Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Beauty of the Female Athlete

It's noon and she still has raccoon eyes....not the typical "day after" makeup, but residual rings from her sunrise swim.
Her hair is always pulled up in a messy bun because she would rather run an extra 30 min then spend the time with a straightening iron.
Her curves are in her biceps and calves instead of her chest.
You know her sport from her tan lines, and all you have to do is mention strength training for the veins to pop in her forearms.
She is perpetually cold, and hungry.
Getting fake eyelashes would be like throwing $200 into the swampy lake, and her nails are kept short out of necessity.  
She has muscles down to her feet, and wears black nail polish to cover bruised toenails.
She looks ridiculous in frilly dresses- she will never be considered "petite".  
Wrinkles surround her sun kissed lips.

But she has a sparkle in her eyes
And desire in her heart.
Passion permeates her being
and she is confident and secure.  

She is strong
And she is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Never worry again

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
Matthew 6:27

I've decided to stop worrying.  Period.  
Why?  Because I'm fucking exhausted.  

I've always been a worrier by nature.  I remember as a teenager keeping an eye on the speedometer when my parents were driving, worrying that they were going over the speed limit and that "we" might get a ticket.  I worried that people wouldn't like me because I didn't have the right jeans or haircut.  
I worried that I might not get into college, even though I was talented and made good grades.  

As a school teacher, I worried that I might have a challenging day.  That I wouldn't be able to handle situations that were thrown at me.  That my day might be "ruined" by a certain class or child.  I made up all kinds of stories in my head about what the day could hold for me, way before the actual start at 8 am.

As a new coach I worked to build trust, and worried that people wouldn't understand why I planned the way I did.  I worried that I "didn't know enough", even though I ate, slept and breathed running.

I worry about relationships.  Abandonment.  Being good enough.  Trust.

Even today I worry if the risks I'm taking are worth it, although my heart is happier than it's been in a very long time.  

Dan Zadra said "Worrying is a misuse of imagination."  
We are really good at making up "worry stories" in our head, but the reality is they are simply that- stories.  
They are not real. 
Our hope is that if we continue to hash out the situation we will be able to figure it out and find a solution, but the reality is that worry robs us of our present moment- time that we will never get back.  

I believe the way to end worrying is to replace that story with one of gratitude.  
I have everything I need.
For 43 years I have been fed, clothed, nurtured and loved.  I am strong and capable.
If we are here on this earth for a purpose, which I believe we are....then surely our creator will take care of us.  If I am here to help others, then won't I also be helped?  

I've wasted too much time and energy worrying.  Instead of allowing myself to be hooked by the trap of hope and fear, I will do my best to relax into the magic of this unfolding life.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Open your eyes

"Why are you looking for the living among the dead?"
Luke 24:5

You fucked up.
You lied, cheated, said unkind things, were jealous, lustful, angry, greedy.....the list goes on. 
I know you did, because I did too.  We all fuck up every single day.
But you know what?  The Easter story reminds us that it doesn't matter.
That tomb is empty.  Your past is gone.  

So often people remind us of all the ways we could have been better, looked better, lived better.  We've been feed the stories for so long that we either drown in guilt or suffocate ourselves with the gnarled hands of regret.
It's easy to lose faith (in life) if we continue to sleep with the past. 

Buddha tells us "do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Wake up and open your eyes!
To the crimson sun that peeks through mountaintops.
To sisters that steal covers from each other at night.
To the boy who caresses her cheek as she sleeps.
To puppies and pigtails.
To jellybeans and peeps. 
To dancing in the rain.
To hope and promise. 

In awakening, we are risen indeed.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Living in the present moment- Just fold the damn clothes!

"Do not dwell in the past, Do not dream of the future.  Concentrate the mind on the present moment."  Buddha

When it comes to folding clothes or putting the dishes away, I am the champion procrastinator.  That pile of clean clothes has been fructifying in a hidden corner of my bedroom all week.  I have an extra 20 minutes to spare this morning, so I set to begin the folding.  
But wait, my coffee cup is empty.  I can't fold clothes with an empty cup of coffee!  Coffee first.
And...I need music.  Pandora first.  
A text beckons on the phone- a client with a question.  Client first.  
Oooh look, someone has sent a friend request on Facebook.  Facebook first.  

As I finally begin folding, my monkey mind begins to race.  
Did I answer that email my boss sent yesterday?  
I wonder what my swim workout is for today.....I should look......
Did I write that appointment in my calendar?  
What should we eat for dinner tonight?  
The thoughts scrambled in my brain were so overwhelming that I had an Oprah "aha" moment. 
I realized the reason why I hated folding clothes.  The simplicity of it all forced me to slow down. 
"All you have to do right now Jennifer is fold these damn clothes.  It's simple.  Make them into a square. Put them in piles.  Walk them to the closet, or put them in a drawer.  Concentrate woman.  Clothes."
So I did.  I concentrated on the clothes.  The socks that my daughter pulls on to play soccer.  The bike shorts that protect my ass on long rides.  My work clothes, black and simple.  The warm towels that I wrap up in after a shower.  The lingerie.....well, we won't go there ;)
And in that moment, I realized these clothes were a blessing, not a chore.  

And- there was a blog to write!  But clothes first...........

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ask. You Shall Receive

"What do I do when my love is away
Does it worry you to be alone?
How do I feel by the end of the day
Are you sad because you're on your own?
No, I get by with a little help from my friends"
The Beatles

I've never been one to ask for help.  I guess I viewed having to do so as a sign of weakness; so I always got up earlier, worked longer hours, studied more, and stayed up late figuring out how to do everything by myself.  
Funny how things happen, but a recent life change has left me yelling  "uncle" and I've been forced to humble myself.  I've had to ask for help.  Tears well up as I write this because the support I have received from my friends makes me realized how blessed I truly am.  

I don't have to worry about moving anymore, a 2 bedroom apartment is waiting for me in March and my kids will have their own furnished bedroom.  It's in the perfect place for work and family balance. 
My new job stimulates and excites me.  I  have ownership over a new project, something I really have been longing for.  My brilliant co-workers are helping to grow my business and we work together as a team.  
My coach continues to push me, and it seems that almost every week I am introduced to someone who will teach me on my Ironman journey.  

It's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but I am so fortunate to have crazy friends who not only come along for the ride, but also let me bury my head in their shoulder when I'm too afraid to look.  Friends who remind me everyday that not only am I taken care of, but that life is amazing!

I realize now that I've been the guy in the old joke standing on the top of the house with God sending me signals for months: 

There was a big flood, and the water around a man's house was rising steadily.
The man was standing on the porch, watching water rise, when a man in a boat came along and called to him, "Get in the boat and I'll get you out of here." The man replied, "No thanks, God will save me."
The man went into the house, and the water starting pouring in. So, he went up to the second floor.
As he looked out, another man in a boat came along, and he called to him, "Get in the boat and I'll get you out of here."
Again, the man replied, "No thanks. God will save me."
The water kept rising. So, the man got out onto the roof.
A helicopter flew over, and the pilot called down to the man, "I'll drop you a rope, grab it, and I'll get you out of here."
Again the man replied, "No thanks. God will save me."
The water continued to rise, and soon covered the whole house. The man fell in, and drowned.
When he arrived in Heaven, he saw God, and asked Him, "Why didn't you save me from that terrible flood?"
God replied, "I sent people in two boats and a helicopter. Were you expecting angels?"

 Thank you God for the boat, the helicopter AND the angels.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

This Shit's Getting Real- Why I'm Taking a Week off from Facebook.

"We need to see our situation for what it is.  We're not really crazy or stupid.  
We just don't see- that is, we don't pay attention to what we see." 
Steve Hagen 

Hi, my name is Jennifer, and I am what my friend would call "a Facebook whore".
When I pick up my phone, my thumb automatically hits the blue app with the lowercase "f" on it.  I have 8 notifications that are calling my name.  Yay!  Someone has acknowledged me!  Someone "likes" what I said, or what I look like, or what I've done.  Yay me!  So of course now I have to scroll through and read everyone's posts. Damn, I've lost another 30 minutes of my life looking into everyone else's, and the reality is that for every motivational and encouraging post I see, I also view one that fills me with automatic anxiety.

I've spent some time this week really looking inward; and through reading, listening and real down- home discussion I've found that right now, being in this moment as it presents its self is exactly where I need to be.

And, as hard as this is going to be for me, I think that means taking a break from Facebook.
(There. I said it out loud.)

Because I don't need to compare my life to yours-  hope is not a coping strategy.
I don't need to be distracted from the things that are really important and happening to me right now.
I don't need to look to you for approval or happiness.
I don't need to know where you are going, or where you have been, or who you are talking to.

What I do need is real conversation- look me in the eyes or let me hear your sweet voice.
I need focus and concentration on the present situation as it unfolds, especially with my new job.
I need to take care of my clients.
I need to be ok with who I am, where I am and who I spend my time with.
I need to train hard so I can accomplish the goals I have set for myself.
I need to be present for those I am blessed to be around in this moment.

Facebook has many positives. I have met so many fun and inspirational people-some of my best friends and workout partners. I've been able to re-connect with friends from my past.   I've been invited to cool events and celebrations.  I have used it as a forum to try to motivate and help others, and have learned from those more experienced then me.
I am not anti-Facebook and I'm sure I'll be back; but starting Monday I'm going to see what it is like to take one week away from my preoccupation with Facebook.
It's going to be hard!  But instead of picking up my phone in the morning, I choose to spend that time reading or meditating.   I will only post if I have something to promote my business or something to celebrate others success.  My mind is telling me that this is bullshit, but my heart is telling me that this is one small step forward towards really SEEING.  One step I can take in order to be present in the goodness of what IS!

Good luck to you on your upcoming races.  Find a new business contact.   Be well in your journey.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  Be grateful.   Love each other.  Celebrate life.
Meanwhile, if you would like to talk to me- message me or text, or hey- pick up the phone and call.  Would love to hear the timbre of your voice or see your shining eyes.
Have an amazing week.  I'll let you know how it goes next week,  on Facebook of course ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"Oh but my darling, what if you fly?"

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?” 
― Erin Hanson

It's 4:30 am. I'm wading my feet in the water at the edge of the pool, glazed eyes staring at the glassy water.
My legs are heavy from yesterday's workout and I shiver at the thought of getting in the stinging water, so I sit.

It's 4:40 am.  I should get going.  I lower myself warily into the water.  It's not so bad, so I take a deep breath and dive in.  My breathing soon becomes rhythmic and predictable- strong even, and I am swimming.

Making that first move is always the hardest, and recently I have found myself just sitting there on the edge of unpredictability.  This swim, run, new job, relationship, (insert any part of your human being here) could after all be a complete failure.  I'll be working on commission, what if I'm not as good as I think I am?  It requires a move. What if I'm making a mistake?  What if I find myself alone again?

Paul Boynton, author of Begin With Yes, posted on Facebook this morning that "taking an action, no matter how small, sets things in motion.  Motion, no matter how small, means you are engaged with your life and making things happen.  Don't wait.  You will never have all the answers because each answer creates a new question.  There is a sweet rhythm here when you remember that one question, one answer, that is how life unfolds."

So, even though the water is cold, I choose to dive in with gratitude for new opportunity.  I choose to set things in motion. Another leap of faith that by engaging in life, I will be swimming steadily soon enough.