Monday, April 23, 2012


  I'm not very good at organizing.  I wish I was.  I hate clutter, yet I'm surrounded by stacks and stacks of papers and books as I sit here at my computer.  I struggle to move the mouse to my computer around because there is an array of sticky notes hanging from the bottom of my computer screen and tons of mail...some opened and some not...and pens and cords to various devices all piled on my tiny little desk here in my bedroom.  I was just thinking this morning that I need to see if I can get a file cabinet that wouldn't look bad and some boxes to organize my work life.

As I thought about this, in between making more "to do" sticky notes and putting on makeup in my bathroom, I began to think about people...the ones in my day to day life...the ones I care the most about.  I was thinking about how I organize people into imaginary boxes with labels.  I expect different things from different people, and I give of myself in different ways depending on the "box" that people get put in.  So I started to review the people closest to me (besides my children) and before I knew totally normal, good, strong, "everything is just fine in the world" kind of mood took a turn and the tears began to fall.  Then, they began to flow.  I was filled with disappointment and sadness because I realized that a few of the people in the most important boxes...the ones I keep closest to me...don't really fit in those boxes the way I thought they did or the way I want them to and they take much more than they give.

As high maintenance and demanding as I can be at times...I am a giver.  My greatest desire in life is to help people and make others happy.  It's like the old Girl Scout camping should always leave your campsite better than you found it.  I try to leave people better than I found them.  I guess where the problem arises is that not everyone lives like a girl or boy scout and while the "Golden Rule" is what I try to live by...I don't get the same in return very often.  My first reaction was to blame the people that have let me down, but you know what they say..."When you point the finger at someone else, there's three pointing back at you!".  So, I had to put down the mascara brush that was now useless with tears flowing and take a good, hard look at the unhappy girl staring back at me in the mirror.
It may seem strange that I talk about this on a blog dedicated to strength.  It may seem to be a personal pity party or a rant and have nothing to do with being a strong woman, but I disagree and I know I'm not alone.  What I realized as I looked at myself in the mirror with tears streaming down both cheeks and wet spots on my t shirt where they fell, was that it's not everyone else's fault that I feel unfulfilled in many of my relationships.  Sure, people should be less selfish and be more willing to do what it takes to be there for the people they say they care about.  And yes, it would be nice if just a few of my daily interruptions were just someone that wanted me to know they were thinking about me...not because they need something, but just because they care.  I wish that the people that I listen to and give advice to, were as willing to listen and offered the same support that they are given...not because they have to, but because they want to.  At the same time, I realize that I have chosen who I give access to and how much I give them.  Some of the people that have had the most access in my life, really don't deserve it anymore.  This makes me sad and leaves me with questions.

After I stop trying to figure out what is wrong with ME, I finally ask myself the question, "WHY?".  Why are these people where they are in my life?  Why do I do the things I do and give the way I give when I am smart enough to see that there is little or no reciprocation?  I think there are 2 reasons.  The first is that sometimes it is because I want so desperately for a person to have a certain role in my life or fit into a certain "box".  It's like Cinderella's step sisters trying to force their feet into the glass slipper.  I try to cram the person where I want them and hope that somehow they will surprise me and fit.  I make excuses for them, even though deep down I know the truth.  I want people to care about me the way I care about them, but I know that I have no control over other people's feelings.
Probably the most important reason that I am struggling with my relationships is because I am taking the seemingly easy way out and choosing to ignore the problem.  I'm letting fear and grief take the reins.  It's like it's easier to muddle along and have half a** relationships that leave me unfulfilled, than it is to "clean house".  I can lie to myself and fantasize that someday it will be different...better.  I cry when my feelings are hurt and then I quickly suck it up and pull myself together in an attempt to feel strong and in control.  The problem is that as long as fear and grief are taking the reins...I don't have any way to steer myself towards another path.  I have to take the reins back and make some tough decisions.  Maybe a very few people and their "boxes" need to be tossed out, while others need to be put in different "boxes"...the kind that have very limited use...the kind that I don't give so much time and attention to, but that I can still access for very specific purposes with no expectation of anything in return.  These are the kinds of boxes that don't sit so close to me, but find a new home in the attic or garage...somewhere far enough away that they won't be so distracting..somewhere that they won't get in my way or drain my strength when I have to move them.

Life can be such a vicious circle of cause and effect when we do not make the right choices.  It's like I need to find the strength to make these changes, but my strength is drained because of the unhappiness that these problems are causing.  Change in any form is tough, but some changes are easier for us than others.  Everyone has their weaknesses and mine is the people that I care about.  I have survived some terrible things in my life that not many people know about.   I've conquered major weight loss, and I can always find the strength to workout or begin eating healthier, but it's people...sometimes the seemingly closest to me...that I have a hard time being strong enough to deal with.  It's hard for me to set boundaries and deal with the possibility of people walking away from me or getting mad at me.  Maybe some of you struggle with the same thing.  If so, it's time to make changes.  It's time to believe that you are worth being treated with love and respect.
I know deep down that I am strong enough to make these decisions, and here's what I know about strength.  My strength is not just about moving heavy weight or how fast I can do a workout.  My strength isn't just about the quotes and pictures that I use to inspire people.  My strength does not come from making changes that come easier to me.  Strength is about doing things that are really hard for me.  Strength is trying again when I fail.  Strength is knowing that I may have to stand alone and being brave enough to do it.  Strength is deciding what is best for myself and then taking action...real action...and standing tall in the matter what.  I know what I need to do.  I have some serious housekeeping and organization in front of me and I am going to dig deep to find the strength to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

..."the bad stuff is easier to believe"...

I love the movie "Pretty Woman".  I know that in simple terms, it's an unrealistic movie about a prostitute that finds her "Prince Charming" and gets "rescued"...and I also get that it probably glamorizes a very terrible, unglamorous, way of life...BUT...I still love it and watch it every time it comes on TV.  There's always been one scene that I have related to.  It's the scene where she talks about how it's easier to believe the bad things than the good.  It's like it's me talking...the me that not many people see...the old, hurt me that I have tried really hard to overcome.  I've done a pretty good job at trying to let go of the past and the thoughts that sometimes haunt me.  I've tried to ignore the negative thoughts that sometimes enter my mind.  I've tried to forget hurtful words that I let shape and define me for too long.
 When I saw the picture above on a friend's Facebook page that says, "Don't believe everything that you think" it made me stop and think about my thoughts and how they shape they effect my day and my decisions.  I thought about how hard it is for me to accept a compliment or believe the good things that people tell me some days.  After I discount a compliment or ignore something good someone is telling me, I always regret it.  I always wonder why I didn't just smile and say "Thank you!".  I get so frustrated with myself and think that with all the nice things I hear these days...why do I struggle to believe those words at times?

I realize looking at that picture that even though it's been a long time since I was told I was "ugly" by a boy in 7th grade...even though it's been many years since I suffered from betrayal or dishonesty...even though I've turned my life around and made something very positive out of some negative things that I went thoughts have not changed as much as they should.  I tell myself mean things at times.  I can limit and defeat myself when I focus solely on my weaknesses instead of celebrating my many talents and strengths.  I've learned to grow a thicker skin and ignore the things that may be said about or to me in the past couple of years.  So I guess what I've figured out is that other people are not as much of a problem as I am.  These days, it's my own voice and my own thoughts that I need to change.
If we tell ourselves over and over that we are not worthy...if we constantly look in the mirror and focus on what we don't like...if we beat ourselves up internally for every mistake...and we do it over and over and over again...soon it will become easier to believe those things than it will to believe the good.  Don't do this to yourself!  It sounds like a daunting impossible situation to change, but it's not.  Just like most things in life, it takes practice.  It takes chasing those negative thoughts out of your mind and embracing and believing the good that comes your way.  Sometimes, we just have to do it even when it doesn't come natural.  We have to "pretend" to be the person we want to become.  We have to embrace the good characteristics and begin making them ours.  If you begin behaving as though you are valuable and worthy of compliments and good thoughts, soon it will become a habit and you will become a different person.

Stop believing everything that you think and stop believing the bad.  Make a decision today that you will change and set your course in a different direction.  This one change can affect every aspect of your life in and outside of the gym and bring you happiness and success that you may be missing out on.  It may be easier to believe the "bad" and hard to change your thoughts, but anything worthwhile is not easy.

* The picture at the top that was the inspiration for this blog post is from the SoMuchMore Facebook page.  Please go visit this page and "Like" it!  It's an uplifting, great page that provides daily inspiration for a unique new website!  CLICK HERE to visit the page!

Monday, April 2, 2012

piCkeD LaSt iN gYm...

I was never athletic growing up.  I never played a team sport...ever...and I never played sports in school either.  In fact, P.E. was a miserable thorn in my side EVERY day that I went.  The feeling of dread that I experienced as I was dressing out before class was overwhelming, and the feeling of being a loser that I experienced for that hour everyday was even worse!  I could never climb the rope and when it came to being chosen for "teams"...I was almost always last or close to it.  Anyone who has "stood on the line" waiting to be picked...hearing everyone else's name be called as there are less and less people...knows that feeling.

I remember the day I had fulfilled my P.E. requirements in 10th grade and I no longer had to go.  I was overjoyed!  And so began an adult life where I avoided anything athletic.  I was conditioned to believe that because I wasn't good at it naturally, that it meant I never would be and I should accept it and not put any effort into it.  I had never belonged to a gym in my life until I was 34 years old.

I joined a gym because I was overweight and miserable.  Everyday was a struggle.  I was out of breath and tired and my own reflection repulsed me.  Although I always tried to look my best, I was often treated like I was invisible in stores.  There was even a day that a salesman stopped waiting on me in the middle of me trying to purchase a car stereo to wait on a young, thin, pretty girl.  It took me right back to gym being picked last...only because they were forced to.  I hung my head and walked out with my toddler on my big hip.  No one even noticed I was gone.  I sat in the parking lot in my mini van and cried uncontrollably.
So, when I decided to join a gym and get in shape, I was really scared.  I found a safe all women's gym...on the tiny downtown strip in my small town.  Most of the women were just like me...or at least I thought they were.  I was younger than most and they treated me nice.  My confidence began to grow...just a little.  By the time the gym went out of business almost a year later, I had lost 70 lbs.  I was no longer heavy.  In fact, I was VERY thin.  Although my confidence had grown, I was nervous about joining a "big gym" with men and women.  Still, I was loving working out and I wasn't gonna stop so I pretended to be brave and I signed up at a local gym.

It was there that I met the man that started out as my trainer and ended up one of my best friends.  I was a reluctant participant in a free 1 hour session with him, but through the course of events, I became his regular client for a year.  My life forever changed.  I was still NOT naturally athletic.  I was awkward and clumsy, and I had no sense of balance.  I wasn't accustomed to doing things I wasn't good at.  Those were the things I avoided in the year before.  Wes didn't allow that.  He pushed me...hard.  He knocked me down when I got too big for my britches and he built me up when I was feeling low.  When he moved away, I had to learn to do it on my own...and I did.  By the time I became a personal trainer myself, I was no longer the girl no one wanted on their team.  I was the girl leading the team...the one that everyone knew they could count on to go a little faster and fight a little harder.
Today...I can do pullups, and I can climb a rope...not one like we had in gym class with knots...a real rope.  Today...I may not always be first, but I'm also very rarely last.  Today...I have confidence in my ability, and I no longer dread walking into a gym.  The gym has become my refuge...a place I feel comfortable.  I know I'm not the only one with bad memories of gym class.  I know I'm not the only one to ever be picked last.  There may be people that read this that still feel that way at times...people afraid to try something new because they don't want to fail...people that feel like the last kid standing when the teams are being picked.  YOU CAN CHANGE THAT.  You do not have to be THAT kid anymore.  Face your fears and learn to do things you never thought you could.  Every time you think about NOT "dressing out" for the gym...change your mind and GO.  Every time you want to say, "I'm not athletic."...think of me.  Start today.  See yourself differently and decide that you will no longer be picked last in gym!