To Resolve.

They say only about 8 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions are actually successful in keeping them. Sadly, I have found myself falling into the category of the other 92 percent too many years in a row. Even when I start out strong, plan in hand and enthusiasm strong, I find myself giving up some time around late February/early March. I realized that I was setting unrealistic, unspecific, and frankly, basic-ass goals for myself. Goals that were nice in theory, or on social media, but honestly, quite irrelevant to my life.

In the past, my resolutions have been focused around health and fitness. Generic “get more fit” goals matched with a fitness plan that was exhausting to maintain while working and going to school full time. I have been healthy and active my whole life, but I always chose these goals for other people. I wanted to look good for so-and-so, or whatshername was doing it too! All that bullshit.

This year is going to be different. I want to set a New Year’s resolution or two that are going to better my life for me. It is my fucking life after all.

  1. Improving My Health & Fitness (Of course!)- While I already have a jump start on this side of my journey of self-improvement, there is always room for more improvement. I started by joining the WCC fitness center, which I have been fairly consistent about attending over the last month or so. (Go me!) My plan is to maintain the 3 days/a week schedule as I’ve found it to not only be doable, but it has also improved my mood.

    Everyone in the fitness world knows that getting in shape requires a balance of diet and exercise. So I have also started eliminating fast food, refined sugar, and soda from my diet. Thankfully I lost my sweet tooth with adulthood, but I am far from enjoying my coffee black. Along with these eliminations, I would also like to step up my cooking game. I have learned to love many vitamin-packed foods such as brussel sprouts, salmon, and beets, but I’ve gotten into a bad habit of just eating whatever is in the house (yogurt, almonds, cheese and crackers, [Insert munchies here]). So to resolve this problem, I aim to make at least three home cooked dinners a week as well. That’s honestly not that many… Plus, I have a folder bursting full of delicious recipes that I have been too lazy to try! No more of that in 2016!

  2. Finding a New Hobby – This one may count as cheating as I have already found a new hobby idea, but I haven’t pursued it yet! Being that work has been excruciatingly slow with the holidays this month, I have found myself reading numerous home decor and renovation blogs. Many of these blogs include before and after DIY furniture or upholstery projects that seem relatively easy to do with the right tools and material. I have always loved the idea of taking something old and invaluable and making it beautiful and luxurious. So I began to think of what kind of project would be useful to me in the future that would also be moderately cheap to complete.
    My mother is beginning the long process of cleaning out the house in which she raised 4 children over the course of 30+ years. There are many things that need to be thrown away, but there are also many things that she will not be able to take to her new, much smaller, condo. These are things that do not hold much value, but instead they hold memories. When my father died, my mother bought brand new bedroom furniture and donated most of their old furniture. She had said it was a wedding present and she could not bear to sleep in the same bed without him. The only piece she couldn’t quite part with was the large wooden mirror that rested upon her dresser. Although she couldn’t thrown it away, she didn’t want to see it either. Since then it has sat forgotten in our basement. It is a solid mirror without cracks or flaws. With a small sander and a fresh coat of paint it can be something new that still hold memory, but is not as difficult of a reminder.

    Unfortunately, because the weather has finally decided to be winter, I am not about to freeze my hands and ass off in the garage trying to start the sanding process. So I started looking for another project. This time, I came across my paternal grandmother’s old sitting chair. Once upon a time it was a soft pink color. Now it is a dingy grayish pink that I’m sure would make my grandmother roll over in her grave. The frame of the chair is stable and the upholstery fabric seemed easily removable. Gaining excitement, I set out to the internet and purchased a staple gun, fabric glue, and some extra stuffing. I cleaned out my brother’s old room in the basement and started to set up my little workshop. I have never upholstered anything in my life, but I’ve been doing my research and I have high hopes! Pictures soon to come!

  3. Expanding My Comfort Zone – True Life: I am a homebody. I trust very few people and I struggle to make friends because I am not a naturally bubbly person. I have my people and I love them, but I’ve run into one continuous issue over the last 5 years – people always leave (Shout out One Tree Hill). You see,  I have come to peace with the fact that Ann Arbor is my home and although it is “Home” to many of my people, they have moved to bigger and better places. And do not get me wrong, I am ecstatic for my people. They are fulfilling dreams, going on adventures, and meeting new people constantly and it is a beautiful thing that they are able to do that. I know there will be a time in my life when I can as well, but for now, it is hard not to feel stuck here. And I am very thankful to live in a time where technology allows for such easy communication across the distance. I can still call my people and vent about a long day, or Skype my people when I need to feel less alone. It really doesn’t matter which state or country they live in, they will always be my people.

    That being said, I am still very alone in this town I’ve known my whole life. So I decided that I need to meet more people. I chose to word this resolution as expanding, rather than stepping out of my comfort zone mainly because I still want to be comfortable! I know that there will be situations that may be uncomfortable at first, but I want to get to a point where those same situations will eventually feel comfortable as well. I do not have a set plan for this resolution, but whenever an opportunity arises to meet new people or experience new (sometimes scary) things, I am going to make a conscious effort to not retreat back into myself as I have been known to do in the past.

 

So there you have it, 2016. Last year was a total dick to me and I’m not about to let that happen again.

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YOU GOT THIS!

Waking Up With a Smile.

This morning I woke up with a smile. Before my eyes even dared to open, I felt the warmth of his arms wrapped around me. I could hear the depth of his breath as he buried his face into my neck. He was somewhere between a dream and “Good Morning.” My body fit perfectly, nestled into his and the bed was swallowing us whole.When I turned to face him, I saw honesty in the eyes that were gazing back into mine. Time seemed irrelevant and I was convinced we were untouchable. When the jarring sound of the alarm clock broke the silence, we hit snooze until we had to rush because rushing to work was better than giving up even a minute of this moment.

You see, there is something uplifting about waking up next to someone you care about. Your day is beginning and you are already surrounded by love without ever having to speak a word. You are so filled with satisfaction in that point in time that you forget about the bad days. I fear too many of us take this mundane morning moment for granted. This moment that I have come to treasure.

 

This morning, I woke up with a smile, and that was the moment that I knew that it was possible to fall in love again.

The Little Things.

You hear it all the time – Stop and smell the roses! Appreciate the little things! The little things that make you smile. The little things that bring a moment of peace to your life. The little things that are sprinkled in between the enormous, overwhelmingly big things we face every day. The little things that are so goddamn easy to overlook, drive by, brush off as insignificant in comparison to the much more pressing matters I know we all encounter.

And it may seem cliche and over-said, but the truth is that the little things can save you. It’s all about learning how to press pause, appreciate life for a moment, and actually breathe. Because too often I find myself holding my breath, bracing for the next big thing to happen.

So I decided to make a list of all of the little things that made me smile this week, even when I felt depressed, lonely, incompetent, or stressed out. Each time I encountered a little thing, I took the time to not only notice it, but treasure it by taking three deep Yoga breaths and actively smiling. You’d be surprised by how something so simple can change your mood so easily.

The Little Things – December 14-18, 2015 

  1. Monday – A conversation with my nephew that made me laugh after a long day at work:
    “Ho, ho, ho!” -O
    “And who are you pretending to be?” -Me
    “A pirate!” -O
    “A pirate?? Wait a second. What does Santa say?” -Me
    “Ho, ho, ho!!…….. IS SANTA A PIRATE??” – O
    After further consideration he decided that Santa was indeed not a pirate.
  2. Monday – The rewarding feeling of giving a compliment to a stranger when I told my new yoga instructor that I loved her music choices for class today.
  3. Tuesday – (This was a hard day considering it was Lexi’s birthday) When my favorite bottle of red wine (label below) was on sale for only $8.99! (And I may or may not have drank almost all of it. lolz.)
  4. Wednesday – When the UPS delivery man who I see on a daily basis said, “You have a wonderful day, Sweetie” in an entirely non-creep way!
  5. Thursday – When I found this cover of  The Weeknd’s “The Hills”
  6.  Friday – When I arrived at work 10 minutes early, so I sat in my car and watched the sunrise. I closed my eyes and felt the warm sun on my face and everything felt at peace.
  7. Friday – Experiencing female bonding time at work during our Holiday Sock Exchange. For those of you who have never heard of this WASP-y tradition, it is where the ladies of the office find adorable, fuzzy, holiday socks and stuff them with various ladies things such as nail polish, lip chap, lotion, etc. A clever poem is read aloud about the “Right” family that directs which direction you pass said socks. At the end everyone opens up the socks, gushes over the goodies inside, and then puts on the socks to take an awkward “feet in!” picture. It’s very cheesy but surprisingly a lot of fun! Plus you get free shit.

 

And now I’ve made it to the weekend! I have survived mishaps at work, family arguments, bouts of low self-esteem, and everything else that felt too big to handle this week.

WE MADE IT!!!

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Fight or Flight.

I was born a runner and I was born fast. From as early as I can remember, that was the most prevalent compliment I ever received. My mother used to say that I came from a long line of runners. Grandpa Mac and Aunt Dorothy. It was in my blood.

I spent every recess of fourth grade racing Ryan Knotts around the perimeter of the playground. He was fast, but I was faster. Even at 9 years old, I felt a sense of empowerment that came along with being girl who was able to win against a boy.

I ran both track and field and cross country. And although I loved running along rivers, through forests, and over dreaded hills, my heart belonged to the track. I hated going to a new or unfamiliar cross country course because I was always afraid that someone would mess with the arrows on the course. I was afraid of losing my way and finding myself alone in the woods, not knowing where to go or what to do. But the track was always safe. It was near impossible to get lost in the openness. The cyclical manner of the track always made sense to me. The distance markers were consistent and repetitive and reliable. I loved the smell of the fresh cut grass and polyurethane. I loved the sounds of announcers calling for different heats and reading results of the preliminaries. I loved that the atmosphere promoted a sense of community, but the events were individual. I loved being supported by those around me and in turn, supporting them as well, but I also loved only being responsible for my own performance. If I didn’t do well, I only disappointed myself.

My favorite was the 400m Dash. In the core of my soul, I know I was a sprinter, but the length of my legs sold me out and made me mid-distance. In middle school we coined the 4F’s of the 400: Fall. Fly. Fight. Finish.

You’re at the beginning of the race”Runners take your mark.”  you crouch down into the starting blocks. All of your potential energy is pushing up against the metal, waiting to be released. Your heart is pounding as you hear the familiar voices say “Ready. Set.” But after that, everything fades away. The crowd is muted. Your ears are fixed, listening for one sound only. It creates an electric tension, running from your toes to your fingertips against the gritty track. But with the shot of the gun all tension is released. You push off against your blocks and fall forwards into the first stretch of the race. Your legs are no longer your own. they belong to this race now. They have been aching to perform. Around the bend you’re faced with the first straightaway. This is where you fly. This is where you stretch your legs and pull ahead. Due to the distance between there and the stands, it looks as though you really are flying along the back stretch. But too quickly are you faced with the dreaded final bend. Where leaders become second as fighters know how to push through the pain and conquer the curve. This is where you pump your arms to drive your knees. This is where you hear your coach yelling, “Keep pushing! Get those knees up! Go! Go! Go!” As the curve straightens, you look forward with your head high and all you see is the finish line. You see 100 meters, and a yellow ribbon begging to be broken. You see 328 feet and the opportunity to be a hero. So you set your eyes on the trees just beyond the finish line, you muster up every ounce of energy you have left, and you sprint towards them. Your feet barely touch the ground and your toes are pointed high.  Regardless of how tired you are or how much your lungs hurt or how you can’t feel your legs anymore, you keep going. You lean and practically fall across the finish line. But you keep going, your eyes are still fixed on the branches of the trees. You slow down, catch your breath, feel a wave of relief come over you. It’s finally over now.

When we were younger A, L, and I spent many of our summer days training with their dad at the Y-High track. He would give us drills and make us work and sweat and laugh in the sun. He built our endurance to pain and strengthened our work ethic while shouting words of encouragement. And afterwards always took us out to eat. Those were some of my favorite summers.

I was born a runner. I have run my entire life. It is familiar and safe and consistent. It was the only thing I knew how to do when I lost my dad. It was the only thing I knew how to do when I saw L laying in her casket. It had been almost 6 months since I had my last panic attack. I was doing so well. But when I saw her, lying there, I lost it. The most wild, crazy, lively girl I had ever known, the girl with the fire burning inside of her since the day she was born was just laying there. I had never seen her so still, so quiet, and it quite honestly petrified me. At first I froze. I could feel my heart breaking as I tried to catch my breath. I didn’t know what else to do, so I ran. My breathing was quick and my heels were too tall but I knew I had to get away from this version of her I didn’t want to know. It is so much easier to think of the ones you lose as gone. It is easier to never see their faces after they die. It is so much easier to pretend that they are just lost and not dead. Dead is too permanent. Dead is too unknown. And the unknown is absolutely terrifying. So I ran. I ran to the back of the chapel. Every muscle in my body was telling me to open the door and run outside. To shred my shoes and start sprinting down the unfamiliar streets of Birmingham until I was lost as well.

But this wasn’t about me. This wasn’t about my dad. This was about her and the broken family she left behind. The broken family that I love as my own. So regardless of whether I wanted to literally run from my problems, disappear from that room of sorrow, I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave them behind to accept the loss alone. So I sat in the back of the chapel and I tried to breathe. I tried to accept that she is really dead. She is not just gone. She is not just lost. She is dead. The beautiful, cunning little sister is no longer alive. I tried to accept this until her dad came and found me. We hugged for a long time and then he said to me, “Come be with us. We should be together.”

He was right. Every instinct I had was telling me to escape, fly away, run. But as Virginia Woolf once said,

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

So you stay and you fight. You fight through the bad days. You fight through the pain of remember that she isn’t going to come back. You struggle through the days where you feel nothing at all. But if you surround yourself with love, it is so much easier to fight together.

 

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