My Leap List

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One Month Down

     January is one of the months I dislike the most, but this year I experienced every day of it outside.  I set four goals for the month to help me get to my 2017 resolutions.  I promised myself I would share with everyone to keep myself accountable.
     Goal 1 - Post 4 or more blog entries for my emotional health.  I posted a blog entry on my other blog about a book I read and tonight's reflection is the 3rd post on this blog for a total of four.
     Goal 2 - Read 5 books for my mental challenge.  I didn't quite make this goal.  I'm on book 5 now.  I am proud that I did lots more reading this month with 1, 451 pages.
     Goal 3 - My spiritual goal is to help others, so I started working on a baby gift for my friend, and volunteered to be part of the "Lock Up Your Teacher" fundraiser at work.  The kids raised over $1,600 to buy diapers for the babies in the women's shelter.
     Goal 4 - My physical goal is to get healthy and give up Pepsi.  I did surprisingly well for the exercise part since I hate exercising, but I am still struggling with giving up the soda.  My goal was to walk 50 miles in January and to walk every day in January.  I decided to only count intentional miles outside of work and other obligations even though that wasn't required.  I also decided to do it outside because I wanted to experience nature in the winter season I usually avoid.  I walked every day in January and ended up with 137 miles.  The January pin is for walking at least a mile every day in January.  I will continue walking toward my 2,017 goal throughout the year, and will keep trying to give up the Pepsi.  Funny I thought that would be the easier of the 2 health goals I made.
     I'm happy January is over and am excited for one of my favorite months to start.  I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can do in a month.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Beginnings

     Nick has been fighting anxiety for a long time.  Often it causes hallucinations and panic attacks that keep him from leaving the house.  When he was 10 his doctor told me he would probably become agorophobic and unable to leave the house.  We have seen many doctors and therapists and tried numerous kinds of medicine, but it hasn't helped much.  I wasn't even sure he would be able to graduate because even doing school online was too much for him to do each day.  He turns 18 in four months and that has added intensity to all of our decisions for him.
     Two weeks ago he went to his doctor for his regular appointment.  She decided that it was time to have a difficult conversation with him.  She told him that we need to face the idea that he may never be able to get a job to support himself and he may need to apply for disability.  However, to qualify later he would need to work eight quarters (2 years) to show that he had tried.  That was a hard thing for him to tell me, but he was brave in trying to face his reality.
     The next day Nick told me he was going to apply for a job at his school so he could start working towards having the two years he would need.  He went to his school, filled out an application, and got the job the next day.  This week he got a bank account, met with his counselor to find out what he needs to do to graduate in May, made a new plan to finish the requirements for school, and asked me to give him advice on doing well at work.  Tomorrow is his first day.  I am nervous, and excited, and proud of him for making a difficult decision to even try to do something that is so hard.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Walking a Year One Step at a Time

     I am not someone who loves exercise; I live too much in my head.  My doctor loves to tell me that my Fibromyalgia would be better if I exercise and lost weight, but working and finishing my doctorate were good excuses to keep me inside.
      That started to change 6 months ago when my friend Rachelle invited me to do a Diet Bet she was hosting.  It motivated me to start walking more than just once in a while.  I managed to walk 62 miles that month even though I didn't lose as much weight as I'd hoped.  The month ended and so did my motivation.  I only managed to walk 26 miles in August, 17 in September, 5 in October, and nothing in November.
      When my doctor told me in November that in addition to the Fibro, I'm now getting Diabetes, I knew that something needed to change.  I signed up for a virtual challenge to do 50 miles in December figuring if I could do 50 miles in a cold dark month, I could do anything.  It was tough, but thanks to a week off for the holidays, I did it.  All that walking gave me lots of time to reflect on some hard truths about myself.  I realized that I do better if I have a goal to work towards and someone to keep me accountable.  I didn't want to stop walking and find myself in the same place six months from now realizing that I had let everything slide again.  So Mandy and I decided we would make a goal to walk 50 miles every month of the year, but I was worried that would be like so many resolutions that I start with a bang and fizzle out by the end of January.
      For some reason Facebook posted an ad for a challenge called Run the Year 2017.  I told myself that was a ridiculous goal, but something made me go back and look at it again.  When I saw that you could split it up any way you wanted to with up to 4 people, I decided that would be just what I needed.  I was right.  The group is full of all kinds of people with all kinds of goals working on improving themselves.  Some are marathoners, others are people with major health problems, and some are doing this challenge with babes in arms.  I met Jim in this group.  He is a veteran, trying to kick a life-long smoking habit, and recovering from a heart attack a few months ago.  I was thrilled to have him join my team with Mandy.
     The group has side challenges each month that are optional.  January's is to do a mile a day so your body gets in the habit of moving.  There were many nights I would get home late from work exhausted and want to do anything but go back out in the cold and dark, but one or both of my kids would go, "Come on, mom - you can do this," and off we'd go to get at least a mile in for the challenge.  It also helps to have the Run the Year group.  I'll get up on Saturday morning wanting to do anything but go out walking, and I will see a person in my group with brain cancer who had surgery a week ago who is back at it, or the mom running with a baby in a stroller with her cute toddler running next to her, or any of the other thousands of people sharing their challenges and successes, and I start lacing up my shoes.
      I had no goal this month other than to try and get my fifty miles I set for myself and try and do at least a mile a day, but everyone's motivation kept me inspired to do more until I walked 100 miles in 22 days - a personal lifetime record.
     It has been incredibly hard.  Walking on a fallen arch has given me tendonitis in my ankle and leg,and huge blisters where my arch should be.  I had a soft tissue injury in my knee that kept me from racing at Disneyland.  I've walked though knee high snow, slipped and fell on ice a few times, stepped in snow puddles that left my feet soaking wet with miles still to go, been chased by a dog, and pushed into blinding sleet to get those miles in.
     But it has also been an incredible blessing.  While I could have gone somewhere to walk the miles inside, I have loved reconnecting with nature.  I am seeing winter for the first time - from gentle sunsets, to sparkling snow, to hundreds of birds eating the berries I never appreciated, to the hushed solitude after the snow falls, to the kids playing in the snow.  I am also loving the extra time with Mandy and Nick when they come with me.  I've gotten to know them on a deeper level and appreciate what motivates them and how they motivate me.  When they aren't there, I enjoy the quiet reflection that comes when I have nothing to distract me.  These are gifts I would not have if I hadn't been blessed with the coincidence that is never a coincidence and found the exact thing that would help me get to today.  Today I celebrate 100 hard won miles.  Tomorrow starts the first step to 200.  After all, there are 2,017 miles in my year and I'm excited to live every one of them.    

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye Meraki, Welcome Ubuntu

For the past two years I have picked a word to focus on throughout the year because of the idea that where my thoughts and focus go will create this in my life.  2016 was the year of Meraki - doing something with total love and pure soul.  It is leaving a little piece of yourself in your creative work.  Meraki helped me through leaving Blackridge and starting over at another new school.  It helped me finish my dissertation and graduate.  It helped me through the mundane days when I wondered if anything was making a difference.  It reminded me to do whatever needed to be done with love and soul, no matter what that task was.

     This year's word is Ubuntu - I am what I am because of who we all are - compassion, kindness, and humanity that connect us together by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.  There were lots of words I considered for 2017, but picked Ubuntu because of its focus on humanity.  2016 was a year of tearing apart, of finding ways to separate us, judgements, racism, sexism, and all the other kinds of "ism"s.  This year I want to focus my energy, thoughts, and intentions on what makes us human.  To know that everything I accomplish in my life is because of so many other people who have made things fall into place in that moment.  To know that authentically sharing myself, even the imperfections, makes me human and helps other people who think they are the only ones struggling.  To know that I can make a difference in other people's lives in small ways instead of waiting for big gestures and missing daily opportunities.  To know that injustice and suffering in someone's life affects all of us.  To look for ways to connect to others on a deeper level.  To inspire, to lead, to motivate, to help, to heal, to love.

If we joined hands and helped each other reach the end instead of racing ahead to take everything for ourselves, what a world it would be.  I wish we knew how much power we have to change the world.  Ubuntu - I am because we are.      

Changing Good Intentions into Verbs

     I am infamous for doing well on a goal for a while, falling off the wagon, and then taking weeks or months to get back on.  I've been battling giving up Pepsi since 1984.  I give it up for a while, then reward myself with a drink or console myself after a rough day.  It has been so long it doesn't even taste good anymore, but somehow it leads to another and another until I am right back where I started.  I started walking in July and only missed one day, but when August arrived, I took a few days off that stretched into weeks.  I only walked 8 days in August, 7 in September, 4 in October, and not at all in November.  I managed 30 days in July and then 19 days in the 4 months that followed.
     I am also really good at accomplishing other things I've set my mind to doing.  One year John and I made a resolution to wear our seat belts.  Neither of us ever wore seat belts before that day, but we have done it every day since then.  I worked two jobs and had two little ones at home when I went to school to get my master's degree and later my administrative license.  I finished my doctorate degree while I worked full time.  I walked 50 miles in December, all outside of walking at work, home, stores, etc.  They were 50 intentional miles with no other purpose besides getting healthy and challenging myself.
     As New Year's Eve and Day come around again, I've been deeply pondering what the differences are between the two because I need to make some important changes in my life that will be permanent.  I've realized that a few things make a difference for me:

  • My friend Melanie asked me if I ever get a "runner's high" from exercising that makes it feel worthwhile.  I told her that I honestly hate it.  Our conversation made me realize that this is true of most of the things I want to change.  I hate exercising.  I hate giving up foods I love.  I hate giving up Pepsi.  When I give myself a choice, I pick the easy way out.  When I just look at it as that's what I do or that's part of my routine each day, I don't let my mind talk me out of it.  It becomes a habit that doesn't get easier, but gets done.
  • Being accountable to other people helps me stay focused.  I don't share my achievements along the way because I am proud or want people to notice me.  I do it because I know people will ask me about it and I don't want to have to admit that I haven't been doing very well.  People asked about school or how I was doing on the walking and that kept me motivated to keep working on it.  When I was working on my dissertation, we would have days we would have to meet and share our progress with everyone.  I worked harder at those times so I wouldn't be embarrassed in front of the other people, even though they were my friends and wouldn't think any less of me if I didn't have something to share.  
  • I also do better when I am part of a team or a group, even when our progress isn't dependent on each other.  I always got team assignments done first because I didn't want to let down people who were depending one me.  It also ties back to having a support group to cheer me on and people to be accountable for my results.  I did a great job in July because my friends were doing a Diet Bet and cheering me on and challenging me to do even more than I thought I could do.  
  • I also realized that I do better when I break bigger goals into smaller goals or measurable goals, like walking 50 miles instead of just saying I will start walking again in December. 
With all this in mind, I've decided to set an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual intention for the year.  Each intention will have smaller monthly resolutions to keep me on track and focused.  I will share my progress so I stay accountable.  I will also involve others in my goals so that I will do it for them even when I don't want to do it for myself some days.

Emotional:  I am most grounded when I express my feelings, so I will refocus on my writing.

Mental:  Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but I am not a reader anymore.  It used to be school got in the way but now it is the Internet, games, Facebook, etc.  I want to refocus on reading and learning, not on the other things that don't really matter but are good distractions.

Spiritual:  I want to do something for someone else each month.  I always feel better when I am focused on others instead of myself.  My word for the year will help me focus my energy here.

Physical:  I need to lose weight and do better with my diet so I don't keep moving into diabetes.  I enjoy sedentary activities and being in my head, so this is my weakest area.  I will make this a bigger priority this year.  I will join up with my brother and daughter to work towards 2,017 combined miles for 2017.  I will work towards 673 miles this year towards my part of the team effort.

Monthly Goals for January

  1. Emotional:  Post 4 or more entries in my blog.
  2. Mental:  Read 5 or more books.  
  3. Spiritual:  Begin working on a baby gift for Brittany, and look for other opportunities to serve.
  4. Physical:  Walk 50 miles in January and only have 2 Pepsi's a day.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Saying Goodbye to the Strangers I Loved in 2016

     It is complicated when you feel grief for someone you never met.  You know the person you love isn't who they really are, but the love you feel is no less real.  That person touched your life and changed it for the better.  Their songs, the person they played on the screen, the books they wrote, mattered.  They were there for you when the rest of the world turned away, or they made you laugh when real life was anything but funny, or they helped you be strong when you were afraid.  We find solace sharing our grief with other people who felt the same love.  It is magical to think of how much of a difference we make in each others' lives in ways we can't even imagine.
     This has been a year of many of those moments for me.  It started with the loss of David Bowie.  For me, he will always be my Goblin King.  When I was a teenager, I wanted to live in this movie.  I wanted to wear the dresses and dance at the masquerade ball and live with the Goblin King.  When I was struggling with anxiety and depression, I would listen to some of the songs from the movie and get up the bravery to go to school.
     Gary Shandling was another person I miss from that time in my life.  His humor made me laugh when the real world was dark.  I loved his way of looking at the world, of laughing at himself, and never using his humor to hurt others.  He taught me that humor doesn't have to hurt.  Watching the Gary Shandling Show was my reward for getting through each week.  I saw him the other night on an old rerun of The Tonight Show and laughed just as hard as I did then.  I miss him.
     Alan Rickman was loved by so many as Severus Snape, but for me, I fell in love with him in Truly, Madly, Deeply.  His performance made me believe that true love was possible.  He gave me hope.
     Gene Wilder will always be my Willie Wonka.  He was delightful in so many movies, but this was the one I loved.  He was one of the best parts of my childhood.
     Florence Henderson and Alan Thicke made some amazing parents.  Their understanding and love for their kids influence the way I am as a mother to my own kids.  I'm sure they had weaknesses if I watched them now with my older eyes, but as a kid, I thought they were pretty perfect.
     Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker were my summers.  Sitting with my brothers and sister in the movie theater watching Star Wars over and over was one of the highlights of my childhood.  We spent many summers playing different characters from the movies and creating our own epic adventures.  Watching Princess Leia cry when Han gets frozen always makes me cry, even now.  Kenny Baker was an amazing R2D2.  You know you are an amazing actor when you can get us to fall in love with a droid and forget he isn't really alive.  The emotions he shows when fighting with Yoda and talking to Luke always touch my heart.
     Garry Marshall created the shows that I loved most as a kid - Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy.  His characters felt like friends.  Henry Winkler and Robin Williams were loves that I took with me as I grew up.  
     Harper Lee will be missed as the author of one of the most inspirational books I have ever read.  Every time I read it, I find something new to take into my life and become a better person for it.  Her work is still timely and relevant in so many aspects.  Sadly, I wish that I had stuck with To Kill a Mockingbird and not read the sequel because it ruined part of my vision of her.
     George Michael has been the voice of most of my life.  I remember the first time I saw him on MTV singing "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and wearing his shirt that said "Choose Life."  It seemed like a message sent directly to me.  From the Wham days to his solo career, I grew up with his songs on my playlist.  They cheered me up, gave me solace, and his voice soothed my troubled mind.  His death this year has been the hardest for me.
     As I say goodbye to these strangers I love so much, I hope they are in a better place of love, laughter, and peace.  Thank you for making me the person I am and making such a difference in my life.     

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Dearth of Love on All Sides

     I believe we were all put here together at this time, in this place, for a reason.  Every person I meet is here to teach me a lesson or to learn something from me.  I am only just beginning to process some of the lessons from the past few days.
      My friends and family are in turmoil.  Some of the people I most love and admire are so wounded right now, they are saying and doing things that they would never have done before.  Some are shaming the people wearing safety pins and arguing what it really means about us as a country that we voted the way we did.  Others are arguing about whether we should come together as a country or if that makes us a (fill in the blank) "ist" for giving in.
      I am worried about what we have taught the people who watch and emulate us most - our children.  Many are frightened because they feel all of our emotions and hear our sound bites, but they don't know what it means for them.  One of my friends is an assistant principal at an elementary school near me.  She overheard some of her little ones telling another child that his grandparents wouldn't be able to come home from their church mission out of the country because we were building a wall to keep them out.  Someone posted hate messages at Mandy's school that scared me.  I had to tell her to keep being who she is in the world, but to be careful.  The 8th graders in my friend's class told him Tuesday was the last day we would be America.  Our choices have impacted them deeply.  We will only know how much as we see the people they choose to grow into.
     I don't have the answers for any of us; I don't even have the answers for myself.  I don't believe there is a right way to grieve, or a right way to fight, or a right way to change the world.  I don't know how much strength it may take for someone to wear that safety pin in public.  There is enough pain in the world without causing more amongst ourselves.  There is a dearth of love and compassion from people on all sides of the political fence.  All I do know is I am going to fight against hatred and isms and injustice, but I will tread carefully.  I will reflect on my own actions and words so I can be part of the solution, not another part of the hatred and pain.  I will focus on making my part of the world a little lighter, a little more peaceful, and a little more full of understanding and love.  These are my gifts.  You may think I am naive, but love is my answer.