Just Breathe

Sometimes it just feels good to breathe. And sometimes I need a reminder to do that!

It’s funny how we seem to need to be reminded to slow down, not speed up. You’d think that it would be the opposite. But at least in my world, if one is good ten is better. With all of the striving and dreams and goals and desires I find that when left to my own devices I’m more inclined to move faster and pile on the activity than to slow down and rest.

Lately I’ve felt myself enter that uncomfortable in-between. Change is on the horizon; not a big change, but enough to shake some stuff up. But it’s not here yet. And I hate that. As soon as I’m ready for change, I want it NOW. I want to know exactly what’s going to happen and have everything all planned out. I have no patience, no chill, and I hate feeling underprepared. When I’m stuck in this “just wait” mode I find myself getting restless, edgy, and bratty. And there’s nothing I can do about it. The more I spin and try to predict the future, the more I miss the present. And the present is pretty damn good and would be a shame to miss.

The only action in this space is just to breathe. Just breathe and allow it to be. It’s kind of the worst. But in those little slices of moments where I find myself being present and forgetting about all of my stress and unknowing, it’s a pretty peaceful place.

So here is your daily reminder to breathe, let life do its thing, and find peace in the in-between.

Go make it a great day!

xoxo Emily

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So Done: Rewriting Unhelpful Patterns

So, I treadmilled last night.

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I didn’t really want to. I mean, who wants to run on a treadmill when there’s the whole outside to run in? But I really, really felt like moving my body in some way, and I had Buttercup with me so running outside wasn’t an option. I also didn’t really want to pay the $5 for childcare at the gym, and it was getting late in the evening and I knew we wouldn’t make it to CrossFit in time. So, I put on my run gear, handed Buttercup her tablet to keep her occupied, and did my run on the treadmill in the apartment gym. We got it done, and treated ourselves to sushi afterwords.

Honestly, I was sort of surprised at myself. Who is this woman?!? Normally I would look at the clock and say, “Whelp, I guess a workout isn’t happening tonight!” and go watch Netflix. But I’m sort of tired of being that person. To be clear, there’s certainly nothing wrong with foregoing a workout for downtime, and I do enjoy those nights where I spontaneously clear my calendar and turn my to-do list over so I can veg out and stop thinking about responsible things for awhile. But I found that “Ignore All the Things” has been becoming less about de-stressing and more about an unhealthy coping mechanism for me. And I don’t like it.

So I’ve been noticing all the reasons that inspire me to let my healthy habits slide – a late night, a grumpy mood, an unexpected engagement that throws my schedule off – and how I choose to respond to those stimuli. And so much of it is about just not being prepared. So I’m slowly figuring out what systems no longer serve me, and rewriting them. I mean, this is what I do for a living, guys – process engineering. And yesterday, the first thought system to be rewritten is “It’s too hard to work out when I have the kids home.” Because I totally figured out how to get a decent run in, spend time with my kiddo, and still have a great evening together.

What patterns in your behavior are you so done with? Any thought systems or other systems in your life you want to set out to rewrite?

Go make it a great day, friends!

Food Police: Be Your Own Health Advocate

The other day a friend posted an article on Facebook about the latest nutrition “news”. My eyes couldn’t roll back in my head hard enough. It wasn’t as much about the content of the article – yet another study has come out saying coconut oil is unhealthy for you, like all saturated fats you know – but of this underlying message that there is a “right” way and a “good” way to eat.

Can we just stop with the food morality?

Food is not “good” or “bad”. It is not “healthy” and “unhealthy.” Depending on your context, however, it can do good things or damaging things to you personally. But what’s good for one person isn’t necessary good for all people.

Some do better on a plant-based diet. Some bodies respond well to a high-fat diet. Some delight in peanut butter while it would literally kill someone else. The thing is what we decided to put in our bodies is no one’s business but our own. And it’s up to us to pay attention, listen to our body, and give it what it needs. No one can tell you what’s best but you.

You are your best health advocate.

That’s all of my ranting for now, go make it a great day!

There Is No Wagon

I had an absolute meltdown the other morning. A wonderful meltdown, because it led me to a wonderful revelation. For quite a few weeks now I’ve been trying to get back into a regular exercise routine. For me, the strategy is to incorporate it into a routine part of my day so that it becomes habit for me, a no-brainer that I don’t need to think about. And the most logical place for me is to plug it into my morning, first thing. I get up, brush my teeth, drink some water, then hit the gym or run. And it’s been a great way to start my day.

However, there is one little thing that keeps derailing my “exercise every day” goal. And that little thing is my little daughter. On the days I have my kids, my 3-year-old usually wakes up sometime in the middle of the night and makes her way to my bed. If I’m not in bed with her when she wakes up, she hunts me down and cries and fusses and generally starts the day off with a meltdown.

Now ideally – and this is what so many other parents are able to successfully do – I try to get up way before my kids wake up so I can get a home workout in before the house starts stirring and demanding attention. This should be easy. However, every time I gently roll out of bed and tip-toe downstairs to sneak outside to the cold, dusty patio, I’ll just be loading weights on my bar when a frantic, sobbing 3-year-old in Paw Patrol jammies launches herself at me accusing, “I didn’t know where you were! You were gone! I was so scared!”

I mean, how do you even respond to that?

And so I hold her and I console her, and usually I take her back to bed with me, because it is still ridiculously early for her. I coax her back to sleep for an hour or so while I just lay there next to her, wide awake and in my gym gear, my feelings ping-ponging between the love and comfort of snuggling my little one to bed, and seething in resentment that can’t I just have this one time to myself to get my stuff done? I mean, she owns me all throughout the day, is it too much to ask if I have from 9pm until 6am to myself??

And so here I was, laying in bed next to my tiny daughter, and it suddenly occurred to me that she’s almost 4 years old. And her brother is almost 7. And she’ll grow out of this eventually, this crawl-in-mommy’s-bed-every-night habit. And I know I’m going to miss it so hard.

In another year or so she’ll be fine and won’t be climbing into my bed every night. And then I get sad that she won’t always be this small, dependent, and cuddly. Do I really want to give up these quiet mornings of snuggles and closeness for exercise? Am I prepared to start paying the cost of having my kids need me less?

I don’t know if I’m really ready for that yet, because I know it’ll come sooner than I’m prepared for. Soon they’ll be requesting slumber parties with their friends, asking me to drop them off at school around their corner so their friends won’t see me. They’ll stop giving me hugs and kisses and start hiding behind closed doors and giving me one-word “grunt” answers to “how’s your day been?” They’ll be dating. Breaking curfew. Planning for college. Then one day moving out and holy crap I’ll be an empty-nester and then I’ll totally have all the time in the world to exercise anytime for as long as I want!

So to the moms of small children out there who struggle to find time to take care of yourselves and feel guilty about it: if you can’t find the time to consistently exercise and it is stressing you out, that is totally and completely okay to just not work out. You are not indifferent to your health, lazy, or uncommitted. And if you can’t give yourself permission to not feel guilty about not having “structure” or “a routine”, then let me give it to you. You have the permission to drop the idea that you need to work out every day if trying to fit it into a day that already starts too early, ends too late, and has approximately zero amount of self-care time built in is causing you stress and shame. Because this is just a phase of life and This Too Shall Pass. Soon you will sleep through the night again, have time in the evening to cook a real meal and even maybe sit down to a TV show uninterrupted or be able to go to the bathroom alone. I know, right?? Such dreams. But it’ll happen someday.

Now, I’m not saying never work out. When you have the opportunity, seize it! Had the baby off to the other parent, and jet off to the gym. Use a lunch break to squeeze in a run. And when you can get it done, relish it and feel good that your doing something good for yourself. But don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not doing enough, that you need to “get with the program” or “get back on the wagon,” because I’ll tell you a secret …

There is no wagon.

So just do what you can, let go of what you can’t, and just live your life. Because if you can find the happy and joy, you get to model how to be happy and joyous to your impressionable little ones who are always watching, and isn’t that what parenting is really all about?

And the little kid snuggles are so, so worth it.

Go make it a great day, friends!

Guess Who’s Back

You guys, I went and did it.

2018-08-01 CrossFit Cert

I signed up to take my CrossFit Level 1 Coaching Certification!

This has been on my bucket list for a while, and I noticed I had no kids and no plans yet for Labor Day weekend. So I got inspired to check out the CrossFit website and see when the next certification weekends were taking place. While I didn’t find any within the Bay Area, I did see that there was one in Park City, UT that weekend. What if I made a fun weekend of it? Cashing in some of my airline miles and a quick Airbnb reservation later, and I’m going to CrossFit Camp in the mountains over Labor Day!

Meanwhile, I haven’t been to CrossFit in over 3 months. And I took a break for what seems to me like the silliest reason – my ex-husband still attends the gym, and I just didn’t want to run into him. Even though I’m a morning exerciser and he has set days in the evenings that he goes, I still felt icky-weird when I walked in for my usual 6am class and saw his name on the board from yesterday’s WOD. But I really, really missed it. At home I would lift on my patio when the mood struck me, I signed up at the local 24Hour Fitness, and I picked up running again. I looked into maybe attending at another gym, but they’re all a good half hour drive from my home, and I know that turning a 1-hour time commitment into a 2-hour time commitment will not work for me. But I miss MY gym. I miss the intensity, the community, and the variety. I miss being pushed to develop skills that I just don’t think to do on my own. I miss the expertise and knowledge of the coaches, having that resource available to advise on a modification or teach a new mobility exercise.

I knew I wanted to get back to the gym. My gym. And I know that it’s a small town, and I can’t be able to avoid the ex forever. So I worked really, really hard to clear out my stuff. I went to therapy, support groups, and classes when I could. I read books, developed my own “Divorce Recovery” program, and worked it one day at a time. I knew that I wanted to get on the other side of this beast with love and compassion for all involved. And I wasn’t perfect. The snarky text to him would slip on occasion. I found myself in the victim role more than a few times. But every time I would reset my focus on the goal to get on the other side with love and compassion.

After doing this work for several months, I went back to CrossFit last week. I took it easy considering I’ve lost a lot of strength, and it felt great to be in the class again. We did a deadlift-power snatch complex and a 12-min AMRAP with barbell lunges, pike push-ups, and double-unders and my life was complete and thank you and goodnight. And that icky-weird feeling, while still there a little bit, was overpowered by my excitement and satisfaction on being back.

I still have a long way to go and a lot of work left to do, but for now I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I can start to live my life again and enjoy the things that make me happy. Even if those things mean I have super-sore glutes for like three days 🙂

Go make it a great day, kids!

A Worthy Opponent

(Edit: don’t worry, Mom, everything is fine!)

Just for Today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life-problem at once. I can do some things for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

– Frank Crane

Last week, I recognized that I had slowly sank into a depressive state. It was nothing scary, dramatic, or cause for alarm. I was simply noticing that every morning it was increasingly harder to get out of bed, every day it was tougher to focus at work and to stay on task, and I found myself avoiding texts and calls and flaking on events, preferring to sit alone in silence. As much as I love my alone-time, I could tell that this particular alone-time wasn’t restorative. If you were to talk to me during this time, you would probably have no idea. I’m able to be exuberant and engaging in front of people, then close the door and allow everything to shut down.

It took me a while to recognize this as depression. It feels so different than what I had experienced in the past. Instead of the dark cloud of hopelessness that told me to just give up, this is sort of a blanket of fatigue and fuzziness. It’s warm and comforting but at the same time wholly unnatural. I should want to do things I enjoy doing. I should want to get up and enjoy my peaceful mornings during these long summer days. I should want to call and meet up with my friends. But I simply kept saying “no” to myself. That I was too tired. That it wasn’t the right time. That what I need is to be alone right now. When in all actuality, being alone is the absolute worst thing for depression.

The hardest thing in the world to do when you’re in a depressed state is to reach out. The phone weighs a million pounds, and coffee with a friend is far too daunting of an operation to try and coordinate. You battle the demons that tell you that you’re really okay, and you don’t want to burden anyone else with your troubles, and all your friends are super busy and you’d had to interrupt them. But I know if it were me that my friend is calling and telling me they’re having a rough time, I will drop everything to be there. I know now how important it is. So I made the call, my friend and I had a gorgeous hike as we talked stuff out, and my load feels so much lighter now. I was able to clear some of the space to “do the next right thing,” as Glennon Doyle says.

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And this new-to-me trail we discovered did not suck.

I still have work to do. We always will. And sometimes just picking up the phone and taking that first step to say, “this is really hard right now” is the hardest.

If you suffer from depression, or even from something and you don’t even know (or want to know) what to call it, you’re not alone. It’s a frustrating, deceptive disease that I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to get on top of. I gladly accept this challenge, because I know I am a worthy opponent.

Go make it a great day, kids!

If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, do not hesitate to call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Jet Lag and Playing Small

Hello and happy Wednesday! I’m still recovering from jet lag over here. I just returned from my surprise work trip to Sydney, Australia on Sunday, and though it’s 5:15am here on the U.S. West Coast, my brain and body want me to believe it’s actually 10pm. I am quickly running out of coffee. Send provisions.

But my trip was AMAZING. Most of it was work, but I stayed an extra day so I could do some touristy things. I would have felt shattered if I didn’t travel to the other side of the planet and not see at least ONE koala.

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Also, the hotel I stayed at had hands-down the most awesome hotel gym ever. It was actually a REAL gym/health club that hotel guests could use for free. I forgot how nice it was to have a gym in the same building!

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I am SO NOT COMFORTABLE with public gym pics

Okay, time for some real talk, y’all. The past few years have been tough. I started this blog seven (!!) years ago with the intention of defining myself as a “fitness” person. I thought that if I blogged about my workouts and diet I would magically become all fit and healthy and find a voice and tribe and be a prominent leader in the blogosphere. I absolutely love and enjoy reading blogs, and writing for my own is super fun for me. But I get hung up on the wrong things. I constantly get swept up in the comparison trap, trying to mimic the bloggers I admire when I’ve never been one to fit in any sort of mold. I immediately jump to “oh, I should monetize my blog and try to make money, or it’s not worth my time,” instead of enjoying the process as a hobby for what it is. And worst of all, I get stuck in Impostor Syndrome, feeling that I have nothing of value to share, and “what do I think I know” and “who do I think I am” and all the other crazy negative self talk that comes with trying to lay the guard down and put yourself out there.

The truth is, I think about blogging every. single. day. In my head, I narrate events in my life for a future post. But that post is rarely written. And often, I half-write a draft and it just sits there until it’s no longer relevant and I end up deleting it. I just don’t make the time. And quite honestly, I’m scared to, as well. I’m scared to be real about my struggles and faults and Real Life stuff. Because I don’t like only showing the glossy good days and upsides; it’s not real, and you deserve real. You deserve to read something relatable and authentic, because there’s enough of the “everything is amazing and look how awesome I am” content out there. And the biggest of all, I’m tired of hiding parts of myself. I’m tired of separating and isolating the “personal me” with the “public me” with the “professional me”. While there is a line between what’s personal and what’s intimate, and there is a time and a place for disclosure and sharing, I am tired of being so cautious about how I present myself here, in my own freakin’ space on the internet that I pay for. I shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with who I am and what I’m up to. I’m tired of playing small.

I want to blog more. Whether I actually get down to making the time for it or not is yet to be witnessed. But I wanted to throw it out there, see what the Universe has in mind for this little corner of the internets. Odds are pretty good that I’ll keep writing half-draft posts every month or so that never see the light of day. Or maybe my blog will take a new direction, with whatever inspiration comes my way. Whatever the case, if you made it reading down this far, thank you for hanging in there with me while I sorted out my thoughts.

That was a lot. Here, I will share an amusing meme with you that I had posted to Instagram last week:

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source

Now go make it a great day!

Trust the Process

Breaking my Social Media Break for a “life events” update. Don’t worry, it’s good news!

Back in early January, my company was acquired and I was laid off as part of the merger. You know, because of course. Thanks, Universe.

But as my dear friend Brittany said, the Universe wanted me to have a clean slate. And apparently I work better with eviction notices anyway! I chose to not stress too much, and to just see where this journey takes me.

I made sure to view this time as an opportunity to hang with my kids more, discover a new yoga practice, plan more lunch dates and hikes around the lake with friends, and do some of the stuff I couldn’t do before while working the 9-5. Like napping. Omg, #bringingnapback

And I hit the job search hard. I had many wonderful friends offer contacts and leads, and I just had fun with looking back at all the things I loved about my career so far, all the fun stuff I got to do and the cool people I had the pleasure to work with, and just enjoyed the process for what it was: a chance for me to unabashedly brag about myself!

The fruits of my unemployed labor were soon rewarded when I received not one, but TWO incredible offers. Really great opportunities that I knew I would totally enjoy being a part of. It was a very difficult decision to make (I may have cried a bit), but after completing my first day in my new role, I feel like I made a great choice, and I can’t wait to dig in deeper with what they have in store for me.

Now, it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows and freshly baked bread. There was more than one moment that I wondered how I would pay rent next month, and let’s just say I’m a leeeetle bit in credit card debt right now. But I kept faith that things would work out, that just enough money would be there when I needed it, and I just needed to trust in the process and know that it’s being taken care of as long as right now I do the next right thing. Because if I chose to stress and freak out, it wouldn’t change the amount in my bank account, or help me ace that interview. My situation was going to remain my situation whether I laughed or cried. And I do love a good laugh.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that life happens for a reason. Sometimes drama happens and it’s hard and it sucks and it’s not what we want, but it gets us to where we’re supposed to be going, as opposed to where we think we should be. And the more we fight the process and the circumstance, the more we miss the simple joys and the lessons it has the potential to give us. There is purpose to the pain.

Trust the process. Trust the pitfalls. Trust that the crap going on in your life right now is there for a reason, even if the reason is to remind you how much you hate crap. Maybe if that’s your context, it’s time for a change?

Go make it a great day, kids.

Moments of Happy

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you have a productive week in store for you!

The other morning I was at my usual Starbucks stop, and after the barista handed me my coffee-black-like-my-soul-with-a-few-ice-cubes-for-chugging-temperature order, I took my first sip and had THAT moment. I noticed that this is one of my most favorite parts of my day, that first sip of coffee. It’s sink back and sigh good. It’s the moment when the world stops good.

So of course I Instagrammed it.

And I noticed how there are some dependable moments in life where time just seems to stop as we take in the happy that is in front of us. I started mentally logging some of these instances so I could start anticipating them:

  • The first sip of my coffee in the morning
  • Looking up in the late fall sky in the evening to see a gorgeous sunset that’s all golden with those pink and purple clouds
  • Maxing out on a lift I haven’t worked on in weeks
  • That part in my morning routine when my 3-year-old daughter just rolls out of bed and needs me to hold her for a few minutes until she’s fully awake and ready to put her day under siege
  • When my favorite song comes on my playlist and no one’s around so I can jam and sing loudly and poorly to it
  • When I’m on a run and it’s been a while and my body is fully warmed up and ready to go, and I feel like I’m flying
  • Watching my kids giggle and wrestle with each other like little bear cubs on my bed, while I toss pillows and blankets on them
  • Curling up in bed with my tea and my book at the end of the day

I’m starting to call these my “Moments of Happy.” They don’t all happen every day, but I try to plan on having at least a couple Moments of Happy in my everyday routine. And if I don’t have one, I start figuring out how to cultivate it. Sometimes it’s the anticipation of a good Moment of Happy that encourages me to pull out of bed in the morning. Or sometimes that Moment of Happy is just lounging in bed a few more minutes, with the knowledge that on this particular morning I don’t have any urgent tasks that I need to jump on yet!

What kind of Moments of Happy do you notice in your day?

Go make it a great day!

Finding the Happy

Note: I found this post in my Drafts folder, written over two years ago. Two years, and while I’m much better at this, I still have to remind myself to not wait for perfection to be happy!

I’ve tried to start this post several times, but it has never seemed to come out sounding right. But we’re rolling with it right now, because there’s no time like the present. Hope you’re ready for a woo-woo, deep thoughts kind of post.

h7837F123Whatever. You love it.

Lately, I’ve been having more bad days than good ones. This may come as a surprise to some people, especially if you know me personally, because generally I don’t let folks in when stuff is bothering me. But over the years I’ve turned into a bit of a negative person. Or maybe I’ve always been a negative person but thought I was a positive thinker, and finally have been seeing they layers peel off as I try to be more honest and authentic to who I am. I don’t know, but it’s been more and more apparently lately that I’m unhappy. Which is ridiculous, since I really have absolutely nothing in my life that should make me unhappy. I have a great job, a loving family, I live in my dream city, all the things that could make a person happy are right here in front of me. And yet I feel like something’s missing.

Then the other day it clicked for me: I thought happiness would come when everything is perfect. It would be effortless and automatic, something I didn’t have to think about. And until I found that perfect formula, found the elusive balance between all of the forces that pull a person apart – personal wants and needs, caring for others, work, family, goals, chores, downtime – that I would be unhappy. And that’s not it at all. Not even close. Somehow, and I wish I could articulate it better because it was such a game-change for me, but somehow I came to the understanding that happiness is from within. I choose, despite outside influences, in the face of all the other failures and difficulties the day can throw at me, I choose to be happy.

Mind. Blown.

4fe0c2fc9d25fec798f72e887461008eOkay, now y’all are probably sitting there like, “Duh! You just figured this out, did ya?” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I have no idea what she’s talking about.” Either way, it is so hard to explain what it’s like to have a total mind shift. And I cannot tell you how it felt to suddenly realize that “the power to go home has always been in my ruby slippers” and to change how I felt about life events and the world in general, all I have to do is click my heels three times and put my mind in a better perspective.

When people tried to explain this concept to me in the past, I thought it was that mind-over-matter, fake-it-till-you-make-it crap. Oh, yeah, I’m just supposed to ignore all the things that are going wrong and just, like, shut my eyes and pretend they don’t exist, and suddenly I’ll be happy? Um, they’re still there. How do you just ignore problems? You don’t. You have to fix them.

But you don’t have to be miserable doing it.

b3f71b46c6eb5721c39818d62b484b80For me, it took seeing what I wanted the end game to be for my problems. To take myself out of the here and now, and look at the big picture, the 10-year, down-the-road scope of it all. Does this really matter? Will it always be this way? Chances are, no. So why do I allow myself to be so sad over things I can’t control or are not permanent? I don’t need to. I can make my own happy, and still work on stuff without letting it work on me.

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With this new revelation, I’m ready for change. I’ve been “trying” to change for the better part of a year now with less than successful results. But I haven’t been the master of this voyage, my emotions and feelings have. I base my decisions on how I feel at that moment, not how my actions will make me feel long-term. Stressed at work? Eat some cookies to deal with it. Too tired to work out? Oh, go back to bed; the gym will be there tomorrow. Hurt or angry about something? Better hold that ish and don’t tell anyone, you better not let other people know you have real emotions like a real human! But I don’t have to be a slave to my impulses. I can choose to respond rather than react.

I’m going to try and put these principles in action, and see what difference it makes. To choose to be happy with what is here in front of me now, and to let go of the stuff that’s not in my realm at this time. Because, you know, n=1 experiments are fun!

Go make it a great day!