Moving On

This past Sunday marked our four week anniversary with Oliver, and what a joy he is is.  With so much loss and sadness since losing my dad on November 5th and then Wesley on January 18th, it’s hard to believe that you can shake the incredible amount of sadness & emptiness you feel.  But with life comes loss.  With loss comes pain, and often, hopelessness.  And it’s not something my husband or friends can take away.  It’s there.  I acknowledge it, and yes, sometimes I cry in the closet.  But, by allowing myself to accept that unconditional and unwavering love that only a rescue can provide, well, life does move on.  And we grow…..we move forward.  

While I would do anything to change the course of events since my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2017, I do believe that everything happens as it’s supposed to.  Why?  Maybe to move us closer to who we are and what our purpose in life is.  Maybe, just maybe, they were here in our lives for the time they were supposed to be.  My dad lived to be 80 years old.  He had a lot of health issues throughout his life, but we shared such a special relationship and spent so much time together.  I know a lot of people don’t have the kind of relationship I did with my father.  For that I am forever grateful.

And then our sweet, sweet Wesley.  My intuitive told me that Wesley came into my life to open up a part of me that had been closed for a long time.  That his “work” was done in his previous home and he was here for me.  She was spot on.  When we lost him 368 days later, she told me he couldn’t be here any longer.  If he was I wouldn’t be able to move forward and open myself up to receiving love and accepting help.  

She was right.  Boy was she right.  

The course of our lives is filled with experiences that make us who we are.  I’ve learned a lot in the past year.  With love, comes loss.  Always.  With hope, comes despair.  With success, comes struggle. We can’t have one without the other.  

When we posted on social media that we were adopting Oliver, who was a puppy mill rescue, I was concerned that people would think it was so soon after losing Wesley.  But then I realized, it doesn’t matter what ANYONE thinks.  My heart was open and ready to fill the rest of this little man’s life with nothing but love!  I didn’t realize how much I had to give until I realized how much I had lost.  It’s all part our your individual journey. It is indeed the circle of life.

Why I Don’t Make New Years Resolutions

That’s right. No New Year’s Resolutions for me. Honestly, who needs that kind of pressure? And this year the big day falls on a Monday! Yikes!
Seriously, all joking aside, It’s been at least 10 years since I subscribed to making resolutions. It’s a clear road to failure.

The biggest resolution made every single year is to lose weight. People go on diets. Fast. Cleanse. Give up sugar. Set unrealistic goals. The list goes on. They join the gym. Take classes. Hire a trainer. They’re all in and then about 6 weeks later, if not sooner, their motivation has diminished and they are right back where they started.

A relatively new trend is picking your “word” for the year and then elaborating on that. For example, the word “passion”. So that could be interpreted in so many different ways depending on the individual, but at least it’s a way they want to feel, which can then be applied to different aspects of their life.

Instead of making resolutions this year, why not focus on a word that resonates with you? What feelings enable you to achieve your daily goals, dreams and aspirations? Determination? Resolve? Fearless? Joyful?

A friend recently told me her word is healing…spiritually, emotionally, physically. Wow, that’s pretty powerful if you ask me.

With 2018 upon us, I hope you will remember that no matter what changes you want to make in your life, right here and now are exactly where you are supposed to be. If I have encouraged you to step away from the resolutions, and instead, pick a word, choose one that illuminates the fire within you.

The Circle of Life

As some of you know, but most do not, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in early July, thus all my trips to California.   Early 2017 my dad started having pain in his sciatica and pelvic region.  He immediately went to his doctor and then to one of the top neurologists in Orange County.   In no particular order his doctor sent him to a chiropractor, physical therapy, put him on steroids, and finally heavy duty pain killers. As months went by things got worse.  My dad had an immense amount of trust in his neurologist, a man at the top of his field.  Finally after the pain could no longer be managed, Dr. Boyd scheduled a CT scan which revealed a lesion.  A lesion = cancer.  That then led to a biopsy.  My dad has a condition called Monoclonal Gammopathy, which can be a precursor to Multiple Myeloma.  Given the pain in his bones and the lesion found, we thought it had progressed to MM.  Very, very sadly, that was not the case.  Instead the biopsy revealed lung cancer.  It had already metastasized to his pelvic region.  As the Pet Scan then revealed, it was in his left hip, ribs and spine, bilateral in his lungs, etc, etc.

My dad was a smoker.  He quit 40 years ago.  My dad is a heart patient.  First open heart surgery when he was 32, the second when he was 45.  Angioplasties, Atrial Tachycardia, the list goes on.  Yes, heart disease runs on my father’s side of the family.  My grandfather and his 3 siblings all died before 55.  That is why I am so passionate about overall health and wellness.  That is why my heart breaks when people I care for don’t care for themselves.

Lung cancer is the worst cancer out there.  Why?  By the time one finds out they have it, it’s too late.  The oncologist told my dad with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy he could have 12 to 16 months, without, 6 months.  What the oncologist didn’t tell my father was how awful chemo would be.  All my dad could hear was the amount of “time” he had.  After two rounds of chemo he ended up in the hospital for 9 days.  His blood pressure was extremely low, he went into atrial fibrillation, and his already existent edema manifested.  Once things were somewhat under control he was released.  He went home and the next day went into hospice.  That was a month ago.

I would never have imagined how awful this would be.  From the initial diagnosis and how the healthcare system “handles”  terminal illness, to the heartbreaking decline of my dad’s health.  My family has been through a lot over the years with my father’s heart conditions.  But nothing had prepared us for this, nothing. It’s not pretty my friends.

For those of you who know me well, I’m very private about truly personal things.  Stair climbing, working out, yoga, travel, cooking, my furry children & husband, that I’ll shout from the rooftop.  Motivating and encouraging others to live the best lives they can, well, I’m all about that.  But when it comes down to situations like this, I’ve always had this belief that you only share with those you are closest too or on a need to know basis.  Even then I never want to “burden” anyone.

I’ve debated writing and posting this, but I’ve learned over the past 4 months that the more I keep to myself the harder it is.  So, I’m letting go.  I’m so incredibly grateful for the unconditional love & support that Jeff provides me and my family.  And I don’t know what I would do without my dearest friends, both in Charlotte and in California.  They have been my lifeline.

To embrace a full life we have to face all of it…the good and the bad.  It’s how we face it that defines who we are and how we overcome things.  Never judge someone by the smiles you may see via photos on social media, by the conversations or emails & texts you have.  You have no idea what someone is going through and how they need to deal with it.  I say this from experience on both sides.  This journey of life continues to teach us lessons, the most important ones sometimes being the hardest.

I’ll leave you with this. “Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women; about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

A New Journey Unfolds

Last month I embarked on a new journey that I was both excited and scared of at the same time. Yoga Teacher Training. The first question/statement  I got once I shared this was, “Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to teach yoga?” Or, “You’ll be a great yoga teacher!”  The funny thing is, I didn’t sign up with my main focus on being a yoga teacher. It was a mixed bag….personal growth, taking what I’ve learned and offering to my clients, and maybe teach.  As I’ve since learned, I’m not alone.

My yoga practice has been 1 to 2 days a week for the past year or so. In the last 6 months my mat has been “calling” for me on a more regular basis. Honestly, I never envisioned that happening to me. There are two places I feel a sense of peace & calm in my mind, but incredibly fierce & powerful in my body simultaneously.  In the stairwell and running.  Yes, that concrete cave does that for me. And now, yoga.  One of the beautiful things I’ve discovered is my yoga practice is always with me.  When my mind stops racing I then start being. Being more of who I am.  Listening to my heart, hearing what it’s beating for, owning it, letting things go….gaining perspective.

With 2 teacher training weekend intensives under my belt and an ongoing immersion of physical, mental & emotional growth, my life has shifted in so many ways.  I feel like I’m back to being the girl who took risks without the fear of failure, lived life on my own terms, no matter what anyone else thought.  Being fearless.

Most importantly, I am feeling more grounded, steadier in my thoughts, words and actions.

My dear friend and yogi guru, Suzanne Bergen, has been a guiding light on this road to teacher training.  She told me it would be a journey unlike any other.  I nodded my head in agreement, not really knowing what she meant.  With some unexpected turn of events that have unfolded in my life, I now get it. I’m so glad to have found what I didn’t know was missing.

So, that brings me back to teaching.  I’ve realized that one of my greatest passions in life is helping others be the best they can be. Something tells me I will now have so much more to offer.

Namaste.

Giving Yourself Permission!

Oh yeah, I can speak to this with plenty of experience.                     Experience in not giving myself permission!

Here’s a perfect example.  A few months ago I went out with my great group of friends to celebrate the first of many celebrations of my husband’s “50th” Birthday.  Now, I don’t eat cake.  It’s just not my favorite thing.  And, I rarely eat desert…I’d rather enjoy more wine!  Oh yeah, and let’s not forget, I rarely have any gluten!  Why?  It just works better for my digestive system.

So, let me get back on point.  No 50th birthday would be complete without a birthday cake!  My husband, Jeff, has two favorites…peanut butter and carrot cake!  A coconut cream would probably take home the bronze.  Because I already had another surprise planned with a carrot cake, I went with Peanut Butter Kiss from my local Whole Foods.  So after enjoying great food, and wine, and a little more wine, well, the cake looked pretty damn good to me.  Oh yeah, and I love peanut butter.  So, I indulged!  Not just a bite, or two, but my own slice!  It. Was. Perfect!

That said, my typical day after would have been..WTF???  I would have beat myself up over it and all the guilt that goes along with that.  But I woke up and that didn’t happen!  We had an early morning yoga class and I was on fire!  I even came home and went for a run as it was such a beautiful day.  That begged the question, hmmm, burning off the indulgences or, better yet, I was on a carb load!  Let the overthinking begin!

I’m in the process of reading the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  I read it years ago and just recently I took a mediation class and we discussed some of the book.  Ruiz talks of the “Book of Law”, which is essentially our belief system that rules our mind.  Whatever our personal book contains, is our truth.  And then comes judgement, of ourselves and others.  And with that comes guilt.

Guilt….yup, one of best friends.  This can be from a decision I make, saying no to someone, and yeah, eating something that I consider an unhealthy indulgence. And it all comes from our past, and what we experienced and then ultimately are conditioned to believe.  The past year has been full of self growth for me.  And that means letting go.  Letting go of expectations of myself and others.  Giving myself permission to try something that scares the hell out of me and possibly fail at it, saying no, not compromising my values, and yes, eating a piece of cake.

2017…Bring It!

Two weeks into the New Year and I ask myself, where does time go?  It seems the “older” I get the faster days, months, and years go by.

With a New Year upon us everyone is busy making their resolutions.  The most popular being to “lose weight” and “get in better shape”.  Then there are are career goals, things we want to accomplish in our lives and simple changes we want to make.
Well, I’m a firm believer in NOT making New Years resolutions.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Like most people I definitely start the New Year thinking about all I want to do, accomplish and be.

All that said, I still don’t make resolutions as I consider my life a work in progress on a continual basis.  What can I do today to make a difference?  What can I do today to achieve my fitness goals?  How can I spend more time with my family?  You get where I’m going.  Rome wasn’t built in a day!

My advice?  When you wake up in the morning first be grateful for everything you have in your life.  If it’s 50 pounds you want to lose, set up an action plan that makes sense!  Do the research necessary to be successful!  Join a group such as Weight Watchers to help you learn more about what, why and when to eat, as well as getting support from others.  Move!  Don’t just join a gym and then drop out 6 weeks later.  Again, set up an action plan.  Do you love to dance?  Find out where you can take a Zumba class.  In the meantime, dance in your living room!

Love cycling?  Sign up for spinning.  Want to work with a personal trainer?  Interview them!  Don’t just sign up with anyone.  And lastly, don’t beat yourself up.  If you made good decisions 80% of the day that’s success!  Behaviors don’t change overnight.

It’s your life to live and no one else’s.  Don’t worry about what anyone else is thinking.  It’s not about them, it’s about you.  Don’t be afraid!!  Fear gets in the way!  Run it over with a semi!  Put one foot in front of the other.  That’s all it takes!  Believe in yourself and you can and will achieve anything you put your mind to.

So forget this, “New Year…New You” that I keep hearing about.  Yes, it’s a New Year filled with New Adventures, New Journeys, New Challenges!  You were awesome last year and you’re even more fabulous this year!  Make it a great one my friends!

Holiday Survival Guide!

 

From Thanksgiving till the New Year we are inundated with food and alcohol!   That said, I believe you can enjoy yourself without having a side of guilt!  So often people look at the holidays as a time to indulge.  Mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes smothered in butter are just a few of the most common accompaniments.  In the South I’ve learned that mac & cheese is also enjoyed, along with pie, pie and more pie.  And, for those who enjoy libations, there’s plenty of that.  With all the parties, family get togethers, office food, you name it, well, it’s hard to avoid.

Come January, that side of guilt becomes a platter.  Regular gym goers hate going to the gym with all the “newbies” or those who pay their membership and now start showing up!  The “diet’s” begin and of course the #1 New Years resolution is to lose weight!

Well, I subscribe to none of it and I’m going to tell you why.  First of all, I am a foodie!  My motto is Simple, Healthy & Delicious.  Living A Full Life for me is all about balance.  For all of us, we have better balance in certain areas of our lives.  While I’ve gone through my own battles, after 49 years I think I’ve wrapped my arms around this one.  So here are just a few of my tips, that might work for you!

  • Think before you eat.
  • Make good choices.
  • Always bring something healthy to a part.  Always.
  • Don’t starve yourself all day so you can eat later.
  • Do you really like mashed potatoes?
  • Do you really like pecan pie?  I don’t!
  • Are you “drinking” to fit in?  Because everyone else is?
  • Just say no!  It’s ok!
  • Start reading healthy food blogs! A few of my favs!  
    1. http://www.skinnytaste.com
    2. http://pickyeaterblog.com
    3. https://www.mynewroots.org/site/
    4. http://ohsheglows.com
    5. http://www.acouplecooks.com
  • Enjoy real food!
  • Get in 30 minutes of exercise daily.                                                                                 
  • Breathe.
  • Sleep.
  • Be grateful for all the abundance in your life.
  • Don’t forget, this isn’t your last meal.  🙂

Would love to hear some of your suggestions for healthy ways to enjoy the holidays!  Stay tuned, tomorrow I will share some of my favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year!

Cheers!

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JUST SAY YES!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I had a conversation with a good friend last week about checking things off the bucket list.  Having just turned 49 in September, it’s made me think more about my life and what’s next?  With almost half a century behind me, I’ve lived a full and diverse life!  

On the athletic side I’ve gone from riding horses…. fox hunting, dressage, jumping, to 5k’s, half marathons, the full marathon, and evolving to my current obsession of running up tall buildings, Tower Running!

On the professional side, that’s been a diverse and exciting adventure as well.  From 15 years in the food and beverage industry…waiting tables, bartending, catering ( some pretty great Hollywood parties on that list….even met and got a kiss from George Clooney!), to training and management.  Then stumbling into the automotive world with almost 8 years at Mazda North American Operations, in the corporate office to the my first field job sending me to Alabama!  Yup, they didn’t know what they were doing sending this Brooklyn/So Cal girl to the South!  

Let’s not forget the early years of being a nanny, exercising horses, and spending a few years in LA, “going after the dream”….which really meant, waiting tables at Wolfgang Pucks and dreaming about the dream.

And of course we never forget our struggles, heartache, perseverance and triumph to overcome the tough times we all go through.  Be it personal loss, saying goodbye to my beloved Brady after 16 years, health issues, family…..

Well, as I approach a big birthday next year, I cherish the life I have.  A wonderful husband, my parents, lots and lots of stairs to climb, weights to lift, miles to run, etc, etc.  In addition, I get to help others better their lives by helping them improve their health via nutrition and fitness.  I also have the BEST tribe of female friends.  Women I’m so lucky to have as a part of my life.  #grateful

All of that, and something is still missing….I feel like there’s more for me to do, to give, to happen.  And I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

I’m reading a book right now, “You Are A Badass, How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life”, by Jen Sincero.  It’s basically the decision of “wanting” to change something in your life and “deciding” to jump in and do whatever it takes!  Often we get caught up in the life we’re living and are afraid to put ourselves out there.

This really spoke to me: “But what if you had the audacity to leave your excuses and your shame about wanting to be huge and fabulous behind and really went for it full-on anyway?  What if you decided to do the most outrageous, most exciting thing  you ever dared fantasize about, regardless of what anyone, including your terrified self, thought?  THAT would be living.”

I love everything about that!  Whether it’s working on that book you dreamed you’d write and submitting that manuscript, pitching an idea to your boss, trying a new hobby that scares the hell out of you…but you’ve dreamed of doing, or, like me, going back to something you loved and dreamed about, but somewhere, somehow buried it.  For me, that’s acting & writing.  So I signed up for a 3 day intensive for Improv and Sketch Comedy Writing at Second City in Chicago.  I’m so excited!  It didn’t take me a minute to say……..YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And of course there’s more, so much more I’m going after. But I’ll save that for a different day.  The point of this is to JUST SAY YES!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s on your bucket list?  What changes do you want to make but don’t think you can?  Let’s do this…together!

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Essential Oils…..I’m in Love!

It’s not that I never believed in essential oils, but I basically had a very casual relationship with them.  It all started with Lavender.  On my temples to relax, diluted with water and sprayed on my pillows at night.  We then got a little more intimate as I started adding drops to my epsom salt bath to relive sore muscles and completely relax the body & mind.  It was good.  Simple.  No strings attached.

A few years later while getting a massage Eucalyptus was introduced to me.  The massage therapist suggested I put some drops in the shower and create a steam to open up the airways.  I figured well, why not give it a try, I could have more than one oil in my life.

Then came a tough loss of saying goodbye to my sweet dog, Louie.  While I got many beautiful condolence cards, flowers and sentiments, a friend from California sent me something very special….Serenity.  A blend of oils to help you really relax.   A combo of lavender, marjoram, chamomile, ylang yang, with the warming aromas of Hawaiian sandalwood and vanilla bean. Now this relationship took me to a whole new place.  I was in love.  The aromas are incredible added to my diffuser.

She also sent me something else, digestZen, as she knew I had some digestive issues.  It’s a combo of Ginger, Peppermint, Tarragon, Fennel, Caraway, Coriander and Anise.   Is it possible, could I have another love in my life?  Yes!  A a little rubbed on my stomach is like magic.

What I think I love most, is the holistic alternatives that these oils provide.  Living a healthy life encompasses so many different avenues for me, nutrition, exercise, balance, mental well being, spirituality…..and the oils fit so perfectly.

A few weeks ago the amazing Kristin, www.stuftmama.com, shared on her blog a promotion I couldn’t pass up on with doTERRA.  I already knew that two of my loves, Serenity and digestZen, were doTERRA oils.  Well, I jumped onboard!  While I’m still a novice at this, my repertoire is growing as are welcoming some new loves into my life, like Breathe and Peppermint.  I’m doing everything I can to learn the millions of ways they can be incorporated into my life.  And, my husband is even excited about them!

If you use oils or are interested in trying them out check out the latest promotion going on until June 15th!  This is the kit I got, Home Essentials…10 incredible oils, the petal diffuser and a bonus of their Breathe products!  The great thing about this is you will get 25% off all oils and wellness products from doTerra for the next year.  Pretty darn cool!!

Email me if you want to sign up for this great deal & I will set you up.  Or, if you just want to know more.  About doTERRA, the Home Essentials Kit, or how I incorporate oils into my life.  Or what I eat for breakfast!  😉

Oh, and don’t get me started about a classic, Frankincense!  How many oils can a girl love??

“How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways”.  Elizabeth Barrett Browing

 

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Losing Perspective…….And Finding My Way Back.

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I participate in one of the hardest sports most people have never heard of.  Tower Running!  Or better understood as Stair Climbing.  What does that mean exactly?  Well, climbing tall buildings across the country..like Willis Tower aka Sears Tower, The Empire State Building, Stratosphere in Las Vegas, well, the list goes on.  As of this past weekend I have now completed my 14th competitive climb which first started on April 20, 2013.  I am currently ranked 3rd in the US.

And yes, I’m an addict.  I love everything about it.  I love racing, but training for it is what really stirs my soul.  The challenges you face climbing up buildings is like nothing else I’ve experienced.  Your heart rate goes up, and pretty much stays there, you start feeling the “burn” in the quads, your breathing gets harder and harder, and as your body wants to quit your mind must take you to the end.  It’s an incredible physical and mental workout and I’ve found that it’s impacted my life in ways I never envisioned.

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to climb the new One World Tower in NYC for the 2nd year in a row.  We climbed 104 floors/2,226 steps!  The combination of emotions for 9/11 and the competitive aspect takes you to a place that’ s hard to explain.

While I finished 5th overall female and 24th overall, with almost 700 participants, it wasn’t my best race.  With a time of 19:36 I was disappointed, as I expected to climb it about a minute faster….but my mojo just wasn’t there.  It was the first time I’ve ever woken up and not experienced those pre-race nerves.  Was it because I fought a chest congestion thing for almost 3 weeks?  Is that why I was so tired the day before?  Why didn’t I go a minute faster?  Why didn’t I push harder in the end?  Why…I kept asking this immediately after seeing the results.  After a day or so of being “disappointed” in myself, I was more disappointed in my attitude!  So what if it wasn’t my best race!  How lucky am I that I have two legs to take me up that building!  How lucky am I that I didn’t lose my life in that building.  How honored and grateful am I that I get to be involved with the incredible Stephen Siller Tunnel To Tower’s Foundation. http://tunnel2towers.org

Basically, I lost my way.  I lost my perspective on what’s really matters and realized how much I take for granted.  It’s the simple things in life that we so often forget are the most important.

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” ~ Anthony Robbins