, and a mom, 15 years later, I have way too much sense for my own good.

So many years of anxiety about keeping my kid with a life-threatening food allergy safe.

I’m always at-the-ready with a safe snack and a few Wet Ones.

When it snows? Or if there is any inkling of black ice lurking on the roads, I don’t drive. It’s not safe.

Chemicals and insecticides in the environment and on our foods? Ugh. Must stay away from them too.

The news.

Abductions.

Identity Theft.

What else should I worry about?

Be careful on those river rocks, you might slip!

As I think back to that sentiment: We shouldn’t be responsible for what we did way back then, I realize after years of gaining more sense, something I desperately needed, I need to dial it back a notch and throw some of it to the wind…

I don’t want to resurrect the insensitive qualities of my early-adulthood of course, but need to get over the constant worry.

Can I be bold, and have common sense at the same time, can those qualities realisticially live side-by-side?

I’m tired of missing out. Tired of making decisions for my son that will cause him to miss out as well.

WP_20130802_007So today, I made the decision, Brett and I went to the mushroom spot by ourselves.

What if there was a weird psychopath on the trail? I think to myself…

What are the odds?

We’ll be ok…

As we rumbled along the deserted gravel road leading to the chanterelle spot we saw a sign:

Road Closed. Gated

Well, no chanterelles today I guess, but we enjoyed Plan B instead.

Not quite running , but some slow climbing on the river rocks.

And it felt so good to be out there again.

The breeze. The beauty of the rocks. The sound of the water.

I just saw a glimpse of my old-younger self again, and want to push myself back, but forward, just a little bit each day, so I can see this side of me a little more often…

Do you have moments when you don’t recognize yourself today? Without wanting to go back, are there qualities you had then you wish you could get back again? 

Would love to hear your stories and comments.

 

Words from Strangers

No jeans for a few weeks, just waders...

No jeans for a few weeks, just waders…but I’ll get back to them soon…

I have been wracking my brain, wondering what I need to do to snap out of this lazy post-vacation summer trance I have been in for the last few weeks, when I remembered this conversation with a stranger that made me smile, and finally commit to stop whining about feeling down, and start to refocus.

On the way to Montana a few weeks ago, on the plane from Charlotte to Denver, my family had two seats in the front, while I had an aisle seat about 10 rows back. I was looking forward to this separation, anticipating some rare uninterrupted time with 1Q84, the thousand-plus page Haruki Murakami novel I had started a few weeks prior, and with my family around, my kindle would  likely remain off.

Towards the end of boarding a super-thin young gal with long straight dark hair, worn cut-up jeans, a tight red knit blouse, and spiky- high heeled boots, plopped her bag into the middle seat next to me.  The grandmotherly woman in the window seat and I did that polite-smile-thing everyone does on an airplane, and we each went back to our reading, hoping we didn’t need to engage in any conversation just yet.

After an hour or so, and a little more snoozing than reading, I woke up and looked around. The young gal, noticing I was awake,  glanced over to me a few times, smiled and out-of-the-blue just asked, “So, what are you, like 27?”

I looked at her, a little stunned, first of all that she would think I was that young, and second of all, that she dared to ask my age. Didn’t she learn you just don’t do that?

“Ummm, no”, I replied.

“30?”. I looked up at her again.

“35?” I was silent. “higher?” nod.

I don’t think I ever gave her the true number, but she was visibly stunned and I was a bit embarrassed by the reaction.

“Wow, you look sooo young!” She shook her head in amazement.

You can imagine I was more receptive to abandoning Haruki and engaging in a little conversation after she mistook me for the older-sister type, as opposed to a mom type ( after some conversation, it sounded like her mother may have been my age or younger).  I learned that this gal is actually 20, and she was on her way from Louisville, Kentucky to Montana to surprise her boyfriend, and go live with him for the summer.  She was a bundle of nerves, wondering what his reaction to this very big surprise was going to be. I would be too…can you imagine taking this kind of risk?

Today, as I think of it, I actually wish I took her contact information just so I could find out what happened!

But instead, I’m back here in Vermont, having a tough time getting myself back in my health routine and feeling worn down.

I have been back to exercise every day, but I have taken it slow, it’s not very intense.

My diet has been a mess, I still haven’t been able to kick that dessert habit I developed from vacation.

Why I have been slow to make these changes I don’t really know. Some of my friends and family would say a few weeks of lazy mindless diet and inactivity is what I need, because they think I worry about it too much, and I have to admit the allure of doing so is appealing. You are thin! You shouldn’t have to work so hard! You could use a plate of cookies…no worries! I hear them say…

But sadly I know the truth.

Letting go is great in short spurts, but if I do this too long, laziness will become a habit. I have heard it takes about 21 days to build a habit–good or bad–and I’m nearing the limit on settling into some bad ones!

Thinking back to the young woman on the plane, and that conversation about looking young makes me realize I have lost sight of a few things over the last few weeks.  I forgot that feeling young, and looking young is a choice (even if I know in fact, I do not actually look 27…), and one I want to stick with. I remember too well how I felt before I made these change in the first place, and do not want to find myself back there again. Yes, the motivation this time is a little vain; I typically like to say my fitness quest is for health reasons, but how can I not like the idea that people think I’m younger, I mean, why not let that motivate me for as long as I can get away with it?

So starting today, here’s the get motivated to feel young so I don’t feel like a lazy blob plan that should get me back to feeling like myself again in a week or two:

  • Get more sleep! This is one issue I have been slow to address but it keeps resurrecting itself every few weeks. I don’t get enough sleep and have dark circles under my eyes pretty much every day. I will plan go to bed earlier on some nights, and address the source of my new, unwanted insomnia habit. I’m positive this is the main reason I have been in such a slump.
  • No dieting, but monitor foods and cut the sugar- now!   Back to monitoring my food diary again, something I have let lapse in the last few months, to make sure I realistically know I’m keeping to the right food quantities. On vacation, portions get bigger and the reality-check of quantifying will get me back in line with appropriate portion sizes again.
  • Keep moving. It has been so hot and humid. Keep going on the exercise schedule, but make sure to start in the morning instead of later in the day when it feels like it’s 90 degrees. I just started a new exercise program, called Focus T25,  that I hope will work–it’s only 25 minutes a day of formal exercise to make sure I have some structure to the schedule. And then the rest of the time I’ll spend making sure to keep active all day with Brett: creature catching, river walking, mushroom hunting, berry picking….just hoping that humidity goes down soon so it’s a little more bearable!
  • Keep away from the scale. I don’t weigh myself anymore. Ever. I know many people live and breathe by the scale and it would be tough for them to stay away from it. But this works for me…  no good is going to come from seeing + 5 lbs on the scale.
  • And finally, stay away from jeans.  Instead of depressing myself further by spilling out over the top of my jeans,  I’ll avoid them at all cost and stick to the yoga pants and skirts for now. And maybe if it stops raining and the river behind my house goes down, we can just go fishing every day, I can hone some of my skills learned on the Firehole River a few weeks ago, and I can wear my ever-forgiving baggy waders until I’m ready to be seen in jeans again…that would be fun, I think every gal needs a pair for weeks like this…

So there you have it in writing. I’ve got the plan now!

And here’s one more little call out to that sweet gal on the airplane, who I hope is happily still in Montana with her boyfriend.

Your inadvertent compliment to a stranger on an airplane a few weeks ago resonates still.  These words are just what I need for inspiration to refocus this week.

Thank you!

Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger that inspired you in some way?

Have you given a compliment lately, or recieved one that made a big impact?  

Please share your story and add to the discussion on how you manage to re-energize after a vacation or a lapse in focus.

If you are reading this by email, please click on the comment button and tell your story!

The Balancing Act – Fun vs. Fit

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My focus lately has been a little off.

Actually, very off, and all over the place. Based on the subjects in my last few posts, you can see my mind is outside. It’s finally starting to look like it’s supposed to in the Green Mountain State: very, very green, and I have become brain-swept with a renewed urge to just spend all my waking free time thinking about what I can do out there.

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columbine is in bloom!

Look, Columbine! Where’s my camera?

Hey, frogs are back!

Oh, ramps are out, so are morels and fiddleheads–lets go find them before it’s too late!

Look rose breasted grosbeaks are at the feeder, where’s my camera?

Ooh! Gardens–I need to get going on those!

It’s nice to be inspired. But this change of season is seeping  into my my typically rock-solid, gung-ho attitude towards the inside fitness I feel is really important.  My scheduled workouts have become kind of an afterthought. I’m procrastinating, waiting until the end of the day to do them. This may not be so bad for some people, waiting until later, but I’m really beat by late in the afternoon, and my mind isn’t really into it by then. Yesterday I clock-watched through the entire workout and was feeling down on myself.

look! an RBGB!

look! an RBGB!

If I’m like this now, this summer will be worse!

Trying to figure out where that super-motivated, fit and focused me went, and how to bring her back, I started thinking back to an experience that really make me thankful fitness is an important part of my life.  At about this same time last year, I attended a fly fishing class.  This was the 2nd time I took this class, because I needed a refresher on the knots and casts I learned the year before, and thought this women’s-only class would be a fun, more relaxed group. On the second day in the afternoon, we went out to a local stream.  There was one very reluctant woman in the class, I’m guessing she was in her 60s, who was there only because her husband had sent her. We were wading in the river on somewhat slippery rocks, most of us wearing borrowed and unfamiliar wading shoes,  trying to reach the bank on the other side, and working against the current. There was another woman, there on her own free will and excited to learn, in her mid-fifties. And she also was struggling to stay upright and cross safely, becoming a little more discouraged by the minute.

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a little fun with casting at class…

A few of us had to offer an arm and walk slowly with them, across the river, and over to the other side.

At the end of the day, as we all headed with gear towards our cars, I sided up to our wonderful instructor, Molly Seminek, who was visiting from Montana just to teach this class. We were silent at first but then began kind of a reluctant conversation about how tough it is for some people, wading in the water and having the balance and strength they need. She often advises clients to work on their balance and agility and their overall fitness and strength levels off the water, because it’s something that definitely works to their advantage when in the water, and on the riverside when you need to step over rocks or logs, or high banks. I mentioned how I feel strongly about the need to stay fit as we get older, and how yoga and weight training, has helped me too, in many ways. Hearing this was something she works on continually to keep herself in good form to keep guiding and doing what she loves every day as a career, was very reassuring.

This conversation comes to mind from time-to-time for motivation when I need it, as well as advice I hear from other sources, most notably from P90x, one of the strength training programs I like to rotate into the mix a few times per year. Tony Horton, the trainer mentions a few times throughout that jump training, and yoga and some of the other moves included are so great to practice and learn to do safety in a controlled environment, because it helps train you for all the great things you want to do in real life and in real settings. And I guess it’s because these are on DVDs and I have heard the same lines over and over again, that I can hear his voice in my head when I’m lunging down to dig up dirt in my garden and throwing it in a pile. And I’m reminding myself to not arch my back. Or let my knee go over my toes. And when looking for salamanders with my son, always bend my knees when lifting up heavy rocks, instead of pulling them from a standing position. Or when lifting him to cross the river when he’s about to swamp his boots.

My friends and family, when I ask for advice on this, tend to think it should be easy for me to just let go of my need to do any

always ready to join me on that hike...

always ready to join me on that hike…

formal exercise inside, because it’s just so nice out. I should just hike. Or run. Or whatever keeps me moving, as long as it’s outside. I don’t think one really replaces the other though, and with a set amount of free-time, I worry I’ll lose all that great endurance, flexibility and strength I work so hard to build the rest of the year, that enables my success on so many levels. But then again, it’s super-depressing being inside doing pull-ups and push-ups, or planks when I hear an oriole out the window chirping and the river rambling along, and always a labrador ready and waiting to be walked…

I have to figure out how to let my fitness life and my outdoor life live side-by-side this season, without slacking off in either. I want to be in my sixties, and crossing that river on my own, without someone else lending me an arm, and worry if I let it slide, even a little, I’ll lose momentum long term…

How have you balanced your fit lives when more fun activities are calling your name?

Do you make changes that help keep the strength training more interesting? Or take that outside?

Do you let fitness slide a bit throughout certain times of the year?

Do you have the perfect mix of both?

I’d love to hear some ideas and discussion.

For more information:

Molly Seminek: http://tietheknotflyfishing.com/wordpress/

P90x: http://www.beachbody.com/product/p90x-what-you-get.do

A Stairwell in Suburbia

Museum stairs: challenging to some, not to others…

At times it’s tough to get back into the health mindset on a Monday, but after a road trip, a reality-check from my mother-in-law, and a stairwell, today I’m actually kind of inspired to get started.

This newfound enthusiasm, after a weekend of poor eating choices, isn’t coming from some magazine cover telling me I can “Melt off 10 lbs!” just from reading this issue. Or from my junk email inbox with a message screaming “Want to Rock that Bikini Body this Summer…here’s how!??!”. Umm, yeah, I just got that one a few minutes ago…and it’s not from looking at photos Jillian Michaels looking perfect, although I do think she’s awesome, I’m guessing the photo is airbrushed and I’ll never actually look like her no matter what I try…

Do quick fix strategies and images of perfect people, keep me inspired? Not really…at least in the long-term

Nope. These don’t do it for me, at all.  These messages may cause short-term guilt and negativity to jump-start a little action, but they don’t keep me going long-term.

What is keeping me going this week? Some observations from a family trip to suburbia, in a town outside of Rochester, New York.

In contrast to where I live in Vermont, where we have two country stores, a library and little else, this town is all about big-box stores and chain restaurants. And we needed those stores because we had to purchase computer supplies for my 86-year-old mother in law. We spent the morning accomplishing our mission, but when we were ready to have lunch, hmmm, tough choices for those hoping to eat something relatively healthy. No quaint little cafe exists in this town, serving organic, local, grass-fed foods with right-size portions. The options: Fast Food? Ick. Hot Dogs? Apparently something super-popular in the Rochester area. No thanks. Applebees? I have a son with food allergies and I hear they aren’t great with that. Red Robin–oh, yeah, I heard they are a chain that gets the allergy thing. So that’s where we went.

My cute little "non-suburb" town...

My cute little “non-suburb” town…

Looking over the menu, it looked to me like the best non-salad choice was the fish sandwich, so I ordered that with sweet potato fries, thinking to myself, I don’t do this very often, It’s great to have a splurge meal every once in a while. Oh, and a margarita, I forgot I had one of those too! Yes, a splurge. I sat back, happy, relaxed, and took in the atmosphere, my eyes landing on the people at the tables around us.

A woman in her eighties eating a gigantic ice-cream sundae, probably bigger than her head, dining with what looked like her extended family. A couple, in their twenties, dressed all in black with matching dyed black hair, hamburgers oozing, soda-slurping. A table of middle-aged women with frizzy hair, laughing and talking and gesturing wildly, probably on their lunch break from work. And everyone eating way, way, way too much food. But having fun.

Can't we go here for lunch? Not in the Suburbs....

Can’t we go here for lunch? Not in the Suburbs….

I wonder if these folks are “regulars” and eat like this all the time, or are like me, on a once-in-a-while splurge?

Sadly, most looked like they did eat there everyday.

After lunch, it was time to do something fun so we set out to find the Science Museum.  In the car, my thoughts started to turn on me, like they usually do, from happy and relaxed to scorn. Why did you have to eat so many fries? Were they really that good, they really weren’t. Did you really need to eat every little drop of it? I put the negative thoughts on hold at the museum, where once inside, my husband and son ran off and started climbing four floors of open stairs to the top floor, while my mother-in-law and I tried unsuccessfully to catch them. As we were climbing, I looked down at her. She was a little slow, but I have to tell you, she was doing just fine with those stairs.

She didn’t complain. She didn’t ask me to find an elevator instead.

Mother-in-law Dorothy w/her granddaughter Brooke...

Mother-in-law Dorothy w/her granddaughter Brooke…

How many 86-year-olds do you know who can do that?

She and I decided to check out an exhibit on Native American villages, something most dinosaur-and-fossil-seeking kids had no interest in, so we had this whole quiet wing of museum to ourselves for a little while. I asked her whether or not she might come back to this museum with friends, since it’s so close to where she lives, and so beautiful. She would love to, she said, but basically none of her friends could walk around the way she does. The conversation drifted from the museum, to the fact that she is at this age where she is losing the people around her more and more. She became a widow about 8 years ago, but most recently this winter, she lost her best friend.

Later, back at her house, I started thinking about her lifestyle and pieced together some of the other conversations we had that weekend. My mother-in-law has a high-strung dog who needs to walk a few times a day. When I tried to help her bring sheets down to the laundry area, she said, oh no… she deliberately bought the house she is in now because it has stairs, so she could keep moving, and she will strip the beds and do the laundry herself. No problem. She drives everywhere, even in snow. After a few scares on black ice, I avoid driving in snow at all costs. When I mentioned that she just shrugged and said, “well, I need to do what I need to do, the store, lunch, class, so I drive”. She takes exercise classes a few times a week at the Y, that include weights and stretching and all sorts of movements. She, ironically, is a caregiver/companion to her daughter who has limited mobility from back surgeries, and to another younger friend each week.

I am thoroughly in awe of this woman. She makes me think a lot about my two grandmothers, both died a few years ago, but lived similarly active lives and were independent and happy and fun and young until the end. And to my dad, who I lost way too early, who was always on his bike rides and stretching and moving and still happily doing financial consulting and keeping his brain exercised, where others his age were slowing down.

This weekend was just a great reminder to me about why I want to always keep activity and health top of mind. Sure, it’s great to look good, “have Rock-hard Abs!” and “a bikini body by summer!!!”, like the women’s magazines like to remind us, but honestly, I think this message is all wrong. Inspiration to make changes, and to keep us focused on what is important doesn’t come from looking at perfect photos of models, we all know that isn’t attainable for most of us. Long-term inspiration comes from real people who live real lives. We see these people all around us, and make the decision about who we want to emulate, and the reverse, who we don’t.

I want to climb those stairs when I’m 86.

And I want to be confident to drive in snowstorms in Rochester.

And I want to have a yippy dog I still need to chase and bend down to pick up, and be able to do these things myself.

I hope I’m not the last healthy one left, as my mother-in-law seems to be, so will try to inspire my family and friends to keep their health top-of-mind as well.

Yes, we can sit back in the booth at Red Robin, and have a margarita and endless fries and whatever, and that’s ok once in a while. What isn’t ok, is getting mad at ourselves for living life a little when we need to, and then giving up on our health goals when we don’t think we have measured up… we need to be off as much as on, or at least I do, to stay committed for the long-haul. The chain restaurant staff won’t start singing “Here comes a Regular…” next time I walk in for lunch…

So it’s Monday, and I overindulged this weekend. But my mind is back where it needs to be, thanks to my mother-in-law, and I’m ready for the ebb and flow of the good and bad, and the careful balance it’s going to take to manage my healthy, active future.

How about you? Do you have role-models who keep you motivated? Would love to hear your stories…

Little Changes, Big Impact

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Too busy to admire nature? Put it on the list…

Have you ever had one of those moments when you make a teeny-tiny, no-brainer kind of change in routine, but it makes all the difference?

I’m feeling that way this winter, and still can’t believe it took me so long to figure out how to get myelf a little more organized. I’ll say a little more, because the transition isn’t 100%, but think I’m on the right path.

I have always been kind of Type A at career-oriented tasks. If I had a vision on a project, it had to be perfect and I’d work round-the-clock to ensure everything was just so, and of course, on time. The calendar and task list was solid. But on a personal level? I’m definitely Type B. Banking and finances, a mess; if I sent a payment in on time, it was luck and it didn’t bother me all that much.  Mail was in piles, unopened, all over the house. Nothing interesting ever comes in the mail anyway, right?

With friends and in groups? Whatever they want to do is fine, no worries. Go with the flow, that’s me…

A few years ago, when I was in the middle of my corporate work-life, mom-life juggle, the Type A work-mode took over, and I was notoriously bad on a personal level keeping in touch with friends. Between driving to New Hampshire, the corporate office, and traveling to visit clients in California, Utah, Seattle, Boston, and having those work-at-home days too where I would hide downstairs in my office until lunch, where I’d see Brett for an hour, maybe exercise, and then go back down and hide for the rest of the day, anything fun and inpirational like hanging out with a friend, that was the last thing on my mind.

My friend Marina and I were often trying to set up lunches, and each time that day came up on the calendar there was some reason to cancel.  Travel, or a super-important project, or whatever, and then by the time we would think to make a date again, a few months had passed and we would start this cycle over again. It got to the point where I was seeing my friend only a few times during the year, and she only lives 20 minutes away! She finally one day brought up the idea of a scheduled once-a-month lunch date.

The Rules:

  • Put lunch date on the calendar.
  • Schedule other appointments around it.
  • As soon as we get back from lunch, immediately set new date.

What a concept, put something fun on the calendar, and prioritize it?  It’s not rocket-science, but it worked, and although the dates aren’t always as often as once a month, we have had this routine for about 6 years.

Long after I put my career on hold and became the full-time master-of-the-home-and-child I am today, I still have a tough time

Well, I think I saw that to-do list here somewhere?

Well, I think I saw that to-do list here somewhere?

accomplishing everything I want to during the day. Aside from some lunch dates, most of what I put on my calendar and notepad-based to-do list are uninspiring chores.  I have often wondered how the heck I ever worked outide the home. The days go quickly. I still feel awful that I don’t see certain friends enough. I still forget to do pretty much everything on my to-do list because the notepad where I write my list gets lost under all the papers sent home with my son from school.

I was beginning to think my exercise habit was the problem, because I have been unable to focus on anything else. But how can maintaining my health be a problem? That’s not going anywhere…

Why was I so good at this when I was working outside the home?

Or was it in here???

Or was it in here???

Back in December, as I was considering New Years Resolutions and looking to set some goals for 2013 , I was still down about my lack of ability to begin some of the personal projects I had been thinking about but just never seem to have time to do because I was always in the midst of family chores. A friend had mentioned she just signed up for a program called the “Push Challenge”, by Chalene Johnson (http://www.30daypush.com/).

Do you know about Chalene? She is a fitness instructor and motivational guru, and I adore her.

Her workout program Chalean Extreme (http://amzn.com/B001O2MWGI) had been recommended to me last year. I was a little skeptical,  because I had never heard of it, but the workouts had great reviews on Amazon, so I crossed my fingers and placed the order. For the first few weeks I was not a fan; everyone in her videos is so darn cute! And they wear pink. And sometimes sparkles! I mean, me? My friends? People in my state? Nobody looks like these women. I’m guessing they are all California and Florida types, but we New England gals, we look like a whole different species. But over time I learned to love all the inspiring people in the videos, as well as the workouts, as they are all short, really effective, and that Chalene is one smart, motivating woman.

Based on being truly won over, I signed up for this challenge to see what it was all about. I’m not sure I ever went through the whole program, maybe half of it. But essentially, what we did was:

  • Establish Personal Goals.
  • Pick out one goal called the “Push” goal, work towards this every day, and
  • Organize it all on a smartphone to-do list.

My smartphone has a to-do list app?

But I like my notepad to-do list, it sits on the counter right in front of my face so I can’t ignore it.  Oh, and where is that to-do list, by the way? Underneath the school lunch menu, perhaps? Or the pile of drawings on the dining room table?

Seems kind of like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? I guess it isn’t though because I never thought of it by myself! My organizational system, if you can even call it that, was not even remotely taking into account personal goals. I wasn’t prioritizing them because these goals never made it to the to-do list in the first place!  I really thought something was wrong with me over the last few years, wondering why I haven’t been able to focus.

The Type A me, who I was used to seeing in my corporate life, only made infrequent appearances to ensure exercise and fitness-related goals were met, but then just went quietly away after that, where the Type B, go with the flow, disorganized me remained.

Within a few minutes of evaluating to-do list apps, I downloaded one and started filling it in.  The most important point Chalene makes about creating this list is that you must not only put boring chores on your to-do list, like I had been doing. You must put tasks associated with your “Push” goal, or enabling goal, on the list each day, so if your goal is to exercise more, or to be a better friend, or a better parent, tasks associated with you accomplishing this goal go on the list. If you need to get outside more and enjoy nature, or read more fiction books, or to take more photos, those go on there as well. Every day your goals are top-of-mind, and you work towards achieving them.

Kind of cool isn’t it?

I was so excited about this new approach, the next time I saw Marina at lunch I told her all about it. She sat there for a few seconds, looking at me with kind of a stunned silence. “What do you mean you never put your personal goals on your to-do list? I thought you always did!” She felt awful, neglectful even, for not clueing me to this bit of wisdom she knew about, but just assumed I had already done.

No worries Marina. I’m on the right path now.

My goal was to start writing more about what I’m interested in, and maybe inspire a few people along the way, and here I am.  Within a few weeks, I managed to get it done. I now have all my boring chores on my to-do list app too, and my family doesn’t think I’m too much of a space-shot anymore because I don’t forget to do things; my list doesn’t get lost amongst clutter anymore. Already my writing has started enabling one of my New Years Resolutions, being a better friend, and seeing friends and family more often, because when they get my posts I hear from them, we start a dialog, and then we put those dates to get together on the calendar.

I’m starting to see things happen. And am much more inspired throughout the day.

I may start a few new annoying habits, like checking my smartphone too often, but I’ll take it considering the alternative…

How do you organize personal goals into your day? Or do you? Have you had similar struggles?

Please comment, I would love to hear some discussion!

Strong Arming the Future

kids in river

Every summer for the last few years, friends from Brooklyn come North to our house in Vermont for their own personal Fresh Air Fund adventure. The kids jump around in the river, stalk green frogs that hang out in the little pond with nets, rustle up sleeping toads under logs,  chase small dace, minnows and tadpoles, skip rocks…

And get really, really wet…

balsam swimming

Balsam and one of many heroic retrieves…

My lab Balsam loves this, usually we are talking so much we don’t notice his relentless nudging for us to throw sticks in the river for him to retrieve.

I was in the midst of a mindless stick-throwing session when my friend remarked “Now I know how you get such strong arms, throwing that thing all day for Balsam!”

Hmm.

If only that were the case! I didn’t correct her though. Maybe strong arms magically form because I’m an active gal living life in the country, chasing after my kid and dog…I wish, but nah, not so.

These arms? They are deliberate.

I just never talk about strength-building efforts because I have learned fitness is a subject that evokes a variety of emotions, not always positive ones. For instance my mother, who by the way, happens to be pro-active with her fitness, told me last summer “talking to you about fitness makes me even less motivated to want to do it!” Ok then! And I have repeatedly caught my husband completely tuned out, silent and with a blank stare, as I’m going on and on about it, although he is a little more tolerant now.

Why do people get defensive about exercise, or not want to think about it?

My theory is that everyone knows they need to exercise. We have all seen the news, read the reports. We have heard exercise is important for our mental and physical health now, and as we age. Exercise increases our energy levels. Helps us with balance and flexibility.  It enables us to be more active, and helps us focus. The old saying “use it or lose it” comes to mind.

There is a lot of guilt and regret that personal fitness and health is an afterthought on that very long list of priorities, and usually gets forgotten. But this is one of those subjects we can only dodge for a little while, eventually it needs to be confronted.   Check out this note my husband received at the bottom of his wellness plan from his doctor:

Participate in 30-45 minutes of exercise per day, daily is best. And we all need to monitor our diet and keep exercising for the rest of our lives to stay healthy and maintain our weight.

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Every Day!?

Funny how they slip in these monumental, life-altering details way at the bottom, in the fine print.

Many people reviewing the recommendation with their doctor are going to nod in agreement, yes, this should be done, but may in reality be thinking:

1) How in the world am I going to fit this into my schedule? And…

2) Where do I even start? And…

3) I don’t like to exercise! And…

4) I’m sure I get enough just walking around with my kids. I’ll be fine. And…

5) Adjust and monitor caloric intake? what the…? how? I love food! And…

6) I’ll just lose a few pounds and then I’ll be done.

In my first few posts, I mentioned struggling with this dilemma. I thought I was active. I was outside all day. I was chasing after my son. I was taking walks with my dog. Occasional hikes.  At my house I used an  elliptical a few times a week. That should be enough, right?

Well, I found out, not really.

The part that wasn’t right? I was over-estimating the value of my activity. When I take Balsam for a walk, who is getting exercise? He is! I’m just standing there half the time waiting for him to fetch something, and my heart barely has time to elevate. And same with “hikes” with my son, who stops every five seconds to check out a bug or caterpillar. I wasn’t getting much activity at all. And although I ate well, as in “all natural” and “unprocessed”, I had no idea how much I should have been eating. Add to that a slowing metabolism…

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I finally made it up to Haystack!

No wonder I was always irked about never getting back to the pre-pregnancy size. And definitely not back to the pre-pregnancy fitness level. I found myself limiting activity because I wasn’t confident enough in my fitness level to keep up. When we went for hikes, I made sure they were easy “rambles” because I was huffing and puffing on the steeper hills. Some hikes I opted out of altogether, like one of our local favorites, Haystack Mountain. One spring I actually hired someone to weed my garden because my back had been bothering me.

Now what is wrong with this picture? I’m still young, I just didn’t know what to do to make myself stronger.

The right time to start making changes is a very personal decision, and I had no idea how to begin. But once I  made the choice, I became a student for life. Remember the fine print above? The need to stay fit doesn’t stop, it’s not a one-time deal. And for most of us, it doesn’t just happen by itself; it requires a little planning.

If you are curious about developing a plan, I’ll clue you in to some of my lessons-learned:

  • Think about food and exercise as currency: When I was a kid, my mother was always on Weight Watchers, and although I never actually signed up or went to meetings, I used to go through the motions with her, and write down what I ate each day in a notebook. I remember being so shocked and much more aware of what I was eating once I wrote it down. Today? There are more powerful tools on the web and in the app stores for every phone, just type in “calorie counter” on your search engine or from your mobile app store, and start tracking what you eat and I promise this will be an eye-opening experience. You don’t necessarily have to do this forever, but when you really see how much you are eating, compared to what a person of your size should be eating, and the role activity level plays in this calculation, I promise you will make changes.
  • My Monthly Schedule -The day is not complete until I put in that X..

    My Monthly Schedule -The day is not complete until I put in that X..

    Exercise should be deliberate, plan for it, learn what is most effective.  Think about your week. What days are the busiest? Where do you have a few extra minutes? Do you have to travel on certain days? Do you wake up early and surf the web for an hour? Make it only 40 minutes and take 20 for a few jumping jacks and running in place, or jump rope or an exercise video. Pencil in the times you think will work. Maybe during the workday, you can change that lunch date (or instead of sitting at your desk) to a “walk” date. Print out a monthly or weekly exercise calendar and write down what you are going to do, and when, and check it off as you achieve each goal.  I have to tell you, this has been the most important low-tech tool for me. If I have something on the calendar? I will do it. No questions asked.

  • Finding something you like takes time, add some variety: When I first started a fitness plan, I didn’t know what to do at all. I had the elliptical in the house, so just used that every day because it was easy. This is fine at first, but after awhile it gets boring, and workouts become less effective. I tried jump roping. I tried running and jogging; not my favorite. I tried yoga and it took awhile but I learned to love it. I bought an exercise ball. Certainly at the right time of year, I love to hike, and take walks and try to plan for those. For formal exercise currently I’m doing more weight lifting along with the other cardiovascular workouts, and this works well for me. I’m an at-home exerciser, because I can make this work better in a shorter amount of time, and it’s less expensive, but if you like going to a gym or classes or getting a trainer, that’s great too.  My husband? He’s the opposite. He’d rather be bushwhacking on his cross-country skis or snowshoes, or even trudging in the mud, as long as it’s outside. In the summer? Lawn mowing, gardening, raking leaves, these are all really effective ways to get your heart pumping.
  • Stretching and Balance are essential: Once you get moving, and have that plan in place, it’s hard to slow down. I remember always laughing at my Dad, thinking he was just slow-moving, who for years would take a good hour to stretch before even coming downstairs for breakfast. And he always took even more time to prepare before one of his epic Sunday bike rides. But now I get it. Since forcing myself to stretch and learn yoga moves, my back has not been a problem. I find even when I’m on a hike and I trip over a log, or branch, something I inevitably do, I recover more quickly from falls. And can’t tell you how often in everyday activities: bending down to put away dishes, weeding, reaching, squatting to pick something up, I am thankful for the flexibility. And, knock on wood, I have not been injured and do believe I owe this to the fact I slow down a few times a week to include this type of training.

Now that I have said it, I’ll go back to just doing-my-thing, not talking about fitness and making it look like my active lifestyle and super-strong arms just developed by chance…

But if you decide you want to chat, or add some of your tips, please comment. I’d love to hear!

The most important lesson I have learned over the last few years:

Being fit and healthy is not a given; it’s a choice.

Think of it like a prescription; would you not take a vitamin your Doctor recommends?

Would you skip a medication?

Don’t skip this, make the time, and the choice to be strong.  Now and for the future you.

And when you are, we’ll put you to the test by taking Balsam down to the river to see who outlasts who, in one of those endless games of river fetch.

My Food Evolution

20090509-DSC07443There are many food moments from my past that now make me cringe.

My interest in eating healthy foods wasn’t a decision, it was more of an evolution over time, and stemmed from a few different places.

It’s no wonder my husband and son were reluctant passengers on my evangelical health kick, but eventually they managed to buy in to it.

There was this period in middle school when my school lunch choice included Hostess Apple Pies, and milk. That’s it. It’s hard to believe the school let me do this! My mom was a great cook, but to counter all her yummy homemade meals, like lasagna and chili, and chicken every-which-way, I also remember growing up with Eggo waffles, Steak Umms, Campbell’s Soup, and Chef Boy R Dee Ravioli.

And Fast Food.

Yup, that bucket of KFC graced our kitchen table many times.

In high school, I had sense enough to stop drinking soda, thankfully, although I can’t remember why I stopped, and still haven’t to this day gone back to it.

Even as an adult, when I was enlightened enough to experiment in the kitchen, preparing Indian, Japanese and Thai meals from scratch, and considered myself a foodie of sorts, I had moments of food regret.

There was the “low carb” stage, where I banned all my favorites: pasta, rice and breads. Oh, how I loved to make an Indian Lamb Biryani, but no more after that…

And the “Balance and Luna Bar” stage, I liked them both.  I would go to work with a few of those in my purse, and basically that’s all I would eat during the day.

I thought this was healthy.

I thought this was a good way to keep from over-eating during the work day.

This was about 12 years ago?

One day, during this time I was chatting with Brooke, my step-daughter, about foods. As a vegetarian she has to constantly check labels to make sure whatever she is about to eat didn’t include meat. Our conversation turned to the “Bars”, and how the ingredients are so weird, these chemicals couldn’t possibly be something we want to put into our bodies, could they?

Honestly, it never even occurred to me to look at the ingredients. But, that discussion convinced me to stop buying them.

And start paying attention to the label.

Around the same time, as an avid reader of the New York Times Magazine, I discovered some of Michael Pollan’s articles on Food and the Food industry, and started delving into his books, my favorite: the Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Soon I loosely based my philosophy on what would eventually become his “Food Rules”:

Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce.

Don’t eat anything with more than a few ingredients.

Eat mostly veggies, sourced locally

Source local meats and buy in bulk.

Buy Organic if possible.

Those were the major ones.

fresh morels foraged from a secret spot in the Vermont woods...

fresh morels foraged from a secret spot in the Vermont woods…

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spring fiddleheads

Also included, forage what you can, as in mushrooms, wild leeks, fiddleheads, berries and other wild edibles, one of the 3-season rituals we are lucky to be able to do because of where we live. On this subject, I was proud to have a heads up on Michael Pollan, because we did this already, and didn’t need to use a guide.

Further complicating my changing views on food, when my son was around 2, while out to eat at one of our favorite Thai restaurants, we innocently ordered Pad Thai and gave some to him for the first time.

Immediately following his taste, he turned red and complained of a burning throat. Thankfully, since we were completely unprepared, he was ok and went back to normal after a few minutes. But that was the first discovery of his severe Peanut Allergy.

After a trip to the allergist, label-reading took on a whole new meaning.

It wasn’t a luxury; it was for Life.

It’s not easy to find safe foods for him to eat, foods that are not processed in the same facility as nuts, so after awhile, I gave up looking and started sourcing safe ingredients and making what we need from scratch. This includes foods like cakes, desserts, breads, granolas, and ice cream.

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The fine print…

It’s kind of interesting how this constant label-reading helped with overall health. Because once you start looking for:

Fewer ingredients.

All natural.

No weird chemicals

No nuts or allergens.

Suddenly you start seeing the other numbers on that label, like how many grams of Sugar. Fiber. How much Sodium.

A few years ago, even though it didn’t fit into my food rules, I allowed myself one favorite processed food for lunch, and had them every day: Morningstar Veggie Burgers. I happened to checked the label—holy moly, the Sodium! Sadly, Veggie Burgers were axed from the shopping list.

And that brings me to today…

When I can, I make foods from scratch and keep trying to add to the list.

My latest big change, as of last fall, is yogurt. I had always heard this was easy to make but never tried it until a friend forwarded a recipe for making it in a crockpot. Hey, I have a crockpot I never use; let’s put it to use! I did, and with a little trial and error, I now make my own Greek yogurt twice a week, and haven’t bought a store brand since. Basically, all you have to do is buy whole milk, set a timer a few times, throw in a little yogurt and wait. then strain it to “Greek” it. I didn’t do this for health reasons, but just love not having to clean out all those yogurt containers before sending them to the recycle bin.

It amazes me how easy making some of this stuff is.

Sometimes it’s easier than having to drive to a store and buy it.

My husband has been great through all of this, and doesn’t mind me being the Food Czar and gatekeeper of the house as long as there are some good things for him to eat like potato chips and chocolate when he wants them. And maybe a little heavy cream to make ice cream.

And, we still eat whatever we want. That’s the amazing part. You get to this point where you only crave the foods that are really worth it. Part of the decision-making process is deciding what needs to stay, along with what should go.

What’s worth it to me?

Dark Chocolate.

Red Wine.

Coffee with cream.

Full fat dairy.

Treats like cookies and brownies and cakes are fine, but they aren’t at the house every day to snack on endlessly.

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Just making sure to read the box, they don’t make a Peanut version do they?

My son? He’s not so happy about having to deal with his allergy, but he has no choice. It’s imperative he starts learning to read labels for himself, for his health and for his safety. I was really proud of him a few weeks ago when he came home from school and told me “The TruMoo Chocolate milk at school has 18 grams of sugar and Hood has 26 grams, so I’m going to choose True-Moo” and then later added “I am only going to choose chocolate milk once or twice a week, because I don’t need so much sugar every day.”

See, you can preach, and they really do listen sometimes!

I love that.

And I love that every time he passes a McDonalds he says “Look, a McEwwww!”

And that he has never tried Soda, and has no desire to try it.

And that it was years before he realized you could actually buy ice cream, you didn’t have to make it.

Awareness isn’t always easy:

There are some challenges.

You can’t just go to the grocery store, get what you need and come home. Sometimes it takes a little time to find all this good stuff, and there are many questions to ask.

Being aware of what you eat sometimes does ruin the desire to eat out, unless it’s really worth it.

Your family and friends may think you are preachy, or a killjoy, when you all get together and suddenly you have some issues with the quality of foods served. My brother Greg is constantly teasing me about all the weird seeds and grains that come with us on the airplane when we fly down for a visit.

Also, it can get overwhelming.  Trying to figure out the balance of where to stop, so I don’t drive myself crazy obsessing over every decision, is a challenge. Where I live in Vermont, there are lots of back-to-basic type people making everything from scratch. Sometimes it’s hard not to get swept up by romanticizing the “idea” behind making everything yourself.

For instance:

I bought a how-to book, and a whole mess of supplies to learn cheese-making. I live in Vermont. We have the best cheeses in this state you could ever ask for. Not necessary, considering the time involved. The book and supplies? Untouched.

I considered getting my own chickens for fresh eggs.  Really, many people in my town do have their own. As of now, I’m thinking no thanks, I can purchase local eggs at the Country Store down the road.

What about Salsa? Hummus? Jelly? Pickles? I have tried making all of these at least once, and determined there are great local sources who can make these better than I can.

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The “Bonus Garden”, where we collect more caterpillars than veggies…

Growing my own veggies? Well, we have enough land, I need to make this happen. But I’m not very good at it yet.  I have been trying over the last few years with some luck (green beans, and kale), but mostly without (everything else, even zucchini!). I call our little garden beds the “Bonus Garden”, because if anything grows, it’s all kind of a “nice surprise”.

I’ll still frequent the farm stands and markets for everything else.

Raising Lambs and Goats for meat and milk? Ok, you city folks probably will not believe this, but the discussion has come up over the years. So far, we have opted out, although my husband has been tempted to bring them in to help him mow the unruly lawn.

A few years ago, my sister-in-law, also Brooke, asked me how I shop, and how I approach healthy foods for my family, because she was struggling over where to begin.

I never answered the question because it’s kind of complicated. But I’ll try now…

The way I look at food and health today accumulated from so much trial and error and experience.

And over time.

And still seems to be evolving.

Every time I read the news or watch a documentary about what’s healthy today, and what isn’t, based on new research, there is even more to evaluate.

Should we eat meat, and if so, how often?

Should we eat dairy?

What’s up with Paleo? Vegan?

Intermittent fasting?

How much Sugar? Sodium? Vitamin D?

Protein, Fats, Carbs? How much of each?

High Fructose Corn Syrup vs. Sugar?

Grass Fed Meats vs Not?

Local?

Gluten?

You can go dizzy trying to keep up.

But if you want to start making better choices today, the first step I would take is to start reading labels.

Try cutting out the chemicals and going for the real food.

Pay attention to the added sugar and sodium.

And as you gain success and are more confident in your food choices, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are not able to make 100% of the changes all at once.

Or if you don’t get that buy in from the family from the beginning.

Or if it’s tough to accomplish at every meal.

There is definitely a learning curve, and every small step you take to eat well now, along with your fitness and portion control plan, will take you and your family one step closer to better health.

Fitness and portion control plan? I know, it was bad for me to throw that in at the end. But we all know food is just one part of healthy living, and that’s a whole story in itself.  Perhaps I’ll write about how my thoughts continue to evolve on that topic in a future post…

Continue reading

Master your Mud Season

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Mud Season has come early to Southern Vermont.

Yesterday I didn’t get out much, but was told it snowed in every town surrounding us, but not here in my own.

It’s really strange. Most of the other snowstorms plaguing New England this season have eluded us as well.

What we see?  Just Rain. Cold. Mud. Slush.

To add insult to injury, and adding more to my glum outlook, I managed to injure myself while walking with my lab, Balsam. Heading towards the river by my house, the mud was so squishy and wet, I hurdled unceremoniously down what I thought was a path, but what was actually a mudslide.  I finally came to a stop when my arm got hooked on a peace of rhebar left over from when the forest service came onto our property to do some work last fall.

My coat ripped. My legs covered in mud. My arm vibrating, I thought, note to self:  Bog Boots are not made for wearing in mud. Next time, I’ll remember…

Ego wounded, I slowly made my way back to the house, where my son helped cover my new wounds with a collection of Tow-Mater and Lightning McQueen band-aids.

This time of year?

It’s not the most inspiring.

And I’m guessing it’s like that for you too.

The thought of another few months of this irritates me; so after some thought, I decided it’s time to reposition the role of Mud-Season in my life.

No more sulking.

No more complaining about cabin fever.

And about how fun Vermont is in every other season but this one.

I need to make the most of this down time, and start thinking about setting some personal goals for the rest of the year, so when spring is here, I’m ready.

And for now? At least it’ll give me a positive outlook and something to look forward to.

I only learned about personal goal-setting a few years ago, but I should have started a long time ago, when I first realized I had lost sight of my hobbies and interests.

I moved to Vermont for a new job  when in my 20s and single, and was experiencing my first mud season in early 1996.  I didn’t know too many people yet. One weekend day, bored and with nothing to do, I hopped in my car and drove an hour and a half to Albany, New York.  I thought, well, it’s the closest city, I’m sure there are things to do there. Lots of shops. And lots of people.

But I was wrong.

In Albany, I just walked around for a few minutes. I poked in a few stores. I had lunch. But I really didn’t want to spend much money.

And about a half hour later, realizing my mistake, I made my way on the long, curvy, dull drive back to Vermont.

What I learned? Shopping and going to stores is not a hobby. Eating out is not a hobby. These are just activities to pass the time.

What else could I do, living on my own, when I was bored?

I had no idea.

Before I moved, I primarily spent my time working and commuting. And in my spare time, shopping, going out with friends to eat, or to see a movie or concerts.  But if someone asked me about my hobbies or interests, aside from a little reading and lots of music, I think I would have been stumped to find more to add.

It finally occurred to me “When in Rome, I need to do like the Romans”, right? When in Vermont…?  Skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Mushroom hunting and hiking in spring. More hiking and gardening and bird-watching and river-rock rambling in summer, and leaf-peeping and more hikes in the fall.

Learning about wildflowers and trees and edible plants and all things nature–that’s where I spent my time after that.

Who would have thought someone like me, this product of suburbia, could morph into a nature-girl.

But I made the transition well over time.

Today, the need for personal growth, learning new skills, and finding new hobbies is even more important, because it’s really easy for our sense of self to just slip away. We have way too much responsibility. With the work day no longer 9-5, our attention is constantly diverted away from things that are important to us. Our spouses and kids, of course, are the top priority, and the house upkeep next. And our community and schools need us too.

The list keeps growing and pulling us in every which way, except the one leading to any personal satisfaction, creativity and growth.

To keep progressing over the last few years, I started to set my sights on confronting activities I always thought I would dislike, and vowed to  never, ever, ever do.

And have found when I succeed in turning a “never“, as I call them, into a hobby, it’s amazing for building confidence. And one success turns into another, and another, and another…

My experiment started a few years ago, when my friend Mary dragged me to a Yoga class after I repeatedly told her I wanted nothing to do with group exercise. Well, guess what? I was nervous. I had never done yoga before. But,  I LOVED it. And we continued to go every Saturday throughout the summer until the program ended.

I always said I would never, ever do exercise videos, because I hated those too (although, as with the yoga classes, I had never tried them before). Well, since the day I nervously forced myself to press play on that video a few years ago,  I  continue to challenge myself through some pretty harrowing programs that now, even after the fact, I still can’t believe I ever did.

How’s that for building confidence? I never would have known I was capable of doing a pull-up, and many other scary-looking moves, but hey, now I do!

A non-fitness challenge I tackled a few years ago was learning to fly-fish. My husband is into it. I always said I didn’t want to learn. Why? No reason. I just assumed I wouldn’t like it.  I signed up for a weekend course, with my friend Kiernan for moral support, and loved it, took a second class last summer, and am continuing my education this spring because I still have a ton to learn. I wrote about this experience if you want to check it out later….http://www.orvisnews.com/Women-in-Fly-Fishing/Giving-in-to-fly-fishing.aspx

This year, I forced myself to get back on skis for the first time in about 15 years.  And ice skates too.

But I haven’t been back to an exercise class for 3 or 4 years, so maybe that’s something I need to change this spring.  Since it has been awhile, I went back to being scared of them.

Another goal I have is to step up my vegetable gardening skills. How I’m going to do this, I’m not sure.  But this is a good time to figure it all out.

Think about it.

Do you have abandoned hobbies that you are scared to go back and try?

Is there something else you want to learn?

I’m not talking about things for you to do with your kids, because they like it, what are you personally interested in?

I have been really inspired by some of my friends lately. My friend Susanne started felting as a hobby, and has now made it her business. My friend Lynn took some painting classes last year, and is now a full-time artist. Eve gave snowboarding and strength training a try last year–very brave! And is continually challenging herself with some really cool knitting and textile projects.  Kiernan learned to fly fish with me, and is still working on it, but continues to challenge herself with different workout classes, even after the longest days and at strange times, because they offer her some much-needed time for herself.

I met a very inspiring woman during my second fly fishing class last June. She was in her mid-50s, and a teacher. She told me that during her summer breaks she finds one new activity to learn, and works on it all summer. Most of the other women in that fly fishing class were there because their husbands “sent” them. They were scared to death, and didn’t really want to be there. But this gal, Mary, was there because she thought it would be really cool to learn, and on her own too. And she does something like this for herself every year!

I love that.

And want to be just like that.

So what about you, are you with me?

Take a chance.  Carve out some time.  And start planning…

I can see the clouds-lifting, the mud drying, and the confidence-building already.