Sometimes you end your work week with a fancy dinner with your partner.
Sometimes you end it wirh drinks with friends.
Sometimes you end it with a cozy night at home with family.
Sometimes you end it with tears and a glass of wine in a bathtub.
Sometimes you just need to send a rough week off with something that allows you to reset, recenter, and refocus yourself.
Tonight I’m saying peace out to this week by spending some quality time alone in a somewhat empty gym. Just me and my newest friend - the hack squat machine.
Here’s to hoping you are honoring all your hard work this week and giving yourself permission to focus on yourself for a bit too.
Have you seen the video that is making the rounds again about Lobo the Siberian Husky at the Westminster Dog show?
The video is over 3 years old but it just made its way to me this morning and let me tell you, I have never identified with a dog so much in my life.
Right now a lot of us probably see ourselves in Lobo.
You see, Lobo trained hard for the competition.
He practiced and practiced.
He ran through the course ahead of time and knew what was expected of him.
He was pretty confident and skilled.
He was ready for the task.
Then he showed up to the competition day and well, let's just say it wasn't his best performance.
He made mistakes.
He was distracted.
He was too slow.
He was too cautious.
He was disinterested.
He needed some redirection.
But, Lobo made it through and finished it.
Sure, he didn't win any medals or trophies, but he still finished it.
And you know what, the crowd still loved him.
He didn't need to be perfect.
He didn't need to be the fastest.
He didn't need to be the winner.
He just showed up as his imperfect self and did ok.
And, it was enough.
So, maybe sometimes it's ok to embrace your inner Lobo.
Maybe sometimes it's ok to just not do your best as long as you still get the thing done.
Maybe sometimes its ok to take the long, slow, leisurely path through your course rather than trying to be the best and the fastest and the most precise.
Because at the end of it all, people will still be there cheering you on - and appreciating you - whether you are the top dog or you are just a regular dog like Lobo.
It’s so easy to move through your week feeling invisible.
Feeling like maybe what you are doing doesn’t matter.
Feeling like no one is really noticing you.
Feeling like some things are pointless.
Day after day you just keep going - tackling your to do list, taking care of others, eyes fixed on some point of hope on the horizon.
But my friends, I promise you someone notices.
Someone, somewhere pays attention.
Someone, somewhere sees your efforts.
Someone, somewhere is motivated by you.
Someone, somewhere keeps going because they see that you keep going.
Someone, somewhere worries when you are missing from the mundane routines of your life.
Just because they may not say it, someone, somewhere is thankful that you are here.
So keep going.
You are making a difference.
Your presence creates lasting ripples that are felt more than you could know.
And someone, somewhere will one day tell you just how much you have meant to them.
Maybe today is a good day for you to be that someone, somewhere for someone else too
I’ve lost count how many days this week have been gray, rainy, and raw - just like I’ve lost count how many days now I have woken with similar weather in my heart and in my brain.
Today I woke with hope in my heart that the sun would make its appearance and start to warm up all the cold
The coldness was still there - inside and out.
I took a deep breath in and focused my ears to see if I could hear even a faint whisper of hope from some brave little bird announcing that things would soon be better.
All I could hear was the sadness and the rain.
I closed my eyes and steadied my thoughts to try to find the good in the world - the good that always exists even in the bleakest of times. But as soon as I picked up my phone and took stock of the state of things, the good started fading away. I tried to hold tightly and will it to stay.
The negativity rang louder than the positivity just like most other days lately.
And so, instead I did the things that often counteract the world when it is gray and cold and drowning me.
I tried to protect myself from the stormy elements - inside and out. Like an umbrella protecting me from the rain, I turned inward and hoped it would be enough to help me avoid the words and weather that would sting me.
Like side swept rain which is no match for even the biggest umbrella, the storm found me anyways.
I enveloped myself in things that usually make me feel warm and safe, like weather proof boots and a warm rain jacket. I tried to rely on external comforts to make me feel full and strong enough to withstand the storm.
I still felt weak and powerless and cold.
I decided all I could was my best.
I could do my best to stay standing.
I could do my best to not let myself break completely.
I could do my best to hang on to at least a tiny shred of hope.
I could do my best to believe that at some point the sadness and hopelessness and frustration and coldness will pass.
I could do my best to just keep going.
And so, I did.
Because I know eventually the clouds will run out of rain and the ugliness will move on again.
And eventually, the sun and the warmth and light and hope that come with it will return.
It always will.
Recently I traveled out of state with my husband for a work conference. One night as we were about to head out to an event, I realized that the tags on one of my new shirts was bothering me. I needed to fix it or it was going to drive me bananas all evening.
Since I hadn’t packed any scissors, I thought I would just rip the tag off - but, I couldn’t. The tag was too strong to rip so easily.
So, I took out my trusty sharp tweezers and started pulling the tag out by releasing some of the stitches. Like magic, that tag started to fray and fall apart in just a few moments.
All it needed was to just be weakened a bit.
As we stood waiting for the elevator, I realized that we are all just like that tag.
Usually we are strong and can withstand the things that get thrown our way.
But, it’s those little blows that start to weaken us.
It’s those little hurts that make our own edges start to fray.
It’s those small pains that break us down.
It’s one small thing after another until eventually we can’t withstand the big stuff anymore and we fall apart completely.
So, maybe it's time to take stock of our lives right now.
What are the little things that are weakening you?
What are the little things that are fraying your edges?
What small changes can you make to prevent life's sharp tweezers from pulling at your final thread?
One of the hard truths of life is this - sometimes you will not reach your goal.
You will be focused.
You will want it badly.
You will do everything in your power to get there.
It will be right there in front of you.
And it will slip through your fingers.
Because sometimes your best just won’t be enough.
Maybe the goal will be unrealistic.
Maybe the circumstances will be unfair.
Maybe it will just be beyond your control.
Whatever the reason, there will come a day when you won’t reach that goal that is so important to you -
and it will crush you.
It will break your heart.
It will make you feel defeated.
But you have to remember this - it won’t matter.
Because you are far more than one moment in time.
Because that one goal won’t define you.
What will define you will be your ability to shake it off, learn from it, and decide to keep moving forward anyways.
And that will matter far more than any goal ever could.
The other night I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when a post caught my eye.
The post talked about how despite it being summer weather still for the author, it was September and so she was going to lean all the way in to all things Autumn.
"Good for you!" I silently cheered as I read the post.
But, then I kept reading and quickly found myself shaking my head.
The author went on to state how September and October are for fall things, November is only for Thanksgiving things, and Christmas things can't be celebrated or acknowledged until December 1st.
It was a rule, she said.
Listen folks, none of us need that kind of negative energy in our life.
If you want to decorate your house for fall on June 1st, go for it.
If you want to wait to decorate for Christmas until December 10th, go for it.
Life is too short, too stressful, too structured, and too messy to put stringent parameters around the things that make us happy and bring us joy.
So, do what makes you happy and let others do what makes them happy. Your neighbor's Christmas tree in October or your online friend's pumpkin throw blanket in July really don't impact you or your own happiness.
You don't need anyone else's permission to go ahead and lean in to fall right now, or dive head first back in to summer, or pull those Christmas lights out of the attic, or even go ahead and put out some red and pink hearts for Valentine's day.
Live your life.
Find your happy.
Let others do the same.
“Oh look. Superwoman is back.”
I could barely make out the sound over the workout music blasting in my headphones but as I turned to find the source of the muffled words, I realized they had been directed at me.
I locked eyes with the elderly woman beside me and reached up to click the headphone sound off so I could clarify what she had said.
I could feel the defensiveness starting to rise in my chest.
She motioned to the weight stack on the leg machine I was using and said “you’re like a superwoman. How can you do weights that heavy?”
She sat down at the machine beside me, adjusted the weights, and pointed at her own weight stack sighing “I can barely do this little bit and you did all that the other day.”
Suddenly everything shifted into focus.
I realized that I had misread this woman a few days earlier when she had been waiting for one of the machines I was using. Her exasperated sighs that day hadn’t been about me taking too long or being too sweaty or using a machine she wanted. They were because she felt badly about her limitations.
She had been in her own head, beating herself up with negative self talk.
She had no way of knowing that just a few minutes earlier I was feeling exasperated with my own limitations too and was convinced that she was repulsed and irritated by me.
With my newfound insight, I leaned over to her and whispered, “You’re a superwoman too, you know. Just being here is hard.”
She softened, smiled, and did a set on her machine before taking a deep breath.
“You know,” she said, “I’m actually recovering from a stroke and a triple bypass. I’m trying to get back to being healthy.”
Talk about a superwoman, right?
We spent the next few minutes chatting in-between sets as each of us completed our own superwomanly workout and shared some of the struggles of our lives - her looking back wistfully at my current stage of life and me looking forward in awe at hers.
As we parted ways, I couldn’t help but be moved by the irony of our shared experiences with self doubt and negative self talk.
Both of us had dragged ourselves to the gym on a Monday morning, feeling badly about ourselves and envious of the other women around us.
Women we thought were stronger,
and overall, better.
We had looked around us and saw a bunch of superwomen and in the mirror only saw a fraud.
But, for those few moments today both of us seemed to realize that maybe we did have a little bit of a superwoman in us.
Because there is a superwoman in all of us - fighting our own demons, pushing through our own challenges, and fighting towards our own goals.
Maybe it’s time to stop beating ourselves up and start lifting ourselves up instead.
And maybe as we start to lift ourselves up, we could also lift up our gaze and make connections with the other superwomen around us.
Because they are everywhere.
Five simple letters.
One complicated word.
For many of us, shame has been a constant companion for as long as we can remember.
It has been the thing we try to avoid at all costs.
You probably know the feeling.
Something or someone reminds you of some mistake from your past and suddenly shame washes over you, turning your stomach into knots, leaving your cheeks red with embarrassment, and making the air around you thick with regret.
When it hits, you want to run away, wash the feeling away, hide from the world until it is gone.
But, maybe some of that shame is misplaced.
I’ve carried shame around with me tied to so many mistakes I’ve made and one in particular hit me like a ton of bricks the other day.
All at once I was back there — remembering what it was like to be a teenager caught making a mistake.
Until last week if you had asked me about that day, I would have felt nothing but shame --
because that’s how I was told I should feel about it.
And so the teenage version of me all those years ago filed that experience away as something about which I should feel deep shame — until last week when I looked at the incident through the eyes of someone who is now parenting teenagers.
Yet again my perspective on life shifted as I settled into another new phase of parenting.
It turns out the shame was wrong.
The shame was misplaced.
The shame had no purpose other than to make me feel badly about myself and keep me tethered to an impossible quest for perfection.
And for the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to re-evaluate the feeling of shame.
Listen friend, just because someone tries to give you the label of shame or just because a younger version of yourself accepts that shame, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it.
You can always re-evaluate.
You can always choose to peel yourself out of the shame, release yourself from its thick grasp, and step forward into a forgiving space — a space where mistakes don’t have to equal shame and embarrassment.
And so I stepped out of the weighty prison of shame and left it behind.
What if you gave yourself permission to release some of the shame you’ve been carrying around?
Recently we got to sneak away to New Hampshire with family.
We were excited for some fun in the sun but the weather didn’t seem to care about our outdoor plans. Instead, we saw lots and lots of rain. Lots.
So, we spent a lot of time playing board games, watching movies, and doing multiple 300–1000 piece puzzles.
As I watched our family of 10 in their puzzle process, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the puzzles and life.
A couple of us would start a puzzle and together we’d sort through the edges and inside pieces. Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we sat in silence. As people got tired, they’d simply walk away from the table. No one yelled for them to come back when they left and no one felt hurt when others needed a break. Sometimes someone else would jump right in to take their place and pick up where they left off. Sometimes the seat would stay empty for a bit. Sometimes we’d realize that one of us was sharper at night and one of us was sharper in the morning. Sometimes we’d realize that one of us was better at finding the edges and one of us was better at finding sections that fit together. Sometimes we’d realize that someone with fresh eyes was needed.
Somehow, without fighting, without strategizing, and without giving up, we worked together to finish those puzzles.
And that’s the key to life right?
We need to work together with our people to solve the problems in front of us.
Because life has a funny way of not going our way.
Sometimes our people need to walk away from our puzzle for a bit. Sometimes someone is there to jump right in. Sometimes things feel quiet and there’s no progress for a bit. Sometimes some people are better equipped than others. But eventually, piece by piece, things get figured out and put together in the right way.
And a 1000 piece puzzle, just like life, is always easier when you have support.
And life, just like a 1000 piece puzzle, can benefit from trusting in the people on your team.
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.