Not for the Faint of Heart

There are a few things in life I have not necessarily been brave enough to try on my own.  First time admitting it.  Feels good.  Like therapy.  Or at least what I think therapy would or could feel like if I were to ever try it.  I am not sure if I’m motivated to afford myself, actually. 

I mean I can secure a parking spot at the mall during holiday season with no problem.  It does not matter that Grandma Ruth over there just wants to grab one more box of Legos for little Johnny this year, if she circles that spot more than once, she’s out.  (Valet was made for one reason: for the non-decision makers of the world, I’m sure of it.) 

But skydiving, spray tan booths and radical group exercises are among my lists of phone-a-friend first kind of activities.  Being blonde, sometimes we make irrational decisions.  Like if we have said we will NEVER do such-and-such or this-and-that it does not mean we will not wake up some random Tuesday morning and decide it sounds like a perfectly reasonable adventure.  Maybe this is part of being female, too.  Does it make sense to the average person, next door neighbor, best friend or even ourselves?  Perhaps, not.  Will it be fun?  You bet!

            This is how I found myself in a body pump class in the middle of an otherwise normal sunny afternoon.  Now fitting into medium shirts and able to do average exercises like getting in a run AND going to work on the same day, I was feeling pretty motivated.  (Otherwise major physical undertakings were reserved for days off when my energy meter was full and no one was home to watch me struggle to walk afterward.)  I mean, I was no longer just walking the sidewalks and jogging the intersections.  I was serious. I was hardcore.  There were a variety of ladies in all shapes and sizes lining up for this class and my intimidation level was moderate to low.  I’ve got this.  I was actually excited about it.

            The weight bar was 15 pounds in itself.  Still ok.  I tested it out a few times, then selected a medium -sized weight with the lowest number possible.  It added on another 5 pounds.  Ok, cool.  I mean, my groceries feel this much, at least.  Our instructor was about 10 years my junior and fresh out of college.  She still had ambition and lots to live for, and she decided to demonstrate it all on this day.  Some electric metal music track came on and we were off and running.  We lifted and lugged, we squatted and stretched, we bounced up and down and pumped our hearts out.  My lungs were getting tight and heart rate had been up for a while, I was starting to feel the burn.  I looked up at the clock to see 15 minutes had passed by.  Oh, good…halfway over.  The woman in front of me had a sweat stain the size of Texas spanning the length of her Lululemon tank and I suddenly did not feel so bad about how many times I had to gasp for air.  We were all suffering for a good cause. 

            Workout Barbie gave us a 30 second break, “Grab some water, ladies!”  A few of the class members, who were brunettes and of the prepared sort, grabbed the bottles next to their workout mats and chugged away.  Some stretched out for a second and let their muscles relax.  Two of them collapsed on the floor, looks of regret for this time in their lives they had lost and could never get back, and three of them shuffled to the back fountain like water buffalo, fully intending on it taking AT LEAST 5 minutes to make it back to the front of the room.

            A few precious seconds later our time was over and we grabbed our bars.  Squatting having never been on my list of things to master or earn a degree in, I was really feeling this class in my thighs.  Thank God, only 14 more minutes and I can post this accomplishment on Facebook and go on with my life.  The music blasted again and we picked up where we left off.  I was counting down the minutes like it was the last day of school before summer.  Ten minutes left and we were doing dead lifts from our feet on up.  I reach over, removed my weight blocks and let my weights rest on the floor.  Surely fifteen pounds with the bar would be enough to finish.  I still felt accomplished and continued on.  Five minutes left and I slowed down, maybe she would not notice I was off tempo.  Maybe she would chalk it up to me being blonde.  Two minutes left and I stopped looking at her altogether.  I stared at the trees out the window, focused on getting a little more air in my lungs and figuring out a strategy on how to stay alive for 60 more seconds.  One more minute….45 seconds, 30, 15. 

Author NOT pictured

            “Break!” She yells.  “Great job, get some water, we’re halfway!”  Oh no, did she say half?  My arms feel like Gumby and I have lost all sensation in my toes.  This is an hour class? I considered dying as an option out.  I frantically looked around at my classmates to assess their reactions.  Were there any other blondes here?  Did anyone else see the panic across my face?  A few seemed scared, but it was hard for me to see with all the sweat in my eyes.  Holy buckets, where’s the door?  The music started again and I jolted and started moving.  I abandoned my bar altogether and tried to fake the movements along, trying to strategize how I could sneak away.  42 minutes into this class, I decided humiliation was my only option.  I bent over right in the middle of Eclecto Jams and rolled up my mat.  You got me today, world. 

I hung my head and headed for the back of class.  I heard a bunch of scuffling and fully anticipated to turn and find everyone staring at the poor short girl with the red, splotchy face and the weird sweat stains.  Instead four of them were right behind me.  “Go!” They said, “We’ll cover you!”  We all ran like a heard of baby llamas into the hallway, laughing and snorting.  “I didn’t think I was going to make it out alive!” I laughed.  One of them turns, “My husband never believes me when I say I do these things, he thinks I just come and lounge by the pool or get a massage.”  One of them pipes up, “Yeah, a massage…great idea!  Let’s do that instead!”

            I limped out to the car, shaking my head.  I wonder how buff my legs will look tomorrow?  That’s the best 42 minutes they’ve seen in a while!  I might buy some new sandals and a shorter dress.  Oh, yeah baby…life is sweet.

Rachel Asks: Who is hitting their workout goals this year? How are you staying motivated? What is your favorite workout? Comment below!

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Just Breathe

How close are we to God?

Just breathe.

Let the life sustaining air that he created fill your lungs and give you strength for the next moment.

Sometimes prayer does not feel like enough because there are not words to describe what your heart truly needs. Sometimes worship seems distant, unobtainable, impossible to behold with all life’s circumstances.

Just breathe. 

In.

Out.

And in again.

Until it feels like peace washing over you. Until the spirit runs through your being, filling in the broken, missing, empty spaces longing for wholeness, healing, completion.

You have touched heaven.

You have found the source of life.

Just breathe.


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What Speaks Loudly

What Speaks Loudly

I open the fridge to find it just sitting there.

Delicately packaged, neatly arranged, ready and prepared for a new day is my husband’s lunch. I sigh, immediately slump my shoulders and feel the weight of defeat. Regrettably thoughts rush through my mind. Why do I even try? What’s the point?

I had come home from work the evening before after a long day of stopping at the repair shop for the car, rushing to work because of the delay, leaving late trying to get everything accomplished, stopping at the grocery store to ensure ingredients were on hand for the week, only to arrive home far past dark and 20 minutes before the little one’s bed time.

Does he even understand everything that demands my time?

Husband had prepared dinner for the kids and kept a bowl warm in the oven, a healthy morsel awaiting my arrival after the day. I appreciate him for these things. For the small acts of kindness that fill in the voids that time demands and the day seizes. Left to my own devices I probably would have eaten a handful of peanuts.

However, to my delight a warm bowl of rice and seasoned pork sat on hand, the perfect temperature and deliciously prepared. I consumed enough to quiet the sounds of hunger gnarling inside and without taking a seat or pause, began preparing for the next day. Lettuce to peel, radishes to slice, tomatoes to quarter. Meat folded neatly on bread and wrapped just the same. Yogurt and berry cups prepared for the morning. Lunch cases organized and placed on the middle shelf, I felt accomplished and finally went to change for the evening, ready to shake off the days ventures.

Now, here it sits.

Not forgetting his own sacrifice of time and love the night before, I had purposefully appreciated it and offered words of gratitude to him.

Encountering the forgotten efforts the next day left me feeling a little deflated.

The little one and I loaded up in the car and headed for her school drop off. I messaged him about the abandoned meal. He messages back a sad face and intent to get a granola bar from the vending machine to hold him over. Immediately my heart softens and my frustration melts away.

It wasn’t purposefully ignored, just simply forgotten.

I considered my agenda for the day and realizing I had enough time to help, I made a new plan.

Little one now in class, I head for the store. I carefully examine prepared meals until I find one that appears diet-friendly and that he might enjoy.

Veggies, lemonade, yogurt and a fruit bar later, a new meal is ready to go. I stop by the coffee station on my way out and pick him up a medium roast. A gesture of love on what was is usually a busy morning of meetings and hectic schedules for him. I head east and swing past his office. He greets me with a kiss and a heartfelt thank you.

Nothing else really matters than this. This is marriage. The delicate balance of support and concern, of friendship and gratitude, of making life happen together.

I desire love to be the loudest voice in my life.

I hope it echoes off the walls of insecurity and finds its way into the smallest crevices of my heart, like a flood searching for a turbulent exit. May it twist and wind, rush and flow, surge and roll until every last susceptible nook and cranny are overflowing with its abundance.

May it tear at the roots of frustration and discontent, washing it far away from the new buds of concern and affection.

May I always be willing to love first and demand last, to hope with abandon and run fervently towards compassion.

This usually requires a removal of self, the awareness of emotion that is offered for others and not wrapped tightly around the center of my own desires. It is sometimes a daily occurrence, this allowing of the satisfaction of others to satisfy myself.

Yet, its the sweetest taste of life I have ever known.

Intentional Attitude

Intentional Attitude

There are two shiny, red corvettes.  I’m not entirely sure of the year, but from the cut of the fenders, the glisten of the cherry paint and the muscley-muscleness they represent, I’d say they are a 70’s model.  Sure, they are probably from the 70’s.  My step-children are intent on arguing which one is theirs, however.  The little one insists the one in her brother’s hand is IN-FACT hers and the other, identical one on the counter belongs instead to him.

It doesn’t matter, I admonish.

They are the same car.  We bought them on the same day, at the same time, from the same store.  They came in the same style box and you both liked the same car. For goodness sake, each take one of them and go play.  She sighs a huge sigh, shoots her brother a death-look and takes the other car from the counter, likely to create some sort of Evel Knievel-style launching system from which to shoot it from. 

It’s tough, this game of possession and the level of importance we assign to the objects, the things, the stuff that “belongs” to us. 

As a matter of fact, I’m of the persuasion that we really own very little in our lives.  I feel we are more gifted an authority over things and we get to choose how to execute the stewardship of those things.

This stewardship is ours to command, from work to home and back again.

I have a home.  A home I purchased and work for and pay for.  However, when I am done with the use of this particular dwelling, when it has served it’s purpose in my life, or I decide to move on from this place, I will relinquish ownership to the next purchaser and it will no longer belong to me. 

So, rather than get prideful about the place that I own, I try to honor it for the thing that it is, a place of shelter, a quiet place to read or study, a place to share a meal with family and friends, my safe harbor and the place in which I may rest my head at night. 

The same must go for the place I occupy at work. I fill a role, command a position, and represent a brand. It is my commission and my duty to execute my commitment to this role with all intention, passion and fervor.

I feel we can give such attention to the things in our lives and the people, as well.  I must remember as a wife that I do not “own” my husband.  As a supervisor I do not simply “command” my employees. 

Rather, I feel in this journey of life that we are called to enhance the other’s existence. This is the true essence of living and leading with intention. I am called to encourage others around me in a way that does not overtake or abuse their position in my life.  Rather, I am entrusted to foster their development, inspirit their growth,

I do not wish to take for granted this marvelous responsibility I have been given. 

We can deliberately cultivate our work relationships by remaining committed to intention. Sometimes this is quite challenging when turnover in a role has occurred, especially if that role is paramount to your success in your own role. Establishing communication, taking time to listen, growing that relationship on a daily basis takes time.

Being open to realize another individual’s potential or recognizing them for what they bring to the table can go a long way in giving solid foundation to important alliances.

I help my step-children with small pieces of the idea that things are meant to be shared…space, time, objects and ideas…by providing them a donation box in which they can also release some of the ownership of their things in order to share with those less fortunate.  They sort through their toys and belongings and look for items to share. 

They do not have authority over another person, or the responsibility of managing a team of individuals. However, their understanding of guardianship and ownership rests in the physical things they possess.

I challenge them to intentionally desire a will of goodness, compassion, empathy, kindness, support and generosity through actions like sharing.

Although her sharing box consists of items that have memories for her, my step-daughter has come to terms with relinquishing her command over these objects. For now she keeps that little, red corvette and that is okay, too. 

She is enjoying it for this moment and perhaps will have a moment in the future where it is no longer hers.  Cherish the moments, baby girl, instead of the things.  I will enjoy more watching you create those loops and jumps, rather than basking in the pride of what items we can afford or not afford for you.  If you must posses, then posses the moment.  If you must own, then own the responsibility. 

And, if you must insist, then insist on intention.

This lesson goes for me, too. I want to encourage you to take stock of your own intention. Perhaps you can insist on being the rock in your department. Even if you feel overlooked, realize that managers are aware of potential.

Good leaders depend on individuals who are patient to learn a new project, who are open to sharing new ideas, who make space at the table for the new face among the group.

Be the person who cares.

Give a little kindness back into the world and allow it to booster your own outlook. Your stress level will feel more managed. Your work relationships will blossom. New opportunities will open. And maybe, just maybe, you will find purpose through your intention.

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What Role Am I In Today?

What Role Am I In Today?

If I had a hat for every role life has asked me to play I would have a wall of hats. There would be big floppy ones for the carefree girl that I am. There would also be one with a feather for the sophisticated woman I desire to be. I would wear a construction hood for the harder moments, a cap, a fedora, a beanie, and a snow toboggan. There would be big hats, little hats, hot pink and sequin hats. I would have a hat to match my favorite black heels and maybe a patchwork hat with buttons for these converse tennis shoes currently living on my feet.  I would have so many hats for so many roles. 

How do we balance this?

For instance, I am a wife, a step-mother, a business manager, the family chauffer-chef-doctor-therapist-counselor and rememberer-of-things.  I am a dog mom, cat mom, little red fish mom to Bubbles the 2nd. (It must be pronounced this way, full-title, at all times.) I’m also a spider mom to Mr. Cuddles, the tarantula. (This was a moment of questionable judgment in attempt to let the kids learn more about nature and science. Turns out he’s a very nice, albeit hairy little fellow and so was dubbed accordingly by my step-son.)

It can all be so hectic to manage!

Changing hats is hectic enough, but sometimes I literally cannot remove one before adding another.  And so here I stand with unkempt hair that I promise was curled earlier. I’m wearing hats like a circus performer, one stacked precariously on top of the other until they are out of my reach.

Thank God for grace.

Thank God for the tribe around us who uplift and support. For my husband who lovingly offered the other day, “What can I do to make this week easier for you?”

For my team at work who rallies beside me to make the day happen, for ladies at church who offer hugs for no reason. I’m also grateful for friends who send random texts of uplift and encouragement, for words of wisdom that call out from the pages of scripture, and for podcasts of enlightenment I can listen to on my commute. Not to mention, family who are always cheering from the sidelines, and all those who pour into life so that others around them may live. 

I’m thankful for the tribe around me.

If you are not experiencing these things, then I hope you find them here.  I hope that you find a wellspring of love and support, of encouraging words and compassion.  I hope you find inspiration to fuel your passion, no matter what hat the day has asked you to wear or what role you are required to play. 

Pull it down tight and press on ladies.

I am here here to help sort through the chaos, to set new goals, to redefine your current path, to help you establish your trajectory and to bring it all together in a beautiful song and dance. Let’s do this!

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Disclaimer:

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.  For more details, click here.