Tuesday, May 14, 2019

How I Experience Anxiety


It starts in my chest. It's a slight squeeze or pressure feeling, but also kind of tingling or buzzing. Then my brain goes into hyper aware mode and is hyper analyzing, hyper listening. Sometimes, I feel it in my fingers next. Kind of that tingling sensation. 

I generally feel both ready to jump out of my skin and ready for my space to implode.

My brain starts to speed up. It focuses on all the things that I need to do. Every single work task and unanswered email. Every report I need to run. Every problem I need to solve. I start to feel paranoid about friendships, relationships, and what people really think of me. I question every wording choice. When I listen to my brain, my chest gets tighter and I feel like I can't really breathe.

Which also means I need to breathe. Deeply. Purposefully.

I also need to move my arms because I tend to clamp my upper arms to my sides when this hits. Because I want to contract everything inward. I also can't keep my foot from shaking or my legging from twitching. I want to contain everything but also have to send some energy out somehow.

Breathe.
In, 2, 3, 4.
Out, 2, 3, 4.

I close my eyes and imagine my breath flowing into my lungs and spilling warm relaxation throughout my body.

I open my eyes and go back to answering an email.

Soon, it hits again. Because something doesn't work. Or an email comes from someone who is upset. Or I make the mistake of looking at social media and get overwhelmed by all the bad things happening in the world, in government, in people's lives.

Overwhelmed. It seems to all boil down to what I can't do on my own. Or what I perceive I can't do all at once, anyway.

So I make a list of the things at work that I need to get done. I prioritize to make sure I'm focusing on the right things.

I stay off social media. Partially so I don't continue to pile on with the overwhelmed feelings but also so I don't say things I don't really mean.

I take 10 minutes to walk outside. Fresh air and sunshine often help.

I breathe and count. I use some mantras or do some yoga poses to focus on just the present moment.

I will either be able to help this anxiety pass or I will need to use medication to prevent it from continuing or getting worse.

Here is what I know does not help - ignoring it, drinking alcohol, distraction. I can't just numb it or mute it. I have to work through it or medicate it. 95% of the time, I am able to work through it.

Breathe
in... 2... 3... 4...
out... 2... 3... 4....

Until next time,
Liz

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dear School Board


I live in Fishers, IN. My kids attend Hamilton Southeastern Schools. We've made national news in the past few weeks as a fight that has been ongoing for years boiled over.

Our school district didn't have a non-discrimination policy. There was a loose statement implemented 19 years ago but not actual policy. In the past year, a school board member has been bringing up the need for this policy as part of the work being done in our district towards equity and inclusion. In November, election season, things heated up when a school board member made derogatory comments on social media about transgender people and then also had inappropriate and harmful conversation with parents of trans kids. Finally, in April, a reading of a proposed policy occurred. The outcome wasn't good.

We became famous for having a school board member say things like - being trans is a mental illness and being gay is a trend and it's almost unpopular to be straight now.

If you want all the details, you can Google it.



Last night, the final school board meeting took place for the school year. When things had been left back in April, the wording was as soft and unhelpful as Indiana's new hate crimes bill. On Monday, 2 days prior to the meeting, new verbiage was posted that would be reviewed at the meeting. It listed protected classes but still had some language issues (like saying "gender nonconforming" instead of "gender identity"). Finally, hours before the meeting, language was posted that was most acceptable and least problematic for those fighting for an inclusive, specific policy.

The school board meeting started at 7:00 and this was the 2nd agenda item. It was close to 2 hours of statements and conversation. I didn't keep track of how many people spoke - but students, parents, community leaders, president of the teachers' union, faith leaders, doctors and social workers stood and shared why they supported a strong non-discrimination policy. A few spoke up to dissent. And there was an attempt at adding a conscience clause (meaning you can use personal values or religion as a reason to discriminate). In the end, the non-discrimination policy passed in a 5-2 vote.

That's the top view of what happened. But let's talk about the really important moments. The people moments. The hearts that opened. The eyes that shed tears. The nervous hands that shook at the podium.

Students who stood and spoke of school being their safe place because home isn't once they came out. A business leader who spoke on the importance of teaching kids how to thrive in a diverse workplace. A faith leader who said we are all created in God's image and should be loved and protected as we are. A 5th grader who spoke of her 2 dads. A dad who spoke of his trans nephew. A poli sci teacher who spoke of government and law and his own trans child. A straight ally student. A previous student of color who called out the racism she experienced, starting as young as 3rd grade.

That was just last night.

In the last 2 weeks, groups have formed on Facebook and met in coffee shops and living rooms. One on one conversations have started. Questions are being asked. People are standing up and saying - we see this problem and it isn't ok.

Conversation this morning is celebratory but also aware that we aren't done. That we have to stick together and continue to be involved.

I also have thought - if I had signed up to speak at the meeting, what would I have said?

I am a straight, cisgender, white female. I live the typical suburban life. I've been married to my straight, cisgender, white male husband for almost 16 years. We have 2 kids - both seem to be straight, cisgender and are clearly white. We own a home here in Fishers. We both work full time. We attend a Christian church every Sunday and are heavily involved there. We love superhero movies and Disney. We are incredibly typical and pretty basic.

My family doesn't need a non-discrimination policy. I could stay home and not even know that this issue was happening and it would have no impact on me or my kids. That's privilege. I could easily follow the line of some board members by saying we should just all be kind and respectful to everyone and leave it at that.

But the way I see it, a non-discrimination policy is a way of acknowledging that some groups of people are automatically put below the minimum standard of treatment. It's a way of saying - we see you and want to make things equitable. We want to create a school system that sees the inequities and wants to help lift you to the same playing field as everyone else.

This doesn't take away from those of us who fit the majority. This doesn't reduce protection of the majority. See, my white skin protects me. My being a female who looks female and feels female protects me. My attraction to the opposite sex protects me. While I am female and can face discrimination based solely on my sex, for the most part, I am part of the majority and don't need to be protected.

Finally, I'd just like to say that when we learn to embrace diversity, when we learn to listen and believe those who have different experiences from our own, when we want to embrace the ideals of diversity, safety, justice, excellence - it ends up benefiting everyone. I wasn't taught to be the person I am today in the church of my childhood or by my parents. I found my way here through my faith and my relationships and my life experience, I have come to see and be fully part of a world full of beautiful and diverse people.

I'd like to close with the words of Maya Angelou - Do the  best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

If we have listened and believed to all that has been shared, it's time to do better.



Until next time,
Liz

Monday, May 6, 2019

Through a Filter of Love


There are days when all I can see is the darkness and brokenness in the world. And the world wants me to see it that way, I think. There is such an overwhelming amount of bad and terrible stuff out there. Just in the last few days, I've been overwhelmed by bombings of Gaza, the US preparing some sort of military thing near Iran, multiple shootings near home and elsewhere, news coverage of men getting no punishment for raping/abusing/harming girls, overt racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia... And the more personal darkness and shadows that are also always present - grief, anger, shame, doubt, pain, stress, anxiety.


But there is this amazing gift that my faith gives me.

Love.

Sometimes, it's hard to recognize it. Hard to feel it. But it's always somewhere if I'm willing to make the effort to look for it.

I find love in meeting a stranger who has a story that inspires. I find love in supporting the efforts of those who seek to change the world. I find love in authentically connecting with a loved one or with a stranger. I find love in witnessing an adult trying to make someone's baby smile from across a restaurant. I find love when someone who is hurting deeply finds the strength to ask to be loved through a small gesture or a big one. I find love in hugs and high fives and smiles.

The struggle is remembering to look for it, to recognize it when I see it. To embrace it and cherish it so that it stays with me.

I want to be able to see all things in the world through a love filter. Like, Instagram has filters I can apply to my pics, right? I want to do the same with how I approach the world. Because I want to see where love is flowing out of grief and pain. I want to see where love is shining in the midst of darkness. I want to see love lifting those who fight for justice.

There are days when the world almost breaks me. When the heaviness feels impossible. And I try to find the filter so I can remember and see and feel the love.

Until next time,
Liz


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Our Voices Must Continue On


Today is a sad day. In fact, I was surprised by how sad.

I'm just a typical woman in Indiana. I am not famous or well known. I've never published a book. I don't have huge followings on social media.

But somehow, years ago, I found Rachel Held Evans. I don't recall exactly how I came to follow her on Twitter. I believe it was through Michael Gungor and The Liturgists. But she was a voice that spoke of the God I loved in a way that I hadn't heard before. She spoke the words of my heart - saying things that were often contradicting traditional Christian teaching and preaching.

She died today.

And the online world has imploded in grief. And I imagine that the real life world of her husband, children, family, friends, and communities are awash in grief. Her death was very unexpected and leaves a profound hole in their world.

And in the online world, too.

I have been reading tweets and articles and posts all day since the news broke. This woman touched so many lives. This woman changed so many lives. This woman loved fiercely, advocated with courage, and spoke of a God of love and a Jesus of justice. She spoke words of true love and grace and inclusion. She bridged divides. She admitted when she made mistakes and then sought to do better. 

People are afraid of what might change without her voice.

I think it's up to us.

I haven't been using this writing space much lately. I have a long list of reasons. Writer's block. Lack of time. Not feeling the same holy connection I used to feel to writing.

I need to use my voice. My message could matter to someone else. I could change a life. If Rachel Held Evans can't be here to continue using her voice, I guess I just feel like I don't really have a good excuse.

I fight for equity and equality and inclusion. I believe in the beauty and wonder of all humans. I also see the darkness of humanity that creates racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, xenophobia and more.

I believe in love and grace and mercy and forgiveness. I believe in nature and science and mystery. I believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe that God is LOVE. Indescribable, undefinable, beyond recognition LOVE. I believe Jesus showed up to disrupt the systems that were getting in the way of love. And I believe that the Spirit moves through us and nature and mystery.

I believe in the value and worth of all people. I believe that being gay isn't a sin. I believe that being transgender isn't a mental illness. I believe that black lives matter. I believe in caring for the poor. I believe in opening arms to immigrants. I believe that religions are supposed to be as diverse as the people who believe in them. I believe in disrupting the systems that perpetuate racism and poverty and injustice. I believe in doing what I can to take better care of the earth. I believe in the equality of women, the abilities of the differently abled, the need to dismantle white privilege.

And all of those beliefs are based on my faith in God. It all goes hand in hand.

Rachel's voice will live on in her written words. Rachel's impact on the world will continue to be felt through the lives she changed.

And the rest of us must continue the work. We must amplify our voices. Even if we only have a whisper in the universe - it's a whisper that is needed and necessary. It will take all of us. And if we all come together and we all share our whispers, we will become a shout that cannot be ignored.

Until next time,
Liz

Thursday, March 28, 2019

April Goals - #Happiness and #Health


April is almost here! It's just days away. I slacked off on setting goals back in March.

The March goal for The Happiness Project focused on happiness at work - "Aim Higher." Here's the thing - I'm the happiest at work that I've been in a couple of years. I've had times in my career that I've been truly miserable and times that I've been really thrilled. And I'm in a place now where I'm really happy. I'm building relationships, I'm getting things done. I'm in a newer set of responsibilities and I'm learning more and feeling like I understand more. So I didn't feel like I needed to set goals there.

I've been very consistent on my healthy living goals. I exercise or am active every day. I have been eating mostly right. I have a vacation with my daughter coming up and that is certainly keeping me motivated to stay on top of my goals!

I didn't read anything in March. I have no excuses. I just didn't pick up a book.

So now March is ending and April is days away and I'm ready to have goals again!

APRIL GOALS

Physical Health
Continue daily exercise - finish 21 Day Fix and then either repeat or start a new program.
Continue healthy food choices.
Continue healing my plantar fasciitis. It's getting better. Massage, careful activity, ice/meds when needed.

Mental Health
Reading! First, I plan to read A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - the poetry of Mr. Rogers. Then, I'm moving to On the Come Up by Angie Thomas.

I want to do something creative - still. And it plays in to my Happiness Project goals!

The Happiness Project - Parenthood "Lighten Up"
I'm going to set my own goals in this area instead of following what Gretchen Rubin did specifically.

Family creative project. I want all of us to go to one of those canvas painting places. There are several close by that do family events. And then I want to hang our artwork in our home.

Bedtime. My biggest place of frustration in parenting is often bedtime. My kids are 11 and 14 years old and they still want mom or dad to be part of bedtime. I want to treasure it, to be patient through it, and not to focus on my own tiredness. So for April, I'm going to make an effort to make bedtime more focused on my kids and giving them what they want/need. I want that time to feel more loving and connected.

Until next time,
Liz

Friday, February 22, 2019

Yup. I'm One of Those Disney People


Our first family trip to Disney World was June of 2013.

I had never planned on being a Disney family. In my mind, it was too expensive and just wasn't ever going to happen. Then I went to a conference that was held at the Contemporary Resort on Disney property.

My mom had taken me to Disney World for a day when I was around 5 years old. I had a few memories - mostly because it's the story of the time I got separated from my mom. And I remember riding Haunted Mansion.


33 years later, I found myself back at Disney World. I attended the conference and the final day, we had a night at Magic Kingdom. So many memories came flooding back! I'd already loved my time at the Contemporary. I knew that I had to bring my family to Disney World.

2013 First Family Trip

2014 Secret Husband and Wife Trip 

2016 Second Family Trip

2018 Third Family Trip

Our plan had been for our next family trip to happen in 2020. But sometimes plans change.

Teagan and I have to go to Florida for a tae kwon do tournament over Memorial Day weekend. And Miami is only 3-4 hours drive from Orlando.

You can see where this is going, right?

Yep. A last minute mother-daughter trip to Disney World!

And as I prepare for the trip and start making my spreadsheets and plans and studying restaurants and FastPass strategies... I realized that I have become one of those Disney people. I speak the Disney World vacation language. I am a full on Disneyphile.

But here is the very best part of this trip coming up...

It's been amazing, already, for my relationship with Teagan. We have something we are both excited about and looking forward to doing together. It feels like it will be a celebration of surviving junior high. She is very involved in planning and has been researching rides and snacks and transportation. My hope is that we create fantastic memories and strengthen our relationship as she heads into high school.


Until next time,
Liz

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Unstuck

This past weekend, I attended my church's annual women's retreat. It's one night and there is always a theme. This year, there was a 3 step process.

First, we talked about Hope.

Second, we asked the question - Where am I stuck?

Finally - What is my dream?

I left the retreat feeling as though it wasn't meant for me. I'm already a hopeful person so I don't need to refocus on Hope. I don't feel like I'm really stuck in my life anywhere. And in a lot of ways, I'm living my dream already. And I know that the retreat really did touch many of the women there and I felt like I made some great connections with others.

I struggled with the times of silence and contemplation because I wasn't connecting to the questions. I took time to journal. And what it boiled down to was what I now feel is a pretty important revelation.

The question was - Where am I stuck?
I reduced that to - Am I stuck?
Or am I exactly where I am supposed to be right now?

After getting home, I found myself thinking over the past year and realized that I've only recently become unstuck in some important areas - my health and my work.

In June of 2018, after a few attempts at starting to get healthy and lose weight, I suddenly kicked it into high gear. I wish I could say what made it work. I wish what worked for me would work for anyone else. Bottom line is that I knew we had a family vacation planned for October and I wanted to look good in family photos and be strong enough to have long days of fun at Disney! Thinking of a friend that I admired for her healthy lifestyle, I asked her to help me. She told me about Beachbody and happened to be at the coach summit at that exact time. She got me signed up - I started working out, changed my diet, and fast forward to Oct and a 35 lb weight loss.

I got myself unstuck. And as I face new challenges, hurdles, temptations, I'll keep working to avoiding getting stuck or get unstuck as needed.

My job has been challenging for several years now - some of it due to circumstances, some of it just the nature of the particular job. Just before my vacation, decisions were made to change up responsibilities in our department. This has completely changed my work situation so that my stress levels have seriously reduced. I enjoy my work again. I'm unstuck.

The lesson I learned is that sometimes, it's ok to just realize the good things. To stop and enjoy the good times. To breath in peace and joy and normalcy - to not be expecting bad news at every turn. To not feel like I'm failing with each bite of food.

Until next time,
Liz

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

February Goals


It's time to set my goals for February. I thought about skipping it but realized that I won't accomplish anything if I don't write down what I want to achieve. I need to write it down and tape it up and make myself accountable.

Physical Health

Workout 4-5 days per week with a focus on weight lifting (Beachbody's LIIFT 4). I will pay attention to my body and not push beyond my capabilities.

I will stick to better nutrition. Vegetables, proteins, fruit, whole grains. Avoiding junk and processed foods.

Mental Health

Reading is good for me and I need to commit to it. I need to finish Frankenstein. I want to read On The Come Up (new book by Angie Thomas) and Thunderhead (book 2 in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman). So my goal is to finish Frankenstein and then I can read the other 2 as my reward.

I also want to do something creative. Last night, before the kids went to bed, we lay on the floor and drew. Just doodles and random things - but it was really fun. I want to be sure I do something creative this month.

The Happiness Project

In the book, author Gretchen Rubin uses February to focus on her marriage. I won't say that my marriage is perfect and all important relationships need ongoing work. But I don't have specific goals that I think need focus this month in my marriage.

However, my relationship with my kids does need some focus. Teagan is a teenager and some days we are very close and some days she pushes very hard. Zach is moving into more activities that I don't understand (video games) and I find that my attention more easily goes towards Teagan.

So my focus in February is going to be ways to keep relationships strong with my kids and with my husband.

Dates with Jeff
Mother son times with Zach
Focus on loving communication - especially with Teagan when she is "teening"


Until next time,
Liz

Monday, February 4, 2019

Figuring Out Not Failing


A couple of weeks ago, I hit my lowest weight in at least 15 years.

It freaked me out a little.

I started to struggle with my nutrition a little. But kept on with exercising.

I didn't lose weight but also didn't gain anything. And could feel muscles in my legs and stomach getting stronger.

And then I hurt myself. Exercising.

Plantar fasciitis. Which is more painful than I'd imagined and very annoying. I've had days where I feel like I literally can't walk. Then the limping and adjusting made my IT band flare up.

I attacked the issue. Researched it. Took ibuprofen and iced my foot. Did stretches and massage. Bought a special sock to sleep in because the pain can be worse in the morning due to the foot not flexing all night. I now know to stay completely off the treadmill. I even stopped doing my new exercise program because step aerobics is bad for plantar fasciitis. I was only working out once a day and less than an hour total.

And after a few days, I felt like totally giving up because I was doing "all the right things" and still had pain in my foot.

It hit me this morning. If I don't address this, I will get right back on the road to giving up and failure. Again.

It was an issue with my IT band that was the start of my downfall back when I was a runner.

It's mind bendingly frustrating to be doing healthy things and exercising and getting stronger... and that leads to being bad for me.

My response to my frustration was to eat. It was surprisingly easy to fall back into bad habits.

So here I am, just one week after this injury, and I've gained a few pounds. I'm frustrated that I still have pain in my foot and have to restrict my activity. I'm angry with myself for the bad food choices I've made in the last week.

But.

This time, I'm not going fully off the rails.

It's a dumb thing, maybe, but I know I still have control because the idea of a Big Mac is still gross to me. That seems to be my major measuring stick. When my mind is in the right healthy place, my desire for fast food is nil.

Today, I am focusing on the things I'm still doing right.

Finding ways to exercise without focusing on cardio. I think I'm going to get back to Beachbody's LIIFT 4 - and just modify the cardio parts until my foot heals.

Even the bad eating I did wasn't the most terrible choosing I could have done. I over ate and I did eat junk - but I still was making 85% good choices.

I don't feel a desire to quit. I want to lose more weight. I want to strengthen my muscles. The desire to be healthier is still there.

Here's to getting back on track. To restructuring the plan. To making it work.

Until next time,
Liz

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

January - Check!


January is coming to an end this week and it's time to review how I did on my January goals - and set February goals.



PHYSICAL HEALTH

Going pretty well. I stuck to my January goals with at least a 95% success rate. I missed 10k steps a couple of times but those days still had 2 workouts in them. I've stuck to the no soda thing except for 1 time when Diet Pepsi was the only option when I just wasn't in the mood for water.

I'm discovering and exploring the emotional response of eating - I am an angry eater. I get frustrated or mad with work or my family and that is when I want to shove all the bad things in my face.

READING

Still working on Frankenstein. I'm not loving it but I want to see it through. And my not loving it is actually about the story itself. When the creature is first created, there is a moment when Frankenstein has run away from his apartment - which contains the creature that has come to life and he is freaked out by. Then he comes back to the apartment with a friend he hasn't seen in a couple of years. His reaction to entering the apartment and realizing the creature is gone? He's relieved because he can invite his friend in. Not worried because he doesn't know where the monster is. Not concerned or scared.

But I will stick it out.

HAPPINESS PROJECT

I've done the January Vitality focus pretty well! I intend to stick with these habits and also move forward - which means it's time to read February in the book.

Go to bed earlier - check
Exercise - check
Declutter - check (I have a stuff in my car to go to Goodwill)
Complete tasks - check but still work to do
Act energetic - check

February's focus is Marriage. The author's list doesn't feel exactly right for my own marriage so I'm spending some time thinking about what can be better - and also asking Jeff for his input.

For anyone following along, I plan to share Feb goals on Feb 1. Setting my final list over the next day or so and then preparing my journal and such for the new goals.

Until next time,
Liz

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Accountability and 9 Days


I have to admit that making myself check in weekly on my goals is a good thing. It doesn't necessarily cross my mind in the midst of a week but it does give me a boost to start the new week well.

Our routine was off this past week due to my husband traveling and due to a winter storm keeping us mostly at home for 3 days. 

As I sit down to write this, I feel like I've been failing.

I could have used that time to really make progress on my January goals. But I didn't.

I look back now and regret that I didn't use any of that time to read. Or complete tasks.

I've slipped on my 10k steps per day goal - that one becomes more challenging when you are spending all your time at home.

But I have been working out two times per day.

I'm fully back on water as my all the time drink. Which feels good.

For this final week, I must focus on reading. I need to make time for it.


I've been going to bed earlier.
I've been exercising.
I have a bag of stuff to go to Goodwill.
I haven't used being tired or feeling lazy as an excuse to say no to things.

Complete tasks... I'm definitely behind on this one but I have 9 days left in January to make progress. I did make an eye appointment. And when it hit a snag, I worked through it and made it happen.

Side vent - my employer uses VSP for our vision insurance. For the last 2 years, I've gone to an optical department in a big store. They've always looked up my insurance, said they found me and had it taken care of. I never questioned anything. VSP made changes in July so that if a provider is out of network, the provider can't find you in VSP. Thanks to that change, that previously used optical department couldn't find my insurance. So I cancelled with them and went elsewhere. I had a very good experience and ordered new glasses and plan to order contacts once we know these are the right ones.

Side fun - I'm now moving into progressive lenses / multi-focal contacts. Yay for getting old! Because of that, I decided to order glasses that are more FUN. I did informal polling on Facebook while at my appointment - mostly to make sure people thought I could pull off the ones I knew I wanted. I'm going RED!


Funny, I had thought I was failing at my goals for January. But it seems that maybe I'm not doing so badly after all. There are areas where I need to focus and make progress - but I have time to do that. Just need to adjust and make it happen. I've got 9 days left to read and to make progress on my tasks.

Until next time,
Liz

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Choices Become Change

It's a pretty normal thing, I think, to want to improve ourselves.

Lose weight.
Declutter.
Be more present to our kids.
Be a better spouse.
Move forward in a career.
Deepen our faith.

And we have lots of ways to achieve those goals. Diet, exercise, go back to school, date nights, go to church, and so on.

I've always focused on making that first choice to get started. But I'm thinking that it's all the other choices that come after that really matter. I've made the first choice many times and then I stop making better choices and I end up failing.

I was exercising yesterday - one of those healthy choices I've been making to achieve my goals to lose weight so that I am stronger and healthier - and it occurred to me that sometimes, that first choice isn't the hardest.

It can feel overwhelming to start. But so many times before, I've wanted to lose weight and be more active and I get my plan together and I start and I do great for about a week. Then I start making different choices and I'm no longer making choices that support my desired goal.

So maybe the harder choice is 6 months after starting when I don't want to get out of bed at 5:15 to get my workout done.

Maybe the harder choice will be in a year when I don't want to keep thinking about and planning vegetables in my daily nutrition because a burger and fries is easier. 

We want so badly to have results - we really want the results first. It isn't even an instant gratification thing for me. I like watching my body change, for example. It's more that I want the choosing to be easy.

But to achieve change... I have to keep making better, healthier choices. Every day. Every meal. Doesn't mean I don't treat myself now and then. But if I choose to start treating myself daily, there is a different kind of change that will happen. Doesn't mean I don't take a day off from exercise. But if I choose a day off every day, a different kind of change will happen. 

Every choice I make has a consequence or a result. That can feel overwhelming and heavy, honestly. But usually it helps me break it down into just making the next right choice. Instead of focusing on the end result that might take 6 more months of work (and thousands of choices), I'm just going to focus on the next choice I need to make.

Right now, I had a workout defeat me. It was intense and it was hard. I got through 15 of 20 minutes. I don't usually quit and I don't usually get angry. But I sure did today. So now I have the next choice to make. I need more exercise than the struggling 15 minutes. Do I do the last 5 minutes of the workout so I can say I completed it? Usually I do another 30-40 minutes of cardio - should I do 50-60 instead? Or should I throw in the towel for today and take it as a sign of needing a day off?

Related image

I'm not sure yet if I will go back and do the last 5 minutes.

I will choose a longer cardio workout.

I won't take today as a rest day.

Every choice I make makes me. So what is it that I want to be? Do these choices still get me there?

Until next time,
Liz


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

15 Days In - January


January is halfway through. The first month of 2019 is halfway done. Can you believe it?

Time for my weekly check in on my January goals! 

To review: 

Physical Health
10,000 steps per day
Drink water (no soda)

Brain Work
Read the classic Frankenstein

The Happiness Project
Go to bed earlier
Exercise
Declutter/organize
Complete tasks
Act more energetic




Physical health goals are going great! I lost weight July - Oct in preparation for our trip to Disney. I gained at Disney, came home and lost most of it, then the holidays hit. I basically maintained over the holidays and now it's time to get back to losing. In January, I've lost 5 lb and am back to where I was when we left for Disney. Daily exercise meets my daily 10k steps goal and is part of my Happiness Project vitality focus to exercise daily. I've started a new Beachbody Program - Shaun T's Transform:20. 20 intense minutes, 6 days per week. It's a step program but not like old school step aerobics. It's also about transforming whatever thing inside of you holds you back from achieving, succeeding. In order to make my step goal, I workout twice. Once is the new program and then I do whatever I choose. Walk if I can or I've been enjoyed some old school Shaun T like Hip Hop abs. 

In December, I had the same daily goal of 10k steps per day and I tracked and measured daily. In January, I'm still focused on the daily goal but if I miss a day, I am confident I can balance out the miss over the next day or two. I want the weekly focus to show 10K steps on average per day. 




My other physical health oriented goal is No Soda. I had slipped into enjoying diet soda in December. For me, it's a bad habit because it can lead to regular soda. I'm also not a fan of artificial sweetener. Water is the healthiest option so that's what I've been sticking with! I like to add fruit - lemon, lime, or pineapple.

Keeping my brain healthy is another goal this year. January's goal is to read the classic novel, Frankenstein. It takes serious focus to read the old language and style of writing. I'm really enjoying it. I am delayed in reading because I misplaced my copy for about a week. Thankfully, I found it again and am back to it. 



Vitality is the focus in January for The Happiness Project. I have to say that I am feeling the most success so far with the going to bed earlier. Over the holidays, being able to sleep later in the morning meant that bedtime was getting later and later. Focusing on getting to be by 10 or 10:30 so I can get up at 5:20 to workout means I'm getting around 7 hours of sleep per night. Which works well for me! I'm clearly exercising regularly so that one's pretty easy. And keeping up with that 10k step and exercising goal means I don't have time to act like I don't have energy - all I can do is act energetic! 

So the other part of vitality comes down to organization and such. Not my areas of skill. I have not tackled a decluttering or organization project. However, over the holidays, we did major purging and organizing in our home. So I've adjusted this goal to mean that I keep up with maintaining the work we've done. And I have! I feel like friends could drop by anytime and I'd be comfortable inviting them in. There is still mess and my home certainly wouldn't meet the standards of some folks - and that's ok. 

And finally - completing tasks. Or what feels like Adulting. I've made a list of things to get done. I've completed one thing - packing up and putting away Christmas stuff. A project finish in the bathroom (installing baseboards) is in process (we bought the stuff, now Jeff just has to finish it). The other things on the list - I just have to get serious and make them happen. To hold myself accountable, I'm sharing the rest of the list. 

Phone call to health insurance 
Schedule mammogram
Schedule annual eye check   Done as of 1/15!
Get patches sewn onto Teagan's TKD uniform
Shampoo living room/dining room carpet
Schedule a painting or pottery painting thing
Figure out living room light switch (in other words, nag Jeff about replacing it)

Overall, I'd say it's going well! 

Until next time,
Liz

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Guest Post: Disney Magic Kairos Time


Today's post is from my friend, Andrea. She's an unexpected Disney fan just like our family. She just got back from a trip and wanted to share why Disney is magic for her family!

***

Kairos (καιρός) is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action.--Wikipedia

“You are going to Disney again?” I know what they really mean to ask when they say this. They mean, “Wasn’t once enough?” or “Why don’t you go someplace else.” “Aren’t the kids too old for Disney now?” Maybe we should go somewhere else. But was once enough? Nope. Disney is magical. Disney is Kairos time, sacred time, a time carved out of ordinary time where regular time is suspended.



We just returned from a Christmas holiday trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was our 7th (?) trip in about 15 years. We had never been there during Christmas time, however, always preferring to go in October during fall break. With one kid in college now and breaks not lining up the way they used to, the only time we could fit the trip in was Christmas. Initially, I was not happy about it. The most crowded week of the year? Give up my relaxing time at home between Christmas and New Year’s? Not at all what I preferred to do. But, we make sacrifices for our children. And for those moments of Kairos.

A well-planned Disney trip (thanks to our wonderful Disney planner, Katie Dixon with Hi Ho Vacations) sets the stage for Disney Magic Kairos Time. Despite the schedule, jam packed with early morning Magic Hours, fast passes, and dining reservations, this year I really tried to pay attention. I wanted to drink in this family time, knowing that it may be one of the last trips we take as a whole family together. I wanted to pay attention to who the kids are and who we are as a family.

One of the best things about Disney is how it grows with you. When they were little, the magic of meeting their favorite characters “in the flesh” was just about all the excitement they could bear. We would seek out the characters at the various meet and greets. Armed with their little autograph books, they would bask in the glow of a hug from Pocahontas or a high-five from Mickey. What a treat to meet Buzz Lightyear and Woody after riding the Buzz Lightyear ride! As they grew, they tackled the more thrilling rides like Rock n Rollercoaster and Space Mountain. This year, the youngest kid started really noticing all the work and attention to detail that Disney puts into creating each one of its rides and environments. Disney goes all in with the theming, no two dimensional facades for them. In Pandora, he noticed that even the railings for line control at the Na’vi River ride were designed to look like natural materials instead of just standard metal railings. We all marveled at the way the Banshee in Flight of Passage “breathed”. Still, at each stage, they love to return to the old favorites… Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean, the cheesy Jungle Cruise. They even humor me in my assertion that you have only really been to Disney once you’ve ridden It’s a Small World.  

Three boys, ages 20, 16, and 12. Different stages and very different personalities. In real life, the two oldest get along ok. Jake tends to be very critical of his younger brother, Griffin, but they share an interest in sports and their deep involvement in DeMolay, a Masonic youth organization for boys and young men. Jake also tends to be critical of the youngest, Owen, but has more patience for his quirks than Griffin does. In real life, Griffin and Owen do not mix. They are the proverbial oil and water. Or, perhaps, a more combustible mix like cyanide and some kind of acid that creates a highly toxic hydrogen cyanide gas that can kill all in its path. Griffin lacks any patience with Owen and can’t believe Owen doesn’t like sports. Griffin sees Owen’s youth as stupidity instead of inexperience. They have DeMolay in common as well, but Griffin’s advanced age, bossiness, high expectations, and selective memory make him extra critical of Owen in that arena. Life in ordinary time with these two is rife with conflict, hateful attitudes, toxic conversations, and generally surly teenage attitudes.

Disney Magic Kairos Time, is different. Disney Magic Kairos Time brings out the best in all of us. It begins the moment we settle into the car to get on our way and generally lasts until a few miles away from home at the end of the trip. Nope, not even 16 hours of confinement in the car (each way) can disrupt Disney Magic Kairos Time.  I mean we aren’t perfect, even in Disney Magic Kairos Time. We are just better, nicer, more helpful, more enthusiastic, more patient versions of ourselves. There is no room in Disney Magic Kairos Time for surly teenage attitudes. Nobody is “too cool” to ride It’s a Small World. They won’t ride it more than once, mind you, but it is part of the Disney experience. Griffin, the king of 16 year old attitude, insists that we start our Disney vacation with the Ohana breakfast at the Polynesian. He happily embraces Lilo, Stitch, and Mickey when they made the rounds at our table. Those Mickey waffles do something to a guy… Despite my reluctance to see that abomination, Donald Trump, defiling my beloved Hall of Presidents, my boys convinced me to go anyway. And we didn’t hate it. My husband thought Disney handled it well. There was no eye rolling as we stood in the short line for the Three Caballeros ride at Epcot. Soarin’ just makes us happy. There was genuine awe and joy as we looped, dived and flew through the Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom.

Perhaps the best and most important realization that I had during our time out of time at Disney this year, was how connected we are as a family. It is at Disney that I notice most that we are truly a unit. At Disney, I can see the invisible threads of love and devotion that connect us. It gives me hope that those bonds will endure even after they are grown and gone from our home. In Disney Magic Kairos Time, Griffin leads the way consulting with Jake, checking the Disney app for wait times and the best route from here to there to make sure we get to our next fast pass on time. He leads, but he never leaves behind. He is never more than three or four yards ahead, always checking back to make sure that we are still with him.  

In Disney Magic Kairos Time, I notice how physically connected we are. We hold hands, walk with our arms around each other, and occasionally hug. Owen, at 12, is still not quite taller than me, despite what he says, and still enough of a little boy that he doesn’t mind frequent hugs and hand-holding with his mother. Griffin, firmly entrenched in the teen years, shows his affection with pats on the back that are almost a little too hard, playfully bumping into us to move us along or get our attention and, occasionally, he puts his arm around me and leans. Jake, almost 20, mature for his years, seems almost protective and solicitous of me. He frequently puts his arm around me as we walk and talk, staying connected in the midst of the bustling crowds. They do the same with their dad. We stick together. There is no splitting up, Jake makes sure of it. We all go or none of us do. In Disney Magic Kairos Time, the older brothers put their arms around the baby brother to guide him and encourage him, rather than to choke him. It is a beautiful thing to see and even more beautiful to be a part of.

We stay in warm bubble of Disney Magic Kairos Time during our trip home, for the most part. Everyone is reluctant to go back to normal. If there were a way to conjure it up when we are back home and back to our daily lives, I would. I find myself looking at our pictures frequently. (Love that Memory Maker.) My new Disney tennis shoes on a Monday morning brighten my day and conjure up just a little bit of the Disney Kairos Time. My husband holds on by keeping up with the updates on Disney parks throughout the year.  And there is always planning the next trip. Maybe next Christmas? Star Wars Land, anyone?

***

Thank you, Andrea! I love this because it really captures why I also love going to Disney. It's unexpected but we are really a version of our best selves when we go. Not every moment is magic, of course. But I can more easily see our goodness and joy and love for each other. I like the spirituality of calling that Kairos.

Until next time,
Liz

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Year of Happiness


It may sound cheesy.

It may be setting myself up for disappointment.

But I've decided that the goals I'm working on this year are leading me to focus on Happiness.

2012 was the start of a lot of years of upcoming hard stuff. Layoffs and big changes at work. Unexpected new job (same company) at work. Leaving our church after 11 years. Finding a new church. Zach's cancer scare. Various health issues for me and Jeff. Illnesses for the kids - typical stuff but it seemed to come in waves.

Something about this year feels different.

Not that life is going to be sunshine and roses and no problems. Life is all about handling and surviving hardships.

But this year, as 2018 began to fade and 2019 was coming into view, I began to feel like I had the opportunity to make things better.

A big part of this adjustment is taking some control over my physical health. At the end of June, I decided it was time to take back this part of living. I'd last been successfully and consistently healthy and active back in (you guessed it) 2012. In 2012, I did the Dirty Girl Mud Run, I took a spinning class and did a long bike ride (The Girlfriend Ride). The year before, I did a half marathon.

Life got super hard and I just let it slip away. And I gained weight. Quite a bit of weight.

So in June, I knew it was time to get really serious about taking back control of my health as best I could - with a good nutrition plan and with daily exercise. Thanks to finding Beachbody and Shakeology, I had help in getting both of those things under control.

So in 2018, I started to take control.

In 2019, I want to take it to the next step. I want to be happier. I want to continue to improve my physical health but I also want to do maintenance checks and work on happiness. Enter the book "The Happiness Project." I also want to keep my mind engaged and sharp by reading more - and maybe reading better. I blogged last week about my January goals.



How am I doing?

10K steps per day - check

I've also kept to my goal of only drinking water, tea, coffee. No soda!

Reading - Because I have to be able to concentrate when reading Frankenstein, I have not made as much progress this week as I'd like. I think I will need to get creative on how to get more reading time in - like, dinners where we can read while we eat or something. But I definitely need to find times to read more where I can really concentrate.

Vitality
Go to bed earlier - I am getting the amount of sleep I need (see the Fitbit review above). I'm making an effort to get to bed between 10-10:30. It definitely takes effort.

Exercise - definitely meeting this goal.

Declutter/organize - Meh. We've done a lot of purging in the past couple of months. I think I'm seeing this goal as more about making the effort to stay on top of keeping our living spaces livable. I'm doing ok but again - it will take more effort.

Complete tasks - I have made my list. Now I have to work on completing the tasks.

Act energetic - I have made myself be active at times I didn't want to be. I definitely do believe in the "fake it until you make it" way of thinking.

One week of the new year is done. I feel good about the progress I've made!

Until next time,
Liz

Re-Introduction


I used to blog very regularly. Now, not so much. Which means I may be disconnected from you. Or maybe we haven't met before.

I'm Liz. I'm married to Jeff. We live in Indiana. Our kids are Teagan (she's almost 14 years old) and Zach (he turned 11 recently). Our dog is Bandit - he's a rescued chihuahua-esque cutie with his own hashtag #BanditioPoochito on Twitter and Instagram. Jeff and I both work full time. The kids go to the local public school. We are very involved in our church. We are a liberally minded family. We also love Disney - movies and World. In a lot of ways, we are just a basic, typical, white, suburban family.



Sometimes, I blog about faith. Or about life in general. Sometimes, I write about my political opinions or issues about social justice. Sometimes, I blog about healthy living and getting healthier. I like to dive deep into life and faith and trying to improve myself as a parent, a spouse, a friend, and so on.

In 2019, I am focusing on improving my physical health (diet and exercise), sharpening my mind (reading consistently), and improving my happiness (The Happiness Project).

Things I might blog about include:

Parenting a teenager and a tween is not for the faint of heart or those without a backbone.

Faith is fluid. It shifts and changes. Sometimes that can be scary.

Friends are vital.

Surviving parenthood and keeping a marriage in tact and happy is a unique challenge. I want my husband to be my best friend. I want us to like each other after the kids are gone.

Rekindling or finding new creativity.

Until next time,
Liz




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

One Choice


It's the New Year and that means many people are setting goals and resolutions. I'm no exception. I don't have a vision for all of 2019 but I do want to set monthly goals.

Here are my overall 2019 areas of focus.

Body - Health
In 2018, I lost 35 lb. I want to lose more. At least 15-20 more lb. The best way for me to achieve this goal is to break it down into manageable steps.

January Goals
10,000 steps per day - achieved through working out and walking.
No soda - drink water, 1 cup of coffee per day, hot or iced tea is ok.

Mind - Reading
I grew up reading constantly. I enjoy reading. But in the past few years, I tend to stop and start and not consistently read. Instead of just setting a goal to read 1-2 books per month, I plan to commit to a specific book each month. 

January's book is the classic Frankenstein.

The Happiness Project

My sister-in-law recommended this book and I received it for Christmas. While I know that I'm supposed to figure out my own path to Happiness, I like the idea of reading this book month by month since I happened to start it exactly on New Year's Day and it's written with monthly themes.


January's focus is Vitality.

  • Go to bed earlier
  • Exercise
  • Declutter/organize
  • Complete tasks
  • Act more energetic

It might feel like a lot to take on. But most of these things are already in place in my life. This just helps me sharpen the focus. Prioritize.


As I made my breakfast this morning, I was reminded that goals are achieved with each choice I make. If I choose to sit down and watch TV instead of exercising or reading, I am choosing not to focus on my goals. Sometimes, that's ok. But with each choice, I either stay focused or I don't. When I make a meal, I either make healthy choices or I don't. When I put water in my cup instead of Diet Coke, I'm making a choice. So it's just a matter of intentionally making choices throughout the day. Sometimes that feels less overwhelming. One choice at a time. Even if I make a bad choice, I don't have to throw away the whole day. The next choice can be better.

The next choice can always be better.

Until next time,
Liz