The Beauty of What If

I mentioned in passing that I have struggled off and on with anxiety. I am a first-born, Type A perfectionist who is also a people pleaser. It has been a difficult road to get to the place of embracing doing things well versus perfectly (which doesn’t exist) and realizing what others think doesn’t really matter.

I am gifted with a vivid imagination and that has a dark side: what if. If you struggle like I do with worry, fear, or anxiety (and who doesn’t from time to time), you will immediately get this.

But along the way, I have learned a wonderful truth: in every negative quality we have lies a gift. The key that unlocks it is my attitude.

The quote below was written by a wonderful Bible teacher and author, Chuck Swindoll. It became a defining “ah-ha” moment for me when I first read it. Check it out:

So, how has attitude-the ability to approach a situation with a positive or negative mindset-helped me? I see my WHAT IF as a good thing. When my mind says, “what if this bad thing happens, ” I stop and think, “yes, but what if …” and list the good things that can occur. And my imagination suddenly becomes a positive asset to me.

So how can you adjust your attitude? Do you see physical limitations as a bad thing? I have flat feet, bunions, and slight scoliosis. I can’t run without getting shin splints. But I have discovered a world of fun walking my dog, or with friends, or learning to dance and try other forms of cardio. And I cheer on my runner friends and family and lend a sympathetic ear to those struggling with limitations, aches, and pains.

A positive attitude is not something a person is born with. You work at it. Some days my attitude stinks. But I get up, practice gratitude, and keep learning. What if… at the end of my life, I can look back and think I made my days count rather than worrying them away. Now that’s a WHAT IF I can get excited about.

Let me know your struggles, thoughts, tips, and tricks to develop a healthy mindset.

Warning: Reading this Blog Post Could Cause You to Nap!

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme diets, extreme exercise, extreme work schedules…which leads to extreme anger and confusion and exhaustion. And frankly, social media is a huge culprit in perpetuating this. I refuse to be one of those bloggers, people, or friends.  I’m all about being well in mind, body, and spirit. So you won’t see the terms “eat clean,”  “go big or go home,” or, my personal favorite, “suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in.” Seriously???

 

In the quest for whole-body health, we need balance. Movement is vital because, anatomy wise, we were made to move! Food is a necessity but should be about so much more than just “fueling your body.” It’s time to slow down, enjoy family or friends, and savor life with your five senses. Work is important so we spend our lives helping others and being productive (and yes, staying at home counts as work)! 🙂 But the vital link so overlooked today is rest.

 

I’m not talking about SLEEP. You’ll see plenty of articles on this necessity~although many are geared toward getting enough sleep to optimize your physical training and results…whatever that means. I’m talking about deep, peaceful relaxation. True soul rest. It’s rare and often confused with laziness.

 

Stick with me while I unravel something for you a bit. I’m sinking into some language arts and foreign language nerd talk…taken from my studies of the Bible. And even if you don’t believe a bit of that is true, hang with me because you will learn something important for living your best life.

 

The Bible is written in several languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These languages are much richer than English as they often have multiple words for what we express in only one. The word rest is one of those. In the first half of the Bible, (the Old Testament before Jesus was born), there is more than one word for rest. The one I want to highlight today was known as nuach.

 

This word means rest, relaxation, stopping work. But it also has a meaning I absolutely love: settle down or settle in. I think of my dog Tucker, pictured above, turning around multiple times to pick just the right spot to relax. He finally lies down, sighing deeply with obvious contentment. Settling down.  Or imagine getting ready for movie night. You get your favorite blanket, snack, family or friends or pet. You get comfortable. You dim the lights. You settle in.

 

We have got to stop and let the dust settle. Regularly. I would argue DAILY, even if it’s just for minutes at a time. If we don’t, we become grumpy, angry, frustrated, and isolate ourselves. Our productivity wanes and we lose our sense of purpose and joy.

So how do we rest? Find something you love to do for the sheer pleasure of it. Throw the list of goals out the window and just think of what makes you feel joy. I find this in looking back at Cheri as a kid. I loved to go outside, to read, to sing and listen to music, to daydream, color, and write in my journal. So daily I try to do one of those things for at least a few minutes. And one day per week, I take the time to do something for several hours that just makes me feel alive.

 

What makes you happy?  Shopping? Hiking? Having coffee with a friend? Drawing or painting?  Promise me you will do it. This week. Today. And drop me a line and tell me how it makes you feel.

 

As for me, I want to color with my favorite pencils and go take a short nap. What will you do?

 

 

 

Cardio For Haters Like Me


Any other Pitch Perfect and Rebel Wilson fans out there? Anyone else out there who wishes Anna Kendrick had the lead and played Bella in Twilight?

Oh, wait…Cardio. I avoid it and avoid talking about it! I love getting up and walking my dog with my husband most mornings but other than that, I am with Rebel Wilson on this one.

I know it’s good for my heart, cholesterol, blood pressure and stress-all inherited family traits, by the way. So a couple of times a week I try to skip my walk and add in some extra oomph. I thought I would share my three favorite free Cardio channels on YouTube with you so you can find something that might work for you as well.

Cocolime Fitness 


A recent find, this is fantastic for beginners or those with conditions that make it hard to exercise. Suzanne is a certified trainer who suffers with fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism so she understands fitness for those of us who aren’t athletic or have medical conditions but who still need to move. She is encouraging and has a wide range of videos with great music. Her site is about way more than cardio, too. Here is a link: Cocolime Fitness YouTube Channel

Pahla B Fitness 

Pahla has a fantastic channel! She is a marathoner and certified trainer and is very responsive to her “Killer Bs,” as she calls her followers. She offers plenty of encouragement and a friend-next-door feel through her wide variety of workouts. I love HIIT (high intensity interval training) because you get a ton of benefits in half the time, haha. I have flat feet and slight scoliosis and hate high impact and burpees! Pahla shines in the area of low impact HIIT and I use those workouts the most. Pahla has a fun group on Facebook, too. Check out her channel here: Pahla B Fitness YouTube Channel

Jessica Smith TV

I have been using Jessica’s workouts for years! She is my favorite in the area of ballet and barre and walking workouts, but you will find everything here! A certified trainer and wellness coach, Jessica offers fantastic cueing, an encouraging vibe, and an adorable French Bulldog named Peanut who makes appearances in her videos. Jessica also has a wide range of professionally produced DVDs and downloads. My favorite workouts with her are Cardio Ball Blast, Cardio Ballet, 9 Minute Low Impact HIIT, and Terrifying Tabata(featuring Peanut in various Halloween costumes, haha).  She offers challenges, Q&As, and much more. Check it out! Jessica Smith TV YouTube Channel 

Now, if you like high impact, running, jumping…go for it! Whatever makes you happy. And on Jessica Smith TV and Pahal B Fitness, you will find high impact and burpees along with the low impact choices~something for everyone.
What do you like to do for cardio? Walk? Run? Exercise on equipment at the gym? Tell me or share your favorite channels or DVDs.

Are you a River or a Pond? Why I Decided to Blog

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I will never forget the day I heard the parable, as I call it, of the river and the pond. It changed my approach to life. Have you heard it?

A pond is stagnant. No inlet or outlet. It sits, still and pretty. And can become a pit of pond scum and bacteria, rendering it unsafe to consume or be in.

A river flows. It has a beginning and an end…a destination. It moves constantly over rocks and branches and its bed, weaving its way to an endpoint to join a larger body of water. That keeps it churning, fresh, and healthier than a pond.

I thought about my life as the parable asked me to do. What was I doing with all I was learning as a stay-at-homeschooling-mama? I taught Bible studies or Sunday School occasionally. I even preached once a year or so (because my husband has an engaging smile and demeanor and I can’t say no to him, haha). But I love learning so I  read a lot and wrote, and studied and kept most of that to myself. I spent years seeking out information on living a full, abundant life as a woman of God in the 2000s.

So along came this blog. I’ve graduated two children and they’re off in college and the work world. I think they’re great and they still want to be around me and ask my advice from time to time. 😉 And I have one at home for two more years who is light years ahead of me in most of his work. But hey, he’s great at tech support and making me laugh and teaching me about higher math and making me think. So I decided I had time to share my life with the “blog world.”

I have no idea if anything I share helps. You’ll find lots of different types of information along the way in my eclectic blogging. But it’s all geared to share and learn and not become stagnant. And the focus is to be women who, at the end of our lives, look back and say, “That was a life well-lived.”

So that’s why I have a hobby blog. No affiliate links as I’m not making any money off of things I share. If that ever changes, you’ll be the first to know. I do add links to other blogs and websites I think you might enjoy and who I give credit to for things but that’s about it. The rest of the information is my “thinking out loud” and hoping you can learn from my life. And as you comment and share with me,  I can learn from yours.

And you take anything you learn from me, as I will, and share it. Let’s give one another rivers of encouragement throughout the ebb and flow of our lives. And channel hope to others.

Thanks for reading, fellow river woman. Go live life well.

No, Mary, I Didn’t Know! The Need to Slow Down and Think

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Hang with me today if you’re not a Jesus person. I am, and a total Bible Study nerd, so that colors my perspective and my worldview. But tucked away in the Bible, in a book called Luke, there are a couple of verses that have the power to help women live life well. I promise not to get preachy, so let’s dig in!

The story is about the birth of Jesus. Mary has been really pregnant, riding on a donkey for days (for which she deserves heaps of credit. Trust me, as a woman who has  given birth three times, when I say that I could not have done that!) She had the baby in a cave and no one was there to help except her husband. But, a group of shepherds showed up and told her angels appeared announcing Jesus’ birth. They were so excited that they ran to see this baby and his mother.

Right after that is the little sentence I want to think about: “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.”

Treasured all these things. Always thought about them. Some Bibles say “Pondered” them. It’s sort of like a cow, ruminating with it’s food. Digesting, re-digesting. Pulling all the nutrition it can out of that food. This is what Mary did.

Today is so fast paced and busy. Life is complex and we’re told to multitask, think fast, eat fast, go, go, go. We often have no time to breathe, let alone think or take care of ourselves. But, what if that’s not the way to live? What if we as women are hardwired with a need to think, treasure, reflect? What if we really can live the type of life we want by DOING less and PONDERING more?

For me, this translates into doing something I don’t like: Going to bed earlier. A total night owl, I still go to bed earlier (this took training) so I can get up and begin my day in quiet. I roll out my Pilates mat and move, I make a smoothie or smoothie bowl,  I drink my water, and I slow down and study my Bible. I journal. I think.

What could pondering look like for you? Would it be a “first thing?” Or, would your pondering be better when the baby sleeps, or at night, when everyone is in bed?

So today, I’m thankful for the story of Mary. Of the reminder to BREATHE deeply, think deeply, and treasure my life in my heart. And I want to encourage you to carve out some time to do the same for yourself.