Wanted By All But ONE…

Often times when I’m out on my longer runs I witness seemingly happy families and couples–old and young.  They’re in the parks celebrating, playing, walking and enjoying life together.  Early on in my running journey this used to gnaw at … Continue reading

My Passion Project–My Purpose & Myself

Biggest and most challenging project I’ll likely ever take on–myself.  *SIGH* Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad sigh nor is that a complaint.  I’m a worthy project to spend that kind of time and effort on.  Easy is … Continue reading

Life isn’t perfect…

I’m sitting in the office alone–by choice actually and it’s kind of nice–18 floors above the bustling city streets below me.  It’s a typical San Francisco summer day–sunny but cool and the fog isn’t far from the Bay.  It hasn’t felt much like a Friday to me and maybe it’s my Eeyore like feeling that I’ve had since yesterday afternoon.  Transitions often have this effect on me and I’ve just learned to ride the wave.    I will still often try and seek out peace but it usually finds me once I sit down and just be.  Sure enough, here I am writing and I can do so now…peace is here, I can feel it.  Feels kind of like one of my Mom’s hugs–I miss those.

I may not blog here as regularly as others, but I do write every morning on my BART ride in to The City.  They are raw words of wisdom on one page.  I write off the cuff and without coffee in me.  I’ve noticed they’ve become less about me and more about the lessons I’ve learned by living my life.  Not sure who my inner self plans to pass this on to but it’s like I’m writing this to pass it on.  “Keep smiling…Love unconditionally….Be true to you…”  All like I’m writing to someone else, speaking generally yet specifically about myself/life.  I don’t even remember what I wrote about this morning.  But this evening I feel like there’s something more on my mind.  Bear with me…

I had a friend probe me about what’s going on….why this change or shift that I’m going through.  That conversation made me realize that it’s not one thing, person or situation that has this shift/change occurring.  It’s not dependent on anything other then myself.  My self finally realizing that I need to live my life for me.  Make time for me.  Be healthy for me.  Run for me.  Smile and be happy because of me.   Love me.

I’m a giver.  I give of myself before making sure my basic needs are met often times.  I make sure everyone else is happy and taken care of before I make sure I am.  I’m ok with this.  But I recognize a giver has a greater challenge.  We can be givers but we need to be more conscious of balance.  A giver will burn out if the output is more then the input.  Simple things can be energizing for me–a smile, compliment, a hug, a just because…

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Welcome to my life…I started this almost a month ago and never finished it!  The month between July 31 and August 31 has been a challenge and evolving period for me the last eight years of my life.  I’ve learned to only expect the unexpected.  I’m an avid planner and think ahead kinda gal but this month, I usually throw caution to the wind and go with the flow.  I’m a live in the moment, day by day kind of creature these 30 days.  Why such the 180* switch?

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Let me try this for a third time–it’s a charm right?  We’re on the brink of the holidays and I’m still trying to figure out where 2016 has gone!  I know many have been inundated and saturated with politics this year, but for me 2016 was a lot more then that.  This year I became a caretaker again, I’ve paved a new career path, I moved on from a six year relationship, i’ve come into my own through happiness and so much more.

For those who weren’t aware, last Fall I began the search for my next career step. It was a whirlwind two weeks of back to back interviews, calls and research.  I finally had a few days to myself with friends and I was planning to use it to clear my mind and make my decision.  While I was in Philadelphia preparing to run RnRPhilly, I was standing on a random street corner downtown and I received the call.  My Dad called to advise me that he was going to need a heart valve replacement.  Time froze and the busy downtown street suddenly had an eerie silence.  It was like I was taken back to the day I was sitting on the couch at my parent’s house and my Mom told us she was diagnosed with cancer.  So many emotions and no idea how to handle them.  I braced myself against my friend and listened to every word my Dad said.  Now a year later, he’s not only doing well he’s doing better then expected.  Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t been an easy journey to get here.  There were a number of doctors visits, pre-ops, nervous pacing in the hospital, sleepless nights, early mornings, etc.  But I’d do it all over again to make sure he would thrive.  I’m grateful for the journey and the outcome!

For a moment, at the beginning of all that, I thought I was going to have to postpone my next career move but I landed at a place that was supportive of my situation and worked with me to make it through.  To that point, this (is it still new a year in?) new position has brought a lot into my life.  I’ve experienced the expected “ups and downs” of working life, but I’ve chosen to grow from it instead of let it get me down.  I’m not perfect, I’ll make mistakes but I will learn from them.  I’ve met some impressive and amazing people–young bright minds, wiser older ones, and many more.  I’ve also met the one who makes me happier.  Yes, happier–I make me happy, he makes me happier.  I’ll get into that later but it’s because of work that we even crossed paths (I literally mean that).  Doing what I do, choose to do, can have it’s moments–moments when I feel like I’m trying to manage a tornado, hurricane and blizzard all at the same time.  But then there’s those moments when the storm clears and the sunlight of gratitude shines.  Makes doing what I do worth it to me.  I’m a “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” kind of girl and I live it.

As my life was starting to settle back into being my own again, I had a moment hiking in my favorite local spot.  Well more then a moment, I was hiking for about three hours and then it happened…the tears just started streaming down my face.  I knew, I knew the feeling I felt but I didn’t know how to handle it yet.  I finally went home not because of a distance or time goal was met but because I finally felt what I needed to feel that day.  I didn’t have the answer(s) yet but I didn’t need it.  I allowed that feeling to develop and evolve for almost three month before I finally knew and had the words I needed in order to express it.  Then it was over.

Some planned travel helped transition me into my new found independence.  I guess I’d been independent for a while though being that we were in a long distance relationship.  The trips were new, eye opening and awe inspiring!  The first two being international and two places I’d never been before–Canada and Hong Kong!!  My trip to Canada was to Vancouver specifically.  Four days in this beautiful city to run and yoga was the best thing I could do for myself at that point in time!  I’ll be back for sure!  Hong Kong was to witness my BFF Stef and her (now) husband Rob wed!!  I’d never been to Asia at all so this was a first on so many levels!  Seeing their love and that of their closest friends and family reminded me what life is really all about.  Venturing off to explore on my own renewed that love in myself!  Finally (and maybe not so adventurous) I went back to LA for the first time since leaving my last job.  This trip, while simple, allowed me to really let go of anything I was holding on to from that and move on.  It also reminded me of how far I’ve come in my journey as I completed my 30th half marathon there thanks (in large part) to Rock N Roll and the amazing people I’ve met through running their races–many of which I saw while running there!!

I’ve done this–life–on my own before, as an introvert it doesn’t bother me.  So I was prepared to do it again.  In the process of tidying up to do so, he crossed my path–well I think I technically crossed his.  He tells our story of how we met so well even I get lost in it like I’m watching some made for TV movie–LOL!  We’ve taken it one day at a time but I feel like I’ve known him for years.  Two so different yet so very similar in many ways.  Our difference compliment each other and our similarities blend.  As I said before he makes me happier.  I am my own happy–it’s not dependent on another.  I’m grateful for him.

So here we are…a year later from when this all started to unravel on me.  Progress?  ABSOLUTELY!! Better for it?  No argument there!  Lighter?  In one sense, yes–another, no LOL.  But this is life…it isn’t perfect, it (often) doesn’t go “my way”, sometimes it’s not fair (or at least feels like it) and there’s plenty of challenges that are faced along the way.  But you know what?  It’s ALWAYS worth it!  Life isn’t perfect, but it’s always…ALWAYS worth it.  If I knew then what I know now, I’d do it all over again.  I may have some bumps and bruises but I survived and more importantly I’ve thrived from what I’ve experienced and I plan to keep doing so.  Life isn’t perfect but I’m beyond GRATEFUL for every moment of it that I get to experience!

Facing the Facts…In the Mirror

Well excuse me while I clean up and dust around here….Spring cleaning, right?!?

Life is full of transitions…seasons change, people get married, people have babies, we change careers, people move their homes, etc.  Some of life’s transitions are less visible though.  We often feel them before we actually realize and recognize that they’re upon us.  I recently read that we naturally (or subconsciously) have major transitions about every seven years.  [Momentary pause while I count out with my fingers and toes how many years old I am…. :)]  Hmm, if this theory is accurate that would mean I’m going through my fifth life transition cycle this year (I’ll wait while you do the math).  To be honest, I could feel it creeping up on me earlier this year.  It’s not so sneaky anymore, that or I’m getting wiser with these years.

One thing I did today–likely influenced by my need/want to “shake the dust off” of things in my life–really shook me tonight.  For more then a week I’ve been wanting to make my hair shorter then it’s been.  I do this sometimes, so it’s nothing new.  But this time I went really short– I have only had it this short once before in my life and that was because I took a risk on a “stylist” I shouldn’t have.  I watched her snip snip snip away my hair over the course of the hour it took her.  I was comfortable and yet a little anxious about it.  She blow dried it, straightened it out a bit to tame my fly-aways and we were done.  I must have been either shocked or expressionless because she asked me if I liked it more then once.  I quickly responded yes, thanked her, paid/tipped her and then was on my merry way.  I didn’t wander around the stores or take peaks at myself in the mirrors along the way, I just left.  I was just as abrupt getting in my car and driving back home.  I never once really took a look at myself again after I left the salon.  Dad commented shortly after I got to his house for dinner, but not in a shocking way–it was quite a boring evening to be honest.

When I got home, showered and blow dried my hair (yes, I know I just got it done but anyone who goes that short knows there’s no way to get rid of those little tiny stray clippings without showering) then it hit me!!  Right then and there, in my bathroom, I lost it…I just balled my eyes out for a good 30 minutes, by myself (thankfully because it was one of those moments I likely wouldn’t have been able to articulate what it was that I was feeling).  I wouldn’t even know who to tell if I did have someone.  Why? Well, because tonight in that mirror, starring back at me was my Mom.  I didn’t cry because I was regretting the decision to cut my hair short or even that she cut it a bit shorter then what I actually initially wanted.  I was crying because I haven’t physically seen my Mom in almost eight years.  Yet tonight, here she was starring back at me.  I know, I’ve heard it over the years of how I look so much like her–both my sister and I do.  But this was too eerily similar.  This was not one of those passing comments–one which I spent most of my younger years dreading/loathing/defending against but recently embraced and would say “thank you” in response.   This was beyond “I see the resemblance” and more “I’m looking at a ghost.”

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.  I know that there’s things I do that are very much like her and her way of doing things.  I embrace that and I love that I’m able to keep that part of her alive.  But tonight I felt like I can’t see certain people out of concern that I’ll upset them.  Somehow through all that–more importantly–tonight reminded me that no matter how great of an accomplishment I may achieve in my life she will never be there physically to celebrate it with me.  No matter how much weight I lose and healthy I become, no matter how many races I run, no matter how great of a job or money I make, no matter where I live, no matter who I marry, etc.

Sounds like I’m giving up, huh…?  Quite the contrary.  I say and realize all that to say this…  Today I actually finally start to live my life for me.  Not for the praise or promise of a parents’ love/admiration.  I’m not ashamed to admit that a small part of me has held on to that belief from my childhood.  I’m human.  I guess the best way to say this–because it’s how she always used to say it to us (“so you have a real job now….you have a real place to live…etc.”)–today I live a real life!  I wake up tomorrow for me!  I’m passionate about a career that I chose and love!  I’ll run because I can and love to (ok to be honest that may wait until Tuesday since I’m still trying to shake this cold)! But you get the point now.  I started writing this blog through tears, but I had to start in order to get here.  It’s a liberating feeling…which I didn’t really recognize that I was bound by until recently.

One more point and realization I’ve had over the years… I do recognize that many of the accomplishments, people I’ve met, relationships I’ve nurtured, and experiences I’ve had would likely not have happened without her passing.  As hard as that sometimes is to say without tears, I know in my heart that’s a blessing and that’s one signed, sealed and delivered personally by her.

So stay tuned…we’ll see how this lives out together!

[No more tears…just one hell of a deep/long sigh, thankfully a less congested one…]

 

Meaningful Maintenance rant…

What’s a “meaningful maintenance rant”?  Good question–begin rant here.

Maintaining my “healthy weight” has been just as big as a challenge as shedding the original 170lbs!  NO JOKE.  It’s easy to slip into the mindset of “I got this…I know what I’m doing…I’m FIXED…” and they go on.  TRUTH is, none of that is accurate or appropriate!  Maintenance is hard.  That’s probably why the percent of people who reach their goal weight and maintain it long term is lower than 5%.  CRAZY right??? We see these success stories all the time in media, on reality shows, and social media posts!  I know, I got caught as one myself.  But in doing that I started to lose focus on myself and my own well being.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about “not being fat” anymore.  Truth be told, a part of my mind still thinks/sees me as that 345+ lbs girl.

Tonight I did something I hadn’t done in a long time until this year.  Stress, lack of sleep, burn out, etc. got the best of me and I at anything that was edible and not nailed down.  Didn’t really like (or have) much at my house so I went over to my parents house to eat there.  I was tracking in the beginning of my day, even knowing that I was going to go well over my WeightWatchers daily PointsPlus target for the day.  But when I left my house, it was all bets off.  I ate to until the point where my head hurt, hurt to the point were it felt like the roots of my hair were being pulled out of my head.  Like my hair had 5lb weight attached to each strand.  It was pounding, my eye sockets felt swollen.  My mouth was dry and the taste in it was less than appetizing.  My throat even felt raw like I was getting a sore throat.  My ears felt like I was getting an ear infection and at one point I had a weird back feed like sound echoing in them.  Note, we’re still on just my head.  I wanted to take a pill for it but stopped myself.  Why?  Because I realized I wanted the pill for the same reason I wanted the food.  I wanted to stop feeling the pain.

Shall we go on?  My chest felt heavy. My belly felt bloated and the more I ate the more it felt like I had a big balloon in there filling up with helium gas.  I think i could feel my stomach getting so full with food that it was pushing my other organs out of the way and up to high parts inside my rib cage.  I felt tight and I was wearing yoga like pants…those “give” a lot and so the fact that I felt constricted in them is beyond a bad sign.  All this extra food weight made my legs feel like they couldn’t support the rest of my body.  My knees started to ache already like I’d instantly added 10lbs.

At one point I felt like if I could just stick my finger—NOPE! Stop.  That thought was just as bad/hurtful as the idea of me eating to make my feelings go away.  Both just as damaging even at opposite ends of the spectrum.  I turned to my 48oz water bottle and started sipping away.  Something had to help me end this slippery slope!  It all felt like an instant hangover.  Which with the drinking bouts I had in my younger days, I swore I’d never drink to that point again because of how miserable that feels.

I share this graphic thought process because I know I’m not alone out there in doing this.  I know because others are just as honest as I am about the struggle to be healthy.  This is not just about calories in versus calories out.  This goes much deeper.  I knew when I had satisfied my food as fuel need.  I went on for hours more of intermittent eating though.  I woke up tired, not wanting to get up out of bed this morning–not sure why.  I never made my bed (which is unusual for me) and to top it off, I walked less steps today than I did yesterday (and even if you added up both days, I still wouldn’t total up to 10K steps).

It’s 10pm PT now and I haven’t put food in my mouth for about two hours.  I’ve showered.  I’ ve continued to sip my water and my headache has reduced to a minor/dull ache.  I tracked (what I could remember) what I ate and pre-tracked for Saturday.  I’ve already declared it a new day and fresh start.  What bothered me so much that I did this? Good question.  Still haven’t answered that.  But i’ll get there.  Maybe a look into my “burn book” (more on that in my next post) will clue me in on what is “weighing me down.”

From one food addict to one who hasn’t realized they are one….

Food isn’t the answer.  You first have to know the question you are asking in order to find your answer.  STOP, PAUSE, REFLECT, ASK…be mindful to what is going on in you, around you, about you…you have the answer…the answer is in your heart.  So now I say good night.  I’m disconnecting for now to do that for myself.

Thank you and in good health,

Andrea

Unbelieveable Me….

I’ve been very aware–for whatever reason–this week when I’ve wanted to turn to someone, anyone, else for support and guidance this week.  From the smallest thing of “where/what do you want to eat…” to “…guess what just happened…what do you … Continue reading

It’s time…

“Whether you’ve seen angels floating around your bedroom or just found a ray of hope at a lonely moment, choosing to believe that something unseen is caring for you can be a life-shifting exercise.” ~Martha Beck I’ve been reading a … Continue reading

Shrove Tuesday–What is it, why do many “celebrate” it & what I’m confessing to you?

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So as a kid we always had breakfast for dinner on Shrove Tuesday.  That’s how i knew it growing up “Shrove Tuesday”, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  I did grow up Catholic so I partially fasted for Lent by observing the no meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays.  We didn’t call it “Fat Tuesday” or Mardis Gras but I knew others who did, and took it for all basically being the same–splurge before the fasting/cleansing period of Lent.

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My Mom would go all out for this breakfast/dinner feast!  We’d get home from school that afternoon and the griddle for the pancakes would already be set up.  She’d have a fresh dozen eggs in the fridge for us and fresh bacon from the local butcher!  Sometimes she’d even make fresh hashbrowns and fresh squeezed orange juice!  It felt like a bigger weekend breakfast on a weekday most times!  It was like a holiday breakfast on a random Tuesday night!  I have very fond memories of those evenings.

Now a days we’ve shifted to taking our “brinner” out to a restaurant.  Something just isn’t the same without her here to do it all with/for.  The griddle hasn’t seen the light of day for almost a decade.  It wasn’t so much a day of being gluttoness but a day of gathering and feasting together.  We didn’t go “hog wild” all day long.

Today, my Dad and I did breakfast for lunch instead since I had dinner plans elsewhere.  I love breakfast any time of day but I’m pretty standard and keep it usually to an egg white omelet with fixings and wheat toast, dry.  But I was feeling nostaglic and this is the one day I always go all out for my breakfast not at breakfast meal.  I ordered the pancake breakfast–two buttermilk pancakes with eggs (whites), and bacon! YUMMY!  With a busy morning of work and calls, the time away from my desk, visiting with my Dad was more than welcoming!  Even the walk down the hill in the chilly California weather was welcoming!

Afterwards I wondered though, what’s the real meaning of the term “Shrove Tuesday”–especially the shrove part.  So, typical Dad response, I Googled it!

This moveable festival is determined by Easter. The expression “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve“.[1] Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics,[2] who “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”[3]

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The part of the excerpt that stood out the most to me was the part at the end where it states that people make a conscious effort of self reflection–what they’ve done, what needs to change, and what areas they need help in.  I’ve been looking to do this, looking to find the time and effort to do just this!  2014 was challenging on many levels–physically, emotionally, personally and professionally.  I started 2015 with renewed spirit but not feeling completely in control and back on a good/healthy track.

I’m looking to change this.  I feel like I’ve been taking short cuts by looking for answers everywhere but to myself.  So as we wrap up this Shrove Tuesday, I’d like to renew me.  For a while I was doing something new and positive every Lent instead of giving something up.  But this year, I’m going to do a combination of these two practices.  I’ve found myself craving sugars and the not so good for me carbs.  I know “we can eat anything in moderation” but these things really do react with my body.  But much like a drug, they can be hard to quit and moreso when there’s an emotional connection there.  So for Lent I’ll be weening myself off of processed sugars/sweetners and the carbs that my body doesn’t like–white flours, bread, etc.  My addition of something positive will be my re-implementation of “me time”–quiet, self reflection time.  I’m also adding a “Move It, Love It” aspect to this by increasing my activity.  I did just sign up for my 20th half marathon after all!

I commit to this and to myself for 40 days, beginning Ash Wednesday.  It’s 40 days of taking care of myself…I worked so hard for so long to let go and forgive myself for all the burdens, hurts, and wrong doings I was “carrying” in weight for decades.  I’m not going to “repack”!  I’ve learned.  I’m going to forgive myself, no guilt, and move on.  Get back to my basics…self love, care, and patience.

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Perfectly REAL

Just two words–“Perfectly Real”–and yet so loaded and powerful.  I’ve stated before that my goal hasn’t been around making the “perfect body” but being healthy and fit, at least for me.  The journey itself has been far from perfect!  I’ve tried to sit down and write this post a number of times but never end up finishing it…ironic?  Maybe so, or that’s the message.  That if my goal were about perfection, it would be an unrealistic goal that I’d never actually (naturally) achieve.  Plus what is “perfect” to one person may be far from perfect to another and in the end the only definition and opinion that matters is my own.

To be perfectly real and honest, this journey has been ongoing since I was a young child.  Petite until only about three and then always the “big kid” from five years of age and on.  Being in a constant state of watching my weight…watching it rise and not in a good way.  It was the root of many struggles for me growing up.  I can’t even imagine how kids make it now a days with the instantaneous and long-term effects of social media out there.  Bullying was hard enough when it wasn’t blasted out on social media.  But my real struggle was internal.  So much that it got to a point where I considered…well, lets just say that I wouldn’t be here writing this today if I had chosen one of the options I had considered for myself.  Today, I’m choosing to officially and permanently let that part go and not carry that baggage with my into my future–doubt and fear are rooted there.  I have no need or room for that moving forward.  Instead of dragging it around, my choice is to learn from it and move forward.  What did I learn?  Well, that I was put here for a reason and that reason extends well beyond myself.  So taking my life at a young age would have been selfish and irresponsible of me.  I didn’t think it through much; it was hard to see anything past my pain.  It used to make me sad to think of that time of my life but now I’m grateful for it.  It was one of the first real breakthroughs in my life. In addition to, it was the first time (that I could remember) that I allowed my Dad into that deep space in my mind and heart, that I always only let my Mom into.  My Dad is and was a great dad, but he travelled a lot when I was young so I often went to my Mom for comfort.  I remember her coming in to my room on a number of occasions when I was going through this dark point of my life and thinking back, I can see the hurt in her eyes.  She tried to help and fix me but couldn’t, and that was hard.  My Mom was great at that.  I often naturally want to turn to her for that even still today and I can’t….at least not in the way that I used to.

I say all that to say this.  Not having her here to “save me” is what led me to making my first real decision on my own.  That was a power that I’d never felt and will never forget.  It’s also a reminder that I am able.  It make take some time and effort on my part, but I can do it.  This “perfectly real” me that I talk about is a bit of self acceptance and a dose of realistic thinking/goal setting.  I still shoot for the stars but instead of focusing on the stars, I look at my first step to get to there.  Knowing I can is a major aspect in this.  If I don’t think I can, than I eventually won’t.  In addition to, I’ve learned, it’s not about if someone else got there (or gets there) before I do, it’s about when and how I get there.   Being me, the real me, not who I think people want me to be is key.  My body is able…it’s not a body builder’s body, it’s not an elite runner’s body, it’s not a couch potato, it’s not a professional athlete’s, it’s not a model’s…it’s mine.  I’ve worked long and hard for it too.  No six-pack, some muscle definition (from hours of hard work put in), less fat then muscle now a days, smaller than it’s ever been as an adult, excess skin, but in the end it’s all mine.  Not perfect but definitely perfectly real.  Perfectly capable and able to assist in achieving my hopes, dreams and goals that I have in this life!

Perfectly real is a mind-set at its core.  Being true to one’s self, values, beliefs, and goals.  Being open and honest.  Being confident and humble.  Being grateful and gracious. Appreciating how I got here instead of complaining about all the struggles.  It’s those challenges that have made me stronger and better and more appreciate of life.

Be you…be the perfectly real you that you are meant to be and love it!

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