Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Top 25?! Pick me! Pick me!

Update! Thanks to all of you, I finished at #22!
 Woo-HOO!! I'm so grateful for your support. Thank you, thank you!!

Hey, y'all! I just found out today that I was nominated as one of the top outdoor blogs on Circle of Moms! Please stop by and put in a vote for me so I can truly be one of the top 25.

I'm hoping that the notoriety a few moms looking for inspiration will find my blog and my big, juicy permission slip to exercise for pleasure.

Just pleasure.

No slaving for sculpted abs, sleek thighs or chiseled biceps. No sweating for the reward of a number on the scale.

Let's face it. If the logic, scare tactics, and perfectly designed techniques haven't inspired most of us to come home to our bodies through exercise, then maybe pleasure will.

Thanks so much for reading --


Friday, April 13, 2012

Switching gears: from blah to power

Where I feel most powerful . . .

To be honest, blah doesn't even begin to cover it. Over the winter, most days went by in a haze of boredom and grief as I tried to inspire the dudes to do their schoolwork and live through a dreary season in a town that I really didn't want to live in.

Money has been very tight. Hot Husband works too hard. We miss our friends and making new ones takes time. I feel trapped in the house a lot. I have many, many "I'm not good enough" thoughts. I should be happier, since so many people have it worse than I do, right?

It's all felt so heavy.

Yes, the dudes and Hot Husband are beautiful. Yes, good things came our way and are always happening. But I forgot many of the things I know to be true.

Yesterday was a slip back to one of those days, but I found my way back.

The kids took forever to do schoolwork that should have taken them a couple of hours, which meant that my idyllic vision of soup, tea, and The Sound of Music as an afternoon reward just disappeared. Instead, there was cajoling and convincing and a few tears.

I had to mail off the brutal tax bill. This sent me in to a tailspin of resentment and grief for all the losses we've endured over the past year in the name of other people's greed and pain.

I watched myself stewing, feeding another sad, self-righteous story of hurt. I vented to a friend on the phone and on Facebook. My shoulders tensed. My head hurt. I reached for the bag of chocolate chips and considered another latte.

Instead of stuffing these feelings with sugar or another hour on the computer, I listened another voice.  
Step into power. Step into power.

One of the big ah-hahs I've had in the past year is this idea of stepping into my own power. Not being powerful, mind you. That implies putting on a cape or a persona, something along the lines of "fake it 'til you make it." It can be really useful in short-term situations, like dealing with a hostile customer, demanding family member or self-important bureaucrat.

The problem with being powerful is the underlying assumption that it's something external to who you are. You're lacking. You're trying to be more than you really are. And someone might just find out, if they push the right button. Scary, tightrope-walking sort of stuff.

Stepping into power is a totally different gig. You're accessing what's already inside you. The underlying assumption here is that you already have the tools to handle this. There's a part of you that can totally own the situation and bring it to a beautiful resolution.

You move from "Am I worthy?" To "Hell, yeah!!"

The kicker? Remembering what makes you feel powerful. Remembering it when you're in that cramped, fearful victim place that wants nothing more than fuzzy jammies and a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

There are times when carb therapy is supreme. When naps and chick flicks are holy. Lord knows, I've used all of them.

There also comes a time when the cocoon feels stifling and the wings are ready to feel their strength. I have to tell you, after living the pendulum swing from comfort to power many, many times over the long winter, I'm learning to trust and love my power.

This path is not for the faint-hearted. It takes oodles of practice, loads of compassion and a healthy sense of humor. The fuzzy jammies are so damn alluring.

Here's what I do to remember to switch gears.

Notice the triggers.
An old pattern is to feel anxiety and try to pacify it with some form of corn syrup. Shadow comforts all the way. Grabbing sugar has been a reflex for years. While I felt a heap of shame over bingeing, I didn't know how to stop it.

I'm slowly learning to rewire the binge impulse by noticing when it happens and paying attention to how my body feels in that moment. Now, when I get the urge to grab the bag of marshmallows or chocolate chips, I (sorta, kinda, occasionally) get a little ping in my brain that says, "Oh, there's that panic looking for comfort again. Howz about some real power?"

* Ask myself, every single day, "What do I need right now?"
It's taken me a long time to trust this question. I figured that my weak-willed self would just say, "Chocolate. Licorice. Wine." Surprisingly, it says, "Water. Sunshine. A walk. A salad." And it's right, which is a huge relief. For years, I've been beating myself with the question, "What should I be doing right now?" which just creates a state of anxiety. I'm so grateful for this new question.

* Keep a list, mental and physical, of simple things that help me step into power.
Yes, I actually, truly keep a list in one of my journals and on my iPhone to remind me of ways that I can reach for better-than-shadow-comfort solutions. A bike ride tops the list. A belly laugh with the boys or a good friend is a close second. Cuddling up to Hot Husband is one of the best.

Sometimes I can remember these things without prompting, but often I'm too deep in the pain to remember what I know. The list is like a gift from a fairy godmother (that's actually me!) who's giving me back the key to myself.

Yesterday, when I was in the thick of anger, disappointment and victimhood, I noticed. I felt the tension and pain and I wanted to feel better. I decided to step into my power.

I enlisted Monkey Boy, who just this week has learned to ride a two-wheeled bike, (woo-HOO!!) and we did three laps around the neighborhood. I noticed the light on the mountains. I saw the intensity in a beginner's focus as he navigated around the potholes and rocks. I felt the gentle release of the anger that had gripped me.

After a good homemade meal, I was in the backyard with the whole fam, tossing a Frisbee flying disk and laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. After bedtime prayers and kisses, I pulled out my mandolin and played a while.

Love flowing in, love rippling out. My power.

Look out, world.

Bike love in one more heart.

Monday, April 2, 2012

French kissin' April!

Mmm . . . bare legs and road bikes.

Oh, I am sooo glad to shuck off drippy, dreary days for birdsong and sunshine! It's not exactly balmy here in northwest Montana, but it's been warm and dry enough to get in three (count 'em!) hour-long bike dates with Hot Husband in one week. On the road bike, even! Without wearing four layers!

A new month means another chance for me to pick up my head and decide what I really want to be doing. I remember to take the helm rather than drag along in the wake of everyday life. So I'm setting my Compass in April. Let's do this. 

April Compass
This year, I've decided to pick a 30-day adventure for each month. Confession: I was outstandingly slackadaisical last month, so I'm choosing three adventures for April. Put a little caffeine and sunshine in this girl, and look out.

Adventure 1 is reading a selection from the Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba every day. These little gems are written by the founder of the martial art aikido, which Tiger Boy has been studying for five years. I love the practice because it's about resolving conflict peacefully by using your opponent's energy to flow through a struggle instead of engaging, blocking and dominating. Life work, big time.

Adventure 2 is learning Spanish. I took German in high school and college, but I really should have picked a language based on the cuisine. I'm conning Tiger Boy into listening with me, since he'll start taking Spanish next year. The goal here is just daily work, so we're using to the Coffee Break Spanish podcasts in iTunes, which make me giggle. I'm pretty sure the hosts are from Scotland, so it's accents galore!

Adventure 3 is getting ripped arms. Well, maybe just the start of them. After seeing Michelle Obama sleeveless for the past four years and noticing that every woman in the public eye seems to be going for strong, defined arms, I decided to quit focusing on my belly. I've been doing planks and pushups for the past couple of days, but I'm going to pick up a set of hand weights today. I'll be trying variations on this workout from Woman's Day plus tips from Hot Husband.

All of these adventures should take me 15 minutes or less, so it's completely doable. Probably.

March Review
It would be really easy to look back at March and beat myself up for not living up to hyped-up New Year's expectations, but I'm really over that sort of drama. I started out committed to low carb meals and totally blew it last week on ice cream and bread. I've defaulted to my charming pattern of procrastination followed by freaking out on several projects. I completely lost my Star Chart for a couple of weeks.

Oh. Well.

Now that I'm over 40, I'm chucking the Woulda-Shoulda-Coulda Carnival and going for wisdom. That means seeing patterns, noticing how they serve me, and rewriting them if they don't. It's about awareness. Permission. Experimentation. Forgiveness.

Let me tell you, it feels a whole lot better than trying to motivate myself through shame and guilt.

I'm writing myself a little reminder that I'll put in a 2013 calendar so when I hit the Slug Months of February and March, I don't get stuck in a self-hate spiral. I'll have a map, a soft blanket, warm socks and some clues.

Oh, Sweetie--
You know these months are long and grey. You know your body wants you adhered to the couch, watching silly YouTube videos for hours. Take a cue from Persephone. Hunker in. Read some juicy fiction. Catch up on all the movies you've meant to see. Write letters to friends.

Most of all, trust that when the world wakes up in spring, you will, too. Great ideas and plans will suddenly pop into your brain, and you'll be of running -- running! -- and bursting full of excitement.

February and March are not really inspiring times to start big new projects. Gently set aside expectations of big productivity. Make progress with short projects. Use external motivation, like scheduling a fun, short-term class. Remember that 10-Minute Momentum is fantastic. Five minutes is fine.

It's okay to embrace this slower time of year and go within. Every plant needs time to renew before it blooms again.

I'm writing the letter now, when I'm on the other side, I've emerged and I can see those Slug Months for what they are. Not failure, not unused potential. Just part of the rhythm of an entire year.

My pattern for this time of year tends to be Abundant Enthusiasm. For gardening! Non-curtain window coverings! A compact project desk! A groovy camper for summer fun with the dudes! Biking in Glacier! Lord help poor Hot Husband as he listens to all my blathering about anything and everything.

No time to waste. I have a podcast to absorb and bicep curls waiting!

Bike love gardening project from apartment therapy