Bucket List

Recently I’ve been having occasional irregular heartbeats and I decided to go to the doctor to get it checked out. I currently have to wear a heart rate monitor and haven’t found anything out yet but I’ve taken the first step so we’ll just take the next one as it comes. It got me thinking (weird) about our time here on Earth and how impossibly short it really is. So I’ve started a short-term and long-term Bucket List of things I want to do while I’m still able. The rules I placed on the list were: (1) each short-term goal must be attainable (2) each goal must be specific (3) each goal must be something outside myself or changing things about myself.

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In the short-term (by the end of 2014) I will:
– Finish training & begin coaching classes at the gym downtown Des Moines
– Start a daily yoga practice for mindfulness
– Send two random care packages to friends
– Finish my last two AHM classes
– Attend at least three more networking events

In the long-term I want to:
– Buy my first puppy
– Hold a position on a Nonprofit Board of Directors
– Visit Sequoia & Yosemite National Parks
– Hike The Grand Canyon
– Go back to Italy
– Complete a 200 hour yoga teaching certification
– Publish a short story or poem
– Live outside of Iowa for at least two years
– Address my own wedding invitations (even if it’s just the name on the address)
– Own a piece of land in the Midwest or in Colorado
– Buy a house to fix up
– Paint or create something for my home

Reflecting on my list, I am incredibly proud. For reasons I will keep to myself, I am proud. I want to live a life of happiness and appreciation. Tackling these small steps may help me on my way.

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Decisions

I’ve been thinking a lot about decisions.  After battling a hangover on Sunday from over-serving myself a few cocktails on Saturday night I started to internalize.  I typically do this on a daily basis… In every imaginable situation.  When I was younger, I remember my father continuously saying to me “don’t take stuff so personally” and I don’t really think I ever learned how to do that.  So just add it to the list!  I really began to internalize and personalize things when I was in college.  I’m no shy bird when it comes to admitting that my college days were not my prettiest.  I was reckless with my relationships, my body, and my life choices.  It was during this time, however, that I craved social acceptance more than I ever had before.  My moral compass drifted towards other peoples’ expectations versus my own.  So I’d do things to get attention and feel like a part of the group because I thought people would approve of what I’d done based on camaraderie (a sort of “you jump, I jump” mentality amongst my peers at the time).  Instead, I found that my group of friends publicly mocked my choices and I was left to shrivel.  Now let me be clear, I do not think that anyone maliciously mocked me; I believe it was all in good fun but I haven’t ever been one of those people that can handle being mocked.  I blame it on the red hair!  Now, more than ever, I still feel my temper rising when I place myself in a situation where I could be “publicly mocked”.  Case-in-point:  this weekend.  I immediately assumed that I had done something to embarrass myself or embarrass my date; which I didn’t– but since I’ve made a fool of myself countless times while under the influence of alcohol in the past, I just assumed I’d done it once again but it made me shrink back into my hole like a groundhog that saw his shadow.  I immediately began apologizing to everyone that had seen me the night before kind of expecting to hear something like “yeah, you were a total idiot” but instead I didn’t.  What a relief, right?  Wrong.  At this point, I should have been able to move on but instead I continued to feel sorry for and berate myself.  I challenged my worth because I repeated a decision(s) that I find shameful from my past.  Let me be clear, I think I hold value, I think that I have a lot to offer the right group of people and I also think that I make mistakes.  The trick, for me, seem to be in finding which mistakes I truly need to feel ashamed of and which mistakes I can chalk up as a learning experience in life.  We’ve all heard the age-old quotes about mistakes and decisions leading us to a point in life where we can laugh at all the “stupid” things that we’ve done but I’m not quite at that point.  So how do I begin to heal this chronically needy girl inside me that can’t take a joke & beats herself up for having one extra 7 and 7?  I’ve been told that the trick is realizing that our decisions (whether good or bad) are not who we are but instead something we choose to do at a particular moment.  If I describe myself to someone, I don’t typically start by saying “My name is Steph; I live in Iowa and had one too many whiskey drinks in April 2014,” instead I describe things about myself that carry value, “My name is Steph; I love live music, the color green, and trying new foods with friends and family”.  I’ve got to get to a point where I believe all of the positive things about myself (instead of the negative) so that I can finally be able to say that a bad decision was a momentary lapse in judgement and move on.  Dwelling doesn’t get you anywhere (as demonstrated by the past 14 months of my life).  My challenge is to calm my inner critic so that I can be less critical of myself and my peers.  It’s a daily struggle (I’m sure it’s apparent by this and previous posts) but I’m working on it and at this point, that’s the best I can do.  Like my good friend (I wish) Betty White said (well according to my Google search she did)…

xoxo Betty White

Setting The Stage

So I’ve been thinking a lot about it. How do I build myself up? How do I make myself believe that all the negative self-talk isn’t the truth and celebrate my strengths? The truth is, at this point, I don’t have the answer. But I’m on the road… I’ve finally made the conscious choice to make the journey towards self-love instead of self-loathe.

I’ve decided that instead of trying to force anything, I am going to focus on my passions. By seeking the things that add joy to my life, I may inadvertently find my strengths as well.

So here’s a short list:
Exercising; back in high school I fell in love with running, for the wrong reasons, but it made a lasting impression on my life. If I’m ever having a bad day or need to clear my head, I can throw on my running shoes and make my way back to reality. So for the duration of this personal challenge, I am choosing to focus in fitness for the right reasons. My goal is to find two news ways that I like to get sweaty by the end of the year..
Singing; I’ve loved to sing since I was a little girl. I used to sing all the time (much to the dismay of my family as it was typically something I totally made up or a boy band hit). I was convinced I was going to be famous for it one day. But then, somewhere along the line, I began to get embarrassed of my singing and I just sort if stopped. Now don’t get me wrong, I still bust out a ballad or two when I’m alone in my car but that’s the only time I do! My goal is to begin to sing again; unashamed of how I may sound or who may hear me. I’m just going to do it anyway!
Getting outside; there’s really something about being outside for a sunset or those Sunday mornings you can pull yourself out of bed to enjoy the silence of a universally slow morning and listen to the birds chirp. I am going to try to enjoy at least two of those spring mornings this year and many more stolen moments outside enjoying the sun (with sunscreen on of course.)
The people I love; this may seem like something odd to add to a ‘passionate about’ list since it applies to more than one person but for me, it’s something I couldn’t leave off! There is a reason this falls last on the list though.. In order to really focus on them and be the best version of myself for them, I think I have to conquer my inner demons first. To avoid the no-use arguments and miscommunications with my near and dear, I have to figure out my stuff first. So my goal is to really be able to open myself up to all my loved ones by the end of the year by opening myself up to loving who I am. This is going to be my hardest goal to accomplish by far but it will also be the longest lasting reward.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi

This strategy may not work in the wrong run but it can’t hurt and it certainly won’t be a bad thing to add more simple jog in my life! So I’m jumping in! Anyone have a song suggestion for me?!

So what about you? What are you passionate about? What things or activities do you love that can really bring you back to earth when you most need it?

Spilling The Beans..

I feel compelled to explain where this urge to renew myself has come from. It comes from a long string of cyclical events that have left me with two choices; 1, get off the hamster wheel and figure out what the heck is going on or 2) continue spinning in circles until I puke..

For what seems like the bulk of a year, I have been living a high/low lifestyle (two week high followed by a two week low…) For most of this time, I have been making excuses as to why I’ve been feeling the way that I do. Most of these excuses place me as the martyr but the reality is, I’ve been doing this to myself for such a long time that it just seems natural. Two week high, two week low… Now I don’t want you to get the idea that I am depressed, I truly believe I am far from that but I will say that I am struggling with something. Some days its more apparent than others but I am struggling with the often debilitating issue of self-love (or lack thereof). It’s tough to pinpoint when this all began and even harder to pinpoint when it really became something that I wasn’t going to be able to shake without major effort.

Let me go way back… When I was younger, I was unbreakable. My father used to call me “Tuffy” because nothing would phase me. I would get hurt, I would get angry, I would get called a name, and I would not cry (these are all legends, I am taking my father’s word for it and I promise he is an honorable man). I was a tomboy through and through and I did not know any different. My older brother influenced my decisions (leading to the terrible choice to cut my hair into a bowl-cut that I kept for the better part of three years) and my interests. You could find me playing with the boys instead of the girls at recess, always returning to our classroom a little bit sweatier than your average girl. All of this changed, however, when I entered fourth grade. It sounds so ridiculous and cliche to say that puberty is what caused all of this but for me, this was the year I really remember not liking the way that I looked for the first time. As time went on and I began my teenage years, things just got worse. Everyone goes through their own set of changes during their teenage years– you test your foundation and usually come crashing down! But I’ve seemed to test my foundations well into my twenties. I’ve battled eating issues, exercise obsessiveness, anxiety over my self-worth because of my body image, and bad decisions made because I didn’t value myself.  Slowly, I have been able to overcome some of the things my inner critic makes me battle about myself but I have yet to overcome them all.  I could continue to go into detail but for my sanity, I will stop for now.

I am the unwitting product of a culture that places impossible standards on its women and because of this, I have placed impossible standards on myself. Let’s be real, the things that I see as problems are not truly “problems” to everyone and I could be mocked for how I feel but we all have our demons this just happens to be mine.  At the ripe age of 26, however, I’ve decided that in order for me to live up to my full potential I have to make a change.  The good news (I keep reminding myself) is that I truly believe I have an incredible amount of potential.  I have just been selling myself short for so long that it takes a constant set of reminders for me to believe it and feel empowered enough to do something about it.  This spring I have set to improve my mind.  The rest, I truly believe, will come once I can find balance inside my own head.  There is something so beautiful about finding your own strengths and I am determined to find mine.

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275 Days to Self Discovery…

I have been going through a bit of a personal evolution lately.. I’ve been opening myself up to new things, looking for opportunities where I may not have looked before, and really trying to shed my winter skin.  I have always been a seasonal person.  I know many people do not believe in someone’s emotions changing with the seasons but until you experience the highs of being outside with the wind in your hair in warm weather and then fight through major cabin fever in a winter like we’ve just seen, you just don’t understand.  So I have decided as part of this ongoing personal project to throw caution to the wind and start this blog.  I am hoping that through this I can open myself up to even more things and reawaken my senses (my sense of self, my passion for living, and a refreshed understanding about the world around me).  Before I go on, let me explain a little about myself and what lead me to this point.  Have you ever had all the right pieces in place in your life but there’s still something missing?  That’s where I am right now.  Everything is lining up nicely in my life.  I truly have nothing to complain about but internally there is a constant battle between my thoughts and my emotions.  I have been on a roller coaster ride for much of my adolescent and young adult life and I am determined to take the reins.  

I could go into detail about how I’ve been battling my inner critic since I was in elementary school but for now I’ll spare the details.  That may come at a later point.  I will say, however, that I have always been the type of person that can adapt to a variety of people and situations… and where I love that about myself, it isn’t necessarily conducive to self discovery.  Once I feel like I know who I am something changes in my life (some factor that I didn’t really even consider before) that causes my foundation to give way to someone that’s left with missing pieces.   After more than 15 years of this, I am simply.. spent.  I am making it a bit of a mission to take the remainder of this year to find out exactly what makes me tick.  I feel a bit like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride; I am going to find out what type of eggs I like, an author I simply can’t put down, and my favorite music to listen to.  I am going to make these decisions without fear of criticism from others and I am going to own my choices.  I am so eager to learn about myself and figure out my passions so that, hopefully, by the end of this year I am able to move forward without fear and doubt… Like I said, “throwing caution to the wind!”  

The first step in this personal challenge is taking on new things in my life.  I have made the decision to begin training to teach fitness classes at a local gym and also to take a calligraphy course at a local high school.  Two things I’ve wanted to do for quite some time but for some reason have held myself from.  Not anymore.  No harm can come from doing something new but a whole heck of a lot of harm can come from sitting idle.  I’m tired of sitting idle in my life…  So here goes nothin’! 

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