Fear and Planning

frozen lakeMy dad had a volcanic temper. By volcanic I mean that it was powerful, unpredictable, and it hurt everything in its way. I’m not a doctor, so I hesitate to make an armchair diagnosis, but I suspect a history of untreated mental illness. He had long mood swings with big highs and big lows. He had an addictive personality – he drank copiously and his heavy smoking is ultimately what killed him at age 59. And then, of course, there was the temper.

I loved my dad. Despite what I said above, he was also smart, funny and could fix absolutely anything. He and I liked the same kind of books and movies. We liked to fish, cook and work on projects together. I still miss him.

However, when you grow up with someone with an explosive temper, life becomes tricky. The thing with my dad was that he was absolutely great when it came to big things. My sister and I both have smashed a few cars in our days, and every time, he came to our rescue and was nothing but supportive. However, if something small happened that offended him in someway, well, Lord help you. Here’s a quick example: I was in high school and my mother had bought me a beautiful pale grey mohair sweater. I loved that sweater and wore it as often as I could. I got home from school one day and was just lounging around watching tv. My dad, who happened to have the day off, was working on a woodworking project in the basement. He came up and asked if I could give him a hand and hold some boards while he cut them. I told him I would – but I had to first change my sweater. I didn’t want a bunch of sawdust on it. My dad threw a fit – went nuts. Accused me of being lazy and said things along the line of, “See if I ever help you out with anything again.” After the tantrum? He didn’t speak to me for over a week. I was fourteen.

This is what I grew up with. One of my first childhood memories is walking up and down the block in front of my house with my mother. I was less than 4 years old. It was a cloudy, cold spring day. Neither of us had coats. She held my hand as we circled our street over and over. Why? Because my parents had gotten in an argument. Mom took me out of the house so I didn’t hear dad yell. When she left, he nailed the front door shut.

Yes, you read that right – he not only locked the door – he nailed the front door shut so his young wife and 4 year old daughter couldn’t come back in the house.

Growing up the way I did, I quickly realized that I couldn’t trust anyone. When you are a kid and you have no idea what will set dad off this time, and your mom doesn’t know how to stop it – or defend you – you just learn to rely on yourself. That’s what I did. My mother claims I came out of the womb independent, and that is roughly true. I think it was a combination of genetics and good old fashioned fear that made me learn how to take care of myself.

I don’t blame my mom. Maybe when I was a kid she tried to stop him – I don’t know. Stopping him when he was on a roll though was like trying to stop a freight train. If she got in his way, he’d just flatten her too. I should say – he never raised a fist to me. His abuse was purely emotional. I don’t actually like the word abuse – at the time it didn’t exactly feel that way, it just “was what it was,” but I know now as an adult, it was no way to treat a child. The worst part of his temper was that he knew exactly what to say to you to get you in the guts. It wasn’t just yelling or name calling, it was saying the one thing or two that he knew would make you cry. And he could do it every time.

My mother’s coping mechanism was just to stop talking. She’d leave the room and just not say anything. It wasn’t particularly effective when the anger was directed at her – and it wasn’t at all effective if the anger was directed at me or my sister. Nonetheless, that seemed to be all she knew how to do.

So, what does this mean for me? He’s been gone for over 12 years, why write about this now? This off-kilter childhood of mine is part of what made me into the woman I am. One result is that I don’t trust easily. Relationships, friendships, they are like giant frozen lakes. I move across them slowly, always testing for weak ice. It takes a long time before I truly trust a friend. Honestly, I don’t mind if there is weak ice – I just want to know where it is. For example, I have a friend who is never on time. If I didn’t know that about her – and that it had nothing to do with me – I could be really hurt when she doesn’t show when she says she will. It could seem personal and unreliable, but because I do know it, I can still have faith in her… just not in her punctuality.

My friendships are all with people who are self sufficient. It makes me nervous to be needed too much. I’m not the type that will call regularly, or email, or even set up coffee dates. I may go months without seeing my friends. It isn’t personal. It’s just that I have so much to take care of, but only so much time, energy and willpower. They understand that about me. The also know I don’t do surprises well, I don’t like unexpected company and I sometimes have a hard time with unexpected changes in plans. I like my scheduled plans, my routines, my lists and systems. Since I am responsible for everything in my life, I need those systems to keep everything going.

I don’t ask for help easily, but when I do, I don’t actually expect that I will get it. On the other hand, I feel my own responsibilities very strongly. I take care of the people I love and I hate letting them down. I am loyal and I do my best to balance my time with others with my much needed time alone. I love long talks with friends and loved ones, but I need time alone just to breathe.

I feel very strongly that every responsibility in my life – my career, my homes, my health, my dog, my relationships, they are all on me to maintain. I cannot expect to lean on anyone. It can be a lonely place sometimes, but at least I never pull the rug out from under my own feet.

This is the first time in my life that I have looked at this stuff objectively. It’s how I’ve looked at life as long as I can remember, but now I’m seeing why – and how this is a perfectly logical reaction to what I faced as a kid. There are thousands of ways I could have handled it, (I’m sure each person who has had experiences like mine has dealt with it in their own way,) but this is it for me. Since I’ve been spending time examining my life, I’m seeing connections that I had only guessed at before. How this all fits in with my health and fitness, my plans for the future and this blog that I write… I have no idea, but it does, somehow. I’m going to keep exploring it and let you know what I find out.

 

Photo credit: bjaglin via flickr

 

Rain Boots and Me

rain bootsI rather love rain boots. They are so damn cute. But the thing is, how often can you wear them? I mean, really, how practical are they? Although I’ve been admiring them for years, I’ve never actually owned a pair.

Halloween night I was out walking Hermes. It was raining, of course. (It always rains on Halloween, unless it snows instead.) I saw a girl walking her Husky on the other side of the street. She was wearing adorable polka dot rain boots… and it hit me:

I walk the dog twice a day, every day. You know what? Some of those days, it rains!

In fact, if there is anyone who deserves a pair of rain boots, it’s me! I am forever hunting for waterproof footwear, but buying actual, honest to goodness RAIN BOOTS never occurred to me.

Is it because I am forty? Somewhat, rain boots do seem like something for the young, or young at heart. Neither of which really describes me.

Is it because I am overly practical? Partially, I tend to either buy outdoor gear that is super rugged and durable or really cheap and semi-disposable (like from the thrift store.) Rain boots are outside of both of these categories.

Is it because I am stuffy and uptight and rain boots (especially cute rain boots) seem “undignified”? Ding Ding Ding Ding!!! We have a winner. It occurred to me as I finished the rest of my walk (in hiking boots,) that I have spent a lot of my life with a particular image in my head of how I look and how I dress. I would bet that we all do that, and why not? Can you imagine going to the store with no earthly idea of what you want? (Actually, I can. That just happened to me, but that’s a tale for another post.) The point is, the way we think about ourselves gives us little mental shortcuts. “I hate yellow.” “I never wear turtlenecks.” “I always wear rhinestones.” None of these are true for me, but you get the idea. One of my shortcuts has been, “Rain boots are too cute for me.” But, there comes a time when those mental shortcuts become roadblocks. I think that’s been happening me.

Now that I am a little older and getting a bit more daring, I am starting to challenge many of my old thoughts and beliefs, not just about rain boots, but about all sorts of things. (“I am not athletic,” for example.) Sure, they might have been true once, but are they still true?

I don’t know, but I know this:

It’s raining right now and I am going shopping for some rain boots.

Hermes Update and Dealing with Stress

On a walk in the rain

Can’t wait to see this face.

First, good news! I finally got some good news about my little guy. It has been a long, rough week! As I mentioned, his initial surgery to remove the tumor went well, but it was followed up with complications. Hermes spent two nights in the Emergency Animal Hospital and another night at the vet’s getting blood transfusions and IVs. However, I got the call this morning that he is looking great, has finally eaten some food on his own (his last real meal was Monday morning before all this went haywire,) and is sitting up and bright-eyed. The doc is weaning him off his IVs and if all goes well, I’ll have my little guy back home again by the end of the day.

I can’t wait… the house is far too quiet without him.

Here’s an interesting thing – I’ve been handling the stress differently than I ever have before, and it has a lot to do with the changes I have made over the last year.

I actually hold up fairly well under extreme stress. The day-to-day stuff can really get under my skin, but when things go absolutely sideways, I tend to be pretty solid. I think I get this from my dad who was the same way. (Perhaps a good inheritance for once, eh Andra?) He had some, well, let’s call them “anger management issues” on the day-to-day, but when things went really, really bad, he was always calm, cool and collected. I’ve worked hard not to have the anger problems he had, but I’ve nurtured the calm. I tend to be practical, (sometimes to the extreme,) and while I have my teary moments like everyone else, my goal is always to hold it together until I get through to the other side.

The waiting is the hardest part.* Whenever situations like this come up, especially ones dealing with medical issues, there is always waiting involved. My tried and true method of getting through it is books. Preferably something interesting, but fairly light. My favorite are older, formulaic murder mysteries like the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. I can’t tell you how many books I flew through back when my mother was in the hospital, waiting on some kind of news.

My other tried and true method is emotional eating. I’m not proud – when the shit is hitting the fan, I’m not going to take the time to count calories. Besides, I love food – and I really love great food, so having something decadent really does make me feel better for a bit. This week, I have been doing both of these things. I’ve been burying my head in books  and coating my throat with wine.

But… that isn’t all I have been doing. I’ve also been running, weight lifting and walking. Now, I need to make this clear – I am not trying to balance out the scale here. There is no way one of my runs will burn up the quantity of dark chocolate almond bark and glasses of wine I’ve had. It’s more that I have added another tool for coping. The night Hermes went in for emergency surgery, I knew it was going to be a couple of hours to before I heard how it went. As I headed towards the kitchen, I heard a voice in my head say, “Is emotional eating really going to help right now???

The rest of me said “*&^$!”

… and then went and put on my running shoes. I had that antsy, nervy energy – the kind that makes you want to pace, or punch something. Going for a run, even a bad run, totally let me escape the situation and work off the twitchiness. And man, were my runs bad. My times were terrible, I had equipment failures, I was distracted and unfocused… and yet, I ran. I found, incidentally, that 2 min run / 1 min walk intervals are perfect for this. I didn’t have the willpower, or the mental capacity, to run much more than this, and “just doing whatever” was actually more stressful because it involved making choices – something I had already been doing way too much of this week. Intervals gave me a structure, a purpose, and a framework, plus I could run full-out for 2 minutes if I wanted knowing I had a break coming. Though by every metric my runs were terrible, for me, they were great.

I also worked on my strength training. I mentioned that I am starting to go through The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Even though without Hermes in the house I could have slept in, instead I got up, got out my weights and went to work. I’ve been walking too. One day this week while I was waiting on a call from the vet, I headed out for an hour-long lunch hour walk. Another morning, before weight training, I went for an early morning power walk.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

Sunrise. I took this on an early morning walk this week.

This is all really new to me, and believe me, I understand why it wouldn’t be appealing. One of my coworkers is going through a rough time too. He said, “I am having to do enough stuff that I don’t want to do right now, I am not going to make myself run as well.” I get that! And even though it briefly occurred to me to take the rest of my chocolate into the office and put it on the “free food” table in the break room, I haven’t – there is a still the long road of recovery ahead.

Here’s the point – I think everyone deals with stress a little differently. I am not going to judge anyone for how they handle it. For myself, I am surprised that exercise has become something I’ve started turning to. I’ve heard for years that exercise is good for stress, but it always seemed like a lot of blue mud. How could sweating, and panting and working hard feel good? Yet here I am, workout clothes hanging in the laundry, running shoes ready to go.

 

 

* Did I just get Tom Petty stuck in your head? Please tell me I did.

More than Strength – Building Confidence

Leap of Faith by Hamner_Fotos

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: I feel far more confident today than I did 8 months ago. I am more willing to take risks, try new things and speak my mind. The interesting thing is that it has almost nothing to do with losing weight or my body at all, but it has everything to do with working out. I started to notice the change a couple of months ago. Julian commented on it as well. I originally assumed that it came from losing weight. I looked better, so I felt better, so I seemed more confident. But you know what? That isn’t it. I’ve spent some time really looking inside myself and I’ve come up with a completely different answer.

Taking risks enables me to take other risks.

When I started running, I had no idea what I was doing. (Truthfully, I still don’t.) So, quite literally every step of my way I’ve been pushing my own boundaries. Having hated the idea of athletics for most of my life just getting out and exerting myself in public was a huge risk. Taking a Run Clinic was a big deal for me. It was a great class and I loved it, (and will probably go back for a refresher sometime soon,) but I had to run in front of other people – something I hadn’t done in years. It is good that my fear of injuries is greater than my shyness! Each time I run, I am taking risks – whether they are external (new locations, other people, weather conditions, etc.) or facing my own internal fears and self imposed limits.

And it isn’t just running, buying a kayak and going out on the water solo for my first time was a new experience. Lifting weights has been a building challenge. (Each time I feel confident in a weight, I go out and get the next one!) Julian asked me if I’d ever consider taking a martial arts class, and I have looked at gyms and other fitness centers in my area. I even went some while out of town – a complete first for me.

I haven’t achieved everything I have set out to do. Sometimes despite my best efforts, my plans go awry, things happen I don’t expect. But here is the important part – working out (running, kayaking, etc.) is getting me to continually try new things, and every time, I feel great for getting out there and giving it my best shot. That’s lead to me feeling more confident in myself overall. I am speaking my mind more and tearing down a number of long held beliefs about myself.

Interestingly, that was what this blog was supposed to be about – seeking new paths, learning more about myself, trying new things, and figuring out what matters. I just didn’t expect to find it this way. I’ve been thinking that weight loss and working out and all that were one path on my journey, but now I see that it actually is the path. It’s leading me, emotionally and mentally, towards being able to take leaps of faith in other parts of my life.

Who would have thought?

Photo credit: Hamner_Fotos on flickr

Note: after writing this, I realized it also belonged on my About Me page, so I have added it to both. It seems to really encompass a lot about me right now.

Photos of Long View Hill

All right, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while – I guess now is the time… deep breath….

I’ve compiled a few photos so you can do some “before and current comparisons” that I am going to post. I admit – I’m a little nervous about all this for a whole bunch of reasons, but I figure it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. So, here we go!

Through the years

2005

Good gracious, I have mixed feelings about this photo. On one hand, it was taken on a wonderful trip to Las Vegas with my best girlfriends. We had a great time, and if I look a little tipsy in this photo, that’s because I undoubtably was. I actually have another version of this photo that isn’t quite so… bosomy that I like much better, but this one, (despite my awkward pose… again, lots of alcohol was involved,) shows my figure in all it’s ummmm… glory.

At the time, I thought that shirt was so pretty on me…. sigh….

2010

This is pretty much a standard “me” shot. Nothing fancy, just my day-to-day look. If I look a bit pale, it’s because I had a horrible case of car sickness that day. A friend of mine (the one whose hand you see on my shoulder) and I had taken a long, long drive that day. When we got to our destination I was sick as a dog.  Ah well… Anyway, this is pretty much what I looked like for years.

2012

Me in my new glasses

September 2012

In the photo up above I am all dressed up for a fancy event. This was taken in October of last year. I had a new haircut and brand new glasses at the time. I was lookin’ (and feeling) good that night!

Also in September of last year, I had a good friend take some head shots of me. I needed some photos for work. This is one of the series she took. I love this photo, despite the fact it was hotter than blazes that day and I look a little flushed.

I am not sure of my weight in these, as I’ve said, I have always been a bit slapdash in recording that kind of thingbut I would guess I was roughly in the range of 180 -190 pounds at my heaviest and 170 at my lowest. I am 5’6″.

Yesterday

Last Night - New Dress

So, these were taken last night. The first one I obviously took myself in my dining room mirror (note the crazy number of books piled in front of it) and the second was taken by my best gal Cee. I’m rocking a brand new dress I bought at Target the other day. My boyfriend Julian is out-of-town this weekend so I took some photos of my new dress to send him while he was away. They turned out so well, they were the final push that got me to post all of these.

I honestly don’t have a lot of photos of myself. I have a hard time taking them. If you saw all the struggles I went through with the photographer that took my head shots, you’d laugh. (Let’s just say that tears were involved.) It’s not that I am so particular or even that I don’t like having my photo taken, it is just that I am the most awkward photo subject on the planet. I have dated 3 amateur photographers in my life. Not one of them could get a decent photo of me. All of them threw their hands up in the air and gave up! Of course Cee nailed it on the first shot!

Me and Julian

Julian and Me

Finally, here is a shot of Julian and I, taken just last month. (Hi hon!) Now you can see what we both look like!

Note: I am 135 pounds in the in the one with Julian and 133 in the one above from last night, but I don’t consider these “before and after” photos. They are just past and present. I consider myself still a work in progress, and I am expecting my body to continue to change. (In fact, if anything, I expect my weight to go up some as I continue to lift weights!)

Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty had a great post today about Measurements, Counting and Motivation. It’s more on tracking the numbers (like running speed), but along with that, I regret now that I didn’t take more photos of myself back when I started – just for comparison. Maybe I will take some more soon so that I can track my changes as I go forward… and now that I have posted these, I’ll feel more comfortable keeping you all up to date!

A Little of This, A Little of That

Weighing Fish by indi.caI had a doctor appointment the other day. We were chatting a bit and he mentioned that I weigh the same as when I came to see him the first time in 2006. He was thrilled; in his book I am a success story. I went to him back then because of asthma problems, we tried a few different medications, found a combination that worked, and it has been under control since. My needs, my medical health and my weight have all stayed the same for the last 7 years – which is exactly what he is looking for.

I, however, took it a little hard. I’ve been through a lot in the last few years, and I have certainly had my weight swings. I have lost a lot… and apparently gained it all back. I don’t weigh myself with any regularity, but I’ve known approximately what it was. My belt tells me. Still, I hadn’t quite put together that I am the same as I was in 2006 and for some reason, it really hit me.

2012 was My Year of the Makeover. It started with re-finding the perfect hairdresser. I think all of us ladies have one out there, and if we are lucky, we find them – the one true person who understands our hair better than we do ourselves. I found mine when I was just 16. He did my hair into my early twenties, but then we drifted apart. You know how it goes – years go by, he went and traveled around the country in an RV, I found and discarded a series of hairdressers, and then went ahead and married one, then divorced him… you know, the same old story. Last year though, I ran into him again – my true, perfect hairdresser. I promptly got his number and made an appointment. The old magic was still there. I sat in his chair, and because I am basically a moron when it comes to fashion just said something terribly articulate like, “make me pretty… please.” And he did. The man is a genius.

That inspired me to go get new glasses. I haven’t worn glasses in roughly a decade, but there came the day where I couldn’t tell if the mysterious stranger walking towards me was carrying a large shopping bag or walking a big white dog. I knew it was time to get checked out. I asked friends for where to go, and they recommended a small local boutique. I essentially did the same thing – I sat down, looked around at all the frames in confusion and said to the salesman, “Umm… pick out something pretty for me… please.” He did. My glasses are awesome. They cost me a small fortune, but I figure we’re are talking about my face, so I dropped the coin. Plus I figure I can save up for a couple years before I go again!

Then it was time for my sister to help me out. I had this sneaking suspicion that I needed a makeover. She kindly took me by the hand to Sephoria. My tried and true method of just asking salesgirl to make me pretty paid off again. I then bought whatever she suggested. Yeah… um, not cheap, but once again I am found asking a professional for help is amazingly useful. Now, I actually like my make up. I’m not sure how often I would have said that before.

I’ve also been trying to buy clothes that are better suited for me. It’s hard when you have a number of different jobs like I do – and they all require different wardrobes. I’ve tended to go cheap on clothes. Now I am trying to stick to staples and find them at reasonable prices. I’m still a complete idiot when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I am getting better.

I also know that I look a little different than I did even a year ago. Doing as much walking as I do has changed my body shape to some degree. It is subtle, but I can see the difference in my face. I have better definition and I am sure have more muscle mass, but here I am, at the top of 2013 hearing that overall, I weigh the same as 2006.

So, it is time to do something about that. I am not making any New Years Resolutions or taking any drastic steps. Nor am I turning this blog into a fitness blog. I am, however, going to start monitoring my intake a lot closer. (I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app immediately when I got back to the office from my doctor’s appointment. ) I may write about it – musing, thoughts, ideas – the same kind of posts I have been doing. I have this blog as a place to explore and discover who I am, looking better is going to be part of that process.

Photo credit: indi.ca

True Rules

In The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin talks about “True Rules.”  According to her, True Rules are the little personal rules we all make to get through life.  I think of them as sort of a personal code of conduct.  They are what we use to make decisions on a day to day basis; and so engrained in our psyche that we don’t even think about them anymore.  They aren’t always logical, nor do they always make things easier, but they do exist.

I read about her True Rules last week while traveling for business.  I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and started thinking about my own.  I thought I would try to put together a list of some of them:

When in Rome – eat what the locals eat.  This is a big one for me since i do a lot of traveling, but it is also true for dining in my hometown.  I try to go to places I haven’t gone before and order the items off the menu that have I’ve never eaten before.  If I haven’t even heard of it before, all the better!

When you are going somewhere new, always give yourself more time to drive somewhere than you need to.  Okay, this has resulted in me being fairly early, fairly often, but has also saved my butt more times than not.  On the other side though, I get really twitchy if I am running late and can drive the people with me a bit nuts.

When traveling, dress up a bit.  You never know when your luggage isn’t going to arrive with you and you are going to have to give a seminar in what you traveled in.  So far, (knock on wood,) I have never had to test this out.  I do think, however, that I do get better service from airlines and other personal when I am dressed for business, so that makes it worthwhile.

Keep your lawn mowed.

Don’t pry.  If someone wants to tell you something, they will.  This one has backfired on me more than once – especially when what I considered prying was someone else’s version of showing that I care.

Overdress.  This goes along with the one about traveling in dress clothes.  When you are unsure of the dress code – being overdressed is more socially acceptable than being underdressed.  (Although I am starting to wonder if this one is true anymore.)

Write it down.  I’m a big fan of todo lists and notes to myself.

Tidy room = tidy mind.  I feel more calm in a clean house. Unfortunately, the flip side of this coin is that it becomes a source of stress when I don’t have time to clean and things get cluttered.  I am far more anxious about it than I should be.

You have a responsibility to complete your commitments.  True, but a major source of stress when I say “yes” to something I am unsuited for.  I have painted myself into several corners this way.

Make your bed.  (Hmmm… pretty sure I forgot to do this one today.)

The best defense, is a closed mouth.  AKA if you don’t have anything to say… shut up.  Sometimes I can be way too chatty, but when it comes to things that matter, I tend to keep my cards close to the vest.  I share my real self with only a select few people.

I know there are a lot more of these, but they are so instinctive they are hard to pin down.  I’ll keep thinking about them and add more to this list as I think of them.  What I would like to do is take a look at some of these and see if they are really helping me in my life, or if it is time to let a few things go.

Things Are Taking Shape

I just changed my tag line. It was Thoughts, Musings, Plans and Reflections which honestly, felt a little mushy to me – too amorphous. Okay, that is what I am doing here, but it doesn’t say why. I think it was because I didn’t have a clear picture of it myself.

However, after the last couple of posts, things are starting to become a little clearer. I could see a shape and direction to this blog, which is coincidentally, to put shape and direction to my life. Here are some of the concepts I was playing with, you can see my thought progression:

Setting Goals

Pursing Happiness

Making Order

Looking Ahead

Finding a Good Fit

Answering the age old question, “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”

Self Improvement

Creating a Life

The Next 20 Years

The Next 20 Years – my goals, the journey, and discovering who I want to be.

The Next 20 Years – discovering how I want to live.

The Next 20 Years – Becoming the Woman I Want to Be and the Life I Want to Live.

Becoming the Woman I Want to Be and Discovering the Life I Want to Live

Interesting, eh? I really like the idea of putting a 20 year goal out there, but I didn’t like the way it looked in the tagline. (It made the words wrap.) Besides, I turn 39 in September so really this should be “Where I Want to Be in 21 Years or So” and that didn’t feel right either. So, I took it off for the tagline, but I think I will keep the concept.

I like the idea of putting some hard time frames out there. What do I want my life to look like when I am 60? When I am 50? When I am 45? How do I want to be living? What do I want to be more of? Less? And as importantly, Who do I want to be?

That last question deserves a post (or six) to itself, so I won’t try to answer any of this today.  For now I am just going to be happy in my accomplishment of starting to define my purpose. I like that.

Just The Facts Ma’am

Some background:

What I really want to do is dive right into everything I have been thinking about and working on the last couple of months. I want to just get it out of my head and splatter it all out on the page. That is what this blog is for, after all. Before I go skyrocketing off, however, I feel like it makes a lot of sense to spend a little time laying the foundation. Setting up the stories, if you will, and filling in a little background.

So, I am going to start with a little bit about myself. I am 38 years old living in the Midwest. I was married, and have been divorced for a couple of years. I have a very good job, (though it is a little stressful right now,) and am President of the Board for a local nonprofit that I am passionate about. I have a loving boyfriend, a nice, (though old,) house, a sweet dog that I love to death, and a little cabin in the woods. I also have a caring family. Though my father is gone, (he passed away several years ago,) my mother is still well, and I see her fairly often. I have a wonderful sister, brother-in-law, and two adorable neices. I am also fortunate to have an amazing network of incredible people that I am lucky enough to call my friends. All in all, life is very good.

This blog is not to complain about my life. I know that my life is filled with an abundance of riches. This blog is more about finding my purpose. A few years ago, I had a some very focused goals. During that time, I was incredibly intent on my life – and every moment in it. I had to be. (I am sure I will be writing more about this later.) Anyway, when that time of hyper-focus ended, I allowed myself to relax. I decided to take things easy for a bit, and just focus on the day to day. That was okay – I needed that then. In some ways, I still need it now- but I can see a time ahead when that won’t be true. Currently, I am very tied to my life the way it is. I don’t have room for a lot more.  Yet, I see a time in the next year or so when some of these things will lighten up – where I will have a lot more flexibility.

Here is the problem: when it comes to responsibilities, I am like a magnet through iron shavings. I have a tendency to pick up things without even noticing, and then they are almost impossible to shake off. I don’t want to do that mindlessly anymore. What I want to do, and the reason for this blog, is figure out some goals for myself. I want to decide what I want to focus on – rather than letting life choose for me. If I know where I am heading, I will know what to say yes to – and what not to.

Ideally, I would like to have some five and three year goals. I would like to turn those goal into a rough plan for the next few years. I don’t need to set things in granite, I just need to have something I am working towards. I want to figure out some ways to make things a little better, to find things to look forward to. I need to create a plan.

I am not in a rush. This is a journey, and an important one, if I am going to use it to map out 5 years of my life. I am going to let the planning process take however long it takes, and chart it all out here, on Long View Hill.