Category Archives: balance

Sister perspectives: what rest does.

I’ve rustled up my sis Jess from her blog retirement for this post and I am so glad she wanted to write this with me  as it is a topic that is near to our hearts but also one we both wrestle with more often than we probably care to admit.

Rest.  We talk about doing it, we do it sometimes, but do we *really* do it fully and believe in why we are doing it? Not always.

As we have both been hit with illness the past couple of weeks, we noticed some major realizations and observations and we share that here, openly, honestly, and fully.

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My perspective:

I believe in rest, and in rest days. I completely do. But I also wrestle with rest days when I feel good, strong, and interested in being active on said rest day. Sometimes I bend that rest day a little, as a result, and almost entirely because I absolutely adore my workouts – my chosen workouts – barre (n9ne) classes and running, primarily, and there are days where it is truly hard to temper that excitement and passion. And I’m not talking miles and miles and miles and doubled up classes (taken). I’m talking a quick (extra) run or a Sunday afternoon class (a rare treat, especially if my sister is teaching!). And Jess and I are really good at tempering each other’s workouts and being that reality check for each other – do you want to run, or do you feel like you have to run. If the latter, don’t even bother. Do you hurt everywhere? Fail. No workout. Nope, don’t even attempt it.  But that doesn’t mean the mental mind games don’t stay behind, even if I’ve agreed to keep that rest day and honor it fully. *That* is what I wrestle with most, far more than stillness.

But illness is a funny thing, isn’t it? Suddenly, you are flat on your back, can barely keep you eyes open, and everything hurts in a hurts so bad way and all you can fathom is recovery and feeling normal again. Nowhere near workout ready.

And as those days pass, where you rest, rest, rest, sleep, sleep, and more sleep, a funny thing happens. You realize what rest does. It renews you, mind, body and soul. It resets you. And it reinvigorates you. And when you come out on the other side of illness, you appreciate your body’s abilities and you learn that it shouldn’t be taken for granted and you shouldn’t do more, more, more, even if your body feels good, because that’s harder and not smarter.

Let’s face it, for example, one really strong run, no matter what distance, pays off far more than a few ‘meh’ runs where you feel like your body doesn’t want to move because your legs are tight, sore, or overworked. One – it’s not nearly as enjoyable as that ‘happy’ and strong run, and two – you aren’t doing yourself any favors in your strength or endurance. What are you accomplishing? Checking a box. That’s it. I’d much rather have one really strong run than three crappy runs. Quality, not quantity.

This is what rest does, and what rest has taught me (especially as I sit here teetering on a cold brewing, but determined not to succumb so soon after the FLU last week!). It is about honoring the rest day, honoring your body’s abilities by resting, renewing and restoring. As I like to say, one day, you won’t turn into a pumpkin. Quite possibly, the reverse. Your body becomes more efficient, more able to recover and well, happier. And who doesn’t want that?!

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Jess’s perspective:

So I’ve been a non-blogger now for almost a year and this is one of the first times that I found myself itching to write. You see, I was down for the count with this funky laryngitis thing that had me sidelined for a week. From everything. The day job – done from my home. In solitude. My beloved barre classes? I had to sub them out. Pained me. My ‘me’ workouts. Gone. I had a lot of time to think. And question.

…how could I possibly be sick after two weeks off from work *and* a quick surprise getaway to Healdsburg (aka ‘my mecca’) with my husband over the holidays? I was uber relaxed. Not worn out in the slightest.

…why was I sick? Besides the obvious – duh I picked up some icky germs somewhere along the way – but truly why. Why now?

And the more I sat and thought about it, sipping on cup after cup of tea with honey (swapping in the occasional hot toddy thanks to a certain Tony, aka Sarena’s husband!) – it struck me.

I hadn’t been valuing rest as much as I proclaimed to value it. My sis and I had this pact at the end of the year, it went something like this:

Stop embracing go-go-go-how-much-can-I-fit-into-my-day mentality and return to the smarter, not harder mentality. A mentality that, admittedly, neither of us had been embracing as much as we’d care to admit. 

Yet, as soon as I got back from wine country, I was ready to go balls to the wall again. Um hi, where did that pact go that we so smartly made right before the new year???

Yup, out the window.

And bam – laryngitis swooped in. Down.for.the.count.

My, my, God has *quite* the sense of humor, I do believe.

As the days went by, and the rest, rest, rest, mentality settled in, I started to really SEE, for the first time, the true value of rest. Every second I spent cuddled under a blanket, not running around doing a million things, not working out or teaching or any of that, not doing much of anything…except for rest…and it amazed me to see my body respond.

I actually wasn’t feeling nearly as sick as I sounded (or didn’t sound, haha), and I think that’s because I rested. My body was working hard to avoid a full-blown case of bronchitis or something far worse and I allowed the rest to seep in.

And I sat there laughing at myself after awhile. Thinking about all those mornings where I sat in a funk, mad at my rest day, not wanting to take the rest, feeling like a superhero and wanting to do it all, be it all. Silly, short-sighted thoughts to say the least.

So now, I sit here recovered and rested and ready to REALLY do what I say and say what I mean.

Embrace rest.

Seems simple. But clearly, I wasn’t really doing that before, nor was I even admitting that to myself. So I was taught (well WE were taught (how ironic that we both got sick nearly at the same exact time…) a very important lesson this past week, whether I (we) wanted that lesson or not, a certain Someone wanted to show me (us) the way.

Nailed it 2013 (and what to nail in 2014)

I loved this idea for a post that Christine wrote and thought I would do my own little take on it, partially as a look back at the year, but also reflecting on areas ‘to nail’ in 2014. Not so much goals, but moreso in the quest of my ‘perfectly imperfect’ journey.

What I’ve nailed in 2013?

Let’s see, I think I’ve done a pretty good job with these, but you’ll notice some of them show up in the ‘what to nail’ list below, and hey, that’s okay. Some of these are ongoing and reminders to me constantly.

  1. Nixing the numbers fixation. I struggled with this a LOT in 2012 and the early part of 2013. From weight, to miles, to food, to everything. I felt compelled to quantify everything, when really, who cares? Who am I competing against but myself, and even then, why is it a competition? It’s not, so cut the sh*t and just live.
  2. Learning to let go. This is a work in progress, but I do feel like I’ve made some big strides here. This really ties in to number one, above, too, because part of my numbers fixation is all about control and *not* letting go. And I am trying to apply this to all areas of my life, including my marriage, because I never want to fall into the trap of constantly nagging, complaining, nitpicking over seriously non-issues, when there is a man that loves me for me, that would do anything for me, that lets E-V-E-R-Y-thing roll off his back and yet, I sit there, uptight and nudgy half the time. That’s ridiculous and not even worth it. So I am learning. And trying to step back, breathe, and then react.
  3. Balancing the ‘me’ workouts with those I teach at barre n9ne. I think every instructor or trainer must face this at one point or another, how to balance their own ‘me’ workouts with those they teach. At first, I tried to keep my usual barre/running routine *and* my classes (which could range anywhere from 6-9 classes a week), but that quickly became a ‘HARDER, not SMARTER’ routine and I was getting nowhere. So I stopped taking classes and just taught them, and ran. And that didn’t feel quite right either, because the first time I took a class in a month, I felt AMAZING after and I realized how much I missed TAKING classes, not just teaching them. So I found my balance in taking a couple of classes a week – less if I taught more, more if I taught less, as schedule allowed – and I think it has not only made me stronger and feel more fit, it has made me a better instructor. I can weave in new combinations of moves I observe other instructors do while I take their class, I realize how certain moves stacked with others tire the body (in a good way) and think about new ideas for my own class structures, and it just lets my mind roam and feel the workout in a way that I don’t feel when I am teaching, and making sure clients are in proper form etc.
  4. Prioritizing.  This has been HUGE for me. I was feeling so rush-rush-rush and busy all.the.time until I started saying no. Until I started prioritizing and putting my time where it mattered most, not spread so thin that I barely enjoyed any of it. I am definitely keeping this one on the list for 2014 and beyond, because prioritizing is truly the simplest way to happiness.
  5. Marrying M. I file this under ‘nailed it’ because, six months ago today, I married the man I was meant to be with, and with each day that passes, I realize more I love about M, more qualities that I adore about him, and more I want to explore and learn together in our marriage. And in the literal sense, I married M in the most perfect way for us than I could have ever imagined. Quietly. Small. In a place that we love, Healdsburg. What more could we have asked for? Bliss.

What to nail in 2014…

  1. Letting go. This is one I have just started to ‘feel’ happening, the change towards letting go and not being so damn particular about things, and I am excited to see it continue to take shape in 2014. It’s been worth it to step back, to release control, especially in my marriage with M, to give that to him more, since he is so laid back and easy about life, the ‘control’ tends to shift to me, and I don’t always think that is best, because it just feeds into my type A-ness and not the good qualities of being type A. And it allows me to sit back and slow down more, when I let go, observe and BE.
  2. Not taking others’ actions so personally. This one has reared its ugly head in the last oh, six months or so, and it’s driving me crazy. There are a few instances of things that have happened in my life that I took SO damn personally and stepping back, they truly had nothing to do with me, as a friend, employee, person. Yet I allowed it to attack my psyche, to bring me down, to draw out the cattiness and some resentment. And those are  ugly qualities. No more. I draw the line here.
  3. Allowing imperfection (more). Dirty dishes, being late (oh this one drives me crazy, but once in awhile, is being say, 5 mins late, for example, the worst thing and reason to get all bent over? uhh no.), changing plans or course of action. Letting these things happen. Letting go, per #1 as above ;)
  4. Stop the comparison trap for good. I really DID nix this one almost entirely this year – tying into the numbers fixation issue I mentioned above, but once in awhile, it still comes back. And it again brings about ugly traits, jealousy, bitterness, frustration. And I am NOT that person. So I vow to rid myself of this need to compare, compare, compare. This isn’t a competition or a race. Compare to nobody, not even yourself.
  5. Slowing down. I have LOVED the slowdown challenge and getting into The In-Between, I just drink up the words and want to sear them into memory forever. There is just so much you see, learn and experience when you slow down, strip away the complications, and keep it simple. It’s truly amazing.

So, there you have it…some things I’ve nailed in 2013 and more I plan to nail in 2014, along with living with intention, of course. What I found most interesting in putting this list together, is how many of them tie together so well, and the themes that rise out of these – simplicity, balance, and embracing. I’d say that’s the only way to live, don’t you?

The journey…six years later.

**I’ve been ruminating on this post for a few days. Stops and starts. It may not flow, but it’s what’s in my brain, stream of conscious**
Six years ago, I got married. October 21, 2007.
Yet it feels *so* much longer than six years.
My life then to my life now? Is simply unrecognizable. While dates that used to bear significance to ‘that’ life used to hit me more, with time, they become duller and duller and now, just a memory of a lifetime that has passed.
But what doesn’t become dull is rejoicing in where I am today, vs. where I was then. In embracing my journey. In realizing that every step I took, every decision I made, was made with intent, and was made with empowerment and choice.
I shaped this life. Me. Nobody else. I went for what I wanted, I changed and evolved and became the me I am today for nobody else but myself.
And that is something I will cherish and embrace forever.
And it is something that is always within me, this drive for more, bigger, better. Truthfully, this drive sometimes causes me angst, unrest, and restlessness. The want for more, always and my ongoing journey towards simplifying, doing more by doing less, and being content with being perfectly imperfect.
And I circle back to my beginnings, which I define as the day I started my journey alone, independently, for the first time in my life, back in 2008, just about this time of year…which is probably why I am thinking so much about my beginnings lately. Late October has felt like the ‘bewitching’ time of year for me (and truthfully, no pun intended), conjuring up the juxtaposition between then and now and it humbles me. It brings me back to that drive, that motivation and that want for the best, always. In everything I do, every step I take, every barre n9ne class I teach, every press release I write, every action I take in all walks of life, from my marriage, to my job, to my passion (b9, of course!).
Which brings me to this…some more beautiful and striking words from Jeff Goins, a writer that strikes what I am thinking just right…in the below, and generally, in any of the blogs and articles I’ve read from him lately (see my post on the Slow Down Challenge here).
THIS.
When we embrace the journey and don’t just live for the destination, we discover a deeper life.
And this. Take a read of these…and I am pretty sure one, if not all of these, will resonate. To the next six years, beyond and further. To the journey.

10 lessons we learn from journeys

Journeys are important — both physical ones as well as figurative ones. They help remind us that we are not done yet, that life itself is a trip that we can make the most of or completely miss the point.So here are 10 brief lessons I learned from my trip. Maybe they’ll help you on whatever journey you’re taking:
  1. No journey is perfect. Take one, anyway. You will grow regardless.
  2. The destination is never quite what we expect. But without one, we wander aimlessly. So having a final arrival point is important if for no other reason than it gets you started.
  3. Only when we let go of what we think we deserve can we really enjoy what we have.
  4. Inspiration is everywhere. You just need eyes to see it. Yes, even in cornfields.
  5. The hard part isn’t getting from point A to B. It’s paying attention to what’s around you before you miss it.
  6. A journey is less meaningful when traveled alone. We need community to make the most of all experiences, even if that means finding it along the way.
  7. Art helps us process. A good book or great record not only helps pass the time; it gives language to an experience you might otherwise not be able to describe.
  8. Gratitude makes any experience better. It’s easy to want to be home or some place else but we have no control over that. Turns out all we can control is our attitude. So why not be thankful?
  9. The best journeys have a purpose. But expect to be surprised and even see that purpose change.
  10. If you accomplish nothing, see nothing, even feel nothing, take heart. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve changed. And this is reason enough to continue traveling.

A needed #staycation

Since last Friday, October 4, M and I have been on #staycation2013 (my very first! I have never taken a week off from work and not gone anywhere!), and it couldn’t have come at a more needed or perfect time.

I was forgetting things at work. I wasn’t as sharp. I wasn’t as upbeat. I wasn’t as ‘on it’ as usual.

We were both tired, weary, mentally and physically.

With the recent passing of our beautiful Nala, we just needed a retreat. A simple one, away from the day to day, but at the same time, closeby, cultivating our connection with Nala’s sister, Kayla, with each other, and with ourselves. Just having time to think. And to not think. Time to do the things we have pushed off, the errands, the closet organizing, the dry cleaning. All the little things that just get pushed to the side. Time to also do nothing. To NOT plan. To go planless. 

I asked M to make sure I did not overplan. I started to. I really did. I had something set for every day of our staycation. But as soon as that day hit, I suddenly didn’t care what we did or when, just that we were together and that we kept it simple.

We slept in. Almost every day.

We worked out, sure, but when we wanted to. Not just to get it in or to fit it in between other things. And those workouts felt amazing. We ran 9 for our #10forNala in preparation, and it felt awesome. To feel rested, ready, and in fresh, crisp, beautiful air.

We drank wine. A lot. We made dinners that usually take more time on weeknights. We went apple picking. I baked seriously the most amazing apple pie ever (not to pat myself on the back or anything…), we watched movies, we read our books, we relaxed.

We celebrated our 34th birthdays together too, as we are three days apart, in Boston, overnight in the city, at our favorite restaurant and just soaked it all in.

And today, on the last day of our staycation (M has tomorrow off too though, stinker!), we both feel rested, relaxed, rejuviated and ready for the week ahead. Ready to dig deep and face the latest season of our lives, together. Closer than ever.

…and also ready – so ready – to run #10forNala. As of now, we plan to run it Tuesday. We thank everyone that has run, walked, yoga’d, done anything in their own way to pay tribute to our beautiful Nala.

If you ever have a chance to staycation…please do. It has been an incredible, invaluable week that I feel so fortunate to have taken, at a time when we both needed it most.

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Friday thoughts: where to go from here.

This blog has always been my haven. From the very first day I started my first blog, freshly separated, starting anew, to this blog, which I started as my ‘refresh’ and the me I am now, not defined by divorce any longer, but better for it. It’s absolutely incredible what this community has done for me, to the many ‘blends’ I have met, to those I still plan to meet and would love to meet on my ‘blend bucket list’, and what these years of documenting my life, from what I’ve learned from being single after more than a decade, to ‘learning’ how to date, and getting reacquainted with who I am again, feeling awakened, as if it were my second chance to build the life I was always too afraid to lead. And to today, I look around at my life and it is completely unfathomable that just about 5 years later, I would be married to the man I was meant to be with, really and truly, forever, after a journey that was jam-packed with healing, learning, and most importantly of all, living.

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So now, I sit here and I wonder where to go from here. Where to take this blog and *whether* to take this blog any further. In one sense, I feel as though our marriage is the pinnacle of where I could have ever envisioned this blog to close on, but in another, I don’t know if I am ready to say goodbye and to shutter ‘Determined to Be’ forever.  Thus why I’ve been so quiet, leading into our wedding and our move (besides being crazy busy!), I’ve just been thinking about what I want to do, and if I want to take it further (reading Tina’s latest post, and it’s as if our minds are in sync!). I haven’t quite decided,

So, there you have it, some thoughts on this fabulous Friday. I’m mulling over ideas this weekend as M and I seize the opportunity to ‘staycate’ during our one and only weekend this summer of zero – intentional – plans. Priorities, balance, and life…it all kinda comes together, doesn’t it?

Cheers friends :)