Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Completely Forgot This Blog Existed!

I really don't understand how this happened.  All I know is...a friend said he wanted to start a blog and asked me to help him.  I thought...I'll just go check out blogger.com.  Well, of course it automatically directed me here.  I saw the title, "Beyond The Hype" and I thought to myself, "That sounds so...familiar....WHY do I know that name????"  Did a little more clicking and then I realized...oh yeah...this is my REAL blog!!!!

I've actually been posting daily blogs over on SparkPeople.com for the past couple months.  I have built up quite a following over there.  I'd say close to 500-700 read them every day and I usually get close to 200 comments on each posting.  I'm kind of a big deal on that side of the blogosphere. LOL.

It's mostly personal reflections about my health journey (I've lost 27 lbs since the last blog posted here!) and become an athlete (a runner).  I've already run a couple 5k races and am signed up for two half marathons and I'm shooting for a full marathon next year.

This blog feels like a hazy dream...something from so far in the past, I can't even remember myself when I was writing it.  So strange.

Anyway, if you'd like to follow my journey over on SparkPeople, here's a link to my blog page there:


Pretty sure I won't be maintaining TWO blogs at the same time.

Have a great night!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Time to Check In

It's weird how two months can pass and I barely blink an eye, but then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, everything from the past two months begins to piece itself together in my mind and literally begs to be spilled out on the "page", as it were.  Sometimes, the very act of typing everything out helps to solidify things in my mind and figure out exactly what is going on in my brain!

I suppose I've been coasting through life the past couple of months and things have seemed OK.  But, it's almost like everything has gone nuts these past couple of weeks, leaving me with a myriad of emotions from confusion to anger to self-loathing. There have also been some wonderful things happening to me that have had me flying high, so to say that it's been a roller coaster season of life would be quite fitting. 

Good Stuff: 

  1. Things are really going well with my job and I still truly enjoy what I'm doing.  I've been learning lots of new, very useful skills (XHTML, CSS, etc) and I've actually had a blast learning!  I feel happy with where I'm at and where I'm headed and I am blessed to have wonderful co-workers and leaders that support me and believe in me. I honestly couldn't ask for a better situation right now. 
  2. I made a pretty huge decision recently to step back from roller derby this season.  Last season was just brutal, time-wise, and I felt that my time with my kids was really suffering. With my work travel demands higher than they've been in the past, I couldn't see a way to manage roller derby, work and my family and not leave one of these areas hanging.  So, I chose work and family and reluctantly left derby behind.  Surprisingly, I have found great peace with this decision and have been extremely happy with the amount of time I've had at home in comparison to last season. I had worried about relationships in the derby community, but have come to find that those who I really had a connection with have not allowed our friendship to fall away.  And it's been pretty sweet to see who those "real friends" are, after an entire season of, quite frankly, always feeling like I needed to prove myself to everyone and not quite feeling like I measured up. I almost hate to admit it, but I really love my life without the demands of derby.
  3. I've been feeling more and more at home in our new church family.  My doubts about trusting another church have slowly been falling away and I feel that my heart has slowly been opening as well.  I am more OK with being vulnerable and trusting people with some pretty deep stuff that I'm struggling with and, when they work through it with me, I don't feel judged or looked down upon or shameful.  In fact, I have only ever felt loved, supported, cared for and encouraged.  This is a huge step for me, because if anyone is good at hiding, it's me.  And, for once, I am beginning to open up those areas that have been hidden for a long time.  And, as a result, I feel that freedom is just around the corner.
Even in the midst of tremendous blessing, I recognize that there are areas of struggle that I have largely brought on myself.

Seriously annoying/frustrating stuff:

  1. I am not going to sugar coat this.  I love my kids, but they have been driving me bat shit crazy these past few weeks.  Some days are OK, but the majority of days have resulted in me wondering why I ever had children and how I could have possibly created such monsters in so short a period of time.  There have been nights of HORROR where EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has been throwing the mother of all fits, talked back, whined until I wanted to punch the wall and just out and out screamed at me or hit me or something else equally disgusting.  This behavior has been unacceptable and I have not known how to deal with it.  In addition, one of their teachers is constantly asking me how to control her and get her to stop being downright defiant and I feel like a colossal failure because all I can do is stare at her and say, "I don't know."  I've never felt like more of a failure.  I'll be straight up honest and say I've never despised myself more.  You want truth?  Here you go: My kids have wonderful, amazing, precious qualities and I'll never stop loving them.  But, they are absolutely, completely and totally SPOILED.  And I don't know how to reverse it.   It's SO embarrassing and I don't have any clue where to start to remedy this.
  2. Nothing new here...with the kids going nuts, obviously you wouldn't expect my marriage to be a shining example of steadfast joy and love.  I mean, these things all feed off of and into each other, you know?  
  3. And, less of a big deal, but still significant.  I work really hard and I feel like I do a pretty awesome job.  But I can be mature enough to admit that there have been some slip-ups at work that were rather humiliating and some things that were pretty easily fixable (thank God) that I should have caught.  My boss and I have talked about it and I have vowed to do better.  The fact is, I need to be more vigilant and stop allowing things to slip through the cracks.
So, it's like I have this wonderful see-saw of incredible blessings and debilitating failures.  And, for some reason, that voice of failure always seems to scream the loudest, doesn't it?

But, that's where my faith comes in.  This morning, Giff preached a great message on fasting (in preparation for Lent).  It's probably not politically correct to admit this, but I definitely saw the title of the sermon and immediately thought to myself, "Ugh. I hate sermons on fasting! Here comes another guilt-laden diatribe on how you are a bad Christian or you'll never grow if you don't fast for three days or whatever. SNOOZE."  But, it's Giff...and he's never let me down so far...so I kept an open mind.  And I'm so glad I did because it was the best, most unique view on fasting that I've ever heard.  Not just interesting, but deeply touching and genuine.  When it came time to quietly reflect, I just felt a gentle nudge inside to try this Lent thing this year...not because everyone else is doing it or because I feel like I SHOULD or because it's the cool thing to do at my hipster church.  No.  It's the first time I've ever thought, "You know?  I could actually do this for God.  Not for me.  But for Him.  And for my family.  I mean, would it HURT anyone?  No.  So why not?" And I really just felt inspired to give up any sort of electronics or cell phone usage while I'm at home in the evenings during the week.  Instead, I hope to spend more time with God, in my own thoughts, with my own heart and more importantly, with my family...doing REAL things...like going outside and talking and cooking healthy meals and you know...disciplining my kids with self-control and loving patience, instead of flying off the handle and yelling because I'm exhausted and distracted.

This afternoon, I started a 6-week study with some ladies from church called "Made To Crave", which addresses our attitudes and dependencies on food and our overall health (mental, spiritual and physical).  It was very eye-opening for me and I am looking forward to finding victory in many areas with my own personal health battles.  Listen, people, my boss is training for a half marathon.  It's getting nice outside and we live just off the Clear Creek Trail.  Our family just joined Bloomingfoods and we are planning on joining a CSA this Spring.  It feels like the right time to get my butt in gear.  I'm tired of feeling gross all the time and tired and sick.  And it's about time I take responsibility for my bad habits and be a good example for my family.

I was thinking about all of this and all these things that felt fragmented and separate really just began to come together.  I realized that I've been using my phone/computer at night to check out from having to discipline my kids or foster my relationship with my husband.  Even though I quit derby to be at home more, I haven't really been PRESENT when I'm at home...I've used my phone/FB/TV as an escape from  issues that were bubbling up.  And, now...things have boiled over.  And I'm SURPRISED?  I've made excuses with my health and lied to myself, saying I'll "start working out and eating better when it gets nicer outside" and using that as a license to go totally crazy, diet-wise and be totally lazy.  I've let all of this stress and exhaustion tax my soul and, as a result, I am not always sharp mentally for my job...and things fall through the cracks.

ENOUGH.  I'm done with things falling through the cracks.  Look, I know I'm human and it's dangerous to expect to be perfect.  I'm not saying that God loves me less because I'm not perfect.  Nothing like that.  I'm saying that it's time for me to CHECK IN to my life.  I need to be an active participant and not just watch things happen to me.  People need me.  My kids, my husband, my co-workers.  I come from a long line of drug addicts and, although I've never struggled with substance abuse at all...I can see that I find other ways to avoid the hard things in life, to "zone out" and just pray that things get better without me having to face the issues.  I thought I'd broken the cycle of addiction by saying "no" to drugs...but addiction is so much sneakier than that.

Well, this plague in my family will end with me.  I won't pass this on to my children.  Things WILL be different for them.  And, I'm sure it's gonna suck for awhile in some respects, but freedom is right around the corner.

And I am SO EXCITED about that!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dreams - Real Life and the Sleeping Kind

Been a few since I posted a blog.  Quite a lot has happened since my last update from Kuali Days.  For one, exactly one month has passed.  In a month's time, I have researched possible graduate studies, met with my boss to discuss career paths with Kuali and nixed the idea of grad school (for NOW - it's just not financially feasible, nor will it work with my family priorities at this time), asked for a raise and the boss and I are working to get that approved by HR come early spring.  [Note: This is no small feat.  In fact, even more than actually obtaining the possiblity of a pay raise, the very act of asking was the overwhelming victory for me.  I almost chickened out, but forced myself to take this seemingly insignificant, but monumentally important step toward career growth. I was pretty proud of myself.]  I feel this past month has seen many career doors open and the anticipation of what is to come, in regards to my future with the Foundation, is very exciting.  I know that not everyone within the organization feels the same way, and I do completely understand that people have different situations, but I really feel happy where I'm at right now.  And that's something I've been searching for in my work for a long time.

On the flip side, I've also been working through lots of junk personally.  And, it truly is JUNK.  Old bad habits, destructive thought patterns and the ever-present lack of belief in myself and knowledge of my true self in general.  These things are never easy.  And, to that end, I have had some vivid dreams lately, which I feel are significant and which I have been thinking on for several days.  I won't share every personal detail, but I will give you an overview, because I find dreams to be interesting things.  And, if you believe in God, you might be of the same impression as I am that God sometimes uses our dreams to speak to us.  And, in the case of these two dreams, I truly do feel that He is trying to tell me many, many things.

I should preface by explaining that my dreams are always vivid.  I see everything in them as if they were 100% real. I can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything (yes, that last one is sometimes fun).  I have had a lucid dream (where I realized I was in the dream and was able to control things a bit) just once...about a month ago.  I don't think there was any deep meaning to that one, but it was cool.  Still, even with the constant real-ness of my dreams, the first one really played out like I was watching a movie...it was really cinematic.  I don't know if you can understand that, but anyway.

FIRST DREAM (about four days ago)

I dreamed I was with a bunch of friends, hang gliding or something.  We were all complaining about the prices after our hang gliding adventure was over and suddenly I was all alone next to this cliff.  Don't worry.  I was in no danger of falling off.  I felt like I was in pain and I looked around and no one was there.  I realized I had pieces of glass under my skin that needed to be taken out or I would continue to be in pain.  There were four pieces of glass.  I became VERY angry, because I thought, "Where IS everyone and why is no one helping me?!"  I realized that I would have to get the glass out of my skin myself.  It was so painful but I pushed each piece of glass out through my skin, crying and screaming as I went.  There was a LOT of blood.  Finally, all the glass was out.  I had to disinfect so I poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide over each cut, expecting it to hurt badly.  But when the hydrogen peroxide washed over the wounds, I felt total relief.  It was over.  I felt better.  Almost instantly, I was with a man (who I knew to be my best friend, who loved me) and he was hugging me and kissing me and comforting me.  And I felt 100% safe.

SECOND DREAM (the night after the first dream)

I was fighting a Lion.  There were people all around, but no one was helping me.  Nobody was worried about me and I was scared.  I tried to push the lion off of me, but his claws were digging into my arms and he was biting my hands.  I was terrified that he would kill me, but something inside me told me to just keep fighting and that I would not die in this fight.

“They say Aslan is on the move - perhaps has already landed.”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning - either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – Chapter 7

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Struggle With Self-Worth

Ok, it occurred to me that, if I say I'm going to be brutally honest in this blog about what's going on deep down inside and if I'm going to figure out how I'm wired and what it is that I want out of life, then I probably need to learn how to write through times like now...times when I feel less than stellar about myself and would benefit from figuring out why.

I am currently in Indianapolis at the beautiful JW Marriott hotel.  The most amazing hotel I've EVER stayed in.  This week has been an insane, yet inspiring and fulfilling myriad of hard work, late nights, fine dining, last-minute PowerPoint tweaks, alcohol drinking, deeper understanding, networking, frenzied activity and career-building vision.  At the same time, my days here have been riddled with nightmares about my kids, an epic public failure in PowerPoint, constantly overcoming shyness to meet people, fake chit chat, extreme physical exhaustion, over-eating, caffeine overload and one gnarly battle with low self-confidence.

First, the good.  I am surrounded by incredible minds who have been working diligently to produce incredible software that is already doing so much good for Universities across the world.  There are countless CIOs, Software Developers, Commercial Consultants, CFOs, Project Managers and heads of any University department you could imagine here this week. They are brilliant and professional and absolutely trained for just this sort of thing.  They are eloquent speakers and they just know SO much.  They are ridiculously inspiring.  I have several new "business heroes" and not a few budding "career crushes" on some rather important folks in the world of Technology.

This is a good thing.  These people have inspired me.  I want to be like them. I want to know more, to grow and to be more.  I hope to someday move up in my career and BE them.  I certainly don't dream of being a Secretary forever.  Here's a secret...today I sent off to several universities, asking for more information on online Master's degrees in Information Science.  Because I know that I need more education to truly be one of these great minds.  I very much believe in what this Foundation is doing and it has dawned on me that I have finally, after all my years of working in every different field (insurance, architecture, residence life, student records, self-publishing, consulting) been blessed enough to stumble across a path that I would like to stay on...dare I say it...for the long haul?  And, with this organization growing exponentially as it has been over the past five years, the career possibilities are literally endless.  And I understand that the places I go, career-wise, will be directly proportionate to the work I put into learning.

But here's the rub. Everyone here is so...professional and poised and perfectly coifed and RICH...and just...everything I feel I'm NOT.  I feel like a roly poly little 4-year-old making silly faces and holding onto my mommy's hand when I stand awkwardly next to my boss as she schmoozes the President and CFO of the University.  I feel so ill-equipped to answer pretty much any question that is asked of me in a meet-and-greet situation because I really know so little about the technical side of these projects.  And it's not just because I'm new. It's because I just don't understand anything technical.  I literally have no idea what these people are talking about half the time!  It's a whole other world...a completely different language!

And I guess I am having trouble balancing this awe and admiration of these amazing people around me with the place that I'm at right now.  It's my default to shrink into low self-esteem, try to hide and basically just feel like crap because, frankly, I feel...not good enough to be among them.  I feel like I'm somehow worth less than everyone else because I don't feel like I bring anything to their table.  In my head, I know this is not true.  I know that I have quite a lot of talents and skills that many here do not possess...I mean, why else would I be working so high up in this great organization?  But, still, there are times I just feel invisible. 

The thing is...I allow myself to be invisible.  And, as my new career guru, Caroline Dowd-Higgins says, making a transition in your career is always about taking a risk and trying something new.  I know that I know that I know...if I want to be where these people are in the future, I will have to make it happen.  No one will do it for me.  And the first step will be to refuse to allow myself to be invisible.  The next step will be to believe in myself.  For real.  But, where does one get a confidence like this?  That's what I am struggling with now. 

And, well...sorry, I don't have the answer for that.  I'm asking you or anyone who knows.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Trouble Relating to Eat, Pray, Love - Why?

So, I've spent the past few weeks steadily reading through the third section of "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert and desperately searching for something to expound upon in this blog. I did, after all, start this blog on the premise of writing my way through this memoir.  Unfortunately, the author's time in Bali has not been super inspiring for me.  I have been frustrated with this.  While it's a great story, I am not finding any application in my "real life". 

Then, I came across this brilliant post by Kristin Tennant on her blog, "Halfway To Normal".  Ms. Tennant is a recent divorcee, mother of two girls and a Christian trying to make sense of the difficulties of the broken parts of her life in light of her own personal faith. I very much admire her honesty and willingness to be vulnerable on her blog.  This most recent entry, which specifically mentions "Eat, Pray, Love" was very interesting to me and a light bulb turned on in my head, as to why I can't relate to the final part of Ms. Gilbert's memoirs. 

The earlier sections (Italy and India) dealt a lot with her personal emotions and spiritual healing - things that I could, at the time, really relate with.  The third part of the book feels more like a travel diary than anything else.  Because she was privileged enough to be able to travel the world and basically do nothing for a year, I find it hard to relate.

It feels odd to do a complete 180 with feelings toward a book.  But take a read of Kristin's posting and let me know what you think. She brings up some interesting points, indeed.

Enough With The Hardships-Meet-Privilege Memoirs

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fat and Happy? Not So Much.

I am unhealthy and out of shape.  That's not a shameless plea for hollow reassurance and ego stroking.  That is a proven fact. I discovered this fact this morning when I was helping to set up at church and my only job was to move two chairs about 20 feet and I couldn't lift a chair in each arm. It's not like these chairs were made of solid lead.  They were just normal chairs. I thought, "What the heck? I used to be so strong!" It wasn't even a year ago that I had been attending roller derby practices just to work out off skates and, in that time, I had seen my strength and my endurance growing.  But then I just quit going. For awhile, I would walk the trail near my house (about 4 miles) several times a week and I felt like I was making some great headway on my health.  But there was a bout of the flu and that ceased as well.  Ever since then, I've had no interest whatsoever in anything related to exercise or even eating healthy. I just full out QUIT.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been feeling that old nagging in the back of my mind, telling me that I need to get back to healthy habits. But I have not had the drive or the will to lay out a serious plan.  I know how awesome I feel when I'm healthy. I know that working out doesn't require hours and hours a day...just some time...any time.  I know I don't need ANY fancy equipment to tone my muscles and I don't even have to go outside to do it (an excuse I often use to rationalize it away - the weather is bad, so I can't exercise today. Psshh...ever heard of jumping jacks or push-ups? Sheesh!) I know it's not hard to make healthier food choices and that every small choice makes a difference when it comes to diet. I know that my body doesn't feel great right now because I'm not taking care of it the way I should and that it also affects my emotions and my self-esteem. And here I sit...still not willing to do a thing about it.

What is it going to take to motivate me enough to get serious and change? How do I make the leap from thinking about it to actually doing something about it? Honestly, I don't know the answer to this yet. But it is clear that something needs to be done. Any good advice out there? I could use some encouragement on this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Faith - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 57

"The search for God is a reversal of the normal, mundane worldly order.  In the search for God, you revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult.  You abandon your comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered you in return for what you've given up...

Devotion is diligence without assurance.  Faith is a way of saying, 'Yes, I pre-accept the terms of the universe and I embrace in advance what I am presently incapable of understanding.'  There's a reason we refer to 'leaps of faith' - because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't.  If faith were rational, it wouldn't be - by definition - faith.  Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch.  Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.  If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be...a prudent insurance policy.  I'm not interested in the insurance industry.  I'm tired of being a skeptic, I'm irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate.  I don't want to hear it anymore.  I couldn't care less about evidence and proof and assurances.  I just want God.  I want God inside me.  I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water."  - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 57, pg. 175-176

Wow. Yeah. This.

Exactly.  Instead of writing a long echo of what the author said, I'm going to go out and enjoy this beautiful day!  I love windy days...for some reason, the fierce winds just remind me of the breath of God and it's so invigorating and inspiring to me.