Category Archives: exercise
Over the last four months, fear has taught me some truths.
Truth #1: Fear is real. Fear is simply a threat to something you care deeply about. It’s a natural and very human reaction that elicits your emotions. It can dominate your thoughts, affect your mental capacity as well as your emotional and physical state.
Truth #2: Fear is real, but it is also a liar. Fear tells whispers in your ear, “You can’t.” Don’t listen; that is a lie.
Truth #3: Fear plays the role you allow it to play in your life.
Beginning on Oct. 10, 2015, life threw our family a curve ball; one that brought about medical conditions that caused severe and continuing headaches, extreme fatigue, numbness in my body and a poor quality of life. We thought it was as simple as degenerative disc disease. I did in fact have that, but I learned that was very manageable.
What was not manageable was what I later learned that I had: sleep apnea and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). My condition causes me to quit breathing about 15 times an hour and wake up, on average, 41 times an hour.
I began to have extremely restless nights getting very little sleep that was non-restorative. My muscles were not getting the oxygen they needed and were fatigued to the point where this avid exerciser had to forego anything physical. Just walking up the stairs took a lot of energy.
During my initial sleep study, I unfortunately had technicians who lacked a servant’s heart (in addition to poor bedside manner). During my sleep study, I was supposed to wear a CPAP machine, which is basically a machine, with a mask attached that blows air into your nose or mouth so that your airway doesn’t become obstructed. Long story short, the experience was horrible (one the business later apologized for).
Fear entered my life. And over the course of several weeks, it consumed me.
How long can I go on living extremely fatigued?
How long can I continue with this headache?
Am I going to get extremely sick because my body cannot get the rest it needs and fight off sickness?
What kind of mother am I right now?
Will my husband lose me?
Will my son have to be raised without me?
What will my husband say to my son when he asks “Where’s Mommy?”
With all this said, it’s important to know that sleep apnea is a treatable condition. Unfortunately, CPAP therapy can take weeks to adjust to, accept emotionally, and beat mentally.
I eventually got a second sleep study and was able to wear the CPAP so the neurologist got the information they needed to give me my own machine.
Though a hurdle was jumped, the fear remained. For many, definitely for me, the CPAP wasn’t something I adjusted to easily.
There were emotional breakdowns due to fear. What if I can’t do this? I am failing.
There were tears due to fatigue.
There were nights that fear said, “You can’t do this.” You’re not who you thought you were. You don’t get the life you wanted.”
Honestly, this is when fear consumed me.
But it was also at this point, that I stopped it. I put fear in its place. I had to, because living the life I was choosing to live left me drained in every way possible.
You see, thoughts of that machine and my life expectancy and condition consumed me. Despite that, I kept working full time. And, I attempted to continue to be the mother my son deserved. I continued to try to keep a functioning home. But, what was in my thoughts despite the fact that I kept putting one foot in front of the other was fear.
I knew it had to stop. So, I stopped it.
I quit thinking about it. I put what little energy I had into things I cared about. Impacting others through coaching. Beginning my reading again. Spending time with my husband, not thinking or talking about my condition. Being mentally present when interacting with my son.
Then, at night when it was time to sleep, I just put the machine on, laid down and didn’t allow fear to say, “You can’t.” I tried to make that the only time I thought about the machine.
I put fear in it’s rightful place in my life.
Is it still there, at times? Sure, I’m human.
But, when it pops up, I put it away. Because it’s a lie. Because if I allow it to, it consumes me.
I am now learning to sleep with the CPAP and beginning to get my energy back. It is still going to be a process and there will still be ups and downs, but fear no longer determines my path. I do.
As I walked into work each day, the kids in our school were learning about courage. One classroom had this posted outside their room: “Courage is the ability to persevere through any emotion.” There’s no promises of this being easy. But the chance is there and the path lies in our ability to choose. Choose the role fear plays your life.
The last four months of my life have been the hardest I’ve ever lived. But, it has provided lessons that I have never experienced to this depth. I am grateful for the experience. I am stronger because of it.
“I want to master life.”
That’s what I told my LifePlan facilitator. As the words came out of my mouth, there was a nagging thought that said “that’s not true.”
It wasn’t until today, after reflecting on a stressful week last week, that I realized how I needed to shift that mindset.
It’s three months post-LifePlan for me. I’ve been reflecting on my the event and my LifePlan, self-assessing where I’m at. The truth is I’m flawed and some weeks I do better than others. Work demands led me to putting in a lot of hours last week, at the cost of exercise and other things that refuel me like reading and writing. We dove into a weekend with a full schedule. Saturday night hit and I was spent. I hit my point where stress was allowing victim thoughts to enter my thought pattern.
I intentionally did three things that changed that.
I flipped through Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose. I read these words.
- You need to free yourself of the need to feel like you have to be everything to everyone.
- You have to let go of the absurd idea that you owe everyone an explanation.
- You have to learn to flat out Ignore certain things.
- If the only reason you are doing something is because you feel obligated just because someone asked you to do it–don’t do it.
I was busy at the time, in the midst of “finally” doing duties around the house (something I had neglected throughout the week). But, I put these thoughts in the back of my head.
I listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast, “How to Finally Achieve Work Life Balance” during an early morning run.
I was reminded of what this means to me…my belief that work life balance is living out my values. Honesty with myself, led me to admit that I didn’t live out my values last week by neglecting being a good steward with my physical health and allowing work to consume me. (Which caused frustration with myself because in LifePlan I said my number one thing that caused me to put my breaks on in life is my health–when I’m not taking care of myself, everything suffers). Granted, there were things with work that had to be done, but I was not strategic enough in setting up my schedule in the first place.
The most important intentional move I made of the weekend….saying no to some things Sunday afternoon that were not priority (despite the fact that they felt demanding) and I retook control of my life–control I had given away. I put on my running shoes and hit the asphalt. I came home and prepared healthy lunches for the week. And, I spent some time alone refueling. Did that mean I didn’t get work done? That is true. But, my mindset is healthy and ready to take on the week. And, I’m no longer a victim.
As I mowed the yard Sunday evening, it hit me. What I said in LifePlan was wrong. I don’t want to master life. I can’t control “life” as I had it defined in that statement–outside influences.
I want to master me.
Because here’s the thing. We are human. We are flawed. We become stressed. We are challenged. We even sometimes have to fight a victim mindset. But, we have so much more power than we claim to. We have power over our thoughts. We have power over our victim mentality (even in the midst of stress, which is when it creeps in on me). We determine our actions. We have the power to shift our mindset.We have the power to live our values.
We have the power to master ourselves.
It was the last run of my summer before I returned to work as an instructional coach.
It was early morning, the perfect time to turn on the podcast, hit the road and just “listen” to what my life was telling me in my pursuit of truth.
I put on my headset, turned on the podcast and said “a few sprinkles of rain” aren’t going to stop me.
About a mile and a half in, it was pouring.
No biggie. I could just run back to the car and finish exercise on the treadmill at home.
I arrived at the car, rain running down my face, clothes wet and started the car.
Then, something caused me to pause.
Why not run in the rain?
Think of the advantages. Sure, I couldn’t listen to my podcast, but I could feel the rain running down me (something we all love to do as kids) and finish my run.
So, I did. And I “heard” two things as a result of embracing that moment.
1) Why do we let “rain” stop us in life? Sure, it was annoying to have my clothes sticking to me. I couldn’t listen to my podcast. My run was interrupted. A bug even flew up my nose. But, there was great joy in the moment because I wasn’t going to let a curve ball thrown at me disrupt my plans. I ask again, why do we do that in life? Let’s not let stress stop us. Or doubt. Or fear. Or hard work. Or disappointment. Instead, know what you value. Know the investment and what it’s worth. And embrace the struggles. Who knows, you might even enjoy overcoming them.
2) I rarely stop to walk when I run. I’m there to run, to push myself. But, I felt compelled to walk in the rain towards the end of my run. What I “heard” was “slow down and listen.” So, I did. You see this summer, I think, will be one of the biggest turning points in my life (the reasons outlined on this blog). I was overcome with gratitude that an opportunity to recognize my root system and it’s impact on me presented itself to me this summer. I was thankful I was drawn to that place in Franklin, TN. Thankful for my facilitator, for the brief moment in time when he played a significant part of my life. Not only that, but the revelations and people who “showed up” in my life after that; people with a message that would facilitate my journey further. And finally, thankful for my focus on the truth. Life is filled with precious moments, moments that bring us richness so that we can then bring richness to others. I walked in the rain and just felt the gratitude.
So, why not run in the rain, literally and figuratively. Embrace is for all it holds.
And, when life tells you to pause and listen, do so.
“Don’t worry about step 2 or step 222, worry about step 1. What is the next right thing you feel like you’re supposed to do?” ~ Matt Ham
One of my key strengths is listening. Typically, it’s in regard to conversation, but today it’s in regard to listening to one’s life. When I first read about listening to your life in Jeff Goins’s book The Art of Work, it really stood out to me. I instantly knew that’s what I needed to do.
What does it mean to listen to your life? That’s a question that could be a post in itself, but for today, it specifically means listening to those statements, oftentimes singular, but powerful statements, that are said to you that could profoundly change your life.
The statement above about focusing on just the next step is one of those statements.
The summer has brought a lot of contemplation about the future. So much so that I consistently awake in the middle of the night. I’ve never been one to do this. I wake with nothing specific on my mind, which causes me confusion as to why I keep awakening. I do think it’s in regard to the future, the enormity of it, what I want and need it to be, the possibilities that exist and the actions I need to take.
Thoughts like that can be both invigorating, but overwhelming. Thoughts like this:
1) I want a marriage that is solid, strong and one that builds each of us up so much that we can them help one another, our kids and others.
2) I want to significant impact others so that they can live their best life.
3) I want to seize every moment with my son because I know the moment he is little is brief and precious.
4) I want to give all that I need to, all that I’m supposed to, before I die.
Though I think it’s important to take on those thoughts, it can cause us to lose sight of the next five minutes.
Here’s what I believe: If we apply this concept every day, all these small moments will lead to those big moments in life we want to accomplish. In fact, I would argue, it’s those small moments we need to celebrate because that’s when the change happens. That’s when we affect lives. That’s when we live our best life.
So, on my list of my “next five minutes” today, I have:
1) Awake early so that I can have reflection and refuel time.
2) Write this post.
3) Eat a breakfast this is a good balance of protein and fiber.
4) Have a focused and intense work session tonight to prepare for delivering professional development next week.
5) Proactively make the interactions with my husband in a way that shows that I cherish him. Choose not to let the stress of being the wife of a business owner negatively effect me.
6) Be 100% present.
7) Choose patience, love, and light-heartedness as I interact with my son. Know that it’s not the amount of time I get with him, but the quality of the time I do.
What will you do with your next five minutes today?
I felt a pressure on me, a self imposed one, to achieve.
Man, that’s so true. The truth is, I’ve always felt this pressure and even thrived off of it. It allowed me to academically excel through school. It allowed me to be a leader through performance and example on the softball field. It allowed me to earn several scholarships to attend college. It allowed me to change the cycle of poverty that I grew up in. It allowed me to enter leadership positions.
It was my motivation….to jump from achievement to achievement, from “end point to endpoint” and say “what’s next?” I was always thinking ahead.
I appreciate the role achievement has played in my life.
However, I’m wondering now, if achievement is defined differently, post LifePlan.
This question came to me after an early morning run that lasted 70 minutes. (It’s been at least three years since I’ve ran that much at one time). What I felt after that run was different than what I used to feel after I “achieved” something.
I think previously I would have made a mental check mark in my head and it literally took pressure off of me. Whereas, if I couldn’t mark something off my achievement list, my emotions, my mood, my drive suffered and I questioned myself. Not outwardly, but inwardly, I beat myself up.
My definition of achievement is not yet solidified and perhaps this post will help me navigate that.
So, if I attempt to describe how I felt after running this morning….did I feel a sense of accomplishment? Sure, but I didn’t bask in it. I felt like I was being a good steward with my body and health. And because of that, I could then invest in others better. My impact on others would now be more than if I would have slept in and ignored my physical health. I didn’t make a mental checkoff, but instead, I had a sense of a higher purpose, much higher than that one achievement. I was ready to invest in others.
Perhaps, before LifePlan, it was about the achievement itself. And, now, it’s what the “achievement” allows.
I’ve always believed in serving a higher purpose and that has been a big part of my motivation. But, now, I’m truly living it. Truly feeling it. It’s about the journey and the impact, not the achievement.
So maybe achievement defined for me is being a good steward with all that I’ve been blessed with so that I can serve a higher purpose, more than I ever have before. It’s not a destination, a goal, or an endpoint.
For me, courage is supreme of all core values.
I can’t speak to any other time in history, but in our current society, it’s paramount because so much in our society says we should do “x” often times at the expense of what is best for us.
After listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast entitled “How to Achieve More by Sleeping More,” I began to write a post about sleep, particularly since there was one night I didn’t get much sleep this week and my mental, emotional and physical health didn’t even compare to the rest of the week. I wrote the post, then thought, “the message here is bigger than sleep. The message is about courage.”
As Hyatt talks about in the podcast, I hear conversations almost daily of people talking….really bragging about their lack of sleep, as if it’s a badge of honor. People even say to them “You’re amazing! I couldn’t go on four hours of sleep.”
Let’s have courage in the face of this cultural acceptance of lack of sleep and instead look at those who are disciplined with their sleep and thus more productive and happier and say to them “You’re amazing. I can do that, too.”
Does this take courage? Sure it does, because it’s going against the norm, the cultural norm.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not on a pedestal here. I am the wife of someone who owns their own business. I have a three-year-old son. And, I work full time as well. I don’t always get my sleep.
And, there will be seasons in your life where it’s necessary that you go without sleep. The goal is to not make that your norm.
Following LifePlan, I made it more of a priority and it has opened up doors like crazy. I am able to maintain emotional stability when things get stressful at home. I am able to exercise more effectively. I am able to be a more productive worker. And, I am happier.
A sobering fact was shared in Hyatt’s podcast. A research study showed that people who only got 6 hours of sleep for two weeks, functioned at the same level of impairment as someone who is legally drunk.
“We act like sleep is a luxury or an indulgence. As a result, sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity has become routine. But the opposite is true. Cheating our sleep is like maxing out our credit cards. There’s a benefit now (at least it feels like it), but the bill always comes due in the form of decreased health and mental ability.”
Have courage. Be different. Take care of yourself. Watch your achievement soar and, more importantly, your health and relationships be given the priority they deserve.
The LifePlan ripple effect continues to amaze me.
What’s the ripple effect, you ask?
Let me begin here…
In LifePlan, we charted the things that both accelerate my progress and slow it down. Health was top on my list for things that slowed me down. I have battled IBS since I was 20. There was a time, when it literally impeded my daily life, resulting in tears and frustrations as it affected my ability to do my job. It no longer controls me as I have a handle on it now. However, during times that I don’t have discipline to eat a high-fiber, clean diet with lots of water or I don’t exercise, every other aspect of my life is affected because IBS attacks me. We didn’t discuss all this in LifePlan, but it was easy for me to throw out “health” when asked what slows me down.
After LifePlan, that was the easiest thing to take on. Being an athlete means being physical is something I love. Implementing an early morning exercise routine was simple and has finally refueled me as is is the very first thing I do and I listen to life and leadership podcasts as I do it (another thing that refuels me). Just this, in itself, has made a big impact on me.
This totally makes sense and I could have predicted the positive results of this.
Here’s what I didn’t know LifePlan would do. Here’s the ripple effect. Something happens on those early mornings when my shoes hit the pavement. Something happens as I listen to people like Chris Locurto, Matt Ham, Michael Hyatt and Dan Miller. Through listening to these guys, I learn about myself and others. And, I learn about life. Through it all, I see my path…maybe not way down the road, but I see very clearly what I need to do each day and each week to be a good steward with my talents and blessings. I see more clearly how to implement my LifePlan. I’m beginning to “listen” to my life and gain perspective that motivates me more than I can say.
My #1 activity I have to do to accelerate myself IS about health. But, I didn’t know the refueling that would happen at that time would impact me the way it has. I didn’t know I would “hear” so many truths during that time…truths that sometimes come from the podcast host and some that come from somewhere else, in the depths of my soul, maybe?
I didn’t know this ripple effect would happen—by taking on something as straightforward as “health” would allow me the time to “pause” and listen to my life.
The ripple effect this one activity has allows me to more effectively implement my LifePlan.
“It’s Bigger Than LifePlan.”
In The Art of Work Jeff Goins speaks of listening to your life to find your calling.
On my run this morning, I listened to Matt Ham’s podcasts for the first time. Wow! His podcasts just became a permanent part of my refueling routine! There’s so many golden nuggets I got in what he said in the three podcasts I listened to. (Golden nuggets that I’ll expand on in other posts). In addition to what he said, it’s what I “heard” this morning. I heard something that was full of such truth. I didn’t hear it from Matt, I heard it as I listened to Matt.
What I heard was “Your journey right now is bigger than LifePlan.”
There’s a path I’m on and I’m not sure where it leads, but I do know it’s about others.
LifePlan, I realized this morning, was the event; it was the catalyst for something bigger. It was vital, powerful and needed. But, as life changing as it was, what I’m about to undergo is much bigger than I could have imagined.
What I do know, is whatever “it” is, it’s using my talents and blessings to benefit others. I don’t know what it is, but I do know what I’m doing every day now, as a result of LifePlan, will help me through this journey of finding “it.”
The awesome thing is, this is not unique to me. I guarantee you, we all have that in us…something we’re meant to do that’s bigger than us. And, that, excites me beyond measure–to know that everyone has a gift, a talent, a calling that can have immeasurable impact.
And, on another side note, I’m so thankful for that run this morning. Not only was I a good steward with my body, I heard something by listening to Matt’s podcasts, that I would not have otherwise heard.
What’s your calling? What’s keeping you from your calling? Are you working towards it, but you’re not quite sure what it is?