Saturday, September 30, 2017

Strengths Finder 2.0

Strengths Finder 2.0 Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was probably the first personality type book I have ever read -and wow did it help me understand why I'm naturally good at some things, and really struggle with others. First off, the idea of focusing on my strengths to improve my life at home and work is so different from what we have been taught for so long - which is to practice what you aren't good at so you get better. It makes WAY more sense for improvement and happiness to instead work on getting the things you are GOOD at to be even better.

This book tells me why I'm so great at being a coach - I have the "woo" (cheerleader), I'm a problem solver, and an includer. I want more people to join my groups because I naturally love to invite people to do things with me, I want to help them reach their health and fitness goals, and I'm a dang good cheerleader along the way!

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Hallelujah Anyway

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering MercyHallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I would have liked this a LOT more if I was reading vs. listening. Anne reads this herself, and her voice isn't as inspirational as her words. I found myself just listening quickly so I could finish it. There were moments of things I appreciated for sure, but this wasn't one I identified with as much. It was definitely more of a "window" book for me. It was really interesting to listen to her story weaved in with Bible passages - but her life growing up and into adulthood was very different from mine.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just Another #TransformationTuesday

I often forget how many people I meet (especially with new staff at the beginning of a school year) that only know me right now.  They don't know how I looked and felt a year and a half ago.  I'm glad for that.  I'm an improved and stronger me - and that's the me I'm excited people get to know.  However, As I celebrated some teammates this weekend in weight loss over 100lbs - I realized I had NO IDEA that's where they came from.  I only know them now - and I love hearing seeing the photos of their results!

That first photo I took, I did it in my basement.  With a sheepish mind and a lot of embarrassment.  I hid these photos in a folder thinking it was crazy that I took them.  But I'm glad I did - you can never go back.  This journey has been a day to day one.  One I don't always notice and I often don't see in the mirror. The pictures remind me of where I started.

I felt fat, I felt like my clothes looked terrible, and I would often leave the house thinking I look "good enough"

Then one day I started.  Almost everyday, I pressed play on my workouts, ate well, and filled my mind with love and acceptance (still do!) As each day went on, I felt that same way. Every day. I am fat, is this working? I feel good, but I don't look good.

I felt the same way. Everyday.

Until I didn't. Until one day, I noticed my pants were too loose, and the pants from my basement showed I hadn't dropped one size, but 2! That was fun!

I am thrilled to pull on my jeans right now. Everyday. But I still get lost in the day to day. The scale isn't moving, I'm feeling flabby, I am not noticing things. Until I do.

This picture of me with co-worker and coach Alex this weekend -  just reminded me of WOW! I look awesome. I feel awesome. #transformationtuesday rocks this week!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Happier by Gretchen Rubin

This is the podcast that I recommend and listen to the most.  They have a weekly episode and it's writer, Gretchen Rubin, and her sister Liz Craft and they chat about being happier everyday through habits, small changes, and mindset. It's a well produced show and I get little tidbits each week. It follows a predictable format and is easy to listen to.

There is a new episode each week and I binged the seasons during brain surgery anticipation and recovery.  They really did bring me a lot of happiness in some very scary times.

Gretchen also releases a nice "Little Happier" episode each week that's just a little 2 minute tidbit.  Love that, too!  I highly recommend this - especially if you have read or are interested in Gretchen's books on habits, happiness and motivation. LOVE! (photo from Stitcher)

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I needed this right now!

My life is all of a sudden crazy. School started, I have this coaching gig, I'm still teaching skating - but now my daughter has activities, the husband is beyond busy with his own work and passionate professional pursuits, and the 2 year old is - well, 2.

To slow down and build a life you can maintain is such a freeing idea. Listening to her story of how she followed her heart instead of her mind to a happier, calmer, more joyful life has already inspired me to re-evaluate and reign in the chaos. Her approachable voice made me feel like I was a friend listening to her story over cups of fresh coffee.

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Monday Mornings or Friday Afternoons?

I recently heard this quote "Do you feel the same about Monday Mornings as you do on Friday afternoons?" The answer for me is YES! I am beyond excited to go from a job I love to a fun and healthy family, a couple of side gigs, lots of friends, a little rest, and then back to the job I love. But it didn't come easy or overnight.

When I got to college, I thought I finally had this freedom to figure out "who I am." I thought I maybe knew in high school, but then when I got to the next part of life, I realized there was a whole lot I didn't know I didn't know. I learned more, failed more, tried more things, and explored myself to figure out who I wanted to become. If you didn't go to college, you just got to the next stage here a little faster :) I exited that time with hope and excitement and a heck of a lot of fear.

Then there's the quarter life crisis. I had mine, I'm just not sure I knew it at the time. The things I thought I knew about myself in college were just the beginning. The 20s held multiple new jobs, a growing relationship, and the pressure for success and forever love started to feel like even more pressure. I know I was stuck between a past, safe, world I missed and terrified for the unknown of my future life. I had my love and my friends, but I didn't have my purpose.

Then it was the 30s. I really felt like I knew life. I figured out my calling and knew immediately that I would be a librarian forever. My idea of my "fall back" career of soccer mom now seemed unneeded. I got to travel and enjoy life with my love. The kids came and stretched me into the role of motherhood in a way I couldn't begin to grasp. How some days I never want them to grow up and snuggle with them all day, and some I wish they could just feed and bathe themselves and get the heck out of my way.

Now, as I'm finishing the 30s, I'm keenly aware that I don't know what the next decade will bring. I can hopefully assume we will all be healthy and alive at the end of it, my kids will bathe themselves this decade, that Marshall and I will figure out how to manage growing careers with growing children and still have time to grow us. That happiness isn't just one of the things - but all of the things combined.

I love love love what I do at work. I love love love my 2 part time gigs. I love that I live with my best friend even if we never have time to see each other. I love the joy that comes with the baby snuggles and the excitement of a 5 year old. Everywhere I go right now, I have much to look forward to.

No wonder I feel like the luckiest person I know! How do you feel about those Monday Mornings and Friday afternoons and what can you do to be excited each time?

If you are dreading the workday tomorrow, ask yourself why? Then send me a message, I've been reading a LOT of books and would love to guide you to a little joy and clarity. The bliss might not be as hard to get as you think!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Luckiest Girl in the World

So how does a girl (ok - woman - I'm in adult denial today) feel like the luckiest person in the world just after learning that she would be facing brain surgery in just a couple of short months? Because deep down - I knew this could be so much worse.

Through tears in the bathroom at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,  I spoke to myself and said, "I am so so lucky to get to choose between the head of neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota and one of the best neurosurgeons and facilities in the world. There are so many people that wouldn't have this sort of comfort and trust in such serious medical care.

I have amazing health insurance and a husband who knows how to be sure that I would pay the lowest amount possible for all of the diagnostic visits, treatments, surgery, and hospital stay. The bill was more than our home is worth. There are others that have to choose between surgery before it's too late, and (if they are lucky emergency surgery) after much damage has already been done.

A condition (Pseudotumor Cerebri) that had been bothering me for 7 years by not regulating the cerebra-spinal fluid around my brain - causing mild intracranial pressure and symptoms of swollen optic nerves and slight vision disturbances - forced me to have ongoing monitoring by a fantastic neuro-ophthalmologist who was suspicious that my recent weight-loss wasn't resolving the ongoing symptoms.  That hunch and the confidence to act on it, lead to the MRI that captured the images of 5 tumors that may have never been caught before they did serious and lifelong damage such as seizures or loss of movement. This early diagnosis also gave me the luxury of scheduling the surgery at the most convenient time possible.  I was able to take off of work with very little stress. Many people who find these tumors need much more urgent treatment.

The thing that I am most grateful for, though, was that a year earlier, I made a decision to improve my health one meal and one workout at time.  That weight-loss lead to the early diagnosis.  But more importantly, I am in the best health of my life (other than freaking brain tumors) and I knew my body was strong and would heal quickly.  I also had been reading so many self help books, that my mind was is a place of relative calm.  I KNEW I would be ok.

So after 4 months - I feel amazing. Strong, energetic, alive, happy. No, I feel JOYFUL and full of gratitude for this wonderful and lucky lucky life I get to enjoy for many many many more years.