Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just another metaphor...

I always like the end of the month.  For teachers, it is a pay day, but I have always liked these days.  It is funny that we watch all these television specials in December that talk about the year in review.  Does anyone ever review their months? Or for that matter, their weeks or days?

I have always been fascinated with calendars.  When my OCD was really bad, I remember having five different calendars and planners.  They all recorded the same information.  The actual information was irrelevant; it was more about the comfort of exerting some control on my surroundings.  

Right now, I only have one calendar.  It seems to be a necessity with the nature of my job.  I don't wear a watch either, which says a lot about how far I have come.  Still, at the end of every month I take a few moments to think about the successes and failures of the month.

This month was incredibly progressive.  I had a lot of adventures, tried new things, had some moments of deep thinking, and plenty of moments of laughter.  I was moved to tears a few times, and made some grandiose plans for the future.  I did a lot of dreaming this month, and a lot of reflecting on the past.

I know that no one wants to read a blog about someone that gushes about herself, but I have to give myself credit.  I look at the past 2.5 years, and am amazed at the development of my "self."  There were victories and defeats. I think I probably spent an awful lot on Kleenex....  In the end, I came out ahead.  I look at this time as tremendous growth.  I became closer to family, I developed some positive friendships, and I pushed myself to grow and engage the world around me.

I still have a long way to go, but I am getting there.  I have always considered myself a "work in progress."  Today I ran with Jesse, and we ended up heading to the top of a hill.  I think it was a fitting choice for the end of the month.  When we reached the "mount" (which is funny, because we were in town), I was able to survey the success of my journey.  I don't think you have to think too deeply to see the metaphor there..

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's ok to be awed...

 I have to wonder if my life always had this flow and order to it, or if I am creating order to make sense of everything.  Regardless, it is always a comforting feeling to have a balance between order and chaos.

Recently, I have had a lot of conversations with random people about intention.  By random, I mean RANDOM.  People I talk to in stores, friends over drinks, a Greek Orthodox priest...  Everyone had interesting responses to the discussion on intention (including my friend saying "what the hell was your intention in talking to a Greek Orthodox priest?!?).  I wanted to know if people lived purposeful and intentional lives, or if they just meandered about.

I thought about this a lot over the past week--would I want a short life of intention and thought and happiness and intense feelings? or a guaranteed long life of wandering around and randomly bumping into events?

Most definitely I would choose the life of intensity, deliberation and awe.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, studied, contemplated.  And a life of intention and direction seems like a good fit for me.

I was having a conversation with someone last night in a Subway restaurant.  I was in my fiery speech about living a life of purpose and intention.  I went on to say that my life recently has been full of meaning, full of random events (which for me seems to be a result of being intense), and full of fun.  I am happy and content with my life, and am at peace with the future.

"You must have a hard time with long-term relationships."

Yes, someone just said this to me...

An automatic response from anyone would have been to be defensive and ugly.  Instead, I said "do tell," and listened.

He said that I am an incredibly intense and intelligent woman, and that is scary and intimidating to men.  Fair enough.

I started thinking about that, and the different approach I have had on life lately.  I have to wonder what my friends are thinking when they hear my stories.  A lot of them comment that I should write them down, but they have to be silently wondering if I have lost it.  Of course, my friend Debra openly comments that I have lost it. :-)

I will say that I think I am pretty sane.  I guess a person is not a good judge of their own sanity, but I like to think I have a level head.  I just know when to appreciate beauty, when to stop and feel the raindrops instead of running inside, when to stop and watch a sunset, or drive to a random church and stare at a painting of Jesus for an hour.

Intention and intensity are the things I am looking for in my future.  I want to live a life of meaning, and to feel all that is around me.  A day where I can laugh and cry is a day well spent.  I want to feel the words and wisdom around me, drum to the rhythm in life, and cry during the sunset. 

I was at a conference in the autumn, and I remember hearing the speaker say, "It's ok to be AWED."  It took a few minutes for people to realize that the word AWED was in there instead of ODD.  I thought about this for about a week, and it came back to me last night.

Awed means "A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might."

I can TOTALLY be awed... ;-) 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Well, today was a rough day at work. It was kind of a rough day for life in general.

Which always makes it hard to get to the gym...

Still got there twenty minutes early for my training session, but it was noticed that I wasn't my usual self.  Lack of sleep and a lot on one's mind will do that to a person.  I put that all aside for a pretty intense session.  I won't say I was about to die, but I think for a moment, I thought I might come close.  Then I saw a quick mental picture of me zipping off the treadmill, and the possibility of public humiliation kept me going. ;-)

What I did learn (besides the fact that I am no marathon runner) is that I am an incredibly strong and resilient creature.  I gave it everything I had, and then some, and came out still standing.  How many people can say that every day?

That started me thinking...  When was the last time you woke up in the morning and gave everything you had in everything you did for an entire day?  It's hard. We are humans, and we need breaks.  There are no superheros in the real world.  And, let's face it, we hate those people that pretend they are superhuman.

I am serious, though. When was the last time you gave everything you had for even an hour?  I mean every single fiber of your spirit...  until sweat and snot and yuckiness poured from you (and you started to vomit)... Ok, don't go that far...

This whole journey has just begun, but it has been an incredible ride.  I am having more fun and meeting more people in this short time than I had in years.  I am pushing myself to try new things for the sake of learning and fun, and I am learning so much about myself in the process.  I really am learning to love myself, which can be a hard thing to do.

You ask any person what they would change about themselves, and they can think of at least ten items without blinking an eye.  Ask them to name the things they like about themselves, and they looked at you as if you have just asked them to commit a crime. I have never been a person that likes to talk about myself, but for the sake of this project I will indulge.  It does feel good to recognize the good things in my life anyway.

So, here is a running list of the things I love about myself (in no particular order):

1. I have beautiful eyes.
2. I am compassionate.
3. I am funny.
4. I cook well.
5. I am willing to try new things.
6. I am smart.
7. I am a dedicated person, and stick to things when I put my mind to it.
 8. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty.
9. I have a decent balance of quirkiness and level-headedness.
10. I think a lot (and my thoughts have meaning).
11. I do things to help others, and to make their lives more enriched.
12. I am a good teacher.
13. I am a great mother.
14. I really do like my nose.
15. I have learned that despite my past, my legs are strong and work hard for me.
16. I have curves. I have learned to accept it, and even embrace it.
17. I speak to people with purpose, and try to inspire them to find meaning in their lives.
18. I am patient.
19. I know a lot of random information that usually comes up in trivia competitions.
20. I AM A STRONG, INTELLIGENT, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN that is creating wonderful  memories and embracing life...

The list could go on...

Have you started your own list? And have you told others what makes them great? We don't do this a lot, and it's unfortunate.  Some people are quick to criticize or belittle, but they are not as gracious with the compliments.  I would like to see a change to that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Drumming to my own beat...

Well, today started drum lessons.  I will tell you I was incredibly intimidated as I sat down in front of the drum set.  It had been a long time since I have played any type of music, and playing drums is a lot different than most other instruments.

Still, it was INCREDIBLE!!!  I mean, in reality, I sucked... 

Ok, it wasn't that bad.  But I wasn't great.  But the best part?

I was OK with it!  I had fun and relaxed!  I can't tell you how great it felt to not worry about what the world thought, to admit I was not great at something, to relax, and to enjoy the journey.  After all, that is what learning is really supposed to be about.  That is really what LIFE is supposed to be about.

I am not living my life for anyone else.  And ultimately, my time is spent making awesome experiences for myself and those around me.  My goal is not to limit myself by stressing about what I can't do perfectly.  Instead, I want to experience everything I can get my hands on and just ENJOY life.  It's really too short anyway...

So, I have plenty of homework in drumming, training tomorrow, books to read, road trips to plan, cake decorating to begin, and Dad just got home from a trip.  He brought me a pair of new hiking shoes.  Guess he knows I am ready for an adventure. ;-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Max Capacity

When was the last time you worked your body to the point of physical exhaustion?  I am not talking about "oh, I am tired." Or feeling a little sore...


I have been training hard, but never as hard as today.  It has been incredibly neat, because my body has been incredibly fickle over these years.  And there are really no guarantees over what will happen for me in the future.  The fact that I could have a workout like today was nothing short of a miracle.

The idea of panting and sweating and collapsing on the floor probably doesn't seem like fun to anyone else, but I celebrated! And I will be back tomorrow...

I am starting my drum lessons tomorrow, and will be booking my hot air balloon ride for April (when the trees are in bloom).  There are a lot of projects in the works. :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

What If?

What if you only lived another ten years?

Would you live life drastically different, or keep going along the same path?  

And do you think ten years of intense, thought-provoking memories can equal fifty years of mindless meandering?

Something to ponder on a Monday evening...

And here is a picture of the end of the sunset I saw this evening on the way home from the specialist in Murfreesboro.  I stopped on the side of the road to enjoy the sunset, and it was magnificent!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Change in Plans

This IS my project, so I thought long and hard about it...

And I change my mind on something...

The goal where I will travel to another country- I have already done it.  After high school, I went to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  It was an incredible experience.  I know I eventually want to travel to another country again, but for the purposes of this project I want to change my goal to something else.  It is travel-related, but I think it will be better for my soul.

I am going to take a road-trip. :-)

Not sure where I am going yet, but the idea of being on the road is intoxicating.  The freedom of traveling light and stopping when I please.  Carrying a camera and snapping pictures of the people and places along my journey.  That seems thrilling to me.

A good adventure is what my spirit needs right now.  And Dad says Alabama is like another country anyway. ;-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Music Lessons

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." ~Aldous Huxley

I grew up with music playing in the background of my life.  My parents were young when I was born, and what is now "classic rock" was constantly playing in our home.  I always enjoyed that there was music in the house, and that there wasn't a specific genre that we had to choose. As we grew up, we covered all of the major types of music. I will even admit that we listened to country, and I attended a few country concerts in my day.

My family has a fair amount of musical talent.  My father played percussion in the high school band.  I believe it was because he could carry the bass drum...  My mother played flute, and was very talented.  I chose the flute and piccolo in school, and my brother played the saxophone.  We have always enjoyed playing and listening, and we do have a pretty mean family competition of Rock Band. :-)

I always feel like there is a soundtrack running in my head.  Throughout my day, I can pair different songs with what I am experiencing at the moment.  It can be an awesome ability, or it can be time-consuming.  I have often become distracted thinking about what song would fit with what I am feeling, like my life is some sort of movie.  I don't think the rest of the world really cares what song it would be.  I think that I think too much sometimes...

I knew that one of my goals would be to approach some sort of musical skill.  I didn't really want to make a goal out of attending a concert or something, because the truth is in recent past I have attended a very fair share of concerts: Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Journey, Foreigner, BB King, U2, and the list goes on...
But I haven't touched a musical instrument in a LONG time.  And I have always wanted to learn to play the drums.  Drummers fascinated me. Don Henley had some impressive skills, Phil Collins was always rocking, and when I was at the U2 concert, I kept my eyes on Larry Mullen the whole time.  There's a certain power behind the drums, and I find it captivating.  Now, I will attempt to learn the method.

Music has always played a big part in my life.  I am grateful for the opportunity to attempt this portion of the project, and for the kindness of a friend, Mandy Contreras, who will be teaching me basic drum method. I will definitely post a picture next week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lose Control

For all of my life, I was only happy when I was in control.  I was a bit high-strung as a child, and I liked to know what was going on all of the time.  My parents joked that when I was a baby, they had to "crank my swing" and bring me in whatever room they were working in.  I always needed to have contact with people, and needed to feel like I had control of the situation.

That's probably where I developed an unhealthy fascination with numbers.  I will admit that as a child, I would add up numbers in license plates and on random items, and felt comfort when the numbers made sense.  I told this to my trainer yesterday while I was running, and he laughed.  He said it was pretty strange, and he joked that I clung to numbers because "they wouldn't fail me."  It was funny, but also true.  Math always had an answer, and there was no gray area; I could always maintain control.

As I grew up, there were many areas of my life that I kept under wraps.  I always wanted to do the best in school, I could never make a grade that was less than perfect, and I had a very solid and organized plan of what I wanted to do with my life.

Once I got out of school, I realized I was miserable.  I was grasping at everything I could- trying to control SOMETHING in my life.  I didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up," there were expectations to become something fancy, and I didn't feel like I ever fit in.  I became fixated on my body, and an eating disorder began.

I figured if I could control everything I put in my mouth, I would have control over my life.  And the more I exercised, that showed me that I had the "perfect" willpower and determination.  I knew I was miserable, but it was hard to let go of that illusion of control.

Flash forward to today...  I have already admitted that part of the problem in the past few years is that I felt suffocated, and that every decision I wanted to make to move forward only put me further behind.  It was killing my perfectionist personality.  Throw in a few curveballs life tossed my way, and I was a pretty hot mess.  I knew I was hard to deal with, and that is probably why my brain took short "breaks" on a daily basis.

What I have realized in the past few months: I have very little control over anything.  I can't control people; all I can do is give my input and expectations and hope for the best.  I can't control  the world around me- people will always be there to make me happy and also disappoint.  As much as I try to make good choices about my health, I have learned to go with the flow and accept where my medical history will lead me.

I can control how I approach each day, and I have every ability to control the way I treat those around me.  I have complete control over exposing my life to more education, culture and variety.  I can choose to be around content, supportive and inspiring people.  And I will succeed in growing as a person.  I don't have incredible expectations for transformation.  I know I am a "work in progress."

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." ~Mario Andretti

I love that quote. :-)

And I begin drum lessons next Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Purpose...

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live. ~Ayn Rand

I have thought a lot today about purpose.  Why do we do what we do? And do our actions and speech show purpose?

I teach middle school. I love my job, but I can tell you that there is a lot of time where people do NOT speak with purpose... In fact, I think there are some young people that speak just to hear something.  It isn't just their words--their actions show they have lost purpose in their life.  It is funny that I am more aware about such things once starting this project.

I can tell you that my life is filled with purpose.  It wasn't always that way, though.  In fact, until about five months ago, I felt like my life had little purpose.  I knew I had to exist for my kids, and I needed a job in order to support them.  But I didn't feel a fire inside me... I wasn't excited about life, and I didn't make conscious decisions about my future.  I was living just to get by, and I felt like I was barely holding on.  Life isn't meant for existence--I was meant to thrive!  I knew if I stayed in the same old rut, I would end up miserable (and I was close!).

I made a conscious decision to give my life purpose.  And not just assign purpose, but to find it in all of my actions.  Motive is an interesting thing.  People need something out of every interaction in life.  Once you find the motive, it's easy to see what you are missing in life.  Not only was I orienting myself toward purpose; I was also examining the motives of my actions.

I will be brutally honest for a moment.  I know I was miserable.  I hated my life.  I felt suffocated by everything, and my brain's response was to zone out.  That was no way to even exist.  I hated life, and tried to blame people for causing me to be where I was.  In the end, I realized that I ultimately had a choice over whether I would remain miserable.  I had a choice over everything in my life, and I was tired of sitting by and being miserable that life didn't turn out the way I hoped.

Moving back toward family was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life.  I have gotten so much support, that I have been able to approach all my decisions as whether or not things fill my life with meaning.  I am no longer facing the battle of survival--I am able to make conscious decisions about where I want to go in life, what I want to do in my future, and with whom I want to spend my time.  It has been liberating and very settling at the same time.

This project has caused me to magnify my daily actions, and look for the purpose.  I am examining my world through a completely different lens.  Through the sweat, tears, laughter and pain, I am seeing what a strong, confident, and intelligent woman I have become.  The purpose of these past few months has been a transformation, but it has also been to restore what was rightfully mine.  I got my "self" back. :-) 

Monday, January 16, 2012

People Are Strange...

This seems like a random post at first, but it is really integral to the whole point of this project.  Through the past few weeks, I have had a lot of conversations with people I would have otherwise never talked to.  Most of the conversations were for the purpose of this project, and I am grateful for any wisdom or guidance I receive along my journey.

People are interesting.  In any organization or form, they are the weakest link. People have the capacity to be incredibly generous and compassionate.  They also have the ability to be manipulative and cruel.  I have always found motive to be interesting in anything individuals do.  I talk to my teenage students about this a lot, because they are in the heart of the battle-- teenagers are MEAN.

So, in this project, why have some people gone out of their way to be supportive and helpful? Why have others maintained skepticism, or made comments that attempted to undermine my intentions?  I always wonder about how much of it has to do with childhood, a healthy sense of self, or just the nature of personality.  I am convinced there are some people out there that genuinely want to be of service to others.  There are also people that have the very nature of raining on someone's parade... ANYONE they can find...

In the past few months, I made a very conscious effort to surround myself with good, positive people.  With friends that care and want to help me succeed.  With family members that rally for my cause, and do what they can to make sure I am content.  In turn, I have been able to give all of these things back to the people around me.  It's amazing how these relationships have made me much happier.  I feel more successful in all of my daily endeavors, and I am ENJOYING life.

I am learning how to take compliments.  I realize that I have always been bad at accepting compliments.  For one thing, I have always been confused when people compliment something that genetically I have no control over.  I have made the effort to recognize that people want to say good things about me, and to be gracious and accept these comments.  It is funny how now that I have been working on receiving compliments, they are coming in at great capacity.  Maybe I didn't realize how much people had said in the past, or I just wasn't around the right groups of people.

So the observation of people has obviously been an external one, as well as an introspective journey.  For me, I am learning to like myself a lot more, and giving myself permission to acknowledge the great things that people see.  I am also seeing very clearly which people are out to help me succeed in life, and which ones want to see me fail.  I am all about boundaries now, and I refuse to let the negative take over my life again.  I have too many good things going for me now! :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time Out... Under the Weather!!

I didn't disappear... I just ended up feeling yucky. And with that comes a reshuffling of priorities...

I always joked that when a man gets a hangnail, the world shuts down.  When a woman has a c-section, she's asked to get out of bed within hours. And within days, she's back to taking care of a household, a baby, other kids, and probably the man and his recovering hangnail. :-)

I have remained on track for my eating for the most part, even when I wasn't feeling too great.  Went out to lunch today, which was my first real deviation from the training plan.  I spent more time enjoying the conversation, and less time focusing on the food.  Took a good walking tour afterward, which kept us active.

I did put aside my project books for a brief moment to pick up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Supposed to go see the movie tomorrow, and I am not a fan of reading a book after the movie.  I head back to the gym tomorrow, and will resume other aspects of the project on Monday.

For the remainder of the evening, I will be watching the rest of Season 1 of Lie to Me.  Life is all about balance. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It is funny how many of my days can be summed up with a single "theme word."  I like it that way--there is order when one can evaluate her day and find a common thread among her activities.  Today's word is perception.

Today was a flood day at work, so I got the day off.  Yes, it rained and I didn't have to go to work. :-)  That means I reported to the gym at 8am, without an appointment.  Obviously I am free to go whenever I please, but today I decided I needed to get my workout going so I could feel great for the rest of the day.

I had a good talk with someone at the gym about perception.  We talked about how people show up for their workouts, and how they view the work going in.  I tend to have an upbeat attitude, because I know attitude is everything.  I also know that there is not a lot of purpose in being negative, and it only brings other people down.  And I perceive my workouts as being incredibly beneficial to my well-being, so I readily show up.  Regardless, it was an excellent workout, I ran well and did upper body weights, and had a great morning.

I went on to get my hair colored, because I found three more gray hairs forming a Bonnie Raitt-style streak.  I realize that I have dark hair and gray hairs are more visible, but it just wasn't working for me.  Some of you know I didn't have any real hair last year, and had to wear a wig.  I am grateful I have a head of my own hair now (it's cooler than a wig!), but I also didn't like the slap in the face that I am getting older.

In that moment, I took a good look in the mirror.  Not a passing glance, but a real look. I did see the grays, but I also saw a healthy glow in my cheeks, beautiful blue eyes, and a kind smile.  I really liked what I saw, no matter how I might be aging.  Wrinkles are already starting, and all those other aging things.  But, I know that's because I laugh often, furrow my brown when I am tempered or confused, and use expression to enjoy the life around me. So bring it on!
Later I talked to someone about single life.  We talked about perceptions of dating as one is older.  I am not old by any means, but I am not a young girl anymore.  Having kids changes everything, and unfortunately people can get a perception or preconceived notion of the way life with children must me.  I know that perceptions are based on background experience, and there are exceptions to every rule.  My life has been enhanced by having kids.  I don't have to give up on a life or dreams; if anything, I have more purpose, goals, activity and fun BECAUSE of them.  And I thank them every day. :-)  Regardless, it does make single life a challenge for some at times. :-)

I love to think, sometimes a little too much.  I feel sad when I am not able to fully-absorb the world around me.  There is so much of life to experience, and being able to experience such an intense and broad range of emotions is what makes being a human so cool.  I found it fascinating that in my day, such random events could have such a common theme.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I did want to take a break from talking about the other goals, and talk for a moment about the charity goal.  My goal is to raise $1,000 for a charity.  This seems like a lot, but I have a feeling if I put my mind to it I won't have much of a problem.

My parents always instilled in me a strong sense of community service and providing for the needs of others.  We also believe in working hard for everything, but we know that there are many groups less fortunate that could use our time and resources.  I appreciate that they pushed us to become involved in many organizations from a young age.  We were able to learn compassion and empathy from speaking with and listening to people from a variety of different backgrounds.  That experience has proved to be very valuable in every aspect of my current life.  I am trying to keep this in mind as I come up with a plan for how I will raise the money.

I could do all of the basic fundraising tactics, but I have a feeling I might have something bigger up my sleeve... ;-)  After all, this project is meant to be an adventure!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Today I returned to the gym to work with Jesse.  I am totally impressed with all the training that the gym has offered so far, and his tips and motivation have definitely gotten me to where I am right now.  I will tell you I am fairly impressed with where my body has brought me from 2 years ago to today.  It has been an incredibly trying process, but with that process came a lot of patience and determination.  I jogged the total of a mile today, which is a big change from barely walking unassisted!  I know I have a long way to go, but that alone gives me motivation to continue.

This evening, after dinner and assorted chores were out of the way, I settled into a hot bubble bath.  I have found this calms the soreness better than anything else.  I set the music to a random shuffle and sat back.  During one song, I looked over to the mirror to notice movement, and heard noise... Was I singing and dancing in the bathtub? Could it be? Have I moved beyond content?

Yes, I believe it is true... I am now to the point of saying I am truly HAPPY.  It's a good feeling... :-)

Let the journey begin... I am SO ready. ;-)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ah, the significance...

Since it is raining outside, and I am on a "recovery day," today would be the perfect day to tell you about the significance of each of my goals.

Now, keep in mind that I did not sit down and put weeks of thought into these goals.  But also, anyone that knows me for more than a minute will know that everything I say and do means something (even the random things).  So, looking at this list is actually intriguing, because it shows where there are obvious gaps and room for healing in my life.

"Learn to play the drums" This is interesting because I was in band for several years, so I have a good concept of music.  I also play music CONSTANTLY (of all varieties), and there is always music on my mind.  I don't know how I had survived this many years without learning to play.  The idea for this task came about when I found a unit teaching math with drumming.  I attempted to even play some basic drumming beats, and found that my rhythm was severely off.  Anyone that knows me well would also know that I was born without rhythm. ;-)  This shall indeed be a challenge!

Learning Italian has always been an interest of mine.  I have always been fascinated with the country, the culture, and the language.  I think there is definitely a longing I have to travel to another country, or even to disappear for a while.  To be even swept up in another world.  For now, I will attempt to learn my phrases.
Catching a fish is something basic that I guess I just never got around to?  I guess it really is important to me because I have always lived life with one foot in the outdoors, and the other curled up with a book.  I have been whitewater canoeing and camping since I was a small child, and I am confused as to how I got this far in life without catching a fish?  My students are very concerned with this, and rest assured this task will be complete by spring. :-)

Designing a website was chosen to make me less scared of computers... Yes, you can laugh...  I use them often, and I will say I like what they have to offer, but there is nothing like the old school feeling of a book in your hands or a pen to paper.  I know I am too young to be saying all of this, and I need to get with it.  I also have a lot of practical needs for website design, and know I could use it for classroom projects and other things.  It is also just a good skill I can have, and something I can say I did. :-)
The karaoke in public goal was designed to get me up in front of a group of people.  It was not designed for public humiliation, though it may have turned out that way...  I did sing in front of about thirty middle and high school students for about six songs, which really took me from terrified to only halfway scared.  One kid is always a critic at school, but he told me at the end of my rendition of I Will Survive, "Ms. Winn, I can respect you now." Good stuff...

Reading the ten great works of literature is really just to get me reading good stuff again.  I do read all the time.  I mean ALL the time...  I read for fun, I read for work, I read a couple of hours out of every day.  I just wanted to push myself to read more of things that will have an impact on my life and on my teaching.  I met a guy and was talking to him about books.  I asked him what he liked to read, and he said "I'm actually taking a break from reading right now..."  Is that possible? And did he just say that to a TEACHER???
Traveling to another country and traveling first class are meant to get me back out in the world again, and to treat myself right.  I have always been a dreamer and a goal-setter, and it is time that I did what I could to make my dreams happen.  And I might as well go there in style, right? ;-)

Eating vegetarian for a month and enjoying it...  I was actually vegetarian for quite a while... I can't say I enjoyed it terribly much.  I didn't really have a love for vegetables until fairly recently, and I can say now that when I attempt this again, I will be trying tons of different foods and doing it right. :-)
We have already touched on the running goal, but it is good enough to be said again.  When someone spends periods not being able to walk, it is pretty awesome to be able to run!!  I will tell you that this training (even though it has only been four days) has been some of the hardest work I have done in my life.  I think this goal has been a project in itself!  I will go ahead and say that this goal will more than make my last goal of making all of my "physical" numbers better by my birthday.  The doctor has already been singing praises since I have lost weight, and it is only going to get better.  She is very aware of my workout requirements, and is working with me on managing my fibromyalgia during this training.  The interesting thing I have heard is the body actually responds better to intense training.  It's almost like it has overload, so it doesn't respond to the mini-stressors like it would in everyday life.

In reality, I think I am just too terribly sore from pushing my body... I don't notice the fibromyalgia anymore...
So, I know I have missed some of the goals, but I don't want to write a novel.  I will talk about the rest of them on my next day off from training.  Tomorrow I train with Jesse, and he will work me hard.  I will hopefully be able to walk to my car when I am done...  He's great in motivating and teaching me technique, but he also doesn't let me make excuses.  And that is exactly what I need right now.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Shells and Boundaries

I did go back to training today (day 4), and I survived! :-D  Today was spent on the lower body, along with some very brisk cardio at the end.  I will say that the combination between being very active and eating really well has made me feel really great.  I did take a look at what I have been eating over the past four days, and realized I have completely cut out processed junk.  I guess I knew it was going to happen because I was following a plan, but I didn't realize that I had survived the first few days of that.  In the past, when I had cut out sugars, processed junk, and cut back on caffeine, my body screamed for a few days.  Maybe it was too busy screaming in pain to notice. ;-)

I had a good conversation with someone after my training was over.  Conversations are interesting, because they can start in the most innocent and obscure places, and end up hitting the deepest points.  This person told me how he had been left repeatedly, mistreated and wronged through his life, and how he was making the decision not to carry the anger with him any longer.  This person did have a significant weight problem in the past.  It started me thinking about how we create "shells" when we are hurt.  We use food, alcohol, whatever as a crutch, and we try to shut the world out.  I know it's the mind and heart's way of coping, but it really only creates isolation... and a really big person.

I thought back to college, when I was running and I was very active and content with life.  I will go ahead and say now there was an event in my life that caused me to shut everything out, and create a physical and emotional shell.  For me, I wonder if it was more of making me look less appealing to people, or if it was the comfort of food.  Either way, I was not seeing things in a healthy perspective (obviously).  I see now that I was grieving.

I stand in front of the mirror now, and I have seen some incredible changes.  I also know my heart has endured some incredible changes and healing over these past months.  I now feel that I am able to communicate what I need and want, and am better able to give people what they need in return (in all aspects of life).  This sense of balance in life will hopefully carry me beyond this training and project, and into a healthy lifestyle.  I have many more productive years ahead of me, and I am ready to live them without my shell, thank you very much!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Girl That Gave You a Story to Tell...

Today I woke up at about 4:20am, and I was REALLY sore...  I sat in bed and thought about how I used to be in pain all the time.  Every moment of every day.

And then I rolled over and got out of bed. :-)  I knew if I wanted so badly for change to occur, lying in bed wasn't going to make it better.
I went to work and decided to convert part of the day into a self-advocacy lesson.  The classes like hearing the updates on the training anyway, so I decided to bridge that talk into a full lesson.  It turned out to be a great motivation for them, and helped me as well.  I talked with a regular education high school class for a brief period about my project.  They were all ears, and were nodding as I told them the only person responsible for making me succeed was myself.  I am beginning to see that my daily success in this project is going to have a tremendous impact on myself and my family, but I also think it will carry over to the school. A few of the girls asked if they could work out, and were very interested in getting fit.

I redecorated my classroom door, so that all the students that passed by will get some daily motivation in all aspects of their life.  There are assorted quotes that I love, and I will add more as time goes on.  One of my favorites is on there:

I want to be the girl
that changed everything.
The girl that made a difference.
The girl that gave you a story to tell.

This was perfect for me, because I knew I always wanted to lady that grows old and has a collection of stories to tell.  But even more, deep down inside of me there was a part of me that wanted to inspire a story NOW.  And now is my time!

And I do realize that I promised an explanation of my goals and their significance tonight.  That will have to wait for tomorrow's update.  Today was an action-packed day of teaching and training, and my body has had all it can take.  The trainer has asked me today if I have brushed up on my Italian over the night.  I told him I was just going to find me an Italian man. ;-)

P.S. Today I DID train... Upper body weights, elliptical machine, and stair machine... Whew!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Did Return...

I went to bed last night feeling fantastic...

I woke up this morning feeling a little bit sore. ;-)
In reality, the soreness hasn't fully hit yet.  I know it will be sometime tomorrow when I feel like I might die.  So, it was totally great that I went for a cardio workout today, right? :-)

I enjoy having some guidance from a trainer.  I also love that I found this internal motivation.  I don't know how to describe it--I feel a need to reach this athletic goal more than the other goals on the list.  Maybe it is because of the injury and wheelchair time--I want to show that my body can make a miraculous comeback?  Or maybe it is just that I have so much to do in this world, and I need to be fit to get it all done?
I don't know, but do I inspire myself. :-)

I talked to my students today about goals.  I gave them a nice speech about last night's training session, and how I was not allowed to have excuses.  There wasn't a need for them, because they weren't productive.  Any excuse I would spout out wasn't going to make me a better athlete.  Today, I didn't even think of an excuse when I started to get tired.  I knew it wouldn't do me any good--I still had to finish my workout!
So, beyond the obvious health benefits of this project, there have been tremendous emotional supports.  I took a good long look at my list earlier, and started to see how symbolic so many of those items were to me.  They each symbolized a different part of my life that I wanted to get back in order... No... NEEDED to get back in order, so that I could really be at peace and enjoy my existence on this earth.

But that's for another post...

Maybe tomorrow... after Round 2 of Death Camp... :-D

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Results Are In...

Ok, even though I have been active these past few months, I knew I was nowhere near "fit."  Anyone can see great changes in my body, but there is no question that I have not achieved fitness status.  So, I decided to suck it up and meet with a trainer.  I know I am not at peak physical shape-- that is why I have goals.  I also know I want to be better... No, I NEED to be better... So, I know I need some guidance.

I met with Tim at Harvey's Gym in Tullahoma.  He was an incredible motivating and nice man that took me through the basics of nutrition.  I agreed to feed my body the fuel it needs to train.  In exchange, I was told my body would do amazing things.  I could get used to this!

After the nutrition orientation, he took me into a fitness room for what I thought would be a "tour." Wrong... It was a one hour body weight plyometrics workout that made me want to scream. Talk about intense!  He was great, and pushed me when I didn't think I could go on...

Then I met Jesse, for what I thought would be a "talk about running."  Wrong... I was jump roping, hopping across the room, jogging, walking fast, and leaping through the dance room.  I will tell you it is an eye-opening experience when you are hopping in front of a room-length mirror for everyone to see.  I have lost a good amount of weight, but I still have a way to go...  It was also an incredibly liberating experience though.  Once you have been that vulnerable and still get cheers from anyone (especially yourself), and you know that you are doing this for yourself to make YOU faster and better, then it really doesn't matter anymore.  It isn't about trying to conceal and make people think you look better or thinner or anything else.  You ultimately have to own up to what you have in front of you and decide what  you want to do to make yourself better.
I learned an incredible amount of self-love at that moment.  I also wanted to beg Jesse to let me go home (or even sit down- he's a rough one!).  Seriously, I learned that I am a tough cookie, and I love myself incredibly for pushing my body to meet this challenge.  I am impressed that I took the steps to go tonight, that I lasted through 2.5 hours of misery, and that I still walked out with a smile on my face.

I am absolutely thrilled that I am at a point in my life that I can go to sleep and be so proud for all I have contributed today, and for how far I have come. I am a pretty awesome chick! :-D

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trainer: Friend or Foe?

I had been toying with the idea for a while. I always thought it was a little strange to have a personal trainer.  Well, not even just for me, but a trainer in general.  I do like to be social, but I really am an individualist.  I like to do things my way and on my own time.  I like running because I can leave with my shoes on and go wherever I please.  My feet and my mind move me, and I get to choose the path. 

So, on my way home from work, I decided to suck it up and stop in at the gym.  I really just wanted to talk to someone about the facilities, and get an idea of what was available for my journey.  The last good walk I took was terribly cold, and I know I will be more motivated if I were in a place that had more light and was a little warmer.
Gyms are interesting places.  I love people-watching, so this is going to be gold for me! As soon as I walked in, I was already noticing behaviors and picking up on what people were saying and the way they were acting. That really could be a whole other blog though... Back to my point...

I told the man in charge that I was interested because I also wanted to force myself to be social. He looked at me surprised, and told me in the past 30 minutes of talking to me that I might have been one of the most social people he had met.  This might be true, but I like to do things on my own. I don't force myself to interact with people as much as I should.  That might have to do with the fact that I deal with "noise" all day?  I am not sure.  I told him I would make great use of any guidance that could be given to me.
He told me that I could more than reach my goal in the time given.  He gave me tons of nutritional guidance, much of which is common sense and some basic science.  It still helps to hear it from another person!  He then told me who I would be working with as my trainer...

A man that works in the military. Yes! A drill sergeant!  I hear he is a very friendly and social guy, but will make me work. Perfect! :-)  I told them I don't work well with women.  It is nothing personal- just a little too cliquey and competitive (nothing personal, ladies!). 

So, tomorrow evening I shall decide if having a trainer is a good thing or a bad thing.  The good thing already is that I have prepared my breakfasts and lunches for the rest of the week so they are easy to grab.  Now I know I will be on track for training.  If I can handle the workouts, I should be good to go!
I will say, in terms of noticing a difference from working out, that I went to work today and had to take a training course in restraint. During that course and in my errand-running afterward, I did an amazing amount of movement, squatting, lifting, and reaching--all that was very effortless.  In the past it would have taken tremendous effort.  My body has already noticed incredible changes!

Monday, January 2, 2012


I started running years ago. I ran some in high school, and ran a lot in college.  I really loved running, until that fateful morning... Yes, I was dancing in the shower (which I now realize was a bad idea)... And so, I fell out of the shower and shattered my left leg below the knee.

"Excuses are tools of incompetence that build bridges that lead to nowhere." Man, my middle school social studies teacher Mr. Davis would be proud...

So, I look back over the past few years, over the injury that happened a few years ago, my long-term stay in a wheelchair, my leg breaking eight years ago, and my upcoming leg surgery.  And I wonder "why am I still running?"

Why not?

I enjoy it. It's good exercise. I like pushing myself to see how far my body can go. I like the feeling of being outside and communing with nature. I like being dependent on myself to get somewhere. I like to appreciate this cool piece of technology that is my body.
Right now, I am more in a fast walking phase.  I did build up to some decent running until a few weeks ago. After a very strange and unfortunate incident with my son, I tore a bit of my left quad.  So, I've been walking.  My time is still looking good, and I should be able to resume running shortly.

I do remember a doctor had done some testing a while back (while I was in a wheelchair). She had told me the odds of walking unassisted were going to be very slim, due to the amount of neuropathy and muscle damage in my legs.  It has been quite a road of exercise, training, eating healthy, rest, and recovery, but I can't wait to send her the picture of me crossing that finish line! :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Literature, travel and language, oh my!

Well, at the end of the day today I said that I would have my list of ten books that I would read.  I went to the local Hastings, and checked out the Classics section.  I talked to a few different people, and one rather enthusiastic employee.  I explained the project, my educational and career background, and asked for recommendations in different genres.  I fully realize that there are tens of thousands of books that I have yet to read.  For a person that spent years with her nose in a book, I will be the first to admit that there are tons of books I missed.  Perhaps because I was making snow angels and paper snowflakes as well? 

I could have spent all day in this tiny section--I couldn't make up my mind! I know I will not stop reading once this project is over, so I tried not to make this decision too difficult.  I decided to pick 5 of the books today, and return once I have read a book or two.  I will also entertain the idea of further research and suggestions from friends, colleagues, and random people.  Sometimes this is the best way to get a good read. :-)
Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
2. The Time Machine, by HG Wells
3. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
4. The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
5. The Hobbit, by J.R. R. Tolkien

 Let it be known that I talk to only men in this discussion (as can be noticed in the above list). Since I am noticeably female, I thought this would be a refreshing change from the norm. :-)

 I have located my passport in the sea of paperwork... It expired last year.  So, I shall send it off in the next few weeks to get it renewed.  I have no idea where I will go yet, but I know I will need a passport to do it.  I am not terribly keen on Mexico, but I don't really know where else I can go on a single mom teacher's salary.  I do have a teacher's schedule though (June and July are off!).

I have located a site that teaches basic Italian conversational phrases (and more than twenty of them!).  I figure I will start there and see if I have any success.  From what I remember in my years of language classes, practice makes perfect.  So, I will do my best to throw Italian into my daily conversation... and scare the people in the small town where I live... this should be fun! ;-)

The New Year

I woke up at 6am on New Year's Day. I was NOT a party animal last night...

I am excited to continue my work on this project. Today's goals are to select the first book to start reading, and to secure a tutorial for Italian.

When I wrote that I wanted to read 10 great works of literature, I really threw that out there. I didn't write that I would be rereading, or that I have to read new books.  I read a lot, and have read many books.  The truth is that there are many books I have yet to read.  For the sake of broadening my horizons and clarifying my goal, I will now say that I have to read 10 new books. Now, I guess 10 "great works" is not a measurable goal (I will drive you crazy by the end of this!), but I will do my best to consult library websites and my own personal list of books I have always wanted to read.  By the end of the day today, I will report back with my list of what I will be reading over the next 10.5 months.

Italian.  My goal is to learn 20 words. In reality, I would love to learn the language.  I know that is not possible in this time period.  If I were given a longer period, I would love to take an actual class, so that I could learn the language and be surrounded with other people that are interested in the language and culture of Italy. For now, I will look online and check out the library in the next few days. :-)

And now a word about the dreaded D-word... Divorce. For those of you that knew me while I was married, and while I was going through the divorce, I sincerely apologize.  I maintain that I was drugged during that period. I don't want to get nasty with details, but I will say that the past eight years borrowed part of my soul that I only recently regained. I am so happy to have my whole being back. I am happy to be smiling when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. I love having dreams and goals, and I love pushing myself to make things happen.  If any of you knew me during my marriage, you probably saw that I was missing a spark in my eye and a pep in my step.  All I can say is I am glad to be back!!! :-)