Category Archives: Uncategorized

Finding That Fine Line

Remember how I wrote a few weeks back about my grand scheme to complete the wellness challenge from work and collect my $$….even though I was starting late. Like really really late?

Well….way too ambitious goal.

But a very familiar pattern.

I have a hard time finding that sweet spot between setting an ambitious goal and doing something that is reasonably achievable.  I believe in aiming high. I am the definition of gung-ho. But then reality sets in and all I end up accomplishing is exhaustion.

I realize that more important that doing something extraordinary is doing something consistently.

How do I find that middle-of-the road spot where I’m challenged and stretching but not setting myself up for failure and disappointment? Help!

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Be Where Your Feet Are

feet

One of my favorite features on facebook is the “on this day” in history feature. You know–its the one that reminds you of what you posted on the same date in years gone by.  Last week, I had a quote that I had posted last year show up and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  The quote is:

“I remind myself to ‘be where my feet are’ often. My mind tends to drift toward the future, sometimes planning or worrying about what lies ahead, missing the present. Being present is where life is the most rich and colorful. I’ve even found myself consciously feeling the soles of my feet on the ground to get myself there.” —-Artist, Cassandra Barney

It seems that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about being in the present. Part of that stems from simply having so many things that I want to do, learn, or need to get done. It is habitual for me to be thinking about the next thing or planning for what I need to do tomorrow. Part of the time I’m remembering things from the past–particularly mistakes or things I wish I had done differently.  Often, I trade this convenience for being fully present in the now. Lately I’ve been rethinking all things related to how much time I spend in the past and in the future. There are benefits to both as long as the time is moderate and as long as they aren’t a replacement for being in the present.

There are circumstances in my life that bring this home and make it very real for me. I have a loved one who has dementia and I never know whether or not she will know who I am–which makes me know and understand the importance of being really present in the moment. We can be having a fabulous conversation–one where I think that it seems like two years ago when I was less aware of her memory lapses–and then suddenly she fades away and I’m left wishing that I had given her my full attention when she–the real her–was really there. Even when “the real her” isn’t there, it is so important for me to be present with her in the moment now. I don’t want to regret not taking advantage of these times together because I know they won’t last.

And this isn’t the only situation wherein I feel the urgency to be present. Fifteen months ago it seemed like things were moving along at a pretty good clip for me and my family. However, looking back over the past 15 months, I can see that they have been among the most trying of my life and the lives of my family members.  We were just starting to see consistent memory and cognitive decline in the family member I mentioned earlier. Since that time, my youngest brother was diagnosed with and undergone treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my uncle passed away, and the formerly mentioned family member underwent multiple surgeries for a hip replacement, throwing her declining memory off the cliff. It’s been a rough year. I’ve been so much more aware of how fleeting our lives our. The status quo can change at any time.

This afternoon I found myself sitting in my car, crying. I had just read the sweetest facebook post from my youngest brother to his wife wishing her a happy anniversary and explaining how he wouldn’t have been able to make it through the trials of this past year without her by his side. Even now, writing this, I’m crying–mostly because I haven’t really allowed myself to cry a whole lot over the past fifteen months. I was too concerned with getting to the next thing.I didn’t want to take time to really let it all sink in because I was afraid that once the flood gates were open I wouldn’t be able to get them closed again.

So even though it was uncomfortable and I felt a bit silly, I let myself sit there in that car in the parking terrace and sob for a few minutes. I allowed myself to just be there in the moment. With myself. With my grief. With my gratitude. And cry.

I’m glad I did. I’m hopeful that I will take advantage of opportunities I have to forget yesterday for a few minutes, not worry about tomorrow, put down my smart phone and just be with the people and the things that are with me in the here and now.

When I’m Old and Grey

Last week I bit the bullet and met with a retirement counselor from the pension plan that my employer pays into. It’s not that I plan on retiring right away…..it’s just that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’m all “middle-aged” and such and thought it would probably be a good idea to find out what my options are.

I am happy to say that I have options. Unless something goes totally off the rails, I should be pretty well taken care of in my old age (thanks to having started my retirement funding at age 20).  Given the length of time working for this employer, my options are attractive.

This has me thinking a lot about the budgeting/debt-reducing changes that I want to make with my life. I have some serious debt as I’ve mentioned before. This visit to the retirement counselor has me even more focused on paying off that debt, having a paid for residence, and having some $$ socked away in savings.  It also has me thinking about some of my hobbies and talents and how I might possibly be able to spend more time doing some things I love in a way that would provide me with a bit of additional income for debt repayment or paying off the house or traveling the world or sharing the wealth with causes that have meaning to me.

I am excited. It is looking like life really does begin in the middle.

Wellness Matters

I have a great job. I enjoy my work a lot. I must. I’ve been employed by the same employer for 27.5 years. One of the things I like about working where I do is that I have fabulous benefits. My employer really invests in providing employees and their families with good and reasonably priced health care, a reduced-price education program, on-site wellness programs and many other benefits.

In recent years, they have had a wellness program in place that requires some health and wellness markers be met and when they are a monetary reward is earned. I didn’t participate last year. This year as the time rolled around for sign up in the wellness program, I contemplated whether or not I should participate. It is just challenging enough to be meaningful, but reasonable if one gets in and participates on a consistent basis.

But I know myself. How many times have I started something with great aspirations, knowing full-well that it was an unrealistic target for me? And how many times when that happened have I used it as evidence that I am inadequate? The answer is many.

I considered the requirements and my fitness goals and decided to sign up. Shortly thereafter the band for my fitness tracker broke. I set it aside thinking that I’d get it fixed or buy a replacement soon. It never happened. Earlier this week I had a moment where I realized that I was letting myself down. I was setting myself up to beat myself up later. Its a familiar pattern and one that I would like to overcome.

It will be a rough uphill battle, but I ordered a replacement band for my fitness tracker and I’m going to do my best to meet this goal.  Here is what I need to do:

    • Walk at least 600,000 steps. Steps must be tracked using fitbit, pedometer or any other tracking device.
    • Complete a confidential general health assessment on my health insurance provider’s website.
    • Earn at least 100 points in each of three different categories.
      • Live Well–This category includes activities designed to get you moving such as attending exercise classes. This category also emphasizes the importance of seeking appropriate healthcare such as your age appropriate health screenings.
        • My choice for this category:  Attend the Employee Wellness Center, or any local gym, community center or rec. center 24 times between September 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016. For non-employer facilities please submit an attendance log from your gym. Most gyms will gladly print this out at the front desk.
      • Work Well–This category includes activities that are designed to help you become a more balanced and productive employee. Stress management videos and financial management consultations are examples of activities in the Work Well category.
        • Meet with your financial advisor to discuss your financial future. Financial advisor can be from any institution that you choose. You do not have to meet with the advisors available through the USU benefits program. (I already did this–just today–future post on this in the future.)
      • Be Well–This category emphasizes the importance of being well-adjusted and balanced individual. This category emphasizes the importance of building solid positive relationships and enjoying your time with others. Service and giving back are also important elements of the Be Well category.
        • Getting enough sleep does wonders not only for our physical health but also our mental health. Try to average 7 hours of sleep for 3 weeks and feel the difference a little shut eye makes! Track your sleep via fitbit or other device or simply track using an excel sheet.

So there you have it. I have a lot of steps to walk in less that two months. It’s a huge goal. I’m not sure how possible it is, but I’m going to do my best reach it. Wish me luck.

Money Matters

I mentioned in my inaugural post that I’m in debt. I didn’t say how much, but I’ll come clean….its nearly $45K (not counting my house). Seriously–a ridiculous amount, especially when I make plenty for my needs. I’ve just not made being a good steward of my financial resources a priority.

One of my big “turn-my-life-around” goals is to get a handle on this, pay it off, save for emergencies and for retirement.

I’ve done a lot of research about different methods for approaching this situation. I’ve taken Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey a few times, but never made it a priority. I am recommitting. I already have Baby Step 1 conquered (savings of $1K). However, I have still been using my credit cards. I know myself. I know that it takes me time to really commit to something, so I’m not going to beat myself up about this. So here’s the plan:

  • I didn’t set up a November budget. This weekend I’ll go through my account and get a budget for the rest of the month completed.
  • I will go through all of my auto payments that are coming out of credit card and get them switched over to my debit card.
  • I have already set up an amortization schedule for all of my debt that includes information on the interest and set up an anticipated pay-off plan. If I pay minimums with an additional $200 per month, I can have this debt paid off in 3 years and 1 month.
  • I will start to identify areas where I can trim the budget and put more funds towards payment of debt so I can hopefully pay it off sooner.

I am really excited to move this up the priority chain. I’m meeting with a retirement counselor tomorrow–not with the anticipation of retiring soon, but with the anticipation of seeing what my retirement picture looks like right now in order to make a plan so that when my debts are paid off I can start saving more for retirement.

Do you have any great strategies for saving money? What are your biggest struggles surrounding money, debt or savings?

I like to read…

I like to read. I really do. But I’m not a good candidate for most book clubs. My preferred reading materials includes a novel here and there, but leans heavily toward books that would be considered self-help, non-fiction, or philosophy. I love thinking about ways to improve my life and I tend to pick out books that are considered more of a professional or personal development ilk.

I’ve recently discovered audio books. I love Audible! Its a bit of a mixed bag as I usually like to highlight and make notes in my books and that is hard to do when driving down the road. I’ve loved listening to something that makes me think while I’m driving, cleaning, cooking, etc.

Here’s just a sample of what I’ve read/listened to the past year:

  • The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie Norton
  • Start with Why, Simon Sinek
  • Rising Strong, Brene Brown
    • honestly, I’ve listened to this one 3 times
  • The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown
  • The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy
  • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhig
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Dale Carnegie
  • Retire Inspired, Chris Hogan
  • The Legacy Journey, Dave Ramsey
  • EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey
  • Eat That Frog!, Tracy
  • Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel Cruze
  • Currently working on: The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks

What have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations? I’m even open for a good novel.  In fact, a novel next would be a good change of pace.

 

Hey Good Lookin’–Whatcha Got Cookin’….

Look at what I got in the mail yesterday!!!!

cookbook

It is the new cookbook by Cathy Fisher of straightupfood.com. I am so excited and I can’t wait to try every single recipe in this book.  I might just have to do a Julie-and-Julia-type feature on this blog.

I met Cathy a few years ago when I was doing a water-only fast at True North Health Center. She did a weekly demonstration.  Although I only got to sample her food on the last week I was there, it was delicious.  I’ve tried several of the recipes on her blog and I have loved every one.

What do you think….would you like me to try some of them out and write about them?  Let me know.

 

Moving beyond the panic

Finding and settling on a name for this space (the blog, Life Begins in the Middle) mirrored what it often feels like to be in this space (mid-life).

When I first heard the title (thanks to my friend D’s fabulous suggestion) it spoke to me. Immediately I felt like this title and I were old friends and it adequately represented what I want this space to be—a journal about and proof of the fact that middle age can be the beginning of getting the life one wants, particularly if one has a lot of unfulfilled aspirations.

But then I wondered, does this title negate all of the good that has taken place in my life up to this point? Does it indicate ingratitude for the wealth of positives that have taken place thus far? How do I reconcile my gratitude for what has been while still yearning for something different, something better?

Sometimes I feel absolutely paralyzed by similar feelings when I’m thinking about my life. I think about my age and the things that I want in my life and on some level I wonder if wanting something different or something more shows a lack of gratitude for what has been. Does grieving the lack of a husband and family negate the amazing career that bloomed in its place?  I wonder if wanting to change so much about my life beginning now marginalizes my accomplishments in the first 48 years of my life.

I hope that anyone reading this will realize that I have a wonderful life.  It may not be quite what I want it to be, particularly in some areas, but there have been a lot of really good things. However, there are some holes that I have allowed to develop in spite of or instead of these other really good things that has left an ache in my heart and a desire to do more and be better than I am now.

I have to admit that I had a bit of a panic attack tonight thinking along these lines.  It happens occasionally.  I’ll be thinking about life and my plans for life and then have a sudden awareness and realization that I’m tired, that I’m no longer 28, and that my life is nothing like what I thought it would be when I dreamed about it. Realization that our time on earth is finite and with every passing day there is less time to accomplish all I want scares me. The thought that some of the desires of my heart are not physically possible anymore leaves me sad and wondering about the choices I have made and the trade-offs that I negotiated with my actions—whether I realized that Is what I was doing or not. And then I feel the fear…the fear that I won’t be able to turn things around—even in the areas where change is still possible–the fear that I’ve let things slide for too long and then before long that fear rolls into feeling guilty about wanting more and different than what is.

I don’t think it is wrong to want more and different.  I don’t believe that wanting different stems from or shows a lack of gratitude for what is. I think that figuring out what our divinely endowed gifts and talents are—even if it takes us away from  what we have conditioned ourselves to do an be for decades—can be anything but good. Becoming the best version of ourselves shows gratitude for what we have been given.  Being brave enough to step into our dreams, taking with us the experiences—all of the experiences that made us who we are today—shows a great deal of gratitude for what has been.

I don’t know for sure where things go from here.  I do know that I won’t be able to move forward and accomplish what I want if I keep allowing these feelings of doubt and guilt flood my mind and narrow my path.  I choose to step into the future with faith.

Reminders That I’m Fat (like I need them)

Hourly reminders tap me on the shoulder and point out that I’m not the fit and fabulous forty-something that I want to be. Whether it is my aching back or the beads of sweat that form on my brow every time I’m seated in a restaurant for fear that my belly won’t quite fit in the booth, I am reminded daily that I am a failure at fitness. I don’t like it, yet somehow I’ve come to accept this as just how things are.  At what point did I decide that perpetual embarrassment was where I wanted to live? When did that happen? When did I decide that it was ok to be uncomfortable 24/7? If you have spent any time at all on this side of an acceptable BMI you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it is uncomfortable and sometimes it is down-right painful.  And yet….I have let it become my reality….for years on end.

I’ve often heard that once a person hits forty the ease with which they maintain their health and physical fitness changes and becomes more difficult.  I thought that was a myth—but I’m here to tell you that there is some truth to that.  Things seem so much more difficult now than they did 10 years ago.

But, hey, forty is the new twenty, right? That means almost fifty must be the new not-quite-thirty. And I say—it’s never too late to be who you want to be. The past 30 years have been littered with moments of fitness awesome sauce amongst the stress, long work hours, depression, and self-doubt that built this current aching body and tired mind.

It’s time to turn things around.  Life begins in the middle and I’m determined that the second half of this life will be fit, healthy and fabulous!its-never-too-late-to-be-what

Life BEGINS in the MIDDLE!

Welcome to Life Begins in the Middle!  I’m migrating my other blog, Finding My Inner Athlete, over here, so all posts prior to today are from that and previous blogs. Never fear! I’m still looking for that inner athlete, but I’m expanding my areas of improvement to include lots of other things.

Why Life Begins in the Middle? Several years ago, my Dad made an off-handed comment about my being “middle-aged.”  I was incensed! I was outraged! How could he possibly think I was “middle-aged?”  So I asked him, “Why on earth would you call me middle-aged?” His reply was dry and very matter-of-fact, “Well, honey, how long do you think you will live?”

While he was probably right, I left the conversation still in denial.  I’m not middle-aged.  I’m barely aged at all.  However, time has moved along and lots of things have happened.  I now realize that he is right—or rather he was right and I’m much further advanced in my middle-agedness than I want to admit.

So, what does one do when they finally kick denial out and accept the fact that they are middle-aged? I don’t know about them, but I did an inventory of my life and I have to say, I’m not particularly happy with the outcome:

How I thought it would be:

How it is:

Married, Mother of at least three, Grandmother amazing Single, never married, no kids, no grandparent opportunities, haven’t even had a date in a bazillion years (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but decades would be pretty close to on-point)
Debt free, kickin’ retirement account and the ability to retire when I hit my 30-year anniversary at work Up to my eyeballs in debt, not quite where I need to be on the retirement savings scale, looking at another 15-years of working
Fit, athletic, healthy—running marathons, doing triathlons, hiking like a mountain goat—you get the picture Fat, sick, and so tired I could just cry 24/7.
Totally skilled in some awesome hobbies, like photography, cooking, wood working, etc. Half-assed skilled in all of these, but master of none

Now that the inventory is done, I have a couple of choices:  stick my head back in the sand, or turn things around.  I’m choosing to turn things around.  It’s never too late to be who you want to be.  I believe that!