I am

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Day 14

Stream of Consciousness with the prompt “I am.”

I am:

A mother, a wife, a daughter. A reader, an activist. I’m a health coach, a library aide. I’m caring. I’m a seeker. A music lover. A patron of the arts. History lover. Admirer of Gretchen Rubin, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Mark Hyman, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Oprah. I am an animal lover. I am pretty, strong and smart. I’m a doer. I have a lot to give and get out. I feel something big. Don’t know what yet. I am a writer. I am an author of books. I am an influencer.

The goal was to just write and let if all flow.

It’s funny what comes out when you are prompted this way. If I was to do it on my own, in my own time, the list would be much longer. I shocked at the amount of things I left out as I am definitely more than this. But I think it’s revealing that this is what came out first. On that particular day. At that particular time. It’s funny to see Gretchen Rubin and Oprah lumped in with Mick, Keith and Freddie! But that’s just where my brain was at the moment. It’s like a little poem of me.

I did feel something in me that needed to get out and it’s this blog. One day I just felt the need to get it out of my body. That’s where the “I have a lot to give and get out” comes from. It’s here and I need to get it out to the world. And I’ve talked about this before, but that wasn’t something I ever wanted to do even a few months prior. I was absolutely cringe when someone would talk about how far I’d come. Whether it was my doctor or a family member. They would start with “remember when you…” and my body would just shut down. I couldn’t and wouldn’t hear it. It was like reliving my pain. And one day that just left me and it was replaced with this sudden need to talk about it all the time and get my story out to the world. Unexplainable to me.

Try it! Share your “I am” free flow in the comments! Thanks for being here!

A New Chapter

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After completing my second Happiness Project, I spent some time listening to Mel Robbins. Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker, who recently started her own talk show. When I found her, she was being interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. A lot of what she says resonates with me and put some things about my life into perspective.

When I thought about what I wanted my life to look like two or three years ahead as she suggests, I saw the following:

Pursue a job that had meaning and purpose

Surround myself with positive, uplifting friends

Be active without pain

Be free of money worries

Become an activist

Substantially increase my reading

Become mindful and optimistic

These were BIG picture goals. If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that ACTION is key to every single change you want to make in your life. Period. The end. You can put up slogans and quotes all day but there is NO MEANING behind them without the work. I see the difference. I would read quotes like “be yourself”. And think “that’s nice, yes, be yourself”. But now it screams at me! Be authentic! Fill your life with what makes you happy! When you are actually feeling the affects of taking action, something like “be yourself” becomes extremely powerful and a huge motivator. These were my new eyes looking at the world.

Mel also talks about using our problems to not take responsibility. Whoa. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I could just hear all the “I can’t’s” coming out of my mouth over the years. She suggests naming the old chapter in your life and then naming your new chapter in your life. So, I decided my old chapter would be called “Fearful, Self-Centered Mona” and my new chapter would be called “Giving, Loving, Brave Mona”. That pretty much sums it up nicely! And a really CLEAR way to see how I was behaving and how I wanted to live going forward.

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I had decided to live in a “growth mindset” from now on. I had a past full of bad experiences that brought me to where I was and in a lot of ways I’m thankful for all the trauma I’d been through recently, because if I hadn’t gone through this I would not have tackled all these other areas in my life. Even if I had resolved my pain issue, I still would have been eating all the wrong foods, drinking, living stressed out, throwing money away, etc. My “why” was abundantly clear. I would have continued with things happening to me, instead of taking control. Mel explains that our mindset is fixed in childhood. I’ve already talked about some of the issues of my childhood and the remnants left on me, but here she wakes me up to the fact that I could be repeating negative self talk all the way back to childhood. Looking back on how much I survived, it’s possible there’s a little post traumatic stress disorder there. I never thought about these episodes carrying over to my adult life, but they certainly do. How many adults are part of the walking wounded? Without any resolution? A lot of us is my guess.

If you want to learn more about Mel Robbins you can find her at http://melrobbins.com. Do you have a name for an old chapter of your life? How about your new chapter? Share them below! And thanks for being here!

Seasons of Life

Day 13

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Happy Days = Happy Life. So simple, but so true. Increasing my every day happiness had become a goal along with everything else I was doing. It also seemed to just happen naturally when I started focusing on the things that would help me grow and heal. Like Gretchen Rubin says, I was “living in an atmosphere of growth.”

Deepak asked what three things I was doing in my life that made me happy. That was easy:

1 Meditation
2 Exercise
3 Reading

My mainstays. I’ve talked about them before. So, what was making me unhappy and stuck in the past (besides the obvious pain issue)? And for me that was worrying about what other people think. And when I say other people, I mean former “friends” who I considered friends, but turns out were not. I had recently made a big change in my life by removing my daughter from an activity and enrolling her elsewhere. This may sound like a small thing, but she had been spending over 20 hours a week with with the same friends and teachers for over 10 years. And that means I became friends with many of the moms as we watched our children grow over the years. When we left, I assumed I would stay friends with most of them, but that was not the case. Turns out when you make a change that is good for you or your family, not everyone is along for the ride. A major change makes people look at themselves. And then can get judgy. For example, sometimes when I tell someone I eat a Paleo diet, they start telling me all the reasons why they could never do that. I certainly didn’t ask. They just are feeling judged by my changes. This unhappiness due to the changes I made didn’t last. I was upset for a time, but now I’ve moved on and realized I have my tribe and I’m all the better for it. Those were not my people. I will say two of these friends stuck with me and we still see each other often. So, after the fallout I was left with the right people and that’s the way it should be.

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Next I was to look forward to the next 5-10 years at what changes that will be made in my life and some positive outcomes of those changes. Here’s what I wrote:

1 Being empty-nesters (good and sad)
2 Downsizing
3 Volunteering more

The idea of being empty nesters is both thrilling and devastating. On the plus side, we will be done paying for college, I will have more time for all the things I enjoy, I won’t be locked into the “school schedule” when making plans, among other things. Then, there is the obvious sadness that comes when your kids leave. Every time my son comes home from college on break and then leaves I am sad all over again. I’m so proud of him and excited for his future, but I can’t help getting teary eyed when I see a little boy and his mom in the library or at the store. It brings back all those memories of me and my son when he was little.

Downsizing! This is something to get excited about. I can’t wait to downsize our home! I’m so looking forward to a cozy space, not the oversized house we have now. Don’t get me wrong, our house is beautiful and for a time it was functional (although excessive). But this house no longer serves our needs. I’m already giddy about having a smaller mortgage or NO mortgage to speak of. It will be life changing and I can’t wait!

And the third positive outcome I see is the ability to volunteer more. I’m very happy with my volunteering life right now. I’m heavily involved in a cause I care about deeply. I devote quite a bit of my time to it. But I can see how I will be able to do more and step into other causes I care about too in the near future.

Have you thought about how you spend your days to make yourself happier? Try the following:

List 3 or 4 things in this current stage of your life that make you happy.

Is there something in your past that is keeping you stuck and unhappy?

List 3 or 4 things that you see making you happy in the next 5 -10 years.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments! Thanks for being here!

Time is Your Creation

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The next few days of my Meditation Experience was focused on our beliefs about time and being in the “flow” of life. Being in the flow was NOT something I did. Ever. I was always projecting into the future, good or bad. I wanted to control the future as much as possible. But really, you cannot control the future. I needed to learn how to accept how my life was going. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go after what I want and make changes, it just meant I needed to learn how to be in the flow and not fight it.

I also needed to learn how to be open and aware. Deepak says we should “Renew and refresh with meditation.” And not only meditation, but using our time more creatively in ways that will give us a little boost or refresh. So, I made a little list of ways I would use my time creatively and give myself a little refreshing in small ways.

Dress with more fun in mind
Exercise class
Learn to sketch

Dressing with more fun in mind was an easy way to give myself a boost! I have always LOVED clothes. I love shopping my own closet and putting together outfits. But now I wanted to change things up a little. I started wearing more mixed prints, I bought brighter colors, I MIXED brighter colors and bought a pair of leopard print shoes! I started getting a few more compliments, so I kept it up. It’s fun, it’s a happiness boost and it’s easy to do. Win, win, win. Second was meditate. That’s a standard that is always there. Third, exercise class. This wasn’t new either, but it made sense to have it there because it was an extremely refreshening way to use my time. And lastly, learn to sketch. For years I wanted to learn to sketch. Mostly because I wanted to sketch the birds I saw at my feeders, but also just because it sounded fun. I bought a simple sketching instruction book and all the supplies I needed. I was so excited! I’m learning something new and being crafty!! I started off strong, but after a month or so I lost interest. I just didn’t have the passion and wasn’t enjoying it. I decided to let this one go. I still would like to learn how to sketch birds. I think that’s what I really wanted to do after all. Not learn how to sketch everything. What I want to do is very specific. A goal for a future date!

In addition to what I wanted to do with my time, I also wrote one thing I wanted to stop using my time for and that was negative friends. Friends with a negative energy bring me down considerably. I’m so hyper aware of everyone’s energy now. I have done so much work to keep myself in the most positive environment possible that when a negative presence arrives I immediately want to get away. There are people that we’re in my life that I had to let go because of their negativity. I just can’t and don’t want to surround myself with that energy anymore. It’s tougher with family, but I heard a little tip one day that you should create an invisible force field around yourself so none of their energy gets to you. I love that visualization. It’s not easy, but it’s one I can practice all the time. No matter whether I’m at work, with family or at an event. I can’t control others, I can only control my response. I refuse to let someone else’s negativity ruin my state of mind anymore!

Are you in control of your time? Are you using your time to refresh? Try the following:

Make a list of 3 or 4 ways you would like to use your time to give yourself a happiness boost or refresh.

List any ways your time is being taken for non productive or negativity.

Follow through to make those changes in your life!

Can’t wait to hear about what changes you made! Thanks for being here!

My Vision Board

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Remember when everyone was doing vision boards after Oprah talked about them back in the day? I remember wanting to do one, but never did. UNTIL 2017. I was in the middle of my Happiness Project and decided a vision board would be a great way for me to have a constant reminder of all the things I wanted to focus on not only for the new year, but my future life.

This was a lot of fun to make! I researched all the things I knew I wanted to focus on and found pictures and quotes to cut out and paste to my board. I also bought some motivational stickers for fun.

As you can see, I started in the top left with New Friends. I already talked about finding my tribe and now I was on a mission to curate that in my life. I look at the people I meet differently now too. I’m only going to talk about this area because I’ve covered all the other areas in previous posts. You can see I chose all the things I had been working on.. courage, meditation, exercise, reading, volunteering, being present and my ABCDE strategy.

New Friends

1 REALIZE YOUR FEAR IS IN YOUR HEAD (It’s not as scary as you think)
2 START WITH PEOPLE YOU KNOW (Reach out to acquaintances, join existing groups, meet friends’ friends, accept social invitations)
3 GET YOURSELF OUT THERE (Join meet-up groups, attend courses, volunteer, go to parties)
4 TAKE THE FIRST STEP (Say hello – It’s about being sociable)
5 BE OPEN (Don’t judge, one an emotional level, open your heart)
6 GET TO KNOW THE PERSON (What does he/she do? What are his/her values? What are his/her passions? Goals? Dreams? What motivates/drives him/her?)
7 CONNECT WITH GENUINELY (Warmth, love and respect build friendship)
8 BE YOURSELF (Don’t’ change yourself for any else)
9 BE THERE FOR THEM (That what friendships about)
10 MAKE THE EFFORT TO STAY IN TOUCH (It takes two to clap)

1 This is most certainly true. It’s not scary at all actually. I’m not a shy person. It’s not that I was afraid to make new friends, I just didn’t want to. I didn’t see the value, so I didn’t bother getting to know new people. I know how awful this sounds. But, I’m being honest. I didn’t realize the RICHNESS that having the RIGHT friends in your life makes all the difference.

2 I did start reaching out to those friends that I already had that I missed and wanted to keep in my life. I started inviting those people to lunch, shows, movies, whatever, just to see them. And in return I said yes when invited to any social function. One thing I really focused on was saying “yes”. I made sure that if I was invited to something, I said yes. Unless there was a good reason, like a scheduling conflict, I went. This changed everything. Just going and doing opens up your world and makes your life so rich. It’s actually shocking when I think back to the amount of times I said no, for no reason whatsoever. I just didn’t want to. Or I wanted to and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I’ll admit sometimes I’ll have a commitment and think “I really don’t feel like doing this.” But, I’m ALWAYS glad I did. I’m usually energized and sometimes I meet new people that I adore, which is the whole point isn’t it?

3 I took this one to heart. I dove into my volunteer groups. Some stuck and some didn’t. That’s ok because the ones that stuck have brought so much to my life. And I’m always on the look out for meet-up groups. I recently joined a local ladies hiking group!

4 This was not a reach for me. I was already doing this.

5 I feel like I was already pretty open. The difference now is that I was authentic.

6 Because I’m so aware of this goal of mine to build my tribe, when I meet someone new I hear myself asking a ton of questions. I NEVER used to do that. I would be polite and if I did find myself having a good time with someone, I typically just told stories about myself as much as possible. My ego was definitely in charge! Well, now I ask a lot of questions to get to know people well, quickly. This is a realization I had recently. Once you start getting to know someone by asking questions and being interested in their life, I find that I’m suddenly making plans with people I literally met that day! Yay! What a happiness boost that is! Or if I’m talking to someone I know fairly well and we both realize we have something in common I now immediately suggest an outing together. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve done this and it’s resulted in the most fun days and experiences. And not only with new friends but old ones too.

7 I check in on my friends more often now. If I’m thinking of them I’ll send a quick text to see how they are doing, try to make plans and just generally let them know I’m thinking of them.

8 This was a big lesson for me. I was pretty good at morphing into whatever I need to be (or thought I needed to be) in a social situation. Most of the time, I kept my views to myself so I didn’t offend anyone. I did this for years. Someone would be going off about something I completely disagreed with and I would not say anything because I thought that’s the “polite” thing to do. I’m not saying I’m rude now, but I do speak my mind. I don’t hide from how I feel. I put it all out there and then people can decide for themselves if they are willing to have an honest and intelligent conversation. No one is better at explaining the importance of this better than Brene Brown. You can check her out here. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr3XIBco3u_O3RZGLeWaFPyZ6WhL8v86D

9 I try to be there for my friends when they need help. I offer more often than I used to. I make a point of checking in if I know they are struggling with something. Offering rides, time to chat or offering words of support. It makes a difference.

10 I actually schedule “keeping in touch” on my calendar. I have a running list of people that I want to connect with and this is a little reminder to get in touch with them before too much time goes by.

All of these steps having enriched my life. I’ve made some really good friends this year. I’m more social than ever and it truly is a happiness boost. Remember back on my Good Mental Health list was “Friendship”. These smaller steps are helping me reach my overall larger goal of health and wellness to in part, retrain my brain (see previous posts) and two, build coping skills to attain that goal.

Have you curated a tribe of friends that support you, that you are completely authentic with and that gives you energy, not drains your energy? Try some of the steps above for yourself and let me know how it goes!

Time to Read

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My last resolution was bringing back one of my favorite things to do which was reading. Reading had been put on the back burner because of my neck issues. Anytime I sat down to read for more than a few minutes, my neck would flare up. This was extremely depressing. It was one more thing taken from me during this time. And something that gave me so much joy. I knew I had to start slowly, like everything else. My resolution looked like this:


My Quotation: “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy books and that’s kind of the same thing.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Read in the morning
Take my book everywhere
Set goals
Schedule reading into my calendar

Let me start by saying I’ve ALWAYS loved to read. Since childhood. I went through phases when I read less (my teens and new motherhood for example) but the love was always there. There’s nothing like getting deeply lost in a book. It really made me dislike movies for awhile. You can get so deep into a character’s thoughts, that movies just seemed so superficial. But, I can respect them now as an artform. I’m just very selective about what I see and I tend to lean towards documentaries.

Reading in the morning when it’s quiet and no one else is up is one of the best parts of my day. I have my tea, I run through my phone to make sure nothing major is going on, I meditate and then, I read. Sometimes, that morning reading time is the only chance I get all day to read, other times I can pick up my book again and again. As long as I always read in the morning, I know I will get some reading time in no matter what the day has in store for me.

Having a book with me at all times results in a much better use of my time than scrolling around mindlessly on my phone. For example, I will read when I am waiting at an appointment, sitting at the car wash or just about anywhere. I just throw it into my bag before I leave for wherever I’m going that day.

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I set reading goals two ways. I use the Goodreads app to track all of the books I’ve read. I also use it to set my yearly reading goals. My yearly goal for many years was 20. And a lot of times I didn’t hit that. But once I had more specific goals and most importantly stopped watching TV almost altogether, that’s when the real progress came. My yearly goal last year was 50 and I went a little over so this year I set it for 60 and currently I’ve past that goal by 10! Back to TV. Ok, I learned a little something from Laura VanderKam about time management. If you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend it. https://www.amazon.com/dp/159184410X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_RdxXDbKE9CRFTTV is a BIG time killer. All the things we think we don’t have time to do, can probably be done with the elimination of or the scheduling of TV watching. The first thing I did was stop TV as background noise. If I’m doing chores at home, I will have an audio book playing or a podcast. Both of which I enjoy so much more than TV. There ARE shows I do like! I record them, then I schedule time on my calendar once or twice a week to watch them. That’s it. No more hours and hours of whatever is on. My TV watching is PURPOSEFUL. This is a real game changer for time management. It’s allowed me to complete my online health coaching certification without any disruption to my life. It’s also allowed me to write this book! I’ve taken on many, many activities since my second happiness project, and I’m asked all the time how I have the energy and time to do everything I’m doing. And there’s a few reasons. One, of course is scheduling TV watching, two, I’m an Upholder as I’ve said before, so when I decide to do something, I jump in and do it, and three, I’m a planner. I love my calendar and I absolutely love filling it up with all my goals and to-do’s!

The second reading goal I set was new to me in the last year or so. And when I mentioned it to my daughter she said “That’s how we do it in school!” I honestly don’t know where I picked up this tip, but it’s been very helpful in moving my reading along. I don’t set an amount of TIME to read, I set a page number goal. For example, I used to jot down that I would read for 30 minutes or an hour in my calendar for reading. Sometimes I would complete that time and sometimes I wouldn’t. But, when I changed the goal to “read 50 (or 100) pages” I always completed it. It didn’t matter how long it took to complete. When I made this change I started flying through books. Usually, I have a fiction and nonfiction book going at the same time. In addition, I also have a audio book I’m listening to as well. So, together, three books at once. This is how I hit my reading goals. I have an extremely long “to be read” list! And did I mention I work part time in a LIBRARY. Ahhh, surrounded by books that are calling my name and discovering books I may never have seeked out on my own. This is a huge happiness boost!

And my neck has becoming accustom to reading again. I will admit that I no longer have day long marathon reading days, that to be honest, I miss that. But I know that I would pay the price with neck pain if I read for entire day. It’s all about making it work. What I have set up for myself is working and has increased my happiness and that was the goal to start with!

Do you want to read more? Try the following:

Visit your local library. Libraries are WONDERFUL! So many books for you to choose from. Visit your local libraries website for all the ebooks and audio books to choose from. There truly is NO REASON to buy an audio book. I will still buy books if I know I’m going to have that book signed my the author (which I do often). Otherwise, everything else is from the library.

Try reading in the morning before your day gets going. If time is tight in the morning consider waking up 30 minutes early to fit it in.

Set your own personal goals. I’ll go back to Gretchen Rubin here and suggest you know your personality type. That will help you build your habits in the way that will work for your personality.

Let me know how it goes? What are you reading? Thanks for being here!

My Happiness Project Round 2

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In one of my previous posts I talked about finding strategies for good mental health. One of them if you remember, was Learn to Be at Peace with Yourself. That really caught my attention and was very different from the other strategies. It went on to say “Get to know who you are, what makes you really happy and learn to balance what you can and cannot change about yourself.” This was aha moment for me. Immediately, out of nowhere, I remembered that eight years earlier I had done a Happiness Project after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. I ran to my bookshelf for it and there it was. Just waiting for me. The goal of The Happiness Project is the same as the strategy I was working on. Get to know who you are and what makes you happy! In addition to finding what truly makes you happy the other side of that is to STOP with all the things that other people find fun and you don’t. For me, I don’t find any of the of following fun; Skiing or any cold weather activity, watching sports, and more recently drinking alcohol (gasp!) and going out to eat. One of the big lessons of that book was just because someone else finds something fun doesn’t mean I have to. I don’t let people talk me into things I know I won’t enjoy. That doesn’t mean I don’t try new things. I just am way more in touch with myself. I know now what I consider fun and honestly, I’ve always known, but now I’m being AUTHENTIC. I love going to concerts and music in general, I love reading, cooking, planning, hot sunny weather, fitness and exercise, going to museums, and the arts in general. There’s more but those are the big ones. And guess what, not everyone will find those things fun either and that’s ok. It’s all about knowing what makes you happy and doing that. Years ago, when The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin was first published I jumped right in. I was 39 years old, loved the book and thought “that looks fun”. Fast forward to 2017, I’m 47 years old and a mess and looking at another Happiness Project for completely different reasons. So, this Learn to Be at Peace with Yourself strategy struck a cord immediately. In my wellness notebook I wrote next to it “Consider doing another happiness project?” And that’s what I did.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, I suggest giving it a read whether you choose to do the project or not. You can find it here. https://amzn.to/2LwcApU Basically once you come up with your resolutions, you choose a quote to keep you motivated and then break the resolution down into actions you will do daily or weekly, for the entire month. My first Resolution, which I started in November of 2017 (again, so thankful for my journaling) looked like this:

This Month’s Resolution: Conquer Fears (take control)

My quotation: “Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen”

Daily/Weekly Actions

Take timed walks

Progress with different shoes

Take timed baths


Rebute Fears in Writing (see previous post on ABCDE model)

Get back on my Computer

Taking timed walks and rebuting my fears in writing I’ve talked about already. So, you know where I was headed on those resolutions. Let’s talk about the shoes! Ah, the shoes! I only wore one pair for at least for a year and a half. I’m sure you can guess why! Fear that any other shoes would hurt my back! I couldn’t even wear what you would call regular athletic shoes. All the technology going on in the bed of shoe would throw my neck out of whack. I still don’t wear them. I’ll admit I’m not wearing heels (yet!) but I wear whatever flats I want. This may seem small and trivial to you, but to me it was a REAL fear. I was afraid of more pain. Period. So, retraining my brain was the goal.

For the next few weeks I will continue to post more about my second Happiness Project going month by month. Hope you will join me!

Have you done a Happiness Project? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below! Thanks for being here!

Starting to Find Myself and My Tribe

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My first day of exercise class at my therapy center went like this. I walk towards the room and was met by another lady, beautiful, older than me, but just so elegant. She asked if it was my first class and what my issues were (because you would not be exercising there if you DID NOT have issues of some kind). As soon as I began to explain my story the tears started. I was so drained at this point. I had been in physical therapy for over a year. I HAD made progress. I was driving myself to class, that alone was huge. But the pain was still everywhere and unbearable. I had tried one-on-one training, but looking back now, I can see I wasn’t ready for that. This class was my last shot. Everyone in the class, at that time, was older than me. But as I joked, my doctor said I have the spine of a 70 year old, so I fit right in. Everyone was very warm, the trainer was full of energy. She was 10 years YOUNGER than me and easily the strongest woman I have ever met.

This class and these women became my source of strength for the next two years. They understood how I was feeling, for the most part and it felt so good to talk to others with similar issues. All of them had improved in the program. So, I started. In the beginning, EVERYTHING was difficult. Do you know we start losing muscle strength after just a week of not using them? It had been a least a year and half for me at that point since I had exercised and I hadn’t even lifted my arms over my head in that long either. Let me say also I was not an exercise class type person. I always exercised but usually I would walk outside or use DVD’s in my house. I had a nice little set up in our basement where I had a DVD player and TV, all my weights, everything I needed. I thought. Here’s what I learned. Form is incredibly important. I didn’t know how important. In this class I learned the CORRECT way to exercise as to not hurt my back and neck further or cause any future problems. God only knows what kind of form I had on my own. Not correct I can tell you that. AND when I had started running, I for sure had poor form. All of that leads to trouble. So, the first few months was just getting through class. I started realizing my pain subsided substantially after class. I always left feeling better. It was a combination of working my body AND the environment. These ladies were smart, caring, kind and confident. And I felt safe there. If I was to start a program at home at that time I would have freaked out every time something hurt. But my trainer would just talk me through all those moments, let me know what was normal and what needed to be modified.

These women were readers, volunteers, teachers, world travelers, mothers and grandmothers. They had similar interests as me, like going to the ballet, museum exhibits, art shows and concerts. And later on more women my age joined and they also were such interesting people. We all became so close. We understood each other’s struggles. But these women were different from my other friends in such that there were no taboo subjects. We just talked. Openly and honestly about everything. From whatever was going on in the news, to family issues, religion, you name it. No one held back and it was fantastic. I loved these women! It’s so freeing to have uncensored conversations and no worry about offending someone. If you disagree you move on. There’s no hiding or not speaking your mind. AHHH, I loved it. And it made me realize that I didn’t have these kind of people in my life before now. I was curating my tribe before I knew I needed to do it. That would come later when I started really working on myself. I’m not blaming anyone. It was me that would hold back. I have A LOT to say and I’m a highly emotional person. And that’s not a bad thing, unless you feel like the minority all the time. I wasn’t with the right people. I think as moms we don’t always choose our own friends. At least this was true for me. I hung out with my kid’s friend’s parents. For years and years. And I truly liked most of them. We would get drinks, go to lunch, etc. But were these my people? No. It was superficial. I was superficial. There was a lot missing. It took me needing REAL friendship and these women showing up in my life at just the right time. I was so beaten down and fragile at this point. Just one of them asking “how are you today?” would send me into tears. Because my life was not normal at that point and they understood that better than anyone else did at that time and they actually listened. I needed that so badly.

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I’ve learned since then, and I will get into this more in depth later, that our social time with others is extremely important to our health.  It is known now to be MORE important to our longevity than exercise or diet!! Don’t be an isolationist!  It’s not good for you.  Read more about that here. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/relationships-boost-survival/

By the end of the first year I was feeling so much better. I was doing more on my own, I was starting to go out to enjoy things again, but I still had pain, quite a bit of pain that was hanging on. Next week I will talk about the HUGE change that happens the second year and how it came about thanks to some incredible insight by my trainer. You can find my trainer, Carrie here https://pnxsolutions.com/

For this week I ask that you look at your own exercise routine.  First, are you exercising at all? Do you feel like you are using correct form in what you are doing?  Are you exercising alone? Do you want the support of a group?  Try the following;

If exercise is new to you, try walking.  Just a few minutes a day to start and then add on a little more time every day.

Try working with a personal trainer, just one time even to have them look at everything you are doing. It’s so important to have those eyes on you to prevent-injury.

Take a group class of some sort. There is SO MUCH out there! And it doesn’t at all need to be expensive. Look at your local recreation centers. Locally I can pay $6 for a day of whatever classes I want and access to all the machines. Quite a deal. Just make sure you like the instructor and they are watching for good form. Not all instructors are created equal. I promise the boost you will get from the people in the group is priceless. And if you don’t, those aren’t your people. Keep trying different groups until you hit on the one.

As always Id love to hear from you!! Comment below  and thanks for being here!