The holidays are coming – time to kick my butt into gear

plankI must have been a bear in a previous life because as soon as the temperatures drop, I want to cacoon myself in my down comforter and sleep through the winter. And like my bear ancestors, I also want to eat everything in front of me. My body craves hearty warm foods like spicy chili, butternut squash or chicken soup. And honey. It doesn’t help that my running routine also takes a dip in the fall as I am horribly allergic to sweating in the cold.

 

Last year I managed to muster enough will power to get myself to run outside at least one day per week, as long as the temperatures were in the 40s. Fortunately, the season was mild enough to keep somewhat of a routine, but I still lost some of my endurance and gained a couple of pounds. The future weather tellers say that it’s going to be a rough winter so not wanting to slide back on my metabolism I signed up for bootcamp.

 

Bootcamp is kicking my butt. It has only been one week and the number of squats, push ups, burpies, and 2-minute holds of the plank are making muscles hurt that I didn’t even know I had. As my arms and shake uncontrollably and I take myself to a mental place that will allow me to hold the plank for the last 15 seconds, I wonder if running 3 miles wouldn’t be easier, even if it’s freezing outside. But, our trainer reassures me that all of this pain is going to help my body burn calories even when I’m sitting down.

 

My sore muscles are making me walk funny but I’m hoping that in a few weeks I will be a calorie-burning machine, even when I’m just snuggling deeper into my warm bed.

 

Much Love,

Dear Friend,

friendsHave I told you how much I treasure the gift that is you?
You, my true friend, came into my life, unexpectedly
And, from the moment we met, I knew there was something special about you.
Remember how much we laughed? So glad we still do!
I wish we would talk more often.

My friend, you are the sunshine that always lifts the fog and dissipates the clouds
You give me strength and courage when my steps are uncertain and shaky
You are my source of truth and wise counsel because you know my deepest fears, and have kept them secret.
And in those times when I was broken, you were there to gently put me back together.

You’ve taught me to be better, because I cannot BS with you.
In good times and in bad times, in all seriousness and in all silliness, you have made whatever was happening – much, much better.

Thank you, my true friend, for being ever present, ever kind, and ever loving. Even though many months may fill the space between our calls, I know we will pick up right where we left off.
Your friendship means the world to me and I hope to forever give to you
what you have given to me.

To you my friend, and to all who someone calls a true friend, I say
May God continue to bless you and, thank you.

Much Love,

May We Never Lose Hope

cloudsHope. What a wonderful human emotion. When life is troubling, when we cannot figure out which end is up or in which direction to go, hope is a beacon that cuts through the fog and gives us a reason not to quit, a reason to not despair, a reason to get up, dust ourselves off and keep going.

Several years ago I met a young lady, Lizette, who asked for guidance to deal with her situation. She was a high school student who had graduated with 3.8 GPA and was seeing her dreams of a Bachelor’s degree disintegrate before her eyes. She was undocumented. She had excelled academically and had a strong record in athletics and dedicated several hours per semester volunteering in the community. Lizette was offered scholarships at a couple of private institutions but even with the scholarships, her family could not afford the remaining cost to attend. After exhausting every possibility to receive additional scholarships, she made the choice to work at a restaurant, save as much as she could, and hope that one day she would have enough to attend college. I worried that she wouldn’t make it.

But, that’s what’s great about hope. I don’t know how many jobs Lizette worked, how many times she got discouraged by the passage of time when she felt she was not any closer to her goal. However many setbacks she faced, however many times she felt like giving up, it was hope that kept her going and striving for her dream. I was thrilled when she wrote me a couple of years later to tell me that she was enrolling in college that fall. Lizette and I kept in touch and as a college student, she faced other challenges, including a serious illness and the death of a parent, that would have discouraged even the strongest among us. Hope kept her going through illness, loss, classes and work. I cannot begin to imagine the enormous feeling of accomplishment and reward she was feeling on the day she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in May 2013.

When hope pays off, like in the case of Lizette, it feels so good. But, not all of our hopes lead to the ending that we wish for. A year ago I came across a blog about hope. It was written by a woman, I’ll call her Elizabeth, who was battling cancer. Her writing combined humor and hard-core reality to depict her battle with cancer in a blow by blow account, akin to witnessing a boxing match. As Elizabeth’s postings became shorter and farther apart, I hoped that it was a temporary setback. The next and final post was written by her husband. Elizabeth had lost her battle to cancer. He wrote to thank all of her blog followers who had become another source of hope and encouragement for her. He said that she remained positive until the very end.

Some situations don’t end the way we wish. At some point we realize that our hope for a certain outcome needs to redirected. Certain outcomes are outside of our control and in those cases I still think it’s important to hope, to keep a positive outlook, and to be persistent. It’s just as important to know when to accept that some things are or happen for a reason and we must accept a different outcome. Accepting and letting go of the outcome frees us to redirect our hope and spend energy on other people or things in our lives that we may have overlooked.

I think of this beautiful soul who documented her fight with cancer. At some point she must have accepted that she would not live to celebrate her next birthday. As the treatments and disease weakened her body, it is likely that she redirected her hopes from beating cancer to hopes for her family and made the most of her time to tell them what she hoped for them.

May we never lose hope and know when we need to redirect it.

Much Love,