Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Day In The Life Of... A Working Woman

The real title of this post should probably be "Why I Stopped Working A Ridiculous Number of Hours Even Though I'm Behind In My Work."

I read an article in December about work/life balance, at least I think that's what it was about. I've been reading quite a few articles on that subject lately trying to find balance in a way that works for me and my life, so I don't have a link to the article or remember who wrote it. I do remember one phrase that stuck with me from that article,

"The work will always be there."

That hit me, hard; all of a sudden things became clear about how I was going to balance my life better.

My current job is frustrating to me on a daily basis for many reasons. The one at the top of my list right now is that I'm constantly behind, and probably will be for the rest of my time there due to decisions being made about how things are being done and staffed. Constantly being behind was majorly getting to me, and it still does some days more than I'd like it to. I hate not being on top of things, and I highly value being able to be proactive in my work so we're not scrambling at the last minute stressing about if we'll be able to get something done on time or not. I knew I couldn't work crazy hours to try and get everything done because it affects every aspect of my health, and I like having some semblance of a personal/social life. The one line completely changed how I approach my work day, and in turn my personal life

"The work will always be there."- There will always be another agreement that needs to be taken care of, a training that needs to be done, a meeting with legal about a consultant, an email with explicit directions on our procedures, a coworker who's spreadsheet doesn't like a perfectly good formula, a file that needs to be put together, etc. It will never stop coming, it will always be there. The work isn't going to magically disappear as I complete my tasks. As soon as I complete one task, 1-2 more will inevitably take the place of the completed task. My To Do list will be never ending and everything is supposed to be considered the highest priority.

I'm learning the importance of important v. urgent when working on prioritizing my tasks. It's not that I don't have time for something, it just may not be a priority at that moment. Everyone believes they are important and their item should be my priority. Well I've got news folks, you're important and you're not important all at the same time. I've found the trick is to make them feel like they're important and have my attention even if they don't at that moment. So I send updates and estimated completion times to let them know I haven't forgotten about them, I'm just not there yet. (I am responsible for multiple aspects in our department, and there may be another item that has more of a priority status that they don't know about). I've stopped giving excuses too, or long winded answers. I made my answer short and simple, I don't stress over them misunderstanding my meaning, and I educate when needed. I put that item on my to do in the next 24-48 hours list and I keep working on the day's priority.

I started leaving at a specific time every day too. I get in right before 7am most days, I work through lunch almost every day, so I leave at 3:30 (except on Fridays when I leave at 3). I wrap up what I'm doing, and I go home.
I do not bring my lap top with me unless there's a threat of snow or I'm working from home the next day.
I do not let work invade my thoughts when I am not working.
I do not give out my cell phone number to anyone who has no reason to have it.
Doing this enables me to actually have a life outside of work. I have time to see family/friends, I get to yoga, I can get another workout or two in each week, I have time to walk and play with my dog, I have time to tackle my To Do list during the week so I enjoy my weekend all the more.

I may not always have this luxury since I want to own a small business someday. For now though this works, and I'll find a way to adapt it as I go and transition into new positions in the future. I haven't had a tension migraine in about 2 weeks since I started really practicing this. My stress level feels lower for the most part, and I'm practicing my focus for the year ("slow down and chill out"). I stopped emotionally investing myself in my work too (not normal for me, but very necessary), it was causing additional stress and the job doesn't emotionally care about me. Work won't be there for me when I get sick or life gets rough, but my people will be if I invest time in them. I give it 100% when I'm working, but when I'm done working it no longer gets my attention. I'm finding I have free time, real free time where I'm not sure what to do with myself. I actually have time for a hobby that isn't orchid growing or reading which I had time to do in my occasional spare time, and I don't know what to do with myself. It's a wonderful feeling, not knowing what to do with my time and deciding where to invest it.
"Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Day In The Life Of... Struggling With Beauty

I've waffled on posting this one. It's been ready for at least a month, but for some reason I could never hit publish. I'm not really sure what's been holding me back, but it's confession time on few things...

Confession #1: I am not as confident as you think I am. I fake at least 90% of my confidence most days. Sometimes I knowingly fake it to get by and to convince myself I can do whatever it is I'm facing, but I've been faking confidence for so long that I think it has just became second nature. Faking confidence was the easiest way to get through high school, and I think it was also a way of keeping people from asking about my weight. I used it as a shield and kept most people at arms length. I only told one or two people in high school about my struggle with bulimia, I didn't want people to know and think I was messed up or different. I just wanted to fit in and be pretty, and faking my confidence level kept anyone from asking too many questions.

Confession # 2: I have stretch marks and I HATE them. I see posts on social media about stretch marks and how proud of them the women posting are, how you should be proud of them, and show your stripes and embrace them. I'm so very happy to see people embracing their stretch marks, but I do not embrace mine. Mine come from puberty not from a life accomplishment (ex. birth of a child or weight loss), and I do not have fond memories of that time in my life, so forgive me if I don't embrace mine since they remind me of hellish years where I hated and wrecked havoc on my body. I finally got smart last year and started trying stretch mark creams to see if I can heal those scars. It's going to take awhile to heal a dozen plus years of scaring but it seems to be helping a little bit.

Confession # 3: I'm 27, but my skin seems to think I'm still a teenager and breaks out whenever it wants to for no reason. Even as an adult if I have a pimple I am very self conscious. I'll avoid going out if I don't have to, and I am definitely not going anywhere but the gym without cover up. (If cover up was sweat proof, I would wear it to the gym).

Confession #4: I have spider veins on my left leg, had them since I was about 16 most likely because I have a hyper-mobility syndrome that makes me more flexible than I should be for my age. It's one of the only indicators of it. I don't hate them, they're just an annoyance that I'm working on healing with an essential oils blend.

Confession #5: 3 years ago I got Invisalign, and I religiously wear my retainer. My teeth were not horribly crooked, enough that I was self conscious of it but not bad enough for the dreaded high school braces. I looked into Invisalign when I started college, but it was too expensive and insurance wouldn't cover it. So when I got dental insurance that covered almost the whole cost, I went for it and I do not regret it one bit.

I struggle so much with feeling pretty/beautiful, and my confidence can so easily be shattered by the smallest thing (i.e. a pimple). Some days it takes a lot of effort to hide it when my confidence is shattered. The older I get the less I've worried about being pretty, but it still hits me how rarely I feel that way. I've been more focused on finding what makes me happy, standing up for myself, working on being more bold, voicing my opinion, listening better, asking for help, and being present in my own life. I tell myself that those things are more important, but it creeps back in at times because there is this focus on fitting the standard for beauty imbedded in our culture.

I bought a new dress a few months ago that ended up being too formal for the purpose I purchased it for. I just felt so pretty in it that I kept it rather than returning it. That was a few months ago, I couldn't tell you the last time I felt pretty before trying on that dress, and I haven't felt that way since.

I'm almost 28 and I feel this way, I can't imagine how much worse my teen years would have been if social media had been as prevalent then as it is now. I worry about teen girls, and it breaks my heart when conversations about their fears and concerns about their beauty come up. I just want to shelter them from the cruel world and tell them everything about them that makes them beautiful and is so much more important that their looks. They're so smart, they're so passionate, they're so full of ideas, and they can do anything they put their minds to. Culture is shifting, thank goodness, but not enough and I worry it's too late for so many women. I worry that the kids and teenagers I interact with are going to grow up and have some of the same thoughts that undermine their confidence just like I do. Those voices don't ever fully go away, looks are the first thing we are judged on, and women are particularly brutal to each other. There will be doubts and worry, but I know they can be overcome and we can help raise each other up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Day In The Life Of... Staring Down 28

2017 is going to be a culmination of changes I started towards the end of 2016. In the last months of 2016 I worked harder on taking care of myself, I got better at saying no when I needed to, and just slowing down in general. Each year I set a few goals (not resolutions), and I set a focus for the year. In 2015 I focused on becoming more vulnerable, 2016 ended up being a year I just focused on surviving the chaos a major audit at work created for most of the year. The chaos of 2016 helped me decide that my focus in 2017 will be "slow down and chill out." I've been going full steam ahead for the last few years, putting way too much pressure on myself, just rolling with whatever came my way, and in that I lost focus on what I want, what my dreams are, and I stopped fighting for myself. From the outside 2017 is going to look like a selfish year as I do some soul searching and decide on a career for the next 5-10 years, figure out if marriage is truly something I want, if kids are something I want, if living in Maryland is a short term or long term plan, and decide on a long term career.

Though my focus is shifting inward, I will still be there for my people. That's not going to change. This does mean I need to be reaching out more as I sort through my thoughts my feelings, and need to talk them out. This is not going to be easy on my independent streak, but it's something I need to learn to do (it all goes back to being vulnerable). I've realized I have to take some control back in my life too. I became ok with coasting a few years ago, just going with the flow of life and seeing what happened. I needed to take that time to do some wandering and stop planning every minute of my life, and I learned a lot in that time. I also became ok with coasting, I wandered too much, and I ended up feeling lost and confused. The planner in me is ready to take back some control now and set some goals for the next few years. I've been doing some more structured journaling as I start to set some goals, and it feels so good to be making some plans again.

I'm deciding what I want, seeing if the things I thought I wanted are things I still want, and focusing on the things I know love doing. I found the 5 year plan I made in 2011 as a college senior, and I had a good laugh. At 22 I didn't see the point in one, and at 27 I still don't see the point in a 5 year plan. Life is fluid in so many ways, and I was so young an na├»ve at 22. I'm still changing, my desires and dreams have changed, my career goals have altered as I experienced "the real world", but I do see the good in setting goals to help me achieve my dreams.

I'll be turning 28 this year, and I'm no where near where I thought I'd be at 28 in many ways.  I hadn't had the experiences to accurately predict where I would be now. At 22 I never would have thought about taking the risk of opening a small business in the future and being my own boss, I never contemplated moving out of Maryland, or thought that I would second guess marriage and kids a couple times.

I'm staring down 28, only a couple years away from the big 3-0. My life isn't what I thought it would be, and I'm ok with that. I'm ok with being single until the right guy comes along, I'm perfectly ok with the thought of never getting pregnant (by choice) and growing a family through adoption, I want to own my own business and run it how I believe a business should be run (people focused rather than focusing on the bottom line), or maybe go back to school and study child psychology and pursue that as a long term career. I've changed, I'm getting to know myself again in some ways, and my dreams may continue to change as I work through these questions. I'm not the biggest fan of change, but I've gotten a lot better at changing and accepting changes that come. (Yet another thing yoga has helped me with). Maybe slowing down and chilling out will help me get better with change too.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Day In The Life Of... Getting Fit

We all start as a beginner.
We start with what we can do and build on it, we push ourselves mentally and physically, and we try new things.

When it comes to working out getting started can be super intimidating, it sure was for me. I choose to start working with a trainer, and I got a great one who walked me through the intimidating machines when the time came, but, most importantly, he met me where I was. 3 years ago I was a beginner who knew nothing about strength training and who couldn't do one good pushup (even the girl kind) when I started. 3 years later I can do about 10 really good push ups on my toes, and I've learned so much about strength training and fueling my body properly. Even with years of dance under my belt starting yoga was even more intimidating than strength training. I felt like I should have known what I was doing, like I should have been able to do more when I started, and I compared myself to others in class. Then I discovered what yoga was really about, why it was called practice, and my mindset changed. I was a beginner, sure I had a leg up on some poses because I was already flexible, but as a beginner I wasn't going to be able to do the harder modifications yet. I had to start as a beginner and put in the work to get better. One of the most beautiful things about yoga is that there is no comparison to anyone else or even yourself, you just have to do the best that you can at that practice, and the more you practice the more progress you will see. I've taken that into the rest of my fitness journey, doing the best I can and trying to do a little better each day.

I have some good news for anyone starting out, you don't need the fancy machines, weights, a fancy yoga studio, or an expensive gym membership to start. All you need is a water bottle, a fitness goal, a plan on how to get there, and to actually start. Starting can be the hardest part of starting a journey to fitness. I'm sharing a few of the places I got started that are still my go to places for when I feel the workout itch but am too lazy to head to the gym. (The best part is, they all cost absolutely nothing)!

I love this YouTube channel, she's so peppy and encouraging and her workouts are all bodyweight based. It's a fun mix of yoga and Pilates (mostly) that will kick your butt! She has some videos with recipe ideas for healthy eating as well (just a heads up, she does mostly vegan recipes, so plan on modifying them to fit your eating plan if you don't).

There is a plethora of workout/fitness/health ideas on Pinterest for you to try if Pinterest is your thing.
I recently discovered Laruen Gleisberg, she seems to have a mix of gym and home workouts with light weights or just bodyweight.

Fightmaster Yoga
I love her flows! I can always find one to suite my mood, how long I want to practice, or if I want to focus on a specific pose or flow. (I'm a huge fan of sun salutation/warrior pose heavy vinyasa flows)

iTunes (or Pandora or Spotify or however you listen to music)
Crank the tunes, and dance it out in the privacy of your home!

Take a walk
See how far you can go, and, if you want, try to beat your record each time. Take the dog, take a friend, take the kid(s), and see if you can extend the length of your walk every day/week/month (whatever feels right for you).

I've noticed there's a perception that getting fit is about getting 6 pack abs, super toned legs, and well defined arms. While that is the end goal for some, it's really about feeling better, having more energy, and seeing what you can do when you put your mind to it. I think the key is picking somewhere to start, and having someone to keep you accountable. If you don't know where to start, start with one small thing. If you can't do a push up, work on it until you get one. Once you have one, try for two, and so on. You do not have to jump right in and do 3 sets of 10 reps, and you should not feel bad about that as a beginner. If you want to change your diet, start with one small change, see how it goes, make it a habit, and make more if you want to. After a year those small changes will look like big ones when you look back on where you started.

NEVER feel bad about starting, you won't regret it in the long run. No matter where you start you will improve, and seeing what your body is capable of  doing is amazing (and addicting). It's a new year, a new beginning, 365 opportunities to try something new and to begin.

If you're looking for someone to keep you accountable with workouts, meal plans, some tips, or a community of people working on their fitness goals to help keep you accountable, check out Fit With Reib. She's super passionate about what she does, knowledgable, and she wants to see you succeed with your goals. I'm looking forward to doing more with this community this year as soon as I can kick this cold that is kicking my butt. (Being able to breathe when you workout is important).

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Day In The Life Of... A Music Lover

I've been all over the place lately emotionally as I've looked back on 2016, and, as usual, the music I listen to has followed suit. 2016 was full of highs and lows, but one thing is for sure; I've changed more this year than I have the last few years. 

"Road Less Traveled", Lauren Alaina
"Why do you keep staring that mirror, mirror it ain't fair at all/ Dress sizes can't define, don't let the world decide what's beautiful/ You won't make yourself a name if you follow the rules/ History gets made when you're acting the fool/ So, don't hold it back and just flaunt it/ Show what you got and just own it/ No they can't tear you apart/ If you trust your rebel heart, ride in to battle/ Don't be afraid take the road less traveled/ Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel/ Don't be afraid/ Take the road less travelled on..."
This song rings true to me and my past, and it goes with what I try to teach. Being true to who you are, not worrying about what others think, and remembering that the image in the mirror isn't the most important thing. It also goes along with one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, "The Road Not Taken." That poem has been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager. Like this song, it's about taking the path that most other people don't take and how that is what makes you who you are and the biggest difference in your life.

"The Girl You Think I Am", Carrie Underwood
"I've been Daddy's little girl since my first cry... You think I'm strong, you think I'm fearless/ Even when I'm, I'm at my weakest/ You always see the best in me when I can't/ I wanna be the girl you think I am/ I got my flaws and I've got regrets/ And I know there's more on the road ahead/ When I wonder if I'll ever measure up/ Oh, I thank God for a father's love... All I want more than anything is to make you proud of me..."
The older I get the more thankful I am for my parents and the friendship that has come as I've gotten older. I'm still a Daddy's Girl, always have been, always will be. I've always had a place to go back to when I've failed and a cheeseburger to help ease the hurt. It's also the place where I usually get a kick in the rear to get back at it at a certain point.

"Hallelujah", Pentatonix

“Well baby, I've been here before/ I've seen this room and I've walked this floor/ I used to live alone before I knew ya/ And I've seen your flag on the marble arch/ And love is not a victory march/ It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah/ Hallelujah, Hallelujah/ Hallelujah, Hallelujah…”
This has always been on of my favorite songs. I can't really tell you why, but the way the lyrics and the music come together it's just so perfect. Pentatonix put their version on their Christmas album that they put out this year, and it's just all the more perfect (and Avi sings which just makes it that much better). It's been on repeat pretty much nonstop, and I've cried over it more than once.

"Sit Still Look Pretty", Evynne Hollens
"This queen don't need a king/ Oh, I don't know what you've been told/ But this gal right here's going to rule the world/ Yeah that is where I'm gonna be because I don't wanna be/ No, I don't wanna sit still, look pretty/ You get off on your 9 to 5/ Dream of picket fences and trophy wives/ But no I'm never gonna be 'cause I don't wanna be/ No I don't wanna sit still, look pretty...Sure, I'm a pretty girl up in a pretty world/ But they say pretty hurts/ And I don't wanna sit still..."
I loved this song the first time I heard it (and this cover is perfect for this song)! I'm take charge, loud, opinionated, and determined to do things myself. I'm not the "sit still, look pretty" type, and I'm ok with that. I'm in charge of my life, in charge of my happiness, in charge of how I feel about my body, and my dreams. Until the right man is in my life, I'm happy to have my own adventures.

"Scars To Your Beautiful", Alessia Cara
"She just wants to be beautiful/ She goes unnoticed, she knows no limits/ She craves attention, she praises an image/ She prays to be sculpted by the sculptor/ Oh, she don't see the light that's shining/ Deeper than the eyes can find it/ Maybe we have made her blind/ So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away/ 'Cause cover girls don't cry after their face is made/ But there's a hope that's waiting for you in the dark/ You should know you're beautiful just the way you are/ And you don't have to change a thing, the world could change its heart/ No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful..."
Yet another song that has brought me to tears... I felt this every day of middle school, high school, and most of college. There are still days where I feel this way, and I know I'm not the only adult who feels this way. The world has to change it's unrealistic standards before it's too late. We've made children blind to their beauty, they become more blind to it in their teenage years, and by the time they realize their blindness there are years of thought patterns that have to be changed. What makes you different is what makes you strong.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Day In The Life Of... Getting Fit

New Year's Resolutions so often involve fitness, and 2017 resolutions are right around the corner! Each year one of mine involves fitness, but it wasn't until I changed my view on fitness that I started to achieve that resolution I made for the year. This is the perfect wording of my mindset when it comes to my fitness journey now. I love working out, I don't find my food choices at all restrictive, and I've found so much healing in the last 3 years since I began this journey. I haven't regretted a single workout, eating plan change, bottle of water, yoga class, or any of the time I have taken for myself.

"Fitness isn't a punishment it's a blessing."
Fitness to many means the gym, working out, sweating, physical activity, intimidating equipment, and they view it as a punishment or a chore. Most people do not enjoy working out as much as I do, but I didn't always love going to a training session or a hot yoga class. (Heck, some days I'm still not so thrilled about it). I've come to love them over the years though as I've figured out what types of workouts I like, and I love how I feel and seeing the progress/change in my body that has come with being consistent with healthy habits. I've spent my whole life trying to get the results I'm getting now. I am so thankful to be working on setting habits that will benefit me in the years to come. The human body is amazing, it's crazy the things I can do now that I would have thought were impossible 3 years ago.

"Nutrition isn't restrictive, it's healing."
If you want results at the gym, you have to start in the kitchen with what you eat. I always joked with the kids I nannied that they were going to turn into a pizza, a bagel, blueberries, or whatever food they were hooked on that week. Though a joke, it's not far from the truth. If you fuel your body with junk, then your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs to help you stay healthy and properly fueled for your day. This is why I began the move to clean eating. (Clean eating is "eating foods that are un- or minimal processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible", and it's easier to do than you think it is). When I started cleaning up my diet I stopped feeling so sluggish, I stopped having stomach issues, and I began to sense what my body needed nutrition wise. Since I've stopped eating junk on a regular basis, I've also stopped craving junk. I've also started learning more about how our food is made, the government control over it (and lack of holding food companies to the rules), and it's been a wake up call. Healthy eating is more expensive (which is totally backwards if you ask me), but it's worth the cost.

"Health isn't a one size fits all thing"
I'm not a professional in the health industry, I'm just avid about working towards fitness goals. (If I can do this you can do this). As avid as I am I don't calories, I don't know anything about macro or micro nutrients, and I don't have a food/meal plan. I eat as healthy and as cleanly as possible while controlling portion sizes, and allowing myself a cheat day/meal each week. What works for me may not work or be right for you or your lifestyle. I've also been focused on working on this for 3 years, so I'm a long way from where I started. Maybe you choose not to clean your diet up as much as I have, (and am still working to do), maybe you think hot yoga is something only the crazies do. That's fine, your health and fitness path will not be identical to mine. I'm a big believer in finding what works for you to meet your goals, but one thing I think everyone should do no matter what their plan is to find someone to keep them accountable to their goals. It makes this easier in many ways, and you don't feel like your making the journey on your own. I have a trainer keeping me accountable and the desire to stay in recovery fueling my journey. I also have people who are working on getting fit like I am, and it's fun to compare workouts, swap recipes, and commiserate over how difficult finding the perfect workout gear can be.

"It is something worth fighting for."  Getting fit is an investment in yourself, and it's a lifestyle change. If you take care of your body and mind now, no matter where you are in life when you start, it will take better care of you in the future. It's a journey, it doesn't happen overnight, and you will face times in your life when it is harder to stick to your plan than others. The hardest thing to do is start, to pick that one small change to make a habit and to keep adding to it when you start working on the next habit. Fitness isn't just physical, it's full body that includes mental and emotional fitness as well. When you chose to start, you have to make the decision to stick with it. I won't lie, it's not always easy, but it is so worth it to get fit physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Day In The Life Of... Fighting An Eating Disorder

I'm in recovery, but that doesn't mean I don't have bad days.
I have nights where I sit in the shower and stare at the drain actively fighting the voices telling me that if I make myself sick I'll feel better, my stress level will decrease, I'll finally feel beautiful, and that all my problems will just melt away. I haven't given in to those lies for the last 2 and a half years. I've wanted to so badly some nights lately as my stress level climbed higher and higher, and as I watch my hopes for the next year came crashing down. I know the reprieve from whatever I'm feeling will only be temporary if I make myself sick, and that I'll actually feel worse after purging because I'll have the added pain and guilt that comes with it. Even just thinking about purging brings feelings guilt some days. So I sit, I stare, and I fight with everything I've got. I think of all the reasons I need to and want to stay in recovery, I repeat Psalm 46:5 to myself over and over again, I think of how far I've come, I think of all the things I want to do, and I find a way to get to my feet to stay in recovery one more day.

There are days where it takes everything I have not to give in, and there are days where I barely even think about it. It's hard to explain sometimes how I can have a great day on the ED front one day, and the next I'm fighting not to purge after every meal. This battle is an active one, the voices in my head are never silent, they're just a quiet murmur some days. They're always there though in the back of my mind ready to take hold the minute my guard goes down and I weaken.

I've found it's easiest to take this battle one day at a time, and to not focus on the bad days because there will be bad days. Most of the time I have good days where I don't think about it, I don't notice the voices, but a bad day could be just around the corner so I can't let my guard down. Coming back from a bad day isn't always easy either. It can take days to get back to a good place when a bad day comes. My focus has to shift, and I have to work on getting back to a good mental place. I have to make it to yoga no matter what, I have to make sure I'm eating clean and snacking smart, I have to turn on music and feel the lyrics, I have to journal, and I have to forgive and love myself.

My demons are patient, but I am stronger than their patience. I am more than my ED, I am more than the image reflected in the mirror, I am more than my scars; I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I will find a way to make this struggle worth it, even if it's just making someone feel less alone in their battle.