Archive for April, 2012

The Gardenia Bush

April 27th, 2012 | 1 comment

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

~Anatole France~

I told them I was worried about them moving the Gardenia bush.  I stood behind Stephen and Brady on the bright Saturday morning and  lamented as they started to dig.  The root system was deep and they damaged some of the smaller roots as it was pulled from its resting place below the kitchen window of our house, to be replaced by a small fountain my husband loved. The fountain is a another story for a different day.

We were simply moving it.  People move plants all the time. But I just did not have a good feeling about it.  I had come to love the gardenia bush.  I symbolized my love for the south, with its fragrant blooms and lush green leaves.  But move it we did.

That was May of 2007.

In spring of 2008, I stood in our back yard, and I looked at the Gardenia bush in the new location.  Stephen and Brady both heard it, the “I told you this was not a good idea” thoughts.  Because what was before me was half of a gardenia bush.  One side looked like a bunch of sticks ready for the next fire, and the other half looked like a gardenia bush shedding leaves.  Instead of lush green leaves with fragrant white blooms all over, it was yellowish and sad, with one lone bloom hanging on a branch.  If that bloom could talk, it would say,

“For the love of God woman, what have you done to me?”

Summer of 2009, the balance of the bush had shifted.  More dead branches than alive, and one sad bloom on the very bottom of the bush, almost as if it could not muster the energy to create anything very far from the earth which it emerged.  I looked at the gardenia bush that summer, weeks after losing Stephen, and it both broke my heart, and confirmed that everything dies.  It was a sad summer, and somehow, the gardenia bush was exhibiting a growth pattern that showed how I was feeling in my own life.  Just like me, it was barely hanging on.

Summer 2010, couple of leaves, pretty much dead, but I could not let Brady cut it back.  it reminded me of happier times, laughter in the back yard.  So we left it and ignored it, and pretended that we did not notice the mass of dried sticks next to our other blooms in the back. Perhaps visitors would think it was part of the wood pile for the fire pit.

Summer 2011.  Enough already.  It’s gone.  Chop it.  Get rid of it.  Brady did, but we decided to leave the stump and roots.  We could not say goodbye just yet.  But, honestly, the thing was becoming a fire hazard, and an eyesore.  Cut back to the ground, we planted flowers in the space for the summer, and figured we would dig up the stump next year.  Time to move on.  For some reason, it hurt.  I had planted and killed so many other things in the yard but I was attached to the Gardenia.  Perhaps because it was connected to memories.

Spring 2012.  We have our yard all in order.  Spring is my favorite time in North Carolina.  The warmth is back but the humidity has not hit yet, so it is just blissful to be outside enjoying the sunshine.  My husband, son and I worked outside to make everything perfect.  In assessing where we needed to plant, we walked to the area where the stump sat in the ground.  And, much to our surprise, a small, lush green gardenia bush sits in the spot.  It has a way to go, but it is healthy, and it is beautiful. I kind of think Stephen is smiling, telling me “I told you it would be okay.”

I look at the gardenia each morning, and smile at the similarities between my own life and the life of this fragile plant.  At one point, I felt like I died too.  And, slowly, over the past few years, I have cut away what was hurting me, to allow a new and better self to emerge.  I cut out people and ideas that were growing negativity in my own life, and feel this spring, I am starting to see the results of  the difficult changes that bring transformation.

My lesson in all of this?  Much like my gardenia, in life we need to prune away what is killing us to help ourselves heal.  We need to be brave, and realize that it is not the end.

So today, take a moment and dig out the pruning shears for your own life.  Anything need to be trimmed?

Have a fantabulous Friday,


71 days….When the Week Kicks Your…

April 23rd, 2012 | 2 comments

Problems are messages.

~Shakti Gawain~

Some days are good, and others are not.  It is the balance of life.  I understand that.  But for all the miles I have traveled, and all the lessons I have learned, it never ceases to surprise me when a day sucks me into a deep funk. That seemed to be the theme for me last week.

I have been working good on my 100 day challenge, but for all my hard work and focus on my health, I have probably not listened to that pesky inner voice of mine….telling me to slow down for a bit.  To take a breather, or to let go of the pressure I place upon myself to check everything off on the list. The to-do list when you release a book and publicize it via grassroots marketing is pretty much endless.  One can feel like you are taking two steps forward and fourteen back.

So for weeks now, I have ignored that inner alarm bell.  The one telling me to press the pause button.  Take a breath.  Think about why you do this…think about your purpose in all of this.

And so, last week was the perfect storm.  I came down with a cold like no other, and ended up sleeping for about three days. In the awake moments, I questioned what the heck I was doing with my life….my back hurt, my foot was wonky, and I was throwing a big old pity party for myself….Most days, people would think I am cheery and fun, positive thinker, and promoter of all things JOLT.  But the reality is, I struggle just like everyone else to forge a happy life in less than perfect circumstances.  Most times, I spend half my time plowing forward with the vision of what I think I am supposed to be doing, and the second half of my time questioning my motivation and sanity.  I used to be….that is how those self-doubt conversations start with me.

“I used to be.”

I used to be a lot of things before….before I became a parent, before I lost my parents, before I married, before I was in the corporate world, before I divorced, before I married again, before I lost my child, before I tried to change my life and help others with the use of gratitude.

But I’m not who I used to be anymore.  Now, I am a woman who writes like the world is going to run out of words, trying to get them all down before they recede back into my mind.  Now I am a woman who feels compelled to spread a little happiness, and little of the good stuff around.  I am a woman who feel the need to tell others that, “You’re going to be okay.  You’re going to make it.” Now I am a woman who, because of all those changes, is still trying to figure out where I fit in life, because there are parts of my life that don’t fit anymore. I am a woman who sometimes forgets to tell herself to take a moment, or tell the people who love her that she needs a little dose of comfort herself.

What I do these days has no formal job description.  There is no performance evaluation after my probationary period from Human Resources with this job.  The feedback I get is in the response to what I put out there…some love it, some hate it.  Some tell me what I can do with my gratitude, and some tell me how it has changed them.  Some question my motives, and others questions my sanity. And no matter how hard I work at it, it is never done.  And regardless of the feedback, I have to press on, because I simply know this is what I am supposed to be doing.

And so 71 days in to my 100 day challenge, what do I know?

  • I am strong, even when I am weak.

  • I can do this.  Even when I don’t think I can, I can do this.

  • When your foot hurts, rest it silly.

  • That, when I become scared, or question what I am doing with my life, I immediately go back to what I used to be as the measure for my success.  And, as this challenge is teaching me, I am pretty sure I had some sort of chocolate and caramel “medicine” that made that go away before….and now, without that, I am dealing with the feelings of fear that I have had all along….they were just coated in caramel sauce before.  It’s time for me to face it….I will never be the same as I used to be.  And that is not a bad thing, because for every fork in the road of my life, I have grown as a person, I have picked up a little wisdom.

  • That this really is more of a head game than I thought it would be.  Sure, it is calories in, calories out, work your butt off….but the mind and how it motivates you.  I am learning so much about that.

  • I know I have to give myself a pat on the back every now and again…for how far I’ve come.  Not only with this 100 day challenge, but with my life in general.  I am still very much a work in progress, but we are working overtime to get this just right….

  • That all those quotes I send out to my JOLT’ers….are meant for me too.  Like this one.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
~ Lao Tzu~

To close, 71 days left and feeling better, the scale continues to be my friend, even if I do have conditions attached to our relationship.  I am doing this, focused on the end result, and learning lessons about myself that I did not anticipate.  I expect by July 4th I will be able to talk about another “used to be” version of myself, but be proud of the growth that has happened on this journey.

Take some time today to pay attention to your thoughts.  Are they bringing you closer to what you want or leading you to believe things can’t work?


77 Days Left..Measuring Success..

April 17th, 2012 | no comments

Energy and persistence conquer all things.

~Benjamin Franklin~

77 days left, means 23 days in.  According to Stephen Covey, it takes about 21 days to make a habit.  So, if that is the truth, we should be well on the way towards a healthy life that comes more naturally.

I have to say, the journey so far has been pretty good.  I like the countdown, and it is keeping me focused.

I am getting to know myself, and realizing that numbers and measurements are important tools for me when it comes to gauging success. The scale, the measuring tape, the calendar, the number of steps I take each day, and my caloric balance are all things I am watching closely.  They all push me forward, giving me feedback that I am in fact doing it.  I am sticking with it.  But they also have the ability to taunt me, to mock me, to tell me this will never work.  So, I need to watch the numbers, but not live by them.  I need to balance the data with how I FEEL, how my pants fit, and how proud I am for keeping the promise to myself.

Some days, the measurements don’t tell the story fo your effort.  You want them to, they really should, but they don’t.  You eat carrot sticks, and the scale implies you eat doughnuts.  I guess the key is not to let it derail you, to keep going on your path towards health.

Here’s the update:

Eating:  We have added some carbohydrates back into our meal plan..nothing too crazy, just things like a baked potato or brown rice.  Still no refined sugar…..and I could not be happier.  The cravings for it are gone, and let me just say it is about time.

Exercise:  Let me count the steps.  I have been walking a lot. I try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day, and that usually gets me to my calorie burn as well.  I have also continued with the Tracey Anderson workout.  I have not reached the point of graceful yet, but I  get it done.  My right foot has been giving me some issues, I think from the increased activity and the movement of my foot.  I have new sneakers that seem to be more supportive, so hopefully, that will do the trick.  I am finding it easier to make the workout part of my day.  In fact, I am starting to look forward to it.

Emotions:  It is funny, but the emotions are what are changing the most in this little 100 day challenge.  I am learning a lot about myself and my coping mechanisms.  I am learning that in all the words I wrote to heal my broken heart, I had certain foods and behaviours as my companion; I could even say crutch.  They kept me safe as I dealt with the devastation of my life.  You could take away a lot from me, but the toasted coconut ice cream still remained.  Many days, it was my one little thing.  A quick and easy fix, confirmation that there was goodness in the world, and it was frozen and placed in a waffle cone before me.  So, now, with my heart somewhat mended, I am strong enough to release those things from my life and replace them with other things like exercise, and stepping back into the world.  I have lived a life of mostly solitary reflection, and my feelings about my physical size allowed me to do that.  It has allowed me to keep my distance.  But no more.  This is the Year of Ready. I don’t beat myself up for this past behaviour. It is what it is….it worked for me at the time, when I had no excess emotional strength to deal with one more issue in my life.  But it doesn’t fit anymore, which is kind of what I hope to say about my pants real soon.

So, where does day 77 find me?  A little stiff and sore, a few inches smaller and a few pounds lighter.  But most importantly, it finds me happy, knowing that the true measure that counts in my success is how I feel.

If you are doing your own 100 day challenge, I would love to hear from you.  Drop me a line.

Hope you are having a tremendous Tuesday JOLT’ers…



85 Days-What Challenges Me Changes Me…

April 9th, 2012 | no comments
Image courtesy of Google Images

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

~Fred Devito~

Okay, 85 days left in our 100 day challenge.  And, I am learning so much.

We are still super committed to the 100 day challenge, but let’s just say we have made peace with the fact that we may not enjoy every moment. In fact, my husband and I have both responded to the “How was the workout?” question with a shrug, an eye roll, and a tired answer of,

“It’s done.  That’s all I’ve got today.”

We knew it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and roses.  Nobody said it would be easy.

And that is what I’m learning.  It’s not supposed to be. Change happens in an environment of friction.  It’s funny how I seem to have to learn that lesson over and over, in different circumstances in my life.

Life is funny.  For whatever reason, we have been convinced ourselves that things should be easy.  No matter how many time life proves that theory to be incorrect, we continue to believe that everything should be able to be resolved in the same way they so expertly do it in a 30 minute sitcom. But life takes work.  Life takes effort.  It requires you to show up and to really feel.

And so I am showing up.  I am applying what I learned about living a life of gratitude and resilience to sweating off the cellulite.  And once again, I am reminded that it is all about your commitment to change and your attitude.

Exercise: Pushing through the workouts.  Some days it is easy, and on others, the only word that describes it is slog.  Is that a word? But each day, we do it.  I walk my 10,000 steps, I crunch my abs, I burn the allocated calories to ensure a deficit that will allow weight loss.  And I remind myself of the bigger picture.  I find early day workouts are better for me. Somedays I feel good from beginning to end, somedays I feel good only at the end, and somedays I slog.  But each day, we do.  And that is what counts.

Eating: We are doing well.  Portion sizes shrinking, still staying away from refined carbohydrates.  We stayed away from the Easter chocolate, did have a piece of the sugar-free version as a treat.  We are trying new recipes, and feeling good about the menu these days. I am learning, as we go along, about my relationship with food as a comfort for difficult emotions.

Emotions: As I said, I have labeled 2012 as the “Year of Ready.”  I am ready to make the changes, to turn the corner.  I feel emotionally strong enough to take the next step in my life. But the year of ready does not happen without applying yourself.  So, each day, I:

  • Review my goals.  I remind myself of what I want to accomplish.  I keep track of the days, so I can see that 100 days is not that long, so I had better stay committed. It is a struggle for me sometimes, the balance between living in the moment and looking out over the horizon.  I am working on it.
  • Listen to positive affirmations.  When I first started to listen to positive affirmations, I felt like I was in an episode of Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley. But each time gets better, and serves as a reminder that the self talk does not need to be negative.
  • Meditate.  Empty my mind, and just be.  Okay, I’m trying, but did I mention the file folders in my brain?  Quieting my mind is not an easy task.  but I am working on it.  Pema Chodron’s iTunes collection really helps me.  And I will be honest.  A couple of my attempts at meditation did turn into the most wonderful naps.  I think that is okay too.

The results?  The scale is moving in the right direction, the measurements are confirming progress.  And I am feeling good about challenging myself to become a healthier version of me.

Okay, off to exercise…

I think I can, I think I can…


Day 93-Love Thyself

April 1st, 2012 | no comments

Clear your mind of can’t. -Samuel Johnson

Hitting the first week mark of the 100 day JOLT challenge, and we are still going strong. It feels good to have set a goal, and even better to have shared it with you all.  Putting it out there makes it real for me, and makes me accountable.  That’s a good thing.  I will tell you below what we are doing.  Please note, we are in no way experts in any of this, just a husband and wife who want to fit into their summer clothes and feel good.

Eating: We are counting calories and limiting our carbohydrates ( not eliminating, just limiting).  We are looking for healthier choices of non processed foods, and we are watching our intake. We have pretty much eliminated processed sugar.  The first few days were tough, but once that sugar was gone, I started to feel better. And, my appetite stabilized.  It’s funny, as we are not following a specific and regimented diet….we are just doing the things you know you need to do.

Exercise:  we have recommitted to exercise 5-6 days per week.  That exercise can come in any form we choose, provided we get our target caloric burn.  I have also decided that I would like to try to get my 10,000 steps per day.  I wear a bodybugg, a device that I put on my arm to measure my calorie burn.  I connect it to my computer and upload the information, and enter what I ate, and it shows me my caloric balance.  For me to lose two pounds a week, I need to have a deficit of 1000 calories per day, as there are roughly 3500 calories in a pound. I love the instant feedback of a bodybugg, as it tells you if you are doing it or not.  We have both weighed ourselves and measured.

We walk, both on the treadmill and outside.  I have started to do the Tracey Anderson Mat workout, and I love it.  It looks like it should be easy, and it is not.  But the workout flows nicely and goes fast.  I am trying to do that every second or third day.

Emotions:  And here’s the important one.  We all know what we need to eat and how we should be moving through our life.  But our thinking, this is where it gets tricky.  You see, half the time, we don’t even realize what we are saying to ourself as we look in the mirror.  We are not fully aware of the self talk that is happening each moment of the day.

I have had a long relationship with my weight.  I also understand that part of this weight is related to the emotions of losing Stephen.  I have allowed it to both comfort me, and perhaps keep others at arm’s length.  But it is time to let it go.  Recently, I was getting ready for a speaking engagement, and as I stood in the mirror, I was focused on my midsection.  Let’s just be honest folks. I do not have washboard abs.  I looked at this section of my body, tugged at my shirt, checked to see how my jacket would conceal it, interrogated my husband about it. (poor guy just can’t win in that line of questioning)

And then I realized.  I am going to talk to a room full of people about positive thinking, gratitude and hope.  And here I am, only seeing my waistline and the size of my arse in my bathroom mirror.  Does that make sense?

It doesn’t.

So, I am going to change it.  You might think I am talking about change by losing weight.  No, the first step in change for me is reminding myself that I am beautiful before I lose an ounce.  I am okay.  I am deserving.

Positive thoughts produce positive results.

I have labeled this year,

The Year of Ready

I am ready to step out, and not only write but speak.  I am ready to let go of the things that bind me, and I am ready to push beyond my limits.  I am ready to see my beautiful, imperfect self and love it.  But I am also ready to give it a fighting chance.  To give myself some love.  It’s time to take the next step.

So, each day, I am meditating. I am becoming aware of my thoughts, refocusing them on the positive and keeping my promise to me.

So, if you are joining us on the 100 day JOLT, or if you are working through your own challenges, remember this.  The first step is believing in yourself, and recognizing the power and beauty that sits within you, always, without chaging one darn thing.  Just the way you are….

If you have decided to join us on our 100 day JOLT, feel free to email me.  We would love to share your successes with the group, or maybe you have some helpful tips for others.

Have a great week JOLT’ers,