The Power of Excercise

 

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Photo credit Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nfg/

 

I am having a love affair. Not with a person but with a fitness class. BodyCombat to be exact. I know this sounds completely ridiculous, but it has helped me through some difficult moments in my recent history.

The first time I went was back in March. I have not missed a class on a Saturday since. I’ve told people it is like a spiritual experience. I call it my church. On Saturdays, the class is lead by this wonderful, powerhouse of a woman named Melissa. She is feisty and motivational beyond her job as a trainer. BodyCombat is a mixed martial arts type class.

Here’s a short video to better explain it: BodyCombat 71

If you watch the video about 4 minutes in she says “You have to be mentally strong to fight through the fatigue.”

This could not be truer and taking this class has helped me become mentally and physically stronger. Now you are asking “Why the hell are you telling us this?” This class was the catalyst for the end of my last relationship. I was feeling unhappy and unappreciated. I was feeling taken for granted. This is a theme in my relationships. It was really difficult for me to realize that this again was happening. When I started taking combat I realized I was physically and mentally stronger than I thought I was. I realized that when I really put my mind to it I could truly accomplish anything. Even on bad days, I told myself that if I could make it through 60 minutes of combat, I could make it through anything. I realized that if I ended the relationship, I could, in fact, handle it.

There are these magical moments in BodyCombat, that happen usually the last few minutes of class. Now, I do not know if it is a Melissa thing or if a lot of combat instructors do this. She will tell you to stand with a partner or she’ll have us stand in a circle and finish strong together. When you look around the room and see everyone fighting through the same physical exhaustion and giving their all, it makes one get emotional. I have ended that class many a time with my heart full and feeling a little teary eyed. I’ve had goosebumps from the power that has flooded the gym room. This is why I call it my church.

Now, this isn’t a plug for BodyCombat, though I highly recommend it. No, this is just my personal experience and a realization of a mind-body connection that can happen when you workout. I highly recommend to anyone who is dealing with stress, anxiety, or self-doubt to find your exercise and find what moves you, physically and mentally. It can be a life changing experience.

When I was 19….

 

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photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dkalo/

 

This morning I was looking through Facebook’s “On this Day.” I always find it interesting to see what I was doing on Facebook in the past. One of the entries from 10 years ago was a Facebook “note” I had written, back before I was blogging or doing much writing at all. Below is that note:

I have just finished reading “Tuesdays with Morrie,” by Mitch Albom. I love his books and I have never read this one. I could never find it in the bookstore with the rest of his books but then I happened upon it in the “Inspirational” section and I now know why. I just read this quote and had this insane epiphany about my life especially since I don’t know what I’m doing or what I even want to do.

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they are chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

That is exactly it! That made me have to stop and make me write this. How true it is. I’ve spent the past year trying to think of majors that will make my mom happy, which majors will get me a job that pays the most. But why? It’s not going to make me happy. I’m a modest person, I do not need a lot of money to get by. I have been living modestly my whole life not having what everyone else had. If I got it I earned it myself, but it wasn’t that I necessarily needed it or even really wanted it. People think I’m “too happy,” is that even possible? Is it that they are too sad? I want to major in English writing and everyone keeps telling me not to “What are you going to do with that?” “Can you even get a job?” “If you get a job, will it even pay anything?” I don’t even care! I love writing and if I could develop my skills even further I’d be happy.

Also, to join the Peace Corps you have to have a college degree. That is what I want to do eventually. Everyone knows that I want to do that kind of thing with my life, but I’ve always been worried about what everyone thinks. I always thought “well you can’t make money doing that.” It’s not about gaining money it’s about gaining self.

People laugh cause I have high moral standards and lately I’ve been trying to convince people I don’t. Why? I do and that’s something I am proud of. That’s what makes me who I am. Which is why this quote from the book also struck me:

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

I’ve always tried to do that, but then people think that I’m ridiculous. There it is again me thinking too much about what others think. This is not something I can fix about myself overnight, but it certainly is something I can fix over time. I need to have faith in myself to be able to accomplish whatever it is I want to do. That is also something I need to work on with myself. Having the confidence to say that whatever I choose to do will be the right thing for me and if it isn’t then hey, I have time to figure out what that is.

A few things:

1.) I’m really glad I didn’t go the English major route. I mean I did, but it was K-6 Literacy Instruction. I still write and I definitely have gotten better over time, not because of schooling. I never would have imagined being published either. There is so much more I want to accomplish in my writing life and I have done this in tandem with teaching.

2.) Not going into a career with money…well I definitely did that. Be poor- goal accomplished! However, I am teaching and I do love it and I have a lot more goals in my life centered around education. Every year my passion for teaching grows and I learn more and more.

3.) Peace Corps- This was something I wanted so badly when I was younger. However, I have found my passion in education as well as helping people from around the world by working with various refugee resettlement programs. Though I wouldn’t mind teaching abroad some day.

4.) There is something written here that makes me really sad. I remember people telling me I was “too positive” “too innocent” that the world was going to harden me and make me cynical. I was sure it wouldn’t. For the most part, I feel like I have remained mostly the same person, but from time to time I do find myself being cynical and being a little hardened. Not as much as some people, but still more than I was. I’d like to find that eternal optimist again. She was a definitely a light in a dark world.

5.) My fear of what other people think has definitely been tapered. I am a lot less insecure, but I think that comes with age. I have a better sense of who I am and what life I am wanting to lead.

While my life didn’t turn out exactly like I was planning, I think it’s been pretty great so far and there is so much more to accomplish! I have amazing people in my life who support all of my current aspirations. I’m in love with this beautiful mess of a life and am so grateful for every moment of it. The ups and the downs have definitely made it what it is right now and have made me into the person I am. The person I am is ever growing and changing and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years create.

Advice on Love and Relationships from Strangers

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At the end of my last relationship, in one of my exes and my conversations, I stated: “I need a man, someone who is ready to be a grown-up.” I feel comfortable sharing this because he completely agreed with me that he had some growing to do and that he wasn’t ready for the settled down life I wanted.

I thought about this moment last weekend and realized and former friend had been correct (If you still read this, former friend, you were right). He told me one night as we were drinking wine and talking about dating as we typically did, that I tend to date “boys not men” and that was the majority of my relationship issues. I did not think much about that at the time. I didn’t even really know what he meant. I think it just clicked, more than a year after he said it.

I read a Maya Angelou quote that really stuck with me:

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I have a terrible habit of ignoring the red flags and thinking they are things that can be “fixed,” which should never be someone’s first thought. It should never be a thought at all. You either can work with that “flaw” or it’s a deal breaker. I also have a horrible habit of making excuses for other people’s bad behavior.

I kept thinking about conversations with that old friend and actually reflecting on them. So, I decided to pose this question to friends (in wine induced conversations), friends on social media, strangers, etc. “If you could give your past self advice on relationships, what would it be?” Here are some of those responses:

“Just go with your gut. The whole follow your heart thing is fine and all… but do not follow it through a forest of red flags and over a deal-breaker cliff” (This was by far my favorite).

“Well, I read something that stuck with me. Love is a choice. It’s a choice that both you and your partner make to choose to love one another and work at it every day because you can’t picture your life without them. Despite their flaws, despite the struggles. Never lose yourself in the process, but always work on being a better person than you were yesterday for them and for you. When you lose that desire to choose love, you are choosing another path and perhaps maybe that is your gut telling you this is not the right person. Regardless, it is always a choice and must be met on both ends for a successful relationship to continue strong. We run into the flaw of always questioning ourselves, doubting our decisions, wondering if you are choosing the right person. Having doubt can only lead to an end. Relinquish this doubt, this questioning. You either give it your all or don’t give it at all.”

“Never accept less.”

“It’s either hell yes or hell no. No in-between. Don’t do anything halfhearted.” 

“No one is worth losing yourself over.”

“Give chances and take risks.” 

“Don’t compromise on things you need. It’s not a compromise if you aren’t getting your needs met.” 

“Don’t date who you think you deserve, date someone you actually deserve.”

“Don’t date down, love yourself first, then date someone truly amazing.” 

 

I feel there is a theme throughout all this advice: love and trust you.

I’d love to hear more thoughts on this topic. Feel free to comment below with your advice.

Boxing and Bluegrass

It’s been 2 weeks since I posted my Year of Single bucket list. So far I have a knocked two items off my bucket list.

1.) Try boxing

23.) Attend a concert of someone I’ve never heard of. 

 

Boxing

I have taken on 2 different kinds of classes. Body combat and standard boxing with a bag. Both have taught me a number of things.

1.) Your mind will try to make you want to quit so much. There was one class a few days ago that I felt myself want to cry after the 7th round of burpees and jabs. I just wanted to quit. I considered walking out of the class several times. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

2.) I’m way stronger than I think I am. 45 minutes in when your trainer asks you to do 15 push-ups and all you want to do is cry and lay down on the mat, it is amazing what strength comes from pure determination.

3.)Boxing sore is the sorest you will ever be. I punched a bag for 45 minutes…with my arms. Why is my whole damn body sore?

Attending a concert of someone I’ve never heard of 


I went out with three of my amazing friends to a bluegrass concert a few weekends ago. Apparently they were famous people from other bands? Not entirely sure on that. It was a lot of fun! We drank, we danced and one of my friends and I met some lady in the bathroom and talked to her for a very long time. Not sure how long, but it felt like a long time. We definitely spent a long time with this woman showing pictures of our pets to each other.

Mainly, what I learned from this experience is that I have an amazing group of girlfriends whom I love to spend time with and be silly with.

I’m excited to do something else from my bucket list…what should it be next?

 

The Year of Single- Bucket List

After deciding that I was going to stay single for a while and focus on me, I decided I want to make a bucket list. Now my bucket list I’m keeping at 30 items (I’m also turning 30 in January so 30 before 30). I’m not going to beat myself up if I do not accomplish everything on my list, it’s just guidance for me to step outside my comfort zone. I was getting stuck around 25 items so I reached out to the wonderful Wild Soul Women Tribe to get some ideas. It definitely helped me revise my list. Here is the current final draft, it is of course subject to change as I change. One item, boxing, got checked off my list today! I’m so sore…so sore.

Bucket List:

1.) Try boxing- did this today and will continue doing this. I loved it and yet, I think I will be cursing it come tomorrow morning.

2.) Try rock climbing- This has been a bucket list item since I was in high school and I have never done it. I think it is time.

3.) Try various forms of dance that I haven’t. I have a dance background but have never ventured into salsa dancing, ballroom dancing, etc.

4.) Go on a trip out of the country- This may be difficult because of finances and my next bucket list item, but I’m going to try,

5.) Buy my own condo/townhouse- two break-ups in the same room, in the same house is too damn many. It’s tainted. I need a fresh place.

6.) Spend a weekend in a state I have never visited. Open to suggestions on this.

7.) Meditate daily. I used to be good about this… I stopped and I desperately need it.

8.) Join a meet-up group…and actually go. Meeting new people gives me anxiety. Going some place where I don’t know a single person makes me want to throw-up. However, I’m trying to expand my comfort zone and this is one of those things.

9.) Try snowshoeing- At this point I know I’ll have to wait until next winter, but I’m ok with that.

10.) Spend a weekend camping. Generally this is frowned upon in my book. I think a weekend in nature might be good for me.

11.) Take a cake decorating class- Everyone knows I make yummy things, but I want to make yummy, pretty things.

12.) Work on my vegetarian cooking. The goal is to be completely vegetarian by the end of the year.

13.) Learn to cook Indian food. I love it, it’s my absolute favorite. I want to be able to make it.

14.) Read 50 books. Just because…

15.) Go to a movie alone. I’m almost  30 and never done it.

16.) Go to a museum alone. A practice in enjoying my own company.

17.) Submit 5 stories/articles for publication, even if they all get rejected. 

18.) Try a new restaurant…alone. 

19.)Hike a 14er. As a Colorado native, I feel my “native card” is about to be revoked, because I have never done this. Something easy. Don’t get crazy.

20.) Continue to work on the various novels I’ve started. Maybe pick one and, you know, stick with it.

21.) Go see a play or musical. I haven’t done that in awhile, I miss it.

22.) Try an improv or acting class. This terrifies me, so I should probably do it.

23.) Attend a concert of someone I’ve never heard of. 

24.) Learn to sew. I just want to…no explanation needed.

25.) Draft a children’s book. 

26.) Spend time with people who are outside my social circle. I often get invitations to hang out with people who I normally don’t  spend time with. Often, I do not make  time for those people. I would like to.

27.) Clear the clutter.  A spring/summer purge is necessary. Out with the old.

28.) Refurbish more stuff. I’m in love with taking old furniture and giving it new life. I want more of that in my life.

29.) Have a patio herb garden. I used to and I want one again.

30.) Practice listening more than talking. I’m a teacher, I could literally talk all day.

Those are my top 30, though I’m open to more suggestions! If you want to help with any of these items or have items to add let me know!

 

 

I’m published!!


Not a fancy title. Not a profound statement. Just the simple, insanely exciting truth. I. Am. Published.

How did this happen? Well, one day I was searching the internet for places that pay you to write. I wanted to put myself out there. I had never submitted any writing to be published, but I wanted to try.  I came across the Chicken Soup for the Soul website and saw they had a book coming out about teachers. My thought process went as follows:

“Hey I’m a teacher… I have a story in my head that hasn’t ever been written down about the student who saved me from quitting teaching….I should write that right now…I’m submitting that.”

That’s what I did. I sat down, I wrote my story and I submitted it. I submitted it and forgot about it. Again, this was my first time submitting anything to be published so I wasn’t expecting much.

Then I got an e-mail a few months later saying my story was in the running to be published. I was shocked. Then a few weeks later I got another e-mail asking me to sign for permission to use my story and write an author bio. Then I got another e-mail telling me I was officially being published.

Last night, I got my copies of the book. It became so real. Yes, I’m calling it my book even though there are a bunch of contributors. It’s our book. However, in my head it’s MY book.

Growth After Break-Ups

 

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Recently, I experienced a very painful break-up. Yes, I initiated the break- up and yes, it was for the right reason. Yes, I questioned myself every single day. It sucked. I cried a lot, I lost a lot of sleep. However, almost a month later I’m starting to see the things I was meant to learn during this relationship and break-up.

1.) I have my own shit to work on. I’m not always the best communicator. I can be a little too passive. I do not always say what I want/need and then I get annoyed when that want/need isn’t met. I have my anxieties that can be grating on a person. I have shit to work on.

2.) I know what kind of person I want to be with in the future.  

3.) I’m committing time to dating myself. I want to spend time with me. I want to take all the energy I put into maintaining a relationship with  someone else and put it into things I love.  I want to cultivate better relationships with my amazing friends.

4.) I think we all struggle with being “too” for some people in our lives.

Too caring

Too anxious

Too stressed

Too needy

Too loving

Too emotional

Too happy

Too sad

Too positive

Too negative

Too much

 

However, I want to be okay with all my “toos” and eventually meet someone who loves my “toos” and who has “toos” I love.

Every break-up should be a learning experience. Every relationship is always better than the last, until you find  the right one. I’m excited for my year of singledom adventure and I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it soon.

Love, love, love.

 

Confession: I Enjoy Going to Work

I feel I am rather blessed with this fact. There have only been a few points in my life when I have woken up and dreaded going to work (all of those occurrences when I was in retail and hospitality). Those were also signs to me that I needed out of those jobs. Now, don’t get me wrong I have rough days that I want to end and rough weeks (like this one) that I need to be over, but I still get out of bed everyday ready for work.

Sometimes, I play the “only one more day until Friday,” card with the rest of my colleagues and sometimes I am genuinely glad it’s Friday and I need a couple of days off. I am a teacher, some of my weeks get real long real quick. However, I’m in love with teaching and in love with my work. I find it difficult to be around those who are not in love with their work and spend their life looking for the weekend. It is especially difficult for me to be around those people in the teaching world. If you d not love teaching GET OUT NOW, you’re only doing a disservice to the children around you.

Do I love Spring Break? Yes, especially now when 5th graders turn into wild animals. Do I love Summer Break? Hell yes! I need those breaks to e good at my job. Truth be told about a month into summer I get bored and miss being around kids.

There are the mundane parts of my job I do not love (grading and staff meetings) I have my gripes with people I work with on occasion, but I am human. I realize I am extremely fortunate and I hope everyone finds that sweet spot some day, where work isn’t a “have to” but a “get to.”

Other side note: I have a short story being published! It will be in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers coming out April 18th! Be sure to check it out! 

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