Most people are enjoying personal time at home during the December holidays or prepping for the new year, but not me. I actually like being at work during this time of year. It's low volume screaming, no disgusting smells coming from the communal microwave and best of all most toilets are pristine looking and clean (versus having unidentifiable "stuff" on, in and around them!). Year end is a breeze and, dare I say, enjoyable? The lack of demanding emails and phone-calls allow me to come to work with a specific agenda that can actually be executed! No multi-tasking, no dropping what I was doing to take care of an emergency. It's work on my terms without succumbing to the cries of the needy. And yep, it's awesome.
It's the 24th. I overslept. Ok, to be honest I woke up early and chose to lay in bed for another 45 minutes. I went to the gym and still did a full work out (priorities man!). I was late to work but figured there'd be no one in the office to notice (and I was right - until they read this of course) I spilled hot sauce all over my shirt and pants - can't take me anywhere. I smell like hot sauce. Damn it.
1. You will get laugh lines on your face but you don’t care because all that means is that you laugh a lot which is the sign of a great life.
2. After years of picking your body apart and feeling like you are not good enough because you are too fat/skinny/short/tall/weird-looking, you turn a corner and start feeling comfortable in your own skin. Now you try to break dance at weddings and you don’t care how crazy you look. You sing “Our Lips are Sealed” at karaoke night in front of a bunch of strangers. You don’t care if you sound terrible because life is short dammit, and this is how memories are made.
3. You go to bed when you are tired. You truly enjoy a good night’s sleep, the comfort of a cozy blanket, and a roof over your head. You know that not everyone gets to have these things so you feel appreciative.
4. You become resilient. You have been through some shit and you have come out on the other side. You know what constitutes a true crisis and you have experienced real trauma. You know how to handle all kinds of gnarly situations and you have been there for others when they have gone through tough times.
5. You remember to tell people that you love them. By the time you are 40, chances are you have lost some people that are important to you. You know the importance of telling people how you feel about them while you still can. You start giving more hugs.
6. You have a close knit circle of amazing friends. It may have taken a while but you have weeded out the manipulators, the Debbie Downers, and the drama magnets. What you have left is a group of amazing people who really know you and love you for who you are. They are the real deal. They cheer you on when you have successes and don’t turn their backs on you when you are in pain.
7. You don’t care about being cool anymore and therefore you become the coolest you have ever been in your life. This may mean dressing in fashions from the 90’s (or earlier) or openly listening to music that you used to be embarrassed about liking. You just don’t give a big shit what anyone thinks about you anymore and it rules.
8. You get a backbone. You don’t compromise your values. You fight for what is important. You let people know when they hurt you. You apologize when you hurt others. You move on.
9. You pull your head out of your ass. You take better care of yourself but you become less selfish. You appreciate the beauty in your surroundings. You stop taking selfies and start taking in sunsets. You accept compliments without countering them with a self-depreciating comment. You realize that, most of the time, you have more choices than you think you do. You stop wasting your time being a victim of circumstances that you have the power to change.
10. You don’t have to buy into the cultural messages that you get bombarded with about getting older. It is all crap. Being 40 is awesome.
My thoughts on new years resolutions have wavered over the years from absolutes, to vague vows of change to make the goal more easily attainable. But why must we wait and pin all of our hopes for change onto the first day of the year? The fact is, every day is a fresh start. We all wake up, God willing, with 365 days of fresh starts per year - screw January 1st! I'm not waiting because getting active now, whether it's physical, emotional or spiritual just seems far easier while the thoughts are fresh in my head. Time really is an illusion after all. We never have enough of it, so why not make your own reality now, and quit procrastinating? There's so much pressure to share your resolutions on the first, only to realize that 5 days later you've fallen off the vow-wagon and the feelings of embarrassment start to creep in. Who needs that kind of pressure? Wouldn't it be awesome if on the first of the year when your friends ask what your New Year's resolutions are, that you could respond, "It's to get healthier, and I've already done X, Y, and Z to help get me there."? Or, "I want to save X amount of dollars this year, and here are the steps I've already taken and...". Get the picture I'm drawin' for ya here? I guess my point is (yes, I have one) that the old adage states, if you can dream it you can do it and nowhere in that quote is there a specific start date. Just do it (no I'm not endorsed by Nike for that comment). But come on - make today your January 1st already, what are you waiting on? Wondering what some of my resolutions are for the new year? Ask me on the first and I'll tell you how far I've come!
I finally took a glass blowing class this weekend! I've been wanting to experience this class for quite some time, so I'm happy that Groupon helped make it possible. (Although, Groupon tends to be more of a hindrance to my wallet than helpful most days - but I digress.) The class at Talisman Glass was fast paced and seemingly all too short, but it was an awesome experience. Owner and instructor Sharon Gilbert is amazing in her knowledge, support and patience. Her instructions allowed for plenty of hands on work and learning, but I have to admit that the actual, getting down on your knees and blowing into the end of a moving pipe (in order to blow the ornament into shape) was a bit intimidating. Quite frankly, it reminded me of something all together different (and I really can't believe that I wast the only one to think and feel like that!). Despite the down on your knees blowing awkwardness, I would totally do it again! Below are pics of the ornament I created. The reds in the "before" photo appear black as the globe is hovering around 900 - 1000 degrees. The true color starts to "come up" as the ball cools. On the right is the finished, speckled product and I'm happy to say that it's already proudly hanging on the Christmas tree.
Epilogue: In life, when times are hot and troublesome we don't always see the best and brightest colors in things or people. Perhaps, like the ornament, we should remember to take the time to cool down and see things as they really are. Time makes all the difference.
Ok, having now seen operas in Italian, German and English I will tell you that Italian is the only way to go! Despite the German (The Magic Flute) and English (Porgy and Bess) operas having great story lines, they have proven painful to listen to! While I hardly consider myself an opera snob (ok, maybe I am?) the non-Italian singing just does not flow! It's harsh. It's choppy. It's just not pretty and not what one would envision hearing when the word opera comes to mind. Thank goodness I'll be seeing Tosca in January in hopes of redeeming my Italian love. It's not over yet fat lady...
Well, it took me the better part of the year to get the nerve to meet with a financial adviser, but I finally did it! The best thing is, that I'm on track to a successful retirement (barring catastrophe) and have made some smart choices along the way. Whoa - did I just talk about retirement? That makes me feel OLD and I still have a long way to go before I'm even OLD enough to retire! And to make reality even harder to swallow, I just calculated that I have way too many days left until I can go on permanent vacation!
Today I slept in and by some magical means, my schedule got cleared for the day. I am thankful that things fell through and that I got to spend the afternoon doing that "R" word. You know, relaxing! Movies on the couch, dinner "in" and reading in bed. Thank you, Universe for unwinding just as you should to end my November on a great note!
Today I organized a crew of 19 friends and loved ones to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children. We packed dry goods that will be sent overseas to feed people in need. It was a great way to avoid the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, and give back to others. I am so thankful that I can help out in this capacity, and more so, that I helped give other people the opportunity to spend the day doing something so great!
It's the last day of Fun Foundations class (for the month) which means I get to have some free time. All to myself. Now, the only question is, what am I going to do with myself and all this free time? Hmm...
While I'm grateful for the compliments I received today on my hair, my teaching ability, and about me in general and how awesome I am (thanks Ann, Brenda and KK!) I must say the highlight I'm most thankful for today was coming home to a pre-warmed, electric blanket just for me - thanks babe!
Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ok, there are never enough hours in my day to accomplish everything I want to do! Thankfully, I have people in my life that understand my schedule and the shortcomings of my time available to them. The fact is,even though I'm usually aware when others get frustrated,Iget frustrated that I can't meet my day's desires, too. While coming up short in any given situation is frustrating what I'm thankful for is that I have people in my life that want to share my time with me. I won't complain of the demands, but relish in the rewards. Happy Thursday.
Today I'm thankful for little things... Morning workouts Custom breakfasts and coffee Texts that answer my questions before I ask Scheduling freedom My boss's absence (so I can learn new things) Help from others Silly conversations Silly silences filled with smiles and cuddles Late night trips to the grocery store
Tonight 3 out of 5 students passed their CGC test with my boss as their evaluator. Compared to her statement that "8 out of 9 dogs fail...", I think we did pretty awesome as trainers! We, my co-teacher/trainer and I, surpassed the 10% pass rate and prepared our students well! It's great to see all of their, and our, hard work pay off. I'm so thankful for students who take direction and feedback, work hard, and put in the time needed to be successful with their dogs! Congratulations kiddos!
Being reminded to replace the word, "have" with "get" was probably the best thing I read all day. Thank you universe for sending me that message! Too often I get a case of the "haves" and I don't enjoy them at all. I tend to resent them and maybe even at times, hate them. So, just what are the "haves"? I begrudgingly get up on Mondays and think in my head of all the things I have to do. I have to get up. I have to go to the gym. I have to go to work. I have to go to class. I have to plan. But what if you took the time to be grateful for the things you "have" to do? What if you replaced your "have" with "get"? That simple, little act made a huge difference for me. When using the word "get" instead of "have", I no longer felt like my day was a chore, versus a choice and privilege. My attitude shifted, and I was reminded to be grateful for all the little things that I get to do. Sure, one might not be overly joyed at the thought of going to work on a Monday, but the fact is I get to. And so many people don't. The gym? Yep, I'm happy I get to go there, too! Especially when I think of people in ill-health who can't. The fact is, I'm lucky that I get to do a lot of things on this planet, and for that I am thankful.
Go ahead, give it a try. Change up your vocabulary and inner thoughts and see if it makes a difference. I'm not saying you have to. I'm just saying you get to!
If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you if I personally fall in the woods you hear it! Today I headed out for what should have been an easy hike with the significant other, and ended up falling within the first five minutes of the course. I tripped (over what, I don't know!) and crashed pretty hard on my shin. It sucked. It was (and still is) painful. And it was slightly embarrassing! Thank goodness it wasn't a first date because when asked by the man if I was okay, my response was a sheepish, "I'm just falling for ya babe." comment. (Not sure there would have been a second date with that kind of cheese factor going on!) And as if getting my pants all muddy and making a general mess of myself, paired with swelling and hideous leg bruising in a one time instance wasn't bad enough, I continued to stumble the rest of the evening! Everywhere! If anyone ever had a case of the "whoopsies", it was definitely me! So yeah - what is there to be thankful for in hurting myself? I'll tell ya. Of course I'm thankful the fall was no worse than what it was. I got dirty and I'm hurt but my leg will eventually return to the proper color (some day), and hey - my jeans were salvageable! Being out in nature on what was probably one of the last "nice" Fall days was pretty amazing too. But most of all, I'm thankful for having someone genuinely care about me and check in on me when I fall and do clumsy stuff; and still love me in spite of it all. Awwwwwe.
I love Fridays. They signify the end of the work week, and usually are the kick-offs for good things to come. This Friday was no different, and for that I am happy and thankful!
Tonight I found myself sitting across the dinner table from a girlfriend debating the differences between capturing, shaping, and luring dog behaviors. Ok, I'll add the disclaimer now that the only people who will probably appreciate this post are fellow dog trainers. But it was an awesome conversation!
We were both "raised" on clicker training and positive reinforcement, and are currently branching out into other avenues of +R training and education. It's amazing to come back to each other now after months have passed, and see how our perspectives have changed. Mainly, we could both appreciate how our definitions of capturing and shaping have changed, which was the biggest debate of the night! Of course, the best thing that came from this conversation was education, new technique ideas, and getting to catch up with a friend! And yeah, dinner wasn't half bad either - I highly recommend Korean BBQ. Yum!
Tonight I saw the movie, "Fury". It was, simply stated, awe-inspiring. Between the special effects, camera work with inside (the tank) point of views, and general story-line I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Of course, it helps to have awesome company (thanks Eric!) who can give you the true historical background on the war, machinery and culture of the time; making the movie-going experience all the more rich. I could go on about the movie, but you will just have to go see it for yourself!
So, why am I only half blogging about a movie in this post? Because the movie serves as a reminder that I am thankful to all those who have served, and continue to serve, in our armed forces to keep this country free. Having just finished watching the mini-series, "The Pacific" (pretty accurate portrayal of WWII) at home, and now having viewed Fury, it really starts to add up for me just how many lives were lost for the sake of my freedom. I can't begin to imagine the sacrifices both physically and mentally that were paid to keep me free. At times I gripe about America and the politics that I don't agree with, but I don't know anywhere greater to live other than the good ol' U.S. of A. And for those who have fought to protect it and keep it great, I am grateful. With Veterans Day around the corner, we are reminded to take our thanks out of the moth-balls and pay our respects to soldiers both past and present, but it should be more than a once-a-year occurrence. Sadly, for most, it isn't. There are tons of ways to pay it forward and show some gratitude to those who deserve it most without waiting for a holiday. Below are links to some organizations that I volunteer with and donate to, so go ahead and give them a click. Go ahead and say thank you.
When I think about what I am thankful for today, I gratefully find more than a few things to blog about. I am so grateful for friends who always listen, friends who randomly reach out at the right times as if they just know that even a simple text will make my day better - but who doesn't have great friends or people in their lives to be thankful for? So when I dig deeper and think about all the little things in my days that add up to really big moments of happiness, I found that I am thankful for...
Presents (come on, I'm guessing that's a given for anyone!)
Quiet conversations at the end of the day
Pending date nights
Lack of aches and pains
Having the heat turned up for me by my significant other (without asking) when I'm cold
"Ah-ha" moments when everything becomes clear
And while this may sound beyond my normal level of "mush", I'm thankful to have things to be thankful for! When's the last time you really were grateful for all the things you have to be thankful for?
For the other half of Team Awesome with a Side of Crazy, thank you for always lending a listening ear and desk-side chats, constructive feedback, logic, random ballet dances, profound condiment and cheese conversations, movie quotes and adding fun to my life! I am thankful for you this month, and always. You make life (and work) easier!
Today I met with my boss, Brenda, and fellow dog trainer teammates. After 4 months of being with a new company, I am finally starting to feel "at home" (logo-printed clothing helps!). It was great discussing ideas about how to better the business in general, but to also dig deeper and discuss what we as individuals liked about training and what we want to do going forward. Three hours and lots of dog talk later, one of the best things to come out of today's meetup was me being given the opportunity to create and design my own class and curriculum! I can't put into words, having come from a limited retail training environment, how awesome that is! Knowing that I have a supportive boss (despite being spread way too thin way too often) who supports opportunities for exploration and growth is amazing, and for that I am thankful! The freedom to branch out and try new things along with continual positive post-class feedback makes me a better employee, and quite frankly, a better person. How easy it must (or should) be to have higher expectations for one's employees knowing that, "The Law of Expectations means that whatever you think of your employees, you’re right – and their performance will rise or fall to your level of expectation to prove the point." Oh, if only every manager would take that statement to heart - and because I know not every manager does I find myself truly appreciative of my boss. Thanks Brenda!
For some the month of November may bring about strategy planning for a successful Black Friday shopping trip or an annual review of favorite holiday recipes. For others (and hopefully most of you!) November brings about the sentiment of thankfulness and gratitude. While I am immune to the ads of over consumption of unneeded products and tend to wing it on recipes, I do find myself seduced by November as a time of reflection and gratefulness. With that said, I dedicate the next 30 days and posts to what I am thankful for whether they be people, places or things, or even just a moment in time. Recently my friend Judith sent me, as well as a few others, a link to this article. First off, I was totally excited to see my friend's return address in my inbox, and then even more excited and flattered that she considers me a "writer" - but I digress. The short but poignant article focuses on a study that shows, "...the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms." I'd have to agree! As I continued to read, I reflected upon my own feelings about my writings. I'm not a professional, and sometimes I don't think what I have to write about is important enough to post, but according to the article, "You don't have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life's most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music." Yep, I find myself in agreement again! The content of my blogging, while important to me, might not appeal to the masses, and I'm ok with that. The fact is, I enjoy it, and hey, science says it's good for me! So if something like blogging feels great and is good for me, why do I ever stop (have you seen my lapses in posts)? Why does anyone stop anything? Life happens. You get tired. You make excuses. And sometimes, well...sometimes we just need a little push to get our happy habits back on track. With that said, thank you Judith for being my "push"! While I'm sure your intention was to simply share an article, the fact is you did more than that. The article reminds me of the benefits of writing, which I've experienced first hand, and prompts me to get back to blogging. Blogging makes me happy - thanks Judith for making a difference!
1) Second chances are hard, but I'm grateful I get one! Thanks is not enough, E.
2) I'd maim someone right now for a good Tall, Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks (versus the "tastes like chocolate milk" version I received this morning)
3) I wish I was in my Sleep Number bed. Right. Now.
4) I should own and read this book...
5) I'm afraid of haunted houses but am going to one this Halloween anyways.
6) I am now co-teaching dog classes 3 nights a week and love it but find it exhausting. Or, maybe it's that 1:30 am bedtime that has something to do with it? (I don't get to sleep in class like this girl!)
7) I don't feel like talking to anyone today. Yep, I'm tired and crabby, I admit it.
8) The best part of my 9-5 day is usually breakfast (and the gym).
9) Leaving for this in 8 days - can't wait!
10) This still makes me giggle. Happy Hump Day peoples!
I get called "sensitive" all the time, and it's never meant as compliment. That combined with the zodiac sign of Cancer the Crab (emotional by nature) I seem to get the double whammy of stereotypes. But have you ever thought that maybe some people are just too brash? Maybe it's not me at all. Maybe it's them. Ok, maybe there's some stock to it all, zodiacs and personality, but not as much as some people want to add to it. When I hear, "You're too sensitive!", the only thought in my head, though hardly ever stated is, "Maybe you're just an offensive a-hole!". With all the bad raps us sensitive people seem to get, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the quote below. Here's to all my sensitive peeps!
“Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won’t tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they will end the friendship. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings. They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing and the ones that often become activists for the broken-hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Although I'm sure it's been there for months, I just discovered "it" in the gym today. A bicycle that actually has programmable workouts and adjusts itself during the program (in regards to resistance). I love it!!! My gym is small and free, so it doesn't have a lot of equipment that a large-scale fitness center may have, but man, this new toy is worth it's weight in gold to me!
While I enjoy bicycling, I just don't take the time to do enough of it outdoors, and as far as a Spin class goes, let's just say I get lazy and don't crank the resistance like I should. And that's the great thing about my latest gym discovery! It's like a little drill sergeant screaming at me telling me to, "Move it!!!" while forcing me up random hills and long sprints. I can't tell ya how much I miss cycling on a regular basis, so this is a gym-dream come true! Can't wait for our next play date! Ooh-rah!!!
I've written numerous drafts as of late that lay unfinished and seem too insignificant to share, but the news of Robin Williams' death has moved me to, hopefully, type something that will "stick" and find it's way to actual publication.
Robin Williams dead at 63. I immediately think that my father was 67 when he passed away 13 years ago, and that 63 is such a young age. "Man, Robin Williams was young", I think to myself. "No more movies", I selfishly think. How sad. What a talent lost. Robin Williams dies of suspected suicide. "How tragic", I think, as a new sadness rolls in upon my being. Empathy sucks. I research to see who he left behind. A wife and 3 children. Will they ever know the greatness of their father? I sure hope so. Will they ever know or understand the demons he fought? The demons he lost his soul to? I doubt it. I think some of the most beautifully talented people are the ones suffering the most. Deflecting their pain with a joke and smile, or diverting attention onto others versus themselves. Playing small in order to hide the pain. And as I read people's opinions of the actions that took place, I shake my head in sadness and fight back the tears. Not because I knew Robin Williams but because I know depression. Depression is sneaky. It hides behind smiles and diversions of self. Depression cons you into thinking that there are no brighter days ahead. Depression is a chemical bitch, and not a choice. While some proclaim suicide as selfish, I find I focus more on how utterly and devastatingly tragic it is that someone did not get the help they needed in order to be able to hang on for one more day. And as easy as it is for me to type that, "there's always another day", the fact is, depression can convince you otherwise. And bless you if you've never had to deal with the beast. I commonly say and think, that I cannot imagine how much pain one has to feel to carry out a suicide. I cannot fathom feeling so badly that I felt that there was no other way out, and trust me, I've had some very down days. As down as those days were for me, all I can feel is horrible that for someone, somewhere, they've felt that bad and worse. And for feeling bad, and being chemically impaired or imbalanced, someone should not be judged. They should not be shamed for finding an end to their pain, rather they should be mourned in that they fought and lost the battle that depression invokes. There should be no talk of ungodliness and punishment, as surely they experienced those things in life.
Please think twice before judging someone's, most often, silent battle. Depression is not weakness and suicide is not selfish. It's sadly a coping mechanism, or rather, a lack there of. Life is hard enough, and even harder for some, without having to take on the judgement of others. You must know that when judging someone else in life or death, that you can not actually begin to have even the slightest inkling of the battle going on within them. Try understanding first. Try love first. And perhaps tragedies that so often happen alone, wouldn't have to happen at all. Rest in peace and be free Robin Williams.
"The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” ― David Foster Wallace
Today I rode in my first Cowalunga bike ride! I choose, for starters and as a first time rider, the 18 mile, one day ride. I wasn't sure what to expect from such a big event (up to 190 mile/3 day ride) but what I got was so much more. I felt very welcome despite the large crowd of riders and truly supported as a first time rider, both emotionally and physically. I appreciated the encouragement from other riders, the "How ya doin' Lynn?" questions from the mobile SAG team, and the attention to my bike from the technical team throughout the route and day.
The weather was beautiful and the ride through the northern farmland of Illinois (and into Wisconsin) was peaceful and serene. There was little traffic and lots of rolling hills and horse farms, it was simply gorgeous. Well, except for those two back-to-back hills that about killed me and a few other riders, but we all made it! (I didn't know I could pedal that slow up a hill!)
I am so happy I signed up for and attended this ride. I have to admit, the morning of I was a bit scared and thoughts of, "what happens if I can't make the whole ride?" went through my head. But I actually maintained a much better speed than I thought I would have (about 13.5/14mph) and can't wait to do it again next year! Best of all, today's ride leaves me inspired to take some bike maintenance classes and to become a more efficient rider. After all, I got miles to ride!
So today is the last day of Awesome July. I received two paychecks (I received my first paycheck from my new part time job!) and booked the hotel for my trip to Vegas later this year! I'd say both of those things were a great way to wrap up a month of pointing out, creating and doing awesome "stuff".
I attended a rather odd, but not to me odd, event. Despite running late and having nothing but turkey jerky for dinner, it was totally worth it. The doctor was amazingly compassionate, respectful and yet powerfully passionate about his work. It was totally awesome.