Tag Archives: healthy-living

Lessons from My 13 Year-Old Self: Contentment

Wonder Woman2

5 January 1987

Dear Diary,

It’s about ten o’clock. I had school today. Yuck! Thankfully, it went by quickly and I didn’t have much homework. I’ll probably flunk Home Economics. We have a test soon. Yuck! I can’t wait until this weekend. Will it NEVER come?! I can’t wait. School is so weird. It’s like it’s not real. I want to lose 10 lbs. I weigh about 130. I’m watching ‘Footloose.’ I can’t wait until this summer. I have to go to bed now.

–K.L.

I had forgotten about the journal I had gotten for Christmas when I was thirteen, until my mom brought it to me, along with some of my vintage clothes, a politically incorrect version of the game “Life,” and my 1979 Wonder Woman comic book.

Reading aloud the narratives of our family vacations with my “thrifty” (read: cheap) step-dad; my  mom and I laughed until we cried.  I was quite a drama queen–feeling my life would be over because of a move or doing badly on a test or some general heartbreak.

But aside from the dramatic use of middle-school Spanish to close each entry (Hasta Luego! Buenas Noches!) the sad theme of the diary is the lack of contentment within myself. In fact, this has been a sad theme for much of my life–I just never realized it until recently.

It feels like I’ve always struggled with this: looking for weight loss, or to win the lottery, or some relationship to make me feel whole. For much of my life, I felt like I was waiting for life to begin. And while I don’t believe that time is ever wasted (it may be misused, but it’s always character building); there were few moments when I felt like I was doing what I was SUPPOSED to be doing. Usually, I was busy trying to please other people–to say what they needed to hear in order to keep everyone happy. I never wanted to fail anyone.

But the fact is that we should never be the cornerstone of any person’s life, except our own. We each have a unique personality. We have talents, hopes and dreams. And when we use our talents, and are true to our character, then we can accomplish our dreams.

Home economics was never my forte (and still is NOT). But I’m finding that by aligning my personality–that person I REALLY am inside–with my goals, I am much more content. I have dreams that are within my grasp. But I’m the only one who can do the work to make them come true.

Regardless of the wishes of my 13 year-old self, winning 10 million dollars or getting a date would not have made me feel complete. No single thing outside of myself could possibly make me happy.

I have to start with the quiet confidence that my happiness, my desires and dreams matter in the scheme of things. 

It’s only when I am truly content with the present, and have made peace with the past, that I can move boldly into the future–no matter what.

Life has begun. And it feels good. 


Self Branding

“Your Character. Your personality. It’s your graphic, your sign, your value, and the ONLY thing you can truly possess.”

A friend of mine wrote that.

push up

It was timely, because not only did I recently teach a chapter on ‘branding’ in my business English course, but I’ve been thinking about how to ‘brand’ myself in a new business endeavor.

What are the qualities and values I want potential clients to associate with my name? How do I even go about branding myself? But aside from business…what values am I forging in my own life?

It’s easy to dust of the thesaurus and look for adjectives. But it’s far more difficult to BE some of those things. I suppose it depends on the words you choose for your life’s brand. Most of the things I want require hard work.

I want to speak German fluently, but the words aren’t going to magically appear in my head. I want to do pull ups, but I can’t expect to wake up with the ability. But these are things we can wrap our hands around.

Intangibles are much tougher.

To be reliable: it means to be there for people.

Integrity: it means to actually LIVE what you say you believe.

To make friendships: means to risk rejection.

To love: means to risk the most tender part of yourself.

A good work ethic: (*this is earth-shattering, I know) but it means WORKING HARD.

Living your dreams: it means you will face failure on a daily basis.

But just like with pull-ups, forging your life’s brand requires effort, dedication and practice. You will not be struck by lightening in a freak laboratory accident nor will a radioactive spider-bite suddenly make your life complete.

The fire will rage. The hammer will fall. But actions determine whether the metal becomes a sword or vaporizes into noxious fumes.

We are born with certain personality traits, tendencies and characteristics. But much of our character is hammered by iron, in the heat of the forge; and we can’t see the results until things cool down.

And yet, we are not passive, shapeless creatures. Our actions shape our character. 

Inaction shapes it too.

You just have to decide what brand you want for your life. And once you figure it out, you have to work for it. Because if you don’t brand yourself, time or circumstance may do it for you.

And it may not be the brand you had hoped for.


A Person of Quality

Sitting on the floor

Words without action die and go to a purgatorial lexicon where they await redemption by a different author.

So, when I say I want to lose ten pounds, I need to actually stop eating M&Ms.  If I want to run a marathon, I have to get my shoes dirty. If I want to do pull ups, then it would help to wrap my hands around the bar and pull.

Sometimes certain words follow me around like stray toddlers until I pay attention to them.

Lately, ‘quality’ has been tugging at my pant-leg.

As defined by a free online dictionary with questionable pop-ups, it can mean:

  • Character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence
  • High grade, superiority, excellence

When people talk about quality, they’re usually talking about diamonds or overpriced handbags. We’re reluctant to apply the word quality to people, because it gives the sense that some are better than others, which really isn’t true, so hold your hate mail until you see where this is going.

How can you be a person of quality?

Can you wear sweat pants with bleach stains; sit on the kitchen floor and take selfies with the dog; have a dog that shits on the rug; say the word sh**? Does a person of quality have a dent-less car and an expensive smile?

A real diamond is expensive, but that has nothing to do with the quality. If you have a fake diamond, there is no quality. It simply looks like something it’s not.

True quality means being real. And it does cost a lot: your time, your sweat, your brainpower, your heart, your emotions, your thoughts.

It doesn’t mean blurting out every poisonous idea that wafts through your head. But it does mean living by the words you write.

The people I most admire are the ones who have mastered the art of being themselves.

I want to be a person of quality. 

There.

I wrote it.

Now I just have to live it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Groundhog Day

selfie glacier

I love movies where people get to repeat a single day.

When you have babies and toddlers, your entire life feels like ‘Groundhog Day’. You get stuck in this cycle of diapers and bottles and apple juice and chicken nuggets and the only thing that changes is the laundry pile, which never re-sets, but keeps growing.

But before you know it, the kids are writing their own scripts, and all you can do is watch it play out, as your job as director diminishes.

Which day would you re-live, if you could?

I’d like to say I’d chose the day one of my kids was born, but since I often felt I was being ripped in two, it would be a sentimental fiction.

The truth is that even if your perfect day involved lying in the sun, you still have to wash the white sand out of your bikini or put aloe on your crispy spots.

Time does not stand still, and no matter how hard you wish, a single day can’t be re-played. Time rushes forward, and our attitude determines if we ride its surf or drown in its depths.

Sometimes, the greatest use of time is decorating for autumn or making pink cupcakes with sprinkles. Other days, it’s working on a novel or back-squatting LESS weight. It might be surprising a friend with farm-fresh veggies, not knowing she’ll cry as she chops them into stew. Maybe it’s drinking coffee or taking a walk in the sunshine as your friend pours out her heart; these things should never be considered a waste.

We can’t live a single day over again, nor should we want to. But with each sunrise, we can make choices for health and happiness. Choices for the people we love. Choices that will fill hearts and light the spark of life in people who are stuck dreaming of Groundhog day.

 


KnockOut

Tiff6 copy

“When I see weakness in a person, I just want to hurt them,” a friend of mine told me recently.

If she weren’t an international boxing champion, this might scare me a little.

She’s become instinctive about finding weakness in her opponents and using it to her advantage in the ring. Outside the ring, it gives her a sense about people. Though she doesn’t go around hitting random strangers, her insight helps me to stay focused on my own goals.

After all, the mind determines whether you go to the gym or stay in your sweatpants eating Swiss chocolate every day.

It’s incredible what weakness will keep you from. It keeps you from achieving that goal weight. It keeps you from signing up for that race, that once-in-a-lifetime event. It keeps you from living a life that makes you happy.

It keeps you hiding in the alley while the parade passes by; and all you can do is scour the street when it’s gone, peeling pieces of dirty confetti off the pavement, and wishing you’d been part of the jubilance.

Weakness.

We all have it sometimes.

I feel lucky I have a friend who can identify it when I’m standing so close, I can’t see it.

Then I can step back, look it square in the face and knock it out.

 

 


Pixie in the Box

short snatch

No ponytail required

I’ve been looking at short haircuts on Pinterest for months.

That’s how I do things.

I agonize over decisions, whether it’s a haircut or a weekend road trip.

A bad vacation you can edit: “The hotel was really close to all the sights [and was right above the biker bar].

A bad haircut is right out there for everyone to see: “My, what an [*cough] interesting haircut.”

But I’ve always wanted a really short, Pixie-ish haircut, and not just because I like the word ‘Pixie.’

A short haircut can go from classy to wild with one swoop of the hand and a little gel. As a runner and CrossFitter, my hair was usually in a ponytail or some variation thereof.

I wanted a new look. Some ‘oomph’ to my hair.

But I needed the right ‘do.’

One morning, I found it. A very simple picture of one side of a woman’s head, her hair cropped short.

Bingo.

I downloaded the picture for future reference. Because someday, I would cut my hair short.

Someday.

But then later, I was out running errands, and I realized I had some time free, which is kind of a rare thing for me. I could, conceivably, stop at a place downtown and see if they could chop off my hair.

Why not? 

What held me back?

Myself, mostly, and worrying about what other people would think. It was a risk.

That’s the thing with risks–you need to take them once in a while. Sure, you can’t plunge blindly into something, but you CAN plunge. In fact, you should take risks sometimes, because without them, your spirit flatlines.

So, with my Pinterest photo on my phone, I walked into a hair salon. The girl with the half silver, half black hair escorted me to a chair, and strangely, I felt I was in good hands. Because a person with half silver and half black hair wouldn’t give me the traditional Franconian, old-lady hairstyle #3 (they MUST have a book of Franconian approved hairstyles somewhere).

I showed her the picture.

She asked a couple questions, stretching out strands of my hair.

“Kurzer,” I answered a couple times.

And then she went to work.

It’s the best haircut I ever had.

I nearly hugged the girl.

I deliberately did not publicize it on facebook right away, because I wanted to have the experience of walking into the box and seeing people react (whether for good or bad). Not that I cared, really, if people liked it. But the point is that I loved it. And I did it for myself, without worrying about how other people would see me.

Maybe the confidence from the haircut translated into the way I carried myself, but the reaction has been more than I expected. I’ve heard that I look younger and that I ‘rock’ the hairstyle; and I’m learning new German adjectives, like geil.

I didn’t lose anything with the haircut. But I gained something intangible. Something that never tangles or needs conditioner.

For men, a haircut probably isn’t very significant. But a woman’s identity can be wrapped up and braided on top of her head. And while I did love my long hair, this Pixie feels pretty damn good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Therapy by Bonfire: A 20 Year Reunion

She wore black combat boots and had hair that looked like she cropped it herself with kitchen shears. She asked questions. She had opinions. She was passionate about everything. She was the exotic German in a ho-hum Midwestern school.

THE foreign exchange student.

Though I was probably her polar opposite, we became the best of friends.

After I graduated, I sold my car so I could buy plane tickets to visit her in Germany.

We had our adventures. Drove to Italy. I got drunk for the first time in my life. And we even sang Beatles songs in a little German bar (what IS it with drinking, Germans and the Beatles?).  I cried when I left Germany because I ‘knew’ I would never be back again.

*At this point, the universe laughs.

There’s just some kind of magnetism that draws people together. You can’t explain it, really. It has nothing to do with hair color, height or politics. Sometimes you just know a good friend when you find one.

So, it amazes me that twenty years have gone by without much more than second-hand information, and more recently, minor facebook stalking.

It pains me that after eight years of living in the same country, I had never made the three hour drive to see her.

But timing is everything. Even if I had seen her a year ago, I was a different person, and it might’ve ruined this new friendship. And finally, now, at this time in my life, I could finally see my friend.

It was a little awkward at first, being in her home, watching this new/old friend move about her kitchen, both of us with SO much to say, but not knowing how or where to begin.

Thankfully, she still has opinions, she still has questions, and she is still passionate, though the combat boots are gone.

After a couple of hours, we plunged right into the big issues of life: politics, religion, love, life. All the things you shouldn’t talk about in polite conversation.

It was therapeutic.

Sitting in her magical garden by the bonfire, drinking champagne, sharing hopes and dreams and failures.

We are in our forties now, but laughing and dreaming with girls’ hearts.

Older. Wiser. More beautiful. More passionate. With hands rough from building dreams.

As I go through this process of rediscovering myself, it’s good for me to have friends like this. People who encourage me to be myself and to have opinions. People who value my words and ideas. And especially creative people who feed my own creative passions.

Life is hopeful.

And pursing dreams can and should be done.

Using wisdom.

Working hard.

And connecting with others who are doing the same.

 


Being a Super Woman

I’m not always brave or strong.

Sometimes I put on my gray sweats and curl up under my quilt and wonder what the hell I’m going to do.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but watch life play out in front of you. Things beyond your control come crashing in, and you can’t stop it. You can only observe.

Once you observe, then you have a choice to make.

Curl up in your bed. In your cozy gray sweats. Under your tattered quilt.

And hide.

Or you can get up.

You can get your ass in gear. Run far. Lift heavy. Stop thinking so much and get things done. Pursue opportunities. Live passionately.

Stop standing in the ruins, staring at the smoking piles of rubble of your old life.

Put on your big girl spandex and explore the new landscape.

Look up.

Walk on.

They say when one door closes, there might be an open window.

And if you put on your cape, you can fly right through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shadow of the Cat

rack hold2

I’m tired of being treated like a mouse.

Expected to squeak and scurry from the shadow of the cat.

I’m tired of the cravings and fears and emotions and other traps that try to pin me down by the neck.

I’m tired of being told what I should think and say and do.

Don’t tell me not to be angry. Anger is an emotion; and I have every right to feel it. It’s what I do with it that matters. If I write a bad word, it lets it out; and then it’s gone.

If I run up the side of a mountain or lift heavy, I can sweat it out; and the anger disappears, so I can be myself.

My real self.

Calm.

Alert.

Content.

I might look like a mouse.

But I have a lion’s heart.

And I’m not afraid of the damn cat.

 

 

 

 

 


Welcome to the Real World, Princess

This is an experiment. I literally have ten minutes to write. 

I’ve been too busy to blog.

Too busy to run.

I have to prioritize, and the kids come first.

Followed closely by CrossFit.

And…coffee with friends.

It’s my therapy.

I’ve been working all week.

At this point you might say, “Boo-hoo. Welcome to the real world, Princess!”

And you’re right.

I was a princess, viewing the world from a locked tower. And now that I’ve busted out, I’m walking around out here with the rest of the world.

It’s hard and sometimes I don’t like it. But never once have I wanted to go back into that tower. Because even the most difficult parts of this journey bring feeling. And feeling is good. Even when it’s bad.

To feel means that you’re really alive. You’re not just viewing life from afar. But you’re in it, working alongside other people and getting your hands dirty.

And for every terrible moment you walk through, there are also good moments.

No, not just good, but great.

You walk on clouds. You love life. You soak in the sunshine and revel in the rain.

It could be when a friend gives you a compliment. It could be when your child gets up early to hug you before work. It could be when you lift 115 percent of your bodyweight. It could be when you finally win over that stubborn German kid in your English class. These are moments that make up life. These should be savored.

The pain.

Well, there’s a reason for it too. You let it run its course. Let it do its job. Let it pour out and disappear.

And you take another step.

Time’s up.

I’ve got a train to catch.

Another day to live.