Tuesday, December 24, 2013

God bless us, everyone!

No one ever thinks that when they get married that in just a few short years they would be burying the love of their life.

When we get married we feel indestructible and that the entire world is before us, ready to roll whichever direction we will it to go.

Reality might settle in when the first disagreements or children come along. We work up to these things though. As we come to know our best friend better, we come to know ourselves better. We grow together - or at least that's the plan anyway.

There is a "happily ever after family" gathering together right now in a local hospital as they are about to turn off the life-support for their wife, mother, daughter, and sister. I can't imagine what my cousin and his young children must be going through. 

At the same time I can also imagine that there is a great deal of comfort knowing that the pain and suffering is now coming to an end.

I used to think that Christmas Eve should always be filled with joy and excitement. I see it much differently now. 

Mercy, humility, peace, loving-kindness, prayer, hope, charity… these are the emotions of Christmas Eve. If joy happens to accompany the mix, well then, embrace it too.

God bless us, everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tests, Vomit, and a Pat on the Back

My recent blog silence has been due to a series final exams and being really sick. I am happy to report that two really cool things happened during this time. So here's the story…

Studying, worrying, feeling unprepared no matter how prepared I got myself… ever been there? 

You got it! I got sick. All that worry and stress, adding in a little bad weather, horrible inversion making the air nasty - this is prime ground to get sick.

Cool thing #1 was that I did really well on my tests and one of them was a certifying test with the American College of Sports Medicine. You got it! I am now a Certified Personal Trainer! 

However, just hours before my test that couldn't be rescheduled, without losing a lot of money, my sickness took a turn for the worse. I managed to get through the test and home in time before I really was out of it.

I've not been this sick in many years. Never fear antibiotics and loving family support are here! God bless all those that helped me during this time. Especially one person in particular…

Cool thing #2 is that despite having to ignore and be clear of my son so he wouldn't get sick from me, he still managed to cope and love me anyway. Here's that story now.

At one point I was alone, vomiting in the bathroom when I heard the patter of my son's little feet come behind me. Worrying about how to block him from the vile violent view as well as keep his curious hands out of the way, I discovered I didn't need to worry. 

My little guy just stood at my back hugging me and patting my back until I was done. Then he simply just walked away to play with the dogs.

(as of 12/21/13 I am also a Certified Functional Movement Specialist!)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle (Part II)

In reference to Healthy Lifestyle (Part I), I believe there is a sixth element to the Model of Change. This element (not stage) is struggle. 

To struggle isn't a phase that we come in and out of identifiably; rather struggle is present in each of the five stages because it is a fact of life. 

We can't escape struggle altogether, it is impossible - 
we are imperfect human beings.

The influence and impact of struggle throughout the five stages of the Cycle of Change is generally due to our perspective about what is happening within each of these stages. 

If we take charge of our perspective while struggling in these phases, I believe that two things can occur:

1 - Your attitude improves causing a more stable, accurate, and improved self-image.

2 - You spend more time in the Action and Maintenance Phases with less volatility and greater success each time you are in these phases.

Perspective as a Tool
How then can perspective possibly become a tool rather than a viewpoint? 

With regards to "getting healthy", we often associate this concept as a period of restriction rather than embracing a lifelong change.

In this light we have already failed before we even begin. If I am devoting massive amounts of time and energy for a period of restriction, then the results will only last for that period of time as well; seldom do changes last much longer than that.

Going into change with the realization that you aren't perfect, struggle is generally always present and you embrace it still, then perspective somehow becomes more accurate. We become increasingly more patient with ourselves, which has the effect of being more disciplined and focused.

Example 1 (Perspective not as a tool, i.e. the way most of us do it.): 
During the last week of December I decide to buy a fitness program or a gym membership with the intent to start up on January 2nd. 

At this same time I decide that the way I eat is unhealthy, I also drink too much caffeine, and so the list of things to change builds. Come January 2, I begin to change all of my habits at once. 

Jumping full-steam ahead into 90-day program or gym membership I last somewhere between four to fifteen days because I have in that time already over trained and have reached burnout, maybe even injured myself. 

To make matters worse I get on the scale and see that I haven't lost the 20 lbs. that I had planned on losing that week, but instead I have gained weight 4 lbs! 

This frustrates me because I don't understand the phenomena as to why I have gained and not lost. I don't care anyway because I am burned out and so I quit.

Example 2 (Perspective as a tool): 
During the last week of December I decide to buy a fitness program or a gym membership and I have a lot of goals I want to meet and a lot of habits I need to change. 

Understanding that a true lifestyle change isn't established overnight I make a S.M.A.R.T plan with a single specific goal to improve my heart health. 

First, I take measurements of my body and current weight and log them in a record book, then I go for a 1.5 mile walk (outside or treadmill) and see how long it takes without losing my breath and without being too slow. 

Then I set an attainable goal to improve my 1.5-mile walk/run time and endurance by 30-seconds or so within a month. I understand that this initial effort is relevant to the goal of improving my heart health. 

I create a calendar of a daily fitness schedule and put it on my mirror. Each day I cross of the workload as I complete it.

The aim of the improved heart health goal is to have a more solid foundation to start from at the end of my first 30 days (time-bound). 

At month end, I will review my goals again and adjustment efforts accordingly. That adjustment may be the addition of just one thing or the removing of just one thing, not both.

During this 30 days I don't weigh myself at all because I know that it is normal to actually increase in weight, as muscle is more dense than fat. Instead, it is more important to track measurements than weight, so this is what I monitor for the first 30-40 days.

Also, I anticipate being somewhat sore during this period because muscle that has otherwise been lying dormant is now in use. As muscle breaks down, in order to be built up, there will be some soreness. 

If I am sore beyond 36-48hrs at a time, then I know that I am pushing myself too hard and not allowing enough time for the muscle to recover before exercising that particular area again.
With this plan in mind, it permits my perspective to be focused on something other than, "I hate my body." It is now focused on measurable realities like:
  • My lungs don't burn in my 1.5-mile walk like they used to.
  • I'm comfortable with 1.5 miles, maybe I will go further or maybe I will run for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds and so on, for the full distance.
  • Hey my pants fit better now.
  • I'm starting to get the hang of this. 

In time, creating this foundation will reduce my risk of injury and increase my probability of success. Also note that struggle is still present. 

As it gets easier, I do more (struggle still being present). As I do more, I get excited what I can do (struggle still being present). The cycle continues as growth and development occurs (struggle still being present).

It is when there is plateau that means you have really achieved something and it is time to switch things up. Now it is time to review my progress, make sure my tracking log is current. 

Reviewing my tracking log, I see awesome things. I now have proof that I have improved my cardio health. I went from a 40min 1.5-mile walk, to a 15min 1.5-mile walk/run and then over the course of few months I am at a 11min 1.5-mile run. During this time I have completed a 5k charity run and look forward to more.

At this time I revamp and create a new goal and increase my workout resistance. Based on the new goal I create a new workout schedule and print it out for my mirror. As this becomes a habit, it takes less and less time and the effort to be consistent becomes easier.

Now that I know my heart is ready to roll, I am ready to focus on flexibility, balance, and strength improvements. Also, while looking forward to maintaining and improving my heart health.

But what about those with limitations? Stay tuned!

Healthy Lifestyle (Part I)

I oftentimes talk about perspective as a tool, rather than a habitual individual vantage point. It is a tool that I believe shines best amid struggle. 

I would like to explain my thoughts on this concept. In doing so, I will pick on the ever popular concept of creating a healthy lifestyle, also known as getting healthy.

Setting the Stage
About this time of year many people start thinking about changes that they want to make for the coming year. Oftentimes this plan involves toying with the idea of getting healthy and improving your fitness efforts. 

Real changes won't begin until after the Holiday's of course, because you crave certain things during these next few Holiday's. Maybe there is no time to devote to fitness, or maybe you associate getting healthy with being outdoors and you don't like being outdoors during the winter.

Whatever the case may be, this effort is often viewed as a big job with huge changes. Seldom do people that are seeking big change, change just one thing at a time. Usually they try to change everything all at once. 

These huge changes may stay in effect for a few days or a couple of months, but eventually the efforts fail your perceived standard or goals and then you revert back to the path of least resistance (i.e., old habits). 

The perceived standard is usually you measuring what you feel is the worst about you and comparing it to someone else's best.

The silly thing about this is that oftentimes that "best" is chronically under horrible scrutiny by the other person and seldom accepted as good.

Stages of Change
I really like James Prochaska's Transtheoretical Model of Change1. I like the Model of Change because it has so many applications to human behavior. 

The pre- and post- Holiday's desire to become committed to change and "get healthy" really puts things in perspective for me. 

According to the five stages of the model, Group 1 (most people) vacillate roller-coaster style between the first four stages and lose it most often in the fourth stage (Action).

Group 2 is where the majority of the people that succeed past the Action Phase tend to linger; bouncing between Contemplation, Preparation, and Action as they lose focus or discipline not long after they start the Maintenance Phase. 

Group 3 are the people that we usually compare ourselves against. Group 3 houses the people that generally live in the Maintenance Phase, when they slip out of that phase, they seem to speed through the first four phases in very little time and then they return to the Maintenance Phase rapidly. They make everything look so darn easy.

In my own personal opinion, I believe there is a sixth element to the Model of Change; which is Struggle. I say Struggle and not the Struggle Phase. Struggle isn't a phase that we come in and out of identifiably; rather struggle is present in each of the five stages.

The influence of struggle throughout the five stages is generally due to our perspective about what is happening within each of these stages. I will explain this in more detail in the next post.
1Prochaska, JO; DiClemente, CC. Stages and processes of self-change of smoking: toward an integrative model of change. J Consult Clin Psychol 1988 Jun;51(3):390–5. Accessed 2009 Mar 18.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

G-words & Laughter

I am writing this while down in bed. I am sure I will be well soon. However at this time, kleenex, herb tea, and a warm blanket are my friends. I have a lot on my mind though, so let's see if I can summarize. This is going to come out in stream of consciousness format with very little connections for sure - thank you medicine induced state!

It is quite fitting that as I sit and type that I can see snow falling. I love it when it snows and rains (as long as I'm not driving in it). I also love it when rays of light touch people, things, or shine through trees. Something about these kinds of settings make me feel peace. 

In all seriousness, the feeling I get with the snow, rain, and sunshine is similar to the feeling of peace and relief I get with prayer or looking at pictures of the resurrected Savior. I especially love Del Parson's piece "He Is Risen", depicting Jesus Christ emerging from the sepulcher. It is as if He is walking right out of that tomb and walking directly up to me. And for all intents and purposes, He is.

It is interesting that I feel this same emotion when I perform service for someone else.

Laughter, like anything else, is a good thing if used appropriately. We spend a lot of time taking life so seriously, but I believe we don't laugh enough. There is healing in laughter. There is bonding laughter. In fact, let's all just step away from this blog for now and jump over to YouTube to laugh a little; my recommendations: 
Ellen monologue - Types of Laughter
Skype Laughter Chain

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I've been thinking about suicide. Not personally, but in relation to someone dear to me. I've been thinking about hard times and the reason why thoughts of suicide are entertained.

This is a tough topic and one many people don't like to address, but it needs to be! If you are in need of help, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline now!

I can honestly say that at one point, for a small period, I have actually contemplated suicide as an option for myself. I can also say I found my way out of thinking it was a viable option and I will share why in this post. 

This is hard for me to share. I feel as though I need to though. I do not know the reason, but here it goes.

Facing catastrophic situations, depression, failing health, addictions, poor life choices, failing relationships, bullying, and much more... 
whatever the reason may be for your contemplating suicide, I promise you that your life is worth living.

I recall the day I understood the fact that I was a divinely created with an enormous amount of potential. I deserved to live, as well as to thrive. 
God needed me to live. 
I have a purpose. 
So do you!

I understood this truth during the precise moment that I had a choice to either act on my suicide plan or to abandon it.

I understood it, not as an excuse to abandon the plan to end my life, rather, it was the precise reason for why I created the plan to suicide in the first place. Let me try to explain.

I didn't believe I was of value to the lives of those I loved most dear. I believed that I was insignificant, replaceable, incapable, stupid, and undesirable. 

I believed that so many people would be much better off if I were no longer in the picture. I didn't want to hurt anymore. I didn't want to continue to live the way I was living. I couldn't see a way out of being an insignificant, stupid, and unwanted person. 

No one should ever believe the lie that their life doesn't matter... 
not even those that have lived a life of crime, hurt others, or made big mistakes. Even those people have loved and been loved. 

Even those people have a divine potential waiting to be uncovered. Even those people will be missed by someone. Even they were created in God's image and for a reason. Even they deserve to find peace from the torment they have had in this life.

Now thinking of this person that I love so dearly, mentioned at the start of this blog entry. He is not a criminal. He is a young man that has so much more life to be lived ahead of him. His heart is so pure and innocent in many ways. My life is definitely better with him in it.

My heart aches for him to see the amazing person that he is. My heart yearns for his release from the pain that he is literally putting himself through. 

He can have release from the pain, without killing himself. It is possible! I wish, hope, and pray for the day that he sees himself as God sees him. 

You are worth every effort to fight the evil voice that tells you that you aren't worth it. You are worth so much! 

Rest easy in prayer tonight, dear boy. Jesus loves you, so do I, and so many others around you. You are amazing. 

If you are in need of help, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline now! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Going With The Flow

Have you ever been in a circumstance where you could clearly see that "the moment" would be a source of real change? You know where recognition of something becomes the point of no return?

I've hit that tipping point a few times. My favorite is when I tried to run from a relationship because I was scared. 

Instead of breaking up (like I had intended), he asked me to marry him. Without thought or reservation I said "yes!" In that moment I realized I meant it. It has been an adventurous twelve years for sure; a good adventure!

What about other times? This point of no return moment has happened with job changes, death, education pursuits, starting a family, building relationships, leaving relationships, and so on.

What about those times when you recognize change is happening, but you just don't know what it is. You know that weird time where things in general have gone from comfortable to awkward?

I feel awkward. I feel definitive pulls to go this way, to do that thing, focus here, put effort there. I also feel real obstacles every step of the way. It's like I am in a game of chess, without being privy to or having a total vantage point of the board. I also realize that I'm not supposed to either.

It is like I have a blindfold on and being subjected to a test of some sort. So what do you do in these moments? 

I have no idea. But I do know what I am going to do about it.

I've decided to live life anyway. I am doing well. I am making good decisions that are appropriate for what is in front of me. Why should a looming, unknown outcome change my course?

The natural ebb and flux of life, mixed with a little unknown nudging will put me just right where I need to be... right? So, I live. I take care of obligations. I stick with commitments. All while feeling a little uneasy. And so it goes... 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Growing up!

Come to find out, the process of "growing up" doesn't end at any specific age. 

In the last nearly 16 months as a mother, I have learned many valuable lessons. I am absolutely certain that I haven't even begun to scratch the surface for this education. I would like to share just a few things that have really made a mark on me internally.

Disclaimer: I am so not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I try not to compare and so in sharing this I would hope that you don't compare either. This is just sharing and learning from a person who still has so much more to learn.

1. I am glad that I have a boy. I never really was a little "girl" so I don't know how to relate in that way. I am still a tomboy at heart for sure.

2. The only thing that I am absolutely certain of is that I know nothing.

3. I have discovered that I am not a very patient person. I'm definitely getting a crash course on this and I am improving, it just isn't a comfortable learning process. But definitely rewarding.

4. Memories of my own childhood have emerged and become clearer as I have watched my son grow and learn.

5. I've learned very quickly what is really important to me and what isn't:
Important                           Not Important
Exercise                                Clean house
Clean Teeth                          Clean laundry 
Time in the bathroom           To hurry
Sleep                                     Make-up
Diaphragmatic breathing      Apps
Hugs                                      Television
Clean laundry
Nutritious food
Play time

What are some similar things that you have learned as a parent, while YOU have been growing up? Please share.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I have forced entertainment to numb the white noise of my brain. Loud music, movies, and sometimes both at the same time. 

A few different times, I've even had both music and movie going at the same time in order to occupy the rowdy part of my brain, in hopes that the distraction would permit me to focus on reading a book that I needed to understand.

There have been a small handful of times in my life where I was over-numb though. Gosh those are freaky and surreal moments. I was so numb that I was oblivious to everything happening around me.

There have also been times where I have been surprised that the world didn't stop in observance of how my life had just changed (good or bad): cars drove by, people were laughing, dogs were barking, there was a flurry of movement, people obnoxiously loud on their cell phones talking about nothing.

Some of the greatest moments of understanding though have been in the stillness of chaos. Picture a topspin toy moving so fast it appears as though the very center is perfectly still.

I suppose the reason I stay so busy and active is to search for the moment in chaos when clarity manifests; even a split second of calm and understanding has been worth it. I do this because in that very moment some of the most amazing understanding and healing occurs.

This kind of moment just happened to me three times in one day on September 17th:

1st Experience
I've been worn out and running on fumes. I've been struggling with comprehension and needing to study for some continuing education courses that I am taking. I have a crazy, busy, and HEALTHY fifteen month old son. 

I travelled to speak at an event I was invited to, it was at "the big I.F." as locals call it, otherwise known as Idaho Falls, ID. I arrived at my hotel, walked into my room and found a spectacular view as well as very pleasing accommodations. 

The Clarity Received: I literally stood and communed with God and myself. I found tremendous strength and healing in just a few minutes. I felt an overwhelming feeling of love and a sense that all was well. 

Have you ever experienced a time wherein something happened relatively quickly, but during the moment it felt longer because so much happened in just a small amount of magical time?

The picture of view doesn't do it justice, but I took some pictures of the captivating scene from my hotel room. After a time I couldn't help but go for a run out on the trail shown in the picture.

The building in the picture is the Idaho Falls Temple
that belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2nd Experience
I met a couple at the event this night. While speaking with them I learned that they had a stillborn child at the end of June and two weeks later the husband had a major exacerbation and diagnosed quickly with multiple sclerosis. 

They were overwhelmed, hurting, and terrified. The Clarity Received: In this moment I felt an overwhelming outpouring and feeling of compassion.

The right words came to me. I don't know what I said, but I knew it had been important and valuable to that couple. It felt good to see that they received a little bit of hope that night.

3rd Experience
The evening closed with perfect temperatures and another amazing view. I sat for the longest time drinking herbal tea in the September chill of God's embrace.

The Clarity Received: It was nice to have the white noise of life quite for a time. I was at total peace and calm. That was a beautiful day. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Moon Boots

I recall as a child being so excited to have my very own moon boots for winter. The predominant yellow color was so cool. Yellow was and is my favorite color. The vibrancy was a beacon for my youthful energy.

I was convinced that in those boots I could trek all across Antarctica and be totally fine. 

Before I understood how mean penguins could be, I used to dream of how awesome it would be to play with them. Have spectacular snowball fights, slide down the ice slopes, and explore the land.

I would see pictures of Antarctica and be amazed and the beauty of the frozen stillness. 

Looking at pictures of the vast frozen expanse of that land now gives me an overwhelming sense of smallness - kind of like looking over the Grand Canyon and realizing how small you are in the grand scheme of things.

With how self-centered, big-headed and selfish we can all be in this life, I think it is important to still have moments that remind you of how little the world is focused on you.

At the same time, it is important to have spirited youthfulness of the yellow moon boot variety. We have an incredibly large playground, tremendous potential, and a responsibility.

What is more amazing to me is the concept (and question) that, if we are so small in the grand scheme of things and our little lives can be such an impact in changing another life completely, then how "little" are we, really?