CLOSED

Dear Strong Woman,

This office is CLOSED.

I’ve had to get super intentional with setting boundaries lately. I’ve been dissecting some feelings around overwhelm and realize that this stems from what I allow to happen.

So I’m taking back my power.

The old story tells me I can’t achieve my goals and also be well-rested. The old story tells me there must be sacrifice.  As someone who tends to listen for what others need so as to feel valued and important by providing it, it’s automatic that the sacrifice comes in the form of self.  So when I see a blank space on my calendar I take that to mean I’m available to assist others.  Though am I really?

Case in point: writing this post in this very moment.  This writing session was something I planned to do because I saw a blank space on my calendar.  However, this blank space is coming after just completing an intense two days of training that stretched my mind, heart, and soul. Yes, I currently have the time to write, but do I have the mental capacity to create? Am I of any service to anyone right now if I’m having trouble thinking straight?

(rhetorical)

I let go of the thing I wanted to write about for you and went back into “the vault” in search of something I created in the past that might resonate.  I did this with you in mind (oh hey, old patterns), and then found this whole bit around knowing when to log off and power down. I read it and it hit me like a love note from myself to myself.  Funny how that happens!

So this whole post is actually a reminder from a former me – with a few added words from present me – encouraging you (okay, AND me) to declare a quitting time in service of creating space for yourself.   

Regardless of what isn’t finished, and regardless of what you said would get done – IT WILL BE OKAY. So far, the world hasn’t come to an end (like I always thought it would).

Givers need to set limits, because takers rarely do, and takers do this because you’ve taught them that it’s okay!

Your time and energy are sacred, friends.  Log off. Lights out. Rest up.

HAPPINESS

Dear Strong Woman,

Happiness is the highest level of success.

I have been learning that there is a very fine line where doing things in the name of self-care can actually negate self-care. I’ve also been learning that, as much as I go through seasons with my own health journey, the self-care necessary around that changes, too.

I am in a season change.

The freedom that came with the structure of following a program was starting to feel…suffocating. I started procrastinating on workouts, only to only do half of it when I finally pushed play. I wasn’t feeling it. I hadn’t been for a while. Things felt…off. I needed…space.

This close to the end of a program and I can’t push it through to the end? I lead a group of women in practicing self-care daily and I can’t do it for myself?

False. I still am.

Self-care comes in many forms, and the forms of self-care we need changes as our needs change. My needs changed…and that‘s okay.

I gave myself grace and did what I needed to do to feel like myself again. Isn’t THAT the point of self-care anyway? To re-calibrate you? To help you be your best self? My form of self-care had become a to-do list that I did out of a sense of duty rather than desire. That’s one of those things people hate in relationships, right? When someone does something for you because they feel like they have to, not because they want to?

Funny, it feels the same way in the relationship you have with yourself.

My form of self-care was no longer feeling like self-care, so I had to adjust.

I’m still working out, but maybe not everyday.

I’m still eating right, but maybe not all day.

But I’m writing more. I’m reading books outside of the realm of self-help and business development. (The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is riveting, by the way.) I’m more present in the moment rather than worrying about checking off everything on my list.

I’m more relaxed.

I’m more…me.

You might think I’m lazy. You might think that this whole “be gentle with yourself…honor the space you’re in” stuff is just a pretty way to disguise my excuses. Hey, you might even be right!

But focusing on what is right or wrong doesn’t always translate to what makes you happy.

And I deserve happy.

Don’t you?

HELP (Not Obviously) WANTED

Dear Strong Woman,

You are not alone.

ONE WOMAN SHOW

I fought with a clogged sink for four hours last night before giving up. It was obvious after a few minutes that the mess needed a professional, but I persisted until my hands were raw from trying to plunge the damn thing. I went to bed feeling defeated for not being able to fix it, and angry for not walking away from it sooner, letting it define my Saturday night.
 
It’s a small example, but it’s fitting. I’ve always been one to do things on my own. Maybe it’s an oldest-child thing. Maybe it’s a trust thing. Growing up, I was the girl who told my group not to worry about it, do the whole project, and put their names on it. (It was just easier that way, right?)
 
But I later developed into the girl who would say yes to every social event on the calendar rather than stay at home and work on the relationship with herself; the girl who dug herself into such a financial rut that she refused to say the amount of debt she had out loud; the girl who said yes to everything work-related, only to call my mother crying, telling her I was never going to have children because I would just never be able to take off time from work.
 
I wanted to be seen as capable, and I didn’t want to burden anyone with something that was put on my plate, voluntarily or otherwise.
 

HELP WANTED

When health and fitness fell into my life, things changed. As a former low-carb, non-fat, I’ve-tried-them-all yo-yo dieter, actually doing the work wasn’t an easy shift to make…but what kept me going was the fact that I was part of a community where it was commonplace for others to reach out and ask for help. It was encouraged. It was a safe place. Real women with real struggles – my struggles even! – owning their struggles in an effort to make significant changes in their lives.
 
It wasn’t easy, but I learned how to reach out, too. The lessons I learned in learning on my #fitfam continue to transfer to other areas on my life: I let others take some things off my plate (for once); I got on the right track with paying down my debt; I sought counseling for family issues dating back decades. I learned to work on myself, for myself, but not necessarily by myself…
 
…and that was okay.
 
I preach so much about how strength is found is admitting when you’re weak. Know that I do that because I need to hear it, too. I know it sounds silly, but that damn clogged sink is a small example of how this is still work-in-progress for me.
 
Wherever you are on your journey, friends…
 
Be strong enough to stand alone,
smart enough to know when you need help,
and brave enough to ask for it.
 
If I can help in any way, don’t hesitate to (put down the damn plunger and) reach out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWEAT

Dear Strong Woman,
I have found a special substance that, if you cover yourself with it consistently, will drastically change your body and, more importantly, your mood.

It’s a bit of an artisan blend…uniquely made in conjunction with the individual it is meant to serve.

Thought, fair warning…it may smell a little, and burn your eyes if you’re not careful.
So…do you want to know what it is?

HINT

I’m in a major state of self-reflection.  It amazes me how one decision can completely alter the course of your life.
So much of the time, we let life happen TO us.  We complain about things out of our control, letting them shake us to the core, suck the joy, and blind us from the many, many blessings surrounding us.

But there comes a point where we have to change the story and recognize that life happens FOR us, not to us.  That we have the power to focus on what we CAN control, and let our energies flow in a direction that is purposeful rather than pointless.

For me, the girl that walked the mile run in middle school and ate cookie dough for dinner on the regular, that control came from taking on a more healthy lifestyle.

To keep this brief, let me say that I’ve had a roller coaster, love-hate relationship with my health that is worthy of whiplash, made up of everything from binge eating and baggy sweatpants to low-carb dieting and very low-self esteem.
Barely staying afloat in an endless sea of to-do lists, there came a point where feeling out-of-control on a regular basis took me to a fork in the road: wish for a lighter load, or do the work to build a stronger back.
I decided to do the latter, and I decided to do it in the literal sense – with a lot of sweat.

IT CHANGES YOU

Duh, right? Of course fitness changes you.  It slims you down, it tones you up, and sculpts here, and it chisels there. That’s all true.

But, the real transformation is internal.  The real transformation is the one you can’t see.

As I sit here and reflect on who I was a year ago (left) and who I am now (right) – significantly lighter in mind as well as body – I am more thrilled with what I’ve gained rather than what I’ve lost.

More energy.
More happiness.
More mindfulness.
More determination.
More appreciation.
More perspective.
More confidence.
More calm.

And the list keeps growing.


WHY

Perhaps the reason why it took me so long to commit to this – to train the quit out of me – has to do with my previous limiting beliefs about diet and exercise. But what I always considered to be a form of punishment, was actually an important lesson in loving myself.

Not a diet, a way of life.
Not for him, them, or anyone else but ME.
Not for a day, but for every day.
Not to feel good in a dress, but to feel good in my own skin.
Not for a beach-ready photo, but for my mind.

Not for a competition, but for THE competition I have created for myself, by myself, to become a better version of myself.
Every.
Damn.
Day.

In a time when the glorification of being busy is the latest trend, just the act of choosing to put yourself first is a bit of a rebellious act.

But every time you do, you become stronger, more resilient, and a better you.  It isn’t the external results that keep you showing up, but the on-top-of-this-world feeling you get from making yourself proud.

Your life will only get better if you do, babe.

Work on yourself.

The rest will follow.

YOU ARE NOT A DOG

Dear Strong Woman,

Respect yourself and the (FREAKING UNREAL) amount of work you do, and give your body what it NEEDS.

Stop looking at food as a crutch. Whatever the problem is, the answer is not in the fridge.

Stop looking at food as a reward. #youarenotadog

I don’t want you to deprive yourself, because listen – this girl right here has an intense love affair with ice cream. But there was also a (dark) time (not too long ago) when I was (super) stressed and ate (peanut butter cookie dough on the regular) to deal. What did I learn?

When you eat like crap, you feel like crap.

But please hear me: DONE are the days of dieting. (Like for real. STRONG is the new skinny, loves.) That’s NOT what I’m pushing here. I just want to encourage you to be mindful of what you’re putting in that beautiful, talented, hard-working, hustling-machine of yours and look at food as FUEL…not therapy.

Eating well is a form of self-respect, so maybe we should eat like we give a damn about ourselves, yeah? Everything you put in your body either fights disease or feeds it, so try eating less from a box and more from the earth…and see how you feel!

As the weekend draws near (yes, it didn’t forget about you) and brings it’s best friends (Fall-Off-The-Wagon, #YOLO, and I-Earned-This), remember that a healthy outside always starts from within.

Everything in moderation.

(Except avocado.)