choice

“The warrior who trusts his path doesn’t need to prove the other is wrong.” – Paulo Coelho

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I’ve been thinking a lot about choices.  Specifically, that what it all really boils down to is CHOICE.  We each make choices every. single. day. about how to do the next right thing.  For me, this is what it means to be a grown-up.  For a while there, in my “grown-up” years, I behaved like a child.  I did not consider choice or even accept the fact that I had one.  I let life happen to me and blamed external factors when everything went to shit.  I whined like a child and stomped my feet, demanding attention.  And then I was baffled and hurt when people treated me poorly.  I lacked any form of self-awareness.  To be fair, I believe that in those times, I was so engulfed in sadness, regret and fear that my eyes were not focused enough to see beyond the messes I had created.  To me, choice was a luxury buried in shame.

Thankfully, I now know that I have a choice.  Many choices, in fact! Every damn day.

At first, having choices is overwhelming.  It can be easier (in a sick kind of way) to passively say: “OH WELL – it is what it is – nuthin’ I can do about it!” and just let life pummel you and mold you into someone you hardly recognize anymore.

I used to operate on this theory: Making choices = chance of failure.  Failure = end of the world. Following that logic, it is safer to remain stagnant or remain a victim.

The other part of my genius theory was: Making a choice inevitably = making someone mad. Making someone mad = end of the world.

Again, following that way of thinking leads to immobility & never ever growing up.

When I think about my choices these days, I prefer to allow myself the freedom and autonomy of a healthy adult woman & ask myself: “What’s your truth, Erin?”  Sometimes it takes a loooooooooong time and a lot of hand-wringing (or running or writing or talking) to get to that truth.  Sometimes it takes a few tries.  Sometimes I bomb, drop the ball, screw up and make a mistake.

Is that the end of the world?  No.  Is everyone mad at me? Probably not.  They are too busy making their own damn choices! :)

Brave-Kind

-Glennon Melton

Why am I thinking so much about choices these days?  Perhaps it’s partially due to the 14 yr old I live with…watching my son grow up and explore his interests, expand his comfort zone, define himself…It is pretty mind-blowing.  Really – Sometimes I just sit in awe of him:  “How is he so dang comfortable in his own skin?”  Whose kid is that?? I was SO not like that at his age.  He is really inspiring to me. This is the magical aspect of parenting that I find so fascinating: LEARNING FROM OUR KIDS. Love that.

Also, it is partially due to a shift I feel in my attitude towards POSSIBILITIES.  What is possible, REALLY?  As I look around me, I see that a LOT is possible.  Even for 40-something single mamas like me who must work full-time, solo parent, juggle all the balls.  Yeah I have my limitations but I also have possibilities. What I choose to do with them is up to me.

Running-wise, I am tired of stagnation.  I have big goals in this department and in order to reach those buggers I need to start small.  (remember how I’m not good at moderation!? starting small is hard for me!) I need a plan.  I have a plan!

Here is what I have found works for me:

  • Plunking down $$ for a goal race. (still working on this choice!) Once my money is on something, it matters more.
  • Writing down my daily workouts, a week in advance.  Sticking to this AS MUCH AS I CAN. This plan MUST include speedwork. *not my strength*
  • Running some of my runs with friends.  I love the camaraderie and run talk-therapy is priceless.
  • Adding in 3x per week strength/yoga/core.  Helps my running exponentially.
  • Last & most importantly: nutrition.  Here’s the rub:  I know what my best “running weight” is and I am not at it.  Why?  I 100% attribute it to a lack of mindful eating.  As someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past, I am not the biggest fan of diets, deprivation, counting calories, etc.  Those methods feel oppressive and tend to backfire. (they may work beautifully for others, but not me)  For many years I have managed to maintain a healthy weight by eating what I would say is a pretty crappy diet.  Really it was probably 75% fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein (all good) and 25% pure sugar & coffee. (notsogood)  This pattern has caught up with me and I am (finally) saying GOOD RIDDANCE.  I am using Purium products to kick my sugar habit to the curb and attempt to get my poor sluggish metabolism back on track.  The extra special bonus benefits of doing so have been amazing and keep me motivated.  (better sleep, even mood, clearing up of my life-long eczema, sharper focus).

Every single one of those 5 points up there are CHOICES! woo-hoo! Meaning: daily opportunities to DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING….or, daily opportunities to screw up, notice the screw up, note it, learn from it, and get the hell on with my day.

There is a freedom in establishing goals and making them known.  It can be scary to say them out loud while fully aware that what works for me may not work for you…and that’s OKAY. By sharing, I firmly believe we gain a greater appreciation for each other & for ourselves.  A recognition that we are each fantastically unique and at the same time basically not so different at all.

worry

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.” – Brene Brown

I tend to worry like it’s my job.  I remember my childhood as a permanent state of hyper-vigilance.  I guess I grew up thinking it was just safer and smarter to be this way.  I felt protected by my cozy blanket of pessimism.  “Nothing can hurt me because I am already prepared for the very worst.”

I think a good chunk of this approach to life simply has to do with my make-up.  I struggle with depression and anxiety. I am a realist and a pragmatist at heart.  I bring a heavy dose of skepticism to the table.

Recently, I have started questioning this part of myself; wondering if maybe I am missing out by approaching all situations with a furrowed brow and a checklist of hard questions.

I am engaged to a man who happens to be one of the most optimistic people I have ever known.  I sit in awe sometimes at his laissez-faire attitude; his lack of worry.  (and yes sometimes it drives me batty!) I used to wonder if it meant I need to double-up and worry enough for the both of us.  Thankfully, I am learning that, no, he is a big boy and doesn’t need my extra freakouts…

I’ve long thought it slightly irresponsible to be overly sunny and optimistic.  I mean, shouldn’t one of us be the Head Worrier?  Better to firmly plant myself in the low expectation realm of things and be utterly stunned when things go well, right?

I’m starting to find holes in this theory.  Like, it’s not very fun.  It’s actually draining and tiring to be on high-alert all the time.  Who put me in charge anyway?? Who made me Queen Worrywart? NO ONE.

The kicker recently has been the realization that the people I admire, look up to, gain inspiration from, are those who are approaching the world with an open heart, an energized and optimistic attitude, and an expectation that LIFE IS GOOD.  Sounds corny right?  Well, I’ve decided I like corny.

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I’m truly inspired to be my best self when I see others moving outside of their comfort zones and doing the hard work.  I’m inspired by women who, despite personal obstacles, continue to present themselves to others as an abundant source of positive energy and light.  I say we need more of this, not less.

One of my personal goals right now is to begin breaking down my wall of constant worry and allow myself to believe that good things will happen.  It might actually be kinda fun.   <3

gratitude

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Starting off the week with a heart full of thankfulness.  I know that even when I feel overwhelmed, tired, scared….I have CHOICES.

Not everyone does. I am grateful for the tedious, monotonous tasks of my everyday life.  (I get to go grocery shopping, I get to go to my job, I get to do laundry, I get to sit with my son and remind him to hurry & do his homework so he’s not late for practice…)

Far too many people do not have the luxury of these options.  I am lucky.  So so fortunate.

I also GET to choose what I eat and how hard I work to reach my goals.  How mindful I am.  How disciplined, patient, dedicated and self-aware I am.

I recognize these choices as gifts and hold them dear as I wholeheartedly rededicate myself to my goals. Join me?

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exuberance

gusto. hustle. gumption. oomph, verve, zeal, fervor. These are the qualities I tend to chase.

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Ironically, they are also the elements of my personality that I tend to shun, ignore & discount. I know they’re in there. They’ve just been buried and need some dusting off.

I need to allow myself permission to let them come out to play.  After all, denying those parts of myself only makes me sad.

Fall is a season of change. Nostalgia. In Japanese, you say: “Ahhhh, natsukashii.”  Sweet, fond memories tinged with regret.

I’m kind of done with regret. Regret is the killer of exuberance.  How can you experience a joyful present with the wet blanket of regret (and its cousin, Fear) dampening your spirit?

I’ve written a lot here about my struggles with depression, eating disorders, anxiety, body image.  They are inextricably linked. The underlying force is one of sadness and fear.  As I have moved into health and self-awareness in the past 10-15 years, I’ve been experiencing a shedding of layer upon layer of those heavy wet blankets.

Honesty helps. So does doing the hard work, taking risks, admitting when I’ve gotten off track, sharing my story.

I’ve lost momentum these days, allowing life stresses to overwhelm me and stamp out my exuberance. Being true to myself and pursuing the life I want have taken a backseat to basic “maintenance”.  It’s easy to let this happen as a busy single parent.  I truly believe there is a sweet spot where I can simultaneously be my son’s biggest cheerleader & at the same time stay true to my goals.  I cheer best when my heart is full and nourished.

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After a week away from home for work, I am back and ready to hit the “refresh” button.  Back on track with eating well, nixing sugar, practicing ample deep breathing time.  Running goals are being formulated and I’m getting giddy to pen a race date on my calendar!

My sugar demon roared it’s ugly roar these past 2 weeks and guess what? Headaches, poor sleep, dry skin, moodiness, crappy runs. Some of us (ME!) need a good month of no-sugar, no junk, to really make it over the hump and kill the cravings.  I am SO ready for my Purium Athlete’s Cleanse, a crisp new running program & renewed energy. I miss my healthy self! {email me if you are interested in joining me on my journey – a few of my $50 off cards are still available! I love this stuff!}

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For me, it doesn’t matter the goal. Professional goals, new running plans, financial goals, home improvement projects, parenting skills, relationship challenges…or fighting an unhealthy habit that keeps me stuck. In order to get there, I need to be All In. I am never ever going to be “moderation girl” – that’s just not how I’m wired. (dammit!)

Time to grab that gusto, oomph, drive & hustle and fuel my exuberance.

Happiness is a risk. <3

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momentum

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Change is hard.  I am a firm believer in the power of momentum to get my booty (and more importantly my mind) moving in the right direction.  Sometimes it feels overwhelming and downright impossible to do what we know will make us feel/think/be better.  Silly humans. Habits are hard to kick.

I’ve received lots of questions about my 10 day experiment with Purium and how it has worked for me. Sooooo, here’s the rundown:  I’ve experienced improved concentration, patience & mental clarity, much much better sleep, emotional calm, reduction in cravings (sugar, junky snacks, coffee), greater appreciation for eating slowly and mindfully, greater body awareness, MUCH improved skin tone, and last but not least: decrease in need for extra fuel (gels, drinks, bars) while running. Big bonus!

Now, one would think that with all these tangible improvements that staying away from sugar would be a no-brainer. HA. It’s everywhere, that sneaky bastard.  This is where I have found Purium so key: It takes my mind off stupid sugar because I am satisfied, nourished & energized. I plan to continue using the shake 1-2 times per day as it has enabled me to get off the sugar which was my #1 goal.

As I get older & healthier, I realize how empty and hollow that “quick fix” is.  Whether it’s sugar, alcohol, sex, spending money….it’s Oh So sparkly and promising one moment and such a letdown the next.  For those of us prone to addictions, this can be a tough lesson to learn. (I am 44 and still a relative newbie with this one…slow learner over here.)

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I am inspired by so many women I know who keep fighting and growing, even when it hurts. Even when change seems impossible and so so hard.  I am profoundly lucky to be inspired by so many of you.  <3

renewal

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  – Albert Camus

Recently, I personally re-dedicated myself to another round of clean & conscious livin’.

Despite sincere earnest attempts to adhere to my goals, a very stressful monster of an August reared its ugly head and snuffed out my resolve.  Back to square one.

This time, I decided to enlist the support of a product (which is nearly unheard of for cynical, skeptical, cheapskate, doubter-extraordinaire, control-freak Me). I first heard of Purium via this gal, and the fact that she is an ironman triathlete, speedy sub-3 marathoner, busy working mama & no-nonsense serious uber-athlete, all convinced me to give it a whirl.

I am hooked.

My main demon is sugar.  Sugar sugar sugar with some more sugar on top.  I lose out on precious nutrients because I crave sugar and subsequently fill up on sweet snacks (washed down with copious amounts of strong black coffee), leaving my mood and energy levels looking a bit like this:

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 and the average work day ending like this:

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Not good for anyone around me!!!

So, on day #9 of Purium and mindful clean eating, I am more than happy to report the following:

  • even moods
  • deep sleep
  • soft clear skin (lifelong eczema girl here)
  • improved energy all. day. looooong.

and the biggie….a huge wake up call and kick in the pants for me in terms of recognizing the importance of mindful eating and avoidance of sugar & processed crap: i am one who has a very hard time with “moderation” (to put it mildly), and by following this plan and gritting my teeth through the first few rough days, i have been rewarded with….

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CALM.

Right along with my son’s new backpack, spiffy new school clothes and freshly sharpened pencils, I feel renewed.   Ready to ease into autumn rejuvenated and recommitted.  I smell promise. <3

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(If you are interested in learning more about Purium, I have a few extra gift codes for $50 off.  Just let me know here or via FB.)

alive

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Sometimes I need to remind myself, out loud, to breathe.

Not breathe just a little, but BREATHE. With my whole body.

It is powerful & terrifying to open my eyes, breathe deeply, and do the hard thing.

Summer is winding down and Fall is near.  Time to start anew.

When things are shaky and crumbly and unsteady, it can strangely be the best moment to recommit and rededicate oneself to that which is most important in one’s life.

In that raw state, priorities are blindingly clear.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  – John Muir

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