Monday, December 8, 2014

Kiss and Tell

"Ew! They kissed!" 

As a young child I distinctly recall a number a road trips, driving around town, or simply hanging out at home where I witnessed my parents smooch. 

Sometimes they did it to gross the kids out, other times it was with all sincerity and we just happened to be there. I recall making fun and pretending to be grossed out with my siblings.

No matter what though, I always knew that my parents loved each other. It was comforting. 

As I continued to grow I remembered thinking that I hoped I found someone that wanted to kiss me and love me too.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband returned from a nearly 7-month deployment. So this last week, my husband and I took my son and ran away on a little vacation to San Antonio, TX. While there we visited Sea World. 

Sitting in the stands, waiting in anticipation of a killer whale show, our son did something unexpected and totally awesome.

He was between my husband and myself and put one arm around each of us. With a hand at the base of both of our necks, he kept pushing our faces together so my husband and I could kiss. Each time we kissed, Jacob sounded completely delighted, cheered, and laughed with joy. 

Tonight, a few days later, while on a boat ride, he did the same thing.

I'm starting to see that kids need to see their parents love, to touch, and to kiss. I'm not talking about the kind of stuff that should be behind doors. 

I am talking about nice kisses, hand holding, and hugs. It is comforting not only to the parents to engage in this way, but for their children to see love between parents.

Thank you Josh, for loving me like my Dad loves my Mom. I am blessed to have you. It is exactly because of who you are that I have no problem kissing you and telling this to the world.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Foggy Places and Rainy Days

I have vivid memories of a particularly dense fog that loomed over the Salt Lake Valley sometime during 1985.

The fog seemed the most thick while walking to school in the early morning hours. I had to walk to school with my younger sister Rebecca. Our school at that time was a mile away from home.

Rebecca was scared and walked very slow. I was annoyed and frustrated at first. The next day I realized that her fear was very real to her and she wasn't just making it up to bother me.

She was terrified that her field of vision was so limited. Rebecca was afraid that something truly dangerous was lurking in the fog and it was coming out to get her.

When it rained she was noticeably happier and energetic. When the fog again returned it felt almost as though the fog had also settled inside Rebecca and not just around her.

The fog was so persistent that eventually Rebecca became acclimated to it and it seemed to no longer affect her so severely. She was different though.

It wasn't long after that time that a different hazard surrounded Rebecca; now she was in a difficult and more brutal long-term fog. She would have to fight for her life for many years. 

Sometimes she was leery and cautious of the figurative impact of the dirt in the air around her, "the fog"; other times she was willfully oblivious of it. 

I am now speaking of the negative influence of filthy neighborhood kids, other bad influences, curiosity, molestation, and eventually drugs and alcohol.

The grotesque fog that settled on Rebecca lingered for the next twenty years. For many of those years I was frustrated with her, not fully understanding the dangers that had crept into her life from that same nasty foggy mess that seemed to constantly be her around.

Then I understood the fears, her reactions, and the way she handled the traumas in her life. It was all very warranted, very real, very scary, and her various responses were just as unique as she was.

I loved her, I had many great times and created fantastic memories with her. I also have hated her and not wanted to be around her.

I have laughed with her, I have cried with her, I have learned from her, and I have admired her. I have prayed for her, I have picked her up when she was down. I have been down and been buoyed up by her energy and creativity many times.

I miss sleepovers, late night Phase 10 tournaments, licorice-straws in soda, and cutting out pictures of our favorite famous people from magazines. I desperately miss sharing music and making up songs at the piano together.

I hate the fog that is created by others. It scares me now. It makes me feel more vulnerable than I want to feel. The only way I've been able to navigate it emotionally, has been to pray fervently and to constantly seek out good things.

I believe in a Supreme Being, a Father in Heaven, and I believe that this Being can indeed literally pull the fog out of us, if we let him. Trusting and submitting to the Supreme is like experiencing a good rain; clearing up bad air.

Fog, otherwise known as the darkness created by poor choices by us and others must be allowed to exist, so long as there is agency. The power to choose is ours and those choices certainly can affect others around us.

But this filth that gets kicked up and carried around in the air does not have to exist inside of me if I don't permit it to. I have that choice.

Rebecca made such amazing and tremendous improvements the last several years; especially 2012 until her passing this last May. 

At age 35, Rebecca suddenly passed away. Her body had been through enough and it had rejected the medications used to help her function... her body just simply stopped working. 

Her death was a merciful thing, I think. Rather than living in extreme pain and somehow making it through, she is now free from her pains. 

Her passing came at a high point in her life. What better time to go, right? Her fog has certainly lifted.

I can't help but feel happy for her. Though I miss her, I also feel that she is truly at peace. She deserves that. 

In some way, I sort of feel like she is the one now that is leading me  safely through the fog that comes and goes throughout life. 

I believe that she has joined a team of cheerleaders that surround me. They keep me from allowing any particular dirtiness from creating a fog that's too dense for me to navigate through.

I admire the vantage point and understanding that the dead must have on the living. 

I believe that when it is my turn to return to my Father in Heaven that created me, that I will be greeted by my cheerleaders; Rebecca, certainly first among them... knowing her, she wouldn't permit it any other way.

Writing this feels really good. It has been a healing reflection.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seeing Blind People

Maybe if I ride this persons bumper they will speed up or better yet, maybe they will move?

If I cut around this car then I won't have to slow down too... Why are they slowing down?

I can't believe he/she doesn't think that it's not noticeable that they're texting while driving.

Have you ever thought these things?

This summer my son and I were in a car accident and my vehicle was totaled. No injuries, by miracle, but car absolutely gone. Since that time I have seen a flurry of horrible driving. Admittedly, I am a bit afraid to be out on the roads.

I am driving defensively, following all traffic rules and no cutting corners. I've never been in an accident like this before. Sure I've been rear-ended (light tap really), but that's it. 

Yesterday while driving, there was a lady riding my bumper and getting upset that I wasn't driving the way she wanted me to. I could see her upset in the rear-view mirror. 

Without logic or reason I could see her speed up, trying to force me to drive faster. This made me mad because in short order I was going to have to slow down even more to make a right hand turn. 

I pointed in the mirror to her and gestured that she should go around me; seeing as how that lane was absolutely clear! Huffing and puffing she did so and went speeding away.

The next day while attempting to turn right, I yielded to pedestrians as was appropriate to the situation, when behind me some impatient soul illegally zipped around me creating their own two-lane right turn area and he nearly hit the wheelchair pedestrian and a child. I honked for all it was worth to stop the situation. All made it safely out of that situation and the other car found a way to speed off without incident. How? I do not know.

It has been like this all summer. Horrible driving, terrible impatience and people just not being aware. I feel like I am surrounded by people that are physically able to see but mentally blind to the actual surroundings.

My life, my sons, the guy in the wheelchair and the little kids life are not worth your text, your impatience, or you illogical need to dominate the road. 

Slow down. Pay attention. Don't create your own rules on the road. 
Please, do not be a seeing blind person.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Embracing the Ache

Sometimes life events cause the body, soul, and mind to ache beyond description. This experience can be best understood when loss has been experienced. 

In order to heal and reduce the aching, it is requisite to go into that space repeatedly. In other words, embracing the ache. 

Embracing the ache sucks, but when it subsides it's possible to realize just how much healing has occurred.  

It's sometimes a surreal feeling; to transition from feeling that it's almost too painful to even breathe to then turn some invisible corner and find peaceful acceptance.

I have been experiencing this over the last few months. It feels almost as if I've been living in a blur; a very painful to breathe kind of blur.

During this time it has been comforting to have memories of good times. The thrill of a run or simply talking about memories with close friends and family. A good nights sleep that wasn't interrupted by tears.

I couldn't write for a time, because I felt blocked. I feel a little more free now. My heart isn't as heavy. I still miss those that have passed away very much, chiefly my sister from this last May. 

I have been listening to some of her favorite music and that has been a tremendous connection and healer. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rainy days

I like the rain. It smells clean. Rain makes me feel alive and as though everything in life is going to be ok. Right now it is raining. I need it.

I like the sound of people or vehicles moving through the rain. I like the sounds of pitter-patter on unoccupied ground. I like the air that is required in order for rain to exist.

The feeling of rain, mist, or a downpour on my face has the same effect - it makes me calm. I have no idea why this is. Does it matter? 

All that matters when it comes to things like this is that it brings peace, comfort, or healing.

I remember a couple of college roommates that went out of our dorm room gleefully to literally go and dance in the rain. They tried to get me to go, but I was too embarrassed for some reason. 

But now my son has just finished his afternoon nap... I think we need to go and dance in the puddles I see on the patio. After that, I think a walk in the rain is in order as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coming Clean

It happens to ALL of us. Stress, major life changes, death, deployments, disease.... too much too fast and that creates a loss of perspective and wavering self-discipline.

What is most annoying about these circumstances is that it becomes incredibly easy to fall back on habits that you thought you had gotten rid of. 

Even the strongest people are not exempt from being challenged in this way. My response to these situations are very much inline with thoughts expressed in Healthy Lifestyle Part I and Part II.

It's the darn sixth element of "struggle" that I spoke of in those two blogposts that is the motivation behind this entry. 

It is totally normal to face the Struggle Phase and experience a loss of perspective. It is also absolutely normal for waving discipline to completely frustrate all of your well thought out plans. 

It is also normal to sometimes feel like the Struggle Phase is lingering well beyond the amount of time that seems "fair"... shouldn't someone else being having their turn? No! Never wish that - ever!

What this really means is that you now find yourself needing to regain perspective and discipline...what do you do? 

I don't know about you, but what works well for me is to create a specific goal. In order to motivate myself to reach the goal I listen to certain music or reread things that make me feel good, like:
Continue In Patience (Uchdorf Video)
Personal Dignity
10 Years Ago Today
Abiding Love

So, in order to overcome the desire for caffeine... AGAIN, I am going to follow my own advice right now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

R.I.P. In Life and Death

In the last two weeks my younger sister, Rebecca (age 35), passed away and my husband was deployed.

During this time I have had some of the sweetest moments of my life.

God is good to me. Life is beautiful, no matter how ugly people can be to each other. 

So often we hear the term "rest in peace" (R.I.P.) in reference to the dead, but it has a greater application. We should be able to rest with a peaceful heart in life as well as in death. 

Yes, this has been a tough time for me, but peace has been ever present during this time as well.

I would give more detail if I could articulate it. But the details aren't as important as the take home message noted above.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Laser Lipo

The other day while driving to an appointment I heard an ad on the radio for a local laser lipo business and the soundbite for the ad was, "get your lipo today and live your life beautiful."

This made me incredibly angry. 

What is the definition of beautiful? What is your perception of a beautiful person?

I have nothing against people getting lipo or other procedures like it. What I do have a problem with is the driving motivation and rational behind getting it done.

Have you known a physically appealing person who is a total beast to associate with? Are they beautiful?

Have you known someone who always smiles, emotionally builds up others around them? Are they beautiful?
Think of the senior citizens in your life that you love and reach out to. Why do you reach out to them? How do they make you feel? Are they beautiful?

What is beauty? Really stop and really think about it for a moment.

I sure hope this gets you thinking about your own perspective of what beauty is. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Wow! You..."

The other day I asked my friends on Facebook a question. A few answered and I have really been contemplating how I would even answer it. The question is:

If a younger version of you could see you today, 
how would he/she fill in the blank: "Wow! You..."

I think I have my answer. I say "think" because I want to toss it out and discount it, yet, the thought keeps coming back to me. So, it must be true.

I honestly mean this without conceit. This statement is hard fought for and continually challenged by daily body image issues and internal self-esteem battles. This is my response:

"Wow! You are beautiful, desirable, smart, lovable, and worth every effort. Most importantly, it is possible to love, accept, and respect yourself. Go girl!" 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Turn it off!

Have you ever been so surrounded by the white-noise of life that you feel a constant nagging and yet undefined agitation?

This is what happens to me when I don't get quiet time to simply reflect and think. This time is sacred and requires being unplugged and push notifications turned off. 

For me, the best meditation and reflection time typically occurs either running or with my favorite pen in hand, paper nearby and either on a beautiful walk or sitting in an awesomely comfortable chair.

If I don't get quality time like that I feel lost, frustrated, and internally angry. I don't think I realized how critical this time is for me until recently. 

Having just spent time on a little vacation to Mexico at beautiful resort, I had some of this reflection time. It came in fits and starts while still needing to be a mom and a wife, but I was able to get more of this reflection time than normal.

I learned something during this time that was critical to know. Yes, I need a moment in time for inner reflection and it can certainly happen in 5-10 minutes. 

I just need to be more willing to surrender to that time, rather than fighting for more - thinking that quantity is more valuable than quality.

I also learned how I have used stupid apps to numb the void I feel inside when I don't take a quality 5-10 minutes to myself. That constant numbing wastes so much time and makes us oblivious to amazing experiences that can only be seen after pressing the off button.

These are important things to learn and rediscover throughout life. This practice is a good mental health check. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sagging boobs, gassy, and feeling sexy!

When I was obese I used humor to make my fat not so suffocating to me. In doing so I would say things like: 

  • "At least with a rear as big as mine, when I run my butt flaps so wildly it almost sounds like I'm singing the Star Spangled Banner." 
  • "I'm so fat that when I pass gas you don't even noticed that I've just lost ten pounds." 
  • "I don't run because when I do my boobs hit me in the face and sandbags like that can really do damage!"

It was during that same segment of life I would get really ticked off at "skinny people" when they would complain and whine about needing to lose ten pounds. I think I was bothered by it because for most of my life (ages 12-33ish) I was either highly overweight or obese. 

Now I think I finally understand the need to lose ten pounds for what it is; regardless of any one particular person's weight. It's really about feeling good. 

Feeling good health-wise. Feeling better in how your clothes fit. Feeling less bloated. Feeling less in the way. Feeling socially, physically, and even more sexually desirable. Feeling less concerned and aware of how uncomfortable even your skin can be.

There's no one, two, or even three numbers on the scale that are the tipping point for when this happens. 

Simply put, your weight does not always coincide with the burden of feeling unhealthy, undesirable, or sexy enough.

The burden of feeling good is just as much of a psychological effort as it is a physical one. 

Oftentimes people choose not to exercise because they are sad or depressed. That is a mental health road block, not a physical one. That is when you believe that you are not worth the effort or that the effort won't make a difference.

When in this bad place not only exercise goes out the window, but so do spiritual endeavors, hobbies, and relationships. When this happens you start to also "not feel good".

Feeling desirable (and even sexy) has more to do with your perception of yourself than it does about how you actually look. 

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and actually saw you for who and what you are, rather than what you are not?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Crushed Heart Can Lead to Triumph

This is the moment. Just as imagined and hoped for. So much preparation has gone into getting to this exact point. Can a heart really pound this intensely without bursting? It's time to shine and overcome what you once thought was impossible. 

This is the description of a moment we have all experienced at some point. The nervousness, excitement, hope, and simultaneous dread; hoping all things go as dreamed, as imagined.

This is Sweet-pea's story. Sweet-pea is the fictitious name of a real person - my friend. 

Using my skills as a personal trainer, I volunteer at a center for developmentally delayed adults. This is where Sweet-pea and I met. 

The need for personal training with this special needs population is so high and often over-looked because it's not glamorous personal training. However, from my perspective, this is one of the populations that need it most. 

How would you feel bound to mobility aides, immobilizing braces, and straps? For a brief time at this center, about 20 of the patrons receive continued and personalized training throughout the week. A grant and volunteers makes this possible. Sweet-pea is one of the 20 who receive these benefits.

Sweet-pea is in her late 40's to early 50's and uses a wheelchair. She can't talk, but she gestures and nods "yes" and "no". Sweet-pea is strong-willed and as independent as she can be. She loves to tease and has a natural "Oh ya? Just watch me attitude." 

Sweet-pea's neck leans excessively forward (practically touching her clavicle) due to postural and upper body weakness. As directed by a physical therapist, we've been working with her to walk with the aid of a walker as we follow behind her with a wheel-chair to catch her (just in case). This week the goal was big and Sweet-pea was eager for it.

Sweet-pea was going to walk about 80-feet with only three rest stops. She was ready. She could see it and taste the victory. She was particular about a friend watching.  She was also specific that no one should get in her way as she walked the hall from point A to point B and back. She was nervous, but oh so ready for the challenge. So she began her walk.

For some reason there was an suddenly an unusual amount of hallway traffic and after 15 or so feet she gave up in anger and her heart was obviously crushed. Everyone was in the way. This was her time and the obstacles were too great. Crying and bitter she stopped.

Angry and yelling she wheeled herself away, crying and hurting she tried to hide. Sweet-pea's dreams, hope, and hard work seem to be for nothing from her perspective. My heart broke watching this breakdown. She was expressing herself the only way she could as language wasn't even hers to own.

I don't know how, but by some miracle me and her friend were able to talk her into coming back in to the gym room to finish a light workout. We were also able to reschedule "the great walk" for the next day during what we hoped would be a less busy hallway traffic time.

Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to be there for her the next day. I prayed for her and she was heavy on my mind all night.  I know the need to accomplish a goal like that. This was big and she was ready, but the circumstance was against her.

I was pleased to hear the next day that not only were the conditions just right for her, but she did "the great walk" and with only one rest stop! Though I wasn't there for it, I could see it in my mind's eye. 

Instead of her arm flailing in anger to motion people away and screaming in anger, I could see her arm triumphantly motioning the joy of success. I could hear her scream have the energy of an Olympic gold winning, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I could even feel the joy and relief from the other trainers and aids as her goal was met this time.

And with the previous nervousness, excitement, hope, and simultaneous dread; hoping all things go as dreamed, as imagined. There is now an equal sense of relief, accomplishment, satisfaction, and humility. This is just my feeling about Sweet-pea s adventure. I can't even imagine what she must be feeling. Go girl!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's About the Heart

"There's no drug in current or prospective use 
that holds as much promise for sustained health 
as a lifetime program of physical exercise."
~ Journal of the American Medical Association

In order to maintain a relatively healthy heart, okay metabolism, and some sort of functional flexibility, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following (see attached for complete info):
  • 150min of moderate intensity cardio.
  • 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps of a muscular endurance effort.
  • 2-3 days/wk focus on balance, flexibility, range of motion (R.O.M.) holds for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort and repeat that 2-4 times.
Most Americans do not do this and if they do, not very consistently or deliberately. The list above is just the minimum… To achieve more benefits the duration should increase to 250-300min/week; strength repetitions and intensity alter by increase in weights and decrease in reps/sets; balance, flexibility, R.O.M. challenged more than 3 times/wk.

Would you like to take the thought out of designing a way to achieve these healthy measures without committing to or commuting to a gym? 

Then seriously consider the following programs that can easily take you into the 250-300min/week-exercise recommendation from ACSM:
  • T25 (30min a day program with cardio, lifting your own body weight, range of motion)
  • P90X3 (30min a day program with cardio, lifting your own body weight, weights, flexibility, yoga, and range of motion)
  • ChaLEAN Extreme (38-48min a day program with cardio, lifting your own body weight, weights, flexibility, and range of motion – some high intensity training)
  • Tai Cheng (15-48min all focused on balance, flexibility, and range of motion – excellent addition to any cardio or strength training program)
There are many other programs that can give you similar benefits, but the aforementioned programs are some of the most time-commitment-friendly, physically repeatable, and excellent maintenance programs that take you to the 250-minutes or more a week of recommended physical exercise efforts.

Still want a trainer? In-person or virtual coaching? I can help there too! I'm a ACSM Certified personal trainer and Functional Movement Systems specialist. I LOVE designing programs that meet an individuals specific needs.

Above all, I would encourage you to take charge of your health, so that you can be engaged to the best of your ability (whatever level that is on) and participate in life with those you love.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Stop, Drop, and DO SOMETHING!

As much as I would love to write something amazing and get a lot of comments about it as well as have it change someones life, I would just like to leave you with this

If you have time to read a blog, then you have time to log out and go do something good for your body. STOP! Log out and go do something physical. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • walk outside (weather permitting)
  • do repeated efforts of walking up and down the stairs at work
  • hit the local gym for a 10min high-cardio stint
  • find an empty conference room, shut the door and door do lunges, push-ups, or stretch

Just go and do! 10-minutes, that's the challenge!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Needles and Drugs

You would think that after over ten years it would get easier to "shoot up"…. 

I get a lot of questions about multiple sclerosis (MS) and how I cope with it. At the base of these questions seem to be two main themes: 
1 - Needing to make decisions with regards toward personal medical management and being overwhelmed by it.
2 - By the uncertainty of knowing how to best help yourself when you really don't have a clue. 

Because of these frequent questions, I thought I would share how I personally came to the conclusion not only to "switch" drugs after being on the same treatment for over ten years, but also why I entered into a medical study as well.

When I was diagnosed in 2003, I selected a specific medication to treat my MS simply because it was a monster-sized needle. The needle made me feel like I was being just as aggressive back at my disease as it was being with me. But injecting over the years has never gotten any easier.

I was faithful and can say that I have never missed an injection. I am currently categorized as stable with medication. The injection anxiety has been increasing though. 

When a study became available that was essentially my same medication, just yet another different administration of it - I jumped on it. I'd been all of its other administrations, why not again? Though technically this is a different drug and in the end it will have a different commercial name.

The reason I was tempted was because I get to lose the monster-sized needle and I still get to use an auto-injector pen; which just makes things real slick for injections. 

Though the monster-needle goes away, I still get to be aggressive back at my MS, as the dosage amount jumps from 30mcg to 125mcg. An additional perk is that the injection is no longer every week, rather they are every other week.

So the logic behind switching made absolute sense for me: essentially the same drug, smaller needle, auto-injector pen, less frequent injections, but with an aggressive dosage amount.

I began the study drug in November and took four injections (8 weeks) to gradually work up to the full dose. I've not had any big changes in side-effects, in fact, so far the side-effects have apparently decreased. 

I have had some trials with my health during this transition though. I have been pretty darn sick since the beginning of December. Was it stress from school, being a mom, winter, increase in meds, or even a combination of all of the above? I've no idea. 

The real value of changing medications won't even be known until follow-up doctor appointments throughout the medical study and future MRI results. 

It is a risk, a gamble… but so is getting behind a wheel to drive. I don't know what will happen, but I am just going to drive assuming that I will arrive safely - regardless of the route I take.

So how am I best helping myself when I really don't have a clue what to do about my condition?

  • I'm taking charge of my medical management and participating in the decisions. 
  • I'm taking care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually, in hopes that it makes me a better follower of Christ, wife, mom, daughter, sibling, and friend.
  • I follow my gut, regardless of popular opinion.
  • I trust that I am doing the best for me.
  • I try my best to live as though each day were my last and at the same time, I make plans for the future.
  • I don't have time to be bitter, afraid, or drag my feet in indecision. This doesn't me I don't experience it, it just means I try not to be there for long.

I do these things, because I can. I may experience sadness and sorrow from time to time. I may struggle. Life is about living, serving, loving, laughing, and making memories. There's no doom in that; even if I have MS.

Right now my focus is on rebuilding my cardiovascular health after being so darn sick. I'm going to start right now by going to bed this instant. Yeah! Healing during sleep!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Death, Divorce, and Same-Sex Marriage

Wow, I have been contemplating life so much lately. This last little bit with my cousin's wife (five months younger than me) passing away really has thrown me. 

Here's my take home message from all my pondering:
This life isn't about you or me, rather it is about what we do for each other. Live, love, serve, be faithful, and repeat.

I've also seen several families fall apart this last year. In each case it was due to one of the following: "irreconcilable differences", disease, or infidelity (physical, mental, or emotional). I've been torn watching how kids are affected by this.

Here's my take home message from pondering these individual situations: 
Live, love, serve, be faithful, and repeat.

Then there's been a great deal in the Utah media about same-sex marriage. The big issue here is the assumptions that people make about what I must think about it, after all, I am: 
  • "Mormon" 
  • part of a military family
  • have a homosexual sibling.

I am sorry but that's a complex and contradictory combination (military, Mormon, homosexual sibling) and my answer to this topic is actually quite simple:
Live, love, serve, be faithful, and repeat.