Day 364 of 365: One…

A year ago tonight, I sat in a restaurant with my husband and shared with him my goals for 2013.

“2013 was the year I…”

  • Settled back in Canada
  • Challenged myself to be active for 365 days
  • Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.

A year ago, we were on a work assignment in Poznan, Poland.  This assignment had us spending the majority of our time there.  As much as our time in Poland was simply amazing (my views on life and culture have been greatly broadened), it was isolating too.  Not being able to fluently speak the language has major draw backs.  It’s limiting when attending parties or even considering joining a social group.  People were so kind and helpful but once the encounter of working through the language barrier was over, I both sides were happy to go along our merry ways.

Being isolated and feeling bored was no way to live.  And I was also feeling like I was on a treadmill, going nowhere.  I needed to get focused on something, anything (other than work) to help avoid wilting away.  The building our apartment was in had a good gym and pool.  We lived in a neighbourhood near three large parks.  Being active seemed like a great option.  I could challenge myself to try different activities and it gave me something to focus on each day.  At the same time, I also wanted to be back home.  We had not lived in Canada since 2005 and when we finished up in the USA, we went right to Poland.  An exciting adventure far away from where I wanted to be.  Exciting and boring all at the same time.  2013 had to be the year that I took my life back.

Setting these goals didn’t happen overnight.  In 2008, I came up with the idea of 365 days of straight activity while reading Julie & Julia.  The idea came and went because the timing wasn’t right mostly due to a lack of real motivation.  Getting settled back in Canada was something my husband and I had been focused on since 2010.  We knew our assignment in Poland would not last through 2013 so this was the time to seize the opportunity.  Personally, I’ve been struggling with being in touch with my feelings for some years now.  (Coming out of the other side of 2013, I believe this is natural for most humans.)  Overall, it took me about a month (December 2012) or so to get pen to paper and narrow in on three huge goals.

It paid off.

Getting settled back in Canada.  My husband and I finished up our overseas work assignment at the very end of August.  We were back in Canada for Labour Day weekend.  Part of settling back in Canada included stable employment, buying a home, reconnecting with friends, and getting engaged with the community.  Our employer was very happy with the work accomplished in Poland (and with the Dutch office) along with our dedication and flexibility in working in three major manufacturing facilities.  He has now assigned us to corporate global projects and allows us to be based in Toronto, Canada.  Prior to coming back to Canada, we were searching for a condo to buy.  In October, we made an offer and it was accepted.  We are almost homeowners being that we do not close until May 2014.  Until then, we live with my husband’s parents.  (It’s everything you could possibly imagine and more.)  We see our friends all of the time and we have begun to establish ourselves in our “temporary” community and in our “upcoming” community (which also happens to be the neighbourhood we lived in prior to moving to the USA in 2005).

Challenged myself to be active for 365 days.  If you are a follower, “THANK YOU!!!!”  There are 176 of you (and over 3800 hits!) and that is something I never expected.  Being active for 365 days was something else.  The first ten days were horrible.  Actually, one, two and three were not bad.  It was really four through ten but I’ll get more into that in tomorrow’s blog post.  Blogging as part of this challenge has been a great outlet.  Isolated in Poland, this blog allowed me to share with others in a free-flowing manner.  Daily blogging was also a chore.  I had two major times this year where 1) I had to take a break for a few days and 2) I just didn’t do it regularly.  I moved past both of those phases and I’m finishing the challenge strong.

Got in touch with my feelings and truly identified what I want in life.  As I mentioned above, I think most everyone goes through a phase when they feel like they are on an emotional treadmill.  Sometimes you need to be there to get through.  Treadmills are boring but if you use them correctly, you are a better, stronger person when you get off them.  This past year I’ve let go of some hurt and I realized what it is that I want and why I couldn’t see that I was actually moving in the right direction even when it felt like I was going nowhere.  Being on the back-end of this goal, I thought I would be in a different place right now but I’m not and I’m okay with that because where I thought I needed to go ended not being where I needed to be.  Emotions, feelings, desires…they are all tricky but as you peel away layers the fog slowly clears out and the view gets better and better.

With 2013 about to come to a close, I’m getting ready for a big 2014.  Most of my goals this year will be broken down into multiple projects, big and small.  In writing my goals and using the statement, “2013 was the year I…” I create a mini vision and/or feeling of what it’s like when the goal is achieve.  I start to create something to move towards.  Here’s what I’ve got for 2014.  Again, it’s all going to breakdown into a bunch of big and small projects this year.

“2014 was the year I…”

  • Became a homeowner in a neighbourhood and condo that I love.
  • Took control of my weight and moved my BMI to the lower quarter of overweight.
  • Helped my family move towards where they need to be. (Yep, this one has a ton of personal content.)
  • [I haven’t filled in this blank just yet.]

Today I went to the gym in the morning and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

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Day 177 of 365: It’s Done

This morning my husband and I headed down to the gym to do our really good strength training routine one last time.  It took us an hours, like it always does.  We’ve been following this routine for about 7 or 8 weeks now.  It’s been great but when we return in four weeks, I’ll have a new routine for us to follow.

All day I was pretty stressed.  (Almost cracked twice.)  Ridiculous stuff with the airline or airlines depending on how you view a code share flight.  Last minute tasks at work.  Needing to pack five suitcases worth of stuff and clothes into four.  It was so much to get done and I could not stay up all night to deal with it.  We need to get up at 3AM to catch our taxis (yes, plural…four suitcases, two carry-ons, and two personal items) for a flight that is leaving before 6AM.  Luckily a friend stopped by just after a horrible phone call and she was able to distract me for a bit.

My husband has been great.  He knows I’ve been on the verge all day.  Multiple times he has said to me, “No matter what happens, I love you.”  He’s been great taking direction and offering help.  And when I have asked for help, he’s gotten right on it exactly as I asked.  (Yes, I am a Type A slightly controlling perfectionist.)  He even made me a couple of drinks (to try to help calm my nerves) and he made dinner, like he does on most nights.  He’s amazing and I’m very lucky.

So the packing is done.  I finished about 90 minutes ago.  This is my last task for tonight aside from packing my pajamas and continuing to calm down so I can fall asleep for at least 4-5 hours.  At one point today, I was so wound up that I actually stopped mid-way down a flight of stairs realizing that my blood pressure must be ridiculous right now and that I really need to calm down.  (This was while I was leaving work this afternoon.)

Now that I’ve written about my blood pressure, I do expect my father to have his blood pressure reader out for when we arrive tomorrow but just to make sure I give you a really good idea of how strung out I was earlier today let me say this.  If I was to do this post any time before 2PM this afternoon, it would have been in ALL CAPS!

So, 6AM CET flight out of Poznan and 7:30PM EDT arrival time in Thunder Bay followed by a 3 KM run to my parents house.  Yes, it will be a 19.5 hours of airport to airport travel time.  Knowing this, I expect my post to be short tomorrow.

Day 77 of 365: Re-Evaluation My Beliefs

Before going to sleep last night, I laid out my new Lululemon Inspire Crops (still with the tag on) along with the rest of my running outfit.  I set my alarm for 6:00 AM and went to sleep.  Partway through the night, I woke up thinking it must be around 4:00 AM and instead it was closer to 2:00 AM (I LOVE when that happens).  I happily fell back asleep.

When my alarm did go off at 6:00 AM, I got up after a couple of minutes.  For those few minutes, I was thinking about needing to follow through on my plan to get my run in before work, which is also my plan for the entire week.  There will be dinners out every night this week so I know exercising first thing is my best approach.

As I rode the elevator down, I looked out the glass door and saw it was still really dark.  Not desirable but not the worst as I was wearing a red shirt with reflective material.  As I continued further down, I saw flags whipping in the wind and then I saw it was raining.  Before the elevator made it to the ground floor, I was now resolved to go back up to the 7th floor to run on the treadmill.  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and I did that while wearing a complete Lululemon outfit.  (Ha ha!)

I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill running intervals.  The treadmill in this gym is more sophisticated than the one I run on in Poznan.  First, I could select an interval program.  Second, as the speed increases hills also appear.  In Poznan, I have to manually adjust the speed and as a result never think to increase the incline.

Making my way through this challenge, I am realizing that my commitment is driven by my desire to be an active person however my success is determined by the strength if my willpower.  It could be easy to say that this is obvious but I’m not sure I actually realized this until recently.  I’ve always seen myself as a larger person and believe this is limiting to my abilities.  This recent realization is forcing me to re-evaluate my beliefs.  It will take time to truly understand what all of this means.

Day 76 of 365: Today I’m Grateful For…

Tonight after dinner, I went to the gym for 45 minutes.  I spent 35 minutes lifting weights and another 10 minutes on the bike.  Darren joined me too.  He spent his time on the elliptical trainer.

I’ve decided to list what I’m grateful for at least one day a week.  Here’s my list for today:

  • Good conversation
  • Having time in my life to spend an entire afternoon in a pub
  • Freedom and access to information
  • Live performance by local Irish band
  • Cadbury Mini Eggs

Hope everyone is planning to have a great week.  Remember to take stock of what you are grateful for.

Day 65 of 365: New Activity

Back at the beginning of January, I made a promise to try new activities this year.  Today I finally did something that I’ve wanted to try for many years.  Today I tried indoor climbing.  It was quite the experience.  The first 60-75 minutes was an introductory class where we learned to tie knots and proper belaying technique.  The next couple of hours was just climbing in the gym.

My first climb up was feeling good and then it got scary.  I made it 2/3 of the way up and then my right knee started to shake so bad that I had to ask to be let down.  The experience was exhilarating and overwhelming.  This climb was rated 5.6.  (5 is the climb type and the 6 represents the difficulty.  The easiest was rated 5.5 and the toughest was 5.11+.)  For my second climb, I chose a real simple route and made it to the top without a single issue.  This climb was rated 5.5.  The few after that were more challenging.  They were rated 5.6 and 5.7.  I never made it to the top on those but I came really close.  For my last climb, I was determined to accomplish the route from my first climb.  I made it 2/3 of the way up and I was stuck.  I couldn’t figure out where to place my foot.  A voice from below called out to me where to step next.  If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have made it.  The picture below is me at the top of this climb.  I made it all the way to the top.

Me concurring the wall at Climber's Rock.

Me conquering the wall at Climber’s Rock.

For the rest of the day, my hands have been red and sore.  I can only imagine how I am going to feel tomorrow.  I’m guessing I’m going to find out that I have some muscles in spots I’ve never realized.

Darren came with me today.  He did an amazing job of climbing.  He’s a natural.  He scaled up the walls with little effort.  I was so proud of him.  His hands have been red and sore too.

The experience was pretty amazing.  At times, it was scary.  When I would get to a spot and be stuck, it was unnerving.  Knowing I had Darren there belaying for me helped but it took getting used to.  The idea that I could slip and fall and be okay is abstract.  By the end, I was feeling more comfortable with this.  On the way out I said to Darren, “I would have you belay for me any time.”

Darren and I at Climber's Rock.

Darren and I at Climber’s Rock.

Day 64 of 365: In The Shadows

After a couple of less active days, I feel like I’m back on track.  This afternoon I went for a 7.9KM run.  It took me about 55 minutes.  It wasn’t a great run as I had a side stitch that wasn’t too bad but at the same time it wouldn’t let up.  2KM of my run was along Lakeshore.  Knowing I would see beautiful homes and views of Lake Ontario made me excited to run this route.

When I first headed out the sun was shining.  It felt warm even though the temperature was right around freezing.  As I ran along Lakeshore, I saw my shadow on the ground in front of me.  It looked like the silhouette of a runner.  It was strong and athletic and kept a good pace.  I found myself admiring the shadow as though it didn’t belong to me.  After a few minutes I realized this admiration is for the person I am becoming and for the hard work I am putting in.  Slowly I became more and more aware that this is me.

About ten minutes later the clouds came in and my shadow was gone but the admiration of my image and what I’m working towards has not even come close to leaving.

Bruce Benedict Photography

Bruce Benedict Photography

Day 35 of 365: Make Sure You Tell Them

This week will be a great challenge.  Friends from the US arrive late tonight and we will see them tomorrow.  This week’s plans includes dinners every night, bowling on Wednesday which should be a blast, and a birthday celebration.  Our friends will be here over the weekend too but no plans have been made just yet.  Knowing all this, today’s after work activities included Tuesday night groceries (yes on Monday), cooking dinner that was assembled yesterday (thankfully), a load of laundry (completely caught up), 30 minute yoga for runners (can you feel the stretch) and time with my husband.  My posts will most likely be brief this week.  Hope you don’t mind.  Most importantly, my daily commitment will not be lost.

One last thought…For all of you out there that has someone in your life who helps you with even the tiniest of things, make sure they know how much you appreciate them.  Make sure you tell them.  Namaste.