Endurance

When I was a little girl, I thought life was a dance.

Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella each seemed to flit and float through adversity, always looking exquisitely beautiful. Once she caught the eye of her prince, he would sweep her into his arms and dance her toward happily ever after.

I twirled around in socks on our cold kitchen floor, embracing my life as a dance.

When I was a teenager, I thought life was a game.

If I played harder, smarter, better, I would win. If I followed the rules, created strategic allegiances, and gave it all I’ve got, then I would find my place. I would be noticed, valued, loved.

But everyone was not playing by the same rules, and the rules kept changing on me. Allegiances crumbled. Winning was lonely.

When I was in my twenties, I thought life was a social media contest:

Pinterest-inspired weddings in front of old barns with mason jars and tea lights and white flowers,

Facebook-filled collages of houses in suburbia and cute children saying adorable things,

Instagram-captured trips to exotic places, adventurous endeavors, and ancient buildings next to blue skies and cappuccinos.

But then some of the marriages fell apart. Long commutes in traffic gave less time to enjoy the houses in suburbia, and children are sometimes imperfect (shocker, but this is what I’ve been told). And I found that sometimes those exotic trips were remarkably lonely.

Now I’m in my thirties. I have a long way left to go.

Much of life stopped making sense a while ago. So many people have been taken from this earth too early. So much loss. So much more to lose. The suffering spreads farther, lasts longer, and will not cease.

Life has become an endurance race. Not running to win or lose. Not running from anything or toward anything. Rather, running to take it all in, to breathe deep, to ponder the reality that I may not be passing this way again; it’s best to try and take it in right now.

Breathing is hard sometimes – those mountains can be steep and long.

Breathing is easy sometimes – my lungs delighting in the fresh air and the strength of my legs pulling me forward.

I will keep breathing. I will keep pushing. I will even keep dancing.

More than anything, I will keep enduring.

img_3129

Forest Park, Portland, OR

Self-Consideration: 3 Ways to Make Monday Brighter

Monday is here. Pictures of cranky cats and large cups of coffee are befitting.

Then again, this is a new week. It’s a fresh start. Amazing things can happen.

But it’s still Monday. I need baby steps to brighten my morning and remember the sunshine is behind those clouds somewhere. In case you do too, I’ll give you my three-step plan:

1.  Smile and Make Eye Contact to everyone you greet : your spouse, barista,  colleagues, and clients.

Smiles are infectious, improving your own happiness and making you more approachable to others. Making eye contact will also help you make meaningful, intentional connections.

To avoid the gawky stare, just maintain eye contact long enough to be able to tell the color of the other person’s eyes.

2.  Write a Thank You Card to acknowledge a simple gesture made by your family member, employee, or neighbor.

Showing gratitude not only affirms the efforts of another, but it shifts your focus onto the positive rather than the critical. Handwritten cards are best, but a quick email will do the trick.

Bonus Points: When composing your thank you card, try to avoid using the words “thank you” by focusing on what the other person did and how it made you feel.

3.  Say No to the energy, life-draining influences around you.

Say no to the bombastic coworker who puts down others to feel superior. Say no to the person in your life who needs to respect your healthy boundaries. Say no to eating the processed sugary food that will only cause you to feel sluggish and tired as the day goes on.

Find a coworker who needs a little encouragement. Spend quality time to the motivating people in your life. And, take the time to eat something fresh that grew out of ground.

Here’s my true confession: I’m really bad about just eating protein bars instead of real food. Not today. Today I’m going to find some berries.

Happy Monday!Strawberries

 

Self-Consideration: Bring on the Snooze

New Year’s Resolutions are starting to lose their luster. Four weeks into 2017, the gym is feeling a bit crowded, pizza is sounding more and more delicious, and simply TRYING too hard is leading us to exhaustion.

We cannot get up any earlier. We cannot squeeze more into our days because the more we squeeze in, the less we are appreciating life around us.

For the first time ever, I decided to face the New Year without the anxiety of trying to keep resolutions and the guilt of feeling like a failure. This almost feels too simple. Yet I feel stronger, healthier, and happier than I have been in a long time.

And so we have it: this is my new Life Resolution.

1. Get enough SLEEP

More and more studies are coming out telling us about the importance of sleep. The Sleep Foundation says that adults between the ages of 18–64 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night, but many of us are trying to get by with 5 or 6 hours.

I used to feel guilty when I pressed snooze in the morning, missing that early morning workout. But now, if my body is not willing to wake up when the alarm goes off, I give my body the rest it needs and work on prioritizing that workout later.

2. Eat healthy WHOLE FOODS

Whether you are eating Paleo, Mediterranean or some other new dietary trend, eating fresh whole foods will have a profound impact on the way your body functions, recovers from workouts, and even rests at night. As delicious as that may be, your body does not have a lot of use for Cheetos, yet it will delight in those fresh avocados and zucchini noodles. Also, preparing healthy food is much easier than you may think. Check out these easy recipes to get you started.

3. Get some EXERCISE

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a gym rat to realize a positive impact from exercise. In fact, The American Heart Association says that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise — like walking — five times a week will have a profound positive impact for your heart. This means you could go on a little walk for your morning and afternoon coffee breaks and be good to go for the week. I am an endorphin-addicted junkie, so I love lunch runs during the week and long trail runs on the weekend, but the one thing I don’t do any longer: sacrifice getting a sufficient amount of sleep in order to get my run in early in the morning.

4. PRIORITIZE sleep, food, and exercise in that order

If you sacrifice sleep to get up earlier to exercise, you will spend the day tired, craving sugary foods to give your body the energy to keep going. Unbalanced. No fun.
If you are not being thoughtful about what you are eating, it is so easy to work out and then reach for salty foods to replenish your dehydrated body. Be prepared with healthy snacks to help your body recover. And then get some sleep.

Basically, your body WANTS you to be happy and healthy. But, first you have to give it rest. Then you have to give it good fuel. And then your body will crave running, dancing, playing and being strong.