Just a quick post to let you all know I lived! It was a blast. Anyone can do these things and they are so much fun. Now I am going to be doing a Tough Mudder. Not this year but next year. Yipee!
Ok, now maybe this is what mid-life is all about. Tomorrow I am running my first 5k and it is an obstacle course mud run. I am incredibly excited and I am hoping it will be the first of many mud runs. I don’t know if you have heard of the Warrior Dash. Google it! Then sign up and do it! Tomorrow my opinion may be different. That is why I am writing a post today. I want to remember how great the anticipation was before the race. This is going to be short and sweet because I want to conserve my energy. Yes, even typing energy.
When I quit smoking and started working out, I needed something to look forward to. I needed something to work towards. Just being healthier in general wasn’t enough motivation for me. I know me well enough to know that I have a tendency to lose interest in things. That is never my intention, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I first heard about these obstacle course mud runs through a friend. She had done a Tough Mudder and she was my age. Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle course mud run. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to do it. I knew that I could never do it in the shape I was in and I smoked a pack a day.
It looked like so much fun. I told my husband I was going to do one of these runs within a year. Well the year came and went and I was still smoking and not working out. I was talking about Mudder to another friend, she suggested the Warrior Dash first. She is smart enough to know to start smaller and work up. I am blessed with friends who give good advice. The Warrior Dash is a 5k obstacle course mud run. Well, I finally quit smoking and was working out so, this is the year. Tomorrow I am going to try to finish the Warrior Dash. I make no promises. Wish me luck! Until tomorrow…
Since I have started on this new way of living, a huge part of the change has been changing the way I think. I do really well for a while and I feel really good. Then I fall back into old patterns and feel anxious and worry. What do I worry about? You name it. I have literally worried about worrying. It’s bad for my inner peace and sucks my energy. It’s a harder habit to break than smoking. With smoking you actually have a physical thing to avoid. You can walk away from it. Getting the brain to stop the worrying is much more difficult. It is like an addiction. I may be addicted to worrying but I am going to break that habit, just like my nicotine addiction.
I have spent a lot of time trying to get the worry under control. I literally believe that we are not meant to worry. What good does it do really? I read a saying that basically said worrying steals your present peace. That is the truth. I know it and I live it…then…it’s like just smoking one cigarette. You can’t even allow the idea of smoking just one. Otherwise, there you are sucking down a pack a day and starting over again. Obviously there is something in it for me, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. When I think about all of the time I have wasted worrying about things that I have absolutely no control over, it frustrates me. I think maybe control is what the worrying is really about. Control. I don’t want to think that it is about control but it’s the only conclusion I can draw. I now think that this journey I am on is about letting go of control, not trying to take more control. Just letting life flow and being part of that flow rather than trying to control the flow.
In the whole scheme of things, we don’t have any control anyway. We give ourselves that illusion. Do we control what we eat, what we wear, etc? Of course, but I am not talking about those small things. Those things never worried me anyway. It’s the big imaginary what if that has worried me. What if that guy doesn’t stop at the stop sign? What if my daughter isn’t happy with her choices in the future? What if I try to talk to her about other options, she changes her choices and then resents it? What if my dogs get out and get lost? I mean, how absolutely senseless is the what if game? What if I hurt my knee before the 5k color run? I cannot control any of these things. If they happen the only thing I can do is adjust and deal with the consequences. So worrying doesn’t help in any way. I just need to make the not worrying a habit.
When I type it out and read it, it sounds ridiculous. Obviously I can’t know what is going to happen in the future. So, I have decided that I am going to write the worries on a paper and burn them. It’s symbolic and I believe it will help put the worries where they belong, not in my mind, but in the ashes of a burn pile. I don’t know if this will help, but I think it’s worth a try. So if any of you drive passed my house and there is a huge bonfire and I am dancing around it with a crazy look on my face, know that it is just me trying to learn to go with the flow.
I haven’t been writing as much as I had planned because it is summer! Living in Michigan where winter lasts almost six months, you really learn to appreciate the warmth of the summer. Yes I know that winter is only supposed to be three months here, but someone needs to tell that to mother nature. I personally hate the cold. I am a born and raised Michigander and have never acclimated to the winters here. I think snow is beautiful…to look at. I don’t want to ski in it or snowmobile in it. I don’t find it fun at all. Oh, I have occasionally enjoyed a snow ball fight or two but honestly I could go the rest of my life without having another one. Then this year of change happened. So I am being challenged to try new things and do stuff I never would have before.
I start wearing long johns under my clothes in October at the latest. I have a tendency to be really angry in the winter. Being cold brings out my dark side. My husband always says that the reason I don’t like winter is because I don’t dress warm enough. I thought maybe he was right, so I took his advice and bought a really warm coat. Then I did something really crazy for me, I went to the outhouse races in northern Michigan in January! So I deliberately chose to go outside in winter in northern Michigan. This is definitely way out of my comfort zone. But I did it and I actually had fun. Not that I wasn’t cold. New coat or not it was COLD. I did get to see outhouse races though, everyone should experience that in real life. It is truly hilarious.
So understand when the days are warm and sunny I am outside. I am sitting on my porch drinking coffee or working in my yard. I might be in someone else’s yard under their canopy, listening to a waterfall, but you better believe if I can be, I am outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Being cooped up all winter really makes summer feel like a release from a six month jail term. I guess living in Michigan really makes you appreciate the sun while it lasts. So I will be blogging but maybe just for the summer, it will be short and sweet. I don’t know, depends on the weather!
I had a very nice Fourth of July holiday. I consider myself pretty patriotic year round but of course on the Fourth everyone is really patriotic. I really am proud to be an American. It sounds like a song or just something you say but I truly am. I get tears in my eyes when I hear the first ten minutes of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar solo of the Star Spangled Banner. After the first ten though he loses me. (I know it isn’t ten minutes long but geez, it feels like it!) Or if I see soldiers in a parade, I just can’t help but get choked up. I love the fireworks and the barbeques and honoring the soldiers who fought for our country. We live in an amazing country and I think that on the Fourth everyone takes the time to recognize how fortunate and proud we are to be Americans. I just like that vibe.
One of the great things about the 4th is the fireworks. I didn’t go to an official fireworks display this year. I didn’t have to, it was all around me to the point of it sounding like a war zone. I guess I just don’t get the need to blow things up. I love the big displays that the cities put on but really do not like the fireworks that people set off at their own houses. It never fails to get me all nervous. Because anyone can buy fireworks. People that I wouldn’t trust to use my scissors can buy little explosives and set them off in neighborhoods where there are houses 15 feet from each other. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we have the right to buy fireworks and light them. I just think there should be some common sense test you must pass before you can buy bottle rockets and roman candles and let them off in a neighborhood. I also think that you should have to be in an open area to explode things. I know, America, freedom. I get it but seriously people, come on.
Luckily, I and the people I love made it through the war zone that was my aunt’s neighborhood last night but it was by sheer luck. When we walked out to our car there was a burned bottle rocket laying next to my car. That is part of the problem with bottle rockets in the city. They go off and you don’t know where they will land. I was pretty unhappy. I love my car. I do not love bottle rockets. I just don’t get the fascination. But I guess it isn’t up to me. This is the 43rd fireworks I have lived through without a serious incident, so my track record is 100%. I guess maybe it’s time for me to relax a little, enjoy the holiday more, quit worrying about what might happen if that bottle rocket lands on a roof. Maybe next year I will be the one lighting off bottle rockets, making the neighbors nervous. It would probably be fun to watch other people get that look on their faces, and wonder if I am smart enough to aim away from their house. This is supposed to be my year of change. So look out for me next year, I am going to start stocking up now. If you can’t beat them, join them!
I love animals. I spoil the ones that live in my home and they are an endless source of love and humor, sometimes frustration. I grew up with dogs and since I have been an adult I have always had a pet of some sort. Years ago I was much more rigid in my rules with the animals in the house. For example, they were not allowed on the furniture or beds. Ever. Time has gone by and I am much less rigid. I am not sure what the change is or how it happened but I think it is Stella.
This is Stella on the left. She is one of the two dogs in our family. Both of our dogs were rescue animals.
The first dog we brought home was Maverick.
Maverick is a very calm and cool dog. He is the grumpy old man in the house. He loves us but he resents the fact that he has to depend on anyone for anything. He is very loving, in his way. He was just over a year old when we brought him home. We got Stella about two years after Maverick. A friend of my daughter’s was getting rid of her and my daughter did not want her to go to the shelter. Maverick thought it was great…at first. Until he realized she was staying. Now he is just resigned to the fact that she lives here.
Stella is the funniest dog I have ever encountered. I have been wrestling with how to explain Stella in words. I do not think that I have the ability to express how this dog has impacted my life. She ate my couch cushion…twice. She was nice enough to pop the zipper open on the cushion so she could eat the cushion without ripping the upholstery, which is, I think, very thoughtful of her. A couple of years ago, I would have lost it if my dog ate my couch, now I just feel like, it’s a couch, who cares. Not that I want her to eat my couch or anything else she isn’t supposed to, I just realize it really isn’t that important. She adds an interesting and super charged layer to our house. She is hilarious and she knows it.
Stella will lay on her back and kick her feet making whining and barking noises. I don’t think there is any particular reason she does this, I think it just makes her happy. We are her third home. I understand why other people couldn’t handle her energy level, I wasn’t sure that I could either, but she is a very good fit for our family. Stella wants to talk, she gets very frustrated that she can’t get the words out, so she makes a lot of noise. Stella may be the first talking dog. She is very determined to tell us what she thinks. Maybe we should change her name to Lucy after the first communicating chimp, to give her something to work toward.
She gets so excited playing with toys, if you add sound effects she can barely contain herself. If I am in a bad mood or not feeling very happy, Stella will somehow always make me laugh. Before this point in my life, I do not think I would have had the patience or understanding to have Stella be a member of our family. Now I truly enjoy this crazy, hyper dog. I am thankful she came along when she did. I didn’t realize we had a hole in our family that needed filling until she came and filled it. She is my comic relief, I need that in my life now. It really puts my grouchy days or small problems in their place when she looks at me with that stinker look in her eye and I know she is going to have an episode. That is what we call her outbursts of crazy energy. Her episodes.
This getting older thing has really made me more tolerant. Stella would have had to find a fourth home if she had come here even three years ago. I think of all of the hilariousness I would have missed and the love that she gives and I am grateful she is here. Crazy and all.
I am truly blessed and grateful to have made it to middle age. It seems weird to say that and be talking about myself. It all happened so quickly. But every time I say I’m middle aged, it makes me smile. It feels like freedom to me. A huge exhalation of relief from all of the expectations of others and myself. I find it unreal now all of the expectations I put on myself and others put on me. I felt that others had a right to tell me how I should be, what I should be doing, and how I should be doing it. I do not know why I felt this way. I just know that it was a constant cloud hanging over my head and happiness.
I never felt like I was quite good enough. I didn’t quite have it together like other people did. That was my perception. I, of course, acted like I didn’t care what others thought but of course it had an impact. I don’t think that is always a bad thing, being concerned about what others think. Sometimes it makes people do better and try harder. But overall, I think the judgement of those around you is pretty destructive. It used to make me so upset and angry. I never felt that I had quite reached the level of being good enough.
It suddenly struck me that my opinion of me is the only one that matters. I look around me and realize that the people around me feel the same way. They don’t want to be judged and would just like to freaking relax and be themselves. Realizing this has taken a huge weight off of me. Now I think, why did I carry around that judgement, frustration, and pain for so long. I truly believe in my quest for myself that this is the most powerful thing I have learned. It was like a light bulb lit up over my head. I smile a lot more now. It’s easier when you aren’t concerned if the people around you are judging you. Do people still judge me, of course they do. Every once in a while, that old anxiety comes back, but not for long. Being comfortable in my own skin needs to become a habit, just like the anxiety had become a habit.
There are people in my life who aren’t exactly loving this change. They expect me to be and act like I always have. When I don’t agree to do something like I used to or answer a question the way I’m expected to, it definitely throws them for a loop. I’m sorry that it upsets them, but not sorry enough to go back into the box that the expectations put me in. It amazes me how often I put myself in the box. I would love to blame everyone else, but I went in willingly.
Perspective is an amazing thing. My perspective now is like being reborn. It’s unnerving a little, exciting a little, wonderful a little, scary a little and so many other emotions a little. Despite the rush of emotions, I look forward to the things my new perspective can show me. Being middle aged is the best time so far for me. I love it, am embracing it and am excited for the next discovery. So watch out, who knows what’s next!
Coffee has been around a long time. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was around 19. My husband drank it and we would spend hours at coffee shops just drinking coffee and talking with our friends. Those were good times and the beginning of a beautiful relationship with coffee. Coffee helps me wake up and start my day. I literally talk to my coffee in the morning, usually something like “sweet nectar” or “you smell so good”. The only problem I see with my coffee addiction is that sometimes it is really hard to get a good cup of coffee when I’m not home. Lots of people and restaurants do not have any idea what good coffee is or how to make it.
After my husband and I got married one of the gifts his parents gave us for Christmas was a coffeemaker that brews coffee in three minutes. It literally made me happy every time I saw it. Over the years we have gone through about five of these coffeemakers. We brew ALOT of coffee. Coffee has been a family tradition in my husbands family. Everyone drinks it. I don’t know how old my husband was when he started drinking it, but it was young. By the time I came into the picture, coffee was just a way of life. His family drank coffee before it was cool. They were so ahead of their time!
One of the beautiful things about coffee is that it encourages conversation. Some of the best times I have had in my life have included coffee. Many people that come to visit our home aren’t big coffee drinkers, but they know they are going to drink it at our house. That is the thing about coffee, it is inclusive. Plus no hangover! Yes, you may end up with the shakes or coffee gut as we call it, but once you eat something, you are fine.
Over the years coffee has become a very popular drink. The flavored coffees and the fancy, brand name coffees. It is very complicated to order a cup of coffee now. It used to be easy. You would say, a cup of coffee please. Now, it is much more complicated. I feel completely out of it when I go into a coffee shop and there are coffees I don’t even know what they are. I’m all for trying new things, so I’m happy that more people are enjoying coffee but it has become quite a complicated situation. I don’t understand how people know all of these coffee terms. Where did they learn about these new coffees? It is quite an amazing quantity of different brews, with whip, without whip, half caff, flavors, etc., it is quite amazing. But it is all a bit over my head, so being me, I will just keep drinking my regular coffee.
There is nothing quite like getting up in the morning and smelling that wonderful smell. In this journey of changing my life and getting healthier, I will always drink coffee. News reports go back and forth about the health benefits or detriments to coffee. They are entitled to their opinions and facts. I will always drink java and enjoy the many unscientific benefits it has.
This had been the year of change for me. One of the catalysts for the year of change was my gall bladder. I have had some issues with it in the past but this January it really threw a fit. I ended up in the emergency room on pain meds. If you knew me, you would know, I don’t go to the doctor unless it is an emergency. Yes, I have health insurance, I would rather do just about anything than go to a doctor. The emergency room visit is the first time I had seen a doctor since my last gall bladder attack two year previous. Again, I avoid doctors.
Up until this time if I told you my eating habits, you would think you were talking about a ten year old. Let me give you an example. The first time I went to the emergency room for gall bladder pain, I had been eating gummy bears and potato chips. Yes, I know. The nurse looked at me as if I were a crazy person. That is what I had eaten all day…I know. I don’t need the judgement! I was set up for some additional tests and the tests results said I had a low functioning gall bladder. I didn’t need surgery…yet. I did some research online about gall bladder issues but I started to feel normal again. I did give up that particular flavor of potato chips but other than that I pretty much went back to eating the way I did before the attack.
Fast forward two years and my second emergency room visit. This time on top of having gall bladder issues I also had pancreatitis, caused from the gall bladder issue. That really freaked me out. I guess it took me a while but I started to take it seriously. I was set up to see a surgeon to have my gall bladder removed. Now I decided to do some serious research online and learn what I needed to do next. I meant business this time. I didn’t want to have surgery if I could avoid it. So I started to change my diet, drank lots of water, etc.
I don’t take too many things seriously. In fact, I have an unusual sense of humor. My husband and I were talking about my gall bladder issue one night in the car on the way home from visiting my aunt. In my mind I visualized my gall bladder as kind of just flat and hanging there like a balloon without air, you know like on the cartoons. I am aware that isn’t how it looks but that is how I saw it in my mind. It suddenly struck me that it is just hanging there like a chad. Like the hanging chads that were so controversial in the 2000 presidential election. So from then on my gall bladder became known as Chad.
Chad could be really moody and we would call Chad many different names that would be inappropriate to put in here. It became a standing joke and still is. Chad has gotten lots of insults and verbal abuse since he started throwing fits to get my attention. Whenever we would talk about Chad, people would wonder why we disliked the guy so much. It became quite fun to talk about it and then explain that Chad was my gall bladder. The look on people’s faces was priceless. I told you I have a unique sense of humor. But honestly, Chad is one of the main reasons that I started this new way of living. I probably should be thanking Chad, not heaping abuse on him…but that is probably not going to happen. So I started eating much more appropriately, took my medicine, drank my water and did everything I could to get Chad feeling better. My surgeon ordered another scan and it came back great! I didn’t have to have surgery and if I keep eating right and watch my fat intake, Chad and I should be together for a long time.
It’s the little things like Chad, that really made me pay attention to what needed changing in my life. And one change leads to another. Chad may have been a big jerk, but he was the push I needed to start changing my lifestyle.
When my children were younger, I spent all of my time playing catch up. Both of my girls were in three sports a year, so nearly every day was filled with obligations. Every night was running to practices, sporting events or meetings then home. On nights that there were games, we wouldn’t get home until after nine at night. I would be rushing around trying to make a decent dinner and not just sandwiches or cereal again. I was trying to keep ahead of laundry, cleaning and other obligations. It just seems like that time flew by and I didn’t get to enjoy it the way I should have.
I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, if I were a better organized person then it probably would have helped with the chaos. But we all have our crosses to bear and I will never be as organized as I need to be. Back when the girls were in school lack of organization made everything more complicated. Finding shoes, socks, deciding what to make for dinner, last minute trips to the store for things we needed or just deciding to eat out instead of trying to make dinner. The list is endless. It was really crazy. Now that both of my kids are graduated and moving on in their lives, and I have time to slow down.
I can go walking with my husband. It seems like a pretty simple thing to do but there was never enough time before to just go for a simple, quiet walk. I also wasn’t geared toward a nice, calming walk. My brain was always telling me what I needed to be doing instead of just being in the moment. My brain is like a kid who is on a sugar high that never ends. It jumps from one job I need to do, to the next job I need to do. I was constantly trying to stay ahead of my obligations and lists of things to do but always falling behind. My brain still tries to do that to me, but I’m learning that it doesn’t matter if my closet is perfectly organized or that my kitchen cupboards need cleaning out. The list of things that needs doing will be waiting for me after I’m done walking. It’s not going anywhere.
Walking with my husband, recharges my inner peace. We can talk and laugh and just enjoy being outdoors and looking at the scenery. I enjoy spending time with him walking. Many years we barely had time to spend five minutes talking about what we did that day or what needed to be done for the next day. It allows us to reconnect as a couple and build a new relationship for the future. So far it has been fun. Walking is such a simple activity but it has really brought an extra layer of happiness to this new healthier life over 40. I love the contrast of how we were running around for years and now we are going slow and walking, enjoying. It really does explain my new outlook on life. I am thankful for all the things I am learning about this life. So I will walk on and see what’s next.