Motivation – Brought to You By a Case of The Mondays

2 Jul

My Monday could use some motivation. How about yours? Yeah, thought so.

love on many levels

true story. there are no shortcuts.

this carrd had my name all over it.

let’s end the inspiration on a joyful note!

Now I’m ready for yoga and a run tonight! How about you?

“If It Wasn’t Hard, Everyone Would Do It.”

30 Jun

You all know how much I love me some good fitness inspiration. Whether it’s motivational posters and quotes, wicked workouts, or healthy foods to fuel my muscles, I love getting inspired by all the great fitness info the internet has to offer. Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to peruse some of the top women’s magazine and fitness sites to see what they had to say about working out. What I found reminded me why I tend not to read those magazines in the first place. Take a look at some of these headlines:

The Fastest Abs Workout Ever! Tighten and Tone Your Tummy in Five Minutes.

Three Rules for the Best Weight Loss Workout!

Fergie’s Flat Abs Secret!

5 Smoothies That Really Slim!

5 Minutes to Flat Abs!

Five New Ways to Lose Weight!

Three things pop out to me. First, people love quantifiable numbers. Second, of those numbers, five is the most popular. Third, they all implicitly promise quick, fast, unrealistic results.

Five minutes alone won’t give you abs like Rhianna. It’s a celebrity’s job to look great, and it’s a full-time job. Most of us don’t have that luxury, as we have full-time jobs that don’t involve a personal trainer, so knowing their ‘secrets’ won’t change our life. There are no magic foods that will whittle your waistline on their own with no extra effort on your part. There are no new ways to lose weight. It’s science. Work out and eat right, that’s it. If I’ve learned anything about fitness and working out, it’s that there are no shortcuts. There’s not one magic move, there is no magic pill, it’s just not that easy. If it was, everyone would look like Beyonce.

That’s one thing I love about my favorite fitness lifestyle blog, Tone It Up: they are realistic about telling you that if you follow their workouts, diets, etc. you’ll get out of it what you put in. Work hard and reap the rewards. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

So say it with me, ladies! We reject the headlines that breed a culture of laziness and tell us we’re five minutes away from the waist of our dreams! We won’t lose 25 pounds if we can just find that magic move or choose to take the stairs! We will work for the body we want, stop looking for the quick temporary fix, and be darn proud of ourselves on the other side!

P.S… A just read this and said it’s the same for men and their magazines. “Five Minutes To the Biceps of Your Dreams!” Whatever. Men and women of the world, reject the crappy headlines that hold promises as substantial as air. To paraphrase Missy Elliot, “Is it worth it? Let me work it. I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it.” Let’s flip the script and work it!

A Morbid Tale: In Which Our Heroine Poisons a Stray

28 Jun

We had no pets growing up. Wait, strike that, we had a bird. When I was eight we took over a parakeet from a neighbor and I named him Nicki. It was the only pet we could have besides fish because my mom is horribly allergic to all animals with fur, and I wasn’t that great at keeping goldfish won at my elementary school’s fundraising fair alive. So when my mom found a stray dog wandering in the road I thought this was my chance to befriend a dog for real.

Hold up, let me back up for a moment. I was in fifth grade, and my favorite book was Where the Red Fern Grows. I thought that if I could only get around the whole ‘my mom will die if we get a dog’ thing, that the lucky canine would be the best friend I’d never had. I would read him books and dress him in my little sister’s clothes, and he would sleep at my feet like a living stuffed animal and lick my ice cream cones like that dog in Beethoven. My grandma had a dog, but by that time he was old and was not interested in listening to my books, much less being dressed up, and I only saw him once a week or so anyway, so he didn’t qualify as a doggie bff. So when this scraggly mutt wandered in front of our house and my tender-hearted mother took him in (and promptly locked him outside in the backyard) all I could think was, “This is it. My chance to have a real dog best friend.”

I totally ignored the fact that the dog had tags and my mom called the owners, who said they’d be by to pick him up in a few hours. It mattered not; this dog and I had a date with destiny.

Mom made dinner with chocolate chip cookies for desert, and we must have had people over because I remember there being a lot of talking and her not paying much attention to me. I only had eyes for that mangy dog, so the details about who was over are fuzzy. But I definitely remember the cookies. Dinner took forever because I couldn’t wait to get back to my doggie friend. I wasn’t allowed to open the steel-gated door (to say the street we lived on in SoCal was sketchy would be an understatement) to pet the “strange” (according to mom) dog, much less go outside and play with it, so I sat at the door talking to the pooch through the metal. To his credit, he was a great listener, though I didn’t want to take my eyes off him long enough to run and get a book to try reading him stories. I appreciated his attention, and wanted to find a way to show him how much I loved him. Yes, we had only just met, but I was convinced that we had a special bond with all the conviction an 9-year-old struck with puppy love is capable of mustering, and I wanted to do something nice for dog as a token of my friendship. So I gave him the second half of my cookie.

Yes, I broke the “don’t open the door or else” rule, but I was quick, and only opened it enough to stick the proffered cookie through the crack. Harmless, right? Just as Fido finished licking his chops, my mom came around the corner.

“Finished your cookie already?” she asked.

“No, I gave it to Dog,” I said proudly, hoping she would overlook my flouting of the door rule and praise my selfless generosity, offering me another cookie (or two) as reward for making the dog feel so at home.

So not what happened.

“You did WHAT?!?” shrieked my mom as she rushed to my side and peered tentatively out the door at the mutt.

“What’s wrong? He’s okay, he liked it!” I insisted, but mom kept looking at Pooch like he was a bomb waiting to explode.

“Christine Marie!” She scolded, “You can’t give chocolate chip cookies to a dog! It’s really bad for them, and makes them sick. Chocolate is doggie poison!”

My eyes filled with tears when she said this. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t mean to hurt the dog, I’d thought I was being nice. But as in so many tales from the Brothers Grimm, my token of friendship and undying love had turned out to be poison to the object of my affections. She watched the dog for a few minutes. Looking back, I’m sure she was trying to figure out how much to tell the (at that point, very tardy) owners, but I thought she was on a death watch. When she turned around with a big sigh to go back into the living room, I thought she’d given up hope. In reality I’m sure she was just being a good hostess and going back to her guests, but in my impressionistic young mind her melancholy parting said it was all over for my friend.

So I sat back on my haunches and waited for the dog to die.

~ The End ~

“Excuse Me, Ma’am, But Your Cracks Are Showing”

27 Jun

las caletas at night

So there I was, last night of vacation, on a private beach in Las Caletas lit by torches and candlelight, enjoying a sumptuous dinner of local delicacies with my sweetie. Desert offered a choice of extravagant-looking confections, and I chose to indulge my craving for sweets with several pieces of fresh tropical fruit enveloped in a thick layer of dark chocolate. I speared a piece of chocolaty pineapple and brought it to my lips, breaking through the chocolate shell and sinking my teeth into the ripe, juicy flesh beneath…


I’ve accidentally bitten my fork several times in my adult life, but this was the first time I’d suffered a tooth casualty because of it. The last night of our vacation, and I had a tine-shaped hole in my tooth. And it wasn’t an out-of-the-way-oh-you-can-hardly-notice-it break. No, this was a full-on, okie-fied, plait my hair and call me Billy Sue hole in my face. Cute on a 7-year-old, maybe, but not on my 28-year-old self. Needless to say, it put a damper on the rest of our evening.

While on layover in Phoenix I made an emergency call to our dentist, who was thankfully able to see me the next day. I was lying back in the extra-cushy chair with his hands all up in my grill, when he said the best words I’ve heard in a long time, “It’s just a cosmetic break. We can patch you up right now.” Hallelujah! So he goes about his business, and when he’s done he asks me if I’d noticed that one of my other teeth looked chipped. I had noticed, but had figured it had just worn down over the years.

You see, I have the oh-so-attractive habit of using my teeth to break through things. A thread hanging from my shirt, ribbon, uneven fingernails, plastic cellophane packaging, all have fallen victim to my chompers more times than I care to cop to. After having me move my jaw this way and that, my dentist let out a satisfied, “Ah-ha!” If I moved my lower jaw a half-inch to the right, my bottom teeth fit like a puzzle piece into the worn space on my tooth. I asked the dentist if he could patch it up, like he did my fork-tine break. “No,” he said, “it looks like you grind your teeth without noticing, so you’ve got to break that habit first. If I patched your tooth and you keep unconsciously grinding against it, you’ll break off the patch sooner of later. It’d be a waste of money.”

A and I have been married for six years. This vacation was a celebration of this achievement, as well as a time for us to rest and reconnect without the stress of everyday life wearing at us. We’ve been working hard over the past few months to resolve the few issues that we’ve faced over our six years of being married that we seem to always get stuck on. We look at this as preventative maintenance; work the tough things out before time and life circumstances grow them past the point of simple fixes. Work them out before love wears thin and resentment sets in. We want to hit our ten-year, twenty-year, thirty-and-beyond anniversaries strong, dealing with conflicts as they arise instead of letting them fester and eventually decay the roots of our love and commitment. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, but it is worth it.

During this process we’ve had several quick-fire fights come up. You know the kind – they flare up hot and fast and die down just as quickly. When this happens I can feel the intimacy between us break. We don’t feel close for awhile, and things don’t feel normal, settled, or good. Happily, some time and effort on our parts to swallow our pride and patch things up always sets us right, and we can go on with our happily married lives.

During this process we’ve also had to revisit old arguments. Ones that we’ve tried as many different ways as we could think of to fix only to find ourselves back at square one in the end. We needed help, a fresh perspective, people on the outside to give us fresh ideas and hold us accountable. Laying our problems bare before an (albeit trusted) outsider has been humbling to say the least, but also really cleansing. We’re digging deeply into old, ingrained habits that allowed negative patterns to build up in our marriage. Little by little we’re learning to reshape our hither-to fixed reactions and change the way we function as individuals and as a couple. Every day we have new things to work on – homework, if you will – that challenge us to break out of our molds and try and be a little bit better than we were the day before. It’s been totally easy, and if it was homework we’d be getting an A+. Sorry, I couldn’t even type that without cracking up. It’s been darn difficult, thank you very much! But as I said before, it’s been worth it.

When my dentist told me I’d have to stop unconsciously grinding my teeth before I could get my worn tooth fixed, I was at a loss. How was I supposed to stop doing something I wasn’t even aware I was doing?!? He said I’d have to start paying attention to how I hold my mouth and work hard to stop it. “Teeth should never touch,” he said, “so you have to start noticing when they do, and knock it off.”

It shouldn’t be much of a stretch to see where I’m going with this.

I feel like this is what A and I are doing now. After six years of letting some things go and letting old habits turn into pitfalls, we’re finally slowing down and paying attention. We’re saying no to the behaviors that have been wearing us down and starting to fill in the gaps.

A good friend has told me more than once that eight other friends of theirs married around the same time they did, and were divorced by the time they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. The most common years for divorce are after year one, seven, ten, eighteen, and twenty-five, according to my therapist. A and I still say our wedding vows to each other, and every now and then – always on our anniversary – he whispers in my ear, “I’d marry you again tomorrow.” Having listened to New Life Live for over eight years, I firmly believe that even the most broken marriage can come back to life if both partners are willing, but the longer you let things go the harder and longer the rebuilding process has to be.

We don’t want to let things come close to getting that bad, and so we’re working on it now. We’ve learned that there’s no shame in admitting that we need help; it’s not like they hand out manuals for how to be a perfect spouse with your marriage certificate, and there’s no other relationship prior to marriage that prepares us for the intense 24/7 unrelenting intimacy that marriage is. We’d be fools not to seek help from those who have done it well and know more than we do. I’m a big believer in preventative maintenance in marriage, rather than letting things get to the point of being broken.

I just wish I’d figured that out in time to save my tooth.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

25 Jun

Hello, my friends! I’ve missed you! But not too much, because I was in MEXICO!

How was our trip? Hit or miss, to be honest. But at the end of the day A and I were able to laugh about it and make the best of all the curveballs we were thrown, and thoroughly enjoy celebrating our six-year anniversary. We came back rested, reconnected, and tanned. Here are some of the highlights:

pirate ship!

a is a fish in the water

and he snorkeled with a pirate ship

i learned to paddleboard! i spent most of my time on my knees, but…

i did get up! a snapped a shot right before i took a nosedive and got a salt water sinus rinse. but I kept on trying and got a great workout!

a with el capitan

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