Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Encouraging Words for Wednesday

Things are going better in the sleep department. I slept in until two. And that's better, you might be wondering. It's all relative, isn't it? I fell asleep at 7:30 last night, so tired, and I managed to sleep until 2:00. Then after Chuck left for work, I slept from six to eight. That is EIGHT AND A HALF HOURS, y'all. Woo-hoo!

While I was on the couch in the early morning darkness, I was reading motivational quotes to help strengthen my resolve to be persistent. As you might imagine, insomnia interferes with persistence. 

Monday, I didn't work out at all. Tuesday, all I managed to do was a 15 minute yoga session, but that was better than the nothing of the day before. I just wanted to do a little better today than yesterday. I had gotten more sleep, and it was uninterrupted, so I needed to take advantage of feeling perkier this morning.

A funny thing happened while I was reading the quotes. I found myself lacing up my shoes, and pulling out my workout equipment. I turned on the TV, and found my workout for the day. 

Oh, lands. It was a sixty minute video. I'd only been doing 20-30 minute ones. I just decided to press play, and see what happens. Even if I stopped working out after a half hour, that would be an improvement over yesterday. 

Baby steps. Baby steps.

But guess what? I kept going. I made it. I worked out for 60 minutes; a whole hour. This girl, who usually snuggles with her velvet hippo until Chuck wakes up, got off the couch, and got it done!

Are you looking for encouragement for your day? Maybe these quotes will help you, like they did me. I'm so proud of myself, and that's a pretty good feeling. My 2018 got off to a rocky start, thanks to sleepless nights, and a less than positive attitude. 

Here it is, more than halfway into January, and I'm finally finding some resolve. Go, me. 

And go, you! We can do hard things. I hope you have a wonderful day, and that you do something today that makes you proud. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What Would Make Today Perfect for You?

Snow is something I wait for all winter. Even if it is snowing, I am wondering how long it will snow, and when it will snow again. I just can't get enough of the white stuff.

Sorry. I probably make you crazy with talk like that. I can't help it. 

When I woke up to snow early yesterday morning, I was thrilled. While Chuck slept in, I enjoyed a pot of Dulce de Leche coffee, and I got some reading done. 

After breakfast, Chuck shoveled our driveway, and invited Sami outside with him. We were so impressed. Even without a leash, she stayed right by Chuck, and had fun romping in the snow with him. The dogs loved playing in the backyard, and then settled in for their "long winter's nap" on the couches.

While I was editing some of my photos of the dogs, Chuck asked me a question we ask each other fairly regularly. 

"What would make today perfect for you?"

We probably all have different ideas of what constitutes a perfect day. Some of us want to wake up early to enjoy the sunrise; some want to sleep in. Some of us want to whip up something special in the kitchen; some want a break from cooking, and want to eat out. Some of us want to check off our to-do lists; some want to do nothing at all. Some of us want to read; some want to watch a movie. Some of us want to enjoy the camaraderie of a crowd; some want to just stay home.

Usually for me, I want to wake up early to have time for reading, music, and reflection, then I want to spend the rest of the day with Chuck at home. We go-go-go so much, and just not having to go anywhere feels like a treat. A fire in the fireplace makes things extra-cozy. I like taking pictures, and I like editing them. I like to read, and eat good food, and snuggle with the puppies. 

But you guys, it SNOWED. Admittedly, I'm a little crazier about snow than Chuck is, but he asked what would make the day perfect for me, so I told him.

"I want to take our cameras out today, and I want to go sledding."

My wish is his command, apparently. He saw to it that I had a perfect day on our snow day.

This is why my cheeks hurt after shooting; I smile so hard behind that camera.

Some of the young moms in our neighborhood had told us they would be taking their children out to play in the snow. Chuck and I love having such adorable subjects for our photography hobby. Spending time with those sweet little kids and their mamas always makes me happier. Chuck teases saying I'm the paparazzi for the five and under crowd. We had so much fun watching the kids have fun in the snow.

While the light was still decent, Chuck and I took our cameras on a little photo safari around Saint Charles. It may be mid-January, but there are still plenty of Christmas decorations still up. That suits me just fine. I don't know when I'll get around to taking down my own tree. I need the emotional boost that comes from the glow of the tree.

We walked around downtown, and visited one of the forest preserves. There is something so restorative about walking outside in the snow, especially when the flakes are still falling.

A friend of mine gave us a standing invitation to go sledding at her house. I'd bought two new sleds to replace the one Chuck and I shattered a couple weeks ago. I was thrilled when yesterday she texted to remind me that conditions were favorable for sledding, and we should come over. 

Photo Credit: Chuck Bennorth

Sledding has become my substitute for downhill skiing these days. It makes me feel like a kid, and that's always a good thing. I had the snow hill all to myself. Donna and Chuck weren't feeling like sledding yesterday, so I went solo, but the two of them were good sports, and cheered me on. 

Photo Credit: Chuck Bennorth

Our snow day was everything I hoped for, and more. We were able to take lots of pictures, and I got to try out my new sled. Between texts, phone calls, and Snapchats, I heard from most of our kids. We ate Rosati's pizza, and there was even time for puppy snuggles. 

Yesterday seemed to be all about me. In a few days, I will have to turn the tables, and make sure Chuck has a perfect day, too. (Be thinking, Sweetheart; what would your perfect day include?)

And what about you? When was the last time you had a day that felt perfect, or nearly so? I hope you will give it some thought, and will look forward to having a wonderful day that makes you feel happy and content soon. 

Friday, January 12, 2018


Yesterday while I was having a meltdown about not geting enough sleep for the last six weeks, I was scrolling through Facebook when a friend's post caught my eye. She had listed off several wonderful things that had happened to her that morning; little things that made her smile. She closed her post with this hashtag: #tellmesomethinggood.

That little hashtag stopped me in my tracks. I had been in a downward spiral of anxiety and negativity. I now understand how sleep deprivation is a method of torture; it steals our hope. It messes with our perspective and our attitude. 

Insomnia had left me feeling vulnerable; my emotional eating was making me feel like I was out of control; the melting snow had turned my back yard into a muddy mess which meant the dogs had turned the floors into an indoor pig pen. 

My friend's post was a game changer for my morning. I knew I had to find something GOOD.

Yesterday I was reminded throughout the day how many people care about me. My husband was so supportive, checking on me, and asking how he could help. Some of our kids who were aware of my predicament offered words of encouragement. 

Friends reached out with love and concern. Bristol snuggled onto my lap, as much as a big canine can, anyway, and Sami offered the top of her head for petting. 

And not only did we have some good news; we had received some of the best news from the night before. 

We found out our youngest had proposed to his girlfriend. We were getting another daughter; a really wonderful daughter-in-law would be joining our family this spring. 

So much good stuff that had been hard to see, at first. 

What a difference a good night's sleep can make. I'm starting out today by telling something good first thing. I was able to sleep from 8:30 until 4:30. EIGHT HOURS? Now, that's something real good.

And sorry; not sorry. Here, for your listening pleasure is Chaka Khan, singing "Tell Me Something Good." 

Your turn. #tellmesomethinggood. I can't wait to hear what you have to say. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Feel Free to Skip This One (BATTLING INSOMNIA)

Warning: If you're looking for some inspiration, or humor, or lighthearted reading, this isn't it. Move on. Try another blog today. 

Today I'm attempting to be honest with what is going on in my struggle with persistence. You guys, this insomnia is kicking my butt. I have had maybe three good nights' sleep in the last month, and that's just not enough to keep me feeling balanced. 

It is hard to be persistent with my health goals when I feel like crap. I feel so guilty for making excuses when I turn to food for comfort. The drill sergeant inside of my head thinks I just need to be harder on myself. I need to tighten up, focus, and push harder. I need to stop being a crybaby, and grow up, and learn to deal with life without relying on old bad habits. 

But what I want is for that dang drill sergeant to move out of my headspace to make room for a sweet grandma who will envelope me in loving arms, whisper words of comfort, and rock me to sleep. I feel like such a failure for the several times I have turned to food for comfort because I couldn't deal with the exhaustion, and the feelings that come with it. A grandma would love me through this, and tell me to not be so hard on myself. She'd even offer me a piece of chocolate, and then tell me not to give up. She would remind me that once I rest up, things will seem better. I just need to be patient.  

Before my doctor changed my medications, at least it felt normal for me to wake up at three or so. Now that we're tinkering with dosages and prescriptions, I feel like I'm going to be stark-raving mad because I am having trouble sleeping past midnight. Last night, it was 10:15 when I looked at the clock. TEN FIFTEEN, y'all. My brain woke me up, and decided two hours was plenty of sleep, and it decided we should get up, and get going. 

When I can't sleep, I like to get the dogs out of their crates and sit on the couch with them. Sami curls up on her end of the couch, I take the other end, and Bristol crawls up into my lap, as much as he can. Those two fall asleep quickly, and I am comforted just knowing they are there. 

Once my tummy realized my brain was up, it thought we should eat. At that first little thought of food, I panicked. I thought of my PERSISTENCE goal. I asked God to help me do better. It wasn't exactly a heartfelt prayer; more like a crazy one-word cry for help, and then there was a log jam of battling thoughts in my brain. I'd had a long day away from home. My meal planning had not been adequate, and I'd ended up eating more comfort foods than I'd intended. I'd already not done very well on nourishing myself. Then I started feeling sorry for myself sitting there on the couch in the middle of the night because I knew my resolve was weakening. I was weakening. I started making excuses for why I deserved to eat when I feel this tired.

I kept thinking of all the other things I could do besides eat at that hour, but old habits are dying hard. 

Maybe it was my spirit that was starving, really. I've always gotten those signals mixed; always. But what did I do? I ate. Do I have to tell you what I ate? Some sick part of me thinks if I own up to it, maybe I will be less likely to binge next time. 

That being said, I found a cinnamon roll in the freezer, and thawed it in the microwave. Then I ate an English muffin. And a protein bar. To be honest, I ate TWO protein bars. 

Chuck just sent me a text asking what would help make our upcoming three-day weekend feel more special for me. What a sweetheart. It made me cry. I told him I would think about it.

How do you tell the man who wants to make all your dreams come true that all you really want is to sleep through the night, and to know you're going to be okay? It seems so ridiculous, but a lack of sleep makes me ridiculous. He would do anything he could to make me happy, but he can't make me sleep. He must be so frustrated to have to deal with my insomnia, too.

I. JUST. WANT. TO. SLEEP. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Not take a nap. Not fall asleep sitting on the couch. I want to go to bed at a decent hour, and stay ASLEEP until morning. Hell, I'd even settle for waking up at three AM. I miss getting five or six straight hours of rest. I want to sleep all night, and not wake up thinking I need to eat to make the tired go away. 

I'm sorry for anyone who came here hoping to find encouragement today. Maybe you can take heart in knowing that no matter what you're going through, you're not alone. We're not alone. I know that. Today just seems harder because a lack of sleep is catching up with me. Tomorrow will be better. It always is. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Snow Much Fun

When was the last time you actually laughed out loud? No, I don't count those times you responded to a text with LOL. And I don't mean when you used the phrase "literally just laughed out loud," when you actually just smiled a little harder than usual. I'm talking about those deep belly laughs that uncontrollably bubble up, and fill the air with audible joy.

For me, I truly laughed out loud on New Year's Day. My husband graciously took me sledding against his better judgment. Chuck says he warned me (about going out in sub-zero temperatures). He gave me information (about hypothermia). Nevertheless, I persisted. 

Persistence pays off.


The air was bitterly cold, and apparently the fear of hypothermia discouraged everyone else on our side of town from sledding; we had the hill at Langum Park to ourselves. PERFECT. I hate being the only adult in lines of children, waiting my turn to go down the hill. 

Our small, plastic sled somehow managed to hold us both. I sat down first, and Chuck plopped down behind me, and we proceeded to act like little kids while we monopolized the sledding hill.

No waiting at Langum Park! Apparently, Chuck is not alone in his cautious attitude.
When we hit the first little bump, the bottom of the sled cracked, and my feet popped out from the front of the sled. My boots stretched out in front of us, kicking up a spray of icy snow into my face. I laughed even harder. When we came to a stop, I collapsed against Chuck, weak from my giggles, then I rolled onto the snow so we could head back up the hill for another run.

Chuck does not share my enthusiasm for winter, snow, or cold. His response to winter weather is cocooning in the house, which I love, too. I just think that being cozy indoors is even more wonderful after a good romp in the snow. 

If you would have told me earlier last week that I would be able to convince Chuck to take me sledding when the temps dropped below zero, I would have had my doubts. The only outing that is worth braving the cold, in Chuck's estimation, is going to the library. He isn't keen on spending any more time outdoors than it takes to scurry from the car to a heated building. And yet, I still held out hope that we would go sledding anyway.

The dogs and I had a nice long morning together on the couch early on New Year's Day, thanks to my waking at 2:30. When I checked The Weather Channel, I may have frowned just a little. With the windchill factor, the temperature was 30 below. Gah. I admit it; that is cold, but seriously, would we DIE if we went sledding? I didn't think so.

By the time Chuck woke up New Year's Day, the weather outside was still pretty frightful. I told him things should warm up to above zero later. He didn't seem impressed with that tidbit of information, but let me tell you what kind of husband I have. 

If Chuck knows there is something he can do that will make me happy, he will do everything in his power to make it happen. What I had interpreted as overly cautious and hesitant the day before turned into determination to make my little wish come true the next day.

Each time we pushed off from the top of the hill, I laughed until we came to a stop at the bottom. During our second run, our sled cracked even more, and we lost a big chunk of the bottom. Did that stop us? Heck, no! We just dumped the snow out of our sled, brushed the snow off our pants, and trudged back up the hill.

We had SNOW. MUCH. FUN. 

Monday, January 1, 2018


Old me used to make the same resolutions every single New Year's Day. 

- Read the Bible.
- Work out (x) number of days per week.
- Write every day.
- Lose 10 pounds.

These words, borrowed from the feminist movement, feel especially meaningful today.

There are so many reasons I have found myself in the same spot at the beginning of every year. And to be brutally honest, I know you know that I have more than ten excess pounds to lose this time around. 

This morning, I made a list of all of the excuses I have used in the past for not sticking with my goals.

I don't feel like <insert task here>.

It's too hot. (Too cold. Too dry. Too humid.) 

I didn't sleep well.

Yesterday was hard.

I want a day off.

My (body/muscles/head) hurts.

I have so far to go.

I'm bored.

I deserve to do whatever I want, whenever I want.

2018 is going to be different. This year I am shooting for progress, not perfection. I'm allowing myself mistakes, and granting myself mulligans. I'm well aware of my weaknesses, and I know some days will be better than others, but as long as I don't quit, and just pick up where I left off as soon as I can, I will get closer to my goals. 

What do I need to do TODAY to make progress? Even if I only do a little bit of reading, a super-short workout, or a few minutes of writing, it will be better than nothing at all, right?

I can move forward, even on bad days. Even if I can't do my best, I can make an effort. Even if I don't feel like working on my goals. Even if the weather is lousy. Even if I feel unmotivated. Even if the day before did not go according to plan. 

One phrase that I heard during one of my workout videos a few weeks ago hit home. "If you're tired of starting over, stop quitting!" I am sooo tired of starting over, of having the same goals at the beginning of each year, of starting over in the same (or an even worse) spot every single year. 

January first is the day I claim my choice for a new focus word. I want it to be a word that motivates me toward progression, not necessarily perfection, since I've finally realized the flaw with "all or none" thinking. Adhering to schedules or goals or diets or exercise plans with hopes of doing so perfectly just sets me up for feeling like a failure as soon as I hit a bump in the road.

My focus words these last few years were: connection, intentional, discovery, and brave. I have been bombarded with so many great phrases that would help me, but I needed distill a phrase into a single word that would work. 

To me, there is a word that represents not quitting and not giving up. That word is PERSISTENCE. Maintaining the course, despite the obstacles. Finishing the race, no matter how slow. Sticking to the plan, in spite of how I feel on any given day.

Old me would be all gung-ho on January first, checking things off of my list, but as soon as old me had a bad day, or made a bad choice, or felt like I had let myself down, I would be embarrassed by my failure, and wonder why I even try. Before too long, my resolutions would fade into some vague memory, and then would simply disappear from my thoughts.

Of course, today I'm feeling all gung-ho, just like all of those other years, but my experiences from these last two months have let me know that even when my choices are less than desirable, I don't have to throw in the towel. I can decide right then and there that this is not how the story is going to end. I don't have to play the victim any more because I always have the option of making a new choice at the next opportunity.

I'm fascinated by the concept of focus words, and am always so encouraged by the words my friends choose. Have you considered a motivational word for you for this year? I would love to hear what it is. We can cheer each other on this year. 

If you had to choose one word, what would it be?